Travel: Yilan, Taiwan

Mention the phrases ‘Taiwan’ and ‘summer’ and the first place that’ll come to mind is likely Kenting. But little known to many, Yilan, located in northeastern Taiwan, is an equally picturesque county to enjoy your sun, surf and sand. In fact, you’ll be thrilled that you can still enjoy the quaint sights of the town as it is not as overcrowded and commercial as Kenting. Check out our top three picks in Yilan that you could consider for your next itinerary!

1. Wushigang (烏石港)

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(Photos by Wedding & Travel)

Toucheng (頭城) county, where Wushigang is located at, is usually a small sleepy town — until summer comes around. With its famed black sands and good waves, it is not surprising that Wushigang is steadily gaining popularity as one of the best beaches around, be it for the surfer, or the casual beach dweller. (For surfing aspirants, look no further for guidance than from the many surfing schools located around town!)

If you’re lucky, you’ll manage to catch the Hal’ O Bar (海樂小巴) — a little bar housed in a orange vintage Volkswagon — parked beside the beach. Quite a charming and curious sight, we struck up a conversation with the owner, and discovered that he chose to set up shop here because he is a surfing enthusiast, and working here meant that he could embrace the waves once he gets off work!

Alternatively, you could choose to gaze at Guishan Island (龜山島) — Yilan’s largest island located 10km east of Toucheng — from the hilltop Mr Brown Castle Cafe. We recommend the cafe’s rooftop balcony at sunset for the best views.

2. Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市)

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(Photo Credit: The Yilan Guru)

Taiwan is practically synonymous with night markets, and your Yilan itinerary won’t be complete without a trip to the Luodong Night Market! Undoubtedly the most ‘happening’ night market in Yilan, Luodong Market is also particularly famous for its many scrumptious street foods. The list of must-try local specialties goes on — scallion pancakes (蔥油餅), gaozha (糕渣: a snack made from minced meat and starch), and deep fried pork (卜肉). Of course, all good things come with a wait and you’ll have to brave the queues for these yummy items. If the crowd gets too much to bear, you can also enjoy your food at the nearby Zhongshan Park (中山公園). The park apparently also serves as the stage for the occasional cultural performance, as we chanced upon when we were there.

3. Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館)

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(Photos from Arch Daily, taken by Jeffrey Cheng)

Designed by Kris Yao and completed just in 2010, the iconic Lanyang Museum is a striking piece of architecture rising from Yilan’s countryside backdrop. Visitors can find out all about Yilan’s natural terrain from permanent exhibitions based on the themes of the mountains, plains and ocean. Of course, exploring the gorgeous museum is an experience in itself! Be warned though, that the museum can get crowded during peak seasons due to its popularity with tour groups.

When you’re done with the main building, enjoy the summer breeze with a stroll in the adjacent Museum Park. Or, you can hunt down a fresh seafood meal at the nearby Wushi Harbour, where a couple of restaurants are lined up just by the waterfront. Oh, and just so you know, it seems that the museum is quite a hit as a spot for pre-wedding photos for couples in Taiwan too!

Got any travel stories to share? Drop us a note or Facebook message anytime!

DIY Wedding Favours

There are many reasons to DIY your wedding favours — not only does it give you some cool savings that you can splurge elsewhere in your wedding, it also adds a nice personal touch to what your loved ones take away from your special day. While the idea might seem overwhelming at first, you’ll be happy to find out that DIY wedding favours do not necessarily require a lot of trouble, and are definitely not only for the artistically inclined! Take a look at some of these easy but chic DIY wedding favours and get inspired!

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1. Homemade Jam (Image from here)

Homemade jams are relatively simple to make, yet impressive when they’re completed. The flavours of the jam can be based on your favourite fruits, or better still, the fruits in season. Finish off with some pretty fabric and handmade labels and wow your guests! Especially great for outdoor and garden weddings.

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2. Candies (Images from here, here and here)

Candies are a great choice as fuss-free wedding favours as they are inexpensive and absolutely easy to package! Take your pick from boxex, bags, cones, and even paper to create a beautiful candy package for your guests — the final product is versatile as you can easily match the choice of materials to suit the theme of your wedding! We love Tip Junkie‘s handy round up that features 38 tutorials in making paper flowers. For customised handmade hard candy in Singapore, try Sticky.

