Island Hopping Philippines x2months

December 2012, my job hunting hit a dry spell. The Hong Kong grey weather was not cheering me up any either, so against my parents’ wishes, I went and booked a one-way flight to the Philippines. My plan was having no plans, only returning when my funds ran out….

I went to more than 32 towns/cities, 18+beaches and around 20 different islands (it’s hard to keep track after a while….). Here is a map of the spots I hit.phils_Trip

The reason for choosing the Philippines was to find some quiet time with untouched, serene nature. I found what I wanted. Along the way, meeting kindred spirits, crossroads conversationalists, and people who live “ignorant”, “naïve”, or what I’d say ordinary lives that really opened my eyes to the beautiful simplicity that life can be.white_island

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In the 2 months, I’ve hitchhiked, spent the whole day of my birthday commuting on a bangka boat, Christmas and New Years with different groups of perfect strangers, hiked to waterfalls, explored islands on a scooter, swam with whale sharks, went wreck diving, got 3 meters close to thresher sharks….
In the end, my budget had to put me back on a plane home. I could have easily spent at least 6 months+ in just he Philippines alone. Not enough time, not enough bank!!

Well, at least I have something to work and look forward to… :)

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Photographers// artists… critique and comments on my shots are well appreciated! To all you others, let me know what you’d like to see/ hear more about my trip… personal stories? Highlights? Video montage? Details of my trail/ trip? Let me know in the comments below and I see about doing a followup post!
Cheers, Jacki

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Clockenflap 2012: the fashions

Hey all! It’s been a while since my last post..sorry to those who have been waiting for a follow up post on my backpacking trip…..but….. I happened upon a hard disk mishap…basically all my photos from my backpacking trip are gone (other than the ones already on the blog, of course).

Anyway.

The first weekend of December was the Clockenflap Music Festival, which as the name might suggest, features an lineup of bands through the weekend. Most of the music are of local and international “indie” musical groups. Actually, I didn’t know ANY of the lineup before I went, but I definitely discovered a few new favorite artists for my personal playlist by the end of it!

Music festivals are interesting because they attract a particular type of audience depending on the music. To me, it is interesting to see the differences in the ways of dress as a reflection and/ or function of the type of subculture involved. For example, fashion would be different at a rave in downtown LA versus punk concert in Sydney versus a DJ/dub festival in the Netherlands.

Needles to say, I was quickly drawn to some of the bold fashion choices of the festival-goers at Clockenflap. It was the colors, the patterns, the textures… some of them left me craving a few additions for my wardrobe, particularly a slouch beanie, a cosy knit sweater and bright tights to go with the weather’s chill. Here are some pictures.

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Classic hipster look. The slouch beanie + big rimmed glasses

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Yess!! the bright knit sweater!

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Nothing like flannel for this weather. Plus the beanie plus the sneaks just screams STREET STYLE.

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Striped jeans// Fringed bag.

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Outdoor music fest does glam.

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Textures + pattern: fuzzy white, textured knit, tie-dye jeans. Simple & chill.

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I really like his splatter paint.

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Like the overall aztec/ navajo theme. A great example of overlapping patterns that work.

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Punk colored hair and studded.

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Nothing like a rock show without a mohawk. It’s rare to see people with real mohawk these days…

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I’ve been digging all the rustic/ vintage rucksacks on the market

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Normally I would never get jeans that “out there”….but this girl made me rethink…

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Too many textures and patterns to mention. Its the subtlety of the details make it work and not overwhelm.

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Comments/ critiques? What were some of your faves and some that you didn’t like?

What are some of your favorite winter fashion statement pieces?

As always, I’d love to hear from you! Happy hump day!

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My First Backpacking…

Hey all!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been on WordPress! But for  good reason, I’ve just graduated, been on a internship in China, and went backpacking for the first time!

Before I get into all that, I want to give a shout out to CouchSurfing- if you are into backpacking and/or budget travel, you NEED to check it out. Now, I haven’t actually done any surfing yet, but during my move to a new city I’ve utilized the groups to meet people, find friends and travel buddies. It’s one of the best “online” communities I’ve experienced.

Back to backpacking. I was in Yunnan, China. I traveled along the northeast, from Kunming, went to Dali, LiJiang, Lugu Lake, back to LiJiang, and finally Shangri-la (aka Zhong Dian and Deqin).

A rough route of my trip.

