Chiang Mai, oh Mai

As some of you may know, a couple of years ago (but which honestly feels like an age ago) I spent almost half a year living in Bangkok. As much as I enjoyed my time there, I guess it had always left such an indelible mark on my mind that whenever anyone mentioned Thailand, I immediately had visions of a frenzied, teeming metropolis. 

Of course I knew that I was doing the country a huge discourtesy by painting the entirety of it with the same bustling brush, and as time went on I had an increasing yearning to discover the other side of the Thailand; the stunning countryside and the tranquil waters.

So it was with long and overdue excitement that I finally found myself heading to Chiang Mai, about 700km north of Bangkok, but as I would soon find out, it was in many other ways a million miles away. In fact where Drea had organised for us to stay was another 2 hours out from the centre of the city, quite literally on the other side of a large lake, and so getting there turned out to be half the fun.

In Singapore, I'm the kind of guy who does my seatbelt up the minute I sit down in a taxi - I think it must be the English in me, because even my local friends laugh at me for being so safety conscious. Anyway, such safety was but a distant memory as we alternated between open top top tuk tuks, leaky boats, and in one "life flashing before my eyes" moment, a rather precariously placed plank on the back of a truck. And it was all fantastic. There's something so liberating about being engulfed by the wind as you hurtle down bumpy and uneven dirt paths with one hand clinging onto any part of the vehicle for dear life, and the other making sure our luggage didn't fly onto the road behind us.

Anyway, enough of that. Here are some photos from the trip!

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Dressed Up, Dressed Down

I’ve been working a lot in the studio recently and then heading straight to meetings or events, so it’s important to be able to have on outfit that can easily transition from one setting to the next without needing to haul a whole array of clothes along with me. 

My tip for anyone else in a similar situation has to be an Oxford shirt. Buttoned up with a pair of smart black pants or chinos and you’ve got a formal enough outfit to wear to work or meetings. Come the end of the day, roll up the sleeves, roll up the pants, roll out of the office and into evening events with an outfit that’s casual enough to not look too dressy but still formal enough to be taken seriously (and to look like you’re taking the event seriously).

Of course accessories are also key so I would recommend a pair of brown brogues that would work well either dressed up or dressed down, and a small holdall or messenger bag that would suit after-work situations a lot better than the old fashioned briefcase. 

Lastly, watches are a great accent to dress up any more casual looking outfit, and to show that you still mean business even if your sleeves are rolled up and you’ve got three buttons undone (I get hot ok!) 

In the above looks, I’ve strapped on the leather-strapped ‘Beta’ for a more classic and elegant style to go with a white shirt, and then the chunkier and more edgy ‘Renato’ for a nice contrast against the blue shirt.

Suit and Tie

As regular readers/instagram followers may know, I'm usually more akin to wearing t-shirts and laid back casual shirts, in many ways due to the Singapore climate really not permitting much else.

However during this past week I've found myself having to suit up quite regularly for work and so I thought I would just share a few details about what I've been wearing in case anybody's interested!

I know everyone says that a navy suit should be a man's wardrobe staple and, well, I couldn't agree more. I find black suits to be way too demure to wear on an everyday basis and navy has the innate ability to carry you through from daytime into evening and making sure you never look out of place/overdressed for the occasion.

Full navy, well indeed full anything, can have the ability to get too boring and one dimensional though, so that's why I always opt for a pair of brown shoes as a means of breaking up the outfit. Whilst some men will go for the shiny brogue or something similar, I prefer to adopt more of a laid back attitude so prefer a leather with more of a matte finish. I find this works particularly well if you choose to go tie-less as it lends well to the whole dressed up/dressed down look. Just above those shoes, always try and show a little sock as well as it just adds an additional level of detail and can also provide an interesting talking point if one is ever necessary. I'm not advocating the whole "pants so short they look like they don't fit" look, but if they can rise just a couple of centimetres off your ankles when you sit down that's pretty perfect in my opinion.

