welcome to julietours

Who am I?

Hi! I’m Jules, avid traveller and snapper-up of all kinds of novel and unusual things I happen across en route.

For more details on me and my website, please follow the links along the top of the page.

What is www?

www stands for weird, wacky and wonderful.

Some of the things you’ll find on this site are ‘almost’ what you’d find at home, but then again, not quite… see which ‘w’ you think they might be.

What is Julietours?

Julietours is the sort of travelling experience I am notorious for organising, and either of my daughters could tell you that ‘adventure’ is not always the right word. See the link above for some of the gruesome details.

Recent Works

Latest Blog

Mouthwash Sachets

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‘Experience this innovative mouthwash!’ boasted the packet – ‘The latest oral hygiene etiquette product!’ Who could resist? This Propolinse mouthwash comes in a box of 6 handy 12ml one-use sachets. They are rather convenient as something to keep in your bag for after lunch, or if you are still scarred by that time your travel-sized

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Toothbrush Sanitiser

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They say you should replace your toothbrush every month or so, and even sooner if you have been suffering from a sore throat or other mouth-related problems. This sounds like perfectly good advice, as – if you think about it – just rinsing off your brush after using it means bacteria from your mouth mostly

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Fairy Puff Ice Cream Toastie

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The main draw here is the machine which makes this treat possible – a sort of toasted sandwich maker but with a domed lid. Somehow it manages to toast and seal 2 halves of a bread bun whilst NOT melting the ice cream that forms the filling. Everything else is window dressing and here there

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Cleansing Powder

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Always a fan of skin care products that can be transported easily in hand baggage, I was intrigued by these tiny cones of cleansing scrub. No liquids here to consider as you decant items into small containers for a holiday. From Korean company Skylake, this is a weekly scrub rather than a daily cleanser, but

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Sweetcorn Soda

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Only in Asia, where it is perfectly normal for something Westerners see just as a vegetable to turn up as dessert. I have tried sweetcorn flavoured ice cream, toyed with sweetcorn (and red beans) sprinkled over sundaes, but absolutely could not face drinking this sweetcorn soda, which is a new taste sensation on offer in

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Penguin Cool Bath

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Sometimes I have to try things even though I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like them much, and this particular product falls firmly into that category. I love a bath, but definitely prefer the water to be as hot as possible. The last time I willingly stepped into a cool bath was shortly after

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Chocolate ‘Chip’ Ice Cream

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Chocolate chip ice cream, but not as you know it! The ‘chips’ are actually bits of crinkle cut potato crisp, mixed with the molten chocolate into which the soft serve cone is dipped. Chocolate covered potato chips are increasingly common – a lot of Asian confectionary companies are now producing them in a variety of

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Nasi Lemak Sushi

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I’ve featured nasi lemak before – it’s a favourite local dish, of Malay origin, made with coconut rice, fish, egg, cucumber and a spicy sauce. Often it comes packaged in a banana leaf for lunch, although I have also seen it deconstructed and layered so it looks very much like a slice of lasagne. Either

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Double Thai Tea

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This ‘2 for the price of 1’ idea amused me greatly, and the slightly unusual flavours were a bonus. The way the container is divided means you can have 2 different flavours in essentially the same space, and the lid has holes for a different straw in each half. The cup holds a large amount

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Candyfloss Burritos

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Pastel is clearly the new black, at least when it comes to food trends aimed at the youth of Singapore. The latest, offering itself as a ‘rainbow unicorn snack’ is dubbed the ‘candyfloss burrito’, although as far as I could tell it comprised neither of these items (and I shall gloss over the missing unicorn…)

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Shiok Ah Ccino

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August 9th is National Day in Singapore, and it’s always accompanied by massive displays of pride in the achievements of this tiny city state. And that covers not just the National Day Parade or the Singapore flag flying proudly from most residential windows, but special edition Singapore-themed items ranging from red and white T shirts

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Ginger KitKat Balls

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I can never resist the lure of a new type of KitKat, and there are so many amazing and/or outrageous varieties to be had in Japan that your taste buds can go into shock (wasabi and soy sauce, anyone??) These ginger tea flavoured KitKat balls were a welcome contrast to some of the odder things

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Resealable Cans

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Plastic water bottles have a terrible impact on the environment… we generally use them once then throw them away, meaning that quite apart from the landfill problem, around 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the sea every year. Recycling is the answer, and these particular aluminium cans apparently have the best recycling rate

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Ninja Ice Cream

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You know you always wanted to try ice cream ‘based on ninja stealth and invisibility technique’…. Here was my chance, with the exclusive ‘black gold’ cone from Kyorollen, at Emporium in Bangkok. It comes at the premium price of 159 Thai baht, but for that you get a creation which is put together by hand

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White Henna

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I love henna, from the traditional, intricate, Indian patterns to the more modern and dramatic Arabian designs, even the fun, brightly coloured versions which have appeared in the last couple of years. White henna is apparently the latest thing, and is a star attraction at the Ramadan market in Singapore, so I was very keen

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Cherry Blossom Chocolate

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It isn’t even cherry blossom season any more, but I had never seen this version of Dars before so felt honour bound to try it. To be honest, I am not a great fan of the sakura taste, although I have consumed it in tea, ice cream, and no end of delightful cakes where there

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Unicorn Cafe

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Tragically, no actual unicorns, but a great many toy ones and enough rainbows to make your head spin. Welcome to the Unicorn Café in Bangkok! This is hidden down a side soi off Sathorn Rd, and was surprisingly hard to find, but once you are engulfed by the swirling pastels of the decorations, you wonder

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Blue Pea Tea

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You know how it is when one day you’ve never heard of a certain thing and the next it is absolutely everywhere… suddenly it seems I cannot get away from blue pea tea. Sometimes also known as butterfly pea, the blue pea is actually a flower, which is dried to be used not just in

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Tok Zen

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This is Thai massage with a twist and not for the faint hearted – alongside using pressure from the hands, knees and elbows in the traditional way, a wooden hammer and chisel are also deployed to work the meridians (or zen) of the body and unblock the flow of chi. The story is that this

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2 in 1 Potato Crisps

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Top marks to whoever at Lays Thailand came up with this hilarious idea. Helping you out with that tricky choice between favourite flavours of crisp, they have launched these 2 in 1 packs. Each contains a pair of tastes which complement each other nicely – one being the main event and the other the sauce.

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Placenta Beauty?

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This is a tricky one… depending how you look at it, using beauty products which contain placenta could even fill you with horror and disgust. And that is without considering if the placenta involved comes from humans, sheep or pigs. There’s also the worry that scientific studies on the use of placenta have so far

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Umbrella Bag

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This is one of those things which you never knew you needed but swiftly discover you cannot do without… I mean, you know how annoying it is when you go into a mall or get on a bus carrying a wet umbrella. It drips everywhere, sticks to your legs, or water gathers dangerously in the

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Flying Noodles

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Sometimes a meal looks so spectacular that you don’t want to spoil it by eating it. Like these flying noodles, the piece de resistance on the menu at Hana restaurant in Singapore. Cold noodles served with dipping sauce are a staple on Japanese menus, and very refreshing in hot weather, but here they have (quite

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Peeling Kit

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This was new at Etude House, and I rather liked the suitcase design of the packet, not to mention the fact that a proper peeling is quite an expensive business and these kits were very good value. The packet pulls apart into 3 handy sachets, and you start at the bottom with the peeling swab.

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North Korean Wine

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Tensions are very high between North and South Korea right now, with chances of a political rapprochement appearing slim. Yet not that long ago, relations were good enough for a rail line to be built joining the 2 countries. For almost a year, starting in December 2007, one freight train a day crossed the border,

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Nose Wax Kit

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It’s not that I have a particular problem with nose hairs, just this home care kit I saw in Tokyu Hands looked unusual enough to try. And in theory this is quite an interesting idea – using wax to remove unwanted hairs in the same way you might groom your legs. The note on the

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Water Brush

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This is one of those supremely useful inventions that you did not know you needed until you saw it. It’s a paintbrush, but a hollow plastic one which holds water and feeds it through a tiny valve to the brush itself. Ideal for those artistic moments when you turn a drawing made with those wonderful

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Eyescream

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This is so silly it was irresistible. New in Singapore, apparently from Barcelona, this is shaved ice cream presented like a cute and swirly monster. Big cylinders of the ice cream are stored in freezers at the back of the stall – choose your flavour and it is popped into a machine which spins to

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Man ‘Blotters’

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Facial ‘blotting paper’, carefully packed into decorated folders about the size of a business card, can be found in the handbags of many Japanese women. They provide a sort of halfway stage of freshening up before you need to actually get out your makeup and make repairs. That is, if you start to feel slightly

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Instant Cake

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Freshly baked cake in 60 seconds… sounds too good to be true? Believe me, it really, really is. This turned up on the shelves of Cheers convenience store and I could not resist, even though the $2 price tag should have been ample warning. In theory it is a fine idea… empty the sachet of

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Painting with Pollution

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This is a fascinating initiative from Tiger, long time producers of Singapore’s most popular beer, and is designed to create art ‘from the streets, for the streets’. This particular artwork, packed with local landmarks in the general shape of our island state, is currently in progress on Orchard Road. Its USP is that it is

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Goldfish S’mores

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Goldfish crackers have always been a favourite in our house, either as cute croutons in soup, or simply from the packet as a tasty snack. We’ve sampled all the different types, which include vanilla cupcake, fudge brownie and rainbow colours, but the plain cheesy version has always come out tops. This s’mores flavour, however, looks

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Black Milk

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Not something to drink, but an online Australian fashion house that specialises in clothes made from stretchy nylon material with amazing designs. If you want mermaid leggings printed with shimmering green scales, a Batman swim suit (complete with cape) or a full length dress that looks like Monet’s waterlilies, this is the place to try.

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Kama Sutra Pillow

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There is not much excuse for this, except that I was stuck in Kathmandu airport waiting for a flight which was hideously delayed, and was looking round the one shop at the gate for something on which to spend my otherwise useless remaining rupees. So here, from Mountain Magic, is a handcrafted kama sutra pillow,

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Cheese Curry

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This is apparently the national dish of Bhutan, so there wasn’t much choice when it came to ordering a set dinner in the Bhutanese restaurant I tried out for some variety in Kathmandu – the cheese curry showed up in every option. In Bhutan itself, this would be made with a goat’s milk cheese called

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Singing Bowl Therapy

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There’s something very mystical about a singing bowl. It’s not just the fabulous sound (especially  when echoing round a Tibetan temple…) but also the vibrations that give you the chills. Legend has it that the bowls can be used in secret rituals, with master lamas able to achieve out of body experiences through the power

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Ice Cream Tuk Tuk

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When I was young, long summer afternoons were punctuated by the arrival of the ice cream van, its unique jingle heard from streets away so that every child in blast range ran home for sixpence to spend on frozen treats. By the time the van had parked and the driver opened up the side to

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Miniature Compact

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There’s something very appealing about those make-up compacts you find in airport duty free shops – the ones combining everything you might need to paint your face into one handy, slim line container. Never mind the fact that half the colours don’t really suit, or it’s the wrong type of mascara… I’ve even been known

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Skyline Lashes

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There’s a bit of a fashion in Asia right now for things that look British. I have no idea why and hardly like to ask, but there it is… So, it is common to see people sporting T shirts, bags and even shoes decorated with Union Jacks or famous London landmarks. These false eyelashes really

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Animal Dim Sum

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Sometimes there is no reason except the cuteness. These are some of the amazing dim sum you can get in Hong Kong… The outside is adorable, the inside occasionally a challenge, but who cares what they taste like when they look like this?

