Category Archive for Fashion

At the Temple of Artemis in Jerash, Jordan. Exploring Greco-Roman ruins with Ya’lla Tours.

jerash, Arch of Hadrian

It’s interesting to see how this blog has evolved over the years. These days, it’s travel-culture that really makes me tick. On this path, I feel I can make the most difference — especially by shining a positive light on subcultures, and encouraging people to explore the world with an open mind.

For these reasons, I can’t wait to share my experience in the ancient Greco-Roman city of Jerash, in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Our expert hosts Ya’lla Tours — who also guided us through Petra — took us back in time, to a lost civilization.

camel toy souvenirs, amman

Jordan is home to dozens of archaeological digs. The UNESCO heritage site Petra is the most famous, but Jerash is noted as one of the best preserved ruins in the Middle East.

Jerash (or Gerasa) is 30 miles north of the capital city, Amman. At the entrance, I saw display tables of scarves, stuffed camel toys and other souvenirs.

greco roman ruins, gerasa city

When you walk up the south stairway, you’ll encounter the Arch of Hadrian — built to honor the Roman Emperor when he visited around 130 AD.

jordan jerash ancient ruins

It felt like a dream, wandering through the three stone arches.

Outfit details: Cute bunny top from the Miffy store in Hong Kong, a Baby the Stars Shine Bright purse from Shinjuku Marui Tokyo, and a blue skater skirt from World Wide Love Tokyo.

ancient greek stone carvings

Our Ya’lla Tours guide told us about Jerash’s prosperous past, and how it was the hometown of the mathematician Nicomachus. He pointed out Greek words carved into fallen stones.

jerash city architecture

Jordan is a progressive country so there aren’t any dress code restrictions. It is not a problem to have bare legs here, although you will want to wear sturdy shoes or boots for the unpaved ancient paths.

hadrian's arch, greek arches

Amazing to see the Roman’s advanced architecture and engineering, which has withstood major earthquakes.

jordanian man with horse

Unlike Petra, Jerash didn’t have too many tourists wandering about. Only a few vendors offered us a snack or a horse ride.

jerash ruins history

This added to the feeling that I was re-discovering an ancient world.

Roman Oval Forum jerash

The path opened up to the Oval Plaza, surrounded by a colonnade. In the middle, I saw two altars and a fountain.

row of roman columns

No wonder Jerash is nicknamed “the city of 1000 columns.” If you’re an art history buff like me, you’ll recognize that these are in the Ionic style. (Other parts of the city have Corinthian columns.)

Oval Forum, ancient jerash

My filmmakers were shooting video the entire time. This photo is by our Ya’lla guide; the rest are by Melissa Rundle and me.

Jordanian bagpipes, Bagpipers

Wait… why are there bagpipes in Jordan? Our guide told us that a bagpipe-type instrument originated in the Middle East, possibly thousands of years before it appeared in Scotland. You learn something every day.

jordan south theater

We perched in the South Theater, which held as many as 3000 spectators, and watched the performers. Funny enough, there was a seat reservation system back in ancient times. You could still see stones marked with Greek letters like alpha, delta, epsilon!

view archaeological site gerasa

We climbed up to the top, and got this brilliant view of the sprawling ruins. However, descending proved to be a bit of a challenge… I ended up looking like a hunched grandma, as I crawled down the rows. (No, I’m not posting those photos!)

Jerash Temple of Artemis, acanthus columns

Perhaps my favorite monument was the Temple of Artemis. The daughter of Zeus was the protector goddess of Jerash, and they honored her with a grand processional entrance to this place of worship. Look up, and you’ll see acanthus leaf carvings on the Corinthian columns.

roman lion carving

I spotted a lion in the Macellum or marketplace.

jerash colonnaded cardo maximus

Let’s wrap up our journey with some Insta-snaps (follow my my Instagram for more). I’m standing on the “cardo” or long colonnaded street, which was the main route in Jerash. You can still see the marks of chariot wheels on the stones.

artemis temple, jordan

Filmmaker Melissa prayed for a hot beverage as we ascended the Artemis Temple. The goddess granted her wish: at the top, a young Jordanian man with a surprising British accent was selling cups of coffee and mint tea!

jerash Hippodrome, Colonnade pillars

I leave you with the Hippodrome, or giant arena for chariot races and other sporting events.

jordan paintings scarves

We learned so much about Jerash thanks to Ya’lla Tours. With a driver and expert guide, our trip to Jordan was stress-free. Ya’lla does custom, small group tours in many countries including Israel; I hope you’ll keep them in mind for your travels.

