Thursday, January 18, 2018

Experiences in Tokyo with Voyagin: Robot Restaurant

I hope you have been enjoying my travel posts recently! I've so far only talked about Sydney but today, I'll be sharing my first recap of my travels in Tokyo. One thing I like to do when I travel is to do experiences that's unique to that city. That's why I decided to check out Robot Restaurant in Tokyo!

On our first day in Tokyo, we strolled down the winding roads of Shinjuku in search of Robot Restaurant. I was still getting used to all the back alleys in the city as I thought a big tourist show would be on a main street. But after some searching, the bright lights of Robot Restaurant can't be missed. There's also tons of promoters outside selling tickets right before the show. If you plan on going, I do recommend buying through Voyagin (Discounted tickets including one drink and front row seats for $79 CAD, I'll get into more details a bit later).

For me, I had a bit of trouble with the whole "check in" process. We were kindly offered media tickets by Voyagin but I've never had such a hassle with a media check in process. I had to go through 3 different employees finally talking to the manager. They wanted to see my business card, which I didn't think of bringing around when traveling all day. We were told we can't come in and then they finally said okay it's fine but they they questioned where's my camera. I knew my phone would take better photos in the dark than my DSLR. It took about 30 minutes of back and forth before we finally got our tickets.

I was getting anxious as the tickets said "failure to arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled show time will result in the cancellation of your reservation" so I thought we were late. But once we were led in, we were actually shown to the waiting area. The wall paper and the decorations in the hallways and waiting room are pretty crazy and super fun to look at. There was a live performer who was very good! But I didn't really enjoy that they asked you to go early to the show just so you can buy drinks and snacks before the show.

After a while, the hostess led all of us in the waiting room down the stairs to the actual show room. I think the Robot Restaurant name threw me off as I thought we might be sitting in tables with Robots doing shows around us. But actually there is a "runway" and 3 rows of seats on each side. If you buy tickets from Voyagin, you'll be guaranteed front row seats which is a lot more interaction with the performers and better for taking photos! But we sat in the 3rd row and the view was fine too.

For the first little while, they sold more drinks and souvenirs and created a summer fair like environment. They had cocktails in a light up cup, beers, popcorn, and lots of Robot Restaurant souvenirs.

The show started with a roar, about 10 performers all started playing the drums together and it was a thundering beginning and I barely knew where to look. For the next 15 minutes, weird animals and other creatures came out in floats parade style and fought with other creatures. I was trying to figure out the plot but there really isn't any. The show itself was interesting in the sense that there is an over amount of lights and sound and you are trying to figure out what you are watching. However the intermissions every 15 minutes selling drinks and souvenirs really breaks up the atmosphere and makes it feel more like a tourist trap than a once in a lifetime experience.

I think how much you enjoy the show is based on your expectations! I was thinking that there would be high-tech robots or really skilled performers doing acrobatic dances like Cirque du Soleil. So I was a bit disappointed with the level of professionalism of the show. There's still tons of people who think it's an absolute must go and a totally unique experience. It's very hard to sum up the show as it's just meant to be an overload of all your senses! There's crazy laser lights, loud cheers, and even some flames.

I think my experience might also be biased because of how frustrating the "check in" process was. I received such warm hospitality throughout Tokyo otherwise that this experience really stood out to me.

Here you can see in the light how small the "runway" is for the robots.

If you are interested though there are at least three show times each day at 5:55pm, 7:50pm and 9:45pm, regular price of 8,000 Yen (~$80 USD). Try and grab food before or after the show as the food in Shinjuku will be much better than at the show. We went to Raamemmanrai for ramen and Bar Benfidditch for cocktails before the show and both were FANTASTIC! If you buy your tickets through Voyagin, you get a discount, a drink voucher, and front row seats. So if you do decide to go visit, make sure to get your discounted tickets online!

Make sure to browse Voyagin's huge selection of tours (over 1000!) for other unique Japanese experiences in Tokyo! A couple other activities that caught my eye on Voyagin includes the Mario Cart drive and a visit to the Hedgehog Cafe. I like that you can see so many experiences all together on one site and also Voyagin usually has discounted price compared to buying straight from the vendor!

Unfortunately the Robot Restaurant didn't live up to my expectations but I'm glad I had the chance to see what the hype is all about! If you visited, did you have a different experience? Would you add it to your itinerary when visiting Tokyo?

