Hail Halloween! Stephen Einhorn bee pendant jewelry, Morph8ne Gothic fashion, Stanley Park Ghost Train.

gothic fall outfit spooky halloween clothing

“I always feel like somebody’s watching meeeee… Who’s playing tricks on me?”

Halloween is near, and I finally feel like I’m back in my element! The summer heatwave was too long and intense for this Goth. Big sigh of relief that sweater weather has arrived.

This is the time to gather up your friends, and enjoy Halloween festivities while they last! In this story, we’ll crunch through fiery autumn leaves, and ride the Stanley Park Ghost Train. At the end, I’ll show you pumpkins, ghosts and other creepy-cuties that I photographed while in Japan. 

morph8ne dolls kill bad mood collection

Nothing beats fall fashion, especially if you have Gothic inclinations. I’ve been layering with red to match the color of the changing leaves.

My “Bad Mood” top and skirt are by Morph8ne, one of my favorite designers. Based in Thailand, this dark fashion label draws influences from fairy tale villains, Gothic Lolita, punk, grunge and the 1990s (how can you go wrong with that)? I had the pleasure of visiting their design studio in Bangkok… Stay tuned for this inside look soon.

Shop Morph8ne – click below for more:

stephen einhorn bumblebee jewelry

This season, I’ve also been wearing my new gold bee pendant by Stephen Einhorn. The British fine jewelry designer is celebrated for his contemporary designs, which stand out for their edge and charm.

I was delighted to receive a package from his London studio, lovingly wrapped with ribbon and a wax seal. The box opens up… to reveal an intricately hand-crafted bumblebee!

gold bee necklace stephen einhorn

Perched on manuka honey beeswax, doesn’t it look like this cute creature is ready to take flight? Stephen Einhorn’s pendants can be purchased alone, or with a matching chain. (I put my bee on my mom’s gold necklace from the 1960s.)

All of these creations are made by hand in his London workshop. As you can see from his site, Stephen Einhorn has designs that cater to every personality: dogs of all breeds, minimal disks, lockets, birds in flight, and even vampire fangs and skulls.

layering gold pendant necklaces the reformation nellie dress

I love how the design catches the eye, yet is subtle enough to wear with all types of outfits. Here’s one way to style the bumblebee: layered with other gold necklaces or chokers of different lengths.

(I styled mine with this Nellie dress by The Reformation. More from the sustainable designer below:)

stephen einhorn british designer jewellery

This charm is simply the bees’ knees. A close-up reveals the solid luxurious gold and fine etchings that give the insect character.

alternative goth jewelry bee necklaces

Perhaps you have seen Stephen Einhorn’s designs in your favorite movies. He made Lara Croft’s necklace in the latest Tomb Raider, a medieval necklace for the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman, and Johnny Depp’s vampire ring in Dark Shadows!

layered gold necklaces fashion blogger

I always prefer to support independent designers like Stephen Einhorn. He makes unique rings, bracelets, necklaces and charms for both men and women, in an impressive array of styles from heavy metal to Art Deco.

fall autumn leaves fashion instagram outfit

I took my bee pendant out to the forest, along with new clothes from my recent travels in Asia. My Miffy daruma dangle is from the Tokyo Station “Miffy Style” store (soon, I’ll give you a full tour of the cute “character street”).

The sweatshirt and miniskirt are from the new BadMood collection by Morph8ne — isn’t the emo-face adorable?

(For more designs by Morph8ne, click the below images:)

stanley park jack o'lantern's journey

My friends and I went to the Stanley Park Ghost Train in Vancouver, BC. Every October, the miniature rail takes visitors through the dark forest, where they encounter all sorts of supernatural beings.

The theme changes each time (once it was classic movie monsters, another time it was Day of the Dead). This year, the ride is about Jack O’Lantern’s Journey Through the Dark Forest: a mystical world encompassing the legends of Halloween and Harvest.

stanley park halloween ghost train

In addition to the Ghost Train, Stanley Park has a Halloween-themed event area. Although we all have a 😐 facial expression (including my shirt and the pumpkin-headed scarecrow!), these displays were not in the least bit disappointing.  There was a haunted maze, a pumpkin patch, taxidermy, face painting, and all types of festival food for sale including healthy options.

pumpkin lanterns emoji faces

Visitors can purchase tickets to the Stanley Park Ghost Train at the entrance, but I recommend booking a time slot online in advance, as the popular hours can sell out. The train runs throughout most of the day, but it’s better to go after sunset. From 6:30pm onward, the ride features live actors in the woods — something that should not be missed.

morph8ne gothic dolly clothing dollskill

We got there in the late afternoon so that we’d have time to walk around Stanley Park, and take photos.

