Life, Lately: The Finale, and an Announcement

I am happy to announce that my application to settle indefinitely in the United Kingdom has been accepted. Read about my immigration process and plans for the future as a British permanent resident.

CHAPTER 5 of LIFE, LATELY: SWIM - IT'S ALL SETTLED
PREVIOUSLY: LIFE, LATELY CHAPTERS 12, & 3, & 4

I am thrilled to announce that my dream, after a decade in the making, has finally come true - my application to settle indefinitely in the United Kingdom has been accepted.

You know the story by now: sheltered girl from the Malaysian suburbs moves across the world to a cosmopolitan city to study at one of the more famous - if not prestigious - art schools; and in the process learns how to fend for herself, parties day and night with the international jet set and somehow manages to graduate with a pointless degree in illustration, then starts a satire blog which evolves into a not-unrespectable lifestyle brand with some influence. It's a character arc as old as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (just replace jealous deities with bitchy bloggers and unreasonable PR reps).

Much like the siege on the city of Troy, my British invasion spanned ten years, the likes of which saw me staying in the country on four different types of visas. Last September marked the 10th anniversary of my long affair with London, so in November I submitted my case to the Home Office and asked them to consider this humble Anglophile's application for the right to remain in her beloved adopted country...forever.

Traditionally the application for this process - called 'Indefinite Leave To Remain' takes six months for a decision by the Home Office. Which is why I had resigned, with great heavy-heartedness, to be grounded in the country until May 2017. Surely, a small price to pay for my ardent dedication to the British Isles?

Therefore when my application was approved in half the usual time, it came as an enormously gratifying surprise! I found out two weeks ago, funnily enough; just a few hours after I blogged about how I was then bogged down by a sinking feeling: "...In the middle of this whirlwind of activity is the one thing I wish would move along - acting as the eye of the storm, ever still and ever impassive." This was the 'dream coming true at afternoon tea at The Wellesley London' that I alluded to, the big fat cherry on the top of the double scoop sundae that is the encouraging progress my life is making in 2017: one being my detoxing the remnants of my last toxic relationship and donating them to a charitable cause, the other being my moving into an exciting new home in Battersea Power Station...!

FURTHER READING:

"When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are...Anything your heart desires will come to you..."
- THE GREATEST DISNEY ANTHEM EVER, OBVS

Wearing my heart on my sleeve or rather, on my handbag...

Immigration is a hot topic now in the Western world, or at least in that web of nervous anticipation of what the future holds for the globalised, liberal generation of Britain and the USA. I said it in the wake of Brexit and I'll say it again - I would've never imagined that my right to remain in the UK would be more certain than those from the European Union countries. It's no coincidence that some of my friends; both British and EU expats (incidentally, why are white people expatriates but everyone else are immigrants/migrants? Food for thought...) are looking to move beyond the British Isles. Their reasoning was that, aside from the uncertainty of their right to remain when Article 50 is invoked, was that the potential process to apply for immigration status had made them feel unwelcome.



Of course, not being from an EU country I have never enjoyed that privilege of free movement, so I am somewhat accustomed to the strict, demanding, and complex process of immigration. Now, I am no expert on the subject even if my blog post on my understanding on how to gain PR in the UK is one of my most asked about/read (to this day I still get emails and messages about it). But...!

...If you'd like me to share my experience on how I obtained the next best thing to a British passport, let me know in the comments below and I'll blog about my immigration journey.
Ironically, the moment I was granted the right to stay in the UK indefinitely, I booked my flights out of here! Being a travelling blogger and serial wanderluster without a passport for 3.5 months had taken a serious toll on my mental state as well as work. This coming Tuesday, I'll be making up for lost time with two months of travel. My housemate, thrilled about having the place all to herself, has announced that she'll be doing all her work from home and will be turning my empty bedroom into her office (joke's on her, I've ordered about a thousand things for my new flat - including a HUGE sofa that will apparently not fit in my building's lift - to be delivered while I'm away, that she's going to have to sign for in my absence...)

FURTHER READING:
OH, THE PLACES I'LL GO!

Throughout March and April I'll be travelling to Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, Singapore, and Melbourne to see my friends and family, and for work; Sydney to see Luxy, and then we're heading to Hong Kong together before I head back to London in May to take delivery of my spanking new home! And just like that, half of the year will have gone by. It's insane how slowly time seems to drag on when you're waiting on something to happen, but as soon as it does everything seems to move at the speed of light. The saying goes "When it rains it pours" - I don't know about rain, but this turn of events is certainly the windfall of progress, achievement, and excitement I was hoping for. x

How has your 2017 been far? Any proud achievements, exciting plans, and upcoming travels to share? ­čśś

February 22, 2017

Life, Lately: The Finale, and an Announcement

CHAPTER 5  of  LIFE, LATELY:  SWIM - IT'S ALL SETTLED PREVIOUSLY: LIFE,  LATELY CHAPTERS  1 ,  2 , &  3 , & ...

