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Contents lifestyle with a difference volume two

sojourn

2008

high life

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Taking It Away

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On the Water

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The Colour of Business

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Desperately Seeking Paradise

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Luxury Scales New Heights

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Luxe Living at the Raintree

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Bale Equestrian and Country Club

after hours

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Tres Unique

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Journeys with a Heart

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Luxe Bite

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Hong Kong ala Carte

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Have Passpot Will Travel


the magazine

volume two

2008

Lifestyle is a bi-annual magazine from Mulpha Land Bhd., published with the primary objective of keeping all Mulpha privileged guests abreast with the latest lifestyle issues and the Group’s upcoming developments. Copies of Lifestyle can be obtained from the Mulpha International Bhd. office. For enquiries, please call (603) 7957 2233 or (603) 7955 1344 or contact Simone Pan at span@mulpha.com.my

CHAIRMAN Chung Tze Hien CEO Lai Meng GENERAL MANAGER Ronn Yong EDITOR Faridah Hanim EDITORIAL BOARD Simone Pan Mulpha, Malaysia Koh Boon Teng Mulpha Land, Malaysia Terence Lee Mulpha Land, Malaysia Sally Morgan Mulpha, Australia & Hayman Thomas Thang Mulpha, Vietnam Karen Evans Bimbadgen Estate, Australia Elizabeth Masselos InterContinental Sydney, Australia Dush Velcek Hilton Melbourne Airport, Australia Lindsay Wallace Sanctuary Cove, Australia Karen Edwards Norwest Land, Australia Peter Lewis The Hotel School Sydney, Australia Erin Millar Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove, Australia

ADVERTISING/SALES ENQUIRIES Simone Pan +603 – 7957 2233 ext 382 span@mulpha.com.my INTERIOR DESIGN Design Development Department Mulpha Land & Property Sdn. Bhd. PRINTING Label Plus Sdn. Bhd. CONTACTS Mulpha International Bhd. (603) 7957 2233 Mulpha Australia Limited (Australia) (61-2) 9268 5000 Mulpha Vietnam (Asian Fame Dev. Ltd.) (848) 930 4009 DISTRIBUTION Mulpha’s Lifestyle magazine is a free publication showcasing the quality of life with a controlled circulation of 2,000 copies, offered to an exclusive database through selected distribution channels. • • • •

Mulpha Group of hotels -InterContinental Sydney -Hilton Melbourne Airport -Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove -Hayman Great Barrier Reef Residents of Leisure Farm Resort &  Residences, Johor Lifestyle brand owners Professionals

Mulpha International Bhd. is a diversified conglomerate and a component stock of the Bursa Malaysia Composite Index. Listed on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad since 1983, it has shareholders’ funds of about RM2.4 billion. The Group’s focus is on real estate and property-related services and financial services, with operations and investments in Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Australia. Over the years, Mulpha has leveraged on its expertise abroad to become Malaysia’s largest real estate investor and developer in Australia, owning world-class assets that include Sanctuary Cove and Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove in Queensland, InterContinental Sydney, Hilton Melbourne Airport, Norwest Business Park Sydney, The Hotel School Sydney, Bimbadgen Estate in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley and the world-renowned and award-winning Hayman Great Barrier Reef.


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Taking It Away It wasn’t too long ago that catering services were only summoned for wedding parties. Today, it forms the backbone of almost every event, be it a VIP dinner party or a major sports meet.


sojourn

Taking It Away

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“We deliver the hotel to their doorstep,” declares Rosy Roslan, the Director of Events at Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur. This mantra is the nucleus of the hotel’s approach to creating extraordinary dining experiences for their clients. And it’s not just lip service. Rosy proudly shares that they have yet to turn down an off-site catering request, regardless of the complexity of the place, location or menu. In fact, the more outlandish, the better. Her sentiments are shared by Doug Zeif, VP of Food & Beverage for LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels, who is known to have said that they thrive on clients who are hard to please. At LXR, the experience isn’t limited to taste but instead encompasses all the five senses. The objective – to coax guests into letting go of preconceived notions and removing boundaries. Food builds bridges. But food served on a canvas of showbiz, flamboyance and personalisation, builds connections. Despite this being old news, however, off-site catering only took off in the 80s and boy, did it soar!

01  eam Hilton Melbourne Airport T 02 Beauty on a plate 03-05 Catering takes the stress out of entertaining

“People are more discerning and their taste is getting more demanding,” explained Rosy. “They are constantly seeking the new and, when off-site catering first reared its head, they fell in love with it.”

The other – more obvious – reason behind catering’s immense popularity is also the fact that it allows hosts and hostesses to plan a stunning party minus the headache of executing it. Life has picked up its pace and in Kuala Lumpur, especially, people have their foot constantly on the accelerator. No surprise then that they enjoy the hassle-free option that catering offers. High-level corporate parties have become more exclusive, exotic and elaborate, and it’s always double the fun if someone else does the work! With F&B executives looking at the dynamics impacting the restaurant community and potential spillover into their foodservice business, it’s helpful to evaluate some of the trends in off-premise orders within the restaurant community. American-based company, Technomic, recently completed a study on catering called LOOP (Large Orders Off Premise), and uncovered some interesting findings. According to them, nearly 60 percent of catered events occur off-site, usually due to the size of the group, a need for a change of scenery, or an incentive to offer attendees.

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While food options are not the main driver for moving a meeting off-site, once a venue is selected, food selection and quality become critical to the satisfaction of the event.

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It also discovered that medical / pharmaceutical representatives are more likely to be frequent users of off-premise catering. Personnel within the medical field are also more consistent users of off-premise catered events, hosting these events more evenly throughout the year. Other business groups, such as nonprofits, computer services, financial services, and accounting, tend to be more seasonal in nature. However, as most of us have experienced, anything that is done outside the comfort of your backyard holds a higher risk of being a victim of Murphy’s Law. Many a catering team has watched in horrified dismay as double the number of expected guests stroll through the

doors. Or, they bear witness to a careless soul bumping into their only tray of champagne flutes. Or they lift the lid of the dessert dish after a particularly long speech to find that their beautiful ice-cream cake has turned to soup. Rosy acknowledges these challenges with a laugh. “Nothing much you can do except to be prepared. We always scour the venue beforehand to determine if our trucks are able to drive right up or if we will be transporting food and equipment on foot. Then we make sure we have the right team in place, the right equipment and proper coordination. But despite the best planning, we have had to place the occasional SOS calls to the hotel for more food or equipment! Luckily for us, we have not been caught unaware before. As long as the show goes on and the client sees flawless execution of the event, that’s all that matters.”


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Taking It Away

Dush Velcek, Hilton Melbourne Airport’s Marketing and Communications Manager, agrees. “Off-site catering is always a challenge and usually involves people and suppliers in different ways. Sometimes the staff, including myself, get roped in to help, which can be fun! On one particular catering occasion for Living Legends we found that the catering agency did not send a team to carry the food and drinks to the 300 odd guests. So our chefs cooked the food, then proceeded to serve the food and drinks!”

talk about the event for days!” Dush acknowledged.

Hilton Melbourne Airport is no stranger to off-site catering, having arranged various functions for groups from 20 to 300 pax. Among their more notable events are the launch of Jetstar Airlines’ Bangkok route and Thrifty Rent A Car celebrations.

The question that now begs to be answered is, how does one stay ahead of the curve in such a competitive industry? For Grand Millennium, the answer is to maintain their reputation for excellent food and service. For LXR, Zeif leverages on product use and the element of surprise. At a recent Harley Party organised by LXR, guests were only told to bring their jeans. Whilst sipping cocktails and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres, 24 bikers showed up and said, “Follow us.” In doing so, the guests find themselves in a completely different environment filled with tattoo artists, rattlesnakes, biker chicks and ice carvings. The menu was a perfect fit with hamburgers and rattlesnake chilli.