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Blackhead Pen

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The illustration on the packet misled me slightly, here. I thought I was buying some sort of silicone ended tool which would ease out blackheads by gentle friction. What this actually involves is a black plastic stick with a hole at each end, the edges of which you run round the offending area. It seems

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Hair Vacuum

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This is the funniest thing I’ve seen at the hairdressers since the arrival at my local salon in Tokyo 15 years ago, of a machine which washed your hair. That gave me such a fit of the giggles that all the staff were laughing too by the time the revolving jets had shampooed and finished

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Drip Tea

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I was sceptical at first… this looks like nothing more than an attempt to hijack the ‘origami’ coffee trend for tea. It’s the same ‘rip open at the top and pour hot water in’ bag, suspended by dinky cardboard arms over the sides of your cup. How could it possibly be any different from a

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Kids Masks

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When it comes to Korean skincare and cosmetics, their excellence is generally a given. It takes great packaging and/or how cute you look when you are using them to make one stand out from the rest. And, Asian girls being what they are, for every sheet mask that is printed with an elegant design of

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Secret Bar/Secret Menu

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There is always something different and quirky on the cocktail scene in Singapore. It might be stumbling onto a secret bar, discovering an amazing new combination of ingredients at an old favourite, or perhaps there’s some fascinating twist in the presentation that gives you pause. The Library was one of the original secret bars here,

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3 in 1 Ring

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I do love a piece of jewellery that can be ‘tweaked’ to do double duty – a ring that has two different sides, earrings that can be transformed to add a dangling extra to a simple stud, a necklace that twists into a bracelet. It’s not just fun, but can give you endless options from

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Flavour Changing Ice

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Here’s another wrinkle that improves the fast-moving, boundary-pushing cocktail scene in Singapore – ice cubes which change the flavour of your drink as they melt. My ‘Frozen in Time’ cocktail came with a block of ice embedded with fruit and herbs. As it melted, a succession of different tastes made the already fruity, wine-based cocktail

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Nail Guard

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This could well be a dream product for anyone who struggles to paint their nails without leaving colourful smudges over their fingers, too. Nail guard, from Korean firm Belinda, is a peel-off latex that you apply from the bottle with a little brush, just like regular nail polish. This one, however, you paint around the

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Hedgehog Cafe

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Harinezumi means ‘hedgehog’ in Japanese (actually it means needle mouse, which is fairly descriptive…) and Harry seems to be the oversized hedgehog who rules the roost in the Harajuku hedgehog café. Visitors queue up to spend half an hour admiring, feeding, and – if they let you – playing with the couple of dozen hedgehogs

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Seasonal Sakura

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Christmas can start as early as September in the UK, with decorations going up and seasonal specials on sale. Cadbury’s crème eggs have even been spotted in October, many months before Easter… It’s not quite as bad in Japan, but still – despite the February snow – the spring time cherry blossom is hotly anticipated

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Kaiten Cosmetics

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You know how one of the best marketing tricks is to present you with the temptation of desirable merchandise when you are unable to get away. Think of the sweet racks beside the supermarket tills, as you queue to pay for your shopping, and the expensive treatment ampoules lined up by the mirrors at the

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Fishing for Dinner

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    Kudos to daughter #1 for spotting this hilarious fish restaurant in Meguro. The premise is simple: you take a rod, attach some bait then do your best to catch your own dinner. It’s not quite as easy as ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ but you are pretty much guaranteed a bite if you

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Opuro Bath Salts

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The Hayakawa Valve Production Co. is a fairly unlikely candidate for the manufacture of perfumed bath salts – they usually make water purifiers for safe and palatable drinking water. Opuro salts, apparently, are the result of experiments to produce purified bath water as well. Many countries use chlorine to sterilise tap water and make it

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Character Contacts

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‘Characters’ are huge in Japan – cute creatures promote everything from TV stations to tourist hotspots, and if you love any of the famous faces from the likes of Sanrio or Studio Ghibli you will be spoilt for choice on clothes, toys, stationery and accessories. And this is not just for youngsters. You would be

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Lavender Tea

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Would it have been unreasonable to hope this tea was actually lavender in colour? Probably… although I was a bit disappointed to discover there was very little by way of lavender in the smell and taste, either. The flower fields of Hokkaido in summer are as gorgeous and famous as those in Holland, with lavender

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Tightline Mascara

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As with most new things, it takes a bit of practise before you really get the hang of this 3 in 1 eyeliner/lash primer/mascara. The idea is to press the super thin wand along the base of your lash line, leaving enough colour there  to give an eyeliner effect, then wiggle and sweep it through

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Fortune Cupcakes

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This is really silly but lots of fun – a cupcake twist on the (usually) Chinese fortune cookie. ‘Fortune Cakes’ gives you a dozen silicone cupcake moulds, each imprinted with a ‘fortune’ you can only see once you have eaten your cupcake. You might get ‘life is uncertain, eat dessert first’ or ‘a balanced diet

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Powdered Soy Sauce

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It’s always nice to bring home some unusual grocery items from a trip abroad, and powdered soy sauce was the standout item from my latest trawl through the supermarkets of Tokyo. You could – if you really wanted – turn it back into regular soy sauce by adding a little water, but the main use

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Wrinkles Pressing Tape

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If ever there was a product which does what it says on the box, this is it… I found it in Tokyo and was charmed by the blurb which says:  ‘to all ladies who enjoy adding their ages… let’s enjoy creating your beauty of future.’ What it has is 24 shaped and textured strips of

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Frozen Popcorn

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It’s a cast iron guarantee that you will find something completely ridiculous on Harajuku’s Takeshita dori, and this is my current top pick. Frozen popcorn is possibly even more pointless than you might imagine. Even daughter #1 scoffed at my intention of trying it out… The shop honestly looks like someone has taken over a

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Digital Vending

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Hats off to Acure, the Japanese drinks company which is responsible for many of those vending machines you see offering everything from hot coffee and soup to ice cold sodas on street corners and station platforms round the country. Their latest machines employ technology that is almost scary – as you approach, a camera detects

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Nail Paraffin Pack

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Melting paraffin wax to soothe and nourish your hands is usually a salon treatment, so when I saw this home care pack I had to snap it up. From Sasa, it gives you a plastic cup containing a layer of pink wax blended with squalene, avocado and argan oils to strengthen finger nails and soften

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Drip Curry

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This is apparently the latest craze to hit the Tokyo food scene, and very strange it is, too. Drip curry takes the very popular drip coffee concept one step further, whilst using all the same set up and paraphernalia. But whilst it still has a counter lined with individual drip filters, this does not give

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Magic Carpet

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If you are keen on winter sports, you’ve probably come across one of these before, but it was certainly new to me – a ‘magic carpet’ travellator just like the ones you see at the airport, but going up the ski slopes instead. For anyone, beginner or not, who has struggled with rope tows or

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Collagen Blink

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This 3 in 1 serum apparently contains collagen, snail extract and vitamin E, all in a handy pouch with a screw cap. There’s enough of the clear jelly inside to last at least a week, which will make it perfect for my next short trip. I thought I’d better try it out first though, and

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Sweetcorn Tea

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Another Hokkaido speciality, from the Tsuchikura company which is based in Sapporo, this corn tea looked like a suitably unusual item both to snap up as a souvenir and also mail easily to daughters who were not lucky enough to be out in the wilds of Japan. A bit of background research revealed that corn

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Air-Laynic Pore Mask

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This is another of those seriously medical looking’ injection’ masks, which come with a syringe full of the product for you to add at the point of use, but this one is targeted strictly at the pores around your nose. I loved the tagline on the packaging – ‘Where is strong butterfly? Pore be surprised’

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Genghis Khan Caramels

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‘Genghis Khan’ is the name given to a slightly spicy dish made with grilled lamb, which is a speciality of Hokkaido and thus fair game when it comes to picking interesting local flavours and turning them into something surprising as a souvenir – like this pack of caramel candies. No-one is suggesting that Genghis Khan

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Wrinkle Serum Pads

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Cooling cucumber eye pad versions of these have been around for ages, but this was the first time I had seen something targeted at wrinkles. The bright pink colour and printed berry decoration also drew my eye. To be honest, these are really just a smaller and more portable version of sheet masks, although there

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Liquid Salt

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This caught my attention in a Bangkok supermarket. I have never seen liquid salt before, and here it was in a range of 8 different ‘flavours’ including spicy, truffle, and the garlic which I chose. Further investigation revealed this to come from Fossil River, a Spanish company now in its 3rd generation of artisan salt

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Facial Mask Powder

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I rather liked the idea of a DIY face mask that you mix up from the powder in the sachet. The claim that this contains pearl and gold, and the shimmer of both powder and mask, was a bonus, although the ingredient list revealed a distinct lack of actual gold. The pearl was there, though,

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Coolish

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This is such a clever and amusing idea I found it impossible to resist – ice cream that you suck from a pouch. It’s the definitive answer to the nuisance of a melting double scoop dripping down your hand, or simply being knocked off the cone to the floor. The total lack of mess involved

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Chin and Forehead Patches

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This is a brainwave from Biore, who make a great range of those sticky strips for removing blackheads from your nose. You can now buy a special pack which contains not just the regular strips but also smaller triangles of the same material designed to attack those stubborn areas on your chin and between your

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Collagen Coffee

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There’s a growing number of food and cosmetic products laced with collagen, all of which promise to slow the aging process by boosting the production of this structural protein in your body. I know you have to take these claims with a pinch of salt, but then I see something new and feel I have

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Gracious Living

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I’ve heard it told that, decades ago, antisocial behaviour was a real problem in Singapore and the government of the time acted decisively to stamp it out. Offenders can still receive a caning for such offences as vandalism and overstaying their visa (although most of these punishments are handed out for very serious crimes), and

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Bangs Cut Kit

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Sometimes you see something so silly you cannot help but buy it. OK, maybe that’s just me… But look at this – a clip on spirit level for your fringe, so you can cut it straight or simply thin it out evenly with the scissors that come alongside. On second thoughts, this is something of

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Chocolate Idlis

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Anyone who loves Indian food will know all about idli – the spongey steamed ‘cake’ made from fermented rice and lentils. In southern India it is usually served at breakfast time, along with a tangy yellow dahl and coconut chutney, and I personally have always found it a splendid start to the day. But the

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Umbrella Trees

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Here in tropical Singapore, it doesn’t pay to venture far without your umbrella. Not just for the inevitable downpours that strike without warning, but also as protection from the sun on cloudless days. A popular choice is the dual purpose brolly that has a special silvery coating to ward off the dangerous UV rays. The

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Watermelon Powder Spray

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You may well ask. I saw this in Bangkok and was intrigued, although in retrospect I think I should probably have left it on the shelf. Watermelon powder spray is supposedly made with 100% Thai herbs and seems to be some sort of a breath freshener. The directions on the packet say: ‘once you feel

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Charcoal Croissants

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There have been a lot of black bakery items on sale recently, from sandwiches to burger buns, but this was the first time I had seen a black croissant. It stood out amongst a collection of coloured croissants at Le Patis in Bangkok, daring me to try it. Not one to turn down a culinary

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Cuticle Tattoos

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Here’s something for everyone who does not have nails long enough for a fancy manicure or those foils which give you instant and elaborate designs. A combination of nail wraps and cuticle transfers, it focusses the attention on your fingers rather than your nails. The tropical theme turns your fingertips into pineapples and colourful birds

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Pout Enhancer

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Fancy fuller lips without risking painful and potentially disastrous injection of fillers? You might want to take a look at this – a small plastic contraption which is designed for instant but temporary enhancement. When used properly, Fullips (patent pending – ‘proudly made in the USA’), is supposed to help you get that fuller, pouty

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DHA Gummies

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At first glance this looks like a very sneaky trick – sweets claiming to boost brain function. I can imagine the scenario now… “but Mummmm, they’ll help me with my homework!” These gummies are made in Malaysia by Scotts (tagline: nurturing family health for over 100 years) but are produced under licence from major international

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Portable Toilet Bag

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There’s a phrase where I come from, used to describe the contents of a suitcase or car that has been over packed … we say it has ‘everything but the kitchen sink’. This portable toilet bag reminded me of that, because it really does seem over cautious to be packing your own toilet. Mind you,

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Deodorant Talc

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There are many ingenious products designed to help you beat the 100ml only liquids rule and travel with everything you need hand carry, like tooth wipes and solid shampoo bars. Here’s another, a deodorant which not only comes in powder form but also in a container less than 9cm high. Tao zing powder is Thai

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Raindrop Mizu Mochi

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I might have spotted it in Bangkok, but this is a uniquely Japanese dessert – a ‘raindrop’ cake made mostly from natural spring water, which claims to have no calories at all. Actually, since the cake itself is so delicate it apparently melts away within 30 minutes at room temperature and so is not on

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Mirror Adverts

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Remember when public advertising was restricted to posters? I can still recall the surprise when I first saw cinema-style adverts on giant screens outdoors, usually at big crossings where they must have been a huge distraction to drivers. Smaller screens popped up swiftly in subway stations and malls, and now even bus stops run adverts

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Contour Trio

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I do enjoy a makeup product which sets out to be fun and attractive as well as giving you a full range of (sometimes unexpected) beauty benefits. Like this ‘InstaReady’ Contour trio BB stick from Physicians Formula, which is not just a roll up make-up stick comprising stripes of 3 different contouring colours, but contains

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Drinking Ants

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Singapore is currently in the throes of a cocktail revolution, with bars doing their best to outshine each other with ever more unusual offerings. One of the latest openings is Native, which aims to source as much as possible from local or at least Asian manufacturers. This means fresh ingredients foraged from nearby, including coasters

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Chilli Pain Patch

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Applying chilli in any form onto a sore patch does not sound like a very good idea – you’d imagine it would only make things hurt more. Perhaps that is part of the plan – by giving yourself something else to complain about, you will forget the original problem. Still, I was intrigued by the

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Breath and Belly Mints

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This is a breath freshener with a difference – a tiny bead within a bead which promises to freshen up not only your mouth but also your belly. You can even play a ‘maze’ game with the beads inside their packet, as their name – Nude – stands up in big letters on the base.

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Cookie Ice Cream

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And not just any old cookie, but cute decorated cookies like bears, frogs and your favourite cartoon characters. Add ears or hair made from cheerios and multi coloured sprinkles, and you have a work of art in your hand rather than just a naughty snack. These ice cream sandwiches are from Bonca in Thailand, and

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Water Massage

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So, there you are on a shopping spree in the mall, needing a pick-me-up. A massage would be perfect, but you don’t have the time or the inclination to check into a spa, strip off and end up an hour later slick with scented oil. Many places run a thriving trade in 10 minute shoulder

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Photo Hair Liner

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This appears to have been designed purely with that perfect selfie in mind – it’s a cushion tipped powder ‘pencil’ which you can use to neaten up and define your hairline for better photos. In a way, although this is a powder rather than the traditional paint, it reminded me of classic geisha makeup. The

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CNY Doughnuts

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It always tickles me to see big American brands introduce ‘specials’ designed for the Asian market. Like Starbucks moon cakes and Haagen Dazs green tea ice cream, or McDonalds teriyaki burgers. I think it’s a great idea and it makes these companies look like they are really trying. So here is the latest Chinese New

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Please Give Up Your Seat

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We’re all familiar with the signs on public transport – not just the likes of ‘no smoking’ or ‘please move down inside the carriage’ but specifically the ones which ask you to give up your seat to someone who needs it more. Typically, the pictograms suggest this includes old people, small children and pregnant ladies.

