Liv Magazine September 2020

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SEPTEMBER 2020 | l i v - m a g a z i n e . co m LIV MAGAZINE

Protein Power

The best veganfriendly protein bars

Retreat Yo’self

All By Myself

How to survive your home quarantine

A local yoga retreat that feels a million miles away


DOWNTIME Get the most out of your extra hours at home

WELLNESS & LIFESTYLE AWARDS vote to win amazing prizes! More details on page 8

SEPTEMBER 05 Editor’s Letter

LIV | NEWS 06 Wishlist

Lovely things we want right now

12 Hot Right Now

New happenings on the wellness scene

14 Fresh Cuts

Plant-based protein bars to snack on

16 Cheat Day

Because #YOLO

18 Reviews

Mediterranean food delivery, an overnight face mask, and a new locally-made yoga mat brand

26 14 Days of Solitude

Home quarantine tips from the inside

LIV | MORE 30 Recipe

Coconut Pomegranate Mojito Mocktail


32 Pamper

The troubling trend of "maskne"

34 Travel

Bliss Body Retreat in Lam Tsuen, New Territories

36 Family

Cyber safety tips for the whole family

LIV | STORIES 20 Time Goes By

How to find more fulfilment in your free time






PARADIGM SHIFT Letao, master astrologer and founder of The Healing Kingdom, shares his insights as to what the rest of the year - the beginning of the Age of Aquarius - will bring.


he term “Age of Aquarius” has been around for decades, and in the second half of 2020, we are welcoming this monumental cosmic event: the two generational planets Jupiter and Saturn will align in the sign of Aquarius for the first time in nearly 400 years. Both planets represent social issues in our lives and how we deal with authority. We are seeing some global transitions starting to take place. Aquarius is the sign of innovation, technology, and social revolution. We will behold the beginning of many new advancements in technology, medicine, and humanitarian achievements. As individuals, it is time for us to challenge obsolete beliefs, and embrace unconventional ideas for the greater good.Continue championing your favourite causes; any contributions to community causes will be rewarded at this time. Try to be more objective and patient in October and November, when Mars and Mercury are both in retrograde. Sometimes when we simply shift our viewpoint, we surprisingly discover a whole new world. Are you looking for clarity as the world faces new, unprecedented challenges? Letao offers tarot counselling sessions, with many happy customers who have benefitted from his wisdom over the years:

BEATRICE C. A true professional and knowledgeable spiritual counsellor. Be prepared with a few key areas you need guidance on and you will walk away with a clearer picture in mind. Having seen Letao for a few years, I highly recommend him if you are looking for an honest and informative reading from a passionate and caring professional. OLIVIA C. I’ve consulted a few readers around the world in the past, but Letao is by far the best I’ve encountered. He is truly gifted, and his style of delivery is practical, warm and compassionate. I particularly like his personally designed cards, which are used in readings regarding relationships. They are wildly accurate and the reading comes through like he’s telling a story - your relationship story! If you’re after a reading on a relationship, you need to see Letao and experience his magic. TOSHI T. Not only is Letao’s reading accurately demonstrating the situation I was, but also is eye-opening and inspiring to me when I felt lost in my career. He is indeed an excellent counsellor and he guided me to find who I really am. In partnership with Healing Kingdom

6F, 64 Tung Lo Wan road, Tai Hang



+852 9136 0453




hen coronavirus kicked off in early 2020, I (like most people) did not anticipate how much it would affect my life. It wasn’t just the loss of leisure activities, social gatherings, and other small inconveniences, like masks and having my temperature checked 84 times a day. There was a professional cost for me as well, and it became harder to work with the same frequency and as consistently as I had before. My style of working also had to change, given to long periods of time spent at home waiting for COVID-19 cases to come down. We’ve all had to contend with challenges during this year, and my situation isn’t unique or even that bad. But it did force me to examine how I was spending my time, or more accurately, how I was spending all my newfound free time. If you’ve been struggling with the same abundance of spare time, then this month’s cover story has loads for you to pore over. We talk about how to optimize your downtime, turning the unexpected gift of free time into something that not only fills the hours, but gives you some benefit at the end of the day. Find out more about it on p.20. Someone who knows all about free time is our very own Jo Robinson. Liv Media’s Director of Partnerships had to travel home to the UK recently, and at the time of writing was in the middle of her two-week quarantine stint. From making your airport landing as smooth as possible to maintaining your sanity in self-isolation, she has all the best tips and tricks for surviving quarantine. Read more on p.26. If you’ve been jonesing for a vegan-friendly protein bar, we found some seriously tasty and cruelty-free options on p.14 that are all made right here in the 852. And if you’re after something a bit less healthy, we discovered a cookie-mooncake hybrid (p.16) that we’re over the moon for - just in time for Mid-Autumn Festival. From cooking more to leveling up on Coursera, I’ve done my best in the past several months to use my time wisely and see the unexpectedly heavy burden of nothing to do as a good thing. Both a blessing and a curse, when life goes on hold there’s really nothing anyone can do about it - so you might as well just learn how to macrame and get on with it.


Zoe Belhomme gets her fitness groove back with a mum-friendly post-natal workout plan on p.37.

Kate Springer heads for the hills of Lam Tsuen for a new yoga retreat experience on p.34.

Jo Robinson whiles away the hours from home quarantine on p.26.

Sarah Fung reviews her latest beauty find and a new Singaporean food delivery option on p.18.