Afternoon Tea at The Wellesley

Afternoon Tea at The Wellesley London

LIFE, LATELY: SWIM - A PRELUDE 
Read the first chapter Life, lately: That sinking feeling
February 13, 2017

Afternoon Tea at The Wellesley

LIFE, LATELY: SWIM - A PRELUDE   Read the first chapter Life, lately: That sinking feeling

Bucharest, Romania: Lost footage from Caru' Cu Bere




UNEXPECTED HOGWARTS, UNEXPECTED BLOG FODDER
February 03, 2017

Bucharest, Romania: Lost footage from Caru' Cu Bere

UNEXPECTED HOGWARTS, UNEXPECTED BLOG FODDER CARU' CU BERE   •  Strada Stavropoleos 5, Bucure╚Öti 030081, Romania

Penang, Malaysia: 4 Historical Homes To Visit (and stay in!)

Penang, Malaysia: 4 Historical Homes To Visit (and stay in!)

You guys, I'm chuffed to bits. While looking through my archives for Malaysia-related posts I realised that I've blogged about 9 out of Malaysia's 13 states - no mean feat given that I've been living in London for the past ten years! Add to my 7 Things of 2017 a new resolution: to blog about the remaining 4 states by the end of 2018 - only Perlis, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, and Sarawak left to go! Ambitious much? You know the saying: Penang wasn't built in a day.  I must say that after Kuala Lumpur, Penang is my favourite state. Founded by the British in 1786, its capital Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where Chinese clan mansions jostle alongside larger-than-life street art, where the intoxicating aroma of char kuey teow (the best in the country!) rises up to meet the cacophony of Hokkien and English in every accent imaginable, where the relative liberalism of this Northern island state is a breath of fresh air to this wary KL-ite. I hope I'll convince you, dear reader, should you find yourself in Malaysia or even in neighbouring Thailand/Singapore that you find the time for one of my favourite states and visit these 4 Historical Homes in Penang, Malaysia.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS CREDITS: 7 - 10, 11 - 14
January 16, 2017

Penang, Malaysia: 4 Historical Homes To Visit (and stay in!)

You guys, I'm chuffed to bits.  While looking through my archives for Malaysia-related posts I realised that I've blogged abou...

Christmas Menu at Pan Chai, Harrods




My family are hard work. Don't get me wrong, I love muh crazy Asian fam and wouldn't swap them for any other brood in the Chinese diaspora world, but let's make no bones about it - they keep me on my toes, in the most literal sense. You may have gandered from Instagram Stories (and if you didn't, you really should keep up) that the pack were in town over the weekend. Disappointed by their lack of aurora borealis sightings in Reykjavik, the fam extended their stopover in London - turning their frowns upside down with a four-day orgy of conspicuous consumerism (because there's no therapy like retail therapy) and seeking a Pan-Asian antidote to their Icelandic smorgasbord of reindeer meatballs. Clearly, 'tis the season to be hunting and gathering because Harrods was full of like-minded shoppers on a mission; nostrils flared and credit cards pointed like a smoking gun, pausing only for nourishment. And what nourishment there was to be had at Pan Chai. On previous occasion I've described their offerings as luxurious Pan-Asian fare for the fast and furious, and it still is, going by their dizzying turnover. But this festive season Pan Chai are bringing to the table a reason to linger - their gorgeous and decadent CHRISTMAS PLATTER.

READ MORE:



I whetted my appetite, as one does, with an old favourite the BANZAI platter (lobster tempura, avocado, asparagus, spicy mayonnaise topped with orange and black caviar, unagi sauce) and the SNOW CRAB SALAD (shredded snow crab with avocado, caviar and seaweed salad). 

CHRISTMAS PLATTER
£188, SERVES 2 PEOPLE

Edamame 

Selection of 6 pieces sashimi (salmon, fatty tuna, yellow tail) 

Selection of 6 pieces nigiri (tuna, salmon, yellow tail) 

Whole grilled live Canadian lobster with Korean spicy sauce or
 Japanese teriyaki sauce topped with gold leaf 

Alaskan King Crab leg with spicy chilli sauce 

 Skewered yaki scallops with sweetened soy sauce 


A bowl of edamame, delicately steamed and salted, served as a palate cleanser for the CHRISTMAS PLATTER; a cornucopia of delights whose stand-out attractions were the whole GRILLED CANADIAN LOBSTER with Japanese teriyaki sauce topped with gold leaf and the ALASKAN KING CRAB LEG with spicy chilli sauce. As decadent as the crustacean dishes were - as excessive as lobster brushed with gold may seem, in our gilded surroundings of Harrods Food Hall it made perfect sense - the rest of the Christmas Platter was no less rewarding. The SASHIMI selection of SALMON, FATTY TUNA, and YELLOW TAIL was predictably fresh, and YAKI SCALLOPS SKEWERED WITH ASPARAGUS, while deceptively informal-looking, enjoyed the same precision of its more elaborate companions. 