“The other thing we find is the enthusiasm amongst our team members. They really enjoy doing something different and would

Planners are also finding that what was once considered old is now popular again, such as with ice sculptures. Technology has also

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helped with planners using wireless lighting which allows for ease in which to create special effects, so really, there is no avenue to lag behind the competition. As with everything else, the F&B industry is also constantly reinventing itself. But there is no danger in off-site catering being yesterday’s headlines anytime soon. People are becoming more affluent and as long as planners are able to deliver that experience of affluence to their doorstep, they will never go out of style.

01 H  ilton Melbourne Airport’s chefs on duty 02 Dining with a view 03 Sushi on the menu 04 Food imitates art 05 Outdoor dining option

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lif es ty le

On the Water When real estate and water meet, the ensuing mix is a heady combination; much to the delight of home owners.


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On the Water

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Living by the water is becoming one of the fastest trends to grow in property development. From Australia to America, Malaysia to the Middle East, more and more people are opting for waterside residences. It could be a high-rise complete with a marina, or a villa that offers a stunning vista of the sea. Whatever abode style one chooses, there is no escaping the lure of water dwellings. According to a UK psychologist, Donna Dawson, people’s positive response to living near water is hardly surprising. “Water is considered by psychologists to be a symbol of the unconscious, and representative of our emotional life. It’s also associated with purity and creation so it’s not surprising that living near water can make us feel more relaxed and at peace with ourselves.” She adds: “Bodies of water create more ozone, and it feels healthier to walk and breathe near clear, moving water. All our senses are engaged and invigorated. Thus, we are able to cope better with stress in our jobs because we go to work in a calmer frame of mind, and we are able to lose stress quicker when we return to our waterside dwelling.” For the home developer, living by water creates a unique challenge. Many times this involves changing the monoculture look of a typical home to one that celebrates the water and the outdoors. Residences speak in an

architectural language that involves the natural elements and the surroundings. Double height ceilings provide a natural play of space, floorto-ceiling windows offer unobstructed views of the outdoors. Balconies to admire romantic sunsets and plunge pools may be over-thetop, but these encompass a new tranquility of an urban lifestyle. Waterfront homes’ appeal goes across the board. No longer are they just second or summer homes for the older generation, but many young, urbanites have also warmed up to the concept. The peaceful water environment offers a relaxing ambience, especially for those that have lived a hurried and stressed out life. Living in a waterside property also encourages them to have a healthier lifestyle, where the surrounds offer plenty of options for walking, swimming and other water activities in a non-polluted environment. Whatever the reasons may be, living on water allows one to wake up to the ever-changing painting of water, cloud and sky as backdrop. Now, isn’t that food for thought? Here, we check out some of the best waterfront properties found worldwide.

01 The Lakes by Yoo 02 Interior of The Lakes by Yoo 03 A stunning view from the bedroom at Marina Bay Suites 04 The inviting verandah at Bayou Water Village

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Sanctuary Cove, Australia

Sanctuary Cove’s waterfront allotments offer a new standard in private waterfront living, with a secluded yet accessible lifestyle that is the epitome of true waterfront living. The Tristania precinct offers waterfront blocks for sale and existing homes on nearby Schotia Island have been designed to take advantage of their location, either on the edge of one of Sanctuary Cove’s four tranquil harbours or on the banks of the Coomera River. Residents have access to two championship golf courses within the Sanctuary Cove precinct, The Marine Village, a range of boutique shops and state-of-the-art restaurants which are world class, and the 313 berth marina itself. Homes range from open

plan, modern and contemporary designs to mansions of grand proportions. They all have outdoor living spaces and, in some cases, it is difficult to tell where the indoor areas stop and the outdoor living begins. Such is the easy transition often made possible via bi-fold doors that disappear to allow both areas to be as one. Residents also live in a prestigious gated community, ensuring peace of mind while enjoying all the precinct’s world-class amenities. www.sanctuarycove.com


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On the Water

Marina Bay Suites, Singapore

Inner-city living is redefined at Marina Bay Suites. A natural bay becomes the focal point for residents, while the calm green oasis of Gardens by the Bay nearby envelops the suites. Marina Bay Suites is Singapore’s highly ambitious project to turn the city-state into a tropical garden city. Residents access their unit through their own private lift lobby. There are three penthouses that have their own swimming pool. Up on the 6th level, semi-outdoor spa lounges and a 50-metre lap pool present the perfect place to rest and relax. If that’s not enough, there are two separate levels that offer Sky Cabanas, a tranquil respite set amid lush landscaping and water features where residents can enjoy a host of facilities, including yoga and massage terraces. www.marinabaysuites.com

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The Lakes By Yoo, United Kingdom

These design-your-own homes front six clearwater lakes in over 650 acres, of which around half will remain as a nature reserve. Home designs are stunning glass-and-timber structures built on your selection of plot, with space moulded to your liking and, a home style chosen from the design talents of the likes of Phillipe Starck, Jade Jagger and Tom Bartlett. Located between the beautiful Cotswold villages of Fairford and Lechlade, about 90 minutes from London, The Lakes also boasts of a concierge and housekeeping service. The houses themselves are styled to combine the great outdoors with the best of contemporary design. Every detail pursues to blur

the lines between outdoors and within. Trees are used to create a natural shelter, parking spaces behind each property have foliage screening, views of nature are uninterrupted through decks made of sustainable timber that will mellow and silver with age. An open plan design creates homes that feel large yet homely while a seating area allows you to admire the lake view. www.thelakesbyyoo.com


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On the Water

Bayou Water Village, Leisure Farm Resort, Malaysia

Bayou Water Village combines both the nostalgia of the traditional with the convenience of modern living. This eco-friendly, 17-acre enclave of tropicalthemed houses echoes the architecture of Malay village or kampung homes. Calm waters surround this village of five exclusive bungalows, 46 semi-detached houses, 162 courtyard terrace homes, and 213 two-storey residential units. The kampung feel is further accentuated by the design and architectural finishes – with houses built on stilts over the water or fronting the waterways in small

organic clusters. Homes built in earthy tones have floor to ceiling windows, deep overhangs, large lanai, and balconies to capture the natural breezes. Balconies are large and deep, perching over the waterways and garden parks below, inviting the surrounding green into the private sanctuaries of each home. Twenty-four hour gated security that surrounds Bayou Water Village homes further makes this the ideal home for today’s modern living. www.leisurefarm.com.my

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life st yle

The Colour of Business What does it mean to work, play and live – all in the same space?


sojourn

The Colour of Business

There was a time when bringing home the bacon was a solemn affair. Men donned sober garb, marched to unimaginative offices and gravely set about doing what they were paid to do. Coffee and cigarette breaks were kept to a minimum, and once the clock struck five, they either trotted straight home or to the hazy, corner pub for a pint and a game of pool. Back then, work wasn’t considered part of life’s equation, and to further illustrate this, offices and its immediate surroundings were confined to a black and white world, while the rest of life existed in Technicolour. Then the inevitable happened. People grew tired of the neat little compartments that kept work and play from merging and decided that the rules needed to be bent. Organisations began allowing dabs of colour to creep into their interior. Men began wearing vivid shirts beneath their stern suits, while women wrapped vibrant scarves around their necks and toted striking handbags. It was the dawn of a new era.

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As the corporate stiff upper lip relaxed, organisations cautiously introduced whimsical elements into the work environment. A vending machine, art pieces and even a water feature. Then Google unveiled its headquarters and the world nodded in amazed approval. The secret was out – people wanted their work to become part of their lifestyle. They yearned for a place that spurred their intellect, as well as appealed to their creativity. A place where the corporate image and café lifestyle could co-exist, and where obtaining an appropriate outfit to a last minute dinner event was a matter of running to the ground floor instead of across town. More importantly, they wanted a place that indulged their yearning for a contemporary lifestyle that held the promise of space, freedom and expression of their true nature. And so, the concept of a business park was born. In its infancy, a business park was an area of land in which many office buildings were grouped together. All of the work that went on was commercial, not industrial or residential. Back then, most business parks were constructed in suburban locations, where it was cheaper to develop land because of lower land and building costs for building wider, not necessarily higher. These places are also often located near motorways or main roads. With the rapid development of the service sector and significant growth in science and technology businesses, a number of business parks and science and technology ‘clusters’ have been established around the world. They offer a range of affordable and well appointed space, with excellent amenities for retail, light industrial, IT, professional, commercial and technology businesses. The parks are designed to provide modern, energy-efficient property in landscaped surroundings with good facilities for parking and areas for relaxation during lunch breaks and after working hours. To enable the

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latest and fastest e-business transactions, all accommodation is well served by high bandwidth telecommunications facilities, particularly through cable networks on-site.

quarters. Set to open in mid 2009, Circa will combine the elements of cosmopolitan, lifestyle and business cultures to make it a destination within itself.

