Category Archive for Art + Design

Siem Reap Pub Street: Nightlife & Restaurants! Miss Wong cocktail bar, Phare the Cambodian circus.

angkor wat reflection pool, travel blog

Cambodia was one of the most inspiring countries I’ve visited.

I’ve long been fascinated by Angkor Wat — and the mysterious temple more than lived up to my expectations.

angkor what bar, siem reap pub street

However, there’s more to see in Siem Reap than just the archaeological ruins. I’ll give you a glimpse of the nightlife of Pub Street, where you’ll find bars like “Angkor What?” (Couldn’t resist taking this photo!)

You also must stop by my favorite craft cocktail bar, innovative restaurant and Phare, the Cambodian circus… read on to find out why!

lotus flowers silhouette sunrise

I’m not a morning person, but it’s worth it to wake up at 5am to see the sunrise over the reflective pool at Angkor Wat. (I’ll show you more photos in an upcoming post.)

angkor wat long hallway light shadow

After the sun rises, many tourists go on to explore the main buildings of Angkor Wat. However, to avoid the crush, I recommend seeing other temples in the morning and early afternoon — and coming back later, when it’s less busy.

Angkor Wat’s lighting conditions are also better in the afternoon. You can capture dramatic light and shadow-play such as above (in this long hallway that feels like an infinite portal).

angkor wat models photoshoot

We loved incorporating the ancient architecture of Angkor Wat into our photography. This image is by Ken Yuen, who didn’t realize until too late that Sniper Chau was in the frame!

disturbia goth fashion clothing, lovecraft shirt

Angkor Wat is one of the world’s most mysterious archaeological sites. There were rumors of a great Khmer stone city, but the West was unaware of its existence until the late 19th century.

In an ancient, mysterous lost city, it seemed right to wear clothing inspired by HP Lovecraft’s mythos. I’m wearing this exact Disturbia Dead Moon Rising top — they also make a Necronomicon top.

Shop more nu-Goth fashion below:

angkor wat window, travel photo

Can you imagine how French explorer Henri Mouhot must have felt in 1860, when he stumbled upon this view? There are over a thousand temples here, filled with images from Hindu mythology and Cambodian legends.

angkor wat narrow rectangular doorway

The unusual architecture made my imagination run wild. I imagined that this thin, rectangular door was a portal into an alien universe. 

OUTFIT DETAILSLinda Farrow sunglasses † Disturbia HP Lovecraft top † Black leggings

buddhist monk blessings, cambodia angkor

Inside the central sanctuary, we saw a monk offering blessings to visitors. 

hp lovecraft shirt outfit, Yog-Sothoth

The 12th century temple design reflects Hindu conceptions of the universe. We were glad to have our guide (provided by Le Meridien Hotel) with us, to answer questions about this fascinating place.

angkor wat temple khmer architecture

Visitors are free to climb and explore most of the temples. I went up this stepped terrace in the main Angkor Wat hall.

ramayana bas relief, cambodia art

We walked down the long covered galleries, which were decorated with exquisite bas-reliefs. Most of these carvings depict the Hindu epic tales, Ramayana and Mahabharata. 

Our guide also pointed out depictions of hell tortures, elephant warriors, martial artists, and much more.

angkor wat hall of wall carvings

An outside view of one of the long galleries, which surrounds the central sanctuary. My pose was inspired by the carvings of apsaras (celestial dancers).

buddha demon statues, angkor wat

Of course, there is much more to see at Angkor Wat. We wished we had more time to see the outer-lying temples, such as Banteay Srei (dedicated to the god Shiva).

On the way to an elephant gate topped by a Buddha, we saw this row of Buddha and demon statues. Some had been restored, hence the different conditions of the faces.

bayon buddha faces carved statues

In the previous post, I showed you the famous “tree roots Tomb Raider” temple, Ta Prohm.

