Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hong Kong - Entry 006

Greetings from Hong Kong! I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope the holidays were well. For the new year, I want to be consistent in sharing my experiences and give more tips and walkthroughs on my trips. As per usual, I shall preface if this is something abnormally wild, or something I would recommend people partaking. As stated before, any links provided are direct links to websites, social media accounts, and so on. It would be quite the dream to be sponsored by an entity I would be proud to represent, but until that fateful day, I can promise no links that incentivize me for personal gain [unless stated otherwise] and no ads!


Fashion: Grooming
Destination: Hong Kong


This trip, I partook in a usual activity I have done strictly in the United States, as absurd as it seems - getting a haircut. There are certain things we feel comfortable doing and conveying in our home countries respectively. Then again…it is just hair! It grows back, rather quickly for me…for now. I was recommended by a friend's husband's colleague to RAW Hair Salon on the Hong Kong Island side. I read a couple of reviews on Google and it seemed rather consistent, especially for those that do not speak Cantonese. 

For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong, most locals split the small Special Administrative Region [SAR] to two sides: Kowloon [north of the bay] and Hong Kong Island [south of the bay]. On the island side, there are a lot stairs and the occasional escalator to assist with the steepness, so watch out! Upon arriving, there was sadly a massive delivery truck blocking the storefront. It was still there after I had left!


Sign hanging on the upper left-hand corner

Upon entry one can see the venue is small. There is a sofa to the right, and the cash register is to the left. I wanted to capture the center upon entry, since it reflects what one would see initially.

RAW Hair Salon

I had Andrew, who is actually depicted right in front above! He is off on Tuesday's. He spoke English, which was great. He asked what I wanted and of course, I had no idea. He basically cut it shorter such that the top of my hair was sufficiently long to still style with wax. My cut included shampoo, cut, rinse, and wax - All for 258$ HKD [≈ 30$ USD]. Not too shabby and hell of a lot less than what I pay in the city. Check out on Instagram for the actual haircut!


Travel: I booked this deal per FlyerTalk member olouie on Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific to assist me to re-qualify for the 2018 calendar year for American Airlines’s top status: Executive Platinum. It is also the first time I completed two transpacific flights return tickets in the same week. I alluded earlier on Facebook the benefits of having the top tier status publicly available for any given airline, and it paid off. As of typing this report [I am still in the middle of the first return ticket in Vancouver], I was upgraded to business class on the outbound from JFK to HKG on both itineraries! How did this happen? In short, I had a few things going for me:

  • Top tier status with a partnering airline with Cathay Pacific, American Airline's Executive Platinum;
  • Open availability in business class;
  • Loading [capacity] status for other cabins; and
  • A little luck
There has only been one significant time where I booked a flight intended to fly in the cabin I paid for, and got upgraded. It was a one-way Emirates Business class ticket from Dubai to Bangkok, and they upgraded me to First Class without any notice. That was December 2016. Actually, it happened when I was flying economy with Japan Airlines, and was upgraded to Premium Economy back in April 2016.

Luck, or specifically, "it depends" as I was told by the desk agent, plays a factor here. Only after all the Cathay Pacific member upgrades were exhausted [the usual instruments to upgrade are status, voucher, miles, or purchase], and there are open business seats remaining, then there would be the opportunity for any remaining partnered members could be upgraded. And that is with the knowledge I currently have learned, who knows what other variables come into play!

In any event, I am about to catch the second return itinerary. For all the trips I missed to post last calendar year, I may use them as content for throwback or the uniqueness aspect of the post. I want to thank everyone for their support as I progress in this entrepreneurial journey and here is to the next year.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gili Air - Entry 005

Greetings from the skies! I am in transit from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo. Finishing up this nice little report on an old birthday gift I finally got to strut. 


Fashion: I was fortunate for last year's birthday, a close mate and colleague bought me a shirt from Jared Lang, a luxury brand based out of Miami. I had never heard of the brand before, and was more than shocked and grateful for the gift. The sad part is, since it is such a bright color, I could not wear it during mid-autumn, let alone the winter. Over a year later, it is nearly winter again, so I thought sporting it at an international locale was a brilliant idea...more so I did not have a chance to wear it altogether. I wanted to save it for a special occasion.



Jared Lang design

The colors are quite loud, which I enjoy! If one would have met me five to six years ago, they would have never caught me in this shirt. Let alone seven years ago when I first moved to New York City, and definitely never before that in California. Those with a conservative appeal may look elsewhere, yet do not completely dismiss it! I suppose the moral is this:

One's style builds over time, and that was one of the best aspects I love about starting this business. To properly research, document, and showcase for anyone that is finding their own style and needs a little guidance or push along the way.

