Category Archive for Hong Kong + Macau
What will we humans wear, in the year 2100? My bet is on this Alien Botany dress, designed by my talented friend Zoetica Ebb!
I’m excited to reveal that her futuristic dress collection is back, in a limited quantity run. I’ve been wearing mine like a second skin — this truly is wearable art, designed with the body in mind.
Artist Zoetica Ebb and I have known each other for years, and I’ve long admired her multimedia work.
Her Alien Botany collection reflects her fascination with the cosmos and alternate history. Tentacles and alien flora slink over the fabric, creating a form-flattering effect.
The Alien Botany dresses are made with a breathable heavy spandex. Zoetica’s hyper-detailed drawings are custom printed in ornate, dazzling detail. A square collar and dip hem add to the elegance of the design.
I love the versatility of the garment: I’ve worn it at a crazy underground party, a family wedding, and a gathering with friends. Bonus for travelers: the fabric doesn’t crease, so it’s easy to pack in a suitcase.
I’m always looking for unique fashion that reflects my love of the future, technology and subcultures. Alien Botany’s “neon space punk” is unlike anything I’ve seen in stores.
(Joey Wong shot these photos of me in Brooklyn, NY. My hair is colored and styled by Stephanie Hoy of Vancouver, Canada).
With my purple hair, this dress seems to be made for me. Here’s a close-up of the stand-out detailing and colors.
Happy news: these Alien Botany dresses have re-launched today, in two styles! You can find out more on Zoetica Ebb’s web shop.
I have the Venenum (left), and it also comes in the Theca (monochrome).
On May 3rd, you’ll be able to see Zoetica’s editorial for the Spring 2016 issue of Auxiliary Magazine. She styled and art-directed a showcase of her Alien Botany dresses, for this alternative fashion magazine.
Zoetica is an independent designer, and her collections are released only in small batches. If you like what you see, I encourage you to act now — once pieces are gone, they may not be available again…
The Alien Botany dresses are available internationally at www.zoeticaebb.com, along with Zoetica’s original prints and art. Let me know what you think of my friend’s designs, and it would be fantastic if you can share this post to support her!
Since this post has to do with the future… it makes sense to continue our adventures in Hong Kong.
I still have photos to share with you, from my last trip to this tech-happy, pop culture city.
Hong Kong’s malls always have life-size displays for people to pose with. I came across these fighter robots and a special merchandise pop-up.
Outside iSquare mall, I found circus statues starring B. Duck, the rubber ducky.
I’ve photographed most of Hong Kong’s streetwear malls for you, but never got the chance to showcase The One in Tsim Sha Tsui until now.
Causeway Bay remains my favorite shopping district, but TST is a close second. It has several malls dedicated to Chinese streetstyle, all within walking distance of the subway.
I could easily spend several hours in The One, a mall with dozens of levels. (Address: 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon)
I walked in, and immediately saw rocker fashion featuring Hello Kitty! I’d wear that leather jacket and clothes with all-over graphics.
Malls like The One are in my “sweet spot” for price and quality. The designs are unique (found only in Asia) and well made, but not overly expensive.
Here’s my old favorite, Hyoma x Mini Cream. The sale prices are truly insane in Hong Kong. For example, I paid $26 US for a pair of metallic shoes from this brand — originally, they were over $200.
The label’s black devil cat with round googly-eyes is irresistible.
Other boutiques in The One had collaborations with characters popular in the 1980s and 90s. The streetwear shop Ginger teamed up with Mr Happy and friends.
This mall seems to be dedicated to mascots. Garfield and Rubber Ducky are the faces of the label B. Duck.
The One is also home to the Gudetama theme restaurant, which serves dim sum that looks like the Sanrio egg character.
And then, there’s the one who rules them all: Miffy the bunny! The purse with her crying face and plush dangling ears… yes.
I got a black and white graphic sweater at the Miffy x Two Percent store. She remains my favorite cute character.
Hong Kong’s TST district is home to another favorite shopping plaza: K11 Art Mall. As the name suggests, the boutiques all have an artistic bent.
