Deadly Ponies for the Bandita Warrior in You

Mr. Fill 'n Zip Twist

Mr. Fill ‘n Zip Twis

How…

could we not love a line called Deadly Ponies? Take the name and their latest inspiration, influences from Latino girls, Senorita Bandits takes bad girls to an entirely new level for Spring/Summer 2012. Paying homage to the chola aesthetic and true Southern California style, complete with tattoos, bandanas, and alligator skin this is a collection that reflects a new edge with some bold choices for spring like a dusty pink and canary yellow, but possibly the most notable inclusion this season is the designs of renowned tattoo artist Stefan Sinclair. His work depicting horses parading features prominently throughout the range, so we think Deadly Ponies is perfect for a night out with the gang.

We opted for their Mr. Zip ‘N Fill Twist bag made with the highest quality deer nappa, leather renowned for its soft yet durable quality. Each skin must pass through 30-plus steps towards its finished state, scrutinised so that only the very best hides are used in construction. The uniqueness of the hide lends individuality to each bag, while consistency of finish and handle guarantees workability. I like it for it’s perfect size (it fits a pair of heels and a computer, if needed) and I can use it as a shoulder bag or sling it across my body.

Mr. Mini Croc Wallet

Mr. Mini Croc Wallet

Handmade in their workshop, designs marry unique looks with usability, and, I’ve been told that a Deadly Ponies bag will last a lifetime. Designed, sewn and dispatched from the workroom in downtown Auckland, where every scrap of leather is used in the process, they’re continually keen to break new ground with fresh colours and shapes are developed each season, and variations on old favorites sit alongside inspired new creations.

I also grabbed their Mr. Mini Croc wallet, but they also make some pretty kickass jewellery, all slightly different from the next with pieces blur the line between high-function and high-fashion. The outcome is always to be treasured; enticing even those anti-bagists to venture out and carry something DP.

www.deadlyponies.com

Note: Deadly Ponies kindly offered me their products at wholesale. That said, all thoughts are my own and I did ‘pony up’ dolachi for their swanky goods. Thanks, DP!

Run DMZ: Touring South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone

Joint Security Area (JSA) South Korea Soldiers in the Demilitarized Zone

Joint Security Area (JSA) South Korea Soldiers in the Demilitarized Zone

Part II of Victoria Korosi’s piece on South Korea takes Jaunt Magazine’s readers on a tour of the DMZ. And no, that doesn’t mean the likes of Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, or Jason “Jam-Master Jay” Mizell. And when we say tour, we don’t mean free drinks and clever jokes through a loud speaker.

By Victoria Korosi

Use the word “tour” and I’ll cringe and run for the nearest public bus. Use “military escort” and that’s a conversation I’ll engage. Given my absolute love of borders, especially crossing the ones the US State Department will call me about later, there was no way I was going to get this close to North Korea and not go explore. Even if it that meant I had to tolerate a guide or two.

The border between North and South Korea is buffered by the DMZ – a theoretically neutral zone where both parties literally stand toe to toe on a white line drawn on the ground, grey gravel on one side brown on the other, an innumerable number of black belts and heavy artillery at the ready, and just stare at each other. Literally. Walking into this environment I can easily say I’ve never felt tension so palpable.

Soldiers in the Joint Security Area

Soldiers in the Joint Security Area

Getting to this point though was notably less climactic. In order to gain access to the Joint Security Area (JSA) coming from the south (and yes I did investigate doing the tour in the reverse from China and entering on the North Korean side) you have to be escorted by the US military. To graduate to that means enduring an entire day of numbingly boring videos, debriefings, and other tour bus activities that made me want to slit my wrists. If the end result of stepping foot (even if just the one) into North Korea hadn’t been as staggeringly powerful as it was I’d be back on my campaign full force for banning organised travel.

But it truly was that powerful. Standing in a room with six South Korean soldiers, their opposition on the other side of the door, all rigorously still,  eyes concealed behind pitch black Ray-Bans, aggressive Korean script on their helmets, I could feel the muscles in my legs turn to lead too terrified to move an inch. They just had this feeling about them that they’d explode into combat at any moment. Kind of like if you gave the guards outside Buckingham Palace tougher uniforms and Taekwondo lessons. Like that.

An intense end to a long day I made my way back to Seoul, defiantly via public transport of course. Even though it was a monstrously controlled space it does give a different perspective and gravity standing in a part of the world very different to what I know. And new respect for those on every boarder who maintain the serenity of that tension. But when it comes to costume design for this, I think we all could take a lesson from the South Koreans. Ray-Bans at the beach will never look the same!