Anyhow, behind the cuffs and the collar, are contrasting black designs. I love this particular detail as it gives depth to the shirt. I am happy to see more customization among off-the-peg clothing that normally would be offered as additional complimentary customization on a shirt. Some examples are cuff and collar design, buttonhole threading, and so on.


Jared Lang shirt, Versace sunglasses, and swim trunks from Thailand

Travel: The point-of-interest for me was one of three islands off of Lombok island, all east of Bali, Indonesia. Specifically, Gili Air - the middle sized island of the three, closest to Lombok, and overall appealing to all types travelers looking to "get away." The other two islands are known for partying [Gili Trawangan], and living the local life in a small and quaint manner [Gili Meno], though all three generate profits via tourism.



View of the beach during a morning run

The biggest tip I can give about getting to the islands is time tables. Though it may seem apparent, are the different time tables for going to and from the islands. The time frame of the time tables, however, is quite limited. That is, people can come from Bali [as I did] or Lombok. Yet the boats leaving from Bali only depart in the mornings. Coming back is different too, thus, one may consider to cushion a day for departure from the islands. The boat company I took and was quite pleased with was Blue Water Express. The company picks up from your location in Bali; however, the reservation must have been made before 18:00 that day. They provide complimentary water on the boat and sell beer as well.


Uniqueness: An unfortunate turn of event is one of the businesses, H2O Yoga & Meditation Center, caught on fire my last night there as of 2017 November 17. Thankfully, it was only a single building, and the fire appeared to not have spread elsewhere. Since I departed so early the next morning, I was unable to ask precisely what happened, yet their healthy bowls are really good! Definitely try them out if in town, though they take a moment to prepare. You can blame the island lifestyle if anything [insert witty comment here].


Building the morning after

Dragonfruit bowl!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Singapore - Entry 004

Good morning from Saigon!


I know there has been quite the hiatus here on FashionTraveled, so I appreciate the readers' patience as we, some readers and I, have discussed my strive for consistency in this aspect of life. Without further ado, here I go.

Fashion: I am fortunate to have found a seat during Singapore Fashion Week 2017 [SGFW]. Granted, the show I attended was women's fashion, I believe as a true connoisseur, one would be supportive in nearly all aspects of fashion. A little history, Singapore Fashion Week has been around since 2001, yet only since 2015 it has returned with a larger scope and scale to have a broader reach.


Sporting the following legacy* wear:

Jacket: Ted Baker - I was fortunate to buy the blazer as a standalone at the Camarillo Outlet in Camarillo, California.

Shirt & Trousers: Uniqlo - Generally my go-to when I need something slim-fitting and extremely affordable.

Tie: Indochino

Pocket SquareCoutourist

Shoes: Paul Stuart

*Note that if I stated "legacy," by any piece of menswear or outfit, the company no longer sells it sadly. There may be things that come close, yet nothing replicated I have seen in recent years.

The show I saw featured two designers as a two-segment: LING WU and GINLEE
Some unique details I noticed in my first southeast fashion week:
  • As stated above, SGFW recently received a facelift only as of 2015. Thus, when discussing with locals, they were unaware of the ongoing show, or reported the show caters towards a niche of an audience;
  • The venue was at the National Gallery Singapore, a massive display of art, the fourth floor was makeshift to be a runaway with bleacher-like seating for the audience. As a logistical observation, it was a pity how narrow the runway was because the models themselves were poised and professional. Yet at the turn of the catwalk, they constantly had to avoid bumping each other which broke the natural flow of the show. Again, a logistical point, yet quite obvious;
  • Though my time was limited in Singapore, I wanted to bring attention to the menswear designer, DEBONEIRE, showcasing during SGFW. I had already departed the country before the show respectively, but I still wanted to acknowledge as this is one of the primary focuses I search for in my posts - Menswear.


The National Gallery Singapore - Altered for the Event



GINLEE final run through


Travel: In terms of Singapore itself - Arriving is quite easy. The country is known for its strict laws, the most pressing on my mind as I am writing this, is the need for at least six months of validity on any given passport. This is a requirement of Singapore as a nation. My mate traveling with me was shy of being at six months, and let's say he got in and out successfully without any fines. In short, do not risk it and check your passport's validity. For whatever it is worth, it was the first time traveling with someone with limited experience traveler and I knew my passport was valid! Now I know to check everyone else if ever with others. You live, you learn.

