An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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GDC Mix & PAX East 2015

There’s no turning back now! The game’s launching in a week! EEEKS! Exciting times… and to think it all started when I moved here in 2013. The first time T ever attended a conference or tradeshow for Axiom Verge was Indiecade (September 2013) in Culver City, California. It was something he’s never dared to do because he was afraid. I went with him to that very first one to pitch to different companies and we’ve never looked back since! 2 weeks ago, we returned from touring the game and have been quite exhausted till now. I think we’re picking up wind from the launch of the game being so close too.

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So we left our house in our Jeep – exhibition gear, clothes and our dog, Max. We drove almost 6 hours to Arizona where my FIL lived and spent the night there. From Phoenix airport, we flew out to San Francisco (and left Max with my in-laws). We spent a few days there and got some sight-seeing done on top of the multiple interviews and our showing at a press event called GDC Mix. We didn’t attend the main event – GDC (Game Developers’ Conference) but instead conserved most of our money and energy for the next event. I enjoyed seeing San Francisco. It’s like Seattle but less wet and beautifully green this time of year. Also, we got to hang out with T’s sister when we stayed at her guest cottage. His niece Sophia was the sweetest, most perfect child.

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After a few days in San Francisco, we flew to frigid Boston. There, T’s cousin Patty picked us up from the airport and we were really fortunate that they could house us because we couldn’t get a hotel except for 2 nights. Her son Drew gave up his room for us and bunked in with his sisters for the nights we were there.

T also had his very first 2 Uber experiences there! HAHA!

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PAX East was really well-attended. Because of budget constraints, we almost didn’t show there. T applied for the Indie Mega Booth but for some reason wasn’t selected (maybe they thought 1 guy making an entire game wasn’t indie enough *koffkoff*). At the very last minute though, Phedran tweeted T about the possibility of sharing a space with the Cooler Master guys and it turned out to be even better! We had lines almost all the time even though we had 3 different machines set up – we even went out to Walmart to buy a TV on set-up day to ensure we had enough stations. Very last minute but so necessary.  It was a great experience overall and money well spent, even if we all agree it shouldn’t be held in this frigid weather. Apparently last year’s event was held in April, so I don’t understand why they had to move it. It also overlapped with GDC (another reason why we didn’t do the main event there). But it’s over now and if we have to do another show in snow, I think we might skip the event. Hahaha…

Oh yes, Axiom Verge also won Destructoid’s Best of PAX Editor’s Choice! w00t!

I must say another big Thank You to Dan who made sure there was lots of press coverage and his tireless energy for 3 back to back promotional events (he even went to SXSW Interactive in Austin for us a few days after PAX East ended).

I’m sure I’m missing out on a lot of details from the 12 days we were away from home and moving from state to state but it’s all good, right? With each event, I learn to up my logistical game so T really just has to concentrate on making the game and showing it. I not only pack t-shirts for sale (we accept cash and credit/debit cards using SQUARE) and stickers or buttons for giveaway but we now also have 4 different printed banners as well as an acrylic sign. I also pack extra business cards, 2 extension cables, disinfectant wipes and extra headphones. My key learning lesson from this trip is to pack a chair (and I went out to buy a foldable camping chair when I got home). There weren’t enough chairs to go around so Tom and Dan ended up sitting on the floor whenever they got tired.

But that’s it for now and our next adventure is going to be in Los Angeles, mid-June. We’re planning to head to E3! Hopefully it all works out!


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The Death of the Publishing Industry

