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JANUARY 2013 lonelyplanet.com

MIDDLE EAST

G L O B A L T R A V E L I N S P I R AT I O N F R O M L O C A L E X P E R T S

China The Perfect Trip

ABU DHABI ADVENTURES The desert’s for more than camping

A TASTE OF THAILAND Discover Bangkok and Hua Hin’s luxurious side

DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

PETRA A practical guide to exploring the must-see city ON THE COVER The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling

The famous explorer‘s favourite destinations

MINI GUIDES – FREE INSIDE

Publication licensed by IMPZ

New York 4 Manchester 4Stockholm 4Berlin 4Switzerland 4Marrakesh


It’s more than just a city. It’s intriguing Abu Dhabi.

SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE

EMIRATES PALACE

ISLAND BOAT TOURS

FROM SOUK TO MALL

FERRARI WORLD ABU DHABI

Be moved by the wonder of this architectural treasure which can house over 40, 000 worshippers.

Experience ultimate luxury at one of the world’s most opulent hotels.

Explore the natural beauty of the Corniche as you drift along clear seas on a relaxing cruise boat.

Seek out a bargain at traditional markets or cut a dash in a modern mall.

Feel the 240kmph adrenalin rush of the world’s fastest roller coaster.

YAS LINKS ABU DHABI

ABU DHABI FALCON HOSPITAL

OPEN-TOP BUS TOUR

MANARAT AL SAADIYAT

DINE AT MEZLAI

Take on the challenge of Yas Links Abu Dhabi - the region’s first links course.

Learn more about the UAE’s national bird and try your hand at the traditional sport of falconry at this state-of-the-art facility.

All aboard for this tour of the UAE capital with commentary in any one of eight languages.

Experience Abu Dhabi’s purposebuilt arts exhibition centre on Saadiyat Island.

Head to Emirates Palace for a taste of Emirati cuisine fine dining style.

Explore a city built on tradition and inspired by innovation. Where you can lose yourself in age-old hospitality and marvel at the wonder that is Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi. Travellers welcome.

Discover more. www.visitabudhabi.ae


Publisher Dominic De Sousa GROUP COO Nadeem Hood ASSOCIATE PUBLISHERS Carol Owen Georgina Wilson-Powell

EDITORIAL EDITOR: Georgina Wilson-Powell georginawp@cpidubai.com / +97150 574 2884 CONTRIBUTORS: Rory Goulding, Nicola Monteath, Jason Riley, Oliver Smith, Orla Thomas ART DIRECTOR: Kamil Roxas PUBLISHING PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Tim Calladine tim@cpidubai.com /+971 50 4587752 MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Marizel Salvador marizel@cpidubai.com ONLINE Louie Alma PRODUCTION Devaprakash DISTRIBUTION Rochelle Almeida rochelle@cpidubai.com SUBSCRIPTIONS www.cpievents.net/mag/magazine.php PRINTED BY Emirates Printing Press LLC, Dubai PUBLISHED BY

Head Office, PO Box 13700, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 440 9100, Fax: +971 4 447 2409 Group Office, Dubai Media City Building 4, Office G08, Dubai, UAE A publication licensed by IMPZ © Copyright 2013 CPI. All rights reserved. While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.

BBC Worldwide Magazines Unit: Managing Director: Nicholas Brett Publishing Director: James Hewes Editorial Director: Jenny Potter Unit Coordinator: Eva Abramik

Chairman: Stephen Alexander Deputy Chairman: Peter Phippen CEO: Tom Bureau Head of Licensing and Syndication: Joanna Marshall International Partners Manager: Aleksandra Nowacka

Editor's letter A very warm welcome to the first issue of Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East. We’re delighted to bring you the most trusted travel advice in the world from Lonely Planet, which started as a guide book company over 40 years ago. Now the brand covers magazines, websites and apps but one thing remains the same – reliable, trustworthy travel expertise. When travelling they say it’s not the destination that counts but the journey that matters. We’re thrilled to be accompanying you on your next adventure, whether it’s a long weekend or a once in a lifetime holiday, and we will do our best to be your personal guide to wherever you want to go. Over the next year we’ll be sharing new ways to experience your tried and tested, favourite holiday hideaways but also exploring the latest travel hotspots, exciting new destinations and countries you ought to see before it’s too late. In our first issue, lifetime traveller and TV institution Sir David Attenborough shares his most memorable places on planet Earth, we relax into Thailand’s luxurious side, discover the secrets of Petra in Jordan and uncover a whole world of al fresco adventures in Abu Dhabi. And of course, our cover feature on China, introducing this stunning country’s history and culture, shouldn’t be missed. Start planning your trips now! Every month, we will gather the latest travel news, a selection of ‘easy trips’ perfect for a last minute escape, inspiring features, reviews and our unique cut-out-and-keep mini guides straight from the vaults of the beloved Lonely Planet guides. We’d love to hear what you think, you can let us know on feedback@ lonelyplanettraveller.me. Happy travelling.

FROM TOP China can be illuminating (see p34); Petra's Bedouins are the friendly face of the ancient city (see p52); The Summer Palace is a serene hideaway in Hua Hin, Thailand (see p58)

Editor: Peter Grunert Art Director: Hayley Ward Publishing Director: Alfie Lewis Publisher: Simon Carrington Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East is published by CPI under licence from BBC Worldwide Limited, Media Centre, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TQ. The BBC logo is a trade mark of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Lonely Planet is a trade mark of BBC Worldwide; both are used under licence by Immediate Media Company London Limited. Copyright © Immediate Media Company London Limited All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part prohibited without permission.

Georgina Wilson-Powell, Editor

January 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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Our promise to you Lonely Planet Traveller provides trusted, independent travel advice and information that has been gathered without fear or favour. We aim to provide you with options that cover a range of budgets and we reveal the positive and negative of all locations we visit. Because we believe it is important that our journalists experience first-hand what they’re writing about and because you require comprehensive information from every corner of the world, at times it may be necessary for us to seek assistance from travel providers such as tourist boards, airlines, hotels, national parks and so forth. However, when receiving such assistance, we ensure our editorial integrity and independence are not compromised through the following measures: by publishing information on all appropriate travel suppliers and not just those who provided us with assistance, and by never promising to offer anything in return, such as positive coverage.

All prices correct at time of going to press. Prices for hotel rooms are for double, en suite rooms with breakfast in low season, unless otherwise stated. Flight prices are for the cheapest return fares, including one piece of hold baggage, unless otherwise stated. Lonely Planet Traveller is owned by BBC Worldwide and produced on its behalf by Immediate Media Company London Limited, Vineyard House, 44 Brook Green, Hammersmith, London W6 7BT. ISSN 2050-635X. Printed by Polestar Group. BBC Worldwide’s profits are returned to the BBC for the benefit of the licence-fee payer. Immediate Media Company is working to ensure that all of its paper is sourced from well-managed forests. This magazine can be recycled for use in newspapers and packaging. Please remove any gifts, samples or wrapping and dispose of the magazine at your local collection point.

The Lonely Planet story In 1972, two years after meeting on a bench in London’s Regent’s Park, newlyweds Tony and Maureen Wheeler went on an unforgettable honeymoon. With only a shabby car and a few dollars to their name, they travelled overland across Europe and Asia to Australia. At the end, broke but inspired, they sat at their kitchen table to write their first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap. Within a week of its publication in 1973 they’d sold 1,500 copies, and Lonely Planet was born. The Wheelers began publishing books on Southeast Asia, India and beyond. Over the years, coverage extended to most countries, and on lonelyplanet.com. BBC Worldwide became the sole shareholder in 2011, and Lonely Planet now makes books, ebooks, apps, TV shows and, of course, this magazine. Turn to p20 for Tony Wheeler’s column, The Road Less Travelled.

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BOOKS OUT THIS MONTH Recently released and updated guides include Antarctica (Dhs113), Pocket Bali (Dhs50), Barcelona (Dhs83), New Orleans (Dhs89), Discover New Zealand (Dhs101), Prague & the Czech Republic (Dhs83), Rarotonga, Samoa & Tonga (Dhs83), Pocket Singapore (Dhs47), South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland (Dhs106), Vanuatu & New Caledonia (Dhs83) and Washington DC (Dhs83), plus new releases Better than Fiction (Dhs53) and The Book of Everything - see right.

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THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING Lonely Planet has built up an immense store of travel wisdom and trivia over the last 40 years, find much of it in one colourfully illustrated book; so no more doubts about how much to leave as a tip, or how to open a coconut (Dhs89).

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East January 2013

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Contents January 2013

POSTCARDS

ON THE COVER

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The perfect trip to China p34

Your travel photos and the stories behind them

Pelicans in the Galapagos, trees in Madagascar and padlocks on the Seine

OUR PLANET This month’s travel news, views and discoveries

17 AA Gill on small town America; Ken Hom on gathering global ingredients; the first UK City of Culture; the most remote music festival in the world; the Maldives just got cheaper and the best of Salzberg for free

10 EASY TRIPS

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26 SONG SAA. CAMBODIA Rent your own private island 26 DUBLIN, IRELAND 2013 will be the year of the ‘gathering’. You have been warned! 28 SKOJPE. MACEDONIA Art galleries in ancient Turkish baths 28 KOH SAMUI, THAILAND Detox with a healthy holiday 29 ST MORITZ, SWITZERLAND Europe’s most glamorous ski resort 30 ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS Experience couture culture in a museum 30 SHANGHAI, CHINA Be tempted by two new huge art museums 31 PINNAWALA, SRI LANKA Elephants, tea plantations and temples 32 SAARISELKÄ, LAPLAND 2013 is the winter to see the Northern Lights 33 VICTORIA, SEYCHELLES It’s Carnaval time on the islands

Uncover the Great Barrier Reef p48

FEATURES Experiences in depth to add to your wish list

34 ON THE COVER CHINA This mysterious country is broken down into must see and must do experiences in our guide to the perfect trip 44 SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH The exploring TV legend shares his favourite destinations as he looks back over 60 years of travelling 52 PETRA Jordan’s spectacular lost city is one of the wonders of the modern world. We give you practical advice of what to see and when to go

PHOTOCREDIT

PHOTOGRAPHS: KRIS DAVIDSON, ANDREW MONTGOMERY, MATT MUNRO, MARK READ, TOM TILL

Breaks you can book right now

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Discover Thailand's Royal coast at Hua Hin p58 58 THAILAND It’s not all full moon parties and sarongs, the history and wellness culture is just a good a reason to visit 64 ABU DHABI Outside of the city, the emirate offers up endless adventures from horse riding to quad biking. We bring you the best

ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER Websites, books and apps to feed your passion for travel

70 The best of this month’s travel experiences you can have at home, including Daniel Tudor’s Korea book and the first look at the new Nokia Lumia 920 phone

MINI GUIDES Themed guides to pull out and take with you Meet Abu Dhabi's wildlife p64 Watch the elephants p31

75 BERLIN Have an art attack in this most trendy of European cities with our gallery guide 77 SWITZERLAND There’s more to Switzerland than chocolates and clocks. Explore lakes, hikes, national parks and caves 79 MARRAKESH Uncover Morroco’s wild past with art deco hotels, ancient tombs and a stork hospital 81 STOCKHOLM The uber-cool capital of Sweden is the place to indulge your inner creative. Check out the art gallery in a former lawnmower factory 83 MANCHESTER The UK’s underground music city, hit the best bars, live clubs and record stores and party like a rock star 85 NEW YORK The Big Apple is all about the shopping. From vintage markets to designer boutiques, best pack your credit cards for this one

PHOTOCREDIT

87 WIN ONE OF 10 OVERNIGHT STAYS at the new Ocean View Hotel on JBR! 88 WIN ONE OF 10 OVERNIGHT STAYS at the new Ocean View Hotel on JBR!

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Postcards

Where you’ve been and what you’ve seen

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Send us your pictures, the stories behind them and a photograph of yourself;  email photos@lonelyplanettraveller.me

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Send us your pictures, the stories behind them and a photograph of yourself: email lpmagazine@bbc.com

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND, GALAPAGOS

Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island may be the functional hub for most cruise ships touring the Galapagos, but it’s also home to the huge, beautifully pure shore of Playa Brava. Half an hour’s walk from the town centre, it’s home to marine iguanas, sea lions and massive brown pelicans ready to swallow anything that lets down its guard. Beautiful and wild as the beach is, it has strong rip currents that claim several lives a year - though not as many as this master fisherman.

Jamie Lafferty is a travel writer and photographer, currently based in the UK

Some of the stately Adansonia grandidieri baobabs that line the road north of Morondava are 1,000 years old

April 2012

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MORONDAVA, MADAGASCAR

Trunk road We were keen to witness the magical, muchtalked-about sunset at the Avenue of Baobabs near the town of Morondava. This species of baobab tree is endemic to Madagascar and grows to about 30 metres tall. The sight of them silhouetted against the yellow-red African sun is phenomenal, but when we arrived our view was somewhat spoiled by a crowd of tourists. After a while, the group lost interest and wandered off, and at that moment I saw the beautiful colours from the sunset reected on the trunks of the giant trees. For a few minutes, we had the view of the avenue to ourselves – just a few local people visible in the distance. I am still mesmerised by the distinctive colours captured on this photo. Hannisze Yong, who lives in Halifax, was on a 10-day trip to Madagascar with her husband.

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Send us your pictures, the stories behind them and a photograph of yourself;  email photos@lonelyplanettraveller.me

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Send us your pictures, the stories behind them and a photograph of yourself: email lpmagazine@bbc.com

April 2012

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Send us your pictures, the stories behind them and a photograph of yourself; email photos@lonelyplanettraveller.me

PEGGY’S COVE, CANADA

Holiday blues We were in Nova Scotia for my niece’s wedding party. It gave us a good excuse for a short holiday in Canada so we spent a few days travelling around the province afterwards. This photo was taken on the last day of our trip; we were flying home from Halifax late that afternoon and didn’t want to travel far from the airport, so we drove to Peggy’s Cove. The weather was a bit gloomy and really matched our ‘end of holiday’ mood, and I think the photo captures this. However, we felt we had discovered a beautiful spot in which to spend our last few hours in Nova Scotia, and to reflect on a lovely, happy family celebration. Angela Ellison, from Cheshire, was in Nova Scotia with her husband.

German settlers used fishing as their main source of income in Peggy’s Cove in the 19th century, and it’s a fishing village to this day

PARIS, FRANCE

Love on the Seine I travelled to Paris earlier this year. Many refer to it as the city of romance – it was my first visit, and after taking a stroll along the Seine, I could see why. I was captivated, swept up by the architecture, history and atmosphere, and fell in love with the place. On the short Pont de l’Archevêché behind the Cathédrale NotreDame de Paris, I came across this fence – a repository for expressions of love and longing for thousands of people. I never left my own padlock but I left with this photograph, a reminder of my ideal weekend in Paris.

‘Love locks’ have been placed on the railings of the Pont de l’Archevêché since 2010, despite protests from city officials

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Rebecca Reid is from Edinburgh and spent four days in the French capital with a friend.

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Send us your pictures, the stories behind them and a photograph of yourself; email photos@lonelyplanettraveller.me

MOTURIKI, FIJI

Under your nose Fiji is full of endemic creatures, the Fijian banded iguana being one of them. I was on the island of Moturiki, recording as many reptile and bird species as possible. After weeks of searching the bush for iguanas I was on the verge of giving up when I was approached by one of the elders from the village I was staying in, who asked if I’d tried the ‘school tree’. He led me to a large tree in the village and we began to search its branches. Out of nowhere materialised this banded iguana, feasting on the leaves. After weeks of searching elsewhere, I’d found one in the village. Typical!

The banded iguana is considered a national treasure by Fiji, and its image has appeared on stamps and currency

Luke Massey spent three months studying wildlife in Fiji.

USHUAIA, ARGENTINA

World’s end

Ushuaia, the world’s southermost city, is known as the end of the world, and it has been a dream of mine to visit it for the past 10 years. This year, I finally headed off to find it. After an 11-hour bus ride from Punta Arenas, Chile, I arrived at Ushuaia. Beyond excited, I couldn’t wait to explore the city but it was dusk when I checked in to my hotel and the lack of daylight forced me to change my plans. Still, I wanted to see some kind of sign to let me know I had arrived. Then I found it: a double-decker tour bus painted light blue with ‘Ushuaia’ on the blind. A smile jumped across my face as I took the photo... I was finally there.

Jonathan Dvorak spent three weeks in Chile and Argentina.

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Ushuaia is often considered the world’s southernmost city; Chile’s Puerto Williams is further south but much smaller

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Our Planet

OUR PLANET IS EDITED BY OLIVER SMITH. INTERVIEW: CHRISTA LARWOOD. PHOTOGRAPH: MATT MUNRO

This month’s travel news, views and discoveries

A LOCAL’S VIEW Tony Fontes, dive instructor, Airlie Beach, Australia I’ve been diving at the Great Barrier Reef since 1978. Swimming among manta rays, sharks and whales is something that people dream about – I have the opportunity to live it every day. Recently, Unesco warned that the reef is under threat and it may yet be put on the World Heritage In Danger list, thanks to the impact of climate change and industrial development on the coast. We’re trying to do our part locally with a group called OUCH, which stands for the Order of Underwater Coral Heroes. We run programmes for volunteers, including reef surveys. The reef can be there forever if it’s looked after. I’m one of those optimists. I feel it’s never too late.

Discover more about the reef at lonelyplanet.com/australia

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OUR PLANET JANUARY MIGHT not be the obvious JA tim for polo, but in Switzerland’s most time ico iconic ski resort, St. Moritz, the Polo W World Cup takes place on the frozen la as 15,000 visitors enjoy this unique lake sp spectacle. St. Moritz has a habit of at attracting Europe’s A-listers and the po is the hottest winter ticket in town. polo

ANYTHING TO DECLARE?

AA Gill

INTERVIEWS: OLIVER SMITH AA GILL, ORLA THOMAS KEN HOM. ILLUSTRATION: LOUISE MORGAN. PHOTOGRAPHS: GARY S CHAPMAN/GETTY IMAGES, GERAINT LEWIS/REX FEATURES, MASA USHIODA/ALAMY, PEDRO SAURA, SWNS.COM, RICHARD SAKER/REX FEATURES, ROB HANN/GALLERYSTOCK.COM

AA Gill is a critic for The Sunday Times and Vanity Fair. His new book, The Golden Door: Letters to America is a series of essays about the United States.

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I love small-town America

I wanted to write a book about America because I got fed up of sitting round dinner tables listening to people say: ‘all Americans are stupid’, ‘America is crass’, ‘it has no culture’, ‘it’s ugly and coarse’. French prime minister Georges Clemenceau famously remarked: ‘America is a country that went from barbarism to decadence without the usual interval of civilisation.’ Nothing I know about America fits this accepted European view of what America is like.

Those European jokes about small-town America are a very thin slice of the truth. The regularly cited cliché is that only 30 per cent of Americans have passports. Yet the point is that America is an enormous place. It would be ridiculous if only 30 per cent of Belgians had passports – you can cycle across Belgium – but if you lived in America, why would you go on holiday anywhere else? Americans are people who have already made enormous journeys to get to where they are. If not made by them personally, then by their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. There’s a sense that this is the end of their travels – it’s not that they’re not inquisitive; this was where they were inquisitive enough to get to. We who stayed behind were the ones who played it safe.

