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THE NATION ASIANEWS January 4-10, 2009



Goal! Hot!





January 4-10, 2009


Around Asia














C o v er : E kkarat S u kpetc h


Editor: Phatarawadee Phataranawik | Deputy Editor: Khetsirin Pholdhampalit | Photo Editor: Kriangsak Tangjerdjarad | Photographers: Ekkarat Sukpetch, Supakit Khunkun, Thachadol Panyaphanitkul | Writers: Pattarawadee Saengmanee, Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul, Sirinya Wattanasukchai, Achara Deeboonmee | Contributor: JC Eversole, Pinanong Panchuen | Designers: Nibhon Appakarn, Pradit Phulsarikij and Ekkapob Preechasilp | Copy Editors: Luci Standley and Rod Borrowman| Sub Editor: Paul Dorsey | Contact:, e-mail:, (02) 338 3461-2. ACE is published by NMG News Co Ltd at 1854 Bangna-Trat Road, Bangkok

What’s Hot

Off to work in an Aston Martin

Code for creativity

P h o t o / epa

P h o t o / S u pakit K h u mk u n


ondon Mayor Boris Johnson recently unveiled a new design for the city s iconic Routemaster double-decker buses and vowed to put a 21stcentury version of the vehicle on the road by 2011. The city sold off its original fleet of red Routemasters three years ago after almost 50 years of service. They were replaced with new buses including the 18-metre single-deck bendy model. Aston Martin-Foster, the sports-car manufacturer based in Warwickshire, — more associated with James Bond — is the joint winner of a competi-

Whispers in the wind


on’t be embarrassed at a party by bumping into someone wearing exactly the same outfit — even though it just proves that two of you have great taste! Instead, check out Code 10 at Siam Paragon, the new boutique dreamed up by Elle Thailand magazine editor Kullawit Laosuksri and Paragon chief Chadatip Chutrakul. The Bt30-million-boutique stocks limited edition outfits created by such top designers as Nagara, Jirat Subpisankul of Sanshai, T-ra Chantasawas of T-ra and Patsarun Sriluansoi of Rea especially for Code 10 under the concept “showcase party dress”. The boutique also offers a made-to-order service that takes around two weeks. For details, call (02) 610 8000, extensions 8082-6. ||

tion to design a new Routemaster bus for London. The winning entry is a team effort with leading architects Foster and Partners. The new model will use environmentally friendly technology such as diesel-electric power and lightweight metal bodies. The design, like the original Routemaster, has an open rear platform to allow passengers to jump on and off and would use conductors to collect tickets. The original Routemaster was introduced to the capital’s roads in 1956 based on a London Transport department design.


ith cool breezes delighting urban dwellers, Stuff, the new shop-cum-cafe in Ekamai Soi 22, has converted its large garden into a cool wine bar. A variety of wines from France, Chile, Australia and California plus bubbly are

served along with light snacks like tuna salad. Those who find it too cool outdoors can sit move into the two-storey wooden house and try on the trendy costumes (for party time) on the upper floor, or cosy up in one corner of the ground floor, which also serves as the restaurant. Stuff is at 44 Ekamai Soi 22 and is open daily from 10 to midnight. During festive season, the store is open till midnight. Call (081) 824 1010 or (02) 391 4625. Januar y 4-10, 2009





Aerosmith made more money from Guitar Hero: Aerosmith than either of its last two albums.

Ryan Nakashima Associated Press


isa hsuan, a 30-year-old veterinarian, belts out “Call Me”, a song that the rock group Blondie released 28 years ago, accompanied on fake guitars and drums by three Web programmers. A smoke machine puffs nearby. They’re playing the video game Rock Band 2, which along with Guitar hero is rocking bars and living rooms across the US. Many songs’ sales have more than doubled after release in one of the games, and well-known bands have started lining up to provide new music direct to the game makers. Now record labels - noticing what they’re missing and struggling as CD sales tumble - are looking for a bigger piece of the action. Although labels get some royalties from the play-along games, they’re often bypassed on image- and likeness-licensing deals, which the bands control and which account for a |6|

Lisa Hsuan and friends play Rock Band at a Los Angeles club.

rising proportion of musicians’ income. Meanwhile, the Recording Industry Association of America pegged its members’ sales at $10.4 billion in 2007, down 11.8 per cent from the year before. By comparison, Guitar Hero and Rock Band 2 video game bundles

Playing Guitar Hero 3

sales of music-video games more than doubled this year, hitting $1.9 billion. Aerosmith made more money off the June release of Guitar hero: Aerosmith than either of its last two albums, according to Kai huang, co-founder of RedOctane, which first developed Guitar hero. Artists from Nirvana to the Red hot Chili Peppers have seen sales of their music more than double after being released on the games. Coming soon, the Beatles will be on MTV Games. “It’s a way to save the music industry,” says Grant Lau, a 40-year-old bar worker. he points out that the games protect artists and recording companies from piracy because buyers have to own the console equipment to enjoy new music, which they must purchase through sanctioned game sites or on special game-formatted discs. January 4-10, 2009

the best and the newest The Wooster Group’s “The Emperor Jones”


Tim Crouch’s “England”

Chang Khun Paen”. “There are not many ghost stories or characters in classical Thai theatre,” she says, “so I’ve picked Wanthong and aim to show that, although she died, she still worried about her son Phra Wai she cannot let go of her maternal bond.” The other participants are Nanjing’s Ke Jun, director of the Jiangsu Kunqu “Book of Ghosts” Opera Troupe, Jakarta’s Sardono Kusumo, a classical Javanese dancer, and Pawit Mahasarinand “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” - an Taipei’s Li Baochun of the Beijing op“adults-only” production with explicit era’s Li family. he hong Kong Arts Fes- sex scenes, violence and Dmitri ShostaThe production is part of the threetival, one of the most kovich’s boldly experiyear performance-andsignificant such gather- mental music. research project that, in ings of performances in Theatre buffs are eager its next phases, will althe region, celebrates its t o s e e t h e W o o s t e r low different genera37th year in February Group’s “The Emperor tions of traditional and and March, with more stirring classical Jones”, Vesturport’s contemporary artists to and modern dance, music, opera and “Metamorphosis” and work together in the theatre. Tim cross-cultural setting. Dance fans will not want to miss the Crouch’s three works Through workshops, National Ballet of China’s adaptation of “England”, “An Oak lectures and the most romantic story in Chinese lit- Tree” and “My Arm”. forums at many arts erature, “The Peony Pavilion”. The festival will prescentres across Asia, perOscar-winner Juliette Binoche makes ent works never staged formances, documentaher dance debut in “In-I”, a elsewhere, such tion of the creative proVesturport’s collaboration with celeas “Book of cess and education “Metamophosis” brated choreographer Ghosts”, an materials will be created Akram Khan, who in turn experiment and disseminated. acts and sings for the first in fusing traditional Asian The Thai cohort, apart from Patraperforming arts with contempo- vadi, includes Silpathorn Award-wintime. Music highlights inrary theatre. ner Manop Meejamrat and this writer. clude the Chicago SymInspired by Zhong Sicheng’s After four performances at the hong phony Orchestra, con“ L u G u i B u ” ( “ B o o k o f Kong Academy of Performing Arts, ducted by Bernard Ghosts”), written during the “Book of Ghosts” will be in Taipei a haitink, the reunion of Yuan Period, Danny Yung di- week later, and Bangkok a month after jazz masters Chick Corea and rects four traditional-arts that. John McLaughlin, with their masters to experiment with new Five Peace Band, and Lisa dance and theatre. Ono, the best Japanese interOne of them, Patravadi right across the region preter of contemporary bosMejudhon, will perform The National The Hong Kong Arts Festival 2009 from her new 15-minute solo sanova. Ballet of China’s February 6 to March 8 takes place at 31 “The Peony Opera aficionados are work, adapted from the venues across the city. See Pavilion” booking tickets for the episode depicting Phra Latvia National Opera’s Wai’s defeat in “Khun


