Author: Jo Cheung

Hello folks! It seemed so long ago since my last blog post- I hope you’ve all had a nice start to November (also, you can believe that Christmas is literally around the corner?!). I can’t believe that it’s been almost two weeks since we left Japan, I know, sad face right now 🙁 We had such an amazing and an unforgettable time in China and Japan, it’s such an eye-opening experience when you go away to somewhere for a good amount of time and you’re kind of left feeling like you want more of it. The day after we came back I was looking at flights to go again next summer!

I have decided to split this blog post into two parts as I feel like I’ll be rambling on for ages (mostly about the food of course), but I also want a well written and documented experience of it so that I have something to look back on. Sit back, get yourself a drink/snack and I hope you enjoy reading our experiences in China and Japan!


China: Beijing.

Well, spent a day in Beijing since our layover was about 12 hours- so we decided to make the most of it and get out of the airport! The only time I’ve been to China was when we went to Shenzhen a couple of years ago, so I was defiantly looking forward to visiting China even if it was for a short period of time. For some reason I expected China to be small, as in, you could walk from one place to another a bit like Hong Kong. No. Not at all. China is massive, absolutely huge. The roads are massive. To get to one place to another you’re better off getting the metro. We thought we could walk it but we got lost for a bit and ended up having to navigate to the nearest metro station!

Once we got to the Forbidden City we were both in complete awe. Actually, we couldn’t get in as tickets for the day were sold out so we walked around it and went into one of the gardens. I cannot describe how incredible it is to see the Forbidden City in real life.

After spending a good couple of hours at the Forbidden City we got some food at a restaurant and literally fell asleep at 10pm as we were both completely k.o.’ed from the flight! I have never had jet lag this bad before and we were both awake for about 20 hours straight! Absolutely knackered having been awake due to adrenaline and the time difference, I couldn’t keep my eyes open for any longer and slept with a full belly.

Goodbye China! We’ll be back in the future for sure.

Note: You don’t need a visa if you’re visiting for 24 hours, 72 hours or 144 hours but do let your airline know about it before you check-in. Also, you need to fill out a form before going through immigration for the visa. 


Japan: Jozankei and Hakodate

Our first stop in Japan was Hokkaido. I’ve been to Hokkaido before, but that was a good 13 years ago so my memories of it are slightly hazy (apart from the sweet memory of us eating Kobe for the first and last time!).

Sam had booked us into to a ryokan in Jozankei. Jozankei is known for its hot springs since there’s loads of them around that area. We stayed in this lush little place called Nukumori No Yado Furukawa. Just what I needed! The rooms are an absolute delight, really spacious and they provide you with traditional Japanese pyjamas called jinbei. If you are not familiar with onsens I totally recommend you experience it if you are ever in Japan! Totally do it otherwise you are missing out on it! You can spend a whole day chilling out: go for an onsen, eat nice food, have a spa sesh, then repeat this several times until you are in ultra relax mode. I can’t tell you how good your body feels after an onsen.

When we left there were quite a lot of staff who waved us off (even the chefs were standing outside of the inn to say goodbye to us!). I was so gutted to leave the place; the staff there were so friendly and kind and were always willing to help us whenever they could. They even had a buffet Japanese breakfast! My eyes popped out of my head when I saw the food, it made my peanut butter and toast look well sad! The food there was absolutely delicious. We also had a set dinner the evening before we left and it was so, so good.

Breakfast!

We stayed for two nights and although there isn’t loads to do around the area, you can spend most of your time in the onsens. There are a couple of local places to eat and drink, again, the food was amazing.

Side note: I recommend you get the JR Rail pass as it makes travelling around Japan so easy. The JR Rail Pass allows you to travel on the Shinkansen (apart from two other lines though, please check the terms and conditions! It was the Nozomi line and another one I do not remember!) P.S. The trains are increibly spacious and clean. You need to get the ekibans (local bento boxes) if you’re hungry.

… or just 7-Eleven it!

 

Hakodate

After leaving Hokkaido we got the Shinkansen to Hakkodate and stayed over for the night. It was a good couple of hours on the Shinkansen so I decided to start working on my sketchbook Chantal had bought me for our honeymoon (another post to come). The next morning we got up super early to go to the Morning Market, which is right next to the station.

Unfortunately, we weren’t there for super long as we were heading to the cat island so we didn’t get the chance to eat as much as we could! We had fresh scallops for breakfast and a squid ink boa, which I could’ve eaten 20 of those! I think if we were there for longer we would’ve gone to the outdoor bit as there were tons of food for sale.