IMG_6340The title should read “buying printed materials can be the death of me”. T and I recently encountered a rather annoying situation when attempting to buy the latest issue of Game Informer magazine in Las Vegas. This involved a very excited man whose work was featured in one of the few print publications on gaming left in the industry, enthusiastically seeking one copy to purchase. And it ended with a very frustrated man going home to calm himself down by eating directly from a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Our online research showed that Game Informer could be purchased at a GameStop outlet so we drove down to one about 15 minutes from where we live. There, we were greeted with brusque hostility from their retail staff. Let me qualify by setting the situation – there were less than 10 customers in the store looking over cartridges (or whatever they call those things now), no queue at the counter and 2 ladies talking to each other behind it. It didn’t look like they were stock-taking or doing anything that needed immediate attention. Right in front of us, there were maybe 10 copies of the magazine we wanted but instead of being helpful, we were asked if we had a GameStop membership (yes they checked their system against our phone number), then told to upgrade it or subscribe to it for a year and there’s no way to just buy one copy. I could think of so many ways of relaying this information without turning us off. Firstly, try the words “I’m afraid it’s not within our policy” or “I would love to help you but I do not have the authority to get around the system”. Rather than “no, you can’t” and “that’s how it is”. Secondly, they could’ve at least pretended to try rather than give us a blank stare that seemed to communicate a “so those are your options. What’s it going to be?”. I offered to pay for a year’s subscription but by then T was so miffed at their outward nonchalance that he refused it – thus denying a genuine and willing shopper. To end it all, there was no “is there anything else I can help you with” gesture, just looking at us as we turned our backs to go. Those are stock and standard courtesy phrases in retail. You don’t have to mean them but not even bothering to do the minimum required is simply unacceptable. We were not holding up a line, there were 2 of you behind the counter so if 1 was attending to us, the other could keep watch on the physical store – is that so difficult? We wanted to BUY one, not sponge one off because “hey I’m in the magazine”. IMG_6104

We ended up driving around for hours – to another 2 different stores which sell magazines, getting the phone numbers of another 2 then calling them (while sitting on a very comfy double papasan chair in Pier 1) but ultimately going home empty-handed.

T and I own a bunch of gadgety things from our personal computers to smart phones – we also have an iPad and 2 Kindles. He is subscribed to car magazines and I have 4 home and fashion magazines subscribed. We are constantly reading, embracing both digital and pulp. And we have consciously kept our favourite books to pass down to our future children (if we have any). I’ve always loved the library, books, literary culture and the art of writing regardless of genre or content – even frivolity in the rags. I come from a generation that grew up without computers or the Internet – our parents took us to libraries to look up information, we knew how to use the Encyclopedia Brittanica etc. As a teenager, I mail ordered magazines from overseas through the post office using money orders and I READ about music to imagine what bands sound like. If it weren’t listening to the radio, to sample music, I would go to a shop and request for a cassette tape to be played – 30 seconds first song of side A and 30 seconds of last song of side B only. I had to count on Smash Hits to fill me in on the rest so that I can decide if I would part with the princely sum of SGD10 to hear the entire album.

So much of the art of writing is lost through our instant and digital culture. I revere writers who can ignite my imaginations with plain text and stir up emotions with adverbs and adjectives plucked seemingly effortlessly from the air but these days, I mourn their loss with badly written yet scandalously popular blogs that titillate.

I went to school to learn how to teach English and Literature – which I did for 5 years in Secondary schools in Singapore, and then 3 years teaching a creative writing course in an enrichment centre. Yet ironically, I did not myself attempt to write outside of academia. I’ve been told I write clearly but my style is too obtuse for anyone to relate. I took that to mean that I could edit for grammar and syntax but I should not attempt my own prose.

What this piece of verbose rambling is, is pointing at people who inadvertently cause the demise of the print industry – bad sales people who make feeble attempts to sell despite the fact that they have many actual physical copies on hand, digitisation of publications for convenience, louts who tout pirated books (I’ve seen entire black & white photocopies of Lonely Planet guides in Khao San, Bangkok for USD2) etc.

And where there’s the anti-hero, we must have someone to provide a glimpse of faith in humanity. With this, I refer to Mike (of Game Informer) who saw my tweet about our futile attempts to buy a copy of the magazine and swiftly takes action by offering me solutions then sending a copy of that dastardly publication to our house! PR and Social Media saves the day! My husband is now happy again. He had wanted his “own spanking new copy to frame up or something” (quote verbatim). IMG_6341

It is a good read and to be honest, when he first said he wanted to buy Game Informer, I laughed hysterically and responded with infomeryounosaydaddymesnowmeI’llgoblamealickyboomboomdown… Because I just didn’t know what it was. Now that I’ve had a chance to read it though, I feel sorry for the editorial team putting the magazine out. It is hard enough to get people to purchase physical print copies of your work and it just doesn’t help that frontline staff from your parent company retail outlets isn’t making more of an attempt to promote it.

