Bali Work-cation: Alila Villas Uluwatu

Our recent Bali jaunt with Herr Hubby unfortunately wasn’t all fun in the sun…it actually was a working vacay – or a work-cation – for moi.Yes, working during your vacation can be a painful drag but at the end of the day, who am I to complain? I’m simply grateful and extremely humbled by the fact that people are willing to give me the opportunity to work and that I get compensated quite comfortably for what I do. And the perks ain’t half bad either, duckies…

I juggle a few working “hats”, as most of you know, if you’ve been following The Bamboo Stiletto for a while. Yes, I blog but The Bamboo Stiletto is simply what I like to do when I have spare time. Just as I like to create hand-poured soy candles, play around with scents, container jars and packaging, and sell them at bazaars. Blogging and soy candles are fun but we’ve all got bills to pay, don’t we, honey bunnies…and blogs and candles don’t exactly rake in the buckeroos.

As our favourite diva, Mimi (the eternally precious Mariah Carey) once said on MTV Cribs as she was sashaying around her fanta-bulous Manhattan penthouse apartment in her pink high-heeled fur-trimmed mules, ” Somebody’s gotta work hard to pay for this s—“. I feel you, Mimi, I feel you, girl!

So, duckies, The Bamboo Stiletto moonlights as a “wordworker” for hire, or, to use the more professional term, as a content development specialist on retainer to a select group of five-star hotels in China. Which basically means I’m responsible for any English language content they might need, from writing press releases to food and beverage promotional material to website content.

My newest major “hat” is as magazine editor for an English-language lifestyle magazine targeted at expats in south China; I springboarded to this magazine from my previous editorial post at a website, which, technically speaking, was my first break into media and incidentally, was offered to me partly because of this blog, The Bamboo Stiletto. Ha! I may not make any money out of this blog but, my dear Stiletto-istas, it has led to the most wonderful opportunities ūüôā See what I mean about being humbled and grateful???

One other major “hat” I do wear is as PR consultant for a bijou collection of extremely high-end resorts, in glamorous locations like Bali and Phuket. I work from my little home office in Casa Stiletto but essentially, I can actually work from anywhere, as long as I have my smartphone, my laptop and a good wifi connection.

The Bali work-cation afforded a perfect opportunity for me to meet and greet some of my clients who are based there. So, for one day while Herr Hubby was happily enconsced swimming, dining & drinking, and even shopping, with my gal pals, I trotted along with my boss, from Seminyak to Uluwatu to Jimbaran for a day of meetings with clients and resort site inspections.

It was a rainy day and I only had my iPhone camera but managed to sneak a few pics – here’s a look at a stunningly beautiful resort that’s a perfect blueprint as a hide-away for the rich, famous and fabulous. Feast your eyes on Alila Villas Uluwatu:

Ocean & pool view from the lobby

Ocean & pool view from the lobby

that same view...

that same view…

the incredible cliffside pavilion hanging over the edge of the ocean...a sought-after venue for weddings. imagine!!!

the incredible cliffside pavilion hanging over the edge of the ocean…a sought-after venue for weddings. imagine!!!

the sheer drop from the pavilion to the ocean down below...Uluwatu is the spectacular southern tip in Bali where the Indian & Pacific Oceans meet

the sheer drop from the pavilion to the ocean down below…Uluwatu is the spectacular southern tip in Bali where the Indian & Pacific Oceans meet

hallways leading to the restaurant...

hallways leading to the restaurant…

We had a quick look at one of the spectacular three-bedroom villas:

ok, each villa has its own private gate like this, in case you have a fleet of limos ferrying you around...

ok, each villa has its own private gate like this, in case you have a fleet of limos ferrying you around…

...and what money (or Mastercard) can buy you.View? priceless.

…and what money (or Mastercard) can buy you.
View? priceless.

view from another angle...remember that cliffside pavilion as a wedding venue? heck, you can have it right here!

view from another angle…remember that cliffside pavilion as a wedding venue? heck, you can have it right here!

I also couldn’t help but admire the tasteful, thoughtful little touches scattered around the resort, such as these:

a little floral, herb and spice vignette at the spa

a little floral, herb and spice vignette at the spa

a charming corridor

a charming corridor

beautiful driftwood installation art

beautiful driftwood installation art

I loved what they used as a condiments tray in the restaurant during our lunch...an old Balinese children's wooden game board. From my childhood in the Philippines, we had a similar one, called "sungka"!

I loved what they used as a condiments tray in the restaurant during our lunch…an old Balinese children’s wooden game board. From my childhood in the Philippines, we had a similar one, called “sungka”!

And speaking of lunch…here’s where this post ends as I’ve got Sunday night dinner at home to prepare with Herr Hubby. Let me love you and leave you with these fantastic images of Alila Villas Uluwatu in your head, to dream about for YOUR next vacay. Wouldn’t that be fabulous, dah-lings???

Toodles!!!

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Why Hello, Snake! Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nian Kuai Le!!!

We CANNOT believe that it’s been a full MONTH and a half since we last communicated with you, Stiletto-istas…

Indeedy, we had thought that January & February would be the slow & sleepy twins. Aren’t they always. especially for those of us China ressies? Caught in between the frenzied madness of Christmas/New Year and – for those unfortunate enough to be travelling – the chaos of “Chunyun” (also known as the world’s largest annual human migration, when millions of Chinese travel home for the Lunar New Year), January & February have been traditionally regarded in the China-based workplace as a “wash”. In other words, it’s fine if your brain went out to lunch and never came back because EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING THE SAME THING.

Anyhooz, I was all set to snuggle on my couch under a cashmere blankie and for my brain to be junking out for two deliciously lazy months catching up on DVD marathons of Downton Abbey, Revenge, Mad Men, The Walking Dead and the gloriously perverse American Horror Story. Oh – and of course, the final season of Gossip Girl – because, well, DUH! – I just HAD TO find out if Chuck did end up with Blair. I mean, seriously, darlings, don’t you????