An enormous amount of the culture of the last 140 years has been American. Right across the board, the energy has been American. We’ve all accepted that – with the possible exception of the French, who resent it all hugely but still think that Jerry Lewis is one of the funniest people ever born. Europe’s relationship with America is complicated, but I think it says more about us than it does about America. Europeans who go to America and say it has no humour and no irony are bi-coastal visitors. They essentially go to New York and they go to California. They roll their eyes about the bits in the middle – they say: ‘All those square states, all those Republicans and hideous places with just three motels, strip malls, Taco Bells and pizza joints – how could anyone live there?’ I’m actually rather fond of the middle of America. I think Utah is one of the great unknown states – people rarely go there and it’s unbelievably beautiful. I’ve also spent some time in the corngrowing bits of Ohio, and you find a civic energy and pride in small-town America that you don’t find in the UK any more. Perhaps you never did find it here. If you live in a hierarchical society like ours, you tend to find that the upkeep of the place you

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OUR PLANET THE PHILIPPINES goes street-party crazy with the annual Ati-Atihan festival which honours Santo Niño, in the third week of January every year. Locals flock outside to parade in bright costumes, dancing and singing, in a riot of colour that might be more at home in South America.

LET'S GO FLY A KITE...India’s dreamy skies brighten up with its annual kite festival on 14 January, otherwise known as Makar Sankranti. We have it on good authority, that the most spectacular kites are generally to be found in Jaipur.

IN MY CASE

Ken Hom Chef Ken Hom spent five weeks in China making his new series Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure.

live in is the responsibility of the squire, or the county council. In America that’s never been true – people have settled there and they’re absolutely responsible for their town. There’s a sense that it’s yours, and if you don’t look after it, it will disappear.

I returned home to Paris with two big suitcases filled with food, but my most treasured souvenir was a batch of Szechuan peppercorns. They’re a speciality of the province, used in a lot of local dishes, and I’m just addicted to them. They smell incredibly fragrant – almost citrusy, with a hint of lavender – and the great thing is that when the flavour hits your tongue, it has this sort of numbing sensation. You can imagine what it’s like combined with chillies. The two together is knockout – a wonderful sensation, as if you’re on drugs. While making the programme, I mentioned to a Szechuan chef I had met how much I loved the

peppercorns, and he made this lovely package for me as a gift. By the time they come to the West, a lot of Szechuan peppercorns have lost their aroma and fragrance, but these were vacuum packed to keep them fresh. Now the package sits in my kitchen and sometimes I just like to take a sniff at it. It’s a treasure. If I add a small spoonful to a stir-fry dish, whoever I’m cooking for always asks: ‘What is that?’ Food things are my favourite sort of souvenir – when you eat something from one of your trips, it really brings back what it was like to be there, evoking memories of all the good experiences you had in that place.

Every American town and city has something that makes it memorable. I remember, somewhere in Texas, I went past a sign in the road that read: ‘Home of the Great American Barbecue Museum’. The person I was travelling with said: ‘We’ve got to go and have a look at it.’ I said that we really don’t, because the place you can imagine is going to be better – a charred building with people saying: ‘Is it too hot for marshmallows?’ My father nearly moved to America. After the war, an uncle who lived there invited him to stay. My father had a look and stayed for a few months, and nearly did settle. If he had, I’d have been a completely different person – I might have grown up in Michigan. Part of wanting to write this book was from the sense of someone who had stayed behind. AA Gill’s The Golden Door: Letters to America was recently released in hardback (Dhs116; Weidenfeld & Nicolson) January 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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OUR PLANET

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED, WITH TONY WHEELER

Jamaica

WHY NOW? It’s the 50th anniversary of the island’s independence, and also 50 years since Ursula Andress stepped onto a Jamaican beach in her white bikini in the first James Bond film, Dr No.

WHAT CAN I SEE? Montego Bay is the popular face of the island. Less well known than Jamaica’s beaches are the landscapes inland, including the jungles and peaks of the Blue Mountains. The porosity of limestone rock on the island’s surface means that it is dotted with a network of cave systems and sinkholes.

WHERE’S OFF THE BEATEN TRACK? Jamaica is famous as the site of Ian Fleming’s home, Goldeneye. More off the beaten track is Firefly – Noel Coward’s estate on the island’s north coast, where the author entertained the likes of Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn, and where he is now buried (see image above).

HOW SAFE IS IT? Kingston in particular has a reputation for violent crime, although this has dropped off in recent years. Follow Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice (fco.gov.uk).

WHAT SHOULD I EAT? Jamaican patties, jerk dishes and goat curry. More unusual is mannish water, an allegedly aphrodisiac soup made from goat offal, including brains.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING HOME? Should you pay a visit to the village of Accompong in western Jamaica, pick up a goombay drum – a traditional goatskin drum made by the Maroons, descendants of slaves who settled on this part of the island in the 18th century. TONY WHEELER, Lonely Planet’s co-founder, never stops exploring unusual places. Next month on his wish list: western China 20

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OUR PLANET

FREE WORLD

Salzburg Lonely Planet’s Austria expert shares her pick of free Salzburg this month STIEGLKELLER This cavernous beer hall, perched above the old town, hosts free concerts on Thursday evenings. Add in good company, jaunty Austrian folk music, malty ale and delicious hearty grub – such as goulash and pork knuckles – and it makes for the perfect winter warmer on a cold evening. tastegassner.com.

SCHLOSS MIRABELL Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich had this palace built for his mistress in 1606. Take a crisp walk along leaf-strewn paths that glisten with frost, as November ushers in winter at the Mirabell Gardens. The sculpture-dotted Dwarf Garden is also worth a wander (salzburg.info).

SALZBURGER DOM The crowning glory of Salzburg’s old town is the baroque Salzburger Dom – on the site of the city’s first cathedral. To gain historical insight, join a free tour, departing daily from Mozart Square at 2pm, or attend Sunday mass to hear the cathedral where Mozart once served as organist resounding with music (salzburger-dom.at).

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

The first UK City of Culture 2013 Focus on Northern Ireland with Derry’s year-long cultural bash Derry (also known as Londonderry) in Northern Ireland has been named as the first UK City of Culture for 2013. It will celebrate the town’s long sought peace and prosperity with a 12 month programme of cultural events and a boost to the local economy to help the city build itself up even further. The city is the second largest in Northern Ireland and the one of the few remaining walled cities in Europe, the still intact defenses are a popular tourist attraction today. Highlights of the cultural calendar include bespoke plays and performances that celebrate the city’s history, a city wide music day on 21 June and a festival of Irish culture in July. Find out the whole schedule at cityofculture2013.com.

Along with Mozart, Maria is Salzburg’s biggest draw. The Sound of Music’s snow-capped mountains slide into view on the bicycle trail to Schloss Hellbrunn – it’s free to visit the gardens, home to the pavilion of Sixteen Going on Seventeen fame. You can also see the Nonnberg Abbey, where the song Maria was filmed (salzburg.info).

DOWNLOAD THE APPS Salzberg has fully embraced the app revolution. From the tourist board's website you can download street maps, city guides, walking tours, special apps that only cover Mozart and more. All apps are available for iPhones, Android and Blackberry devices. salzburg.info/en/service/ smartphone_users KERRY CHRISTIANI lives in Germany and is researching the Austria chapter for Lonely Planet's Western Europe guide.

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OUR PLANET

From here to there... Remote festivals to new cheap flights, Georgina Wilson-Powell brings you the latest need-to-know travel info

At the Copa, Copacabana... The hottest spot south of Havana Our hearts are already in Rio de Janeiro, for the 2014 football World Cup and now the infamous Copacabana Palace has reopened after an extensive renovation, it would seem like the perfect time to visit. The imposing art deco hotel has played host to everyone from Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire to The Rolling Stones since it opened in 1923 and its opulent grandeur looms over the famous beach. The 90 rooms and six penthouses have been upgraded, the lobby has been made larger and Cipriani, one of the most famous restaurants in town also has had a facelift and now features a Chef’s Table. Rates start at Dhs1,749 a night. copacabanapalace.com

Dance in the desert Swap the UAE’s sands for the Sahara If living in the Middle East has given you a taste for sand, why not head to the most remote music festival on earth, in Mali? The three day arts and music festival has been going for 13 years and attracts an eclectic bunch of global musicians who gather two hours from Timbuktu. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Robert Plant said, "It's one of the few honest things I have been part of in a long, long time. It's amazing to play out in the sand. There are no doors, no gates and no money. It reminded me of why I sang in the first place. It's not commercialised."

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Besides the Led Zepplin rocker, previous artists have included Damon Albarn, Manu Chao and Habib Koite. Festival goers can expect to pick up unique arts and crafts, enjoy a cold beer and dance to traditional and contemporary music, as the festival seeks to promote tolerance, understanding and peace through common artistic goals. Practically you’ll need to book your travel and transportation through one of the associated travel agents (festivaldesert-hub.net). Three day tickets Dhs439; 20-22 February; festival-au-desert.org.

Five star culture London’s hotels bring the art indoors Five star hotels The Arch London and The Corinthia are bringing art and culture to their guests this winter. The Arch London, has installed specially commissioned art by emerging British artists for guests to enjoy whilst The Corinthia will host its second artist-in-residence, theatre company Look Left, Look Right, this spring. They have created a bespoke ’immersive’ play around the building’s history (it was once the Ministry of Defence). Guests and ticket holders will all play a part in the production in March. Email the hotel for tickets artistinresidence@corinthia.com.corinthia.com; thearchlondon.com

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And elsewhere in the world... The Maldives just got easier! Wanted to visit these gorgeous tropical atolls but were put off by the price? UAE budget carrier flydubai now flies to the capital, Male, five times a week from 19 January. The Maldives is permanently on the Middle East’s hit list to visit and the 1,190 coral islands are a romantic hideaway straight out of a magazine. Now you don’t have to spend a fortune on flights, we’d suggest booking a trip right away. See you there! flydubai.com. Find a secret retreat in Asia. Log off and spend some me time in one of a range of Asian counties. Secret Retreats has gathered together 33 inspiring, independent hotels across the continent, they’re joined together by passions for art, alternative therapies and fine food. Guests can explore the local arts scene, dive into bustling markets with the hotels’ chefs or find a little piece of inner peace with meditation workshops. secret-retreats.com/en. Rome gets a touch closer. Etihad and Alitalia have launched a direct service between the UAE and Italian capitals with four flights per week. etihad.com. Put your best foot forward in Cyprus. Sick of running round Safa Park? Cyprus will host its annual marathon (as well as a half marathon and 10kms) race in March. It starts in Petra tou Rominou, the birthplace of Aphrodite, and snakes along the beautiful coastline near Paphos. Take in the ancient world, whilst working off all the delicious Mediterranean food. cyprusmarathon.com. Let there be light in Genoa. The Italian city's 900 year old lighthouse, La Lantera, has reopened to the public. It stands on a rock 40kms high and can be seen 50kms away. A small museum onsite has also reopened. liguri.org/ lanterna/lighthouse.asp. Taste Ducasse in Doha. Celebrated chef Alain Ducasse, (who currently has three restaurants with three Michelin stars each) has opened his first restaurant in the Middle East, inside the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. IDAM uses plenty of organic ingredients, locally grown flowers and serves up French cuisine through an Arabic lens. (Read next month's issue for our thoughts on IDAM). Still in its soft opening phase, it's worth a trip to Doha alone. mia.org.qa. Go socially responsible in Brazil. Botanique Hotel & Spa in Campos do Jordao looks to lead the way in eco-resorts, it's the baby of AOL founder and philantrophist David Cole and Gordon Roddick, husband of The Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick. SIx suites and 11 villas are set within a 1 kms non motorised zone and the resort was built with all local materials, and every element from the books in the library to the restaurant, look to promote Brazilian culture. botanique.com.br.


EASY TRIPS

January’s the time to blow away any winter blues in tropical climes or embrace the cold on snowy peaks across Europe

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10 EASY TRIPS

Dublin, Ireland Go for a gathering WHY GO NOW? 2013 is the year of ‘The Gathering’, an open armed call to anyone who’s Irish, lived in Ireland or has ever fallen for the Emerald Isle’s charm, to return to the land they love. Throughout the whole year ‘gatherings’ will be organised, from families looking to reconnect to international cultural festivals, all

over the country. The annual Temple Bar Tradfest will host one such ‘gathering’. Held in January this area of Dublin attracts the country’s top trad musicians and international friends. Over 200 free events will include indoor and outdoor music sessions, kids’ activities, Irish dance shows, masterclasses, film screenings and street performers.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4Temple Bar Tradfest runs between 22-27 January 2013 and is free for everyone. Thegatheringireland.com has extensive details of all gatherings nationwide, and also allows you to set up your own ‘gathering’. 4You can fly direct from Abu Dhabi to Dublin on Etihad Airways (Dhs3,070; etihad.ae).

Song Saa, Cambodia Private paradise Just off the coast of Cambodia, in the Gulf of Thailand sits Song Saa, a pair of islands connected by a footbridge; the name means ‘the sweethearts’. If you need a perk me up escape or just a dose of nature choose from diving on the lively tropical reef, rich virgin rainforest and a hearty dollop of all things green. After the stressful festive period, we can’t think of anywhere better to escape to. At this time of year, the weather in Cambodia is just perfect. Basically adrift on your own island, you can live out any Robinson Crusoe fantasies, explore deserted beaches, kayak through mangroves, then retreat and enjoy complete luxury and privacy.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4Song Saa private island is a 50 minute flight from Siem Reap. Cambodia Angkor Air flies three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. cambodiaangkorair.com. Fly to Siam Reap from the UAE on China Southern. (Dhs238; csair.com/en/) 4For an easy life go with Black Tomato, who offer an 11 night package including all flights, five nights in Song Saa, five nights in Vietnam, half board meals and various foodie based tours (Dhs34,000 per person; blacktomato.com/country/ cambodia/song-saa/) 4You can apply for a Cambodian visa online at visa-cambodia.com.

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10 EASY TRIPS

Koh Samui, Thailand Detox retreat WHY GO NOW?

Skojpe, Macedonia Easy Eastern Europe

We all put on a little winter ‘padding’ over the festive season and a January detox has become an important part of modern life. Combine a health makeover and a rest for the soul and the mind with a weight management five day retreat on the beautiful Thai island of Koh Samui. Asian wellness practices such as yoga and cleansing

treatments are combined with group fitness, personal classes, nutritional supplements, well balanced meals and a take home plan to help you carry on the good work when you leave. The stunning scenery and chilled out vibe of southern Thailand will help you concentrate on refreshing your body and mind, all ready for an action-packed 2013.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4Health and Fitness Travel organise various wellness holidays all over the world. 4A seven night stay at Absolute Sanctuary includes the return flights and transfers (Dhs14,800; healthandfitnesstravel.com). 4 Information on Thai visas can be found at thailand.visahq com/

WHY GO NOW? Ever heard of Skopje? No? Then broaden your Eastern European horizons! The Macedonian capital just became a whole lot easier to explore, as flydubai now heads there twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays). Sat on the banks of the Vardar river, Skopje was an important trading town for both the Romans and the Ottomans, and nods to both Christianity and Islam can still be seen dotted around the many hills of the area. Similar to many other Eastern European cities, you’ll find the somewhat bleak, Communiststyle concrete buildings broken up with artsy cafes, buzzing bars, a burgeoning arts scene and plenty of history to absorb between local foodie adventures. Two of the city’s Turkish baths have been transformed into art galleries and both mosques and monasteries are open to explore.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Fly to Skojpe from Dubai direct (Dhs2,380; flydubai.com). 4 Momir offers traditional fish dishes for those wanting to try yummy Balkan delicacies (Bul Ivo Ribar Lola 79, New Town; +389 2 322 1548). 4 The National Gallery is housed in what was the largest Turkish spa in the Balkans (Kruševska 1A.nationalgallery.mk) 4 To explore next door Serbia, head to the country’s capital Belgrade via train on Serbian Railways, which takes around nine hours (Dhs328 return; raildude.com)

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10 EASY TRIPS

St Moritz, Switzerland Ski and spa WHY GO NOW? St Moritz has a well deserved reputation for being the Alpine destination of note. Originally a summer spa break for weary Brits in the 19th century, it wasn’t until 1864 that it took off as a winter escape. The owner of the Kulm Hotel, Johannes Badrutt, bet his guests they’d love the winter weather just

as much if they stayed, if they didn’t he’d pay for their trip. Lucky enough they did. The same Kulm Hotel brings its long running wellness heritage back to town with the opening of a new spa. Mountain-sore muscles can unwind in an outdoor heated pool with water jets, be soothed in a Jacuzzi, massaged in 13 treatment rooms and work out in a 20m pool.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4Take the train from Geneva, you’ll be treated to snowy pine tree, picture-postcard vistas that through the Engadine Valley area which is a UNESCO heritage park. (Dhs66; raileurope-world.com). 4Fly with KLM direct from Dubai

to Geneva (from Dhs2,720 for a return flight in January; klm.com). 4The historic Kulm hotel, with its grand European architecture and history is the place to see and be seen, right in the middle of town. (from Dhs3,000 per room per night; kulmhotel-stmoritz.ch).

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10 EASY TRIPS

Shanghai, China Eastern art WHY GO NOW?

Rotterdam, The Netherlands Say hello to haute couture

Shanghai has improved its art credentials by opening not one, but two, major new art destinations. The 2010 World Expo’s China Pavilion will now house 27 exhibition halls’ worth of classic art, under the moniker, the China Art Palace, and is now Asia’s largest art museum. Modern art gets its own home in the wonderfully-titled Power Station of Art, which will house the Shanghai Biennial until 31 March 2013. The building enjoyed a former life as Nanshi Power Station but has been

reborn as a green arts space. Although entry is free, tickets need to be reserved in advance and picked up at any of the entrances.

MAKE IT HAPPEN QThe China Guide can arrange bespoke tours that take in the city’s art scene. thechinaguide.com QThe award-winning Jumeirah Himalayas hotel combines neon-lit modernity with traditional Asian hospitality for a five star hotel that’s funky and full of its own art

collection (Dhs1,245 per night per room; jumeirah.com). QFind the enormous Power Station of Art at Lane 20, Huayuangang Lu, Near Miaojiang Lu, Huangpu district. QShanghai isn’t warm in January, so make sure you pack for low degree weather. QTo download a visa application, visit ae.china-embassy.org/eng QWhy not combine the trip with Chinese New Year which falls on 10 February this year.

WHY GO NOW? Put your fashion foot forward. From February until May, the Kunstal in Rotterdam will host ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’. Dedicated to one of the world’s most flambuoyant designers over the last three decades, the international exhibition, curated by Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, allows everyone a front row view of his haute couture creations, stage and movie costumes, some of which have been loaned from A-listers like Madonna. There’s more than just clothes to be found with fashion show recordings, videos, sketches and TV slots, plus 30 high tech mannequins which come alive with interactive faces (including Gaultier’s) using nifty AV projections. The extensive exihibition is as cutting edge as Gaultier is in his designs, it should not be missed!

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk will be on show from 10 February-12 May 2013. 4Fly to Rotterdam via London on Lufthansa (Dhs3,797; lufthansa.com). 4Stay at the Suitehotel Pincoffs, a charming boutique hotel sat canal side in the trendy left-bank area. Its known for its excellent service and filling breakfasts (Dhs767 per night; hotelpincoffs.nl).

