Asia Pacific Edition Jul/Aug 2011
for A green soul Slow Food movement in Thailand
Green Jordan youâ€™vE nEvEr sEEn
UnTamed beaUTy of
NEW ZEalanD Plus
Top 10 Green experiences, From taSting organic wineS in Portugal to ShoPPing For green FaShion in PariS
AT sherATon krAbi
B e a c h
r e S o r t
L I F E S T Y L E + T R AV E L
J U LY – A U G 2 0 1 1
THe BUZZ 36 “SPeAKS” FroM THe HeArT
What’s hot? Find upcoming events not to be missed, special deals and promotions, and other in-the-buzz lifestyle and travel tidbits.
The talented Almeta Speaks is a musical optimist and artist who sees the inner beauty of the world around her.
38 JAZZ iT UP, Borneo If Malaysia were a big kitchen, its music scene would be a bubbling pot of thick stew made of ingredients from all over the world, spiced up with a bit of jazz. 40 SeoUL ArT For A green SoUL Korean artists express their love of nature and concern for the environment through art. 44 SLoW on THe go The Slow Food movement in Thailand is now in motion. 48 roMAnTiC geTAWAY WiTH Mr & MrS SMiTH Check out unique boutique hotels in Asia.
THe WeLLneSS 66 FooD FroM AFAr:
FooD For eVerYone Food guru Nateampai Sarakosass shares some of her special dishes. She does her bit for simple local produce, but nothing is lost in terms of taste.
70 CoMe Dine WiTH Me: THe AnnA reSTAUrAnT & ArT gALLerY What do Anna Café, Anna & Charlie’s Café and the Anna Restaurant have in common? They are the same man’s story. nAHM BAngKoK Rediscovering forgotten favourites at chef David Thomson’s brand new Nahm Bangkok.
74 CoMe Zen WiTH Me Learn how to get fit and green at the same time.
The Journey 78 WILD JorDan
Take a green journey through the desert kingdom of Jordan.
88 a Green ParaDISe Borneo Island boasts plenty of open spaces to enjoy and rugged national parks and UNESCO World Heritage-listed wilderness sites worthy of a visit.
94 FLaWLeSS BeauTy New Zealand has a rich natural environment, which is protected in ways that range from vast national parks to the everyday actions of individual people.
108 ToP 10 “Green” MuST-VISITS arounD The WorLD Check out 10 of the best places around the world where you can travel responsibly.
CoMe SLeeP WITh Me 118 a TroPICaL GeM Tusita Resort & Spa offers plenty of pampering for your next diving trip. 120 IDyLLIC ParaDISe Sri Panwa boasts breathtaking panoramic ocean views of Phuket, whilst the impeccable service is second to none. 122 DoWnToWn LuXury Grand Ambassador Seoul is the optimal choice for visitors with any purpose in mind, be it business, shopping or leisure. 123 LeISure STay Grand Lapa Macau is a hidden resort-style hotel where location meets convenience and luxury. 124 The “X” FaCTor The luxury boutique X2 Rayong resort offers unobstructed sea views and a peaceful escape from the stress of modern life. 125 STyLIShLy MoDern The Kee Resort in Phuket offers an oasis of relaxation for peaceful travellers and party animals alike.
FInaL DeSTInaTIon: MaLDIVeS Explore Maldives, famed for stunning natural beauty, beautiful beaches, teeming coral reefs and lush plant and animal life.
GoinG Green... and I mean green
reen is perhaps the most overused colour in nature and now that it’s gone mainstream, it seems like everyone is “going green.” Sometimes I find the word “green” rather cliché. Is “going green” or “eco” just another marketing ploy, or is it a genuine, environment-changing lifestyle? Going green isn’t simply a marketing gimmick or merely the latest trend. It’s about more than just another charity run (for what?) on Earth Day, or stocking up on green products, or driving a posh eco-friendly car, or sporting solar panels on the rooftop. It’s about buying less, using less and thinking more. It’s about looking around and fully appreciating our world, and being grateful for what we already have rather than being unhappy about what we don’t. It’s about living a selfsufficient lifestyle and learning to be compassionate towards others. It’s about thinking, feeling and acting responsibly to ensure real sustainability over the long term. To make it short, it’s time to stop being selfish and cultivate a “green mind.” In the Going Green issue, we introduce you to a new dimension in the sustainable lifestyle. Being green is about being responsible, enjoying slow food, caring for others, living on less, savouring the change of seasons, recognising the value of the little things all around us. Of course, it reflects sustainability concepts like efficiency, organics, waste management and buying local. But, at its heart, it’s more about a mindset of wholeness and appreciation for natural resources, communities and the gifts that our planet so freely gives us. This issue takes you on many journeys that present Find us on Facebook: a true sense of green beauty, grandeur and remoteness. Lara Dunston and Terence Carter give you firsthand ecolifestyle+travel tourism experiences in Jordan, one of the most stable countries in an increasingly volatile region. Budding travel writer and photographer Akkarin Satitpatanapan takes you to the green heaven on the Borneo Island in Malaysia, and avid photographer Supachart Parisudhiyarn portrays the “flawless beauty” of New Zealand through his stunning photography. We also take you to old streets in Bangkok that are still green and unspoiled by the city’s skyscrapers. Plus, check out our top 10 green spaces around the world waiting to be discovered. Going green is a state of mind, heart and soul. If we can really take action with a green mind, the whole world will be brighter, and, yes, greener.
Krittiya Wongtavavimarn Editor-in-Chief
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CONTRIBUTORS An in-house senior interior designer at Six Senses Resorts & Supachart Spas, Supachart is a self-taught Parisudhiphotographer and avid traveller. yarn Specialising in landscape and architecture photography, he shares his new set of awe-inspiring New Zealand photos in this Going Green issue. To him, green is not a colour but “untamed nature,” and the beauty nature has to offer. View more photos from his blog at iamparis.multiply.com.
Leo is a simplicity blogger and author. He Babauta created Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog (according to Time magazine) with 200,000 subscribers, and wrote the best-selling books Focus and The Power of Less. He is a former journalist of 18 years, a husband and father of six children, and leads a simple life in San Francisco.
Te r e n c e C a r t e r i s an editorial and travel Carter photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. Though he lived in the Middle East over a dozen years, Terence now lives out of a suitcase, accompanied by a couple of bags of photography and lighting gear. He occasionally returns to Dubai to empty his post box. Along with travel writer wife Lara Dunston, Terence bounces around the planet from one assignment to the next. The couple blog about their adventures at grantourismotravels.com. They are currently calling Asia their home.
Based in Bangkok, Akkarin Akkarin is a linguist-cum-photographer Satitpatawho spends most of his time napan when he is outside meeting rooms and seminars exploring the great outdoors. A regular photo contributor to Alliance Française Bangkok, he has done work for the Ministry of Culture, Thailand, and his work has been featured in local exhibitions and magazines. Music and hiking are his passion.
– 14 AuG
Today – 30 Jul
aBSolUt art collection Shanghai, china
In its Asian tour, the ABSOLUT Art Collection arrives at the Long Man Art Projects exhibition in Shanghai with special art pieces from some of China’s most talented pop artists — Gao Yu and Chen Man. Gao Yu is the same person who created the “Can’t Read and Guess” art piece which was auctioned off for nearly HKD 30 million in 2006. He also designed the limited edition bottle for ABSOLUT by using a panda and the Monkey King, Sun Wukong, to represent traditional China in his ABSOLUT art piece. The highly skilled photographer Chen Man also produced a series of avant-garde photographs to help compliment Gao Yu’s bottle design as well as to highlight ABSOLUT’s brand image as a modern and innovative spirit. ABSOLUT also showcases original art pieces created by globally well-known artists such as Andy Warhol in this tour before they are returned back to the company’s home in Sweden. www.longmenartprojects.com
JiSan Valley rock FeStiVal 2011 icheon, South Korea Seeking to enjoy great music amidst the beautiful natural environment of the Jisan Valley? People from across the globe will be queuing up this July to enjoy performances by popular musicians from Korea and abroad at the Jisan Valley Rock Festival, which is one of South Korea’s biggest music festivals. It is held at the Jisan Valley Ski Resort on the last weekend of July every year. Leave the stress of everyday life behind and enjoy some great music at this festival. www.valleyrockfestival.com
– 25 Sep 21 Jul
Today – 31 Jul
Singapore HeritageFeSt 2011 Singapore The 8th Singapore HeritageFest turns the island in to a Mecca of music, dance, food and cultural performances for three weeks this July. The opening of this festival is held at Ang Mo Kia for the first time ever, with thrilling cultural performances and demonstrations being included in the programme, such as Chinese martial arts dancing and Indian drumming. A lot of fun events include an exciting concert at Fort Canning Green and adventurous activities such as an expedition “H” bus tour, which will allow visitors to explore various unseen and less known places in Singapore. www.heritagefest.sg
Dialogic: tHe art oF DialogUeS BangKoK, thailand
You may understand more about yourself and the meaning of life from the “Dialogic: The Art of Dialogues” exhibition, which will be held for two months at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. This exhibition will help you to discover the deeper meanings of “birth, disease, old age and death.” www.bacc.or.th
international artS carniVal 2011 hong Kong The International Arts Carnival returns to Hong Kong this August, offering plenty of cultural and wellness programmes for families to spend their summer holidays together. With the purpose being to help nurture closer family relationships and to encourage young people to become more interested in the arts, the government has given its full support to the various activities that will be showcased here, such as music, dance, puppetry, mime, magic, acrobatics and theatrical arts. The carnival also features many other programmes to cater for the different needs and interests of the attendees, such as the innovative “Fun HeARTS Linked” series for families, the “New Generation” series for youth, and the “ABC, Come and See” series tailor-made for children aged 3 to 6. www.hkiac.gov.hk
28 27 –AuG
WHiSky liVe taipei 2011 taipei, taiwan The Whisky Live programme organises innovative global whisky tasting festivals across 17 countries worldwide, and Whisky Live Taipei is the largest of its kind. At this festival at the World Trade Centre Taipei, guests are invited to taste some of the world’s finest whiskies and will have a chance to try special blends of whiskies prepared by master blenders from around the world. Bottoms up! www.whiskylive.com
WHATâ€™S HOT / SPECIAL DEALS / TRAVELLERâ€™S 101 / BOOKSHELf
MuSIng In BAngKOK
Inspired by the golden age of travel, the MGallery Collection portfolio has surprised Bangkok with the brand new Hotel Muse. With its 25 storeys above the distinguished residential area of Langsuan Road in the centre of the city, Hotel Muse offers 174 luxurious guest rooms and a variety of entertainment and dining venues. Designed and dedicated to the art of pure pleasure, the hotel aims to reflect the theme of fanciful indulgence. Adding a contemporary twist to the elegance of the King Rama V era, the unique interior design of Hotel Muse brings a new source of inspiration and a memorable hotel experience to guests visiting the capital of Thailand. It promises to be unlike anything Bangkok has ever seen. www.hotelmusebangkok.com
CONCIERGE WhAt’s hot
Designed by Indonesian designer Fitorio Leksono, the Smile Stool is constructed exclusively of reclaimed teak wood. This is a far cry from burning the excess as fuel — the typical use of construction waste in the Indonesian furniture industry. The Stool is comprised of 31 distinct modules, each of which is handcrafted by local artisans. The whole piece is then put together in rapid assembly fashion by local workers, thus preserving the best tradition of local wood craftsmanship while increasing Indonesia’s competitiveness on a global scale. The goal of the design, says the designer, is to facing the challenge of the negative impact of globalisation while offering a solution to the furniture industry’s waste problem. www.yankodesign.com
neW eAtery With the latest restaurant launched by the Dining Concepts group, AL MOLO, modern Italian cuisine by New York celebrity chef Michael White finds an introduction to Hong Kong. Located on the shores of Ocean Terminal, the title of the restaurant ironically translates into “The Pier” in Italian. With guests dining in the Symphony of Lights across Victoria Harbour, AL MOLO is expected to take Hong Kong dining to new heights, featuring a wide range of dishes, including antipasto, pizza, oysters, seafood, grills and steaks. AL MOLO aims to provide a dining atmosphere suitable for all diners, a perfect setting for all occasions. www.diningconcepts.com.hk
visiting the Lv shop
Why not drop by the Louis Vuitton pop-up store recently opened in conjunction with the 64th Cannes International Film Festival? Located next to its original store on the Croisette, the exceptional custom-tailored store pays homage to the world of cinema with its Evening Collections, starting from now to August of 2011. Dedicated to Evening Collections and iconic products, there are three successive environments: Cocktail Party by the Pool, Iconic Evening and Evening Grand Soir, which can be found in the first section of the pop-up store. This section consists of ready-to-wear, leather goods and accessories designed by the artistic director of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs. The second section offers a showcase of the Maison’s most beautiful watches and jewellery. With the establishment of the pop-up store, Louis Vuitton adds a remarkable sight to the grand festival, giving the world of cinema a whole new meaning. www.louisvuitton.com
CONCIERGE WHAT’s HOT
CelebrATing A neW lOOk
Central Festival Phuket recently devoted more than USD 1 million for the mall revival project under the theme “Happiness Beyond Expectations.” Aimed at being Phuket’s best international lifestyle and shopping destination, the mall has re-modernised its look, welcoming more than 30 new world famous brands and restaurants. International Fashion Brand and Cosmetic Zone have been updated into a world class fashion hub. All-in-one educational centre Edu Planet, Health & Beauty Zone and the Asian Art & Crafts Zone are also highlights of the mall. www.centralfestivalphuket.com
The five-star Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok will celebrate its first year with a glittering charity event on 27 September. As is the tradition of all Kempinski hotels worldwide, the grand event will be an elaborately themed Imperial Ball set against a backdrop of opulent and indulgent 15th- and 16th-century design and décor. During the charity ball, Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok’s executive chef, Mario Hofmann, will serve fine European cuisine. This will be followed by an evening of entertaining performances and music. Tickets cost around USD 200 (THB 5,900); part of the proceeds will be donated to the Thai Red Cross. www.kempinski.com
Go Green with
The i.sawan Residential Spa & Club recently launched the “Pure Organics” treatment menu presenting a complete series of body and facial treatments using the new organic product line, Sacred Nature, from Comfort Zone. As part of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok hotel, i.sawan’s introduction of the eco-friendly treatment supports the hotel’s commitment to take responsibility for the environment and the health of guests. Guests can enjoy Sacred Nature products that combine natural formulations with organic active ingredients, providing anti-ageing, protecting and detoxifying effects. The products, are designed for all skin types, produced with renewable materials, and sold in recyclable packages. Sacred Nature products are also available exclusively at the spa. www.bangkok.grand.hyatt.com/hyatt/pure/spas
CONCIERGE WHAT’s HOT
Fly TO lA WiTH
Since 1 July, Singapore Airlines has offered flights between Singapore and Los Angeles twice daily on board their revolutionary new Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft. To celebrate this landmark event, passengers flying from Thailand are able to enjoy a complimentary one-night stay in some of Singapore’s top luxury hotels, such as the Peninsula Excelsior and the world famous Marina Bay Sands complex (for Singapore Airlines Suites passengers). Prices for this promotion start from USD 1,795 (THB 54,600) per person for round-trip economy class airfares and will be valid until 31 October 2011. Visit singaporeair.com, call the reservation office at +66 (0) 2353 6000, or contact your local travel agency for more information.
AlMeTA’s HOT iTeMs
ALMETA has launched a collection of candles by Cire Trudon, the world’s oldest and very prestigious French candlemaker, which has been in business for more than three centuries. This eco-friendly product is made of purely natural sachet and wax without blending paraffin and mineral oils. Each candle lasts about 80 hours without candle teardrops, creating a long-lasting romantic ambience in every room of your home. ALMETA also imports a collection of beautifully hand-crafted interior perfume atomisers in a selection of its iconic scents and imports Manda cushions from Missoni Home. This 100 per cent polyester cushion comes with a bold, multi-coloured stripe design that you can effortlessly mix and match with any existing furniture. www.almeta.com
Seeking a completely different spa experience? Try the Karma Chronicle Spa in Bali. While staying at either of the five-star Karma Kandara or Karma Jimbaran resorts, visit the Karma Spa, which overlooks the sparkling Indian Ocean, for a first-class spa experience. Luxurious spa tents built on the beach near the Nammos Beach club allow those looking for relaxation to lounge the whole day on the beach while receiving all types of massages using 100 per cent organic ingredients. There is also family bonding time through fun beach treatments for the kids and family. Couples can enjoy massages that end with a romantic picnic on the beach. Yoga sessions are also offered at the rooftop Temple Lounge, where you can watch the sunset when enjoying a core-strengthening yoga session with oxygen facials at the end. www.karmaresorts.com/karma-chronicles
SPECI A L DEALS Text by Richard Herriot
roses, reaLiTy, romance The luxurious Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa will be playing host to the fourth episode of the popular American reality TV series “The Bachelorette.” To celebrate this auspicious occasion, the resort is offering a special “Renaissance Rose & Romance” package. The package is available for a special rate of USD 2,580 and includes a three-day, two-night stay in the same luxury Pool Villa that one of the stars of the programme will stay in, a daily buffet breakfast for two, a James Bond style Island trip on a private speed boat and a romantic picnic lunch on the beach, as well as a signature spa treatment for two and a private evening dinner on the beach or in the Pool Villa. To book the package, visit www.renaissancephuket.com or www.renhotels.com.
JusT for GirLs Designed for women seeking either to enjoy a stylish pre-wedding celebration or to simply relax with their friends, Anantara has recently introduced a “No Men Allowed Weekend Break” package. Upon arrival, your very own personal Guest Experience Manager will be on hand to tailor your weekend to suit your every need. After you check in to your suite, you and your girlfriends will enjoy a relaxing foot massage or a facial treatment. This is followed by cocktails and champagne around the poolside. On the next day, wake up to a buffet breakfast enjoyed in the Sala next to the pool, followed by a Senses Silk Massage. Prices start from USD 429 per person based on twin sharing. For more information, contact the reservation office on +66 (0) 2210 9000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
shop unTiL you Drop W Taipei has just introduced the “Shopperholic Package,” offering shopaholics the ultimate shopping experience in the bustling Xinyi district of Taipei. Available from now until 7 August, the package includes accommodation in a “Wonderful Room” for two, complete with stunning views of the Xinyi District; breakfast at the kitchen table for two and a 10 per cent discount on all items in W Taipei’s W Hotels The Store. The package starts at USD 398. For reservations and more information, visit www.wtaipei.com.
Etihad Airways has recently launched its new “Complimentary Nights” promotion: free stopovers at selected luxury hotels in downtown Abu Dhabi, Yas Island or Dubai for Pearl Business class guests travelling to or transiting at its hub in Abu Dhabi. All guests will receive a two-night accommodation plus complimentary breakfast as well as return chauffeur driven transfers between Abu Dhabi International Airport and the hotel. This promotion runs until 31 August. Special return fares from Bangkok to Abu Dhabi in Pearl Business class start from USD 2,077 and to London from USD 3,100. Details of the promotion can be found at www.etihad.com/complimentarynights.
TasTe of Luxury For those seeking a unique slice of Tibetan culture, The St. Regis Lhasa Resort is now offering “A Taste of Lhasa,” an exclusive fourday gastronomic guest package introducing the sights, the sounds and particularly the tastes of Tibet. The package includes three nights’ accommodation in a Deluxe Potala View Room; a traditional St. Regis Afternoon Tea; a cooking class with the experienced Tibetan chef Tsering; a romantic five-course dinner for two; and a departure gift of Tibetan tea. The package starts from USD 787 per person. Reservations can be made by visiting www.stregis.com/lhasa.
