Friday, May 25, 2012


If there is one airport terminal anyone wouldn’t mind being stuck in for awhile, it would be Hong Kong International Airport. It is the 10th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, and in my opinion, one of the best transit stops for shopping, dining and relaxing before your next connecting flight around Asia or to Europe.

I recently found myself once again on a three hour layover before my next connecting flight back to China after a really nice visit back home in the Philippines, and just like many times before, the hours just seemed to pass me by.

One of the things I love about Hong Kong airport is
that it is surrounded by blue skies, mountains and the sea.
The view of the mountains is usually so clear that
you can see the green grass on them. 
Getting from gate to gate can be less tiring on the
convenient horizontal escalators (also called walkalators).  

Here are three big tips I’ve learned in surviving and navigating an airport as big and fantastic as Hong Kong International which I believe is essential for every traveler:

  • Make sure you check the gate of your next flight right away (this is the first thing I do) and estimate how long you have to just wander around and how long it’s going take you to get there on foot. Running last minute from Gate 3 to Gate 98 is no fun! Trust me!
  • If you have more than an hour to wait, eat a snack at any of the many restaurants/cafes before shopping at Hong Kong terminal, which resembles that of two very large shopping malls (one on each side). You’ll need some energy as you navigate the array of goods available from perfumes, cosmetics, make-up, clothing, bookstores, electronics, pharmacies and spas…whew!
  • BE AWARE OF THE TIME, at all times. It is so easy to get lost in a shopping trance at Hong Kong terminal. The fact that all the cosmetic products, creams and perfumes have testers doesn’t help! You’re free to try anything you want as many times as you want without the sales girls glaring at you. It’s truly great! But not so much if you miss your flight while putting Crème de la Mer on your hands. I’m guilty of doing this! But thankfully, didn’t miss my flight.
Aside from the huge duty-free shopping area, before every gate,
you'll find more shops, cafes and convenience stores.
You can take your pick from the airport's many restaurants.
Here's my view while having a snack at Pizza Express.
    My favorite stores are definitely the bookstores where you
    can browse for hours and grab a magazine while waiting.


When I saw Charlize Theron on the cover of InStyle’s June issue, I grabbed it right away. She’s one of my favorite actresses and is starring in two big summer movies this year: Snow White and the Huntsman and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Can’t wait!

Hoe Hin White Flower Embrocation Oil (5ml.) (US$2)
Since I was already in Hong Kong airport, I ran to the pharmacy and just had to get myself a tiny bottle of one of Hong Kong’s most renowned brands, Hoe Hin White Flower Embrocation Oil. This oil is a really, really great product. It has been around for years and is fantastic in relieving colds, flu, headaches, minor aches and pains, bruises and sprains, muscular aches, motion sickness, insect bites etc. It can also be used as an antiseptic. Ingredients consist of wintergreen oil, menthol, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil and camphor. It’s a great product to have in your home cabinet.

DKNY Women Eau de Toilette (50ml.) (US$50)
I sprayed DKNY Women Eau de Toilette on my wrist in the perfume section early on and for the next hour; I couldn’t stop smelling myself or putting my wrist repeatedly on my face while walking around. I’m hoping nobody thought I was crazy. It smelled so good that I ran back and bought a 50ml. bottle of the eau de toilette. Top notes are citrus mandarin oranges, chilled vodka and violet leaf with middle notes of narcissus, lotus and orchid; base notes of woods and white birch. Other notes are tomato leaves, water lily, yellow daffodils and tulip tree bark. I’d describe the scent as perfect for summer…light, fresh, modern and intoxicating. Great for everyday!

Milka Mix Chocolates (380grams)

I love Milka chocolates and this is the perfect bag to buy for sharing with loved ones. This bag holds 82 individually wrapped pieces of Milka chocolates in three flavors: Alpine Milk, Crunchy Caramel and Strawberry. All are simply delicious! So happy I found it as the mix bags are not usually as available as the chocolate bars.

View from my window upon landing back in Hefei, China

All in all, I had a great trip back home even for a short two-week visit. It was great seeing my parents, siblings, in-laws and friends. But it’s back to my home for now in Hefei, and as for Hong Kong airport, till we meet again!

Lantau, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 2181 8888

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I’m nearing the end of a two week visit here in my hometown of the Philippines, and already I’m going to miss the abundance of organic, green and cruelty-free products available here. Unfortunately, China has not yet opened up to a lot of the international organic cosmetic brands and it can be difficult to find any unless you are lucky to discover them in tiny specialty stores. As much as possible, I try to incorporate organic products into my beauty routine. Organic products are natural, contain no harmful chemicals, environment-friendly, and most are against animal testing.
Summer is also the perfect time to go green…amidst the sun, sand, green grass and nature. Here are some of the green discoveries I am loving right now and worth your while.

