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BAR STARS DIG DOWN Uncovering the Troas Peninsula

WINTER WONDER An unusual holiday in Ladakh

20 iconic drinking dens across the globe ISBN 978-81-920043-0-3

9 788192 004303






COVER STORY 23 The big pitcher With the holiday season upon us, 20 Time Out editors recommend iconic bars in their cities in which to enjoy a tipple. Don’t know what to order? We’ve got you covered there as well.



What’s hot

In transit

A round-up of the latest trends, events and hotel deals in India and abroad.

From designer lounges entertainment centres, get the low-down on airports across the world.

94 Mini guides We steer you through four bustling, east Asian cities – Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Bangkok.

102 Tech

112 Last laugh How not to experience Singapore.

114 Much adieu Vandana Verma on Delhi’s DIY nightlife scene.

Clever gadgets that are perfect for holiday gifting.

104 Shopping Bar accessories to entertain your guests at your next soiree









The mountain retreat’s wintry avatar has different adventures to offer.

Bird watching is a feast at this quiet town in Karnataka.






India’s southernmost tip has an abiding spirituality, despite the tourists it draws.

10 ways to make the most of New Zealand’s largest metropolis.





An insider’s guide to Kerala’s popular beach escape.

Dig into the history of the city immortalised in Homer’s The Iliad.





A glimpse of the biodiverse mountain range that’s older than the Himalayas.

Discover the cultural vibrancy of this fast-changing South American capital.





EXPLORER PAPRIKA MEDIA PVT LTD Essar House, 11 KK Marg, PO Box 7964, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai 400 034

Volume 2 Issue 2 DECEMBER 2013-JANUARY 2014 General Enquiries

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( Editor Gretchen Ferrao

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North Ritika Jain

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Printed by Rajnish Rawat and published by Rajnish Rawat on behalf of Paprika Media Pvt Ltd and printed at Print House (India) Pvt Ltd, Plot No 6, Datta Mandir Road, Bhandup (W), Mumbai 400 078, and published at Essar House, 11 KK Marg, PO Box No 7964, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai 400 034. Distributed by IBH & Paprika Connect The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for errors and omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. Published with the permission of Time Out Group, London UK.


ON THE COVER This issue’s cover features Mishka Bar, St Petersburg, that shares its name with a talking husky – a YouTube celebrity in Russia Photograph Jury Dormidoshin/ Mishka Bar *All currency conversions in the magazine use exchange rates at the time of going to print and are approximate figures. *A word about the listings. The ` symbols indicate the price bracket of a venue: ` (budget), `` (moderate), ``` (expensive) and ```` (luxury). The listings are double checked but businesses do sometimes close or change their hours and prices. It’s recommend you call before visiting.

RISE AND SHINE Time Out Explorer always has a different angle on an otherwise touristy destination. The feature that presents the idea of visiting Angkor Wat in the early morning hours, before the crowd sets an interesting take. The ancient temples are always thronging with tourists. This usually ruins the tranquillity of the experience and you leave appreciating less than you would otherwise. I have been to the temples myself, and returned feeling frazzled and unsettled. Next time around, I’m taking my cue from Explorer and visiting in the wee hours of the morning. Arya Padamsee PARADISE PLACE The hedonist in me was really excited to read the cover story about the world’s best spas. However, it turned out to be a bit of a let-down as most of the establishments mentioned were based in major metros. This goes completely against my idea of a spacation. How is one supposed to unwind in a bustling city? On the bright side, I did enrich my knowledge of exotic treatments; diamond facials and caviar polishes sound like therapies I’d enjoy greatly. Shreya Dewan

EAT, STAY, LOVE As someone born and raised in Nagpur, I have always been proud of the city’s cosmopolitan culture and its rich history (which made it heartening to read an article about my hometown). But I must confess, I have never dined at Bartania nor have I tasted Babbu’s Biryani. After reading your article on the food street at Mominpura, however, I am intent on paying these establishments a visit. Samyukta Shastri THE GREAT ESCAPE Your piece on Ananda In The Himalayas that was featured in the cover story made me want to spring up from my workstation and head to the sanctuary in the Garhwal district. The description of the destination spa was vividly inspiring. I was transported to the place in all its calming glory, while stuck amidst mundane high-rises. Natasha Arthani PICTURE PERFECT The one thing that stands out in travel magazines is the images. In your last issue, every picture was completely breathtaking. From the Vancouver feature titled ‘Thrift Drift’ to ‘High Serenity’ [Paros], each picture let me

indulge in some serious armchair travel. This issue is a keeper and will definitely find a place on my bookshelf. Anjali Rajani MEDITERRANEAN DREAM The story on Paros was according to me the most beautifully written piece in the Oct-Nov issue. As I read through as much as I wanted to be there, the imagery and the lucid writing made me feel I was already experiencing the Greek island. Of course the beautiful photos of the narrow cobblestone bylanes and the deep-sapphire sea aided my imagination and for me it is destination Greece for my next holiday. Sagarika Deo GOOD HEAVENS The Himalayas are absolutely gorgeous and were well represented in the story ‘The Lost Trek’. The vastness of the ice-clad mountains is so inviting. Away from the trials of polluted city life, this is the true heaven-on-earth. No wonder most Hindu gods always lived on mountaintops and still continue to have their temples at a height. The sun shining on the ice, the sulphur rivers – I guess mountains and rivers of gold are not a myth after all. Akshara Kamath

For information on places of Tourist Interest in India – contact Indiatourism, (Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India)123 M.K. Road, Western Railway Reservation Building, Opp. Churchgate Station, Mumbai 400 020, Tel : 022-22074333/34, E-mail :,, Website :,







Go with a bang The hottest party destinations to bring in 2014 Last year’s threatened apocalypse didn’t materialise, but that doesn’t have to stop you from dancing like the world is going to end this go around. Here’s our list of destinations – some run-of-themill, some exotic – that have great New Year celebrations planned. So let’s not hear any more talk of Goa. The biggest open-air New Year party has to be at Berlin. With live music, laser shows and excellent beers, Brandenburg Gate is the place to be when the clock starts chiming. The only hitch we see is the million other revellers who also have the same idea. For a quieter affair (actually, scratch that). For a less crowded affair, head to Madeira in Portugal. At New Year’s, the fireworks show is the largest in the world – even the guys at Guinness Records came away impressed. Although, we hear that Dubai is all fired up to break it this year. For a more cultured affair, Edinburgh is the place. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ was first sung here, and New Year’s Eve is a hearty three-day event. Carnivals, balls, garden concerts, a night long street party. Jack Kerouac obviously wouldn’t lie. So New Orleans is our top

destination to ring in 2014. Hang around Bourbon Street or the French Quarter, and there’ll be jazz in the air. For more musical options, it doesn’t get better than Cape Town. This eve, they’re hosting three extravaganzas. Besides Boomerang and Rezonance, both three-day festivals, our pick is the Electric New Year’s Eve Ball. Carl Cox will be behind the console, performing with three turntables. Closer home, Bali is a great destination. Kuta Beach is where everyone comes together for the countdown before hitting the nightclubs. A convenient place to crash is the Hard Rock Hotel, which is steps away from the action. Then there’s Dubai – 1,000 hotels, each planning an elaborate party. We recommend the one at Atlantis, The Palm. They’re hosting Sandance, a beachside music festival with Axwell, Pete Tong, Charlie XCX and others. Last but not the least, the Sydney Harbour looks its best at New Year’s. Take a boat cruise and enjoy an evening that you’ll remember forever. Or at least until the next year. Ekta Mohta

PARTY PLANNER Bali Visit the Hard Rock Hotel's website (www.bali.hardrockhotels. com) for details on their New Year's Eve bash. Berlin If the Brandenburg Gate feels too claustrophobic, try Wintergarten Varieté ( for an elegant 1920s-themed do, or Kulturbrauerei (kulturbrauerei. de) that has plans for all 15 of its dance floors. Cape Town To buy tickets for the Electric

New Year's Eve ball log on to Dubai For details on Atlantis, The Palm: +971-4426-0000. Edinburgh New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay in Scotland. Sydney For boat cruises around the harbour, log on to The torchlight procession and finale fireworks at Edinburgh





Carry on glamping For those who’d like to spend time with nature but are reluctant to part with modern comforts, luxury camping may hit the right spot A portmanteau word for glamorous camping, glamping lets you reconnect with nature without having to rough it out Bear Grylls style. You get to enjoy the great outdoors with all the creature comforts of a hotel. Choose from a variety of accommodations including tents, huts, treehouses, and even yurts if you’re looking for something more exotic. We present to you some of the best luxury camping destinations around the world.


Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Canada Hop onto a seaplane from Vancouver or take a 40-minute boat ride from the nearby village of Tofino to Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, an eco-safari destination at the mouth of the Bedwell River in the fragile Clayoquot Sound Biosphere on the scenic Vancouver Island. There are 12 luxury en

suite tents and 8 deluxe ones. Each luxury prospector-style tent is equipped with a king and queen bed, antique furniture, plush rugs, a thermostat-controlled stove and an en suite bathroom complete with plumbing and heated floors. Food is sourced locally and prepared in the 3,000-squarefoot log cookhouse with an open kitchen. For a more authentic experience, foraging trips can be arranged with the chef. There are plenty of private-guided activities to choose from: horseback riding, trekking, salmon and flyfishing, whale and bear watching, canoeing and kayaking. After all that excitement, indulge yourself at one of the spa tents or settle down with a good book at the library tent (with complimentary internet access). Open from MaySeptember each year, prices start at $6,050 CDN (`3,48,610; adults) and $3,025 CND (`1,74,305;

(Top to bottom) Indulge in a traditional Thai massage at the Four Seasons Golden Triangle; A view of Ayers rock from Longitude 131°; Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is located on the west coast of Vancouver in the fragile Clayoquot Biosphere Reserve


children) inclusive of meals and transportation between Vancouver and Clayoquot. PO Box 130, 380 Main Street, Tofino, BC, V0R 2Z0. +1-250-7268235.

couple) a night during low season and €20,000 (`16,82,568; per couple) in peak season. Via Canonici 4, 30035 Mirano. +39348-722-5577, +39-393-431-6903.

Canonici di San Marco, Italy Head to the countryside, 13km away from Venice, to the town of Mirano for some welcome respite from the city. Spread across 15,000sqm, the Canonici di San Marco Glamping Resort provides tented lodges that can comfortably house 2-6 people. A mix of iron, stone and wood, the interiors are elegantly decorated with antiques sourced from across the globe like aluminium bathtubs from England, cast-iron heaters and a gate to an old Sicilian bordello recycled from the frame of a basin. The en suite bathroom and terrace overlook wheat fields; there's a private garden too. Each lodge is equipped with a minifridge, fans or heaters depending on the season and WiFi. You get the best of both worlds here – explore 16th and 17th-century aristocratic villas along the Brenta River on cycle or make day trips to the surrounding cities of Venice, Padua, Vicenza and Verona before returning to the sanctuary of your lodge. Open all year round, it’s best to visit during warm June or in autumn. Prices start at €12,000 (`10,09,540; per

Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand At the heart of the Golden Triangle, comprising Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, is the hillside Four Seasons Tented Camp. Upon arriving at Chiang Rai International Airport, you’re greeted by a guide who takes you on a 75-minute drive through villages and rice fields. Take a short ride downriver in a traditional long tail boat along with a little history lesson, or trek through the jungle and then proceed to the camp in a fourwheel-drive. The camp hosts a maximum of 30 people at a time with 15 air-conditioned tents. Highlights include a two-person hand-hammered copper bathtub in the centre, an outdoor rain shower and a wooden hot tub on the outdoor deck. Learn how to bathe an elephant and ride like a traditional mahout before heading out for a sunrise trek. For a bit of Thai culture, cruise along the Mekong River with a private guide or visit nearby Chiang Saen. There are plenty of birding opportunities to be had with guidebooks and binoculars readily available. Open all year round, the best time to

visit is November to February when temperatures drop. A two-night package starts from THB 165,000 (`3,15,025) plus tax. PO Box 18, Chiang Saen Post Office, Chiang Rai 57150. +66-02650-2650. Longitude 131°, Australia Located at the gateway of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Nothern Territory, Longitude 131° offers a chance to experience the rugged outback with an upscale twist. The lodge includes 15 climate-controlled luxury tents set atop red sand dunes. Each pays homage to an Australian pioneer and is decked out in a mix of colonial and contemporary furniture. Guests can discover their surroundings on a guided tour which begins with a sunrise walk around the base of Uluru to learn more about the Aboriginal history and culture of the region. Watch the Walpa Gorge and Kantju Gorge transform in the light of the setting sun before heading back to the lodge to enjoy a four-course meal, in the midst of the outback under the stars, at Table 131°. Plan your trip between April and October. Prices are all inclusive, starting at $1,100 (`61,484; 2 adults) and $ 1,780 (`99,494; 2 children) per night. Yulara Drive, Yulara NT 0872. +6108-8957-7131. www.longitude131.


(Clockwise from top left) Enjoy an al fresco four-course meal at Table 131° The tented lodges at Canonici di San Marco are decorated with antiques sourced from across the globe

Grass Roots Resort, India Set on a three-acre coffee plantation, the resort lies at the foothills of the Vythiri range in Wayanad, Kerala. Stay in one of the 5 Swiss tents replete with all the amenities of a luxury hotel. Guests can dine by the stream which flows through the property at the restaurant’s outdoor seating area, and are encouraged to participate in the preparation of meals. An in-house guide will help tailor activities to meet your interests and needs. Trek through rugged mountain terrain, set off on a jungle trail (you might spot an elephant or tiger if you’re lucky) or take a stroll through paddy fields. The resort also arranges tours and excursions to surrounding areas including Gurukulam botanical sanctuary, the backwaters of Banasurasagar lake, the Nilgiris and Mysore and Coorg, as well as meetings with tribals of the region. October-May is a good time to visit. Rates begin at `5,900 including meals, plus tax. Pozhuthana Post, Wayanad District, Kerala 673575. +91-984-589-1013. Nicole Newby

WHAT’S HOT NEWS PLAN TRAVEL WEBSITE A newly launched online portal to make planning your next vacation easier Founded in the UAE in August 2007,, an online travel agency recently celebrated its launch in India. With over eight years of experience in the travel industry under their belts, the founders aim to make their website a one-stop-

shop for travel needs. It offers flights to over 3,000 destinations around the world, connections to 270 airlines and domestic and international hotel deals across more than 75,000 properties.


Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas The luxury brand promises to live up to its name with its newest beachfront property


Mandarin Oriental Uncover the cultural history of a city known primarily as a shopping and adventure destination Although Singapore is widely known for its extensive shopping opportunities and several theme parks, the Mandarin Oriental at Marina Bay gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in Singaporean culture with its Peranakan Heritage Trail offering. The package includes a trip to the Peranakan Museum which displays artefacts, crafts, clothing, jewellery and furniture of the Asian community; and a guided walk through the Spice Garden at Fort Canning Park to get acquainted

with the herbs used in traditional Nyonya cuisine. Admire the baroque architecture and early 20th-century shophouses at Katong and Joo Chiat and make a pit stop at Rumah Bebe, a boutique filled with Peranakan outfits and batiktextiles. Valid till 30 April 2014, the package is priced at S$1,214 (`60,000) per night with a minimum two-night stay. 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, Singapore 039797. +65-63380066. Singapore. ````

The Sheraton has expanded its presence in Thailand with the unveiling of the Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas in the province of Prachuap Khirikhan. The destination is home to the popular resort towns of Hua Hin and Pranburi. The property consists of 55 villas – guests can choose from Pool Villas, Pool Villa suites and Duplex Pool Villa suites. You can expect all the amenities that Sheraton is known for, including


Sunday Stays programme Get the low-down on the best weekend deals at the Big Apple First started in 2007 by NYC & Company, the Sunday Stays programme is back to encourage Sunday night stays in New York. In a city that never sleeps, Sundays are the best time for travellers to explore at their own pace. NYC & Company has put together a useful

guide to the events and activities (including Broadway shows); hotel deals and restaurant incentives for visitors to make the most of their Sunday and get the best value for their money. For more information, visit


its signature internet connectivity plan, the Link@Sheraton® experienced with Microsoft®. There’s also a shuttle service to the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa available for guests, with a kids’ club and fitness centre slated to be opened later in 2014. 9/22 Moo 5 Paknampran, Amphur Pranburi, Prachuap Khirikhan, Pran Buri 77220. +66-32-708-000. ````


Harbin Ice Festival An event that’s guaranteed


India Art Fair Multimedia installations, exhibitions, and discussions with the who’s who of the art world Art enthusiasts can look forward to the sixth edition of the India Art Fair set to take place from 30 January to 02 February at NSIC Exhibition Grounds in New Delhi. The aim is to expose local and international artists to a diverse audience by showcasing around 91 booths. The galleries involved in the fair include 47 Indian ones as well as a mix of both new and established international galleries. The highlight of this year is the Arts Project programme which will include Listen Up!, the first public sound art project to be launched in India; excerpts from artist Dayanita Singh’s File Room series and Tears of Portugal. Jose Garcia Miguel’s multi-arts installation WORD.SOUND.POWER is a collaborative exhibition by KHOJ International Artists’ Association and the Tate Modern; then there’s the VIP Programme (a collaboration with public institutions, galleries, and private art organizations) for visiting collectors and museums. There’s also the Speaker’s Forum, with a focus on visual arts, featuring speakers such as Chris Dercon (Director of the Tate Modern) and artist Li Bing. HS 37, 1st Floor, Kailash Colony Market, New Delhi 110048.

Located along the Siberian border of Northeast China, the town of Harbin, in the Heilong Jiang province hosts its annual two-month long Ice and Snow festival – one of the largest of its kind. With the Ice Lantern Festival its precursor, the event today is known for its stunning ice and snow art and sculptures replete with a combination of coloured lights and music. First-time visitors shouldn’t miss the Snow Sculpture Exposition at Sun Island Park, the architectural park at Ice and Snow World and the ice


to give you the chills

lanterns at Zhaolin Park. There are also winter-themed events and activities including sculpturemaking competitions, photo and art exhibitions, skiing and ice hockey. The theme set for this year’s

festival is ice castles and fairytales. Although on from mid-December, the official opening ceremony is held annually on 05 January. The latest edition is scheduled to continue till 28 February, 2014.


Jaipur Literature Festival The Pink City's biggest literary event is back


Sundance Film Festival Support independent cinema and interact with both newcomers and industry stalwarts The Sundance Film Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary from 16-26 January, 2014. The 10-day event, held in Salt Lake, Utah, showcases an array of independent features, short films and documentaries, having screened several critically acclaimed ones including Reservoir Dogs, Little Miss Sunshine and An Inconvenient Truth. As a result of the festival’s New Frontier

initiative, one can also look forward to media installations, multimedia performances and panel discussions with experts from across the industry. Check the official festival website for an updated list of films being screened at this edition, jury members and venues across the city. 1825 Three Kings Drive, Park City, Utah 84060. +1-435-658-3456.


The seventh edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival is all set to run from 17-21 January, 2014. As in the past, you can expect literary debates and discussions along with live music and interactive workshops. This year’s themes include conversations on India’s linguistic diversity and the survival of languages, and a series of sessions on crime and punishment, which will dissect the genre of the detective novel, Bollywood villains and the grey area between good and evil. There will also be a feminist discussion titled ‘Woman Uninterrupted’ with authors Jhumpa Lahiri and Samantha Shannon. Other expected speakers include Irrfan Khan, Mary Kom and Jerry Pinto. The festival will be held at various venues at Diggi Palace. Entry is free via registration on the official festival website.



supernatural whodunit with a wonderfully pulpy edge Paperback `245


Last word Whether you’re looking to unwind after a hectic year or jetting off to ring in the New Year, here is a round-up of 2013’s page-turners to keep you company on your journey The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman A lot happened in the eightyear gap between this and Neil Gaiman’s last adult novel, most notably profile-rocketing ventures into cinema with Stardust and Coraline. The hype could easily have sunk The Ocean…, but instead it demonstrates Gaiman’s knack for picking apart and preying on our juvenile fears. Fantasy for people who don’t read fantasy. Paperback `399; Hardcover `971.75 The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith We all know by now which literary wizard wrote this, but if she hadn’t been outed, would you have guessed? In a bid to escape the pressure of post-Potter expectation, JK Rowling hid behind pen name ‘Robert Galbraith’ for

her first foray into crime writing. It seems to have done the trick, allowing her to write this genuinely thrilling, gripping detective tale set in London. Paperback `699; Hardcover `1,336 The Universe Versus Alex Woods, Gavin Extence Being hit by a meteor at ten and having a psychic single mum makes Alex a rather unusual boy. This charming, moving story follows his unusual journey into adulthood. Paperback $11.36 (`707); Hardcover $19.62 (`1,220.50) Joyland, Stephen King Has there ever been a setting better suited to the macabre penmanship of the great Stephen King than a creaking, middleAmerica amusement park? A

The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida Written when the author was 13 (the writer is now in his twenties), this book reveals the inner experience of a boy born with a severe form of autism. Higashida was locked in a world of silence before being introduced to an alphabet grid which allowed him to spell out words and share the isolating, sometimes devastating experience of his condition. An enlightening read. Hardcover `1,073 Unseen, Karin Slaughter This fast-paced tale takes Detective Trent on an undercover mission to the Deep South, and the plot has more twists and turns than a tornado. Paperback `579; Hardcover `1,316 Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Karen Russell A collection of short stories ranging from the surreal to the really surreal, this follow-up to the American novelist’s Pulitzer Prize-


nominated novel Swamplandia! delivers everything from reincarnated American presidents to a sports tournament for sea creatures. Hardcover `918.75 One Step Too Far, Tina Seskis Haven’t we all wanted to ditch our responsibilities, change our name and run off into a new life on occasion? Emily (or is it Catherine?) takes the plunge in this smartly written thriller. Paperback $12.39 (`770.78) Big Brother, Lionel Shriver Unsurprisingly, this book by the author of We Need to Talk about Kevin isn’t brimming with sunshine. Still, there are no psychopathic teens in a story about a woman coming to terms with her brother’s life-threatening obesity. Paperback Hardcover `1,316 Bones of the Lost, Kathy Reichs Peruvian dog mummies, an airline club card and a dead teenage girl are among the unlikely elements in this rollercoaster read which sees Dr Temperance Brennan kick forensic-anthropological-ass. Paperback `548; Hardcover `1,316


