El Nido A Snorkeling Paradise + A Few Things You Probably Need To Know

El Nido was one nice little surprise! We booked an extended weekend get away on the famous Philippines island of Palawan without much research I must admit. For those who came across my previous posts 5 days in paradise & 2 potential cyclones this comes with no surprise as I’m quite the last minute traveler, and planning is definitely not my forte! I did hear from friends that Palawan was beautiful, but let’s say that I did not expect just how breath taking the undisturbed lagoons and private beaches would be. No wonder it was voted #3 in Condé Nast Traveler out of 25 best island beaches for swimming and snorkeling!

We stayed 4 nights and roughly 4 days (minus the travel time), which was just enough time for me! We booked 2 almost full day tours and spend our free time exploring nearby beaches.

For the tours there are 4 main ones: A, B, C & D! Easy to remember right! A was the most popular one (and probably the most instagrammed one too :P) so we opted for this tour on our first day. The big and small lagoons were beautiful, and we did some snorkeling in between, which was nice. However, what really took us by surprise was the tour C. (We decided on the tour C, because it was the one recommended from Lonely Planet, and friends.) The scenery was as breath taking as in tour A, but it was a lot quieter.The water was so clear and the islands close to virgin! We had the chance to see from pretty close coral, fish and starfish of all shapes and colors. We were lucky and came across a family of Nemo (clown fish) and bumped into a couple sea turtles. Simply amazing. Note that a lot of snorkeling spots were in pretty shallow water, so for the ones who don’t feel comfortable hanging out too long in deep water, it’s perfect too!

In the area of El Nido

There are a few beautiful beaches accessible 10-15 mins in tricycle (cost around 100-150 pesos, depending on your luck or negotiation skill :P)! We went to Las Cabañas. There are a number of really nice beach bars and restaurants with swings instead of stools, and there are a number of relax beach activities like kayaking and paddle. You can walk all the way to the Las Cabañas beach resort on the far end, end from there you have access by foot to Depeldet Island, where you can do zip lining.

Private beach dining

Although there are a number of cute restaurants, and cute restaurants on the beach, if you feel in the mood for some memorable romance, you can book a private beach dinner. A private boat will come pick you up right before sunset and take you to an island with a private beach, where you and your love one can enjoy a romantic dinner surrounded by candles on the beach. You won’t find those in travel tours or online bookings, but your resort will know. What you need to do: contact your hotel or resort and they will help you organise a nice evening. You will be able to pay either online or either cash when you get there!

A few other things you need to know

Before you go on ad plan your next beach escape, snorkeling tours and the private romantic dinners, here are a few things you need to know before going to El Nido!

1. El Nido is not cheap. Compared to Cebu and other areas in the Philippines, El Nido is a mainly touristic place. You would roughly need to prepare extra budget. The ride from the airport cost 350 pesos, any main course will cost around 300 pesos (a full meal – starter, wine desserts would cost around 1000 per person). Lunch is inclueded in the tours, but there are a number of extras for the activities, 400 if you want to kayak and 80 for a beer 50 – 70 for a coconut.

2. The other thing is there is about 1 ATM in the whole area, and most places only accept cash, so make you come prepared. If you do run out of cash, and the ATM is empty (which happens fairly often apparently), here’s a work around: a lot of the spas and tours will accept car payment with a 7% charge, and you can negotiate to get cash back when you pay for your tour/or massage. You can get 2000-5000 (which would last you 1-2 days comfortable) depending on their available cash on hand.

3. People live on island time, which means be patient. A tour starting at 9am might very well start at 10am and a private boat coming to pick you up at your resort at 6pm might just mean whenever the captain can, which is 7:15pm. But hey when this happens just remember you’re on holidays and in one of the most paradisiac place on earth! Lucky you!

4. Ecological tax is a 200 peso tax you need to pay if you want to do island hoping, and will last for 10 days. The only thing is you need to make sure to get the receipt or the number the first time (we didn’t know for our first tour.. don’t make the same mistakes as us!)

