(On me: Mango top, shorts, jacket and heels; On Chase and Juju: H.E. by Mango shirts, jackets and tie)
I may not have sisters to share clothes, shoes and make-up with, but I’ve got brothers who are willing to do all sorts of shenanigans with me, including participating and dressing up for this blog entry! Good thing they’ve never been fashion and camera averse so it wasn’t hard for me to invite them.
My eldest twin brothers Chase (long hair) and Juju (short hair) have always had impeccable taste in fashion. If I were male, I’d probably want to dress just like them. Likewise, I’m proud to say that they trust my taste in fashion as well! They always wear the clothes I buy for them, and this says a lot because like me, they are quite picky with their clothes! They’ve always had very distinct personal styles.
After my boyfriend Rg posed for some photos with me last summer (see here) and after accidentally stumbling upon an article on the Kardashian’s annual Christmas cards (lol), I figured it would be cool to include my own siblings (save for our youngest, Calel, who is working in the US right now and won’t be able to join us for Christmas for the first time ever, huhu) in one of my holiday-themed shoots.
This time, however, the styling part was rather challenging because Chase and Juju are only a size bigger than me. Styling Rg last summer was a breeze because he is 5’10” and possesses a body type that fits Western brands perfectly (he literally fits size M in all brands, making it so easy to buy him clothes… only he is not interested in fashion, lol). My brothers, however, can give my legs (and most girls’) a run for their money.
Recently, I discovered that H.E. by Mango offers clothing in extra small sizes now! Don’t let the tall and buff mannequins discourage your skinny brothers and boyfriends from going into the store. The button-downs and jackets they are wearing here are size XXS and “Asian Fit”. Talk about awesome! It’s about time!
How do you like our family fashion? Can you tell that I was somewhat inspired by Gossip Girl?
All the items that I am wearing are part of latest F/W collection which are all on sale right now until the end of January. Get up to 50% discount on all items for all Mango concepts including MANGO, H.E. by MANGO, MANGO Touch and the newest concepts, MANGO Kids and MANGO Sport & Intimates.
After my short trip to London, my family and I headed straight to Paris via Eurostar!
Steam punk vibe at the station. It was love at first sight.
Different trains arriving from different places such as Amsterdam and Brussels. It’s so easy to travel from one place to another while you’re in Europe! Wish I could say the same about Asia! My craziest dream is for a train/tunnel to magically appear from Manila to Tokyo.
Ah, la belle Paris!
As usual, we walked around the area of our hotel after leaving our stuff in our rooms. We stayed at Hotel Saint Petersbourg at 33-35 Rue de Caumartin, which is a humble place that’s only one block away from the Opera and the subway. Excellent location! It’s also near shopping places such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
We passed by an Office du Tourisme to get our bearings. You can get almost all your tickets to all the famous tourist spots here. Talk about convenient!
From here on, I couldn’t help but snap pictures at almost every corner.
Ministère de la Justice at Place Vendome.
Librairie Galignani in rue de Rivoli. It is the first English bookshop established on the continent! It’s been around since the early 19th century.
When in Paris, eat macarons. I think I ate macarons everyday when I was there. I tried Pierre Hermé, Angelina, and of course Ladurée!
So many people having their afternoon tea and cake. Angelina (formerly known as Rumpelmayers) was once a favorite of Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel.
I can stare at this the whole day. I loved all the macarons so much that I had to buy some more before heading back to Manila. My tummy was very satisfied.
Hello there, little fella!
Jardin des Tuileries, a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde. There weren’t a lot of people when I went there because it was so windy and rainy.
My hair after being subjected to x number of hours of different weather conditions. Nothing like a little red lipstick to save a bad hair day.
River cruise! Vedettes du Pont Neuf. Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine.
Rue du Bac, near Musée d’Orsay.
The flag of France. The Tricolour.
Gare d’Orsay is a former Paris railway station and hotel. Now, we just know it as Musée d’Orsay, the famous art museum.
In front of Musée d’Orsay. Went here on another day, so more pictures of this place in another post.
Pretty French buildings.
Even tree branches are photogenic in Paris.
Feels and looks like a dream.