No kidding Although known for its casinos, Macao has plenty on offer for families too What could children possibly find interesting on an island city whose landscape resembles a glitzy resort life much like Las Vegas, complete with casinos, shopping– the works? But Macao, a former Portuguese colony and now a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, has plenty on offer to keep your kids entertained. Situated on reclaimed land between the two islands of Coloane and Taipa, the Cotai Strip Resorts Macao comprises of not one, but four luxury hotels under literally the same roof: The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel; The Plaza Macao which features the Four Seasons Hotel Macao; and Sands Cotai Central, under whose gabled roofs lie the Conrad, Sheraton and Holiday Inn hotels. In a bid to draw attention away from the frenzy of 24/7 gambling (every hotel is equipped with a casino), which is perhaps the chief attraction here, the Cotai Strip Resorts Macao are now positioning themselves as a family entertainment destination. Newly introduced kid-friendly events and activities, duty-free shopping (from designer to high street), Venetian gondola rides right inside the hotel and speciality restaurants serving world-class cuisine ought to please the crankiest of toddlers and their parents. While we were there, we caught the shenanigans of the Harlem Globetrotters – an exhibition basketball team from the United States that mixes sport and comedy – on their You Write the Rules tour. The exhibition Dinosaurs Live let us step back 250 million years in time with 30 life-sized animatronic models of dinosaurs stomping around and roaring in an authentic jungle-like setting. There were also dinosaurthemed rides and souvenirs to buy. The DreamWorks experience As part of a collaboration between DreamWorks Animation – the

American studio behind successful franchises such as Shrek, and Madagascar – and Sands China, the holding company behind Cotai Strip Sands, children can look forward to several activities featuring their favourite characters. Every day from noon–3pm and 5–7 pm, characters like Shrek and Princess Fiona, Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda dance their way through the hotel foyers to the tune of ‘I Like to Move It Move It’. You can meet and hug them, pose for photographs and even buy soft toy versions of them. Mornings are dedicated to a unique breakfast event called ‘Shrekfast’ with the DreamWorks gang. The characters dance and entertain the kids and even come over to your table to say hello while you tuck into an elaborate English and Macanese breakfast spread. The DreamWorks Experience also includes movie premieres and screenings from the animated studio’s stables. We watched the premiere of Turbo – a very entertaining animated 3D film about a garden snail determined to be the world’s fastest snail. Macao Discovery Tour If walking around the vast confines of these luxury hotels starts to give you cabin fever, we suggest you take the shuttle that leaves from the west lobby of The Venetian

Macao and head out for the Macao Discovery Tour. The town promises plenty of sightseeing opportunities and is scattered with monuments from both its Portuguese past and Chinese heritage, such as the Ruins of St Paul’s located at the city centre. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this 17th-century cathedral was gutted by a fire in 1835 and now only a southern stone façade remains. The distinct Portuguese architecture provides a lovely old-world contrast to the rest of Macao’s glass and steel modernity. Stroll down meandering streets selling everything from perfumes to bags and shoes or make a pit stop at A-Ma, Macao’s oldest Taoist temple. Walking uphill is quite the trek, but the main praying areas are located at the foot. Do let your kids have a go at the ancient brass bowls filled with water. If Lady Luck favours you, then when you rub your hands on the bowls, the water inside will vibrate into beautiful patterns. Situated at a brisk 10-minute walk from The Venetian Macao, is the charming Taipa Village market. This quiet market area is adorned with beautifully graffitied walls and offers traditional eateries and boutiques. Here is where you can stock up on some Macao specialities such as pine nut


(Above) The DreamWorks Shrekfast spread (Top) The Venetian Macao holds family-friendly events all year round cookies, almond cakes and saltysweet dried pork strips called Bak Kwa. Don’t forget to sink your teeth into the sinful and buttery egg tart, a signature Macanese treat, which your kids are sure to love. The flaky buttery crust gives way to a sweet, vanilla scented, eggy custard inside. Amrita Bose The DreamWorks Experience Package starts at HK$1,498 (`12,000). www.sandscotaicentral. com, The writer was invited to Sands Cotai Central for the DreamWorks Experience.

The big pitcher Experience the world from the bottom of a glass across 20 iconic watering holes





Classic martini

The Connaught,

Skyfall reminded everyone how brilliant a drink the classic martini actually is – a purist combination of smooth English spirit and aromatic French vermouth. The Connaught has been mixing them to perfection for decades


The Connaught experience begins on the street outside with Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s shimmering water sculpture on Carlos Place. Glide past the doorman and you’ll be escorted by a suited staff member to one of the best bars in London, redesigned by renowned architect David Collins in 2007. Although the room retains traditional Edwardian features, it’s now atmospherically dusky in deep pastel tones. There’s an overwhelming air of opulence, but

anyone can walk into this pleasantly egalitarian bar for a drink – no bookings are taken. Although the drinks list is a joy, the ultimate Connaught cocktail is the martini, which is an accessible taste of sophistication unmatched in the city. Choose your spirit (Tanqueray 10 is a fine London dry gin), and a barman with trolley will attend your table with an ice-filled crystal decanter in which to mix the martini in front of you. A wooden display case of apothecary-

style glass bottles holds a selection of homemade bitters – liquorice, grapefruit, lavender, for example – which add intriguing notes to the concoction. The service is impeccable whether you’re A-list or no-list, and it’s good value. Carlos Place, Mayfair, London W1K 2AL. +44-020-7314-3419. Mon-Sat 4pm-1am. ``` Euan Ferguson

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO July and August are ideal and summery months to visit. Although, it’s best to carry an umbrella.

GETTING THERE With five airports, flights from India land at either Heathrow or Gatwick. There are daily, direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi and connecting routes from other cities. Heathrow is 23km and Gatwick 45km from central London. The underground connects both to the city.


GETTING AROUND The cheapest ways to travel are the tube and bus. Single fares on the underground start at £4.50 (`461). At £2.40 (`246) for all journeys, buses are obviously a cheaper option.




There's never much risk of running up an outrageous tab at Fujiya Honten in Shibuya district. Customers at this basement standing bar – a venerable boozer that was established more than 130 years ago – simply plonk down the amount of money they've budgeted for the night, and the staff deduct from it accordingly as each order arrives. It's an old-fashioned practice that seems to have died out at other less honest drinking establishments around town, but very much in keeping with the retro vibe here. Join the salarymen crowded around the open kitchen, bathe in the aroma of the deep-fat fryer and start off with a round of draught beer – at ¥450 (`275), one of the priciest things on the menu – before moving on to something stronger. While sophisticates might prefer some nihonshu (a type of rice wine), the most popular option is shochu (a distilled beverage made from rice and barley, buckwheat or sugar cane), sold in 360ml bottles with a choice of mixers. Opt for Hoppy, an oldschool beer substitute that's recently made a comeback with the office-worker sect, and which makes for a crisp, refreshing DIY cocktail. B1F, 2-3 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku 1500031, Tokyo. +81-3-3461-2128. Mon-Fri 5-9:30pm, Sat 5-8:30pm. `` James Hadfield

Fujiya Honten

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Spring (Mar-May) and autumn (Sep-Nov) are the best times to visit.

GETTING THERE Regular flights arrive at Tokyo’s Narita Airport from Mumbai and Delhi.

GETTING AROUND Tokyo is extensively connected by a rail and subway system ( 5-1am.). Buses, though not as commonly used by locals, are available at regular stops. Taxis are very expensive and generally avoided. A prepaid IC card is convenient to pay fares on the public transport system.





Hoppy and shochu A popular liquor and an old-school beer form a refreshing post-work cocktail



Non-alcoholic mulled wine An interesting mix of pomegranate and cranberry juices, berry syrup, fruits and spices, GQB’s non-alcoholic version of mulled wine is a perfect warming winter drink


Gentlemen’s Quality Bar Asia One of the most popular and distinctive bars in the Kazakh capital, Gentlemen’s Quality Bar Asia is themed to resemble an old-school men’s club. Here’s where male drinkers of refined taste go to exhibit an idealised version of Kazakh manhood – or where, perhaps, women go to laugh at it. It’s hard to tell whether this shrine to testosterone is tongue-in-cheek dandyism or a genuine throwback, but whatever the male-

chauvinist-kitsch value, the concept has been elegantly executed, with each of the bar’s many nooks and partitions rendered in sumptuous, leathery parlour-room detail. Meanwhile, the imposing drinks list has been built to impress. The bar serves a choice of over 40 cocktails, with the menu updated on a monthly basis. In autumn and winter, this is the place to find warming punches, grogs and


mulled wines but, of course, real men prefer the classics – which in Almaty means whisky. At Gentlemen’s Quality Bar Asia, you’ll find almost 200 varieties. Maybe order one as a chaser with your man-sized watermelon-strawberry juice. 248 Dostyk Street, Almaty 050020. +7-727387-0403. Sun-Thu noon-2am, Fri-Sat Noon-4am. ``-``` Kseniya Mikhailova

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO The best time to visit is during spring (midApril to late May) and autumn (mid-August to mid-October) when the climate is milder.

GETTING THERE Turkish Airlines and Air Astana fly regularly from Mumbai and Delhi to Almaty.

GETTING AROUND The city is connected by the recently developed metro system (, trams ( and buses. Taxi fares start at around KZT1,000 (`404), but be prepared to haggle. TIME OUT ALMATY (2)




04 Ray’s Bar

Plushly decorated and intimately lit, Ray’s Bar exudes Humphrey-Bogart-white-tux class in a slightly space-age setting. The bar’s perch on the 62nd floor of the chic Jumeirah At Etihad Towers hotel adds to the rarefied atmosphere; it’s perhaps the high-altitude panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf and rapidly evolving Abu Dhabi cityscape that make Ray’s an essential AD experience. The bartenders are, as you’d expect, a talented bunch, mixing drinks with confidence and flair. You’ll find they are more than willing to stir up something bespoke for you, if you engage them in a conversation about your favourite potion or preferred flavours.

Beyond cocktails, the pop-art styled drinks menu is extensive, offering champagne, wines from across the world and spirits for the less adventurous. The low lighting sets the mood, luring guests into cosy alcoves and behind velvet drapes, while a deep house soundtrack enlivens the ambience on weekends. Although it may seem like just another addition to the Emirati capital’s luxury nightlife scene, Ray’s Bar is undoubtedly in a class of its own. Level 62, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Ras Al Akhdar, PO Box 111929, Abu Dhabi. +971-2-811-5555. Daily 5pm-3am. ```-```` Anna McCormack

Abu Dhabi

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is in the winter (Nov-Jan).

GETTING THERE Airlines like Etihad Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways have flights to Abu Dhabi daily.

Jelly martini Sharp and fruity with little cubes of jelly bobbing about, the cocktail pack a powerful punch

With an efficient transport system, the emirate allows anyone to hop on and off any bus at the rate of just `37; taxi rates begin at `63 and car rentals are easy to find.








Walking Dead Based on the zombie, a potent classic, the fearsome walking dead cocktail is a triple threat with three types of rums including Bacardi 151. It's served (and then set aflame) in a giant glass skull. Bar-imposed limit: one per night

Hiding in Plain Sight On a corner in the north-eastern outskirts of the Jodenbuurt, cocktail gem Hiding in Plain Sight lives up to its name. On entry, the small ground-level bar and cramped seating area don’t seem to offer much more than the staff’s smiles. Up a flight of steps, however, a luxuriantly louche leather couch seating puts you on eye level with chalkboards full of chemistry notations above the bar. Flashes of florid wallpaper play backdrop to bookshelves and worn curiosities like an antique radio and pocket-watch motifs. Beautifully turned out staff members appear bearing water, massive fresh green Cerignola olives and mixed nuts, along with a stack of exquisite letterpress-style menus. The offering, which changes every four to five months, focuses on 16 craft cocktails, divided by mood and character. The house speciality is the Walking Dead, whose cinnamon sprinkles crackle and spark as the drink is set on fire at your table – you might find the concoction goes down a little too smoothly. The rest measure up to the same exacting standards, with house-concocted ingredients like strawberryinfused cachaça and popcorn-infused rum. If the sultry atmosphere has you craving the fresh and fizzy, opt for the HPS Mule, an Asian-influenced number that incorporates vodka, ginger beer, orange and lime juices, house-made syrup and muddled cucumber. Good to know that, whatever the weather, a sip of summer is always at hand in this boozy hideaway. Rapenburg 18, 1011 TX Amsterdam. +31-0-625293620. Mon-Thu 6pm-1am, Fri-Sat 6pm-3am. ``` Elysia Brenner



FACT FILE WHEN TO GO That would be spring (Mar-May) when the tulip fields are in full bloom. Expect many gorgeous days with everyone soaking up the sun.

GETTING THERE KLM flies direct to Amsterdam from Mumbai. Other carriers like Jet Airways and British Airways have connecting flights from major Indian metros to Amsterdam via London or Brussels.

GETTING AROUND There are trams and buses, but biking it is always recommended. Two popular bicycle rentals are Orangebike ( and Bike City (




Quimet y Quimet



The aromatised, fortified wine is infused with botanicals (roots, flowers, herbs, seeds, etc) and available in two varieties: dry and sweet. Often consumed as an aperitif, it’s also a key ingredient in cocktails like the martini and Manhattan

On Sundays, usually around midday lunch, you can spot several residents of Barcelona stopping for vermouth. ‘Fer el vermut’, loosely meaning ‘to grab a drink’, has become a ritual for many youngsters, and is a lifeline for many thirty-somethings with kids – a sedate way of bar-hopping for parents whose all-night partying days are sadly behind them. So for many (including Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, who cites it as one of his favourite places in the world), an afternoon at the legendary bodega Quimet y Quimet, in the city’s Poble Sec district, is an afternoon in heaven. Here, they craft their own beer, serve the best vermouth in the world on tap and offer customers a choice of wines that stretches from floor to ceiling. Besides the alcohol, the bar is also famous for its variety of conservas – preserved food that has been canned or jarred – with seafood like smoked salmon and mojama (salt-cured and dried tuna), a speciality. These form the key ingredients for the array of nearly 80 tapas on the menu . Having been owned by the same family for four generations, Quimet y Quimet is not just the quintessential Barcelona drinking experience, but more like the quintessential Barcelona anything experience. Poeta Cabanyes 25, Barcelona, Catalonia 08004. +34-93-442-3142. Mon-Fri noon-4pm, 7-10:30pm, Sat noon-4pm, closed August. `` Ricard Martín



FACT FILE WHEN TO GO June and September are good to beat the heat and rain. Tourist season peaks in August while September is a month filled with festivals.

GETTING THERE There are regular flights from major Indian metros. Barcelona is also directly linked via railway to major European cities including Paris, Zurich, Milan and Madrid.

GETTING AROUND The quickest way to travel is by the metro (Mon-Thu, Sun 5am-midnight; Fri 5-2am; Sat 24 hours), but buses ( 4.25am-11pm) and trams have a wider reach. A night bus service covers both the main city and suburbs (www.emt-amb. com. 10.40pm-6am). Taxi fares start at €2 (`170). A variety of travel cards are valid throughout the public transport network.







FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Hot and humid all year round, schedule a trip during the winter (Nov-Jan).

GETTING THERE Mumbai is well connected to major Indian metros by air, rail and road.

GETTING AROUND The railway system is the most efficient way to get around the city. Fares start at `5. Buses are frequent and a cost-effective way to travel short distances. Metered rickshaws and taxis are another option. Fares start at `15 and `19 respectively.

Long Island iced tea In terms of potency and the time taken to polish it off, this heady mix is the equivalent of at least three lesser drinks. Challenge accepted.




Few bars have the power to make you feel like a star. Sipping a drink on a summer evening, dazzled by the brilliant white decor, surrounded by a city slowly illuminating itself as the light fails is an experience as spectacular the fiftieth time as the first. The venue's aqua swimming pool at your toes, the sexy red rotunda bar and the decadent loungers add to the overall experience. Patrons reclining, practically lying down, on their beds and sofas creates the ultimate mesh of laid-back hedonism and urban sophistication. An evening at Dome is all your supermodel-Ferrari-Moët fantasies come alive at once, even if you’re drinking a pint of Kingfisher. A word of advice: at `375, the beer is a lousy deal. We recommend the Long Island iced tea instead. Priced at `1,400, it is very long indeed. If you’re lucky, you might visit on a day when a cricket match is scheduled at Wankhede Stadium nearby to hear the lunatic cheering of the crowd echoing in the distance. Either way, the view of cars whizzing along the street below, waves crashing against the tetrapods and the post-industrial magic of the sun setting into the smog, make Dome one of the most perfect bar experiences Mumbai has to offer. The InterContinental Marine Drive, 135 Marine Drive, Churchgate, Mumbai 400020. +91-22-3987-9999. Daily 5pm-1:30am. ```` Leo Mirani

Over the last couple of years, boutiques, art spaces and bars have been sprouting up in Mar Mikhael, making the once down-at-the-heel district an unmissable Beirut destination. For many, this Armenian neighbourhood’s charm still lies in its authenticity – a factor the owners of Anise, one of the new kids on the block, are keen to preserve. With only a discreet label above the doorbell announcing its presence, the bar feels clandestine and old world. Traditionally tiled floors, floral wallpaper and the natty uniforms of the bartenders (all cousins, by the way) make for a homely atmosphere. Anise’s speciality is, you guessed it, arak – Lebanon’s time-honoured elixir. Try one of the seven regional varieties served in traditional fashion: with a little water, ice and fresh mint. For an exotic twist, couple arak with sharab el toot – the sweet, pink syrup of Lebanon’s mulberry orchards. Alexander Flemming Street, Mar Mikhael, Beirut 1104. +961-70-977-926. Daily 6pm-1:30am. `` John Burns


Arak Popular in the Middle East, the aniseed-flavoured alcoholic spirit is traditionally diluted in water (lending it its milky colour) and accompanied by mezza, the Levantine version of tapas


08Anise FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Beirut experiences a Mediterranean climate with rainy winters. The ideal time to go is in the summer (Apr-May).

GETTING THERE Connecting flights to Beirut are available via the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Jeddah) and major European cities like Istanbul, Frankfurt and London.

GETTING AROUND The city has a reliable private bus service (www. that runs on a stop and ride system. The price of a one way ticket is usually LL1,500-2,000 (`62124). Shared taxi services ply along fixed routes with fares starting at LL2,000 (`82).





Titan martini


Shake things up with this potent mix of Ketel One vodka, Laurent-Perrier Brut NV, mint, lime and agave syrup

WHEN TO GO It’s best to visit between November and March when temperatures drop. The month of Ramadan is avoidable due to cultural restrictions.

GETTING THERE Direct flights fly to Dubai from major Indian metros. The emirate is also well connected to Sharjah (30km) via the Dubai-Sharjah highway.

GETTING AROUND Metered taxis are easily available with rates starting at 3DH (`52). Buy an NOL smartcard for electronic access to the city’s bus and metro system.




Neos is an exclusive cocktail lounge that offers the best views in town. It takes two elevators to reach this classy establishment that sits on the 63rd floor, at the dizzying top of The Address Downtown Dubai, the fifth tallest hotel in the emirate. There’s not a better place to take in the city’s glittering skyline – you could spend hours absorbing the view of the countless skyscrapers. Sitting proudly opposite is the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, while the Dubai Fountains swish and swirl way down below. But there’s more to Neos than its vantage: namely, the drinks. The bar hosts some of the hottest bartenders in town with daring creations on the list. For ambition and scale to match the view, we recommend the Titan Martini. In a city known for tasteless opulence, for lining every surface in sight with Swarovski crystals and leaked bar receipts bigger than the GDP of some nations, Neos has an understated charm. With smooth dark furnishings, slick service and a house pianist the right side of mellow, it is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike. Level 63, The Address Downtown Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, PO Box 123234, Dubai. +971-04-436-8927. dining/neos-1. Daily 6pm-2:30am. ```` Robert Garratt



Occupying the entire 32nd floor of the upscale hotel EAST is Sugar, an undeniably cool space that sells itself as a ‘bar + deck + lounge’. To the north are the bright lights of Kwun Tong, with the vista swinging uninterrupted to the North Point skyline in the west, and out over the island’s often building-obstructed east. From the outdoor deck, you see Quarry Bay extend toward Tai Tam Country Park. The bar’s interior has been smartly designed to maximise views. Sugar feels casual by day and like a sexy futuristic capsule saturated with jazzy house beats by night. Drinking options, as you’d expect from a firstrate hotel bar, are both abundant and excellent,


Eastern Winter Punch This fruity cocktail comes with a splash of Jamesons Irish Whiskey to keep winter chills at bay

Hong Kong

particularly when it comes to cocktails. Unlike many hotel bars in its category, they’re not wincingly expensive. The Forest Sour (a vodka, crème de mure, grapes, lemon, strawberry and maple syrup cocktail) is recommended – it’s impressively fresh, balanced and distinctive. But for the superlative Hong Kong drinking experience, it has to be the Eastern Winter Punch, sipped out on the deck, having raised a subtle toast to the sunset. 32/F, EAST Hotel, 29 Taikoo Shing Rd, Island East, Hong Kong 999077. +852-3968-3738. Mon-Sat 5pm-2am, Sun noon-midnight. ``-``` Mark Tjhung

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Being cooler and drier, the period between October and December is preferred.

GETTING THERE Most major Indian metros are directly connected via air to Hong Kong. The city is linked to Macau and Mainland China via ferry services.

GETTING AROUND The Mass Transit Railway ( hk) is most efficient. The city is also well connected by tram (www.hktramways. com) and a public bus service. An Octopus smartcard ( is ideal for easy electronic access to the public transport system. Taxis are colour coded by route: red (across Hong Kong), green (select new territories). Fares ( hk) vary accordingly.






A colourful restaurant and bar housed in a colonialera shophouse, Palate Palette is understated but cool. As its name suggests, it attracts a variegated creative crowd – artists, performers and the city’s culturati – but manages to be neither pretentious nor intimidating. The interior complements its artistic inclination with whimsical murals, merry-go-round horses and mismatched furniture. The upper level often hosts independent film screenings, as well as LGBT and music events (Palate Palette is one of KL's very few venues to hold regular dubstep and reggae nights); while its outdoor seating welcomes pets. Much like its food and drinks menu, the bar's choice of entertainment is inventive – past programmes have included body artists and buskers. But its big draw is the creativity that goes on behind the counter. If you’ve anaesthetised your tongue with our Oh Boi recommendation, wake it up again with the fiery Cili Padi Passion Martini – a spicy take on the cocktail. 21 Jalan Mesui, off Jalan Nagasari, Kuala Lumpur 50200. +60-3-2142-2148. Tue-Thu, Sun 12pm-12am, Fri-Sat 12pm-2am. `` Lim Chee Wah

Kuala Lumpur



Palate Palette

Oh Boi Blended Calamansi lime juice, infused with a jaw-numbingly sour preserved plum and a shot of rum, turns this KL coffee shop staple into an alcoholic thirst quencher

WHEN TO GO It rains throughout the year in Kuala Lumpur with temperatures ranging from 21°C to 33°C. Avoid the wettest periods – March to April and September to November.