Along the way, through CouchSurfing and hosteling, I have met so many interesting people from all over the world: a French chiropractor, a Belgian bio/ecology researcher,  German med students, Asian-American Yalies, a civil engineer from York, and a History teacher from Austria. Best of all, I traveled with a French Jazz singer (no, I did not get bedtime lullabies).

After a total altitude of 3,500 meters (it gets higher the more North you go), and I don’t know how any miles of traveling on the road, I have to say I have become a HUGE fan, if not an addict of backpacking. It is such a great way to travel, especially on a budget, and the types of people you’ll meet along the way are just wonderful, genuine, kind people. I really can’t wait to get on another trip!!

Anyway, I’ve taken many many pictures that are taking a while to process… but here are a few as a teaser. Keep on the lookout for the next post!

P.S. If for the meanwhile, you want to check out snippets of my trip check my Instagram via username jackieechan.
P.P.S. I would totally appreciate if you like these pictures, which one of these are your fav and why! For those familiar with art critique, I would appreciate some comments or points for improvement as well!

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Best Breakfast Around Orlando

I’m not usually a big fan of breakfast places. The idea of a bacon-loaded greasy eggs and hash browns, or syrup-overloaded empty-caloried pancakes just makes me kinda sick to my stomach. I know from personal experience that I will end up feeling lethargic all day, or for a lack of better words… feeling like crap.

There is a place right around my school that gets raves from every person who I’ve asked about it – Keke’s Breakfast Café. So prior to graduation, I decided to give it a shot.

I went on a Saturday morning and it was packed! This to me is always a telltale sign of a good eatery. The good first impressions didn’t stop there. Instead of the dim-litted, musty smell of a familiar Denny’s or IHOP, Keke’s had… a clean, fresh feel to its interior. I wish I had pictures of the interior to show you guys, but just think tall glass windows, smooth wooden furniture and lush floral decorations. It didn’t even feel like it would serve anything remotely disgustingly greasy.

The menu was impressive – everything you could ever really want for breakfast. Eggs, french toast, pancakes etc. etc. in every sort of combination you fancy and cooked any way you wished.

When trying out a new restaurant, I would make it point to order something more standard to judge how good the place is; so I ordered an omelet; the Greek Omelet, with fresh baby spinach, diced tomato and Athenos feta cheese, complete with a side of home potatoes and English muffin. Check it out:

Lets just say the whole thing went above and beyond my expectations. The omelet was in the perfect level of moistness and saltyness, and cheese just oozed and stretched when I cut a piece from the center. Even the potatoes and muffin was a perfect 10. The English muffin was perfectly toasted and the insides glistened with buttery goodness. The home potatoes was a healthy amount of greasy, with some pieces crunchy around the edges…. uh! Just writing about it is making my mouth melt.

One of my friends decided to go with something sweet, he had the Turtle Stuffed French Toast, pecans, milk chocolate, caramel cream cheese topped with caramel and powdered sugar. To be honest, the description of that on the menu just sounded saccharin, like most desserts and such in America (for my taste, anyway).

I had a couple bites from my friend, and it was decadent with just the right amount of crunch.[The 'stuffed' part of it really referred to it being 'stuffed' between two pieces of french toast, ie. a sandwich.] That being said, I do not know if I would be able to stomach the whole plate for breakfast. It was definitely a good closing to my omelet though.

I would love to go back again, but that is only if I return to Florida. I know it wouldn’t be soon – so for the while being, I’ll have to be on the lookout for a similar cafe in Hong Kong! (Any of you readers from around there and know of a place, please let me know!!!)

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My First Photography Series!!

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Artist Statement:
Landscapes and nature are what interest me. It is something that is often passed by without our noticing it, a lot of the times it serves as fillers to our living environment because of their stationary characteristics and so it ceases to catch our attention after a certain period of time. I am interested in photographing landscapes and nature because it is not just aesthetically pleasing, but also at times poignant, able to stir something deeper within us. My project attempts to capture nature in this way that some might not normally see.
When having the time to really take in the scenes of nature, or when it so happens to catch my attention, I have been able to notice things about these scenes that I would not have otherwise seen. Within this pondering, I have discovered that many of the details that draw me in are things that have to do with form, color and texture.
Through looking at works of landscapes and nature from other photographers, I realize it is the role and responsibility as photographer to manipulate viewers to see what I see and feel. In order to fulfill this duty, I use shallow depth of field to highlight the details of the scenes that catch my attention; in this way, viewers are forced to see what I see. I also emphasize textures and color using digital enhancements, deliberately highlighting these details for the viewers’ attention, sometimes causing these pictures to become otherworldly.
My goal for these photographs is to not only illustrate the details I noticed, but also the feelings that they provoked within me. Though the process of Sight (nature catching my attention), Capture (of the scene as how it evoked feelings in me), Manipulation (emphasizing features), and Presentation I hope to evoke feelings of sublime majesty and emotive serenity in nature.
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Epic Breakfast Egg Toast & Pao de Queijo!

