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Because everyone deserves a great getaway

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Miniguide P l a y ÝS h o p ÝE a t ÝS t a y

EGYPT Land of mystique and adventure

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WITH COMPLIMENTS OF ESCAPE! MICA (P) NO: 015/02/2010 PPS 1694/07/2011(020130) ISSN 0219-8967

ways to discover

North Island,

NEW ZEALAND

Vol. 3 Issue. 5 SGD6 / RM12 THB195 / RP75,000

PLUS

ANTWERPtVALENCIAtKANSAItTAIPEItKRABI


contents

On the cover: North Island, New Zealand

DESTINATIONS

28 City Reporter

CAPTIAL OF COOL And you thought Antwerp was just another old European city?

36 Asia

KANPAI TO KANSAI Experience the myriad pleasures of Kobe, Sakai and Nara

44 Cover Feature

new zealand Italy

NORTHERN STAR Discover New Zealand’s North Island beyond its famously beautiful landscapes

58 International

VALENCIA’S BIG BANG Find out why Las Fallas is such a huge festival in the Spanish coastal city

66 The Great Escape

NORTHERN STAR Though the smaller of the two New Zealand Islands, North Island shines with its plethora of offerings.

44Geyser Rotorua Pohutu

2

Champagne Pool Waiotapu

image ROB SUISTED

image CHRIS MCLENNA

words JOYCE

KRABI, THAILAND Great travel experiences to remember for a lifetime at Rayavadee


contents REGULARS

16 Calendar

Jot these exciting events into your vacation schedule

18 Directions

Eat, drink, play, shop and stay at some of our favourite destinations

76 Weekend

TAIPEI ROCKS Get addicted to Taipei’s unflagging energy

80 Notes

Get the insider scoop on the travel industry

82 Frequent Flyer

Television presenter Anthony Morse has the perfect trick for getting to know a foreign country

84 Essentials

HIT THE ROAD Stylish finds and cool gadgets to take on your road trip

86 Luxe Stays

OASIS IN THE CITY Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore’s Valley Wing opens the door to a world of refinement

90 Intinerary

ROMANTIC EUROPE Seeing the best of Europe in 20 days can feel as heady as a whirlwind romance

102 Subscription

Subscribe to escape! and win fabulous gifts

72 On The Road

WORDSWORTH’S CUMBRIA A drive holiday through Britain isn’t complete without a sojourn to its lovely Lake District

105 Journal

escape! was spotted at the NATAS and MATTA fairs in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur

112 Parting Shot

Cantho, Vietnam

4


editor’s note

photography JULIANA CHAN

Knowing me, knowing you

Hello! My name is Juliana and I am your new editor. I am, however, not new to the delights of travelling. In my 20-year journalistic career, I have been fortunate to have seen quite a bit of the world, including some of the best honeymoon destinations as well as precious pockets of earth that have changed my perception of life forever. What I have come to accept about travelling is that it never always goes as planned, but then not always in a bad way. I have learnt to expect the unexpected. When it happens, I am prepared to go along with the ride and enjoy the surprises. Recently, I was in Australia where I was to spend some five glorious days camping out in Anna Creek for a signature event called the Great Australian Outback Cattle Drive. What I expected to do was learn to ride a horse well enough to herd cattle through the country, so they can graze on the vast salt plains. What nobody expected was rain – this is after all one of the most arid regions on earth that just three years back suffered a devastating drought. And we didn’t just get a passing shower. In that one day we had the equivalent of three years of rainfall for the region, and this meant abandoning all our planned activities. But looking on the bright side, how many can say they have experienced the Outback when it rained or to watch it spring to life after the clouds have passed? It was amazing to see the creeks fill with water, to find wild flowers appearing out of nowhere, and to hear birdsong when there had only been silence before. Amazing. But enough of me and my adventures. What about you? What kind of travelling do you like? Do you prefer to explore the far reaches of the earth? Do you look for challenges and unique experiences that the earth’s diverse landscape can offer? Do you prefer serious R+R – places you can get to in one plane ride, where good food, first-class entertainment, fun activities and fantastic shopping abound?

Are you the sort who is unafraid to try anything?

Island Hopping } { Krabi,November 2006

Write and tell me about your dream holiday, because it will enable escape! to understand you better, and seek out the destinations that you prefer. This way, we can help you make the most of your time and resources to enjoy the best holidays ever.

JULIANA CHAN Editor juliana@regentmedia.sg

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PUBLISHER EDITORIAL

Cecilia Woo Editor Juliana Chan Sub Editor Evelyn Mak Senior Writer Joyce Huang Contributors Jean-Christophe Benoist, Andrew Bossi, Christian Horvat, Angeleigh Khoo, Gemma Koh, Ian Jarrett, Naomi Jordan, Josephine Soh, TG Yeo

ART

Art Director Cally Han Graphic Designer Diyan Julia

WEB

Web Content Manager Desmond Teo Web Content Designer Victor Toh

SALES

MARKETING FINANCE PRODUCTION CUSTOMER SERVICE

MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES

WHERE YOU CAN FIND US: Aksara Borders Harris Kinokuniya MPH Bookstores Page One Periplus Popular Book Store Times Bookshop TimesNewslink escape! is readily available at selected country clubs in Singapore and Malaysia. It is also available in the Royal Orchid Lounge, SATS Premiums Club, Rain Forest Lounge, JetQuay Lounge, SIA T2, SIA T3, SIA Paragon and Pacific Coffee at Changi Airport.

DISTRIBUTORS

FOR ENQUIRIES

Singapore Senior Business Manager Joanna Teh Business Manager Rose Koh Business Executive Lo Wing Tong Malaysia Senior Business Manager Wendy Fong Business Manager David Choo Marketing Manager Tasmin Chua Senior Marketing Executive Stefanie Yuan Finance Manager Julie Khong Production Executive Veronica Teo Singapore Customer Service Executive Beth Kwok Malaysia Customer Service Executive Hertina Bt Bulating Brunei Lim Min Yaw sales@purplemedia.asia Hong Kong/Macau Mariam Wong mariam.wang@publicitas.com Indonesia Panca R Sarungu psarungu@pristamedia.com Japan Yoshinori Ikeda pbi2010@gol.com South Korea/Thailand Hemant N Sonney hemant@sonneymedia.com Philippines Sabrina Chiu sabrina@prostaffasia.com Singapore Singapore Press Holdings Limited Malaysia MPH Distributors Sdn Bhd Hong Kong Times Publishing (HK) Ltd Indonesia PT Java Books Indonesia Thailand Asia Books Co., Ltd Philippines Asia/Pacific Circulation Exponents, Inc. Editorial escape@regentmedia.sg Distribution & Subscription subscription@regentmedia.sg Marketing marketing@regentmedia.sg Advertising Sales sales@regentmedia.sg Hotline 65/6543-3681(Singapore)/ 603/7954-8989(Malaysia) REGENT MEDIA PTE LTD 3 Loyang Way Singapore 508719 Tel: 65/6543-3681 Fax: 65/6543-3719 E-mail: escape@regentmedia.sg www.escape.sg REGENT MEDIA SDN BHD B-3-21, Section 8, Business Center Jalan Sungai Jernih 1, 8 Avenue 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia Tel: 603/7954-8989 Fax: 603/7954-8979

escape! MICA (P) 015/02/2010, ISSN 0219-8967, PPS 1694/07/2011(020130), is published bi-monthly by Regent Media Pte Ltd. No part of this publication is to be reproduced, stored, transmitted, digitally or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher. The information contained herein is accurate at time of printing. Changes may have occurred since this magazine went to print. Regent Media Pte Ltd and its editors will not be held liable for any damages, loss, injury or inconvenience, arising in connection with the contents of the magazine. Regent Media Pte Ltd will not accept responsibility for unsolicited contributions. Printer: KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd (197801823M)

escape! is distributed in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Brunei.

Member of Magazine Publishers Association, Singapore

Supporting Media

Participating Media

Official Travel Magazine :

Available on board

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contributors Based in Fremantle, Western Australia, Ian Jarrett is a frequent traveller. This year alone, his wanderlust has taken him to Alaska, Canada, Hawaii and Spain. In Spain, he took time to visit the city of Valencia to see its spectacular annual festival of Las Fallas. THERE’S JUST NO KEEPING IAN AT HOME. Even while we were working to put this issue of escape! together, Ian found his way to London’s East End, where the 2012 Olympics will be focused. He has also travelled to France’s Cote D’Azur to soak up the last of the summer sun in Nice. After which, he will be launching into another journey through Italy’s Cinque Terra walking trails. Just try to keep up. In her earlier days as a lifestyle editor for Female, Gemma Koh always delighted in trying new things and seeking out new experiences. She has a joie de vivre that is both refreshing and infectious. She left Singapore to live in Europe as an expat wife, and has called cities like Antwerp and London home. DURING HER TIME IN ANTWERP, Gemma kept a chocolate diary of different pralines she tasted in between sunset- and barge-watching by the River Scheldt, chilling at her favourite cafés and exploring quirky old places and hip shops and restaurants in the city’s tangle of charming cobblestone lanes. She’s currently readjusting to the humidity in Singapore after almost a decade away.

CURRENCY CONVERTER US (USD)

SINGAPORE (SGD)

MALAYSIA (RM)

EUROPE (EURO)

SOUTH KOREA (WON)

HONG KONG (HKD)

AUSTRALIA (AUD)

THAILAND (THB)

USD1

1.33

3.10

0.76

1,160.84

7.76

1.06

30.78

SGD1

0.75

2.33

0.57

870.63

5.82

0.79

23.07

RM1

0.32

0.43

0.25

374.07

2.50

0.34

9.92

PHILIPPINES (PHP)

CAMBODIA (KHR)

CHINA (CNY)

INDIA (INR)

INDONESIA (IDR)

MYANMAR (MMK)

JAPAN (YEN)

VIETNAM (VND)

44.03

4,245.00

6.70

45.55

8,955.00

6.41

85.56

19,480.00

USD1

33.01

3,182.84

5.02

34.15

6,721.99

4.81

64.15

14,548.66

SGD1

14.18

1,367.72

2.16

14.68

2,888.81

2.07

27.57

6,250.60

RM1


THIS MONTH, escape! GOES TO:

LAKE DISTRICT, Britain Driving through Wordsworth's Cumbria ANTWERP, Belgium Europe's capital of cool VALENCIA, Spain Experience the fiery festival of Las Fallas

KANSAI, Japan The myriad pleasures of Kobe, Sakai and Nara TAIPEI, Taiwan Get addicted to the city's unflagging energy KRABI, Thailand Travel experiences to remember at Rayavadee NORTH ISLAND, New Zealand Beyond beautiful landscapes

Chengdu Chongqing

Where are you going with SilkAir this month?

Kunming Xiamen

Kathmandu Chiang Mai

Shenzhen

Yangon Da Nang Siem Reap

Hyderabad Kochi Thiruvananthapuram

Coimbatore

Cebu

Phnom Penh

Phuket Penang Medan

Langkawi Kuala Lumpur Singapore

Davao Kota Kinabalu Kuching

Palembang

Balikpapan

Manado KEY:

Transit/ Stopover point Direct Flights Stopover/ Transit Travellers only


snapshots

Wi nn er

Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia

Five-coloured Lake, Jiuzhaigou, China

“It’s also called Peacock Lake because its water at different depths appears in a spectrum, from pale blue through aquamarine to emerald green.” Lilys Cheng Tam Tjiw

Co nso lati on

Tokyo, Japan

“Our wonderful holiday at Japan Universal Studio.” Ng Siew Yean

Co nso lati on

“Totally relaxing. I really enjoyed the breathtaking views.” Angeline Ong

Co nso lati on

Ang Kor Tham,Siem Reap

“Loved every bit of the amazing Bayon Temple – so full of culture and heritage, it almost moved me to tears!” Jeremy Issac

Co nso lati on

Luang Prabang, Laos “Trying to be a mahout... with little success!” Ng Yi Xiu

Congratulations to Lilys Cheng Tam Tjiw. She wins a Casio Exilim EX-Z35 digital camera for this issue’s best travel snapshot! Congratulations to our four consolation prize winners: Angeline Ong, Ng Siew Yean, Jeremy Issac, Ng Yi Xiu

12


*

? ‌ a st ie f s, a p ta , ta es si , h c ea B What a tough life!

www.spain.info www.andalucia.org


DIRECTIONS play, eat, shop & sleep

words JOYCE HUANG

Image SHUTTERSTOCK

Mount Bromo, Indonesia Standing at a height of 2,392 metres, Mount Bromo loses out the ‘tallest mountain in Java’ title to neighbouring Mount Semeru, which peaks at 3,676 metres. But Mount Bromo wins in the popularity stakes as it is known to be one of the most beautiful volcanoes in Indonesia. It sits inside the massive Tengger caldera, surrounded by a sea of fine, grey volcanic sand, and contains a crater that constantly belches white sulphurous smoke, creating quite an ethereal setting. While Mount Semeru is often closed to visitors due to its volatile activity, tackling the peak of Mount Bromo is fairly easy. A casual walk from the Cemoro Lawang tourist centre at the foot of the mountain to the top should take no longer than 90 minutes and is about three kilometres, though there are options of either taking a jeep or riding a pony up. Mount Bromo offers one of the most spectacular sunrise views but the sunrise on Bromo happens between five to six in the morning, so whatever your mode of transportation, make sure you’re up bright and early to catch it!


calendar

3 14 INDIA Now 7 to

NOV

to

COMMONWEALTH GAMES Cheer on your favourite athletes as Delhi plays host to the 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games. This marks only the second time in the Games’ history that the event has been held in Asia. Over 70 countries will be taking part in 17 disciplines including hockey, cycling, archery and rugby. www.cwgdelhi2010.org

8 17 to

HUNGARY

SINGAPORE SUMATRA: ISLE OF GOLD EXHIBITION

Co-organised by the Asian Civilisation Museum, the National Museum of Indonesia and the Museum Volkenkunde of Leiden, Sumatra: Isle of Gold is the first international travelling exhibition on Sumatran culture. Learn about the history of the Indonesian island through over 300 objects, highlighting the cross-cultural influences that have shaped the island’s unique identity. www.acm.org.sg

AUGUST

KOREA FOOD FESTIVAL

AUGUST

27 31

29 7

LES AMIS DU VENT (FESTIVAL OF WIND)

SUN FESTIVAL

to

FRANCE

image ERIC GUERET

to

Love bibimbap, kimchi, galbi and other Korean delicacies? Bring an appetite and be prepared to feast at the very first Korean Food Festival. Held in the city of Jeonju, home to the bibimbap and widely considered as Korea’s culinary capital, the festival brings together a host of events that will not only let you sample the best of Korean cuisine but also learn about the country’s food history and culture. www.koreafoodfestival.or.kr

BUDAPEST AUTUMN FESTIVAL One of Europe’s leading festivals of the contemporary arts, the Budapest Autumn Festival features a highly varied programme ranging from jazz, photography, computergenerated and video art, music, dance and theatre performances. Witness Budapest come alive these 10 days as the city streets and squares double up as performance venues. www.bof.hu

21 27KOREA

Located on the northwestern coast of the island of Corsica and with its spectacular beaches, stunning blue waters and cool breezes, the resort town of Calvi is the perfect venue for the annual Les Amis du Vent, or festival of wind. This environmentally friendly festival is a celebration of human rights, Planet Earth, peace and solidarity. Expect cultural performances alongside wind sports such as ballooning and hang-gliding, and eco-workshops. www.lefestivalduvent.com

16

NOV

to

SINGAPORE Back for the fourth year, the Singapore Sun Festival promises to dazzle once again with an exciting line-up of events within the seven disciplines of music, visual art, wine, cuisine, film, literature and wellness. From concerts by musical veterans like David Foster and Natalie Cole to meditation conferences and an exclusive dinner by Chef Carlo Cracco, there’s an event for everybody. singaporesunfestival.com


words JOYCE HUANG

1 2 MEXICO

5 INDIA

to

DAY OF THE DEAD

An important festival for the Hindus, Jains and Sikhs, and observed throughout India, Diwali officially falls on 5 November this year, but celebrations are carried out over five days from 3 to 7 November. Celebrations vary in the different regions of the country but wherever you go, expect the city you’re in to be festive, colourful and very well-lit. Diwali is also known as the festival of lights, with people decorating their homes with clay oil lamps, hanging up colourful lanterns and setting off plenty of fireworks. www.incredibleindia.org

Mexico’s Day of the Dead may sound gloomy and a tad morbid but is in fact a festive and colourful holiday. For two days, Mexican family and friends gather to pray for and honour their deceased loved ones. Home altars and graves in cemeteries are decorated with colourful sugar skulls, pan de muertos (a special bread made especially for the season), the deceased’s favourite fruits and bouquets of bright orange cempasuchil (marigolds).