GETTING THERE Several airlines have direct

flights to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, about 50km south of the city, in the Sepang district of Selangor.

GETTING AROUND The rail system, while incredibly well connected, can be confusing with its various lines that have their own operational services and

ticketing systems. Taxis are the best, although not the fastest way to get around. Insist on travelling as per the meter with Premier fares starting at RM6 (`115) and budget fares at RM3 (`58).





12 230 New York




Between May and September is the best time, but be warned, it can be humid enough that you wish the skies would open up.

The subway may be crowded but it’s the easiest way to get around. A recently launched bike share programme is another option, though only if you plan to restrict yourself to the part of Manhattan that's below 59th Street (

GETTING THERE Connecting flights to New York are available via London, Brussels or Amsterdam. Jet Airways, Swiss Air, Qatar Airways and Etihad have one-stop options.

Raspberry mojito A refreshing concoction of raspberry, fresh mint, lime and vodka syrup, sure to kickstart a heady evening



It’s hard to go wrong with a rooftop bar in New York City, especially one with a perch right across the Empire State Building. Housed in an office property, the seemingly plain lobby does little to prepare one for the scene on the 20th floor. With 360 degree unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline, 230 Fifth is designed to impress. The 8,000-square-foot glass-walled Penthouse Lounge is furnished with plush maroon sofas and white curtains. Purple fluorescent lighting and the DJ’s selection of popular hits set the mood on the dance floor here. Those looking for a cosy sit-down can head to the openair deck that's dotted with palm trees and an array of wooden benches and sturdy garden chairs. An efficient heating system ensures you’re never cold – even in skimpy club wear. And on the off chance that you are, there are warm red robes slung on chairs. Entrees like the all beef sliders and chicken parmesan hero are served till midnight, after which it’s only desserts and drinks. Strawberry mimosas, Cristal, Louis Roederer champagne or White Peach martinis, are just some of the delights to sip on. Once you’re sufficiently sozzled, you might want to step into the photo booth ($1) – a few memory triggers for the morning after. On Saturday nights, the club teems with New Yorkers and tourists alike, but the space is large enough to accommodate most who drop by without a reservation – that is if you make the cut. 230 Fifth Avenue, 27th St on 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10001. +1-212-725-4300. Daily, 4pm-4am. Brunch Sat-Sun, 10am-4pm. ```. Zahra Amiruddin




Bar Americano Well, damned if this isn’t the sharpest tiny drinking den Melbourne’s ever seen. There are three seats at the bar (there’s no room for any more) and about enough space for ten more people who don’t use their elbows much to squash in and lean against the slender wooden ledge that runs along the room. First come, first served; no exceptions. There’s a toilet, but only just, and you get the feeling that if they could’ve added a couple of extra metres to the room and had people relieve themselves outside Barcelonastyle, it would’ve happened. But we digress. Bar Americano, if you can get in, is Melbourne’s definitive small bar. It is a

With Campari, a sweet vermouth and a splash of soda, the Americano is Melbourne in a nutshell


beautiful place with black-and-white tiles on the floor, lots of polished wood and an idiosyncratic back bar on which the bartenders refuse to stock vodka. A proper Italian-style joint, where you can get an Americano (as in a long black) and an ‘Americano’ (as in the classic cocktail). The short cocktail list is displayed on a felt pinboard, complete with vintage white lettering. Go late or go early and don’t take your mum – this one’s for the staunch of heart who don’t mind the wait. 20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne VIC 3000 +6103-9428-0055. Daily 8:30am-1am. `` Myffy Rigby

FACT FILE Autumn (Mar-May) and spring (Sep-Nov) is the best time to visit.

one or two stopovers, from major Indian metros.

GETTING AROUND GETTING THERE Airlines like Qantas and Cathy Pacific have routes, with

The railway system covers both the city and its suburbs. Trams are a scenic way to explore

while buses run to all major destinations. Buy a myki card for electronic access to public transport (







14 Pour Vous

Los Angeles

An evening at Pour Vous is an immersion in a sepia-toned, jazz-age Parisian salon – it’s also one of the classiest cocktail outings in Tinseltown. Bring a date and grab a seat near the fireplace before 10pm when the bar gets packed. It’ll soon be standing room only when unexpectedly a burlesque bewitching hour descends (literally) upon the crowd. Reservations are encouraged but not necessary for a small group dressed in proper cocktail attire – the only way you’re getting in. A strict dress code is enforced, the details of which are posted on their site and reiterated on a plaque at the entrance. Inside, blue and amber theatrical lighting illuminate various corners of a parlour-style room. The central fixture is a cosy fireplace that gives way to circular, cafe seating under a dome that could be construed as a miniature version of the Grand Palais. An exemplary team of mixologists may surprise you with an aperitif not on the menu, such as Floc de Gascogne, a vin de liqueur fortified with Armagnac. The cocktail list is simplified to feature both tried-and-true staples and some ingeniously experimental concoctions. The beautiful and the damned should try Le Samourai, a deadly mix of Armagnac, framboise, rhubarb and umami. Pour Vous, 5574 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles CA 90038 . +1-323-871-8699. www. Tue-Sat 8pm-2am. `` Jonathan Cristaldi

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Other than January and February, it’s always sunny in LA.


Brandy Sour With D'usse cognac, lemon juice, fine sugar, egg white and angostura bitters garnished with an orange peel for flourish, this signature drink is a well-balanced one to get you in the mood in time for the holidays



Several airlines have flights from India to California’s Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) via three major routes (Europe, Pacific Ocean and Middle East).


GETTING AROUND Public transport is efficient in LA. Trains are another option(fares start at $1.50 (`82) and a daily pass is available) or rent a car (www.budgetrentacarlax. com), pedal about or just walk around.


Mishka Bar It may share its name with an LOLdog (Mishka the talking husky is a Russian internet phenomenon), but Mishka has been a sensation since it opened and has become an indispensable stopping-off point for St Petersburg’s young and trendy on weekend evenings. It’s the chosen destination for both shot lovers and connoisseurs of quality music – world-class DJs are often on the bill – as well as the odd face who locals will know from TV and the gossip columns. The music policy is nicely democratic nevertheless, and the PA system is open to anyone who wants to share tracks from their iPods and good humour with other guests. Hard bartenders offer you Kinder surprises and excellent sandwiches with a broadest smile here, and the cocktails come decorated with jelly bears. Current top of the shots for the St Pete’s cognoscenti is a Mai Thai – downed by the dozen on weekend evenings. After a few of those, the huge colourful bull mosaic that dominates the decor can take on an alarming psychedelic, sometimes, animated aspect. The place is transformed by the light of day, when it becomes a zone of calm rather than chaos. Salads, toasted sandwiches and croissants are served accompanied by flavoured cocoa or cider – it’s two quintessentially St Petersburg experiences rolled into one. Naberezhnaya Reki Fontanki 40, St Petersburg 191025. +7-812-643-2550. Daily noon-2am.`-`` Kovalchuk Taras

St Petersburg



WHEN TO GO Tourist season peaks in summer (JunJul) when Russia experiences ‘White Nights’ where the sun doesn’t fully set. Autumn (Sep-Oct) and winter (NovMar) promise pretty scenery and fewer tourists.

GETTING THERE Flights to St Petersburg are available from Goa with two or three stopovers. You can also board a plane to Moscow from Mumbai or Delhi. Both fast and overnight trains run between Leningradsky Station, Moscow and Moskovsky station, St Petersburg.

GETTING AROUND The intercity Metro operates between 5:45am and 12:15am. Tokens can be purchased at cashier counters or vending machines at each station. Children under 7 can travel for free. The city is also well-connected by a system of trams and government buses. You may pay in cash or purchase a travel card. Privately-run buses (indicated by the letter K on the front) accept cash only.




Brave Russia's icy nights like a local with this shot of vodka and Amaretto




Shaoxing Cavalry An inventive spin on the Manhattan, Chivas's 12-yearold blend replaces bourbon here. It's tempered with wolfberry-infused Shaoxing rice wine and orange bitters

16 Yuan


Yuan is at the forefront of a new chapter in Shanghai’s drinking culture. In an interview with Time Out Shanghai in 2011, George Nemec, a well-known bartender who is widely credited as one of the early architects of the city’s drinking scene said his ultimate goal was to see Shanghai’s bar culture more selfsufficient and less reliant on foreign talent – either Western or Japanese – that is behind many of the better bars in town. In many ways, Yuan is that ideal scenario realised. Behind the bar is an all-Chinese line-up of bartending talent, including local legend Ted He. It is also one of the first experimental bars in town to successfully riff classics with Chinese ingredients and render cocktails that are actually drinkable. One of the signatures here is the Shaoxing Cavalry. Essentially a reimagining of the Manhattan, it’s served in old-style Qing Dynasty pottery and tops the list of one of the most inventive, Sino-centric cocktail menus in town. 17-2 Xiangyang Bei Lu, Jingan District, Shanghai 200040. +86-21-6433-0538. Mon-Sat 5pm-1am. ` Alexander Barlow

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Spring from March to mid-May and autumn from September to November are the best times to visit.

GETTING THERE There are flights from all major cities to Shanghai on Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, etc.

GETTING AROUND Shanghai has an efficient public transport system with trains, buses and taxis.





Tourists may charge to Raffles Hotel to venerate the Singapore Sling, but for a slightly less 19thcentury, more up-to-date Singapore drinking experience, head for an a la carte cocktail atop the Odeon Towers in downtown CBD (Central Business District). The revamped Loof bills itself as the city’s first standalone rooftop bar – the name references the idiosyncrasies of local culture (particularly Singlish) – and in its new incarnation, it turns the spotlight on local flavours. There’s a strong menu of South-East Asian-driven food and cocktails, conducive of a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Great for a post-work tipple, its a chance to sit back and enjoy an excellent view of the surrounding area. Among the bespoke drink choices, created by Loof manager Aaron Tan and mixologist Ken Loon, our hero is the Singapore Sour, one of their menu's Asian Sensations, featuring locally sourced ingredients like calamansi juice and a sour plum syrup – perfect for the open-air tropical weather and one of the few drinks in town to utilise the sour plum, found in supermarkets all around town. Third Floor, Odeon Towers, 331 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 188720. +65-9773-9304. Mon-Thu 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-3am. ``-``` Berwin Song

With calamansi juice, vodka, soda and a sour plum syrup, plus an actual sour plum dropped into the mix, the drink manages to pull off sour, salty, sweet and refreshing all at once

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Any time would be good but avoid the peak tourist season from December to February during which the hotels will be maxed out.

GETTING THERE Air India, Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways have direct flights from the major cities. Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Coimbatore have connecting flights to Singapore on SilkAir.

GETTING AROUND The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train system is probably the cleanest and fastest way to get around Singapore besides taxis. You can purchase a NETS Flashpay Card (`600) which can be easily topped up. Buses are cheap, clean and air conditioned.



LOOF (2)


Singapore Sour



Over one metric ton of apples are bought each week and juiced in-house to meet the demand for this popular local brew

Baxter Inn That queue of people rolling out of a dark, nondescript laneway on Clarence Street is for Baxter Inn – a candlelit basement bar with thick carpet, jazz and blues music and toilets that have some of the best acoustics in town. It’s kind of modelled on an old-school American Irish sports bar, only with no sport and much better whisky. The best cocktails at Baxter Inn may be their Negroni on tap, their Salty Dog or their Old Pal but if you want a true Sydney experience in a quintessentially Sydney bar, you order a local beer and a whisky chaser – the bar stocks over 600 of them. We’re not kidding about those acoustics, by the way – the tiled-and-wood-panelled bathrooms are each equipped with their own PA. They sound so


Whisky and apple



good and are so nice, we’re almost tempted to set up camp in there. There are tables and chairs dotted around the room (which takes around 140 drinkers) as well as little rests lining the brick pillars for your drinks, but it’s all about stalking around the bar. Cocktails are reliably awesome but not the focus here. There’s a short list at the front of the book, with a few favourites (South Sides, Americanos, Tommy’s Margaritas, Gibsons) and the guys will make you just about anything you ask for. There is beer on tap and Negronis, too, so be sure to stay until closing, when the bell rings and things get crazy. 156 Clarence Street, Sydney NSW 2000. www. Mon-Sat 4pm-1am. ``-``` Myffy Rigby

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Sydney boasts good weather throughout the year. Tourist season falls in summer (Jan-Apr). Prices are generally cheaper during off-season in winter (Jun-Sep).

GETTING THERE Sydney is connected to major Indian cities by airlines like Quantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Air India.

GETTING AROUND The Sydney light rail (6am-midnight) is an efficient way to travel. NSW trains are frequent and connect the city to the rest of Australia. Buses run 24/7 with tickets outlets at bus stops. The minimum taxi fare is $2.80 (`160) and then $1.62 (`93) per kilometre. A MyMulti Day Pass ensures convenient access to public transport.



Less than 50 feet from one of the trafficchoked arteries of São Paulo, you’ll find Rua Conceição Veloso, a quiet residential street that is home to one of the city’s best-loved botecos – the low-key bars at the heart of the city’s democratic food and drink culture. In the not-quite-sleepy suburb of Vila Mariana, Veloso is no secret. The establishment’s dozen or so tables squeezed into its compact, brightly lit interior are always packed, so expect to wait for a seat, or else join the throng – a casually attired crowd of all ages and social strata – standing, chatting and grazing on the pavement. Waiters in white shirts and bow ties glide through the crowds with carefully balanced trays of chope – small

Sao Paulo

glasses of ice-cold draught beer. The real draw, though, is Veloso’s caipirinhas. The classic Brazilian concoction of cachaça, sugar, lime and ice is given an injection of Sao Paulo’s creative spirit with weird and wonderful fruit combinations. To eat? The bolinho de camarão cremoso – a big juicy prawn, covered in creamy Catupiry cheese and manioc mash, and deep fried – will complete your São Paulo sensory induction. Rua Conceição Veloso 56, Vila Mariana, São Paulo 04110-120. +55-11-5572-0254. Tue-Fri 5:30pm12.30am, Sat 12:45pm-12:30am, Sun 4-11pm. `-``. Catherine Balston



GETTING AROUND São Paulo is known for its horrendous traffic conditions so driving isn’t recommended. The bus service, though wellconnected, tends to be slow

and crowded. The metro is cheap, fast and safe. A single ticket costs `80, but you can purchase a Bilhete Único, a smartcard that can be used at major bus and train stations. Alternatively, Radio Taxis (+55-11-2511733) are a reliable choice. They offer city tours for a fixed rate and many Englishspeaking drivers.

Caipirinha For a twist on Brazil's national cocktail, try combos like tangerine with chilli and star fruit with basil



Airlines such as Emirates, British Airways, Qatar Airways, KLM and Lufthansa have connecting flights to

Guarulhos International Airport. Once there, you can avail the airport bus to get to the Tietê metro station that provides access to the second largest bus terminal in the world.



To avoid the heat and humidity, visit between September and March. Also held in early March is Carnival São Paulo that goes on for five days and marks the beginning of Lent. FIFA World Cup 2014 will also kick off in the city on June 12.




Aged in oak barrels, this is a rare wine from Saint-Émilion, one of the most prestigious appellation d'origine contrôlée in the Bordeaux region


1989 Château Angélus


A superb little wine bar just around the corner from the Aligre market, Le Baron Rouge often welcomes hungry refugees at stall closing time. It’s no pompous den for snooty oenophiles, but rather an amiably down-to-earth working class hangout, where drinking is a pleasure and the evening is to be enjoyed, often raucously. The tiny room is welcoming and atmospheric, its walls invisible behind rows and rows of bottles, and any spare space filled with wine casks stacked from floor to ceiling. Those in the know bring their empties to refill – it’s cheaper than buying a new bottle, though you can do that as well, from an excellent selection. During the week – beware of the crowded after-work apéro hour – along with pretty much everybody else, you’ll be stuck with drinking on the pavement. Food-wise, come on Sundays for oysters with Sancerre, or stick to a charcuterie board accompanied by a good robust red. 1 rue Théophile Roussel, 12th arrondissement, Paris 75012. +3301-4343-1432. Tue-Fri 10am-3pm, 5-10pm, Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-4pm. ``-``` Camille Griffoulieres

Le Baron Rouge



Flights to Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly airport are available from Mumbai and Delhi. Paris is also connected by rail to major European cities like London, Vienna and Rome.

Daily 6-12.30am.) is the most efficient way to travel. Buses (7am-8.30pm) are a great way to discover the city – the Noctilien (12.30-5.30am) runs throughout the night and the Balabus runs from April-Sept on a special sightseeing route across the city. Taxis are available across the city at varying fares. Purchase a Paris Transport travel card for unrestricted access to the public transport system.



The metro (

Peak tourist season is during the months of June-Aug. However, you’ll find the city at its best during spring (April-May) and autumn (Sept-Oct).





SOUTHERN COMFORT Well-trodden tourist spots, rediscovered. A birding adventure in an otherwise nondescript industrial town. A rendezvous with the diverse inhabitants of the lush Western Ghats. Plus, a winter break in snowy Ladakh.







In an unassuming town deep in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, Lakshmi Sharath discovers a birdwatcher’s paradise




t was a seamless spread of blue that greeted me. A faint glare from the morning sun covered the small islands that mushroomed in the waters. The hills slowly emerged from the haze, the ridges forming an outline in the distant horizon. I stood at the edge of the road taking in the scene. I was in Ganeshgudi – a quiet, nondescript town lost somewhere amidst the Western Ghats near the banks of the Kali River. It had no tourist tag attached to it; neither was there a wildlife sanctuary nor a hill station to boast of. No beaches or temples either. Its only claim to fame was that it houses the Supa Dam, built over the Kali River in the ’70s. The town itself is mostly inhabited by employees of the power station which was commissioned in 1985. To many a wildlife enthusiast, Ganeshgudi is just another town


(Clockwise from facing page) The Malabar pied hornbill Birders photographing birds at Jungle Lodge and Resorts, Ganeshgudi


Common kingfishers have whirring wing beats and highpitched vocalisations


When to go The best time to visit is during winter which lasts from October to February. Getting there Ganeshgudi is approximately 500km from Bangalore. The nearest rail head is Londa, about 30km away. It is a three-hour drive (115km) from the nearest international airport at Dabolim, Goa. Getting around You can either bring your own vehicle or hire a taxi at Londa. Most resorts also provide car rental services with pick-ups from the railway station. Tourist information www.karnatakatourism. org,

a female thrush as well – the pair seemed to be engaged in an interesting conversation. The thrushes were not the only thirsty lot. We soon saw a line of birds waiting their turn. A lone Tickell’s blue flycatcher seemed rather impatient, and quickly vanished into the foliage after a sip or two. It was soon followed by the white-bellied blue flycatcher, an Asian fairy-bluebird sitting on a branch, as well as a verditer flycatcher in its feathered coat. It was indeed a day of flycatchers and they came in various shades of blue. The names of the birds matched their vibrant hues: the emerald dove, scarlet minivet and ruby-throated bulbul. Every colour stood out against the muddy ochre background. A Malabar whistling thrush came out of


(Clockwise from bottom right) An Asian paradise flycatcher feeding its offspring

nowhere, trilling away like a happygo-lucky schoolboy. His shimmering dark-blue coat glistened in the sun as he dipped into the bowl for a little bath. The other birds flew into the woods, giving him some privacy. With a camera in one hand and binoculars in the other, my breakfast remained untouched. While you can hire the services of one of the lodge guides, it isn’t necessary. The winged creatures are all over the place and with a little observation, even a novice birdwatcher is sure to luck out. Just make sure you are equipped with a pair of binoculars and a guidebook on the birds of the region. We walked around the woody environs craning our necks in



on the way to Dandeli that’s home to the Anshi National Park and Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. But, this biodiversity hotspot is Karnataka’s best kept secret as it is home to several endemic species of birds and we were here to meet some of them. We drove down State Highway 34, a road devoid of vehicles; not a soul in sight. It was only us and the dense vegetation around. The birds had begun singing their odes to the morning sun. A while later, we checked into a rustic guest house with an unusual name, the Old Magazine House that’s part of the Jungle Lodges & Resorts (JLR) group. Set within a reserve forest at an altitude of 1,800ft, the property is shaded by a canopy of deciduous trees, so dense that I could only see patches of sky through the leaves. I was told that this was once an ammunition dump used to store dynamite, probably during the construction of the dam, and it added to Ganeshgudi’s old-world charm. Sitting down to a breakfast outdoors, we observed the birds quickly quench their thirst at the bowls of water placed amongst the bushes. Our first visitor was a brilliantly hued blue-capped rock thrush in a dazzling coat of orange, flitting around, not in the least worried about our presence. Its colours did not just attract our attention but

Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi The view of the Kali River from Sunset Point, Ganeshgudi A male ruby-throated hummingbird






The scientific name of the Asian paradise flycatcher is Terpsiphone paradisi meaning ‘sweet-voice of paradise’

anticipation of more spottings. The beak of the Indian grey hornbill peeped out from the foliage. I sat for a while and watched the multihued Indian pitta shyly walking around. The bird of the day, however, was the Asian paradise flycatcher, swishing its white tail, doing a bit of a jig, hopping around from one branch to another. It is considered lucky to spot this elusive bird that’s usually perched high up in the trees. But here it was, parading before us. We barely noticed the sun striding across the sky with the dense forest cover above. As evening approached,

we drove around Ganeshgudi. A detour took us through the forest where the Kali flowed, reflecting the greens and yellows of trees. A contemplative boatman there was only too eager to take us around. The silence rung in our ears as we bobbed along. Even the birds had gone quiet. Ganeshgudi’s secret had been discovered by them years ago and they had successfully managed to keep this pristine spot away from noisy tourists. A whitethroated kingfisher looked keenly for its evening meal while we floated about. The sun finally set and we wandered on into the twilight.

FACT FILE AT A GLANCE A part of the Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka, Ganeshgudi is a quiet town on the banks of the Kali River. It is surrounded by dense foliage and rich fauna, and is a lesser-known haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.

EXPLORE Built across the Kali

River, the Supa Dam is located about 2km from Ganeshgudi and generates power for various parts of the state. Its backwaters offer serene views of the landscape along with plenty of birdwatching opportunities. Head to the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary (Solad Complex, JN Rd, Dandeli, Karnataka 581325.

