3.2.16

One week in Singapore

singapore skyline from one altitude rooftop bar

Singapore is typically not your first choice when exploring Asia. You'll here people saying "I always wanted to see Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangkok..." but few crave to see the little island which is in fact, the main business hub in South East Asia. Yes, Singapore may appear to be somewhat small and extremely strict - did you know that chewing gum is prohibited? that drug traffic is punished with canning or even death? - but is also a very modern, cool and safe city to explore, when you are short on time and would like to blend city with paradise, like us.

Singapore is also home of Tigerair, a low cost flight company that features interesting destinations such as Boracay, the kitesurfing mecca we visited this year (to be covered in another feature) on a budget. This means that it can be quite cost effective to fly long haul from Europe, spend some days in Singapore and then take the next leg of the trip onto the Pacific. At least, this is what we did.

Singapore is a blend of modern and new, where you can go from skyscrapers to Chinese, Indian, Muslim temples, from hawkers to Michelin rated cuisine, all in one tiny island, with virtually no crime and pleasant weather year round. Sounds like a plan? Keep on reading to get a feeling of the things that you can cover in about a week.
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1.2.16

Build your own brand

girl in black tom ford glasses

Recientemente, la gente me para y me dice lo mucho que le gustan mis nuevas gafas (a la dcha).

Desde llamar la atención de blogueras que te cruzas en el supermercado, recibir piropos del dependiente o camarero de turno, hasta llevar a suecas desconocidas pedirte el modelo, porque llevan años tras algo así. El caso es que me han hecho reflexionar en el poder que tiene un accesorio contundente, que se sale un poco fuera de lo común pero a la vez, encaja con tu morfología, tu actitud y tu personalidad.
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30.1.16

Back on track

industrial bulbs
It's been extremely intermittent posting, but I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Not quite sure whether I managed to retain any of the few regular readers I ever had, after such an absence. Just in case, I think I owe you an explanation. 

Q4 2015 was a nightmare in many dimensions. 

I spent 90 days home alone - as Enrique had to travel to South Africa for work. You can imagine how it is, to go from living with someone for the last 8 years and suddenly having him vanished from your life. On top of that, I had an abnormally busy quarter with several trips to Asia and around Spain, long working hours (typical of the year end) and the extra load of missing his support at home. I was forced to leave Byakko with my parents, as my work trips come along an extremely short notice - sometimes it's confirmed on Monday that I'll be flying out on Saturday - so I cannot risk leaving him alone for a week, as a bengal, he would get depressed.

Those of you who follow me on instagram may know that right after Enrique landed back, we went on a 3 week holiday - which was the first long holiday of 2015, by the way. Then came one weekend in Granada and another in Madrid. So here I am, trying to go back to my routines while handling the anxiety associated with the countdown to "VISA ready" aka day when he'll be shipped back to South Africa, for up to another 90 days. Anyway...

Last fall felt, at some point, like trying to juggle more balls than what I can handle. So I dropped this one. Not really proud about it, ticking at the back of my mind ever since. Leaving trace of my trips, hoping to help others as well as writing down my many neurosis (you can laugh but it's the truth) is important for me. It provides a sense of creative achievement, sanity and nostalgia - when I sometimes sneak back in my own past in this little virtual memoir.
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8.12.15

Regala experiencias.

Tokyo hanami

Un otoño bastante poco productivo, en lo que a escribir aquí respecta, esconde tres meses de soledad. En los que batallar sola con la casa, hacer malabares para llegar al trabajo, a las clases de baile y a tener la maleta lista para el siguiente viaje se lleva por delante todo tu tiempo. Aún así, merece la pena vivir la vida pese a que conlleve alejarse de la realidad virtual.

Este finde he tenido visita familiar. Mi primo, - gran triunfador de la Maratón, su mujer y sus dos niñas, una familia encantadora, agradable y apañada, con la que he descubierto un nuevo giro de la ciudad. Pasar tiempo con ellos, rodeados del gentío, me ha dado mucho que pensar. Estos días, el centro de Málaga es una locura. La gente se agobia eligiendo regalos, modelitos y decoraciones. A veces, llegan al extremo de terminar discutiendo (o pegándose, como me tocó presenciar ayer) en medio de la calle.

Mientras tanto, en mi casa, la sobremesa de una simple cena de ensalada y tortilla francesa, terminaba con una niña boquiabierta, escuchando historias pasadas en países lejanos que en su momento, tuve la suerte de visitar. No recuerdo qué bikini llevaba, ni de si a alguien mis gafas de sol le parecieron "lo más" pero tengo muy fija la imagen de aquel atún, grande y plateado, nadando a dos metros de mi nariz sin inmutarse. Tampoco tengo ninguna foto que postear en instagram, simplemente porque la cámara se nos rompió haciendo snorkel el primer día. Y sabes qué? Dio exactamente IGUAL.

