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Guide to Visiting Angkor Wat: travel video! Siem Reap tour, Lara Croft temple & Buddha statues.

award winning travel blogs, female traveler

I’ve long been fascinated by the mysterious temples of Angkor Wat. It was a dream come true to live out my “Tomb Raider” fantasies in Siem Reap.

If this UNESCO site is on your bucket list, then I hope you’ll enjoy my latest Cambodia travel video (watch here), which includes tips on what to see and do.

siem reap cambodia ruins

I’ll also share the dramatic photos we took amidst the ancient temple ruins — inspired by Lara Croft! 

nbc better late than never hong kong episode

But first, a special announcement. I’m excited to finally reveal that I’m in a new NBC travel TV show, “Better Late than Never” — starring William Shatner (Captain Kirk) and Henry Winkler (The Fonz!) I shot this series last year in Asia, and had to keep it secret until now.

You can see me goofing off in Hong Kong on this major network program, which airs on Tuesday, August 30th at 10pm ET. (Check your listings to make sure of the exact air time, and stay tuned to my social media for previews.)

henry winkler better late than never tv show

“Better Late than Never” is basically four elder celebrities on a bucket list adventure all throughout Asia. That’s correct: I got to be on-screen with William Shatner (Star Trek), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), boxer George Foreman, and football legend Terry Bradshaw! 

Can you imagine how much fun I had with these legends? There was dancing, singing and costumes involved… Be sure to tune in this Tues, Aug 30 for a good laugh at our Hong Kong shenanigans! 

angkor wat tree roots

Outfit Details:

1990s dark floral skirt: from Pylo. Here is a similar shorter version of this skirt.

My glasses are by Oliver Goldsmith, whose styles are inspired by Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and other silver screen icons.

Please take a moment to watch our short Cambodia travel video (above and on @lacarmina YouTube). It highlights some of the best travel attractions in Siem Reap, from the circus to the temples.

cambodia fashion blog

What’s the best hotel in Siem Reap?  My vote goes to the magnificent Le Méridien Angkor hotel. They have a lush backyard garden…

le meridien angkor lobby

… and modern interiors, inspired by classic Khmer design. The location is also as good as it gets: Angkor Wat is less than a 10 minute drive away.

le meridien siem reap swimming pool

Le Meridien has one of the coolest swimming pool designs I’ve seen. The waters are framed by gardens dotted with Hindu statues.

goth pincurls hair style

In my happy place. Wearing a Michi cut out top, and blue Linda Farrow sunglasses.

michi athletic fashion, designer fitness clothes

Lotus flowers add to the feeling of peace.

tomb raider swimming pool

Posing with my travel buddy John Skeleton. We also went to Vietnam together, one of my favorite trips.

luxury art hotel siem reap

See many more photos of my outfit and Le Meridien Angkor, in this previous post

fashion blogger income, money

Thanks to Ken Yuen and Sniper Chau for the photography.

angkor wat pyramids

Now, let’s tackle the temples!

I recommend going to Angkor Wat at 5pm the day before your visit, to purchase your ticket (for one, three or seven days entry).

cambodian sunrise

This way, you can go inside to see the sunset and skip the line-up the next day.

sun rise dawn angkor

Our Le Meridien guide took us to a prime photo-taking position by the second reflective pool.

I am not a morning person, but it was worth waking up at 5am to see the sunrise over the towers of Angkor Wat.

big tree roots cambodian jungle

After dawn breaks, many tourists go on to explore the main buildings of Angkor Wat. However, to avoid the crowd, I suggest seeing other temples in the morning (there are over a thousand in this large complex).

Walking through the humid jungle can be a challenge, but you’ll get to see powerful trees with roots like this. 

demon statues, angkor wat

Some tourists ride tuk-tuks or bikes, but my team and I had a driver and guide, which made it easier to get around.

