Saturday, 26 September 2015

Beijing Diary Part 2

Thursday 27th May:

So one of the reasons I decided to visit China was because my boyfriend was working abroad for the world athletic championships and it was one of the places I wanted to visit him while he was away (great excuse for a holiday eh?!) I spent Thursday day visiting the grounds of the Bird's Nest (where the olympics was held). The stadium is unreal! The architecture, the lighting around it (especially at night!) and the surrounding function areas are so cool- especially the water cube! Not going to lie, I hit a slump Thursday afternoon and I wasn't sure if this was due to jet lag hitting in, so I crossed any plans of list and decided to make full use of the hotel amenities that I hadn't used already! So as well as a delicious breakfast and daily refilled complimentary mini bar- Hotel Eclat also offers an amazing Afternoon Tea between 2-5pm full of quiches, Parisienne cakes and....a sweet cart! Yep, a whole sweet cart, that I (unashamedly!) helped myself generously too many times. The Hotel also offers Happy Hour between 6-8pm, so Thursday evening was spent with way too many glasses of Brut and a very full tummy!

Friday 28th May:

Tiananmen Square, Shopping and Food (yes more food!) Day! I really didn't plan to do shopping in Beijing. Cheekily, I booked a four day stopover in Dubai on the way home from China so was hoping to save a few pennies from my usual shopping antics that I engage in while on holidays- but clothes are SO cheap in Beijing and you really can haggle! I picked up an amazing baby blue suede jacket for €8 and a few tops in tiny shops that are littered across the city!

Note: If your curvy like me, prepare to ask for a way bigger size then normal. I'm considered really big compared to the the petite asian ladies- so all my labels are much bigger then what I would take back home!

Tiananmen Square was also visited. It's a large square that separates the Forbidden City off but is surrounded by vastly (and I don't use that word lightly!) communist government buildings. It's a typical tourist spot- but worthy of an 1 hour of your time.

Note: You need i.d with you to access this area- in fact your passport should be on you at all times! This might seem strange in Ireland or the UK, but it often common to have identification on you in many other parts of the world.

I also visited Wangfujing snack street- a maze full of yummy (and safe!!!) street food where you can find everything from fried scorpions, to sweet dumplings to asian bean drinks! Food and drinks are incredibly cheap in China. I way over-estimated the amount of money to bring over- and if you were on a very tight budget or let's say bag packing and city hopping over Asia- you could easily eat on a budget of around €20 a day from street snack stalls.

Saturday 29th May:

Today was Antique Market day at PANJIAYUUAN MARKET, which runs 7 days a week but from 4.30am-6pm on Saturdays. I got there just after lunch time (due to my love affair with the rainforest shower in my hotel room that I literally spent an hour under!!!) but that was plenty of time. I was advised that not everything is actually antique, so if your coming to buy some gems, you would really want to know what your looking for. I just knew I wanted some Foo Dog statues as I really wasn't fussed if they were antique or not. The Chinese have an ability to turn something brand new and make it look like it's about 100 years old and vice! Come prepared with a budget and a notepad and pen. No body speaks english, but every body talks numbers and they want to do business with you. I scanned the whole market first and made notes on items I liked (I didn't show my keenness too much!) and then returned back after. Be prepared to haggle and have fun! Don't give in too easily- if you look foreign they will charge you way more then the actual price. Put it this way, my Foo Dogs statues were triple the price the first time I asked...

There are subways and buses right next to the market, but to be honest, taxi's were so cheap in Beijing, that they were the only mode of transport that I used.

Saturday evening was really my last formal dinner so I decided to go all out and visit a Duck restaurant and order the whole shebang! Yep, one whole duck to myself! The affair is rather splendid...the chef comes out with the cooked duck and cuts it infront of you and and one of the hosts then demonstrates the various accompaniments with it; the sesame bun being paired with a bit of raw ginger mince, some duck and hoisin sauce and the pancake + duck paired with traditional spring onion and cucumber but also some melon. I literally had to be rolled into a taxi and then into my bed! Major food coma!