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Lip Tint Eraser

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The whole point of lip tint, I am told, is that it sinks in and stays, rather than coming off on your glass (or your boyfriend) like normal lipstick does. All well and good, until you make a mistake as you apply it – at which point it is a huge problem to remove. Which

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Weasel Coffee

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Currently giving Jamaican Blue Mountain a run for its money as the most expensive cup of coffee you can buy, ‘weasel’ coffee is something that divides the men from the boys. I have lost count of the people I know who have recoiled in horror from the thought of trying this, which is a shame

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Model’s Own Pop-Up

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Sometimes it is all about the presentation or the packaging rather than the product. Model’s Own is fun and colourful, although not the priciest or most prestigious cosmetic brand on the high street. But you really have to give them credit for this sort of self-publicity – a giant nail polish bottle shaped pop-up stall

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Batik Nose Strips

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These are just nose strips (wet, stick, wait and peel to remove blackheads) but I bought them in Bali because they are decorated with 2 different Indonesian batik patterns. I love this – no-one looks their best whilst wandering around the house wearing one of these, so why not jazz them up with some regionally

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Challenging Coffee

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I’m all for trying new flavours, but sometimes things turn out so badly it quite puts me off for a while. Take the lemon coffee here – which appeared as a ‘special’ on the blackboard at my current favourite brunch hangout. Iced lemon tea, or variations thereof, is very big in Singapore, so clearly this

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Himalayan Toner

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This is from Biotique, which uses 5,000 year old Ayurvedic recipes combined with Swiss biotechnology to produce a range of organic skincare products to ‘support healthy well-being and spiritual bliss in your life’. Which, when I saw it in a Mumbai pharmacy, sounded irresistible! The pore tightening toner is based on cucumber and pure Himalayan

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Dragon’s Breath

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Now this really is a ‘cool’ snack. New in Singapore and still wildly popular, this takes the culinary use of liquid nitrogen to new levels. Rather than using the nitrogen to freeze, say, fruit puree into ice cream, here it is poured over a selection of extremely porous bite-sized snacks like meringues or corn puffs.

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Tropical Condoms

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I do love a good look round the shops whenever we are on our travels. Not for the silly souvenirs aimed at passing tourists, but to see what the locals are buying and eating. As daughters #1 and #2 could tell you, parcels from the latest Julietours are more likely to contain bizarre snacks and

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Mohito Toothpaste

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Yes, you read that right, although I have to stress that this toothpaste does not contain alcohol, just the lime and mint combination which might make you feel that it does. And a very strange combination it is in connection with cleaning your teeth. It gave me that slightly guilty feeling that comes from doing

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What’s Your Sausage?

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This is one of those food stalls which stops you in your tracks and makes you think: “seriously?” Worse, it is in the otherwise very smart basement food court at probably the nicest department store in Singapore. Even worse, these are not even proper sausages but the sort of hot dog style items which are

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Pre-Makeup Mask

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This seemed like a novel idea – a 1 minute mask designed for just before you start applying your makeup. Obviously it is Korean, from cosmetics firm Innisfree, and contains organic green tea water from Jeju Island. The 3 small patches in the packet are for your forehead and cheeks, and are supposed to optimise

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Scented Nail Stickers

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I find this idea bemusing. ‘Scratch and Sniff’ stickers had a moment many years ago, and I don’t recall anyone who seriously thought they smelled anything like the fruits they were supposed to be channelling. Fast forward to these chocolate scented nail decorations, all in cute cupcake and cake slice pictures. They have to be

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Hot Facial Compress

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I’ve had the full body version of this several times in Indonesia, and found it marvellously relaxing, to say nothing of deeply soothing for aching muscles. So when I saw a smaller, facial, version in Bangkok I snapped it up immediately. The hard-packed cloth ball contains a mixture of herbs and spices including tamarind, turmeric

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Molten Chocolates

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This was a Christmas special at M&S which sounded too good to leave on the shelf – chocolates which you heat up so as you bite into the crisp outer shell the molten chocolate spills out. Sort of like the chocolate version of a lava cake, really. Or would have been, if I had managed

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Mr Smile

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I am not sure what Tony Moly were thinking when they came up with this one. Korean skincare products are all about looking cute but I’m not sure how many teenage girls would want to be seen (or take a selfie) wearing a thick black hydrogel moustache. Unless they had massive self-confidence and a great

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Crazy Crisps

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I admit, I cannot resist the temptation of some new and unusual flavour, however unlikely it may seem. Hence the taste test of these decidedly crazy crisps whilst daughters #1 and #2 were visiting. Surprisingly, considering these came from either Thailand or China, they were far less challenging to our taste buds than some of

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Double Colour Mascara

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There’s something very appealing about RMK cosmetics. Perhaps it is the vibrant colours, the shiny silver packaging, or the unusual presentation of, say, eyeshadows in pods or cubes with sliding lids. This particular product, a mascara which holds 2 colours in a single wand, was something I could not leave behind. You could use just

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Food Anatomy

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A whole bunch of new shops and food stalls have just opened in our local MRT station, and this one really jumped out at me. Food Anatomy’s premise is to make design and presentation as much a part of your lunch as the taste. Their motto is: ‘delicious is not enough and every dish must

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Hot and Slim

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I’m not sure why I keep trying these slimming patches when I know the only thing that really works is diet and exercise. But hope springs eternal… This abdominal fat sheet pack tempted me, but it was a total non-starter. I was hoping I would be able to apply it and get on with other

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Cactus Chocolate

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Here’s another slightly bonkers souvenir from Korea, which is full of fascinatingly ‘different’ things just begging to be sampled. The cactus in this chocolate is from Jeju Island, which with its volcanic scenery and reputation for pure, organic produce, is a major tourist destination. Here, the cactus fruit is apparently freeze dried and powdered to

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Hospital Coffee

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For such a tiny island, there is a great deal that is unique about Singapore. The city state, barely 50 years old, has managed to blend a diverse collection of races, religions and cultural heritages into something spectacular and instantly recognisable. Often, I take this for granted, then something unexpected will catch my eye and

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Heel Decals

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How to give your shoes that designer look without spending hundreds of dollars? Well, if you are after the full ‘Louboutin’ then you could always try red enamel paint or even nail polish, otherwise there are heel decals like these. Another fun product from Heels Diva, there are patterns ranging from hearts and houndstooth to

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Vivi Ball

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This was something of a tricky product to work out how to use, and I am still not sure I am doing it right… The pictures on the packaging suggest that rolling this little ball over your face will lift out dirt and generally make your face smooth and shiny. Helpful graphics show you which

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Diet Noodles

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Instant noodles may be quick, cheap and filling – they certainly seem to merit their status as a student staple – but they are also pretty high in calories. The average packet, which weighs in at around 85g and contains nothing more than the noodles and a sachet of powdered flavouring, costs a whopping 400

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Irresistible Burgers?

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It was only a short hop flight – less than 3 hours from Denpasar to Singapore, otherwise I might have been seriously tempted. Airline food seems to be getting worse and worse these days, even on the nicer carriers. On budget airlines where it needs to be paid for, there are stern warnings not to

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Abracadabra Eye Mask

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Abracadabra Eye Mask This is from the Glam Rock range by Korean firm Too Cool For School. As with most Korean skincare and cosmetic products, how it looks is just as important as how it performs, so this eye mask is not only shaped like something you’d see on Zorro, it also has a pretty

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Instant Sticky Rice

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The clue here is in the word ‘instant’, which should also be a warning… There really is no substitute for doing things properly, and that includes naughty desserts. My all-time favourite of these is mango with sticky rice, and of course making the rice takes ages and a lot of care. So even though I

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Qantas Safety Briefing

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How many of you frequent flyers pay any attention to the safety briefing? Thought so – no matter how clearly the crew stresses the need to watch and remember, because every plane is different, almost everyone on board your average flight has their nose buried in the magazine, is switching off their phone or simply

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Facial Massage Cream

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Facial massage is something most Western women only experience as a small part of a regular facial, tucked in between the cleansing, the treatment and the moisturising at the end. In India, however, it is a mainstay of the typical beauty regime, and usually involves natural plant-based products rather than high-tech chemical formulas. I found

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Jellyfish Pasta

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This sounds ridiculous, I know, and to confuse matters further this pasta is actually made into snowflake rather than jellyfish shapes, which seems a trifle strange. And bizarrely, I found this in the new Japan Rail Café which has just opened at my nearest MRT station and has a shop attached. Eating jellyfish is a

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Catching Crabs

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This sign, outside a seafood restaurant in Singapore’s Chinatown, always makes me laugh. The crabs are out there in the fresh air in a sort of cage, and you can – if you are silly enough – reach through the bars to give them a prod. But they have their claws trussed up with string

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Leg Stretching Patches

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Well for a start, these do not stretch your legs, whatever the illustration might lead you to believe. The patches themselves do stretch, however, which makes them easy to apply to the curve of your calves. From Korean firm Etude House, these contain pumpkin extract and caffeine, and closer investigation reveals that they are really

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Hot Can

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This name makes me laugh, because it describes exactly what you end up with when you try this product. Essentially, it’s a self-heating can that can give you a hot coffee or cocoa, or even a comforting soup, however far you are from the nearest café or kitchen. There’s a fairly simple science behind it

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Rent a Blanket?

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There are national carriers, there are budget airlines, and then there is AirAsia. Of all the companies offering cheap flights around the region, this is the one that really makes me tired. And it’s not just because wherever you are heading to, it will involve spending half the night waiting for a connection in the

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Instant Face Lift Strips

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I have seen something like this before, holding back the wrinkles on an elderly female celebrity who should probably remain nameless. In her case, they came with little strings attached which fastened behind her head and were not quite covered by her thinning hair. It was a sad sight, frankly… These are clearly the updated

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DIY Food Art Transfers

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Artistic cooks will probably already own a set of edible ink pens. Looking just like normal felt pens but containing food colouring rather than the usual ink, these are fun to use, especially when decorating cookies and so on for Christmas or birthday parties. But it’s hard to get too creative, because the end result

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Mini Lip Balm

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  It’s just lip balm, but it’s the size which I love. This little tube is barely 3.5cm high, so small there is no room for the twisting mechanism on most lip balms so you have to push it up from the bottom as it wears down. Really it takes packing light to extremes, and

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Magic Ice Cream

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  OK, I admit, I should have known better, but there is something in me which finds it hard to resist the off-beat and bizarre. This packet of instant, easy, DIY ice cream called to me from the shelf of an Indonesian supermarket, and was in my kitchen before I knew it. Luckily, the instructions

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Anti-Mosquito Paint

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When you live in a tropical climate, local wildlife is always a problem. So this new product from Nippon Paint seems to provide an inspired solution – interior wall paint which contains an insecticide strong enough to ‘knock down’ mosquitos. The active ingredient kills up to 90% of mosquitos on contact by disrupting their nervous

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Travel Lash Tool

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I’m a great fan of anything that does several jobs at once. I love the idea that someone has thought of a way to combine two or more tools into one, and I really love anything which will make packing quicker and lighter for my travels. This little tool ticked all those boxes, although I

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Grilled KitKats

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  Japanese KitKat flavours are a thing of wonder, and I am sure I will run through the full menu at some point fairly soon. This one, however, seemed to merit a mention all on its own – here is a mini chocolate bar which, although already an interesting cheesecake flavour, is also  is designed

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Sensorium Menu

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Cocktail bars are such fun, especially here in Singapore where everyone is trying to outdo each other with new and unusual ideas. This is from the Tippling Club, and gives you the chance to order by smell rather than from a more conventional menu. A collection of tiny, scented, strips is served up to the

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Jeju Volcanic Steam Towel

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This looked like fun, a microfiber 3D towel from Innisfree, designed to steam your face and open up the pores before you then apply a face mask. (Preferably a volcanic clay one…) In case you were wondering what a ‘3D’ towel is, that simply means it has been shaped and sewn into a contoured mask

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Long Life Noodle(s)

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It’s a typical Asian quirk that eating noodles is supposed to be lucky, especially at the Lunar New Year or on your birthday – the longer the noodles, the longer you will live. So try not to cut them up, whatever the time of year! One place in Singapore has elevated this tradition into something

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Art Cafe

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I have mentioned Arteastique before, as they serve a fascinating range of teas including medicinal, alcoholic and ice cream float varieties. The Art part of the name, however, is something else again. Half the café is taken up by a studio crammed with canvases on easels. For S$48 for a 2 hour session (including a

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Bio-Essence Dual Cream

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For anyone who finds they have too many products on their bathroom shelf, this is a neat solution – a jar that combines both day cream and night cream in one handy pot. From Bio-Essence, a Singapore company, the gold flecked day cream and platinum flecked night cream are apparently packed with anti-oxidants, and the

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Dwaejigamja Tea Filters

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Dwaejigamja looks like it might be sunroot or earth apple, alternative names for Jerusalem artichoke, which is sweeter than you would expect from a tuber. In Korea it is a very popular vegetable which crops up in salads, as a pickle, and here – as tea. None of which I knew at the time, I

