Category Archive for Fims + Videos

My Thailand Luxury Travel Video! Bangkok pop culture at boutique hotel, Sofitel So.

bangkok view, boutique hotel

I loved getting to know the glam side of Bangkok, thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. There’s so much more to this city than backpackers, banana pancakes… and dare I mention ladyboys?

travel video host, episodes

See for yourself, in the latest episode of my Business Insider travel video series. Watch it here — isn’t Bangkok’s pop culture fascinating?

Photos and video by me and Seby. Our Thai adventure included disco clubs, skeleton corsets, and an amusing encounter on the way to Siam mall!

lolita fashion lookbook

We also visited two sweet designers, who are making Lolita and Japanese-style clothing (here’s a full post about ChuChu). Wonderful to see how the subculture is thriving in unexpected places.

absinthe drip, glass cups

I couldn’t have stayed in a more beautiful hotel, the Sofitel So. They even served absinthe in the lobby.

fashion club lounge

VIP members get access to the club lounge, which is stocked with food, cocktails and fashion.

christian lacroix couture paintings

Christian Lacroix designed the interior. His colorful couture is unmistakable.

le petit prince chocolates, little prince

The ground floor contained a Bonnet chocolate shop. I spotted Little Prince sweets, and Parisian shoes and handbags.

earth theme room, cool hotel design

Sofitel So BKK is inspired by the five elements. I stayed in this funky Earth-themed suite.

air element theme room, cloud art

The other themes are Water, Wood, Fire, and Air — represented by modern cloud art.

freestanding modern bathtub

The entire hotel had glorious views of Lumpini Park. This is a far cry from the Khao San Road hostels…

deer antlers sculpture

Stark art is everywhere. I saw a child climbing on this white deer statue.

bangkok modern art store

I spy Ted the Bear in the gift shop.

thai writing, carvings

The lobby’s design mixes traditional and modern.

purple haired girl

Also check out the romantic photoshoot I did inside the Sofitel So Bangkok. (My hair is now blue; these are older photos).)

business insider travel videos

Please take a minute to watch my Bangkok travel video, and leave a comment to let me know what you think!

bunny rabbit art

Did this series change your impressions of Thailand? What is the loveliest hotel you’ve ever slept in?

Travel hosting in Zagreb & Belgrade: wine bars, a comedy club & Slovenia scenery.

tvornica kulture, zagreb alternative music concerts

I’m smiling wide… because my travel episode about Belgrade and Zagreb is out! Watch the third and final installment of my Eastern European journey, featured on the front page of Business Insider.

In this video, my Eurail.com journey takes me to floating raft bars, cutting edge fashion stores, and much more. I hope our coverage will encourage you to visit Croatia and Serbia in person.

Video and photography by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann
Japanese subtitles translation by Jotaro Tojo

hello kitty tshirt, skeleton leggings

Here are the rest of the photos from my coolhunting journey in Zagreb. Our friend Andrea introduced us to divIT, a young tech company that is revolutionizing the way people experience video games.

Do you like my “two buns” hair? I’m wearing a Hello Kitty KiLaRa top, and leggings from Izzue HK.

iron man dance, 3d modeling program

Inspired by Kineckt technology, this “3D Gesture Recognition” program lets you control an avatar (Iron Man, The Hulk) with your body movements.

rollercoaster ride 3d virtual reality mask

divIT is also working on a virtual reality headset that is a giant leap forward from the 1990s versions. Put on the Oculus, and you find yourself in a 360 degree fantasy world (look up and behind you – there are no blank areas). I felt like I was in a rickety roller-coaster, climbing up… and then throttling down. The rush feels real; I was hanging on to my seat!

Studio Smijeha, zagreb comedy club

Speaking of ground-breaking, Andrea took us to Studio Smijeha (Vlaška 92), the first comedy club in the former Yugoslavia. In this region, locals aren’t familiar with the concept of stand-up. As Seinfeld would say, “What’s the deal with that?”

stand up comedy, zagreb croatia

It’s tough, engaging audiences when they’ve never experienced stand-up comedy before. I’m impressed by the Smijeha crew’s ambition and drive; they write hours of new material each week, and set high standards for their performances. Before long, I’m sure they will be making waves.

