Purveyors of the Uniq tagged "travel" | Seek The Uniq

Purveyors of the Uniq

Jungalow in Italy

Day one of this year, I turned a year older. I didn't particularly want anything but time with family, away from my laptop. I had just that and way, way more. But before I could peel myself away from my laptop, I did, what could easily be one of the boldest things I've ever done for myself. I signed up for a creative workshop with Justina Blakeney (whoa!), in Cinque Terre, Italy (double, triple whoa!). Gift to self, done. 

I didn't know what to expect. Darn, I didn't even know if I was pronouncing 'Cinque Terre' correctly. All I know was that I needed a good creative recharge not just for myself but for STU as well. Or maybe I was just looking for the perfect excuse to finally put those STU Escape pieces to proper use.

Five months later, I've perfected saying CHEEN|kweh TEHR|reh (only because it's really fun to say out) and I, along with my trailing husband (quite literally, having hiked most of the trails in Cinque Terre while I was busy ) found ourselves on the rocky coastline of the Italian Riviera. 

We arrived in Riomaggiore on a stormy afternoon the day before the workshop. We thought of just staying in after that hike from the train station but when the skies cleared up, we stepped out and boy, were we delighted! Lemon trees everywhere, limoncello in every bar (which is more cafe than bar, by the way), lemon-hued houses every corner-- trust me, no bad lemon here! 

The beauty of Cinque Terre deserves an entry all to itself, but let me just tell you this: the moment I laid eyes on that little dock with water breaking gracefully, colorful boats parked randomly, and vibrant houses piled onto each other behind me, I was tearing up. At this time, I was very well convinced that this whole trek to the other side of the globe, for a 3-day workshop, was all worth it-- and it hasn't even started.

No better backdrop for Escape Shop's star piece, the Turkana, than here.

I was so looking forward to meeting Justina come day one. Huge fan here. Her book The New Bohemians is my bible on design and interiors. I always get supercharged just flipping the pages. No one knows modern boho the way Justina does. So, imagine my delight meeting her. 

Photo by Azzurra Biagi

But wait, did I mention that the venue was in fact in a real(!) castle on top of a hill?

Photos by Azzurra Biagi

Our most fabulous host, Bianca of Italian Fix, greeting us by the door.

10,000 ++ steps everyday!

Photo by Azzurra Biagi

Jungalow Queen giving us a warm and jungalicious welcome. 

Photo by Azzurra Biagi

This view!

Photo by Azzurra Biagi

37 creative women in one room. It's overwhelming, energizing, and utterly inspiring.

Photo by Azzurra Biagi

It was easy making friends.

We were asked to wander around town and take IG-worthy photos.

Photos by Azzurra Biagi

While waiting for our tables at the piazza in Vernazza. 

Photo by Azzurra Biagi

 Happiest in the company of good wine, amazing food, and lovely people.

 Photo by Azzurra Biagi

Saluti!

 Photos by Azzurra Biagi

Dinner while the sun sets.

 The dress that launched a thousand Ciaos!

For our short lunches, we managed to down a bottle (or two) of local wine and all the soppressata and prosciutto in the world. 

Photo by Azzurra Biagi

We could do this all day.

Scavenging. OMG.

 Photo by Azzurra Biagi

When I grow up, I want to be like Justina and/or Bianca.

There was so much to take in from those 3 short days. From igniting creativity, to knowing the difference between authenticity vs originality, to finding your North Star (end goal), to keeping good company.

Though I am not about to give away all details here, as you might want to sign up for the next one, my greatest takeaway would be to feed your soul with positivity and all good things follow. May not always be the case but it sure gets you a little closer to your North Star. 

Best gift-to-self. Ever.

Grazie Justina, Bianca and all the lovely ladies I shared this most wonderful experience with. And GRAZIE MILLE Italy!

 

Your utterly inspired Purveyor-of-the-Uniq,

 

Bangkok Calling

Bangkok traffic and their signature hot pink cabs.

Bangkok traffic and their signature hot pink cabs. 