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Semi-Disposable Chopsticks

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Re-use and Re-cycle are buzzwords of the moment, with many initiatives in place to help us cut down on the immense amount of waste we discard every day. One small but significant effort is being made in China, where a staggering 57 billion pairs of wooden chopsticks are used and thrown away every year. They

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Wrinkle Smoother

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This is ridiculous, but was on sale at Tokyu Hands for such an attractive discount that I decided I would try it out. As an aside, it also amused me that this Japanese product was illustrated with a Western blonde… Basically, this is a short stick with a shaped silicone head which you use from

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Sakura Seaweed

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Another little culinary treat from Japan, where they really have made an art form of playing with their food… These squares of dried and seasoned nori, so handy for wrapping sushi rolls or scooping up rice, come ready ‘decorated’ with cut out blossom shapes. The dark green of the seaweed set against the white of

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Book Vending Machine

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Tiong Bahru in Singapore is a hive of hipster cafes, boutiques and independent stores. Its 1920s low-rise apartment blocks have a charming retro look, and its famous wet market includes Michelin starred food stalls. It’s a cool place to stroll, shop and snack on a lazy weekend afternoon. In this increasingly electronic age, book shops

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Joyous Ear Pick

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Any self-respecting doctor will tell you that the smallest thing you should put inside your ear is your elbow. Not that I know anybody who follows this rule, because the temptation to twiddle about with a cotton bud after a shower is almost irresistible… And in certain places – notably India and Nepal, where professional

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Yak Milk Tea

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Rumour has is that yak milk is slightly pink in colour, but having seen a great deal of it recently, including yak milk cheese, butter and yoghurt, I have to say I did not find this to be the case. But pink or not, yak milk is certainly distinctive, with a sweet-sour taste (and smell)

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Underground Emergency Kits

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Seoul is a modern, vibrant capital city in a very unusual position. Although the Korean War ended decades ago, technically there is still just a ceasefire in place rather than peace between North and South.  Without getting overly political, North Korea has not proved to be a particularly friendly neighbour, so a 4km demilitarized zone

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Chocolate Covered Crisps

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I’m really not sure what I think of this idea. I like crisps, I like chocolate, but together..? But they seem to be very popular in Japan, where you can buy a range of different variations on the theme, from cheap snacks in little tubs from the convenience stores, to expensive boxes from upmarket brands,

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Toothbrush Twigs

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Using a twig as a toothbrush is a time honoured tradition in many cultures. Examples have been found in Egyptian tombs dating from 3000 years BC, and their use is recommended in writings from the Moslem and Sikh religions. The tree commonly used in Africa to source the right sort of twig is actually known

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Cheese Oat Milk Tea

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I am not sure what possessed me to buy this, except possibly that I had turned down the chance to try skewers of assorted fried bugs at lunchtime (I was in Chengdu) and felt I was letting down the Julietours side. Possibly those crispy scorpions would have been a better idea… For a start, this

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Aroma Slim

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More ‘slimming’ aids, these supposedly for your legs… The magic ingredients here seem to be the aroma of grapefruit and ‘negative air ion relax’ – although what this means and how they get it into the product I have no idea. Tree vinegar, germanium and tourmaline also figure as major components in what look rather

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LKY Chocolate

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I’m a bit behind the times with this one, because Singapore’s 50th birthday celebrations were of course last year, and unfortunately the father of this island nation did not live quite long enough to mark the special day. However, I still think it is worth a mention. Lee Kwan Yew, founder, former prime minister and

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Decollete Mask

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I was very happy to see this – sheet masks really seem to be improving my complexion, to the point where my neck is clearly being left behind, so a version which is designed to treat both areas at once looked like a great idea. It’s a tricky item to deal with, though. It needs

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Salt and Vinegar Candy

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These popped up in Daiso, yet another example of the Asian tendency to combine ingredients in ways that would horrify Westerners, but for S$2 a packet, I felt they were worth a try. I know that tomato is technically a fruit, so it has some natural sweetness, but the Salt Tomato candy was too bizarre

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Breast Mud

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‘Discover the secrets of Balinese beauty’, claims the box, with delightful artwork including some very suggestively shaped hills. ‘The mud mask is made from mud which has a strong tightening, straining and shaping effect…’ Look more closely and you will discover that the mud is actually from the Dead Sea, and there is no suggestion

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Omija (5 flavour) Tea

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This is something very Korean, a special tea which is a unique blend of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy. I first tried it in a traditional tea house in the Bukchon district of old wooden houses in Seoul. It came in a cup the size of a soup bowl, alongside a plate of some

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Hippo Patch

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There’s no real way to lose weight apart from eating less and exercising more, but there’s also an irresistible appeal about anything that promises an easier option. Besides, the artwork on this slimming patch, with the cute hippo transformed from sad to svelte, made me laugh. ‘The God of Patches. Bye-bye to excess fat’, says

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Yak Jerky

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Eating well is a bit of a problem in Tibet. Even in the cities – which in practise means just Lhasa and Shigatse – you either have to look hard or be ordering something recognisable in a smart hotel to end up with a meal memorable for the right reasons. Out in the wilds, where

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Donkey Milk Face Cream

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You can always rely on Korean cosmetics companies to come up with interesting and unusual ingredients, many of them home grown natural products. It probably taps into the Asian way of embracing the change in seasons, which often means that certain foodstuffs are only available for a limited time each year. (Certainly, the fruit and

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Sweet Pringles

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What were they thinking? I saw these ‘butter caramel’ Pringles in Seoul and could not believe my eyes, then saw them again in Singapore alongside the ‘sweet mayo cheese’ version. There is no way to be polite about them – fake butter flavour, horrible sweet taste… they were completely revolting.

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Nipp-Non

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These have been around for a while now, but they still surprise me with how useful they can be. Everyone has those moments when a wardrobe malfunction or an unexpected need to be culturally sensitive brings sudden embarrassment. You can pre-empt the possibility of one and carry these around in your bag in case of

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Facial Wipes

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When you travel light, it helps to avoid taking containers of liquid in your hand carry bag. I know that technically you are allowed a small zip lock bag of 100ml bottles on board a plane, but the fewer you actually have, the better. It is possible to track down non liquid versions of all

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Singapore Sling Marmalade

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I’m not terribly partial to marmalade but I have been known to down the occasional Singapore Sling, and besides, the box was very pretty. So this was a no-brainer for Christmas guests keen to try everything Singapore has to offer. The original Sling, of course, was created in 1915 at the Raffles Hotel, and contains

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IOYS 3D Figurines

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Did you ever want to be made into an action figure? Well, this is the next best thing. Ioys (which stands, oddly, for ‘I’m on your side’) can turn you into a full colour 3D representation of yourself in just 2 weeks. I showed up at the Design Lab in central Seoul not quite sure

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DMZ Noodles

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The demilitarized zone between the 2 Koreas is something of a tourist attraction, although one which you have to approach cautiously – tours can be cancelled at a moment’s notice when tensions between the 2 sides rise, and visitors are scrutinised and their documents checked very carefully indeed. Once you are in the zone, however,

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Korean Beauty Adverts

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In what is sometimes described as the ‘war of the sexes’, a fascinating about turn can be seen happening in South Korea. Sit and watch the world go by in Seoul’s cosmetics heaven of Meyong-dong, and you will see that 9 out of 10 teenage girls passing by are model pretty with makeup to match.

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Injection Mask

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Here’s a fascinating new variation on sheet masks – it comes with a syringe loaded with 2 different solutions. You press the plunger and shake the syringe to combine the 2, then pop open the plastic lid in the middle of the packet and inject the mix over the mask. It all seems very scientific,

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J Cone

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Rumour has it this spectacularly bizarre ice cream ‘cone’ was invented in the Philippines, but it swiftly became so popular in Seoul that it is now inextricably linked with Korea instead. Order a J Cone and what you get is a long crunchy tube with a curve at the bottom – hence the J –

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In-flight, On-phone Entertainment

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I was in a cool café the other day, where push button phones (with cords) were amongst the wall displays of ‘retro’ items. For someone who grew up with rotary dials and curly cables, when phones were installed by the front door and you stood up whilst keeping calls short, this was slightly worrying –

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Pedi Sock Foot Mask

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This is one of those ideas which sounds great but turns out to be somewhat disappointing. I’m all for these foot masks which you wear like socks as the product sinks in to make your skin soft and smooth. This particular variety has perforations at the toes so you can pull off the end of

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Macaron Mystery

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Is it just me, or is all the fuss about macarons a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes? They cost so much, appear so beautiful and promise to be so delicious, but then you take a bite and find your mouth full of what could be plaster dust. It is very disappointing. OK, so I

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Sheep Cafe

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Cat and dog cafes used to be all the rage, but these days they are just plain passé. Everyone is trying to outdo each other with unusual new livestock, with varying degrees of success. Racoons and owls have had their moment, but these are essentially predators, and it does not take much online research to

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Magic Palette

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This was irresistible – a makeup compact barely larger than a single blush or eyeshadow, yet containing 4 separate cosmetic items. It’s an ideal way of fitting all the bits and pieces you need into the smallest travelling makeup pouch. From K-Palette, this clever item contains 2 blushers, a contouring powder and highlighter, and comes

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Rose Ice Cream

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These were too pretty to resist, and the long line of eager customers was also a good indicator that here were ice creams well worth trying. In the end, it was only ice cream, but delicious ice cream and shaped (with surprising speed) on the spot into the coloured rose of your choice. Only 5,500

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VR Games

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I hadn’t planned to do this but the people trying it out as I walked past looked to be having so much fun (plus it was a ridiculously cheap 5,000 won for 10 minutes) that I could not resist giving it a go. Numerous options were available, from just watching 3D movie clips to what

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Light Mascara

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I’ve seen tweezers with a built in light before (and let’s agree, that’s actually quite a good idea…) but this is the first time I have seen a mascara wand that lights up as you use it. There are 2 tiny LED bulbs inside the lid which look like nothing much when you open it up, but

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Fruit Soju

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If you thought that cocktails topped up with fruit juice were quickest and easiest way to drink far more than you intended, you have not yet met fruit soju. Served in the hollowed out pineapple/watermelon/coconut (delete as appropriate…) and with the soju whizzed up with the fruit that has been removed, you can slurp this

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Security Garter

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This little gem was tucked away towards the back of the Silk Air in-flight shopping magazine. Retail opportunities at 38,000ft always provide me with great entertainment – there’s stuff in there you really have to raise your eyebrows at, especially the prices. But this actually looked like it might be an interesting buy. I mean,

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Scalp Scent Killer

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Really? Have you ever been afraid your head smelled bad?? Me neither! This looks to me like another of those products engineered to give women something new to worry about, and it amused me greatly that it comes from the OMG! Range by Etude House. I noted that it apparently serves the dual purpose of

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Carrot Eggs

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These popped up in the supermarket recently, so of course I had to investigate. Obviously they are not laid by carrots, or even by hens which have been eating carrots, which would have been an interesting sight. In fact, the ‘carrot’ part is the bright orange yolk inside, which comes from the hens being fed

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Dog in a Backpack

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This walked past me on the street in Singapore and I was so bemused I had to catch up and take a photo. This is presumably the male take on the ghastly ‘lapdog in handbag’ display as popularised by various celebrity socialites. You can only feel sorry for this specimen, hanging on his master’s back

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DIY Mask Pots

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There was a craze some years ago for homemade skincare products – the sort of thing your grandma might have made to boost her complexion during the difficult wartime years. So we all tried bags of oatmeal as body scrubs in the bath, whipped up cucumber with yoghurt and honey as cooling face masks, and

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Adzuki Bean Latte

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Where I come from, beans are strictly a savoury item. In most places in Asia, however, culinary boundaries tend to blur in an alarming fashion, and beans top the list of unexpectedly deployed ingredients. For the most part, they turn up as toppings in desserts – red beans, green, beans, even sweetcorn frequently appear scattered

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Eyeliner Transfers

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I have to stop buying/trying these sort of things – they look so cool on the shelf yet prove almost impossible to apply properly in real life. These particular transfers, with their artistic variations on the regular cat’s eye flick-style eyeliner, looked amazing. But somehow they seemed to be printed the wrong way up. It

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Ear Floss

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Opinions differ in how best to treat pierced ears. Some people swear by surgical spirit, others say that salt water is good enough, and the shops that actually do the piercings (obviously) want to sell you some very expensive care product in a bottle so big there is no way you will use it all

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Brown Rice Milk Ice Cream

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It’s low fat, lactose and cholesterol free, suitable for vegans and full of healthy nutrients – especially B vitamins. Rice milk can be made by boiling, blending and straining rice, and it is a useful alternative to normal milk. And though it sounds like it would taste a little strange, having sampled it I have

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Cushion Notepads

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These caught my eye in a shop at Incheon airport. With 2 students in the family, the idea of a notepad with a soft padded cover on which you could rest your head during boring lectures, or use to cushion your wrist whilst slaving over an essay, was very appealing. The pretty design of sky

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Hot Bath Salts

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The Japanese love their hot baths, and such are the health giving properties of soaking up to your neck in a communal tub, chatting and relaxing, that heavily subsidised public bath houses are still found in most neighbourhoods. For those who prefer to bathe in privacy, or who fancy spicing up their dip with bubbles

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Japanese Souffle Pancake

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I’m only going to take issue with 2 parts of this – I wouldn’t call it a soufflé and I have never seen one in Japan – but never mind, it was very nice and I left my plate clean. ‘The thickest and fluffiest pancake you’ll ever have’ boasts the menu, and they are probably

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Inside-Out T shirts

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Two for the price of one, not to mention the fact that you can take only 1 item on a short trip and quick-change into something ‘different’ whilst keeping plenty of space in your bag for shopping. I wish more clothing firms did this sort of thing… there are the odd examples from travel specialists

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K-Pop Starlet Lipstick

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Girl band members and soap opera starlets in Korea are renowned for their amazing makeup, which must take forever to perfect. In particular, they have popularised a lipstick trend which uses shaded blends of colour to define the lip shape, the outer edges a lighter ‘pop’ of contrast. I was picturing makeup artists slaving with

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Acai Bowl

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For such a small berry, the acai packs a big punch. And, as it comes from the rainforests of South America, it also carries a fairly hefty price tag. The acai bowl is one of the dishes that Brazil is famous for, and daughter #1 was very excited to have the chance to try it

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Free e-books

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Budget travellers transiting Kuala Lumpur have yet more indignities to face than simply zero legroom, paying for refreshments and – worse – having to rent a blanket. The ultimate humiliation is being directed firmly into what is bluntly named the Low Cost Carrier Terminal. This used to be truly awful, a separate building that could

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Bee Venom

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There’s a lot of this around, not just in wildly expensive pots of under eye cream and suchlike, but also in the more affordable guise of sheet masks. It seems like a weird sort of ingredient to hype in skin care products, but there is apparently some science behind it – the tiny amounts of

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Fruit Sandos

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England does jam sandwiches, Americans love their peanut butter and jelly, so I should not have been surprised by the Japanese take on sweet sandwiches. Here’s the ever popular fruit ‘sando’, possibly a healthier option (if you discount the cream). Available in supermarkets and department stores everywhere, at a very reasonable ¥340.  

