6 Basic Tips for Foreigners and Expats spending Traditional Chinese New Year in Singapore

As of right now, every Chinese family in Singapore is preparing for their traditional reunion dinner tonight.

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Yes, I know you think we Chinese girls look cute in our traditional Chinese cheongsams!

It’s no secret that this little Singaporean has many expat and foreigner friends. I wish to include everyone in our traditional festivities, and answer some questions that I usually get. If you’re a foreigner experiencing Chinese New Year in Singapore, here’s a few quick tips of the tradition that goes on behind closed doors for “open house”, and how to prepare if you’re visiting one.

1) SORRY, IT’S NOT A PARTY. My parents probably have too many friends (you can see where I pick up my personality from!) and love to have people over at ours, but please don’t be offended if your Chinese friends haven’t invited you over to their home. Traditionally, no members outside the family are usually invited to reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

After which, the first two days of Chinese New Year is traditionally reserved for visiting or inviting over relatives and members of the extended family. As homes in Singapore tend to be small and families here are a bit more private than Western cultures, not every family holds an “open house” and invites friends over to their home as well.

2) YOU’RE INVITED ANYWAY! WHAT TO BRING? If you’re visiting my home for Chinese New Year, I would probably suggest giving my Dad a bottle of wine, but gifts are optional and most Chinese families are happy for you to bring over two oranges. You need to bring TWO – not one orange – as there’s something about odd numbers symbolizing unhappy occasions and even numbers for a happy occasion. You are also expected to take home two DIFFERENT oranges from the ones that you brought – so the tradition of giving oranges is really more of a swap.

Don’t take home anything else that isn’t yours!

3) TRYING TO IMPRESS A LOCAL GIRL’S FAMILY? YOU BETTER BRING EXTRA AMMO. If you’re feeling generous or want to show some extra effort, bring a bottle of Chinese New Year snacks (Bee Cheng Hiang bak kwa, prawn cracker roll, pineapple tarts, peanut cookies etc), or even better – a pot of plants. Don’t buy us Cactuses, for not any flowers will do – Chinese New Year themed plants are most meaningful.

These are the fortunes specific plants signify:
Peach blossom symbolizes luck.
Kumquat symbolizes prosperity.
Narcissus symbolizes prosperity.
Chrysanthemum symbolizes longevity.
Bamboo is a plant good for any time of year.
Sunflower means to have a good year.

4) I HEARD ABOUT ANG PAOS. SHOW ME THE MONEY. People don’t usually give out red packets or “ang paos” in the office, because that’s just kind of awkward – and expensive. However, if you visit a married colleague at his or her home, you might be lucky to receive one!

Generally for Chinese New Year, number significances and amounts in the red packets will avoid the number ’4′ (pronounced ‘si’ in Mandarin which means death), and celebrate the number ’8′, including denominations of it (which is pronounced ‘ba’ and usually also referred to as ‘fatt’).

5) RESPECT AND WELL WISHES. With oranges and red packets, always give and receive with two hands and eye contact. You should also insert enthusiasm and a traditional well wishing – “gong xi fa cai”, which literally translates to celebrate (‘gong xi’), and prosper (‘fa cai’).

6) COLOUR CODED. Red is an auspicious colour, and will be the most overused colour of this occasion. Don’t wear black, which symbolizes death – even if your hosts aren’t superstitious, its just rude.
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Here are some pictures from previous celebrations over Chinese New Year – I never live in the past, but I do like looking back at these memories! These pictures are with family and friends from 2010, including an induction for some foreign friends around Chinatown and River Hongbao (a gorgeous carnival we have in Singapore every Chinese New Year period). I look like a baby! Happy Chinese New Year everyone.

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Do you want a great family? Solid friendships? Unlimited travel? Career happiness? High net-worth networks? You can have what I have, right here.

