Sunday, November 20, 2022

Hong Kong ... November 2022

November 20, 2022 ~  My trip to Hongkong to visit the Megashow was indeed challenging . A bit problematic due to the on going Covid 19 health restrictions so not too many tourist were willing to visit the event.  I would say it wasn't a hassle coming into HK coz I got my antigen result handy for inspection at all times. My real problems came once I was already out of the airport.

As a foreigner, I have to do a daily swab in my hotel room with a confirmed negative result  and no fever at all for 4 straight days. results to be submited to the health authorities before going out of the hotel room.

 Even Getting a mandatory PCR test on the 2nd day  of arrival in their respective health centers even offered for free was such a hassle too. I walked from my hotel to the health center for about 45 mins per trip following google map rather than taking a taxi. Lucky there was a park  in Causeway Bay  { Victoria Park ) along the way so I just walked as if I was sight seeing in the said area. It was very tiring in the heat of the sun. So the trees  in the park was very helpful in cooling me down since I  was wearing a mask outside which was also mandatory. 

The park views did great for my pic taking as a tourist though. 👍👍👍

Being able to save money by not taking a taxi, I was able to have more funds for my shopping in Causeway Bay. Happy shopper on the loose ... LOL!

During all these days of tests with totally negative results, I was still banned from entering all kinds of restaurants , bars & public indoor events. Lucky the Megashow event at the exhibition center was an exception.  I was able to enter the venue at the Hongkong Convention & Exhibition  Center in Wanchai for 2 days without any restrictions at all. 

Thank God !

But I was saddened to see that not too many visitors came to participate in the event especially those from overseas. I guess I was just one of the very few from abroad who was eager to see the event then.  😕😒

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my 2 days of seeing what they had in the Megashow. At least it gave me an idea if I should go or not for next time. 

Back to my major problem , I had a hard time looking for a place to sit down & eat a decent meal during my stay in HK ~ anywhere around Wanchai where my hotel was located.
Even my hotel won't take me in their restaurants. I could only ask for room service food but I prefer not to eat in my room coz I don't want to make the room stink from leftovers or dirty dishes sitting in there , Oh no no no !  

So I ended up roaming the streets of Hongkong instead. 

 Bravely taking the MTR ( Mass Transit Railway ) crossing back n forth  from Tsim Shat Tsui to  Kowloon & vice versa on my own . It was my very first time to use the subway on my own after so many years of my travels to Hongkong. I realized It was fun ... but the long walks underground is not for the weaklings. Lucky I got rubber shoes on . There was a lot of walking and going up and down escalators ! Although great for those looking to shed some pounds . That's me LOL !

I had been walking around,  day & night just to find places offering take away food during my stay in Hong Kong.  

Lucky I didn't need to walk too far on my 1st  night of arrival coz I  found some bakeries selling good bread with fillings enough for my hunger  just a block away from my hotel. Very cheap but good stuffs ... and coffee / tea were available in my room. I just needed to pass any 7 Eleven  to buy some cold drinks to put in my little room fridge. 👏👏👏


  I even managed to find fruit stalls , take away dimsum and warm food in unexpected areas while I was wandering in Kowloon after taking the MTR the next day . 😁😂

While navigating other places everyday, I enjoyed some night time sceneries of  Hong Kong as well. The lighted  buildings, streets and  sea were a sight to behold . So so beautiful !

Night time was ok to walk around in well lighted places on my own as long as in earlier times. I don't walk around when it was very late. I prefer to keep safe by being back to the hotel by 9pm and walking home where most people walk as well.

 But one day, I even ended up in a scary neighborhood somewhere past Kowloon  during the day time.  I noticed police officers in uniforms watching me walk in the narrow, unfamiliar streets too. I have no idea I was already gettimg into unwanted places & for an obvious solo female tourist like me  , these places were considered " Don't Go there " kind of areas.  Thanks to these 2 police guys for watching over me as I stroll around not really knowing the dangers I could be in until I noticed their presence and asked myself why they had been following me for quite sometime. Then I got the hint when I saw  local street guys smoking along the streets staring at me from head to toe. Uh oh .... time to head back to the train station then. no need to walk even further forward!
Note : lucky it was broad daylight when I was wandering out there too and found out I had gone too far that there were no more shops around but residential areas. Very spooky places with suspicious looking people indeed !

Now I had experienced seeing the outskirts of Hongkong!
But still, I walked a lot and got my wandering self into the subway trains to navigate more places everyday. Luckily I found some beads / craft shops in Sham Shui Po. I found all sorts of things out there. Beads, threads, wires, metal findings, textiles, laces, silks, etc. I just bought some metal findings I can't find in Singapore and few items where the price is cheaper compared to what I buy in Singapore beadshops. 

