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Asia PaciямБc Edition May/June 2011




















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What’s hot, what’s trendy? Find out upcoming events not to be missed, special hotel deals and other in-the-buzz lifestyle and travel tidbits.

The ABSOLUT Art Collection tours the Asia Pacific region. Twenty world known Pop art pieces and some art works by local artists carry creative self-reflection and multimedia experimentation.

38 HIP HO CHI MINH CITY Saigon has undergone a style revolution, with chic new shops, restaurants and bars, proving to be as much a magnet for visitors to the city as the historical sights. 46 LIFE ON THE GREEN Summit Windmill Executive Director Nuttapol Jurangkool doesn’t possess just a hale and hearty outward appearance; passion and professionalism shine through his world-class golf course.

48 ART & DECOR: URBAN LIFE THROUGH THE LENS Dallas-based photographers take an unprecedented look at urban city landscapes through their unique lens. THE WELLNESS 62 FOOD FROM AFAR: SACRED FINDINGS


Food guru Nateampai Sarakosass shares some of her special lotus dishes that please your appetite.

66 COME DINE WITH ME: TOKYO CAFE The newly-opened restaurant is committed to serving Japanese-Italian bistro-style food in a casual, cosy atmosphere. MARINA BAY SANDS The Marina Bay Sands resort is now home to some of the world’s most exclusive celebrity restaurants where Asian diners can enjoy highly creative dishes under one roof.


70 BALANCING ACT Society lauds productivity and hyper-efficiency, perhaps too much so. Take time to unsubscribe from this hectic lifestyle — for a short while — and to savour the simple joys of slow living.

74 COME ZEN WITH ME Living lightly leads to long-lasting happiness. Leo Babauta shows how.



Krabi, Samui and Hua Hin have a lot more to offer than pristine beaches. Check out some new eateries and hang-out spots for your next visit.

84 UP IN THE AIR Each summer, thousands of sarong-clad men gather on Balinese beaches for the International Kite Festival.

90 FLOATING DOWN THE RIVER From Houei Sai to Luang Prabang, slow lifestyle along the Mekong River is full of beauty and fascination.

100 SLOW VENICE Stroll down the off the beaten streets of Venice and savour the slow moments the city has to offer.

108 TOP 10 SLOW MUST-VISIT DESTINATIONS Check out some of the best places where you can slow down your mind and experience life.






Enjoy a home away from home at an exclusive range of hotels, from Hotel Fort Canning and The Venetian Macao to Dune Hua Hin and The Luang Say Residence.

Lamu is a peaceful retreat from the stress of daily life. The character and charm and slow pace of life of Kenya’s oldest living settlement has remained intact.


SLOW DOWN, GET LOST AND SAVOUR LIFE Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” — Eddie Cantor Are you too busy being busy? Are you a member of the cult of busyness? Are you tried of being a busy bee? Modern life can be insanely busy — if we let it. I, too, am too busy. My life is constantly focused on “getting it all done.” The weekend is unknown. I’m always mobile. I fly here and there. I go around town for many different tasks. I rarely spend time with my family, at my own home. I skip meals. I drink too much coffee. I tweet, Facebook and email all day long. All of a sudden, just a few days before I turned 30, I felt lightheaded, off balance, dizzy about to pass out. Isn’t it too soon for me to feel this way? I have been rushing all the time. But to what end? So I’ve given myself a gift of life: slowing down. It’s now my life’s mission and philosophy. Slowing down is not about being lazy or lacking motivation and passion. Rather, it’s about learning to live in the “here and now” moment, appreciating the surroundings and really seeing them, feeling them — not the blur that often results from living a hectic lifestyle. And it’s about truly engaging in life, not letting it pass you by. Find us Slowing down can also apply to travel. With a “slow” itinerary, on Facebook: lifestyle+travel you don’t experience the stress of attempting to check out each site in your guidebook or get stuck in crowded group tours. Instead, you allow yourself to get lost in another place and time. Slowing down in unfamiliar places allows you to slip naturally into the pace of another culture, way of life, or even discover a new, surprising side of yourself. Travel is about the journey, not just the destination. And travelling slowly can take you on a journey of surprises. In this issue, writer Lara Dunston and her husband Terence Carter, who have been living out of their suitcases for five years, bouncing around the planet, wander the slow streets of Venice, Italy, where the emphasis is less on manic sightseeing and more on taking in the surroundings at a relaxed pace. They also explore the hip, creative side of Ho Chi Minh City, something beyond the mouth-watering pho or the motorbikes that throng the streets. Also in this issue, Karen Coates takes us to the off-spa side of Bali. Wandering around, she is introduced to the flying of kites, which has strong cultural and religious significance in Balinese life. We also take you to explore off-the-beatenpath Samui, Krabi and Hua Hin, and Lifestyle+Travel’s talented photographer Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul captures the “slow” charm and chill-axing lifestyle along the Mekong River. By slowing life down a bit, we learn to appreciate life more, and better understand our world and ourselves.

Krittiya Wongtavavimarn Editor–in–Chief



Editor-in-Chief: Contributing Subeditor: Writer/Subeditor: Editorial Assistant: Graphic Designer: Photographer: Production:

Krittiya Wongtavavimarn Nick Wilgus Richard Herriot Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul Chirachai Phitayachamrat Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul Wasuruj Nawakarnpisut

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lifestyle + travel, Lifestyle and Travel Media Co., Ltd. 12/2 Soi Methiniwet Sukhumvit 24 Road, Klongton, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110 Thailand. Tel: +66 (0) 2204 0310–5, Fax: +66 (0) 2204 0316,, Media Representatives: Singapore: Teddy Chuay, Blk 158A, Riverside Crescent, #04–701 Singapore 541158. Tel: +65 8410 1169, Email: Japan: Maiko Itami, 606 Rengakan, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku–ku, Tokyo 160–0016 Japan. Tel: +8190 7214 9026, Email: Middle East: Christine Jabourian, Office M03, Al Reem Tower, Al Maktoum Street, P.O. Box 13131, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +9714 227 9586, Fax: +9714 221 6579, Email: Australia: Rebecca Stuart, P.O. Box 102 Hazelbrook 2779 NSW Australia. Mob: +614 0848 2518, Email: Vietnam: Adrian Phua/Kevin Len, Jolen Consulting, 5th floor, 23 Cua Dong Str., Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam. Tel: +844 3923 3777, Fax: +844 3923 3778, Email: adrian@, Colour separation by Soontorn Film Co., Ltd., Tel: +66 (0) 2216 2760 Printed by Than Printing Co., Ltd., Tel: +66 (0) 2954 2799 lifestyle + travel shall not, without written consent of the publishers, be given, lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade, and it shall not be lent, hired out or otherwise disposed of in a mutilated condition or with any unauthorised cover by way of trade; or affixed to or as part of any publication or advertising, literary or pictorial matter whatsoever. Disclaimer: lifestyle + travel makes every effort to provide complete, accurate information but cannot accept responsibility for any offence, loss, inconvenience or injury arising from use of the information contained herein. The opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the management. Distributors: Hong Kong: Dick Yu, Operations Manager, Times Publishing (HK) Ltd., 10/F, Block C, Seaview Estate, 2–8 Watson Road, North Point, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 3965 7818, Fax: +852 2764 5095, Mob: +852 9451 9536. Malaysia: Karen Tan, Pansing Marketing Sdn Bhd, Lot 557A & B, Jalang Subang 3, Subang Jaya Industrial Estate, 47610 Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Tel: +603 5638 2208, Fax: +603 5637 9477. Singapore: R Chandran, Pansing Distribution Pte. Ltd., 30 Old Toh Tuck Road, #02–00, Sembawang Kimtrans Logistics Centre, Singapore 597654. Tel: +65 6469 1210, Fax: +65 6069 9109. Cambodia: Men Sambo, Monument Books, Cambodia. Email: info@monument–


CONTRIBUTORS Specialising in food and interior photography, SukrattanRachapant Sukrattanachaikul achaikul sees the beauty in every little thing. This attitude puts the talented photographer, an integral part of the Lifestyle+Travel team, in the ideal frame of mind to photograph the slow and fascinating life along the Mekong River in this Slow Travel + Surprising Journeys issue.

Karen Coates writes about food, Coates environment, health and social issues for publications around the world. She’s travelled the map in a dozen years as a freelance journalist, primarily in Southeast Asia. She also spends a tantalising amount of time in other people’s kitchens, doing research for her food blog, Rambling Spoon. For the first time in eight years, Karen is enduring an American winter while working in Colorado on a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism. She is developing a global forum and website on food security,



Globetrotting travel writer Lara Dunston Dunston has been writing for L i f e s t y l e + Tr a v e l since 2006, covering destinations as far-flung as Morocco, Beirut, Dubai, Oman, and her birthplace, Australia. Lara works with her photographer husband Terence Carter, with whom she has authored and updated more than 50 travel guidebooks and published hundreds of travel articles for a long list of publications around the world, including National Geographic Traveller, Wanderlust and Get Lost. The couple have been living out of their suitcases for five years, bouncing around the planet from one assignment to another, and blogging about their adventures at They are currently calling Asia their home.


Leo Babauta is a simplicity blogger and author. He created Babauta 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.








Fans of Keith Jarret in South Korea will have an opportunity to attend a recital by the world-class piano soloist. The recital will be held at the Main Auditorium, Sejong Centre. Jarrett is a famous American pianist and composer; he received the Polar Music Prize in 2003 and the Leonie Sonning Music Prize in 2004. He performs successfully in jazz and classical music.

– 9 JULY 11 JUN



It’s time to reconnect with what we have forgotten in the 2nd installment of Singapore Arts Festival’s trilogy under the theme “I Want to Remember.” The festival aims to remind us of what’s been lost on the path to civilisation. Eightyone artists and art companies are gathered to present 62 different productions through sight and sound. This festival is one of the main activities held by the National Arts Council to promote Singapore as the world’s city of arts.

29 27 –MAY


A three-day international carnival, with its roots in the world’s first ever carnivals originally held in 14th century Venice, will be held at The Venetian Macao. This event will involve a cornucopia of “carnivalistas” from every corner of the globe as well as The Venetian’s own culinary and entertainment maestros in what promises to be the grandest affair of the year in Asia. The funpacked carnival kicks off with a poolside Brazilian Samba Party at The Venetian Lagoon, where the lissome dancers from the top-rated Beija-Flor samba school in Rio de Janeiro and a selection of talented musicians will seek to generate the heat and passion of traditional samba celebrations, followed by the Copacabana Charity Ball and more parties, dances and drinks.


There is no better opportunity to experience Balinese village culture than the Bali Arts Festival. It will be held for nearly a month to present local colourful and rare performances such as forgotten village dances and classical palace dances. It will also showcase Balinese handicraft exhibitions to show its long history and uniqueness. The Bali Arts Festival is an annual cultural event that attracts tourists from around the world.

26 –JUN29


ART HK is an international event for art enthusiasts across the world to meet and update themselves on new movements in the art industry. The event is packed with cultural activities and extensive talks by many world-class speakers, organised by Asia Art Archive. ART HK 11 will welcome more directors and curators of the world’s well-known museums and galleries such as Guggenheim Museum’s director Richard Armstrong, Walker Art Centre’s director Olga Viso and Yale Art Gallery’s director Jock Reynolds.


KING IN THE LION CITY The multi-award-winning musical adaptation of Disney favourite The Lion King has finally reached the shores of Singapore. Performing in Southeast Asia for the first time after touring the world over 13 years, Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands is the new home of The Lion King, produced by Disney Theatrical Group and brought to Singapore by BASE Entertainment. The cast for the Singapore production is comprised of the cream of The Lion King performers from around the world, including veterans of the acclaimed London and Paris productions. Adapted from the 1994 ground-breaking animated film, the show, which won over 70 major international theatre awards, including the Tony Award for “Best Musical,” portrays the powerful and moving story of Simba and the epic adventure of his journey from wide-eyed cub to his destined role as King of the Pride Lands. Director Julie Taymor has brilliantly blended elements of African art and Broadway artisanship to depict anthropomorphic animal characters. The Lion King plays eight shows a week. For more information, visit




BOOZES AT LEBUA In collaboration with Pernord Ricard Thailand, lebua Hotel & Resort has selected a special exclusive list of premium alcohol beverages to be served at its famous rooftop bars. This unique opportunity is a part of a longrunning campaign to increase the profile of its worldclass rooftop bars: Distil, Sirocco and Mezzaluna. The exclusive alcohol selections in each category include, for example, Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute Scotch Whisky, G.H. Mumm Rene Lalou, a top champagne label from G.H.Mumm, ABSOLUT 100 Premium Vodka from Sweden, L’or de Jean Martell, a top of the range French cognac, Jacob’s Creek Heritage Heritage, a world-famous Australian wine vintage, and Havana Club Cuban premium rum. These, along with other brands, are making their debut appearance in Thailand and are only available at Lebua.


Louis’ Tavern has just opened their newest CIP Lounge on the third and fourth floor of Concourse G at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Offering outstanding contemporary Thai design, it possesses a full range of facilities and services, including eight shower rooms, VIP rooms, a leisure space containing both traditional and online games, Wi-Fi Internet access and a variety of tasty gourmet treats. The lounge can accommodate up to 250 guests as the maximum total area of the lounge is 3,000 square metres.



HERMES’ FIRST FURNITURE COLLECTION Famous French fashion house Hermes is branching out into furniture. The luxury brand launched a lot of style, simplicity, elegance of classic furniture, designed by well-known designers Enzo Mari, Antonio Citterio, Eric Beneque, Jean-Michel Frank and Denis Montel, at the prestigious 50th edition of Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy. These will be available at Hermes stores around the world from September this year. A symbol of elegance and luxury, Hermes’ collection of houseware accessories was created to adorn walls and floors. The design ingenuity used for the new highend furniture line truly is the epitome of quality.


FLOWERING CHARM Taking his inspiration from the things around him, British designer Alex Lamont turns his simple ideas into eye-catching vases and vessels through subtle and gifted use of his own materials and designs. His stunning spring and summer collection is made using materials such as rock crystal, bronze, stone and ceramics. Such simple designs are complement and highlight the beauty of the flowers placed within.

TIME FOR PARISIAN DINING IN HK Aqua Restaurant Group, one of the bestknown restaurant operators in Hong Kong, has just opened their first bistro, La Marmite, in Soho, with the main aim of offering authentic French cuisine to the general public at affordable prices. La Marmite’s bistro dishes are rotated weekly on a blackboard menu and created using fresh seasonal ingredients by young French chefs who have previously worked in various Michelin-star restaurants. The outlet is decorated in cosy Parisian style with an atmosphere to match. The group’s founder, David Yeo, has adorned the walls with his own collection of vintage 1930s and 1940s posters, obtained from various flea markets in Paris.


Lifestyle + Travel Special Promotion




common with the rest of the average occupancy rates for Frasers’ properties worldwide. These days, guests at the residences, primarily executives from various Fortune 500 companies, demand greater efficiency and convenience, and more relaxation choices after office hours. In seeking to fulfil these needs, Frasers offers highspeed broadband Internet, Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP communications, and gourmet coffee machines in this new property and in every serviced residence under the brand. Guests can also ask for customised services such as personal trainers, personal shoppers or chefs. Greater emphasis is also placed on staff training to ensure higher and consistent service levels worldwide.

Fraser Residence Orchard — the fourth Frasers property in Singapore — kicks off expansion programme worldwide with 80 per cent occupancy after two months A brand leader in the provision of executive service apartments for busy high-end business travellers, Frasers Hospitality Pte Ltd (Frasers) is planning to add 25 new properties in the next two years and will also seek to manage a total of 64 properties across 37 cities by the end of 2012. This strategy of aggressive global expansion was kick-started recently by the opening of the Fraser Residence Orchard serviced residence in March of this year. At Mt. Elizabeth Link, the Fraser Residence Orchard is situated in a prime location, next to the Orchard Road shopping belt and the prestigious Cairnhill residential area, adjacent to the Paragon Shopping Centre and Mount Elizabeth Hospital. With 72 exclusive serviced residences ranging from one-bedroom to five-bedroom penthouses, Fraser Residence Orchard aims to offer solitude and sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of work and the fast pace of life in Singapore, and is ideal for extended corporate stays. The residence was fully upgraded and refurbished at a cost of S$6.5 million helping to ensure that Frasers Hospitality, recent winner of the Best Regional Brand at the Singapore Prestige Brand Awards 2011, continues to lead the way in levels of standards and services offered to long-stay business travellers. The success of this new venture is already apparent. Fraser Residence Orchard is already enjoying 80 per cent occupancy, in

Frasers Hospitality, in the space of 10 years, has grown from two properties to 39 properties in 21 cities. The company aims to open a dozen new properties worldwide in 2011, including residences in Jakarta, Indonesia; Suzhou and Chengdu in China; New Delhi, India; Doha, Qatar; Istanbul, Turkey and Budapest, Hungary, with a further 13 properties scheduled for completion by the end of 2012. Frasers Hospitality has three brand offerings — Fraser Suites, Fraser Place and Fraser Residence. A second brand, Modena, which targets the professional who spends the majority of his or her time travelling, was established under the Frasers Hospitality umbrella in July 2009. For more information on Frasers Hospitality, please visit



20% 0FF Seek sanctuary from the liveliness and bustle of Pattaya by enjoying Pattaya Marriott Resort & Spa’s exceptional service and facilities with their amazing “Advance Purchase Rate.” Simply book at least 30 days in advance, and a 20 per cent discount on the hotel’s best available rate allows prices to start from just USD 147 per night for a Deluxe room from now until 31 October. Prices are subject to a 10 per cent service charge and the applicable government tax. For more information or reservations, contact +66 (0) 3841 2120 or email

5-NIGHT SPECIAL Zeavola Resort, the only luxury villa resort on Phi Phi Island, invites you and your loved one to enjoy a romantic getaway exploring the life and colour under the Andaman Sea with their all-new “Andaman Zea Diving Package.” This package starts at USD 2,656 and includes accommodation for five nights in a Garden Suite for two persons, three meals for two persons per day, two dive sessions for two persons per day for four days, including boat transfers and scuba equipment, complimentary round-trip van and speed boat transfer to and from Phuket for two persons per stay and complimentary Internet access throughout your stay. The package is available from now until 31 October. Reservations can be made online by visiting or contact the Reservations Office on +66 (0) 7562 7000.

FAMILY RETREAT Villa Maroc Resort invites you to relax with your loved ones by the shores of Pranburi with the “Family & Friends” package. The package includes two nights in a two-bedroom Villa for USD 1,169, or in the luxurious Royal Villa for USD 1,838, a sumptuous daily breakfast for four persons, complimentary non-alcoholic mini-bar and high-speed Internet. Villa Maroc will also help to arrange an exciting threehour kayaking trip through the winding mangrove forests along the beautiful Pran River for you and three other persons. The package is available until 31 May. Reservations can be made online at www. or by contacting the resort’s reservation office at +66 (0) 3263 0771.


