Friday, September 25, 2009

BB Creams

Sorry, I've been distracted by some silly games I'm addicted to in Facebook. And since Facebook is going through an upgrade at the moment, that frees me up to blog just a bit.

I'm just being introduced to a new cosmetic, called BB Cream or Blemish Balm Cream. Apparently it's been quite a rage since last year but only last weekend when I happened to stumble upon Cleo Magazine's Sept 09 issue on Cleo's Beauty Hall of Fame. It listed Etude's BB Magic Fresh Cool Mousse as the best BB Cream. I was like, "What on earth is BB Cream?" and it didn't help that it didn't explain what it was.

So I spent some time Googling it today and it happens to tickle my fancy. If you know me, I don't wear make up unless I'm forced to. My lipstick is now 3 years old, at least, and it's still halfway through only. So this is something out of my league.

Anyway, in short, BB cream is like a foundation/tinted moisturizer that does more than that. It repairs your skin so the more you use it, your skin improves. Doesn't it sound irresistible?

I'll be hunting it down in a couple of weeks just to find out what's the big deal about it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

U2 360 - Magnificent

I’ve been procrastinating on my review of my U2 360 Tour Concert experience. Since this was my first time to a rock concert, there were a few things which I learnt which I’ll explain along the way:
  1. No one brings a backpack
  2. If you’re going to be standing, stand to the front as much as possible especially if you’re in a country where you’re considered short.
  3. Bring something to eat

The reason why I brought my backpack was because I had my bulky camera, water bottle (which I had to throw away because they didn’t allow people throwing bottles at the stage), jacket, wallet, handphone… well, I had everything except the kitchen sink. But I did use them! Still, I was the rare one holding a backpack looking like I just stepped out from a kampong.

It took us close to a full hour to reach Wembley Stadium from London city, passing through smaller parts of London, which was quite interesting. By the time we caught our first glimpses of the stadium, our excitement climbed a few notches higher. The stadium is gorgeous! And huge, of course. It was a sold-out night, filled with U2 fans to its full capacity of 88,000.

The Claw, rising 164 feet high, fitted just nicely in this huge arena but I can imagine if we were in a smaller stadium, it would have looked like an alien ready to take over the place. It takes 120 trucks to transport this moveable steel structure, takes about 44 hours to tear down and it costs USD50mil each (they have 3 so that they can move from one location to the next quickly). There’s a complete description of this structure somewhere on the internet but I’m not too bothered to read about it.

We chose our spots, surrounded by tall Caucasians guzzling beer. KS told me we would be pushed forward the moment the concert starts. However, when the concert started, no pushing happened as everyone politely stood where they were. I ended up doing the slight pushing because right in front of me was this couple who kept kissing and making out as soon as Bono started singing. So I had to move myself to put them out of my line of sight. Hello, I was there to watch U2, not to watch you two!

Unfortunately, U2 started off the concert with one of my less favourite songs of the new album, Breathe. I must say though, throughout the concert, I didn’t feel a wow factor, nor did my hair stand on its end like when I watched the DVDs. Perhaps the fact that we were dwarfed by everyone else which limited our views of the stage contributed to this. Still, I kept reminding myself that I was actually looking at them with my own two eyes. However, when I watch my small bits of recordings of the concert now, I get little thrills just remembering that I was there.

I can’t remember exactly what songs they played but I was darn glad they played Mysterious Ways, one of my favourites. Of course they played “Where the Streets Have No Name”, “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” staples for every U2 concert. For “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, Bono let the crowd sing the entire first verse. That was amazing, just hearing the chorus of voices singing. They also played a remix version of “I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight” (I just realised they have really long song titles) which was simply awesome! It gave Larry the chance to walk away from his drum set and had funky beat to it.

At one point, Bono wore a jacket that had LED lights running all over it. He also held on to a hanging microphone which swung him around the stage, much to the delight of everyone trying to reach out to touch him!

I noticed for this concert, Bono didn’t pull anyone from the audience up on stage as he normally does. Either that or I couldn’t see anything. It would have been nice to have that bit of engagement with the audience.

The two hours passed like nothing at all. Thank goodness the granule bar was enough to pacify my tummy as I didn’t feel hungry for more food, just hungry for more of the concert.

I met the other AirAsia winner, Mark, who is from Perth. He’s crazy, he had seats for the next night too, which made me wish we had our tickets from eBay for the next day too. Yeah, thinking all these while we watched the Baroque performance in St Martin’s the next day.

Would I want to watch them again? Maybe in Australia, where they plan to park one of their Claws there as a permanent concert stage. Or who knows, if I visit Grace in USA and they happen to be performing nearby…

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities - 2nd City

Paris, the city of romance. Throughout our visit, we kept checking with each other:
"Do you feel romantic?" and the constant reply was "No" despite me trying to play all those French tunes in my mind.

Anyway, first, we travelled around Paris using the carnet which we bought in 10s and saved us a whole load more than getting the Paris Visite. It also forced us to walk rather than take the Metro for short distances. Cute tickets, very small.

We stayed at this hotel called Hotel Albouy, which was simply great because it was very near the Jacques Bonsergent metro, near a water fountain which saved us loads by filling up our bottles day and night and located along a quiet street. Staff there were friendly and spoke English, this was a real bonus for us.

Plus this room had a window which overlooked some French balconies.