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Send invites and info to: Makerhive, 10/F, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Kennedy Town PUBLISHER SARAH FUNG DIRECTOR OF PARTNERSHIPS JO ROBINSON SENIOR SALES MANAGER ANSHU RIJHWANI DIGITAL & PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER TERRY HU EDITOR CARLA THOMAS SOCIAL MEDIA STACEY MARCELO ADMINISTRATOR JASMIN BLUNCK GRAPHIC DESIGN TAMMY TAN CONTRIBUTORS KATE SPRINGER, JO ROBINSON, ZOE BELHOMME PRINTED BY GEAR PRINTING LIMITED, ROOM B, 3/F, DERRICK INDUSTRIAL BUILDING, 49-51 WONG CHUK HANG ROAD, ABERDEEN ‘‘Liv Magazine’’ Copyright 2020 Liv Media Limited. The content provided here is the property of Liv Media Limited and may not be reproduced in any part without the written permission of the Publisher. The information provided by Liv Media Limited’s contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or the company. The information provided by Liv Media Limited, or its staff, advertisers and contributors is given in good faith; readers should gather more information before making the decision to purchase any goods or services highlighted here. Liv Media Limited will not be held responsible for any action, omission or error resulting from actions taken on the basis of the information provided here. Please seek the approval of a doctor before following any health advice.


Retail Therapy


Here's what we're crushing on this month



More precious than prickly, this mini cactus room diffuser comes with your choice of three all-natural essential oil blends to calm the mind, body and soul. $118, buy on IG: @tolightandtolive

Proudly local and big on taste, we're huge fans of Cat Street’s trendiest tailors, June Woonamy. We love their off-the-rack goodies, like this sandwashed silk kimono. $3,899 at June Woonamy, 10B Lok Ku Rd., Sheung Wan


Fall fashion trend alert: more masks! Stock up on some of these bamboo face masks, hand-sewn with three layers of organic bamboo fiber that’s naturally antibacterial as well as reusable. $130 from 6


Hydrate without the heft with one of these handy soft water bottles from que Bottle. Made with flexible and lightweight silicone, it collapses to half its size when empty, making it the perfect fit for an already-stuffed backpack. $208 from

Retail Therapy


We love these dreamy urban scenes from local illustrator Don Mak. His first art book, “Once Upon a Hong Kong,” captures everyday life from all corners of our stunning cityscape. $198 from MoMa Design Store


Looking to shave a few seconds off your morning routine? Ditch laces for velcro, with these strap-sporting Italian leather trainers from local footwear brand Andrew Kayla. $1,980 at Andrew Kayla, Shop H311, 3/F, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen St., Central


Sun’s out, sampans out! Show some hometown pride on your next junk (whenever that may be) with a pair of fun HK-themed swim trunks from local men’s resort wear brand Mazu. $1,000 from


These chocolate mooncakes are giving us all the feels in the lead-up to Mid-Autumn Festival! Not only are they made from ethically sourced cocoa nibs, young ginger, salted caramel and walnuts, 40 percent of their sales go to local charities. $288 for a box of four from




in the Wellness & Lifestyle Awards! Cast your vote for Hong Kong's top wellness and lifestyle brands, and you'll be in with a chance to win these amazing prizes!

GRAND PRIZE A three-night wellness break at the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

Courtesy of the spectacular Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, we have a three-night stay up for grabs for one lucky winner! Set in lush rice paddies in Thailand’s northern province, this five-star resort has a strong focus on wellness and sustainability with highly customisable wellness programmes available for wellness-

Wort more thh $39,000an !

seekers of all stripes, from yogis to adrenaline junkies to spa mavens. Included in this prize is a daily breakfast, spa experience, consultation with the hotel’s in-house naturopath, and a wellness lunch or dinner during your stay.

Log onto to vote and win these amazing prizes! 8


A private luxury catamaran charter for six with My Yacht Moments, worth $18,000 Make a splash this summer and embark on the ultimate sailing experience with your own private yacht, exploring Hong Kong's backyard in the comfort of your own private catamaran. This one-day private excursion on a SEAWIND catamaran includes your captain and crew as you set sail for the day to cruise around crystal clear waters off untouched islands in Hong Kong.

An indulgent staycation at the St. Regis Hong Kong, worth $9,900 Courtesy of the St. Regis Hong Kong, we have a one-night stay in a Grand Deluxe Room for one lucky winner. The prize includes complimentary Virgin Canto Mary cocktail for two, a 90-minute Bamboo Energiser Massage for two, and breakfast.

A Flex Intro Pack, worth $1,800 With studios in both Central and Wong Chuk Hang, boutique fitness studio Flex offers an impressive lineup of classes, and is known for its Pilates instruction. Courtesy of Flex, we are giving away an Intro Pack of classes, comprising two group classes, two Allegro classes, and a private Pilates assessment. We have three packs up for grabs, each valued at $1,800.

A Take Control Now Platinum+ Pink Hair Styler by GHD, worth $2,680 Finished in a chic metallic rose, these luxury hair straighteners by GHD are the ultimate styling tool for beating summer frizz. This particular model has been created to raise awareness about the importance of checking your breasts regularly, with $100 from each sale going to the Hong Kong Hereditary Breast Cancer Registry.




Cool Stuff

HOT RIGHT NOW News from the wellness scene


Excuse us for sounding a bit cheeky, but when’s the last time you showed your derriere some self-care? Buttitude is a new HK brand that’s all about that bass, specialising in sheet masks for your gluteus maximus to keep it feeling like a peachflavoured snack. Made with all-natural ingredients sourced from beauty mecca Jeju Island, there are three different hydrogel butt masks to choose from - hydrating, smoothing or purifying. Why worry about one’s backside, one might ask? Surely out of sight is out of mind? Actually, our bums are subjected to a lot of friction from sitting and walking around in clothing all day, and they rarely get the TLC that the rest of our body parts do. So be kind to your behind and slap a mask on that prize asset! Masks cost $87 each, packs of masks also available to order online.


