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About Me

About Me
CrystalPhuong.net is a Personal Style & Travel Blog based in Singapore, written by Crystal Phuong. The blog was nominated FOUR times in Top 10 Best Fashion Blogs in the annual Singapore Blog Award from 2012- 2015, voted as one of the Best Lifestyle Blogs in Singapore in 2013 by Hotelclub.com, and Best Travel Blogs in 2016 by Foodpanda.com. Crystal hopes to connect and inspire young women to lead a healthy and happy life. Be confident, be positive, and be kind.
9 DAYS IN MINNESOTA

9 DAYS IN MINNESOTA



Around March 2017, I lost my job, and I published this photo on my Instagram with a caption "New day, a new beginning. But first, let's take a break." Indeed, I took this "retrenchment" opportunity to have the longest break I've ever had by far. It was almost four months of traveling nonstop. First, I went to Yogyakarta, Indonesia then flew to Ho Chi Minh for the Vietnam International Fashion Week. After the fashion week, I went back to Hanoi to spend one week with the family before I headed to the US. I was so lucky that I got to travel that much, even when I was unemployed for four months. During this time, I came across some job opportunities, but nothing materialized after a few rounds of interviews. Not sure why, but I wasn't even worried about looking for a job. I just kept believing that the right job would choose me at the right time. Leaving the stress behind, I took 30- hour flight to Maple Grove, Minneapolis, to visit the boyfriend's house for the first time.  

I didn't know what to expect. Many friends asked me, "What's there in Minneapolis?"- "I don't know. I'm going to find out", I told them. Perhaps, because I did not expect anything before the trip, everything turned out to perfect for me.

The weather was beautiful in August in Minneapolis. I started my morning with a cup of coffee, egg, and toast looking at this beautiful backyard. 


Then, we went for a walk around to explore the Maple Grove neighborhood. The air was crisp; the road was empty, and the scenery was breathtaking. I still remember very well how beautiful the houses there. 


During the days that Ken didn't have to go to work, he would show me around his hometown where he grew up either spending time at this giant lake near his house or driving around to see his friends for lunch. 





I remembered my feeling while sitting on that high chair looking at this lake. I kept telling myself, "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end". My mind was instantly at ease. I was able to enjoy my nine days in Minneapolis without any stress or worry at all. 
One day I went to the largest mall in the US, Mall of America, for shopping and witnessing the largest indoor amusement park, Nickelodeon Universe.







The next day I went river fishing with Ken's nephew. It was my first time fishing in the river, and it felt like I went on an Amazon jungle adventure. It was scary at first and fun later. We also drove up to Duluth, a port city on Lake Superior in Minnesota, and spent a night there. I thought the lake near Ken's house was massive, but it was only a tiny lake compared to the Lake Superior. 



Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes of North America, is also the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area, and the third-largest freshwater lake by volume. Its area is 82,103 km², and I could feel the waves coming towards me. It looked more like an ocean to me than a lake. It didn't feel real. It was also the first time that I saw a span-drive configuration movable lift, aka Aerial Lift Bridge, constructed in 1901-1905. Watching the giants ships passing through the lift each time made me think of the "timing." When the time is right, it will happen.  


Leaving Aerial Lift Bridge, we stopped by at the Split Rock Lighthouse to explore the beauty of the Lake Superior from a different angle. 




Then, we moved to Gooseberry Falls State Park, one of Minnesota's most popular state parks that has many spectacular falls. It didn't disappoint me with this view.   




Few days before I flew home to Singapore, I spent time at the lakehouse with Ken and his family. It was the first time I experienced an evening with a campfire by the lake. A drink on my hand while listening to everyone talk. It was freezing that night for me, but I felt warm from the inside. 


I also tried to learn fishing, but I realized I shouldn't continue; otherwise, people would get hurt. I tried the casting technique, but instead of throwing the bait into the water, my fishing hook landed on Ken's nephew's shirt, who was standing right behind me. He didn't get hurt, and I couldn't stop laughing. 