+91-82- 8423-3721. Daily 6am-6pm.) for a glimpse of the black panther, sambhar, Malabar flying squirrel and the Malabar pied hornbill. Adjacent to the sanctuary is Anshi National Park which is situated in an endangered part of the Western Ghats and home to a variety of flora and fauna including teak and silver oak trees and

animals like pythons, leopards and the Malabar civet cat. Together they make up the DandeliAnshi Tiger Reserve, covering an area of about 875sq km protected under Project Tiger.

EAT Stay in an ethnic bamboo hut or a dormitory at Old Magazine House (Near Supa

Dam, Uttara Kannada District, Ganeshgudi, Karnataka 581325. +91-80-4055-4055. old-magazine-house. `), an erstwhile ammunition dump which has been converted into a wildlife resort. Birding enthusiasts can explore the surrounding woods. The resort also organises white-water rafting trips,


coracle rides and treks. At the Hornbill River Resort (Near Supa Dam, State Highway 34, Joida Taluka, Ganeshgudi, Karnataka 581365. +91-98806-83323. www. ``), you can choose to camp in a tent or stay in a cottage, tree house or rock house, and enjoy adventure sports like white-water rafting.



land’s end

Despite having been rapidly encroached upon by the tourism industry, Kanyakumari has managed to retain its mythical allure, observes Ayan Ghosh 50 – TIME OUT EXPLORER – DECEMBER 2013-JANUARY 2014




(Opening page) The Thiruvalluvar Statue is a 133 foot tall stone sculpture of Tamil poet and saint Tiruvalluvar (Clockwise from bottom)In 1979, the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai laid the foundation stone for the Vivekananda Rock Memorial A pilgrim in worship at the Giant Statue Of Thiruvalluvar

here is another place called Comari at which are the Cape of Comari and a harbour; hither come those men who wish to consecrate themselves for the rest of their lives, and bathe and dwell in celibacy; and women also do the same; for it is told that a goddess



A devotee of Devi Kanya Kumari

once dwelt here and bathed.’ – Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, mid1st-century CE Even two thousand years ago, Kanyakumari was renowned throughout the ancient world as a destination for holy men seeking penance and celibacy. The Cape was always considered sacred geography – land’s end – where peninsular India merged with

the three great waterbodies: the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. The site of two Shakti Peethas (devotional sites dedicated to the goddess Shakti), this is a region of great religious significance. In Hindu mythology, the suicide of Sati, a consort of Lord Shiva, angered him so much that he was on the verge of destroying the cosmic universe. Lord Vishnu Each week, the intercepted and legendary Himsagar dismembered Sati’s Express traverses the body into 51 pieces. length of the country The Shakti Peethas from Kanyakumari are the sites where these to Jammu Tawi severed parts are said to have fallen from heaven to earth. It is believed that part of Sati’s backbone fell at Kanyakumari and her upper teeth fell 11km away at Suchindrum. Legend has it that Kanya, an avatar of Parvati, was to marry Lord Shiva who failed to show up on his wedding day. Dejected, the young girl chose to be a sanyasin (nun) forever and did penance. Kanya Devi is now considered a virgin goddess, or a kumari, who blesses pilgrims that visit her temple. Till very recently Kanyakumari was a sleepy fishing village with its famous temple and a few monasteries. Its rise as a popular tourist destination is largely a result of the construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in the early 1970s. The memorial commemorates Swami Vivekananda’s three-day-long solitary meditation on a rock in the sea in December 1892. The monk’s visit here, after the death of his teacher Ramakrishna Paramhans, was part of an all-India tour to collect funds for his impending visit to Chicago to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893. Later he wrote of his Kanyakumari visit, ‘At Cape Comorin sitting in Mother Kumari’s temple, sitting on the last bit of Indian rock – I hit upon a plan: We are so many sanyasis wandering about, and teaching the people metaphysics – it is all madness. Did not our Gurudeva use to say, “An empty stomach is no good for religion?” We as a nation have lost our individuality and that is the cause of all mischief in India. We have to raise the masses.’ Though Vivekananda died in 1902,




FYI When to go The best time to visit is during winter between November and February. Summers are blistering hot and humid. Avoid the crowds during the summer holidays (Apr-May) and Durga Puja (Sept-Oct). Getting there Kanyakumari is linked directly by train to most major Indian cities. The nearest airport is at Trivandrum, 90km away. The towns of Kanyakumari and Nagercoil are connected to several cities in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bangalore and Tirupati by government and private bus services. Getting around The town centre is compact and easily covered on foot or by autorickshaw. Government buses run regularly to all significant places of interest in and around Kanyakumari. Private day tours or hired taxis can also be arranged for by hotels and tour agencies. Tourist information,

Before becoming a pilgrimage site, Kanyakumari was a quiet fishing village


the masses of India did rise under Mahatma Gandhi – another leader who visited Kanyakumari in 1937 and whose ashes were immersed here. However, a visit to the ‘last bit of Indian rock’ now is a far cry from the isolation and tranquillity Vivekananda would have experienced in 1892. The memorial is now a magnet for daily hordes of tourists and pilgrims. Ferries run around the clock from the mainland to the rock every 20 minutes. On holidays or weekends the queues can be frustratingly long. The ancient rock itself has been a victim of ugly landscaping, with tons of cement used to construct promenades, ticket counters, artefact shops, meditation halls and docks for boats to moor. The construction zeal is evident throughout the modern town with stacks of multicoloured cement monsters masquerading as cheap hotels aimed at pilgrims. The hospitality boom is complemented by dozens of shacks selling seashell souvenirs, scores of cheap restaurants with dishes tailored for tourists from all over, and a cut-throat sightseeing industry which takes tour groups on whirlwind day trips. A monstrous statue of the Sangamera poet-philosopher Thiruvalluvar



was erected on a rock adjacent to the Vivekananda memorial. The 133-foothigh statue celebrates the 133 chapters of the great Tamil poet’s masterpiece Thirukkural. Inaugurated on the first day of the new millennium, the statue now dwarfs the memorial next to it, and is often mistaken for Vivekananda by foreigners. Nevertheless, the memorial and the statue together do make for a spectacular silhouette at sunrise – a

must-see for all tourists. Starting at dawn, the whole seafront is flocked by bathers taking a holy dip, photographers seeking the perfect shot, and tea and souvenir sellers out to earn their income for the day. Idiosyncratic, kitschy and unabashedly touristy, Kanyakumari continues to be a place of spiritual significance, and visiting it still has the great romance of standing at the extreme tip of the country.

Seashells are popular keepsakes among tourists

FACT FILE AT A GLANCE Kanyakumari lies at the southernmost tip of mainland India, at the confluence of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. Once called Cape Comorin, the town derives its name from the virgin Goddess Kanya, an avatar of Parvati. It served as a centre of trade under the rule of several dynasties, including the Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas and Nayaks, whose influence is evident in the beautiful architecture in and around the town.

EXPLORE The Bhagwati Amman

temple (+91-46-52246223. Daily 4:30am12:30pm, 4-8pm.) at the seafront is the town’s main draw. Close to it is the Gandhi Mandapam (Daily 7am-7pm. Entry FREE.), built to commemorate the place where the Mahatma’s ashes were held before being immersed into the sea. For a picturesque view of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, venture about 7km from Kanyakumari to the Vattakottai (Circular) Fort. It was built in the 18th century under the supervision of a Dutch naval commander – Captain Eustachius De Lannoy – and is now protected

by the Archaeological Survey of India. Make a trip (35km) to the stunning Padmanabhapuram Palace (KulasekharamThuckalay Rd, 629175. +91-46-5125-0255. TueSun 9am-4.30pm. Adults `25, Children `10), once the royal residence of the Tranvancore kings. An engineering and aesthetic marvel, the wooden palace was built over many centuries by successive rulers and is considered to be one of the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture.

SHOP You can purchase conches and other

seashells as souvenirs at the small shops around the town. Some will even give you a customised shell with your name or a quote inscribed.

EAT You will find biryani and fresh seafood at the small eateries scattered near the all-women police station in Nagercoil, the administrative centre for the Kanyakumari district. The bustling Sangam Restaurant (2-18 A6, Main Road, Beach Rd, Kanyakumari 629702. +91-46-5224-6161. Daily 6am-11pm. `) serves multiple cuisines, though its speciality is spicy

Kerala food. With chaat, sandwiches and other fast food on the menu, Sri Krishna Food Court (South Car Street, Kanyakumari 629702. +91-46-52246262. 6.30am-10pm. `) is a good option for a quick snack. The Sea Shore Hotel (East Car Street, Kanyakumari 629702. +91-46-5224-6704. 7am10.30pm. `) offers South Indian and continental cuisine paired with views of the sea and the Kanyakumari Bhagwati Amman temple tower.

STAY Located slightly away from the town centre is the luxurious Sparsa


Resort (6/112B, Beach Rd, Next to Sunset Point, Kanyakumari 629702. +91-46-5224-7041/42. ``-```). From Hotel Sea View (East Car Street, Kanyakumari 629702. +91-46-5224-7841. ``), you can enjoy an elevated view of the sunrise over the Vivekananda Memorial. At the heart of the city is the government-run Hotel Tamil Nadu (Lighthouse Main Rd, Near seashore, Kanyakumari 629702. +91-46-5224-6257. `). It’s budget-friendly, but remember to book in advance.






Kerala’s popular beach town still has a few good secrets for the well-travelled. Jill D’Souza lets you in on some of them.


ocated close to the southernmost tip of the country, people often think twice about making a trip to Varkala. But given a chance, this quaint coastal town makes for a beautiful getaway – the last time I visited, I didn’t return to city life for a good six months. While most associate the destination with healthy holidays – from yoga and Ayurvedic treatments to reiki lessons and adventure sports like paragliding – there’s more to be discovered beyond the popular Papanasam (Varkala) Beach. Here’s the skinny on Varkala’s most-loved yet lesser-known haunts.

the fish curry or crisp fried fish. You’re definitely going to need a nap after this. Loyal carnivores might find the dinner offering, with its crispy fried chicken and beef chilli fry, more appealing. For the vegetarians, there’s tomato vegetable and the house version of gobi manchurian (it’s worth a try), and of course, the famous Kerala parotha is a must-have. Easy on the wallet, a meal here costs about `150-250 per head.




Try a traditional meal at Dwarka

(Top to bottom) Fish curry and Kerala parotha Fresh iced coffee is popular at Benny’s Soul & Surf teaches surf lessons on Varkala beach (Facing page) En route to Golden Island

It does not get any more local than this joint. Situated in the main town area, Dwarka dishes out authentic Keralan cuisine to a fairly global clientele. Indulge in a lunch of assorted veggies, a generous helping of boiled rice, some sambar, rasam and a poppadum – all served on a banana leaf plate, of course. If you manage to find some place to spare in your tummy, try out

Legend has it that the women of Travancore’s royal family used to hide their cache of gold and ornaments on the getaway in order to keep it safe; hence earning it the name Ponnumthuruthu, which literally means Golden Island. I’ll admit that the island in the backwaters, about 12km south of Varkala, has been mentioned in quite a few guidebooks. But there’s the tourist way to experience it; and there’s the right way to do so. Take a rickshaw or ride down to the jetty, and instead of making a beeline for the speedboat, approach one of the local fishermen standing, draped in


Built by the Portuguese, the Angelo fort was used as the British’s chief military station from 1790 until 1947


(Opening page) Fishermen on Varkala beach at sunset

Escape to Golden Island



And here’s to you, Mrs Kumari Those in the know will tell you that a date with the elusive Mrs Kumari is

MAKING WAVES Shortly after quitting their hectic media jobs in the UK in 2009, a chance trip around the world brought Ed Templeton and Sofie Radecki to the warm waters of Varkala. Enamoured by the nearly empty beaches, fresh seafood and spiritual lifestyle, the couple returned to set up Soul & Surf, Kerala’s first surf and yoga retreat in October 2010. A typical day begins early (6.30am) with a cup of coffee and some fruit after which you are bundled into an aquamarine jeep (or their pink Ambassador) and driven down to the shore for a surf lesson. The wide, open beaches and waves all year round, make Varkala a great spot for beginners. There is also a good range of point breaks, river mouths and jetties to challenge the more experienced surfer. When you’re done catching waves, you are treated to a large but nutritious spread at the hotel’s cliff-top cafe overlooking the Arabian Sea. Catch forty winks in a hammock in the lush garden or soothe your tired limbs with an Esalen massage from their resident Argentinian masseur. As the sun sets, join Sofie on the rooftop for a calming yoga session – the focus on core strength and balance is ideal for surfers. Before you turn in for the night, there’s pizza to be had from the fresh wood-fired oven and indie-surf movies to watch. Soul & Surf is open from October to the end of May. Prices start at £29(`3,000) per night for a basic room and £52(`5,300) per night for a luxury one. For more information call +91-9746-416-953 or visit for details. Nicole Newby


lungis, beside their old-school fishing boats. Patience is a virtue that will hold you in good stead as you settle on a price – most of them only speak Malayalam. Yes, it does take much longer to get to the picturesque island, but as the saying goes, it’s the journey that matters. During the 25-minute cruise, peek into the calm waters to see about a dozen pink jellyfish bobbing beside you and a couple of ducks splashing nearby. If you pay close attention, you’re likely to notice quite a few birds as well, including the magpie and brahminy kite. Once there, visit the 100-year-old Shiva Parvati temple Thuruthu Kshethram, that’s cocooned in dense coconut groves. While you could explore the temple’s architecture, the sand pit directly across is perfect for a little meditation.


FYI When to go Kerala has a hot and humid climate for most part of the year. It’s best to visit during September to May, when it’s cooler. Getting there The nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport about 50km away. Varkala is also connected to Kollam and Kochi via bus and train. Getting around Rickshaw is the ideal way to explore, although fares are not fixed. Prepare to haggle.

While most associate Varkala with healthy holidays, there’s more to be discovered beyond the popular Papanasam beach HEATHER ELTON/DINODIA

Tourist information


one to be cherished. This local resident regularly caters for gatherings in the backyard of her home, but prefers not to endorse her business. It’s word of mouth that will lead you there. Get acquainted with fellow travellers at a communal table over sadhya (an authentic Keralan banquet usually prepared only on special occasions and during festivals like Onam). The spread comprises over 16 dishes and much to everyone’s delight, the servings seem to keep flowing.

The sambar, aviyal, thoran, dal and beetroot raita are firm favourites, but no meal here is complete without the banana milkshake. The mini feast at Mrs Kumari’s comes with a complimentary food coma and the promise of new connections, all for an unbelievable sum of `250 a head.

Benny and the jams If you’re walking down to Varkala beach, just past the temple junction, you’re most likely to notice a crowd




hanging around what looks like a runof-the-mill grocery store. That’s how you identify Benny’s. The eponymous owner singlehandedly runs the shop which also houses a little cafe and bookstore. Have a sit down at one of the tables arranged outside and tuck into yummy pancakes topped off with homemade jam prepared from whatever fruit happens to be in season. The star on the menu though, is the iced coffee, so be sure to order yourself a glass (you’ll probably need two).

(Top left) A traditional boat in the backwaters of Varkala (Facing page) Practising yoga on Varkala Beach (Above) Spot jellyfish bobbing in the water on the ride to Golden Island

FACT FILE AT A GLANCE Varkala is a coastal town, 51km north of Thiruvanthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala. Though visited by a fairly large number of tourists each year, it remains quite peaceful.Most flock to the beach, 10km away from the main town, where one can practise yoga, indulge in Ayurvedic treatments or catch some waves. A major pilgrim destination, the main town is home to the Sivagiri Mutt, the samadi of social reformer Shree Narayans Guru, and

several ancient temples including the Janardhana Swamy Temple. A key factor that sets Varkala apart from other beaches of southern Kerala is the stretch of cliffs which runs parallel to the Arabian Sea.

EXPLORE About 12km from Varkala, en route to Kadakkavur, Anjengo was where the East India Company established its first trade settlement in Kerala. The region is sandwiched between the sea and backwaters with the Anjengo

Fort (Daily 9am-6.30pm) the main attraction. The 2,000-year-old Janardhana Swamy Temple (+91-470-260-757. Daily 4am-12pm, 5-8pm) is an important Vaishnavite shrine. Pilgrims cleanse themselves of sin in the sacred waters at Papanasam beach. Spend a day pampering yourself at Absolute Ayurveda (South Cliff, Janardanapuram, Varkala 695141. +91-9447069435, +91-9447069279. www., an Ayurvedic spa on the South Cliff.

SHOP Several shops line the north cliff selling touristy souvenirs, beachwear, Tibetan jewellery, spices and tea. In the town, you’re likely to come across traditional saris, lungis and bangles.

EAT A number of restaurants and cafes can be found lining Varkala’s North Ciff. Café Delmar (North Cliff, Varkala 695141. +91-9947441363. Daily 8am-11pm. ``) is reputed for its pizza and steaks. Freshly

grilled fish, served with salad and chips, is available at Abba (Helipad, North Cliff, Varkala 695141. ``) and the nearby Kerala Café. As the name suggests, Little Tibet (North Cliff, Varkala 695141. ``) is the place for authentic Tibetan cuisine. For a bit of local cuisine, Punartham (Varkala town, Varkala 695141. `) and Shree Padmam (Temple junction, Varkala 695141. `) serve Keralan specialities like chicken curry, fish curry, fried fish and beef chilli fry.


STAY Live in a cottage by the sea at 8 Wonders Guesthouse (Sree Eight, Manthara, Edava 695311. +91-9995518794. `) located, a little off Varkala, in the village of Edava. Soul & Surf (Golden Beach, South Cliff, Janardhanapuram, Varkala 695141. +919746416953. www. ``) has clifftop accommodation with lush gardens overlooking the Arabian Sea. They frequently host events like barbecues, bonfires, movie nights.

A conservation legacy Mist rises gently at sunrise over the wet rainforest of Kudremukh National Park. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012, the area is home to a variety of fauna including the Malabar flying squirrel, barking deer and Malabar trogon. 60 – TIME OUT EXPLORER – DECEMBER 2013-JANUARY 2014




wild west


Running down the Malabar coast of southern India, the Sahyadri range is even older than the Himalayas. We present a few snapshots of this region’s biological and cultural diversity as documented by photographer and cinematographer Sandesh Kadur in the book Sahyadris: India’s Western Ghats - A Vanishing Heritage


Vertical horizon At 2,695m above sea level, Anaimudi (meaning elephant’s head) is the highest point in India south of the Himalayas.

Revival of the fittest The Malabar gliding frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus) alights next to its smaller cousin, the winged gliding frog (Rhacophorus lateralis), on a wet coffee plant in southern Coorg. Although the former is fairly abundant throughout the Sahyadris, the latter is highly endangered and was only recently rediscovered after an absence of nearly 120 years.



Go ape The Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii) is endemic to the dense evergreen forests of the southern portion of the Western Ghats, from Coorg to Kanyakumari. An endangered primate, it is frequently hunted for its meat and fur. The species can be found in a few protected areas, such as the Brahmagiri Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park and Silent Valley National Park.

Tribal roots The Kurubas are an ancient forest tribe indigenous to the Western Ghats. Their religious beliefs revolve around nature as well as the worship of Lord Shiva.


Tiger trail A Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) strides along the banks of a watering hole at the foothills of the Western Ghats. Although the nation’s national animal, the numbers of these majestic beasts have rapidly dwindled due to poaching and encroachment on their habitat. According to ‘Status of Tigers, CoPredators and Prey in India’, a 2010 report by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Government of India and the Wildlife Institute of India, fewer than 2,000 tigers remain in the country.

People watching Protected interest Greatly feared and deeply respected in India and South Asia, the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the longest venomous snake in the world. These enigmatic creatures are rarely encountered in the wild and much of their secret world is yet to be unravelled. The destruction of rainforests, their natural habitat, has recently landed them on the endangered species list of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).


Residents of the Nilgiris, the Todas are a very small, close-knit tribe. Locks of curled hair are a characteristic feature of the Toda women.


Bloom’s day A verdant hillside along the edge of Eravikulam National Park. The Nilgiris, or the blue mountains of India, derive their name from the purplish-blue tinge of the neelakurinji flowers that blossom every 12 years, covering vast expanses of the hills of Munnar, Kerala. The next flowering cycle is expected to occur in 2018, from August to December.

Sandesh Kadur is an award-winning wildlife photographer and documentary filmmaker with a passion for conservation. His documentaries have been aired worldwide on the BBC, National Geographic and Discovery networks. An Associate Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, he is also the founder of Felis Creations, a Bangalore-based visual arts company.,

FACT FILE AT A GLANCE Beginning south of the Tapi river, near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Western Ghats, or Sahyadris, run across five states of India: Maharashtra, Goa,

Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They consist of diverse ecosystems including moist deciduous forests, tropical evergreen forests and montane grasslands, and are home to a variety of rare and

endemic species of flora and fauna such as the Nilgiri tahr and the liontailed macaque.

WHEN TO GO While creatures can be found aplenty during the

monsoon (Jun-Oct), it’s easier to hike or trek during the dry season (Nov-May).

GETTING THERE The different regions of the Western Ghats

can be accessed from various places: North (Mumbai and Pune), Central ( Bangalore and Mangalore), South (Coorg, Chikmangalur, Coimbatore and Trivandrum.


TOURIST INFORMATION www.maharashtratourism.,, www., www.,


Cold mountain Although traditionally considered a summer escape, the wintry views of Leh may succeed in converting the conventional tourist, declares Shikha Tripathi s the colours of fall begin to fade and the first winter light sets in, the mountains of Ladakh prepare to pull out their cloaks of hibernation. The clutter of tourists is long gone; the last footsteps have faded away. It’s just the lone ranges and hardy Ladakhis, readying to brave another cold season. This isn’t a time that would usually strike a traveller as the right one to explore this mystic land, but step out of your comfort zone, and you’ll be surprised by all that’s there to see and do. I’ve been to Ladakh plenty of times, but during my first trip in winter, I was bowled over by the view from my flight. Travelling to Leh this late in the year rules out the possibility of a road trip – the only option one is left with is to fly – and your stint with unimaginable beauty starts even before you hit the ground.






