4.28.2011

The last days of Lanka: Stripes, Monkeys, and 400 year old forts...


The last 3 days in Sri Lanka flew by in a second. We visited a temple dating back to 2nd century B.C, where we saw a 100 year old sacred Buddhist tree with flowers that only blossom for one day, got introduced to the customs of Sinhalese New Year, tried a bunch of oil cakes,  saw super cute monkeys and some fierce water buffaloes, and almost bumped into the Sri Lankan President who was celebrating his birthday in his hometown of Tangalle.  

4.24.2011

Sri Lanka, Markets, Vegetables, Fruits and Curries

Happy Easter guys! I apologize for being super crap with updating my blog, but I have had really bad holiday blues this week after coming back from Sri Lanka and I have been catching up on work and sports (read: unsuccessfully trying to lose 2-3 kilos). Anyways we are having a 4 day Easter weekend so things are looking up! Last 3 days have been about some serious eating, drinking, sleeping, wakeboarding and chilling. I have so many photos left to show you from Sri Lanka, hope you are not getting too bored of them.

4.15.2011

Learning to surrender to the waves and dressing up on holiday


Monday was just a day of relaxing, swimming and reading, while on Tuesday we managed to go surfing at 7 am, followed by shopping for vegetables at the local market,  culminating the day with my first ever cooking lesson. There are so many amazing photos that I will split the posts into two, so please bear with me.

4.13.2011

Road to Paradise Day 2, Colombo to Tangalle + Introducing Michael Jackson the albino turtle...



The road to paradise. Waking up in the morning and knowing that you have a week of holiday ahead is what happiness is. On Sunday, following breakfast, we embarked on a 5 hour drive to Tangalle. The organized chaos reigned on the road once we left the city. At any one point in time you could find a cyclist, a biker, a water buffalo, a tuk tuk, a car, a giant truck and a crazy bus all driving on the road. Everyone was over taking and aside from all the vehicles you also had people and dogs unexpectedly crossing the road, but somehow no one got killed.

We stopped at a turtle hatchery that was destroyed in the tsunami but rebuilt with peoples donations. The place had the cutest little baby turtles, once the turtles get to 5 years old they let them out and then they come back to hatch to the same places in 5 years time. My favourite turtle was the rare albino turtle the guys at the hatchery named :) .... Michael Jackson! Priceless...

Sri Lankans love their coconuts - they call them the King coconut and use them for anything from cooking, to beauty products, to making Arrack the national alcohol. At the hatchery we were "lucky" to try some of the fresh Arrack in the first stage of the fermentation process: warm, white and foamy! I would advise you strongly against trying it especially before a 3 hour drive.

Finally after what started to seem like an eternity we have arrived to our hotel in Tangalle. A peaceful coconut grove, a library full of the coolest books on anything from design to sci-fi, fresh seafood and delicious curries plus yoga at sunset. Happy days! The concrete claws of Hong Kong have finally started to loosen their metal grip on my head allowing me to relax.


Outfit pants Zara, scarf Massimo Dutti, top Jim Thompson, wedges the evil and blister-giving but oh so cool Jean Michel Cazabat, glasses ASOS 


4.12.2011

Sri Lanka Delicious Organized Chaos - Colombo day 1

Dress H&M, Belt Massimo Dutti, Hat Lantau island corner shop 4$, glasses ASOS

I felt the tingling feeling of anticipation the one, you get at the beginning of a journey, as our plane stopped off in the Singapore airport on the way from Hong Kong to Colombo. The place was like a beehive, hundreds of people rushing past us, there were people from all over the world: some wearing saris, some hijabs, there were some loud Australians with the "classical" shorts and sandals combos, families, backpackers, businessmen and tourist. I felt so much more alive in this multicultural chaos than in the air conditioned and somewhat sterile and orderly world of  central Hong Kong. 

