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Guide to Visiting Angkor Wat: travel video! Siem Reap tour, Lara Croft temple & Buddha statues.

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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.

siem reap cambodia ruins

I’ll also share the dramatic photos we took amidst the ancient temple ruins — inspired by Lara Croft! 

nbc better late than never hong kong episode

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.)

henry winkler better late than never tv show

“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! 

angkor wat tree roots

Outfit Details:

1990s dark floral skirt: from Pylo. Here is a similar shorter version of this skirt.

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.

cambodia fashion blog

What’s the best hotel in Siem Reap?  My vote goes to the magnificent Le Méridien Angkor hotel. They have a lush backyard garden…

le meridien angkor lobby

… 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 siem reap swimming pool

Le Meridien has one of the coolest swimming pool designs I’ve seen. The waters are framed by gardens dotted with Hindu statues.

goth pincurls hair style

In my happy place. Wearing a Michi cut out top, and blue Linda Farrow sunglasses.

michi athletic fashion, designer fitness clothes

Lotus flowers add to the feeling of peace.

tomb raider swimming pool

Posing with my travel buddy John Skeleton. We also went to Vietnam together, one of my favorite trips.

luxury art hotel siem reap

See many more photos of my outfit and Le Meridien Angkor, in this previous post

fashion blogger income, money

Thanks to Ken Yuen and Sniper Chau for the photography.

angkor wat pyramids

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).

cambodian sunrise

This way, you can go inside to see the sunset and skip the line-up the next day.

sun rise dawn angkor

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.

big tree roots cambodian jungle

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. 

demon statues, angkor wat

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.

elephant wall carving cambodia

Our guide showed us the Terrace of the Elephants. It was the site of public ceremonies for the Khmer king and his troops.

bayon buddha heads

One can’t help but smile when you come across these beaming Buddha faces, peeping out from the trees.

angkor wat carvings

I was mesmerized by this long wall of carvings, which depict Hindu devas.

hindu deva bas relief

Some of the faces have been worn down by the elements and time, adding to the feeling of mystery.

tomb raider photoshoot cosplay

Words can’t capture the feeling of standing right in the doorway of century-old ruins. The Cambodian architecture stands the test of time.

climbing angkor thom

Anyone can get up close to the structures, and even climb them. Just watch out for the slippery moss.

angkor temple ruins

Feeling like I’ve entered a lost world. There were no other tourists around us, since our guide helped us avoid the crowds.

travel blogger siem reap

Imagining that I am Lara Croft for a day. I even wore a braid in my hair.

lara croft cosplay angkor wat

The fallen bricks are as beautiful as the standing structures, in their own way.

ta prohm tree roots

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.

reflecting pond angkor temple

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.

angkor wat photography sunlight

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.

cambodia lotus pond

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.

angkor wat temple silhouette

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?

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Brussels local fashion boutiques! Shopping in Dansaert, Stijl Belgian designers, Lunetier Ludovic.

brussels fashion shops, clothing stores

Can you tell I was delighted to be in Brussels? I got an inside look at the local fashion scene, thanks to the special arrangements by Belgium Tourism Board.

We filmed stories in three very different boutiques: glasses, jewelry, designer couture. I also found out why Brussel’s Dansaert shopping street is known as one of the coolest in Europe.

PS – if you want to buy this Miffy shirt, it’s available on my Depop shop along with many new items… Email me (gothiccarmina att gmail dotcom)  and let me know what you’d like from my clothing sale, before it’s all gone!

Lunetier Ludovic glasses store

First stop on my Brussels fashion tour — a unique eyeglasses shop.

These days, glasses have become a style statement. Lunetier Ludovic is the vision of Ludovic Elens, a Belgian optometrist who crafts distinctive frames by hand.

belgian cool eyeglasses

We loved the vintage vibe of Lunetier Ludovic boutique (Address: Ernest Allardstraat 14, 1000 Brussel).

I’m a glasses-wearer myself (although you usually see me in contact lenses), and quite picky about frames. My favorite styles come from Europe — where the designs tend to have a minimal, modern aesthetic.

designer glasses brussels

Ludovic’s glasses stand out because of his handcrafted techniques and quality materials, sourced from around the world. I tried on a few frames made out of Buffalo horn and cellulose acetate.

cool hipster glasses boutique

Lunetier Ludovic’s storefront displays his own collection, as well as other indie glasses brands.

