♛ Scarlet Carousel | Prologue III

{Prologue III} Jae (Song Jae Won)’s

1999
South Korea

They wouldn’t let me out. When I finally shoved past the barricade of arms, and barreled out of the bedroom into Dad’s chamber where the loud noises echoed, I had to cough hard to clear my lungs. Clouds of smoke in the air were far too viscous to be that of Dad’s cigars, so what were they?  

Suited men were towing a limp body, until the procession receded from my fogged field of vision. My eyes glazed over, barely recognising… Dad?

A hysterical cry died in my throat. A fresh pool of scarlet red led away from his mahogany desk, staining the light beige carpets. There was now only one other person in the study chamber.

Pierre was sprawled face-down, jerking and spasming as he choked in a pool of his own blood. He had been left to die; a curved blade plunged deep into the carpeted floorboards by his side.  Outside, above the ruckus of the raging storm, sirens were wailing in increasing amplitude.

Hurried footsteps led to all other places in the exterior hallways. I crawled silently to Pierre, covered his shivering, twitching body with my only shirt, defenselessly terrified to leave his side. I crouched beside him and hugged my knees in numbed shock. I dared not move as shadows lingered outside my father’s chamber.

Frantic voices compounded the resounding chaos. A shrill siren approached, raising its distant wail to a howl…

There was a single gunshot. 

When I close my eyes, I could still hear its reverberating echoes.

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

Scarlet Carousel ©
Think of your lifetime as a long carousel ride. With luck you get to mount on the ride of your choice. Some seats will always be more desired than others. Opportunities to switch may arise. The ups and downs are rhythmical and inevitable. You may choose allies to ride alongside, or choose to face this ride alone. The only way to get off is when your ride ends.

Who gets to dictate the start or the end?

A thug on the run bearing a secret he had sworn to keep from his best friend – a vagabond who built his empire from a great loss. A sidekick who’s always desired to be a hero, and the love of his life who doesn’t know it yet. A girl who is only just coming to grips with the depths of her fears, only to come face to face with her greatest nightmare.

What will unite or tear them apart in this journey, this ride of a lifetime?

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫
To be continued…
Read Prologue 1 (Reina’s) – over here.
Read Prologue 2 (Pierre’s) – over here.
The full chapter list over here.

Author’s Note: this is a 2020 reboot – some caffeine-boosted late-night attempts at injecting life into my creative soul. All comments welcome.

xoxo
Viktoria Jean

♛ Scarlet Carousel | Prologue II

{Prologue II} Pierre, Kim Sarkozy’s

1999
South Korea

His last words to him were: “Do not ever speak a word of what you saw.”

Time will never diminish Pierre’s memories of this particular night. Through dreams and waking nightmares, his recollection always began like this:

The assailant’s large pointed dagger was dripping with fresh scarlet blood. My Master screamed, initially louder with each assault, but gradually barely a whimper. I’m a third of his size, and there were no weapons I could grab around me, yet I needed to help.

I rose from my hideout, ran forth to grab hold of the assailant’s large, strong arms. In the deep recesses of my conscious mind, I recognized the cold-blooded murderer. I knew this face. And that knowledge struck a resounding blow to my faith in the grown-up world.

He shook my trembling arms away with ease, and plunged his dagger deep into the convulsing body, again and again.  

I screamed so loud till my voice was hoarse. “Stop, stop! Stop –

Where the curved blade had struck my face, a torrent of blood gushed forth. The force of his second blow threw me against a wall. Yet the pain was diminished by my anguish that left no visible wound. With this, I feigned lifelessness until his footsteps grew faint. I prayed he would leave this harmless kid to die.

Somehow I found my strength to crawl. By then, he was lifeless. I searched his now unrecognizable face – raw with open wounds and flesh. I let out an uncontrollable sob from seeing this mess, knowing that he would not live to tell anyone about this. His lips touched, mouthing a “P”. I leaned closer to his face. He took several gasps for air, and I could hear the blood bubbling up his throat. Finally, he said.

“Do not ever speak a word of what you saw.”

From what’s left of his eyes, through his gaze, I knew. I nodded, knowing this would be the last thing he would ever see. I was to seal my mouth from ever speaking of this because Jae, the Master’s son, must never ever know. That’s if I survive to remember this night. I closed my eyes tight, unable to shut out the splatter of blood across the chamber; a scarlet sea of power and savagery.

Could I ever face my first friend – my best friend – again, knowing the truth?

Something slammed against the base of my skull and all was black. 

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

Scarlet Carousel ©
Think of your lifetime as a long carousel ride. With luck you get to mount on the ride of your choice. Some seats will always be more desired than others. Opportunities to switch may arise. The ups and downs are rhythmical and inevitable. You may choose allies to ride alongside, or choose to face this ride alone. The only way to get off is when your ride ends.

Who gets to dictate the start or the end?

A thug on the run bearing a secret he had sworn to keep from his best friend – a vagabond who built his empire from a great loss. A sidekick who’s always desired to be a hero, and the love of his life who doesn’t know it yet. A girl who is only just coming to grips with the depths of her fears, only to come face to face with her greatest nightmare.

What will unite or tear them apart in this journey, this ride of a lifetime?

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

To be continued…
Read Prologue 1 (Reina’s) – over here.
Read Prologue 3 (Jae’s) – over here.
The full chapter list over here.

Author’s Note: this is a 2020 reboot – some caffeine-boosted late-night attempts at injecting life into my creative soul. All comments welcome.

xoxo
Viktoria Jean

♛ Scarlet Carousel | Prologue I

{Prologue I} Reina Yamaguchi’s

1999
Nagoya

If you believed that babies are born with no conscious memories – as blank as a paper, then children can be trained to be fearless, or conditioned to fear anything.

Parents often warn their kids by injecting elements of horror. Headless ghouls, the boogeyman, killer clowns and strangers who offer candy in order to steal your soul, lie in wait of unsuspecting children. We grew up victims of the ‘parent scare’. While young kids learnt from embracing the unknown, our inquisitive minds are tamed over time to fear the unknown.

Panic always grips Reina hard when she smells the sickly sweet scent of candy floss, accompanied by chirpy music and vibrant colours of the amusement park. Instead of bringing back joy and fond memories, the wonderland of kids grew to be Reina’s stuff of intense nightmares.

Her fears caused constant piercing migraines like a ricochet of bullets in her brain. She felt each one pierce her skull, as inextricably painfully as a real bullet would. She would remember this day, like this:

She was 6, all smiles as her mother whispered in her ear, instructing her to mount the handsome white horse in the carousel. “Hop on, it’s about to start, we’ll be waiting for you right here when the music stops.”

She was having the best day of her life, wandering the amusement park with her family by her side. Her mother had even bought her a gigantic stick of candy floss in her favourite colour – pink. The carousel was their final stop, and the highlight of their day out in the amusement park. As carousel spun, she was immersed in the rhythm of music to which her mounted horse lifted and lowered her. The intensity of all the sights and sounds were beguiling. She wanted to wave at her family, but could not seem to find them in the sea of faces. Nevertheless, her mother had promised to find her when the music ends.

The ride gradually came to a stop. She saw that the rest of the kids were dismounting by themselves. She waited. The arms that had caught her then were strong, muscular, enveloping as they wrapped round her waist, fiercely protective. Smiling in expectation of her mother or brother’s comforting features, she turned, only to come face to face with a stranger’s smile.

She hadn’t known fear, thus she couldn’t cry. She hadn’t known danger. Her beam lingered, as did her trace of innocence. Her lithe little body knew nothing of fight nor flight; she was physically, emotionally unguarded. What little she knew of fear, was only the tip of the iceberg that she would soon discover.