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3. Cookies (Image from here)

Cookies are surprisingly easy to make — they’re highly foolproof even for kitchen beginners, and you just need the help of some cool cookie moulds to make your cookies presentable. Easy peasy. Last we checked, they’re also a hit among guests of all ages. Need we say more?

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4. DIY Coasters (Image from here)

We love Bayside Bride‘s amazing DIY coaster tutorial that teaches you how to make a coaster set without the help of a sewing machine! (Yes, you heard us right!) Apart from being pleasing on the eyes, this is also a lasting wedding favour that your guests can put to use in their homes, and be reminded of your lovely day at that! The pattern and touch of twine around the borders of the coasters set remind us of a nautical theme — great for that beach or yatch wedding.

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5. Coffee Bags (Image from here)

With all the craze with cafes nowadays, why not give your savvy guests a bag of coffee beans each to enjoy their fix at home? You will have no trouble finding good coffee beans from the many specialty coffee joints in Singapore such as Smitten, Chye Seng Huat Hardware Store and 40 Hands. Try your luck hunting for some budget-friendly bags at Daiso. And what’s left is just a simple handmade label — materials of which can be easily purchased at Art Friend or Popular.

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6. DIY Candle (Image from here)

DIY candles may take a little more time and patience than the other ideas on the list, but we thought, why not? They’re simple to make once you get the hang of it, and you can even personalise it further by adding your favoured scent to the candles. Likewise with your homemade jams, just pack them off with some pretty fabric and handmade labels and you’re good to go!

Do you have other funky ideas for DIY wedding favours? Drop us a note; we’ll love to know!

Beauty: Bridal Nail Arts

We understand you’d want to look stunning from top to toe on your big day. So we decided to help by sourcing out some very gorgeous nail arts that would best compliment your style. Ladies, prepare to put your best foot (and fingers) forward!

For the prim and proper

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1. Go Nude

There’s nothing wrong with opting to keep things simple. In fact, this minimalist trend of having neutral and cream colored nails is taking the fashion world by storm as of late, like Marc Jacobs models donning soft milky shades and Chanel choosing un-done French manicures on the runway. So, feel stylish by toning down your nails.

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2. Glitter A Little

If you prefer to have a little more star factor, try on glitter manicure on top of your nude shades. Having all ten gleaming fingers might be too over the top, so personalize your nails by going for the gradient look or apply glitter to only one finger of your choice. For those with the standard French manicure, try replacing the white with your favorite glitter. Be it gold or silver, trust us, the effect is stunning!

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3. Two-Tone

Yet another twist on the French manicure, the dual polish effect gives out vibes of being bold without trying too hard. Plus point, its pretty easy to attempt on your own. Just pick contrasting shades that flatter you and use a small brush to paint your favorite graphic. For beginners, try the vertical split or diagonal strip first before slowly progress to a V-shape, half moon or even a heart shape!

For the trend setter

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1. Velvet

Textured nails are all the rage recently. Concrete coats might seem too gritty for weddings so why not try on a fur-effect nail polish? First spotted on Hollywood actress Blake Lively during her wedding to Ryan Reynolds last year, these soft and flurry nails are versatile enough to see you through the proper ceremony as well as that fun after party.

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2. Caviar

Depending on the color of your choice, these nails might look like delish cake sprinklers or luxe fish eggs but if you want to be remembered as the trend-setting bride, this is the look you want to be spotted having.

Which is your favorite nail art? Drop us a comment!

Superhero Weddings

Superman: Man of Steel, the Avengers, Spiderman. With all these superhero franchise movies these days, we won’t be surprised if some of you are entertaining the thought of having a superhero theme wedding. I mean, why not? This theme is definitely for the fun-loving couple who is not afraid to show the inner child in them and get a little cheeky on their big day! (And we’re sure the boys will be thrilled with this theme!) Of course, just because it’s fun doesn’t mean that it can’t be chic. To help you get inspired, we’ve rounded up these references from around the web for you. We’ll love to hear from you if you’ve done a superhero wedding in Singapore!

1. Alex + James (Photos and full post at Green Wedding Shoes)

We love Alex and James’ free spirit — it’s not often that we come across people who are so comfortable in their own skin, and fully enjoying the fact that they are “big children”! What we love most about their superhero wedding are the handwritten backdrop and comic book labels that help tie the decor, favours and menu back to the theme.

