Going to Sri Lanka, the Land of Smile !

I have just arrived in Sri Lanka !

I am meeting one of my best friends : Sheila. She is Italian, with Philippin and Sri Lanka origins. Yeah, she is stunning, you’ll see. It’s the first time I go to Sri Lanka. Can’t wait to discover the culture !

Generally, when I travel, I don’t like to plan everything. It’s so stressing to tell yourself that you have to follow the schedule… I like to see what I can do roughly, then I discover the place by feel. Depending on who you meet and what you do during your trip, you discover things you couldn’t have planned. If my brother is reading me, we won’t agree with that. Because of me and my « travelling by feel » way of thinking, he arrived on holidays without having a hotel. Indeed it was up to me to book a hotel for me and I did it at the last minute and hotels were already full… Well I admit it was not a good idea to do it at the last minute . But I have changed for the better, now when I book my flight I also book my hotel 🙂

Arrival at Aluthgama

Concerning this trip, I haven’t organized anything, Sheila has done everything. All I know is that we will go to Colombo, Kandy and Galle. Everything else will be a big surprise for me. I guess this is why I am so excited to discover the country.
I just bought a plane ticket and I have landed in Colombo, which is the capital. Friends came to get me. Now we have just arrived in Aluthgama (which is 65km from the capital). It is beautiful ! The house where we are is by the sea and Bentota river. It is so quiet and the water is so clear.

First impressions

I feel at home. It is quite different from all the countries I have already visited. Still the culture is similar to the Cambodian and Thai ones. Maybe it’s because Sri Lanka is a mainly Bouddhist country, like Cambodia.

About the food, well, it is really delicious. I would say that it looks like a mix between Thai and Khmer foods, sprinkled with Indian spices. Generally when you go to a country which is very different from what you are used to, at one point you’re done with the food. Here it is not the case. Honestly it’s so tasty and delicious. I can’t recommend you places to eat yet because for the moment all I have eaten was homemade.

Everything is fine here, I’m so happy. Here are some pics of my first day. 

trip sri lanka bentota aluthgama colombo discover friends enjoy land of smile[av_gallery ids=’5240,5242,5241′ style=’thumbnails’ preview_size=’portfolio’ crop_big_preview_thumbnail=’avia-gallery-big-crop-thumb’ thumb_size=’medium’ columns=’3′ imagelink=’lightbox’ lazyload=’avia_lazyload’]

Speak soon !

Sylvie

The little story of Daily Mekong’s t-shirts

 

I’d like to tell you the story behind Daily Mekong.

It is not only about printing and selling tee-shirts. I think it has more to offer.

Genesis

Before I started Daily Mekong, I attempted to start a bag collection (click here to learn more about that). I have never launched it because my father had health issues and I looked after him. Looking back at it, not having launched this collection was not that bad. Making samples was a thing, but running a business in practice was another thing. I think I wouldn’t have been ready for this at that time.

I think starting with Tee shirts is a good challenge if you want to start in fashion business. It gives you an overview of what fashion industry is like. From the concept to having your products sold in stores, it takes a long time and you have to take many steps before you carry your project. When I decided to start a t-shirt collection, I did not want to make random t-shirts, I wanted to offer quality, comfort and a good shape.

Launching the production

So I flew to China and looked for the perfect fabric and the factory that would suit me best. Depending on the fabric, it gives a different shape and style. Heavy and thick fabrics are more used for street style shapes (for hip hop t-shirts for example). Light fabrics suit better for women t-shirts. I wanted unisex t-shirts so I needed to find the right balance : not too thick, not too light so that it would fit to women as well as men. Moreover, I prefer natural fabrics : Daily Mekong‘s t-shirts are 95% cotton and 5% of elastane to be comfortable, like a PJ.

spandex elasthane elastane fabric cotton coton
Talking about sourcing and looking for the best factories and fabrics, it reminds me of a funny story. When I was in China, I was careful about where I ate. But one day I tried a new restaurant and I took a basic vegan soup but there was TOS in it. My face started to itch me as if I had a anthill under my skin and in a few hours I looked like Shrek. The pills I was given didn’t work and I had to stay in China because I have already launched the t-shirts production. Later I flew to Hong Kong to get cured. Anyway, just to tell you that I gave my all to achieve the project : my energy but also my body 🙂

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To conclude, it took me a lot of time and energy to find the right factory and fabric to offer the t-shirt I had in mind when I started. It is not as easy as it looks like. It’s not only about translating words, printing and selling it.

I also wanted to show through Daily Mekong that producing in China is not a sign of bad quality.