The left side of this pathway over the water had Buddha statues. We preferred to take photos of the right side, which was lined with scowling demons.

elephant wall carving cambodia

Our guide showed us the Terrace of the Elephants. It was the site of public ceremonies for the Khmer king and his troops.

bayon buddha heads

One can’t help but smile when you come across these beaming Buddha faces, peeping out from the trees.

angkor wat carvings

I was mesmerized by this long wall of carvings, which depict Hindu devas.

hindu deva bas relief

Some of the faces have been worn down by the elements and time, adding to the feeling of mystery.

tomb raider photoshoot cosplay

Words can’t capture the feeling of standing right in the doorway of century-old ruins. The Cambodian architecture stands the test of time.

climbing angkor thom

Anyone can get up close to the structures, and even climb them. Just watch out for the slippery moss.

angkor temple ruins

Feeling like I’ve entered a lost world. There were no other tourists around us, since our guide helped us avoid the crowds.

travel blogger siem reap

Imagining that I am Lara Croft for a day. I even wore a braid in my hair.

lara croft cosplay angkor wat

The fallen bricks are as beautiful as the standing structures, in their own way.

ta prohm tree roots

If you only have one day, be sure to visit Bayon with its smiling Buddha faces. You also can’t miss Ta Prohm, the “Tomb Raider” temple with tree roots converging into the ancient architecture.

reflecting pond angkor temple

In the afternoon, I suggest returning to the main Angkor Wat temple. The lighting conditions are best at this time, letting you capture dramatic light and shadows.

angkor wat photography sunlight

A big thank you to HK Express for making this epic journey possible. This short-haul airline goes directly from Hong Kong to Siem Reap, and the service is phenomenal. They fly to Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul and other destinations in Asia as well.

cambodia lotus pond

In addition to the temples, you can experience a wide range of nightlife, restaurants and entertainment in the city center. Be sure to check out my Siem Reap travel guide for food and bar tips.

angkor wat temple silhouette

If these photos caught your attention, then come see my Angkor Wat Cambodia video (click to play).  I hope you find my recommendations helpful.

And don’t forget to tune in on Tuesday, August 30th — NBC channel — to watch me on “Better Late Than Never” with Henry Winkler, William Shatner, Henry Foreman and Terry Bradshaw! Life can be full of amazement, wouldn’t you agree?

Brussels local fashion boutiques! Shopping in Dansaert, Stijl Belgian designers, Lunetier Ludovic.

brussels fashion shops, clothing stores

Can you tell I was delighted to be in Brussels? I got an inside look at the local fashion scene, thanks to the special arrangements by Belgium Tourism Board.

We filmed stories in three very different boutiques: glasses, jewelry, designer couture. I also found out why Brussel’s Dansaert shopping street is known as one of the coolest in Europe.

PS – if you want to buy this Miffy shirt, it’s available on my Depop shop along with many new items… Email me (gothiccarmina att gmail dotcom)  and let me know what you’d like from my clothing sale, before it’s all gone!

Lunetier Ludovic glasses store

First stop on my Brussels fashion tour — a unique eyeglasses shop.

These days, glasses have become a style statement. Lunetier Ludovic is the vision of Ludovic Elens, a Belgian optometrist who crafts distinctive frames by hand.

belgian cool eyeglasses

We loved the vintage vibe of Lunetier Ludovic boutique (Address: Ernest Allardstraat 14, 1000 Brussel).

I’m a glasses-wearer myself (although you usually see me in contact lenses), and quite picky about frames. My favorite styles come from Europe — where the designs tend to have a minimal, modern aesthetic.

designer glasses brussels

Ludovic’s glasses stand out because of his handcrafted techniques and quality materials, sourced from around the world. I tried on a few frames made out of Buffalo horn and cellulose acetate.

cool hipster glasses boutique

Lunetier Ludovic’s storefront displays his own collection, as well as other indie glasses brands.

He is passionate about offering a bespoke experience for his clients. In the age of machines, Ludovic’s work is a throwback to the days when artisans used their hands and simple tools to craft spectacles, from raw materials.

handmade high end glasses europe

I loved the unique shape and speckled pattern of these eyeglasses.