I’m holding a vegan leather luxury bag by Erbert Chong. Love the faux fur accent, and the large carry-all size is perfect for holding a DSLR camera and winter accessories.

My dark red knee boots are these exact After Hour boots by Sorel.  The round metal sunglasses are Edwardson Eyewear.

Top and skirt by Morph8ne – see below for more from this designer.

bee pendant jewelry necklace

Here’s another way to wear Stephen Einhorn’s bee jewellery. The silhouette stands out against a black high neck or turtleneck top.

His bumblebee charm necklace can be ordered in a variety of solid precious metals at different karats — including sterling silver, rose gold, platinum, white gold. I chose yellow gold since it seemed most befitting for a bee. Stephens’s studio also makes custom, bespoke designs for clients.

morph8ne bangkok goth fashion clothes

If you come to Vancouver, you must see the beloved Stanley Park: a 405-hectare public space in city’s downtown, surrounded by the harbour and English Bay. You’ll feel as if you’re in a storybook forest as you wander amidst the towering trees. Some of Stanley Park’s attractions include native totem poles, Lost Lagoon, a tea house, rose garden and more.

vancouver halloween stanley park events

Around nightfall, the park feels especially “Halloween” — with dead leaves on the ground, and an eerie fog over the horizon.

stanley park fall leaves autumn trees

I felt like a kid, crunching through the layers of red and orange maple leaves. (We tried to take some photos tossing the leaves in the air, but they didn’t quite turn out right. At least we got some lens flare…)

At sunset, we headed back to the Ghost Train as it was time to board.

Ghost Train in Stanley Park

The line leads to a miniature train (you really have to squish to sit in it!). Once you pass through the devilish ram’s mouth, the ride is about 15 minutes long, and winds through the deep woods. 

Along the way, you’ll see scenes featuring the undead Jack O’Lantern and other creatures. The train slows so that you can take in live performances set in this mysterious Celtic Hallowe’en world, where nothing is quite what it seems.

halloween vancouver bc haunted houses

This year, the lighting effects and art direction were impressive. The Ghost Train takes you through sinister vignettes that gets your imagination flowing —  such as floating druids over water, and these cult-like figures hovering over lit candles.  

vancouver halloween events train

Don’t expect jump scares, or monsters attacking you along the way. This isn’t a cheesy plastic haunted house.

Instead, you’re presented with dark, fantastical beings that transform in ways that will astonish you. As Rob put it, “It reminded me of Sleepy Hollow, mixed with The Witch and The Wicker Man.”

witches stanley park ghost train 2018

Someone’s about to pop out of the witch’s cauldron… but I won’t spoil the surprise.

(Funny story: there was a scene where a crowd was leading Pumpkinhead Jack up a staircase. This reminded me of the movie Apocalypto, so I wondered out loud: “Are they going to cut off his head and throw it down the stairs?” The kids on the ride heard me and screamed “Nooo, nooo! They’re crowning him as the king! He’s happy!” Sigh, leave it to me to traumatize the children wherever I go…)

stanley park pumpkins halloween

The Ghost Train in Stanley Park is running until November 1st. It’s the perfect way for people of all ages get into the Halloween spirit.

weird bizarre pumpkins gourds

Have any of you gotten pumpkins this year? Here are the bizarre pumpkins and gourds I picked up, next to my Miffy lamp.

tokyo halloween pastries desserts

I’ll leave you with photos of Japanese Halloween decorations, toys and treats. You may recall that I was in Tokyo this September, which gave me a chance to take these seasonal snaps.

japan halloween cookies yokumoku

Japan’s department stores always carry beautifully packaged sweets, which change depending on the time of year and occasion. Right now, you can choose: Trick or Yokumoku? (Inside the pumpkin and bat boxes are Yoku Moku’s all-natural butter cookies.)

cute kawaii halloween treats japan

Although the Jack-O-Lantern face is cute, a Tokyo Banana Raisin dessert doesn’t sound very appetizing to me…

daiso halloween decorations pumpkins

At Daiso, the 100 yen store, you can pick up tons of cute Halloween decorations for low prices. Many of my friends stock up on stickers and decor to use year-round.

rilakkuma halloween bears toys

I’ll soon do a full post about Tokyo Station Character Street, but here’s a preview. The Rilakkuma store had limited edition Halloween stuffed toys when I visited.

mimikyu pikachu pokemon stuffed toy

In the Pokemon shop, I came across Mimikyu — the ghost-like monster that hides under a Pikachu disguise!

tokyo japan halloween food

With packaging like this, it’s tempting to buy everything Halloween-themed in Japan…

cute japanese spooky souvenirs

At Don Quixote and grocery stores, you can find candy with happy ghosts, Jack Skellington, and other spooks.

