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July 26-August 1, 2013

Good debt,

bad debt

ST Illustration/Manny Francisco


July 26-August 1, 2013

Contents Money

Good debt, bad debt

Culture

The undead reborn

Science

A science class from space


July 26-August 1, 2013

Contents Lifestyle

¬ ¬ ¬ ¬

From macho to metro The cutting edge of allure Cosmetics: Men face facts The corporate look

Fashion

¬ Shalwar kameez and the spirit of summer ¬ Empress, where elegance meets exclusivity ¬ Doorjee for the everyday fabulous

Entertainment

Rich, Asian and crazy


July 26-August 1, 2013

Contents Travel

Green village, bamboo bicycles

>>DATEBOOK Lifestyle

A place to wed

Travel

The ‘other’ Fuji

Happenings around Asia

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MONEY

| July 26-August 1, 2013

Good debt, bad debt One type of debt reaps returns while the other has no investment value

Singapore

W

hile experts recommend young people should start investing as soon as possible, those in their 20s will often find it hard to do so as they are busy clearing their debts. Take Perry Siow for example. At 23, he racked up a debt of more than S$50,000 (US$39,300), because his business partner ran away with everything from the accounts of the trading firm they had set up together. This happened during a business trip to Indonesia to source for more clients,

ST Illustration/Manny Francisco

Rachael Boon The Straits Times


| July 26-August 1, 2013

MONEY

and the former derivatives trader returned home to find his dreams of earning big bucks completely dashed. To add insult to injury, he was a guarantor for a friend who had borrowed S$20,000 from a loan shark. Siow, 37, an associate senior vice-president at realtor HSR, said: “No one taught me about money management, I was depressed. I also had to pawn my mother’s gold jewellery to help with my debts. I get emotional thinking about that.” Faced with immense pressure and bouts of suicidal thoughts as a young adult, he found religion which drove him to find a new job and cleared his debt little by little. The Christian found his calling in real estate and by the second year of working, he paid off all debts and redeemed his mother’s gold. It was a life of all work and

no play for Siow, who skipped all social functions and would be distributing real estate fliers until 2am. “I was also a part-time trader for a client and if I had time, I’d be a banquet waiter from 6pm to 11pm, even though that earned me only S$20 per hour. I worked every day for two years.”

Youth debt in numbers

According to Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS), last year it counselled 563 people in debt, aged 35 or younger. The male to female ratio was 69:31, and 374 had A-level or higher education, while 217 were married with children. The lowest amount of debt reported was S$3,401, and the highest was S$707,772, which was lower than 2011’s highest reported debt at S$875,203. In a report released early this year, the Credit Bureau Singapore found that motorists aged 21 to 34 have the highest delinquency

rate—a measure of failure to pay their monthly instalments within 30 days—while consumers above 54 have the lowest delinquency rate, a trend that is consistent with other loan products. On the other hand, those aged 21 to 34 are managing credit card payments well, compared to the overall population, with only 3.66 per cent in delinquency— where one’s credit card payments are 30 or more days overdue— compared with the overall population at 4.95 per cent in the three months to March.

Good and bad debt

But financial planners say there is both good and bad debt. Geraldine Lam, investment specialist at independent financial advisory firm Providend explained: “Good debt may be defined as debt incurred to reap investment returns. A good debt should also be one that the debtor can afford to repay on time.”


| July 26-August 1, 2013

MONEY

ST PHOTO/Neo Xiaobin

Examples of good debt are mortgage, property, study or business loans. Mortgage loans are considered good debts because property generally appreciates, like from 2002 to last year, when residential property prices here appreciated by about 6 per cent per year, said Lam. Hence, for young adults looking to move out on their own or planning to wed and buy their first home, a mortgage loan may help. Lam said: “Taking up a mortgage loan is not only necessary for most people to have their own residence, it also makes economic sense as paying for a property through instalments allows money to be freed up for other uses such as investments.” SingCapital chief executive Alfred Chia added that “taking advantage of other people’s money, also known as the bank’s money” when

Perry Siow, 37, now an associate senior vice-president at realtor HSR, had a debt of more than S$50,000 (US$39,300) at age 23, after a business partner played him out.

interest rates are low, makes a lot of sense especially in a property bull run, but warns of the risk of being in debt. For study and business loans, Lam said the long-term returns of a university education

and a profitable business “far outweigh the cost of paying interest on the debt incurred”. On bad debts, Chia said they are often debts “incurred for purchases that are useless, or for depreciating assets”.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

MONEY

A 60-inch TV set will not produce an income, as well as many brand-name bags, “though many ladies are not going to agree with that”, he added. Credit Counselling Singapore says overspending, followed by job-related debt, are the top reasons for those who seek counselling.

Common debts of young adults Credit cards and car loans are the most common causes of debt among young adults. Chng Bee Leng, head of mass affluent at OCBC Bank, said people in the age range of 18-35 tend to have study loans to repay for tertiary education, and credit cards for their various expenses. OCBC Bank has also found that young adults tend to use credit cards for expenses such as dining (43 per cent of customers), fashion (37 per cent), and travel (34 per cent). Chia has advised young

clients with more than S$500,000 in credit card debt. How do they get to that stage? He said: “Most of the time, it’s the attraction of spending future money to enjoy the current moment, for travel, and those interest-free instalment plans. “Having a car and spending their money excessively give them a sense of freedom. “And the impulse to get a coveted item is stronger than the logic that it is too expensive.” Pam Siow, 32, chief executive of online marketing coaching business Internet Biz Owners Club, went through all that when she got her first credit card at 25. Four credit cards and three years later, things spiralled out of control as she found herself S$14,000 deep in credit card debt. She recalled: “Well, at that point in my career, I had earned a degree of spending power. And after spending a good deal of my life feeling like my

finances were not secure, I felt it was time to let loose and rebel against my ‘former life’. “With that, credit cards became my greatest source of debt. The thing is, I didn’t use cash because I was spending money that I didn’t have.” She spent 20 to 30 per cent more than what she could really afford with her monthly salary then, on clothes and holidays. At this point, Providend’s Lam would suggest cancelling “all credit cards and lines of credit to stop impulse spending, and be forced to spend only cash”. “Non-essential expenditure has to be severely reduced and a strict budget imposed.” Websites such as financial education portal MoneySense have useful tools such as debt and budget calculators to help young adults, she added. Chng also suggested OCBC Money Insights, an online financial management


| July 26-August 1, 2013

MONEY

tool available on OCBC online banking. She said that it “can help young people be aware of their spending trends and cash flow position”. Public relations executive Eunice Lim, 23, does not have major debts, but said she does enjoy shopping and forgets to pay her bills once in a while, leading to a late payment penalty. Today, she is more mindful of payment dates.

Managing debt

Just like how debt forced Siow to find a way out and eventually find his passion in real estate, Siow discovered a knack for Internet-related businesses because of her dire situation. She said: “This turnaround began at the lowest point in my

situation, when I made it my mission to pull myself out of it and achieve my dream life. “I managed to get out of debt by starting my first online business, which helped me quit my marketing job within four months too and pay off my debts within one year. This resulted in helping me start my Internet marketing coaching business.” Siow—an avid reader of books on debt—has one unique tip. Be gentle when it comes to speaking to creditors, he said. After all, it was how he managed to get extensions from the loan shark and banks. “Being hostile and not answering your creditor’s call are not going to work. When they can’t get hold of you, it may lead to immediate

action being taken,” he said. “Having debt is not a crime but it has just been mismanaged. Take it easy and be calm, negotiate with your creditor. They will understand it because they just want their money back.” He added that young adults should be pro-active about clearing their debt, instead of moping about it, and “don’t buy something that you don’t need to impress people that you don’t like”. Armed with first-hand knowledge of how debt works and how to manage it, Siow is fine with having some good debt, such as paying for training for his staff. He said: “Remember that getting into debt is easy, but getting out of it is difficult and extremely stressful.”


CULTURE

| July 26-August 1, 2013

The undead

reborn From the US to Asia, zombies are in vogue

H L Bentley The Jakarta Post Jakarta

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eople were once scared of zombies. Now, everybody wants to be one. A sweeping statement, but you cannot dismiss the numbers. Today zombie culture contributes US$5 billion annually to the world economy.

A young cosplayer sports traditional Muslim attire along with his zombie makeup. Photos courtesy of iZoc and Kamego


CULTURE

You are only ever a few clicks away from zombie games, contact lenses, toys, clothing, makeup and the—somewhat disturbing — zombie dildo. Zombies only seeped into popular culture 80 years ago. Stories of the Haitian zombie were first retold by GIs returning from the Caribbean in the 1930s. Zombies have since been the subject of movies such as Night of the Living Dead; comics, including Marvel’s “Tales of the Zombie”; and television shows, notably AMC’s “The Walking Dead”, which began life as a graphic novel. The genre hit a dead end in the late 1990s, with many zombie films going straight to DVD, but with the 21st century the zombie was reborn, faster and more deadly than ever. The Indonesian Zombie Club (IZoC) began life as “The Thread of the Dead” in Kaskus, Indonesia’s biggest online forum. Here fans talked

| July 26-August 1, 2013

Members of the IZoC in zombie regalia reach out to touch someone at their last Zombie Walk in January.

zombie movies and computer games. In July 2008, izoc.org was born and “elders” from Kaskus created a Facebook group. The infection then began to spread across the archipelago. IZoC now boasts 5,000 members from Aceh to Papua.

After affiliating with other zombie communities, IZoC began to receive invitations from promoters and event organisers. “In November 2011 at Urban Fest Jakarta, IZoC organised the first Zombie Walk in Indonesia, and in January 2013, the second


CULTURE

Zombie Walk was held on Jl. Sudirman: The biggest zombie walk in Asia,” Eric Kairupan, IZoC public relations officer, said. “We want to grow the community and pass the benefits on to members. The benefits are not financial, but friendship, knowledge, networking and fun,” Eric said, adding that the second Zombie Walk also promoted an antilitter campaign. The advance of zombie walks runs parallel to advances in communication. Connectivity mobilised the masses and saw the rise of flash mobs. Zombie walks originated in Sacramento, the US, in 2001 and spread quickly. “It’s an odd success story. What started as an activity among horror fans has grown into gigantic commercialised events, each with their own variations. Part of the allure of zombie walks is they are just fun,” said Todd Platts, a

| July 26-August 1, 2013

Zombiphiles doing makeup. Who are these fans and what do they do with their zombie downtime?

sociologist studying the historical development of zombies.

