Florence Best Kept Secrets

By , May 29, 2013 2:54 am

When i looked up things to do in Florence, i ended up reading lots of warnings about the place. I even found a site of 101 Tourist Traps of Florence. There should be 102, that website is one.

Yes, we ought to use our better sense when travelling, but Florence is misrepresented online.

The Best of Florence in 48 Hours
1. Slow Food
We wandered into an alley, decided to settle for this quaint tiny restaurant in front of us and discovered we hit jackpot with Imangiarino . There was one old lady taking orders and serving, 2 chefs in the kitchen and the tiny place sits about 20.  I was amused with the disclaimer on the placemat ‘slow food’.
It was so worth the wait. It’s the best meal i ate in Florence. There are only 13 “slow food” restaurants in Florence and we actually accidentally walk into one! I later found out that “slow food” didn’t mean the service but it means that the restaurant uses recipes passed down from generations and the best and possibly organic ingredients from the region.

Best to make reservations because shortly after we entered, a queue started snaking!

Address: Via dello Studio, 5/r-50122 Firenze

Tel: 055 216 208

Email: imagiarino@libero.it



2. Aline Hotel

rated badly online. People said it was dirty, a pain to be fighting to use the common bathroom etc. I decided to take a chance with Aline because it was centrally located and cheap. For a one star hotel and costing only 64 euros a night for 2, we hit jackpot again! It was clean, cute and safe. Shower is within the room, tiny as an in-flight toilet, but if you don’t mind peeing in the shower, you hardly need to use the common bathroom outside. Even if you do, it is clean, odourless and I didn’t have to queue.I had to take a dump.Our room even had a cute little balcony that looked above apartment roofs into the Tuscan hills in the distance.

That’s me on the balcony with a 4kg leg of prosciutto ham.

3. The Oldest Infirmary in the World
is not found within a church, like i expected it to be.
Behind me is the Santa Maria Novella, but the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, the oldest still-operating pharmacy in the world (and oldest in Italy) is found somewhere else. It is located in one of those stone buildings, obscure and undetected. Ask the Tourist Information outside and opposite of Firenze train station, that’s how we found it. When you reach the street, follow the crowd because that’s probably where everyone’s going. The over-powering smells of sweet scent like Victoria Secrets will also be an indication.
Having read online that it was established in 1221, when the Dominican monks grew herbs to make balms and medicines, i was expecting to walk into some sort of tomb looking ancient pharmacy,
Alas, it looks very modern, fancy and like a New York departmental store.Albeit, the pharmacy itself is housed in the original building, the rooms have vaulted ceilings, marble floors, glass-stained windows with walnut cabinetry and glass-stoppered decanters full of colorful potions.

The superior quality of the monks’ products became widely known, and in the 17th century, the pharmacy opened its doors to the public.

Today the pharmacy still uses the traditional preparation methods and carries products using the original recipes of the monks. AtlasObscura highlights the Aceto dei Sette Ladri, or Seven Thieves Vinegar, where these smelling salts got their unusual name from a band of seven men who robbed corpses during a plague. They were said to have doused themselves in the strong vinegar to protect themselves from the plague. However, this was nowhere to be found on the order menu. Instead, there is an extensive list of dietary supplements for the mental and physical health, herbal teas, hydroalcholic extracts, syrups or accessories. Prices are only revealed upon query.
4. Trattoria ZaZa
is also recommended on Tripadvisor. The interior design is more notable than its food. However, it is a popular favourite for whipping up delicious authentic Italian pastas. I need to get used to the Italian pastas not having much ingredients like the Japanese ramen. The oomph is all in the sauce.
However, next door is Trattoria Mario, which came highly recommended by a local friend and twice we didn’t make it in time or that there was a 2 hour waiting time.

Address: Piazza del Mercato Centrale 26r

5. Shopping in Florence

I did all my shopping in 2 places. One was Central Market, the other was at The Mall.

Because competition is tough at Central Market where the stalls mostly hawk the same ware, the prices are the best around Florence. I found the Indian stall owners easier to negotiate prices, however, they are also probably the ones who sell leather goods that may not be authentic material. Nonetheless, i bought this Prada -inspired bag in a cheery sunshine colour for 35 euros (supposedly calf leather) bargained down from 55. There are tons of leather products to be found, some could be utterly fake, some could be the leftovers of good leather. Only an expert hand can discern the real and the fakes but i say if the price is reasonable and the design is pretty, go for it! I also bought 3 soft leather belts in dirty green, brown and fuchsia (8 euro each) as well as 3 leather cuffs (2 euro each).
I didn’t quite encounter many Asians in Florence but no prizes for guessing where i saw majority of them.
In the queue waiting to go The Mall, factory outlet featuring high-end brands like Ferragamo, Prada, Christian Dior, Gucci and more.
It feels like i’m in Asia again!
The Sita bus station is to the right of Firenze station and costs 5 euro one way. Buses start at 8.50 am and run every 20 mins to and 30 mins fro. The entire bus ride takes slightly more than an hour. The Mall opens at 10am, and it is a mad house particularly in the Prada store. The only brand that is two-storey with an escalator within, the brand conscious Asians (Chinese and Koreans mainly) start grabbing. Best is to visit The Mall with caution and a shopping list of what you need so you stay focused. DO NOT feel pressured when you see fellow Asians in a shopping frenzy. But who am i to give advice? I went needing a new wallet, a sling satchel and card holder but left with 3 items more that were not in the list. The Devil really wears Prada! The brands offer good discount, starting from 30%. Burberry has an extensive range of winter wear while Christian Dior had a 50% further off factory outlet price. The Mall is the ONLY place in Florence that i see so many Chinese salesgirls and there was even an Italian gent in Dior who spoke fluent Mandarin.
6. Michael Angelo Hill
Florence is small enough to go everywhere on foot.