Did you enjoy this look at Halloween in Japan? For more, see my previous stories about Tokyo Halloween-themed food and Tokyo costumes and makeup.

urban outfitters halloween clothing

This is the best time of the year to shop for Gothic fashion, as many designers release spooky designs for the season. Here are three of my favorites (click for details)

❤ Skeleton crop sweatshirt Smiling pumpkin top ❤ The Craft t-shirt dress

dolls kill sexy halloween group costumes

Or how about a group costume for trick-or-treating this year? Find tons of Goth / devilish Halloween costumes here, including the skeleton suits and Satanic cheer-leading outfits above!

morph8ne badmood heart face shirt skirt

Despite the neutral face, I’m smiling wide inside… so happy it’s Halloween! Do you have plans for celebrating this year?


Luang Prabang, Laos day tour with private guide! Kuang Si waterfall, Buddhist temples with Tours By Locals.

travel blogger kuang si falls

Laos, you were lovely! After a grueling TV shoot in Japan and the madness of Bangkok, I was in dire need of R&R.

Luang Prabang, Laos was just the ticket to a peaceful getaway. It was a joy to get to know this Buddhist country with my friends and Tours By Locals. Read on for our journey involving temples and waterfalls and bears — oh my.

Outfit Details: I’m wearing a cut-out shirt by Michi, and hat by Bella Starr Hats. My heart-shaped Hope bag is by Lola Ramona; they also make a version that looks like a Sailor Moon bag. More tops like mine below…

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham temple Luang Prabang

My friends and I wanted an authentic experience in and around Luang Prabang, so we linked up with Tours By Locals. They connect travellers with trusted local guides around the world, who take them on private excursions off the beaten track.

Our Luang Prabang and waterfall tour was entirely customizable, and easy to arrange online. Unlike typical group tours, I loved how we got to see the culture of Laos through the eyes of a passionate local.

luang prabang buddhist stupa wat mai

Our guide Jay Asia and his driver picked us up from our hotel in an air-conditioned car. Jay has a bright, easy-going energy that was perfect for us, as we like to be flexible in our travels. He was glad to make last-minute adjustments for us (such as when we wanted to stop for ice cream and coffee), and always answered our questions thoughtfully.

Luang Prabang is a tiny capital, so it’s possible to visit many attractions in a single day. We began our morning at Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham temple. Jay explained that this Gothic black mound is a stupa, or Buddhist monument housing sacred relics or remains.

(I’m holding my Boy 1904 umbrella, and wearing skeleton bone leggings similar to these ones.)

gold buddha statue wat mai laos

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is the largest and most ornate temple in Luang Prabang. The structure was built in 1780 by King Anurat, and the interior is shimmering with gold leaf and red lacquer. (All photos by Julie Hunter, Yukiro Dravarious and me.)

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham monastery gold pillars

We sat down in front of the giant Buddha with Jay. He told us his personal story of studying with Buddhist monks as a child, and then becoming one for several years.

Jay knowledgeably answered our questions about the differences between Buddhism in Laos, and other countries in Southeast Asia. He walked us through his daily life as a monk (involving very early rising, receiving alms from locals, eating twice a day, meditating for hours, and abiding by precepts). It was fascinating to learn about Laotian spirituality from his perspective. 

golden buddhas statues luang prabang

I asked Jay about the portrait next to the giant golden Buddha. He told us that it honors Phra Sangkharat, the highest dignitary who resided in Wat Mai temple at the end of the 19th century.

jay asia tours by locals luang prabang laos

We chatted under the calm gaze of the towering gilded Buddha, seated in the meditation position. He is surrounded by many smaller Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, positioned in various mudras. The shrine also houses an emerald Buddha.

Outside, the gilded façade has bas reliefs depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life, as well as daily life in Luang Prabang.

wat mai two gold buddhas

Jay suggested that we walk around to see a hidden second Buddha, awkwardly seated right behind the large one! Originally, this was the main image of Wat Mai — but the founder’s younger brother decided to one-up him, and place a bigger Buddha right in front.

Haw Pha Bang Buddhist temple, Luang Prabang

Inspired by the poses we saw in the artwork, we went on to Haw Pha Bang. The eaves and decor look classic, but this temple was actually finished in 2006.

