Category Archive for Scottish Fold Kawaii

Le Meridien Taipei: modern art boutique hotel. Custom cat portrait paintings!

meng jin sky paintings, taiwan hotel

While in Taipei, I stayed at Le Meridien — a hotel that could easily be mistaken for a modern art museum. The focus is on Asian art with a sense of humor. Walking around, I encountered apologetic cavemen statues and grumpy fish.

custom cat painting

Speaking of fun art… If you want a custom portrait of your pet (like the one of Basil Farrow above) then make sure you read to the end of this post. Lots of cute cat photos await you!

le meridien taipei giraffe sculpture

Let’s start with a tour of Le Meridien. When you step into the lobby, you’ll see an immense statue of a giraffe with his head bowed. Made from stainless steel by Chinese artist Li Hui, the animal represents the hotel’s dedication to guests.

taiwan hotel luxury suite

Le Meridien belongs to the Starwood group, and opened not long ago (November 2010). Despite being an international name, the hotel has a boutique feel.

hotel view of taipei 101

The large suites are popular for special occasions, especially New Year’s Eve. Can’t beat this window view of Taipei 101.

台北寒舍艾美酒店

The building is located in Taiwan’s downtown business district, Xinyi. The proximity makes it ideal for both work and play (since the best bars are also located here).

le meridien taipei hotel suite

At Le Meridien Taipei, art an essential part of the guest experience. The 160 rooms contain different works, putting art within reach of every traveler. This living room had X-ray photo of luggage above the sofa, by Nick Veassey.

ye Yongqing bird drawings

I was charmed by these seemingly child-like drawings by Ye Yongqing. Primitive, simple, yet profound.

taiwan boutique hotel

Anyone can come into the property and stroll through the public spaces. Contemporary art is everywhere, and you can take photos of (or with) it.

cao hui caveman statue

I got into a fight with this caveman, who tried to apologize.. but I wasn’t having any of it! (It’s by Cao Hui, one of my favorite Chinese contemporary artists. His remarkable works mix humor and morbidness.)

little prince shadow sculptures

Another favorite: these “The Little Prince” quotes by the elevators. The twisted wire is abstract, but it creates shadows that form words from the famous novel. (The hotel features international artists too; this is by Fred Eerdekens of Belgium.)

taipei 101 hotel

My blue hair matches the hue of Taipei 101, which used to be the tallest structure in the world. I’m wearing a white sheer caftan by Show Me Your Mumu, and a rainbow tie-dye top with a Gothic harness collar, by Gladnews Japan.

5 star taipei hotel downtown bathroom

Le Meridien Taipei is not just about design — it’s also a 5 star stay. Wouldn’t you like to soak in this freestanding bathtub?

le meridien taiwan swimming pool

Or in the swimming pool? I was tempted to jump in, outfit and all.

Hiroshi Ohashi fish art

I can’t help but smile when I see “Dream Fish” by Hiroshi Ohashi, a Japanese Buddhist carver inspired by fairy tales. Look close: those are dolls riding on his scales!

Le Méridien, Taipei buffet price

Le Meridien’s luxurious seafood buffet is one of the most popular in Taipei, with a current waiting list of three months! The price for a buffet meal is about $30 US, but that includes sushi and eclairs.

My Humble House chinese Restaurant

The PR team treated my photographers and me to lunch at My Humble House, the Cantonese restaurant found in the hotel.

They’re known as one of the best dim sum spots in the city. I could have eaten these truffle-and-veggie steamed dumplings all day.

cantonese restaurant taipei taiwan

The dishes are hearty favorites — spicy tofu, barbequed duck — with an upscale twist, like these flecks of gold.

quube le meridien cocktails

We also ate at Quube, a chic restaurant with tasty cocktails. The food ranges from Asian specials, like chicken fried rice…

italian lobster pasta

… to Italian pasta with lobster, and tomato and bocconcini salad.

tomato bocconcini salad

Quube’s dishes are perfect for sharing: there’s something for everyone. Images taken by Ken Yuen and noircorner.