 

I am going to leave it here as I’ll continue with the next post over the weekend. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it and if you have anything to share please post in the comments section.

 

Thanks as always!

Just to let you all know that my Etsy shop will be closed from Friday 18th October until Sunday 3rd November as Sam and I will be away on our honeymoon to Japan. I’m already dreaming about food (there’s a long list btw), the cat island (yes that’s right!!!), and buying lots of nice gifts for friends and families. There’ll defo be a couple of posts about our honeymoon so keep your eyes out for them!

In the meantime though you can keep up to date with the latest news and see loads of photos of our cats over on my Instagram feed.

Adios!

Hello dear readers. I hope you’ve had a nice start to September and that as summer has finally ended the autumn weather has slowly seeped in as the days go by. As I am writing this post, my cousin Savina is off to Australia and it’s been a month since we got married. I honestly can’t believe that time has passed so quickly within a blink of an eye that it’s almost quite terrifying to be fair; and so I thought I would share with you all a quote from Brian Cox about The Arrow of Time:

The Arrow of Time dictates that as each moment passes, things change, and once these changes have happened, they are never undone. Permanent part is a I a fundamental part of being human. We all age as the years pass by — people are born, they live, and they die. I suppose it’s part of the joy and tragedy of our lives, but out there in the universe, those grand and epic cycles peer eternal and unchanging. But that’s an illusion. See, in the life of the universe, just as in our lives, everything is irreversibly changing.

Brian Cox, Wonders of the Universe, BBC 2.

I think that the quote summarises beautifully how life moves on in one direction and that in this vast universe things are not always fixed and constant; just like relationships, friendships, people, interests, your state of mind. Within these relationships and lives, there are so many things that are happening all at the same time- people growing, moving on, falling in love, learning from experiences and making new connections etc. I found the quote so moving I did actually cry as I was writing out my speech- I felt extremely grateful for having and knowing so many people who care about us. And in saying that, I was going to read this for my speech but I ended up changing it as I found something else which was shorter! TBF, I lost count on how many times I ended up editing my speech until I was happy with it.

When I look back it all seems like a distant memory. I’m still looking at photos from our wedding day and whenever I look at them I always seem to pick up other people’s expressions, which gives me a different perspective during that moment in time.

So, September is another time for change (for me anyway) let’s see what happens in the next couple of weeks. My art has been a bit on the back burner lately and unfortunately I’m not feeling too inspired to pick up my pen and draw, maybe because of the stress of the wedding and starting a new job at the same time has left me slightly burnt out. I hope to start making more new artwork when I’m feeling ready and energised again. For now though, I’m not pressuring myself to make any new artwork as I now that I’ll most likely hate what’s on the computer.

This post seems more like a diary entry than anything I have written in the past. I love having this space to be honest about stuff and to let go of negative thoughts. I hope you all take care and look after yourselves. Remember, you’re not alone. Reach out to people if you need a chat about things. There are always people out there who will listen to you.

Enjoy the rest of your week,

Jo

Can I just start off with the post by saying out loudly…. we did it! I can’t believe I’m sitting here right now in front of my computer writing this up. As I’m playing back the day in my mind it went by within a blink of an eye. Looking back now it all seems like a dream. That whole year of planning, running from one shop to another to buy more paper for the paper flowers, hours of making paper flowers with my parents and two sleepless nights because I was thinking of my speech was all worth it. The day before the wedding I was that stressed out I had a cry, yup, not ashamed to admit it but I did have a solid cry for about 10 minutes. But once I had a proper cry I felt good again and the thought of marrying Sam, standing in front of everyone, and celebrating our love really got to me (pretty sure Savina offered me a glass of wine afterwards!).

Where do I even start? The whole day right from 9:00am when the makeup artist came in up until midnight the whole day was absolutely wonderful: busy, loads of family and friends around, constantly directing people what to do, talking, loud, fun, moving things out of the house, dancing, laughing, crying, feelings of bliss and excitement. As much as people tell you what to expect, take the advice and listen to them, because hell I needed people around me when things were busy. When we couldn’t even go in to set up the night before I was getting super anxious. BUT. Sometimes you have to leave things to other people to help out and we did exactly that and the venue looked far better than I had anticipated.