As I walked in, I bowed to the smiling dog by Japanese artist Murakami. (More photos below after the jump…)
Visiting Cheung Chau Island by ferry! Hong Kong cute character stores, FoFo Spanish restaurant, Bindaas Indian.
Believe it or not… the above photo was taken in Hong Kong!
The city is known for its tall skyscrapers and hectic atmosphere. However, you can escape into nature — simply by taking the ferry to several nearby islands, including Cheung Chau and Lamma Island.
(My top is by Disturbia. More fashion by this Gothic brand below.)
I’ll also show you some of the newest restaurants and kawaii pop culture in Hong Kong, such as this Sailor Moon makeup collection at SaSa.
One of Hong Kong’s icons is the Star Ferry, this open-air boat that runs from Tsim Sha Tsui (on the Kowloon side) to Central Pier. From there, you can hop onto ferries that take you to the outer-lying islands.
The most popular islands are the beach-y Discovery Bay, and Cheung Chau (home to the annual bun festival, where brave or foolhardy participants climb up a giant tower made of Chinese buns). It takes about 40-60 minutes for the ferry to reach these islands.
As you sail, you’ll get to take in spectacular views of Hong Kong’ skyscrapers. However, be prepared for choppy waters that can rock you off your feet.
I recommend visiting the lesser-known Lamma Island, which has a relaxed hippie vibe. Lamma is home to a cat museum (or Mewseum), small seafood restaurants, and plenty of secluded natural spots for swimming and hiking.
I also went to the larger Cheung Chau island for the first time. This is a popular day-trip destination for both locals and tourists, as it lets them escape the “Hong Kong hustle” for a fishing village atmosphere.
When you step onto the boardwalk, you’ll see rows of little shops selling island specialties: dried squid, fish balls on a stick, and the famous stamped buns.
At this grocer, we spotted a cat in a Superman costume. “It’s a bird… it’s a plane… It’s Super-Maoo!”
It’s possible to walk around Cheung Chau — but the winding paths around the island are made for cycling. There are plenty of stores that rent out bicycles and canopy-covered tricycles.
It’s a must do. I had so much fun zipping around and taking in the ocean views. With a bike, it’s easy to stop by landmarks such as the Cheung Po Tsai pirate cave.
I enjoyed my island getaways, as a way to slow down and relax in nature. However, there’s no place like Hong Kong to get your cute shopping on!
Causeway Bay remains the best neighborhood of Sanrio goods, and all things kawaii. (Here’s my comprehensive guide to shopping in Causeway Bay.)
Is there anything as cute as a basket of squishy-faced kittens? Whenever I’m in the Causeway Bay district, I stop by this cute cat store (more info and photos here.)
It’s the best concept ever. All of the cats inside this store… have flat faces!
There’s always a Scottish Fold and Exotic Shorthair in there. You can say hi to them, and pick up cat toys or food.
As you’ll recall from my Causeway Bay travel guide, this area is known for its Japanese malls.
Laforet always has changing themed displays. When I went, it was covered with pictures of Sanrio’s Little Twin Stars.
The pastel shades of the 1980s are back in style. Kiki and Lala haven’t aged a day.
In Hong Kong, Sanrio characters are everywhere — and they’re not only for kids. You’ll find high quality purses, wallets, shoes and clothes with subtle designs featuring the characaters. ANS and KiLaRa are two Asian brands that often collaborate with Sanrio.
Kawaii is sometimes a bit twisted, in Hong Kong. Everywhere you go, there are cute-meets-weird signs and public displays.
You know I’m addicted to Miffy the bunny… Arome Bakery has dozens of location around the city, and this season, they carried Miffy moon cakes that came in tin boxes.
Arome has a new dark chocolate truffle Miffy cake with gold eyes and an X mouth. It’s scrumptious: layers of moist pudding and cake, spongy and not too sugary.
Isn’t it funny how Miffy, a character from the Netherlands, has taken over Hong Kong? In Japan and Korea, you won’t find nearly as many Miffy toys and products — and there are no such cakes.
One of my favorite stores is Homeless, the interior design shop with locations in Central and Sha Tin. They sell lots of Miffy goods — I picked up “Nijntje” keychains (that is her Dutch name).
In the Hung Hom mall next to Harbour Plaza Metropolis hotel, I stumbled upon a holiday display.
