Monday, March 26, 2012


Yongkang Lu (Yongkang Road) used to be a simple vegetable market, lightly tucked away into one of the many corners of Shanghai’s former French Concession. These days, it has become the city’s latest not-to-be-missed venue and most talked about hip street. Now bustling with restaurants, bakeries, cafés, art galleries, boutiques and tea stores, I just had to check it out. 

One of Yongkang Lu’s most popular restaurants is The Sailors Fish and Chips, proudly serving the most authentic fish n’ chips I’ve tasted in mainland China so far. Started by three Fudan University graduates, this tiny restaurant serves freshly battered fish with your choice of flounder, pollock, sea bass, or Pacific cod in classic tartar sauce or malt vinegar. Little appetizers of squid rings, shrimps and scallops are also available as well as side orders such as mushy peas and extra chips. Before we knew it, Marc and I were digging into all things fishy…

The Sailors Fish and Chips beckons to us! 
The Sailors' great menu ranges from fish, beer, wine and coffee.
Sea bass Fish n' Chips plus squid rings...delicious!
Zooming in now...tender and very tasty! 
The Sailors' has a great selection of beers

Marc about to enjoy his Boddingtons Ale
The honey rich color of Boddingtons Ale
Yongkang Lu's cafes are dotted with customers sitting outside
in the spring sunshine.
Me enjoying the sunny weather at Yongkang Lu
Le Cafe des Stagiaires is another popular cafe at Yongkang Lu.

The Sailors Fish and Chips
33 Yongkang Lu, near Jiashan Lu
请带我去永康路33,  近嘉善路
Tel.: +86 150 0009 9490
10am – 10pm

Other food and beverage establishments also worth checking out at Yongkang Lu are Le Café des Stagiaires, Les Garcons Bouchers, La Boulangerie, Sushi’O, and Pizza Peppone.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Guanyin Goddess Statue at Xuanwu Lake

I love looking at beautiful photographs. They inspire me with new ideas; encourage me to learn new cultures, to travel as much as I can, and to never let go of that zest for life. They are what have partly inspired me to start this blog. Here in China, there is an abundance of photographic opportunities at every corner, always something new, something old, something interesting, something fascinating, or even something completely mind-boggling. I try to never go anywhere without my camera.

I’ve decided to share some favorite photographs from my camera (taken recently and over the last few years) around the cities of Hefei, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Hope they make you smile, or perhaps even give you a little inspiration.

I hope to share more photos every month with you as my journey continues, but this is my first collection so far. I always say my favorite pictures are those that capture nature, energy and life.

The first snowfall of winter
Holiday Inn Aqua City, November 2009

Spring begins at Ming Xiaoling Tombs entrance park

Ming Xiaoling Tomb Gate

My sister Andrea
Ming Xiaoling Tomb Gate

The first cherry blossoms bloom

Autumn colors at Xiao Yao Jin Park

Lord Bao's Park

The French Concession

Changle Road, The French Concession

My beautiful friend Cathy at Yu Gardens

Interior of Australian Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo 2010

Interior of Moroccan Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo 2010

West Nanjing Road Shopping Street

 Shanghai Art History Museum

IFC Mall Christmas lights, Pudong

Wooden boat at West Lake

Ancient Bridge and its reflection

Friday, March 16, 2012


Sephora has gotten huge in China and is now located all over the country in 21 provinces and 30 cities, including Hefei. For the latest in beauty, skincare, make-up, bath and body, hair care and fragrance, few can compare to this popular French cosmetics store chain.

Definitely in China, it is the first and last stop if you are on the hunt for international cosmetic brands or would like to try out some of the best Chinese, Japanese and Korean brands in the beauty market today.

Shopping at Sephora always ends up with a bag of beauty goodies!

Like most women, I love shopping at Sephora or even just simply strolling inside to look at all the great products. Here are some of the best buys I’ve gathered from Sephora over a few shopping trips…at least the ones I think are worth it!