We didn’t have a wedding photographer but instead had friends and family to upload their photos onto a shared Google photo album, which turned out to be some rather funny and interesting photos in the end. There are no ‘best’ photos since they’re all equally as touching and meaningful, however, there are about 500 plus photos so I’m going to start off at Clissold House where we had out ceremony. Enjoy!

BTW, after I signed the certificate I almost fell off the chair as I couldn’t align my bum onto the chair as the dress was so big! Fernanda had to direct me on how where the chair was in relation to my dress!

Savina, my cousin and superstar of a person that she is, was a wonder woman right from the get go. She was amazing in giving us huge amounts of support throughout the whole day and beforehand; directing folks what to do, holding my dress and getting me in it (thanks Helen my other bridesmaid!), organising the Chinese wedding games, arranging flowers for the tables… I mean, I could list a million other things as well but you realise when you have good people in your life you’re forever grateful for it. Helen was also the same as soon as she stepped into our house. Her husband and good friend of ours, Tom, was also the same. They were both just absolutely fantastic and you really need to lean on people at times when it gets a little bit hectic!

Left to right: Savina, me (obvs) and Helen.

So up to this point I was semi-walking and running to the taxi with my mum and Tom as we were heading to the Reservoir centre for the reception. The other photo on the right is Vic, Sarah, Emma and Sam all watching from a distance me in my massive dress. By this point my biceps were big enough to lift some serious weights.

As soon as I stepped into the Reservoir centre with my mum I was completely stunned to the point where I almost cried simply because it was beyond what I was imagining. All those nights and hours spent cutting and trimming out flowers with my parents was so, so worth it. The caterers were incredible as well and we can’t thank them enough for what they did as I had written out instructions on where things should go and they followed it to a t. EVERYTHING, and I mean everything from all the booze, decorations, dresses, props etc. all of it went into a van which Sam’s dad had hired for it to go in the morning. Savina and I rearranged everything the night before so that it was as organised as it could be for the courier to pick all the stuff up without crushing the paper flowers. I cannot tell you how much team work and love comes into it! I didn’t see what was going on as I was getting ready by this point!

Here we are having a traditional Chinese tea ceremony for both sides of the family, to welcome all into each others lives by giving tea to the elders first then working our way down the family. You can tell by this point we were elated with emotions, sort of lost beyond words how I was feeling at this point. It was a joy for all our friends and family to see and be part of it too as the tea ceremony symbolises the union of families becoming one. Yes, we’re one big famalam now!

The food from FunThyme was just incredible. I don’t have any photos of the food as by this point I was a nervous wreck thinking about my speech (winged it in the end and it was all fine!) Everyone had said that the food as delicious as well as the service too.

Now we’re onto the cake. My friend whom I used to work with made our cakes for us. Two cakes you say? YES! She made one which was a dairy cake and the other one (the one tiered cake) a vegan cake. In my own cake opinion both cakes were incredible, especially the vegan cake. She said that she had spent ages researching the right ingredients for it and wanted it to be perfect. When I saw the cakes and the mini cupcakes I was literally jumping for joy, Monica had completely exceeded our expectations and funnily enough it blended in perfectly with the framed Double Happiness sign as as as well as the floral decorations.

I’m going to end it here and continue to mull over the photos for the next couple of weeks, I just wanted to take the opportunity here to say a massive thank you to everyone who were part of the day and behind the scenes. We honestly couldn’t have done it without those who were setting up and running around in the background. I will leave all the details about the suppliers below as we can only promote them as much as possible since they were also a major part of it too!

Suppliers:

Photography: David Fry plus lots of other very talented people. We shared all the photos using Google Photos and shared the album.

Dress: Jayne’s Bridal

Chinese wedding dress and red shoes: From Hong Kong

Floral hair vine: Luna Bea

Floral headband: Agnes Hart

Flower hair pins: Rene Walrus

Gold floral Chinese hair comb: Lovely Wanderers

Necklace and earrings: Wolf and Moon

Earrings for the Chinese Tea Ceremony: Rosita Bonita

Shoes: Irregular Choice

Ceremony venue: Clissold House

Reception venue: West Reservoir Centre

Caterer: FunThyme

Makeup: Spence and Oliver

Hair: Faces Hairdressing

Decorations: Me plus an army of people.

Cakes: Monica from Cook with Amore

Edible flowers: Maddocks Farm Organic

Flowers: Grace & Thorn

Flowers at Clissold House: Botanique Workshop