Driving a Motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Never in a million years did I think that I would ever be able to say that I can not only drive a motorbike, but I can drive a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City. If you have ever seen the traffic in HCMC, you know that this driving a motorbike here is both exhilarating and a nightmare.

When I first moved here, I was pretty adamant about never driving a motorbike. I used only taxis for the first few months, then graduated to only taking a xe om (motorbike taxi).Then I bought my own electric bike that was cool to use in Phu My Hung, but completely useless for longer rides. After about 7 months of spending money, waiting around, and wasting time, I finally decided to pull the trigger and rent my own motorbike.

I started off with a Mio Classico, built specifically for short women (I’m barely 5’0 ft). I liked it because it’s super tiny, my feet could touch the ground, and it was lightweight. However, it had basically zero storage, and was really awful to ride with two people. I’ve since upgraded to an Attalia Elizabeth and it’s AMAZING. It’s much bigger, and I like it because it has enough storage space to fit a large bag, so I don’t have to worry about driving with a bag on me (a big NO NO in Ho Chi Minh City).

So say you’ve just moved here, you got a bike, and you’re ready to go…here are my tips for staying safe and not losing your mind.

- My friend Nicole gave me the best advice about motorbikes – only drive when YOU are ready. Don’t let people pressure you into riding if you’re not ready. I honestly believe that being here for 7 months and dealing with the traffic daily before I started to ride made me more confident, and in turn, a much better driver. I wasn’t afraid to ride, whereas I’m about 99.9% sure if I had started driving when I first moved here I would’ve been in many an accident.
– Get used to the fact that there the traffic rules are non-existent here. When I first moved here, I couldn’t believe the shit I was seeing on a daily basis. Red light? Doesn’t matter. Looking before you make a right turn? Doesn’t happen. Yielding to make a left turn? HA! It’s extremely frustrating and at times, super dangerous, but that’s just how it is. At the same time, know that 97% of the time, motorbikes will drive to avoid you. Say you’re trying to make a left and there’s just a mass of motorbikes you’re turning into, they’ll move out of the way. I don’t know how it works but it does.
– While driving, try to move with the group of traffic, and stay in a “pack”. Someone once told me the traffic in HCMC moves like water, and they’re totally right. You want to stay with the “river”. If there’s a giant group of people making a left turn, join the group.
– The pollution and exhaust is a HUGE problem for me. I’ve noticed that if I drive without wearing a face mask, my skin freaks out. I bought a pack of 200 medical face masks for about 5 bucks, and I keep a stash in my bike storage. If you drive long distances during rush hour traffic, it’s probably best to invest in a high quality mask that not only protects your skin, but filters the harsh pollutants.
– On the subject of skin, wearing an SPF is a must. The sun is NO joke. I used to have the worst short tan lines on my legs from wearing shorts without sunscreen. There’s a reason why Vietnamese women are typically covered from head to toe while driving. If you’re particularly sun sensitive, wear a light jacket/cardigan while driving.
– As ridiculous as motorbike drivers are, cars, taxis, and buses are even worse. Taxi and bus drivers drive like maniacs. If you’re driving near buses, be aware that they can, and will pull into different lanes at a moments notice, and generally don’t give a fuck about motorbike drivers.
– Driving in the rain here is one of the worst possible things ever and I HATE it. Rainy season sucks, no way around it. Grab your poncho, buy a pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, and drive slow, homie.
– Look forward at all times, don’t worry about what’s happening behind you. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Driving in HCMC requires 100% attention at all times.
– I’m not that familiar with the small streets in the city center and other districts, so I always have my GPS on if I’m going somewhere I don’t know. If I get lost, I’ll pull over (somewhere safe!) to look at my map.
– Don’t drive with your valuables on you, if you can help it. Always drive with your purse in your storage. I am absolutely paranoid about being robbed on my motorbike, which is why I don’t drive into D1 with my computer that often. Sadly, my laptop doesn’t fit in my bike storage, so if I go work in D1 it’s a special occasion for me. I’m sure that it’s safe most of the time, but better safe than sorry for me.

Have you ever driven a motorbike? What are your tips for staying safe?

C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum Review

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Sometimes when a product has an upgrade, there’s something to complain about.

“It doesn’t work as well!”
“Why did they change the formula?”
“New and improved? GIRL BYE.”

But you know what? Sometimes the upgrade is totally worth it. The C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum is an example of an incredible improvement from its original, the OST Vitamin C20 serum. I AM OBSESSED. It’s so good.