Well, snow bunnies, looks like the Snake may slither over with blessings this year because work has been FRIGHTFULLY busy! We still work from home – we ain’t considering anything else – but let’s just say, we’ve thankfully picked up a couple of mighty lucrative and highly enjoyable gigs here and there.

Chucking aside the DVDs (for now) and determined to welcome the Snake and all the good luck that the Lunar New Year brings, we switched out our Christmas decorations in favour of Spring Festival decorations at Casa Stiletto. Here’s a quick Instagram look at our efforts:

Welcoming the blessings of luck & prosperity from the Snake discreetly begins at Casa Stiletto's front door. From our local Metro supermarket, can't remember the price exactly but hella cheap.

Welcoming the blessings of luck & prosperity from the Snake discreetly begins at Casa Stiletto’s front door. From our local Metro supermarket, can’t remember the price exactly but hella cheap.

On the first day of "Chunjie" (Lunar New Year), it is traditional to have a Lion Dance bless your place of business or home. Hang a vegetable offering and "hongbao" (little red packet containing cash in even-numbered denominations only) for the Lion to gobble and he gets to keep the hongbao and you keep the veggies.  Herr Hubby & I were excited that our residential compound arranged a lion dance for residents on the first morning of Chinese New Year and residents could invite them to their home, if they wished. So, we did! And so to Casa Stiletto they noisily and colourfully came, drums and cymbals banging & crashing, two golden lions gyrating & wiggling their tails. I have to say, it was FUN :-)!

On the first day of “Chunjie” (Lunar New Year), it is traditional to have a Lion Dance bless your place of business or home. Hang a vegetable offering and “hongbao” (little red packet containing cash in even-numbered denominations only) for the Lion to gobble and he gets to keep the hongbao and you keep the veggies. Herr Hubby & I were excited that our residential compound arranged a lion dance for residents on the first morning of Chinese New Year and residents could invite them to their home, if they wished. So, we did! And so to Casa Stiletto they noisily and colourfully came, drums and cymbals banging & crashing, two golden lions gyrating & wiggling their tails. I have to say, it was a FUN spectacle!

Gorgeous red lanterns abound during the weeks leading to Chinese New Year, so how could I resist? Picked up a couple from our local supermarket and hung them at the balcony. Love them!

Gorgeous red lanterns abound during the weeks leading to Chinese New Year, so how could I resist? Picked up a couple from our local supermarket and hung them at the balcony. Love them!

One of the most charming aspects of celebrating Chinese New Year in Guangzhou are all the Spring Festival Flower Fairs proliferating in the city. Herr Hubby & I ventured out with the camera one evening & captured the colourful festive sights - more on that in another post - and also picked up this cute little good luck flower offering.

One of the most charming aspects of celebrating Chinese New Year in Guangzhou are all the Spring Festival Flower Fairs proliferating in the city. Herr Hubby & I ventured out with the camera one evening & captured the colourful festive sights – more on that in another post – and also picked up this cute little good luck flower offering.

It's also traditional to have a Spring Festival tree during Chinese New Year, much as we have a Christmas tree at Christmas. Herr Hubby & I searched for something pretty while still fairly traditional and found these little beauties at a flower market. SO gorgeous!!!

It’s also traditional to have a Spring Festival tree during Chinese New Year, much as we have a Christmas tree at Christmas. Herr Hubby & I searched for something pretty while still fairly traditional and found these little beauties at a flower market. SO gorgeous!!!

Here's how the Spring Festival mini-tree looked on our coffee table at Casa Stiletto...and as Valentine's Day this year fell in the middle of Chinese New Year, our mini-tree is flanked by a bouquet of roses, a couple glasses of champagne and a bowl of late-night chicken curry. Hahaaaa!

Here’s how the Spring Festival mini-tree looked on our coffee table at Casa Stiletto…and as Valentine’s Day this year happened during the middle of Chinese New Year, our mini-tree is flanked by a bouquet of roses, a couple glasses of champagne and a bowl of late-night chicken curry. Hahaaaa!

...and check out the roses bloomin' when transferred to a vase. Looks hella beautiful on our living room console table.

…and check out the roses bloomin’ when transferred to a vase. Looks hella beautiful on our living room console table.

What about you, duckies, did you celebrate Chinese New Year in YOUR part of the world???
As we hunker down for the weekend, our dear Stiletto-istas…from the hearts of Casa Stiletto to yours, we would like to wish you a Happy, Healthy and Sizzlingly Prosperous Year of the Snake!!!
Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nian Kuai Le, Happy New Year!!!

A New Year of Fierce Fabulousity for Us All!

It’s been a while, my darling Stiletto-istas, but yes, NEWS FLASH! Although on life support for the past couple months as the madness of the festive season and life in general just threatened to completely engulf us, The Bamboo Stiletto is still alive, kicking up her heels and has not forgotten YOU.

We’re determined to start 2013 fabulously right with a wish for y’all…from my heart & home in Canton, China to yours, my warmest greetings for a Happy & Prosperous New Year, filled with skedaddles of success and style, shoes and smiles and everything pure and good that your hearts desire.

Our recent travels here & there coupled with the festive season – and the curious fact that our work-at-home situation seemed to have racheted up a notch recently – kept us from blogging, peeps, but we made an effort to keep up the holiday spirit in our very own Casa Stiletto with a few little touches that, thankfully, managed not to break the bank. Taking a page from The Thrifty Decor Chick (love her blog!), here’s the results of our decorating efforts at Casa Stiletto (please excuse the poor quality of the photos, which were Instagrammed hurriedly and not really edited properly):

Let's kick off with a simple Christmas welcome wreath I hung on the front door, as well as a couple of lovely poinsettia plants I picked up for RMB 20 (approx. USD 3) each at a local market...

Let’s kick off with a simple Christmas welcome wreath I hung on the front door, as well as a couple of lovely poinsettia plants I picked up for RMB 20 (approx. USD 3) each at a local market…

Our home's entry foyer has a floor to ceiling window looking out onto our small balcony, where I hung twin red "parols" (traditional Philippine Christmas lanterns), which I made my brother handcarry to Hong Kong. Aren't they super-kyoooooot?

