As a teen, I wasn’t confident. Bullied during my school years, I always knew I was different. I was weird (I still am) and I had a drive that no one else had. People would ask me questions, and I would be too shy to answer them. I was an easy target.

Today, I’m confident, the happiest I’ve ever been, and I don’t apologise for it. Why should I? A journey with insecurities and low self-esteem is extremely hard to overcome. I believe that confidence is something we should celebrate.

The other day, a friend asked me how I developed confidence, and as a result, I’m going to share this personal post with you.

How-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-modelHow-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-model

Being who you are inside & out – loving yourself

You need to accept who you are, inside and out. Never try to be someone else or someone you’re not. You will be forever searching for comfort when all along, it’s within (PS I’m fully aware of how cringeworthy I sound, but it’s all true).

Fall in love with the strengths of your personality. Appreciate your: witty, smart, graceful, happy, motivated, assertive, organised and/or caring self. Dance, sing, speak: do the things that make you feel confident. It’s about being aware of makes you feel insecure and what makes you feel confident. I’ve been in situations where I could feel my confidence deteriorate, so I got up and removed myself. Surround yourself with people who ignite your positive attributes.

Fall in love with the flaws of your physical body. Accept it for what it is. If you’re unhappy with your body, do not whinge or compare yourself to someone else. Fall in love with your body. When someone tells you how beautiful you are, believe them.

How-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-modelHow-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-model

Risks

I see so much potential in my some of my friends that they cannot recognise in themselves because they lack the self-esteem to go and get what they want. Hate to break it to you folks; nothing will ever come to you on a white horse. Smart people do things directly or indirectly to get what they want:

Here are some examples:

Friend A wants to land their dream job, but they don’t think they’re good enough to apply. As Richard Branson said: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure if you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later”. I hesitated for a long time not to quit my secure job to go freelance, simply because I didn’t believe that I could do it. Since then, I’ve had incredible opportunities that I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t take the leap. Weigh the risks, and be aware of what your gut is telling you.

Friend B wants to fall in love, have amazing sex and relationship. They lack the confidence to leave the miserable one they’re currently in, or if single, they don’t think they’re good enough to communicate with that potential partner who could turn out to be ‘the one’. You get one shot at this life. As the saying goes, you don’t ask; you don’t get.

Friend C wants to have a fit, banging body to feel comfortable in, but they’re self-conscious and is scared of people staring at them in the gym. It’s a catch 22. I’ll be honest; no one gives a flying f*ck about what you look like because they’re thinking about themselves. That’s the truth. Do what you want to do without the need to seek approval from others.

How-to-grow-your-confidence-the-wong-blog-monica-wong-model

Learning to stop giving a f*ck about other people think

Aslong as it’s not a situation where your friend is trying to get you out of danger with their advice, then do not give a flying what people think. If people don’t like it, they can back off. You’re in your situation, not them. You do what you want because it’s what you wanted to do, at the time.

I’ve elaborated on this in my goals post but here’s a refresher.

  • Those who are confident in business are successful because they’re content with failure
  • Those who are trusting in their social lives are sure because they’re comfortable with rejection
  • Those who are self-sufficient in their relationships are trusting because they’re healthy enough to bear the risk of getting hurt

Be comfortable with the bad, to reap the good.

People who attack your self-esteem and confidence are well aware of your potential, even if you’re not. Once you’ve developed confidence, you will notice that you eat, sleep, and feel better.

I hope this post has inspired you to be more confident. Believe in yourself, believe that you can go for what you want and that you deserve it.

Location: Holland Park, London

Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

Burberry Coat | Black Blouse | Leather ShortsQuay Sunglasses | Nars Foundation in Ceylan | Nars Concealer in Ginger | Urban Decay 3 | Loreal Liquid EyelinerLancome Mascara | Red Lipstick |

Follow:

Before we tuck in and dive into my personal experience with Chinese heritage; I have a new restaurant recommendation.

It’s a fancy-pants one. Discreetly nestled on the 5th floor of Harrods, I’ve partnered up with Chai Wu to discuss delicious and authentic Chinese food with you.

Craving lavish lunch bites or got a special celebration coming up? Love your classics with a naughty twist? Then this is the place. I’m telling you, if you took your loved ones here, you would score major brownie points.