We also stopped by Bayon, the richly decorated structure that is famous for its serene, smiling rock faces. 

bayon angkor wat buddha face

These depict the Buddha, or King Jayavarman VII — or perhaps both.

bayon temple buddhas

Similar to the temples in Bali, there is a lot of flow between Buddhism and Hinduism. Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu, but later became a Buddhist holy ground.

angkor wat hall of dancers

An ancient civilization, hiding in the jungle… Angkor Wat truly captured my imagination.

lovecraft gate symbol silver key, Yog-Sothoth

A closeup of my Disturbia UK long sleeve shirt with mesh cut outs. The symbol is the Necronomicon gate symbol, from the Lovecraft mythology.

siem reap night market bridge, pub street

There’s more to see in Siem Reap, Cambodia than the legendary temple. At night, the city center comes alive with night markets, street food and bars.

We crossed this bridge, lit up with X-lights, and John found a stuffed crocodile to take home.

siem reap tuk tuks, nightlife district

Pub Street is the center of the nightlife (including the Angkor What? pub that you saw above). It’s a cacophony of tuk tuks, partiers and bars, many of which are geared towards foreigners.

pub street cambodia backpackers

So many bars, so little time…

Pub Street was fun to walk through, but these tourist-oriented bars and shops aren’t our type of scene.

shanghai 1930s retro bar lounge

Fortunately, we found a place where we felt we belonged: Miss Wong. This retro Shanghai-themed bar is located a little off the main roads, tucked away from the crowds. Look for these glowing red lanterns at the entrance.

(Address: The-Lane, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia)

miss wong cocktail bar, chinese decor

Inside, the decor is ravishing: elegant red walls and vintage Chinese art. Dean (the owner who is originally from New Zealand) gave us the warmest welcome. We could sense that he runs Miss Wong with passion, always taking the time to make his visitors feel at home.

siem reap best cocktails, bar

Miss Wong is known as the best cocktail bar in Siem Reap. It deserves this accolade: the rose petal and mocha martinis were as amazing as they sound, and look.

We were impressed by how Miss Wong infuses spirits with Asian flavors. The Lemongrass Collins, made from vodka heated with fresh lemongrass, was one of the best drinks I’ve had all year. We were also wowed by the black pepper infused vodka, delightful on its own or as a Bloody Mary.

hipster theme bar siem reap

Miss Wong also serves Chinese dim sum bites, and has a top selection of liqueurs from around the world.

If you’re all about handcrafted cocktails and a classic, relaxing atmosphere, Miss Wong Siem Reap is a gem. You can’t miss out on this bar; tell Dean that we sent you, when you visit!

cuisine wat damnak kitchen, chef

We had a wonderful set-menu dinner at Cuisine Wat Damnak, a restaurant that merges Cambodian flavors with French culinary techniques. It is on my cousin’s list of top 50 restaurants in Asia (we are trying to go to each one).

(Address: Wat Damnak village, Sala Kamreuk Commune, Siem Reap 17000)

top best fine dining siem reap cambodia

The open kitchen and lush dining area set the mood for this special meal. Chef Joannès Rivière changes his six-course menu every week, focusing on seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms and foragers.

french cambodian cuisine restaurant

The unusual ingredients and creative preparations — like frog legs with Cambodian spices — were magnificent. The chef does an outstanding job of balancing modern and traditional, French and Khmer.

khmer cooking, luxury siem reap restaurant

Six sophisticated plates for under $30 US — only in Cambodia! Be sure to make a reservation in advance for Cuisine Wat Damnak, since this restaurant is often booked up.

phare cambodian circus acrobats

Finally, you can’t leave Siem Reap without seeing the Phare, the Cambodian Circus. Inside a big top, we saw young Cambodian performers tumble, leap, juggle, balance, dance and clown — while wearing the biggest smiles on their faces.

siem reap cambodia theater, dance performances

The show drew upon Cambodian folk storytelling, and pushed it forward with avantgarde antics and sky-high acrobatics. We watched these young performers tell a narrative that took us from primordial times to colonial conquest and beyond.

phare cambodia tumblers, acrobatics

Phare is more than just entertainment: it has the social mission of educating Cambodian youth (through their NGO school), helping them find employment, and furthering the Cambodian arts.

