Rita goes to Thailand

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Phi Phi islands

I was born in June, I am a summer baby. I love the warm weather and the feel of sand on my feet. When thinking about what to do for my 24th birthday I knew I want to go somewhere – I wanted to travel, experience new cultures and see difference scenarios!

Looking at holiday packages I couldn’t decide where I wanted to go, until we came across a ‘multi-centre holiday’ in Thailand where we could choose two different destinations. We decided to book one week in Khao Lak and another one in the touristic area of Phuket.

In Thailand, June is their ‘winter’, even though it was over 30 degrees most of the days, which means low-season: cheaper deals and less tourists.

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Islands excursion

Khao Lak

This small town in the north of Phuket was very quiet and perfect for the first part of our holiday. The beach was right outside our hotel and to our surprise had barely anyone on it. We felt like we were on a private beach. However, we had a few unpredictable days that were either too windy or rainy not allowing us to enjoy our ‘exclusive’ beach.

We decided to stay by the pool most days, reading books and just relaxing. We got to explore the several shops Khao Lak had to offer. As it was the low-season period some shops were closed until their summer, but it made no difference.

Me and my sister knew we wanted to go on an excursion to see different islands and places, so we did. Thai people are very warming and very caring. On this excursion we had an entertainer on board singing and dancing and interacting with everyone. We got to see the famous ‘James Bond island’ and canoe in and out of caves and sail through the beautiful seas of Thailand.

Do you like what I’m wearing? Go to my Instagram and find out where I got it from.

Phuket

Do you remember when I said low-season meant less tourist? Not in Phuket. We stayed in Kata Beach area in a less impressive hotel but right in front of the beach, which by the way wasn’t ‘exclusive’ like our previous location. It was completely the opposite. Nevertheless, it was good to go back to civilisation and see people.

On my birthday we booked another excursion to go island hopping! I was so excited because we got to see so many beautiful places in one day. This was exactly what I wanted in the first place. We had lunch on a deserted island, we got to see monkeys and swim/snorkel in the middle of nowhere.

Thailand is really something special, but there is still so much to be done regarding pollution. Most of the beaches had rubbish laying around. There was rubbish in the middle of the ocean, rubbish on the sand, rubbish where there shouldn’t be any… Truly heart-breaking.

Do you like what I’m wearing? Go to my Instagram and find out where I got it from.

Would I go back? Definitely. I would love to do it again and explore other parts of the country and even learn more about the culture.

Have you ever been to Thailand? Tell me about your experience.

 

Laser hair removal – my experience

As a dark brown-haired lady, having thick leg hairs has always been a nightmare. Want to go to the beach? Must shave first. Want to wear a dress? Must shave first.

I remember since an early age I wanted to get rid of my body hair. I hated the summer months because it meant showing skin – skin which was covered by stupid hairs. Once I started shaving, it didn’t seem right. Hairs were growing thicker and faster. Shaving in the shower was like trying to do a hard yoga class. Can I reach the back of my leg? Maybe… We’ll find out in the daylight.

Then I started waxing at home, big mistake. It gets everywhere and it’s not efficient. Next step was to go to the salon. Having a professional waxing me was the best option for many years. It does last longer, and the pain levels become less as you get used to it. You have someone working on you so, hopefully, you won’t go around with a random patchy area. Legs, armpits, hollywood, brazilian, arms, eyebrows, upper lip, backside… All familiar terms to me. Going to the salon always meant leaving a few pounds lighter, literally!

The downside of waxing is that you have to let the hair grow so you can wax again, and sometimes you just want to do life, really. For a temporary solution use the razor, but then the hairs grow thicker. NO!! I won’t wear that dress; no, I won’t wear that top. It had to stop!

I started looking into laser hair removal prices. Ouch! The prices hurt more than waxing. I did my research, I went to a few different places, I looked for promotions and I finally decided to do it. After a first appointment and a patch test, I decided to have my laser hair removal treatment done at Skn Clinic in Milton Keynes.

At the time, the clinic had a special price for three treatment areas: full-legs, hollywood area and underarms. I could certainly save the money and buy myself another car (#dramaqueen) but I took the plunge. I mean, after all these years paying someone to wax me may have turned to be more expensive than this investment.