Best-Chinese-Restaurants-London-How-I-Learnt-to-Love-My-Chinese-Hertiage-The-Wong-Blog-Monica-Food

Best-Chinese-Restaurants-London-How-I-Learnt-to-Love-My-Chinese-Hertiage-The-Wong-Blog-Monica-Food

The interior is divine and #decorgoals. Chai Wu’s design incorporates the five elements of Chinese philosophy: wood, metal, water, earth and fire. I’m going to section up this post to discuss my personal experience with Chinese heritage and how food plays a major part in this.

Earth

If you haven’t read my blog before, I’m Monica Wong. I name my creative outlet ‘The Wong Blog’ as it’s a play on the ‘wrong’ words, *wink*. I’m British, Chinese & Vietnamese. I’m very lucky to have the best of many worlds regarding culture & heritage. I love food. I always have. I believe that if you have a good relationship with food, you’ll live a happier life.

Metal

Food is a showcase of love, and this is especially prominent within Asian communities. Culturally, Chinese parents often struggle to express and communicate their emotions to their children (in comparison to the Western culture). Enjoying food with our loved ones is important, it’s how we communicate our love for one another.

Wood

Chinese food has a diverse and complex history. With recipes and secret cooking techniques fed down generation to generation, each ingredient symbolises an experience.

Fire

In Chinese culture, red is a lucky colour. At Chinese New Year, we celebrate with a special feast. Traditionally, we eat lobster for luck, dumplings (symbolising pieces of gold) for wealth, fish provides prosperity and vegetables are for health. I learnt to fall in love with my heritage by appreciating, enjoying and spending quality with my family (a traditional Chinese dinner is bowls of rice for each member with shared dishes at the table) — we made sure we never missed dinner together as a family.

Water

We always drink soup (bone broth) or Chinese green tea to wash down our food. This is to aid metabolism and to learn to appreciate your every bite.

Best-Chinese-Restaurants-London-How-I-Learnt-to-Love-My-Chinese-Hertiage-The-Wong-Blog-Monica-Food

Best-Chinese-Restaurants-London-How-I-Learnt-to-Love-My-Chinese-Hertiage-The-Wong-Blog-Monica-Food

Best-Chinese-Restaurants-London-How-I-Learnt-to-Love-My-Chinese-Hertiage-The-Wong-Blog-Monica-Food

Best-Chinese-Restaurants-London-How-I-Learnt-to-Love-My-Chinese-Hertiage-The-Wong-Blog-Monica-Food

The Food

Okay, so when you visit Chai Wu, I recommend ordering the following dishes above. Brace yourself. My guest & I went a bit overboard with the food. And I have hungry eyes.

The most popular dish is the Beijing Duck. It’s pricey, but it comes with a duck chef and a bonus dish of lettuce wrap or duck fried rice.

If you’re craving a steaming basket of dumplings, we opted for the lobster topped with beluga caviar and prawns with black truffle. Omfg, the Popcorn Shrimp with creamy, spicy dressing is the best thing you’ll ever taste. You can never go wrong with a side of salt & pepper squid.

We couldn’t be happier when the ice steam display came with the mixed sashimi platter. I’ve never seen anything like it; the other sushi restaurants need to up their game.

For mains, if you’re into a cocktail of tangy flavours, then go for the Sea Bass with three flavoured sauce. The sweet and sour chicken served with a dragon fruit is most Instagrammble’ of dishes: it’s pink, fruity and cheerful. Veg-wise, we ordered Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) with Oyster Sauce, BTW you’re not a meat-eater, they have a vegetarian menu.

I recently wrote a post on my favourite high teas in London; did you know that Chai Wu offer service this too? You can get ahead of me and book a slot on my funky widget at the bottom of this post.

Be sure to add Chai Wu on your shopping list the next time you’re at Harrods.

Location: Chai Wu, Knightsbridge, London

Red Cami | Black Skirt | Red Lipstick |




Follow:

In recent years, I’ve been fortunate; I quit my job to live the dream of travelling the world.

For my last stop, I couldn’t have wandered further from home, but I have zero regrets: New Zealand is without a doubt, the most beautiful country I have ever visited.