Today, forward-looking organisations aim to create working environments that will truly enhance business performance. Both the location and the property are valuable tools that enable organisations to motivate staff, stand out from the crowded marketplace, increase efficiency, streamline operations, and react quickly to changing market conditions.

The focal point of the development is a central piazza, a meeting place for Circa’s workforce and the surrounding community to eat, meet and relax. There will be a growers market offering fresh fruit and vegetables, open-air cinema, live music and summertime jazz. A gymnasium and a wide range of cafes and restaurants will also be among Circa’s offerings, as will be a series of flexible, forward-thinking commercial office spaces called CircaWorks.

One of these organisations is property developer Mulpha Land. Enter Circa, the finale in the world class Norwest Business Park story. Delivered in joint venture by FKP Property Group and Mulpha Australia, it is heralded as the future of urban business – a vibrant precinct in Sydney, Australia, where business and lifestyle converge, encompassing 350,000 sqm of thriving commercial, retail, leisure and community

The live-work philosophy at Circa also presents a strategic opportunity for retailers. CircaRetail, the vibrant heart of this development, will bustle with professionals running errands or taking time out to shop throughout the working day.


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The Colour of Business

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01 Circa’s Piazza will be the focal point for all 02 Enjoy the outdoors at Circa’s Urban Park 03 Work and play all in one place 03

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The Colour of Business

A local Australian publication has already lauded Circa as a cleverly designed park that offers its residents outstanding opportunities to work and play without having to leave the estate. Circa is expected to further increase the attractiveness of what is already proving to be the best place in Sydney to live, work and play. In India, a former small farming village located south of Delhi has since been transformed into one of the most important satellite business hubs of North India. DLF City in Gurgaon is now a real estate phenomenon with many Delhites preferring the greener and newly planned Gurgaon over the congested and heavily polluted metropolis. To capitalise on the foreign investment and new business opportunities, numerous tall structures were built around the city to accommodate the rapid growth. The headquarters of Gurgaon’s largest companies and banks are located in this area, and thousands of professionals have recently made their home in apartments or in newly constructed colonies and condominiums. The mushrooming shopping malls also reflect the retailers’ recognition of the residents’ high aspirations and deep pockets.

environment, it is laid out as an attractively landscaped park, boasting a mix of high technology business, data and software enterprises, research and development divisions and knowledge intensive facilities. Elsewhere, Britian’s largest business park is awaiting its debut. The London Gateway Port and Park will be built on the former Shell Haven oil refinery site, a 607-hectare site along the River Thames, in Thurrock, Essex. The business park will sit next to a 2,300-metre container quay, both paving the way for 16,500 new jobs once it opens its doors at the end of this year. The intense thirst for the perfect work-life balance is unlikely to abate any time in the near future. This essentially means that business parks will only get more sophisticated. As Mulpha Land puts it, the business parks of the future will invite you to discover how you can turn the ordinary working day into something extraordinary.

By 2010, the Indian state government hopes to complete a world class Golden Triangle City Centre with as many as four skyscrapers higher than Taipei 101. Closer to home, meanwhile, is Singapore’s Changi Business Park (CBP). Representative of the new work

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01 An overview of Circa Business Park 02 CircaRetail will bring lots of convenience to residents

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life st yle

Desperately Seeking Paradise The Great Barrier Reef teems with life and underwater wonders; it’s up to us to play our role in preserving this marine marvel for generations to come.

The marine water beckons with a green-bluemilky-white opalescence peculiar to reef shallows. There is a different world beneath the water’s surface; it’s a mesmerising reefscape of living rock and vibrant swimming life. This is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is nothing, if not an amazing feat of nature. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is made up of roughly 3,000 individual coral reefs and 900 islands, stretching over 2,600 km off the north east coast of Queensland, Australia. It covers 350,000 sqkm, an area bigger than Poland. It is the largest reef structure and marine park in the world. Such is its size that one can even see it from outer space! Astronauts on the moon have described it as a “thin white line off the east coast of Australia”. It isn’t any wonder that the Great Barrier Reef is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Formed some 18 million years ago, the Great Barrier Reef has endured various geological events. These, such as the Ice Age and low seawater levels, have intermittently interrupted reef growth. The reefs we see today have grown on top of older reef platforms during the last 8,000 years. The coral reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef are various and varied; depending on where


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Desperately Seeking Paradise

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it grows, a reef can be either a ribbon reef that sits on the continental shelf edge, a platform reef that resides on the shelf, or a fringing reef which lives along the continental islands and mainland. Coral reefs form when colonies of tropical marine plants and animals with limestone skeletons rise atop earlier generations.

waters than in any other environment in the world – including tropical rainforests. In fact, some reefs in the Great Barrier Reef have more different fish types than in the entire Caribbean Ocean! Hosting the highest marine life diversity in the world, the Great Barrier Reef houses 450 types of coral, 1,500 kinds of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs.

Diving and swimming in the Great Barrier Reef is like travelling to another planet; its beauty is beyond description. The reef is riddled with caverns and crevices and each coral frond, curlicue and fan is silhouetted in the ocean’s crystalline depths. Cleaner fish nibble the parasites from the gills and mouths of much larger fishes. Anemone fish hide within the waving fronds of its host, enticing other small fishes into the anemone’s trap. Six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles roam the underwater playgrounds of the Great Barrier Reef. Within this marine wilderness tiger sharks, gray reef sharks, bronze whalers and silvertips hunt in small packs, coming right up to divers for a closer look.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service serve as protectors and managers of the Great Barrier Reef. With the billions of international divers, visitors and researchers drawn to the surreal underwater beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, the authorities are tasked with preventing misuse of the reef as well as to monitor the impact by the tourism industry. Other challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef are climate change, shipping, overfishing, water quality and coastal development.

It is an ecosystem and a universe of its own, serving as home to more species of animals and plants in a cubic metre of its pristine

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01 The Great Barrier Reef seen from above 02 Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef can be done responsibly 03 A magical underwater world awaits you

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Research shows that tourism doesn’t exert much pressure on the Great Barrier Reef because it is thinly spread in a vast area and, tour operators have a vested interest in the health of the reef, thus acting as watchdogs. Fishing is carefully managed by the two authorities. It is human activities on land that affect the Great Barrier Reef the most. Land users and government authorities are now working together to improve the quality of sediments and nutrients, fertilisers, sewage, rubbish and oil that run into rivers and out into the Great Barrier Reef. Increasing temperatures due to deforestation and fossil fuel burning also affects sea temperatures. A rise of just 1 or 2 degrees Celsius could cause coral bleaching and death on a widespread scale.

Together with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, various other bodies are involved in caring for the Great Barrier Reef. Independent and volunteer groups lend their resources to champion the welfare of the Great Barrier Reef and its underwater denizens. The volunteer group, the Order of Underwater Coral Heroes (O.U.C.H.), use their diving expertise to maintain buoys, clean junk off the reef, help with research projects, and educate the public. The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is Australia’s pre-eminent independent fundraiser for coral reef research. It provides a channel for private investment to develop and fund strategic projects that address the major threats to the Great Barrier Reef.