Social bonding

In awe of an event he experienced at Comic Con in San Diego, US, Gillian Ang organised The Singapore Zombie Walk on Halloween 2012, and infected the streets of Singapore. “The sight of bloody zombies on the streets brought the apocalypse off the screen and in to the real world. I decided

Eric Kairupan, the spokesman for IZoC (right), poses with fellow ghouls in this undated photo.

to organise a walk myself, assemble a zombie horde and create a platform for the zombie community to indulge zombie fantasies,” Gillian said. Picture the dead of night; eerie silence blankets your city. Separated from your friends, your nerves are jangled by a piercing shriek and approaching footsteps. A glance out of your hiding place reveals the shuffling undead, soulless eyes searching for the fresh blood they sense


CULTURE

in the vicinity. Do you stay hidden or run to a safe zone? Not a scene from a movie or video game, this is 2.8 Hours Later by Slingshot, a street games company from Bristol, UK. The real-time game has clocked up 25,000 players since 2010. It is a madcap night out with friends, crossing the city, avoiding infection from the patrolling zombie hordes, concluding at the party at the end of the world; a Zombie Disco, contaminated or not. It’s a refreshing twist on the conventional group breakdown of zombie movie survivors, who are often defeated by internal rot rather than the encroaching undead. “Adrenaline affects social bonds. Adrenalised people form tighter bonds, which feed a strong social experience,” Slingshot director Simon Johnson said. The logistically heavy, 2.8 Hours Later has nine full time staff and around 250 extras per

| July 26-August 1, 2013

The dead will walk the earth, or at least around the Hotel Indonesia Traffic Circle during a recent car-free Sunday.

game. The Singapore Zombie Walk is much less wieldy; for the first event, organisers mapped out a route, obtained permits and guided over 130

zombies around Clarke Quay. “We provided makeup to a small group but many improvised with DIY materials like wet tissues,”


CULTURE

Gillian said. Humans (even when zombified) are social beings, eager to learn through play, by exploring situations impossible in our day-to-day lives, in a safe environment and on our own terms. Platts speaks about sociability without subtext; engagement for engagement’s sake. “Zombie walks are social stimulation. The zombies are somewhat incidental, they just happen to be in vogue,” he said.

| July 26-August 1, 2013

“Zombies are not stagnant: They are multifaceted. In Asia, we only know them from films. Communities like IZoC give people somewhere to share this fascination,” Eric said. Popularity breeds emulation. If something is a hit—and makes money—there is a rush to produce similar hits. Case-in-point zombies’ horror brethren, vampires and the Twilight franchise. Zombie activity can be viewed as an incarnation of fear for the

end of civilisation. Post-9/11 paranoia may be part of this, but advances in technology and modes of consumption have created a perfect environment for zombiefests, where producers are also consumers. Zombies have infected the mainstream. Attracted to the spectacle, to the suspension of belief, or just to taking time out to live a different life, people are converging to face the end of the world together.


SCIENCE

| July 26-August 1, 2013 Gao Haitao for China Daily

Astronaut Wang Yaping teaches a class from space to the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China in Beijing.

A science class from space Gravity-free lesson helps young Chinese students float fresh ideas


| July 26-August 1, 2013

SCIENCE

Beijing

A

stronaut Wang Yaping wowed millions of students when she held China’s first science lesson from space in June. Wearing a blue spacesuit and appearing via video link, China’s second woman in space demonstrated physics only possible in low gravity. It was the second video class delivered from an orbit more than 300 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, with US astronaut Barbara Morgan’s 25-minute class being the first in 2007. “We hope the class will trigger young people’s interest in space and spur their spirit of exploration,” said Yu Changxue, a senior official with the Ministry of Education. The class, with one part held

in a Beijing school with 335 student representatives from 16 schools and the other held in the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module, started with a short video recorded by the three astronauts that introduced how they sleep in a standing position in blue sleeping bags, how they eat and drink from sealed bags, and how to somersault in space. Commander Nie Haisheng made a show of crossing his legs in the air in a meditation posture —which only a martial arts master can do in the movies, but is impossible for people on Earth. Wang smiled as she pushed Nie into the wall of the module with a gentle nudge of her hand, and went on to gulp down a floating drop of water. “Thanks to the weightless condition, we’re all masters,” she joked. The two then conducted a string of experiments that demonstrated how objects behave

Feng Yongbin

Xin Dingding and Fu Jing China Daily

Ethnic Miao students from a middle school in Kunming, Yunnan province, watch astronaut Wang Yaping’s lesson from the space.

in low gravity—from a bubble of water to a spinning toy. Wang started with a question of how astronauts measure weight in the weightless orbiter. Nie demonstrated by measuring his weight on the special scale onboard the orbiter, which was designed on the basis of Newton’s second law of motion, or measuring the mass of an object through net force and acceleration.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

SCIENCE

Kids in awe

Chen Yumeng, 16, a student from Beijing No. 80 High School, said the water ball experiment was an eye-opening experience, as it is impossible to see on Earth.

Zou Hong

It was followed by an experiment where she held out a small ball tied to a string. “What will happen if I let the ball go?” she asked. The ball did not swing as it would on Earth but stayed suspended. When she pushed the ball gently, the ball moved in a circular motion, which stirred the classroom a bit. Wang later pushed a static gyro and a moving gyro to change the way they move. What appeared to excite students most were the experiments with water. Wang made a film of water with a metal ring, and then a ball of water to explain how zero gravity magnified surface tension.

(From right) Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping, the first Chinese from the 1980s generation to orbit Earth, spent 15 days in space—two days more than last year’s manned mission.

On Earth, the effect of gravity and buoyant force will make air ascend inside water, but in low gravity, air bubbles stay inside the water, she said.

“The demonstration is too short, just 40 minutes,” Chen said. “I wished the astronauts could do more experiments up in space.” Xiao Jianqiao, a student from


| July 26-August 1, 2013

science

Beijing No. 2 High School, said he never imagined the astronauts would demonstrate objects in low gravity in such innovative ways. “Today it’s really a joyful surprise that our Chinese astronauts did things like inject red liquid into a ball of water, making its shape stand out.” After the experiments, astronauts also answered questions from students, including the difference between up and down in space, the recycling of water in the orbiter, space debris, the impact of a gravity-free environment on the human body and the view through windows of Tiangong-1. “Through the front windows, we can see the Earth and many other stars, but up to now we haven’t seen any UFOs,” Wang said in answer to a question from a fourth-grade student. “I will tell you a wonderful phenomenon: We can see

the sun rise 16 times a day, as we circle the Earth every 90 minutes,” she said. Karl Bergquist, the administrator for international relations department at the European Space Agency, said events like the space lecture are very important to increase the interest and awareness of young people for space exploration. “I am sure that there are many students in the audience who, today, after the lecture, are dreaming of becoming astronauts or working with space when they grow up.”

Floating ideas

On that day, about 60 million students from 80,000 middle schools watched or listened to the live broadcast on TV and radio. The video class received warm feedback from students, and experts said preparations started a year ago.

Jin Sheng, a member of an expert panel that planned the experiments, said ideas were solicited from the public. “In a spacecraft with limited space, where supplies are measured by grams instead of kilogrammes, the fact the astronauts had brought 2.9kg of teaching aids shows China has attached great importance to education,” he said. “Listening about things differs greatly from seeing things with your own eyes. After seeing these wonderful phenomena, the children will develop interests in science and think of questions from a different angle. This is the meaning of this class.” The Shenzhou X spacecraft, which lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Northwest China’s Gansu province on June 11, returned on June 26 after 15 days in space.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

From macho to metro A new generation of young men are defying cultural stigma BY turnING their eyes to personal care

Jennifer Lo China Daily Asia Weekly Hong Kong

S

hum Pak-hin, 21, has long been interested in his mother’s face cream, which conceals uneven skin tones and blemishes. He pampers his skin with three whitening essences and brightens his eyes with liquid eyeliners. A marketing officer and a beauty blogger from Hong Kong, Shum recalls that a few days before his graduation party, he went alone to a cosmetic counter for some last-minute

aid to cover up his spots. “The saleswoman gave me an astonished look,” he says. “I’m grateful she didn’t turn away but taught me patiently how to do it.” Shum is among a new generation of white collar young men who are defying cultural stigma and turning their eyes to grooming. The trend of men pampering themselves is fast emerging. A glance at sales figures and the number of new cosmetic products and therapies hitting beauty parlors and counters across the region provides a wider picture. By 2016, Asia Pacific is

poised to be the second largest contributor to growth in the world’s male grooming market —just after Latin America. In China alone, the men’s personal care market reached US$269 million in 2010, overtaking North America’s $227 million, according to market data firm Euromonitor. The global men’s market is worth $33 billion. China’s male grooming market has been growing by 29 per cent since 2009, far outstripping the 6 per cent growth in North America and 8 per cent in Europe. A different survey shows the Chinese market is expected to be worth $1.63 billion by 2014.