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Nail Plates

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Diwali is coming, and all things Indian are very much to the fore here in Singapore. I saw this kit at a festival market stall, was persuaded to sit down and give it a try and well… we all know how that ends! The metal plate is laser engraved with intricate designs, you coat the

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Twisty Tail Mascara

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Too Cool For School are pretty much guaranteed to make me laugh with some new product in their range, and since the brand seems to have disappeared from Singapore I was pleased to have a chance to shop there in Seoul. My top pick was this Twisty Tail Mascara, which has a mechanism built into

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‘Toilet’ Cafe

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  This is not one for the faint hearted, and is one of those jokes that could easily backfire. Welcome to the Toilet Café, tucked away on the roof of a mini craft ‘mall’ in Incheon, Seoul. There’s a very limited menu – 2 sorts of spaghetti, some interestingly shaped ‘desserts’, and a small collection

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Disco Rickshaws

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Local transport is always a hit or miss affair… squeezing into ‘jeepneys’ in Manila, bouncing around in the back of an ox cart in Nepal, or super clean Japanese taxis with automatically opening doors and drivers in pristine white gloves. Somewhere in between are what I can only describe as ‘disco rickshaws’ in Malacca, the

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Hair Shadow Pots

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Here’s a variation on those hair mascaras and hair pencils which are designed to cover up the odd grey hair. It features a container I have seen before in use for blushers, with a mirrored lid and a ‘secret’ compartment underneath to hold the applicator. In this case it is a padded cloth ball rather

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‘Fossil’ senbei

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Daughter #2 is a geologist, which means I have a house full of rocks, fossils and other exciting items including bits of meteorite and dinosaur poo. Amongst all this are a few ancient fish, their bones embedded in the petrified remains of what was presumably a bit of seabed. The one above left is actually

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Cityscape Rings

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Once I had realised what I was actually looking at, I couldn’t get enough of these rings. It is such a clever idea to take the landmark buildings of a city skyline and wrap them in miniature around your finger. I spotted London and Hong Kong, had to take a guess at a couple of

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Magnetic Face Mask

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This is so hilarious it probably would not matter if it didn’t work at all, but my skin felt so nice afterwards that I am seriously tempted to buy some despite the price. It comes from Premier Dead Sea, a US company which uses highly concentrated minerals from the Dead Sea to make skin care

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Rainbow Snow

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The café is called WooW and ‘wow’ pretty much sums up what it serves – a rainbow of sweet treats that proved impossible to walk past (even though I had just had lunch followed by tea and cake). Ok, I admit it, I was weak… but oh, it was worth it, even though I had

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Aura Photos

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Intriguing, deeply spiritual or bogus science? There are all kinds of conflicting theories about aura photography, but you have to admit it makes for a fun thing to try at a Mind, Body and Spirit festival. Psychics have always claimed there is an energy field emanating from the body, which can be ‘read’ to reveal

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Pebble Reflexology

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In traditional Chinese medicine, meridian lines running through the body are supposed to connect various parts whilst providing a pathway for energy. Problems in one area can therefore be helped by massage or acupuncture in a different area, unblocking the energy flow and boosting health. It is an idea which has become very popular in

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Chocolate Wrappers

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You know how it is when you pop into the £1 Shop, or your local equivalent – which in my case happens to be Daiso – you end up coming away with all sorts of ridiculous bargains and items you never knew you needed. Once in a while, however, you discover a little gem, which

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Heels Diva

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Singapore is a great place for dressing up. A typical outfit for a day at the office here seems to be the sort of cocktail dress and high heels combo that you’d probably only see at Christmas in the UK, and  makes morning rush hour on the MRT a fascinating experience. If you are already

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Lip Stencils

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You can buy all manner of pencils and brushes to help you redefine the shape of your lips, thinning the contours, plumping out and enhancing where necessary, all before you apply the lip colour itself. Or you can try these… Daughter #2 was game, but swiftly changed her mind. These are Korean, and Korean girls

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The World’s Most Expensive Tea?

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Singapore has no end of expatriate ‘ladies who lunch’, and therefore no end of fancy cafes and tea rooms happy to entertain them whilst lightening their wallets. Once in a while, as a special treat, I like to dip my toe into their rarefied waters… This week I was astonished by the menu at TWG,

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‘Secret’ Post-Its

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Something else too silly to leave behind on the shelves of Daiso, our local S$2 shop… These ‘Post-It’ style notes are shaped like ice cream cones, which is amusing enough, but the ice cream part peels away to reveal another, differently coloured scoop below. This is where you write your secret message, before covering it

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Brow Trimmers

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It never occurred to me before that eyebrows might need trimming – a quick tidy up with tweezers every couple of days has always seemed to work just fine. But it is always nice to be corrected on these things, especially by Korean beauty experts like Etude House, who have produced this fascinating bit of

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Luminous Candyfloss

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This is such a clever (but silly) idea I am surprised not to have seen it before. Some smart marketing person has taken the light-up colour-changing sticks you see waved around at concerts, and used them in place of the normal wooden stick for candyfloss. The result – a fabulous treat which glows a rainbow

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Makeup Transfer

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This one was a struggle from beginning to end. Like all transfers, you have to cut it down to size first, then position it carefully before wetting the paper to let transfer the pattern to your skin. Doing this around your own eyes is not easy, as you can’t really see what you are doing

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Sequin Lipstick

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OK, I suppose I might have guessed this was never really going to deliver what it promised, and the fact that there was no ‘tester’ available should have warned me… but at only 35 Baht in Bangkok’s Chinatown, it was potentially too cool to be left behind. In my defence, there did appear to be

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Collagen Tea (and low-cal cupcakes)

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This little café was quite a find, with its Japanese ambiance and colourful treats to eat. We particularly liked the collagen tea, which has a bright turquoise layer of collagen jelly on the bottom, through which you drink your tea. OK, it is slightly odd, but in a country where tea regularly comes full of

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Beware of Kites

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The notice says it all – and visitors to Enoshima, an island near Kamakura in Japan, had best beware. The kites hover round and really do swoop in to seize whatever treat you may be eating as you wander along the beach or over the causeway to the island. We were all scared silly and

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Eyelash Curlers

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These have been around for ever, and look like instruments of torture to me, but I am told that they provide an essential finishing touch. Here is a slightly updated version from Japan, with ‘teeth’ to separate lashes which might otherwise clump together. Daughter #2 thought it was great, working far better than her usual

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Garlic Ice Cream

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Savoury ice creams can be very tasty… I am very partial to the chilli crab version that one of my favourite restaurants here serves, and have always like the smoked salmon and brown bread option that has been around for decades. I may, however, have hit the wall here. Mad For Garlic is a restaurant

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Dragon Ear Cuffs

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It must have something to do with Game of Thrones, but I am seeing dragons everywhere. Take these fabulous ear cuffs, which slip easily over the edge of your ear and give you the whole fierce dragon-taming look in seconds. These came from the immense and magical 24 hour emporium that is the Mustafa Centre

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Cream to Powder (and vv)

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Makeup which turns from  one texture to another  is popping up in the product lines of several Asian cosmetics companies. You can get powder cheek and lip colours which develop a creamy consistency as they react with the moisture on your skin, then also a stick base cream which dries into powder within seconds. Both

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Build A Burger

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With the possible exception of MOS, I don’t do burgers. But I know people who do and so it was I found myself in a branch of McDonalds offering something a little bit different. For a start there was a touch screen ordering system, although since you still had to queue for your food I

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Light Up Menu

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I know I am not the only person who has trouble reading menus in the dark. By this I usually mean the menus you get at dimly lit cocktail bars, where I apparently cause no end of embarrassment to my daughters by using the flashlight on my phone. Imagine my delight in Bangkok, at the

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Mood Boosting Makeup

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I bought these (in Bangkok, bizarrely) because the whole idea of makeup which can change your mood was simply hilarious. Further research gave me a whole back story to this brand which made it even more interesting. Physician’s Formula is American, has been around since 1937, and was apparently started by allergy doctor Frank Crandall

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Instant Eggs

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In my mother’s day, ‘instant eggs’ would have meant the powdered variety that came in a box, tasted horrible no matter how you reconstituted it, and was the bane of the rationing years. These days it means UHT sterilised eggs which are individually vacuum sealed and can be eaten directly from the packet. These are

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Twelve Ways

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There really are 12 ways you can wear this particular item of clothing, and probably more if you are especially inventive. Twelve Ways is the name of the item and the Canadian company which invented it. They call it the most versatile piece of clothing you will ever find, and it is certainly an ideal

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Eyebrow Glue

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This was described to me as “like hairspray for eyebrows”, and it is apparently a vital tool in the makeup kit of daughter #2. It looks like a mascara wand, with the same sort of spiral brush to apply the product, except that this is clear. The brush itself tidies up and straightens the brow

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Cake Shake

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Also known as ‘freakshakes’ in Australia, which is where the trend apparently started, this completely over the top creation is somehow a teetering combination of dessert and drink which (unless you plan to explode) is enough for several people. Most popularly available at Cake Spade here in Singapore, it’s a milk shake with ice cream

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IKEA loos

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Why have I never seen these signs before? I visit IKEA on a fairly regular basis, and usually have a quick spin round to see what’s new before homing in on what I actually came for, but these polite notices (in every one of those sample layouts they have) appeared to be something new. They

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Blush Stencils

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These stencils seemed a little ridiculous at first, I didn’t really think you needed showing where to apply blusher unless you were going for a cosplay-style baby doll round cheek look. However, after some playing around, they actually grew on us. The trick is to position the stencils carefully then blend out the colour really

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HotChoc Spoon Luxe

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These were a surprise find in a Hong Kong supermarket, although they appear to be made in The Netherlands. The idea seemed very interesting, with a cube of chocolate moulded round a bamboo spoon and a squeezy vial of alcohol embedded alongside. Ay HK$35, they were temptingly good value and looked like they might make

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Glow in the Dark Tattoos

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It was impossible to take a photo of these in action, but I can tell you that they work really well. Like all transfers, you cut them to size, apply to the skin and soak off the protective paper with water. Although they are technically invisible in the daylight, you can see the shiny plastic

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Coffee Sock

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This is a venerable tradition in Singapore… land of the hawker stalls whose drinks menus list a mind-boggling variety of choices which often need translation. Kopi-O? Kopi-C? Kopi Siew Dai or Kosing?? There are so many local variations on a simple cup of caffeine that they could give posh western coffee chains a run for

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Eyebrow Bra

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The description on the packaging is what sold this to me – ‘a push up bra for your eyebrows’. Essentially, it is a thick and creamy highlighter dressed up as a pencil, which makes it very easy to apply. It is made in Germany, is apparently also useful as a concealer, and although it cost

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Chicken Cookies

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I saw these in a Thai supermarket and wondered what they tasted like. I mean, crackers come in all sorts of tempting flavours these days, especially the ones with cheese, so I thought they would be worth a go. Hmm, if you are the sort of person who likes roast chicken flavoured crisps, these might

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Nail Bling

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There was a fashion in Japan not so long ago, which involved loading your nails with 3d decorations… beads and bows, Hello Kitty buttons and suchlike. The real trendsetters even pierced their nails to dangle bits of crystal on chains. It was cute – well, if you were a very girlie teenager – but looked

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Queue Machine

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Queues can be a nightmare, especially when you can’t get into your favourite restaurant for brunch. Remember the days when you gave your name to a waitress with a clipboard by the door, or took a ticket, then stood around waiting for your number to come up? Unsurprisingly, technology is rendering all this obsolete. Popping