My favorite organic products this summer

ANDALOU NATURALS Omega Glow Facial Concentrate (US$ 24.95)

I have been using this product for just four days and already I can see a change in my skin. It looks brighter, smoother and feels a lot softer. Described as a “miracle in a bottle”, this special facial oil formula contains Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids, fruit stem cells, Bio Active 8 Berry Complex, jojoba oil, cranberry oil, borage oil and pomegranate oil, a potent mix of antioxidants to nourish and renew your skin. I highly recommend it!

AVALON ORGANICS Vitamin C Balancing Facial Toner (US$ 12.50)

I really believe in the power of Vitamin C. Whenever I feel like I’m coming down with a cold, I just pop a 500mg tablet of Vitamin C and the cold will never see the light of day. The same goes for our skin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that eliminates free radical damage and helps to fight photo-aging. This Vitamin C toner rebalances skin tone and hydrates with aloe, cucumber and papaya extracts. I love the fresh, tingly feeling it gives my skin and the light citrus scent.

HUMAN NATURE Natural Strengthening Shampoo  200ml (US$5.99) (Php 139.75)

I love Human Nature products especially their shampoo and conditioners. Human Nature is a natural and organic company that produces 100% Philippine-made natural personal care products with no harmful chemicals. Their Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner really soften my hair and I’ve really noticed less falling hair ever since using both. They contain amino acids, vitamins, minerals, Philippine coco nectar and hydrolyzed protein.

HUMAN NATURE All Natural Spray Sanitizer (US$ 2.99) (Php 64.75)

I love this all natural sanitizer. I use it all the time on my hands because it’s so gentle yet is scientifically proven to kill 99.99% of germs. That’s good enough for me! My favorite is the Citrus Burst scent.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Street Shopping by the Qinhuai River

In almost any city and town in China, you’ll find plenty of areas for street shopping, a favorite pastime among locals. In certain cities though, a few places have already become famous and established with a long history for street shopping and great market finds. A particular one is the Fuzimiao area by the Qinhuai River, the biggest river in Nanjing. Nanjing’s Fuzimiao was first built in 1034 and during the Qing Dynasty emerged as a thriving commercial and entertainment center. Tons of small shops, restaurants and bars surround this area, and at night, it is sprinkled with colorful lights and neon signs.  

The Qinhuai River beside the lively Fuzimiao market in Nanjing
Just a short train ride away from Hefei, I took the opportunity recently to visit a good friend and indulge in some fun, honest-to-goodness Chinese-style street shopping (which means learning to bargain like a local!). This is a “must” to get a good deal anywhere in China.

The grand entrance to Fuzimiao market

Getting ready to shop!

Me and my friend Lisa by the Qinhuai river


local crafts/ specialties
Jade jewelry (necklaces, pendants, bracelets, earrings)
brocade and silks
Jinling folding fans
wood carvings
Yuhua tea and other local teas
posters and paintings of Chinese landscapes

Countless stores dot the streets of Fuzimiao
A lantern-decorated entrance to a shopping alley
A shop stand selling posters and puzzles of Chinese landscapes

This store with no English name sells an incredible variety of Jade jewelry
A beautiful ethnic store selling colorful lamps and trinkets
If you're feeling tired, a rickshaw ride might do.

Local treats such as "baozi" (steamed buns stuffed with pork)
are available for snacks. Also known as "siopao" in Hokkien, these
treats can also be filled with chicken, beef, shrimp & salted duck eggs.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

For the Love of Crêpes

The beloved Bangkok chain, Crêpes & Co., has arrived in Shanghai and this is really worth celebrating! Their famous menu consists of all the crêpes you can think of in the universe from savory crêpes (traditional, brunch-style, international etc.) to the sweet crêpes (with fruits, delicacies, ice creams or flambées). The restaurant’s French and Mediterranean cuisine also consists of unique salads and appetizers, pasta favorites, and a huge selection of breakfast a la carte dishes. My favorite crêpes are definitely the ones with ice-cream! Summer is coming and on a hot summer’s day, you can never go wrong with these delicious delights!

Crepe Josephine!! It is to die for!
(bananas, vanilla ice cream, chestnuts and chocolate sauce)

Coffee ice cream (my favorite!) with Honey sauce & sprinkles