Shoes: Clarks

Shoes: Clarks

Pocket squares also help to break up a full suit as well as adding some extra interest, and I'll tend to go for something light in colour but also with a slight pattern given that the rest of the suit is rather plain. In light (or dark if you choose) of this, I will also usually go for some pattern in my tie and in the case down below, some simple stripes can add something different to the look whilst still maintaining a professional "I mean business" image. 

Pocket Square: Vanda Fine Clothing

Pocket Square: Vanda Fine Clothing

Tie: Vanda Fine Clothing

Tie: Vanda Fine Clothing

Finally I'm normally a double cuff man as it enables me to wear cufflinks for that one final embellishment. In short, don't be afraid to accessorise and add as many extra details (in moderation) to your suit as possible guys; the devil's in the detail and they'll make your outfit look devilishly good.

Shek-O Baby!

Sunglasses: Carrera Shirt: Jack Wills Shorts: Vilebrequin Shoes: UGG

Sunglasses: Carrera
Shirt: Jack Wills
Shorts: Vilebrequin
Shoes: UGG

Top: American Vintage Shorts: Vilebrequin Visuals by Andrea Chong (@dreachong)

Top: American Vintage
Shorts: Vilebrequin

Visuals by Andrea Chong (@dreachong)

So after talking in my last post about the confines of central Hong Kong and the constant hustle and bustle of its streets, we decided to take about a half an hour taxi ride out of the city and towards the coast for a brief respite. That being said, there was no respite from the ridiculous heat, which if anything seemed to be even more intense (nice sea breeze there most definitely was not.)

The initial idea was to check out the waterfall and cliffs at Sheung Luk Falls that we had seen so many pictures of leading up to the trip. However, given the state of Hong Kong traffic (unrelenting for the unititiated) and the fact that we wanted to catch the sunrise, it would probably have meant heading off from our hotel the night before. So in lieu of that a friend suggested that we head to Shek-O instead, a beachside village on the South Eastern part of Hong Kong island not far from the well known Big Wave Bay. And after looking up some photos of the incredible rock formations and caves they had there (as well as of course the rather pristine beach) we were more than happy to take his advice. 

It actually took a lot less time to get there than we had initially planned and so we ended up arriving just as the first rays of sunlight pierced through the clouds, lending this rather eerie feeling to an already deserted beach (this desertion was short lived mind you...) For me one of the highlights of the beach was in fact the lifeguard look out posts which rather reminded me of my teenage years watching the OC but to save any further embarrassment I won't dwell any further on this point. Just check out the photos after all this blurb and those who know will know...

What also really impressed me was the evident care and effort that was taken to preserve the beaches and keep them as pristine as possible. Even at such an early hour in the day there were a number of beach cleaners making their way up and down the sand and removing any litter in sight. In fact at that point in time I would proffer that there were actually more cleaners than beach-goers which seemed a strange sight. That is until the hoards descended. And oh boy did they descend.

It turns out that it was in fact a national holiday on the day we decided to visit, and apparently what the entire nation likes to do on such a day is to head to Shek-O. It was actually quite interesting to see just how many Hong Kongers (is that a word?) were readily keen on lying prostrate and catching some rays. Having lived in Taipei for a while, where the majority of people would seek the sanctuary of shelter or at least an umbrella at the first sight of sun - lest their white skin were to go any shade other than porcelain - it was quite a marked difference to see how keen the Shek-O visitors were on a tan. 

By this point we were already up on the rocks though, and given the other visitors' reluctance to do any climbing, we still managed to find relative sanctuary. As you can just about make it in the third image below, there were also a series of caves surrounding the inlet that we were super keen to explore, but a combination of the by now unbearable heat and the constant suspecting stares of the lifeguard on duty put paid to that idea on this occasion. No matter though, as I know I'll be back soon enough to do more exploring. Preferably in the Autumn next time.

Visuals by me (apart from the one with me in it. Obvs.)

Visuals by me (apart from the one with me in it. Obvs.)


Initial Hong Kong Impressions + Visuals

Shirt: Zara Jeans: Uniqlo Shoes: UGG

Shirt: Zara
Jeans: Uniqlo
Shoes: UGG

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Shirt: Zara Jeans: Uniqlo Shoes: Castaner All visuals by Andrea Chong (@dreachong)

Shirt: Zara
Jeans: Uniqlo
Shoes: Castaner

All visuals by Andrea Chong (@dreachong)

Well Hong Kong, I've been only here a couple of days so far, but congratulations, you've already won me over. 