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Once in awhile, I get messages from friends and internet peeps, asking me how I have so many friends, influential contacts, free holidays and travel, cool experiences, vip access, awesome loved ones, and usually why I’m always so positive and deliriously happy…

Thank you for living vicariously through me – I worry that I’m not a good role-model at times to people who may dislike or misunderstand certain parts of my life. Of course, I’m not perfect so be prepared for my mistakes as well. I don’t want to inspire your envy, but instead, I want you to know that you can actually have what I have (seriously).

Let me start from the beginning.

On Christmas Day, sometime long ago and far away, a baby was born from a virgin. Say what? Yes you heard it, born from a virgin, not from lust. This baby was a pure and perfect man – different from any of us. He was holy, sent into this earth to walk among the evil, the sick, and the broken. We all know how f-ed up the world can be. If you have a horrible boss or deal with awful people, you know this already.

GOD almighty in all his glaring glory is too great for any of us earthlings to ever reach, there is no bridge – but His Son Jesus actually came right here, to walk among us sinners. He made HISTORY healing people, I see miracles everyday in the PRESENT, and the bible has proven and clearly documented the events of the FUTURE – some have already happened, other things will.

Jesus died with nails in his bloody hands, pierced by the same people who knew of his eternal glory and power – but were too scared of the selfish consequences from admitting it. He came back to life after death, because after all, He was God’s Son. Life is created from God’s breath.

“Oh this is all just a story,” Some people tell me. And I ask them, “then why is God so real to me?”

Once a year, the world looks for a joyful father figure that gives gifts freely and generously. You’re looking at the wrong man – it’s not Santa. Jesus Christ is this meaning of Christmas, but His love overflows in my life not just on this day, but everyday. It’s such an amazing gift I would even wish it on my worst enemy. It’s life-changing, hey look at me. There was always something missing in my life, until God found me. (I will never forget January 2013, the day I encountered God for the first time.)

Life is basically just incomplete without God (in fact it can even be awful), because HE is the one who breathed life into you. How can you doubt all the awesome things that he wants to do?

He knows the differences between what you want and what you need, the thoughts in your head, and the secrets in your heart. He also knows better than you, because He created you.

I’m not promising things will be perfect, but God promised good things to those who truly love and follow Him. Do I get stressed? Sure. Do I worry about things sometimes? I guess I do. Do I have challenges that stumble me? Wa lau eh of course lah. But I’m quite possibly, living the happiest and fulfilling life – I may not be the richest kid around, but I know I have riches far beyond (and better than) money.

“ALL, GOOD things come from The Lord” – This means, nothing bad is from God. Everything good is from God. It’s totally none of my business if you don’t believe, but hey it just means that you’re blocking yourself from the blessings that he wants to pour on your life. Why refuse something good that someone wants to give you?

Life is good not because I was good enough to deserve it, but because God is great. I’m just an ordinary girl living an extraordinary life.

Ask me or a Christian friend about Jesus. I’m not hard to find online, visit New Creation Church sometime, or you can even just Google “Jesus”. Give some meaning to your Christmas. Give God a chance to show you His love today. The sooner you realize it, you actually receive it.

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Merry Christmas everyone. What an incredible 2013 I’ve had since I decided to pursue God first and all other good things have started to chase me. Thanks to everyone who has brought joy to my life. May you all have a blessed 2014!

 

- CHRISTMAS 2013 -

Christmas has always been undisputedly my favourite time of the year. I countdown the months to this very day, but this year’s Christmas celebrations has been the stuff of sweet dreams. Maybe I’m just in high(er) spirits. It was a month filled with family, good friends, excellent food, lots of catch ups and the obligatory hugs and laughs.

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2013 has significantly been the first year that I’ve ever been officially unemployed and ventured out into starting my own business. It’s really bewildering that this has also been the first year where I’ve been able to afford brand name gifts for loved ones, and have also likewise received some really incredible, undeservedly amazing gifts. (Most of the time, I’m already happy to receive gifts like iPhone pouches and coffee mugs.)