HIGH-END LUXURY Enjoy high-end city living close to the action in Bangkok without breaking the bank by enjoying GLOW Trinity Silom’s “Deluxe Delight” promotion. Prices start at the bargain rate of USD 78 per night for a Deluxe Room and a 15 per cent discount when booking a Deluxe Room or a Deluxe Corner Room at the leisure rate for three consecutive nights or more. This promotion is available for any reservation through 30 June, and the rates are inclusive of accommodation and free Wi-Fi Internet, and also include service charges and applicable tax. Reservations can be made online at or contact GLOW Trinity Silom’s reservation office at +66 (0) 2231 5301.

PREMIER OFFER Enjoy new and eye-opening experiences in the tropical island of Bali with the “Premiere to Bali” opening package at the luxurious and newly-opened W Hotel Bali. The package includes complimentary breakfast at Fire restaurant, USD 150 in-retreat credit (food only), free upgrade to the next retreat category (upon availability) and a surprise W gift. The Premiere to Bali package is available today until 30 June and starts from USD 388 per night. The package is subject to availability and excludes service charges and tax. Reservations can be made online at, or via email to, or by calling +62 3617 38106.


Venice's hidden alleys and off the beaten path streets

TIPS FOR THE TRAIL: HOW TO FIND YOUR WAY WHEN YOU ARE LOST It’s a pretty common story. You’re walking through a new town or patch of forest, certain of your path. Upon turning around, suddenly your senses unravel and you panic as everything looks and feels unfamiliar and unexpected. However, there is no need to panic. Richard Herriot takes you through a guide on how to avoid getting lost and how to find your way in unfamiliar places. STUDY YOUR MAP BEFORE LEAVING Before starting your trip, always check the map of the region you will be visiting and acquaint yourself with any trails, streams and mountains in the area. Symbols for churches and cemeteries are often helpful and many maps have symbols for different types of terrain, distinguishing between forest and open countryside. This can be immensely helpful. GO EQUIPPED You should have at least two compasses with you as many hikers often end up doubting the readings of their compass, and that doubt leads them into trouble. When two compasses give the same reading, it’s wise to believe them. TAKE PICTURES ALONG THE WAY It’s never a bad idea to bring a camera along. Not only can you get some great pictures as mementos of your journey, having recent photos of places you’ve passed along the way may help point you back in the right direction if you take a wrong turn. LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING If you are missing for an extended period of time, someone will then know where to look! So even if you are looking to escape the rat race for a while and want to get closer to nature without interference, always tell someone close to you about your plans. KEEP CONSTANT TRACK OF YOUR PROGRESS Make sure your route corresponds with what is on your map, and check whether you are going uphill, through a field or a forest when


you are meant to, for example. Always check your route repeatedly if you are not sure or if the trail looks difficult and confusing. You don’t want to get lost!

DON’T GO WANDERING OFF Be sure to stay relatively close to the area where you told people you would be. This will make it easier for rescuers to find you. If you are unable to find out where you are, remember the four steps of S.T.O.P. (stop, think, observe and plan). Once you decide to do something, stick with it. USE NATURE AND LANDMARKS TO HELP FIND THE WAY If you happen to be lost, there are methods in which you can find a way out, through using nature or local landmarks to point you in the right direction. An old adage is that moss favours the north side of trees while spider webs are often found towards the south and Traveller’s Palms’ branches point east-west. The movement of the sun and clouds are very rough indicators, but don’t rely too heavily on them. DON’T PANIC, JUST RELAX AND LET IT BE It is true that getting lost can be a scary experience, but there are times when finding your way out or changing your route along the way can be quite fun, especially if you end up coming across some beautiful places or scenic landmarks that you may not otherwise have seen. So don’t be afraid and be open-minded to the possibilities, even if they weren’t on your original itinerary.


BOOKSHELF Text by Richard Herriot

SOLAR Booker-Prize winner Ian McEwan is perhaps best known as the author of Atonement, which found its way to the big screen. But in his latest work, Solar, he attempts to break new ground by taking on the challenge of writing a comic novel involving the very serious subject of global warming. Michael Beard is a Nobel prize — winning physicist whose best days are behind him. Using the name and reputation he developed as a young up-and-coming environmental scientist, he makes a lucrative living as a speaker, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and unenthusiastically but dutifully heads a governmentbacked initiative aimed at finding a long term solution to the global warming problem. While he muddles along in his professional life, Michael’s personal life is falling apart. A serial philanderer, his fifth marriage is collapsing and when Michael’s personal and professional lives begin to interact and get on top of him, a potential way out suddenly emerges in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to escape his failing marriage, resuscitate his stagnating career, and also maybe help prevent an upcoming environmental disaster. Can a man who is incapable of dealing with his own problems save the rest of humanity from itself? A complex novel that illustrates perfectly how one man’s self deceit and ambition can lead down an unexpected yet enlightening path, Solar is at the same time an amusing and stylish work. Solar is both uplifting yet poignant, and is both, in turn, serious and humorous, which helps the reader engage with the characters and find some parallels within their own lives. This novel well deserves its place amongst McEwan’s more celebrated and distinguished works. THE KING’S SPEECH: HOW ONE MAN SAVED THE BRITISH MONARCHY The inspiration behind the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, Mark Logue and Peter Conradi here tell the real story behind the fascinating relationship between the shy and retiring Albert, Duke of York, later King George VI of England, and his unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue (the grandfather of the co-author). On one side of the fence, we are introduced to an Antipodean brewer’s grandson with a love of acting and a flair for elocution, who sets himself up as a speech therapist, curing speech impediments among people from all walks of life. On the other side, we are given a glimpse into the private world of a King’s second son who fears both public speaking and being potentially thrust into a role he perhaps hoped not to have, a fear that became reality when his more charming yet feckless elder brother walked out on the job with war just around the corner. The coming together of these two men, initially as patient and therapist, later developed into a closer relationship of trust and friendship with Logue frequently by the side of the King when he made some of his major wartime speeches to the nation upon his accession. Anyone who has seen the film may not be surprised to learn that Hollywood took some liberties with parts of the text and the real story may be rather less dramatic. It is also debatable whether Logue did in fact “save the British Monarchy” as the book cover rather dramatically claims. But in this fascinating biography, Logue and Conradi bring colour and detail to a story which was until recently little known. In doing so, they manage to show in vivid detail the importance and true nature of the relationship between the two men and show George VI as more human and less distant than history has previously portrayed him. Available at Asia Books.


INSIDE WIKILEAKS: MY TIME WITH JULIAN ASSANGE AT THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS WEBSITE The secretive whistleblowing organisation WikiLeaks has become a widely known and feared organisation in governmental circles in recent times. In its four years of operation, it has published millions of controversial documents and a growing body of fans, and conspiracy-theorists visit the website daily and wait avidly for the latest scandal to be leaked. Despite all this, however, relatively little is known about how WikiLeaks operates, and even less about its founder, the mysterious Julian Assange, who is every bit as controversial as his website. Daniel DomscheitBerg is a German IT specialist who has been involved with WikiLeaks since 2007, and was, until recently, the project’s spokesman and its public face. In this biography, he provides an intriguing insight into some of its secrets and those of his former colleagues. In Inside WikiLeaks, he reveals the development and inner tensions bubbling under the surface of this whistleblower organisation and his difficult relationship with Assange, as well as the events that led to his later withdrawal from WikiLeaks as he became increasingly disenchanted with Assange and the organisation’s operational methods. At first glance, this book might seem like a typical hatchet-job by an embittered former employee, and it is certainly clear that Domscheit-Berg does not hold back in revealing the peccadilloes of the decidedly eccentric Assange in a distinctly morbid fashion. Having said that, his book is a fascinating illustration of how an organisation set up with undoubtedly good intentions ended up so easily becoming a monster feeding on itself, and certainly contains some fascinating insights as to what really goes on behind the scenes of this little-known and shadowy organisation.


BUZZ 36 ABSOLUTely Artsy in Seoul

The Absolut Art Collection tours the Asia Pacific region. Twenty world known Pop art pieces and some art works by local artists carry creative self-reflection and multimedia experimentation.

38 Hip Ho Chi Minh City Saigon has undergone a style revolution, with chic new shops, restaurants and bars, proving to be as much a magnet for visitors to the city as the historical sights.

46 Life on the green

Summit Windmill Executive Director Nuttapol Jurangkool doesn’t possess just a hale and hearty outward appearance; passion and professionalism shine through his world-class golf course.


ABSOLUTELY ARTSY IN ASIA Text by Chalida Ekvithayavechnukul

eeping with tradition of ABSOLUT’s 30 years of creative collaborations, 20 pieces of original artwork from The ABSOLUT Art Collection, owned and curated by the Historical Museum of Wines and Spirits in Stockholm since 2008, has travelled to Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai, Sydney, Seoul and Beijing since January this year, and will head to Shanghai in July before returning to its home in Europe. A celebration of art, creativity and popular culture, the art collection, which comprises more than 800 pieces, includes works by world famous artists Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Sylvie Fleury and David Shrigley. Since its first art inspired campaign, ABSOLUT WARHOL, in 1980s, the brand has a fruitful relationship with the creative world. Apart from the works of the world’s elite artists, an array of work in the pop art, trans-avant-garde and modern spheres by local artists have also been on displayed in each country. On the tour of the exhibition in Seoul, three Korean artists — music director and composer DJ Zuui; international film director and video performer Sakgayo; and talented installation artist Byun Dae Yong — unleashed their second-to-none creativity and expressed inspirations through sound, motive picture and installation arts at Gallery Ye. For DJ Zuui, music is inspiration and the music itself is a magical source of creation. So, in this exhibition, the Korean sound artist invented the world’s first



speakers made of ABSOLUT bottles. “Sound is what everybody cannot see, like the air, but they know it’s existing. It has become more wonderful when we can change the sound into music, giving everybody around us positive energy,” said DJ Zuui. Famous film director and video performer Sakgayo drank ABSOLUT VODKA for three consecutive days, mixing and matching the drinks, and transferred his experience and imagination into the vibrant and vigorous video under the concept of “Endless Change” where a number of ABSOLUT bottles have been transformed into many shapes and forms. Installation artist Byun Dae Yong had inspiration from the birth of mermaid and the energy that reflect the origin and meaning of ABSOLUT VODKA. Lee Gun Soo, art critic and editor-in-chief of Korean art magazine Wolgan Missol, said the Korean art pieces have opened the new dimension for ABSOLUT Art Collection and strengthened the brand’s

market positioning by promoting unlimited creativity among the artists around the globe. “ABSOLUT is different from other [brands that support art] because it does not give any force to the artists; the artists are supported in every way not to put the limit in their works,” he said. Gun Soo says pop art is “real” and “reachable.” Artists, fans of this trend, believe that every object in the world can be art and that the artist can be inspired by the modern world and by consumerism. So objects of everyday life become art as the artist randomly selects them. “Everything surrounding us can be art,” he said. “The abstract art is perhaps admired among art enthusiasts or high-end society. But pop art culture is reachable and is proved to be more effective for ABSOLUT to advertise and promote its commercial brand.”




aigon has undergone a style revolution in recent years with chic new shops, restaurants and bars proving to be as much a magnet for visitors to the city as the historical sights and chaotic street life. Ironically, what’s inspiring Saigon’s trendsetters is the city’s past, from the tumultuous events of the 1960s and 1970s to Vietnam’s cultural heritage and traditional crafts. While the city officially known as Ho Chi Minh City is steeped in history, with marks of the French colonial period and American presence during the Vietnam War sprinkled about the city, these days, travellers have more reason to visit Saigon than the Reunification Palace. That’s not to dismiss any of Saigon’s historical sights. Dating to 1877, the red brick Notre Dame Cathedral, with its iron-tipped spires, is splendid. More reminiscent of a French train station, Saigon Central Post Office, built from 1886 to 1891 by Gustave Eiffel of Paris’ Eiffel tower fame, is stunning — especially with Ho Chin Minh watching over the room (his portrait hangs above the clock at the far end). The City Hall, erected in 1908 and modelled on Paris Hotel de Ville (town hall), and the Opera House, built in 1897 by French architect Eugene Ferret, are the city’s architectural gems, spectacularly illuminated at night. The War Remnants Museum, established in 1975, should be the first stop for every newcomer to Saigon. When I recently visited the sobering exhibition — at times a gut-wrenching experience — I was astonished to overhear a conversation between two foreign backpackers: “So, this is all propaganda?” one asked her friend, “Is any of it, like, true?” “Yeah, I think so…” the friend responded, “I’ve seen this in the movies.” We were standing in front of a gruesome photo display of women and children murdered during the My Lai massacre — scenes I couldn’t imagine even the most skilful Hollywood special effects artists so realistically recreating.


Saigon’s street life is endlessly fascinating too and it’s mostly about the food. A warning though: the traffic is insane — there are millions of motorbikes on the streets and locals like to tell visitors that Saigon has more motorbikes than people — and it’s intimidating even to those who have lived in Asia’s most frenetic cities. Yet on the sidewalks life is relatively calm, even rustic. Petite women in patterned peasant pyjamas and the conical shaped hats called non la sell snacks such as cha gio, deep fried egg rolls, from two baskets that they carry on a pole across their shoulders. Street vendors sell banh mi, French-Vietnamese baguettes filled with spicy beef salad and other ingredients, which they make at small stalls. Simple eateries with shiny metal tables and seats serve up piping hot bowls of beef pho soup with plates piled high with fresh mint. Everywhere, people sleep on their bikes, precariously balanced but somehow looking comfortable. And Vietnam’s famous strong milky coffee, hot or cold, is somewhere close by to wake them up, served to customers who perch on tiny plastic stools. For a city that’s often cited as “booming,” whose growth and modernisation has been swift, Saigon’s city centre still feels quaint, even small town. Aside from the occasional shiny glass skyscraper poking into the sky, many accommodating sleek new hotels, such as the swish Asiana InterContinental, Saigon’s city centre still largely consists of low- and mid-rise buildings. Opposite page: Saigon style icon Mai Lam’s stunning shop. This page (from top): Motorbike madness on chic Dong Khoi street; interior of Saigon Central Post Office.


Leafy streets are dotted with art deco delights, such as the Hotel Majestic, and big breezy French colonial-era villas, many of which have been transformed into fashionable restaurants, such as Quan An Ngon, where food is prepared at hawker stands. Skinny “tube” buildings — narrow and deep because taxes were based on the building’s width — have also been converted into restaurants, such as the current hotspot XU, stylish multi-level boutiques, such as the space that is home to shops Dogma and Saigon Kitsch, glitzy bars like The Amber Room, and music venues such as jazz club Sax’n Art. Highlands Coffee, Vietnam’s version of Starbucks, is where locals head for free Wi-Fi and excellent Vietnamese coffee, while The Deck is the spot for another cocktails on the waterfront. Saigon’s style revolution started slowly, just over a decade ago, but it’s only now starting to gain momentum. The city’s fashionistas credit Hong Kong-born designer Christina Yu, a former fashion editor and designer for Shanghai Tang, who moved to Vietnam “for love” in 1995, as having sparked what many tell me has been more of an unhurried “evolution” than an “upheaval,” when she simultaneously established Vietnam’s first fashion label and opened her first Ipa-Nima store in 1997.

Christina’s exuberant handbags and accessories, identified by their flamboyant embellishments, are now sold all over the world and she has just opened her second shop in Saigon (and fourth in Vietnam) at 71 Pasteur Street, District 1. Christina claims that it was a combination of traditional Vietnamese artisanship and old world glamour that first inspired her, while travel, nature, art and life continue to feed her imagination. The contemporary, idiosyncratic designs of another Saigon style icon, Mai Lam, were also inspired by traditional Vietnamese handicrafts, such as the natural dyeing techniques of the ethnic minority Sapa people, as well as Vietnam’s history and culture.

Opposite page (clockwise from top left): The Deck, where Saigon’s style set go for sundowners; Mai Lam’s shop; Highlands Coffee, Vietnam’s own homegrown version of Stabucks. This page (clockwise from top left): Mai Lam’s beautifully detailed clothes in her Dong Khoi shop; propaganda designs at Dogma; Dogma’s hip store on funky Ton That Thiep Street.


This page (from top): Audrey Tran, the Vietnamese-French owner of Saigon Kitsch; beautiful L’Usine boutique on fashionable Dong Khot Street.


Mai’s idiosyncratic fashion features interesting embellishments and beautifully detailed applique and embroidery, sometimes stitched onto vintage U.S. army jackets and caps and bags made from recycled parachutes. A constant is the close attention to detail, from her signature lotus flower bronze buttons to motifs such as the dragonfly that appear on many of her pieces. It’s all sold in a stunning store that feels like a cross between a clothing boutique and an art gallery — Mai’s own paintings hang on the walls. Mai’s story is similar to that of other people I meet in Saigon. After Mai lost a brother and sister to the Vietnam War, she and her family fled to Australia in 1976. Refugees like Mai become known as “boat people,” because they’d arrived on small vessels that were far from seaworthy. The bravery and resilience that got them there ultimately led to success in other areas, especially in small business. Mai established a career as a hotel chef before opening a chain of florists, but like many of her successful peers, she eventually returned home. Soon after Mai and her husband moved back to Vietnam in 1997, and inspired by her new surroundings, childhood memories, and traditional Vietnamese crafts, Mai started making clothes from a small studio. In 2006, she opened her stunning Dong Khoi street store, now arguably Saigon’s hippest boutique and the one visiting fashionistas make a beeline for. L’Usine, Dogma and Saigon Kitsch are stylish new stores that visitors should also drop into. In an elegant, light-filled first floor space that is also on Dong Khoi street, L’Usine all at once reminds me of Paris and New York the moment I step foot in the door. A big, airy boutique, opened last year by Tib Hoang, a Vietnamese-Canadian who moved back to Saigon, L’Usine stocks mostly Vietnamese brands, many made by Tib’s family and friends, along with a handful of carefully curated products from around the world. You’ll find everything from women’s labels such as Tib’s sister’s line Trois Filles with its flirty, feminine frocks, to 100 per cent recycled clutch purses from Valerie Cordier, along with Moleskine notebooks, Lomo cameras and funky canvas Ho Chi Minh City shoulder bags, designed by Tib’s husband. There’s also a very cool cafe that could easily be in Sydney or Bangkok. Just six months old, Saigon Kitsch was started by 26 year-old, French-Vietnamese Audrey Tran, who left her home in Paris for Saigon, where she now lives with her grandmother. “I came here for a holiday two years ago and I never left!” she tells me, as I admire the cool retro gifts in her shop — scented candles, notebooks, coffee cups, purses and mouse pads — all featuring vintage designs from the French colonial period and familiar propaganda images, all designed by Audrey. Saigon Kitsch is located in one of Saigon’s tube buildings, shared by four funky businesses, including two clothing boutiques and an art gallery. “Rents are going up all the time now,” Audrey says, “It’s almost as expensive as Paris!” Upstairs is Dogma, a hip boutique owned by Saigon-local Tran Thi Kim Loan and her British partner, Dominic Scriven, a Saigon resident since the early 1990s, both of whom are passionate collectors of communist propaganda posters and art. All of the clothes — everything from dresses and T-shirts to jackets and bags — sport striking propaganda designs. While Saigon has powered into the 21st century at a rapid pace, it hasn’t left its history behind, and it’s the city’s returning emigrants, inspired by the past, who are partly responsible for this. As Mai Lam explained, “The long history of 1,000 years of Chinese influence, 100 years of French colonialism, and 30 years of civil war and American involvement, has somehow given Vietnam a very special feeling.” So what’s next for Saigon? “I can see and feel that Saigon is moving very fast in the direction of becoming a dynamic cosmopolitan city,” she says. “Fortunately, the charm of old Saigon becomes more obvious with more new buildings springing up. And now we have great restaurants, new hotels, designer labels and more shops opening that are contributing to the growth of Saigon … Saigon keeps changing every day as we speak. The entire city is constantly evolving.”

