WIN A PEREGRINE ADVENTURE THROUGH MYANMAR
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25JOURNEYS BEST BOAT
24-hour party people
Vanuatu served raw
AFTER THE WALL
Berlin’s street art
SADDLING UP IN SALTA
Vino and virility in Argentina
TOP 10: Bizarre New Year’s Eve celebrations COOL CALIFORNIA: Hit the slopes in the US A TASTE OF PERU: More on the menu than guinea pigs
BORNEO | IRELAND | INDIA | GERMANY | BURMA | LAOS
25 OF THE WORLD’S BEST BOAT JOURNEYS
Get cruising in ways you’ve never imagined.
BORNEO Feel the rumble in the jungle at the Rainforest World Music Festival.
Tango or Gaucho? You decide.
Discover the Land of a Million Elephants.
Get acquainted with the ‘real’ Vanuatu. Clothes are optional.
Shiva worship in pictures.
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The secrets of a tropical isle.
Experience the artistic street culture of Berlin.
The mighty Mekong River delivers a river-boat journey unlike any other.
Captain your own boat along the River Shannon.
get in the know The world’s largest cruise ship can accommodate 6,400 people. Cosy.
t Guides, 16 e n la P ly e n Lo camera, 17 Canon D20 trip, 127 Myanmar s, 114 Tamron len
CHECK IN 16 18 22
Your Letters & Photos Send in and win News, Views & Events The globe uncovered Places to Stay The weird and wonderful
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Top Trips The best breaks Top 10 Bizarre NYE party ideas Retro Travel Travel from yesteryear in the Solomon Islands
You Wish Go green with envy in Lapland Get Packing Hit the slopes in California with an instant itinerary After Dark Vegas the high-voltage party town
The hungry traveller in Peru
Hit the road with Jack Kerouac
122 RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL
Expert photo tips
Mind your footprint
116 TRAVEL JOB
Magician Liam Power shares some tricks of the trade
Gadgets and other goodies
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iTravel therefore iAm: Helen Razor on globetrotting gadgets
The world’s best bars
get in the know Las Vegas’ first neon sign was installed in 1929 at the Oasis Café.
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(Solar) Storm Photographer Babak Tafreshi travels to far-northern Sweden for a front row-seat to one of nature’s most incredible spectacles.
vEry yEar bEtwEEn SEptEmbEr and april, nature unleashes a technicolour sky show that literally lights up the heavens. The aurora borealis, or northern lights, appear when electrons from the sun collide with particles in the atmosphere. The electrons stream towards Earth along a magnetic field, lighting up the sky over the Arctic Circle in a kaleidoscope of luminous, almost fluorescent, colours. The northern lights are considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world and have long fascinated scientists, skygazers and photographers alike. Among them is German based photographer Babak Tafreshi, who this season waited patiently in the wings for an erupting sunspot that would signal curtains-up on a spectacular aurora event. When it arrived, he flew to Stockholm and #30 get lost ISSUE #34
travelled on to Lapland – an area in the far north, nestled at the foot of Sweden’s arctic mountains and populated by the indigenous Sami people. At 68 degrees north, with a car-load of photographic gear, Tafreshi and a colleague waited for the perfect solar storm. Next year marks the solar activity peak of the decade and Tafreshi had high expectations. He was not disappointed. “The first two nights we were dealing with bad weather and a ‘quiet’ sky,” he says. “Then the anticipated stream of solar particles (solar wind) approached the Earth, a big storm was on the way. “It was still bright twilight when I noticed some strange moving clouds in the crystal clear sky, a scene hard to believe. Aurora was already dominating the sky. As darkness arrived the real show began – the dancing spirits all across the sky.”
get in the know Kiruna, in Swedish Lapland, will be the site of Europe’s first spaceport, with Virgin Galactic keen to launch tourists into space as soon as 2014.
get in the know In traditional Sami (Lapland native) attire, if the buttons on your belt are square, it means you are married, while round buttons are worn by singles.
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Justin Jamieson loses himself in the illusion of sin city Photography by Justin Jamieson
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get in the know The ghost of Elvis has been seen lurking back-stage in the showroom of the Las Vegas Hilton where he performed.
Is this Las Vegas or New York? All part of the illusion
get in the know The Strip is not in Las Vegas, but rather on unincorporated land governed by Clark County.
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Popping a wheely in your excavator at Dig It Up
here’s a billboard ouTside our hotel that reads ‘be Who You Wouldn’t be at home’, with a supporting image of a wide-eyed thirty-something male grinning madly and clutching a two-metre long tube of margarita. i’ve been that guy. This is not my first time to lost Wages. i’ve sat at one of the 200,000 slot machines, gorging on chicken wings as time disappeared with my money. i’ve had burgers and beer for breakfast and barely seen the sun, and what happened that time in Vegas will certainly stay there. This time, with my wife in tow, things will be different.
