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THE NATION ASIANEWS February 22-28, 2009

TRAVEL, FOOD & DRINK, STYLE, ARTS AND TRENDS IN ASIA

Tighten your belts! Hot!

The V marches on

Blessed Bali

Planet pleasers


TRAVEL, FOOD & DRINK, STYLE, ARTS AND TRENDS IN ASIA THE NATION ASIANEWS

February 22-28, 2009

Around Asia

COVER

The Big Apple’s big squeeze

AN UNSWEETENED WORLD

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AFP PHOTO/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY

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WINE NOT KOREAN?

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CLEVER KUS KUS

C o v er / A P : M arc

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THIS BUD’S FOR YOU

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team

BAMBOO BOUNTY

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BEAUTIFUL BAI TRAM BAY

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Editor: Phatarawadee Phataranawik | Deputy Editor: Khetsirin Pholdhampalit | Photo Editor: Kriangsak Tangjerdjarad | Photographers: Ekkarat Sukpetch | Writers: Manta Klangboonklong, Pattarawadee Saengmanee | Contributor: Pawit Mahasarinand, JC Eversole, Aree Chaisatien | Designers: Nibhon Appakarn, Pradit Phulsarikij, Ekkapob Preechasilp | Copy-editors: Luci Standley and Rod Borrowman | Sub-editor: Paul Dorsey | Contact: www.nationmultimedia.com, e-mail: ace@nationgroup.com. (02) 338 3461-2 ACE is published by NMG News Co LTD at 1854 Bangna-Trat Road, Bangkok


photo / ekkarat sukpetch

What’s Hot

Navin flies his world to Inson’s pad

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at i o n a l A r t i s t In s o n Wongsam is a hero to Navin Ravanchaikul. So, after landing his two-year “Fly With Me to Another World” project at local and international exhibitions, Navin has donated its sculptures, installation art, comics, drawings and video d o c u m e n t a r y t o I n s o n’s Dhamma Park Gallery and Gardens in Lampun’s Muang district.

Chanachai’s history of fashion keeps going

Thai indie slots in at the Mosiac Fest

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Scenery for the Club MIA night at the Theatre Studio’s Heineken Music Club on March 21 will be dance-punks Pedicap from the Philippines and the discopunk of New Pants from China. Visit www.MosaicMusic.Festival.com.

photocourtesy of siam centre

ollowing in the drum tracks of Thai indie heroes T-Bone and Moderndog, emerging electro-pop band 15th Scenery has been invited to S i n ga p o r e ’s Mo s a i c Music Festival next month. Grammy-nominated axe-man Mike Stern will kick off the festival on March 13. Other headline acts include the Cinematic Orchestra, the Yellowjackets, Naturally 7 and the Sechou Keita Quintet (SKQ) from Senegal. Jo i n i n g t h e 1 5 t h

Unvieled yesterday, Navin’s works add another layer of contemporary art to a gallery that displays Inson’s private collection centring on abstract sculptures, and his wife Venetia Walkey’s Buddhist-theme artworks. Call (053) 521 609 or visit www.DhammaPark.com or www.NavinProduction.com.

he Siam Centre became the birthplace of Thai indie fashion when Chanachai Jareeyathana chose it as the location for his street-fashion boutique Time’s End while still a Silpakorn student in the late 1990s. The shop got fried in the ’99 economic meltdown, but Chanachai returned to the scene again a few years back with 27 Friday. That high-end label was a big hit on runways and flew off the shelves, so Chanachai has come up with a junior version: 27 Nov, targeting younger fashionistas with mix-and-match items for men and women. The new boutique is located on the third floor under the same roof as more than 20 home-grown designers’ brands, including Soda, Flynow and Theatre. Okay Chanachai, what’s next – a babyfashion boutique? Call (02) 658 1179. Fe b r u a r y 2 2 - 2 8 , 2 0 0 9


Trends

P h o t o c o urtesy o f J ennifer M ac K en z ie

The story of ‘V’ A dozen years on, ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is still opening eyes, giving strength and making people better Pawit Mahasarinand

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-Day — the movement raising awareness about violence against women and sex slavery - has in a decade raised more than US$60 million and earned a place among the world’s most-trusted charities. The “V” stands for victory, valentine — and vagina. And it’s American playwright Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” that lies at the core of the movement. Ensler founded V-Day. The stirring drama is being staged at the Patravadi Theatre from February 27 to March 1, its first “official” production in Thailand following two informal renditions. Translated into 45 languages and performed in 120 countries, the play is based on Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women of different ages and nationalities. The acclaim has been constant since the play’s 1997 debut off-Broadway,

February 22-28, 2009

with Variety calling it at the outset “an incisive piece of cultural history ... a balm and a benediction”. When the “Monologues” reached London the Sunday Times applauded it for being “not preachy”. “It is not sanctimonious. It reminds you that ‘moral’ can, in the wrong hands, be a dirty word. It is about being a sexual being who can afford to be demanding and proud.” For the Bangkok premiere, American director Alanna Gregory has cast 14 Thai and 10 expatriate women in a bilingual production with translations in surtitles. “I believe the bilingual experience is very important, especially in Bangkok,” Gregory says. “The topics discussed rape, domestic violence, trafficking, exploitation and sexuality — are by no means important to only one demographic group. “If we expect to address these problems appropriately, they demand the attention of all Bangkok residents.” Some geographic and cultural refer-

ences in the script have been changed to suit the Thai perspective and vernacular, she says. “We had three translators with backgrounds in writing and theatre look over every monologue to make sure the meanings hold but that the stories make sense.” Gregory says that, while the play is certainly meant to entertain, “it’s also aimed at bringing awareness and provoking thought and conversation about the issues.”

The ‘official’ version in Bangkok at last “The Vagina Monologues” is at the Patravadi Theatre from next Friday through March 1, daily at 8pm. Shuttle buses will run between the theatre and Siam Square. Tickets are Bt400 and Bt600, and Bt200 and Bt300 for students, at Total Reservation, call (02) 833 5555. |5|


AFP Photo

Trends

NO MORE HEROES China’s rockers blast back after TianAnmen, but now they’re firing blanks

Marianne Barriaux

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undreds of hipsters jostle as Carsick Cars, one of China’s hottest rock bands, belts out its popular song “Zhongnanhai”, the name of a cigarette brand — and the seat of China’s government. “Beijing right now has so many talented people and just so much excitement, there’s lots of energy,” says lead singer Zhang Shouwang, 23, straining his voice as another band takes centre stage at Beijing bar D-22. Rock is making a comeback in China after the communist authorities for years slammed the lid tight on music they associated with Western decadence and democracy. China’s new generation of rockers are careful to avoid politics — and Carsick Cars are no exception, insisting their best-known song refers only to the expensive brand of cigarettes Chairman Mao smoked in the 1960s. |6|

Cui Jian, known as the “father of Chinese rock”, became a star when rock first emerged here in the mid-1980s, and one of his songs was an anthem for student protests in Beijing in 1989 that were brutally suppressed on June 4, with hundreds, possibly thousands, of deaths. Cui was effectively banned from performing throughout the 1990s, serving as a warning for what happens when art veers into politics. “Chinese musicians know that there are certain lines they can’t cross,” said Michael Pettis, owner of D-22 and producer of Carsick Cars. “All CDs, if they are going to be nationally distributed, have to be approved by censors.” According to Shen Lihui, head of China’s biggest independent music la-

Carsick Cars

bel Modern Sky, the post-Tiananmen generation “is just not that interested in politics”. “Now, young people just don’t have so many restrictions.” As politics has faded, authorities appear to have become more tolerant, with larger live music venues opening in Beijing, where the nation’s alternative-music scene is concentrated. “We thought it would take three to five years to really develop a decent scene in Beijing,” says Pettis. “But we were shocked — it only took a year.” - Agence France-Presse February 22-28, 2009


Art’s falling stars

Confidence may be waning in the champions of Chinese contemporary At Christie’s Hong Kong in November, filmmaker Oliver Stone flogged a painting by Zhang painting Xiaogang for HK$26.4 million, but half of auction lots went unsold, reflecting a prevailing gloom. Le-Min Lim

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he price of Chinese contemporary art may drop further in the next six months as economic worries continue, and confidence in the last four years’ top performers ebbs, says research firm ArtTactic. Six respondents gave a negative outlook on Chinese contemporary-art prices for every one with a positive projection, ArtTactic’s Chinese Art Market

Yue Minjun

February 22-28, 2009

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P h o t o s / B l o o mberg

Yue Minjun’s “Execution”

Confidence Indicator shows. At Christie’s Hong Kong last May, a That means the majority surveyed painting by Zeng set a Chinese contembelieves “the market will weaken fur- porary record of HK$75.4 million. ther before it rebounds”. ArtTactic’s findings are based on its Auction stars such as the painters survey of 62 collectors, auction houses, Zhang Xiaogang and Yue Minjun are dealers and art advisers. The poll will be being overtaken by mixed-media art- retaken every six months. ists, says ArtTactic. Zhang, Yue, Wang Guangyi and Fang “Few people are in a mood to buy or Lijun rank outside the top 10 on Artsell,” admits Beijing- based art dealer Tian Kai. “Prices are sliding.” Tian blames China’s economy for the art-market stasis. Falling exports and rising rural unemployment are threatening the country’s growth: In the fourth quarter the economy grew 6.8 per cent, the slowest in seven years. China’s benchmark CSI 300 stock index has plunged 13 per cent in the past six months. There isn’t a price index Installation “Through” by Ai Weiwei for Chinese contemporary art. Anecdotal auction results Tactic’s separate confidence index for provide the best indication of Chinese contemporary artists. where the market is headed. The low placement reflects “a lack of In December, an oil painting trust in the short-term development of by Zeng Fanzhi, “Mao I: From their markets, rather than a long-term the Masses, to the Masses”, was view on the importance of these artcalled in at a Christie’s auction in ists”, says ArtTactic. Hong Kong because the last ofYang Fudong, Zhang Peili, Zhang fer of HK$28 million (Bt127 Huan, Cai Guoqiang and Ai Weiwei, all million) didn’t meet the reserve mixed-media artists, took the top five price. positions on the confidence ranking, At a London auction last June not “because of their record prices, but the painting’s twin, “Chairman because of the content and quality of Mao II”, fetched £2.17 million the work”. (Bt108 million). — Bloomberg


Go SHOPPING

Say it: Kus Kus! In Japan it signifies satisfaction, and in Bangkok some very lovely tableware

A set of spoons and forks costs Bt690, or get a forest of chopsticks for Bt255.

