My Nuffnang

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Travel: Time for Soul Searching in Taiwan


Dear Diary,

It's here. The day has finally come. I'll be flying off to Taiwan on my own for the first time - my very first solo trip overseas! It feels like a dream, being able to check one more thing off my bucketlist. Yes, I would've gone travelling during the three months break after graduation, before jumping into the working world. But, the circumstances would not allow it. Well, at least this day has finally come. I am feeling scared, nervous as I'm about to board a plane and jet set to another country on my own for the first time. I chose Taiwan as my destination because of its similarity yet vast difference from our culture. I have prepared beforehand and it is not easy to get lost in this country for what I've heard is that the people are really friendly and partial to visitors. Even if I do get lost, it'll be another opportunity to explore new parts of the country, right? After years of seeing my friends, family and even lecturer visit the Heart of Asia, my time has finally come to see, feel and experience it with my own eyes!
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Thank God for a smooth and safe flight. My parents were worried sick about me and you can actually hear the relief in their voice when I landed at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport and called home. Now, to begin my journey of soul searching - and do lots of shopping while we're at it! Hey, I'm a girl and I love shopping, nothing wrong with that right? :D There are so many things to explore in a new country, so many different cultures. I'm hoping to also uncover a gem or two that I can bring home with me, something unique that can't be found in my country.
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Dear diary, it was a giant leap for me today as I plunged right into the heart of Taiwan to start my exploration. I visited the Taipei 101 building, one of the tallest skyscrapers in Taipei which was formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Centre. Fast forward a few years later, this place is a landmark of the city and booming with tourists from all over the world. Everyone must and will visit this place as it is beautiful in the day and at night. I stopped by the Taipei 101 Mall as I couldn't resist the temptation to shop! The first 5 floors consisted of international brands and boutiques and the top floor has many restaurants that has a great view of Taipei below. It's an eye-opener indeed, staring down and looking at the people below like ants. Haha. Stopped by Jason's Market before heading back to the hotel and managed to grab a few Taiwanese delicacies to bring back, including pineapple biscuits and my favourite quail egg! Souvenir shopping for family, done!


Tonight, I explored Ximending! It's clearly a place for youngsters to hangout and a hip, vibrant feel hung in the air. It is an open air shopping street and I was fortunate because it did not rain. Little food stalls popped up along the street and I managed to sample a few Taiwanese delicacies or street snacks as I wandered around. The best part about this place is that it is a little hideout amidst the bustling urban landscape of Taiwan. There is an "America Street" that mostly sells second-hand clothings. If I had more time, I'd definitely dig for some gems there. Old is gold! :p The clothes here are selling at a much lower price than in malls and in Malaysia so I got my shopping mode ON and bought some appropriate summer clothes for myself and my sister. I imagined that this place would be Heaven for my bf as they do sell basketball merchandises here. I got him a pair of Nike basketball shoes because I know how much he loves the sport!


On the way back to the hotel, this quaint little shop caught my eye. It looks bigger inside than it did on the outside when I entered. This is 86 Shop. Many girls have adviced me that this is the place to be if you're looking for beauty products! Taiwanese beauty brands are famous worldwide and they have had a huge influence to me, having been a regular mask sheet user and an avid follower of the show "女人我最大". I spotted a few of my fave brands such as Hanaka, Sexylook, Miss Hana, Bevy C and even 3CE from Korea! My eyes couldn't stop wandering at the huge selection and before I knew it, I had a basketful of goodies to bring back home to Malaysia. Now that's what I call a haul! Ah, great place to stock up on beauty products if you ever visit! I also learnt that some Taiwanese convenience stores allow you to send your parcels to their address and you can drop by the stores to collect your parcels. How convenient!