Ludovic told me that he didn’t feel there was a single style that best suited certain face shapes. Instead, he aims to make glasses that reflect his clients’ personalities. 

optician factory, LUNETIER LUDOVIC lunettes

We went downstairs to his workshop. Ludovic showed me how to cut silhouettes from raw acetate slabs, and polish them to perfection on a spinning tool. He often spends weeks refining a single pair of glasses, as each order is individually made and customized to the client.

custom designing glasses

So cool to see the artistic process from start to finish, at Lunetier Ludovic. The Belgian designer has a knack for capturing the customer’s individuality through his handmade designs.

bel arte jewelry store brussels

The inspiration continued at Bel’ Arte,  a lively boutique run by a young couple. Everything here is made by independent Belgian designers. (Address: Rue de Flandre 53, 1000 Bruxelles)

belgian designer rings

Bel’Arte has the goal of highlighting local artisans, who often don’t have the opportunity to display their goods in stores. I browsed one-of-a-kind jewelry, leather goods, furniture, lighting and other design items.

dansaert jewerly accessories

Very impressed by the skill of these young Belgian artists. These twisty rings and earrings would be fantastic gifts, as they can only be found here.

(All photos by Borderless Media – and our travel video will be out soon.)

stijl fashion shop dansaert

I wore a Miffy outfit that day (it’s available for sale on my shop!), and found my bunny boyfriend at Stijl — a famous boutique for Belgian designers. (There are separate shops for men and women; the latter is at Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat 74, 1000 Brussels).

In the 1980s, this neighborhood had very few attractions. Stijl opened in 1984, and transformed Dansaert into the cutting-edge fashion destination that it is today.

brussels designers haute couture

I interviewed Sonia Noël, the founder and owner. She wanted Stijl to be a platform for young Belgian designers to show their works.

Thanks to her initiative, these little-known locals have become big names in the couture world: Dries van Noten, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Raf Simons, to name a few.

stijl belgian fashion labels

Stijl carries the latest collections of these now-famous names. However, the store remains true to its original goal, and always gives space to up and coming Belgian designers. 

(Below are designs you can find at Stijl; click the images for details)

belgium local designers mode

I loved seeing the sleek couture of Maison Martin Margiela and the “Antwerp Six”, beautifully displayed in a single boutique. Stijl is a must-visit for those who appreciate fine fashion.

ancient belgian building facade

The entire Dansaert district is worth browsing. I spent hours looking at vintage and modern clothing stores, book shops… and even found this old building facade, next to Chicago Cafe.

brussels museum musical instruments

I’ll leave you with a look at the classic architecture in Brussels. The tourism board took us to lunch at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), known for its collection of over 8000 instruments.

You know I’m obsessed with Art Nouveau… what a treat to look out from the museum’s rooftop! This swirling steel and glass structure was built in 1899.

Restaurant Musical Instruments Museum

We had lunch by the windows: a feast of Belgian specialties like French fries, Liege meatballs and tartines (open face sandwiches).

bruxelles architecture

This is only an introduction to the spectacular food we ate in Belgium… There’s much more to come, including a video and a chocolate tasting.

Did the style scene in Brussels surprise you? Are you familiar with Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten and other local designers? (Shop a selection below…)

buzzfeed travel weird crazy japan

PS – Thank you to Buzzfeed Travel for featuring me in a big article about Tokyo bizarre travel! It went viral and trended for days.

PPS – Since there was so much demand, I’ve added new Japanese Lolita dresses, Miffy tops and more to my Depop shop. My best items are now up, so come take a look and email me quickly to let me know what you’d like. I’ll gladly do exact shipping, and discounts if you get more than one item. Have fun!

Come shop La Carmina’s wardrobe sale here.

