Thursday, June 21, 2018

Jiabang Rice Terraces, Guizhou, China

Rice, staple food for most Asian countries and yet I can count the times I visited rice field with my both hands. I like the vast rice field that connects with the sky, looking at wind breeze through the paddy field, forming a sort of waves that sounded like rain. Everything seems distance, wide, and peaceful.

Until I've visited the rice terraces of Jiabang located at the south west side of Guizhou this April, hence I truly realise how blessed we are that we can plant paddies on open terrain and our soil is rich enough to provide nutrients to paddies that allow farmers harvest twice a year in a more comfortable way. Same type of plant, different terrain, different method and effort hence forming a unique type of scenery that I saw at Jiabang, Guizhou.

We arrived Jiabang by tour bus the night before after 6 hours ride and I can barely see my fingers throughout the whole journey after the sun sets. There are no street lights, houses scattered far and deep into the rice terraces, I can barely hear a sound that night when we check into our hotel.

Gloomy morning

The sky did not clear up for us that day boohoo T_T

From generation to generation, Jiabang rice terraces farmers are mostly Guizhou's Miao Tribe villagers. The harsh living condition did not stop them from farming and living a peaceful life on these mountainous terrain, yet they created a heaven on earth for themselves with all the hard work throughout their lives. I'm glad I get to witness the beauty of this 40 km² rice terraces as Jiabang isn't a fully developed tourist spot yet, only a few tourists get to seen here and there and most of them are photographers.

Jiaju Village where most of the locals live here.

Jiaju Village and rice terraces
Can you imagine if it was a sunny day?

Dog playing with rice terrace's mud! Look at its feet!!! So cute I cannot!

Hello little fella~

Farmers planting crops

Since it's a village, there are so many cute animals roaming around the street, into the rice terraces, and they looked adorable (when they are not chasing me fiercely hahahaha):

Since we're at rice terraces, what's more fun than brave ourselves to walk on the narrow dividers, enjoy the view up close? There are fishes and frogs that inhabits in these rice terraces, and also leeches! I was told to be cautious when walking at the border as most of these mud borders are soft and frail, do test out the solidity before you walk to avoid mud bath or worse: leech therapy! Of course, I wouldn't wanna destroy these rice terraces as well because I know how hard it was to build each and every segment, filled them with water and plant crops in it hence, be very careful with your each and every steps to preserve the hard work of farmers at Jiabang.

Clean air, mountain springs to fill the rice terraces, ample of sun, rich soil, these are some of the core elements to produce good rice and crops. Longevity isn't a rare sight among the villagers, I believe it is because of the pollution-free and stress-free environment, clean food, sufficient amount of labour work as exercise each day, there lies the known-fact of lifespan extension in a natural and harmless way.

When looking at Jiabang rice terraces, it reminds me of the basic skincare I brought with me during this trip. Formulated with more than 94% ingredients of natural origin, the Yves Rocher's Elixir Jeunesse Reviving Roll-On for Eyes and Double Action Essence are made with 3 promises:

  • Responsible sourcing (traceable, safe and sustainable supply chain)
  • Protecting the botanical resources
  • Sharing with local population (Madagascans)

Yves Rocher Elixir Jeunesse Double Action Essence

Yves Rocher Elixir Jeunesse Reviver Eye Roll On

Fancy packaging and invigorating scent aren't my main concern in my skincare routine anymore. What I'm more into nowadays are the source ingredients of each and every product I use as well as its effect on my skin. Patented in France, Yves Rocher's natural products contributes so much in maintaining ecosystem in cosmetic/skincare industry and they are against animal testing as well. Choosing a brand that help protects the environment from all aspect (using recycled or recyclable materials, eco friendly tube) indirectly put my mind at ease that I did my part on taking care the ecosystem while taking care of my skin.