January 4-10, 2009



Where fun goes to play Your mission for Children’s Day next week: Visit the Million Toy Museum Pattarawadee Saengmanee

p h o t o / ekkarat s u kpetc h


f buying your kids some new toys sounds like a good way to celebrate National Children’s Day next Saturday, you and your wallet should be at Ayutthaya’s new Million Toy Museum. Home to thousands of rare old toys from around the world, the museum is the brainchild of Krirk Yoonpun, a noted writer and illustrator of children’s books. The upper floor is crammed with rare old toys, ranging from dolls and tin wind-ups and action figures to battery-operated robots. Downstairs there’s a display of antique artefacts – photographs, radios, Buddha images, stamps and glassware dating as far back as the Sukhothai period. Krirk set aside some space as a stage for his creations, a small shop stocked with cute, colourful products, among them T-shirts, canvas handbags, ceramic mugs, soup cups, notebooks and wind-up toys. “Museums around the world always have a souvenir shop, which it is one way to inspire your visitors, and the products reflect the unique culture of each country,” he says. Another corner has interesting children’s book from Krirk’s publisher, like “Kratai Noi Nee Mae” and “Khun Loong Plook Ton Mai”. His own books teach kids about love, doing good deeds and even global warming. Most of the cool items on sale have prints of elephants, whales, flowers and cartoon characters. “The designs link to some of the ideas in my books,” Krirk says. “When they’re painted on a Tshirt or glass, they look more lively.” The museum hosts drawing classes every Saturday morning and there are plans for storytelling events and celebrity art exhibitions.

Grab a notebook with a cover inspired by endangered animals, each costs Bt75.

Cute ceramic mugs with pictures of elephants and whales for Bt180.

A zinc toy traveller and driver for Bt450. A selection of canvas shopping bags with cartoons, each Bt250.

Lovely white T-shirts with animal prints cost Bt220 each.

Give your children sweet dreams by reading them Krirk Yoonpun’s fairytales. The museum owner writes about rural life and morality.

A tin wind-up duck and penguin for Bt150.

How many toys? The Million Toy Museum on U-Thong Road next to Wat Banomyong in Ayutthaya. It’s open daily except Monday from 9 to 4. Call (035) 328 949 or (081) 890 5782 or visit ||

Januar y 4-10, 2009

P h o t o / E kkarat S ykpetc h


The new shrines to soccer With cameras, coaches and artificial turf, a flock of new football pitches are packing players in late

Kitchana Lersakv anitchakul


ootball’s elevation in Thailand from “mere” obsession to fullfledged business is being seen as a good sign of things to come for an economically challenged 2009. “Seventy or 80 per cent of Thai men love football,” says Kaveepan Eiamsakulrat, Manchester United fan and managing director of the Crystal Football Club, a pitch on Ekamai-Ramindra Road. “Landowners used to just invest in golf courses - they never thought football would become the business proposition it is these days. All you need is a few rai.” It’s a business proposition that boomed last year, with more than 100 football grounds opening in Bangkok and its suburbs, especially between the EkamaiRamindra Expressway and Kasetnavamin, where there are now at least 15. Most aren’t the vast expanses normally used for the great game, of course. They commonly offer room for five- or seven-aside sports like futsal.

January 4-10, 2009



P h o t o / E kkarat S ykpetc h

S-One’s Astro Turf made in Italy

“Mini-soccer restaurant, like pitches are easier to S- One’s Pete Pira play on,” Kaveepan and Crystal’s Bar notes. “A full-size Bah Ball. outdoor pitch needs “S-One,” says 11-man teams and is Vinij, “is a novel subject to seasonal seven-a-side indoor changes. It has to pitch with multimeclose for weeks dia - three cameras because it gets muddy for each of the four when it rains. pitches and big “There are some screens - as well as full-size pitches deep seating for 400 and down a few sois, but even a lucky mascot S-One’s Ice One ice cream Bar then you’ve got the called Nong Score. problem of land “You can have prices and a lack of other facilities.” your match videotaped and make “There are more than 20 football copies.” pitches coming us, showing just how The artificial turf is dotted with substantial the growth is in the rubber granules. business,” says Vinij Lertratanachai, “For S-One I choose the best kind, managing director of RS Fresh Air and AstroTurf made in Italy,” says Vinij. S-One on Bangna-Trat Road. “It’s recommended by FIFA because “The mini-soccer pitch with artificial it’s almost as soft as real grass.” turf is very comfortable and conveCrystal’s XP-PRO matches Euronient. Everybody can play anytime, pean specifications, says Kaveepan. from morning till after midnight.” Their raves aside, one local player The new football pitches are like golf who’s tried out the synthetic grass isn’t links and tennis courts in their range impressed. and quality of their equipment and “I can’t always predict where the ball side facilities like dressing rooms and is going to bounce because there’s pro shops, and they often have more of a slide to the fake turf,” he | 10 |

says, speaking on condition of anonymity. S-One — the “S” is for soccer — represents a Bt100-million investment. The surface for its four 35-by-50metre pitches, covering eight rai, cost Bt20 million. Crystal has two pitches of 20x40m each, each costing Bt7 million, and one full-size field. Together they cover just over six rai. Both facilities rely heavily on sponsors.

January 4-10, 2009

S-One’s computer games

S-One’s control room

“Setting up a football pitch is like organising a concert with reasonable ticket prices,” says Vinij, who’s put on many concerts. “Sponsors cover the huge cost of the production, so that it’s possible to rent a pitch for just Bt1,500 an hour.” Apart from games, the facilities are hired out for exhibitions, fashion and music shows and corporate gatherings. “We’re forming our out team and have a soccer school, the Crystal Soccer Academy, which is getting lots of attention from parents,” says Kaveepan, who’s already planning more branches. With plans for new outlets in Bangkhae and Ramindra, Vinij too is

Goals waiting to be scored

keen to see Bang Na youth visit his club. He lets them play free and even provides a coach on weekends. Can the new shrines to soccer last? “The best will survive,” Vinij says, while Kaveepan adds that it comes down to location. His club is next to his Crystal mall, so he’s got husbands playing ball while their wives shop.

Crystal’s XP-Pro matches European specifications January 4-10, 2009

S-One: (02) 746 7433, Crystal Football Club: (02) 515 0755, (082) 085 0755, 7 Shoot: (089) 488 4080, (086) 514 7795, The Kick 48: (085) 917 7058, PSW: (086) 331 7120, (081) 754 9816, Greenfield FC: (084) 084 4748, Shooter NFC: (086) 700 5207, (02) 907 8067, Kickfootball: (086) 061 7474, Iyara: (084) 110 9781, V Park: (081) 702 6566, Premier Football Club: (089) 783 8798, Sathu 41: (081) 934 4741, Bigfoot FC: (081) 131 3122, Vichupa: (081) 916 5025, (081) 925 5954, Rich Court: (086) 881 7377, (089) 910 8519, (085) 063 3856, Stadium Football Park: (02) 964 5077, (083) 907 4477, Boonma Football Club: (081) 735 3830, (02) 914 4861, Ratchapruek Football Club: (02) 501 7969, (089) 494 4030, Meetfield Football Club: (086) 306 0005, Piyaphan Football Club: (02) 412 7370, (081) 194 5118, Gusto Soccer: (084) 435 6424, | 11 |

Hip Hangout

Argentina – wine’s sleeping giant




One of Bangkok’s oldest restaurants redesigns its menu to tempt new-generation diners Pinanong Panchuen