The crowd could sense the passion and determination of the young artists, who all overcame difficult socio-economic backgrounds.

phare siem reap cambodia circus

Phare, the Cambodian Circus has performances daily; you can find out more on their site. We loved watching these young talents, especially knowing that it was in support of Phare’s meaningful programs.

pub street sign, siem reap

Cheers to Cambodia! From Angkor Wat to the bars, restaurants and circus, I had a blast here.

OUTFIT DETAILSMichi top † White tulle skirtLinda Farrow sunglassesMetallic sneakers

cambodia sunset, farm fields

I leave you with a sunset shot. Cambodians are known as some of the friendliest people, and I’d have to agree. (Photography by Sniper Chau and Ken Yuen)

watching sunset siem reap

Thanks to HK Express for the easy direct flights from Hong Kong to Siem Reap, and to Le Meridien Angkor Hotel for the magnificent stay.

Are you as fascinated by the “Tomb Raider” temples as I am? Coming up soon — I’ll unveil the photoshoot we did amidst the archaeological ruins!

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I custom-designed MySwear shoes on Farfetch! Seoul, Korea dog cafe & Myeongdong Kpop shops.

farfetch fashion blogger ambassador

Happy holidays! Tis the season to see friends and family, but don’t forget to take a moment to treat yourself too.

I got an early “me to me” gift… these show-stopping MySwear shoes, which I designed myself! 

myswear custom bespoke sneakers

Farfetch has a neat new service that lets you customize your own sneakers online, using 3D modeling. I’ll show you how I did it, in this outfit post…

카페개네 seoul dogs

… and take you inside the dog cafe in Seoul, Korea: where you can pet puppies of all breeds. Be sure to read until the end, for some Kpop shopping tips too.

monogramed designer shoes

I’m thrilled with how my metallic bespoke shoes turned out. I got to choose from 16 unisex silhouettes, and then customize every single aspect: color, materials, laces, and more.

There’s even the option to add a personal monogram. I think these shiny, retro, red-purple Wizard of Oz shoes can only belong to  “L.C.” (La Carmina)!

kpop style blogger outfit post

I picked the metallic fuchsia color because it matches my hair color.

These designer shoes are a way to add color and fun to a black-and-white outfit. (I’m wearing a combination of old favorites: a leather jacket from Canada, top from Japan, and leggings from Hong Kong.)

myswear farfetch celebrity shoes

I love how these MySwear shoes are “100% me”, thanks to the complete customization.

3d sneaker customization, bespoke shoes

My mouse-friend and I had a lot of fun designing my shoes. We went to the MySwear site, and selected a footwear style.

(I went with the minimalist, pointed-toe Hoxton — but you can select platform sneakers, creepers and more).

farfetch myswear custom sneakers

Right on the screen, you can play around with different materials (python, suede, ostrich), color combinations (side, front, panel), soles, and decorations (a metal toe cap, velvet stripe, monogram).

customizing designer shoes

When you make a choice, the 3D image updates so you’ll know what the finished result will look like.

farfetch hoxton derby sneakers

After you send in your design, the shoes are handmade in Portugal with the finest craftsmanship. The turnaround takes about 4-6 weeks, since every order is an original.

skeleton print leggings

I’m so happy with how the MySwear Hoxton sneakers turned out! They’re one of a kind, and really make an outfit stand out.

metallic fuchsia red purple shoes

The shoes are beautifully made, with artisan techniques and luxury finishes.

metallic creeper sneakers

I enjoyed seeing how other creators let their personalities show, through their bespoke designs. You can see more examples on social media under the hashtags #farfetch and #farfetchfind.

I’m curious to know — how would you customize your own MySwear shoes?

bulldog, seoul dog cafe

Since we’re wrapping up 2015, I figured it was time to publish my last photos from Seoul, Korea (I went there last year, but never got around to sharing these).

I spent an afternoon in the Myeongdong shopping district, which is packed with Kpop shops. I also went to the dog themed cafe, where you can drink coffee and pet dozens of puppies! 

korean dog petting cafe

Seoul has a few “dog cafes” where you can enjoy the company of canines, of all breeds and sizes. How many can you count in this photo?

