Summer Essentials 2017

Summer Essentials 2017

I’ve collected a few items throughout this month that I’ve quickly grown to consider my essentials for the upcoming summer season. Enjoy!

Bold Gold Accessories

The obsession really started in Singapore when I stumbled upon great pieces in random stores but it crossed over to America once I discovered incredible brands such as Young Frankk, which are quite well known in the fashion blogging world. The iconic hand earrings are my go-to when I need a little fun in my dull outfits.

Madewell also has great jewelry that I’ve always loved. They are long-lasting and they certainly are not simple pieces which is why I love them so much. I must be on a strange kick on jewelry because all of them seem to have body parts to them. This eye ring and eye bangle are my newest additions to my favorites.

The other bangle on the right is from & Other Stories from Soho and it was a quick piece I picked up that caught my eye because I wanted to add to my outfit that day before heading to my internship.

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Madewell Looker Hinge Bracelet ($32) and Ring ($18)

Glossier

This has been my ride-or-die skincare brand for awhile now. I’ve used it for a little over a year and I’m still not finished with exploring all the incredible products that they offer. A few of my favorites happen to be their face masks, their lip colors, and their cleanser. This brand is made for those who want an effortless and easy look. Not to mention their marketing is absolutely incredible. I visit their retail store every so often in soho since it’s within walking distance now and I can’t get enough of it. They also recently released a new chemical sunscreen which is great timing!

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Mask Duo ($40)
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Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18)
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Generation G Matte Lipstick ($18)

Jumpsuits

These are complete outfits that you can throw on in the morning so what’s not to love? I’ve been wearing one from Anthropologie for awhile now but it’s no longer on the website since I purchased it last year. I also got a new one that makes me look like a housepainter but that is also not listed on the website. But here are a couple that I absolutely love (hopefully can get my hands on!) and recommend!

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Club Monaco Akinya Jumpsuit ($249)
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Anthro Hamptons Jumpsuit ($298)
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Anthro Lemon Grove Strapless Jumpsuit ($148)

Wide-Leg Pants

I’m usually not a fan of these because they could make me look shorter than I really am but I came across this pair in Cos and I couldn’t help but get it in two different colors. I’ve also purchased this pair at & Other Stores that was cropped just perfectly so it didn’t look like I was swimming in it. They make any outfit look extremely professional and it can be paired with heeled boots and a nice crop top. They can be found in just about any store now.

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Wide Fit Trousers from & Other Stories ($85)
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Wide Waist Pleated Trousers ($115)

Madness in Myanmar

Madness in Myanmar

This is such a delayed post. Mainly due to the fact that after my last SE Asia trip, I had finals to worry about so I was studying away (also brunching away with friends!) And right after finals, my parents came to visit me for a few days in Singapore before they painstakingly helped me clean out my dorm room at NTU. I’ve been home for a little over a week now and it’s just been a constant shuffle between New York City, Philadelphia, and my hometown. I’ve been consumed with catching up with friends and adjusting to the new marketing internship at Yumi Kim. Nonetheless, I thought it was about time I posted about my last trip before I forget.

Here are the places that I stayed at: 

Little Yangon 

This was a cute little hostel that was located right in the center of Yangon. It was in a narrow alleyway that was filled with small businesses such as bakeries, convenience stores, and restaurants. The rooms were quite nice and the staff was extremely helpful. Breakfast every morning consisted of eggs, coffee, toast, bananas, and more! When we went, it was the beginning of the new year so it was filled with people our age who were constantly looking for the next event to go to. It was an easy way to figure out what we could do that day. That’s how we found out about the music festival that we ended up going to!

Ostello Bello Nyaung Shwe 

By far the best hostel I’ve ever been in. It was insanely nice with the decor and it was clean as well. We had a bathroom within our room that was shared among four people. They had books and binders full of places nearby such as spas, ATMs, and wineries. They had events every night and a rooftop bar as well (hello Happy Hour!). This was located near Lake Inle so it was quiet and there wasn’t much a night life which I didn’t mind because the hostel made sure to keep the night going with games and what not. I met lots of people there from all over and it was incredibly fun. I wish I had stayed there longer.