Since this is Miffy’s 60th anniversary, the bunny with the X-mouth is everywhere. (She currently has Miffy cafe and big displays at Hysan Place and other Causeway Bay locations.)
Every time I’m in Hong Kong, I stop by the Miffy TwoPercent fashion boutiques. I usually go to the Miffy shop in Causeway Bay’s WTC, but saw these backpacks in The One TST. (I’ll do a full report about this mall soon.)
Japanese kawaii designs are found in every part of Hong Kong — and usually for much lower prices. I couldn’t resist getting the fat mouse from the MiniSo store. Each toy is about $4 US.
Minions is currently the rage in Hong Kong, and I saw their smiling faces on lattes.
Cats remain popular as ever. You can find maneki nekos (fortune cats) everywhere for sale. These ones have both paws raised, for extra luck!
Another reason to love Hong Kong: the international dining. I had a magnificent dinner at the award-winning Spanish restaurant, FoFo by el Willy (address: 2-8 Wellington St). The smiling chef, Alex Fargas, skillfully designed the menu with influences from his native Barcelona and travels abroad.
I felt at home in the minimal space, decorated with rows of white penguins on the shelves and chandeliers. The server introduced me to a cute, round bull statue and explained that he is the mascot — since the word “fofo” means plump!
From the 20th floor window, we had a fantastic view of Central’s bright lights. Our server walked us up to the laid back rooftop, where people lounged and enjoyed cocktails. (I loved the rose sangria, with fresh cut strawberries and apples.)
The chef is a master at traditional Spanish dishes, which he delivers with a contemporary execution. We ate up every bite of the “bikini” sandwiches made with the finest cheese and Iberian ham, and juicy paella with seafood (above).
El Willy gets especially inventive with its tapas, or bite-sized shareable plates. I popped a “Salmon Explosive Air Bag” in my mouth, and the pastry burst into a delight of truffle sour cream and smoked salmon. Also home runs: paella crackers with sea urchin, and scallop ceviche with avocado and crispy shallots.
The desserts hit the spot with a freshly baked apple tart, churros with dark chocolate dipping sauce, and a creative “mojito” made with mint, jelly and sorbet.
With a laid back atmosphere and exceptional cuisine, FoFo is now on my short-list of favorite restaurants in Hong Kong.
The chefs recently came here from India, and brought their expertise to each dish. Nothing is heavy-handed: the ingredients are fresh, and the spices are a delight to the palate.
At the same time, Bindaas is not afraid to get creative, and excels at fusion. Their naan pizza is a must eat: it comes with several varieties of toppings, and brilliantly merges two comfort foods into one.
Bindaas also serves wonderful original cocktails with Indian flavors, such as yogurt lassi. (Photos from this restaurant by Sniper Chau)
The seafood curries and tandoori dishes are stand-outs, and the small plates are great for sharing with a group of friends.
Bindaas is brilliant at Indian fusion, and is a welcome entry to the Hong Kong food scene.
Do these food and cute cat photos make you want to visit Hong Kong? In the next post, I’ll announce my April destinations, so stay tuned…
Happy New Year! Before we jump into 2016, let’s wrap up the second half of my “Year in Review” — which included journeys to Morocco, Cambodia, Vietnam and Portugal.
This year, I was fortunate to work with a number of travel partners that made these trips possible. I’ll give you a deeper look at how these blogging projects come together (case studies, if you will). Hopefully this sheds some light into the way we team up on projects around the world.
The downside of being a road warrior is that you can’t spend as much time with your pets…
But my Scottish Fold cat had his own adventure this summer. He went on a stuffed toy tour of Poland, with Panda Tours. (Here’s the full story.)
Meanwhile, my film team and I went on a long and slightly grueling trip throughout Spain, Morocco and Portugal.
Since we aren’t on the road full time, we try to combine as many destinations, partners and projects into a two or three-week leg. This way, we can keep flights to a minimum and capture a lot of content, in a limited amount of time. Then, we can go home and work on this material for you, in various formats (videos, travel stories, photos).