The green, red and gold temple sits near the Royal Palace of Luang Prabang. It was built in 1904 (during the French colonial era) to house King Sisavang Vong and his family. Today, the Royal Palace is a museum that preserves the history and lineage of the kingdom.

Wat Xieng Thong temple roof laos

We ended our temple-hopping at Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important in the country. The temple and monastery were built in 1560 by King Setthathirath. This remained the site where kings were crowned until the Communist takeover of Laos in 1975.

tours by locals luang prabang private tour guide

Jay bowed three times to the golden Buddha inside, draped in the orange robes of a monk.

Wat XiengThong gold ship

Finally, we entered the royal funerary chariot house, where we were greeted by a fierce funeral carriage standing 12 metres high! These growling creatures are nagas, the mythical serpents of the Buddhist cosmology.

golden famous temple luang prabang laos

The exterior of the Royal Funerary Chariot Hall is a sight to behold. Completed in 1962, these gilded wood carvings show flowery scenes from the Phra Lak Phra Lam, the Laotian version of the Hindu epic Ramayana.

gold temple wat xienthong

This building was built to house royal urns, and the dramatic funeral carriage of King Sisavang Vong. When he died in 1959, the barge was carried through the streets of Luang Prabang.

luang prabang library volunteering charity

Next door is Luang Prabang Library, an educational non-profit that I urge you to visit. They provide books and school supplies to children in rural areas, where such items are a rarity. To reach these remote villages, the library operates two boats and make stops along the Mekong River.

voluntourism laos children's library

In the community space, volunteers teach local children music, languages, and other skills. (These two shy girls are playing the lanat, or Laotian xylophone).

You can support the Luang Prabang Library by dropping off books or school supplies for the children. Alternately, you can purchase a souvenir or make a donation.

donations luang prabang library volunteers

I had a million extras pens and stationery lying around, as well as old calculators and other items. It was simple to gather and donate them to the library. What we consider “clutter” can be invaluable in other parts of the world. 

The Luang Prabang library is doing wonderful work, and we were happy to support them during our travels.

private car driver luang prabang

Time to sing “Welcome to the Jungle” as we made our way to Kuang Si Waterfall, located about 18 miles south of the capital. Our driver took us on a 45 minute ride that wound through lush forests and rice fields.

Laos was a welcome relief from the pollution and traffic of Bangkok (our previous destination). Here, there are no fast-food restaurants or tall buildings, and we didn’t see a single bus of tourists.

hike to kuang si waterfalls

Tours by Locals offers a one-hour trek to the famous waterfall, but in this humid weather, we opted to drive most of the way. From the entrance, we walked along the path for about 10 minutes. As you can see, “it’s a jungle out there”… Pirate-planks over water, and trees with twisting roots! 

Pro tip: don’t lean on the wood railings of the small bridges. Yukiro posed against one… and the rail fell right off! I shrieked in terror, but fortunately, he wasn’t injured.

kuangsi falls luang prabang

As we got closer, the flow picked up its pace. Kuangsi Falls is a multi-leveled cascade, so the water crashes down from different heights. There are areas where people can swim… but the current was quite fast, which dissuaded us from going in.

Yukiro is wearing a black and white striped sunhat by Bella Starr.

famous waterfalls laos

The path leads to the main falls, with a 60 metre drop. The mist over the limestone pools made Kuang Si look like something out of a fantasy.

kuang si waterfall tour

Jay took this photo of me while holding up a leaf to the lens. We were happy to have him as our guide, as he always found ways to make our tour special. For instance, Jay got us grilled bananas and potatoes for us to try, and ran after Yukiro’s sandal when he lost it in the stream!

(I’m wearing a black cutaway top by Michi, and heart shaped Hope purse by Lola Ramona. They also make the heart bag in red and blue. See more of their retro pin-up styles below…)

kuang xi waterfalls secret pool

If you’re in Luang Prabang, you’ve got to make an excursion to the dazzling Kuang Xi waterfalls. Since it’s located outside the city, booking a private trip with Tours By Locals is the easiest way to see the falls.

bear rescue center laos

As you trek through the jungle, don’t be afraid if you come across some grizzlies. This is the site of Free the Bears, or the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre!

luang prabang bear rescue

This organization works to protect Asian black bears. Tragically, many of these creatures are trapped and killed for their gallbladders, which are believed to have medicinal powers. These bears are also killed for food, or taken as pets in the black market.

tat kuang si bear rescue centre

At Tat Kuang Si Rescue Center, we were glad to see that they are now living the Winnie-the-Pooh lifestyle! The non-profit provides stimulating, open enclosures for the bears.

free the bears luang prabang

Visitors come to say hi to the cute mammals, and learn about them. Outside, there was a “bears of the world” display… Can you spot the odd one out?