I planned on visiting the original dog cafe, Bau House, in Hongdae. However, it moved locations (Bau House is now found near Hapjeong Station — the address is Jeil Bldg. 1F, 394-44 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul).

Instead, I wound up at Gaene, a dog-petting cafe in the busy district of Myeongdong.  (Address: 22-2, Chungmuro 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul. Nearest station: Myeongdong or Euljiro)

great Pyrenees white big dog

I found myself in a room filled with dozens of adorable dogs! I went straight to the big white Great Pyrenees and gave him a hug.

cafe Gaene, myeongdong

Entrance at Gaene costs about 8000 won ($8 per person) and includes a drink, plus unlimited time to pet the pups. Before the staff sets you loose, you must sanitize your hands, and turn over any chocolate that you might be carrying (as it’s poison to both cats and dogs).

There’s a breed for everyone: terrier, bulldog, collie, Afghan hound. Non-flash photography and video are allowed, and many Korean girls took selfies with the animals.

bau house hongdae dog cafe

I saw children sitting on the floor, with blankets provided by Cafe Gaene. They combed the lapdogs and arranged ribbons in their fur.

bulldog puppy portrait

The cafe is extremely well maintained, with no lingering “dog smell.”

As you know, I’m a cat-mom but I love dogs too. It was fantastic to be able to play with so many breeds, in a single space.

korean dogs, dog restaurants

All of the dogs were well-behaved, and seem healthy and happy. A few got into “barking matches” and scuffled on the floor, but for the most part, everyone seems to live together in harmony.

korea dog cafe, bau house

Seoul’s Cafe Gaene is a unique “only in Asia” experience, and good times for dog lovers of all ages.

(Note: Tokyo has a Deco dog cafe, but it’s a hangout for owners and their pets. You can’t just go and play with dogs, like at Gaene.)

rainbow hanbok, korean traditional dresses

Let’s end with a look at fashion in Seoul. All over the city, you can find stores selling hanbok: traditional silk and satin dresses, with tiers of rainbow colors.

korea hanbok stores

These doll-like hanbok are still striking, centuries after they were first designed. But if you’re looking for modern garments…

korean street style shops

Myeongdong is the neighborhood for you. The streets are filled with bright Kpop and streetwear boutiques, in addition to big-name international brands.

km play market myeongdong

I said hello to a Batman-dog, outside the KM Play / K.Design+ mart.

k design mart, kpop store

These cheeky statues hint at the eccentric clothing and accessories inside.

kpop clothing store seoul

K-pop style has become popular worldwide now. One of the hottest places to get dressed is at KM Play. I saw Simpsons-print tops, studded ankle boots, oversized sporty shirts, glitter skirts and other K-idol favorites.

k-pop fashion boutique shop

Both prices and quality are mid-range (about 30,000 won or $30 US for a top), and items are mostly unique to the store. Give yourself at least an hour to browse, since the racks seem to go on forever.

kpop makeup models seoul

Myeongdong is also filled with Korean makeup and cosmetics shops, including the girly favorite Etude House. I saw big posters of Dara and Sohee, showing the Kpop beauty standard (white skin, flat eyebrows, slim face with a V-shaped jaw).

seoul plastic surgery ads subway

Speaking of plastic surgery — yes, it’s prevalent in Seoul, especially in districts like Myeongdong, Gangnam and Apgujeong (which has a whole street of clinics). Advertisements are everywhere, sometimes showing “before” and “after” faces.

teddy bear museum myeongdong

Hongdae remains the indie, artsy center — and my favorite district of Seoul.

However, I came across some quirky places in Myeongdong, like this Teteru Teddy Bear Museum.

teteru teddy bear museum seoul

Anyone can go into the cafe and gift shop for free, and pose with the giant, laughing teddy bears. There’s a small charge if you want to see the full displays of Teteru bears in the museum.

bibimbap restaurant seoul

Another must-do: eat Jeonju bibimbap at Gogung. (Address: 37, Myeongdong 8ga-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul). This restaurant has been around since the early 1970s, doling out this delicious spicy dish — a big bowl of spices, veggies, egg and rice that you mix together. Gogung also has glass noodles, seafood pancakes and other Korean dishes. Now I’m craving it again…

weird korean street food

On the streets, you’ll find strange street food. Unlike in places like Thailand and China, I’m not talking about organ meats and bugs on a stick. Seoul will serve you deep-friend potato chips on a stick, and ice cream in a vaguely phallic cone with a double-opening.