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2. Megan + Tom (Photos by Cat Norman; Full post at Offbeat Bride)

We love how Megan and Tom got their bridesmaids and bestmen involved in the superhero dressing up, which resulted in some of the quirkiest wedding shots we’ve seen! Megan’s pepper red boots also add an unconventional touch to the traditional white wedding gown, and is a relatively easy way to work the superhero theme into your wedding if you are less adventurous.

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3. Holly + Anthony (Photos and full post at Rock N Roll Bride)

Holly and Anthony’s wedding is a perfect example of a superhero-inspired wedding — simply using the aesthetics from the theme, without any overt references to the the actual superheroes. We love how they worked polka dots into their outfits and decor, which is adapted from comic book halftones! Holly’s va-va-voom red hair, of course, sets off her pink polka dotted dress perfectly.

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Travel: Locks of Love Around The World

For those who caught the heist caper film “Now You See Me” in theaters lately, the mention of Paris’ love lock bridge would perhaps sound familiar. After all, this was where two of the main characters reunite in the ending scene. The investigative partners, who shared an ambiguous love relationship in the film, then affixed a padlock unto the bridge and threw the key into the Seine River as an unspoken commitment to their relationship and the secret they share.

This somewhat romantic scene is not a make believe created by the movie producers. In fact, the custom of a love lock, which are padlocks put unto fences, gates and bridges by lovebirds as a symbolization of their undying love, exists not only in Paris. Therefore, we at W&T came up with our very own list of love lock spots around the world for you lovebirds to have a most romantic holiday!

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1. Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris, France
The Pont des Arts, also known as the Passerellle des Arts, is a pedestrian bridge overlooking the Seine River and located near Paris’ landmark, the Louvre. Since the cadenas d’amour (love lock) tradition mysteriously started a few years back, it has become one of the most popular spots amongst the French and tourists to leave behind a testimony of their love. The ritual goes supposedly like this: couples first write their names or initials on the locks before attaching it to the bridge; then kiss the key and throw it into the Seine River as an act that their lock (and hence love) will remain forever.

Apart from the Pont des Arts, the Pont de l’Archevêché is apparently another popular love lock spot in Paris. It is said however, that the two bridges represent different commitments. The former represents one’s committed love while the latter signifies a dedication to your lover.

Irregardless of the location you eventually decide on, we think this is still one must-do in Paris. After all, what can be more romantic to leave your mark of affection in the world’s City of Love? We recommend however that you bring along your own lock if this is a planned spot on your itinerary, for locks sold at the area can be exorbitant.

2. Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, Italy
The ritual of love locks in Italy is said to be inspired by a book titled “I Want You” by Italian author Federico Moccia and this ancient bridge in Florence is where it all officially materialized. Locks of various shapes and sizes can be seen hanging alongside of this arch bridge spanning the Arno River, especially around the statue of Italian artist Benvenuto Cellini.

Apart from this, we think the Ponte Vecchion, which literally means “Old Bridge”, is a spot worth visiting especially if you are a history lover. Built during the Roman Times, this is one monument which have withstood the test of time and survived the attack of Germans during World War II.

3. Namsan Tower in Seoul, Korea
Apart from boasting of the most spectacular paranomic view of Seoul, the observation deck located at the top of Namsan Tower is a sight to see with tens of thousands of love locks decorating the area. It is said that this practice of leaving a lock on top of the tower and later throwing the key down was first made popular by a K-drama.

Apart from K-drama fans, the Namsan Tower remains a must-go destination especially for first timers to Seoul. Sight-seeing aside, there are plenty to do around the tourist hotspot. The Teddy Bear Museum is a must-go for females and children and for nature lovers, pop by the Namsan Park, the city’s largest green space, for a leisure stroll.

4. Fengyuan Train Station in Taichung, Taiwan
It is said that the custom of hanging locks on a fence near the Fengyuan train station began in 2004, when some local resident found padlocks with unidentified foreign language near the area. Before long, these padlocks were known as wish locks and even become infused with local folklore which states that trains generate a magnetic field when they travel through the underpass hence creating energy to fulfill wishes written on the wish locks.