67 to

HONG KONG

SEPTEMBER

HONG KONG CRICKET SIXES

Six-a-side cricket is the quickest, most fun-filled version of the glorious old game. During the first weekend of November, get set for two whole days of fast and furious action in a festival atmosphere as the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes returns to the Kowloon Cricket Club. Eight international teams will compete in a series of 45-minute clashes, providing non-stop entertainment for cricket fans. www.hkca.cricket.org

15 21 to

MYANMAR

TAUNGGYI FIRE BALLOON FESTIVAL One of the biggest festivals in Myanmar, the Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festivals draws attendees from all over the country, and the world, to the southern Shan state. As part of the celebrations to honour the Buddhist deity Mahavinayaka, hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes, from elephants and horses to birds and fishes, are released into the skies.

DIWALI

SEPTEMBER

13 28 ITALY to WHITE TRUFFLE FAIR

The countryside around San Miniato, Tuscany produces 25 per cent of Italy’s celebrated white truffle, thus it is not surprising that every November, in the middle of truffle season, the town hosts the National White Truffle Fair. Apart from markets selling fresh truffles in the historical center, San Miniato is decked out with stalls and markets where people can eat, drink and taste the full range of typical products in season from all over Tuscany. www.san-miniato.com

20 21 to

THAILAND

SURIN ELEPHANT ROUND-UP Within the Thai culture, the majestic elephant is a symbol of power and grace, revered since the time of ancient kings. In the Ban Ta Klang Elephant Village of Surin Province, the yearly Surin Elephant Round-up celebrates the animal. Watch as over two hundred of these huge creatures display their amazing grace, strength and intelligence in a series of parades and demonstrations.

17


directions play

Pushkar , India words JOYCE HUANG

image PHOTOLIBRALY

For five days in the month of Kartika (October or November), beginning on Ashtm, the eighth day of Lunar Calendar, until the Poornima full moon, the sweeping expanse of the Pushkar desert becomes a riot of colours thanks to one of India’s grandest of festivals – the Pushkar Camel Fair. A spectacle on an epic scale, the Pushkar Camel Fair brings over 300,000 people and up to 20,000 camels, cattle, horses and all manner of livestock, decked up in dazzling decorative wear and saddles, to take part in this cultural, trade and religious fair. This year’s fair is set to take place from 13 to 17 November. The trading of cattle and the exciting camel races dominate the first half of the festival. This is the main attraction for farmers and traders who make their way here from all over Rajasthan. Musicians, acrobats, folk dancers, comedians up the carnival mood and stalls peddling dazzling displays of bangles, brassware, clothes and handicrafts, such as necklaces of glass beads from Naguar, pottery, printed textiles from Jodhpur and Ajmer turn the fair into a cultural phenomenon and a must-visit for any tourist. There are even facilities for camel rides, if you’re brave enough to take on the challenge. The Pushkar Camel Fair climaxes with a religious celebration. Pushkar is among the five main places of pilgrimage mentioned in the Hindu scriptures and is home to one of the only two temples in the whole of India that is dedicated to Lord Brahma. Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees take a ritual dip in the holy Pushkar Lake on the day of the full moon night of the Kartika month, to wash away their sins, and then complete their pilgrimage to and worship at the Brahma temple.

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19


5 Things to do in M

ARGARET

R IVER W INE R EGION

It’s not all just wining and dining in the Margaret River Wine Region. Apart from picturesque vineyards, this region in Southwest Australia is also home to spectacular ocean vistas, lush green farmlands and forests, world-class surfing and beautiful swimming beaches. Explore one of the region’s most stunning natural wonders. The Ngili Cave (Caves Road, Yallingup. Tel: 61-08/9755-2152), discovered in 1899, is a limestone cave that offers a stunning display of stalactite, stalagmite, helicitite and shawl formations. Dunsborough is home to one of the largest accessible dive wrecks in the Southern Hemisphere, the former HMAS Swan (Geographe Bay, Dunsborough. Tel: 6108/9752-1288). The wreck site of the 113-metre decommissioned naval destroyer is a 15-minute boat ride out to sea off Meelup Beach and one of the most popular dive wreck sites in Australia. Go on a whale watching tour and get up close and personal with these gigantic mammals. Tours operate out of Dunsborough from mid September to mid December, and bookings can be done via www.australiassouthwest.com. When, or if, you tire of the coast, head to Boranup Karri Forest (Caves Road, Margaret River. Tel: 61-08/9780-5911). This regrowth forest is just over 100 years old and is home to the third tallest tree in the world – the Karri. Feel dwarfed and in awe as you walk among trees that reach up to 60 metres high. And of course, no trip to Margaret River is complete without at least sampling some of the finest wines in this highly regarded Australian wine region, so do remember to leave some time to tour the many vineyards around.

HIGH on golf Come rain or shine, have a swinging good time at City Golf Singapore. Located at 282, Singapore’s latest interactive sports lifestyle hub on the 61st storey of the newly rebranded One Raffles Place, City Golf’s six simulators transport golfers to over 65 world championship golf courses, featuring interactive practice situations and real-time ball flight that makes the game as real as any golf experience. The Full Swing golf simulators monitor your game and give interactive data feedback, so golfers new and old can evaluate their shots and identify areas upon which to improve. www.citygolf.com.sg

Wild Vietnam Just three hours away from bustling Ho Chi Minh lies the Cat Tien National Park, one of the largest areas of lowland tropical rainforest left in Vietnam. With the opening of the Forest Floor Lodge, Exotissimo Travel has launched a new three-day program that takes travelers on a soft adventure through the park and includes overnight stays. The Forest Floor Lodge features seven comfortable lodgings and deluxe tents that look out over the Ben Cu River and the surrounding jungle. The lodgings have been converted from traditional Vietnamese houses and fitted with traditional furnishing and modern comforts like air conditioning. Exotissimo’s three-day adventure includes a visit to a bear rehabilitation centre, a trek to the Crocodile Lake to spot the endangered Siamese crocodile, a scenic boat trip along the Ben Cu River and a stop at the Dao Tien Endangered Primate Species Centre. www.exotissimo.com

20


WINTER WONDERLAND

Looking for a white escape this year end? Plan a hassle-free vacation with Club Med Show Holidays. Besides being well-known for its amazing sun destinations, Club Med is the worldwide market leader in All-Inclusive Snow Holidays, with Club Med Snow Resorts located in 25 world-class snow destinations in France, Italy, Switzerland, Japan and China – where the latest Club Med Yabuli is slated to open in November 2010. Premium All-Inclusive Snow Package available at all Club Med Snow Resorts includes ski lift passes and also ski and snowboard lessons for all levels by professional instructors. For family getaways, parents have the luxury of hitting the scenic slopes knowing their children are well-taken care of, with specially designed activities provided for every age group. Other casual snow activities guests can participate in include ice skating, snow sliding and tobogganing. www.clubmed.com.sg

Cruising the Mekong Water is the source of all life. To really appreciate the meaning of this adage, just take a cruise around the Mekong Delta, the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River empties into the South China Sea through a network of distributaries. Life in the villages around the Delta revolves much around the river, with many only accessible by canals. Discover deep into the life of Mekong Delta with Victoria Hotels and Resorts’ Mekong Delta Experience. As one of their Discovery Packages, this experience takes you to see the floating markets of Can Tho, the various cultures of Chau Doc and the wonders of the ancient Khmer Empire at Angkor, while combining stays at three Victoria Hotels in the regions. www.victoriahotels-asia.com

TRAVELLERS Tale

image 123RF

Discover the secrets of Asia and share them with fellow travellers, and you will earn a chance to win one year’s worth of air tickets on SilkAir. The SilkAir Explorers campaign is an online treasure trove of travel journals (www.silkairexplorers.com), where travellers capture their holiday memories and share them with fellow explorers. While you can live vicariously through the many journal entries, submit your own traveller’s tale to stand to win a grand prize of a year’s worth of free flights to explore SilkAir destinations in Asia and a cash prize of S$2,000. The competition runs until 31 December and there will also be a monthly prize of a pair of tickets to a pre-determined Asian destination.

BANGKOK beckons There’s no better time to head back to one of Southeast Asia’s leading tourist destination. The Tourism Authority of Thailand, together with MasterCard Worldwide, has launched the ‘Bangkok Welcomes You’ campaign, aimed at attracting tourists from neighbouring markets to travel to Thailand’s capital. MasterCard holders will be eligible for various hotel and merchant discount benefits with their ‘Bangkok Welcomes You‘ privilege card. Book your accommodation deals (with hotel rates starting from THB999) via www.bangkokwelcomeyou.com and make payment with your MasterCard card, and your privilege card and special vouchers will be ready for collection upon checking in at the hotel. Other privileges include offers for dining, spa and beauty treatments, show and entertainment packages, transportation and shopping discounts.

21


directions directionsshop shop

Shopping

Oxford and Regent streets in London’s West End are beloved by Londoners and well known to tourists alike. They’re lined with British retail giants like Selfridges, John Lewis, Mark & Spencer, Debenhams, Liberty and Hamleys, as well as high street brands like Topshop, Uniqlo, Zara, Gap and Adidas, and fashion brands like Burberry, French Connection, Karen Millen and Lacoste. Come 27 November, the world’s largest traffic-free shopping event returns here for the sixth year. The Shop West End VIP (Very Important Pedestrians) Day is the biggest UK shopping event of the year, complete with free performances along the streets to entertain shoppers while they indulge in some serious spending. www.newwestend.com

VIPS

words JOYCE HUANG

22


Star Buys Iain Nairn Commencing his career with Next, Iain Nairn has been in the retail industry for over 30 years, holding senior management roles, directorships and general manager positions with many complex brands and retail businesses. The strapping Scot has travelled for most of that time period and has lived in about 18 different places in the UK. He now calls Australia home and is the CEO of Witchery and Mimco. One of Australia’s favourite fashion brands, Witchery marked its presence in Singapore with the opening of an accessories outlet in Ion Orchard in March. Just this August, it opened a second store in Changi International Airport Terminal 1 Departure Hall Transit Lounge, offering accessories and apparel. Why the decision to open a Witchery outlet in Singapore Changi International Airport? There is so much traffic in the airport. Having an outlet there is a great way to introduce the Witchery brand to the many tourists travelling through Singapore. What makes Witchery a global brand? Ironically, Witchery’s global appeal comes from its ‘Australianism’. The brand’s designers are given a free hand in their creativity, which translates into an Australian style and trans-seasonal designs. What do you buy when you’re on holiday? I am an avid golfer and I plan my holidays around golf courses. So far I have teed off in 437 of the top 1,000 golf courses in the world. And at every golf course that I play, I will always buy a golf cap. What are the best and worst souvenirs you’ve bought? The best souvenir I ever bought was one of those electric fly swatters from Bali. It is so effective and I thought it’ll be perfect during fly-season in Melbourne! Unfortunately, it was also the worst souvenir I bought because it got confiscated when I was going through customs into Australia. What is on your shopping list now? A new pair of shoes and an iPad. What are three things from the Witchery and Mimco brands that travellers will appreciate? A Mimco travel wallet to store your travel memories; a few handbags from Witchery, of different styles and sizes to match with your travel wardrobe; and a statement piece of jewellery so that you can bring a bit of Australian design around the world.

SAFETY FIRST Maintain your peace of mind the next time you travel with the Pacsafe 750 Keyless Lock. There’s no more need to hold on to extra keys or try to remember locker codes. This Pacsafe lock uses a unique punched keycard to open your lock. To unlock, insert either of the punched corners of the card into the lock slot and hold firmly until the lock snaps open. The Pacsafe 750 Keyless Lock retails for S$26 and is available at all The Planet Traveller outlets. www.theplanettraveller.com

BUSINESS SAVVY Leading luggage brand Samsonite has launched a new Pro-DLX 3 range of business and travel cases, designed to deliver functionality with a touch of sophistication for frequent business travellers. There are five lightweight, durable and compact business cases and three elegant travel cases. They all provide an efficient system for organising your items for both short or long-haul trips, effectively taking the chore out of packing. Especially helpful is the flexible laptop case, which can be completely unfolded for hassle-free security checks. Available at following Samsonite boutiques: #02-39 Suntec City Mall, Raffles Boulevard, Singapore. Tel: 65/6338-6557; #01-91 VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, Singapore. Tel: 65/6376-9425

Hairway at the airways Who says you can’t look good as you jet set around the world? The next time you’re at Changi Terminal 3 and rushing to your next destination, check in at the Bumble and bumble (Bb) mini salon at the Nuance- Watson “Perfumes & Cosmetics” where an on-site stylist will offer Bb product tips and styling advice. A new interactive touchscreen computer also allows time-pressed travellers to choose from 60 different hairdos, which the on-site stylist will help recreate for them. www.bumbleandbumble.com

23


directions sleep

Paresa Thailand words JOYCE HUANG

There’s never a dearth of resorts in popular beach destination Phuket, but what sets Paresa apart is its stunning location and beautiful architecture and design. This luxury resort is perched high on the cliff-top off the shores of Kamala beach, surrounded by tropical forests, bathed in spectacular sunlight and flanked by the blue waters of the Andaman Sea. Paresa’s modern Southern Thai-influenced architecture and design effortlessly evolves out of and blends into its natural surroundings. All 49 of Paresa’s elegantly furnished suites and villas face the sea, with most offering private infinity pools. Featuring personal butler service, fully equipped kitchens, 24-hour in-villa dining, private exterior verandas with outdoor treatment sala, daybeds and outdoor bathrooms, each villa is completely self-contained for total uninterrupted indulgence and relaxation. 49 Moo 6 Layi-Nakalay Road, Kamala Kratu, Phuket, Thailand. Tel: 66-76/302-000; www.paresaresorts.com


The Residences at W Bali, INDONESIA If the beach resort lure of Bali keeps drawing you back, why not own a piece of paradise with The Residences at W Bali – Seminyak? The collection of 79 private villa-style residences is available as one-, twoand three-bedroom villas, each fully furnished and with its own pool. Contemporary in design with distinctive Balinese touches, the villas showcase the latest in modern design and technology. The villas are also integrated with the adjacent 158-room W Retreat & Spa, which has its own stretch of beach front in one of the most exclusive beaches in Bali and whose facilities are fully accessible to residents. A unique ownership structure allocates owners four weeks per year for personal use of their villa while the residences will be managed by W hotels and go into the hotel’s rental pool for the rest of the year. www.residences.com/bali

Le Sutra, INDIA Situated in one of the most vibrant streets in Mumbai, Le Sutra is a 16-room boutique hotel that prides itself as the world’s first Indian art hotel. ‘Sutra’ in Sanskrit refers to a rope or thread that holds things together, and the running theme one finds throughout this hotel is Indian art. Embodied in every form of the hotel’s design and interiors is an inspiration by Indian mythos – it’s not surprising that one will feel like in a museum rather than a hotel. Each piece of art and item of furniture is unique and specially commissioned. In each of the differently themed and magnificently furnished rooms is a statement-piece chair, silently chronicling the room’s theme. On top of three dining establishments – restaurant Out of the Blue, lounge bar olive Bar & Kitchen, and desert café Deliciae – the hotel also has a dedicated cultural art space, Gallery Le Sutra, for art shows, supper theatre, book readings and gatherings. 14 Union Park, Khar (W), Mumbai, India. Tel: 91-22/2649-2995; www.lesutra.in

The Peacock Garden, PHILIPPINES A mere 15-minute drive from Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol, The Peacock Garden is nestled on a hilltop with a breathtaking view of the sea, a sanctuary for those who would like to get away from the hustle and bustle of city-life, but still have it at convenience. Space is a luxury here as the European-styled resort lies on an expansive property featuring manicured gardens and an Olympic-size infinity pool. The 40 well-appointed rooms span across four different categories and range from 25 to 52 square metres. On site facilities include a roman-themed Fontana Aurelia Spa, Old Heidelberg restaurant that serves up both Asian and European cuisine, a wine cellar housing a wide selection of fine wine from around the world, as well as a cigar lounge. Upper Laya, Baclayon, Bohol, Philippines. Tel: 63-38/539-9231; www.thepeacockgarden.com

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat Australia

If you’re looking for an escape to recharge your mind, body and soul, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Queensland’s Gold Coast hinterland is the perfect destination. Gwinganna means ‘lookout’ in the traditional language of the native aborigines and indeed, the property is surrounded by some stunning ocean and valley views. Additionally, this innovative organic lifestyle retreat ensures that its guests are well looked out for. Whether it’s a two-night Spa Weekend programme or a seven-night Gwinganna Detox programme, a stay at Gwinganna will soothe your soul and inspire you towards healthy living. Awaken your body with either gentle exercises like yoga or pilates, or take an invigorating and scenic bush walk. Nurture your spirit with a range of spa massage and body treatments, then nourish your soul with some organic cuisine, partially supplied from the gardens and orchard on the property. 192 Syndicate Road, Tallebudgera Q 4228, Australia. Tel: 61-7/5589-5000; www.gwinganna.com

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directions eat

Craving Aussie-style breakfasts in Hong Kong? Head to cosy SoHo bistro and bar, Coast, where hearty all-day breakfasts rule on weekends and public holidays. Headlining hangover cures are its signature breakfast special of bacon, beef sausages, eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, spinach and toast (HK$95/US$12); and baguette with bacon, fried eggs, BBQ sauce and hash browns (HK$65/ US$8.35). Those seeking more virtuous eats can find comfort in sweetcorn cakes with bacon, mushroom and avocado (HK$75/US$9.65); buttermilk pancakes with berries and maple syrup (HK$65/US$8.35); and smoked salmon with spinach, mushrooms and roast tomatoes on toast (HK$85/US$10.90). Aussie-style surf and turf rules the menu on weekdays while live music and jugs of Pimms, caprioska, caiprinhas, and Corona buckets go for just (HK$130/US$16.75) every second Sunday from 3pm.

