I’VE MOVED TO MY OWN DOMAIN

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Hi lovely readers,

I’ve recently moved my blog to my own domain so here’s the new address http://youtopiantravels.com! 😀 I’m still getting a hang of how to operate a self-hosted site, so bear with me if the site looks a bit unkempt. Meanwhile, the new post is up and have a wonderful winter holiday!

See you on the other side! 🙂 x

A GUIDE TO TRANSPORT IN MELBOURNE: Because Google Maps Can’t Be Your Friend

When google maps can’t be your friend, you know you’re in some kind of trouble. Oh-no. But fret not, that’s the whole point of this post. 😉 Unlike Sydney, Melbourne’s public transport system is still not linked to google maps and people have been asking for years, so it can get a little daunting because google maps would either ask you to drive 15 minutes or walk 1.5 hours.


image credit

Before you think about going around, you’d first have to get yourself a myki card! It’s their version of Singapore’s ezlink card, Hong Kong’s octopus card, Japan’s pasmo card, Taiwan’s you you card (that’s gonna link with Singapore’s one soon!) and Chicago’s ventra card. Ok, you got the drift. And like some other countries, this transport card is only for Melbourne‘s public transport, which extends to 6 surrounding towns.

You can get it and add value immediately from any 7-eleven, the ticket office window at Premium Stations, staffed V/Line Commuter Stations, myki machines at all train stations, major tram and bus interchanges. You can also buy them online or call 1800 800 007 (6am – midnight daily).

Cost: $6 for full fare cards (visitors), or $3 for senior citizens or children.

Tips:

  • The card is totally non-refundable so do not top up so much money at one go. Their rides (trams, trains, buses) are approximately $3 one way, but the good thing is the expenses are capped at $6.06 (within 2 hours) or $12.12 the entire day on weekdays, and $6 on weekends for full fare cards. So the trick is to go further places (say, Brighton Beach and St Kilda) during the weekends and just chill around the city centre (say, Degraves St and Flinders St Station) during the weekdays. You can read more about Melbourne from my previous posts (here, here and here).
  • They have a 7-days pass for $60.60, so you may want to consider that if you’re going for a week. But I’d suggest you do your math, because if you’re only going to use it for some days then it may not be worth it after all.
  • The card has an expiry date which you can check online (mine is about 4 years). So if you know people who’ve been to Melbourne recently, you could buy/rent from them instead if you’re just going for a short trip.Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 7.06.57 pm
  • Take the free circle city tram 35 instead on weekdays! (route map above // source)

Now that you’ve gotten the card ready, you’d need some other apps to help you get around instead.

Transport apps

1. tramTracker
2. PTV (Public Transport Victoria)

They’re pretty useful and it takes awhile to learn how to manage them concurrently. But PTV has the Google maps function that we all wanted – all the possible ways to get from one destination to another (it’s called Journey Planner). So for that, I’d say it’s good enough! Both apps are available in Google Play Store and iPhone App Store. Details of how to use the app are also available on their websites (tramTracker and PTV).

Point to note: Both apps do not function offline so you’d require mobile data. However if you’re coming out from a cafe/hostel/hotel with wifi, you still can track them using their websites (same as the links given above).

And this is your Melbourne train map updated as of 2013. The City Loop (almost similar to The Loop in Chicago) is where all the major attractions are, and where the free city circle tram loops at.

p/s This post is true to the time of update. There may be future changes to deem this post useless, but till then, hope this helps! 🙂

p/s Every amount stated are in Australian dollars.

keep travelling,
J

Travelling Skincare Guide 101: For Both Men and Women [Winter Edition]

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Winter is coming (or here for some – cue Canada that’s already snowing!!), and if you’re absolutely clueless about skincare while travelling in winter, here’s a quick and simple guide for you to be ready! This also applies to men who are mostly clueless about skincare – and by skincare I don’t mean piling on serums and moisturisers. It’s actually pretty easy, if you follow me through. 🙂

1. SUNSCREEN

I’ve been using this for over a year now and it works great! // image credit

Even girls make this mistake: neglecting sunscreen altogether during winter since you don’t see the sun. People be like, “there’s no sun and no warmth especially when places are just piled up in snow”, so what’s there to block? UV rays. Those UV rays are some invisible monster that damages your skin more during winter than summer. I shan’t go too scientific here but yes, please remember your sunscreen SPF50-100 (good for outdoors) when you’re travelling. It’s so essential for your skin I can’t emphasise enough! But the good thing about sunscreen during winter is: you just have to apply them on your face and nowhere else since you’re all covered up. You can read more proof here.

2. LIP BALM
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Vanilla Coke flavoured lip balm (Las Vegas); Maybelline Baby Lips lip balm (London ON)

Yeah those lips are always, always forgotten. I’m not talking about lip gloss or lipsticks (most of them don’t contain SPF anyway), I’m talking about those plain old colourless lip balms (although now many comes with some colour) with SPF. Yes, sunscreen for your lips! For guys, stick to those colourless ones.

If you’re from Southeast Asia like myself, your lips would be very accustomed to the humidity. So when we head overseas during their winter seasons, our lips would become exceptionally dry (sometimes even on the plane). So you’d need lip balm to act as a lip moisturiser before it starts to crack!

Tip: Apply lip balm before you sleep if your lips are prone to cracking because your lips would be dehydrated after 8h of dryness.