I’m not lying.

It is indeed nice to walk around by foot, working off that pizza then putting it on with a gelato. Through walking, you can take in the bustling city’s sights, the tourist spots and discover new areas.

Hanging out with horses.

Take a sandwich, hike up the Michael Angelo hill for a panoramic view of Florence.

7. Florence at Night
When dusk falls, Florence becomes romantic.

The most photographed bridge in Florence is Ponte Veccchio, where jewellery shops are built into the bridge.

We sat on the bridge, enjoying the romantic view and listening to the groovy husky voice of an Italian busker.

A local culture of the clubbers at night is to also sniff out the secret bakeries of Florence. These bakeries start baking late at night for the next morning and very often will sell inconspicuously to those who seek at night. A hot bun oozing with Nutella for 1 euro, unfortunately we didn’t stay out late enough to go treasure hunting.  If you’re gungho enough, here’re some addresses you can try.
8. Day trip to Pisa
Because Florence is small enough to finish walking in a day (without too much stopping for Italian coffee which btw, is mugnificant), take a train to Pisa just an hour away!Costing 7 euros one way, the ticket machines at Firenze is simple to use and does not return change in the form of vouchers (as some websites warned).

Most shops are closed on Sundays but otherwise if you had gone on a weekday, Pisa is a lovely town (less crowded than Florence) to spend time in.

Get drunk on Simpson’s beer,

and start seeing things leaning!

We’re not that great photographers so it hardly looks leaning. It’s an amazing piece of architecture because it looks leaning but it’s actually not!

We thought we were early at 10am but no, almost everyone is early.

Had to get my 2948 worth of leaning pictures.

Travelling to Pisa is really just for the tower which you can do funny things with.

Florence, my first taste of Italy (ok, maybe Venice was first).

Wanton Me.

By , November 3, 2012 8:52 pm

I’m fascinated with sex.

But that doesn’t make me a nympho.

I remember the fascination started at a very young age. I wanted to pursue sex as my studies but my poor father tried to talk me out of it in the most subtle manner by referring me to an elder in church who tried persuading me to study children instead. I told the Uncle as politely as i could that, “in order to have children, sex needs to come first.”

It was an awkward moment and nobody else said a thing.

I ended up studying media because i gave up searching for reputable sex schools. Today, i am able to articulate clearly why i wanted to study sex. Perhaps, i wouldn’t have shocked those two old souls like i did then.

Its my fascination with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I wanted to know why sex is as important as eating, drinking and breathing. Why it’s a word that Asians find hard to utter.

Strangely, i chance upon deviant news naturally i swear! Contary to popular belief, i am not googling “porn” on Friday nights. I remember clicking onto an article about women rearing boars as pets because they have an appendage that hooks onto her wall and drills in like a screw. I remember my search term was “weird food”.

Or when i was looking up “hybrid animals” on Youtube, i was distracted by “dolphins raping humans”.

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If you meet a dolphin like that, you could have drowned. Or have your neck broken, because a dolphin’s ejaculation can break a human’s neck.

Yes, i’m fascinated with sex.

And before you start judging, please read some of my favourite articles Lessons from a Russian Strip Club, Sex Doll movie review, and Sex Volunteering. Fine, if you’re going to judge, you can also call me an SPG.

This fascination have made Japan and Amsterdam my dream destinations. Mainly because i’m curious to find out whatever i read on the Internet is for real. I’m like the frog who lives in the well and long to get out to see the world for itself.

It began with the forwarded emails. Absurd vending machines found in Japan and even school girl’s saliva sold in vials! I had to find out for myself.

Vending machine selling bugs

Catch a boob instead of a bear. Just as cuddly.

In the last 3 years, i’ve visited Japan twice. I did not see any of these absurd vending machines but i did find used panties for sale and i did chance upon a role play cafe which was surreal.

Used is more expensive than new.

However, i’m doubtful if the shit restaurant (where you consume shit from naked girls on a strict diet pre ordered by you) or the restaurant where you penetrate your live meal is real.

Then again, i bought an unusual choice of a coffee table book titled Pink Box from Amazon and it provides pictures and proof of some of the deviant clubs’ existence.

Joan Sinclair, a 22-year-old photographer, was working as an English teacher in Tokyo when a friend dragged her to the city’s infamous Kabukicho red-light district, a neon-drenched enclave packed with 5,000 sex shops that cater to an impressively specific array of sexual fantasies and fetishes. She was hooked. Eight years later, she returned with a[law degree and a] camera and set out to document Japan’s $20 billion sex-services industry, befriending hundreds of budding sex workers and their businessman clients.

She’s my idol, haha.

From this curiousity, i learnt about the Japanese history that public penetration is illegal and thus the creative ways of sexual services. Does this make the Japanese sick? Maybe not, if you understand their social circumstances.

Censored magazines are legal, uncensored are against the law.

I’m stoked that i’m visiting Amsterdam next week. Famous for their red light district, i knew i had to see it before it disappears like Venice.

Every country has a Tourist Info Center, Amsterdam has that AND a Prostitute Info Center. I was pretty tickled by that fact and found that it’s founded by an ex-prostitute.

Mariska Majoor, at 16, needed money to buy a dog and thought that sex work was an excellent way of doing that. At that age, her life was centered mainly on the street and bars, she did not view this period negative. She saw what she did as work and was satisfied with the high earnings. However, as she grew older, she was bothered by the non-understanding and decretory looks of passer by in the Red Light District. She is now married with a daughter, is a writer and is active in various government initiatives.

Setting up the PIC was pretty entrepreneurial.

