Goodbye Cotton.Candy.Queen you will be missed...kind of.

So I've been in a rut for quite a while now. In fact even attempting to write this post just feels so difficult.
A once eloquent wordsmith, I found crafting a piece of writing easy, words flowed effortlessly from my mind and out onto this virtual paper. But now every sentence, every phrase just feels so overly processed and stilted, as though I'm at the starting line of a race running only halfway and then heading back to the beginning again to start over because I didn't get it quite right the first time round.
You might be thinking that this actually seems pretty well put together but honestly these few paragraphs have taken me over a month to write.
So why is this suddenly so hard? I'm still trying to figure that out.
Partially I believe that its because I'm feeling a little lost in myself, since going away to travel and coming back again, something is just missing and I don't feel whole. But that is an entirely different conversation for another post...

Back to the initial point at hand! Lately I've been feeling as though it is time for a new chapter.
Every single time I look at my Blogger and Instagram name, it makes me cringe. Just so Myspace/Tumblr it hurts, to the point where I'm half expecting to see pink hearts start falling from the top of my screen and a 'My Top 8 friends' widget slotted into the sidebar.
Ahh the good old days, I wonder how Myspace Tom is doing??

I initially started this blog 5 years ago, at a time when I was experimenting with my hair to the point of looking like a neon pink troll doll. Dark, dark days 😒

So after finally getting to my goal of pastel, cotton candy pink hair, this blog and little space on the internet was born and I began documenting my musings under Cotton.Candy.Queen.
I created my Instagram account around the same time and wanted to post/blog about how I got my hair to that desireable pastel pink.
Now if you've ever tried to go from naturally very dark hair to any kind of light pastel shade, then you'll know that heavy bleach damage will inevitably be involved and because of that my hair hasn't been pink in over 3 years.
So little miss "Cotton.Candy.Queen" *winces* is no longer really relevant. Who knows why I even clung onto it for so long after my pastel locks departed from my life.
I thought it sounded cute? Different. Ohh eww no.
Truth is I've outgrown it, I'm a different person now and it no longer resonates with me or what I'm about.

Therefore in the spirit of New Year, New Me and all, I'm introducing my refreshed and rebooted blog:

Well, it's my name! (full being Philippa Jade Duma) and I feel that this blog and what I want to write about is an extension of me and my identity. So why not brand this website as such, it is my name after all and it's not exactly going anywhere.
Plus it's got a nice ring to it and it looks good on paper 😉

Welcome to the new and improved Pip J Duma.
A place for Coveted Beauty, Fierce Style and Lustful Travels. I hope you'll sit and stay a while, finding some inspiration along the way.


In this post:

(I have a Primark obsession ok)

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So I recently had the pleasure of attending the FDC Young Designer Awards & Collections Presentation show, held at the Pullman Hotel London St Pancras. The idea behind the awards was to celebrate cultural diversity from up and coming young international designers and as you can imagine the level of talent on display here was nothing short of incredible. 

This was such a fantastic opportunity to network and mix with fellow media creatives and the designers themselves, to get an insight into where their inspiration comes from. 

Glass of bubbly in hand and camera in the other, it was time to work the room, view some of the collections on display and get chatting with the designers!  

Paula Prodan
Paula was the first designer I spoke with upon arriving to the event and the piece she had created was absolutely stunning. Hand sewn, including all of the sequins and I could totally see this dress on the runway or in stores! Something I would definitely buy and wear to a Christmas party!

Paula told me her inspiration behind the design for the dress came from the animal kingdom, specifically Snakes. The pattern and texture of their skin and often iridescent sheen to their markings. Such a beautiful and inspiring young woman, I'm so glad she has finally found her true passion and intends to pursue her dreams of being a designer.
Even more incredible is that Paula was announced as one of the winners of the Special Recognition Award, for the dedication and detail that went into her design!

Check out more of PAULA PRODAN here.

This collection absolutely floored me, it was stunning; Chic yet comfortable, innovative and delicate in the craftsmanship.
Stine Sandermann, the designer, is from Denmark and spent her childhood going to sheep farms with her mother to collect wool. She said that one day she asked what happened to all of the wool that was deemed as 'unusable' and her mother told her that it would be treated as waste and burned, often emitting unnecessary toxins and gasses into the air.
So the fact that she now creates all of her pieces out of recycled waste wool, is simply the cherry on top of a very ethical and environmentally friendly cake!