Time flies when you are having fun. I didn't know when I would revisit Minneapolis then, and I still don't know now. But I know now why they say Minneapolis people are genuine and friendly. If you look at scenery like that every day, how can you stay mad?






Till next time, Minnesota! 
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VIFW 2017: STREET STYLE IN HO CHI MINH CITY

VIFW 2017: STREET STYLE IN HO CHI MINH CITY


Crystal Phuong in Betty Tran- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh

If you can remember when I had these photos taken, you are truly one of my most loyal follower. I wore these outfits to attend Vietnam International Fashion Week in Ho Chi Minh in 2017. It's been a long time, I know. But these outfits are so stunning, they deserve to be seen on my blog. Besides, the first two outfits were styled by my dear friend, who is also a fashion designer, Betty Tran, I had no reason not to give her a shoutout. 

I had the best time shooting these photos with talented Vietnamese photographers. I admit it was a little dangerous walking on the main road full of traffic, but I had a few people watching the oncoming vehicles from behind to make sure I didn't get hit by motorbikes. But that's what fashion week is all about. It's crazy, adventurous, rushing, and sometimes dangerous, but always exciting. 

Walking along the busiest street in Ho Chi Minh City in this gorgeous Betty Tran outfit made me feel like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the city in my country. Carrie said "As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going."    

That sounds pretty much like me! I just keep going.

(Watch my video at the end of this post) 

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh

Crystal Phuong in Betty Tran- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh

Crystal Phuong in Betty Tran- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh

Crystal Phuong in Betty Tran- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh

Crystal Phuong in Betty Tran- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh

Crystal Phuong in Betty Tran- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh

Outfit 1 & 2: Dresses by Betty Tran
Sunglasses: Linda Farrow

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 2

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 3

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 4

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 5

Outfit 3: Zara boyfriend white shirt (More styles here)
Iris & Ink beaded dress 
Christian Dior handbag
Nasty gal pvc boots
Linda Farrow sunglasses

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 6

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 7

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 8

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 9

Outfit 4: MSGM top and skirt
Playnomore handbag (Thanks to Playnomore)
Sophia Webster candy heels
Alexander McQueen sunglasses 
Carolina Herrera bracelet & Michael Kors watch (more choices here)

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 10

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 11

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 12

Outfit 5: Bardot blouse (Similar here)
Vintage denim midi skirt (similar here)

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 13

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 14

Crystal Phuong- Singapore Fashion Blog- Street style in Ho Chi Minh 15

Outfit 6: Nicholas top and pants
Christian Louboutin gladiators

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SUM UP A DECADE WITH THE BEST MEMORIES OF 2019

SUM UP A DECADE WITH THE BEST MEMORIES OF 2019


 


I apologize in advance for a lengthy post, but 2019 was a very long, exciting, and eventful ride. So, get yourself comfortable and slowly take a walk down the memory lane with me.

At the beginning of 2019, my brother told me that I would have a very eventful and successful year that is beyond my expectation (he is our fortune teller Master in the house). I took his prediction with a pinch of salt. Now that I'm writing this blog post on my hotel bed in Rome, Italy, I have to say, "Boy, I did have a fantastic year indeed!" 

The first thing I did in January of 2019 was to sign up for a Kickboxing class. I'm always interested in learning Muay Thai, kickboxing, or any self-defense, but I never had the motivation to do it. Finally, I had one when I felt like kicking and punching something nonstop to help me release frustration and strengthen my emotions. I wasn't angry anymore, but occasionally still go back to the class for fitness purposes.


One week after signing up for Muay Thai class, I had to fly to Jakarta just one day for a business trip, and Da Nanang right after that for one week. It was my second time in Da Nang and the first time for work. After a 6 hour-meeting with the customer on the second day in Da Nang, I caught a cold and felt really sick. 


