Category Archive for Fashion

Goths in Egypt! Visiting Abu Simbel in Aswan, relocated temples of Ramses II. Philae Temple tour.

ramses ii statues abu simbel girl traveler

I heart Egypt!

No Photoshop here… I still can’t believe that I got to see ancient marvels like these all throughout the country.

My 12-day journey with Travel Talk Tours included two ancient temples that were — believe it or not — relocated during the Aswan Dam construction. Let’s wander inside the magnificent Abu Simbel (honoring Pharoah Ramses II), and late period Philae Temple. 

Outfit details: Hope heart bag by Lola Ramona, sunhat by Tenth Street Hats, and dress by Jawbreaker Clothing.

Temple of Hathor goddess abu simbel

Our Travel Talk Tours group tour provided plenty of optional excursions. In Aswan, everyone had the opportunity to add on a morning trip to Abu Simbel. Yukiro and I jumped at this opportunity — it was worth leaving at 3:30am to arrive at Abu Simbel before other tourists.

Although we were sleepy on the ride over, we woke up as soon as we glimpsed this ancient Egyptian monument, carved into the side of a mountain. The immensity of the statues made our jaws drop. (For once, Yukiro is not the tallest person in the photos!)

ramesses ii giant statues

Abu Simbel is located southwest of Aswan, close to the border with Sudan.  The main temple is decorated with four gargantuan statues of Ramses II, the most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom.

Temple of queen Nefertari egypt

The iconic ruler built several grand temples in Upper Egypt (as the southern region leading to Nubia was known). Ramses II wanted to demonstrate his power in this region, since the Egyptians were continuing to expand into Nubia at the time.

Next to his temple, there’s a smaller but equally impressive Temple of Hathor (above) — dedicated to his queen Nefertari.

abu simbel temples carvings statues

Our Travel Talk Tours guide shared the story of how these ancient ruins were discovered. After the fall of Egyptian civilization, the entire complex became buried under sand.

However, in the early 1800s, an Egyptian boy named Abu Simbel stumbled upon one of the statues sticking out of the sand. He led European scholars to the site, and they began to excavate the “lost world.”

travel talk tours aswan abu simbel

Yukiro jumps for joy in front of the Great Temple of Ramesses II. In the 13th century BCE, the two structures were carved out of the mountainside, in an amazing feat of engineering and architecture.

ramses ii temple moved abu simbel

The four kingly statues once overlooked the River Nile. In the 1960s, Abu Simbel was at risk of being submerged during the building of the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser.

abu simbel carved mountain temple archaeology

As a result, archaeologists relocated the entire complex to higher ground! From 1964-68, the structure was carefully dismantled, moved, and reassembled nearby.

ankh key door gothic egypt

Appropriately, the key to the temple door is a giant gold ankh! This Egyptian symbol represents the key of life, making it a dramatic entrance to Abu Simbel. (My nails are by Glam Nail Studio in Vancouver.)

egyptiah goth fashion ankh

It doesn’t get more Goth than this. I’m standing next to a typical “walk like an Egyptian” carving from this period, featuring a profile pose, bent arms, and stiff triangular skirt.

weird carvings inside abu simbel

Yukiro and I first went inside the temple for Nefertari, the chief consort of Ramses II. It also honors Hathor, the Egyptian cow-goddess of joy, music, and motherhood. 

egyptian pillars columns ramses

The pillars featured carvings of ladies in kohl eyeliner and curled hair. This is the second Egyptian temple ever dedicated to a queen (the first, established by Akhenaten, honored his wife Nefertiti).

Seth and Horus crowning Ramses II abu simbel

What’s the deal with the “bowling pin hat”?

This unique royal headgear combines the white hedjet crown of Lower Egypt with the red deshret crown of Upper Egypt — symbolizing the pharoah’s rule over the entire country. The bas-relief shows Seth and Horus (the falcon-headed god) crowning Ramses the Second.

egyptian royal queen carvings art

The ancient Egyptians were certainly creative with their headpieces. These “bowling pins” and “bunny ears” had symbolic meanings and were associated with different deities.