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Stripy Lipstick

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  This lipstick with its three bands of colour was way too intriguing to leave behind on the shelf of the Bangkok store where I spotted it, especially when I had the undivided attention of a ‘katoey’ shop assistant in full hair-tossing, lip-pouting mode, to help me choose the right one. The idea is that,

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Dessert Tea

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This one is for everyone who ever enjoyed an ice cream float as a child, or who likes those lattes and mochas with a scoop which a few ‘gourmet’ coffee shops  offer. Essentially, it is iced tea with ice cream on the top, and at Arteastiq in Singapore, there’s a whole section on the menu

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Brow Stencils

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Beauty stencils are having a moment here in Asia, with options available for all sorts of makeup applications. Brow stencils are possibly the most popular, as it is common here to shave off your brows and draw them back in on a daily basis. Not everyone has a steady enough hand and the artistic skill

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Crazy Lashes

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There appears to be no end to the silly things you can buy for S$2 at Daiso, and it seems even sillier to leave them behind at that price. Which is how we ended up trying these highly decorative eyelashes with their clusters of stars. Like all false lashes, however, they proved to be really

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Multi-Pan

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How to do a full English breakfast for one without using every pan in the kitchen? This may be the answer… It’s a frying pan with compartments, so you can cook 3 different items at the same time, on the same ring, ideal for when you fancy a fry-up without all the washing up. I

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‘Disaster’ Bread

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If you live in Japan, it pays to be prepared for a disaster. Earthquakes happen on a regular basis, although thankfully a full scale catastrophe like the Great Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami is a very rare event. Still, every child has earthquake training at school, and every household is supposed to have an ‘earthquake kit’

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Eyeliner Ruler

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For all of you who find it really hard to achieve that perfectly matched pair of cat’s eye flicks, here’s a small bit indispensable piece of kit you need to have in your make-up bag. S$2 buys a set of 3 short lengths of bendy, rubbery ‘ruler’ which you can use to draw the lines

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Fashionable Feet

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You know how naked your feet can feel when you are lounging by the pool in a nice hotel… you have your best swimsuit on, with a fancy sarong or floaty cover-up to hand, perhaps a stylish sunhat and a matching bag… yet even with a colourful pedicure, something seems to be missing. If you

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Coffee Bags

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The only surprising thing about this idea is – considering how long tea bags have been around – that it has not been on sale until now. Mind you, it reminds me of the days before fancy fruit and flower flavoured gourmet teas, when your basic ‘builder’s tea’ tasted pretty much of floor sweepings from

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Mood Lipstick

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This was more of a joke than a useable lipstick. It looks blue, but turns pink when it reacts with the moisture of your lips. Daughter #2 thought it might be a good prank, if you were able to make your lips very dry first, then lick them to transform the colour. Potentially, you could

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Filipino Sachets

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I am all for anything which comes in a travel size, so was delighted by the sheer range of unusual items I found in various Manila shops. They had all the things you might usually expect, but rather than miniature jars and bottles – the sort of quarter-size products you find in the travel section

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Eye Shadow Transfer

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This is another of those mad ideas which looks fabulous in the packet but is so much trouble to apply that it turns out not to be worth the effort. Which is a shame, because if you really could go out with such an amazing design on your lids, you would definitely turn heads. Like

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Indian Chocolate

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Who knew they grew cocoa in India? It was a surprise to me, but I suppose the southern states are pretty much on a level with that part of South America where most of the world’s cocoa beans come from, so it does make some sort of sense. I found home grown chocolate bars in

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Cosmetic Camo Cream

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Here in Singapore, all the boys (and as many girls as want to) spend 2 years doing National Service between school and university. It’s a rite of passage, during which a certain amount of time is spent training in the jungle, and putting on camouflage cream is just one of the things new recruits need

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Phone Bench

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There are so many silly things on which to rest your mobile phone, but I particularly liked this one… It’s a ‘Realistic Park Bench’, and holds your phone in a reclining position exactly as you yourself would stretch out to enjoy the afternoon sun. This one came from Tokyo, flat packed like regular furniture but

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Banana Ketchup

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Wherever I travel, I always like to visit a supermarket, to see what the locals are buying and eating – somehow it makes me feel less of a tourist, and gives me an idea of what it might be like to live there rather than just pass through. Obviously, I always end up buying a

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Lace Mask Sheet

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Here’s another variation on the sheet mask theme, again from Korea although this time from banila co. The ‘it Radiant’ hydrogel mask sheet actually comes in 2 parts, which you apply after cleansing and toning, then leave for 20 to 40 minutes. Instead of the usual cottony fabric soaked in product, this is made from

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Chocolate Print Moulds

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These could only be Japanese… a marvellous way to create at home those posh chocolates topped with ‘printed’ artwork designs. They come in little kits with transfers ready sprayed into flimsy plastic moulds. All you have to do is pour in melted chocolate, leave in the fridge until set, then pop out your finished masterpieces,

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Ggongji Hair Pack

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Ggongji means ‘ponytail hair’ in Korea, which is where this product comes from. It is really just a variation on the standard hair pack, except that instead of wrapping the whole thing round your head, this is a narrow bag which you use solely on your ponytail. It comes with an elastic band to keep

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Printed Handbags

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Some things just grab your attention in such a way that you know you have to have them, which is what happened to us with these bags. All the details are printed on, but the effect is so realistic that you have to be very close indeed before you can tell for sure. The fabric

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Brexit Fancies

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Temporarily in the UK several weeks after the Brexit vote, I noted there were differences to be seen in London. Everyone had an opinion on the result, obviously, and no hesitation in telling everyone else about it. Newspapers were full of the impending end of the world as we knew it, and – most painfully

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Konjac Cleanser

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    Up until my discovery of this particular item, I had a bit of a hate-hate relationship with anything containing konjac. Usually referred to as konnyaku in Japan, this most often comes as a foodstuff which has all sorts of medicinal qualities. Most importantly, it is not only has a very high fibre content

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Coloured Henna

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Henna designs are such fun – they look fabulous but are strictly temporary, and if you don’t live near an Indian area they are still quick and easy to do yourself. Up till recently, I thought henna cones only came in that rich brown colour which is so good for colouring hair, too. (‘Black’ henna

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Glass Bottomed Cable Car

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   Not for anyone afraid of heights, although not as scary as they look, these special cabins on the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car on Lantau island in Hong Kong are pretty spectacular. The whole 5.7km cable car ride is exciting enough to begin with, as it lasts 25 minutes and takes you from the

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Shibuya Toast

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In Shibuya, of course, this is simply ‘toast’, and I still can’t believe that I have never actually eaten it in Japan. Never mind, it is now a mini food craze in Singapore, so I thought that I had better catch up. I chose to try it at the very elegant Dazzling Café, where cute

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Ppong Patch

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No, that isn’t a spelling mistake, and I have no idea how this after-sun treatment came by such a bizarre name. From the Miraelo company, which is Korean, this is a Secret Girl product, as in: ‘a trendy secret girl has a unique secret method’ – to quote from a translation of the instructions on

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Jelly Coconut Vending Machine

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This was a new one on me. Tucked away in the basement of a shopping centre well off the beaten track in Singapore, I came across a vending machine selling nothing but vacuum packed jelly coconuts from Thailand (spoon included). There’s a big difference between old and young coconuts. The old ones are the coconuts

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Hair Charms

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     I spotted these in Selfridges in London, and was initially intrigued. Hair charms are apparently designed to clip onto corn row style braids, but I suppose if you were careful you could attach them to almost any sort of hairstyle if you wanted. These seemed to be pretty expensive, at around £14 for

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Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack

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Bubble Tea is one of those food trends that isn’t going away – in Singapore at least. It’s a bit of a teen craze, with the flavoured, milky teas ‘sweetened’ with sago pearls and fruity boba balls that burst in your mouth like caviar. So it was only a matter of time before someone took

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Chocolate Tea

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  This is an odd one. However, chocoholic that I am, I was intrigued, especially by the promise of zero calories a cup and a drink ‘rich in antioxidants to help you stay calm, focused and relaxed’. This coco and ginger infusion, looking like an upmarket teabag containing bits of brownish bark, is from Hotel

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Brow Tint Gel

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Here’s a great new idea from Korean beauty firm Etude House – a DIY eyebrow dye that works on both brow hairs and the skin beneath to give you the eyebrow shape of your dreams. This sort of thing is particularly useful in Asia, where ladies frequently shave off their eyebrows and paint in new

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Dessert Bento

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  We came across this by chance whilst taking a break from shopping, and were delighted by the idea. Your normal bento is a classic Japanese meal, comprising of a selection of tasty tidbits served with rice in a compartmented box – you will usually find some fish, some chicken, an assortment of different vegetables

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Onsen Egg Maker

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In my experience, you have to be fairly confident in your cooking abilities to tackle a poached egg – it can be really tricky to get it right without making a hideous mess in the pan, or producing some mutant result with white trailing in all directions. Yet poached eggs are so much lower calorie and

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Slimming Perfume

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No, I’m serious… This was the highlight of the In-Flight Shop magazine on a Singapore Airlines flight to Mumbai. It was an ‘exclusive’, I was seriously tempted, but was forced to be sensible by my long-suffering husband. Still, I took photos, which I present here for your entertainment. The product, Prends-Moi (which is French for

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Pot Potato and Pasta

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These caught my eye as I was in the 7-11 the other day, and they seemed unusual enough to try. Daughters #1 and #2 are pretty keen on instant noodles (they are students, so let’s cut them some slack…) and this is clearly a variation on the theme. You pour in boiling water and stir,

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Digital Nail Art

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This startling and impressive piece of new technology was something I have never seen before – a table-top machine which spray paints the design of your choice onto individual nails. I have to say that it is a time consuming process, as it involves a series of procedures which start with a traditional manicure. The

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Lip Tattoo

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  I first saw this at 38,000 feet, in an airline shopping magazine, and was intrigued – but not enough to buy a pack of 3 at vast expense. Happily, just weeks later I spotted individual tubes at a more reasonable price in Sasa beauty store. Clearly, this is another Korean invention, from Skinaz, whose

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High Security Cheese

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  There was a time, in the middle of an economic crisis, when such high value items as steak and sliced smoked salmon were given security tags in British supermarkets. If the big firms were experiencing a profit-trimming wave of shoplifting, then this made perfect sense. Never, however, have I seen security packaging as elaborate

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2 in 1 Travel Pillow

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If you are a fan of those special pillows designed for travellers, you are going to love this. From New Zealand firm DQ&Co, this soft version filled with microbeads has a unique design that means a quick unzip and a shake can turn it from a simple rectangular shape into a curved neck pillow –

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Tooth Wipes

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There are times when you are travelling, or simply out and about, when it would be very nice to brush your teeth. But carrying round all the kit, not to mention finding a bathroom with clean water, can sometimes be a trial, especially if you are – say – trekking, or on an overnight train

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Orvis Skirts

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The more I travel, the less interested I am in lugging heavy suitcases around with me, so the lighter I can pack the better. And living in Singapore means it is really easy to find last minute, bargain, flights to places around the region – making weekend trips or short breaks a regular possibility. So,

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Hello Kitty Dim Sum

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Sanrio’s multi-billion dollar cat has been around since the 1970s, and from humble origins as a kawaii or ‘cute’ character aimed at Japanese children, has grown to world domination. You can find Hello Kitty pretty much everywhere from fashionable accessories to kitchen appliances and even extremely expensive jewellery. And food. I have seen plenty of

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Oreo Cadbury’s

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I have to confess that the ‘Limited Edition’ on the packet is what persuaded me to pop these into my shopping basket at the supermarket. I don’t especially like Oreo cookies, but anything a bit different always catches my eye and I thought I might be surprised. (Oreos are unaccountably popular in Asia, and daughter

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Glow in the Dark Mask

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This must count as one of those ‘what will they think of next’ products, because apart from the novelty value I can’t think how this particular feature can possibly improve your complexion. But it was too cool to leave on the shelf at Korean beauty store Missha, (especially at the bargain price of S$3.90 a

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Ali Baba Pants

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I do love a piece of clothing you can play around with, and these pants, spotted on Arab Street in Singapore, looked like they might be fun. Big and baggy, with a comfortable elasticated waist and gathered at the ankles harem-style, these pants have loops on the sides and buttons at the waist so you

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Water Bottle Tea Bag

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This is one of those things you have to see to get your head round, but which then makes perfect sense. You want a large bottle of green tea in your fridge without the bother of making up a series of jugs to fill it up? Here is what to do… Take one very long

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Silicone Socks

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  Well, not exactly socks so much as heel covers, made of stretchy pink silicone which promises to transform your dry, cracked heels and leave them ‘moist, smooth and velvety ’. Apparently you do not even need to apply anything else for this to happen, just slip them on after your bath and wait 15

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Sushi Stools

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It’s always nice when cafes and restaurants make an effort to be a little different, and set themselves above the pack. In places with a huge amount of competition – like in Singapore, where the vast majority either eat out or bring home takeaway – it all helps entice a few more customers through the

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Snow Bear

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It’s very hot at the moment in Singapore, by which I mean even hotter than usual. If you have to go outside, you find yourself pausing by every large store to enjoy the cool of air conditioning escaping from the open doors. On Orchard Rd, the biggest shopping street in town, the best possible place

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Dress Code Masks

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Someone somewhere in the higher echelons of Korean beauty product development has made an interesting leap. When you are wearing one of those sheet style face masks which keep a liquid product firmly on your skin, you actually look fairly silly. It’s the kind of thing which makes you want to hide in the bathroom

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LOOK – OK!?