Cheonggye Stream, Cheonggyecheon

I leave you with a snap from a public fashion show at Cheonggyecheon. This is a 7-mile long open stream and urban space, where people stroll and hang out. Quite funny to see children playing in the waters, while models strut on the catwalk.

seoul street musicians

I hope these photos convey the pop culture energy of Seoul. Would you visit a dog cafe, or Korean makeup shops?

my swear customizable designer shoes

I think my MySwear derby shoes would fit right in with the Kpop fashion here!

PS: here are all my Seoul alternative travel tips, to help you plan a trip to Korea.

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Lisbon, Portugal travel guide: Modern art, fashion & food! LX Factory, hip neighborhoods.

lisbon park restaurant, Bairro Alto

I finally visited Lisbon, Portugal… and kicked myself for not doing so sooner! I loved the city so much that it’s now one of my top three favorites in all of Western Europe.

Portugal tends to be overlooked when people travel to Europe. (I’ve been guilty of skipping it over, in favor of places like Italy and Croatia).

Little did I know that Lisbon is exactly my type of travel experience: not expensive or touristy, lots of cool neighborhoods and street art, and top-notch food — including the best sardines I’ve eaten. 

lisbon portugal rooftops, scenic views

As always, I like to highlight the young, hip, alternative attractions in any city. Visit Lisbon helped us put together the perfectly-tailored itinerary, and supported us as we explored Lisboa for the first time.

portuguese carved doors

We asked them, “Why do travellers go to other countries ahead of Portugal, or treat it as an add-on leg?”

There’s no simple answer. Perhaps Lisbon lacks a world-famous landmark like the Eiffel Tower or Colosseum that tends to draw in tourists. Many are also unfamiliar with Portuguese culture, history, food and attractions.

All this is an advantage for travelers like us, who seek out alternative experiences. It was also a breeze to get to Portugal from Spain: we rode over on our Eurail train passes (which let us ride the rails in 28 European countries).

lisbon clouds blue sky, sculptures

First impression: it’s so beautiful here. No filter needed, for these clear blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

lisbon Municipio square statue

We couldn’t stop taking photos of the classic architecture. Municipio Square is one of the many pristine public courtyards we passed.

(I’m wearing a white tote purse by Strathberry of Scotland. The modern minimal style and luxury leather got a lot of compliments. My bag’s magnet closure, with an additional bar that goes over the handle, also keeps possessions safe while I’m traveling.)

rua augusta arch, rooftop view

Everyone we met was so kind. Our driver and guide, Mario, acted as our bodyguard while we filmed on top of the Rua Augusta Arch (Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta).

lisbon Rua Augusta lion statue

Located on the main Commerce Square, the triumphal arch commemorates the rebuilding of Lisbon after a devastating earthquake in 1755. At the top, a female statue of Glory spreads her arms, and a lion rests by her side.

(In a later post, I’ll show you how the Rua Augusta got lit up in a digital light projection!)

From up here, we could see the classic red rooftops and ocean under dramatic skies. Behind me is Lisbon Cathedral, the oldest church in the city.

lisbon parliament building, Palace of Sao Bento

We ran into another lion at the Palácio de São Bento (St Benedict’s Palace), home of the Portuguese parliament.

portugal hip street art

We  were intrigued by the vivacious street art and murals, peeking out from behind 18th century buildings. There’s a sense of energy in Lisbon, and we were determined to see more of it.

park restaurant lisbon car parking lot

In the hip Bairro Alto district, we attempted to find Park restaurant — a secret hangout located in an unassuming car park! There are no signs advertising it, and the lot looks like a regular parkade. However if you ride the elevator up, and walk up another floor surrounded by graffiti, you’ll wind up in a hidden bar / cafe with outstanding views of Lisbon. 