I love great food. Healthy foods that make you feel good. Foods that you prepare and cook yourself is always a little more enjoyable than something that you order or buy. This weekend, I had a beloved friend who came to visit me. She is quite a health nut – a devoted supporter of eating organic local, and a permaculture fanatic – needless to say, she can make some of the best hearty healthy home meals :) Breakfast is her specialty: we made an epic omelet toast on the first day…

Prep: grape tomatoes & basil

Le Chef Emily

Ta-daa!: whole grain toast from local bakery w/ butter; lettuce; basil; grape tomatoes; scrambled eggs with peppers & red onion

And And the final product…. mega egg toast/sandwich:::

Garnished with sea salt & fresh ground black pepper

That night, we had a little soirée at home. We made little appetizers and Emily made her cheese bread a la Brazil, where she just spent a year abroad at.

tomatoes, mozzarella, basil; balsamic dip

aAnd the feature dish you’ve all been waiting for::: Pao de Queijo (aka Brazilian cheese puffs)

These were so deliciously chewy, cheesy, and buttery – it was a gluten lovers’ (aka me) heaven. The thing though, is that this bread is gluten free! – That’s right, it’s made with tapioca flour instead of wheat or other flours. Tapioca flour, also known as manioc starch or tapioca starch, is made with root starch derived from the cassava, or yuca plant. It is a staple in many Asian desserts to create that chewy, sticky texture – I love it!!!

This Pao de Queijo was actually extremely easy to make. Here is the recipe that we referred to. It was my first time ever eating this Brazilian delicacy, so I don’t know if it was anything close to what it’s supposed to taste like, but nonetheless, it was awesome :)

If any of you have ever tried this cheesy bread, let me know about your experience! Alternatively, if you have any great recipes for  easy hors d’oeuvres, post them in the comments below!

Happy munching!

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Fashion Quirk #12

(Oversized) Mens Dress Shirts.

This is the outfit I threw on first thing in the morning.

What’s wrong with a girl wearing these? I know I know, they’re associated with the so-called “Walk of Shame”, having to wear your hook-up’s shirt after a night of regrets and well, …. shame? Well, I wouldn’t know, but I suppose I would wear his clothes if I had access to some fashionable dude’s expensive closet…

But anyway, I’m putting my two words into supporting wearing mens clothes. Just because I own mens clothes doesn’t mean:
1) I have a boyfriend (and I stole his clothes), or
2) I have boyfriend (and I borrowed his  clothes)
3) I have ex-boyfriend issues and is still wearing/ keeping his clothes

And it certainly doesn’t mean:
3) I had a hookup and stole his clothes, or
4) I had a hookup and he left his clothes behind

It really just means:
5) I love mens clothes so I actually bought them

No, it doesn’t mean
6) I bought them at the store because I want to pretend I have a boyfriend/ significant other, or
7) I have an insatiable itch to shop (although my mom would beg the differ)

So, for the record, guys – I  1) am single, 2) DO NOT do one-night stands, 3) do not have problems being single, and 4) I love mens clothes, and mens-inspired fashion :)

So, what do you guys and gals think? Are girls clothed in over-sized mens’ shirts more slutty than fashionable? Maybe there’s a problem with society that girls are thought to be more slutty than fashionable. Maybe people just don’t understand fashion as an art form, a way to experiment, a way to express yourself.
A few months ago, I came across this video a friend shared with me, and I just thought it was pure genius!

(I got so excited after this, I tried to replicate. Lets just say this girl has a special talent :P)

So in all honesty, I don’t think there’s problem with girls wearing mens clothes at all. In fact, if you’re a fashion geek like myself, you’ll have noticed that there’s been a trend for mens-inspired womens’ clothing. All the more reason to get your mustache on! Hehe.

“the truth is, a great mind must be androgynous” - to me, great, versatile fashion is not only stylish and functional, but androgynous as well!
Here are a couple of my mens-inspired clothing for women, or just straight up from the men’s section! :)

Pleated trousers & suspenders!
Mens surf tank, worn as dress. Navajo cap
Mens canvas backpack, my FAVE boots!

