I felt like what I assume every bride feels like on her wedding day: elegant, excited and fortunate. It was always a dream of mine to do a photoshoot wearing a kimono and I was finally getting the opportunity to do so. The embroidered silk fabric would adorn my skin the same way it did the Geishas that I saw in the National Geographic documentaries I watched as a child. I didn’t want the porcelain Geisha style makeup, nor did I want the Geisha styled wig. I wanted to remain true to myself, yet create and document my memory of Japan in a unique way.
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Wearing a kimono isn’t as easy as it looks. If you thought putting on and wearing a sari was troublesome, think again. It takes a true professional to do it right. Keida sensei is a traditional Kimono master from Nagasaki Japan. She is one of the few internationally recognized Kimono masters in Japan and was absolutely thrilled when I asked her to clothe me in one of her Kimonos.
Japanese people are serious about presentation and no exception is made when it comes to their traditional wear. To make the kimono look sleek against my body, pieces of white gauze had to be placed across my chest and back. No lumps or bumps, curves or swerves were allowed to this party! After the placing of the gauze I had to be wrapped in another piece of cloth in order for the loose pieces to stay in place. At this point, the idea of going to the bathroom seemed impossible.
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Ready and stiff as ever, I placed my arms through the kimono. It felt amazing on my skin. Initially I was to wear a purple Kimono but my eye caught the gold kimono on a mannequin (blame the Slick Rick and Trinidad James in me). After some additional tucking and pulling, Keida sensei tied my Obi (sash). She carried me to a mirror, I gasped then we both laughed. She signaled towards my hair “Can I?” All I could do was smile. She carefully placed two handmade chopsticks into my hair.
I was ready for my close up.
Beautiful doesn't quite do it justice. I wonder if there are any words to adequately describe Phuket, Thailand (pronounced pu-ket). Paradise, perhaps?
Located in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand, Phuket's name, according to some sources, is said to be derived from two Thai words, phu (mountain) and ket (jewel). Seeing this beautiful mountain jewel was well worth the 23 hours it took to get there. There are tons of airlines that fly regularly to Thailand, but the best deal I found was with Korean Air. They provided top-notched service (even in economy class).
In 2004, the Indian Ocean earthquake caused a devastating tsunami throughout much of southeast Asia. Phuket has since recovered and has experienced tremendous growth. However, one tour guide confided that because of so much development, the island's natural beauty diminished. Admittedly, as a tourist, I couldn't relate but was very respectful of his concerns. I was drawn in and mesmerized by the aqua blue water, white sand beaches, mountain views, delicious cuisine, and the warm friendly smiles of the Thai people. Seven days was not nearly enough time to take it all in.. but believe me I tried!
Let me say though, nothing can prepare you for the heat. The weather is very, very hot and you will sweat like there's no tomorrow!! We were there in March, the "dry season", when temperatures are "cooler" and sea conditions are good for swimming and diving. (March is also considered high season for tourism which officially ends in April.) If you do make the trip, be sure to pack light loose fitting clothes. You can research the best time of year to plan your trip by visiting sites such as The Phuket Holiday Guide which breaks down the pros and cons for each month of the year.
My first Stagville book is getting closer to publication. Look for it in March. Here are some sneak peeks and a mock up of the cover.