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More delightful stationery items from Japan, with another variation on the humble ‘post-it’ tab which we all use to mark-up pages we need to refer back to. These particular offerings, from the sun-star stationery company, are designed with detachable ends to show that the person you have passed them on to has read and noted

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Piss Bolls (and Nockers)

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These made me laugh so much that I had to buy them, from a convenience store in a Jakarta suburb. I should explain at the outset that pisang means banana over there, and that most local shoppers would see nothing funny in the contraction that makes the name. In my defence, I was out to

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Grace Mask

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   I have mentioned before how hard it can be sometimes to keep a sheet mask on your face. It tends to be loaded with product, so it drips and slides around. The ever dependable Daiso may have an answer to that, with this silicone mask which you can wear on top to hold the

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‘Banana Skins’

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Spotted in a cafe on Orchard Road, Singapore, I thought it was a really witty idea to make the usual ‘slippery floor’ signs look like banana skins…

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‘Healthy’ Chocolate

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For all the joys of foreign travel, there are times when only your favourite brand will do. But when you then discover some wonderful local treat as well, it’s a real bonus! This was on the counter by the till in Starbucks, Hanoi, and it tickled me so much I bought several more as gifts.

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Nail Polish Protectors

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Anyone who has ever worn nail polish will know what a pain it is waiting for it to dry. You can turn the hairdryer on it, use a special lamp, even buy sprays and drops which promise to set it hard as rock in moments. Yet even with the ‘dries in 30 seconds’ sort of

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Oreo Cheese Cake Frappe

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This one is all about the picture. I feel bad laughing about it, but this is a classic case of cultural misunderstanding and I am sure I would make some similarly amusing error if I tried to advertise anything in a different language. J Co is an Indonesian company specialising in drinks and donuts, which

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Lip Steam Mask

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Fresh from Tokyo, this lip steam mask is a treat before you even use it. Carefully wrapped in silky paper inside a beautifully printed paper envelope, the sweet smelling, soft fabric mask has loops which slip neatly over your ears to keep it in place. It is apparently ‘packed with moisture-retaining components such as collagen

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Day To Night Earrings

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It’s always nice when you can pack something that does double duty on your travels… the space you save in your suitcase is space you can fill with fascinating purchases instead, and with kit that turns into something else, you stand less chance of looking like a scruffy backpacker by Day 3. I know that

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Shogun Burger

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I always enjoy seeing American fast food chains try to appeal to non-Western taste buds with locally inspired menu variations. It often works really well. For instance, I very much liked a McArabia sandwich I tried in Egypt: koftas and salad with garlic mayo, wrapped in a toasted pitta bread. A long ago McBento in

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Bust Up Drink

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From Japanese beauty firm Kinohimitsu, this box of supplement drinks caught my eye on the shelf at Isetan pharmacy. At S$79.95 for what looked like just a week’s supply, the shelf is where it stayed, but I was curious enough to do a little research. Interestingly, the company claims that drinking a bottle every night

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Firearms Not Allowed

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I hadn’t been out and about in Manila more than 10 minutes before I started to worry. Ducking into a nearby supermarket for water and snacks, I was astonished by the security procedures just to get through the door. Armed guards watched as I was patted down and the contents of my bag inspected, then

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Selfie Coffee

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A long time ago, Haji Lane in Singapore was lined with hostels, where pilgrims would gather before embarking in their hajj. It was right beside the harbour then, but land reclamation and air travel have put an end to that business. For a while, Haji Lane was just a back alley, home to dustbins and

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Silkworm Cocoons

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Here’s another piece of beauty wisdom from Japanese grandmas – using the cocoons of silkworms as a method of deep cleaning and exfoliating the skin. There’s a long history of small scale silkworm farming in Japan, with the silk being used for kimono fabric, and the inner bark of the mulberry trees, whose leaves the

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Sticky Tracing Paper

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This is one of the smartest things I have seen for a while – tracing paper that actually stays in one place whilst you work. One of the most annoying things about Geography O-Level homework used to be trying to make a fair copy of maps whilst battling to keep all your pencil tracings lined

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Crazy Croissants

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The Cronut – that odd marriage of croissant and donut – never really took off in Asia. Instead, we’ve had a fascinating range of croissant adaptations that have been a lot more fun. The salted egg yolk version was the big hit, but here are 2 others which deserve an honourable mention: First, the chilli

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Mango Sleeping Mask

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Always unable to resist small things, I was enchanted by this sleeping mask. The container is a realistic but miniature half mango barely the size of my thumbprint, with a tiny spoon attached, and it begged to be snapped up from the shelf of Boots in Bangkok. (Although it is, like all the most interesting

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VIP ATM

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There are a great many very rich people in Singapore, most of whom like nothing better than to flash their cash and have their egos stroked. And how better to rub it in than by having your very own VIP ATM machine right by all the big name designer stores at the top of Orchard

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Hokkaido Cheese Tarts

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Singaporeans are nothing if not wildly enthusiastic for every new thing to hit their shores. Sometimes it seems as though a brand new restaurant, a visiting act or a product launch needs only to have the briefest mention in the local press for lines to form and tickets to sell out. A case in point

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Sparkling Mineral Powder

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One of the main selling points of products from Korean firm Innisfree is that they are made from the natural plants and minerals of ‘pure’ Jeju Island. This facial wash, which you mix together yourself before using, is ‘enriched with sparkling, thermal  mineral water’ from Jeju, with carbonated bubbles that ‘deliver moisture and brighten the

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Frixion Pens

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  There was a moment several years ago when erasable biros were introduced in the UK, and all the banks issued horrified warnings about the dangers of using them on cheques. They didn’t seem to catch on, because not a lot more was heard about them then. Fast forward to now, and there’s a whole

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24 Carat Brownie

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This one stopped me in my tracks as I was passing through the Paragon in Singapore. It’s a brownie, but coated with edible gold dust, and it twinkled tantalisingly under the lights of Chalk Farm cake stall. At only S$5 for a generous slice (S$60 for an entire cake if you wanted a special –

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Titanium Balls

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Necklaces and wristbands containing microballs of pure titanium have been popular among athletes for quite a while – the theory is that something in this precious metal balances out the electrical impulses in your body when you are injured, exhausted or stressed. There is little scientific proof that this works, but sometimes the placebo effect

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Bus Speedometer

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This really tickled me, when I noticed it on the bus in Macau – a real time speedometer telling passengers exactly how fast the driver is going. This is the sort of thing you see on methods of transport where the high speed is a selling point – like on the Shanghai maglev train, or

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Man Utd Noodles

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Celebrity advertising is an interesting thing. Do they not make enough money already from their massive careers? More than a couple of decades ago, when we first lived in Japan, you could not turn on the TV without seeing such implausible endorsements as Sean Connery drinking Japanese whiskey, or Arnold Schwarzenegger as the genie in

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Nail Masks

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These are an interesting variation on a theme… I love the hand masks that you can wear like gloves whilst relaxing – say watching TV or with a book. These looked like more specific versions of the same thing, 10 tiny pocket shaped masks to slide over each fingertip to nourish the cuticle and nails.

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Eyelash Jewels

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Here’s another S$2 treat from Daiso – something else you did not know you needed. This is the sort of thing you see cute teenagers wearing in Harajuku on a Sunday, to complement their frilly dresses and lace. The sparkle of fake jewels on their eyelashes is just one more part of a mind-boggling costume

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Move Inside the Carriage

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I’m sure every mass transit system in the world has this problem – no-one wants to be stuck in the middle of the car in the rush hour jam and potentially miss their stop. So everyone crowds round the doors instead, making it even harder to get on and off the train. There are always

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M&M Flavours

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It was all very exciting when I first took daughters #1 and #2 to Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York, and they discovered the big plastic dispensing tubes of M&Ms in a rainbow of different colours. Trouble was, they all tasted just the same inside. Several years later, it is easy to find these sugar

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Wine Lip Tint

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Sometimes it is all about the packaging, which is what attracted me to this cute miniature ‘wine bottle’ of lip tint as I passed a Tony Moly store in Macau. Happily, this particular product turned out to be a success in that it delivered as well as looking good, which was presumably why – of

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Make Your Sandal

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Always a fan of some item you can customise at will, I was delighted by these sandals. MYS stands for Make Your Sandal, an Australian firm which gives you the pieces to do just that: a selection of basic soles with loops along the edges, a wide range of colourful  straps and ‘socks’ to thread

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Magnetic Memo

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I so wish I could tell you these were amazing… I was really intrigued when I found them in the Bangkok branch of Loft, one of my favourite Japanese stores. Made in Finland by Tesla Amazing, they promise to stick on any smooth surface using a static charge instead of glue, meaning they are more

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3D Foam Art

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Those neat hearts and swans barristas swirl onto the top of your coffee are all well and good, but look at this instead! 3D foam art is the latest thing, with cute cats and teddies whipped up from your cappuccino and decorated by hand. It’s a real labour of love to create these offerings, using

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Breast Pack

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The beauty market is awash with ‘sheet’ masks – most for your face, but a variety of others designed to target specific spots like eyes and nose and chin. Sheets for the body are now beginning to catch up, although they tend to focus on ‘fat’ areas such as tummy and thighs. Now, however, first

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‘Dry’ Tote Bag

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You don’t have to live in the tropics for rain to be a nuisance – it is deeply annoying, wherever you are, to arrive home with bag and purchases dripping wet. But what if your bag was actually a ‘dry’ bag? These incredibly useful things, most often available in lurid colours and basic shapes as

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Teddy Bouquet

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I was sampling moon cakes and other seasonal treats at a food festival in Singapore when I spotted these, and did not know what to think. A bouquet of bears? Creepy! Yet somehow also cute, and apparently very popular among the ‘just started dating’ cohort of local teenagers, despite a fairly hefty price tag of

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Beer Ice Cream

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This sounded so bizarre I had to try it. Milk and beer? Not the sort of thing you would immediately consider to be a happy combination, although it is possible someone imagined this might be an interesting variation on the American classic root beer float. Although it was advertised with a standing banner on Nathan

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Collagen Sweets

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Collagen is having a bit of a ‘moment’ here in Asia, especially if you happen to be female and over 30. That’s because thirty is the age after which our bodies start producing less of this vital natural protein which supposedly keeps our skin smooth and wrinkle free. This is why you find collagen as

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Crash Baggage

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They don’t make suitcases like they used to. Or maybe we are all travelling more often these days. My bags certainly seem the worse for wear after a very short time, scuffed and scratched, with parts that need regular repair work. That’s why I was very amused to see this new luggage brand, with pre-damaged suitcases

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Hat Clip

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When I saw this I was immediately reminded of those spoof Christmas gift ads that appear in Private Eye… “no more ‘hat blowing off’ misery, only £999.99, plays theme tunes from Dambusters” etc… It’s ridiculous, it was only S$2 in Daiso, of course I bought it. Daughters #1 and #2, you had better watch out

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Bloody Mary

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Brunch is big business in Singapore, and you have to get up early to catch a table at the more popular spots. But whilst the available variations on eggs with toast are enormous, you have to make a real effort to find something interesting and new. This particular offering, at the Humpback on Bukit Pasoh,

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Collagen C Mask

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Here’s another sort of sheet mask, a small version designed to curve round your eye and focus on the fine lines in the corners. I would not actually have called this shape a ‘c’, but I suppose it was close enough. It came from Etude House and is billed as ‘formulated with collagen to revitalise

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No Smoking!

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  Life has to be tough for committed smokers these days – so many public places have a ‘no smoking’ policy that it must be a rare occasion to find somewhere outside your own home to enjoy a cigarette in peace. For those of us who hate the habit, this is a wonderful thing, but

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Onesole

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How to get round that packing problem of needing different shoes to go with different outfits on your trip? This could be a solution… Onesole is just that – you buy a single set of shoe soles then team them with a huge variety of interchangeable pop-on-and-off tops. The soles are made from comfortable polyurethane,

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Really a Burger?

