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One Year in Shanghai

Shanghai by Night – Picture credit: Business Insider

I have lived a year in Shanghai and two in Kuala Lampur. From my experience, Shanghai is a by far the best of the Chinese cities for an expat like me to reside. Shanghai is the most populous city of China for no other reason. It is one of the fastest developing cities in the world.

Anything and everything is comparatively cheap here in Shanghai let alone the rent for an apartment. I lived in a fairly good but small apartment in an urban area of the city. Everybody here is in a rush. This makes most of them ill tempered. But I was lucky to have a cheery landlord who appears as though he haven’t heard English in his lifetime but never minded me coming home very late in the night or me keeping the apartment messy. Thanks to my real estate agent.

When it comes to the lifestyle of the people, it may seem quite strange to see many people in traditional dresses throughout the day. But that is the case of just people who are still living in the previous century or so. There is a very vibrant and dynamic population too in Shanghai who are up-to-date with the current happenings in fashion and lifestyle all around the world. You can see many people in the streets from various cultures and countries very much like us. So no expats will feel like stranded out in some other planet.

The pollution in the city is the main concern that is puzzling even the officials. It seems to be rising from day to day. The polluted atmosphere poses a threat to the skin. When it comes to skincare, I prefer natural and herbal ways. In a place this polluted, I give safety higher priority rather than beauty. Proper sunscreens or other facial creams are highly recommended. The streets of Shanghai is crowded with people from all over the world alike battling all such challenges.

This pollution has made much problem to the roadside food vendors too. Food from such shops may seem like an unwanted risk in our lives. But if you are into some great international food, there are places that do offer it. When you are planning to stay in Shanghai for a fairly long time, you will come to understand that cooking your own food is much healthier and cheaper. For a foreigner in Shanghai, it might take more than a month to fit into the new-found routine.

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Kuala-Lumpur-Malaysia organicisbeautiful

The night life in the city is one rather interesting. Even though the government seem to have certain pre-historic kind of rules and beliefs, the city has got a really active night life. The traffic in Shanghai is nightmare during the rush hours like any other prominent cities. But the city has a well-established and reliable metro and subway system. The metro rails of Shanghai is one of the longest in the world. You can buy almost all items for a fairly minimum price in Shanghai.

There are markets that sell almost anything under the sky. When it comes to fish and meat market, you might see even the most unexpected ones from insects and snakes to even crocodiles! The exact cultural background and beliefs of China is a bit strange and indigestible for expats. But it is quite a relief to see such a large and busy city being friendly to foreigners and immigrants from all over the world.

So, the final verdict is yours to take. Do you believe Shanghai deserves your acquaintance?

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Things I love about Singapore

Singapore is an hour trip from Kuala Lumpur, yet the country was never in my bucket list before. Not sure why since I learnt to love every bits of it across the years. Why? Read below:

Singapour OrganicIsBeautiful
Singapour OrganicIsBeautiful

Stop in Singapore | OrganicIsBeautifulEthnic quarters:

While exploring the city of Singapore, I encountered such quarters:

  1. Little India: From a distance, I could hear Hindi songs being played in a loudspeaker. I was astonished, thinking why was it played in a loudspeaker in Singapore. I walked towards the sound and suddenly the buildings, shops, streets, people and the overall aura of the place changed. I found myself in Little India. I saw shops selling brass jewelry and beautiful colorful sarees. I had delicious Indian cuisine which included roti, daal, crisp potatoes and chicken curry. I experienced India in this beautiful country.
  2. Chinatown: I was excited when I saw yet another country’s quarter in Singapore. I tried the Chinese cuisine. I had the delicious Tian Tian rice and oyster pancakes. I learnt kite making from a vendor there. I wore colorful masks too fully immersing myself in the culture. I also visited the Thiang Hock Keng temple. I loved the intricate designs, elaborately painted doors and the typical Chinese style structure. It felt as if I was transported to China.