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LIFESTYLE

This is a largely untapped area fuelled by an extended concept of male grooming—far beyond the basics: Shampoos, deodorants and shaving products. More businesses are venturing into new frontiers of products for men, such as antiaging formulae and whitening, makeup and cosmetic therapies. South Korea is the region’s unquestioned trendsetter in this regard. Its 19 million male population spent a record $500 million on grooming products in 2011, accounting

for one-fifth of global sales. Korean celebrities are no strangers to gender-bending makeup. The popular boy band, Big Bang, are known to wear heavy smoky eye makeup. The band’s leader G-Dragon daringly uses a red lipstick. Super Junior’s Lee Tuek is known for his manicured, flowery boy look with fair, flawless skin. “For sure, we are seeing a different, feminine type of Asian male around: They wear jewellery, eyeliner or ponytails,” says Katrien

Jacobs, professor of cultural studies with the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “This is the message they are spreading: They want to be a little bit different. They don’t want to be the traditional male,” she adds. This image of men is not new. As far back as the Greek civilisation and in 18th-century Europe, men wore perfumes and powdered their cheeks. Ancient Egyptian men applied eye colour using crushed ants’ eggs.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

The cutting edge of allure Provided to China Daily Asia Weekly

Jennifer Lo China Daily Asia Weekly Hong Kong

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osmetic surgeries aren’t just for celebrities and women. Increasing numbers of Asian men are willing to go under the knife, needle and laser for better and younger looks. Shum Pak-hin, 21, admits his face has been a “testing ground” for myriads of cosmetic treatments: From Botox for a slimmer face to injections that give him triple effects of moisturising and whitening and anti-aging. “If a facial cream can really give you that V-shaped slimming effect, all cosmetic clinics will simply shut down,” says the beauty blogger, better known

Popular aesthetic treatments for men provided by clinics include smoothing out acne scars, reducing abdominal fat and applying Botox to facial lines.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

LILLY WANG/CHINA DAILY ASIA WEEKLY

as “Ah Fung” to his audience. Ah Fung especially enjoys the immediate impact on him—his face becoming much fuller and his wrinkles disappearing after one week. “It’s a new love for guys.” This is just part of a wider norm emerging in Asia. The sweeping wave of Abs-fests and male beauty pageants across the region are showing to men how the controversial concept of “artificial beauty” is starting to gain acceptance. Therapies for men are now spanning from traditional facelifts and nose jobs to all kind of therapies you can imagine— eye-bag reductions, eyelid surgery, hair transplant, muscle implants and fat transfers to the forehead to remove wrinkles. In Asia, a whopping 4.3 million lifts, peels, implants and tucks were performed in 2011. South Korea is best known for its lucrative cosmetic

Student Kenneth Ma (left), and freelance makeup artist Taki Lo both have reservations about the consequences associated with cosmetic surgery.

surgery business—with over 400 cosmetic surgery hospitals and 1,800 plastic surgeons. Other parts of the region are fast catching up. Plastic surgery on the Chinese mainland was a 300 billion yuan ($4.8

billion) industry in 2010. The country ranks third in the world for its 1 million surgeries performed in 2011, followed by Japan, South Korea and India, according to the International Society of Aesthetic


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

Plastic Surgery (ISAPS). Over the last couple of years, Sloane Clinic—a chain provider of aesthetic services with six branches across Singapore and Malaysia—witnessed a boom in the male plastic surgery market. “(The) male market will be the next frontier for most beauty related companies,” says Dr Low Chai-ling, the clinic’s medical director. “While the female market has almost reached saturation point, the male aesthetics market … is one area of focus that will prove rewarding.” Compared to a decade ago when only 10-15 per cent of its surgery patients were male, today at least a quarter are men. Single bachelors between 30 to 45 and PMEBs—professionals, managers, executives and businessmen—are most receptive to cosmetic therapies. Few would forget former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun’s move to undergo

double eyelid surgery in 2005 during his term in office. The presidential team explained how the procedure would improve Roh’s eyesight by reducing the obstruction of his sagging eyelids. The diminishing stigma associated with male grooming has given the industry a strong push. “In the past, beauty services for men may have seemed taboo or even frivolous,” says Dr Low. Acceptable norm “Now male grooming is a very acceptable norm in our society, with male Korean celebrities driving the trend with their manicured, androgynous looks.” Dermatologists and plastic surgeons too observe a change in men’s demand for cosmetic therapies. In the past, men sought treatments for basic issues, such as lasers for tattoo removal or creams for allergies or rashes. Today, the most popular

treatments for men at the various Sloane Clinic centres include a restoring laser to smoothen out acne scars, cool-sculpting for the reduction of abdominal fat and Botox treatment of facial lines. Bolder ones with deeper pockets opt for fundamental changes to their body figures through surgeries. For example, liposuction can help shrink beer bellies and transfer excessive fat to create an ideal rippled torso or six-pack abs overnight. This coincides with the ISAPS survey showing liposuction as the leading invasive procedure in Asia. Rhinoplasties, or nose jobs, remain the top five procedures performed in China, Japan and South Korea. Nevertheless, gentler therapies—those that leave less obvious traces than transforming surgeries—are still more sought-after by men. Botox is almost a standard


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

dish on the menu. It is regarded as “less invasive” alongside with filler, a kind of “boob jab” injection of filler gel for women’s breasts, or nowadays, men’s chests. Other examples of noninvasive treatments for men include chemical peels and hair laser therapies. New Zealand men spent more than $22 million on such injections and dermal fillers in 2011—almost a 20 per cent spike from the previous year, according to the New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine. A charming point of these noninvasive treatments is that they promise instant effects that hours of gym time are unlikely to achieve. A downside, however, means they are not long-lasting and require constant maintenance. “Males tend to prefer treatments with little or no downtime as most men are

working, so non-invasive type treatments are most attractive to them,” Dr Low explains. Despite their growing popularity, not everybody is ready to embrace cosmetic treatments. Ah Fung recalls his relatives’ reaction upon his first injection: “They called it insane and crazy, and asked: ‘Are you not afraid of dying?’,” he says. “On one end, they want to benefit from the new technology. On the other, they want to uphold the mentality that men are men. They should never put on makeup. Nor should they get any aesthetic injections.” The Asian ideal of beauty, rather than being the mere pursuit of perfect appearance, is almost inseparable from a more practical cause— career advancement. Younger males often regard cosmetic therapies as an affordable investment to enhance one’s chances of success in the

highly competitive job market. While a box of skincare costs around $30, the price of cosmetic therapies is seen as affordable by many. Non-invasion lasers, Botox and filler treatments range from $400 to $1,200, depending on the area of treatment. Cosmetic surgeries, such as nose jobs, are priced around $4,000. “Who doesn’t want to look better? It’s a realistic society,” says Kenneth Ma, a student from Hong Kong who just turned 18. “If you are not physically charming enough, a polite way of phrasing it is ‘you look natural’. Others simply say you look ugly behind your back.” Ma’s only apprehension is down to the consequences associated with cosmetic surgery. “But if cosmetic surgeries come with no risks, I don’t mind giving them a try.” Freelance makeup artist Taki Lo considers cosmetics as an alternative to plastic surgeries.


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LIFESTYLE

“Makeup can give you almost the same effects although they are not permanent,” he says. “Going under the knife should be the last resort.”

To some, the psychological notion of being natural perhaps plays a part. “I can still tell everybody proudly, I’m not artificial,” says Mak Tung,

owner of cosmetic academy MT Makeup, who is hesitant about undergoing aesthetic surgery. “But it’s harder to say that when I turn 50,” he adds.


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LIFESTYLE

LILLY WANG/CHINA DAILY ASIA WEEKLY

Men face facts

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oday, a real man need not be as rough and tough as Indiana Jones. Soccer star David Beckham has redefined masculinity, modelling underwear with his waxed legs and clean chest. It is no longer embarrassing for men to be called “metrosexual,” a term coined to describe metropolitan men willing to spend on appearance and splurge on fashion. For most commoners, the desire for an edge in the workplace is the real reason for paying attention to grooming. This notion seems to be supported by radical findings. US economics professor Daniel S Hamermesh points out in his book, “Beauty Pays”, that the best-looking people will earn about 10 per cent to 15 per cent more every year than the ugliest. Former British prime minister Tony Blair spent 1,800 pounds (US$2,750) on cosmetics and makeup artists during his time in office—compared to just 195 pounds by an average British woman on makeup and skincare over the same timeframe, as

“The saleswoman gave me an astonished look … I’m grateful she didn’t turn away.” – Shum Pak-hin, marketing officer and blogger on his visit to a cosmetic counter


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LIFESTYLE

LILLY WANG/CHINA DAILY ASIA WEEKLY

the media widely reported. Miu Lou, general manager of Beauty Tech, a Hong Kongbased makeup academy, is seeing an increase in nervous jobseekers looking for lastminute grooming service. Standard service ranges from helping clients to trim facial hair to hiding excessive blushing with makeup. “When over 100 candidates are competing for a job, your presentation and appearance are as important as your resume,” Lou says. “Some of our clients simply want a promotion.” Nevertheless, to reach out to the average Joe, cosmetic sales and marketers say the rule of thumb is: Don’t call it “makeup”. Male consumers are still squeamish about overtly feminine products with “bling bling” packaging and overwhelming advertising. Simplicity is the key. This psychology largely stems

“If a product is labelled as ‘for men only’, men (are) less embarrassed to use it.” – Mak Tung, owner of Cosmetic Academy MT Makeup

from ordinary men’s resistance to the emerging concept. Chinese University’s Jacobs is intrigued by a peculiar form of “split personality” among Asian men. “They want to do it but they don’t want to admit it. They

would rather have perfect skin without admitting they actually (use cosmetics),” she says. A gender-fluid male image is yet to take root in Asia’s bigger cities. The traditional gender role still has a part to play.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

“A change in attitude has to be co-opted by the (prevailing) gender norm in society … Overall, there is still a lot of patriarchal thinking in Asian societies,” Jacobs adds. On the business front, beauty firms avoid fragrances and colours in most cosmetics products for men. Others let their creative juices flow by packing men’s items into cigar boxes crafted with simple black-and blue colour schemes. The use of secretive makeup such as concealers and creams to cover up spots, blemishes and razor burn is gradually gaining popularity. Skincare for men is more on the upswing. It includes products such as facial cleansers, moisturisers, toners and exfoliants. “Men look for highperformance skincare that delivers results, just like women, but where they differ is that they

want fast, easy-to-use and easyto-understand products,” says Stephane de la Faverie, senior vice president and general manager with Lab Series, a luxury skincare brand for men by Estée Lauder. “Another thing men look for is travelability. Men are travelling more and more on business these days and being able to take their products along is a key consideration,” de la Faverie adds. The brand’s most popular product is an all-in-one face treatment that moisturises, repairs damage and controls shine throughout the day in one go. Taglines for male brands are crafted to ensure their psychological comfort. Lab Series’ “High Tech. High Performance. Skincare for Men. Only” provides a clue. “It’s all about psychology,” says Mak, owner of MT Makeup. “If a product is labelled as ‘for men only’, men (are) less embarrassed to use it.”