Only a few cities can boast about having it all: awesome food and shopping, an exciting nightlife with a cosmopolitan feel and modern amenities while still staying true to their heritage like Bangkok. I've been here a couple of times and each trip was a different experience. So apart from having one of my best friends as a resident, I decided to have my unofficial Hen weekend shebang in this vibrant city. Bangkok is a lot like Manila, albeit with more developed infrastructure and system. Anyone whos taken their BTS can tell you about the efficiency, convenience and cleanliness--a far cry from our own MRT. And even though the city has its own challenges with traffic, getting a cab or tuktuk is relatively easy and safe any time of the day or night. The nightlife, in my opinion, is quite at par with ours in terms of grandeur and options but the food is something else. We chose to forgo street food for fear of contacting a virus so close to the big day, opting instead to have organic fare, some fine dining, a hipster joint and foodcourt choices. Everything and I mean, everything was so very good! Bangkok is a mall-obsessed city, too. We checked out the newest one, EmQuartier, that had designer shops galore--local and foreign, an outdoor garden and splendid interiors as well as the more accessible ones like the famous Platinum mall that offers wholesale goods at bargain prices. My friends and I bonded over meals, drinks, walks and endless laughter in the comforts of the hotel and out, perhaps one of my favorite memories from the trip. All in all, an epic weekend that's one for the books! I'll let the photos do the talking. Sawasdee

 

EmQuartier is the newest mall devoting a whole floor to an outdoor garden!

Zen pocket gardens abound. 

Awesome view of the city.

The foodcourt was four floors high! 

A sample of the food court fare. This dry Tom Yum flavored noodles hit the spot! 

 

The next day, brunch was spent at Simple, totally nondescript on the outside...

...but inside was a cozy space conducive to long, lazy meals. 

We had a salad, bruschetta and this unforgettable french toast. 

Right next door was an equally cute shop-cum-cafe. 

Walking the clean and convenient overpass in between malls. 

Wearing my Ercilla top that was perfect for the balmy weather. 

All the walking got us hungry so we headed over to Rocket x Siwilai in Central Embassy. 

The bright and airy space was adjacent to a specialty boutique with a Scandinavian look. 

I had the Eggs Ben. Yummy!

Went crazy over the gorgeous John Varvatos store. Just look at those lights!

Photo op with my favorite top! 

Had some downtime so we trekked back to the Peninsula with this sublime view of the Chao Phraya river, the most expensive real estate in BKK. 

My BFF Ana in a Moroccan caftan blending in with the background. 

My Poznan overlap top felt a lot like their traditional costume. So soft and comfy! 

Merienda time at Sheepshank Public House, a very hip bistro by the river. 

Dinner took us to Benjarong at Dusit Thani hotel...

...where they served some of the best Thai food I've ever had. 

The interiors proved to be the perfect backdrop for my friend Agoo's outfit, an old STU fave. 

We joked that our unplanned outfits were like day and night. 

Capped off the evening at Sing Sing Theater, Bangkok's number one club. The interiors were sooo beautiful. 

My last meal before going home was at EAT or Eat All Thai. Home cooked northern Thai fare was the theme.

There is so much to love about Bangkok to fit into a single blog post. You have to experience it for yourself! 

Until my next adventure (which is incidentally, marriage!)

Your Purveyor-at-Large, 

Anne 

 

 

 

 

Dispatch from: India

 The Taj Mahal. It was more grand than I ever imagined.

In this little space we have here, travel and exploration is a constant topic we love to talk about. Almost everything we do and create is inspired by far-flung exotic locales and destinations. At the risk of sounding clichè, travel (and a whole lot of wanderlusting) is what fuels us around here. 

A little bit of shopping outside the City Palace in Jaipur. I couldn't have packed a more perfect caftan.

But, India. A double syllabic word that is more than just an exotic destination. Just saying the word conjures a myriad of emotions: excitement, curiosity, fear, anxiety, being a few. Just simply thinking about it engages my senses in a way that Mexico or Morocco did not.

The benches are essential as you stare at the monument in awe. Canvas totes proved well to be the perfect travel companions.

Life as they know it.

What they probably don't know is how colorful and vibrant it is.

Everyday wear at its finest (and brightest). Seek similar styles here. 

Even the elephants get the sprucing so really, everywhere you look is inspiring.

