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Charli Cohen alternative activewear: Edgy fitness fashion! Musee du Bonbon & Smash Therapy Vancouver.

instagram museum candy ice cream vancouver canada

Sugar sugar… Have I stumbled into Candyland?

Presenting one last photoshoot before I fly to Paris, Cairo, and Beirut — featuring Charli Cohen’s progressive activewear for the modern super-heroine! 

charli cohen skirt, jacket model

As you can imagine, being a travel blogger means I’m always on the go. More than ever, I need a wardrobe that fits with both my lifestyle and alternative aesthetic.

These days, I’ve been turning to Charli Cohen for her edgy, technical “futurewear.” As you can see, this designer activewear can seamlessly go from day — running around, working out — to night. (Just add fishnets and heels!)

charli cohen sports bras fitness fashion

I shot images of her designs at the new Musee du Bonbon in Richmond, BC. This pop-up is designed for taking photos, and the first of its kind in Vancouver. The 3000 square foot space has over 20 creative displays, which are perfect for snapping and sharing on Instagram.

valfre jolie black white dress

This pink hallway let me channel Sheena Easton in her 1983 song: “Long long distance love affair (whoa-oh!). I can’t find you anywhere (whoa-oh!).  I call you on the telephone, but you’re never home…”

When it comes to building fantastical sets, Musee Du Bonbon doesn’t phone it home. Read on to see my playful photoshoot with the various set pieces, wearing several different outfits. (This Valfre Jolie dress is from Forest Ink.)

charli cohen technical apparel high end activewear

This diamond room was the perfect spot to showcase Charli Cohen. All her garments are beautifully tailored with high-end technical fabrics.

Charli’s designs brilliantly express her passion for futuristic technology, luxury couture, streetwear, and sportswear. I’m 100% behind her evolved approach to fashion, which insists on sustainable materials and production.

charli cohen technical apparel

I’m going to be wrapping myself up in her Trojan Bomber all spring. This burgundy cropped jacket is made with the softest technical silk, which is breathable and has Thinsulate climate-control insulation. How adorable is the cropped coat design, with a cinched elastic waist, and zip pockets?

alex streeter egyptian jewelry egypt earrings ring

I paired my look with Alex Streeter silver jewelry. The Marquise Scorpion ring and Sphinx earrings arrived in time for my trip to Egypt. (The scorpion was a powerful symbol of protection, hailed by the ancient Egyptians).

The Radiator Cuff is a space-inspired bracelet by the “New York Goth-father” silversmith.

chari cohen activewear fitness clothing

Details of my Charli Cohen Cipher skirt. Love the versatile style, with side slits to show a bit of leg, and pockets down the front. I’m excited to wear this piece on my travels, as it can be styled in a variety of ways and for different occasions. (I’ll take it from the temple of Luxor to the nightclubs of Beirut…)

I matched this outfit with strappy red-heeled shoes by Le Babe.

alex streeter scorpion ring sphinx silver earrings

Another close-up of my Alex Streeter jewelry. I’m wearing these Silver-Plate Sphinx Earrings, which are intricately acid-edged. My Alex Streeter ring features a black Marquise-cut stone, held by two mirrored scorpions.

Ancient Egypt is one of Alex’s influences, and I’m honored to wear his designs soon at the Great Pyramids of Giza!

charli cohen british designer designer fitness apparel

Charli Cohen’s red Athena multi crop lives up to its name: it can be worn as a sports bra, edgy top, swimwear, you name it. I’m all about the cut-out back and apocalyptic paneling. It’s easy to put on, with a clasp at the top of the neck.

As always, Charli uses sustainable materials that are excellent at wicking away sweat, and moving with the body. (The red fabric is a technical polyamide made with recycled econyl fibers.)

pile of hermes orange boxes musee du bonbon

I had fun posing with the various backdrops and props that Musee du Bonbon makes available for their guests. It’s remarkable how the “empty” sets pop once you see them in photos.

charli cohen couture sportswear trackpants

You can tell I’m a fan of Charli’s zip trackpant. The wide leg and elastic waist are made for dancing, and the vertical white striping makes it stand out. She adds two handy front pockets to the pants, which are made with technical scuba.

I’m blown away by Charli Cohen’s luxury fitnesswear. Her alternative designs are unlike anything you’ll find in stores, and they function at the highest performance level.

You can find out more on her website and @charlicohen Instagram (she makes clothing for both men and women, and ships worldwide).  I hope I’ll soon get a chance to see one of her London Fashion Week shows. Until then, I’ll be “kicking it” in her apparel on my upcoming travels!

instagrammable photo studio vancouver bc

The Musee du Bonbon had a highly Instagrammable rainbow room, featuring a confetti paper pool and large neon arc-en-ciel light.