Rethinking waste is the main focus behind the Sandermann ethos, whilst still providing stylish and fashion forward garments.
Now I love oversized and comfortable pieces as much as I love the glam and daring. To me this is a high end, yet extremely wearable and comfortable collection.

Check out more of SANDERMANN here.

KC Dainty
Fashion Accessories and Bespoke Jewellery created by GIRLBOSS mother of one, Charlene Mohamed.
Charlene's creations she presented were edgy and fierce, I believe she knows her market well and these are all pieces totally relevant to the glitzy and glam festival clubbing culture that you see today! People are shaking things up, being a little more daring with their fashion choices and it's no longer such a taboo to show a bit of skin and express yourself however you feel.
I love the idea that you can take a simple jumper or plain shirt and dress it up with a KC Dainty harness or bralet, changing the style of the outfit entirely. As Charlene put it, you could go to work in your plain black shirt and in the evening simply put a jewelled harness over the top and voila! You have an after work drinks outfit!
Charlene's collection was one of my favourites from the day as I adore jewellery and any kind of accessory that can take your outfit from 0 - 100 in an instant!

Check out more of KC DAINTY here.

Elizabeth An'Marie
This collection was entirely a bit of me! I love comfortable cosy loungewear and thick woollen jumpers, anything that will keep me warm yet stylish!
One of my favourite aspects of the collection was the pearl/white beading details, I felt as though it accented the knitwear perfectly and made it stand out more in presentation.

Meeting Shelby (the designer) was incredible, especially when she told us that she had only recently taken up the hobby of knitting and now hand makes a whole host of jumpers, tops and lounge wear for her line! She was also wearing one of her own designs that she had made herself and I loved that she was repping her own brand! To me this makes a collection appear more realistic and wearable if the designer themselves can wear their own work. It gives the pieces an authentic quality.
The Elizabeth An'Marie brand is all handmade by Shelby in her London home using 100% natural wool.

Check out more of ELIZABETH AN'MARIE here.

Young Designer of the Year - Violet Somers
Violet won this year's most prestigious award with one of the most visually stunning dresses I have seen in a long time! Meticulous craftsmanship and unique folds and curvatures woven into the dress, this is something I would expect to see on an actress at the Oscars. Such an incredibly stunning piece, Violet's win was well deserved! Even more amazing is that she is only 19! 
Violet's vision is 'wearable art' and you can definitely see this aesthetic carried through into her winning collection piece. 

Check out more of VIOLET SOMERS here.

Fashion shows, presentations and awards are always exciting to be a part of but one of my favourite aspects of these events is getting to meet people! I love being able to chat with like-minded creatives, bloggers and business savvy babes and I met so many wonderful people at the FDC event that I will hopefully stay in touch with throughout my blogging adventures!
Shoutout to all the wonderful blogger babes that I met, for sharing the day with me and putting a smile on my face!

Designer - Huan Yang

Radical Designer of the Year Award Winner

Make sure you check out all the behind the scenes action from the event and details of what’s to come by clicking here!

Finally thank you to FDC and in particular Joanna for the invite and the chance to be a part of a great celebration of raw emerging talent.

See you soon Loves

Darocotan Island - El Nido | Shot by Angelito Delos Reyes

SO, I recently returned from 5 of the most magical days of my life island hopping in The Philippines.
This was a trip like no other, cruising on a motorised Filipino native boat you are taken from the pure white sand bays of El Nido, all the way up to the crystal blue waters of Coron. The Palawan region at it's finest.
Exploring pristine coves, swimming in the clearest oceans, sleeping in bamboo huts on the beach and eating some of the freshest most wonderful Filipino food you will ever consume!

All of this and so much more was all possible because of TAO Philippines
(You're going to want to click on that link because it will change your life 👆🏼)

Now if you haven't had the fortune to hear of this company yet, then you are in luck because I am going to be singing their praises all the way down to the very last full stop of this post.


