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photography SHINI PARK hosted by CONRAD MALDIVES supported by CHANEL

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Swimsuit – ONIA. Sunglasses – Chanel.

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Power of nook and cranny

This is something I noticed only on my second jaunt to the Indian Ocean, but the Maldives isn’t your usual fly-and-flop destination. It’s an archipelago of paradise islands that is as close to blank canvas as you can get on a holiday. There is no silver screen reference starring a Hepburn sister, or stripy/nautical uniform a la French Riviera, and certainly no techno beats reverberating out of the clubhouse, courtesy of DJ Ibiza. There are no rules, or things ‘you must/mustn’t do’ (i.e Do not order a Mai Tai in Saint Tropez). In fact, you may have troubles packing for your first time. All that’s provided is nature in its incorrupt, innocent entirety, and wholehearted Maldivian hospitality. Add to that: Sun (unabridged), celestial skies, immaculate coral beaches and at times, warm rain. The Conrad Maldives understands this well, which is one of the many reasons for my return. The two private islands – joined by a footbridge overlooking the occasional manta ray – is full of nooks and crannies. This lends an illusion of being alone on an island, with a fully-equipped gym, water sports centre and a sunrise yoga session, or an excellent in-villa dining menu and a comprehensive DVD library, if you wish. It’s a DIY holiday – any agenda fits.

The dress code? Come as you are. White does swell, but any colour you find in the Maldivian sunset is a safe bet. No heels, unless it’s a ‘housewarming’ item, like your favourite candle from home.

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Don’t miss the fish (read: shark) feeding at Mandhoo
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Rangali Island, Rangali 20077, Maldives
+960 668-0629
hilton.com
Scarf – Nazanin Rose Matin. Sandals – Chanel. Swimsuit – ERES. Sunglasses – Chanel. Bracelet – X JEWELLERY

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sunglasses CHANEL bracelet X JEWELLERY towel CHANEL swimsuit ERES

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Boyfriend shirt – ASOS. Pouch – Loeffler Randall

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photography SHINI PARK assistance MR TRIPOD location CONRAD MALDIVES

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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’.

bracelet X JEWELLERY swimsuit ONIA. sunglasses DIOR

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Swimsuit – ASOS.

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Shirt & Bandeau – ASOS. Beach Pareo - Tallulah & Hope.

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straw hat H&M (SIMILAR) leather dress ASOS

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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…

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Conrad Maldives
Rangali Island, Rangali 20077, Maldives
+960 668-0629

Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinion my own, as per usual.

Swimsuit – Huit 8. Sandals – Birkenstocks. Glasses – Finlay & Co. Face Mist – Purearth. Straw Bag – H&M Home.

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Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter. Take it from me

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Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret. Bag – Louis Vuitton. Brogues – Hudson x Charlie May. Sunnies – Karen Walker. Watch – Larsson & Jennings. 

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Instagram @parkncube

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Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret

Clearly, seasons aren’t London’s strong suit – there have been hints of summer these few days, although awkward overcompensation at best. Last week the city transformed into an oversubscribed Bikram yoga class with hot, thick, armpit-consistency air with condensation streaming down the walls and windows (this is possibly what the River Thames made of). So far, I’ve managed to find shelter within some tightly shut double-glazed windows, a small fan circulating stale-but-cooler air; but my mind keeps wandering back to the Maldives - of rushing sea winds on a boat as it slices through aquamarine water, escorted by a school of shiny dolphins. What I wouldn’t give now to be able to grab some snorkel things and plunge into the water! Or hand-signal a dad-joke at a family of clown fish, blow bubbles into a giant clam, and chase a sea turtle around a forest of reefs! Frankly, I wouldn’t even mind thrashing away from a unimpressed-looking blacktip reef-shark* again, it surely is more interesting than sighting a pack of sweaty, shirtless yobs with open beer cans in the park across the street at the very least.

Oh well, I’m blowing bubbles through a straw into my morning iced-coffee, I suppose it’ll have to do for now.

Snorkeling at Conrad Maldives; Read review Part 1 | Part 2

*apparently as scared of you as you are of them. Hallelujah.

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Trousers - Zara. Bag – Gucci. Watch – Larsson & Jennings. Trainers – Isabel Marant.

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CoNrad maldives
Pt 1.
Rangali Island, maldives | www.hilton.com

I did receive a fair bit of warning before heading to the Maldives: that the islands will take my heart and drown it deep, deep down the Indian Ocean; that I will experience a kind of feeling not so dissimilar to love, or absolute bewilderment. Like the first time I tried Chipotle? I asked, and they all said EVEN BETTER. So I packed high hopes, along with six bikinis, because another someone said most of my time will be spent chasing Pixar characters under water. I assumed they meant Nemo but packed more racy numbers just in case they actually meant Mr Incredible.

Conrad Maldives is 30-minute seaplane flight from capital Malé down into the bluest bit of the globe – by atlas standards a practically invisible clutter of tiny islands located south of Sri Lanka, with a probability of accidental discovery from zero to drunk-and-randomly-clicking-around-Google-Earth-satellite-view. As the seaplane expertly skimmed down onto the glassy sea, I couldn’t help but feel like a bond girl, seeking refuge on a glamorous island with the aid of an international spy – nevermind the ill-digested plane food and a muffin top.

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I had never seen such unadulterated scenery, such literal exhibition of colours, and immediately took up on bumping up adjectives to superlatives: bluest sea/whitest sand/bestest trip EVER…and so on. Indeed just like my first time at Chipotle. And just as I ran out of words starting with ‘A’ to describe the view over a coconutty welcome drink, a smiley Maldivian in white beckoned towards our water villas. Modern and minimalist in style, constructed of de-saturated sea wood, and pulled together by the occasional splash of blue furnishing, mine was one of 71 water villas on the island. Although, the whereabouts of the other 61 was a mystery I never managed to solve.