A fan for off-the-beaten experiences, i’ve signed up for her prostitute workshop. A private one hour session, it promises to teach the laws of attraction behind a window, how to spot a potential customer, how to reject, how to protect and how to communicate charges. The session then ends with the workshop participant standing behind a real window! Except no men will be walking through that door. I’ll get to experience what it feels like to be watched (as if we don’t get leered at enough in Asia already). Perhaps I can demonstrate a few chops of what I’ve learnt! Maybe it’ll be effortless seeing how I’ll be exotic meat, like lap cheong.

Its 8 degrees in Amsterdam now and completely optional to bring something sexy but if i do, preferbly white to wear behind the window because of the UV lights.

What should I wear?

I’m a good student, decked in white head to toe.

I’m pretty stoked yet nervous. I found no reviews about the workshop but reviews about Amsterdam prostitutes like our Sammyboy forums. I’ll be the first to review so watch this space.

Footnote: I’m now back from Amsterdam, read my prostitute experience over at www.chrispytinetoo.blogspot.sg

Cave Adventure in Cheddar Gorge

By , October 30, 2012 8:52 pm

A real caving expedition is a must do when you visit Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, Great Britain. For 21 pounds, I crawled, climbed and slided like in the movies.

Cameras were not encouraged for the expedition because we’re warned that we’ll get REAL dirty!

Are you going to find out what’s behind that URL?
Spotted it at The Central, Clarke Quay.
Plus we’ll be crawling on our bellies or backs and plenty of tight squeezes that scrape your sides, a camera will be a burden. But i’m a cam whore blogger!
Before, look how clean our overalls are.
After, a collection of dust and mud.

Cheddar Gorge was one of my favourite activities. It was quite a workout and i got blue-blacks all over my knees after. Turning off the torches, it was pitch darkness. For a moment, i allowed my imagination run wild. Thinking of The Descent was NOT a good idea.

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The last few scenes of the above video was not part of the caving expedition. They are lit up areas of other caves with walking paths you can visit as part of an all-access ticket (18 pounds). Most of the time  the instructor made us go the claustrophobic way while he just got up and walked round the rocks to meet us on the other side. While we huffed and puffed our way, he took the “secret passage”. That’s the caving experience for tourists.

Cave explorers however leave no markings, they rely on memory to find their way out (exactly the same way in). Marry a cave explorer, he’ll never forget your birthday or anniversary.

www.chrispytinetoo.blogspot.com

Eating Blind at Dans Le Noir

By , May 21, 2012 11:51 pm

Here’s a food review i’d do like a real food blogger.
A) I could eat my food hot instead of waiting till all photography is done
B) I could concentrate on conversations instead of photographing
C) There’re no notes to be taken, the dishes are not named (really, the food bloggers are THAT hardworking)

In fact, cameras are strictly forbidden because all you see is….

It was a blind date. Figuratively AND literally. It was my first time dining with Nic and he generously took me to Dans Le Noir upon my request. I was after-all, the tourist. I thought eating in pitch darkness is a good ploy to have a romantic date with a looker, except i really couldn’t look at him in pitch darkness. I was looking forward to Dans Le Noir the entire holiday and i was very excited.

Arriving at Dans Le Noir, London, we see that it was a Hen’s night for a group of girls.
“Oh no, this is not good,” he groaned.

He was right. In pitch darkness, with the loss of eyesight, your sense of hearing is heightened so the already loud hens became deafening. So much so that i felt like screaming, “Quiet, you bitches!” finding courage in the darkness knowing they can’t come punch me.

Upon entering, a lady swops upon us asking for our reservation and proceeds to explain the concept and take our orders. It was a choice of colours. The red menu (for meat lovers), green (for vegetarians) or white (for surprise seekers).

We could choose between 2 courses, 3 courses (without drinks) or a degustation menu. She was a young Asian lady with lifeless jet black hair with eyeliner drawn around her eyes. She rocked her body back and forth, bringing her face close to us as she explained.

I whispered to Nic, “Will we regret this? Why does it feel like I’m going to enter a horror house?”

We confirmed that we both had no allergies. Drinks weren’t included in the 2 course meal (49 pounds) so we ordered some. I reminded him not to go for red wine in case of spills, which is likely to happen when you fumble in the dark! We then surrendered our personal belongings, anything that is reflective or shiny. Mobiles, cameras, watches, we obediently locked them in free lockers available. Ghow, a burly visually impaired man then took over as our waiter for the night. We were told that in the event of any emergency (had to pee, had to puke etc) in the dark room, we were to stay seated and shout for Ghow. Boy, is it going to be chaotic.

Ghow lifted my hands and placed it on his shoulders. He signaled Nic to follow suit behind me. We’re going in like a Choo Choo train!

“Do not be afraid of the dark”, Ghow let out a sinister laugh.

Ok, i made that up.

The moment we stepped in, darkness swallowed us whole. Our eyes didn’t adjust to the dark and never did.

“Maybe i should have ate more carrots!”

“Maybe i should have brought my night vision googles.”

Impressive, he has night vision googles! Not seeing anything, we hear a lot of chatter, clinking of cutlery, scrapping of chairs, giggling and shuffling of the waiters’ scurrying around. All waiters are visually impaired by the way.Ghow led us to our table, took my hand off his shoulder and placed it on the edge of the wooden square. He then gave clear instructions to feel my way and sit myself down. There was a sense of insecurity and i felt uneasy that Ghow was going through his instructions too fast. I felt like i had to hear every single word and not miss a thing. Instructions became my lifeline in this dark place.

“Wait!” I said. “I’m not seated yet, i’m trying to get my coat off.” I announced.

On hindsight, it was quite silly to announce my move, it was totally not necessary for the awkward silence as i removed my coat. I used to lie in bed as a school kid putting on my uniform just to catch an extra forty winks. With my eyes closed, it wasn’t that difficult to put it on. However, in pitch blackness, removing a heavy winter coat took some effort and it felt like an eternity.

