31 August 2010

Things that make you go Oooooo (August 2010)

It's time for August to go out with a bang, my birthday may well be over but the celebrations have only begun. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes and I hope you've all enjoyed reading about my travels this month, my next adventure seems sooo far away. In the meantime here's what has been keeping me upbeat, motivated and interested all this month.

Tiny Buddha - I just love the daily inspirations and wisdom this gives me and be sure to check out all the amazing articles such as 50 Things to Love about Life That Are Free, 10 Tips to Overcome Negative Thoughts, 8 Ways to Be More Confident and many more!

This is Why I'll Never be an Adult

Chinese Panda & Tiger Dogs - Ok so I don't recommend you attack your pooch with the paint just yet but wow is this an amazing dye job! It's not too late to get one of these for my birthday right?

Blythe Manga Girls Inspiration - I love seeing customised Blythes the work that goes into them is amazing and the outcome so beautiful, let me know which ones you recognise there's quite a few I recognise from my Manga loving days.

Archie Grande Notebooks - Forget Moleskine these are my new best friend, I LOVE the colours and the quirky titles each of the notebooks have and also how colourful they will make your bookshelf look!

Xiaxue's Guide to Camwhoring - Xiaxue always takes great self portraits, so here are some tips and tricks for you guys from the expert herself.

Make the World a Prettier Place: A More Polished Look

How to Take Your Own Outfit Photos - Lots of great advice from the IFB community

Mon manège à moi c’est toi - This looks like the perfect day, a birthday like this would have been a dream come true!

Pinkbow: Detox

Judith Leiber - OMG I am in love with these bags, one of these would have made THE ultimate birthday gift and satisfy my love for sparkles and novelty bags forevermore!

Quick Beauty Tip: Vaseline - Vaseline is possible one of the greatest inventions ever! Singapore beauty queen Valerie shares some of her novel uses for this cream.

Believe it or Not: Beauty Myths and its Possible Origins

13 Gross Ingredients Hidden in you Beauty Products - Nothing like rubbing a bit of whale vomit on your face to solve that wrinkle problem...

What I Wish I'd Known at 18 - The intelligent and awesome Stephen Fry gives his insights into the online world and what he's learnt during his life.

1000 Awesome Things

16 First Steps to Creating the Life You Want - Great advice here from the people that have done it themselves our fellow bloggers.

Find Ways to Spend Less and Find Happiness - This is something I've noticed with myself the past year and it's definitely something I encourage you all to do. A trip of a life time or even a weekend away can be worth so much more than that pair of Jimmy Choo's you've been lusting for!

How to Keep a Minimal Closet

How to eat on just $2 a day! - Rachel Hills is taking the challenge and doing it for the Global Poverty Project, be sure to read all about her experiences and tips for those of you wanting to take the challenge yourself.

Love & Magic

21 August 2010

A Very Merry (Un)Birthday to Me

Magic by Nelogika

Tomorrow is my birthday. Birthday's for me aren't as grand an affair as they were when I was a child, instead of huge parties eating truck loads of candy, running around like a crazy ninja, cotton candy vomit in the garden and poofy big party dresses (ok maybe I still wear the dresses) I mostly just spend my day with family and friends with a slice of cake and cup of tea, although I will admit I do drag out the celebrations as much as I can and instead of just one HUGE day of celebrations I scatter out birthday excursions throughout the month.

I've also noticed that as I get older I'm actually buying gifts for myself, this year I wanted to commemorate the occasion and give myself something special, something to remind me to keep following my dreams

I have a soft spot for Disney Couture and their "Dreams Come True" necklace is the perfect gift to give myself and a constant reminder for me to never give up and keep working to make my dreams come true.

Not all gifts have to be deep and meaningful though some can be just for fun, birthdays only come once a year and you are allowed to treat yourself to a few things on your birthday after all.