How it works

There are different types of hair laser removal. Some claim to be painless, others more efficient but it will always differ from person to person. “You are the perfect candidate for hair laser removal”, said the lady at Skn Clinic. “You have fair skin and dark hair. It will work wonders on you.” Well, I guess that’s the only positive thing about having dark hair! YEY!

Before the appointment you must shave your body hair on the areas you will be treating and make sure not to apply any products to the skin. If you do, please let them know so it doesn’t affect your treatment.

At my clinic, they have cold air blowing into your skin while the laser is hitting your follicles. It can feel really hot, so it is a good relieve. Once you are laying on the treatment table, the lady will outline the area of treatment to make the process easier.

The treatment

We started with the underarms. Small area, it was quick and easy. I felt the laser, but it was bearable. Then, the lady let me choose with area I wanted to do next.

I decided to go for the one I knew it was going to hurt: my lady bits. As a long-time ‘waxer’ I got used to the pain of having my sensitive skin pulled and beauticians ‘getting all up in there’. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not the first vagina they see, and it won’t be the last. We are all different. I won’t be nice about this. Laser hair removal HURTS, specially on your sensitive bits. Yup! I was sweating and holding my breath, but I was so relieved when it was over. I was asked several times if I wanted to stop but I preferred to just get it over with. “Keep going” I said. I felt it was the best way.

Up next we did my legs. After outlining sections with a white eyeliner pencil, the lady started from the bottom up. The smell of burnt hair was intense at this point. Your hair follicles are being burnt which means no more hair will be growing from there. As the laser got closer to the middle part of my leg, where the bone is placed, I had to fight the urge of pulling my leg away from the laser. It really hurt!!! The skin is thinner, and you have bone there. It got so painful, but I kept going. Once it got past the knee I could finally see what was happening. At this point there was no pain. The upper part of the leg felt like a massage. But then she started on the other leg. NOOOO! More pain, but then it was over.

“We are done. I will put some aloe vera gel on your legs and you’re good to go.” YES! Finally. Seven more sessions to go. Ouch!

The after

You have to have a session every six weeks, as it is the growth cycle of the normal hair. I booked my next appointment and left. When I got home I could see some red bumps on my skin, specially on my hollywood area but the lady ensured me it was normal. I could shower but not with extremely hot water. “Don’t exfoliate until a week and half later, so it helps with the hair growth”.

Now is the fun part! You see your hair falling off. Simply going away without you even worrying. I mostly notice it on my lady bits. The hairs are visible on the underwear and you can simply grab them and they come off your skin.

It’s been over two weeks since I had my first treatment and I can see results. I haven’t shaved since. Oh and yes, now I can only shave. I can’t wax anymore otherwise there won’t be hairs to be burnt, therefore no results.

At the time of my treatment I had a bruise on my leg which the lady made sure not to laser and I can compare the hair growth from there. The hair on that part of my leg is non-treat and is growing normally in contrast with small black spots on the rest of the area. These black spots are hairs growing which will either fall off or grow and be treated on the next session.

Despite the investment I believe this is the perfect solution for my hairy-self. If you struggle like me, do some research, save some money and just do it. The pain is temporary but the freedom I feel is the best part. I don’t have to worry about my hairy legs when I sit down, and the jeans ride up. YAAS!

The most important part is that you are doing it for YOURSELF. No one else! You don’t have to please society or partners. It is all about feeling comfortable in your own skin and everyday life. I feel so much freer and in-tune with my body even if I’m not showing any skin. Do what makes YOU happy!

New in: my closet

I have got a few new additions to my closet and I am sharing them with you. I am a jeans kind of gal, therefore my closet is filled with jumpers, trainers, jeans and some good outwear jackets and coats.

I found a few gems for my winter, I’m totally obsessed.

Knitwear

For Winter, one of my must-have’s is a cosy but still stylish jumper which pared with a pair of jeans will look great for a cold day.

While in London I walked in the new Weekday store in Regent Street and I couldn’t resist this red orangy jumper. What attracted me to it was the balloon sleeves. TAKE MY MONEY!