Ok, i’m seated!” I felt obliged to announce. Otherwise, they wouldn’t know right?I then followed Ghow’s instructions and felt for my glass and cutlery, orientating myself to the table’s settings.I reached my hand out asking, “Nic, are you there?” I felt like a needy girlfriend. NOT.COOL.

We held hands whenever we talked, it was mostly my initiative. I needed to know i wasn’t talking to air. I realised in the dark, the sense of touch translates to security. For an Asian girl like me who is uncomfortable with touch on a first date, i disregard that fact in Dans Le Noir. I never really found men with hairy arms appealing either but in the dark, something extra to feel was suddenly quite new! I knew Dans Le Noir could sit 70 but it felt a lot smaller with all the noise around. Perhaps the space IS really small because i our knees touched underneath despite being across each other. Also, i felt someone beside me.

I poked her.

Suddenly in the dark, everything was about touch. I touched EVERYTHING. She giggled and i said, “hello, you’re real!”

Dans Le Noir is hardly romantic when you’re in close proximity with other patrons. Sweet nothings can’t be said, secrets can’t be divulged and you better not bad mouth any one because you wouldn’t know who’s in front of you!Ghow returned with our first course of meal. I took a whiff, i smelt nothing. Not knowing the ingredients of our meals, we excitedly dig in. My first bite was an empty fork. I forked nothing! It took me about 2 minutes to try again. In the end, i secretly used my fingers to push something onto my fork. I hope nobody saw me.

Continue reading here.

A Dummy’s Guide: Singapore Turf Club

By , May 14, 2012 9:21 am

Here’s an unconventional date idea. Take her/him to the Singapore Turf Club.

For those without cars, you can take a train to Kranji and then board a Turf Club shuttle bus (you pay for admission at the same time) to the race course.

In Western countries, the races is a chi-chi event where ladies wear pretty summer frocks & fancy hats.

In Singapore, it’s not quite our culture so while i tried to blend in, i didn’t want to be OTT (over-the-top).

Races happen every Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, that’s when dates happen too right? Instead of a movie and dinner, why not try something new?

While i do not promote gambling, I think a visit to the Turf Club as an unconventional date idea is permissible. Because you may not have done it before, read up so you’ll impress your date!You don’t have to dress up to the Turf Club, i did only because i was asked to and we were invited to one of its special events.Singapore Turf Club organizes special nights for major races where members of the public can purchase tickets at $60/$80 to participate.

While it provides a buffet dinner, the food and variety is not comparable to a hotel’s where you pay on average $48++ for a dinner buffet.Do also note that while other alcohol is available, only beer and cocktails are inclusive.Otherwise, you get an exclusive viewing, betting and dining area. You can also participate in their lucky draw and fringe activities like Best Dressed, Guess The Winner etc.Crossing over to where majority of the public will be, it’s a stark difference. Here, you can wear flip flop and tank tops for a casual date.

Mostly a male audience, you find people smoking and litter everywhere.For $7, you get to enter the Upper Grand Stand (seen in below picture, the level below the bright lights). It is air-conditioned.

Otherwise, you can pay $3 and enter the Lower Grand Stand (seen in above picture, the level below the upper grand stand).Though it’s non-conditioned, it’s a good spot to be in the heat of the excitement when the race starts. You are also closer to the horses when they do a parade showing the shine and stealth of the horses before you place your bets.Here’re the minimum items you need to place a bet. Seasoned gamblers will need more program sheets i guess.

From the top: This provides past performances of all the horses running on the day’s program. While you’re likely to win betting on the No.1 horse, your winnings are also much lesser. You can bet on the least likely to win horse, the stroke of luck may bring you bigger winnings.The minimum amount needed to place a bet is $5, i was given a voucher.The red car park coupon looking sheet is where you shade in your bets like an MCQ test paper.There you fill in the Race you want to bet (you can see from the TVs around which is the latest race and you can bet on the next race), and under the section “Pool”, you can choose to either shade Win, Pla or W-P.

Bet Type Your Chances of Winning Explanation and Expectation
W-P Very good Your horse must finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd; modest payoffs
Pla Good Your horse must finish 1st or 2nd; payoffs better than W-P
Win Average Your horse must finish 1st; payoff determined by the win odds

I put $5 for Win on Speedy Cat, on record it has always won first place. If Speedy Cat comes in first place, i would win erm, $2 based on the odds.Alas, it was the underdog who at the eleventh hour took over! If i had put my bet on Pla, i would still have won something, and more than $2.

Horse racing is something that is over in a blink of an eye. All the excitement built up is over even quickly than a roller-coaster. There are 10 races each night, each race lasting lesser than probably a minute. However, it’s a 20 minute wait in between races.So a date at the races could be $50 (bets) + $6 (entrance for 2 to lower grand stand).I never expect to see the tiniest men on these massive stealthy beasts though.

The jockeys need to weigh themselves before and after each race to ensure no cahoots (slowing themselves down with weights so that their partner-in-crime can win).The unlikely horse that won the Queen Elizabeth cup? The horse owner took home $35,000 that night.

The winning pout.

Things to do in Cornwall

By , May 13, 2012 9:11 am

As you go through in life, your perspectives in life really do change. I’m grateful that my ambition to be an air stewardess didn’t happen, with great blessings and a capable father, i get to travel wide and far without needing to serve coffee or tea.

Then, there was a time i envied my Caucasian friends who lived in big countries where vast greenery and blue sea is a mere drive away. Today, I am grateful that I’m living in a country with the world’s best transport system, an improving political landscape and an efficient society. With these, coupled with an ambition for a career, it has earned me enough to travel the world.

And when i do, i seek out the weird,  the really weird, the enlightening, another world, and another culture

My last holiday was the great outdoors in Great Britain!