Upon our arrival in Colombo airport we were greeted by the usual duty free selection together with multiple shops with domestic appliances?! The abundance of the latter left me wondering about the people who land in Colombo and upon landing their first impulse purchase is a nice new washing machine, together with some giant Toblerones and perfumes :)

As we exited the airport the sticky and thick night air of a tropical country swallowed us within a few second, the journey has officially begun.

We stayed in Tingatel, a Sri-Lankan version of Anouska Hempel's Blakes in London moody sexy with a lot of gray and black stripes, rich textures and clever dimmers everywhere. Following breakfast I left the hubster to chill in the hotel and ventured out to explore Colombo.
 
The ancients called Sri Lanka the Island of Serendipity, the medieval Arab traders Serendib, the magical island of gems and tea and much later cricket, many including the Dutch, the Portuguese and most recently the British have been drawn to this island. Despite the civil war with the Tamil tigers and the devastating tsunami in 2004, or maybe because of it, Sri Lanka is now stronger than ever, independent and free of civil wars.
 
Now moving on to Colombo, the city is a charming mish-mash of shanty buildings, Dutch and British colonial houses,  low rises, Buddhist and Hindu temples, mosques and small Christian churches, full of wise black crows and little colourful tuk-tuks, the mix of religion is fascinating, the boiling pot of colours and smells draws you right into it. 
 
Initially though all you notice is the decay: the old colonial buildings, the shabby museums, the beaten roads, the old cars, yet give it a better look and you can notice that from this rubble something new is emerging. New interior design shops, hotels, restaurants, new buildings are springing up everywhere. There is a feeling of change in the air, movement, come back to this city in 3-4 years and you won't recognize it.

Yet it is the people that make this country. Sri Lankas remind me of the omnipresent crows: graceful and proud, tactile and kind and even the kids have this wisdom in their dark almond eyes, wisdom of knowing that Sri Lanka has survived through all the colonisers and a civil war and it only made it stronger and more beautiful. What really touched me though was the people's shy but warm smiles that really make you feel safe and at home. 

Everything and everyone here is mixed, intertwined. The chaos is organized and there is a system to the movement of the tuk tuks, the flow of cars, people, the mix of cultures, even the buildings are both chaotic and somehow structured , everything has a purpose. Sri Lanka is a country of organized chaos.
As we were crossing the four lane road, my taxi driver who very kindly doubled up as a tour guide just stuck his hand out and all the tuk tuks and cars just stopped and let us pass. Had he tried the same trick on a busy Moscow road he would have been killed in a second, yet here it worked.

This a super long post but I have so much to write about Sri Lanka so more posts coming, and for those who cannot be bothered to read more photos coming :)

P.S. Must visit if you are in Colombo the Paradise road cafe, art gallery and shop! The coolest place in the city for art, carrot cakes, banana jam and cute stone elephants!

4.09.2011

Artisan Vienna Cafes, Creamy Pajamas and Bank Holidays



Due to the skyrocketing rents and a lack of cafe culture, Hong Kong has very very few cool, small cafes that have a character and home made cakes to die for. London, Vienna, NYC , Paris or Sydney think of any international city  - it is the small businesses that define and shape the fabric of that city, it is the small unique places created with love and passion that make that city different that allow you to embark on that exciting journey of discovery.

Last Tuesday I took my favorite Hong Kong blogger girls Sam and Sybil to Sheung Wan to show them my new discovery Cafe Loisl, a new Artisan Viennese Café that  just "soft " opened on Tai On Terrace.  "Soft" opened because they are still waiting for proper furniture and some photographers and art for the walls. However it already really feels like a small piece of Europe when you step into the cafe. The coffee selection is incredible, they sell coconut water, have delicious home made cakes and they even have a huge jar of Mirabell Mozartkugeln chocolates by the till. My most favorite chocolates in the world. Wait for it, the best is that they serve their coffee with a glass of water with a silver spoon, just like in the old Viennese cafes.