le meridien taipei room interior

I leave you with these Meng Jin paintings. They reflect on how everything changes while you’re travelling, but the sky is the same — no matter where you are. Thank you to Le Meridien Taipei for this inspiring experience.

li hui steel giraffe bowing head

You can see more on Le Meridien Taiwan’s Facebook page. Also check out my post about their sister property, Humble House.

curious cat opening package

Speaking of animal art… a huge package from artist Bitsy Knox arrived for us. Basil Farrow couldn’t wait to look inside.

fat cat scratching

So he used his big, plush feet to try to open up the cardboard! He was right — the present was for him.

cat painted portraits

We uncovered… a custom painting of my Scottish Fold cat! Basil gives it a sideways-paw of approval.

custom pet paintings

Isn’t the resemblance uncanny? Basil’s round face, plush fur and short tail are perfectly rendered. Huge thanks to Bitsy Knox, a Canadian artist living and working in Berlin, for this adorable painting.

scottish fold cat art

Would you like a custom painting of your cat or dog? Just contact Bitsy Knox through her website, and send her a few photos. She’ll create a custom work that perfectly captures your pet’s look and personality. It would be the perfect Christmas gift, especially for animal lovers.

bitsy knox artist, cat painting

Check out more photos of Basil and his portrait on his cat blog. There’s also a new video of my Scottish Fold running obstacle courses. Yes, you can make cats exercise!

funny statue caveman i'm sorry

 Do you buy your pets presents? Did you enjoy the cheeky works of art in this post?

I went to the Tokyo owl cafe! Fukuro no Mise address, opening hours, directions, entry fee.

tokyo japan owl cafe

Yes, that’s an owl sitting in my blue hair! This summer, I visited Tokyo owl cafe Fukuro no Mise. This newest Japanese trend lets you drink coffee while petting over a dozen live owls.

Keep reading for the shop address, cover charge, hours of operation… and tons of fluffy owl photos!

owl petting theme cafe, japan

In Japan, cat cafes (where you can play with dozens of kitties) are old news. To keep the novelty fresh, people opened up petting spaces for dogs and bunnies, and penguin bars.

Now, owls are the stars of the show. Fukuro no Mise launched in 2012, and its bizarre concept became so popular that more have opened up. Today, there are two owl cafes in Tokyo (Tori no Iru and Fukurou Sabou), and two in Osaka (Owl Family and Crew), all run by different owners.

fukuro no mise, tsukishima japan

Let me take you inside! But first, the pertinent travel info…

Owl cafe address: Seven Star Mansion 1F, 2-6-7 Kiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo.
How to get here: Ride the subway to Tsukishima station (it takes about 40 minutes from Shinjuku, via Oedo or Yurakucho line). Walk out of Gate 10, and the café is a few blocks ahead.
Opening hours: Sun 12-6pm, Weds and Thurs 2-6pm, Fri 2-9pm, Sat 12-9pm. Closed Mon and Tues. English speaking staff every Friday.
Entrance fee: 2000 yen ($19.50), which includes a drink and gift book. Check their website for any changes.

フクロウのみせ

I recommend arriving at least an hour before doors open to make a reservation, since the spaces fill up quickly and can’t be booked in advance. (I arrived at the exact opening time, which varies depending on the date, and the earliest availability was three hours later.)

owl plush toys, stuffed owls

At the designated time, the staff let me in along with ten other customers. I saw real-life owls staring at me from every corner — some were smaller than my hand, others were larger than my head. There were even adorable stuffed toy owls everywhere.

tokyo owl themed cafe

All the birds are tame, and have a leg attached to the perch by string. I had an hour to enjoy their company and sip a drink that is included with the cover charge. The café doesn’t serve food, so I didn’t have to worry about beaks pecking at my plate.

owl print dress

I wore a mint-colored dress with a royal owl print, to match the theme cafe. It’s from the Algonquins store in Shinjuku.