5. Medical, there are no pharmacies and not hospitals close, nothing will probably happen, but it’s worth bringing some ointment and over the counter painkillers.

6. Buy a waterproof bag before going on a tour, it’s necessary and you can find it pretty much everywhere in every size!

– xoxo –

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I Traded All My Skin Care Products for Aloe Vera for a Week and It Was Effing Refreshing!

How this came about?

Well like an amateur I only applied sunscreen on my face and neck and forgot to extend it to other parts of my body, and stayed in the sun for a very long time between 11 am and 4 pm! No need to describe the state of my skin at the end of that day. As I was generously layering aloe vera gel on my arms and part of my neck which was not properly covered, I thought how moisturizing and soothing this was. And this is all Natural (at least 95% of it)! So I thought what if I try as my only skin care for a week?

Note: I have mixed, and oily skin; aloe vera would probably be better used as a base with your usual last step moisturizer.

What did I do for a week?

I used only aloe vera on my face and neck (it goes without say cleaned skin) twice a day – night and morning. For dryer patch area I waited until the gel was absorbed and applied a second layer. I still wore light makeup – bb cream and light mineral-based blush.

What did I get in return?

The first couple of days my T zone were much less oily than before, and I felt like my skin was lighter and breathing (by lighter I mean not clogged and overloaded with product, like when you just came out of a sauna:).

I had my reservations about the dry patches on my chin and lower cheeks but kept to my week regime. Surprisingly after the week, the drier part actually evened out and was much closer to normal skin.

Overall my skin actually evened out, the oily T zone calmed down with sebum overproduction, and the dry areas less tight and the redness and itchiness were gone! Really not bad for a USD7 per jar skin care!

My take?

This past week has been sooo effing refreshing! My skin feels plumped and breathable for the first time in a very long while. I decided to keep the regime for the summer for as a night care. As for my day care, I stopped using all moisturizers and only kept the serums.

I used the Dermal Korea 95% Aleo Vera Gel you can find it on Amazon for approximately US$7.5, but there are as many as great alternatives for around the same price!

Let me know what you think!

– xoxo –

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48 Hours in Tokyo

I’ve always dreamed of traveling to Japan, and Tokyo was the classic place to start!

As you probably know, there’s no one more last minute than me when it comes to booking a holiday, however, I really wanted to experience the cherry blossoms, so this time it needed a little bit of coordination. On top of not excelling at planning, I usually also do not like to have a very charged and pre-laid out schedule (I like to wander around, and let the local culture I encounter guide me, which has always taken me to amazing places :). However, what you need to know is that Tokyo is a very big city and Taxis are the most expensive in the world. We only had 4 full days in the city and wanted to make the most of it, so I agreed to some planning! 2 days on a schedule to be exact!

Here’s my recommendation for 48 hours in Tokyo and how to make most of the touristic must!

First 24 Hours

  • Tsukiji Fish Market: We really wanted to see this legendary fish market, where the world’s best Tuna are auctioned, but what we didn’t know is that there is an extension of the market where you have small sushi restaurants and various other fresh Japanese product for sale. We already grabbed breakfast at the hotel, which was honestly very good (we stayed at Hotel The Celestine), but I would recommend holding your hunger a bit and have your breakfast at the market before walking around the endless display of fresh products from the sea.
  • Midori Sushi Ginza: This place came highly recommended from a friend who has been living in Tokyo for a couple of years (trip advisor link here). There’s usually a 30 min to 1hour waiting queue, but it’s worth the wait! The area is busy and the new Godzilla Statue is located 5 mins walking from the restaurant, so you can explore during the queuing time.
  • Imperial Palace: The area around Chiyoda is absolutely beautiful, and it’s perfect for a digestif walk! If you are in season you’ll be able to catch the magnificent Sakura (cherry blossoms), otherwise, the area is still very impressive with century-old trees all around. You can rent a little boat, and ride around the palace. I’m not sure if this was romantic, but it was definitely fun!
  • Orchard Bar Ginza: This also came as a recommendation, and the cocktails are absolutely amazing!