She was an object of trade carried away while those who were supposed to be there for her at the end of her ride watched from a safe distance, bidding their guiltless goodbyes.

carousel

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

Scarlet Carousel ©
Think of your lifetime as a long carousel ride. With luck you get to mount on the ride of your choice. Some seats will always be more desired than others. Opportunities to switch may arise. The ups and downs are rhythmical and inevitable. You may choose allies to ride alongside, or choose to face this ride alone. The only way to get off is when your ride ends.

Who gets to dictate the start or the end?

A thug on the run bearing a secret he had sworn to keep from his best friend – a vagabond who built his empire from a great loss. A sidekick who’s always desired to be a hero, and the love of his life who doesn’t know it yet. A girl who is only just coming to grips with the depths of her fears, only to come face to face with her greatest nightmare.

What will unite or tear them apart in this journey, this ride of a lifetime?

✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫ ✫

To be continued…
Read Prologue 2 (Pierre’s) – over here.
The full chapter list over here.

Author’s Note: this is a 2020 reboot – some caffeine-boosted late-night attempts at injecting life into my creative soul. All comments welcome.

xoxo
Viktoria Jean

[Qingdao] Broken bones? There’s a tea for that too

Qingdao
道和轩 Dao He Xuan Teahouse

“As far as her mom was concerned, tea fixed everything. Have a cold? Have some tea. Broken bones? There’s a tea for that too. Somewhere in her mother’s pantry, Laurel suspected, was a box of tea that said, ‘In case of Armageddon, steep three to five minutes’.”
― Aprilynne Pike, Illusions

Today I’m reminded by a sip of evening black tea, of this tea-riffic afternoon in Qingdao. Sharing some saved photos for whoever needs a glimpse of the outside world now, and be reminded that we’re almost there, right back to where our sense of normalcy resides in an altered world.

On Day Three, we slowed down our pace to indulge in traditional Chinese art of tea appreciation. Dao He Xuan (道和轩) houses an eclectic fusion of the seven types of tea, brewed in ways to accommodate the traditional brew, as well as modern-day habits (tea-bags, lemon on top for vitamin C boosters).

Qingdao
Lady dressed in traditional garb served us freshly brewed tea on request
Qingdao
Qingdao
Qingdao

Our tea master educated us on what was good for health, after a consultation on what were our current health ailments and what we hope to achieve from drinking tea. Generally, red tea is considered 凉, and great for detox. So we got one of their premium red teas.

Qingdao
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis
Qingdao

A small cosy private room just for us to stay in, for as long as we want to.

Qingdao
Qingdao
Qingdao
Qingdao

Perhaps tea is just a metaphor for self-healing. It is as much an English essential, as a Chinese method of calming the body and senses.

茶如人生,人生如茶。茶在开水中浮沉,人在社会中沉浮。 茶叶从放入茶杯开始,正如人从母亲怀里开始走出。茶叶等待的是开水高温的考验,人等待的是前程的荆棘丛生。开水冲入后,干茶经历的是又一次重生;人踏上征程后经历的是身心的不断再生。许多人生难解的结,便在时间的缓释中慢慢解开,许多生命里的焦灼,便在生活的沉浮中淡泊下来。茶经历了时间,变得舒展而馨香;人经历了时间,变得坦然而开阔,自我价值不断得以实现。

xoxo,
Jean

What comes to mind when you think of bullying?

I read this in We The Urban on the idea of perception: “If you are willing to look at another person’s behaviour toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time, cease to react at all.”

When you grasp the notion that people only understand you from their level of perception, you’ll stop seeing the need to over-explain yourself. Having read this, what is the first incident of labelling or name-calling or bullying, whether from your own experience or that of others you know, that comes to mind?

Many years ago, I had a ‘teacher’ who shamed me when I left her dance school (now closed down) to pursue my Singapore Girl dream. You see, Singapore Airlines cabin crew was a job I secured while still in my final semester of university, and I couldn’t wait to start earning enough regularly to pay off my school loan. In 2013, the job market wasn’t fantastic for a psychology graduate. I’m not a privileged rich girl born with a silver spoon, I worked hard with zero to no tuition to earn my place in schools like Nanyang Girls’ High School and Hwachong Institution, and just to graduate from NUS, teaching KPOP dance classes in my university days was a way for me to stop taking allowance from my parents to be independent. To me, the 20-odd thousand loan was everything weighing on my mind during that last semester. When I finally resigned from that job, the then ‘teacher’ told everyone in the school (colleagues and students alike) that I was joining SQ to find a rich husband and boyfriend, because that’s just so like me.

What did that even mean?

That was not the only shaming she did to me, or to others. There were more cases of bullying from her senior position that one by one most of those who saw her for who she was, eventually left before or after I did. The list of those who discovered this goes on. My parents didn’t give birth to me to take your shit, was what I thought. And for a couple of years I still held anger when I thought of the bad rep she gave me at one point. Once I left, I basically distanced myself from everyone in that social circle.

Having been in the corporate world for 5 years (SQ days not considered), I’ve had far more worthy teachers who have helped and guided me in more ways than one, so that I can be an improved version of myself with each passing day, in both my work and daily life. If I had been older and wiser, I would have left that toxic environment and her much sooner. Bringing anyone down is not the way to go up. It reflects only the ugly in you. You will only become a better person if you elevate those around you in their own best possible way.

Nonetheless I thank her for that ruthless life lesson. Flying with SQ gave me a lot of freedom to reassess my life, and it’s true that time heals, as the emotional impact it had left me with grew dim over time.

In 2 years after graduation, I paid off my school loan (while having fun in SQ, no less!). After that 2-year-long gap year, I worked in PR, marketing, analytics, and finally saw that the IT industry is where I see myself growing in and learning with in the long haul. If I work hard for myself, I won’t even need to find a rich husband right?

You see, words meant to bring you down will definitely hurt on first impact. But think of the level of perception from which this viewpoint comes from. Keyboard warriors who caused the death of Hana Kimura, did they really know her? Were their accusations grounded? Weren’t they just hiding behind their keyboards watching her burn. If you’ve been on the receiving end of such bullying, I hope you gather as much strength as you can, navigate past the hurt. and level with the intention of whoever’s out to hurt you. See them for who they are. And who they are does not determine who you are. How you see yourself matters the most.

Stay strong, spread positivity. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

I hope you have good late-night pensive thoughts too.

xoxo,
Jean

Laws of Human Nature

Completing the 600-odd-page book by Robert Greene on “The Laws of Human Nature” after months of procrastination was immensely satisfying! Start of 2020, I committed to reading 50 books this year (easily accomplished in my studying days). Yet we’re almost at the end of February and I’m barely two chapters into book 2 — “How Not to Die” by a medical doctor on nutritional science behind preventing and reversing the most life-threatening modern diseases.

I’ve only recently discovered Greene, and my respect for his work resulted in a huge loot off Book Depository and a long remaining wish-list. Having majored in psychology, at some point with a particular interest in interpersonal relationships, our university never got into the practice of studying iconic individuals the way Greene did. He puts aside statistical data of the typical psychology curriculum. Instead in each chapter, he dissects historical figures like Queen Elizabeth I, Martin Luther King Jr, Richard Nixon and Coco Chanel at the pinnacle of their successes, to demonstrate how they have influenced personal and professional relationships through certain laws of human nature, be it aggression, jealousy, narcissism, compulsion, repression, etc.

Yeah, easy to judge dead people through benefit of hindsight isn’t it. But what this book does well in my opinion (where none of my textbooks could) was to relate how these laws were critical to understanding ourselves. We know so little of how our minds work, and we hate to admit that our responses are largely beyond conscious control. Much of the story we spin about ourselves are delusions. Only when we are aware of our own bad quirks, and that we all belong on a personality spectrum, instead of belonging to personality types (i.e. we all can have variable streaks of narcissism, and jealousy) can we begin to appreciate the complexity of human nature enough to navigate the complex web of human relationships.