Malgastamos demasiado tiempo, energía y dinero en cosas que no nos hacen felices. Haciendo fotos en lugar de vivir el momento. Comprando cosas por aburrimiento. Pasados unos años, no lo podemos recordar. Tenía un iPhone 5, qué bolso llevaba? Y qué más da. Al final lo que único que siempre te acompaña, son las experiencias. Los idiomas que aprendes, los lugares que visitas, las callejuelas por las que te pierdes, el señor de aquel restaurante oculto que te sorprendió con su amabilidad o los dibujos de tus primas, que te sacan una lagrimica en soledad, igual que la nostalgia que te dan los mensajes en el libro de guest and friends donde han firmado todos los que en algún momento, se han quedado en casa.

Por eso hoy, que muchos estáis dándole vueltas a qué regalar... Os dejo las últimas fotos que hicimos en Tokyo, antes de mudarnos de vuelta a Europa. Para que os sirva de inspiración y quizás, en lugar de algo caro e innecesario, os regaléis una experiencia que recordar para siempre, con alguien que os importa de verdad. Todos hemos comprado alguna vez esa prenda, gadget o perfume que era totalmente prescindible pero hasta la fecha, nunca me he arrepentido de embarcar en un viaje - cerca o lejos, con amigos, pareja o con mamá... Siempre merece la pena.

Anímate a juntar un par de regalos y explorar un nuevo lugar.

Y como inspiración... Os dejo unas fotos del lado autóctono del Hanami (los cerezos en flor) en Tokyo. Como podéis ver, se trata de una época muy familiar donde la gente pasa el día sobre una manta de plástico, aprovechando los primeros rayos de sol con sus amigos y familiares.

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9.11.15

Johannesburg : Ukutula Lion Research Centre



My fascination with felines originates from earlier than I recall. I was 10 when we adopted a 3 month old Mochin from the cat rescue in my hometown. We grew up together. Observing each other from a distance, cuddling in the chilly nights and learning how to walk gracefully (in paws or heels). Thing is, my love for cats kept growing and growing. Then I moved out, spent 8 years abroad. Mochin passed away in 2008 and well, I eventually returned to Spain, under the promise of having a cat back to my life - so Byakko joined our home.

Some people criticized us for chosing a purebreed cat over a rescue one, still I was very mesmerized by the idea of sharing home with a new level of wildness. Bengals are (at least) four generations away from an Asian Leopard Cat - a small wildcat native of South East Asia - but they  still showcase very special personality traits. Bengal is not a breed for beginners. Byakko is very demanding of attention, always willing to play, much stronger and more active than the average house cat. Still he is also very loving and caring, always licking your hand and rolling on the floor when you arrive home from work, until he gets you to scratch his tummy.

Some years ago, I watched this National Geographic documentary called animals in the womb where embryo development between different species was compared, using advanced 4D ultrasound and recreation. We are used to the human pregnancy imaging, but this was the first time to use it with felines. Ironically, the cat and the lion embryos are extremely similar until the last months, when the unique features are developed. However, even after being born their behaviour is apparently much more alike than we think - Enrique told me that lion cubs played in the same way as Byakko and that they also loved to have someone scratching their chin.

Ukutula Lion Research Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa is a great place for lion, leopard and other African animal encounters - plus some other non-African felines, such as tigers. South Africa may not be the safest place on Earth, but the park is worth visiting if you are a feline nerd like myself (^_^) The conservation work is also very critical, since a majority of the pantherinae (i.e. big felines like tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard) species are endangered - maybe because of the beauty of their skin, their powerful features and the apparent pleasure that some f***ing a****le find on hunting them. In addition to lions, they feature other felines and animals that find a home in this place of quiet.

UPDATE
Soon after I wrote this post, people started to comment both at in our facebook and instagram accounts, warning me about suspicions of Ukutula being involved in canned hunts. Ukutula is accused by many, including their own volunteers to sell grown-up lions (once they are no longer cuddlable cubs) to people who are willing to pay up to $50000 to bring some trophy back home. I was then referred to a documentary called Blood Lions, shot by National Geographic earlier this year.

Together with the incidents in Paris. I am losing hope in human race. We are the only species with guts to kill peers, either for fun or for terror. 

The human fascination with lions comes from our early days on Earth. Lions were first captured by human art in the Paleolithic (32000 years ago) in some ivory carving. They were then taken by all ancient cultures (Egypt, Mesopothamia, Persia, Greece, Roma) to provide a sense of majesty and awe, at the entrance of buildings, decorating coins or becoming the symbol for cities, tribes and gods.

Lions even made it to China, despite NOT being native of the far eastern territories. It all started in India, where a native Asiatic Lion species - now endangered - was adopted as symbol of the reincarnation of Vishnu into a man-lion, so the lion became worshipped by Hinduism. Cultural depictions and the reverence of lion as the noble yet powerful beast in Asia was influenced by Indian culture, through Buddhism. Ever wondered where all these funny lion statues around Asia were coming from? There you go, cannot get any better outof an artist who never saw a real one




Lion cub


Caracal





Baby Leopard - behaving much as Byakko does




Baby Tiger, food & mum



Lion King



Such a lovely day.