Cornwall to me is a 鸟不生蛋的地方. With hardly any Asians or people for that matter, in sight. Appropriately named Land’s End, because Penzance is really the furthest end of Britain.

For a city cat like me, it’s kinda boring in the beginning to be at a place where there isn’t much but landscape that stretches beyond your horizon.

However, once you get the hang of it, you enjoy the serenity and fresh air.

The below attractions are all located as landmarks in the rented car’s GPS. Without planning in advance, that’s how we discovered them!

1) SEARCHING FOR KING ARTHUR

I’m not a history buff, totally a bimbo when it comes to geography and history, but i know King Arthur! Or at least i know figments of this story.I rather enjoy this very small medieval town, with kitschy shops.

For a magical day out, take a nice long hike up and down the ruins of Tintagel Castle, where King Arthur was rumored to be born. Looking at the ruins, you try to imagine how the Castle looked like before becoming ruins. It comes to life as you imaginary plant knights and peasants in your head.

Best of all, most parts of this heritage site is FREE! However, i did go in winter. I’m not sure if in summer things would be different. I know for sure the beach cafe will be open and there’ll be lively activities and reenactments so you don’t have to use imagination.

It’s an amazing location, set high on the rugged coast, steeped in legend and mystery. There’s even a Merlin’s Cave to explore right at the bottom! Alas i don’t own a proper DSLR, so i can’t show you much of the place, you’ll have to go see for yourself! Or…google.

You can easily spend 4 hours for a good hike and a walk around town.

2) GET ON A CAMEL TRAIL

In Bodmin, its an area full of bicycle shops. For 10 pounds (SGD 20), you can rent a bicycle for the day. Its like cycling in East Coast park sans the crowd and along lakes, rocks and even sheep.

What i really enjoyed was the town that is at the end of the trail. It’s a straight trail with 2 towns at each end. Each way takes a leisure 90 mins cycle. I started from Bodmin but i believe you can start elsewhere too.

Blisland, an extraordinarily pretty moorland village awaits for all tired and hungry cyclists.

Cornish pasty is a signature meal of Cornwall. We later found out that almost every other cafe/bakery claims to have the best or most famous pasty.

It’s like the Asian curry puff, except some of them have meat in it, some just peppery potato. It can be eaten as a meal as it’s usually larger than a man’s hand (assuming he has a big d***, you know what they say about a man’s hand equals a man’s d*** right?).

Blisland makes you feel like you’re in Venice except people speak English and patient.

3) GO ON A SAFARI

Quite pricey for a zoo, at SGD 54, you won’t need to go Africa for its safari anymore. However, a sister attraction of the caves at Cheddar Gorge, it’s more worthwhile to buy 2 attractions at 36 pounds, with discounts for seniors 60 and above. You’ll need a full day for each attraction though.

Singaporeans don’t get impressed easily so although i was pretty excited heading to the safari, it was an anti-climax. You sit in your car and drive through the entire park with the park’s animals roaming free.

While Africa’s safari tour won’t guarantee you the Big 5, at LongLeat Safari Park, you’ll see them.

However, i think it’s the best zoo for children, the closest you’ll get.

Though because of the currency conversion, the ticket seemed steep but is actually value-for-money. Not only was there the drive-through safari, there is Longleat House there’s another park where you can walk through as well as animal shows. Singapore doesn’t have the best zoo anymore, Cornwall does! Even the walk-through park, you come as close as you can with the animals.

We found an imitation of UK’s famous stonehenge amongst wild horses, a phenomenon unfathomed from prehistoric times.

A natural or unnatural phenomenon, nobody could figure out.

This is the real stonehenge. Today, visitors pay 7 pounds to enter the site but are kept at a distance.
Which means no photo taking next to the rock, much less climbing onto one!

Great Britain, the Great Outdoors.

www.chrispytinetoo.blogspot.com

Lessons from a Strip Club

By , May 12, 2012 9:30 am

The streets outside the club were lit with neon loud signs; the noise decibel level hit 7
with bawdy tourists staggering around.

There were open bars with girls in skimpy shorts, low cut tops and boots gravitating on poles on narrow bar counters. They weren’t very pretty, bodies punctured with cellulite, rolls of fat spilling.

Still, backpackers and holiday merry makers both male and female sit around the bar counters. More for the boisterous atmosphere rather than for the visual enjoyment as the girls half halfheartedly rub against the pole.

You did not need to pay to enter as it is open air with no entrances. Multiple bars operate within this big sheltered compound; it resembles rows of jackpot machines in a casino. You could almost hear the cash register ringing like the jackpot machines.

Out on the streets, male touts wave menu cards in your face while the female touts gently tug at your sleeves. They all want you to visit their bar for the sleazy acts.

Some of the 2 storey shop houses have window displays where Caucasians wearing masquerade masks swinging around a pole. One hand clenched around the pole, dressed in lingerie and standing on a plate that rotates automatically, they are moving signboards for the strip clubs on second floor. Most of them aren’t sucking in enough.

The boys knew where to go. They had done a site recee the night before and they’re back again tonight with a nosy female in tow.

We ascended a spiraling stone staircase and Moulin Rouge greeted me. The bouncers were straight faced and in black suits. Stepping into the club, the decibel levels immediately dropped to 3. Classy, quiet, sexy, a rectangular stage took center with 2 poles erected (pun not intended) and 2 Russians hanging upside down, topless and legs spread wide.

Counter stools occupied the circumference of the stage, that’s where I first sat. Propped on my elbows, my eye level was at their ridiculously 10 inch stripper heels.

It didn’t look like this, but this reminds me of the Ago-Go show where I witness the Thai
performer pulling out a hamster from her V-jay jay.Strippers heels are as pictured below and it’s an official term for such heels. Surprisingly and ironically, such heels are one of the weapons of a beauty queen.I looked up in awe and admiration as they do the spins, twirls and acrobatic moves. Their bodies were extremely fit and toned, putting most women and even men to shame. I felt a tinge of pity. These girls could be super models instead of hawking their bits.

