Category Archive for Fashion

Yahoo Travel Explorers, Israel video & next travels! Seoul’s strange indoor amusement park, Lotte World.

Reykjavik iceland bloggers trip

Announcing my next travels and writing projects, including the debut of my Israel travel episode! I’ve been hinting at some exciting destinations. In April, I’m embarking on a “Gothic pilgrimmage”:

I will be visiting Reykjavik, Iceland for the first time … followed by Manchester and Whitby Gothic Weekend in the UK!

manchester goth bands

Manchester’s not just famous for football — in fact, many of the earliest Goth and Punk bands emerged here. Joy Division, New Order, and The Smiths to name a few.  Marketing Manchester is sending me on a journey to discover the city’s subculture, past and present. I can’t wait to take you around the Northern Quarter, the current hotspot for young chefs, artists and innovators.

iceland peace tower, white church

I’ll also be stopping by Iceland, with the support of Visit Reykjavik.  I’ve always wanted to see this unique and mysterious country with my own eyes — from Hallgrims Church to Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower. (Above photos via Wikipedia)

whitby gothic weekend, uk seaside goth festival

And I’m crossing off a bucket list destination: Whitby Goth Weekend! Twice a year, Goths gather in this English seaside town to celebrate dark music, culture and fashion.

Will you be at WGW festival? If so, let me know in the comments or on Facebook. I hope to see you there.

yahoo travel explorers, bloggers, travel writers

I’m also thrilled to announce I’ve started writing for Yahoo Travel. As one of the “Yahoo Travel Explorers” bloggers, I’ll be sharing my worldwide stories and videos on their site.

Finally, we’ve been able to release our Israel travel video! Watch me explore the surprisingly edgy culture found in this ancient place. Including hip Israel designers, creative fusion food, LGBT clubs, and the most fabulous drag queen of the holy land. 

(See this episode above and on Yahoo Travel. Produced by Eric Bergemann and Melissa Rundle.)

tel aviv beach, israel sunset

Israel remains one of our most memorable trips to date. Here’s a bonus photo, from the boardwalk at Tel Aviv beach. I’m wearing a tank top and skirt from World Wide Love, the cute-ghost Tokyo brand.

lotte world mascot, lorry

I still have tons of posts to share from last summer, when I went all around Asia. Let’s go back in time to Lotte World, Seoul’s famous indoor amusement park.

seoul indoor amusement park

This indoor theme park is the largest on the planet. The gates open up to a giant hall, framed by hot air balloon rides and roller coasters. Lotte World also has an outdoors portion with scarier rides.

lotte world exterior sign

On the way in, you’ll encounter the mascot, Lotty. He appears to be some sort of chipmunk-raccoon in a vaudeville suit.

lotte balloons, seoul theme park rides

Lotte World’s entrance fee ranges from 12,000 to 46,000 won ($12-44 US) depending on your age, the time of day, and whether you want full access to all the rides (try to go on weekdays to avoid the lines). You can also buy a “no riding” pass, and pay for each attraction individually (about $5-7 each).

Lotte World address: 40-1 Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea

korean couples wearing matching clothes

A lot of families come to the theme park, as well as couples. Many of them wear matching outfits, which is a romance trend in Korea. Yes, those boys are wearing big red bows on their heads…

korean folk museum

When the children are tired of posing with Lotty, take them to bibimbap and tour the Korean folk museum. Visitors can try on hanbok (traditional Korean dresses) and wedding outfits.

seoul magic castle, korea

Outside, the Lotte Magic Castle looks a lot like the Disney one… Talk about a Korean Magic Kingdom.

korean haunted house halloween

The haunted house is a hoot, with live actors that seem to come out of a Korean horror film. These young girls were so scared. At each turn, they screamed and grabbed onto me and my photographers! We had to hold their arms and push them forward.

young korean girls posing

After, it’s all smiles and Victory-hand poses. Except for the Korean girl in the middle, who insisted on hiding her face.

lotte world map, attractions

The map lists so many attractions, from 3D shows to water rides. No wonder Lotte World is a popular destination for all ages.