Our home’s entry foyer has a floor to ceiling window looking out onto our small balcony, where I hung twin red “parols” (traditional Philippine Christmas lanterns), which I made my brother handcarry to Hong Kong. Aren’t they super-kyoooooot?

Speaking of the balcony, I also picked tiny twin poinsettias, which I plonked into the backs of our balcony giraffes (right-hand side). Now, Herr Hubby swears these are not giraffes but reindeer...it's an ongoing debate in Casa Stiletto.

Speaking of the balcony, I also picked up tiny twin poinsettias while at the local market, then plonked ’em into the backs of our balcony giraffes (right-hand side). Now, Herr Hubby swears these are not giraffes but reindeer…it’s an ongoing debate in Casa Stiletto.

Herr Hubby & I are traditionalists in that we both adore having an Advent wreath at home for Christmas...an easy thing to acquire if you live in a Western or international city...not the case in Canton Town, a bit of a no man's land when it comes to Christmas decorations. What's a girl to do? DIY, darlings! Plonked in a Shanghai Tang candle holder with tea light in the centre!

Herr Hubby & I are traditionalists in that we both adore having an Advent wreath at home for Christmas…an easy thing to acquire if you live in a Western or international city…not the case in Canton Town, a bit of a no man’s land when it comes to Christmas decorations. What’s a girl to do? DIY, darlings! Plonked in a Shanghai Tang candle holder with tea light in the centre! Ta-Da!

It's always good to have sweets lying around the house during the holiday season since people are always dropping by...so I created a little dining room vignette, with a bowl of sweets & choccies which I just top up regularly.

It’s always good to have sweets lying around the house during the holiday season since people are always dropping by…so I created a little dining room vignette, with a bowl of sweets & choccies which I just top up regularly.

Each of our bedroom (and my home office) doors had a Christmas stocking...as I discovered the miracle known as Blue Tac!

Each of our bedroom (and my home office) doors had a Christmas stocking…as I discovered the miracle known as Blue Tac!

In the hallway corner outside our bedrooms, I created a cozy Christmas vignette with a tiny tree flanked by modern angel lamps and our resident polar bear, Knut.

In the hallway corner outside our bedrooms, I created a cozy Christmas vignette with a tiny tree flanked by modern angel lamps and our resident polar bear, Knut. Tree & angels by Ikea.

For the life of me, I've never figured myself as a DIY chick or a craft-sy kind of girl, but for some reason this season, the homemade candle bug bit us. Ordered a candle-making kit from Australia, sourced festive jars in China and presto! we were on a roll with our Christmas gifts...

For the life of me, I’ve never figured myself as a DIY chick or a craft-sy kind of girl, but for some reason this season, the homemade candle bug bit us. Ordered a candle-making kit from Australia, sourced festive jars in China and presto! we were on a roll with our Christmas gifts…

...and here's the gifts waiting under the Christmas tree. We searched the local market high & low for this tree & while she may look a little scraggly (and decorated hastily), as you can see, she's potted...so we're keeping her, take care so she stays healthy all year on our balcony so her beauty will grace our home again next Christmas!

…and here’s the gifts waiting under the Christmas tree. We searched the local market high & low for this tree & while she may look a little scraggly (and decorated hastily), as you can see, she’s potted…so we’re keeping her, take care of her so she stays healthy all year round on our balcony and her beauty will grace our home again next Christmas!

How did YOU decorate your home this season, duckies??? We’d love to know! Do email me at bamboostiletto@gmail.com, I’d love to hear from you! Till then, STAY GOLD!

Canton Fair 101: The Olympics of Bargain Shopping

The Canton Fair, the world’s biggest trade fair, which happens in Guangzhou every year for 3 weeks from mid-October until early November, finally ends today. For the past 3 weeks, we’ve tried to avoid going out as much as possible since everything, restaurants, bars, the train stations/airports, shopping malls, hotels, and indeed, traffic in the city, has been frenzied. It was ri-DON-culous trying to get a cab to go anywhere!

It was The Bamboo Stiletto’s first Canton Fair, so we were determined to experience it all for the first time and document accordingly. The Canton Fair is the mother of all bargain shopping experiences so for the benefit of those die-hard shoppingeras/shoppingeros out there, I’m sharing my experience here, in the spirit of, let’s call it, “best practices.”

How exactly do you navigate the¬†Canton Fair? You are not an import-export wholesaler, trader or buyer. But you live in Guangzhou and rumor has it among your expat friends that shopping bargains can be had when the world’s biggest trade fair is happening at your doorstep.

The good news? The rumors are true. The bad news? The Canton Fair happens in three phases roughly spanning three weeks and individual shopping bargains can only happen on the last day of each of those phases, when traders are getting ready to pack up their goods and may be looking to offload their inventory of samples to save on shipping costs.

So, one of the first things you need to do is identify which products are being traded on which phase. For instance, home decor/furniture, gifts & toys may be traded during Phase 2 and fashion/clothing & shoes/bags may take place during Phase 3. Ask around, read the newspaper or check on websites like City Weekend Guangzhou (plug, plug:-). You absolutely have got to get the dates right for the items you like.

Once you’ve got that down, just like any elite athlete, you then have to¬†prep big-time because the¬†Canton Fair¬†is like the Olympics of bargain shopping!

The next thing you need to do is¬†obtain a Canton Fair overseas buyer’s pass. Never mind that you are a Guangzhou resident and that the only things you’ve bought lately were milk and eggs from the Corner’s Deli. Prepare to bring your passport, an ID photo, a business card and RMB 100 (about USD 16). You can apply for your pass at any of the overseas buyers’ registration counters at most five-star hotels in town.

Can’t find any of these counters? Head over to the Canton Fair venue itself, at the Pazhou Exhibition Center, and follow the clearly marked signs indicating the spacious and airy hall for “Overseas Buyers Registration.” Friendly, smiling trade fair staff, all speaking perfect English, will be on hand to efficiently assist you with forms and payment, provide you with a Canton Fair guide map and within minutes…voila!¬†You are now an overseas buyer. The cool thing is, the pass is good for a lifetime, so if you want to return for more bargain shopping expeditions in future Canton Fairs, better keep your pass safe.