K he t sirin Pholdhampalit

photo / ekkarat sukpetch

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us kus, apparently, is a phrase that Japanese utter in moments of pleasure or satisfaction. In Bangkok that translates as a shop called Kus Kus, which is devoted to “the snug life”. The store is the culmination of six years of effort by husband-and-wife team Phan Takkavatakarn and Maiko Araki to put their ChaBaTree wooden kitchenware and tableware out in front in the Thai and Japanese markets. “We harmonise all the comfortable items of daily life so they nicely match the current lifestyle,” says Phan. ChaBaTree’s teakwood pieces are popular for their high quality, simple design and natural look. There’s no lacquer coating, making them completely safe with food. The shop also sells ceramic ware and bathroom accessories imported from Japan, along with toys and children’s clothes, and you can thank the owners’ two-year-old daughter Nanami for inspiring that. “Our main material is golden teakwood, which is really durable, easy to clean and has a beautiful grain that we incorporate into the ||

design,” Phan says. “And we stock only wood from specially planted forests.” These products are dishwasher-safe, but shouldn’t be put in ovens or microwaves. They should be occasionally oiled to keep them from drying out, preferably with olive oil. Phan and Maiko are expanding their range with other materials, including glass, ceramics and granite in storage jars and canisters. As well as Japan their products are sold in South Korea, Britain and Germany and in Bangkok you can also find them at Nandawang and Anyroom at Siam Discovery, the Peace Store on Soi Sukhumvit 39 and the big department stores. It’s best, though, to buy at Kus Kus itself – not only is the name cool, you get a 10-per-cent discount. Taste of Tokyo Kus Kus is at the mouth of Soi Lat Phrao-Wanghin 45 and is open weekdays from 8.30 to 5.30. Call (02) 931 6093 or visit www.ChaBaTree.com.

This intriguing dessert pick set costs Bt400, and the sugarand-cream set Bt530.

Cake stands are priced from Bt820 to Bt1,500.

A granite spice grinder on offer for Bt890, a mortar and pestle for Bt990 and a pot for Bt2,345.

Ceramic mugs from Japan range can be had for Bt350 to Bt380.

Wooden bowls and saucers ranging in price from Bt140 to Bt370 offset the ceramic bowls worth up to Bt350. Fe b r u a r y 2 2 - 2 8 , 2 0 0 9


Cover

Padding against fiscal fallout, New York Fashion Week retreats to the 1980s Samantha Critchell

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Donna Karan

Jill Stuart

DONNA KARAN There’s more to seduction than skin and sin. Donna Karan’s smouldering autumn looks left the audience wanting more after a glimpse of bareness from a back-closure keyhole opening or a slit on the back of a skirt. There was very little that was overtly sexy -and that’s what was so tantalising: The clothes draped the models just the right way and were made of slinky-yet-sophisticated fabrics. The crowd included White House social secretary Desiree Rogers,

Miss Sixty A P P h o t o / S eth W enig

February 22-28, 2009

Marc Jacobs’ punk princess was the prom queen with a rebellious streak, the one who wore oversized cardigan with zipper details and a series of tight pencil skirts. She has a few outfits with sexy cut-outs and a black, slashed dress that allows flashes of pink and green to peek through. And, of course, she had the biggest shoulder pads of the week. Jacobs is considered one of the most influential designers in New York, if not the most influential, so be ready for copycat satin party dresses in hot pink, purple, blue and green in every mall later this year.

A P P h o t o / S tephen C hernin

emember the ‘80s, when big hair and even bigger shoulders were the height of chic? The designers at New York Fashion Week aren’t letting anyone forget. Yes, the shoulder pad is back. Add that to power suits, second-skin dresses, dark lipstick and even acid-wash jeans. It’s probably safe to say there were more shoulder pads at used-clothes shops than at fashion boutiques in recent years. But big shoulders edged onto the runways of Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Alexander Wang, Diane von Furstenberg and others during the first week of the Big Apple’s fashion parade, which continues through Friday. “Shoulder pads scare people but remember, runway is a fairytale,” said Gloria Baume of Teen Vogue. “Now we have to figure out how to make it real.” Done right, though, sharp shoulders can give a new confidence to women left weary by the economy, said Stephanie Solomon of the Bloomingdale department store. “Toughness is confidence. It’s a way of saying, ‘You can’t bring me down’.”

MARC JACOBS

A P P h o t o / D iane B o ndareff

Shoulders forward!

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Erin Fetherston

BETSEY JOHNSON

A P P h o t o / L o uis L an z an o

Can’t afford to have a fete in a recession? Throw a house party! That’s what Betsey Johnson did to show off her autumn 2009 looks, unleashing a 25-piece collection inspired by food at her Manhattan showroom, recreated as an apartment. The theme of the collection was snacks: knitted dresses and tops paired with fringe, sequins and layers of petticoats for frothy skirts. And Johnson didn’t settle on a morose palette: her looks ran through colours like a rainbow.

JILL STUART

EPA/JASON SZENES

Betsey Johnson

The soundtrack to Jill Stuart’s fall runway show could have been “Leather and Lace”. The designer cited French singer Francoise Hardy as an influence, but it was hard not to see at least a little Stevie Nicks in the mix of billowy, sheer chiffon with tough-asnails motorcycle leather. The most dramatic and striking silhouettes were her more delicate looks, including a white minidress surrounded by cascading ruffles that turned sexy when it was backlit by the runway lights.

TRACY REESE

Calvin Klein

A P P h o t o / S eth W enig

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Tracy Reese bounced between the boardroom, bedroom and boyfriend’s closet for clothes that hit many of the trends emerging for fall without being a slave to them. The aggressiveness that’s been all over the catwalks was represented in Reese’s show with wide shoulders and a bronze brocade outfit. Her prints, though, were artful, and her shapes softer than the sharp 1980s silhouette that is making a comeback. Paris and Nicky Hilton were among those watching in the front row.

MISS SIXTY Miss Sixty kicked off its show with a black, acid-wash denim romper with a low-slung waist with a chain detail, with a strapless acidwash jumpsuit right on its heels. Designer Wichy Hassan followed those looks up with nylon puffer pieces and a colourful pop-art print of fashion-magazine covers that was best used on a windbreaker that was worn with skinny jeans and a tank top covered in “peace” graphics. A P P h o t o / K athy W illens

who had one of the best seats in the house, next to Vogue chief Anna Wintour.

CALVIN KLEIN MENSWEAR The new armour for the workMarc by ing man is made of moulded Marc Jacobs foam, a fabric that repels anything you throw at it. Calvin Klein menswear designer Italo Zucchelli used this fabric for modern-day Michelin-man suits worn as if were just another day at the office. Of course the Calvin Klein way is to send a powerful message using understated style. So Zucchelli introduced this fashion-forward, futuristic look in basic shades of grey and they were woven into the larger autumn collection.

ERIN FETHERSTON A first glance at Erin Fetherston’s mini hoop skirts renders a verdict of cute-but-unwearable. However, when the designer herself wore a black version of this kooky teacup silhouette, she looked pretty darned cute. The theme of Fetherston’s show was life-size dolls, complete with girlie bows and Swissdot gloves. The collection, dubbed “Tinderbox”, was gimmicky, but there was something fresh in the unabashed femininity, which has been a rare sight at the previews of fall styles. - Associated Press A P P h o t o / D iane B o ndareff

COVER

Nicole Miller

February 22-28, 2009


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NARCISO RODRIGUEZ Narciso Rodriguez’s urban-warrior theme carried through every look, and he offered his take on the camouflage print, which was black and white, like almost everything else on the runway. There were flashes of highlighter yellow and pink, but even they were

almost always paired with black. He did soften a few pieces, however, by adding an overlay of “camouflage lace”. Instead of showing a lot of skin, Rodriguez ramped up the sex appeal with strategically placed cut-outs, like his alternative to the turtleneck, a style he called the “X-neck”. It was a high crisscross neckline with just a small triangle of skin showing just above the breastbone.