I’m not very brand-conscious and wouldn’t care less, but for a new and struggling entrepreneur, this is really quite ironical?! I feel blessed to bless, I guess.

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I’m very thankful to my Mom and Dad who always give me a Christmas with a meaning – we went to St Andrews Community Hospital this year on Christmas Eve with their church group, spreading some joy to the sick, young, and elderly.

I hope the patients liked our red-themed team love, as I try to croon out some rusty Christmas carols!

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What a heartbreaking but amazing day, don’t think I will forget this Christmas Eve for a while. Sometimes, Singapore gets so comfortable that it’s easy to forget how many under privileged and less fortunate people there are around us. Everyone could do with a bit of love and a whole lot of Jesus. Grateful to my parents who continually remind me of compassion, especially this Christmas. Where do we start? With the elderly and sick who were so thrilled to see us, that they couldn’t stop clapping? The young girl in pink who followed us in her wheelchair all around the wards, squealing with excitement everytime we sing? The 5 year old who spasmed or couldn’t look at me straight, and yet she’s so beautiful?

Loving people is tiring, but I’m glad we did it. Thanks to Mom and her amazing church peeps.

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That’s a wrap! Couldn’t wait to unwrap presents with some of my dearest friends, and some much needed turkey time to total up my Christmas celebration coma.

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Thank you, Christmas 2013. Looking forward to the next.

Happy New Year pull your ear! This is a list of the public holidays in Singapore for 2014

Happy 2014! The best thing to do while you are on public holiday, is to plan your next public holiday.

The Ministry of Manpower has announced the list of 11 public holidays for 2014, so whip those calendars out and start planning your long weekends.

Next year, Chinese New Year will fall on Friday, Jan 31 and Saturday, Feb 1.

Good Friday will be on April 18 and Vesak Day on May 13.

Hari Raya Puasa is on July 28 while Hari Raya Haji is on Oct 5. Deepavali next year is slated to be on Oct 23, but is subject to change.
New Year’s Day, Labour Day, National Day and Christmas Day will fall on the usual days.

The complete list for the 11 gazetted public holidays can be viewed on the Ministry’s website here.

Public Holidays in 2014

New Year’s Day — 1 Jan (Wednesday)
Chinese New Year — 31 Jan, 1 Feb (Friday/Saturday)
Good Friday — 18 April (Friday)
Labour Day — 1 May (Thursday)
Vesak Day — 13 May (Tuesday)
Hari Raya Puasa — 28 July (Monday)
National Day — 9 Aug (Saturday)
Hari Raya Haji — 5 October (Sunday, the following Monday is a PH)
Deepavali — 23 October (Thursday)*
Christmas Day — 25 December (Thursday)

*Subject to change, according to Indian almanac

Singaporean’s top 10 holiday destinations for a Christmas getaway

Where are you spending your Christmas? I’ll be cuddled up with loved ones and the family, as I always am. Christmas is my absolutely hands down favourite time of the year (CHRISTMAS!!!!!! Jesus! Presents! So much love!), so grinches need not apply.

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These are the Top 10 Holiday Destinations from Singaporeans for a Christmas getaway this year -

#1: Seoul

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Photo credit. http://simonexploressouthkorea.files.wordpress.com/

#2: Hong Kong

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Photo credit. http://sassymamahk.com/

#3: Taipei

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Photo credit. http://www.wallsave.com

#4: Paris

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Photo credit. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/france/parisandaround/8162041/Paris-in-winter-A-feast-of-food-fine-art-and-fairy-lights.html

#4: New York

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#5: London

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Photo credit. wakpaper.com

#6: Tokyo

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Photo credit. http://www.yanidel.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Tokyo-Winter-2.jpg

#7: Bali

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Photo credit. http://www.viceroybali.com

#8: Sydney

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Photo credit. http://www.travelbyu.com

#10: Rome

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Photo credit. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/italy/rome/8110869/Rome-in-winter-the-Eternal-City-at-its-best.html

That’s funny, I thought Bali would be a lot higher on the list – all my friends seem to jet off to Bali for Christmas and NYE the first chance they get. It seems that Singapore travellers are also increasingly looking to spend the festive season in a HOME, away from their home. According to latest findings by Airbnb, it looks like lots of Asian destinations were featured prominently on this year’s holiday travel wish list.