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When is a burger not a burger? Possibly when it involves hot chewy rice cakes instead of the bread, and a patty made with pieces of prawn instead of ground beef. Here’s the S$3.90 ebi riceburger from MOS, a Japanese burger chain which (for my money) knocks the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King out

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PiggyMom SoakSoak

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With a name like this, and those pictures on the packet, who could resist? This PiggyMom SoakSoak nose mask trio made me laugh before I’d even tried it, and it turned out to be quite a treat. I actually found the English instructions online before I began opening the packets, which was a good idea

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Pocket Pages

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Here’s another amusing idea from Japan, where all the best stationery comes from – pads of colourful notepaper, each sheet actually a page of double thickness which incorporates a neat pocket. It’s an ideal way to send tickets, cash or any small thing safely together with an explanatory note, without the need for paperclips or

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Absolut India

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Absolut has to be one of the world’s most popular and well recognised vodkas, with a wonderful range of different flavours from raspberry and mango to hibiscus, cilantro and wild tea. What I have only just realised, however, is that they also have a limited edition of country, state and city themed vodkas. Some investigation

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Sole Sap Sheets

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  These promised me the double effect of natural sap power and negative ions, for relaxation and to refresh. According to the instructions, “the sap absorbs excessive moisture in the body from the soles, and the effect of the negative ions in tourmaline powder refreshes your body and mind.” The packet contains 2 sachets of

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Carrot Rabbits

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The Japanese have the concept of playing with food down to a fine art. Kawaii bento boxes are filled with cute morsels shaped or decorated to tempt small children to eat their lunch. Supermarkets, department stores and kitchenware shops in Japan all have a dedicated space for the tools required to turn out a super-artistic

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Magic Steam Hair Mask

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This hair mask looked like it might be fun. I was particularly taken by the promise of ‘magic steam’ emblazoned on the package, although since most of the rest was in Korean I had to take the details of this on trust. Once out of the packet it did not look very attractive – the

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Nanoblock Postcards

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  Nanoblocks – a miniature variation on Lego-style building bricks – first went on the market in Japan almost 10 years ago. You can buy boxes of bricks to make up your own designs, or small packets with the instructions for just a single colourful creation. (Pokémon characters are a very popular choice…) I have

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Mango Sticky Rice

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This has to be my favourite dessert, preferably eaten at a street stall in Bangkok – luscious slices of fresh mango on a mound of warm rice cooked in coconut milk with salt and sugar, topped with a sauce of coconut cream. Crispy bits as a garnish, optional. When I see some novel interpretation of

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Colour Change Mask

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Always on the lookout for something new and unusual, I was excited to find these ‘magic’ colour change masks in SaSa. Billed as a ‘first’, and (of course) coming from Korea, the sheet mask is printed with a design using heat sensitive ink, which changes colour as the temperature rises. The idea seemed to be

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Lava Croissants

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There’s always a new food craze hitting the streets of Singapore, and one of the latest is the salted egg yolk croissant. It’s the combination here which is new – salted egg yolk sauces have been around for a long time, although they are more commonly found gracing seafood dishes like fried prawns. The rich

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Fuzzy Brush

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There’s a lot to be said for the idea behind this product – it is nice to be able to clean your teeth and generally freshen up your mouth when you are out and about. Carrying a toothbrush and toothpaste round in your bag is a pain and can lead to messy leaks, plus you

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Shoe Bands

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The idea is a sound one – thick plastic bands that slide over a shoe to hold it in place on your foot. If you have ever suffered the annoyance of your feet constantly lifting out of loose slip-on shoes, then this must be worth a try. And technically, they work, although I say that

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Parrot Markers

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Korea may rule the beauty world right now, but Japan has always had the stationery market tied up. There are enough wonderful and unusual items on sale to satisfy even the most jaded consumer, and I must confess my desk conceals a treasure trove of cool and quirky bits and pieces I have found impossible

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Xiao Long Bao

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Shanghai-style soup dumplings are hugely popular in South East Asia, and a delicious snack at any point during the day. Bao means ‘bun’, the xiaolong is the bamboo basket in which they are usually steamed, and the tasty morsels are served with a dipping sauce of vinegar, soy and shredded ginger. Once you start to

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Body Powder Sheets

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    In tropical Singapore, it is easy to find yourself hot and sticky after just the slightest exertion. If you are heading for home and a shower, it isn’t a problem, but when you are out for the day you can end up feeling grubby and uncomfortable. So I was interested to see these

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Security Undies

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Keeping your valuables safe is a real worry when you travel, and it is a rare holidaymaker who has not had something stolen from a backpack or hotel room. Heart breaking as it is to lose all your photos when a camera, phone or laptop goes missing, the real nightmare is when your money, credit

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Star Sand

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In Okinawa, the cluster of sub-tropical islands that makes up the southernmost group of the Japanese archipelago, souvenirs tend to revolve mainly around pineapple and hibiscus. One slightly odd exception, however, stands out. Every omiyage store seems to have a basket full of tiny bottles, a bargain at ¥100, each containing a teaspoonful of pale

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Rivella

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When you think of Switzerland, it is probably cheese and chocolate that first comes to mind. The ingredient they have in common is milk, and this is where you picture happy cows munching flowers in an Alpine meadow, cow bells round their necks. What might take you by surprise is that milk is also a

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Hair Velcro

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This sounds ridiculous, I know, but bear with me… You know how, when you use a face mask or some other messy product, it tends to get stuck in your hair? And how much worse that is if you actually have a fringe? Of course you can use a hairband, but I cannot be the

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Rain Shoes

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  In tropical Asia, when it rains it rarely does so in a half-hearted fashion. You can literally see the water approaching, like the rapid advance of a dirty shower curtain, or – in extreme cases – an actual waterfall. It rains so hard you can barely see across the road, and bounces off the

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Nasi Lemak

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In Europe, you might pick up a sandwich – neatly encased in a triangular plastic box – to eat at your desk for lunch. In Singapore, whilst this is an option in some of the more modern malls and office blocks, many people prefer a traditional (and considerably less expensive) snack. A firm favourite is

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Gold ATM

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It never fails to surprise me what you can get from a vending machine. When I first lived in Switzerland, too many years ago to admit to here, shops rolled down their shutters smartly at 5 or 6pm, and were often closed from Saturday lunchtime until Monday morning. If you needed vital groceries, you were

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Lip Patch

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This is the lip version of the gold gel eye patches I tried out earlier. Whilst I enjoyed those very much, I am not too sure about this one. For a start, it was really difficult to keep it in place – I suppose it would have been better to lie down and wait for

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Chocolate Nachos

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A delightful discovery on the menu at our closest Mexican (usually we don’t get past the cocktails and bar snacks…) These home baked nachos are made with cinnamon and sugar instead of spices and salt, then topped with chocolate sauce, raspberries, ice cream and coconut. Rumour has it that a competitor is hitting back with

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Chair Leg Socks

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The Victorians – so rumour has it – used to cover the legs of their tables and chairs, in an excess of either prudishness or modesty… the Japanese put socks on them for the sake of their floors. There may well be no serious evidence of the first, but you don’t have to look far

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Travel Sizes

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We all love the ‘free gifts with purchase’ that sometimes come with expensive cosmetics and skincare. A far more useful size than the tiny tubes and sachets you are given just for showing an interest, they are ideal for trying out new products without making a major investment, and are an excellent size for taking

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Jade Roller

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Jade is one of those gemstones with a long and fascinating history. It has been revered as a lucky or protective stone by ancient civilisations as far apart geographically as the Egyptians, the Aztecs, the Maoris and the Chinese, and was often valued higher than gold or diamonds. As it is tough as well as

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Bonsai Jewellery

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They aren’t real, which is probably just as well. But could one of these distinctly unusual items of jewellery be a perfect gift for the bonsai enthusiast in your life? I saw them in Isetan department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and was very amused. The bracelet was priced at ¥12,000, the rings were a snip at

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Solar Prayer Wheel

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Prayer wheels play a very important role in Buddhist belief. Each wheel, no matter the size, is beautifully decorated and embossed with (usually) Sanskrit letters spelling out the incantation ‘Om mani padme hum’, the mantra of the Bodhisattva of compassion. Inside, rolled tightly around the central spindle of the wheel, is a scroll with sacred

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Litter – or is it art?

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There’s an old joke here in Singapore that this is a ‘fine’ city – mostly because you can be fined fairly large amounts for flouting the many laws which regulate public behaviour. These include the likes of jay walking, failing to flush a public toilet, and – of course – littering. Drop a snack wrapper

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Janchi Bingsu

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  Bingsu is a traditional Korean dessert that has been taking Singapore by storm. At its heart is a large bowl of shaved ice, topped with any combination of fruit, ice cream, syrup, chocolate and nuts, often decorated to look like a small cute animal is peeping out of the top. The ice itself is

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Dragon Fruit Crisps

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  Dragon fruit looks spectacular, with its bright pink body and green, ribbon-like, sprouting leaves. Cut it open, and the fruit inside is revealed to be white with black seeds, or a deep beetroot red. It is part of the cactus family, coming originally from Mexico, but grows well all over sub-tropical Asia where it

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Steam Eye Mask

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This fascinating product is made by Kao in Japan, and is described as ‘an innovative self-warming steam mask’ which heats up gradually to 40 degrees C and produces steam which ‘relieves and relaxes your hard working eyes’. A hard sachet inside each half of the mask sits over your eyes, and these hold iron powder

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Cow Dung Cakes

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Cows are sacred in India. Especially in rural areas, where their milk, and the ghee made from it, is an essential food source, and their dung is used as fuel, fertiliser and – when burned to ash – a form of antiseptic, cows play a vital role in society. Even in the biggest cities they

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White Strawberries

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Spotted at the very upmarket Takashimaya department store in Tokyo earlier this month… white strawberries! They look unripe, but are supposed to taste really sweet, the result of cross-cultivating pineapples with strawberries. Reports differ, but between 10 and 20 years research by Miyoshi Agritech Co. apparently went into their creation and they are being marketed

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Afternoon Tea with a Twist

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Cocktails in glass teapots instead of tea! This is such a wonderful idea, it hardly matters that the food was – although perfectly nice – less than enthralling by comparison. This was a really delightful Mother’s Day treat at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore. I chose the Ginger R from the Diva cocktail collection,

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Too Cool For School

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   Too Cool For School is the brand name of this wonderfully quirky range of Korean cosmetics, designed for teenagers and irresistibly cute. This is the foundation, which has a handy highlighter and concealer duo hidden in the lid. Below is the matching blush, with a fluffy applicator puff nestling in the base of the

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Fried Ice Cream

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This sounded terribly exciting but turned out to be something of a misnomer in that the ice cream was ‘fried’ on a flat plate that was ice cold rather than red hot. The whole process was rather like that of making a French-style crepe, only starting with flavoured milk rather than batter. I chose mango,

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Pool in the Sky

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This is not something for the faint of heart, and especially not if you suffer from vertigo. But it must be quite a thrill to be swimming in this rooftop pool looking down through the water to the street below. Personally, I have the feeling that – like outside glass elevators and those really long

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Secret Bars

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     This is becoming a really popular trend, especially in Asia, where every big city seems to have a handful of ‘secret’ bars. Of course, if you already know they exist, maybe they are not so secret after all, but it can still be lots of fun tracking them down and working out how

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Sushi Santa

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OK, I admit I am showing off, but these were hand made by daughter #1 and myself at a cooking class in Singapore just before Christmas. In fact, they were simpler to make than might appear – you just have to have a picture in your head of what the cross section will look like

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Nail Concealer

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     At first glance this looks like just another example of the Korean beauty industry offering a product you did not know you needed! However, after giving it a try, I am actually quite impressed. This base coat, from The Face Shop, is designed to cover up any imperfections and discolourations on your nails, apparently

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Deep Fried Oreos

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   These crop up from time to time at fairs and festivals in Singapore, and after some deliberation I decided they were bizarre enough to sample. When I found them at the River Hongbao on Chinese New Year’s Eve, I decided the time was right. I wish I could tell you that they are awful,

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Tongue Scraper

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  There is apparently a great deal to be said in favour of scraping your tongue clean on a daily basis. Ancient Ayurvedic texts detail the many benefits for your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, doctors practising traditional Chinese medicine routinely check the state of your tongue as a guideline to your general health, and

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Low Tech Pedi

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This just really tickled me… at home in Singapore, having a pedicure involves an elaborate procedure that finishes with popping your toes into a contraption which uses ultra violet light to harden the polish. In Bangkok, you get a girl with a plastic fan. Of course, the whole thing was a tenth of the price,

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Chawanmushi

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This is something of an acquired taste for a Westerner – silky smooth egg custard, subtly flavoured with fish broth and containing morsels of prawn, mushrooms and the like. It is highly nutritious, really tasty, and remarkably low in calories – rarely more than 150 per pot. A winning combination, if you can get round

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Foot Mask Socks

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    Billed as an Intensive Repair Foot Mask, this ‘sock-type’ foot mask contains apricot and shea butter plus other ‘natural healing ingredients’ and is designed to repair, rough, dry feet. The blurb on the back of the packet promises that it ‘noticeably smoothes, softens and repairs dry, cracked, calloused feet and heels, significantly improving

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V-Line Patch

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To be honest, the cosmetics industry in Asia has a lot to answer for, providing beauty-conscious women around the region with one thing after another to worry about. First it was whitening products, then hair fall (‘dare you take the white pillowcase test?’) The latest manufactured beauty issue is the V-Line, with a plethora of

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Wishing for snow in Singapore?

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These very amusing street signs enliven the climb up to the Norwegian Seaman’s Mission and church, which is technically on Pasir Panjang Rd but actually up a private driveway so steep it leaves visitors gasping for breath in the Singapore heat. The mission is like a clubhouse for Norwegians far from home, selling very expensive

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Hokkaido Bear Curry

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    Always keen to try something new and different, I saw this advertised in a magazine and tracked it down to a store in the Japanese ski resort of Hirafu. Bears are fairly common up there in the mountains, and signs on the road warn you to be careful, but I have never actually

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Reversible Rings

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   These are such a clever idea I found them irresistible – rings which you can turn around to give an entirely different design. They are made by Korean jewellery company RedEye and there is a large selection in both gold and silver colours of which I liked these 3 best. The 2 photos show

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Gold Gel Eye Mask

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       If ever there were such things as “Princess” eye patches, it is these. They shimmer with the golden glitter embedded in the thick floppy ‘jelly’ of the patches, which are shaped to fit underneath your eyes. I am not sure how any of the ingredients, which include collagen, lavender oil and gold, are

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