Yay or Nay: Colton Haynes in Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2015

Let’s start with something absolutely positive: Colton Haynes is a stud through and through. The masculine facial traits, the megawatt smile, and the washboard abs…I mean, who are we to complain?

Now, if you have been followed this site for a while, you know that I am all for men experimenting with unusual color choices. So I should be all over this coral or salmon or whatever color this suit is he wore to the premier of San Andreas a few days ago in LA.

The reality, however, is I am NOT. Despite the fact that he is a model, he is not quite selling this. At least to me.

I have a feeling his stylist made a miscalculated move regarding color and footwear choices. This color does not sit well with his tan, his buzz cut or his really masculine face. As for the black loafers, not only do they not go well with the suit color, but they are also melting into the black carpet. Which makes him appear shoeless from afar. If I ever were responsible for dressing Colton for public appearances, he would always be in something simple (but not simplistic) that accentuates his handsome manliness.

Colton, if that is what you want, get in touch with me via the contact page, okay?

Now if you all excuse me, I have to go out and get some salmon. Because this outfit is reminding me that I have not had salmon for a long time.

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Airport Dressing Lesson: Jason Statham at LAX

Jason-Statham-Flight-Jacket-Street-Style-2015-Picture

Have you guys seen Mad Max? I saw it last week, and it was so crazy good. I am usually not very into action-packed, apocalyptic type of blockbusters, but Mad Max’s storyline, the ferocity of Charlize Theron, the awesome-ness of Tom Hardy and Nicholas Hoult, the stunning landscape and visual effects…I mean, mind blown!

For me, a small surprise about the movie is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is in it. If you do not follow fashion, you might not be familiar with her. She is a famous British model, and is moonlighting as an actress. But to be perfectly honest, I feel like she has already been typecast. Like, she will always be in an action movie and play a character who is blonde and beautiful but lacks depth. She was in Transformers with Shia LaBeouf a few years ago, and her role is pretty similar to the one in Mad Max.

Anyway, she is Jason’s long-time girlfriend. When it comes to this pair, I have to borrow Julie Bowen’s words: they are “like a genetic explosion”.

(Julie said that about Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello. I adore Sofia, and of course, like the rest of the world, find her and Joe exceptionally stunning. But appearance-wise, Jason and Rosie are more to my liking. Something about Sofia and Joe intimidates me. Perhaps because both are very statuesque.)

Okay, back to Jason. He obviously is not known for being stylish, and I don’t think he gives a damn. But boy, he scored high on the airport dressing test last week.

The color combo is spot-on, the military green satin bomber is gorgeous, the Bottega Veneta carry-on is a total show-stopper. I even like the cap, which made him look really mysterious and badass and sexy. And even though I think the black slip-on sneakers are slightly too boyish for him, I have no problem. However, when I realized, upon closer inspection, that his pants are elevated sweatpants, I was bummed.

Why, Jason? Why? We all want to feel comfortable when flying, but you are an Englishman. Being classy is, like, part of your identity. How about replacing those sweatpants with chinos, just like your fellow countrymen David and Eddie usually do? They are just as comfy, but make you look infinitely better. Trust me!

Now, on to you guys. If you want to replicate this look, good news is summer sale has started. Try these Neil Barrett Blue Satin Bomber Jacket and Common Projects Black Perforated Leather Slip_on Sneakers 😉

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Your Monday Treat: David Gandy Out and About at Cannes

As far as formal wear goes, this is just absolutely exceptional. It makes his piercing blue eyes pop even more.

David Gandy has a special place in my heart.

He is one of my style heroes. I wrote about him since this blog was in its infancy.

When I finished the article confessing how obsessed I am with his style, his assistant shared it on his official Facebook page and Twitter, sending a lot of traffic to my little blog. And to date, that article is still one of my most favorite and popular.

Which means you guys are just as crazy about him as I am, so I promise, on this Memorial Day, that we will talk a lot more about him from now on.

And as far as airport dressing goes, this is simply GLORIOUS. I love the navy and brown combination; I guarantee it always works like a charm. On everyone. On every occasion. So jump on this bandwagon if you have not.