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Desperately Seeking Paradise

One such project is the ZooX Fund which assists marine scientists to find ways of preserving Australia’s greatest natural wonder. The fund takes its name from zooxanthellae – delicate golden brown organisms that live inside coral, giving it both life and colour. When the reef waters become too warm, zooxanthellae are expelled or digested by the coral, leaving a white bleached skeleton. The coral will die unless the zooxanthellae return under optimal conditions. One of the inaugural patrons of the ZooX Fund is Mulpha Australia Limited, which owns the acclaimed private island resort, Hayman. This famous destination is the northernmost of the 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays whose coastline the Great Barrier Reef protects from huge ocean swells.

Its efforts in conservation and in preserving the Great Barrier Reef is apt as Hayman itself is designated a wildlife sanctuary teeming with flora as diverse as Poplar Gum, Port Jackson Fig, Moreton Bay Ash, Mackay Cedar, Whitsunday Kurrajong, Grass Trees and various Wattles. Hayman is also home to beautiful tropical fish and, swans and ducks that reside in the resort’s lagoons. A vast array of birds and butterflies call this lush haven home and the endangered Proserpine Rock Wallaby now thrives on the island after being settled here in 1999. The fringing coral reef and surrounding waters of Hayman boast an array of marine life including the Emperor Angelfish and Coral Cod as well as schools of Maori wrasse, tuna, gropers, marlin and sea turtles, and migrating whales during the winter months.

Discovering the Great Barrier Reef is akin to stumbling upon an underwater fantasia. The flourishing flora and fauna of its surrounding islands provides a luscious backdrop to an already magnificent marine world. It took millions of years to make the Great Barrier Reef what it is today and to ensure its survival, we each should play a part in making sure this oceanic marvel has millions more years to thrive and flourish.

01 Discover colourful corals and fishes 02 Travel in style to see the Great Barrier Reef 03 Boats waiting to bring visitors to the vast sea beyond 04 Face to face with a deep sea giant 05 A kaleidoscope of colours underwater

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05 Images courtesy of Tourism Queensland.

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Luxury Scales New Heights Malaysia’s largest real estate investor scores with two prestigious property awards with exclusive Leisure Farm Resort Residences combination; much to the delight of home owners. 01

2008 appears to be a bumper year for Mulpha International Bhd. Its landmark luxury Leisure Farm Resort Residences bagged not one but two revered property awards: the CNBC Asia Pacific Property Award 2008 and the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence 2008 Award. As testimony to Leisure Farm’s outstanding architecture and excellent quality, it took home the CNBC Asia Pacific Property Award for Best Development – “Mind, Body and Soul”. Entries were governed by a panel of professionals that read like a Who’s Who list of the property industry and, Mulpha’s coveted win places it a level above hundreds of entries in the category, capping their position as the leading property player in the region. Commenting on the win, Lee Seng Huang, Executive Chairman of Mulpha International Bhd. says, “This is an important accolade and certainly a major coup for us. It is always gratifying to be acknowledged by our peers and clients. To be recognised by judges who are respected veterans in the industry adds another feather to our cap.” The property giant can certainly add more than one feather to its cap as their Pinggiran Bayou Village Homes in Leisure Farm also

recently clinched the prestigious FIABCI Prix d’Excellence 2008 Award in the Best Residential category. This places the development on the same pedestal as past category winners such as New York’s Trump World Tower (2003), Australia’s Twin Waters Sunshine Coast (2004) and Singapore’s Caribbean Bay at Keppel (2006). “Winning the award justifies our goals and efforts as one of the first developers in the region to look at the green architecture concept. This concept is something we will definitely apply in all our future product developments. The award is also a testament to our commitment as a responsible developer,” says Mulpha International’s Property Division General Manager, Ronn Yong. Pinggiran Bayou is the first in Malaysia to adopt green architecture, and the project has stayed true to the concept of sustainability and the green factor. Mulpha aims to set new benchmarks as more countries strive to be eco-friendly cities, and as customers become more eco-conscious. Mulpha’s Pinggiran Bayu Village Homes beat City Development’s The Pier at Robertson (Singapore), CapitaLand Residential


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Luxury Scales New Heights

Singapore’s The Botanic on Lloyd (Singapore), Beneton Properties’ Stonor Park (Malaysia), and Axis Architects Planners’ The Berth By the Cove (Singapore), which settled for runners-up in the same category. Leisure Farm was created with a vision in mind – to help residents achieve harmony between the mind, body and soul. As such the master plan was designed with sensitivity and thoroughness to preserve the area’s natural green landscape as much as possible. Built at a cost of over RM2 billion, Leisure Farm Resort in Gelang Patah, Johor, is a freehold luxury residential enclave boasting a size of 1,765 acres. The gated sanctuary is popular among overseas clients, especially Singaporeans, as 42 percent of buyers come from the republic.

01 R  onn Yong, General Manager, Property Division of Mulpha International, receiving the award from CNBC Property Awards Chairman, Mr. Stuart Shield 02 Bayou Water Village redefines today’s modern living

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Luxe Living At The Raintree

Luxe Living At The Raintree If you’re looking for a prime address to your city living, look no further than the strategically located Raintree Residence 03

02 01 R  aintree Residence offer a prime city address 02 The natural outdoors easily blends with the indoors 03 Natural landscape envelops the residence

In recent years, people have been drawn to the city like moths to a flame, choosing to live and work within the Kuala Lumpur’s city limits. And why not? The lure of a modern lifestyle – hip cafes, happening bars and a shopping mecca replete with branded icons as well as eclectic bazaars all but a stone’s throw away – make city living attractive. Plus, with choice picks of luxury condominiums that give access to all of life’s basic needs (not to mention little luxuries) not only make city living easy, but provide residents with a coveted address worthwhile of today’s global citizen.

Ampang while Kuala Lumpur City Centre is just 3 km away. Gleneagles Medical Centre also serves the area. Residents are housed near several foreign high commissions and rub shoulders with their neighbours of other exclusive, well-known condominiums such as Wickham Manor, Villa Blanca, Shahzan Court, and Lee Garden. Other than the Raintree Club, The Royal Selangor Polo Club and Royal Selangor Golf Club are a short distance away providing the perfecet alternatives to rest, relax and unwind as well as to cater to the sports enthusiast.

The Raintree Residence epitomises the trend of city living today. If exclusivity is what you are after, this development is just the thing for you. Fronting Jalan Wickham and located just across from the Raintree Club, the Raintree Residence consists of 12 exclusive freehold units. This low-rise, 5-storey development, built within the established environs of Kuala Lumpur with green foliage and well-built road networks, houses eight 4-bedroom apartments and four 5-bedroom, duplex penthouses.

Owner privacy is ensured with not one, but two lifts service to each unit and they open onto a private vestibule. True to the trend of modern day developments, the Raintree Residence is gated and guarded, with a security guardhouse and a single entry access point. Soothing landscaped gardens enclose the development, adding to the calming ambience of the surrounding greenery lining the many roads leading to the Raintree Residence. Parking poses no problems as standard units are allotted two parking bays each and the penthouse comes with four allotted parking bays.

Raintree Residence is also located within the exclusive Ampang Hilir residential and U-Thant diplomatic enclave. Nearby amenities include Ampang Park, Great Eastern Mall and Plaza

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Luxe fittings and fully-fitted interiors include homogenous marble like tiles and timber wood flooring. Sizeable wardrobes and even walk-in closets will satisfy any clothes horse with a penchant for the latest fashions. Tastefully built-in kitchen cabinets complete with kitchen hood, gas hob, oven and a dishwasher set are sure to please the inner gourmand. All the trappings of the home such as interior light fittings, ceiling fans, air-conditioners and even an Astro cable are included in each unit. The spacious living area blends seamlessly into the dining area. Cooking up a feast is a pleasure in the wide, roomy kitchen. The bedrooms are fitted with wooden flooring and are a haven after a hard day’s work. The Raintree Residence isn’t located across from the Raintree Club without a reason; each condominium comes with a Raintree Club membership should owners need to find an alternative to the common swimming pool within the condominium complex.