Today I took the road less taken and dropped by Bellavita Shopping Mall. It is arguably one of Taiwan's finest and most posh shopping mall, a heaven for fashionistas everywhere. It hosts all the top international luxury brands which I can't afford but it doesn't matter because the interior of the mall was so beautiful that it made my visit worth it! Even by just walking around made me feel relaxed and happy as I feasted my eyes on the designer items and gorgeous decor. There's even a fine Michelin Guide restaurant in the mall. Anyone into high-fashion and unique finds would love this place!

Dear diary, today I left Taipei and took a train ride across the countryside to Kaoshiung, another district of Taiwan. Taiwanese love travelling by train and I can see why now. The scenic view of the countryside is gorgeous. It is simply therapeutic to look out the window as the trees rush by and contemplate your life choices. I had a good long thought and couldn't have felt more blessed to be able to experience this while I'm young. This trip, this trip is a much needed-break as I was not fortunate enough to enjoy long vacations during my study years. After slogging it out for years, a getaway like this surely helps to broaden my horizons, gain new knowledge and I'm sure I will go back as a refreshed, more motivated person.


Finally arrived at my destination - Dream Mall! It is the largest shopping mall in Taiwan. I could never finish shopping here in a day. There are 10 floors in this mall! *jaw drops* The shops and brands range from low to high end and there is something for everyone. No wonder it's so crowded, as it's a great place to be for families and tourists alike. Well, now I can boast that I've shopped in the largest mall in East Asia!
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It's time to leave today. I will miss the beautiful city of Taiwan that has two ends of the spectrum - an impressive urban landscape and a breath-taking countryside. Streets like Shilin and Ximending are little escapes from the busy bustling city life while for total relaxation, the countryside is the place to be. The amazing food, selfless people and deeply-rooted culture is something that I will miss. Not to mention, it's a great place for shopaholics like me to be at as you can shop practically anywhere - from night markets to high-end malls. My journey may not be much of a cultural one but what I took away is that there is so much more of Taiwan to explore and I know that I'll definitely be back for more. This is Taiwan, it always leaves you wanting more.

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This is a visual diary of my made-up trip to Taiwan, my entry for the Butterfly Project x Taiwan Tourism Bureau's blogging contest. Going through all the entries, I feel that I am on the losing end as I have no 'real' photos of the city but what I do have, is my imagination, hence this piece. I feel that more personal posts will have a touch of realness to it that readers enjoy more. This is the closest photo I have to Taiwan, when my bf visited last year and got me some souvenirs.

And yes, shopping is one of the themes of this contest so it's best to stick with the genre I know best, right? Heh. But even in my imagination, I know Taiwan is a beautiful capital that I must visit at least once in my lifetime. It's also true that everyone around me has visited this country and I'm hoping that it will be my turn soon. If luck would have it and let's say I did win this, I would bring my bf along with me on the trip as our first ever overseas trip together. Also because I can't really read Chinese as well as I speak it XD It's always been a dream of mine to travel the world - wanderlust, they call it. It's been three years since my last trip overseas - you could say I'm not fortunate enough to afford overseas trips each year. There is really a difference in people who travel and people who don't. Travel expands the mind and horizons. You see things from a different perspective, you get lost to find yourself. Hence, I am going to save up for a destination this year that I can go to and really immerse myself in the sights and sounds as I get to know my real self.

Thank you TTBKL and The Butterfly Project for organising this and giving me a chance to find myself!

For more details, log on to:

If you're a blogger, don't forget to check out The Butterfly Project Beauty Bloggers to see how you can win a trip to Taiwan!

Cheers,
Carinn 

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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Straight-up Confession About My Insecurities

Since young, I'm always known as "that small girl". Almost everyone I know are taller than me and if you asked them who their tiniest friend was, all fingers would point to me. I love shopping, but sometimes shopping is a problem for me. I can't wear some of the nice clothes I see because sometimes even size S is too big for me. People do make jokes about me shopping in the kids' department and you know what? I actually have an embarrasing secret to share regarding that. I had NEVER intended to share this story but now I felt compelled to as it seems to fit the topic. Mind you, I've had my fair share of embarrassing mishaps but this is one that I feel is quite funny to share XD

Last year, I was elected as the Head of Organising Committee for Freshies' Night in my uni. We spent about 3 months planning the whole thing and because I was so busy overseeing everything, I didn't even have the chance to properly shop for a proper traditional wear to suit the theme. I LITERALLY bought my traditional clothes the night before the event.