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10 EASY TRIPS

Pinnawala, Sri Lanka Elephant heaven WHY GO NOW? With the climate at a moderate level in January, head to the tiny Sri Lankan town of Pinnawala. It is close to Kandy, the second most important town in the country, based inland amongst hills dotted with temples and tea plantations. What makes it special is that it’s home to hundreds of elephants, who are looked after in sanctuaries where you can wander around about as close as you dare to the jumbos. The elephants are herded down to the river every day to

bathe and play, and hundreds of people gather to watch the babies splash about whilst the older elephants stand there knee deep, contemplating the world. The elephants have often been rescued from cruel environments or have had accidents like stepping on land mines, the three-legged Dumbo tugs everyone’s heart strings. The whole town’s economy runs off the broad backs of these beasts, even down to the most popular souvenir, toilet paper made from elephant dung.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4Kandy is around a four hour drive from Colombo and a half hour drive from Pinnawala. 4Consider hiring a minibus with a local guide for your time in Sri Lanka. It will make life a lot easier than trying to navigate the chaotic roads and haphazard signage alone. srilankantourguide.com 4Hotel Hilltop in Kandy is a decent three/four star with an

approximate bed and breakfast rate of Dhs220 in January based on two people sharing. aitkenspencehotels.com/ hotelhilltop/ 4 Air Arabia flies between Sharjah and Colombo every day (Dhs1,286; airarabia.com). 4Make sure you also visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth in Kandy for a feel for Sri Lankan culture. daladamaligawa.org

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10 EASY TRIPS

Saariselkä, Lapland Let the lights shine WHY GO NOW? According to astronomers, the winter season of 2012/2013 is prime time to view the stunning Aurora Borealis, as these charged particles from the sun hit an eleven year cycle peak. The Northern Lights have inspired millions over the centuries with their celestial colour patterns of pinks, greens and reds, turning the Arctic sky into a mesmerising abstract painting.

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Saariselkä, a small town in Lapland, (northern Finland) offers its winter visitors other activities as well as sky-scanning, such as reindeer safaris, snow karting and hiking. You can even go the whole hog and book a snow or a glass igloo to sleep in, where you can watch the amazing lights from the comfort and warmth of your own bed. You can even get married here with a white wedding.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4Take a guided tour in Saariselkä, either by foot or snow mobile to explore the the best vantage points. sivut.saariselka.fi/topsafaris 4Fly to Saariselkä from Helsinki. (Dhs800; finnair.com). Get to Helsinki from Dubai with KLM (Dhs3,000; klm.com).

4Book into the Hotel & Igloo Village Kakslauttanen, which has 40 log cabins as well and the world’s largest smoke sauna. Open from December-April every year (kakslauttanen.fi/en/). 4Can’t wait to see the lights? Download the Laplication app. itunes.apple.com/fi/app/ laplication/id553424031?mt=8#

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10 EASY TRIPS

Victoria, Seychelles Carnival time WHY GO NOW? ‘Carnaval des Carnavals’ is the Seychelles festival that celebrates the islands’ multicultural heritage and takes over the town for three days every year. Brightly decorated floats, local and international bands and plenty of food bring the lively soul of the place to life, whilst the backdrop of Victoria is decorated with pretty lights and everyone gets their

dancing shoes on. Unlike the Maldives which are centred round peace and quiet, privacy and calm, the Seychelles are a riot of different nationalities, unique landscapes and friendly people. First owned by the French, and then the British, the Seychelles became independent in 1976 but the Creole culture lives on. There’s no better time to get a feel for it than Carnaval.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4‘Carnaval des Carnavales’ is from 8-10 February 2013. No visas are needed for visitors. 4Get into the festival spirit by staying with locals. Le San Souci is a guesthouse run by a French couple who include airport pickups. All rooms come with A/C

and sea views and the homemade meals are recommended (Dhs1,024 a night inc transfers and car hire; lesansouci.com). 4Emirates fly to the Seychelles daily. The flight is 4.5 hours (from Dhs3,700; emirates.ae). 4For more information check out seychelles.travel/.

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THE PERFECT TRIP

China Prepare for an epic journey through a land of monumental architecture and deeply rooted traditions, where modern, towering cities stand in stark relief to rural landscapes

The Great Wall of China was built to protect the Chinese Empire from military incursions from northern invaders, such as the Mongols 34

PHOTO

WORDS OLIVER BERRYl PHOTOGRAPHS MARK READ

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THE PERFECT TRIP China

Your trip mapped out China’s landscapes and ancient history have been inspiring travellers since the days of Marco Polo. Follow our oriental adventure by taxi, plane and bullet train, from the historic streets of the capital Beijing to the riverside splendour of Yangshuo JIANKOU Best for the Great Wall

China’s original superhighway is the country’s greatest and most recognised attraction, here snaking beyond the massed tourist hordes.

BEIJING Best for history

SHANGHAI Best for architecture Glimpse the capital as it once was, from the imperial splendour of the Forbidden City to the ancient hutongs – a beguiling web of alleyways.

LONGSHENG Best for rice terraces YANGSHUO Best for river scenery Rice is grown in China on a massive scale, and yet the ancient farmlands retain a majestic beauty at one with their environment.

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Cormorant fishermen continue their age-old tradition beneath the karst pillars that rise above the banks of the Yulong and Li rivers.

MAP ILLUSTRATION: ALEXANDRE VERHILLE

A towering vision of an urban future, Shanghai’s mighty skyscrapers grow ever taller and bolder in a myriad of revolutionary designs.

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THE PERFECT TRIP China

BEIJING

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Dusk is falling over the Forbidden City, the former imperial residence, and the last crowds of the day are filtering out through the gateways. The palace, spotlit by the evening sun, is painted in earthy tones: deep pinks, stone greys, cinnamon browns. Workers sweep the squares with willow brooms, and flocks of pigeons swoop across the courtyards or roost on temple rooftops, their fluttering wings blending with the distant hum of traffic and car horns. Sprawling across 180 acres of downtown Beijing, this vast palace served as the symbolic and political centre of the Chinese world for more than five centuries. Built under the reign of Chengzu, it was designed to project the might and majesty of the Chinese emperor. Between 1420 and 1924, 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties lived here in near-total seclusion, rarely

venturing out beyond the 10-metre-thick walls, and commanding an almost divine power over their subjects. One legend goes that the Forbidden City has 9,999½ bays, or rooms – only half a room less than could be found in heaven (though the official room count of the palace is actually 8,704). In previous centuries, anyone entering the Forbidden City without permission would have faced instant death. These days it’s China’s most popular sight and attracts enormous crowds – but even among the throngs, it’s still possible to find secluded corners: tumbledown temples, secret

galleries, forgotten chambers, quiet squares. It’s a place of ancient codes and secret symbols. The palace is laid out according to feng shui and its architecture is packed with hidden meaning – from the mythical creatures which adorn the buildings’ eaves to the recurrent motifs of the dragon and phoenix, emblems of emperor and empress. The Forbidden City is also a reminder of a much older Beijing which long predates the city’s skyscrapers, ring roads and office blocks. Spiralling out like a spider’s web from the old city are the hutongs: a tangled warren of alleyways and dungeons built after Genghis Khan’s Mongol army razed Beijing – known then as Zhongdu – to rubble in 1215. ‘The hutongs are the arteries of ancient Beijing,’ explains Gao Hongzhong, an artist, calligrapher and expert on Beijing’s architecture, who lives and works on a busy hutong just east of the Forbidden City. ‘Most people prefer to live in apartment blocks these days, but for me, this is where you’ll find the real Beijing.’ Lined with family-owned shops and siheyuan (traditional courtyard homes), each hutong illustrates a way of life that has endured in Beijing for eight centuries.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony is where Ming and Qing Dynasty emperors hosted their enthronement and wedding ceremonies

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Rickshaws and scooters rattle past while women gossip in the gateways, men play games of mahjong, and kids chase each other through the dusty backstreets, dodging boxes and washing lines. In the 1950s, there were as many as 6,000 hutongs in Beijing, but it’s thought that around 40 per cent of these have been bulldozed since 1990. Some, such as Nanluogu Xiang, have reinvented themselves with trendy bars, shops and cafés; others face a precarious future, eyed up by rich bankers and property tycoons keen to snap up a slice of Beijing’s dwindling architectural heritage. ‘Of course China must keep looking forward,’ notes Mr Gao, as he traces delicate Chinese characters on a sheet of parchment. ‘But we must preserve our past, too. Once we have lost it, we cannot get it back. And without it, we are in danger of losing sight of who we are.’ ABOVE, FAR LEFT: Artist and calligrapher

Gao Hongzhong. ABOVE LEFT AND BELOW LEFT: Hutong

residents gather to play the popular Chinese tile game mahjong

FURTHER INFORMATION l ebeijing.gov.cn l Forbidden City (dpm.org.cn; admission from Dhs23). l Beijing Hutong Tour (beijinghutongtour.com; half-day hutong tours from Dhs29). WHERE TO EAT l Dadong Roast Duck is one of Beijing’s top addresses for crispy duck. Chefs use roasting spits to keep the meat moist and ensure that the skin goes perfectly crispy (+86 10 8522 1234; mains from £64).

WHERE TO STAY

Orchid Hotel This courtyard hotel combines boutique style with a gorgeous setting in the hutongs of the Dongcheng district. Courtyard rooms feature rustic roof beams and underfloor heating, while the Three Gardens rooms have rain showers and zen patios. There’s a sweet garden bar, as well as a roof deck for evening drinks (theorchidbeijing.com; Courtyard rooms from Dhs408).

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THE PERFECT TRIP China

JIANKOU

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It’s a few hours past midnight and the forest around Jiankou is pitch-dark, but Zhao Fuqing shows no sign of losing his way. He walks with a steady stride, occasionally stopping to hack away foliage with a battered axe that he keeps tucked into his belt. Around him, the forest echoes with sounds: buzzing insects, croaking bullfrogs and birds twittering among the treetops. Abruptly, he stops and points through a gap in the forest canopy, where the first rays of dawn are breaking. High above, a ribbon of watchtowers and battlements snakes out across the rippled hills, its contours traced out against a fuchsia sky. Stretching for around 5,500 miles along China’s wild frontiers, the Great Wall is a potent symbol of the colossal power and iron will once wielded by the Chinese empire. This vast manmade barrier might

not be visible from space, as is often claimed, but it is truly one of the great wonders of the ancient world. In fact, there isn’t really one Great Wall at all, but many. It consists of numerous sections, built and modified by successive military commanders over the course of more than 2,000 years. Some parts are little more than pounded earth, mud and timber. Others, such as the Jiankou section, bristle with ramparts, forts and guard towers, often given elaborate names such as The Eagle Flies Facing Upward, Heaven’s Ladder or the Nine-Eye Tower. Built in the mid-14th century, during the Ming Dynasty, much of the Jiankou wall is now in a perilous state. Some areas are crumbling to dust, eroded by centuries of wind, rain and winter snows. Though heavily overgrown and riven with cracks, most of the watchtowers and battlements are still standing – although there’s no telling how long they’ll last. ‘I hope our wall will be here forever,’ muses Zhao Fuqing, who has been exploring this part of the wall since he was a boy and now works here as a walking guide. ‘But you never know what Mother Nature will bring.’ As if to illustrate his point, a rockslide suddenly thunders down the slopes, sending clouds of dust and rubble tumbling down the valley walls. ‘You see?’ Mr Zhao chuckles.

FURTHER INFORMATION OWildWall Weekends runs Great Wall tours in spring and autumn (from around Dhs1,490; wildwall.com).

WHERE TO STAY

Mr Zhao’s Hostel In the village of Xizhazi, the country inn run by Mr Zhao (pictured) is basic, but welcomes are warm. Although the rooms are spartan, they have hot showers and overlook a trout-filled well. Generous home-cooked meals are served on request, and Mr Zhao plans to add more sophisticated rooms soon (+86 10 6161 1762; rooms from Dhs87, mains from Dhs6).

Jiankou translates as ‘arrow nock’, named for the shape of the mountain and its collapsed ridge: a nock is the notch at the end of an arrow

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THE PERFECT TRIP China

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SHANGHAI

Best for architecture Miles into your trip: 920 Shanghai is about 820 miles south of Beijing. The bullet train covers the journey in four hours. A soft seat in standard class should cost Dhs554 0

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If anywhere symbolises China’s superpower future, it’s Shanghai. Wired by fibre-optics, intersected by neon-lit freeways and bathed in a permanent sodium glow, it’s the archetypal modern metropolis: faster, richer, brasher and busier than any other city in China. Twenty years ago, the city would barely have scraped into the top 50 in the world skyscraper league, but it’s now at number four – surpassed only by Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo – and rising fast. On the east bank of the River Huangpu, in the high-rise district of Pudong, the pace of change in Shanghai really shifts into focus. In 1990, this was still farm land, carpeted with rice paddies, cornfields, warehouses and boat stores. Two decades later, it’s the city’s priciest patch of real estate, home to the main financial district, the stock exchange and Shanghai’s tallest cluster of skyscrapers, including the gaudy Oriental Pearl Tower, the Gothamesque Jinmao Tower, the soaring Shanghai World Financial Centre and the Shanghai Tower, which will be the world’s second-highest building, at 632m, when it’s due to be completed in 2014. Wang Yi is a volunteer at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, where a scale model of Shanghai’s cityscape circa 2020 takes up the entire first floor. Though only in her teens, Wang has already seen the city change beyond recognition. ‘Many places I remember from when I was little look completely different now,’ she says. ‘Mostly the city is changing for the better, but sometimes I think it is moving too fast.’ Following the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, Shanghai became China’s wealthiest trading port, growing rich on the proceeds of silk, tea and opium, while attracting swathes of western merchants and investors. The legacy of the city’s golden age is still clear to see along the Bund, the city’s most celebrated boulevard, where the banks, office blocks and heritage hotels run the architectural gamut from austere NeoGothic to dreamy Art Deco. For Wang Yi, this mad mix of styles is symptomatic of Shanghai’s addiction to change. ‘Every new LEFT Shanghai’s skyline, dominated

by the Oriental Pearl Tower ABOVE RIGHT The Shanghai Urban Planning

Exhibition Center’s futuristic scale model of

building must be bigger, higher and shinier than the one before,’ she says. Outside, rush hour is in full swing. Scooters whine through tailbacks and drivers lean into car horns. Skyscrapers stack along the streets, blazing with incandescent colour. High above, the night sky glows like a filament, and the traffic stretches out like circuits on a motherboard. FURTHER INFORMATION Oshanghai.gov.cn OShanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center (supec. org; admission Dhs17.5). OJinmao Tower Observation Deck (jinmao88.com; admission from Dhs46). WHERE TO EAT OM on the Bund serves upmarket European food with knockout views of the Pudong skyline. In the evening, head downstairs for cocktails at the glitzy M Glamour bar (m-onthebund.com; dinner mains from Dhs110, cocktails from Dhs52).

WHERE TO STAY

The Waterhouse With its cracked concrete walls and minimalist lines, this is the epitome of Shanghai style. Rooms vary in layout, but all feature espresso machines, iPod speaker docks and sleek glass-walled bathrooms. The rooftop bar has electric views across Pudong’s neon-drenched skyline (waterhouseshanghai.com; from Dhs642).

the city

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THE PERFECT TRIP China

LONGSHENG

Best for rice terraces Miles into your trip: 1,935 From Shanghai, it’s a two-hour flight to Guilin. The Longsheng rice terraces are 65 miles north. expect to pay Dhs116-175 for a taxi or minibus 0

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Rice isn’t just a staple in China – it’s the stuff of life. Beyond the big cities, in the flatlands that cover much of the country’s interior, every inch of available earth is given over to its cultivation, and the landscape’s colours shift according to the rice season – acid green when the shoots are young, deep jade when the crop is mature, and tawny brown following the annual harvest. China accounts for more than 26 per cent of the world’s total rice yield, an astonishing statistic given that the majority of the country’s crop is still sown, tended and harvested by hand. High in the mountains of northern Guangxi stretches the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, a vast network stacked across the hillsides like the tiers of a wedding cake. Cultivated for more than eight centuries, the rice terraces cover 16 acres and range in altitude from 300m to 1,100m. Liao Guozhen can trace back his family’s rice-growing heritage here for at least 700 years. Now in his early seventies, he’s been 42

working in the terraces near his home village of Pinyan since he was eight years old. ‘I’ve never known anything other than growing rice,’ he says, puffing on a crooked cigarette as he wades knee-deep into the waterlogged paddies. ‘If you put me in a big city, I’d be lost, but here I always know what to do.’ As he tends to the shoots, banks of fog roll up from the valley and a few peaks peep out above the cloud. The terraces aren’t just beautiful, they’re a self-sustaining ecosystem. Springwater is trapped by the terraces, and then evaporates, forms clouds and falls again as rain higher up the mountain. The tiered structure also prevents erosion and provides a habitat for insects, birds and butterflies, which act as natural predators, reducing the need for pesticides. Yet as in much of rural China, the old ways are disappearing fast. ‘All of my grandchildren have left for the city now,’ admits Mr Liao, ‘and I don’t know what will happen to the terraces when there’s no-one left to work them. The future is uncertain, but we have always found a way to survive.’ FURTHER INFORMATION Olongjiriceterraces.com WHERE TO EAT O The village of Pinyan is packed with restaurants – but for authentic regional food, such as sticky pork and sticky rice cooked in lengths of bamboo cane, head for the Meiyou Café (+86 40 7583 0461; mains from Dhs17.5).

ABOVE LEFT Conical hats are usually worn by rice

farmers for protection against the sun and rain ABOVE RIGHT A Miao girl wearing a traditional

costume OPPOSITE Liao Guozhen surveys his rice terraces

WHERE TO STAY

Longji Star-Wish Resort Perched at the top of Pinyan and reached via a leg-shredding climb, this cosy village hotel has lots of traditional character, from the futon beds and carved wooden furniture to the tea sets laid out in every room. The valley views are inspirational, especially from its balcony rooms (+86 40 0810 6868; from Dhs233).

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THE PERFECT TRIP China

YANGSHUO

Best for river scenery Miles into your trip: 2,041 The main town of Yangshuo is 41 miles south of Guilin. Frequent buses operate (single journeys costing around Dhs10.5). A taxi should cost Dhs145-175. 0

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A spiky patchwork of peaks, plains, creeks and canyons, Yangshuo is where China’s city dwellers go when they want to experience the great outdoors. Stretching along the banks of the Yulong and Li rivers, this rural county is home to some of the country’s most famous landscapes – they even feature on the back of the 20 yuan note. Strewn with karst pillars, rural villages and riverside trails, it offers a glimpse of an agrarian past that feels a world away from the clamour of China’s traffic-choked cities. For centuries, life here has been dictated by the river. During seasonal monsoons, the floodplains and rice fields all but disappear under water; in high summer, many of the creeks and tributaries dry up to a trickle. Before the advent of motorways and high-speed trains, the rivers were often the only means of transportation in rural China and, even now, traditional bamboo rafts are still a common sight along the riverbanks – although these days, they’re more likely to be transporting tourists than trade goods. Tourism may be Yangshuo’s most

lucrative industry today, but some of the old river ways endure. Cormorant fishing is one such custom – fishermen train the cormorants using loops of throat twine, which allow the birds to guzzle smaller fish but prevent them from eating the larger ones. As recently as the 1950s, there were as many as 500 cormorant fishermen working on the Li River, but now only a handful remain, mainly to stage shows for visitors. Grandfather Huang is one of the last; aged 86, he’s been fishing here since learning the secrets from his father almost 80 years ago. ‘Cormorants are very clever birds,’ he explains, dressed in his traditional garb of loose pyjamas, matted cloak and bamboo hat. ‘Each has their own character – some are hard workers, but others are very lazy. They understand many commands. Some of them even know swear words,’ he laughs. Later, fleets of bamboo rafts float out along the Yulong river. Steering between stone weirs and hidden eddies, the boatman points out wildlife along the riverbanks: shelducks in the shallows, water buffalo in the grass, a grey heron hidden among the reeds. In the distance, limestone pillars spiral skywards, their pinnacles cloaked in cloud, and white mist drifts off the fields. FURTHER INFORMATION O yangshuo-travel-guide.com O Raft trips are available (from Dhs17 per person). WHERE TO EAT O Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant is a rarity in China: serving dishes such as snow peas with wild garlic, and tofu-stuffed tomatoes (+86 77 6592 3627; 7 Die Cui Rd, Yangshuo County; mains from Dhs11).

ABOVE Cormorant fisherman Huang on the Yulong river.