Sunday 30th May:

Last day in China. I had evening tickets for the final day of the championships so spent the morning and early afternoon at the 798 District (an art district) that was once occupied by the Germans during the World War and is full of converted armoury factories into art galleries. The 798 district is amazing and pretty much free! Some of the galleries charge a ridiculously cheap 1 yuan entry (14cent!) but most are free and you have the opportunity to see Asian classical and contemporary art work. Lunch was in one of the cool vibe eateries there too. There are also some (rave reviewed) coffee shops in the district, but I didn't come to China for coffee so wasn't really interested in that!


Sunday evening was spent in the Birds Nest at Row 4 (15ft from Mr Bolt himself receiving his relay medal!) and myself and Ev spent the rest of the evening in the Beer garden near his hotel feasting on as much asian food that would last me until I choose when next to return...

Monday morning was a very early start (3am) to catch the red eye flight to Dubai where I impulsively chose to extend my holiday and stay a few days. I got a few mails asking for recommendations on Dubai on what I thought of hope to do one of those posts soon!

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

Yas x

Friday, 18 September 2015

Beijing Diary Part 1

Sunday 23rd May:

I don't really like complaining about travelling when I'm so lucky that I get to go away, but there was two sets of flights to be taken before I would arrive in Beijing- around 18 hours of flight time, plus a stopover in Dubai Airport! So I really hoped my journey would be comfortable enough that it wouldn't off set my week in China. I flew with Emirates (make sure you sign up with the sky rewards programme and you can exchange your points for future upgrades or in my case free tickets to see Arsenal play!) and boy were they pleasant! My only gripe is that they make you walk threw business to the peasants section (lol! I joke I joke!). DXB is huge and there is a serious amount of Duty Free shopping to be done. My three inflight essentials are as follows; this Body Shop overnight vitamin e serum- I take off all my make-up as soon as I board for long flights and put on a layer of the oil all over. Ok, I may look a bit funny to my fellow passengers but the air in the aeroplane is so bad for your skin, I like to give it a good treat! My knitted socks- like these from ASOS (for the cold aircon...) and The Economist- my own bible! I don't really sleep on planes, but there was plenty of films and food (#fatlife) that kept me occupied...

Flight Essentials

Monday 24th May:

I arrived in Beijing at around 3pm,  but the baggage carousel and Visa control took about 2 hours!
NOTE: If travelling to China, you will need a visa which can be easily obtained for the Chinese Embassy. Forgery in Currency is also  rampant- make sure you exchange from a reputable source- and for Irish travellers, it was roughly 1euro- 7rmb/cny.

I had a car booked already (thank god!) with my hotel because I didn't want to have to deal with transport after flying for so long. I checked into the most amazing hotel- Hotel Eclat and if i'm honest, done very little for the evening. I had a stroll around the area I was staying in and had the yummiest noodle soup for dinner! I'm a big foodie (I eat anything!) and planned my China trip solely around food! Hotel Eclat is a pricey hotel, but you get what you pay for. I only chose the basic room- but it came with a complimentary mini bar (that they re-filled daily), an electronic massage chair, nespresso machine, Afternoon tea, Bose speakers and 3d TV, Happy Hour (with BRUT!!!!! :)) and the most amazing art collection. Apparently, the hotel and it's accompanying shopping mall is owned by a very wealthy art collector who believes that the public should see art for free! It was such a treat to have breakfast with some Salvador Dali artwork every morning!

NOTE: English ISN'T spoken widely but if you have everything you need to know written down in Chinese- you get by really easily- I screen-shotted all my addresses, phrases etc and made an effort to say hello and thank you in the local language. It really does go a long way...