Have you ever visited an archaeological site? What was your experience like? And do you like my Miffy outfit?


Japanese cherry blossoms outfit! How to celebrate sakura season & hanami fashion.

sakura makeup, hair

It’s a special time of the year for many people in Japan: sakura season. Cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, and friends are getting together to appreciate the pink petals while they last.

Have you heard of hanami (flower viewing), or taken part in this tradition? Read on for the beautiful story, and my sakura-inspired coordinate!

cherry blossom trees

Around late March to May, Japan turns into a cotton candy wonderland. The season’s is a big deal here: as winter ends, people start to check the “sakura zensen” forecast, or cherry blossom front. When the trees are blossoming, it’s time to celebrate.

hanami outfit, spring kimono

But what to wear? My long, lace maxi dress from Salsit was perfect for the occasion. I love the sheer floral print and romantic feel of the Widow dress.

salsit lace flower dress

I accessorized it with a kimono-style top, from alternative Japanese designer h.NAOTO’s Gouk collection. (Here are photos from the Naoto store in Tokyo.)

japanese girl pink cherry blossoms

The flower-appreciation began centuries back, in the Nara period. Today, the Japanese still hold “hanami” festivals or gatherings to appreciate the short-lived cherry blossoms.

cherry blossom photography

People of all ages and interests take part in hanami. Many have picnics in Tokyo’s Yoyogi park (tip: go early to save a space, as it fills up quickly especially on weekends). Families and friends drink, eat, take photos, and play music in this dreamy setting.

hanami celebrations tokyo japan

I wanted to pay tribute to the season with my outfit. The Salsit dress is sheer, so I wore a long white tank-top under (to break up the length, and reveal the black lace flowers). I chose Japanese-style sandals, and pinned some cherry blossom flowers to my hair.

h.naoto gouk kimono, fashion shoot

My electric blue haircolor gives my look a modern feel. But in black and white, it’s timeless.

white pink cherry blossoms flowers

Although “prunus” trees are found around the world (including North America, Australia, South America and Europe), cherry blossoms are a distinct Japanese symbol, and have been important throughout the country’s history.

hamani style, what to wear

Many “yukata” or summer kimonos have long sleeves and cherry flower prints, colors or motifs.

sakura branches, cherry blossoms blooming

Light pink, mint, and other pastel colors inspire the spring fashions in Japan and worldwide.

pink flowering trees, spring

The print on the back of my kimono-top seems like an extension of the flowers on my lace dress.

cherry blossom flowers

Cherry blossom viewing is also linked to a Japanese concept called “mono no aware,” or melancholy appreciation of the impermanence of things. The blossoms are beautiful now, but they will soon fall and be gone — like all things.

sakura in hair

So we might as well appreciate them to the fullest, in this present moment.

japanese hanami outfit, dress

Some people attend shrines or Buddhist temples, to see the flowers. My Tokyo friends hold a yearly “Goth hanami” – it’s the same as what regular folk do, but with more piercings, tattoos and alcohol!

lace sheer dress, flower kimono jacket

Details, details. Dark meets light, pastel meets Gothic.

cherry blossom nail art, sakura nails

I even did DIY sakura nail art to match. It’s pretty simple: start with a grey-pink base coat. Then, cover half of each nail with dots of magenta, on a diagonal. Then, add specks of silver and pink sparkle. Finish with a top coat.

hanami viewing, cherry trees park

You don’t need to be in Japan in order to take part in the festivities. Many worldwide cities have cherry blossoms festivals, which may include traditional music and dance performances, and food vendors.

hanami festival goth girl

Or, just find a park or street that is blooming with pink. It’s an opportunity to get creative, such as by taking photos…

spring pink flower celebration

… drawing, painting, or making dried pressed flowers.

big sleeve japanese kimono top

The Japanese use sakura as an ingredient as well. The blossoms are pickled and used in sweets like mochi, or drunk as tea.

macro close up sakura

Perhaps you might also plan a future trip to Japan, to coincide with this time of year. If so, it’s best to book and plan early, since plane tickets and hotel rooms are pricy during this high season.

big flowering tree pink buds

But you can still celebrate, no matter where you are. Enjoy the flowers shooting up around you.

japan cherry blossom season

With the winter waning, it’s a good excuse to pick up lighter pieces for your spring wardrobe, like the Salsit Widow dress.

budding cherry trees

Let’s be in the moment, when the buds are emerging…

japanese high heel sandals

… and when the petals fall.

designer japanese yukata

Do you have cherry blossom trees around you? Have you heard of hanami, or tried flower-viewing?


