London calling

I’ve always wanted to visit London and two weeks ago I finally had the chance to go in combination with a visit to the Warner Brothers Universal Studios to experience the making of Harry Potter and watch the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I guess you could say it was more or less a pretty nerdy trip.

We arrived in London early in the evening, got out of the airport, purchased an Oyster card, took the Tube and bus and arrived at our Airbnb pretty smoothly and swiftly, or so I thought. Turns out that my boyfriend and I miraculously managed to end up on the opposite side of town due to a certain misreading of street names. After a much lighter wallet and a cab driver as a new friend, we made it to our apartment as our stomachs were already ingesting themselves. We dropped off our things and headed to the nearest Restaurant (which happened to be pretty authentic Hong Kong cuisine) and I helped myself to a portion of chicken wings and char siu fan (Chinese bbq pork with rice). Too tired to explore much else, we turned in for the night so we could get an early start the next day.

The following morning we headed to Watford Junction to catch a train to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. According to Google Maps, what should have taken twenty minutes from Watford junction, ended up taking sixty. I have since then come to learn that there are actually two trains (one of them being an express one with fewer stops) and we OBVIOUSLY went and got on the slower one. Sometimes, I question my intelligence… sometimes! We however, did get a chance to have a look at our surroundings on the journey and the stark contrast between the flashy cars and shine and glamour of Central London and the outlying areas was pretty shocking. The neighbourhoods looked desolate in combination with the grey backdrop of a sky. The homes looked broken and the gardens untended with piles of rubbish and junk scattered everywhere, a sight one does not naturally associate with London.

Upon arriving at the studios, I felt like a seven year old again. Not only did we get a glimpse of some of the real sets used during filming, such as the great dining hall or the Gryffindor Common room, we got a close look at all the props and costumes used. We boarded the iconic Hogwarts train, posed for pictures in Hogwarts robes and got our first taste of Butterbeer (which is pretty much like Cream Soda topped with Ice-cream) and it was magical. I grew a new appreciation for the series and the amount of work and effort that must’ve been put in by the whole production team. If you’re an avid fan as I am, I highly recommend a visit, if you haven’t already been. I also read somewhere that the Forbidden Forrest will be a new addition to the studios in March.

Welcome to a new semester at Hogwarts.
Prof. Snape’s Potions Classroom. For the films, each individual bottle was filled with various items such as herbs and dried fruit and labels were all individually handwritten.
If only Quidditch was real.
This model was used to film the scenes of the castle with the backdrop of a green screen. There is so much detail in the model that I unfortunately cannot convey with a picture.

For once, thanks to what little self-control I have, I managed not to spend a fortune at the gift shop. I got myself a mug and the boyfriend came away with Voldemort’s wand. In the evening, we finally headed to the Palace Theatre ( a year and a half after booking the actual tickets) to watch the first part of the play.  I must admit, after giving up on reading the book, I was concerned that the play would not not live up to my expectations but J.K.Rowling had our backs all along and I couldn’t have been happier to be plunged back into a world of wizardry. The plot was gripping, the acting was wonderful and the production was effortless and well…for the lack of a better word, magical, a feat which evidently took a lot of time , practice and funding. For fear of spoiling someone else’s’ experience, I’m going to stop there.

The next day was spent visiting the British Museum which is much larger than I had imagined and is very overwhelming to try fit in a day so we stuck to the areas such as “Ancient Egypt” which interested us the most. I must also acknowledge that I was pleasantly surprised that there is no entrance fee.

“The Throne of Weapons” made of decommissioned weapons since the end of the Civil war in 1992, Mozambique.
Part of the Rothschild’s collection: A reliquary supposedly made to contain a thorn (seen centered) originating from the Crown of Thorns that was placed on Christ’s head before Crucifixion.
Ancient Greek Architecture.
The Rosetta Stone, which features writing in Egyptian and Greek with three writing systems: Hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek and was historical in helping to decipher the Ancient Egyptian language.

After a few hours at the museum, we were already off to watch part two of the play, which filled me with sadness once it was over but I will be back when it heads to Broadway!
Now as much as I’d like to get into all the other fun touristy things we did on the remainder of our trip, well, we didn’t.