As Tao explain it on their website the whole purpose of this expedition, is just that, an expedition. A chance to truly explore the remote regions of a tropical archipelago paradise. 
Away from the typical chartered routes of mass tourism.
This isn't going to be 5 star luxury hotels with rainfall shower heads and room service but it is going to be a real back to nature experience of how Filipino islanders live their lives. 
And isn't that really the true meaning of travel? To get outside of your comfort zone, see a culture different to the one you know and live a different way of life.

It's all about the basics of living and let's face it that's all you really need. 
Food, water, shelter. 
The glorious scenery and fantastic company is an added bonus!

My boyfriend Harry and I blew our budget a little on this experience but only because it was my birthday mid way through the trip and luckily my family had offered to put money towards it! 👌🏼 
Thanks fam. Best. Present. EVER!
So depending on your financial situation the expedition can seem a little expensive, especially if you are a budget traveller. But as you will quickly come to learn it is worth every single peso and more. All 26,000 PHP of them!
We had heard and read so many incredible things about Tao that it became a 'fuck it' scenario and we just put the deposit down for the trip.
Can you really put a price on the experience of a lifetime?

Base Camp night 1 - 21/03/17

Base Camp night 2 - 22/03/17

Base camp night 3 - 23/03/17

On the Open Tao Expedition, you spend 4 nights and 5 days cruising from El Nido to Coron (or the other way round if you fancy it!), with up to a max of 28 like minded explorers and 7 crew members.
In Tao's experience and now mine, everyone who chooses to do these trips are often well travelled, conscientious and open human beings who are just looking to enjoy life and make some incredible new friends in the process.
The amazing thing about this trip is that if you really don't want to be in close proximity to a bunch of strangers 24/7, you don't have to be. There is still plenty of room for some me time and once you dock in a bay or on an island your time is your time. Do with it what you wish. 
Chill on the beach, swim in the sea, talk to the locals, explore the islands.
This is a chance to get away from it all but it is also the opportunity to socialise and meet a fantastic group of new friends from all over the world!
So don't forget to let go and integrate with your fellow explorers! Realistically you're probably not choosing to go on this trip for 5 days of solitude.  

To say that everyone got along on this trip is an understatement, by the end of 5 wonderful days, heck even after 1 day we were all like family. Looking out for each other, creating new memories and having a ball along the way.

For example on our first night at base camp one (possibly my favourite), once we were all settled into our huts and gathered around the tiki torch lit bamboo dining table. Angelo, our jack of all trades barman, insisted we were going to play a drinking game in order to learn each other's names. This of course involved a special blend of Angelo's infamous jungle juice - if you know, you know.

I think at that point we all secretly exhaled a sigh of 'oh god a let's learn each other's name game' 😒 Here we go. 
But you know what? It worked, it was hilarious and after just 12 short hours of being with these people I will never forget their names!

(There is an intense story behind this team name, so stay tuned 😀)

Kevin, Caroline, Gelo, Cang, Michelle, Daan 1, Erica, Benoit, Sabine, Thomas, Daan 2, Linda, Marijke, Jess, Khadija, Simon, Monika, Igor, Svetlana, Joe

Special mention here has to go out to the crew that we had on our adventure, Romy our expedition leader became like our daddy. Always caring for our safety first but then making sure we were also having the time of our lives.

Angelo (The Barman, bedmaker, all round trickster, Mike 1 (The Chef), Mike 2 (The Engineer), Aaron + Jorlan (The Muscle), Panoy (The Captain)

These boys went above and beyond to curate the perfect expedition for us all, always laughing and joking with each other it never seemed like work for them but a chance to share their lives and culture with us. From Mikey 1, expertly crafting the most delicious and fresh food you will ever taste in The Philippines, ensuring the Filipino Power (rice) was always a staple in our diets! To Panoy our crazy captain and a secret expert jewellery maker! The girls came away with beautifully hand crafted shell necklaces and bracelets, specially selected from the beaches we stopped at.

Camp Ngey Ngey - Shot by Angelito Delos Reyes

I think the most freeing part about this experience was knowing there was little to no electricity throughout the trip. So no wifi and no need for your phone. I could switch off physically and mentally, from the sometimes exhausting cat and mouse game that is social media. 
What was the point in spending hours trying to make people envious with all my photos of paradise when I was here, living it. Breathing it. Soaking up every second of it. 
You wake up when the sun rises, eat when you are hungry and go to bed when you are tired. There is no concept of time, no strict schedules, you live by your body's needs and wherever the sun is in the sky at that point in the day. 
LIFE - Real life, before technology and deadlines.