P h o t o / T atc h ad o n P a n y ap h a n it k u l


harani, one of Bangkok’s oldest restaurants, gets a new take on life, opening its latest branch in the Emporium To w e r w i t h a m e n u o f traditional home-cooked meals spiced up by modern twists designed to appeal to the young generation. It’s called B-Garden by Bharani and you can find it on the ground floor in the corner with windows that look out on the greenery of Benjasiri park. The small and airy eatery is simple, clean and comfortable with wooden tables and sofas and a decor that’s worlds away from the mother restaurant on Sukhumvit. Gourmets will be in their element though, as the menu still lists such signature dishes as rice stew with cow tongue and savoury raw hamand-beef taco. There’s also a wide range of coffee and snacks as well as free WiFi. Lieutenant Aphai Isarabhakdi opened the original Bharani restaurant on Sukhumvit Road in 1949 and it quickly become known for introducing Western dishes – with Thai twists – to Bangkok diners. Sixty years on and Bharani is still in the family, now run by


a third-generation member Paniti Vasuratna. There’s already a branch in the Emporium – on the sixth floor at the Thailand Creative and Design Centre – but the new B-Garden, says Panitit, is specifically designed to cater to the young set. Bharani’s most famous dish – fried Vienna sausage – can be found here and it’s served Thai-style with ketchup and sauerkraut. The chefs don’t use an electric rice cooker but pour off the excess water instead. Paniti says the rice is better for fried rice dishes as the grains don’t stick together. Recommended dishes include fried rice with beef jerky, fried noodle with river prawns and spaghetti in green curry seafood. Also on offer are beef satay imported from Australia, sticky rice served with beef from Argentina and rib-eyes steak with jaew dipping. The most popular dessert is fried banana a la mode with a choice of syrup or vanilla ice cream. B-Garden by Bharani is on the ground floor of Emporium Tower. It’s open daily from 9.30 to 9. Call (02) 664 9299.

entioning the word “cot” to most people will no doubt trigger memories of sleeping on a narrow, uncomfortable temporary bed. To the French around Cahors, however, it will invoke pleasurable smiles over the thought of a deep-ruby-coloured wine effusing the scent of blackberries and forest flora. Cot is a popular, highyielding grape used as a blending mainstay for the region’s hearty red wines. Grown in Argentina, the same grape has risen to world prominence under its more familiar name, malbec. Argentine perseverance and terroir have boosted malbec to unexpected popularity as a varietal wine. New vineyards are being planted in California, Chile, China and France. Chewy, complex and capable of graceful ageing, malbec extracts special character from clear Andes mountain air and viticultural expertise that optimises the use of Argentina’s rich soil and irrigated vineyards. Brought to South America as cuttings 150 years ago, malbec – along with cabernet sauvignon and merlot – has propelled the country’s rise to being the fifth-largest wine producer in the world, with only a fraction of its total production being exported. White wines have also flourished in Argentina, with chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier winning accolades not only for lush varietal character but for exceptionally competitive pricing. Like malbec, torrontes – a white Spanish grape – has achieved fame in Argentina for its lush floral aromas and viscous body. Success with malbec along with other popular varietals has draw heavy investment from wine producers in Europe, the US and even neighbouring Chile. The Lurtons of Bordeaux fame, Gajas of Italy and Montes from Chile are but a few who have expanding interests in Argentine wineries. With its pronounced fruit flavours, generally mild tannins and substantial body, malbec lends itself well to spicy Thai dishes, particularly grilled meats and fish. Despite excessive local taxes, Argentine wines are gaining favour as among the best value-for-money wines in Thailand. Brands to look for include Terrazas, Finca el Portillo, Pascual Toso, Kaiken and Signos. Januar y 4-10, 2009

Free to be Honda revs up youthful creativity with its +Freedom Cafe, bulging with books, food and inspiration

K he t sirin Pholdhampalit

Januar y 4-10, 2009


P h o t o / S u pa k it K h u m k u n a n d c o u rtes y o f + F reed o m C afe


ood and beverages, books and CDs, clothing and accessories – and creative ideas – are all conveniently under one roof at the new +Freedom Cafe. Motorcycle maker AP Honda has set the place up as a “lifestyle community” for teenagers. Designed by celebrated architect Duangrit Bunnag, the sleek, three-storey building in Siam Square boasts brick walls and warm lighting, a cosy warren intended as a “freedom space for freedom ideas”. The first floor is a relaxing place for chitchat and getting updates on fashion trends. Clothing and accessories bearing the Honda logo are on sale, among them shirts, T-shirts, jeans, belts, bags and wristwatches. You can sit on colourful, comfy chairs and sample the food and drinks created by Jutaporn “Yui” Techapaiboon of popular restaurant Tessa. The signature drinks here are the Bt85 Zoomer Choc, a double-chocolate frappe, and the Monkey Chino, a hot Talent unchained cappuccino with monkey+Freedom Cafe is in the shaped, steamed-milk foam, Bonanza parking zone at Siam worth Bt75. Square. It’s open weekdays from Light dishes are also served, 9 to 9 and weekends from 8 to like the Bt80 Freedom Salad, 10. Call (02) 658 4000. which has organic vegetables and your choice of dressing and topping – tuna, chicken, ham or boiled eggs. You should also try the Bt85 Crispy Sandwich – stacks of tortilla slices encasing salmon, chicken and fresh vegetables. The Bt65 Pan-wich is a thick-and-soft crust stuffed with ham, cheese and bacon. For dessert lovers, the Bt95 Scoopy Loop is ice cream with fresh strawberries and loop-shaped flakes that look like motorcycle wheels. The second floor is all about knowledge. Books on design, decoration and art – all arranged by the bookshop Create8 – are on sale, together with CDs in various genres. Internet-ready computers are available for free, and you can plug in your own notebook. The Freedom Space to showcase creative masters is on the third floor. Young talents get free use of the stage, and there are no limits on what you can present!


Good for the heart, great for the belly Wang Nam Kheow’s bucolic beauty and fresh farm produce combine for a perfect weekend drive Pattarawadee Saengmanee

Achara Deboonme


Catch the gorgeous sunset on Pha Thap Tawan [14]

t is pure (and somewhat raw) nature that’s put Wang Nam Kheow on the destination list for single- and double-day trippers from Bangkok. The small district in Isaan has in recent years lured a lot of investors from Bangkok and elsewhere to Tambon Thai Samakki in particular, a village at a mountain’s foot in Thap Lan National Park. First they came to buy land cheap for their own getaway homes, but then when tourists began to swarm, they started building bungalows and campgrounds. Around 40 resorts and home-stay operations are now registered in the tambon, and “we expect the number to grow significantly this year,” says a local government official. Januar y 4-10, 2009

Potted orchids dangle from roadside stalls on the roads to and from Isaan A spicy salad of mixed mushrooms is ideal for people conscious about their health and weight

Just a short drive from Bangkok, it’s a perfect weekend outing – three hours or less via Chachoensao’s Phanom Sarakham district or Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Thong Chai district. If you’re heading there for the first time, make sure you visit Thap Tawan, a cliff from which one of the region’s most beautiful sunsets can be enjoyed. And in the early morning the rolling hills and green mountains are dappled in dew at this altitude, particularly in the winter, so it’s worth a second visit to see the sun’s return. “The ideal time to come here is in the rainy season,” says Pavinee Manus, who owns Ban Rai Ozone. “Everything is green and it isn’t as windy as it gets at the beginning of winter. It’s perfect if you like sitting idly around the resort enjoying the rain.” Like most people who run guest accommodations in Wang Nam Kheow, Pavinee isn’t a local. She sold mobile phones in Bangkok before opening her Ozone getaway three years. She started with just a pair of bungalows and now has eight. And she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the best time to visit. Most people come in the winter, Januar y 4-10, 2009

keen to experience the frosty chill, but where the produce comes mostly from the dry-season dust coats the trees and China. roads, so you won’t be able to roll down A trip to Wang Nam Kheow isn’t your car windows to enjoy that cool complete if you don’t sample the breeze. mushrooms. Of course the rain Start with boiled plays havoc with rice with the half- gravel, mushrooms in the half-tar roads too. morning, have a The cool weather spicy larb salad guarantees fame with mixed for the district’s mushrooms for an farm products. afternoon snack, Travellers return and then tuck into home with organic hot tom yam in the vegetables cut evening. At least one of freshly that same Mushrooms by the millions beckon these meals should day, and a lot of visitors at Wang Nam Khiew Farm be at Ton Sai, one them come from of the very few restaurants in the Uncle Krai’s store. Wang Nam Kiew Farm, which sells village. On the way back home, if you’re the six Mister Mushroom varieties, is not to be missed. You can get an 800- taking the Chachoengsao route, you gram bag of orinji mushrooms for just have to stop at an orchid stall. There are plenty of vendors along the highway. Bt120. Cheap prices also apply to other The prices are about the same as in Bangkok, but there’s much more items grown in air-conditioned barns. You just have to remember that the variety. Stick to these pointers and you’ll closer you get to noon, the more the selection dwindles. You’ ll end up return home with a well-fed heart as scrounging among the roadside stalls, well as a satisfied tummy. [15]

p h o t o / A c h ara D eb o o n me

Uncle Pia on his 12-rai plantation, which supplies organic vegetables to several Bangkok stores