But, India. It sure is not for the faint-hearted. It took me two 2-week trips to realize how it is to have your wanderlust cured by a place like India or by any place for that matter. It changes you. It moves you. It heals you. Simply put, India is the lust in my wander.

What greets you and your feet at the Rambagh Palace.

I've never quite met a place vividly depicting life at both ends of the spectrum. The rich and poor; the heavily littered streets just outside the grand palaces; the boisterous honking on the roads and the quiet respite of the ashrams; the age-old Mughal architecture and the modern, contemporary lines of hip, new spaces. They're all here and they all happily coexist. 

The magnificent ceiling of the Winter Palace at the Amer Fort, Jaipur.

Going about her craft. The art of hand block printing. Seek linens all carefully crafted by hand, here.

 It was here when I truly traveled deeper. It wasn't long until I realized that travel is no longer about the things you take home but the memories and moments that shape you on that journey. Traveling to India gives you that exhilarating feeling of being so minuscule yet with so much power to touch lives. The places I've seen, the people I met, the food I ate-- I still think about them up to now. 

At the Rambagh Palace, Jaipur.

Manicured gardens as far as your eyes can see.

Behind the scenes.

Locks and buttons with a lot of old-world charm.

There are not enough words to define one's Indian adventure but I do hope this photo diary helped. India is one of those things in life that you have to experience for you to know. To truly know. 

The magnificent centuries-old marble inside the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Market day. Our caftans sure helped us blend in (at least a little). 

The Ottoman Empire.

Two things often said about India: either you love it or you loathe it. Yes, there will be plenty of moments when you will find yourself in a dense crowd jockeying for space and breath. But India, mind you, has a knack for making up for its shortcomings. It ain't called incredible for nothing. In my case, I loved it.

The best hangout in the Pink City happens to be in the most beautiful shade of blue. We've visited Jaipur twice and have gone to Bar Palladio five times. Yes, that's how much we love this place.

New discovery. Jobner Bagh. 

Hip space Jaipur Modern

Bindi welcome. Upon entering the Leela Palace, you're greeted by this.

So when an opportunity presented itself for us to have real online presence in the subcontinent, we jumped at it. We've made friends (a  lot), set up shop (online), and now call the subcontinent our second home

This milestone allows us to bring our venture to a global scale and to make our vendors, partners, and artisans proud. We couldn't be happier.

P.S. Indian city guides are in the works. Meanwhile, I hope this post triggered your wanderlust. After all, that was the whole point.

Your Purveyor of the Uniq,

 

 

Destination: Mexico City & Puebla

For many, Mexico, may not be top-of-mind for a holiday destination. For a city infamous for its pollution and security issues, suffice to say that this place is not exactly where you'd want to spend Christmas-- with 5 year-old preschooler in tow. 

But wanderlust got the better of us and so, with an open mind and heart we ventured into an unlikely destination that pretty much gave us the surprise of our lives-- Mexico is nothing short of amazing!

Mexico City or DF (pronounced as de efe) sure cleaned up its act and is now one of the world's most exciting metropolises. A stroll downtown (we did this by foot!) reveals the city's storied history, from its colonial-era splendor, Aztec temples, brazen contemporary edge, to its exploding culinary scene-- one can get easily overwhelmed. And I haven't even started about the shopping.

Happy tummies after a meal in Azul Condesa.

You'll never run out of places to eat in D.F. but here are a few musts.

Eat

Azul Condesa//  Calle Nuevo León 68, Cuauhtémoc, Hipódromo Condesa, 06100 Ciudad de México, D.F.
Delirio//  Monterrey # 116-B, esquina Alvaro Obregón; 06700 Mexico City, Mexico.
Biko//  Presidente Masaryk 407 Polanco, Miguel Hidalgo, 11550 Ciudad de México

 

Stay

Mexico City has a resurgent hotel scene. Leading the pack is D.F.'s first design hotel, Habita. Following suit is the tiffany-blue peppered Condesa DF. There are a myriad of choices on different levels of comfort and price points. One thing quite common in D.F. is that they are mostly design-driven.

And then of course, there is AirBnB, that so far has not failed us. Here we found a trendy flat in the tree-lined avenues of the hip district of Condesa. It has everything we needed. From the well-equipped laundry area to a Frozen dvd for our daughter (but in Portuguese)  plus a free paperback to boot (the owner is a writer). Needless to say, we had a very pleasant stay.