I still tried to take as many pictures as possible and not because I needed proof of my travels in the form of a Facebook album but because I enjoy photography. 
Its a hobby of mine and I love nothing more than capturing a scene in a certain way through the magic of a lens.
But sometimes the camera, no matter how expensive, just cannot convey the world before you quite like your own two eyes can.
That is something you will never be able to share with anyone else because it is unique to your point of view and a mental picture you can cherish forever. 
(Until Google invent some 20/20 vision eye lenses that is 😂 I'm sure it's in the works!)


Think of the most perfect day in paradise. That's was it. Waking up, March 23rd, on a glorious tropical beach to 27 different people telling you happy birthday and not just because they felt they had to but because they wanted to, in a genuinely sincere way. 
After a sterling breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit, we set sail and landed at our first incredible private island stop for the day.

Stunning corals, crystal water, white sand and blue sky for days. At this point I don't think any of us could believe we were really here. It was like a dream. 
After a fantastic day swimming, snorkelling and beach combing, we finally landed on our base camp for the evening and watched the sun go down as Angelo machete chopped his way through some wood for our camp fire.
Another fantastic dinner of fresh fish, vegetables and Filipino power, once stuffed we all set down to some hilarious drinking games and I had Happy Birthday sung to me so many times in varying languages.
Camp fire dancing and limbo ensued until there was only a handful of us left, still not content with the thought of bed yet. 
Romy led us to a quieter side of the beach so as not to wake up our fellow camp mates and promptly disappeared into the night...Ok so at this point we thought he had just chucked us there to get us out of the way, until he returned with the cool box containing all of the alcohol! 
Grinning from ear to ear he exclaimed 'The bar is open!'

A perfect end to the best day of my life, the last ones standing just sat on the starlit beach, jungle juice in hand, talking well into the night.
If that wasn't enough the next day, on our last night, Mikey had made me a cake and the crew and all my fellow explorers sang to me once again. 
After consuming the creamy deliciousness, we were all taken to another hut where endless hours of drunken Karaoke ensued and I will never be able to get 'WE ARE SAILING' out of my head.
Tao, thank you for making my birthday the best one yet.

Bulldog - the cutest island puppy you will ever meet 😍


Day 4, Somewhere near Linapacan Island.
A particularly windy day and the sea was a little choppy in comparison to the amazing weather we had had the previous days.
We stopped off for an 'aquarium experience' as Romy called it, as the coral reef in this region was exceptional and like swimming in open aquarium. 
Now being the 21st century and all, the digital age, practically everybody has a GoPro and our dear American friend Kevin was no exception. 
Rash guard on, camera in hand, attached to what we now know is a flimsy excuse for a GoPro wrist strap 😂, Kevin jumped into the water ready to film his incredible snorkelling experience...

It wasn't until I saw him clinging to the side of boat with an empty GoPro wrist strap, shouting "Oh no, oh shit, OH NOO, NO NO NO" that I realised, the GoPro was now sleeping with the fishes.
At that point whoever was still left on the boat and in the water began frantically searching for the point where it fell.
Masks on, hopefully diving down to see how deep it really was, Romy estimated it was about 14 meters and as the only 2 people with Fins were already too far away to help, we almost gave up hope. Dear Romy used to be a diver back in the day but his poor old head could not equalise and he said it was just too far for him to try.
Once Benoit and Khadija had returned with their fins, anyone who could try gave it a go. But still the GoPro remained, a tiny spec lingering at the bottom of the ocean 

It wasn't until someone shouted 'He's gone for it!' that we all realised Angelo had sacked off the fins and leapt into the water.

We all waited with baited breath as Angelo dove down to the depths in a desperate bid to retrieve the GoPro. No fins, no tank, just 14 meters and Filipino power to aid him.
The second he began to propel himself to the surface and some of our fellow explorers raised a thumbs up, we knew. 
You have never heard so many people in your life so happy to see a piece of digital hardware emerge from the ocean. It was like a merman, triumphantly bursting through the waters, trident in hand!
We screamed, we clapped, we hugged each other. Unbelievable.
From that point onwards Angelo was hailed as a superhero amongst men. He could sing, he could dance, he could limbo for his life and now he was the GoPro Saviour and Kevin's new BFF.
This is how our team name came about and a key feature of a song we all performed for the crew at our final stop in Coron.
Probably the most hilariously cheesy performance Tao will ever hear in their expedition history! 

You snooze you lose! Volley ball champs  

As I'm writing all of this and I think back to all the incredible moments I have shared with these people, I'm not going to lie, I'm tearing up a little.
Every second was perfect and of course it had to end so I'm not sad that it's over, I'm just blissfully and incredibly fulfilled that it happened.

So if you are ever in The Philippines or are considering that once in a lifetime trip, then the one thing you must do is an experience with Tao Philippines. Just ask for Romy and his crew! 😉

Tao offers so much more than just a trip around the Palawan islands and my second post will go into more detail about how you can help the filipino communities just by experiencing a Tao expedition.

I started writing this post well over a month ago and had so many good intentions to get it up after my first couple of weeks of travelling.
I've been away now for almost 7 weeks now and here I am, still sat here, hovering over the keyboard desperately trying to finish what I have to say.

I guess if you're reading this right now though, then I managed to hit Publish.
Here goes...

I have always been a fiercely independent person. 
In the words of Destiny's Child, 'All the women who are independent, throw your hands up at me' 🙋
Being by myself and with myself has never really bothered me; I enjoy my own company.

So when I decided that I needed to get out of my small town bubble and go on an extended trip travelling the world, in particular South East Asia, the thought of going it alone really didn't faze me.
Everyone kept asking me how I felt about travelling alone and wouldn't I be scared about braving the big wide world all by myself?!
But to be honest, I didn't really think about it. The thought of being 'alone' in a foreign country hadn't properly crossed my mind.
I almost kept forgetting about that ONE tiny, slightly crucial detail! 😂
All I could think about was the incredible adventure that lay before me and the endless possibilities for meeting new people and seeing awe inspiring new places.
Not to mention, the freedom.
The 9-5 corporate grind and mundane routine was slowly starting to kill my spirit. I needed to get out.


I began squirrelling my money away back in March last year and eventually made the dream a reality several months later when I booked my one way flight to Bangkok.
Shit was about to get REAL.

After reading endless travel blogs and watching countless youtube videos on solo travel, I decided it would be better to dive straight in and book a hostel for my first few nights in Bangkok.
I can talk to anyone and find it easy to make friends so being thrown into a hostel with a bunch of strangers didn't seem so scary to me.

Now in the months leading up to my departure from London Gatwick I was fresh faced, preparing for every eventuality and planning every little detail ready to take on the world!
Except for you know, the essentials... like visas and travel insuarance. 😒
(Another story for another time)
But after knowing what I know now, after only 3 weeks of backpacking, (well now it's 7 considering it's taken me an age to finish this post!)
 I honestly don't think you can mentally prepare yourself for what it's going to feel like travelling solo...

My first couple of days in Bangkok were fine, I had managed to successfully get myself half way across the world and into my first hostel.
Not that I'm not a capable adult or anything! 😂 But this was my first long term travelling trip, alone.
Everything about this was alien to me.

After getting some much needed sleep and consuming as much free breakfast as I could stuff down my face, I checked out the map to see what was around me and set out a plan to explore the city.
I ended up spending my first proper day wandering around the massive MBK shopping mall as it was the closest thing to me and well, air con.
Sweet sweet, glorious air con. If you know Bangkok, then you know!
But after my second night in the very nice but very quiet, Bed One Block Hostel, I could feel this small niggling voice at the back of mind beginning to emerge.

'You are alone and you have no one'

I hadn't had a proper conversation with someone, who wasn't a thai employee, for over 48 hours and I was trying really hard not to let it bother me.
I mean, I was in Thailand for god's sake at the beginning of my epic world adventure! There would be plenty of other opportunities to meet people, I just had to look for them.
So I got on to Hostelworld and started heavily searching for sociable hostels in Bangkok.
That's when I found Back Home Backpackers.
Quite possibly one of the best places to have come in to my life on this trip so far.

On my second proper day I packed up and set about trekking across Bangkok to my next hostel and actually ended up meeting some lovely Argentinian girls whilst waiting for my taxi.
It instantly put me at ease and felt so great to finally have some conversation with some fellow travellers.

When I eventually made it 'Back Home', I immediately fell in love with hostel's laid back atmosphere and hippy/boho interior.
Everyone was hanging around in the main entrance common area, chilling out and escaping the Bangkok midday heat.

Later that evening, after foolishly wandering around the city with no suncream on and a severe lack of hydration, I traipsed back up to my dorm feeling miserable.
But it wasn't long before I got chatting to a girl who said I should come downstairs and join in the party with everyone.
So after downing a giant bottle of water, I squeezed onto one of the benches outside with all the other backpackers and subsequently had a night I will never forget.
Chatting, laughing, playing drinking games and ending up on the infamous Khaosan Road to finish off the night.
However the second I got back into that bed and lay down, an emotional wreckage hit me like a tonne of bricks.
This time the voice was screaming at me,


 I started to message my boyfriend saying how I didn't think I could do this and that it was all too much, I wanted to go home.
But something stopped me from hitting send and instead I cried myself to sleep.

When you're thrown into a potentially alienating and high stress situation, that's when your fight or flight kicks in. (Or sometimes freeze!)
You force yourself to make difficult decisions because you have to, to survive.
The pressure of doing something that you really don't want to do can't be ignored because a) you're out of your comfort zone b) sometimes you just can't procrastinate about the real life shit and c) there is nobody else around who can ultimately make these decisions for you.
YOU need to take control of your own life.


When I think back to that night now and even in that next morning, I knew that it was just a build up of all the anxieties and emotions that I hadn't really allowed myself to feel before coming on this trip.
(Plus a lack of food, water and sleep can turn anyone into an emotional wreck!)

Before I left I pushed all of those worries deep deep down because a part of me felt that it wasn't ok to get upset over leaving home to go on a world adventure.
You're going off to travel round the WORLD! Why the hell do you need to get upset over leaving behind your home, family, friends, everything safe and comfortable that you've ever known?!

Right there, that's why.

Travelling solo is taking a leap, throwing yourself out there into anything other than what you know and understand is scary.
You also don't have another friend or companion to rely on for conversation and safety when things get a little tough.
It's just Me, Myself and I.
But taking yourself on a solo trip can also be the most liberating and truly fulfilling experience of your existence. If you let it.
I know now that its ok to cry about these things whilst travelling, to let all those emotions in and every doubt you've ever had about making this life change.
Because sometimes you need to put yourself through some hell to discover just how strong you really are.
To realise that you can take on anything that life throws at you and learn some things about yourself that will ultimately mould you into a better person and allow you to experience something truly phenomenal.

GODDAMMIT you put yourself on a plane to go half way across the world for several months, to a country that is not your homeland, All. By. Yourself.


There will be days when you don't know where you're going, whether you have enough money, where you're going to sleep that night or how you're going to get from A to B.
But damn is it a learning curve and whether you are a confident person or not you will force yourself to talk to other travellers and make friends because as a human being you crave company and social interaction.
Just remember that every one of those travellers are in the same boat as you, a foreigner, in unfamiliar territory and you will all naturally want to stick together and open up to each other.
Being alone in a foreign land will force you to do things you never thought you could do before and you will surprise yourself and you will thrive.

So what is the 'truth' about solo travel?
It is scary, it is nerve wracking and it's full of unanswered questions that only you can find the answers to once you are in that situation.
But it is also one of the most rewarding and freeing experiences that you could ever give to yourself.
Get out of your comfort zone. Get a life lesson. Get a tan. Get a new family of friends for life from all corners of the globe. Get to know another culture. Get an experience you will never forget or regret.
And most importantly of all, Get on that plane.

You could stand safely, a few meters away from that mile high precipice for the rest of your life, never truly knowing if there was something so much greater or worse in the distance.
Or you could run, take the leap and more than likely fly higher than you ever thought imaginable.

Worst case scenario, you hit the ground.
 But every single time you push yourself back up, you are stronger, better for the fall and rising high above anyone that ever doubted your journey.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. 
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain



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