Wine Bar Basement zagreb

During this trip, I ate some of my best meals in Zagreb. Near the base of the “funicular” (remember what this is?), there lies Wine Bar Basement (Tomićeva ulica 5). This bunker-like space has a huge menu of Croatian wines, which have recently been getting raves from connoisseurs.

basement, zagreb wine bar, croatian wines

We paired our red wines with a plate of sheep and goat cheese, prosciutto, cranberries and other munchies. Let me tell you… these cheeses from local farms have so much more flavor. Nothing from the Whole Foods specialty corner can compare.

Strossmartre zagreb, outdoor concerts

We hung out with Tom, vocals/guitar of the swing and rhythm n’ blues band, Tom & The Twisters. He took us to Strossmartre or “Summer on Stross,” a seasonal festival that transforms Upper Town into celebration of music, dancing, and drinking.

Strossmartre festival, croatia pirates

Arr, we behold Pirates! Locals hung out under the colored lights, listening to the live bands and dancing in a circle. Down the street was another free event: Summer Cinema Gradec, an open-air screening of art films.

missing the train, railway

Thanks to Andrea for being an incredible friend and guide — we wouldn’t have known about these places without her. We hope you’ll get to experience her hospitality too, by renting her Zagreb apartment or Croatian seaside apartment when you visit.

slovenia landscape, eastern european scenery lakes

One of the best parts of traveling by Eurail.com train: the front-row scenic views. My film team and I passed through Slovenia, during our final ride from Zagreb to Vienna. These photos don’t do the country justice; you really have to be there in person, seeing the picture-perfect farms and sun reflecting off the lakes…

europe trains, eurail pass review

None of these experiences would have been possible without our partner Eurail.com. Thanks for the comfortable journey, and we hope you’ll check out their passes and bundles — there’s no better way to discover Europe.

Don’t forget to read all my Eastern European posts, and watch my Croatian/Serbian travel video on Business Insider. Were you surprised by what we found in these countries?

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Tokyo Christmas Lights display: Shinjuku southern terrace bakery. Vienna & Bratislava Goth travel video.

cute face purse, mercibeaucoup furry bag

‘Tis the season to be jolly! I had a wonderful time in Tokyo, working on a European TV shoot. During my downtime, I took photos of the city’s Christmas light displays and cute holiday gifts, which I’ll share with you in this post.

Another reason to make merry: my Vienna and Bratislava travel episode is published on the front page of Business Insider! Please enjoy my latest video (featuring Austrian Gothlolis) and the “bokeh-ful” photos below.

Christmas lights japan, fashion snaps

This wall of lights was the perfect place to shoot my new :3-faced purse, from the Mercibeaucoup store in Marui Shinjuku Annex. Isn’t it darling? This dog-like creature comes in tan-colored faux fur as well, but I chose the blue one to match my current hair.

sugar skull sweater, sourpuss cardigan

I went for an all-purple coordinate.

Sugar skull purple cardigan: gifted by Sourpuss Clothing. (I also own their cat-face cardigan, which you can buy online.)
Plaid purple skirt: Peace Now, similar to this one available for sale
Faux fur eggplant colored scarf: Holt Renfrew. Almost identical to this scarf.

shinjuku southern terrace christmas tree lights

My business partner Naomi shot these photos of me in Shinjuku Southern Terrace. During the holiday season, this passageway is lit up with little LEDs, which snake around the trees and walls.

christmas lights bokeh, xmas lights

Xmas displays are the perfect opportunity to produce “bokeh”, or these nifty glowing balls of lights.

tokyo japan christmas decorations, trees

In Japan, not very many people identify as Christians. Nevertheless, Christmas decorations and lights are everywhere. This impressive annual display turns the Southern Terrace into a dream-land.

christmas penguins, shinjuku tokyo japan

You’ll rarely see religious iconography. Instead, the stars of the show are cute winter creatures… like these penguins!

cute xmas displays japan

Judging from the holiday goods for sale, the Japanese put “kawaii” above all else.

cute bear christmas tree decoration

This Xmas ornament is a perfect example: it incorporates a teddy bear, stars and bon-bons.

cute japanese reindeer sticker

Or how about this kawaii Rudolph the Reindeer sticker, from a 100 yen store.

tokyo store windows, mylord

Or a Santa Claus pig. People do exchange Christmas gifts and have gatherings with friends, but not many attend church.