For example, the central figure is Hathor. She’s depicted with cow horns and a sun in between, representing her bovine and solar powers.

ancient egypt art abu simbel tomb

The temples are surprisingly large. You can enter various chambers and tunnels filled with carvings (which made me feel like Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.)

bas relief wall carvings abu simbel

It’s remarkable how well the friezes inside the Great Temples have endured over the millennia.

interior inside abu simbel ankh goddess

We loved seeing depictions of queens and goddesses. Here is Nefertari, wearing a plumed or double-feather headdress with a solar disk. She’s flanked by Hathor and Mut, the wife of Amon-Ra.

four pharoah statues ancient egypt

A pyramid pose for Abu Simbel, which is a UNESCO heritage site and as impressive as the Pyramids of Giza.

best photography spots abu simbel aswan

How many head decorations can you count? Ramses II wears the double-crown or pschent, as well as the nemes (a striped headcloth, such as the one worn by King Tut). A uraeus, or coiled serpent, emerges from his forehead to symbolize sovereignty.

Then there’s me, in Tenth Street Hats.

huge standing statues egypt

The Temple of Hathor and Nefertari stands out, as the king and his consort are of equal size. (Usually, the wife is depicted smaller.)

relocated temples abu simbel

Fun fact: Ramses II spawned around 100 children. You can see carvings that represent his other wives and children beneath his seated figures.

nefertari temple ancient egypt

As always, our Travel Talk Tours leader struck a balance in sharing information, and then letting us explore on our own time.

bearded queen egyptian

Time to go inside Ramesses II’s temple. It opens into a huge hypostyle hall with eight pillars; they depict the pharoah as Osiris, the god of the Underworld.

horus carvings egypt

In contrast to the queen’s temple, there are many action-packed military carvings here. Ramses II commissioned art to commemorate his victory over the Hittites, in the Battle of Kadesh.

spooky goth ankhs occult

We Goths appreciated the proliferation of ankhs. (This favored symbol represents both mortal existence and the afterlife.)

egyptians eating ankhs

“Eat the ankh… eat it!”

We were amused to see Egyptian deities placing an ankh against the lips of devotees. This revitalizes the soul and brings them into the afterlife.

haunted egyptian temple inner shrine abu simbel

Deep inside the main temple, you’ll encounter this spooky sight (no wonder the ancient Egyptians are associated with curses and the occult!) This sanctuary houses four seated divinities: Horakhty, a deified Ramses, Amun-Ra, and Ptah.

temple hathor egypt paintings

Many of the paintings still retain their pigment. The delicate skill of these ancient artists is astonishing.

 Rameses II carvings abu simbel fighting Battle of Kadesh

The story of Ramses II’s military victories cover several walls. These bas-reliefs show the Battle of Kadesh, which is probably the largest chariot battle ever fought, with up to 6000 vehicles.

anubis jackal headed god afterlife mummies

Hail Anubis, the jackal-headed god of mummification and the afterlife. The man without a face probably had his head scratched off by the Christians in a later era…

travel talk tours blogger reviews

Hard to believe the majestic Abu Simbel was almost lost to the sands of time. More mysteries of ancient Egypt are revealed every year… I wonder what we might learn next about this fascinating civilization.

Bag Lola Ramona, sunhat Tenth Street Hats, dress Jawbreaker Clothing.

boat to philae temple egypt

Later that afternoon, Travel Talk Tours took the entire group to Philae Temple (this was one action-packed tour!). We boarded a boat and sailed to Agilkia Island, where Philae now rests. (It also was dismantled and moved here, during the Aswan Low Dam construction).

philae temple goddess isis aswan

Philae Temple is dedicated to Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. The important goddess helped children and those who were ill, and celebrated life and magic.

philae temple pylon entryway entrance

Philae Temple was built during the rule of the Greek Ptolemies (around 380–362 BCE). This was the final Egyptian dynasty, which ended with the death of Queen Cleopatra VII. 