THAKOON

Narciso Rodriguez

Marc by Marc Jacobs

The finale look, a A P P h o t o / K athy W illens sequined one-shoulder dress with a dramatic bow to top it off was a fine piece of handiwork with the beads appearing to float between layers of tulle. A P P h o t o / S eth W enig

hen the going gets tough, the clothes get tougher. Narciso Rodriguez was among the designers who prepared for battle in New York on Tuesday with an urban-warrior theme that featured exposed zipper details, “camouflage lace” and heavy-hardware belts that looked like they were holding bullets. Even elegant Badgley Mischka was more sombre than red-carpet ready, opening with an aggressive daytime look and a series of black pieces with a taffeta-wool checkerboard weave. Tough-as-nails dresses heavy on black and metallics were on the runways of Herve Leger and Nicole Miller, with other designers relying on aggressive hardware or patent-leather trims. The usually girlish Cynthia Rowley presented an almost all-black collection.

Thakoon

A P P h o t o / J eff C hristensen

TOUGH CLOTHES FOR TOUGH TIMES

A disco-ball dress for Michelle Obama? Probably not. But before Thailand’s Thakoon Panichgul famously dressed the first lady, cool model types wore the designer’s clothes. That’s who he seemed to have in mind for his new fall collection, never mind that White House social secretary Desiree Rogers was in the front row. The Thakoon runway was filled with graffiti-paint fur — a “so-what?” statement to the down economy, perhaps — narrow sheaths and cool coats.

MARC BY MARC JACOBS Add scrunchy socks and high-top sneakers to the list of ’80s styles making a comeback. Marc Jacobs gave his punk princess something to wear during the day at his Marc by Marc Jacobs show: cosy jumpsuits, colourful stripes and schoolgirl plaids. Many designers have taken a more sombre tone. Not Jacobs, who presented an explosion of mustard, red, purple and green - sometimes all in one outfit. Pants with a loose fit, many with zippers down the side revealing inset patterns, were tucked inside socks for a more wearable harem pant silhouette. Footwear included high tops for men and women, along with fur-covered boots. - Associated Press

THIS IS THE SPACE AGE

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A P P h o t o / L o uis L an z an o

he present looks bleak for the fashion industry, so designers at Fashion Week have a solution: the future. Space-age materials and clothes with jutting hips and shoulders made a Jetsons-like splash on Saturday in New York. Even Barbie, celebrating her 50th birthday, got in on the act. A fashion show with 50 designs inspired by the doll closed with a series of futuristic dresses including a white Calvin Klein dress with cut-out shoulders. Georges Chakra used liquidy, hi-tech fabrics with Georges sharp Jane Jetson shapes, while Alexander Wang went Chakra with a hard edge in an February 22-28, 2009

entirely black and white collection. BCBG relied on asymmetrical necklines and shoulder pads and put models in metallic tights, which at the right angle on their ultra-thin legs could remind an observer of C-3PO from “Star Wars”. Nicole Miller embraced a space-age look that’s a little more ‘60s than futuristic, shown best in a black vest with an in-your-face shoulder flange worn over a slim black stretch dress. And that projecting shoulder might offset another recurring sight: peplum pants, with fabric that juts out at the hips. Ashleigh Verrier, traditionally a feminine ladylike designer, had a harder edge with metallics and stiff ruffles, but she also gave a nod to the Valentine’s Day romantic with sheer chiffon prints that allowed for very visible delicate lingerie.

Alexander Wang’s downtown girl can mix and match styles, textures and shapes in the haphazard way that gives her street cred, though she also likes a little bit of luxury. But just in case it’s still not politically correct to be a show-off next autumn, Wang successfully camouflaged minkand fox-fur trim in otherwise hard-core, sleek silhouettes. The slim leggings and biker shorts on the catwalk were often complemented by tops with silver studs or corset silhouettes, fuelling the edginess, but Wang’s modelfriend crowd can pull off the look — and they also can wear a fitted “spongy” silk bodysuit with combat boot. As for the rest of us, a black leather flightsuit with fox sleeves invites comparisons to King Kong. - Associated Press | 11 |


Hip Hangout

Grapes of joy JC Eversole

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Kicking back

in Bali

In Kuta on holiday? Make sure you spend an evening at the super cool Ku De Ta Manta K langboonkrong

photos/courtesy of KU DE TA

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he island of Bali has a global reputation for being a eclectic sanctuary. Offering everything from spiritual sites and unique handicrafts to tasty local cuisine and water sports, Bali also caters to those who want to chill with refreshing drinks and stunning views. And at Ku D e Ta , a s w a n ky beachfront restaurant and club in downtown Kuta, you can have the best of all worlds. Since its launch back in 2000, Ku De Ta has put Seminyak on the map with constant visits from world-famous DJs and celebrities. The spacious compound is divided into dining and lounge areas where, from 8am till late, you can munch on Western breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as sip coffee, coke, beer or something stronger. Though it’s more restaurant than bar, you’ll find young professionals, expats and tourists pouring in as the sun sets to relax in the comfortable chairs amid the greenery and enjoy sundowners while contemplating the tide. | 12 |

With an extensive list of signature and classic drinks, you can easily lose all sense of time and go on all night in this slow-paced ambience. When it’s completely dark, you’ll not only hear the waves but see the white crests as the spotlights are turned towards the ocean. Music-wise, Ku De Ta has a good selection of chill-out electronic music to lull its guests – offering everything from house, ambience, Latin house through to funky house. T here’s an occasional theme party with big-name international DJs taking the deck, among them Pete Tong, Claude Challe and Martin Solveig. Price-wise, it’s a little expensive compared to other bars in Bali. But who’s going to argue when they’re chilling in one of the best-known beach bars in the world? >> Ku De Ta is in Seminyak area on Bali’s southwestern shore. Call (62) 361 763 969 or visit www.KuDeTa.net >> Air Asia now operates direct daily flights between Bangkok and Bali. Visit www.AirAsia.com.

amstrung by outrageously unfair taxes and irrational promotional bans, Thailand’s wineries continue to forge ahead in the hope that the future will bring more enlightened treatment under government regulation. GranMonte Estate in Khao Yai’s Asoke Valley entertained some 95 media people and friends last weekend to highlight several hallmarks in the winery’s impressive development. Foremost among these was the presentation by owners Visooth and Sakuna Lohitnavy of their daughter Nikki, who recently graduated from the University of Adelaide’s prestigious oenology school, as GranMonte’s winemaker. Nikki welcomed her substantial responsibilities by leading visitors to the new major addition to the winery, a Bt40-million, 100,000-litre-capacity winemaking facility. Tank samples of her three- week-old ’09 chenin blanc were greeted with generous praise. Nikki’s commitment to natural grape flavours was also evident in the ’08 chenin blanc, which she assisted in making. Poured at that evening’s al-fresco buffet, its tart citrus and melon flavours paired perfectly with crisp calamari, home-made sausages and shrimp salads from the winery’s Vin Cotto restaurant. A fiercely competitive grape-picking competition launched Sunday’s activities and was followed by a light-hearted blind tasting of several styles of GranMonte whites. Taking respite from rising midday temperatures, guests relaxed on the shaded patio terrace with several of the winery’s intense ripe fruit syrahs paired with superb wine braised beef short ribs, medallions of pork or grilled salmon. Owner Visooth then demonstrated his usual cool-under-pressure nature with a double-barrelled finale to the party. The 2001 vintages of Chateau Pichon Lalande and Chateau Angelus, two of Bordeaux’s exemplary wineries, were poured to everyone’s pleasure by their respective owner-winemakers, Gildas d’Ollone and Hubert de Bouard de Forest, in attendance from France specifically for this event. The curtain was rung down on the groundbreaking weekend with Visooth’s announcement that De Bouard has agreed to a formal consulting-winemaker’s role with GranMonte. De Bouard raised his glass in a toast and reminisced, “It’s a great pleasure to be associated with a family who cares about every aspect of its winery, including helping their daughter to become their winemaker, just as I did some years ago at Chateau Angelus for my family.” Fe b r u a r y 2 2 - 2 8 , 2 0 0 9


New hotel = new food Canadian lobster gets a Japanese makeover at Le Meridien’s Bamboo Chic

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K he t sirin Pholdhampalit

Nibblers tend to gravitate to Bamboo Chic’s Raw Bar, where they perch on stools and eat their way upstream against a current of sushi and sashimi. Whatever you eat, it can be washed down with something from the copious wine list, a decidedly Asian martini or another curious cocktail while DJs from near and far kick into a groove at 9.30pm. The Kyoto martini is interesting — dry gin, Midori melon liqueur and vermouth mixed with lime juice and sugar syrup. That and the sake martini, which also has triple sec, blue curacao and lime juice, cost Bt220. The ‘Bam’ in Bamboo Bamboo Chic is open daily from 6pm to 1am and on Fridays and Saturdays until 2. Call (02) 232 8888 or visit www.LeMeridienHotelBangkok.com. Fe b r u a r y 2 2 - 2 8 , 2 0 0 9

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p h o t o / e kka r a t s u k p e t c h

ew on Surawong Road, Le Meridien Bangkok also has a fresh taste — a restaurant called Bamboo Chic with a sumptuous look courtesy of the Orbit Design Studio, the same folks who went to sleep and dreamed up Bed Supperclub. The main dining area is a sensual lounge, moodily lit with a huge chandelier and spacious with a high ceiling. Off to the side is a pair of secluded private rooms. On the menu are modern Chinese and Japanese dishes, including yakiniku and teppanyaki, and some tantalising specials. Like cheese? How about a braised North Atlantic lobster in a sweet soybean paste with Italian blue Gorgonzola cheese and balsamic sauce? That’s worth Bt380 per 100 grams. Ask the lobster how much it weighs. The Japanese-style wagu steak and foie gras is served in a truffle sauce on top of fried garlic rice and avocado tempura. This one goes for Bt1,200 for 100 grams of beef or Bt1,600 for 180 grams. A dessert to consider dying for is the hot sesame soup with ginger ice cream, a Bt250 treat that will bring to mind sweet sesame-stuffed dumplings in ginger syrup. For Bt200 you can have lemon-and-lime marshmallows with mango and a pomelo sorbet, or berries with green tea and rhubarb soup.