I really don't know why it's taken me so long to make the trip over and explore this city. I guess I was always swayed by the people who said that Hong Kong was overly stifling and dirty, and whilst it may not be the cleanest place on earth, to me this just adds to the overall vibrancy of the place. From the constant dripping of air-conditioning units (maybe this is why so many in Hong Kong use umbrellas even when it's not raining?) to the constant traffic (both automotive and pedestrian), Hong Kong is really when of those places where things never stand still. And if you do try and stand still you'll either get hooted at by a taxi or pushed over by a surge of pedestrians. In fact, the overriding motto that Drea and I have come up with for the trip thus far is "ain't nobody got time for that" and that really does seem to be the mantra that everyone here abides by. Whilst I admit that might not be everyone's cup of tea, hailing from London I've always been a big city boy at heart and so I find the constant hustle and bustle really invigorating. 

The heat here at the moment is ridiculous and unfortunately unlike Singapore there aren't shopping malls and undercover walkways everywhere to seek some air-conditioned refuge. Thus the only way to stay out of the sun is to cafe hop, and Tai Ping Shan was the perfect place to do that (well, after you almost die climbing the staircase that is.) Oldish is a quaint little cafe that served really good coffee and if tea's more your thing then Teakha is seemingly the place to be, with swathes of people constantly looking for tables in there. Everyone seemed to demolishing their cakes and desserts but I was still so full from lunch at Mrs Pound that I could hardly stomach anything else (I guess I'll just have to come back again then :p) And on the subject of food, I'm hungry again and there's so much more yet to devour so I better get back on the streets and find some eats. Until next time!

More on #EdwardExploresSG and Hanging Out in Balestier

I had some time off recently so decided to take the opportunity to do some more #EdwardExploresSG themed wandering. Obviously most of you would know about the wealth of big name attractions that Singapore has to offer (Marina Bay Sands, Art Science Museum, Gardens by the Bay to name but a few), and whilst these are all fantastic places to visit and shouldn't be missed, there is just as much wonder to be found in the neighbourhoods and areas outside of the CBD/Orchard area.  

Furthermore, what with it being SG50 year and thus there being an increased interest and focus in local Singaporean history and stories, I thought it would only be apt for me to understand more about the local tableaux that together make up Singapore’s rich tapestry. 

For those that know me well, they’ll know that Balestier is an area that holds particularly resonance for me. Whilst it tends to be famous for both its food offerings (of which there are many) and its light shops (of which there are many more), there are plenty more illuminating (sorry) places to be found along the way. 

I actually approached Balestier from across the Pan Island Expressway (PIE for short) at Toa Payoh so got to walk across the bridge and witness this pretty spectacular view just as a flock of birds flew off into the distance.

Venice eat your heart out.

Venice eat your heart out.

Coming out onto the main road I was greeted by two stereotypically Balestier sights packaged together into one perfectly symmetrical building; budget hotels and light shops. Whilst fascinating in its symmetry (seriously if you put a long mirror right down the middle, its reflection would create exactly the same sight), I promise the road isn't all as architecturally drab as this, as you shall soon find out... 

I wonder if Light Club and Lights Store are either owned by the same unimaginative owner or if they just got together and decided upon their favourite font and branding...

I wonder if Light Club and Lights Store are either owned by the same unimaginative owner or if they just got together and decided upon their favourite font and branding...

Whilst in recent times lighting and accommodation really have become the order of the day, the beauty of Balestier is that there are still many older, more traditional shophouses still in operation.

Teck Seng Fruits Shop

Teck Seng Fruits Shop

Sweetlands Confectionary and Bakery

Sweetlands Confectionary and Bakery

Sweetlands has been around since the 1970s, and whilst there were more than 200 similar bakeries dotted across Singapore during their heyday, they're now unfortunately a dying breed. Balestier is fortunate to lay host to two of the eight traditional bakeries still remaining in the country (Sin Hon Loong being the other) and the bakers here work gruelling hours all through the night to ensure that there is fresh bread on hand for the kopitiams to churn out stacks of kaya toast the following morning.

Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory

Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory

Lam Yeo has been filling the Balestier air with the aroma of freshly ground coffee for over half a century, and in the early days the sight of rickshaws and carriages stopping by to purchase their wares would be common. Whilst these may no longer be seen, thankfully Lam Yeo has managed to retain a committed customer base that still come to stock up on some of the ten signature blends that the store offers or even just to stock up on the immense coffee knowledge that Mr Tan Boon Heong has in immeasurable surplus.

Traditional Balestier Shopfronts

Traditional Balestier Shopfronts

On the subject of tradition and history, whilst many of the shops themselves may have changed over the years, if you look up you can still see many remarkably well preserved facades that give a small glimpse into what the area might have once looked like. This row of shophouses was built in 1926 by a female developer called Madam Sim Cheng Neo and was designed by architect Kwan Yow Luen, incorporating a stunning blend of Eastern and Western elements. Thankfully these facades are protected by the National Heritage Board and were carefully restored in 2000 to ensure that they remain in all their glory for future generations to come (whatever modern gizmos the shops underneath might be selling at that time.)

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And in perhaps the starkest of all stark contrasts, just across the road is one of my favourite buildings in the area: Balestier Point. I know it's not much to look at (or in fact there's a whole lot to look at depending upon your point of view) but it's such a fantastic example of brutalist architecture that it's just impossible to ignore. Opened in 1986 by RDC Architects and inspired by Moshe Safdie's "Habitat '67", the consituent lego blocks are designed so that each apartment has its own private terrace and garden. 

JUST LOOK AT IT!

JUST LOOK AT IT!

Balestier Point has received an Honourable Mention Award from the Singapore Institute of Architects and it sits on the site of the former Ruby Theatre that stood from 1958 until the early 1980s. Even if it might not be the prettiest building in the world to most, it still stands to highlight the amazing mixture of architecture and styles that make up the rich mosaic of Balestier Road and the surrounding area.

Well that's all for now, but I really do urge all of you to come down and check out all that the neighbourhood has to offer if you get the opportunity. Neither your eyes nor your belly will leave disappointed I promise.

Until next time! #EdwardExploresSG

 

Recent Social Media Collaborations

I've recently been engaged by a number of different brands to take part in social media collaborations for new product lines that they've recently released. These usually take the form of Instagram postings, but I thought I would just share a couple of the visuals on here as well for those of you who might not have seen them before!

Here I am casually hanging out with one of the new bags from the Bonia Men's range

Here I am casually hanging out with one of the new bags from the Bonia Men's range

As I only engage in collaborations with brands and products that I actually believe in and could see myself using/wearing outside of the virtual realm, it makes it a lot easier to feature them as part of my everyday life. However I'll be the first to admit that it's not always an easy task to photograph myself with these products in the most natural way possible - you'll have to let me know if I manage to pull it off or not!

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A couple of shots of the new leather wallets from the Bonia men's range, this time featuring a particularly scrumptious pea and scallop linguini (any excuse to eat)

A couple of shots of the new leather wallets from the Bonia men's range, this time featuring a particularly scrumptious pea and scallop linguini (any excuse to eat)

Trying as hard as possible to face my new watch from H3 concepts to the camera whilst still trying to hold on to my bubble tea at the same time (I've always had a problem letting go of food/drinks :p)

Trying as hard as possible to face my new watch from H3 concepts to the camera whilst still trying to hold on to my bubble tea at the same time (I've always had a problem letting go of food/drinks :p)

I've been busy recently filming a new travel series for TV, but on the subject of travelling I aim to do some more exploring this weekend so will hopefully be able to have another #EdwardExploresSG post up very soon! (Apologies to those who've been asking when the next one's coming out, it's on it's way I promise!)

#EdwardExploresSG: Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Hello again! So my promise of more frequent blog posts clearly hasn't come to fruition as of yet, so in order to hopefully encourage me to blog more regularly, I've decided to devote some time to an area that I'm particularly passionate about: social history. 