Well, I do not exactly hate this. I actually can live very happily with each part of this outfit, but only when it is on its own. Together…there is something off, don’t you think? Like, I feel kinda, sorta melancholy looking at it. Because too many neutral colors going on here? I dunno know, guys, but we still have to give it to David for 200% slaying the fit and proportion. He knows his bod well, and that is the lesson for all of us.

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Feeling 50 Shades of Blue in Chefchaouen

_DSC0323It is NOT really a stretch to say that this is the most colorful stairway in Morocco.

I know what you guys think about the title of this post. It is fine; I cannot fault you guys.

50 shades of something something is now the most overused Internet meme. But my not very creative brain seriously cannot come up with a more apt title because the city of Chefchaouen really is painted in so many different shades of blue. So, unlike 50 Shades of Grey, which has nothing to do with the grey color except for the last name of Mr. Christian, the title and content of this post match. So keep reading, I will introduce Mr. Christian Blue at the end 😀

(Caveat: I know almost nothing about 50 Shades of Grey, so the statement about grey above might be off-base. It is a joke, so give me a break if you happen to be obsessed with the novel or movie 😀)

I learned about Chefchaouen more than two years ago on my favorite travel blog, Legal Nomads, and was instantly captivated by its pleasing colors and old-world charms. I made a deal with myself that I would pay a visit if I ever found myself in Morocco.

As it turned out, coming there near the end was the wisest move I made in terms of traveling around the country. Not only was it remarkably beautiful, but it was also quite and calming and safe, giving me a much-needed peace of mind after all the craziness in Marrakech and Fes. I was able to wander aimlessly and photograph things without being disturbed and followed.

_DSC0319Such a lovely, unexpected pop of green.

The unique Chefchaouen perches on the Rif mountains of northern Morocco. Its history dates all the way back to the 14th century when a Muslim lord named Mulay Ali Ben Rachid chose it as a home base for himself and his Spanish wife, Zhora. Its sequestered location also helped ward off the influences of the Portuguese of Ceuta. The city, however, expanded in the following centuries due to the influx of Muslims and Jews expelled from Spain. Those Jewish refugees started painting their houses blue to honor their God and to keep mosquitoes at bay, as they believed blue had that ability. These days, Chefchaouen is inhabited mostly by Muslims, but fortunately they still keep this tradition of painting things blue alive.

_DSC0276Insane view from the terrace of Riad Baraka, where I stayed. This town is an ongoing explosion of colors.

(And for those of you who are interested, the city also offers plenty of weed. Unfortunately, I am not an authority on this area of getting high at all.)

Compared to that of Marrakech and of Fes, the medina of Chaouen (yes, you can also call it this way!) is much smaller and thus easier to navigate. Sellers are in general polite and respectful, both of which, I am telling you, are two sought-after qualities in Morocco. In the three days that I was there, I did not come across any sleazy, scammy con artist. Which, to me at that time, felt like a miracle.

Now, as promised, here is Chefchaouen in its glorious 50 shades of blue.

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Hot Stuff: Colin Farrell in Dolce & Gabbana at Cannes

colinferrel

YOU GUYS. Am I the only one who notices this?

Both Colin Farrell and Matthew McConaughey are advertising for Dolce & Gabbana, yet somehow Colin always gets better (i.e. well-fitted, less absurd colors) suits? Are Domenico and Stefano playing favorites? Is Colin’s stylist simply better and more loyal than Matthew’s stylist? Or is it just because Colin is so handsome that he can make whatever he is wearing looks better than it actually does? WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON?

For now, all I know for sure is Colin looks too good for a 40-year old father of two. Yes, there is such a thing as looking too good.

"The Lobster" Photocall - The 68th Annual Cannes Film FestivalIt looks even better from this angle. Why does Matthew never get to wear suits like this???

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Slayed It: Wiz Khalifa in Emporio Armani at 2015 Billboard Music Awards

It’s hard for me to have positive feelings about someone who penetrates the same person Kayne West used to penetrate, but today I must give credit to where credit is due.