The stripper’s bra fell to the stage floor in front of me; I almost caught a whiff of it as it swooshed down. The boys started nudging me and signaled me to move to the plush velvet cushion seats with tables behind. “The girls wouldn’t come if you’re seated here,” they whispered.

I gather they are regulars at strip clubs.

I did a quick sweep around the club that is a little bigger than a classroom for 50. Mostly Caucasian men, we were the only Asian customers. There was one couple at a corner, the girlfriend was sulking away. Drinks are reasonably priced, starting at SGD 8 with soda water at $4. You can sit as long as you want and watch the pole dancers. Sit at the stage however, if that’s all you want to pay. If you move to the plush seats, the strippers will come to you in a steady flow and shimmy 30 seconds each, hoping to get a private client. It is polite to then tip a standard $4 each time.

I watch my friends’ pupils dilate as the strippers nudge their legs open and placed one knee in between. They placed their cold hands on their shoulders and do sensual body waves, tantalizing the men. The men are not allowed to touch.

We then started discussing about the girls, out loud. Compliments like their smooth skin, good shape and sensual moves, some girls smiled in acknowledgement, some remained expressionless. Bitchy comments like cellulite, cold fish, pushy, and rough skin were whispered behind their backs. On hindsight, I felt guilty participating in an activity that degrades women.


However, at that moment, i didn’t feel so. I reeled in the atmosphere, observed the environment and participated in slapping those butt cheeks, squeezing those soft silicon breasts and slipping money notes in bras.

The girls started making their rounds. A younger Victoria Beckham look-alike sauntered towards our booth.

The boys excitedly pointed their finger towards me with a large grin. She smiled and i shyly waved “hello”. She nudged my legs open, knelt one knee in between and started her dance moves. I laughed awkwardly, i didn’t know what to do or where to place my hands! So my friend helped me out. He whispered to the performer and asked if i could touch her (men are not allowed to touch in the public area). She shrugged and said ok, and i giggled some more, still unsure.

Perhaps X wanted to touch her but because he couldn’t, i became his puppet. While she was continually undulating her hips and dancing erotically, i had my hands touching her body, slowly drawing my fingers up and down her spine. I thought that would be nice for her.

Her skin felt AMAZING. An olive bronze skin, there were no bumps but only smooth skin. I got a little bolder with my friends egging me on, i cupped her breasts that were at my eye-level and gently squeezed.

A nice cup B, it was soft yet i could feel the tear shape of a silicon bag inside.

We discussed about her out loud, from the reports i gave (as i was the only one allowed to touch her). We said she was flawless, we said she was gorgeous, i blurted out “She could be a SUPERMODEL!” countless times.

On hindsight, that was insensitive of me reminding her of her plight (or is it a choice? we really don’t know.) We did treat her like a piece of meat.

Lesson один
We named Beckham lookalike Yvet Lana, which my Asian tongue would have difficulty pronouncing, calling her Sweat Lana.

I profusely exclaimed out loud how smooth and incredible her skin is to my friends who can see but not touch. X animatedly nods and said, “This is what you girls feel like to us!”

I self consciously stroked my arm and made a mental note to moisturize religiously.

I stuffed the 100 baht into her padded bra and gave her perky ass a light smack as she walked away, i behaved like a man would.

The subsequent girls who came did not have skin as smooth as Lana. I could feel the dimples of cellulite on some, one felt clammy.

Lesson два
Lana was the prettiest of the lot, also one of the most easy-going (allowing me to touch in public whilst the others didn’t, requesting me to book them private) but she was a cold fish. Entered the Israeli who looked like a Brazilian supermodel who didn’t look quite as hot as Lana (an 8/10 nonetheless) but her enthusiasm in conversing with you, making sure you have a sensual time made her a winner. I learnt that a face may launch a thousand ships but a character as cold as a fish turns away a thousand fleets.


Lesson три

All had pretty much the same sensual dance moves, but 1 in particular made all of us stand up (figuratively for the men). She wore a fitting neon green bikini that when she came close enough for me to whiff her stickily sweet strawberry scent, my eyes swim with psychedelic effect. She moved her body like a snake and what took us by surprise was she suddenly lifted one leg up and rested it above my shoulder! We all went “whoa…”

Heels like that could have blinded me.

She had Cup A breasts, an uncommon trait of a stripper. Yet despite not having melons, her body work was skillful enough to make you captivated.

She pushed her cup cakes close to my face (anything this close to your face suddenly looks big) before doing a slow body roll.

Continue reading here.

Drink Vodka like a Russian

By , May 12, 2012 9:10 am

It’s my first time tasting Russian cuisine and i must say i am ignorant like any Singaporean. All i knew about Russia was of its exotic women and sick mafia activities like in the movie Hostel. In fact, I’m not even sure the crime syndicate in the movie was Russian.

Little did i know that Russia is a place that looks like this,

And Russians have a penchant for Vodka. Such strong habitual liking that there’s a Russian saying:

There can be not enough snacks

There can only be not enough vodka.

There can be not enough silly jokes

There can only be not enough vodka.

There can be not enough pretty women

There can only be not enough vodka.

There cannot be too much vodka

There can only be not enough vodka.

I am also ignorant about drinking vodka. I’ve always drunk it with cranberry, orange or tonic. That’s a NOOB DRINKING VODKA! Drinking vodka with mixers and ice is a Western trait.

To drink vodka like a Russian is to drink it neat, and VERY cold.