Coast

L1 Kenwick Centre, 32 Hollywood Road, SoHo, Hong Kong. Tel: 852/2544-5888

words ANGELEIGH KHOO & JOSEPHINE SOH


FLOUR+WATER SAN FRANCISCO

image FRANKENYIMAGES.COM

Have a slice of old-world Italy at this San Francisco restaurant, which strives not to reinvent but instead pay tribute to Italian cuisine. This means house-cured meats, daily hand-rolled pastas and an almost obsessive dedication to their Neapolitan pizzas, which are baked for no more than two minutes at precisely 427°C. The menu, which sees the likes of pizza margherita (US$13), changes daily due to the team’s focus on seasonal ingredients sourced from Californian artisans and growers, but rest assured that whatever is dished up will be authentic and executed with skill and passion. 2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA9411C. Tel: 1-415/826-7000; www.flourandwater.com

SIAM PARAGON’S GOURMET MARKET, Thailand Bangkok offers more than just clothes shopping. Pop by the basement of the city’s excellent Siam Paragon shopping centre and check out the Gourmet Market that carries fantastic local products like assorted rice grains, premium Thai snacks, a cornucopia of fresh and dried fruits, and counters selling freshly squeezed juices, salads, Thai desserts and other delish eats. It’s our favourite one-stop shop to stock up on quality ingredients for foodie friends. GF, Siam Paragon, 991, Rama 1 Rd, Pathumwan, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand. Tel: 66-2/610-9000

1OR 8, NEW YORK CITY Leave convention at the door of this new restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which serves up a seasonal menu of experimental Japanese cuisine in a chic white space. 1 or 8 roughly translates to “all or nothing” in Japanese and customers are encouraged to embrace the spirit of experimentation. The interior designer owner has collaborated with a French-trained cuisine chef and sushi artisan to create Japanese dishes that transcend traditional techniques and ingredients. Think pork belly served with sauerkraut and a miso and mustard vinaigrette. To fully experience the chefs’ originality, book a seat at the sushi bar for a tasting menu (from US$65) or the omakase (from US$50). The restaurant has also developed a reputation for its unique fish selections so do look out for their daily fish specials. 66 South 2nd Street, Brooklyn, New York 11211. Tel: 1-718/384-2152; www.oneoreightbk.com

image JNTO

FUGU

A Japanese delicacy prepared from the puffer fish, this subtle-tasting dish may seem harmless but eating it is often likened to playing a game of culinary roulette as its organs contain lethal toxins that can cause instantaneous death upon consumption. As such, only licensed chefs are allowed to prepare fugu in Japan, which is most often served as paper-thin slices of sashimi (from ¥2,000/US$22) but also available as a multicourse meal where its fins are fried and the rest of it simmered with vegetables. Due to its inherent risk, be prepared to pay more for a meal at reputable fugu restaurants.

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city city reporter reporter

CAPITAL OF COOL

In 2009, Lonely Planet named Antwerp as one of the top 10 cities to visit. Here is an insider’s guide to the charming, quirky and trendy spots that make up Belgium’s style capital

image TG YEO

Words Gemma Koh

Statue of Brabo hurling the giant’s hand into the Scheldt

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CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Detail of De Tulp in Zurenborg; Huise Zonnebloem (sunflower house; Centurion sculpture at the bridge; More sunflowers

Part of Antwerp’s allure is in its secret pockets of calm in the tangle of cobblestone streets. Blink and you could miss the entrances to De Vlaeykensgang (one at Oude Koornmarkt 16), the narrow cobblestoned alley which dates back to the 1500s. Acoustically, it’s a lovely place to listen to the carillon of cathedral bells. Contained in the alleyway today are residences and a collection of restaurants including Sir Antony Van Dijck (Vlaeykensgang Onde Koornmarkt 16. Tel: 32-3/231-6170; www. siranthonyvandijck.be) famous for its owner who got off the Michelin treadmill by returning his star. The walls at Rodestraat 39 conceal the old begijnhof comprising red-brick abodes once occupied by a community of unmarried and widowed women devoted to religion and charity but who were not nuns. The garden in the centre of the courtyard is off limits to non-residents, but visitors can enjoy its beauty. The picturesque Hendrik Conscienceplein and its baroque Carolus Boromeus church is a far less touristed square than

Grote Markt and its medieval guildhouses, or the Groen Plaats in the shadow of the grand Cathedral of our Lady.

HEAD UNDER THE CITY If you’re not booked on the popular three-hour guided walk through the labyrinth of canals under the city (book with Ruihuis at Suikerrui 21. Tel: 32-3/232-0103; www.ruihuis. be), you can still take a walk through the St Anna Tunnel that runs under the River Scheldt. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve wading through slime in wellies, and it’s free. The Art-Deco structure by

the entrances belies the pedestrian function of the half-kilometre tunnel. It’s the main thoroughfare for cyclists and pedestrians shuttling between the old city (St Jansvliet square), and Linkerover (left bank). Steep rickety wooden escalators from the 1930s take you 31 metres into the bowels of the tunnel under the river. If you’re not so stout of heart, ride the elevator of cargo-proportions, which cyclists use. If you are not claustrophobic, it’s a quaint experience having dinner or drinks by candlelight in the medieval cellars of Pelgrom (Pelgrimstraat 15. Tel: 32-3/234-0809, www.pelgrom.be).

AN ECLECTIC COLLECTION OF HOUSES Onion-topped towers. Castles with a jumble of window styles. Silhouettes depicting the Battle of Waterloo. Houses themed around sunflowers. It certainly looks like the well-heeled homeowners in the Zurenborg district (close to Antwerp’s Berchem station) had a contest a century ago to see who could build the quirkiest home. The trendy neighbourhood in the Zuid (the south) around the Royal Museum of Fine Arts boasts a few unusual residential buildings including one with a balcony built like a ship.

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images TG YEO (CENTURION), TORSADE DE POINTES (ZURENBORG HOUSES)

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD


images PURE SANG, BABY BELUGA

COOL SHOPS Shopping in Antwerp is not just about the designers like Ann Demeulemeester (Leopold de Waelplaats. Tel: 32-3/216-0133; www.anndemeulemeester.be) and Dries van Noten (Nationalestraat 16. Tel: 32-3/470-2510; www. driesvannoten.be) who put the city on the fashion radar, but also the shopping experience. In the Zuid, Hospital (de Burburestraat 4. Tel: 32-3/3118980; www.hospital-antwerp. com), is a former warehouse for scrap metal that has been turned into an edgy home to upscale labels. Its sister shop Clinic across the road (Tel: 32-3/248-7609; www.clinicantwerp.com), has been compared to Paris’ Collette. It focuses on hip denim wear, but also stocks a surprising array of unique gadgets and under-theradar designer brands. Baby Beluga (Volkstraat 1. Tel: 32-3/289-9060; www.babybeluga.

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be) is another exotic trove of well-edited feminine clothes. The official sale months of July and January aren’t the only times you can score designer wear at discount prices. Around April and October, fashion students and fashionistas can be seen dragging suitcases between offices and warehouses of Antwerp designers. Keep your ear to the ground for the next round of stock sales at ModeNatie’s website, www.modenatie.com. ModeNatie (Nationalestraat 28) is home to the Flanders Institute of Fashion, Momu the fashion museum, and the fabulous Copyright Bookshop. Bargains can be found all year round at Labels Inc (Aalmoezenierstraat 4. Tel: 32-3/232-6056; www.labelsinc. be), which carries secondhand clothes by Belgian designers in excellent condition and from very recent seasons.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The sleek retail spaces of Hospital; Baby Beluga; Clinic; and Kayo


A visit to the market is often the best way to experience the local way of life. Vrijdagmarkt is where the auction of secondhand goods has been taking place every Friday for over four centuries. Go for the local flavour rather than expecting to finding treasure among furniture and bicycles, although you’ll never know what you may come across. It’s on every Friday, from 9am to 1pm. Markt van Morgen (www. marktvanmorgen.be) on Kloosterstraat is where

up-and-coming designers hawk their wares – from clothes to graphics – along the street lined with shops selling brocante and bric-a-brac. This happens every second Sunday of the month, from noon to 6pm. Although named Vogelmarkt (Bird Market), this is really a foodie’s paradise of Turkish breads, Moroccan nuts, Greek olives, Dutch cheeses, Italian hams, fresh pasta, fresh fruit and so much more. Different sorts of fowl and rabbits are sold on Sunday mornings. This is open Saturdays and Sundays,

from 8am to 4pm, in the area surrounding Theaterplein and Oudevaarplaats. The antique market on St Jansvliet Square is ever crowded with browsers looking to pick up something unusual. It’s on every Sunday, from Easter till October.

HAUTE CHOCOLATE Antwerp is inarguably the chocolate lover’s heaven. There is a chocolate shop on almost every street – from giants like Godiva or Neuhaus to indie local shops like Burie (Korte Gasthuisstraat 3. Tel: 32-3/232-3688), which

is widely regarded as the best local chocolatier. Burie’s shop window is worth a look for its lavish display of edible sculptures that can take the form of complete underwater scenes. The best dark chocolates come from Pierre Marcolini (Kelderstraat 3. Tel: 32-3/2265001; www.marcolini.be), which originated in Brussels, but no one is bothered that it is not strictly from Antwerp when they produce champagne truffles that taste out of this world. Leave room in its chic black paper bags for desserts like crème brulee. The Chocolate Line (Meir 50. Tel: 32-3/206-2030; www. thechocolateline.be), originally from Bruges, is known for its unusual praline flavours like wasabi, curry or chilli, occupies the ostentatiously decorated drawing room and bedroom of the Royal Palace which once belonged to Napoleon.

CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: Cheese stall in Vogelmarkt; the opulent Chocolate Line chocolate boutique

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The entrance of Guan Di Temple; Pray for guidance at Guan Di Temple; The exterior of the Mahamariaman Temple; KL’s oldest mosque – Masjid Jamek

images TG YEO (CHEESE), THE CHOCOLATE LINE

LOCAL MARKETS

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CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Canal; Lux’s signature cooler; Lux’s sleek interiors; Lucy Chang

EAT AND CHILL

images PURE SANG

It’s hard to name just a few establishments in a city full of good food and chic restaurants. Here are some enduring favourites that should see you through your stay in Antwerp. Best Quick Eat Meals in restaurants and even some cafes are usually long drawn leisurely affairs. Other than grabbing a waffle or some frites (fries with mayonnaise) on the go, take a pit stop between all that shopping and sightseeing

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with a coffee or boterham (sandwich) at the lovely organic café and bakery Het Dagelijks Brood (Steenhouwersvest 48. Tel: 32-3/226-7613; www. lepainquotidien.be). You may find yourself sharing the large communal table with designer Walter van Bierendonck. Best-Kept Secret At the Restaurant Rimbaud (Hessenbrug 5. Tel: 32-2/2267970; www.rimbaud.be), there isn’t an a la carte menu – chef Dave de Croebele whips up an

exquisite three-course meal from the ingredients he finds at the market each morning, though he’ll also take into consideration your preferences and allergies. Book at least 48 hours in advance.

SEE AND BE SEEN Antwerp’s newest museum, Museum on the River, which houses the Folklore, National Maritime and Ethnographic Museums, may not have opened when you read this (it is slated to open in May

2011), but its Café Storm (Hanzenstedenplaats 1. Tel: 32-3/231-4300; www.cafe-storm. com) is fast establishing itself as the watering hole to be at. Plus it has a gorgeous view of the yacht harbour. Located at Het Eilandje (the island), the neighbourhood is surrounded by lovely promenades and trendy bars and restaurants like Felix Pakhuis (Godefriduskaai 30. Tel: 32-3/203-0330; www. felixpakhuis.nu) and Lux (Adriaan Brouwerstraat 13. Tel: 32-3/233-3030; www. luxantwerp.com).


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Three views of Cocktails at Nine; Martini Bar; the colourful corners of the Glorious Bar

Belgians say bottoms up to an average of 93 litres of beer a year. But with over 800 beers to choose from where does the visitor with limited time start? For something brewed locally, ask for a “bolleke” (De Koninck), so named for the bowl-shaped glass, or the Trappist Westmalle brewed in an Abbey north of the city. Corsendonk was once upon a time brewed by monks in Turnout, near the city. Beers come in their own glassware, and the most dramatic one is Pauwel Kwak’s stirrup-cup held upright in a wooden stand. The stiffest drink title goes to Bush Beer, with its 12 per cent alcohol. If you don’t like beer, you just might after trying the ones flavoured with fruit like kriek (cherry) or strawberry or banana. The kitschiest place to sip the good stuff would be at Het Elfde Gebod (Torfbrug 10.

Tel: 32-3/289-3466; www. hetelfdegebod.com), which means the 11th commandment, under the watchful eyes of a hundred of roman catholic statues and icons. Another tipple to try is a gin called jenever. De Vagant (Reyndersstraat 25. Tel: 32-3/233-1538; www.devagant. be) serves over 200 varieties of flavoured shots, while the restaurant above the pub serves food cooked with it. Among the newer establishments, Cocktails at Nine (Lijnwaadmarkt 9. Tel: 32-3/707-1007; www. cocktailsatnine.com) is where the staff seem to be on a mission to impress and delight guests with their cheek and flavourful cocktails. Martini Bar (Lange Gasthuisstraat 11. www. martinibar.com) focuses on glamour by putting a fashionable spin to their concoctions.

images PURE SANG

BOLLEKES AND BREWS

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SLEEK PLACES TO SLEEP

The various whimsically decorated rooms at The Glorious Inn

ANTWERP FACT BOX

images TORSADE DE POINTES (HOUSE), PURE SANG (GLORIOUS INN)

GETTING THERE Fly in to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and take the train (www.b-europe.com) into Antwerp’s Central or Berchem stations. GETTING AROUND The city is compact enough to be explored on foot. It’s also convenient and inexpensive to get around by bus or tram (www.delijn.be).

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POPULATION Antwerp’s current population is just over 470,000. TIME ZONE Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1 hour CALLING CODE Belgium country code: 32 Antwerp area code: 3

LANGUAGE It helps to learn a few basic Dutch phrases to understand menus and signs, but it’s otherwise easy to get by speaking English. Antwerpens additionally are fluent in French, German and Spanish.

VISA Passport holders from Singapore and Malaysia are permitted to enter Antwerp, Belgium without a visa for up to 90 days.

CURRENCY €1 = US$1.31/S$1.75/RM4.06

FOR MORE INFORMATION www.antwerpen.be

Centrally-located luxe boutique hotels like Hotel Julien (Korte Nieuwstraat 24. Tel: 32-3/229-0600; www.hotel-julien.com) of Mr & Mrs Smith fame, and Hotel Matelote (Haarstraat 11a. Tel: 32-3/201-8800; www.hotel-matelote.be) are some of the great places to stay at in Antwerp. In the Zuid, The Glorious Inn (de Burburestraat 4a. Tel: 32-3/237-0613; www.theglorious. be) has three whimsically designed rooms that will make your stay a warm, fairytale-like and unforgettable one. Each room tells its own story with its decor details (one of them has birdcages dangling above the four-poster bed). The inn also has a good bar if you need a nightcap before you turn in. Boasting easy tram access to the old city is B&B Het Singelhuis (Desguinlei 198. Tel: 32-3/298-4377; www.singelhuis.be). Hosts Jef and Magda share their warmth and insider knowledge of their city with guests over a delicious Flemish breakfast of homemade produce. Black never goes out of style, certainly not at Hotel The Black (Amerikalei 113. Tel: 32-3/298-4298; www.hoteltheblack.be), a renovated old mansion with four elegantly decorated rooms with fine retro elements. More than a comfortable bed and a good breakfast, it provides a handsome backdrop to your holiday photos.


