Friday, July 15, 2016

Tokyo travel tips and my story (1) Transportation in Tokyo Metropolitan area

In May, I went to Tokyo for the first time of my life and I enjoyed every second being with my beau. Tokyo is a wonderful city for tourists to experience Japanese culture but there are definitely things I wish I knew to save time, money and energy. Hence, I am writing this post to sum up my experience in a hope to help fellow travellers. 

Transportation in Tokyo Metropolitan area
Japan has one of the most complicated train system. 

To make your trip easy, remember to
1. get a free map from airport or train station!!
2. download at least one mobile app. Navitime, Yahoo transport and Tokyo Rail Map are all very helpful.
3. Get a sim card/ wifi egg. It saves live!!!
4. Plan ahead!

JR, Metro n Toei and Yurikamome are different companies. 
They don't share the same stations!
As I had never been to Tokyo before, I did not know the difference between JR, Metro, Toei and Yurikamome. I naively assumed all trains were the same and all interconnected, like V/line and normal train lines in Melbourne. 

But NO! They might have the same name but they are totally separate. JR Akihabara and Metro Akihabara are two different stations, different buildings and not interconnected! Same as Shibuya and many others! Although Google map might give you an illusion of JR station and Metro station being at the same place, please be careful when you read signs and map!
Otherwise, you could waste a lot of time!

Real life example: my hotel was in Akasaka and I needed to take the Metro Chiyoda line. Walking down to JR Tokyo train station was a mistake and taking the transit tunnel was also absolutely stupid because it was 1.3 km long. It was genuinely a torture to drag a big suitcase up and down and walk 20 minutes. All my fault and I could blame nobody. You can totally avoid it if you carefully read your map and signs.

**Decide which train company you primarily travel with **
Since each train company charges respectively, switching between JR and Metro n Toei will undoubtedly cost you extra! Therefore, it is smarter to travel with one train company (if possible). 

Also, plan ahead to see if you can be benefited from using tourist pass! Considered a return trip  between Asakusa and Shunjuku with Metro costs over 500 yen, you will definitely save money using tourist pass if you plan to juggle between a few attraction points in one day. As a tourist, you are eligible to purchase different discounted tourist pass available at airports, major train stations and selective stores. 

The key is to plan ahead based on location of your accommodation and places you want to visit.

** Suica/ Pasmo?

Suica is a NFC travel card similar to Oyster card (London), Octopus card (HK), Opal card (Sydney) and any travel card really. 
Suica can be a good if you 

  1. mostly travel with bus; or
  2. rarely need to take public transport; or 
  3. do not want to keep heaps of change; or 
  4. find it cheaper to use Suica instead of tourist pass

The best way to check price is using mobile app like Yahoo transport. Quick and easy. 

Upon each Suica purchase, You need to pay 500 yen deposit (refundable when you return the card). Although the 500 yen will be fully refunded, they debit 220 yen service fee from card credit (or full amount if your card has less than 220 yen) when you return your Suica card. If your card has no credit left (0 yen), you get the full deposit 500 yen back.

Suica with 800 yen credit left -> refund: 500 yen deposit and 580 yen
Suica with 200 yen credit left -> refund: 500 yen deposit 
Suica with 0 yen credit left -> refund: 500 yen deposit 

Therefore, try to use up every yen in your Suica!

If you don't want to use Suica, one-off paper tickets are also available for purchase.
**Choose the right tourist pass**
Tokyo Subway Ticket (24-hour, 48-hour or 72-hour) is an unbeatable champ if you mostly travel with Toei/ Metro. The cheapest way. Getting the 72-hour pass, you principally pay 500 yen daily for unlimited Metro travel! 

Tokyo Subway 24-hour Ticket – Adult: 800 yen, Child: 400 yen
Tokyo Subway 48-hour Ticket – Adult: 1,200 yen, Child: 600 yen
Tokyo Subway 72-hour Ticket – Adult: 1,500 yen, Child: 750 yen

If you primarily travel with JR East, get a Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass which costs 750 yen daily for adult.


If you need to take JR and Metro or Toei, Tokyo Tour Ticket (daily ticket) might work for you. It is quite expensive costing 1,590 yen for adult and 800 yen for child. It is not worth it unless you travel multiple times a day with both JR and Metro or Toei.

Please check the maps and see if the ticket pass covers where you want to visit. You will be asked to pay extra if you travel to area outside of the designated zone! 

Special - JR TOKYO Wide 3-Day Pass (10000 yen for adult and 5000 yen for child)

10000 yen is not cheap but you can use it travel 

  1. to Fuji mountain although you will need to switch 2+ trains
  2.  to Karuizawa via Shinkansenwhich is a popular surburb
  3.  to Utsunomiya via Shinkansen for gyoza  
  4. to Tochigi for wisteria (bloom in April and May)
  5. to Nikko for hotspring
  6. Between airport and CBD/ suburb 
  7. to any suburbs listed on the map above.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Impressive - Essence Long Lasting liquid eyeliner

  When I first saw Essence Long Lasting liquid eyeliner at Priceline, I never expected it to be anything exceptional. Yet, it outgrew my expectation and it truly is one of the best drugstore liquid eyeliners I have tried. 