(Bottom left to right) The confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers near Leh A member of the Ladakh Scouts ice hockey team (Facing page) Nyerak’s frozen waterfall

lot – photographers and filmmakers an area of 4,400sq km that is home to who have travelled all the way to rare fauna including the elusive snow capture this pallid landscape, locals leopard, the Tibetan wolf and red fox. in colourful woollens and determined The winter months provide excellent hikers. A popular trek at this time is opportunities to spot the shan, as the the legendary Chadar expedition that snow leopard is locally known, which takes you up the Zanskar River, comes down close to villages inside which remains frozen only the park as temperatures for a short window at this drop in regions higher time of the year. Having up and food becomes heard accounts of this scarce. Unfortunately, walk, I didn’t realise I didn’t spot any but With an area of then that I would nevertheless, rural 4,400sq km, Hemis be so enamoured homestays allowed me National Park is the by these tales, that I to experience life as largest protected area in India would make a winter a local and take in the trip just to experience it immense beauty that the for myself. But I did, and I park is blessed with. have never been more rewarded For all the adventure that’s by any other visual feast. up for grabs, there’s also an equal Another curious bunch that you’re dose of tranquillity to soak up in likely to bump into are the snow Ladakh. I’ve spent several days just leopard spotters. Conservationists, ambling around Leh, watching the researchers and wildlife lovers make regular summer sightseeing spots their way up to Hemis National Park, metamorphose into something



(Opening page) The night sky while on the Chadar trek

Mid-air, you glide above what seems like a topographical map of north India in an atlas – the snow-capped Himalayas as far as the eye can see, brown lines defining contours and high passes, and little bursts of green marking entire belts of forest. The minute I exit the tiny airport, I am greeted by a blast of frosty air that’s cold but exhilarating. I get into a taxi and head to Omasila, a family-run hotel that’s an old favourite and one of the few that stays open through the winter. Familiar faces beam at the reception, and a warm cup of butter tea is thrust into my hand. I retire to my room to rest for the afternoon. A few hours later, I wake up, strap on my boots and stroll down the streets of Leh that are basking in their novel winter avatar. The mountains on the horizon are powdered with white; the air is crisp and inviting. The streets are not crammed with people and it’s a joy to mingle with a motley




I’ve done winter trips to Leh thrice so far, and there has never been a dull day up there. I’m afraid I might never return for the summer



(Top) The Lingshed monastry is on the route between Zanskar and Lamayuru (Bottom) Horses are widely used for carrying resources and luggage through Ladakh


(Facing Page) Ladakhis are mainly Buddhists and practise Mahayana Buddhism



exceptional. A walk in the woods on a snowy day is always lovely, whether it’s to get a glimpse of the old Leh Palace standing stark, watch young monks scampering around the Thiksey monastery in woollen maroon robes, or to experience the quietude of the Shey gompa as several of the little stupas stand gracefully under the burden of falling white flakes. Driving around is a pleasure, with vast expanses of snow crystals dazzling in the sun and wild horses hunting soundlessly for greens buried in this stretch of snow. In town, seasonal cafes have packed up and moved down to the beaches, but a faithful few remain, serving steaming hot thukpa. On sunny days, I head to the frozen ponds to catch a game of ice hockey, all the rage in Ladakh – the local team is one of the best in the world and represents India internationally. Canadian teams often come down for matches in the winters, and the Ladakh Scouts can be seen proudly donning their team colours of maroon and blue. I’ve done winter trips to Leh thrice so far, and there has never been a dull day up there. I’m afraid I might never return for the summer.

FYI When to go To experience Ladakh at its snowy best, travel between December and February. Getting there There are regular flights to Leh from Delhi. Getting around The simplest way to navigate the narrow lanes and uphill tracks is by walking. You can also hire a taxi from agents located near the main market if you wish to travel further away from the main town. Tourist information, www.

FACT FILE AT A GLANCE Ladakh lies in the northernmost Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir with the great Himalayas to its south. Its inhabitants are of both Indian and Tibetan descent, lending the region its distinctive culture. The cold desert landscape stands in stark contrast to the colourful traditional costumes of the locals and their vibrant festivals full of pageantry which occur all year round. The rugged geography, splendid views and tranquil monasteries are what makes Ladakh appeal both to adventure seekers and those craving solitude. At an altitude of about 3,500m, the small town of Leh

was an important trade route between India and Tibet and China. Although largely peaceful unlike the rest of the state, the Indian Army maintains a base near the airport to patrol the borders near China and Pakistan.

EXPLORE Get a bird’s-eye view of the town from the Leh Palace (Namgyal Hill, Leh, J&K 194101. +91-1982252-297. Daily 6am-6pm. Indians `5, Foreigners `100.). A short climb from Changspa village is the Shanti Stupa (Shanti Stupa Road, Leh, J&K 194101. Daily 5am-9pm), built by Ladakhi and Japanese monks. The Hemis monastery, on

the west bank of the river Indus about 47km from Leh, is the richest monastery in Ladakh. You can also visit the Thiksey monastery (Leh-Manali Highway, Thiksey, J&K 194201. Daily 6am-6pm) or make a day trip to the towns of Alchi and Lamayuru. The Hall of Fame (Spituk-Kargil road, Leh, J&K 194101. 9am-1pm, 3-7pm. Indians `10, Foreigners `50.) is a small museum with displays on Ladakhi culture and the Kargil War.

EAT Although there are plenty of small joints in Leh, they are mainly seasonal, so your best bet is to eat at the hotel you are

staying in. If you wish to step out for a meal, the ‘Friends’ cafe in the main market is open round the year, and serves Ladakhi and Tibetan food. For fancier fare, visit the Taste of Dragon, the in-house restaurant at the Grand Dragon hotel (Old Road Sheynam, Leh, J&K 194101. +91-1982257-786 / 255-866 / 255-266. ```).

STAY Hotel Omasila (Changspa Route, Leh, J&K 194101. +91-1982-252-119/251178. www.hotelomasila. com. ``) is a cosy hotel run by Nawang Tsering with a warm Ladakhi decor and wooden

furnishing. For a luxurious stay, the relatively new Grand Dragon (Old Road Sheynam, Leh, JK 194101. +91-1982-257786/255-866/255-266. ```; winter package price on request.) has posh rooms, central heating, a multi-cuisine restaurant and all-night coffee. Homestays are the only option in Hemis National Park (Adults, children `20;); you can either book them through a tour operator or via the YAFCAD (Room No 11 Hemis Complex, Opposite Zangti parking, Leh, J&K 194101. +91-9906-975427) –Youth Association for Conservation and Development – at their office


near the main market. A non-profit organisation, it works towards sustainable development through community projects and organises treks that include homestays and camping.

SHOP The area of ‘old Leh’ at Changspa, is lined with shops selling woollens and trinkets and is popular with backpackers. There are also souvenir shops at the main bazaar. In winter, you’re likely to come across stores selling traditional Ladakhi carpets and handmade shoes, as well as local women selling sun-dried vegetables and handmade woollens.






ways to discover Auckland

Must-try ideas to check off your list when visiting the City of Sails By Time Out Sydney editors nown to the indigenous Maoris as TƗmaki Makaurau, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city that’s home to the largest Polynesian population in the world and a sizeable Asian one as well. Dotted with 48 volcanic cones, the city’s diverse landscape lends itself to a variety of activities – there are lush rainforests to the west, rolling hills up north, both golden and black sand beaches, tranquil bays and several small islands to explore. Here are 10 things first time visitors need to add to their itinerary when visiting.



Built in 1929; threatened with demolition; then lovingly refurbished and reopened, on the 70th anniversary of its first performance, in 1999; the Civic Theatre is a beautiful building to take a tour inside. A perfect replica of the


original curtain, embroidered with flamingos, was commissioned in 2000, and is now used on special occasions. Try to catch a show here – once the lights go down and the ceiling starts twinkling, you’ll be enthralled. Corner of Queen St & Wellesley St, Auckland 1021. +64-9-309-2677.


(Opening page) Get 360-degree views atop the 328-metre tall Sky Tower (Facing page clockwise from top right) Tessa Laird’s installation ‘The Politics of Ectasy’ is featured in Freedom Farmers: New Zealand Artists Growing Ideas at the Auckland Art Gallery Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar serves up fresh, unpretentious fare including homegrown lamb Waiheke Island is home to rolling vineyards

Daily 12-4pm. `-`` Kennedy Point Vineyard 44 Donald Bruce Rd, Waiheke Island, 1081. +64-9-372-5600. www. Daily 11am-3pm. ```

WANDER AROUND 3 AUCKLAND ART GALLERY One of the city’s oldest public art institutions, the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o TƗmaki houses an impressive collection of over 15,000 national and internationa; works dating back to the 12th century. Originally designed by Melbourne architects Grainger


(Below)The Auckland Art Gallery was awarded World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival, 2013 in Singapore

A quick ferry ride from Auckland City or Devonport can take you to stunning Waiheke Island – great for a day trip, or a longer stayover. With more than 30 vineyards such as the pioneering Goldwater Estate and the organic Kennedy Point Vineyard which offer tours and wine tastings the island is the perfect destination for oenophiles. The Waiheke Wine Festival takes place around late January or early February each year. There are also fabulous restaurants and cafes to dine at and art trails to discover the resident artists on the island. Goldwater Estate 18 Causeway Road, Putiki Bay, Waiheke Island, 1081. +649-372-7493.

For the complete Auckland experience, catch New Zealand’s national rugby union team, the All Blacks, in action


and D’Ebro, the building – one of the oldest civic sites in New Zealand – is a work of art in itself. You need to take at least a day to tour this gem and lose yourself amidst the work of New Zealand’s greatest masters such as CF Goldie, Rita Angus and Colin McCahon. Explore on your own or queue up at the entrance for a free tour (11.30am-1.30pm). On your way out, stop for a coffee or lunch at the cafe which overlooks Albert Park. Corner of Kitchener & Wellesley Sts, Auckland 1010. +64-9-307-7700. Daily 10am-5pm. Entry FREE.


Devonport is a short ferry ride from Auckland City or a quick drive over the Harbour Bridge to North Shore. One of the earliest settlements in Auckland, colonial villas with beautiful gardens line the town. Take a walk up the historical North Head, the smaller of the town’s volcanoes, for some splendid views of the Hauraki Gulf and inner Auckland harbour. Initially used by the Maoris as a defence site, remnants of bunkers,







Explore the creative process in ‘What’s it Doing’, an ongoing interactive installation at the Auckland Art Gallery

fortifications and gun emplacements from WWI and WWII can still be explored. Check out the old military tunnels (remember to bring a torch), or pick up some fish and chips and enjoy the view from any side. North Head Historic Reserve Trail, Devonport, Auckland 0624. Daily 6am-10pm.

Spread across 16,000 hectares, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is where native rainforests meet black sand surf beaches like Whatipu, Karekare, Piha and Te Henga (Bethells Beach). A 40-minute drive from the city centre, there’s a stunning display of Auckland’s wildlife and waterfalls that can easily be explored on foot. The park has over 250km of walking tracks that vary in difficulty from the short Kitekite track (45 minutes) to the 4-day Hillary Trail, as well as lookout points like the Arataki Visitor Centre for panoramic views of the forest. Arataki Visitor Centre, 300 Scenic Drive, Titirangi, Auckland 0604. +64-9-817-0089. Entry FREE.



Stroll across the gantry to catch views of the Westhaven marina and the city. At Karanga Plaza, a little further along the wharf, you can lie back on giant wooden recliners and watch people go by or lazily choose






the luxury yacht you intend to buy. The kids can shoot hoops at the maritime-themed Playspace and once you’ve worn them out, refuel at some of the fine restaurants and bars along the North Wharf. Silo Park often has movies playing where you can pull up a bean bag or enjoy the night market and live music they offer, all free. Wynyard Quarter, Auckland 1010. +64-9336-8820.

AT DEPOT EATERY 7DINE & OYSTER BAR Al Brown’s restaurant doesn’t take bookings but don’t let that deter you – there’s a fast turnover of tables. Here, it’s all about amazing, fresh NZ produce cooked with flair: fish sliders, lamb ribs, Cloudy Bay clams, pork hock, and of course, freshly shucked oysters. Wines are on tap – literally – and in true Kiwi fashion, the atmosphere is friendly and unpretentious. 86 Federal St, Auckland 1010. +649-363-7048. Daily 7am onwards. ``


Pay homage to the nation’s favourite pastime, rugby, at Eden Park, the country’s largest stadium. You can begin your walk to the park in the suburb of Kingsland from the Central Business District, a route of 4.3km which starts at Queen Elizabeth



Square and passes through some of the city’s signature locations. For the complete Auckland experience, make sure you catch New Zealand’s national rugby union team, the All Blacks, in action. Reimers Ave, Auckland 1024. +64-9815-5551.

course). Acrophobes can head to the Observatory restaurant inside the Sky Tower and watch others take the plunge instead. Federal St, Auckland 1010. +64-9363-6000. www.skycityauckland. May-Sept daily 9am-10pm; Oct to April Sun-Thu 8.30am-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 8.30am-11.30pm. ``

THE VIEW FROM 9ENJOY THE SKY TOWER KNOCK BACK A FEW 10 AT TYLER STREET GARAGE In the heart of Auckland City take a glass-front lift up the Sky Tower for 360-degree views of Auckland. If the mood strikes, you can even jump off it (attached to a wire of

After an eventful day of exploring the city, you’re going to need a refreshing drink. Want a bar with a view? Head

towards Britomart in the heart of downtown Auckland and check out Tyler Street Garage, an industrialstyled bar and restaurant. Grab a seat on the rooftop which boasts some of the best views of Auckland’s waterfront. Besides a great drinks menu, they have a small but very tasty selection of bar snacks including beer-battered oysters, crispy lamb ribs and barbecue pork belly sliders. 116-118 Quay Street, Britomart, Auckland 1010. +64-9-300-5279. Daily 11am onwards. ``

(Above) Take a ride around scenic Devonport in a horse drawn carriage (Facing page top to bottom) The airy architecture of the Viaduct Events Centre makes it perfect for big events The historic Eden Park is New Zealand’s largest stadium The Sky Tower’s outside ring offers the best views of the harbour and several city landmarks

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO New Zealand has ongoing events throughout the year. November to April are best for trekking through plush landscape; June to August for skiing.

GETTING THERE All major airlines fly to Auckland and Wellington

from India via Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

GETTING AROUND Buses are good, but can be time-consuming for long-distance travel. If you have money to spare, car rentals are your best bet.

STAY Explore the beaches and vineyards on Waiheke Island and then head straight out to The Oyster Inn (124 Ocean View Road, Oneroa, Waiheke Island, Auckland 1840. +64-9-372-2222. ```-````) for fabulous

food and three very cool bedrooms. If you like to be in the thick of things, the Sofitel (21 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland 1010. +64-9-9099000. ````) lies in the heart of Auckland Central between the Viaduct

Harbour and the new Wynyard Quarter. Each luxurious room and suite features floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. Run by the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand, the YHA Auckland International (5


Turner Street, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010. +64-9-302-8200. ``) provides comfortable budget accommodation for both backpackers as well as families.



Troy story Follow Yusuf Huysal on an archaeological adventure in Çanakkale, and around Turkey’s historic Troas Peninsula mbarking the ferry at Gallipoli, you glide across the strait of Dardanelles towards the Troas Peninsula (now known as the Biga Peninsula), leaving behind the concrete memorials dedicated to the fateful World War I campaign – almost in its centenary – and approach a land of ancient wars and legends. With the dizzying musk of pine trees wafting your way from the shore, the short boat ride brings to mind Charon, the ferryman who in Greek mythology carried his passengers across the river Styx to the underworld. Upon disembarkation you find, not Hades, but an Aegean port town bustling with activity: cargo ships now unload their steel containers where, ancient Greek epic poet Homer tells us, a thousand wooden ships once floated, waiting for Achilles’s war with the Trojans to end.






Digging deep

(Bottom) Roman Odeion, Troy (Facing page clockwise from top right) The temple of Athena, Assos; View of the Palace House, Troy; A quiet street in Çannakkale

by earthquakes, fire or war. As a go searching for a city then thought foundation myth of Western culture, to be fictional. With a determination Homer’s epic The Iliad is buried at that would have driven him to unearth our deepest layer of storytelling, and the city of Oz (if he’d put his mind continues to inspire modern to it), Schliemann fixed on the creative minds from Troas peninsula, swung Tolstoy to Hollywood. To his pickaxe and struck recap the archetypal the foundations of winning formula: what he thought boy meets girl, boy was Troy. He was Lord Byron swam across the Dardanelles steals girl, horsepartly right: scholars in 1810, a fact that partial, Trojans fall argue that what the he later recorded in for the oldest trick in archaeologist came his poem the oldest book, girl across was not exactly Don Juan is retrieved and 1,000 Homer’s Troy, but a comparative literature former settlement on the site. courses are launched. Classic. It is easy for a student of One hundred and fifty years ago, archaeology to say that Troy was the story also inspired amateur home to more than one settlement. archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann to The hint lies in the fact that the city



(Opening page) ‘The Building of the Trojan Horse’ by Giovanni Tiepolo is on display at the National Gallery, London

The Troas Peninsula has been a major centre of ancient-world excavation for more than 100 years. As a student in pursuit of a career in archaeology, I have worked at several of these sites. My most memorable experiences so far have been in Troy (yes, that Troy); Assos, a town where Aristotle once lived (yes, that Aristotle); and at the Apollon Smintheus Temple, where cowering Hellenic devotees once worshipped the great and terrible, er, Lord of Mice. Our first stop is the city of Troy or, rather, Troys. Made famous by Homer and Brad Pitt, it is in fact thought to be the seventh of nine cities to have been built on the same spot, each one successively destroyed



Korfmann, a German archaeologist who headed the excavation until his death in 2005, the site has become increasingly tourist-friendly. The Excavation House serves as a provisional museum and there are walking paths that lead through the ruins as well as tour guides on site.

As I stood on the marble steps of a high temple 60km south of Troy, I could see the island of Lesbos to the south and the shadow of the legendary Mount Ida – where the Olympian gods gathered to watch the Trojan War – to the east. My vantage point was Assos, once a prosperous port town home to many important (and, of course, bearded) Greek philosophers.


Aristotle’s Assos


sits on a large ‘tell’: an archaeological mound created by centuries of human settlement on the same spot. The remains of Troy(s) truly bear witness to the trajectory of human advancement. Indeed when I visited, I could tell how the primitive walls of Troy I (early 30th century BC) were expanded and improved by the successive settlement of Troy II (latter 30th century BC). I was able to trace pre-history’s emergence into the ancient world and the arrival of Hellenistic forms of architecture in Troy IX (4th century BC), represented by the large amphitheatre. The good news is that all this revelatory rubble is just as available – and as fascinating – to the untrained eye. Thanks to the efforts of Manfred




Sitting in the amphitheatre, it dawned on me why Greek theatre didn’t bother with set decorations


(Bottom) Harbour and Kilitbahir castle at Galipoli (Facing) The Trojan horse replica that featured in the movie Troy

visualising a production of Oedipus Rex on the empty stage, I trod up the ruins to the temple on the acropolis. Looking down at the sea, I was careful not to rest against its precarious looking columns. Who was I kidding? They had been standing there, unshaken, for 2,500 years.

Of mice and men Unlike Troy and Assos, Apollon Smintheus was a holy site. Among all the epithets accorded to the sun god Apollo, perhaps none is stranger than Smintheus, Lord of Mice. The imposing temple of Apollon Smintheus (circa 2 BC) at Gülpınar is dedicated to this rare cult, associated with Apollo’s role as a god of disease. I worked at Gülpınar as an archaeology student under the supervision of Professor Dr Coúkun Özgünel, who has been leading the excavation since the 1970s. On my first

day in the field, the foremost question on my mind was: “Where can I find ancient coins?” I had been obsessed with discovering an archaeological artefact ever since I had seen the Indiana Jones films as a kid. The professor’s answer was rather strange. Ancient Greek temples usually had bathhouses (thermae) in close proximity that served the holy site’s smelly visitors. (Pilgrims, having come a long way, knew that BO never makes a good impression, especially to the Gods). Back then, public toilets were the place to look for coins. Inside the bathhouse loos, when occupants assumed the position, coins often spilled out of their pouches unnoticed. On hearing this, I selected a pickaxe from the racks and headed for the nearest ancient lavs. Sure enough, after hours of digging with unwavering enthusiasm, I found my first coin. Like every lucky discoverer of an


(Previous page) The ruins of Troy

In the 4th century BC Assos flourished greatly under the rule of King Hermias, known for inviting philosophers from mainland Greece to stay in his city. One of many to heed his call was Aristotle, who stayed and married Hermias’s adopted daughter and set up the famous Academy of Assos. Another well-known visitor was St Paul, who travelled to Assos in AD 53-57 during his third missionary journey, thus making the town a Christian pilgrimage site. (And inadvertently helping Turkish tourism in the process). Sitting in the amphitheatre where perhaps Aristotle and Paul once contemplated the prime mover while watching similar sunsets, it dawned on me why Greek theatre didn’t bother with set decorations. The precipice behind the amphitheatre framed the panorama of the Aegean Sea as a sweeping, dramatic backdrop. After




archaeological artefact, I was instantly faced with the dilemma of pocketing it or yielding it. With Dr Jones’s mantra of ‘It belongs in a museum’ echoing in my head, I did the latter (Indy would have been proud). After a few days, however, I noticed that such artefacts weren’t that rare at all. I recorded 15 coins, a bronze bracelet with a lion figure and innumerable pieces of ceramic pottery. Among the excavated artefacts displayed in the onsite museum are the famous temple reliefs depicting scenes from The Iliad. The temple and two bathhouses are also open to visitors. The real problem with archaeology, I was soon to realise, is that there are simply too many things to dig up. The epiphany came – much like St Paul’s – while I was standing on an ancient stone road, an exhumed section of the route that had once connected the holy site with the town of Alexandria Troas 30km to the north. Aligning myself with its trajectory, I uncovered the subterranean highway with my mind’s eye, imagining it snaking for kilometres over the hills and lush shrubbery ahead. I wondered what marvels, like the remainder of this road, would remain uncovered for decades, perhaps centuries, to come.

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO April to June sees longer days and mild weather. Winter (Nov-Mar) is generally chilly and rainy, but you’re likely to find fewer tourists and cheaper rates.

GETTING THERE Most major Indian cities are connected to Ankara and Istanbul by flight. There are reciprocal flights from Ankara Esenboga Airport and Çanakkale. For €19.50 (`1,900) you can take a shuttle bus from Ankara. If you’re travelling from Istanbul, hop onto a ferry at Yenikapı and then a

bus from Bandırma. Tickets cost €6.10 (`500). Car ferries run from Eceabat and Kilitbahir in the Gallipoli peninsula to Çanakkale.