Arriving late at night [01:00 in the morning], the best option and most economical to get into the city, is the city shuttle. It is only 9$ SGD per person, they drop off at major hotels downtown which a list could be found here, and they take credit card! If one does take the city shuttle - Either remember to ask where the shuttle is, or when reaching one end of terminal 1, you shall see a small booth describing transportation options and kiosks in front of two sets of lift. Both are on the right side. Beyond the lifts, is a sliding automatic door, and outside is where the city shuttle meets. Do not be fooled like I was! Downstairs are different types of bus services, such as public, shuttles, and service vehicles.


This wraps up my brief report on SGFW. I hope by the event, I will have more menswear opportunity and options. Currently in Saigon, there are many tailors that can create custom-made clothing; however, I have too little time this trip. In fact, I should have still made the clothes, and came back eventually since I have family here. Until next time!

Friday, June 16, 2017

東京 [Tokyo], Zagreb, and Paris - Entry 003

Greetings from Boracay in the Philippines!


I want to first and foremost give thanks and appreciation to all those that have viewed, read, shared, even glanced or skimmed my website!!! It means a lot to me, and I want to continue to turnout great material that is worth reading and valuable to others.

I have concluded thus far, that between my trips, I shall develop posts that are catered to answering Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs] about fashion, travel, and so on. These shall supplement the actual trips since I am far from being sponsored of the sort.

Another point I would like to add is all the hyperlinked website are directly to explained websites respectively. There are no ads, nor do I feel I shall ever allow them to be here. I do not make any money from your clicking on the links, so please click away! If anything changes, I shall absolutely state and share for transparency purposes.

I decided to include a map of the crazy flight path of what I took during Spring Break 2017. Map is courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.


JFK>NRT>DOH>ZAG>IST>CAI>CDG>JFK

What I have learned [and knew in the back of my head], is I talk way too much. Therefore, I am working on getting to the heart of these posts - The content. Therefore, the trip reports will be a bit longer, but the posts in between shall be sweet and concise.

In terms of Japan, it is my favorite country to re-visit. It definitely has a lot of "playback value" not for only Tokyo; moreover, the country as a whole. Thus, you can find me in Japan every year, and potentially multiple times in any given year!


Fashion: The every day menswear is actually quite conservative, especially business attire. Black is the way to go, and they are simple suits. Two to three buttons, single-breasted, white shirts, very little color in the tie, and black dress shoes. Coming from the United States where navy has become a conservative palette that allows some color, it was quite boring! However, blending in, I found ways to make the seemingly typical Japanese style of suiting up - In my case, a black double-breast suit by Indochino, black double monk strap shoes by Paul Stuart, and of course, colored socks, tie, and pocket square. Blending in while still standing out!


Photo Credit: Maggie

Flights: In terms of the flights, I was fortunate that I had a majority of points to utilize, yet I paid for some of the flights as well! Since some of the flights were last-minute, they were as "good" as they could be. When contemplating whether to use miles or points verses purchasing, one needs to see if the routing and time spent is any better. In short, if miles do not get you where and when you need to be - It is probably better to buy a more direct path. With that being said, the following are the costs in terms of miles and money:

  • John F. Kennedy to Narita; in Japan Airlines first class; one-way - 80,000 American Airlines [AA] miles and 5,00$ USD in taxes
  • Narita to Doha to Zagreb; in Qatar Airways business class; one-way - 75,000 American Airlines [AA] miles and 37,30$ USD in taxes
  • Zagreb to Istanbul to Cairo; in Turkish Airlines economy class; one-way - 303,32€
  • Cairo to Charles de Gaulle/Orly to John F. Kennedy; in Air France business class; return ticket [round trip] - 1.381,67$ USD

Uniqueness: What I wanted to start doing was offering my experiences on approaching airports and where to go. I can only imagine countless times from asking for assistance and being strong-headed, attempting to winging it on my own - We need guidance sometimes! Therefore, if given the opportunity [preferably rehearsed - though I suppose I can edit], I shall add videos of airport walkthroughs. In this case, flying into Zagreb!


Arrivals Edition: Zagreb Airport [ZAG]

Anyhow, that wraps up this trip back in April 2017!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Question & Answers - Entry 002

Greetings from Southern California!

Since introduced to traveling in a loyal manner, my obsession for flying has taken off exponentially. Whether it is for holiday, academics, or the seldom business trip - People notice! Once people notice, they consider you a resource. This is not only pertaining to travel, but anything that takes form in one's life, and observable by others.