Preferably straight from the freezer

There is also a popular Russian combination of vodka and beer, for those with an intent on getting absolutely smashed.Vodka’s traditional partner is tapa-sized food and i was invited to lunch with Russian Standard, a premium vodka label designed for the individual with a taste of luxury. Located at 10 Duxton Hill sits Buyan Russian Haute Cuisine & Caviar Bar, the one and only Russian restaurant in Singapore.

Authentic deco within.

I asked around my rare few friends who’ve been to Russia. They told me that the fine dinning in Singapore cannot rival the fine dining in Russia. Luxury unfathomable, i had a tasting of the super rich at Buyan. And to drink vodka like a Russian, before you down that shot, you’ve to do a toast. It is considered rude to not drain your glass, and you’ll get bad sex for 7 years if you don’t look at the toaster in the eye.

Oscietra Caviar served on Oladyi with traditional condiments such as
onion, quail egg and lemon.

A mouthful of words that i only understood onion, quail egg and lemon. “You eat it like Peking Duck!” The Norwegian gentleman beside me kindly informed. When it comes to yummy things, do you leave the best to the last or do you eat it first?Unfolding the crepe, i put a little of everything inside (except the caviar), wrapped and ate. I was half tempted to use my hands and eat like a Vietnamese roll but reminded myself the super rich will not do that.It was my first time eating caviar, the most expensive food in the world. To my peasant undiscerning tongue, i thought it tasted like the Japanese fish roe (the orange one). In fact due to the fish roe being larger, the burst of juices against the tongue was felt greater than caviar. Nonetheless, i was given by a little shell spoon to eat the caviar with. Only connoisseurs would do that, because metal taint the delicate eggs’ flavour.

Strasbourg Pie

I’m not a fan of fancy eats like foie gras but the pan-fried foie gras wrapped in bacon and baked in a thin puff pastry as sung by pushkin was absolutely heavenly. Again a mouthful of words, this time i understood at least 70% of it. Paired with cranberry sauce, the foie gras melts in my mouth, it was orgasmic. I’ll definitely spend my pay check on this.

The qualities valued in Russian Standard is the smoothness and lack of aftertaste, the only beverage that can be drunk through a meal because it doesn’t affect the taste of food but instead can bring out flavours! That’s how Russians drink vodka, they can’t do without.

Traditional beetroot and cabbage thick soup with beef

Also my favourite out of the menu, this Borsch would certainly warm your heart and tummy on a rainy evening. It is in mind that you’ll want to sample more so the small pieces of meat that won’t fill you but the soup remains flavourful. I’d liken it to tomato but it’s alot richer without the creamyjelat feeling.

Sturgeon Romanoff

This slow cooked sturgeon is the fish which caviar can be harvested from. A breed of fish i’ve never eaten, this is what it looks like

It wasn’t my favourite but i must say it was done very well in light cream and topped with more caviar. Lightly salty but sweet, the fish meat was tough yet succulent. It doesn’t break apart like other fish do.

It almost didn’t taste like fish.

Beef Stroganoff

The final dish was slow cooked beef in creamy sauce with sauteed chanterelles and traditional mashed potato. I could taste that the mashed potato was home-made and preservative free. The meat was also extremely tender although it doesn’t melt in your mouth like foie gras or beef cheeks.

You can now drink vodka like a Russian in Singapore.

Myself and Lady Iron Chef did.

Ask for Russian Standard in clubs, bars or better yet at Buyan (tel: 62237008).

www.chrispytinetoo.blogspot.com

How to be a Great Blogger

By , April 12, 2012 5:27 am

Before, anyone who has done a makeover studio shoot called herself a model. Then, anyone who owned a DSLR called himself a photographer.

Now, anyone who writes a blog calls themselves a blogger. Blogger looks like booger in the written word, and like a booger, it’s often a flick and miss. 
The cyberspace is saturated with boogers, I mean bloggers. What makes a blogger stand out is the ability to write, the inability to write makes you miss out. You don’t need the Queen’s English to write, by the way.
You just need content. Useful, compelling, interesting, easy to read content. How then to create if you aren’t naturally interesting? Even I, get the writer’s block.

Let someone else’s inspiration get you going. 

1) Compile a list of your favourite blog posts from other blogs and give your own rendition. There’re dozens of re-written scripts in Hollywood. Taking classics and giving it another spin, directors believing they can do better than the last. It’s not plagiarism if done ethically, why invent the wheel when it’s invented? You improve it!
I sometimes seek inspiration from www.chinahush.com, it is a blog that reports the happenings in China. Largely amusing, I find some very thought provoking. 

The stories in there made my eyebrows rise countless times and my jaw drop numerous times. Write about your opinions about the societal issues, seeking inspiration from these reports.
Like this 16 year old girl who got disfigured for rejecting her male school mate, son of an official.  

She looked like this before.

What is society becoming? Share your thoughts.
2) Talking to people face-to-face physically helps generate writing content.  We may live 100% digitally in future. Facetime will replace face time.

So talk to people and ask if men prefer mermaids or centaurs as one-night stands. 
By 2020, it will become desirable and cool to stay offline. Rich customers will pay to stay offline, mark my words!
3) Ask your readers! It’s absolutely encouraging to receive readers’ mail. From these, i know i am not a schizo talking to myself online. However, don’t be deluded. There are many boogers, i mean bloggers who make themselves look popular when they are not.
4) Interview someone.  If you are someone who have many celebrity friends like my friend Estelle, you can interview them as blog content. It’s a win-win situation. Estelle is one of the few i’ve seen who was innovative and inventive enough to use this. She executes it nicely too, vlog-ing as she interviews.

I’ve written celebrity interviews for print publications which is inappropriate for posting online, however i’ve written about my encounters with Wu Zun and Liu Qian.

5) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly                                                                                   
Critics have a regular column in print, so why can’t you take a critical angle to create content too?
Pick a company, product or website and analyze the best and the worst spotted.