Both roll on eye cream and essence are packed with over concentrated Madagascan Alphoia extract, these products are rich in phytochemical mangiferin that helps fight back environmental aggressors' oxidative attacks on skin that are triggered by polluted environment and UV rays. Alphoia extract absorbs fast into my skin, rejuvenates and detoxified my eyes and facial area. Leaving no greasy feelings,  my skin feels repaired, fresh and healthy upon every application even though my mind and body felt exhausted with long hours flight and rides.

nothing beats the relaxing feeling of applying this roll-on eye cream every day and night

Suitable for all ages, it's never too late to start take note of what products you're using. Yves Rocher is surprisingly affordable despite of its natural botanical ingredients with proven effectiveness (85% effective after 1 month usage), it feels good to be inspired by my skincare to be beautiful and act beautifully by preserving nature with each Yves Rocher products I've used.

Now I can laugh heartily knowing that my fine lines and wrinkles are gonna reduced with one month's Yves Rocher products usage.

For more information:

Yves Rocher Malaysia Official Store on Lazada

Jiabang's Information on Mafengwo (Chinese)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hoshino Coffee 星乃珈琲店, Mid Valley City, KL

I'm always in love with the ambience of Japanese drama, be it their fashion direction, house interior and decoration as well as shooting location at cafe. Hoshino Coffee, a Japanese-Western fusion cafe which has more than 180 outlets in Japan fulfilled my dream of indulging a cup afternoon coffee with a authentic Japanese cafe setting.

Waiters dressed in western-style butler outfit (albeit minus the attitude), dark wood interior with leather seatings and chandeliers, Japanese do have a unique way to incorporate certain elements smoothly into their culture. It was rather crowded on a weekday evening hence serving food and beverages took longer than I expected. 

Hand-Drip Coffee - Hoshino Blend

Hoshino Blend Coffee which uses Arabica beans that are carefully selected and roasted

I'm a big fan of flavoured coffee, Mocha, Caramel Latte or Chocolate based coffee are my usual orders. However it's been quite some time since I last had coffee that satisfy my cravings because they will usually taste too sweet/bland, burnt coffee bean, too much milk etc. I had a lot of disappointments towards Malaysian cafe to be honest. 

I'm keeping my skepticism towards Hoshino's Japanese flavoured milk coffee when I order but it turn out great. Out of my expectation, their honey nut syrup brings out the taste of milk coffee without overwhelming my taste bud. It has been a while since I last had coffee that I'll crave for second serving! It was shocking to know the fact that Japanese milk coffee exist since 1900 and it has become Japanese people's favourite type of coffee from then.

Japanese Milk Coffee with Honey Nut

The aromatic coffee blends well with milk, honey and nut syrup. Each sip comes along with chewy bits of nuts that brings out its uniqueness savouring this cup of milk coffee

Spaghetti and Rice are the main ingredients when it comes to main courses from Hoshino's menu. The choices fully depicted the fusion style of a Japanese cafe hence you can see there are Italian spaghetti and Spain paella on the list. We had Salmon & Mentaiko Butter as well as Seafood Paella. 

Salmon & Mentaiko Butter Spaghetti

Seafood Paella

I love my salmon & mentaiko butter spaghetti! It was creamy and rich in flavour with nicely done spaghetti. However the Seafood Paella tasted way too heavy on the MSG/savoury side with frozen prawns that aren't fresh looking (check the photo above). I would recommend stick back to their spaghetti or try their rice dishes or platter.

Pancake Soufflé with maple syrup

Fresh from oven, fluffy and soft, Hoshino's pancake soufflé is a dream come true. With good quality maple syrup and house-whipped butter (which I extra ordered!), this soufflé is soul calming in many ways.

Not bad for a weekday dinner menu eh.

Aside from good coffee, food and desserts, Hoshino Coffee provides Japanese magazines for reading purposes ( or as props for better looking photo). I spent most of my teen age reading Japanese fashion magazine I bought from Kinokuniya, and it's such a rejoice to reconnect with my hobby of reading in a Japanese cafe, 50% of my J-Drama day dream come true I would say.

I guess now I would need an air ticket to Japan for a better Japanese cafe ambience to truly live the life of a Japanese culture fan, or else having a cup of Japanese milk coffee at Hoshino Coffee would do just fine.