WHERE TO STAY

Yangshuo Resort Acres of space and a riverside location make this huge five-star hotel one of Yangshuo’s top options. It’s the size of a small town, so there’s no shortage of rooms: all are enormous, with modern décor and organic bath goodies. More expensive rooms have balconies and bathrooms overlooking the river (yangshuoresort.com.cn; from Dhs580). .

OLIVER BERRY writes regularly for Lonely Planet Traveller. He got up at 2am to see the sun rise over the Great Wall, and is extremely glad that he did.

NEXT MONTH: YOUR PERFECT TRIP TO VIETNAM January 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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life travel My of

Reecting on his remarkable 60-year career, Sir David Attenborough returns to the rainforests of Borneo to see how life on the island has changed – and shares three more of his most memorable travel experiences INTERVIEW ORLA THOMAS

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Sir David Attenborough in the jungles of Borneo, visited during the making of his new TV series Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild

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I’ve spent my life filming the natural world, and I’ve travelled to some pretty remote and exciting places in order to do so. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

BORNEO

TRAVEL NOTES l Countries: The island is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and the tiny oil-rich state of Brunei. l What’s it like? Expect dazzling biodiversity, with ancient rainforests where birdlife chatters in the treetops and languid apes swing from the creepers. Elsewhere are mangrove swamps, granite mountains, and coral reefs on the coast. l Top experiences: Wildlife is Borneo’s trump card – whether it be coming face-to-face with distant cousins at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, exploring the cave system of Gomantong in Sabah (home to swiftlets and bats) or watching hatchlings scurrying seawards at the Turtle Islands Park, set just off Borneo’s northern shores. l Getting started: There’s no bad time to visit Borneo, which is hot and humid year-round. Kota Kinabalu is the best entry point – Royal Brunei offers flights from Dubai, changing at Kuala Lumpur (from Dhs2,691; royalbrunei.com). For more see Lonely Planet’s Borneo guide book (Dhs87) or visit lonelyplanet.com/borneo. l Explore more at home: Watch the original Zoo Quest online at bbc.co.uk/archive/attenborough.

When Sir David Attenborough first visited Borneo in 1955, he was 29 years old. He was there to make Zoo Quest, his first major series and a pioneering new concept for television. A collaborative project between the BBC and London Zoo, each series saw David travelling with zoo staff to a far-flung location, where they would capture an exotic animal for the zoo’s collection – something that was accepted practice at the time. Accompanied by cameraman Charles Lagus and a local guide named Sabran, David made his way up the Mahakam River on Borneo’s east coast in a small launch boat. Over several weeks spent living in the homes of the indigenous, forest-dwelling Dayak people, the team assembled a floating menagerie of specimens for the zoo’s collection. ‘Borneo’s rainforest is particularly rich,’ says David, ‘with all kinds of wonderful insects, birds and mammals. Macaques, flying lizards, flying snakes, flying frogs – it’s full of wonders.’ Though the aim of the series was to reach the dragons of tiny Komodo, it was in fact an orphaned orangutan that stole the show. ‘We called him Charlie,’ David remembers. ‘His mother had been killed by a local tribesman because she had been raiding his banana plantation – a very common occurrence – but he’d kept the baby.’ The team exchanged all their remaining supplies of salt and tobacco for the infant red ape, and he was eventually re-homed at London Zoo, where his celebrity status

brought an influx of visitors to the Monkey House. ‘Most young creatures are loveable,’ says David, ‘but he was particularly so.’ In 1972, for Eastward with Attenborough, David revisited Borneo to tell a different story. At the cave system of Gomantong in Sabah, he showed how local people were risking their lives climbing a rickety network of ladders and ropes to retrieve valuable swiftlet nests. A few inches long and constructed entirely of the birds’ own glutinous spittle, the nests are the key ingredient in the gourmet Chinese delicacy, bird’s nest soup. ‘We had to cut our way through the undergrowth to get our equipment up to the cave, and it was very difficult to light such a dark space,’ he recalls. ‘It’s very tall, perhaps a hundred feet high, and at one end of it was this great pile of dung. To get close to the roof, which is covered by thousands of bats, you had to clamber up this mound – it smelled strongly of ammonia, and was covered in a carpet of cockroaches.’ Undeterred by this unappetising experience, David then visited a local restaurant to try the prized ingredient for himself. A plain nest tasted, he told viewers, of ‘nothing whatsoever’. Earlier this year, filming for his upcoming BBC series Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild, David again returned to Borneo and was saddened by some of the changes he saw. ‘There are millions more people,’ he says. ‘And to feed all these human Gomantong G cave in Sabah, Borneo. Men cli climb the rickety rope lad ladders to retrieve valuabl valuable swiftlet nests. LEFT Dav David and Jack Lester, then Curator of t Reptiles at London Zoo, plot an animalcollecting collectin trip in 1955 FAR LEFT

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PHOTOGRAPHS: DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, BBC/ADAM SCOTT, JEAN-PAUL FERRERO/ARDEA.COM, FRANS LANTING/LANTING.COM, WILLIAM VANDERSON/FOX PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

EARLY DISCOVERIES:

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A L I F E O F T R AV E L

Morning mist shrouds lowland rainforest in Sabah, Borneo. Two million hectares of rainforest are divided between the three countries that share Borneo

mouths, a great deal of the forest has now been cut down and replaced by palm oil plantations.’ But there are reasons to be hopeful – in 2007, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei signed the Heart of Borneo Agreement, declaring the rainforest would be protected while allowing sustainable use and access by local people. Borneo’s diverse creatures now also enjoy greater protection from the humans with whom they share the island. The future of the cave-dwelling swiftlets looks altogether more secure. Though some caves are still regularly harvested, providing locals with a much-needed source of income (each small nest is worth around £100), others are protected and one, Gomantong, is open for visitors to explore. It is a compromise that has benefitted both wildlife and the local economy. Likewise, on Selingaan or ‘Turtle’ Island, a local conservation project has transformed the fate of the green turtle. Once vulnerable to poaching, turtle eggs are now collected and reared in a hatchery before the babies are released into the sea. Orangutans remain on the endangered

list, but there have been steps in the right direction. ‘There are now several refuges for baby orangs that have been captured illegally, one of which is in Sepilok,’ says David. ‘There is a lot more work being done to rescue orangs now, but of course they are in much greater danger than they were, so such places are needed.’ David believes that the influence of visitors to Borneo can be harnessed as a force for good. ‘The fact that people are interested in these animals means that they’re protected, and visitors can give something back to the local people, which is very important,’ he says. ‘If it wasn’t for eco-tourism, there are lots of creatures that would be extinct now – the Galápagos Islands would’ve lost a great number of its species, I’m quite sure, unless it had been that there was money to be made – very properly made – by taking visitors in. Likewise, in my view, Africa’s mountain gorillas would not exist now were it not for eco-tourism.’

Sir David Attenborough with Charlie, the orphaned ape who was brought to London Zoo and founded its orangutan colony

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A L I F E O F T R AV E L A scuba diver watches a school of colourful fairy basslet fish navigate the coral branches of the Great Barrier Reef – one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth

UNDERWATER ADVENTURES:

TRAVEL NOTES l Country: Australia l What’s it like? Just off the

coast of Queensland, this is the world’s biggest coral reef system, covering 133,000 square miles. It’s also the only living thing visible to the naked eye from up in space. l Top experience: Close encounters with butterflyfish, angelfish and turtles in clear waters on a Great Barrier Reef day trip. l Getting started: The city of Cairns is a popular gateway to the reef, with numerous boat operators, and, for the uninitiated, it’s also a good place to learn to dive. You can get to Cairns on Emirates and Virgin Australia (from Dhs7,580; emirates.com). For a different perspective, the palm-fringed Whitsunday Islands off Queensland’s northern coast also have good access to the reef. The region is best avoided during ‘The Wet’ – monsoon season (December-March). Find out more in next issue’s The Perfect Trip to Queensland, Lonely Planet’s Australia (Dhs105) and lonelyplanet.com/ queensland. l Explore more at home: Visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority at gbrmpa.gov.au.

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‘Showing branching corals, shoals of fish, sea urchins and multitude of different colours, a picture of a coral reef is one of the common clichés of travel magazines,’ says David. ‘But that makes a reef none the less wonderful when you first see it for yourself.’ More so than swimming or snorkelling, David says scuba diving allows us to inhabit the water almost as equals to the creatures living below the surface. ‘You’re able to move with complete freedom. It’s like being a superhuman being, to be able to suddenly rise or dive 50 feet. It’s an extraordinary experience.’ One of David’s early dives, off Papua New Guinea, was captured on camera for his 1957 series Zoo Quest for the Paradise Birds – but he says it’s the Great Barrier Reef that offers the most magical sights underwater. ‘Diving here is a thing that anybody can do, but it’s a marvellous experience because you see some of the most beautiful creatures you ever saw in your life,’ says David. ‘Many of which you’ve never seen before, because on a coral reef there are all kinds of forms of life which you never knew existed.’ Though

coral reefs exist within just one per cent of our oceans, they support one quarter of their fish. ‘The colours are fantastic. There you are with your face mask on, able to dive among all these creatures, and they are totally unafraid.’ David admits, however, that the feeling isn’t always mutual – over the years he has spotted several of the sea’s most formidable predators, including sharks. ‘When you see big fish coming, you do wonder what they’re going to do,’ he says. ‘But any fear is only because of my own unfamiliarity – I‘ve never been in any danger, beyond my own incompetence. Although you ought to have a healthy respect for them, most animals are more scared of you than you are of them.’ There are some exceptions to that rule – one found in the rainforests and plains of India, southern China and Southeast Asia. ‘A king cobra, which is about four metres long and can rise as high as a man, can kill with one bite – and is aggressive. That’s a very formidable thing. Fortunately I’ve never seen one in the wild, but I’m sure I’d be scared to death if I did.’

PHOTOGRAPHS: AUSCAPE INTERNATIONAL/ALAMY, NORBERT PROBST/IMAGEBROKER/SUPERSTOCK

THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

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A funeral procession passes the boat-shaped roofs of homes in Tana Toraja. bottom Sulawesi is home to diverse landscapes, from crystal waters to volcanoes

HUMAN ENCOUNTERS:

TRAVEL NOTES l Country: Indonesia l What’s it like? Sulawesi is

one of Indonesia’s most culturally distinct islands, with communities historically isolated by forbidding topography – thick jungle and a spine of volcanoes rising in the north area. l Top experiences: Visiting Tana Toraja, a collection of unspoilt villages hemmed in by mountains, to attend a traditional funeral ceremony. Alternatively, search for thousandyear-old megaliths while hiking the jungles of Lore Lindu National Park. l Getting Started: Singapore Airlines flies to Manado – one of Sulawesi’s main transport hubs – from Dubai, changing at Singapore (from Dhs3,660; singaporeair.com). Tana Toraja is home to the hospitable Toraja people, whose biggest funerals are usually held in the dry months of July and August. Visitors are welcome but should wear black and bring gifts for the departed’s relatives. See Lonely Planet’s Indonesia (Dhs116) and lonelyplanet.com/ indonesia/sulawesi. l Explore more at home: Learn about Tana Toraja at whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5462.

With his early expeditions taking place at a time when much of the world remained inaccessible, David has enjoyed the sense of adventure that came with pioneering exploration. Eastward with Attenborough took him to some of the most remote parts of Southeast Asia, including the island of Sulawesi. ‘In the area we visited, we were the only Europeans, and it was wonderful to see a completely different style and way of life,’ says David. ‘People lived in dramatic villages with extraordinary huts, and wore beautifully picturesque dress. The landscape was terraced with rice fields, and it seemed like a picture from a different world.’ Unusually for the world’s most famous living naturalist, it was human rather than animal culture that most fascinated David in Sulawesi. ‘I attended several funeral festivals, which are a very prominent feature of ceremonial life there,’ he remembers. Funerals take place months or even years after a person has died, and involve elaborate rituals including tau-tau, life-sized wooden effigies of the deceased, and burial sites carved into rocky cliffs. Hundreds of people often attend the

ceremonies, which take place over several days. ‘There were big feasts and grand offerings, including the sacrifice of water buffalo.’ Though David describes human behaviour as ‘fascinating, very much more complex than any other animal behaviour,’ he says travel has taught him the universality of some simple human gestures, such as a friendly eyebrow-lift. ‘You can be surprisingly informative in your conversations, just by gesture.’

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PHOTOGRAPHS: JOSU ALTZELAI/SUPERSTOCK, JAMES HAGER/SUPERSTOCK, BARRY LEWIS/ALAMY, ADAM SEWARD/ALAMY, TIPS IMAGES/SUPERSTOCK

SULAWESI

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A L I F E O F T R AV E L The Kalahari’s is home to the San hunters’ prey, such as the kudu (below), caught using ‘persistence hunting’. Bottom: Sir David, with meerkat on shoulder, while filming The Life of Mammals

ETERNAL SPIRITS:

THE KALAHARI

TRAVEL NOTES l Countries: Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. l What’s it like? This expanse of semi-arid savannah grasslands is one of Africa’s most sublime sights, supporting a wide variety of flora and fauna – including big cats. l Top experience: See the kudu, plus howling spotted hyenas, cheetahs, leopards and more at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which straddles the border of Botswana and South Africa in the southern Kalahari (sanparks.org/ parks/kgalagadi). l Getting started: Kenya Airways offers flights to Botswana’s capital Gaborone from Dubai, changing in Nairobi (from Dhs3,920; kenya-airways.com). Spring is a glorious time to visit, with migrant birds appearing and thorny plants in full bloom. Find out more with Lonely Planet’s Botswana & Namibia guide (Dhs99) and at lonelyplanet.com/ botswana. l Explore more at home: Watch the BBC Earth YouTube video called Human Mammal, Human Hunter (youtube.com/ watch?v=826HMLoiE_o).

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For his 2002 series The Life of Mammals,, David visited the San people of the Kalahari Desert. ‘We were there to film the way in which bushmen hunt – and have hunted since prehistoric times,’ he says. ‘They have a great respect for the creatures that they hunt, upon which they depend, and in fact measure their own endurance against that of the kudu – the big antelope which was their prey in this instance.’ Their ancient technique e is a ‘persistence hunt’, and can take days. s. ‘It’s a competition between animal and hunter,’ says David. ‘The bushmen wear the kudu out, keeping the chase going so that it never has time to recover.’ The men enter an almost trance-like state of concentration as they pursue the animal through the parched landscape, the sun beating down on their backs. Occasionally the tracks seem to almost disappear, but the bushmen know what to look for – the contour, dimension and depth of the hoof print revealing what speed the animal was travelling at, and even how long since it had passed that way. Eventually, the kudu collapses from

sheer h exhaustion. h ti Th The ttriumphant i h tfi finall capture is also, says David, ‘a very solemn moment. When the animal dies, the hunter pays it great respect, and performs a small ritual.’ Rubbing earth across the kudu’s skin, the hunter returns the animal’s spirit to the desert sands.

Find out more about Sir David’s life and travels in David Attenborough: Life on Air (Dhs116; BBC Books) and David Attenborough: Life Stories (Dhs116; HarperCollins).

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SONGKRAN FESTIVAL 13-15 APRIL

Come to Thailand and celebrate the coolest festival on earth! During 13-15 April the whole country will celebrate the Songkran Festival, represent the traditional Thai New Year, or known as the “World Famous Water Festival�

For more information please visit http://songkran.tourismthailand.org

Tourism Authority of Thailand ( TAT) Dubai & Middle East Office P.O. Box 450019 Dubai - U.A.E. Tel. +97143250184-5 Fax. +97143250187 E-mail: tatdubai@tat.or.th www.tourismthailand-middleeast.org


Arabian treasure

Jordan’s wonder of the world might be a wonderland of history but where do you start? We delve down the crevices and climb the mountain tops to bring you a practical guide to Petra WORDS GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL t PHOTOGRAPHS MARK READ

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AVING LAIN ‘UNDISCOVERED’ BY the West for 600 years, it’s only right that Petra requires patience from its visitors. The ancient site sprawls across hillsides and down into crevices, with more than 800 tombs, monuments, shops and homes, baths and gateways. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, Petra is one the modern seven wonders of the world and a huge pull for international visitors to Jordan. A 20 minute walk down a paved hill from the entrance gate brings you to the Siq, the thin start to this ancient city that is over a kilometre long. The path winds between rusted pink overhangs and dramatic bends in the cliff face as it works its way deeper and deeper into the cleft. Despite the hurdles of building a town within a narrow gap between rock faces, hollowed out pipes carved into the rock (which channelled water through the town) are evident and faint impressions of worn away shrines can be seen. Horse drawn carriages clatter up and down the Siq all day carrying passengers to old to walk, their hooves echoing down the canyon. The Siq funnels visitors down an increasingly narrow passageway and then it happens, the

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Indiana Jones moment. A sliver of the ornate Treasury can be glimpsed, naturally framed by rough rock, its hidden location is perhaps one of the most stunning on earth. Even now two thousand years after Petra’s peak, it is still a hugely impressive sight, you can only imagine the impact it had on nomadic travellers and traders when Petra was a flourishing cosmopolitan city, home to 30,000 people. Standing in front of the Treasury, sound bounces off what is essentially a large protective cave, open only to the sky. It only emphasises the enormous sense of history that unfurls before you as you stand there trying to make sense of the sight. Petra was built by the Nabataeans, a nomadic trading people who recognised the area as somewhere they could protect their caravans and water their animals. But between the 3rd and 1st Century BC, they gave up their travelling ways and developed Petra as a defensive centre against the factions created after Alexander the Great’s empire broke up. They became ‘civilised’ incredibly quickly, developing other towns along their trading routes, establishing banks and minting coins. Their reach expanded across what is Jordan today to the Sinai peninsula and even to the West bank of the Mediterranean Sea. In 106 AD Petra became part of the Roman Empire,

and Byzantine style was added to the long list of architectural influences, churches sat alongside temples, formed out of the rock face. However, over the next five hundred years, Petra declined in commercial influence as trade routes changed and it suffered a trio of earthquakes, the last in 551 AD almost completely decimated it. A further quake in 757 AD reduced the city to a ghost town. Petra became forgotten. Although the Treasury is the most iconic site left for visitors in Petra today, it’s only the start of a vast area. As you wander further from the Treasury and onto the Road of the Facades (you can wander anywhere you can climb), evidence of other civilizations creeps in, Roman colonnades line a paved street where it doesn’t take much to imagine the hustle and bustle of market day, an amphitheatre sits nearby and remains of water fountains are evident. The site stretches as far as the eye can see, and everywhere you look you’ll see carved tombs, houses, temples and monuments just waiting to be explored. Petra is a kids’ playground for anyone who likes clambering over rocks, there’s no roped off areas or a sense of being kept away from the ancient carvings, the town lies open to explorers. It is worth climbing up to one of the tombs such as the Tomb of the Urn, located on the hills to the right of

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The Treasury, lit up at night

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The plains surrounding Petra, camels wait for their passengers; The Monastery; The Treasury greets explorers

the main street to get a view from up on high to see just how big Petra really is. Knowledge of this architectural wonder was lost to the outside world until 1812, when intrepid explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt was the first westerner to confirm its existence. He had only been able to do so by going undercover, learning the language and customs of the Arab world and changing his appearance for so long, that eventually the rumours he heard of Petra were finally revealed to him. He pretended to be on a pilgrimage to a temple he thought lay within the mysterious complex to eventually gain access. Although forgotten by outsiders, the Bedouins never abandoned this dusty shadow of a city, residing continuously in the caves carved thousands of years ago. As much as there is to see, make time for the Monastery. It’s an hour long climb up over 1,000 long-worn craggy steps that snake round the edges of deep cracks in the arid landscape, some perilously close to the edge (health and safety refreshingly doesn’t exist here, but don’t be caught out trying to ascend or descend with evening coming on, a mis-step would be fatal). The path has been well trodden over the thousands of years, as you climb up you’ll get a narrow view looking back down the valleys of ruined Petra, and there’s a sense that the 56

city still keeps most of its secrets. Many Bedouins still live in Petra and make their living renting out their donkeys or camels (otherwise known as a “Bedouin Ferrari”) to transport tourists to the Monastery. It’s worth consideration, it’s a long, steep climb (believe the guides when they say it's pretty far!), whereas the donkeys know every step of the way. Make sure you carry plenty of water, especially in the searing summer months before attempting the ascent. Crest the top of this climb however and drop round onto a flat plain of cracked rock, and the Monastery is nothing less than awe-inspiring. Bigger and bolder than the Treasury, its façade sits open to the elements, in brazen defiance of the passage of time. It was built in the 3rd Century BC but it was actually a tomb and a church rather than a lived in structure. From here you can see across to sites further away on other hillsides and mountain tops that were once habited, Petra’s society spread a great distance despite the harsh terrain. Visitors now can only sit back and guess at what this most-protected of cities must have been like two thousand years ago, but it’s heartening to feel that regardless of the years, Petra’s history still has the power to inspire and amaze. Petra is open from sunrise to sunset, but be careful to keep an eye on the time if you

visit in the afternoon. Night falls quickly here, and there are no lights within the site, you wouldn’t want to be lost here after dark. Just remember it is a good half hour walk to get out of the site through the Siq, from the Treasury. Dhs311 for a two day pass; visitjordan.com.