Sweat your cares away with friends in the two saunas or work up a sweat in the common gymnasium. Then cool off with a refreshing shower. Not up to a swim but would like a tan? Head to the sundeck and catch some R&R under the city sun. Invite some friends over and have a rousing barbeque at the barbeque deck. Visitors to the condominium complex can relax while they wait in the comfortable public lounges and waiting areas. The standard units spread across 2,176 sqft and carry a price tag of approximately RM2.2 million while the penthouse units are a sprawling 3,863 sqft and cost approximately RM4.6 million. The Raintree Residence is developed by public-listed Mulpha Land Berhad, the property arm of the Mulpha Group of Companies. The group’s focus is on real estate development cum investment, investment holding, hotels cum resort operations and trading, with operations and


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Luxe Living At The Raintree

01 Elegant fittings and natural finish style the interiors 02 Create your own ideal corner for relaxation 03 An inviting and airy dining area 04 A play of lines and space 05 Floor to ceiling windows allow for natural light to come in

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investments spread out across Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, the People’s Republic of China, Australia and Hong Kong. A committed and responsible developer, one of Mulpha’s flagship developments, Leisure Farm Resort, has won numerous property awards, including two FIABCI Malaysian Chapter awards and a CNBC Asia Property Award. Mulpha has also leveraged its expertise to become Malaysia’s largest real estate investor and developer in Australia, owning world-class assets that include Sanctuary Cove in Queensland, Norwest Business Park and The Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney, and the world-renowned and award-winning Hayman Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

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lif est y l e

Bale Equestrian and Country Club Weekends are best enjoyed with friends and family. Chilling out over drinks, or taking time to commune with nature. Your weekend does not really start until you head to Bale Equestrian and Country Club.


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Bale Equestrian and Country Club

Weekends at the Farm A delicious and wide spread of buffet breakfast awaits you to start your day. And catering to late risers, our breakfast begins from 9.00am to 11.00am, every Saturday and Sunday.

Happy Hours Unwind and relax over drinks with friends at special prices every Saturday and Sunday, from 5.00pm to 8.00pm. Enjoy the cool breeze of the country club’s spacious lobby as you enjoy your drinks with a variety of finger food.

Riding School Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned rider, our Riding School offers every opportunity for a leisure stroll or great workout on horseback. Private or group lessons are available on pony or trail rides. Lessons start from as low as RM65/per rider. Contact: Bale Equestrian and Country Club Tel: 07 556 3360

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Tres Unique Wild and wacky? Or novel and unique? From baths in hay to facials with bird poo (we kid you not!), beauty knows no boundaries when it comes to looking good.

In the world of spa, the adage “Been there, done that” seems to hold true for most of us. But does it? A look at recent introductions made to spa treatments reveal that when it comes to maintaining youth, a woman will go to all extremes for that elusive elixir. Whether it’s a dip in wine bath or milking beauty’s secrets from a bird’s nest facial, today’s spa treatments seem to lure spa goers with the wacky and zany. But look closely and you will see that today’s novel treatments are really yesterday’s beauty kitchen helpers. Consider the aforementioned bird’s nest facial found at the Spa Village of The Majestic Malacca (www.spavillage.com) in Malaysia. Malacca, the recently declared UNESCO World Heritage Site on Peninsular Malaysia, is a rich mélange of Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and Malay influences. All these cultures merge to create a fascinating and unique destination, unlike anywhere else on the globe. The Spa Village offers a variety of therapies that draw from both the Malay and Chinese heritage, particularly the unique Peranakan (Straits Chinese) culture.

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The bird’s nest facial with star fruit mask was a treatment once reserved only for the Chinese imperial palaces! In this facial mask, bird’s nest with its anti-ageing properties is combined with the vitamin-enriched star fruit to hydrate and cleanse even the most sensitive complexions. Considered the ‘Caviar of the East’, bird’s nest is the dried saliva of a species of swifts found only in the coastal caves of South-east Asia. The nutrients from the ingredients are easily absorbed into the skin, leaving it supple and glowing. “Spa culture has moved from basic treatments, such as uncomplicated facials and massages, to a growth industry where, looking to traditional healing cultures that adhere itself to today’s modern women,” explains Chik Lai Ping of Spa Village. “The ingredients may sound exotic or new, but if you examine them closely, you’ll see that these are the kinds of beauty remedies or healing treatments that generations before us have used. We’re just only now re-discovering them.” Take for example the healing power of gold. Long known for its ability to treat conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to Alzheimer’s, gold is also prized for its beneficial properties in improving the condition of the skin. Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, slept in a gold mask nightly to activate the power of gold for a youthful and fresh appearance fit for a queen. The Queen of the Ching Dynasty had gold rolled on her face everyday.


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Traditional secrets of geisha beauty have also been unlocked at Shizuka New York Day Spa (www.shizukany.com). Geishas, known for their iconic porcelain complexion of clear, unblemished skin, used to smooth powdered nightingale droppings (uguisu no fun) on their faces. This ingredient not only removed their heavy makeup but also helped brighten, heal and re-texturise the skin due to its natural enzymes and guanine. Adapting the unique ingredient to 21st-century beauty and health standards, therapists at Shizuka New York first sanitise the droppings via ultraviolet light before finely milling it to powder. This is then mixed with delicate Japanese rice bran to enhance its inherent exfoliating and lightening properties. The facial treatment is completed with a refreshing antioxidant Green Tea Collagen Mask.

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 leopatra, Queen of the Nile, used to C sleep in a gold mask 02-04 Spas invite relaxation and pampering 05 Spa Village’s bird’s nest and star fruit mask

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Elsewhere at the Spa at Charleston Place in South Carolina, US (www.charlestonplace. com), pure gold facials are being offered to pamper through its Luxe 24 Karat Gold Facial. This lavish treatment combines Japanese technology with the rich, natural healing properties of gold to deliver glowing, radiant skin. The treatment uses the purest gold available with the latest skincare advancements of Gamma PGA, Negative Ions & Ultrasonic Nano Mist technology to harness and deliver the power of gold. Skin is said to feel firmer, lighter and brighter and, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles diminished. The gold remains in the skin for up to 28 days after treatment, thus fighting off damaging free radicals to prevent premature ageing. “Gone are the days where cold creams and a massage is good enough for the spa-goer,” says an industry insider. “Anything natural or organic has the ability to transform an ordinary treatment into a luxurious treat. The best part is the benefits are all there.” Equally healing help can be found at the Caudalie Vinotherapie® Spa (www.sources-

caudalie.com) set amid the lush vines of the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte near Bordeaux, France. Almost all its treatments prominently feature grape extracts and vine products known for their curative and holistic properties. Research has confirmed that grape extracts contain high concentration of polyphenols said to be 10,000 more effective than vitamin E in fighting free radicals. At the spa, programmes using grape-based treatments lure with the promise of minimising signs of ageing, strengthening blood vessels and enhancing microcirculation. Guests soak in the Grape Marc Bath filled with finely-crushed grape extracts from the seed, skin, stalk, and pulp that provide a mild exfoliating effect. There’s also the indulgent Honey and Wine Wrap, while the Crushed Cabernet Scrub, which uses an almost edible mix of salt, honey, grape seeds, oil and grapevine flowers, promises to leave skin feeling super smooth. Even spas at 5-star resorts and hotels haven’t shied away from including exclusive yet unique treatments in their establishments. The Apuane Spa at Four Seasons Resort Punta

Mita (www.fourseasons.com/puntamita) takes full advantage of the resort’s cultural traditions and stunning location. Among the new offerings include the Hakali signature massage named for the Huichol Indian word for cactus. The massage uses two of Mexico’s most ancient ingredients, Nopal and Pulque, to relax and rejuvenate the body while improving the skin’s appearance. Nopal, the prickly pear cactus, is high in vitamin C and is recognised for both its detoxifying and hydrating properties. The Pulque, an alcohol made from the agave plant and a predecessor to modern day tequila, has antiseptic qualities useful in cleansing, detoxifying and soothing skin irritations. The treatment is a massage and body wrap in one and consists of an application of a hydrating and detoxifying Nopal-Pulque meringue through a special combination of Thai, Lymphatic Drainage, Myo-facial and Reflexology massage techniques.


