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.
I’ll also share the dramatic photos we took amidst the ancient temple ruins — inspired by Lara Croft!
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.)
“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!
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.
What’s the best hotel in Siem Reap? My vote goes to the magnificent Le Méridien Angkor hotel. They have a lush backyard garden…
… 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 has one of the coolest swimming pool designs I’ve seen. The waters are framed by gardens dotted with Hindu statues.
Lotus flowers add to the feeling of peace.
Posing with my travel buddy John Skeleton. We also went to Vietnam together, one of my favorite trips.
See many more photos of my outfit and Le Meridien Angkor, in this previous post.
Thanks to Ken Yuen and Sniper Chau for the photography.
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).
This way, you can go inside to see the sunset and skip the line-up the next day.
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.
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.
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.
Our guide showed us the Terrace of the Elephants. It was the site of public ceremonies for the Khmer king and his troops.
One can’t help but smile when you come across these beaming Buddha faces, peeping out from the trees.
I was mesmerized by this long wall of carvings, which depict Hindu devas.
Some of the faces have been worn down by the elements and time, adding to the feeling of mystery.
Words can’t capture the feeling of standing right in the doorway of century-old ruins. The Cambodian architecture stands the test of time.
Anyone can get up close to the structures, and even climb them. Just watch out for the slippery moss.
Feeling like I’ve entered a lost world. There were no other tourists around us, since our guide helped us avoid the crowds.
Imagining that I am Lara Croft for a day. I even wore a braid in my hair.
The fallen bricks are as beautiful as the standing structures, in their own way.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Sailing with BC Ferries from Vancouver to Victoria! Chinti & Parker Miffy, Vysen Eyewear, Devilish 666.
Ahoy from British Columbia, Canada!
Although I’ve been to beautiful destinations around the world, it’s hard to surpass my home province in the summertime. Vancouver and its surrounding islands are paradise this time of the year: the perfect weather for whale watching and lazing on the beach.
I’ve been feeling the urge to sail away… So I booked a weekend getaway to Victoria, on BC Ferries! This popular ferry runs between various points on the coast and Vancouver Island.
As you know, I’m mad about Miffy, and even made a journey to her Nijntje Museum in the Netherlands. Chinti and Parker (the luxury ready to wear label) teamed up with Miffy on a capsule line. They’ve released the softest cotton shirts and cashmere sweaters, emblazoned with the X-mouthed bunny.
BC Ferries has frequent sailings between Vancouver to Victoria (and other parts of the island). I recommend making a reservation on their website so that you can walk or drive your car right on board.
Then, you can relax and enjoy the peaceful 1.5 hour ride, with some of the best scenery on the planet.
The ferry ride is pure enjoyment. Many passengers grabbed coffee and sandwiches from the on-board cafe (including selections from the much-loved restaurant White Spot). Then they stepped out onto the long wrap-around deck, and basked in the sun and Pacific Ocean views.
For the occasion, I dressed in Goth sailor style. My sunglasses are from Vysen Eyewear, a young label that creates modern-meets-retro designs with Italian craftsmanship. I’m wearing the Aviva Polarized frames: these lavender shades match my hair.
● My nautical stripes matched with the “Spirit of British Columbia: Victoria” lifesaver.
● The black pencil skirt is by my friend Erbert Chong, a talented young designer on the rise. He’s showing his collection at Paris Fashion Week on September 24.
● These unique high-heeled sandals are by Le Babe of Italy.
● Is there a ghost pirate ship in the waters? It looks like a bony skeleton hand grabbing my leg! This spook-tacular clear anklet is from Devilish 666. They carry devilishly dark chokers, harnesses and other nu Goth accessories.
Back inside the vessel, I relaxed in the BC Ferries Seawest Lounge. For $12, you get unlimited drinks and snacks, and can choose from a selection of newspapers and magazines. Best of all, you can enjoy the coastal views in a private, quiet space.
I curled up in my lounge chair, and watched Pacific Northwest islands float by. An announcement came over the speakers: there were whales outside! I didn’t manage to get a photo of the creatures, but saw them playing in these waters.
(If you enjoy my outfits, I welcome you to check out my wardrobe sale here. I’m selling a lot of my clothes at low prices!)
My Chinti and Parker x Miffy top has a Sailor Moon meets nautical vibe. How cute is the bunny, resting on a yellow crescent moon and surrounded by stars?
This label has a cat and stripes version of this shirt too, and more adorable fashion below:
In an hour and a half, the ferry docked in Swartz Bay. Time to explore Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and largest city on the island.
Tourists tend to see Butchart Gardens and the Parliament buildings (I went to all these places as a child). However, my friends and I prefer to enjoy the beaches and natural beauty of Victoria. There’s a hippie, laid-back feeling here that reminds me of northern California.