WHERE TO STAY

Crowne Plaza Wadi Mousa The Crowne Plaza Wadi Mousa at Petra is a stone’s throw from the site gates and it is also home to the Cave Bar, an intimate, atmospheric bar created from a 2,000 year old ancient tomb. (Dhs376 per room per night; crowneplaza.com/ hotels/us/en/petra)

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Petra While you're in the Middle East, visiting Petra is an absolute must. And as you're in Jordan don't miss out on the country's other naturally spectacular sights

Roman columns line an ancient street

WHERE TO GO NEXT

ESSENTIALS Getting there Fly Dubai fly to Amman daily from Dubai (Dhs1,200 return. flydubai.com). Royal Jordanian fly to Aqaba direct from Dubai (Dhs1,800. rj. com).

Getting around Petra is accessible by private taxis from Amman (which are expensive) or there is a scheduled bus service through the company, Jett. There are a couple of pick up points in Amman and tickets cost from Dhs39 one way. For a schedule log onto the website, jett.com.jo

Further reading The 2012 edition of Lonely Planet’s Jordan guide is available for Dhs93 from lonelyplanet.com.

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Head to the lowest point on Earth (423 metres below sea level) to float in ridiculously salty water and soak up the beneficial minerals from this world famous sea. There are several hotels located on the banks, including Kempinski and Movenpick. Geographically it's best to do this on your way to Petra from Amman, otherwise you'll end up zig-zagging up and down the country.

Located just 5 kms from the Saudi Arabian border, the southern tip of Jordan is known for its fantastic diving and snorkelling in the Red Sea. Check into the Radisson Blu Tala Bay Aqaba for an upmarket stay with plenty to do – there are pools, various watersports and a fab spa here. Perfect for a couple of days relaxing after the arduous climbs of Petra. radissonblu.com/resort-aqaba

Jordan’s second most impressive attraction, Wadi Rum, is all natural rather than man-made, and there are plenty of operators offering daily tours, overnight stays, camping, glamping and more. Try bedouinlifestyle.com or wadirum. org. For a different perspective try hot air ballooning or skydiving over country's largest wadi. jordanbeauty.com

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A taste of Thailand Forget the sarongs and flip-flops, full moon parties and Westerners and discover a more authentic side to Thailand – land of the free. Authentic doesn’t have to mean budget, as we discover on a visit to Bangkok and domestic holiday secret, Hua Hin WORDS GEORGINA WILSONPOWELL

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The Summer Palace near Hua Hin

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F YOU’RE AFTER A THAI HOLIDAY with a difference, check out the spa, arts, culture and history options in Bangkok and Hua Hin, you’ll leave with more of an appreciation of this lush country than ever before.

HUA HIN The beachside resort town of Hua Hin is home to around 80,000 people and for years it has been the place to go for Thai royalty and the upper classes, who want to escape dirty Bangkok at the weekend. Think of it as the Thai version of the Hamptons or the Cotswolds. At only a 2.5 hour drive away it is Bangkok’s closest beach, and the coastline is home to three palaces, earning it the nickname, the ‘Royal Coast’. Whilst Hua Hin sees a lot of domestic and Asian tourists, Western visitors are refreshingly thin on the ground, even at the town’s bustling night markets. If you’re after a taste of real Thailand, away from the gap-year packed beaches of the southern islands, Hua Hin should be on your list. THE SUMMER PALACE The Summer Palace, only around 20 minutes drive from Hua Hin, was built in 1923 and embraced the colonial style, but it was only actually used for two years by King Rama VI before he died. It stayed closed until 1956 when it was restored and given to the public as a museum and seaside grassy park, and it remains very popular

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with both Thai and Asian tourists to this day. Visitors can promenade the grounds and take a tour of the two storey palace, with its long ambling walkways that connect the various areas of the complex. The entire palace was built on stilts to allow a breeze to permeate through the rooms, and even the ground floor walkways were raised so that ordinary folk received some of this benefit. The lush grounds are perfect for a morning stroll and a peek into Thailand’s recent past. MARKETS Having soaked up the area’s history and culture, you’ll be set for an evening of bustling shopping. Hua Hin has a central night market that sells everything from fake Dr Dre headphones to handcrafted jewellery and endless souvenir tat. More interesting here are the food sellers (try the local coconut ice cream, it’s delicious) offering Asian delicacies of which you can probably only recognise a few. For a more handcrafted experience, the Cicada market happens every weekend, just at the entrance of Hyatt Hua Hin. This specially created ‘arts’ area includes a market full of locally made items, an al-fresco gallery exhibiting Hua Hin based artists and a huge food court. As the evening gets going, the steps by the main road become populated with Thai teens trying their hand at breakdancing and body popping, performance artists pepper the crowd and next door at a small amphitheatre local acts

belt out domestic hits to a crowd hyped on Chang or Asahi beer. For a sense of what modern Thai tourists love about Hua Hin, the Cicada market should be a must do. The night market stretches from Petchkasem Road to the railway line and opens at 6pm every day. Cicada can be found on Khao Takieb-Hua Hin Road and is open from 4pm-11pm Fridays and Saturdays and 4pm-10pm on Sundays. cicadamarket.com THE BARAI SPA Not just any old spa, The Barai is a cross between a Moroccan-inspired maze and a trip through Alice in Wonderland. The 12 metre high, dusty earth and rich cobalt coloured walls guide you through endless courtyards filled with waterpools so still they look like glass, and past abstract sculptures glimpsed through oversized doorways, all the time disorientating you and putting a mental block between you and the outside world. Built by Lek Bunnag, the space includes 170 trees, which became part of the spa, rather than cutting them down. A trip here really uncovers a space outside of modern life, designed round the four elements of water, earth, air and fire, treatments are created individually depending on the outcome desired. The treatment rooms evoke a sense of lying inside a mini pyramid of calm, where open windows look onto secret courtyards and the roof tapers up into a point high, high above your head.

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Treatment rooms at The Barai, Hua Hin

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One of the Grand Palace's guardians; the temple of the Emerald Buddha; a minituare Angkor Wat

The pathway from The Barai ends at McFarland House, a colonial style house built in the 1920s with a 180 degree of the coastline. Owned by American Reverend McFarland who found favour with King Rama V, by publishing the first Thai-English dictionary, the house has been restored as a luxury cocktail lounge and restaurant, serving Thai tapas style dishes. For those that really want to indulge, The Barai also has residential suites which include a daily treatment, your own infinity pool and hydrotherapy bath, a 3.2 metre wide bed and private butler service (rates start at around Dhs2,562 for two for two nights). The Thai royal family’s version of Kate Middleton, the next Queen, Princess Soamsavali Kitiyakara is a regular client (and was in residence when we visited). +66 3252 1234; thebarai.com BANGKOK Thailand’s capital is a heaving, bustling overload to the senses. Streets double up as markets and restaurants, as the Sky Train rattles efficiently over head. The ‘city of angels’ was established in the 15th century but didn’t become Thailand’s capital until 1782, by the much revered King Rama I. Bangkok has a reputation for seedy nightlife in the areas around Pat Pong and the backpacker den of Khaosan Road, but it also has stunning palaces and plenty of culture.

A mini version of Angkor Wat stands out thanks to its complete absence of colour. Cambodia used to be part of Siam (Thailand, as it was then) and the synergy between the two countries is easy to see. The Emerald Buddha (it’s actually made of jade) was discovered in 1434 in Chiang Rai and was at first thought to be made of emerald. The statue changes his clothing with the seasons (in Thailand there are only considered to be three seasons: summer, winter and rainy) and the King presides over each change. To go inside the temple housing the Buddha, visitors must enter barefoot and sit with their feet pointing away from the statue (to point them towards him is grossly disrespectful). Incense has been banned from inside for being too smoky but the sense of quiet reverence remains as Thai people kneel to pray, and orange garbed monks can be seen at the front. The walls are covered with frescos, telling the story of Buddha himself. Tickets cost Dhs47 each and guides can be arranged for an extra fee. Open from 9.30am-3.15pm every day. Na Phra Lan Road, Old City; +66 2628 6300; grandpalacebangkok.com

MARKETS Bangkok is full of markets, with daytime, weekend and night versions, but a new more up-market destination called Asiatique, has taken off. Developers have converted old warehouses at the East Asiatic pier down on the docks of the Chao Phraya River, into a THE GRAND PALACE modern, clean, permanent area full of Gold-tiled structures curve and flow in pedestrianised streets lined with small between the various beautifully coloured stores selling arts and crafts, jewellery, mosaic temples in the Grand Palace handmade furniture and everything in complex, which was built in 1782. It covers royal residences, throne rooms, government between. Rather than fake designer tat, most places sell handmade T-shirts or collections offices and the Temple of the Emerald from up and coming designers, eco-friendly Buddha. Constructed for King Rama I, the toys and so on. Restaurants, fast food places complex is always busy, so it’s best to head and even a couple of bars down on the dock here as early as you can. Work your way round clockwise from the entrance to take in front complete the vast venture. It is open from 5pm-midnight and can be found on the the various temples, monuments and spirit statues that represent important Thai beliefs. Charoenkrung Road. thaiasiatique.com 62

If Asiatique sounds too sanitary for your nostrils, Bangkok’s famous Chatuchuk weekend market is the polar opposite. Sprawling across a vast network of streets, warehouses, squares and more, this is less a market and more an all day excursion to a frantic, packed like sardines, different time zone. Dive down tiny under-cover alleys full of wholesale silver bangles, lose yourself amongst the piles of rugs and emerge blinking into another street full of ramshackle eateries, with old women deep frying all manner of things under sunbleached umbrellas. From experience, the area is so bewildering it’s best to give yourself over to it, trying to retrace your steps is nigh on impossible. Once you’ve had enough, aim for the nearest main road and hail a cab. Open from 9am-7pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Kampangpetch 3 Road, Lard Yao, Chatuchak. I.SAWAN SPA Bangkok isn’t short of spas, but in a city where a ‘massage’ can mean so much more, it’s handy to know there are urban oases in the concrete jungle where you can pamper yourself without worrying. I.sawan at the Grand Hyatt Bangkok takes over the 7,000 square metre fifth floor (the name means the fifth level of heaven) and encompasses a large outdoor pool and Jacuzzi in a garden setting as well as six private spa ‘cottages’ which can be booked for treatments or stays. The latter option is very popular with A-listers who pass through. Each cottage comes equipped with a vast bathroom, a private terrace and its own treatment room, with space for two. The spa has a huge male clientele who come not only for the five star therapies such as the oxygen facial line ‘Intraceuticals’ favoured by Justin Timberlake but also the nail and hair salon, male grooming is big business in Bangkok. Grand Hyatt Bangkok, 494 Rajdamri Road, Bangkok 10330; +66 2254 1234; bangkok. grand.hyatt.com

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Thailand Thailand is rich in restaurants, hotels and diversions but plan out your cultural escape with our handy suggestions for both busy Bangkok and Hua Hin below

Some of the local ingredients used to make poultices

FOR EVERYTHING LUXURY...

ESSENTIALS Getting there

Singapore Airlines fly to Bangkok via Singapore. If you're transitting check out the free cinema and roof gardens. singaporeair.com

Getting around There’s an hourly shuttle bus between Bangkok and Hua Hin that costs Dhs72 per person (Sai Tai Mai Bus Terminal, Pinklao) or take the train (Hua Lum Pong Railway Station). All transport options are covered in the useful website bangkokhuahin.com.

Further reading

Bangkok

Hua Hin

Grand Hyatt Bangkok is being renovated, stay on a lower floor to get a new room. Dhs776 per night; 494 Rajdamri Road; +66 2 254 1234; bangkok. grand.hyatt.com.  

Like the sound of The Barai? Stay at Hyatt Hua Hin, either in the main family-focused hotel complete with interconnected swimming pools and a water slide, or the Regency Club section which is a more luxurious and quiet experience. Dhs719 per night; 91 Hua Hin-Khao Takiap Road, Hua Hin; +66 3252 1233; huahin.regency.hyatt.com.

Eat

EatMe in Silom fuses Thai classics with modern Western cuisine. Its hidden away location down a residential side street means it feels like a real discovery. The sleek three level restaurant and bar has an al-fresco terrace and dishes up divine cocktails. Off Convent Street, Silom; +66 22380931 eatmerestaurant.com.

McFarland House offers modern Thai served tapas style. 91 Hua Hin Khao Takiap Road; +66 3252 1233; huahin. regency.hyatt.com.

See

Take a trip on the Grand Pearl Cruise and see Bangkok from the water. Starting at River City Pier, you’ll pass Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, whilst enjoying a lavish Thai buffet and drinks whilst there's a live band aboard. Dhs174 per person; River City Pier; bangkok.com/dinner--shows-tours/grandpearl.

Take in the green rolling vistas from a golf fairway or two. The area surrounding Hua Hin is dotted with golf courses, including Banyan Golf Club (from the Banyan Tree hotel brand), which is an 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Thailand’s leading golf course architect, Pirapon Namatra.

Do

Hit Ratchaprasong, a central area that could show even Dubai a thing or two about shopping. Download the Ratchaprasong app from heartofbangkok.com.

Take a class at Hyatt Hua Hin in Thai cooking or learning how to make a traditional poultice used in spa treatments. At Talay Thai the chefs will take you into the kitchen and let you loose on dishes such as tom yum soup, pad Thai and traditional desserts. 91 Hua Hin-Khao Takiap Road, Hua Hin; +66 3252 1233; huahin. regency.hyatt.com.

Stay

The 14th edition of Lonely Planet’s Thailand guidebook is available now.

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Abu Dhabi adventures Been there, done that, with camping? That’s not all the capital’s emirate can offer outside of the city. Abu Dhabi is home to a whole host of activities beyond the Corniche and developing islands. It’s a challenging playground, if you know where to look WORDS GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL

A biking trail at Desert Islands by Anantara, Sir Bani Yas island

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Kayaking on the magrove lagoon, Sir Bani Yas island

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’M STANDING ON THE CREST OF A DESERT WAVE. It’s a sandy crest but the peak is so sharp that it looks like it’s been Photoshopped. The ridges all around me have been perfectly outlined by the gentle winds, so that each grain of sand is almost visible. Completely flat slopes drop away at sharp angles, and I look down. It’s a sharp drop but I’m willing. The board I’m on shuffles forward, like a snowboarder nervously trying their first run, and I’m off, down the sandy slope, except surfing sand isn’t like surfing sea or snow…it’s slow and funny and it doesn’t hurt when two seconds later I inevitably fall over. I’m trying out desert activities with new overnight experience Arabian Nights, where there’s not a tent in sight and you can actually explore pristine desert without having to risk getting your own 4x4 stuck or join a tacky, tourist day trip. To get to the sand-boarding spot, I’ve been driven around two hours from Dubai, and once off the main road, the landscape is so still it’s like being in a 2D painting, but one that has been reduced to only blues and yellows. As far as my eyes can see, there is only sand and sky, with cartoonishly strong colour tones and my sense of perspective starts to warp and drift. No wonder people

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go mad crossing deserts, they are beautiful to look at yet deadly to interact with. Our 4x4 rumbles off the road and away across the rising sand dunes seemingly on a whim. We accelerate up over a hill and there before us are rolling waves of sand, it’s as if a choppy sea froze one morning and crystallised itself. That sea is now our road. Dune bashing is one of the most popular desert activities and it’s a cross between a natural rollercoaster ride and a contest of wills as the driver coaxes the sturdy Land Cruiser across and up the enormous peaks that crumble and shift under our weight. Like a skateboarder doing a series of half pipes, the car revs up the slopes, teeters and tips for a moment before cannoning down the other side. Arabian Nights is miles and miles into the desert. It’s so far from civilization that I haven’t the faintest idea which direction fellow humanity is even in. As we lurch over the final series of 20 and 30 foot dunes, I wonder if our guide has the foggiest clue where he’s going, (our patch of desert looks much like every other patch, in every direction), thankfully a series of barasti style huts appear like a fabled mirage. Two small forts guard an entrance way that suddenly springs to life with butlers and greeters in ornate Bedouin dress. After my sandy excursions on sand

boards and bashing across the picture perfect dunes, the camp is a much needed chance to cool off and chill out. But ‘camp’ hardly does it justice. The set up has three levels of housing, from basic rooms to ensuite villas, all with proper beds and A/C. For those that don’t want to continue the desert based pursuits of camel trekking and quad biking, there’s a beautiful pool, where gazing out upon the rising hills all around, gives a sense of timelessness and peace. There is absolute silence. The entire world beyond the nearest dune pales into insignificance as I take in what an extraordinary outpost this is. To be completely surrounded by one of the harshest environments on the planet, and yet be able to view it from complete luxury, it’s a refreshing and humbling experience. But it’s not just about playing in the desert that’s on offer in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. There’s plenty of fun off the mainland too. Sir Bani Yas, formerly Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s private animal sanctuary sits 9kms from Jebel Dhanna port in the southern part of the emirate, not far from the Saudi border. (It’s a four drive from the capital or a 20 minute flight.) The island is now a wildlife conservation park come adventure playground for anyone who’s fond of the great outdoors thanks to Desert Islands by Anantara, a hotel complex that

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Arabian Nights' swimming pool; giraffes at Desert Islands; cheetahs at Desert Islands; dune bashing at Arabian Nights; the Arabian Nights camp

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Going for an island trek at Desert Islands

evokes the African savannah as much as it does elements of Jurassic Park (thankfully the most dangerous thing you’ll be sharing the island with is a rather lazy cheetah). I’m not used to getting up at 5.30am every day but it’s worth it for your short time here. I clamber aboard an Arabian horse half asleep, as the hazy grey dawn stars to break across the park; horse riding is one of the best ways to see the sunrise. Beginner riders are lead on a rein and have a chance to do some walking, whilst experienced riders can go on a proper hack. The slow clip clop pace of the horse allowed me to glimpse a smaller but more detailed slice of life upon the island, than I’d got the previous day from a dawn safari in an open topped Jeep. Gazelles darted away from the vibrations of the horses’ hooves on the sand, peacocks picked up their strutty pace, staring as we rode by and rock hyraxes darted across the ground like fluffy hedgehogs, reappearing in the bushes and on walls to watch us like a small, four legged version of an Ewok. Later that day, I moved onto to kayaking. Having last kayaked in a small cold boating lake by the chilling North Sea as a child, freezing my hands with the icy water that ran down the paddle, I was a little apprehensive that kayaking would be a lot of work for little reward. Quite the opposite. You want to get close to nature, to be able to sit back adrift on a lagoon as still as a mirror and just revel in the fact you’re outside,

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NEED MORE ADRENALINE?