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Similarly, at the Vigilius Mountain (www.vigilius. it) resort in the South of Tyrol looks to the Tyrolean mountains and the lush outdoors for its healing therapies. Guests at the spa can look forward to a dry soak in its signature hay bath. Lest you can’t keep a straight face while being enveloped in dried grass, consider this: here in the mountains that divide Italy from Austria, hay is serious business. Hay’s benefits were first discovered in the early 19th century when shepherds who slept in haystacks were found to be remarkably free from rheumatic aches and pains. Today, Italian doctors can prescribe hay as a traditional cure for ailments as diverse as arthritis, cellulite and

obesity. Its prepation is governed by science, both rigorous and methodical. Only grass harvested on certain days of the month at a certain altitude in a certain part of the Tyrol makes the grade. A hay bath is valued for its restorative powers and its circulation-boosting properties. Bizarre or blissful, these over-the top spa treatments will sure to be an experience. Here’s a tip to consider: many treatments are inspired by local healing cultures with indigenous ingredients. If you find them too exotic, skip the novelty and stick with simplicity. A spa, after all, is all about balance, tranquility and harmony.

01-03 G  rape extracts and vine products are known for their curative and holistic properties 04 A hay bath, anyone?

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lifestyle

WWF-Malaysia

WWF-Malaysia/Rahayu Zulkifli

WWF-Malaysia/Rahayu Zulkifli

Journeys with a Heart Vacationing and volunteering? ‘Voluntourism’ lets you to do more than just look.

It was 3am. Armed with a flashlight and a notepad, Emma Armstrong soon found herself lying flat on her belly, looking down into a sandy crevice, or more importantly, up the tail end of a female green turtle, as egg after soft, leathery egg came dropping down into the egg chamber. She would lay quiet, thrusting her flashlight away from the turtle so as not to disturb her while she nests. It would take an hour and half for the turtle to lay her eggs and in between that time Armstrong would help another local volunteer take measurements of the turtle and make other observations and noted them down in her notepad. Soon the female turtle began to fill back her nesting hole, flicking sand vigorously backwards with her powerful flippers in an effort to conceal her nest. As soon as the turtle made her way back to sea, Armstrong once again sprung into action. This time, she dug back the nest to count and collect the eggs, noting the numbers on her notepad. The eggs were reassembled to be transferred to the nearby turtle hatchery, keeping them safe from the many predators that would otherwise feed upon the eggs.

This has been Armstrong’s nightly pursuit since she came to Ma’ Daerah, a small coastal village in the state of Terengganu on the eastcoast of Peninsular Malaysia. But Armstrong is neither a turtle expert nor a conservationist. She is on vacation in Malaysia but opted to spend a week volunteering at the Ma’ Daerah Turtle Sanctuary Centre. She says, “I was researching on places to go and things to do while on my one month journey in Malaysia and stumbled across this turtle programme on WWF-Malaysia’s website. I jumped on the chance to do my bit for the environment and help the local community in their conservation efforts.” Just yesterday, Armstrong helped staff volunteers release turtle hatchlings into the ocean. And when she’s not patrolling the beach at night looking for turtle nestings, she drives out of the sanctuary to sun and tan in Terengganu’s other sandy beaches, meeting the locals and learning the culture. “It’s been a brilliant vacation so far!” she enthused.


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Journeys with a Heart

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Armstrong joins many other vacationers today in a trend known as ‘voluntourism’, where one combines volunteer work with their holidays. ‘Voluntourists’ say such getaways provide them with a more meaningful aspect to their holidays, apart from new experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime. These philanthropic travels or vacationing with a purpose can range in time, from the voluntourist’s entire vacation or just a day or two from it. The activities too are varied in nature. They can be as simple as collecting field data, like Armstrong, on a specific conservation project, to teaching English in an orphanage in war-torn countries. Three years ago Zuki Nguyen visited Borneo. An avid diver, she spent one week at Sipadan Island off the coast of Sabah but took time to visit an orang utan sanctuary where she “fell in love with them at first sight!” As soon as she reached home in Finland, she wasted no time in looking for ways to return to Borneo to spend time with the endangered species. Her search brought her to Way Out Experience (WOX) that runs a four-week volunteer programme at Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, Sabah’s neighbouring state. Nguyen says,” It was perfect. I couldn’t wait to start and was looking forward to the adventure!”


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Journeys with a Heart

Nguyen returned to Borneo earlier this year for the programme and loved every minute of her time in Sarawak. “A lot of people asked me about a typical day at the centre but honestly, there wasn’t any,” she laughed. As volunteers, she says, they performed animal husbandry duties, including cleaning the orang utan’s night dens and distributing and hiding their food into their outdoor enclosures to encourage them to forage – a natural behaviour. “I was a bit apprehensive in the beginning of the programme, since I’d had no experience whatsoever in working with animals. But as volunteers, you are always supervised and you’re not expected to do any of the experts’ work. We’re just there providing the centre with the ‘extra hands’ as there were just so many things happening at the sanctuary.” Jobs were also rotated so that everyone gets to experience and perform different things each day. Nguyen also had the opportunity to work in small groups monitoring orang utan behaviour. And as the centre also housed other endangered wildlife, such as sunbears,

bearcats, crocodiles, deers, and other primates that are being rehabilitated from captivity, she got the chance to work around them, too. “The hours can be long and the work tiring, but the rewards were extremely satisfying,” said Nguyen. Apart from her work at the Matang Wildlife Centre, she and other volunteers also had the opportunity to teach English and speak on wildlife conservation to local communities involved with the centre. “Meeting the locals was the highlight of my time there. It was great to be able to interact with them on a personal level, getting involved with their culture and learning the history of the people. It’s great to not just be an observer when you’re in a foreign country.” These type of do-good getaways are aplenty. A search under ‘voluntourism’ will give you thousands of hits on the Internet, and choosing the right one really depends on your interests and expectations. There are programmes offered by both non-profit organisations and travel companies, although be warned that some vacation placements are by no means cheap. But as with any business transaction, voluntourists are encouraged to ask questions before they sign up to find out where exactly their money will go to and what the programme will offer them in return.

bit of ingenuity and pre-planning on your side before you head off to the horizon. For Carolyn Wong, volunteering abroad would have been the ultimate lifetime experience. Due to work commitments and financial constraints, however, she decided against seeking a volunteer placement and instead decided to volunteer her time to help others in her own way. Last month, while vacationing in Bangkok, she got in touch with a local social service centre to ask for a list of orphanages she could visit and perhaps offer help. Among the list included a centre for 200 children ranging in ages from six months to eight years old. After enquiring from the centre’s staff of their needs, Wong packed boxes of diapers, milk powder and baby bottles and dropped them off for the residents. Of the experience, she said, “I think there comes a time in your life where you start to re-evaluate the meaning of life, or try to, and then realise that you’d like to make a difference in the world. I try not to think of the impossible things I couldn’t do. I try to do what I can and hope that what little I do can impact a person’s life somehow.”

Still, in seeking a more meaningful relationship with the world, sometimes all it takes is a little

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Luxe Bite

Luxe Bite From ancient civilisation to modern day generation, nothing spells bliss more than chocolates.