Christmas Russian Dolls japan

Nonetheless, there’s a merry feeling in the air. It’s a great time of the year to pick up little presents, like these Russian Doll cookies.

gontran cherrier tokyo, artisan boulanger

The bright Southern Terrace is home to one of the best bakeries in Tokyo: Gontran Cherrier. This window image makes me think of “The Little Matchstick Girl.”

tokyo japan gingerbread cookies

I’m a big fan of gingerbread, and pressed my nose to this display.

christmas cookies tokyo, shinjuku bakery

Gontran Cherrier has many pumpkin baked goods, including pumpkin curry buns. I also found yuzu cheesecake and black squid ink pizza.

tree shaped croissants

Croissants get a Christmas tree twist, and are dusted with powdered sugar snow.

japanese department store display, odakyu

All over Tokyo, you’ll find wonderful department store displays. This child seems to like the steampunk-y window at Odakyu.

laduree christmas box

Ritzy boutiques like Laduree aren’t the only ones that get into the Christmas spirit.

algonquins blue goth boots

Even the Goth Punk store Algonquins “makes the Yuletide gay.”

smiley face animal purse, kawaii bags

I did quite a bit of “me to me” shopping in Tokyo. My funny-faced Mercibeaucoup bag is among my favorite new purchases.

lumine japan, christmas tree

Lots more Japan winter fashion to show you, including a Nightmare Before Christmas collection from Lumine.

shallow depth of field, bokeh xmas lights

My faux fur purse is large enough to hold my Sony DSLR a700 camera, which I’m taking everywhere with me now. (The extra weight is worth it, for photos like these.)

rainbow bokeh lights, shallow focus

To achieve bokeh and shallow focus, I use a prime lens (Sony 50mm f/1.8). A quick way to achieve this effect: get in aperture mode (A on the dial), and stop down to a low f-number.

bokeh effect, photography japan

I shot this string of rainbow lights right outside the Shinjuku station east exit.

shinjuku neon sign

The “Shinjuku” neon sign, with a traditional man and woman, always makes me smile. Isn’t Japan amazing during the winter?

PS: My newest travel episode, about Vienna and Bratislava’s cool culture, is released! Watch me hang out with Austrian Gothic Lolitas, visit a rockabilly stores, and drink absinthe in a Slovakian bar.

bratislava slovakia graffiti art

I leave you with a bonus photo of Slovakia’s spooky street art. Would you do a European train trip like mine? I hope you learned something new from our Business Insider video; let us know your feedback in the comments. Happy holidays!

A Gothic Fairy Halloween! The Lovecraft Bar Brickbat club, Lincoln Restaurant Portland, Argus Car Hire.

lovecraft bar, portland goth club

The Old Ones have woken in Oregon… and I’m about to have my spookiest Halloween yet!

Thanks to Travel Portland, my film team and I got to dance with monsters at Lovecraft Bar, and dine at Andrew Zimmern’s beloved Lincoln Restaurant. Plus, I got to debut my new blue-green hair. Perhaps you’ve already glimpsed it on my social networks, linked on the sidebar –>

art nouveau hair accessories, flower crown

I had navy hair in my mid-late teens, but products were weak back then and it faded quickly to a murky green. But now, it’s possible to get salon-quality dyes in rainbow colors.

My amazing stylist Stephanie Hoy at Avant Garde Hair Vancouver bleached my hair, and layered on turquoise, blue and dark purple. She stayed away from yellow-green tones, in order to complement my skin. What do you think of this big change?

The romantic hair flower clips were custom-made for me by Angelica Brigade. I love her detailed work and delicate fabrics. She takes requests through her site, so you can have her create accessories to perfectly match your outfits.

lip service goth fairy costume

I had three Halloween costumes this year; here’s Look #1. The Goth Fairy dress, wings and star tights are from my friends at Lip Service, the popular Gothic brand that also makes Victorian and Steampunk garments. My cut-out boots are Yosuke, bought in Shinjuku Marui One in Tokyo.

dark angel, gothic fairy halloween wings

Although I look ready to party, I’m really here to make travel videos and articles with my hard-working film team. On these shoots, timing is key: we need to get around to a lot of locations during our short stay.

If you’re travelling to Portland, I highly recommend renting a car. Having this rental from Argus Car Hire helped us enormously — each day, we shot at up to six locations all over the city!