Lifestyle + Travel Special Promotion


“ART GALLERY RIVERSIDE HOTEL” Due to open its doors in June of this year, and combining a fine fusion of art and hospitality, the newest property from Buddy Group Hotels & Resorts, Buddy Oriental Riverside Pakkred, is idyllically located in the rich cultural haven of Nonthaburi, one of the principal historical regions in Thailand. The area around the hotel is home to many magnificent temples, many of which date back more than 400 years, and still remains a rich cultural haven even in today’s hectic modern world. This latest property also showcases a fine mix of art collections and various ornamental treasures.

//LOCATION Buddy Riverside Pakkred is located by the Chao Phraya River in Nonthaburi province, just 20 kilometres from Bangkok and close to the Don Muang airport, various government offices and the IMPACT Convention Centre in Muang Thong Thani. Don’t Miss “Koh Kred,” a small island on the Chao Praya River

that is famous for its pottery, Mon culture, and interesting traditional style houses, shops and architecture. The hotel is very conveniently accessible both by river and by road.

//ROOMS The hotel has 83 well-appointed rooms and suites, all of which feature interiors created using Thai and colonial styles, each offering a full range of top quality amenities. Room types vary from the Deluxe Room to Pool Access and Family Pool Access accommodation, and also on offer is a luxurious three-bedroom Pool Villa and the Riverside Suite. //FACILITIES/SERVICES This luxurious establishment houses a variety of services to suit everybody and is home to two function rooms which can accommodate up to 280 persons, a fitness centre, two outdoor swimming pools and a superb spa venue offering a wide variety of treatments within your own private spa and massage rooms. //RESTAURANTS Pazzo Italian Restaurant offers a tasty choice of fine Italian cuisine, and a range of delicious beverage options are available at the hotel, Wine Bar. Top quality Thai dishes can also be sampled at the Song Fang Klong Restaurant. Buddy Oriental Riverside Pakkred 17/55 Moo 7, Sukhaprachasan 2, Bangpood, Pakkred, Nonthaburi 11120 Thailand T: +66 (0) 2282 2831-3 F: +66 (0) 2280 1299 E: W:


“FOR YOUR CONVENIENT TRAVELLING” Due to open its doors in July 2011, Buddy Boutique Inn will offer a relaxing and comfortable stay combined with top-notch Thai hospitality within the heart of Bangkok. It is an excellent place for those seeking a peaceful and convenient base from which to explore all the “must see” tourist locations in Bangkok.

//LOCATION Buddy Boutique Inn is situated within the lively Khaosan district, close to the historic heartland of Bangkok and within walking distance of all the great cultural temples, museums and iconic national monuments, including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Royal Grand Palace, Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Democracy Monument, Golden Mount and the Rama VIII Bridge. It is also an ideal venue for those who wish to indulge in shopping, dining, travelling and for adventurous types wishing to enjoy the famous Khaosan Road nightspots.

as well as free luggage storage facilities. Guests can relax by the rooftop pool or work out in the Buddy Fitness Centre at Buddy Lodge Hotel. Massage treatments are available for those in need of pampering after a long day.

//ROOMS The rooms at Buddy Boutique Inn offer a choice of Boutique Standard Buddy Boutique Inn and Boutique Superior accommodation options, with each room decorated 62 Chakkapong Road, Taladyod, in a comfortable and modern fashion and equipped with all the facilities Bangkok, 10200 Thailand and services needed to escape the stresses of a long day’s sightseeing.          Pranakorn,                                                   T: +66 (0) 2282 2831-3 //FACILITIES/SERVICES F: +66 (0) 2280 1299 Buddy Boutique Inn leaves no stone unturned in seeking to make your E: stay as comfortable as possible. Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel, W:

The SLK 350 is the hallmark of cutting-edge design,which leads the way both in terms of appearance and performance, thus allowing the owner to enjoy the experience of driving a classic yet modern sporting model. The clearly defined headlamps closely resemble those of the legendary 190 SL from the 1950s, while maintaining a close visual link with the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG “gullwing model” and the new CLS. The classic shape of the side view helps emphasise the fine details, such as the unique new roof design aimed at providing better driving visibility. Innovative technology and state-of-the-art design is also a feature of the SLK 350’s interior space, allowing the driver and passenger the ultimate levels of high performance and comfort. With the most compact dimensions in its class, the new SLK has generous interior space meticulously designed and fitted with high-quality materials, with an attractive, shiny aluminium centre console. Wood can also be selected as an interior option in highgloss dark brown walnut or high-gloss black ash. The SLK’s round dials are flanked by an information display generated by an online computer for convenient access for both the driver and passenger. There is also a fine analogue clock that subtly underlines this model’s stylish character while a multifunction sports steering wheel with a flattened bottom section and a thick leather crown heightens the impression of luxury and style.

Mercedes-Benz offers a choice of three seperate roof types for the new SLK, which can transform the model into a coupe with a “fixed” roof at the touch of a button.The standard version is a roof painted in the vehicle colour. Alternatively there is the option of a panoramic vario-roof with dark-tinted windows or the revolutionary new panoramic vario-roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL. With this version, the glass roof switches to light or dark at the press of a button, offering an open-air experience when light and welcome cooling shaded protection from the rays of the sun when switched to dark. The new SLK 350 model also leads the way in driving performance and safety. The powerful new V6 6-cylinder engine allows an acceleration rate of 5.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h (top speed 250 km/h) and delivers superb performance while saving up to 25 per cent more energy than the average model. Setting new benchmarks in terms of safety, the new SLK also comes with the latest assistance systems to support the driver, including the drowsiness detection system ATTENTION ASSIST, developed by Mercedes-Benz as a standard; and the anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE® and its Intelligent Light System, that provides five lighting functions which can be activated depending on driving conditions. This all-new revolutionary model can be ordered now, at a starting rate of THB 7,399,000.


LIFE ON THE GREEN Text by Jeep Musiket Main photo by Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul

At a glance, it is hard to guess his age and attitude, given his boyish face, neat haircut and clean-cut look. But when Nuttapol Jurangkool is asked to lie on the grass and pose for the camera, he braves the heat and the blazing afternoon sun, sits down on the ground with no hesitation, full of smiles and confidence.

is “down-to-earth” side wowed his staff at Summit Windmill Golf Club, where Nuttapol is seated as an executive director. Judging from the smiles of those who gather around the photo shoot, it is clear that the 34-year-old executive doesn’t possess just a hale and hearty outward appearance only. Passion, professionalism and optimism shine through his actions, and, of course, through his world-class golf course. On a light traffic day, it takes only 30 minutes from downtown to reach this one-of-a-kind, 158-acre golf course on Bangna Trat Road. Designed by renowned British champion golfer Nick Faldo, and opened to the public in 2002, Summit Windmill Golf Club is an oasis of green, a convenient, slow-paced escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its many visitors — more than 10,000 monthly — is proof of Nuttapol’s achievements. Nuttapol is the third child of the six heirs of Sunsern Jurangkool, president of Summit Corporation, one the leaders in Thailand’s automobile industry. Though born into a life of wealth and privilege, Nuttapol says the golf course isn’t just a passing phrase. Rather, golf is his passion and he has devoted himself full-time as an initiator and leader of his family’s golf business. Summit Windmill, he said, is thus far his proudest property. “Since I was a kid, my parents always encouraged me to play sports, and golf has been among my favourites,’’ he said. “And they always used to let me tag along to the factories, and when I was in college, I always had hands-on experience with the professionals who worked for my father. That’s how I learned to observe things, come up with ideas, and initiate new projects,” he said. Nuttapol always had an eye for the hospitality business. Once he received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts from Rangsit


It is our job to keep the green grass abundant all the time...I always inspect the golf course myself. If I can’t hear birds singing, there must be a problem.

University, he proposed his idea to his family, in order to branch out the family business into a brand-new scene. He searched for property in the Bangna area especially, where the family factory is located. Summit Corporation took over the Windmill Golf Club and turned this property into a world-class playground for local and international golfers. “Also, most of my family’s business clients are Japanese, and, as we all know, playing golf is a part of the Japanese businessmen lifestyle, so I found that investing in a golf club would be a profitable choice,” said Nuttapol, who also received a master’s degree in International Business from the U.S. After years of playing golf himself and servicing golfers from around the globe at his club, Nuttapol says golf has a lot to offer. “From meditation to attitude tests, you can learn these things playing golf. When you are in the game, you fight the heat and pressure. And to conquer it all, you have to be focused.’’ Golf and business are solidly intertwined, and nowadays the golf course is a buoyant venue where business gets done. “Golf is perhaps a hole-in-one relationship-building opportunity. Sometimes, when you play with your friends or business partners, you can observe and learn about their personalities through their style of playing in a given situation. You can also fix business problems or close business deals, since golf offers you some private time with them,” he said. “And it’s very relaxing.” Running a business is like playing golf, he says. Avoiding the pitfalls and the ruff is something one should try to do from the start. One also shouldn’t stop dreaming or fear new challenges. Nuttapol said his dream-come-true project, Summit Windmill Golf Residence, is a luxury service apartment offering both short- and long-term stays for golfers. It is, he said, another aspect of his desire to work in the hospitality industry. “With a pleasant view of green grass and a comforting atmosphere, it is a must-have place where one can admire the beauty of this property, so I came up with the idea of the residence project. This [project] is not all about me, but all for my clients. I want to treat them well,” he says. Nuttapol also plans to manage the luxurious property, Le Meridien Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Hotel, expected to be the first 5-star hotel in the Bang Na/Suvarnabhumi International Airport area. For Nuttapol, and for most city dwellers, indulgence in pleasant surroundings is definitely a “chill-out” privilege. The pleasant green space and the breath of fresh air here make this place a haven amid the city’s bustle. “Environmental concern is our priority. It is our job to keep the green grass abundant all the time. We also put in a lot of effort into maintaining and protecting big trees and the animals that live on our property. “I always inspect the golf course myself. If I can’t hear birds singing, there must be a problem.’’



URBAN LIFE THROUGH THE LENS Text by David Messiha and Krittiya Wongtavavimarn

Dallas-based photographers Hugo Garcia Urrutia and MK Semos take an unprecedented look at urban city landscapes through their unique lens. A cosmopolitan city overflows with energy, with a vibrant artistic life and street life happening under the shade of skyscrapers and giant bridges. The captivating allure of urban civilisation has inspired a number of artists — from designers and poets to modern-day photographers — to turn urban charms into works of beauty. Among such artists are Dallas-based photographers Hugo Garcia Urrutia and his wife, MK Semos, who are fascinated by the urban appeal. Owners of the Decorazon Gallery in Dallas’ Bishop Arts District in Texas, they capture the charms of cities around the world like New York City, London and Mexico City using a simple Holga camera, transferring the images onto planks of wood. “I have always been attracted to urban cities. I think it is the energy I feel in these places that inspires me,” Semos said. “We appreciate beauty and vitality, in this case achieving it through special places — cities that make us come alive with their concentration of colours and cultures, movement and high energy corridors.” The couple’s exhibits have taken them to different places from North America to Asia. Their recent exhibit in Thailand, called “Wooden Postcards,” showcased 20 pieces of photographic images of urban landscape full of nostalgia, decay and charm, being


transferred onto wooden floorboards. The images tell urban life stories and experiences in different places. With the twist of using wooden material, these photographs look antique and multidimensional. “Creating photographic sculptures in addition to two-dimensional artwork provides a new facet of motion for the viewer, and a component of surprise for us as the art creators,” said Garcia Urrutia. “I’ve enjoyed working with wood. The hardwood flooring mimics the silhouettes of the skyscrapers in the images and adds a super geometric shadow glow around the piece. Viewers can experience the grains and the colours of the wood as part of the image composition.” Each wooden postcard tells the history of each place, describes how congregations move, and implies the energetic footprint the people have left behind. From the Brooklyn Bridge in New York to London’s Liverpool Street Station, the couple have captured familiar iconic structures and everyday street scenes through the artistic lens. The imagery is initially created by Semos. For almost 15 years Semos has utilised a manual, very basic Holga film camera, allowing her to create and manufacture intuitive collages of composition inside the camera by overlapping frames and double exposing the film. Later, after processing the film, “story boards” are chosen from her

lengthy narrative of images, signs, pop-colour and surprise code. Her cross-processing technique gives colours maximum saturation. Every piece of the postcard projects the idea of unity, they said. “From city to city, we as people can claim many more similarities than differences. If you look closely in the collage of imagery, you will find many positive subliminal messages. For example, Sin Limite literally means ‘without limits.’ Look closer and you will also find the word ‘mundo’ underneath, which means ‘world’ in Spanish,” said Semos. The work is taken to another level with the expert effort of Garcia Urrutia, as he experiments with different unorthodox substrates and photographic finishes. He first started with papers, plastic and acrylic. But a few years ago, there was a sharp rise in the price of petroleum, so the couple experimented with new materials, then ended up using wood they found as one of the most durable and unique materials for artistic work.

Wooden Postcards make excellent decor. Not only is the artwork highly conceptual, but the wood also integrates well with furniture in most people’s homes, making them really easy to incorporate in homes or office/corporate spaces. “Many clients acquire this work having a special connection to a city or place, and have said that they continue to see new effects in the art work, hopefully forever evoking many positive thoughts or memories for the viewer,” Semos said. “Reclaimed wooden floorboards are good quality wood. It gives you a warm feeling and you can cooperate between the lines of the grains and knots,” said Garcia Urrutia, adding that the images are finished with a lacquer for an increase in fade resistance. “We really like the warmth of the images on wood. The colour of wood always changes, depending on the effect of lighting.” While in Thailand, Garcia Urrutia and Semos took snapshots of bustling Bangkok and Chinatown. “There is so much movement, concentration of people and transportation, cultures, colours, foods, merchants, smells of incense... it’s so alive! And you have modern architecture right next door to traditional historic buildings, and the backdrop is the zen of a Buddhist temple with fuchsia and lime green taxi cabs whizzing by. We are completely mesmerised and artistically stimulated by the City of Angels,” said Semos. Both have earned artist in residence spots with the luxe Fairmont Hotel chain, where they produce brand-new artwork in house, in the Fairmont’s downtown Dallas location. Hugo is also presenting an installation project called “Making a Killing” in response to the corrupt drug wars in Mexico, and the piece is showcased at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas. They also have another exhibit at the Angela Royo Latin American Art Gallery in New York City scheduled in October 2011, in which they will be displaying pieces from their tour of Asia, which will include photographs from Bangkok.


Within the resort area, Ana is wearing

a top and cotton skirt from Paul & Joe Sister, sandals from The Cat and wood bangles from Revival.

Sitting amidst lush greenery, Ana is wearing a silk-jersey top from Paul & Joe Sister, cotton shorts from Rebeca, necklace from Revival and sandals from The Cat.

Wandering inside Palio Khao Yai, Ana is wearing a silk-chiffon dress from Rebecca, shoes from The Cat and bracelets from Revival.

In front of the lobby, Ana is earing a lace-silk dress from Rebecca, and necklace and crystal bracelets from Revival.

At MYTH, Ana is earing a blouse and cotton trousers from Rebecca, silk scarves and necklace from Revival, and sunglasses from Chloe.

Inside Muthi Maya Forest Pool Villa, Ana is wearing a silk top from Paul & Joe Sister and shorts from Jaspal.

Photographer: Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul Model: Ana L. (Apple Model) Stylist: Chaichan Jantarasuwan Make-up & Hair Stylist: Manunchaya Kuhasuwan Fashion Coordinator: Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul Special thanks to: MUTHI MAYA 1/3 Moo 6, Thanarat Road, Moo-si, Pakchong, Nakorn Ratchasima 30310 Thailand

PALIO KHAO YAI 146/1 Moo 4, Thanarat K.M. 17 Road, Moo-si, Pakchong, Nakorn Ratchasima 30310 Thailand

STOCKLISTS AN AWL 3rd Floor, Central Chidlom, Bangkok

+66 (0) 2793 7777

CHLOÉ Main Floor, Siam Paragon, Bangkok

+66 (0) 2610 9000

JASPAL 2nd Floor, The Emporium, Bangkok

+66 (0) 2664 8369

PAUL & JOE SISTER 2nd Floor, Siam Paragon, Bangkok

+66 (0) 2690 1000

REBECCA 3rd Floor, Siam Center, Bangkok

+66 (0) 2662 1810

REVIVAL G Floor, Siam Paragon, Bangkok

+66 (0) 2742 2513

THE CAT 3rd Floor, Central Chidlom, Bangkok

+66 (0) 2793 7777

Red handbag from Armani Exchange (USD 155), G-Frame wristwatch from Gucci (USD 1,255), High-heels from The Cat (USD 60), Sandals from An Awl (USD 56), Pearl bracelet from Revival (USD 60)

:-)5A .);+16)<176


,):16 ,-;<16)<176 Leather shoes from CPS (USD 175), Trousers from CPS (USD 75), Allure Homme sport fragrance from Chanel (USD 115), Leather belt from CPS (USD 50), Jean shirt from Zara (USD 65), Bag from Armani Exchange (USD 199) Location: Casa Pagoda Home Furnishing, Bangkok, Thailand Stylist: Chaichan Jantarasuwan Photographer: Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul







Food guru Nateampai Sarakosass shares some of her special lotus dishes that please your appetite.

TOKYO CAFE The newly-opened restaurant is committed to serving JapaneseItalian bistro-style food in a casual, cosy atmosphere.

MARINA BAY SANDS The Marina Bay Sands resort is now home to some of the world’s most exclusive celebrity restaurants where Asian diners can enjoy highly creative dishes under one roof.





Society lauds productivity and hyper-efficiency, perhaps too much so. Take time to unsubscribe from this hectic lifestyle — for a short while — and to savour the simple joys of slow living.

Living lightly leads to long-lasting happiness. Leo Babauta shows how.