Shwe Nadi Guest House (Bagan) 

This was a bit different from the other hostels I stayed at. It was a guest house after all so it was placed right near an extremely busy road. The bathrooms were outside which weren’t so great when it was freezing and raining but definitely manageable. They had e-bikes that they allowed us to rent for only 10 kyats a day! That was the best part of it.

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Here is what I did:

Thingyang Music Festival in Yangon

This was a pretty nice experience. I’ve been to handfuls of music festivals before but have never gone to an EDM one. We heard about this through people from our first hostel and decided to go since everything else in the city was closed due to the new year. It was fun but I wish there were more people that could have came! Water was sprayed everywhere of course so that was something I’ve REALLY never experienced before. The food was decent but later on it rained so we didn’t end up staying for the evening show at the major stage.

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Temples, Temples, and Temples (With a hint of Payas) 

Myanmar is definitely known for having a large amount of temples and payas. In Bangan, that’s all I really did. I e-biked around the place for the two days I was there and managed to see more places than I ever imagined. I recommend doing some research on those places before going so you have a bit of background knowledge of what you’re looking at. It was certainly overwhelming going inside of them and seeing the secret passages that would be held inside. Some led up to the room which overlooked Bagan. My favorite of course was the famous Shwedagon Paya (Pyramid of Gold). It was enormous and a day would not have been enough to explore it all.

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Made Friends

I met a couple of nice boys while I was touring one of the temples. They were eager to follow us and show us around the temple while their mom was nearby selling Myanmar gifts to tourists. Their english was incredible and they were so eager to learn about America. They asked about iPhones, Justin Bieber, pizza, and more. I took a polaroid of them both and later on gave each of them a copy so they could remember it. I forget the ages of them (they were around 7-10 years old) but I knew that one of them wanted to be a tour guide in the future. They were so adorable and I’m glad I got to learn about them as well.

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Saw Kayan People in Lake Inle 

These women came from Thailand, if I’m not wrong, but have migrated over to Myanmar due to the rise in tourism. They originated from Myanmar but moved to Thailand fled on. These groups of individuals wear brass coils around their necks and some have them around their knees as well. They start as early as five years old and keep increasing the amount of coils around their necks as they age. The reasoning for this mainly is due to cultural identity. Them wearing brass coils around their necks is equivalent to American teenage girls wearing chokers. It’s strange that I got to see them on my tour because my grandma back home always mentioned them and always showed me documentaries about them. She was so intrigued by their lifestyle and then I was given the opportunity to see them and meet them. The younger one spoke incredible English and was able to answer questions that we had regarding her life.

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Street Food, Floating Markets, and a War Museum in Vietnam

Street Food, Floating Markets, and a War Museum in Vietnam

This might have been my most impulsive trip yet. My friend Emily asked me to go to Vietnam for the weekend since she was pretty much done her classes and was itching to go somewhere new. At first I was hesitant but I’m easy to convince so within 15 seconds, I was sold and before I knew it, I had purchased flights and my visa for Vietnam.

What exactly did I want to see in Vietnam? Trust be told, I had never considered going there before. It wasn’t something that intrigued me but since I’m in the area, I thought why not?

Our agenda was to see Ho Chi Minh and that’s all that was planned to be honest. We didn’t have expectations nor did we know much about the country. I had reached out to some people who had gone to take a look at their itineraries but other than that, we went with an open mind.

On April 7th, we left Singapore for the airport for our flight in the afternoon.

The hostel we stayed at was called Town House 50 which was hidden in a narrow alleyway and it was in the middle of all the shops and restaurants which was definitely convenient.

It was one of the cutest places I’ve ever stayed at! It had some serious bohemian vibes to it which was something I had not seen in past hostels. I would recommend it and the staff was extremely helpful when we had questions about tours and what was nearby.