I headed south to Cordova Bay, located less than a 20 minutes drive from the ferry terminal.
I arrived at a warm, sand and pebble beach framed by cottages and cute restaurants. This is a local’s destination; you won’t find it crowded with tourists.
I tied back my hair with this “monstrous” black bow with a zombie eye, by Devilish 666.
Devilish makes this fetish-style Gothic choker as well, which is my current favorite. My berry lip gloss is this one by Anastasia Beverly Hills.
Grab some ice cream, go for a canoe ride, get drinks on the patio… this is how Vancouver Island shines in the summer.
If you’re in Vancouver, don’t miss out on Victoria and its surroundings. You can even ride BC Ferries to/from the mainland on the same day, for an easy getaway.
A sailor’s salute to BC Ferries for the joyful experience. Their fleet is spacious and reliable, and there’s so much to see and do that you might not want the ride to end!
(I recommend booking in advance on the BC Ferries website, which also has plenty of helpful travel info, packages and even gift certificates).
I’ll end with some bonus summer photos from Vancouver. I met up with my friend Mujitsu to explore the Powell Street Festival, which celebrates Japanese food and heritage.
Did you know there were summer attractions like these in Vancouver and Victoria? I hope you’ll visit BC, and pose with this fortune cat for yourself! (Above two photos by Daniel Wennerholm.)
Have you been enjoying the summer months? Did you travel anywhere, or do something special?
PS: I’ve been adding more videos to my Instagram, which are found nowhere else. You can see them at username @lacarmina.
Istanbul Nightlife, Fashion, Hipster Districts: Beyoglu, Karakoy. 360 panorama bar, 1924 Rejans restaurant.
Istanbul is one of those fascinating destinations where ancient history and edgy youth cultures co-exist. In a single street, you can walk by the 14th century Galata Tower, and come across a spread of psychedelic graffiti.
Let’s take a stroll through the hipster neighborhoods of Istanbul: Karaköy and Beyoğlu. I’ll take you inside video-art galleries, and the design stores of Çucurcuma. We’ll end our day with cocktails while overlooking a 360 degree view of the Bosphorus.
And since this is my birthday week (August 17!), I’ve put up many new items on my Depop store! Please take a browse. It would make me happy to send you a package of my Goth Kawaii fashion and accessories.
Istanbul is a city made for walking. At every turn, you’ll find photo-worthy details like flowering tiles, brightly painted walls, mosques… and a cat or two. (I wrote more about the street animals of Istanbul in this post.)
For a glimpse of local life, wander through the winding roads of Beyoglu. I enjoyed seeing the family-run markets and colorful homes of this district.
You’ll come across cats and dogs everywhere in Istanbul. They’re quite well fed and relaxed — this kitty made himself at home, on a motorcycle!
I recommend wearing good walking shoes, since Beyoğlu’s roads are steep and lack pavements. The area is safe during the day, but my local friends advised me not to go here alone at night.
On the popular shopping street, Istiklal, you’ll find lots of modern art galleries. At Arter, there was an intriguing collection of video and light projections. Quite a few had creepy motifs: a giant stuffed bear, a floating dress, a bedroom voyeur.
If you’re afraid of clowns, then you wouldn’t want to come across this gigantic pregnant mime!
Continue to the Karakoy district. You’ll find stores selling handmade goods, and walls of colorful street art.
There’s a funky, hippie vibe to a lot of the works. I just love the energy of cities like Istanbul.
Be sure to find Çukurcuma, a cool street in the heart of Beyoglu. It’s famous for its antique shops, but I was more interested in browsing the hip design boutiques.
I found Totoro pins and bunny dolls in Lunapark. Most of the Cukurcuma retailers are local and independent — a nice contrast to the more commercial shopping areas.
Nearby, there was a jewelry maker, and a comic books store. We passed by the cutest cafes, and couldn’t resist stopping for a tulip-shaped glass of hot black Turkish tea.
Every district of Istanbul has a distinct character. The fish and fruit vendors waved me into Besiktas market.
Pants: I’m wearing these exact Black Milk leggings.
Shoes: Ecco Intrinsic sneakers — love these kicks!
Shades: Moat House Eyewear
Istanbul’s hottest restaurants and nightlife are centered around Istiklal St, near Taksim Square.
We had a world-class dinner at 1924 Rejans, a restaurant that hearkens back to the era of Russian emigres in Turkey.
(Address: Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi OIivya Geçidi No:7-A, 34435, Istanbul)
Rejans was once an Istanbul hot-spot for wealthy Russians, who fled the Bolshevik revolution and recreated their urbane lifestyle in Turkey. Bohemians and politicians alike rubbed shoulders in the wood-paneled dining room.