10.00am It isn’t dark yet, but Vegas is a 24-hour party town – the average stay here is three days – and there’s too much fun to be had to limit it to the evening. After a 20-hour flight, an adrenaline injection is required, so we head to Dig It Up to drive some excavators. Yes, drive some excavators. One 30-minute briefing session later, we climb into two 50-ton hydraulic excavators and glare competitively at each other across the football-field sized sandpit we’re about to play in. Having seen my wife reverse park I am quietly confident. For the next hour we dig huge holes, build a pyramid with tyres the size of a small car, race each other across the lot and play excavator basketball. I struggle to change a light bulb at home but after an hour at Dig It Up I feel like building a casino. And then I notice my wife’s pyramid is twice the size of mine. dig This 3012 south rancho drive www.digthisvegas.com #36 get lost ISSUE #34
11.30am I’ve never fired a gun. I’ve never really even wanted to. I’ve heard friends brag of firing rocket-launchers at cows in Cambodia and I’ve never seen any joy in that. After an hour shooting an actual Uzi at a 3-D Zombie, however, I’m feeling the buzz (though cows are still safe). Guns and Ammo is doing a roaring trade in Vegas, with a 12-lane range and weapons including shotguns, AK-47s and a Glock 9mm. Suddenly I’m Clint Eastwood lining up another dirtbag. I can feel the recoil in my kidneys as the adrenaline pumps through me. Guns and ammo Garage 5155 south dean Martin drive www.gunsandammogarage.com
‘Every City Has a Soul’ is the new slogan for Downtown Las Vegas. Only 10 minutes north of The Strip, Downtown Vegas is where it all began. Fremont Street is the epicentre, with an outdoor museum featuring the original Las Vegas neon signs. The bars and restaurants of Downtown have eschewed their garish Strip neighbours and the revitalised area now focuses on more intimate experiences. Mob Bar, a 1920s-style speakeasy with potent cocktails, is a great lunch spot, and if you end up staying until evening they set up deckchairs on the road and project movies onto the adjacent wall. Tonight The Hangover is playing. It’s a sign. Mob bar 201 North 3rd street (on 3rd between ogden & stewart)
1.30pm The seal is broken and the drinking has begun. Downtown’s bar scene is very cool in a retro kitsch way. The Parlour Bar in the El Cortez Hotel Casino is worth a visit just to walk through the old-style casino. Like the decor, the clientele seem as though they’re out of a 1960s Elvis movie. A cowboy in a 10-gallon hat and tasseled boots plays the pokies and sips a Bud. We walk past him and into the leather-couched Parlour Bar, where I half expect to see Sinatra sipping a vodka martini. el Cortez Casino 600 Fremont street
Shooting some marauding Zombies Vegas style.
get in the know There are 15,000 miles of neon tubing on the strip and downtown.
Sage Bar’s beer maestro.
in Aria Resort and Casino, one of the newer slicker casinos in Las Vegas. The bartender recommends I take the global beer tour, which involves a Dopplebock from Germany and a Trappist Ale from Belgium with a few chocolatey stouts in between. The long, dark bar and restaurant decor somehow make drinking eight beers in an hour a cool experience. sage restaurant 3730 south las Vegas boulevard
7.30pm The Mob Bar in Downtown Vegas. Drinks with soul.
2.15pm Back on Fremont Street the neon lights burn bright even in daylight. Above, screaming thrill-seekers ride a flying fox running the length of the street. In a dark bar called Insert Coins, a wall of 1970s, 80s and 90s arcade games has me checking my pocket for coins. Grabbing a booth, we’re given a choice of almost every video game console ever invented, with a selection of games. I go with a Super Nintendo and a Sega Megadrive and a pint of Brooklyn Bitter. Suddenly I’m 14 again, until I’m dragged away sulking after my wife beats me at NBA Jam. insert Coins 512 Fremont street 1980s or 90s... Choose your weapon!