Shea Butter Hand Cream for Dry Skin 

This rich hand cream is so great, it is sold somewhere around the world every five seconds! Imagine that! It is enriched with 20% Shea Butter and moisturizes the hands without any greasy residue at all. The unique formula is also made up of honey, almond extracts and coconut oil. After applying it, my hands felt soft and smooth instantly. Since I’m always running out of hand cream in China (with Marc sharing with me), I figured this is also a great buy because of its size. This hand cream tube weighs in at a huge 150ml. (5.2 oz.) so it is definitely worth your penny.

Refreshing Body Mist

When it comes to fragrances, I like fresh, feminine scents. Light citrus and light florals are usually what I go for. This body mist doesn’t just smell great but it tones and revitalizes you as well. The fresh scent is a bursting blend of citrus fruits, sweet orange, pink grapefruit, citrus leaf, yuzu, mandarin and orange flower. It also contains Vitamin E and essential oils to soften and hydrate the skin. Whenever I spray this on, I feel energized!

Milky Makeup Remover

This is a cleanser for dry skin and makeup remover in one. This comes in real handy whenever you have to remove a lot of eye makeup. It contains pro-vitamin B5, cotton seed oil and sweet almond oil to moisturize dry skin while cleansing. Your skin feels soft after removing makeup. I love it!

Slanted Tweezers

This is a really good stainless steel tweezer that quickly plucks out those stray eyebrow hairs really quickly and with great precision. I usually like getting my eyebrows threaded because I am the worst eyebrow plucker in the world! I also have more eyebrow hair than the average person. Some people think I use eyebrow pencil. Nope! My eyebrows are just thick and dark. So far, over here in Hefei, I haven’t seen any threading places yet…so I’ll have to stick it out by tweezing what I can!

in G10 Sentimental Rose

Me wearing Sephora Lip Attitude Glamour G10
It looks a bit darker on the lips in person than in the photo.

I love this lipstick! It is my new favorite. It is super hydrating and I love the rosy beige color. It’s great for wearing day and night. 

How about you? Any Sephora favorites worth sharing?

1F, Hefei Wanda Plaza
Maanshan Road, Baohe District
Hefei 230011

China Website:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Did you know the eighth tallest building in the world is in Nanjing, China? Nope, I wouldn’t have thought either, but Zifeng Tower, also known as Greenland Center is a super tall 450 meter (1,480 feet) skyscraper that joins the ranks of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Tapei 101 in Taiwan and the Petronas Towers in Malaysia as one of the Top Ten Tallest Buildings in the World.

Last weekend, I got to experience this awesome building firsthand upon staying at the InterContinental Nanjing, located on the 45th floor upwards. The 89-story building also consists of offices and retail stores in the lower sections, a few restaurants and a public observatory at the very top.

Back in 2010, Marc at the Ming City Walls
with Zifeng Tower in the background (far right).

Another view of Zifeng Tower from the ground
At first staying in a hotel this high up did not really appeal to me. Heights are not something I am too crazy about. Let’s just say I prefer being as close to the ground as possible. But I had to try it at least once; as a lot of hotels these days are taking advantage of the great views that come with being in a super tall building.

Building entrance of InterContinental Nanjing
As promised, InterContinental Nanjing could not have chosen a better location. It is located in the middle of Nanjing’s Gulou Square. This is a highly commercial district with lots of good shopping (Hunan Road and Xin Jie Kou), restaurants and tourist spots such as the ancient Drum Tower. You also get unbelievable skyline views of nearby Zijin Shan (Purple Gold Mountain) and Xuanwu lake. 

InterContinental Nanjing's lobby
Marc beside a beautiful birdcage at the hotel lobby
At the hotel lobby
Our room was located in the 63rd floor and as we rode the elevator up, I felt my ears pop reminding me that the ground was far, far away! The amazing views of the room made up for it though…and so did the food the next day!

Breakfast was definitely something to look forward to. The Horizon Café, the hotel’s international all day restaurant is located on the 45th floor surrounded by floor to ceiling glass windows so you get breathtaking views while eating. The breakfast buffet features a live cooking station and a dish spread of mostly Indian, Italian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. 

