6 spots to be a Sydney Hipster

IMG_33531) Foveaux Street, Surry Hills

Warehouse clubs that look like squats, girls with charity shop knits as matted as their hair, boys with ‘ironic’ briefcases…. Yes it’s London Dickheads, in the sun. The cute vintage shops on Crown Street and ghetto chic bars on Goulburn Street are worth checking out. Just don’t forget your faux rimmed glasses.

2) New Town
A mini version of Camden London.  Kings Road is a nice 1 hour wander, alternating arty design stores & niche magazine bookstores. For directions, follow the smell of vintage boutiques straight off the train platform.

IMG_33523) Balmain
A 20 min ride to from the city, there are a couple of nice pubs like The Exchange on Beattie Street. We made the visit on ANZAC day, but I’m pretty sure the vibe is just as good year round.

4) Shady Pines Saloon
Sign-less and hidden down a mystical alley in Darlinghurst a little like platform 9 and ¾, this is one of Sydney’s more ‘famous/secret’ underground bars. Although technically not as they have a website!  The decor is moose head 19th century America, the bar is menu-less, the bowls of macadamia nuts are free!

IMG_33575) Glebe
Hippy-ville turned yuppie-ville, Glebe is the closest of the inner-west suburbs to the city. Go on Saturday for the previously mentioned flee markets, and take the 10 min stroll down leafy Glebe Point Road to ooh and ahh at the cute matchbox houses and barista cafés.


6) ??? (Somewhere so hip it’s already yesterday’s pop up party/club/store)

Of course the flaw here is that if it’s blogged about. It’s already soo passé….

“How do hipsters take their coffee…. Before it’s already cool” :)

Disco Pimples: My 6 Step Chinatown Facial

cartoon-facial-masqueAsia is always such a beauty Mecca. With funky make-up schools & great skin-care concessions, Singapore is a fun city to experiment with the latest trends. Which is why I find myself having the best/worst/most sensory-fueled hour of my life in a Chinatown salon this evening. What is they say; ‘no pain no gain….’

Step 1: I meet my nice beautician Sherry, and we start like any other normal facial. Apply. Remove. Apply. Remove. Lots of potions and lotions.  One smells quite like the nice mango salad I had for lunch. So far so good.

Step 2: Sherry places an eye lotion mask on me. “Sleeping” she whispers. I’d love to, except I can hear the intriguing noise of beeping machinery? This is followed by the sudden gush of warm steam 12 inches from my head to “open my pores. ” It’s quite an odd sensation, but cozy and soothing. Regular air feels a little chilly to be honest, when after 10 mins she takes it away.

Step 3: Extraction. Which apparently is a nice word for attacking my face with the world’ tiniest miniature tweezers. It’s possibly THE most painful 7 mins of my entire life, and that includes all kinds of girly waxing.  Sherry tries to make me feel better by showing me the filth she’s prized from my face, but I can’t see for the tears streaming from my eyes. Big baby.

Step 4: Is a layer of ice-cold gel cream. I see what their game is; a little love, a little pain. Thinking that this is a mask, and I get to do more “sleeping” time, I relax. Until I hear the unnerving vibration of electric current, oozing out of a fluorescent purple glow stick?! “Disco pimples” Sherry giggles. It’s not as torturous as it sounds, but I could definately feel the heat of a laser through my gel conductor mask. I can only guess that it was some kind of UV device for skin toning? I should really check these things before one day I accidentally end up with cosmetic surgery.

Step 5: From the Pimple Disco to the bandaged mummy look. I’m bandaged over with soft gauze and then have heavy clay poured onto me like a Madam Tussauds mask. After stages 3 & 4 it’s all quite pleasant. It’s just that Sherry is quieter than a mouse, so with my eyes bandages shut it’s making me jump every time she sneaks in & reaches to see if it’s set yet.

Step 6: After a few nice spritz’s and serums I’m done! The whole treatment lasted maybe 45 mins, and I’m presented with a little cup of cleansing Ginseng to sip as a parting gift.

I leave feeling slight bemused but definitely refreshed. For around $38 budget it was defiantly worth it in the name of experimentation. For everything else there’s Groupon!