Most people’s first memory of chocolate is sweet. Whether it’s a candy bar or a praline, chocolates have entered our gastro psyche as easy as the bread we eat for breakfast. But historically, chocolates were not for the common folk. It was once reserved for royalty. The ancient American civilisation first discovered cocoa, but not as the sweet drink we know it today. Among the Mayans and Aztecs, the cacao bean would be grounded into a fine cocoa paste. To this were added water, chilli peppers, cornmeal and other ingredients. The early cocoa drink was a frothy, bitter beverage. Only the elite class drank the chocolate beverage, including warriors, as sort of a blessing before they set forth on their journey. The cacao beans used to be a currency. In fact it was one of the earliest counterfeit efforts, where one would take a cacao bean shell and filled it with mud or clay. One cacao bean could get you a tomato, an avocado cost three. The Europeans were the first to make contact with cocoa, during Spain’s conquest of Mexico in 1521. Because cocoa remained an expensive import, only noble class Spaniards

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drank it. France made chocolate a state monopoly. No one but members of the French aristocracy was allowed to drink it. When London’s first chocolate shop opened in 1657, the cocoa beverage became a popular hit, but it wasn’t cheap either. The drink was still reserved for London’s upper class and seen as a status symbol; sometimes drunk from ornate cups made of precious materials and created by artisans. While cocoa has had an illustrious 3,000 year history, it was only a century and a half ago that chocolate as we know it today came in a bar. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, invention of new machines made it possible to turn cocoa into an edible candy bar. Dutch chemist Coenraad Van Houten invented the cocoa press in 1828. This important creation squeezed out cocoa butter (leaving the powder we call cocoa) and made cocoa both more consistent and cheaper to produce. In 1847, J.S. Fry in Bristol made the first chocolate bar. By 1879, Nestlé in Switzerland was making milk chocolate bars.

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In 1893, Pennsylvania confectioner Milton S. Hershey discovered chocolate processing equipment at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He bought the machinery, built a chocolate factory and introduced the Hershey Milk Chocolate bar in 1900. In 1906, Hershey bought the town in the hills of southern Pennsylvania, and soon became “the Henry Ford of chocolate makers”. American soldiers introduced the Japanese to chocolate during World War II, where its popularity continues to rise today. Chocolates have always been included in American and Russian space flights. The Chinese eat only one bar of chocolate for every 1,000 consumed by the British. And while countries like Ghana and Ivory Coast are today’s leading cocoa producing countries, its people rarely eat chocolate because it is worth more to them as a trade product than as a food. Technology made chocolate affordable to the masses. Not only were chocolate bars introduced, but the public could enjoy

chocolate in pastries, cakes and even cereals. Interestingly, modern technology has also allowed chocolate manufacturers to turn chocolate into an artform. It used to be that there were only bittersweet, milk and white chocolate. Nowadays, chocolates have gone the way of wines, with their own distinct flavour, quality, texture, and cacao percentage. How much cacao there is in a bar determines how sweet the chocolate is. The higher the percentage, the more bitter (or dark) the chocolate is. However, chocolate percentage doesn’t tell you how good the chocolate is. For that you need to look at the more premium chocolates, called single origin. Single origin chocolates are dark chocolates whose origins are specific to a region or plantation. Quality can depend upon the soil, climate, air, and moisture that affects the growing conditions of the cocoa in a plantation. Beans from one country, one region or one single estate are different from one another.


after hours Luxe Bite

The Porcelana cacao from small plantations in Venezuela are said to have low acid levels producing a complex, full-flavoured chocolate. The Amelonado cocoa bean from the lower basins of the Amazon has a more mellow flavour. Hence this difference in cocoa beans from other regions, such as Ecuador, Ghana or Trinidad, will each bring its distinct flavour to the chocolate. Proponents and fans of single origin chocolates often say they can detect the multi-layered tastes of chocolate from different regions. Words like “finish,” “snap” and “sheen” are used to describe the differences between chocolates, and tasters may discern berry, vanilla or coffee “notes” in chocolates from different regions. If this sounds very much like wine tasting terms, you would not be wrong to assume this. Similar to wine tasting, there is now a growing trend for chocolate tasting, and it has become a profitable business. Some chocolate connoisseurs are of the opinion that single origin chocolates are better

than blended chocolates (one that is produced by mixing a variety of cocoa beans). While blended chocolates allow chocolatiers to control flavour, no one is better than the other. In fact, what is best is what you love the most. Today, chocolate’s popularity knows no boundaries. Chocolate lounges have mushroomed as much as chocolate shops, offering delectable concoctions, including the spiced chocolate drink favoured by the Aztecs and Mayans that can be found in Theobroma Chocolate Lounge. Chocolates have also made its way into many of today’s modern spas. The Hershey Spa, in the town of Hershey, makes chocolate its inspiration in many innovative treatments such as Whipped Cocoa Bath and Chocolate Bean Polish. Luscious chocolate buffets with chocolate fountains for one to dip every kind of imaginable fruit are also gaining popularity in hotels. At Sukhotai Bangkok Hotel, guests can indulge in this and all kinds of chocolate creations including Valrhona’s “Mariage de Grands Crus” Abinao, a robust African

blend that is 85 percent cocoa with a strong bitterness and powerful, lingering aftertaste. And if you’re not sure what your chocolate make-up is, let Chef Laurent Ganguillet guide you. This Swiss chocolatier, with more than 25 years of experience, claims he can match chocolate flavour to guests’ personalities saying: “I talk to them and find out things about them, and then blend the chocolate to match their mood and character.” And the last word on chocolate? It’s also good for health. Theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate, enlarges blood vessels and is used to treat high blood pressure. In addition, the fat content of chocolate is actually saturated fat – stearic acid – a unique saturated fat that does not raise blood cholesterol. So have your chocolate – it’ll do your body good.

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Hong Kong ala Carte This modern metropolis still holds some surprises for the culture vulture.


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Hong Kong ala Carte

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Hong Kong is called the New York of Asia for a reason. It’s a city that never sleeps; bustling during the day with power-suited executives and coming alive at night with fashionable partygoers. Its towering monoliths create a concrete canopy over the city, yet come alive at dusk dressed in festive lights – putting the city in a party mood all year round. Famed for its shopping and its reputation as Asia’s financial powerhouse, Hong Kong is the perfect place for the modern traveller who seeks the excitement of an urban lifestyle. Yet, this city is also a city of contrasts. Once a British colonial, Hong Kong still embraces its 150 year old colonial legacy along with its deeprooted Chinese traditions. But for those that prefer to explore Chinese yum cha culture over English high tea or, study tai chi over Sunday horseracing, Hong Kong has a number of unique Chinese experiences cleverly designed for the guest to enjoy. What makes these experiences interesting is that most allow guests to meet some of Hong Kong’s cultural connoisseurs; professionals in their respective fields that have volunteered to extend Hong Kong’s hospitality and cultural understanding to those who visit. The programmes, offered under Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Cultural Kaleidoscope – Meet the People initiative (www.discoverhongkong.com), runs year-round, with the majority of it for free!

01 Hong Kong’s famous harbour skyline 02 Ride the Duk Ling at sunset 03 Explore Hong Kong architecture for free 01

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Through the initiative, guests have discovered the other side of Hong Kong that is rarely seen and experienced; for instance the Chinese Tea Appreciation Class offered at the Lock Cha Tea Shop. Located at the north end of Hong Kong Park, a tranquil green lung in downtown Hong Kong island, the surrounds provide the perfect backdrop for one to explore the rich history of Chinese tea culture. Here, surrounded by wooden drawers of all shapes and sizes that conceal tea leaves of every varying kind, Lock Cha Tea Shop owner and tea connoisseur Mr Ip Wing-Chi offers free talks on tea and performs traditional Chinese tea ceremony. He introduces guests to teas favoured by the Chinese, from oolong to pu-erh to black tea. Guests sample the various teas prepared the traditional Chinese way, a ritual that requires knowledge and control over tea leaves, water, apparatus, temperature and time. The optimum tea experience, says Ip, is often a balance of bitter, sweet, sour and astringency, created with focused attention while attuning quantity and time. Ip conducts his tea sessions every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and they are provided free. For those interested in Oriental medicine and herbalism, they can opt for a free class offered at the Eu Yan Sang Medical Hall

The optimum tea experience, says Ip, is often a balance of bitter, sweet, sour and astringency, created with focused attention while attuning quantity and time.

on Queen’s Road Central. Conducted by Eu Yan Sang (Hong Kong) Senior Manager Kim Wu, guests learn the history and basics of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) while come face to face with the many herbs used in the field, such as ginseng, angelica root, dried berries and dried corn silk. It is an exciting journey into the realm of TCM where one also learns the concept of yin and yang in Chinese therapies. It is also a good opportunity to discover the various initiatives that go toward maintaining strict quality control over prescribing and preparing these herbs within the TCM practice. Active travellers may want to check out the Tai Chi Class conducted at the Promenade in Tsim Sha Tsui on Kowloon. Against the famous harbour skyline of Hong Kong, Master William Ng leads his ‘students’ through a series of graceful movements that border between dance and self-defence. Tai chi, also known as shadow boxing, is essentially a relaxed moving meditation that calms the mind and body, and is the perfect antidote for the hustle and bustle that is Hong Kong.


