Travel Diary: Lima, Peru (Day 1)

lima-region-peru

When people think of South America, drug cartels, violence, and guerrillas automatically come to mind. But those misconceptions do not even come close to the real South America. The continent may not be postcard perfect like Europe, but it is teeming with history, culture, and natural beauty – a true backpacker’s paradise.

For months, my hubby and I prepared for our first trip as a married couple and when it came down to choosing which country to visit, we decided to go with Peru.

Home to a section of the Amazon rainforest and one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Peru is more than the World Heritage site Machu Picchu – the famed Incan citadel perched on top of the Andes Mountains. Peru’s capital Lima alone offers a wealth of sites and attractions for many kinds of travelers.

The city boasts different types of architecture, from Renaissance-style cathedrals and towers to neoclassical chapels and buildings. And because Peru was a former Spanish colony, Baroque style balconies can be seen in various parts of the city.

It’s also interesting to note that Lima is a Sister City of Manila, Philippines, my home country. They share many cultural and linguistic similarities due to the Philippines’ 300-year-long history with Spain. But that’s a story for another time.

Before arriving in Lima, we were pretty much aware of the security situation in the city, as well as the terrible traffic. But having lived in Manila for more than 5 years, I think Lima is not as scary and stressful as many make it out to be. 😉

We were, however, extremely wary of getting ripped off by taxi drivers, so we used Uber throughout our stay in Lima. The last thing we wanted was to get in a sticky situation with the locals, we felt using the app would be the safest option. Booking an Uber ride wasn’t a problem (or so we thought) since most of the places we ate at had WiFi.

But for the most part, our stay in the capital was quite pleasant. It also helped that I can pass as a Latina and my hubby speaks good Spanish so we didn’t have a lot of trouble exploring. In fact, it was fun seeing the bewilderment on their faces when they talk to me in Spanish then I would respond with “No hablo Español,” and my husband would speak for me. It was like I could hear them thinking how can this Chinese-looking guy speak Spanish but not this chica? :’D

On our first day in Lima, we toured the following sites:

MATE – Museo Mario Testino

One of the greatest treasures of Peru is not a place but a person. Mario Testino is among the world’s most prolific fashion photographers, having shot almost every famous person you can think of – from A-list celebrities and supermodels to none other than the British Royalty.

museo-mario-testino

Perhaps his most iconic work is his portraits of Princess Diana, which he shot for Vanity Fair in 1997. Those pictures turned out to be the last portraits the world will ever see before the Princess’ tragic death the same year. These portraits, along with a replica of the Versace dress Princess Diana wore during the photo shoot, are now displayed in MATE – Museo Mario Testino in Barranco, Lima – Testino’s hometown.

mate-museo-mario-testino

My personal favorite, however, is Testino’s portraits of Peruvian locals from Cusco, donned in their colorful traditional attire. Named the Alta Moda series, the collection exquisitely depicts the heritage and culture of Peru.

mario-testino-alta-moda
mario-testino-peruvian

If you look closely, you’ll notice intricately embroidered symbols and geometric patterns on the subjects’ capes and skirts. These symbols hold a very special meaning for the Quechua, the direct descendants of the Incas in Cusco, Peru.

After visiting MATE, we decided to grab lunch and explore some parts of Barranco district. If there’s one thing that unites Peruvians, it’s their love for color. This part of town is honestly so Instagram-worthy, I think I snapped a photo of every establishment in the area (lol). From the libraries to the cafes, every building is painted its own bright color.

barranco-lima
lima-barranco

Parque de la Reserva

After lunch, we headed straight to Parque de la Reserva in downtown Lima to catch the popular light and water show, called the Cirquito Magico del Agua. We paid 4 soles each to enter the park – not bad considering the various activities you can do inside. We arrived quite early for the show so we spent most of our time lounging and people watching.

park-of-the-reserve

It was interesting to see the similarities between Filipinos and Peruvians. They’re so laid back and so affectionate towards family and friends, which made me miss home a little bit.

I wish I took photos of the water show but I was so fascinated by the whole thing, taking pictures didn’t cross my mind. This is the same fountain, taken both during the afternoon and at night before the show began.

The show ended at around 8PM. It was still quite early, but wandering in the dark in a foreign country can be scary. After eating dinner at one of the makeshift restaurants outside the Plaza de Reserva complex, we looked for a cafe with WIFI to book an Uber. Unfortunately, we got lost and ended up on a sketchy street. We were scared shitless so we decided to go back to where we started and eventually found a restaurant that allowed us to use their WIFI.