CONCIERGE TRAVELLER’s 101
Top Tips for a fun, healthy cycling holiday In this modern age of eco-tourism and healthy living, cycling holidays are becoming ever more popular throughout the world. However, many embark on such trips quite unprepared for the experiences that lie ahead. Richard Herriot suggests useful tips to make your journey a smooth one. Choose the right destination When choosing a place to cycle, make sure it is cycler-friendly, both in terms of facilities and weather. Cycling in the blazing hot sunshine isn’t much fun, just as miserable as cycling in the pouring rain. Choose somewhere with a pleasant climate that is not too hot. In Europe, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are good places to start because there’s a cycling infrastructure already in place. There are also many cycling routes in China for Asian cycling enthusiasts. PaCk light When packing, bear in mind that heavy luggage will slow you down. Try to limit your luggage to a maximum of 10 to 15 kilogrammes. Divide the luggage into two or four low-hanging cycle bags and avoid cycling with a rucksack on your back. You should also make a trial run with your fully-laden bicycle before the holiday to test the bike’s equipment and the strength of those taking part (especially children). PiCk the right sunglasses Next to a cycling helmet, puncture repair kit and sunscreen, a proper pair of cycling sunglasses is an essential piece of equipment. Not only will they shield your eyes from the intense glare of the sun (summer or winter, and particularly in mountainous regions), they will also help you avoid close encounters with oncoming traffic and other obstacles such as tree branches. Different varieties are available for both road and mountain cycling, so be sure to pick the pair most suitable for your needs. maintain the right CyCling tyres As with motor vehicles, cycling tyres are designed for different surfaces and weather conditions. Big knobbly tyres might be great for gripping on loose or wet surfaces off road, but on the road you need something that will hold together longer. Also check and experiment with the pressures of your tyres before you go. Standard recommended pressure ranges are adequate for beginners, but when you are riding off road, you should consider lowering the tyre pressure as it may help improve your control of the bike on wet and unstable surfaces.
Bring a CyClo-ComPuter Sometimes the journey can be a long and tiring one, but knowing how far you have gone and how far you need to go can motivate you to see it through to the end. Be sure to invest in a cyclo-computer, as it can help you keep track of your distance and time on the bike. Some cyclocomputers also have additional functions, such as heart rate, weather and altitude monitors, all of which can prove useful and important. ensure you have the CorreCt saddle height When you rent a bike, you might find the saddle is too short or too long and it may not be that noticeable over short distances so you may not bother to adjust it. Over longer distances, however, even a few millimetres in terms of the wrong saddle height can cause a serious calf or knee injury. So, whether you are renting or taking your own bike, use a tape measure and take care to ensure that your saddle height is exactly correct. Don’t be afraid to ask a cycle shop for assistance in this regard. PiCk the right Clothing When cycling, it is important that you equip yourself with the right clothing to ensure that you stay as dry and comfortable as possible. The best idea is to wear a number of thin layers of clothing, which you can remove as and when you need to do so, rather than just one thick jersey and a single under-layer. Short-sleeved cycling jerseys,T-shirts and packable shower proof jackets are ideal for the upper body, whilst cycling shorts are best for the lower body as they dry much faster than ordinary trousers or jeans (and baggy varieties are available for those who feel uncomfortable in tight lycra). Your clothing should also have plenty of vents and help to move moisture away from your skin. Plan your journey aCCording to the needs of your grouP If you plan to ride along with a group, make sure to plan out each leg of your tour to a schedule suitable for the weakest person in the group. Cycling is great for keeping fit, but you are on holiday so don’t be afraid to take your time to enjoy the scenery and the odd diversion that might come your way.
BOOKSHELF Text by Richard Herriot
the Paris Wife by PauLa McLain The colourful life of the enduringly popular American writer Ernest Hemingway has been a subject of great debate, interest and controversy over the years. Particular fascination, though, is reserved for his time mingling amongst the Paris literati in the 1920’s, a time Hemingway himself reminisced at length about in his set of posthumously published memoirs, A Movable Feast. Many would assume that this comprehensive first-hand account was as close as you were likely to get to working out what made Hemingway tick during this turbulent period. However, The Paris Wife, a novelisation of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage told from the point of view of his quiet and well-meaning first wife, Hadley Richardson, offers a different yet equally valuable perspective to this time. Undoubtedly the story itself is in many ways a sad tale. Hadley herself was a shy and lonely 28-year-old woman who had virtually given up on love and marriage. However, quite unexpectedly, she crosses the path of the dashing young war hero and budding novelist Ernest Hemingway, who swept her off her feet, married her and whisked her away to the glamorous environs of 1920’s Paris. The couple experienced a fun and exciting period of genuine happiness, but things started to unravel when Hadley lost a suitcase full of Hemingway’s manuscripts and also when she became pregnant, news that the free-spirited Hemingway found hard to take. From then on, life for the couple was never the same again, and this novel sensitively chronicles the couple’s disintegrating relationship from that point onwards. The story of Hadley is a deeply touching one, a woman who retains her dignity even as her life was gradually falling apart. Poignantly, as Hemingway’s own lengthy apology to Hadley in his memoirs was reputedly removed by his widow, this story also helps to fill in some of the details of the other side of the story that wasn’t fully told, making this novel a fair, free and fascinating account of the brief but genuine period of happiness that the couple had together during this time.
LoneLy PLanet: the traveLLer’s Guide to PLanet earth Inspired by the recent BBC travel documentary series, The Traveller’s Guide to Planet Earth offers a fascinating visual insight into the fantastic places across the world that were showcased on this landmark programme. From high mountains to the uncharted ocean depths, from teeming jungles to icy polar regions, this 300-page paperback book features 50 individual and unique locations across the globe and explains how to go about exploring these places for yourself. Neatly divided into categories that mirror the TV series episodes, each destination begins with a globe and country map, revealing what you will see there as well as brief descriptions on the best times to visit, each chapter illustrated with a number of beautiful photographs. Tips are provided on what to do in each place and how to get to it. There are also lists of interesting facts and special individual features for each of the regions. This book is a little bit different from the standard Lonely Planet guidebooks as the aim is really to provide a taste of the experience rather than an in-depth guide to each place, but each destination is uniquely described as if it was the point of view of someone who was actually experiencing the journey as you are reading, with 50 brief yet visually imaginative stories all encased within a single volume. The stunning photographs are especially inspiring and they also help turn this travel reference manual into a visual treat. Whether you wish to search for rare native flora and fauna, take in the views from steep rocky mountainsides or shop in traditional markets, this neat and concise coffee table book is ideal. the ecoLoGicaL house: sustainabLe architecture around the WorLd – Marco Moro and beatrice sPirandeLLi In this fascinating study of architectural biodiversity, this 270-page hardback volume illustrates a range of innovative creations from a range of architectural pioneers and masters from across the globe. A whole range of projects incorporating hotels, ecological residences and other varieties of buildings in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia are exhibited in this book, with stunning photographs of the buildings themselves, explanations as to how they were constructed as well as some of the original blueprints for the structures. Reading descriptions of building construction projects may seem a bit tedious, but while the book offers in-depth detail about the methods used in making these structures, the material is presented in an easy to understand fashion through clever use of images, photographs, and simple explanations of how these buildings best integrate with the environment around them. This is a beautiful, exotic collection of some of architecture’s greenest gems, which includes lived-in homes that have essentially “gone native” as well as brand-new futuristic structures of glass and steel, all with unique climate control systems and their own designs to ensure low energy emissions. Even for those who have only a passing interest in architecture, this book is hard to put down.
Lonely Planet and The Ecology House are available at Asia Books and The Paris wife is available at Kinokuniya.
BUZZ 36 “SPEAKS” FROM THE HEART
The talented Almeta Speaks is a musical optimist and artist who sees the inner beauty of the world around her.
38 JAZZ IT UP, BORNEO If Malaysia were a big kitchen, its music scene would be a bubbling pot of thick stew made of ingredients from all over the world, spiced up with a bit of jazz.
40 SEOUL ART FOR A GREEN SOUL Korean artists express their love of nature and concern for the environment through art.
44 Slow on the go The Slow Food movement in Thailand is now in motion.
48 ROMANTIC GETAWAY
WITH MR & MRS SMITH Check out unique boutique hotels in Asia.
from the heart Text by Krittiya Wongtavavimarn / Photos by Ratchapant Sukrattanachaikul
The talented Almeta Speaks is a musical optimist and artist who sees the inner beauty of the world around her.
here’s something special about Almeta Speaks. When she appears in the room and graces the stage, all eyes are glued on her. When she sits at a shiny black grand piano and gently sets her fingers on the keys, you hold your breath. Once she starts to sing, you know you’re in the company of an outstanding artist. By the closing number, you know you’ve just seen a diva at work. Speaks possesses an amiable and benevolent character. Her voice exudes the sheer radiance of hope and positive energy. She is always charismatic and engaging, never failing to draw in the audience with inimitable ease, chatting and laughing between each exquisitely delivered song. Her extraordinary ability as an improviser is fast becoming her trademark. The passion, poetic musicality and sense of structure Speaks brings to her music translate into classy improvisations, weaving blues, jazz and tango into a multi-hued framework. Speaks always “listens” to her audience and sings her heart out with no visible pretensions. And when she speaks, everyone listens. “The most wonderful thing in the world is when you can engage with other musicians and the audience, and all of us are in sync,” she says. “I listen to my audience and my musicians have to carefully listen to me. If not, they won’t know where I’m going because I change all the time when I perform.” Her love for singing and music in general was instilled at a young age. Music was abundant in her home as she grew up in Reidsville, North Carolina. “Music is a total part of the small town life. Sunday school is the first ‘educational system’ known to children where they learn not just how to read and write, but also to appreciate good music,” she says, adding that it was at church that she learned about classical forms of music and started to sing gospel along with her sisters. By her mother’s definition, there were two types of music in her neighbourhood: sacred music, uplifting songs learned at church; and secular music, which is all about the blues. “Both types of music could be heard in the neighbourhood all the time. In those days, whoever owned a Hi-Fi would play it right up to the sky,” she says. “It was like a competition. You could hear everybody’s version of whatever was going on.” Apart from the “sacred” songs she learned at church, blues attracted young Speaks with its candid reality and lyrical storytelling. Both gospel and blues influenced her musicality.
At the age of nine, Speaks was capable enough to accompany herself on the piano. A few years later she moved to New York City where she learned to play and sing all kinds of songs, never forgetting to add her personal twist. To Speaks, music can be happy or sad, profoundly moving or depressing, or even down and dirty. After years of experience, Speaks has brought about a more personal style of music differing from classical blues, infusing hers with a more encouraging and understanding touch. Her songs make your heart sing. She sings from the heart and knows no other way. “You bring it to your own frame of reference, your own sense of self, and hopefully, something that your composer has wanted. And what you have there is something you can put your stamp on,” she says. Speaks is an artist of whom African-American people should be proud, a true ambassador for her people and her cause. She is a multi-talented artist whose work spans music to media production and education; much of that work celebrates African-American people, their culture and their values. Apart from singing, she is a respected television and radio producer in Canada and the U.S.
“I certainly believe in the human capacity to create, improve and inspire because I have been encouraged by many artists, inspired by too many to name, and it has improved my performance to have met them or discovered their works.” She received two Emmy Awards for excellence in programming in the Cultural/Historical category at KPBS TV. Her first awardwinning programme was Celebrate Life, which spoke to AfricanAmerican history through dance, song and poetry; her second award was for a talk show called Almeta Speaks With... “The interview format gave me the opportunity to speak with every strata of society — poor, rich, famous, unknown. It was exciting to do and I learned that everyone has a unique story to tell,” she says. One important person in her life, she says, is Belford C. Hendrick III. “He once said I should work at being the best ME I can be. He also said it is a lot harder than you think to be your true self, but well worth the struggle.” Her hard work is paying off. She is an artist, an all-in-one award-winning pianist, singer, composer, producer, sociologist and lecturer. She’s doing a PhD thesis for the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her thesis is about storytelling. It examines the life and art of an African-American woman sculptor, Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, herself a multifaceted artist who creates emotion-packed works with strong social commentary. Speaks also plans to create television programmes again and intends to consider creating her own talk show/interview format and include elements like music and cooking. “I certainly believe in the human capacity to create, improve and inspire because I have been encouraged by many artists, inspired by too many to name, and it has improved my performance to have met them or discovered their works,” she says.
Jazz it up, Borneo Text and photos by Akkar in Satitpatanapan
If Malaysia were a big kitchen, its music scene would have been a big bubbling pot of thick stew made from ingredients from all over the world, spiced up with a spice called jazz.
or half a decade, jazz has been a predominant part of music festivals throughout Malaysia’s music capitals. As soon as the monsoon season has passed, music festivals would spring up like mushrooms after the rain. Starting in May every year, the Borneo Jazz Festival is a wake up call for the train of Malaysian musical series. The scene then migrates up to the northern shores of Kota Kinabalu for their edition of the jazz festival in June before shifting back down in terms of both altitude and style to Kuching in July for the exotic Rainforest World Music Festival. Then jazz routinely visits the offshore audiences at the Penang Island Jazz Festival to conclude the musical year in December. In Malaysia, where heavier music (namely heavy metal, rap and their derivatives) is closely regulated by heavy-handed censors, spaces are always left open for this more laid-back genre — and these events are often frequently given support from the local authorities. Rebranding the six-year-old Miri International Jazz Festival into the Borneo Jazz Festival has been part of the Sarawak Tourism Board’s ambitious attempt to place an iconic status on to the festival, following
the success of the internationally-acclaimed Rainforest World Music Festival, and to help put Malaysia’s Sarawak state on the map as a global musical hotspot. As a result, the recent edition of Borneo Jazz Festival in May had just achieved its first 10,000-attendee milestone, which was a considerable leap from the previous year’s headcount of 7,000. Similar to previous years, the festival managed to put together a good mix of genre variety, ranging from straightforward jazz, American southern blues, and Brazilian Bossa nova, to Chinese contemporary jazz, Indian fusion, Dutch nu-jazz movement, French gypsy and Malay-Canadian Latin connection, with a diversified line-up, ranging from Blues Hall of Fame inductees and Grammy nominees to new players on the scene. The same diversified pattern also was a new feature of other musical events in the region, helping to make the event become Malaysia’s uber-standard template for a music festival. Though the word “international” is often included in the headline, the most international element of any “international” festival often tends to be limited to the artist lineup. The majority of audiences are
also generally made up of those within the country or in the same time zone, since travelling to this faraway place is no easy task. Take the Borneo Jazz Festival. It was difficult for the organisers to find people willing to travel to the event, let alone finding the money to spend to get the artists on to the stage, up to the point where it ended up impractical to do so. Also there are only a few flights to Miri from North America and South America, so if you did want to make the trip in the future, at this time it may take a few days for you to reach this venue. However, there were also attempts to get local people to take part in the emerging music event. A major part of the staff was also made up of young locals, who eagerly helped out at the event behind the scenes. There were also opportunities for local talents to rub shoulders on the same stage with their heroes. Despite the momentum gained, there is still a long way to go before Malaysia ends up being on the same level as other more established music scenes, such as in Montreal or Newport, but so long as there are good numbers of participating people, thereâ€™s always a chance for the music scene here to grow stronger. At the same time though, some of the festivals in Malaysia have already reached their physical limits, whilst others are simply ill-equipped to grow any larger. The Rainforest World Music Festival held last year, for instance, drew around 30,000 people to the venue. The show night tickets were sold out. The hotels were booked for over a year in advance but the parking lot was not large enough to accommodate all the visitors. At the same time, the audience also asked for more days for the festival, more variety and even more â€œseriousâ€? music. Will these signals help prompt the Malaysian tourism board to make more ambitious arrangements for jazz festival enthusiasts in the future? Perhaps. And I hope they will.
Seoul art for a “green” Soul Text by Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul
Korean artists express their love of nature and concern for the environment through art.
eoul has become one of the “greenest” cities in Asia and a growing number of Korean people are concerned about environmental issues. Since 2002, its government has launched many projects such as purifying Hans River, increasing the number of parks and encouraging its citizens to grow plants with a belief that raising environmental awareness in the community is necessary for a sustainable future. While Seoul is rapidly urbanising to become one of the leading economic and environment-friendly cities in Asia, art has become one of the tools in cultivating a “green” mindset in its residents and serves as a key factor in keeping the balance between environment and development. Many zones in Seoul accommodate an array of art galleries and museums. Insa-Dong, for instance, is a hub for the arts. The area around Hongik University is also a gathering place for art students to showcase their work and stage an art market on weekends. And Sinsa-Dong is the hippest and most lively creative area, sometimes called Seoul’s Beverly Hill.
Bunam Gallery in Insa-dong is a favourite hang-out for local artists to perform their works; many use art to foster a forward-looking mindset that embraces sustainability as key towards shaping a greener future. It’s also a home of “ddoraeul” — a group of six young artists who encourage children to develop their ideas about environmental issues and cultivate attitudes of environmental care through the expressive arts. This group has been set up for a few years and has become widely known in Seoul particularly among students. Dressed simply in a white T-shirt and old jeans, Seongmin Han, a 30-year-old artist and member of ddoraeul, carefully cuts a giant piece of black paper with a sharp blade knife. He cuts straight and curved lines and gently removes the cut-out shapes. When he finishes, he attaches the shredded paper to the white wall and all the lines and shapes of the black paper appear to be a black-and-white picture of a happy boy riding a bike among blooming flowers and big trees. He, again, cuts another giant piece of paper and attaches it to the wall. This time it turns to be the picture of a sad boy stuck in a car with the background of air pollution from traffic emissions. Through his paper-cutting art, he illustrates both positive and negative environmental impacts associated with the urban way of life. His paper crafts usually make sarcastic comments on society’s overly
rapid development. He believes that many people seek wealth and power from materialistic development but never get hold of them without destroying something. “When they gain something, they lose something else,” he says. Every line of the paper he cuts is connected, and that implies that everything in this world is interconnected. He also encourages others to pay attention to every small detail in their life. One simple act is, for example, to reduce the use of paper cups. “I believe that small changes in their daily life can save the world,” he says. Perhaps it’s people who are key players in destroying the environment. But, at the same time, they are the ones who strive to cure it as well. “I’m a bit tired of trying to change people’s minds. But it’s the only thing I can do to make the world sustainable. When I remember that I’m doing it for the future, I keep on it with all my efforts,” Han says.
While Han’s work is simple and straightforward, Ji Hye Kim’s abstract paintings communicate with people by how they feel, not what they see. The young abstract artist graduated from Hongik University — one of the most famous art academies in South Korea, Kim always creates works that reflect social issues from human rights to environment. One of her paintings is A Slender Reason, which reflects the acceptance of female values in Korea at the present time. Colour, abstract form and expression create lively works that can let us “see” nature in a whole new way. Her paintings show the flow of vibrant colours and the free-form movement of the brush. Painting from imagination, she often uses geometric lines to represent the vibrant hustle and bustle of the city. But sometimes she paints purely by following her feelings. “I don’t see the shape in my painting, but I hope the audience sees,” she says. “Invisibility” is the main theme of one of her solo exhibitions called Visible Air, and her paintings are inspired by her observation of Korea’s capital city and nature. What she has found is that, over the last five years, many highrise buildings have been mushrooming in Seoul, coming along with the increase in air pollution. Kim loves to see the developed city and the beautiful environment in Seoul, she says, but also realises that the urbanism has brought the environmental problem and the mental problem to people in Seoul as well. She expresses those problems through her abstract painting called Suicide of the Planet, which she intends as a way to educate people to pay attention to the air pollution problem. “It’s hard to make people interested in something ‘invisible,’ but existing and necessary for their living, like the air,” she says. “But they should know that nothing is more important than their breath.”