cute sleeping owl

The staff gave a short introduction in Japanese (if you don’t know the language, there’s an English speaker on Fridays). Then, it was owl-cuddling time. I pointed at a horned one, and the staff helped me put her on my shoulder, hand or head. The birds are calm and I felt comfortable holding them. Up close, I could sense the power of their talons and bright eyes — such majestic creatures.

pet owls japan cafe

So far, these cafes are unique to Japan. Customers get to see these intelligent creatures up close, and interact with them for an hour. (All photos by Said Karlsson, Tokyo-based photographer.)

barn owl, japanese owls

Fukuro no Mise houses a variety of different species, including barn owls. I was amazed at how tame they were, sitting quietly together.

japan owl cafe interior

The staff gave commonsense instructions, such as “Don’t make sudden movements. Only touch the birds gently on the head or upper back.”

fukuro no mise owl cafe

With a cute cartoon, this sign reminds me not to take videos or flash photos.

japanese girls petting owls

A lot of customers took selfies with an owl on the wrist. The girls made cute poses with their hands, next to the owls.

white baby owl

These two are babies, so I was only allowed to touch them twice on the head. So soft and cute!

owl souvenirs, jewelry

Before the hour is up, don’t forget to browse the owl-themed memorabilia for sale.

owl iphone case

Fukuro no Mise sells owl-decorated goods like a jeweled iPhone case, statuette, and stationery.

cute small owls

However, the pet owls are not for sale — although you may be tempted to take one home!

tokyo owl cafe entry fee, opening hours

Here’s a snap of the owl-petting cafe rules and cover charges.

owl cafe menu

As you can see, the menu includes a variety of soft drinks and coffees. One drink is included with every entrance. Alcoholic beverages cost slightly more.

scottish fold cat big eyes

My Scottish Fold cat, Basil Farrow, felt left out… so here’s a photo of him. With their giant round eyes and heads, this breed is often compared to owls.

cat breed never scratch

Scottish Folds are so gentle — they never scratch or bite, and love to get tummy rubs!

robot mechanical toy cat

You can watch videos of my Scottish Fold cat with his robot-kitty clone (a moving toy from Japan!) on his kawaii blog.

stuffed scottish fold kitten

For more animal-theme cafe coverage in Japan, check out my posts about Calico cat cafe, Harajuku bunny cafe, and Deco dog cafe.

Would you visit an owl cafe? What do you think the next Jpop cafe trend will be?

Killstar Clothing at Museum of Anthropology! Moat House sunglasses, SVNTY wood iPhone case.

killstar fashion blogger, outfit post

Space witch disco! One of my current favorite designers, Killstar, sent me some dark fashion to model.

I paired it with two gifts made from wood: cat-eye sunglasses from Moat House, and a carved iPhone case by SVNTY.

Take a walk on the witchy side… and find out where you can see powerful masks and totems, up close.

dollskill model killstar co

My outfit of the day had a spooky-spiritual vibe, so I wanted a location that reflects this: the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. The stark exterior, designed by famous architect Arthur Erickson, created the perfect lighting and backdrop. I felt like a sorceress, arriving in an alien land.

killstar la luna crop top

Nearby, there was an outdoor exhibit of longhouses and Pacific Northwest totem poles. Some of the carvings symbolize the moon, much like my Killstar La Luna crop top.

killstar clothing, coffin purse

I paired it with Killstar’s Occult maxi skirt. The fabric is stretchy and comfortable, and the long length gives a dramatic impact. This original print, featuring stars and symbols, is also found on Killstar’s Midi Cat Dress.

sulfur alchemy symbol, killstar blogger

I can’t get enough of this coffin purse, branded with the alchemy symbol for sulfur. With a handle and chain strap, the coffin bag is large enough for your necessities, and fastens with a secure silver clasp.

Such a fan of Killstar’s many products, especially this long dress with an Egyptian cat print.

blue hair, cat eye sunglasses

I’ve been all over Moat House Eyewear ever since they reached out to me on Instagram. This British company hand-makes stylish sunglasses — out of wood! Because of the natural materials (ebony, oak, walnut) and handmade process, their sunglasses have a special vibe, much like the totem art behind me.