We got home safe and sound. And despite what happened, we were excited as hell for the next day’s adventure.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Finding Hygge

In the age of carefully curated posts and well-manicured social media feeds, the idea of perfection has become so ingrained in our modern culture that many of us live our lives chasing it. But what does it mean, really?

Up until a year ago, I used to compare myself a lot with my fellow bloggers and influencers, wondering how and why they’re so successful online. This pretty much guaranteed I would find a flaw to obsess over. I’m not tall and skinny enough; I’m not white enough; I’m not pretty and popular enough; or I’m not rich enough. None of those times ever made me feel good about myself, but I would do it over and over again in hopes of finding the magic formula. Sounds cruel, I know but welcome to the blogger world!

danish-hygge
finding-hygge
coach-saddle-bag
what-is-hygge

Throughout my blogging “career”, I have had several existential crises. But after countless late-night talks with my husband and some much-needed introspection, I finally began to see how far I’ve come as a little girl who dealt with so much trauma in her life.

I realized perfection is just a construct. Every day, we’re fed with images of the dream life, of people with #bodygoals. But the truth is, it’s all an illusion. What may seem perfect to us, may not be ideal for us if we look beyond the surface. I remember there was a point when I tried so hard to follow trends just to fit in with my peers, but in the end it only made me look ridiculous and feel much more miserable than I ever was because I wasn’t being honest with myself. I wanted people to like me for me, not for the person I was pretending to be.

On top of that, being perfect puts so much undue pressure on us that we often miss out on really living. Because being a blogger takes work. You need to maintain an image (or a brand, if you will) especially on social media. You need to update your Instagram page at least once a day, otherwise, you’ll lose followers. You need to make sure your feed is cohesive. Yada yada yada.

Every time my husband and I went out, I had to make sure I was well-dressed for Instagram. Then we’d spend about an hour taking photos so I have something to post. It made me sad because it’s taking away precious time that we could have used to explore hidden corners of a bookstore or just simply enjoy a cup of coffee while chatting – things I consider my hygge. Things that truly make me happy.

I’m not saying everything I posted was fake, but I felt they did not truly represent me – how I was feeling that day, what was running through my head, etc. You know, real stuff. All these social media “rules” stressed me out so much that I decided to temporarily quit being a blogger and influencer. I wanted to make sure that when I return – I’ve found my happiest, most authentic self.

So here I am. Back from the depths of self-loathing and dissatisfaction more content and happier than ever. I don’t know where this newfound state of mind will take this blog, but I guess we will all find out together. 🙂

Photos taken by Chad on our way home after a bookstore date.
Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL

Cruelty-Free Everyday Makeup Routine

If you’ve read my previous posts, you are probably aware of my decision to use natural and/or cruelty-free products as much as I can. I personally believe that no animal needs to suffer for the sake of beauty, and choosing cruelty-free products is the first step in ending animal testing.

cruelty-free-makeup

Clockwise: Earth & Eve 8-Hour Lip & Cheek Stain and Blush | Urban Decay Naked 3 Eyeshadow Palette | e.l.f. Contouring Kabuki Brush | Bite Beauty The Lip Pencil 022 | 100% Pure Luminous Creme, Starlight | NYX Butter Lipstick Staycation | 100% Pure Bamboo Blur Powder (similar)

So even though I’ve done an everyday makeup routine post before, I decided to make a new one featuring my favorite cruelty-free makeup essentials, which are also *mostly* green brands by the way.

Before

Honestly, I’m not big on foundations. I feel my skin suffocating whenever I wear one so I only use it for special occasions. So for my everyday makeup, I keep it as light as possible – with only a bit of concealer to hide blemishes, red spots, and eye bags. I’ve been using Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Concealer for almost a year now, mainly because I haven’t found a product with better coverage so far. P.S. Do not forget to cleanse, tone, and moisturize BEFORE putting makeup on your face.

I guess many would agree with me that Urban Decay’s Naked Palettes are a must-have for every girl. The pigments are so pretty and not as saturated as other eyeshadow brands (which is a good thing for me). I often use the shades Limit, Nooner, and Trick (in that order). They have warm tones, which complement my tan complexion perfectly.

For the blush, I use a couple of cheeks stains which was given to me by Em Smith, a fellow Filipina blogger, just recently. These were made in the Philippines, and I’m happy that my country is finally producing more natural, safer makeup products. Please check out Earth & Eve on Instagram. I use the 8-Hour Lip&Cheek Blush as base and bronzer, then dab a bit of the 8-Hour Lip&Cheek Stain to give my cheeks that subtle rosy effect.