Bliss amid

the cotton trees Originally a meditation retreat, Khon Kaen’s Supanniga Home Resort still ensures peace of mind Sirinia

C o u rtes y o f S u panni g a H o me R es o rt


he Supanniga Home Resort offers private garden where a s tar tling contras t to that friends gathered to recurring image of the Northeast meditate. as brown and barren. It’s probably the Phajongkit converted greenest spot you’ll ever see outside the the three houses on her national parks. property into a boutique A few minutes’ drive from Bung resort because she wantKaennakorn, the lake that serves as ed to share the peaceful Khon Kaen’s chief landmark, the bou- spot with like-minded tique resort gets its name from the su- people. panniga that surround it. Each of the houses has its own garThe yellow cotton trees burst into den. blossom in mid-December, with the The front yard of Lom Laeng, the lovely petals shimmering in the sun- house formerly used by the women who light for a few weeks. came here to meditate, Almost every inch of the is dotted with Pudding The way home resort is covered with trees Pine, Khon Kaen’s arboSupanniga is at 130/9 and plants, with stone and real symbol. Potisarn Road, Muang wood cropping up in the Another house is Khon Kaen. Call (089) spaces in between. called Banyan, for the 944 4880 or visit www. There’s no fancy design large banyan tree in the concept here. Owner Phamidst of its well-manijongkit Laorauvirodge says cured gardens. the place evolved piece by piece, with Veru is partly concrete and partly nature and simplicity the only guides. bamboo, and it sits in a bamboo grove. That’s why there’s a treehouse, swings It’s ideal for families, whereas the othat different corners and an outdoor lob- ers are designed for two. by in the shade of what was originally a Each house has a kitchen, living area | 16 |

and outdoor shower (rather chilly in the winter), and Veru has its own private pool. The food is terrific – you can tell that the chef must have been cooking for the family for years before making these homey dishes for the guests. Breakfast and dinner are set menus, with a spicy eringi-mushroom-andpork barbecue and a northeastern dip that’s not to be missed. The resort wasn’t created with commerce in mind, so pricing was never part of the strategy. Expect to pay at least Bt4,000 a night for your hideaway. If you require lively fun, look elsewhere, but if it’s peace you crave, this is the place. Januar y 4-10, 2009

Wellness Home gym = no excuses

Got some spare room? Great. You need to think things over first, though

P h o t o / dpa

fit, but the experts advise anyone thinking of investing the money to carefully consider their goal first. “Many of the machines on the market are simply r u b b i s h ,” s a y s Georg Stingl, who heads a German An electric-powered initiative against sauna cabin like this back pain. one is a good start. Many machines offer poor quality when it comes to their effectiveness and durability. Another problem is that incorrect use of the machine can damage your body. “A layman who begins using a machine at home without expert advice often makes mistakes that can affect their health,” warns Claudia Ernst from the health-insurance firm Deutsche Angestellten Krankenkasse. Ernst recommends getting advice from a qualified trainer in a commercial gym. She also recommends getting a check-up from a doctor before investing in a treadmill, stepper, cross trainer or mini-trampoline. “The way you equip your gym will depend on how much space you have,” says Ernst. There should always be at least one metre of free space around each machine, with good ventilation. Of course, not even the most comfortable home gym will guarantee motivation. “Exercise should always be fun,” says Stingl. “At first, most people are very enthusiastic. But after just a few weeks, the gym is hardly used at all because it can be boring exercising on your own.”

Stephanie Hoenig Deutsche Presse-Agentur


xercise is a great way to reduce stress, stay trim and ward off back, heart and circulatory problems, but some people are discouraged from visiting the gym because it’s too far or open at the wrong hours or they’re just uncomfortable working out in public. Enough with the excuses – build a home gym! It’s also a good idea to have a place to relax and cool down in a comfortable atmosphere. That makes having a sauna more fun and will encourage you to use it frequently. Another factor to consider is easy access to the outdoors and fresh air. The sauna’s shower should be made with what’s known as a shower receptor – the base of the shower made from a single piece of material. Tiles encourage bacteria to grow in the seams if the sauna is used a lot. But before you get to the sauna there’s an exercise programme to get through first. An exercise bike and a gym mat are no longer sufficient for the average home gym. There’s a wide range of expensive gym machines on offer to help you get Januar y 4-10, 2009

Enlightenment in English A British monk will lead a threeday meditation retreat in English from January 9 to 11. The retreat is being held by the YBAT meditation organisation in its comfortable new facility close to Don Mueang Airport and is free of charge (donations are welcomed). The meditation methods used will be vipassana (insight) sitting, and walking meditation. Details and booking at www.

Cuticles not looking so cute? The new Pedicure & Manicure treatment is nourishing and trimming nails at Spa Cenvaree at the Sofitel Centara Grand Bangkok. The 90-minute pampering costs Bt1,200 and is available for men and women until the end of January. Call (02) 541 1234.

Great hangover cure Sanctuary Jirung Health Village in Chiang Mai is offering two-night/ three-day Winter Wellness Holiday Celebration packages. A Mountain Villa Suite for two persons costs between Bt19,900 and Bt23,900 for two persons while a Sanctuary Family Suite for four is Bt19,900. The packages include a moonlight dinner with local-culture performances, yoga training, spa treatment and half a day in Chiang Mai town. Call (02) 645 0300 or (053) 861 511 or visit

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The Last Tryst

Tex t by A si a News N e twor k P hotos by M J M araĂą on / C o n t r i b u to r a n d J ofe l l e P Te sor i o/A si a News Netwo rk


t was the last hurrah for 2008. Sunflowers in Thailand’s Lop Buri province only bloom from October until December. The last bout of blooming happened days before the year ended. So before the flowers vanished, tourists trooped to Lop Buri, some 153km from Bangkok, and savoured the captivating sight of golden yellow fields.

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January 4-10, 2009

January 4-10, 2009

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A Fitting Trend

After the eating binge over the holidays, it’s time to get fit. We lift some tips Manila

Mitch Felipe Philippine Daily Inquirer


Children and obesity

he American College on Sports Medicine (ACSM) has revealed the results of the worldwide survey of the top fitness trends for 2009. It covered 1,540 ACSM-certified professionals from Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, North America and South America.

More and more obesity prevention programmes for children are being launched worldwide. Children should get into enjoyable physical activities suited for their age. Parents should prepare healthy foods at home. School cafeterias should be part of a campaign for healthy meals.

Educated and experienced fitness professionals

Personal training


World fitness standards emphasise excellent client service, quality fitness programmes, exercise safety and effective results. When looking for a trainer, ask for his educational background, years of experience, programme specialties, types of clients handled and current certifications. Fitness professionals must continue to study and attend conventions to maintain fitness certifications, such as ACSM, National | 20 |

Strength and Conditioning Association and American Council on Exercise.

Personal training is an important part of health and fitness centres to make sure a client adheres to the programme, and safely. Beginner exercisers should have at least a few sessions with a trainer so they know the basic execution and programme which they can do later on their own. Strength training

Strength training is important in maintaining or increasing one’s strength, reshaping the body and January 4-10, 2009

Exercise programmes for older adults include low-impact cardio classes with special equipment, light intensity strength training, balance training and core training. Pilates

increasing metabolism. Include at least twice a week of strength training. Use weight, dumb bells, resistance machines, medicine or stability balls.