The aim of #EdwardExploresSG is to explore the vast array of landmarks (some well known and some less known) that Singapore has to offer, and to complement my Instagram posts with a more detailed description of the locations here on this blog. Because let's be honest, nobody likes reading lengthy instagram captions right? It'll also allow me to include a greater array of visuals to help tell the story.

So without further ado, I'm kicking things off with The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, built in 1932 and now abandoned aside from on specific public holidays when it is opened to the public to come and explore. And explore is exactly what I did...

The facade certainly strikes an imposing figure and it was in fact modelled after Finland's Helsinki Central Railway Station (the weather today had absolutely nothing in common with Finland's however.) It's rather hard to tell from the above photo, as a whole bunch of palm trees decided to get in the way, but there are four giant figures attached to the front of the station, each representing Industry, Agriculture, Transport, and Industry. The M that you can see above the figure is the "Malay" in Federated Malay States Railways, obviously named long before Singapore was Singapore.

Once inside, one is struck straightaway by the murals depicting early 19th Century life in Malaysia and Sinagpore, again representing the four major tenants featured on the facade, and it's crazy to see how vivid the colours in the murals remain, despite them being almost a century old. Hopefully I can still look as youthful at that age...

In its heyday, the station and its fleet of trains acted as one of the main ways of connecting Singapore and Malaysia, and it's fascinating to see all the remnants of this former life still in such great condition. Don't you think the above photo has a certain Wes Anderson style aesthetic about it? 

Since the station's closure, the only remaining KTM rail connection between the two countries is served by Woodlands Railway Station. Given the constant traffic, both vehicular and human, at the Woodlands checkpoint, one can only imagine how busy Tanjong Pagar Station would once have been, but now it stands in silent solitude.

The station is now only open to public access on public holidays as well as for private functions, but there are plans to convert it into a Railway Museum, which I think would be a great way of preserving its history and enabling future generations to once again fill a station which would otherwise be confined to the history books.

Well that's all from me on this one, but please feel free to suggest any other interesting locations (the more obscure the better) that are well worth a visit, as well as giving me any tips on how to make future posts more interesting, just in case this one had your eyelids struggling to stay open -_-

Until next time!

Another Radio Clip!

Hey guys, sorry for not posting anything on here in a while! I've been super busy recently, but the flip side is that Ive got some really exciting projects in the works that I can't wait to share with you all!

In the meantime, here's another clip from when I popped into the ONEFM studio again this week for another edition of my regular technology series, featuring the latest innovations from sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This episode I talk about the Woolet, a smart, self-charging wallet that can communicate with you smartphone so you never lose it! Andre seemed to have a couple issues it with it though, so listen on to hear what he really thought about it. You can also find out more about the product on their Kickstarter page right here

I'm heading back into the studio again in the next few days to record another episode so feel free to get in touch if you've come across any cool new products that you'd like me to feature! Until next time (which I promise isn't as far away as the last next time)!

J Runway Influencer Campaign

I'm so excited to be part of the new campaign for J Runway alongside a number of other influencers from around Asia. As the brand has recently expanded and now delivers to a number different countries throughout the region, the team at J Runway decided to put together a campaign that reflected this by featuring personalities from every sector of their new market. They got in touch asking if I would like to help represent Singapore and alongside myself there was David Guison and Tricia Gosingtian from The Philippines, Diana Rikasari from Indonesia, Linna Li from Thailand, Candy Ice from Malaysia, and Eunice Annabel also from Singapore. With such a great bunch of people involved, well it was pretty hard to say no!

The entire team, including many flown in directly from Japan, were some of the nicest people that I've ever had the pleasure of working with, and myself and the other influencers had so much fun on set that the time just seemed to speed by! The backdrops used in every shot were so incredibly intricate, involving thousands of fresh white orchids painstakingly painted by hand, and it was seriously jaw dropping to see the amount of effort that went into creating each photo.

To see the entire campaign you can head to their new website at www.jrunway.com or visit their flagship store at Plaza Singapura to see us all enlarged to the nth degree! I feel really fortunate to have been able to work with such a great array of fantastic people and we've all managed to keep in touch since the shoot; it's good to know that wherever I travel in Asia now there'll always be someone I know to hang out with and give me an insider tour!