T is happy with his multiple copies of the magazine featuring his work and I’m very grateful for Mike who saved the day. A paid subscription to the magazine might be in the works – gawd knows I need me some schooling in video games especially being the wife of a game developer. And apparently Game Informer is considered one of the the last bastion for printed game magazines (also the best)… Maybe when T has forgotten the GameStop episode.


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My husband’s video game on the Playstation Network in 2015

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This is a post about how the world of frivolous living (aka me) collides with my geeky husband’s video game career. If you haven’t already read on my Facebook fanpage, my husband has recently signed a publishing contract with Sony Playstation for a game he’s been working on since 4 years ago. He’s still a small-time indie game developer so to be recognised by a major player is a huge deal. I’m so proud of him and his multiple talents!

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I love reading the comments from his fans on the Axiom Verge Facebook fanpage and sometimes on the blog entries itself. But since Sony’s announcement, I’ve been hooked on the comments and frenzy by gamers who’ve been following the progress as well as those who’ve just discovered it. There are of course cynics and critics but among the commenters, there are also those genuinely stoked about Axiom Verge.

Here are some of my favourites:

This game promises to be a true masterpiece, pray together my brothers so that it comes out on PC. Amen! – Zhn Nico

NOOOO, “coming out in early 2015″…… I wanna play this right now! – vstarwow

@AxiomVerge was easily the standout star of yesterday’s @PlayStation indie blowout. That soundtrack is killer and the game looks incredible – @NOLAnerdcast

SWEET JESUS @AxiomVerge JUST TAKE MY MONEY NOW!!! – Logan Via

Holy crap, this looks amazing! Super Metroid is one of my favorite games ever, and I just had some serious deja vu watching this trailer. Thanks for supporting vita too. I’m torn, I want you to take your time and make it perfect, but I NEED to play it now! – rabidninjamonky

This is going to be one hell of a game that I’ll most likely play for days on end w/o ever stopping to do anything, I repeat, ANYTHING. I wanna play this NOW!!:D:D – Daniel Brydson

And then there’s me – I shamelessly gush about T’s work and I think he’s really talented for doing everything on his own – animation, coding and music. I know I’m biased because he’s my husband. But he truly deserves all his success because when he works at Petroglyph Games in the day, he still comes home every night and work on Axiom Verge for 3 to 4 hours (most days till midnight), and when he works from home, he’s in his office for 10 to 12 hours daily (leaving me to my own devices while we’re in the same house). Even when we’re on holiday, he works on it for hours on the plane AND in hotel rooms! Luckily for the both of us, I don’t need constant supervision and can entertain myself independently. Hahahahha!!

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Other than that, I don’t know video games – don’t play, don’t follow. Those comments are a huge kick in my butt for not understanding the extent of what Axiom Verge is and why people are so psyched for its release – that there are unrelated strangers around the world hanging onto every update. My mind is BLOWN!

I don’t care that I didn’t marry a fancy-pantsy $$$ corporate, I no longer live in a fast-paced cosmopolitan city, and the days of fortnightly spa treatments and new clothes are long gone (until I start making my own money again). Life is far from perfect – especially having to deal with unexpected grief in our new family recently. But hey, the universe does what it needs to keep things balanced, right? As we cope with the trials and tribulations that is life, I want us to be able to unabashedly celebrate T’s success while working through our loss.

These days, my narcissism has taken a backseat and I’m enjoying the scenery while riding T’s wave. It’s been months since I’ve posted outfit pictures or anything else. There hasn’t been much to shout about and I don’t really want to bother T with taking my frivolous photos. Honestly, I don’t think he does a very good job. He does what he does well BUT he takes ugly photos of me and doesn’t seem to see it. I guess it’s also a good thing he thinks I look beautiful when I’m not, right? Hahahahahaha!