Night Safari:

This is one of the most exciting things to do in Singapore. The Night Safari was a special experience for me because this was the first time I was exploring the zoo at night and that too in a tram. I saw quite a few animals such as lions, tigers, hippos etc. The darkness of the night makes it a thrilling and unique experience. One should must experience this especially with their family.

A mall in Singapour | OrganicIsBeautiful
A mall in Singapore | OrganicIsBeautiful

Camping in a deserted island:

This is the most thrilling and memorable experience in Singapore. It is not covered in most of the tourist’s itineraries. There is Kusu and St. John’s islands which are further afield and are accessible by ferry. I went to the St. John’s Island. I took my own food and water as there are no restaurants on the island. The beach of the island is mesmerising and fresh. I had sea bath and made barbeques. Then I spent the whole night star gazing on the beach. The night time had an enigmatic beauty. The twinkling stars adorned the night sky and the whole beach was glistening with silvery moonlight. I was there enjoying every moment to the fullest and adoring the elegance of the Singapore skyline visible from there.

Sentosa Island:

This island is rightly called the state of fun with a huge Merlion sitting on it. There are many thing which can be done there. Some of the best are:

  1. Underwater World: I step on the escalator and it takes me through a huge underground aquarium covering me from three sides having a large variety of sea fishes such as myriads of jellyfishes, rays, sharks and much more. I was astonished to see such a huge variety of fishes. The humongous aquarium had Open Ocean habitat, which made me feel if I am on the cavernous ocean floor!
  2. Songs of the Sea: This is my best experience on Sentosa Island. The world famous laser show happens on the sea side. A beautiful story is shown through laser lights on the water is truly awe inspiring and fun to watch. The dancing lights and the spraying water blend together to form a great entertainment for tourists.
  3. Beaches: Sentosa Islands also offers beautiful beaches.
    Tropical Beach | OrganicIsBeautiful
    Tropical Beach | OrganicIsBeautiful

     

  4. Tanjong beach: This is an ideal beach for people looking for tranquility and peace. It is the romantic beach. The tranquil atmosphere provides relaxation and is away from the hustle bustle of the city.
  5. Siloso Beach: When I went to this beach, it was polar opposite of the Tanjong beach. There is excitement all over the beach. I played volleyball here with random people and made some new friends. Amazing places to eat and bars can be found here. In the night, this beach is wide awake partying. I thoroughly enjoyed the night culture of this beach, thanks to the quality live music being played, good alcohol and wonderful food by the sea shore.

Nightlife:

Singapore has a vibrant and sophisticated nightlife. Some of the best are:

  1. 1-Altitude Gallery & Bar: This is the first thing that comes to my mind. The bar is on the 63rd floor and provides a beautiful view of the city. I found the place very sophisticated and the service was great. Food and booze are of top quality. After traveling for the whole day, I went there at 8 and even though it got late for me but I did not feel like leaving the place. I loved the ambience and one could just stare at the scintillating city forever.
  2. Zouk: I love dance music and Zouk turned out to be a heaven to me. This awarding-winning venue has been at the forefront of the club scene in the city for over two decades. The crowd here mainly consisted of the youngsters. I danced my way through the night having the time of my life. The feeling was ecstatic. It is a must go club for dance loving people.

The nightlife of Singapore has something in store for everyone. The night never gets boring here. Excitement levels touch the sky with electrifying bars, pubs and discos. The perfect blend of beaches, nightlife, entertainment, adventure and fun filled activities makes Singapore one of the most attractive countries in the world.

Thank you for stopping by,

Amanda

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7 Reasons Why You Should Try Hitchhiking

1. Saving Money On Transportation

This was the reason why I first started hitchhiking, traveling on a shoestring and using public transportation don’t go well together. If I can get a flight from Portugal to Germany for 20€ I’m not paying more than that for a boring 200km, three hour bus ride to the next destination.