For our Southern Europe journey, we partnered with Spain Tourism Board, Portugal Tourism, and Eurail (riding between the cities on their rail passes). We also stayed with hotels like the art nouveau El Palauet Barcelona (here are all the photos).
We’ll only ever team up with partners that are a natural fit with our niche (artistic, creative, offbeat travels). It’s a delicate balance, and we turn down a lot of offers. At the end of the day, our primary mission is to capture worldwide stories that otherwise wouldn’t get a voice — such as punk rock artists in Iceland, and women running collective businesses in Morocco.
A perfect example: We worked with Plan-It Fez Tours for our Morocco journey (driving from Tangier to Fez, Marrakesh, Essaouira). Thanks to their translation and expertise, we were able to stay in Berber villages and interview locals.
We were happy to get the word out Plan-It Fez, since their approach was exactly in line with ours (and we wholeheartedly recommend their tours for travelers to Morocco). With their support, we were able to dive right into the culture — such as by taking a henna workshop with ladies of all generations.
- If you’re interested in more, enjoy all my Morocco posts here.
As I mentioned, we try to visit multiple destinations in one go. From Marrakesh, we flew to Lisbon and took the train to Porto.
When tourism boards assist us (with a driver, accommodations, meals etc), we can cover more ground in a short period, without stressing about the logistics of getting around. Keep in mind that we aren’t traveling as tourists for leisure, but have work responsibilities — so we can’t just show up somewhere and “wing it.”
I haven’t gotten around to sharing all my stories from Portugal yet, but they’re coming up… and this country is now one of my favorites in all of Europe!
I also frequently travel for television hosting jobs, especially in Asia. In spring, I was in Tokyo for a Travel Channel shoot. Later that summer, I was flown to Hong Kong for a major US network TV project. As usual, I must keep mum until it comes out… and it can take a while.
For example, I filmed with German TV in Hong Kong last year, and didn’t get to post the clip until recently (watch me on Inside TV with Palina Rojinski).
While in Hong Kong, I also did a dark fashion photoshoot with my friends. I also collaborated with a new pet supplies company called Pet Sensei, which has Basil as its mascot! (All the details and modeling images here).
When I have time off in Hong Kong, I take the opportunity to find cute shops and cafes to share with you. One of my most popular articles last year was about the Hello Kitty Chinese dim sum restaurant, and it’s no surprise why.
Hanoi is only a two-hour flight from Hong Kong… say yes to an adventure, always! This time, I collaborated with Vietnam Food Tour. Similar to Morocco, I was able to have an immersive, foodie experience thanks to the help of these local experts.
From making spring rolls with a village grandma, to interviewing tattoo artists in Hanoi, Vietnam surpassed all my expectations. (Read all my Vietnam travel posts here.)
We made a casual video about these Vietnamese adventures — watch it above, for pirate shenanigans!
You’ve probably noticed that I travel with different people (who help me with the photography and videos). Who accompanies me?
It depends on the job, location and availability, but I’m always around friends — which makes these trips all the more fun.
I wrapped up 2015 with a journey to Cambodia, thanks to my long-time flight colleagues HK Express.
I felt at peace in Siem Reap as soon as I arrived. One of my favorite outfit shoots of the year was this one, at Le Meridien hotel (another partner that shares our artistic leanings). Soon, I’ll share a video from our Cambodian travels.
It was unthinkable — even a few years ago — that I’d be able to see such incredible places around the world, with my own eyes. The sunrise at Angkor Wat temple was one of the magic moments of 2015, and I’m excited for what 2016 holds.
If my 2015 was all about travel, then what will be the word for 2016? Technology. I have to keep my current project secret for now, but it’s happening — and I’ll share the news with you as it unfolds.
Sending you all the best for 2016. Be bold, take a leap, live life according your terms… and let this be the most extraordinary year yet!
2015 is drawing to a close… Time for my annual blog ritual of looking back at the highlights of the year!
In my 2014 recap (see part 1 and part 2), I was determined to dedicate more of this site to travel and subculture stories. I feel like this goal came into fruition: my work took me to 14 different countries in 2015, where I covered alternative topics ranging from British Goth festivals to Moroccan beauty workshops.
