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    is a virtual space where Liyana Aris documents her evolving modest personal style, which is based on the art of looking casually stylish while still remaining modest and doing it all on a budget; about 93% of her closet are filled with affordable things. (PS: The remaining 7% has a lot to do with her secret addiction to Adidas shoes and her occasional splurges on discounted high-end bags and clutches, shhh.) [+]
    23.5.13 .

    * i will be writing this recipe in Bahasa Malaysia + English = Manglish, people, thanksss. oh, mayn, i could sure eat some mangosteens now... (i dunno, saying 'Manglish' instantly reminded me of mangosteens)

    OK saya nak minta maaf sebab takde gambar sup ayam yang lagi cantik. Tapi gambar cantik ke tak cantik, sedap OK sup ayam nih.

    follow @theliyanaaris on Instagram

    23.5.13 .

    * i will be writing this recipe in Bahasa Malaysia + English = Manglish, people, thanksss. oh, mayn, i could sure eat some mangosteens now... (i dunno, saying 'Manglish' instantly reminded me of mangosteens)

    OK saya nak minta maaf sebab takde gambar sup ayam yang lagi cantik. Tapi gambar cantik ke tak cantik, sedap OK sup ayam nih.

    21.5.13 .

    A question i asked myself before i went to Italy was, "I wonder if i would get sick of Italian food?".

    I have to say, i don't know the answer to it. I spent seven (7) days in Italy and told myself to not give myself the chance to finding out the answer, mostly because i am afraid the answer could turn out to be "Yes you CAN." Although at one point, and that point was in Rome, i couldn't decide if i wanted pasta, pizza or risotto, and decided it was time to take a break from Italian food.

    But nevertheless, being in Italy and enjoying Italian food was probably the best part for of the trip for me. I wished i have the appetite to eat two lunches and three dinners everyday.

    There was a cafe really nearby to where we were staying in Rome. The great thing about being in Italy when we were there was the good weather, so it was really lovely to be outdoors all the time. We bagged a spot at one of the tables outside the cafe to enjoy a little view.

    Not the best view, but it's quite Rome-ish to stare at while enjoying our food.

    I ordered the spinach and ricotta cheese cannelloni. 

    16.5.13 .

    Or Firenze, as they call it. Florence sounds all flowery and dainty. Firenze on the other hand sounds macho and strong.

    This opinion is totally not necessary to be voiced out, but i think i would like to point that out just because. Either way, i like both names. Florence or Firenze is the capital of the region Tuscany, and Tuscany is touted as the "birthplace of the Italian Renaissance".

    I suppose i'm kind of a romantic at my travelling-heart, because as we travel to different places in Europe, Shah and i discovered that our favourite cities are different. Travelling-Shah likes to go "Go! Go go GO!" whereas Travelling-Liyana likes to stroll down a scenic road hand-in-hand licking gelato.  

    Which is why i loved Florence so much. It's just as beautiful as people said, and yes, most importantly, romantic. It's full of those European quaint streets, like Paris, but unlike the greys of Paris, Florence is filled with warm, soothing colours. Someone online said Florence is best discovered on foot, NOT on an open-top tourist bus, and i entirely agree with that person.

    The best part is, Shah loved Florence as much as i did! Superrr.

     Santa Maria del Fiore, or just called Duomo, is the top attraction here.

    15.5.13 .

    No one asked me to do this, but i'm going to do it because it seemed like loads of fun! So here they go, the twenty five facts about me:

    1. I really don't like wearing contact lens. But i wear them anyway because i hate it even more when my glasses slip down my nose during a hot, humid day.

    2. I'm addicted to hot tea. The normal kind, by Boh or Lipton. If fancy, it's English Breakfast.

    3. Outside of Malaysia, i have travelled to Thailand (Hat Yai), Singapore, New Zealand, Australia (Sydney), Indonesia (Bali), France (Paris), England, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal (Lisbon) and Italy. I will be travelling to Luxembourg and Germany this weekend, hopefully!

    4. Guyllian Sea Shells are the best comforting chocolates ever for me.

    5. Red became my favourite colour at 11-12 years old after i found out it was Taylor Hanson and Mel C's favourite colour. (bonus: it's Shah's favourite colour too!)