While men’s skincare appears to have a smaller market, it is the fastest growing sector in the beauty industry. “We don’t see this changing,” says de la Faverie. “You can already see a huge shift, especially in Asia, where (some) men are no longer using their wives’ or girlfriends’ products— they have their own.” Makeup artist Ranson Lau recalls seeing a ludicrous cardboard shelf at a grooming counter a few years back. The limited range of for-men products meant everything was cramped on the temporary shelf without even being categorised. “You’d find a cleanser, lotion, aftershave and deodorant on the same shelf, as each brand had only one or two products for men,” he says. “It’s perhaps getting a little bit (better) organised now.” Retailers are now flocking to create shopping spaces and


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

hoping to put men at ease. Some carve out spaces dedicated to men’s skincare products. Today, what puts Shum at ease is that whenever he shops at

beauty counters for men, he is surrounded by male customers and life-size billboards of handsome male celebrities. “The best part is when

you are in doubt, there is always a male sales (person) around,” Shum adds.


LIFESTYLE

| July 26-August 1, 2013

Keeping up corporate appearances PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY ASIA WEEKLY

Jennifer Lo China Daily Asia Weekly Hong Kong

S

ome women envy the impeccable makeup and hairstyles of corporate uniformed flight attendants or boutique sales staff. Others covet these employees’ perks of attending free beauty workshops and consultations for styling and grooming. Now, image consultants working with multinational

Attendees at a Beauty Tech training course. The Hong Kong-based style academy specialises in providing corporate image training to high-profile clients.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

companies want to make sure men are not excluded from this training. Companies are increasingly seeing an ardent need to establish a good first impression on the business front. “A clean and smart image is always the first step to get people to acknowledge you and consider you fit for a role,” Miu Lou, image director and general manager with Beauty Tech tells China Daily Asia Weekly. The Hong Kong-based beauty academy provides corporate image training programmes to clients ranging from Shangri-la Hotels to Nokia. Image consultants are often hired by multinationals to project an appropriate and effective image for their given company. They identify the firm’s vision and help to discover the best colours, uniforms, makeup and grooming skills for its staff. A basic three-hour grooming

session for 20 people costs around HK$10,000 (US$1,290). It’s not unusual to see leading providers in the service sector willing to invest in staff image, for male as well as female employees. All new male and female hires at InterContinental Hotels undergo grooming during their first three days of orientation. They are required to follow the hotel’s grooming guidelines called the “New Look”—covering hair, hands and fingernails, facial appearance, uniform and accessories. “Our staff are the most important part of the hotel experience,” says James Koratzopoulos, area general manager of InterContinental Hotels in Shanghai. “We are the representatives of our hotel and the business relies on our people to present its image.” Koratzopoulos says there is not a huge difference in the grooming training for male and female

staff, although the emphasis on male staff is a “sharp and fresh look that fits them perfectly”. The hotel chain encourages male staff to pay more attention to the little daily details, such as applying hair gel, light cologne and moisturiser. A training menu for men typically focuses on skincare and hygiene. The widespread belief is that if a man’s skin condition is good, he is already looking smart. “Male flight attendants don’t tend to need makeup, unless they use a concealer for dark eye circles,” says Ranson Lau, a makeup artist and tutor at Beauty Tech, saying partial makeup would suit most men who don’t spend much time on grooming every day. “To them, quick techniques are essential,” he adds. Facial hair trimming is next. Lou always recommends that male airline staff , including flight attendants and cabin crew, bring


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

their shavers and razors on board. Think about a 12-hour-plus flight to New York. “That’s probably the only way to keep your good looks,” she says. It is not surprising that airlines such as Cathay Pacific have hired grooming personnel for frontline departments to ensure all staff adhere to styling and uniform standards and guidelines. “For an airline industry, like any other service industry, uniform represents and projects the corporate brand and image,” says a spokesperson with Cathay Pacific, adding that airlines nowadays are keen to invest in training staff to project the right image. “(The company’s image) covers from head to toe, including how a person carries himself and (the way he interacts) with others,” she says. “Personal hygiene is also important as flight attendants have close

contact with passengers.” While makeup is sometimes unavoidable for male staff, image consultants tend to be cautious with their choice of words. “For men, we call it grooming, not makeup,” Lou says. The lighting of the workplace matters. As a corporate image consultant, Lou conducts site visits at various office locations from time to time. She says the unflattering fluorescent lighting accentuates under-eye puffiness, and it’s inevitable even for male staff to apply a concealer or foundation under dazzling lighting in purple or lime. “Makeup for women can be a complete transformation because it’s more acceptable that they use fake eyelashes,” Lou says. “But it could look weird on men.” Corporate image building for male staff can be tricky, as men are often reluctant to participate in programmes.

The hardest part about corporate male makeup is “it looks like you have done nothing at all, but you need to see the effect of makeup”, Lau says. Say for liquid eyeliners, an application too dense will make the appearance too feminine, he says. The same with applying foundation and powder. “If the colour contrast is too much from neck to face, you look like as if you are wearing a mask.” Looking ahead, men’s grooming in the corporate world isn’t something to be overlooked or dismissed. “What you wear and how you present yourself reflects on your awareness of the world around you,” says Beauty Tech’s Lou. Modern slim-fit suits worn by men are cut in a manner that hugs the body perfectly. “If you’re still wearing a suit that is rectangular in shape, how are you going to face a new generation of customers who


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

are just in their 20s or 30s? At least you need to make

Grooming guide

sure the client isn’t talking to an antique,” she adds.

HAIR • Must be clean, neat and tidy • Does not look wet and oily • No unnatural coloured hair • No mixed colouring or highlights permitted • Well combed, not loose • Fringe must be above the eyebrows • Extremes of any nature—in length, style or colour—are generally discouraged, except when treated as part of outlet concept • Short length not covering ears or collar • Sideburns must be trimmed regularly and cut straight at the end • Must not exceed half the

length of the ear • Not distracting or covering the face FACE • Must be clean shaven at all times • No beards, goatees or mustaches UNIFORM • Must fit well • Be well dressed • Clean & spotless • Jacket/blouse/shirt/cuffs buttoned • Tie/bow tied/knotted • Shirt/blouse tucked in • Correct name tag in the right place


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

NAILS • Clean, short • Nails should be manicured to same length no longer than fingertips • Nail decals, jewels and airbrush designs are not permitted • French manicure is not allowed ACCESSORIES • No jewellery • You are allowed a simple wedding band • No brooches, bracelets, anklets or lip/nose/earrings • Only one conventional metal watch or leather-strap watch can be worn • The colour of the leather strap must be black or dark brown

• The dial of the watch should be one colour. Colourful and large ones are not allowed FEET • Plain black shoes for men • Skirts must always be worn with pantyhose for women, black and no runs/holes • Shoes polished and in good condition OTHERS • Use perfume or cologne in moderation • Avoid garlic, onions and strong spicy smelling food before reporting for work • No protruding nasal hair

Source: Intercontinental Shanghai


FASHION

| July 26-August 1, 2013

south asia’s traditional dress allows a greater degree of CREATIVE LIBERTY AND FREEDOM

Sabrina Haq The Daily Star Dhaka

A

h! Summer in Dhaka. The wondrous, whimsical days juxtaposed with heat waves, rooftop parties, sudden downpours and casual gatherings. While unbearable humidity in the air makes our bodies restless and agitated, happy

The Daily Star

Shalwar kameez and the spirit of summer


FASHION

encounters with friends and family satiate our minds and souls. When the weather outside is rather unpredictable and largely uncomfortable, choice of clothing is crucial in determining one’s state of mind. The shalwar kameez (a traditional dress in South Asia) is a highly versatile, not to mention stylish option that allows a greater degree of creative liberty and freedom. Depending on one’s needs it can be dressed up or down to stunning effect. What’s more, it is an ideal solution for the evening as some people tend to find saris cumbersome and bulky in the balmy, stifling heat. It can be safely said that the shalwar kameez is the blue jeans of South Asia! Whether it is a day packed with manic meetings followed by dinner plan with friends, or the weekend with casual gatherings followed by an elegant soiree, the shalwar kameez is your best friend.

| July 26-August 1, 2013


FASHION

encounters with friends and family satiate our minds and souls. When the weather outside is rather unpredictable and largely uncomfortable, choice of clothing is crucial in determining one’s state of mind. The shalwar kameez (a traditional dress in South Asia) is a highly versatile, not to mention stylish option that allows a greater degree of creative liberty and freedom. Depending on one’s needs it can be dressed up or down to stunning effect. What’s more, it is an ideal solution for the evening as some people tend to find saris cumbersome and bulky in the balmy, stifling heat. It can be safely said that the shalwar kameez is the blue jeans of South Asia! Whether it is a day packed with manic meetings followed by dinner plan with friends, or the weekend with casual gatherings followed by an elegant soiree, the shalwar kameez is your best friend.

| July 26-August 1, 2013


FASHION

encounters with friends and family satiate our minds and souls. When the weather outside is rather unpredictable and largely uncomfortable, choice of clothing is crucial in determining one’s state of mind. The shalwar kameez (a traditional dress in South Asia) is a highly versatile, not to mention stylish option that allows a greater degree of creative liberty and freedom. Depending on one’s needs it can be dressed up or down to stunning effect. What’s more, it is an ideal solution for the evening as some people tend to find saris cumbersome and bulky in the balmy, stifling heat. It can be safely said that the shalwar kameez is the blue jeans of South Asia! Whether it is a day packed with manic meetings followed by dinner plan with friends, or the weekend with casual gatherings followed by an elegant soiree, the shalwar kameez is your best friend.