GETTING AROUND Ferries and shuttle buses will take you around the Çanakkale province. Schedules as well as city maps can be found at the Çanakkale Tourism Information Office located near the ferry jetty.

EXPLORE Fans of the film (or Brad Pitt) can have a look at the wooden horse used as a prop from the

2004 film Troy which is exhibited at the seafront, near the ferry jetty. For a quick history lesson, head to the Çanakkale Museum (100 Yıl Caddesi, Çanakkale 17100. +90-286-217-6565. Tue-Sun 8am-5pm. TL5, `155 approx.) located just off the road to Troy. The museum houses several artefacts, including pottery, coins and statues, from the ancient settlements of Troy, Assos and Alexandria Troas. Look out for the sarcophagus depicting the killing of Polyxena which signalled the beginning of the Trojan War and a clay

statuette of Aphrodite. The Cimenlik Fortress, now converted into the Çanakkale Naval Museum (Fevzipaúa District, Çimenlik Street, Çanakkale 17100. +90-286-2131730. Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun 9am-5pm. TL4, `125 approx.) contains World War I relics such as fused bullets that hit each other in mid-air, informative exhibits on the battles at Gallipoli, and a replica of the Nusrat minelayer, a hero in the battles against the Allies. If you fancy yourself a thinker, the village of Behramkale near Assos sees throngs of philosophers during the

summer perpetuating the Aristotelian art of walking and talking.

EAT AND STAY The sea-facing Hotel Limani (Yalı Street No12, Çanakkale 17100. +90- 286- 217-2908. ```) is conveniently located near several major tourist sites. Enjoy a meal at its restaurant Cafe du Port. At Hotel des Estrangers (Kemalpaúa Mh Yalı Cd No 25-27 Merkez, Çanakkale 17100. +90286-214-2424. www. tr. ```), you can stay in the same building as


Heinrich Schliemann did. The oldest hotel in the area, it has retained many of its original features. At Assos, take a dip in the town’s ancient harbour before bedding down at Assos Alagra (Behramkale No 88, Ayvacık, Çanakkale 17860. +90-286-7217267. www.assosalagra. com. ```-````). Try the fish a la Aristotle and local white wines at Uzun Ev (Behramkale village, Ayvacık, Çanakkale 17860. +90-286-721-7007. www. ``-```)



The road to Santiago Kathyrn Miller peels off the Chilean capital’s grimy exterior to reveal a culturally charged city with a thriving culinary scene





hen you’re whizzing down to Patagonia or up to Atacama, Santiago may not seem a great destination for a stopover. While it’s an untidy, sprawling city without the more obvious romance of Rio or Buenos Aires, it’s also a thriving metropolis with one of the most stunning backdrops: the majestic Andes mountain range. Santiago is lively, modern, friendly and safe. Its recent economic boom has made Chileans more confident and upbeat. Skyscrapers dominate the city’s financial zone, but colonial houses and 19th-century municipal buildings exist in the old Centro district. Its small parks provide greenery and shade: so essential in the hot summer months.

W (Opening page) Santiago’s Alameda highway is one of the busiest roads in the city

Getting acquainted

(Bottom left to right) A statue of Virgin Mary atop San Cristóbal Hill


A colourful street in Barrio-Bellavista

2-355-6500. Mon-Sun 9am-9pm; Exhibitions Mon-Sun 9am-7.30pm. General admission CLP 2,000, `240; foreigners CLP5,000, `600; foreign students CLP2,500, `300) There is also a small cafe, a chic wine bar and shops selling high-end native textiles and kooky figurines of Chilean tribespeople. The National Museum of Fine Arts (Parque Forestal, Casilla 3209, Santiago. +56-2-2499-1600. www. Tue-Sat 10am-6.50pm. CLP600, `72.) was built in 1910 and displays works by two of the country’s most famous artists: 19th-century landscape artist Pedro Lira and 20thcentury surrealist Roberto Matta. It also showcases colonial pieces and stages temporary exhibitions. Located in a colonial house, the smaller Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (Avendia Republica 475, Santiago. +56-2-689-8761. www. Tue-Sun. 10am-6pm. CLP 1000, `121; free for students, senior citizens) displays European and South American art including pieces by Picasso and Miró.

Buy the way In the Centro barrio (neighbourhood), near the main square – the Plaza de


The best way to get to know any city is by walking, and Santiago is no exception. It’s easy to get a feel for the place in a few days, perhaps spending two touristy ones visiting the main sights and another relaxing in Parque Metropolitano.

(Facing page) The city’s Metropolitan Park has a popular community pool called Piscina Tupahue (Tupahue Swimming Pool)

The city was officially founded in February 1541 by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, who established the grid system of roads which makes it so straightforward to navigate. It runs east to west, on the banks of the murky brown Mapocho River, alongside which teems the busy Alameda (officially the Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins) highway. To the east of the city are the Andes; to the west the Casablanca winemaking valley; an hour and a half further west, 75 miles away, are coastal resorts and the historic hillside seaport city of Valparaiso. La Moneda is one of Chile’s most impressive buildings. In 1973, communist president Salvador Allende was overthrown here in a military coup, which led to 17 years of dictatorship by General Pinochet. Originally built to house the national mint, the impressive 18th-century, baroque-style building now houses the offices of the President of Chile and various ministers. In the stylish, glassroofed public space, adjoining the Plaza de la Ciudadanía is the Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda which stages exhibitions and contains the National Film Archive. (Plaza de la Ciudadanía No 26, Santiago. +56-





Armas, the pedestrianised shopping streets are lined with mainstream stores and stalls selling shoes, clothes, books, electronics, novelty gadgets – pretty much anything you can think of. Housed in a 19th-century building, the Mercado Central – the city’s main market – is where locals go for fish, fruit and vegetables; you can also pick up a souvenir bottle of Chilean pisco, a wood-aged version of the Peruvian grape spirit. Cafes on surrounding streets sell cheap snacks: look for the busiest ones to find the best. The Santa Lucia Crafts market sells inexpensive, mainly mass-produced, touristy ‘crafts’, such as notebooks, magnets, cushion covers and mate gourds. For authentic Chilean handicrafts including ponchos, wool blankets, brightly coloured handmade scarves and ceramics, head to one of the official Artesanias de Chile shops (Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda, Citizenship Square 26.+56-2-26972784. MonSun 10am-8pm), which guarantee the profits go to the makers. (There’s a well-stocked one in Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda.) Signs of Chile’s new prosperity are evident on a stroll along the wide tree-lined boulevards of the exclusive Vitacura district. An updated, less stuffy version of London’s Mayfair, it’s the area to visit if you’ve got plenty of spare cash (or just want a break from the city centre). The streets are lined with expensive fashion boutiques (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel), commercial art galleries, chic cafes and palatial private homes. There’s also the Parque Bicentario, a large grassy space where well-heeled local families have picnics, play football and feed the ducks.

A lot at steak You’d be forgiven for thinking that Chilean men are a chauvinistic bunch, given the evident popularity of a style of coffee shop where minimally clad, busty young women serve drinks to male businessmen. The cafe con piernas (coffee with legs) is a Santiago institution, and though they might

The snow-capped Andes mountains serve as a backdrop to Santiago




Santiago is a thriving metropolis with one of the most stunning backdrops: the majestic Andes mountain range


sound sleazy, in reality they’re just a bit of harmless fun – in fact, some cafes con piernas are aimed at women, who sit reading books or chatting. No meat-eater should leave Santiago without trying a Barros Luco, a steak sandwich that’s also stuffed with an entire avocado and melted cheese – it’s named after a former president who presumably used to eat them a lot. There are empanada shops everywhere

and whatever the time of day you will see them filled with people lining up for these oven-fresh snacks. The classic empanada de pino is full of meat and potato and is a meal in itself – it will set you back less than `100 here. Santiago cuisine is varied. Lastarria is a studenty, bohemian barrio where you’ll find cafes and restaurants on cobbled streets and in courtyards.


(Right) The Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts was built in 1910 in neoclassical French style (Facing page top to bottom) The changing of the guard ceremony at La Moneda Pueblito Los Dominicos, a popular market in Las Condes, sells traditional Chilean handicrafts and antiques


Pablo Neruda’s home at Isla Negra, which resembles a ship, is now a museum housing his collection of unusual items like insects and masks


Bellavista is a more residential district where middle-class locals and university kids hang out drinking beer and eating chicken and chips at street-corner restaurants – the barrio has a thriving nightlife with lots of late-night bars and clubs. Providencia is a smart neighbourhood with restaurants to match, including Aqui Esta Coco (La Concepción 236 Providencia, Santiago. +56-2-2410-




6200. Mon-Fri 1-3pm, 7-11pm; Sat 1-3pm, 8-11pm. ``-```), which specialises in seafood – the ceviche and king crab pie are particularly good. Peruvian-French restaurant Astrid y Gaston (Calle Antonio Bellet 201, Providencia, Santiago. +56-2-6509125. Mon-Fri 1-3pm, 8pm-midnight; Sat 8pmmidnight. ``-```), also in Providencia, possibly constitutes Peru’s (if not France’s) finest export (after the pisco sour) and Santiago’s best restaurant; though be warned, the prices are as awesome as the dishes on offer. Don’t forget to try Chile’s aperitif, the pisco sour which is a potent blend of pisco spirit with sugar, lime juice and egg white. Another speciality is the terremoto (earthquake): sweet white wine served with pineapple sorbet; it sounds strange, but is actually very refreshing. In upmarket Vitacura, fine dining is the norm on main street Nueva Costanera – try Puerto Fuy (Nueva Costanera 3969, Vitacura, Santiago. + 56-2-208-8908. ```) for sophisticated Chilean-style seafood. Wine connoisseurs should visit one of Chile’s world-class vineyards. Santiago Adventures (Dr Manuel Barros Borgoño 198, Providencia, Santiago. + 56-2-2244-2750. www. can arrange one-day wine tours from the capital to vineyards such as the small Corcoran Gallery and Kingston Family Vineyards (Hijuela El Maitén, Casablanca, 2480000. +56-9-92302917., the latter supplies wine to Marks

& Spencer, and lunch at the larger Casas del Bosque vineyard (Camino Alejandro Galaz, Casablanca, 2480000. +56-9-7-967-7320 www. Mon-Fri 10am5.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Winter Daily 10am-5.30pm)

Take a walk For years Santiago was universally disdained as the global capital of CO2 and smog, but if you make the effort you’ll find plenty of opportunities for walking and cycling here. A vast 22-metre-high statue of the Virgin Mary watches over the city from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal in the Parque Metropolitano (Calle Pio Nono 450 Recoleta Barrio Bellavista, Santiago. +56-2-2730-1331. www. Summer daily 10am6pm, Winter daily 10am-5pm. Adults CLP 3,000, `361; Children, Senior Citizens, Students CLP 1,500, `180) 860m above sea level. Thankfully, Santiago is already 520m above sea level so it’s a manageable 300m to the summit, from where you get a fantastic view; the steep climb will take a good hour or so, otherwise there’s a funicular which runs up from Bellavista. Santa Lucia Hill in downtown Lastarria, is a tranquil park just off Alameda’s main thoroughfare. There’s a panoramic view from the top. The 69-metre-long walk up paved paths, steps through tunnels of trees and past ponds takes about 15 minutes. If you don’t fancy hill-climbing, stroll through the long and narrow Parque Forestal which runs beside the river in the city’s central area.

FACT FILE WHEN TO GO Santiago experiences mild, temperate weather during spring (Sept-Nov). For winter sports, July to September is ideal.

GETTING THERE Flights are available from Mumbai and Delhi with two or three stopovers en route. There are bus services available at the

airport, like Centropuerto (+56-2-2601-9883. Single trip CLP1,350, `163; Round trip CLP 2,600, `315.) and TurBus (+562-822-7741/2. Single trip CLP 1,400, `170; Round trip CLP2,500, `303.), which will take you into the city.

GETTING AROUND Metro fares vary

depending on the time of day. The cost of a ticket during rush hour (7-9am) is CLP670 (`80), CLP610 (`74) during nonpeak hours (6.30-7am, 9am-6pm, 8-8.45pm) and CLP560 (`68) during low-use hours (6-6.30am, 8.45-11pm). To use Transantiago, the integrated bus and metro system, you will need

to purchase a prepaid bip! card (minimum amount CLP1,000, `121) available at all metro stations and various centres across the city.

STAY A short walk from the metro station, Hotel Orly (Avendia Pedro de Valdivia 027, Providencia, Santiago. +56-2-231-

8947. www.orlyhotel. com. ```) in Providencia is traditionally furnished, friendly, comfortable and well located for sightseeing. The hotel has English-speaking staff and Wi-Fi throughout. For a more upscale experience, stay at the five-star Noi Vitacura (Avendia Nueva Costanera 3736, Vitacura, Santiago.


+ 56-2-2941-8100. www. ````) in the exclusive neighbourhood of Vitacura. It has large rooms with all the luxuries expected of a top hotel: Wi-Fi, a fitness centre, library and rooftop swimming pool.







Ruled by the British for many years, Hong Kong is a gleaming example of a marriage between the east and the west. In the tallest city in the world, ferries bob beneath a spectacular skyline, neon lights bombard you from all angles, the aroma of curried and deep-fried goodness wafts off every street corner and the world passes by seemingly quicker than anywhere else.

AROUND TOWN When in the city, it is the world famous Hong Kong skyline that one must not forget to see. With over 2,000 buildings above 100m tall, you have a job at hand and may have some difficulty choosing your preferred method. There are many options: those with a penchant for observation decks could check out Sky100 (100/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Rd W, Kowloon. +852-26133888. Mon-Sun 10am-9pm.

``), the city’s tallest building. Bruce Lee fans can combine skyline-watching with some stargazing along Tsim Sha Tsui’s Avenue of the Stars (Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, next to the southern end of Salisbury Garden. +8523118-3000. ``). You can’t go wrong with the classic view at The Peak (33 Garden Rd, Central, Hong Kong. +852-2522-0922. ``). This soaring mount on Hong Kong Island provides expansive views of the isle’s skyline

and across the Kowloon Peninsula. There is also the Peak Tram, a 19th-century funicular which transports you to an elevation of around 500m. For a taste of the old Hong Kong, take a ride on the city’s retro transportation; The Star Ferry (The Star Ferry Company, Limited Star Ferry Pier, Kowloon Point, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. +852-2367-7065. Mon-Sat 7.20am-10.50pm, Sun, Holidays 7.40am-10.50pm. ``), an iconic service which

Air Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest in the world and a hub for airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Air Hong Kong, Hong Kong Airlines, and Hong Kong Express. Rail The comprehensive railway system has around 152 stations. Hong Kong Tramways covers the northern parts of Hong Kong Island. Road Five privately owned companies provide franchised bus service across the territory, together operating more than 700 routes. Tourist information www.discoverhong, began in 1888, provides a breezy trip between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. For its land counterpart, take a lazy ride aboard one of the city’s trams. Running across the northern strip of Hong Kong Island, these double-decker wonders are a reminder of the colonial past. Hong Kong also has plenty for those


intimidated by the intensity of this urban jungle. About 70 per cent of the city’s borders is countryside, much of which is easily accessible. The Ngong Ping 360 – a cable car takes you to another mustsee sight, the world’s largest seated bronze Buddha. Also check out Tai O, a remarkable town on stilts, just one of the


charming traditional villages on the outskirts of the city.

FOOD & DRINK From delectable street snacks to fine dining, Hong Kong is a paradise for all kinds of foodies. The first stop should be to feast on its most famous culinary export – the dim sum. It is a tradition often described as Cantonese tapas, featuring small plates of dumplings and other delicious morsels. In the last few years, all-day dim sum specialists have become the rage here. However, this revolution was led by the revered Tim Ho Wan (Shop 72, Ground Floor,

Olympian City 2, Olympian City Mall. +852-2332-2896. 10am-9.30pm. ```), the city’s most renowned dim sum experience. For classic Cantonese cuisine, try Tung Po Kitchen (2/F Java Road Municipal Services Building, North Point. +852-28805224. 5.30pm-12.30am. ``). No visit to Hong Kong would be complete without stopping by Chungking Mansion an incredible meeting ground of global cultures. It’s renowned for some of the best sub-continental food in the city, and we’d particularly recommend Indian restaurant Khyber

Pass (Shop E2, 7/F, Block E, Chungking Mansion, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. +852-2721-2786. noon-3pm, 6-11pm. ``). Once you’ve roughed it at some of the less salubrious establishments in the city, treat yourself to the ultimate Hong Kong colonial experience: High tea at the Peninsula Hong Kong (Salisbury Rd, Kowloon. +852-2920-2888. ````).

SHOP Shopping is a religion over here. While the city is filled with flashy high-end malls sporting the most glamorous of global brands, an authentic

Hong Kong shopping windows overlooking Victoria experience is to be had on the Harbour and top cocktail list, street. Mong Kok’s Ladies’ it’s the best drink and view Market (Tung Choi Street, combination going around. Mong Kok, Kowloon. 4-10pm. For cocktails alone, try Lily ``) is perhaps the city’s most (5/F & 6/F LKF Tower No definitive street market. Its 33 Wyndham Street, Central. iconic red, blue and white +852-2810-6166. ```), above tarpaulin-lined stalls the bustling party zone stock everything Wyndham Street. The from watches black-doored 001 to T-shirts, (97 Wellington kid’s toys, Street. +852The 2.2km Tsing as well 2810-6969. ``) Ma Bridge is the as sex is a great choice world’s heaviest and toys. It’s for hanging a bit of a out with your longest road-and-rail tourist trap buddies while suspension bridge and remains on vacation. Fly one of the few (24-30 Ice House St, places in the city where Central. +852-2810-9902. ``) bargaining is a necessary evil. with its penchant for all kinds Cat Street (Upper Lascar of music and young vibe is Row, Sheung Wan. ``), is also a current favourite. the emerging hip district of Sheung Wan and provides a STAY tranquil shopping experience. To experience the best From antiques and pseudoin hospitality at Hong antiques to junk discards from Kong, head to the yesteryear, you get it all here. Mandarin Oriental (5 Connaught Road, Central. +852-2522-0111. www. NIGHTLIFE Hong Kong is a city that ````). From spacious rooms shines (literally) after dark. and a variety of cuisines to If you happen to be around luxurious spa facilities – on a Wednesday evening, it has it all. The Courtyard the races at Happy Valley by Marriott (167 Connaught Racecourse (Wan Chai Rd, West Hong Kong.. District, Hong Kong Island. +852-3717-8888. www. ``) are a must-attend. It’s ```) is a as much about the setting, centrally located hotel and is the cheap drinks and the a huge draw with several of party atmosphere, as it is the city’s visitors. Simplicity about the actual racing. To is the USP of Y-Loft (Youth combine skyline-gazing with Square) hostel rooms a drink head to Aqua (29/F (No 238 Chai Wan Road. & 30/F, 1 Peking Road, Tsim +852-3721-8989. ``). Its Sha Tsui. +852-3427-2288. hostel rooms offer the basic Daily noon-2am except first necessities you’d require day of Chinese New Year. for your stay and is easy on ```). With its expansive the pocket. double-storey floor-to-ceiling


Do visit Disney and Ocean Park to experience two of the greatest amusement parks in one city. Why go? Hong Kong offers the world’s best opportunities for bargain hunting. Buy The Octopus Card which can be used instead of cash at most places in the city. Watch A movie at 3.30am at Chinachem Cinema in Tsim Sha Tsui.





TRAVEL TALK Like many Asian cities, Kuala Lumpur, appears to be quite haphazard -- the name translates to muddy river confluence in Malay. But spend a few days here and you’ll find yourself immersed in cultural diversity, a result of Malay, Chinese, Indian and British influences, which is reflected in all aspects of the capital including its architecture, cuisine, shopping and nightlife.

AROUND TOWN With towering skyscrapers that are interspersed with pockets of greenery, Kuala Lumpur can best be described as a fusion metropolis. At Skytrex Adventure Park (Taman Pertanian Malaysia, Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam 40000 Shah Alam. +6013276-9841. 9am-6pm. ```), partake in an aerial obstacle course that allows you to glide, swing and crawl from one tree bridge to another. The Islamic Arts Museum (Jalan Lembah Perdana. +603-22742020. 10am-6pm. ``) features travelling world exhibitions and contemporary Islamic artwork. The Numismatic Museum (Sasana Kijang, 2 Jalan Dato’ Onn. +603-9179-

2784. 10am-6pm. ``) is an interactive gallery. Heritage walks are the best way to experience the gritty side of the old city. Rakan KL’s walkabout reveals the city’s rich Art Deco influences, street graffiti and hidden eateries. The KL City Hall guided tour (1st Floor, Gallery Kuala Lumpur, 27 Jalan Raja, Dataran Merdeka. +6032698-0332. ``) helps you tap into the nostalgic charms of Brickfields, the century-old Sri Kandaswamy Temple and Vivekananda Ashram. In the evening, ascend to the giddy heights of the Petronas Twin Tower Observation Deck (Lower Ground (Concourse) Level, Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

+603-2331-8080. ```) up to the 86th floor, which offers a stunning view of the city’s skyline. Batu Caves (Jalan Batu Caves, 68100 Selangor. +603-6189-6284. ``) is the poster attraction of the metropolis.

FOOD & DRINK Kuala Lumpur brims with culinary choices. For the Malaysian staple breakfast of Nasi Lemak, head to Village Park Restaurant (5 Jalan SS21/37 Damansara Utama. +603-7710-7860. ``). Songket (29, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng. +603-2161-3331. ``) is a classy choice for authentic Malay food. Comforting Cantonese cuisine can be had at Soo Kee (14 Jalan Medan

Air The Kuala Lumpur International Airport has various international connections and is well connected to India. Rail The railway network includes two Light Transit lines, three commuter rail lines, a monorail and an airport link with underground, elevated or at-grade stations around the city. Road The largest bus transport operator is RapidKL which connects all parts of the ciy. The taxis available run extensively on natural gas. Tourist information,

Imbi, Imbi. +603-2148-1324. ``). Jalan Alor’s Wong Ah Wah (1 Jalan Alor. +6032144-2463. `) makes the best barbecued chicken wings in town. For a typically old-school Hainanese experience, 1930s coffee shop Yut Kee (35 Jalan Dang Wangi. +603-26988108. ``) plates up its famous pork chops. If you prefer to avoid the grime of KL’s alleys, Lot 10 Hutong (Lot 10 Hutong, Lot 10 Shopping


Centre. +603-2782-3840. ``) sells upgraded versions of original stall favourites in air-conditioned settings with the Soong Kee beef noodles a firm favourite. Vishal’s Food & Catering (22 Jalan Scott, Brickfield. +603-2274-0995. ``) dishes out platters of some of the city’s best curries onto your banana leaf. To while your nights away Malaysian style, visit a 24-hour mamak restaurant like Nasi Kandar


check out the Seethrough Concept Store (No 25, 1st Floor, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru. +603Exchange books 2284-1868. for free at 11am-9pm. BookCrossing on ```). Round the ground floor of 1 the corner there’s Bazarro Utama mall (No 6-1, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru. +603-2282-8860. ``), that curates the work of Singaporean and Malaysian designers.