Although her colourful painting of lily flowers may not directly relate to the environment preservation, Juliana Hong creates every piece of oil-colour arts inspired by the beauty of nature, and all the pleasure and serenity that the surrounding environment brings. Korea’s respected award-winning artist from Korea Watercolour Grand Exhibition Award from 2002 to 2004, Hong takes a firm standpoint regarding her worldview and work view: she loves drawing flowers, and she only appreciates and facilitates the use of bright, dynamic and vivid colour in her works of art. Hong always smiles and laughs at the top of her voice as if she never worries about anything in this world. Her outgoing, amiable yet strong personality always shows up in her work. Hong’s 2004 solo exhibition entitled Feeling held at Indeco, one of the famous galleries in Korea, showcased a number of outstanding pieces of her flower collection. Her favourite painting, Lily, features vivacious colours yet conveys powerful feelings of peace, calm and liveliness. Green, yellow, red and orange are the main colours she uses to create vivid paintings of flowers, trees and mountains. It’s the vibrant colours used that make viewers see and feel the positive, lively energy of the paintings, and more or less be inspired to see the value and importance of natural surroundings, she says. “I believe nobody dislikes the beauty of the flowers,” she says, adding that the view of beautiful colourful flowers brings in an optimistic aura and restful feelings. She hopes her viewers feel the same positive way every time she flexes and strokes the brush gently on the canvas, and hopes that her paintings encourage viewers to be more appreciative of and inspired by everything around them in the same way she is. “I feel that I’m lucky. My life is full of joy and delight. Every day when I wake up, I am very excited about what will happen that day,” she says. “I live my life happily because of my optimistic attitude, which I learned from things around me. And the inspiration of my art comes from those joys and those little things.”
Slow on the go Main photos by Kridtapoj Phongthiraprasit
The Slow Food movement in Thailand is now in motion. Korakot Suriya-arporn introduces three chefs who could rock the culinary world in a slow and steady panache.
magine an amble through the Golden Arches: happy faces, endless repertoires of jingles, and hungry diners convinced to pay more for bigger soda and fries. You order a double cheeseburger that tastes exactly the same as millions of others served under the same roof of this clown-inhabited chain. Scarily consistent, but something is not right. That is what the Slow Food movement has been campaigning about since 1989. Led by Italian food activist Carlo Petrini, the conglomeration of over 100,000 members in 150 different countries is not just against fast food businesses and their taste standardisation, but to preserve local flavours, and to prompt people to learn more about what they eat, its origin and its taste. Symbolised by a snail, a creature of slowness and perseverance, Slow Food is a success story in Europe and the U.S., and has recently gained public recognition in Japan, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. In Bangkok, many small organisations have been founded to promote Slow Food and have gathered a handful of followers. But the growing popularity of convenience food — frozen ready meals, instant ramen noodles, even mass-produced street food — especially in urban areas, is currently dominating and deteriorating food culture. They are fast, easy-to-eat and wouldn’t hurt a wallet. Deadly triple threats, they are. Slow Food, in reality, has been a culinary concept for Thai people, who regularly live in harmony with nature. Local seasonal produce is used to make a hearty home-cooked meal. No preservatives,
manufactured curry pastes or boxed coconut milk. Sadly that is getting jettisoned for said corner-cutting ways. Still, all is not lost for Slow Food in Thailand. It has just reached its foetal stage and is bound to grow even more. With the number of disciples climbing every year, it’s time to bugle reveille and draw a sword, as a battle to regain and recover gastronomic diversity continues.
FROZEN FRENZY I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream! This catchy little tune may not have been heard by Montep “Tep” Kamonsilp when he was born 22 years ago, but that does not stop this young chef from translating his passion for this cold dessert that everybody loves into reality. Kamonsilp started an ice cream brand called Les Boules back during culinary school. It became clear that his strong philosophy in Slow Food would become the company’s selling point: an all-natural ice cream with “absolutely” no colours or preservatives added, unlike other homemade ice cream brands who may wield the same “all-natural” placard but sneak in little shortcuts for appearance and longevity. What really makes Les Boules different is Kamolsilp’s insistence on the use of local products. “Thailand is never short of agricultural products, so I think I can make good things from this gift we have,” he said. The sorbet artisan sought out the best ingredients across the country. He spent nine months tracking local farmers, suppliers and
even small vendors from Chiang Mai to Prachuap Khiri Khan. Even the ice cream maker was designed and made by a local. Forget that USD 4,000 PacoJet! The menu ranges from tropical selections — Phetchaburi’s Banana, Ginger, Passion Fruit or Kaffir Lime — to oriental-inspired ones like Black Sesame or White Tea. Les Boules ice cream is very rich and creamy, to the point that it is slightly chewy. This, he said, is the result of the customised ice cream machine and from making his own purée, made by smashing fruit into thick paste. Purée is essential for fruit-based ice creams and sorbets. Only a few ingredients must be imported, such as Madagascan and Tahitian vanilla or Guayaquil cacao from Ecuador.
He considered his “Pure Coconut” as a perfect paradigm for Slow Food ice cream. Cream has been substituted with coconut cream, and organic palm sugar used as a sweetener, which also gives a good smoky flavour. “I never expected it to become as popular as it has,” the young entrepreneur said. A quest to icy perfection would not even have its first step without an inspiration from Michelin-starred Thomas Keller, Kamolsilp’s role model, who sent him a printed menu from his restaurant The French Laundry, along with a signed letter for his birthday. Currently at the helm in the kitchen of Bangkok’s boutique hotel The Eugenia, he is finding it difficult to expand Les Boules as much as he would like. Some of his menu items can still be sampled at Tong Jing Kung, a Japanese ramen shop in Sukhumvit 24, and at Jarrett Wrisley’s Soul Food Mahanakorn on Thong Lo Road.
GOURMET ALCHEMIST Forget bad hotel food where everything is just exhaustingly uninspired — poor fish or beef butchered again on a plate, vegetables lying dead like a Victorian-dressed corpse and a disgusting quagmire of tasteless sauce. Say hello to food that bursts with creativity, fun and, all the while, a noble philosophy behind its perennial flair. Thank German-born Thomas Jakobi, an executive chef at Evason Phuket & Bon Island and a head chef of Into The Sea Restaurant. His cooking style is innovative, avant-garde and quintessentially stunning. One may equate him to several known chefs like Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, or Wylie Dufresne — ones that exceed diners’ expectation for impeccable taste and presentation, and aim to amuse them with a right amalgamation of textures, aromas, temperatures and sounds. For one, there is a strong influence of molecular gastronomy in Jakobi’s cooking — foams, pearls, gelées, or espumas — as evident in Adrià, Blumenthal, and Dufresne’s food, but there is only “a touch of it,” the German chef said. “We need to have something nice and interesting to talk about.” A factor that, however, demarcates him from the said culinary virtuosos is his core principle to cook under the Slow Food concept. In fact, it is Evason’s main value to encourage a slow lifestyle. This is fortunately what Jakobi believes in, as he neatly coined his cookery “Modern Logical Cuisine.”
About 60 per cent of green ingredients used here stem from crops in a resort-grown garden. Seafood is caught day-by-day from the azure Andaman Sea, while red meats and poultry are organic or free-range. The process does not halt once the food is served. Restaurant manager Thomas Singenberger and the service crew explain to diners each component on the plate — what it is, where it is from, and why it is put there. “It is important, so they can actually eat with consciousness on what they’re eating instead of just taking it down and filling up,” said Singenberger. Combining the best of both European and Thai elements, Jakobi cited his lamb shoulder as one of the signature dishes. The lamb is slow-cooked, sous-vide for 24 hours. Sharing the plate is a spicy salad inspired by Thailand’s celebrated Som Tam. Jakobi’s cooking, on paper, may be simplified as Slow Food meets molecular gastronomy, but look closely and you’ll see the difference between this chef and others — a man in his own niche.
GREENS ARE A NEW GREEN A chef doesn’t need a chef suit or a toque to cook better, nor does the food call for a fancy plate to taste miraculous. Instead, a heart full of good will is enough to make something tasty and that is quite the case for Dhanapume “Duang” Asoke-trakul. A Chiang Mai-domiciled cookbook writer, food stylist and Slow Food advocate, Asoke-trakul runs a food delivery business translated as “meat-free pinto,” by working his culinary magic and packing it in a “pinto,” a traditional Thai-style stack of containers used to carry meals.
His food is totally vegetarian — something he has practiced for about 20 years now — and focuses on seasonal, toxin-free vegetables from local organic farms, as well as tofu and soy products. What else makes his food outstanding? The catch of his “pinto” is that there is no MSG added, while sugar, indispensable to seasoning Thai food, is somehow omitted. Selections of Thai food, with Northern Thailand specialty and Western items occasionally pop up time to time, are offered for lunch and dinner every day, from Monday to Friday, and are delivered right at the doorstep for clients in central Chiang Mai only. His menu, predetermined at the beginning of each month, is never repeated within the same month, he said, and is based on what he wants and loves to eat. The veggie chef is also environment-conscious, and that is obvious in his choice of food containers: the pinto. “It is reusable, and it is better than other disposable containers that melt when exposed to heat. It’s a healthier and a pro-environment choice.” Asked about his best dish, he simply replied, Kanom Jeen Nam Prik (rice noodle with sweet chili and peanut sauce). “The process is really complex, but it is very well worth it,” he said. His vegetarian take on Sai-Ua (Northern-style spicy sausage), for which he cleverly uses tofu and mushroom, also gathers praise. Though conventional as a pinto may be, his food is progressive, as he never stops finding new combinations of food, even from the simplest ingredients. It’s all about finesse, it seems, layered in its own stack, waiting to be delivered to healthy — but hungry — souls.
R o m a n t i c G e ta w ay w i t h
mR & mRs smith Check out some unique, off-the-beaten-path boutique hotels in Asia.
Rayavadee, KRabi, thailand style: Sand-circled garden pavilions setting: Sun-kissed limestone peninsula
Nature gave this Krabi boutique hotel three white-sand beaches and cinematic limestone cliff-sides, but it’s the Rayavadee’s owners that have given it four gorgeous restaurants, lush landscaped gardens and a reputation for all-out tropical indulgence.
Need to kNow: Rooms: 98 one- and two-bedroom pavilions and four
beachfront villas. Facilities: Spa, tennis and squash courts, gym, watersports
and activities centres, billiards table, table tennis, jogging path, games room, boutique, library with CDs, DVDs and free WiFi. Inside rooms guests will find a TV, DVD/CD player, Erb toiletries, minibar and free bottled water. The large lagoon-style infinity pool is encircled by verdant landscaped gardens and looks out onto the sea.
IN the kNow: To add lashings of romance to your stay, opt for a garden-endowed Spa Pavilion and bubble away in the outdoor Jacuzzi. Rayavadee’s mushroom-like pavilions all have two floors, large couple’s bath tubs and snuggly-cushioned wooden swings instead of sofas. PackINg tIPs: Don’t forget your sea legs and antinausea tablets if you plan to leave the resort — the only way
to get anywhere is by boat. If hanging off craggy cliffs is your thing, make space for your climbing shoes.
also: Rayavadee runs countless trips and excursions, including island visits, scuba trips, sea kayaking and snorkelling. However, lounging in your pavilion watching the local monkeys misbehaving can be equally entertaining. Food aNd drINk: There are four eateries: Raya Dining caters to Western palates; Krua Phranang is the best choice for scrumptious Thai seafood dinners by the beach; Raitalay Terrace is for daytime snacking and evening meals by the pool; and the Grotto offers light bites in a spectacular limestone cavern, with special seafood barbecues several times a week. W: www.mrandmrssmith.com/au/luxury-hotels/rayavadee
Knai banG chatt, KeP, cambodia style: Bauhaus goes tropical setting: Rustic south coast
Kep-sur-Mer was the beach destination for French colonials and Cambodian high society to hang out back in the day and the spirit of a bygone era is elegantly recaptured at Knai Bang Chatt. With bold modernist architecture set on the simple but stylish seafront, this design-savvy retreat puts Kep right back on the map.
Need to kNow: Rooms: 11 Facilities: Computer, library and video room with movie projector,
small spa, beachfront chill-out area, ping-pong table, free Wi-Fi throughout, sailing club with Hobie Cats, kayaks and a speedboat. Inside rooms guests will be treated to a fruit plate and free bottled water.
IN the kNow: The resort’s 11 rooms are spread over three villas. Each has its own character, but we loved the (mostly first floor) Sea View Doubles. Room 4 has spectacular views and a large terrace that more than makes up for a smaller bathroom. Rooms 7 and 9 are in the newest building, with a bold sense of space and designer bathrooms. PackINg tIPs: Castaway clothing for a day on nearby Rabbit Island, the closest thing to a Robinson Crusoe retreat around Kep. Knai Bang Chatt organises a private tour with a beachfront barbecue. also: Knai Bang Chatt’s three renovated modernist villas were built in the Seventies by proteges of acclaimed Khmer architect Vann Molyvann. Founded by a pair of stylish Belgian expats, its name means “a rainbow encircling the sun.” Food aNd drINk: The restaurant at Knai Bang Chatt is set in an informal alfresco pavilion near the seafront. The accent is on seafood, with Khmer-style set lunches and Western dinners, plus a bit of fusion fun. Steamed crab in coconut milk and fish with green pepper and lemon-butter sauce are just two treats to tempt you. W: www.mrandmrssmith.com/au/luxury-hotels/knai-bang-chatt
Uma PaRo, bhUtan style: Mod-con mountain lodge setting: Pine-lined Himalayan hills
One of the remote kingdom’s only boutique hotels, it offers the pampering pleasures of a Como Shambhala spa amidst mindbendingly beautiful scenery.
Need to kNow: Rooms: 29, including nine villas. Facilities: Como Shambhala spa, and private cars to get around.
Inside room guests are treated to a TV, DVD player and minibar. In deluxe rooms, Superior rooms and Corner Suites you will also have free Internet access. The hotel’s quiet pool is set into a chic stone-walled space with windows looking out over the pine-clad valley of Paro.
IN the kNow: The wrap-around windows in Room 30 offer the most staggering mountain-scape views in the hotel (closely followed by room 40). You could lose hours just staring at the magical Himalayan landscape. If you’re after the private spa and butler service of the villas, number 15 is the most secluded and romantic. PackINg tIPs: Bhutan is trekking country, so boots made for walking are essential footwear. If you wish to remain contactable during your mountain retreat (and we really don’t think you should), ensure your mobile operator has a roaming agreement for Bhutan. also: The excellent Como Shambhala spa is set apart from the main building of the hotel, encircled by forest. There’s an Ayurvedic focus, and the hot stone couples’ massage is worth climbing mountains for. Food aNd drINk: A warm, round space encased in glass, Bukhari restaurant centres on a wide brick pillar fitted with twin log fires. The chef offers a choice of Indian or Bhutanese set dinners, as well as more complex a la carte options. W: www.mrandmrssmith.com/au/luxury-hotels/uma-paro
luxury retreat Text by Richard Herriot
xquisitely styled and lavishly appointed right on the prestigious Rajadamri Road in the heart of the city, accommodation at St. Regis helps to re-define luxury in Bangkok. It combines the cosmopolitan energy of a modern metropolis with a timeless sense of luxurious elegance. The first St. Regis hotel in Thailand and the Indochina region by the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide group occupies levels 12-24 of a 47-story building that includes 176 guest rooms, 51 suites and 53 residences. Located in the city’s key commercial corridor close to Lumpini Park, with a BTS skytrain connection link nearby, the hotel offers floor-to-ceiling windows that provide unobstructed views of the city’s skyline and the local parks and golf course. Guests enjoy top quality and personalised service from the St. Regis butlers, who are available 24 hours a day to fulfil every request. A comprehensive range of leisure facilities await guests at the hotel. It is home to the very first Elemis Spa in Thailand, which offers a full menu of personalised and indulgent treatments, as well as a well-appointed exercise room, an inviting outdoor swimming pool and a contemporary poolside café. The St. Regis Bangkok also offers a business centre, meeting facilities, function venues as well as bespoke butler event services. Dining at the St. Regis Bangkok is a unique experience. At Viu, located on the 12th floor next to the Sky Lounge, guests can enjoy an international dining experience with spectacular views over the Royal Bangkok Sports Club and Bangkok skyline. JoJo offers delicious and authentic Italian cuisine in elegant contemporary surroundings. Decanter is the perfect place for wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs, featuring an extensive wine cellar filled with wines from some of the world’s leading vineyards, with private rooms for exclusive tastings and wine dinners. The Drawing Room is a rare haven of refined luxury in which guests are welcome to enjoy the St. Regis signature Afternoon Tea. Cocktails and champagne menus are also available at the St. Regis Bar and the hotel’s pool bar is also an oasis of serenity and calm, where guests can enjoy alfresco light meals and refreshments with panoramic views of the city. Founded by John Jacob Astor IV, with the opening of the first St. Regis Hotel in New York City over a century ago, the St. Regis brand of hotels is known for its unique luxury dimension, customised service and refined elegance. Plans for this brand to continue its legacy in Asia include the recent and imminent opening of properties in Chengdu, Kuala Lumpur, Lhasa, Nanjing, Osaka, Sanya Yalong Bay and Tianjin.
Bangkok Photographer: Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul Photographer Assistants: Kudilok Langaree, Pheerach Jitwong Model: Jay (WM Model) Stylist: Masiri Tamsakul Make-up/Hair Stylist: Suriyan Po-thong Fashion Coordinator: Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul Location: Bangkok
Dress from Bally Location: Temple of the Emerald Buddha
White dress from Bally Location: Sanam Luang
Top and trousers from Vickteerut, jacket and shoes from Bally, sunglasses from Chanel Location: Pi Kun Bridge
Top from Vickteerut Location: The Giant Swing
Striped dress and high heels from Prada Location: Sanam Luang
Black dress from Bally, bracelet from Chanel (Location: Medicine shop in China Town)
Black dress from Bally, bracelet from Chanel Location: Medicine shop in Chinatown
Top from Prada, trousers from Again & Again, handbag from Bally Location: The Tien Pier
Short dress from Chanel Location: Wat Pho
Colourful top and skirt from Bally Location: The Chao Praya River
STOCKLISTS AGAIN & AGAIN Market Place, Thong Lo Soi 4, Bangkok +66 (0) 8 9486 5359
CHANEL M Floor, The Emporium, Bangkok +66 (0) 2664 8621
PRADA G Floor, Gaysorn Plaza, Bangkok +66 (0) 2656 1022
BALLY 1st Floor, Gaysorn Plaza, Bangkok +66 (0) 2664 8866
MILIN 1st Floor, Siam Paragon, Bangkok +66 (0) 3814 4567
VICKTEERUT Thong Lo Soi 4, Bangkok +66 (0) 2392 1578 2nd Floor, Central World, Bangkok +66 (0) 8 2782 8270
T TUrn Up
Handbag with chain tote from Kate Spade (USD 450), Pineapple coin purse from Kate Spade (USD 95), Sunglasses from Kate Spade (USD 328), Acrylic bangles from ZSISKA (Price upon request), Parrot ring and necklace from ZSISKA (Price upon request), Necklace from Massimo Dutti (USD 53), Heart coin purse from Louis Vuitton (USD 460), Brown purse from Ferragamo (USD 550), Flat sandals from Louis Vuitton (USD 148), Micro constance bag from Hermes (price upon request)
GeT down to
Vintage travelling bag from Louis Vuitton (USD 330), Panama hat from Massimo Dutti (USD 53), Shoulder bag from Ferragamo (USD 490), Duffle from Ferragamo (USD 720), Roman Sandal from Ferragamo (USD 295), Sneakers from Louis Vuitton (USD 870), Leather shoes from Massimo Dutti (USD 145)
Location: Soulmade Yoga Studio, Ekamai 12, Bangkok, Thailand Stylist: Jammari K. Photographer: Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul Props: Geo Decor
MISSONI HOME NOW AVAILABLE AT ALMETA SILK SHOWROOM
VISIt mISSoNI Home aND almeta lIFeStYle SIlK FoR tHe 21St ceNtURY at: Gaysorn Plaza: 3rd Floor, 999 Ploenchit Rd, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Tel: 02-656-1069 Fax: 02-656-1070
Food From aFar: Food For EvEryonE
Food guru Nateampai Sarakosass shares some of her special dishes. She does her bit for simple local produce, but nothing is lost in terms of taste.