My world has changed so much since taking a huge leap of faith leaving Singapore and moving across the globe after a whirlwind romance to marry T. I traded in championing indie music to be a housewife and it’s opened up so many new experiences! Far from losing myself, I consider this a privileged opportunity to rediscover forgotten possibilities and reconnect with what is important to me. It took me 10 years longer than my peers have on average to find their partners and I’m not afraid to say that I savour being married! I have a great husband!! I am still my own person but for now I want to dedicate my time to play the wifely unit of the creator of Axiom Verge and put everything in cruise control.

Anyway, what is this Axiom Verge I keep talking about? Here’s the trailer to show you more

AND here are some links to T’s world – please like, share, follow!


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Oh by the way, I got married

20131029-035341.jpgOh hey… Guess what? I got married last Saturday. In Vegas, of course. By Darth Vader, no less. These pixellated photos are courtesy of screen captures from the LIVE STREAM. We didn’t have both our mothers in attendance and I also wanted to share the occasion with my close friends back in Singapore, so we had a video broadcast of the event!

Yes! We finally did it and this means, no more long distance. Hopefully, we will never ever have to spend a night apart again (okay, not for months at a stretch, I mean).

It was a small ceremony held at Viva Las Vegas, that hopefully is indicative of our lives together henceforth – there was some planning (we both wanted something that spoke to our geek sides), some budgeting (everything including BOTH our clothes, shoes, accessories, the rental of the chapel, photographer, minister’s fee, marriage license etc was under $2000), some frivolous fun, lots of laughter and always inclusive of our friends and families no matter where they are.

It still feels surreal.

Before the actual wedding, we had to get our marriage license. Easy peasy! USD60 as well as a valid passport or photo ID that displays your full name and date of birth is all it takes. The Clark County Marriage Bureau operates 365 days a year from 8am to midnight every day and when we were there, I observed people from all over, not just US citizens. All kinds of people come here to get married in the Wedding Capital of the World, many spontaneously and some were already in their wedding clothes – straight after getting their marriage licence, they would head to a chapel (there are dozens nearby) to be married!

Less than a year ago when T said he was going to marry me, I basically laughed and said “We’ll see about that…”, and now we’re here. I think my mother loved T more than any other guy I’ve brought home, because you know… he’s just so decent and proper, and was only too happy to let me do this (with just a hint of being scandalized because I didn’t do the proper “handover” aka Chinese tea ceremony before I ran away to get married to an Ang Mo in a foreign country). But that’s that and we’re going to try get it sorted out soon so my family’s honour can be restored… *koffkoff*

So hello everyone! This is it! I’m the new Mrs T Happ!

And if you want to bless our home with a gift or two… here’s our Amazon Wedding Gift Registry or scoot over there for some stalking and see what kind of people we are. HAHA!

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Max has cancer

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About a week before I arrived, Max had surgery to remove some tumours and a few days after I got here, we found out that those were malignant tumours. Long story short, after several rounds of testings and ultrasounds, we decided that the best course of action was to send Max for radiation therapy because the Vet couldn’t remove all the bad stuff.

Max is a loving and super friendly Black Lab that T adopted from a shelter about 4 years ago. He was originally named Droopy and T paid for his eyelid surgery to correct his you-guessed-it droopy eyelids. Max is not just a dog. Max is family. To be precise, T calls Max his ‘fursborn” child.

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So early on Monday morning, we went off to rent a car to take Max to the California Veterinary Specialists in Carlsbad, California. We picked up the car from ENTERPRISE Rent-A-Car (this time we rented a black FORD Focus for under $35 a day including taxes) and I drove it home, following behind T’s Corvette. By 8.30am, we’ve packed Max into the car and were headed to California. The drive was long and Max had no idea where we were taking him. It broke my heart to see him wagging his tail happily and I was teary-eyed almost all the way. Our appointment was for 3pm but because we’ve never taken this journey, we left early and got there by 1.30pm (even with 2 pitstops where Max got out to stretch his legs, drink water and do his business).