You’ll want to spend every second outdoors. Spend Summer soaking in the white sands and crystal clear waters. Winter is for skiing down mountains, which tower over still lakes.

By the way, doesn’t this image remind you of a Microsoft desktop wallpaper?

Why-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-TravelWhy-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-Travel

Anyway, New Zealand has two parts: North and South. In this post, I’ll split them up into two.

North

My top three must-see places are: Waikato, Rotorua and Wellington. (Bay of Islands looks beautiful if you want to venture further North).

Auckland?

I didn’t feel that Auckland was the best city to visit in New Zealand (unless you go further out into the countryside). I felt it was gloomy and rundown. It’s more of a transfer stop. If you do visit, climb under, around or above the Auckland Bridge. The town centre is decent & I heard the nightlife is good too.

Maori Experience

Learn about Maori history because it’s important and fascinating. Explore the culture & traditions of the Native population. Maoris are friendly and proud people, and I was lucky to of met one person of Maori origin. The most recommended experiences are in Rotorua.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Excuse the pun, but this was a trip highLIGHT. Explore these caves in darkness with nothing but the illumination of glowworms as a guide. The ‘starry sky’ is a serene experience; I highly recommend a visit. You can book it here.

Polynesian Spa

I didn’t make it to any of the spas as I was too busy patting sheep and alpacas, but one of the travellers in my group highly recommended it. There are a few hot baths in the North, but the Polynesian Spa is the most popular one. What better way to relax than inside a sulphurous spring?

Hobbiton

If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, oh little one, you must not skip this one. It’s magical. The film set is huge; I loved hovering around the miniature hobbit-sized door. Don’t miss out on the faux tree! The day I arrived, the staff were ready to quit as I took a picture of everything. Prepare your best Hobbit impression and book here.

Why-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-TravelWhy-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-TravelWhy-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-Travel

South

My top three must-see places are: Queenstown, Wanaka & Nelson.

Queenstown

If you plan on visiting New Zealand, please, pretty please go to Queenstown (and surrounding areas). Everyone loves Queenstown. Everyone. It’s the most beautiful city I’ve ever visited. I can’t you how amazing it is to wake up to the view of mountains, lakes, great food and friendly people in one town.

Wanaka

My best friend took me here because it rhymes with my name. True story. If you love Queenstown, you’ll fall in love with Wanaka. Expect wilderness of glaciers, crystal clear waters, beech forests and alpine lakes. There’s loads to do: hiking, skiing, wine tasting and golfing.

Arrowtown

The well-preserved Arrowtown is a former gold-mining town which historically attracted miners from around the world in pursuit of their fortune. Charming in character; it looks like an old American cowboy town. Go, if you fancy a day out of food, shopping and attractions.

Kiwi Birdlife Park

Being a nature and conservation enthusiast, it was a tweet (ha, I mean treat) that my friend worked at a wildlife sanctuary at the time of visit; I couldn’t leave New Zealand without meeting a Kiwi bird. There are different species of native flora and fauna in this park. Don’t miss feeding time. Book it here.

Fergburger

It’s Queenstown tradition to eat a Fergburger. Now, I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my time, and we have a great range in London. But I can see why tourists and locals go crazy for it. It’s gigantic, juicy & delicious. There’s always a queue, but it’s worth it. There’s a vegan burger too for those of you who don’t eat meat.

Helicopter flight

I didn’t opt for this one as I’m saving this experience for the Grand Canyon. Though, Queenstown is against a backdrop of The Remarkables mountain range; so there’s no reason not to enjoy the view from above over secluded alpine lakes and active green rainforest. Book here.

Jump

The following activities that I’m going to list are not for the faint-hearted. The first being a Skydive – it’s the experience of a lifetime. I’ve never been so scared in my life, but honestly, as soon as you start flying, it’s not scary at all. Take a leap of faith with a Bungy Jump; New Zealand is the home of Bungy. For the view, I would recommend the top of the Nevis. Or, if you’re a proper Daredevil, fly through the air on a thrilling Cayon Swing.

Why-New-Zealand-Is-The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-Earth-The-Monica-Wong Blog-Travel

New Zealand is far from every other country, but it’s difficult not to fall in love with its natural beauty.