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CELEBRATING THE IMAGES OF ASIA Images from finalists of Asia Without Borders Photo Competition 2008 and 2009

PRESENTATIONS + WORKSHOPS

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japan

Kanpai to Kansai

image PHOTOLIBRARY

A trip through Japan’s Kansai region reveals a rich history, charming traditions and epicurean pleasures well worth raising your ochoko to words NAOMI JORDAN

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Himeji Castle, Kansai

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Opened in 1868, Kobe’s port has since become one of the biggest and busiest in all the world

T

he Kansai or Kinki region lies in Japan’s main and largest island, Honshu. This southern-central region covers seven prefectures: Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hyogo, Shiga, Wakayama and Mie. Historically, Kansai has always taken centrestage, with Nara, Osaka and Kyoto being ancient capitals at different points in time. Aside from these crowd-pullers, there are other small cities like Kobe and Sakai that are worth a day trip or two, simply to soak in a less frenetic pace and also to learn more about their uniqueness, culture and regional specialties.

KOBE

image JNTO

Kobe, capital of the Hyogo prefecture, boasts one of the biggest ports in the country and the world. Proof that the city’s port was flourishing even in the 19th century lies in its old foreign settlement, which was developed as a business district for foreigners when the port opened in 1868. The old European-style brick buildings have since been converted into restaurants, shops and offices. After the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake on 17 January 1995, Kobe has picked itself up and is thriving once again as a modern city that buzzes with an energetic vibe. Today, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial ‘Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation’ (1-5-2 Kaigan-dori, Wakinchama, Chuo-ku. Tel: 81-78/262-5050; www.dri.ne.jp) is a very informative and interactive centre where one can re-experience the earthquake in the big-screen theatre complete with sound and dramatic images, followed by realistic dioramas reproducing devastated streets just after the earthquake. What is more important about this venue is that it also has a disaster protection and reduction workshop to teach people about earthquakes and how they can protect themselves in the event of one. This is also where studies into possible ways of averting future earthquake disasters are conducted.

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Kaikyo Bridge. When lit at night, the structure resembles a string of pearls that changes colour. Sake drinkers should make a trip to a brewery in the Nada district, located in between Kobe and Osaka. You can see the ancient art of sake brewing in places such as the 260-year-old Kobe Shu-Shin-Kan Breweries (1-8-17 Mikagetsuka, Higashinada, Kobe, Tel: 81-78/821-2913, www. enjoyfukuju.com), which produce the Fujuku brand of premium sake. The area has been acknowledged for centuries as the best for the production of sake, thanks to the quality of locally grown Japanese sake rice and the purity of water filtered from steams high up in the pristine Rokko Mountains. Of course Kobe’s most important highlight is its beef, the perfectly marbled meat that is renowned all over the world. To enjoy an amazing kobe beef feast, head to the Kobe Plaisir restaurant (Hotel ‘the b Kobe’, 1F, 2-11-5 Shimoyamate Street,

Chuo-ku. Tel: 81-78/571-0141). The beef is served three ways – steamed with heaps of colourful vegetables in a bamboo style tray, teppanyaki or shabu shabu. The food here is so superb that it could very well be the most memorable highlight of your trip to the city. Beef aside, Kobe is also famous for its Western breads and cakes. For a pit-stop after all the tours, a great place to have a tea and sample some sweet treats is at Königs-Krone (4-1-6 Miyukidori, Chuo-ku. Tel: 81-78/291-0708, konigs-krone. co.jp). This charming German-style bakery and cafe is well known for its delicious cakes, pastries, puddings and breads, and has been around since 1977.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge; Kobe Luminarie; Finely sliced Kobe beef

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images PHOTOLIBRARY (BRIDGE) / NAOMI JORDAN

For two weeks in December, the Kobe Luminarie, a spectacular annual outdoor light installation shines in the city as a memorial to the 6,000 people who died in the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake. The beautiful lights are individually hand-painted, forming a magnificent artwork that has also come to symbolise dreams and hopes of rebuilding the city. The light installation is accompanied by evocative music making for a reflective and relaxing atmosphere. It is an incredibly moving experience to walk under the illuminated metal arches stretching several blocks. For something more lighthearted, take a stroll at the port, followed by shopping and dining at Harborland’s Mosaic Mall (Tel: 81-78/360-3639; www.harborland. co.jp). This lively waterfront area is also where you can get on board one of the harbour cruises such as the Concerto or Luminuous Kobe-2. Visitors can enjoy a beautiful night view of the city and the sparkling waters, with a backdrop of the world’s longest suspension bridge – the Akashi


image NAOMI JORDAN

SAKAI

ABOVE: Sakai’s Fire Festival OPPOSITE PAGE: Knives for every imaginable purpose; Delicatessen, Sakai-style

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Although not a major tourist destination, Sakai attracts professional Japanese chefs, international gourmands and the kitchen-proud to its traditional knife industry. Professional Japanese cooks usually own their personal set of knives, which are not used by other cooks. Some cooks even own two sets of knives, which they alternate every other day to avoid imparting a metallic taste to the food. The production of steel knives in this city began in the 16th century, when the Portuguese introduced tobacco to Japan and craftsmen started producing knives to cut tobacco. Between 1603 and 1868, the Tokugawa Shogunate boosted Sakai’s knives industry by advocating its reputation for quality, and subsequently turning it into a national monopoly. Making kitchen knives and related

products is still a major industry in Sakai, using a combination of modern machinery and traditional hand tools to make stain-resistant carbon steel blades. The Sakai Traditional Edged Tool Industry Hall or Sakai Hamono Museum (1-1-30, Zaimoku-cho Nishi, Sakai-ku. Tel: 81-72/227-1001) is where you can learn more about its edged tool history and manufacturing. Here, you’ll find knives for every imaginable use, including those dedicated to cutting noodles, tuna and fugu. At times, a master will be present to explain about the knife-making process and how knives are created to suit their intended functions. There are knives for sale and admission is free. Tea ceremony culture is also revered in Sakai. The renowned ceremony tea master Sennorikyu was born in Sakai and started these tea ceremonies in the 16th

century. Developed alongside the tea drinking culture is beautifully crafted Japanese-style confectionery. A must-try is the poppy-seed rice cake or keshi mochi by traditional confectioner Kojima-ya (Shukuinchohigashi, Sakai-ku.Tel: 81-72/232-0131; www.keshimochi.com). Munch on these sweet, chewy cakes and pair them with good Japanese tea. If you plan to stay for dinner, a takoyaki kaiseki meal is good fun especially for foodies. Takomasa Sakai (Tel: 81-72/280-1500, www. takomasa.co.jp) serves a range of these octopus dumplings prepared in different ways from starter to the last course. Before Sakai’s land was reclaimed, octopus was caught in the waters here, but nowadays Akashi octopus is used instead. Those who visit the city in December should not miss the Yassaihossai, Sakai’s traditional fire festival at the Iwatsuta shrine (4-12-7 Hamadera Iwatsu-cho.


Tel: 81-72/241-5640). On 14 December, 108 bundles of woodfire are burned in front of the shrine’s altar for a purification ritual during which young men bravely walk through the fire on their bare feet. It is believed that the charcoal embers will give protection from evil and ensure good health. Even if this were merely folklore, it isn’t hard to imagine why people would bring them home. It must have provided pleasant warmth as they trudged home in the winter chill.

Sakai remains the true cutting edge of Japan. It produced the finest samurai swords in the past, and now manufactures knives that serve every imaginable purpose ARIMA baths in town. Walk around the old streets to appreciate the charm, then pick up some tansan senbei (carbonated crackers unique to this area) or munch on kinsenyaki (rice cake with sweet bean jam). If time permits, a trip to Arima must include an onsen experience and stay in a traditional ryokan. You can experience this at Choraku (1654-1 Arima Kitaku. Tel: 81-78/904-0666, choraku.com) which has several indoor and outdoor bathing areas and a restaurant serving delicious kaiseki meals.

images JNTO (ARIMA) / ISTOCK (KNIVES) / NAOMI JORDAN (DUMPLING)

About an hour from Kyoto and Osaka, and just 30 minutes from Kobe city centre is Arima hot springs, nestled in the verdant mountains. Pamper yourself in two types of rejuvenating hot springs unique to the area: the reddish brown and thick ‘kinsen’ (gold spring) – containing iron and sodium, and the colourless and light ‘ginsen’ (silver spring) – which comes in carbonated water and radium water. For day trippers, there are outdoor baths at two places: Kinnoyu and Ginnoyu. Alternatively, soak your tired feet at one of the al fresco hot water

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images ISTOCK

NARA

FROM TOP: Nara’s deer roam free; Todaiji Temple

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For a serene getaway, Nara is the perfect destination. Founded in 710 AD, Nara was the country’s ancient capital, modelled on the capital of China’s Tang Dynasty, Changan. This year is the 1300th Anniversary of the Nara Heijo-kyo Capital. As part of the celebration, the Heijo Palace Site where the Former Imperial Audience Hall has been reconstructed will be unveiled to public. The Suzaka Gate Plaza will be the main entrance to this World Heritage Site during this celebration. For many travellers, Nara’s most unique feature is the deer that roam freely on the streets in town and in the Nara Park, five minutes’ walk from the Kintetsu Nara Station. These gentle creatures are regarded by Shinto believers as heavenly messengers that protect the city. While tourist are still generally discouraged from feeding the animals, enterprising vendors have produced a shika sembei biscuit that is safe to feed the deer with, so you can enjoy some interaction with them.

The park itself is a scenic spot marked by World Heritage Sites including the Todaiji Temple (1 Zoshi-cho, Nara-shi. Tel: 81-74/222-5511; www.todaiji.or. jp). Constructed in 752, it is one of the city’s most historically significant landmarks and the world’s largest wooden building. In the early days, as head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples, it became so powerful that the capital had to be re-located from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 to reduce its influence on government affairs. Take a step back in time. A 15-minute walk from the train station takes you to Naramachi (Nara Town), a quaint former merchant district where several traditional residential buildings and warehouses have been nicely preserved. Today you will also find shops, cafes and museums housed in some of these long, narrow wooden townhouses. There are enough sights here to fill the shutterbug’s wish list, but don’t forget to sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere.


JAPAN FACT BOX HISTORY

Hyogo

Kobe

Kyoto

Sakai

Osaka

Shiga

Nara

Mie

Nara

In ancient days, Kansai was leading the country in politics, economy and culture. Osaka, Kyoto and Nara were all capitals of ancient Japan before. The Kansai region boasts several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and many of +BQBOTOBUJPOBMUSFBTVSFT*UJTBMTPUIF birthplace of the Japanese tea ceremony, floral arrangement and traditional art forms such as Kabuki, Bunraku and Nogaku.

CURRENCY

Wakayama

POPULATION Kansai has a population of 24 million.

TIME ZONE GETTING THERE

TRANSPORT The easiest way to travel between the cities is to take the train. Buy the Kansai Thru Pass which allows unlimited use of

Kansai Airport

trains and buses of 42 operators in Kansai. It is available to tourists staying in Japan for a short period of time. Whether it is a two-day or three-day ticket, the useful pass does not have to be used on consecutive days. A two-day ticket is 3,800 yen while the three-day ticket is 5,000 yen. The pass also allows you to enjoy VIP treatments and discounts at over 350 facilities and restaurants in Kansai. The best way to start your journey is to purchase the pass at Kansai International Airport which allows you to travel to Osaka city. Then travel to other cities from there. For more information, www.surutto.com

For Japan is 81. Area codes for Kobe is 78, Sakai is 72, Nara is 74.

Singaporeans do not need a visa to visit Japan but Malaysians have to lodge an application at the Japanese embassy at least one week before the trip.

LANGUAGE

4UBOEBSE5JNF;POF(.565$ +9hours Singapore Airlines flies direct from Singapore Changi Airport to Kansai International Airport, the second largest international airport in Japan. Kobe is just 30 minutes via shinkansen from Kyoto and 20 minutes from Osaka. Nara is less than an hour from Osaka and Kyoto. Sakai station is about 10 minutes GSPN0TBLBT+3/BNCBTUBUJPOWJBUIF Nankai line.

CALLING CODE

VISA

+1:64%4(%3.

Tokushima

down to -5ËšC during the winter months of December to March. Summer months of June to September are wet with plenty of rainfall and temperature highs of up to 35ËšC. The best times to visit are during spring, autumn and early winter, when the weather is mild and pleasant.

ATTIRE Bring a light jacket or a scarf to wear for early morning temple visits — the temperature can drop to 19°C. For all other times, light, casual attire will suffice. Keep a long sleeve shirt handy; this is a Buddhist country so ladies should cover up at places of worship.

CLIMATE The climate of the prefecture is generally mild in the basin area, where winters average a minimum of 3˚C BOENBYJNVNPG„$5IF NPVOUBJOPVTBSFBTFYQFSJFODFMPXTPG

Kobe Port

Japanese is spoken everywhere. Minimal English is used in hotels, so it is a good idea to pick up some basic Japanese before you arrive. Here are 10 useful phrases. t0IBZPHP[BJNBTV(PPENPSOJOH t,POOJDIJXB(PPEBGUFSOPPO t,POCBOXB(PPEFWFOJOH t4VNJNBTFO&YDVTFNF t,PSFXBJLVSBEFTVLB )PXNVDI JTUIJT t,PSFLVEBTBJ*MMUBLFUIJT t5BLBJEFTVOF&YQFOTJWF JTOUJU t.PUUPZBTVJOPXBBSJNBTVLB %P ZPVIBWFTPNFUIJOHMFTTFYQFOTJWF  t,FLLPEFTV/P UIBOLT t"SJHBUPHP[BJNBTV5IBOLZPV

images JNTO (KANSAI AIRPORT)

Fukui

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new zealand Italy

NORTHERN STAR Though the smaller of the two New Zealand Islands, North Island shines with its plethora of offerings.

image CHRIS MCLENNA

words JOYCE HUANG

44Geyser, Rotorua Pohutu


image ROB SUISTED

Champagne Pool in Wai-O-Tapu


M

aori mythology has it that demigod Maui was out fishing one day with his brothers. When they refused to provide him bait with which to fish, Maui cast his grandmother’s magical jawbone instead, and ended up with the biggest catch of all – the North Island of New Zealand. His jealous brothers tried to grab their share of the big fish and started hacking at it, which caused the fish to break up into mountains, cliffs and valleys while writhing in agony. This is the legend behind the North Island’s Maori name, ‘Te Ika-a-Maui’, the fish of Maui. Sure, compared to just ‘North Island’, ‘Te Ika-a-Maui’ is certainly more romanticised but one cannot deny that the natural beauty of the North Island befits the story behind its name. The 14th-largest island in the world boasts some of the most varied and spectacular landscapes. Though just one third the size of the South Island, the North Island has its fair share of snow-dusted mountains, lush rainforests, dramatic volcanic plateaus and stunning coastlines within its 113,729 square kilometres area. Indeed, the most common souvenir travellers to the North Island bring back home is a camera memory card (or two) filled with magnificent photos. Beauty aside, the North Island manages to charm because of its sincerity – it does not try to be anything it is not. This is a place that recognises its diversity, celebrates its indigenous Maori people and accepts its turbulent past; a place that respects its local produce and natural environment while remaining all-embracing. Between pursuing urban virtues while city hopping and tramping into the wilderness, there is plenty to see and do here in the North Island. Here are seven ways to get you started.

The towering Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest

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1

Often dubbed the youngest country on earth – New Zealand’s present geographical shape is less than 10,000 years old and it was the last major landscape to be discovered and inhabited – New Zealand has a rich and interesting history. And if anyone wants to understand how the country became what it is today, a visit to Northland, the northernmost region of North Island, is a must. From the arrival of the first Polynesian voyagers, the earliest settlements of the Europeans, to the birth of a modern nation, history has always been made in Northland. Head to Hokianga to learn how it all started. According to Maori history, this was where Kupe, the legendary Polynesian explorer and founder of New Zealand, settled and developed the first Maori settlement. As you peer out to sea from the serenely beautiful

Hokianga Harbour, it’s hard not to feel the same sense of disappointment the Maori felt when European timber entrepreneurs started arriving in the early 1800s and clearing out the nearby forests. Waipoua Kauri Forest is the largest remnant of the once-extensive kauri forests of the North Island and is home to mighty Tane Mahuta (God of the Forest in Maori), the largest kauri tree in the world at 51-metre tall with a 13.8-metre girth and wood mass of 244.5 cubic metres. Join Footprints Waipoua (www.footprintswaipoua. co.nz) for a four-hour twilight tour led by Maori guides who’ll shed light on Maori culture and the importance of the kauri trees. As the birthplace of the nation, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must on any itinerary. It is here that the much-contested Treaty of Waitangi was first signed on

6 February 1840 between Maori chiefs and the British Crown. Though the English and Maori versions of the treaty differ significantly, it is generally considered the founding document of New Zealand as a nation. On the expansive grounds, check out the Treaty House, the whare runanga (meeting house) with fine carvings representing the major Maori tribes, and the magnificent 35-metre waka taua (war canoe) fashioned from gigantic kauri logs. To learn more about the turbulent history between Maori and Pakeha (Maori for European), visit Ruapekapeka, one of the largest and most complex Maori forts. From within its maze of tunnels, rifle pits and trenches, the Maori staged their last battle in the North Island, in 1846 against the British troops.

images JAMES HEREMAIA; ADVENTURE FILMS; ROB SUISTED

Take a history lesson in Northland

FROM TOP: Be entertained by Maori waiata ringa (action songs); The 35-metre waka at Waitangi; Entrance to Ruapekapeka Pa

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2

Celebrate diversity in Auckland

image KIERAN SCOTT

Where else can you find a cosmopolitan and dynamic city within half an hour of scenic, idyllic beaches, sprawling vineyards, majestic volcanoes, lush rainforests and a dozen enchanted holiday islands? Yes, all that, and more, can be found in Auckland. Regularly ranked among the best and most livable cities in the world, Auckland might not have the immediate charm of capital city Wellington, but its beauty grows on you. Everywhere you go, you’ll discover something different, exciting and incredibly accessible. Auckland boasts the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world and an exponential growth in the number of Asians and other non-European immigrants over the last few decades. The plethora of restaurants serving different ethnic cuisines that line Auckland’s major commercial street, Queen Street, is affirmation of that. Other vibrant enclaves to check out include Vulcan Lane with its quirky shops and cafes, and Ponsonby for its hip restaurants and bars. Just over a half-hour ferry ride away from the city, Waiheke Island feels more like a world away. This is where multimillionaires rub shoulders with old-time hippies and bohemian artists; where the region’s best sandy beaches and boutique wineries compete for attention with almost over 40 over historic Maori pa (fort) sites.