Certain sections were impossibly boring, especially when he talks about generational myopia and death denial. Particularly enlightening was his chapter on the law of envy, in which he purports that of all human emotions, none is trickier and more elusive than envy. To conceal envy from ourselves and others, we convert objects of our envy into unsympathetic characters to justify hostility towards them. His anecdote was one on Mary Shelley (the author of Frankenstein) – how her relationship, husband and life was so quietly and swiftly stolen by an envious friend, who also manipulated the truth so that everyone around her would have a misconception of her, while Mary herself suspected nothing. In another interesting chapter he also talks about the law of gender rigidity based on the Jungian concept of ‘Anima’ and ‘Animus’ – that we can harvest our inner opposite gender to channel our strengths and creativity. He even gives some good workplace advice after distinguishing the key personality types in the corporate environment – the jester, the favourite, the shadow enabler, etc. Which one are you?

By the end of this book, I’ve been taught to re-assess certain unhealthy ‘relationships’ in my life. Our attitudes tend to have a self-fulfilling component to them, so how should I better manage myself?

Feigning ignorance and championing avoidance in handling ‘relationships’ with colleagues in a complex, toxic work environment have not worked well for me. Manipulative beings are often motivated by envy. Their words often contain untruths designed to hurt something they don’t have (e.g reputation, credibility, or maybe the smarts). And following the downward pull of a group, their untruths are repeated over and over until they become a truth. Many a times, narcissistic leaders cannot be challenged. Some have rose by sheer attitudes and the ability to bully with no conscience. If you’re a female working amidst male-dominated ideology, be prepared to be reduced to nothing but a walking sex object because every success you get is because you relied on your body or looks. Isn’t this a common tactic used by men in power? I will write about this another time. In toxic situations, recognizing these traits and identifying motives will become an emotional defense in order not to be stained by poison. How often does corporate drama and the vicious tongues of your very own colleagues become the reason why you don’t want to get up in the morning? If so, we have much to talk about.

Toxicity aside, I think much of what I learnt from Greene is the attainment of self-possession through knowing thyself. Humans are consummate actors, we all wear a mask and we all learn how to lie. We adapt ourselves to our groups and we are so good at acting that we don’t even realize we do. Being aware of our internal self and social selves, we can channel the best of all of our selves.

Despite some bad reviews on Greene, this had been a good 642-page ride. I foresee re-reading this again in the very near future.

In my first post for 2020, I do hope the year gets a turn for the better, what with the global pandemic and unpleasant news in the world everyday. Amidst this backdrop, we as people should learn to treat our own humankind with kindness and spread positivism. Human nature need not be ugly. I’ll end off with this one quote:

If you come across any special trait of meanness or stupidity . . . you must be careful not to let it annoy or distress you, but to look upon it merely as an addition to your knowledge—a new fact to be considered in studying the character of humanity. Your attitude towards it will be that of the mineralogist who stumbles upon a very characteristic specimen of a mineral. —Arthur Schopenhauer”

[Qingdao] Starfish, Sea Urchin and Other Exotic Foods

Qingdao

This is a mega-post on everything worth eating in Qingdao.

I’m a total travel foodie, and hence made it a point to visit Qingdao’s two most popular street food haunts: Pichai Courtyard and Taitung Night Market,

For all who’s seen my Instagram stories, yes, starfish is actually edible!! Despite its tough outer skin, a cooked and dried starfish is easily broken apart. The edible texturised bits are all in its legs, so you’ll need to break its golden armour to get to the soft and moist goods, which would taste like savoury mushy walnuts soaked in soy sauce if you can imagine. I wouldn’t exactly describe this as particularly ‘tasty’, but it would be an interesting experience for your taste buds.

Qingdao
Fissures in the center of the starfish’ legs so you can access the dried edible bits.
Qingdao
The greyish-brown bits are the edible parts!
Qingdao
Once you crack the fissure, you can break open the entire leg.

Where we were at is the Pichai Courtyard (劈柴院in Qingdao, a hidden alley bustling with street food vendors and eateries offering some of the freshest seafood in the city, and exotic food appealing to the adventurous pallet. We spent a good 1.5 hours walking back and forth the street market. It’s not the most comfortable place to linger at, so I wouldn’t recommend allocating too much time in your itinerary for this location. What I do enjoy about Pichai Courtyard is the wholesome cultural experience. You’ll also get to appreciate premium Chinese tea, watch authentic Chinese opera, and purchase vintage souvenirs and trinkets all in the same alleyway.

Qingdao
Seafood is of the abundance in this market.

If you’ve got a huge appetite, the sheer variety of different seafood cuisines will most definitely fill your belly! A more common dish is served in shells of sea urchins, filled with edible egg yolks (made from the actual egg of the sea urchin). When eaten warm, it tastes like a less salty version of the Japanese chawanmushi.

Qingdao
Qingdao

For the less adventurous folks, you’ll find lobster roe dumplings, carrot cakes, sausages, fried rice, steamed cockles, pig organs soup, rice cakes, etc, being offered by all these tiny stalls.

Qingdao
This shop is named 爆肚, literally meaning ‘exploding belly’, and serves soup of pig organs an various innards
Qingdao
Beancurd skin – a very well-loved Chinese ingredient in hotpot, and can also be eaten independently
Qingdao
蟹黄汤包 – Lobster roe dumplings! A must-try over here
Qingdao
Lady selling sea urchin egg yolks, and savoury crispy pancakes
Qingdao
Fresh seafood on display outside an eatery
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More sea urchins and fresh seafood on a stick
Qingdao
Fresh oysters / river prawns, clams for RMB18 per plate, do the math!
Qingdao
Are you hungry yet? These seafood dishes are ready-cooked to be served on the go.
Qingdao
Rice cakes, Qingdao-made yoghurt, and organ jellies (no idea about the latter, really, someone please enlighten me)
Qingdao
Grilled fishballs, anybody?
Qingdao
Some stalls also offer Korean rice cakes . In many ways (weather, food, people), Qingdao reminds me of Korea, but a lot less touristy than Seoul
Qingdao
Some of the fried goodies you get for cheap: fried crab balls

Exotic foods are abound, and at the famed ‘昆虫宴’, which can be loosely translated to ‘Banquet of Insects’, you can literally feast on all the bugs you can ever imagine eating. Fancy some fried scorpions, spiders, caterpillars, silkworms, lizards, locusts or grasshoppers?

Qingdao
昆虫宴, loosely translated to ‘Banquet of Insects’
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Hungry yet?
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Scorpions are a hot favourite

None of these were palatable to me, so no thank you. Perhaps one day I’ll find the courage to crunch on a fried scorpion.

So back to the more appealing foods, the beancurd with fried rice was one of my favourites, as well as the gigantic flavoured squid legs on a stick. And everything can be washed down with a cheap pint of Tsingtao Beer available from most stalls. I was a tad disappointed by the smelly tofu we chose from one of the stalls, which ain’t as smelly as I would have liked. I do wish I had a bigger appetite though, there was just too much to try.

Qingdao
Lobster roe fried dough balls covered in various flavourings
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Other local seafood favourites
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Gigantic squid legs are a hot favourite here too, and very yummy indeed!
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One for the road
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Beancurd skin with fried rice
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Beancurd skin with fried rice – my personal recommendation to all
Qingdao
臭豆腐 – Smelly tofu, which is a lot less smelly than those I ate in Taiwan
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Beer, of course
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This stretch of alley is very popular amongst locals and tourists alike

So I captured this shot below of the inconspicuous entrance to Pichai Courtyard, from Zhongshan Road. Keep your olfactory senses on high alert for the Thai-style fried Durians along this entryway, and you might just find your way into Pichai Yuan.