To 48 Hours

  • Mochi for breakfastOiwake Dango: Mochis are made of sticky rice filled with all kind of sweet paste, green tea, strawberry, red bean, etc.) If you have never tasted it, it’s a must! It does taste a bit sticky and strange at first, but it gets really addicting! You can also take a few to go to enjoy for the next stop!
  • Shinjuku Park: One of the prettiest park I’ve had the chance to stroll around! If you’re in the park for the sakura season, the view is absolutely mesmerizing! Note that there is an entry fee and the park closes at 5 pm*
  • T’s Tantan – Vegan Ramen: This place was absolutely delicious! I’m usually not the biggest ramen fan, as I don’t each much pork and I try to trade as many products for an animal-free alternative. I had the black sesame base and drank every drop of soup from that bowl! Yummy! Note, it’s not the easiest place to find as it’s located in Tokyo station, but Japanese people are very nice and we asked the shops around and they were very happy to point us towards the restaurant 🙂
  • Shopping in Shibuya: You’ve most probably heard or seen in documentaries and movie the Shibuya crossing. It’s a bit underwhelming,  but it was a Tokyo Must! The energy was quite vibrant and did some shopping in the quite fun boutiques, which was very nice! We ended the day with a nice cold Asahi! Happy day!

I can definitely see why Tokyo is one of the world’s most coveted cities to travel in the world! Absolutely recommend, and i think the cherry blossoms are worth the planning!

– xoxo –

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March Beauty Coup de Coeur – Eye Mask For A Lushy Look

I pulled quite a number of consecutive late nights at the office and it seemed to have left a permanent tired look on me. Desperate for a solution that will give me that just out of bed fresh grad gaze again I picked up the Eye Contour Mask from Sisleyor can I say their very competent sales associate picked me up when I was casually strolling around their shop, and I must say: Thank god for that!

Why I love this mask so much:

  • No need to wash – Yes that’s right! Leave for 10 mins, wipe off and you’re good to go!
  • The gel mask leaves the skin around your eyes smooth and you can easily top up with your face cream and makeup directly, which really, gives me no excuse not to use it!

The Sisley shop is very happy to hand a sample for you to try! Let me know what you think! I’ve been recommending this to all of my colleagues (female and male! That’s right) and all of them absolutely love it! The only downsides are that you should only use it 2-3 times a week (if it was for me I would use it every day!) and it’s not cheap, but a little goes a long way!

– xoxo –

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Denim on Denim? Not As Tricky As You Think!

Denim has always been associated with a little bit of bad ass in a girl. Denim on denim done right can give you just that little extra edge of confidence. Many think double denim is an absolute no, mainly because it’s very tricky. Well, it’s not as trickly as you think! Here are 3 simple denim rules:

  1. Pair different colors of denim – Try a blue (or insert your favorite color here) jeans shirt with black or white jeans, Always works, and a great place to start!
  2. When pairing blue denim with colors close to each other, make sure at least 1 piece has some tear – ripped & washed blue jeans add chic with a dark blue denim jacket!
  3. Accessorize with personality, as long as it’s not over the top and not denim – if your denim colors are close, then the accessory chose is important, you can go elegant with simple black high heels with your favorite handbag, or you could spice it up with unique and stylish pieces! Let your fashionista out, just make sure you don’t over do it (leave that matching leopard print loafers and the oversize tote you got years ago in the closet for another day) and don’t accessorize with more jeans.

Now you’re ready to spice up the simple pair of blue jeans with a kick of extra denim!

– xoxo –

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3 DIY Organic Lip Scrubs For A Smooth Pout!

Colorful lips are a must accessory this spring! Say goodbye to chappy get your lips smooth and pout ready with those 3 simple homemade lip scrub recipes!

Brown Sugar Honey Pout

  • 1 tablespoon of organic brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of organic honey
  • A few drops of an organic oil of your choice (my fav is grapefruit!)

Mix all 3 ingredients together until you get a paste (you can add some brown sugar if it’s too liquid). Before applying on your lips, hold a warm cloth on your lips for a couple of minutes to moist and soften those dry lips. Cover your lips with the fresh scrub, wait a couple of minutes, then gently scrub and wash off!