With Benny catching a cold and the freezing and gloomy weather, we couldn’t bring ourselves to do much else than walk by the Tower Bridge and Big Ben and visit a cozy little market in the evening. How local Londoner’s manage to walk around in shorts and mini- skirts while it’s snowing outside is beyond me. Really.

Little Josie, Big Ben.
Me clearly taking in the sights.
A lovely market we happened to stumble upon.
One of my favourite stores – It’s like waking into a fairytale.

And that was pretty much my trip in a nutshell. Before getting on our plane home, we popped into a a local diner for a proper english breakfast ( which in my opinion should be an everyday thing) featuring beans, eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and hash browns . I felt that we left a lot out on this trip and didn’t get to do as much as I would’ve liked but on the other hand, the two extra days there would’ve cost a fortune! I had heard that London was expensive, but the prices were bordering on insanity. On most occasions I had found that i’d be able to get two full meals in Austria for the price of one in London and when I was told my small beer cost about six euros, all I could do was stare like an Idiot. Nonetheless, I plan to come back for another adventure in London, perhaps when the weather is more suiting.

– A Pearl of the Orient.


What I didn’t expect in my early twenties.

As a kid, I often imagined myself all grown up. I pictured myself in my mid-twenties, living in my own apartment in a big city, with a successful job, an adorable golden retriever and a bathtub filled with 100 dollar bills. One day, reality got out of bed and proceeded to give me a slap in the face. So without further ado, here are a few things that didn’t turn out the way I expected.

 Not looking like an adult
This is not to say that I get mistaken for a child but …a prepubescent teenager at the least. Whereas this generations 12 year olds are busy looking like young adults, I’m still getting ID’d at the local supermarket for trying to buy a bottle of wine for gods sake.  WHERE IS THE JUSTICE!?

Not being a makeup godess
I have yet to master the fine arts of makeup. Though I can just about manage to put on foundation, blush and mascara, anything beyond that is pushing it. If I try to do anything out of the ordinary or involving more than two eyeshadow colours I tend to end up resembling Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I’ve also pretty much given up on trying to work false lashes for a night out. Most attempts have ended in a tantrum, tears, a faceful of smeared eyeliner and me back in my pyjamas. Ladies, it ain’t pretty.

Not being mature
Wasn’t I supposed to go through a life-changing transformation by now? I thought I’d wake up one day and I don’t know…know how to adult? I’m pretty sure I have the same mental state as I did a few years ago, I’m just better at hiding it. Someone farting? Still hilarious . Getting ‘cooties’ from boys because they are ew? Still a thing.

 Not being able to eat whatever
I know, I was shocked too. Contrary to wishful thinking, one can no longer eat Mcdonalds 5 days a week as well as a variation of sweets and chips without consequences. Now I actually have to TRY make health-conscious choices. When I don’t ( which happens more often than not) at least I feel guilty about it! I am going places.

Not being at the epitome of my party life
I thought finally being legal, I’d go all out. I’d leave my inhibitions behind and spend countless nights partying till dawn. Instead of having my tolerance increase, it has hit rock bottom. When three beers get you borderline drunk, you have a problem. Also, hangovers feel 100 times worse. I don’t know how I ever went out over more than 2 consecutive nights in a row. I can try to stick to wine spritzers all night to minimize the damage but you can bet that I’ll still wake up feeling like my bodys been dragged to hell and back again. Twice.  Plus let’s admit it, the best part of a night out now adays is the kebap on the way home though technically, it could probably be made of carpet and it would still taste bomb.

My love for red wine
Ok I realise I was just whining about hangovers but red wine is love. Women in movies like Sex in the city are portrayed for loving their wine and lots of it. Not that long ago I would have gagged at the thought so I don’t know how I got here, but there’s no going back. A glass of red wine after a stressful week or accompanying me on a night in is like having a warm, emotion filled embrace (in liquid form). Then I pass out, mouth open, hand in spaghetti, feeling like I’m lying in a bed of roses.

Having a schedule
I used to heavily judge those who had a calender and had to ‘check their schedule’ before agreeing to making plans.It sounds so obnoxious , right? I HAVE BECOME THAT PERSON. I probably wouldn’t make it through my semester without ical and god forbid if I lose that planner. I can actually use that pretentious line ‘I’ll pencil you in for Wednesday from 7 to 745pm’ and be dead serious about it. When it comes to brunches with my friends? It takes intense planning and swapping of schedules before we can agree to meet…three weeks later.