The colorful scene called for a monochrome look, so I wore my Cryptic Apparel Secret Society sweatshirt with a hood.

egypt nails, egyptian symbols nail art hieroglyphs

In anticipation of my Egypt journey… Glam Nail Studio dolled up my nails in glittering gold and blue – the colors of King Tut! This Japanese nail salon is based in Richmond (Vancouver-area), British Columbia, and they deservedly win top awards for their nail art prowess.

My nail artist drew these designs by freehand, using a tiny brush… look at the lines on Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus! We based the artwork on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Can you spot Horus, Osiris, Bastet, a scarab, and an ankh?

richmond musee bonbon photo sets studio instagrammers

Hanging out in a neon-lit rainbow swimming pool… just a typical day.

I’m wearing Jungle petrol patent boots by Underground Shoes, a subculture and music inspired footwear brand from the UK. Shop their footwear below:

miffy nail art, 3d nails acrylic cute rabbit

Here’s another example of the jaw-dropping nail art you can get at Glam Nail Studio. (These aren’t my hands, but as a Miffy fanatic, I wish they were!) Check out more Japanese kawaii nail art inspiration on @GlamNailStudio Instagram. 

neon rainbow lights, cryptic apparel sweatshirt

Ready to meet the Sphinx, in my Cryptic Apparel hoodie featuring a pyramid and Egyptian symbols. Love how their designs blend Gothic, street, urban, and ancient history.

sabrina spellman cosplay costume chilling adventures

Now, for an even darker look…

Have you heard of “rage rooms” or “anger rooms”? The concept began in Japan: people pay to release their stress by destroying objects in a safe environment!

Smash Therapy (situated right next to Musee du Bonbon) is Vancouver’s first anger room. You gear up in protective clothing that makes you look like a survivor of the zombie apocalypse. Then, you pick up a baseball bat or other weapon, and smash objects in the room to your heart’s delight!

smash therapy rage room richmond vancouver bc

I’m not actually smashing anything here — just posing with a heavy metal hook, which can really do damage to someone!

Fittingly, I’m wearing a witchy Goth dress from Forest Ink (it’s by French label Valfre). Forest Ink is an online shop “created for peculiar girls who don’t mind standing out.” (Sounds like anyone you know?) They have the most delectable range of Gothic / cute / grunge clothing, pins, and patches — sourced from indie brands and artists worldwide.

alex streeter devil pentagram bag

Love how the Smash Therapy room has a pentacle on the wall, drawn in what appears to be blood. It matches nicely with my devilish Alex Streeter “Gothfather” bag. (Hail!)

forest ink goth fashion, valfre jolie dress

I paired the dress with Charli Cohen’s Helix leggings, which have a sleek fit and laser cut detailing down the sides. (I’ll show you more details soon.)

My Valfre Jolie black and white dress from Forest Ink reminds me of the Weird Sisters in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This elegant, high-collared dress comes with a black ribbon that can be tied in a variety of ways around the neck.

bloody red pentagram on wall

I added a hair ribbon to channel Sabrina Spellman’s headband. (Anyone else into the show about the teenage witch? You may recall I went to Spellman House, an event celebrating the Netflix release, around Halloween.)

rage rooms, smash rooms vancouver

Next time I need to let off some steam, I’ll be heading back to Smash Therapy to destroy everything in sight! (Visitors can bring their own items to bash, or purchase packages of items like old computers and vases.)

forest ink blue corduroy skirt

It’s fun how I can play up different sides of myself, in Musee du Bonbon’s various photo rooms.

This “Parisian cafe” staged set is getting me in the mood for France. I’m wearing a versatile light blue corduroy skirt, also by Forest Ink.

valfre not yours ballerina wrap top

Forest Ink also sent me this delicious Valfre ballerina wrap top, which has ribbon ties that you can loop around your waist. Note the white swan logo on it, and the cheeky words “Not Yours”!

My gold minimalist barrette is by Sylvain Le Hen.

valfre shirt, forest ink gothic grunge clothing

Here’s the look from head to toe. My light-up backpack is by Cyberdog: the flashing colors mimic the backdrop.

instagram selfie museums vancouver canada

Vaporwave aesthetic, anyone? Lounging with hot pink palm leaves and a chessboard floor. (My boots are by Underground Shoes, see more below.)

musee du bonbon, instagram backdrops walls

It was a joy to get creative and play with photography at Musee du Bonbon. The special photo/art exhibit is open in Vancouver only until March 31, so get a ticket and take pictures before it’s gone.

ancient egyptian nail art, gold blue egyptian ankh gel nails

A last look at my scintillating Egyptian nail art bestowed by Glam Nails.