My ebony cat-eyes have a faint and lovely wood smell, and don’t worry, there aren’t any splinters. (Scroll to the end of this post for photos of my kitty posing with them!)

custom wood iphone case

I guess I’m on a wood kick these days, since that’s also the material used for my SVNTY iPhone case. My old plastic one fell apart, so SVNTY stepped in and sent me one of their artisanal cases, engraved from wood. I think the spooky totem-face behind me wants to join the selfie!

killstar occult maxi skirt

Unlike the usual plastic or rubber phone cases, these ones feel sturdy and natural, yet are still light-weight. Once again, this is something you won’t find in typical stores. SVNTY’s Etsy selection includes original carvings of a geisha, moon, King Tut and Marilyn Monroe. The cases fit a variety of mobiles including iPhones and Samsungs.

I’m taking a photo of the powerful totem poles on display at the Museum of Anthropology. These spiritual sculptures date back to the late 1800s, and were carved from large trees by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

easter island pink floyd phone case

These mysterious figures remind me of the Easter Island stone statues (moai). I’m rather obsessed with visiting this island (Rapa Nui), so I chose the Easter Island / Pink Floyd “Division Bell” image for my case (get it here).

witch moon black tshirt

Especially in the summer, it feels nice to be wearing materials like cotton and wood. The sunglasses and phone case never feel sticky.

space witch gothic fashion

My gold hair jewel is actually a necklace from Israeli friend Shelly Dahari, made from a shekel coin. Remember when I visited her Tel Aviv jewelry store?

coffin handbag killstar

I travel so much that I rarely do posts about my hometown, Vancouver. In fact, there are a lot of fascinating places to visit here, such as the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. The immense collection of ethnographic objects, especially by tribes in this region, make it well worth the $17 entry (or $9 on Tuesday evenings).

museum of anthropology haida bear statue

The most outstanding works are the towering sculptures and totem poles, made by BC First Nations artists. Bill Reid is celebrated for his carvings such as this Haida bear.

british columbia totem poles

The imagery is forceful, and tied to aboriginal legends. I’m always in awe at how the artists envisioned these figures, which seem to come from another world.

cedar man, museum anthropology statues

Totem poles and house posts usually depicted supernatural “crest animals,” which symbolized a clan or family’s history. These stylized forms were usually carved out of red cedar, and might include images of the Thunderbird, raven, wolf, eagle and salmon.

witchcraft print skirt, svnty etsy

On the other side of the world, the people of Easter Island made art with similar aims in mind (or so we think… there’s still so much that we don’t know!)

modern aboriginal indigenous art

The UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA) also had extensive displays of modern First Nations art. One gallery showcased works by youths, in media like poems and photographs. I liked seeing the cute Japanese manga influence in this one.

native canadian masks

In the back, glass cases hold thousands of artifacts from tribes in Canada and worldwide. The British Columbian masks stand out from the rest, with their captivating patterns and expressions.

vancouver museum of anthropology masks

Walking through this room, you can feel the spiritual power of these objects. I noticed unique design elements, like a beak curled up to form a second face inside.

kwakwaka'wakw masks

These are by the Kwakwaka’wakw – try saying that three times fast. Doesn’t the mask with the flopped-hair look like an emo boy?

thunderbird costume vancouver

The MOA lets you compare indigenous art from all around world: Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Korea, China. These ranged from intricate costumes to… sticks.

bill reid ubc statue, raven and first men

Don’t miss this iconic sculpture by Bill Reid: The Raven and The First Men. It depicts the Haida creation story, where Raven opens a cockle shell and releases humans into the world.

university of british columbia anthro museum

Not a bad way to spend a summer day in Vancouver. Simply drive to the University of BC, and you’ll see signs pointing to the Museum of Anthropology. You can also explore the nearby beaches and Japanese garden. Then, you can get lunch near the waterfront, at Granville Island or on West 4th.