SACRED FINDINGS Text by Nateampai Sarakosass Photos by Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul

Greatness is not sought after; it presents itself in the least expected way. The seeds of greatness lie within all of us.


t is refreshing when you realise that there is someone who is more than willing to lend a helping hand even though you don’t ask for it. This happened to me when I met Uncle Sy, or Sayan Jarupathirun, in Chicago. We have known each other since 1996. Back in Chicago, he was a beacon of light in the darkness when there was no one I could turn to. He was a good friend when I was lonely, a great parent when I needed support. I never had the chance to thank him for all that he had done for me. It was his acts of kindness that touched my heart and I want to show him how grateful I am. As he is such a food enthusiast and always loves to try new dishes, I want to cook some special dishes for him using what I consider a wholly “sacred” ingredient: lotus flowers. The lotus flower grows in muddy waters and, when the plant matures, rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. This gracious pond lotus is regard as a sacred, symbolic flower and has deep philosophical meanings attached to it. The way the lotus flower rises above the water has long signified the wisdom of knowledge. Moreover, the way we hold hands in a budding lotus shape symbolises a sacred offering. I actually found this “sacred object” in the market, and it surely is the most appropriate candidate to be used as a key ingredient for Uncle Sy’s meal.

LOTUS PETAL TEMPURA & RIVER PRAWN Tempura Lotus Petal Lotus petals ½ cup Egg whites ½ cup All-purpose flour Pinches Salt and pepper 1 pot Deep-frying oil Seared River Prawn 2 River prawns — cut half length-wise Pinches Coriander powder, salt and pepper 2 tbs Olive oil Salsa 2 tbs 2 tbs 1 tbs Pinches 1 tbs 1 tbs 1 ts

Diced onion Diced tomato Diced Jalapeno Salt and pepper Olive oil Lemon juice Honey

• Preheat the deep-frying oil at medium heat. • Whisk the egg whites with salt and pepper in

a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. • Fold in flour. • Dip the lotus petal into the batter and coat both sides. • Slowly lower the batter-coated lotus petal into the heated

• •

• •

oil. Fry one side first, then flip to fry the other side until it has turned golden brown. Rest in a paper-lined tray. Preheat a pan with olive oil at medium heat. Season the prawn with salt, pepper and coriander powder. Sear the prawn with a covered lid for 2 minutes until it turns brown. Toss the salsa mixtures together. Set aside. To serve, place the prawn in the centre. Spoon the salsa over the prawn and decorate with lotus petal tempura.

CANDIED LOTUS PETAL & LEMONY BABY LOTUS SEED Candied Lotus Petal 10 Lotus petals 1 Egg white 2 cups Sugar • Brush the lotus petal with egg white then gently coat the

petal with sugar. Do not use too much sugar. • Let the lotus petal dry on wax paper for a day, then keep

them in an air-tight container.

Lemony Baby Lotus Seed 4 tbs Baby lotus seed 3 tbs Sugar 2 tbs Water 1 tbs Lemon juice 1 ts Vanilla extract • Add the mixture into a pot and heat to boil for 30 seconds,

then set aside for use. • The candied lotus petals and the lemon are great when

served with ice cream and sorbets.



COSY CORNER Text and photos by Krittiya Wongtavavimarn

The newly-opened On the Table, Tokyo Cafe is committed to serving simple JapaneseItalian bistro-style food in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. hile many fusion restaurants tend to sell themselves as upscale and trendy establishments, On the Table, Tokyo Cafe at CentralWorld prefers to send out a homely and welcoming message. With a spacious, simple and stylish interior creating a refreshingly grown-up and casual ambience, the restaurant is furnished with marble tables, streamlined overhead lamps, homely wooden decor, comfy couches and pillows — the restaurant would easily fit nicely into a modern setting, such as you might find in J Avenue or K Village. This newly-opened restaurant demonstrates what fine dining should be. It is a family and friends-type of eatery, offering food of the ungarnished, wholesome variety and delicious desserts at affordable prices, whilst being refreshingly free of crowds, offering quick and easy


On the Table, Tokyo Café 6th Floor, CentralWorld (Beacon Zone) 999/9 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Thailand T: +66 (0) 2613 1558-9 E: W:


service. The chefs create a home-style blend of Japanese and Italian cuisine to help enhance your flavour experience, offering an array of vibrant a la carte menus, from healthy sushi and avocado salad to Japanese curry and a thick T-bone steak. The meal started off with Baked Scallops Wrapped with Bacon in Garlic Butter (THB 155). The scallops are fleshy and have a sweet taste, and this is perfectly complimented by the bacon, which has a salty flavour. Pongi Maki, spicy tuna and avocado rolls topped with Mentaiko (THB 180), is another healthy appetiser, which has plenty of fresh-tasting spicy tuna inside a covering of rice, coated with black sesame seeds, served with balsamic teriyaki sauce, yielding a fine combination. The Spicy Sashimi Salad (THB 220) offers a wide variety of fresh and crispy vegetables, balancing the tasty cold and raw fare with healthy salmon sashimi. On the Table also offers Avocado and Strawberry Salad, a perfect meat-free starter. Slices of avocado make a different and interesting vegetable salad when combined with a simple honey mustard dressing and sprinkles of sesame seeds and, of course, fresh strawberries. What goes along perfectly with both salads is the Spaghetti Ebiko (THB 180). The pasta is cooked to a perfect consistency and served with prawn tempura in a rich sauce. Ebiko, or shrimp roe, is sprinkled on top for decorative effect. The sauce, a subtle blend of creaminess and saltiness, is lip-smackingly good. No meal is complete without dessert. The Chocolate Lava Marshmallow with Vanilla Ice Cream (THB 115) is a must-try. This chocolate lava cake recipe is without doubt irresistible. Its perfect liquid centre literally melts in your mouth. A touch of bitterness in the cake meets with the hint of the sweetness of marshmallow. The ice cream is also creamy, light and fluffy, with a great texture and subtle vanilla flavour, hence making this dessert the perfect finishing touch to the dinner. All in all, the restaurant has everything — looks, ambience, service and stunning food. It’s a place you will always feel welcomed in, and I will definitely go back in the future.




he first restaurant in Asia by Mario Batali, who has written eight cookbooks, this Italian restaurant has two different dining concepts: Pizzeria Mozza comes with a wine bar and a variety of pizza selections, and the upscale Osteria Mozza features a free standing mozzarella bar, and serves pasta, seafood and meat dishes. The wine list features more than 700 selections from all over Italy. Pizzeria Mozza offers a variety of options for foodies, pizza mavens and wine geeks in Singapore. The special thing about the pizzas here is the light and crispy crust. Try Bataliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s famous Margherita Pizza (with mozzarella, tomato and basil), Fennel Sausage Pizza and Funghi Pizza (with a spread of mushroom). Pizzeria Mozzaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Chicken Liver Bruschetta and White Bean Bruschetta are also worth a try.

GUY SAVOY ocated on the mezzanine level of the resort’s casino area, Guy Savoy’s first restaurant in Asia serves food just as inspiring as its award-winning Parisian partner. His dining room has a bistro-esque atmosphere. Guests can dine in the modernist dining room or have a pre-dinner aperitif at the champagne bar. It is intimate and warm, with a glass-encased wine cellar and floor-to-ceiling windows framing an impressive view of the bay. Chef Savoy, owner of the highly acclaimed three-Michelin-star restaurant in Paris, has profound respect for his carefully selected ingredients. One can taste the freshness of the ingredients from his pristine, perfectly briny Oysters in Ice Gelee: Kusshi mollusks resting on an oyster-and-cream puree topped with oyster-kissed gelatin. Equally flavourful is his signature Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup, a delicate creation that invites the diner to dunk the toasted mushroom brioche with black truffle butter in the soup. Also try Cocotte of Foie Gras with Radish Salad and Jus, and Roasted Monkfish with Shallot Confit and Potato Maxim for maximum pleasure. The chef says the resort has created excitement on Asia’s culinary scene. “It’s good for everybody — for us, for the guests and for the hotel. The venue is an upscale gem where guests can enjoy an evening of fine dining from many world-class chefs. It’s a win-win for all,” he says.




hef Tetsuya Wakuda’s first establishment outside of Australia, Waku Ghin is a first-class restaurant featuring a sake bar and caviar lounge, as well as an impressive, arcing display of the 3,000-bottle wine collection. Guests have the privilege of watching skilled chefs prepare food on steel cooking plates. The chef says this is a “more personalised restaurant” for him. Designed with an exacting attention to detail, Chef Wakuda’s personal imprint is found throughout this chic and unified 929-square-metre space. The carpet in the main dining room draws inspiration from the undulating forms of folded steel found in one of the chef’s knives, while small wall niches throughout the hall hold works of art from the chef’s collection. The restaurant has only 25 seats and enough staff to ensure that diners never have to beckon anyone for attention. He also uses only top of the line equipment and ingredients. “I can easily and quickly find both winter and summer ingredients and create more personalised menu for guests,” he says.




Marina Bay Sands 10 Bayfront Avenue Singapore 018956 T: +65 6688 8888 W: How to get there: Singapore Airlines operates passenger services from 62 cities in 35 countries around the world. Four daily flights between Bangkok and Singapore are operated by wide body Boeing 777 aircraft with two cabin class configurations: Business Class and Economy Class. For more information, visit

esigned by award-winning interior designer Tony Chi, CUT at Marina Bay Sands is Wolfgang Puck’s latest restaurant in Asia which offers an elaborate menu featuring the finest cuts of beef from the U.S., Japan and Australia, plus lamb from Colorado, an array of cutting-edge menus and more than 500 wines. CUT also features an exclusive menu of hand-crafted cocktails at the bar and lounge, accompanied by light bites such as Kobe Sliders, Steak Tartare, Hokkaido Scallop Tartare and Wasabi Kosho Ponzu. Neatly cut into tasty portions, Trio of Sirloin Skewers are cooked medium rare with the meat being perfectly juicy with a crisp browned skin all about. A sprinkling of salt and cracked black pepper bring out the deep flavours within. Hokkaido Scallop Tartae and WasabiKosho Ponzu offers crisp, refreshing and light flavours bound with the firm texture of the scallops. Lemon Tart and Banana Cream Tart also make a rich and creamy end to any meal. Puck brings as authentic and close as possible the culinary experience one would get at his existing stellar restaurants and cafes in Los Angeles and Tokyo. “We recreated our restaurant from Beverly Hills to here, which has the same quality, good service and environment,” says Puck, who also sees opportunities in opening more restaurants in Bangkok, Shanghai and Jakarta. Puck’s formal training in the culinary arts started at the age of 14. His bold, innovative style of cooking has redefined fine dining in the U.S. and around the world. “I love cooking,” says Puck. “When I cook, I don’t think of anything else. It’s like you get lost in cooking. In business, you have to think about money. When you cook, you just cook and you don’t have to think about anything else.” Singapore’s renowned chef Justin Quek and Spain’s late Santi Santamaria also boost the image of Singapore as a world-class food city with their new five-star restaurants in Marina Bay Sands. While Hong Kong and Japan have been hogging the Michelin spotlight, Singapore too is indeed a culinary epicentre in Asia.



BALANCING ACT Main photo by Faisal Ariff

Society lauds productivity and hyper-efficiency, perhaps too much so. Krittiya Wongtavavimarn shows how to unsubscribe from this hectic lifestyle — for a short while — and to savour the simple joys of slow living. orking late, constantly checking inboxes, making phone calls, meeting clients and devouring caffeine for the sake of “meeting deadlines.” In today’s world, none of this is unusual. But the rush of activity can be a drain on our energy. We tend to become more and more stressed, depressed, less focused, self-centred and captured in technological traps. We forget how to eat healthy; how to go to sleep early; how to exercise; how to relax; and how to enjoy life. We have lost the art of just slowing down and listening to our own heart and soul. How to stop the energy drain and start the energy gain? One of the cures seems simple: slowing down. Savouring a slow life starts with simplifying and enjoying the moment of “here and now.” But obtaining or even keeping the “slow down” mentality isn’t always easy. I conducted a little “experiment,” giving myself some limitations, giving up the security of a familiar way of life. I went to Six Senses Sanctuary Phuket, which sits on Naka Yai Island in the glittering, clear Andaman Sea. Just five minutes’ speedboat trip off Phuket from Ao Por Pier, I arrived at this tranquil resort and I was most impressed with the serene atmosphere, the positive energy and the


smiles of the staff. I went “offline” for a few days and lived life more slowly. I set myself many rules to break all my every-minute-counts habits, hoping that I could slow my speeded-up life down and bring it back into balance. No cell phone. No Wi-Fi. No email. No TV. No coffee. No meat. No night owl routine. No friends. No talk. No make-up. No mirror. No nothing. Establishing these limitations gave me strength to unplug myself from work and social communication as well as time to clean up my thoughts and to cultivate some awareness. Staying in a 450-square-metre pool villa facing the ocean and having a personal butler made life seem a bit opulent. However, the experience at this six-star resort taught me to slow down and be down-to-earth. SLOW LIFE — Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experiences — is the core of the Six Senses’ philosophy. So my trip was not merely an escape or a period of rejuvenation, or a hard-core Vipassana meditation retreat, but an opportunity for healthy living and a lifestyle transformation. Given all the rules that I have for myself, it was not possible to sustain my old habits. This gave me the chance to glimpse “myself” and the more positive side to life that is there right in front of me at each and every moment.

SOME SLOW LIFE LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ALONG THE SIX SENSES JOURNEY... WALKING: THE PRACTICE OF MINDFULNESS When you walk, you become aware of every step. Yes, we walk every day, but how many times in life do we walk aimlessly, simply to feel the place, the people, the surroundings? It took time for me to walk from place to place at this huge resort, but it was less stressful, more fun. I explored nature, engaged the senses in the sounds of birds calling in the distance, and lost myself in endless valleys of lush green forest. Walking from my villa, passing the organic farm and mushroom hut, to the main restaurant in the resort, burned around 24 calories, plus a few extra calories jumping over geckos and frogs. Sometimes when I walked at night alone, I felt threatened. Slowly, however, I came to appreciate the solace and pleasure of walking alone in the dark and the wilderness. It was quite unlike any other experience. I gave myself strength, pushed away worries and fears. My terror was replaced by caution and profound appreciation.

LESS IS MORE When I have less hassle, I have more patience. When I have nothing much to do, I have more time to sleep. When I have less worry, I have more smiles. When I have less work, I have more exercise. When I have less conversation, I have more self-reflection. When I have less rush, I have more peace. Savouring a slow life starts with a mindset that tries to stop complaining, to enjoy the moment as it is. I do what Thich Nhat Hanh says: “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” The lush green surroundings and pollution-free area enabled a flow of positive energy at the resort. I left my watch and cell phone in the room and went with the flow of the ticking sound of nature. I sank my feet into the sand, breathed in fresh, delicious air to revitalise my body and mind, and of course, I smiled.


BREATHE AND EXERCISE TO ESTABLISH RHYTHM AND ENERGY FLOW The Wellness Centre is the heart of the resort and there are a range of fitness programmes, health consultancies and spa treatments to choose from. I wandered up to the open-air yoga pavilion, moved through a sequence of mindful poses (asanas), and expanded the soul’s energy towards new horizons as I inhaled the fresh mountain breezes surrounding the spacious pavilion. Practicing yoga on the beach also helped me to open myself to the all-encompassing universal energy of the yoga tradition. I also jogged in the Jungle Gym, where I worked out amid coconut palms and banana trees, accompanied by birdlife and the scents of nature. I had a spa treatment once a day, from Himalayan Hot Stone, Traditional Pra Kob Thai to the Six Senses Oriental Fusion. Being pampered while listening to relaxing music and raindrops was bliss. After the spa treatments, Mieng Kam, or Thai bite-size betal leaf snack, was served with hot bael fruit tea — a perfect treat for the body and care for the spirit.

EATING IS AN ART While I normally have an hour lunch break, I spent more than two hours finishing meals here. That was not because the service was slow. But I wanted to experience more of the flavour, texture and smell of the food. I wanted to slow down and chew more, which required patience. Too often we only chew food a few times before swallowing. Or we talk, read, or watch television while eating, not paying full attention to the food. Now I had a chance to look at my food, smell it, become aware of it. I chewed each bite 20-30 times before swallowing it, which aided in the digestion process, an added benefit. Slow eating, little by little, decreases the desire to eat, so you can stop eating before your plate is empty. The restaurant’s six-course raw food meal was one of the best dining experienVces of my entire vacation. I enjoyed raw fruit and vegetable bread with tomato and avocado dip, shiitake mushroom starter with orange and pistachio, asparagus cream soup with passion coulis, fresh organic salad greens with avocado and parsley pesto, and a lasagna made of cucumber, tomato, mushrooms, onion and a gorgeous nut bechamel sauce. Dessert was a raw chocolate mousse with mango passion fruit. Eating slowly and mindfully heightened the pleasure of the experience. Four days flew by and I went away inspired to get fit and live a healthier life. While there is no way to escape a hectic life and keep ourselves locked within our own comfort zone, we can learn to balance both secular and spiritual worlds if we have a strong, positive mind. It’s about living life in harmony with nature and a healthful heartbeat, rather than rushing through it at warp speed. And by slowing down, we can savour life to the fullest. Six Senses Sanctuary Phuket 32 Moo 5, Paklok, Thalang, Phuket 83110 Thailand T: +66 (0) 7637 1400 F: +66 (0) 7637 1401 E: W:



CHARMER’S ODOUR Dolce & Gabbana presents The one gentleman — a dashing fragrance which hopes to become a signature scent for courteous and chivalrous gentlemen. The amazing mix of pepper and grapefruit essence helps form a unique and magnetic combination to suit any discerning man about town.

SUMMER SCENT Not long after the recent showcasing of their spring collection, Issey Miyake has now launched their L’Eau d’Issey scent for this summer. The scent elegantly combines a delicate mixture of rose and pear water with peony and carnations in the middle and Osmanthus at the base.


BLOSSOM By Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul

SEXY GUCCI GUILTY Guilty Pour Homme EDT was launched as a counterpart to Gucci Guilty scent for women. The fragrance blends the relaxing scents of lavender and lemon with the subtle aroma of orange blossom. The bottle is a mix of metal and chunky glass, demonstrating the luxury and masculinity of the product, and is marked with a metallic Gucci symbol in the centre.

Get yourself energised and indulge in something different this summer by choosing a new favourite fragrance.

FOREVER ME Bobbi Brown’s classic fragrance, Almost Bare, is a timeless and fascinating scent for women, using a perfect combination of bergamot and violet leaves. The subtle fragrances of jasmine, cedar and amber will keep you feeling fresh and active all day long.

KEEP MOVING WITH BOSS ORANGE Having been recently chosen as the new face for Boss Orange, Orlando Bloom is a living icon for men who see themselves as energetic and charming in all sorts of ways, and this scent replicates that image to the max. Boss Orange combines Bubinga and Frankincense, with just a sexy hint of crispy apple.

VELVETY NOTE OF CHANCE A harmony of fruity floral aromas, combining quince with the soft scent of jasmine, helps to make CHANEL’s Chance Eau Tendre a lively summer scent. This scent will put sparkle in to your day with its long-lasting and sweet fragrance.