After a precipitous third wave of COVID-19 cases, it looks like quarantine stints could be the new normal for many Hongkongers. Ovolo Hotels just launched their Quarantine Concierge service to help ease the process of anyone returning from abroad who needs to quarantine. The package includes 14 nights at either Ovolo Central or Ovolo Southside, as well as everything else you’ll need to stay happy and healthy while you pass your quarantine stage. We’re talking gym gear (yoga mats, dumb bells, etc.), a curated mindfulness kit (adult colouring books, brain teasers, playing cards), full in-room entertainment package with Alexa and Apple TV, complimentary daily breakfast and sundowners, $1,000 in F&B vouchers to use after your stay - even plants brought to your room for some added greenery! Best of all there’s a dedicated concierge, who can pre-buy and drop off items you might need during your stay, from SIM cards to your fave M&S salad. Rooms start from $900 a night. 12

Cool Stuff


In a recent survey, Mind HK found that 43 percent of respondents reported feeling that their mental health had worsened since COVID-19. Safety issues stemming from the pandemic have kept many of those people from seeking support in the community, which is why Mind HK has launched their Mental Health Relief Scheme. This remote support initiative provides up to three free private online counselling sessions, available in either English or Cantonese, from qualified psychologists, counsellors and therapists who have volunteered their time to help those in need. Anyone is welcome to register their interest in the scheme, but priority will be given to most vulnerable applicants, such as lowincome groups or those in quarantine centres or hospitals. To enquire about the scheme and register your interest, visit the Mind HK website.

Mid-Autumn Festival Our favourite Chinese festival is just around the corner! Remember to keep 25 mooncakes’ distance between you and your loved ones.

Winter Window Displays Oh look, it’s still 32 degrees out, but all the mall boutiques have knitwear in the windows.

Hobbit Feet

We’re living with cuticles in crisis, thanks to the longtime closure of the city’s spas. Send help and nail files!


Go all double-helix on your accessories, with jewellery made from DNA! Local glass-making studio Grazie Murano specialises in different lines of glass collections, and their latest launch project Ciao Memorial Glass Art gives new meaning to “one-of-a-kind.” Using any kind of “biomaterial” - which includes hair strands, cremation ashes, nail, teeth, even fetal cord - you can actually design your own wearable memorial to someone (living or deceased) in the form of a necklace or pendant, bracelet or bangle, earrings or wedding rings, or just a good old-fashioned paperweight. Choose from different design collections, stone colours and details, with each piece handmade by the studio’s artisans who also live-record the jewellery-making process so you’re as involved in its production as you are in the design. Prices range from $1,680 to $13,800.

Mask Litterbugs With universal maskwearing comes mask littering. Yuck. Remember to take your trash home with you!




Looking for a healthy protein fix to keep you going through the day? These vegan protein bars are all made right here in Hong Kong, locally crafted in small batches with whole plant-based foods, and lots of added love. By Carla Thomas

COCO PARADISE Crazy for coconuts? Try Coco Paradise’s Coconut-Sesame Peanut Bar, a riff on their original coconut bar that incorporates powerful plant-based proteins to tide you over between meals or workouts. This powerhouse bar uses sesame seeds, black sesame powder, peanuts and peanut butter to amp up the protein and fiber, as well as coconut flakes and pure maple syrup to keep it sweet and snackable. Costs $28 per bar, $160 for 6, or $300 for 12.

PURA VIDA Our fave artisanal granola brand is getting into the bar game! Pura Vida’s Peanut Butter Cherries Granola Bar mixes it up with fiber-rich cherries and dates, as well as peanuts, pumpkin seeds and almonds that add up to a whopping nine grams of plant-based protein per bar. Added brownie points for a smooth, peanut-buttery taste that satisfies those mid-afternoon sugar cravings like nobody’s business. Costs $28 per bar. 14



SUPHIA’S FUNCTIONAL FOODS Exactly what it says on the tin, Suphia’s Functional Foods is all about giving you the superfood goods to help you function better in your daily life. All their bars are organic, gluten-free and vegan, and they offer a keto range for anyone on a ketogenic diet. The Keto Coco Peanut Butter bar serves up nearly 10 grams of protein thanks to pea protein and almond, plus MCT oil to help promote fullness and weight loss. Costs $45 per bar or $260 for 6.

FOODCRAFT Harness the raw-some power of activated nuts and seeds! FoodCraft’s Organic Maple Pecan & Cranberry Rawnola Bar is a sprouted nut and seed winner for anyone with food sensitivities or allergies. It’s easy on the glycemic index, using natural sweeteners like coconut sugar and dried fruits, and also gives you a modest protein fix thanks to pecans, cashews, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Costs $38 per bar or $126 for 6.

Blending social distancing with dining out, FAM in West Kowloon Cultural District is offering a picnic set package that guests can take away and enjoy on the grassy, open air grounds of West Kowloon Art Park. The Picnic Set Takeaway for two includes some of the restaurant’s signature dim sum - think caviar-stuffed dumplings and pork buns with a buttered charcoal crust top - as well as a choice of soft drinks, juice or beer for just $498. Beach chairs and roll-out mats rentals are also available to make it the real authentic picnic experience. G/F, 22 Museum Drive, West Kowloon Cultural District, Kowloon

MERAKI GROUP OFFERS MULTI-RESTAURANT MEAL PLANS There are meal plans aplenty out there these days, but we’re a little in love with restaurant group Meraki’s latest offering. Their Meraki Meal Plan lets diners sample signature dishes from all three of their restaurants, giving you variety throughout your weekly meals as well as restaurant-quality grub. Try charred broccoli and smoky hummus from Middle Eastern restaurant BEDU, fusion street food from BrazilianJapanese eatery Uma Nota, and round out your week with a burrata salad and pasta from Mamma Always Said. Meal plans are curated weekly, and a vegetarian option is available. Lunch and dinner plans ring in at $575/week or $1,000/week, respectively, and include a healthy juice shot and dessert. 15



Because life’s too short to always order the salad

IF MOON WAS COOKIE... The Mid-Autumn Festival takes place this month, and to celebrate, local cookie purveyors Baked Indulgence have put together a CookieMoon gift box. Inspired by sweet Chinese flavours that are typically enjoyed during Mid-Autumn Festival and other holidays - think sesame and candied ginger, egg custard, yuzu and longjing tea, and walnut - these soft, chewy cookies are a perfect way to pay tribute to the moon if traditional mooncakes ain’t your bag. The mooncookies come in a pack of six flavours, lovingly packaged in a beautifully illustrated gift box for $298. Available at Baked Indulgence’s IFC pop-up, which is running from now until February 10, 2021.


