Next Tokyo visit, next week!

I take off for Tokyo next Friday…and am getting excited!

It has been 11 months since I was last there, unlike when I used to go 2 to 3 times a year. Last November I spent 9 or 10 days there and here’s a little recap of the highlights.

Shopping!

I bought this now favourite jacket of mine, a teal feather jacket from gal brand Sly - seen here with Issey Miyake Pleats Please lurex top and multi cross necklace from Black Peace Now.  I’ll be wearing another Pleats Please top I bought in an upcoming outfit post, but in bright aqua.

Sly Japan, Issey Miyake, pleats please

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New site Alt Scene Asia

Hellooo lovelies! I know I’ve been off in the ethernet once again….but I have been making way for a new website that will better integrate some of my interests, provide a better service and be more informative, leaving this one for my personal blogging. I’ve had so many people ask me, “where’s good to go for alternative music & culture in Japan/Singapore/Malaysia/India/Cambodia?”etc and usually I cobble together a facebook reply with lists, and point them towards my blog and certain tags.

I had a lightbulb moment a few weeks ago (drinking beer and watching something like Nat Geo or or TLC on foxtel), that there ought to be a website that alternative type people can check out, to look up where’s cool to go in each city. Now, there certainly exist numerous websites that cover their own city or country and in great depth, along with other sites that do all of Asia but with only glancing references to the alternative scenes there (like Lonely Planet or certain parts of CNN).

There are also those wesbites dedicated to their music style, such as Punk or Dark Alternative, and they cover off artists, gigs and scenes all over the world – but only in their genre. But how to bring these into the one place? While necessarily sacrificing the detail and depth of a genre-specific website, I believe there is value in putting together on one site, posts that link people to the sorts of places they’d like to visit when travelling in Asia, of course providing links to those more detailed sites for those who want to read more.

Anyway, that’s the vision, and that’s where Alt Scene Asia comes in. I’d like to cover alternative music scenes such as punk, post-punk, goth, deathrock, rockabilly, psychobilly, maybe industrial and just weird shit, as well as fashion, food, art & culture. In some places, just finding a place that plays *rock* is a battle, where everywhere you go you hear mainstream pop, R&B, urban, and artists like Rihanna blaring at you from every shop or bar. I do not want to cover off that stuff, or mainstream asian genres like K-pop and J-pop. There are enough sites serving them already ;)

So, AltSceneAsia. I’m gathering together a team from various cities and countries to write, because local knowledge is key, and also hoping to have a lot of guest writers. So if you know about a certain city, or know people who do, please drop me a line.

So that’s the place where I’ll do more informational posts, not that there won’t still be some here, but this blog will more be my personal experiences while travelling (as it always has been), alternative events etc here in Sydney, and my fashion and style inspirations.

In other exciting news, I’m off to Japan again! I haven’t been there since last November, and really need an update to stay current. Plus, I just can’t wait to go back ;) It also looks like I’ll have a quick mini-vacay to Myanmar with hubby the month after…so will hopefully get some local knowledge of the punk scene there, as well as just holidaying.

And now back to the website, to get it passable before promoting it. I’m no code monkey, and the tweaking is taking aaaaages!

ION Orchard, Food Opera, Padang Padang

On earlier visits to Singapore I had breezed through ION Orchard as part of the Orchard Road experience. But something was missing. I was yet to experience the wonder that is Food Opera, the very upmarket hawker-style food court in the ION Orchard basement. Time to rectify that.

For those who haven’t been to Singapore, Orchard Road is THE premier district for shopping malls; mainly upmarket but with some budget-friendly, old school surprises lurking amongst the almost spage-age architectural statements.

ION Orchard is arguably the best of the best.  66,000 square metres in size, with 4 levels above ground and 4 levels below, ION offers over 300 retail, food & beverage and entertainment options.

The luxury brands are all there: Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, Miu Miu etc, as well as mid-range favourites like Topshop, Zara and Uniqlo. (Yes, I confess, i *may* have made some purchases here).

ION offers fine dining as well as food chain outlets, delis and confectioners, cafes and bars, mostly on the basement floors but also on the floors above.

It is the ION food hall on Basement level 4 that I gravitate towards, and the outlets here are outstanding. Old Chang Kee, Punggol Nasi Padang and the Wang San Yang Tea Pavilion nestle alongside Ginza Bairin and 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken!

Food Opera is the primary one, offering 22 stalls and 4 mini-restaurants in the hawker style. Aesthetically there is an immediately appealing sense of history and homeliness, as well as luxury and whimsy. Modern design trends, such as animal heads on the walls and large sculptures are everywhere, including animal sculptures such as deer, pigs, giraffe and even golden dragonflies and insects. Uber-glamorous chandeliers illuminate the space, throwing the beautiful gilt ceiling mouldings into sharp relief. Yep, you sure feel like you’re somewhere swanky!

But enough of me telling you about it; take a look for yourself:

Food Opera in ION Orchard Singapore

Peacocks and stag/deer heads look down on Hainan Chicken Rice & BBQ Seafood outlets

  

A large golden dragonfly looks down from the Draft Beer stall; an ornate ceiling at Ah Wok restaurant makes looking up worthwhile

  Ah Wok in Food Opera

I tell you, I walked around for AAAGES trying to decide what to eat. As I am very fond of the flavours of Malay, Indonesian and Peranakan cuisine, it is no wonder that I finally decided upon Padang Padang for my lunchtime repast.

Padang Padang (so good they named it twice!)

