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I know it’s cheesy & clichéd to go shopping at a mall or department store when you’re on vacation, but London has some of the most well-known, iconic, & oldest department stores in all the lands. So, it was an obvious choice to put these touristy famous shopping destinations on my list of must visit places. I wasn’t necessarily planning on buying anything, but I at the very least wanted to step inside & take a look around & to be able to say that I’ve been there.

Fortnum and Mason is one of those department stores where you know there’s going to be a lot of old, stuffy history, & where you know you’re going to look severely underdressed (& undertitled) compared to all of the high-society ladies who stop there for some exclusive afternoon tea. Jian is not in the least bit interested in shopping malls or department stores, so it was a bit of a task to convince him to go with me to Forntum and Mason.

When we got there, the place was packed to the gills with other tourist shoppers, all with the same intentions as we had…to buy semi non-kitschy souvenirs for friends & family. Of course Fortnum and Mason is well-known for their teas, but they also carried a massive variety of confectioneries & cookies/biscuits. We bought a few small tins of cookies/biscuits for Jian’s parents & a small box of marzipan for my mom. However, there was one item I kept passing by while we were browsing. It was a box of milk chocolates, but it wasn’t the chocolates that got me hooked. It was the absolutely adorable & clever packaging that caught my eye.

I am always a sucker for product packaging like cute gift wrapping, or souvenir boxes/tins. This chocolate box packaging was no exception. I 100 percent fell in love with the packaging as soon as I saw it. Also, I love chocolate, so it was a no-brainer that I had to pick this up as a souvenir for myself. Check out the packaging below.

 

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Please excuse my crappy photo-taking & editing. These were all shot on an iPhone SE.

  1. The box cover says “Cute as a button”. That got me hook, line, & sinker. Also, I loved the pink & blue pastel color scheme of the box.
  2. The back of the box has all of the nutritional information, blah, blah, blah…
  3. Inside, the chocolates are wrapped in tissue paper with a gold foil bumble bee sticker.
  4. I love the clever sewing theme of the box. The bottom side of the box lid has an adorable sewing lablel graphic that says “100% Delicious Made in England”.
  5. The side of the box lid has a super cute graphic of a pincushion with a thread & stitching graphic wrapping around the box lid.
  6. Inside is the real prize. The chocolates are shaped like actual antique buttons. That is just incredible attention to detail.

I can’t wait to sample these chocolates for myself. They almost look too delicious to eat, but who can pass up a piece of yummy chocolate? I know I can’t. Until then, cheers to chocolate mates!

Today’s song of the day:

“Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest

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Ok, before I tell you about my epic trip to London, let me tell you this story first. Let me start by reminding you of my previous blog post, the one where I talked about how I’ve always dreamed of going to London & spotting a celebrity. I think I’m having a lucky streak meting famous people overseas. I once met Gwyneth Paltrow in Tokyo while she was on vacation with her daughter Apple. Then, I shook hands with my favorite Japanese rap artist VERBAL (from the famous JPop duo m-flo) in Shanghai.

This time…I spotted another celebrity on the street. Have you ever heard of the TV show The Royals (shown on the E! Network here in the U.S.)? Do you know of the newly famous actor Tom Austen, who plays a royal bodyguard to the princess on that TV show? Well, in case you don’t know who he is, here’s a photo for your reference. If you do know of him, here’s a reminder of what he looks like.


Ok, ok. So I didn’t actually meet this actor in person, but I did spot him randomly on the street, & I think that should count as a celebrity sighting. I was walking with Jian in the South Kensington neighborhood looking for a place to grab some lunch. We walked by a French restaurant with a large window wall facing the street. This actor, Tom Austen, was sitting directly in front of the window at a corner table with a mystery woman whom I assume is a private friend of his. He just happened to look up from his plate at the exact time Jian & I walked past the window, & we made brief eye contact. Of course, Tom had a puzzled expression on his face. I tried to look nonchalant & like I wasn’t deliberately looking into the restaurant window.

Jian & I kept walking, but I had to stop him to explain to him all about my excited behavior. Jian at first didn’t believe that this guy we walked past was a real celebrity, so I had to convince him to walk back to the restaurant so we could get another glimpse, & I could prove to him I was right. I made up some lame story to pretend to be interested in the restaurant’s menu, like we might eat there for lunch. Of course the actor knew we had circled back to where he was eating with his friend, & he had another puzzled expression on his face as he noticed us walking by his area again. Then again, this actor always has a puzzled look on his face. In every photo I’ve seen of him on the internet, he always looks puzzled.