| July 26-August 1, 2013


FASHION

Casual wear

Hot days of summer forever conjure an image replete with a spectrum of light, pastel shades in our minds that are soothing, elegant and comfortable. This year candy shades in lighter avatar are all the rage. Bright, juicy hues of mango, pistachio, popsicle orange, fuchsia and lemon are fun, fruity and fresh. These shades have been given a facelift by toning down the brightness by a few notches. Suffice to say that the result is invigorating and very summery. In terms of fabric, linen, cotton, cheesecloth and voile are quintessential summer favourites as they allow the skin to breathe. There has been a major shift in cuts, patterns and designs this year. Long, flowing silhouettes of last year have been replaced by kameezes (long shirt) of midlength that are not too long or short. Uneven hems continue to enjoy their moment in spotlight.

| July 26-August 1, 2013

For everyday wear, sleeves can be made short due to the heat; variations in designs such as puff sleeves, tulip and Maggie sleeves can be used. Another cut that is quite stylish and fun is the Pakistani shirt or kurta, as we call it. It is basically a long tunic that is typically worn with leggings or skinny jeans, has high collar and full shirt sleeves that can be buttoned up at the elbow. A fashionable option that stylish women in Dhaka are quickly embracing, a kurta can see you through from day to night. While store-bought kameezes are great you can try coming up with your own designs to add personalised touch. It also sets one apart from the crowd. Places such as Gawsia, Chandni Chawk and Pink City among many others are teeming with beautiful fabrics, embellishments and other trinkets that if used creatively, can provide stunning results.

Evening wear

The nights of summer are long, sultry and magical. In order to add to the glam quotient of evening wear, flowing fabrics such as georgette, chiffon, crepe de chine and muslin are wonderful options. Such fabrics look ethereal in pastel shades and sparkling embellishments such as rhinestones, beads, stones and sequins elevate it to the next level. Empire-line, sweetheart necklines and V-necklines look wonderful with stonework. You can also opt for darker colours at night when it tends to be cooler. Deep hues of aubergine, plum, mustard yellow and azure are very hot this year. If colour is your focus, go easy on the bling. A jewelled brooch or stonework swatch is more than enough. Bias cuts, uneven hemlines and A-line long dresses are perfect for the night. Gown-style dresses are also very hot and stylish. You can experiment with sheer


FASHION

sleeves or go for sleeveless dresses too. They can be worn with Capri pants or “churidaar shalwars”. Throw in a pair of high heels to heighten the glamour!

Shalwar style

For a while the usually ignored shalwars (loose pajama-like trousers) are having a moment. There was a time when women everywhere preferred the loose, billowy shalwars but that mindset has changed. There is a plethora of styles to choose from, depending on your kameez. Churidaar shalwars are narrow, extra long, slim-fit pants that gather around the ankle in folds are perfect with form-

| July 26-August 1, 2013

fitting, long kameezes, gownstyle dresses and kurtas. Patiala shalwars have heavy, draped folds on a loose, harem-pant like silhouette. They go well with kurtas, mid-length kameezes and are perfect for casual wear. Capri pants or straight shalwars are narrow, long pants with no fold or drapes and complement long kameezes, dresses and gowns. This one is quite versatile as it can be worn with both casual and evening wear. There is also the sharara shalwar, which are basically culottes or wide leg pants typically worn with long kameez, gown and evening dresses. It can also be worn during

the daytime as they are loose and comfortable. A lot of women prefer to wear leggings in solid colour with kameezes and kurtas these days. It is a very easy thing to wear; due to its stretchable nature it allows movement and comfort. The shalwar kameez is a highly customisable, flexible attire that can be anything you want it to be. Keeping comfort and weather in mind it can be designed in a myriad of ways and is almost always a sartorial success. This summer make up your mind, let your creative juices flow and wear a beautiful piece that will make you the object of everyone’s envy!


FASHION

Each of the kameezes and saris are all completely one-of-a-kind Mehereen Aziz The Daily Star Dhaka

T

he dressy, adorned and elaborate shalwar-kameez set has recently become a popular outfit again for women of all ages to wear to parties. The long, flowing silhouette coupled with exquisite embroidery and sequin work promises a perfect synergy between the drama of a sari and the elegance and convenience of a kameez.

The Daily Star

Empress, where elegance meets exclusivity

| July 26-August 1, 2013


FASHION

Each of the kameezes and saris are all completely one-of-a-kind Mehereen Aziz The Daily Star Dhaka

T

he dressy, adorned and elaborate shalwar-kameez set has recently become a popular outfit again for women of all ages to wear to parties. The long, flowing silhouette coupled with exquisite embroidery and sequin work promises a perfect synergy between the drama of a sari and the elegance and convenience of a kameez.

Photos provided by The Daily Star

Empress, where elegance meets exclusivity

| July 26-August 1, 2013


FASHION

Since the glamorous kameez is now considered as essential to a lady’s wardrobe as a sari, many designers have started creating their own versions of this ensemble. But putting together a party kameez is harder than it seems; only a few get the combination of cut, colour and creativity right. However, Empress, the still relatively new boutique in town, seems to have ticked all of the boxes with flying colours and gathered quite a fan following already. Salma Adil, co-founder of Empress, started this boutique because she wanted to break out of the corporate mould and move on to more creative ventures. A chartered accountant who was working at the US Embassy for the past eight years, Adil has been fashion conscious and interested in designing from a young age. “I always used to dream about being a successful corporate lady,” reminisces Adil. “On the other

| July 26-August 1, 2013

hand, I also spent quite a lot of time learning sewing, embroidery, cutting, etc. with my mother back in the day. Once I conquered the corporate dream and raised a family, I felt that I was in the right time in my life to take a risk and do something different.” Adil found a partner in her Moroccan family friend Nora Lahlali, who also shared her interest in fashion. The two ladies decided that they wanted to cater to women who want to wear something exclusive and of unmatched quality. Adil and Lahlali started collecting materials and designing kameezes and saris in July 2011, and after a year’s worth of hard work, “Empress” was born in July 2012. “We chose the name ‘Empress’ because our outfits are for women who want to have a regal presence and stand out from the crowd wherever they go,” says Adil. “Our speciality is that we do not over-do the embellishments so

that our outfits sport an elegant look. The cuts, colours and fabrics speak for themselves.” Each of the kameezes and saris in Empress are all completely one-of-a-kind and the owners refuse to make a replica even when requested to do so. The fabrics and materials used are all brought in from abroad in order to maintain the exclusivity, since Empress promises to give its clients ensembles that cannot be found in any other boutique in Bangladesh. Because there are no duplicates made, every ensemble is a labour of love that takes ample time to create. Empress focuses on little details such as pleats, laces, buttons and stonework in order to maintain their signature “elegant and exclusive” look. The price of shalwar kameez sets range from 6,000-35,000 taka (US$80-$450), and saris range from 7000-65,000 ($90-$830).


FASHION

Keeping par with the glamourous outfits on display, Empress also hosts bags and shoes to help women complete their look. “All our shoes are of the Malaysian ‘Vincci’ brand, which we chose specifically because they are of top quality, durable but affordable,” explains Adil. There are flat sandals, stiletto heels, pumps, wedge-heels and also formal shoes for the office, all in a variety of different colours. Clutches of every colour,

| July 26-August 1, 2013

size and shape imaginable are also on display so that one cannot help but buy a few accessories matching their kameez. The clutch and party bags have been carefully collected by the owners from many different sources. Shoes range from 1,500-6,000 taka (US$20-80) and bags from 1,000-13,000 taka (US$12-170). With regards to future plans, Empress hopes to expand into other branches and also wishes to promote Vincci shoes

all over Bangladesh. With Eid and the wedding season coming up, it’s time for every woman to be prepared with a few exclusive outfits that are guaranteed to be one-of-a-kind. Address: House 22, Road 15 (and 13/A), Block D, Banani, Dhaka Log on to facebook. com/EmpressBD


FASHION

Little boutique caters to working women Mehereen Aziz The Daily Star Dhaka

T

his is the age of the online store. Women are starting their clothing businesses by uploading their photos on Facebook and then delivering their wares to eager cyberspace customers across the city. Not too long ago, however, women were starting little boutiques in their homes, maybe a room or two where they

The Daily Star

Doorjee for the everyday fabulous

| July 26-August 1, 2013


FASHION

Little boutique caters to working women Mehereen Aziz The Daily Star Dhaka

T

his is the age of the online store. Women are starting their clothing businesses by uploading their photos on Facebook and then delivering their wares to eager cyberspace customers across the city. Not too long ago, however, women were starting little boutiques in their homes, maybe a room or two where they