I was supposed to meet my friends Erica and Dan that night for dinner before shopping. Having no car in KL, we could only scour all the shops in Sunway Pyramid that sells anything remotely 'traditional'. And man, not only are the sizes not suitable for me, they are not cheap! In the end, Dan jokingly suggested that I go shop at the kids' section. Reluctantly, I let them drag me to the kids section to find something 'cos we were running out of time. And sad to say (?), the kids' baju kurung that they chose for me was a perfect fit! Oh man..... 

The most embarrassing part was at the counter when we wanted to pay. Dan casually mentioned that the dress was for his "little niece" so the cashier wouldn't suspect. She smirked and asked who were we buying the clothes for? We all tried not to laugh but I couldn't help it and confessed with my sweetest, brightest smile that it was for me. The cashier laughed, we all did. She actually said there was nothing to be embarrased about because she used to shop in the kids' department too! But hey, at least I was honest and it lightened the mood! All it takes is a big smile and some courage to save any embarrasing situation, right? And guess how much was the baju kurung? It was RM24 only, talk about saving money! XD

Until today, only 6 people know the truth about "The Baju Kurung" - Erica, Dan, Eunice, my mum, my bf and me, of course. And here I am today, spelling it out to the world about my embarrassing story! My team will never look at me the same way again cos I refused to tell them where I bought the clothes initially XD
In a baju kurung meant for kids 11-12 years. Yeap.

Well, guess I won't be bringing this secret to my grave anymore.

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While we're on the topic of being honest, I have another confession to make. Please don't laugh at me ok :( As I've stressed many times on my blog, I'd like to keep it honest as a blogger and as a person so my readers can really relate to me. Yes, that noisy, small girl has insecurities too. Apart from my height, I've always been insecure about my teeth as well. Everyone has to go through an awkward phase in their life. Everyone has their insecurities about their physical appearace, something thay're not pleased about and wish they could change. For me, it's my teeth. I don't have the straight teeth, at all. Luckily for me, that is something that can be changed with some minor help from surgery (plastic surgery is too drastic for me, tbh). You know, I want straight teeth so badly that many times, I dream that I lost all my teeth and woke up in a panic! Talk about nightmares. This is quite a personal post for me as I've never been so open with my insecurities..

My mum wanted me to wear braces when I was younger but my dad was skeptical because he said braces were 'ugly'. I didn't care much nor knew what braces were really for back then so I didn't argue with him. Now, I extremely regret it. We even went to the government hospital to get my teeth checked.. They told me to go back for a second time and I did. Then they told me to go back for a third time.. And for some reason, we just gave up and never went for the last checkup. Who knew maybe that would've been my chance to get braces and ultimately, nice straight teeth T.T

If you patiently go through my Facebook or Instagram feed, you'll find that most of my photos are of me with my mouth closed. Look, ALL my selfies are taken with pursed lips (or pouts).
Hashtag #perasan hashtag #syioksendiri

WHY? Because my teeth are crooked! I not only have buck teeth, my two front teeth are slightly pointed IN, just like the letter V! My dad used to tease me when I was young that if he needed to type any word with the letter 'V' in it, he will have to use my front teeth -_- I totally regret messing with my teeth using my tongue now, I am SO not going to let my kid do that in the future. My sister has nice teeth because my parents stopped her from ruining her teeth the way I did. So, I guess I'm the guinea pig because everyone in my family has nice teeth except me. You should see how straight my dad's teeth are. It's like he's had braces put on but in fact they're perfect without braces at all.