Pelita at various locations in the city.

SHOP No city in the world has a mall culture as evolved as KL. One of the best cluster of shopping centres is in the Bukit Bintang district. You’ll find all the big fashion names at Starhill Gallery (181, Jalan Bukit Bintang. +603-2782-3800. ````) and Pavilion KL (168 Jalan Bukit Bintang. +603-2118-8833. ```). If you want to get your bargaining hat on, head over to the slightly grittier Sungei Wang Plaza (SWP Box No.

009, Jalan Bukit Bintang. +603-2144-9988. `). For a dose of cool try Publika, a shopping gallery. Here, you’ll find restored vintage frames, chairs and local illustrations at Outdated (No 10, Level G3, Solaris Dutamas, 1 Jalan Dutamas 1. +603-6211-5055. 10am-9pm. ```); handcrafted leather goods in thirtyfour. bespoke (1 Jalan Dutamas 1, 50754 Solaris Dutamas. +603-6211-4434. 10am-9pm. ```) and funky homeware in Kaleidoscope (G3-37, Solaris Dutamas, 1 Jalan Dutamas 1. +603-6211-1613. 10am-9pm. ``). For local designer fare,

Begin your descent into KL’s cultural underbelly by visiting KLpac (Jalan Strachan, Sentul. +603-40479010. ``), the destination for modern theatre productions. Boutique hotel Sekeping Tenggiri (48 Jalan Tenggiri, Taman Weng Lock, Bangsar. +601-7207-5977. ```) with eye-catching art installations is for the discerning art enthusiast. With its circular and clandestine underground gallery, the country’s maiden destination gallery Rimbun Dahan (Km. 27 Jalan Kuang, Kuang,Selangor. +603-60383690. ``) is accessible twice a year during its annual exhibitions. Wei-Ling Gallery (8 Jalan Scott, Brickfields.

+603-2260-1106. ``) represents several well-known local and regional artists.

MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE It is the bustling nightlife that makes KL one of the most sought-after cities in the world. Pisco (29 Jalan Mesui, off Jalan Nagasari. +603-2142-2900. 5pm-3am. ``), a Spanish tapas bar, is your friendly neighbourhood hangout. A regular among tourists and locals is SkyBar (33rd floor, Traders Hotel. +603-2332-9888. 10am-3am. ````) which serves the finest cocktails in town. Enjoy a drink at Claret Wine Bar (Level 23A, Troika Sky Dining, Tower B, The Troika, KLCC. +603-2162-0886. ```) that overlooks the city. KL’s big clubs usually prefer glitz over quality in music; at Vertigo (RT-02 Rooftop, The Gardens, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra. +601-6339-0860. 9pm-3am. ```), you get the best of both. For the LGBT


community, Frangipani (29 Jalan Changkat Bukit Bintang. +603-2144-3001. ``) is a must-visit. Fans of jazz and blues should head to jazz club No Black Tie (17 Jalan Mesui, Off Jalan Nagasari. +603-2142-3737. 5pm-1am. ```).

STAY Just steps away from the iconic Petronas Towers, InterContinental (165 Jalan Ampang. +603-2161-1111. ````) provides the best view of the city. Located in the central business and shopping district along Jalan Bukit Bintang, The Westin (199 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang. +603-27318333. ```) is a great option for business travellers. The uniquely designed Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral (No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral. +6032723 1188. ```) is a stylish hotel perfect for the hip traveller and is conveniently located close to Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station.

Do carry An umbrella or a raincoat – there is always a chance of a downpour. Do visit Chinatown for clothes and souvenirs at bargain rates. Do buy A preloaded Touch n Go card to avoid long queues at an LRT station. Don’t try Lifting one hand to stop passing cars to cross the street – a skill perfected by locals.




AROUND TOWN Beijing, is big all over; the Forbidden City (4, The Palace Museum, Dongcheng. +86-108500-7428. 8.30am-4pm. ``) alone covers an area greater than 100 football pitches. To avoid the crowds, timing is key. The Forbidden City is best hit two hours before it closes, but you can always spend your morning on the hilltop of Jingshan Park, directly north of the City, for a sneak preview of the regal pad. For a bizarre piece of imperial history, head to Tianyi Mu’s mausoleum (80, Moshikou Dajie. +86-10-8872-4148. ``). Most guidebooks tell you to visit Houhai lake (Xicheng. +86-10-8401-8677. ``) in the evening, but by night, the scene is spoiled with sounds blasting from the shoreside karaoke bars. Unless you’re mad for Mandopop, visit in the daytime. Hire a bike to circumnavigate the waters and branch off

into the hutongs surrounding the nearby Drum and Bell Towers. The National Museum of China (16 E Chang’an Ave, Dongcheng. +86-10-6511-6400. 9am4.30pm. ``), is arguably the largest in the world. Entry is free with your passport via the west entrance on Tiananmen Square, but consider going to the north entrance and buying a ticket to one of the visiting exhibitions. While in Beijing, you’ll probably want to see the Great Wall of China (+8610-6162-6022. 7.30am-5pm. ```). Head to Jinshanling (around two hours by taxi) for the perfect view. Afterwards, soak tired limbs at the Feng Shan Hot Springs Resort (Changping. +86-10-60711188. ```).

FOOD & DRINK Real Chinese food is as diverse as it is delicious. Watch Shanxi-style noodles being

handmade in front of you at the 12-seater Noodle Bar (3 Chongwenmen Outer St, Dongcheng. +86-10-67081188. ```). Discover China’s answer to the kebab and naan at Crescent Moon (16 Dongsi 6th Alley, Dongcheng. +86-10-6400-5281. ```). Taste fragrant, Thai-esque cuisine while chilling out on the mezzanine at Little Yunnan (28, Donghuang Chenggen Beijie, Dongcheng. +86-10-6401-9498. ``), or fill yourself up with hearty Manchurian dumplings at the perennial favourite Mr Shi’s (74 Baochao Hutong, Dongcheng. +86-10-84050399. ``). You can’t come to Beijing and not indulge in Peking duck at the Da Dong (Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng. +86-10-5169-0329. ``). If you want to learn how to cook this classic dish, contact Hias Gourmet (www., a tour

TRAVEL TALK Air Flights are available from major Indian metros like Mumbai and Delhi to Beijing Capital International Airport. Rail The Beijing Suburban Railway provides commuter rail service to the outlying suburbs. There are also direct passenger train services to most cities in China. Road The city has nearly a thousand public bus and trolleybus lines. Metered taxis start at ¥13 (`8) for the first 3km. Tourist information www.english.visit,



Formerly known as Peking, the capital of the People’s Republic of China is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Here, the traditional and the modern coexist, with imperial architecture like the Forbidden City – the royal palace – and the Temple of Heaven, as well as contemporary styles that dominate the Central Business District.

company that organises Peking duck demonstrations with the city’s top chefs. Baijiu, the local alcohol of choice, is sake’s ugly cousin. Instead, opt for baijiu-laced mixes and more pleasant cocktails at the rooftop bar of The Emperor Hotel (33 Qihelou Street, Dongcheng. +86-10-6526-5566. ```). Great Leap Brewing (6, Doujiao Hutong, Dongcheng. +86-10-5717-1399. ``) is a charming watering hole in a hutong setting near Houhai lake, with homemade brews ranging from Indian pale ales to thick stouts. Don’t miss the ceremonial pourings and English explanations at Confucian Teahouse (28 Guozijian St, Dongcheng. +8610-8404-8539. ``), opposite the Confucius temple.


+86-10-5978-9316. `). The open-air installations, eateries and poster shops make for a pleasant stroll, but if you’re serious about art, you’re better off at Caochangdi. The area can be difficult to navigate if you don’t speak Chinese, so consider hiring a taxi for the afternoon and note down gallery numbers in advance. Your best bets there are Pekin Fine Arts (241, Cao Chang Di Village, Cui Ge Zhuang, Chaoyang. +86-105127-3220. ``) and Three Shadows Photography Centre (Pasture Dicun,

6551-5138. ``) remains a hub for Beijing’s gay community. For the party-goers Gulou is MUSIC & a must-visit. It is an area that NIGHTLIFE hums with activity thanks to The biggest concentration of the innumerable bars, clubs nightclubs is around Workers’ and live houses in its alleys. Stadium, in the east of the The undoubted clubbing city. Lantern (5, Xicheng. highlight here is Dada (206 +86-10-8328-5771. ``), an Gulou Dong Dajie. +86-183underground cavern, plays 1108-0818. ```), a spin-off every electronic genre you from one of Shanghai’s most could hope to dance beloved alternative to. Destination venues. Serving up (7 Workers’ everything from Stadium West northern soul Rd, Chaoyang. and dubstep The common term +86-10to Afro-funk for non-Asians in and trap, it’s Beijing is laowai, the city’s most which means unpredictable, foreigner but credible dance venue. Temple Bar (206, Gulou Dong Dajie, Dongcheng. +86-134-2607-0554 ```), a gloriously murky live music joint, hosts top-notch local and international acts. If live music is your thing, then

Chaoyang. +86-10-64322663. ``).


the 10-year-old Midi (www. is for hardcore headbangers while the eclectic Strawberry (festival. is a mass gathering for Chinese hipsters.

STAY Mao’er Courtyard (28 Mao’er Hutong, Dongcheng.. +86-13-66121-9901. ``), a charming four-room guest house, perfect for visitors who want a taste of Old Beijing.The Kerry Hotel (1 Guanghua Rd. +86-106561-8833. www.shangri-la. com. ```) provides guests with excellent facilities minus the luxury price tag. Aman (Summer Palace, 1 Gongmenqian St. +86-105987-9999. www.amanresorts. com. ````) is a collection of Qing Dynasty villas that once housed officials waiting to see the emperor at the Summer Palace.

Do visit Hutongs, an integral part of the traditional architecture and culture. Check out Xiushui Street for local specialties like fresh-water pearls. Don’t forget Your doggie bag while eating out or as the locals call it, dabao. Don’t look Summers see portly Beijingers exposing flab from under rolled-up tops – referred to as the Beijing belly.


Many people come to China expecting a boxed-up society and are surprised when they find art brimming with social commentary in the 798 Art District. For works by top international and Chinese artists head to UCCA (4 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang. +86-10-5780-0200. `), Pace (2, Jiuxianqiao Rd. +86-10-5978-9781. `) and Faurschou (Chaoyang.







Popularly known as the Venice of the East, the name Bangkok literally means City of Angels in Thai. Its friendly and vibrant population, centuriesold temples, modern nightlife and restaurants, and incredible food, make it one of the most dynamic and exciting metropolises in the world.

AROUND TOWN When in Bangkok make sure you immerse yourself in the beauty of Buddhist temples (wats). Wat Kalayanamit (371 Soi Wat Kalaya, Thanon Tetsaban Sai 1, Kudi Jeen. +66-02-466-4643. 7am-5pm. ``) houses Thailand’s largest indoor sitting Buddha at a height of 15m. It also boasts its highest chofa (roof finial) and biggest bell. Wat Suthat (Bamrung Mueang Rd, Phra Nakhon. +66-02-221-4331. Daily 8.30am-9pm. ``), Bangkok’s tallest vihaan, houses another awe-inducing Buddha, the 8-metre tall Phra Sri Sakyamuni Buddha. At Wat Benchamabophit (69 Thanon Rama V, Dusit. +66-02-282-7413. Daily 9am-5pm. ``), images of Buddha from different eras can be seen in the cloister. Though most of Bangkok’s canals have been lost to roads and buildings, it is still considered the Venice of the East. Khlongs, or canals,

thread through the Thonburi west bank and branch out into the plantations of Nonthaburi. Photography gets exposure at Phranakorn Bar (58/2 Soi Damnoen Klang Tai. +66-02-622-0282. Daily 6pm-1am. ``), and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (Penthouse, Maneeya, 518/5 Phloen Chit Rd., Beside Amarin Plaza, Bangrak. +66-02-652-0581. ```). The Thailand Creative & Design Centre (622 Emporium Tower 24th floor, Sukhumvit 24 Rd, Klongton. +66-02664-8448. Tue-Sun 10.30am9pm. ```) holds world-class exhibitions and events. Thai dance and puppetry are inseparable. Catch a show at Aksra Theatre (1Rangnam Rd, Phaya Thai, Ratchathewi. +66-02-677-8888. Thurs, Sat-Sun 7pm; Fri 1pm. ``).

FOOD & DRINK Bangkok’s cuisine exhibits influences of both its

neighbours – India and China – and yet remains singular in its style and complexity. Southern Thai dishes with their signature spiciness can be sampled at Ruen Mallika (189 Sukhumvit 22 Klongtoey, Other Zone. +66-02-9461000. Daily 11am-11pm. ``). Lanna (northern Thai cuisine) food, influenced by Burma and Yunnan, is found at agricultural markets, notably Or Tor Kor (Kamphaengphet Rd. Daily 6am-10pm. ``). Resembling a 1950s Tokyo diner, Bo.lan (42 Pichai Ronnarong Songkram,Sukhumvit 26, Klongteoy. +66-02-260-2962. Tue-Sun 6.30-10pm. ``) serves small meals that are good value for money. At Chote Chitr (146 Praeng Phuton Rd. +66-02-221-4082. Mon-Sat 10.30am-9pm. ```) the food is as close as you’ll get to home cooking in a restaurant setting. Taling Pling (653 Bld. 7, Baan Silom Arcade, Silom Rd, Silom. +66-

TRAVEL TALK Air Bangkok has two airports – the older Don Mueang International Airport and the new Bangkok International Airport – which are connected to India through all major airlines. Rail The city is currently served by three rapid transit systems: the BTS Skytrain, the underground MRT and the elevated Airport Rail Link. The State Railways also operates daily commuter trains running to and from the outskirts of the city. Road An extensive bus network provides local transit services within the Greater Bangkok area. Taxis and tuk-tuks are also common modes of transport. Water Several water buses, such as the Chao Phraya Express Boat, ferry passengers along the river every day. Tourist information www.tourismthailand. org,

02-234-4872. Daily 11am10pm. ```) combines bright decor with tasty rural cooking. Sirocco (1055 State Tower, Silom Rd. +66-02-624-9555. Daily 6pm-1am. ```) features an upscale Italian menu served against a backdrop of extraordinary views. The Sky Bar (The Dome at lebua,


63rd floor, 1055/42 Silom Rd, Bangrak. +66-02-6249999. Daily 6pm-1am. ````), suspended on a precipice 250m above the ground, provides Bangkok’s coolest snapshot. Red Sky (Fifth floor, Centara Grand at CentralWorld. +66-02-100-1234. Daily 6pm-1am. ````) offers fine





+66-02-224-2422. Mon-Sat 9.30am-4pm. ````) and bronze foundry workers in the lane beside Wat Suwannaram (33 Charan Sanit Wong Soi 32. +66-02-433-8045. Daily 8am-5pm. ``). Visit Siam Square (Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Siam Square Soi 6, Pathumwan, Lakhon Nai, a Thai Rama 1 Rd. classical dance-drama, +66-02-209used to once be an 8888. Daily all-female court Nana areas 10am-10pm. repertoire for souvenir ```), a hub for crafts and everything from Paragon Passage luxury fashion and at Siam Paragon (991 Rama electronics to cheap jewellery 1 Rd. +66-02-610-8000. and handicrafts. Daily 10am-10pm. ```) and MUSIC & Exotique Thai at Emporium NIGHTLIFE (622 Sukhumvit Rd, Klongton, At local clubs revellers groove Klongtoey. +66-02-269-1000. around tall tables, munching Daily10am-10pm. ```) on bar snacks and topping for higher quality Siamese up their whisky-cokes. collectibles. You can still buy Stalwarts like Narcissus crafts straight from their (112 Sukhumvit Soi 23 Rd, source. Artisans working in Klongtoey Nua, Watthana. and around Bangkok include +66-02-664-0373. Daily the weavers at Ban Khrua 9pm-3am. ```) diversifies Thai Silk (837 Baan Krua Soi dance parties and foreign 9. +66-02-243-9089. Daily DJs boosting Bangkok’s 7am-6pm. ```), metalbeaters credibility as an international at the Monk’s Bowl Village party hub. Top local and (71 Soi Ban Baat. +66-02international DJs also spin 621-2635. ``), goldsmiths at at 808 (29/53-64, Block C, Tang Toh Kang (345 Wanit Royal City Avenue. +66-02Soi 1, at Thanon Mangkorn.


dining and a wine bar from a 55th-floor perch. Slightly cheaper, Zense (Level 17, Zen World @ Central World, 4, 4/5 Rajadamri Rd, Pathumwan. +66-02-100-9898. Daily 5.30pm-1am. ```), on the 17th floor of the Zen department store, is a something-foreveryone eatery.

SHOP You can pick up trinkets, like a Thai amulet adorned with the faces of a monk or Buddha, at centres like Tha Phrachan’s Amulet Market, or the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Bangkok’s retail scene is replete with imitations. Head to River City (Samphanthawong. Daily 10am-7pm. ```) for antique Asian objets d’art; to Khao San Road and Sukhumvit’s

622-2572. Tue-Sun 9pm-2am. ```) and Q Bar (34 Sukhumvit Soi 11. +66-02-252-3274. Daily 8pm-1am. ``). Calypso (2194 Charoenkrug 72-76 Rd, Prayakraj Bangor Laem. +66-02-688-1415. Shows daily 8.15-9.30pm, 9.45-11pm. ```) is Bangkok’s original ladyboy cabaret with Vegasish routines. Raintree (116/64 Soi Rang Nam, Thanon Phayathai. +66-02-245-7230. Daily 6pm-1am. ```) hosts ‘songs for life’, a mix of Thai riffs and country rock. Brick Bar (265 Khao San Road, Taladyod, Phranakorn. +6602-629-4477. Daily 8pm-1am. ``) serves up energetic ska. Even heavy metal has a home in Bangkok, at the Rock Pub (93/26-28 Hollywood Street Building Phayathai Rat Tevee, Other Zone. +66-02-2089013. Daily 7pm-2am. ``). Phiphat Wong (Thai classical orchestra) can be enjoyed at Tawandang German Brewhouse (462/61 Thanon Narathiwat Ratchanakharin, at


Thanon Rama III. +66-02678-1114-6. Daily 5pm-1am. ```).

STAY For a piece of Bangkok’s history, you can choose to stay at The Atlanta Hotel (78 Soi 2 Sukhumvit Rd. +66-02-252-6069. www. ````). Get a taste of the high life, head to Le Meredien (40/5 Surawong Rd Bangrak. +66-02-232-8888. www. lemeridianbangkokpatpong. com. ````) which is located in the heart of the city. For shopaholics, Lub-D (925/9 Rama 1 Rd., Wangmai, Patumwan. +6602-612-4999. ```) is ideal as it is located in Siam Square, the best shopping area in Bangkok. For those on a tight budget, Seven (Sawasdee Bldg, 237 Sukhumvit 31, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana. +66-02-662-0951. ``) is a viable option.

Do visit The haberdasheries which can tailor bespoke suits and dresses for bargain prices. Do learn Thai massage at Wat Pho with lessons given in English. Do train In Muay Thai kickboxing at Fairtex and earn various titles. Do take a beach break at Ko Samet, a dagger-shaped islet in Rayong province.