gyro spin, jamsil amusement park

People lined up for hours to experience the scarier rides, like a 70 meter Gyro Drop, or this Gyro Spin.

lotte popsicles, hello kitty

They cooled off by eating cute popsicles shaped like Lotty, or Hello Kitty. (Photography by Ken Yuen and noircorner.)

lotte world interior

I love roller coasters, but I didn’t have the patience to line up. I was happy to visit Lotte World to see the quirky mascots and unique indoor rides.

korean horror building

I leave you with a ghoulish horror attraction…

seoul halloween party

… a group of stylish Korean teenage girls, doing heart hand-poses…

little korean girl

… and this shy youngster, who was playing with the rooster. For more adventures from Seoul, see all my Korea travel articles!

tel aviv beach sunset ocean, israel

Please take a moment to watch our Israel travel video, on Yahoo Travel. It’s one of our favorites yet.

And let me know your tips for next destinations. I hope to see you in Iceland, Manchester and Whitby Goth Weekend!

Lion dance & lanterns! Hong Kong Chinese New Year celebrations at Hotel sáv, Kowloon.

hong kong lion dance

What’s it like to celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong? Loud and colorful, with fireworks and lions!

In February, Hotel sáv flew us in to ring in the Year of the Sheep (or Goat), and soft-launch their new hotel in Kowloon. We even got to decorate our own “La Carmina room” inside!

chinese new year lion dancing

Even though I’ve traveled to Hong Kong over 20 times, I’ve never been here for “Gung hay fat choi” festivities. Thanks to sáv, I saw the rituals up close… maybe too close, since I got attacked by a hungry purple lion! 

hotel sav, kowloon hong kong

The newly-opened hotel has a lifestyle philosophy that connects with me. They want guests to have an elevated stay: connecting them with local art / culture, and enriching the body / mind.  

(Hotel Sav address: 83 Wuhu Street, Hung Kom, Kowloon, Hong Kong. See map and Chinese directions.)

sav hong kong, boutique hotel

Sav’s modern lobby reflects the “Color Journey” approach. Each shade represents qualities such as creativity, peace and vitality. To give guests a personal experience, every room has a different color.

china lion dancers

Sav hotel brought in lion dancers, to celebrate the Year of the Sheep (or Goat – both are used interchangeably in Asia).

watch lion dance, hong kong

Color, energy, inspiration — these qualities make the hotel stand apart.

grand opening hong kong new hotel

I worked up the courage to pet the furry pink lion…

girl eaten by lion

Unfortunately, the purple lion got jealous. He raised himself on his hind legs… and swallowed me whole! 

(These Goth buckle shoes are by Steel Ground Shoes. I adore their alternative designs — check them out if you’re looking for edgy new footwear.)

chinese traditional musicians

When you see our video, you’ll know this was a raucous performance. Musicians banged on traditional drums and symbols, while the lions twirled and danced.

lion dance climb pole

The yellow dancer scurried up the bamboo pole, a feat that requires expert coordination. The music built up a crescendo… and finally, the lions released confetti and a scroll from their mouths. (The Chinese characters express the wish that “everything will be better than you expect.”)

chinese new year ritual offerings

Everyone cheered, and the Sav hospitality team cut the roast pig down the middle. This offering of food and incense is a classic good luck ritual, in China.

chuang's company, sav hospitality team

Cheers to the Hotel sáv team. We see them working long hours each day, ensuring that every detail is in place for the guests.

hong kong coolest hotel

Their hard work has paid off. The lobby design is remarkable: the lights and logos are constantly changing colors. 

sav hong kong review, lobby

Since it was Chinese New Year, I wanted to wear something with red (the lucky color). My dress is by Hong Kong designer Spider — it has a carnival, festive feeling that matches the occasion. The lace black cape is from Black Milk ClothingMy cat-ears hairstyle is by Stephanie Hoy of Stratosphere Salon, Vancouver.

kowloon hotel patio lounge

The hotel is now open to guests, but some of the amenities are still being finished. I can’t wait to see the completed patio and bar, equipped with an impressive sound system.

playing bongos guitar

The indoor lounge bar, Amplitude, will also open soon. The space will offer specially created cocktails, and can be rented for private events.