ComE dInE WITH mE: THE anna rEsTaUranT & arT GallEry What do Anna Café, Anna & Charlie’s Café and the Anna Restaurant have in common? They are the same man’s story.
naHm BanGKoK Rediscovering forgotten favourites at chef David Thomson’s brand new Nahm Bangkok.
ComE ZEn WITH mE Learn how to get fit and green at the same time.
THE WELLNESS Food From aFar
Food for everyone Text by Nateampai Sarakosass / Photos by Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul
ripe fruit grown on the farm travels a long way before it arrives on our dinner table. Every step of the way, it touches so many lives: the farmer who grows it, waters it, and picks it; the factory worker who packs it; the merchant who sells it; the purchaser who buys it; the prep-cook who cleans it; the pastry chef who cooks it to perfection; and finally, it passes to us, who end up eating it. This, however, is only one potential scenario, which just concerns us solely, rather than being, as it were, for everyone else in the natural world. Imagine that the fruit ends up travelling on an entirely different journey. Instead of being picked by the farmer, it falls onto the ground, where a squirrel then finds it and brings it back to its family. After the squirrelâ€™s family enjoys a sumptuous feast, whatâ€™s left of the fruit then takes root in the ground and grows into a tree where flocks of birds nest in the branches; a spider spreads her web across the trunk; a monkey jumps through the branches; and wild mushrooms grow at the base. Now, we can certainly say that food is indeed for everyone. Itâ€™s a key and inescapable part of nature. The methods for producing food, therefore, should be nurtured and preserved, especially one particular food system that is great for our world: local food. Local food helps us save money and resources that we, otherwise, end up spending on packaging, storage and transportation. Having said that, mangos from Spain are as good as mangos you can buy from your local farmer if you know the best way to prepare and to enjoy them. At the same time, however, a Thai mango does not always have to end up in a stereotypical Thai Mango Sticky Rice dish. To prove this, I decide to prepare a selection of internationally inspired dishes using simple ingredients such as fish, eggplants and onions which can easily be found locally. I do my bit for local produce, yet at the same time nothing is lost in terms of taste.
REd SNappER WiTH BRaiSEd SpRiNg ONiON fried Snapper 150 g Red snapper 1 tbs Olive oil 2 tbs Butter A pinch of salt and pepper • • • •
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and the butter in a pan. When the pan is hot, add the seasoned fish. Fry the fish for three minutes on each side or until the fish turns brown.
Braised Spring onion ½ cup Sliced spring onion 3 cloves Garlic (sliced) 2 tbs Olive oil ½ cup Fish stock 1 tbs Finely chopped parsley A dash of lemon juice A pinch of salt and pepper • Heat the oil in a pan. Add the spring onion and garlic. • Sauté the ingredients for a few minutes, then season with
salt and pepper. • Add the fish stock and simmer for a few minutes. • Off the heat. Spoon the spring onion off the stock. Put aside
until use. • Bring the braising liquid back to full heat, add a dash of
lemon and chopped parsley, then take it off the heat and put aside until use.
Sauteed Beetroot 1/2 Beetroot (sliced to small strips) 1 clove Garlic (sliced) 2 tbs Olive oil 1 tbs Finely chopped parsley A pinch of salt and pepper • Heat the oil in a pan, add the beetroot strips and garlic. • Sauté the ingredients for a few minutes, season with salt and
pepper, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. • Take off the heat and put aside until use.
Julee Plum Gastrique ½ cup Sugar ½ cup Vinegar 250 g Julee plum A pinch of salt • Add all the ingredients into a pot then bring it almost to
the boil. • Reduce the heat to low, simmer for another five minutes. • Take the gastrique off the heat, mash all the plum, push
through a strainer, then put aside until use.
To Assemble: • Place the beetroot in the centre. Add the fish on to the top. • Spoon the braising juice on to the top of the fish. • Garnish the fish with braised spring onion and drizzle the
gastrique around it.
EggpLaNT BRuScHETTa 1 1 1 1 4 cloves 5 tbs 1 tbs ½ tbs 20 slices 1 tbs ½ cup
Purple eggplant Yellow bell pepper Red bell pepper Onion Garlic (sliced) Olive oil Salt Black pepper Baked sliced baguette Finely chopped parsley Vegetable stock or chicken stock
• Char the bell pepper over the stove, then peel off the burnt skin and
slice the bell pepper into strips. • Slice the eggplant and onion into strips. • Heat the pan with olive oil, then add the garlic, onion, bell pepper
and eggplant. • Sauté the ingredients for a few minutes on a high heat setting, add
the stock and simmer down the vegetables until soft, then season with salt and pepper. • Add the chopped parsley, sauté the ingredients for another minute, then take it off the heat. • Spoon the vegetable stew on to the top of the slices of baked baguette.
THE WELLNESS CoME DINE WITH ME
A delicious twist on an old classic Text and photos by Akkarin Satitpatanapan
What do Anna Café, Anna & Charlie’s Café and the Anna Restaurant have in common? They are the same man’s story.
he beginning was back in the 1990’s when a veteran Thai chef who started off in San Francisco came back to his home country and opened a restaurant. Inspired largely by the movie Anna and the King, Charlie Chananudech came up with a name that would be neutral and easily caught by both Thai and non-Thai patrons while reflecting a place where both worlds met — food. Thus, the name “Anna” (a la Mrs. Leonowens) was borrowed. Charlie started Anna Café in 1997 serving selections of Thai, Western and fusion dishes. Known for quality home-style cuisine and a relaxing atmosphere, it soon became a popular spot for casual dining with an accumulating number of loyal fans of all ages. Within years, Anna exploded from a 10-table diner to 150-table dining hall. Due to leasing problems, the first Anna closed down in 2007. Two years later, Anna quietly returned as Anna & Charlie’s Café, a larger establishment that brought favourite dishes to a new home. Just a couple years after Anna & Charlie’s signed was lit, Charlie decided to move out and join his family and friends in the cosier, bigger place: The Anna Restaurant & Art Gallery. This latest “Anna” restaurant is hidden under the nose of a busy business district just off the noise of Silom. The century-old mansion’s lean white inertia was refurbished and separated into different rooms of various sizes, each brightened with either vividly painted or patterned walls, toned down with chequered mocha ‘n’ latte tiles and complimented with green shades of proportionate trees. The restaurant also features an art gallery on its second floor with exhibitions every now and again. I nibble Casablancan-Style Lamb Curry while eagerly bobbing every few seconds as Charlie shares his stories of Anna and each menu item, such as how camel meat and freshly-squeezed camel milk were originally used in the very dish I was having before he re-engineered it to lamb and sour cream. For all menu items, Charlie opts for locally available products rather than aimlessly hunting for Yeti in a tropical country. This is subtle way to tune the food to fit the local patron’s tastes. Every dish here has character. The Anna Salad — mixed fresh greens with prawn, chicken and ham in vinaigrette dressing with a twist of sesame oil — is very refreshing and is always a good starter. Two great main courses are Duck a la Orange, a classic roast duck breast with orange sauce made from Sunkist orange, and The President’s Salmon, the same recipe that was made for George Bush, Sr., a baked salmon fillet stuffed with crab meat, shrimp and cheese with Charlie’s special strawberry sauce. For dessert, Chocolate Crepe Amour, chocolate crepe cake with thick chocolate sauce, and Panna Cotta Fresh Fruit, panna cotta served in cocktail glasses with fresh strawberry, kiwi, blueberry and dragon fruit, make the meal complete. If you’re a fan of Anna, everything from the all-time favourite Green Curry to the original Toffee Banoffee Cake and — surely — Charlie himself, rejoice. All menus were carried over along with an increasing number of newly-added scrumptious creations from Charlie’s own kitchen. The Anna Restaurant & Art Gallery 27 Soi Piphat, North Sathorn Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 Thailand T: +66 (0) 2237 2788-9 F: +66 (0) 2235 5341 E: email@example.com W: www.theannarestaurant.com
Lifestyle + Travel Special Promotion
GaGGenau A n i n n ovAt i o n l e A d e r in design And technology
n established German manufacturer of high-quality home appliances, Gaggenau has long been acknowledged as an innovative leader in design and technology. With a history that goes back more than 300 years, Gaggenau has helped to revolutionise the domestic kitchen with their internationally acclaimed products. In November 2010, BSH Home Appliance Ltd Thailand opened the Gaggenau Experience Centre in Bangkok, which features all of Gaggenau’s new products and its portfolio, including electric and induction cook-tops, gas, ventilation systems, dishwashers, modular refrigeration, freezer columns and wine storage units. The centre also offers specialty appliances such as steamers, grills and deep fryers, as well as the Asian-influenced tappanyaki. For the Gaggenau ovens, including the combi-steam oven, and the fully automatic espresso machine, the distinct look of the appliances is defined by their compact LCD control clock and timer. The multipleglazed doors can be opened at full height from the side, either to the left or to the right, depending on how you choose to install them. The high-visibility glass frontages made from high-quality transparent glass are capable of resisting temperatures of up to 485°C. Gaggenau uses only materials with superb aesthetic qualities and durability: stainless steel, aluminium, brass, cast iron, enamel and glass. Thus every appliance possesses qualities that are truly unique and a stylish look that precisely embodies its character. With the new Vario Cooling 200 series, Gaggenau has taken this concept to new heights, using an innovative approach to maximise space efficiency. The modular Vario cooling 200 series introduced for Gaggenau’s Thailand collection incorporates two fully integrated models (RF287 and RC289), boasting high performance energy ratings coupled with excellent energy efficiency values. These superb appliances are at the top of their range with the lowest energy consumption of their peer group. A live demonstration area at the centre hosts a series of events and cooking classes, with professional chefs demonstrating how to operate each Gaggenau appliance. The demonstration area also includes a training room for up to 15 persons, along with display walls exhibiting the different ranges of appliances. The new showroom is not only used to exhibit premium kitchen appliances, but also hosts live culinary demonstrations and wine-tasting. The new showroom fully incorporates the distinctive Gaggenau design and is fully in tune with the Gaggenau brand philosophy. Furthermore, in many product categories there are new and exciting appliances frequently represented within the showroom. To help create a better understanding of the brand, the Gaggenau showcase also exhibits an exploded oven door, which helps visitors to fully visualise the quality and aspirations that are essential to every product.
Gaggenau is currently represented in more than 50 countries, with flagship showrooms in many major cities around the world, and the brand continues to lead the way in the development of high quality kitchen appliances. Stop by our showroom to see the latest innovations firsthand. The difference is Gaggenau. Gaggenau Thailand BSH Home Appliances Ltd. Ital Thai Tower, No. 2034/31-39, 2nd floor, New Petchburi Road, Bangkapi, Huay Kwang Bangkok 10310 Thailand T: +66 (0) 2769 7900 F: +66 (0) 2769 7901 W: www.gaggenau.com opening hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Monday-Friday, except weekend and public holiday)
THE WELLNESS CoME DINE WITH ME
TrAdiTion reborn Text by Richard Herriot
Rediscovering forgotten favourites at chef David Thomson’s brand new Nahm Bangkok.
inding decent Thai food in Bangkok can hardly be described as a difficult task. But finding a Thai restaurant that is unique in terms of character and style and that offers cuisine different than run of the mill Pad Thai and Som Tam dishes can be much trickier. However, I had high hopes when I travelled to Bangkok to visit the Bangkok branch of Nahm, which had recently been opened in September 2010. For already this restaurant is, in its own way, unique. Nahm is the brainchild of the Australian-born celebrity chef David Thompson, who is internationally renowned for preparing traditional Thai cuisine, so much so that Nahm London won the first-ever Michelin star for Thai cooking in Europe. Despite this, however, there have been well publicised doubts within Thai circles as to whether a non-native chef could really grasp what Thai cooking was all about and really be able to offer anything that stands out as different and classic.
ONLy ONE Way TO fiNd OuT…
Walking into the venue, I could immediately tell that this restaurant is different from many traditional Thai venues, basically because it doesn’t look Thai at all. There are none of the usual representations of Thai-ness in the decor or the design, no flashy ornaments, shrines, valuable antiques or ostentatious ceremonial costumes to be found anywhere in this 95-seat venue. Instead, the space is comfortable yet airy, with a quiet outdoor seating area next to the swimming pool, with the staff dressed simply but smartly, helping to create a chic atmosphere without trying too hard. The actual menu at Nahm is designed around signature dishes from Nahm London, plus new local creations based on ingredients available only in Thailand and which are aimed at a local Thai clientele. With this fact in mind,
I began my meal with a choice of canapes that include Southern grilled mussels and Blue Swimmer Crab, Peanuts and Pickled Garlic on Rice Cakes. I don’t really enjoy shellfish, generally speaking, but I am very pleasantly surprised by how delicious the softly-smoked juicy mussels actually are. Their sweet barbecue flavour and the Thai herbs make them positively melt in my mouth, and the fresh crab is, despite my reservations, very tasty as well, with just enough garlic used to give the dish a distinctive flavour without being too dominant an ingredient. Moving onto the main courses, these are naturally prepared and shared in a traditionally Thai fashion and, of course, served with generous portions of white rice. The fusion of the two bastions of Thai cuisine, seafood and white meat, in the White Turmeric Salad with Prawns, Pork and Chicken is particularly successful, with the dish possessing a sweet yet also a sharp spicy flavour. As for strange and unique dishes, the Crab and Snake Gourd Soup also scores top marks for originality and flavour, and tastes a lot better than it sounds. My personal favourite is the Coconut and Turmeric Curry of Blue Swimmer Crab with Calamansi Limes, which is deliciously creamy, and I am able to truly appreciate the type of dish I usually shy away from, which is about as close to a full-on recommendation that I can find for it, though the portion isn’t huge and at THB 540 its at the top end compared to standard restaurant prices in Bangkok. But it is well worth the price. As for side dishes, the Stir-fried Assorted Mushrooms with Spring Onions and Ginger, though I personally couldn’t quite stretch to eating them myself, are enjoyed by my companions To round off the meal, we are presented by the restaurant’s signature Mandarin in Perfumed Syrup, which is served with a selection of mixed fruit. Personally I am not a big fan of Thai desserts in the main, but the dish is pleasantly sweet. The fruit selection alongside it is fresh, but a little bit basic, the usual pineapple, melon, watermelon combination, and the dish at THB 240 is perhaps a little bit steep. Despite its being not exactly cheap (though the set menu offers good value at THB 1500), it certainly gets the thumbs up from my Thai companions, so if you happen to be in Bangkok and are on the lookout for original and high quality Thai food, Nahm is well worth stopping by. Nahm Bangkok Metropolitan Bangkok, 27 South Sathon Road, Thung Maha Mek, Sathon, Bangkok 10120 Thailand T: +66 (0) 2625 3388 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.metropolitan.bangkok.como.bz/eat-and-drink/nahm
THE WELLNESS CoME ZEN WITH ME
THRee simple changes to get fit and green at the same time Text by Leo Babaauta
ve been trying to change my life for awhile now: simplifying, getting fitter and healthier, trying to get greener. Over the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of research into reducing my carbon footprint as well. While there are hundreds or even thousands of things we can do to reduce the resources we consume and the emissions we produce, I’ve been focusing on three areas that have (among) the biggest impact. One of the greatest things I’ve noticed is that these three changes not only help you to become greener, but go a long way toward improving your health (and helping you to be more frugal). Going green and being healthier and fitter often go hand in hand. And while I’m far from perfect, even in these three areas, I’d like to share some of my thoughts and findings with you, in the hopes that you’ll look into and perhaps consider these changes yourself.
Namely, cycling and walking. While cars are seen as convenient, even the greenest cars use up tons of resources (literally) and contribute greatly to greenhouse emissions. Autos are one of the biggest emissions contributors in most people’s daily lives. While not everyone is going to go car-free all the time, we can reduce the amount we use cars.
I’ve been walking more, as have Eva and the kids, to parks, playgrounds, the library, meetings, restaurants, movies, things like that. Walking is an amazing form of transportation — you barely use any resources or have any emissions (other than your breath), and you get really fit walking around. Cycling is something I also love, although I’m in between bikes right now and looking out for a good used bike (I prefer used as it means I’m reducing the amount of resources I consume). Cycling for transportation takes some getting used to, I’ll admit, but it’s another incredible way to get around by consuming very few resources and emitting just about zero pollution, while getting in great shape. Seriously, I highly recommend this — try it for a couple weeks and you’ll see that it’s a very satisfying way to live. Mass transit, of course, is another great form of transportation, although in places like Guam it’s a bit more difficult as we don’t have a very good transit system. I’ve tried using it and it’s extremely inconvenient if you have to be anywhere within a couple of hours. I loved the transit system in Tokyo, however, and would use that all the time if I were living there. Try to use human-powered transportation more often — you’ll love it. It really helps put you in touch with the outdoors, and takes you out of the confinement of cars, out of the frustration of traffic, and reduces the amount you spend on gas and maintenance. Someday, I’m going to go car-free, and I hope I’ll take all of you with me.
VEgETariaNiSm or VEgaNiSm
Or, if that sounds too difficult, start by just reducing your meat consumption. From GreenWikia: “More land has to be put into agricultural production to produce meat than to produce plant products. Because the methane they belch is 23 times more effective at retaining heat than CO2, domestic animals contribute more to global warming than all human transportation combined.” Becoming vegetarian (and especially vegan) is one of the changes you could make with the biggest impact on the environment. If we all gave up meat and other animal products, we’d have enough food to (theoretically, at least) feed the world (most of the food we produce goes to raising animals for meat, milk and eggs), and we’d drastically cut down on the amount of pollution and greenhouse emissions. Becoming vegetarian doesn’t have to be difficult — in fact, it can be a lot of fun if you explore new foods and ethnic cuisines. And while becoming vegan or vegetarian does not guarantee that you’ll be healthier, most vegetarians are healthier (on average) than the average American. If you replace (usually fatty) meat and other animal products with fruits and veggies and whole grains and legumes, you’ll get healthier. If you replace them with french fries and Twinkies, you won’t. I’m not saying that you’re evil if you eat meat or drink milk, or that you’re necessarily unhealthy. It’s definitely possible to eat healthy with animal products in your diet. But I am saying it’s something you should consider, for the sake of the environment … and if you get healthier in the meantime, that’s a nice side benefit.
This is a pretty simple (though not necessarily easy) step that can make a huge difference in all areas of your life: how many resources you consume, how healthy you are, how much you spend, how much clutter you have. Buy less, use less, eat less — get away from loving and buying stuff. It’s interesting because when we try to become greener, many of us automatically look to buying green products … which is good, when you do have to buy something, but actually, buying fewer products overall is better than going out and buying a bunch of environmentally-conscious type products. By consuming fewer products, clothes, gadgets, furniture … stuff … you’ll use fewer resources and contribute less to landfills. When you buy something, a lot of resources were used not only for the materials needed to make the product (wood, paper, metal, plastic, cotton, etc.), but to harvest those materials, to manufacture the product, to package it, to transport it to the store or to your door. Get into the habit of buying less, needing less, and when you do get something you need, get it used if possible. You’ll end up spending less money as well. By consuming less food, you’ll (likely) get healthier. Well, not if you’re underweight — you probably need more food actually. But for those of us who have a few extra kilogrammes (or a lot of extra kilogrammes), eating less is just what the doctor ordered. Fewer calories means you’ll lose weight, and if you add to that a regimen of walking and cycling, eating less meat and consuming more plant foods, you’ll definitely get healthier. Eating less food doesn’t mean you need to starve yourself — just eat smaller portions. Eat slower and more mindfully. That takes practice, but learn this habit over time and you’ll save not only your waistline, but your budget and a lot of resources as well.
a Green ParadiSe
Take a green journey through the desert kingdom of Jordan.