Ukutula [WEB]
Open: 10 - 14 (Monday - Sunday)
Fee: 33€ (lion encounter, without walking with lions)

*If you are not staying there, it takes about 1.5h by car from Johannesburg (Sandton area)

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6.10.15

Faro : Se7e Pedras

Se7e Pedras restaurant in Faro

Se7e Pedras is one of the many cute little restaurants in Faro.
Big bang for the buck. One of the main reasons why I say it is highly recommended to stay in Faro.

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4.10.15

The Pinkprint



I have been compulsively listening to Nicki Minaj since June, simply because we were dancing Shanghai in DFLOW - so I took the chance, to download the whole album on iTunes. I am now a big fan of her Minajesty.

While you may associate her with Anaconda, pink wigs and a big butt, she is a lot more - both as a musician and as a human. Pinkprint is packed of relatable humble inspiring beautiful songs. It was written while she breaking up with her long time boyfriend Safaree Samuels. Nicki used the album as an opportunity to deal with and leave the pain behind "I didn’t want to make an album that was just being fake-happy: I wanted to deal with it, and leave it, and move on, and be real-happy." as she also put it at some point "brokenness leads to beautiful art sometimes and it's OK as long as it inspires people".

Thanks Nicki for being open about it. I am one of the many inspired by your art. Lyrics like Grand Piano or The Crying Game are so real and supportive. Highly recommended to any of you is going through some tough time in life.

Life is too short, don't waste it crying over spilled milk. Start with the man in the mirror, asking him to change his ways. Deal with it, man. Solve it or accept it. Move on. To a new phase in the relationship or a new phase in life (alone).


Beautiful promo-video of The Pinkprint
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3.10.15

Portugal : El Algarve

El Algarve
Se acerca el Puente del Pilar, seguro que hay quien anda buscando destino a última hora, así que os propongo el Algarve.

El Algarve es la region sur de Portugal y recibe su nombre de los Árabes「غرب الأندلس」que lo denominaron "el occidente de Al-Andalus". Se ha convertido en una zona muy popular, por ofrecer una mezcla bastante atractiva de playas, acantilados, buena gastronomía e historia, en los muchos pueblecitos que ocupan la costa. Pese a que siento bastante aversión por los típicos destinos turísticos, acepté pasar unos días de descanso allí - aprovechando el puente de la Virgen de Agosto - que irónicamente se han convertido, junto a la semana en Tokyo, en mis únicas vacaciones en lo que va de año.

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22.9.15

Curaçao : Top 3 beaches

Curaçao top 3 beaches

Despite picking warm locations as main vacation destination, we are not really beach lizards - neither can stand lying during hours doing absolutely nothing. We chose tropical locations because they open up for tropical hiking, amazing jungles, temples, water sports or diving. Of course sometimes we take a nap under the sun, but by no means is that the center of our vacation. Having said so, we explored the beaches of Curaçao trying to find the hidden gems.

The south of the island was rather disappointing. It didn't really feel like Paradise and it didn't feel like vacation spot either. Some beaches had huge scary boats anchored like 100m away from the shore. So you didn't feel like swimming or even staying.

Curaçao top 3 beaches
Right...?

But the North West of Curaçao, boy that's another story... So here's a quick summary of our top 3 beaches.
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10.9.15

Tokyo : Junie Moon

Blythe doll

Junie Moon es la flagship store de las muñecas Blythe en Tokyo. Situada a más o menos un minuto de nuestra antigua casa en Daikanyama, es un sitio al que me llena de nostalgia volver, ya que el regalo de mi primer cumpleaños en Japón fue precisamente eso, una muñeca Blythe - con gafas de pasta negras incluidas.

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8.9.15

Curaçao : Le Gouverneur de Rouville

Restaurant & cafe Gouverneur de Rouville, Curaçao

Long ago I assumed it. We are not the kind of couple that does date nights twice a week or gets trunks filled with roses. But it's been 10 years together, different countries and things we've gone through, so I guess the strategy of keeping it simple must be quite a thing to consider - at least for people like us. Nevertheless, sometimes you just bump into these kind of places that do feel like a "date night spot" so you dress up and get the butterflies flying.

We basically discovered Gouverneur de Rouville restaurant in Curaçao because it is located right in front of Museum Kura Hulanda. We got captivated by the entrance to the garden, that felt like time travel back to Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Spot on. Abraham de Rouville was born in 1812 in the Netherlands and came to Curaçao in 1856 where he was working in the city hall - despite being educated as a doctor. 5 years later he took over as governor. The place where this magic restaurant happens is nothing but his former home.

The bar upstairs has that leathery gentlemen's club atmosphere, with cracked leather chester sofas and cigar aroma. The garden where we had dinner is the spot for romance. Reservations highly advised!

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26.8.15

Curaçao : Willemstad

Willemstad walk

Willemstad is the capital of Curaçao. Equipped with a rich history, dating back to the 16th century, Willemstad has so many historic buildings that the old town is recognized as Unesco World heritage site. Split in two by the Queen Emma Bridge - that swings open and close to let big ships cross the channel - the former capital of the Netherlands Antilles is a city split in two, Otrobanda - with Rif Fort - and Punda - with a million colorful houses. You can explore Willemstad in one day, but make sure to start by Museum Kura Hulanda, which is one of the best museums I ever visited in my life - deserves its own post, actually.

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