How I Build My Pinterest

If you ask me which social platform I enjoy the most, the answer is actually not Instagram. Pinterest takes the lead when it comes to searching for inspiration and new content. While the spotlight is heavily on Insta, I found Pinterest to be an excellent tool to drive exposure to web sites and blog posts. Additionally, I love being able to collect ideas and group boards that represent my brand.

The first thing I learned about Pinterest is that, similar to creating content on Instagram, you need to put together boards and pin things that are relevant to you. Being authentic is number one and interacting with the Pinterest community is number two. Don't be afraid to re-pin things you like! This is how good content gets out.

Image from my Flat Lay board

I started out with a board that only contains my blog posts and Instagram images. Not only I pin one image from my recent posts, I pin all the images. That way, when a new member visits my account, they can go straight to the Cece Lam board and find my posts directly.

Flat Lay is a board I use the most. Aside for my own purposes, I create campaign images for an eyewear brand that I often draw from Pinterest. I also share my own images so there could be more reach for my Instagram.
The next group of boards are fashion trends that I've separated into 80s and 90s fashion. Style from both decades are unique and drives much of today's fashion and my own outfit inspiration.
With Celeb StyleDenim Fashion and Urban Fashion, these boards are places where I look for both outfit ideas and photoshoot concepts. The BFF Goals board is one that I would love to contribute to with hopes of doing a shoot with a friend!
I categorize CoastalInterior and Wander together as boards for places I want to visit and decoration ideas for my own personal space. I found a ton of good travel blogs and adventure spots from these boards!
I don't normally seek out photos of food but I'm going to end the post with a Cantonese Food board that houses all of my cravings! Truth is I'll never get sick of dim sum and moon cakes.
Overall, I see Pinterest as a place where we can tell a story about ourselves. It serves as a purpose to discover new ideas and concepts that inspire us. Whether that be DIY videos, lunch recipes or organized flat lays, Pinterest always wins when it comes to spreading really great content. I honestly haven't come across any popular or over-shared pin that makes me doubt that. What's your take on Pinterest?

*I'd love to follow you on Pinterest! Visit my boards and drop me a comment.*

Published on June 14, 2017

The Insta-Famous Bali


Crossed off one of my biggest bucket list items this year: visiting the Insta-famous Bali, Indonesia. I was fortunate to spend two weeks on this trip and we used this opportunity to visit four different destinations: SeminyakUbudGili Trawagan and Uluwatu. (Plus a little bit of Taipei!)

Taipei
Before arriving to Indonesia, we had a  14-hour layover in Taipei. It was my first time in Taiwan and I was very eager to see the city. Arriving late on a Sunday night, we weren't able to visit any of the famous night markets (d'oh!). Instead, we got to try Din Tai Fung. The soup dumplings were extra delicious and noodles were authentic as expected. It's safe to say we went back to our hotel with a satisfied belly.


After getting a good night sleep in Taipei, we hopped on a five-hour flight to visit my first Southeast Asian country.

Seminyak
We decided to make Seminyak our first stop since it was closest to the airport in Denpasar. Upon arrival, we immediately felt the strong humidity that reminded me of my home city, Hong Kong. We were greeted by a private driver hired by our hotel - we couldn't believe that he waited over an hour for us. The immigration process took longer than expected, even with $0 visa fee.

With no Indonesian money on us, we had the driver drop us off at a money exchange location. BEWARE of these spots! Check the rate conversion online and always count your money before you leave. It turns out that the rate is usually better at the airport so be sure to exchange your money before you leave the airport. This was something we learned after and would not want to repeat this mistake again. (I mean, it was only a few dollars here and there but still, all about the principle.)

When we arrived at our first villa, we were instantly greeted with welcome drinks and a team of staff to help with our baggage. We were exhausted and so sweaty at this point (can you imagine!) but we were excited to jump into the big pool and be surrounded by pretty greenery. I ended up getting the biggest mosquito bites of my life that day but luckily they did not leave any lasting scars. Phew!


Our Seminyak villa was both affordable and accessible to main streets. As soon as we finished dipping in the pool, we went out for some well-anticipated Indonesian food. Which brings me to tell you about my first ever Soto Ayam: a chicken soup with vermicelli noodles and tons of spices. So awesome I literally got it every night on this trip (or tried to).

