There is a special place in my mind, a cove, a nook, what have you – located in the general thereabouts of naughty-thoughtsburg and childish-schemesville. A little room that’s lined with premium faux-fur (‘stroke the furry wall, Albus’), and a make-it-yourself-burrito/burger/sundae/pho buffet in each of the four corners. And Henry Cavil as butler, in Olympic swimtrunks with ‘FAB’ written across the buttocks. We are not talking about the Maldives just yet, this space that I describe, is my ‘Happy Place’.
Ever since November 2015 however, my Happy Place has had a refurbishment. Now it is the exact replica of Conrad Maldives: white beaches with glassy water frothing at the hem, azure horizon that meets a cotton candy sky canvas, and all the amenities in a water villa. This is where I go in my mind, when my dude is particularly bewitched at the notion of explaining the supply and demand chain in the heaviest economist-lingo he can muster. I mentally snorkel out to the reefs and lather a wave underwater to a family of clown-fish while grunting the occasional Mmn, and ooh really‘s as he proceeds to pull out a complex-looking spreadsheet. Happy Place, Happy Place…
Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinion my own, as per usual.
It’s difficult to write an account of an experience in the Maldives without an introductory flailing of the arms and a bit of gurgling, followed by something that’s spelt a little bit like this. It’s all very professional, really. In fact, the world should celebrate that I’m not on Youtube because it all looks and sounds like Tom Hanks in Cast Away with a bit of spirit fingers sprinkled in the mix. (I am on Snapchat however, making the same noises at brownies and puppies on Broadway Market: Sparkncube) Even re-living the Maldives through these photos puts me on a high.
As mentioned in Part 1, the main attraction at Conrad Maldives – once you’ve gotten over (warning: this may take forever) the milky-white beach, azure skies and the most translucent water since bottled Fiji – is the sense of privacy and isolation. I’d fully embraced this inside my Water villa (with thumping rap music on the first night), with a tinge of suspicion that perhaps it was to be expected given the nature of architecture, but was promptly proven otherwise as we moved into a Deluxe Beach villa two nights later. In theory, your neighbours are close by, but the minute the gates click shut, you feel like a homeowner. And it’s a big home – larger in fact, than most of my previous London flats, and I don’t recall ever having an outdoors bath-pavilion (unless you count the one where water leaked from the ceiling). So there, yet another reason to move to the Indian Ocean.
Speaking of reasons to move, add these too – ten restaurants where one is 5m (16 ft) under water, and another inside a wine cellar; an extensive list of DVDs and snacks that can be ordered through room service for rainy afternoons after lunch; and a spa that is set on stilts with glass floors so that you can drift off counting the stripes of a family of clownfish (“three”) while your back gets some much-needed TLC. So yes, I would jump ship and go Tom Hanks for/at Conrad Maldives any day, as long as Wilson can pour me some bubbly at pink sunset, I’d be happily cast away for ever.
Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinions are my own. Shots of me with the help of Mr Tripod.
Any time someone throws the age-old question of what my skin routine is on social media, my reply had always been ‘foundation and Photoshop*’. More and more so I’m starting to realise that it’s one of those stupid answers, like saying ‘I’m in shape, round is a shape’. One that warrants ‘yeah… not really funny, sis‘ from my bro. As a South Korean, the topic of Korean beauty is popularly thrown into interview questions, one that stumps me entirely – because as someone who grew up in Europe and regularly gets into punch-fights with eczema, beauty alone is still a topic that scares me. Wherever’s it’s from. I don’t have a regime, let alone one rule I can stick by. Every other day my skin wages a coup d’état.
The one thing I do know, and not to sound like my mum, or Christina Aguilera circa Dirrty years, is that beauty comes from within. No matter what you put on your skin, if you eat crap, your skin will be crap – if not now then later. I learnt this the hard way. Kids, eczema truly sucks balls. Korean Beauty apparently boils down to this somewhat corny ideology – healthy, transparent skin that no diamond cream can buy, only a very specific (borderline anal) lifestyle. Put aside all whitening and cosmetic surgery taboos, that’s what drives the industry forward, products that are based on eradicating irritants and championing botanical active ingredients. Make-up is almost an afterthought.
AMOREPACIFIC is one of those S.Korean beauty giants, and their unsung hero? Green tea. Now, I am a coffee-lover who thinks green tea tastes like warmed-up pond water. I am however also someone who eats dollar-store sweets and calls it dinner and therefore should really shut up and get with the program. The Timeless Ritual program – to be precise – which launched the new anti-ageing line TIMLESS RESPONSE in Jeju, a volcanic island just off the Southern coast of the Korean peninsula. One hour from Seoul, 14 hours from London. Timed exactly in the window when the first green tea leaves sprout, the purest and most potent harvest – traditionally worth its weight in gold and main active ingredient of the line.