For more information:

Hoshino Coffee Malaysia Facebook Page
Hoshino Coffee Malaysia Official Website

Hoshino Coffee
No.27-G, Ground Floor,
(Opposite Starbucks) The Boulevard,
Lingkaran Syed Putra,
Mid Valley City,
59200 Kuala Lumpur.

Monday, April 30, 2018

What's Your Flava

Tell me what's your flava?

Did I just exposed my age with this opening? lolololol. This song was a big hit back in 2002 and it came into my mind when I received this lovely package from By Eggs.

What's in this cute package?

If you followed my Instagram (if you haven't please follow me I update more often there!) you saw I mentioned about this clay masks by eggs back in March. I had an ample of time trying two types of clay masks and would love to share more about this.

Tiramisu and Peppermint clay mask

I'm a huge fan of clay mask. I have a rather oily skin type and clay mask seems to be the only solution when it comes to deep cleanse my pores after my usual skincare regime. By Eggs is a Malaysia-born skincare products company and with the concept of "food for skin", these clay masks are formulated using preservative-free products, as well as using natural extracts to give more benefits to our skin.

Here are the ingredients in both my Tiramisu and Peppermint clay mask:
  • Tiramisu: Coffee, Walnut, Extra Bentonite (a type of powerful healing clay used in skincare recipes)
  • Peppermint Crush: Peppermint Oil, Lemongrass and Cucumber Extract

Sounds delicious to me, and in fact, upon opening up these jars, the aromatic smell of coffee and peppermint are so relaxing it already have the calming effect to my skin lol.

Gelato Clay Masks in Peppermint and Tiramisu
Warning to those who have children, they might think it's real gelato

Easy steps applying these yummilicious goodies to skin:

  1. Stir clay mask
  2. Apply an even layer 
  3. Wait 10 mins till the layer hardens
  4. Wet face to soften the mask
  5. Scrub gently while rinsing it off
  6. Enjoy glowing complexion after masking session

And here are some tips after my own usage experience:
  • You don't have to apply the mask all over your face. Focus on certain problematic areas such as peppermint crush for the forehead, T zone and chin area and Tiramisu for the cheek. You'll get better result when your skin's problem is targeted.
  • Peppermint Crush might feel a bit stingy upon applying, so avoid sensitive skin areas.
  • Wash off the Tiramisu clay mask with cleanser as it tends to leave a layer of coffee residue if I only rinse off with water. 
  • Refrain from tasting the clay masks although you might drool upon opening them. Especially if you haven't had a cuppa for the whole day.

Have fun painting your face!

Thank you By Eggs!

Summer is coming and I'm thinking of getting Watermelon Sorbet and Summer Lavender! Should I?
Place order here!

Friday, March 30, 2018

WuMao Earth Forest & Langbapu Earth Forest, Yuanmou, Yunnan

Yuanmou, located inside Yunnan province of China, was famous for the discovery of Yuamou Man in year 1965. However not many people I know heard of Yuanmou before, moreover these wonderlands of Yuanmou's Earth Forests or known as TuLin土林 in Mandarin. Caused by earth movements and erosions, the formation of pillar-like landscapes gives away "trees in a forests" illusions to people who view them from afar.

Earth Forests has been one of the amazing landscape I've viewed in year 2017. It was magnificent, breathtaking and strange, at that very moment I can feel I'm surrounded by time, not the concept of time but the whole 2 million years it took to form all these, the feeling was indescribable it gave me goosebumps. 

How small we humans are compare to the power of nature?

I think it took about 4 hours bus ride for us to reach WuMao TuLin from Kunming city, 35degree of scorching hot weather, it kinda make strolling through these rock formations harder that I thought but the views around are sensation to the eyes whenever we encounter odd looking formations and locals have named a few of those formations according to the object/folk tales they resemble. 

Main entrance of WuMao Tulin
Saw the electric car at side? We took a short ride to the exit because it was an easier course to walk the path reversely. 

Our first sight of WuMao Tulin - City of Satan

Weathered landscapes were formed by clay, red soil and yellow silt, the layers are rich in colours which is the perfect depiction of time stood still.

It looks like an eerie demon mask to me, what do you see?