Or do a piece critiquing blogshop poses.

6) Reviews                                                                                                                       
Readers benefit most from reviews. Where next to go, what next to do. I myself found many new hot spots via blogs. Most of my travel itinerary was inspired by various personal blogs!

I don’t usually blog too much about what i did or where i eat because when i am doing or eating, i prefer to enjoy the moment and savour the hot food instead of being “camera ready”.

Unless i am obliged to do a blog post or an activity is simply compelling to command a post, i would.

But otherwise, i do product reviews of personal interest like The Breast Job or giving tips like cheap date ideas in Singapore.

7) Share Success and Failures                                                                                   
Write how-to posts if you’re good at something.

As narcissistic bloggers, you can impart knowledge on how-to take flattering pictures


But otherwise, sharing about your failures could resonate better with your readers. People share a common dream! My failed attempt at being an air stewardess or beauty queen.
8 ) Highlight the Best                                                                                                          
You can find my favourite posts and ones that i think i wrote best under Yummiest bits. However, if the writer block strikes and you feel guilty for not blogging too long, relieve memories and draw out old posts.

Blogs sometimes are discovered via random surfing. Old content is fresh content. Here’re the month’s most popular posts.


9) Movies & Books                                                                                                              
Some of my best posts are inspired by movies and books.

Instead of merely doing a review of it, relate it to your personal life or it could even inspire topics you could research!

Like how i wrote about the movie Aftershock reminded me of my sexist parents, how the book Sinner Takes All, a biography about a porn star reminded me to not give up hope in love. Or how Apple of My Eye reminded me of my school days (retold sarcastically) or how artistic film Sex Doll highlighted the emptiness of urban living.

10) Trends                                                                                                                                 
Checking out your blog analytics is also helpful to generate inspiration. This lets you know what people search for and what makes them click onto your blog.

Strangely enough, many people came to my site because they were searching for sea monkeys.

11) Yoga                                                                                                                                      


Some of the best inspirations occur to me when I’m exercising or practicing my ohm
In fact, witty tweets come to mind while balancing in awkward postures.

12) Expand cultural horizons    

                                                                                            

Keep an open mind, it’s the key to staying interesting.
Part of my interest in keeping a blog is because i like sharing my adventures. Whether it’s exotic travel, exotic food like whale burgers, fish sperm or maggots

Writing about SPGs always get the most comments!
So go on, let someone else’s inspiration get you going.

I just practiced what i preach.  The above post is created taking a leaf out of www.copyblogger.com

Secret Weapons of a Beauty Queen

By , April 10, 2012 5:23 am

Do you dream of that tiara? I did.

My first larger-scale beauty pageant was Miss Singapore International when i was 20. It didn’t teach me much but that i was told by Luke, the pageant trainer that i am fat at 47kg.

Then i joined Miss Earth when i was 24 but i had no advantage even though it was my second pageant. Tricks of the trade were not ingrained in my head yet.

Thus this post to aspiring beauty queens wannabe.

If you are planning to be a pageant runner, here’s what you ought to invest in or get if you see them overseas where it’s considerably cheaper than Singapore.

1) Transparent Heels elongate your calves, making you taller. They are difficult to find in Singapore and they are expensive ($70 and more).

I refused to purchase a new pair of heels and thus stood at a disadvantage to the taller girls who are even taller with those heels.

Compare No.10’s legs and mine (No.18).

Extremely high heels is also needed to kick that long gown as you sashay around.



2) Chicken Fillets are necessary.

Chicken fillets gives you the boost that most Singaporean women need. You will usually starve on the big event day, so good to have the chicken fillets that you can pull out after to eat!
I’m joking! These are the pageant queens’ chicken fillets.
                                 
Funnily, the above image is found from secretweapons.com.au, the secret weapon to obtain maximum fullness and softness!
                                 
No.2 chicken fillets are working extremely well. She stuck it on right.
Me? Disadvantaged, no chicken fillet, only fillet-o-fish.
                     
You’ll enter beauty pageants where all other contestants are regular pageant runners so they know all the tricks of the trade. I was extremely amused when at a outdoor shoot, we were asked to leap into the air for a happy jumping shot.
As we jumped, i spied out of the corner of my eye, someone’s chicken fillet flew out!!!
It was someone from the right. I think it was No. 8 or 10 or 11. No one noticed it flew out except yours truly. Also because we had to jump numerous times, sand was kicked everywhere and soon it buried her chicken fillet. I had to discreetly slide over Missing Chicken Fillet girl after the photograph to tell her she’s one boob short. She then had to discreetly feel around the mounds of sand to find where it’s buried.
3) Exaggerated Bling Bling attracts judges’ attention when the spotlight is on a group of girls. You have to OUTSHINE everyone!
I am the one on the extreme right with beige heels. No. 16 and even extreme left 14 outshone me.
Again, i was disadvantaged not knowing this trick of the trade. See below and the comparison of the contestant behind me.

 

4) Even Eyelashes need Bling

Pageant regulars stick on double falsies to make their eyes pop. Because without all that make-up, we really look like this.



5) Posing awkwardly is expected of a pageant runner. Notice the 3rd and 4th girl from the right at the bottom row, their hands are at the right positions and their feet form a perfect T. The last girl on the extreme right is over-doing it.

Me at a disadvantage, the only one who didn’t pose like a tea pot. I tip toe though!

6) Beauty is subjective. Pageant participants are expected to sell tickets to their own show, starting from $50 to even $150 per ticket. Some without drinks or food even. You will also gain approval from the organizers if you purchase ads in the programme booklet that starts from $500 to $1000 for a full page.

Don’t be disheartened if you didn’t win. Often it takes some luck, some affinity and lots of money.

 
No Photoshop, no fake eyelashes, no push-up bras.
Just real life situations.

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