Spare a few days in D.F. before you head out to the beaches as there are loads to see and shop in the capital. 

See

Ciudad Universitaria// Perfect example of the marriage of art and architecture. Designed by Mexican architects Mario Pani and Enrique del Moral, this stunning structure marked the climax of Mexican modernism.

Museo Frida Kahlo// Also known as La Casa Azul for its cobalt blue walls. It's a historic house and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. 

Shop

Mercado de Artesanias de la Ciudadela// A marketplace where you'll find all manner of Mexican crafts and goods. Best to go in the morning when the stalls have just opened.

El Bazaar Sabado// Saturdays are best spent here! There's so much to see and shop. 

Avenida Presidente Masaryk// If markets are not your thing, hit this avenue where high-end global fashion labels converged. 

Celeste// Concept store offering unique and unusual objects from around the world. There's plenty to shop and have tea at their famed tearoom while at it.

When the hustle and bustle of the city begins to take a toll on you, drive or hop on a bus (the bus system is very efficient!) to nearby towns. There are a handful of historical sites surrounding the metro such as the pyramids of Teotihuacan and Tula. Not to mention the beaches being just a few-hours drive away. Acapulco, anyone?

We didn't have much time to hit the beach or anywhere far but curiosity and our itchy feet led us to the quaint town of Puebla, an hour's drive from the city and a world heritage site we explored by foot. Checking in on every domed church we stumbled upon and every interesting craft shop that stroke our fancy (there were many!)

I spent most of my time at El Parian. A market place set up in the San Roque square a few blocks from Puebla's main square. Almost every stall displays beautiful Talavera plates and intricately embroidered huipils.

Even my buying assistant was busy scouring the market for Mexican toys, dolls, and whatnots.

If there's anything that this place is known for, its the mole. Mole Poblano is what they call it here. It sure was the perfect cap to a short getaway.

This is not the end of our Mexican sojourn. I thought our little Oaxacan stint deserve a post of its own. After all it has effortlessly made it to my top most favorite cities in the world. See why on my next entry!

Your Purveyor of the Uniq,

 

 

All Aboard the Indian Express

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful and stylish mother-daughter duo as Suman and Anjie Gogna. Their gorgeous skin, deep eyes and perfect eyebrows are definitely to envy not to mention how they flawlessly pull off laidback luxe style. Suman was born in India and moved to the Philippines thirty years ago. She has since been going back at least twice a year to visit family and shop for her then home-based boutique, Gifts of the Maharani. Her daughter Anjie, a makeup artist, has also been helping her run the business. They recently opened OM: Lifestyle + Café where they serve the best samosas and gulab jamun amidst a treasure trove of embroidered kurtas, printed caftans, hand embroidered fabrics, intricate accessories and unique home décor. Everyone at the HQ has been itching to go to India and our Creative Head, Bliss is the first to live the dream so we asked these experts for pointers and insider tips.

What are your favorite things to do in India? What's the best thing about going there?

Suman: Bond with family and friends, get connected with the root and culture, and eat authentic Indian food. And of course, shop until we drop.

 What is the hardest thing about traveling there?

Suman: Personally, I don’t find it difficult because I was originally from there and well connected with the local culture and vibe. For foreign tourists, I would imagine it to be dealing with the public comfort rooms, transportation, foreign exchange and sometimes the language barrier.

Anjie: There are a lot of things I find similar between Delhi, where we travel to, and Manila. So basically it’s the things that make it difficult to travel here that make it difficult to get around there as well. For instance, when traveling in the summer, the intense heat gets draining and makes it harder to move around. There’s also crowds of people to deal with everywhere you go given the dense population.

What are the top three must see places?

Suman: For the first time tourist must to see is Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. It’s considered as a golden triangle. Delhi being the capital and still lot of British structures, beautiful architectural sites like the India Gate, President’s House, Red Fort, etc. In Agra, one can find the Taj Mahal, considered as one of the eight wonders of the world. It is a marble monument made by Maharaja Akbar for his beloved wife Mumtaz, embedded with semi precious stones. Jaipur is also known as “The Pink City”. It is a beautiful city of palaces and you will see the highlight of old culture and tradition.