Park address: Calçada do Combro, 58 1200-115 Lisbon

"lisbon

You can sit on the terrace with the hipster crowd, and take in this 180 degree scene of Lisbon from up high.

cheese plate portuguese food

Tip: When traveling in Europe, eat your fill of soft cheese, local wines, and breads — since these are usually not imported out of the country. European bread also tends to be made with high quality grains that don’t cause trouble for people who regularly must eat gluten-free.

At Park, all of the above were extraordinary, and at lower prices than in neighboring countries. (Above — I’m still dreaming of this cheese plate with pumpkin jam…)

lisbon golden gate bridge scenery

Lisbon felt a lot like San Francisco, with streetcars over rolling hills, brightly painted houses, and even a Golden Gate bridge!

This is actually the “25 de Abril Bridge” spanning the Tagus river. It’s named in honor of the Carnation Revolution, the 1974 peaceful civil resistance that overthrew the Estado Novo regime.

LX Boutique Hotel, lisbon art hotels

Lisbon’s artistic vibe followed us everywhere we went — even to our rooms at LX Boutique Hotel in Bairro Alto. The wall above my bed had a mural of Portuguese guitars, which are twelve-strings with a round body. These accompany the singers of Fado, the melancholic musical genre.

We were big fans of LX, a luxury boutique hotel with a lot of personal touches: including funky art displays, free egg tarts and Ginjinha cherry liqueur in the lobby, and a fusion sushi restaurant. (Book a room at LX, found at R. Alecrim 12, 1200-017 Lisboa, Portugal)

lx factory lisbon art center

The same type of spirit is omnipresent at LX Factory, a former industrial corner that is now home to design shops, cute eateries, and creative studios. 

(Address: Rua Rodrigues de Faria, 103, Alcântara, Lisbon)

LX Factory Alcântara, design shops

In 1845, a fabric and thread factory opened up in this area on the outskirts of Lisbon (Alcantara). It became a manufacturing hub that was later abandoned.

lisbon hipster neighborhood, art murals

Now, the space has been transformed into a playground for Portuguese artists. Many of the walls are covered in eye-catching modern works.

lisbon modern young design, furniture

We ducked into the various art studios and interior design shops, including one that sold handmade furniture for kids. LX Factory also has restaurants with outdoor seating areas — our guide Mario recommend the sushi parlor.

lx factory art studios, restaurants

I enjoyed seeing how “ugly” old industrial structures were transformed into bright, edgy works of art.

lisbon bookstore lx factory

At Ler Devagar bookstore, I found novels and treatises in all languages. The big warehouse-like interior is my idea of book heaven.

lisboa murals graffiti artwork

Can you spot the skull? LX Factory is packed with creativity, and I hope you’ll make the trip to see it.

portugal street cars, Bairro Alto

What are some other hipster areas to explore? Bairro Alto, and Cais do Sodre. My team and I could have spent days browsing the artisan stores, such as a wax candle shop that looked like a cathedral. (Photos by Borderless Media)

lisbon best egg custard tarts

Everyone knows about the joys of Italian and Spanish food… and we discovered that Portuguese cuisine is right up there. We loved the fresh seafood — there’s outstanding sushi here — and tasted a variety of local dishes at the Mercado da Ribeira market (I’ll show you in an upcoming post).

Some must-eats: the famous egg custard tarts, sushi / seafood, black rice…

lisbon sardine shop, portugal

… and above all, sardines! These are essentially a food group for me — I eat these little fishies all the time at home, and they’re full of healthy oils and minerals.

You can imagine my excitement at visiting Lisbon sardine shops, and seeing rows of tins with cat-faces. One of the historic ones is Conserveira De Lisboa (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 34).

colorful cans portuguese sardines

I bought so many sardines, in various rainbow packaging. The shops also sell other canned fish, such as mackerel.

sardine fish dishes, plates

Sardines are so famous in Portugal that they’re considered a national icon. Many souvenir shops had sardine products for sale.

lisbon independent fashion shops

Finally, fashion. At Embaixada LX, we found boutiques by indie Portuguese designers inside a centuries-old building. It’s wonderful how Europe can preserve and transform architecture in this way.