Filed Under Fashion

Israel’s art scene: Ilana Goor museum, Jaffa Tel Aviv market. Leopard print dress & suspender tights.

israel fashion blogger outfit

Whenever I travel, I make an effort to explore the local arts scene. I always find inspiration in alternative art museums, design stores and markets — and Jaffa, Israel was no exception.

Follow along with me, as I encounter whales, pandas, and a row of… peni?

suspender print tights, british stockings

La Carmina’s outfit of the day:

Blue leopard print dress: from Apartment at Siam Discovery in Bangkok (similar to this $49 dress)
Short leather jacket with hood: similar to this one by Michael Kors
Cross pattern stockings: Jonathan Aston Harnessed Tights, gifted by UK Tights. The geometric pattern mirrors the straps of my dress.
White crown purse: Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Tokyo

jaffa jonah whale fountain

Jaffa or Yafo was an ancient port city, and now a district of Tel Aviv. As this cute fountain suggests, this was the site of biblical stories including Jonah and the whale, King Solomon and St Peter.

I should mention that while Israel’s official languages are Hebrew and Arabic, pretty much everyone speaks English. Still, I recommend having a guide like our awesome Uri Golani to help you get around in a van, and explain the history.

jaffa flea market, tel aviv

Jaffa Flea Market was like a scene from Arabian Nights. I felt like I had stepped back in time.

jewish hand, hamsa

I was most intrigued by the jewelry stands, which were strung with metal hamsas: amulets shaped like an open palm, to defend against the evil eye.

protect evil eye amulet, necklace

Hamsas are available online too — here are links to a gold hamsa charm and a pendant.

arabian market jewelry, pendants

The Arabian filigree necklaces and lockets were also beautiful. (Photography by Eric Bergemann, Melissa Rundle and me.)

middle eastern market, jaffa israel

Jaffa Hill has such a long history (going back to the Bronze Age) that there are constantly new archaeological discoveries. We walked past several excavations, and even passed an abandoned building that houses flying bats!

hipster israel, jaffa hippies

Today, Jaffa has a hippie / hipster vibe. We went into organic clothing stores, and laid-back cafes covered in ivy. Like in Portland, we saw bird murals and “creative” bicycles.

big door tel aviv, outfit post

Loved the big doors and gates. Israel generally has hot weather, but you’ll want to wear a jacket and good walking shoes in Jaffa, since it’s by the water and has cobbled roads.

old hebrew man, jaffa shop

We poked our heads into modern furniture stores, including one that focused on African designs. Others sold antiques, children’s toys, you name it.

jewish male face, characteristics

Everyone we met was friendly. Tel Aviv is ultra liberal, and nobody will make a fuss if you dress alternatively.

tel aviv cool graffiti art

I generally prefer walking around and seeing street art, instead of going inside a museum. However, we got a tour of the Ilana Goor Museum, and it was the best art experience we had in recent memory.

ilana gur coat rack

Ilana is a decorated Israeli artist, and this 18th century building is her home. Visitors come to see her eclectic art collection, which includes her own works such as funky self-portraits and this phallic coat hanger called “Turkish God of Fertility.”

ilana goor museum, paintings

Ilana Gur actually lives here, and you can feel her personality and passion in each room. Beneath a ceiling punched with holes (an ancient form of air conditioning), I found a fellow blue-haired girl.

horror vases, scary sculptures

From her taste in art alone, I can tell that Ilana and I would get along. There were a number of horror-bizarre objects, such as these creatures emerging from vases.

bet Ilana Gur Museum rooftop art

The rooftop overlooks the water, and is inhabited by offbeat sculptures including bronze cats.