Laid-back

Inthanon’s

They do amazing things at the Royal Agricultural Stations. Why wouldn’t the tourists flock in? K he t sirin Pholdhampalit

K he t sirin Pholdhampalit

Paragon points the way Parc Paragon at Siam Paragon is celebrating the Royal Project Foundation’s 40th anniversary by selling the produce through March 1, and the Botanical Garden has displays on the techniques used, including the fish farming. In the Hall of Mirrors you can watch demonstrations on hydroponic cultivation, the Cascade area is offering hilltribe handicrafts, and the Fashion Hall has other related products.

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Head north The Royal Agricultural Station Inthanon is open daily from 7 to 5, with admission just Bt20. Visit www.RoyalInthanon.com or call (053) 286 770-7. The office is at extension 11, room reservations at 15 and the restaurant at 14. Fe b r u a r y 2 2 - 2 8 , 2 0 0 9


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ravellers often respond to the appeal of a rustic holiday “down on the farm”. That’s not quite what you get at the Inthanon Royal Agricultural Station not far from urban Chiang Mai — you get much more. For one thing, you’re “up on the farm”, up in the foothills of Doi Inthanon in Chom Thong district. With its highland plantations, stunning mountain vistas and a chance to get chummy with the hilltribes, the centre has emerged as a popular tourist attraction. There’s lots to see and 28 comfortable rooms available for Bt2,400 per night. It’s one of Chiang Mai province’s four research stations opened by His Majesty the King’s Royal Project Foundation. This is where they do the serious work of restoring forests, replenishing the watershed and bolstering the agricultural economy — without opium, crucially. The Angkhang station in Fang district is a hit with tourists because they can sample the winter-zone fruits like peaches, kiwis and strawberries. Inthanon station is aglow with coolclimate flowering plants like chrysanthemums and pansies. “We cultivate chrysanthemums all year round — we call the flower the ‘Star on Earth of Doi Inthanon’,” says

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Somchai Kaewdang, the director at both Angkhang and Inthanon. “Our roses, anthuriums and chrysanthemums are our most popular products, and they’re used to decorate the Chitralada, Sra Pathum and Sukhothai palaces. No need to import any of these flowers now.” Visitors follow their noses among the delightful gardens and nurseries and w a t c h a s researchers sif t through species from around the globe to find those that will flourish in the Thai North. Dahlias, roses, freesia and cymbidiums brighten test gardens, and hydroponic vegetable crowd into patches of their own. The “house of ferns” has more than 100 varieties on beautiful display. The station is currently keen on the cape gooseberry, a small, bright-yellow cousin of the tomato that’s sweet when ripe and great for pies, jams and fruit salads. What else do they grow? Rainbow trout! In a first for Thailand, a species native to the West that matures in freshwater frolics here in

hatcheries supplied by the nearby Siribhumi Waterfall. The roe becomes red caviar worth Bt800 per 100 grams, a delicacy that hotels and restaurants aren’t ignoring. “We can produce 18 to 20 tonnes of trout a year, fresh and processed, for the local and overseas markets,” says the station’s Nuporn Thongluan. “At our restaurant you can also tr y smoked trout and mieng pla trout — morsels wrapped with herbs in a leaf. The meat is sweet and clean.” Also under study is the Siberian sturgeon, famed for its caviar roe, and Karen farmers in neighbouring Mae Klang Luang are spreading redclaw crayfish from the station on their rice fields, as a nutrient.

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P h o t o s / Ekka r a t S u k p e t c h

farm wizards


Laid-back

Put your heart in Pai

The Paivimaan Resort was designed with travellers in mind and the owner’s family too – it has to be good

Manta K langboonkrong

P hoto courtesy of P aivimaan R esort

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ittle Pai in Mae Hong Son up north isn’t such a sleepy town since becoming a hot tourist getaway in the cold season, and a bit of a business boom is going on. Bangkok’s Soermpong Satitanon made the migration early, opening the Paivimaan Resort four years ago on what had been farmland. Soermpong’s done his share of travelling, so he knew what to include in the design. “I’ve stayed in a lot of guesthouses and resorts and I know what travellers want,” he says. “And I wanted this resort to be a sanctuary for my own family too – a dream house away from our main home in Bangkok.” | 16 |

Located on the main drag in town, bar is affordable and breakfast is a the Paivimaan backs onto the Pai Riv- swell buffet. er, so guests can also opt to pitch a Whether visiting as a couple or a tent get intimate with the outdoors. family, you can choose a more private If the wilderness of the riverbank villa or a room big enough for a isn’t for you, though, sign up for a crowd. nice, comfy bed in simple yet elegant From every window, off in the discontemporary Lanna-style lodgings. tance are spectacular green mounThe furniture is tains. built with thick wood The downtown and the walls are of shops are just a few Restin’ on the river hefty, hand-made clay minutes’ walk away, The Paivimaan Resort is on bricks and warmed but the resort urges Tedsaban Nueng Road. with Lanna tapesyou to stick around, Room rates start at Bt1,500 tries. with its grassy lawn per night, rising in the busy The TV pulls in the and hammocks strung season. Check the details at local cable channels, by the lazy river, and (053) 699 403 or e-mail the shower runs hot massage on tap in the paivimaan@hotmail.com and cold, the minigarden salas. Fe b r u a r y 2 2 - 2 8 , 2 0 0 9


Wellness Between

the sheets

photo / lat - wp

Play your body like an instrument Dusdi Banomyong is offering to give your body a tune- up at her “Music for Health” workshop today between 2 and 5 at Soi Thonglor’s Pridi Banomyong Institute. As well as teaching you how to unlock music’s healing power, she’ll show you the right buttons to press to get that energy flowing. Instruction is in Thai with English translation. For a reservation call (02) 381 3860-1 or visit www.PridiInstitute.com.

A new book offers lots of tips on how to lead an eco-friendly life and have fun too! Aree C haisatien

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book entitled “Gorgeously Green, 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life” offers readers plenty of ideas beyond carrying an “I am not plastic bag” tote. If you think that leading an eco-friendly life is time-consuming and boring, you are wrong, says author Sophie Uliano, who insists you can have your cake and eat it too. An American mum with a six-year-old daughter, Uliano loves shopping, adores makeup, teaches yoga and believes that “gorgeousness is not necessarily an external thing. I can be wearing scraggy old jeans and an ill-fitting shirt, but I still feel happy, passionate and alive.” The book – or the “bible”, as Hollywood star Julia Roberts calls it – provides lots of easy and fun ideas to begin living green, from changing your beauty and fitness regime, to cooking, cleaning, gardening and travelling and even organising a wedding. Uliano cites some interesting figures. Did you know, for instance, that women spend an average of 400 hours a year on their beauty routines? That’s almost 17 days! Or that only 11 per cent of 10,500

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ingredients in beauty products have been tested for safety? Basic but often overlooked information includes a list of cosmetic ingredients categorised in order of danger, plus a note that most products that are proclaimed to be 100-per-cent natural or contain plant extract may in fact contain a plethora of chemicals and additives. Websites suggested in the book are informative and there’s a treasure trove of tips, like DIY recipes for a facial sugar scrub and delicious banana raisin muffins. Shopaholics should try and conjure up an image of a graveyard for their purchases while those who love energy drinks might want to try coconut water instead — it’s just as good for replacing lost electrolytes and contains more potassium than sport drinks. The author’s motto is “one change can make a difference for a better world”. How true! Gorgeously Green : 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life by Sophie Uliano is available at Asia Books for Bt550.

Beauty and the beast of age Anti-ageing is old news for Austrian photographer HH Capor. Yes, he likes to snap himself with beautiful young girls – but only to show how he’s wrinkling up over time next to their perfect skin. Capor’s exhibition “Ageing”, his Bangkok debut, opens on February 27 at the Whitespace Gallery’s on the second floor of the Lido Building on Siam Square Soi 3. The show runs until March 29. Call (02) 252 2900 or visit www.WhiteSp-ce.com.