Coconut Sugar Lips

  • 1 tablespoon of soft organic coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of organic coconut sugar (or brown sugar if you can’t find it)
  • 1 teaspoon of organic honey

Mix all 3 ingredients together, apply on your lips and gently massage for a few minutes. Rince off for smooth pout!

Sweet Peppermint Kiss

  • 1 tablespoon of soft organic coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of organic honey
  • 1 tablespoon of organic sugar
  • 1 crushed peppermint
  • A few drops of organic peppermint oil

Make sure you crush the peppermint well – the trick is to put the peppermint in a paper bag or in an organic tea bag, then use a pastry roller to gently tap on it. Mix the peppermint powder with your sugar then add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Gently massage the mixture on your lips. Can you feel the freshness of every pout?

Share with me your favorite DIY lip scrubs!

– xoxo –

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Cayenne Pepper Lemon Detox – Get Your Beachbody Ready!

It’s March ladies, Beachbody season is coming fast! If you’re like me and have been holding on to the little Christmas and New Years party weight until spring, then this lighter version of the Master Cleanse is perfect to kick-start your healthy lifestyle again!

I’m quite familiar with the Master Cleanse and have done it a number of times over the past years, and it works. There are a few reasons why I’ve come up with a lighter version of this formula, that I do on a seasonal basis. I like this modified detox regime because:

  • I don’t have to worry about losing muscle mass;
  • I Can maintain my daily activity without feeling a lack of energy;
  • It can be easily incorporated into my busy work schedule.

*Note that the above are things I have personally experienced when I was on the Master Cleanse. Everyone might experience slightly different experiences based on your existing health conditions and how one eased in the Cleanse.

The recipe (for 1 unit intake)

  • Half a lemon’s juice (freshly squeezed), ~ 2 tablespoons +
  • 2 tablespoons of Grade A maple syrup +
  • A dash of Cayenne pepper powder ~ 1/5 of a teaspoon +
  • 120 ml of purified spring water.

The detox lasts in total 7 days.

Day 1 & 2: Easing In

This is very very, did I say very? important to the detox! Before starting the cayenne pepper lemon detox, the body needs to be prepared. 2 days prior to the detox, remove all processed food intake. On the first day, I replace my meals with fresh juices (with no added sugars), soups, congee and cooked vegetables. The second day I try to limit my intake to only lighter soups (broth and fresh fruit juices).

Day 3 & 4: Detox

For those 2 days (you can increase this up to 10 days but from personal experience I wouldn’t recommend more than 7 days) , stick to only drinking the above recipe, you can have up to 12 unit intakes per day. I like to schedule those 2 days on weekend days so it’s easier 🙂

Day 5 & 6: Easing Out

You’re body probably feeling much freer by now, and probably pretty proud (and you should be, give yourself a little clap!), but just hold off on the sushi for another couple of days! Same as easing in, on the first day introduce fresh juices and light soups. then you can add some solid food like vegetables and fruits on the second.

You can repeat this fairly often, do give yourself at least week break in between (make sure you’re having a healthy and sensible diet). You’d be surprised at the amount of waste you’re carrying in your body. Each time I personally loose around 1 to 1.5 kilos, but some of my friends have experienced slightly more!

Would love to hear about your detox experience!

– xoxo –

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Spicy Cocktail Recipes – Can you Handle The Heat?

Hot chilli sauces are not only good for adding intensity to dishes, but also great to spice your favorite drinks! Here are 3 cocktail recipes to spice up your weekend!

Spicy Carrot Sunrise Mimosa

For this spiced version of the classic brunch cocktail, you’ll need:

  • 4 ounces of sparkling wine or champagne of your choice
  • 1-ounce carrot juice
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • Dash of cayenne pepper powder

Mix the carrot juice and orange juice together with the dash of cayenne pepper, then add the sparkling wine and slightly stir (if needed) with a mixing spoon. serve in a highball glass or champagne glass with fine orange slices!