Pilates is a core training exercise which involves the upper and lower body. It entails proper breathing techniques. Pilates presents various exercise options. You can either join a class or sign up for a one-on-one instruction. Either you execute the moves using Pilates machines or do a mat Pilates. Fitness clubs also offer mat Pilates or fusion classes combining Pilates with other mind-body moves.

muscles since it provides a pre-stretch before it contracts. Sport-specific training

Specific exercises designed to improve sports performance are becoming a trend. This year, more Filipinos have joined races and triathlons. The number of sports coaches has also increased.

Core training

Core training improves one’s balance and functional strength. You must train your core muscles which include the lower back, abdominal muscles, pelvic muscles and hip muscles to be able to perform your daily activities, exercises and sports. You can use special core training equipment like BOSU balls and foam rollers. Special programmes for older adults

Retired individuals should have physical activities that answer their needs. January 4-10, 2009

Stability ball

Stability ball training gained popularity because of the exercise variety and benefits it gives beginners and advanced exercisers. Almost all fitness clubs and exercise studios include this training for improved stability, balance, strength and function. One of the most popular and effective exercises using a stability ball that you can do even at home are basic abdominal crunches on top of the ball. It is effective on your abdominal

Balance training

Aside from gaining strength and endurance, improving balance is a fitness goal. Balance training can be equipment-based (use of BOSU or wobble boards) or class-based (yoga, Pilates and tai-chi). Yoga promotes balance and flexibility since it teaches focus and proper breathing. | 21 |


The Power Of One BEIJING

Cao Xiaofan China Daily


uo Xiao, a 34-year-old single Chinese woman working as a mid-level manager in a Beijing branch of a foreign bank, is philosophical about turning down dates. Having passed the “best marriageable age” for city women, conventionally recognised between 25 to 30 years old, Guo refuses to rush into marriage. “Marrying ‘Mr Wrong’ is even worse than being single,” she says. Unwed women, such as Guo, are labelled in China today as ‘3S women’—single, 70s, and stuck. They were generally born in the 1970s, are well educated and have decent jobs. In her early 20s, Guo was an accountant in a bank in Jiangsu province, focusing her whole time and energy on her career. “I barely stopped to see a movie, let alone get involved in a relationship,” says Guo. Like Guo, many Chinese women today put their relationships on the backburner while they develop their careers. Sociologist Xu Anqi, of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, notices that against the backdrop of China’s progressing urbanisation, the growing single population is the result of more time spent on education and career. Guo was a workaholic before one day, when she was 26, she fell head over heels with a middle-aged photographer. “Talented, smart and wild—he had everything I admired,” Guo recalls. | 22 |

The two-year romance ended in tears. “He couldn’t promise me a marriage and had no intention of settling down,” says Guo. “I met the wrong person at the right time.” To get over the heartbreak, Guo went to Australia to pursue her studies. When she earned her master’s degree on financial management from Sydney University in 2003, Guo returned to China and secured a position as a senior accountant in a British industrial designing company in Beijing. Guo’s parents started to nag her about marriage and even resorted to matchmakers. But their efforts were in vain. “I wouldn’t compromise by marrying a guy I didn’t like,” she says. The number of single women like Guo, who are well educated and in well-paid jobs, is on the rise. A nationwide survey conducted by Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau in 2007 suggested that more than 60 per cent of the 500,000 single people aged 30 to 50 in Beijing are women. In Guangzhou, the proportion is 70 per cent. Many of Guo’s friends her age are also unmarried career women. “Stressful work, an increasing divorce rate—there are many reasons leading career women live on their own,” she says. On top of that, Chinese men are reluctant to marry more mature women. A survey conducted by Beijing Normal University in 2006 showed about 65 per cent of male respondents believed 25-year-old women were desirable for marriage, while only 12.5

C hina Daily

More and more young, educated and financially-secure Chinese women are refraining from tying the knot

per cent said they could accept women over the age of 35 as wives. As a result, a huge number of that age group—many are ‘3S women’— remain single. Recently, the degrading term of ‘sheng nu’, which literally means ‘leftover women’, has been created to refer to the ‘3S women’ as though there were something morally wrong with them. “We’re not that passive,” says Guo. “I admit being a single woman comes with its challenges, but it also offers an opportunity to develop personally and do things outside of the shackles of a relationship.” Guo spends about three hours a week practicing calligraphy. She also enjoys whole Sunday afternoons at a beauty saloon. “I am no different to everyone else, except that I don’t have to wash men’s dirty socks and baby diapers,” she says. In the past, China had a saying for women: To marry is to live. However, better education and jobs are giving January 4-10, 2009

career women a better financial status. With a monthly salary of about 16,000 yuan (US$2,336) and a 60sqm well decorated downtown apartment, Guo’s financial circumstances are secure. “Marriage is no longer a necessity for me compared with women of my parents’ generation, unless Mr Right appears,” says Guo. “The influence of material factors on marriage is diminishing among today’s Chinese career women,” Xu Anqi says. “Society is more tolerant of independent women.” An increasing divorce rate means Guo is more cautious. “Horrendous divorce stories lower my expectations about marriage,” says Guo. Divorce was rare in China until the economic reforms began in the late 1970s. A law change in 2003 simplified the process and has been blamed for boosting the divorce rate. In 2007, China had 2.1 million divorces, almost seven times more than that of 1980 when it launched its national economic reforms, according January 4-10, 2009

to the ministry of civil affairs. Yet, compared with the cautious attitude of the 1970s generation, people born in the 1980s are braver. Xu points to another remarkable phenomenon in Chinese relationships—the ‘lightning marriage’. This implies that a couple gets married within a few months, or even sooner, after their first date. The ‘lightning marriage’ has somewhat undermined China’s marriage tradition, in which couples normally know each other for at least a year before tying the knot. Yuan Ye, 27, and her 26-year-old husband Li Xing ignored the high divorce rate and married two months after they met. “Our romance blossomed after the devastating May 12 Sichuan earthquake this year,” says Yuan, who worked in the quake zone as a reporter for a newspaper in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. Li was then a volunteer from Ningbo. “I interviewed him in a

severely-hit city of Dujiangyan, and we fell in love,” Yuan recalls. A month later, Yuan and Li registered their marriage. “We jumped every hurdle on the road to our marriage in the shortest possible time,” says Yuan. However, Yuan lied to her parents, saying they had been dating for more than a year. “I didn’t think my parents would have accepted my ‘lightning marriage’, so I tricked them,” she says. There are no specific figures for ‘lightning marriages’. Interestingly, it seems clear that ‘lightning marriages’ often risk ‘lightning divorces’ and newspapers have been full of such stories involving 1980s couples. In Beijing alone, one in five of the 24,952 divorced couples were married for less than three years, and 52 couples in their 20s split up after being married less than one month. In Guangzhou, a lawyer says about half of divorce cases he handled this year involved ‘lightning marriages’ of the 1980s generation. A lack of mutual understanding before marriage is a major factor in the failure of quickie marriages. Most 1980s people are only children, who are self-centred and less tolerant than their parents, says Huang. They are prone to get divorced instead of improving themselves or becoming more tolerant. “The key to a stable marriage is a good attitude from both sides,” says Yuan. “Instead of thinking selfishly and dreaming of perfection, we compromise over trivial things, and work together to solve problems.” However, Li thinks their ‘lightning marriage’ has a unique advantage. “It makes us smoothly resolve problems while we still have the passion,” she says. “It’s hard to accurately assess the ‘3S women’, ‘lightning marriage’ or the soaring divorce rate,” says Xu Anqi. “China’s social landscape is changing after all, while the freedom to choose in relationships is growing.” | 23 |


Mane Moods Some believe that hair makes the man and this year’s hottest trends take inspiration from international catwalks KUALA LUMPUR

Majorie Chiew The Star


hinking of a new look for the new year? Here are some suggestions from Schwarzkopf, which takes its cue from fashion. For autumn/winter 2008-09, Schwarzkopf Professional’s Essential Looks presents the Eclectic Collection distilled into four new fashion moods: Country Life, Eccentric Vintage, Gothic Romance and Sculptured Form. According to Schwarzkopf, “Essential Looks is a common international hair language of fashion-motivated style, designed to give hair professionals the essence of seasonal inspiration. “These looks capture the essence of the season, creating a cultural snapshot and presenting a storybook of style.”

with vitality and wellbeing bursting from every follicle. Hair is lustrous, touchable and naturally radiant. “Country Life is all about styles and colours that are soft, feminine, sexy and natural,” says Massimo di Stefano, Schwarzkopf Professional’s global editorial ambassador, who led the Essential Looks team for autumn/ winter 2008-09.