Officially registered to spend some shopping money!

Now that you have your pass and can sling it around your neck – like all the real buyers do at the Fair – you then plan your transportation strategy. Going there is a no-brainer. You can take the Guangzhou metro, cab it or see if you can swing a ride on any of the free¬†Canton Fair¬†shuttle buses proliferating at any of the major five-star hotels in the city. No, going there is not a problem at all…it is your¬†exit transportation strategy¬†that you should be carefully planning. If you don’t have your own, preferably very spacious, vehicle, then our recommendation is that you splurge a little bit and hire a mini-van with a driver. ¬†Make sure you’ve got the driver’s mobile handy and remind him to stay alert, for when he needs to pick you up (with your vanload of purchases) at any of the exits afterwards.

Lastly, before you actually enter the hallowed halls of the Pazhou Exhibition Center, do a mental checklist of your clothing and equipment. You must have your¬†Canton Fair¬†buyer’s pass and guide map in hand. Wear the most comfortable walking shoes you own. Don’t tote one of your heavy designer handbags; this is not the day for showing off your latest “It bag” purchase to your girlfriends. Carry cash – lots of it, if you can. Don’t forget your mobile – essential for communicating with lost friends and the aforementioned exit strategy driver. And¬†bring a large suitcase or large shopping trolley – with wheels.¬†

Gurlfriendz, at the Canton Fair, we’re gonna need bigger trolleys than these!

You are now ready to go shopping!

Once inside the Fair, give yourself a couple of minutes to get your bearings and simply gawk. The sheer vastness of the trade halls, the mass and diversity of people from all over the world are overwhelming to the senses. Yet everything is well-organized, with clearly marked signs for directions. Cafes and restaurants offer refreshments and meals, courier companies vie for packing and shipping services and bathrooms everywhere are well-stocked and clean. To get from one trade hall to another, there are covered walkways, with carpeted “sidewalks” for those on foot and “lanes” for those riding in comfort on little electric trams that shuttle back and forth in between trade halls. Try not to get run over by an over-eager shuttle and stay safely on the “sidewalk” instead.

Study the map, figure out which trade hall you want to hit, then attack.

In the beginning, you will probably browse slowly among the stalls because you will be so overwhelmed. The quality of most products at the Canton Fair is simply superb, truly export-worthy and world-class and the sheer number of gorgeous items all in one vast place is visually staggering.

Some traders cannot be bothered to sell to individual shoppers and some of these traders already have makeshift signs posted outside their stalls, saying: “No sale.” This means that unless you’re willing to buy in volume quantities, don’t even bother them. Some traders who are willing to sell, have signs saying so, “Sale” or “Stock sale”. However, not everyone willing to sell posts signs, so, if you do see anything you fancy really badly, it is still best to ask. Simply walk into the shop, quickly point at the stuff you want and say outright:“Mai, bu mai?”¬† (buy, cannot buy?)¬†After a while, you will be amazed at how swiftly you can do this at so many shops and how much ground you’re able to cover in minutes.

Keep a watchful eye open for stalls whose staff are already busy clearing the stall and packing their items into wooden crates as they will usually be more amenable to giving items away at hefty discounts, or if you’re especially lucky, for free. This usually happens in early afternoon, right after lunchtime.

By early afternoon, after two or three hours at the Fair, you might find that even your large suitcase or shopping trolley will not be adequate for your purchases and you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to transport everything outside the trade hall to the exit gate.¬†Make sure first, at the last stall where you’ve made big-ticket purchases (like, a piece of furniture) that you are issued a gate pass so that you can exit the trade hall with all of your purchases without being questioned by security.

Just as the Fair slowly winds down, you will notice an army of ayis (literally, aunties, in China, to mean, older ladies or maids) pulling flat wooden trolleys with rope, wandering the halls. Hail one of these ayis and negotiate in your best Chinese for her and her friend to load up their trolley with your items and take you to the nearest exit gate, in exchange for a small fee.

Once at the gate, it’s a simple matter of calling your driver to pick you up and load up all your new goodies in the car.

Exhausted but triumphant, The Bamboo Stiletto & fellow Stiletto-istas looking like a bunch of bedraggled garbage ladies, surrounded by our purchases as we wait for our driver at the Fair’s exit gate.

And, duckies, you must be wondering what on earth got our stilettos into a twist at the Fair…here’s a peek at what we picked up (after 2 hours of shopping – we were too dizzy to continue any further):

Blue Tray (free)

Scored the darling blue tray for free from a hastily departing trader…now it’s part of a charming vignette in the guestroom.

Red tray (free)

From the same trader, also scored this beautiful red tray for free…now it makes a striking bar tray in a corner of the dining room.

Red Eames Chair (RMB 120, approx. USD 20)

This lovely red Eames chair, now sitting in a corner of the living room, was selling for only RMB 120 (roughly USD 20), can you believe it???? Trader, who specialized in modern mid-century furniture (my absolute LOVEZ!), was in a hurry to get out of town & just wanted to get dump his samples. Was dying to get my hands on an Eames rocking chair but wasn’t “chop chop” (hurry, hurry) enough…someone snatched it up from right under my ¬†nose!

Metallic Chinoiserie Stool
Inspiration Scenario: Lobby, W Hotel Singapore

Since I spotted these metallic chinoiserie stools in design magazines, browsed vintage versions on Etsy.com & spotted them IRL (in real life) at the W hotel, Singapore (lobby pictured here), I’ve been harbouring an all-consuming lust.

Metallic Chinoiserie Stool (RMB 400, approx. USD 66) & Lime-Green Tray (free)
Actual Scenario: Casa Stiletto 

I was beside myself with excitement at the Fair when I spotted the silver chinoiserie stool (foreground) & the trader agreed to sell it to me for RMB 400 (about USD 66). He had a gold one too, but I knew the silver would be perfect in our living room at Casa Stiletto, as a side table ideally serving as a perch for coffee or a drink, the occasional book or magazine, next to our Eames lounger & ottoman. Oh, and btw, that lime-green tray you see on the purple ottoman? That’s a freebie too ūüôā

Congratulations to moi…we’ve successfully navigated our first¬†Canton Fair!!!¬†¬† Now, life in Guangzhou can, hopefully, get back to normal.