Be sure to rent a scooter with a helmet when you are in Bali. It is the easiest way to get around. Haggle and pay no more than 70,000 rupiahs (US $5.30) per day. And yes, I'd say haggle with anything and everything that has no price tag.

Fancy Spot; Highly Recommend
Potato Head Beach Club
Instagram: @potatoheadbali

Rating: 6/10

Although the streets were exciting and filled with life, I gave our Seminyak visit an average rating because I did not feel that it lived up to the expectations from other Bali posts I read. Additionally, safety was a concern in a crowded beach town and drugs were often offered (any type of drugs is illegal here so please beware). Understanding that Bali is a top tourist destination, I was still uncomfortable with strangers constantly approaching us. Being the first leg of our trip, Seminyak did not impress me as I hoped.

Ubud
We got the same driver to take us to visit both Tanah Lot and Ubud. At first, I had doubts about staying in Ubud given the recent snake eating human case (ugh). I was worried that staying in a jungle that would attract snakes to sneak into our rooms. But man, was I wrong. I was so happy that we went to Ubud because it was absolutely amazing and unforgettable. It was such a 180-degree turnaround, I would live in Ubud if I could.

It took us about an hour to get from Seminyak to Ubud. The resort was fairly hidden so we had to wiggle through tight roads (ones without traffic signals) to find where it was. As soon as we walked up to the resort's lobby, my mouth dropped. The view was so stunning with an endless forest that went for miles and the only sounds you would hear were birds chirping. I laughed when the staff told us the wifi password was "paradise." Because indeed it was. If anyone were searching for the "eat, pray, love" of Bali, go to Ubud. This place was it. 

The resort had a total of 13 rooms and they were all situated mountain-high overlooking the forest and the horizon. Our gorgeous room had its own private pool, patio area and a beautiful marble-tiled bathroom. We stayed for three days and those were possibly the most luxurious days of the trip.


Since we flew across the globe to Bali, we had an intense jet lag that worked amazing for us. We got up at 6AM every morning and had pretty much everything done by 2PM (breakfast, swim, photos, swim, see Ubud, lunch). It was incredible how we packed so much in a day. We got around most of the Ubud center, visited rice fields and bought souvenirs for our families.

I had so many firsts on this trip. One of which was finally getting a massage (what better place than Bali, am I right?). Our resort connected us with a spa that had a soothing atmosphere with so much zen and relaxation, it was a great way to conclude Ubud.

Fancy Resort; Highly Recommend
Udhiana Resort
Instagram: @udhianaresortubud

Rating: 9/10

The best part about our Ubud experience was definitely the resort. It was everything we wanted. It checked all the boxes for a beautiful jungle view, private pool access that I could not get enough of, high-end interiors with superb decorations and of course, photo opportunities in every corner. Aside from where we stayed, I had a great time visiting the Ubud center and felt comfortable walking around during the day and night. We also met other tourists that were extremely friendly, which made me feel very much at home. Ubud was a whole new level from Seminyak! Go Ubud.

Gili Trawangan / Gili Islands
After we said bye to the beautiful Ubud (a very sad day), we haggled with the locals on ferry rides to bring us to the Gili islands. This part was tricky because we had no idea what the average price for both the ferry ride and driver pick up would be. We asked a ton of small kiosks and stores at the Ubud center and found a legit boat and pick up for USD $22.50 per person. That's a pretty good deal in our opinion. We did tons of research on Bali forums with boat quality to Gili so be sure to do your own research here as well. My advice is do not go with the first offer you get and do not pay for anything over 300,000 rupiahs per person. We had offers up to 1 million rupiahs per fare. In Cantonese, I would say "No la!"

It took us about one hour from Ubud to Padang Bai, a town with ferry ports. After waiting for another hour or so, we hopped on the ferry with pretty much all foreigners. Although we did intensive research on boat quality, I didn't expect the ferry to be so well managed. To my surprise, our boat was very clean with air conditioning and even movies to watch. Go Eka Jaya!