Sometimes when I travel, I skip the whole hotel thing altogether and book rooms with home rental sites like AirBnb – you can discover unique local families through their accommodation, rent rooms in local homes and experience local culture better. Booking a nice room in a beautiful home is also MUCH cheaper than sleeping in an even standard small fare hotel. My girlfriend Estee and I last booked rooms with AirBnb in Berlin.

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Photo credit..

What I would give, to have another ski x soul searching sonata atop of the Swiss alps.

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Where are YOU spending Christmas this year? Where would you actually like to be?

I haven’t been to Korea since I was 16, maybe it’s time for a trip next year! Happy Holidays, everyone. :)

Pop up party update in Singapore: Super 0 Season featuring talented DJs from Berlin, Ibiza, etc SATURDAY NOV 2013

Singapore’s favourite warehouse party SUPER 0 SEASON is back tonight. I’m a bit late to the party by writing about this only now, sorry it’s been such a busy month!

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Kehakuma from infamous megaclub SPACE, IBIZA debuts in Asia for the first time at Super 0 tonight. SUPER EXCITED! Javi Bora (Spain) and Daniel Bell (USA) put the treble to the metal by joining tonight’s headlines too. Their beats will be enjoyed alongside tunes from my local favourite music makers DJ KFC, Matteblacc (JNR TIRSO and DREM), and Aidan.

SATURDAY 23 NOV SUPER 0 POP-UP PARTY. 8pm till late.
LOCATION: ANNEX @ THE MILL (Bukit Merah, near Alexandra ABC Market)

TICKETS:
EARLY BIRD $25 before 11PM (limited)
ADVANCE $30
AT THE DOOR $35 (first come first serve)
All ticket prices before $3 booking fee online. Buy tickets online HERE.

ENTRY:
Min age 18, subject to Photo ID admission. No slippers and flip flops.

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There’s nothing I love better than a quality party with real music. Don’t expect to ball out with bottle service, but I hear drink prices are decent and my friends who appreciate good music are seriously digging this month’s pop-up party season by Super 0. Created to introduce debut artistes and shake up the local music scene, Super 0 started off as a simple, fun concept and is a platform to feature good local talent. It is also the perfect backdrop to flesh out fresh, quirky ideas involving art, technology, social media and experiential marketing methods. I expect silent discos, projection mapping, pop lab DJ workshops and more in the making.

More party pictures from the first two weeks:
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You guys know that I get weekly updates about the sweet sounds getting thrown down in various cosy locations around Singapore town, so this is definitely one pop-up party that I hope to pop into tonight!

There are only 2 sessions left for this party so boogie on down on SATURDAY 23 NOV (today) and SATURDAY 30 NOV. Check out the Super 0 FACEBOOK PAGE HERE or their WEBSITE HERE.

Get Some Exclusive Invites for Johnnie Walker’s Circuit Lounge, SGP 2013

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a motorhead, or if you even know who the F1 drivers for this year is. (You must have have at least heard of McLaren’s Jenson Button though?!) Johnnie Walker’s famed F1 parties are far from losing their heat on Singapore’s track, and it’s almost that time of the year in Singapore where anyone and everyone is clamouring after one of their exclusive invites.

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Johnnie Walker, Lifestyle Asia

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I’ve been attending/enjoying Johnnie Walker’s parties in Singapore and KL for 5 years straight, and I have to admit, these things change you! I’m becoming more and more of a whisky fan, or perhaps it’s because my brother is one. He recently bought Johnnie Walker’s Explorers Club edition (only available onboard a plane), and it was delicious to the finish.