(Address: Praça do Príncipe Real 26, 1250-184 Lisboa, Portugal)

Embaixada Shopping Príncipe Real, Lisbon

These concept stores sit inside a Moorish-style building built in 1857.

hipster clothing shops lisbon

There’s a dramatic double staircase, an Arabic courtyard and stained glass windows.

Embaixada portugal design galleries

The stores flowed into each other: toys, swimwear, home goods. All of the works are by local designers, and ranged from silky caftans to quirky lamps. 

portugal indie fashion, art

Embaixada shopping center is yet another example of Lisbon’s cool, quirky charm. Visiting the city was a breath of fresh air, and I wish I had come sooner to experience it.

lion throne sculpture lisbon

Obrigado to Eurail and Visit Lisbon for making our Portugal adventures possible. (We learned that the Japanese word for thank you, “arigato,” is derived from the Portuguese one!) For more architectural inspiration, check out these modern Japanese houses.

We stayed at LX Boutique Hotel and fully recommend it for its value, hip atmosphere and location.

lisbon portuguese art, architecture

I hope this post opens your eyes to Lisbon, and that you’ll include the city in your itinerary when you come to Europe.

What do you think of the contemporary art, food and fashion found in Lisboa?

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Lavender hair at Le Meridien Angkor Wat, Siem Reap! Luxury hotel & restaurants closest to Cambodian temples.

Le Méridien angkor wat hotel gardens

Cambodia has fascinated me for ages. I dreamed of exploring the mysterious temple of Angkor Wat, and experiencing the warm culture I’d heard so much about.

Finally, I got to travel here thanks to the new HK Express flight route! This airline has low-cost fares from Hong Kong directly to Siem Reap, where the temples are found.

At Le Méridien Angkor hotel, I got a grand introduction to Cambodian hospitality. Passionfruit, smiling elephant statues, bodhi trees… Let’s start the journey right here.

lavender hair color, dyed hair

I got quite a few comments on my Instagram (@lacarmina) about this outfit of the day — and new lavender hair color! I’m wearing a Bohemian kimono by Pylo.

The label name stands for “Pursue Your Life’s Obsessions” — a message I can get behind, as it sums ups my travel approach. Pylo has a fantastic selection of Gothic-Gypsy fashion, including this crescent moon necklace and black lace bell-bottoms.

pylo clothing, goth witch occult fashion

OUTFIT DETAILSMichi top † White  tulle skirtLinda Farrow sunglassesMetallic sneakers

I’m wearing this exact crop top by Michi, a designer activewear company. Michi makes all types of dark sports fashion such as this top with sheer panels, and colorblocked sports bra (currently on major sale — more below).

le meridien angkor swimming pool

I paired it with a long white tulle skirt that made me feel like a ballet dancer. Here’s a similar skirt with black hearts on it — so pretty.

luxury boutique hotel siem reap cambodia

We loved the artistic feeling of Le Meridien Angkor, a Starwood property. The hotel is modern design meets classic Khmer, especially the lush gardens dotted with Hindu statues. 

lobby, Le Méridien starwood siem reap

It was remarkably easy to get to Siem Reap from Hong Kong. We flew direct on HK Express and the trip only took 2.5 hours. Le Meridien sent a van to the airport to pick us up, and the drive to the hotel was a short 15 minutes.

From the minute we walked into the spacious lobby, we knew that this would be a peaceful stay. I liked the dramatic Cambodian lanterns, and stuffed bears for charity.

cambodian fruit plate, passionfruit

After a flight, it’s a relief to munch on fresh fruit. I discovered a new “passion for passionfruit,” and also couldn’t stop eating their fresh baked eclairs and croissants.

travel blogger press trips, pr fam trip

The staff of Le Meridien Angkor comes from international backgrounds, and they went above and beyond to make us feel at home. Director of marketing Dennis arranged a private temple tour for us, and helped us find out more about Buddhist yantra tattooing (where a monk performs a blessing).

travel snapchat, digital influencer, instagrammer

We enjoyed strolling in the hotel’s beautiful tropical gardens. At night, the rows of trees light up.