Smiling stone cat statue Luang Prabang

Free the Bears Laos also helps other animals, and employs locals in meaningful work. With their efforts, the endangered Asiatic black bears will hopefully rebuild their populations.  

buffalo dairy luang prabang coffee cafe

On the way back, we made a pit-stop at Laos Buffalo Dairy. This sustainable farm produces fresh buffalo cheese and milk, which they serve with coffee. And they make delicious buffalo milk ice cream, which helped us cool down from the humid temperature. (Try the pumpkin pie, tamarind, and coconut flavors!)

bunny rabbit farm luang prabang

Susie Martin, one of founders, took us on a tour of the farm. So many happy bunnies to feed and hold.

Susie explained how Laos Buffalo Dairy works with local farmers and helps the community. They rent the females to milk them for dairy products (a non-traditional use of the buffalo in Laos), providing the villagers with a source of income. The farm also provides better healthcare for the animals, and cross-breeds them for greater milk yields.

buffalo milking feeding dairy laos

Buffalo milk is nutritious, and easier to digest than cow milk (as lactose intolerance is common in Asia). This farm takesexcellent care of the animals, and the products help feed Laotian children, 44 percent of whom are undernourished. Cheers to Laos Buffalo Dairy for their innovative work.

saffron coffee shop cafe luang prabang

After our tour with Jay, we spent time exploring Luang Prabang on our own. This is the type of place where you enjoy a leisurely breakfast, go out to see a sights or take a swim, and then relax for hours in a local cafe.

Not many places in Laos have air conditioning, so we were relieved to visit Saffron Coffee (they have an AC area upstairs). Laotian coffee is fantastic — I thoroughly enjoyed my cold brew — and Saffron makes a mean gluten and dairy-free brownie, along with other sweets.

novelty cafe luang prabang laos

We also enjoyed hanging out at Novelty Cafe in Luang Prabang. They have a great selection of fresh juices and healthy foods, and the chic environment is perfect for working on your laptop.

luang prabang shops shopping stores

Luang Prabang avoids the typical tourist-trinket stores. We browsed local boutiques that sold Laotian handicrafts, scarves, textiles, and art.

laos masks artwork luang prabang

Leave it to me to find a devilish mask and red star!

Luang Prabang is so tiny that it’s easy to walk around everywhere. If the heat gets too intense, you can flag down a local tuk tuk.

night market luang prabang laos

We ended up at the Luang Prabang night market, where you can find snake liquor, glowing lanterns and other inexpensive items. Be sure to bargain — Yukiro got long pants for $1.50 US!

Jay then took us on a night out, starting at Tamarind restaurant. We feasted on Laotian eggplant, the national dish of larb (minced buffalo), pumpkin ginger soup, and surprisingly tasty sticky rice. Next, we had drinks at the Lao Lao Garden, a verdant bar with a lively crowd and pool table. Cocktails are only about $2, and you can pay for items in Thai baht or Lao kip. (Try the dragonfruit coconut cocktail, a new creation.)

phousi mountain luang prabang gold stupa

Finally, Julie took a walk up Mount Phousi, which rises over the center of the old town. (Yukiro and I elected to go back to our villa and get massages!)

As you climb the 355 steps, you’ll encounter gold Buddha statues and shrines along the way. The golden Wat Chomsi stupa sits at the top of the mountain, built in 1804.

mount phousi view mekong river luang prabang

When you reach the summit of Mt. Phousi, you’re rewarded with a panoramic view of Luang Prabang: temples, deep green mountains, and the snaking Mekong River. Many travellers come here for a spectacular view of the sunset.

luang prabang laos tour guide jay asia

A big hug to our guide and new friend Jay Asia — he made our trip to Luang Prabang one to remember! We thoroughly enjoyed our Tours By Locals experience, as it let us learn about this destination with authenticity. Without a private tour and driver, we would never have been able to cover so much ground in a single day.

laos buddhist temples buddha

Unlike other Southeast Asian countries, Laos lacks a single landmark or attraction that drives visitors (contrast this to Angkor Wat for example). However to us, this is an enormous plus: we loved being in an unhurried, non-commercial city. Luang Prabang let us kick back, and simply take in the local nature and spirituality.

Keep Laos in mind for your next trip. There are residents doing excellent non-profit work here — bear rescue, children’s literacy, local development, nutrition. I hope you’ll have an opportunity to visit and support them.

One more post from Laos to come, so check back… and I’ll be posting about Bangkok, Tokyo, Naoshima and Hiroshima too!