Sponsored Feature


MATERNITY APP Pregnancy Tracker is a free mobile app with medical advice and useful services for moms-to-be. Even if you are not pregnant now, it is still worth getting to know the service: when the time comes, you will already know what will help you lead a healthy and informed pregnancy.


he homeland of the popular "pocket" assistant for expectant mothers is Russia. The project announced itself in 2016 and in the same year entered the “Top 10” apps in the “Medicine” category. Today, the Pregnancy Tracker is used daily by more than 1.5 million pregnant women in Russia, USA, Canada, South America, Australia and European countries. The popularity of the app is due to the fact that it gives expectant mothers what everyone needs, regardless of which country they live in. The service allows you to get rid of unnecessary anxiety, answers hundreds of important questions about the health and development of the baby and allows you to involve your loved ones in the process of preparing for delivery. The Pregnancy Tracker has charts for weight gain and abdominal growth, counters for movements and contractions, a Market screen with exclusive offers for moms-to-be, a pregnancy diary and even its own loyalty program. But the main feature is the content: the information provided can be completely trusted. All texts in the app are confirmed by experts in evidence-based medicine. Employees of medical universities in Moscow, São Paulo, associations of obstetricians and gynaecologists in America and Asia are responsible for the reliability of the data.

The app can be downloaded from the link

The mobile app meets the needs of both expecting first time moms and expecting moms that already have children. The former receives new, detailed information about the baby’s development and changes in their body, the latter can "raise" the history of the past pregnancy and compare the current indicators with the previous ones.


TEST-DRIVE Liv checks out the newest workouts and wellness trends



Blu Kouzina on Deliveroo Editions

Aesop Overnight Mask The Buzz: We are longtime fans of Aesop, so we were super pumped to receive a sample of their newly launched overnight mask! Touted as an eco-friendly alternative to a sheet mask, this gel-cream forms a light, breathable barrier once applied (thanks to the use of carrageenan, a seaweed extract in the formula), allowing vitamins to penetrate while you sleep. The Mask: Like everything Aesop makes, their new mask smells utterly heavenly. We scooped out a fingerful and spread a thick-ish layer across our face. The product is almost imperceptible and we fell asleep forgetting we had applied it. Overnight, the mask works to infuse Vitamins B, C, E and F to help even skin tone, improve the skin’s protective barrier, soothe irritations and alleviate dryness to keep the skin protected, moisturised and soothed. In the morning we only remembered the mask was there when we showered and felt the film start to dissolve under our fingers. Verdict: This is our new nightstand staple! We often experience skin dehydration and this night mask provides a shot of moisture without blocking pores. It’s officially been incorporated into our regular skincare routine. Price: $920 for 60ml from Aesop stores and counters citywide.


The Buzz: One of Singapore’s most popular Mediterranean restaurants, Blu Kouzina is now available in Hong Kong exclusively via Deliveroo Editions! Operating out of Deliveroo’s shared kitchen in Wan Chai, this Greek restaurant actually has three concepts. First up is Blu Kouzina, which serves authentic, organic Mediterranean cuisine, from indulgent dips and starters to meat platters and fresh salads. For the health-conscious, there’s VIOS, which offers mediterranean bowls that are perfect for a post-gym meal. And then there’s Lucky Souvlaki, which does meaty gyros stuffed with fries not so healthy but still delicious! The Meal: Eager to sample a bit of everything, we laid out our order family-style, with a tantalising spread of bowls, salads, dips and meats. All the meat from Blu Kouzina is grass fed and top quality, which we’re always glad to see. Special mention to the VIOS bowls, which are right up our alley with an even mix of healthy proteins, grains and greens. There are several plant-based options, too. Don’t like the look of any of the pre-made bowls? You can completely customise your own with a combination of sides, dips, greens, grains, proteins and sauces. Price: Pre-made bowls range from $90-$120, while build-your-own bowls are $120 (regular) or $150 (large). Orders available around Wan Chai via Deliveroo Editions.



our backpack in a small, portable parcel. The mat has a slightly furry finish to it, which caused some concern over how grippy it would be. However, after two yoga practices successfully completed with no major injuries, we can confidently attest to this mat’s anti-slip properties. The Verdict: Nothing but rave reviews from our end over this next-level yoga mat! We were worried this mat would be all looks and no substance, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. We particularly love its thin, lightweight quality; thicker rubber mats are great, but cumbersome to roll up into a tube and carry around. The mats are made with TPE, a recyclable and biodegradable material that’s eco-friendly, so it’s an earthfriendly option as well. Price: $520-$580 Order online via White Labelling’s IG: @WhiteLabelling

White Labelling Yoga Mat The Buzz: We first noticed White Labelling yoga mats on Instagram, catching our eye with bold and colourful patterns featuring jaguars, toucans, and tropical foliage. Always a sucker for a pretty print, we couldn’t wait to see if the mat performed as well as it looked, standing up to classic yogi concerns like grip, sweat-resistance, and portability. The Mat: We received the Chinoiserie print in aubergine, unfurled the mat, and were immediately impressed by its striking visual aesthetic. A tapestry-like design of pink-billed toucans and colourful peacock plumage, peppered with details of cherry blossoms, zebra-esque butterflies and succulent peaches - we can quite honestly say this is the most beautiful mat that we have ever laid eyes on. Not only was it appealing visually, the mat is also lightweight and pliable. We ordered the 1.2mm travel mat - thin but easily transportable - and were pleasantly surprised at how easily it folded, fitting easily into 19

Cover Story


Downtime The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed pretty much all of 2020 so far, but one very minor benefit to this nightmare is an awful lot of newfound free time, thanks to extended social distancing measures. So rather than binge-watching your 157th Netflix series of the year, why not spend your gift of time on a little selfimprovement? By Carla Thomas.