Monday Funday: Christian Louboutin’s Biggest Fan, More Imeldific Than Imelda Marcos…WHO Is She?

And our happy Monday Fundays return, Stiletto-istas – welcome back!
A quick recap of our last edition: if you recall, we had asked you to guess which young, successful country/pop music sweetheart romancing a Kennedy scion this summer had just bought a divine beach house next to his family compound in Hyannisport, Cape Cod, Massachusetts? Several of you guessed it correctly…yup, it’s Taylor Swift! (to read that previous Monday Funday edition, click here)

Aaaaaw! Isn’t young love just sweet & these 2 munchkins simply adorbs? Summer lovin’ on Cape Cod…Taylor Swift puckers up for a kiss with boyfriend Conor Kennedy, son of RFK Jr., and grandson of RFK and JFK.

Moving on to today’s Monday Funday…let’s begin with a little Bamboo Stiletto “origins story”, as they say in film industry lingo.

It was the summer of 1999. I had just moved from Hong Kong to New York City where that fall, I was due to attend graduate classes in business at Fordham University’s Manhattan campus in Lincoln Centre.

I was waiting for the number 1 train heading downtown at¬†the subway station nearest my Upper West Side apartment. Next to me, also waiting for the train, was¬†a lone, slim, well-dressed woman, blonde hair scooped neatly into a ponytail. For the life of me, I can’t remember now what she was wearing but what vividly transfixed me were her shoes. They were, by far, the most beautiful shoes I had ever seen in my life. In a gorgeous teal colour, ideal for summer. Showcasing her perfectly pedicured toes most adorably.

At this stage in my life, my love affair with shoes had already begun in earnest. Remember, I had lived in Hong Kong in the 1990s. Manolo Blahnik already had a popular shop in Hong Kong (back then, hordes of Japanese tourists could be seen queueing outside the shop; these days, the queueing hordes are all from mainland China). Blahnik and Jimmy Choo were already available at Lane Crawford. But this woman’s shoes…I did not recognize.

For a few seconds, I argued with myself. Should I act like a tourist in New York and simply ask a complete stranger, who did her shoes? Or, should I simply suffer in silent admiration? In the end, I couldn’t stand it…inquiring minds had to know! Before the train came roaring in, I mustered my thick-skinned courage, smiled at the unknown lady, paid my compliments regarding her shoes and asked, whose and what were they?

She smiled at the compliment, did not seem surprised (and, in fact, seemed to take it for granted that her beautiful shoes were certainly worthy of a stranger’s admiration) and then, she said: ” They’re by Christian Louboutin.”

It  was the first time I had ever heard of Christian Louboutin. It was also, indeed, a case of lust at first sight.

Alas, it was a case of wanting what I couldn’t have. At least not while I was in grad school and didn’t have a bean in the world. It wasn’t until years later, while in the Beijing rat race, during a Lane Crawford warehouse sale, that I was able to buy my first ever pair of Louboutins.

Since then, I’ve only managed to buy two more pairs – and only when massively discounted by Lane Crawford at its Hong Kong and Beijing stores. ¬†Never bought them at full price; I mean, I AM a self-confessed shoe whore, but just CANNOT justify that kind of money.¬†Here’s a look at The Bamboo Stiletto’s Louboutin stilettos – to date:

My Louboutin stilettos…one of these babies is already 8 years old, my first ever pair! Guess which one? Haha! Easy-peasy. Scuffed from use, you can hardly see the logo anymore.

Of course, by now, Louboutins have become so famous that Jennifer Lopez has sung about them; ¬†they’re mentioned by rappers alongside other bling accoutrements as Cristal champagne and G6 private jets. Even “Sex & the City” character, Carrie Bradshaw, and her well-known Manolo Blahnik fetish, ended up choosing Louboutins for her wedding to Mr. Big. Over the years, my infatuation with Louboutin began to lose its lustre.

I was, however, reminded of my past love affair when the Wall Street Journal magazine recently ran a feature on the designer himself and his amazing shoe archive, housed in one of his homes. Mr. Louboutin has five residences: in the United States (Los Angeles, California), in Egypt and Portugal, an apartment in Paris and a lovely 13th-century chateau in the French countryside region of Vendee. It is here, in a restored oak barn, that Mr. Louboutin keeps an archive of more than 8,000 pairs of shoes, culled from his 20 years in the industry. He has room for 14,000 and is presently looking to hire a curator to manage the archive.

Uh, DING DONG! Monsieur Louboutin, where do I sign up to apply??? Who do we have to kill to get that job? Hahahaaa! Stiletto-istas, here’s a glimpse of Mr. Louboutin’s French country home (all images courtesy of the Wall Street Journal magazine’s September issue):

The 13th century Chateau de Champgillon in the Vendee region

The chateau’s oak barn, which was restored to house the shoe archive

Stiletto-istas, this is it! Our Holy Grail…our place of worship. Christian Louboutin’s shoe archive.

Can you imagine working as the curator for his archive and getting paid in shoes – like this little sexy thang?

The designer himself, Monsieur Louboutin, at home. Doing some shoe organizing. Celebrities…they’re just like us!

Anyhooz – we were fascinated to learn that Mr. Louboutin’s shoes have fans whose obsessions are of such magnitude that they can start their own Louboutin archive. Imelda Marcos supposedly had 3,ooo pairs of shoes?…phooey shoemey, girlfriend has NOTHING on these Louboutin shoe-crazed women!

One fan, in particular, is so fanatical that she currently owns more than 6,000 pairs of Louboutins. She is known to walk into a Louboutin shop in Paris or New York and buy between 60 to 80 pairs…right on the spot! Can you imagine the fabulousity??? Good thing this glamorous Louboutin fan is loaded in her own right and can afford her indulgences; known as “The Queen of Romance” for being one of the world’s bestselling romance novelists, she rakes in millions each year on royalties alone.