Wiz Khalifa absolutely killed it on the BMA red-carpet this past weekend; I’d go so far to say he was the best-dressed man of the night. Everything on him is pretty much perfection, including his fuck-off facial expression. His Emporio Armani is MAGICAL because it fits him so well and makes the skinny Wiz Khalifa, which is not exactly very suit-friendly, completely disappear. Instead, we see someone who is tall and slender and confident. I don’t know who made those white sneakers, but I appreciate them on Khalifa so much.

Khalifa, your stylist deserves a raise 😉

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Meh Alert: Matthew McConaughey in Dolce & Gabbana at Cannes

Matthew-McConaughey-The-Sea-of-Trees-Cannes-Photocall-Dolce-Gabbana-2015-Picture-001Albert Einstein said: “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Today, The Confused Dasher would like to impart that pearl of wisdom, though a wee bit altered, to Matthew McConaughey:

“Insanity is wearing Dolce & Gabbana over and over again and expecting to look good or dashing or whatever.”

The collaboration has run its course. Get out, McConaughey!!!

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WTF Alert: Nick Jonas in Kenzo at 2015 Billboard Music Awards

Well, this is just really, really heart-breaking.

My heart always aches so bad whenever I see someone try and try and try and try and still NOT succeed. Unfortunately, this has been the case with Nick who is clearly very interested in fashion but keeps floundering on the red-carpet front. For some reason.

I do not think we need to dissect why this is an epic fail. The photos really do say it all.

I am just utterly confused who is to blame. Kenzo for giving it to his stylist? Or his stylist for not having Nick’s best interests at heart? Or Nick himself for not looking into the mirror? Or Olivia Culpo for letting her boyfriend get out of the house in this?

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5 Practical Tips I Wish I Had Known Before Visiting Morocco

What never disappoints in Morocco: landscape!

During my time traveling through Morocco, there was more than one occasion when I questioned whether it was the “wrong” destination for me and if I should cut my losses and move on. I was traveling for an extended period of time, so I did not want one country to drain all my energy.

As I look back on my experience, I feel grateful that nothing truly bad happened to push me over the edge.  I also have realized that there are a few external factors that kind of work against Morocco; it was not entirely the country’s fault that I did not enjoy it to the fullest.

One is my preceding trips were Taiwan and Burma where the kindness of the people was so unreal. The benchmark has been set.

Another is I did not do sufficient pre-trip research about the country to understand the difficulties that a solo traveler might encounter. I wish someone had knocked on my head and reminded me that Morocco is culturally very different from all other countries I had been to.

When telling family and friends back home about the trip, the question I got asked most often was if I regret having visited Morocco. After all, there are a lot of other countries with beautiful sceneries and genuine people. My answer is a resounding NO!

While my time there was not perfect, I did get to see some of the most surreal sights and meet really lovely travelers whom I still keep in touch with. What I would have done differently, however, is reading a little bit more carefully about the potential challenges to know how to handle them.

So for all soon-to-be first-timers to Morocco, I hope this guide is helpful :)

#1: Do NOT trust strangers who come up to you and offer their help

I contemplated hard whether to put this advice in the open, because I do not want to spread negative ideas about a country around the Internet. But after what happened to me and to people I spoke with, I have decided to stand by my judgment. Of course there are exceptions to every rule; not everyone in Morocco who offers to help you has ulterior motives. BUT, you really need to err on the side of caution when you are in Morocco.

_DSC0958Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa is legendary. But be careful; if an old lady suddenly grabs your hand and start painting it, she is sure as hell going to make you pay!

After an uneventful 3-hour flight (but full of rambunctious children) from Paris, I landed in Marrakech Menara Airport. From there to my hostel (Hostel Waka Waka, which I will review in a separate post), it was a 20-minute taxi ride that cost 100 Moroccan dirhams (roughly 10 euros). As the hostel is located inside the car-free medina (old town), I was dropped off at one of the gate entrances that, according to the taxi driver, was only 5 minutes walk from the hostel.