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Hong Kong ala Carte

01 Tai chi at the Promenade 02 Catch an opera performance

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Following Master Ng as he perfects one tai chi pose after another, his students learn the art of fitness that, unlike the Western’s idea, involves slow, controlled movements that improve flexibility, muscle strength, balance and health. The series of movement is almost hypnotic, and the scene is repeated every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, much to the delight of both locals and foreigners. Another of Hong Kong’s famous traditional art of self-defence is also conducted in Kowloon Park. A Kung Fu Class takes place in this open-air venue demonstrated by volunteers from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Every movement is both graceful yet aggressive, and when they are too tired to do anything else, guests are entertained with kung fu performances that include ceremonial drumming and a lion dance. Other programmes look into Hong Kong’s traditional arts and architecture. The Cantonese Opera Appreciation Class brings guests backstage to learn about this ancient stage performance. They have the chance to observe actors putting on their makeup and costume before actually catching

a performance on stage. There’s also the opportunity to walk about Hong Kong’s modern skyscrapers and encounter old buildings that have played vital roles in Hong Kong history. During the Architecture Walk through Hong Kong’s Central district, visitors will come to understand the evolution of the city through its buildings. Taking in such sights as the Central Police Station, the Fringe Club and the former French Mission building, architect hosts will point out the special characteristics that make each structure unique as well as discussing its relevant history. And what is a visit to Hong Kong without taking in the view of the famed Victoria Harbour? For only HK$50 per person, you can board the Duk Ling, a restored Chinese junk, as it makes its one-hour journey around the harbour. Riding on this Hong Kong icon is also a trip into nostalgia, as it once plied the busy harbour, bringing opium traders and taipans to settle on the island. The ride takes in the panoramic view of both Hong Kong and Kowloon. On Hong Kong island, there’s the landmark HSBC

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headquarters and the iconic Bank of China Tower. Over at the Kowloon side, the curved building façade of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre dominates the skyline. The rides take place every Thursdays and Saturdays, but visitors should try to catch the scheduled twilight ride when the harbour lights up with the Symphony of Lights performance. The show is a spectacular multimedia performance that lasts 15 minutes and begins at 8pm every night. Fourty-four buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour are bathed in lights, laser beams and searchlights that move to synchronised music. It offers a dazzling view of Hong Kong and you finally understand the buzz that has made the city a celebrity among travellers. The Cultural Kaleidoscope programme offers visitors the chance to get closer to the heartbeat of Hong Kong. Meeting with the locals and learning from their expertise let you experience and see Hong Kong as the locals do. That, perhaps, is the best form of travelling for anyone.

Images courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board.

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after hours

Have Passport Will Travel

Have Passport Will Travel Travel host Samantha Brown is the envy of many. Her global escapades in the Passport … series beamed direct into our living rooms have left us all yearning for her job, not to mention awaken our travel senses. She’s brought us Passport to Europe, Passport to Latin America, Passport to China – hosting it with wit, humour and lots of travel tips. We caught her off the road to find out what makes her tick.

Besides being a ‘Travel Goddess’ (a title bestowed upon you by an avid viewer of your show), what are some of your other hobbies?

What’s your favourite movie?

Biking, photography and wine tasting. (No, I’m not a lush. Well ... OK, maybe I am.)

Do you sing in the shower? If so, what’s your favourite band/performer or song?

From which side of the family do you get your witty humour? Have you ever thought about doing comedy yourself? Definitely from my father. He has an unbelievably dry sense of humour. My sisters and I truly felt loved when he picked on us. When I was around 12, a young boy called me and my dad got on the phone and thanked him for calling because I didn’t have many friends. I thought it was hysterical – the young boy did not. I have never seriously considered stand-up comedy because my humour comes out of reacting off other things or people. I don’t think I could generate it myself.

Cinema Paradiso. It has the best ending in a movie ever.

Yes I do, and my favourite band performer is Barry Manilow. If I’m in a good mood, it’s Can’t Smile Without You and if I’m feeling sappy, it’s Weekend in New England. What’s the coolest extra-special touch you’ve experienced at a hotel? At the Grand Floridian in Disney World, housekeeping folds your hand towels into little animals like ducks and bunnies. They then put things like your toothbrush and styling gel in them, so that when you walk into your room you have all these cute critters greeting you. It’s a very heart warming touch.

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If you could go back to Hawaii, what would you like to do or see? (She once hosted Girl Meets Hawaii) I would like to go back to Molokai. We were there for only a few days, so I wasn’t able to truly explore. It’s a much more intimate island than the others, very few tourists. There are only a few streetlights, so at night the stars are spectacular. At Molokai Ranch, they offer night mountain biking under the stars. I would love to get a chance to do that. While at home or by yourself, away from the camera, do you find that you still talk out loud?

It appears that you have an affinity for nice hotel bathrooms. Why do you love them so much, and what would you find in the ideal hotel? A great bathroom is essential to a great hotel. Lighting is key. We need lighting that makes us look and feel good. You don’t want to start the day thinking, “Boy, I look terrible.” In an ideal bathroom, I would find an extra-deep bath and a lot of counter space for all those products and vitamins. I love it when hotels incorporate drawer space under the sink; then I can store things in them so the counter remains uncluttered, and I won’t be knocking things over when I brush my teeth. One of my biggest disappointments is when the bathroom has a separate shower, but there is no shelf to put shampoo, razors, etc., so you have to keep bending down to pick the stuff up. By the time I’m done at 6am, it feels like I’ve done aerobics. Where would you build your dream vacation home? What would be special or unique about it? On the coast of Maine, in Kennebunkport or Kittery Point. It would be a traditional seacoast home with a big porch that looked out over the ocean or an inlet. It would be for friends to come and enjoy weekends together. The focus would be a big open kitchen with a long kitchen table and fireplace. If you were stranded on a tropical island, what three items would you want to have with you? Sunglasses, a good cutting knife and my boyfriend.

No, I’m by nature a very quiet person and often get quite annoyed with myself during shooting because I get so sick of hearing myself talk. So when I have a break, during shooting or at home, I just like to chill out. If you could travel back in time to any period in history, when and where would it be? Turn of the century in New York City. New York is such an unbelievable city. I would love to go back in time to when it was just beginning to show its true greatness as a world-class town. Do you eat pizza with your hands or with a knife and fork? Why would you eat pizza with a knife and fork? Do you like your Chinese food spicy or not spicy? What city has better Chinese food, New York or San Francisco? Spicy. I didn’t have the chance to eat Chinese in San Fran. New York Chinese is OK, but you really have to know where to go. There are a lot of bad Chinese restaurants out there. If you could have dinner with any three people (living or nonliving), who would you like at your table? Christiane Amanpour, the CNN war correspondent, Stevie Nicks and one of my girlfriends (so we could freak out together about who we just had dinner with).


after hours

Have Passport Will Travel

I’m by nature a very quiet person and often get quite annoyed with myself during shooting because I get so sick of hearing myself talk.

As a frequent female traveller, what’s an important tip you can offer to others? I’m on long flights a lot, so I carry a small travel care kit. It contains lotion for my hands, face cream, aspirin, lip balm, an eye mask and earplugs. I have a carry-on case that I use to prop up my feet and create my own “La-Z-Boy” reclining chair. And I always bring a freshly made sandwich from my local deli, so I can avoid airplane food. When it comes to your care kit, have two of everything. Two razors, two shampoos, two nail clippers, etc. Keep one set for home and the other for travel, so you don’t have to keep packing and unpacking it.

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lifestyle by MulphaLand Vol 2, 2008