I wrote a rave review about the original serum here, and listen girrrllll this new and improved formula is the bomb dot com. The new formula is packaged in pretty much the same exact dark colored, glass bottle with a dropper top, containing 1.0 Fl.Oz/30ml of product. Like the previous serum, this serum should be kept in a cool, dark place like a refrigerator (PS have you guys heard of those awesome Korean skincare fridges they make now?!?! I need one).

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First, the original formula had about 29 ingredients, and this new one only has 10! TEN! They’ve also bumped up the vitamin c from 20% to 21.5%. I don’t know if scientifically that makes a huge difference, but either way, more awesome vitamin C goodness for everyone. I’m not sure what was making my skin sting so much from the previous formula, but I can actually use this serum alone without adding it to my toner and it doesn’t sting nearly as bad. Yes, there’s a very, very slight tingle, but nothing like what I experienced before.

The second best thing about C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum is that it isn’t sticky! YASSSSS! I loved the results of the previous formula, but I didn’t like that it was so sticky after application. The texture of this serum isn’t a gel-type texture, it’s like water. As a result, it absorbs super fast and actually feels hydrating on the skin.

serum3I apply this serum during my nighttime routine, right after my toner. Like I said earlier, since it isn’t sticky and actually absorbs quickly, I’ve been applying it on its own instead of with the toner like I used to. I use about 2 drops each night, making sure to use my palms to lightly pat the serum into my skin. My skin has a TON of scarring and hyper pigmentation, especially around my jawline from my previous breakouts, but I can see that the scars are slowly fading. I had a few bumps a couple of weeks ago and this serum definitely helped take the redness out and I didn’t scar as bad as I normally do. In general, my skin looks brighter, feels smooth, and is starting to become more even. Wins all around. I’ve always loved the original serum, but this new one is just much better in terms of application and ingredients.

If you’re looking for a serum to brighten your skin, help fade dark scars, and get rid of redness, then get your life and get a bottle. If you’ve purchased the original version and loved it, then this one is a definitely must buy. It really works wonders, and with this new formula, it’s pretty much the only serum I’ll be using for a while.

You can purchase the C20 Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum from Wishtrend.com. It’s priced at $24.99 with FREE SHIPPING! Treat yo self 2015!

Disclosure: A sample product was gifted from Wishtrend. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission should you make a purchase using said link.  

Missha Cacao and Cream Facial Scrub Review

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YAY! My first real review of 2015. I started using a bunch of new products at the tail end of 2014, so I haven’t had the chance to properly review anything. But girl get your coins ready because I have a blogging schedule of 3 new posts a week with ALL new reviews.

First up for 2015 is the Missha Cacao and Cream Facial Scrub. A friend from Korea so graciously brought me a care package when she visited Ho Chi Minh City, and it included this lovely facial scrub. A commenter asked me a while ago if I had any scrubs to recommend, and at that time, I didn’t, because I haven’t used a facial scrub in AGES. I am a loyal and faithful servant to my Clarisonic Mia 2, but I figured introducing a scrub back into my life couldn’t hurt.

facescrub2If you love ice cream and want to feel like you’re putting some Baskin Robbins realness on your face, then you’re going to love this scrub. It’s formulated with real cacao extract, shea butter, sunflower oil, lavender, and macadamia seed oil, so it’s extra rich and creamy. If you’re interested in seeing a full list of ingredients, head over here to the Missha official website.

It’s packaged in a small plastic jar containing 95g of product. If you’re so inclined, you could bring it with you while you’re traveling, but the jar is slightly too large to put in a carry-on beauty bag.

At first glance, I didn’t think that this scrub would really do anything. It’s super creamy, and doesn’t have the texture of a “scrub” (example being the SkinFood Black Sugar Scrub), but it’s actually quite dreamy. It’s very gentle, but definitely has some exfoliation power.

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I like to use this scrub in the morning whenever I’ve used a ton of different creams on my face the night before. I think it could be gentle enough for daily use, since it’s so creamy and moisturizing. Like most scrubs, it claims to help remove blackheads, whiteheads, and dead skin cells, but I can’t really say it does all of that. I thankfully have been having a great few months of nice skin, but I will say my skin looks a little smoother and feels moisturized after using it. One big plus is that it is pretty hydrating and doesn’t leave my skin dry. But mostly, I like this scrub because it’s gentle and smells like ice cream. Sometimes, simple is best.

You can find the Missha Cacao and Cream Facial Scrub from MisshaUS.com for $13.00, or Ebay for $12.90.

What are your favorite face scrubs? Let me know in the comments!

Cakes and Ale Cafe – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

A few weeks ago, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone in Phu My Hung and try a new cafe to work out of. A quick Google search for ‘cool cafes in D1, Ho Chi Minh City’ yielded a bunch of results, but none of them intrigued me like Cakes and Ale did.