Who can be more Imeldific than Imelda Marcos? WHO is she? C’mon and ‘fess up, Stiletto-istas, you may have even read one of her books. It’s Monday Funday y’all, give me your Best Guess ¬†in the Comments below and have a beautiful week ahead!

The Happiness Project: Happier at Home

Thank God It’s Friday, Stiletto-istas!
You may have heard of American bestselling author Gretchen Rubin and her book “The Happiness Project“…well now, I got all sorts of excited when I read in the Huffington Post that she has just come out with a new book, “Happier at Home”.

Ah, a subject close to my Bamboo Stiletto heart! And I’m sure to yours too! I mean, I’m sure we’ve all spent a lot of time and effort to try and make our homes as lovely, as welcoming and yes, as happy as possible. So when our loved ones come home at the end of a long, tiring day, their troubles and worries just melt away when they walk in the door.

I immediately skedaddled over to my favourite bookstore in Hong Kong (yes, I cross borders for books, people!) to get my happy pawpaws on this little gem.

The Bamboo Stiletto hearts this book! You will too!!!

What really had me at hello was Ms. Rubin’s darling little one-minute video trailer tease about the book on her website. Click on this link and view the vid – 10 Ways to be Happier at Home – here. And I dare you to tell me that you’re not tickled pink (or purple) by her suggestions? Which ones were your favourites?

As for moi, our faves were:

  • Don’t let anyone get too hungry.
    (Don’t you think this is so true? Hungry people are miserable people! I think maybe this is why fashion industry people have reputations for being such b—-s. These poor ducks are starving, of course! They would so cheer up if they would allow themselves to have a muffin once in a while, don’t you think? This is why Herr Hubby and I always have an ice cream bar in the fridge. Just in case.)
  • Everything looks better arranged on a tray.
    (OMG! Again, so true! I only discovered this when I really got super-duper involved in my amateur efforts at styling our flat here in Guangzhou. I am now obsessed with trays in the way that I used to obsess about Roger Vivier. Seriously).
  • Outer order contributes to inner calm.
    (This appeals to the obsessive-compulsive in me. I’m the type of person, for instance, who cannot, just cannot have dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Even after a dinner party that ended at 2am. Them dishes had to be washed. Yes, this actually happened in Shanghai, where we didn’t have a dishwasher. And no, I did NOT have live-in help, unlike some of you lucky ducks here in Asia. I washed all the dishes, pots and pans AND cleaned the kitchen till everything was spotless and smelled like Lysol (by nearly 3am). And you know what? It was therapeutic ūüôā

Lastly, one of my absolutest faves and I’m admittedly biased because I applied this myself at Casa Stiletto BEFORE I’d even heard of “Happier at Home” ¬†– and Gretchen Rubin herself admits that this one is controversial – TA-DA!

Purple pops in our living room at Casa Stiletto ūüôā

Have a FABULOUSO weekend, Stiletto-istas!!! Be HAPPY AT HOME ūüôā

Eye Candy Friday: Bamboo Stiletto Escape, Chile

Summer’s last hurrah is here, Stiletto-istas!
This week’s missive from The Bamboo Stiletto’s aspirational style bible, Architectural Digest, caught our wandering eye and we knew we just had to share it with you.¬†Before the August heat completely dissipates, let our Eye Candy Friday tempt you on a final summer fling and flirt with our personal favourite from AD‘s selection of dream-worthy eco-luxury escapes successfully combining stylish design with impactful sustainability.

Who says green and glamour can’t go together? So what say you, girls & gays, are you ready??? (all images below courtesy of Tierra Patagonia, Chile):

Back in the ’90s, when we realized that Patagonia was more than just an outdoor apparel company that we were extremely fond of, we dreamed of visiting the region & its pristine mountains, lakes, glaciers, forests & rivers (while wearing colour-coordinated, climate-appropriate Patagonia outfits, of course:) We did make it to Chile’s capital of Santiago, we did see some pampas (love that word! brings us right back to Latin America) & moseyed all the way down south to Valparaiso, paying homage to its most famous son, poet Pablo Neruda. Fond, fun memories of Chile but we never made it to Patagonia. Not yet anyway. Who knows, instead of that random person out there chewing the scenery…maybe someday, that could be moi? Dreamy gentleman companion optional:)

The intimate 40-room Tierra Patagonia was designed by a trio of awardwinning Chilean architects: Caz√ļ Zegers, Roberto Benavente, and Rodrigo Ferrer. Its look is deliberately rustic-sleek & low-key, awash in neutral hues with pale woods & lush, comfy textures – the better to set off the jaw-dropping outdoor scenery. This cozy-chic living area is where we can totally imagine lounging around after switching outfits, from our Patagonia outdoor kit to Ralph Lauren cable knits & cords!

Sitting on the shores of Lake Sarmiento at the edge of Torres Paine National Park & the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, surrounded by dramatic vistas of windswept dunes, lake & mountains, Tierra Patagonia is an eco-luxury traveler’s wet dream. Interiors, with furnishings sourced locally, are designed by Alexandra Edwards & Carolina Delpiano to take advantage of the amazing views. So, grab a swing, stay calm and…chill. (High heels & glass of Chilean shiraz optional)

Of course one of our fave images is of the library! This resort has even provided chic little daybeds just in case all the fresh air (and your book) lull you to sleep. No worries that reading lots of books during your holiday might spoil your eco-travel cred, Tierra Patagonia uses low-energy LED lighting. Also, proper insulation and design has made heating and airconditioning less of a necessity. So, INHALE that fresh air, people! (and don’t forget to exhale).

Now if you really can’t keep your eyes open, after all that lounging, relaxing, chilling with wine, reading books…hehe, just kidding, we know you’d be out there on the dunes, baby! trekking, hiking, kayaking, mountain climbing & all kinds of exhausting outdoor stuff in all that pure fresh air…so at night? You’ll be happy to know this is what your crib looks like. I don’t know about you but I’d probably zonk out right on that furry white rug on the floor right there.