I’m notorious for complaining about my vehicles (“There’s no suspension! The wheel is jerky!”) but with Argus, the experience was 100% smooth, no pun intended. We got a spotless Subaru Legacy with less than 2000 miles on it. Enough legroom for our 4-person pirate team, and the color even matched my outfit.

goth dress, wings, halloween costume

Since I travel so much, I’m going to make Argus Car Rentals my go-to. They work with multiple companies, so they have a much larger selection of vehicles and options — 30,000 locations worldwide including USA, Canada, Europe.

argus car hire, rental cars portland

Now, time to fly away and eat! We drove about 15 minutes to North Portland, to try one of the most talked-about restaurants in the Pacific Northwest.

jenn louis, lincoln restaurant portland oregon

When I had dinner with Andrew Zimmern in Vancouver, he told me I had to meet his talented friend, chef Jenn Louis. She kindly invited us to her flagship Lincoln Restaurant (3808 N Williams Ave, Portland OR).

food tv filmmaker, film crew

Filmmaker Melissa shoots a collection of Jenn’s accolades, including Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine. Jenn built up her resume in kitchens around the US, but fell in love with PDX’s foodie culture and local ingredients. She opened Lincoln and then Sunshine Tavern, and recently appeared on Top Chef Masters.

lincoln restaurant cocktails

After filming an interview with Jenn, we sat down to beautiful cocktails: “The Stone Fence” with Bourbon and apple cider, “Double Agent” with bourbon, Aperol and peach bitters. Perhaps our favorite is the one not pictured: a mix of mint-citrus syrup and Prosecco.

portland best restaurants, dessert

We started with appetizers: two hen eggs, pure local flavor. Then apple fritters with pickled chili aioli, and grilled octopus with olives. These seemingly incongruous ingredients are magic together; the flavors are surprising, thoughtful, balanced.

Same goes for the panna cotta with caramelized popcorn sauce (top right image). Imagine the taste of the movie theater without the crunch, paired with silky cream.

sea urchin gnocchi, jenn louis pasta

And here’s the money shot: sea urchin gnocchi. The bokeh really expresses the “choir of angels” feeling I had on my first taste. I usually find this type of pasta too chewy and starchy, and “uni” too rich and briney. But this is a completely different experience: melt-in-your-mouth bites of potato and ricotta, with a brush of sea urchin, Italian cayenne, mint and bottarga (cured fish roe).

blue hair, turquoise hair color

I’m still reflecting on this meal; it’s honestly one of my favorites from this entire year. Thank you Andrew Zimmern for introducing us to your talented friends at Lincoln Restaurant. Can’t wait to show you the video footage we took with Jenn Louis.

hp lovecraft bar, sci fi weird bars

Later, we went nightcrawling at The Lovecraft Bar (421 SE Grand Ave, Portland OR). It’s named after horror author HP Lovecraft, best known for his Cthulhu Mythos. I’m a fan of his writings, and have wanted to cross this venue off my “Goth bucket list” for some time.

lovecraft posters, club night

Inside the (appropriately) small and dark club, his portraits and book covers line the wall. I was convinced that Lovecraft’s eyes would follow me, like in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.”

portland gothic party, brickbat Mansion

The decor is a tribute to his universe. Tentacles represent Cthulhu, an Old God who looks like an octopus with claws and wings (much like my own). Lovecraftian symbols are everywhere, like this pentagram-like Necronomicon gate. Note the cute “No Entry” sign and my ever-present glass of absinthe.

lovecraft symbols, portland bar

Every first Friday of the month is a no-cover Goth night, called Brickbat Mansion. The DJs played highly danceable darkwave, post-punk, classic Gothic and shoegaze.

angelica brigade, art nouveau hair decorations

I won’t go into detail, but let’s say we had a bit too much fun on the dance floor. Portland locals are a friendly, kooky bunch. (My makeup is from Annabelle Cosmetics — love their creamy eyeshadows that match my new hair, and TwistUp lipstick crayons.)

eyeball balloon, goth balloons

Things got scandalous, when we got our hands on the balloons… We may or may not have left with a giant eyeball or two.

bear costume halloween

It doesn’t get better than this: celebrating Halloween in a sci-fi Goth party with my Pirate film crew. I’m lucky to be able to work with my friends, and glad that we can travel worldwide and shoot the topics we love. (Outfit and restaurant photography by Melissa Rundle; food closeups by me; Lovecraft images by First Mate Naomi.)

portland clubbing, dance parties

Much more Halloween shenanigans on the way, along with a video. I still have two costumes to show you!

PS: I’ve updated my travel TV hosting reel. Watch it above and on YouTube. The clips include Food Network, Today Show, Travel Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, CNN… How fun to see my hair change over time.

the lovecraft bar, portland or

How do you like Portland’s spooky side? Thoughts on my new mermaid-colored hair?

PPS: If you’ve read H.P. Lovecraft and want to chat with me about his weird tales, I invite you to comment in this post or on my Facebook. “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”