Qingdao
Entryway to Pichai Yuan

Where:
Pichai Courtyard 劈柴院
Zhongshan Lu, Shinan District, Qingdao (青岛市市南区中山路)

While Pichai Courtyard has been preserved to bear cultural significance, in contrast, Taitung Night Market is surrounded by malls, heavy traffic intersections and is the central hub of both shopping and entertainment for locals and tourists alike. The night market covers a huge area along Taidong Road and combined with its surrounding shopping area, this zone is one of the most bustling area in the city, with ~100,000 visitors every day. The entire street comes to life at 5:30PM and winds down early by my standards at 10:00PM, so best to get there early to enjoy the best of the city’s nightlife.

We didn’t have much stomach space remaining after a huge dinner, but we did try the 烤鸭肠 or grilled duck intestines on a stick (which were surprisingly chewy and flavourful), as well as the 肉夹馍 or meat pancakes (though some insist to call this the meat folder in English) and cheesy sausages covered in fried dough. The meat pancake was huge enough to be a meal on its own, and I highly recommend trying this particular stall with a really long queue of locals.

Everything at Taitung Night Market is really inexpensive, as compared to Pichai Courtyard. I mean, 120 sticks of duck intestines for just 30 yuan (SGD 5.70)?

Street food, night Market in Qingdao
Must-try!
Street food, night Market in Qingdao
We settled for 70 sticks of the duck intestines, they were soooo good.
Street food, night Market in Qingdao
We got them in spicy, but you could request for a less hot version of their sauce.

The meat folder/pancakes are essentially meat loaves flanked in croissant-textured outer skins, and grilled to golden-brown perfection.

Street food, night Market in Qingdao
The chefs very hard at work, as there was a long queue waiting!
Street food, night Market in Qingdao
Our share of the amazing meat pancake
Street food, night Market in Qingdao
Just 7 yuan for one of these

Some of these were actually Taiwanese street foodfare, as is this cheesy fried sausage we had.

Street food, night Market in Qingdao
Cheesy Taiwanese sausages covered in fried dough

You could have a fancier dinner in the malls nearby, and come to Taitung Night Market for its variety of desserts on offer. There’s just too much to choose from. Just some pictures I took before I indulged my sweet-tooth in a box of chilled durian puffs.

Street food, night Market in Qingdao
No lack of desserts along this street
Street food, night Market in Qingdao
Fluffy dog ice cream in chocolate and vanilla
Street food, night Market in Qingdao
Oh yes we had this too! Chilled durian cream puffs
Qingdao
Look at ’em buns

I can’t decide on a favourite street food, but if I had to choose, I’d say the meat folder/pancakes.
Let me know your favourite!

Where:
Taitung Night Market
TaiDong 1st Road (near McDonalds and Wal-Mart)
ShiBei District > TaiDong Shopping Area
台东夜市, 台东一路, 中国山东省青岛市

[Qingdao] KeEr Cafe 可儿咖啡馆

Tsingtao

We discovered a gem on Day Two, in the form of a quaint two-storey establishment nested along Minjiang 2nd Street. Drawn to its warm façade of multi-coloured stained glass windows and brick walls lined with backyard pottery, we entered through a homely wooden wrap-around porch where patrons can dine on hand-painted blue wooden furniture overlooking the streets, reminiscent of having cosy breakfast at a neighbours’ patio.

On entering, the interior is purposefully dim, littered with tastefully chosen yet somewhat strange knick-knacks, such as a random oil-lamp hanging underneath a stairwell, wall-mounted porcelain deer skull, a vintage record player, and a pre-owned mini basketball hoop. This place struck me as a treasure trove of decorative gems obtained from all over the globe, each representing a different time or era.

If this place had a theme, it had to be ‘queer’, being so in semantics to ‘KeEr’. What I love, is that there are surprises in every nook and cranny — you’ll never know what you might find if you just look a bit closer.

Tsingtao

As the pictures may show, the space doesn’t afford big movements from its patrons. A narrow stairwell leads to the upper floor, where you can peep out onto the streets from comfortable leather booths.

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Stairwell leading to its upper floor — KeEr Cafe
Tsingtao
More treasures up on the second floor – KeEr Cafe
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Stained glass windows to keep the place dim
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Privacy is well-kept in the enclosed booths
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Surprise details in every corner.
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Upstairs, a couple of students were whispering over their second or third cups of coffee, evidence of their study splayed over their workspace of the day. We chose a booth adjacent to a wall lined with pre-loved books and empty wine bottles — and yet more quirky thingamajigs including vintage lampshades and rotary dial telephones.

Tsingtao
When vintage red wine bottles come in handy.
Tsingtao
Who wants a vintage altar?
Tsingtao
The place where ideas are formed.
Tsingtao

Our latte and mocha were served quickly, piping hot. The cocoa-adorned hair of a happy face is their signature decoration. We also ordered their signature cheesecakes in cookies-and-cream, as well as lychee strawberry (which were both good! Not too sweet nor mushy like most cheesecakes. These had some firmer textures to them. Definitely worth trying.)

Tsingtao
Hot latte and fluffy bed-head mocha
Keer cafe Qingdao
You’ll definitely want a bite.
Tsingtao
Latte art in simplicity
Tsingtao

They even have a charging station, available at a small fee, for this is surely a place worth spending long hours at with no lack of entertainment. Most crucially, WiFi is available, if you’re not into Mandarin novels or staring into the traffic downstairs. If we weren’t in such a rush to move on to our next local attraction, I could have stayed here for a whole afternoon.

Tsingtao

Where:
MinJiang 2nd Road 27, Qingdao China

xoxo,
Jean

[Qingdao] 5 must-haves on your bucket list

All beer enthusiasts would have tasted the famed export from Tsingtao Brewery, whose name derived from its city of origin in Shandong Province. Unlike most Western lagers, Chinese beers tend to add rice into their fermentation process, hence lowering a certain taste of acidity in its end-products. For the sake of tasting only the freshest Tsingtao Beer, I chose this destination for a 4-day weekend venture.

Day 1 in Qingdao was a really long one. At the break of dawn, we touched down via Scoot, after a 5 hour red-eye flight from Singapore, and set out exploring immediately so as not to waste time. We managed to strike 5 key items off our bucket list on our first day, all penned below. Fatigue makes the body real weak so I had to wrap myself up in a thick coat throughout the trip, so just a reminder if you’re planning a trip to Qingdao yourself, be very prepared for the chilling evening winds (>5°C in the later months of the year!)

This Tsingtao / Qingdao series also marks my first post back on this portal (much missed!), and was sparked by a reminder of my overwhelmingly large photo-album of things I’ve been wanting to write about…so holler if you’ve missed me too 😀

To sum up our first 24hours:

1. Beer-in-a-bag:

Beer so fresh, it comes straight out of a bag!

Did you know: Tsingtao Brewery is China’s second largest brewery? They were started out by a group of Germans, and that the tradition of beer-in-a-bag is so strong, you won’t be able to ask for a cup or even a straw from these storefronts. So have a napkin ready, because for all 4 days we drank out of a bag, I must have spilt 2 pints at least.

TsingtaoTsingtao

Tsingtao Tsingtao

Where: Almost everywhere in the city

2. Tsingtao Zoo

This may seem like an unlikely attraction, but the zoo is incredibly underrated. For a small fee (~RMB20), you unlock access to 120 animal species. This place is nested in the north-most area of Qingdao ZhongShan Park (青岛中山公园), where the general admission is free. If florals and blossoms are your thing, the variety of botanical gardens here will have you clocking at least 20,000 steps in a day.

So back to the zoo. You’ll see animals like the badgers, red pandas, pandas, moose, panthers, cheetahs run freely…in their own cages. This place is quite child-friendly too, with certain petting zoo corners open during the warmer months.
Tsingtao Tsingtao

Tsingtao

Where:
Qingdao ZhongShan Park (青岛中山公园)
28 WenDeng Road
Shinan, Qingdao, Shandong, China
文登路28号, 中国山东省青岛市市南区
Telephone: +86 (532) 8287-0564

3. Qingdao Wine Museum

So in Qingdao there are both beer and wine museums. In my honest opinion, I was slightly disappointed that we chose this really rundown and poorly kept wine museum at first, over the popular beer museum. But once I got to know that this wine museum was built in an old 8800sqm-long underground air-raid shelter, I begun to appreciate its musty smells and claustrophia-inducing walls.