My Goth fashion blogger closet sale on Depop! Selling Gothic Lolita, Japanese clothing & accessories.

depop fashion blogger clothing selling

Ever wish you had pieces from my wardrobe? Well, now you can — because I’ve launched a store on Depop! 

I’ve listed hundreds of unique clothes and accessories for sale: including Gothic Lolita, pin-up, J-rock, kawaii styles.

Most of my items are rare, and found only in Japan. As a thank you for your support over the years, prices are low, and I’m willing to put together a bundle order for you at a discount. Email me (gothiccarmina att gmail dotcom) and let me know what you’d like!

Ready to shop? Then come over to my Depop store – username “lacarmina” – and pick out your favorites! (I ship worldwide; contact me if you have any questions, I respond to everything myself, and can send items with a personal photo and note.)

Click to shop La Carmina’s closet sale now!

style bloggers closet sale

A lot of my clothing can’t be found anywhere else on the Internet. I’m selling designs by Japanese underground brands — including several that no longer exist (like Banana Fish, Peace Now, Sex Pot Revenge).

For example, everything in the above photo is for sale (dress by Banana Fish, coffin backpack by h.Naoto, shoes by Yosuke). You can find it all here on my Depop shop.

grunge gothic nu goth clothes

I’ve gotten many messages over the years from people who wanted to purchase my clothes — like the Miho Matsuda grunge dress above. However, I couldn’t find an easy way to list and sell items.

Depop solved my problem. It’s a free mobile app that makes buying/selling a breeze.

With a few taps on your cell phone, you can browse for goods (makeup, clothes, home decor) or put things up for sale. It takes me less than two minutes to snap a few photos, write a description and publish.

depop screenshop, using app, explore items

Above is a screenshot of my Depop store (lacarmina)! The app loads quickly, and has a fun visual layout similar to Instagram.

It’s easy to click on an item to see more photos, and read the description (size, construction, etc). You can browse by hashtag or use the fast-loading search, and find beautiful designs for sale from all around the world.

fashion blogger clothes for sale

I’ve worn a lot of my clothing only once for photoshoots, so they’re in near-new condition.

Almost everything on my store is listed at 50%below the retail price, and I can ship to any address worldwide.

lace market, sweet lolita egl auctions

I’m selling a lot of my Gothic Lolita EGL dresses, skirts, corsets, accessories. These labels include Innocent World, Angelic Pretty, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates. 

pinup vintage alternative fashion buy

I’ve put up a fantastic selection of alternative, Goth and pin-up fashion. This Iron Fist dress and heart purse are available! 

sailor pin up wiggle dresses

Don’t worry: my store has clothes in all sizes, and I’m selling dozens of accessories starting at a few dollars. Skull bracelets, kawaii jewellery, purses from Japan and Hong Kong, and more.

depop app shop bloggers closets

In addition to tons of Gothic, Jrock and Gyaru styles, I have a range of fashion by international designers. Floaty summer dresses, bohemian tops, you name it.

depop app, selling old clothes online

I’m loving the experience of using Depop. Payments are easy and secure through the app (PayPal, credit card) and I can ship to any mailing address in the world.

I’m personally responding to all comments and messages through my Depop store, so it’s also a fun way for us to chat and interact!

visual kei jrock egl lolita sales

Message me and I can put together a bundle order for you, at a discount. You’ll also save on the shipping cost for the package.

fashion blogger closet sale

Items are going fast from my wardrobe sale, so I encourage you to check out my store before your favorites are gone.

la carmina depop wardrobe sale

This dress, that skirt… it’s all for sale now, on La Carmina’s Depop shop! You won’t find this fashion sold anywhere else online, and I’ve priced everything low.

I hope you enjoy my fashion blogger closet sale. Looking forward to chatting with you, and putting together a package for you — with a special signed note included! 

Ready? Set? Let’s shop La Carmina’s closet now!


Asia pop culture tours, African safari & Owl cafes: my top fashion & travel memories of 2014.

tokyo tower glowing at night

I’m glad you enjoyed the first half of my Year in Review! In this post, we’ll look back at the last six months of 2014, which took me to eight different countries for various work collaborations.