unique wood sunglasses, moathouse

All photos by Joey Wong, except the cat and iPhone snaps by La Carmina.

kill star model, fashion blogger

What do you think of my spooky Kill Star outfit of the day? I hope you enjoy these posts that combine fashion with something cultural and travel-related.

carved bc canadian art

Are you familiar with Pacific Northwest native art? Aren’t these forms impressive?

la carmina cat

Let’s turn the post over to my Scottish Fold cat. Basil Farrow wanted to take selfies with me, so I obliged.

svnty wood carved mobile cases

His flat-face is a bit like the Easter Island figures. Basil enjoyed sniffing the wood phone case.

division bell pink floyd cell case

When you order a case from SVNTY, you can request a custom name engraving. Mine is marked with La Carmina & The Pirates, in our logo font. There are several types of wood to choose from — including cherry, rosewood and maple — and the matte plastic border creates a snug fit.

cat with cat-eye shape sunglasses

It’s funny that this Moat House sunglasses shape is called “cat eye”… when my Scottish Fold is round all over. I suppose he’s more of an owl than a maoo.

moat house wooden eyewear

Moat House has glasses for both men and women, in a variety of modern designs. Check out their full collection and order from their site.

british sunglasses

Love supporting independent brands, and handmade local goods.

round fat face cat

Basil can’t wear sunglasses because he doesn’t have a nose or ears… but he insists on suntanning anyway.

vancouver buildings ocean reflection

I leave you with some of Joey Wong’s images of Vancouver. He says (and I agree): “Vancouver has to be one of the most underrated and undiscovered cities I’ve been to.”

“No doubt the geographical setting is one of the best in the world with the downtown core being enclosed by beach, sea, and mountains. The scenic beauty is stunning, the food is plentiful and fresh, multiculturalism is real, and I know very few other places where you can be hiking in the mountains and then 30 minutes later be chilling at the beach. It has the contradictions that keep things interesting: small city vibe + cosmopolitan flair, copious amount of wealth + Downtown Eastside, an old European history + a new Asian influence.”

vancouver beach at night, moonlight

“I am disappointed when people overlook Vancouver. It’s not that cold, and it definitely isn’t that wet. Just go. Actually, better yet, don’t. Keep the city a secret.”

So give it some thought. Perhaps you’ll run into me, shooting outfit photos!

Pecha Kucha Tokyo speech! La Carmina x Odigo presentation, SuperDeluxe Roppongi.

tokyo tower at night

It’s my birthday! (August 17.) Thanks for all the kind wishes, I’m so grateful for your friendship.

Perhaps this is an opportune time to share the PechaKucha speech that I made in Tokyo, since it reflects on my journey over the past few years. I’m stunned at how everything has grown — and I couldn’t have done any of this with your support.

pecha kucha tokyo japan

I’ve recently been working with a trip-planning startup, Odigo, and they asked me to do a presentation at PechaKucha 20×20 Tokyo. This is a public speakers’ event that began in Japan, and now takes place worldwide. The challenge is that each presenter only gets 20 slides, displaying on screen for 20 seconds each, to convey their point.

pecha kucha speaker, presenter

I look like I’m having Seinfeld moment, with the microphone and upturned hand. “What’s the deal with bagelheads?”

Outfit details: To match the Alice in Wonderland motif in my speech, I’m wearing a Baby the Stars Shine Bright skirt. This off-shoulder black top by Free People is almost identical to the one I’m wearing (I got mine at 2% Hong Kong).

pechakucha tokyo japan presentation

As you can see, there were hundreds of people in the audience! I had no notes on me, and couldn’t even see the screen behind (which switched to the next photo automatically after twenty seconds). So how did it go? And what exactly did I do a presentation about?

Above and on YouTube, you can see a video of me speaking to the crowd at Pecha Kucha.

The most difficult part was nailing the transitions between the slides, which change automatically. I recommend practicing over and over, including doing trial runs in front of an audience, until you get used to this unique format.