Had afternoon coffee (al fresco) at a small cafe where everyone was too nice! One of the waitresses knew how to speak in English so she patiently took our orders and even complimented us for looking cute. Little did she know that she was the cutest one!
One of my favorite landscape photos from my Paris trip. Here’s a good view of the Eiffel Tower, the River Seine, and the Pont Alexandre III arch bridge.
Thank God we found someone who could understand English!
Hotel des invalides and Dome des invalides. Louis XIV built Hotel des invalides in the 17th century to serve as a home for invalid war veterans. Now it’s a war museum.
Dome des invalides is the burial place of Napoleon, two of his brothers and his son Napoleon II. More pictures of this place in another post!
Place de la Concorde, one of the major public squares in Paris.
Here you can find the Obelisk of Luxor, another one of the three Ancient Egyptian obelisks. I already posted a photo of the London Cleopatra’s Needle before, so I only need a photo of the one in New York to complete the series! Back in early 2011, I wasn’t able to take a lot of pictures and go around Central Park because of my 38-39 degree fever. Hopefully I can come back soon, yes?
Stylish Parisian pedestrians (and some tourists!)
L’église de la Madeleine. The Madeleine is a parish of the Archdiocese of Paris.
Every fashion fan should know the significance of 31 rue Cambon. Clue: She invented the concept of the modern boutique… and of course, N°5.
The Opera by day.
Guess where I am?
Just in time for the lights! I’ve always preferred the Louvre when it’s dramatically lit up in the evening.
Time for fill our empty stomachs with classic French food!
But first we had apéritifs with my mom’s former student and my former schoolmate (he went to Ateneo for a few months as an exchange student) Frédéric, who introduced us to Sauternes. Sweet wine will be the death of me! Someone bring this to Manila!
The Opera by night.
I absolutely love Paris at night. It’s like it completely transforms into another place! Nothing can ever compare. Everything is so wonderfully lit, and the fact that there are so many places with Paris with a very rich history makes it all the more magical.
Up next: Versailles!
About 2 hours away from Fukuoka is another famous tourist destination. Nagasaki was very famous as a port city in the past, but most people would recognize the name as that second city after Hiroshima to be destroyed by an atomic bomb during the 2nd World War.
My family and I took the Express Train from Hakata Station in Fukuoka straight to Nagasaki Station. Had a free day so instead of just shopping we spontaneously decided to check this place out.
Best decision ever.
If you take a bus to Nagasaki from the Hakata Bus Terminal in Fukuoka, it will take you around 2 and half hours. Great alternative if you’re a bus person.
Near the Nagasaki station. Purdy clouds.
L from Death Note (lol)
Took a bus to go nearer the Atomic Bomb Museum.
Passed by a building with tokusatsu sentai mascot Daiwaman X by the window.
My family and I had lunch at some revolving sushi restaurant near the museum.
And every single plate looked like this. How are the Japanese able to maintain their weight when all the food available in the country is so good?
The Peace Memorial Park outside the museum. After the bridge is a giant space where the hypocenter monument lies.
Folding a thousand cranes can grant you a wish, according to Japanese legend. These cranes donated by the locals expressed their desire for peace after the tragedy that happened to them.
By the entrance of the Atomic Bomb Museum.
Going to save everyone from very graphic war photographs, but in a nutshell, most of the contents of the museum were remnants that were saved after the atomic bomb hit Nagasaki, as well as detailed timelines of World War II so people can understand the events that led to this very specific and traumatic moment in history.
And here I started tearing up. One part of the museum presented different accounts of atomic bomb survivors.
At this stage I was bawling. Not only did civilians suffer from losing their family members, but they were also exposed to the “atomic bomb disease” caused by heat rays and radiation.
"The Boy Standing by the Crematory in Nagasaki" by Joe O’Donnell. Very "Grave of the Fireflies", don’t you think?
One of the most tragic, most heartbreaking war photographs I have ever seen in my entire life. The story behind it is so powerful and moving as well.
