398454453900208

Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

465 West 23rd Street, Suite 9B
New York, NY, 10011
United States

(917) 664-2294

JOURNAL

CAN I TELL YOU ... TAKE A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD AND SEE THE CULTURES THAT INSPIRE MY DESIGNS.

Filtering by Category: Asia

Can I tell you about ... Jodhpur

Rafe Totengco

STAY

Live like Indian royalty for a few days and stay at the Umaid Bhawan. This Art Deco style golden-yellow sandstone palace is one of the most majestic and largest private residences in the world. The Maharajah and his family still reside in a section of the palace while the majority of this 26 acre property has been turned into a luxury hotel. The variety of activities range from watching a polo match on the palace grounds, taking an evening dip in the subterranean pool or having high tea by the veranda while enjoying an unobstructed view of the Mehrangarh Fort in the distance.
 

DO

Go shopping at the Sojati Gate Market. This bazaar is lined with shops selling everything from bright and embellished saris, mirrored jewelry, jodhpur trousers, traditional mojaris (Rajasthani footwear) and colorful tie-dyed clothing called Bandhani. Each store is packed with merchandise and the shopkeepers expect to haggle.
 

EAT

Have cocktails and dinner at Indique, a hot spot resto-lounge at the rooftop of the Pal Haveli hotel. The terrace boasts the best views of the blue city; the lit-up Mehrangarh Fort, the Umaid Bhawan Palace and the Clock Tower.
 

MUST SEE

Perched 400 feet above Jodhpur city is the Meharangah Fort, one of the best-preserved forts in Rajasthan. Once inside you can imagine a different world filled with magnificent rooms, screened balconies, colored glass windows, intricately detailed elephant howdahs (seats) and royal palanquins.
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

As you drive up to the Mehrangarh Fort you'll see why Jodhpur is also called the "Blue City". The blue-painted houses all clustered together span the horizon and are a breathtaking view to behold. I found Jodhpur inspiring and magical, rich with history, tradition, craft and splendor.

Can I tell you about ... Bali

Rafe Totengco

I go to Bali to recharge, reflect and relax. Every time I go I find something new to do and my friends there always bring me to their favorite spots. It's the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.
 

STAY

The Alila Villas in Uluwatu is a must if you're in Bali. The view, the service, the location and the design of the property...you almost never want to leave.
 

DO

Take a hike up Mt. Batur at dawn. The view is spectacular especially as the sun rises. Just be careful not to feed the monkeys! Spend the night at Lakeview Hotel they will arrange a guide to take you up the mountain. So worth the trek.
 

EAT

I love suckling pig and one of the best places to have it is from Ibu Oka in Ubud. Order the Babi Guling special, a coconut, sit down cross-legged on a straw mat and pig-out!
 

MUST SEE

A temple festival. Because there you can see the entire gamut of Balinese culture in action: the art, architecture (both permanent and temporary), music, dance, theatre, as well as communal bonding, life and the economy. And you have to see how the Balinese mix their prints!
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

What I love most about Bali is that it's a total package; the people, the varieties of activities, the temples, and the food! You have the beaches, the mountains, the lakes all within driving distance from each other. That's why I keep coming back.

Can I Tell You About ... Manila

Rafe Totengco

STAY

I had the pleasure of staying at Shangri-La Makati. It is literally in the center of everything you could possibly want to get to, right in the heart of Makati. It's a hop and a skip to Rustan's Department Store (where they have a Rafe corner) and a few blocks away from Greenbelt 5 Mall where all the best boutiques, luxury labels and restaurants are.
 

DO

I love Carlos Celdran's Walk This Way walking tour of Intramuros (old Manila). He's funny, factual and flamboyant. I've learned more about our history in just a few hours with him than I ever did reading about it in school. He puts everything in context and doesn't mince words about our colorful colonial past. Next time I come back I'm going to take his Imelda Tour. I've heard it's hilarious and full of outrageous stories!
 

