Category Archive for Shanghai

Asia pop culture tours, African safari & Owl cafes: my top fashion & travel memories of 2014.

tokyo tower glowing at night

I’m glad you enjoyed the first half of my Year in Review! In this post, we’ll look back at the last six months of 2014, which took me to eight different countries for various work collaborations.

We’ll begin with this magic moment, in front of the glowing orange Tokyo Tower. I’ve lost count of how many times I have been to Japan, but each time, I fall in love with the country once again.

pechakucha speaker, presentation

This year, I began working with — a startup that lets travelers plan “exceptional journeys” to Japan, by creating trips and getting offbeat tips from insiders like me.

In June, Odigo flew me to Tokyo to give a speech in front of hundreds at PechaKucha. I spoke about my bizarre journey from blogging to TV presenting, writing and traveling worldwide. << Curious about my presentation? Watch my Pecha Kucha speech.

japan owl theme cafe

I’m excited for the official launch of Odigo early next year, and invite you to get a sneak peek here. Odigo lets you discover the coolest attractions in Japan — such as the adorable owl cafe — and put together a customized trip with all the addresses, maps, hours and info in one place. You can also contribute your own write-ups and images; take a look at Odigo, and I hope you’ll enjoy using the site.

teal lace party dress

As part of my mission to find Asia hotspots, I flew to Taipei for the first time. Here’s a Nanette Lepore outfit post from Taiwan’s Humble House boutique hotel.

taiwanese modern art

Taipei’s cheeky, modern art scene impressed me. Looks like the resident caveman (at Le Meridien) is trying to apologize to me. Perhaps he tried to steal my cat… << All the photos and outfit details here.

hello kitty friendship festival

Did you think “kawaii” cute culture was found only in Japan? In fact, Hello Kitty is possibly even more popular in Taiwan. She has a theme cafe in Taipei, and Sanrio had an interactive exhibition while I was there. (I haven’t blogged about this yet — I know, I’m always backlogged — but you can peer inside the Hong Kong Hello Kitty cafe.)

travel writer, travel magazine writing

I keep busy with a variety of different projects. I was in Hong Kong for a big TV shoot with Pro Sieben (German television). Can’t say much about this yet, but I’ll show you the photos and clip when they air next spring.

I wrote a number of articles for magazines this year, like Sunday Times Travel UK. I also have my own column in each issue of Hong Kong Express Airways’ in-flight magazine (scans above).

fashion blogger modeling posters billboard

As I mentioned in the last post, my focus is now on coverage I find meaningful — hence the stories about travel and underground culture worldwide. I’d feel empty if I followed the typical fashion blog format: outfit photos, consumption-oriented roundups, and little else of substance.

Nonetheless, I’m still passionate about style when I can express it on my own terms. I love to support designers who do things differently: slow fashion, alternative styles, eco materials, vintage. Moat House’s sunglasses are a perfect example, and I was honored to model their frames on a life-size poster in Paris.  

upper house hotel room

I returned to Hong Kong, which remains one of my favorite cities thanks to my friends and relatives here. I organized an influencers dinner for Odigo, and took Yukiro around to my favorite boutiques and restaurants.

luxury hotel bed

Things got Miffy-crazy in our Hong Kong penthouse, at the Upper House Hotel… You’ve got to see this epic blog and video, if you missed it!

wwf panda bears exhibit

My Pirates and I went to the new art center: PMQ in Central. At the time, there was an exhibition of 1600 panda bear statues. A powerful (and cute) way to get word out on the WWF, and their work in protecting endangered animals.

japanese sashimi salad

Oh, and the delicious food we ate in HK! Above was one of the best meals of the year, a melt-in-your-mouth sashimi salad by Harlan Goldstein at Sushi To. << Check out all my Hong Kong restaurant reviews.

eat your kimchi youtube studio

My Asia journey didn’t end there. I went to Seoul for the first time in over a decade, and it’s changed so much. Fortunately, my friends Eat Your Kimchi gave me pointers on where to see the best of K-pop culture. << Wander inside the EYK YouTube studio.

kpop beauty fashion blogger

I couldn’t get enough of the youtful university district, Hongdae, filled with coffee shops and Kpop fashion shops. I posed with the modern art in Itaewon

dongdaemun design plaza, seoul

… and got beamed up into the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Now that’s what I call space disco architecture!

cape town bo kaap street

This year, I realized more than ever: you only live once, and opportunities may never come again. So when Cape Town Tourism invited my film team and me to go to South Africa, we had to say yes — even though it was happening during an insane travel period. We weathered a sleepless schedule, trans-continental flights, lost luggage, and other fiascoes along the way.