Now, my products have been sold at Colette in Paris and in more than 20 retailers around the world since almost 2 years (click here to see where is the closest one) but it’s not as easy as it could seem 🙂

Hope you’ve liked the little story !

Speak soon !

Sylvie
http://dailymekong.com/shop/

 

My experience in leather craft with Atelier Toolbox

How and why I have learnt leathercraft

First, if you don’t know : Leather crafting is the art of creating handmade goods out of leather, such as wallets, handbags, belts, etc

Why I took a leather craft course

Since I was a kid, I have always liked creative works. But according to my parents, being an artist was like playing guitar in the subway. It wasn’t the ideal job that they wanted for their daughter. I guess this way of thinking is something very Asian. So I took a general course and then I specialised in “fashion management”. Thanks to my studies, I had the opportunity to travel a lot and study abroad. I lived in China during a couple years and ended up in Beijing. Work was so intense, I used to work everyday and I got so tired that I quitted and went back to Paris. I didn’t feel able to work anymore. I took a rest for at least two months but I still felt tired. It took me a while before getting back on my feet. Then, I wanted to do something different, something creative that required manual skills. It was my new challenge.

L’Atelier Toolbox

When I decided to take up this challenge, we were already on September and most of courses had already started. I found by chance an intensive handcraft leather goods class at Atelier Toolbox. That’s how I started leather crafting.

Atelier Toolbox is an opportunity for people like me, who want to retrain. It allows you to work on a specific project that you have in mind. It combines technique and creativity. It is also for those who want to make their own leather purse and learn a new skill for hobby.

At the beginning, we were only two people with my teacher Manu. Manu has done so many things before teaching leather craft, and she’s younger than me ! She knows everything that is related to French handcraft. She is the kind of people who cares about the French patrimony and wants to spread this legacy. She made bags for Hermes, which is the best in leather craft. Girls, if you have a Hermes bag, maybe it’s Manu who made it !

Manu is a very patient person and she takes time to understand your project. At first, I sucked at leather crafting… It was hard, you need to be focused all the time. You can’t skip a step otherwise you have to restart from the beginning. Manu was not really optimistic about me, she thought I wouldn’t finish my project. Still, she did help me a lot for my bag collection and thanks to her, I made it !

What I have learnt thanks to this course

Now I know how important is rigor and thorough. Every step of conception has its importance, you can’t skip a step or do it quickly. Every saddle stiche has to be parrallele and equal, each milimeter counts. I have understood why Hermes bags are so expensive, there is soooo much work on it and everything is handmade !

Here are some pics I took during the course :

 

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If you want to work on your manual and creative skills, and create your own bag, you should totally try it, it is so worth it. It teaches you a lot, especially about patience and know-how.

If you want to have more info click here or visit their Facebook page.
Atelier Toolbox
115 Rue de Ménilmontant
Paris

Sylvie

Summer Wishlist 2016 : My favorite outfit

Wishlist 2016 : my favourite outfit for this summer

Hello !

Today I want to share with you my summer wishlist, the perfect outfit I would have loved to wear if I was in Paris. During summer, I like to wear simple, comfy and fresh looks, avoiding polyester. I like easy-to-wear and well-cut clothes. And I add strong accessoiries to make the outfit more sophisticated.

My parisian bohemian chic outfit

I have choosen a classic t-shirt from “Play by Comme des Garçons”, with the little heart, but in golden (it’s my tacky Asian side 🙂 ). It’s a basic and you can easily wear jeans or shorts with it.
I have choosen a 60’s style Stella Mac Cartney denim skirt, because these days I am into the 60s spirit. I like denim fabrics, I think it’s practical when you travel around in the Parisian subway.
Concerning the shoes, I have picked espadrilles, I love it because it’s comfortable, beautiful and it gives a touch of sexyness. These ones are a special edition from Castaner x net-a-porter. I find them super cute and perfect for this summer.
In general I don’t carry any purse because since I have travelled quite a lot with so many luggage, I just want to have my hands free now. However I particularly like Olympia Le Tan clutches, which I find cute and precious.
I like to complete my outfits with funky accessoiries, such as Aurélie Biderman’s ones. Her parisian and bohemian chic style gives character to the outfit.

Unfortunately, I cannot satisfy all my wishes in Phnom Penh because the post services don’t work well and there is no doorman to recover your packages. I have tried to order things several times but it has never reached destination. Thus it helps me to cure my shopping addiction 🙂 . I think twice before I want to get something. And if I want something so bad, I can ask my friends who come from France to bring me things. It requires a bit of organization and at the end it’s like a filter for me because it has to be important if I want to ask them otherwise none of my friends will want to carry it.