 They are looking to expand their selection of home made bakeries and will introduced some artisan sandwiches by the end of May. A great antidote to the generic stale rubbish of Starbucks and Pacific coffee! They even have soya milk! 
I really hope they make it, as we need more places like that in this city of mega shopping malls and big brand names.


Just thinking so what for me makes a perfect cafe?

The people behind it! - They have to be passionate about coffee, tea, cakes and the service. They must have a big smile and have lots of cool stories.
The place - cute, eclectic and quirky. Full of magazines and books to read, with big glass jars full of candy and chocolates. With lots of wood, a black chalk board with daily specials and a long table where everyone can sit down, or alternatively lots of little cosy tables. Another must have constantly forgotten about in Hong Kong is dimmers! Lighting is crucial to the mood of any place
The music - fun but not too loud, indie, chilled house, Ben Harper, Julia & Angus Stone, Bossa  Nova, Jazz?
Homemade cakes! Made with passion. My favorite places in London are the Rose Bakery, Baker & Spice and Melt for chocolate, oh and the cafe in the Liberty of London for their vegan options and teas. In Hong Kong I cannot really think of many places aside from Classified (which is more of a wine and cheese place), Pop Bites on Old Baily street had good charms but was eaten by the expensive rent, Life Cafe is not bad but needs a good wash and lacks a sparkle + urgently needs a new menu. If you have any places that you know please email them to me and if you are in the area make sure to pop by Cafe Loisl to support this little piece of Europe.

 As for the outfit and the photos, the weather was crap and un-summery on Tuesday and I decided to boycott it and pretend that it was summer. I was hoping the weather would listen and get sunnier! Sam is just the best photographer and Sheung Wan is the equivalent of Notting Hill in London 10 years ago: quiet, full of green, low rises, small businesses, by far my favorite place in central and there are lots of great places for photos!

Scarf: Massimo Dutti, Jacket Zara, cropped top H&M, Sunglasses RayBan, pajama Shorts Something Else (an Aussi brand I have recently discovered), Jean-Michel Cazabat espadrilles, Mulberry clutch 

I am on holiday in Sri Lanka now, so much to update you on and so many photos to upload. It's day one and I am absolutely loving to be traveling again, nothing makes me happier than discovering new places! Hope you are all having an awesome weekend!




 

4.04.2011

A secret hideaway ... home away from home ... a floating house where time stops.

I want to tell you a secret. A secret about a home away from home, where time stops and the air is clear where the sunsets are always dreamy and the water is really really blue. A barge in the new territories is a place where we only bring really good friends, it is shabby but chic fish farm, a floating wooden house that becomes our home on  the weekends. 

We bring lots of food, burgers, cheese, baguettes (I do have a lot of French friends so cheese and bread are imperative for survival) chocolates and Rose. We bring magazines and good music (this is the place where I heard my first MGMT song), and only close friends are allowed to come. We get a boat to come and pick us  up and take us wake boarding for an hour or two. We make barbecues and run around, we chit chat and nap (especially following a big night out), we watch the sunset and then finally we drive back home. 

We enter Hong Kong at twilight from the North point side of the island nothing beats Hong Kong at that time of the day, the buildings floating in the pink-blue air, the small boats in the marina,  the breath-taking skyscrapers, and the green peak at the back, the city I now call home!

 
I was feeling super summery and decided it was time to dig out my last years breton one piece from H&M and mix with my new bright green skirt. I think if you have seen the PRADA campaign this year, stripes seem like the  most versatile piece of your wardrobe. Hope you like the photos.  If you have time please vote for me on chictopia. Oh and if you are feeling jealous because of the weather, then don't - today it's grey and raining and the humidity is pretty much at 100%. Oh the fickle Hong Kong Spring how you are driving me mad ... Bodysuit H&M, skirt and bag ZARA, shoes and glasses ASOS, and belt Topshop... The dangers of buying on ASOS is that you cannot try the stuff on, so these shoes arrived half a size too small :( so now I cannot close them at the back, oh well at least they look cool :)