You gotta get dirty to get clean Maybe Capor should check out the Spa Body Detoxify treatment at the Novotel Bangkok’s Tammachart Day Spa in Siam Square. It promises to suck out the wrinkle-causing poisons by coating you with a clay that contains lavender oil, vitamins, honey, peppermint and tea leaves. Don’t think all those ingredients come cheap – the treatment starts at Bt1,200. Call (02) 209 8888. | 17 |


PHOTO ESSAY

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February 22-28, 2009


China’s Little New Year T E XT A N D P H OTOS BY CHINA DAILY

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he Lantern Festival traditionally marks the end of the series of celebrations starting from the Chinese New Year, thus, it is also known as the ‘Little New Year’. It is celebrated on the 15h day of the first month in the lunar year of the Chinese calendar. It is an occasion for family reunions and people enjoy beautiful lanterns on display in parks or markets, and eat Yuanxiao, small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour and sweet fillings.

February 22-28, 2009

| 19 |


LIFESTYLE Chemistry of

love

There is a scientific explanation to everything, including falling in love

SINGAPORE

Wong Mei Ling The Straits Times

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hakespeare, in his famous 18th sonnet, gushed over love saying: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” Somewhat jaded by the time he penned sonnet number 148, he lamented: “O cunning love! With tears thou keep’st me blind.” Today’s scientists will concede that love is indeed blind. Had Shakespeare understood something about the science of love, he would have known that it was really the frontal cortex of his brain that was blinded while his stress hormones worked overtime. Studies show that a large part of the frontal cortex located at the forehead—associated with judgment and planning—is deactivated when one is in love.

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“The dysfunction of the frontal cortex could impair character judgment and blind you to the other person’s flaws,” said Dr Francis Ngui, a senior consultant psychiatrist and medical director at Adam Road Medical Centre. Indeed, love can more than blind the smitten. They become obsessive, losing sleep over it. They cannot eat and they cannot stop thinking about the other person. Sorry, poet types, there is a rational explanation for all this. Blame it partly on a drop in the brain chemical called serotonin, which keeps a person calm, said professor Donatella Marazziti of Italy’s Pisa University, in a 1999 study. Serotonin, which controls mood, emotions, sleep and appetite, is produced in the central nervous system and intestinal tract. Being in love is stressful too. Marazziti found in later studies that both men and women in love have considerably higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which February 22-28, 2009


Some scientists opine that romantic love is not an emotion, but a reward system. American biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, an expert on the science of human attraction, found that when a person is in love, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) located in the middle of the brain—where the the reward system is located— becomes very active. Her study was published in The Journal Of Neurophysiology in 2005. The VTA is where the brain chemical called dopamine is released, inducing feelings of pleasure, want, craving and motivation when a person is in love.

is produced by the adrenal glands located just above the kidneys. And if cortisol is not enough to keep the blood pressure high, another stress hormone, norepinephrine, is released, which increases heartbeat and the feeling of excitement. Testosterone levels vary in men and women who are in love too. Men were found to have lower levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, which makes them less aggressive, while women had higher levels of testosterone, which increases sexual drive. However, the real stuff of love—the bonding, trust and attachment— comes from a chemical in the brain called oxytocin, otherwise known as the ‘love hormone’, said Ngui. This is induced by touching and hugging, and is produced mainly in the brain’s hypothalamus. Oxytocin is then distributed to other parts of the brain and spinal cord. February 22-28, 2009

Keeping love hormones active As the novelty of new love wears out, these hormonal rages also start to simmer down and return to normal levels. “It’s like if you suffer a pain every day, over time it will no longer be that painful. It’s the way the body adjusts to the other person as a stimulus,” said associate professor Chia Sing Joo, senior consultant and head of the department of general surgery at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. This is why Chia, who specialises in sexual dysfunction and subfertility, said couples need to have sex to keep the love hormones active and remind the body of the desire, bonding and attachment when they were first in love. “Love alone is not enough. You must have some spice. If there’s no love making, there’s no kick,” he said. Couples should also constantly create new activities together, like picking up a new sport or musical instrument, said associate professor Tsai Fen-Fang from the department of psychology at the National University of Singapore. “The shared participation in novel activities helps create new excitement in the relationship,” Tsai said.

When couples find themselves fighting all the time, they should put down their unsolved issues and do a ‘time out’ like going on a short trip to put them in a better mood. “When in a good mood, couples can communicate better, increasing their chance of resolving issues,” she said.

‘I love youfrom the bottom of my brain’

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latest research has shed more scientific explanation to love through the help of brain images, hormones and genetics. Bianca Acevedo of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and his research team of this research has identified tiny regions in the brain which form the basis of love and heartbreaks. These regions are called, ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens, the ventral pallidum and raphe nucleus. VTA was found to be the most interesting for its teardrop shape and its importance in determining long-lasting and deep bonding in love. VTA lit up among newly in love people and those still deeply in love even after 20 years of marriage. Scientists also studied heartbreak and found an additional activity in the nucleus accumbens region of their brains. They said the brain responds to love in the same way as it does to some drug addiction. So love can quite be called a romantic addiction and, alarmingly, the addiction factor seemed stronger in case of heartbreak. “The brokenhearted show more evidence of what I’ll call craving… Similar to craving the drug cocaine,” said Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist also at Einstein medical college.

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o

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TECHNOLOGY

TWIT FRIENDS: A collage of Mark Pesce’s followers on Twitter. Pesce is one of the early pioneers in virtual reality and the author of five books and numerous papers on the future of technology.

The Twitter Twits Blogging traffic slows while the usage of Twitter and Plurk explodes SINGAPORE

Tan Weizhen The Straits Times

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logging is so last year. Now, the latest rage among netizens is the Internet form of SMS, using tools such as Twitter or Plurk to give friends an instant update on their lives, on subjects ranging from good makan places (places to eat) to news events. According to research firm Hitwise, blogging traffic slowed last year, while the usage of Twitter and Plurk has exploded. The number of Singaporean users visiting and using Twitter’s site jumped 602 per cent between January last year and last month, said Hitwise, which does not reveal absolute figures. | 22 |

Plurk—a newer platform than Twitter—was even more popular: It attracted 184 per cent more users than Twitter last month. Checks done in Singapore show that netizens who used to blog incessantly are switching to the new platforms, known collectively as micro-blogs. Undergraduate student Jerrick Lim, 20, who used to update his blog a few times a week in the past, confesses that he now does so only twice a month. Now, he says, he “twitters and plurks like a maniac”. “Blogging is getting to be a hassle. I think about and write a lengthy post, and then get only three comments,” he said. The main attraction of micro-blogging, say enthusiasts, is that they function as instant messaging as well as social networking tools. Other advantages, they say, are that February 22-28, 2009


these ‘Internet SMSes’ can reach a worldwide audience, and generate responses almost instantaneously. Users can also send messages without being tethered to a computer, unlike blogging. All you need to start a micro-blog is to create an account at the Twitter (twitter.com) or Plurk (plurk.com) website. You can then log in from your computer or mobile phone, or send an SMS, to file a post of not more than 140 characters in length. Third-party sites like twitter.sg and widgeo.us provide a local number to send text messages to, so you pay local phone rates. Just as with social networks, users can ‘invite’ friends, both here and overseas, to join their circles. Some micro-bloggers have thousands of people on their networks, and all can be reached in an instant.

The exploding popularity of ‘twittering’ or ‘plurking’, as they are known in Net parlance, in Singapore echoes a similar trend elsewhere. In the United States, Twitter visits jumped 343 per cent between September 2007 and the same month last year, according to Nielsen Online. Last December, Israel became the first government to hold a press conference via Twitter, taking questions from the public about the country’s war with Hamas. Perhaps the most famous ‘twitterer’ is US President Barack Obama. As of February 4, the ardent fan of micro-

Let’s Do The Twit Twitter was founded by Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams They got a TechCrunch award for best mobile startup On April 22, 2008, Twitter created a version for Japanese users Japanese is now the second most used language on Twitter In 2008, CNN began setting up Twitter pages for some of its anchors and reading tweets during broadcasts During the 2008 Mumbai attacks, eyewitnesses sent an estimated 80 tweets every five seconds as the tragedy unfolded Last month, Janis Krum, a passenger of the ferries that rushed to help evacuate passengers at the US Airways ditched in Hudson river, took pictures of the downed plane and sent them via TwitPic before traditional media arrived Last week, Australia’s county fire authority used Twitter to send out regular alerts and updates regarding the Victorian bushfires Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also used his Twitter account to send out information on the fires, how to donate money and blood, and where to seek emergency help

Who Twits?

Full-time national serviceman Brennan Neoh, 22, a Plurk user, said he can get 10 or more responses to a question just seconds after he posts it. “It’s addictive, fast and very useful. And it means my friends know about, and can respond to, what happens in my life immediately.” He added that it is a great way to stay in touch with loved ones: His mother reads his Plurk updates while he is in camp. “We can’t bring in smart phones with cameras. The only way to update is through SMSes to Plurk or Twitter,” he said. February 22-28, 2009

blogging has 231,646 ‘followers’—users who have added him to their list of ‘friends’ to see his postings. Mr Obama added another 234,840 as ‘friends’. He used Twitter heavily during his successful election campaign last year. Professor Zhang Wei Yu of the Communications and New Media programme at the National University of Singapore said micro-blogging is getting popular mostly because it is simple, highly interactive and can masscommunicate messages quickly. For all the popularity of Twitter and such, many netizens say that blogging, though less popular now, still has a place. They say blogs allow for deeper discussions on more serious issues, something that is impossible on Twitter and other similar sites. Said Prof Zhang: “Blogs serve many more functions than keeping friends posted. Many bloggers post lengthy opinions...something they cannot do on Twitter.”