Level Up Put that grey matter to work by enrolling in an online course.

XUETANGX The first Chinese MOOC [massive open online course] platform, this open learning project created by Tsinghua University in 2013 launched its English interface just this year opening up a world of courses from leading mainland institutions, from Peking University to Fudan University and many more.

FUTURELEARN This UK-based digital education platform offers courses and online degrees from 175 British and international institutions, with an immense scope of subjects such as creative arts, media, literature, law, healthcare, medicine, psychology and STEM, to name just a few.

COURSERA The original MOOC platform offers unlimited access to over 3,000 courses. They also offer a range of online courses and professional certifications. 20

UDACITY Specialising in technical education, this website offers paid online “nanodegrees� in subjects like data science, programming and business, as well as around 200 free individual courses for budding technologists.

Cover Story

Get Creative Courses to get those creative juices flowing.

PICK UP A QUIRKY SKILL An online community and learning platform that caters to creatives. Offers courses in fields like illustration, interior design, architecture and photography, or you can peruse the crafts section for more offbeat interests like “Tattoo for Beginners” or “Pop-up Book Creation.”



UPPO OK, so this could easily be LOCA RT L! substituted for ANY musical instrument, but the ukulele is one of the best options for anyone looking to embrace their untapped musical genius! It’s small, cheap, easy to learn and won’t blister your fingers like guitar strings will. The Ukulele Teacher offers free tutorials via his YouTube account, or take a course IRL at the Hong Kong Ukulele Association.

LEARN TO SIGHT READ If you’re trying to improve your instrumental ability, why not dedicate some time to learning how to actually read music? Sight reading apps like Solfeador (Android) or Noteworks Lite (iOS) gamify the process of sight reading music notes as you progress through levels under time - much better than listening to yourself struggle through “Wonderwall” for the hundredth time.

START A BLOG Have your Carrie Bradshaw moment and let your inner monologue spill forth onto the computer screen for the world to read. Blogging platforms like WordPress are free and easy to use, and a great resource for aspiring writers. 21

Cover Story

Yoga & Meditation For the spiritual gangsters.

TAKE A MEDITATION COURSE Insight Timer is one of the biggest meditation apps on the market, with over 55,000 free guided meditations. Upgrade to a paid membership and you can also access a range of 10- and 30-day meditation courses from some of the world’s best teachers. You can take it day by day, or smash out a whole course in an afternoon or evening.



If you’re already a committed yogi, you don’t need to wait for flights to resume to Bali or Goa to finally do your teacher training. Anahata Yoga is offering their 200-hour YTT certification courses online while COVID restrictions are in place, as well as a variety of other yogic specialisations.

BRING SOME WOKENESS TO THE MAT Rachel Cargle is an American academic and anti-racism activist who’s been at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement. Check out her Omstars course, Unpacking Racism, a series of eight short lectures which offer insights on racism, intersectionality and yoga, to bring a little more awareness to both your yoga practice and privilege.

Self-Improvement Unlock the secret of happiness, improve your sex life, and brush up on social justice issues. That’s one heck of an afternoon!

LEARN HOW TO SAY YES, REPEATEDLY OMGYes is an instructional website dedicated to the science of female sexual pleasure and - as the name implies - it’s all about achieving the big O. A paid one-time subscription gets you access to dozens of online modules with technique tutorials and infographics; opt for Season 1 (all about external stimulation), or Seasons 1 and 2, which includes penetrative techniques as well.

DISCOVER THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS Yale University’s “The Science of Wellbeing” has become a global phenomenon ever since it went online on Coursera earlier this year. It offers scientific insights about what drives happiness, as well as exercises for students designed to promote happier habits through small behaviour changes.

BECOME A BETTER ALLY If you were moved by the #BLM protests earlier this year, you can start doing the work today to more effectively support BIPOC through an online antiracism course. Racial justice educator Rachel Ricketts offers online courses covering how to get comfortable discussing and addressing race and racism.


Cover Story

Nerds & Words Join an online book club or learn a new language.

JOIN A BOOK CLUB Whether you’re a natural bookworm or just looking to get into the habit, a book club gives you the chance to discover new works while meeting other bibliophiles. Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf is an online feminist book club that assigns new female-focused reads every two months, with discussion forums on the title held through literary platform Goodreads.

LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE Duolingo is a free (and fun!) app and website that gamifies language learning through short and sweet daily lessons. Choose from 38 different languages and over 95 different courses.

Home Projects Make it spark joy.

MAKE YOUR OWN BEAUTY PRODUCTS Try your hand at making your own toothpaste, deodorant, body butter - you name it! Pinterest is rife with ideas and instructions, or check out some homemade beauty recipes from Liv.


Got a rooftop, balcony, or just an empty SUPPOR LOCA T patch of windowsill? Start your own L! horticulture project by planting herbs or some other easy-to-care-for greenery. Urban farming initiative Rooftop Republic offers grow kits and online webinars to get you growing on your gardening journey.

DESIGN A CAPSULE WARDROBE Capsule collections are a minimalist approach to fashion, limiting your entire wardrobe for a season to a select number of mix-and-match items. It takes a bit of time and know-how to plan and execute, but there are ample bloggers and resources online to help you. You’ll end up with a whole six months’ worth of looks once you do, plus tons of leftover closet space and the added knowledge that you’re not supporting fast fashion practices.

ORGANISE YOUR PANTRY Chuck out your rancid oils and spices spoiled by humidity, and commit to a minimalist “essentials only” larder set-up that will free your mind and shelf space! “Your Kitchen Shelf” is a cookbook and nifty organisational hack that shows you how to Kondo your kitchen by keeping 10 key pantry essentials which can be combined into several easy and budget-friendly recipes.

KNIT SOMETHING Get a head start on the chilly season by making your own beanie or jumper. Pick up a DIY knitting kit from The Knitting Room, which comes with all the materials and instructions you’ll need, even for total beginners.


