Eleven Madison Park

Finally checked out Eleven Madison Park with my fellow Gundam Wing fan sister Melinda aka prodigybombay.

It was a really lovely experience. Coupled with the fact that the afternoon light was beautiful and my iPhone 5 turned out some pretty pictures, I figure I might as well blog it.

The experience was exquisite. From presentation to service to food, you can see just how much thought and care was put into every element at the restaurant.

But what stood out to me most was the beauty in presentation.

I don't think myself a gourmet by any stretch, but I've dined at a number of lovely places during my travels, and the food and table presentation at EMP was definitely one of the best I've seen, enhancing the dining experience as a highlight than merely a point to be complimented on.

Carrot tartare, with ingredients laid out on the side for you to choose what to mix in.

Out of 16 courses I loved the sea urchin snow with smoked cantaloupe and conch the most (top left, 1st pic). It reminded me a little of my time at Saturne in Paris, one of my fondest meals to date. But the clams, tomato confit with lobster, foie gras, roasted duck with apricots and fennel, picnic basket (hehe), malted egg cream, were all amazing in their own right.

The picnic basket was soooo cute. Even though I'd read about it online, it still held a lot of charm when laid out on my table in a room flooded with warm afternoon sunlight.

It took us about 3.5 hours to finish our meal, a little less time than I'd originally expected for a 16-course menu. 2 cookies and a pretzel were considered a course each so those didn't take up time, I guess it was the only real disappointment if you compared it to Guy Savoy's endless dessert trolleys. But I suppose that was just me being a kid wanting more sweets and not getting enough. I need a lot of desserts to go with my food. .__.

At the end of our meal our server was kind enough to request a kitchen tour for us. We managed to take a peek into the kitchens behind a standing table, and a dessert chef whipped up an Arnold Palmer drink, with sorbet and all, right in front of us.

Before heading home we were given a jar of granola! A small but sweet touch and super delicious. Thank you EMP for the souvenir.

All in all, though not a place I can return to weekly, it's an awesome experience I wholly recommend. :D

PS: Feel free to recommend me more places to eat in NY!

Exhibition: A Glimpse at Photo Vogue

Last Thursday I was in Milan for the opening of "A Glimpse at Photo Vogue" exhibition. I attended it with fellow photographer Kirsty Mitchell and her makeup artist Elbie Bayley. So happy to be reunited with Kirsty after WPPI in Vegas in February! Her presence also turned out to be quite vital, you shall soon find out why. But first check out some pictures :D

Galleria Carla Sozzani was an amazingly beautiful venue. Besides the gallery, the complex also held a cafe, bookstore, and boutique with killer fashion. The artists and works on display at the exhibition were diverse and all incredibly stunning. I'm very honored to be part of the show, once again thank you to the team at Photo Vogue and Vogue Italia for putting this together. ♥ 

Front of the exhibition
My work! :D
Someone checking out fellow Chinese photographer Kiki Xue's work, on display next to mine.

Really like this shot because they looked so contemplative. Mhmm.
Is that water? Yes that's water.

I had to explain a few times how the self portrait in water was taken, it was pretty fun seeing people's reactions when I told them about directing my assistant for element arrangements with a tiny mirror. :D

Crowd at the opening.
Ohai. Picture courtesy of Photo Vogue.
Cute message in the guest book, thank you!
View of the courtyard and cafe downstairs
And a wide shot!

I got to meet fanboys and fangirls, and strangers who didn't know of my work who loved my pictures. It was awesome.

I also fainted because I forgot I was allergic to alcohol.

Dun dun dunnn.  

You'd think for how much time I used to spend at a wine shop back in Singapore with people who loved champagne, that knowledge ought to have been ingrained in me by now. But NOPE, total brain fail.

There were servers walking around with drink trays at the show and at one point I thought "hey water!" because it was really warm and I was really thirsty. But It was white sparkling. I drank it anyway without really thinking. 

I'd always reacted badly to the bubbly stuff. At our dinners, people would usually make sure I didn't end up sampling too much, because I'd been known to disappear into the bathroom for half hour periods and coming out white as a sheet. But of course I would conveniently forget it all thinking surely a tiny bit couldn't hurt.