4.00pm Show time. Elton John is playing this weekend, Celine Dion is raking in millions from a residency at Caesar’s Palace, Guns N’ Roses are soon to play at the Hard Rock and there are at least six different Cirque du Soleil shows being promoted, but Downtown has put us in a retro mood so we hit the Flamingo, one of the original Strip hotels, and catch the Nathan Burton Comedy Magic show. This is the essence of America. The land of opportunity, where a street magician can get a break on a show like America’s Got Talent and the next year have his own residency in Vegas. I suggest to my wife that she should disappear so I can gamble. She suggests I let Nathan do the comedy. The Main showroom Flamingo hotel 3555 south las Vegas boulevard
6.00pm It is Happy Hour on the Strip (it has been since 11am) but we decline the cheap beer and three-litre margaritas and instead head upscale to Sage Restaurant
The show goes on, this time in the shape of KA, one of the more recent Cirque du Soleil productions and an extraordinary display of death-defying talent, performed on a stage that rotates vertically and horizontally to the beat of a thumping soundtrack. There are other themed Cirque shows, with The Beatles, Elvis and even illusionist Criss Angel carrying the Cirque moniker. For something very different, check out Zumanity, a sort of pornographic Cirque led by a Frank N Furter type transvestite. Just don’t sit in the front row. Trust me. – Ka by Cirque du soleil MGM Grand 3799 south las Vegas boulevard – Zumanity by Cirque du soleil New York-New York hotel and Casino 3790 south las Vegas boulevard
10.00pm Vegas has an eating option for everyone. We find ourselves at the Michelin-starred Michael Mina’s in the Bellagio, which instantly transports us far from this neon desert. After chilled shots of Grey Goose vodka to cleanse the palate, followed by a lobster pot pie, all of a sudden I am Bugsy Seigel, the founder of Vegas, ordering another bottle of red for my dame. Michael Mina at bellagio 3600 south las Vegas boulevard
get in the know On any random night, there is an estimated 30–60 million dollars in the larger casino vaults. On holiday weekends, those estimates double.
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A full moon creates a dramatic backdrop to a statue of independence hero General Guemes in Salta.
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get in the know The laws of Salta Province specify siesta time from 1â€“5pm each day.
On a countrywide quest to find the source of the Argentinean machismo myth, Nathan Dyer discovers a whole new side of himself Photography by Nathan Dyer
get in the know Argentinean independence was declared in the north-west city of Tucumรกn in 1816.
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Leaving the loving alms of Luang Prabang to find folly in Vientiane, Big Sister Mouse Kerry van der Jagt immerses herself in the generosity of Laos. Photography by Kerry van der Jagt
hat about the soul?” inquires my young student. Pleased to finally be establishing some rapport with my new lao pupil, I explain that the soul is our core consciousness, the immortal part that never dies, the essence of a person. he is as silent as a wooden buddha – clearly stunned with my wisdom on such existential matters. Encouraged, I press on, explaining the meaning of phrases like soul mates, soul food and good for the soul. I may have even quoted spiritualist Deepak Chopra. When I pause to catch my breath, he leans forward, points to his dusty foot and whispers, “Miss Kerry, I meant, how do you pronounce the word sole?” I’m at Big Brother Mouse in Luang Prabang, a grassroots literacy program operating on the outskirts of town. I’ve always been keen on volunteer tourism, but I’m hopeless at building things (my teaching skills aren’t much better, apparently) and I don’t have six months to dedicate to one cause. Big Brother Mouse offers an alternative: a daily drop-in
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centre where visitors can volunteer for two hours in the morning or evening to help young adults practise English. This is my second visit to Laos in two months. Luang Prabang is the kind of dusty, dirt-track Asia I love best. On my previous trip, I started with just one English student, shy and earnest Noi. On the second day he brought his mate Kye, and by the end of the week I had a gang of four. Each morning these young men would sit and wait for me at the end of my street, hoping I would keep my promise of, “same same, tomorrow”. As I rounded the bend their faces would light up like four beaming sunflowers. On my final day they gave me a bag of fresh mangoes as a gift and showed me around town – me on Noi’s bike, and two of the students doubling on another. We rode past golden temples framed by scarlet bougainvilleas, white-washed French colonial buildings with brightly-painted shutters, and traditional two-storey Lao homes. Afterwards, we climbed the 355 steps to the top of Phousi Hill, where we slurped on mangoes and watched the sun surrender to the night. get in the know UNESCO hailed Luang Prabang as ‘the best-preserved city in Asia’.
Laos is famous for its textiles, weaving and silk products.
get in the know The land of One Million Elephants now has less than 1,000.
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the pursuit of
happiness Flash Parker finds inspiration, hope and monks who stare at goldfish in Myanmar (Burma). Photography by Flash Parker
An Intha Fisherman shows off his one-legged rowing technique on Inle Lake.
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get in the know In 1989, the military government changed Burmaâ€™s name to Myanmar.
get in the know Myanmar is the worldâ€™s second-largest producer of opium, after Afghanistan.