Cover Story

Giving Back

Food & Booze

Use your downtime to uplift.

Eat, drink and be safely isolated.


SUP Local charities have been hit hard by PO LOC A RT L! social distancing restrictions, but you can still help out online! HandsOn Hong Kong offers virtual opportunities for people to safely volunteer from home, doing good deeds like reading to hospitalised children (via Zoom) or providing phone support to the elderly.

SEND SOME SNAIL MAIL TO SOMEONE IN NEED There are several charitable organisations that receive and pass on letters, cards and care packages to at-risk groups who could use a little extra kindness. The Braid Mission collects birthday cards for children in foster care, while Stay Gold Society welcomes handwritten letters and cards for senior citizens living in long-term care homes, to name just a few!,

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Adventures in Hong Kong Quarantine What’s it like to go through quarantine? Jo Robinson sends dispatches from her home in the Mid-Levels as she braves the two-week isolation period.




s we approach the six-month mark since compulsory quarantine was introduced, it’s inevitable that some Hong Kong residents will need to travel abroad before the year is up. Whilst the prospect of two weeks confined to your apartment or a hotel room may seem impossible, for others it’s a small if necessary price to pay to spend time with loved ones during a difficult and uncertain time, with no end in sight. I fall into the latter category. After deliberating over the need to travel back home to the UK this summer, I made the difficult decision that the benefits in my situation outweighed the risks. I booked a round-trip ticket, in the full acknowledgment that I’d be committing myself to a 14-day quarantine period at home. Currently at the halfway point, here’s what I’ve picked up so far…

BEFORE YOU LEAVE HONG KONG Unless you’re from a high-risk country, you’ll most likely be able to quarantine at home so start thinking about what you’ll fill your time with and plan ahead!

Order books and puzzles, or perhaps there’s some DIY projects that you’ve been meaning to do for ages. I cannot recommend enough the Hong Kong Quarantine Support Group on Facebook, which was integral to my planning. Having amassed over 16,000 members in just a few months, the group was created by Farah Siddiqi and Kunj Gandhi, two Hongkongers who saw a need to support those returning to Hong Kong. “It’s become a place to ensure that those who need the help are getting it, whether mental, physical or emotional,” says Siddiqi. “There is very little chance that any questions you have about the arrival and quarantine process haven’t been answered in this group.” I can honestly say without this group, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to expect and it made the entire process far less daunting than it could have been. 27


THE AIRPORT EXPERIENCE ITSELF At the time of writing, all arrivals were being tested in the departure gate area of Terminal 2 instead of Asia World Expo. To make your return as smooth as possible, here are a few tips to bear in mind when landing back at HKIA. • If you’re arriving before noon, bring plenty of snacks and supplies. Pre-midday arrivals are required to wait at the airport for their test results, which can take up to 12 hours. Families might want to check with their airline and see if they may carry fold-up tents in their hand luggage as they come in handy when travelling with children. • If you’re an afternoon arrival, you’ll be transferred to a hotel for a one-night stay while you wait for your results. Meals are provided, however if you have any food intolerances or restrictions, plan ahead and pack some non-perishable food into your luggage. • Download the Stay Home, Stay Safe app and fill out a health declaration form pre-flight, which expedites the entire process upon landing. • Breathe and be patient. The experience itself is super smooth but airport staff are working long hours every day, so it goes a long way to be kind and smile along the way.

HOW I PREPARED Try to see two uninterrupted weeks at home as a positive rather than a negative: more at-home yoga classes, kitchen cupboard clearouts, morning meditations with no time cap. I set a target to reach 10,000 steps a day, and thanks to YouTube dance cardio workouts and marching on the spot while I binge-watched “Selling Sunset” on Netflix, this was an epic success a few days in! Beth Wright, an accountability coach and fitness & nutrition expert, advised me to plan my day religiously. “Give yourself structure as much as you can,” says Wright. “Get up and go to bed at the same time each day, take regular breaks, and build in some mini-workouts.” She also proposed the ambitious goal of completing 500 burpees during my second week; at the time of writing, I am sixty what’s another 440? Food-wise, there are loads of delivery options available, including ParknShop, M&S Food, Eat The Kiwi, Feather & Bone and Pandamart. It’s worth noting that delivery slots can get snapped up fast - don’t assume you can order for next-day delivery. Again, plan ahead. Mostly I’ve opted for having things dropped off by the most wonderful friends who have gone out of their way to pick things up AND deliver treat-filled care packages (pictured at left) including homemade cheesecake!

MIDPOINT MUSINGS I’ve yet to experience how the second half of my quarantine will unfold, but it’s definitely going faster than I’d anticipated. I doubt I’ll finish even half of my to-do list - rearranging the living room is a fairly lofty task even with time to spare - but I’d rather have an endless list of tasks than feel like I’m clockwatching day in and day out. Ultimately, I’m staying grateful that I’m able to be home in my own apartment with the wonders of technology and the support of caring friends. 28



My Top 5 Quaran-Tips For Staying Positive: MOVE: If workouts really aren’t your thing, how about setting a timer at different intervals throughout the day to do some squats, burpees, high knees, stretches - anything! Moving will help to keep the blood flowing and ensure your cells and organs are getting what they need, which is essential at this time! DANCE: This counts as movement but it deserves a standalone mention. Turn up the volume on your favourite song and for a few minutes, just dance like no one is watching. Because, seriously, no one is watching. PLAN: We’ve said it before. It’s a cliche but if you fail to prepare then you prepare to fail. Sitting around

all day with Netflix on repeat, whilst definitely recommended for parts of the quarantine period, will make the time drag by. Map out what the next few days will look like, with a to-do list to check off. COOK: There are some great meal delivery options in Hong Kong, but this is the time to really brush up on cooking. Not only that, cooking takes a lot more time than ordering and eating, so it really helps to break up the days. ADMIN: What better way to pass a weekend than by chucking the entire contents of your wardrobe onto the floor and reorganising it to a Marie Kondo level?