US President Barack Obama during his campaign Israeli ministry of foreign affairs for a press conference on Hamas The website of the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown The Los Angeles Fire Department during the 2007 wildfires Large businesses such as Cisco Systems, Jet Blue, Sun Microsystems, IBM and Whole Foods Market to provide product or service information NASA to break the news of the discovery of what appeared to be water ice on Mars and other projects Pop culture icons and celebrities like Lily Allen, Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, John Cleese, Richard Bacon, Will Carling, Alan Carr, Shaquille O’Neal, John Mayer, Lupe Fiasco, Philip Schofield, Taylor Swift, Gregg ‘Opie’ Hughes, Chris Moyles, Justin Hawkins, Adam Ficek, Soleil Moon Frye, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson advertises jobs on Twitter Source: Wikipedia

| 23 |


Entertainment

CHOCO HEROES: The protagonists in the movie Chocolate Underground.

Outlawing Chocolates Imagine a world where not only chocolates but also all other sugary stuff are totally banned | 24 |

TOKYO

Kumi Matsumaru The Daily Yomiuri

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hocolates are all around us these days, even after Valentine’s Day. It is difficult, yet somehow enjoyable, to choose just the right ones from among the tonnes of varieties. So, could you imagine a life in which not only chocolates but also all other sugary stuff were totally banned from tomorrow? And what would you do under such strict laws? This is the main theme of Bootleg, a novel written by Alex Shearer, and the basis of the Japanese animated film , which recently opened in Japan. In the book, first published in 2002 in Britain, the Good For You party passes a law that bans chocolate and other sweets, claiming the tasty treats are harmful to your health. The February 22-28, 2009


government steps up surveillance and tracks down those who break the law. Those who do not abide the Chocolate Prohibition Law are sent to a reeducation centre to reform their diet consciousness. Protagonists Huntley and Smudger, two chocolate-loving teenagers, fight to win back their freedom to indulge in the sweet flavour. With the help of Mrs Bubby, who runs a sweet shop and is bitter about being obliged to sell healthy but tasteless food to her customers, they launch a secret underground chocolate factory to bootleg the sweets. But of course the factory is uncovered, and their fate, along with that of chocolate itself, looks grim... The British author said he came up with the idea of banning chocolate from the world when he saw his wife trying to make their children eat vegetables.

“And I thought it might be a thing like American Prohibition (the 1920-33 US ban on alcohol). Then the two ideas came together,” Shearer told The Daily Yomiuri during a recent interview on the eve of the opening of the film. “It also was a time the UK government, when Tony Blair was in power, was becoming more concerned with the life of people, like a nanny state. It was like, ‘You have to eat well, not drink,’” he said. Shearer said that, through the book, he wanted to express the idea that you February 22-28, 2009

really cannot enforce a law people don’t like, which is why Prohibition failed. The novel garnered readers mainly among 8- to 12-year-old boys in the English-speaking world, according to Shearer. In Japan, a comic version by manga artist Aiji Yamakawa was carried in the monthly girls’ magazine Margaret, published by Shueisha Inc, in two installments a year ago, in line with the production of the film. The comic well depicts the characters of the two boys, cool-headed Huntley with his strong sense of justice and bold, active Smudger with lots of ideas. The visual portrayal of the boys in the film and the manga also seem to be faithful to images inspired by the book. Huntley appears to be a mild-mannered and quiet-looking boy in pictures released to the media, while Smudger is shown in a trendy outfit with earrings and ear cuffs. Still, there are some differences between the book, the comic and the animation. “The animation is lots more futuristic than the book. The machines in the animation are very interesting,” Shearer said, referring to robotlike machines used by the chocolate troops. Shearer pointed to another difference, Mr Blades. He is a man who runs an old bookstore and gives a

chocolate recipe book to Smudger and Huntley. Mr Blades is a young, nice-looking man in the comic and film, but is an old, chubby guy in Bootleg, although he is depicted as a chocolate addict in all versions. A young female character also was added to the Japanese versions as one of three protagonists, possibly to draw more women into the audience, as the film appears to be for slightly older, more female viewers, while the book is geared more toward boys. But Shearer believes the film conveys the sprit of his book, whose Japanese translation has sold nearly 120,000 copies. “I think the film is true to the sprit in the book, fighting for the freedom and the right to choose. “It is very interesting to see how another culture takes the idea and adopts it in a way to appeal the audience in the other culture,” he said. Shearer, who also writes film and television scripts in Britain, added that he did not have a hand in writing the film, although it was suggested that he do so, as he does not know anything about Japanese culture and life. He said the idea that nobody can get rid of your fond memories is another theme of the book. “When you are a child you often associate a happy memory with food. French writer Marcel Proust also wrote in Remembrance of Things Past about a memory that was triggered by a madeleine (a small cake). The same thing can happen with chocolate,” said Shearer, whose own favourite chocolate brand is Cadbury’s, the famous British confectioner. Shearer remembered an incident when some schools in Britain stopped selling snacks and banned chips to protect the health of children. “Then, at one school, mothers came to the gate and pushed the chips through the gate to the children,” Shearer said with a smile. “You can’t force laws that people don’t like.” Chocolate Underground, in Japanese, is playing. | 25 |


Life

The Last Hunters

An ethnic minority tribe in China is holding on to its traditional way of life... but many fear the end of an era PHOTOS BY YA N G S H U H A I /C H I NA DA I LY

BEIJING

Miao Miao China Daily

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obody knows the age of Suo Maliya, female leader of an Ewenki ethnic minority tribe that lives deep in the forests of Greater Hinggan Mountains, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, though she appears to be in her 80s. She lives much like her ancestors have done for hundreds of years. She has more than 300 reindeers worth about 5,000 yuan (US$735) apiece, which makes her worth about 1.5 million yuan ($219,000), the richest and most authoritative member of her society. | 26 |

About 300km away from the tribe’s mountaintop settlement, a well-furnished village was built five years ago for Suo’s tribe members. About 231 Ewenki people have started a new life here. Suo, however, intends to stay with five or so hunters on her remote mountaintop, where all her ancestors were buried, until she too dies. When Suo passes away it could be the end of an era and a traditional way of life for the Aolu Guya Ewenki tribe. Aolu Guya is the name of the place where Suo’s tribe settled and means “flourishing poplar forest”. The tribe migrated from the Lena River Valley in Russia 300 years ago and settled down in China. Since Ewenki tribes people elsewhere had already given up their nomadic February 22-28, 2009


doing the same now. The 32-year-old woman is living in a temporary shelter after the local government started an improvement project of the villagers’ housing. “Our house will be transformed into a two-storey ‘villa’,” Suo Ronghua says with a big smile. Like others in the village she uses the Internet to send sample photos and negotiate with clients around the country. Though some of the tribes people have left their remote mountain home, they still want to retain their tradition of letting their reindeer roam and graze. HOMELAND: Tribal leader Suo Maliya is determined to live—and die—on the remote mountaintop.

OLD-FASHIONED: Ewenki tribesman A Rongbu welcomes the dramatic changes that progress has brought, but continues to live the traditional way.

lifestyle, the Aolu Guya Ewenki were referred to as “China’s last hunting tribe”. The group that settled in houses five years ago have adapted remarkably quickly to modern life. Each household has 50sqm of space and has basic furniture, cable television, a toilet, water, telephone and central heating, which are all supplied by the government. Flowers and vegetation are planted in some courtyards. Members of the tribe sit in cane chairs in the shade with eyes closed, cozy and warm. Nursing homes, school and shops are also provided. Suo Ronghua was the pioneer trader of antler products in the new village, but there are more than 10 other shops February 22-28, 2009

The local government has set up five hunting spots in the forest with feed provided. There is also plentiful lichen, the favoured food of reindeer. Villagers raising reindeer can use these areas in turn. Yi Lie, 29, is one of the few youngsters left who is happy taking care of his reindeer in the forest. His younger brother by 4 years, Yi Su, has a different take on life, however, and is about to become a cleaner. For Yi Su, his brother’s life is rather colourless. “I’m not interested in those things that Yi Lie does. I’ve heard enough from my grandfather about those forest stories,” he says.

“I have no idea about what Yi Su is talking about, the Internet, Jay Chou, Jackie Chan, none of that is my business,” Yi Lie responds. Most youngsters born in the 1980s would rather stay in the cozy village and their villas, rather than go back to their former primitive houses in the forest. “Why should we go back to starving and a poor life?” Yi Su asks. The incomes of the villagers have risen over the past five years and as a result attitudes have changed. “The younger generation lives a modern life. There’s no need to be cold and worry about medical treatment. It’s really dramatic progress to us,” says an old hunter A Rongbu. Even so, some people are worried the tribe’s culture will be lost soon. “The essence of preserving culture is daily life. If this core is lost, (the tribe’s) culture can only be found in printed words and in history displayed at a museum,” says Nuo Min, a Daur minority musician. In contrast, tribes person Zhang Li now works in the tourism business after graduating from university. “We really have a quite small population. Nobody can guarantee that our race will survive even when we chose to live in the forest,” she says. “Modern culture is helpful, our traditional reindeer grazing methods cannot be improved without modern techniques. “We should keep up with the pace of the times. Some traditional things might go missing but we will strive to hold on to distinguished aspects of our culture.” | 27 |


ARTS & CULTURE SEOUL

Heo Shi-myung The Korea Herald

THE KOREA HERALD PHOTOS

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MASTER: The samhaeju master brewer Gwon Hui-ja.