So anyway, a tiny shot glass of it, and half an hour later I started to feel the beginning of something unpleasant. At first I actually thought that I was getting tired because standing in heels was tiring, and it was crowded and too warm. So I headed towards the entrance for some fresh air. By the time I found Kirsty and Elbie there I'd realized that nooo it was my alcohol allergy.

I attempted sitting at at window sill across from the exhibition title wall, hoping for it to pass.

I was firmly in denial and waiting for it to go away.

Then I started started having trouble sitting up and, well, denial is bad for you Jingna.

The bookstore was right next to the gallery, just a few steps ahead, so I walked over and asked one of the store ladies if I could sit at the chair near the entrance, she said okay.

Then it started getting horrible and I was like omg I need to throw up for this to be over but I can't do it here, right in front of a bookstore and gallery! I hated the idea of inconveniencing people and that would be like, totally the epitome of it. Sometimes I'm so proud of my Asian upbringings. Priorities.

As I continued slowly dying inside I also realized how I super needed the bathroom. When it got bad like that, it was always a combination of cold sweat + vomit + stomachache + diarrhea + bonelessly weak + fainting spells. Ugh.

So basically I started melting onto the table next to me when the weakness hit and I knew the only way it was gonna go was get worse. Kirsty or Elbie, my savior! Managed to get me some water and a plastic bag from the store girl, who needed to open the door behind me for it which involved herculean efforts on my part to move the chair, but I made it. No throwing up over super expensive chairs and tables and books. I'd never been prouder of being able to move a chair.

Before I sat down I'd asked if there was a bathroom, the girl had told me downstairs, but because I knew all I could possibly accomplish was roll down the steps, I tried biding my time hoping to muster up some energy, but obviously it wasn't gonna happening. (Denial is bad.) Then at some point I think they finally realized just how severe it actually was and someone said if I could walk a bit, I could use the office bathroom at the back of the store on the same floor. I was like omg THANK YOU SO MUCH and I'M SO SORRY but THANK YOU SO MUCH. 

I stumbled across the store, leaning down on a table once halfway in the middle, telling Elbie when she asked if I needed a hand that I was totally okay making it on my own, like pft, why would I need someone to hold me to walk!? And promptly collapsed at the door to the office. Very nice.

I made it eventually, and couldn't be more thankful that it all happened within time for me to do all the things I had to do in the bathroom, without me having to inconvenience anyone or the store itself too much. And the bathroom was so blissfully clean I could do my super weak and fainting thing on the floor without feeling grossed out much afterwards. I know that's kind of ew, but what to do, dumb of me to forget, consequences in life and all that.

I'm just super glad it happened in the last half hour of the day and that I made it home in one piece.

Exciting show opening story I know. So proud of myself. For the exhibition. Totally.

Here's a pic with aforementioned shot glass:

Look at that tiny thing. Bane of my existence.

And although I just spent 800 words describing my alcohol allergy reaction, be assured that the majority of the time was spent in fantastic company. It's also made me miss doing solo shows. I was asked about Angel Dreams in a recent interview and it reminded me just how long it's been (3 years). I hope Motherland Chronicles will do well so I can have an excuse and a body of work to hold another exhibition. :D

One last look of my images at the show:

Celosia
Porcelain
Motherland Chronicles #7 - Self Portrait in Water
The Coldest Day

Once again thank you so much everyone for your kindness and support, and all those who came down as well, it was lovely meeting you! Love you all. ♥ ♥ ♥

If any of you are in or near Milan and want to see the exhibition, it is running until August 10th:

Address: Galleria Carla Sozzani, 10 Corso Como, Milan
Hours: Everyday 10:30 am - 7:30 pm; Wednesday - Thursday 10:30 am - 9:00 pm

Bintan Lagoon Resort

Sorry I haven't been around for a while, I'll explain what's been going on in another blog post at a later time. Meanwhile, my postcard book giveaway winners have been announced! Congratulations to the winners and thank you everyone for taking part. ♥

As for this post, last weekend I was invited to an overnight media trip in celebration of the launch of Bintan Lagoon Resort's very own ferry terminal. I'm glad for the time off and the opportunity for a weekend getaway. Thank you Yiling for the invite!

