shanghai weekend.

Obligatory tourist photo along The Bund with the Oriental Pearl Tower and Pudong skyscrapers | New York looking streets along the French Concession | Some of the finest Xiao long bao in Shanghai at Nanxiang restaurant | Shanghai's take on Central Park | Elevator up to the 100th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Centre observatory | Traditional Yu Gardens tucked away in the heart of the city | Cooling off at People's Square | East meets west at the Old French Concession | Birdseye view of Shanghai at the top of SWFC.

My last weekend in China, I decided to take a spontaneous last-minute trip to visit Shanghai. I was initially uninterested, not because I feel like Shanghai wouldn't be my kind of city (because it sure as hell was) but more so because I was worried the short amount of time we were there (less than 48 hours) wouldn't do it justice. One of the things I admire most about my mother was that she travelled a lot on her own after she graduated around Europe, the US and Canada so she's a firm believer of seeing the world while you're still young. And while she disagrees with me on many things, she was quick to encourage me to go and see Shanghai, or as she refers to it, the New York of the East, as there would be no better time to go. 

So I took the five hour bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai with a group of friends and ventured into unknown territory. Of course I loved Shanghai. Unlike Beijing, Shanghai has that true city vibe, with the planned feel of Melbourne, French influence, New York looking streets and the underlying oriental foundations, it's cosmopolitan, modern and very cool. Although a weekend seems like I'm pressed for time, I managed to cram in as much sight seeing as I could and ticked all the boxes of the 'must do's in Shanghai'. #successismine

beijing bound. part 2.

Sitting in KLIA at Dome Cafe (and wondering why there isn't one in Sydney) catching up on my blogging, photo uploading and video editing. It always feels like you never have enough time to properly sort through these post-holiday formalities once you're back to reality. Because the unfortunate reality is, holidays don't last forever. As soon as you hit home soil, it's straight back into daily routine. After a month of no work, interning, stress-free class, minimal homework and all the free time in the world, going back to my jam packed schedule seems very unappealing. 

Home movies were pretty big in my family growing up. Sadly I think most of our holiday tapes are either damaged or I eagerly taped The Simpsons episodes over them during pre-Internet streaming times. After the rise of the digital camera, people stopped taking their video footage seriously. It's all good to whip out your camera phone in those spontaneous moments but what exactly do you do with that 10 seconds of a street performer or panorama view? They just end up being stored on your phone, never touched and eventually deleted. That's where I believe the video diary comes in - the home movie of the 21st century. Part 2 of my Beijing Bound video series backed by the chilled sounds of New Navy x Flume and includes incredible views of unrestored sections of the Great Wall at Huang Hua (definitely the highlight of the trip), the tourist heavy hutongs at Wangfujing and Nanluoguxiang and more scenes from my favourite spot in Beijing, Qianhai. 

beijing photo diary. part 2.

Street view from Gulou/ Drum Tower | Soft serve at 798 Art District, my latest obsession and cool off snack of choice | Summer Palace | Hiked up to the highest point of the Great Wall at Mutianyu | Grand designs at the National Museum of China | CCTV Building | The best Peking Duck I have ever had (you'd hope so being in Beijing and all) at Da Dong. 

I have less than one week left in Beijing and I can't believe how quickly the time has just flown by. I feel like I've been in this city for three months and barely scratched the surface, but after going through my photos, I've actually accomplished quite a fair amount of exploring. I only have a handful of tourist attractions left to visit and I've already finished all my souvenir shopping. I'm starting to get a little sentimental about leaving my the life I have just gotten used to behind - four hours of class in the mornings, time to actually go to the gym, late nights spent at cafes studying (but really just chatting), convenient public transport, weekends, cheap cafeteria food. This is the life. But I'm not ready to say goodbye just yet. Last weekend in China and I'll be spending it in Shanghai. Ready to conquer another foreign city. 


You'd think taking visual arts for the HSC would make me somewhat skilled in the art of DIY, but I sadly lack the creativity to do something groundbreaking with a plain white tee. Nonetheless, I've given it a go in the name of the blog, oh the things I do for you f&s. I spent a rainy afternoon in Beijing (supposedly rare during summer but it looks like I brought a bit of Sydney weather with me) studding up this little number with a bit of help from Boohoo who provided me with a DIY kit full of studs, jewels and fabric paint ahead of the festival season.