I’ve never been a fan of the cropped trend, but the contrast of the puffy sleeves and the crop of the knit go very well with some high waisted bottoms. The neck line is not very high, for more warmth add a scarf.

I want it! *click on the link (couldn’t find this colour online)

Boots

Combat boots seem to be back on trend, but they are the only type of boots I’ve always worn. Dr Martens are my go-to during the rainny days, perfect to keep your feet warm and dry.

I was on the look out for a new pair of boots for this season and I found them on ASOS. Initially, they were sold out on my size but the minute they came back I put them on my bag and now on my feet!

The boots go above your ankle, they also have a slight heel and on the back you will find some amazing hoops as details. Such a grungy touch to spice any boring outfit.

I want them! *click on the link

Coat

This season I was also looking for a fitted, classic coat that would go great with any outfit. In fact, a coat that would make the outfit. (check my post about the coats you must get for winter)

After browsing the internet and shops, I found it! Miss Selfridge is upping their game!

It has a military feel to it, but I love it. I am completely obsessed with it. The buttons make the coat look so much more expensive. It also has some details on the shoulder.

I would advise getting your size up since you will want to layer up for the cold days. However, the quality feels amazing and the coat itself is so warm. Add a scarf and some accessories and you are ready for the day!

I want it! *click on the link

Bag

Oh my god! This bag is my spirit animal… Sort of! Except I’m not fake or cheap, hahah. I was browsing the so loved SheIn (check my review) and I came across so many inspired designer bags and this one was calling my name.

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Red is the colour of the season, but I already wear it on my hair… I can’t wear red tops because both colours would conflict, what better way to rock red than on a purse? I freaking love it. You will look so much chique and expensive.

This time the process of shipping was so much quicker than last time. The bag is made of some sort of heavy plastic material but has a good feel to it. What made it for me was the dual chrome of the bag. It is red indeed but then it also has black accents to it. PERFECT! Extra tip for reading this far: You can wear it several ways. On one shoulder, as a cross bag or grab both straps and wear it as a hand bag.

I want it! *click on the link

Disclaimer: I am not a model or a fashion expert.

 

4 coats you must have this winter!

The days are getting shorter, it is raining pretty much everyday and the dark clouds cover the sun every ten minutes.

“Winter is coming!” This is probably the most used phrase in the past months, not only because of Game Of Thrones but also because we can feel the weather is changing. For those who are lucky enough not to live in England, summer is still going strong – I envy you.

I put together four choices of winter coats you must have this season.

The cosy one

If you love the feeling of being snugged on a cold day, this Glamour jacket will keep you warm and cosy throughout the winter. It’s interior is lined with faux fur shearling that is also visible on the outside, giving it a vintage look.

I want it! *click here for link

The ‘let it rain’ one

If you are like me and hate walking around with an umbrella everyday, this coat will be your best friend. In addiction to being waterproof on the outside, it also has faux fur shearling lining on the inside! With this coat you won’t need to have multi layers of jumpers.

I want it! *click here for link

The colourful one

Feeling uninspired on a dark morning? Just throw a colourful coat on and you are ready to go. This Pull&Bear red aviator style jacket will brighten your day and everyone else’s around you. The faux fur collar will keep you warm and stylish.

I want it! *click here for link

The serious one – not really

Black doesn’t have to be boring. An A-line / skater coat will take your outfit from meh to yeah, I look professional. The red sleeves and big buttons will make this coat your office talking point. However, you will need to layer underneath it as it is a thin material.

I want it! *click here for link

Surfing in Venice Beach!

What a better way to learn how to surf than doing it in the famous Venice Beach, California!

While on my trip to America, I boarded on a new adventure: learning how to surf! Actually, this was all due to my friend Maria who suggested me to join her on a surf class she found advertised on the growing website Airbnb. I always thought this website’s purpose was to find cheap accommodations or rent a house for a couple of days for a good deal, but it now features an ‘experience’ option. Basically, people sell experiences all over the world, in my case – surfing.

We bought Garrett’s experience – Surf Guru – which lasted 6 hours and included transportation to the beach, all the equipment needed for the surf class (surfboard & wet suit), plus snacks and drinks! What’s there not to love.