“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” — Eckhart Tolle (via The Mindfulist) oday I’m going to suggest a small change in mindset that could change your life. I won’t keep you in suspense. Here it is: think of nothing that happens as either good or bad. Stop judging and stop expecting. It’s a tiny change — all you have to do is say, “That wasn’t good or bad, it just happened, it just is.” It’s tiny, but it takes practice, and amazingly, it can knock you on your ass. Why? Because with this little change, you will no longer be swayed up and down depending on whether good things or bad things happen to you, whether people (and their actions) are good or bad. You will learn to accept things as they are, and move within that landscape mindfully. You will no longer expect good things to happen (or bad things), but will just take things as they come, and be content with whatever comes. This means you’ll no longer be disappointed, or unhappy.

T 74



Think of something good that happened to you recently, and how it affected your mindset. Now think of something bad that happened, and what that did to your mindset. Now imagine that neither event was good, and neither was bad. They simply happened, existed. How does that change how you would have felt as a result of those events? How does it change your happiness, your mood? How does it change what you do in reaction? When you stop judging things as good or bad, you are no longer burdened by the emotions of this judgment, and can live lighter, freer.

The second half of this change is just as small, but just as important: dropping expectations. Not lowering expectations, but eliminating them. Think about it: when we have expectations, and things don’t go the way we expect (which happens quite often, as we’re not good prognosticators), we are disappointed, frustrated. It’s our expectations that force us to judge whether something is good or bad. When you expect something of a friend, co-worker, family member, spouse, and they don’t live up to that expectation, then you are upset with them, or disappointed. It causes anger. But what if you had no expectations — then their actions would be neither good nor bad, just actions. You could accept them without frustration, anger, sadness. What if you went on vacation, to a place you had high expectations of, and it wasn’t what you thought it’d be? You’d be bitterly disappointed, even though it’s not the fault of that place — that’s just how the place is. It’s your expectations that are at fault. When people disappoint you, it’s not their fault. They’re just being who they are. Your expectations are at fault.bitterly disappointed, even though it’s not the fault of that place — that’s just how the place is. It’s your expectations that are at fault. When people disappoint you, it’s not their fault. They’re just being who they are. Your expectations are at fault.

NOTHING IS GOOD OR BAD Hamlet said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” He was right. Without the human mind, things just happen, and they are not good or bad. It’s only when we apply the filter of our judgment that they become good or bad, beautiful or ugly. A weed is only a weed when we don’t like it. Children are only naughty if we don’t like their actions. Life only sucks if you judge it as bad. But what about truly horrible tragedies, like a plague or tsunami or the Holocaust? Surely those are bad? Sure, through the lens of the judgment we’ve been raised to make, they are terrible. But then again, remove the judgment, and then…they simply happened. Death and cruelty will probably always make us sad, but they’ve always happened and always will, whether we like them or hate them. Holocaust survivor and author Victor Frankl wrote of a rich woman who went through the Holocaust, and who was grateful for the experience, as much as she suffered, because it opened her eyes. It transformed her. I’m not saying the Holocaust was good, but perhaps we can say that it happened. It serves as a lesson — one we should heed, by the way, in these days of politically charged hatred, of blaming our ills on immigrants and minorities. There are other tragedies that happen that aren’t necessarily bad. They’re devastating losses, without a doubt, but in life there are always losses, and people will always die. It’s how we judge them that determines our reaction, and determines whether we’re capable of dealing with it sanely.

THE WHY But why make this change? Why should we stop judging? Why should we stop expecting? Because judgments stop us from understanding, and can ruin our happiness. When we judge, we don’t seek to understand — we’ve already come to a conclusion. If we stop judging, we allow ourselves to try to understand, and then we can take a much smarter course of action, because we’re better informed by our understanding.

JUDGING MAKES US UNHAPPY. SO DO EXPECTATIONS. When we leave judgment behind, we can live in the moment, taking what comes as neither good nor bad, but simply what is. We can stop ruining our happiness with our thinking, and start living instead.

THE HOW So how do we start doing this? In small steps, as always. First, start by being more aware. Throughout the course of the day today, note when you make judgments, note when you have expectations, and when things don’t live up to them. Over time, you’ll notice this more and more, and be much more conscious of these types of thoughts. Next, pause each time you notice a judgment or expectation. Take a breath. Then tell yourself, “No expectations, no good or bad.” Repeat this, letting go of the judgment or expectation. Third, seek to see things as they are, and to understand. Be curious as to why things are the way they are, why people act the way they act. Investigate, empathise, try to put yourself in people’s shoes. See the landscape of your life as it actually is, without the filter of judgments or expectations. Next, take what comes. Experience it, in the moment. React appropriately, without overreacting because it isn’t as you hoped or wanted. You can’t control life, or others, but you can control how you react. Then, accept. When things happen, understand why they do, without judgment, and accept them as they are. Accept people for who they are. Accept yourself, without judgment, as you are. This takes practise. Finally, know that the present moment, being as it is, also contains infinite possibilities. And those possibilities are opened up once you see things as they are, without judgment or expectations.







Krabi, Samui and Hua Hin have a lot more to offer than pristine beaches. Check out some new eateries and hang-out spots for your next visit.

Each summer, thousands of sarong-clad men gather on Balinese beaches for the International Kite Festival.


FLOATING DOWN THE RIVER From Houei Sai to Luang Prabang, slow lifestyle along the Mekong River is full of beauty and fascination.





troll down the off the beaten streets of Venice and savour the slow moments the city has to offer.

Check out some of the best places where you can slow down your mind and experience life.


BACK FOR GOOD Text and photos by Zurakit Dajpratakchai

Clownfish are finding their way safely back to reefs in the vast Andaman Sea.


ince the release of the Disney-Pixar smash-hit film Finding Nemo in 2003, brightly hued clownfish have become the “in” pet that every fish enthusiast, child and adult alike, is eager to own. The price of the fish has increased threefold, from around a dollar each to more than three. The increased demand has caused the wild population of clownfish, especially in the Andaman Sea, to shrink, and in some areas clownfish have almost become extinct. There are around 28 species of clownfish, seven of which can be found in Thailand. Because of their striking colours and appealing, pretty faces, clownfish are the most popular aquarium fish in the pet trade industry. Some clownfish populations have all but disappeared because of their popularity in the pet trade and non-environmentally safe harvesting practices. Concerned over the depletion of clownfish, Pimalai Resort & Spa has joined with local authorities and the Department of Fisheries for the past seven years to re-establish a viable clownfish population near Koh Haa, an island near Koh Lanta in Krabi. Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, head of the Department of Marine Sciences at Kasetsart University, has worked closely with the Pimalai Free Nemo Project in releasing clownfish back home, safe and sound. The project was not successful in the beginning, however. During the first two years, volunteer divers released over 12,000 young clownfish near Koh Haa. Unfortunately, there was no safe haven for the fish and the area became a feeding ground for larger predator fish. In 2006, the team placed the clownfish in small cages on the seabed. Sadly, these cages were damaged and overturned by larger fish, and clownfish, again, were appetisers for predators. By trial and error, Dr. Thon and the team of volunteers managed to reintroduce nine breeding pairs to these waters over the past few years. The cages were wired together for a more robust structure. Eight fish were put into each cage and subsequently a number of breeding pairs were observed living among the sea anemones. Clownfish are prolific breeders and the female clown fish may lay up to 3,000 eggs every three months for a maximum period of five years. It is hoped that this natural breeding of these fish will eventually stabilise. The annual release of clownfish continues as a regular event and Pimalai’s commitment is to maintain this initiative with the intention of making the waters around Koh Haa a recognised fish sanctuary. Perhaps it is time to help clownfish survive in their anemone home and stop keeping them as pets in aquariums. If we don’t conserve the marine ecosystem, in the near future, Merline might not be the only one looking for Nemo; clownfish may disappear altogether.


KOH SAMUI Text by Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul / Photos by Zurakit Dajpratakchai

Koh Samui is much more than endless rows of coconut trees. These days it is recognised as one of Thailand’s rising hot spots for culinary delights. Explore some of the hip fine-dining haunts on the island. amui has been a famed tourist destination since the 1970s and also an enduringly popular pick for backpackers looking for adventure and a beach to chill out on, but Koh Samui today has also turned itself into one of Thailand’s rising luxury gourmet dining venues. Apart from the existing plentiful choice of restaurants along its 50-kilometre ring road, which encompasses the coastline, several new world-class restaurants have recently opened in booming five-star hotels to serve the rising number of well-to-do vacationers who yearn to enjoy a leisurely stay and good food in the luxurious ambience of Samui. Over the past three years, the number of glitzy restaurants on the island has increased to around 700 venues in total, excluding numerous local eateries and street vendors offering traditional fare at rock bottom prices. Although the number of tourists on the island may be limited due to the airport capacity of Koh Samui, the apparent oversupply of restaurant venues doesn’t appear to have increased the pressure on restaurant owners or hotel operators to bring in more customers. Instead, many of the restaurants have come up with a new strategy to bring in more people by inviting high-profile chefs to work in their kitchens. For example, Hansar Samui Resort and Spa brought Stephen Jean Dion, who used to be a private chef to His Majesty the King of Jordan, to work as an executive chef at its restaurant. Another award-winning executive chef at the Rocky Boutique Resort is Azizskandar Awang, winner of The Young Chef Challenge 2004 in Malaysia, and who has also won awards in other culinary competitions, such as the Malaysia-Singapore Culinary, Golden Chef Hats, the Australian Black Box Competition as well as the Chaine de Rotisserie. The more famous chefs there are on Samui’s gastronomic scene, the greater the variety of food and quality of service provided to customers, says Saiphayom Somsuk, chief of Koh Samui Tourism Coordination Centre, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).


“Many famous chefs here on the island are able to create stunning and unique dishes. The increased arrival of these culinary experts is a good way to promote Koh Samui as a world-class hub for mouth-watering international cuisine,” she said. “As we have a lot of restaurants here, many family-owned or small-scale restaurants ought to attempt to differentiate themselves, improve their quality and promote an excellent standard of service, and try to offer something special to their customers in order to increase the number of visitors to their restaurants.” Some hotel and resort operators recently teamed up to promote their international chefs and the rich, diverse and refined gastronomic culture these chefs have brought to the island. The main food events on Koh Samui are regularly organised by the five leading restaurants: The Cliff Bar and Grill; Rocky Boutique Resort; The View Restaurant and Wine Lounge; Red Snapper Bar and Grill; and Nikki Beach. Since August 2010, these five restaurants have co-hosted an exclusive dining experience programme called “The Secret Chef Society,” which takes place every two months and provides loyal diners with a special night of excellent food. The event has grown each time it has taken place and has become an extremely well-attended gathering.The most recent event, at The

View Restaurant and Wine Lounge, attracted more than 200 food enthusiasts. Whilst many hotels have revamped their restaurants’ images to focus more on the high-end market, Koh Samui still has many familyowned, local eateries that vary in price range and type of food, which are fully able to suit all visitor tastes and budgets. Chaweng Beach and Fisherman’s Village, for instance, have an array of venues offering a range of international cuisine from Italian and French to Indian and Mediterranean, within many and varied settings. Some visitors may be a bit surprised when they find that seemingly ordinary-looking restaurants are able to offer extraordinary pad thai lobster dishes artistically and skilfully prepared and presented by semi-retired chefs who have opened their own small restaurants on the island. Currently, the TAT is seeking to promote Koh Samui by highlighting the island’s romantic ambience and great cuisine, in order to be recognised as a leading high-end honeymoon destination for wealthy travellers from countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany. “If you visit Koh Samui once, you will definitely want to come back again and again. Perhaps one of the main reasons why is because of some of the delightful dining experiences that you will never forget,” said Saiphayom.


//THE CLIFF BAR AND GRILL 124/2 Maret Lamai Beach, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84330 T: +66 (0) 7741 4266; F: +66 (0) 9 7741 4267 E: W: The restaurant promotes itself as “the only place to spend your afternoon,” thanks to its excellent tapas menu, comfortable, grown-up ambience, and easy-going staff. Peruvian chef Adrian Torres, who had extensive experience working at restaurants in Spain and New Zealand, created his own unique menu. To make high-quality tapas, he chooses fresh ingredients and imports each of them from its country of origin — special sauces from Spain, mussels from New Zealand and king scallop from the U.S. His talent in preparing such a delicious variety of mouth-watering Spanish finger food helps make The Cliff Bar and Grill one of the must-visit restaurants on the island. Chef’s picks: tiger prawn in garlic and olive oil; U.S. king scallops a la parmesan; New Zealand mussels with Spanish chorizo.

//GOURMANDISE LOUNGE PASTRY AND RESTAURANT 60 Moo 1, Fisherman Village, Bo Phut, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320 T: +66 (0) 8 1381 1374 E: W: Gourmandise is an exquisite French and seafood restaurant nestled along the riverside street in the Fisherman Village. What makes the restaurant different from others nearby is its lovely pastry counter in front of the restaurant displaying an array of cakes and foie gras. It was actually the introduction of this little pastry counter that helped persuade chef Gerald Monier to move from Austria and help his friend open the restaurant a year ago. “I love to make pastry and the owner promised to have this little counter made for me. That’s why I’m here,” he said. He was also a pastry chef for Walch’s Event Catering in Austria for the BMW-Sauber F1 team from 2007 to 2009. His pastry guarantees a tasty experience and simply melts in the mouth. Chef’s picks: three styles of foie gras. This dish comprises one slice of terrine of foie gras with chocolate and coffee, one slice of pan-fried fois gras with mango chutney and one creme brulee of foie gras with Granny Smith compote.

//THE VIEW RESTAURANT AND WINE LOUNGE AT KC HOTELS & RESORTS 166/98 Moo 2, Soi KC, Bophut, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320 T: +66 (0) 7742 8088; F: +66 (0) 7742 8099 E: W: It is quite difficult to find authentic restaurants specialising in royal Thai cuisine in Thailand, but these are now freely available on Koh Samui. At this particular restaurant, Executive Chef Viwat Tanjinda is one of the few chefs able to learn firsthand the art, skill and technique of food preparation from chefs in the royal palace. Royal Thai cuisine is recognised as the most authentic Thai cuisine style and is still the food style enjoyed by the Thai royal family today. The food is prepared in an exquisite style, and is beautifully displayed within colourful porcelain dishes. The unique, exquisite and elegant methods of preparation and presentation as well as the cooking techniques used in the creation of royal Thai cuisine set the cuisine apart from other styles. “Truly authentic royal Thai cuisine is rare, even in Thailand, and it’s something that should be conserved,” said Tanjinda, who was a chef in a number of luxury resorts in Finland and Cambodia for six years. “I am proud to be one of those who helped to teach the classic culinary arts to future generations.” Chef’s picks: banana flower salad; fried prawn with tamarind sauce; grilled salmon with honey ginger; sizzling sliced chicken and vegetables on a hot plate.

//9GEMS LOUNGE RESTAURANT 141/190 Moo 6, Bo Phut, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320 T: +66 (0) 7725 6125; F: +66 (0) 7725 6124 E: W: This restaurant offers Asian and Italian fusion cuisine. Most of the menu items are the brainchild of 9Gems’ owner Sathit Muangprom and his partner. Every dish is prepared using the finest selection of fresh, home-made ingredients. The restaurant offers guests a choice of two cosy dining venues, either by the pool or in the rooftop alfresco lounge, which offers relaxing chill-out music and panoramic views of Chaweng Beach and Chaweng Lake. Chef’s picks: chicken Tandoori salad; Angus steak with chocolate sauce; 9Gems Macaroons.


THAILAND’S FINE WINE HOT SPOT ristine beaches. Fancy hotels. Luxury spa. Golf courses. Jazz festival. Night and weekend markets. Plearnwan Vintage Village. These are some familiar all-time favourites Hua Hin has to offer. But now perhaps visitors can add one more to the list: a striking, secluded vineyard. Thailand may not be a big destination for wine tours, and growing grapes in a tropical climate might be a challenge, but some vineyards in the country have come a long way over the years and continue to improve the landscapes and the quality of wines. Among the famous vineyards is Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, showcasing itself as a new hot spot for Thai quality wine. Located 35 kilometres west of Hua Hin, this one-and-only vineyard in Prachuap Khiri Khan was built on the site of a former elephant corral and is the home of Monsoon Valley wines. Visitors can experience the lifestyle of “New Latitude Wines,” the concept of growing winemaking grapes in the 14th and 18th latitudinal parallels. The vineyard offers visitors a chance to get off the heavily beaten tourist track, and sip fine Thai wine and savour the unspoiled flavours of fresh cuisine. Surrounded by magnificent mountains and spread over nearly 400 acres, Hua Hin Hills Vineyard benefits from a Mediterranean-style breeze and produces many of Siam Winery’s excellent range of grapes, such as Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Shiraz, Tempranillo and table grapes, a guarantee for future award-winning wines. Visitors can roam through the rows of grape vines on foot, on bicycle, or by an exclusive elephant tour, or wander around the plantation where a wide array of local vegetables and fruits are grown.


The Sala, a Thai-inspired pavilion housing a bistro, wine bar and retail shop, offers an exceptional alfresco dining experience with a splendid view of the vineyard and beyond. Guests can enjoy refreshments and an array of Thai and international dishes made from fresh local ingredients with vegetables from the vineyard’s very own market farm. The annual harvest season normally takes place in February and March and visitors can hop on a jeep and pick newly-ripened grapes from the grapevines. But during the off-season, the vineyard has a series of activities such as DIY wine label, in which visitors can paint their own unique wine label and take the finished bottle back as a souvenir.

Opening spread: A team launches a massive humming â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bebeanâ&#x20AC;? kite at the Baki Kite Festival at Sanur Beach, Bali, Indonesia.

UP IN THE AIR Text by Karen J. Coates / Photos by Jerry Redfern

oon, it will be time again to consult the wind and moon. When the season is right, the men will dress in skirts. They will gather in sand, banging gongs and dancing in the ancient way. They will fly kites. Long before tourists flocked to Bali and long before terrorist bombs scared them off, farmers appeased the gods with monstrous kites. It is a tradition born of religious reverence. It recalls the cyclical nature of village life: work hard, relax, plant rice, fly a kite. And in so doing, thank the gods for healthy crops. Balinese elders don’t want that tradition to die. So, each summer, thousands of sarong-clad men gather on Balinese beaches for the International Kite Festival. It falls in July or August, a time only Mother Nature can predict. “With kites, it’s not the date that’s important but the wind,” according to Tjokorda Alit Dalem, a kite connoisseur who has served on the annual festival committee. “We have to consult many things.” Men in neighbourhoods around the island prepare for months, handcrafting ancient and modern designs. Nearly 1,000 kites blaze through the sky. Grandfathers, fathers and sons fly in tandem. “They must work in a harmonious way,” Tjokorda tells me. That’s the point. “Kite flying has a very long, deep-rooted aspect in our culture.” These are not children’s toys, nor is this a game for the feeble. It takes 30 men to hoist a Bebean kite, shaped like a fish, 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. It takes another 50 men to hold the rope. Some of the most dangerous Balinese kites are Pecukans, which look like giant eyes. They can crash violently and unexpectedly to the ground. Janggan kites, like dragons, leave the greatest impression, with fluttering tails 200 metres long, sometimes even longer. There are newly created kites, too: a seahorse, a phoenix, a temple, an inflatable human figure dangling from a parachute, an aeroplane with its prop



spinning colours. These designs reflect a creative mind, “the same as what the forefathers did,” Tjokorda says. My education in Balinese kites was by pure accident. My husband, Jerry, and I take a little siesta between months of work in Thailand and East Timor. We stay near Kuta Beach, which turned infamous in 2002 when terrorist attacks killed more than 200 people. But our time there proved nothing less than lovely. Jerry goes for a stroll one afternoon and finds a dozen guys blocking the traffic as they lug a massive Bebean kite to their practice field. The young men are members of the Abian Base neighbourhood team, gearing up for the festival. Jerry follows and before we know it, we’re in a cramped market with two of the kite flyers, shopping for appropriate festival attire. The team has invited us to the competition with one proviso: we must wear skirts. Both of us. The look of my skirt doesn’t much matter, for this is a man’s event. And as a man travelling with the team, Jerry must look the part. That means two skirts: a traditional checkered cloth, called a saput poleng, over a plain black sarong fringed with hot-pink flames — ooh la la!