So, are we ready to pack our bags, viajemos y hablamos Espanol, Stiletto-istas queridas??? If you are, make your ressies now by checking out www.tierrapatagonia.com and be sure to share your Tierra Patagonia stories with us afterwards. If you’d like to browse through the entire selection of Architectural Digest’s glamorous sustainable stays, read the original article here.

We’ve got some ¬†major saving up to do before we can jet off to the other side of the world…but ¬†meantime, a girl can dream, can’t she? We’re already saving up for a trip to the World Cup (soccer) in Brazil by 2014 anyway and guess what’s only a skip, hop, plane ride away from Rio de Janeiro...andale, viva Patagoniaaaaaa!!!

Happy Eye Candy Friday dreams & a fantastic weekend ahead to y’all & your loved ones! ūüôā

Monday Funday: Could This Country/Pop Star be a Future Mrs. Kennedy?

Happy Monday Funday!
In our last Monday Funday post, we were treated to views of actress Reese Witherspoon’s lovely holiday ranch in Ojai, California. We also then asked you to name the ¬†brokenhearted “Twilight” star who had been hiding out there while nursing his emotional wounds after his girlfriend/co-star was papped en flagrante with her married director.

Did any of our dear Stiletto-istas guess who we were talking about? I’m sure you did! The news coverage of that supposed scandal was so overwhelmingly RIDONCULOUS you could be forgiven for thinking that NOTHING, NADA, ZIPPO was going on in the world. No London Olympics, no war in Syria, no Mars landing, etc. Of course we were talking about...(drum roll)…ta-da! British actor and extremely crunchy man-child eye candy Robert Pattinson.

Did onscreen vampires ever have awesome hair, before Robert Pattinson came along? I don’t know if any of you young ducks out there are old enough to remember the film adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel, “Interview with a Vampire”, with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt , Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas all playing vampires…but from what I recall, with the exception of Ms. Dunst (who really looked like a vampire doll), everyone else who played a vampire in that movie all had atrocious hair! (Mr. Pattinson’s image courtesy of Vanity Fair)

Anyhoo, moving on to today’s Monday Funday! ¬†We have a soft spot for this next story because, let’s admit it, The Bamboo Stiletto has had a lifelong girl-crush on the Kennedy family. ¬†I mean, growing up, didn’t we all harbour a burning secret desire to marry John F. Kennedy, Jr.? Didn’t we all fantasize about calling the fabulous Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis our mother-in-law and dream of raiding her closet? Imagine having JFK as a father-in-law: AMAZEBALLS. And weren’t we all just simply devastated…and I truly mean, devastated (I still remember exactly where I was when I first heard the news)… when JFK Jr.’s plane crashed off Martha’s Vineyard, killing him, his wife and her sister? (Don’t know about you girls & gays but I was in mourning for weeks).

I remember one summer at grad school in New York City when I was bamboozled by my Manhattanite friends into going on a Cape Cod road trip. We took a boat out on the water in Hyannisport and while everyone onboard was excitedly trying to spot whales, I was busy with my binoculars trained ashore, trying to spot a Kennedy!

So recently, we couldn’t help the tug on our girlhood heart strings when we heard about the budding romance between this 22 year old country/pop singing superstar and Conor Kennedy, the 18 year old hunk-in-the-making son of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a grandson of both RFK and JFK and whose mother, most tragically, had committed suicide this past May.

Since she presumably wants to spend time with her teenage boyfriend whose family famously summers at their celebrated beach compound in Hyannisport, Cape Cod, what does our young multi-awardwinning singer/songwriter do? Well, plunk down nearly US 5 million dollars to buy the beach house next door, of course! ¬†I have to say…it makes you wonder, what is THAT like? To be that young and yet already be so accomplished, rich and famous, date a Kennedy scion and buy the beach house next door to their compound with your own money. To put it simply? AMAZEBALLS.

Let’s take a look at what 5 million smackeroos buys at the Cape, shall we? (all images courtesy of Hooked on Houses):

The beach house sits on over an acre of land and is within walking distance to the Kennedy family’s Hyannisport beach compound (right next door).

The house overlooks beautiful Nantucket Sound and is accessible via a private road with its own security during the summer season.

The house was built in 1928 and has 7 bedrooms and 5.5 baths. Comfort seems to be the guiding rule when it comes to its decor and furnishings. Love this cozy  library with amazing sea views.

A very blue dining room, to match that view!

Shabby chic bedroom. And simply divine bathroom below.

Spectacular sea views everywhere, huh? The house has a total floor area of a little over 400 square metres.

Adore this tiny sitting room with the spiral staircase!

Apparently, the house had been on the market for 4 years and had been originally priced at US 14 million dollars (!!!). Turns out our young country/pop star has got the real estate savvies, after snagging the property for only US 4.9 million. What a bargain!

Can you guess who this country/pop singing sweetheart could be? Oh yes, Stiletto-istas, I know you can! It’s Monday Funday so come on and play…let me know in the Comments below ūüôā


Eye Candy Friday: Batangas Beauty

Happy Eye Candy Friday, Stiletto-istas!

This week, we had to take a short trip back to the Philippines for the renewal of our Chinese visa. The necessity for this trip initially confounded me. We have been living in China for 9 years and the ONLY time that I had to apply for a Chinese visa from the Philippines was 9 years ago. ¬†Each time my visa was up for renewal while living in Beijing, all I had to do was hand in my passport to my company’s HR department. And in the blink of an eye, my passport would be handed back with a new visa stamped within its pages. Incredibly super easy-peasy! Then, later on, while living in Shanghai, I experienced a slight, subtle shift in the process. In order to actually claim my passport with its new visa stamp, each year I had to accompany an HR staffer to the immigration office where all I did each time was basically show my face – probably to show that I still existed? ¬†This time in Guangzhou, to renew our visas, we were informed that we actually had to exit China and return to our home countries, Herr Hubby back to Germany and little ol’ moi back to the Philippines. So, mini-vacay, yay!

Anyhoo, being back in the Phils brings us to our Eye Candy Friday focus, a charming, rustic holiday home¬†which I like to call a true Batangas Beauty in the hills of Lipa, a couple hours’ drive south of the Philippine capital of Manila.