Make a splash Yas Waterworld will open at the start of 2013 and looks to be one of the UAE’s biggest and best water parks. yaswaterworld.com

Go faster Ferrari World on Yas Island is home to the fastest rollercoaster in the world. ferrariworldabudhabi.com

Start your engines Race an Aston Martin GT4 round the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Yas Marina circuit. yasmarinacircuit.com

away from skyscrapers, from six lane highways, from people and watch nature’s cycles as birds fish, fish swim and plants just wave in the slight breeze? Then kayaking’s for you. Green bushy mangroves drifted by, the slowly setting sun shimmered on the extremely low level water, a heron took no notice as we quietly glided by only metres from his patch and small silver fish darted beneath the bottom of the kayak. The hotel has created a large protected lagoon on the south side of the island, where you can take to the water in a single or double kayak,

possibly the most peaceful adventure sport I’ve found yet. Although it takes a lot of effort from your arms (and timing with your partner if in a double), the rewards are absolutely worth it. But exploring the island isn’t all slow paced. The hotel has made 9kms or 18kms mountain bike paths that will take you off road, up the scrubby, rocky hillsides of the northern tip of the island. Six of us set out to do the former circuit, I was pleasantly surprised I could remember how to ride a bike. While you need some level of fitness to do this, there are plenty of breaks, so the guide can talk to you about the flora and fauna and geography of the island. Pedalling back to the resort on a finally flat bit of road, I could take in and appreciate so much more of what I was seeing, coasting along only yards from where we spotted ostriches, gazelles and oryx in the safari drive. The hotel also offers archery, snorkelling and hikes and will soon have a full range of non motorised watersports and PADI accreditation. You won’t be short of activities to do here. Arabian Nights costs Dhs850 for an overnight stay per person, including breakfast, dinner, a pick up and the activities. arabiannights.ae. Desert Islands by Anantara costs Dhs1,360 a night for two including breakfast and one activity. desertislands. anantara.com

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THAILAND

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Abu Dhabi Outside of the capital city, there's plenty to discover in Abu Dhabi, from the desert to the islands. A world of activities awaits you, get stuck in!

ESSENTIALS

The Arabian Nights fort entrance

8 CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN ABU DHABI

Getting there

Arabian Nights offer a pick up service from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The camp is around two hours from Dubai, towards Al Ain. Arabiannights.ae. Desert Islands by Anantara is accessible by ferry at Jebel Dhanna port, around three hours past Abu Dhabi on the E11 or by plane from the capital through Rotana Jet. Dhs250; rotanajet.ae

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Visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’s library. It is home to more than 50,000 rare books and manuscripts. The books cover both the sciences and arts and is open every day except Friday. (+971 2 4416444; szgmc.ae).

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Getting around Both locations will provide transport once you get there. Arabian Nights is not accessible unless in a 4x4 and Desert Islands have bikes and 4x4s to traverse Sir Bani Yas island. You can also pick up walking and running maps for those who want to pound the island on foot.

Further reading

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The 7th edition (2012) Lonely Planet Dubai and Abu Dhabi guide is available to buy for Dhs87 from lonelyplanet.com. Or you can download the Abu Dhabi chapter for only Dhs18.

Climate The climate in and around Abu Dhabi is pretty similar to that found all over the UAE. The best months to spend adventuring outside are January-March and October-December, when it's not as hot as the sweltering summer months.

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Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital nurses these magnificent birds of prey back to life. It is the world's largest such hospital and it also has a releasing programme underway. (+971 2 575 5155; adfh.ae).

Visit the Zayed Centre, a small but interesting museum dedicated to the UAE's founder HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan. (Off Banouna St, next to InterContinental Hotel; +971 2 665 9555).

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Check out local Arabian handicrafts at Sougha in the Central Market shopping centre.

The Saluki Centre celebrates the humble Saluki, a type of desert dog bred locally for hunting. (Behind Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital; +971 2 575 5330; visitabudhabi.ae/en/ what.to.see/culture.and. heritage.aspx).

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Miraj Islamic Centre features exhibits of Arabic jewellery, Islamic art, carpets and silks. Stop for a traditional coffee at the rooftop café. (Villa 14B, Marina Office Park Area, behind Marina Mall; mirajislamicartcentre.com).

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Heritage Village has recreated a traditional oasis village where you can buy locally made products and learn about the old Arabian way of life. (Marina Mall Breakwater; +971 2 681 4455).

Don’t miss Gourmet Abu Dhabi, the annual fine dining food extravaganza that features banquets, fine dining masterclasses and awards. (5-20 February 2013; gourmetabudhabi.ae.)

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Traveller Armchair

Can’t get away? Check out the latest websites, apps and books to keep you exploring PICTURE OF THE MONTH THE GREAT BARRIER REEF: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD’S GREATEST NATURAL WONDER Len Zell (Dhs146; Murdoch Books; Dhs35 ebook through the iBookstore) Schools of brightly coloured fish crowd the edge of a coral reef to form a ‘wall of mouths’ ready to snap up any unwitting prey that passes. More than 1,500 species of fish inhabit the Great Barrier Reef, the only natural structure that is visible from space, which extends along Australia’s northeastern coast. Discover some of those species in this beautiful coffee table book.

BOOK OF THE MONTH

PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR: AN ADVENTURE Artemis Cooper (Dhs146; John Murray) Travel writer, war hero, scholar, raconteur: London-born Sir ‘Paddy’ Fermor notched up a list of exploits during his long life that sound not unlike a Boy’s Own-style work of fiction. Yet incredibly, they’re all true, and recounted in glorious detail in this account of the life of one of Britain’s greatest 20th-century essayists, adventurers and general bons vivants. Through interviews with close friends and family, national newspaper archives and Fermor’s own published work, Artemis Cooper has done a fine job of documenting his travels. We start with him leaving England aged just 18 to walk

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The cats appeared out of nowhere: wild, half-starved Greek cats with huge ears, wary eyes, pointed jaws and flanks… that looked pressed flat

MORE BOOK REVIEWS

PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR

THE WORST JOURNEY IN THE WORLD Apsley Cherry-Garrard (Dhs263; The Folio Society)

KOREA: THE IMPOSSIBLE COUNTRY Daniel Tudor (Dhs84; Tuttle Publishing)

the length of Europe from Holland to Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey) and continue through to his military service, as a Special Operations Executive serving in Crete during WWII. Also of note is the release of his first book in 1950, The Traveller’s Tree, covering his post-war adventures in the then-little-visited Caribbean. BEST FOR A fascinating reminder of a time when Britain produced ‘reckless sophisticates’ who went gallivanting around the globe in search of adventure. Shamefully they really don’t make ’em like this any more.

One of the youngest members of Robert Scott’s 1910–12 Terra Nova expedition, Apsley Cherry-Garrard was not among the tragic five who perished on the trek back from the South Pole, and his account of the journey is now re-released as a handsome, photo-illustrated hardback. In it he describes the full terrors of an Antarctic winter: 24-hour darkness and temperatures that fell to -77˚C. Despite moments of levity brought by encounters with Adélie penguins, the title of the book leaves no room for ambiguity. BEST FOR An inspiring account of human survival in climatic extreme.

More than any other Asian country Korea has developed rapidly from an agricultural Communist nation into a modern, high-tech, democratic powerhouse. In just 50 years, it has transformed itself despite the dilemma to its north. Korean resident and long time journalist on Korea, Daniel Tudor looks at the country’s culture, the national character and the political and domestic spheres to uncover what make Korea unique. BEST FOR An intelligent, comprehensive and engaging read for anyone who has an interest in visiting.

JASON RILEY

RORY GOULDING

GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL

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A R M C H A I R T R AV E L L E R APP REVIEW

GADGET REVIEWS

Canon Ixus 125

Tripit

For a snap and shoot camera that you can slip into your pocket, the Canon Ixus 125 is perfect for those looking to pack a lightweight rather than semi-professional camera into your luggage. Despite its small size though, the camera captures up to 16MB images, has a 5x optical zoom lens and can record video in HD and stereo sound. The three inch LED screen means it’s easy to see what you’re shooting and there’s hardly any lag, perfect if you’re trying to take shots in a quick succession. The Smart Auto mode can detect 58 different scenarios but the menu isn’t the most instinctive out there. Available in six colours including pink, blue and green. canon.com

Nokia Lumia 920 Nokia are calling the Lumia 920 the most innovative smartphone in the world. It is a brave comeback from the company that 10 years ago was the most popular handset provider. Powered by Windows 8, the appeal of the Lumia 920 lies in its clever camera which takes in five times more light for better evening shots, uses SmartShot to erase people out of otherwise perfect photos, negates any shaky handycam work and also hosts CityLens, augmented reality software that brings the world to life with invaluable information for when you’re in a new city or country. Wireless charging and a much longer battery life, mean for travellers who want to stay engaged with social networks, the Lumia could just be your new must-have. nokia.com/lumia920

Samsung Galaxy S III

Aukward You’re off on a big adventure but how are you going to look after that snazzy new iPad you’ve got to keep track of everything you’ve seen and done? Aukward is a new British brand which uses leather hide or hand-blocked fabrics which are then bound by a third generation book binder. Everything from the birch wood frame to the paper packaging is sourced and made in the UK and the cases have been through rigorous testing. If you want to show off your technical know-how in serious style, then look to Aukward. aukward.com

This is the phone the iPhone should be. Smart, intuitive, playful and practical, the large HD screen hides a multitude of clever approaches to multi-media. The voice activated commands and music player, the ability to edit documents and built in speakers are all useful for when you’re on the move and importantly if you’re off on an adventure it’s lightweight and the battery life far exceeds its rivals. Apparently ‘designed for humans’ the phone won’t go into sleep mode when you’re looking at it, and when you pick it up it will tell you what calls, messages or emails you’ve missed, which makes it feel incredible functional for such a sleek machine. It has an 8MB camera, 4.8 inch display and 32MB of memory (plus an additional 64GB through a microSD slot). samsung.com

Long gone are the days of multiple paper tickets and forms for your holiday, but that doesn’t mean accessing and keeping track of booking references, flight times and transfers is easy, especially when on the move. Everyone’s checked into a hotel late at night and forgotten the booking number or mislaid flight times. TripIt amalgamates all this kind of information into one handy itinerary that is available on your phone, tablet or laptop. Once it has all this information it can send you maps and directions to hotels you’ve booked or train stations you need to find, it can alert you to gate changes for your flight and generally keep you moving (hopefully in the right direction). On sign up it will link to your primary mail account, once you’ve done this it will scan that account daily for any sign of travel plans such as flight details and booking references. You can also send this info to an email to get a day by day travel plan. It will also share these details with anyone you’re travelling with, or anyone who needs to meet you the other end. Upgrade to Tripit Pro which acts like a personal assistant, alerting your phone of any flight cancellations, delays and so on. Free. Available for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.

ONE MORE TO TRY TripCase A similar app is TripCase, and pretty much does exactly the same thing. You can also share plans through social networks, look at plane seat plans, check descriptions of the hotels you’ve booked and also access car rental information for your destinations. Free. Available on iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.

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A R M C H A I R T R AV E L L E R

ONLINE EXHIBITION REVIEW ARCTIC: A FRIEND ACTING STRANGELY Curated by the American Smithsonian museum, this exhibition brings to life the sudden changes in the Arctic’s weather patterns and how this affects not just the animals but the people who live within the Arctic Circle. These dramatic changes are being documented by both scientists and local residents as they try to predict the future. The exhibition is split into handy sub-sections that look at the local environment, the animals in danger and the people of this frontier area. It also contains a documentary and interviews with weather experts and eyewitness accounts to some of the area’s more freakish weather patterns. forces.si.edu/arctic/

ONLINE REVIEWS

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HIDDENPOUSADASBRAZIL.COM

ARTSHOLLAND.COM

HOUSETRIP.COM

HEDONISTICHIKING.COM

Get off the beaten track in Brazil in the best way possible. A ‘pousada’ translates as literally a place to stay, Hidden Pousadas Brazil has tracked down the most wonderful eco-lodges, B&Bs and boutique hotels, from the simple life to something luxurious, all over this fantastic country. Pousadas are all independent and usually family run, so if you want a refreshing dose of non-chain nights sleep, you’ll be spoilt for choice between tree house eco-lodges, old colonial houses and designer infinity pools. For those that are in the country for longer, pousadas are a great source of local information, tips and hints as you get to meet the area’s residents.

The Netherlands has a reputation for entertaining ground-breaking arts and culture exhibitions and events. This stylish website rounds up everything going on in the country from frantic dance festivals to sleek architectural exhibitions, upcoming fashion designers to new wave film festivals. The site’s super easy to use, and can be organised by museum or art gallery. Plan your trip easily with inbuilt Google maps and a daily diary of events. Get tips from Dutch insiders such as well renowned theatre directors. You’ll be inspired to plan a visit immediately. Other countries’ tourist boards could do well to take note!

A little like an upmarket airbnb, Housetrip offers home rentals in a huge number of cities and holiday destinations around the world. If you’re travelling with friends or family, renting an apartment or house can work out far cheaper than putting everyone up in hotel suites, plus you’ve more room and access to everything you need to be self catered. The site is stronger in Europe and America than Asia but it has over 140,000 rentals worldwide. Choose between one room or a whole property, child or pet friendly, and it has swimming pool and garden filters. An entire house, that sleeps thirteen with its own pool in Marrakech would cost Dhs1,000 a night.

Run by a couple who split their time between Australia and Tuscany, Hedonistichiking offers walking holidays with a difference. Rambles are interspersed with visits to vineyards, cooking classes, enjoying fine food in boutique hotels. With names like the King Valley Prosecco Road Walk, we’re pretty sure that the serious walking takes a back foot to enjoying yourselves. Walking holidays provide a guilt-free eco-option and although they’ve previously had a bad rep as the domain of the eternally single wandering type, Hedonistichiking, we would imagine, is about enjoying the company of people who love food, wine and walking. In that order.

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JANUARY 2013

MINI GUIDES Six themed guides to take on the perfect short break

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2012 Traveller August

TRANSPORT

Somerset essentials

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withered apple. wells.co.uk; Sadler St; from £124). Norbins Rd, from £55). region of Exmoor. (apple-glastonbury.co.uk; 25 ‘Scrump’ means a and quilted fabrics (swanhotel in the Badgworthy Water 25 cider producers. furnishings, heritage wallpaper breakfast on sunny mornings fictional romantic tale based alone has more than styled and feature antique orchard where you can take of 1869, Lorna Doone, is a Country – Somerset 48 bedrooms are individually rooms and there’s a small apple Doddridge Blackmore’s novel made in the West the shadow of the cathedral. The Abstract artwork features in the visitsomerset.co.uk. Richard A strong, cloudy cider former coaching inn in Wells, in had a contemporary refit. information on Somerset, try Scrumpy cider Swan Hotel is a 15th-century Glastonbury, which has recently lonelyplanet.com. For tourist brick Victorian townhouse in Green, Bath; from £90). West England. chapter (£2.99) from Apple is a traditional redmust be produced in South (threeabbeygreen.com; 3 Abbey Bristol, Bath & Somerset WHERE TO STAY a stylish en-suite bathroom Country Farmhouse Cheddar can also download the traditional sofa or armchairs and worldwide, though West and surrounding areas – you now produced and eaten subtle décor and each has a £2.70; firstgroup.com). best overview of the region its seven spacious rooms have Cheddar, this hard cheese is Devon and Cornwall (day tickets England (£12.99) offers the Green has retained period style – Originating in the village of region and neighbouring Bristol, Cornwall & Southwest Cheddar cheese Grade II-listed Three Abbey group operate throughout the Lonely Planet’s Devon, dried fruit and peel. Regular bus services from the First FURTHER READING bottom, and usually filled with crosscountrytrains.co.uk). look out over Wells Cathedral lump of sugar baked into the Bristol (Manchester from £90; Some rooms at the Swan Hotel A small, sweet bun with a services connect to Bath via from £200 per person). Bath bun uk). For the rest of the country, included (foottrails.co.uk; sweet or savoury toppings. from £30; firstgreatwestern.co. and a two-night stay Waterloo in London (Paddington France. It’s served toasted with for a pint of ale, with food Cardiff, and Paddington and Bath is said to have come from farms and, naturally,a pub bun (it’s bread not a cake) from rail services can be taken from takes in orchards, cider from the north. For Bath, direct The recipe for this 17th-century Trails. This organised walk Sally Lunn cake southern England and the M5 Foodie Trail, run by Foot reached via the M4 from this region on the culinary map: Hit the Vintage Cider & By road, Somerset can be The food and drink that put TOP TIP

library WHERE lounge, plus a Victorian and Coffee is a breakfast room East Village Bed that doubles as offbeat, from £170). a family home turned rooms and (innon23rd.com; of Hôtel Sleeping in one arty b&b with themedas free cycle polished such Americano’s perfectly your great amenities, floor has laying rooms is a bit like hire and wi-fi. Each and kitchen box, but with head in a bento shared common rather than free to come minimalist furniture space, with guests from food. It offers everything and go as they please from £90). Japanese Turkish towels to (bedandcoffee.com; set in a with controls Inn on 23rd Street, washing cloths, iPads. You in Chelsea, activated via personal Chelsea five-story townhouse big, with can explore surrounding is a 14-room b&b (hotelfancy fabrics on a free guest bike £215). welcoming rooms, from huge armoires. americano.com; and TVs held in bar and a There’s an honesty

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TRANSPORT New York’s JFK Direct flights to leave from and Newark airports Glasgow Heathrow, Manchester, include Carriers and Birmingham. and Virgin BA, United, Delta £480; Atlantic (from around York in New delta.com). Once to use City itself, it’s easiest subway – the public transport simple to use system is relatively seven-day passes (singles £1.50, £19; mta.info).

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Art replaces commuters at the Hamburger Bahnhof

MINI GUIDE

ART IN BERLIN Like New York and London in the Seventies and Eighties, Berlin’s cheap rents and anything-goes ethos have made it a hub for international artists, creating a city of restless energy and optimism.

East and North MAUERPARK

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The Berlin Wall used to run right through this park, now a focus for street art. Graffiti artists are given free rein on a 300m stretch of wall that remains. Their work is ever changing, sometimes politically minded, but always thrillingly cutting-edge. The park is also home to flea markets and barbecues (btw Bernauer Strasse, Schwedter Strasse & Gleimstrasse; admission free).

The Akademie is one of the city’s oldest cultural institutions, founded in 1696 as the Prussian Academy of Arts. Come here for readings, workshops and exhibits: recent showcases have focused on German abstract photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke and Berlin political art activist John Heartfield (adk.de; Pariser Platz 4; some exhibitions free).

SAMMLUNG BOROS This former Nazi bunker has been transformed into a beacon of contemporary art by advertising guru Christian Boros. Its maze of concrete and stark white walls makes for the perfect backdrop for the works of artists, such as Olafur Eliasson, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Wolfgang Tillmans. Booking online for its 90-minute tours is essential (sammlung-boros.de; Reinhardtstrasse 20; admission Dhs47; tours Fri–Sun).

Untitled, by Heinz Hajek-Halke at the Akademie der Künste

HAMBURGER BAHNHOF This converted 19th-century train station is an eye-catching museum space for art from 1960 onwards. On display you’ll find career-spanning bodies of work from US Pop Art pioneers Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, and Germany’s multi-talented 1970s figures Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys (hamburgerbahnhof.de; Invalidenstrasse 50–51; admission Dhs55; closed Mon).