Upon dumping our bags, we headed off to Sacre Coeur. It was so hot that day but I had a Nutella crepe. Check out the size of the the tub of Nutella! It was 5kgs! Every crepe shop in Paris had at least one of them displayed at their counter. I was SO tempted to buy one home and Nutella myself out.

Sacre Coeur is so beautiful! This place reminded me of the movie, Amelie. We walked around the area and explored a little of Montmartre.

Next day, we went to the Louvre. The weather forecast was 36 degrees Celcious. Crazy! We got in without much problem since we bought a museum pass (real handy if you want to cut queues for certain places).

This was the handsome relief that greeted us at one of the entrances, of a man poking a sharp object into his eye. Fun.

Then there was this statue that was surrounded by so many people. Alamak, can't remember what she's called but the audio guide mentioned something about the position of her legs, how she is surging forward which makes the statue so dynamic.

So in the span of seven hours, we covered as much as we could but only skimmed the surface of the art. Mona Lisa was swamped with such a large crowd that wouldn't melt so this was my very hurried snap of her amidst the pressing crowd.


Thought this was quite an eerie statue. It ended up as a coffin for the guy who carved it or something.

Since Ron suggested we try the hot chocolate at Angelina's located near Louvre, we walked under the punishing sun, with sweat streaming down our faces, heat radiating off the pavement as we sought our cool refuge at the trendy Angelina's.

Sitting down, I tried ordering some macaroons by pointing to the menu and attempting to read the flavours in French while the waiter patiently nodded his understanding. Pausing over a particularly difficult one, the guy said, "Go on, your French isn't too bad", I shot him a look, not knowing if I wanted to kill him for making me go into the third flavour and mutilating the pronunciations or hide my embarrassment. And I ordered my hot chocolate, yep, despite the sweltering heat outside. He must have thought I was crazy.

BUT! Boy, was it yummy, thick and rich! Ooo, how I'd love to have another cup right now. Sigh.

Warmed up from the chocolate (as though the heat outside wasn't enough), we headed off to Champs-Elysees towards the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, there was something going on there with a band that played continuously so we didn't get to climb the place.

From there, we walked to Eiffel Tower. After four hours of queues and only spending about half an hour actually sight-seeing (we missed sunset as we were still in the queue), we rate this as the most overrated tourist spot. Plus it didn't help that it was a hazy day. So not worth the wait.

Day three saw us heading to the Pantheon in the morning. Saw the tombs of Voltaire, Braille and Marie Curie. Felt it was a bit too plain considering the grand structures we've been seeing so far. Still, it was an impressive building.

Then we walked to Notre Dame. Again, the queue to climb it was tremendous but this time, it was worth the wait.

It had menacing gargoyles like this one that looked like it'd like to bite your head off...

Then it had cute ones like this gargoyle looking out into the bustling city with his tongue sticking out.

And this one must be Malaysian, perpetually eating.

Pausing for a quick lunch at the Latin Quarters, we then headed to St Chapelle.

And since it was Thursday, it was late night opening for Musee d'Orsay so we walked along the Seine River which unfortunately reeked of urine. In fact, as we were walking, there was this guy in front of us relieving himself under a bridge while his hot date waited for him. Instantly, we turned to each other and asked again, "Do you feel romantic?"

Loved the interior of Musee d'Orsay. However, by that time, I was a little museum-ed out. Still, we enjoyed seeing famous paintings like van Gogh:

Whistler's Mum, made famous by a Mr Bean movie:

And THEN! This painting caught me completely off-guard. I mean, we were looking at serious art stuff, paintings, sculptures, objects and then bam! This was prominently displayed in a room of sniggering males. I had to quickly snap this because KS was so embarrassed to be seen near it.

After making full use of our Museum Pass for the day, we headed for a French dinner in the Latin Quarter, Le Petit Prince, recommended by Ron. Oh. My. Gawd. The duck I had was absolutely delicious! I must say I can't remember duck being cooked other than roasted here in Malaysia but this one was completely different, tender slices soaking in a melon sauce. Oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Sorry, no photos as I felt a little embarrassed at being so different from the crowd of fairly well-dressed diners.

Next day, we headed to Versailles, which we nearly didn't go as we were quite tired by then. Thank goodness we made the trip because the chateau was breathtaking! The moment we saw it, our jaws dropped from the sheer size of it! Even by standing so far away, I couldn't capture the full width of the palace. What's even more amazing is that the building portion is just a small part of the entire estate made up of the gardens.

We whizzed through the palace since we were eager to see the gardens. Here' s the famous Hall of Mirrors and the ubiquitous tourists.

And here are some pictures of the gardens. The word massive isn't big enough to describe this place.

We spent a good deal of our day here, resting under the shade of these trees and enjoying the of the afternoon.

There were many sculptures too. Here were some lined up towards the chateau. More photos on my flickr.

After all the hard walking, we enjoyed our dinner alfresco style. By then it was getting chilly so it was perfect. Er, we had a lot of Italian food in Paris, somehow. Guess it was something familiar and it was something we could understand from a French menu. Spaghetti? Tomate? Cabonara? Aha! I know what that means!

Paris is great, expensive and surprisingly a little dirty with the uncollected dog poo and urine smell in quite a lot of places which kind of marred the experience. Still, we were very sad when we had to return to London.