I received complimentary tickets to Robot Resturant coordinated by Voyagin

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Night time Skincare Routine ft. Laneige

I am SO excited to finally bring this post to you! It's literally been in the works for 6 months but the darn products are so hard to photograph that every time I finish taking photos, I'm unhappy with them and haven't been able to post!

I'm still not super happy with how some of the photos turned out but I really wanted to share my full night time skincare routine using Laneige products. I first heard of the brand 5 years ago when I lived in Hong Kong on exchange. I even bought the cult favorite Water Sleeping Mask home with me. However,  I had no where to buy more of their products but now Sephora Canada carries them (yay K-Beauty craze!). Now, I'm so lucky to be working with them and received these products to try out.

I'll be taking you through all the steps of my skincare routine, although obviously I wouldn't use all of these products every single night. But hopefully you'll find some products that'll fit in to your own routine!

Step 1: Cleansing

I love micellar water as it's so easy and fast. If you wear minimal makeup on an every day basis, you would enjoy the Laneige Vitamin Brightening Cleansing Water. This is the same idea as micellar water where you soak a cotton pad and wipe across your skin. The product removes makeup and any impurities from your skin and you don't need to wash your face after! This product has a pump dispenser and a really nice light fruity scent.

It is suppose to brighten the complexion over use, as it includes Vitamin B, C and superberry extract. But this part of the claim, I'm not too sure about.

If you tend to wear heavier makeup including liquid lipsticks and waterproof mascara, the Laneige Lip & Eye Makeup Remover might be a better fit. This product has the classic two part and you'll need to shake it to mix up the ingredients prior to using. It doesn't leave you greasy but it also doesn't leave you feeling clean so I definitely would still want to either wash my face or use the Cleansing Water. It is really good though for removing stubborn makeup!

Step 2: Mask

I used to only use sheet masks as they are so relaxing but I find them not to be so effective. I have really dry skin so I was surprised when I enjoyed the Laneige Mini Pore Waterclay Mask so much! This clay based mask dries down in about 10 mins and draws out impurities. If you enjoy seeing the clay holes on your skin, this is the product for you. I find my skin feels much smoother after using and the result is immediate!

A lot of other clay masks have a funky smell but this one doesn't! Also its slightly cooling when you first put it on and feels very refreshing. The wash off process does take a while but still better than most clay masks I've tried. The product includes a sponge to help remove the mask but I think it would be too dirty to reuse. My trick is to do these masks before I shower and I can just rinse it all off in the shower.

Side note, this is the photo I took almost 6 months ago. I've used up so much since then!

For a more nourishing mask, the Laneige Multiberry Yogurt Repairing Mask is your pick. I love the light pink packaging and it definitely smells lightly of fruit. The product contains yogurt and various berry extracts. The mask doesn't dry on the skin and stays moist. It feels very relaxing but I don't usually see any results from using it.

Step 3: Treat

Adding a serum to your routine can really help improve your skin with whatever trouble you have. The key is to make sure to use it before moisturizer. Serums usually are made so that they can penetrate the skin better than moisturizers. So whatever is in your serum can be a lot more effective at treating skincare issues than moisturizers. I liked the consistency of the Laneige Water Bank Serum, it was quite light and thin and sank in very easily. The product is formulated with hydro ionized mineral water and contains zinc, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium and sodium. I liked how this felt on the skin but I didn't notice a big difference in my skin from using this.

Step 4: Moisturize

I have very dry skin so I love a thick moisturizer in the winter time. I've been using the Laneige Water Bank Ultra Moisture Cream. The texture of this is really interesting. When you first scoop it out, it is quite thick and almost feels crumbly. But once you start smoothing it on to your skin, it softens up and spreads nicely. It is definitely a thicker cream though but not greasy at all. And I love that when I wake up my skin feels super supple.

Here is a swatch of the Water Bank Ultra Moisture Cream and the Water Bank Serum.

Step 5: Beauty Sleep

Lastly, Laneige has a few products to keep working while you sleep. One of them is the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I love the light fruity scent on this and it is very moisturizing. However, I don't like lip balms in containers as I think it's unsanitary and I don't like digging my fingers in. The product did come with a plastic scoop but I still also have trouble keeping the scoop clean.

Lastly, I have the Water Sleeping Pack which has a jelly texture and magically resurfaces smoothly. It feels cooling and hydrating on the skin and I like to use it when my skin is extremely irritated. But I don't use it super consistently as I don't like having a layer of product on my face in case I smear it all over my pillowcase and sheets. This is one of their best selling products though and I would even say the claim to fame!