Not only do I have buck teeth, I have crooked bottom teeth too. When I was about 6, I had to have a bottom tooth extracted which never grew back until all the other teeth had fully developed. That sudden growth of the new tooth messed up the alignment of my bottom row of teeth properly, as you can see it sticking out like a sore thumb. My top two front teeth are also uneven with one slightly bigger than the other. Doesn't help that I have shapeless thick lips as well haha. I also have a bit of an overbite which makes chewing inconvenient at times.
Can't smile cutely, oh my :D My baby cousin actually saw this photo and said, 'scared me' XD

Thus, I have since developed a 'strategy' when it comes to taking photos! I also hardly ever smile with my teeth showing when I'm having photos taken with my friends. I just feel soooo uncomfortable with my teeth. So most of the phtoos will look like this - everyone having a great time & flashing their pearly whites while I look like a funny potato with my pursed lips. Um, awkward much? 
Shoutout to Dan and Erica for keeping the secret for me till this very day. :p



Must be nice to be able to bare all your teeth when smiling haha.

It's even worse when I wear glasses.. I can't show my teeth, AT ALL. I really envy those girls who can take no filter, no makeup, hair-pushed-back-from-their-face-wearing-comfy-sweats-at-home-kinda selfies because I don't feel confident enough to do that D: Somehow, the insecurities increased after I cut my hair (but that still doesn't stop me from posting lots of photos haha :D) Hmm, if only I can change my teeth as fast as I change my hairstyle lol.

Don't get me wrong. I do smile, just not with my teeth showing. Unless it's from a) the left side of my face (cos I think that's my good side and my teeth don't look all that crooked from the side) or b) taken from very far away.


Love how happy we all look!

Spot me!

My boyfriend likes to ask me, "Why do you always smile with your mouth closed? I love your smile, smile for me too!" Kinda sad that I can't do that 'cos I look so weird when I smile so most of our photos end up like this ._.
His signature smile that everyone praises him for and my potato face xD

Most of the friends around me have worn/ are wearing braces before, how I envy them! Only 2-4 years of brace face for a lifetime of beautiful pearly whites haha :D
Can I has braces too?

Check out her fine, straight teeth and my awkward molars haha.

I dislike candid shots because I think I look bad most of the time. It's very rare to find a nice candid shot of me that I like! Honestly, I can't even upload some photos or are forced to remove tags because because my teeth 'ruined' them. :( 
Candid shot taken at Carousell Meetup last year. Awkward teeth?

...Much better.

I love this photo of us bridesmaids on Audrey's wedding day but not my protruding teeth -_-


All dolled up but still the most awkward photoshoot for me because my teeth were protruding :(

Not only candids, but I don't like having videos of me taken either as I feel very uncomfortable if I have to speak in front of the camera. Then people would see my teeth :(
See how I dance at the start of the video? You could almost feel the awkwardness.

I hate feeling that way. I dislike feeling bad or unconfident about myself because of one imperfection.  I've never got around trying out sports in high school because I was insecure abut my size. Now, I feel something else is holding me back. I always loved watching YouTube videos and I would love to start my own YouTube channel one day but I am insecure about my looks, my teeth. I feel bad for the fact that one little imperfection can make me feel so much inhibition and stop me from trying out new things. But I know, I should embrace my flaws and work my way towards paying for my braces. I'm lucky and grateful in a sense that I still have all my healthy teeth, right? I never thought of myself as pretty because that would be conceited, but I would like to be a happy person. I still enjoy making ugly faces and laughing out loud without cover my mouth because it's nice to express your joy openly. I am also blessed with people who love me for who I am and not how I look! :)