Any advice for first time travelers? What should we expect?

Suman: They should travel with an open mind. They will encounter some beautiful sights and some also not so beautiful.

Anjie: Despite the notion people have of India being unsafe for women, it is just like traveling to any other country where there is always some danger when one puts himself in a vulnerable situation. So basically, it’s the same precautions you must take as with all travels - be careful of your belongings, don’t go out alone late at night avoiding places that aren’t centrally located. Other than that, travel with an open mind. Be open to witnessing everything from sights of intense poverty, to richness of culture, to cows chilling on the roads.

 What are the important things for us to bring and what should we absolutely get?

Suman: Travel light. In India, dress more for comfort than fashion. Or better yet, be comfortably fashionable in light shirts with harem pants or long dresses. Be in comfortable walking shoes and bring a hat to combat the heat at this time of the year. Drink only bottled water, and take some medicines for emergency.

Anjie: India is very fashion forward in the metropolitan areas but if you are traveling as a tourist, you still want to dress simpler as it is still a conservative country at the end of the day. Leave your short shorts behind or you could be stared at. Instead, be one with the culture and have fun dressing in Indo-western get ups such as gyspy skirts or harem pants with light shirts. Keeping a light shawl or sarong with you helps so you can use it to shield from the sun, or to protect the hair from dust during commute.

Coming home, you shouldn’t miss packing some Indian sweets, and anything from clothes to home décor or home linen adorned with any hand-done work such as embroidery or block printing. These are arts that have been passed on from one generation to another and no other country’s intricacy in detail can come close to that of India’s.

What is your take on the Filipinos view of Indian culture?

Suman: Filipinos have a mix view about Indian culture for some it’s a lifetime experience, It’s exotic.. Once is not enough. For others, they find it dirty, and there is poverty, the food is spicy.

Anjie: If the Filipino’s view of India is an exotic culture where there is much to be explored, then that would be a view I agree with. But if the Filipino’s view of India is a dirty, poor country that is unsafe, then I think, being from Manila, that is just a completely unfair way to look at India.

What do you want people to know about India?

Suman: India is the second oldest civilization so there is much to explore. It’s a mix culture country from east to west, north to south. It’s beautifully diverse that merely traveling from one state to another, one will already get to experience an extreme difference in culture, religion, language, food habits, arts even the religion and the climate.

 Why do you think everyone should travel to India?

Suman: Everyone should travel to India because it has a lot to offer from arts, culture, traditions and shopping.

Anjie: I think traveling to India is a truly enriching experience that as much as possible, one must experience in their lifetime. From culture, to arts, to flavors, it is a country that has so much to offer. All your senses will get activated and possibly overwhelmed with one travel to India.

Any funny/interesting travel anecdotes you can share?

Suman: While we were walking in the old part of Delhi once, a monkey swinging on the electrical wires just came from a building and grabbed my shades straight from my head!

 Anjie: We were stuck in a traffic jam on a rickshaw once and witnessed a guy from inside his car swinging a baseball bat out of his car window out of road rage!

How has your traveling to India affected you?

Anjie: We are both constantly inspired by the Indian lifestyle yet we enjoy living it out in a more modern way given that we are based in Manila. That influences our lifestyle from the way we designed our home, our boutique down to our clothing and accessories, which we wear and sell.

What is the best thing about traveling with your Mom/daughter?

Suman: The best thing is we have a company of each other. We enjoy the same things. It’s easier to shop. We could take better care when traveling with each other. And myself, having been born and bought up there, have better knowledge of what is best to do in the local sense like where to go, how to get there.

Anjie: That just means I have the best travel buddy, shopping buddy, and tour guide, all rolled into one!

 

 [All photos generously shared by the Gognas from their personal album]

 Watch out for more exotic and exquisite finds at our Indian Bazaar!