2. Saving More Money!

This might sound crazy to people who are concerned about the “dangers” of hitchhiking, but during some rides I have been offered food, money, drinks, accommodation and even marijuana and alcohol, usually they are just really into helping me and making sure I enjoy my adventure, some people have also driven off their paths just to drop me off exactly where I wanted them to.

Hiking Prep | OrganicIsBeautiful
Hiking Prep | OrganicIsBeautiful

Of course this situations don’t come very often, specially if you are hitchhiking with someone else. Although it feels amazing to be treated in such a nice way by a stranger you should be very grateful just by the fact that they decide to pick you up, so don’t expect anything else from the people who give you a ride.

3. Overcoming Your Fears.

When it comes to hitchhiking anyone who has never done it before tends to have enough misconceptions about it to keep themselves away from doing it unless encouraged by someone else.

The exact same thing happened to me, that’s why I want you to go out there and do it, after a few rides your opinions about hitchhiking will change drastically and once you overcome that fear you will feel more confident and even more determined to overcome other mental barriers that you may have.

Emotions are Contagious

4. Meeting Really Nice People

This is why I love hitchhiking! You will meet lots of different people and have many conversations with complete strangers. You can share your stories and at the same time discover more about the local culture or about someone else’s life, isn’t that great?

Of course not everyone is interested in hearing what you have to say or share with you their lives but countless times I’ve had really indulging conversations and learned much from this people and it also helped me overcome social insecurities.

5. Practising Your New Language

Please! Make sure you learn or at least write down some keywords or phrases from the local language. It’s easy to learn a new language and you can even practise for free with people who give you a ride by trying to introduce yourself, explaining where you want to go and even talk a bit about yourself in the local language.

If you and the person who give you a ride have any language in common it’s always funny to have a quick conversation in the local language, if that’s not the case be creative, talk with gestures or pictures, point at things, make an effort to break the language barrier.

You Are Your Own SuperHero

6. Save The World!

Every time someone picks you up the same amount of CO2 is emitted but more people are getting from point A to point B, this is what I call economizing. Can you imagine if more and more people start hitchhiking? Not only to travel on a budget but to actually do it on a daily basis. There would be less and less pollution, traffic jams and people would trust more on each other.

7. Experience True Freedom And Adventure

Hitchhiking is more than just sticking your thumb up and waiting. It’s the freedom of choosing where and when you want to go and never knowing where and when someone will take you there! It’s embracing the unknown! There are absolutely no certainties when it comes to hitchhiking, you never know what type of person or car will pick you up, how long you will have to wait or where they are going. This is what I call adventure!

When you don’t know what to expect you are living life in the present and experiencing everything in detail, you appreciate more the good things and easily ignore whatever doesn’t suit you.

the mount Rinjani
Learn about my hike in Indonesia last year on OrganicIsBeautiful

I have countless good memories from hitchhiking: getting invited for lunch in a hill by the beach, having really funny or interesting conversations, getting rides on cabs for free, pretending to be moroccan on a police checkpoint and many more that are yet to come.

Thank you Lucas for this amazing post, you can find the original article in their website.

What about you? What are your thoughts on hitchhiking? Please Share with me your adventures!

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The Importance of Eyebrows

For the last two years I feel that well shaped and filled in eyebrows have become more and more popular in the make-up world and to me, it’s not a surprise as of why. Eyebrows can drastically change what a person looks like and they add so much character to a face that I feel like it’s one of the first things that you should try to tackle when you’re interested in make-up. To illustrate how important brows are to the general look of a face I proceeded to quickly sketch a lady and gave her over 15 different brow shapes and intensities.

You may ask why? OiB is about natural beauty, and applied aromatherapy tips. Since the past months, I shared with you:

And more coming soon! Because beauty has different ways of expressing itself, I though it is time to diversify my scope, at least for a day – No fancy words, promise!