EAT

M Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants in Manila. You can't go wrong with their take on traditional Filipino cuisine, whether you're there for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some of my favorites include Pansit Buko (coconut strip 'noodles'), Pansit Tinta (rice vermicelli with squid ink sauce), Halaan (clam soup) and desserts like Leche Flan Turon (fried banana spring rolls with custard filling) and Jackfruit Sans Rival. If M Cafe is too full, just go to their adjoining restaurant, Kabila, which literally means "other side".
 

MUST SEE

The Ayala Museum is a must if you're already in Manila. When I was a child I used to love going to see the dioramas they have depicting the history of the Philippines. One of the most inspiring exhibits I've seen at the museum was Gold of Ancestors: A staggering collection of pre-colonial gold objects and jewelry.
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

Manila is my second home! As soon as I land and text a friend, it turns into a domino effect! Before I know it my schedule is completely filled for breakfast, lunch and dinner with all of my friends. Every occasion revolves around food, especially all of the comfort food I can't seem to get enough of whenever I'm back - you'd think I was a starving orphan!

Can I Tell You About ... Beijing, China

Rafe Totengco

STAY

I stayed at the Temple Hotel, a 600 year old former Tibetan Buddhist temple, that saw service as a factory after the revolution and has recently been converted into a chic boutique hotel. It was rescued from demolition by a trio of entrepreneurs who spent 3 years restoring it into an 8 bedroom gem, hidden in a traditional hutong district within walking distance of the Forbidden City. The hotel has a popular, high end, 'contemporary European' style restaurant, a description that would normally have me running for the hills, but that in this case served me a wonderful tasting menu that I can't recommend highly enough. The complex also houses a permanent light installation titled 'Gathered Sky' by James Turrell, the only one in China.

EAT

Escape the crush of people at the Summer Palace and head to the Aman at the Summer Palace. Their Chinese restaurant serves traditional Cantonese cuisine along with Peking duck, a must if you're in Beijing. The property is serene and the decor is super chic. I could almost imagine the Empress Dowager Cixi walking down the corridors with her entourage.

MUST SEE

First on my agenda was the Great Wall , a sight I missed on my first visit. I took a car to the Mutianyu section, which is a longer drive from the city but reputed to be less crowded than other locations. It was a hot and humid summer day but the sky was blue, a very rare occurrence in Beijing I was told. I braved the hour long hike up steep steps up to the highest watchtower, and was amply rewarded by the spectacular, and iconic, view of the wall snaking its way through the rolling country.

SHOP

I'm a flea-market aficionado so the Panjiayuan market was on my 'must do' list. The market is comprised of over 3000 vendors and separated into sections so if you're looking for semi-precious beads, blue and white porcelain vases, vintage books and photographs or furniture you'll find it there. I found some great curiosities among the vendors without regular stalls who had laid their blankets loaded with objects outside the designated market area. The items they were selling were disorganized and largely junk but felt more like the ˜flea market" I had come for. I bought an antique embossed brass cigarette case for 40 dollars,  a bargain for an item that will inspire the next iteration of my minaudieres.

DO

Entering the National Centre for the Performing Arts or The Giant Egg is like walking into a spaceship but instead of flying off to outer space you are going to an opera. The iconic design by French architect Paul Andreu is especially photogenic at sunset when the lights inside illuminate and reflect against the water surrounding the structure. Several photographers stand in position at the same spot just to capture the perfect moment when the building reflects the egg shape perfectly. Unfortunately the audience was so noisy it was impossible to enjoy the performance.

WHAT I LOVED MOST

I woke up early to take a leisurely stroll to Jingshan Park . This thousand year old park (formerly a private imperial garden) is a hub of activity for people of all ages playing badminton, rehearsing folk dances and practicing martial arts. The senior citizens doing their morning Tai-Chi reminded me of my Mom, who can be seen doing the same thing in New York's Chinatown at 6am every day. Not all globalization is the US exporting movies and fast food! A hike up the hill to the Wanchun Pavilion resulted in the expected magnificent views of the Forbidden City. I jostled with the locals to get the best spot for my selfie.