The photographer was interviewed by a certain Seiko Ueda - “I came in from Sasebo to Nagasaki and looked around from a hill. Men walking with white masks caught my attention. The men were working besides a big hole of about 60cm deep. They were putting the corpses piled up on a wagon into the hole with burning lime . Then I saw a boy of around ten years old walking toward them. He had his little brother baby strapped on his back. In those days, it was quite common in Japan to see young boys carrying their little brother or sister on their back while playing in the field. But this boy wasn’t here to play. He had a very important duty to come to this crematory. You could see it on his face. And he was barefoot. The boy came to the edge of the crematory. His face was stiff and his eyes were bracing for an ordeal. The baby on his back looked deep asleep and the head was bent backward. The boy stood there for five or ten minutes. Then the men with the white masks came towards him and started to untie the straps. At this moment, I realized that this baby brother he was carrying was dead. The men gently held the baby’s arms and legs and slowly put him into the hole where the hot stones are laid. I could hear the steaming sound of the baby’s flesh burning. Then a gleaming red flare danced up in the air. The bright red color like the sunset was reflecting on the yet tender boy’s cheek as he stood there straight and still. That moment, I realized that the boy was biting his lip and it was bleeding. He was biting hard as he gazed his little brother in flames. When the flames had calmed down, the boy turned on his heels and left the place silently.”
Left the museum with bloodshot eyes, but our tour guide Hiro-san managed to sum it all up in a good way. She mentioned that this museum wasn’t made to make the Japanese purely appear as victims of the World War since they admit that they also had their own share of violence back then. It was made so that everyone can learn from this traumatic experience, having just been reminded of that time when human beings actually resorted to these very grave measures.
A monument of Sadako, of “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” fame.
Not Sadako of Ringu fame.
Walked past the bridge from the museum to get to…
…the monument that marks the hypocenter of the atomic bomb.
They were able to estimate its exact location because all the trees around this point were still standing, which could only happen since the initial impact of the bomb was vertical.
A piece of rock that was exposed to atomic bomb radiation, preserved behind a protective container.
Suddenly, a photograph of my brothers to lighten this entry up! No more depressing stuff after this, I promise!
A few blocks from the museum is this very large space they call the Nagasaki Peace Park.
Lots of installations and monuments to help promote world peace were donated by artists from all over the world and were displayed here.
And I finally got to take a picture of the canned coffee I mentioned in one of my older Fukuoka posts. My brothers always had to get their daily caffeine fix, but it would never be satisfied by any other kind of coffee except for this one.
While we were in Japan, at least.
Random view of the pathway to Oura Catholic Church.
And of course we had to try some meat buns while we were there.
Bumped into this cat while walking and…
…soon after realized that it just might be the artist of these portraits (lol)
What would a manga writer think about this situation?
Oura Catholic Church is Japan’s oldest standing church, and is the only Western building to be designated as a national treasure. Can’t believe this has been preserved since 1863.
Nagasaki has a very large population of Catholics, which only explains the very famous line “Hiroshima in anger, Nagasaki in prayer.”
Behind the Oura Catholic Church is Glover Garden, an exhibit of mansions of Nagasaki’s former Western residents. Failed to take pictures of the actual recreated houses for some reason I can’t remember! To compensate, I shall just post a cute picture of some koi fish fighting for food.
From the houses you can enjoy a nice view of the port city of Nagasaki.
Our tour guide Hiro-san showing us a photo of one of Japan’s most loved heroes, Ryoma Sakamoto. Prior to this introduction, I already had an idea who he was… thanks to JIN, that genius Japanese drama about a doctor time traveling to the past and saving people with brain surgery even if it wasn’t even invented yet. He traveled to Ryoma Sakamoto’s time!
He continues to be a very relevant figure in Nagasaki, as he established the Kameyama Shachu in this place. The Kameyama Shachu or the Kaientai is only Japan’s first trading company!
Ryoma Sakamoto also had a secret meeting place inside one of Glover’s houses. I saw it. I just failed to take a proper picture of it (again).
Used my ninja photography skills once more because the branches were framing this girl perfectly and I just had to take a picture.
Found out she was trying to take a picture of the sunset so I took a picture of it too.
What better way to end the tour than to see cherry blossoms! They’re not supposed to bloom until spring but our tour guide says that the tree must’ve gotten confused with the very erratic weather conditions they’ve been having.