USO Tour of the DMZ
http://affiliates.uso.org/korea/

South Korea: The Royal Treatment

Victoria Korosi - Jaunt Magazine Contributor

Victoria Korosi – Jaunt Magazine Contributor

My inability to read maps is one thing. Throwing in non sequential numbers on buildings as well is just cruel. Seoul is another of those cities where half the streets don’t have names, addresses are suggestions at best, and even the most savvy local won’t have any clue the hostel you’re looking for (because of course it’s down some ally in the basement of a Karaoke bar).

Having made friends with my entire (ENTIRE) neighbourhood last night I did finally find where I was going- even if it did require a comprehensive wonder around the same six blocks, two stops for kimchi, and finally a private escort by a local shop owner who took pity on this jet lagged traveller.

Finally settled and exhausted from the trek across continents I crashed into the styrofoam pillows of my windowless room looking forward immensely to a night’s sleep. Why after so many years of doing this I still think I can cheat Asia jet lag is beyond me. Aided by the constant absolute dark of my hostel, and the fact that pork shows up in every meal regardless, I have second guessed not only the time (in 12 hour segments) but am generally unsure of what day it is either. It’s 4am here, so what is it, October there?

A massive crab in the Busan Fish Market

Before the nude bath house, check out this massive crab at the Busan Fish Market

For anyone who has followed my writing the past decade or so you know that within about 48 hours of landing you’ll get a commentary on public transportation, social nudity, and/or street food. Not necessarily in that order and thankfully in practice not in tandem.

Social nudity (which I scarily often find myself a part of during my travels) by far the most entertaining.

Lashing rain in Seoul when I awoke  (at 4am again), I took a pre dawn excursion getting out of the city to explore one of Korea’s many 24hr Jjimjilbangs (traditional bath houses).

In fairness, I wish I’d had no prior practice with these, but as it turns out my old local spa spot in NYC (Spa Castle) is a shockingly accurate export of the real thing, minus the hard boiled eggs I just bought at reception. Without previous exposure though I’m not sure how well this would have gone with no English. Basically, the sequence of events is as follows:

1) 10,000 won (about $8) by credit card upon arrival, receive day glow bracelet with locker key and dangerous pay-as-you-go sensor

2) Receive uniform (baggy knee length shorts and a XXL T-shirt), surrender any hope of feeling stylish

3) Leave shoes in the first set of lockers, find a local and follow her to the impossible to locate women’s sauna

4) Oh hello nudity. Other than on co-ed floors, clothing is prohibited, as are some basic grooming habits as well apparently

The fun little outfits at Dragon Hill Spa

The fun little outfits at Dragon Hill Spa

5) Indulge in 17 different jacuzzis, saunas, salt baths, scrubs, and ah yes, the royal oriental medicinal hip washing. It reminded me a bit of my rowing days and having to sweat weight for races – if, in fact, that was done naked, in a tent, and with an herbal steaming pot between your legs. Go ahead and google that one ladies.

6) On communal floors other services such as massage, reflexology, and accupressure are offered. After said accupressure, however, I think I’ll stick to the tamed version I get in Chinatown in the future. Fine there were no needles but there were definitely a few tears. Ironically, the only word of English the therapist spoke was “pain?” question mark?

Dragon Hill Spa's Crystal Salt Room - Seoul

Dragon Hill Spa’s Crystal Salt Room – Seoul

Five hours later, my skin, back, mind (and a few other areas) have been well attended to as I lie on the floor of an aroma sleeping room, side by side a dozen korean grannies and wait for the light-headed ridiculous awe of it all to pass.

An experience worth indulging and once again proving that rainy afternoons should always be spent naked.

Dragon Hill Spa – A Traditional Korean Spa

Seoul, South Korea

La Maison Champs Elysees by Martin Margiela

La Maison Champs Elysees by Maison Martin Margiela

La Maison Champs Elysees by Maison Martin Margiela

The entrance to the townhouse at No. 8 rue Jean Goujon is nothing, if not discreet. An address one must know to discover, behind its doors, the stage is set for one of our favorite’s… Maison Martin Margiela’s first hotel interior, La Maison Champs Élysées. The minimal, yet sophisticated and offbeat décor sets the stage for a show of romance. Seventeen rooms and suites belong to the Couture Collection, and are decorated with a whimsical touch that plays with proportion and perception. Every space feels surreal, with each room different than the next. Even in the newly opened Blind Bar and at the restaurant, La Table du 8, the chairs appear to be floating above the concrete floor, while oversized moldings and pretend doors add to the illusion. Here, romantic candlelight dinners are only enhanced by the exquisite, seasonal fare and fine selection of French wines. La Maison is just steps away from the Seine and numerous landmarks, ideal for a moonlight stroll with that special someone.

So get on it… and wear this crisp fragrance by our friends at Maison Martin Margiela while you’re at it!