With that being said, I have decided [for now] to posts between my trip experiences answering the most important questions: Your questions! My beloved audience and will remind myself that I am always writing for my audience - The every day person that wants to travel more, and for those of the menswear persuasion, how to do so in a fashionable sense. As of now, here are the following questions I have received recently:

Question, do you have experience with those online custom dress shirts?
-Mark 2017 May 06


Which travel credit card would you recommend to have for earn[ing] miles as well as to have?

-Anonymous 2017 May 08


Why [would I want to hold off on using credit card points to purchase a desired flight, as oppose to transferring to] who is their partnered compan[ies, or something else altogether]?

-Jeanne 2017 May 07

All excellent questions with varying degrees of answers and segue into deeper aspects respectively. Let's jump right in:
  • Answering Mark's question - I was first referred to Indochino by a close colleague [and grateful to call a friend] Boggs. A scholar and gentlemen, his style exudes truly of an English gentlemen. He turned me onto Indochino, a Canadian-based company in making made-to-measure (MTM) suits. Personally, I have turned over a leaf to a New York City-based company called Black Lapel. In either case, my experience was exponentially better once I was measured with one of their personnel. Exceptionally difficult if one lives outside a city where a pop up shop resides; however, this is far from the only companies that offer such services. In fact, if one has ample time, they could have the entire process done in a foreign country, and a lot quicker as well! One example was in Shanghai, China. I had two two-piece suits done in two days! Personally, I think the best aspect is to be measured by said company's employees; otherwise, grab known good measurements from a tailor you do have, and apply appropriately. Of course, results may vary, yet it was monumentally better than taking a tape measurer, fooling and convincing myself I knew precisely what I was doing.

    Black Lapel's Customization Options
  • Before diving into answering our anonymous person's question, I first want to admit - Yes, I do have a plethora of credit cards. In fact, I have the following:
    • Three [3] business cards;
    • Four [4] regular or consumer cards;
    • Two [2] cards where I am an authorized user; and
    • Three [3] checking accounts
      The biggest takeaway is - What do you want or expect out of your credit card? 

      For 
      people starting out in credit card game, I think generic points provided by the card's program is the most flexible. The reason is, if anyone gets an airline's credit card, they can earn miles only with that airline! Granted there are exceptions of how these airline miles can be utilized, yet we shall save that for another time. My favorite to discuss are the following cards in alphabetical order and their reward programs respectively:
      • Chase Sapphire Preferred [Visa] - Chase Ultimate Rewards - 99$ USD annual fee; and
      • Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express - Membership Rewards - 195$ USD annual fee
        Now do not go applying for these cards immediately! Please research and ask questions beforehand, and avoid rushing into things. Also, it should be mentioned that the above cards are issued in the United States. As I have learned recently from international sources - International credit card programs are far less lucrative compared to those of the United States. Therefore,
        I promise to do my best to balance out the content and not go "credit card crazy" as this is the purpose and uniqueness for this information - For the every day person! People that may not have an abundance of credit utilization to apply for cards. Instead, to strategically go about different methodologies to find those desired flights, deals, and trips we want.
        Using Membership Reward Points to Transfer to a Partner



        Using Membership Rewards to Purchase a Flight Directly
  • Lastly, this ties in with what was mentioned earlier. Jeanne was inquiring about whether to use her points on her Chase Sapphire Preferred to purchase the flight or not. Or at the very least, an explanation why. In short, the dollar value the program reports it gains an "extra value," is marginally worth it. In fact, the actual dollar value verses the points used to pay through the program's flight portal is less at times! Therefore, it ultimately depends on what is the objective or goal one wants to attempt with said credit cards. Most people, including yours truly, transfer points from a card's program to a desired airline partner.

    Ultimate Rewards Dashboard upon Login
I want to thank everyone for this terribly long post! Much appreciation for those that made it to the end. I shall mention it again, yet all the links are the public versions of the websites discussed respectively. It shall always be in the interest of the audience when they are clicking on something that garners an advantage over everyone else. Otherwise, stay tuned to the next post, as it shall be about my crazy flights back in April to Asia and back from New York City using a combination of points and money! As per usual, please feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Madrid - Entry 001

Greetings from Japan! Welcome to the inaugural post of a blog centered around fashion (menswear specifically), travel, and other tidbits that assist the every day traveler, in a meaningful way.

As of now, we shall discuss the topics in the following manner:

  • Fashion - What is being brought, and trends are at the destination. If fortunate, some of the local menswear may be featured if I can get my hands on them!
  • Travel - Methodologies as to how I got about searching/booking flights, accommodations, and so on.


A note on flights - In my limited experience thus far, there is no "secret" to finding, and not limited to the following:
  • Cheap, last-minute flights;
  • A particular day to buy flights; or
  • A flight from point A to point B at the precise time and price desired.