Hope you like the outfit !

Find out what’s on the list on the following links :

1 – Tee shirt – Play Gold heart
2 – Jupe – Stella Mc cartney
3 – Collier – Aurélie Bidermann
4 – Clutch – Olympia le Tan
5 – Bracelet (set de trois) – Rosantica
6 – Bracelet pompons – Aurélie Bidermann
7 – Bracelet pompons – Rosantica
8 – Espadrilles compensées – Castaner

Discover a fruit from Asia : mangosteen

A fresh fruit from Asia : mangosteen

In Cambodia, we are lucky to have a good selection of exotic fruits. Some are fat, hairy, thorny, colorful, or have funny shapes, but most of them taste really good and are good for health. Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite ones : Mangosteen.

What is mangosteen ?

Mangosteen (Mang-kout in khmer) is also called “the king of fruits”. It’s a little round dark-purple fruit with a thick peel. Inside, there are white segments like in a mandarine. It tastes really sweet and slightly acidic, like a mix of peach, raspberry and pineapple. Honestly I could eat tons of eat, it’s delicious.

When I was in Paris, for breakfast I used to eat red fruits, which are rich in antioxidants. When I arrived in Phnom Penh it was different, I had to change my habits because since I had to pay 10 dollars for a little red fruits pack, it was too expensive to continue eating it every morning. I had to find alternatives for what I used to eat in France. Mangosteen seemed to be a good substitute, all the more so as it is available all year long. There are plenty of fruits that I would like to introduce you and that you should try. You can find mangosteens and other exotic fruits at your exotic grocery. For those who live in Paris, you can go at Tang Frères.

Hope you will try it during the summer !

Sylvie

My favorite places to eat Asian food in Paris 13th disctrict

My favorite places to eat in Paris Chinatown 

Hello !

When I was in Paris, people often asked me where to eat in the 13th disctrict of Paris (it is known to be Paris Chinatown). I think it depends on what you want to eat and what you like. Opinions are divided even between the 13th’s inhabitants. Everyone has its favorite canteen or restaurant. So here is a list of dishes I like and where I like to eat it.

Loc Lac Beef :

  • Sun Ly (15 Avenue de Choisy, 75013 Paris). Usually I find Loc Lac meat too rubbery, extremely fried, and the rice is often too soft after having been fried in tomato sauce. At Sun Ly, the meat is tender, the rice is fir and well seasoned. I’m not a huge loc lac fan but sometimes it’s good to eat one.

Pho :

I am an expert of this dish. Too hard to tell you only one place to eat it in Paris.

  • Pho Mui (94 Avenue d’Ivry, 75013 Paris).  It’s a great value. Their soup are very hot, it’s the key to a good Pho.
  • Pho Bom  (71 Avenue de Choisy, 75013 Paris). It’s a new place in the 13th and it’s tasty ! I have been there several times, I have tried several dishes and it was always good. I would recommend their Pho Special or their Pho Entrecote. The Pho Entrecote is a very hot soup served with thin raw entrecote slices. You put the slices in the soup, and it is so hot that the little slices are immediately cooked. The only little problem is that the slices are not thin enough at Pho Bom. Nonetheless their soup is delicious.
  • Pho of the Phnom Penh Butchery (31 Avenue de la porte de Choisy, 75013 Paris. I think this restaurant doesn’t even have its sign. So here is the adress of the butchery, because the owner of the butchery is also the owner of the restaurant). It has its regular customers. Their speciality is the Pho Entrecote. It’s the same thing as their competitor in Avenue de Choisy but here the meat is from the butchery and it’s delicious.

In fact, if there was a Pho Entrecote with the Pho Bom soup and the Butchery’s meat, it would be perfect.

Three Treasures Rice :

It’s rice with pork rind, sliced and flavoured with grilled rice powder. There is also pork shoulder or rib, or even chicken with steam cooked omelette. It’s a rich dish but it’s not heavy. At least you won’t be hungry after having eaten it.

  • Ngoc Xuyen Saigon (4 Rue Caillaux, 75013 Paris). Usually I’m not a huge fan of this dish because I find it too big but I changed my opinion in this canteen. It’s a good choice if you are really hungry.

Soup Phnom Penh

  • Hao Hao (23 Avenue de Choisy, 75013 Paris). It’s one of the most famous canteen of the district. Their Phnom Penh soup is good and one of my friend also adores their Loc Lac. I almost never go there because AC is not good so you smell like garlic when you eat there. I already lived and had my office in the district, so also smelling garlic was too much for me, I didn’t want to be a 13th’s cliche.
  • Paris (15 Avenue de Choisy 75013 Paris. I can’t find the exact adress on the Internet but it’s opposite to Sun Ly). Their soup is good and generous, and it’s well ventilated so that you don’t smell like food after having eaten there.