A Taste Of Korean Wine

Wine-making secrets have been handed down from generations of aristocrats | 28 |

he best time to taste Korean wine is February. Baekseju, brewed with rice harvested in late fall and fermented at a low temperature matures at the end of January or early February. The name baekseju, meaning 100-day wine, comes from the 100 days it takes for the liquor to become clear. The wine is ready in time for Korea’s biggest holiday, Lunar New Year’s Day. Holiday get-togethers often involve some drinking, and the taste of homemade wine is often a highlight. The introduction of a liquor tax in the early 20th century forbade homebrewing, and accordingly, homemade wine disappeared for a while. However, wine brewed at home is becoming more popular. The Seoul City Intangible Cultural Treasure Exhibition Hall (+82 2 747 0303) is hosting an exhibition about samhaeju in February. The hall is at the edge of Bukchon Hanok Village near Anguk Station on Subway Line 2. Two of 25 master brewers showcase their work. The samhaeju master brewer is Gwon Hui-ja. Gwon married a descendent of a son-in-law of the king. In Korean society, the princess used to accompany her maid-servants when she married outside of royalty and lived with her in-laws. Her maid-servants often handed down royal court recipes, which is how Gwon’s family began to make samhaeju at home. Gwon inherited the recipe from her mother-in-law.

Samhaeju—the wine of Seoul

The Seoul City Intangible Cultural Treasure Exhibition Hall displays a variety of seasonal wines made with samhaeju. ‘Seasonal wine’ refers to the wines designed to be consumed on special days such as seallal. Koreans used to drink green pepper drink on Dano (May 5 in the lunar calendar), sindoju made with new crop rice on Chuseok (August 15 in the lunar calendar) and chrysanthemum wine on Junggu (September 9 in the lunar calendar). These seasonal wines are supposed to be drunk in special ways and carry symbolic meanings. February 22-28, 2009


WINE TASTING: Baesangmyun Brewery’s Sansawon Gallery in Yangjae-dong.

The seasonal wines Gwon showcases at the event include dosoju (literally ‘evil spirit-expelling wine’), guibalgi wine (literally sharp-ear wine), and chobaekju (Japanese pepper and oriental arborvitae wine). Supposed to have the power to drive away evil spirits, chobaekju is consumed with seven peppercorns and seven pine needles picked from a twig that stretches out to the east. Dosoju, which is said to prevent diseases, is a herb wine that Koreans drink on New Year’s Day after performing ancestral rites. In Korea, seniority is extremely important and observed rigidly as an important part of table manners. When it comes to dosoju, the youngest, male or female, is the first to drink and the oldest the last. Gwibalgi wine is associated with Daeboreum (January 15 in the lunar calendar). Those who drink it early in the morning are supposed to hear good news and keep free from ear diseases. In this respect, Koreans drink wine not just for flavour or taste but for superstitious reasons as it is believed to bring good luck and thwart diseases.

Wine-brewing event

In May, Namsangol Hanok Village hosts the ‘5,000 Years of Taste and Flavour’ festival, which includes Korean traditional winemaking and tasting. The Korean Traditional Wine Institute (+82 2 389 8611), which sponsors the event, has offered visitors the opportunity to experience Korean traditional wine-making. Korean traditional wine brewing consists largely of two parts: rice malt making and brewing with steamed rice. Malt is an essential ingredient of Korean traditional wine. It is made with crushed wheat, which is then placed in a wooden box to be treaded. Malt treading with feet is an exciting experience for foreigners as they often say it is as unique as the taste of Korean traditional wine. The rice is steamed in an earthenware steamer to make a batter called godu-

February 22-28, 2009

bab. When the godubab is cooled, it is mixed with malt and treaded for a while to make it as glutinous as possible—the more glutinous the godubab and malt batter the better the wine is. The Korean Traditional Wine Institute offers a three-hour wine brewing class for a group of five or more for 60,000 won (US$41) per person. Reservations are required. The fly in the ointment is that participants cannot taste the wine they make that day. They have to wait for at least a week for the wine to ferment. They can take their wine home or pick it up later. The Bukchon Culture Centre run by Seoul City also offers a wine-making class led by Nam Seon-Hui (+82 10 4767 6411), who has been teaching that class for seven years. Located at the entrance to Bukchon Hanok Village, the center offers two classes a day from 10am to 12nn and 2pm to 4pm in the afternoon on Wednesdays and Thursdays from March. Those who do not participate in the class can watch and, if they are lucky, taste the wine that is made. The centre also offers a customised wine-making lesson for foreigners on reservation only.

Makgeoli and Insa-dong Makgeoli

The Makgeoli festival is held every year in Insa-dong under the sponsorship of the Seoul Rice Wine Manufac-

turing Association, a company founded by makgeoli manufacturing companies in Seoul by merging them into one. Makgeoli, meaning roughly filtered wine, is also called takju, meaning cloudy wine, because it is opaque. Makgeoli was once the most popular alcoholic beverage in Korea— it accounted for 70 per cent of alcohol consumption in the 1970s. With the urbanisation and Westernisation, however, its consumption has fallen to 3-4 per cent now and beer has taken over its place. Makgeoli is also referred to as nongju (literally meaning farm liquor in Korean) as it is popular with farmers. It usually has an alcohol content of around 6 percent, which means that one bowl is enough to have an effect. Farmers drink makgeoli when they take a break because they say it helps them work without feeling tired. In a big city such as Seoul, makgeoli is no longer consumed for that purpose. One of the places where makgeoli is sold most in Seoul is the entrance to a mountain trail. Some people climb the mountain with a bottle of makgeoli in their backpacks to drink at the summit, while others enjoy it served with tofu when they climb down. They say there is nothing like makgeoli to satiate hunger and thirst. According to them the best way to appreciate makgeoli is to first climb a mountain. The makgeoli that has the largest market share in Korea is Jangsu makgeoli manufactured by the Seoul Rice Wine Manufacturing Association. If you are interested in learning how makgeoli is made, call the Dobong Brewery (+82 2 999 8184) of the Seoul Rice Wine Manufacturing Association. | 29 |


T H E STAR P H OTOS

Explore

LEGENDARY: Imperial animal motifs on Xu Guo’s memorial arch and its unique eight-pillar construction are testament to his lofty standing at the Ming court.

Hamlet Of The Ox

Life-giving water flows through the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hongcun, which looks like a black-and-white Chinese ink-wash painting | 30 |

February 22-28, 2009


HONGCUN

Ziying’s Brush The Star

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early a decade ago, a Chinese wuxia (martial arts) movie directed by Taiwan’s Ang Lee took the world by storm. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wohu Canglong) so captured the imagination of audiences and movie-makers in the West that Hollywood awarded it the Oscar for Best Foreign Film at the 2000 Academy Awards. One of the most memorable moments of the movie was the fleeting night sequence where actress Zhang Ziyi, playing a Qing dynasty official’s daughter, nimbly skips over the surface of a pond bordered by enigmatic houses with discoloured whitewash walls and dark roofs. The setting looked so much like a Chinese ink-wash painting that one could easily be forgiven for thinking it was shot on a movie set. But no, the World Heritage site of Hongcun, where some of the movie’s scenes were filmed, is exactly like that and even more picturesque when a soft shower ripples the tranquil lotus pond at the south gate. From Huangshan, the drive to Hongcun takes just 50 minutes through lovely green hills with groves of fern-like bamboo, carefully tended fields and patches of chrysanthemum with small, pale yellow flowers. Hongcun is supposedly shaped like a water buffalo or an ox at rest and while much of what our guide said about a pair of trees representing the horns passed me by, it is evident the moment you set foot into the hamlet that the fengshui must be good. After all, it is backed by misty hills to the north and looks out over a body of water to the south. At the heart of the settlement is a small reservoir known as Moon Pond, surrounded by white-walled houses with dark grey roofs typical of the vernacular ‘Huizhou’ architecture of the region. And this, according to our guide, is where that famous scene of Zhang Ziyi’s character fleeing over water was filmed. It is said that the Moon Pond’s shape represents the belly of the ox, while the February 22-28, 2009

channels carrying water along the sides of the houses are the ox’s intestines. All this water flowing through the community naturally brings prosperity and good fortune which perhaps explains why, even now, 900 years after its founding, Hongcun remains a thriving community. To top it off, the same year (2000) that Ang Lee’s movie won the much coveted Oscar, Hongcun was added to Unesco’s list of World Cultural Heritage sites. Some 140 old residences and clan halls dating back to the Ming and Qing periods form the backbone of the hamlet’s heritage status. Chief among these are the houses of salt merchants whose wealth paid for elaborate carvings on the sturdy wood beams and columns of the interiors. Judging by its sprawling parking lot, I should have guessed what to expect at Hongcun. All too soon, the tranquillity of the village was broken by hordes of tourists and g u i d e s w i t h m i c r ophones turned to the maximum. There were so many people that it was impossible to cram

into the merchants’ homes or hear above the din. When it began to pour shortly after our lunch at a quiet farmhouse surrounded by vegetable plots, we decided to cut short our visit. Battling through an army of umbrellas in the narrow lanes, we made our way across the lotus pond’s slippery stone bridge and fled the over popular heritage site.