 

Your Purveyor-at-Large,

Fresh Beauty Harvest

It has been almost a month since I’ve been given the amazing task of testing & curating UNIQ beauty finds just for you.  Here’s a sneak peek into our selection process…  We are constantly on the look out for products that more or less fit this criteria:

-       Are made with authenticity & integrity

-       Are really actually effective and of the best quality

-       Are well-priced whether they are luxury or consumer brands

-       Are packaged well, with fun & love

-       Are not readily available in Manila*

-       Are produced with natural, organic ingredients*

 *As much as possible

The latest brand we have discovered for you is called NEAL'S YARD REMEDIES.  When I heard that Commander-In-Chic Mikka was stopping by London on her latest seeking adventure, I begged & pleaded for her to take home some fresh beauty picks from this beautiful brand.  Needless to say, she (and my secret beauty buyer) have fallen in love with it too!!

NEAL'S YARD REMEDIES is a hidden beauty gem in a tucked away little corner of Covent Garden, London.  Mikka was lucky to have visited the place herself and discovered that aside from beauty remedies, they also sold cheeses, fresh produce, and other organic wonders as well.

A LITTLE HISTORY – The brand was born in 1981. The founders like to think of themselves as pioneers in “organic beauty”. When they opened their first shop in Covent Garden, NEAL'S YARD was one of the few brands pushing against the synthetic chemical approach to skin and health care that had been adopted by much of the industry.

THEIR VISION – “To bring the expertise of the apothecary and our holistic approach to health and beauty to local people and their communities.”  

Apothecaries had a deep knowledge of herb-based remedies, establishing their own Worshipful Society, way back in 1617. One of the distinctive features of their trade was the blue bottles filled with herbs and potions that lined their shelves.  Neal's Yard believes that much of their time-tested knowledge was being lost and the world could do with a strong dose of what they used to offer.

The brand is slowly growing and is now opening stores all over the Middle East and Asia.

We have selected three of their STAR PRODUCTS for you to try.  We chose these three products because they are universally acceptable for ALL SKIN TYPES, are perfect for Asian skin concerns, and they honestly really work wonders!

NEAL'S YARD Wild Rose Beauty Balm – 50g

Nurtures and revitalises ALL SKIN TYPES.

The award-winning Wild Rose Beauty Balm can be used as a rich cleanser, gentle exfoliant, or deeply nourishing mask. The exceptionally high levels of wild rosehip oil – a potent antioxidant proven to help repair, firm and smooth the skin – are combined with geranium, starflower, hemp and rosemary seed oil, to help decongest and enrich the skin, restoring its natural radiance. Includes a free organic muslin cloth.

NEAL'S YARD Brightening Serum – 30ml

Diminishes appearance of dark spots for a more EVEN SKIN TONE

The concentrated brightening treatment targets dark patches and areas of hyper-pigmentation, while giving an overall more even, luminous complexion.

Infused with scientifically proven brightening African star grass with antioxidant vitamin C, moisturising tara and mineral-rich alfalfa to intensely brighten and correct uneven skin.

NEAL'S YARD Beauty Sleep Concentrate – 30 ml

Replenishes and recharges ALL SKIN TYPES

The luxurious, lightweight and easily absorbed Beauty Sleep Concentrate has been scientifically formulated to support your skin’s natural night time regeneration, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

PROVEN IN CLINICAL TRIALS TO INCREASE SKIN'S MOISTURE LEVELS BY UP TO 98% OVER 12 HOURS.

Infused with naturally regenerative narcissus tazetta bulb extract, a smoothing tri-peptide and antioxidant-rich nourishing grape seed oil, for skin that looks and feels beautifully moisturised, replenished and recharged. With a delightful blend of aromatherapy essential oils renowned for their calming, relaxing properties.

BEAUTY is a universal quest around the globe. Here at STU, we passionately seek for the best quality products  -- edited, tried & tested just for you.

Your Purveyor of Beauty,

#thevainmama

August 05, 2013

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Gone Seeking

Our lean team has gone seeking. When we don't get to respond to your messages immediately, please be a little forgiving. We ain't closing, we're just off to a little inspiration-refueling and some dream chasing. 

We keep to our promise of relentlessly bringing you good finds, and when we get back, we do so from this side of the world. May it be in actual tangible items or in the form of fresh ideas, views and perspectives. We can't wait to share them all with you!

Follow @shopseektheuniq on Instagram and come seek with us.

 

Your Purveyor of the Uniq,