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I felt right at home, if home was a house above crystal clear water and a glass globe horizon for a view. This feeling of privacy was something I’d never known I cherished in hotels/resorts, I suppose more so that I was to spend the next few days alone, wrestling with a tripod and remote for photos.

As the sea lapped at the beams of the villa and the outdoor Jacuzzi gurgled every so often to compete, I was already unbuttoning my heart to give to the sea at the Conrad Maldives. And I’d soon learn that no amount of snorkelling or diving I’d be able to retrieve it.

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Stick around for part 2, and once again a happy 10th birthday to Ithaa, Conrad Maldives’ undersea restaurant – more on this later.

Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinions are my own.

Swimsuit – Victoria’s Secret

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Welcome to a fresh new year! This year I’ve decided not to make any half-hearted resolutions because I have recently come to terms with the fact that my memory lasts about a week these days and I simply will not remember. If I were a memory stick I’d be one of the ancient 128MB ones that barely holds an MP3 nowadays (Is this why the Let it Go song is STILL stuck in my head) that my agent says would only be good enough to give to her seven-year-old sister. Yeah, that’s me. So here’s five things I look forward to this year – five things I am quite certain will happen regardless of whether I remember it or not.

1/ More webdesign
Does my ‘search’ button look big in these jeans?

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I haven’t talked much about work here in 2014, in fact, I don’t think I actually ever explained what I do outside this blog other than professionally eat burritos. My only explanation to this is that throughout the past year I genuinely had no idea what I was, professionally. (I am, however, sure that I am some kind of a ninja turtle with the rate I’m going with pizzas) I scratched my head, shoulder, knees, and balls every time someone asked what I do for a living and took much pleasure in their discomfort. I started 2014 as a full-time blogger, charging at life atop a (borrowed) French bulldog with a fistful of pastel-coloured macarons, then around mid-year my design workload got heavier, and had to take an unintentional, unofficial hiatus from said blog. Today I start the first working day of 2015 as a web-designer-cum-blogger-cum-photographer-slash-I DON’T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE, but happy to know for a fact that I will be making more ‘read more’ buttons this year than last, and actually looking forward to it all. In the meantime, here’s a small selection of my work from 2014:

Shine by Three · Peony Lim · Soraya Bakhtiar · LeiVanKash · Harper & Harley
2/ Faraway Worlds
Cabin Crew, doors on automatic, cross-check and report

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Speaking of unofficial hiatus, I had momentarily ‘come back’ July of last year with a monthly series called Faraway Worlds, which had been one of many short-lived spurts of resuming the blogger title. This means, in 2015 you will be subject to some heavy backlog of travel that happened in a galaxy far far away, but also a much better-thought-out edit of some of the places that I guarantee you will be adding to your Places to Visit list in 2015. Ahh, don’t you love how sometimes shortcomings lead to good things… I wish I can say this about my aversion to shower. Here’s to another adventurous year in travel, and in the meantime, check out these destinations I had the absolute pleasure of visiting (and writing about) in 2014:

Pittsburgh · Seoul · Paris · Thailand (part 1 | 2) · Florence · Turkey · Berlin · Oxford
3/ Kiss my ass, Eczema
A knuckle duster solution I am dying to share
Dress – ASOS. Necklace – EFFRA

This, my friends, is the smug face of someone who has successfully kicked eczema in the ass in the past year. High five! Chest bump! Celebration snog! no? (please?) If I can sum up 2014 in terms of skin, it’d be beat it, eseon account of how my skin went from a violently itchy, weeping, bleeding mess to miraculously healthy and smooth. The best part is, I think I have a good solution (tested and tried) that I can share with those that suffer something similar, and nothing vague and impossible along the lines of ‘eat only free-range, gluten-free grass’. I look forward to talking more about this, and hopefully helping some of you kick it too. This is another topic I refused to discuss in depth here in the blog, but here are a few occasions in the past year for those who would like to read up on the back-story.

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4/ London re-dial
London calling, voicemail, redial

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Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be living in a city as dynamic as London, and occasionally dare to fantasize what life would be like had I lived in the Alps, sleeping at 7pm and milking goats at sunrise. (Hubby just muttered yeah, that’s not how it works from the other room) I love London for the tradition, diversity of culture and all the little quirks, like its complete inability to deal with snow like an adult, but my all-time-favourite has always been the food scene. I didn’t manage to share as many of my favourites last year, so I’m keen to change this. 2015 is a promising year for food and I can’t wait to explore the next hot thing here. Secretly I hope to see more Korean fusion cuisine in the horizon but if that doesn’t work I suppose I can take a thing of Kimchi to every restaurant and be happy with that.

See all London posts from 2014
5/ DIY: Tricks of the trade
No more, ‘How do you edit your photos?’ ‘I edit with wingardium leviosa‘s, I promise

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I’ve been selfish with what I know when it comes to photography or webdesign in the past year lifetime, keeping trade secrets under lock and key of my own big mouth (it’s actually a minor miracle), but I’m slowly coming to realize that sharing, really, is caring. And I care for my readers because there are some amazing blogs out there and you still make time to visit mine. You’re good peeps. Also, just because you have instructions for the iron-man suit doen’t mean you’ll know how to work it. *CACKLE*. Did I just compare myself to Iron Man? I did indeed, but I happen to beat eczema last year and my skin now resembles a freshly-ironed silk blouse so I think I very well deserve that title. You can call me an asshole now.

Here’s to another year full of hopes and sugary-sweet dreams, mistakes to learn from, and tremendous success. I wish you a very Happy New Year.