The Medina of Marrakech is a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys that are fun to explore and get lost in…theoretically. It becomes more of a nuisance when you are worn out from all the traveling, and especially if you are followed. With no map and a no-internet iPhone in hands, I went into a restaurant and asked the waiter how to get to Waka Waka. I left with some straightforward enough directions and…an unwanted follower.

He followed me all the way inside the medina and pestered me with questions of where I was from and what I was looking for. Feeling too uneasy, I stopped responding and just ignored him, hoping that he would leave me alone. He eventually did, but in a state of extreme irritation, and even warned me, “You are never going to find it.”

Two minutes later, a much younger and cheerful man walked towards me from a small alley and asked if I was headed to Waka Waka. Guarded, I said no and that I knew my way. He went on to reassure me that he worked at the hostel and it was very, very close.

I eventually let my guard down and followed him.

True to his promise, the hostel was just a few corners away. However, he skipped on mentioning his “fee”. And that he lied about his “job”. After a brief, non-confrontational verbal give-and-take, I gave him 1 euro and scorned him for being a terrible, dishonest person.

The other guests at the hostel who opened the doors for me and thus witnessed what went down were not as lucky, though. They told me I did a better bargaining job than they had, as they paid those con artists 10 euros. (Well, growing up and living in South East Asia have its perks; bargaining for everything is your second nature.) Also, I should not have wasted my energy scoffing him. I could have said he was the worst motherfucker in the whole wide world and he would still grin from ear to ear as long as he had my money.

I would hear the same story from every traveler I met during the rest of my time in the country. Of course, we budget travelers learn fast and never fall victim to this kind of scams again. A couple of euros do not matter in the grand scheme of things, but what I detest most is that the experience made me so alert and high-strung that I no longer felt comfortable wandering around aimlessly like I always do when visiting a new place.

_DSC0953Which was a shame because Marrakech has SO many charming streets and alleys.

Later, when I was lost in Fes and a middle-aged French man approached me and offered to show the way, I almost refused him. It did not help that the touts kept yelling at me, “Don’t follow him. He is tricking you.” Though extremely reluctant, I agreed to let him lead the way but kept pressing him if he was after my money. He answered no; he had been to Morocco many times and just wanted to help other travelers out. Those touts hated him because he “stole” their potential victims.

When I got to where I needed to be, his parting words were, “Voila. I didn’t trick you. Have a fun time.”

I FELT LIKE THE BIGGEST ASSHOLE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!

Bottom line: Beware of Moroccans who come out of nowhere and act all friendly with you. Do NOT even try to be nice; be blunt instead. For your information, those con artists are scared shitless of police. If they are caught, they will be jailed. You can play that card if the situation gets out of control.

#2: Arrive at stations really, really early if you take the trains from one city to another

Otherwise, you would have a torturous train ride!

The train ride from Marrakech to Fes is the one I will most likely never forget, only because it was so excruciatingly long and uncomfortable. While it makes for a good little travel story, I hope I will never experience something similar again. Ever!

_DSC0978But this I want to see again!!!

My second stop in Morocco was Fes, which is 8 hours by train from Marrakech. The morning of the departure date, I woke up at 5AM, had a nice hot shower, ate a filling breakfast, checked out and hailed a cab from the medina to the city’s posh train station.

The earliest train to Fes was at 10.45AM, so after I bought my second-class ticket, I sat down at a nearby coffee shop and ordered a croissant and a latte. I checked my iPhone and almost screamed when free fast Wi-Fi was available. At that point, I was so desperate after almost a week of patchy Internet. The two-hour wait passed in the blink of an eye.

At 10.35, I gathered my bags and headed down the check-in gate. In hindsight, I should have realized right there and then that it was not going to fare well when people, instead of standing in line, jostled and squeezed to get through the gate.

When I got on the train, my immediate thought was, “I just fucked myself…HARD.” Despite coming from the third world, I had never been on any train that was more cramped and disorderly; every inch of available room on the train was occupied. Mothers and children sat on the floor, looking tired and resigned. Given that asses were all they saw when they looked up, their feelings were totally valid.

There was no space inside the cabin, so I had to stand in the gangway bellow. For more than 8 hours, I was no more an inch from another Moroccan in front of me. I could not stretch my arms or my legs, or dare to close my eyes since I had to watch my belongings.