Isis’ temple features a grand pylon entrance carved with deities. Philae was probably the last active site of the ancient Egyptian religion, which disappeared after the end of the Ptolemy era.

egyptian roman pillars aswan

As Philae was built in Hellenistic times, you can see the Greco-Roman influence in the architecture. I’m standing in the gateway of Trajan’s Kiosk, a hypaethral (open-roof) temple made by the Roman Emperor, Trajan.

philae temple isis worship egypt

Such a fascinating combination of Greco-Roman and New Kingdom Egyptian art. The ladies look a bit like the ones in Nefertari’s temple, but this one is sticking her tongue out!

temple of philae pillars complex

Some parts of Philae Temple look straight out of Greece or Rome, such as this long flank of fluted columns.

 Temple to Isis, Horus and Osiris on Philae Island

Inside Philae Temple, you’ll encounter a hypostyle hall, and chambers dedicated to other deities like Hathor.

late kingdom egypt carvings

As you can see, Egyptian art looks different in this late era of the civilization. The headdresses, poses, and hieroglyphics are similar to what you’ll see in Abu Simbel and Karnak

Sekhmet lion head goddess egypt

… however, the bodies are more voluptuous, and the carving style is dissimilar (look at the hair and finger detail for example). Here’s a close-up of Sekhmet, the lion head goddess, holding an ankh.

osiris winged god carving philae

This beautiful relief shows goddess Isis protecting her husband Osiris with outspread wings. A pharaoh (identifiable by his bowling pin crown) offers a libation to the gods.

temple of philae outside exterior

We learned so much about Egypt’s history throughout the tour. Not everyone knows that the final rulers descended from Ptolemy (including the famed Cleopatra) were ethnically Greek. They built temples like this to placate the Egyptian population, and legitimize their rule.

aswan dam temples moved reconstructed

After Cleopatra and Mark Antony died, Egypt became a Roman province ruled under Octavian. Egypt would no longer be ruled by its own people until the 20th century.

guided private tours egypt aswan

Egypt is everything I look for in a destination. Yukiro and I were glad we got to travel safely and see so much of the country, thanks to Travel Talk Tours.

Where am I off to next? Announcement to come soon, so stay tuned and check out my Instagram @lacarmina for regular updates!


Bangkok Goth & kawaii fashion shops! Morph8ne clothing, drag queen mall, Thailand gay club Maggie Choo’s.

morph8ne clothing bangkok thailand fashion

Don’t be Cross with me… or you might get a stake through the heart!

It’s been a busy few months, and I’ve fallen behind on recapping my Asia travels. As I pray for your forgiveness, I’ll continue with our adventures in Thailand. 

morph8ne goth grunge street fashion label

If you’re looking for Gothic, alternative and experimental fashion in Bangkok, then this post has everything you’ll need. We’ll sashay into a drag queen mall, and work the stage at LGBT club Maggie Choo’s (with RuPaul’s Drag Race Thailand host, Pangina Heals!) 

goth bangkok thailand shop

While in Bangkok, I was delighted to connect with the team at Morph8ne Clothing. They are one of my favorite independent designers (from these spooky elegant photos, you can easily tell why).  

gothic stores shopping bangkok thailand

For a long time, I’ve been online friends with the Morph8ne girls, and loved wearing their clothing around the world. It was a devilish treat to finally met them in Bangkok, Thailand where they are based!

modeling gothic clothing thailand

They kindly invited Yukiro and me to visit their fashion studio (access is by private appointment only), and model their latest designs. 

morph8ne clothing designers

The all-women team is so sweet, and their personal style epitomized the brand. The founder (second from right) is named Morphine, hence the name of the label. The ladies work together on the design and production.

occult witch bangkok thailand

Morph8ne’s design studio is decorated with elegant Gothic flourishes. The walls are adorned with antique portraits, crosses, and haunting artwork. 

outcast street style store bangkok

This rack showed their latest collection at the time: we couldn’t get enough of the purple garments! Morph8ne uniquely combines influences from Japanese Gothic Lolita, grunge, 90s, and pastel Goth — a delectable witches’ brew. 

thailand spooky haunted gothic

I loved seeing Morphine’s creative process at her studio, including mood boards for upcoming wardrobes (which I can’t show you!) Their dark dolly clothing is always made ethically, and in small batches. 