Your favourite perfume

An awesome ring

A cute jumper

Your favourite tipple

Cupcakes, Carnivals & Cameras: When Cate met Cally

This week in honour of my epic birthday celebrations I ventured to Liverpool to meet up with my long time internet buddy, confidant, writer and artist extraordinaire Cally. It was our first ever meeting and we had an absolutely amazing day! We devoured cupcakes, rode a rollercoaster, met John Lennon, gobbled sushi, attacked stationary shops, admired shop windows, laughed, smiled and took lots and lots of photos.


Cally has just joined the bloggerverse so check out her blog Taxidermy Cafe to see her wonderful art, stories and more awesome photos from our day of fun. And a big BIG thank you Cally for showing me around Liverpool, all my beautiful birthday gifts and for such a lovely day, I can't wait to do it again, which hopefully will be soon, as the lomos are already itching for another photographic adventure!

More on our Adventures
My Flickr
Cally's Flickr

18 August 2010

The Frequent Flyer: Sneaking off to Amphawa (Thailand)

One of my favourite things to do when I'm in Thailand is explore interesting temples. I love going to see all the temples in Thailand as they're such exquisite, beautiful and mysterious places and they sometimes build them in such amazing places just last year I visited a temple deep in a cave and this temple is actually built in the roots of a 400 year old tree.

This isn't my first visit to Wat Bang Khai Kung, I first visited there about 3 years ago and although fascinated by the sight in front of me I remember it being so hot that day that I wasn't interested in doing anything but finding the nearest air conditioned mall and getting myself a frappucino! A second visit was well in order and even though the weather was not on my side again we braved the monsoon rain, drove down to Amphawa and caught a boat over to the temple.

There are quite a few interesting temples around Amphawa but this is by far my favourite as it looks like something straight out of an Indiana Jones movie and the fact that it's 400 years old is amazing in itself! I really want to come back here on my birthday one year and visit 9 temples as there's a tradition which says if you visit 9 temples in one day it will bring you great luck and good fortune for the year ahead, we only managed a pitiful 4 that day...

Amphawa is also home to a traditional Thai floating market, so if you're tired out from all the temple exploring there are plenty of places to get great food and delicious Thai desserts, which are my personal favourite. I've visited quite a few floating markets in Thailand and I think Amphawa is one of the better ones, it's popular amongst Thais and food sells out quite quickly which I think is a great sign of how delicious it is so if you're hungry you have to get in there quick to avoid the crowds of other hungry customers.

Amphawa is just an hour away from Bangkok so it's great for a day trip or a night visit as one of the main attractions of Amphawa is the firefly boat tours they offer, I've yet to experience one of these but it sounds beautiful and something I want to do on my next visit. I just can't wait to go back to Thailand so I can visit Amphawa again and dispite the monsoon weather it was definitely one of the highlights of my time there.

15 August 2010

Inspirational Quotes #5

I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be. - Diane Von Furstenberg

13 August 2010

Bangkok in Flames: The Ruins of Central World

It was very surreal for me to see the riots, shootings and bombing happening in Bangkok during May, as I watched the news reports in China, knowing in just a few weeks I'll be there, it was a real shock to see places that you've known, loved and visited fall down in flames.

Now is the time for Thailand to re-build not only its destroyed buildings but its trust with the people. Stall holders and businesses whose shops were destroyed during the riots have pulled together to regain what was lost and started a campaign featuring the phrase "Together We Can" which can now be seen throughout the city as a way to promote harmony and unity back into the country.

Thailand needs your support more than ever and now is a really great opportunity to visit Bangkok as there is a festival of market sellers, independent designers and chain stores all offering some unique and amazing bargains with the proceeds going towards building themselves a new life and a better, happier Bangkok.