The first day – detoxing by way of nature, yoga (first time for me, if you can believe) and one of the most invigorating facial massages I’ve ever experienced. The second and final day, restoring through education and experience (a bit of re-toxing on my part with stolen coffee). Turns out I’d been brewing green tea the wrong way my entire life – over-brewing to the point of it tasting like expired spinach water. Hot – but not boiling – water, and 1-2 minutes infusion makes liquid gold – I was sold. I might also consider not putting frozen fish finger-equivalent on my skin, afterall.
When it comes to the product itself, the Time Response Skin Renewal Creme is slightly sticky at first touch, but glides over your skin, leaving a comfortable layer of product that is instantly hydrating. I’d highly recommend it as a day-cream to those with eczema, especially those that suffer sensitive, bone-dry skin. Others may prefer to apply it as a night cream, although I find that if you spend some time patting it in, your skin feels lighter than ever. Unlike many perfumed products, this does not sting, and leaves an aftertaste of freshly picked green tea leaves.
* sadly I do have to resort to light retouching when the going gets rough and I still want to run this blog, a bit of transparency that I hope you’ll understand.
Park & Cube was a guest of AMOREPACIFIC 너무 즐거웠어요, 감사합니다 :)
‘Thank you for your message, I am currently Out of Office stuffing myself with homemade cake and watching endless Korean TV with my parents. For urgent issues, please take a number and divide it by ZERO.’ Trips to Warsaw are never classed as work in my book, even if for genuine business purposes. This is one place in the world I will always consider as childhood playground, home sweet home, and at times, exciting new horizons. So, even as I lug a buttload of work and deadlines from London, in my mind I am absolutely, completely Out of Office.
In time, handy little gadgets like this HP Stream with Intel Inside® tablet snuck their way into my occasional Warsaw stints, and every time I find myself venturing a little further from home to find a happy place to work from. Anywhere with coffee and wi-fi, initially, but we all know a bit of zing goes a long way (McZing sold out since the dawn of hipster cafes). Many a local was consulted – particularly The Styledigger, my resident yellow pages since her days in Krakow – to narrow down three great spots to work in town:
‘Bread and Wine’, a more-than-attractive sign-off of a trendy yet-slightly-rough-around-the-edges bistro at the Southern cusp of Warsaw centrum – one haven that I frequent whenever I’m back in town. Open from 7am, the premise is thick with the smell of fresh-baked leaven bread – plain or garnished with raisins – heroes of town. Keep an eye out for the pots of conserve, chocolate spread and lavender honey that accompanies the bread basket, for the jars are deep and the contents are finger-lickin’ good. A great place to catch up with emails, or wind down after a day – free wifi, of course. I do suggest keeping your tech gear minimal, because after a glass of wine you’ll suddenly be speaking Polish and making friends.
An important visit, if not mandatory – especially if a visit to Krakow is not yet on your itinerary. Highly educating and inspiring – a great place to work and find food for thought. Food for stomach too, in the cafe at the heart of the building.
Short for MSN, or Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej – not the chat application of adolescent heydays although eerily exciting in similar measure. Relatively new to the block and a rather balancing presence to Warsaw’s ‘golden’ mall a few doors down, the Modern Arts Museum houses a café-cum-foyer that sports a tasteful selection of design books and comfortable chairs/stools to work on. I’d only recently discovered it, but found myself returning more frequently than the usual spots. Free wi-fi, decent coffee, and lots of good distractions.
Speaking of gadgets, the HP Stream is a new kind of tablet with built-in Intel Inside® Processor, which means ‘fast’ for those who, like me, only speak colouring book. I picked it up because it was kind to 1) my wallet and 2) my bag – at a size just large enough to fit in one hand, and thus inside one of those mini-bags that make you suddenly proud of a questionable skill of editing your life down to a matter of a few essential belongings. Nevermind of course, the mess of an inbox – if it fits inside a Gucci Soho, it ships. Lastly because, 3) it runs on Windows 8.1 – which might come as a surprise to some given my profession as a graphic designer, but yes, I am a PC. And guess what, since we’re sharing secrets, I eat pizzas backwards. Now what.
In collaboration with HP & Intel. All views and opinion my own.