There is yelling up and down the line, 200 metres of rope fed among 100 hands, all eyes to the sky. The hummers hum and the kite whooshes like a hornbill, big and sturdy.

At 7 a.m. on festival day, we cram into the back of a truck among 30 bronzed men from Abian Base. We thump and jump to the clamours of gamelan, gongs banging, two giant Bebeans cinched to a bamboo frame above our heads. This is the team’s inaugural competition. “We make the kite every year, but this is the first time we follow the festival,” a young man named Wayan tells us. We traverse the island to Sanur Beach, surrounded by motorbikes, buses, cars and Jeeps carrying another 70 men on the Abian Base team. This is a big team, all dressed in bright bandanas, blazing orange shirts and the two requisite sarongs. On their feet? Reeboks, Nikes, flip-flops, combat boots or penny loafers. It’s a personal choice. And beneath those skirts? Gym shorts, “just like you,” another young man named Wayan tells Jerry. Most of the local men, it seems, answer to Wayan or Made. That’s because the Hindu Balinese are named according to caste. Wayan is the name given to all first-born children of the Sudra caste, which accounts for 90 percent of the population. The second-born is invariably a Made. The team flag flutters in the salty air as our procession chokes the street. Tourists creep through, clicking photos. When we arrive on site, the beach is empty beneath a baby-blue sky. Volcanoes flank the distant horizon. Within an hour, the place floods with little warungs, drink stalls, chicken grills and hordes of men huddled around team flags and gongs. Many of these men don’t work, but they all want to. Everyone wants a job in tourism, but positions are scarce. “It is very difficult because there are many men,” an unemployed 18-year-old Made Priadi tells me. He’s here sipping coffee with six companions. Two work in security, one at a cleaning service, and the others await something, anything, any sort of opportunity. “We have no money,” Made says,

so his team, like many, asked for neighbourhood donations to build its USD 100 kite. I finish my coffee and saunter off, as someone shouts to my back. “You have friend? Girlfriend? Maybe for me?” One of Made’s friends calls to me. “We are all still single! We have no girlfriends!” The crowd laughs. “Next year you come again? You call me and Wayan!” I smile, then wander through the city that has sprouted around me. So many men, so many gongs, so many skirts, so few women. The teams prepare for competition, hauling their kites to shore, where each one is meticulously measured. The tide laps ever closer until it’s here, amid our feet.

Opposite page, left: The team from Abian Base, Kuta, plays traditional Balinese music on gamelan gongs as they enter the competition grounds of the Bali Kite Festival with their two kites. This was the first time the team had competed and they flew two massive humming “Bebean” kites. Tape stretched between two curved bows vibrates and hums in the wind as the kite flies. Large kites like this require large teams, often of 30 or more, to launch, fly and land the kite. Dozens of teams from all over the island gather regularly for traditional kite-flying contests like this; right: Team flags flutter beneath a lightly cloudy sky, as the team from Abian Base, Kuta, arrives early at the competition grounds of the festival with their two kites. This page: The launching field at the Bali Kite Festival appears to be complete chaos as dozens of teams struggle to launch their massive kites, keep them flying and try to land them without breakage.



distant fields. Men line a nearby road with flags, gongs and cymbals. Abian Base launches again. Its tails are flapping. The kite soars higher and higher and higher; higher than all the rest. Then it’s farther and farther and farther past the food stalls, past other teams and spectators, past the staging area way, way out of bounds. The kite smashes in a squash field. When it goes down, so does the team. “It’s over. Bad luck,” says 19-year-old Prima Hadinata, who has been flying kites since the age of 5. “You see the line over there? We’re disqualified because we went over the line,” he says. “Sometimes when it falls improperly, it knocks you to the ground.” That happened to him the previous week during practice. Jerry and I mosey with the others toward the truck, ready to head home. The Abian Base kites are held high, but team spirits have wilted. It’s a sombre ride back, everyone sitting. Two gongs play for a single sad minute, then stop. But these men will survive. Prima tells me he’s a bit disappointed, but there’s always another day to fly kites. “It’s a part of our culture, our traditional culture. When somebody wants to make a kite this size, they just do it,” he says. “Everybody flies whenever they want to.” Whenever the wind decides, it’s time. Opposite page (clockwise from top): Kites and flags fly above the competition grounds of the annual kite festival at Sanur Beach. Dozens of teams from all over the island gather regularly for traditional kite-flying contests like this; a team launches a modern design kite at the kite festival. The central sections of this kite spin in opposite directions as the kite flies; contestant teams watch their kites take flight at the festival. This page: Long-tail dragon “Janggan” kites fight it out over the crowds at the festival.


The rules of competition are clear. Teams are allowed three chances to launch and keep their kites afloat; if they fail on all three tries, they’re out. Kites are rated on colour and craftsmanship, the tautness of strings, the hum they make in the breeze. They must “give a harmonious sound,” Tjokorda tells me. Each kite has two bamboo strips called hummers, which produce a giant throttling noise. Traditional kites must be coloured in white, yellow, black or red, representing the four cardinal directions in Balinese tradition. Skill is important, Tjokorda says, but so too are participants’ manners. “They should be polite, they should be thoughtful and decently dressed.” Decently, but distinctively. Every team flaunts a style. The Gumicik guys wear uniform shirts — “Let’s rock in the blue sky with kites” — and they grease their hair to pointy sticks standing tall atop their heads. Is this their usual style? “No, no, not every day. Just for this,” another Wayan tells me. A dozen teams are called to fly at a time; hundreds of men wrestling with ropes and hummers. When Abian Base launches its first Bebean, it’s a sprint 15 feet ahead until the wind boosts the kite up, up, up, toward the sea, team clapping until oh, so gently, it falls. But the team is there, ready to rescue. There is yelling up and down the line, 200 metres of rope fed among 100 hands, all eyes to the sky. The hummers hum and the kite whooshes like a hornbill, big and sturdy. Up and down, black and red, massive kites swarm against the blue sky. Shadows skitter across the sugar-cane fields. Young men, old men, little boys skip through tightening lines, eying the dangers above. Race, race, race! Clap, clap, clap! Bang that gong! One kite, then another, crashes on its team. Abian Base is still flying while others have faltered, but it’s losing, falling quick — tighten the rope! But then: it’s down for good. The next round sends each team acres from the sea, deep into

Getting there and getting around By air Bali’s Denpasar Airport is a major international hub. The island is about four hours by air from Bangkok, with several airlines (including low-cost options) flying the route daily. By car Several airport rental car and taxi companies offer services islandwide. Hiring a private driver (which can be arranged at the airport) is a good way to see and learn about island culture. For short local trips, flag down the small buses called bemos. Where to stay • Tropical Bali Hotel Jalan Padang Galak, Gang penyu dewata 3/2, Sanur, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia T: +62 (361) 282 524 W: • The Pavilions Bali Jalan Danau Tamblingan No. 76, Sanur 80228, Bali, Indonesia T: +62 (361) 288 381 W: • Sindhu Mertha Guest House Jl. Danau Poso No.53 Blanjong, Sanur 80228, Bali, Indonesia T: +62 (361) 286 736 W: Essentials The International Kite Festival is held each summer on the beach in Sanur, 20 minutes from the airport. Festival dates can vary, so check ahead with a travel agent or on one of the websites below. Useful websites Bali Tourism Board: Bali Guide:



THE RIVER Text and photos by Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul

hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing more important to me than to travel and to live each and every moment. I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even swap a bar of gold for that perfect split second of capturing something on film that I will remember for the rest of my life. The busy world we live in makes it all but impossible to capture such moments. We have a chaotic existence in which convenience and technology abound. High-speed Internet, automobiles, aircraft, digital cameras, computers, you name it â&#x20AC;&#x201D; all these stimulate desires that never seem to end. Even if you want to just slow down a bit, the current very often proves too swift to resist. But the effort can prove very satisfactory.


recently travelled on a boat from the capital of Houei Sai, in the Laotian province of Bokeo, to Luang Prabang — a trip of two days and one night. I was reminded that it’s not always about the destination, but bits of this and that along the way. Everything becomes intriguing when given our full and valuable attention. The things left undone and the stones left unturned in your past life that revitalise your hidden inspiration and imagination — such things can catch you off guard.


witnessed both sunrise and sunset on that boat before we decided to call it a day. My first night in Laos was spent in Pakbeng, a small village that is a major port for boats along this waterway. Pakbeng is located near a range of small hills that allowed me a quaint yet nevertheless breathtaking view of the Mekong River. After daybreak, we hit the river once again. I stopped to visit Whisky Village, where villagers make homemade whiskies, and delved into the beauty of Tham Ting, packed with a number of Buddha statues. Right before the moon showed off her luscious glow — or if you’re lucky, right when the sun takes a bow and radiates a warm, picturesque sunset finale — the boat took me to Luang Prabang, a quiet, minute town, but a benevolent and culturally rich one nonetheless. Not too caught up in the moment, I thought about the journey so far; it was long, but the bounteous nature, fresh air and the traditional lifestyle of the Laotians seen along the water offered something to truly treasure.


arly birds in Lu an g Pr ab an g can r i s e an d c a t c h sight of hund r ed s of B u d d h i s t mon ks s t ro l l i ng through the str eets . A mor n i n g r ou ti n e, th i s m us t s ee spectacle involv es Laoti an p eop l e of al l age s , f ro m th e elderly to charmi n g mad emoi s el l es , al l l i n ed up a nd w aiting to parcel out s ti cky r i ce u s i n g th ei r b ar e ha nds . A fter the men of faith i n b u r n t s i en n a r ob es r e t urn t o th eir r espective temp l es , th e mai n h i gh l i gh ts of thi s t o w n aw ait, including a p r omen ad e al on g th e s cen i c M e k o ng R iver, a quick visit to X i an g T h on g Temp l e an d P hu Si , an d a multi-course meal of Lu an g Pr ab an g s p ec i a l t i e s . Lu ang Prabang is the ep i tome of s i mp l e l i fe. I found t ha t many aspects of life h er e ar e gen u i n el y s l ow er th a n o t he r p arts of Asia â&#x20AC;&#x201D; espe ci al l y i n h ow th ey l i v e th ei r l iv e s a nd ev en in how they utte r th ei r w or d s .


hings inevitably ch an ge to s er v e th e n eed s o f t o uri s t s , t ho ug h. W ho k no w s ? A f e w y e a rs f ro m no w, L a o s m ig h t f in d i tself covered w i th s ky s cr ap er s . Ph a S i n mig ht be c o m e a m us e um o bj e t dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; a rt . B l a c k B e rry a nd i P ho n e u s e r s m a y line the streets. F as t food ch ai n s cou l d b eco m e c o m m o n. The s e pro ba bi l i t i e s m a rk a dra m a t i c f a c e l i f t t h a t m a y n o t be all that pleasurabl e. It w i l l al s o b e s ad to s ee pa ddl e bo a t s re pl a c e d by s pe e d bo a t s .


journey that takes s ev er al d ay s may s oon b e c o m e a thing of the pas t, ex cep t for tr av el l er s l i ke m e , w ho long to slow do w n an d r etu r n to a s i mp l er ex i s t e nc e . I h ope that the next ti me I n eed to es cap e th e rus h o f u rban life by returni n g h er e, th e “ s l ow - p aced ” bo a t s w i l l s till be around.



GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND By boat Luang Say Lodge & Cruises offers a cultural journey and an opportunity to glimpse the charming lifestyle along the legendary northern Mekong River on two- or three-day comfortable cruises of inaccessible mountains and sandy beaches along the mighty Mekong. Starting from Houei Sai in Laos, guests are taken along the Mekong to the Luang Say Lodge, near the town of Pakbeng. From guests’ luxury teak and rosewood bungalows, guests enjoy dramatic river scenery, fiery and romantic sunsets, mysterious and poetic sunrises. As the boat slowly travels from Pakbeng to Luang Prabang, guests can enjoy jungle, mountains, teak plantations and farmland, as well as villages along the river from several ethnic groups, ancient Buddhist temples and all the activities that contribute to the economy of the people in Laos. Mekong Cruises’ boats are well-appointed with amenities, safety and enjoyment, with ample open air seating, a bar, toilet facilities and a galley. Where to stay The Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng sits majestically above the Mekong River, blending artfully into the natural environment through careful landscaping, raised platforms and indigenous styling. It features 17 large pavilions, each elegantly furnished in dark toned wood and white fabrics, offering stunning views of the Mekong. The Luang Say Residence in Luang Prabang recreates a spacious and comfortable colonialist environment, consisting of a main residence building and five pavilions in a lush landscaped garden. Useful websites The Luang Say Residence: Luang Say Mekong Cruises:,

)$&76 Essentials: • The monks emerge from their monasteries to collect alms from about 5 to 7 a.m. If you wish to participate, fill the bowls with sticky rice only, not snacks or money. This is because when the monks return to their temple, locals bring food they have prepared in the early morning. • Making liquor at home is not illegal and can be done by just about anyone. Homemade alcoholic drinks are quite cheap and ubiquitous. If you’re on a boat and see a line of smoke from a house, it’s safe to assume they’re running a household “business.” • Joma Bekery Cafe is a French-Laotian coffeehouse worth a visit. They make fresh homemade bread every day and their coffee is quite rich. • The morning market is a lively fresh market that reflects the traditional way of life of the Luang Prabang people. You can find fresh and dried foods, as well as various peculiar animals along the way. After finishing your stroll through the market, head to an old coffeehouse named Pracha Niyom, where locals gather and chat amongst themselves. • There are two main night spots in Luang Prabang: Ratree Muang Sua and Dao Fah. Not to be missed is the unique dance demonstrations that can be found at both places. For those who love the riverside atmosphere, book a table at Utopia. • If you have time to spare, cross the river to the village of Xieng Maen. The villagers still live a simple life amid stunning natural surroundings. On top of a nearby hill is Chom Phet Temple, which offers a panoramic view of Luang Prabang.

SLOW VENICE Text by Lara Dunston / Photos by Terence Carter

Opening spread: Locals stroll Veniceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s quiet backstreets, where few tourists tread.


rriving from Marco Polo airport on a sleek water taxi might have appeared self-indulgent, but would have appeared more so had my husband and I been sipping bubbly. Calling the palazzo owner from the speedboat on my cell phone might also have made me look a bit snooty. I’m certain that’s what the backpackers dangling their legs over the edge of the wharf watching us thought as they sat munching apples. But how could we resist when the palazzo apartment we were about to check into boasted its own private water entrance? To arrive any other way is to not really arrive in Venice — and Venice is a city worthy of an entrance, even if Maria, the owner’s sister, couldn’t be found to let us in as we swayed on the bobbing boat on the canal outside our palazzo. To have such problems on our first day in Venice was quite delightful — better than complaining to a hotel receptionist about a room not being ready, or to a porter who took too long to deliver bags. Maria soon arrived and we were welcomed to our holiday rental, an ordinary apartment owned by ordinary people — except nothing in Venice is ordinary, including our new home, an enormous, sprawling apartment in a centuries-old palace slap bang on Venice’s Grand Canal. The fact is that for two weeks we were going to be living like Venetians. There would be no bellboys to tip, no bland breakfast buffets to rush to and no expensive midnight mini-bar raids to regret. We’d be shopping at the markets, cooking our own meals, cleaning up after ourselves, and we couldn’t wait. I sighed as I leaned out the window gazing over the sparkling Grand Canal with a coffee in my hand. The sky was cobalt and the morning light had that intense clarity only found in the springtime. I closed my eyes and felt a soft, cool breeze on my cheeks and heard the sloosh sloosh of water lapping against the sides of our neighbours’ boats parked below.


An American family of four, a young couple and their teenage children, wearing T-shirts, khaki shorts and sneakers, bickered loudly down at St. Toma dock about what time the vaporetto, the public ferry boat, would arrive. The wife leafed through her Frommers guidebook, the father fiddled with his iPhone, the daughter studied the timetable, while the son played a computer game. They waited impatiently while I tried to will them to simply enjoy the view. A dapper, silver-haired, Venetian gentleman arrived in a crisp, striped cotton shirt, ironed jeans and polished shoes. A middle-aged woman in white linens, fire-truck red lipstick and perfectly coiffed hair joined him. “Ciao! Ciao!” they greeted each other warmly, kissing cheeks. Another spiffy-looking man with a newspaper under his arm arrived. Then a little old lady in a cream-coloured suit, pulling an upright shopping cart… and then another, and all of a sudden the vaporetto was there, and people were piling on, and the family look relieved. “Who has the tickets?” I heard the son ask loudly. The parents looked at each other. The daughter rolled her eyes. These were the things I observed as I looked out our windows each day, with a coffee in the morning and a spritz in the afternoon. Things I’d never noticed staying in a hotel here before, either because the hotel wasn’t in a neighbourhood where I could watch Venetians and their visitors going about their business, or I didn’t have time because there were too many other things to see: churches, museums and galleries. Opposite page (clockwise from top): The sprawling square of Campo SS Giovani e Paolo, home to the Scuole di San Marco, a 13thcentury church, and a statue of Bartolomeo Coleono; the prettilypainted bow of a traditional Venetian boat; the vaporetto or public ferry on Venice’s Grand Canal. This page (from left): Architectural detail of the Venetian palazzo; locals enjoy drinks at a hidden bar opposite Rialto markets.