Tuesday 25th May:

I booked a 2 hour treatment in Dragonfly , which is based in the Kerry Hotel building- and pretty sure I fell asleep drooling on the bed. I definitely recommend a massage after long flights just to get the circulation back flowing through your body. My massage worked out about €65 euro which for 2 hours is an absolute bargain. I lunched in what ended up being one of my favourite gems- Honolulu Cafe- Parkview Shopping Centre and gorged on Dim Sum, mixed greens and Iced Tea. That evening I had booked before leaving Ireland a private cooking class @ Beijinger Kitchen with the most amazing host- Carlyle. He runs a low-key cooking experience in a traditional hutong dwelling. We started the evening by visiting the local food market and picking the ingredients we would cook with. We headed to his kitchen and I was introduced to the chef who would teach me three dishes; minced beef dumplings, Kung Po chicken and sautéed Kale. The whole thing was so superbly organised and I had such a fun time. I was worried about it being only me with the chef and Carlyle- but they are so friendly and we had such a laugh (mostly at my lack of cooking skills and inappropriate nail extensions lol!) that I felt totally comfortable. The whole evening cost around €100, but that was because I was by myself. If you book with a partner or a group, it works out to be much cheaper! Carlyle's Food Experience is totally recommended- visit his site here.

Wednesday 26th May:

Ev (my bf) was actually working in Beijing for the World Athletic Championships, so on his time off we trekked a part of the Great Wall. No words or pictures could do the wall justice It was surreal. And the views were so incredibly beautiful! Anyone thinking of visiting the wall in China- do! It's totally worth it but most definitely a work out. Wear appropriate shoes- the steps are uneven, be prepared to sweat (I was beetroot red for most of it lol!) and take a really good camera with you. We booked a tour ticket- which covered transport to and from the wall and tickets. But there were plenty of other travellers who organised everything really depends on what you want and your budget!

We later lunched in the a food market and had garlic and chill oysters (cooked!) and an unnecessary amount of mixed noodles... #fatlife

Part two of my Beijing Diary coming up soon...

Friday, 11 September 2015

Autumn Wishlist

Is it just me or have the shops got the most amazing pieces in when you are the most broke?! Ugh! I'm so obsessed with the following pieces that I am seriously considering selling my body for really I am! I tried on the Zara checked caped coat during the week and spent a few hours debating how I could buy it there and then lol! I love capes and could totally justify adding to the collection...

Autumn Wishlist '15

Links for items:

Leather Brogues (Zara) || Checked caped coat (Zara) || High neck tunic by Love (Topshop) || Pom Pom bangle by River Island (ASOS) || Snake print shirt dress (River Island) || Black lace up boots (River Island) || Chambray layered shell shirt (River Island) || Suede embossed croc purse (ASOS) || Boiled wool culottes (Topshop) || Unicorn print iPhone 6 cover by Skinny-dip (Nasty Gal) || OPI nail polish (Beauty Bay)

Happy Shopping x

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Favourite Summer Looks

So this Summer I was very very lucky in that I got to travel to three different cities; Beijing, Dubai and Casablanca. And this meant that I got to wear a lot of clothes that I wouldn't be able to wear back home in Ireland (boo rain!)- here are my top 3 favourite outfits from my five-week long vacation. I re-used a lot of my pieces over the three cities as you could see in my Insta posts (follow me @ yasmina aniss) Links to exact items or similar have been posted- Happy Shopping!

*Note-for Irish & UK subbies- there is 20% of ASOS at the minute with a student code, and for Irish only subbies- there is 10% of Topshop for their newly launched Euro site with the code 'IETREAT10'

Holiday look 1

Badass T-shirt (ASOS) || Collarless waistcoat on sale (Zara)- Similar here  || AM90 Premium (Size) || Levi's shorts (ASOS) || Tassle wallet on sale (Zara)- Similar here

Holiday Look 2

Sleeveless Belted duster- sold out (Topshop)- Similar here and here || Striped midi- sold out (New Look)- Similar here || Alexander Wang Rocco (NET-A-PORTER) || Spiked sandals- sold out (Zara)- similar here || HRH Delicate choker set in gold (HRH COLLECTION) || Pom Pom keyring- mine was is black but I am definitely getting this berry one (River Island)

Holiday Look 3

Black culottes (Primark/Pennys)- similar here || Plunge neck cami (Topshop) || Lace up wedged sandals- sold out (Topshop)- Similar here and here || MK watch (ASOS)