3. A PAIR OF GOOD SUNGLASSES
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After we’re done protecting your face, body and lips, it’s time to move on to your eyes! Like your lips, the eyes are always neglected because we… just don’t think of it. If you’re going to a country with high snowfall, you definitely should bring along a pair of sunglasses because snow and ice could reflect up to 80% of the UV rays. Don’t belittle the rays, I’ve experienced it myself and I had to squint my eyes so bad sometimes back in Canada! And long exposure to these rays with our naked eyes may increase the risk of cataract in future. You don’t want that, do you?

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on me: Aldo sunglasses for CAD$10

Tip: If you don’t want to invest in a good pair (read: expensive) of sunglasses, you can buy a pair from some reputable chain stores at a lower price, but look for tags that says UV100 at least. Some protection is always better than none!

4. HAND CREAM
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PINK by Victoria Secret hand cream (London ON)

Dry skin? Coming from a tropical SEA country? You cannot leave this out. You don’t want those hands to crack and suffer in pain before you decide you should get one of these. You don’t have to buy expensive ones, any lotion from the drugstore is good enough.

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Walgreens USD$1.99 body lotion (Chicago), Bath & Body Works hand cream (my favourite!) (NYC)

Why is this important? You need to use your hands for everything, from washing your hands after every toilet visit, to eating, to bathing, to shopping, so you’d take off your gloves and expose your hands, which when cracked, would be too painful and annoying. I’ve been there, so trust me on this. (I’ve photo proof, but I think it’s a little disturbing to put here)

Tip: Buy a small one that you can keep inside your outer wear (say, down jacket)’s pocket. Because you have to keep using!

5. WATER/ FACIAL SPRAY

Think winter, then think static? YES goddamn static which I personally hate so much but have no way to stop them! I’m one unfortunate being that loves winter but nevertheless gets tortured every time during winter. My hair would fly and float around (starting from the plane ride), to getting electrocuted whenever I touch anything metal (read: water taps, door knobs, door handles etc), to getting all my clothes stuck to my skin, to getting all the static sounds when changing in and out (or when trying clothes), to accidentally electrocuting whoever’s beside me – basically my torture doesn’t end. If you can empathise with me, you’re my friend.

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Eau Thermale Avène facial spray, Bio-essence Spring Water face/hair/body spray (both from Singapore)

Fortunately for some of you, you won’t experience what I’ve been through. But for those who face the same problem, water/ facial sprays are good things to bring along when you’re on and about! Just spray those water and fight those annoying static.

Tip: Cheapest option is to grab a small plastic spray water and fill with tap water. It’ll do the job perfectly 🙂

6. MOISTURISER
I swear by these back in harsh Canada’s winter // image credit

Here comes the division between (many) ladies and gentlemen. Well, FYI, moisturiser is really essential during winter for men and women, especially when your hotel room/ guesthouse/ airbnb rooms/ hostels don’t have a humidifier. Sometimes a few days into your winter trip, you’d notice your calves start to get scaly or really dry/flaky (differs from person to person), so moisturise your entire body, not just your face!

Winter skincare
1. Senka toner (Tokyo); 2. Etude House Moistfull Essence (Serum); 3. Etude House Moistfull Cream Moisturiser; 4. Laneige Water Sleeping Pack (2-4 from Seoul); 5. Neutrogena Eye Roll-on (Singapore); 6. Eau Thermale Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream (London ON). All products are what I’ve used in winter and are numbered according to steps of usage. Note: my sole purpose was for hydration only. 

For people who are more concerned with which specific moisturisers to use, here’s a quick guide on how to make your option:

  • If you already have dry skin back in your humid country, you definitely need moisturisers in cream form, and even better if you have both day and night creams. The latter is richer and help in the regeneration of your skin cells when you sleep and you’ll wake up with a hydrated face. Also, because your skin need more moisture than other skin types, it’d be good if you have hydrating sleeping masks.
  • If you have combination/oily skin back in your humid country, you’re more lucky! Your skin would produce less sebum (oil) when you’re in a drier country, so keep your oil-controlling skincare products or gel moisturisers at home. Adapt by bringing along (or buy) moisturisers that would otherwise look too shiny on your face back at home. To put it simply, you’ll need to use those richer moisturisers that you’re forbidden to use back in a humid country.
  • If you’re from a country that is already quite dry, then you can stick to your usual routine. Easy peasy! 🙂

7. WATER
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850ml VOSS water bought from NYC 

Did I read wrongly? What does water got to do with skincare? Yes, it totally does. Apart from your moisturisers that work on the outside, this cheap (or free) and readily available skincare item is what we just don’t bother when travelling. You excitedly go from one attraction to another, eating new cuisines, sipping on hot chocolates and lattes, and forgot all about water. And yet, it is this thing that you don’t really have to pay for that keeps you healthy and all hydrated, especially during winter.

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Tim Hortons in -40 degrees Montréal
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Budae Jjigae (army stew) in Seoul’s winter

Our biggest weakness during winter is sourcing for hot drinks (read: takeaway hot teas and coffees) and spicy hot delicacies (read: hotpot, steamboat etc), but these food are full of ingredients that only make us dehydrate further. So, a word of advice, drink lotsa water during winter (well and any other season)!

Having worked 3 years in the beauty industry has definitely influenced me a lot, so I’m pretty diligent in protecting my skin. Hope this post would enlighten you a little while you travel. 😉

keep travelling,
J