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When the Berlin Wall toppled, creative expression rapidly flowered amid the rubble of the former ‘death strip’ – two decades on, David Whitley explores how arcane street art has continued to evade the law and spread its vines across the walls and into the darkest corners of Germany’s gritty capital city. Photography by David Whitley #60 get lost ISSUE #34
get in the know Every Picture Tells a Lie, a mural painted in 2003 by British street artist Banksy, was ‘rediscovered’ eight years after it was covered over.
Mural by James Cochran, AKA Jimmy C, in Hackesche Höfe.
get in the know Every Sunday Berlin’s Mauerpark amphitheatre turns into an open-air singalong venue called ‘Bearpit karaoke’.
WArning glAnce is shot our way. three spray can heroes are marking their territory on a wall and they don’t want us to come any nearer. they don’t look quite as i expected. the blue skivvies and nerd glasses make them appear less cuttingedge artist and more like a couple of the Wiggles cameoing on Saved By The Bell. According to Robin, our guide, this is a semi-legal painting wall. “Well, no-one knows if it’s legal or not,” he admits. There are some walls in Berlin that are deliberately set aside for street art, but far more get appropriated without permission. If you can walk a block in the German capital without seeing tags, throw-ups, stencils or murals, then you’ve probably got your eyes closed. Robin is something of a street art and graffiti historian. He’s keen to point out that, although both have their roots in New York, they are two distinct movements. Street art has the viewing public in mind, but graffiti is insular – it’s about impressing other graffiti crews and getting your name seen by as many people as possible. That doesn’t mean to say that techniques don’t evolve, however. Robin encourages us to look up – the graffiti crews often pride themselves on getting their tags in the ‘heaven spot’ just below a building’s roof. It gets the name because if the person dangling you down by the legs while you spray lets go, heaven is where you’ll end up. He seems as impressed by some of the tags made with Super Soakers or fire extinguishers as he does with the more obviously appealing street art murals. Of the ISSUE #34 get lost #61
A ceremonial tam-tam at the Small Nambas community in the village of Vao, Malekula.
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get in the know Malekula has the dubious honour of being the site of Vanuatuâ€™s last known act of cannibalism in 1969.
Catherine Best bypasses the tourists in Vanuatu and finds herself swept up in the ancient rituals of an island hideaway. Photography by Catherine Best
’VE NEVER BEEN ONE FOR PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF NUDITY, but the ancient customs of Vanuatu have me entranced and I’m fighting a compulsion to tear my clothes off, surrender my inhibitions to the island breeze and dance like it’s raining yams. All around me, villagers stomp, sway and chant to the beat of the tam-tam in a hypnotising riot of colour, movement and sound. Palm leaves secured into penis sheaths jiggle up and down in tempo with bouncing bare breasts, naked toddlers clutch at pandanus ribbons fraying from their mothers’ skirts, and ghoulish clay faces leer out underneath plumes of rooster feathers. It’s a dizzying swirl of human flesh and foliage, steeped in centuries of tradition. These are the Small Nambas, a people unique to the remote island of Malekula, who are keeping alive the custom dances and ceremonies passed down by their ancestors. I have come to Malekula searching for the real Vanuatu. I’ve seen countless brochures of airbrushed newlyweds on golden beaches, and luxurious hotels transplanted onto lagoon fringes, like barnacles on steroids, but I’m yearning for a more authentic experience. Malekula is a 50-minute flight from Port Vila, but light-years away from the commercialism of Vanuatu’s bustling capital. I touch down
get in the know Local legend has it the name Malekula was coined by Captain James Cook from the French term ‘mal au cul’, meaning ‘pain in the arse’.
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RIVER cRuIsEs See the world from a different vantage point and explore areas inaccessible by foot or by road on one of the worldâ€™s great river journeys.
Kirk Owers hops on a cruise boat to explore the Mekong River, the lifeblood of Cambodia and Southern Vietnam, and absorbs a history lesson by osmosis as he drifts along the mighty waterway. Photography by Kirk Owers
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get in the know The Mekong is second only to the Amazon for fish biodiversity and is home to one of the worldâ€™s last remaining freshwater dolphins, the Irrawaddy dolphin.
The mighty Mekong swells with monsoonal rain as it winds its way from Cambodia into Vietnam.
get in the know Vietnam is the worldâ€™s second biggest exporter of rice (after Thailand); over half of Vietnamâ€™s rice comes from the Mekong Delta.
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A 17-day Peregrine adventure for two through wonderful Myanmar flying business class on Vietnam Airlines.
Travelling by road, by air and on water, you will see firsthand why Myanmar (also known as Burma) is a fabled land. Discover ancient temples, explore winding rivers, enjoy lovely hospitality and unwind on deserted beaches. This fantastic trip for two is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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