Cafe culture is prevalent in Vulcan Lane

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parks invite you to soak in a natural hot spring or indulge in a relaxing mud bath. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is one of the most famous thermal reserves, enthralling visitors with its multi-hued Champagne Pool and Artist’s Palette, as well as the Lady Knox Geyser that spouts off up to 20 metres daily. If you’re looking for something with Maori flavour, the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village is a living village,

where locals still reside, as their ancestors have for centuries. The villagers will gladly show you around and explain their habits and how the geothermal hubbub is important to their way of life. Long regarded by Maori as a place of healing, Tikitere (otherwise known as Hell’s Gate) is home to the largest hot thermal waterfall in the southern hemisphere and the Wai Ora Spa, which specialises in traditional Maori massage and mud baths.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The bubbling Champagne Pool; The boiling mud creating interesting geometric patterns; Artist’s Palette in Wai-O-Tapu

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images CHRIS MCLENNAN; TOURISM ROTORUA; WAI-O-TAPU THERMAL WONDERLAND

3 Get hot in Rotorua

Located in central North Island, Rotorua is literally a hotbed of activity, thanks to its hot springs, geysers, bubbling mudpools and other geothermal activities that has nature’s forces breaking free from the inner earth. Once you can get past the smell – Rotorua is nicknamed Sulphur City thanks to the emissions of hydrogen sulphide which gives the area the smell of rotten eggs – Rotorua is also known as Nature’s Spa of the South Pacific, where thermal


Within the North Island, there’s no better place to witness the splendour of Mother Nature than in the Ruapehu region. This is where you’ll find the Tongariro National Park, the Whanganui National Park and the Whanganui River. Established in 1887, Tongariro was New Zealand’s first national park, protecting three of the country’s most dramatic natural assets – Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu. Movie fans will probably recognise these towering active volcanoes as Mordor in Peter Jackson’s

images GARETH EYRES; ROB SUISTED

FROM TOP: Braving the Tongariro Crossing; The snow-capped peaks of Mount Ruapehu

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Lord of the Rings trilogy. Arguably the best one-day walk in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 17-kilometre hike that traverses spectacular volcanic geography, going past emerald crater lakes, steaming vents and alpine tussle vegetation. It might be rather strenuous, but the panoramic views make it all worth it. Come winter, ski and snow boarding enthusiasts throng the area of Turoa and Whakapapa on Mount Ruapehu. The two ski areas offer around 400 hectares of field each, both taking skiers up to a maximum altitude of 2,300 metres.

4

Embrace Mother Nature in Ruapehu


5

One of the most well-known facts about Taupo is that it is home to the largest freshwater lake by surface area in New Zealand. With a surface area of 616 square kilometres, Lake Taupo was known to have been able to fit the entire Singapore Island – not any more though, thanks to extensive land reclamation in the land-scarce Southeast Asian country. But did you know that Taupo is also the sky diving capital of the world? Boasting the largest commercial tandem skydiving drop zone, Taupo attracts more than 35,000 daredevils a year who are brave enough to take the leap. And quite simply, nothing beats admiring the vastness of Lake Taupo and the majestic Mount Ruapehu from over 3.6 kilometres up in the air. If you’d like to experience the feeling of free falling, check out Taupo Tandem

Skydiving (www.tts.net.nz). It is the original New Zealand sky diving company and has had over 130,000 customers since 1992, so you know you’re in good hands. Taupo offers a host of other thrilling activities for adrenaline junkies. Feel your stomach drop as you bungy jump off a platform over the Waikato River (try Taupo Bungy/Swing); get wet white water rafting down the Tongariro River (check out Tongariro River Rafting); get dizzy on a jet boat as it makes 360° spins and jets about at disorienting speeds before bringing you close to the awe-inspiring Huka Falls (take the Hukafalls Jet); or push your limits while quad motor biking around the regions scenic native bush (join Taupo Quad Adventures) – Taupo is indeed an adventure lover’s paradise.

images DESTINATION LAKE TAUPO

Get an adrenaline rush in Taupo

FROM TOP: Bike your way around Taupo; Take to the skies – diving style; Get wet with the Hukafalls Jet

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images CHRIS MCLENNAN

6 CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Sip some of Hawke’s Bay’s finest; Picnic on the estate; Napier’s Art Deco architecture; Take a walk among the vines

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Lead the fine life in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay is blessed with long, hot summers and cool, mild winters. Not only does this make it a perfect year-round holiday destination, it also means that the region is ideal for growing grapes. New Zealand viticulture pioneers were quick to recognize that and it was as early as the 1850s that the first vines in this region were planted. Hawke’s Bay now boasts the country’s oldest operating winery and has built up a reputation for producing many of the country’s most acclaimed wines. There are over 70 wineries across the region and while there are no shortages of wine tours that you can join, it is fairly easy to self-tour the region, guided by wine trail maps you can pick up from visitor

information centres. You’ll just have to figure out how to avoid becoming the designated driver. And where there’s good wine, you’ll definitely find good food. The agricultural heritage of Hawke’s Bay also lives on in the region’s orchards and artisan food producers. From apples, strawberries and olives, to honey, cheeses and ice cream, Hawke’s Bay is a veritable foodie-heaven. For a range of the best produce, visit the Hawke’s Bay Farmer’s market, where growers and producers gather every Sunday to showcase their wares. If you can time your visit to early February, do make it a point to check out Harvest Hawke’s Bay, the region’s premier wine and food festival.

Also happening in February, is the Art Deco Weekend, co-hosted by the cities of Napier and Hastings. After a catastrophic earthquake in 1931 demolished most of the buildings in Napier, the city was rebuilt in the popular styles of the time and till today, retains a unique concentration of Art Deco buildings. Every third weekend of February, the city glams up with classic cars and vintage aircraft displays, while people dress up in glamourous and elegant Deco style, bringing back the bygone era of The Great Gatsby and the Charleston. On any other day, sign up for an Art Deco Walking Tour with Napier’s Art Deco Trust, where a guide will bring you around town to soak in all the architectural sights.


7

Soak in the arts and culture of Wellington Jazz Festival, New Zealand Fringe Festival and New Zealand International Comedy Festival, the city is practically overflowing with creativity, making it a great place to visit in any season. But if there’s just one thing you have to do in Wellington, it will be to visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. Affectionately translated as ‘Our place’, Te Papa dominates Wellington’s waterfront and is an innovative celebration of the essence of New Zealand. Through dynamic and interactive exhibitions, visitors can gain an insight into the New Zealand way of life – past and present.

images WELLINGTON TOURISM

If you think New Zealand is all about sweeping landscapes and the wilderness, then the vibrant city of Wellington will prove you wrong. Not only the capital city of the country, Wellington, the southern-most city on the North Island, is also known as New Zealand’s arts and culture capital. Here, you’ll find heritage buildings, museums and galleries, glorious theatres and art-house cinemas competing for space alongside designer boutiques, hip bars, trendy restaurants and live music rooms. Host of a range of high-profile events and cultural celebrations including New Zealand International Arts Festival, Wellington

MAIN: Admire the architecture of the Civic Square INSET: The Boulevard Gallery at Te Papa

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ADDRESS BOOK WAITANGI TREATY GROUNDS 1 Tau Henare Drive, Paihia. Tel: 64-9/402-7437; www.waitangi.net.nz WAI-O-TAPU THERMAL WONDERLAND 201 Waiotapu Loop Road, RD 3 Rotorua. Tel: 64-7/366-6333; www.geyserland.co.nz WHAKAREWAREWA THERMAL VILLAGE 9a Tukiterangi Street, Whakarewarewa Village, Rotorua. Tel: 64-7/349-3463; www.whakarewarewa.com TIKITERE (HELL’S GATE) State Highway 30, Tikitere, Rotorua. Tel: 64-7/345-3151; www.hellsgate.co.nz TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK VISITOR CENTRE Whakapapa Village, State Highway 48, Mount Ruapehu. Tel: 64-7/892-3729; www.doc.govt.nz TAUPO TANDEM SKYDIVING Yellow Hangar, Taupo Airport, Taupo. Tel: 64-7/377-0428; www.tts.net.nz TAUPO BUNGY/SWING 202 Spa Road, Taupo. Tel: 64-7/377-1135; www.taupobungy.com TONGARIRO RIVER RAFTING The Rafting Centre, Atirau Road, Turangi. Tel: 64-07/386-6409; www.trr.co.nz HUKAFALLS JET 200 Karetoto Road, Wairakei Tourist Park. Tel: 64-7/374-8572; www.hukafallsjet.com TAUPO QUAD ADVENTURE 1475 S.H.1, Taupo. Tel: 64-7/377-6404; www.taupoquads.co.nz HAWKE’S BAY FARMERS’ MARKET Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds, Kenilworth Road, Hastings. Tel: 64-6/876-5087

image DESTINATION TAUPO

ART DECO TRUST (DECO CENTRE) 163 Tennyson Street, Napier. Tel: 64-6/835-0022; www.artdeconapier.com TE PAPA 55 Cable Street, Wellington. Tel: 64-4/381-7000; www.tepapa.govt.nz The rugged landscape of the volcanoes in Tongariro National Park

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Cape Reinga

NEW ZEALAND NORTH ISLAND FACT BOX Bay of Islands license from your home country and you must be at least 15 years of age. Alternatively, there are plenty of bus services that ply throughout the country.

Northland

CURRENCY 1 NZD (New Zealand Dollar) = US$0.73/S$0.98/RM2.27

Auckland

POPULATION North Island has a population of about 3.3 million, approximately 76 percent of New Zealand’s entire population.

Rotorua Hawke’s Bay

Ruapehu

LANGUAGE FOOD

Both English and Maori are official languages of New Zealand.

TIME ZONE New Zealand’s standard time is UTC+12:00, while daylight saving time UTC+13:00 is observed during summer. This makes New Zealand either four or five hours ahead of Singapore and Malaysia, depending on time of year.

Wellington Cook Strait

GETTING THERE

TRANSPORT

As the largest and busiest airport in New Zealand, Auckland Airport is the main gateway for international flights into the North Island. The country’s national carrier, Air New Zealand flies direct from Asian cities like Beijing, Hong Kong, Osaka, Shanghai and Tokyo. From Kuala Lumpur, fly direct with Malaysia Airlines. From Singapore, fly direct with Singapore Airlines. Starting March 2011, Jetstar Asia Airways will be servicing direct routes from Singapore Changi Airport.

CALLING CODE

Flying domestically within New Zealand is often cheaper than driving or taking the train, and is a good choice if you’re pressed for time. Many cities have an easily accessible airport nearby. Air New Zealand has an extensive domestic network. While traffic in major cities can get pretty dense, driving around the island by car or campervan is generally not a problem. You can legally drive for up to 12 months if you have a current driver’s

The sails of Auckland

ATTIRE Your attire in New Zealand should be dictated by the regions you visit and by the activities that you’d like to participate in: comfortable walking or trekking shoes if you fancy a hike and a windbreaker or thick jacket if you intend to scale some heights. As the weather in New Zealand can be highly unpredictable, it is always sensible to be prepared.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Country Code: 64 Area Codes: Northland and Auckland: 9 Rotorua and Taupo: 7 Ruapehu and Hawkes’ Bay: 6 Wellington: 4

The North Island has a sub-tropical climate and an average temperature of about 15°C. Other than a bit more rain during the winter months of June to August, North Island is pretty much an all year round destination.

VISA

BEST TIP

Passport holders of many countries, including Singapore and Malaysia, do not require a visa for stays less than 90 days. Visit www.immigration.govt.nz for

A Hawke’s Bay vineyard in autumn

New Zealand cuisine is largely driven by local ingredients and seasonal variations. Cosmopolitan Pacific Rim fare – British-based cuisine with New American, Southeast Asian, East Asian and Maori influences – is a result of New Zealand’s increase in emigrants. This also results in a range of ethnic cuisine available throughout the country.

While there is indeed much to see, North Island is full of surprises so allow yourself more than ample time to get distracted.

Get up close and personal with the kauri trees

images FAY LOONEY; BOB MCCREE; JAMES HEREMAIA

Taupo

more information on visa requirements.

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Special Feature by PANASONIC

LITTLE INDIA, BIG SURPRISES

Stroll down one of Singapore’s most intriguing enclaves and capture some fascinating sights

T

here is little wonder why Little India is the most visited and photographed place in Singapore. From colourful temples, churches and mosques to massive shopping complexes, from rows of shophouses selling stunning saris, jewellery, spices and Bollywood DVDs to roadside stalls peddling jasmine garlands, aromatic oils and incense, Little India saturates all your senses. It is nothing like the rest of the country, yet still retains a distinct Singaporean identity. And it is not just tourists who are lapping it up, camera-toting locals throng its labyrinth of streets to suss out scrumptious food, amazing handicrafts, or simply to soak up the atmosphere. Demarcated by Jalan Besar and Race Course and Syed Alwi roads, Little India may seem large and it is easy to lose track of time and bearings when you are absorbed in exploring the alleys, but it is possible to cover sufficient ground in a day. SEE, EAT, DO, SHOOT The easiest way to navigate Little India is to use Serangoon Road as a reference. Little streets branch from it on either side, and you can explore each of these in turn. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring an expandable bag for your shopping and a trusty camera to capture all the interesting sights. Bringing along the creative compact Panasonic LX5 for our day out in Little India, we were won over by the camera’s versatility. It offers a host of creative options for high quality picture taking, such as Colour mode for vibrant pictures, Movie mode for innovative recordings and the IA mode for overall quality pictures taken in a quick snap. On top of all that, its well-designed handgrip and convenient direct movie record button makes it an ideal companion for taking shots on the go. Begin your day with breakfast at Tekka Market. This stalwart institution proffers not just fresh produce on the market floor and all manner of goods on its shopping level, but also a food centre that offers all of Singapore’s favourite hawker fare. Little India Arcade on Campbell Lane is where you can get a crash course on Indian culture via the cluster of restored shophouses offering Indian clothing, accessories, handicrafts and snacks. There is much to


satisfy the trigger-happy here and the LX5’s newly incorporated turn-and-push jog dial enables one to change and select various settings effectively so you don’t miss out on any shots. Buffalo and Kerbau roads are lined with stores selling spices, flower garlands and all sorts of fruit and vegetable. Grab a young coconut drink to keep cool. If you’re up for it, have your fortune told by an astrologer, palmist, numerologist or even a parrot. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Khansama for some North Indian fare. LX5’s advanced F2.0 lens helps capture beautiful food shots with a pleasing soft-focused background, just like those you’ll find in your favourite food magazine. After lunch, visit the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple that is dedicated to the goddess Kali. Use the LX5’s ultra-wide angle to capture the grandiosity of the temple without missing any details. If you’re lucky, you may just catch a Hindu ritual in session. As you carry on up Serangoon Road, check out its beauty and grooming services. Try a henna tattoo, an ayurvedic massage, a haircut or get your eyebrows shaped the traditional way – threading. Wander into Race Course Lane and Norris and Hindoo roads to appreciate different architectural styles. Find a coffee shop nearby to rest your feet

and enjoy a frothy teh-tarik. Turn into Rowell to find the Museum of Shanghai Toys, the biggest oddity in the Indian enclave. Come nightfall, venture to Bangla Square on Desker Road where Bangladeshi nationals chill out after work over intense rounds of carom as well as hearty traditional Bangladeshi snacks of puffed rice in newspaper cones and paan – morsels of areca nuts and spices wrapped in betel leaf. Night-time and low lighting situations might prove a little tricky when trying to take photos, but thankfully, LX5’s high sensitivity CCD coupled with F2.0 Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens and its Venus Engine FHD make capturing sharp, blur-free and quality images possible. End your Little India walking tour at the famous Mustafa Shopping Centre, a 24-hour department store that stocks just about anything and everything. All images were taken with the Panasonic LX5 OPPOSITE: Details of Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple captured against sunlight using high shutter speed THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The juxtaposition of Mustafa Shopping Centre’s modern facade with an ornate shophouse front, shot using high shutter speed and wide angle; A Hindu ritual shot with low shutter speed to capture the movement of flames; The ‘pulling’ of tea captured using low shutter speed; North Indian delights shot in low lighting with high ISO; Paan seller shot with high ISO; Bustling Serangoon Road at night captured using high ISO and wide angle


image 123RF

spain

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VALENCIA’S

BIG BANG

The festival of Las Fallas that draws visitors to the Spanish city of Valencia each year doesn’t just score high on spectacle. Its amazing pyrotechnical ongoings push the limits for thrills and decibels. Keep your ears plugged and mouth open words IAN JARRETT

A view of the city’s north beach from Castle Valencia

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A

round the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the town square of Valencia, the city’s adopted anthem is bouncing off the walls of the old buildings, sending a crowd of more than 100,000 into raptures. “Valencia, it’s the land of the flowers, of light and of love, Valencia, your women all have the colour of roses.” The crowd whistles and cheers. People stamp their feet and drum on hollow surfaces to make their individual contribution to the chant that is rumbling through the city. Others wave their scarves or whatever item of clothing they have on in a bid to add a visual flourish to the song that stirs both passion and pride.

in Valencia, Spain’s third most popular tourist destination after Madrid and Barcelona. To call Las Fallas a firework show would be to compare the World Cup soccer finals to a kick in the park. Or the Winter Olympics to Dancing with the Stars on ice. It is the big bang of festivals. It is the Vesuvius of events. It is the sound of a lot of people having as much fun as they can muster for hours on end as this city of 810,000 inhabitants goes frantic. If you visit Valencia during Las Fallas, come prepared for an absolutely eardrum-shattering experience. No doubt the sights will make you gape in wonder, but according to the locals, keeping your mouth open, for some reason, makes the din bearable.