The CHRISTMAS PLATTER is brilliant in its seemingly simple presentation; one begins from the bottom left and eats anti-clockwise - beginning with delicate sashimi then progressing to more complex, intense flavours before ending with rich lobster. Although it was the penultimate dish that made the greatest impression on me; the spicy chilli sauce, so perfectly imbued into the Alaskan King Crab legs reminded me of the similar flavour palate of my maternal grandmother's top secret chilli crab sauce.

All in all; the Christmas Platter is a stunning seasonal addition to Pan Chai's already excellent menu, sure to impress even the most time-starved of shoppers-diners into slowing down. Catch it while you can at Harrods.

*I was invited to review Pan Chai and the meal was complimentary.
December 21, 2016

Christmas Menu at Pan Chai, Harrods

Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL WWW.PANCHAI.COM My family are hard work. Don't get me wrong, I...

Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods

Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods


FEELING FESTIVE WITH THE CHAI WU CHRISTMAS MENU


All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth...and my passport back in time for me to join my annual family trip, this year in Reykjavik. Unfortunately, both the Home Office and Santa's workshop take the same amount of time to make a little girl's wishes come true ie. a whole friggin' year because the odds of me traipsing about Iceland with Rudolph & Co in just over a week's time are as slim as the chance of a white winter in London. I bear no grudge toward the big red guy (although I'm a tad exasperated by bureaucratic red tape), after all as a sometimes-Atheist-mostly-Agnostic-Asian my claim to Christmas celebrations goes as far as opening every window of my beauty advent calendar on the 1st and Bucks Fizz benders on the 25th.

I'm surprisingly sanguine about the prospect of spending Christmas on my ownsome. Christmas is about food, family, and fighting. The latter two, I'll get my fix of the week before Christmas when my family make their way to me in London (which I'll no doubt milk by nudging them towards the Prada concession in Harrods *cough* consolation present *cough*) and the former, I can get my fix of with Chai Wu's Christmas Menu - seasonal dishes with a delightful Chinese twist. So Santa, put me on your naughty list for all I care - I see your minced pies and raise you the Chai Wu scallops and foie gras in red wine sauce.

 CHAI WUHARRODS FIFTH FLOOR, KNIGHTSBRIDGE
87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods
Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods
Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods

You know from my previous review of Chai Wu that this glossy Pan-Asian restaurant serves up luxurious Chinese and Japanese favourites with a literal Midas touch (gold leaf-flaked dim sum, anyone?) so I was as curious as anyone to see their tribute to the festive season. It seems that as far as flavours go, the references are subtle - such as the deliciously dense black pepper turkey roll, while the focus is rather on that hearty, homey feeling of Christmas dinner. Hence a creamy starter of avocado lobster soup topped with fish roe in a delicate glass bowl, hinting at the refinement to follow. The scallops and foie gras in red wine sauce brought glamour and decadence. The star dish was the Chilean sea bass, the skin perfectly pan-fried with the most moreish yellow bean sauce begging to be mopped up with the accompanying rice. Even humbler dishes, like the baby pak choi and egg fried rice were elevated with rich ingredients; the former with silky shiitake mushrooms in oyster sauce and the latter with bits of scallop.


CHRISTMAS MENU
£88 per person, minimum for 2

Avocado Lobster Soup 
Black Pepper Turkey Roll 
Scallops and Foie Gras in a Red Wine Sauce 
Pan-Fried Chilean Sea Bass with Spicy Yellow Bean Sauce
Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Pak Choi in Oyster Sauce
Egg White Fried Rice with Dry Scallops and Mixed Seafood
Dark Chocolate Orange Fondant


Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods

Desserts at Chai Wu are always a gorgeous and elaborate affair. The Christmas special is no different - the dark chocolate orange fondant mercifully had none of that cloying chocolate orange sickliness (its popularity amongst the Brits will forever remain, to me, a great mystery) but rather a thick, rich, warm sauce that oozed with all the sensuality of a good pudding. 

I made two curious observations; one: that the meal began on a distinctively Western note, and two: that despite the rather traditional Chinese home-cooking style of the other dishes, the Christmas menu evoked just the right amount of homeliness with none of the 'dated' feeling. For yours truly, that rare Overseas Chinese expatriate who eschews simple Chinese home-cooking for more time consuming-to prepare dishes such as duck pancakes, it's a compliment to Chai Wu for finding the right balance between comfort food and contemporary cuisine.