2 years ago, I missed the cherry blossoms in Tokyo by a few weeks! /cry
Took the bus back to somewhere nearer the Nagasaki Station since it was getting late. Snapped a photo of this couple that we saw earlier at Glover Garden. They were also so excited about the cherry blossoms so I guess it really is very rare to see them bloom in winter.
After dinner, we walked around this place called S TOBI. It was already rather late in the evening and the stores were closing but our tour guide made it a point to drop by a certain dessert store to get a slice of cake for her daughter. Too bad I can’t remember the name of the store but they supposedly have the most glorious treats!
Perfect hair and perfect coats! Managed to do zero shopping in Nagasaki but it was all good because I can be such a geek sometimes! This place has such a rich history that no amount of shopping can ever compare to the things I was able to see here.
Long, educational day at Nagasaki ended as soon as we boarded the train back to Hakata Station in Fukuoka. Spent the first hour in the train sleeping, and the next hour just fooling around with my brothers Juju and Calel. Managed to re-enact parts of Inception while pretending to sleep/dream. Aptly called the whole thing Trainception afterwards.
Psyched to go to Hiroshima some time in the future. Heard the place is just as wonderful! I hope more people can go visit Japan this year. Why this place is my favorite cannot be fully explained by these pictures or words. I can only try.
Tenjin is the downtown area of Fukuoka where all the shopping centers are. Because the previous day was very hectic, we decided to relax, do some shopping, and take a break from doing all sorts tourist-y things this time.
I did most of my shopping in a mall called Tenjin Core, which also houses some very familiar brands if you avidly follow Japanese fashion magazines. Practiced my ninja skills and quickly took a few pictures of the stores and the mannequins when I was done shopping and had no money left, hahaha.
Deep red and old rose (or smoky pink, as they call it) were two of the most prevalent color trends consistent in every store I went to! Sooo pretty!
Accessories heaven. They’re all into giant bows, shiny hair ties and bolo ties/necklaces at the moment.
One of my all-time favorite brands, Liz Lisa
Only a part of the complete assortment of false eyelashes that you will ever need in your entire life.
A blonde Yamamoto Yusuke appears!
After shopping for winter clothes that we can probably wear in a tropical place such as Manila, we walked around the city to look for a place to eat.
Nothing like burger omurice to give that much-needed boost for a busy shop-til-you-drop afternoon.
Why can’t we have these glorious Starbucks marshmallow dark chocolate and white chocolate macadamia cookies here?
Somehow, we all managed to consume our frozen drinks even if it was freezing outside. Some things in life are just strange that way. Like bare legs in winter.
While my brothers were checking out the Tower Records in Solaria Stage, I practiced my ninja skills again to take some street snaps of people in the area.
Reminds me of my friend Cheesie, mermaid hair, tan skin and all!
His coat - I covet! Easily the most perfect shade of green/teal I’ve ever seen.
Went back to Hakata Station for dinner. Tried their KFC out, and it was so good (see what I did there) I finally understood why the Japanese are all KFC-crazy.
After a long day, in our hotel room, it was good to be greeted back by Matsujun and Hyde on Music Station.
After arriving in Fukuoka on Christmas day, our super hectic 9 AM to 9 PM tour around the city finally commenced on the 26th of December. Fukuoka is a very small and simple place compared to other places in Japan I’ve been to (Tokyo, Nara, Kyoto and Osaka specifically) but it has its own charm, I believe. It used to be a merchant town with a very rich history, being the gateway to Japan a long time ago. I definitely wouldn’t mind visiting this place every so often - such a quaint place perfect for a much-needed peaceful vacation.
Photo-heavy entry ahead:
Early morning at some random street. I love how everywhere you go in Japan, it’s always so clean and orderly.
Couple holding hands before crossing the street.
Hakata-bei at the Rakusui-en Garden. The locals didn’t want the ruins of original Hakata buildings to go to waste after the war so they made these patterns and used the materials to create these famous Hakata walls. Recycling at its finest.
Lovely Japanese garden. Here also lies a reconstructed Meiji period tea house where I was able to try out their maccha tea along with some complementary Japanese sweets.
Authentic green tea that was rather bitter but meshed so perfectly with the sweets served with it.
Took a photo of this vending machine because my brothers ended up getting addicted to Suntory Boss Coffee Rainbow Mountain Blend.