hong kong hotel bar

I don’t actually know how to play the bongos, but I did my best. (Photos by Naomiyaki and Melissa Rundle. In the next post, I’ll show you how Naomi made art for our custom room!)

palette restaurant, hong kong

We looked forward to eating at Palette Restaurant every day. Their motto is that “Food should do two things: it should taste completely delicious, and it should contain things that do your body good.”

sav hotel breakfast buffet

Palette’s chefs source local and seasonal ingredients, to make a global menu. No MSG or grease here. (I personally recommend the Singapore laksa, fish balls and vegetables soup, steamed shrimp dumplings, and Thai curry.)

Even if you’re not a guest at Hotel Sav, you can come to experience the daily breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. Save room for desserts!

rainbow cocktails, colorful drinks

Decisions, decisions… Which drink to try first? Sav makes some of the healthiest cocktails around, using fresh fruit such as strawberries rolled up to resemble a rose.

rainbow colored cocktails

True to the theme, each hand-created fruit cocktail corresponds to a color. The lime/rum and orange/honey were my favorites.

goat rings, silver gothic jewelry

How else did we celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong? John Skeleton dropped by, with his new goat-head rings.

hong kong chinese new year fireworks

Hong Kong puts on a stunning fireworks display every year. I don’t recommend going to the Tsim Sha Tsui harbor to watch, since you’ll get crushed by the crowds. My friends and I watched them from my uncle’s apartment on the Kowloon side. We also got lucky red pockets filled with money — one of the best rituals of the season!

year of the sheep lanterns

On a different night, we dropped by the TST waterfront to see the Chinese lantern displays. Above is more proof that cuteness reigns in Asia.

tsim sha tsui harbor lanterns display

Rows of gigantic lanterns, featured smiling and waving sheep.

petting lion, chinese celebrations

Are you familiar with Chinese New Year celebrations? Ever see a lion dance?

Next, I’ll take you inside our custom-decorated Hotel sáv room, and show you more of Hong Kong!

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Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson: Lobby Girl movie costume! Odigo Japan startup launch party.

grand budapest hotel costume, lobby girl

I’ve taken on a new job in the travel industry… located in the imagination of filmmaker Wes Anderson. Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve become a Lobby Girl!

grand budapest hotel logo

My costume is inspired by the “Lobby Boy” character in The Grand Budapest Hotel,  which recently won four Oscar awards. Can you believe I’ve watched this movie about 10 times? It’s witty, charming, funny and stylish — Wes Anderson at his best.

moov magazine cover, wes anderson

I couldn’t resist doing a “Lobby Girl” cosplay, in tribute to the Grand Budapest Hotel. Shutterbug James photographed me in character… and it made the cover of Moov Magazine‘s “Best Of” issue!

Later in this post, I’ll share more photos from our shoot. But first, the Lobby Girl had a gala to host… in Tokyo, Japan. 

tokyo tech travel startup

Last month, I flew to Tokyo for the launch of travel start-up, Odigo. We threw a phenomenal party — thanks to my friends who celebrated with me!

japanese demon masks

What went down? Demon masks, an open bar, Italo Disco music, and a photobooth by ROMP.

jrock style fashion

Are we doing the “X Japan” Jrock sign, or “dame-ee” (which means forbidden, in Japanese)? Probably a bit of both.

tokyo party photobooth

I’m happy to officially unveil Odigo to you. The English-language site is for you guys: people who want to travel to Japan, and see all things offbeat and authentic. 

Readers tell me it’s hard to figure out Japanese addresses, and how to get around. With Odigo, you can easily plan a trip that’s tailored to your interests –– where it’s sushi or Sailor Moon.

keroppy maeda, bagelheads japan

Perhaps you’re intrigued by body modifications, such as bagelheads in Japan? Odigo can show you where to find them. (Hint: look for the man behind the bagel, Keroppy Maeda, above.)

japanese punks goths designers

Odigo also helps you discover underground designers like Ako of Blablahospital (far right). Remember I wore her punk fashions in New Orleans?

tokyo club party photos

It was wonderful to reunite with old friends, and meet new ones. We grooved to DJ Swiftt Edits’ Italo Disco playlist…

colorful hor d'oeuvres

… and nibbled on colorful hor d’oeuvres. Despite the rainy day, our party was packed!

odigo travel startup japan

Several attendees got prizes through the lucky draw. (My lace cape is from Black Milk Clothing.)