Roast Duck

  • New Chinatown (101-105 Rue de Tolbiac, 75013 Paris). I have never eaten an awesome roast duck in Paris so when I go there I rather take the 5-flavour duck, also called « Pipa duck ». The skin of the duck is crunchy and delicious, it makes my mouth water when I think about it. The owner is quite unpleasant, but we go there for her duck, not for her personality . You should call before you go, to order your duck. They don’t cook many ducks and sometimes they don’t even have any duck left after 1pm.

Sweet and Sour Sauce Pork Chops

  • Chinatown (44 Avenue d’Ivry, 75013 Paris). It is considered as one of the most classy restaurants of the district. Wedding banquets often take place there. All of their dishes are good but my favorite one is the pork chops.

Spring rolls

  • Lao Viet (24 Boulevard Masséna, 75013 Paris). Generally I don’t recommend Asian restaurants which have several types of Asian food (Chinese, Viet, Thai, Khmer,…).  It doesn’t sound normal to me. It’s as if a French restaurant also served Italian, Greek, or Portuguese food. These types of food almost have nothing in common. At Lao Viet, all the dishes are well cooked : as well the Lao or Thai food (which are quite similar) as Vietnamese dishes. Their home made spring rolls are the best of the district. Their crispy rice salad with fermented pork is awesome. All of their dishes are good and quite close to authentic Lao Viet and Thai food.

(Don’t forget to check on the internet when all these restaurants are opened)

Bon Appétit !
Speak soon !

What you must see if you spend a week end in Phnom Penh

Week end in Phnom Penh

Soursdey ! It’s almost the week end !

Yesterday, one of my friends asked me if I could tell her about the best of Phnom Penh because on this weekend, friends of hers are coming to visit. It’s not easy to advise people you don’t know but I have tried to draw a list of my favorite places.

If you want to know where to stay, here are my two favourite places, for 2 budgets :

The Plantation : it’s a real crush since the 1st I have come there. You can relax and the swimming pool is really nice. It’s a good plan if you don’t want something too exotic. Depending on the season, prices are between 80 and 180 euros.
Villa Langka : As it is said in the name, this hotel is a former villa which has been transformed in a guest house, with refined colonial decoration. Prices are between 50 and 80 euros per night.

Where to eat :

In my opinion, food is not extraordinary in Phnom Penh. I don’t tell yourself “Waouh it’s too good”. There is always something missing so that I am not completely satisfied. The food is tasty but it’s not like in Paris or in Shanghai where I have my favorite restaurants which make me rumble just thinking about it. But it’s only my opinion and there are many places where you can find delicious food. Whether you like Asian or Western food, here is a little list of my favorite places in Phnom Penh.
– Khmer Surin makes traditional khmer food which fits to European palates. The place is great and really exotic. I recommend this restaurant if you want to discover traditional khmer food. But I think real traditional food is at the little local caff (I will tell you about it later, in another post).
Casa Matteo : you will tell me that it sounds Italian rather than local. Indeed it is Japanese. You can find there Italian food reinterpreted in a Japanese style. It’s tasty, you can trust me because I’m very demanding about Italian food and pasta cooking ! Even my Italian friend Guiseppe often goes there ! I have a crush on the 4­Cheese Pizza with honey sauce, it is outstanding.
– Flavor of India : there is a big Indian community in Phnom Penh. Khmer people are descendants of Indian people, so they almost use the same ingredients in their recipes. At Flavor of India, the food is authentic and I could eat thousands of their palak panner !
– The Deli : It’s a tasty French Bistrot, even better than some Parisian breweries. I go there when I miss Paris and I recommend it to all of my friends who arrive from a long trip and who dream of a good French dish. Their fishes are perfect !

Must see : the markets

If you come to Phnom Penh you have to go a market, this is where everything happens ! If I had to recommend you only one market to visit, I would say the Russian Market. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave : you will find there many souvenirs to bring to your friends (t-shirts, traditionnal clothes, little statues, trinkets and many other things). You can even eat there. A piece of advice : you should go there in the morning if you don’t want to suffer from the heat.

If you have ever come to Phnom Penh, tell me what are your favourite places !

Have a nice weekend guys !