The live cooking station of Horizon Cafe at the 45th floor

The breakfast buffet layout at Horizon Cafe
with Italian, Indian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine
The Sky Lounge Bar was quite unique as it features a very futuristic, space-age and ultra-modern design. It is suspended in the air on the 45th floor and gives the same amazing views of the city from its glass windows. My favorite was the floor's gel-like blue substance that moved and created shapes as you walked on it.

Sky Lounge Bar's outer shell is suspended in the air on the 45th floor.

Sky Lounge Bar's unique blue gel floor
All in all, staying at InterContinental Nanjing was an interesting experience, although I was incredibly happy to be back on ground level on the way back to Hefei.

One last view of Nanjing from the taxi to the train station.
The city is even greener now than when I remembered it.
Nanjing is one of my favorite cities in China (I may be a bit biased after having lived there for a whole year in 2010). But it is a city certainly worth visiting just to see its many historical sights and cultural landmarks.

In case you want to take a trip to Nanjing in the future, here’s a list of some of the best sights to see:

  • Nanjing Ming City Walls
  • Confucius Temple
  • Presidential Palace
  • Ming Xiaoling Dynasty Tombs
  • Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Mausoleum
  • Xuanwu Lake
  • Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

InterContinental Nanjing
1 Zhong Yang Road, Gulou District
Nanjing 210008, China-P.R.C.
Front Desk: +86-25-83538888
Fax: +86-25-85518888

Monday, March 5, 2012


I’m happy to be back after not posting for some time. I was sick last week with an upset stomach and the weather lately has just been crap…super cold, gloomy and rainy. Springtime where art thou?! Oh I forgot…I’m in China, where spring doesn’t exist. Okay, maybe for two weeks. But usually, chilling cold winter just turns into super hot summer in June with no transition at all. But I think I’ll talk about the crazy weather here in another post.

So, after being stuck indoors for awhile, I decided to walk around and explore the newly opened Hefei InTime Shopping Plaza, the first luxury shopping mall to open in Hefei. It’s located downtown and it was great seeing all the beautiful stores. But before getting lost in a shoe heaven (there was one entire floor just for shoes!), I started noticing the amount of people lounging and having coffee at the cafes. And I’m talking about lines! And I’ve seen this everywhere lately. At every Starbucks and Costa Coffee in China, you’d be lucky to find a seat at all. In a traditionally tea drinking country, the new café culture has become a growing industry and China’s coffee craze doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

Cappuccinos at CAFE 1862, HEFEI

In China, a new coffee culture has been emerging over the last five years and international coffee chains such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee are just some of the first to open stores in this new consumer market. Starbucks first opened its first shop in Beijing in 1999 and is now in 52 cities in China. Starbucks has said it plans to triple its stores in China in 2015. Even in slowly developing Hefei, more and more Chinese are developing a taste and real appreciation for coffee especially among the youth who see it as a way to socialize, relax and meet friends and colleagues. This is amazingly evident with the increase of the number of cafes in the city. Coffee in China is also seen as very fashionable and is essentially associated with a Western lifestyle, which appeals to the young college students, open-minded, affluent, highly-educated professionals and urban consumers.

Of course, cafe culture is not new to me. But it certainly is for the Chinese, so I decided to join them in the craze and get in line. It’s true, I am more of a tea drinker now, but even I have to admit…I can’t resist the call of a really good cappuccino. That perfect frothiness, the smell, the taste…yummy!

A lot of cafes are found inside upscale shopping malls like this
Costa Coffee at InTime Plaza, Hefei
Cappuccinos with the Year of the Dragon design

Lounging around and relaxing in a cafe has become a
new craze in China
Other popular international coffee chains in China are Lavazza and Coffee Beanery. Popular and hip Taiwanese coffee chains SPR coffee ( and U.B.C. coffee are also found in many cities all around China as a more affordable alternative.

Enjoying a cappuccino at Bacchus Pub, Hefei

Even a pub in China can now make a decent cappuccino! 
So have you had your caffeine fix for the day?