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Thursday, May 28, 2015

When it comes to travelling and my hair, I like to bring as few things as possible. There's NOTHING worse than having bottles of hair product leak in your suitcase. Trust me. While I'm travelling I'm rarely doing fancy things with my hair anyways, so it's not like I need the entire contents of my bathroom. Most of the time my hair is up in a ponytail or bun anyways. As long as my hair looks halfway decent while travelling, I'm not too concerned.

Hair serum: This is a really cheap serum I purchased at Bed, Bath and Beyond that works reasonably well. Since China is hot and humid during the summer, I'm bringing a single product that works to combat the conditions I will be in. A serum is generally a good bet because it is useful when the air is more humid or more dry than you are used to. Just bring something you know that can slick down any weird fly-aways!

Conditioner:  I found this conditioner while in college and bought a bottle specifically for this trip. It smells nice and tropical-y while making my hair really shiny and smooth. A deep conditioner is essential for travel because different environments can make your hair act weird. The differences in water between countries can really mess with your scalp-- when I moved to Singapore, my hair fell out for months getting used to it. A really good conditioner can make the difference between impossible to deal with hair and hair that actually looks okay in photos.

Comb: I find my peach-wood comb essential for everyday styling and detangling. I'll talk more about wood combs in another post, but wood combs are awesome.

Boar-Bristle Brush: I've only recently started using this every day, but I think it's worth bringing. I like brushing my hair because it adds shine, detangles and gets rid of fly-aways.

Some other things I am bringing that are not pictured above: hair bands and bobby pins. That's it!

Wait a second... there are a few things that you may have noticed I did not include:

Shampoo. At least with me, it doesn't matter what shampoo I use. It's all about the conditioner.

Hair dryer. I've been to several 3rd world countries, and 99% of the time I have been able to find a hair dryer somewhere. I don't actually use hair dryers, but it's nice to know that most places have them.

Hot styling tools. Unless you are sure you know your tools work outside the country and you cannot live without them for some reason, leave them at home. Not only do they damage hair, but who knows how your hair will react in a different environment anyways? Those curls you spent half an hour working on may go flat in the humidity, or worse, frizz beyond saving.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Prior to my flight today (Friday, though you're reading this on Tuesday), I've only flown First Class internationally once. It was an American Airlines flight to Taiwan and it was really, really nice. This is the first time I'm travelling by myself and I'm ultimately going to China, but I was able to go British Airways First Class for the first leg of my journey to London. I will probably never be able to fly First again, but I have to say this experience is really nice. I don't know how most people end up flying First, but I was able to do so through my family's accumulated frequent flier miles. My poor father probably accumulated most of those miles!

The best part about First is the lounges. I decided to go to the Concorde Room in JFK airport for a second dinner because the Concorde Room is only available to First-class passengers or Gold Flier members. Apparently they have another lounge entirely that is also First, but I didn't realise that at the time. While I was there I ate some smoked salmon and a chicken dish.

Since I'm not a food or a travel blogger I didn't whip out my big camera, but the photos turned out okay anyways. I decided to not sit in the dining room (mostly because the tables were designed for two people) so I got to eat off a tray while sitting in a squishy chair. One woman in particular looked after me... her name escapes me, but she was very nice!

Then I got on the plane. I don't have terribly good photos of my seat because I didn't want to make a fuss, but here's a photo anyways. They gave me a pair of pyjamas and a really posh looking toiletry set. While I think it's standard to nick the toiletry set, I don't know if most people take the pyjamas. Well, I did. Hopefully the British Airways pyjama police don't come for me. 

After landing in Heathrow I learned that because I had flown to London in First Class, I could use the LHR Concorde Room lounge! Naturally I've been trying to take advantage of it as much as possible. I'm using its Internet, I took a shower in one of their little shower rooms, and I'm going to try and get my nails done later. Since everything is included I don't feel bad in the slightest. After all, if you have access to lots of things you might as well use them. I've got a pretty long layover here so I'm probably going to take a nap on one of the couches. I have temporarily set my clocks to UK time so I know when to board my plane but my body has no idea what time it is. Jetlag in China is going to suck.