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Max will be boarding in the facility for the next 25 days or so to receive radiation treatment. When the 2 nurses came to take him away, he was confused and maybe a little scared. He kept trying to jump into T’s lap and pawed him. We had to walk a few steps with him so that he would budge. I was fighting to hold back my tears. One of the nurses saw my red eyes and tried to reassure me he’ll be fine and well taken care of. Instead, she herself started crying and said that they will email to update us regularly. T feels that it’s a good sign that the nurse cried because that means she knows how we feel and they will be gentle with Max.

This is definitely emotionally and financially draining. There was no question that for T, saving Max was of utmost importance and putting him down was a last resort. So, we’re now trying to figure out where all this money will come from and are trying to sell some of our stuff to pay for everything. When it rains, it pours. But I think we’ll be okay because we’re together, you know? We’re told that Max will have a 85% chance of full recovery and now that I’m here, T won’t have to take the dreary drive across the desert alone. We will be visiting him every weekend till he’s ready to come home.

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Back in Las Vegas

So if you’ve noticed the lack of daily updates, that’s because I haven’t been at work and Sianny hasn’t been taking my pictures for me. To be exact, I’m currently on leave (and then some).

Shuttling back and forth has been quite tiring. Some of you might know how much I hate flying and this journey takes me about 24 hours (Singapore – Narita – Portland – Las Vegas). But I’m glad to be back home (where my heart is). I miss my bed back in Singapore though… then again, when I’m in Singapore, I miss T so much.

IMG_8469I’m so happy to be physically next to him again. It’s very hard, this long distance relationship. Isn’t he cute as a baby? He says he was a big nerd as a teenager and he found it difficult to gain weight – so much so that he was insecure about how thin he was. That’s him and his older sister, Julie , in front of their Dad’s old car.

IMG_8457So anyway, we haven’t done much. I’m not so much into partying and shopping – which is what people usually go to Vegas for (especially since I’m kinda skint these days. My flights cost half my monthly salary). He does want to get a new Jeep Wrangler and has been going on and on about it. And since I’m here, he finally went down to the car dealer to check them out in person. As you can see from the pictures, it’s quite a big deal for him and he was really engrossed in the details. I’m just glad that we’ll have a bigger (less expensive) vehicle and Max can now go on rides (or camping or road trips) with us! Right now, his 2-seater 2008 Corvette isn’t very useful. Each time I come here, I have to take a taxi from the airport because his trunk wouldn’t fit my gigantic suitcases! So fingers crossed that the plan to get a new car for free (after selling the Corvette) and maybe make a little money…

IMG_8487While he’s at work though, I have been home alone with Max the Maximum Dog. The house is erm… not quite apocalypse (to his credit, T did try to clean up before I returned), but I have to do a lot of work still. Sorting things out, throwing away expired food, dusting, vacuuming, etc. I haven’t got much done yet to be honest. I reckon as long as I do a little vacuuming and packing (say 2-3 hours a day for now), as well as cleaning up immediately after we use certain areas, I’ll soon get this place tidied up.

IMG_8508Other than that, I’ve been cooking. We ate out once so far (The Cheesecake Factory… YUM!!) but because it costs as much as 2 weeks worth of fresh/frozen groceries, I reckon it’s better if I cook. I do rather enjoy cooking (okay, I enjoy eating as I cook more). T also appears to like my food. I guess it’s a matter of perspective. He has limited cooking skills and relies a lot on frozen foods and pre-made sauces. I’ve watched my maids and aunts cook growing up. Also, living on my own helps. I can’t say I’m a good cook but I can make stuff that I myself love eating. T seems to love it too, so that’s a big plus! The funny thing is that he always asks if I made the sauce/gravy myself because “it’s so delicious” but it’s a very simple gravy made of the exact same steps EVERY TIME – sauteed minced garlic (or sauteed onions), vegetarian oyster sauce (mushroom sauce), water and corn starch. That is all. I just put in different vegetables each time. Hahahaa…