West and South

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An object of fear turned into a creative space at Mauerpark

KW INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART

GALERIE KURT IM HIRSCH

A converted margarine factory now home to the Berlin Biennale, this institution is a lab for current developments in art, with recent exhibitions featuring the work of Martin Neumaier, Nina Rhode, Helen Mirra, Sean Snyder and Ayzit Bostan (kw-berlin.de; Auguststrasse 69; closed Mon; admission Dhs28). While you’re there, check out Me Collectors Room at Auguststrasse 68 – one of the newest kids on Berlin’s art block (me-berlin.com).

Founded a decade after the fall of the Wall in 1989 and based in an underground apartment since 2002, this is one of Berlin’s few not-for-profit gallery spaces. Regularly updated exhibitions feature the work of local artists as well as international big hitters. Lately the gallery has exhibited sculptural installations by Istanbul’s Haluk Atalayman (kurt-im-hirsch.de – in German only; Kastanienallee 12; open Fri– Sun; admission free).

This stark, whitewashed hall, in a converted glass warehouse around the corner from the Jewish Museum, is a superb spot to take stock of the local scene from 1870 to the present day, including artists of the Weimar period such as Otto Dix and George Grosz (berlinischegalerie.de; Alte Jakobstrasse 124–128; admission Dhs35; closed Tue).

GEMÄLDEGALERIE Part of the enormous cultural complex of the Kulturforum, the custom-built Gemäldegalerie reunites about 1,500 works spanning European art history from the 13th to the 18th centuries, after half a century of Cold War separation. Look out for masterpieces by the likes of Rembrandt, Dürer, Hals, Holbein and Vermeer (smb.museum; Matthäikirchplatz; admission Dhs35; closed Mon).

A Pop Art-style Gandhi, among works at the ATM Gallery

ATM GALLERY This space showcases art works in city environments – street art taken from the street to the gallery, essentially. Exhibitions of international urban art and Berlin-based collectives are changed monthly – recent ones include Various & Gould’s Dadaist, painterly murals and Emess’s neon Pop Art-inspired portraits of selected dignitaries (atmberlin.de; Eylauerstrasse 13; admission free by appointment).

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS

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MINI GUIDE Art in Berlin

Sights & Activities

The know-how

TRANSPORT Berlin Tegel airport is the main international hub, while low-cost airlines mostly use the smaller Schönefeld airport. Both are expected to close in October 2013 with the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg airport. Berlin is served from Dubai, via Munich, by Lufthansa (from Dhs3,250; lufthansa.com). The JetExpressBus TXL takes 28–40 minutes to reach the centre from Tegel (singles Dhs11; bvg.de). From Schönefeld, AirportExpress trains call at several central locations – it takes 21 minutes to reach Alexanderplatz (from Dhs14; berlin-airport.de).

WHERE TO STAY The friendly East Seven Hostel in Prenzlauer Berg has brightly coloured private rooms with comfy pine-wood beds, and a great outdoor barbecue space in a pretty back garden (Schwedterstrasse 7; private rooms from Dhs204; eastseven.de).

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ART ATTACK Berlin’s not short of standout art pieces – but here are some of its lesser known works by famous artists: The Adlon has been synonymous with prestige for more than a century

If you fancy sleeping with an original work of art, check into Scheunenviertel’s Mitart Hotel & Café, whose rooms are decorated with changing canvasses from up-and-coming Berlin artists (from Dhs525; Linienstrasse 139–140; mitart.de). The Adlon Kempinski has been Berlin’s defender of grand tradition since 1907. Its striking lobby is merely a taster for the full splendour of its guestrooms and suites and five gourmet restaurants (from Dhs1,400; Unter den Linden 77; kempinski.com).

Mao Andy Warhol’s 1973 Pop Art portrait of the Chinese leader, in the Hamburger Bahnhof.

The Sacrifice of Isaac An Old Master by Caravaggio, painted in 1603–1604 and on display in the Gemäldegalerie.

The Void Row upon row of medicinal pills, by Damien Hirst, now at the Hamburger Bahnhof.

Susanna and the Elders A 1647 painting by the Dutch artist Rembrandt, also found in the Gemäldegalerie.

Mask A 1987 piece in the Hamburger Bahnhof by the New York street culture artist Keith Haring.

Find out more about Berlin’s street art and graffiti culture on a guided tour. Alternative Berlin’s tours look at the work of 50 local and international artists, giving a unique insight into their varied motivations (tours Dhs70; alternativeberlin.com).

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Berlin City Guide (Dhs82) is a comprehensive guide to the city and its culture, while Pocket Berlin (Dhs47) is ideally suited to shorter trips. For more information, see visitberlin.de, and for insights into the city’s arts, fashion and clubbing scenes, try the Bang Bang Berlin blog (bangbangberlin.com). Lou Reed’s Berlin album of 1973 is a grandiose and decadent rock opera (Dhs22; Sony Music BMG).

COMPILED BY JASON RILEY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ANDREA SCHULTEPEEVERS. PHOTOGRAPHS: CARO/ALAMY, HEMIS/ ALAMYSAMMLUNG MICHAEL RUETZ/NACHLASS HEINZ HAJEKHALKE, TRAVELSTOCK44/ALAMY, WOLFRAM STEINBERG

Berlin essentials

Where to stay

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Southwest LAC SOUTERRAIN DE ST-LÉONARD

The Aletsch Glacier in the canton of Valais is the longest in the Alps

MINI GUIDE

ACTIVITIES IN SWITZERLAND Known as a summer and winter sports paradise of pines, peaks and glimmering lakes, Switzerland offers many more ways for visitors to pit themselves against its remarkable landscape than on a ski piste.

LAKE LUCERNE

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MÜRREN While the revolving mountaintop restaurant from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is this resort’s best-known attraction, its via ferrata offers real-life action. A mile and a half of cables, bridges and ladders leads along the cliff edge that overlooks the astounding Lauterbrunnen valley. Although it’s free to use, first-timers using a via ferrata should rent equipment locally and go with a guide (guided via ferrata Dhs380; mid-Jun–Oct; klettersteig-muerren.ch).

SAAS-FEE This resort is located in a magnificent amphitheatre of 4,000-metre peaks. Take the year-round Allalin funicular up to 3,500m for a glacial panorama, or in summer, whisk yourself up to the sunny slopes of Hannig via cableway before flying back down a three-and-a-half-mile dirt track on a sturdy mountain scooter. Scooter and helmet hire is available from the station at the top of Hannig (saas-fee.ch; day scooter/helmet hire Dhs111).

Not all of Switzerland’s famous lakes are above ground

ALETSCH GLACIER At 14 miles, this swirl of deeply crevassed ice is the largest glacier in the Alps. Cable cars from the resorts of Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp offer easy viewing, but to get really close, put on some crampons and take a guided glacier walk (aletscharena.ch; tours around Dhs204. If you’ve got the guts and a head for heights, trek to the foot of the glacier, to walk across the 124m-long Aletschji-Grünsee suspension bridge.

Southeast

Centre This majestic lake twists and turns around steep mountainsides, and in its eastern reaches, the föhn (dry downslope winds) create the perfect conditions for sailing. Adventure Point arranges guided canoe and kayak tours of the lake and, for thrill-seeking sorts, canyoning excursions can also be booked (canoe tours Dhs291, canyoning from Dhs466; adventurepoint.ch).

The tiny village of St-Léonard, a few miles northeast of Sion, hides Europe’s biggest underground lake, discovered in 1943. It’s around 300 metres long and 20 metres wide, and remains at a constant 11C. To see its clear emerald waters shimmer, take a 30-minute guided boat tour (lac-souterrain.com; mid-Mar–Oct; tours Dhs38.50).

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LAI DA TUMA

The Allmendhubel funicular with Mürren in the background

HÖLLOCH CAVES Venture to the bowels of the Earth at these eerie 938-metre-deep caves in the Muotatal district. At 118 miles in length they’re the second-longest caves in Europe. You’ll need a guide, sturdy footwear and warm clothing to explore here. Trekking Team arranges everything from short tours to day expeditions deep into the mountain, and overnight bivouac tours offer a surreal experience, including a fondue feast in the inky darkness (tours from Dhs350; trekking.ch).

This moderate circular hike takes you in four or five hours from the Oberalp Pass to the dazzling blue-green lake of Lai da Tuma (Tomasee in German) – the source of the Rhine. From the pass, head south and west uphill to the top of Pazolastock. The trail continues along the ridge line and down to the lake before returning north. Check detailed maps at wanderland.ch.

SUVRETTA LOOP The area around the resort of St Moritz makes for exhilarating biking, it being crisscrossed with 200 miles or so of trails. One of the best is the five-hour Suvretta Loop starting at the summit of Corviglia, taking in forests and meadows en route to the 2,615-metre Suvretta Pass before a spectacular descent to the town of Bever. Engadin Bikes offers rentals (day hire from Dhs116.7; engadin.stmoritz.ch).

Marmots are a common sight in the Swiss National Park

SWISS NATIONAL PARK Created in 1914, this is the country’s only national park – a nature-gone-wild swathe of larch woodlands, waterfalls and high moors. You can head out on your own, but you might get more out of a guided hike with the National Park Centre. These include wildlife treks to the Val Trupchun, where you could see ibex, chamois and golden eagles (tours from Dhs105; nationalpark.ch).

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Best for religion KOUTOUBIA MINARET

Koutoubia Minaret and its gardens

MINI GUIDE

HISTORY IN MARRAKESH There’s more to Marrakesh’s colourful past than the yarns spun by the storytellers in the Djemaa el-Fna square – travel beyond the souqs to find out about this Moroccan city’s architecture, traditions and culture.

Best for the outdoors JARDIN MAJORELLE This sub-tropical garden provides a haven away from the hectic pace outside. Designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle, the villa and garden are composed and coloured like a painting, with accents of cobalt blue. Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent bought and restored the garden before gifting it back to Marrakesh (Dhs13; Ave Yacoub el-Mansour; jardinmajorelle.com).

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LA MAMOUNIA When this Moorish Art Deco hotel opened in 1923, a ‘Mamounia’ sticker became something of a must-have for well-travelled steamer trunks. In its heyday, Churchill stayed here and Hitchcock filmed here for his 1934 movie The Man Who Knew Too Much. It has recently been restored to its Art Deco glory – its gardens recall the grandeur of old Morocco, and make for a fine destination for high tea or high balls at sunset (pot of tea Dhs18; Ave Bab Jedid; mamounia.com).

The calls from Koutoubia’s muezzin rise above the din of Djemaa el-Fna, the city’s busy hub. This 12th century tower is an impressive feat of Moorish design and, at 70 metres tall, it makes a good landmark for navigating the city. The mosque is closed to non-Muslims, but you can wander its gardens (Rue el-Koutoubia; gdns 8am–8pm; admission free).

MELLAH

The gates of the Mellah, the city’s former Jewish district

SAADIAN TOMBS

The Mellah is the historic Jewish quarter of Marrakesh and is surrounded by high walls, much like the European ghettos. Only a few Jewish families remain in the narrow derbs (alleys) – most moved to Casablanca, Israel or France in the 1950s – but you can still spot the Star of David on old doors, witness cross-alley gossip through wrought-iron balconies, and visit the Lezama Synagoge, with its ancient Torah (east on Rue Riad Zitoun; admission free).

Anyone who says you can’t take it with you hasn’t seen the Saadian Tombs. Sultan Ahmed el-Mansour Eddahbi – of the Saadi dynasty who ruled Morocco from 1554 to 1659 – spared no expense on his tomb, importing Italian Carrara marble and gilding plasterwork with pure gold to make the Chamber of the 12 Pillars a suitably glorious final resting place (Rue de la Kasbah; 8.30am–11.45am, 2.30pm–5.45pm; admission Dhs5).

Best for culture

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MUSÉE DE MARRAKESH

Jardin Majorelle is a psychedelic desert of 300 plant species

AGDAL GARDENS Moroccan sultans greeted dignitaries in the Agdal Gardens for eight centuries, among its fragrant fruit orchards and olive groves. The gardens, which stretch for several miles south of the Royal Palace in the Kasbah district, still serve ceremonial purposes, so they’re only open at weekends and when the king isn’t in residence. The gardens were granted Unesco World Heritage protection in 1985 (admission free; Fri 3pm–6.30pm, Sun 12–6pm).

This beautiful museum – a former palace – showcases contemporary Moroccan art as well as Rabati embroidery, Moroccan Jewish artefacts and High Atlas carpets. There’s a courtyard café and a bookshop offering a good selection of books, maps and postcards (admission Dhs12; Place ben Youssef; museedemarrakech.ma).

MAISON DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE Art collectors Patrick Menac’h and Hamid Margani opened this riad gallery to showcase vintage Moroccan photography in its original context. Fascinating works from 1870 to 1950 include a 1907 view of the Djemaa el-Fna and a photo of Ali ben Youssef Medersa from 1920. Enjoy lunch on the panoramic terrace (admission Dhs17; 46 Rue Souq Ahel Fes; maisondelaphotographie.ma).

The interior courtyard of the 19th-century Musée de Marrakesh

DAR BELLARJ Flights of fancy come with the territory at Dar Bellarj, a stork hospital (storks are revered in Morocco) turned into Marrakesh’s premier arts centre. Each year the Dar Bellarj Foundation adopts a programme theme, recently ranging from film to women’s textiles and storytelling (admission to most events is free; Ali ben Youssef Medersa; 9am–1.30pm, 2.30pm–6pm; +212 524 444 555).

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MINI GUIDE

History in Marrakesh Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT Swiss, EgyptAir and Emirates have flights to Menara airport from Dubai (from Dhs4,520; emirates. com). From here, it’s a four-mile journey north by petit taxi (local taxi) to the Medina (Dhs29 by day, Dhs40 by night) – transfers arranged through a riad will cost more than double these prices. The Medina is mostly closed to car traffic, so the best way to get around is on foot or by bike – wearing a helmet is advised (from Dhs117 per day; mountain-bikingmorocco.com).

WHERE TO STAY Despite its location close to the Djemaa el-Fna, Limoun is wonderfully quiet. It’s also one of the tiniest riads (courtyard mansions) imaginable, with just four rooms, but it’s neat and clean with a pretty patio and a roof terrace accessible via a candlelit stairway (from Dhs193; 25 Derb Ben Amrane; darlimoun.hostel.com).

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The know-how BARGAINING BANTER A little friendly chat will bring you better prices and good feeling all round – here are some Arabic phrases to help you bargain like a local:

Moroccan craftsmanship can be seen at the beautiful Riad Kaïss

Asmeetek? What’s your name?

Esmee… My name is…

Les Borjs de la Kasbah is in the Medina, with the Royal Palace, Saadian Tombs, Agdal Gardens and Bahia Palace nearby. The hotel is kitted out in Moorish style and has a spa and outdoor pool (from Dhs467; 200 Rue Du Mechouar; lesborjsdelakasbah.com). The cool splash of fountains and the casual interplay of light, colour and shade soothe the soul at Riad Kaïss. The highlight at this eight- roomed guesthouse is the courtyard at night – all candles and deep shadows (from Dhs992; 65 Derb Jdid; riadkaiss.com).

Metsherrfin Honoured to meet you

Kulshi bikher? Everything’s good?

Labes, barakallahuafik Fine, bless you

Wakha nshufha? May I look at it?

Makein mushkil No problem

Akhir taman shhal? What’s the last price?

Zhmaha li afak Please wrap it.

Ma’asalama, sahbee With peace, my friend

TOP TIP A hammam treatment may sound decadent, but is often great value. This invigorating treatment, which involves exfoliating with a rough mitt, can cost just Dhs12 at a community hammam. Bring your own mat, flip-flops, towel and a change of pants.

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Marrakesh Encounter (Dhs47) covers the city, and Morocco (Dhs99) is a countrywide overview. You can also download the Marrakesh chapter from lonelyplanet.com (Dhs17). Check author Laila Lalami’s blog all about Moroccan and Middle Eastern art and literature (lailalalami.com/ blog). Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much portrays holidaymakers in Morocco who accidentally foil an assassination plot.

COMPILED BY JASON RILEY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ALISON BING. PHOTOGRAPHS: ALISTAIR LAMING/ AGE FOTOSTOCK, ELAN FLEISHER, KEVIN FOY/ALAMY, PAOLO GIOCOSO/SIME/4CORNERS, SHUTTERSTOCK

Marrakesh essentials

Where to stay

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Sights Skogskyrkogården This beautiful cemetery was designed by Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz in the early 20th century. It’s on the Unesco World Heritage list and is famed for its functionalist buildings, such as the Holy Cross – the largest chapel in the cemetery – and is also the resting place of Greta Garbo (skogskyrkogarden.se; Sockenvägen 492; admission free).

Design legend Josef Frank’s work dominates the collection at Svenskt Tenn

MINI GUIDE

DESIGN IN STOCKHOLM The Swedish capital is like a living gallery – the city has understated style in its very DNA. Venture beyond the IKEA phenomenon and marvel at the functional beauty and simplicity of Scandinavian craftsmanship.

BOOKBINDERS

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DESIGNTORGET If you want to take home some good Swedish design but don’t own a Gold AmEx card, head to this clued-up store, where the works of emerging designers rub stylish shoulders with more established denizens. With new items on the shelves every week, from resin rings and cutting-edge candlesticks to wall clocks and kitchen-knife sets, there’s little chance you’ll leave empty-handed (butterfly-print flower jars Dhs41; Götgatan 31; designtorget.se).

NATIONALMUSEUM Sweden’s biggest art museum holds a permanent exhibition that runs through the major movements in 20th- and 21st-century design, from Pop Art and postmodern furniture to folk themes and industrial objects. The wider collection, including 18th-century works, shows contemporary Swedish design in its historical context (nationalmuseum.se; Södra Blasieholmshamnen; closed Mon; admission from Dhs55).

Eating & drinking

Shopping Swedish design and stationery are a perfect pairing – the elevation of function by the attention paid to form has, at this cult stationery shop, some dapper results. There’s a range of handcrafted notebooks, diaries, photo albums, cards and boxes to keep your life in perfect order (notebooks from Dhs23; Hamngatan 18–20 bottenplan; bookbindersdesign.com).

FÄRGFABRIKEN Built in 1889 and originally a lawnmower factory, Färgfabriken now makes headlines thanks to its leading art exhibitions and innovative performances, which often fuse the likes of dance, theatre, music and film together in pretty experimental ways. Filmmaker David Lynch once exhibited his sculpture Eat My Fear here (fargfabriken.se; Lövholmsbrinken 1; closed Mon & Tue and Jul & Aug; admission Dhs23).

The Holy Cross Chapel at Skogskyrkogården

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RIVAL

DesignTorget showcases some of the best in new Swedish design

SVENSKT TENN This celebrated design store was once the stomping ground of Josef Frank, whose floralpatterned fabrics and Modernist furniture are now the stuff of design legend. Bag yourself some of his printed fabrics or simply go for the innovative glassware, brass horticulture pots or retro, mid-century modernstyle printed cushions from Swedish design heavyweights (Josef Frank table mats from Dhs175; Strandvägen 5; closed Sun; svenskttenn.se).

Hotel bars have become the new cool in Stockholm, and this Art-Deco-inspired number is one of its most style-aware places to drink, with bold, blocky colours, striking lighting and a slinky, circular bar. You’ll find it inside the design hotel of the same name, which is co-owned by Benny Andersson of ABBA (cocktails from Dhs70; Mariatorget 3; rival.se).

STUREHOF An empty table is as rare as a mediocre meal at this crisp, Jonas Bohlin-designed brasserie – all white tiles, frosted glass and quirky lampshades. This is the perfect place to enjoy seafood, champagne and gratuitous people-watching on the Stureplan. Afterwards, pop into Obaren, the tiny bar-withinrestaurant, for a post-meal martini (mains from Dhs82; Stureplan 2; sturehof.com).