Cakes and Ale is located at Room 9, Level 1, 23 Ly Tu Trong, District 1. It’s quite hidden in the apartment building, and I actually had to stop into a super cute boutique (more on that soon) to ask where it was. Once inside, I was mesmerized at how the owners transformed a small apartment into such a cute space. I almost felt like a VIP because I was the only person in the cafe…for nearly 4 hours.

cakes2 cakes5cakes3The stars of the cafe are the cakes and fresh roasted coffee. The owner sat and talked with me for about 20 minutes about their cakes and how much work they put into making their cakes the best. I’d have to agree. I ordered the flan gateau cake and first, the slice was HUGE. Benefits of a small cafe = bigger portions for customers. WIN! Second, it was amazingly delicious. I didn’t think that flan and chocolate cake could work together, but they do.

cakes cakes4All cakes are baked fresh daily, and the menu changes each day as well. The owner told me if you get there very early in the morning, you can eat the cake right out of the oven. They actually make their cakes right in the middle of the cafe, so you can smell smell delicious baked goods while you work or chat with friends. I don’t know about you, but smelling cakes baking all day is the ultimate productivity booster.

And coffee lovers, never fear. The owner also told me his dad wakes up early each morning to roast fresh coffee beans. The coffee was delicious, with just enough condensed milk to make it sweet, and not overwhelm the coffee flavor.

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Is it a good cafe to work in? Well, I got lucky since I was the only person there, but there is only one table to sit at. The rest of the seating is couches and small tables, made more for conversations between friends and not bloggers. Either way, I’d go back because the atmosphere was so calming and inviting. It really felt like I was at a friend’s cozy apartment.

Part of my New Year’s Resolutions was to step out of my comfort zone and try new things, so I’m glad to say that my little experiment paid off! Sometimes, it is worth it to leave the house!

Brilliant LoveHeart Lip Care 3 Step System Review

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I told myself that 2015 was the year that I branched out of my su:m37 bubble (girl it’s hardddd lol), and try new things. I was browsing the WISHtrend website and came across the Brilliant Loveheart Lip Care 3 Step System and was immediately intrigued. They graciously sent me a package to try and I can honestly say I’m super impressed.

I’m a lip care fanatic: I probably have at least 5 different types of chapstick/lip balm on me at all times. Soft, non-flaky lips are a necessity in my life, especially since I wear lipstick more often than not. If you are a lipstick wearer, a lip biter, or it’s wintertime where you live and your lips are a hot mess, you need this kit!

So it’s a 3 step system, but you can also use each step individually. Here’s a photo of my lips before this whole process – they’re a bit flaky with old lipstick. Boo.

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Step One: Lip Mask – a thick, white, slightly difficult to spread lip mask that removes all of your dead skin. Seriously, this mask is a godsend. I’ve never, ever used a lip product that removes dead skin like this. I usually use a damp washcloth each night before I go to bed, but this is a whole different level.

To use, spread thin layer of the thick mask all over your lips and leave on for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the mask with a damp washcloth and then be amazed at how smooth your lips are. The mask is the one product I use even when I’m not doing the 3 steps. It’s that good.

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Step Two: Lip Gel Patch (5 lip patches per box) – a 100% hydrogel mask that contours to your lips, providing moisture to the lips. First off, this mask feels AMAZING. I’d never tried lip patches before, mostly because I just thought they were gimmicky and wouldn’t work, but I’m a changed woman. These lip patches contain awesome ingredients like peach, blueberry, and honey extract, and grape seed oil. The patch contours completely to your lips, and feels so nice on. To use, apply a gel patch to your lips for 15 to 20 minutes. After removing the patch, you can pat the remaining essence into your lips. If you’re planning on wearing a matte lipstick, I’d stop after this step. Your lips will be super soft and smooth, without any visible lines, making them the perfect foundation for a bold lip color.

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Step Three: Lip Essence – This is a lip balm/essence that is used to seal in moisture and condition your lips. It’s slightly slippy, which is why I don’t recommend using this particular step if you’re planning on wearing a matte lip color. It feels really nice and hydrating on the lips, but part of me wishes it were slightly more waxy in texture. Of course, this is just a personal preference, as I’m used Nuxe and Burt’s Bees. The great thing about this lip essence is that it’s slightly tinted pink, so it gives your lips a really pretty, healthy pink glow.

finalstepOverall, I think the Brilliant Loveheart Lip Care 3 Step System is a really great product. The effects are long lasting, and it really creates the perfect base for lipsticks, or just to get rid of chapped lips in general.

Where to purchase: Wishtrend.com – on sale now for $17.40. Wanderlust Project readers can use the code WANDER-LIP at checkout for an additional 10% off. This code is only available until January 31st, so get your life!

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