Head’s up — it’s going to be quiet on the blog for the next while, as I’ll be off on adventures in Egypt, Beirut, and Paris!  However, I’ll be updating daily on Instagram: add me @lacarmina.

girl large rainbow neon wall light

See you over the rainbow… in the land of the Nefertiti, Osiris and the Sphinx!

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Visiting Bangkok’s lesser-known temples with Tours By Locals! Wat Ratcha-Orasaram & Kalayanamit Thailand.

travel bloggers gold buddha statue bangkok

Let’s start this Thailand temple diary in a fitting way… with an Italo Disco song!

“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free,
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she.
I can feel an angel sliding up to me!”

Wat Arun Ratchawararam

I think you can tell we had a fun time exploring Bangkok temples, with Tours By Locals! Our insider guide took us on a fully customized journey that included the demon protectors of Wat Arun…

bangkok emerald buddha temple gate gods

… and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. (How do you like my “sun protection schoolgirl” outfit of the day?)

tours by locals bangkok thailand tour

I can’t stand basic, big group tours — which is why I teamed up instead with Tours By Locals. They link travellers with passionate local guides, and create a custom itinerary off the beaten track. 

My friends and I were keen to see Thai Buddhist art and spirituality, without crowds elbowing us. Our guide Kay listened to our preferences, and delivered by taking us to obscure temples (like Wat Kalayanamit) that were literally empty of tourists. 

learning thai cartoon bangkok

As you’ll see, the day tour was a joy, and left us buzzing with knowledge and inspiration. Kay picked us up and gave us an overview of Thai Buddhist culture, along with a primer on helpful phrases. Becky Hawkins made this terrific reaction drawing of her and her “shoulder angel”! 

thai protector lion gods statues

I have been to Thailand twice before, but it’s always a joy to return (and this was the first visit for Yukiro, Naomi, and Becky). Even though Bangkok is now an extremely popular destination, you can still enjoy the warm, welcoming Buddhist culture. 

row gold buddha statues thailand

So many temples, so little time… There are over 400 “wats” in Bangkok alone. The most famous ones (Wat Pra Kaew, Wat Arun, Wat Pho) are certainly worth seeing if you’re here for the first time. Kay made sure we got to peek around Wat Arun, but focused most of our tour on temples where tourists rarely tread. 

thai gold buddha statue

A reflective moment in front of the Golden Buddha statue at Wat Arun Ratchawararam. Also known as the Temple of Dawn, it dates back to the 17th century, and is known for its glowing exterior at sunrise. (More photos at the end of this post.)

Wat Phra Kaew statue gate

We also said hello to the giant demon yaksha, guarding the Grand Palace at Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Don’t avoid these sacred sites, simply because they’re popular — they’re among the most impressive ones in Thailand. 

chinese thai buddhist temple bangkok

We struck a balance by visiting those two landmarks quickly, and then took our time to wander around two little-known temples on the outskirts of Bangkok.

(I’m wearing a Boy UV umbrella, Mary Wyatt London shirt, Lola Ramona heart bag, and Japanese plaid skirt similar to the ones below.)

bangkok obscure buddhist temple

We’re at Wat Ratcha-Orasaram, a royal monastery built in the Ayutthaya period. The prince was influenced by both Thai and Chinese art, hence the unusual temple colors and carvings. 

Wat Kanlayanamit bangkok

Can you spot Yukiro beneath the colored eaves and white pillars? You can see I’m not exaggerating when I said there was nobody else around during our visit. In bustling Bangkok, it was a joy to take our time to meander through this peaceful monastery. 

temple hopping bangkok sketch

We said hello to the resident golden Buddha icon. Becky Hawkins made this drawing that gives you a sense of the ornate detail of the altar. In this unhurried atmosphere, she and Naomi could take all the time they wanted to draw their surroundings. 

thailand devil demon sculpture

Yukiro and I mosied around and took photos of the fascinating details. Of course we were drawn to the metallic demon on this red door, with a fierce grimace and horns. 

thai buddha gold seated statue

Love the elegant features of the Buddha, sitting in the lotus position. The chandeliers, candles and surrounding murals add to the radiant feeling of the room. 

white buddhist stupas bangkok

As a fan of minimalist design, these white stupas spoke to me. (They house the remains of Buddhist monks and nuns, or sacred relics.)

bangkok monastery sketch drawing

Naomi Rubin sketched the residence of the monks. It was surrounded by shrubbery that looked like it had been pruned by Edward Scissorhands! She has been posting these travel drawings as part of her web comic Moonsprout Station; you can read the Thailand dispatches here.

gold buddha fan in front face

We were glad to have our Tours by Locals guide Kay with us, as he introduced us to these secret spots and answered all our questions. Whats’s the deal with the fan in front of the Buddha’s face? Is he being coy? Kay explained this traditional fan with a long handle was made of talipot palm leaves, and used to cover the face while chanting.

bangkok buddhist temple big bell

We dared not disturb the Buddha’s repose by ringing the giant bell.