If you have a bucket list of filled with adrenaline, then tick it off in New Zealand. Skydiving, caving, bungy-jumping, skiing — it’s the adventure capital of the world.

New Zealand is worth any journey. This list above only scratches the surface of what there is to see and do in New Zealand. In a country filled with adventure and wildlife, everyone will find something to do.

Location: New Zealand
ASOS Bikini | Sunglasses | Suncream | Lipblam |  Clinique Waterproof Mascara |

Follow:

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why I’m giving you another workout suggestion when you’re struggling to make time for a sit up.

There are more than five reasons to start Pilates. A reduction in stress, better sleep and improvement to your pelvic floor (wink) aren’t on this list, but they could be. If you practice yoga, you’ll love Pilates. Now I’m not an expert, but thanks to the lovely team at John Lewis, Pilates babe Lottie Murphy & Hayley from The Nutrition Coach, I’ve discovered some new health & fitness tips, and I’m going to share them with you.

PS excuse my weird feet. No amount of photoshop can save them.

Pilates

Breathing

Pilates is a mind-body workout, it emphasises on proper breathing techniques. You’ll be surprised at the number of people who do not breathe properly during workouts. I was encouraged to breathe through the nose and exhale via the mouth.

Total Body Workout

Pilates works the body in a practical way; the movements are designed to prepare you for the physical challenges of daily life. The sequences encourage the use of all muscles in the body.

Core Stability & Postural Alignment

Many of us suffer from poor posture. Pilates teaches you to maintain optimum alignment in the spine and core.

Muscle Tone and Strength

Pilates elongates and strengthens the body, developing muscle elasticity and joint mobility. Due to the nature of holding positions for extended periods of time, you’ll improve your stamina.

Improved Body Awareness

Pilates encourages you to be aware of your body. In practice, you’ll notice how far you can push yourself and which areas of the body that you should pay particular attention.

Smoothies

As part of the John Lewis Wellbeing Campaign, we made delicious smoothies at the Oxo Tower (recipes below).

There are more smoothie and juice ingredients that you can pop into your blender than you think. Let’s start with the basics. Add in your favourite: fruits, vegetables & herbs (I love orange, carrot, mint & spinach). Then combine with water or coconut water. If you’re making a berry-based smoothie, it’s a treat with milk (almond & soy are great vegan alternatives). If you have nuts/seeds and olive/flaxseed oil lying around, pop those in too. If you’ve got spices; add a pitch of those (turmeric is a good one as it’s anti-inflammatory). I’ve recently discovered Matcha, Spirulina and Cacao powder; oh boy they’re delicious in drinks.

To cover all your juicing needs, here’s what I learnt from the event:

  • Don’t forget to fill your smoothie cup to the brim! It keeps it fresher for longer.
  • For best results, drink your juice straight away or within twenty-four hours. Methanol levels in stored fluid can develop a naughty formaldehyde, which is toxic in the body.
  • Post workout, the thirty-minute recovery window is when the body is at peak for juice uptake.

As promised, here are the smoothie recipes that we made on the day:

Get your game on green smoothie

This glass of green goodness has lots of leafy greens, teamed with the benefits of electrolytes in the coconut water; this is perfect for an energy boost!

Ingredients
Two handfuls baby spinach leaves
300ml coconut water
One ½ cups fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
One tsp coconut oil
One scoop whey protein powder
½ tsp cinnamon
Manuka honey to taste
One tsp maca powder (optional)
One scoop spirulina powder (optional)

Red ambulance recovery shake

Packed full of antioxidants, this alkaline shake is a yummy way to muscle recovery. The turmeric provides anti-inflammatory benefits which help with body retrieval.

Ingredients
1/3 can coconut milk
100ml coconut water or plain water
1 banana
One scoop whey protein powder
½ cup frozen berries
One handful cos or romaine lettuce leaves (not iceberg as this is the lowest in nutritional value)
1-2 tsp Manuka Honey
One tsp cinnamon
One tsp turmeric

I hope these health & fitness tips have helped you. If you’re a Pilates guru, did I miss anything?