While the theory of trains creating energy remains untested, this has since attracted locals and tourists to the quiet downtown in Taichung. The area is especially popular among students who pray for good results as well as lovers who seek to capture a moment of passion by hanging two padlocks together forming the “Heart Locks”.

Bride takes wedding photos… alone

Remember our previous post on having one of a kind wedding photos? (Click here if you missed it.) This week, we found yet another bride who opted for something different by shooting her wedding photos, alone.

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The bride in question is Claudia Nallely Agres, 21, from America who tied the knot with her husband Matthew Agres, 24, in December 2011. Despite being married for two years now, Claudia hasn’t been able to realize her dream of having a big church wedding and proper bridal shoot, due to Matthew’s enlistment with the military. In fact, the couple lived apart after their wedding ceremony for nearly 8 months, when Matthew went through basic training. Now, they are reunited in Germany, following Matthew’s posting to an Air Force base but the couple haven’t found time for a proper ceremony nor shoot yet.

Somewhat ironic is the fact that Claudia works as a full-time bridal model. Having posed as a happy bride in so many photo shoots, Claudia didn’t quite expect that she would have such a hard time planning for a photo that she can rightfully call hers.

Until, a wedding photographer named Ryan Brenizer, whom Claudia previously worked with, decided to make things right. “She’s been pretending to be a bride for years. For someone who has been in all these fabulous gowns, she had no photographs of herself as a bride,” Brenizer thought.

So in February this year, he planned for a unique shoot in London for Claudia. Inspired by Jan von Holleben’s Dreams of Flying project, Brenizer decided to create a series of fantasy scenes that would be different from the typical shoots that Claudia has taken.

In a vintage wedding gown, Claudia can be seen riding on a bike amongst clouds (that are actually created from toilet papers, what genius!) and floating into a fantasy world filled with flowers, hand in hand with her “groom”. The entire process lasted for an hour and a half, with Claudia lying on the ground with her props and Brenizer taking shots from above.

On the photos, Claudia said “This was fun and different, not many photographers want to do that! But I guess, we still hope to be able to actually have the real thing.”

So do we at W&T. While the fantasy-themed photos are gorgeous, we certainly hope that beautiful Claudia gets to shoot a real wedding photo with her hubby Matt soon. After all we think every bride deserves a shot of herself looking absolutely radiant and happy with the one she loves.

What do you think of Claudia and her most unusual wedding photo? Would you do something similar? Drop us your thoughts!

Travel: Modernista, Beijing

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Lovebirds looking for a slow night of jazz, good wines, and Eurocinema will be delighted with Modernista, a little bar tucked away in Beijing’s Baochao Hutong.

It is easy to see that Modernista is different from the rest of the bars along the hutong from the onset. Upon approaching the store, you are greeted by Modernista’s art deco storefront banner. The inside does not disappoint. With black-white checkered floor tiles set against beige and mint green walls, and warm yellow lighting, Modernista will not look out of place in a Parisian backalley. One will appreciate the wide selection of international wines and beers at reasonable prices (on average ranging from RMB25-30) — something that is hard to come by elsewhere in Beijing. The bar’s small round tables are good for intimate get-togethers. Otherwise, you could also strike up a conversation with your neighbouring table as the seats are pretty close together, just like those in a chic European cafe.

Modernista also holds regular screenings of European movies, and music performances. Wedding & Travel had a great night out at Modernista watching old art nouveau French movies! We also remarkably enjoyed the live French jazz music which featured a four piece strings quartet. In fact, the band worked the crowd so well that the police turned up to request for the bar to turn down the volume (presumably because of complaints from the other hutong families) — a little idiosyncrasy of Beijing life.

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44 Baochao Hutong, Gulou Dong Dajie, Dongcheng District

G.O.D Double Happiness Series

Shopping at Hong Kong’s lifestyle label G.O.D has never been a boring affair. Be it in Hong Kong or Singapore, there is always an Asian-inspired item (bags/notebooks printed with old school cream crackers and rustic mailbox motifs) to be attracted to or a tongue-in-cheek novelty (shirts with its infamous slogan “Delay No More” which in Cantonese resembles a local profanity) to feel amused about.

And on our most recent visit, we at W&T are especially thrilled to find out that the creative folks at G.O.D have given newlyweds and their friends something to rejoice about.