The take away - My life is incredibly flexible to travel the way I do. If your life is unable to accommodate the strategies discussed here, that is okay! Perhaps something you read shall trigger an idea elsewhere or for something else. Or you may dislike what is written altogether. Regardless, this has to do with what pieces of wisdom I can provide from my experiences. With that being said, let's move onto the first destination!


Destination: Madrid, Spain - Kudos to Andy for all the recommendations!
Outbound: 31 March 2017
Return: 03 April 2017
Cost of Flight: 430,86$ USD with American Airlines
Accommodations: HostelWorld; CouchSurfing

Packed: As of now, I travel with strictly carry-on luggage. It is the only way to fly! Passing through immigration, and walking right out of the airport, who wouldn't want that?! In any event, I carry Ghurka's Express No. 2 and Vocier's C38. I normally carry at least one two-piece suit, or a combination of a blazer and two different pants. My dress shirts are generally custom made, with some off-the-peg. When I am lazy and need something last-minute, Uniqlo is my go-to. I have slim fitting clothing at my disposal.


FlightsSince I knew I had only the weekend, Europe was my plan of action since there are more frequent flights there, a shorter flight time that Asia, and more desirable than anything in the Caribbean [because I was feeling more adventure than beach] and South America [because of excessive connections]. I looked for flights the night of Monday, March 27th using Flights GoogleWhat did I do? Under the "Where to?" section, I simply typed "Europe." [You can be more specific by typing "Western Europe"]. I looked at the results, and noticed Madrid and Barcelona had sub 450$ fares, so I further changed the search from "Europe" to "Spain," and viola, I found multiple destinations within Spain that were of the similar pricing of 450$ return ticket [I shall always describe flights as "return" or "round trip" unless stated otherwise]. It was a matter of finding the dates and flights that best fit my schedule. And that was it? Hardly! My personal preference is always to find the flights via Google Flights, and then book flights directly with the airline carrier. Why? If there is ever a hiccup in travel scheduling, the airline is responsible [to a certain degree] to ensure you get where you need to go. When booking through an Online Travel Agency [OTA] such as Expedia or Orbitz, there could potentially be a back-and-forth of contacting the OTA, the airline, and possibly more when your travels face unforeseen circumstances.

Fashion: Upon arriving, I was fortunate that I had a non-native local, Julianne, show me around. It was interesting to note, that she stated how obvious it was Madrid's current fashion is stuck in an 1980s, grunge, leather facade. We are talking leather jackets with spikes, tight jeans or leather pants even.

"Circular sunglasses new big, it's kind of a mix of 1980s and hipster. Malasaña is like the center for that kind of style, but you can find it all over the city" - Julianne

Now, is this the statement Madrid, let alone Spain has to make in 2017? Who knows. It was worth mentioning as it was an observation made and noticed quickly if you find yourself wanting to settle or live in Madrid. In terms of the fashion opportunities to buy in Madrid, the central area where I was, Sol [which is "sun" in English], has all the typical shops originating from the United States and other countries in Europe. What was more interesting are the smaller shops and boutiques that Madrid had to offer. As it turns out, there was insufficient time to visit. The good news is, I can report where some of them are thanks to Julianne! If it were me personally, I would have looked in the neighborhood of Salamanca, as that is "the more upscale neighborhood that tends to be a bit more posh" since it matches my style. The streets we passed by quickly with such boutiques are Calle de la Palma and Calle Espíritu Santo.

Accommodations: Lastly, I have a little sequence of how I got about finding accommodations to the destinations I visit. In general, I check on CouchSurfing - Think a combination of AirBnb and Craigslist with an eBay rating system, HostelWorld - What feels like an amalgamation of every hostel that exists in the world, and a series of hotel chains, depending on status, credit cards, deals, and so on. I was fortunate to book a good deal via HostelWorld, but then last-minute, someone was willing to host me on CouchSurfing, which I was, and always eternally grateful. At a later date, I shall go into the details of accommodations.


Shoutouts:
  • Andy - @techdesco: For giving me tips for my first time it in Madrid. Loved the food recommendations!
  • Julianne - @julianne.hall: For being a fantastic guide to her beloved city and what she calls home. To give the local experience and simply incorporate me into her every day life...when she is not busy!
Cheers for reading my first post! There shall be more to come as the weeks go by, as I feel I should write them when abroad, or when there is a nice little lull in time. Please post comments or questions below, as I want to get a feel to write to you all, the audience! Sure, there are some aspects I maintain because I have a particular vision. At the end, I am writing to get the details out there to my audience and people that inquire about my travels!