Tsingtao

The history of winemaking in China can be traced back to 2000 years ago, when the great explorer and pioneer of the Silk Road Zhang Qian visited the West and brought back grape seeds. This museum celebrates not only the Chinese winemaking history, but also that of the Portuguese, Australian, French, etc.

The real reason for having an air-raid shelter for storing wines? The temperature and humidity of an air-raid shelter remain constant while its environment is ventilated and earthquake-proofed, hence becoming the perfect place to store wines.

Tsingtao

Tsingtao Tsingtao

Tsingtao

Tsingtao

Tsingtao

Always believed that you need to be properly educated on what you put into your body. At the end of this educational tour, there is a museum bar where a barista will guide you on selecting a wine that suits your tastebuds. We took home 2 inexpensive bottles. Negroamaro is a red wine grape variety native to southern Italy whilst we also got a familiar Bordeaux for a nightcap.

Tsingtao

Where: No.68 Yan’an 1st Road, Shibei District, Qingdao, China

4. Fresh Seafood (and beer)

Seafood is a must-have in Qingdao. Like most coastal cities, Qingdao produces some of the freshest loot in the country by getting their daily catch along the northeast coast of China. So on our first day we headed straight for the crabs, tiger prawns, cockles, and cuttlefish balls. We didn’t even have to be picky on which restaurant to go for — all stalls had an assortment of seafood on their menu and a relatively bustling crowd of locals and tourists. Be adventurous and try some of their fancier selection (starfish, sea anemone etc).

You’ll also be able to get your beer fix from any of the roadside stalls, and be able bring your beer takeaways into the restaurants. Be sure to keep your stomach empty!

Tsingtao Tsingtao

Tsingtao(Psst, we had starfish on our second day, and that’s a story for another day)

Tsingtao

Tsingtao Tsingtao

Tsingtao

5. Lobster Dumplings 

With fresh seafood, comes one of the Chinese’s best cuisines — Lobster Dumplings! In this particular store we hunted down, the dumpling skin is slightly thicker, and is able to carry a whole lot more broth.

At 22RMB for 8 dumplings, must say these are pretty affordable.

Tsingtao Tsingtao

Tsingtao Tsingtao

Tsingtao Tsingtao

Tsingtao

I still miss Qingdao ♥ ; prior to my trip I researched quite a bit and may be able to answer some travel questions about this place. But there is one thing I still don’t get: so is it Qingdao or Tsingtao?

Tsingtao

xoxo,
Jean

When writing feels good again

For quite a while I’ve forgotten how writing was my main (perhaps only) catharsis for getting a load off my chest, or when I simply needed a go-to outlet as a person who never felt a need to pour my feelings out in entirety to someone else. Throughout my schooling days I’ve kept journals detailing all sorts of ups and downs, rights and wrongs, external events, inner struggles, fulfilling occasions, worthless promises, important highlights, the lowest lows, and stories of people and things whom I wish to keep in my memories and close to heart.

As I grew older, I stopped textually detailing my memories with such fervent frequency – in part perhaps due to a more colorful social life resulting in less me-time, and partly (lately I’ve come to realise) because I have had more memories I wish to lose, rather than to keep, it’s harder to write them down and see them turn into reality.

So I turned into writing crap fiction with protagonists sounding a lot like me (most of which never saw the light of day because I killed them with CTRL-A-DEL). When I stopped needing to write, I also stopped listening to my thoughts, or drowning them out with late nights just so I can breathe and live in the day, not needing to face up to the reality of my own feelings. And I must say it has been harmful in more ways than one. Writing could in fact subconsciously organize the chaos inside one’s head, provide a source of tranquility and peace in those moments of penning them down, and align the head’s thoughts with the heart’s feelings. You know how some will say that your heart and mind disagrees? It’s true, I fully concur.

Many years ago, I’ve had to cut away from a life I knew, and people who were my everything for a couple of years before graduation. I stepped into the working world afresh, thinking I would be fine with never looking back, but I’ve always felt something was amiss and never properly addressed. I lost a part of myself lately, in a different manner this time due to a conflicting decision. I was lucky to be away and alone with my thoughts for a bit. In isolation I could be me, to live out the outcome of this choice. For a while I even felt good suffocating myself in my thoughts. But I knew this could be something that will slowly eat me out from inside.

Then I wrote it down.

There was immense relief turning these into words. It doesn’t feel better when I remember – it could hit as I close my eyes in bed, or find myself in a crowd of unfamiliar faces, or as I’m speaking to a close friend to whom I will never bring this up. But in the very least, my textual log was an emotional release that feels better than telling someone else.

Sometimes it takes a wrong turn to get you to a right place. Sometimes you just get lost and find a need to pick yourself up in a brand new environment and start anew. I just know, everything prepares you for what comes next, if you can move on, and it’s crucial to find your best way of moving ahead.

Writing is mine; I hope everyone finds their most trusted and effective emotional outlet in this crazy world.

And so, I found my mojo back, and it feels so damn good to write again.

P.S. When I die, I wish for my journals to be burnt.

xoxo,
Jean

The Flower Gem of Singapore– A Better Florist

I had the pleasure of reviewing A Better Florist- Singapore’s most innovative florist. I like to get my facts straight, so I dove in deep into research mode.

I started by visiting their social media and website. Right off the bat, I could see why so many people refer to it as best florist in Singapore. There it was; a heaven of flowers. Picture after picture of gorgeous, fresh and vibrant blooms, just staring at me, begging me to order them.

I was delighted with what I saw. Their designs are unusual and authentic, and it really shows that their florists know what they’re doing. I enjoyed scrolling through their selection on the website. It was short and sweet. Each arrangement and bundle had a cute name, a short description and the price listed right beside it. It’s very convenient and easy to make a choice, especially if you’re looking for something special for Valentine’s Day flower delivery in Singapore.

This flower shop started out as a typical flower stand Singapore is used to seeing, and it developed into a great flower business, that really stands out. All of their flowers seem so fresh, and there’s a reason behind it. They grow their blooms on a farm on Cameron Highlands, and once they are ready, they are delivered straight to their flower shops. This makes them fresh and long lasting. If you ask me, when you pay for flowers, you want to have them around for as long as possible.

By that time, I was convinced that it was the best florist in Singapore. And then, I read about the best flower delivery in Singapore. A Better Florist took it yet another step further, and made their delivery super-fast. You can order right now, and they will deliver it on the same day, within only 90 minutes! That’s a truly outstanding service and I applaud them for their idea of being the only 24 hour florist in Singapore. That’s something Singapore never experienced before, not when it comes to flower shops.

There’s no doubt a cheap bouquet Singapore florist can craft is something that we’re used to, but A Better Florist has the ideal balance between crafting luxurious blooms and still keeping the prices affordable.

Naturally, I wanted to find out more. I wanted to see what others had to say about them, and whether they are as popular as they seem to be. I was later surprised to find out that they are also well known beyond Singapore. They are considered the best florist in Hong Kong and the best florist in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, by several reputable sources.

This information came in handy, because I love to travel. And, if I can depend on the best flower delivery in Hong Kong like I do in Singapore, why not? If you’re looking for a Dubai flower delivery and Hong Kong flower delivery, make sure to track down A Better Florist.

I would be glad to see their flower chain expand to the entire world, since they really did surprise me, and I highly recommend it to all. Not just travellers, but all the people who get the chance to experience all that A Better Florist team has to offer.

xoxo,

Viktoria Jean

You’ll always hate how your writing used to sound

I’m having a roaring good time cleaning out a writing folder filled with incomplete, half-assed fiction, themed articles on beauty, tech and health, as well as a bunch of incoherent poems, and God knows what else I might unearth. Painful as it is, the Recycle Bin is where they shall all go.