In this post, I’ll share how these projects came together, and reminisce on my favorite memories of the first six months (above is my Giuseppina Magazine cover – here is the whole shoot). I’ve also embedded my travel videos from each destination, in case you missed them when they first came out.
And the year’s not quite done yet… Two more destinations ahead. Find out what they are at the end of this post, and on my social networks (@lacarmina, linked below). Thanks for being part of my journey, and here’s to a meaningful 2016!
My travel filmmakers and I started the year in Hong Kong, where we were working with the new Hotel Sav. I always love coming back to this city, where I have many friends and relatives.
It was an incredible honor to have my own hotel room at Sav, which I decorated with artist Naomiyaki! This “Floor of Love” project appealed to us because it had the goal of elevating a traveller’s stay through art, and giving back to charity.
Check out all my Hong Kong articles here for the behind-the-scenes story of how we made a “La Carmina” room, and what these paintings represent.
We also celebrated Chinese New Year for the first time, in Hong Kong.
Dragon dances, fireworks and food… take a moment to watch the travel video above, to see it all in action.
Next, my film team and I flew to Tokyo, Japan. We were working once again with trip-planning startup Odigo. I had the time of my life at the Odigo launch party with my friends.
We also did stories and videos about the bizarre, kawaii attractions found only in Japan. From the Pompompurin puppy cafe (above) to the mecha Gundam robot, you can see the latest pop culture oddities in all my Tokyo posts.
And above is the Tokyo travel video — Pokemon cafe, Suspiria horror pubs, game centers and more madness.
In the spring, I finally visited one of my top dream destinations: Iceland. The country is like nowhere else, with science fiction buildings and an otherworldly landscape.
My Reykjavik memories include exploring the street art and prismatic architecture, eating insanely fresh seafood, and meeting the RuPaul drag queens (they were randomly performing while we were there).
You absolutely must take a nature tour in Iceland. Our wonderful guides Salty Tours took us to secret spots including black sand beaches, waterfalls and elf caves, instead of the usual Golden Circle. (Here are all my Iceland photos and posts, to help you plan a trip here.)
Enjoy the ethereal video of my Iceland adventures above and on YouTube @lacarmina. There’s footage of me dipping into the Blue Lagoon and taking selfies with plump Icelandic horses!
My white rabbit (Miffy) and I went onward to Manchester UK, where we were working on stories with support from the tourism board. These British adventures included Alice in Wonderland high tea…
… and a pilgrimmage to Manchester music landmarks, including Salford and Sons. (Enjoy the full story about my The Smiths and Joy Division music tour.)
After a train ride through the Yorkshire countryside, I arrived at the seaside town of Whitby. We did a magazine cover shoot at the Dracula abbey that inspired the Bram Stoker novel.
Such fun to finally experience Whitby Goth Weekend, where Andi Sex Gang and other Gothic greats performed. For more photos of the event, take a gander at all my England posts.
I then went back to Tokyo, Japan for a Travel Channel TV shoot. I can’t reveal anything about this TV hosting gig yet, but when it airs next year, I’ll be sure to let you know.
I also got to see the Japanese cat temples, Gotokuji and Imado shrines (featuring thousand of lucky cat statues). I haven’t had a chance to blog about this yet… still so many posts from 2015 that need to go up…
In May, I traveled to Singapore for the first time (it was a year of many firsts). We got insider access at Marina Bay Sands, and ate our way around the city — from high end molecular gastronomy, to hawker center street food.
I still have a Little India and Chinatown post to share with you, but until I get around to it, you can see all my Singapore travel tips so far.
And then, there was Bali — land of temples and spirituality. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here with my friends Cohica Travel, and think back fondly at our temple tour around Ubud.
We also had far too much fun taking a Bali cooking class at the Ritz-Carlton Nusa Dua, with these jolly chefs!
I invite you to check out my Indonesia posts here, for a visual diary of my time on the island.
That takes us up to June! Next up, I’ll look back at memories from the second half of the year.
And what’s next? Off to New York City and Mexico — with partner in crime Yukiro! We’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve, and kicking back at the new Karisma El Dorado resort in Riviera Maya / Tulum.
How about you — what were your favorite moments of 2015? Did you achieve any goals that you set, or experience something extraordinary?