But as soon as we stepped out onto the colorful streets of the Bo Kaap, I knew we made the right choice. We had so many wonderful moments on this trip — jazz in townships, Stellenbosch wines, street art, hanging out with local artists.

yawning lion, south africa safari

I also went on my first safari, and it was as magnificent as I imagined. We took photos of elephants, rhinos, zebras and this pride of lions.

aquila safari, game reserve

Perhaps you’ve been wondering: who is “we”? Or rather, who goes on these trips with me? Since my jobs require high-quality photos and videos, I’m not a solo traveler.

For the most part, these comrades are Eric and Melissa, my close friends and seasoned filmmakers. With each project, we aim to improve the quality of everything we produce. I hope you’ve been enjoying the recent visuals and stories — we’ll keep on upping the ante in 2015.

In the late summer, I was honored to be the cover model for Kirameki Magazine, wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie dress. << See all the photos and credits from this shoot.

philippines traffic, driving

After a bit of sunshine in Vancouver, I was back on the plane to a new Asian destination… Cebu in the Philippines! The streets were a jumble of colorful jeepneys.

white hippie dress

This time, my Pirates and I were collaborating with sáv Hospitality. I judged the Miss Scuba beauty pageant, a competition that gets the word out on ocean conservation…

goth model, lace dress

… and we did a showcase of their gorgeous Pacific Cebu Resort (travel video to be released soon).

travel blogging, beach destinations

Jet lag, what’s that? The small annoyances are all worth it, when you get to experience a near-perfect day like this one. << Look back at my boating and beach adventure in Lapu Lapu. 

the bund, shanghai skyline

We flew a few hours north, and wound up in what seemed like completely different universe: Shanghai, China. Here’s the glowing Bund, which captures how fast the city’s developed in recent years.

cachet hotels china

I went to the mainland a few times when I was growing up, and it never looked anything like this. I still have more to show you about Shanghai’s young design scene, hip restaurants, and French Quarter. << For now, here’s an outfit post from Cachet Boutique Hotel.

purple blue red hair color

Before the end of the year, I made two final trips: to New Orleans, and San Francisco for a TV shoot with ABC Nightline. I haven’t had a chance to post about these adventures yet, but here’s a preview at my new hair color (a blue-purple-magenta ombre by Stephanie Hoy). You can look forward to these stories and several new travel videos, beginning in January.

Middle East, Africa, Asia… what’s next? I hope you’ll continue to join my journey in 2015, since I have big plans up my kimono-sleeves! Check out @lacarmina on Instagram for day-to-day images, and to hear announcements like reader meet-ups. 

Thanks for being with me on my journey — I read all messages and comments, and am grateful for all the love you give. It’s amazing to connect with like-minded people who believe in what I do. See you next year. Let’s make it the best one yet!

Sherlock Holmes theme cafe in Shanghai, China! G9 & G2 design restaurants, Lane Crawford.

sherlock holmes restaurant

I spy a mysterious sign in Shanghai’s French Quarter. “Crime in progress. Please disturb.”

What bloodshed lies behind these doors?

sherlock holmes theme cafe, shanghai french quarter

Shh, it’s a secret… there’s a Sherlock Holmes theme cafe in Shanghai, China! Read on to peek inside, and I’ll also take you inside two fantastically-designed restaurants, G-9 and G-2. 

221B Baker St china cafe

The name of the cafe is 221B Baker Street, but don’t tell the taxi driver to go here or you might end up in London. The Sherlock Holmes cafe’s actual address is: 50 Ruijin 2nd Rd. (Gaolan Rd.), Shanghai.

The game is a-foot… but don’t try to find the place by foot. The street signs are confusing, and Google Maps doesn’t show the correct location. Instead, hail a hansom (or taxi) and ask your driver to take you to 瑞金二路50号, 近复兴中路. Cab fares are extremely low in Shanghai, so the ride will probably only cost you a few dollars.

sherlock themed cafe shanghai

Once you’re inside, you can lift a finger and announce, “Elementary, my dear Watson!”

Dress: Shakuhachi Future Minimal from West LA Boutique – purchase the same dress here.
Skeleton necklace: from LLazy Bonez.

(Above, click the images to shop the looks featured in this outfit post. I love this brand so much!)

bbc sherlock souvenirs, memorabilia

The entrance looks like a shrine to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the master detective in BBC’s Sherlock TV series (which is one of my favorites).

bbc sherlock and watson statues

Who knew the show was so popular in China? Of course, there are cute miniature “chibi” versions of Watson and Sherlock.

sherlock holmes museum

The cafe is designed to look like Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s shared flat, 221B Baker Street. One room looks a Victorian parlor, with brocaded curtains and a game of chess.

sherlock holmes violin

Customers can pose with the props: this is not a real violin, and obviously I don’t know how to play it. Behind me, you can spot test tubes and a microscope for Holmes’ forensic examinations.