Location: Bedfordshire
Photographer: The fabulous Simon Richardson 
Calvin Klein Bralette | Calvin Klein Shorts | Nike Running Tights | Nars Concealer | Naked 3 Palette using Ecotools Brushes | Clinique Waterproof Mascara |

Follow:

If you’ve been following my Insta, you will of occasionally spotted a tower of treats, followed by my delight of its acquaintance.

Afternoon tea is a British institution; it’s the ultimate indulgence. A few people have asked for recommendations on where to take friends & family in the big smoke.

If they enjoy the sandwich, tea & cake combo as much as I do, then here is my guide. Welcome to my top five Afternoon Teas in London.

Sketch (quirky)

Sketch is magical. The domed hall is passionately pastel pink with a confection of David Shrigley’s artwork on the walls. If you like tea with elegance & slightly eccentric decor, I’d recommend this place. Highlights: mini cheese toastie, cute ceramics with witty messages and the funky bathroom.

Tea Rating: 8/10

Sandwich Rating: 8/10

Scone Rating: 8/10 (warm & fluffy; bonus points for homemade jam) Cake Rating: 8/10 (mini spiced apple tart was my fave)

Recommendation: go with the girls.

Sanderson (quirky)

The Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea Party at Sanderson is a childhood dream come true. There are lots of quirks; I think I said ‘ooh’ fifty times that day. The menu is inside an old book, the sugar is in a jewellery box, and the flowers are edible. The Courtyard Garden has a laid back and chilled vibe. Highlights: different flavours of bread, pocket watch macaron, drinkable dessert and passionfruit ice cream.

Tea Rating: 8/10

Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (sandwiches are great, but I wanted more because I like carbs)

Scone Rating: 7/10

Cake Rating: 8/10 (mini spiced apple tart was my fave)

Recommendation: go in the summer to lounge in the courtyard. Go if you have the dietary requirement as they cater to those.

Browns (classic)

If you’re looking for a side-serving of grandeur and sophistication with your tea, then book a table at Browns. Classy and traditional, Queen Victoria used to have her tea here. I was impressed by the range of infusions. BTW: tea, sandwiches & cakes are unlimited. Step to it. Highlights: Coronation chicken sandwich (I asked for more of those bad boys), spiced pumpkin and ginger eclairs.

Tea Rating: 9/10

Sandwich Rating: 9/10 (bagels & sandwiches are served)

Scone Rating: 8/10

Cake Rating: 7/10

Recommendation: take your parents to this one.

The Goring (classic)

If a Belgravia-based hotel were a person; it’d probably be a smart and a well-dressed gentleman that knows how to charm your pants off. Welcome to The Goring. Kate Middleton’s favourite hotel. It has a more boutique feel compared to the bigger hotels like The Ritz. It’s quintessentially British. Highlights: giant macaron and a blood-orange-mousse dome. You’re offered refills of tea without having to ask.

Tea Rating: 9/10

Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (you get bagels & sandwiches)

Scone Rating: 8/10

Cake Rating: 7/10

Recommendation: Order the Bollinger Tea (Goring’s own special loose leaf tea blend).

Mayfair Kitchen (bit of both)

Set in the sophisticated yet unassuming Mayfair Hotel — it’s the most contemporary of the bunch, and surprisingly best value for money. If you’re not looking for traditional then this is your best bet, it’s afternoon tea with a Mediterranean twist. Highlights: bruschetta, Amaretto or Sicilian lemon scones with vanilla mascarpone. I’m currently craving the white peach and oregano pannacotta as I write this.

Tea Rating: 7/10

Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (you get bagels & sandwiches)

Scone Rating: 7/10

Cake Rating: 8/10 Recommendation: go with your mates for catch ups as it’s got a brunch-y vibe.

The runners up are The Waldorf & The Dorchester. Overhyped: Aqua Shard (the view was breathtaking, but I didn’t like the food). Places I’m planning to go to next: Ritz, Claridges, Fortum & Mason, Savoy and The London Edition.

I hope my post has helped you organise your next gathering filled with scones, clotted cream, finger sandwiches and cakes.  If it has, I’d love to hear from you: we can be friends on Twitter here, Instagram here and Facebook here.

Bon Appétit!

Location: London

Topshop Cami | Nars Concealer | Naked 3 Palette using Ecotools Brushes | Clinique Mascara |

Follow: