Steampunk cafe & Penguins in South Africa! Truth coffee, Cape Point, Boulders Beach.

cape point south africa

Everyone knows you can go on safari in South Africa… but did you realize there’s a penguin beach colony and steampunk cafe here? No? Then waddle along with me as I discover these unexpected places… and get bitten by a few animals long the way.

african baboons on road

From Cape Town, our driver took us for a 1.5 hour scenic drive to Cape Point, the southernmost tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. (Technically, the meeting spot fluctuates slightly, and Cape Agulhas is located furthest south on the continent — but let’s not nitpick.)

south african baboon monkey

The winding road gave us incredible views of the mountains and fishing villages. We saw some hitchhikers, hanging out on the rails…

red bottom monkey

These red-bummed monkeys are native baboons! (More on them later.)

cape town mountain beach

My team and I stopped briefly to take in this view of the mountain ranges and ocean. July is winter in South Africa, hence the slightly menacing weather. I kept warm with a Hakuna Matata cat hoodie from Artbox in Seoul.

cape peninsula scenery

My Gothic version of Baywatch “running on the beach.”

dog on sandy beach

This little dog seemed to be sniffing for seafood. Photography by me, Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.

don't feed monkeys sign

Back to the road trip along the peninsula. It’s as good thing we didn’t stop to pick up a barrel of monkeys…

baboons warning road sign

… since all the road signs warned us to steer clear of “Baboons!”

south african ostrich

Another quick stop, this time at Cape Point ostrich farm. It was established in 1960s, as a breeding ground for these fluff-bodied, bald-headed birds.

ostriches farm

Visitors can aww at the baby ostriches in the pen. If you are brave, you can purchase a bag of food to hand-feed the ostriches…

feeding ostrich, biting

I gave it a try, and this angry-looking ostrich pecked my palm! Yes, I screamed.

cape point, south africa park

Finally, we made it to Table Mountain National Park. The sign shows the coordinates of Cape Point. From there, it’s an easy 30 minute walk to the lighthouse.

Table Mountain National Park hike

We filmed so many incredible shots from up high — can’t wait to show you the video. After this mini-hike, we were ready to eat. A lot.

langoustines, south african seafood

We dined like kings at Two Oceans restaurant: grilled local hake, langoustines and other sustainable seafood, washed it down with white South African wine. (Very impressed with the wines here, particularly from Stellenbosch.)

south african penguin breed

And then… it was time to see the African penguins! Wait, what? Yes, there’s a breed of black-footed Happy Feet, found only in these South African waters.

cape point penguins

Boulders Beach is only a short drive from Cape Point, and it’s home to a large colony. These penguins flocked here in the 1980s and took over the beach.

boulders beach park

Today, this is a popular attraction for visitors. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see hundreds of cute penguins?

don't touch penguin sign

There’s a small entrance fee, which lets you get up close and personal with the little guys. A sign warns, don’t pet the penguins.

Boulders Beach Penguin Colony

But filmmaker Melissa didn’t listen, and found out the hard way. Cute as they look, these penguins bite! (Remember she also touched the Table Mountain dassie…)

cape point boulders beach

The closer we got to the sandy beach, the more penguins we saw. Some of them clustered together and played.

baby penguin cave

Others were babies, still with their fluffy down overcoats. The park set up these little cave-homes for the penguin families to live and breed in.

african penguins couple

How cute, this pair of penguins leaving webbed footprints in the sand.

penguins on south africa beach

At the end of the path, it was penguin-mania! This breed makes a funny braying noise, like a donkey. A few were waddling around, but most were resting on their stomachs.

penguins, cape point beach

A lone penguin dips his foot in the ocean. Isn’t the Cape Peninsula gorgeous?

african penguins colony

As you can see from the shadows, Boulder Beach is a favorite destination. Coming here was one of my favorite moments in our South African press trip.

cape town steampunk shop

Another highlight was visiting Truth Coffee Roasting, a Steampunk cafe. (Address: 36 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town)

These “pirates” are passionate about producing the best artisan, small batch coffee — ever. Truth’s steampunk decor captures this spirit of experimentation and adventure.

truth coffee roasters, flat white coffee

I’m drinking a “flat white,” a beverage similar to a cappuccino, but with less milk and a velvety foam.

(My fringe top is by Japan pop-punk brand Listen Flavor, from Shinjuku Closet Child.)

steampunk art, drawings

All around the cafe, I saw gears, brass, clockwork and old-time machine parts. The baristas even dressed in top hats and suspenders.

steampunk coffee shop, truth roasters

The food here is as excellent as the coffee, including the chocolate croissants, and “steampunk breakfast” of organic eggs, vegetables and flatbread.

steampunk shop restaurant interior

The focal point of Truth is “Colossus,” a 1940s Probat roaster with a cast iron drum, tricked out with mad scientist parts.

steampunk cafe, airship pirates

Truth Coffee often has wild performances and events befit for airship pirates, such as burlesque shows and steampunk parties. How cool, to see how people around the world are inspired by this subculture.

cape point penguins beach

Were you surprised to see penguins and steampunk in South Africa? The more I travel, the more I discover…

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Cachet Boutique Shanghai: a swank, stylish design hotel in China.

cachet boutique hotel shanghai

China’s come a long way since the days of Chairman Mao. Today, Shanghai’s swank, and I was keen to see the changing city for myself.

Cachet Boutique Hotel invited my team and me to experienced the modern side of Shanghai. Let’s hop through the mirror, and find out what’s happening on the mainland!

luxury design hotels china

You know I love art hotels, so I was excited to team up with Cachet, a group known for its fashionable accommodations. A driver picked up my filmmakers and me from Pudong Airport, and the manager welcomed us at the door with a big bouquet of flowers. And he said those magic words: “We’ve put you in the biggest penthouse, with a full kitchen and bar.”

cachet hotel group

I couldn’t believe it: the lavish suite was 160 meters square. Enough room for a whole crew of pirates, and then some.

urbn shanghai hotels, cachet

But I was even more impressed by the way Cachet researched my interests, and left little surprises in my room to make me feel at home. I’m a fan of Miffy the bunny, so guess who was sitting in the throne chair. The stationery box even had Miffy pens, and a gift bag contained a Gothic mask and sunglasses.

shanghai art hotel

It’s the small things that show they really care for their guests. From left to right: fresh fruit and champagne, a studded leather teddy bear, and a DJ booth with an electronic music playlist.

house of harlow big sunglasses

The balcony gave me a view of the stylish street below. Cachet Boutique Hotel’s address is 931 West Nanjing Road — right by the Bund, French Quarter and lots of designer stores.

cameo crop top, shakuhachi skirt

I thought this outfit from West LA Boutique matched the mood of the space rather well. Their online shop (with a physical location in Dubai) keeps wowing me with their ever-changing selection of chic clothing and accessories.

I’m wearing House of Harlow 1960 Nicole style sunglasses, a black Cameo crop top, and a uniquely cut Shakuhachi skirt with sheer panels.

steelground shoes goth footwear

Matching the carpet are my Steelground Shoes. They’re masters of alternative footwear, and unlike some other alternative brands, these ones will last. You can see the detailing in the fabric and soles of these platforms.

shanghai penthouse suite

Cachet hotel had so much character. Originally, this was a building from 1920s Shanghai.

hotel balcony west nanjing road

I couldn’t believe this is China — it felt like Ginza in Tokyo. So clean and cosmopolitan. Right by the hotel, there were some of my favorite fashion stores including Izzue and Miffy (I’ll show you photos soon).

most expensive hotels shanghai

I’m a bit picky about interior design, and didn’t know what to expect from accommodations described as “classical Asian meets modern glam.” But as you can see, Cachet pulled it off.

design hotel shanghai china

The custom rugs and dark wood floors made the suite feel cozy.

interior design china

Above all: the art was awesomeAsian meets avantgarde, such as this tall frame by the door. (Longans are a local tropical fruit similar to the lychee.)

penthouse bedroom boutique hotel

Doesn’t this look like my own bedroom? That’s what makes a stay with Cachet such a joy. They personalize everything, even the art above the bed.

chinese anime girl, living doll

This almost could be a portrait of me. I tried to imitate the pose of the Gothic ball-jointed doll. 

gold bathroom, big bathtub

My filmmakers and I couldn’t get over this golden bathroom. “You could fit eight people in that tub!”

luxury shower hotel

Same goes for the King Midas shower.

modern art gallery shanghai

The entire hotel is art-focused. Cachet’s ground floor has an in-house gallery, hung with contemporary Chinese works.

上海 cool hotels

Most of these artists are young and use new mediums, like this visual installation by the doors.

ball jointed doll painting

However, my favorite painting remains the one above my bed. Here’s a closer look. The Goth Alice in Wonderland motifs are exactly my cup of tea.

leather teddy bear

And I love this leather bear on a hook: fetish meets cute. The manager told me his name is Tristan.

chinese street style, fashion blogger

We felt so inspired by the interior decor. Photography by Melissa Rundle, taken with a Sony A7 mirrorless camera.

west la boutique top, black skirt

I had fun matching my West L.A. Boutique outfit to the art.

shanghai modern apartment suite

Thanks to the staff for taking such great care of us, from bringing up sandwiches to drawing us maps to art districts.

entrance exterior cachet hotel

Cachet Group also has an eco-friendly URBN hotel in Shanghai, and is opening more locations soon. Can’t wait to experience their new property in Bangkok, Thailand. 

china dj turntables

DJ bunny party! You can find out more and make a reservation on Cachet Boutique Shanghai‘s website (they have 48 rooms, including 2 top-floor penthouses.)

rayli magazine, ray li china

Speaking of China… You may have noticed I’ve been doing more in this market recently. “Xie xie” to Ray Li magazine (the leading Chinese fashion publication) for interviewing me about beauty in the October 2014 issue.

flat nosed cat

Do you spy a smooshy-faced cat in the top left corner of the RayLi article? That’s my Scottish Fold — or as they say in Chinese, “jip yee mao”! More cute Basil Farrow photos on his cat blog.

china fashion travel magazine

Finally, a shout-out to Hong Kong Express Airways magazine, who just celebrated their first anniversary. I’ve been writing a travel column for them since they launched, and will keep doing so. Above is a scan from the last issue, featuring me and my Taipei-based friend Boris Tsai (蔡伯璽).

Have you been to Shanghai, or anywhere in China? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments. Will share more from the city soon.

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Heavy Pop, Harajuku fashion club night! Tokyo Japan Halloween Goth parties.

types of harajuku fashion, style

Halloween 2014 is creeping closer… do you have your costume ready yet? How will you be celebrating?

If you’re in Tokyo, Japan for Halloween, there are a number of dark and alternative events this year. These include Midnight Mess’s 12th anniversary Goth dance party on Oct 25, and Tokyo Dark Castle Zombie Halloween on the same day. In OsakaFarplane Night is having a cabaret festival on Nov 1st.

But for Japanese spooky kids, Halloween is every day of the year! So every month, they congregate at Heavy Pop (へびぽ), a club night that celebrates cyber, Goth, Lolita, drag and other alt fashion tribes. As you can see from the group photo, it’s one colorful party.

tokyo club fashion, makeup

Heavy Pop changes its location and exact date each time, so check their Facebook for the next event (I’m not sure yet if they’re having a Halloween extravaganza). I went to the anniversary celebration at Hell’s Bar in Sangenjaya. The tiny space was packed, hence the face-fanning.

cute japanese costume girls, cosplayers

“Hebipo” generally takes place on the last Sunday of the month, around 3pm to 11pm (so that partygoers can take the last train home, as it stops running around midnight). Come here if you want to dance to Jpop while surrounded by youths, dressed in experimental-kawaii fashion.

japanese maid idols dancing, jpop singing

Each event features a roster of DJs and performers. I watched these two cute Japanese girls dressed as French maids, singing and dancing a frenetic “para-para” on stage.

へびぽ hebipo

One of the regular artists is… Yukiro, in his evil guise as drag queen Die Schwarze Frau! That’s reason enough to check out the club night, don’t you think?

crazy monster costumes japan

Most of the guests dressed in some sort of alternative street style like kawaii, fairy kei, or Gothic. I saw some wild makeup and hair in the crowd. This lizard-monster, made of full body rubber, gets my medal for “craziest costume.”

heavy pop, hell's bar

As you can see, there isn’t much room to make giant hand motions. Wear layers so that you can take something off if the room gets too hot. (Even the reptile took off his head at one point.)

harajuku club, nightlife

Everyone’s welcome at Heavy Pop, but I suggest you join the Jpop spirit of the party, and dress up. Wigs, crowns and hats add a fun touch.

japan photographer dj ray ochiai

Don’t forget to take a picture at the photobooth, and say hi to Die Schwarze Frau (she won’t bite) and organizer / DJ Ray Ochiai. He started this party a few years ago, and it’s built up quite the following.

cute japanese girl singing

You can’t help but smile at the theatrical performances on stage. The event alternates between DJ sets and performers.

independent stores tokyo fashion

The side of the room has a line-up of vendor booths, run by independent designers. Shop here for neon face masks and other oddities.

japanese living dolls

Light colors, lace and living-dolls abound.

funny famous japanese dj

Can you feel the energy of the music? All these images are by Said Karlsson — give him a shout if you need a photographer in Tokyo.

goth dancing

The drag theatrics of Die Schwarze Frau always get attention. Stand too close to the front, and you might get whipped by her flailing skirts.

harajuku eye makeup, horns hairstyle

Love the hair-horns, pink eyebrows and layers of eyelashes on this girl.

tokyo drag queen dancer

The queen in motion. DSF performs drag at other events in Tokyo, which you can see on her Facebook.

nanette lepore striped dress

I’m wearing a feathered crown from my friend King Vulcanus Levi (remember when we teamed up in NYC?) and a Nanette Lepore striped dress (here’s where you can purchase it.)

cross dress performer japan

Don’t you want to be at this fabulous club night too? Keep track of the next Heavy Pop party on their Facebook page. Entry fee varies; it’s generally 1500 yen and a drink if you RSVP on Facebook.

cute blonde asian girl

How do you like the Harajuku fashion and makeup featured in this post? Do you have Halloween plans yet?

If you’re in Tokyo in late October, be sure to check out the Gothic nightclubs and bars, listed here and at the top of this post.

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A Goth in Hot Weather: Philippines! West LA Boutique outfit, Wong Kar Wai neon lights.

ksubi sunglasses, multicolored hair

Goth Tropicana, here we go! I had a wonderful time in the Philippines. Fell in love with the people, beaches, food, and spectacular Pacific Cebu Resort.

What was I doing here? And how do Goths dress in hot weather? Read on for an electric outfit post featuring West LA Boutique. 

wong kar wai photoshoot

Perhaps you note a change in the image quality. I now have a Sony Alpha 7 (A7), a mirrorless DSLR camera. The full-frame sensor rocks, yet the body is half the size of a normal DSLR. Perfect for bringing on my travels.

For Love & Lemons Corset Mini Dress

sáv Hospitality brought my 2 filmmakers and me to the Philippines, to experience and showcase their newly-renovated Pacific Cebu Resort. I was also a judge in the Miss Scuba Philippines beauty pageant, which raises awareness about marine conservation.

steelground shoes, goth platforms

On Day 1, I danced around the pool in my fabulous Gothic lace-up heels, from Steelground Shoes. They’re a Portuguese alternative footwear brand, and I’m super impressed by the quality of their materials. You can check out their range of men’s and women’s shoes — creepers, furry pink boots and more — on Steelground’s site and Facebook.

tropical goth, philippines style

How can one pull off a darker look, in hot and humid weather? West L.A. Boutique came to the rescue, with round Ksubi sunglasses and a For Love or Lemons mini dress.

west la boutique fashion blogger

The dress has a corset-like boned top, but the lace material is light and airy, making it perfect for a South East Asian climate. The sunglasses have a retro-Goth feel. I completed the look with cross-top tights and the platform buckle heels.

Can’t wait to show you more of my outfits from West LA Boutique. They have a store in Dubai, and you can easily place orders internationally, from their site (brands include Boy London, Unif, Lazy Oaf.)

cebu city cars, traffic

On our first day in Mactan, we had to run to a store for an errand. Pacific Cebu Resort got us a driver, and he took us through the chaotic streets of Mandaue (one of the urban centers). So much to see, outside my window! Driving in the Philippines is an “anything goes” adventure, filled with the honks of horns.

philippines streets, jeepneys

Sidecars, jeepneys and motorcycles criss-crossed our path. Families of six piled into the back of a truck. Schoolgirls in long uniforms walked by, wearing pink backpacks. The words “authentic randomness” came to mind when we saw people barbecuing by the side of the road, and playing basketball with a hoop made from a tree.

cool round black sunglasses

Inspired by Cebu’s energy and color, we wanted to take images with a Wong Kar Wai night-time feel. 

ksubi bellatrix circular frame sunglasses

A lighting store created an interesting mood.

modern gothic clothing, model

(Photography by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.)

philippines sidecar, Auto rickshaws

As the sun set, we drove to the Mandaue city center. I wonder what type of street food they are selling here.

filipino cars, motorized tricycle

In the Philippines, traffic can get congested, so people travel on two or three-wheelers. These “motorized tricycles” or auto rickshaws are everywhere.

jeepney public transportation

Locals ride “jeepneys” as public transportation. These were originally converted from American military jeeps after the end of World War II. Today, these tricked-out, kitschy rides are a symbol of the Philippines. We saw a pink one with a demented Hello Kitty on the side. If a jeepney is filled to capacity, riders will stand on the back platform and hang on for dear life.

philippines driving motorcycles

Despite the “free for all” streets, we felt safe driving through Cebu. There’s a laid-back attitude here. No road rage.

colorful lights modeling

We passed by a “Ferrari” building, lit up with these neon lights. We couldn’t resist stopping here for an impromptu photoshoot.

wong kar wai lighting, composition

A perfect match for our Wong Kar Wai mood. Ever-changing neon lights, in saturated colors.

crazy lights architecture cebu

This is one of the best aspects of travel: even if you do research up to your nose, you’ll never really get a sense of a place until you’re actually there. As you explore, you’ll be hit by unexpected scenes and inspirations. Before coming to Cebu, I never thought we’d come across a sight like this.

bright nightclub wall

If you’re liking this outfit, you can check out more inspiration on West LA Boutique’s website (they’re constantly listing the latest arrivals — I’m eyeing their leather mini skirt).

ksubi bellatrix sunglasses

Florescent lights, Asia comes alive at night.

ferrari club, Philippines

The name and logo say “Ferrari”… but is this actually a luxury car dealership?

love or lemons corset dress

Not quite. This Wanted sign reveals what actually lies inside — a girlie nightclub. I wonder if I qualify as a “pleasing person?”

mandaue, jollibee

Onward to the city center, which has a church, park and a Jollibee — the fast food chain of the Philippines, with a big bee as the mascot.

tanduay white rum, calamansi

And finally, back to our home base, Pacific Cebu Resort. The staff went all out to welcome us, beginning with a green drink made from pandan leaves at check-in. Later, we had a tasty dinner that included adobo chicken and unlimited drinks. I’m a fan of trying local flavors, and adored the gin with calamansi (a local tart citrus), and fresh mango smoothie with Tanduay rum.

welcome dessert

For dessert, the waiter served this cute surprise! Pear, ice cream, caramelized cake —  it was delicious.

pacific cebu resort sav

Can’t wait to show you more from this Cebu paradise, including scuba, snorkeling and beach time.

purple green blue hairdye

Thanks to Stephanie Hoy at Vancouver’s Avantgarde Salon for this “oil slick” hair, a gradient of purples, greens and blues!

sav hospitality hotels cebu

For previews of my South East Asian travels and outfits, you can peek at my @lacarmina Instagram.

Have you ever been to the Philippines? How do you like my “Goths in Hot Weather” outfit of the day?

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