And as a little treat for all you readers, until the end of April you can receive 40% storewide just by using the code EDWARD40!

Recent Press Clippings

As some of you might know, in my spare time (which has unfortunately been dwindling more and more in recent times,) I write articles for a number of different publications both within Singapore and overseas. Thus over the years I guess I've become quite comfortable at writing pieces about various events, people, concerts and so on. 

When the pen is in the other hand, however (I'm using this as a variation on the shoe on the other foot analogy but it's late, and in the morning I might realise this doesn't work at all...), I must admit I still get a nervy thrill to read what other people have written about me! Whilst I spent my formative years in London, I did my two bachelors degrees and post-graduate honours degree at The University of Western Australia, and so it came as a rather welcome surprise when the main newspaper from WA got in touch about wanting to do a feature on me. I remember back when I was studying I used to escape to a cafe around the corner from university and read the paper as a means of extreme procrastination, and obviously back then I never thought that I would actually have an article written about me one day. But then again I could never have perceived in a million years (late night cliché sorry) that after having spent so many years studying with the assumption that I would ultimately end up behind a desk somewhere, I would now be hosting shows, acting, and modelling around Asia. Funny how things turn out hey. 

Anyway, here's a copy of the article if you're interested!

You might have noticed that this blog post is entitled "Recent Press Clippings" plural, and that's because I also just stumbled across a guest feature I wrote recently for M Lifestyle Magazine over in Singapore. Occasionally I get contacted by publications asking for my thoughts on certain issues/events/fashion etc. and if I do have anything to say then I'm usually more than happy to oblige. So here's a brief snippet of me responding to certain pieces from the recent Spring/Summer 15 runway shows in Europe and commenting upon which outfits I may or may not wear. 

Kate Spade New York Grand Opening at Marina Bay Sands

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the new Kate Spade New York boutique at Marina Bay Sands. I must admit I'm not the greatest Kate Spade connoisseur (I don't think I'm really their target demographic...) but it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends both old and new alongside some rather tasty food and drinks. I guess one of the problems with being in this line of work is that everyone tends to either work odd hours or be travelling for jobs, so it's great to be able to attend events like these to find out what everyone's been up to recently! The new collection was full of quirky accessories (think snail and hot air balloon handbags) which made browsing a lot more interesting than it usually is for me in female fashion stores, even if my standard model pout always seems to make out that I'm only ever mildly enthused. Please refer to the photos below for proof of this point.

Thanks to Division Communications for putting on a great night and Ashley Mak Photography for the photos!

Regular Segment on ONEFM

I'm really excited to announce that I'll now be hosting a regular segment on ONEFM's "#2 Breakfast Show"! I'll be popping by the studio every week for a section which Andre has currently called "The Sexy IT Guy", but whose name I'm desperately trying to change, to chat about new and innovative technology products that could soon take the world by storm.

In this first segment I discuss the kSafe, a smart lockable safe that only opens when your goals have been achieved, and can be synced with health or location apps on your smartphone. Take a listen below to hear more about it, and for more information you can check out kSafe's Kickstarter page right here

Keep listening for many more fun and exciting products to come, and if you know of any cool new products that you'd like us to discuss on air then please feel free to drop me a line! 

Kosmopolitan

One of the project's I've been really excited to have been a part of so far this year is the TV Show Kosmopolitan on Suria where I play the role of Josh. I'm equally excited to say that the episodes are finally airing so you can see all the bad things my character gets up to (I'm not like that in real life I promise!)

I've put a little clip below as a teaser but for the full episodes you can either head to catch up on toggle or station yourself in front of the TV set every Tuesday night!

First Post (Finally!)

So people have been telling me for a while that I should start my own blog, but to be honest I've never really felt like that was my kind of thing.

However feelings were meant to be unfelt, and with a number of exciting projects and collaborations I've got coming up in the near future, I thought it was about time I created this blog to provide frequent updates in conjunction with my other, more static, webpages.

So stay tuned and watch the blog times roll!