Wat Ratcha-Orasaram bangkok

There was so much to see at Wat Ratcha-Orasaram, including sculptures of all sizes dedicated to the Buddha.

gold reclining buddha

In the Ordination Hall, we came across this giant gold reclining Buddha. Love the chill expression in his eyes. 

travel sketches art thailand

Becky Hawkins captured Kay in action. We couldn’t have seen all these temples and learned so much without his guidance. 

big gold feet buddha

Close-up on the Buddha’s extra large feet, with toes all lined up. 

sleeping side buddha statue bangkok

Looks like Yukiro wants to join Siddhartha in hanging out!

thai buddhist monk Wat Ratcha-Orasaram

We saw a few monks walking through the courtyards, wearing their signature vermilion robes over one shoulder.

thai traveling drawings

Becky Hawkins sketched these scenes from daily life in a Thai Buddhist monastery. 

thai protector statues door

Yukiro and I got some posing inspiration from these green yakshas.

gold leaf ancient buddha

Seeing art and architecture like this, firsthand… this is why we live to travel.

female travel bloggers thailand meditation

“When the mind is silent like a lake, the lotus blossoms.” – The Lotus Sutra

tours by locals guide thailand

Kay then took us to Wat Kalayanamit Varamahavihara — the name means “friendship.” Founded in 1825, this is one of the most tranquil temples in the city. (Once again, you can see there’s nobody around us!)

buddhist architecture bangkok

From the trees to the rooftop carvings, everything is richly yet subtly decorated. 

gold meditating thai buddha

Many Buddhists come to a Wat Kalayanamitr for New Years blessings. The gold Buddha statue has a slim frame and long earlobes, and is the only Thai temple to feature him in Palilai posture. 

red circular chinese temple door

Such fun to visit the “friendship” temple with friends I’ve known through thick and thin, for over 10 years now!

rare buddhist temmples thailand

The gold, red, and green details make the white structures stand out.

thai monastery monks

This wat is also a monk’s residence. If you come across any visitors here, they’ll be locals performing spiritual rituals. 

thailand travel blogging

When visiting Thai temples, you should cover your shoulders and knees. I’m wearing a short tartan skirt like the ones below (click to see).

buddhist temple carvings

Grateful to Tours By Locals for letting us see this special side of Bangkok. We would never have heard of these monasteries if it weren’t for Kay.

wat arun temple

We’ll finish off at Wat Arun. Kay took us here in the early morning so that we could avoid the hoards of visitors. We were transfixed by this towering prang, or Khmer-style tower, studded with porcelain carvings. 

wrong use buddha symbols tattoo

There were quite a few signs and billboards around Bangkok with this message: don’t use the image of the Buddha in tattoos, bar decor, and other ways they consider disrespectful.

Wat Arun Ratchawararam

This huge central prang is covered in stucco figures from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The various levels symbolize the realms of existence.

bangkok temple of dawn carvings

These “Khon” figures have a heavy load on their shoulders, wouldn’t you say?

bangkok Wat Chaeng painting

Naomi Rubin made this gorgeous watercolor of the mythical demons, with arms and a foot raised. (In the next Bangkok posts, you’ll see more of her works. She and Becky added a new dimension to these travel stories through their art.)

wat arun temple tour guide

“Khob kun” to Kay for teaching us how to say thank you in Thai (and for taking us around on this fabulous day-tour.)

rainbow art bangkok thailand

Close-up on the artistic details at Wat Arun. Some of the 3D elements are seashells. 

wat arun art carvings

Ready for another Italo Disco refrain? 

“One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me.”

white buddhist goddesses thailand

Elegant goddesses peered out from these arches. 

Demon Guardian statues holding wat arun

Work that asana (pose)! 

lola ramona heart purse bag stripes

Also known as Wat Chaeng, this temple is dedicated to Aruna (Hindu God of Dawn). Located by the river, these spires sparkle at sunrise and sunset. 

wat arun temple drawing ink

Becky’s take on the grand pagoda. Love how she captured the horse sculpture detail.

If you’re heading to Bangkok (or any major destination), give Tours By Locals a look. As you can see from our temple hop, they help you get the most out of your destination — with entirely bespoke private tours led by a fantastic guide. 

I teamed up with Tours by Locals in Luang Prabang, Laos as well: check out this travel diary of our waterfall trek. 

cross legged seated buddha

I hope you enjoyed our Bangkok travel photos and art so far, and there’s more to come. Leaving you with love and the Diamond Sutra:

Thus shall you think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

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