Photos provided by The Daily Star

Doorjee for the everyday fabulous

| July 26-August 1, 2013


FASHION

proudly hung their designs while waiting for their neighbours, relatives or friends to pass by. Word-of-mouth was the number one marketing tool, and a kameez or two would be bought over a cup of tea. In this way, a few boutiques in the suburbs of Dhaka ended up establishing themselves as quite solid businesses, and Doorjee is one such boutique. Started in 1998 by Selina Chowdhury, Doorjee is now managed by her daughter, Sasha Mansoor. Despite a growing clientele, Mansoor still prefers to limit Doorjee to one room in her apartment, where her designs are displayed in walls lined with hangers. “At Doorjee, our focus is on always being flexible and able to customise our designs to suit the clients’ needs,” she explains. Most of the display items are used as an initial design guideline by customers. They can

| July 26-August 1, 2013

then expand on their preferred fabrics, the length of the kameez, the style of cut, the buttons used, the neckline and so on. Doorjee makes all kinds of kameezes, from elaborate formals to simple casuals but the owner states that casual kameezes are both crowd favourites and their specialty. Thanks to the current revival of the shalwarkameez set, even a casual kameez is not limited in design anymore. And more and more women are preferring to add their own personal touches to whatever they wear, as a result of all the variations available. Doorjee offers the perfect solution: buy a ready-made kameez on which you can add whatever quirks you may desire. Kameezes are available in monotones, block prints, screen prints and mix-and-match fabric, and in unique and trendy cuts, each different from the next. Shalwars are also not left

far behind in Doorjee. “Nowadays, people make single-piece kameezes and don’t pay any attention to the shalwar,” opines Monsoor. “They wear just leggings or pants. But here at Doorjee we believe that the shalwar is also a very important part of the outfit. A beautiful shalwar can spice up a casual kameez.” The shalwars at Doorjee are available in many patterns, with an abundance of laces, embroidery and fabrics used. There are also different styles on display, ranging from the regular cut, to the trendy cropped shalwars, to straight leg to the currently “in” loose Patiala shalwar that puts harem pants to shame. These shalwars look best with plain kameezes of monotones and minimal prints so that the shalwars can be the star of the outfit. Doorjee uses both local and foreign materials. Foreign


FASHION

products are used in order to ensure that their pieces are unique and different from other shops. Monsoor describes Doorjee’s inspiration to be from natural elements, leading to the use of earthy tones and breathable fabrics to add elegance to their simple designs. Doorjee caters to a lot of working women, who want to look sophisticated at work but also be comfortable in the heat.

| July 26-August 1, 2013

Elegant evening wear that isn’t flashy or over-embellished is also popular with women. Price ranges are: single kameezes 1,800-3,000 taka (US$23-38), shalwars 800-1,500 taka (US$1019) and shalwar-kameez sets over 2,000 taka (US$26). For Eid, Doorjee will be making kameezes suitable for party wear with more embellishments than usual, and therefore with a higher

price tag. You can never have too many everyday kameezes, and when the price is so right, there can’t be much stopping you from paying a visit to Doorjee and taking your pick! Address: Doorjee, House 7, Road 23/A, Gulshan 1 (near Post Office), Dhaka Log on to facebook.com/ pages/DOORJEE-Boutique


ENTERTAINMENT

Singapore-born, Manhattan-based Kwan debuts with a book on the opulent lives of Asia’s mega-rich

Cheche V. Moral Philippine Daily Inquirer Manila

K

evin Kwan is right in quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald in his article for The Daily Beast, where I first heard of his novel, “Crazy Rich Asians”: “The rich are different from you and me.” And how true: It’s unfathomable and unimaginable for regular folks like us—and Rachel Chu, one of the protagonists in “Crazy Rich Asians”—the world that these obscenely wealthy live in as described in Kwan’s first novel.

From Kevin Kwan Books Facebook page

Rich, Asian and crazy

| July 26-August 1, 2013


| July 26-August 1, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

Intimately familiar

Rachel Chu, 29, described

somewhat derisively as an “ABC”—American-born Chinese—is about to attend the wedding of the childhood best friend of her boyfriend Nick Young in Singapore. What Nick doesn’t tell Rachel is that Colin Khoo and Araminta Lee’s nuptials is “the wedding of the year” in all of Asia, and is being covered by global press. Colin and Araminta belong to two of the region’s wealthiest families; Araminta herself is sort of an Asian supermodel. Worse, Nick fails to mention to his girlfriend of nearly two years that he belongs to this world of extraordinary privilege. That while he lived modestly like a regular New York academic— he and Rachel both teach at New York University—dashing, Oxford-educated Nicholas Young, 32, was actually born to old wealth, in a clan that’s uncharacteristically hush-hush about its own affluence (at

From Kevin Kwan Books Facebook page

Thus, reading about them becomes a vicarious treat, these lives of power, extreme indulgence and unabashed displays of wealth. Craving for authentic Aussie flat white coffee? Hop on a chartered plane to Oz, why not? And Kwan makes it even more delicious with interwoven tales of intrigue, gossip and power play, like a soap opera but with way better clothes, plusher settings and British accents. An Asian Downton Abbey in print. Kwan, the New York-based author himself grew up in this world until he was 12, in Singapore. It’s a setting with which he is intimately familiar, and it’s safe to conclude the stories and characters in his novel are a composite both of his imagination and actual events and people.

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ by Kevin Kwan, published by Doubleday

least in this age of new money and the attendant ostentatious displays of material possessions) that Rachel wouldn’t have likely known of his lineage, even in this era of Google. (If you can believe it, Nick grew up in a massive estate in the tiny islandestate, just behind the Singapore Botanic Gardens, that only a


| July 26-August 1, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

Family tree

The novel comes with an illustration of the family tree of the Young, T’sien and

Shang clans, three branches of a wealthy Singapore clan that traces its roots to China. Clan members have spread throughout Asia, the US, Europe, Australia and Canada. The novel also tackles the drama surrounding the marriage of Astrid Leong and Michael Teo. Astrid is Nick’s elegant cousin, the envy of Singapore socialites for her exquisite taste and beauty. When they were kids, Astrid’s father famously bought a London hotel—via a telephone call— because the snooty hotel manager looked down on his wife. Astrid is trying to keep up appearances of her happy marriage to this smart, good-looking man, whom she suspects of cheating on her. Unlike his wife, Michael comes from modest provenance, and he’s struggling to set up his own business. It seems he’s finding it hard to keep up with his inlaws’ lifestyle. Michael often wonders how different his wife’s

From Kevin Kwan Books Facebook page

few locals have ever heard of.) Worst, that Nick’s an only child, the last Young in his line, and the favourite of the family matriarch, his reclusive and aristocratic paternal grandmother, Shang Su Yi. Therefore expectations of him—and the woman he’ll eventually marry—are exponentially much higher. Which also means, Rachel, who moved around across the US when she was a child, as her single mother struggled to raise her, is in for a lot of competition. Even before she and Nick board their Singapore Airlines first-class cabins at JFK bound for Changi, several sets of well-manicured claws are already waiting to pounce on her, not least of all, Nick’s own mother, Eleanor Young.

Kevin Kwan signs books after the reading of his debut novel on June 7 in The Corner Bookstore in Madison Avenue, New York.

family’s ways are from his own. Kwan shows that to the rich, it also matters what kind of rich you are: Those who come from many, many generations of wealth look down on new money. It’s a world steeped in tradition; Nick is born to it, and yet it clashes


| July 26-August 1, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

with his modern and Western ways. He was, after all, schooled in Britain, and consequently ambivalent to the rules of aristocratic Asian traditions. In the lead-up to Colin and Araminta’s wedding, Annabel Lee rejoices quietly in triumph as she enters the home of Felicity Young and Harry Leong, Colin’s relatives. This was the culmination of all her hard work: moving their new billions to Singapore from mainland China, sending her beautiful daughter Araminta to the right schools. Now she’s finally invited into the threshold of this traditional and restricted circle, in this exclusive home for one, the entry of which isn’t guaranteed simply by wealth.

Top reviews

Annabel orchestrates the most lavish wedding for her daughter: Valentino couture on Araminta, the Vienna Boys Choir in the church ceremony, Cirque du Soleil at the reception.

Gold-digger

Behind it all is Rachel, as she struggles to wrap her head around this other life of Nick. Now she’s branded as a gold-digger, and the petty manoeuvrings of the women in Nick’s life are out to turn her Asian holiday into a nightmare. Kwan made sure to throw in a crazy-rich Asian fairy godmother in Peik Lin Goh, Rachel’s blackAmex-card-toting classmatefriend from Stanford, who dresses “A dizzily shopaholic comedy of crass manners...Crazy Rich Asians offers refreshing nouveau voyeurism to readers who long ago burned out on American and English

her ABC friend in head-to-toe couture so as not to appear out of place in Nick’s world. Kwan, in an interview with Vanity Fair, said he had to take out portions of his book on the advice of his editor, even as the incidents he described actually happened, because “it’s going to seem so unreal that people would spend this much money, or do something this excessive”. “Crazy Rich Asians” is a guilt-free joyride to a life of custom-built private jets, palatial homes, wardrobes of next-season couture, and bank accounts on steroids. The rich are different from you and me, yes. And how, indeed!

aspirational fantasies... A grand tour of a humorously grandiose and showoffy world. Mr Kwan knows how to deliver guilty pleasures. He keeps the repartee nicely outrageous,


| July 26-August 1, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

the excess wretched and the details wickedly delectable.” —Janet Maslin, THE NEW YORK TIMES

It is the very definition of a beach read.” —Michael Carl, VANITY FAIR

“Kwan is a modern-day Jane “A delightfully soapy novel about Austen, never mind gender or ‘High Net Worth Individuals’ from ethnicity, because he is writing about Singapore...Mr Kwan’s book eats the same human pride and prejudices its chiffon cake and has it too, that consumed Austen 200 years ago. simultaneously tut-tutting many In this comedy of manners about starof its characters for their vapid crossed lovers fighting against class materialism while revelling in the distinctions and family pressures, the milieu’s sybaritic excess....” —Sam comparison between the Bennets, Sacks, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Bingleys and Darcys of 18th-century England and the Chus, Leongs and “Crazy Rich Asians is like Dynasty Youngs of 21st-century Singapore on steroids with more private jets, is most appropriate.” —Christine bigger houses, and a lot more money. Mazur, WINNEPEG FREE PRESS


LIFESTYLE

| July 26-August 1, 2013 Photos from Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Facebook Page

A place to wed Is the Philippines the next top wedding destination? It’s entirely possible, says an American magazine editor

Alex Y. Vergara Philippine Daily Inquirer Manila

T

he Philippines is poised to become a venue for destination weddings. No less than American Yanni Tzoumas, editorial director and publisher of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, made this assessment after recent visits to Manila and Cebu.

