When I saw Justin sitting at the same table with Tom Ford at the iHeartRadio music awards over the weekend, I kind of immediately knew that this blue suit came from Mr. Ford. Google then told me that I was right.
Mr. Ford is my inspiration. His men’s clothing are pretty much impeccable and right up my street; in fact, one of my life-long dreams is owning something Tom Ford. But I’m not happy at all with how he dressed Justin for the night, especially when it was the Justin’s night.
This shade of blue is cheesy and has never looked good for a suit as far as I’m concerned, the fabric looks shoddy, and the fit is poor. Seriously, the entire look gives off a very strong prom vibe. Justin is talented and handsome and has been working with you for a long time, Mr. Ford; he deserves something that makes him look every inch the superstar that he is. Am I right?
First, I truly want his bod. By that I mean I want mine to look like his. I don’t want his bod in the same way Jennifer Aniston does, just in case any of you is misunderstanding. Those veins…
Second, his effortless, no-fuss style is growing on me fast. He understands that a well-fitted t-shirt, a pair of black skinny denim AND a great pair of suede boots are all it takes to turn heads. I can definitely see myself emulate this outfit when I head to the airport this weekend.
However, Justin, if you ever read this, please forgive me. I know you didn’t do it on purpose; those wicked paparazzi are to blame. The sole reason I’m doing what I’m about to do is that I just want everyone, regardless of race and gender and sexual orientation and profession, to be extra vigilant when wearing a t-shirt too short or pants too low-slung. Or better yet, just avoid them altogether.
You are always welcome to give us a peek of your Calvins. (And I appreciate that they are in black. Very authentic you.) But I, for one, would rather you didn’t direct our gaze to your buttock cleavage.
When Nick doesn’t grab his crotch in public, I have a feeling we all are going to have a good, productive week.
I don’t know for sure why it took me so long to tell you guys that I’m intrigued by Mark Ronson’s whimsical style. It’s not like I just learned about him yesterday. I know who he is and what he does for living; his music has been sitting in my iTunes library for a long time.
The only plausible explanation I could come up with is that I used to be so rigid and unadventurous and not fun that I stayed away from everything that would challenge my tendency to conform. I just wanted to be accepted and loved by everyone around me, you know. However, I have changed. And I now find wackiness (within reason) very endearing.
Anyway, if you aren’t familiar with Mark, no one can fault you. Though he has been working in the music industry for decades, he mostly produces and DJs. Which means you don’t see him show up frequently on MTV or Billboard Hot 100 chart. (But as I type this, he’s currently No.1 on the chart with Bruno Mars. Check out Uptown Funk if you haven’t. It’s quite groovy.) And although he’s professed to be an ardent follower of fashion, he doesn’t attend that many fashion shows and so doesn’t get photographed by fashion magazines and blogs often.
Don’t mistake lack of mainstream popularity for lack of success, though; he has excelled in both roles. Mark has three Grammys under his belt and has been consistently voted as one of the most stylish men in the UK (he was the most in 2009).
(The following tidbit is completely superfluous, but I will just go ahead and put it in here for…no reason. Name dropping, maybe? You remember Lindsay Lohan (it’s okay if you don’t. She kinda, sorta, basically, pretty much should be forgotten) and that period when she went crazy town and dated Samantha Ronson? Samantha is Mark’s younger sister and a DJ, too. That’s all the dirt I’ve got for you guys. LOL)
Here is the thing: I’m not necessarily obsessed with everything that Mark has worn. I will in all likelihood never wear pink suit, leopard print blazer or dye my hair platinum at any point in my life. But I’m very appreciative of the messages that his style communicates. That it’s perfectly fine for a man to be interested in fashion and it’s important to develop your distinctive style. People will either love it or hate it; it’s their business.
Also, and this is awesome: he wears a lot of Topman stuff. Proof that we don’t need a closet full of designer clothing to dress well.
Alright, preamble done. Let’s see what you need if you want to emulate his style.
1. Extreme color suits
When it comes to suits, Mark makes all the style icons we have discussed here (except for Lapo Elkann) pale in comparison. Wearing a single clothing item in one of these colors is already brave; wearing an entire suit in pink or metallic bronze is…just ballsy.
What I want you to do is not running to the nearest store to get one of these. I want you to sit back and think extra carefully whether one of these colors makes you feel like yourself. The last thing I would want for any of you is pretending to be someone you are not.
2. Less extreme color suits
These colors, on the other hand, are much safer. You can try if you want to. I approve.
3. Full-on nutty blazers
You know, while I will never consider putting any of these blazers on my body (and neither will you!), I really, really want to touch them. They are so tactile.