    14.5.13 .

    I have decided to blog about all the glorious food i've consumed in Italy. Because we all are familiar with Italian food. And we know they're all gewddd.

    Our first destination in Italy was Milan. Some people told Shah Milan isn't worth a visit. Shah was like, but The Last Supper is there! I was like, totes yeh! We gotta see The Last Supper! Because we love The Da Vinci Code and all! And i was also like, it's another fashion capital of the world!

    So to Milan we went.

    Only, you know, we didn't do our planning too well, because you need to book wayyy in advance to stare at the famed painting. Yes, you need to get a ticket or book a tour to stare at it, for 15 minutes. That's the time allocated for each group. If you're really, really lucky, it's not impossible to acquire a last minute ticket though. And you have a higher chance too if you don't go during the busy season. Oh well. At least the window-shopping will always be available.

    We arrived from Paris to Milan after 5pm, and we were for some reason totally knackered by the time we checked into the guest house we booked. The guest house, by the way, kind of blew. It's really more like a hostel, so we were really really really glad we were only in Milan for a night.

    A girl in tshirt, jammies pants and socks answered the door and led us into a gloomy house and checked us in (a process that involved a lot of confusion over the payment made online). Although that was the first clue to how stinky the house was, we have to give it to the girl. I say "girl" and not the adult version because she looks like a girl. And i'm allowed to call girls "girl" now because i'm 27 years old.

    Anyway, as i was saying, we have to give her some credit, since she knows her way around public transportation in Milan very well. If tourists ask me questions on public transportation in KL/PJ, i wouldn't be able to answer them, i'm sure. Aside from telling us how exactly to get to places for the next day (she even included number of stops and things like that), she also suggested to us to go to a "non-tourist" area to have dinner, which is a short tram ride from where we lived. So i guess it wasn't totally useless that we stayed in that particular area.

    We walked into this street at first.

    And suddenly the little street led us into a whole other world.

    13.5.13 .

    I loveovelove The Balm. Especially their eyeshadows. If you love eyeshadows, you have to check out The Balm, really. But i'm not going to take responsibilities over any newfound addiction.

    OK. As fab as their shadows are, how do their mascaras fare?

    I can't say i know the answer to that, as i only own one of their few mascaras. But let's just concentrate on how this one fares out, shall we?

    The packaging:

    7.5.13 .

    Why is shopping in Zara Spain so much more exciting and fun than in Zara France and Zara Malaysia?


    • Spain is the birthplace of Zara (and so many other chic European brands)
    • the things in Zara Spain are SO MUCH CHEAPER

    Note: Taking the issue of actually getting to either Spain, France or Malaysia out of the equation, of course. I am also completely aware of the fact that as someone who lives in Malaysia, it would be a lot cheaper to shop in Zara Malaysia than pay for any flight ticket to shop in Zara stores in other countries.

    So what can I show you to prove that Zara items in Spain are indeed cheaper than in France or Malaysia?

    OK, let's take one product as an example. Pay attention to the price written underneath the the name of the product and its reference number, please.

    This is taken from Zara Malaysia website:

    This, below, is taken from Zara France website:

    And finally from Zara Spain website:

    So what can we learn from this comparison?

    The top is RM 199.90 in Malaysia. 1 EUR is about RM 4 (be reminded that all conversions in this post are approximate). So the same top in France costs RM 160. But go to Spain, and you only need to pay RM 120 for it.

    So you're still not convinced? You're like, "That's ONE product. So what?".

    OK, let's do another top. A knitwear now, shall we?

    Zara Malaysia:

    Zara France is next:

    And now Zara Spain:

    RM 99.90 in Malaysia, RM 80 in France and RM 64 in Spain; this knitwear is 36% more expensive in Malaysia.

    I like Zara but their retail prices in Malaysia scare me off more often than not. So it was exciting for me to go a little crazier at Zara stores in Barcelona and Madrid. I didn't forget my sisters, of course not; Shah and I received "orders" from Fiza and Rina who were back in Malaysia, complete with photos of the items they want, their reference numbers (both taken from Zara's official website) and their respective size to assist us in acquiring their clothes.