Borneo Island boasts plenty of open spaces to enjoy and rugged national parks and UNESCO World Heritage-listed wilderness sites worthy of a visit.
New Zealand has a rich natural environment, which is protected in ways that range from vast national parks to the everyday actions of individual people.
ToP 10 â€œGreenâ€? MuST-ViSiTS around THe World Check out 10 of the best places around the world where you can travel responsibly.
Opening spread: The vast desert spaces of Wadi Rum.
A GrEEN JOUrNEy THrOUGH THE DESErT KINGDOm Text by Lara Dunston / Photos by Terence Carter
hey sneak up behind us and tap us on the shoulders, these dramatic, desolate, deep valley views. The tarred road before us turns a corner, disappearing behind the bend, before dipping down then snaking up the steep baked mountain on the other side. We have driven an hour from Amman, the hilly capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a haven of calm and stability in an increasingly volatile Middle East. We’ve passed through countless nondescript towns and villages, so this striking scene — an arid gorge, above it a barren plateau, and beyond that, another colossal, scorched mountain range — is startling. Bereft of trees, its gravelly sands shifting from shades of cream to terracotta, russet to slate, this stark moonscape appears hostile to these strangers. It makes me wonder, as it will over the coming days, whether the Arab tradition of hospitality that is so welcoming and so gracious was an inevitable consequence of living in such an uncongenial environment. The unforgiving landscape makes the views of the oasis that soon reveals itself even more astonishing. Perched on a rocky ridge, a camel-coloured building, topped by a crenellated tower, blends in so imperceptibly with the parched mountains behind it that we barely discern its outline. Surrounded by luxuriant gardens, with a swimming pool, and beneath the cliff a natural rock pool, this sanctuary is the Evason Ma’In resort, and a little further down the valley is the Six Senses Spa, built — in the sandstone typical of Jordan — to take advantage of the hot springs that cascade into the spa’s swimming pool. This is where my photographer husband and I will begin a two-week journey through Jordan. Our goal is to experience the “greening” of a country forever famous for the spectacular seared landscapes that were the setting for British director David Lean’s epic film Lawrence of Arabia. We’re here to try an array of eco-friendly experiences that are
the outcomes of a national commitment to developing more sustainable tourism — the challenges of which strike me on this drive to Ma’in. While I know from my high school history lessons that Jordan was once part of the lush Fertile Crescent, where the mighty Euphrates, Tigris and Nile rivers allowed great ancient civilisations to flourish. As I look around us now, all I see is a dry-as-a-bone landscape. Tourism is one of Jordan’s main sources of income and tourists use water. Yet water in Jordan, and the region more generally, is an increasingly scarce commodity. Water that once flew from rivers into the nearby Dead Sea has long been diverted into pipes that carry it to homes, farms and factories. The same thing is happening on the other side of the “sea,” in Israel and the occupied Palestinian West Back. As a result, this body of salty water that has long been a magnet for tourists, who love to float on its buoyant surface, is evaporating. The surface area of what at 330 metres deep and 420 metres below sea level — the world’s deepest hyper-saline lake in the world — has been reduced by a third. In the late afternoon we take another dramatic drive to the clifftop Panorama lookout, where we savour the apricot and tangerine hues of the sunset over the Dead Sea, before savouring succulent grilled meats, including garlicky shish taouk from local chicken and lamb at nearby farms. As we gaze over the monumental expanse of water, illuminated by moonlight tonight, we see the faraway lights of Jerusalem flickering in the distance.
This page: Curious camels at Wadi Rum. Opposite page (clockwise from top left): Arabian Oryx at Shaumari Wildlife Reserve; Six Senses Spa at Evason Ma’In Resort; a worker at the organic kitchen at Evason Ma’In Resort; foul, a local breakfast tradition, made with fresh organic produce at Evason Ma’In Resort.
We wake shortly after dawn to do a brief but invigorating hike around the rocky rim of the valley overlooking the resort. It’s good preparation for a longer hike we’ve planned in a couple of days. From the hill overlooking the hotel we see neat rows of herbs and vegetables growing in the rich red soil. “We grow our own herbs,” Chef Hamzeh tells us later when we visit his organic garden, showing us a basket of fragrant basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, mint, coriander and dill he has just picked. “And fruit — apples, lemons and grapes — and vegetables — eggplant, corn, tomatoes, and chillies… and we also produce our own olives — we all participated in the harvest, even the general manager. We got 36 litres of olive oil from the last press,” he says with pride. We get to try Chef Hamzeh’s homegrown produce at lunch, which includes fresh carrot soup and sublime slow-cooked chicken with sumac, onions and olive oil. Even more special is our traditional dinner of zarb, a local dish of layered lamb, vegetables and rice that is cooked for three and a half hours underground in a pit of coals by the resort’s zarb specialist Abu Basher and the other Bedouin staff. We round off our feast with aromatic tea and coffee also made over coals. Our drive to our next stop, Feynan Eco-Lodge, Jordan’s first ecoaccommodation, takes us south on the Dead Sea-Aqaba Highway, where we stop along the way to take photos of the glassy lake, emerald green in the shallow waters, and the dramatic white rings of salt around the edge of this colossal bathtub. As photogenic as the white markings are, contrasting sharply with the russet rock above and aquamarine water below, sadly, we realise they’re evidence of the Dead Sea’s loss of water. We drive along a rocky plain, dotted with ramshackle houses and diminutive mosques, and verdant farmlands. Everywhere there are watermelons! Heading off the highway, our driver follows the directions
we’ve been given by Nabil Tarazi, head of Eco-Hotels, who is managing a number of environmentally-friendly projects in Jordan in partnership with the Royal Society for Conservation and Nature (RSCN) and their eco-tourism division Wild Jordan. A few dead ends and several phone calls later, our driver finally finds our drop-off point where we’re transferred to a sturdy Toyota Land Cruiser for a bumpy ride to the eco-lodge, located in the 320-squarekilometre Dana Biosphere Reserve. The transport service is outsourced to some 40-odd local Bedouin farmers, who use their work vehicles to carry guests to and from the lodge, thereby reducing the property’s environmental footprint, while supplementing local incomes. As we’ll appreciate over the coming days, it’s simple ideas like these — making do with existing transport instead of adding additional chauffeurs and fancy vehicles — that are making a difference. After a dusty drive through more stony moonscapes, dotted with chocolate-coloured Bedouin goat-hair tents and a smattering of Byzantine ruins, we arrive at Feynan Eco-Lodge, a squat, two-storey, sand-coloured concrete structure built upon a site at the mouth of Wadi Feynan previously used by archaeologists. If it weren’t for the shiny solar panels on the rooftops, the building would blend in completely with the rocky mountain behind it. We’re welcomed to the 26-room lodge by Nabil, a JordanianPalestinian with a warm smile, who was inspired to start Eco-Hotels after a backpacking trip around Australia and Southeast Asia. “In Northern
Opposite page: Views from the top of Jebel Rum, 1734 metres above sea level, at Wadi Rum. This page (clockwise from top left): Guide Mohammed leads the way on a trek in Dana Biosphere; the elusive blue Sinai Agama lizard at Dana Biosphere; local sheep wranglers in the frontier town of Azraq; the lush Azraq Wetland Reserve.
“When I returned to Jordan, I was camping at Wadi Rum with friends and I realised Jordan was missing something… those kinds of experiences I had in Asia.”
Laos, I stayed in a tree-house surrounded by nature and spent time with locals, and in Myanmar I went on a trek with just seven people and two guides and learned about Buddhism. It was so beautiful and authentic,” Nabil tells us as we tour the lodge. “When I returned to Jordan, I was camping at Wadi Rum with friends and I realised Jordan was missing something… those kinds of experiences I had in Asia.” Inspired, Nabil prepared a business plan and soon after signed an agreement with the RSCN. Their aim is to develop eco-friendly, naturebased accommodation and authentic, educational experiences that give something back to the local community while having a minimal impact on the environment. Designed by Ammar Khammash, an architect who employs traditional and modern techniques, Feynan Eco-Lodge is a superb model for eco-friendly accommodation. Inspired by old caravanserai and Yemeni architecture, on the exterior walls perpendicular stone slabs deflect the sun’s rays, while inside various terraces, stairwells and courtyards carry cooling breezes throughout the building. Solar panels provide most of the lodge’s energy and hot water, while batteries store power for cloudy days. Water, used sparingly and strictly controlled, comes from a natural
spring. Waste created by the lodge is recycled or composted, serving as fertiliser for nearby farms, while waste from olive pressing is used to light fireplaces in the evenings during winter. Reusable materials such as recycled glasses are used while clay urns store water in guest rooms. Local Bedouin women are paid to bake traditional bread served at the lodge each day, while at a nearby leather workshop we visit women employed to make lampshades and other decorative objects for the lodge that are also sold as souvenirs; at another lodge, locals produce soap used at all RSCN lodges. At an atelier on site, women make candles that serve as the main source of lighting. Illuminated entirely by candlelight, the lodge is enchanting at night. The men? When they’re not working their farms, they’re providing the transport or working as rangers or guides. Abu Abdullah, who we meet when he invites us for tea in his goat-hair tent — we sit cross-legged on mats on the dirt, and it will be the first of many similar invitations and encounters we have with the Bedouin during our trip — tells us with pride that it’s his responsibility to monitor the water levels at the spring and coordinate donkeys and camels for treks. After a short rest under the mosquito net in our surprisingly cool room, where a light breeze wafts from the small balcony that’s shaded by leather curtains, we head downstairs to meet our guide for a sunset stroll. Holding a degree in archaeology and tourism, 29-year-old Salha is one of 17 locals employed by the lodge, and, as she tells us as we walk, she loves her job. When she was an archaeologist she only had work for three months of the year; now she works full-time, leading guests on various activities. As we climb up the rocky hill, Salha briefs us on the history of copper mining in the area, dating back to the Bronze Age and Roman times. Not only is Salha a font of knowledge, after clambering up to her prime sunset viewing spot, we soon discover that she lights a fast fire and makes a delicious fragrant black tea with thyme.
Our evening consists of a romantic moonlit dinner — a generous buffet of traditional Arabic and Bedouin dishes — eaten at a table on the outdoor terrace, accompanied by more cool breezes and silence broken only by the occasional tinkling of goats’ bells on the hillside, and tea on the rooftop under the stars. We retire early, sleeping deeply until we’re woken by the golden light and warmth of the sunrise on our faces. After a breakfast of flat bread, olives, hommus, cheese, fruit and black tea, Nabil and a guide Mohammed drive us five thousand metres up the mountain — an edge-of-your-seat drive for most of the way. After taking in the breathtaking valley views from the terrace of Dana Guesthouse on the canyon rim and clambering about the Ottoman ruins of Dana, a 6,000-year-old Nabatean village (soon to be rebuilt) with terraced gardens of fig, plum and apricot trees, we begin our 14-kilometre descent. Our hike will last the entire day — including stops for bird-watching, wildlife spotting, a lunch of flat Arabic bread with salad and goats cheese, and steaming hot tea which Mohammed makes on a small fire — returning us, our shirts soaked in sweat, to the lodge at sunset. The hike, mainly downhill on easygoing dirt paths, but also involving some challenging scrambling around stone cliffs that should be left to the goats, takes us through four different bio-geographical zones from the top to the bottom of the mountain, which is what makes Dana’s bio-diversity so special — from 1,600 metres above sea level where we begin where it’s Mediterranean, with oak, juniper and pistachio trees, and vultures and eagles swooping high in the sky, through an Irano-Turanian zone at 800 metres that’s fragrant with wild mint and sage, to a Sudanian system at 400 metres where acacias provide shade and lizards bask in the sun, and finally to the arid Sudanian desert zone below sea level, where the lodge lies. There are more than 800 plant species, some of which Mohammed points out along the way, a huge variety of wildlife, including 190 bird
species, 37 mammals and 36 reptiles, including rare species like the Syrian Serin, Blanford’s fox and Nubian ibex, the last of which we’ll be lucky to spot when I see the beautiful creature with curved horns clinging magically to the vertical mountainside. The only life we see at the great Nabatean capital of Petra, where we detour next for a few days — how can we resist, when it’s so close, virtually just over the mountain range? — are the masses of tourists, mostly in big groups, touts selling trinkets at every turn, and everywhere annoying guys offering horseback and camel rides. Our accommodation is at a charmless European chain hotel. The experiences are a shock to the system that have us yearning for candlelight and handmade soaps again. We decide to head to Wadi Rum, the jawdropping desert wilderness that David Lean made famous in his movie, for a couple of nights camping in a Bedouin goat hair tent. The 720-square-kilometre Wadi Rum is a protected area, but it’s not managed by the RSCN, and the differences between it and Dana Biosphere are obvious. The vast empty landscape isn’t as pristine as it should be and fourwheel-drives carve up the smooth sands as they charge across the desert. We see beetles and lizards, and plenty of birdlife, although our guide Radi, probably not the most enthusiastic of guides, doesn’t know their names.
Opposite page (clockwise from top left): A lone goat at Wadi Feynan; a traditional old mosque, Wadi Feynan; Bedouin woman at the leather-making workshop, Feynan Eco-Lodge; locally grown lemons at Feynan Eco-Lodge. This page (from left): A visitor exploring Qasr Kharaneh; the UNESCO World Heritage-listed frescoes at Quseir Amrah.
Regardless, we find our mouths constantly agape and our hands continually reaching for our cameras, as we explore the area on wheels and on foot. We bounce through vast empty desert valleys in Radi’s Toyota Landcruiser, surrounded by a maze of monumental granite and sandstone mountains, sliced by skinny gorges, that rise from the red sands. We climb mountains for birds-eye-views of the breathtaking scenery, and scramble atop rocks near our campsite to savour the sunsets, sunrises and silence. Just as Petra was a disappointment, so is another over-the-top Dead Sea resort where we retreat for a couple of nights to remove the sand embedded in our pores and finally experience what it’s like to fully float on top of water. It’s fun, like nothing we’ve experienced before, bringing smiles to our faces. That is, until the salt stings my eyes when I forget and open them. When I shut them again it’s as if sand paper is being rubbed on my eyeballs. With three hundred and something rooms, countless swimming pools, an array of restaurants and imported sand on its beach, I can’t help but wonder how much water the resort is using… From the Dead Sea we drive out to the desert again, the Eastern Desert, a harsh, flat, flinty land stretching to Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq. The area is famous for its well preserved Ummayyad-era Desert Castles, such as the grand 8th century Qasr al Kharanah, once a caravanserai, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Quseir Amra, a lodge and bathhouse richly decorated with frescoes of hunting scenes, dancing girls, camels and gazelles. We don’t see camels, gazelles or dancing girls at Azraq Lodge, another RSCN property we check into for our final two nights, but we do see a large herd of handsome Arabian oryx and some cheeky ostriches at nearby Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, a successful breeding centre for threatened species. We also spot plenty of birdlife on an early morning walk at Azraq Wetland Reserve, a short stroll from the lodge through the dusty highway town of Azraq — once a resting place for pilgrims travelling between Damascus and Mecca, now a refuelling stop for truck drivers. The surprisingly lush oasis of Azraq wetlands is an important resting stop for migratory birds on the Africa-Eurasian flyway that was
restored by the RSCN after the natural spring dried up in the early 1990s, due to overuse and illegal water extraction. The RSCN installed artificial springs, encouraging the birds to return. We visit soon after sunrise, and while our local guide can’t speak English, he uses a bird handbook to help us identify different species. On our one-hour walk we spot juvenile herons, mallards, common kingfishers, longbilled dowitchers, African collared doves and a night heron, from wooden boardwalks and a mud-brick hide. It’s a very pleasant way to pass the time, as is our stay at Azraq Lodge, a renovated former 1940s British military hospital. There’s a cosy lounge with antique leather sofas and fascinating old photos, a screening room where documentaries are shown, and a restaurant where delicious Chechen food is dished up by a family of descendants of 19th century refugees from the Caucasus. The scrumptious food, especially the tasty dumplings, is a highlight of a stay here. Like Feynan, Azraq Lodge employs locals. The men, former hunters, work as staff and guides, while in the workshops on site the women produce souvenirs for the RSCN’s Wild Jordan shops: T-shirts, canvas bags, recycled paper, painted ostrich eggs, and those candles and handmade soaps I’d been missing a few days earlier. Sadly, the neighbouring Jordanian military base and the busy highway out front means the lodge lacks some of the magic of the more remote Feynan Eco-Lodge. However, we enjoy our time here far more than we did our stays at the big resorts at Petra and the Dead Sea. It’s the intimacy of Jordan’s eco-accommodation, the connection to local people, the authenticity of the experiences, and the knowledge that we’re giving something back that makes these places really special. Now, if only we could help do something about that little water problem.
Opposite page (from top): The majestic Qasr Kharaneh, one of Jordan’s famous Desert Castles; a Bedouin guard at Qasr Kharaneh; a mosque on the Dead Sea-Aqaba Highway; lush farmland on the Dead Sea-Aqaba Highway. This page (from left): The interior of the Qasr Kharaneh; a local musician at Quseir Amrah.
Getting there and getting around By air Arrive at Queen Alia International Airport (www.amman-airport. com) in Amman, the capital of Jordan, with Royal Jordanian Airlines (www.rj.com), which flies direct from Bangkok, or via Dubai with Emirates Airlines, or via Doha with Qatar Airlines. Most nationalities can obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport, but it’s best to check with the Jordanian embassy before departure. By car Jordan’s roads are good and cars can be rented at Queen Alia International Airport. However, unless you have experience driving in the Middle East, it’s best to hire a driver and car (organised through your hotel), take a Service Taxi (servees), or travel by bus (try the JETT bus company). Where to stay Book your stay at Feynan Eco-Lodge, Dana Guesthouse, Azraq Lodge, or any of the other lodges, guesthouses and campsites belonging to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) on the Wild Jordan section of their website: www.rscn.org.jo. A stay at the Evanson Ma’In Hot Springs can be booked at www.sixsenses.com. We arranged our Wadi Rum camping trip through Wadi Rum Mountain Guides (www.rumguides.com). Ask for an enthusiastic guide! Essentials • Jordan is best visited in spring and autumn. The weather in winter can be lovely during the day, but the nights can be cold, while summer can be scorching. • Begin planning your eco-trip to Jordan by spending some time on the excellent RSCN website: www.rscn.org.jo. • The Wadi Rum website has plenty of useful information on visiting this protected area: www.wadirum.jo. Useful websites Visit Jordan: www.visitjordan.com Wadi Rum: www.wadirum.jo
Opening spread: From the smallest mammals to the largest insects on earth, tropical rainforests are home to more than half of the world’s species of flora and fauna — humans included. It’s also the world’s largest natural pharmacy and, quite literally, a working lung and respiratory system for the whole planet. This green heaven is truly a cradle of life.
Be prepared to get wet if it rains,” says a sign on the open-air shuttle bus as it welcomes boarding passengers from Mulu Airport. It is the very first thing that tells me I am in the actual rainforest. The bus rumbles over a small concrete road for about 10 minutes before it stops in front of a reinforced wooden bridge that leads to the resort compound. Mulu is a little town in the northeastern part of Malaysia’s Sarawak state on the island of Borneo. The name was almost unheard outside of the island before it was listed as a World Heritage site in 2000. The town started out as a karst exploration hotspot in the 1970s that attracted hundreds of scientists and explorers from around the world before it quickly transformed into a nature-based tourism destination in Sarawak.