I thought I might have written some gems, but really, most pieces are utter crap. I hate how I sounded five years ago. It was then that I used to contribute very short articles to a now-defunct e-zine for silver-haired folks, as well as a Japanese health and beauty site that has unfortunately gone the way of the dodo. Writing came to me rather easily then – it kills me that I’ve developed a lethal overthinking habit, and I can’t seem to write as quickly and smoothly now. I’m hoping to regain some writing mojo.

To celebrate the purge of my writing folder, here’s a short one I wrote to supplement a campaign for healthier food choices for the older generation. Mind you this was five years ago.

Join me as I cringe and watch this burn.


A Bitter-Sweet Life

Most of us battle sugar-addiction on a daily basis. When feeling tired, stressed out or just plain hungry, we reach for sugar-laden quickies – chocolates, icecream or a doughnut with our coffee.

Bitter foods may not be appetising, but studies have shown that bitter foods stimulate our taste receptors on the tongue, increasing bile flow and nutrient absorption. Nutritionist dietitician Nicole Dube of Halifax, N.S. encourages consumption of bitter foods and herbs as “help to stimulate digestive juices and support food digestion.” Enhanced digestion of bitter vegetables leaves you feeling full and satisfied for much longer than that tempting bar of chocolates.

Hate bitter foods? Here are some bitters that make excellent addition to soups and salads, and when sprinkled over pastas and pizzas, or stuffed in a breakfast wrap.

KALE

(photo http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html)

With over 45 different flavonoids in kale being identified by researchers, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties helps to relieve chronic inflammation and supports our body’s detoxification system.

ENDIVE

(photo http://www.renaissanceherbs.com.au/herbs-a-z/endive)

Chocked full of phytonutrients, endives support the liver by reducing cholesterol, and balancing our hormones.

PUNTARELLE

(photo http://www.123rf.com/photo_12793588_fresh-puntarelle-vegetable-on-white-background.html)

A member of the chicory family, sometimes known as asparagus chicory, the puntarelle is an Italian favorite that is low in calories and extremely high in vitamin C and B9 density.

RADICCHIO

(photo http://www.iknowvegetables.com/radicchio.html)

Fresh radicchio is one of the excellent sources of vitamin K. Increasing intake of vitamin K has an established role in treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, as it limit neurona damage in the brain.
SPINACH

(photo http://food.sulekha.com/dishimages/24940.jpg)

Lutein, the carotenoid found in spinach, prevents eye diseases such as age-related cataracts and macular degeneration.

The next time you’re craving a sugary boost, think of the healthier bitter alternatives that are in fact, sweeter in the long run.

Need further convincing to eat your bitters? Bitter greens like radicchio, endive, and kale contains phytonutrients that support the liver – the vital organ that stabilizes our hormones, purifies the blood and metabolizes fats.


I cringed, so hard.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Bed-time musings

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think,
I’m not going to make it
,
but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”
― Charles Bukowski

cat in bed

Over drinks on a Friday, I realised being single must be a blessing, because really,

bedd

I mean, if some lady got to marry the Eiffel Tower, I can be legally tied to my bed so that it’s absolute cruelty to force us apart. It took weeks of sleep deprivation, and then a good sleep-in Saturday, for me to realise my greatest love is my own bed.

And if my bed were all these kinds of pretty…I’ll never ever leave it for anything or anyone.

bed22

bed33

queenred
Red Room. Hurhurhur…who else gets the reference?

treebed

forestbed

#randommusings on a Saturday night, before I return to worshipping my other half.

Tata.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SSENZE – ‘You Think’ Remix

In celebration of Girls’ Generation’s 10th year anniversary, here’s our rendition of the queens’ “You Think”!

Even though we didn’t win this year’s competition, we would still like to thank everyone for your warm support. We’ll be back stronger and better so be patient as we have more exciting projects coming your way!

Let us know what you wanna see from us!
______________________________________________________________
Keep up with us on our social media platforms:
Instagram: @theofficialssenze 
Facebook: facebook.com/theofficialssenze/ 
______________________________________________________________

Many thanks to Germaine (@imjimin94) for the video!!!


Songs were originally sang by their respective artists.

All rights belong to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.

-SSENZE-

SSENZE – Kpop World Festival 2017 – SG Finals

SSENZE is happy to be finalists of the Singapore round of Kpop World Festival!

Our finals will be held this Saturday, 5 Aug, 5pm @ Tampines Hub, Singapore. PM me for further details!

The audition clips of all finalists were recently released, and this is ours. Gotta admit that this was in no way perfect, but we did our best to add our own feminine touch to VIXX’s masculine song.

It’s been quite a journey putting together our auditions and finals piece, and I’m super fortunate to have these crazy girls doing this together as a team.

For our finals, we’re gunning for a whole different look and concept, and are training hard to give a good show. Do give us, as well as all other finalists, your support!

For enquiries on my dance crew, SSENZE, please email theofficialssenze@gmail.com

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F1700820416879560%2Fvideos%2F1733553856939549%2F&show_text=1&width=560

3 ways to wear Swarovski Crystal Pixie Nail Art!

Swarovski Crystal Pixie nail art is the manicure industry’s best kept secret. It’s still popular in Japan and the States, but strangely this style is quite rare in Singapore. I have seen some gorgeous pictures on Instagram so I was really excited when Vanitee matched me up with a lovely manicurist, Janelle from Nailbuddies, who gave me a very rare Swarovski Crystal Pixie gel manicure!

You may be wondering – what on earth are Swarovski Crystal Pixies? They are tiny round crystals mixed with other bullions, and serve as little pretty gems to adorn your nail art. So you may choose to highlight one finger, or bling out all 10 of them (thumbs included). I swear, they are much shinier, lighter and sturdier than your average plastic nail gems. After my experience, I decided to write this piece about 3 ways to wear the Swarovski Crystal Pixie Nail Art!

Janelle has 2 types of this: the dark and light crystals. I chose to use the light ones this time, but it really depends on what base colour you choose, and which crystal will complement it best.

Anyway, more about Nailbuddies! Janelle offers a convenient home-based service, so you may select from her range of available dates. If you’re an Eastie, her home in Tampines Street 84 (psst…please see the app for her full address) is just 3 bus-stops always from the interchange. If you’re lost, just give Janelle a direct ping in the Vanitee chat and she will give you directions!

I arrived at Janelle’s place for the first time, and was invited into her spacious, private manicure haven. Her manicure workspace is so comfortable and I felt right at home. Plus Janelle is so chatty and friendly, I felt at ease being in a stranger’s room! Right away, I could feel her passion and expertise with the number of tools and gel bottles in her room.
Choosing from her stash of gel colours is really not easy – her collection is amazing!! This is just some of it:

I picked the dark, starry midnight steel blue (which already naturally bling because I love glittery nails!), and Janelle got right to work. First she patiently removed my DIY-ed gelish nails, then trimmed my nails into nice round shapes, before buffing and taming my messy cuticles. I applaud her skills! She really saved my ugly nails.

See? She’s giving my nails some TLC (won’t show you her face, till she gives me full permission!)

Following the TLC, she gave my nails 2 layers of base colour. Then she takes out some very delicate skinny tools to begin glueing the Swarovski Crystal Pixies. So fascinating!

I cannot emphasis how carefully she placed the crystals on my fingernails, and arranges them artistically. It’s like a surgery going on in here!

She actually pours the crystals onto the fingernails that require more crystals, as this gives a more even effect.

In the span of 2.5 hours, my nails were done! Revealing the full pictures in 3…2….1…

So for your next nail adventure, why don’t you try these 3 amazing ways to wear the Swarovski Crystal Pixies?

1. Forming Shapes with the crystals

With a silver sticker strip, a triangle was first shaped, before filling it up with crystals. This is my personal favourite because of the endless possibilities! Yes shape anything you want. You will never get bored.