    I don't think it's just Zara that's cheaper in Spain; it's the same with all the other well-known Spanish brands like Bershka and Pull & Bear, since these three brands are under one retailer company (or something like that). 

    I'd like to show you an example from Bershka:

    A Bershka denim jacket in Malaysia costs RM 199.90.

    In France, it's RM 144.

    The same denim jacket in Spain would cost you RM 120.

    There you go.

    Mango/MNG is also a Spanish brand but I didn't have time to visit it. I did discover Stradivarius, though, which i love! It's under the same company as Zara, Bershka and Pull &Bear (and Massimo Dutti as well). The clothes I saw in Stradivarius seem more feminine and less edgy than Zara's but they're all oh-so-pretty; the prices are in the same range as Zara. 
    Another brand I discovered is Lefties, which is really just Zara (it really is, Wiki says so) that is cheaper, but nothing in Lefties really caught my attention.

    If you love these Spanish brands and just happen to be visiting Spain, I would suggest you stock up! 

    A good tip before you go: have a look at the websites beforehand and decide what you really must get your hands on because that could save a LOT of time. Knowing your exact size would pay off too. 

    While I was going around deciding what to get (aside from the four I've noted from the website), Shah got their staff to help us get Fiza and Rina's "orders" by showing them photos and reference numbers and giving them the exact sizes. This proved to be a major time-saver. Some of the things were not available in store so once in a while, the staffs, which are quick and willing to assist, would take out their walkie talkie, barked some Spanish words into it and 5 minutes later the product we asked for arrived out of nowhere and into our hands. Amazing!

    Two other things to note before going shopping:
    • The stores in Spain (and possibly other parts of Europe) are always crowded

    Zara in Malaysia gets crazy during sales but Zara stores in Paris, Barcelona and Madrid are pretty much packed at all timesit is that immensely popular. You can bet on long queues before finally being able to pay for your items.
    I went into a Zara branch around 9:30pm in Madrid and there were a lot less people than during the day but shopping in half an hour isn't that much fun. If you can avoid shopping during the weekend, try doing that.

    • The stores might be closed on Sundays 

    Most major stores were closed when we were in Barcelona on one Sunday, so that might be something you want to check out before you dedicate an entire weekend to shopping. The stores close earlier too in Barcelona, around 8pm, like in Paris (and that's on weekends).
    In Madrid however, shopping lasts until 10pmjust like Malaysia, my home sweet home!

    Did you know that Zara is now like the world's LARGEST fashion retailer?

    Some interesting facts about Zara I found out from Wikipedia (thanks Wiki!):
    - They have a policy of zero advertising; they instead invest revenues in opening new stores. 
    Which makes sense, because I don't remember seeing Zara ads ever, whereas ads for Mango and H&M can be found everywhere.

    - There are claims that Zara can get out a new product in just two weeks, compared to average 6-month period of other brands in the industry.

    - The original name, and the name of the first store ever, is 'Zorba', but there was a bar with the same name nearby. So they rearranged and adjusted the name to 'Zara'.

    - 50% of the products Zara offers were are manufactured in Spain itself. 26% of them are made in the rest of Europe, 24% in Asian and African countries and the rest of the world. This is unlike their competitors, which usually get Asian countries to manufacture all of their products. The more fashionable items are made in Spain and Portugal; the labour in northern Portugal is "somewhat" cheaper. Basic t-shirts plus other clothes with "a longer shelf life" are outsourced to low cost suppliers in Asia and Turkey.

    - Annually, Zara produces 11000 "distinct" items, wheras its competitors come up with a meagre 2000 to 4000 items only.

    - This I find impressive and resourceful, so i'm just going to copy paste it: The company can design a new product and have finished goods in its stores in four to five weeks; it can modify existing items in as little as two weeks. Shortening the product life cycle means greater success in meeting consumer preferences. If a design doesn't sell well within a week, it is withdrawn from shops, further orders are cancelled and a new design is pursued.

    If you're heading to Spain, have fun! Don't forget to leave loads of empty space in your luggage! Better yet, go crazy and not bring any clothes and just buy ALL your clothes there!