Untitled by Maison Martin Margiela

Untitled by Maison Martin Margiela

The Secret Island of Saba: The Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean

Swooning over Saba

Swooning over Saba

Considered one of the world’s best scuba-diving destinations by travel heavy-hitters such as Fodor’s, Frommers and About.com, the island of Saba is probably one you’ve never heard about. That’s exactly why she’s so great. Only 5 square miles with about 2,000 inhabitants, Saba is part of the Netherlands, but, although the language is officially Dutch, most people actually speak English. The story goes something like this… Columbus spotted the island, but stayed away due to her rocky shores.

The Shores of Saba

Saba from a boat

There are also stories that the Arawak once swept through (or perhaps stayed awhile). Today, Saba is best known for not being known; unless you’re a super savvy scuba lover with a penchant for El Caribe. Spectacular diving (and a medical school home to American expats), it’s nestled between St. Maarten and St. Eustatius so a relatively easy jaunt. There’s a small airport with flights to and from the nearby islands of St. Maarten and St. Eustatius. There’s also a ferry service from St. Maarten that travel to Saba three times a week. Oh, and something else kinda cute… there’s one road. It’s called ‘The Road.’

Some scuba in Saba

Some scuba in Saba

So, for those who want to get some sweet ass scuba in, you must check out their protected marine park, which boasts 30 protected dives sites that range from gradual sloping reefs to dramatic walls, swim-throughs and its renowned offshore pinnacles. Last we also checked (but call the hotel for details), divers can do it deeper—and for less—with Queen’s Gardens Resort’s and SeaSaba’s Diving Saba package (highly recommended for diving duos, see Superior Suite description below.) The package includes a 5 night stay in a Superior Suite, a four-course gourmet dinner, three days of double tank diving, round-trip transport to the harbor on dive days, airport taxi transfers, scuba dive gear and daily continental breakfast.

Priced at @$2000, a Superior Suite at the Queen’s Gardens also happens to have a private Jacuzzi with an amazing view of the Caribbean. Of course, the living room, the separate master bedroom with the four-post king-size bed and the massage shower in the bathroom isn’t too shabby, either. Queen’s Gardens Resort was the winner of Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award for 2012

Let us know what you think. We’ll be jealous, but still galavanting around Savannah or skiing Stowe Mountain.

Llama Expeditions: Giving the Gift of a Llama Through Heifer International This Holiday Season

Llama Expeditions

Llama Expeditions

I’ve been trying to figure out what to get my friends and family this holiday and what better way to say “I love you” than with a llama? Enter: Andean trekking specialist Llama Expeditions who are inviting kindhearted adventure travelers to join owner Diane Valenti in gifting a llama to a deserving Peruvian family this holiday season.

Llama Expeditions offers a range of guided tours through Peru, from sightseeing and surfing to multi-day hikes along the Inca Trail. In addition to taking in the stunning scenery and experiencing true adventure, these tours also allow travelers to make a personal connection to the country and its people. Entrepreneur and outdoorswoman Diane Valenti hatched the idea for her company in 2008 over a home-cooked chicken dinner at close to 14,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes. She has been able to apply her over 20 years as a business consultant working with clients such as Genentech, Nike, and Starbucks Coffee Company to her enterprise that goes beyond just ordinary tourism. Offering full cultural immersion to give guests the opportunity to see how Peruvians live—to talk with them about their dreams and accomplishments and to learn about the challenges they face – are woven into the itinerary. In addition, participants also texperience the difference gifts of healthy food, school supplies, clothing, or sunglasses can make in the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.

Llamas along the Inca Trail

Llamas along the Inca Trail

The donation, valued at $150 per animal, is made possible through Heifer International, the organization that empowers people by providing animals that can make a difference in their livelihoods.

“To make the trek with llamas, the camel-like beasts of burden of the Incas, is to follow in the traditional steps of a great civilization in a way that leaves minimal impact on the land and a positive effect on a local family’s income,” says Llama Expeditions founder Diane Valenti.

The company is encouraging others to think about that person on their list that already has everything and to honor them with a gift of a llama ($150) or shares of a llama (at $20 per share) in their name this holiday.

To donate please go to: https://secure1.heifer.org/gift-catalog/llama.html.

Llamas help bring sustenance to families who care for them, providing transportation, rental income and wool for blankets, ponchos, carpets and rope. This year’s Heifer International catalog tells the story of a couple who now have a herd of 60 alpacas from their starter two. Each animal provides four pounds of wool, the proceeds of which are helping to educate the couple’s children.

How does this relate to Llama Expeditions? “The company fills the spot between responsible tourism and voluntourism,” said Valenti.  “This is a real vacation for people who work hard and want a chance to relax. But it’s also a chance for culturally curious travelers to make a meaningful connection with the people and the land of Peru.” Guests are encouraged to “pay-it-forward” by contributing to a variety of local community development organizations.

http://www.llamaexpeditions.com/inspiration