This 2-storey, 3-bedroom hillside hideaway was built by the dad of The Bamboo Stiletto’s Shanghai BFF…let’s call her Moccachino…whose dad wanted a quiet, relaxing, pollution-free place in the countryside, away from Manila’s hustle and bustle, where the family could gather on long weekends, holidays and festive occasions. Extensive gardens at the front and back of the house have been planted with a myriad of verdant tropical fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. Whenever they’re back in the Philippines, Moccachino and her hubby, the Great Dane, always look forward to rambunctious family gatherings, nourishing meals frequently accompanied by veggies and fruits freshly picked from the gardens, at this lovely house in the hills. What’s disingenuous and what we SO love about this house is that Moccachino’s dad used a lot of reclaimed wood, windows, furnishings and other materials from another family home which was being torn down. The result is a lovely patchwork of nostalgic memories embedded into a house built to sustain more joyous family moments. Here’s a peek:

Because of its elevated location on a hill surrounded by mountain vistas, the house is blessed with fresh air cool enough that airconditioning in the Philippines’ tropical clime is no longer a necessity. The house’s semi-outdoor first floor serves as a refreshing venue for dining and entertaining.

Lovingly landscaped gardens planted with a host of blossoming flowers and fruit and vegetable-bearing foliage yield enough veggies and fruits for homemade salads and desserts!

Lots of furnishings and materials in the house are vintage, lovingly sourced from Moccachino’s great-grandparents’ old ancestral house.

The house was designed with lots of little nooks for socializing or merely sitting solo with a drink while enjoying the solitude of the surrounding countryside.

There you have it, Stiletto-istas…wouldn’t you just LOVE to have a little hillside hideaway like this to escape to on weekends? We know WE would!

Moccachino certainly knows what a lucky duck she is, especially now that she’s uber-busy juggling identities, that of a corporate suit AND an entrepreneur (besides being a wife and mom, I might add). Always the accessories queen, our entrepreneurial BFF recently launched an online business specializing in the most divine, stylish necklaces, bracelets, rings as well as must-have trendy clutches & other go-to fashion accessories to please the most demanding divas out there. And take it from moi, this chick’s style is super-fly…her stuff is constantly selling out! ¬†Stylistas – check out her sites Olivia’s Charms and Moppet Enterprises (including how to order!) by clicking here. STAT.

We just get so inspired when our gal pals start launching their own businessess, don’t you??? Run the world, GIRLS, yeah, run this mother!¬†Until our next Eye Candy Friday, Stiletto-istas, have a terrif weekend!!!

An Instagram Morning at Casa Stiletto

When Instagram first became the latest social networking plaything, I remember registering for an account right away and then…nothing. For the longest time, my Instagram account languished, unused, while I stuck to my usual social networking tools.

This morning at Casa Stiletto, since I had no appointments to go to or assignments to work on for once, I thought it was the perfect time to play with Instagram! I was SO relieved to find how easy & user-friendly ¬†this app is, even for a newbie like me. Here’s a look at some of the fun this morning at Casa Stiletto, as captured on Instagram:

The view from my home office window. Yes, Stiletto-istas, this is what I feast my eyes on while contemplating my thoughts for you & putting ’em down into words on my laptop. Sometimes if I’m lucky, there’s an occasional piece of eye candy of the male persuasion lounging around, for additional visual inspiration ūüôā

A “cornerscape” in our foyer where we dump keys, the occasional pair of sunglasses & my beloved trusty tennis racquet. Little red table with door (used for storing slippers) is vintage, which I found dumped in the bin of my old apartment building in Manhattan; I rescued it & lugged it 5 flights of stairs to my walk-up. Silk lamp is from Saigon, Vietnam (where Herr Hubby used to live), the wooden warrior puppet with sword is from a market in Chiangmai, Thailand. His name is Krishna (we name all puppets, teddy bears & ceramic animals in Casa Stiletto) & he guards our foyer. Sandalwood chair with Chinese silk fabric & embroidered “good fortune” cushion from landlord.

I tried my hand at “tablescaping” in the dining room by putting together these random pieces from our former homes in China & the US: “his & hers” stainless steel espresso cups with porcelain saucers from American designer Ross McBride’s Anamorphic series, silk-screened floral Chinese tea pot, cup & saucer in one (all elements are separable) a gift from our life in Beijing, China, pair of inscribed ceramic-bottomed wine glasses from a divine shop in my old Upper West Side neighborhood in Manhattan: Our Name is Mud. The wine glasses remind us that:” Life’s too short for bad wine.” Round wooden tray from Ikea.

These inspirational words from our collection of fridge magnets are what greet us first thing in the morning when we grab our milk out of the fridge. Kinda like a real-life version of a Pinterest board! Aren’t they hella cute???

In the guestroom, a little Mexican hand-painted wooden chest which I picked up in a Manhattan flea market provides extra room for storage while some of our collection of culinary & beverage books make a nice prop for a hand-sketched fun cartoon of Herr Hubby & myself by a South Korean artist during a memorable “mini-moon” in Jeju Island.

Soft early morning light filters through the sheer white curtains framing a view of palm trees from the guestroom. Wooden sailboat, tiny lighthouse & cottage (partially seen) are mementos of a trip to the coastal town of Svenborg, Denmark while white cotton curtains, hand-embroidered with tiny flowers (can’t be seen clearly in photo) are from France, provided by our landlord.

Isn’t Instagram FUN, Stiletto-istas??? This is totally our latest addiction, haha! What about you, have you been Instagramming too?

If you’d like to share some fun Instagram-scapes of your interiors and home decorating efforts, I would LOVE to see them…and I’m sure your fellow Stiletto-istas will too! ¬†I will make sure to ask your permission first before posting them online and give photo credits where it’s due. And don’t sweat it, if you would like to remain anonymous but would still love to share your Instagram-scapes, ¬†you can do that too! We absolutely respect our readers’ privacy here at The Bamboo Stiletto. PLEASE, PLEASE, pretty, pretty please email The Bamboo Stiletto with your pics and privacy preferences at bamboostiletto@gmail.com.

My email inbox is quivering with anticipation! ūüôā

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