Streamer Coffee Company meguro

The event was at Streamers Meguro, a coffee house that brewed probably the best latte I’ve ever had in Japan.

Kilo Shop Tokyo meguro

Upstairs is Kilo Shop Tokyo, which has a large selection of vintage designs.

tokyo vintage dresses shop

Payment is by the kilo, rather than per item.

blue purple hair color

The whole team has been working day and night on the launch, and it’s paid off.

takamasa kawasaki, red horse, embracing diversity

How does my Lobby Girl outfit fit with the site’s mission? In my speech, I explained it represents Odigo’s personalized approach to helping travelers plan “an extraordinary journey” to Japan.

(Above, I’m with founder Takamasa Kawasaki, who wrote a book called “The Power of Embracing Diversity.”)

japan cross dress

Like the concierges of the Grand Budapest Hotel, we’re passionate about sharing the best spots and creating a seamless itinerary, which you can download to a mobile phone and simply follow along.

la carmina and friends

Anyone can contribute travel tips to the site, and build upon previous journeys. I encourage you to check out Odigo and add their Facebook to find out more.

lobby boy costume halloween

Now, let me share the photoshoot we did for Moov Magazine’s cover and spread! Funny enough, I actually stayed in a grand hotel in Budapest, in 2013. This setting, however, is the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Vancouver.

wes anderson oscars best costumes

This movie truly is a must see (here’s a link to the digital download). The cinematography, set design and costumes are outstanding: look at the colors! Those military buttons!

grand budapest hotel, hair makeup

We wanted to re-create this feeling, in our images. Huge kudos to my photographer Shutterbug James, assisted by Amy Kay. My crimped hair is the magnificent work of Stephanie Hoy, of Stratosphere Salon in Vancouver, Canada.

concierge, lobby boy outfit

The Lobby Boy’s hat is integral to his look. I DIY-ed a “Lobby Girl” version of the cap — using felt, fabric and letters, which I painted with gold sparkly nail polish.

lobby boy hat, clothing design

My dress is by Spider, the Hong Kong Gothic Lolita / alternative / cosplay fashion brand by Natalie Lam.
These gold-flecked tights are by Gal Stern.

crimped hairstyle

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver was the ideal setting, with its gilded interiors that date back to the early 20th century.

lobby boy hat, jacket

The interior is full of symmetry and decadent shapes, which would please Mr Anderson. I’ll gladly help guests plan a fun trip…

grand budapest hotel exterior car

… but I’ll let the lobby boys do the heavy lifting. (Above is the hotel exterior, in The Republic of Zubrowka.)

wes anderson halloween costumes

If you haven’t already, you must see the Grand Budapest Hotel (available online!). It’s become my favorite Wes Anderson movie.

lobby boy character costume

The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat is also wonderfully evocative. The CD is available here; it won the 2015 Oscar for best original score.

goth doll modeling shoot

Cheers to Shutterbug James for the fun photoshoot.

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver lobby

Do you think we capture the feeling and aesthetics of the movie?

mendl's bakery box

I even made a Mendl’s Bakery box, and we shot this at a nearby patisserie!

wes anderson fans costumes

Thanks to Moov Magazine for putting this Lobby Girl on the cover.

odigo travel launch event

And gratitude to my friends who came to the Odigo launch event.

streamers coffee shop japan

Fashion One wrote an article about my “Tokyo takeover” — soon, you can watch my “day in the life” TV segment with this style network.

tokyo photo booth photographer

And there’s a lot more Japan coverage coming up, including an DecabarZ 80s club night, and a peek inside the Pokemon theme cafe.

trip planning japan tours

If you’re interested in traveling to Japan, check out Odigo. You can plan trips, submit your own spots, and be part of the fun.

What do you think of my Grand Budapest Hotel costume? Are you a Wes Anderson fan like I am?