When I visited Myanmar last month, I did not go anywhere off the tourist trail. I started with Bagan, then made my way down to Inle Lake, and wrapped it up in Yangon. I did not do much research prior to the trip, but that itinerary turned out to be quite sensible as the first two places, with their bucolic beauty and simplicity of life, gave me a smooth introduction to the country that would stir up a lot of mixed emotions in me.
Of those three places, I stayed in Inle Lake the longest. From the beginning up to one day after I arrived, I felt quite unsure about my decision to spend that amount of time there because unlike Bagan, which is unanimously praised, Inle seems to be a polarizing destination. I met and talked to a fair share of travelers who even skipped it entirely. People from my own country who had visited said it is not as impressive as some of our natural lakes while people from other parts of the world flat-out dismissed it as “just a lake”.
On my first day, I took a cookie-cutter boat tour with two lovely French ladies I met at my hotel and a Brazilian guy. It felt really great to be on the lake, inhaling fresh air again after so much dust in Bagan and seeing local fishermen row their canoes with one leg. But I wish we had not been taken to so many tourist-geared souvenir shops. My companions were interesting, and we have great conversations about travels, relationships, and marriage (as I type this, I realize that from now on, I need to shut up. What do I even know about marriage?)
However, by the end of that day, Inle still did not quite capture my heart.
It was not until the following day when I stopped expecting to be wowed by everything and started immersing myself more in the normal Inle that I felt head over heels for its charms.
This is by no means a complete guide to Inle Lake. I did not eat well there, so I cannot tell you what and where you should eat. There are things I missed either because I did not know about them at that time or I simply did not have the financial wherewithal. Like, Kakku Pagodas and Inn Dein Pagoda, both of which, according to people who went, are “absolutely beautiful” or “out of this world”.
However, in sharing this, I hope that when you find yourself in Inle or really any place for that matter and do not “get” it at first, just remain patient. Take it slow. Give it time to grow on you.
Sometimes the beauty of a place lies in its majestic natural sceneries, right in front of you. Other times, it is a bit hidden, but still right around the corner if you look.
Without further ado, here are what I love most about Inle.
1. The village life simplicity
Biking around different villages and observing local people go about their businesses made me feel like I was stepping back in time. I know you might hear that description of Myanmar before and find it trite, but it is true.
I would be lying if I said my heart did not sink a little at what I saw. I wonder how better their lives would be if they had more access to basic necessities such as electricity and clean water. They would have fans to fend off the heat on scorching hot days. They would not have to brush their teeth, bath, wash their clothes and cook using the same river water. The children would spend their afternoons hanging out at school instead of collecting trashes.
Why is their government so screwed up that it can let its people live in such poverty?
However, whenever those thoughts began to overwhelm me, I was reminded by those very villagers that life can be full of hardships, but there is no need to be feel miserable and resentful. Joy can still be found through teasing your bath-mates or playing chinlone with your friends.
2. The chaotic but delightful morning market in Nyaungshwe
Before Myanmar, I did not know that I still have the ability to love exploring morning markets.
Born and raised in Vietnam and currently living right next to an open-air market, I know what it is all about. Everyday at 5.30 in the morning, I am waken up by the strident sounds of roosters’ crowing, dogs’ barking, honking, and people’s shouting.
When I first moved back to Vietnam after a long time in the States, I hated going to morning markets with a burning passion. The noise, the smell, the vendors’ attitudes, the lack of personal space…every grocery errand felt like a battle. There are plenty of supermarkets of course, but in Vietnam wise shoppers rarely go there. Everything is marked up and usually not as fresh.
However, I loved visiting morning markets in Myanmar. The morning market in Inle had such a powerful effect on me; it pulled me back everyday.
It was not the jarring yet fascinating cacophony of sights, smell, and sounds there that made me go eyes wide open because I think it is a given at any morning or night market around the world. It was not the products there, either because I did not buy anything.
What made me come back again and again were the hospitality and curiosity of the vendors. At no point did they show me and my camera the hostility that I had previously encountered in some countries (my own included) when trying to photograph things.
When this cabbage lady got a heads-up from the vendors sitting close to her that I was probably taking her photos, she waved and gave me the widest grin and even tried to pose. I love this shot most as I feel that she was really in her work mode.
I cannot tell you what these are for because I have absolutely no idea. These young girls put these up and stood like that for about 3 minutes before they took them all down and never put them back on again. It was truly serendipitous that I managed to be there and captured the scene. This is the only shot I have; the moment was so fleeting that I did not have a second chance.