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(Photo Credit: G.O.D Singapore Facebook)

Known as the Double Happiness Series, G.O.D’s latest range sees a collection of dinnerware, accessories and home décor items beautifully plastered with the Chinese character 喜喜. Produced in collaboration with Wedding Concierge and the Chinese Heritage Foundation, this series is a lifesaver for those who are running out of wedding gift ideas. In fact, this can even double up as wedding favors!

Apart from exhibiting the label’s signature style of giving old-school a modern twist, the Double Happiness Series is also a thoughtful collection espousing the preservation of Chinese wedding traditions. A corner of the Singapore store is currently well-decorated with a wooden wedding bed from the olden days, tea sets and even kneeling pillows, as a showcase of ancient customs. For those who are not too familiar, fret not. Explanations about these customs, such as the wedding tea ceremony and the bride’s dowry, are placed around for your reading. There is also a 喜喜 paper lying around with cheeky captions for the series. Feel free to take a copy home!

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(Photo Credit: G.O.D Singapore Facebook)

G.O.D Singapore
6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #02-08, Central
www.facebook.com/goodsofdesire.sg

Fancy a clone doll as wedding memento, anyone?

It is not uncommon for brides wanting to look pretty like a doll on one’s big day.

Well, now you can. Literally.

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According to UK’s Daily Mail, Japanese brides now have another option, apart from wedding photos and videos, to make a long-lasting keepsake of their big day – 3D dolls. These lifelike dolls are produced by a store in Akihabara called the Clone Factory and cost about $138,000 Japanese Yen (approx S$1,500) for a replica look of the bride from top to toe.

A Japanese blogger named Danny Choo wrote down in detail about his experience at the Clone Factory. For the interested, you can read about it here.

We at W&T thought the dolls look slightly too surreal for our liking but for the adventurous, this is indeed something different as a memento to preserve the most special moment in life.

Would you opt for something like these 3D dolls on your big day? Drop us your thoughts!

Travel: Maan Coffee, Beijing

We know it’s all the rage now to have your pre-wedding photoshoots overseas — what better than capturing your dreamy moments against the backdrop of another cityscape just to make things a little more special on your wedding day, right?

While Taiwan and Europe might list among the top choice destinations for our couples, we’ve also met some who opted to have their photoshoots at Beijing, China! After all, there’s no better place than Beijing if you’re a fan of opulent oriental backdrops, traditional architecture, and rich luxurious colours (think red and gold)!

Recommended spots for great pictures include classic must-gos such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China, to quaint hutongs (traditional back alleys) and olden day wooden houses, to dramatic modern architecture such as the Opera House of the National Grand Theatre Beijing and the Beijing National Stadium.

If you’re looking for something that is more quirky and closer to daily life, we chanced upon Maan Coffee (漫咖啡) — a pretty cafe chain from Korea that is oh-so-photogenic! (Or, if you’re just looking for a place to catch a breather between shoots, this is the place for you!)

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(Photo by Wedding & Travel)

Maan Coffee’s outlet near Workers’ Stadium is housed in an independent two-storey building and features wood extensively in their architecture and interior design. The cafe’s furniture is a delightful and eclectic mix of pieces such as plush armchairs, well-worn vintage wooden tables, and the odd knick-knack here and there. To jazz things up, each table is adorned with its own light piece, be it a simple but functional floor lamp, or a Moroccan glass-crystal chandelier. The second floor of the cafe even features a full glass ceiling, which is great for its generous natural light, which of course means great pictures for you!

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(Photo by Wedding & Travel)

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(Photo by Wedding & Travel)

Maan Coffee, (fortunately) unlike its namesake, offers more than just coffee on its menu. Be prepared to be spoilt for choice between the various tempting flavours of waffles, toast and sundaes! While the menu is slightly lacking in terms of substantial food that can fill your stomach, the sweets are a welcome respite from Beijing’s sweltering summer, we say!  The cafe also has an interesting ordering system — each customer is given a different coloured bear, which the wait staff will use to identify you when they deliver your order! How adorable is that!

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(Photo by Wedding & Travel)

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(Photo by Wedding & Travel)

And just so you know, Maan Coffee has thoughtfully included power sockets at almost every table — not that it would really matter to you, but we love a cafe that takes its customer service seriously! (And hey, you never know when you would need one of those sockets for an urgent power charge to your iPhone!)

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朝阳区工体北路(工体北门西侧)