Not finding my calling
I have so many talented friends who have really figured out where they are going in life and are headed straight to the top. Me? I’m pretty much just chilling. I don’t quite know what to do with myself just yet. As for exceptional talents, I’m still looking. I can make really ugly facial expressions though? And my eyelids are really pudgy? That must count for something!

So a lot has changed and not everything happened like I thought it would but that is the wonderful thing we call life and as we’ve all figured out, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
Have a great weekend!

-A Pearl of the Orient.


The Asian Stereotype

Okay, so I know I’ve been MIA for a while (thank you to those who have held me accountable), I bow my head in shame. I knew that once Uni was in full swing, blogging would have to take a back seat and this semester I’ve been battling with a lovely subject called statistics which takes up a good chunk of my week in terms of assignments and contrary to popular belief, not all asians are good at maths. With that being said, I thought todays blogpost would cover the top stereotypes I’m regularly confronted with.

1. No, I am not a mathematical genius nor do I like to elaborate on the theory of blackholes in my spare time. In Highschool, I despised physics with a burning passion and I’m so out of practice with maths that sometimes I can’t even calculate the difference between 30 and 13 in my head while working at the cash register.

2. I do not spend my days studying diligently in a dimly lit room surrounded by cans of redbull on the floor. I believe grades are important but I’m also practically a sloth and it takes an enourmous amount of willpower to get myself to sit at my desk. My parents had to bribe me with an Ipod nano for good grades when I was 16.  Also, much to my mothers disappointment back then , I did not go on to study law or medicine like all the other korean kids she knew.

3.Just because my eyes become non-existant when I laugh doesn’t automatically mean I’m chinese. I know this may come shocking to some, but Asia actually consists of quite a few countries.

4.Granted, we asians do sometimes eat some pretty weird stuff, not all of us are fond of the idea of eating live baby rats or any other strange thing you can come up with. If I get asked one more time if I like to eat dog, yours is going to go missing.

Infact, I seem to be a terrible example for a stereotypical asian. Did you know that I can’t even hold chopsticks properly? My austrian friends do a better job of that than me and if you gave me a bowl of ramen, I wouldn’t be able to loudly slurp the noodles up even if I wanted to…(believe me, I’ve tried). Fine, I might admit that I suck at driving ( yes, even Mario kart), did Taekwondo as a kid, and lack ‘junk in the trunk’ but that’s all you are getting out of me!

All in all though, I do take the stereotyping with good humour because they must’ve originated somewhere and at the end of the day it’s good to not take yourself too seriously.

Have a lovely week!
– A Pearl of the Orient.

The woes of working retail

Photo copyright of : www.aubergeduquartierquebec.comWorking in retail, I come in to contact with many different types of people over the course of the day. When you see certain types of people regularly you begin to categorize them like I have and can spot them out the second they set foot in the store. So, i’ve compiled a list of some of the more ‘interesting’ customers my colleagues and I have the ‘pleasure’ of working with.

The Groper-

The groper loves to touch. No, not people but clothes. The groper is fairly common and can easily be recognized when they enter the store. They rush for the nearest table and begin feeling over each and every single piece of clothing with no intention whatsoever of buying said item. Heaven forbid if we have something fluffy.

The Bargain hunter –

The bargain hunter is 90 percent of the time asian ( we do like our good deals) and comes in regularly to check what is on sale . If we have sweatpants for clearance, you know they’re about to buy ten pairs and ask you five times if you have more sizes in the back. You also know that if by accident, a pair of sweat pants that cost 29.99 instead of 28.99 slipped into the pile, they will be returning to the store shortly after the purchase, receipt clutched in hand.

The Stubborn shopper-

This stubborn shopper walks in already looking a little forlorn. They can either be found walking in circles or staring at an item like it’s just grown a face . When approaching said person and asking if they would like assistance, you can bet that the answer is ‘no’. The other week, I approached a young lady who looked like she was having trouble with finding jeans in her size. When I asked if I could advise her, she insisted she was fine. She then proceeded to wreck all the neatly folded stacks to take out 5 pairs of the same jeans in the same size. When I kindly pointed this out, she mumbled an ‘ I know’ and went to the fitting room to try on EVERY SINGLE PAIR. Gee, I wonder why none of them fit…?