TECH THE HALLS Fifteen gadgets and accessories that make for the coolest stocking stuffers this festive season By Rachel LeWinter



1 iPad-to-foosball table converter Hammacher Schlemmer $79.95 (`4,935);


2 Toaster four-port USB hub and SD card reader Smoko $30 (`1,852);


3 Dual-purpose camera and cooler bag with pocket for iPad Poler $65 (`4,012);


4 iPhone wrist strap Photojojo $35 (`2,160);

5 Portable USB-charged razor 6

ShaveTech $29.99 (`1,851);

6 iPad Air Apple $499–$929 (`30,800-`57,334);

7 iPhone slot machine and charger Hammacher Schlemmer $39.95 (`2,466);


8 Bluetune-Bean rechargeable


Bluetooth speakers with carabiner clip Divoom $69.95 (`4,317);

9 Berlin Boombox portable speaker with built-in stereo amplifier Studio Axel Pfaender $79.99 (`4,936);

a Z2300 Pocket rechargeable 10MP digital camera and instant printer Polaroid $229.95 (`14,192.50);

b Trakdot luggage tracker GlobaTrac $50 (`3,086);


c Orime wireless laser mouse Elecom $28.81 (`1,778);,

d hi-Call Bluetooth gloves (talk via a built-in speaker and microphone in the thumb and pinkie respectively)

a b

hi-Fun $70.97 (`4,380);

e Re:Plattan headphones (made of scrap parts from previous collections; comes with GPS coordinates of the 5sqm of Costa Rican rainforest that is protected on purchase) Urbanears $79.99 (`4,937);,



f WB2100 16.3MP digital camera with 35x telephoto zoom, full HD recording, and 3-inch tiltable LCD screen Samsung $329.99 (`20,344);

e f




Toast of the town Fabiola Monteiro rounds up some must-have bar accessories to let you entertain in style. Photographs by Amit Chakravarty

Gollum Goblet `16,500 Guard your precious brew in true Lord Of The Rings fashion with this Smeagol-inspired goblet. Royal Selangor


Delhi To London Shot Glasses `599 (PER PAIR) Travel halfway around the world – well, almost – with this pair of shot glasses sporting digital prints of the Qutub Minar and Big Ben. Tungs10

Beer Band Drink Markers

Boozemin Hip Flask

$9.41 (`600; SET OF 12)


Available in various colours and labelled according to different personality types, these beer bands will help your guests keep track of their glass or bottle even after they’re a few drinks down. Fred and Friends

With a capacity of up to 205ml, this hip flask masquerades as a prescription bottle – for days when an aspirin just won’t do it. Why So Serious

Brain Freeze Ice Tray $7.78 (`495) Give the term brain freeze a whole new meaning with these quirky ice trays. Each silicone tray comes with four moulds and is dishwasher safe. We recommend experimenting with cocktails instead of plain-old water. Fred and Friends

Coq Au Vin Stopper $10.95 (`697) Quite a literal take on the traditional French dish, this silicone wine bottle stopper is a guaranteed conversation starter. Fred and Friends

Wine Away Emergency Kit `1,185 Armed with bottles of natural bleachfree stain remover, the kit promises to rescue apparel and furnishings from unsightly red wine splotches. It also works on coffee and blood stains although you’d need to add those to your dry cleaning list before they disappear completely. True Vino

Burger Coasters `350 (SET OF 6) A burger with your beer anyone? This durable cardboard coaster pack comprises six pieces each shaped like an ingredient of a burger. When not in use, stack ’em up to create some delish decor. Totally Hot Stuff


Cocktail-themed Napkins `195 (PACK OF 20)

Ceramic Party Cup $9.21 (`586)

Colourful paper napkins that soak up the spirit of the occasion even while tending to mishaps. True Vino

Bite Me! Vampire Tooth Bottle Opener `1,200

Reminisce your beer pong-playing days with this ceramic cup that’s a more environment-friendly take on its polystyrene counterpart. Kikkerland

Save yourself a visit to the dentist and let these fangs pop those bottle caps for you. PropShop24

Ball Wine Opener `529

Wine Stain Napkins `195 (PACK OF 20)

Bring the stadium to your house party. This bottle opener comes with built-in voice chips that sound real commentary every time you pop open a cold one. It also doubles as a fridge magnet. Available in soccer, golf and tennis ball alternatives, it’s a fun accessory to have when everyone’s over to watch the game. Totally Hot Stuff

Stamped with wine-ring stains, these paper napkins just might heighten OCDs in neat freaks. On the bright side, less post-party cleaning for you. True Vino

Screw You Cork Screw `900 Vent that bottled-up angst after a hard day’s work with this not-sosubtle, yet innovative tool. PropShop24

Bottle Screws `700 (PER PAIR)

Mason Jar Shot Glasses `1,499 (SET OF 4) Invented in 1858 by Philadelphia tinsmith John Mason, these handy containers have been used to hold everything from pickled olives to the fancy cocktails they’re dropped in. Here are miniature versions of this hipster bar staple. Why So Serious 106 – TIME OUT EXPLORER – DECEMBER 2013-JANUARY 2014

These silicone bottle stoppers are designed to fit into almost every wine bottle. Available in three colour combinations: red and orange, blue and green, and black and white. PropShop24


Corkcircle Chillsner Beer Chiller $29.95 (`1,906; PER PAIR) Made from stainless steel and filled with non-toxic thermal gel, these chillers will keep your beer cool for up to 45 minutes – just pop them in the freezer for a bit. Easy on maintenance, the set includes two instructional coasters and a freezer storage case. Corkcircle

Beach Mermaid Bottle Opener $14 (`891) Great for a beach-themed do, the bottle opener (9 x 3 inches) is handmade and comes in 20 colour options. By The Sea Shore Decor


Cool Jazz Ice Stirrers `380 These funky ice stirrers will strike the right chord with the musicallyinclined. The kit includes three fretboard-shaped stirrers and guitar moulds and two little spots for musical note ice cubes. Fred and Friends

Custom Map Coasters $29 (`1,846; SET OF 4) Commemorate your favourite drinking destinations with these marble tiles. Decoupaged with maps of your choice, their cork bases will save furniture from scratches. Carolina Cottage



Ambala Peg Measure `1,493 Show off your bartending skills with this stainless-steel and chromed-brass peg measure. Tappu Ki Dukaan

3-in-1 Wine Chiller `3,500 A convenient way to tote your bubbly around, the acrylic wine chiller also serves as an ice bucket – replete with a pair of tongs and a lid. Roti Kapda Makaan

Film Reel Wine Rack `2,500 Film aficionados, keep your wine close at hand before settling down to a movie marathon. Tappu Ki Dukaan

Raven’s Nest Wine Bottle Rack `4,895 Keep your wine safe in this rack that’s quite the clone of an actual raven’s nest, although made of sturdy painted metal instead of twigs. Equipped to stack six bottles. True Vino

Swizzle Sticks Penguin Cocktail Shaker

`500 (PACK OF 25)


Create a stir at your next party with these funky-hued swizzle sticks. Available in five assorted colours. Roti Kapda Makaan

Armed with this 500ml stainless-steel cocktail shaker, you can ensure all your guests have happy feet. Roti Kapda Makaan

STORE DIRECTORY By The Sea Shore Decor


Carolina Cottage

Roti Kapda Makaan


Second Floor, Reproscan, Raghuvanshi Mills, 11/12 Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (W), Mumbai 400013. +91-22-24965527. Mon-Sat 10.30am-7.30pm.

Fred and Friends


Royal Selangor Third Floor, Palladium Mall,

Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (W), Mumbai 400013. +91-22-6651-7426.

Tappu Ki Dukaan 27-A, Kermani Building, Above Saxonia Spects, Sir PM Rd, Opposite Citibank, Fort, Mumbai 400001. +91-22-2204-3716. Mon-Sat 11am-8pm.


Totally Hot Stuff S52 & S53, Mantri Square, Sampige Rd, Malleswaram, Bangalore 560003. +91-80-2266-7252. Daily 11am-10pm.

True Vino


Why So Serious


Take five Long flights getting you down? Here are some top reasons why a stopover at Munich Airport brings respite to the stressed traveller. provide a hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the airport. These tiny private rooms are furnished with a comfortable bed, full-length mirror, and sufficient storage space for luggage. Add to this, a built-in multimedia touch screen panel that lets you control the pod’s environment, check flight information, set an alarm, as well as play a choice of videos and music. The NapCabs also come equipped with an iPhone or MP3 docking station, a USB port and internet access. Rentals start at €30 (`2,500); payment via credit card. Grab a pint For beer lovers, leaving Germany without a glass of freshly brewed ale would be blasphemous. The airport takes care of that too. Airbräu is the inhouse brewery and pub that serves FliegerQuell, a classic semi-dry ale, available all year round, and seasonal favourites like Krampus, the dark winter beer. The pub also conducts half-hour-long brewery tours where travellers can learn

first-hand how a refreshing brew is made. If you couldn’t be bothered with the nerdy details, there’s live entertainment to while away time. Then there is a beer garden with seating for approximately 600 guests, complete with musical performances, chestnut trees and even a maypole. Tee off Take a few swings at the 18hole minigolf course at the Visitors Park. Open when the unpredictable European weather permits, it’s filled with families getting in touch with their sporty side. Apart from minigolf, the park’s theatre runs free movie screenings and exhibits a historic aircraft and rescue helicopter. The minigolf course is open from 9.30am to 5pm; admission for adults is € 3.50 (`300) and €2 (`170) for children under 16 years. Get a massage After all that golfing, de-stress at Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich’s fit & fly SPA. There are a range of massage treatments to choose from such


Zahra Amiruddin For most travel junkies, the journey is as exciting as the destination – that is, until we have to fly through turbulent weather. Imagine the plight on one such trip from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport to Washington, DC’s Dulles International Airport. While the not-so-gentle rocking of the aircraft had left everyone in dreamland, our eyes were wide open. The only consolation during this 18-hour flight was a stopover at Munich. So we anxiously awaited the morning light over Deutschland. As we hit the Munich runway, despite droopy eyes and five carry-on bags, we were eager to explore our temporary abode. At the end of our five-hour layover, we shortlisted some reasons the airport will leave the hassled traveller refreshed. Catch a snooze If like us, you’re unable to sleep on airplanes, the NapCab sleeping cabins are great to get some shut-eye. Located at two points in Terminal 2, they


as the Swedish, foot reflexology, hot chocolate and even the helpful Jet Lag massage which stimulates blood circulation in the legs, neck and shoulders. The spa also features a 17-metre indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna and steam bath, and 24/7 gym. Another option is to relax by the pool with one of the probiotic drinks and sports shakes on offer. Let the kids play Kinderland is where toddlers and tweens can let out some pent-up energy. Highlights include: an adventure plane, arts and crafts section, a ball bath, children’s cinema, Nintendo Wii and even a make-up studio for little princesses. The space also hosts birthday parties and workshops, although we can’t think of anyone who’d want to celebrate their birthday in an airport. Parents can catch a break as their kids are supervised by trained childcare specialists. The first hour is free, after which there is a charge of €3 (`250) per hour.


Turkish delight

solid-white and latticed structures: riwak, a design element typical of Islamic architecture that often employed to visually connect interior and exterior spaces, while offering users respite from the elements. The combination of traditional aesthetics and modern materials is fitting, given the Airline’s objective to offer guests a ‘contemporary Turkey experience’. The semi-permeable archways create a sense of intrigue, inviting visitors to meander through and discover what the lounge has to offer. So what exactly does the Airline have to offer its business class passengers and membership holders? Besides the aforementioned amenities, patrons can indulge in a massage, a shower – and even a quick nap thereafter in the resting room. For workaholics, there’s a meetingworking area. The new lounge (part of the recent extension) features a glass facade with ample natural light filtering through, an olive garden with centenary olive trees and a rather eerie piano that plays itself. And of course, there’s highspeed WiFi connectivity to allay all social media separation anxiety. When it comes to food and drink,


Gretchen Ferrao There’s something about exclusive airport lounges. Not in a classist my-recliner-is-cooler-than-yourrecliner sort of way. It’s more of a neurotic pleasure that only fellow agoraphobes or borderline mysophobes could understand. Exclusive lounges equal fewer people equal more personal space and usually, better hygiene. So when invited to the Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge during a longish layover at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, naturally, we weren’t inclined to say no. Stepping in though, we were rethinking our decision, seeing as it was chaotically abuzz with chatty co-passengers – quite a few of whom would be well under the permissible height and age limit at theme-park rides. Our first instinct was to bolt. After all, we were here for the quiet (and complimentary alcohol), not to play hurdle to a sugared-up kiddie obstacle race. Our host though, seemed most enthusiastic – to a point of dictatorial fun-enslaver, almost – and it would be rude to play spoilsport. Besides, the design fiend in us started to take over as we walked further in. Dressed in warm, earthy hues, the lounge was originally conceptualised in 2011 by Istanbulbased design practice Autoban. The 3,000-square-metre space was renovated in March 2013 to provide for a high demand of about 2,000 passengers per day. Designwise, the first thing to draw the eye is a series of arched globular porticos that define multiple activity areas: a library-cum-billiard hall, an open buffet, a children’s playroom, and even a mini theatre. In a later correspondence with the designers, we learned the local term for these


Turkey’s national carrier’s CIP Lounge at Ataturk Airport is a contemporarytraditional mix of design, cuisine and service offerings

Turkish Airlines goes the whole, umm, nine yards. Multiple food stations serve up everything from soups, salads and fresh fruits to grilled meaty goodies, pastas and pastries (Do not board that plane without trying the baklava). While the lines for the grill station may evoke thoughts of a soup kitchen – or worse, a ticket queue at Dadar station – we recommend you put all pride aside and wait your turn for the Turkish-style mezze and pide, a pizza-like preparation made


with local flatbread, topped with a variety of ingredients. Don’t be embarrassed to pile it onto your plate (Yes, we really did mean all pride aside.); it’s that good, and you definitely don’t want to get back in line for seconds. Once you’ve immersed yourself in and pretty much become the chaos, it’s hard to forgo this kind of hedonistic comfort. We managed to tear ourselves away from it, though. There was duty-free shopping to be done, after all.


SING FLING Ayesha Venkataraman throws herself into the tourist trap and survives to tell all what to steer clear of when in Singapore I recently made an impromptu trip to the city-state and island-country (a dream within a dream, if you will) of Singapore and was quick to catch on to its villainous ambition. Fair warning, Singapore is remaking the world in its own stainless image and it’s all for the better. The city (or insert your favourite geographic moniker) has been rather successful in this lofty endeavour thus far, that is until I came along – an errant cog in its well-oiled machine. There’s a right way to visit Singapore but this isn’t it. Airport, I looked like someone who had just experienced flight while perched on the wing of a plane. Changi’s shiny magnificence (complete with a butterfly garden and koi pond) faithfully reflected my wretched stupor, in stark contrast to the airbrushed folk around me. I conjectured that there were Singaporeans standing by, ready to contain my messiness. But most looked away, rejecting ownership, much as they would a piece of gum.

The great houdinis Zoos can be a telling by-product of civilization. If you’ve ever caught sight of a frolicking animal, wholly indifferent to the gawking humans that run from one enclosure to the next, it should make you question who’s really in control. Such was my experience at the sprawling 64-acre Singapore zoo. I arrived there in the afternoon, which

Hung out on drugs Taking a red-eye flight to Singapore after a hyper-caffeinated day at work was a decidedly poor move. Try as I might, sleep remained elusive, exacerbated by the glare of the central TV on which a pintsized plane inched along our dotted course – an insufferable torment for the sleepless. Time elongated no matter what the distraction. An hour away from Singapore, my sluggish mind was laid waste by the morning’s ambush of light, with strained nerves giving way to a jackhammer throb. It was at this precise moment that the overhead speakers crackled to life bearing grave tidings,

something to the effect of ‘drug users and traffickers will be sent to the gallows post-haste.’ I half expected them to recite a laundry list of other crimes and their penalties, just in the interest of being thorough. But the same announcement was made ad nauseam (quite literally!) with the airy nonchalance of the directive to keep the seats upright. I wondered about the arbitrariness of such draconian laws as I popped a cocktail of State-sanctioned pills for my migraine, but it was well too much to think about. You are to get high using Singapore Airlines, or nothing at all. Got it. Finally landing in Singapore’s pristine Changi


gave me only a few hours of exploration. Determined to get my money’s worth, I trekked from the rugged Ethiopian rift valley where red-bottomed baboons humped in wild abandon to the frozen tundra where a cotton-ball polar bear seemed ripe for a hug. But the list of animals was endless, and I ran from mammal to amphibian like a conscientious paparazzo. At the sound of the dreaded closing announcements, I scampered from the view of the shepherding security guards into the reptile enclosure. There I lay in wait till they had passed, and continue on my quest to see every denizen at the zoo. A few minutes later, I trotted towards the Australian outback but there were no wallabies or kangaroos in sight. In fact, all the animals seemed to have made a run for it, with only barren land and water for miles. It struck me that they had likely been taken out of their

enclosures for feeding before the night safari. But how do you make crocodiles, proboscis monkeys, tigers and pygmy hippos disappear in a matter of minutes? It seemed the rug had been pulled out from under them, to reveal a gaping hole below. Wandering around, I realised that it had instead been pulled from beneath me.

Gardens galore Singapore seems to have a singular fascination with parks. Not your garden variety ones, but parks with venus flytraps, baobab trees and wollemi pines (that were only known from fossils till they were discovered in 1994). All these and about 250 thousand other rare plants are housed within the city’s newest marvel, Gardens by the Bay. Mimicking a variety of subtropical ecosystems, it seemingly eliminates the need for travel elsewhere. I jumped at the chance of experiencing first-hand its famed conservatories, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, aka horticultural heaven. But every time I let myself get lost in its sea of flora, I was jarred back to plastic reality by the ‘Do Not Touch’ signs and other neon dictums that screamed for attention. What’s

the point of nature if not to invite contemplation? I contemplated. So I set out in search of such uninterrupted reverie at the more bucolic Singapore Botanic Gardens. This boasts of separate areas dedicated to orchids, ginger and bonsai among others, with gazebos, swans and waterfalls thrown in for good measure. But the nectar, it seemed to me, was its tropical rainforest, one of two in the world to be found within city limits (the other can be found in Rio de Janeiro). My plan was to spend the day meandering through, stopping to read at every bench. But a rainforest, I’ll have you know, is no place for a stroll. Its dense vegetation, while shrouding you from sunlight, significantly increases the number of insects and humidity. A claustrophobic nightmare for some, and one that I only woke up to halfway through its 15-acre spread. My afternoon’s read, Ron Jonson’s Lost at Sea, seemed only to be mocking my plight. I felt trapped in its spider web, a chattering mind and miles to go. When I finally found my way out, I wanted nothing to do with nature, but most of all, myself.


the befuddled expressions around me were anything to go by, the Chinese themselves needed to divine an understanding of it. I must have walked the entire length of Chinatown asking around with no success. Finally a sympathetic woman asked her bilingual son to translate my gibberish to her, before pointing me to a ‘magic’ store across the street. As I approached the Promised Land, I saw crystal balls, tarot cards, palmistry manuals and other questionable means of prediction in the storefront window. If there was ever a place to find these slender sticks, this was it. An angular fellow manned the counter and understood me with little difficulty. “Yarrow stalks,” he repeated with a chuckle. “We don’t keep that. You might be lost,” he said. Lost, indeed.


Coals to Newcastle Chinatown looks the same everywhere. Envision a gold and red gateway arch, dragon motifs, corridors lined with Chinese trinkets, antiques, clothes, medicine, handicrafts, chopsticks and countless zodiac symbols carved in jade. I went there looking for yarrow stalks to gift, but found myself immediately drawn in by the wafting smells and hubbub that are a far cry from candy-coated Singapore. More to the point though, what are yarrow stalks? This was the question posed by many a quizzical Chinese vendor before handing me chopsticks in consolation. Yarrow stalks, I tried poorly to explain, are a part of the I Ching, one of the oldest divination systems in China. Or so I was told by my boyfriend who had recently taken to Eastern mysticism. But if


By Vandana Verma


ollow the thumping,” the voice at the end of the line intoned as I slowly did a second loop past Tivoli Daffodils in Chhatarpur. “Look for a marble shop,” the voice elaborated, having chanced upon the destination only minutes before, and sensing that the cryptic clues weren’t going anywhere. Until finally, “I think I saw a sign on an A4 sheet of paper outside, look for that.” That was the first edition of City Sessions, a sweaty throwdown in Delhi the summer just past, that forsook the cheek-by-jowl bars of Hauz Khas Village and the schmancy clubs of South Delhi in favour of a pokey room above a marble shop. By day this space sits in a dusty neighbourhood notable only for a preponderance of farmhouses for hire, hardware stores, and well, lots of other marble shops. But on this sticky summer night, many hours after all the contractors had headed home, it transformed into a pop-up party space complete with a makeshift bar that ran dry only hours in. There wasn’t a sign after all, but the crowd came armed with Google-Mapped coordinates and knew they’d find a party that’d go on until sun-up. At least. If, like me and everyone else I bumped up against or trod on at

that crowded Chhatarpur terrace, you’re feeling done with the big corporate club, with the doormen and the cocktails that round up at 1K and all the other frippery that goes with, then these might be for you. If you’re still keen on proper gigs, and not just the odd bounce around the bar, then these parties are for you. The term pop-up has been overused to the point that I groan every time someone trots it out; although, these pop-up club nights are nothing but a party in a space you probably wouldn’t have thought to throw a party. Delhi’s nightlife has had a shaky trajectory, having to battle safety issues and closing time issues like the rest of the country, and in the past, a resolute resistance to new music. Not everything’s changed, but that last one has: there’s an appetite for freshness that’s brand new. It’s the most significant change from a time when the city presented three novel places to see and be seen one ‘season’ that fell out of favour the next, only to be redecorated and relaunched soon after to the tune of fervent prayers for longevity this time round. No, this movement out of the bars and into the streets, into marble shops and into warehouses (more of that in a bit) represents a genuine desire to shake up those staid club nights into experiences that are altogether more inventive, and more affordable to boot. It’s win-win really. You find an unused secret space for me to dance in, and I will come and buy enough of your cheap beer so you can go out and do it all again. These aren’t the cornfield parties of 2002. But this set of club nights does blur the line between those old-school raves and regular clubs. Except this time you don’t have to mosey into the nether regions of Haryana with your fingers crossed, because nights like City Sessions are accessible, and still short-lived enough (one night only for the most part) to keep the fickle among us keen on having another go.

There’s a new venue in town called Bakheda that promises more where that came from. It has already been nabbed for the Red Bull Music Academy workshop at the end of the year, and hosted a bunch of relaxed acoustic performances and the odd party. With its whitewashed brick walls and high corrugated tin roof, this venue delivers atmosphere in droves. Situated in Said-ul-Ajaib, a stone’s throw from a massive field (can you say parking jackpot?) and with a little patch of green out back where the smokers congregate, Bakheda’s not just a party spot, although I’m certain that in time it will be a great one. It’s also perfect for intimate gigs, book readings, art launches, or hell, birthday parties.

This movement out of the bars and into the streets represents a genuine desire to shake up those staid club nights Elsewhere around the world warehouse parties might’ve kicked off sometime in the ’80’s, but an embryonic scene’s meant that it’s taken some time for a similar spirit of exploration to take root here. Run by a twelve-partner team, Bakheda isn’t making any real money but it radiates the group’s commitment toward not only making use of the area, but also investing in it and making it better. Using it requires a little more DIY effort than walking into a fullyloaded nightclub, I’ll grant you, but honestly, it is worth it. So many club owners spend tons creating identikit drinking dens that blend into one another and then fade away as quickly as they emerged; while the greatest, sweatiest scrums, the ones that end with a


bleary-eyed stumble home at 6am, well, those happen in raw urban spaces like this one. Still, it’s not necessarily about traipsing off into an unexplored venue, or grimy city takeovers. My appreciation of this new wave of party planning, and to the consideration given to the site of a shindig, extends to luxe endeavours as well. The Magnetic Fields festival, at Alsisar in Rajasthan this December, brings together a super line-up with an even more super venue: a palace! I’m happy to swap muddy shoes and moderately grotty hotels in favour of palace suites and luxury tents. But is it just the venue? Not really, this is a fest that promises morning yoga sessions, carefully crafted staging and a thoughtful, locally flavoured menu. Peace and love can be thin on the heaving grounds of Sunburn Goa, but I reckon I’ll be brimming over with love for my fellow festivalgoers when I don’t have to queue for ages for my drink and even more so later at night when I’m safely ensconced in my glamorous tent with running water, heating and proper beds, free to revisit the day’s best musical moments. Move over yuppies, I’m doing it right at this boutique fest. And what of City Sessions? A third edition this month saw a new venue, same crowd, and another till-dawn party. There was a golden patch when cafe-bar TLR (The Living Room) dished up that sort of party every week. Before Hauz Khas Village became the stinking heap it is today, TLR was the pub that morphed into a sweatbox with startling regularity. When things got really nuts on weekends, you’d often find yourself elbowing the DJ in the ribs, or standing on someone’s toes while they good-naturedly pretended you weren’t. It didn’t last, more’s the pity, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic about what comes next. Vandana Verma is the editor of Motherland magazine and travel website The India Tube. She also blogs at

Toe dec jan 2014  
Toe dec jan 2014