Highlights aren’t really a regular part of my routine but I decided to use one for this look to test the product. I’ve heard a lot of good things about 100% Pure, an organic cosmetic company that I recently discovered while scouring the interwebs for quality organic makeup, so I picked this up along with the Bamboo Blur Powder below. I like how it applies, but methinks it’s not reflective enough to create a noticeable effect (?).

100% Pure advertises this powder as translucent, but I don’t think that’s quite true. The first time I tried this, my face looked white (in a bad way). I also have a normal to combination skin, so it makes my skin a bit too matte – I had to brush off a lot of the product to get the look I want.

Then lastly, I always finish my look with a mix of Bite Beauty’s Lip Pencil in Beige Nude (base), NYX Butter Lipstick in Staycation (color), and Earth & Eve 8-Hour Lip&Cheek Stain (tint).

After

everyday-makeup

What do you think about this look?

Cruelty-Free Beauty: Michael Todd Beauty Sonicblend Review

As a makeup noob, I’ve always had difficulty choosing the right makeup brushes – particularly, foundation brushes. I’ve seen several videos using different kinds of brushes – but who would buy a dozen different ones for applying foundation? I’d rather do it using my fingers, to be honest. But when I found out about Michael Todd Beauty, a cruelty-free beauty company, and their new sonicblend anti-microbial makeup brush I was curious to see how it works.

Here’s the lowdown on this revolutionary tool:

  • It’s the world’s first ever makeup brush that applies makeup at sonic speeds of up to 200 times per second.
  • It has built-in protection against microbial contamination.’
  • It uses the Smart 3D Flaw-Fill Technology, sonic movements that help create a natural-looking airbrushed finish.
  • Before using it for the first time, you will need to charge the brush handle using the charging cable for 3 hours.
  • There are 3 customizable speeds available.

And here’s the test that I did:

Swatch


I used Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Liquid Foundation in medium for my skin tone. The Smart 3D Flaw-Fill Technology provides gentle microbrush strokes per second for dispersing the products into large pores, wrinkles, and fine lines.

Actual

This technology allows for a flawless look. I was pretty satisfied with the coverage I got. I’ve been using the same foundation for about a year now, but this brush is actually pretty good. The bristles are so soft, and I didn’t have to use and waste a lot of liquid foundation because the sonic movements helped distribute it evenly on my face.

I also liked the fact that it looked so natural afterwards. Check out the simple Red Lip Tutorial I did below using Michael Todd Beauty’s sonicblend anti-microbial makeup brush.

DISCLAIMER: The product was sent to me complimentary by Michael Todd Beauty for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Cruelty-Free Beauty: Cowen Enterprise Review

Working for an organic and cruelty-free beauty company, I became more aware of the harm synthetic chemical and animal-derived ingredients can do to our health and environment. Late in the fall, I began transitioning to more natural skincare products that haven’t been tested on animals.

It was hard saying goodbye to products I’ve been using for years, but I’ve been lucky enough to get a chance to review products that align with my new beauty goal. Last month, I received these products from Cowen Enterprise, a health and skincare company that uses only natural ingredients in their formulations, for review.

I got to test Bio-Gold Crystal Anti-Aging Restructuring Firming Essence and the Bio-Gold Crystal Whitening Lifting Mask.

The Firming Essence uses Active Gold, Ginseng Extract, and natural herb essences that promote skin cell regeneration, leaving the skin youthful and silky smooth. While the Lifting Mask contains marine collagen, ginseng extract, and natural antioxidants that fight off free radicals that speed up skin aging.

I tried both products for 2 weeks and here are my results:

After that period, I could see and feel the difference. My skin actually looked brighter and felt firmer and smoother. Even my husband was amazed.

I applied the Essence twice a day and used up all of its contents just right in time for this review. The liquid was a bit runny, but I figured it was essential for maximum skin absorption. I’m fully satisfied with the outcome that I honestly wouldn’t mind purchasing one.

As for the mask – I’m in love with it! My skin has never felt softer and refreshed than it did since using the mask. It also helped that the mask was made of jelly so you can really see and feel your skin absorbing all the good stuff.

Have you tried any of their products before?

***

DISCLAIMER: The products were sent to me complimentary by Cowen Enterprise for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

FOLLOW @DAFNYDUCK

Copyright © 2018 · Hosted by Jehzlau