In two weeks, we became the people we always envied on previous trips to Venice: the ones who sipped sparkling drinks in the windows of their palazzos as they surveyed the ever-changing scene on the Grand Canal below. Our palazzo was located in the St. Polo sestieri or neighbourhood, just a 15-minute stroll to Rialto markets where we bought fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables each morning, except Mondays, when we walked to the square beside Piazzale Roma, Venice’s main transport hub, to an organic market with even more beautiful fresh produce, grown on farms such as St. Erasmo, on islands in Venice’s lagoon. We quickly learned that the best time to go to Rialto market was around 8 a.m., and no later than 11 a.m., by which time the local restaurateurs had poached the best produce. The traders at the organic market, however, won’t even think about starting to set up until 11. After their second spritz and plenty of gossip, the stalls were up in an hour. Little old ladies with shopping carts and workers on lunch breaks streamed into the square around noon, and by 2 p.m., the empty stalls were looking forlorn. At both markets, we realised that we could find bargains by watching what the old ladies bought. When we went to the Rialto market, we drank a spritz with the locals after we did our shopping, whereas at Piazzale Roma it was before, at the Due Ruole Snack Bar. Inevitably, we were in such good spirits we always bought way more than we needed from the organic market.


We discovered that there were few things more Venetian than the spritz — the vivid tangerine-red aperitif that Venetians drink at any time of day, but most commonly mid-morning and late afternoon, in the sunshine and in the company of friends. We took to drinking them too. We did a Venetian cooking course with Countess Enrica Rocca, whose first piece of advice to us before the class began was to “cancel dinner plans.” We began our “course” at Rialto markets, where we bought gorgeous produce we would cook that day. After shopping, we headed to a bacari (wine bar) for a spritz. The Americans in our small group were a little shocked at this morning ritual, asking if this was normal. We smiled and nodded. We ordered them most nights at a bar we fancied with alfresco tables on Campo Santa Margherita, a piazza lined with trattorias and bars that was a nightly meeting place for local university students. We made the drinks at home, enjoying them as we watched the sun set over the canal. This was the recipe we used: two parts prosecco, one part Aperol, a splash of sparkling mineral water or soda, and a slice of orange or green olive. On a previous trip, we had fallen in love with a San Polo restaurant that was impossible to find, Antiche Carampane. Venice, which has one of the finest and most idiosyncratic cuisines of Italy, based on seafood in all its forms — fresh, marinated, grilled and fried — bafflingly has a bad reputation when it comes to eating. It’s the fault of restaurants in the well-trodden, picturesque locations that appeal to tourists, which have compromised their menus, serving characterless pan-Italian fare to please people who know no better. And it’s those who know no better who then head home and tell their friends about Venice’s bland cuisine. The truth is that there are many restaurants in Venice serving terrible food, just as there are many in Paris, London and New York. But Venice also has gastronomic gems and Antiche Carampane is one of them. This explains why Antiche Carampane has a sign out front that says: “No pizza, no lasagne, no

menu turistico.” This is one reason we love the place. When we arrived this time, we were greeted with generous smiles from the group of family and friends (the staff) sitting around the table chatting, elbow-deep in freshly peeled shrimps and cleaned octopus, mountains of shells piling up. It was a ritual enacted every morning after owner Francisco and chefs Lele and Adriano returned from Rialto fish market with their bounty; they were joined by Francisco’s mother Piera, kitchen-hand Islam, and pastry chef Fabrizio, when he finished making his desserts. Adriano and Lele, who were in the kitchen portioning the fish and prepping for the busy day ahead, pitched in from time to time to help with peeling, as did friends who stopped by. This was the second thing we loved. As Kiko, the Al Pacino-lookalike waiter who recognised us from last summer, said: “It’s better than being in an office. It’s just something we do each day and we accept it. Friends drop in to say hello. It’s nice.” We ordered what Kiko and Francisco recommended: a salad of prawns and wild artichokes from St. Erasmo, asparagus soup with grilled prawns, handmade tagliolini with spider crab sauce, cuttlefish steamed Venetian style, and our favourite, fritto misto — crunchy miniscule portions of deep fried seafood, wrapped in brown paper to absorb the oil. It was all divine. And throughout our lunch, there were wonderful smells coming from the kitchen where an aromatic fish brodo (stock) bubbled away, and crabs boiled, their meat to be extracted at the communal table we could see from our seats. “Fresh every day,” Francesco smiled proudly. What was not to love? We were already thinking about returning for dinner. On the main route that took us from our laneway to the Rialto in one direction and to the Dorsodoro neighbourhood in the other, there were scores of trattorias, pizzerias, gelaterias and souvenir shops selling everything from finely-crafted Venetian masks to “I love Venezia” T-shirts. But the longer we were there, the more they

faded from vision as I discovered interesting little shops in the skinny side streets: bookshops, galleries, antique stores, jewellery shops and boutiques specialising in vintage clothes. My favourite quickly became Dietro Langolo on Calle dei Saoneri, opened last year by Federica Serena and Sylvia Saltarin, two lovely young Venetian architects looking for a career change. They only sell ethical pieces by young designers, from colourful ceramics to accessories, such as the Venetian-made Mela range of multifunctional jewellery, belts and hair clips made from recycled silicon and electric cable, and recycled-fabric bags made by Spanish-born Irene Gomez, a long-time Venetian resident. The more we visited Rialto, the more I noticed there was more than tourist tat to be had. Tucked under the arcades behind stalls selling Murano glass made in China was Pied a Terre, which sold bold-coloured velvet gondolier slippers, made from recycled materials, inspired by 18th-century Venetian styles. I bought a crimson pair. Near the bar where we drank our post-Rialto market spritz, I discovered a tiny shop where Venetian artist Nicola Tenderini sold pretty notebooks, calendars and recipe books that he paints in his studio upstairs. Another day I stumbled across bookbinder Paolo Olbi’s shop on Campo Santa Maria Nova and became smitten by the leather-bound notebooks with fine leather ties in the window. The store was closed so I scribbled down the address of his other shop and moseyed down to Calle della Mandola, where I found exquisite handmade note pads, address books and stationery, and Paolo at work in the backroom, engraving patterns onto leather covers.

Opposite page: Another local favourite: Cantine del Vino, in the Dorsoduro neighbourhood. This page (from left): Locals shop at the Rialto markets; beautiful artichokes from San Erasmo, an island in the Veneto lagoon.


When I showed an interest, Paolo invited us to visit his Castello workshop the next day, where he, printer Beppi, and their glassmaker friend Paolo, spent a few hours explaining the process, from how they create the wood plates to the binding of books, 100 per cent of which is done by hand. After, they insisted on buying us a drink at their local bar. In two weeks, we became the people we always envied on previous trips to Venice: the ones who sipped sparkling drinks in the windows of their palazzos as they surveyed the ever-changing scene on the Grand Canal below. The tourists on the vaporettos that pulled up at the wharf below smiled or waved to us, while those gliding by on gondolas neglected their serenade to shoot video of us. However, our apartment was by no means glamorous. It had a certain faded grandeur with its colossal ceilings, Murano chandeliers, antique velvet furniture and gilded mirrors. There were charming touches, such as old paintings of ships and a coffee table covered with an old National Geographic map. The kitchen was crammed with crockery, cutlery and glasses, and there was a supply of foodstuffs in the cupboards, from tomato paste and spices to different types of salts, tempting us to entertain, so we were rather pleased when an acquaintance came to town and we were able invite him over for a drink. There was peeling paint in places and worn upholstery, but the palazzo dated back to the 17th century after all. Being Venice, the floor was wonky, the windows wouldn’t shut properly and there were cracks in the walls, but we didn’t mind. This was Venice. We were staying in a palazzo in Venice. And that was what we said to ourselves each time we walked out our front door. This page (clockwise from left): Colourful coffee set at Dietro Langolo design shop; window on the island of Burano; handmade Venetian slippers, made from recycled materials, from Pied a Terre. Opposite page: A local strolling on the island of Burano in Venice’s lagoon.




GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND By air The compact Venice Marco Polo Airport ( is excellent and is the easiest point of arrival for Venice. There are flights from Bangkok to Venice via Dubai with Emirates Airlines, via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, and via Vienna with Austrian Airlines, taking 14 to 16 hours if you get a good connection. By Car There is secure car parking at the Municipal Car Park at Piazzale Roma, but it is very expensive. Don’t take a car to Venice unless you are in the middle of a driving trip around Italy. Even then, you are better off dropping the car off at the car hire company and picking it up again at the end of your stay to avoid high parking costs. By train Trains from Rome, Milan, Florence and many other major cities go to Venice, terminating at Santa Lucia Station on the island. Note that before this there is a station called Venice-Mestre on the mainland — many travellers make the mistake of alighting here. By boat From Marco Polo airport, the easiest way to reach Venice is by boat. • The public Alilaguna waterbus serves the main vaporetto stops in Venice. Tickets can be purchased online at www.veniceconnected. com or or at the Alilaguna desk at the airport. • The private water taxis will go wherever you like as long as there is a wharf. Tickets can be bought on arrival at the airport or in advance on and Prices start at 85 euros from Marco Polo airport and 50 euros from Piazzale Roma and Santa Lucia station, and increase depending on your destination. A return ticket is cheaper.

• Tickets for the public vaporetto can be bought online at www. or at ACTV ticket offices and the new self-service vending machines at vaporetto stops. You can buy 12/24/36/48/72-hour tickets or a 7-day pass. More information here: Where to stay We booked our apartment on HomeAway Holiday-Rentals (www., which has almost 200 properties in Venice. Another trusted site is Vacation Rentals By Owner ( Both allow you to deal directly with property owners and have rental guarantees. Essentials • Venice is wonderful all year round in all kinds of weather, though spring, summer and autumn are best. While summer is lovely, Venice gets very crowded, so book accommodation well in advance. • Context Travel ( offers excellent educational tours for those who want a more in-depth experience of Venice. • Cooking courses with Countess Enrica Rocca (www.enricarocca. com) include a tour of the Rialto markets and are worthwhile if you’re staying in Venice a while. Useful websites Venice Connected (official tourism site): Hello Venice (tourism site):




Text by Lara Dunston / Photos by Terence Carter

Slow travel is about taking it easy, settling into a place for a while and savouring each moment that you’re away. Before you abandon everything, however, there are some guidelines to consider. Making restaurant reservations is a sin. Strolling and dawdling is encouraged, and getting lost is expected. A picnic in a park, seafood by the sea and lunch with new friends are all fine ideas. Time spent each day sipping coffee or wine on a sunny terrace is obligatory. Let spontaneity and serendipity be your guides.



The UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Alberobello, in the southern Italian region of Puglia, is renowned for its abundance of enchanting trulli. There are 1,500 of these perfectly preserved, whitewashed, conical-shaped houses, dating to the 16th century. Busloads of tourists teem into the lanes of the fairy-tale town each day for an insight into how locals live their lives; most are still inhabited. Go one better and get firsthand experience by renting your own rustic trullo set amongst vineyards, olive groves and cherry trees in the surrounding countryside. Some come with swimming pools, though there are beaches a short drive away. However, if you’re a true slow traveller, you’ll be content with leisurely bike rides along dirt roads, inhaling the scent of rosemary and laurel as you catch your breath, snatching fragrant wildflowers from the bees for the dining table, and making pizza in your traditional outdoor oven for moonlit evening meals. If you do venture out, drop into Ristorante Paradiso di Puglia, where the friendly Rosato family serves handmade pasta and homemade limoncello. If you ask, they’ll write down the recipe for you.




Vintage neon signs, illuminated at night, draw locals to the relaxed eateries and bars that dot the wide streets of the USA’s most laidback city. As famous as Austin may be for South-by-Southwest, a music, film and multimedia festival that brings mayhem to the low-key town each year, Austinians say they prefer their city less crowded. You will too. Short on tourist sights, Austin is made for kicking back in. But before you do, buy some cowboy boots — every local has a pair — from Allens on South Congress Avenue. SoCo is lined with idiosyncratic shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs, while in a couple of vacant lots retro food trailers serve breakfast tacos, BBQ ribs, Vietnamese sandwiches and cupcakes. On balmy weekends, bands perform on cafe terraces, in car parks and under the shady tree at Central Market, where you can catch local musicians like sassy guitar-strumming Suzanna Choffel. Drop into the Continental Club if soulful Dan Dwyer is playing — his performances are as scorching as an Austin summer. Cool down with a dip at Barton Springs Pool, an enormous natural, spring-fed, swimming hole surrounded by oak trees.



Avoid the tacky resorts, congested traffic and sunburnt crowds at Kuta Beach and base yourself inland in a traditional breezy villa at a tranquil village such as Tumbak Bayuh. It’s just a 20-minute drive to Semanyak for shopping, and 10 minutes to Canggu for a swim or surf. Surrounded by lush green rice paddies, the village is dissected by one main street, shaded by towering palm trees heaving with coconuts, and banana plants bearing bunches of the sugary fruit. Dotted with stalls selling snacks such as rice cakes, crumbling temples decorated with stone carvings, and walled family compounds hosting motley collections of animals and kids, a daily stroll through the village is mandatory. Ubud, the artistic, cultural and spiritual heart of Bali for centuries, is only an hour’s drive away. Serenely located up in the hills in lush jungle, its streets are lined with galleries, boutiques and craft shops that warrant slow browsing. Agung Rai Museum of Art offers casual classes on Balinese painting, dance, drama, cooking and yoga, while the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary requires a mosey.




Long walks on the beach, long lunches by the sea and getting lost in the quaint alleys of the old town are in order at Essaouira, a whitewashed walled town just a few hours away from frenetic Marrakech, yet world’s apart in ambience. Whereas Marrakech, with its sprawling souqs and chaotic square, is often described as an assault upon the senses, Essaouira is where you escape to let your senses recuperate. It still oozes plenty of exotic Middle Eastern atmosphere, only in small doses — Essaouira is very compact — and supplemented with loads of sunshine, ocean breezes and seafood. Fresh oysters, sea urchins and shrimps are local specialties to savour, ideally washed down with Moroccan white wine. Make a beeline for Le Chalet de la Plage overlooking the beach, or Chez Sam by the port. In the evening, head up to the rooftop terrace at Taros, a French restaurant and lounge bar that has live local bands.



Home to flamenco and fine tapas bars, this small sultry city in southern Spain is one of the country’s most easygoing. While its famous sherry bodega Tio Pepe and the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art attract day-trippers by the busloads from the coast, most tourists don’t stay overnight. Yet it’s in the evening that Jerez comes alive. Start with a late afternoon stroll around the car-free old centre with its countless plazas boasting fountains and sculptures, cobblestone lanes lined with orange trees, and gracious sandstone buildings with intricately decorated portals concealing pretty tiled patios. Finish at the Moorish Alcazar for sunset then snag a table at an alfresco cafe such as El Gallo Azul, in one of Jerez’s most striking buildings. Ensure your slow tapas hop takes in La Abaceria, Meson del Asador and La Cruz Blanca. To feel the pulse of the town, see some flamenco in the old gypsy neighbourhoods of Santiago or San Miguel at a pena (flamenco club), such as Pena Sordera or Pena Flamenca La Buleria, or a bar such as hip Damajuana, or Bar Colmao, a favourite with flamenco aficionados. After sleeping late, kickstart your day with coffee and churros at La Vega on Plaza Esteve before doing a lap around the Abastos market, one of Spain’s best.




A miniature version of Croatia’s Dubrovnik, Kotor’s wonderfully preserved walled Stari Grad, or Old Town, is crammed with elegant stone houses, sunny squares and skinny marble-clad lanes that are blissfully vehicle-free — which means the best thing to do here is stroll. Craftsmen Street, running from the city’s southern entrance, Gurdic Gate, was lined with crafts workshops during the Middle Ages, including stonemasons, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, and sword- and shield-makers. It now boasts a smattering of shops selling model boats, bold kilims and embroidered blouses that warrant browsing. From the bridge at the northern River Gate there are breathtaking views of San Giovanni’s Castle high up on the mountain above Stari Grad. Muster the energy for a hike to the top — allow three hours to do it at an easy pace — for stupendous views of the dramatic waterway referred to as “the Mediterranean’s fjords.” Back in Stari Grad, at Cafe Forza on the Square of Arms, reward yourself with a slice of traditional lemon and almond Dobrotska Torta (made by the cafe owner’s wife) as you admire the splendid buildings surrounding you, including the Venetian Arsenal, Bizanti Palace and Prince’s Palace.




Book a beach house at Manuel Antonio on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast for the quintessential slow travel experience. Ask if your villa gets daily monkey visits, which will be your main form of entertainment here, and make sure it’s just steps from the sandy beach, where you could do a range of activities, including horse-riding, surfing, a game of Frisbee, or, if all that requires too much energy, massages on the beach. Whatever you do (or don’t do), book a nature guide to go wildlife spotting in Manuel Antonio National Park, home to vivacious toucans and cheeky raccoons, among other creatures. Unfortunately, you have no excuse not to visit, as it’s right in your backyard. If nature’s beauty has bewitched you, then consider a spot of bird watching, spice plantation tour or mangrove cruise. Just be sure to save energy for a romantic sunset stroll along the beach.



The French have slow living down to a fine art. Paris, after all, is where flaneurie, or aimless ambling, was invented, and for which the city’s broad boulevards, elegant arcades, manicured parks and charming gardens were created. And then there’s the occupation of cafe-lingering, which seems to be an activity that is compulsory at least once a day. London or New York are not cities for slow travellers, the pace of life in both being too fast. In Paris, however, you can spend the morning in a cafe in Montmartre and think you’re in a rural village; the afternoon leafing through a book in the Palais Royal gardens is so peaceful. If there’s one thing you should plan, it should be a picnic on the banks of the Seine.




Rent an apartment in stylish Ipanema, as close to the sea as you can get. But don’t fret if you’re a block or two away, because as soon as you see locals in wetsuits, jogging down to the beach with a surfboard under their arms, you’ll feel as if you’re on the beach — the visible addiction the Cariocas, as Rio’s locals are called, have for the sun, surf and sand is contagious. The beach is where it’s at in Rio de Janeiro, and Ipanema is the best place to experience the easygoing life that all Cariocas covet. Pull up a plastic chair at one of the beach bars and watch the locals walk their dogs, jog, rollerblade, skateboard, cycle, exercise, drink, eat, read, dance, and even do aerobics, on the famous black and white paved footpath and bike track. Down on the sand itself, they’ll be playing racket ball, volleyball and football, and sunbathing, swimming, surfing or flirting. You can contemplate which activity you’ll choose while you sip a fresh coconut juice.



A few hours north of Mexico City, the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende is captivating. Many of the elegantly restored houses lining the hilly cobblestone streets — the holiday homes of affluent Mexicans from the capital and North Americans who retreat here during winter — are like something out of a Mexico Style book. And they probably are. This means it’s easy to find something to rent. Once ensconced in your cute, colourful casita (cottage), sign up for an art course, cooking classes, or silver jewellery making workshops. Or simply do what so many retired expats do and sit in the leafy square and admire the exquisite church, listen to live mariachi music, or watch the exuberant folkloric performances that are a regular event. San Miguel is full of cafes and restaurants, yet too many have adapted the cuisine to suit foreign tastes. One habit worth forming is a nightly visit to a street food stand at Calle Mesones 8 to sample authentic Mexican food. Cowboys and their families pull up in big 4WDs throughout the night to pick up orders so sometimes there’s a wait. But the tacos al pastor, consisting of juicy meat sliced off a vertical spit and slathered in salsa verde is worth it. And that’s what slow travel is about after all — taking time out for the good things in life. Lifestyle + Travel writer Lara Dunston and photographer husband Terence Carter recently completed a year of slow round-the-world travel, staying in holiday rentals booked on; they chronicled the journey at



your travel photos and stories behind them. The best will be published and get a fantastic prize from Lifestyle + Travel. Email

+$12, 9,(71$0 DANAYA CHULPHUTHIPHONG, THAILAND I explored Vietnamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capital city by renting a cheaply-priced tricycle. While the tricycle took me around, my eyes paused at a narrow pathway between Hanoiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unique high-rise buildings. That pathway led to a small area that was full of old houses and people as if it was another different world hidden behind those buildings. I jumped out of the tricycle and headed to that narrow pathway. What I experienced in this small area were the tranquil evening ambience and the harmonious rhythm of life. It was this cramped but charming area that completed the big scene of Hanoi.