  Western liquid liners have the most boring packaging and this one is no exception. This eyeliner comes with felt tip applicator in a plain black tube. Nothing fancy. The tip was surprisingly 'dry' in first couple uses, yet the ink replenished the tip and application did get much smoother after a few uses. Although felt tip is not as precise as brush tip from Dollywink or K-palette (Japanese brands), Essence liquid eyeliner works well on drawing normal eyeline or wink eyeliner. The only downside is its semi-
glossy finish as I do like matte black.

  Its lasting power is incredible. My eyeline did not smudge under 35 degree heat in Melbourne summer. It also survived 40+ Celsius Onsen and Sauna in Tokyo. My fiance splashed water on my face and it remained perfect. It stays on as long as you pet dry and do not rub.
Overall I am impressed and it is a very good drugstore option. Definitely worth trying.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Priceline 40% Off Skincare Haul (II)

  My Priceline parcel arrived yesterday and it only took one day from ordering to delivery!
Cannot be happier <3 nbsp="" p="">
Although Priceline website is quite a pain to use, the service is very good and speedy.

Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask ($30) - It has been raved by many well-known bloggers and I am excited to try it! 
Sukin Facial Moisturiser ($6) - Sukin is my mum's favourite and this one is for her :)
Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner ($6) - Affordable and soothing toner and it is a repurchase
Sanctuary 5 Minute Thermal Detox Mask ($15) - I use face mask less often in winter because I dislike the cooling sensation it gives, so this thermal mask sounds perfect for me.
NeoStrata Introductory Kit ($12) - AHA is one of my well loved skincare ingredients and $12 for a NeoStrata kit ? Take my money!
Iluka Starter Kit ($16)  - It is a repurchase because I love the eye gel so much! Her products are brilliant considered the price.

I also purchased Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Antiseptic Cream ($5) and Thursday Plantation Eucalyptus Oil ($3.5). Handy to have in my kit anytime of the year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Priceline skincare 40% off + Haul

  Priceline is currently having 40% off all skincare products! They only offer this discount twice/ thrice a year and it is the best time to stock up. I made an online order but also went to my local Priceline for exclusive sets/ new releases. It is part of what I purchased and I still have a parcel on delivery. Massive damage!

  I am a big fan of French skincare and I began using bioderma about 12 years ago. French skincare products are exceptional and they deliver fantastic results for fairly affordable prices. After 40% off, the prices at Priceline are close or even cheaper than UK online stores (lookfantastic etc.) and it is definitely a great chance to stock up.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse oil ($24)- It is not a necessity but an absolute pleasure to use during 
Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($27) - Finally the pump version is back in stock! Yeeeeeah!
Bioderma Sensibio Mask ($24) - A lovely, soothing mask.summer time. Spray it on arms and legs for sexy glow and it has great aroma as well.
La Roche Posay Cicaplast B5 ($9.5) - One of the winter saviors and works well to repair my dry, damaged skin.
Uriage Bariederm ($11) - Another winter savior! I do use it on my face for my incredibly dry skin although most people use it only for hands and body, I love how it forms a waterproof barrier protecting my skin, even stronger than embryolisse (embryolisse can be used before makeup but this one can't).
La Roche Posay Effaclar Starter Kit ($10) - cheap and cheerful
La Roche Posay BB cream ($20) - new release!

Manuka Doctor Apinourish Introductory Kit ($24) - Really good value considered it includes a face mask, a day cream and a night cream [25ml each]
Natio Facial Cleansing Balm ($9) - Cleansing balm has been hugely popular in the UK skincare market but Natio is the only brand in Priceline carried a cleansing balm. Keen to see how it works!
Trilogy Rosehip Oil & Antioxidants ($18) - My mum is a massive fan of rosehip oil and this one is for her.
Indeed Laboratories Sample Trio ($9) - Hydraluron is one of my favourite but I have yet tried nanoblur and snoxin!
Essie Nail Polish in Fall in Line - My local Priceline has selected shades on clearance for $9. I also used a $7 off coupon from Essie page so I only paid $2 for it!Weeeee!

Lucas Paw Paw ointment (25g) is out of stock across all branches and I cant even get one :( 
Our tourists love it a bit too much haha

When I was at Priceline, a mysterious lady (not in uniform or staff ID) stood in front of Avene shelves and tried to talk anyone who were looking at La Roche Posay or other French brands into getting Avene products. Interesting strategy but I don't buy into it.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The best red nail polish

  When it comes to red nail polish, tone and formula are my major concern. I have tried numerous red nail polishes and I am happy to announce - I found my true love!