The Walking fashion show-

The walking fashion show is extremley profitable when they show up to the cash register with full arms but more often than not, they show up to the fitting rooms with half the store, parade around a mirror and after an hour of trying everything on, leave empty handed. Wasted time for both me AND you, bud.

The #rkoi (Rich kid of Instagram) –

The #rkoi is almost always a girl ranging in age from 14 to 18 years old. She struts in with her Michael Kors purse in one hand and the holy grail: her Iphone 6 in the other and her freshly manicured nails glitter as she hands you daddys credit card. Yes child, please let me assist you in spending my months equivalent of rent on some clothes.

The Tornado-

The cherry on the cake :The Tornado, is my least favourite of all people. They enter the store, wreck it and leave it looking like a hurricane just hit. No mercy. Regardless of the fact that you clearly JUST folded that pile of tank tops, they aren’t shy. They’ll go right ahead and annihilate your hard work. Suddenly there’s a trail of jumpers on the floor, a half naked mannequin and somewhere in the corner, a crying coworker.

So go on, own up… which type are you? Let me know in the comment section below!

P.S.  It doesn’t actually matter, i hate you all.

–  A Pearl of the Orient.

Hole in my pocket.

It’s the end of the month and once again, i find myself scraping pennys . I’m sure many of you are familiar with the situation.

I’d compare checking my back account to watching a gory scene in a horror film. You know if you take your hand away and take a peek, you won’t be able to sleep but you have a sick urge to do it anyway. Then, you have the audacity to be shocked at what you see even though you knew what was coming all along.

In all honesty though, it’s a situation i should have the ability to control, but damn it , it’s so hard! Working in retail and spending half my week in a mall and having a bottomless pit for a stomach doesn’t exactly make it much easier. The funniest part is my brain then goes into panic mode and i lose all sense of reasoning. The urge to spend becomes about 100 times stronger. Suddenly, i’ve decided that I’m going to spend my last 2 euros on a cheeseburger at Mcdonalds and that i’ll sustain myself on potatoes for the next few days. I’m currently incredibly greatful for the 15 packets of migoreng in my cupboard. If you don’t know what that is, google it. You’re missing out.

Anyway, #firstworldproblem rant OVER! I’ve openly admitted I have a problem and acceptance is the second step to recovery, right?

– A Pearl of the Orient.

My friend posted this on instagram the other day. Had to chuckle.
My friend posted this on instagram the other day. Had to chuckle.

Ready to find your prince?

I love my mum and she’s taught me more valuable lessons in my life then I can count.
Granted she didn’t always use the gentlest of means to teach me but I mean … most korean mums don’t. But we’ll get to my hilarious and memorable upbringing another time.

My mum made me aware of the law of attraction at a very young age and always reminded me to clearly visualise and consciously work towards what I wanted in the future- the cosmos would handle the rest. This involved multiple drawings of mansions and future houses i would live in and of the man i would one day marry. But a quickly scribbled drawing of a man in purple crayon can only do so much. So she told me to write a list of all the most important attributes my future prince charming would have to have and keep it safe. Ofcourse I wanted to jot down every positive adjective recorded in the dictionary but after some careful reconsideration and multiple edits, i had done it and was content with the Prince i had conjured on paper.

As obvious as it seems now, it was only a few days ago when i randomly started thinking about my list from all those years ago ( which i still have by the way) that i realised how genius it actually is . I can only recommend you write your own for the following reasons:

1) The Law of attraction. I absolutely believe that the things we truly desire and envision have a way of finding their way to us. Unfortunately, nothing comes without a little elbow grease which leads me to my next point.

2) A list will help you reflect on your own character…yes, i’m talking about all your negative aspects too! Once you’ve acknowledged your own weaknesses , you’re ready to work on them and make sure that YOU are the person your prince would want to be with. Ever heard of the saying: ”Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity”? Well this is that. Increase your chances while you’re ahead.

3)It’s okay to have set standards! You don’t have to waste time kissing every single frog in the pond because you’ll recognise when someone checks the blank boxes. If you’re just looking for fun, that’s ok too but when it really comes down to it,  you’ll be able to distinguish between a summer fling and something that may be leading somewhere ( excuse the vague language).

So what are you waiting for? Grab that pen & paper and let the universe handle the rest. What 3 qualities are at the top of your list?

– A Pearl of the Orient.