Nardia Face & Body Care, is on the doorstep of Chinatown MRT – 72A Pagoda Street, level #2. Open Mon – Sun 10.30am – 8.30pm, Prices start from $30 facials – $88. Outlets throughout the city.

Because you’re worth it…Hairdressing in Singapore

A year of sun, sand & sea certainly takes it’s toll on your hair. Plus I work in Asia now. Immaculately shiny hair is a prerequisite.

Fusion Hub, Jurong East, is at the end of the red MRT.  On the scale of budget to fancy lets say we have:

 

1) The Chinatown street barbers ($5, 70 yr old man, chair, scissors, alleyway)
2) Tony & Guy et all ($200+, supermodels, ‘products,’ wine, Vogue)

Well, Fusion Hub would be somewhere in the middle. OK it’s in a retro run down Chinese shopping arcade, but it’s quite modern & airy inside.

Their ‘Deep re-bonding’ treatments start from $30 up to $50. Apparently the price depends on whether the products are Chinese, Italian, or Japanese. A  glamorous hot pink wearing stylist with super glossy hair talks me through it all. Exciting stuff.

There’s a luxurious tub of creamy conditioner so buttery you could eat it. Plus a 100ml glass vial of magic serum that you smash to activate it. I like the drama of it all.

Being English, I’m prepared for that uncomfortable 5 min sink horror, where you feel your neck is being dislocated and a chavy Saturday Girl blasts ice water down your bra.

Not in Singapore. I behold… A flat-bed, full of cushions. It’s like an upgrade to Virgin airlines first class (I imagine.) Not one, but two staff give me a washing worthy of a dog grooming parlor, with a dam amazing head massage thrown in too.

Hot pink leggings girl reappears and the treatment itself is applied the same way dyeing is, just without the foils. I sit for 30 min under a space-age heater hat with atmospheric steam pouring out. I glance up a few times from my Shanghai fashion mags to feel like I’m in a very pleasant scientific experiment.

The whole experience took just over an hour, and was a fraction of the price you would pay in Europe, for great service too. Treat yourself!
 

Vintage Shopping on a Shoestring: Five Hidden Singapore Gems

So the second I get a job, the next posts are about holidays and shopping. Guess that’s November’s wage spent already.

The photo is of course ironic. The closest I come to Dior is accidentally walking past on my way to Marina Bay MRT.

When I say ‘shoestring’ I don’t even mean TopShop/Forever21.  I’m talking Primark/Camden Market prices, just so we’re on the same shopping wavelength.

This post is for all the ex-backpacker, vintage magpies or thrift store junkies amongst us. Enjoy!

1) Arab Street, Kampong Glam

‘Glam’ indeed. Arab Street is a warren of vintage-esq independent boutiques. Best of all they are sandwiched between shesha restaurants serving falafel and Lebanese flatbread. Do it for the food if nothing else. Some of the old Chinese shop-house stores are interconnected via secret back alley staircases along the terrace. A couple give off that ‘fashionistas only’ vibe, but others are friendly enough. It’s especially great for more quirky accessories & jewelry.

2) Weekend thrift market at Scape.

Hop off at Somerset MRT & shun that Orchard Row exit. A meer 5 min walk through the skatepark (panic not, this is not an indicator of the fashion) and behold. Words cannot describe how excited I was to first set eyes on this place;  maybe 20 or so courtyard stalls of beautiful things. It’s not just jewelry (you can pick up charms for bracelets at $2) or the free hanging rails of $10 clothes, but its gorgeous postcard sets & trinkets. Weekend only 2pm – late.

3) Bugis Markets & Little Red Dot

I’ve gushed about this old favorite incessantly, but it just gets better every visit. Floor 1: bargain fashions & a cheap nail salon in the heart of the maze if you can find it. Floor 2: More individual boutiques, nicer quality dresses, leather belts, $30 heels, and a couple of bargain bin $5 samples. Floor 3: More of the same, definitely worth the escalator ride. Although best of luck finding your way out.

4) O-Mighty Weekend Vintage Snap Um Up Store – 7 Ann Siang Hill

Since Club Street is a lovely spot for Sunday brunch anyway, it would be rude not to pop into this hidden  treasure trove. Vintage style without the second-hand smell, you can pick up one-off dresses for $16. It’s a little annoying nothing is priced and the sizes are a little on the miniscule side, but definitely worth a drop in. Plus it’s a beautiful walk back along the tiered decking of Ann Siang Park. Serenity wedged amongst the skyscrapers.