  Revlon Colorstay Longwear Nail Enamel in 080 Delicious is my perfect red nail polish. The formula is beautiful! Impeccable consistence not too thick nor watery, easy application with a flat brush, incredibly quick drying time and smooth glossy finish are all in this little bottle. Pigmentation is great which one coat gives 80% opacity. 

  It is a beautifl bright scarlet which works well with my yellow undertone. Love it! The swatches above shows how it looks in one coat without top coat. You can tell it is very glossy and the finish is almost gel-like.  Longevity is alright and it begins to chip after 3 days. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

Mac Lipstick - Girl About Town (Amplified)

  I am not the biggest fan of magenta, yet MAC Girl About Town is truly a beautiful lipstick.

  MAC official website describes it as a bright blue fuchsia. Most swatches I saw on internet display it as almost a hot barbie pink, yet I think Girl About Town is one of those lipsticks vary based on your skin tone and skin colour. The paler and more pink is your skin, the brighter and more blue this lipstick shows. On my NC25-30 skin with prominent yellow undertone,  Girl About Town appears as a vibrant neutral fuchsia and does not excessively emphasize the yellow from my skin. 

* Girl About Town with clear gloss
  It has the typical vanilla fragrance of MAC lipsticks and I have no problem with fragrance in makeup. Amplified formula is not moisturizing at all and I always top it with some gloss to sooth the dryness. It has good longevity and able to hold approximately 6 hours. 

  A cheaper and more moisturising alternative is Revlon Lip Butter in Lollipop which is the sheer sister of MAC Girl About Town. Revlon Lollipop also has slight shimmer and gives glossy finish instead of satin finish. 
  Since MAC Girl About Town is quite long-lasting and leaves a touch of stain after its wear, often I put on MAC Girl About Town at home and carry Revlon Lollipop on the go for touch up.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Product Empties / Clean-out time!

  Recently I dug into my makeup collection and tossed away some old products which I used up or I dislike.

Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Maximum Volume Mascara *Used up
I got this mascara for $10 at dutyfree. It was okay and nothing amazing.

Fiberwig Paint-On False Lashes Mascara
Hugh disappointment!! I first purchased this mascara when I was in high school and I was absolutely stunned. That was the reason why I repurchased this tube and paid ~$25. I am not sure if they have reformulated the product or my expectation has changed, now I actually think it is crappy. It was very 'wet' and did nothing to lengthen or volumise my lashes :(

CoverGirl Lash Blast Waterproof Mascara *Used up
I did like this mascara. It didn't have the most amazing lengthening or volumizing quality, yet it did one thing - it kept the curl! That is the most important thing for my short and straight lashes. Would repurchase if I finish my backups ;)

Benefit They're Real! Mascara *Used up
It used to live in my makeup bag and I miss it! It was a decent mascara and I actually enjoyed it more when I first used it instead of after two/ three weeks (unlike most mascara). It didn't smudge easily and worked well. Luckily I still have another 2 deluxe samples received from beauty events :P

MaxFactor Max Effect Dip-In Eye Shadow
I received it as a gift of purchase and I just didn't use it. The eye shadow powder was really to coarse and didn't adhere on my eyelids well. Straight to the bin and no regrets.

MaxFactor MasterPiece Eye Shadow
I tried to use it up although it neither lasted long or worked well as a base. I prefer waterproof/ water-resistant products since my eyes are very sensitive and they water a lot. Would not repurchase.

BCL BrownLash Ex eyeliner *Used up
A decent product but it was 1. pricey and 2. could only be purchased online. I think Maybelline Master Precise liquid liner is a good substitute, therefore no repurchase.

MAC Paint Pot in Chilled On Ice *Used til unusable
Not a big fan. Very glittery and the glitter fell off after an hour onto your cheeks.
Not impressed. No repurchase.

MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study *Used til unusable
Back in the day, I used it everyday as my base and I was truly in love with it. But now Maybelline Color Tattoo and other drugstore brands produce lovely and affordable cream eye shadow. $35 for a MAC paint pot is not worthy for me anymore. No repurchase ;)

Mac Fluidline in Blacktrack *Used til unusable 
My second pot. It was dark, smooth and lovely in the first month but it simply dried up too quickly. I do prefer MAC fluidline over the Bobbi Brown one. Yet, it is unlikely I will repurchase since drugstore brands now have so much affordable and excellent options.

Natio Lip Color in Flutter
A gift of purchase. Dark mauve color did not look flattering on me. Also that cheap makeup scent really turned me off!

Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Rose Passion
I love the Moisture Renew line and the neutral shades are beautiful. However, this red one really didn't work well and kept bleeding everywhere. I wear lipliner, stain or sear to prevent it from bleeding but nothing helped.

Rimmel Natural Bronzer SPF 8 in 022 Sun Bronze
Another gift of purchase *cramp* but it was way too red/ warm! I had it in my collection for 4 years and eventually decided to throw it away since I had hardly used it.