Today, the restaurant has been revived as 1924 Rejans. The classic decor and attentive staff instantly bring you back in time.
The mixologist introduced himself, and brought out a pushcart of house-infused vodkas. We started with the classic lemon vodka: I was tempted to taste every flavor.
We ordered a round of classic cocktails, each made in perfect measure.
Nostalgia isn’t afraid to meet innovation. I watched the bartender make me a smoky Negroni, with molecular cocktail theatrics.
The menu is tribute to classic Russian and Eastern European favorites, with some modern twists. We started with a delightful spread of appetizers including salads and warm salmon blinis, followed by comfort classics like chicken Kiev and beef Wellington.
A live accordion player filled the room with Slavic song. 1924 is a warm, elegant dining experience that brings you back to Europe’s golden days.
On another night, we had a very different — but equally memorable — evening at 360 Istanbul. Located on the rooftop of an eight story building, this bar / restaurant / club offers one of the best panorama views of the city. (Address: Tomtom Mh., İstiklal Cad. Mısır Apt.No:163 K:8, 34433 Beyoğlu).
360 Istanbul is completely surrounded by windows, which lets you dine with a spectacular unblocked view. You can also step onto the patio to gaze out at the Bosporus, mosques and historical district.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, with a large selection of dishes that range from Turkish mezzes to international cuisine. On the weekends, 360Istanbul turns into 360Club, with top DJs and live musical performances.
Don’t miss out on the many clubs and bars in the Taksim area, especially in the summer. At night, these streets are full of energy, and venues are pumped up with partygoers until early morning.
I leave you with some illuminated art, from a gallery in Besiktas.
Istanbul is inspiring, isn’t it? I hope this guide gives you a sense of the coolest neighborhoods, what to see, and where to eat! Please feel free to share the post with friends who are interested in Istanbul, and perhaps traveling here soon.
And thank you again for the birthday wishes. I’d love it if you took a look at my store — I’m selling lots of my Japanese fashion and accessories for low prices.
Just take a browse here, and email me directly if there’s something you would like. I’ll gladly do exact shipping and bundle discounts, and send your package with a personal note, photo, and more. Talk soon!
Why Travel to Slovenia? The Mediterranean beaches of Portoroz, Slovenian food, Fonda sustainable fish!
Ah, there’s nothing like the Mediterranean coast in summer. Could this be the Italian Riviera? Dubrovnik in Croatia? Surprise… I’m standing in Slovenia!
Before my trip, I knew very little about this tiny European country — and I’m guessing you’re in the same shoes. To my surprise, I discovered a world class beach town, creative restaurant scene, and ethical food produced by Slovenians with passion.
On our first day, my filmmakers and I learned straight away that Slovenia is a travel destination full of surprises.
But first, a style revelation: there’s a dyed skull underneath my hair!
If you’ve been following my social media, you’ll have seen images of my skull-shaped undercut, which is the work of stylist Stephanie Hoy at Sugar Skull Studio in Vancouver. I’ve trusted her with my rainbow hairstyles throughout the years, and am thrilled with this big change.
Want to know how to achieve a skull shaved hairstyle like mine? Then watch the video of my hair transformation, step by step! You’ll see how Stephanie used clippers to sculpt the shape, then bleached and dyed the skull and crossbones. (Watch it on LaCarmina Youtube.)
(Shop more designs by Long Clothing with a click below — this nu-Goth brand rocks!)
My nail art is Miffy meets the devil. They’re by Glam Nail Studio, an award winning salon located in the Vancouver area, specialising in Japanese nail art.
My head feels so much lighter, after taking out the lower layers of hair. I like how I can wear it up to show off the skull, or leave it down to cover it. Perfect for my summer travels.
Slovenia is an easy, quick flight from most European countries (it only took 2 hours for me to get here from Amsterdam). The country is also within a few hours drive of Austria, Italy and Croatia — it’s possible to visit all three by car, in a single day!
Many people assume that Slovenia is a land-locked country, since it appears to be that way on the map. In fact, there’s a warm and gorgeous coastal stretch along the Adriatic Sea. (How glorious is this waterfront view from my hotel window?)
My filmmakers and I started our journey in Portoroz, one of these seaside towns known for wellness. We stayed at Hotel Slovenija: beautifully designed, luxurious and modern.
Their spa offers therapies related to the surrounding nature and healing mineral waters. I was glad for a massage after multiple flights and jetlag.
Crowds of tourists can ruin experiences for me. In Slovenia, there’s nothing of this sort. No Starbucks or McDonalds. Not a single bus tour in Tartini Square.
I loved walking around and seeing the layers of history in the architecture. Portoroz feels like an undiscovered seaside town in Croatia or Italy.