IMG_8517The other thing is when I arrived, T had this huge gift all wrapped up in HELLO KITTY wrapping paper (he said it took 2 rolls) in our bedroom. My birthday is in about 2 weeks and I turn 35. I can’t imagine what it could be. Maybe it’s a tent! We can go camping when we get the Jeep Wrangler! w000t! But for now, your guess is as good as mine. Bleagh… I can’t wait to open it! In the meantime, if you’d like to add to my happiness, here’s my AMAZON wishlist (hahahahaha…)

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I love how T has done up our bedroom and the vestibule since I was last here in May. All I did was pay for the furniture and he put them together. The tapestry behind our bed is from URBAN OUTFITTERS (Oh how I love that shop!!). The nightstands, hall tree, shoe rack and night stands are from AMAZON (so convenient hor?) and every time they deliver something I buy, he’d excitedly send me photos of the package and open it (because he usually has no idea what’s inside).

Life is simple but good. No need for wild parties, late nights, eating out or crazy shopping. I’m taking it slow for now and enjoying my time in the quiet neighbourhood of Cameron & Crestone.


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Tea for Two at Twinings Tea Boutique in Bangkok

What: An afternoon “Tea for Two” session at Twinings Tea Boutique, Bangkok

Located: 1F, Atrium Zone, Central World (near Kate Spade), Bangkok (Thailand)

So I was at the Twinings Tea Boutique in Bangkok, Thailand just last Monday. I was there with Tom to enjoy the voucher I got from the kind people at Twinings (Singapore).

On November 25, Ryddy and I went to the TWININGS Pop-up store along Orchard and I blogged about it (here). He took a photo of me and I won a trip for 2 (2D1N) to Bangkok and a chance to sample teas there. It turned out to be an afternoon tea set for two! I had originally wanted to take Ryddy but he’d already gone on business trip to Bangkok recently so he turned me down. Instead, I went with Tom since we were already going to Bangkok and what a wonderfully lovely way for us to end our  2-week long vacation… (Thank you Ryddy! Thank you, Twinings!)

Here are some photos Tom took with his camera…

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This is the tea boutique and those were the seats we sat in. Such comfy armchairs! I just sank into mine. We got to Central Mall at around 1pm on a Monday and it was relatively easy to locate the salon. Tom felt that it was as good as it could be considering it was in the middle of a thoroughfare in a mall. Unlike Tom, I enjoyed that it was in an open space  near shops rather than tucked away. I kept looking into the Kate Spade boutique that was right next to us! (heehee…)

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In our set, there were more than 20 different teas to choose from and we were just overwhelmed. In the end, we had the Lady Grey on recommendation. It has a delicate fragrance and quite different from Earl Grey. We were told that it had Bergamot (that’s what’s in my hand lotion, OMG), lemon peel and orange peel (if I remember correctly).

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That’s a timer for how long we need to steep different types teas before drinking. White teas, Green Tea & Influsions and Black Tea. We were watching the hourglass that said Black Tea.

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Yum! Scones, cream and jam were the order of the day! They kindly swopped some of the sandwiches when I informed them that we were vegetarian – no questions, done swiftly. I loved the scones and the cucumber sandwiches! This Tea for Two was obviously not tea for the two of us greedy ones. Everything was so delicious that we could’ve eaten more even though we’d just finished a late breakfast at 10am! I’d recommend that you add on with some other delectable treats they have on offer.

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Tea strainer because we had loose leaf tea instead of a bag. Choose the loose leaf teas because it’s more value for money! With teabags you don’t get a refill.

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I had sugar with my tea, of course!

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When we left, we realised that there were so many other yummy treats we didn’t get a chance to try! OH MY! For the next trip then *wink*

And here are some photos I took with my iPhone 5

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One word – lovely!

I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok city life just for a little bit. Take a leisurely sip of the bazillion teas on offer and enjoy some quiet (and air-conditioning) for only 450 baht. I had a lovely time with my date and I’ll definitely be trying out more Twinings flavours in the near future… Mmmm…

Thanks Twinings for giving Tom and I a special treat on one of our ultra rare (in person) dates since we’re a long-distance couple!