A short distance away is Shexian, soul of the Huizhou region and best known for its memorial stone archways erected to honour individuals for virtues such as loyalty, filial piety, charity and even chastity. I remember Tangyue village’s seven arches which I visited 10 years ago. Raised between the 15th and 19th centuries to honour members of the Bao family, two of them were dedicated to virtuous widows. According to our guide, Huizhou widows of old were expected to fast for nine days in mourning for their husbands, a practice which often led to their death. But those who survived and remained chaste for 30 years qualified for a memorial arch.

It seems Shexian used to have over a thousand memorial archways but most were destroyed in the Cultural Revolution, leaving only about 80 today. Arguably the most elaborate of these is the one constructed in 1584 for Xu Guo; tutor to princes and prime minister under three Ming emperors, he also served in the Board of Rites. With two pillars on each of its four sides, Xu Guo’s looming extravagant archway is covered with calligraphic inscriptions as well as a multitude of carved animals normally associated with the imperial court, namely dragons, phoenixes, cranes and deer. As if that wasn’t enough, 12 stone lions guard its pillars. The structure may lack grace and beauty but there can be no mistaking its message—Xu Guo was the most exalted official of the Ming Empire. | 31 |


Explore

Recharge In Luxury, Naturally Bai Tram Bay has it all—mountains, ocean, breakfast at 3pm Bai Tram Bay

My Duyen Viet Nam News

VI ET NAM N EWS PHOTOS

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eaving the airport near the city of Qui Nhon, we embarked by car on National Highway 1A and went southward to Bai Tram Bay in Phu Yen Province, a central coastal area famed for its seductively sandy beaches. It was early morning and the road was all but deserted. The surrounding countryside was a sparkling, lush green and we could feel the freshness of the ocean air. Before reaching Cu Mong Lagoon in Xuan Tho fishing village near the bay, we decided to stop at a small roadside restaurant to stifle our hunger pains. The dishes—green bean and pork porridge, boiled liver and organ meats served with banh hoi (rice noodle), | 32 |

herbs and sweet and sour fish sauce— were tasty treats that no traveller should miss. We continued our journey on the 5km road leading to Bai Tram Bay in Xuan Canh Commune about 30km from Quy Nhon. Though the road was steep and winding, it offered a glimpse of the area’s natural beauty and local traditions. The surrounding landscape of the village market, rice fields and shrimp and green mussel farms all created a vivid picture of the area’s rural lifestyle. Here, tourists can sleep overnight in a simple homestay or relax at Bai Tram Hideaway’s luxury villas, a newly opened five-star resort. From Bai Tram Bay, the entire area below the Cu Mong Pass, which is a gateway to the central coastal region, can be explored. Overlooking the ocean, the resort Bai Tram Hideaway is nestled inside a 900m crescent-shaped beach sur-

rounded by verdant mountains. The resort’s entrance offers guests a splendid view of the entire area, including sandy beaches and green fields. Developed and managed by the Amsterdam-based La Perla International Living, the resort consists of 200 villas designed in a Vietnamese style, spread over 90ha of land with a secluded beachfront, giving the place a true hideaway sensation. “All of the villas were designed to ensure that visitors enjoy the ultimate beachfront lifestyle in a tropical ambience, where the daily stress of modern living can be forgotten,” Khanh Van, marketing manager of La Perla

VNS P hotos Hong Vo

February 22-28, 2009


the interior is equipped with modern facilities to ensure the best comfort,” Van says. Stephen Post, La Perla International Living’s hospitality director, says the concept of Bai Tram gives guests the opportunity “to recharge their batteries in a short time with a long-lasting effect”. The main building of the resort, which overlooks the ocean, has a lounge, restaurant, bar and swimming pool. Entering the building, guests walk down a small path that crosses a rice field and fruit and herb garden, which are taken cared of by locals and farmers who work as resort staff. The organically grown rice, vegetables and herbs provide the resort’s kitchen with a wealth of fresh food for use in local and international dishes. “What you eat in Bai Tram is healthy and of high quality. We use these ingredients in our cooking classes,” Stephen says. Sascha Spiegel, the resort’s acting NATURAL REFUGE: Surrounded general manager, says guests, espeby mountains on one side and a cially children, can learn more about white, sandy beach on the other, Bai Tram Hideaway is a truly rural life by working in the fields and secluded vacation spot. garden or taking part in the cooking classes held in a cottage on a rice field. Bai Tram is famous for lobster fishing, and freshly caught grilled lobster is a specialty of the restaurant, International Living (Viet Nam), said. Sascha says. “We focused on building an environMeal times at the resort are flexible, mentally friendly resort so the villas unlike many other hotels. were built with a coconut-leaf roof and “We have a no time limit policy,” clay walls, keeping it natural, though says Stephen. “That means if you want to have breakfast at 3pm, it’s not a problem. Guests can choose their favourite location to enjoy a meal. It can be near the mountain, on the beach, on the rice field, or in the villa, the restaurant or beside the lap pool.” Taking advantage of all the resort has to offer, we warmed up in the early morning by swimming in our SEAFOOD GALORE: A restaurant villa’s private pool on stilts in a fishing village near while other guests Bai Tram Hideaway serves fresh took to the beach seafood and local rice wine. after climbing up the February 22-28, 2009

hill to watch the sun rise. Exploring the bay’s surroundings is an alternative for those who are more physically active. In the late morning, we chose to walk while other guests rode motorbikes. The trekking offered us interesting insights into the local culture. By late afternoon, we departed by boat from the beach to view the sea, rocks and shrimp farms around the Cu Mong Lagoon. We were astonished to see how blue and clean the deep sea was and were excited to spot a few local residents netting fish from the ocean. Although some of the resort staff were with us, we were still a little frightened as it was the first time that some of us had been offshore in a boat. In the late afternoon, guests can opt to go fishing in the lagoon while watching the sun set behind the mountains. The resort’s kitchen staff is available for most of the day and evening to prepare dishes made with freshly caught fish. Before having dinner, our group visited a small fishing village in Xuan Binh Commune, about a 20-minute drive from Bai Tram, an area famous for its seafood, particularly snails and crabs. Surprisingly, there were no tables at the floating restaurants in the village, so we all sat down on a floor mat. It was the freshiest seafood that I had ever had, two-thirds the price of similar dishes in HCM City. After a hard, long day of touring and trekking, we opted for a facial and foot treatment late at night. The spa and massage treatments at the resort were a stimulating but soothing end for our weary city souls.

How to get there

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eaving Phu Cat Airport in the central coastal city of Qui Nhon, about 700km from HCM City, take National Highway 1A southward to Bai Tram Bay in Song Cau District, Phu Yen Province. If you are staying at Bai Tram Hideaway, the resort will pre-arrange your transport by car. For details, please call Bai Tram Hideaway Resort at Tel: 84 57 372 2561 or visit its website at: www.bai-tram.com.

| 33 |


P H OTO COU RT E SY OF BE C T ERO ENT ERTAINMENT

DATE BOOK BANGKOK

Chicago

C

hicago the musical dances into Thailand’s capital in performances filled with broadway music, dance and stories of lust, love and murder. Killer tunes like All That

Jazz, Funny Honey and When You’re Good To Mama spice up the musical based on the 1924 murder trials in Chicago, Illinois. It’s not too late to catch up with Roxy, Velma and the rest of the girls in the murderer’s row. When: Until February 22, 7:30pm

daily, with 2pm matinees on Saturday and Sunday Where: Muangthai Rachadalai Theatre Tickets: 1,000 baht ((US$28) to 4,000 baht ($113) Info: ChicagotheMusical.com Thaiticketmajor.com

RISHIKESH

International Yoga Festival

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he International Yoga Festival at the Parmath Niketan Ashram always attracts great yogic masters from all over the world, who arrive by the banks of the Ganges in India to demonstrate and explore the major traditions of yoga (hatha, raja, karma, bhakti, mantra, laya and jnana). The ‘yoga capital of the world’ boasts of numerous yoga schools which offer classes from world-class yoga teachers. The festival explores the eight limbs of yoga and how they apply to our lives whether we consider ourselves yoga students or not. When: March 1 - 7 Where: Parmath Niketan Ashram ILOILO CITY

Paraw Regatta

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his is an annual sailboat race in the strait between Guimaras Island and Iloilo City. The beaches and shorelines that line the strait are crowded with people who want to witness the longest running sailboat race in the Philippines, which covers 36.5km. When: March 1

BA L I

Galungan

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alungan, Bali’s major festival, celebrates the triumph of virtue (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). All the Balinese gods are thought to descend to earth for the festivities, which centre on the mysterious Barong dance. Barong dancers wear a large puppet head resembling a shaggy lion of sorts, rep-

resenting goodness itself. Galungan culminates with Kuningan, the last and most important day of the festival, when beautifully-made offerings are given at temples to bid farewell to celestial spirits and ancestors for another year. When: March 18 to 28


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THE NATION ASIANEWS February 22-28, 2009  

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