Destination weddings have grown in popularity in the US during the last eight to 10 years.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

Upon the invitation of leading wedding and events planner Rita Neri, whose company is celebrating its 20th year in the business, Tzoumas and his photographer did a series of pictorials featuring the works of three of the country’s leading events stylists, such as Robert Blancaflor, Jing Tañada and Zenas Pineda. The images, including a number of food and venue shots, will come out exclusively in the magazine’s January 2014 issue. Tzoumas is married to Ormonde, founder and editorin-chief of her self-named magazine, which is considered by industry practitioners like Neri as the “bible” on anything and everything about chic, high-end weddings. Shangri-La Mactan and Shangri-La Makati hosted Tzoumas and his photographer during their 10-day stay in the Philippines. Neri planned

Destination weddings, like this one, have other activities lined up for guests, as such events can last from three to five days.

and coordinated their photo shoots, including trips to other leading wedding venues within Metro Manila and Tagaytay. “It’s my first time to be here,”

said Tzoumas. “Based on what I’ve seen so far, there’s clearly infrastructure in terms of getting to and from the Philippines. I’ve seen some of the venues,


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

and I think whoever comes here to the Philippines will benefit from the heightened level of service and hospitality.” Tzoumas likened the service he experienced to a “welloiled” machine. Staffers in the two five-star hotels he stayed in, for instance, were attentive, but their brand of service was far from intrusive. “They’re not over your head all the time,” he said. “There’s a sense of them observing you from afar, and when they see you, say, fiddling with something or in need of anything, they’re there.” Based on the limited number of venues he visited, he was impressed by the country’s natural beauty and rich heritage. His impressions were further bolstered after he watched a travel video produced by the Department of Tourism. Although he attended a grand, 850-guest wedding in Cebu upon the invitation of a Filipino friend

(the couple’s uncle), Tzoumas had yet to grace a real “destination wedding” to fully articulate his Philippine experience. “That was different,” he said, referring to the Cebu wedding he went to. “It was more of a local wedding since the couple and their parents are from here. Their uncle, who’s my neighbour, lives in the States.”

Alternative

An ideal tabletop isn’t about conforming within norms. Whatever look the couple chooses, it should exude good taste.

In Tzoumas’ book, destination weddings have gained popularity, at least in the US, in the last eight to 10 years. It’s an alternative, really, to staging one’s wedding where either the bride or groom and their immediate families reside. A destination wedding is definitely for more adventurous couples for whom money isn’t an issue. Ideally, it should be a location that appeals to both parties. It may not be out of


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

the country, as some couples in the US—based in Chicago, for example—stage their weddings in Florida, California or Hawaii. Mexico, the Caribbean, and certain towns and cities in Europe have also proven to be popular among Americans thinking of tying the knot abroad. “The idea behind a destination wedding is to pick an ideal location because the event could last up to four to five days,” he said. “To make their trips worthwhile, guests arrive days earlier, so there should be other activities to entertain them such as golf, tennis, sailing.” Typically, guests are welcomed in their rooms with gift baskets, which include a list of suggested activities. Unlike a regular wedding, a destination wedding is usually smaller and more intimate in scale. Apart from the exotic venue, what makes it special is the attendance of guests dear to the

This destination wedding somewhere in After the bride finds the right wedding North America can be replicated in the gown, the couple now focuses on food, Philippines, says Yanni Tzoumas, as the venue and reception. country has plenty of scenic venues run by highly trained personnel.

couple. After all, it’s no joke, especially in the US, to travel to a far-off, exotic destination just to attend a wedding. These guests must really love the couple for them to go out of their way and share in their celebration. “In most cases, everything will be paid for by the couple,” said Tzoumas. “Usually, guests would

just pay for their transportation.” Neri first invited Tzoumas and Ormonde several years ago when the couple were doing a book tour to promote their coffeetable book on weddings. The trip didn’t pan out, but the couple kept Neri in mind. When the opportunity did come earlier this year, Tzoumas e-mailed Neri to tell her that


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

he was attending a wedding in Cebu. He also requested her to coordinate photo opportunities, as he was interested in featuring new and inventive ways to create tabletops or table settings as interpreted by Filipino talents. “Asking Rita to collaborate with us wasn’t a leap in the dark,” said Tzoumas. “Although we haven’t met each other personally prior to this trip, I’ve seen her works online, and they’re high-calibre projects.” Neri invited Blancaflor and company to participate. Knowing how influential Grace Ormonde Wedding Style is, the three events stylists didn’t think twice about accepting the invitation. “We gave them free rein to do whatever they want,” said Neri. “I only requested that they submit either sketches or pictures before the actual photo shoot to give me an idea of what they intend to do. It was done mainly to avoid duplication.”

Pleasantly surprised

The events stylists were originally set to do a table setting each, but they all ended up doing two. Tzoumas was pleasantly surprised at the level of sophistication and creativity each artist brought, well, to the table. (Images and details of the tabletops have been embargoed until the magazine’s January 2014 issue hits newsstands.) Tzoumas didn’t know what to expect, but having featured hundreds of tabletops before, he wanted to see arrangements that exude “elegance with a touch of the avant-garde”. “I was hoping we would see a good fit for the magazine, something our readers would appreciate,” he said. “It’s not about conforming with the norms, but staying within good taste. I think we reach interesting levels when we surpass the norms. It’s about thinking outside the box.”

Grace Ormonde Wedding Style magazine

And he got what he wanted, as every tabletop he encountered had a different feel and character. Blancaflor, for instance, did away with the table linen in lieu of a wire mesh filled with dangling white flowers. “Doing away with linen


| July 26-August 1, 2013

LIFESTYLE

Alanah Torralba/Philippine Daily Inquirer Yanni Tzoumas, editorial director and publisher of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style.

has been done before,” said Tzoumas, “but the overall effect of Robert’s tabletop was totally new, totally fresh. For his second arrangement, he went grandiose with red flowers.” Pineda incorporated t’nalak, a fabric woven by tribes in southern Philippines, for an exotic touch. Tañada outfitted a table that formed the figure “8”. “It was such an inviting arrangement because you can see each other,” Tzoumas said, referring to Tañada’s handiwork. “And with all those dangling

crystals she decorated the ceiling with, you’re instantly transported to a whimsical garden.” After the bride finds the ideal wedding gown, said Tzoumas, the couple now focuses on the food and venue and all the minute details that go with it. They want everything to be special, since it’s their first time to host guests from both sides and tell them “what they’re all about”. Going for a destination wedding in the Philippines could very well be the ideal statement they’re looking for.


TRAVEL

| July 26-August 1, 2013

Green village and bamboo bicycles

Tourists ride bamboo boats called “coracles” through the forest swamps of Cam Thanh village. Viet Nam News


| July 26-August 1, 2013

TRAVEL

Viet Nam News

Cong Thanh Viet Nam News Hoi An

F

or those seeking refuge from the bustling tourist town of Hoi An, this ecotourism village offers a quieter vacation spot. Instead of cars and motorbikes, bicycles fill the peaceful streets. Cam Thanh village outside Hoi An town is a favourite ecotour destination for visitors. They love its 30ha of nipa palm forest and handicrafts made from palm and bamboo. Soon, they will have a choice of riding around on bambooframe bicycles being produced by a village craftsman—green bicycles in a green village. The village, which has a population of 2,000, offers bicycle tours, trips in primitive coracles, floating trips

Tourists ride bamboo boats called “coracles” through the forest swamps of Cam Thanh village.

among the palm trees and visiting craft people making traditional bamboo furniture. Cam Thanh is an option for visitors visiting Hoi An along with craft villages making lanterns, silk goods, timber furniture and pottery. Visitors can pedal along 5km of winding

flat roads around the tranquil village, just 3km from the major tourism hub of Hoi An. Bikes, available for rent in Hoi An, are the perfect stop-start way of travelling throughout the area. The nipa palm forest shadows the Thu Bon River, where tourists can explore the wetland


| July 26-August 1, 2013

TRAVEL

Viet Nam News

ecological system in coracles, craft of woven bamboo covered with pitch that date back to prehistoric times. The forest swamps are home to shrimps, fish and bird life. Tourists can use nets or lines to fish from the odd little craft. If they like, they can spend a full day in the forest. Lunch can be prepared on site, hopefully heaps of grilled fish and prawns caught in the morning. Pham Vu Dung, a Hoi An tour operator, said the combination of bicycle rides and fishing from coracles was a unique combination that appealed to visitors. For the past 100 years, villagers have been planting nipa palms to protect the village from the Thu Bon River when it floods and to make handicrafts. The forest, which is part of the world recognised bio-reserve Cham Island, has also helped protect the village from storms,

Cam Thanh village offers a range of sustainable bamboo transport options, on both water and land.