Garrett welcomed us to his house with a coffee, “would you like something to drink?” hell yeah, it was only 8am. But a professional surfer starts early. Garrett explained us that the first thing he does in the morning is to check how the waves are in several places – he has an app.

After loading his car with seven surfboards we were ready for the adventure. We got to the Venice Beach early, it was empty.

The lesson starts on the sand. It is important to know how to stand on the board and where to place your feet. First step: row while laying on the board. Once you are positioned to catch the wave, lift your uper body, followed by bending your right knee and then – if you are skilled enough – place your left foot on the top of the board so you stand up. It is like a dance, but a hard one!

The surf board is heavy and the wet suit will make you feel restrained from your movements. However, the sea water will not feel that cold because you will be moving.

Once you are in the water, all you have to do is try to catch a wave. It’s exhausting but really fun when you manage to ride a wave.

Standing up is harder than it looks. Catching the right wave is harder than it looks and dragging the surf board through the current is harder than it looks. Meaning, surfing is hard, but a good kind of hard.

I had fun trying to stand up on the board, dragging it through the current and specially catching the wrong kind of waves. Safe to say, I drank a lot of sea water but that’s ok, you are learning.  Falling is a part of the process, even professionals still do it.

After a few hours in the ocean, Garrett took us for lunch at a bar/restaurant in the Venice Beach boardwalk.

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My first surf lesson was indeed memorable. Not only was I able to be taught by the best, but also to learn in the best location possible.

If you are travelling somewhere in the future make sure to blend with the locals and try something you’ve never done before. Create memories that you won’t need pictures to remember in years time.

I’ve graduated!

“I hereby certify that Ana Rita Xavier has been awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours First Class in Journalism”, writes my lovely diploma from the University of Bedfordshire 

If you had told me four years ago I would be graduating from a British University with a First I would have said you were crazy. It is amazing what we can accomplish when we have the right state of mind.

Being an immigrant meant I had to work to support myself while going to classes, improving my English skills and discovering a whole new world. I learnt how to be a strong independent woman and what it took to be successful.

This three-year adventure was more than I expected. To be fair, the course was very accessible to me, therefore everything went smooth. I always felt like I could do it, I never felt misplaced or that I was doing the wrong course. ‘I want to be a journalist’ was always the answer to the question asked by the family – what do you want to do when you grow up.

During the course I was able to gain experience working for two big national magazines: Fabulous Magazine and Now Magazine – both based in London. I saw the journalistic world from the inside for the first time and I loved it. I knew this is what I wanted to do for life. However, it is turning to be more complicated than I initially thought.

On July 24th, my graduation ceremony took place in the beautiful Putteridge Bury country house outside Luton. I had my family with me which made the moment so much special.

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picture taken by the Bedford river side

What am I wearing?
Nude Pink Dress – SheIn (check my review on the website here)
Black Studded Heeled Sandals – New Look £25.99

Putteridge Bury was stunning. All the green surroundings made it seem like we weren’t so close to the city, and the rustic feel of the main house felt like we went back a few centuries.

The gown and hat fit in just right with the colours of the scenery. My nude pink dress stood out with the black of the garments and the dark heels gave the look a sophisticated touch. Even though the day was cloudy, we got some good shots to remember this special day.

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with my diploma

As a result of having a First Honours Degree, the University of Bedfordshire pays half of the tuition fees if the student wants to take a Postgraduate course. However, as much attractive as that offer may be, unfortunately the university doesn’t have the course I would like to master in.

I was in the education system for so many years that now that I have finished I don’t know what to do with myself. Applying for jobs in the area I have just graduated seems the be the only thing I do lately. Even though I have been shortlisted for jobs several times, I have never gotten to the face-to-face interview stage. One advice: never give up! I believe I will get to where I want to be someday. If I got to where I am today, I will succeed once again!

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Review: SheIn Clothing

SheIn is an online store where women can buy cheap and affordable pieces of clothing. On their website, it is claimed that their target audience to range from 18 to 35 years old, which I fit in.

As my graduation ceremony approaches, the search for an outfit started. After ordering dresses from ASOS, Boohoo, Miss Selfridge and other brands I tried my luck on the other side of online shopping… YouTube made Shein, in my opinion. The brand has existed since 2008 but only now it became known. ‘Influencers’ – as they’re called – make haul videos showing the products they’ve bought from the website and the reviews are varied.