We learned quickly that the Gili islands did not allow motors for transportation. The three options we had for getting around were walking, biking or horse carriages. Sadly, I did research (our entire trip was research) on the horses and I was heartbroken by how they were treated on the islands. Even though it was 85 degrees on both the days we arrived and departed, we dragged our luggage from the island port to the villa and vice versa.

This was our second week in Bali and I was already feeling a little homesick. We visited the mini night market on the island and picked up a few local dishes with fried seafood and watermelon juices. By the second night in Gili, we found a pizza spot and I was so happy to finally have some spaghetti and sausage in my belly.


A second "first" on this trip happened here! I went snorkeling for the first time and I felt so brave. I've never been a water-sport person because the truth is... I don't know how to swim and I have drowning fears. I almost turned down snorkeling but my boyfriend encouraged me throughout the whole process. From putting on the snorkeling mask to throwing up in the water (yes, this happened), he helped me feel less scared about the water and less embarrassed about not being able to swim. I ended up having so much fun that I got to feed fishes and witness sea turtles. Towards the end, I got a massive headache from all the motion sickness and threw up really hard (gross...). Still, I had a lot of fun and would definitely do it again.

Fancy Spot; Highly Recommend
Regina Pizzeria
Facebook: Regina Pizzeria

Rating: 8/10

Gili Trawangan was a nice break from Bali. It was more relaxing and time went by a lot slower than I expected. The world felt so small on the island and it was the ultimate vacation spot. I wouldn't stay in Gili for more than a few days but it was definitely a great place to wind down from the trip.

Uluwatu
Our final three days were spent with cliffs and waves. Coming back from the Gili islands, we found ourselves a hidden cliff villa in Uluwatu. Drawn by the ocean view, we visited the Uluwatu beach (it was really just a cliff) that were minutes from where we stayed. The nature of this area was very dangerous and intimidating. We were hiking between narrow concrete stairs and broken pathways to get to the cliffs. There was no way to relax in the sand area because it was mainly an entrance for professional surfers who knew what they were doing. Anyone could be easily pulled away by heavy waves. We ended up visiting the restaurants built around the cliffs and got ourselves a nice sunset view for our first night.

As we got more situated in Uluwatu, we found surfing camps and yoga studios that offer drop-in classes. My boyfriend attended a two-hour surfing lesson that provided all the equipment and even drop-off at the Padang Padang beach (an actual beach that was less intense than the Uluwatu beach). I ended up trying out a traditional flying yoga class that gave me a real workout. Unfortunately, I did end up vomiting because of my weak belly and horrible motion sickness from being upside down. I met a girl from class who was also from SoCal but I never got to follow up with her because I felt so ill. (If by any chance you're reading this, I'm so sorry! I wish I got breakfast with you that day. I was trying so hard not to throw up when we were talking.)

We went to Padang Padang beach by ourselves and rented a paddle board for an hour. I had so much fun being on the paddle board (another first!) even though I fell off multiple times. It was a lot harder than I thought and required so much patience and obviously, balance. I thought my yoga experiences would help but I was only able to kneel and not even stand on the board. Next time for sure.


This was our final leg of our Bali trip and we decided to finish with visiting the Uluwatu Temple. We were handed orange ribbons by the temple staff. This was a much better experience than our Tanah Lot visit back in Seminyak. Not only we avoided the sardines of tourists, we also caught a gorgeous sunset that was the most memorable from our trip.


Fancy Spot; Highly Recommend
El Kabron Spanish Restaurant & Cliff Club
Instagram: @elkabronbali

Rating: 7.5/10

Uluwatu overall was a really beautiful place with tons of local food and fun water activities. I wanted to give a higher rating but I did not enjoy this leg as much as I did in Ubud or Gili Trawangan. Besides paddle boarding for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the heat and the unfamiliarity of the area. I wish I could say I'll visit again but most likely, I won't.

Taipei
Coming back to our two-hour layover in Taipei, I was ready to be home. We sipped complimentary drinks and slurped noodles at one of the premium lounges at the Taipei Airport. The flight back to Los Angeles was very easy and we were mostly asleep the whole time. I found that I still had 200,000 rupiahs in my backpack and will keep them as memory from the trip.