Long Lesat The longboat that takes my group around is not a sizable one but enough to accommodate up to seven passengers with light luggage plus a driver. For its size, the longboat we take is safe enough to run in most watercourses, even through rapids, with an advantage to shoal up to the shallow part — best suited for this trip. The driver takes off slowly, heading down Melinau River and skirting the natural boundary of Gunung Mulu National Park. Though I have been told that motion sickness could easily kick in, I find the ride even smoother than the bus we took from the airport. The only down side is that none of the boats have a roof and it is almost noon! A moment later, the driver takes a swift left turn into Tutoh River. The scene changes immediately as we enter the tributary. Above us, the white colour of the clouds is replaced by the green of the trees from both sides of the river, forming a long triangular tunnel of lush
leaves and vines. The driver slows down as the steam gets narrower, enough for passengers to exchange waves with a local logger working on the bank. The engine stops. We arrive at the part of Long Lesat creek where we plan to stop for lunch before moving on to the trekking part. We have to wade a short distance upstream to the picnic spot. I leave my flip-flops on the boat. But with the bed of rocks and pebbles of all sizes, walking barefoot is like having an involuntary foot massage — rather painful. I hobble slowly from one rock to the next. Finally, I make it with the group to the “diner.” It is in fact a patch of more pebbles piled up above the water level on one side. I grab a lunch box and quickly look for a spot to land my still-dry bum on. It is the first time that I really stop and look around. All the grace that a plain sandwich lunch lacks is suddenly made up for by the surrounding scenery of Long Lesat. Midday sun beams down through the cracks between the green ceiling, making soft pools of limelight here and there. Black mossy logs that cross the steam make a natural deck for budding orchids. The sound of the flowing steam and chirping insects becomes background music. I throw my head back and feel the moist cool air through my nostrils. Should there be a proper way to picnic in the jungle, this is it.
Long Iman After lunch, another short longboat ride takes us back to Long Iman, the Penan tribe village. Away from their nomadic origin, Penan people at Long Iman have gone through a settlement programme run by the government. More than 30 people are living in the semi-modern longhouse provided by the local authority with access to basic utilities and commodities, including television.
“We will leave nothing but our footprints. We will take nothing but our memories.” — Duke, a Mulu localguide. The local guide offers an optional trekking trip to the nearby waterfall. My feet would have said no but, as my curiosity won over, my right hand rises. The two-kilometre path that supposedly takes less than an hour turns out to be more demanding than anyone thought. The path is not steep; the terrain is a big problem, sometimes rocky but mostly muddy. Then we are left on our own, trampling through shrubs on a slippery path. Things get dirtier as we go farther. We start to slip and slide. Leeches become common visitors to our legs. At one point, I simply step off a log and then — in the blink of an eye — find my leg sunk into the chocolate-coloured mud up to my knee. After a few twists and turns, I get back up and laugh it off. I finally take off my overstretched rubber flop and pad my way barefoot, which makes my final quarter mile bliss. The waterfall, though small, is quite rewarding. Folks seem to have a good time bathing in the natural Jacuzzi after a full hour of uphill trekking. Light goes down faster than we anticipate — with a sky full of clouds, it is very hard to gauge the sun’s position. Light rain showers start to spray upon us as we pick our way down the mountain. With the guide staying back, looking after the last person, I am far ahead
of the main group. It is getting dark. With no one pointing the way, we take a few wrong turns and, to our surprise, exit through a different path which brings us to the other side of the longhouse.
muLu Canopy skywaLk Gunung Mulu National Park has gradually gained popularity as an adventurous destination over the past few years with numerous cavern systems waiting to be explored. Most show caves are open to the public while some of the more advanced passages require a license or a certificate from any accepted caving club. Additionally, alternative trekking and nature study routes are also available, such as the canopy walk — not for the faint-hearted, even if you are not acrophobic. Platforms of the canopy walk are placed as high as 30 metres above the ground and sustained by systems of ropes, wooden planks and bolsters that ingeniously suspend the boards in the air without dipping into the trees. With a total length of 480 metres, Mulu Canopy Skywalk is one of the longest tree-based canopy walkways in the world. It is almost unimaginable that all of these were built by slingshots and tree-climbing workers.
Opposite page: Natural foot spa on the Long Lesat river walkway. This page (clockwise from top left): A view from the jungle trekking path at Long Iman, where the muddy ground is hidden beneath a covering natural shrubbery; Mulu Park’s wooden walkway strongly resembles an anaconda slithering through the jungle; the dense canopy of the rainforest can reach as high as 45 metres above the ground; a quiet moment by the Long Iman Waterfall.
The platform reminds me of old springboards back at my high school’s swimming pool, despite the fact that the bridge sways in all directions. With both hands clutching on my camera, I shoulder-rub my way across each section while keeping the “2/7” pace (no more than two people on each bridge and seven people on each platform). Failure to do so might trigger an alarming “slowdown, man!” reaction from the people right ahead.
Lang Cave and deer Cave Luckily, we leave the canopy walk without a scratch and continue to another highlight. After a few minutes backtracking our way from the station and making a turn at the fork we skipped earlier, the plank walk leads to another attraction: Lang Cave and Deer Cave. Both caves are located just a few hundred metres away from each other, but are totally different in all aspects. Lang Cave is a small gallery of natural formations selectively lit to accentuate the size and shape of each part. Deer Cave, on the other extreme side, is the grandest of its kind with a 200-metre-high ceiling. I was warned not to drop my jaw when looking up to where thousands of bats roost in the dark. Both caves are dimly lit with automatic movement-sensor lights. Caution had to be taken at every step. Every day as the sun goes down, millions of bats come out of their dark caves, spiraling and swirling high above the forest, making a
long black streak against the backdrop of the twilight. Each time I hear people exclaim in different languages. The longer the ribbon, the louder it is. I sit there until the last minute before the sun goes down. What a finale, I think, as I listen to the sweet lullaby of the jungle on the way back. As a destination, Mulu is still young in its development and largely unspoilt by hordes of tourists, thanks to the limited flight options and the caring eye of the local authorities. Getting there alone is quite a test of endurance, but you will be rewarded with a unique tropical experience found nowhere else but here. Whether you are a thrill seeker or adventurer, or you simply want to get lost in the jungle, there is always a place for you in the vast rainforest of Borneo.
This page: The canopy Skywalk station will take you up to where half of the inhabitants in the forest reside — at its ceiling! Opposite page (clockwise from top left): The spectacular bat exodus from the Deer Cave. Each evening, up to three million bats stream out from the world’slargest cave passage and fly out across the evening skies for their daily feed; out of the dark of Lang Cave and into a sea of light and green leaves; a native pagoda flower at full blossom adds some vivid colour to the vast jungle floor; hoards of gigantic jellyfish stalactites (and other mineral formations) adorn the walls of Lang Cave.
Getting there and getting around By air MASwings, a Malaysian Airlines subsidiary, operates all rural flight services in Sarawak and Sabah, including Mulu. As there is no direct flight from out of Borneo, you will need to connect your flight at either Miri or Kota Kinabalu. Other major airlines that operate in the region include the Royal Brunei Airlines and Air Asia. By car No bus and no taxi in Mulu. Fortunately, larger hotels and resorts have their own shuttle bus services which may come at some cost. By boat Boat is a common (and probably the most efficient) mode of transportation in Mulu. A 10-hour boat trip from Miri to Mulu is also possible but not recommended. Contact the Visitor Information Centre in Miri for more information. Where to stay The Royal Mulu Resort CDT62, 98007 Miri, Sarawak, Borneo T: +60 85 792 388 F: +60 85 792 399 W: www.royalmuluresort.com Located just minutes away from Gunung Mulu National Park, the resort provides 188 rooms designed after the traditional longhouse with large numbers of facilities and services.
FACTS Essentials: • Insect repellent will help you have a more pleasant walk, but it’s best to bring a small bottle along as it will wash out quickly because of sweat and moisture (and it works well with leeches!). • “Be prepared to get wet if it rains.” Pocket ponchos or a raincoat are best, though a folding umbrella is better than the hotel’s laundry bag. It’s called rainforest for a reason! • Make sure to pack some extra clothes. You might have time to wash your dirty clothes, but it might take days to dry them out in the rainforest. • Always carry a bottle of drinking water and some energy snacks when you trek. The way back might take longer than you expect. • If you are new to any activity or have any personal limitation such as a fear of heights, claustrophobia, unable to swim, a physical injury or are allergic to certain bugs, inform your guide or simply skip the activity. Keep in mind that you can neither jump off the longboat in the middle of the river nor from the fifth platform of the canopy walk. • There is no “one size fits all” shoe; it is a matter of choice. Choose the one that is suitable to the activity and make sure you have broken in your shoes prior to the trip. An extra pair of beach sandals is always good to have. Useful websites: Sarawak Tourism Board: www.sarawaktourism.com/content.cfm Gunung Mulu National Park: www.mulupark.com Royal Mulu Resort: www.royalmuluresort.com
Gunung Mulu National Park Borsarmulu Park Management P.O. Box 2413, Miri, 98008 Sarawak, Malaysia F: +60 85 792 305 T: +60 85 792 300, +60 85 792 301 W: www.mulupark.com The park headquartres also provide accommodation services in bungalow, longhouse and dormitory styles (shared bathroom).
F l A W l E S S
Text and photos by Supachart Parisudhiyarn
t was in autumn of last year that I first visited the stunningly beautiful country of New Zealand and first met my best “cyber” friend in person. Our friendship and bonding had grown for a long time through the photos we had shared on our photography blogs. We had a lot in common: an interest in photography, a passion for travel and worship of freedom and serenity. I was thrilled at the chance to meet my “new” friend and visit the land of my dreams.
ew Zealand’s South Island is a gem. This secluded ecological retreat — rich in wetlands, estuaries, archaeological sites and beautiful Lord of the Rings locations — is a world apart dedicated to sustainability, conservation and restoration of ecosystems. Waking up in a land of endless horizons to a chorus of birds is truly paradise, a reminder that sometimes we need to pause and step away from the hustle, bustle and hassle of modern life, and enjoy the sounds and senses of nature, to tune in to our own bodies, minds and spirits. New Zealand is heaven for the photographer. Despite the light rains, I enjoyed the exquisite beauty of the clear blue skies and the tranquility that the place offered. At Lake Matheson, nature combines exactly the right ingredients to create stunning reflections of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. The waters of Lake Matheson are dark brown, so on a calm day they create the ideal reflective surface.
ew Zealand is world famous for its vibrant autumn colours when leaves change from their natural green to deep reddish browns and golds that dominate the landscape. I rarely put down my camera and quickly realised that I had made the right decision to visit. When I look at the photographs I took, I feel as though I just visited yesterday. And I can’t wait to return to this “land of dreams” once more.
Getting there and getting around By air Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.com), Qantas (www.qantas.com) and Jetstar (www.jetstar.com) are the main providers of air service in New Zealand. A vast variety of regional and international airlines fly to Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington and major cities on both north and south islands, including Emirates (www.emirates.com), Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) and more. Local charter/scenic flight operators are available at major tourist destinations. By car Driving around New Zealand is easy and probably the best way to explore the islands. Renting a car might cost more but will save you a lot of time while allowing you to visit more places at your own convenience. See www.apexrentals.co.nz, www.budget.co.nz or www. hertz.co.nz. For more cost-effective options, there are multiple bus and coach services to major destinations, ranging from single-pay unlimited pass, scheduled passenger service to charter coaches with your driver doing double duty as a local guide. Many tourist attractions and hotels provide local pick-up/drop-off services. For those who have more time, you might want to try one of New Zealand’s scenic railway journeys on South Island, which is among the top 10 in the world. For more info, visit www.newzealand.com/travel. By ferry North and South Islands are connected with ferry services that carry both passengers and vehicles (see www.interislander.co.nz). Water taxis and cruise ships are also available, recommended especially for scenic tours. Note that some of the famous destinations are best accessible via maritime services. Accompanying seagulls, dolphins, whales and seals are complimentary!
Where to stay There’s a place for everyone. South Island offers a full range of accommodation options from backpacker lodges, boutique B&Bs, farm stays to exclusive hideaways. Many accommodation providers offer additional discounts on fees to local attractions, such as national parks, zoos, museums, cultural dinner shows and more. Ask the person behind the counter for information on the most interesting places to visit. Motels on South Island include: Lake Tekapo: www.laketekapo-accommodation.co.nz Queenstown: www.bellavistamotels.co.nz Te Anau: www.ambercourtteanau.co.nz Fox Glacier: www.rainforestmotel.co.nz Christchurch: www.southerncomfort.co.nz Essentials • South Island is full of natural wonders that can be visited no matter the season. In summer, the grass is lush green and you can enjoy a long walking day without worrying that the sun will soon set. But in winter, daytime is very short and it may be a bit difficult to travel around due to the snow. But it’s also beautiful. • Autumn is the high and best season to visit New Zealand. During April and May, leaves change their colour and the green grass turns gold. But you have to manage your time as daylight is short and you may not be able to visit all the places you want to go. • There are many activities available, especially in Queenstown, such as bungee jumping, tandem skydiving and river rafting. • Give the “gold kiwifruit” a try. Originally a gooseberry from China, nurtured in the land of Kiwi’s soil (hence the name), its smooth bronze skin and golden flesh have a distinct colour in contrast to its hairy green cousin. Taster’s note: it’s sweet, like strawberry banana, with a texture like ripe pears. • Near Lake Tekapo, there’s a salmon farm where you have a bite of fresh salmon. Unfortunately, it’s not free!
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A World of BrilliAnt & UniqUe experiences
RaRely does one tRavel destination featuRe such a diveRsity of expeRiences, fRom the elegant chaRms of fine wine and cuisine, to the Rough and Ready woRld of wildlife and natuRal beauty. yet south austRalia not only caRRies this off with aplomb, it actually seems to define itself by this multiplicity. all this is centeRed aRound the beautiful modeRn city of adelaide, Renowned foR its good living.
FOOD & WINE TRAILS South Australia is a dominant player in the Australian wine industry, home to more than half of the nationâ€™s wine growing and production. Some of the most famous wine regions and biggest names in the country are located in South Australia, including Hardys, Orlando Wyndham, Penfolds, Rockford, Yalumba and Taylors. You can visit nine distinct wine regions within an hour and a half of Adelaide city centre, and the Kangaroo Island wine region is just a 30-minute flight away. Alternatively, discover why Eyre Peninsula accounts for 60 per cent of the stateâ€™s seafood, including oysters, tuna, rock lobster and abalone, by embarking on a Seafood & Aquaculture Trail (www.seafoodtrail.com).. This page: mclaren vale (left); adelaide hills (bottom).
Barossa Just over an hour’s drive from Adelaide, the Barossa region is a centre of culinary excellence and is undoubtedly the home of Australian wine. The area is home to over 60 wineries and cellar doors, including world renowned brands such as Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds and Wolf Blass. Here you can follow the “Butcher, Baker and Winemaker” trail and discover Barossa’s very own food culture. Visitors can sample homemade sauces, German sausages and metwurst, delicious patés, healthy dried fruits, cheeses and cakes. While in Barossa, you should also not miss the chance to take part in the Penfold’s Make Your Own Blend Tour, where you can be a wine maker for the day and create your own award-winning blend and put your own name on the seal! The Barossa boasts many fabulous award-winning dining venues. Vintners Bar & Grill and 1918 both offer excellent regional food and exciting domestic and international wines. Appellation at The Louise vineyard retreat offers fine dining inspired by fresh food, wine and produce from the Barossa region. For casual dining, don’t miss The Clubhouse, Valley Hotel or the Tanunda Hotel. At the historic Seppeltsfield Winery you can join one of the specially crafted tours that blend together heritage, history and wine, and you may get the chance to enjoy a century-old glass of port! mCLaren vaLe, FLeurIeu penInsuLa McLaren Vale is the Fleurieu Peninsula’s largest wine region and also the closest to Adelaide, offering over 50 cellar doors and a host of award winning vintages. The area is home to an eclectic mix of winemakers, grapegrowers, almond orchardists, refugees from the city, artists and craft workers — and they all know each other. Australia’s best almonds are also grown in the Willunga area and the olive oil produced here compares favourably to Italy’s finest. In McLaren Vale, you can take the Mount Compass Produce & Tourist Trail to find fresh blueberries, organically grown pheasants and quail, venison, marron (freshwater crayfish), strawberries and jams, rainbow trout and authentic French-style goat’s curd and feta cheeses, or thick, rich Jersey-milk cream and traditional farmhouse cheddars. Inspired by freshness and seasonality, accomplished chefs showcase fresh Fleurieu Peninsula produce in world class restaurants such as the Salopian Inn in McLaren Vale, Flying Fish Cafe in Port Elliot, Blues Restaurant at Goolwa, Fino in Willunga, and d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant in McLaren Vale. The Star of Greece at Port Willunga provides you with unrivalled views of the sea from its clifftop location. kangaroo IsLand good Food & wIne traILs Kangaroo Island (KI) is enjoying a food and wine renaissance with a growing number of producers, farm gates, cellar doors and restaurants opening their doors to visitors. You can take part in sheep milking at the Island Pure Dairy, sample Clifford’s famous honey ice cream or select your own lobster direct from the Ferguson family’s fishing depot. Jawdropping ocean views are matched with stunning local produce platters and wine pairings at the Dudley Wines or Sunset Winery cellar doors. Stokes Bay’s Rockpool Café serves delicious lunches and platters of seafood or fresh water marron, the famous freshwater crayfish native to the island. This dish can also be enjoyed at the Andermel Marron Café where visitors can take a tour of the fish farm and select a marron of their choice to be cooked by the café’s gourmet chef. This page: Wine & Dine, Barossa, and Vineyards, McLaren Vale (top); Oyster Tasting, Coffin Bay (left). Opposite page (clockwise from top left): Lobster Dish, Limestone Coast; Mayura Station’s Wagyu beef; At Mayura Station, chefs are preparing signature dishes; House Boat; Southern Ocean Lodge; The Louise.
LImestone Coast Food & wIne traILs The Limestone Coast offers an exotic and heady blend of seafood delights, rich agricultural heritage and creative cottage industry food producers. From the succulent seafood caught around the coast to its lamb, beef, wine and dairy products, the local reputation of the area stretches worldwide. Lacepede Seafood in Kingston SE offers fresh Southern Rock Lobster and other seafood varieties. Mahalia Coffee in Robe sources the best quality raw coffee beans from around the world then roasts and blends them to create a unique range of styles. For a
true paddock to plate experience, however, head to Mayura Station’s new Tasting Room — a cellar door devoted not to wine this time, but to Wagyu beef, a unique gastronomical experience. Cellar doors in the Coonawarra wine region of the Limestone Coast are located very close by to one another, making it very easy to find your way around. The unique terra rossa soil of this region, sitting on an unnaturally high water table of pure water which, along with the area’s temperate climate, helps to create ideal growing conditions for the vines and make this wine region unique and famous for the quality of their wines. At Wynns Estate, you can learn the art of blending your own wine and be able to come up with your own unique combination of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot. Whether you are a newcomer to wine, an aficionado, or just one of our well loved regulars, Coonawarra on the Limestone Coast will offer you an authentic experience tasting an extensive range of wine styles and varieties.