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Even my girlfriends Liv, Juliana and Linda, are dedicated whisky-drinkers. We never waver when ordering a glass of Johnnie Walker, every single time we are out around the bars in town.

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Johnnie Walker’s Circuit Lounge is back to impress this year for one exclusive night only, so expect nothing less than the best of gold and glamour. If you promise not to drink and drive, celebrate F1 with a nice shiny bottle of Gold Reserve, dance the night away with good looking good friends and a world class music line up – this year includes headline act Mel DeBarge (US), supported by Posso (US) and DJ Atran (SG). New York based DJ Mel DeBarge is a permanent fixture at exclusive film, music, fashion, philanthropic and private events and and she will keep you moving as the drinks flow.

I look forward to the encore return of Flavour Lab, a Diageo reserve World-Class bar where special Johnnie Walker cocktails are crafted for all their pretigious guests. Whisky fans will get to try new and evocative serves of Johnnie Walker, and I can’t wait to bug global winner of acclaimed Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 2012 competition Tim Philips, Runner Up for 2012 Kae Yin, and Singapore’s Bartender of the Year 2013 Zachary De Git to make me a drink. It’s going to be as good as gold.

Of course, it’s not a Formula 1 Johnnie Walker party unless you’re in the centre of the action, so this year’s new location Marina Bay Sands will ensure good vibes and perhaps even, slight vibrations!

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Johnnie Walker Circuit Lounge invite for 2013 thoughtfully sent out these invites to their VIPs, but here’s how you can win access into the party!
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HOW TO GET EXCLUSIVE JOHNNIE WALKER CIRCUIT LOUNGE PASSES

METHOD #1 – GOLD RESERVE WILL GET YOU GOLD

“Johnnie Walker invites are impossible to get,” everyone is wailing. No, that’s not true – it’s hard but not completely impossible. You could get onto the exclusive Circuit Lounge guestlist by purchasing a Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Limited Edition bottle from my favourite nightspots and outlets:
 Playhouse
 KYO
 Mink
 Dom
 Avalon
 Fenix Room
 The Vault
 The Butter Factory
 Royal Room
 Dream
 Jasons Market Place Raffles City
 Giant Tampines
 Giant IMM Shopping Centre
 Giant Vivo City
 Giant Parkway Parade

METHOD #2 – I HAVE 4 PASSES TO GIVEAWAY

You could join my blog giveaway. In collaboration with Johnnie Walker, Love You Wrong Time has an exclusive opportunity to giveaway 2 pairs of passes for my loyal readers fans to get access to this most hotly anticiapted F1 party.

SHARE THIS FACEBOOK BLOGPOST LINK on your Facebook wall, and just tell me HOW MANY NIGHTS Johnnie Walker Circuit Lounge is in Singapore for this year’s F1.
You must also HASHTAG #imnotdriving #JohnnieWalkerSingapore #CircuitLounge and await the good news!
(Winners will be picked randomly and announced here. Only winners will be contacted.)

CONTEST ENDS: WEDNESDAY 18 SEP, 6PM

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I had such a good time with my friends at last year’s Johnnie Walker F1 party at the stunning Gardens by the Bay, hope to see you there this coming year!

Big thanks to my party partner Johnnie Walker Singapore this year for the generous giveaway. Follow them on Facebook for updates, and I look forward to joining the pact with you to never drink and drive!

Beauty inspiration: K-Pop girls and Marie France Bodyline’s Angela Tong

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I realized recently that being single isn’t just about waiting – it’s what I do while I wait. And so, instead of using my God-given precious time to whine, I’ve decided to work hard and play as hard as I can. Spending time with family and loved ones, travelling and soul searching are currently top of my list, but most of my internet friends who have been following my INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK updates have hopefully noticed that I have also gone on a frantic health kick!

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Working out for me isn’t only about losing weight, but should be about eating better and getting in shape. Beauty should be part of being fit, and being fit is beautiful.