 I kept it fairly simple as I do, starting out by adding stud details on the shoulders. After some slightly strained fingers, I noticed the star/ cross detail the closed clasps make on the inside of the tee and decided to bring that out on the hem of the shirt. A little Phillip Lim inspired if I do say so myself. (If you feel compelled to try this I suggest trying bigger studs to make it more noticeable). I added a dab of glitter paint in the centre for a bit of colour and viola! Afternoon well spent. tank, Rag & Bone denim jacket, Rayban aviators, Neon Indian bag, Angle Diamond Dot bracelets, UNIF.M leather shorts.
(Styled with the limited items I have from my suitcase wardrobe, which coincidentally give off a festival vibe.)

beijing photo diary. part 1.

Ornaments at Behai Park | Inside the Forbidden City | Qianhai Lake | Details at the Summer Palace | Lakeside at Behai Park | The closest thing Beijing will ever get to New York | Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace.

There are some things that are better said captured in photo rather than film. The same can be said vice versa. These are snippets of my life in Beijing thus far, taken on my trusty Olympus Pen who has held up surprisingly well, making this city seem more exotic and alluring than it really is. I wanted to snap simple details in these scenes like the lake in Behai lined with willows, the decoration on old style buildings and temples and the Russian street somewhat reminiscent of New York (or so I like to think). I know what you're thinking. It's missing two of the most important aspects of a trip away (for a blogger anyway): food and fashion.

In terms of food, trust me I'm eating a lot and it's ridiculously cheap but for the most part, pretty poorly laid out. I eat out of tiny plastic bags or on sticks (hello street vendors) while the cafeteria serves up large portions of food that are just piled on a plate. The most attractive things I've eaten thus far have been salad and pasta, neither of which are of Chinese origins.  So no points for presentation but an 8 for taste, 10 for price and 11 for oiliness. You probably won't recognise me when I'm back.

And as for fashion, living out of a suitcase for a month warrants a heavy rotation of nothing but plain tee shirts and shorts. I have no iron and everything has to be hand washed and hung on a chair by my window. It averages around 30 degrees daily (except the past few days it has been raining) and I'd much prefer to sweat it out in a grey muscle singlet rather than a silk shirt that crinkles once washed, am I right? Let's just say I'm starting to understand why college kids wear thongs, shorts and a hoodie regardless of the weather. Guilty as charged. 

beijing bound. part 1.

As promised, here's what I've been up to over the last week presented to you via video (and featuring one of my current on repeat artists: Lorde). It's crazy to think how short of a time I've spent in Beijing but judging by the above, I've covered a lot of ground.  I've visited three gardens, three lakes, six shopping complexes, two Apple Stores, purchased from Nike, Theory, COS and Uniqlo while  attending classes in the morning and squeezing in a gym session every second day. I've made a list of all the major sights and attractions in this city and making sure I don't miss a thing. There's nothing worse than coming home and realising you had all this time to visit somewhere but never did. And a sidenote: Any suggestions of secret hotspots in Beijing are more than welcome. I have to honestly say, Beijing isn't a city I've fallen in love with unlike Tokyo or Paris, it seems to be missing that something special (wait are we still talking about cities?) but I think I'm more in love with the idea of living in a different world, living a different life and I'm enjoying every moment. And trust me, there is plenty more to come - part 2 is already in the works. And now I'm off to do more sight seeing. Adventure time!

on campus.

你好 all the way from Beijing. It's been exactly a week since I touched down in the land of thick smog/ fog skies, burning heat, cheap street food and a perfectly functioning public transport system despite the ridiculous amount of people living in this city (up your game Sydney). Last week I was dying to go home after suffering from the culture shock, language barrier and everyone mistaking me as a native Chinese speaker. The number of times I was asked for directions (or perhaps they were trying to sell me something, who knows? I couldn't understand anyone of them) and I would just stand their lost for words and walk in the other direction. I had them baffled. I could barely check into my accommodation, let alone ask why my electricity wasn't working. The first few days were a struggle on my own. I thought I was a lost cause. 

We started class on Tuesday and I have to say my attitude has changed significantly. I'm piping up in class, asking questions and speaking aloud (though my stutter/ broken Chinglish is rather unimpressive). I've finally made a breakthrough. Willing to make a fool of myself in the hope of improving. And I'm relieved to say it's slowly working. 

It's still so surreal waking up in a completely different country without the comfort of my friends and family and my usual surroundings. I love the exchange student life. Class in the morning, gym after class, sight seeing (subtext: shopping mall tour of Beijing) in the afternoon and eating out with friends for dinner. The thrill of exploring the unknown and the freedom to do whatever I want and an actual weekend to relax. This is the experience I have hoped for and more. 

I'm off to Sanlitun this evening for yet another trip to the Nike Store (I can't escape it) and a celebratory TGIF dinner. Conveniently my dorm has provided us with white sheets (did they know I was desperate to crank out some flat lays?) so expect some snippets of my purchases, photo diary and a little video of the week that was. 再见!