Eccentric Vintage

A whimsical trend that teams breathtakingly feminine vintage pieces with structured corsetry and sportswear, resulting in an uncon-

Country Life

A beautifully innocent trend that is defined by fresh-faced hair, make-up and clothing that’s touchable and delicious. Embodied by Dolce & Gabbana’s clashing tartans, cheeky twinsets and frills, and Emanuel Ungaro’s sheer roseand-thorn prints, this look is said to also embrace nature-based tones of stone and soil. Hair is light and effortless to offset rich fabrics easily ruffled by a fresh breeze, and short styles are worn in earthy colours. Shine is key, | 24 |

January 4-10, 2009

ventional look that’s highly individual. It is summed up by John Galliano’s flea market approach to the season, which mixed retro coats with delicate sheers and overtly feminine rose prints. The trend translates into romantic hairstyles such as braiding and loose up-dos, and soft warm shades. Hair is worn up with a couture finish while punkish undertones, side details and asymmetrical shapes add a contemporary edge. Utterly feminine, yet strong and modern, this look is all about “collusions of colour, shape and texture”. “The colour inspiration for Eccentric Vintage came from the women you see in 18th Century portraits, who are quite austere but have these very flowery up-dos. So I used lots of soft titians and soft brun e t tes,” says Lesley

January 4-10, 2009

Lawson, Schwarzkopf Professional colour expert, who created colour trends for Essential Looks autumn/ winter 2008-09.

Gothic Romance

This look walks a darker edge, with sinisterly beautiful styles in hair, clothing and make-up that tend towards the macabre. Summed up by Alexander McQueen’s Victorian Punk dresses in black lace and tulle, this trend sees concoctions of texture mixing rough with smooth, and jewel colours of emerald, sapphire and amethyst set amidst the intensity of browns and blacks. Keeping things decadent and headily romantic, long hair is a must, but luxurious condition is key to emphasising the aristocratic air, coupled with glossy finishes counterbalancing tousled touches, and multi-toned crimping adding a ghostly air. “Gothic Romance is very loud, but very sexy at the same time. The styles are soft with long wefts, but there is a little bit of sharpness brought in with some broken edges,” says di Stefano.

Sculptured Form

Both fashion and music are currently experiencing a modish 1980s trend, with lean silhouettes, graphic electronic compositions, and a confidently androgynous flair. Precision and minimalism are thrust into the spotlight, with super sharp tailoring being seen in hair and clothing. Prada’s lean suiting in cool neutrals and YSL’s moulded dresses spoke of a new geometric approach to fashion, and this plays though in hair with strong graphic haircuts and colours. A neutral palette adds confidence to geo-crops and fierce shaping with pale blondes, greys and blues, whilst edges placed just so over eyes and ears emphasise precision and sharpness of cut. “Sculptured Form is sharp and modern, with definite strong lines,” says di Stefano. “This year, I see a return to more shaped hair, so for the Eclectic Collection I have created a selection of haute couture looks that have a prêt-àporter appeal,” says di Stefano. | 25 |


Tech Away Restaurants Molecular gastronomy is the latest food fashion in China’s capital


Ye Jun China Daily


moke made of green tea rises from the smoked salmon and avocado roll. Shark fin in saffron soup comes in a transparent capsule. Rosy beads in bird’s nest soup look like fish roe but turn out to be made of jam. These culinary stunts are the latest creations at one of Beijing’s most popular Peking roast duck restaurants, Da Dong, which has introduced molecular gastronomy, providing pleasant surprises and new tasting sensations. Molecular gastronomy is the latest fashion and much talked about in Beijing’s dining scene. Brian McKenna, British chef at Shangri-La Beijing’s Blu Lobster restaurant, was the first to apply the technology here. One dish, watermelon bisque, is actually served in test tubes. The cooking method is also available at several restaurants in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Molecular cooking has been popular in recent years at restaurants like El Bulli in Spain, The Fat Duck in the UK, and Peirre Gagnaire in France, all of them rated Michelin three-star restaurants. In molecular gastronomy, food materials are moleculised, re-shaped, liquefied, or gasified, and made to resemble something people are familiar with, like fish roe or egg yolk. “While scientists are walking into the kitchen, chefs are walking into the laboratory,” says Dong Zhenxiang, GM

| 26 |

January 4-10, 2009

January 4-10, 2009

like cotton. Xue Hong, a freelancer and gastronomist based in Beijing, has argued that molecule technology should not be the orientation of Chinese cuisine. “The Chinese have always put people at the center of gastronomy, not machines,” says Xue Hong. “Chinese chefs mostly rely on their feel and experience to prepare good food. Good food to foodies has always had more to do with the people making and eating it, than with molecules of the material.” Dong says he is not applying molecular cooking for the Peking roast duck, which is what VOILA: A salmon dish takes on a new look under the his restaurant is most magic hand of Sun Xianhou at Dadong Restaurant. famous for. “No matter whether it is Chinese cuisine or Western cuisine, Chinese cuisine, which emphasises not molecular gastronomy is used to just taste but also texture. We will beautify the dishes, improve them and remain consistent with Chinese better present them,” says Dong. “Its culinary traditions,” he says. “I hope role is to complement and boost our with molecular gastronomy, Chinese cuisine.” food can become more arty, beautiful “The essence of our cuisine is still and closer to perfection.” EYE CANDY: Molecular gastronomy dishes are a feast for the eyes and tastebuds.

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of Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant. “The technology opens up people’s minds and brings limitless possibilities to the dining table.” “The dishes look good and taste great,” says Zhao Ziyun, food writer who has tried the new dishes at Da Dong. “They bring fun and interest to the meal and activate the dining atmosphere. I would certainly take friends here again.” Dong has been holding cultural exchanges with restaurants in Spain, which inspired him to spend 500,000 yuan (US$72,500) purchasing machinery for molecular cooking. Now his restaurant has prepared a new menu with 15 dishes that feature molecular gastronomy. The machines have three functions. Some use liquefied nitrogen, which is frozen to minus 170°C, to make dishes such as hawthorn fruit sorbet, and a clear tomato soup with foam that resembles beer. Some can simmer dishes at low temperatures. For example, a goose liver is slow-simmered at 60°C for two hours to create an evenly spread tender taste. The term ‘molecular gastronomy’ was conceived in 1988 by Hungarian physical scientist Nicholas Kurti and French chemist Herve This. But Spaniard Ferran Adria is the chef who really made it popular. His El Bulli restaurant is said to have 400,000 reservations, although its maximum reception capacity is 8,000 people a year. Herve This put forward five goals for molecular gastronomy. He believed the technology should reveal the principles behind cooking skills of different cuisines, clarify the chemical changes between foods in cooking, research and develop new dishes, new cooking tools and methods, and make society understand the contribution of science to daily lives. Interestingly, we have had moleculised food much longer than you might think. Candy floss, for example, is actually liquefied from granulated sugar and chilled to be shaped


Leave Nothing But Footprints Safeguard all the tourist destinations that you set your foot on JAKARTA

Ubaidillah Syohih The Jakarta Post


destination to sustain tourists over the long term. All tourist destinations need visitors, but they need to be treaded lightly and respectfully. The only way to safeguard these destinations: responsible tourism. Now you may have heard about ecotourism, also known as ecological tourism, a catch-all term that has been eagerly appended to many a hotel and resort name. At best, this is a form of responsible tourism that appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. It typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. At worst, it is a hotel called ‘Bunga Ecotourism Resort’ whose claim to sustainability is limited to a glossy brochure flaunting the natural merits of the area. How can we select a rewarding holiday destination without leaving a trail of destruction in our wake? Sam Yeh/AFP