Walking back to the restaurant & getting my second glance only bolstered my confirmation that I indeed spotted actor Tom Austen in public…in a high-end, well-to-do neighborhood…having lunch with a semi-attractive brunette woman. In order to truly convince Jian that it really was the actor that we saw, I had to show him Tom’s IMDB profile. Jian’s still not fully convinced, but I’m sticking to my story, & that’s that. Well, I’m off to start on my London vacation blog… Until then, cheers mates!!

Today’s song of the day:

“From Now On” by Magnus Carlson


I’m finally at the airport after waiting for so long. The time has finally come, & I don’t think it has sunk in yet. I still can’t believe I’m actually going to London. It’s going to be a wild ride. Will catch up on the other side of the time zone. Until then, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“A Certain Romance” by Arctic Monkeys


First, let me start off by recapping my SAVE FERRIS concert experience. The concert itself was great. I was kind of surprised that the band chose to play most of their older music instead of playing songs off of their newly released album “Checkered Past”. Being able to sing & dance my heart out to all of the SAVE FERRIS “oldies-but-goodies” really had me reminiscing about the good ol’ days when I first saw them in concert 20 years ago at my very first live music experience in my life. I was so pumped up to hear most of my all-time favorite songs from the band, & some songs I had forgotten that I once loved. I was also glad that I was able to open Jian’s ears & introduce him to a genre of music he’s not very familiar with, & I only hope that I’ve turned him on to this type of music so we can enjoy it together. Not very many people in my life, almost no one, knows about my past life as a Pubk-Rock groupie & “Rude Girl” (a.k.a. female Ska fanatic). Going to see one of my favorite bands after all these years really brought all the fond high school memories back. Standing at the front row of the stage, grooving along with the band. 


Oh, & did I mention that I made direct eye contact with the lead singer Monique Powell a few times throughout the concert? Yeah, it was super awesome that Monique fan-serviced my section of the audience a ton. I mean, she sang in front of my section of the stage for most of the night. It was so incredible, except for one glaringly odious thorn in the beautiful black & white checkered rose that was the SAVE FERRIS concert. IT WAS THE EXTREMELY OBNOXIOUS FANS (& there were many of them, mostly standing in my section of the stage as well). 

There were some fans who couldn’t stop trying to grab the band’s attention by screaming out immature comments in between songs. Others were trying to one-up each other in some sort of musical listing contest by flaunting their vintage SAVE FERRIS concert tees from way back when. There were some fans who were trying to look clever by leaving cans of Spam by the front of the stage as prop gifts for the band, meant to be a cute nod to the band’s popular song just-so-titled “SPAM”, & yes the song is all about that salty canned meat. Unfortunately two things happened after the cans of meat were left on the stage (unnoticed by the band): 1. the band didn’t even perform their song “SPAM” that night, & 2. two rude female fans saw the cans, which were meant to be gifts for the band, & openly pocketed the items for themselves without even asking. I got roughly knocked around by many fans, some who were being overly rowdy & moshing, & some who were trying to push their way to the very front of the stage. One woman was so incredibly rude with her pushing, grabbing at other’s clothes & flailing dancing that several other fans had asked her to leave. She had brought her teenage daughter who could only look on in embarrassment & had acted rather annoyingly herself.

I was so appalled by the behavior of my fellow SAVE FERRIS fans that night. It made me feel embarrassed to be lumped in with them. I get it. We’re at a concert where there’s booze & relaxed pot smoking rules. Concerts are a time & place for people to get amped up & let loose, but that doesn’t mean shoving others around, stepping on their feet, & spilling beer all over their shirtsleeves. The stage was small. It’s easy & tempting to throw your hands up, hoping the singer would give you a high-five or shake your hand, but that doesn’t give you the right to become handsy & grab-happy. Stop flailing your hands in front of the singer’s face. She’s not going o kiss your hand or grab you to come up on stage. Give her some space & some respect, man. Anyway, other than the embarrassing & obnoxious fans, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, & I think Jian did too. He had his sufficient quota of alcohol consumption & got to groove to some amazing music. It was sort of bittersweet to see that a lot of the original band members had left, & we were intoduced to some new members. I remember back in the day when my cousin got me a personally autographed message for my birthday from Bill Uechi the former bassist of SAVE FERRIS. I had the message framed, & it sat on my bedroom nightstand for many years before I retired it to my storage closet. The new band members of SAVE FERRIS are cool, but I still wish I had seen some more familiar faces besides the lead singer & lead guitarist.