deerstalker hat sherlock holmes pipe

A deerstalker hat and a pipe are the ultimate Sherlock Holmes fashion accessories. Below are more must-haves for gumshoes in training.

interior review 221b china

Much of the decor feels authentic to fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels. But a few rooms have a “huh” feeling, like this tropical wallpaper and portrait of Edgar Allan Poe. 

sherlock holmes cafe menu

The clever menu looks like a newspaper, and the top right indicates the cafe’s opening date: July 2013. The front page has “recommendations by Mrs Hudson,” the landlady of Watson and Holmes.

sherlock holmes coffee

My baby niece sniffs at the decorated latte, with a coat of arms that shows Sherlock Holmes in profile. I ordered the “Moriarty” drink, an appropriately evil mix of iced coffee with vanilla ice cream on top.

bbc sherlock cups, postcards

The cafe serves sandwiches, cakes and other snacks as well. However, the selection of BBC Sherlock memorabilia is the biggest draw.

benedict cumberbatch painting

You can pick up Sherlock-themed bookmarks, art, and jewelry.

sir arthur conan doyle museum

When you ask for the check, the waiter flips a top hat onto the table. Aha, the receipt is pinned to the brim! Case closed.

llazybonez jewelry, chinese sherlock holmes books

If you have never read the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you must get your hands on them. The stories hold up over time and the writing doesn’t at all feel dated. You can get the whole Sherlock collection here.

Above is a close-up of my skeleton and black pearl necklace, by LLazy Bonez. These Hong Kong jewelers custom-make spooky skull pieces with quality silver and stones.

lane crawford shanghai china

Now, let’s explore two more uniquely-designed restaurants in China. My team and I were invited to dinner at G9, a new restaurant at the department store Lane Crawford. 

shakuhachi future minimal dress

There was a light display in front of the designer mall. (All photos by Melissa Rundle, Eric Bergemann and La Carmina.)

lane crawford china shopping

Lane Crawford is the high-fashion destination in Hong Kong and China. The floors carry international luxury brands (like this Alice + Olivia Panda sweater) as well as local labels.

G九 上海 restaurant

We were here to experience a dramatic new restaurant,  G九 (上海) – also known as G-Force or G9 Shanghai. Address: 3/F Lane Crawford block, Shanghai Times Square, 99 Huaihai Zhong Road.

Designed by Ian Douglas-Jones of Atelier I-N-D-J, the interior is pop art meets vampire — a mesmerizing play on light and shadow. Above us, nearly 1000 pendants glow in a moving wave across the room. As you talk and eat, the experience changes as the lights constantly reveal and hide.

g9 shanghai restaurant, atelier INDJ

A long brass table cuts across the room, serving as both a catwalk and a dining space. Even for jaded diners like ourselves, the atmosphere was dazzling.

lane crawford restaurant food

G9’s dramatic design is complemented by the artfully-presented meals on the menu. We shared a number of starters, including tuna tataki served in half an avocado, presented like a floral arrangement.

china interior design hip restaurants

We ordered the lobster linguine twice — it was that good. The pumpkin ravioli and dry-aged beef (carved right at the table) were also outstanding.

All of the G restaurants emphasize local and pesticide-free ingredients. I’m surprised but pleased to see this approach to food taking root in China.

Atelier INDJ, architect Ian Douglas-Jones

Dessert was literally a masterpiece. The young chef covered a canvas with Jackson Pollack-like swooshes, using ingredients like chocolate sauce as his paints. He told us the picture was inspired by the planets and stars.

jackson pollock dessert

For the grand finale, he used molecular gastronomy to release a fog of steam… and with a yelp, he smashed the “planet” on the canvas! We lapped up every last bite of the white chocolate shards and flavors.

jellyfish in fish tanks

The next night, we had Chinese food at G-2, also designed by Ian of INDJ. Once again, the interior design pulled at the imagination. We ate while were surrounded by a 14 meter aquarium of jellyfish, drifting through purple lights.

Address: G2, Shanghai Plaza, No.138 Huaihai Road 4th floor.

G2 极贰

The patio gave a glowing view of the city. I can’t believe how much Shanghai has developed the past 5-10 years.

modern shanghai chinese restaurant

At G2, the food is contemporary Cantonese seafood. I tried tilefish, octopus, and glass noodles with an unidentifiable seafood (despite the mystery, it was my favorite).

shanghai bund skyline

I leave you with a colorful view of The Bund. What fun to explore Shanghai, which is becoming more cosmopolitan by the day.

Oriental Pearl Tower shanghai

And here’s the Oriental Pearl Tower, glowing like a space pod.

Were you surprised to see a Sherlock Holmes theme cafe and avantgarde restaurants in China?

(PS – if you want to learn more about the clothes I wore in Shanghai, browse and click the images above.)