A traditional thatched roofed house in Cam Thanh village.

while, at the same time, created a stable income for the villagers. Craftsman Vo Tan Muoi, 71, and his son Vo Anh Tan, create unique bamboo furniture and can also build houses using bamboo and palm leaves for the roof and walls. “Local people used to make their houses from bamboo and palm. A house with walls made of split bamboo panels and

palm-leaf roof can be used for 30 years,� Muoi said, adding that the structures kept cool in summer, but warm in winter. He said new-style buildings had gradually replaced the old-style houses. But villagers preserve some old houses to please the tourists. The old man said his family produces furniture, souvenirs and interior decorations from


| July 26-August 1, 2013

TRAVEL

bamboo. His son, Vo Anh Tan, has even created a bamboo bicycle and unique decorations. “I have replaced parts of the steel frame with bamboo for those who would enjoy such an unusual environmentally friendly vehicle in a green village,” Vo Anh Tan said. “However, I just started production last year and the new design is still being tested.” He also creates many other objects from bamboo, including beds, sofas, jars, and an old manual telephone. The whole village is drawn into the craft work in its different stages. Vo Tat Thang, 40, who began the trade at the age of 12, said the bamboo was soaked in water for six months before being left out to dry in the sun for 10 days. “The process helps eliminate termites and wood-borers. Palm leaves dry in about two weeks and can then be used,” he said. Vo Tat Thang said he and a group of 10 craftsmen often made

traditional houses from bamboo and palm leaves to fill orders from around the nation. “We have built bamboo houses at many resorts, restaurants and cafes following orders from owners. The houses are unique in the days of concrete and steel,” he said. “Each house can be completed in 15 days for a cost of 400,000 dong (US$20) per square metre,” he said. “We get local householders to finish the processes to save time and create more work for our neighbours,” he said. The traditional houses are free from iron. “All bamboo panels are tied together with bamboo string, while beams and posts are locked in with bamboo nails.” Huynh Anh Phien, 61, earns around 100,000 dong (US$4.80) a day from processing palm. “It’s a hard job, but the craft earns more than rice farming. We plant palm trees and harvest the leaves after five years. The main crop

is between February and June.” Vo Thi Thuong, 45, makes 150,000 dong (US$7) a day working in the palm forest cutting leaves and putting them out to dry. “I’ve lived well for 20 years by growing palms. They need careful care in the first five years to grow well,” she said. “The forest protects the village from landslides during the October flood season.” Vice chairman of the city’s people’s committee, Truong Van Bay, said the green tours can not only provide income for villagers, but help preserve the district’s green heritage. “There are plans to build a craft production centre of 15ha in Cam Thanh village to display the arts and crafts we make,” Truong said. He said the centre would be near the village entrance, making it more convenient for tourists and villagers. Dinh Thi Thu Thuy, head of the city’s trade and tourism


| July 26-August 1, 2013

TRAVEL

friendly people and quiet life in Cam Thanh inspired Jean Cabane, 64, from Nimes in France to settle in the area four years ago. Japanese Hirukawa Yuki found the ancient town a good place to live when he gave up the fastpaced life in Tokyo two years ago. “Local people treat us like friends. There is no space between us. They shared our difficulties from the first days we moved to Hoi An. My neighbours even invited me to a party with their family for Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, he said. “Life is so easy. I love the peace and quiet and the smile of local people.” Meanwhile craftsman Vo Tan Muoi and his son Vo Anh Tan keep producing bamboo furniture from their bamboo house in the centre of the village. The junior Vo expects to soon finish two bamboo bicycles as prototypes for mass production.

Viet Nam News

office, said Cam Thanh village was the best local village to explore by bicycle. “The forest of nipa palm, which connects with Tra Que village and Cua Dai beach, is a full-day tour option. Tourists can also learn how to plant vegetables and rice with farmers in Tra Que before testing their skills on bamboo and palm furniture production at Cam Thanh,” said Dinh. She said Hoi An hosted 1.6 million tourists last year, including 600,000 foreigners, who enjoy its peace and beauty. Mark Wyndham, who runs a motorbike adventure tour company in Hoi An, said the town was safe and easy to live in. “I lived for a long time in Ha Noi and HCM City, but Hoi An is the right location for me to do business. I find life here very comfortable and was given a residential permit from the city’s administration,” he said. The evergreen rice fields,

Bicycles provide environmental-friendly transit around the quiet village.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

TRAVEL

The ‘other’ Fuji Jin Kiyokawa The Yomiuri Shimbun Chugoku

I

’ve always been a bit out of the mainstream. Although most people would think of climbing Mt. Fuji, which was officially registered as a Unesco World Cultural Heritage site, I set my sights on another “Fuji” far from Tokyo.


| July 26-August 1, 2013

TRAVEL I headed to Mt. Daisen (1,709 metres), also known as “Hoki Fuji”, the tallest mountain in the Chugoku region. Hoki is an old term referring to the western part of the prefecture. The mountain and its surrounding areas have a certain charm. There is a skiing area that once served as a venue for a winter national athletic meet and a ranch whose soft-serve ice cream is popular with visitors. Additionally, there are other

facilities at the foot of Mt. Daisen where visitors can enjoy scenic views against the backdrop of the magnificent mountain. Constructed in 1999 in Nambu in the prefecture, Tottori Hana Kairo (Tottori flower corridor) is one such area. “There was a tug-of-war between nearby municipalities over the flower park. But the deciding factor was the beauty of Mt. Daisen,” said Shinichi Kamon, 36, the spokesman of the facility.

Upon entering the flower park, I spotted a large dome-shaped greenhouse that stands in parallel with the mountain. Against the mountain scenery and Hana no Oka flower hill, which was blooming with poppies of orange, yellow and other colours, the view was in a word, picturesque. The Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography in Hoki in the prefecture also commands a fine view. From the window, I could see an inverted Mt. Daisen


| July 26-August 1, 2013

TRAVEL

reflected in the water outside. “Mr. Ueda’s photo compositions are interesting, and many of them feature strange designs using shadows. He had aimed at becoming a picture book illustrator, so he has a sense for picture book painting,” said photo museum director Michihiko Mori, 50. Ueda, who spent his entire life in Tottori Prefecture, cautioned others against photographing rural scenery. In his photo of the Tottori Sand Dunes, a person sticks out against the scenery, giving the viewers the impression the photo was taken in an exotic foreign land or even another universe. Only a few of Ueda’s works feature Mt. Daisen, even though he primarily focused on a panoramic view of the mountain in his later days and purchased land there for his gallery. With the help of the town government, the gallery evolved into an art museum. As this year marks the

100th anniversary of his birth, the museum plans to host various memorial events.

The mountain’s shadow

Visitors can drive up to the start of a mountain trail about

800 metres above sea level that leads up to Daisenji temple. From that point, there is a spectacular view of the rugged north side of the mountain. At the height of its power, Daisenji temple, built in the Nara period (710-784), had more than 100 affiliated temples to train mountain worshippers and 3,000 warrior priests. “The area surrounding Daisenji was crowded as cow and horse markets were held there during the Edo period [1603-1867]. But mainly because of the antiBuddhist movement in the Meiji era [1868-1912], there are only 10 affiliate temples remaining,” lamented Koyu Odate, 53. Odate is a priest at the Enryuin temple, one of the 10 remaining affiliate temples. While walking around Daisenji, I found many traces of old temples. Previously, I thought I could enjoy a trip to Daisen without having to climb the mountain. But


| July 26-August 1, 2013

TRAVEL

my view was shaken after Shigeaki Yatagai, 60, director of the Daisen Museum of Nature and History, told me that all the local fifth-grade primary school students trekked up the mountain as a school event. In the climax of the Naoya Shiga novel, “Anya Koro” (A Dark Night’s Passing), there is a description of “Kage Daisen” (the shadow of Mt. Daisen): “On the highest mountain in the Chugoku region, with its strong and clear ridges, it was very rare to see the shadow of the mountain in the lowlands. Kensaku [the protagonist] was impressed by the view.” Kage Daisen can only be seen for a limited time at dawn near the mountaintop. At 2:30am, I woke up at the temple I was lodging at and headed to the summer mountain trail. The path was almost straight and had a sharp incline. Thankfully, the terraced slope meant I could make the trek in normal walking shoes. The clean mountain air and

vegetarian meal I’d eaten for dinner put me in good spirits. The wonderfully starry sky, the distant night view of Yonago, and the way the sky turned from purple to pink at dawn encouraged me. It took two and a half hours to reach the summit. The shadow of the mountain loomed over a sea of clouds in the morning sunshine. Beyond the mountain’s shadow, I could see the Yumigahama Peninsula. After basking in the view, I made my way down the mountain. The rest of the day was spent at the Kaike hot spring, which was less than a 30-minute drive from the Sea of Japan. Having seen the mountain’s shadow, I was filled with a sense of fulfilment as I enjoyed the mild hot spring and feasted on delicious sea food. Not so bad for a trip planned by someone out of touch with the mainstream.

Travel tips

It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes from Haneda Airport to Yonago Airport. From there, it is about 20 minutes by bus to JR Yonago Station. From the station, transfer to another bus to the area around Mt. Daisen. On Saturdays and Sundays during the tourist season, a special round-trip “Daisen Loop Bus” is available. For more information, call the Tottori prefectural tourist association at +81 (0857) 39-2111, or the Daisen town tourist information office at +81 (0859) 52-2502.


DATEBOOK

| July 26-August 1, 2013

Shanghai

Metallica live in Shanghai

Bangkok

Sonic Bang: The Ultimate International Music Festival Sonic Bang brings renowned artists from all over the world to six stages for one full-day of non-stop partying. Performing artists include Jason Mraz, Owl City, Pet Shop Boys and Pittbull. When: August 24 Where: Impact Muang Thong Thani Info: sonicbang.net

Nine-time Grammy award winner and known as one of the most successful heavy metal bands in the world, Metallica performs live for their Chinese fans for the first time. When: August 13 Where: Mercedes Benz Arena, Pudong


DATEBOOK

| July 26-August 1, 2013

Jaipur, India

Teej Festival

Seoul

Hong Kong

Korea Style Week 2013

Air Supply live in Hong Kong

Fifty prestigious galleries from Japan and abroad come together to showcase their finest, most sophisticated pieces at this event. Here, lovers of contemporary art will appreciate the opportunity to view some of the modern world’s most exquisite works in an informative and stylish manner. When: July 20-21 Where: Hotel Granvia, Osaka Info: artosaka.jp

Air Supply takes the stage in Hong Kong to thrill fans of the Australian soft rock band, whose albums have sold over 100 million copies worldwide throughout their 38-year career. When: August 11 Where: Hong Kong Asia World Expo Info: hkticketing.com/eng

Also commonly known as the festival of swings, the teej marks the coming of the monsoon season in India, throughout which rain falls on parched land to make it fertile. It is also an important festival for married women, as the festival commemorates the union of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, after she paid penance of 100 years separation from him. During the festival, women don their finest clothes and jewellery, and have their hands painted with henna. They then celebrate by singing songs about the advent of the monsoon while swinging from swings hung on trees. When: August 9-10 Where: All over Rajasthan state, especially in Jaipur


Asianews July26-August1, 2013  

Asia News Network (ANN) is the worlds most active media alliance with 21 member newspapers in 18 countries.

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