Final Thoughts
Overall, our Bali trip was a great getaway from all the stress at home. I felt extremely fortunate and recognized the immense privilege I had when I visited Indonesia. Although I was raised in a small town in Fuzhou and the village side of Hong Kong, my first experience in Southeast Asia was eye-opening and nothing compared to the environment I grew up in. I felt sadness every time I stepped out of our expensive villas and saw local Indonesians living out of tin-can houses. I felt a deeper sadness when we were approached by those that were desperate for money. The amount of hustle reminded me of my grandparents and parents when they were trying to survive and bring their kids to the states. Even as an American citizen, I would never forget where I came from and would always be aware of the privilege I have as a 1.5 generation Asian American.

One thing I would like to point out is that: social media images of Bali are disappointingly deceiving. While the resorts were luxurious, the immediate streets nearby were either developing or underdeveloped. I wish there were more images that depict the reality of Bali versus ones that only showcased the upscale villas and fancy foreigner attractions.

As a final thought, I most likely will not return to Bali again. Why? Even though the trip was a break from the craziness at home, I found myself with my guard up most of the time and encountered multiple stressful situations that defeated the purpose of the vacation. I'm so thankful that I had my boyfriend with me on this trip because truth is, I would not be able to visit Bali by myself.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

*Recommendations are genuine and purely based on my own experiences. I was not paid to promote or advertise any of the spots or villas mentioned!*

Published on June 4, 2017

TOBI: 3 Summer Essentials

With the temperature on the rise, I am excited to introduce summer pieces that are inspired by the California flair. Thanks to TOBI, these three fabulous essentials are my absolute go-to. 


Now that summer is approaching, I am so excited to finally let go of long pants and leggings. With the humid, sticky weather everywhere, denim shorts are a must when it comes to fighting off the heat! Washed to a medium indigo shade, this pair of high-waist shorts are perfect to style for everyday and casual occasions. Detailed with a rolled hem, these denim shorts are finished with a five-pocket construction and zip fly.


Bringing both West Coast style and a laid-back attitude, I adore this simple shift dress that offers a cami design and a trendy hi-lo hem. Crafted with this year's "it" color, this chiffon piece features a mocha shade that is easy to style with other neutral colors. Complement it with a light leather jacket and a pair of embroidered booties!

With the ongoing 90s trend this year, one-piece bathing suits inspired by shows like Baywatch are emerging in fashion brands everywhere. While I do love a two-piece bikini set, I enjoy sitting and lounging in a one-piece that offers more coverage! This specific monokini features fun lace-up details at the side and a sexy scoop back and reaches down the lower back. If you ask me, this is definitely an essential piece I would recommend packing for your summer getaway!

Published on May 10, 2017

Banana Republic: What Moves Us

I wake up at 8:15am every morning, checking both my calendar and inbox. Similar to other bloggers in the city, dedicating to a full time job and sustaining the blog are two most important tasks. Aside from building my career, there are five things I'd like to share with you that personally move and motivate me.
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1. Family & sisters
I'm 80% my family and 20% me. My sisters are my everything. I grew up with them and we share more than just our bloodline. They motivate and inspire me everyday to achieve my goals in life.

2. Significant other
My boyfriend Devon is one of the best people I met. He's kind, loving and supportive. Most importantly, he moves me everyday to be a better person.

3. Healthy mind, body & soul
I won't be able to conquer anything without a healthy state of mind. I visit the local gym 3-4 times a week to stay fit and in shape. Health equals success.

4. Sustainability
Advocating for ecological balance and elimination overconsumption motivates me deeply. Resolving the world's climate change issue is our mission and responsibility.

5. Community
Having relocated from one city to another, I value the importance of finding a community. Having a voice in a group that I assimilate with moves me equally as anything else.

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What Moves Us is Banana Republic's spring campaign. Banana's classic style and premium fabrics are the driving force behind their brand. I'm delighted to shoot for their newest collection featuring an off-the-shoulder dress, woven belted blazer, and a vibrant printed top. All three pieces are exquisite, sophisticated and effortless to style. Most importantly, they are a breezy transition from desk to dinner, making them the perfect pieces for your everyday wardrobe.


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Shop Banana Republic SS17 Collection:


Published on April 5, 2017

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