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The free breakfast was also quite nice since it consisted of a variety of fruits and included coffee, tea, etc.

We were keen on seeing other parts of Vietnam as well so we booked a two day tour in Can Tho which is where the Mekong River is located. This tour included a boat tour to show us the well-known floating market among other things.18056742_1845518475771175_1575865106943457136_n

We stayed at the hotel that was included in the price of the tour and it was called the Hauguang 2 Star Hotel. It was much better than I had expected and it was close to to a number of things as well such as an array of street food carts.

The floating market was interesting because you could actually see the locals buying/trading their fruits and what not. A few of the people in my tour group and I even bought some fresh pineapples from one of the businesses!

The tour also included a look at a family who creates rice noodles.

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Back in Ho Chi Minh, we decided to see a number of the tourist attractions such as the war museum, the post office, the basilica, and independence palace. Luckily for us, all of it was within the same area as our hostel so it was easy to walk around to find these places.

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I highly recommend seeing the war museum because it has a large collection of photographs that are absolutely stunning and it will open up your eyes to what exactly they had gone through during that time. Agent Orange was the exhibit that shocked me the most and was the one that left the biggest impact on me.

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Another thing I’d recommend is the Ben Thanh Street Food area. It’s right next to the street markets and it’s filled with tourists from all over.The walls are covered in colorful graffiti and it’s insane what kinds of food you’ll be able to find. You’ll be able to find local vietnamese foods as well as desserts such as crepes. I opted for dessert from this stall that served mango everything and it was definitely worth it.

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Personally, I don’t think the actual street market is worth it since it’s filled with cheap knock-offs of Nike shorts, Burberry scarves, and other name brand items but if you have time to kill, it doesn’t hurt to go there. Most of the businesses have the same repetitive items so make sure you attempt to bargain if you do end up wanting to buy something.

Other place I went to that are worth checking out:

  • Legend in Ho Chi Minh (Filled with lots of expats and can be found all over the city since it’s a chain)
  • Milkbar in Ho Chi Minh (Get the blueberry latte because it’s adorable and has ice cream in it but it doesn’t really have anything in it that would make it a latte)
  • The New Playground in Ho Chi Minh (Really cool underground shopping area in Ho Chi Minh where you can get some cool graphic tees or bohemian shirt dresses)
  • Urban Station Coffee in Ho Chi Minh (Interesting interior design and tasty drinks!)
  • In general, eat lots of Pho!

Raffles Grill and Singapore Art Museum

Raffles Grill and Singapore Art Museum

My friend Stef and I spent a day acting like princesses at the Raffles Hotel this past week. We planned to go to the Raffles Grill located inside this hotel to try out their lunch menu since they had set courses to choose from. The prices were reasonable and we’ve heard such great things about the place so on a rainy Friday afternoon, we set out with high expectations to the hotel.

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The interior is gorgeous. The bright lights and the white structured walls and pillars and the marble floors just pulled the whole place together. I was gushing over the design of it all even before I stepped foot into the hotel. I think I even let out a gasp and muttered a short ‘shut the fuck up!’ when I was fully inside of the building. You could tell Stef and I did not belong in a place like this.

Nonetheless, we had reservations for the restaurant so we turned right and we were presented by a nice, quiet room and we were taken to our table.

We decided to both do the 3 course $58 meal plan. And boy, was it a great choice.

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The appetiser I chose was the seared scallops with white asparagus and chutney. The main course was a delicate US Prime Omaha Beef Tenderloin with a side of mashed potatoes and broccoli. Lastly, the dessert option I opted for was the Chesnut Chiboust with tuile and cherry sorbet. All of it was great. Would highly recommend 10/10. I initially thought that the portions were too small for what we were paying but it was worth it and completley filling.

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Next place we went to was the Singapore Art Museum because it was close by and they had a few interesting things going on there. It is free admission as well.

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The Hidden Dimensions II by Sarah Choo Jing
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Untitled from the series ‘Singapore’ by Nguan

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It’s three floors but when we went they only had a few rooms opened to the public. Most of what we encountered was interactive art which made it fun and different from other museums I’ve seen. I am also pretty sure that each of the works we saw were inspired by the condition that Singpore is in with all its developmental construction going on and the lonliness that comes with being in a fast-paced large city. Much of the art referenced to the pool of ethnicities that can be found in Singapore. They even had works from student teachers that were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

A few of my favorite pieces include the video on loop called The Hidden Dimension II by Sarah Choo Jing which takes a closer look at a family inside of a home and how they’re all disregarding each other. Another one I particularly liked was the Strange Fruit photo collection by Lee Wen which followed a man around Singapore who was painted yellow and was always carrying a cluster of red lanterns which would shield his body from being seen in the photos. That one takes a hit at the stereotypes that accompany Chinese people and how they are viewed by others.

I highly suggest going to both of these places because it was money and time well spent.

PS Cafe and Project Acai in Singapore

Quiet and rainy Sundays in Singapore certainly call for good food with some good company. My friends and I headed to Dempsey Hill to grab some grub and to explore the unfamiliar area a bit more.

I remembered seeing PS Cafe as a place that was listed online whenever I looked up brunch spots in Singapore and I’m glad I remembered it because it was such an incredible place.

This restaurant was lined with glass windows that opened up some light in the room which made it seem more spacious than it really was. The place was filled with young first dates, families, and friends who were catching up on this nice afternoon. My friends and I were convinced that we had made the right choice coming here.  It’s a bit hard to find it at first since it’s surrounded by trees and it’s not on the main path but it is such a sight to see when you first walk in.

We got there just as they were about to close the brunch menu so we scanned the menus quickly and got our food within a few minutes. I ordered the crab tart with a glass of Rose & Berries Sangria. I definitely recommend those two because the drink felt like it was never ending and they had little flowers in them and the crab tart was wonderful. I’m a seafood gal so I knew it wouldn’t disappoint. My friends got the Green Goddess Pesto Penne and the PS Gado Gado Salad. Later on, we gave in and got the truffle fries because every single table around us had one. We barely finished it but it was pretty good and definitely worth the hype.

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Overall, I definitely enjoyed the food and the ambiance of the place. I will be sure to return here before I leave for America!

After this, we encountered a nice little market that resembled Dean and Deluca in Dempsey Hill that even had a cheese room. Now that is impressive. They had posters everywhere regarding cheesy cheese jokes (ha ha) and how this was the first place to have a cheese room. It was called Jones the Grocer and I could have easily spent an entire day there going through their little snacks and what not but I was pulled away to meet up with other friends in Holland Village.

Project Acai was also a place I wanted to seek out before I left for Singapore and I finally got a chance to try it!

I got the original acai bowl in their handy size since I was feeling full from PS Cafe. The presentation was pretty adorable and it tasted just as good as I thought it would! My other friends got the original one as well and some branched out to try the one that included nuts in it. They also have smoothies too so I think I will venture to them next time I’m in the area.

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Pug Cafes, Bamboo Forests, and Hot Springs in Kyoto and Hakone

Since we had that train pass for the bullet train during out entire stay in Japan, we decided to take advantage of it and use it for a couple trips outside of Tokyo.

The first place we went to was Kyoto and we stayed there for a total of about two days because the train ride there shaved a couple hours off a day for us. The winsome hostel we stayed at was actually a traditional wooden Japanese home that was about 100 years old and it was in great shape. It was called the Hostel Haruya Kyoto. It was the perfect location since it was quite close to the train station and it was in the middle of a narrow alleyway that consisted of many food shops. The front desk people were some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered. They were sure to give us a grand tour of the place and they were helpful in every way. They often sat down with us to ask us about our plans and would even help map out everything to ensure that we had time to see all the things we wanted to. The bathrooms were outside which was hard since it was painfully cold outside in the mornings but we powered through. It was in a quiet area too which was good because I was always exhausted after our days in Kyoto.  Here is some more information on the hostel in case anyone was interested. image1image2image3

I was determined to see the unique pug cafe in Kyoto and thankfully I was able to reserve it for an hour or so at the Dog Salon Living Room Cafe. Although I’m someone who is allergic to all kinds of dogs, I wanted to live life on the edge and see those cuties anyways (I did later break out on my arm and ended up sneezing for the rest of the day but it was worth it) because I wasn’t too keen on seeing owl cafes or cat cafes. I heard great reviews about it from friends and from online blogs so I wanted to see it for myself. It was quite adorable and there were 11 of them in total. The owners of the pugs were really sweet and offered us some sweets along with tea. In addition to this, we were given a family tree that showed us the ages and genders of these dogs. We even got a pug calendar for free at the end of our visit! Be sure to make reservations for it if you’re interested.

The red towered shrine was an attraction that I had heard so much about so we went to find it during our first day in Kyoto. It’s also known as the Fushimi Inari Shrine and it was incredible. It was in enthralling to walk through the paths but it was a bit hard capture it all at once because numerous tourists surrounded us with their phones and cameras. I wished I could have decoded all the characters on the poles since they all had something written on them. The bold red color of the entire shrine was stunning and it was my favorite part of Kyoto.

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Another precious attraction that we could not miss was the golden pavilion that is known as Kinkaku-Ji. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and the reflection of it in the pond water was stunning. There was an obnoxious amount of tourists everywhere but it certainly didn’t take away from the beauty of it all. It’s opened everyday from 9am to 5pm and there is a small admission fee of 400 yen.

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Other things we did in Kyoto consisted of the Nishiki Market that had an endless array of foods and Gion which is known to have wandering geishas if you’re lucky enough to catch them late at night. The market has everything you need from souvenirs to local street food to local sake. It’s worth it to get lost there for an hour or so because you may eventually wander into an area that has clothing shops. My friend and I wandered around Gion to search for dessert and we stumbled upon the Kamo River along with countless restaurants and teahouses. This area is known for geishas but we didn’t see any while we were there walking about. Another thing that became my one of my favorites (other than the Fushimi Inari Shrine) was the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. 

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After Kyoto, we decided to go to Hakone for a quick day trip but we didn’t realize how much time it would take for the train and what not. We ended up getting there around 1-2 pm but by that time, many of the tour guides told us that businesses closed around 5 pm so we’d need to go somewhere that was quite close and easy to get to. It was disappointing to hear because had we known that shops closed at 5, we would have started the day much earlier. The only thing we had time to do was go to this naked hot spring that was located in a fancy hotel. This was unknown to me, but Hakone is actually known for onsens which are hot springs. This was called the Tenzen Tohji-kyo Hot Springs and it cost about 1300 yen to get in. It’s more popular among the locals than it is for tourists but that makes the experience even better in my opinion. I wasn’t able to take my smartphone anywhere so I didn’t get quality photos of the experience but it was a great way to unwind for a few hours. They had various pools of water that varied in temperature and they had a sauna room. A shower was provided which allowed you to clean yourself up a bit before getting in the pools. They had lockers and areas where you could reapply your makeup afterwards. Hairdryers and towels were also present which made this place seem insanely professional and sanitary. Not to mention it felt great to finally feel warm in Japan!

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Robot Restaurants, National Gardens, and Museums in West Tokyo

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I can’t even begin to tell you all that we did on the west side of Tokyo. We saw all the main tourist attractions such as the National Garden and Shibuya Crossing but my favorite thing had to be the Yayoi Kusama exhibit I got a chance to catch at the National Art Center. Located in Roppongi, it was just a short walk from their subway station and it was such a glorious thing to do during some of the last few days in Tokyo. The feeling I got when I walked into the room filled with her artwork was something I can’t describe. Every single piece of artwork she created was hard for me to wrap my head around since they were such intricate details. The colors were stunning and the titles of these pieces of art made me question the thoughts that ran through her head as she was creating these pieces. She is definitely a character that is unlike any other artist I’ve encountered. Her sculptures were beautiful as well and I can’t even believe I got a chance to see it because I didn’t know that the museum would be running an exhibit on her prior to arriving in Tokyo.

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Along with the National Art Center, I’d guide a tourist to go to Eggcellent for brunch in Roppongi because that was truly an experience itself. The entire restaurant is egg themed and it was adorable. I’ve never seen a place like it and they offer heaps of healthy options that will lead you scrambling to decide what to get. If you’re like me and you’re indecisive, you’ll end up getting two meals instead of one. The staff was patient and helpful with the questions we had and they did offer a menu with english on it! Mara got a buddha bowl that looked delicious and I opted for a tweaked version of the eggs benedict along with a chia pudding and veggie smoothie. The interior design of it felt like the perfect place for a nice Sunday brunch with it’s wood furniture and soft music that contributed to the ambiance.

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Shibuya is a nice place to get some shopping done if you have time to kill. There are lots of main streets that are filled with familiar stores such as Zara and Berksha but if you wander into narrow alleyways, you’ll find lots of hidden gems of independant stores that sell clothing, bags, and gifts. I wish I had more time to look through them all. I also want to point out that the Japenese people that I saw had some of the most incredible street style I’ve ever seen. I admire the fact that individuals there are able to fully be themselves and don’t conform to the norms of everyday style. Everyone looked like they were straight out of Nylon magazine and I was loving it. You can also find a cafe on any street really which was a plus cause all I wanted to do was drink hot coffee due to the harsh cold weather.

We walked from Shibuya to the Meiji Shrine since it was close and it was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city life. It’s funny how you could walk a few minutes outside the city and suddenly encounter a large forest that escapes the sounds of the city. There were handfuls of tourists on the day that we went but it was fine because it was still reletively quiet on the quest to the shrine. For residents in Tokyo, I’m sure it’s a great place to get a nice stroll in because the path to the shrine is pretty long. Along the way we saw a huge collection of sake barrels that are apprently donated from sake brewers from all around Japan.

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The shrine itself is dedicated to the Emperor and Empress and the construction for this shrine began in 1915 after the death of the Emperor. Before you enter this shrine, you’ll come across some large gates.

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The last night of Tokyo we went to Shinjuku where we saw the popular Robot Restaurant Show.  We were lucky enough to get some sort of discount because we went for a show that started around 6. I’m sure their later times are harder to get into and it was also a Friday evening. We only paid 6,000 yen each I believe and it was worth every penny. I can’t really put into words what the show was because it was hard to keep up with. Lots of lights, loud noises, and gigantic robots is all I can summarize it up to be. The waiting room was absolutely stunning because it was decorated like something in Las Vegas with velvet seats and neon lights. I mean the toilet was entirely decorated with this abstract floral pattern. There isn’t really a story line to their performance although there is kind of one in the middle of the show. They often had breaks in between parts of the show where they would allow people to use the restroom and purchase additional snacks such as popcorn and drinks. I loved the costumes and the dedication of the performers though and you could tell they were having fun through all of those. Most of us looked stunned in the audience since I’m sure none of us had seen anything quite like this. Although most people consider it a tourist trap, I strongly encourage people to go to the show if they’re ever in the area. It’s funny at some points and it’s just cool to see massive robots in general.

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Shinjuku had this store that sold every type of Kit Kat you could imagine so naturally I bought a bag of each. Let’s just say that the flight home was hard to get through because having one girl fly eight hours on a flight with nine bags of Kit Kats is basically torture. My favorite by far was the green tea ones or the sweet potato Kit Kats. Fingers crossed that they make it back home safe and sound and don’t melt into puddles in my room.

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