5) Home Club Weekend Flee Market – Clarke Quay

Truly a miracle if you stumble upon it, since their dates are near impossible to find advertised online, but that makes it all the more special I guess. Dam it’s a dangerous worldfor the bank balance  indeed when Singaporean girls decide to jumble sale their never-worn and immaculate wardrobes.

30 days and counting until payday…..

Khao San Road, Bangkok

Bangkok and I have always been on/off. My problem with it mainly all comes down to the fact that backpacker mecca (Khao San Rd) is disconnected from the rest of the city. I blame the notoriously hard work tuk drivers for making you regret the second you start negotiating prices, or even the BTS Skytrain for not extending the extra mile or so. Turns out all I needed to discover was the number 15 city bus that runs to Siam Square and even Mochit for just 7 baht.  Who knew? You now.

You might argue that if the location of Khao San Rd annoys me so much, I should relocate. However, herein lays my guiltiest secret of all, about somewhere it’s not really cool to like; I hold it quite dear to my heart.

Some argue that it epitomises everything that’s evil about backpackers and the world. Namely mass tourism and the bastardization of paradise. To this I say, it’s ONE 300meter road in a big wide world of ‘off the beaten track.’ Calm down haters.

Fact is, if you aren’t absolutely fascinated by life in the little microcosm you need to get off your high horse and into the gutter. Literally

For those who have never had the pleasure, picture Silver Street Doncaster or McDonalds near Oceania Leeds on any given Saturday at 3am. It’s vibrant, neon, energetic, broken, filthy, ruined, squalor. The view is as follows:

7Eleven, second hand book stall, Rayband knock offs, silk suit makers, tattoo parlour, brothel, Pad Thai noodles, Chang beer singlet stalls, guesthouse, Irish bar. The next 20 meters: 7Eleven, second hand book stall. Copy and paste.

I’ve been here enough times to have a favourite 35 baht Thai green curry stall down the road by NapPark. Same with the favourite dress stall at the end just next to the fruit shakes, and with the secret 300b guesthouse that sits down the rabbet warren backstreets near Starbucks. I suspect however that this still makes me a rookie. This place is the original veteran. There’s a sign outside M.K Tours quoting 50 baht for the airport bus. It’s faded but still readable from Khao San’s 1970’s heyday no doubt, despite the fact that the buses are all 130b now.

I arrive, as always with this place, at dawn.  I’m sure the long distance buses do it on purpose; they want you to see it at its best (or worsted?) It’s 4am, 40 degrees, it stinks of garbage, and it sounds like slurred karaoke. Ironically it’s not actually that good a night out. There are so many clubs and bars there is almost too much choice. As a result, no one is quite sure where the ‘in’ party is, so they all take to the street to watch the curb side street dancers and drink the 150 baht cheap whisky buckets.

The vantage point extraordinaire has to be a streetside deckchair outside of the fish spa massage place in the thick of the action. I’ve developed a preoccupation with what masseuses always gossip about whilst they work, presuming that most of the time that no one around them speaks Thai. In one of the busiest parlours there are at least 30 staff on duty, dragging in drunken passerbies for 100 baht foot massages. Even though they dial it down to skeleton staff in the early hours, you can still walk by here at 3am and get one done. It seems like shifts run for 24h a time. The masseuses (male and female)  never take their eyes or ears off the world of gossip going on around them, as their eyes judge the half naked, deadlocked/pierced western skanks that stagger along the road with Spy wine coolers clutched to lips. Or maybe they are my eyes, and I am judging. Sorry ladies, but the nearest beach is 3 hours away, and a bikini top does not make for an outfit. The streets are lined with markets full of beautiful clothes. Buy some!

Love KSR or loath it, it’s magnetic it its traction. Buyers, sellers, couples, one night stands, old, young, travellers, kids, hippies, flashpackers, down and outs. That’s unlikely to change anytime in the next 40 years either, but just in case, visit now, before it’s cleaned up and ruined!

Previous Older Entries

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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