There were eight more meetings I needed to attend the following four days. I was coughing my lungs out at night, feeling hot and cold during the day, and not being able to sleep at night. The worst sickness that I've ever experienced in years, especially when you were alone in a hotel room, eating the same room-service food every night, and trying to respond to everybody's urgent email requests. Luckily, my mom flew to Da Nang on the last two days I was there to take care of me and to take me home. I wasn't feeling my best but had enough of the hotel's food, so we decided to have dinner by the beach and watch the sunset before flying home the next day.  


Always love spending a Mother-Daughter time with her whenever I can. 


Two weeks spent at home in Hai Phong during Lunar New Year in February helped me heal. I had a wonderful time with the family and was ready to head back to Singapore to kick start the lunar New Year with a bright and positive mode. I flew to Bangkok in March to train my new colleague for three days, came back to Singapore, and back to Bangkok again in early April for another work trip. 

After Bangkok, I flew to Ho Chi Minh to attend a business conference. Vietnam Fashion Week happened in the same week, so I was able to spend all evenings and weekends to attend the shows and to catch up with old friends.


Then, India was calling. I might have to travel to 11 cities in India in 7 days. As much as I love traveling and visiting new places, the idea of taking my luggage from one meeting, getting in a car, taking another flight to another appointment for five days straight scared me. I delayed all my bookings until the last minute when I knew a colleague in India would fly to all those places on my behalf. It was such a relief. April was the most stressful time that I've ever experienced in my career life. I used to think, "What's stress? I don't have any." While I was very grateful for many big opportunities landing on my lap, I had to do an enormous amount of work. So much that I always stayed up until 3 am or even 5am some days to finish it.  As a result, my body just gave up on me. Then I knew how stressed I was. I couldn't sleep at night; I felt light-headed during the day, I almost fainted in the office while standing up from my seat and my heart was beating so fast. That was the first time I experienced an anxiety attack.  It was scary. When the doctor and your boss give you an order to stay at home and rest for two days without touching the laptop at all, you know it's serious. It hit me, and I quickly spent all the effort I could to take better care of my health. I spent more time outdoor, doing yoga or gyms at home when I can, turned off email notifications on my mobile phone, and tried to sleep early at night. It helped. 



I also signed up for a Scuba Diving course in May and went to Malaysia for my scuba diving test. Thanks to Serene from Cuddle Fish Diver, who kept pushing me to join her diving trip. Otherwise, I don't know when I could cross this off my bucket list. Serene is also a certified and very experienced scuba diving instructor. If you want to learn, sign up for her course here.



After Malaysia, I went back to Ho Chi Minh at the end of May to join my friend at a charity event organized by his media company. We gave out toys, food, and clothes to the unfortunate children who are fighting their battle with all kinds of cancer at the hospital on the occasion of Children's' Day.  My heart ached to look at these innocent faces who suffer from pain and don't know when will be their last day to live. I wish I could give more to them than just toys and food.


June came around so quickly, I brought my family to Nha Trang for an annual family trip to celebrate my biggest deal won. I took my brother, mom, and nephew go snorkeling for the first time. It was their first time doing this water sport, and I'm glad they loved it as much as I did.



After Nha Trang, I flew back to Da Na Nang in June for another business trip and transited in Ho Chi Minh for 18 hours to attend this I'm Diva fashion event organized by Harper's Bazaar. It was by far the most stylish transit I've done.



In July, I took another trip back to Da Nang sooner than I expected, followed by a business trip to Ho Chi Minh city. The half-year flew by, and I finally had my first holiday. August, I brought my parents to Hua Hin for our annual holiday trip, just three of us. It's always been my dream to bring my parents to see the world with me. I'm so grateful that I'm able to make that dream come true now.