My witchy-wizard outfit — rings, moon necklace, long boho robe — are all from Pylo.

ganesha elephant fountain, cambodia

Water flows from the trunks of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god, in this courtyard fountain.

round blue sunglasses

Cambodia is humid year round, and there can be mosquitoes — so I wore this Michi crop top, and loose layers over it. 

romantic 5-star hotel angkor wat

We all had spacious bedrooms, with a deep bathtub and classic wood shutters. I got to catch up on work using their fast WiFi, while taking in a view of the pool and gardens.

review le meridien angkor wat

My friend John Skeleton and I appreciated the location of Le Meridien — it’s as close as you can stay to the temples. The famous Angkor Wat is less than a 10 minute drive away.

(Address:  Vithei Khum Svay Dang Kum, Charles De Gaulle, Krong Siem Reap 17259, Cambodia)

cambodia gardens, siem reap trees

We loved how we could go to see the sunrise, and then easily come back for coffee and breakfast. Le Meridien Angkor was also located naer the historic Siem Reap district, night market, Pub Street and other attractions (I’ll show you in an upcoming post.)

fashion blogger outfit lens flare

Trekking around Angkor Wat was a bit draining, especially with the humidity. We were glad we could always pop back into to the hotel to pick up equipment, shower and change our clothes.

white ballet dress tulle skirt

Le Meridien felt like a temple itself, with blossoming lotuses and Khmer-style pools.

pylo moon bohemian witch rings

(Wearing Pylo stacked silver rings, which come in mystical shapes).

lavender hairstyle, pastel goth hair colour

I’ve wanted to dye my hair lavender for a while, and did it before this trip. My new haircolor happened to match these floating lotuses!

My stylist, Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Hair, did a purple light-to-dark ombre fade with Bettie Page short curved bangs. She twisted front sections into pin curls, for a retro explorer feel.

cambodia hotel outdoor swimming pool

John went for a dip in the stunning outdoor swimming pool. It has a Tomb Raider feeling (appropriate, since the movie was shot at Ta Prohm temple).

le meridien angkor spa

I have so many photos from our Angkor Wat excursion to share with you next.

long black kimono robe

(Photography by Sniper Chau and Ken Yuen — and video coming soon too.)

goth scene lavender purple hair

Thanks to Pylo for the bohemian-wizard fashion, which made me feel a bit like a Goth Sailor Moon.

metallic shiny creeper sneakers

I wore metallic, shiny creepers from Hong Kong — they are similar to these Acne sneakers.

philip lim linda farrow sunglasses

My round blue sunglasses are by Linda Farrow. She has a marvelous collection of cat eye sunglasses.

italian desserts, l'angelo le meridien

I leave you with a glimpse of the outstanding meals we had at Le Meridien Angkor! I’m still thinking about the Khmer pumpkin curry and spiced salads we had at their Cambodian Angkor Royal Café, and my daily breakfasts of passionfruit and yogurt.

l'angelo italian restaurant siem reap

However, our most memorable dinner was at l’Angelo Italian restaurant, headed by French chef Nicolas Rouleau. He served us the best pastas and Italian dishes I’ve had all year, along with an impressive selection of wines and cocktails.

cambodia top bests restaurants, angkor wat

At l’Angelo, traditional Italian recipes get modern, French touches. I ate up every last bite of this balsamic risotto with duck breast and parmesan. 

The osso bucco, eggplant parmigiana, and spiced penne were also masterfully prepared.

desserts siem reap cambodia

We enjoyed the relaxed, contemporary look of the dining space. And how was dessert? The photos speak for themselves — fresh, tangy, inventive. 

cambodia art design hotels

If you have limited time in Siem Reap, it’s especially worth staying at Le Méridien Angkor. This oasis is conveniently located by the temples, and you can enjoy local food, spa and culture right inside.

travel influencers, hotel pr

A curtsy to Ganesha, and to the hotel staff for making our stay an absolute pleasure. Coming up next — my travel diary of Angkor Wat!

What do you think of Cambodia so far? Did you enjoy my Outfit of the Day?

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OUTFIT DETAILSMichi top † Tulle skirtLinda Farrow sunglassesMetallic sneakers

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