Tang Chhin Sothy

ou’ve gone over the list countless times. Will it be a shamelessly self-indulgent rest and rehabilitation (R&R) weekend in Legian? Or a slightly more adventurous journey into the highlands of Tana Toraja? There’s also that Mount Bromo trip your spouse keeps pestering you about. Holidays are a time to bond and spend some leisurely time with your loved ones or friends. At the planning stage, when half a dozen ideas on where to head off to are floating around, holidays also do a very good job of fraying nerves. So before the Lonely Planet guides and maps start flying across the room, here are some

things to keep in mind. In a continent such as Asia, with its seemingly endless range of awesome destinations, you will always be spoiled for choice. Hundreds of volcanoes to climb, rainforests to trek, waves to surf, reefs to explore, beaches to roast on, hundreds of ethnic groups with hundreds more local languages to discover. There’s something for everyone. But regardless of the destination, with every additional dive down the reef wall or every new bungalow, the destination loses a little something. It’s not just a piece of coral that is inadvertently broken during a dive, or a small food wrapper that gets caught in the wind and ends up decorating the forest. The aggregate impact of our holiday, from transportation (emissions, traffic) to the hotel we’re staying at (energy and water use), can damage the prospects of a holiday

DON’T TRAMPLE: A Cambodian sails a boat in Anlong Veng district, Oddar Meanchey province, some 454km northwest of Phnom Penh. All tourist destinations need visitors, but they need to be treaded lightly and respectfully | 28 |

ENDANGERED SPECIES: A green turtle heading to sea in Wanan Island, Taiwan. Green turtles, listed as species in danger of extinction, come to several Taiwanese offshore islands during summer.

January 4-10, 2009


1. Decide on what kind of holiday you are after—will it be backpacking or operator-tour style? 2. If you go for the tour operator, ask where your money is going or find out by yourself—staying in locally owned accommodation benefits local families. 3. In choosing your activities at the destination, go for environmentally friendly activities that contribute to the local economy and protect nature and culture. 4. Small gifts from home can be a great way to say thank you to your hosts—think about what might be of most use to the local community. Before you go

Before you bounce out the door, there are a few things that need to be taken

cared of: 1. Make sure that all electric appliances are switched off, and that there are no leaks. 2. If you are going on vacation with your own vehicle, make sure that it is well maintained so you don’t pollute the places you visit. It would be better if you use public transportation, such as a bus or train, to reach your destination. When you are there

1. In many remote places, fresh water is scarce. Keep this in mind when you wash, and keep those showers short. 2. Towels can be used for at least two days without being washed, to reduce energy and water used to clean them. 3. Remember to switch off lights and air conditioning when you leave the

room to reduce energy use. 4. Of course, never buy products made from marine turtles and insist on eating locally caught fish. 5. You can also encourage the hotel by presenting the manager with a list of environmental tips for green hotels. If your hotel or homestay prides itself as an ecotourism facility, make sure you ask them why and how. “Kill nothing but time, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.” You have probably heard this wellknown phrase. By killing nothing but time and by taking nothing but pictures, you protect the environment and wildlife. And by leaving nothing but footprints, you make a positive impact on local communities, such as preventing the loss of culture.

January 4-10, 2009

| 29 |

P hilippe Lopez /AFP

NATURE’S BEST: A tourist boat sails past the stone islands of Halong Bay, Viet Nam. When you travel: kill nothing but time, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.



IT! Your unsecured wireless network could be used by online crooks | 30 |


Chua Hian Hou The Straits Times


ne in nearly five Singapore households is not securing its wireless Internet connections. The result: users at home are setting themselves up to become the fall guys for hackers, scammers and online pirates, warn IT security experts. The new figures come as a growing number of crooks, armed with just a portable computer, use unsecured networks to make bomb threats, download pirated material and run online scams. Their activities can leave unwitting netizens facing a lawsuit and even a police probe, said Julian Ho, chief operating officer of Internet security firm ThinkSecure. Many do not secure their wireless networks because they lack the technical know-how, while others are complacent, he added. ThinkSecure ran a cooperative survey 375 wireless networks and found nearly 18 per cent were not protected. By comparison, home wireless owners overseas practise better self-defence. In Paris, 98 per cent of such networks are secured. In New York, the number is 97 per cent and in London 90 per cent, according to a study by security firm RSA this year. While there are no official figures on how often January 4-10, 2009

Cases Of WiFi Abuse Bomb hoax with neighbour’s WiFi

In 2005, polytechnic student Lin Zhenghuang, then 19, used his neighbour’s wireless network to post a bomb threat on a popular forum. Investigations led to the neighbour, who was questioned and had her computer seized, but an analysis of the machine revealed she was not behind the post. Lin was arrested almost a year later, though court documents did not say how he was found out. He was jailed for three months and fined S$4,000 (US$2,681).

Cheap car parts scam

A suspected scam artist, Goh Chin Soo, 24, allegedly used Internet cafés and unsecured wireless connections to offer cheap car accessories on motoring forums. The goods were never delivered. Goh allegedly taunted angry buyers, saying: “Catch me if you can”. Police eventually traced the source of the messages. Goh, facing 26 charges, jumped bail last year and is on the run.

‘Decoy-sourcing’ for bank heist crooks piggyback on wireless networks, security experts like Ho believe it likely happens quite often. In a precedent-setting 2005 case, a Singapore youth used his neighbour’s unsecured wireless connection to post a hoax claiming that a bomb had gone off at a bus station. Meanwhile, in the United States, a bank robbery suspect used an unlocked wireless network in September to hire people to act as decoys for an upcoming heist. The decoys confused police responding to the robbery while the man made his getaway. Ho said network hijacking is popular because criminals know that anybody on their trail will end up at someone else’s doorstep. While innocent Internet users are usually able to clear their names eventually, the process can be troublesome, said RSA Security spokesman Jason Pearce. For instance, if your network is used by a scammer to commit fraud, the police can seize your machine and summon you for questioning. Ho said home users who want to lock up their networks should use wireless gear, like routers, equipped with WiFi Protected Access, or WPA security. The system, which is included in equipment built from late 2003 onwards, offers better protection against hackers than older set-ups, which hackers have developed tools to beat. Experts say securing your computer is becoming an arms race and cyber-savvy crooks are getting better at cracking even protected networks. January 4-10, 2009

In September, a cyber-savvy American bank robber allegedly used an unsecured wireless connection to recruit decoys for a heist. Through an online ad, Anthony Curcio, 28, hired workers and allegedly told them to show up at a bank clad in blue shirts, blue hats and camouflage shorts. He then allegedly robbed an armoured car at the bank—wearing the same outfit. He managed to escape as police responding to the robbery were confused by the similarly dressed men. Curcio was arrested earlier this month based on DNA evidence, and is currently facing robbery charges.

Make It Safe Change all passwords

After you install a new wireless network, change the default passwords. This is vital because hackers have compiled a list of the defaults used by makers of wireless equipment. Instruction manuals will show you how to do this.