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THE GLOW UP News from the beauty aisle


TREAT MASKNE Masks have become an unavoidable part of life in Hong Kong, compulsory as an anti-epidemic measure since July. Paired with summertime heat and sweat, it’s a recipe for clogged pores and breakouts - also known as “maskne”. We speak to Solène Verrot, Managing Director of EstheClinic, about how to keep this frustrating facial problem at bay.

Q What is maskne? Otherwise known as acne mechanica, maskne is a physical type of breakout that results from excessive friction and rubbing. You’ll notice these breakouts anywhere the mask sits: the bridge of the nose, chin and cheeks. Q How can wearing a mask cause breakouts? Masks tend to trap moisture, sweat, oil and dirt close to our skin. The friction of the mask also blocks and clogs pores, leading to the formation of acne breakouts or blackheads. We’re also continually touching our faces to adjust them, leaving behind even more dirt on our skin. Add to this the humidity created by our breathing and Hong Kong weather… it’s a lot for any skincare routine out there to handle! Q Explain what an anti-maskne facial does. We offer an Intensive Acne Removal Treatment for mask-related breakouts, which combines Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) technologies to target different dermal layers and reduce the inflammation and redness of acne-ridden skin. This also kills residual bacteria that cause pimples to surface on the skin.


Q How does it work? One session takes around an hour to complete, and is divided into two parts. The involves IPL, using a wavelength of pulsating light to stimulate collagen production and improve the appearance of the skin’s texture by fading acne scars and reducing enlarged pores. The second part uses an LED photomodulation machine, which uses non-thermal red and blue light pulses to kill existing acne-causing bacteria deep within the skin, and stimulate the body’s healing response. You’ll be able to see an improvement after one session, but it takes around 6-10 sessions for acne-scarred or blemish-prone skin to appear noticeably more smoother and even-toned. Q How can I treat maskne at home? Apart from hygienic precautions - like using a clean mask and washing your hands - you can also try an exfoliating cleanser (only if you don’t have sensitive skin), using a cotton mask, switching to a light moisturiser, and not wearing makeup (no one will notice with the mask on anyway.) You should be able to stick to your usual skin care routine, but pay attention to your mask area by exfoliating, moisturising and trying not to touch it! Costs $2,400 per session of Intensive Acne Removal Treatment, with 50% off your first visit. EstheClinic, 16/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 3615-0919,




The eyes may be the window to the soul, but they’re also the only part of our face that we’re able to glam up these days, thanks to mandatory masks. Natasha Moor is an award-winning makeup artist, famous for her A-list roster of Indian celebs, and her eye makeup line has got us all aflutter. Newly launched at Sephora, the Moor Power Extreme Volumizing Mascara is a long-lasting formulation that’s smudge-proof and water-resistant. A tapered applicator brush makes it a cinch to coat every last lash and can easily be applied anywhere, giving you peepers that pop on the go. Costs $205, available at Sephora.


Vinoble Cleansing Gel ($270 for 100ml) “I love everything that this Austrian skincare line does, but their cleansing gel is seriously the best. It cleans my face and gets off most of my mascara in one shot, too!"



Antipodes Juliet Brightening Gel Cleanser ($260 for 200ml) “I love it because it's a great cleanser for first thing in the morning. It really freshens you up, brightens tired skin, and smells naturally fruity.”


If you’ve been curious about Botox but hesitant to try it out, Dr. Jolie Beaute and Aesthetic Centre is offering a discounted package for anyone new to the procedure. For $1,399, you can try out a modest 18 units of Botox, enough to smooth out annoying wrinkles or fine lines, but without too much commitment or the dreaded risk of looking frozen afterwards. Results last around three to four months, so it's a short-term but effective solution for anyone lamenting the appearance of crow’s feet, frown lines or other signs of aging. The “Baby Botox” promotion will last through September, and includes a free consultation with the clinic’s friendly and helpful medical doctors.

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Drunk Elephant Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser ($250 for 150ml) “This one removes all traces of makeup. I love how there's never anything left behind on my cotton pad when I tone afterwards, so I know it's done the job.” 33


TRAVEL WELL with Kate Springer


’ve been covering travel and wellness for years now, yet somehow have never set foot on a yoga or meditation retreat. So when I learned about Hong Kong’s newly launched Bliss Body Retreat, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. Founded this summer by wife-and-husband duo Vlada de Sousa and Pedro Rui Sousa, the four-day, three-night retreat takes place on a private eco-farm in the mountains of Lam Tsuen, in the northeastern New Territories. Previously a jackfruit plantation, the property is now home to two charming houses, an open-air yoga studio, various outdoor dining areas, plus organic farms and dense forests in every direction. At their inaugural retreat in July, I felt like I was really on vacation - lightyears away from deadlines, coronavirus woes and polarising politics. Here’s the lowdown on the experience, in case you’re also in need of a chance to press reset.


THE MEDITATION Every day, we sat down for two breathwork and meditation sessions - one in the morning, the second in the afternoon - where Vlad would guide us on the theme du jour, be that “grounding,” “connecting,” or “expanding.” I am far from a meditation guru, but I found these sessions to be profound. One meditation even brought me to tears; there was something about the combination of Vlad’s voice, the guided visual journey and the power of the music. I was so into meditation by the end of the retreat that I introduced a daily practice into my morning routine at home (and have stuck to it ever since!)