2. Crystal Clusters

Spot the crystal clusters! Yes these are on my index finger (top hand), and middle finger (bottom hand). Love how the crystal are clustered near my cuticles to give variety to the texture.  These subtle differences lets your nails stand out from everyone else’s boring old matte patterns. (But no offence, I have days when I just want matte black nails)

3. Pairing Crystals with Bigger Gems

If you’re looking to go over-the-top, Swarovski Crystal Pixies will be able to help. When paired with chunkier gems, the effect is crazy – I swear it’s the first thing people see when I wave to them, in the dark, 5 feet away.

See how the bling-bling gems stand out in this full-manicure shot?

Swarovski Crystal Pixies really helped to add a gorgeous shiny glow, and an interesting bumpy 3D effect. Sometimes I wash my hair, and I can feel the crystals on my head – it’s like a scalp massage! (Not kidding) Or maybe I’m biased because I’m loving it so much.

Really enjoyed my manicure session with Janelle from Nailbuddies. Learnt from her many tips and tricks that she willingly shares, which include: a manicure must always end with capping the outer edges with a layer of finish! Also, if topping up your manicure with Swarovski Crystal Pixies, you don’t actually need a top coat. Her skills with the crystals are amazing and if you have never tried the Swarovski Crystal Pixies, I strongly encourage you to. She’s available at @nailbuddies on Instagram and Vanitee app!

It’s super easy to book a session from Vanitee! There are beauty offers from nails, hair, brow and lash, makeup and hairstyling and facial treatments uploaded daily from over 1,700 beauty salons! It’s truly Singapore’s #1 app for booking beauty services. And conveniently, you can also see customer reviews and view the artists’ portfolios on the app itself, by simply clicking on their profiles! And as I mentioned, you get to chat direct with the artist, so you can get your requests way in advance. Like for my session, Janelle checked with me way in advance the type of design I wanted. Sounds good right? On top of that, you can earn rewards from booking on the app too! Sign up with my link <<viktol1>> and get $15 OFF any beauty services! Download the Vanitee app now from www.vanitee.com!
Anyway, here are some screenshots of the app to illustrate. When you search for “Nailbuddies”, this page should surface:

When you click “Portfolio”, you get to view photos of the work that she has done for her past clients. That’s right – she does Tsum Tsum nail art!

Under reviews, you can also view what others have said about your artist. I gave Janelle an honest review, with some pictures for reference. You can view it on her page!

Looking forward to my next manicure session, and to try new patterns using the Swarovski Crystal Pixies. Have already booked my next session with Nailbuddies!

If you have pictures after your Swarovski Crystal Pixie sessions, do share! 🙂

Xoxo,
Viktoria Jean
P.S. Sharing a bonus picture I took with Janelle’s pup!! He’s totally adorable, and is usually kept away when strangers or customers come. Special case only that he is let out to play with me 🙂

 

This is a short post about Christmas

‘Tis the season to be reminded that quality time with your loved ones are the best gifts you can afford, which no amount of money can ever replace.

Cheers to all the old souls who will never be too old for log cakes, stories by the fireplace, midnight cookies and milk, and all of Christmas’ novelties.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE ❤

Dedicating this little one-take dance piece by SSENZE (filmed with the help of Marvin PD-nim!) to everyone out there who’s never stopped believing in the magic of Christmas.

Enjoy.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

BlackBox SG – INNI Skincare

My ultimate skincare remedy for the festive season has arrived! Look no further if you too are worried about ruining your skin with anticipated late nights, booze and Christmas goodies. INNI by La Source Spa is a premium range created by beauty professionals from the popular beauty sanctuary, to give you results that parallel stepping into a spa.

I’m featuring 2 exclusive product sets from BlackBox SG – the INNI by La Source, and INNI Solutions by La Source. Both beautifully packaged, these will make great Christmas gifts for family and friends. Products are 100% botanical and source-traceable – its ingredient lists feature easily identifiable plant and nature-sources. To put our minds at ease, all products are also free of parabens, mineral oils, additives and preservatives as well as colouring or artificial fragrances.

You can purchase these exclusive sets straight from BlackBox SG, plus don’t forget to claim a further 10% discount by using the promo code <<BBXJEAN10>> upon checkout!

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

 

Exclusive Box – INNI Solutions by La Source

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

These products are a sneakpeek into INNI’s extensive solutions range, which target age-defense, advance whitening serum, pigment corrective and AHA renewal, amongst many other skincare troubles. All products in this set have a really clean  scent – no acidic / alcoholic smells which irritates the hell out of me. I’m big on the scents, and INNI has passed the test. Here we go:

1. Hyaluronic B5 Gel | 30ml
Provides intensive hydration by binding moisture to skin tissue. Restores and hydrates all skin types without clogging pores.
Suitability: For all skin type includes acne prone skin, male and female
Retail size and price: 30ml @$104.86
Verdict: With an au-naturale ensemble, this product is super hydrating. Gel-based, it glides on smoothly and is absorbed so quickly, it is as if my skin is quenching its thirst. Leaves no residue so feel free to layer with the rest of your routine. My favourite product from this set!

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

 

2. Youthful Glow Enzyme Peel | 15ml
A nutrient-rich exfoliant that combines the enzymatic properties of papaya and pineapple with the nourishing advantages of wholesome pumpkin. Leaves skin with a soft, refined glow.
Suitability: For all skin type, male and female
Retail size and price: 15ml @$17.66 | 80ml @$94.15
Verdict: Only tried this once – the exfoliant is powerful, and the results are as though I’ve just done a peel at a facial. Slightly drying after the exfoliation. Moisturizing products used after this peel got absorbed really efficiently.

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

 

3. Skin Rescue Serum | 15ml
An instant fix for tired and fatigued skin, this Vitamin C-based serum hydrates and rejuvenates, promoting overall skin balance.
Suitability: For all skin type, male and female
Retail size and price: 15ml @$57.78 | 30ml @$115.56
Verdict: This worked wonders for my tired and fatigued skin. I’ve been having some late nights, and my complexion is taking the brunt of hits. Besides needing hydration, a shot of Vitamin C helps lighten up any pigmentation from skin fatigue, and also boosts skin elasticity. Great especially if layering on right before bedtime.

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

 

Exclusive Box – INNI by La Source

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

This set includes item overlaps from the previous set –  Youthful Glow Enzyme Peel and the Skin Rescue Serum. I’m really in love with the white mini satchel and pretty orange ribbons! Everything about this packaging feels like I’m stepping into a spa room.

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

1. Illuminating Whitening Mask | 15ml
This unique brightening mask contains sea kelp, enzymes and minerals which work together to tone and brighten dull and tired looking skin.
Suitability: For all skin types, male and female
Retail Size and Price: 15ml @$15.65 | 80ml @$83.46
Verdict: I have fair skin in general and whitening masks never managed to achieve immediately visible effects. Or this could be because I was using this after a particularly late night. This revived my late-night, sleep-deprived zombie complexion, which instead of looking lifelessly gray, has taken on a slightly brighter tone. Will definitely try this again for more visible results.

2. Youthful Glow Enzyme Peel | 15ml

3. Skin Rescue Serum | 15ml

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

INNI by La Source - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Have never been to the La Source Spa, but from what INNI can do, the spa is definitely worth a visit somehow. Get these exclusive INNI skincare sets if you’re looking for some home-based pampering!

Named INNI – short for Infinity – the brand is founded on love for purity and wellness. All products are 100 per cent natural and made without parabens, mineral oils, artificial colorants, perfumes and fillers. Harnessing the power of the range’s signature ingredients – Australian heilmoor clay, a peat which has purifying, anti-ageing and rejuvenating properties.”

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

BlackBox SG – Winter Organics

What’s new in my beauty stash?  A box of cool face and body products from Winter Organics that I’ve been psyched to try out!