It’s hard to believe that this happened almost six years ago when I was at the young and innocent age of 19. I didn’t know anything about myself and the world then. I would not even have known that this beautiful place exists if it had not been for my friend, even though I had been living in San Francisco for close to 3 months.
Now, this is a REAL treat. Our week has just got seriously better, correct?
Three things I do not understand, though:
1. The beard. My theory is he just recently signed on to be the face of a company that produces beard growth products.
2. The white towel or t-shirt or whatever it is on his head. I feel like these days he is intentionally making himself look less hot than he actually is.
3. His wash-board abs. Jesus Christ, he is pushing 40 already. I am half his age, and despite a hell lot of dieting and exercising, my abs are still flabby. Life is CRUEL.
You guys. At this rate, I might be going insane soon.
Since coming back from Myanmar about two weekends ago, I have been writing pretty much every day. And it has been super hard!
Words do not come to me naturally. I do not know if they ever will, as I am not a native speaker. It also does not help that the kind of writing I am doing now is not the light-hearted, fluffy kind. I am writing about my travels. Which, I have realized, destroys my brain cells FAST.
However, since I will be traveling throughout April, this blog would be a ghost town if I did not finish all the writing before I leave. And when I come back, there will be a mountain load of things about Africa, Europe, and the US. Which means I would never ever finish sharing with you guys my trip to the incredible Myanmar, the top three travel experiences of my life so far. And there are also Lanyu- the most gorgeous island I have been to, Lisbon- the city that I do not particularly love but profoundly affected me, Paris in the winter…all of which happened ages ago. I feel awful that they are still in the need-to-talk-about pile.
Bottom line is I am stressed.
And you know how I cope with the stress? Looking at what Eddie Redmayne and David Beckham wear.
Let’s see what David recently wore:
Everything fits so well, but it is too black to my liking. My biggest problem, though, is the beard. This arctic beard does his handsomeness no favor. And imagine how weird it would be for Victoria when they make out.
Stepping off the overnight JJ Express bus after close to almost 24 hours of traipsing airports and bus stations, I was greeted by a mob of boisterous men. It was around 4.30AM, and in the early morning darkness their faces were hardly recognizable. I could see, however, that they all had some kind of jacket on up top and traditional Burmese longyis below. It was chilly. I did not know how long they had been waiting there and whether they had slept at all during the night, but their persistence and vigor with which they asked us passengers if we wanted a ride to our hotels made it clear that they were very physically and mentally ready to work.
Groggy and confused, I barely registered the surroundings and different offers thrown my way before I found myself sharing a taxi with a Swiss guy for 5,000 kyats per person (Burmese currency, roughly US$5). It was surely cheaper than if I had gone on my own, but it could have been even much less if I had activated my bargaining mode sooner. Just like their counterparts in neighboring countries, Burmese drivers will attempt to overcharge you. But unlike their aggressive and overworked counterparts in places like Thailand or Vietnam, Burmese drivers are more amicable and willing to compromise, and oftentimes they will eventually agree to your price as long as it is not outrageously low.
That, for me, is one of the loveliest things about traveling in Burma. Even when two parties cannot agree on a final figure, one will not try to make the other feel like he has just acted like an a-hole.
As the car rolled onward, I smelled a pervasive and pungent smell of what I assumed to be burning leaves. It might have been that of burnt trashes. I never got around finding out what it really was, even though I was in the depth of it every morning and evening when I biked back and forth between my hotel and the temples. The only thing I know for sure is that it truly turned Bagan into a multi-sensory experience.
When the taxi driver dropped me off at my hotel, he suggested that I should go see the sunrise, one of Bagan’s most famous “specialities”. I shrugged off his suggestion, saying I was too tired while in fact, I was just skeptical of the hype. I checked in my room and surfed the net (get yourself ready for the super slowwwww internet in Burma!) before drifting off to sleep.
The next morning, I learned what skepticism had cost me:
For the rest of my stay, I would wake up at the ungodly hour of 4.30AM and pedaled my lungs out in darkness to Shwesandaw Temple, which, though always packed with people, offers unsurpassed views of the 2,000 and counting temples dotted across a sprawling dusty plain. Normally, I would always steer clear of overcrowded places, not because I consider myself superior to other tourists but because I cannot focus on my photography if I do not have some personal space.
Yet for the first time, I did not feel in the slightest degree inconvenienced by the crowd. There is something so magical and unifying about the sunrise and sunset in Bagan that makes you want to share them with as many people as possible. I am not sure if this always happens, but in my case the sun would receive a standing ovation from us watchers after it finished its job.