“Valencia, it’s the land of the flowers, of light and of love, Valencia, your women all have the colour of roses.”

images IAN JARRETT

THIS PAGE FROM LEFT: Fire crew on standby; the Madonna dressed in flowers OPPOSITE PAGE: A street decorated in lights for Las Fallas; pretty girls all in a row

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As the last notes waft over the crowd, a series of firecrackers explodes around the square, watched appreciatively by the city’s political elite from the Valencia Town Hall balconies. The rockets soar higher into the misty March afternoon sky, the explosions become louder, and the ground beneath our feet appears to shake. Welcome to the mascleta, the firework show that provides an explosive start to another day of gunpowder-charged excitement that ushers in the Las Fallas festival

You get an idea of how just huge the celebration of Las Fallas is to the Valencians when you consider that the city closes some 540 streets between March 15 and 19 to allow local folk and visitors to the city alike to stroll around the huge comic sculptures called ninots prior to the fireworks and bonfires. Las Fallas celebrates the spirit and traditions of the local communities to round off the cold winter months. It is an excuse for Valencians to unashamedly parade their opinions, their music, their traditions and

their rituals in a hedonistic festival of high-spirited fun. Each mascleta in the Plaza del Ayuntamento uses up to 130 kilograms of gunpowder in a matter of minutes. During the festivities, each neighbourhood will hold its own firework show, which consists largely of a series of ear-splitting eruptions that bounce off the surroundings buildings like thunderbolts. There are more than 360 fallas communities in Valencia. These are neighbourhood collectives with their own traditions and customs. The falleros support each other, socialise together and collectively undertake neighbourhood projects. As soon as one festival finishes, the local fallas committees begin planning for the next. Each association works throughout the year on the construction of two papier-mâché sculptures: one large scale and one of smaller dimensions, the falla infanti. Both monuments are destined to be set alight during the La Nit de la Crema.

AN EVOLVED ART Perhaps more myth than truth, the festival is romantically linked to the city’s carpenters of old who would throw their discarded wood into the street for burning during the cold winter months, and a few began to construct amusing figures out of their leftovers before setting them on fire. Today, Las Fallas is embraced passionately by the people of Valencia who regard it as the symbol of their unity and traditions. The festival celebrations are funded by community members, as well as from the sale of lottery tickets, public funding from local government and sponsorship, which – in some cases – can involve bigwigs buying popularity and votes in local elections. Each year some 700 sculptures are installed in the streets, competing for recognition and prizes with their satirical humour, creativity, size and dramatic impact. Anything goes. Themes from folklore and movies are popular. There is even room for a little dose of eroticism on some of these. The structure that took second place in 2010 was called “The Kiss”, and at


On Calle de Colon at nightfall, a traditional correfoc – a fire run – sees a group of individuals dressed as fireworks while dancing to the beat of drums. It is loud on the ear and spectacular on the eye, not least because the fireworks are just one part of the annual ritual that includes parades of exquisitelydressed Valencian ladies and their children, marching brass bands and paella competitions. The procession of 100,000 falleros and falleras is called the Ofrenda. It honours the patron of the city, Our Lady of the Forsaken, whose carved figure is offered flowers by each of the exquisitely dressed ladies, young girls and small children, all holding back tears as they approach the larger-than-life figurine of the Virgin Mary. Over a period of several days, these flowers become a cloak assembled by men climbing the wooden-framed skeleton of the Madonna’s body. Las Fallas is loud, lavish, mesmerising, and exhausting if you stay around until the fireworks finish and then join the verbenas

– marquees set up at the end of streets, where the town folk drink and dance the night away. But it wears you out only in the way that any great party would, and as Miguel Angel Perez of Valencia Tourism says, “Las Fallas represents the expression of the Valencian spirit.”

images VALENCIA TOURISM (FESTIVAL LIGHTS), IAN JARRETT (CHILDREN)

27 metres it was the tallest fallas ever built. Estimates put its cost at €600,000, but who could deny that it was one of the most romantic and beautiful fallas of the year. There are also figures that mock political, sporting and entertainment big shots, both local and international. In 2010, those featured included US President Barack Obama, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Homer Simpson, Spain’s best known movie stars, Formula One racecar driver Fernando Alonso, and tennis champions Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and Michael Jackson. The fact that they chose to portray MJ at his (arguably) most beautiful instead of after his features shifted was indicative of Valencians continued love for the King of Pop. Starting an hour after daybreak, and lasting to a climatic display of pyrotechnics at 1am the following morning in the Paseo de La Alameda, fireworks explode noisily around the streets as each neighbourhood tries to outdo one another in its ability to create an explosive impact.

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images IAN JARRETT, 123RF (PAELLA)

AFTER THE BONFIRE

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Valencia-old city; paella is traditionally cooked on open fires

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Yet Valencia, a multi-faceted city that sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is much more than a firework festival. It is famous for its oranges, locally grown rice, and its paella. In fact, Valencia is the birthplace of paella. At Restaurant Mateu in El Palmer, a small fishing village of 800 inhabitants and 30 restaurants, Manuel Marco has been cooking paella for 14 years. He first started stirring the small-grained bomba rice when he was 14 years old. The village sits in paella’s birthplace, Albufera, a lakeside region 10 kilometres south of Valencia, also famous for its eels. Local people follow fishing traditions established 750 years ago in the Albufera nature reserve where rice

fields and agricultural plots are divided by canals and linked by small narrow bridges. The barracas, a traditional house in which they live, represent the best example of sustainable architecture. Constructed from adobe and finished with straw roofs, many of the homes lack electricity and running water. In the Mateu restaurant, Marco scorns the modern interpretation of paella and excludes seafood, peas, red capsicum and chorizo. Here, he adds chunks of rabbit and chicken to the rice together with fresh green beans, tomato and white beans. The regular house paella costs €13.50. As with many classic dishes, paella varies from village to village and even from household to household. Traditionally, men cook it on a Sunday over an open fire when the only acceptable topics of conversation are “women, bullfighting and crops”.

THE OLD QUARTER Sightseeing around Valencia city begins quite naturally in the Old Quarter. Almonia Square is where the Romans established themselves in 138BC, and where today the archaeological museum allows visitors to wander over glass floors while looking at the remnants of Roman baths and living quarters. After the Romans departed, Valencia’s art and buildings came under a strong Moorish influence owing to the settlement of wealthy Moorish traders in the city. The most outstanding archaeological evidence of this can be found in the districts of

Seu and Xerea, where the marks left by the Romans lie buried beneath Arabic ruins. Not much of the original Moorish buildings remained because when King James I conquered the city in 1238, he had all the city’s mosques torn down. But even greater damage was inflicted on Valencia during the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, when more than 900 buildings were destroyed by General Francisco Franco’s forces. Today, Virgin Square, the Silk Exchange market and Serranos Towers are powerful reminders of the grandeur of Valencia’s past. The Gothic building of La Lonja features a beautiful columned room where the old tables on which trading transactions were made are still in use today. The Almudin, although displaying Moorish design influences, was built only in the 15th century over the ruins of a Moorish castle. It was originally a granary for storing wheat stock, and murals on its interior wall illustrate its past business activities. Beautifully restored, it is now used as a museum for modern art exhibitions. The city’s inner port, no longer used for commercial shipping activities, became the base for teams competing in the 2010 America’s Cup yacht race, while roads around the port were incorporated into a street circuit for the European Formula One Grand Prix, which is contracted to take place in Valencia until 2015.


In stark contrast to the Old Quarter is Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences, an ultra-modern complex in the city centre In 1957, Valencia suffered a severe flood when the Turia River overflowed, submerging some of the city’s streets under five metres of water. The local government made the decision to drain and reroute the river through the suburbs of the city. The drained area was remodeled as the Turia Gardens, which winds through the city to Valencia’s architectural jewel, the City of Arts and Sciences, designed, by the Valencian architect, engineer and sculptor, Santiago Calatrava. This stunning architectural marvel is made up of five buildings that challenge the Sydney Opera House for visual impact: the Hemisfèric, the Umbracle, the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, and the Oceanográfic. The Hemisferic, which means “the eye”, is easily the focal point of the City of Arts and Sciences. It sits on an enormous rectangular pond holding the clear blue water from the Turia River. The pupil of the eye contains an IMAX cinema, the Laserium and a planetarium where you can take a virtual journey into space.

The Umbracle is quite simply a very lovely park where you can take a leisurely stroll, read a book, sit and watch the world go by and just relax, the way you do in any park. The difference is that you are under a roof that protects you from the elements, whether you’re there during the scorching summer or chilly winter. The Principe Felipe Science Museum presents its exhibits over three sprawling floors. What is interesting is the open concept that encourages the process of discovery and underscores the philosophy that learning is fun. The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia is the latest addition to the

City, and boasts the most modern technology as auditoriums go. It houses theatres, open-air auditoriums to house grand operas and rock concerts alike. The Oceanografic is a compendium of six buildings in itself housing the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species in exhibition. The City of Arts and Sciences alone can keep you well occupied for a couple of hours just trying to photograph it from every angle, or days if you wish to catch some of the Opera House’s world class acts, or delve into the wonders of outer space and the marine world.

image PHOTOLIBRARY (OLD QUARTER), 123RF (UMBRACLE), VALENCIA TOURISM (CITY OF ARTS ANDS SCIENCES)

A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP : View of the Old Quarter from the tower of Valencia Cathedral; Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences

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SEE

images LOEWE, 123RF(street)

A walk through the Turia Gardens is very enjoyable during the summer months, and is a more scenic way to get to the City of Arts and Sciences. For a few minutes you can escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a very shady and green Valencian city park. Definitely one of the top things to do in Valencia. There are many important museums in Valencia dedicated to its chequered history as well as to its contemporary art scene. Visit the National Ceramics MuseumGonzalez Marti, located in the Palace of the Marquis of Dos Aguas, to see the best examples of Baroque style in Spain. Built in the 15th century, the palace had a doorway added in the three centuries later by sculptor Hipolito Rovira. The Churrigueresque doorway is an amazing work of art. Examine it to look for any clue to why its creator went mad and killed himself upon its completion. The Fine Arts Museum San Pio V, located in a fine old convent, is said to have the second largest art collection in Spain, whereas the Almudin hosts exhibitions of modern works by some of Valencia’s talented artists. If you’ve always been fascinated with Lladro’s porcelain figures, visit the Lladro Museum. You’ll find one of Spain’s most important private collections here, with more than 70 works exhibited from the

Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Costumbrismo periods of the 19th and 20th centuries.

SHOP Poeta Queroi Street and Patriarca Square is home to high-end retailers such as Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Roberto Caballi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Lladro, Montblanc, dodicci, sol Hombre, and Valencian designers Alex Vidal and Presen Rodriguez and Dakini. Colon Street and Colon Market (the latter a London Covent Garden look-alike) Sornu Street and Paz Street are other places to find top Valencian designers, including (in Paz Street) Vicente Gracia, named by Vogue magazine as one of the top 20 jewellers in the world. If you prefer labels that are less daunting on the credit card, rejoice. Spain is home to popular highstreet fashion brands like Mango, Zara, Cortefeil and Massimo Dutti.

EAT + DRINK Plaza de la Reina is an enclave of good and inexpensive restaurants that serve up authentic local fare. The more popular ones are Vintara, with a casual tapas bar up in the front and a romantic candelit restaurant down the back, and Finnegan’s, an Irish joint offering Guinness and other Irish beers and value for money pub grub. But don’t stick to the Guinness. When in Valencia you have to try Agua de Valencia, a traditional Valencian cocktail made of orange juice, champagne and sugar, sometimes with a small amount of gin or vodka added. It was invented in 1929 in Café Madrid, in Calle Adadia de San Martin. Most bars and pubs at Plaza del Negrito in the old city centre will serve it. Another drink to try is horchta, a refreshing traditional Valencian drink made of tiger nuts, water and sugar. A good place to enjoy the drink is Horchateria El Siglo in Plaza de Santa Catalina, next to Place de la Reina. Try tapas in the Ruzafa area at bodega El Mercat on Calle Cura Femenia. It is likely to be lively with locals munching their way through snacks of olives, cheeses, anchovies and ham.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: An ensemble from Loewe A/W10; A street in the Old Quarter

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ADDRESS BOOK

LA LONJA Plaza del Mercado. Tel: 34-963/153-931 THE ALMUDIN San Luis Beltrán 1. Tel: 34-963/525-478 CITY OF ARTS & SCIENCES Av Autopista del Saler 1, 3, 5, 7. Tel: 34-902/100-031; www.cac.es NATIONAL CERAMICS MUSEUM Poeta Querol 2. Tel: 34-963/516-392; mnceramica.mcu.es THE FINE ARTS MUSEUM SAN PIO V San Pío V. Tel: 34-963/605-793; www.cult.gva.es/mbav

VALENCIA FACT BOX LLADRO MUSEUM La Ciudad de la Porcelana, Carretera Alboraya, Tavernes Blanques. Tel: 34-963/187008; museo.lladro.com VINTARA Calle del Pintor Martínez Cubells, 8. Tel: 34-963/941-430 FINNEGAN’S Plaza de la Reina, 19. Tel: 34-963/922-862; www.finnegansofdublin.es CAFE MADRID Abadia San Martin, 10. Tel: 34-963/850-330 HORCHATERIA EL SIGLO Plaça Santa Catalina, 11. Tel: 34-963/918-466 EL MERCAT Calle del Cura Femenia, 2. Tel: 34-963/333-067; www. bodegaelmercat.es

Grau Viejo

Torre De Porta Coeli

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Benaguasil

El Bosque Marisàn

Torrent

VALENCIA Alfafar Mediterranean Sea

Albal Montroy

Picassent

Alcásser

Les Gavines

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image VALENCIA TOURISM

RESTAURANT MATEU C/ Vicente Baldoví, 17. Tel: 34-961/620-270

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image EVELYN MAK

thailand

Escape the swelthering heat of Krabi by taking a dip in the Andaman Sea

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The Great Escape‌

KRABI, THAILAND

Where does the pool end and the sea begin?