Sylvie

The Power of intention

The Power of intention

the power of intention : the book who has changed her life thanks to positive energy

For my birthday, my friend Sophie from « The Other Art Of Living » offered me a book called « The Power of Intention » by Wayne Dyer. When I got it in my hands for the first time, I was anxious about not understanding the title and it gave me pimples even before having read it.  Sophie told me that this book had changed her life and she highly suggested me to read it. Sophie is a super positive women, full of energy. Everything she imagines, she does it and it works. It’s impressive to see it from my own eyes and also very inspiring. You can actually feel that energy when you go on her blog.

What’s in the book : Positive thinking is the key to changing your life

The author of this book, Wayne W. Dyer shows us how to change our way of thinking in a positive way. Positive attracts positive, nothing too crazy until here. Sometimes, I wake up moody, quite negative, thinking : “ I am tired, I don’t want to do it, it’s boring…” well, these times, what happens to me is only shitty things. Don’t you think so ?

The book helps us to get out of our comfort zone and to react more positively.

How to read the book and what I have learn

I didn’t read the book straight away, it took me a while before I got into it. It is quite intense to read and it needs full attention. It’s a bit like an auto therapy. I have found it interesting, it has helped me to discover my negative flaws and to improve them. Since I have read the book, I have been believing in positive energy and lots of good things have happened to me. The thing that I like most about the book is that after every chapter you have an exercise to help you to find your flaws. The book doesn’t need to be read all at once, it’s not a story so you can just read a chapter from time to time and pratice with the exercise. I highly recommend you to get the book. And it is not for high people, I promise!

Click here to get the book.

If you read it, let me know what you think about it !

I also would like to thank Sophie for this beautiful gift !
Saum arkoun chen bang Sophie

Speak soon !

Sylvie

 

Beauty tips with only two ingredients : honey and turmeric

Beauty tips with only two ingredients : honey and turmeric

Hello ! Soursdey !

Today I want to share with you two easy tips. It’s grandmothers’ recipes. You only need 2 ingredients which you can find easily : turmeric (also called curcuma) and honey. We use turmeric to stimulate digestion and to treat inflamatory disorders, such as rheumatic or menstrual pains. And you probably know honey for its power on throat aches : it has healing effects and it’s also a good antioxidant.

For these recipes I have bought natural honey and natural turmeric. You can find turmeric in any Asian grocery : it’s a basic spice, we often use it in Asia. Concerning honey, I recommend you to take an organic one.

First recipe : Honey and turmeric balls

Turmeric has a strong taste, I cannot put it in every food recipe I make. So my mum makes little honey and turmeric balls and we take it every morning. It’s very simple to do. For this recipe you should use gloves if you don’t want to have yellow hands. Progressivley add honey in curcuma powder, until it looks like modelling clay. Then make little balls so that you can swallow it. It’s ready !

Second recipe : Honey and turmeric face mask

This face mask is often used when the bride prepares herself for the wedding : it gives a fresh and smooth complexion. We use it to cure acne and redness. Here you put more honey than in the previous recipe so that you obtain almost a liquid. Apply it on your face during 20/30 minutes until your skin has absorbed the mask. Rinse your face and admire the result : It’s fresh and soft !

(Before using the mask on your face you should try it on the top of your hand to make sure there is no allergic reation. Who knows what can happen…).

You’re welcome !

Let me know how it goes !

Sylvie

Paris to Phnom Penh

Hello Cambodia ! Soursdey !

I am going on adventure, and this time it is in Phnom Penh, in my motherland Cambodia, where my family has settled. Cambodia was destroyed by civil war between 1975 and 1979. More than 1 million people were killed, including members of my family. My parents arrived in France as political refugees. This is when my brother and I were born.

When I was a child, I hated Cambodia, because I found it dirty and especially because my parents forced us to spend every summer there. My friends spent sunny holidays on the beach. I also had sunny holidays but I was in Cambodia, with dirty feet and flip flop tan lines. And mosquitoes were biting me all the time. Obviously, I didn’t enjoy it. We weren’t allowed to go outside and we had to stay with the family, just eating fruits, sitting on wooden chairs that stuck to our bottoms because of the heat. There were power failures all the time, sometimes it lasted a few days and we didn’t have AC. And there was garbage on the middle of the roads.

So, when I recently decided to settle here, it was a cultural and emotional challenge. The challenge of making up with my motherland, of learning how to love it and of discovering its wealth. Since I have come back, I have discovered a more modern, smiley and funny Cambodia. Khmer people love to have fun, they are jokers. It has nothing to do with the memories I had. There are almost no power failures anymore, because they have electric generators. I still eat fruits but as I try to be healthy, now I find it awesome ! I have found a nice yoga teacher and there is a great Australian organic restaurant just at the end of my street (it’s like the Café Pinson in Paris). So I guess this adventure can’t start in a better way !

Speak soon!

Sylvie