He is passionate about offering a bespoke experience for his clients. In the age of machines, Ludovic’s work is a throwback to the days when artisans used their hands and simple tools to craft spectacles, from raw materials.

handmade high end glasses europe

I loved the unique shape and speckled pattern of these eyeglasses.

Ludovic told me that he didn’t feel there was a single style that best suited certain face shapes. Instead, he aims to make glasses that reflect his clients’ personalities. 

optician factory, LUNETIER LUDOVIC lunettes

We went downstairs to his workshop. Ludovic showed me how to cut silhouettes from raw acetate slabs, and polish them to perfection on a spinning tool. He often spends weeks refining a single pair of glasses, as each order is individually made and customized to the client.

custom designing glasses

So cool to see the artistic process from start to finish, at Lunetier Ludovic. The Belgian designer has a knack for capturing the customer’s individuality through his handmade designs.

bel arte jewelry store brussels

The inspiration continued at Bel’ Arte,  a lively boutique run by a young couple. Everything here is made by independent Belgian designers. (Address: Rue de Flandre 53, 1000 Bruxelles)

belgian designer rings

Bel’Arte has the goal of highlighting local artisans, who often don’t have the opportunity to display their goods in stores. I browsed one-of-a-kind jewelry, leather goods, furniture, lighting and other design items.

dansaert jewerly accessories

Very impressed by the skill of these young Belgian artists. These twisty rings and earrings would be fantastic gifts, as they can only be found here.

(All photos by Borderless Media – and our travel video will be out soon.)

stijl fashion shop dansaert

I wore a Miffy outfit that day (it’s available for sale on my shop!), and found my bunny boyfriend at Stijl — a famous boutique for Belgian designers. (There are separate shops for men and women; the latter is at Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat 74, 1000 Brussels).

In the 1980s, this neighborhood had very few attractions. Stijl opened in 1984, and transformed Dansaert into the cutting-edge fashion destination that it is today.

brussels designers haute couture

I interviewed Sonia Noël, the founder and owner. She wanted Stijl to be a platform for young Belgian designers to show their works.

Thanks to her initiative, these little-known locals have become big names in the couture world: Dries van Noten, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Raf Simons, to name a few.

stijl belgian fashion labels

Stijl carries the latest collections of these now-famous names. However, the store remains true to its original goal, and always gives space to up and coming Belgian designers. 

(Below are designs you can find at Stijl; click the images for details)

belgium local designers mode

I loved seeing the sleek couture of Maison Martin Margiela and the “Antwerp Six”, beautifully displayed in a single boutique. Stijl is a must-visit for those who appreciate fine fashion.

ancient belgian building facade

The entire Dansaert district is worth browsing. I spent hours looking at vintage and modern clothing stores, book shops… and even found this old building facade, next to Chicago Cafe.

brussels museum musical instruments

I’ll leave you with a look at the classic architecture in Brussels. The tourism board took us to lunch at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), known for its collection of over 8000 instruments.

You know I’m obsessed with Art Nouveau… what a treat to look out from the museum’s rooftop! This swirling steel and glass structure was built in 1899.

Restaurant Musical Instruments Museum

We had lunch by the windows: a feast of Belgian specialties like French fries, Liege meatballs and tartines (open face sandwiches).

bruxelles architecture

This is only an introduction to the spectacular food we ate in Belgium… There’s much more to come, including a video and a chocolate tasting.

Did the style scene in Brussels surprise you? Are you familiar with Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten and other local designers? (Shop a selection below…)

buzzfeed travel weird crazy japan

PS – Thank you to Buzzfeed Travel for featuring me in a big article about Tokyo bizarre travel! It went viral and trended for days.

PPS – Since there was so much demand, I’ve added new Japanese Lolita dresses, Miffy tops and more to my Depop shop. My best items are now up, so come take a look and email me quickly to let me know what you’d like. I’ll gladly do exact shipping, and discounts if you get more than one item. Have fun!

Come shop La Carmina’s wardrobe sale here.