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image RAYAVADEE

Krabi had been lying in the shadow of Phuket, known only to backpackers, until Leonardo DiCaprio and The Beach brought it to wider consciousness. Now, it boasts properties like Rayavadee, where the well heeled come to enjoy a premium holiday experience away from the madding crowd. Juliana Chan got lucky.


images RAYAVADEE

PREPARING FOR THE TRIP

FROM LEFT: Phranang beach; a dish from Krua Phranang; the Grotto offers a different dining experience

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I’d never been to Krabi. I’d heard, it was rustic backpacker territory, and that you couldn’t get direct flights in. Then came the invitation to Rayavadee in late 2006, and was I taken aback. Poring through its press kit, I found myself marvelling at the images of a property that had been winning multiple awards, including Conde Nast Traveler’s annual Gold List of World’s Best Places To Stay, Asean Association’s Best Hotel Project in Southeast Asia, and the Royal Gold Medal for Environmentally Conscious Architecture accorded by the Association of Siamese Architects. The other pleasant surprise was that Tiger Airways was flying there, meaning that Singaporeans could now get to Krabi in as little as 45 minutes, which is even less time than it takes me to get to work. Inspired by the resort’s idyllic setting, as well as out of respect for my hosts, I packed a four-day wardrobe of boho chic and luxe

resort looks for the trip. Swimwear, pareos, beaded slippers, beach totes, one slightly formal dinner dress, all went inside my suitcase. I even took pains to choose appropriate jewellery, but then that’s just because I made my own bling and jumped on every chance to take them out of the box. Passport, check. E-ticket, check. Camera, check. And I was off to Krabi, pleased that I would be joined by fellow journos who had become good friends.

ARRIVING AT RAYAVADEE Rayavadee lived up to all the pictures I’d seen of it. It was gorgeous. So perfect that it felt somewhat ethereal, like the Shangri-la of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon. Adding to its romance was the fact that the property sat on the Phranang Peninsula, practically sealed off from the mainland by imposing limestone cliffs, and could only be accessed by boat at high tide. After a refreshing welcome drink, our hosts took us on a grand tour. Rayavadee boasts three beaches. This

was rich when you think that travellers staying at Krabi town had no direct access to a beach but had to take a boat ride from the jetty to get to one. The resort has four luxurious villas, every one of them so beautifully decorated that you’d think they were reserved for royalty and movie stars. But then we were shown to our own rooms – the smallest on the property – and were greeted by the same tasteful, luxurious furnishings and decor. All the 98 basic accommodations were circular, two-storey pavilions. The circular shape was so that the buildings could integrate naturally with the surroundings. On the lower floor was the living room, bar as well as an outdoor terrace. On the upper floor were the bedroom with a king-sized bed, a huge bathroom and a wardrobe that could be opened from either side. Great pains have been taken in the bathroom. The bathtub is built for two, with surfaces around it to hold a nest of wide-girthed scented candles, beautifully crafted ornaments to create a soothing atmosphere and a


because of their curious shapes), the crew began serving tasty canapés and cocktails. I felt like a movie star on an exotic filming set. After the cruise, the star treatment continued at The Grotto. This was unlike any dining experience I’d had before because the restaurant is nestled inside an ancient limestone cave, with the fine white sand of Phranang beach as its floor. We had a scrumptious dinner of barbecued seafood, accompanied with signature cocktails laced with Thai fruits and spices. Delicious.

ISLAND HOPPING We had breakfast on the main terrace under a canopy of tall, mature trees. The spread was good, with everything from bacon, sausages and pastries to fruit, yogurt and congee. After taking our fill, we were ready to go island hopping. Our speedboat was a handsome sight – a shiny white boat with leather seats and polished wooden steps leading up to its deck. It even has its own shower facilities and crew in crisp khaki uniforms. The islands we visited were amazing, all sharing the sparkling waters of Andaman Sea and

huge tray of pampering amenities including a selection of Rayavadee’s signature scrubs. They all smelt divine and I would have used one of them right there and then, but we were due for our first excursion. So after refreshing myself, I headed out promising myself a good aromatic scrub later.

THE FUN BEGINS Our party reconvened at the Phranang beach, where a boat took us out to deeper waters to board a Siamese junk – a quaint vessel with ornately carved wooden doors and striking red sails. We climbed on board and gave ourselves a tour, much like children discovering a new playground. Our curiosity satisfied, we settled down to relax on deck. As the sun began its daily descent, and the boat made its way around the tiny offshore islands of Poda, Chicken and Tub (so called

characteristic white sand beaches. Some of these were remote enough for honeymooning couples to frolick privately. We jetted out towards Phang Nga Bay where we found ourselves walled amid stunning emerald cliffs. The sea was crystal clear and we could see right down to the bottom from the boat. It was teeming with marine life. We cast anchor, grabbed our fins and snorkels, and jumped in to frolick with the fish. Not doing so would be a sin. We nosed around a few more islands in search of a lovely beach to have lunch. Actually they were all lovely. It was just that some of them were beginning to get crowded. It was a quaint feeling to see people in more weather beaten boats admiring our craft – some even took pictures of it. Finally we found a nice stretch of beach, and the crew proceeded to

lay out our picnic lunch of soup, salad and sandwich. It was delicious, packed in smart baskets, complete with plates, tumblers and utensils. After lunch, we joined the tourist hordes on Phi Phi Island to have a look around. We had fun exploring the shops and beach bazaars selling a plethora of flip-flops, T-shirts, kaftans, sunglasses, pareos, hats, beach totes and accessories. Some of us indulged in a spot of tourist haggling and came away with pretty cool souvenirs. Wearied from sun, sea and surf, we were quite grateful to leave Phi Phi and head back to the resort. Dinner was at Raya Dining, which served a wide selection of Thai and international cuisine. After dinner, we adjourned for nightcaps at one of our pavilions. Indeed, it was so well furnished that all 10 of us found cosy nooks to plonk ourselves.

FROM TOP: Discovering a pristine beach among the cluster of offshore islands; snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of Phang Nga bay

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images JULIANA CHAN

The bay was teeming with marine life. We cast anchor, grabbed our fins and snorkels, and jumped in to frolick with the fish. Not doing so would be a sin.


TOTAL RELAXATION Since the previous day was marked with adventure and activity, we decided to take it easy. After a soothing breakfast, some of us roamed the property to check out its facilities and take more photographs around the grounds for our stories. The more energetic ones asked for snorkels, fins and kayaks from the resort’s activity centre and headed out to explore the Klong Jilad mangrove forests and the Bat Cave just off Phranang beach. There were options to do elephant riding, batik painting, rock climbing or Thai cooking lessons too, but strangely no one took these up. After a casual lunch at the Raitalay Terrace by the pool, I went back to

my pavilion to enjoy the scrub I’d promised myself. It was a ginger and salt concoction that had just the right texture – neither too harsh nor too uselessly mild. And it left my skin feeling really smooth and comfortable. To add on to this wonderful feeling, I proceeded to the resort’s spa where I was booked for a blissful aromatherapy oil massage. The spa offered an extensive menu of therapies, all drawn on ancient Thai healing traditions. Everything looked good, but since I couldn’t choose them all, I went with the one that I thought would give me a deep sense of relaxation. Still floating on cloud nine after the spa experience, I wandered off to

check out the Rayavadee boutique. It was a trove of beautiful and unique items ranging from silk clothes, jewellery, ceramics, antiques and handicrafts, all superbly made and befitting the approach of Rayavadee. I was very happy to find the ginger and salt scrub that I had fallen in love with available for purchase. The boutique assistant revealed that Rayavadee had conceptualised all the amenities according to Thai healing and beauty traditions, and have engaged local industry to prepare and package them. I bought as many bottles as my luggage allowance permitted. Just before dinner, we were invited to a pond in the resort’s garden to observe the Thai festival of Loi Krathong. We were presented with small rafts made of banana leaf, which held tealights and colourful petals. We made wishes as we floated our rafts down the pond.

images RAYAVADEE

THE VILLAGE

ABOVE: A couple’s therapy room at the Rayavadee Spa BELOW: At the entrance of Krua Phranang

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The night’s dinner was at Krua Phranang, Rayavadee’s Thai fine-dining restaurant. The undulated feature wall decorated with great gilded bells at its entrance seemed to announce that we were approaching a temple devoted to the finest cuisine. Indeed, the dishes took us on a journey of refined Thai flavours, presented in elegant portions. They teased and excited, but never overwhelmed the palette. After dinner, we ventured out of the resort to explore the small village outside. We walked along Railay East beach, through dirt streets, escorted by fireflies glowing in the dark. We came into an area where a few shacks have been roughly erected and decorated with coloured lights to serve as pubs. They were quite well patronised, both by tourists and the locals alike who looked happy to bounce along to reggae music. We found space for our party at a particularly hippie looking joint. Alcohol was cheap, although we were mindful to stay sober so as to find our way back on the unlit beach. Someone offered us a pot of dried leaves and slips of paper. Only one of us was brave enough to try it. We watched with unblinking eyes as he drew on it. Unnerved by the stares, he shrugged and announced that it was mild, fruit-flavoured tobacco.


Was there something else in the tobacco? We were never to find out but our companion was absent at breakfast. He also didn’t join us on the hike up to the top of a hill, where after an energetic climb that left us covered in sweat, we found ourselves looking down on an amazing view of the Phranang peninsula. We could see both the East and West Railay beaches. The bay in which the boats came in looked tranquil and dreamy. It was a view to relish and remember. Is this why rock climbers from all over the world come to Krabi? After taking pictures from every possible angle, we made the long descent. As we had some time before our transfer to the airport, we filed into the Rayavadee library. I’ve seen libraries in hotels, usually set up by default because travellers tend to leave the books they’d finished behind to make room in suitcases for their shopping. That was not the case here. This library looked more like a club house lounge, with plump sofas and armchairs, indoor plants, floral

arrangements, shelves upon shelves of gorgeous coffee table books about Thailand and Krabi, as well as a rack of Thai and English language newspapers. It was once again a testament to the resort’s commitment to create a level of quality and prestige that is met by very few in the region. Our boat arrived and it came time for us to go. We took our bags and waved goodbye to our hosts. It was quite obvious what we were all feeling. After all, who would ever want to leave paradise? Rayavadee is at 214 Moo 2, Tambon Ao-Nang, Amphoe Muang, Krabi 81000, Thailand. Tel: 66-75/6207403, www.rayavadee.com Tiger Airways stopped plying the Singapore-Krabi route briefly owing to higher operational costs and lower passenger traffic during the recent financial crisis. It has since resumed plying the route. Flying out to Krabi on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, and returning to Singapore on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Details and schedules at www.tigerairways.com.

Set in the idyllic Phranang peninsula, Rayavadee gives a sense of paradise as described in James Hilton’s Lost Horizon.

FROM TOP: A Rayavadee employee gathers flowers from the grounds; the Ed; the Phranang peninsula

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images RAYAVADEE

A VIEW TO REMEMBER


on the road

WORDSWORTH’S

CUMBRIA A self-drive holiday through Britain is not complete without a sojourn to its lovely Lake District.

images ROD EDWARDS

words JULIANA CHAN

Boats moared on derwent water

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T

here is good reason why William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and so many other poets, writers, artists and musicians, past and present, have been drawn to Cumbria in Northern England. The knowledge that it is home to some of Britain’s most beautiful hills (known locally as fells), valleys and lakes that make up the Lake District National Park may give you an idea, but you will really only know what that reason is when you actually set foot there.

PENRITH If you’re coming down south from Carlisle, the best place to begin your exploration is Penrith (see www.visitcumbria.com/ m6.htm). For a small agricultural town, Penrith once boasted five working breweries and a lot more pubs and public houses than you’ll find these days. The availability of other forms of entertainment is the reason. For visitors, Penrith remains a charming stopover with a pretty Market Square, Penrith Castle ruins and King Arthur’s Round Table to explore.

monuments in Britain, estimated to have been erected around 3200 BC. The tallest of the stones set in an almost perfect circle is some 2.3 metres tall. It remains unclear what the stones were originally used for, although archaeologists have found that some them have been aligned with the midwinter sunrise and various lunar positions. Yet others believe the circle was a meeting point for trade, or ritual, possibly both. Poets and writers have attributed it to the druids. Whatever the truth is behind the Castlerigg Stone Circle, it remains a stunning site to behold, especially with breathtaking scenery all around it. Don’t be surprised to find yourself looking for the best angles to photograph it. The only problem is there are just too many.

FROM TOP: Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick; Landscape near Ullswater

From Penrith, take the smaller road down to Ullswater instead of the main road to Keswick. It is second largest body of water in the Lake District but many consider it to be the loveliest, and well worth the detour. Ullswater Steamers operate cruises to take visitors on trips around the lake, from Pooley Bridge down to Glenridding to the far south, and back. You’ll get to see the Ullswater Yacht Club, where the annual July races to claim the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy take place.

CASTLERIGG STONE CIRCLE Moving on back to the main road, head west towards Keswick. About three kilometres before Keswick, turn off the road to see Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the most important prehistoric

images BRITAINONVIEW- CHRIS COE (CASTLERIGG)/ ROD EDWARDS (ULLSWATER)

ULLSWATER

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images BRITAINONVIEW-ROD EDWARDS (VALLEY) / JAMES MCCORMICK (LAKE) / DILIFF (MARKET)

DERWENT WATER Keswick is a charming town that earned its name as a producer of the best English cheese, and later as the town where poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge took up residence. Perched at the north of Derwent Water, Keswick has since evolved to accommodate the tourists who travel from all over the world to see the Lake District. As if it needs to create more reasons for people to visit, Keswick also holds annual film, beer and jazz festivals. But clearly these have provided much more to enjoy, both for visitors to the vicinity and the townsfolk alike. It is not a bad idea to stay a night or two in Keswick to do more around Derwent Water. This is an area of considerable beauty, surrounded by tranquil woodlands begging you to take a walk in them. There are walking guides available if you are not confident of finding your own way around. Derwent Water is also dotted by a number of islands, one of which is inhabited. Derwent Island House is a manor built in a neo-Renaissance style. Story has it that Wordsworth was upset by the building, but it really had more to do with the fact that the owner held regattas on the lake, which he saw as an abomination to the area. Today, the house is owned by the National Trust and open to the public on five days each year (check what these are at www.nationaltrust.org.uk).

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The Keswick Launch Company operates lake cruises that go round Derwent Water (clockwise or anticlockwise as you prefer), stopping at seven jetties where you can get off to take a look around. Rowboats are also available for hire from Keswick, and you can go out to other interesting places around the lake such as Lodore Falls, the subject of poet Robert Southey’s poem of 1820 – The Cataract of Lodore. Be sure to pack a picnic. Just west of Lodore Falls is the Chinese Bridge. Although the original bridge has been

dismantled and replaced with a modern one to make it more accessible to wheelchair users, it still retains the flavour of the old bridge.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Overlooking Keswick; The lake and fells at twilight; Keswick’s Saturday Market


3 Driving Tips by Hertz WORDSWORTH’S LAKES When you have had your fill of Derwent Water, you may want to proceed northwest towards Cockermouth to see Wordsworth House and take in Bassenthwaite Lake along the way. Wordsworth House is a Georgian townhouse where the poet was born and where he lived as a child. The house has been restored to its 1770s splendour,

To the adult Wordsworth, Grasmere is “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”. The poet lived here for 14 years in Dove Cottage, which has been incorporated into the Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery. To complete your tour of Wordsworth residences, drive southwest out to Rydal Mount on the edge of Windermere

WINDERMERE Moving down south takes you to Windermere at the east side of Windermere Lake. You want to spend a day or two here, to see the nearby towns and attractions including the charming old country house and gardens of Brantwood. Also in the vicinity is Hill Top, the home of author and illustrator Beatrix Potter who created the world of Peter Rabbit

tSchedule your Lake District visit during the weekdays to avoid the usual road congestion during the weekend, when the locals are also out for some sunshine and fresh air. tBe alert while driving in the Lake District National Park area. The beautiful views can be a distraction from the road for zealous photographers and tourists. Also look out for the park’s wildlife. tThe advantage of driving yourself is so you can stop to enjoy the views along the way, but be considerate to other road users and park where it does not obstruct traffic flow.

ADDRESS BOOK ULLSWATER STEAMERS The Pier House, Glenridding Tel: 44-017684/82229 www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk KESWICK LAUNCH COMPANY 29 Manor Park, Keswick Tel: 44-017687/72263 www.keswick-launch.co.uk

images DILIFF (GRASMERE VILLAGE)/ BRITAINONVIEW-MARTIN BRENT (COUPLE ROWING)

LAKEMERE (KESWICK TOWN) 13 Leonard Street, Keswick Tel: 44-017687/72772 www.lakemere.co.uk THORNTHWAITE GRANGE (KESWICK COUNTRYSIDE) Thornthwaite, Keswick Tel: 44-017687/78205 www.thornthwaite-grange.co.uk CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Grasmere Village; Seeing Windermere on a rowboat

right down to the cutlery, complete with actors in costume, to give visitors an idea of the poet’s childhood environment. It is about an hour’s drive from Derwent Water, allowing for time to stop and take photos along the way. Alternatively, or subsequently, take the road south to Grasmere, also about an hour’s drive away.

Lake. This is apparently the poet’s favourite home, and it isn’t difficult to see why. It has sprawling gardens and commands a spellbinding view of the surrounding fells, lakes and tarns that make up the Brockhole National Park. Opening times are limited and varies between seasons, so it is wise to check when you are planning your visit.

and his friends. If you’re not up for another lake cruise but simply to get across to see the other side to see Corniston, there is a Cross Lakes Shuttle that operates nine trips across daily. From Windermere, you can proceed southwest on A6 past Kendal, to join the M6 motorway southwards to get back on your grand tour of Britain.