I stopped to take a Vine video of the red roofs overlooking the Adriatic. (I’m @lacarmina on Vine, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.)
Perhaps this gorgeous country is overlooked by travellers because it’s so tiny. It only has two million inhabitants, over 20k square kilometers.
The small size is a big advantage, when it comes to food production. Slovenian ingredients are outstanding because locals can take their time and use natural methods to bring out the best possible flavors.
My travel film team and I visited Soline / Sečovlje Saltworks, the famous evaporation pond located in Piran. At these saltworks, everything is done in the traditional method.
Saltmaking is one of Slovenia’s oldest economic activities. At Soline, the process is the same as it was centuries ago: the sea, sunshine, and a lot of muscle work. The salt flats also have an ecological benefit, as they encourage flora and fauna.
I pretended to be a salt-worker, and failed. Let’s just say that I only managed to push the cart a few inches on the track!
Slovenian salt also has health benefits, since it’s high in minerals and crystallized naturally.
I’ve tried a number of gourmet salts, but Sečovlje’s product is outstanding. The taste is light, with hints of minerals. Since the crystals are enhanced by the seawater captured inside, flavors are nuanced rather than explicitly “salty.”
Slovenian salt gets my “Miffy two thumbs up!” If you’re curious, you can order Piranske Soline salt through their website.
My next stop was again an eye-opener. I always thought of “fish farming” as bad for both the creatures and the environment, and preferred the taste of wild-caught. However, at Fonda Fish Farm (Ribogojnica Fonda), I met a woman who is taking a very different approach.
Dr. Irena Fonda (molecular biologist and award-winning researcher) joined her family in raising fish via the free-floating method, or cages in open water. The rich sea water, continuous movement, and natural environment result in sea bass that are ethically raised — and recognized as the best quality in the world.
Dr. Fonda took us on a boat ride through the warm and beautiful Piran Bay. As the waters deepened, we came across what looked like yellow caterpillars, floating on the gentle waves. It turned out to be Fonda’s mussel farm! Ropes hang down from these buoys, and the mollusks grow on them.
We arrived at the pens, and they were nothing like the crowded, dirty “fish farms” that I always heard about. The sea bass swim freely about in the fresh Piran waters, which have an ideal balance of salt and minerals. The cages also become homes for other underwater organisms, supporting the local ecosystem.
Every day, Fonda’s team comes to feed the sea bass (they grow for 2-3 years). I got to give it a try: you can watch me tossing food to the fishies, in this Instagram video!
Dr. Fonda impressed us with her heartfelt dedication to every aspect of her work, including education and package design. If you see Fonda sea bass on a menu, you’ll know this means the highest grade. The body had a clean, pleasing smell — nothing “fishy” is going on.
(On the boat ride, I wore this exact Sorel Torpeda sandal, which is both stylish and practical — you can walk all day long, and they match most clothes. I also love Sorel’s studded sandals. See more of their footwear below.)
It doesn’t get any fresher than this: sea bass carpaccio, straight from Slovenian waters. With a sprinkle of Soline salt (from the flats we visited) and local olive oil (which was better than any I’ve had in Italy or Greece, no joke).
“Na’zdravje” or cheers to Fonda fish farm for the enlightening tour and snack.
With our appetites whetted, it was time to sit down for lunch. Our guide and driver Ales took us to Domačija Šajna, which is the definition of a charming Slovenian village. We passed through these big doors into an open courtyard with a flowering garden.
Yet another pleasant surprise: Slovenian cuisine has a lot of seafood and Mediterranean influences. It’s certainly not the “central European” stereotype of meat and potatoes.
We started with farm-fresh cheeses and prosciutto, paired with Slovenian wines (all were outstanding). At the bottom right, I could have eaten ten servings of this shaved truffle gnocchi.
The chef used local fruit and wines to add both color and flavor. He served aged beef steak in wine sauce, poached pears, and millefeuille with strawberry.
Everything is close by in small Slovenia, and Domacija Sajna is well worth a drive for a meal like this.
Our road trip continued with a few more scenic stops. In the Littoral region (Municipality of Komen, in the Karst plateau), we walked around Štanjel church.
This Parish Church of the Prophet Daniel was built in the 15th century. It has a Games of Thrones feeling, doesn’t it? I half expected the High Sparrow to step out.
Are you surprised by what we found in Slovenia? This is what I love about off-the-beaten-path destinations: they’re full of hidden treasures, which surpass our expectations about a place.
In a single day, I had my eyes opened in many ways. Coming up, I’ll show you what we found in the capital of Ljubljana, the island on Lake Bled, and more.
If you’re digging my outfit, you can shop these same items below:
And here’s the DIY tutorial hair video of my skull shaved cut. Would you do an undercut style like this?