The main route of WuMao Tulin was more than 2KM covering 10 major scenic spots and not to mention there are many little routes here and there that leads to 45 other spots which wasn't frequently visit by tourists. We are like the only tourists there at 2pm and there wasn't sight of other tourists at the end of our visit, which I enjoyed because I can spend some sweet time taking photos and videos without rushing or worry blocking others.

There are some rest pavilion located here and there along the main route but I like it more sitting on the rocks, admiring the rock formations upclose.

It wasn't an easy sightseeing spots if I were to be honest, at least not in the late summer/early autumn where there wasn't any cold breeze blew through the area. A pair of sunglasses, water bottles and plenty of sunblock is a must if you were to visit Earth Forests. With sunglasses blocking extra sunrays and my habit of looking for odd photo taking spots, I spotted this magical place called Rift and it reminded me the Grand Canyon in lighter colour version.

We stood here for a bit, try to catch a breather from the weather
It was quiet, we let the silence of time immerse into our souls

Toad Crying For Rain
Can you see the toad?

Jackie Chan starred in a movie in year 2010 and it was filmed at WuMao Tulin, hence there were some props left behind in the area which compliments the Earth Forest in a subtle way 

Saw this sign just right before we enter the tunnel below

A very small tunnel which cut through one of the rock formation

Seriously, each and every turn of WuMao Tulin is photogenic, we kind bursts our memory cards just to capture the beauty of it.

Can't recall which area is this but it looks like a mini version of Monument Valley

Particularly like this area because of the western architecture structure it gave me, I will definitely name it as Ruins of Parthenon

Somewhere near the Ruins of Parthenon, there's a Buddha statue located under the shades of this umbrella-shaped landscape.

Trying out the 12-100mm F2.8 Pro lens from Olympus

We were all sweaty and one tone tanner after finish walking the main route of WuMao Tulin and our tour guide Xiao Huang lead us to the next destination, which is also an Earth Forest site but on a grander scale - Langbapu Tulin. It was about an hour bus ride away from WuMao Tulin, so if you plan to visit these two Earth Forest sites in one day, I would recommend you to hire a car for easy traveling between these destinations and of course back to Yuanmou city area.

Aside from the scorching hot sun, it was a good day.
On our way to Langbapu Earth Forest.

Langbapu Earth Forest

The routes of Langbapu Earth Forest are as long as 6KM, thrice the length of WuMao Earth Forest route. We reached Langbapu Earth Forest later in the afternoon, hence we're only covering a smaller area of the site, rushing back to Yuanmou city for dinner before it was too late. 

Dragon statue located just beside the viewpoint of Langbapu Earth Forest area entrance

The clouds added a cinematic effect to this kung-fu fighting showdown

Here are some photos taken from the viewpoint on top:

It's harder to capture the grandeur feelings of these rock formations in general, but you get the idea of how big the place is!

I guess it is best visiting Langbapu Earth Forest later in the afternoon as the sun was going down, the contrast between colour and shadows of these landscapes were mesmerising. Due to different substance ratio, earth forest of Langbapu appears more yellowish compare to WuMao Tulin, and it looks like a golden forest when the sun shines on them.

I had to take this photo at the viewpoint on top of Langbapu Earth Forest before we head down the stairs and start our tour.

Route that leads to Area no.2, which we don't have enough time to visit T_T

The pavements here are mostly covered with sand as the landscapes' erosions doesn't stop. Hence what we've seen this year might not be the same if we were to visit these Earth Forests 10 or 20 years later. The silence surrounding Langbapu Earth Forest is certainly more deafening and at that very moment, I felt like I was the last person on earth the tranquility of it was overwhelming.

The entrance fee for the respective Earth Forests are:

80yuan WuMao TuLin
70yuan Langbapu TuLin
or 100yuan if purchase both and save 50yuan

Best time to visit: November - May
Avoid rainy season at all cost as it will be dangerous and harder to walk around.

What I Wore:

OUTER: Atelier Prive Melson Long Lace Cardigan
TOP: Forever 21 Spaghetti top
SHOES: Timberland
SUNNIES: Topshop