Ok, on to some other less rant-y news. I’m almost ready for my trip to London. I just ordered my British Pounds today at the bank. I’ve got my traveler Oyster card loaded up & ready to be used, & I got my pre-paid SIM card for my smartphone. All I have left to do is pack my suitcase, which I’m kind of dreading because I never know what types of clothes I should pack. I want to look somewhat stylish, but I also want to dress appropriately for the weather. I know that the weather will be cool when I get there. It’ll practically be like San Francisco’s autumn weather, but I also have a feeling that a lot of shops & restaurants will have their heat cranked up high. I once packed tons of cold weather clothes for a November trip to Tokyo. The weather forecasts kept saying it would be super cold in Tokyo at that time, but I ended up not using any of my cold weather clothes at all when I was there. I was pretty bummed out, disappointed that I had packed the wrong clothes. I don’t want that to happen this time around. I don’t want to pack unnecessary clothes that I won’t use because I’m trying to pack light & efficiently, but I also don’t want to forget anything.

See, this is just me over thinking things as usual. I know that whatever I pack will be fine. I just can’t believe how fast time is flying by, & before I know it, it’ll be time for me to board that plane. I’m so super excited about this upcoming trip. I guess I can say that I am genuinely chuffed to bits! I can’t wait to share pics! Until then, cheers mate!

Today’s song of the day:

“Catching Fireflies” by The Revivalists


  

Hello February! Both of my parents’ birthdays are in this month (Dad’s on the 8th, Mom on the 18th). It’s also a significant time for Chinese New Year (which falls exactly on my dad’s birthday this year). As you may know by now, each Lunar Calendar year corresponds to an animal in the Chinese zodiac. When the new year falls upon your zodiac sign, it becomes a significant time for YOU. This becomes your so-called “make-or-break” year…if you are superstitious like I am. When it becomes the year of your zodiac sign, you must wear something RED EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. It could be something small like earrings or a bracelet (guys could even use a piece of red string tied around their wrist). Or it could be something large like a t-shirt or socks. The absolute best way to ward off negativity for the lunar year is to wear, & I am not jokingRED UNDERWEAR. I’ve done the red underwear thing before, & it actually worked for me. The key is to buy a whole bunch of inexpensive red underwear (so you can turn all of your laundry pink), so you can cycle through them during the week. This lunar year falls on my zodiac sign, so I’m going to wear a red bracelet. I haven’t decided if I’m going to go all out & do the red underwear thing this year or not.

This year has barely just begun, & I’m already swamped with activities. I’ve had so many friends & family celebrating birthdays in January. Both of my parents are celebrating their birthdays this month. Chinese New Year is a huge deal in my family. We go through the ritual of cleaning the entire house to sweep out negative energy, & most importantly, we change our bed sheets on the Chinese New Year’s Eve, to signify the changing of the year. I am also going on a ton of trips this year. In just this month alone, I’ve already got two trips planned. Next weekend, Jian & I are going to play in the mountain snow in Lake Tahoe, CA. (We can’t wait to take our All-Wheel-Drive Audi up to the mountain snow.) Then, the weekend after that, the whole family is going to San Diego to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday. I can’t wait to spend some more fun time with my favorite nephew & niece.

Also planned for this year, I’m going back to San Diego in the summer for Comic Con. I already got my 4-day passes, & I really hope I get to meet my favorite actor in person this time…not just watch him from afar at some stuffy panel discussion. Jian & I are currently in the process of planning two other major overseas trips for this year. We really want to go back to Guangzhou, China to visit Jian’s maternal grandparents who are unable to travel. It would be really wonderful to spend quality time with them again, since Jian is one of their favorite grandchildren. We hope we can snag another awesome package deal like last time, & have another layover in Japan again. I have really been itching to go back to Japan with Jian & show him other incredible cities. However, I do realize that we tend to mostly visit Asian countries whenever we plan major vacations, so I have finally convinced Jian to go with me to London, England. Hooray! 

I am in the very early stages of planning the London trip. I am making spreadsheets, & lists, & reading lots of travel guides. I am going through my usual over-organized pre-trip planning. I am just way too excited to be visiting a European country for the first time. Just like my trips to Shanghai & Tokyo, I am going to photo-blog the shit out of my London trip. I will probably get obnoxious. I’m not sure yet. Well, I never know how to properly end my blog posts. So, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“Águas de Março” by Lisa Ono

  

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