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Traveling to Egypt, Beirut & Paris! Travel Talk Tours: Cairo, Aswan, Luxor tour. Cryptic Apparel streetwear.

egypt goth cleopatra fashion

Lately, I’ve been sending out Cleopatra Goth vibes… because I’m about to embark on a dream journey. The cat’s now out of the bag: I’m going to the land of animal-headed gods and cunning queens!

Hail Bastet… in collaboration with Travel Talk Tours, Yukiro and I are heading to Egypt! 

(How excited are you to see us rocking Egyptian undead fashion, next to the Pyramids of Giza? Here’s a hint: I’ll be packing this crop top by Cryptic Apparel, which has a winged goddess design and hieroglyphics down the arm! The headbands are Sylvain Le Hen.)

sphinx tomb statue new orleans

Yukiro and I were invited to join Travel Talk Tours’ Felucca Odyssey and Red Sea journey, a 12-day trip that will take us to Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Dahab, and more major sites. We’ll be in a group tour with fellow young travelers (generally age 18 to 30s), which will be a fun and safe way to see Egypt.

(Above is as photo from the time I visited Metairie Cemetery  in New Orleans. Can’t wait to see the real Sphinx this month.)

cryptic apparel street fashion crop top hoodie

As someone who’s long been fascinated by ancient Egyptian culture, I’m excited see the country with an expert guide. Booking with Travel Talk Tours means that we don’t have to stress over anything, as they’ll be driving us throughout the country, and arranging our hotels (we’ll be in 4-5 star places). We’ll also get to take part in activities like a dinner cruise on the Nile, and a camel trek in the desert. (You can peek at our itinerary here.)

If you’re keen to see our adventures from Egypt, add me on Instagram @lacarmina — I’ll be posting daily snaps!

disturbia goth bomber jacket

But wait… there’s more! Before flying to Cairo, I’ll be swinging by Paris for a few days, with the assistance of Paris Tourism and Paris Perfect Apartments. (It’s been ages since I stepped foot in France. What shall I wear to Pere Lachaise cemetery and the catacombs? Maybe something like the above?)

Yukiro and I are also spending a few days in Beirut, Lebanon! I’ve long wanted to visit this stylish city with a fab nightlife — can’t wait to share what we discover with you.

irregular choice satine boots

I couldn’t wait until Egypt to rock my streetwear from Cryptic Apparel, so I did a photoshoot with Jim Ollett, assisted by Joey Wong.

Since some associate the ancient Egyptians with aliens… I paired Cryptic’s jackal beanie and goddess cropped hoodie with Irregular Choice’s Satine space boots!

irregular choice space pink boots

Irregular Choice is infamous for releasing glam glitter fabulous footwear. Their latest collection is inspired by outerspace. How amazing are these thigh-high boots, with stars and planets on sparkly pink fabric?

Click the images below for more decadent Irregular Choice shoes:

cryptic apparel egypt hats hoodies

Cryptic Apparel is a Chicago-based streetwear brand that “merges the mysteries of ancient culture with modern style.” Many of their designs are dark and with an occult bent, or Egyptian influence — like this Goddess Crop Top Hoodie.

irregular choice carousel boots shoes

Details of the shimmery lining, carousel soles, and glittery heels of my Irregular Choice Satine boots (they come in pink and dark grey versions). Aren’t they out of this world?

thigh high pink space glam shoes boots

Barbarella, queen of the Galaxy… meets 1980s Egyptian Goth. Think Siouxsie Sioux and Death from the Sandman comics.

egyptian goth ankh symbols clothes

Love how Cryptic Apparel combines alternative street fashion with the symbols of ancient Egypt. These visuals are directly inspired by the art found in the tombs of queens and pharaohs.

egypt gothic streetwear cairo fashion blogger

My space age boots have a zipper down the back, and rise up over the knee. The crescent moons, starbursts and Saturns are embroidered onto the fabric. Even the high heel has a stardust effect.

irregular choice unicorn stars space moon boots

Irregular Choice lets you “be the ultimate space age queen of the universe, in these astronomically superb over the knee boots.”

pin up cropped bat sweater

Here’s another look, this time with a pin-up vibe. I’m wearing a cropped bat sweater by Jawbreaker Clothing, and 3/4 style Oroblu designer stockings from UK Tights.

jawbreaker clothing bats sweater top

Release the bats! The spooky neon green creatures stand out from the black knit fabric.

goth winter sweaters knits pinup rockabilly

I’ve been a fan of Jawbreaker Clothing for some time now. They produce alt clothing inspired by 1990s grunge, Goth, and Victorian aesthetics.

long dark purple blue hair asian

Call me Batgirl… Hair color and cut by Chad Mitchell Evans at Kore Salon in Vancouver, Canada. (You can book him through the link in his Instagram.)

pinup gothic punk horror fashion outfit

I wore the sweater with a black suede skirt with a slit, which I had since the early 2000s. I’ve been wearing skeleton hand barrettes like this since that same era.

jeffrey campbell fog rain boots shoes

As for the platform shoes, they’re Jeffrey Campbell boots. See more from this footwear designer below:

gothic jeffrey campbell black platform boots heels

These Jeffrey Campbell Fog boots are remarkably easy to walk in, and waterproof as well. They came with black laces, but I replaced them with rainbow ones from Japan.

jawbreaker Bella Green Bat Crop Sweatshirt

Jim Ollett took these photos in a random Vancouver alleyway, with creative direction and assistance from Joey Wong.

silver puffer jacket space coats

We snapped one last look with my red floppy hat from Tenth Street Hats, a silver space jacket I got in Romania, and Moschino leather gloves. Which of these three looks do you like best?

alien escape room locked canada

Speaking of aliens… we ventured to Locked Canada for their Abduction escape game. (Bodysuit from UK Tights.)

vancouver locked escape game abduction

I’ve gotten into escape rooms over the past years, and Locked Vancouver’s games are among the best I’ve experienced. As you can see, they put enormous attention into the details, immersing you in the world of extraterrestrials, zombies, serial killers, and more.

aliens escape rooms decor ufo

Take me to your leader… Pikachu?

miffy white xl lamp bunny lamps

Negative. We all know that the leader of the Illuminati is Miffy! :x

My silver boots are also Irregular Choice, and the red faux leather leggings are UK Tights.

oliver goldsmith 1970s sunglasses decades live

I leave you with a final Egyptian fashion preview. I’ll be living in these Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses: they’re the 1970s Rose Gold. The British designer’s OG Decades Live collection includes frames from every iconic decade of the 20th century. Of course I chose the ones from the days of disco!

Can you spot the gold ankh pull-through earring? It’s Wendy Nichol Jewelry, and the Domination top is Mary Wyatt London. (I could see Hatshepsut and Nefertiti rocking that.) My gold barrette is this one by Sylvain Le Hen. More below:

oliver goldsmith 70s 1970 sun glasses eyewear

I’m all about minimalist design these days, and Oliver Goldsmith is a master craftsman. These Seventies sunglasses are constructed with lightweight stainless steel, and have large gradient lenses for a decadent look.

(For more eyewear from Oliver Goldsmith, click below.)

new orleans pyramid graveyard

And that’s it for now. See you in Cairo: I owe the real Sphinx a kiss!

Feel free to add me on Instagram @lacarmina — I’ll be posting live updates from Paris, Beirut, and Egypt.

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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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