UNIQUE ACCOMMODATION Situated on the spectacular coastline of Hanson Bay, Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island’s first luxury lodge, offers great views and a timelessly natural experience. Each of the 21 suites has been designed with uncompromising sensitivity to the pristine environment, offering the prefect fusion of nature and luxury. Visits to the spectacular natural attractions of the island can also be arranged during off-peak times, so you are able to enjoy a private safari feel to your guided encounter. If you happen to be visiting the Barossa Valley, The Louise is a luxurious and idyllic vineyard retreat offering great views of the valley. With just 15 suites, each with private terraces, contemporary furnishing and spacious en-suite bathrooms, this hotel is the epitome of a romantic boutique hideaway. In-house guests can also join one of the Sommeliers from the hotel’s Appellation restaurant at a nearby winery for a 90-minute behind-the-scenes escorted tour, or join the Executive Chef at Barossa Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings for his weekly rounds of securing the freshest regional produce from the local markets, helping to make staying at The Louise a truly unique experience.
Alternatively, you can choose to cruise down the Murray River at your own pace, as the captain of your own houseboat. These can accommodate between two to 12 people, and standards range from budget to luxury. To become a houseboat captain, all you need is a driver’s license and they can be hired from either the Murraylands or the Riverland regions.
LUXURY SPA RETREATS South Australia is also home to a variety of spa venues that will help you to unwind and forget about the stresses of everyday life. Aquador Retreat is located in the scenic Adelaide Hills in a beautiful country setting, offering eight tastefully decorated and individual double bedrooms with ensuites and a licensed in-house cafe.Three hydrotherapy spas and three saunas (traditional, infrared and steam) lie next to a relaxation room overlooking a private courtyard, helping to create a perfectly soothing atmosphere. The Authenticity Health and Wellness Retreat found in the beautiful coastal township of Port Elliot, is just one hourâ€™s picturesque drive south of Adelaide. The Authenticity Retreat provides a serene environment where you can relax and rejuvenate your body, mind and soul. Here you can choose from a selection of healing massages, delicious body treatments, natural health consultations and also learn the ancient art of Yoga. There is also long stay accommodation available for those wishing to enjoy an extended visit to this delightful retreat.
South Australia is home to a huge variety of landscapes, botanical gardens, lush forests and national parks. One of the most beautiful natural wilderness areas in Australia and indeed the world is Kangaroo Island. Seven times the size of Singapore, Kangaroo Island is a natural wonderland, a wildlife sanctuary without fences. More than one third of the island is covered by national and conservation parks, a haven for many varieties of iconic Australian wildlife, which can be frequently encountered on the beaches, bushland, national parks, on guided tours, crossing the road and perhaps even around your island retreat. Kangaroo Island is also a great place to catch a glimpse of the underwater world. Seal Bay is a great place to go to spot Australian sea lions in their natural habitat. You can join
a guided tour for and walk amongst the island’s 600-strong colony of sea lions, an experience you will never forget. Visitors can also join the Kangaroo Island Marine Tours’ cruise and go dolphin watching, or even have a swim with them. Whale watching cruises are available between May and October when you are most likely to catch a glimpse of those monarchs of the sea. The Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island also should not be missed. One of the most unique features of the area is the Remarkable Rocks. These huge granite boulders are possibly the most photographed sight on Kangaroo Island. They provide a spectacular backdrop for photo shots and the view of the ocean waves hitting the rugged cliff is truly spectacular. Visitors can also ascend a viewing platform and boardwalk around the cliff face which leads them to a spectacular Admirals Arch and watch New Zealand fur seals frolicking in the surf or resting on the rocks. The Eyre Peninsula, a 50-minute flight or a seven-hour drive away from Adelaide, is a great place to enjoy a seaside holiday without the seaside crowds. With more than 2,000 kilometres of coastline, you get as much space to yourself as you need. Along this coastal expanse, you’ll see sheltered coves and bays, secluded beaches and stunning cliff faces that provide the perfect vantage point for spotting giant whales. Other highlights of this region include the once in a lifetime opportunity to hand feed and even swim with the mighty Bluefin Tuna, and you can also go swimming with the sea lions in shallow sheltered water at Baird Bay or Hopkins Island near Port Lincoln. Perhaps the Eyre Peninsula’s most famous and beautiful feature is the Gawler Ranges National Park. This area is outback Australia at its best. The Gawler Ranges combine vast domes of volcanic rock, giant salt lakes, rolling hills and woodland and rocky gorges to form a spectacular wilderness area. Take in the blinding white beauty of Lake Gairdner, Australia’s fourth largest salt lake, some 140 kilometres long and approximately 55 kilometres wide and reputed to be the lowest point in Australia. The park is also home to an abundance of wildlife and spring wildflowers, and 21 rare and endangered species find sanctuary here, including the southern hairy-nosed wombat. Camp tours of the area can be arranged by Gawler Ranges Safaris (www.gawlerrangessafaris.com).
GOLF South Australia is also a fantastic golfing venue with courses of all shapes, types and sizes to suit any level of ability, all set within amazingly beautiful natural surroundings. The city of Adelaide itself is home to a number of exclusive world-class clubs, such as the Royal Adelaide Golf Club and Kooyanga Golf Club, as well as the lush Adelaide Hills courses and the unique and quirky grassless plains of the Coober Pedy Golf Club. The spectacular Barossa wine region also houses four 18-hole golf courses and two nine hole golf courses where you can combine good food and wine with great golfing. Alternatively, there are some fantastic courses and country clubs in the Fleurieu Peninsula region of vineyards and beaches including the Fleurieu Golf Club, the McCracken Country Club and many others. Opposite page (far left): Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island. Opposite and this pages (clockwise from top left): Point Ellen, Kangaroo Island; Lake Gairdner (Salt Lake); Swimming with Bluefin Tuna; Remarkable Rocks; Admirals Arch.
For more information on Adelaide, South Australia, visit www.southaustralia.com/sg or call +65 6333 1885.
SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES AROUND THE WORLD Text by Lara Dunston / Photos by Terence Carter
ustainable travel is about travelling responsibly and thinking carefully about how and where you spend your time and money. Responsible travellers do things that leave little or no impact on the environment and culture of places they travel to. They conserve energy, reduce consumption, and waste as little as they can. Responsible travellers look at labels and read the fine print, buy local products, and use local businesses. They learn some of the local lingo and respect the culture, customs and traditions of the places they visit. They also hang their towels up in hotel bathrooms. Responsible travellers sightsee, tour, eat, shop and even drink as sustainably as they can — and travelling sustainably is simply about caring as much about your new friends as you do the ones at home.
aste organic wines in Portugal’s northern wine regions In northern Portugal, two old wine regions are experiencing a renaissance driven by sustainable wine tourism, thanks to a new wave of wineries boasting boutique accommodation and eco-friendly activities, from vineyard hikes to the chance to participate in the wine harvest. In the Minho region north of Porto and in the Douro to the east, sustainable wineries are producing unique wines and ports based on organic production methods and/or biodynamic techniques. In the Minho, you can base yourself in a loft apartment at Count Francisco’s Paco de Calheiros, and visit Quinta do Ameal, AFROS and Quinta Santa Maria for tastings of award winning wines. In the Douro, the wineries of Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Hotel Rural Quinta do Pégo and Quinta da Pacheca, all have stunning accommodation, making splendid bases for wine-tasting excursions to Quinta da Roêda, Quinta do Tedo and Quinta da Avessada, which is also home to a small interactive wine museum.
elp feed the favela kids in Rio de JaneiRo, BRazil Even if you’re staying in a chic hotel or apartment in Copacabana or Ipanema, you can’t help but notice Rio’s favelas (slums), home to some four million people, tumbling down the nearby hillsides. Favela Tours, ran by Marcelo Armstrong, was the first company to take small groups to the favelas and is considered the most responsible. Armstrong’s tours visit Vila Canoas, home to just 3,000 people, and Rocinha, the largest favela in Latin America with around one million residents; both are located in one of Rio’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, São Conrado, yet don’t have access to basic services. Armstrong’s tour visits an Italian-run non-government organisation called Para Ti, which provides a day care and after-school centre for the favela children. Started in the 1970s by former President of Fiat Brazil, Franco Urani and his wife Giuliana, after families began appearing on their doorstep asking for help, Para Ti has funded hundreds of initiatives, including sewerage and housing projects and a crèche that cares for hundreds of babies. If you do Armstrong’s tour, you can feel good knowing that your ticket will pay for one child’s lunch. Do take school materials and toys for the kids, too. They also enjoy kicking a football around. Book a tour at www.favelatour.com.br.
east Guilt-fRee on eaRth to taBle Cuisine on MezzoRBo, italy At restaurant Venissa on the island of Mezzorbo in Venice’s lagoon, Head Chef Paola Budel and her husband Chef Franco Bianchi serve up exquisite multi-course tasting menus that exemplify the concept of dalla terra alla tavola (from earth to table) dining. Everything is seasonal, menus change daily, 80 per cent of the produce is local, and it’s as fresh as can be. Most of the produce comes from the restaurant’s own organic garden, just steps from the stylish dining space. The rest is from communal land farmed by locals on Mezzorbo and from San Erasmo island. There’s also lovely accommodation and a vineyard — at the centre of which stands the island’s defining landmark, the bell tower of the medieval Chiesa di Santa Caterina — where an almost-extinct ancient grape variety has been replanted and will soon be bottled by veteran Veneto winemaker Gianluca Bisol. As you’d expect, Venissa’s elegant cuisine is as fresh, light and as flavoursome as food can possibly be — the colours are vivid and the just-picked vegetables smell as if they’re still on the vine or have just been dug from the dirt. They probably have! You can’t get more sustainable than that.
o sustainable tours in Cape town, south afriCa Cape Town’s poverty-stricken, problem-plagued townships, with their dilapidated corrugated-iron shacks, are worlds away from the city’s affluent coastal suburbs with their sleek architecturally designed homes. Yet the townships are where most of Cape Town’s population lives. Several award-winning, sustainable travel companies run sensitive, small-group tours to townships. Cape Capers offers a Township Experience, including a walk with a local guide and visits to people’s homes, while its Cape Care Route showcases inspirational income-generating projects, from craft workshops to small businesses. Andulela offers fun handson experiences, such as drumming lessons, beading workshops (which visit non-profit organisations providing training and self-employment opportunities to bead artists), and cooking classes in local homes in the colourful Bo Kaap neighbourhood. Coffeebeans Routes takes music fans to the townships on a Jazz Safari, which includes dinner, conversation and a performance at a jazz musician’s home and a gig at a jazz club. The opportunity to connect with locals on these tours can be transformational, but be prepared to have your heart broken by the children’s smiles. Andulela www.andulela.com; Cape Capers www.tourcapers.co.za; Coffeebeans Routes www.coffeebeansroutes.com
lant trees to save the titi monkeys in Costa riCa There are few “greener” destinations than Costa Rica with most travellers heading to the Central American country for nature-based activities such as birdwatching and wildlife spotting. Yet few visitors realise that one of Costa Rica’s cutest and most symbolic animals, the Mono Titi or red backed squirrel monkey, is on the United Nations list of critically endangered species. The Titi Conservation Alliance does. Established a decade ago by tourism business owners to promote sustainable development and conserve the biodiversity of Costa Rica’s central Pacific region, the Alliance is working hard to reforest the natural environment and create a biological corridor for the monkeys whose habitat was destroyed by farms. The group aims to plant 40,000 trees and organises regular plantings with local schools, which anyone is welcome to join. Instead of white-water rafting or zip-lining, contact the Alliance to find out if you can help plant some trees instead. www.monotiti.org
uy fair trade crafts in ubud, bali The markets at Kuta Beach, Bali’s most popular tourist destination, boast few authentic souvenirs — much of the stuff on sale is mass-produced rubbish not even made in Bali. Ubud, an hour’s drive away, is dotted with galleries and shops selling locally produced art and handmade crafts, such as fair trade business Threads of Life, which sells beautiful handmade textiles, baskets and other handicrafts. Fair trade products must be produced and sold according to World Fair Trade Organisation principles that require education, training and employment opportunities be provided, people to be paid fairly, and production to be environmentally sustainable. Threads of Life works with traditional weavers in villages too remote to benefit from tourism, helping to train them, feed their families, educate their kids, maintain their traditions, and enable their communities to prosper and grow. Buy their exquisite products and you are essentially helping too. Threads of Life, Jalan Kajeng 24,Ubud, +62 361 972187, www.threadsoflife.com
xperience village life in the Maasai Mara, Kenya The symbol most associated with Kenya is that of the towering Maasai Mara warrior, looking resplendent in vibrant red robes and colourful beads, yet it’s surprising how few tourists visiting the Maasai Mara to go on safari actually make it to a Maasai village. At the Sarova Mara guests can sign up for a village visit with the hotel’s Maasai guide, who hands guests over to a village guide. A traditional welcome dance by handsome Maasai tribesmen and a demonstration of the adamu jumping dance for which the Maasai are famous (the one who leaps highest gets the girls!) is generally followed by a stroll around the village to meet the Maasai women, learn about traditions, customs and rituals, and visit the guide’s home. Like any modern-day tour, the village visit ends at the gift shop, a market where the Maasai sell the stunning beads they make. As the tour cost (paid directly to the village) is low and the Maasai are extremely poor, do the right thing and buy lots of beautiful beaded jewellery. Your contribution could help instal running water and toilets, and feed and clothe the adorable children. www.sarovahotels.com/mara
eep colourful traditions alive in céret, france Céret, at the foot of the French Pyrénées, is a popular spot for hikers and artists. As you stroll the village, don’t be surprised when you start to see stripes, Catalan stripes. The bold colourful lines enliven everything from shop awnings to espadrilles. Reminiscent of designer Paul Smith’s trademark lines, the distinctive candy-stripes are Catalan in heritage and appear mostly on a fabric called Les Toiles Du Soleil or The Cloth of the Sun, produced at nearby Saint Laurent de Cerdans for 150 years. In the early 20th century, the entire village of 3,000 was devoted to producing the vibrant textile using traditional techniques. Sadly, as machine manufacturing expanded elsewhere, business declined. Recently there’s been a resurgence of interest in the textile. In Céret, three designers working under the umbrella “Made in Céret” are producing lovely things from the fabric: Jerome Perez decorates lamps and upholsters furniture, Raphaelle Reixach makes cute Catalan sailor jackets, while Coralie Scarnato creates reversible shoulder bags, sunhats, napkins, placemats and table runners. What makes the fabric special apart from its cheery colours? Tightly woven on old looms, it’s strong and durable, while the traditional dyeing process ensures it doesn’t change colour. Take home some Catalan stripes and you’ll be brightening your life as well helping revive a traditional craft. www.madeinceret.com
hop for ethical fashion in paris, france Shopping for French fashion is a high priority for most visitors to Paris, yet few travellers think to shop for “ethical fashion,” which, according to boutique owner Christelle Bonnivard, has a reputation as being “big, baggy, ugly clothes.” Inspired by the fabulous things she saw at an Ethical Fashion Show in Paris, the former advertising executive quit her career to open her charming “ethical” boutique, Mademoiselle Bambû on the cobblestone Rue de la Vieuville in arty Montmartre. Bonnivard sells fair trade products made by small designers who only use materials whose origin they know. “The products must respect the environment, respect human beings and be 100 per cent biologique (organic),” she says. Bonnivard recommends visitors check out Dupleks on Canal San Martin — “a nice store with beautiful clothes and accessories” — and from Mademoiselle Bambû, buy a cute dress from Celine Faizant — “they are typically Parisian, with small interesting details, and you won’t find her clothes in other countries.” For lists of ethical boutiques in Paris, see www.doukyo.com and www.lamodeethique.com.
scape to the oases of the east Village gardens, new York Skip the colossal tourist magnet that is New York’s Central Park and sightsee more sustainably by visiting the city’s small community gardens, such as those in the East Village. These luxuriant sanctuaries not only offer a respite from the heat in summer, but are also a great place to meet locals. Finding the gardens is like discovering a secret, some tucked between two tenement buildings and hidden behind a tangle of vines. Others, like the 6th and B Garden, are the life of their block, buzzing with activity and people taking advantage of their piece of paradise in the concrete jungle. When locals aren’t busy growing organic vegetables and flowers, they’re holding storytelling nights, poetry readings, film screenings, jazz concerts and yoga classes. Tourists are welcome to join activities or simply rest their weary feet. The most enchanting is the Creative Little Garden on 530 E. 6th Street, between Avenues A & B. Entrance is usually free, but donations are appreciated. For self-directed tours and maps, see www.evpcnyc.org. L+T writer Lara Dunston and photographer Terence Carter recently completed a year of sustainable travel, sponsored by www.holidayrentals.co.uk; they chronicled their journey at www.grantourismotravels.com.
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Nakhon Ratchasima, THAILAND Somkid Chaijitvanit, Thailand
The views from above were amazingly beautiful and offered me a different perspective, as I now could see all the distinctive “pieces” of the landscape at once. When I saw this gigantic tree standing tall above the flood water, I felt a deep sense of love and compassion for the tree and for what it has given to the world. It’s a true hero of our environment! Every tree is a symbol of peace. Whenever I see a giant tree, I feel a great sense of inner peace. I feel the love. This symbol of love and peace has strong roots that are buried deep in the earth. And I believe that peace and love can also be rooted in the human spirit.
Somkid rode in a hot air balloon that took her around Thailand in 2008.
COME SLEEP WITH ME
A tropicAl gem
Tusita Resort & Spa offers plenty of pampering for your next diving trip.
Sri Panwa boasts breathtaking panoramic ocean views of Phuket, whilst the impeccable service is second to none.
DoWNtoWN lUXUrY Grand Ambassador Seoul is the optimal choice for visitors with any purpose in mind, be it business, shopping or leisure.
leiSUre StAY Grand Lapa Macau is a hidden resort-style hotel where location meets convenience and luxury.
124 tHe â€œXâ€? FActor The luxury boutique X2 Rayong resort offers unobstructed sea views and a peaceful escape from the stress of modern life.
125 StYliSHlY moDerN The Kee Resort in Phuket offers an oasis of relaxation for peaceful travellers and party animals alike.
COME SLEEP WITH ME
A tropicAl gem Text and photos by Patchrapon Kanjanasiripakdhi
Tusita Resort & Spa offers plenty of pampering for your next diving trip. //SETTIng THE SCEnE Chumporn is often overlooked, seen as merely a passageway to more popular destinations, such as Surat Thani and Phuket. Now Tusita Resort & Spa, with its various impressive properties on Arunothai Beach, looks set to change all that. While you will be impressed by the peace and serene beauty of its Mediterranean-styled beachfront villas with dozens of limestone islands in full view, you will be equally delighted when you enter the main garden wing, which is built on a man-made island with wood bridges connecting each of the British-Indian-style villas, allowing you to enjoy the various beautiful destinations that Chumporn has to offer.
//gETTIng COMfOrTAbLE With seven different room types to choose from, in both garden and ocean wings, the resort can cater to your unique preferences from couples and families to honeymooners and adventurers. While all the rooms are well-equipped with general amenities, we are more impressed with the Wimantip Villa and the Tusita Residence, designed and decorated with honeymooners and families in mind respectively. If you prefer to enjoy the sound of the waves, you will love the Beachfront Jacuzzi Pool Villa on the ocean wing. Attention to detail from the management is reflected in their choice of mattresses in all the guestrooms, which are thicker and firmer than ordinary mattresses. You can also request a duck down pillow if you are not already content with the two pillow choices available in your room. //DInIng OPTIOnS Whether you choose to dine at Murraya, which is the resort’s main diner, or the Beach Club in the ocean wing, you will enjoy unique dishes that are signature to Tusita Resort & Spa. Ingredients such as Pak Leang (Gnemon) and Lady’s Fingers Bananas, which can be found in abundance locally, make their way into several of these signature dishes, such as Murraya Salad with Tusita Dressing, Baked Pak Leang with Cheese, and Banana Flambe. More contemporary dishes, such as Baked Clams with Garlic Butter, Pumpkin Soup and Sea Bass Steak with Tusita Dressing, make for a nice dinner. Signature cocktails on offer include Tusita Heaven and Arunothai Sunset. While the resort serves both American- and Thai-style breakfast, we are more impressed by the latter with fresh large prawns and sea bass cutlets served in hot porridges.