SheIn is known for its low prices and constant reductions. Everything on this website is on promotion and you can even add more discounts to your final check out. Too good to be true, right? I thought the same, but why not give it a try? Maybe it would prove me wrong… And it did.

Navigating the website

The website is very straight forward. If you are used to buying clothes online, this is just another one. You will have pictures showing the product in, what it seems to be, a professional photoshoot and its price bellow.

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If you like something, add it to your basket. Simple as that. One thing I had more trouble with was sizing. They try to give you guidelines to follow but usually it is a hit or miss.

I ordered the same dress in different colours and the sizing varied even on the same model.

Pink dress                        Red dress

As the image shows, the measurements on both dresses vary. I ordered both in Small and hoped it would fit me.

Next, I decided to adventure myself into the bikini section. It sucked me in immediately. Everything seemed so lovely and Instagram worthy. I knew ordering a bikini would either be a YEY or a NEY, specially after reading the return policy on this section which is written in bright red:

Please Note:  Items in this category are not able to be returned or exchanged, please understand.

Nevertheless, I took a plunge – literally. This set caught my attention – “Plunge Neckline Open Back Bikini Set“.

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This beautiful red summer essential seemed the perfect swimming costume for my holiday. One issue: you can only order the set in ONE size! Which means your bust and hips have to be the same size… Urgh… I have a small chest but large hips which complicated my decision. Did I want to order a small and only fit my top half, or should I order a large and only use the bottoms? Decisions, decisions. I went for a small and hoped for the best, since I couldn’t return it back.

Shipping process

If you want to order on SheIn don’t expect to have your products within days… I placed my order on June 8th and it arrived 20 days later! I am telling you the truth. At some point I thought I had been scammed… But when you order something on this website you have the chance to check how your order is doing, if it has been shipped and so on.

My shipping was free, I don’t remember if this was because I ordered above a certain amount or if it’s free for everyone.

Receiving the products

By the time I received my order the enthusiasm had gone. The dresses fitted great. They complement your body shape and accentuate your waist. I must say the quality surprised me the most, even though I don’t expect the dresses to last long. I opted only to keep one, which I will be wearing for my graduation – I will post about it later on this month. They are definitely as advertised on the website and lovely on the body. I have nothing but good things to say about these products.

Now, on to the bikini set. As I decided to order a Small, it only fitted my bust. I tried to put on the bottoms but nop! It wouldn’t even go up my knees… I ended up selling them on Depop (check my depop review here). It is a shame that it doesn’t allow you to pick and match sizes since not all of us are one size throughout our whole body. If you are more curvy, I advise you not to buy swimwear from SheIn since it doesn’t have much options for your body type. However, the material of the bikini is very nice, it doesn’t seam cheap whatsoever. I haven’t worn it to the beach yet but I hope it won’t let me down. Of course, I had to buy some bottoms to go with it – H&M always there to help me.

Returning

Since I opted to only keep one dress I had to return the other one. This was the most complicated part of the whole process.  If you are used to ASOS, they send you a little return label with the package so you can go to the post office and send it back. SheIn doesn’t do that. From what I could understand they are based in three countries: Belgium, USA and China. Therefore, if you are from the UK you will have to send your parcel back to Belgium and pay for it! Ok, so here is how you have to proceed.

The return policy states that:

If you wish to return the items to the nearest return address, please submit a ticket in your account, our customer service representative will get back to you within 24 hours.

You have to get in contact with the costumer service and let them know which item you are returning and why, and then wait for their answer. They will send you a return label that you have to print off and attach to your parcel, but it has a cost. On my interaction with the costumer service I was told:

If you use the return label,we will deduct $5(the weight of items you want to return must below 2KG) from your total refund.

Urgh.

I have just recently sent my return, so I imagine I will be waiting at least more 20 days to receive my money back.

What do I think?

I loved the few pieces I bought but I don’t think I will order from SheIn again. If you buy something online you expect it to be with you within a week of your order… The quality is amazing for what you expect to get, although I don’t imagine it being the case when the shop first started.

Have you ordered from this site before? How was your experience? Let me know!