Aside from these beadshops in Sham Shui Po, I even managed to visit their Jade Market located in Jordan, Hongkong which is also just a few train stations away. I just took the MTR to transfer to the area. Riding the train was so fun and economical rather than taking a taxi in Hongkong. I had saved a lot on travel fares .... hurrraaayyyy ! I got more shopping money then ... ha ha ha 😂😂😂

I was so happy to find souvenir items for myself on this trip. I got hold of some Pixiu to add to my personal Crystal  Pixiu collection while I was in the Jade market. The Fuchsia colored agate pair of Pixiu caught my eye immediately due to its unique and eye catching color. I had never seen anything like this pair in Singapore or anywhere else. not even in Philippines too. They were so unique .... but pricey of course !

Still, despite of the over price, since I like the Pixiu, I bought them !
Crazy me ! 😀😍😆

I also found some other nice souvenir items in the Jade market but I didn't buy anymore coz so many of the sellers were so unfriendly  and not willing to bargain for a reasonable price. Prices had rocketed after knowing I'm a tourist so I just left and I guess it would be my 1st & last to visit the place.  Sorry but true ... I know most of the prices and value of most of their items coz I am exposed to jewelry exhibitions. So no way Jose I would buy more items for such prices which I know I can easily find cheaper in Instagram live selling platforms. the Pixiu items were more than enough for the shopping that day. 

The Cinnabars and bangles below were also beautiful but never mind ... I don't need them anyways. I was happy and contented with my Pixius in my bag 😍😍😍

I also found oyIer 

Anyway, it was a shopping experience I could share to all of you in case you are planning to go and visit the Jade Market in Hongkong. Always be aware of the items they sell. Scout around first before buying anything. Although there are still other vendors you can trust like the old lady I bought my Pixiu from , She had been very accommodating, super patient with me , was very helpful and nice .

Always remember , Walk away immediately if they are way too unfriendly and pushy. 

Rule of Thumb :
If unfriendly, walk away fast !


Monday, October 31, 2022

October 31st , 2022 ~ Another month is coming to its end and what better way to bid it goodbye than to have fun and enjoy while we can right ? Yesterday was my friend's birthday celebration and she had planned for us to go out celebrate her special day in time for halloween. 🎃🎃🎃

All 3 of us were dressed up as Snow White ( Matet the celebrant ), Medusa ( Zeenat)  & Morticia ( me 😁 ).

Clark Quay was still quiet around 6:30pm so Zeenat & I were still able to scout the area for a better party venue eventhough we were already booked in Cuba Libre for drinks & dinner. Unfortunately, due to on going renovations in its Block, Cuba Libre Cafe & Bar had been relocated to an area away from the busy center of Clark Quay. So we contemplated for a while whether to enter in Cuba Libre or find somewhere else and cancel the booked table for 6:45pm. 

It didn't take us long to decide to get a new table and stay at Warehouse Bar instead. It has a good lively ambience and located straight right beside the middle area where a stage for a live band to play was placed for Halloween celebrations. Perfect place to have a view, listen to the live band and see all the passing people in costumes or the rest of the general public. 

 Great decision ! 

Then the food came flowing... as well as the drinks which were 50% off the price since it was happy hour till 7pm. 
What a bargain !  But of course I got mocktails for my drink since I was the assigned driver like as usual. . I needed to be a responsible driver... he he. 
So Snow White & Medusa had good reasons to be drunk. Lol! 

Of course I had worn my Morticia outfit with my Halloween themed jewelries too. I had my lariat necklace, Earrings and bracelet with the Metal skulls in Hematite Color mixed with Siam Red / Silver Shade Swarovski Bicones & Round Crystals for a more sparkling effect. Of course they never fail in making people give me compliments on how I look with my jewelries on .... success !

But eventhough it was fun celebrating halloween in Singapore, it was't same for other places. Sadly, Korea had suffered from a worst scenario.

" In Itaewon, South Korea, more than 150 people were killed in the Halloween stampede, accdg to officials last Sunday,. South Korea's president vowed for a full investigation into one of the country's worst-ever disasters.

street in Seoul's Itaewon district is pictured full of Halloween revelers before a stampede killed and injured hundreds.   © Yonhap/Reuters

The crowd surge and crush hit in the capital's popular Itaewon district, where estimates suggest as many as 100,000 people -- mostly in their teens and 20s -- went to celebrate Halloween Saturday night, clogging the area's narrow alleyways and winding streets."

So, I guess we will all mourn for this partygoer'sntragic fate and wish that they may all Rest in Peace! 


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Buying Stuffs Online

October 2022 ~  Listen everyone. Specially artists / artisans out there who love beading and acquiring their materials online just like me . I got here some tips for you to learn & consider seriously  which are solely based on my recent experiences. 

I am really so fond of buying my beads online mostly from overseas over the last few years. Aside from several trips to my local beadshops here in Singapore  which now came down to just 2 trusted shops located in Chinatown, I do buy most of the stuffs via Instagram or ordering from online shops like Fire Mountain Gems, Pandahall , Etsy, etc. No more Ebay though coz I had ceased to deal and sell in that platform since 2018.