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

What are they:

Calendula Shower Gel 
Retail Size and Price:
 200ml, $19.90
Lather and cleanse in a field of budding marigolds, refreshing your mind as well as your skin. The organic flower extract calms skin irritation and replenishes dry skin with lashing moisture. pH5 formulation, certified organic and suitable for all skin types including sensitive/eczema skin.

Key Ingredients:
1. Calendula Extract: Gentle on the skin with moisturising properties. Beneficial for allergy prone and sensitive skin.
2. Rooibos Extract: High level of anti-oxidants to counteract the effects of premature aging. It’s anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties makes it perfect for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
3. Vetiver: Anti-septic and moisturising properties to protect skin.

Verdict: Gentle flowery scent of the soothing kind. You know how flowery fragrances can get really sweet and annoying, but this one grows on you. I can foresee my family and I using this again.

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Macadamia Hand & Body Lotion 
Retail Size and Price:
 100ml, $18.90
Safe for all skin types including sensitive skin, the Macadamia Hand and Body lotion uses the healing power of macadamia nut oil/milk and Tocopherol. Rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants, it keeps skin moisturised, improve the appearance of scars, helps with sunburn and other skin irritation. pH5 formulation, certified organic and suitable for all skin types including sensitive/eczema skin.

Key Ingredients:
1. Macadamia Nut Milk/ Oil: Rich in Vitamin E. Improves the appearance of scars, helps with sunburn and other skin irritation. Promotes skin elasticity, youthful appearance and restore skin’s barrier function.
2. Tocopherol: Natural antioxidant which is rich in Vitamin E that promotes cell renewal, skin elasticity and help prevent the signs of ageing.
3. Chamomile Flower Extract: Anti-inflammatory and soothing, beneficial for allergy prone and sensitive skin.

Verdict: Handy bottle to carry around in your purse or handbag. The texture can get a little thick and takes some time to absorb into your skin, but when it finally does, leaves a pleasant lingering scent. My skin was left moisturised for a very long time.

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Cacao Facial Scrub 
Retail Size and Price: 100ml, $26.90
Cacao is a natural beauty superfood. With high level of antioxidants, Vitamin C, E, magnesium antioxidants, it enhances cellular regeneration to develop a healthy glow and clear skin. Triple natural gentle exfoliants of bamboo powder, argan shell powder and olive seed powder gently polishes and exfoliates. pH5 formulation certified organic and suitable for all skin types including sensitive/eczema skin.

Key Ingredients:
Triple Natural Gentle Exfoliants – Bamboo powder, Argan shell powder and Olive seed powder
1. Cacao: a natural beauty superfood. With high levels of antioxidants, Vitamin C, E, magnesium and antioxidants, it enhances cellular regeneration to develop a healthy glow and clear skin.
2. Olive Squalane: Derived from olives, it is similar to our skin own molecular structure. It’s biocompatibility allows it to penetrate all layers of skin for hydration, rejuvenation and nourishment of our skin.
3. Papaya Extract Enzymes have exfoliating properties to remove dead and damaged skin. Improves tone and texture of skin.

Verdict: Indeed a natural beauty superfood! This is my favourite Winter Organics product from this set because it smells good, and does wonders to my skin. After one scrub, I swear my skin glowed a little, even after an entire day in a dry air-conditioned environment. Unlike many scrubs out there, it didn’t feel rough. But don’t take this for granted, when using a scrub, always only use your third and fourth fingers so you don’t harm the top layers of your skin.

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Chamomile Facial Cleanser 
Retail Size and Price: 100ml, $25.90
Refresh your skin with Chamomile Facial Cleanser pH5 for use day and night. Release the relaxing, soothing scent of a natural flower blend as you massage the cleanser into your moist skin. Soft chamomile, soothing aloe vera, sweet calendula, exotic ylang ylang, warm rosemary, and citrusy orange ingredients blend together for a luxurious natural fragrance. Our formulation of pH5 is suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin and speed up acne healing time with anti-inflammatory properties.

Key Ingredients:
1. Aloe barbadensis Leaf Juice: Anti-inflammatory, soothing, hydrating and toning
2. Seabuckthorn: High level of anti-oxidants, vitamins A,C,E & K and fatty omega to counteract the effects of premature aging.
3. Chamomile Flower Extract: Anti-inflammatory and soothing, beneficial for allergy prone and sensitive skin

Verdict: Chamomile always has that calming effect. When I use this to wash my face before bed, the au-naturale floral scent soothes my skin and relaxes my mind. I found the product slightly drying because after one wash, my skin felt a little tight. Then again this could be because I have been staying in air-conditioned areas for too long periods of time.  Overall I would still use this product again! Plus it’s handy enough to carry around for my showers at the gym.

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Winter Organics - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Winter Organics formulations are all natural, gentle on the skin, environmentally friendly and cruelty free. Natural and organic compounds are not only biodegradable and sustainable, they also do a better job than harsh chemicals which is a cheaper alternative for skincare. Certified organic ingredients must pass more rigorous standards of purity.

You heard it here first: Winter Organics Exclusive Box is available exclusively at S$61.60/box at BlackBox SG. (Usual Price: $88). Promotional price of S$49.90 is applicable to the first 30 sets only, after which this set will be sold at $61.90.

Don’t forget! Quote <<BBXJEAN10>> to enjoy an additional 10% off this or ANY exclusive sets at BlackBox SG 🙂

Direct shop link- http://blackbox.sg/luxury/detail/everything/Winter_Organics

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

The Face Inc – Revolutionary Primer Mist

Bustling with excitement as I’m writing this – The Face Inc has just, on 1 Nov, launched its Primer Mist and I’m honoured to be able to review this!

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Back in April, I had the pleasure of reviewing The Face Inc’s cleansing gel and active toner. I loved their lightweight texture and clear composition. And especially because it doesn’t create a layer of grease on my skin. The Primer Mist has not fallen short of expectations. It is indeed, as described on their website, a “lightweight hydration face mist that works instantly to hydrate, smooth and tighten skin in 15 seconds“. As The Face Inc suggests, the product is ideally for use before make up as a skin refresher and primer, to allow makeup to stay fresh for longer periods of time, but I spritz mine on before and after to lock in my makeup.

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean SingaporeThe Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean SingaporeRetailing at SGD68, the primer mist comes with a travel-sized spritz bottle and 2 refills (3x15ml). Shaped like a lipstick, the bottle is slim and small enough to slip into the pocket of my jeans, and even the smallest of purses, for all-day hydration on-the-go. Perhaps I’ve just found the perfect alternative to Vichy’s Eau Thermale, which I used to never leave home without.

To open, the blue top cap is easily slipped off, and a nozzle is revealed by twisting the bottom half of the spritz.

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Directions for use: Hold bottle 8 to 10 inches away from desired area and spray gently. Wait a few seconds before dabbing dry, and proceed with regular make-ip application. Can be used any time of day!

I tested this out first by first spritzing onto my hand – the liquid is clear,  but not completely watery (see first picture below). After spreading out the product evenly, absorbance rate was pretty fast. Within 15 – 30 seconds it was completely absorbed into my skin (see second picture below).The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

After application, a cool sensation persists. Zero grease/residue was left behind so it looks as though I didn’t apply any product at all and that I feel was the best quality of this primer mist. Fragrance-wise there were no distinctive smells at all, so it doesn’t irritate at all when you spritz close to your eyes or nose.

I brought this out to the gym this morning. Post-shower, this doubled really effectively as both toner and moisturizer, and even as a makeup setting spritz! Seriously given this super convenient design, even without learning about the product, I’m already sold. Just take my money already. Loving this sleek blue hydrating primer mist so much, that I’m just so glad it comes with refills.

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Please refer to this snapshot for complete detailed directions for use!

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

The Face Inc Primer Mist - Viktoria Jean Singapore

Thank you, The Face Inc.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

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