THE ACCOMMODATIONS There are two different houses on the spacious plot: the 70-year-old Mountain House is kitted out with warm wood and a rustic kitchen, while The River House down the hill feels chic and contemporary. Within the houses, the rooms range from the Japanese-inspired Zen Room to a treehouse-esque Super Suite. They also offer shared rooms, if you're keen to bunk with a friend. HEALING SESSIONS Vlad also provided one-on-one “energy healing chakra balancing” sessions to reset your energy. She listens to you, identifies which chakras need support, then practices a gentle, hands-on body treatment (like a still, delicate pressure), which she says helps to rebalance your energy and remove emotional, physical and mental blockages. It might sound a little new-agey on paper, but it felt very therapeutic in the moment. THE PEOPLE Our retreat leader Vlad and her husband Pedro were warm, knowledgeable, supportive and spiritual without veering into cult territory. An experienced yoga and meditation teacher, Vlad has been running retreats in Bali, Tuscany and Zanzibar for over five years, and it shows. I felt like I could trust-fall into their arms at any given moment - and the supportive attitudes of my fellow retreat-goers only added to the experience. THE YOGA Just before sunset each day, we had a restorative yoga session in the open-air studio. On the last morning, we woke up early for an extra yoga class before the summer heat hit full blast. We had lots of downtime to relax, but I would have loved to do even more yoga, or perhaps a hike or two in the mountains, as I craved a bit more exercise. THE FOOD We were on a strict vegan diet, which took the form of enormous bowls of fresh berries, jackfruit pancakes, apple-cinnamon muffins, chia seed parfaits, seaweed and sesame tofu, mushroom soup, squash salad... every meal burst with colours and flavours. Given the retreat’s luxury price point, I would have loved to have seen an a la carte experience, or the chance to take a vegan cooking class during the stay.

THE PRECAUTIONS Vlad and Pedro hosted a small group of three guests. They required each guest to fill out a health declaration form upon arrival, checked our temperatures, required masks during transit, and provided buckets of hand sanitiser. During meals and meditations, we also maintained proper physical distance. Overall, Vlad and Pedro created a very sensible and safe environment. THE FINE PRINT The retreat costs between HK$3,250 and HK$5,750 per day, depending on the room. Prices are all-inclusive of consultations, transport, services, food, activities and post-retreat support.

Kate Springer is an Asia travel expert who contributes to Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, CNN, BBC Travel, Forbes Travel Guide, Fodor’s, Vice, and more. Follow her travels on Instagram @katespringer. Send travel news to




with Zoe Belhomme

STAY CYBER SAFE We’re all online more these days, thanks to interminable school closures or general pandemic boredom. Whether it’s your child or teen navigating their own digital devices, or perhaps an elderly member of your household who’s not as tech-savvy, it helps to set a few safety guidelines for your family’s internet use. Google Hong Kong teamed up with local illustrator Dustykid earlier this summer to create an engaging and informative cartoon campaign to raise awareness around internet safety for families. Here are some of their top recommendations for making smarter choices online. 1) SAFE BROWSING: When browsing make sure your connection is secure, especially if you plan to enter sensitive information such as a password or credit card number. With a secure URL, most browsers will show a green padlock while the Chrome browser features a grey, fully locked icon. If the website's URL with HTTPS, it means the connection is secure. As a rule avoid making financial transactions on public computers or over public WiFi networks. 2) STRONG PASSWORD: To manage online accounts, choose a strong password for each login. Passwords should be unique to an individual and include a random mix of words, upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Do not use simple passwords 36

like “abcd1234” or personal information such as your name with birthdays. Update passwords regularly and do not reuse the same one across several accounts. 3) TAKE A SECURITY CHECKUP: Protect your Google Account by visiting This provides a list of logged in devices, recent security events, status of your two-step verification process, and list of third-party apps and sites that may have access to your data. 4) TWO-STEP VERIFICATION: A way to prevent hackers from accessing your account, even if they steal your password. This extra strong authentication sends you a six-digit code to your phone or you can set up your phone’s built-in security key for even safer login. 5) SECURE YOUR HOME WIFI: Set a strong password on your home WiFi networks. This is another potential “door” for hackers, as it gives them access to all of your connected devices at home! 6) APP MANAGEMENT: Only download apps from trusted sources and keep using the most updated versions. On Android, there’s a built-in malware protection called Google Play Protect that automatically scans the device and makes sure you have the latest in mobile security.



BACK IN THE GAME After my second daughter was born earlier this year, I had been looking for a way to get back into my fitness routine, but struggled thanks to perpetual gym closures during COVID-19 times. I ended up turning to personal trainer and mum Ashleigh Sewell, who recently launched a 12-week post-natal fitness programme. It’s designed specifically for women who are seven weeks postpartum looking to integrate exercise back into their life. Delivered in the form of a downloadable PDF, the programme takes you back to basics so you can build up fitness and strength in a manageable way. Starting with exercises such as glute bridges and posterior pelvic tilts that help to re-engage your core in a safe way, the programme increases intensity over the weeks so that by the end you should feel confident and strong enough to continue with your old fitness regime (as long as it’s medically appropriate to do so). Each week you’ll be led through two to three 25-35-minute total body sessions and a restorative stretch, with an additional day where you’re encouraged to do another activity that you love such as hiking, swimming or yoga! The Push Programme costs $616, check out Ashleigh’s website for more info on her pre- and post-natal training offerings.


I GOT A FEELING Parents in Hong Kong will go to serious lengths to help their kids get ahead academically. And while it’s important to focus on traditional subjects like science and maths, it’s equally as important to foster your child’s emotional intelligence. Local education entrepreneur Kellie Wong created The Emotional Intelligence Starter Kit, a set of flashcards designed to kick start conversations about empathy and self-awareness. The kit allows you to set goals for each week, practice and set reminders for your child, and reflect on their progress along the way. Learning how to recognise and manage one’s emotions while respecting the feelings of others is a vital and tricky skill to develop, and giving kids a safe communication channel early on so they can practice is a useful, and ultimately empowering, step to take. The 44-card kit launches this month, and if you use code LIVHAPPY you'll get 10 percent off. The kit costs $200.

Zoe Belhomme is our resident fitness writer and new mum. She loves working out, eco-friendly parenting, and partnering with her husband to produce some of the region’s biggest sports events at MBS Concepts. Reach out to her directly with your healthy family news at


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