You can browse and purchase designs through Morph8ne’s website — they ship worldwide. They’re also stocked by some Asia boutiques, like Never Mind the Xu in Tokyo, and Outcast street style store in Bangkok.

goth shops stores bangkok

This studio is not open to the public, so I’m grateful that the Morph8ne girls let us take a look behind the scenes. We were captivated by Morphine’s collection of horror oddities, displayed in a glass case at the entrance.

gollum toy collection figurines

Living Dead dolls, skulls, crucifixes… and Gollum.

antique book purse spell book bag

How lovely is this purple-edged Spell Book purse, featuring their heart and cross logo? 

morph8ne goth grunge dress

Next, we got to play dress-up and take photos. I’m wearing a Bad Mood dress, featuring red ribbon tie straps and the adorably emo heart character. 

purple faux fur jacket pants

Yukiro went for an ultraviolet look. Morph8ne uses textures fabulously, from faux fur to sheer panels and accent patches. 

giant cross crucifix vampire goth girl

Cheeky ruffled heart patches on the back of my red Madly miniskirt… they double as pockets.

morph8ne heart pants bad mood

Bringing on the darkness, with a crop top (check out the trailing ribbon sleeve detailing) and one-of-a-kind heart cut out pants. 

morphine stores studio thailand goth

If you like what you see, you can find these Gothic-girly fashions on Morph8ne’s web store. The prices are incredibly reasonable for the high quality and originality of the pieces, and we encourage you to support these lovely ladies. 

bangkok thailand goths alternative punk

To quote their latest collection: “Sisterhood is forever whether you like it or not.” 

Thank you Morph8ne for opening your dark hearts to us! 

maggie choo's gay nightclub bangkok

We encountered more fab fashion… at the most decadent gay and drag club in Bangkok, Maggie Choo’s. When you step in, you’ll be greeted by muscled, shirtless men in turbans swinging from the rafters. 

The nightclub looks like an opium den with 19th century style lamps, velvet curtains, and Grecian marble bust statues. The venue holds a variety of live performances and dance parties. However, we came for Maggie Choo’s famous Sunday night drag queen party. 

pangina heals, thailand rupaul drag race host

Every Sunday, you can see the best Thai drag queens strut the stage, and entertain the crowd with sassy banter. The drag show is hosted in both English and Thai by the vivacious Pangina Heals, the host of “RuPaul’s Drag Race Thailand” TV show. 

drag performers ladyboys bangkok

Thailand is known for its next-level drag queens — and at Maggie Choo’s, the performers truly brought it. The fashion and lip-synching were top class; Yukiro was surprised when this Gothic queen performed an obscure track, Malena Ernman’s Tragedy song. which he also uses in his shows. 

“Here comes the tragedy, The sound of agony, The tears you love to cry, The pain that wants no remedy…”

thailand drag queen shows performances

We’ll never forget this rousing rendition of Sia’s “Titanium.” This queen wrapped herself in a plastic tube, which protected her from objects that others threw at her… talk about symbolism at its funniest!

pangina heals thai drag queen, maggie choo's club

Pangina Heals performed with powerful energy and charm, demonstrating why she’s the host of the Thailand RuPaul’s Drag Race TV show. Between sets, she entertains the crowd with banter. If you can name the disco tune that the DJ plays, Pangina will invite you onstage to do a shot with her.

On a Sunday night, Maggie Choo’s is the LGBT club to be in Bangkok.  

lgbt clubs bangkok thailand

Where do Bangkok’s showgirls and drag performers get their wild wardrobes? The secret spot is Watergate Mall, which looks like a small and unimpressive shopping center. 

watergate mall bangkok thailand

However, when you walk inside, you’ll be bombarded by feathers and glitter! Nicknamed the “drag mall,” Watergate Bangkok has several floors of small shops, filled with flamboyant creations by locals.

drag queen dresses bangkok
Be sure to visit Hutcha, a talented Bangkok designer. Admire his mannequins, who are dressed in mermaid dresses with gauzy ruffs. (Not sure how you’d get through the doorway, in some of these ballgowns!)