Obviously First Class is a huge treat and I NEVER expected to fly First on my way to China! Regardless I hope you found this interesting. The next posts in my Travel Talk three-part series are more about how to pack rather than my specific travels. When I get back from China I'll probably write about my trip quite a bit before going back to beauty/baking/whatever. Can't wait to go shopping for my China/Asia-beauty giveaway!
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

I'm taking off today! I'm really excited to go to China but significantly less excited to sit on a plane for roughly 20 hours total. I think I have a full 24 hours of travel to actually get to China... and I don't think a full day travelling is anyone's idea of a great day. Regardless, I've done a lot of flying before and firmly believe I have enough experience to give some advice.

I personally think these flying tips are the more relevant of flights 6 hours or over, but obviously they apply to all time in the air! The most important thing I've learned to do on an airplane is wear sneakers. My feet (and probably other people's feet) swell on flights, so wearing shoes that don't squish my feet really help me be comfortable on the plane. Sneakers are also excellent travel shoes in case you find yourself running through the airport. Everyone's done it at least once... Don't be the poor girl in heels!

Drink a lot of water on the plane. The humidity on the plane is a lot lower than what most people find comfortable, and I find it really dries out my throat. Drinking lots of water helps compensate. Try to avoid eating really salty food. Not eating that super-salty bag of pretzels might help prevent bloating and having to drink even more water.

Bring something that calms you down in the event of turbulence. I've been on a bazillion flights and still think the plane is going to fall out of the sky when there's even a little bit of turbulence. Familiar music, a passage from a book, or a stuffed animal all can make turbulence a little bit easier to deal with.

If you're doing a long haul flight, map out what you're going to do on said flight before hand and during the flight so it feels shorter. For example, on a 12 hour flight you can comfortably watch two movies and sleep for 8 hours. You could also sleep for six hours, read a book for a while and watch a movie. Or you could write your blog on the plane until your fingers feel like they are going to fall off, then sleep until landing. Whatever you end up doing, it will help you mentally deal with being stuck on a plane for the long haul.

What do you consider a long flight? I divide flight times into quick, short, medium, longish and long haul flights.

Quick: 2 hours or less. Totally manageable and easy.  Most stressful aspect-- airports.
Short: 4 hours or less. Reading and munching, not too bad.
Medium: 6 hours. Enough time to nap, watch a movie and eat. Favourite length overall-- if I'm going to deal with two airports, I might as well be in the air for a while.
Longish: Under 12 hours. Depending on time of day, these are either sleep-the-whole-time or movie-binge flights.
Long haul: 12 hours and over. The longest flight I've ever been on was the 18-hour Singapore to Newark flight on Singapore Airlines. Great airlines, terribly long flight. Plan of attack-- sleep.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I turned 19 last Thursday... so what better way to celebrate than by making my own birthday cake? When I was younger I made my parent's cakes-- my mom got a beautiful lemon chiffon, and my dad got everything from jelly rolls to a 10-hour white chocolate cake. I tended to make my own birthday cake out of a box, however, because I didn't want to go through all that fuss.

Anyways, my good friend from Singapore came over and we baked an awesome 4-egg cake straight out of the 1970's Joy of Cooking. Even though the cake was a little cold fashioned (and tasted oddly like cornbread without any frosting on it), it turned out lovely. We baked a big cake (9") and a little cake (6')... pictured below is the adorable 6" cake! It's frosted with homemade whipped cream.

Wasn't it a pretty cake? I'll talk about some of the stuff I got for my birthday on Thursday!
A photo posted by Natalie (@natalie.mei) on
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Today is my nineteenth birthday! It's hard to believe I'm starting my last year as a teenager. I'm not really a huge fan of list posts, but I'm going to make a list of eighteen things I learned over the past year, and nineteen goals I have for this upcoming year.