//WHy I’D gO bACk • The resort demonstrates that you can live luxuriously while enjoying nature in this untouched beauty in southern Chumporn. You can witness local fishermen at work and enjoy beautiful dive sites in Koh Tao or the Chumporn group of islands. • The friendly staff and management are always there, ready to accommodate your wishes to make your stay as pleasant as possible. • The resort is coordinating with local government officials to promote eco-tourism with the preservation of the nearby mangrove forest, which is one of the largest in Thailand. //OnE Or TWO quIbbLES… • Wireless Internet can be slow at times due to high traffic and the signal is weak in some rooms. • While the staff are friendly, they are rather inexperienced. • There are insects and mosquitoes in major parts of the resort. It is recommended that you bring or request mosquito repellent if you intend to stay outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature. Tusita Resort & Spa 259/9 Moo 1, Paktako, Tungtako, Chumporn 86220 Thailand T: +66 (0) 7757 9151, +66 (0) 7757 9073-4 F: +66 (0) 7757 9050 W: www.tusitaresort.com
COME SLEEP WITH ME
iDYLLic pArADiSe Text by Korakot Suriya-arporn / Photos by Kridtapoj Phongthiraprasit
Within a verdant tropical rainforest setting, Sri Panwa boasts breathtaking panoramic ocean views of Phuket, whilst the impeccable service is second to none. //SETTIng THE SCEnE Next to one of Phuketâ€™s many picturesque beaches lies Cape Panwa, on the south-eastern tip of the tear-shaped island. Known for its placidly quiet atmosphere and scenic views across Chalong Bay and Lone Island, it has become a much sought-after destination for those in search of tranquility and undiscovered charm. Perched atop the cape cliffs, Sri Panwa is one of the few luxury residences in the area and has definitely utilised to the fullest its unmatched location. The resort is expertly designed to offer lofty, unobstructed views over the pristine blue Andaman Sea and beyond, while the peaceful natural surroundings ensure that there will not be any disturbances from the outside world. Sri Panwa is a perfect getaway for friends, couples or families in need of relaxation or a memorable holiday.
//gETTIng COMfOrTAbLE Designed in an elegant Tropical Contemporary style, Sri Panwa has 52 villas to choose from, each containing between one and five bedrooms. Each villa, totally sheltered from one another, offers magnificent views 40 to 60 metres above sea level, with a personal infinity-edge swimming pool and a by-pool sala overlooking the landscaped gardens and the Phuket skyline. Sophisticatedly decorated in an atmospheric style that oozes a warm and fussy vibe throughout, each spacious Pool Villa is fully provided with indulgent luxury amenities that will make it difficult for you to even want to leave the room. Guests are first treated to a tropical fresh fruit welcome basket and a complimentary mini bar, along with a full home-theatre entertainment system. The large en-suite bathroom area with two separate wash basins also features an outdoor jet stream Jacuzzi bathtub and a rain shower. However, the lavish villa’s main highlight would have to be the glass-enclosed bedroom where you can relax and watch the sun set. There is also a tuk-tuk service that is available to take you to and from the other resort facilities, such as the Cool Spa that offers a range of delightful treatments, a fitness centre and a tennis court. //DInIng OPTIOnS Baba Pool Club, the resort’s main dining spot, has a comfortable open-air ambience and offers astonishing ocean panoramic views. Complete with detailed interior designs which are easy on the eye and inviting to the appetite, diners can choose to sit in the gimmicky rocking chair, a sofa or in individual “floating” sun chair areas in the middle of the swimming pool. The menu is a mixture of Thai and international comfort food, with tasty selections including grilled steaks, seafood and pizzas, thanks to a special charcoaled oven which gives a distinctly smoky flavour to the food. There is also a cooking school that teaches you how to perfect any dish on the menu. Hot pot dishes are also available upon request. A wide array of cocktails, smoothies and juices can be ordered from the bar. Another restaurant, Baba Dining Lounge, offers a lovely breakfast buffet of European continental favourites and local Phuket-style delicacies. //WHy I’D gO bACk • The Pool Villa gives me enough reason to go back. It must be a mélange of luxury, comfort and a sense of grandeur due to it being so high above the deep blue sea. • The staff are extremely nice and will gladly assist you and ensure that you get the most out of your stay. From the spa therapists to the chefs in the Baba Pool Club, they are always smiling and are obviously well-trained. Exceptional, personalised service is on offer here. • The food is some of the best hotel food I have ever had. It is unpretentious, down-to-earth, and pretty much just like what you cook at home. Their restaurant is definitely worth returning to, even if you don’t end up staying at the resort. //OnE Or TWO quIbbLES… • Though Sri Panwa offers a private beach located just below the main resort area, it is pretty disappointing as it is full of rocks and also visually unattractive, so it is not the best feature they have to offer. However, considering you will be so busy enjoying the resort activities or just relaxing around the resort, the slightly scruffy beach is the least of your concerns. Sri Panwa 88 Moo 8, Sakdidej Road, Vichit, Muang, Phuket 83000 Thailand T: +66 (0) 7637 1000 F: +66 (0) 7637 1004 W: www.sripanwa.com
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DownTown l UX UrY อ Text by Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul
Located in the centre of Seoul, Grand Ambassador Seoul is the optimal choice for visitors with any purpose in mind, be it business, shopping or leisure. //SETTIng THE SCEnE Hidden away in bustling downtown Seoul, Grand Ambassador Seoul is one of the biggest and best-known hotels for local people and tourists. The hotel is in a prime location, surrounded by famous shopping districts such as Myungdong, Itaewon, Namdaemun and Dongdaemun. It is a short 15-minute walk from the Chung Gae Chun River, where local people like to go for a walk after work or during their breaks. //gETTIng COMfOrTAbLE Grand Ambassador Seoul is a contemporary 19-storey hotel containing 411 rooms and a full range of facilities, including 13 banquet rooms, a health centre with hydrotherapy, indoor pool, sauna and gym. Coffee and complimentary newspapers are provided in the marble-tiled lobby. Although the Dongguk University metro station is just a short walk away, there is a free shuttle bus service provided to nearby shopping areas every 20 minutes. There is also an airport limousine service, by which guests can easily commute to the airport.
//DInIng OPTIOnS The hotel has six restaurants and bars which offer a wide variety of cuisine options. The most popular venue is the international dining restaurant, THE KING’S, which provides an enticing array of freshly cooked Western and Eastern cuisine. Cafe de Chef serves authentic Chinese food and TA-KE offers both traditional Japanese fare and fusion dining options for their customers. After the sun sets, Gran*A is a good place in Seoul for guests to hang out in and enjoy the great music and good food.
Grand Ambassador Seoul 186-54, 2 Ga Jangchung-Dong, Joong-Gu, Seoul 100-855 South Korea T: +82 2 2275 1101 F: +82 2 2272 0773 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.ambatel.com
//WHy I’D gO bACk • The hotel’s location is very safe and convenient for visitors travelling alone in Seoul. • The concierge here is helpful and always is on hand to provide additional useful information which allows me to travel alone in Seoul easily. //OnE Or TWO quIbbLES… • Most of the hotel’s guests are part of tour groups, so you probably have to plan ahead by booking in advance in order to avoid the long queues for breakfast at the restaurant or for using the on-site facilities.
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A leisure stay Text by Krittiya Wongtavavimarn
In a bustling casino town, Grand Lapa Macau is a hidden resort-style hotel where location meets convenience and luxury. //SETTING THE SCENE Previously known as Mandarin Oriental Macau, Grand Lapa Macau is the only resort hotel in the city centre and is near Macao Cultural Centre, the Jetfoil terminal and Fisherman’s Wharf, as well as Sands Casino. Grand Lapa Macau offers guests a relaxing environment with family-friendly five-star facilities. The hotel has distinguished itself from other hotels by providing guests with lush Mediterranean-style gardens and pool area, including a cascading waterfall, tennis courts and rock climbing. //GETTING COMFORTABLE The hotel features strong Portuguese influences reflected in its impressive lobby and luxurious suits. It offers guests 388 spacious guestrooms and 28 suites decorated in Portuguese fabrics and teak furnishings. The suites feature Asian and Macanese themes, Iberianinspired fabrics and striking antique reproductions. Professional therapists guide guests to a blissful state of rest with the signature
Macanese Sangria treatment. Guests are pampered with a rich treatment while sipping ice-cold sangria cocktails.
//DINING OPTIONS The Grand Lapa’s dining outlets include Cafe Bela Vista, Tung Yee Heen Chinese Restaurant, NAAM Thai Restaurant and The Veranda poolside al fresco restaurant. Macanese and Portuguese breakfast at Café Bela Vista is a good start to the day. When you enter the inviting, charming surrounds of the restaurant, you are transported back to the splendour of colonial Macau, with classic columns and mosaic floors, sunlit archways and a distinctly homely, Portuguese feel. //WHY I’D GO BACK • It is located in the very heart of Macau’s business and entertainment districts. Very easy to get around the area and come back late safely and conveniently. • Though the room is quite small compared to other casino resorts, the hotel does offer a “homey,” friendly feel that’s hard to find in a bustling casino area. //ONE OR TWO QUIBBLES… • There’s no complimentary Internet at the hotel. • During winter, the hotel’s outdoor garden, swimming pool and recreation area may be “out of service.” Grand Lapa, Macau 956-1110 Avenida da Amizade, PO Box 3016, Macau SAR T: +853 2856 7888 W: www.mandarinoriental.com/grandlapa For more information, check www.agoda.com, one of the fastestgrowing online hotel platforms worldwide. Agoda’s network includes more than 125,000 hotels worldwide, and provides services in 32 different languages.
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The ‘X’ FAcToR Text by Richard Herriot
Situated on an idyllic cliff-side location right alongside the beach, the luxury boutique X2 Rayong resort offers unobstructed sea views and a peaceful, fulfilling escape from the stresses of modern life. //SETTIng THE SCEnE Inspired by the beauty of Rayong’s nearby Samet Island, Laem Mae Phim was where Sunthorn Phu, the Shakespeare of Thailand, composed some of his most celebrated works. To this day, this beautiful retreat still remains a popular yet idyllic place to visit, and with private terraces, a swimming pool, state of the art facilities and stunning sea views, X2 Rayong is a great place to get away from it all. //gETTIng COMfOrTAbLE Situated on the secluded beach of Laem Mae Phim, X2 Rayong offers 15 luxurious accommodation units, each possessing a spacious and sunny balcony area with great views of the coast. Each room is equipped with a king-size bed and an LCD TV with DVD player, and is decorated in simple light, white and modern tones combining simplicity and luxury in equal measure. Once you leave your room, you can choose to indulge in X2’s unique combination of traditional massage therapies, swim in the resort pool facing the hotel’s stretch of private beach or hire a jet ski or enjoy kayaking or windsurfing. Despite the quiet location, there is no shortage of things to do at X2 Rayong.
//WHy I’D gO bACk • All the rooms had large balconies, which were a great place to catch the
cool sea breezes, with each room facing out onto the sea, with superb views of the coast. • Considering the small size of the hotel, the food on offer was delicious and there was plenty of choice, especially for the evening dining options, with a great wine list.
//DInIng OPTIOnS The resort’s signature 4K restaurant (pronounced “fork”) and bar offers an eclectic mix of Eastern and Western dishes and a surprisingly wide choice of top quality fusion cuisine, varying from traditional Pad Thai served with freshly-caught seafood, to Australian beef with salad. Local in-season produce is heavily featured on the menu, which is prepared by the resort’s resident international chef. Great food and wine are features at X2 so visitors can be assured that their stay will always be a culinary delight.
//OnE Or TWO quIbbLES… • The remoteness of the resort is an attraction, but even though we asked for precise directions from the resort, we still got lost. • The boutique nature of the hotel combined with the cliff-side location afforded a quiet atmosphere and great views, but sadly no elevator, so may not be suitable for elderly visitors. X2 Rayong 4215/3 Moo 3, Laem Mae Phim, Klaeng, Rayong, Thailand T: +66 (0) 3865 7378 F: +66 (0) 3865 7379 E: email@example.com W: www.x2resorts.com/rayong_resort
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STYLiShLY moDerN Text by Korakot Suriya-arporn / Photos by Kridtapoj Phongthiraprasit
Set amongst the wild neon lights of Patong Beach, The Kee Resort offers an oasis of relaxation for peaceful travellers and party animals alike. //SETTIng THE SCEnE The renowned Patong Beach in Phuket is the place to go for visitors who want to experience “Thai treatment,” a nightlife like nothing you have ever experienced before and a daytime blast to match. Perfectly located in the heart of the bar-clustered beach, The Kee Resort is a modern hotel and plaza complex that offers convenience and outstanding facilities, and combines the need for both travellers who come to have fun and party, and those seeking refuge from the boisterous happenings outside. Decorated in a Sino-Portuguese theme, Phuket’s unique nationality set, the five-storey hotel building embraces a vast 950-square-metre lagoon-like swimming pool, with a Vegas-style fountain and light show after the sun sets. Within the compound, there is a shopping plaza offering several brand outlets ideal for families and couples, and the Sea Dragon, an entertainment venue full of discos, bars and clubs. //gETTIng COMfOrTAbLE The resort comprises 244 guest rooms with six different room types to choose from. Deluxe Pool Access rooms are equipped with a spacious terrace and direct access to the main swimming pool, while Sea View Suites are located on the top floor with personal Jacuzzis and spectacular views over Patong Bay. Laced with the same contemporary Sino-Portuguese theme, all of The Kee’s modern suites are bedecked with prints from Old Town Phuket, and decorated with an array of vivid colour schemes — from Day-Glo aquatic blue to retro 50’s diner-style red — that are cleverly incorporated and give a distinctive personality to each of the rooms. The Kee is also well known for its state-of-the-art technology facilities, such as free wireless Internet access, an LCD TV and an Entertainment Centre in each room that allows guests to enjoy satellite television and movies on demand, and allows guests to directly perform several transactions such as ordering room service and bill checking. The Kee Spa also has an extensive selection of massage and beauty treatments that guarantees sure-fire pleasures for any lazy day. //DInIng OPTIOnS The open-plan Kee Kitchen is the hotel’s main coffee shop, with inexpensive all-you-can-eat breakfast options available and an a la carte menu of Thai and international favourites on offer during the day. The adjacent Pool Bar is located in the middle of the swimming pool and serves classic cocktails, smoothies and poolside snacks. To enjoy the wonderful dining options that The Kee has to offer, jump to The Kee Sky Lounge rooftop bar with 360-degree sweeping views over the bay, which serves international tapas and Italian fusion cuisine. Beverage
enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a signature vodka concoction from an experienced mixologist, or an excellent bottle of wine from a great range of reds, whites and roses to accompany the meal.
//WHy I’D gO bACk • Its perfect location at the centre of Patong Beach makes it easily accessible to the bar strips outside and the beach itself, as well as the numerous entertainment venues nearby. Its own shopping plaza and the Sea Dragon nightlife complex are also nice additions to the complex. • A fully-equipped high-tech objet d’art in each room confirms that The Kee is unrivalled amongst other hotels in that category. I spent a few hours lying in my bed just surfing the Internet on their LCD TV. //OnE Or TWO quIbbLES… • Due to its considerable distance from the beach and the surrounding blocks of buildings, the view from the guest room is pretty limited, mostly of the central swimming pool only. That isn’t really a problem, considering that staying in this hotel is like living in your own world, partially cut off from the outside.
The Kee Resort & Spa 152/1 Thaveewong Road, Patong Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150 Thailand T: +66 (0) 7634 0132 F: +66 (0) 7634 6243, +66 (0) 7634 3567 W: www.thekeeresort.com
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Maldives Text by Richard Herriot
collection of 1,192 coral atolls and islands in the Indian Ocean, about 700 kilometres southwest of Sri Lanka, the Maldives are the smallest Asian country in terms of both population and land mass. With an average ground level of only 1.5 metres above sea level, the region is also famous for being the lowest country on the planet and, as a result, is under increasing pressure from rising sea levels, which are seen as a real and major threat to its continued existence. Tourism began in the Maldives relatively recently. To begin with, two small resorts in Kurumba Village and Bandos opened for business in the early 1970s. Today, there are now over 80 resorts dotting the islands and atolls, and over the past few decades the number of tourists visiting the Maldives has risen to over 600,000 per year. It is estimated that over 8 million tourists had visited the area over the last three and a half decades, with the tourism industry overtaking fishing as the main source of income for island residents. The Maldives are famed for a tropical climate and stunning natural beauty, including beautiful beaches, teeming coral reefs and lush plant and animal life. Due to their extraordinary underwater scenery and clean, unpolluted water, the Maldives are currently ranked among the best recreational diving destinations of the world. The region also prides itself on being among the longest standing exponents of sustainable tourism worldwide. Development is restricted, with strict controls limiting the number of hotels built to a maximum of a single resort per island. Sustainable practices in the disposal and recycling of waste are mandatory, with reusable energy practices supported by the region’s government being widely adopted and laws protecting the environment and wildlife (including over 300 species of fish, 200 individual types of coral and five species of sea turtle) being firmly enforced. No resorts are allowed to be built on any of the inhabited islands, where the predominantly Muslim population still carry on their daily lives largely uninterrupted and unaffected by large groups of visitors or the ravages of time. The importance of the money generated by visitors to the islands is not to be ignored, however, with benefits from tourism dollars including schemes such as the Great Wall of Male, a coral barrier around much of the capital constructed to lessen the effect of storm surges, being seen as vitally important to the long term future of the region. The climate and environment of the Maldives are ideal for indulging in a whole host of water sports, such as swimming, fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling, water-skiing and windsurfing. Those who want to learn more about the islanders should visit Dhangethi Island, home to the country’s only cultural centre, where you can learn about
the cultural history and heritage of the islands. Here you can enjoy delicious home-cooked meals, visit schools, learn about dhoani (local sail-boat) building and other local crafts. At sunset or at dawn, you can take a dhoani to nearby reefs and enjoy fishing in true Maldivian style, using hand-reel lines, or perhaps take a stroll around the streets of the local fishing villages. For shoppers, the Malé Local and Fish Markets along the northern waterfront of the region’s capital are good places to find local fruits, vegetables, yams, nuts, sweetmeats, homemade sweets and pickles. There are also stalls that have smoked and dried fish for sale. Another good place to shop in this area is the Majeedhee Magu. This market sells a weird and wonderful variety of local and imported items including clothes, jewellery, perfumes, cosmetics, handbags, watches and all kinds of electrical equipment. These shops are open until around 11 p.m. and close for short periods around lunchtime. Shops may also close periodically throughout the day as proprietors go to pray at the local mosques.
How to get there Practically all visitors to the islands will arrive at Malé International Airport, located on Hulhulé Island, which is next to the capital Malé. The airport services flights to and from India, Sri Lanka, Doha, Dubai and other major airports across Southeast Asia, as well as an increasing number of direct and charter flights from across Europe. Gan Airport, on the southern atoll of Addu, also has international services to and from Milan several times a week. Getting around Water transport is the most popular and practical method of getting around. Dhoanis are primarily used for ferrying tourists from place to place. Speedboats are also widely available for private hire. The national airline, Air Maldives, also operates regular domestic flights to each of the four regional airports in the Maldives When to visit The climate is influenced by the monsoon winds blowing across the Indian Ocean. The southwest monsoon extends from May to October and brings short but sharp downpours of rain accompanied by often strong winds and occasional tropical storms. The best time to visit is between November and April when the weather is predominantly dry and calm.
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Published on Jul 5, 2011