It was nothing short of a miracle that I did not need to relieve myself at ANY point during the ride.

No doubt it was physically arduous. But the harder part was being scrutinized, as I was the only Asian on the train. And between you and me, I have to confess I was scared shitless whenever people took a look at me and whispered something to their companions.

Needless to say, I wanted to scream when the train pulled into Fes station.

_DSC0191A lot of things about Fes made me want to scream. This scene was no exception, but screaming with awe instead. 

Bottom line: Try to book first-class train tickets; they are usually just 10 euros more than second-class tickets. But you are guaranteed a seat. If you have second-class ticket for whatever reason, arrive EXTREMELY early and wait at platform so you can embark and snatch a seat as soon as your train arrives.

#3: Book your bus/train/flight tickets early IN PERSON

If you are anything like me, you want to pre-book everything before you arrive. Because it feels reassuring, and under many circumstances it saves time and money. But certain things in Morocco cannot be booked online in advance. Which, for control freaks like us, can be a little bit unsettling.

I have learned, though, that it is okay. No need to fret. All you have to do is come to the bus/train stations a day or two before your departure date and book your tickets.

P/S: The Fes-Chefchaouen bus tickets sell like hotcakes. Book yours well in advance!

_DSC0359I mean… Chefchaouen is so freaking gorgeous.

#4: Do NOT book your Sahara tour in advance. And do NOT do the 2 days/1 night tour

Here is my conclusion after traveling through Morocco: Everyone and their mother seem to be offering the Sahara desert tours. Even though they all go to the same spots and basically do the same activities, prices vary wildly.

I strongly advise you against booking the tour online. Just come and shop around for the best offer. I cringe when some companies I inquired charge hundreds of euros even though their itineraries are exactly the same as the one I joined. And I paid 80 euros!

(Okay, your group might be smaller, or your driver might be more knowledgeable, but when you are in Sahara, you ride a camel and sleep in the tents just like every other group.)

Also, you should allocate at least 3 days/2 nights for this whole Sahara trip. It is quite far away, whether you depart from Marrakech or Fes. The 2 days/1 night tours do not take you to the impressive part of the desert.

_DSC0998I repeat, you will not get to this insane and mind-blowing and other-worldly sand dune if you do the 1 night tour. 

_DSC1025Also, I do not guarantee your night is going to be as magical as this (excuse my feeble attempt at capturing. No photo is able to do the Sahara starry night justice).

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The Confused Dasher Is Back

confused dasher in iceland, visiting JökulsárlónA sneak peak of what’s to come 😉

At this point, I believe there is no doubt left whatsoever about the kind of blogger that I am. I am just not a good one. I am just not someone you guys can rely on. I literally disappeared the whole April without saying a proper goodbye to you guys. I understand and accept it completely if you all hate me now. I am in no position to ask for sympathy.

For those who still care about me and want to know what happened, well…I was traveling since the beginning of April until the first week of May. 33 days, to be exact.

It is the longest, most physically and mentally and financially demanding trip I have ever done in my entire life. Yet what I got to see and experience has been absolutely indescribable. In just one short month, I traversed 4 continents, starting in Asia (Singapore), then Europe (France), then Africa (Morocco), then Europe again (Sweden and Iceland), then North America (New York), then Europe again (Norway) and finally Asia (Thailand). Even I think I might have gone a little overboard, but I honestly cannot tell what I would have done differently.

The most important lesson I have learned from this trip is that long-term traveling, especially when done on budget, is not easy at all. Pre-trip, it requires a fair share of preparation and sacrifice but real challenges occur once you are on the road. After I returned home safe and sound, I immediately messaged friends who I met in my previous trips and are traveling for an extended period of time to tell them that I now have mad respect for them for still carrying on. It takes genuine, not half-assed, curiosity to still travel after the first few “honeymoon” months.

As usual, I will write about each and every place I went to in details, but it will be a while before the entries are up. I kindly ask you guys to bear with me and stick around.

I promise I won’t let you down!

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