We’ll begin with this magic moment, in front of the glowing orange Tokyo Tower. I’ve lost count of how many times I have been to Japan, but each time, I fall in love with the country once again.

pechakucha speaker, presentation

This year, I began working with — a startup that lets travelers plan “exceptional journeys” to Japan, by creating trips and getting offbeat tips from insiders like me.

In June, Odigo flew me to Tokyo to give a speech in front of hundreds at PechaKucha. I spoke about my bizarre journey from blogging to TV presenting, writing and traveling worldwide. << Curious about my presentation? Watch my Pecha Kucha speech.

japan owl theme cafe

I’m excited for the official launch of Odigo early next year, and invite you to get a sneak peek here. Odigo lets you discover the coolest attractions in Japan — such as the adorable owl cafe — and put together a customized trip with all the addresses, maps, hours and info in one place. You can also contribute your own write-ups and images; take a look at Odigo, and I hope you’ll enjoy using the site.

teal lace party dress

As part of my mission to find Asia hotspots, I flew to Taipei for the first time. Here’s a Nanette Lepore outfit post from Taiwan’s Humble House boutique hotel.

taiwanese modern art

Taipei’s cheeky, modern art scene impressed me. Looks like the resident caveman (at Le Meridien) is trying to apologize to me. Perhaps he tried to steal my cat… << All the photos and outfit details here.

hello kitty friendship festival

Did you think “kawaii” cute culture was found only in Japan? In fact, Hello Kitty is possibly even more popular in Taiwan. She has a theme cafe in Taipei, and Sanrio had an interactive exhibition while I was there. (I haven’t blogged about this yet — I know, I’m always backlogged — but you can peer inside the Hong Kong Hello Kitty cafe.)

travel writer, travel magazine writing

I keep busy with a variety of different projects. I was in Hong Kong for a big TV shoot with Pro Sieben (German television). Can’t say much about this yet, but I’ll show you the photos and clip when they air next spring.

I wrote a number of articles for magazines this year, like Sunday Times Travel UK. I also have my own column in each issue of Hong Kong Express Airways’ in-flight magazine (scans above).

fashion blogger modeling posters billboard

As I mentioned in the last post, my focus is now on coverage I find meaningful — hence the stories about travel and underground culture worldwide. I’d feel empty if I followed the typical fashion blog format: outfit photos, consumption-oriented roundups, and little else of substance.

Nonetheless, I’m still passionate about style when I can express it on my own terms. I love to support designers who do things differently: slow fashion, alternative styles, eco materials, vintage. Moat House’s sunglasses are a perfect example, and I was honored to model their frames on a life-size poster in Paris.  

upper house hotel room

I returned to Hong Kong, which remains one of my favorite cities thanks to my friends and relatives here. I organized an influencers dinner for Odigo, and took Yukiro around to my favorite boutiques and restaurants.

luxury hotel bed

Things got Miffy-crazy in our Hong Kong penthouse, at the Upper House Hotel… You’ve got to see this epic blog and video, if you missed it!

wwf panda bears exhibit

My Pirates and I went to the new art center: PMQ in Central. At the time, there was an exhibition of 1600 panda bear statues. A powerful (and cute) way to get word out on the WWF, and their work in protecting endangered animals.

japanese sashimi salad

Oh, and the delicious food we ate in HK! Above was one of the best meals of the year, a melt-in-your-mouth sashimi salad by Harlan Goldstein at Sushi To. << Check out all my Hong Kong restaurant reviews.

eat your kimchi youtube studio

My Asia journey didn’t end there. I went to Seoul for the first time in over a decade, and it’s changed so much. Fortunately, my friends Eat Your Kimchi gave me pointers on where to see the best of K-pop culture. << Wander inside the EYK YouTube studio.

kpop beauty fashion blogger

I couldn’t get enough of the youtful university district, Hongdae, filled with coffee shops and Kpop fashion shops. I posed with the modern art in Itaewon

dongdaemun design plaza, seoul

… and got beamed up into the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Now that’s what I call space disco architecture!

cape town bo kaap street

This year, I realized more than ever: you only live once, and opportunities may never come again. So when Cape Town Tourism invited my film team and me to go to South Africa, we had to say yes — even though it was happening during an insane travel period. We weathered a sleepless schedule, trans-continental flights, lost luggage, and other fiascoes along the way.