Turn on your encryption

All new equipment comes with some sort of security to prevent unauthorised access to your network. There are several technologies, the two most common being the less secure Wired Equivalent Privacy and the newer, better WiFi Protected Access. Again, consult your manual to find out how to turn this on. | 31 |


The Splendour Of Hong Kong There is definitely more to Hong Kong than shopping, dining and skyscrapers


Evelyn Len The Star


ong Kong is such a land of contrasts. On the one hand, there’s the concrete jungle with its countless high-rise buildings and man-made wonders; on the other, is its natural beauty with plenty of lush greenery, waterways and hills. My family—hubby Kok Siew Meng and children Ian, 12, and Erin, 9—and I recently had a wonderful opportunity to savour the many exciting aspects of this vibrant city, on a trip hosted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The four-day Winter Escapade-Family Fun package included visits to Hong Kong Disneyland, Lamma Island, Ocean Park and The Peak. We also enjoyed the dazzling night lights, including the laser light-and-sound show that is the Symphony of Lights; revelled in the festive atmosphere of the Central | 32 |

area amidst a brilliant gigantic Christmas tree and melodious strains of Christmas carolling; and learnt the ‘Hong Kong Story’ at the Hong Kong Museum of History. There was no lack of dining options, either. One morning, it was breakfast at a cha chan tengi (tea house) to kick-start our day. Another, it was brunch at the cartoon-themed Charlie Brown café. One afternoon, it was lunch at a seafood restaurant on Lamma Island and dinner at the fine-dining Landmark Café. We have never done so much walking in one place in our lives! We were advised, pre-trip, to bring comfortable walking shoes—which we did, of course. At each of the attractions, we walked and walked, and walked some more. But no complaints, really, because the weather was cool and dry—conducive for physical activity. During our stay in the cosmopolitan city, temperatures ranged from a 14˚C to 26˚C. Our affable guide, Sidney Luk, knew the roads of the city like the back

of his hand. He provided us with extra information about the places that we visited, giving us insight and making our trip more interesting. Winter wonderland

Disneyland was our first stop after we landed in Hong Kong on the afternoon of November 28. We had only five hours to spend at the sprawling theme park, which usually takes a whole day to explore. So my family and I had to quickly decide which shows to watch and which rides to sample. We rode on the train from Main Street, USA to Fantasyland, where we watched Mickey’s Philharmagic 3D movie and The Golden Mickeys stage performance, enjoyed the Let It Snow Christmas parade, and went for a spin in giant teacups in Wonderland. We went on the Jungle River Cruise in Adventureland where we saw African ‘wildlife’, ‘cannibals’ and a ‘volcano’ spewing lava. While on the cruise, we passed by Tarzan’s Treehouse. We also visited the newest attracJanuary 4-10, 2009

tion—called It’s a Small World—which is unique to Hong Kong Disneyland and is found in no other Disney theme park in the world. On the gentle boat ride that took us on an ‘excursion’ around the world, we saw myriad dolls representing the various countries, including Malaysia. The Asian section features famous regional landmarks such as the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven and Hong Kong’s skyline. At sundown, the Sleeping Beauty Castle was transformed by thousands of shimmering lights into a glittering palace. The castle provided the backdrop for the magnificent Disney in the Stars fireworks extravaganza. After the splendid show, it began to ‘snow’ as we headed for the exit along with hundreds of other visitors. We were greeted by the sight of a huge Christmas tree at the town square on our way out. Our magical Disney experience culminated with dinner at Enchanted Garden, the restaurant in Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. As we dined, buffet-style, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy dropped by for a visit. They went from table to table to greet guests. The children, of course, were thrilled to bits. Natural beauty

After dinner, we were driven to the YMCA Hotel, aka The Salisbury, where we stayed for the duration of our trip. Situated on Salisbury Road, Kowloon, it is a large hotel conveniently located near the Star Ferry pier, Harbour City shopping mall, train and MTR stations as well as the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Hong Kong Space Museum and the Hong Kong Museum of Art. It is only about 10-minute-walk from the hotel to the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and Avenue of Stars overlooking Victoria Harbour. On Day Two of our trip, we visited Lamma Island. It is one of Hong Kong’s January 4-10, 2009

three main islands, the other two being Lantau Island (where Hong Kong International Airport and Disneyland are situated) and Hong Kong Island (where Ocean Park and The Peak are located). To get to Lamma Island, we took two ferries: the first, a Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui (across Victoria Harbour) to Central Pier; the second, from Central Pier to Yung Shue Wan on Lamma Island. It was a totally different world there—peaceful and quiet, no motorised vehicles. As we walked along the pier, we saw lots of bicycles parked on either side. Thinking they were for hire, I wondered where we could make enquiries. However, our guide Luk said those bicycles actually belonged to the island’s residents, even though there indeed were bicycles for hire at some of the shops.

Urbanites who long for some respite from the hustle and bustle of city life often escape to Lamma Island on weekends. The island also draws those who seek inspiration for creative pursuits, such as writing or painting. The walls of some buildings were covered with leaflets announcing missing or lost pets, or strays available for adoption. It must have been dog’s day out that Saturday because we came across about 15 canines, some running free (albeit with collars around their necks) but mostly—and these were the purebreds— on leashes. My daughter, who is crazy about dogs, squealed with delight each time she saw or walked past a pooch. There are walking trails on the island, with the main one connecting the vil-

lages of Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. Visitors can explore the island at their own pace. It was a warm afternoon when we were there, and the kids got tired much faster than the adults, so we managed about 45 minutes of walking before stopping at a makeshift stall for refreshments. Minnie and Erin

We had to try the local snack—tofu fa (bean curd)—available hot or cold, and served with orange sugar. It was extremely smooth! Luk said this was because it was made using the water on the island. After that, we strolled along Hung Shing Ye beach, which was just a stone’s throw away. My kids kicked off their shoes and played in the sand, occasionally running into the inviting water to dip their feet in. We spotted a few Caucasians cooling off in the water. According to Luk, crowds throng the beach in summer but, in winter, the water is too cold to swim in. Small shops—selling wares from souvenirs to sundry goods to snacks—as well as alfresco seafood restaurants can be found on the island. Lunch was at one of these. The view from the terrace was lovely: on one side, houses on the hillside; on the other, fishing boats bobbing in the water and fisherfolk at work. It was quite picturesque. After lunch, we took the ferry back to Kowloon. Lights everywhere

In the evening, we walked to the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade where we watched the ‘Symphony of Lights’, a 15-minute show covering more than 40 buildings on either side of Victoria Harbour. It was most spectacular. How the crowd cheered and clapped when it ended! Those on the harbour cruise—via ferry or Chinese-style boat—would have enjoyed unobstructed views of the show on both sides of the harbour. | 33 |


Joma Shinji Matsuri


uring the Joma Shinji festival, participants dressed as samurai warriors shoot arrows at a target 27m away, on which the Chinese character for oni, or, devil is written. The shooting of arrows is done from around 10am to 11am. Each successful shot drives away the devils. Joma translates as ‘keep evil spirits away’ and shinji ‘Shinto ritual’. By hitting the target, they wish that the devil will be exorcised. When: Jan 5 Where: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine





The Sacred Tour of Nine Best-Luck Temples


t is believed that one’s life and business will prosper all year round if one succeeds in visiting and worshipping Lord Buddha in all nine temples that own auspicious titles at a stretch since the beginning of the year. Some of the temples that are most visited accordingly in Bangkok are, for example, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Temple of Dawn, and so on. When: January 1-31


Bun Pha Vet It


un Pha Vet It is a temple-centred festival in which the jataka or birth-tale of Prince Vestsantara, the Buddha’s penultimate life, is recited in temples throughout Laos. This is considered a particularly auspicious time for ordination as a monk. It falls on different dates throughout the month so that people can exchange invitations with friends and families in different villages to join in their celebrations. This is also a favoured time for Lao males to be ordained into the monkhood. When: January

he Ati-Atihan, held every January in the town of Kalibo in the province of Aklan on the island of Panay, is the wildest among Philippine fiestas. Celebrants paint their faces with black soot and wear bright, outlandish costumes as they dance and shout in revelry to the beat of drums during the last three days of this week-long festival. The Ati-Atihan, a feast in honour of the Santo Niño, is celebrated on the second Sunday after Epiphany. Catholics observe this special day with processions, parades, dancing, and merrymaking. The Santo Niño has long been the favourite of Filipinos and devotion to it has been intense ever since an image was first presented to Juana, Queen of Cebu, in 1521. When: January 3-16




ohri is the Indian version of an annual thanksgiving day and an extremely popular harvest festival in India, especially Northern India. It is a festival to worship fire. Farmers celebrate Lohri before harvesting and gathering the crops. During the day, children go from house to house singing folk songs and are given sweets and savouries, and occasionally, money. At night, people gather around the bonfire and go around the fire three times, giving offerings of popcorns, peanuts, and sweets as an offering to the God of Fire, Agni. When: January 13

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THE NATION ASIANEWS January 4-10, 2009  

i t h c o o l b r e e z e s d e l i g h t i n g u r b a n dwellers, Stuff, the new shop-cum-cafe in Ekamai Soi 22, has converted its large g...

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