My designs require a lot of semi- precious stones so I made sure I can find them from sellers which unfortunately are based mostly oversea ~ Indonesia, India, China and the US.  So my shipping costs is somewhat a big pain in my budget especially if I buy from different sellers. But lately, Instagram sellers had fixed their postage costs to US$5- up to $7 no matter how many pieces you buy from them. Sigh of relief when purchasing bulk items !

But then again, shipping cost is not the only main factor to look at when trying to buy beading materials online and at the same time minimizing the costs incurred. Product Quality and seller service must be added to the main factors too.

Things to Check When Buying Your Materials Online :

1.  Online Photos Of Item

 I often had this problem of items I had received were not the same as how it looked in the photos online when I bought them. The colors were totally enhanced in photos making them look either more bolder or lighter in color for a more appealing. look but at the same time deceiving the buyer. Some beads got polishing defects like little minute cracks not seen in pics and some chips behind or by the sides not shown on videos as well. It's a rule of thumb to ask seller to show the whole or certain parts of the said items you are not sure of if you;\'re really keen to buy it. Don't hesitate to Ask the size / dimension as well. Some of them look bigger/ smaller than the actual item.  Let the seller measure their items just to be sure you're getting the measurements right. No point in blaming each other after the sale for not checking the item properly. 

It can be troublesome for sellers to perform this but hey, if they need your business, they will do it and go an extra mile. Trust me. Customer service counts big time in making a sale. 

2. Product Familiarity

I always buy semi precious stones in Cabochon Shape ( my prefererred and favorite )  items which were normally called the flatbacks. Some sellers say they 're  cabochons  but said items will come out to be dome shape in both sides. 

Some sellers are not familiar of the shapes and names of what they are selling so a buyer should always have a sample picture on hand to show them for comparison with what the sellers have available in their stocks. This way,  confusion will be avoided and a buyer get the right type of stone really needed for the beading project / design. 

Not only shapes / sizes, the name of a particular stone  must also be provided for easy counter checking with the invoice. This way a buyer Can differentiate one item from the others especially if they had ordered in bulk and most items look almost similar with each other in the order. If a seller is familiar with all the products they sell by heart , he is a reliable business person who can name all his merchandise no matter what. 

3. Packaging & Shipment. 

It's always a good part of the seller's service to track the parcel sent and update the buyer and that buyers receive their much awaited package on time without any damage. Buyers spending  their  hard  saved $$$ for shipment /packaging costs only expect their items to be well wrapped to arrive in good condition and in specified time. 

 I had several shipments were items were broken especially the Crystal clusters and towers which were delicate and needed bubble wraps and a stronger thick box for extra care. A good seller would do that normally. But some sellers were cutting costs and only re-use newspapers to wrap items and place them inside recycled boxes and delay the posting of the parcel to await for more orders to add.  A big No no no !

 Inform them of the seller of their shortcomings ( I always do ! ) and let them either refund the damaged item's cost or replace the item with a similar one with free shipping or they must try to compensate buyer for the ite's damage..  

Despite of sellers cutting their packaging costs, I had also encountered some sellers who on the other hand were too generous and had wrapped my crystals and bead items endlessly with rolls and rolls of toilet paper before putting them in rolls and rolls of bubble wraps then rolls of scotch tape all around! .Yes, no joke ,so space consuming and adding more weight need for such at all ,, toilet paper  ? indeed !  i had saved them for wiping dusts at home or wiping water drops on the floors or for even more recycling purposes. Matter of truth is It took me months to finish using all these rolls . 
 Holy Molly ... praise the toilet paper ! 
No wonder people went in panic during the toilet roll shortage few years ago. 

Wa ha ha , made me laugh so hard ! 🤣🤣🤣

My word of advice to sellers out there. please don't put too much tape all around the items like it was totally mummified ! I hate cutting layers and layers of tape with scissors / cutters coz they had made so many of my sharp scissors/ cutters dull and totally useless afterwards.  Extremely troublesome with excess tape . So please don't do that !

Hellooooo ... Please please hear me ! 

Last but not the least is :

4. Customer Feedback 

This is the best part now. One way of knowing if the seller can be trusted and come up to buyer's expectation is to check their customer's feedback .Customer feedback is the information, insights, issues, and input shared buyers about their experiences with the company or seller, product, or services. This feedback guides improvements of the customer experience and can empower positive change in any business — even (and especially) when it’s negative.

 A negative score even less than 3 is considered  already a red flag for me. I would surely hesitate and worst is to ignore them and not buy any item from them at all. Why take a risk ? so, What about you ?

Ok, Tricky sellers can only make business with me once and that's it whenever I find flaws in their service & quality of sent products. I had paid the amount they need so they should give me the items and service I had paid for. Not defective craps they wanna get rid off and not their being such a cheap charlie attitude in cutting packaging costs to profit even more.  Good service , Confidence and Trust are the keys to a repeat buyer. Think about that ...
By the way
Oh and By the way, let me say a big thank you to all my repeat sellers who had gifted me for my orders and putting up with my meticulous ways.
 Thanks much greatly for your generosity. 
Looking forward to keeping a good business relationship with you in the coming years.