Other PechaKucha tips? Tell stories as you were talking to a friend, to keep the crowd engaged. It never helps to tell a funny anecdote or too. Keep relaxed and the 6-7 minute speech will flow by fast.

Since you can’t always clearly see the slides in the first video, above is one that contains only my PechaKucha slideshow and the audio. I hope you’ll find this example 20×20 presentation helpful, if you ever end up doing one yourself.

pechakucha tokyo founders, superdeluxe roppongi

Arigato everyone who came to see me at SuperDeluxe Roppongi, and to the PechaKucha Tokyo team for having me! The event is full of positive energy, thanks to founders Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, and executive director Jean Snow. PK always features a creative roster of presenters (speaking in Japanese and English) about topics as diverse as rope tying and natto packaging.

(The first photo of me under the Tokyo Tower is by Said Karlsson (who shot my Steampunk magazine cover). Images 2-5 are by Michael Holmes. The rest are from my archives over the years.)

la carmina baby photo, young child

Here are some of the slides and stories I mention in my speech. “Ever since I was one year old, my family and I would take trips to Asia at least once a year. As a child, some of my most vivid memories were visiting Japan. Imagine little ol’ me in 1990s Harajuku, an alien world inhabited by punks with spiky hair, and girls in Victorian ruffle dresses. And everything was so cute!”

group of harajuku teenage girls

“Even though I loved visiting Japan and wearing Jpop fashion, I never imagined it was possible to have a travel career like mine. I went to Columbia University, and then Yale Law School – but my heart wasn’t into law. I needed a creative escape – so I started my La Carmina blog in 2007. Every day, I posted about the hidden spots I loved in Japan – such as the Vampire Cafe where the waiters dressed like Dracula, or pastel Goth boutiques where the fashion is inspired by My Little Pony. All the places that mainstream travel guides and tours would never show you.”

monkey theme cafe japan

“I did this all out of love – I enjoyed connecting with people online over these shared passions, and never thought the site would lead anywhere. But then some of my posts about theme restaurants and cute food became popular… and long story short, it landed me a NY literary agent. That led to two books: Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants and Cute Yummy Time.”

japanese dominatrix mistress

“From then on, everything just kept building organically. One day, a producer emailed and said… “I’m writing from the Andrew Zimmern show, Bizarre Foods. He loves your book, and wants you to be his guide.” That was my first taste of travel TV hosting and production, and I was hooked. Since there was so much demand, my business partner and I started a TV fixing company, and three years later, we’ve organized shows for Food Network, NHK, CNN, Discovery, National Geographic Taboo, and many more.”

where to get a bagelhead in tokyo

“The reason these shows hire us – and not some normal tour guide – is because we’re underground insiders. We know all about the bizarre hot-spots all over the city, and are able to make all the arrangements so that TV shows can shoot things like bagelhead inflation, where you drip saline solution into the forehead, creating a bulge.”

Odigo trip planning site, travel startup

“One thing that I noticed was even though many people enjoyed reading about the places I share on my blog, it was still difficult to search for them on Google maps and figure out how to get from A to B. So I became involved with Odigo, a project that helps me to share my trips with others. All you have to do is go to odigo.travel and you can follow my footsteps!

scottish fold cat lying on back

And if you want to give me a little birthday love, I invite you to join my mailing list (I only send emails about once a year, don’t worry).

❤❤ Just fill in details below & click. ❤❤

Email address:

scottish fold kilt cat yawning

Thank you kindly! If you’re intrigued by my trip-planning collaboration, or want to be one of the first contributors, take a look at Odigo and sign up.

scottish fold birthday card illustration

And hugs for First Mate and illustrator Naomiyaki for this fat-faced greeting card of Basil Farrow.

pechakucha example speech, format, slideshow

I hope you enjoyed watching my Pecha Kucha speech and 20 x 20 second slideshow. More videos soon.

Have you heard of PechaKucha, or been to one of their events? What do you think of my presentation?