hair blowing in wind

If it weren’t for the wind, I could have spent all afternoon sitting in the garden, under the olive trees.

yafo creative residence israel

Next, we dropped by the Yafo Creative House, a space where travelers can live and collaborate with Israeli artists. The young residents hold weekly meals and exhibitions, and inspire each other to make art. We listened to this singer-songwriter perform two acoustic songs, one in Hebrew and one in English.

tel aviv museum modern art

Finally, we walked around the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. There were pieces by international masters, like Monet and Picasso, but I was more interested in the modern Israeli works.

weird modern art, israel museum

We were confused, disgusted, or amused by the various works, which ranged from obscure video projections to a giant fabric “party monster” that extended over two floors.

stitched mouth eyes

These photographs, showing a woman with her eyes or mouth sewn shut, reminded me of the lip-sewing TV show I did.

andy warhol robot paintings

In the basement’s special exhibit, I learned that Andy Warhol did children’s book illustrations and product designs. Warhol’s robot has a “kawaii” feel to it.

warhol children's art, panda bears

Same with this panda bear banging a drum. As you can see, we filmed all throughout the trip, and will have a travel video for you soon.

harajuku japanese pattern tights

Doesn’t Israel have an intriguing design scene? What do you think of the cross tights and leopard dress I wore in Jaffa?


The Hippest Places in Portland: new travel video! Food Trucks, art hotels & hipsters.

carmen yuen, la carmina, goth hair

Hip, hip, hooray! My Portland travel video is out on Business Insider, in which I explore the city’s weird and wonderful subcultures. In a lot of ways, it’s my favorite episode so far.

I’m biting my nails to hear what you think… Watch the video above and on BI. Did you laugh at my “fairy dance” and pirate torture scene?

brickbat goth club portland, lovecraft bar

My travel series wouldn’t be possible without these two : Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann, who did all the shooting, editing and production. It’s hard to find people who you can successfully travel, work and Goth-party with!

nightmare before christmas halloween makeup

In our video, we take you inside Portland’s underground subcultures. This includes a live performance of the Nightmare Before Christmas…

goth christmas tree decorations

… complete with a spooky tree, covered with crows and brains.

tim burton halloween display

We also went to the Goth-friendly Lovecraft bar (a tribute to the horror writer) and an underground warehouse party, Steep and Thorny.

1970s vintage white fur coat

I loved Portland’s vintage clothing selection. Been searching for a disco dream-coat like this all my life.

halloween bokeh

Bokeh and ominous reflections, in the window of steampunk boutique Wells & Verne.

sexy steampunk girl art

So many things about Portland are “me” to a T. Such as this steam-girl painting, inspired by Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

buddha rainbow mural

Or this rainbow Buddhist mural on the wall of my room, at the Jupiter Hotel.

velvet devil wine

This hipster hotel must have been expecting me. Velvet Devil wine and green apples in the lobby…

art gallery jupiter hotel

… alongside modern art by local painters.

cat chalk drawing

Portland’s culture is all about creativity. My room at the Jupiter Hotel had a chalkboard door, and First Mate Naomi drew a cat on it.

avalon theater sign portland

I’ll leave you with some bonus shots. This is the Avalon Theater, next to our vegan brunch cafe Paradox. I could have walked around PDX all day long, simply shooting photos.

mismatched color tights

Naomi’s mis-matched tights match the autumn foliage.

orange fall leaves

The Pacific Northwest may be grey and rainy, but you get all four seasons and there is nature everywhere.

jolly roger pirate restaurant

Arr! We went to a food truck pit stop, near the Jolly Roger. We sampled Mexican tacos, crepes and pumpkin butter sandwiches.

food truck, jambalaya

My favorite was the jambalaya, cooked fresh from a Creole truck. (New Orleans is on my list of must-visit places…)

anthem brewing, apple cider beer

PDX is proud of its local craft beer breweries. I enjoyed the pear and cherry ciders by Anthem Brewing.

spooky reflection window

Now you know why Portland is now one of my favorite American cities. Intrigued by the quirky indie culture here? Then please take a few minutes to watch our Portland travel video, highlighting the hippest parts of the city. (Keep your ears peeled for the evil laugh!)

How are you liking my travel video series? For more photos and tips, here are all my posts about Portland alt travel.