Danaya travelled to Hanoi in October 2010.


118 THE HIDEAWAY RETREAT Muthi Maya is now one of Thailandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top destinations for city types who desire serenity and a world-class golf course on their vacation.

120 A COMFY HOME AWAY FROM HOME Dune Hua Hin is an ideal home away from home for travellers who appreciate a compact, well-designed, quiet homey hotel facing the sea.

122 ONE-STOP STAY & PLAY The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel offers the timeless romance of Venice, the vibe of vibrant Las Vegas, and the majesty of luxurious accommodations.

123 A TASTE OF COLONIAL SPLENDOUR The Luang Say Residence is where the elegance and spirituality of well-blended Eastern and Western cultures still lingers.

124 STYLISH STAY Hotel Fort Canning Singapore makes every single stay unique with chic elegance, personalised service and an inviting, friendly atmosphere.

125 AESTHETICS OF LANNA Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa in Chiang Mai offers a classic atmosphere of tranquillity and comfort in brand-new stylish Lanna-style accommodation.


THE HIDEAWAY RETREAT Text by Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul / Photos by Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul

Just two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Bangkok, Muthi Maya is now one of Thailand’s top destinations for city types who desire serenity and a world-class golf course on their vacation.

//SETTING THE SCENE Located at the foot of the Khao Yai National Park, Muthi Maya is an oasis of serenity. Apart from the chic contemporary design of its buildings and facilities, all the surroundings are entirely natural, comprising lush greenery and imposing mountains, home to a range of exotic wildlife, including various singing birds and colourful butterflies. Visitors can enjoy the essence of a completely natural living experience during their stay, and will also have the opportunity to enjoy the panoramic views of Khao Yai National Park. //GETTING COMFORTABLE Muthi Maya pays particular attention to its design. All the buildings are designed and decorated in an Asian-contemporary style, using cement and wood as the main materials. Each villa is a spacious 164 square metres in size and possesses a bedroom, bathrooms, a living room, a pantry and a large patio with a private pool and poolside daybed, giving the impression of staying in a home-away-from-home. The resort also provides a world-class range of facilities, the most notable being an 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and an outdoor swimming pool, which helps to ensure a pleasant stay. //DINING OPTIONS MYTH Bar & Restaurant, an open-air restaurant located on the upper level of the lobby, offers a cosy atmosphere with panoramic views of the beautiful region of Khao Yai. It serves Japanese-Italian fusion cuisine. Recommended dishes are Muthi Maya Salad, Snowfish Cream Sauce, Lamb Shank with Tomato and Gravy Sauce and Tiramisu. Guests can make a special request for a private barbecue meal to be prepared in their villa’s backyard by a personal chef, or they can enjoy private dining in Poolside Cabanas.

//WHY I’D GO BACK • I was fascinated by its cosy and tranquil atmosphere. Also, it is a perfect place for reinvigorating my energy levels just by taking a deep breath. //ONE OR TWO QUIBBLES… • The resort is not that easy to find. You may need to try and find Kirimaya on the map, instead of Muthi Maya, and ask for directions from the security attendants, otherwise you may well get lost and waste a lot of time searching for the entrance.

Muthi Maya 1/3 Moo 6, Thanarat Road, Moo-Si, Pakchong, Nakorn Ratchasima 30310 Thailand T: +66 (0) 4442 6000 F: +66 (0) 4492 9888 E: W:



A COMFY HOME AWAY FROM HOME Text by Krittiya Wongtavavimarn

Dune Hua Hin is an ideal home away from home for travellers who appreciate a compact, well-designed, quiet homey hotel facing the sea.

//SETTING THE SCENE If you are looking for an intimate, boutique hotel by the beach with friendly, caring staff, Dune is a smart choice. Situated on a quiet side of Hua Hin, the hotel is only five minutes’ drive from Plearnwan and 10 minutes’ from the Hua Hin Night Market. Its building appears like an office of some interior design company, but actually the hotel features five stylish rooms with contemporary minimalist interior design, creating the feel of harmony and tranquility. //GETTING COMFORTABLE Each type of room — Dune Suite, Dune Deluxe or Dune Superior — is spacious and comfy, with a large balcony, lounge chair and beautiful sea view. The ample and luxurious bathroom includes a wide bathtub and a complete array of bathroom amenities. Guests can enjoy a relaxing music sound throughout. Choice of pillows (duck down or synthetic) and mattress (hard or soft) are also on offer.


//DINING OPTIONS Dune Bar & Restaurant on the fourth floor boasts a variety of European and Asian fusion dishes and creative, colourful cocktails. The food is all homemade with great attention to detail using quality ingredients. Start off your meal with fresh Dune Signature Salad with Jalapeno Dressing and Crispy Salmon Skin, and small bites such as Crusin Crab Dip and Aromatic Chicken Curry with Mango Salsa. For main dishes, try Spaghetti Snow Fish and Caviar and Pan Seared Salmon with Lobster Sauce. Dune also carries madeto-order seafood entrees. Feel free to call the restaurant in advance to inquire about your specific needs. The table can be arranged indoor, outdoor or at the hotel’s famous sky bar, where guests enjoy panoramic views of the ocean. The sky bar has transformed its look under the concept of “the new modern is simplicity,” emphasising comfort and convenience from every piece of furniture from GIM Design Studio, Motif: Art of Living and Ronel Jardaan. //WHY I’D GO BACK • This is the best small hotel accommodation I have ever stayed in. It all came down to the staff and the vibe they create. It was a welcome relief to have staff that were friendly and both cared about their hotel and for their guests. • The food was superb and well presented. //ONE OR TWO QUIBBLES… • Wi-Fi here is a bit slow and inconsistent, but it allows you to spend a little “offline” quality time with yourself. • There’s no elevator here, so if you can’t do many steps, make sure you reserve a room on the first or second floor. Dune Hua Hin 5/5 Naebkhehars Road, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110 Thailand T: +66 (0) 3251 5051 F: +66 (0) 3251 5052 W:



ONE-STOP STAY & PLAY Text by Krittiya Wongtavavimarn

The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel offers the timeless romance of Venice, the vibe of vibrant Las Vegas, and the majesty of luxurious accommodations. //SETTING THE SCENE On the Cotai Strip in Macau lies The Venetian, modelled on its Las Vegas counterpart. Located in close proximity to the Macao International Airport, Ferry Terminal and main Chinese border crossing, this mega casino resort, surrounded by a man-made, lagoon-like lake, offers everything you would expect from a holiday in Macau for both casino and non-casino lovers. Guests can take a traditional Italian gondola through the Venetian-style canals, shop at some 300 premiere boutiques, dine in over 35 restaurants, or enjoy a series of arts and entertainments within the complex.

a stylish and contemporary setting; and Bamboo features all-youcan-eat seafood, sushi and sashimi, Asian favourites and local specialties.

//GETTING COMFORTABLE You may lose a few kilogrammes if you get lost in The Venetian. It is huge — large enough to hold 90 Boeing 747 jumbo jets. Nowhere else in Asia will you find such a rare combination of facilities. The resort has 3,000 suites — the Royale, Bella or Rialto — in a 32-story tower, designed to be highly luxurious and spacious. A deluxe marble bathroom and superbly luxurious bedroom are among the standard amenities found in every suite, along with a spacious living room filled with in-room entertainment features.

//ONE OR TWO QUIBBLES… • In-room Internet is not complimentary. • The resort is always crowded as the casino is open 24/7.

//DINING OPTIONS The resort offers six fine dining and five casual dining options plus an assortment of bars and lounges. There are many additional food kiosks at the food court at the Grand Canal Shops. Imperial House offers dim sum and Cantonese barbeque; Canton offers modern and traditional Chinese cuisine; Portofino serves Italian classics in

//WHY I’D GO BACK • You don’t need to gamble as The Venetian offers plenty of other activities for guests to experience. • The resort offers free shuttle buses to many major destinations, such as the airport and the ferry terminal. I enjoy staying there and explore other parts of the city for free.

The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel Estrada da Baia de N. Senhora da Esperanca, s/n, Taipa, Macao SAR, P.R. China T: +853 (0) 2882 8888 E W: For more information, check, 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.

A TASTE OF COLONIAL SPLENDOUR Text and photos by Rachapant Sukrattanachaikul

The Luang Say Residence is where the elegance and spirituality of well-blended Eastern and Western cultures still lingers. //SETTING THE SCENE A colonial-style resort located in UNESCO-listed Luang Prabang town, The Luang Say Residence is only 10 minutes’ drive from downtown and from Luang Prabang International Airport. This new resort re-establishes an elegant portrait of the grandeur of the country’s former capital city by the Mekong River and Nam Khan River. It reflects the charms and glories of the late 19th century when French adventurers, explorers and naturalists settled in the country. As it is located in a prime area, the resort is a convenient base for leisure travellers to visit all the city’s highlights and popular venues. //GETTING COMFORTABLE The luxury resort allows guests to enjoy the classic ambience of French colonial architecture and interiors, with its 20 Pioneer Suites in five colonial pavilions and four other Explorateur Suites located in the main residence building. Guests can be pampered by the natural, idyllic and unspoiled surroundings, while mountain scenery can be enjoyed from the open terraces and exterior lounges throughout the complex. Pioneer Suites offer a spacious 43-square-metre living area with soothing views from their open terraces and exterior lounges. The lavish 74-squaremetre Explorateur Suites offer spacious indoor and outdoor sitting areas. Twin or king-size bed in each room is beautifully covered by a cosy mosquito net adding a softer, elegant touch to the room. //DINING OPTIONS La Belle Epoque serves favourite Asian and French recipes such as Tom Gaew Pla NamKhong (NamKhong river fish soup with mushroom and eggplant), Gang Som Moo (pork curry, Lao-style) and Tiramisu by chef Pittaya Suppanarm. Also enjoy after-dinner cocktails at 1861 terrace bar, decorated with original colonial era furnishings. During winter, a marble fireplace warms 1861 while a modest library corner adds an intimate ambience. //WHY I’D GO BACK • Each night, guests receive a small present from the staff. I received “Mr. Phuwan,” a small, lovely elephant doll, from the resort’s driver, who comes from Houaphan Village, known as the poorest region in Laos. I like the idea, and it creates a memorable impression and the sense of connection to the place and the people. The Luang Say Residence 4-5 Ban Phonepheng, P.O. Box 507 Luang Prabang, Lao PDR T: + 856 (0) 7126 0891 F: + 856 (0) 7126 0892 E: W:



STYLISH STAY Text by Krittiya Wongtavavimarn

Intimate, quirky, luxurious, individual, chic ... all these words come to mind when thinking of the Hotel Fort Canning Singapore. The hotel makes every single stay unique with chic elegance, personalised service and an inviting, friendly atmosphere. //SETTING THE SCENE Hotel Fort Canning is an elegant, neoclassical-style colonial hotel situated on the leafy Fort Canning Hill, or Forbidden Hill — a key local landmark since Singapore’s earliest recorded history. Within a few minutes’ walk from the Orchard Road shopping belt and National Museum of Singapore, the majestic colonial building, formerly the British Far East Command Headquarters during World War II, presents a collection of individually styled boutique suites and rooms surrounded by lush greenery.

//DINING OPTIONS The Glass House is a cute little restaurant that serves breakfast and contemporary Asian cuisine with stunning views over the park. Gattopardo Italian Grill & Pizza Bar offers homemade pasta, wood-fired pizzas and charcoal-grilled seafood. Tisettanta Lounge offers an outstanding wine collection and The Lobby Lounge serves free evening wines and canapes for in-house guests.

//GETTING COMFORTABLE The 86 rooms and suites are quite small, but cosy, friendly and fairly quiet. Deluxe rooms present unique bathroom designs set against a large window offering panoramic views of the park. Each room includes fabulous items by award-winning furniture designer Poltrona Frau; bathroom amenities include THANN and Nespresso coffee and TWG tea service. In-room free Wi-Fi is also available.

//ONE OR TWO QUIBBLES… • The staff are friendly, but perhaps a bit inexperienced.

//WHY I’D GO BACK • Nestled amongst the trees, the hotel is a perfect, quiet getaway from the crowds and the bustle of the city. I could stay in my room all day sipping TWG tea and watching in-room movies, and feel perfectly content. • The room is sleek, stylish and well-appointed, a convenient option for those looking for a comfortable and luxurious place to stay in town.

Hotel Fort Canning Singapore 11 Canning Walk Singapore 178881 T: +65 6559 6770 F: +65 6334 7873 E: W:


AESTHETICS OF LANNA Text by Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul

Surrounded by lush greenery, Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa in Chiang Mai offers a classic atmosphere of tranquillity and comfort in brandnew stylish Lanna-style accommodation. //SETTING THE SCENE Amidst the bustle and rapid growth of Chiang Mai, Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa offers a peaceful retreat for culture and nature lovers. To reflect the charm of Lanna culture, both the architecture and the interior design are based on the concept inspired by the “Wiang Kum Kam” — an ancient city in the Lanna Kingdom. The resort is set amidst a rice field and a small garden blessed with a range of fruits, vegetables and flowers, helping guests to get closer to nature and experience the local way of life. //GETTING COMFORTABLE Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa consists of 57 rooms, 16 villas and one Siripanna Grand Royal Lanna Suite. All are decorated in Thai Lanna style and provide a full range of amenities. Spa enthusiasts can enjoy Sense of Soul, a signature treatment mixing each birth month’s raw gem in hot oils, at the Panna Spa. The mixture of ingredients used is believed to help boost a person’s energy and refresh the body and mind more efficiently than other general treatments. //DINING OPTIONS Guests can enjoy fine dining at the Slee Banyan restaurant on the ground floor. It offers an international menu as the resort chef specialises in Thai and Italian fusion cuisine. Many dishes are created and cooked using a selection of seasonal ingredients. At night, the restaurant transforms into an open bar where guests can relax in the cosy atmosphere and enjoy tasty cocktails, wine and other local specialties. //WHY I’D GO BACK • It is very convenient as it is only 10 minutes away from the night bazaar and the Warorot market, so it is easy for me to go there and later come back and refresh myself and relax in the delightful resort gardens.

//ONE OR TWO QUIBBLES... • Insects and mosquitoes are active around the ponds and trees, so mosquito repellent lotion is needed for those who love to sit outdoors at night.

Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa 36 Rat Uthit Road, Wat Ket, Muang, Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand T: +66 (0) 5337 1999 F: +66 (0) 5337 1998 E: W:








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LAMU, KENYA Text by Richard Herriot


amu, part of an archipelago of islands off the east coast of Kenya and a 90-minute flight from Nairobi, is a small coastal island where time has stood still. The charm and slow pace of life of Kenya’s oldest living settlement has remained intact, in contrast to the rapid development and urbanisation of nearby Mombasa and Zanzibar. There are no cars and the main means of transport is donkeys or sailing boats, making this island a peaceful retreat from the stress of daily life. Life changes very slowly in this part of the world. When you arrive at Lamu, you can explore the collection of maze-like alleys and streets lined with pretty houses made of centuries-old coral, sand and lime, and witness firsthand the unique blend of African, Arab, English and Portuguese cultures found in the food, language and way of life here. The island is also a great place for people-watching: visitors can take in the colourful sight of the local women dressed in the traditional kikoy (a colourful, striped sarong) sitting on benches, chatting and laughing and in absolutely no hurry to go anywhere. Visitors can relax and listen to the exotic sounds of the island’s mosques broadcasting the five-times daily calls to prayer (the island is strictly Islamic), and watch the dhows (traditional Arab sailing boats) slowly gliding through the ocean. The area has a long, complex and sometimes dark history. In the 1500s, it was a thriving port, exporting ivory, timber, amber and spices, and later was a hub of the local slave trade. Those interested in learning more of the region’s history should visit Lamu Fort, constructed in 1810 by Seyyid Said, a local sultan and Omani slave trader. The fort has impressive views over the sea, market and square, and now houses a historical museum. Alternatively, sailing trips can be made to the Takwa and Manda ruins on Manda Island, and you can even learn how the sailing boats are made in the dhow-making village of Matondoni. Visitors can go snorkelling and swim with the dolphins in the clear blue coral-laden sea. Many of the hotels on the island offer private and secluded beaches and are often favoured retreats for popular musicians, actors and even politicians. However, if you wish to visit the area, you shouldn’t delay as the Kenyan government is planning an extensive project on Lamu, including a port on neighbouring Manda Bay, new roads, an airport extension and a series of small resort cities, so the island’s unspoilt character may not remain intact forever. But, for now at least, Lamu Island is an ideal place to get away from it all.

FESTIVAL The Lamu Cultural Festival, to be held on 25-28 November this year, is a celebration of the past, present and future, a chance to experience a genuine slice of Lamu life and culture. Several competitions and races are staged during this week-long festival, with each event designed to encourage local skills or practices central to Lamu life. These include a Bao competition (Bao is perhaps the oldest board game in human history), traditional Swahili poetry and Henna paintings. In order to preserve and encourage the art of dhow sailing, a dhow race is also held. The town’s best sailing boats compete and race through a series of buoys set up around the course along the coast. There is also a swimming competition and, to reflect Kenya’s fine long distance running tradition, a challenging cross country race along the waterfront. The festival is rounded off in style with its very own “donkey derby,” where the local donkey jockeys literally spend the entire year preparing for this event, with the winning rider achieving considerable local fame.



Getting there and getting around By air Lamu is best reached by air either directly from Nairobi (Safarilink and Air Kenya fly from Wilson Airport, Nairobi) or from Mombasa or Malindi to the south (operators include Mombasa Safari Air from Mombasa, which does not fly every day). The airport is on an island opposite the main village, necessitating a short boat/ferry ride. Please bear in mind that tourists generally have to pay a surcharge for this short trip. By road For those on a tight budget, a daily bus service runs from Mombasa via Malindi. However, in the past, this route was prone to attacks by Somali bandits and buses had been stopped and robbed, though the situation has improved in recent years. By boat To get to Lamu from Mokowe on the mainland, you can either take the ferry (though it is slow and crowded at times) or you can hire a speed boat. Direct dhow services run between Lamu, Mombasa and Malindi, but these services are restricted to Kenyan nationals only at this time.

L+T #43  

Lifestyle and Travel Magazine