After Hua Hin, I flew to Bangkok in September for a work trip.  Three days after I returned to Singapore, my grandmother passed away. I booked the earliest flight the next morning after I received the news to fly home. I'm happy that she could finally reunite with grandpa, but I was heartbroken that I couldn't see her one last time and held her hands. She taught me to be strong, independent, and fearless (that's how she survived through war, she said). I will continue to be brave and be kind, just like her.


I was supposed to go to Manila on the day that my grandmother passed away, for a strange reason, the trip was postponed until a few days later. So after Hanoi, I went to Manila for the first time for work. Nine days later, I found myself on an airplane heading, heading off to Jeju Island, South Korea, for another business trip. Two new destinations in October added on my travel bucket list. But the best trip was yet to come.



I came back to Ho Chi Minh for a star-studded event, Star Award, organized by Harper's Bazaar. It was the first time I dressed up like Venus, the Goddess of Love. Ho Chi Minh always makes me feel like I've never had enough time to enjoy all the great things this city offers, no matter how many times I visit.


November, my most favorite month of the year came. I spent a couple of days in Hanoi for work, for a family matter, and a special event- Vietnam International Fashion Week. My schedule was so full from 8 am to 12 am. I was running around town for customer meetings, lunch appointments, fitting with the designer, street style photoshoot, visiting Uncle in the hospital, and getting ready for an event. By the time I got back to my room each night, I couldn't feel my body. I was so tired, but I was still excited to do what I was doing. The adrenaline rush was real. On November 1st, while I was attending Vietnam Fashion Week, the hosts called my name to come up on stage to receive the "Best Fashionista Award.", my Uncle passed away. I didn't know how to process two extreme sides of emotions at one time. I walked up the stage, said "thank you" to the organizer, and tried not to cry. I was grateful for the award and glad that I came back to see him in the hospital the night before he was gone, but sad that I couldn't stay longer to attend his wake. Bali was calling, so I packed my luggage and left home at 5 am the next morning.



You already knew what happened in Bali through my 35th birthday blog post. In short, when I was having the best night celebrating my 35th birthday with the girlfriends, someone broke into our villa and stole our valuable things. Another day, another extreme roller coaster ride of emotion.


After all, I still came out strong and did what I needed to do. Life goes on. I didn't even have time to sit down and feel sorry for myself for so long. By the time I came back to Singapore, I was so busy working with my boss to hold the first Asia Pacific sales conference for our team. It was the first time I co-organized such a big event. From designing event invitation, planning the agenda, selecting the music to hosting the event, managing the 3-day conference, and having a 20-minute presentation to share my 2019 career success story with the team, I felt like I've outdone myself. I could do it.



December, the most magical time of the year is here. I'm writing this blog post on my comfortable hotel bed in Rome, Italy (I never imagined myself saying this). My girlfriend, Stefanie and I had the most beautiful 3 days in Florence. We went to Leaning tower of Pisa (photo below), Siena and discovered the beauty of Tuscany region. I woke up to the second biggest business deal of 2019 closed on the second last day of the year. My heart was bursting with happiness. I was so happy that I could cry. 


Remember this girl in 2009? She first arrived in Singapore, trying to make her living with multiple jobs at one time and only dreamed one day she could afford to buy a $60 dress. Traveling to Europe or the US was just her dream. She struggled to find her voice and purpose.


A decade later, the same girl is now enjoying her best time in Rome, celebrating life with big gratitude. Ten years went by, just like that. I'm so glad I didn't give up when I was at the lowest point in my life. I'm so grateful for many amazing friends, bosses, mentors, who have been guiding and supporting me throughout this journey.


2020, I have many big realistic plans and goals to achieve. But I'll slowly share with you when the time comes. I don't know what the next decade will bring, but I know for sure, as long as I stay grounded, humble, grateful, positive, and kind to myself and people around me, I can overcome anything life throws at me. The last decade was a steady preparation. Now, it's time to accelerate.


If you are reading this, I wish you and your family nothing but good health and abundance happiness. Spread the kindness and love around.

Happy 2020! 

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