Habanero Mojito

A mojito is always refreshing and to add a kick to it (classic recipe here) all you need is to replace the tsp of brown sugar with:

  • Habanero simple syrup

Habanero syrup can be easily found ready to use in a bottle, or you can make your own. Take 1 or 2 (depending on taste) chopped habaneros, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water, boil for 1 min, cool and strain (details steps on all recipes here).

Chilli Martini

Who doesn’t love a good martini, and with its endless variants, there’s definitely a martini for every taste! For this spiced up chilli martini you’ll need:

  • 2 ounce of vodka
  • 1/2 of passionfruit puree
  • 1/4 of lime juice
  • 1/4 of simple syrup
  • 1 fresh Thai chilli

Split the chilli in the middle and remove all the seeds, then shake all ingredient. Some chilli can be quite spicy, make sure to taste the drink before serving it (if too spicy, you can take out the chilli add 1/4 of simple syrup).

– xoxo –

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Tabasco, Every Hot Sauce Fan’s Classic

I gave it a lot of thoughts, there are a number of chilli sauces that I love, Tabasco has and always be one of my classics! Here are 3 reasons why this little bottle of red spicy juice has its place next to my favorite lip balm in my handbag!

If you are a chilli sauce lover you must know like me that the same sauce from the same brand does vary in taste from a bottle to another, and this is normal. Chillis like grapes are natural produces that each has their own unique flavors and depending on the batch it’s hard to get the exact taste every time. And that’s fine. Tabasco, however, was able to achieve its same original taste every time, with only 3 ingredients: peppers, vinegar & salt. This brings me to my next reason why I love Tabasco so much.

I started paying attention to where my food came from and the ingredients in what I eat a couple of years back (one of my best friends is a foodie, so credits to her, and Netflix, with all their concerning documentaries on health) and you’d surprised in the number of preservatives and “E” numbers like I like to call them (referring to all the additions added to processed food: flip a bottle of pretty much any sauce and you’ll be amazed even with some of the organic and natural products out there). With Tabasco, you know what you’re getting and this also brings me to the thirds reason why this pepper sauce is a classic: you can find it pretty much everywhere – in most part of the world, from supermarkets to fancy restaurants, Tabasco, like Coca-Cola has become the universal language for hot sauce lovers who want to spice up their dish!

– xoxo –

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Let’s Talk About Extra Chilli Please!

Note: By chilli here I refer to chilli peppers you can find fresh or often dried or in for of powder at your local markets. 

Growing up, my dad was a big fan of spicy food – it’s an Asian heritage thing. It’s not until when I was a college student and had to learn how to cook that I really grow fond of spices, a variety of hot chilli peppers and of course chilli sauces. Now, fresh, dried chillies and hot sauces have become part of my daily diets, this extra little kick I just can’t go without!

Although my entourage already knows me for carrying a little bottle of chilli sauce in my bag – just in case the restaurant runs out, I guess – I still do get a lot of comments regularly. I do admit that I tend to get too enthusiastic with Tabasco when it comes to tomato sauce based pasta meals, but there are quite a number of health benefits from chilli peppers! Here are the reasons why you should spice it up!

  • Anti-bacterial & anti-inflammatory: Chilli peppers contain capsaicin, what’s responsible for the “spicy” sensation. Many studies found capsaicin to have a number of benefits such as anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and reduced cholesterol levels. The spicier the chilli pepper, the more capsaicin it contains – reasons to sprinkle some extra chillies on your dish!
  • Fresh chilli peppers are a rich source of vitamin C, and they also contain a good source vitamin A, B6, and B1. We all know those are powerful anti-oxidants!
  • Chilli peppers are also full of mineral likes potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium, who are important components to help your body function.

Chilli peppers are so easy to find all year long, and a little goes a long way. This blog reflects my take on life from my love for spicy foods – it’s so easy to spice up you every day, all it takes is a little extra humor & creativity!

Stay tuned for weekly posts, on hot sauce reviews, fashion, beauty, travel and other stuff to spice your day up!

– xoxo –

 

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