Passed by Canal City for about 5 minutes on the way to Kushida Shrine. Canal City had a grand sale the day before I left Fukuoka so I ended up going here the second time during my stay.
In Kushida shrine, there was this magnificently decorated float dedicated to the gods Ohatanushi-no-mikoto, Amaterasu-omikami and Susanowo-no-mikoto.
Our tour guide Hiro-san showed us an artwork of how men would look like during the Yamakasa festival. She said her previous tourist clients would always giggle after seeing this. I could only imagine.
She also mentioned something about this rock in the shrine that locals use to determine whether or not someone is fit for sumo wrestling. And of course my 100-105-pound brother Juju accepted the challenge.
Heard a story about the wind of god or kamikaze.
After Kushida Shrine, we went to Tochoji Temple, a family temple of the Kuroda family, lord of Fukuoka province.
The sight to see here was this Fukuoka Daibutsu or the Great Buddhist statue, one of the largest wooden figures of the seated Buddha. Used my ninja skills to take this picture.
Behind the statue is a small museum in a dark tunnel of sorts that shows a collection of paintings of hell, etc. However, at the end of the narrow tunnel, where the light eventually goes out, you can find a thick ring if you’re lucky. They say you can go to heaven if you find this ring. I did!
Giant five-story pagoda.
Failed at showing the epicness of it for the sake of taking an artsy fartsy shot with a tree in front of it.
One of the regular temple visitors asked me out of the blue where I was from, and gave me a really interesting gift. He gave me a Delta airplane figurine, which I guess he carries around with him everywhere. And now it’s with me! I hope this means more travel opportunities in 2012. Thanks, Delta-san.
If Ultraman transformed into a car, this would be it.
A few blocks from Tochoji Temple was a quiet Zen garden in the middle of the neighborhood.
Suddenly, my collar.
Managed to snap a photo of Family Mart while on the way to Tenjin. Everyone here is crazy about KARA! Gekidan Hitori is pleased.
Picture of a girl in the bus mirror. Quite eerie, yes? My brothers were joking how much creepier it would be if I opened this photo in my laptop and found the girl looking at me all of a sudden. Ahh, chills.
Snaps of people on the way to Tenjin…
…where people look like aliens!
Had lunch at one of the most popular sushi restaurants in the area. I wasn’t able to ask what the restaurant was called but I still vividly remember their gourd logo.
Stockings at 0-4°C. All that fur on her ankles just might’ve been her savior.
Obligatory Arashi photo.
Two girls looking like they’re having a very fun conversation. Snidel paper bag, I see you!
My brother Chase. It’s all bokeh behind him but after lunch we headed straight to Dazaifu City via subway. Dazaifu may be a very popular tourist destination, but a lot of locals also go here to pray for success in their examinations.
And for the strangest reason my siblings and I were all so coordinated.
Had a ¥700 cafe au lait at one of the coffee shops there. I don’t want to think that I just paid for the immensely dainty cup and saucer lol
Some local treats like Umegae-mochi (sweet rice cake with bean jam) and Onigawara Monaka (sweet bean jam sandwiched in mochi wafers) were being sold on the way to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine.
This shrine is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, also known as the god of learning.
Found a street performer in the area who was able to make this monkey stand on a pole.
The girls on the right were brisk walking because they were in such a hurry to get to a place with a heater. Brr.
Girl at the Dazaifu station.
It was freezing like crazy when we decided to go to our last stop of the day…
Fukuoka Tower stands at 234 meters, making it the highest seaside tower in Japan. Fun fact: They change the lighting and decorations around the building depending on the season. They would have, of course, the standard lighting on an ordinary month, but they would have a “Milky Way decoration” in July and August, a “St. Valentines Day decoration” in February and March and a “Blue Christmas light decoration” in November and December.
Just after sunset, this was how the wonderful city of Fukuoka looked like when I was there. <3
Back at Amu Plaza in Hakata Station, we had a late dinner. We were already so hungry but we decided to brave the waiting line for this much-hyped restaurant.
The verdict? BEST RAMEN I’VE EVER TASTED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. All the ramen that I’ve tried now fails in comparison.
Where can I find authentic barikata Hakata noodles in Manila?!