But as soon as we stepped out onto the colorful streets of the Bo Kaap, I knew we made the right choice. We had so many wonderful moments on this trip — jazz in townships, Stellenbosch wines, street art, hanging out with local artists.

yawning lion, south africa safari

I also went on my first safari, and it was as magnificent as I imagined. We took photos of elephants, rhinos, zebras and this pride of lions.

aquila safari, game reserve

Perhaps you’ve been wondering: who is “we”? Or rather, who goes on these trips with me? Since my jobs require high-quality photos and videos, I’m not a solo traveler.

For the most part, these comrades are Eric and Melissa, my close friends and seasoned filmmakers. With each project, we aim to improve the quality of everything we produce. I hope you’ve been enjoying the recent visuals and stories — we’ll keep on upping the ante in 2015.

yuan chonghuan, 袁崇煥, 袁崇焕

In the late summer, I was honored to be the cover model for Kirameki Magazine, wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie dress. << See all the photos and credits from this shoot.

Also, fun fact: I found out I’m a direct descendant of 16th century Chinese military leader, Yuan Chonghuan (袁崇焕)! His story is rather heavy metal… In the Ming Dynasty, Yuen was a revered commander who twice defeated the Mongol army, but was later betrayed and killed via Death by a Thousand Cuts. His enemies in Beijing rushed to buy and eat his body parts, but his loyal friend She managed to rescue the head. For the past 300 years, She’s descendants have been guarding my ancestor’s decapitated head. I’m not sure where it is today, but my family still has an ancestral plot of land in Dongguan, his southern Chinese hometown…

philippines traffic, driving

After a bit of sunshine in Vancouver, I was back on the plane to a new Asian destination… Cebu in the Philippines! The streets were a jumble of colorful jeepneys.

white hippie dress

This time, my Pirates and I were collaborating with sáv Hospitality. I judged the Miss Scuba beauty pageant, a competition that gets the word out on ocean conservation…

goth model, lace dress

… and we did a showcase of their gorgeous Pacific Cebu Resort (travel video to be released soon).

travel blogging, beach destinations

Jet lag, what’s that? The small annoyances are all worth it, when you get to experience a near-perfect day like this one. << Look back at my boating and beach adventure in Lapu Lapu. 

the bund, shanghai skyline

We flew a few hours north, and wound up in what seemed like completely different universe: Shanghai, China. Here’s the glowing Bund, which captures how fast the city’s developed in recent years.

cachet hotels china

I went to the mainland a few times when I was growing up, and it never looked anything like this. I still have more to show you about Shanghai’s young design scene, hip restaurants, and French Quarter. << For now, here’s an outfit post from Cachet Boutique Hotel.

purple blue red hair color

Before the end of the year, I made two final trips: to New Orleans, and San Francisco for a TV shoot with ABC Nightline. I haven’t had a chance to post about these adventures yet, but here’s a preview at my new hair color (a blue-purple-magenta ombre by Stephanie Hoy). You can look forward to these stories and several new travel videos, beginning in January.

Middle East, Africa, Asia… what’s next? I hope you’ll continue to join my journey in 2015, since I have big plans up my kimono-sleeves! Check out @lacarmina on Instagram for day-to-day images, and to hear announcements like reader meet-ups. 

Thanks for being with me on my journey — I read all messages and comments, and am grateful for all the love you give. It’s amazing to connect with like-minded people who believe in what I do. See you next year. Let’s make it the best one yet!