Overall I'm a huge fan of the brand as I feel it exudes the fresh youthful Korean feel, and we all know Koreans are the best at skincare! I also like that the price points are set to be accessible by a large audience as most of these products are in the $30-40 range! My favorites are the Cleansing Water, Mini Pore Waterclay Mask, and the Water Bank Ultra Moisture Cream. 

Do you do all these steps in your skincare? Let me know what you would love to try from Laneige!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Givenchy Lunar New Year Collection

Welcome to my first beauty post of 2018! I always find it a difficult transition from December to January. In December, there were so many gift sets, new releases and everyone is in a spending mood that it was easy to have tons to write about. I always find it a bit hard to get back started in January especially since I try to think of what new series to write about for the year! For today, I have a very exciting collection to share from Givenchy to celebrate Lunar New Year!

The Givenchy Lunar New Year collection includes a limited edition lipstick and a limited edition powder, both of which have a beautiful Chinese inspired floral design. I think it's so great that a large international brand is choosing to do this. When I was younger, I tried very hard to be "Canadian" and didn't want to display my heritage. I think as we get older, many of us start appreciating our families and cultures more. I feel like this collection would be the perfect gift to give to your older relatives to show your appreciation of the culture. I definitely think my mom would be very pleased if she was able to receive one of these beautiful pieces. 

Sappiness aside, let's get into looking at the two items. The first is Le Rouge in Shade #305 ($45) in the signature Givenchy casing. The outside design is actually on genuine red leather with a gold floral embossing. 

The bullet pulls out to reveal a very vibrant red. I'm very happy with the color choice that Givenchy made for this collection. I think it could have been very easy to just go with a true red (think red envelopes), but the color they chose is more modern, bold, and striking. The color is very fresh and swatches a bit more pink and less orange than it appears in the tube. The color is extremely pigmented and the formula glides on in a thin layer but fully covers the lips. It doesn't hide flaky lips though so make sure to have a smooth surface!

Here is a good look at how it appears when worn. It helps to brighten up the complexion and actually doesn't look too bold. I like that the lipstick tube has details on the top, on the side, and on the actual bullet. There's definitely a lot of thought and care in the design of this lipstick that help justify its high price tag.

The second item in the collection is the Prism Libre ($69). Upon first glance, I thought this is a definite collector's item and there's no way it actually does anything as makeup. There are four sections to the powder (blue, pink, green, and purple). When mixed together, i think it's suppose to give all the benefits of color correcting. The powder has a very light rose scent to it which makes it feel luxurious.

Instructions for application is on the box, but I didn't want to dirty this beautiful cushion so I opted to use a foundation brush. I was really pleasantly surprised at the results! I thought I would end up with a white ashy film over my skin. But the powder was quite transparent and didn't really alter the color of my skin tone. The powder helped to provide a very smooth feel to the skin and also maybe it's my brain tricking me but I thought my skin looked smoother too.

It definitely does cling to dry skin though so I had some trouble with it on my forehead area. Bit I love how it looked around my cheeks. Pictured below is me using the powder on a foundation brush across my cheeks and on my forehead. I think it gives a really smooth look, but my camera's Portrait function also does blur out the skin so I'm not too sure how big of a difference you can see!

I thought the products would end at the beautiful packaging but actually both performed quite well. Yes the price is pretty hefty, but I would say some of that should be allocated to sentimental value. I think these are great quality items to gift to relatives. You will also notice detail in every corner from the logo on the lipstick tube to the logo on the powder holes. 

The two items are both now available at Sephora for a limited time.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Westin Sydney Hotel Review

An area of travel blogging I really wanted to get into is hotel reviews! Since my blog is always about reviews of makeup and skincare, I thought it would be really fitting to continue giving my opinion about "products" but this time about hotels. I haven't done it too much in recent years as I've mostly stayed at AirBnBs when I travel. But this time in Sydney, we stayed at the Westin and I want to tell you all about it!

Location: The Westin is in a fabulous location right in the middle of CBD. It’s about a 15 minute walk to Sydney Opera House but just one block away from Pitt Street Mall and 2 blocks away from Westfield Sydney where we surprisingly spent a lot of time. My biggest tip to choosing a hotel is to do it AFTER you’ve mapped out what attractions/restaurants/things you want to do are located. What you are interested in might be different than other people, and choosing a hotel that’s close to “famous” tourist attractions but not close to your own interests will put a damper on your vacation! For tips on what to see, make sure to check out my Top 10 Things to do in Sydney post!