costumes showgirls clothing bangkok

Hutcha can also custom-make a garment in any style you please (how about a space pirate suit?) 

bangkok headdresses thai shopping

Walk around Watergate Mall, and you’ll find all sorts of showy garments. Admire the traditional Thai theater costumes, or shop for holographic jumpsuits.

gold thai headpieces crowns

You’ll be overwhelmed by the options for glitzing up your wardrobe. Bargaining is welcome, at accessories and headdresses stores like this one. 

goth queen skull crown

Watergate Mall is an excellent place to find costume jewelry, and experimental pieces such as headpieces covered in spikes. Or how about this crown decorated with a skull and cobwebs? 

drag queen dresses bangkok

The prices vary widely. Yukiro got this purple dressing gown with trailing sleeves for a steal. Other items, such as this glittery military gown, can be $1000+.

thailand crazy accessories hats

Those giant earrings look like they’d be a pain to wear… but that’s the price of fab fashion, isn’t it? 

siam discovery mall interior design

For fashion that’s less “out-there” but till outstanding, I recommend heading to Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery malls. This is my favorite spot to see Thai indie clothing all in one place. 

ecotopia eco fashion boutiques bangkok

Ascend to the upper levels and wander through Ecotopia. This department is all about ethical and eco-friendly goods. I eyed the organic cotton dresses and home products, and took home a few packets of local herbal curry. 

little twin stars scarves

Cross over to Siam Center, and you’ll be confronted by a variety of cute, hip fashion geared towards younger shoppers. 

hello kitty scarf, bangkok shop

This scarf store had a collaboration with Sanrio. There’s a limited edition “sawasdee” Hello Kitty shawl, as well as some featuring Little Twin Stars and Moomin. 

jelly bunny shoe bags store thailand

Those who love playful fashion will adore Jelly Bunny, a local line of kitschy shoes and purses. When you walk in, you’ll be welcomed by a large, sparkling pastel-pink rabbit statue. 

space rocket astronaut purses bags

Jelly Bunny has a huge range of “jelly” shoes, the malleable style that was big in the 90s. I was tempted to get one of their space-inspired holographic purses, shaped like astronauts or sleepy crescent moons. 

flynow eccentric fashion bangkok

Don’t miss out on the psychedelic Flynow store, also in Siam Center. You’ll run into colorful lions and bears dressed in the funky designer’s clothing.  

thailand weird experimental clothing fly now

Flynow’s designs stand out for being high-end – the brand presents at Bangkok Fashion Week – yet playful, with a pop-culture bent. The experimental garments include rainbow dresses, and bedazzled jeans with cartoon character faces. 

pink pvssy accessories store thailand

We also enjoyed roaming through Pink Pvssy, a quirky accessories store with multiple locations. Pink Pvssy carries every accessory you can imagine, from giant bead necklaces to 3D lion’s-head backpacks. You can even pick up a human-sized inflatable alien!

bloody bunny thailand rabbit

Finally, we popped into Bloody Bunny and Friends cafe. This Thai mascot is a mix between cute and frightening: note the bloodshot eyes, bent stitched ear and knife. 

cute characters theme cafe bangkok

Bloody Bunny’s friends are similarly spooky-cute. Get to know a growling, frowning bear (Serious Kuma) and a raven dressed like a plague doctor. This is a great place to pick up adorable themed goods, such as notebooks and toys. 

bloody bunny themed cafe

Then, head to the Bloody Bunny theme cafe. You can sip a red slushy, or munch on snacks served in bowls with his evil eyes.

touring bird tours activities travel tips writing

I hope you found these dark and alternative Bangkok tips helpful — or at least, frightful!

I also wrote about many of these places for Touring Bird, the new Google Area120 travel tips site. You can find all my Touring Bird tips for Bangkok here, as well as my underground guides for other cities worldwide.

(If you’re heading to Thailand, I contributed Touring Bird tips for Hua Hin, Krabi, and Ko Samui — plus many other major destinations in Asia. Thanks for checking out my writing on Google’s new travel website!)