Other things in my wardrobe that some people think are “questionable”

  • Billabong board shorts (mens) – they were just so much more comfortable than womens’
  • Ties
  • Rugby shirt
  • Oxfords (Lordy, of I would only fit mens’ shoes, I’d be in trouble!)

Comments, Like, Subscribe!↴

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Portuguese Egg Tart Heaven

This south-east Asian dessert is found in all kinds of restaurants and street bakeries in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Mainland China, and many other Southeast Asian countries. Because it is called the Portuguese tart, I did a little bit of research and found that it’s origin is actually from Lisbon, Portugal. I believe it made it way to southeast Asia when Macau became colonized by the Portuguese. Hmmm, I wonder if we Asians have made this our own rendition of the yummy dessert from Europe…

The Portuguese egg tart (葡撻) is not to be confused with the Hong Kong/ Canton invention of egg tarts (蛋撻), which not only does not have the bruelee-ing on top, but the texture tastes a lot different too. The Portuguese egg tart has a heavy, creamy/ custard-y taste, which, when in your mouth, the eggy part melts together with the greasy crispness of the flaky shell. In contrast, the the Cantonese egg tart is less creamy, and has a texture more similar to steamed egg, or (燉蛋, another Asian egg dessert, but that is another post topic).

Just for fun, I researched the process of making these little yellow delights. Surprisingly, all the recipes I came across were quite simple. Here I’m including links to two recipes I found: Jamie Oliver’s Quick Portuguese Tarts Recipe, and a recipe from an Asian Recipe Website.

I haven’t had the chance to try these recipes yet (even though I’m having trouble keeping my mouth from watering just writing this blog), so if you you’ve made Portuguese tarts before, or if you are going to try one of these recipes, please share your experience in the comment box below!

Happy baking & eating!

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If I Were a Dude

I’d be a Paul Smith shoes kinda guy. Their shoes are just so baddass!!

And if my feet were big enough to buy these shoes, I’d totally wear it too. So it’s probably a good thing they don’t make mens’ shoes in my ladies size 5 feet… or I’d be broke.

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An Evening after the Wet Market

To those who have already read this post previously, I have updated this post wih a video footage that I found on my SD card as I was clearing it.. I think this video really helps bring to you the sense of actually being in a wet market; I hope you feel the same! :)

The best part about being in Hong Kong is the food. The best part about the food here is that you can always get it really fresh.  I mean, live-and-still-jumpy fresh. I love seafood, and Hong Kong, having a history of being a fisherman village, to this day still have access to fresh seafood everyday at outdoor “wet” markets.

Along with butchers and vegetables/ fruit stalls, it is a place where seafood from the day’s catch lay fresh on ice, or whole live fish swimming in tanks. Shrimps, lobsters, crabs, all kinds of shellfish – mostly live are available for purchase. I personally think it’s the seafoodie’s heaven. Depending on the season, different seafood will best to eat. I have never tasted clams so sweet and 鮮 (see meaning on my other post). I totally just swooned.

Anyway, whenever my mom goes to the wet market by nightfall, she buys a lot of goods deals for the night’s ‘seafood meal’. You get a lot of good deals by dusk/ evening because that’s when the day ends and everything fresh, must go. My last seafood dinner at home over break, consisted of lobster, clams, snails, and my favorite veggie – 菜心 (choi sum, literally meaning the vegetable heart).

Australian Lobster, raw. Seasoned with chopped garlic and salt.

Cooked by steaming

White wine clams

I just have to say, white wine clams are my absolute favorite. Plus, my mom’s cooking with the incredibly fresh catch, it’s heaven on Earth. The juices that come out of it is soooo yummy (I don’t even have words to describe it!) It would make a great sauce base for anything.
[My mom cooks with only garlic and white wine, without any salt at all, and it comes out quite salty actually.]

Choi sum, blanched with oil. Served with sesame oil and soy sauce.

These were in season during December. They were so crunchy, sweet and .. just delectable. You will have to try it yourself to even come close to understand my love for these.

Snails, blanched

These snails are my dad’s absolute favorite. The consistency is kind of like octopus, but has a completely different flavor. We usually dip it in chilli-ed soy sauce. Yum.

Unfortunately, nothing in America will come close to a meal like this one cook by my mom. Heck, you can’t even buy fresh clams, let alone clams this good. For the love of food, I may just have to move back home after my studies here in the US…

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