Cod with egg, prawns, dill and horseradish at Sturehof

F12 RESTAURANT Eating at this award-winning restaurant is akin to a culinary adventure, with the likes of squid and sea-buckthorn with oyster emulsion, veal tenderloin with lobster and tarragon, and pear fudge with ginger and cardamom. The focus is as much on the décor as the dining, however – the entire interior is renovated every two years to keep it in style (tasting menus Dhs700; Rödbotorget 2; closed Sat lunch; f12.se).

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MINI GUIDE

Design in Stockholm Shopping

TRANSPORT Stockholm Arlanda airport, which is around 20 miles north of the city, can be accessed from Abu Dhabi by KLM, Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airways (from Dhs3,100; etihadairways.com) and Dubai by Qatar Airways (from Dhs2,652; qatarairways.com). From here, buses leave for the Cityterminalen every 10–15 minutes and take around 45 minutes (single tickets Dhs55; flygbussarna.se). Stockholm is a compact city and best explored on foot. Public transport (buses, trams and Metro trains) is clean, reliable and efficient (city-centre singles Dhs20, day travelcards Dhs64; sl.se).

WHERE TO STAY STF Gärdet is Stockholm’s first ‘designer hostel’. It has smart, contemporary rooms with fluffy sheepskins and textured rugs – all have their own bathroom and some come with kitchenettes (from Dhs496; Sandhamnsgatan 59; svenskaturistforeningen.se). Hip Hotel Hellsten’s themed



Sights & Activities

Ett Hem (A Home) A series of late 19th-century paintings by Carl Larsson.

Josef Frank’s floral patterns

rooms range from rustic Swedish to Indian exotica, while sleek bathrooms sport phones and hand-cut Greek slate. There’s live jazz in the chic lounge on Thursday evenings (from Dhs729; Luntmakargatan 68; hellsten.se). Hotell Anno 1647 has labyrinthine hallways, affable staff and both budget and standard rooms. The latter are the real winners and come with old floorboards, Rococo wallpaper and chandeliers (from Dhs1,342; Mariagränd 3; anno1647.se).

Where to stay

The know-how SWEDISH STYLE Four iconic designs:

Multicultural themes pervade in Hotel Hellsten’s rooms

Eating

Bold, bright, almost Surrealist decorative patterns created in the early 20th century by the architect, artist and designer who changed the face of public housing.

The Solstickan matchbox Designed in 1936 by Einar Nerman, the label for Solstickan’s matches is one of the world’s most reproduced artworks. Sales from the matches now go to a charity.

‘Concrete’ chair Jonas Bohlin’s 1980 creation set the benchmark for a new sleek, minimal furniture style.See his showroom at Södermalmstorg 4.

IKEA Love it or hate it, the Swedish flatpack originators have had a global impact on most people’s everyday home style with its cheap furniture.

TOP TIP A Stockholm Card covers entry to 80 museums and attractions, plus travel on public transport and (from April to midDecember) sightseeing by boat (one-day cards Dhs262, three-day cards Dhs408; visitstockholm.com).

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Stockholm Encounter (Dhs47) and Sweden (Dhs93) guides both offer extensive coverage of the city – the former is ideal for short breaks. The Stockholm & Around chapter (Dhs17) of the latter is available from lonelyplanet.com. New Scandinavian Design is an ambitious 2004 photographic study of the evolution of the country’s aesthetic (Dhs204; Chronicle Books).

COMPILED BY JASON RILEY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM BECKY OHLSEN. PHOTOGRAPHS: EMIL HAMLIN, KEITH J SMITH/ALAMY

Stockholm essentials

Drinking

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Music history SALFORD LADS CLUB

An eager crowd packs into the Manchester Arena

MINI GUIDE

MUSIC IN MANCHESTER From northern soul in the Sixties to Madchester in the Nineties, the Rainy City is steeped in musical heritage. Few places in England have the history, style and urban aplomb to match the music capital of the north.

ROADHOUSE

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FACTORY 251 The old offices of Factory Records (the label behind Joy Division and the Happy Mondays) are now a music venue, part-owned by ex-Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook. Saturday club night Stonelove celebrates northern soul, indie and funk. Those seeking modern thrills should try The Loft Club on Fridays for house and dubstep (factorymanchester.com; 118 Princess St; weekend admission from £3, drinks from £2).

An enduring image of The Smiths at Salford Lads Club

AFFLECKS No other place defined ‘Madchester’ – the baggy, indie-dance style and sound that made the city the music centre of the universe, albeit temporarily, in the early 1990s – quite like Afflecks. This four-storey warehouse of independent retailers and cafés in the Northern Quarter sells vintage, retro and customised fashions, vinyl and homeware (afflecks.com; 52 Church St; admission free, T-shirts from £8).

New music

Live venues Situated in Piccadilly, this grimy little basement space sees local and big-name rock, indie and alternative acts being put through their paces in front of an ever-enthusiastic crowd. It’s rightly considered one of the top spots for catching unsigned acts and stars of the future before they break through to the big time (theroadhouselive.co.uk; 8 Newton St; tickets around £4).

Immortalised on the artwork of The Smiths’ 1986 album The Queen is Dead, this functioning sports and activities club is considered one of the country’s most iconic buildings by pop and rock fans. Visitors can view memorabilia such as rare photos of Morrissey and co (salfordlads club.org.uk; St Ignatius Walk; admission free by arrangement, donations welcome).

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COMMON

The Bridgewater Hall has some of the best acoustics in the UK

Common by name, cool by nature: this is a terrific boozer in the Northern Quarter, adorned with local art and favoured by a young and unpretentious crowd that heads here for beans on toast, BLTs and hot Vimto in the day, and some of the city’s best DJ line-ups of an evening (aplacecalledcommon.co.uk; 39–41 Edge St; sandwiches from £5.50, admission free or £2).

THE BRIDGEWATER HALL

MANCHESTER ARENA

PICCADILLY RECORDS

This enormous and impressive concert hall close to Deansgate is the venue that three resident orchestras – the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata – call home. The place hosts up to 250 events and concerts every year, and not just classical music either. Soul, world, jazz, opera, folk and musicals get their own fair representation too (bridgewaterhall.co.uk; Lower Mosley St; tickets from £10).

What the Manchester Arena lacks in intimacy, it more than makes up for in sound and scale. Hosting music and sporting events, it’s one of the largest venues of its kind in Europe, with a capacity of 21,000. If it’s big-name international acts (everybody from Lady Gaga and Lionel Richie to Keane and Radiohead) you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place (men-arena.com; Victoria Station; tickets from £25).

An institution among die-hard record buyers and the vinylcurious, and an essential place to visit if you’re seeking out the best sounds of right now. It’s essentially a northern take on London’s independent Rough Trade stores, selling the best in lesser-known and underexposed new music (piccadillyrecords.com; 53 Oldham St; 12-inch singles from £5).

Manchester’s bars don’t get much more hip than Common

SOUP KITCHEN Why go to a separate café, canteen, club and live music venue, when Soup Kitchen has all four? There’s a friendly atmosphere and the food is simple but impeccably done: roasted tomato soup, pork pie and pickle, and vegetarian Scotch eggs. There’s a good selection of real ales and local brews. Stay in the evenings for top DJs and live events (soup-kitchen.co.uk; 31–33 Spear St; ales from £3.10).

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MINI GUIDE

Music in Manchester Drinking

Manchester essentials TRANSPORT The M6 links the city with the south and Scotland, while the M62 connects with the northeast. Manchester Piccadilly is the main station for trains to and from the rest of the country (Liverpool from £4 with eastmidlandstrains.co.uk; London from £24 with virgintrains. co.uk), but Victoria station serves Bradford and Halifax (Bradford from £17; northernrail.org). A good pair of shoes and the excellent Metrolink tram system are all you need to get around the compact city centre (singles from £1; metrolink.co.uk).

WHERE TO STAY Roomzzz does a smart line in swish open-plan apartments, with enormous beds, walk-in rain showers, glossy white kitchen areas and iMacs in every room. Fresh pastries and coffee are available each morning. A real bargain for the city centre location (roomzzz.co.uk; 36 Princess St; studios from £62).

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Entertainment

Sights & Activities

Whippin’ Piccadilly Gomez, taken from the album Bring It On (1998).

Great Expectations Elbow, from the album Leaders of the Free World (2005).

The Manchester Rambler

Velvet in the Gay Village is a definite contender for the best mid-priced place to stay in the city. It offers 19 decadent, bespoke bedrooms that just about stay on the right side of kitsch (velvetmanchester.com; 2 Canal St; from £105). Great John Street has pretty spectacular rooms, with Egyptian cotton sheets and free-standing baths. The rooftop garden has a hot tub and views of the Coronation Street set (greatjohn street.co.uk; Great John St; Baby Grand room from £270).

Where to stay

The know-how CITY IN SONG Tributes to the Rainy City from its homegrown heroes:

Period detail meets modern style at Great John Street Hotel

Eating

Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger, taken from the album The World of Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger (1970).

Song For Manchester Aidan Smith, taken from the album Fancy Barrel (2005). Rusholme Ruffians The Smiths, taken from the album Meat is Murder (1985).

Round Are Way Oasis, taken from the Wonderwall EP (1995).

TOP TIP Want to know more about the city’s music? Get bloghunting. Hey! Manchester (heymanchester.com/blog), Louder Than War (louder thanwar.com) and Now Then Manchester (now thenmanchester.blogspot. co.uk) lead the way.

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s latest England guide (£16.99) offers a rundown on the city – you can also download the Manchester, Liverpool & the Northwest chapter (£2.99) from lonelyplanet.com. Lancashire-born Stuart Maconie’s Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North sees the writer and broadcaster trawl the north in an attempt to find out where clichés end and truth begins in this part of England (Ebury Press; £7.99).

COMPILED BY JASON RILEY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM FIONN DAVENPORT. PHOTOGRAPHS: BEN BLACKALL, HUGH THRELLFALL/ALAMY, KARINALBINSSONPHOTOGRAPHY.COM, RICHARD PRICE, SEBASTIAN MATTHES, STEPHEN WRIGHT/REDFERNS/GETTY IMAGES

Shopping

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Department stores BARNEY’S

Windows of shopping opportunities in New York

MINI GUIDE

SHOPPING IN NEW YORK If you can’t buy it in New York, it probably hasn’t been invented yet. From Fifth Avenue department stores where credit cards come to die to flea markets piled high with vintage clothes, this city spends with the best of them.

Vintage and boutique STRAND BOOKSTORE Strand is the city’s best-loved book store: it’s been open since 1927, selling new, used and rare titles. There are a staggering 18 miles’ worth of books here – more than 2.5 million of them, spread out across three labyrinthine floors. For real bargains try the basement, which is jam-packed with media review copies (strandbooks.com).

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MOMA SHOP This super-sleek store in the Museum of Modern Art does a fine line in handsome prints and coffee-table books, but you’ll also find a carefully curated selection of stylish-looking objects for the home and office: kitchen gadgets, surreal lamps, games, Modernist alarm clocks, fridge magnets, slick ceramics, offbeat children’s toys and more. MoMA is a great shout if you’re bereft of inspiration for those important holiday gifts (momastore.org; 11 W 53rd St).

The classic NYC department store, Barney’s has attracted the city’s serious fashion freaks since 1923 and has a reputation for being bang on the money with up-and-coming labels, such as Miu Miu and Derek Lam. There is also a huge collection of bags, cosmetics and homewares. For less expensive deals, try Barney’s Co-Op stores all around the city. (660 Madison Ave; barneys.com).

Barney’s holds warehouse sales every February and August

BERGDORF GOODMAN

ABC CARPET AND HOME

As well as providing NYC’s best Christmas window displays, Bergdorf Goodman is stuffed full of high-end fashion labels – John Varvatos, Marc Jacobs and Etro, to name three. There are bags, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics and homewares, plus a men’s store over the street. If the price tags bring on a cold sweat, the views looking north over Central Park should keep you calm (754 W 58th St; bergdorfgoodman.com).

Set up like a museum on six floors, ABC is the place where designers and decorators come to seek inspiration. It’s filled with furnishings small and large, including handcrafted knickknacks, designer jewellery, lighting, antiques and carpets. Come Christmas, it’s a joy to behold: the decorators go all out. Also check out the new ABC Kitchen, serving organic dishes (888 Broadway; abchome.com).

Markets

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BROOKLYN FLEA

Have a good old rummage at Vintage Thrift

VINTAGE THRIFT Vintage clothing is only a small part of the appeal at Vintage Thrift – this is a place where you can find everything from a 1940s tea set to 1970s lounge furniture. There are piles of old editions of Vogue, vintage typewriters and Victorian toys: it’s an absolute treasure trove of jumble. All proceeds go to the United Jewish Council, which supports elderly residents in the East Side (286 3rd Ave; closed Sat; vintagethriftshop.org).

Arguably the best flea market in the city. Around 200 stalls set up on the grounds of a school in Fort Greene every Saturday, selling antiques, second-hand records, furniture, vintage clothes and crafts. In winter, the market goes indoors at One Hanson Place. On Sundays, the action moves to the East River Waterfront at Williamsburg (176 Lafayette Ave; brooklynflea.com).

HELL’S KITCHEN FLEA MARKET For the hundreds of stallholders who set up here every Saturday and Sunday, haggling is expected. Trestle tables piled high with every kind of bric-a-brac, clothes and furniture, old family photos and antique jewellery invite leisurely browsing, while the regular Gourmet Food Truck bazaars include the city’s top street food vendors (426 W 39th St; hellskitchenfleamarket.com).

Brooklyn Flea is one of NYC’s best places to find one-offs

THE MARKET NYC This design market held in a loft-style space in Greenwich Village is one of the best places to find the work of up-and-coming designers at bargain prices. Screenprinted T-shirts, jewellery, photography, home furnishings, handbags and art are all up for grabs – and don’t be afraid to haggle. Plus there are plenty of eclectic food stalls for a postshopping snack (159 Bleecker St; Wed–Sun; themarketnyc.com).

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS

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MINI GUIDE

Shopping in New York

New York essentials TRANSPORT Direct flights to New York’s JFK and Newark airports leave from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Carriers include British Airways, Lufthansa and Emirates (from Dhs6,620; emirates.com). Once in New York City itself, it’s easiest to use public transport – the subway system is relatively simple to use (singles Dhs9, seven-day passes Dhs110; mta.info).

WHERE TO STAY East Village Bed and Coffee is a family home turned offbeat, arty B&B with themed rooms and great amenities, such as free cycle hire and Wi-fi. Each floor has shared common and kitchen space, with guests free to come and go as they please (from Dhs525; bedandcoffee.com ). Inn on 23rd Street, set in a five-story townhouse in Chelsea, is a 14-room B&B with big, welcoming rooms, fancy fabrics and TVs held in huge armoires. There’s an honesty bar and a piano

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The know-how SOUVENIR CITY NYC isn’t short on souvenirs – here’s some less obvious ideas.

Coffee cups: Rooms at Hôtel Americano are fashionably pared down for you to play on in the lounge, plus a Victorian library that doubles as a breakfast room (from Dhs99; innon23rd.com). Sleeping in one of Hôtel Americano’s perfectly polished rooms is a bit like laying your head in a bento box, but with minimalist furniture rather than food. It offers everything from Turkish towels to Japanese washing cloths, with controls activated via personal iPads. You can explore surrounding Chelsea on a free guest bike (from Dhs1,245; hotel-americano.com).

Where to stay

Ceramic versions of these to-go city icons emblazoned with ‘We are happy to serve you’ are now available (Dhs58; momastore.org).

TOP TIP If the price on the tag looks too good to be true, that’s because it most probably is. While there’s no VAT to pay in the US, most places levy a sales tax: in NYC, it’s almost nine per cent. However, the city’s retailers rarely include this in advertised prices, so be prepared to pay a bit extra at the till. There are exceptions: clothes and shoes selling for less than $110 (Dhs408) are tax-free.

Blue Smoke Barbecue Sauce: New York loves flavours from far and wide, but for an allAmerican classic, try taking home a bottle of Blue Smoke (Dhs29; bluesmoke.com).

Graphic T-shirts: Get that gritty and authentic Williamsburg look (from Dhs87; brooklynindustries.com).

Messenger bags: Used by couriers, now essentials (from Dhs175; manhattanportage.com).

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Discover New York (Dhs87) and New York (Dhs87) city guides both have excellent coverage of where to spend your dollars. Alternatively, download the New York chapter (Dhs17) of the USA guide (Dhs110) at lonelyplanet.com. The Shop Gotham blog is a good guide (shopgotham.com).

COMPILED BY MATT BOLTON AND SOPHIE MCGRATH, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM GINGER OTIS. PHOTOGRAPHS:JENNY ACHESON/AGEFOTOSTOCK.COM,JIM FRANCO/HOTEL AMERICANO,KATE GLICKSBERG/BROOKLYN FLEA,MATT MUNRO

Shopping

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COMPETITION

Win one of ten overnight stays at Ocean View Hotel at JBR beach! Worth Dhs7,500

So the bank balance won’t let you escape on holiday just yet after the festive season? Don’t worry, we can help blow those January blues away with an over night staycation at Jumeirah Beach Residence’s newest four star hotel, Ocean View Hotel. Ten lucky readers will win a one night stay for two people with a buffet breakfast to celebrate the hotel’s opening. Guests can enjoy direct beach access from the swimming pool, a health club, gym and spa, a kids’ club and complimentary shuttles to the major shopping malls and the award-winning Jebel Ali Golf Resort. The hotel has six licensed bars and restaurants, including Fogo Vivo, a Brazilian steakhouse, The Whistler – a cheese and wine bar and Girders, a sports bar with a lively atmosphere. To be in with a chance of being one of the ten lucky winners, send the answer of the below question, plus your name and contact details to competitions@ lonelyplanettraveller.me before February 20. Ocean View Hotel is located on JBR beach, but what does JBR stand for?

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY  Overnight stay including breakfast is valid for two people only and cannot be redeemed in conjunction with any other offer.  Valid from 1 January - 30 June 2013 excluding public holidays. Subject to availability and other terms and conditions may apply.  Employees of CPI Publishing may not apply.  Winners will be selected on a random basis from the correct entries.

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COMPETITION

Win an all inclusive overnight stay in a villa at The Cove, Rotana!

Get out of the city with a luxury resort stay! One lucky winner will receive a one night stay at a luxury beachside villa at The Cove, Rotana as well as being treated to breakfast and dinner at Cinnamon restaurant. Built round a lagoon on the shores of Ras Al Khaimah this modern resort is made of hotel rooms, and deluxe separate villas, six restaurants and bars and is home to an amazing spa which can even run to massages on the beach to the sound of the surf. It’s an ideal getaway to relax and recharge, and it’s only 87kms from Dubai! To win this fabulous five star prize, send your answer to the below question, along with your name, contact details and email to competitions@lonelyplanettraveller.me The Cove, Rotana can be found in which of the UAE’s emirates? CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

a) Dubai b) Sharjah c) Ras Al Khaimah

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East January 2013

4 Use of voucher is subject to availability and is valid only with prior reservation. 4 Voucher is non-refundable, non-transferable and no further extension will be granted. 4 Voucher not valid during public holidays, festive season and/or in conjunction with any other promotions. 4 Voucher valid for three months from date of issue. 4 Dinner in Cinnamon is inclusive of soft drinks only. 4 Employees of CPI Publishing may not apply. 4 Winners must be over 21 years old and will be selected on a random basis from the correct entries.


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Lonely Planet Traveller ME - Issue 1, 2013 Jan  

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East is the first international travel brand to invest in a locally based travel publication, and will cover...

Lonely Planet Traveller ME - Issue 1, 2013 Jan  

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East is the first international travel brand to invest in a locally based travel publication, and will cover...

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