For example, Darling Harbour is a great tourist area with lots of nice hotels, but we weren’t really interested in going to the Aquarium, or museums so it wasn’t a great spot for us. The Westin Sydney’s location was surprisingly walkable but we did have to Uber to Bondi Beach, Fish Market, and Newtown. I’m sure you can also get by using public transit but we thought it was just more efficient for two people to use Uber J

Check In: We were friendly greeted as soon as we stepped out the car. They offered to take our luggage up to the room. While we initially accepted the service, we realized it would take a while longer and we wanted to unpack immediately so we asked for our bags back. Check in was pretty smooth and they had a separate counter for SPG Gold & Platinum members.

SPG Recognition: My boyfriend has Marriott Gold and that translated to being SPG Gold as well. I like that there was a separate check in desk dedicated to SPG Gold members. We were not offered an upgrade for our room unfortunately but the front desk agent did say he gave us a room with a nice view (which had a view of the clock tower). The best perk of SPG Gold I think is the extended 4pm check out. With our flight at 9pm, this was such a great perk so that we could enjoy more of the day. It wasn't the most recognition we've had, but definitely offered the main perks.

Rooms: The two standard rooms types are the heritage (which is located in the old part of the building floors 3-7) and the tower rooms (floors 8-13). We stayed in the tower room with one king bed. The room was quite large and spacious so let's take a walk through! As you enter, you have a full size closet with mirror doors. To the right as you walk in is the bathroom which we'll go more in detail later. Into the main area is the bed, an armchair, a TV Chest, a table and a sofa chair.

I actually really enjoyed having a desk as sometimes it's just easier to use your laptop on a desk than actually on your lap. I also love that the floor to ceiling windows let in so much light. The blinds are thick though so you are definitely able to have a good sleep without worries of sunlight peeking through.

I feel like you don't often see sofachairs anymore in hotel rooms, but I have to say it is a nice addition especially with the little coffee table next to it. Our room had a gorgeous view of the tower clock. I really enjoyed sitting with a cup of hot tea and admiring the view. Another time we brought back the famous strawberry watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry!

I would say the bathroom however was the highlight of the room. The most unique and luxurious detail is the glass wall between the bedroom and bathroom. There is a blind that rolls down so if you are staying with family members, there is definitely privacy. However, for a romantic date night or travelling as a couple, it really adds a special touch. 

For two people staying here, they really loaded up on the towels. There were 4 bath towels, 4 face towels, and a couple other ones hanging around too. I love that they were so generous with the amenities so you don't feel like you have to call and wait for someone to replensih your towel supply before you can take a bath. I actually brought a bathbomb with me to take a bath and it was super relaxing especially with the Westin robe afterwards.

The other side had a toilet with a frosted glass door and a rainfall style shower with a frosted glass door. The bathroom was very spacious although would have loved a double vanity with all that space!

Everyday when we came back, the room was in pristine shape with all the amenities replenished. The bed was comfy and provided us with great sleep! I really don't have any negatives to say about the room except that some of the furniture looks dated but they are still in great condition.

Around the Hotel: The hotel is located in a corner of a much bigger building, 1 Martin Place. If you walk around the area, you'll find many interest arichetural and pretty photo backdrops. The photo above was taken at the walkways on the second floor leading to the Mosaic restaurant. You will also walk through this grand staircase (picture below) in order to get here. 

The Mosaic restaurant set up is beautiful but since we were first time visitors to Sydney, we had other restaurants we wanted to try. But if you didn't feel like leaving the hotel, this is a great option for a nice meal.

 Another option is the Lobby Bar/lounge. This actually occupies two separate areas all on the lobby level. It was really busy throughout our stay with what looked like business meetings and casual catch ups.

There is a downstairs area to the building as well with a pizzeria and another casual restaurant. I didn't go to this part of the building but it's great fun for those who want to explore. I really enjoyed the comfort of our room as well as the convenient location. However for a 5 star, I would have thought there would be a pool or a gym. I would have also loved something like a rooftop bar to really set the luxury factor. The hotel does get pretty expensive in the summer time, but for me it's worth a $250-$300 price tag. 

If you are looking for hotels in the Jervis Bay region, I've rounded up some of the best ones. If you are visiting the city, definitely check out my tips on sightseeing, drinking, and eating! Be sure to visit my travel guides page to see all my travel related posts!