Padang Padang in Food Opera

Food Republic, which owns Food Opera, had this to say about Padang:

Padang cuisine is the traditional food of ‘Urang Minang’ (Minang people) who inhabit West Sumatera, Indonesia. The key to Padang cuisine’s rich flavour and mouth-watering aroma is the correct blend of spices. Padang Padang is owned by Mrs Wahyuningsilh and the recipes are inspired by her grandmother – a 3rd generation Peranakan in Indonesia. At Padang Padang, they are committed to using only natural ingredients and processing them traditionally to retain their original taste and health benefits.

Signature Dishes: Nasi Kuning Ayam Merah, Rendang Sapi (Beef Rendang), Ayam Goreng Bumbu (Padang Fried Chicken with Spices), Ikan Asam Pedras (Spicy & Sour Fish), Gado-Gado Padang (Padang Mixed Vegetables), Cabe Merah /Hijau Padang (Special Red/Green Padang Chilli)

Padang Padang was crowned one of the top 3 Hawker Kings at Food Republic.

Food Republic reviews some other Food Opera outlets Soup Guru, Ah Wok and Scott’s Beef Noodles here.

As for me, I ordered the Nasi Kuning with Ayam Merah, which is yellow rice with chicken in a red gravy largely comprised of tomato, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, chilli and soy. YUMMERS!!

Ayam Merah & Nasi Kuning

The chicken was still still just a little crispy from having been fried first, and the sauce was extremely tasty without being burn-your-mouth-out hot. There was a beautiful balance of salty, sweet and chilli. I also could have chosen a multi-dish from their many meat and vegetable options (as you can see in the photo above). Next time I think I just might!

In need of some freshening up before I hit the street again, I encountered the splendour that is the ION Orchard ladies toilets! Honestly, how glamorous are these? And as I left the modern mall, I couldn’t help but laugh at these fantastic coloured sculptures of shoppers, seen at the front of ION Orchard:

 

So whether for the shopping or the food, ION Orchard is definitely worth perusing next time you’re in Singapore.

Have you already been? What are your fave shops or food outlets?

 Food Opera @ ION Orchard
#B4-03/04 Ion Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
Singapore 238801
Tel: +65 6509 9118

Operating Hours:
ION Orchard
10am to 10pm

Food Opera:
8am to 10pm Monday – Thursday
8am to 11pm Friday, Saturday, Eve of Public Holidays
10am to 10pm Sunday

Connecting with yourself through travel

Why do we travel?

I think it comes down to how it makes us feel. Travel yanks us out of our routines, which may be mind-numbing. While much of our life is lived in auto-pilot, changing our routine and actual place on the planet makes us more inclined to be self-reflective and aware of our emotions.

What joy there is in gazing on a perfect red flaming sunset, as the oozing ruby ball melts leisurely over azure waters. Or walking along a deserted beach as the sun shines down upon our bare skin. Or perhaps it’s the bracing feel of crisp, chilled air on our face as we look out on endless miles of snow. Perhaps it’s the pungent smell of an asian fishmarket that gets you going,  the cacophanous din of a Moroccan market, the adrenaline thrill of climbing a mountain or scoring a great bargain.

Whatever it is, there is something in these experiences that just makes us feel ALIVE. It connects ourselves with ourselves.

What is it about travel that makes YOU feel alive?

When I was on Tioman Island 10 days ago, I felt my heart swell when I looked upon the ocean as I walked down the coast road. I felt euphoric as I watched a spectacular sunset, whilst cradling my first beer of the night.  I almost swooned as the last rays of light subsided on the horizon, and hundreds of bats flew majestically across the sky. Truly, all of these experiences are etched in my memory.

Ahhh…. There will be more posts on Tioman Island coming up, as well as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. But for now, Tioman holds the strongest sense memories of this holiday for me.

What are some of your fondest travel memories?

I got new hair extensions in Singapore!

Yes, I got long wavy hair extensions installed when I was in Singapore. Getting exte’s is a common thing for gyaru’s, but I’m  not really “gal”. The one time I had it done previously was in Australia, and for a LOT more. So, extes in Singapore.  I think it’s a rite of passage or something, like getting your hair braided in Bali (but hopefully more tasteful looking).

I researched and found that the main names coming up were Angel Xin, Vain, Milly’s, and H & C Carnival. In the end, I just trotted off to the Far East Plaza near Orchard Road, and took my chances.  On the 3rd floor there are various beauty salons, and I kept wandering past a few of them, eventually heading in to Vain Hair & Beauty. The main shop is seen below:

 …and the one I went into was just opposite, at shop 140

Vain Hair extensions Singapore

200 extensions would be $100, or 400 for $200. I ended up getting 400 (or so they told me). Although I still have a lot of blue hair, my roots and a good 6-8 inches are my natural dark brown, and so they matched the extes more or less to that. (I think they could’ve gone a little darker actually, but it’s ok). Here are the halfway and completed shots.

 

And from the front? I tried a few self-camera shots back in the hotel room:

 

I ended up trimming one of the sides that was hanging down longer at the front, but overall I’m pretty pleased with them. I think they look quite natural, being wavy, and now “I can haz mermaid hair”!  I feel very girly swishing the wavy wisps over my shoulder. So waddya reckon, eh?

Yeah…not bad!

I can see this will work very well when I wear gothic fashion or gyaru fashion…and definitely saves me time by not having to straighten my own hair. It looks better the wavier it is, blending in more with the wavy extensions. Even in humid weather as in KL, it looks good. I’m sold! If you’re ever in Singapore, go ye to the 3rd floor of the Far East Plaza and check it out:

Vain Beauty
Far East Plaza
No. 14 Scotts Rd
#03-113 or #03-140
Singapore  228213
+6597115290

What about you? Have you ever had long hair extensions installed, either at home, or overseas? Were you pleased with the results?