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The last 3 weeks of working out is now starting to pay off, and although I was secretly hoping to look like Hyori Lee, I am admittedly happy that I am fast looking more and more like a better, shapelier, and stronger version of me. Estelle 2.0 is coming soon.

Along with blogger sweethearts Renzze and Regina, I was invited for a special introduction event for Marie France Bodyline’s new ambassador this week – and this couldn’t be more appropriate for my new shape-conscious lifestyle.

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Along with her newfound, post-natal figure, Hong Kong actress and first-time mother, Angela Tong explained how the customised body treatments at Marie France Bodyline helped her to understand what worked for HER body shape. Karen, and Regina sipped on sweet blue-themed slushy drinks but I couldn’t stop fidgeting in my seat and poke-shifting my slight tummy – I am doing what I can, but it would be nice to get professional advice on what works best for me too.

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Angela Tong stands on stage in the Luxe Art museum, dolled up in a short bright pink dress, as she excitedly shares with us her weight-shape journey. I have lately started considering vegetarianism, and was fascinated with her stories as they revealed her attempt at the Atkins diet, the “apple” diet (where you eat nothing but apples all day every day!), and a few others. Not so surprisingly, nothing worked so well for her. I don’t think I could function or smile if I ate only apples as well.

After realizing that there was no need to torture herself, she enrolled in one of the programmes that Marie France Bodyline has. Post-baby, actress Angela Tong lost 11kg and 42.25 inches within 3 months, of which, 12 inches was off her waist! I guess the impossible can be possible. The best thing about Angela was not only how well-spoken she was, but how genuine she was about sharing her personal experience. It felt real, tracing the footsteps of a busy actress-mother as she juggled a busy schedule between filming and having a newborn baby. If she can do it, I’m sure all of us can too.

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Of course, I couldn’t resist my inquisitiveness and asked the first question during the Q&A session. She chirpily replied to my question, explaining that in addition to her customised Marie France Bodyline treatments, she ate what she liked according to their nutritionist’s advice, and practiced brisk walking and yoga 3 times a week.

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Host for the day, beautiful Anita Kapoor, ooh-ed and aah-ed almost as much as we did. The room seeped with the scent of girl power, as Anita and Angela continued to make great conversation and competed in a diaper-changing race against time. Anita and Angela’s bubbly exchange of beauty and weight loss advice was also sweetened with the launch of revolutionary slimming treatment, PRO-FREEZE.

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A Non-invasive freeze technology that targets hard-to-lose areas, this fat-reducing treatment that used to only be available at doctor’s offices. With PRO-FREEZE, when fat cells are exposed to an extreme cold temperature, they will be ‘frozen’. These ‘frozen’ fat cells will be degenerated and eventually ‘die’. These degenerated fat cells will be eliminated from the body via the body’s own metabolism system, and a Marie France Bodyline representative explained to me that this is done in the treatments through lymphatic drainage.

I bet you’re not surprised that the first thing I blurted out to one of the staff is, “how cold is cold?”! She patiently explained that she tried the treatment and because the coldness is targeted on a small area, it feels cool at first but then this is quickly forgotten. She even fell asleep – what bliss! PRO-FREEZE can apparently permanently remove up to 25% of the unwanted fat in a single treatment session, reducing the thickness of the fat layer. I’m thinking of all those late-night prata-weight.

The whole thing only takes 45-60 minutes per session, and although we did not try out this treatment, I’m always fascinated how technology can help make beauty so much easier to achieve! Maybe in addition to my eating healthy and sporty habits, it wouldn’t hurt to have this freeze-cheat technique. Check out Marie France Bodyline’s website for current updates and Pro-Freeze trial/promotions.

“You need to fully love yourself before loving others,” Angela remarked, and I don’t think anyone disagreed.

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Even if I’m nowhere close to looking like a K-Pop girl, I’m a step closer to looking like a better me.

Thanks Angela and Marie France Bodyline for teaching me a little bit more about my body, beauty technology and for continuing to empower women!

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This is an advertorial post for Marie France Bodyline.