I've always told my friends that "My first paycheck will be going into my mouth." And I am trying very hard to save up now for that dream to come true. Hopefully, I'll be able to save up enough and get my braces or Invisalign done by the end of this year and be one step closer to getting straight teeth. It seems like a shallow dream to have but it's what I've always wanted. Doesn't matter if having braces hurts or looks bad cos no pain, no gain right XD It will also my motivation to save money! And when the day comes when I finally get to wear braces, I'll definitely wear it loud and proud like a medal! Oh, and the retainers after that too, must consistently wear. One step closer towards showing the happy, bubbly side of me again :D

Going back through this post, I'm amazed that I made it through all these stages of my life with what I was born with and I couldn't be more thankful. Thanks, Nuffnang and Invisalign organisers for giving me the chance to write about this. I feel much better now that I pen down my feelings :)

CHEERS!



Love,
Carinn 

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Travel: Time for Taiwan! [Taiwan Travel Fair 2015 by TTBKL]

Have you ever travelled to Taiwan? Over the years, I've seen the people around me travel to Taiwan and come back with good memories, which has inspired me even more to go there. If you're like me and you've always wanted to go to Taiwan, here's your chance! 

Photo from TTBKL
For the first time ever, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Kuala Lumpur (TTBKL) will be organising a Taiwan Travel Fair at 1 Utama Shopping Centre with many great deals for travelers!

Photo from TTBKL
Themed 'Time to Enjoy Life', travel to the Heart of Asia and enjoy the best that Taiwan has to offer. With travel fair partners China Airlines, Eva Air and Star Cruise, you'll find an array of travel packages to suit you and your family's needs. 

You'll guarantee not be bored at the fair with this awesome line-up of events. Here are just a few of the activities happening at the fair.

Photo from TTBKL
For the adventurers at heart..

Photo from TTBKL
Sharing session for Muslim friends too!

Photo from TTBKL
Free Clay Sculpting lesson to immerse yourself in one of Taiwan's culture.

Photo from TTBKL
Who wouldn't be attracted to food FREE food?

Speaking of food, it seems appropriate to introduce the best three things to do in Taiwan.

TIME TO EAT
Photo from TTBKL

Photo from TTBKL

Photo from TTBKL
Experience flavourful dishes, wafting scents of delicious street food and maybe a few wacky Taiwanese specialties, all at an affordable price. Taiwan is indeed a culinary paradise. Get stuffed with Taiwanese hot favourites like oyster meesuah, stinky tofu and more at the Shihlin Night Market! Taiwan is famous for their night markets which is a great place to hang out and experience Taiwan nightlife!

TIME TO SHOP
Photo from TTBKL

Photo from TTBKL

Photo from TTBKL
Shopping is definitely one of my favourite things to do. Apart from sight-seeing, Taiwan has many great places that you can shop at - from megamalls to street vendors. Taiwan's definitely also a shopping paradise. I've had so many friends gloat to me about how affordable it is to shop in Taiwan and everything's trendy and quirky as well! Seriously can't wait to go try it out for myself!

TIME FOR TWO WHEELS
Photo from TTBKL

Photo from TTBKL

Photo from TTBKL
Taiwan's not just all about skyscrapers and beautiful night lights. No Taiwan trip is complete without a visit to these scenic locations and their old streets. Instead of travelling by train, visitors can opt to cycle instead (hence the name Two Wheels). Taiwan encourages their visitors to enjoy a LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability) vacation, so get healthy as you soak up the sights and sounds of Taiwan.

Photo from TTBKL
 What's more, lots of promo and free gifts await you when you book your tour packages at the fair!

Photo from TTBKL
So, are you tempted yet? See you at LG Floor Oval (New Wing), 1 Utama Shopping Centre this 25 - 29th March at the Time to Enjoy Life Taiwan Travel Fair!

For more details, log on to:

If you're a blogger, don't forget to check out The Butterfly Project Beauty Bloggers to see how you can win a trip to Taiwan!

Cheers,
Carinn 

Follow me on my blog and social media sites:
Twitter // Instagram // Lookbook // Bloglovin' // NetworkedBlogs // Carousell 

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