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Category Archive for Middle East Travel

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

Reykjavik iceland bloggers trip

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

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

manchester goth bands

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

iceland peace tower, white church

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

whitby gothic weekend, uk seaside goth festival

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

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

yahoo travel explorers, bloggers, travel writers

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

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

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

tel aviv beach, israel sunset

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

lotte world mascot, lorry

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

seoul indoor amusement park

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

lotte world exterior sign

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

lotte balloons, seoul theme park rides

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

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

korean couples wearing matching clothes

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

korean folk museum

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

seoul magic castle, korea

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

korean haunted house halloween

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

young korean girls posing

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

lotte world map, attractions

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

gyro spin, jamsil amusement park

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

lotte popsicles, hello kitty

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

lotte world interior

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

korean horror building

I leave you with a ghoulish horror attraction…

seoul halloween party

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

little korean girl

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

tel aviv beach sunset ocean, israel

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

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

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Best of 2014! Favorite outfit posts, travel highlights, Petra Kitchen cooking lessons.

kabuki japanese makeup eyes

It’s almost the end of 2014! So much has happened this year, especially behind-the-scenes. New friends, wild times, and a renewed focus on the type of work that (I feel) truly matters.

In 2015, I’m committed to keep focusing on this bigger picture. So you’ll keep on seeing first-hand stories about alternative beauty, innovators pushing boundaries, underground travel and subcultures all around the globe. I think my work makes the biggest difference when it encourages people to challenge preconceptions (about topics like body modifications or drag queens), and express themselves as they wish to be — without fear.

israel fashion blog, style blogger

In terms of meeting these goals, 2014 was a Very Metal Year indeed. Let’s get retrospective, and highlight some of my favorite destinations and stories from the first six months.  I also have some bonus material from Jordan, which I never got around to posting until now. (Above, I’m with Tel Aviv fashion blogger Korin Avraham.)

dan tel aviv hotel israel

At the start of the year, my travel filmmakers and I went to Israel, by invitation of the tourism board. We’ve been eager to come here for a long time. I’m fascinated by ancient destinations that have a surprisingly modern and creative culture.

tel aviv beach sunset

Talk about reversing expectations: I imagined a Moses-like landscape of sand dunes. But from my hotel room at the Dan Tel Aviv, I had a perfect view of the beach. I sat by the window and watched the waves glowing at sunset.

tlv tel aviv style tours

One of the highlights was going on a Tel Aviv style tour (see all the photos in part 1 and part 2). Galit (right) took us to meet designers whose work perfectly matched my interests, such as upcycled vintage and unicorn wedding dresses. It felt like going shopping with a friend, and I still stay in touch with all the designers she introduced.

masada jewish fortress

I was blown away by Israel’s edgy nightlife and fusion cuisine. To get a deeper look at the history, we took a cable car to Masada fortress, and dipped into the salty Dead Sea.

thigh pattern print tights

Since some of you requested a summary of outfits from 2014, here are a few more photos of what I wore in Israel. (Details of what I’m wearing here).

One of my favorite days of all of 2014 was exploring Jerusalem. I did a very special photo diary about our day in the Holy City, and why I feel travel is so important.

Perhaps you’re wondering… whatever happened to our Israel video? Around the time we completed it, the country was unfortunately experiencing conflict. My editors felt it would be most respectful to wait until later to run this upbeat travel episode. Hopefully, we can share it with you soon — stay tuned.

pella, jordan

I take thousands of photos in each trip, and not all the stories make it onto this site. It seems wrong to deprive you of Miffy-ness, so here’s an outfit photo from our Jordan journey with Ya’lla Tours.

jordan archaeological ruins, pella

Our private driver took us to Pella, one of the country’s most impressive archaeological sites. These ancient ruins date back 8000 years, and were part of the Decapolis (the 10 centers of Greco-Roman civilization in this region).

amman jordan streets

One of the benefits of traveling with Ya’lla: we had our own driver and guide, who told us about the history as we journeyed. In Jordan, there wouldn’t have been any easy way to get around on our own, especially with the ruin sites located far apart.

visit jordan tourism board bloggers

On this 3-day road trip, we crossed through Amman. Through the window, I saw Roman columns, sunsets, children running towards us from Bedouin villages… and a whole lot of rocks.

petra kitchen cooking lessons

The tour included unique experiences, like a cooking class at Petra Kitchen in Wadi Musa. The friendly chefs came by each table, shook their heads in mock-frustration, and demonstrated how the vegetables were supposed to be cut (ours were too big, or misshaped)…

middle eastern cooking school, petra

We learned how to prepare a number of Jordanian dishes, including baba ghanoush and fattoush. At the end, all the Petra Kitchen students sat together and shared the meal. I love activities like this, which let you put your hands into the local food culture, and would come back again.

petra outfit post, fashion blogger

The next day was a dream come true: visiting the lost city of Petra. << All the photos here.

famous petra building architecture

Here’s the Treasury of Petra, which you may recognize as the site of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I never expected I’d be able to visit places like this.

two buns japanese hairstyle

The next months were also spent traveling, but on more familiar terrain. I stopped by LA to attend Oscars parties. My Mickey Mouse two-buns hairstyle got quite a bit of attention.

goth band performing

Then I went to Toronto for meetings, and caught up with friends in the Goth alternative scene. I finally got to see Amy’s Arms perform at Lee’s Palace, where Scott Pilgrim had an epic battle or two.

toronto lolita fashion, western lolitas

The girls and I did a photoshoot wearing Gloomth, the Gothic Lolita Victorian label by my friend Taeden. (All photos from this shoot here).

san francisco zen center courtyard

Growing up, I was fascinated with 1960s hippie culture and took university classes about Buddhism. It was a joy to stay at the San Francisco Zen Center, especially after hearing so much about it. I particularly loved the courtyard with a fountain and hidden Buddha statues.

goth clubs, parties san francisco

My friends and I had a reunion in San Francisco, and held a performance event at Wicked Grounds. Thanks to everyone who came out to meet us! If you’re visiting the city soon, you might enjoy my San Francisco Goth clubbing and bar guide

new york rooftop graffiti

Off to another much-loved US destination: New York City. Even though I lived here for years (while in school), I discover new places each time. This time, I did a shoot at the Paper Factory Hotel. I couldn’t help but smile as I gazed at the Manhattan skyline, from the graffiti-marked rooftop.

cosplay event, costume contest nyc

I was in NYC for a secret filming project, which will all make sense soon (fingers crossed that I can spill the beans in early 2015!)

For one lively scene, I judged a cosplay competition at Maid Cafe NY << Check out the impressive handmade costumes, and see who won the contest.

ny underground clubs

I also hosted an alternative club night with King Vulcanus Levi and NYC friends. He crowned me with one of his feathered creations. << Peek into the madness.

That’s already a lot for one post, so I’ll end this here. Next, I’ll summarize the second half of the year, where I went all around Asia and to Africa for the first time…

How do you feel when you look back upon 2014? What are you aiming to achieve in 2015?