10 August 2010

The Frequent Flyer: Living with Pandas [Part 2]

The Shaanxi Wild Animal Rescue and Research Centre is home to 25 giant pandas, 5 of which are babies including one very rare brown coloured one, unfortunately "Mr. Panda Baby Keeper" was described by our guide Peter as "not a very nice man" so we only really got to see them briefly once and instructed not to take photos! I did however catch glimpses of the babies throughout the day as their house was between Niu Niu and San San's and managed to get a few sneaky photos of the cubbies when I saw them playing outside although Jiena warned me not to let the other keepers catch me taking them, I felt like the pandarazzi! The pandas I did have access to were Niu Niu, San San, Ping Ping and our next door neighbours Qin Chuan and Le Le, the others we didn't really see much of and of course the language barrier made it difficult to converse with many of the other keepers.

In my first few days panda duties had me tired out but once I got used to the routine and the manual labour (because Cate hasn't done much manual labour before) duties only really took up a few hours of the day, most of the time we had to ourselves to explore our surroundings. The centre was home to many other animals besides pandas, unfortunately their lifestyle was not as luxurious as the pandas, where as each panda had their own large outdoor enclosure full of foliage and trees and their own keeper at their beck and call these poor creatures had small enclosures with little or no stimulation and only a few keepers to tend to all of them.

Unfortunately the Chinese Government only funds the upkeep of the pandas (not the centre) which means the other animals housed there get the raw end of the deal and as much as I really, really wanted to help the other animals in my 3 weeks there we were unable to make any contact with the other keepers, so instead we took the initiative and gave ourselves the duty of feeding them extra treats each day and would buy fruit, vegetables and the occasional take away from the local restaurant to feed to them.

I adored the Moon Bears, especially little baby bear Wan Wan, who I presumed were rescued from bile farms. Each morning or afternoon I would visit them with treats of apples, pears, jam sandwiches and the occasional fruit pop on hot days and they seemed so delighted to see me almost smiling, which was in stark contrast to the privileged pandas, because keepers are slaves to their pandas every need and demand! Pandas have no idea just how lucky they are to have a country dedicated to prolonging their survival.

Louguantai is the birthplace of Taoism, a statue of Lao Tzu overlooks the village and aside from the centre the main attraction is the Taoist Temple. Despite its remote location the centre does get a fair amount of visitors, bus loads would arrive in the morning to get a glimpse of the pandas, who normally at that time were tucking into their breakfast bamboo or waiting for their milk and "cookies" to be served. I was often asked when the pandas would be out and even once ordered to get them to come and entertain the visitors by a very pushy tour guide, I of course refused and replied that they are free to come out when they want to. Believe me pandas won't do anything they don't want to do!

Life in Louguantai was very laid back, the days seemed to go quite quickly although it felt like I had been staying there for months! The locals were quite friendly if a little curious about these strange Westerners living with the pandas, I often felt like we were the ones display at times, especially when visitors would wander down to our lodgings and peer through the window at us. Louguantai is a very beautiful village set in the foothills of the Qingling Mountains, visitors would describe the misty mountains as paradise and although there isn't very much to do there after 3 weeks it really did become home to me.

I felt like I was reasonably knowledgeable on the "Panda Industry" before I left but I learnt so many more things I wouldn't have had the opportunity to by actually being there, talking to the keepers and doing the jobs they do. My last day at the centre was quite laid back and easy, I almost wished that the pandas would cause a big fuss and try to escape (which Qin Chuan had already tried a few times) or even just make a big mess of their enclosures just so I'd be more involved with them before I left. As I said my farewell to Jiena who had not only taught me so much about the pandas but about life in China, she thanked me for helping her improve her English and of course helping her look after the pandas. She said I was the smartest volunteer she had worked with and she had never been able to trust a volunteer to work alone before like she had with me and that I would make a very good panda keeper one day, let's just say it's definitely something I would put consideration into after my time there.

 As my plane left China and the new friends I'd made (some of the human variety) I felt tears welling in my eyes, I had no idea how attached I had become to the place after only being there a short while. It proved to be the amazing opportunity I had always thought it would be, yes it had its problems to but the positive experiences I had there far outweigh the negative and it will be something I will never ever forget.

  Certified Panda Nanny!