I invited Honey to join me at Chai Wu for a long overdue catchup. A seven-dish Christmas menu turned into a nearly-four hour long meal; partly because the dishes were so delicious that they begged our full attention, partly because we had so much to say in between courses, and partly thanks to the libations. As per my suggestions Honey had the signature champagne cocktail - Chai Wu Fizz - while I whet my palate with a sake cocktail I believe to be called the Gold Miyagi. And then there was the tea. So much tea - and I'm not only talking about the herbal variety but also about the jaw-dropping, scandalous variety. After what seemed like an endless and delicious wave of 'Oh my God!'s and 'They did NOT!'s the drama was punctuated with perfect comedic timing when the ever-attentive staff asked, 'Ladies, would you like some tea?' WOULD WE! The Jasmine Blossoming (how appropriate) flowering tea was a wonderful refreshing note to the end of a decadent meal and equally juicy conversation.

The Chai Wu Christmas Menu is Chinese comfort-food with the restaurant's signature luxury - 
a mix of traditional and Western dishes with seasonal references.
Just the thing then, for homesick me in London, pining for the feel-good factor of Christmas.
The Chai Wu Christmas Menu is available till the end of December, and is £88 per person.

Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods
Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods
Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods

*Our meal at Chai Wu was complimentary in exchange for this review.

November 28, 2016

Christmas Menu at Chai Wu, Harrods

FEELING FESTIVE WITH THE CHAI WU CHRISTMAS MENU All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth... and my passpor...

Why the Fiat 500 is the Perfect City Car


Why The Fiat 500 is the perfect city car
November 21, 2016

Why the Fiat 500 is the Perfect City Car

West London: Chelsea, South Kensington, & Notting Hill



FROM CHELSEA TO NOTTING HILL VIA SOUTH KENSINGTON:
A WEST LONDON DAYTRIP, POWERED BY THE FIAT500

POSH, BROKE, & BORED x FIAT: Part 1 of 2
November 16, 2016

West London: Chelsea, South Kensington, & Notting Hill

FROM CHELSEA TO NOTTING HILL VIA SOUTH KENSINGTON: A WEST LONDON DAYTRIP, POWERED BY THE F...

Bangkok, Thailand: Sweet & Spicy

FINDING THAT WORK-PLAY BALANCE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND  #SPICEUPYOURBUSINESSAGENDA2016


FINDING THAT WORK-PLAY BALANCE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND
October 08, 2016

Bangkok, Thailand: Sweet & Spicy

FINDING THAT WORK-PLAY BALANCE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 3 Hidden Gems in Petaling Street

CHOCHA FOOD STORE, MERCHANT'S LANE, and PS150 - the three new watering holes bringing an old-school but young-blood revival to Jalan Petaling in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown.





SPEAKEASY, BUT CARRY NO SELFIE STICK - THE REVIVAL OF KUALA LUMPUR'S 
CHINATOWN THANKS TO 3 NEW HIDDEN WATERING HOLES
October 06, 2016

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 3 Hidden Gems in Petaling Street

SPEAKEASY, BUT CARRY NO SELFIE STICK - THE REVIVAL  OF KUALA LUMPUR'S  CHINATOWN  THANKS TO 3 NEW HIDDEN WATERING HOLES...

Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix 2016

Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix 2016
October 03, 2016

Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix 2016

Kuala Lumpur: Botanica + Co, Bangsar South

 Botanica + Co, Bangsar South


CONSERVATORY CHIC AT BOTANICA + CO, BANGSAR SOUTH

Of all the erroneous assumptions my Western friends make about me, the one that most defies logic is that I should adore heat and humidity or at the very least be accustomed to it. Let me break it down for you - One: Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, Two: By that reasoning, why do you gwai los complain about the cold in winter? Three: Malaysians drive their air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices then to air-conditioned watering holes and finally back to their air-conditioned homes. So no, my experience of the searing tropics is limited to the three and a half minutes the valet makes me wait for my car, and my love for all things tropical is best appreciate in the chilly confines of an air-conditioned space. It's the only way to admire palms and fronds without being eaten by Aedes mosquitos, really...

So when I got wind (like an air-con breeze, haha) of a fresh botanics-inspired restaurant arrival housed in an air-conditioned greenhouse, I made my way to the new-ish township of Bangsar South in search of Botanica + Co.

September 25, 2016

Kuala Lumpur: Botanica + Co, Bangsar South

CONSERVATORY CHIC AT BOTANICA + CO, BANGSAR SOUTH Of all the erroneous assumptions my Western friends make about me, the...