Carrot in skincare | www.OrganicIsBeautiful.com
Carrot in skincare | www.OrganicIsBeautiful.com

I’m not going to tell you which ones I think are flattering or not because I feel like it’s a matter of taste and not of fact. I personally dislike it when people tell you how to do something because they often only suggest it because it’s what they personally like, not what may be most suitable for you. Different faces suit different things, so you should do your brows in whichever way you want!

All I want to achieve with this is that you become aware of what different eyebrows do and perhaps gain some insight into how you want to shape your own. The next beautiful visuals are the courtesy of HantasticBeauty.

Eyebrow OrganicIsBeautiful
Eyebrow | OrganicIsBeautiful

See how much changes in the intensity of the expressions when you change the opacity of the eyebrow. This is why it’s important to think of the colour as well! It can change how you come across drastically.

These two are almost identical, but the one on the left is more heavily filled in towards the tail and the beginning of the brow is left natural and lighter. On the right, the brow is filled in all the way to the center, note how much the intensity of the brow changes with just a little addition like that. So if you want a softer, more natural effect, lightly fill in the beginning of the brow instead of heavily

Eyebrow OrganicIsBeautiful
See how even a light or artistic eyebrow can bring expression to the face in a way that the ‘no eyebrow’ lacks, though not having brows can be a statement in itself as well and is quite popular for that.

Love,

Amanda.

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A festival in the middle of the Rainforest, I say YES!

Destination: Rainforest World Music Festival

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Legendary. One of my best memories ever!

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Kuching – Malaysia (Map: World Atlas)

In a nutshell, it’s like a well-oiled machine with just the right amount of craziness, sprinkled with positive vibes.

For two days it was a glorious euphoria, teeming with festival-goers frolicking care-free in the sunshine and occasional rain, everyone at one with nature.

This is not a festival for voyeurs or fence sitters; you are just as much a part of the fabric as the acts playing on the stages. The interaction is magic because it brings together people from every nook and corner of the world.

Women in their traditional costumes.
Women in their traditional costumes.

It’s a fusion of diverse ethnicities and cultural backgrounds that is beautifully reflected in the magical performances by musicians from all continents, playing all types of music – from the traditional, to world fusion and the contemporary.

RWMF 2014.

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The festival is held every year in Sarawak, one of the two Malaysian states. Kuching is the premier location for the wildlife of Borneo.

A tree house in the outskirts of the festival
A tree house in the outskirts of the festival

Living in KL, I am a 2hr flight away from the land. As soon as you land, the green tropical set is overwhelming. It feels like a peaceful countrysidish landscape. An horizontal city. Only the coconut trees disrupts the urban contour. I slowly immersed myself in a cultural bubble, the 2hrs flight from kL felt like thousounds of km away.

Sarawak has a population of almost 2.5 million, made up of some 40 different ethnic groups. The non-Muslim (mainly Christians and animists believer) indigenous groups are collectively called Dayaks.

31% of the population are Iban aka Sea Dayaks

Ethnic and tribal music from across the globe will be featured at the nightly stage shows with musical workshops and jamming sessions being held in the afternoon. No time for rest. Our schedule was full of exciting discoveries.

Indigenous music instrument.
Indigenous music instrument.

The festival fueled a lot of talk between us. First-timers, we were thrilled to join such an amazing opportunity to spice up our expat life in KL. We were like kids in front of a Pinata, unified and ready to blow the mind.

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D-Day

Overflown with good tunes, and well, rain too.

The first distinctive sign: happy faces everywhere like we were all suddenly victim of facial paralysis.  Total participants 2015: 30,000!!!

Overall, the festival is very much family oriented, kids playing around, although eclectic since I could not conclude in a specific ages average. We were a large crowd drawn in by the unexpected dance burst, the organization team clearly did working hard to get things moving, but making it look effortless.

The plus

The entire festival put a high emphasis on the constant interaction with participants, the audience participation makes it fun.

The diversity of workshop available to us was absolutely awesome. I prefer to give you a bite with some of the pictures I have taken on the 2014 edition:

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Photo 2014 – 2015 editions credit: RWFM.

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Rainforest

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