Category Archive for Hong Kong + Macau
Better Late Than Never, Hong Kong: travel TV show with William Shatner, Henry Winkler! Sydney Opera House.
Thank you for your fantastic response to the Hong Kong episode of Better Late Than Never, the new NBC show travel TV show!
It was a dream come true to hang with The Fonz, Henry Winkler (of Happy Days fame)…
… and William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek. That is indeed me, dancing with Shatner in the streets of Mongkok, for this travel TV shoot! (Thanks to Thomas for this epic shot — full photo credits below.)
I’m very happy that “Better Late Than Never” has been raising lots of laughs and positive reactions! I couldn’t believe it when the producers contacted me to be part of the series. I was flown to Hong Kong and got to take part in this second episode.
This hilarious travel-reality show stars Terry Bradshaw (quarterback and broadcaster), William Shatner (Star Trek’s Capt. Kirk), Henry Winkler (The Fonz on Happy Days) and George Foreman (boxer and grill-master). Along with comedian Jeff Dye, these funny guys travel around Asia in search of adventures and Zen, with lots of mishaps along the way.
Their journey throughout Asia includes Tokyo, Kyoto, Seoul, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I was thrilled to have them be in Hong Kong with me — my friends and family even got to join the big dance scene in Mongkok.
(My dress is Spider by Natalie Lam. I’m currently selling a lot of my personal wardrobe; let me know if you’re interested in any of my fashion/accessories! Take a look at my store listings here, and email me to let me know what you’d like.)
The weather was a little iffy that day, but the rain and clouds cleared in time for the big dance number. Believe it or not, we took over one of the busiest streets of Hong Kong!
The Fab Four arrived on the scene — Henry Winkler turned his camera on us for this shot. Terry Bradshaw whipped out a microphone and burst into song!
Then it was time to dance, dance, dance. I was impressed by their ability to pull off a choreographed number!
So much fun, to dance in the streets with Captain Kirk and Fonzie!
(All of the amazing photos above are by Thomas Sandfield of Sandfield Productions. Thank you for capturing this epic day.)
I was glad to have my local friends with me, to take part in the scene.
Chaos, color, song… that’s the spirit of Hong Kong! Can you see me dancing with William Shatner in the middle?
(Above two photos by K. Lau of Bright Production.)
I also filmed a scene on the minibus, where I talked about Hong Kong’s travel attractions and general awesomeness. (Love the V-fingers photobomb behind me.)
What a joy to joke and riff with Henry Winkler and George Foreman, for this TV scene. They’re truly kind and humble, and up for anything!
Here are more black and white images from Thomas Sandfield of Sandfield Productions. It was a genius idea to pair “culture and Zen” William Shatner with “let’s roughhouse and sing” Terry Bradshaw on a travel show!
We were dancing along to the Otis Day and the Knights song “Shout (You Make me Wanna).”
Above shots by Arthur Rash. Thanks to everyone who supported the TV shoot, and for watching NBC’s Better Late Than Never!
On that note… I never got around to posting about my travels in Sydney, Australia. But better late than never, right?
If you have me on your Snapchat (@lacarmina), then you’ll have glimpsed me taking selfies under Harbour Bridge, earlier this year. (Since many of you asked, I’m wearing Karen Walker sunglasses.)
I’m wearing a Black Milk top and skirt: this Great Wave maxi-skirt is one of my favorites (see me wearing it at New Zealand’s Hobbit Town). Blackmilk’s designs are fantastic for travel because they’re lightweight and don’t crease, and easy to pack in luggage. (And stylish, of course). My fuzzy purse is from Mercibeaucoup in Shinjuku.
I had never been to Australia, and had very little time to explore. However, it was worth the trip to go down under and at least see Sydney. I’ll have to come back soon to see the Gold Coast, Melbourne and more.
As a first-timer, I had to visit the Sydney Opera House. I took the subway to Circular Quay, and walked over.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is also located here. Many travellers do the “bridge climb” where they walk on top of the structure for panoramic views. I’m not afraid of heights, but you aren’t allowed to take your own photos, and must wear a not-so-stylish jumpsuit… I’d prefer to pose below, wearing Black Milk!
Even from “down under” the bridge, you can’t beat these views of the harbor.
(My sunglasses are Karen Walker, similar to these round ones by her. More of her styles below.)
I don’t usually like to do “tourist” activities in cities, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Sydney Opera House tour. This guided tour lets you go inside the concert halls and see Jorn Utzon’s masterful architecture up close.
I learned, for example, that the “white” sails of the roof are actually made over a million chevron tiles, in two shades of cream. Our guide spoke about the politics involved in the construction process, and how the Danish architect eventually left the project. (He’s never even been inside the completed structure, which opened in 1973.)
I had the opportunity to see Jørn Utzon’s room, defined by concrete structural beams and a 14 meter long tapestry of his own design. On the opposite end, giant windows overlook the harbour waters.
Our guide spoke about how Utzon solved design problems in innovative ways, such as by peeling an orange to see how the curved sails could fit together.
As you can tell, I learned so much from the multimedia Opera House tour. Anyone who is interested in modern architecture should check it out.
I selected the Tour and Tasting Plate, which ends with an al fresco meal underneath the sails.
At Opera Kitchen, I got to try a three-tiered lunch set with a range of finger foods: sushi, mini burgers, dumplings, salad and more.
The perfect lunch for sharing with a friend, especially when paired with Australian pinot noir. I got to enjoy the sunshine, and bask in this uninterrupted view of the Harbour Bridge and waters.
From Circular Quay, it’s a short walk to the Royal Botanic Garden. This large park is filled with different themed gardens, and has a pond and Asian pavilion.
It would be tragic if went to Sydney and skipped out on Bondi beach. I rode the subway to Bondi Junction, and then hopped on the bus that runs frequently to the beach. When you see this curving cove of sand, you’ve arrived.
This 1 km long beach is classic Sydney. I watched surfers ride the waves, and walked barefoot on Bondi’s warm and soft sand.
Time to chow down. I’ve heard that Sydney is famous for its breakfasts, and found this to be true. This salmon eggs Benedict, with an almond milk flat white, was as good as it looked on my Instagram.
I loved the breakfast at Ceru Restaurant so much that I came back for dinner. (I went to the Potts Point location, but the restaurant is currently moving to a new spot.)
I was accompanied by my friend Leanne, writer at Trashtastika. We were charmed by the Middle Eastern ceramics near the windows.
British chef Tom Kime launched Ceru as a celebration of Levantine cuisine. He incorporates flavors and recipes from the Eastern Mediterranean, infusing them with a modern interpretation.
We started by sharing a spread of mezzes and salads. Beetroot and chickpea purees, with cucumber sticks and pita — everything is organic, and the menu is vegan and gluten free friendly.
Fresh pomegranate, mint, and pistachio add dimension to this lamb dish. These Levant spices pair marvellously with Ceru’s craft cocktails and cold-pressed juices.
I’m still thinking about Ceru’s honeycomb baklava ice cream… with flavors of burnt caramel and roasted nut. Possibly the tastiest and most creative dessert I’ve had all year.
PS – you can find out more about Better Late Than Never on their website, including viewing times and clips.
I leave you with a few more scenes from this huge network shoot. There were so many moving parts, but the team pulled it off.
“We-eee-eeel…. / You know you make me wanna (Shout!) / Kick my heels up and (Shout!) / Throw my hands up and (Shout!)”
Have a happy weekend!
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!