Cebu, Philippines Travel Video! GoPro underwater filming & tropical yoga classes.

travel videos vlogs

Today’s a happy day… because our Philippines travel episode has been released!

Want to see me in tropical paradise, doing yoga with Filipino beauty queens? Then watch the 4-minute travel video above below and on Business Insider.

youtube travel show, series

A huge round of applause to sáv Hospitality for teaming up with us, and making this travel film possible. The photos speak for themselves — we loved every moment at Pacific Cebu Resort.

yoga school philippines

PCR is not your typical resort. There are endless activities you can take part in, which let you learn something new and experience Filipino culture. Case in point…

tropical yoga retreat

… I took part in an outdoor yoga lesson, with the Miss Scuba Philippines beauty pageant contestants! What a memory: stretching beneath the palm trees, while listening to the sounds of the ocean.

resort yoga lessons, meditation

Even during the more difficult poses, the ladies smiled and kept their poise.

miss scuba diving

Filmmaker Eric went scuba diving with the contestants. Again, it’s impressive how they can do pageant waves under water.

diving instructor sign

Pacific Cebu Resort has well-regarded scuba instructors (here’s more about the dive school).

tropical fish gopro underwater

Eric took the video and these photos with a GoPro camera — a tiny and affordable device that lets you film under water. We’re big fans of the Go Pro, since it’s easy to use and gets gorgeous shots like the school of fish above. If you’re going snorkeling or diving, take a look at these cameras.

pacific cebu resort, sav

On dry land, we shoot photos with the Sony alpha 7, a mirrorless camera (it’s full-frame quality, but half the size and weight of a regular DSLR).

travel video filming, youtube star

And this travel video was filmed with a Canon 5D Mark II, known as one of the best DSLRs on the market.

hippie fashion, white dress

We loved the philosophy of this hotel group, sáv.  They participate in community programs that aim to build a better future.

pretty filipino girls, Philippines women

The Miss Scuba Philippines contest, for example, raised awareness for marine conservation, safe diving practices and scuba tourism  — while celebrating the inner beauty and courage of today’s young women

miss scuba pageant winner

We listened to 2013 Miss Scuba first runner up, Christine Paula Love Bernasor, speak about the “Sea of Change” required to save marine life.

philippines models, beauty queens

This one-of-a-kind pageant fits perfectly with sáv’s theme of well-being for the body, soul, and environment. 

danggit fish heads philippines

Even the food reflected the Filipino culture. At each meal, we could order local favorites like adobo chicken, lumpia and lechon. Above — I tried danggit, or crispy fish heads dipped in vinegar. They were great!

calamansi juice

I also discovered a new favorite drink: calamansi (a tart citrus from Southeast Asia) with gin. Such a pleasure, to sip this cocktail while looking out at the beach.

cebu luxury resorts

Many resorts can get boring after a while… but not this one. Guests can get accredited in SCUBA right on location.

cebu diving sites

Cebu is diving paradise, with dozens of coral-rich reefs just off the islands.

travel video host, presenter

Other activities: banana boats, sunset cruises, para-sailing…  

youtube travelers series

You’ll recall that one of my favorite days of 2014 was this one — sailing around Lapu Lapu, and meeting the villagers.

travel vloggers

The three above photos are by K of Bright Production in Hong Kong. The other images are by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.

sav pacific cebu resort spa

And don’t forget the 24-hour spa service. The PCR staff can even send a masseuse to your room.

southeast asia yoga retreat

Travelers tend to overlook Cebu as a beach destination, but coming here opened my eyes. It’s not expensive to stay in the Philippines, and a roundtrip flight from Hong Kong is only around $200 US.

pacific cebu resort rooms

The islands aren’t overrun with tourists and chain restaurants. And I found the beaches, scuba and snorkel to be better here than in Phuket or Bali.

cebu honeymoon hotel

We can’t thank Pacific Cebu Resort enough for this beautiful experience. For more photos and stories, check out more of my Philippines travel stories.

travel yoga classes

And please watch our Cebu travel video here. Thanks for supporting my work!

Have you ever considered a yoga retreat? Did this series convince you to visit the Philippines?

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