From Singapore it takes just 75 minutes to reach Bintan Lagoon Resort's shores. With dedicated immigration counters at its ferry terminal, the arrival is extremely convenient and I barely felt any of the usual hassles of traveling to another country.
Time saved is time earned, the ease of not having to go through more travels after immigration is a big plus in my books. ♥

Besides the obvious swimming, dining, massage and spa, there's a plethora of beach and land activities including more than 30 water sports like snorkeling and jet skiing, and land activities like archery, laser quest and all-terrain vehicles to choose from.

I was very tempted to try archery but my super weak arms will probably not survive at all.

We got a guided tour around the vicinity after arrival, here are some pretty pictures courtesy of Mozaic Hotels & Resorts and Touch Communications. (Only the sky lantern photos are mine)

Deluxe Sea-facing Room

We stayed at the Deluxe Sea-facing room, there is a balcony attached to every room which I thought was a lovely nice touch.

The rooms also come with big, spacious bathtubs which I love, but unfortunately forgot to get a picture of and they didn't provide any. To be honest one of my favorite things about hotel stays are the baths because I never find anytime for them at home somehow.

Floral Suite Bedroom

The Floral Suite is especially pretty with its four-poster bed and a jacuzzi spa bath overlooking a private sun deck. I wish we got to stay in there instead. ._.

Angsoka Villa

For larger groups there are villas available, the interior decors seemed to be freshly furnished.

Verandah Poolside Dinner

The usual events dinner setup is at the Verandah poolside -- our welcoming dinner was on the golf course though, the food was really good, grilled prawns and lamb were especially yummy. 

The resort has two stunning championship golf courses designed by famed golfers Jack Nicklaus and Ian Baker-Finch! Really gorgeous view too.

Golf Course designed by Ian Baker-Finch
Golf Course designed by Jack Nicklaus

Nighttime we got to release sky lanterns at the beach!!! My first time! I was so excited, I've never gotten a chance to do it before ever. T_T

The sky was really pretty when they were more lanterns, but I didn't get any photos of that because I started getting distracted trying to release my own. :D

The next day we had breakfast buffet at Kopi-O. Then was presented with a bunch of things we could do after in the morning.

I kind of wanted to go snorkeling but my dear friend Joyce has a phobia towards fish so we skipped it. T_T In the end we decided to just chill and got a beachside massage instead which was awesome too.

Beach Massage

Can't complain about massages ever. :D

Lunch was at Rice, a bar/restaurant right next to the beach with a view of the sea, it might actually be one of my favorite place at the resort. We had more time after lunch before our late checkout, but we just lazed around because, well, food coma.

Bintan Lagoon Resort - Hotel Facade

Last but not least, I'd like to mention that the resort staff were extremely friendly and it made the stay superbly pleasant. Wrapping up I just want to say once again, thank you so much to Touch Communications for extending the invite and Bintan Lagoon Resort for the stay.

Bintan Lagoon Resort
Jalan Indera Segara Site A12, Lagoi, Riau, Indonesia 29155

Rooms start at S$140++ and ferry services from S$62
Room booking: www.mozaichotels.com/bintanlagoon
Ferry booking: www.journeyful.com/#/Find/Ferry

Zink: It Blooms In The Night

 

It Blooms In The Night
Zink Magazine, Jan 2012

Photography & Styling: Zhang Jingna
Hair: Chloe Doan
Makeup: Angela Peralta
Model: Yuki Matsumura
Photo Assistant: Conan Thai

This was done quite a while ago in the Mojave Desert. We had to drive 4 hours each way from where I lived, it was the longest I'd travelled for a shoot done on the same day. Totally worth it though, I wanna shoot in a desert again ;_;

So thankful for having Conan too, who carried all the gear and luggage for clothes and trekked maybe 2 hours back and forth to the car, also grateful for my awesome crew for putting up with the difficult day, it was really not easy.

And omg I could hardly believe I was getting published in Zink. I remember going through their issues when I first started photography, and wondering if perhaps one day I would get good enough to be published in it too.