1. Change is good, even if it is challenging.
2. There are some friends that will be there for you no matter what. Value them.
3. How to do my own laundry.
4. Simple pleasures are sometimes the best ones.
5. How terrible the Boston T is.
6. A ton of stuff about anthropology that I won't use, but found interesting.
7. You don't have to drink to have fun.
8. My alcohol limit.
9. Sometimes you have to walk away from a situation when things aren't working out.
10. Lend a hand, but only if it doesn't bring you down.
11. How to make an excellent paper airplane.
12. There's always one teacher/professor that will change how you look at the world.
13. You don't need a lot of friends, you just need good ones.
14. Daring to be different can be awesome. Read: Dinosaur suit.
15.  Jury duty is a royal pain in the butt.
16. Other people have opinions. You might not share them, but listen to them.
17. Loving someone isn't enough, they have to love you back.
18. Being a legal adult is kind of a pain.

I did a lot of different things when I was eighteen! I graduated high school, moved from Singapore, and finished my first year of college. It's kind of crazy that my life changed that much in the course of a year-- thankfully I have plenty of friends who did the exact same thing. Regardless, it was still a total whirlwind of a year that I could not be more grateful for.

Now, here are nineteen goals I have for being nineteen.

1. Don't skip the gym.
2. Be slightly less sarcastic.
3. Study more.
4. Sleep more.
5. Do not fail computer science class.
6. Explore everywhere I get to go.
7. Smile more.
8. Give up less.
9. Laugh more.
10. Read more.
11. Get a job on campus.
12. Get better at blog photography.
13. Be a better daughter, more consistently.
14. Become a better ice-skater.
15. Start dancing more.
16. Work on aerial silks.
17. Be flexible.
18. Blog more consistently.
19. Become a better person.

This picture was taken by my friend right before I left Boston. I surprised her and brought a kite to the park-- she just thought we were  going to try and take cute pictures. I hope as a nineteen-year-old I'm more spontaneous, like this day at the park!

I'm actually baking a cake with my best friend from Singapore today, which I will write about in another post. I feel so bad that I haven't been blogging much lately. Regardless, I'm going to be posting biweekly while in China, and then when I get back I'm going to do a giveaway with some stuff I get there. Then consistent posting until the school year starts again...
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Something that is very popular in East Asia is double-eyelid surgery. I think this started off as a Korean trend (and it's commonly associated with Korean Pop), but it's become increasingly popular in Japan and China. It's become so popular that makeup trends in Japan often account for the scar by covering it with brown makeup-- or if you have natural double eyelids, a brown highlight is drawn anyways.

If you don't have double eyelids naturally and don't want the surgery, a lot of girls use eyelid tape to fake double eyelids. I've used this stuff before to increase my double eyelid fold.... yes, I'm lucky and naturally have double eyelids. Apparently my fold isn't as big as it could be though, which means on at least one occasion I've worn tape. It's uncomfortable. Honestly though if I didn't naturally have double eyelids, I would probably have asked to get this done.

There's a lot of backlash from Western media about eyelid surgery, and many people think it's pretty barbaric.  Many dislike how common this procedure is in Asia. The West has a stronger focus on temporary fixes and "natural beauty" than the East in general does... in the East, you either fit the very narrow beauty standard or you're ugly and hear about it from old ladies all the time. Westerners don't blink at boob jobs or Botox, but the idea of making one's eyes bigger is somehow shocking.

Something weird about Asian models in the West is that they tend to have the narrowest, Asian monolid eyes ever. They would not necessarily be attractive in East Asia! It's like how the Indian woman who won Miss America would have been eliminated in the first round of Miss India for being too dark skinned.

So yes, for people who have recently asked my opinion about this surgery, I'm all for it if that's what you want. Honestly though, what you do to your face is none of my business. If you think you look prettier, more power to you.

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