It's feels kind of like when my works came out in Fool's Mate and Gothic & Lolita Bible, except this time it's actually related to my work instead of just being for something that was an interest, so in a way it's kind of extra meaningful and I feel so super fortunate for the opportunity.

Some behind the scenes and photos taken along the way:

Toronto Meetup

Managed to squeeze a meetup in before leaving Toronto last week. We had a record number high of people turning up (more than the time in L.A.~!), and I think it's pretty impressive considering I only gave about a bit more than a day of notice to everyone. ^^;

The meetup was held at Scotland Yard, a nice/chill pub/restaurant downtown. Discovered it when Conan visited from L.A., thought it'd be a cool place for a meet~

Scotland Yard on the Esplanade
Despite the size of the group the atmosphere at the meet was really great that day. Everyone was super friendly and cheery. (Big groups can be a little difficult to manage sometimes I think, and if people are shy they tend to just all go quiet together ._.)

I took turns going around cuz the group was just way too large for me to speak to everyone at the same time. Talked a little bit about what I'd been up to the past couple months, with photography, travelling, Suzigo, StarCraft, and other projects. Answered some questions, and also checked out cool works by others who brought their portfolios as well. I super love the setting at Scotland Yard, so here be a lot of photos~ XD

The group settling in
Adding round tables on ends because there wasn't enough room in the original table arrangement
Ted Belton's book "Where I've Been"
Cornelia Klimek's portfolio 
The group checking out some of my new works on my iPad 
More of the iPad!
Gift art from Ted. (Sorry I look creepy here T_T)

The evening went on for quite a while, before I decided to go home to get my markers for some who wanted to get their books signed, as well as pick up some postcard books for those that wanted to get a copy but didn't manage to after it became unavailable from my web store.

And while I was away they decided to fool around with my camera. >_>

And at one point... someone documented the camera was being touched by everyone.

Photo by phoenixleo

Was actually pretty funny, so I decided to take a couple more shots :D

With some of the girls
And the obligatory group photo

That'd be all from me, thank you everyone for coming and it was really really great meeting all of you!! <3

Do also check out the posts by PhoenixleoTed Belton and Tiffany S as well, they have pretty photos too~ :D

Gonna watch Space Battleship Yamato tomorrow! (Even though all I really care about is a live-action Gundam movie ;_;)

Snowing

The view outside my windows when it snowed today.

The whole pavement is completely covered in white now, I feel as if I spent the whole day just watching the snow fall. It's really beautiful. 

I was looking forward to the snow on my way back to Toronto, but it stopped when I returned. It's nice to actually be able to work and finally watch it happen just outside, so quiet.  
Tokyo was wonderful, I felt so happy being back there. I didn't get to go back as much in 2010 as compared to 2009, I'd missed my friends so much. There's something very cozy about our get-togethers that I love, it always gives me this warm and fuzzy feeling that I can't quite put into words, really really sweet. :)
Luna Sea was beyond my imagination, their performance spectacular. I met all the members, and everyone was so nice and down-to-earth it was touching. I'll definitely talk about it a bit more when I can share the photographs, the experience was so amazing.  
There had been a lot going on the past weeks, it's so draining dealing with everything. But hey, I made it through another year at the very least, for that I'm glad, and extremely grateful for the support you've all given me. So thank you everyone, here's to a happy and amazing new year~~ <3

Back in Tokyo

Lights are wrapped around the trees lining Omotesando Dori, it's beautiful, and reminds me of how close Christmas really is.

I was just settling into Toronto after touching down last Thursday, before an unexpected email from Sugizo's manager arrived two days later, asking if I'd be keen to photograph Luna Sea's LIVE in Tokyo at Tokyo Dome this weekend.

The past couple days had been sleepless with my packing, flight from LA to Toronto, meetings, more meetings, retouching, the pending confirmation for my Tokyo trip, and then packing again followed by the 13-hour flight from Toronto to Narita. I was retouching even on the plane.

It feels good to be back in Japan, this trip marks my 10th time in Tokyo.

In some ways, the familiarity makes it feel like a 2nd home to me now. And I think that familiarity is something really beautiful, for it brings back memories, making those moments feel close and real again, and that feeling is precious, almost like a dream, but real. So much memories here.