RYDAL MOUNT Ambleside, Lake District Tel: 44-015394/33002 www.rydalmount.co.uk DOVE COTTAGE, THE WORDSWORTH MUSEUM & ART GALLERY Grasmere, Cumbria Tel: 44-015394/35544 www.wordsworthlakes.co.uk CROSS LAKES SHUTTLE See www.golakes.co.uk

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weekend

Taipei Rocks

The unflagging energy of Taipei draws you into its heady mix of yummy eats, vibrant nightlife and fabulous shopping. words JOYCE HUANG

image SHUTTERSTOCK

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t was our first night in Taipei and we had just finished a shopping marathon along Shilin Night Market. Our hands were laden with purchases, our tummies filled with yummy street food. It was close to midnight and we hadn’t had a break since touching down and checking into our hotel that morning. But nothing was going to stop us – there was no time to be tired. We flagged a cab and headed to a club for drinks with as much gusto as we did dishing out dough at the night market. It is hard to explain, and it is probably best to experience it yourself, but it is as if the air of Taipei is spiked with caffeine. There is a palpable energy in this capital city of Taiwan and it is addictive. Taipei is the country’s largest city and home to a population of over 2.6 million. As the political, economic and cultural centre of Taiwan, Taipei keeps tourists busy with a good range of cultural and historic attractions, a cosmopolitan and burgeoning culinary scene, and lots of shopping. A clean, efficient and accessible subway system makes travelling around Taipei easy, safe and fast – something you’ll appreciate as you check off your endless Taipei ‘to-do’ list.

Taipei 101


One thing is for sure in any trip to Taipei – you’ll never go hungry. In fact, many visitors just eat their way through their holidays, feasting on a plethora of Taiwanese xiao chi. ‘Xiao chi’ literally means small eats in Mandarin and in a similar vein to Spanish tapas and Cantonese dim sum, refer to Taiwanese snacks or finger food. The best way to sample Taiwanese xiao chi is to walk down any of the city’s night markets where you can take your pick from stinky tofu, Taiwanese sausages, scallion pancakes, grilled squid, oyster vermicelli, mango shaved ice or bubble tea and much more. Street food aside, Taipei offers plenty of restaurants and eateries to suit your dining tastes. Yong He Dou Jiang Start your day like the Taiwanese and indulge in warm soy milk and you tiao (Chinese dough fritters) – dip the fritter into the soy milk like you would an Oreo cookie in regular milk. Yong He Dou Jiang is a popular favourite. No.102, Section 2, Fuxing South Road. Tel: 886-2/2703-5051 Yong Kang Beef Noodle Eating beef noodles in Taipei is a must and many head to this store for its signature braised beef noodles. The liberal use of spices and addition of broad-bean chilli sauce (dou ban jiang) make for a flavourful broth. There’s also a clear-broth stewed beef noodles

if you are not partial to a spicy soup base. 17, Lane 31, Section 2, Jingshan South Road, Da-an District, Taipei City. Tel: 886-2/2351-1051

NIGHT LIFE

It is easy to think that the Taiwanese don’t sleep. The locals thrive on the city’s active nightlife, with emblematic night markets and myriad clubs and bars keeping sleep at bay. Raohe Night Market Shilin might be the city’s most famous night market, but it is Raohe that boasts the title of oldest night market in Taipei. Raohe Street is a treasure trove of yummy Taiwanese snacks: oyster vermicelli, spare ribs stewed in herbal soup, pepper meat buns, duck meat, stinky tofu and more. Raohe Street, near Songshan Railway station. Tel: 886-2/27635733; www.raohe.com.tw

selections of English language publications in the city. This bookstore chain focuses on art and humanities-related books and is a haven for magazine-lovers. No. 245, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Taipei City. Tel: 886-2/27755977; www.eslite.com

ATTRACTIONS

The list of attractions in Taipei is endless and runs the gamut of traditional culture and heritage spots to modernw galleries and museums. Here are some to start off your city tour: National Palace Museum It is impossible to go through National Palace Museum’s permanent collection of close to 677,700 pieces of ancient Chinese artefacts and artworks in one day, but it is definitely worth a try. These priceless art treasures include ancient

bronze castings, calligraphy, scroll paintings, porcelain, jade and rare books, culled from over 8,000 years of Chinese history – from the Neolithic age to the Qing dynasty. No.221, Section 2, Zhishan Road, Shilin District, Taipei City. Tel: 886-2/2881-2021; www.npm.gov.tw CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Candied fruit skewers at the night markets; Facade of Eslite Mall at Xiuyi; Spend a quiet night at the Eslite 24-hour bookstore; National Palace Museum

Room18 This nightclub is a favourite among the young and pretty crowd who head there for guest DJs and live performers. It is only open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, but will carry you through to 5am the next morning. B1, No. 88 Songren Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City Tel: 8862/2345-2778; www.room18.com.tw

images LAWRENCE LIM (CANDY) / TAIWAN TOURISM BUREAU

FAB EATS

Eslite 24-hour bookstore If you’re looking for a quieter night out, the 24-hour Eslite bookstore stocks the largest

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com), located smack in the middle of Taipei’s main business and financial centre yet idyllically housed within its own peaceful oasis garden. Eighty-four rooms, spread across five room categories, each feature an innovative blend of classic European décor and furnishing, distinctive contemporary art and modern technology. The thoughtful complimentary nibbles and drinks at Les Lounge café on the ground floor definitely earn brownie points. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Taipei 101; Wufenpu Garment Wholesale Area; Hotel QUOTE

images TAIWAN TOURISM BUREAU/ LAWRENCE LIM (Wufenpu)/ HOTEL QUOTE

Red House Theatre Built in 1908 during Japanese rule, the Red House Theatre was originally a market building but was used as a theatre from 1945. It still regularly hosts live performances. An exhibition on the ground floor displays the history of the structure. Do visit on weekends, when the north square becomes a platform for budding artists and designers to showcase and sell their craft. At night, the restaurants and bars that line the area facing the south square up the area’s hip quotient. No.10, Chengdu Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City. Tel: 8862/2311-9380; www.redhouse.org.tw Taipei 101 This landmark skyscraper might no longer be the world’s tallest building but has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since it opened. The building stands at 509.2 metres and architecturally symbolises the evolution of technology and Asian tradition. The observatories, located on the 91st and 89th floors, offer breathtaking views of the city. An adjoining mall houses hundreds of fanshionable stores, restaurants and clubs. No.7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City. Tel: 8862/8101-8898

SHOPPING

It’s almost as if the city of Taipei will not stand for it if tourists visited and not partake in a bout

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of shopping. From the frenzied night markets to huge shopping malls; from dedicated shopping districts to little-known alleyways lined with boutiques selling knick-knacks; Taipei shopping is as diverse as Taiwan itself and it unashamedly assaults you (and your wallet) with its mind-numbing choices. Located opposite Songshan train station in Xinyi District, Wufenpu Garment Wholesale Area is where your tourist dollar will travel far. This is a renowned wholesalers’ district stuffed to the brim with quality inexpensive clothing and related adornments and accessories. Although the market caters mainly to wholesalers, individual shoppers throng the streets every day sniffing out trendy bargains. The Taipei Zhongshan Metro Shopping Mall is an extensive underground shopping mall stretching from Taipei Main Station in the south to Shuanglian Station in the north. The first underground mall in Taipei, it houses over 180 different stores selling all manner of items, from electronics and handmade toys to Cuban cigars and imported coffee. To get a feel of Taipei’s past, take a stroll through Dihua Street (Section 1, Dihua Street, Datong District, Taipei City. Tel: 886-2/2720-8889). In the mid-19th century, goods from China and all over the world arrived by ship at the

Dadaocheng wharf to be traded on Dihua Street. The era’s neo-Baroque facades still remain on many of the shophouses. Today, Dihua Street houses scores of shops selling traditional goods such as Chinese medicines and herbs, temple icons and incense, spices and dried food, and bamboo and wooden crafts. Look out for the oldest shop on Dihua Street, Lin Fu Zhen. For over 150 years, the shop has been a specialist purveyor of imported dried goods such as sea cucumber, mullet roe and scallop.

STAY

Within the growing number of boutique hotels in Taipei, Hotel QUOTE (333 NanJing East Road, Section 3, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105. Tel: 886-2/2175-5588; www.hotel-quote.com) stands out with its combination of ideal location, stylishly minimalist design, and warm and thoughtful service. Guests will appreciate the in-room Nespresso coffee machine to fight off jetlag, the complimentary rental of Osim massage products to counter a long day of shopping, access to a 24-hour lounge serving snacks and drinks and free wireless Internet access and local calls. Another favourite is Les Suites Taipei Ching-Cheng (12 Ching Cheng Street, Taipei 105. Tel: 886-2/8712-7688; www.hotelsuitesching-cheng.


frequent notes flyer

HELLO Haneda Come 31 October, international visitors to Tokyo will be able to fly direct to the upgraded Tokyo Haneda Airport. The expansion of the Haneda Airport – including an additional fourth runway and a new passenger terminal – has been much anticipated and welcomed as its proximity to the city centre means you can get from airport to downtown Tokyo by the Keikyu Railway in under half an hour, less than a third of the time required to travel to Narita International Airport. Currently, Haneda’s international flights are limited to four cities in China and South Korea, but the expansion will enable the airport to add 32 new international flights every day. From Singapore’s Changi Airport, three major airlines – All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines – will operate four direct flights daily to Haneda, starting from 31 October 2010. Other new direct routes include flights to and from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok, Taipei, Paris, Vancouver, Honolulu, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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words JOYCE HUANG

Fly to Philippines Travellers to Philippines now have more flight options thanks to the regional expansion of low-cost Philippine carrier Airphil Express. Based in Manila, Airphil Express currently flies to 28 destinations in Philippines including Cebu, Boracay (left) and Busuanga. Starting 27 October, Airphil Express will launch their daily end-of-business schedule Singapore to Manila service, operating from Singapore Changi International Airport Terminal 2. Invigorated by market demand, Airphil Express has also been awarded seats to serve the Singapore – Cebu route, and travel dates will start 1 December. Ongoing seat sales feature introductory promo rates starting at PHP1800 (S$55), so do check out www.aiphilexpress.com for more exciting fare promos and deals.

The EXTRA Mile The importance of The Middle East as a growing market and the upcoming opening of the region’s first Swissôtel property – the Swissôtel Makkah in Saudi Arabia – have led international hotel chain Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts to enter a new partnership with Arabian Etihad Airlines. Members of the Etihad frequent flyer programme, Etihad Guest, can now collect miles worldwide whenever they stay in any of the 28 Swissôtels throughout 16 countries. www.swissotel.com

Mobile EMIRATES With the launch of Mobile Emirates.com, booking for impromptu holidays has become easier than ever! From the palm of your hand, you can book your flight while on the go through your phone’s mobile browser. Designed to work with over 3,000 mobile devices, Mobile Emirates.com has been optimized to ensure that customers can efficiently access the emirates.com website and perform a multitude of tasks including booking and managing a flight, searching for flight schedules and even checking the in-flight amenities on a specific flight. www.emirates.com

Lounging in style

ASIA calling Because the shortest flying routes between Asia and Europe are through Helsinki, Finnair’s operations have always been focused on transporting passengers between Europe and Asia via Helsinki. Next year, the airline looks to strengthen its position in Asia by opening a new route to Singapore in May and increasing the frequency of direct flights to Hong Kong in June, from the current seven flights to 12 direct flights per week. www. finnairgroup.com

Dreading a long transit wait? At Plaza Premium Lounges, you’ll be wishing you had more hours before your next flight! The world’s first ‘pay-in-lounge’ is open to all airport users regardless of airline or class of travel. In between your flights, recharge at the all-day buffet spread, freshen up with the showering facilities, get the latest news from international media channels, or get pampered with spa and beauty services. The lounges are all Wi-Fi enabled and even equipped with meeting rooms for busy professionals. Headquartered in Hong Kong International Airport, Plaza Premium Lounge operates in 12 international airports around the world, including Beijing, Hyderabad, Kuala Lumpur and Toronto. www.plaza-network.com

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frequent flyer

Hide and seek Television presenter Anthony Morse believes you need to pick a local’s mind to really get to know a country interview JOYCE HUANG

A

nthony Morse’s penchant for travelling and for meeting new people probably stems from his childhood. Born in Southern California, the 30-year-old American Burmese moved to Thailand at the age of three, and growing up as a child of missionaries, weekends were spent traversing the country with his family. Adventurous and easy-going, Anthony’s travels have brought him to almost every continent on the planet. While he enjoys the great outdoors, indulging in activities such as deep water diving, cross-country motor biking and cliff jumping, Anthony delights in getting to know the people and the culture of each new country he visits. As the new face of the History Channel’s flagship series Hidden Cities, the everinquisitive Anthony picks more than just the locals’ minds. Together with local experts that include writers, photographers, historians, guides, archaeologists and scientists, Anthony brings viewers to some of Asia’s bustling cities, in search of hidden worlds of forgotten palaces and temples, abandoned towns, unbelievable relics and untold stories.

What are some of your packing tips? I always pack as light as possible and as I have had the misfortune of not arriving with my luggage before, I always pack my toiletry kit and a change of clothes into my carryon. My other travel essentials include deodorant, a book, my iPod touch for music, my digital SLR camera and zip lock bags – they are extremely handy. Do you prefer to travel alone, in a pair or in groups? I’m a big fan of solo travel. What happens most of the time is I end up not travelling alone as I always meet new people. I enjoy meeting locals whom I can engage in conversation with and fellow travellers wanting to explore the same things that I do. The problem with travelling in big groups is that it takes too much time to make decisions. What are your must-dos each time you visit a new place? I’m a musician – I play the guitar, harmonica and piano – so whenever I’m in a new country, I will check out the local music scene. I believe that food is a good expression of a country’s culture so I’ll definitely get a local’s recommendation on places to eat, or have them bring me out for dinner but I buy them the meal.

Any memorable stories when filming Hidden Cities? I used to watch a lot of martial art flicks as a kid – I always joked that I was baby-sat by Jackie Chan and Jet Li. So when we were filming in Beijing, I was thrilled when I managed to get a 45-minute private class session with this Abbot who has been a kungfu practitioner for 38 years. I also had to spar with someone who was much bigger and of a much higher-level than I! But he was very nice about it and practised a lot of self restraint so as not to make me look bad in front of the crowd of old ladies who were watching us and giggling. Do you have a favourite country or city? Of all the cities that I’ve been to, I would like to return to Brazil. I spent a good month and a half there and I was very taken with their culture, the people and their language – I felt connected to that place on so many levels. Countries on your hot list to visit now are… Greece – I am fascinated by ancient Greek culture; Egypt – although I have never been there, I have always been interested in the mix of their modernity and ancient past; Sweden – I have some really good friends there and it’ll be nice to see them in their home territory.

Hidden Cities premieres Sunday 24 October at 10pm on HISTORY™, and airs over the next three Sundays. If you’ve got a hidden city of your own, log on to hiddencities.historyasia.com, share these little-known locales and their historical and cultural values, and stand a chance to win fabulous prizes, including a dream holiday to one of the destinations featured in Hidden Cities.

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essentials Petrol leather travel journal, Kikki.K Kaela in plum, Crocs

Hit The Road words & sourcing JOYCE HUANG

Polka dot nylon bag, Agnès B

Practical, comfortable and chic – remember to pack your car with these essentials for your next road trip

CER7001 aviator sunglasses, Cerruti

Claire leather jacket, Coach Quenching hair care collection, Bumble and bumble

Urban khaki cap, Witchery

Summer soft scarf, Witchery


Black Starry Night IdeaPad U150 laptop, Lenovo

Teva Forge Pro Multi-Sport shoe, World of Sports

Mio Moov 380 GPS, AA Traffic

Bluetooth headset VH410, Sony Ericsson

SINGAPORE STOCKISTS AASHOP #01-00 AA CENTRE 336 RIVER VALLEY ROAD TEL: 6831-2195

Reebok B1505 sunglasses, Reebok Right Track Sunshine, Swatch

COOLPix S1100pj, Nikon

AGNÈS B #03-24 ION ORCHARD 2 ORCHARD TURN TEL: 6509-6970 BUMBLE AND BUMBLE SINGAPORE CHANGI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TERMINAL 3 PERFUMES & COSMETICS MEGA STORE BY NUANCE-WATSON COACH #01- 34/35 RAFFLES CITY SHOPPING CENTRE 252 NORTH BRIDGE ROAD TEL: 6837-2188

CROCS #01-63/64 VIVOCITY 1 HARBOURFRONT WALK TEL: 6272-0163 KIKKI.K #B- 44/46 ION ORCHARD 2 ORCHARD TURN TEL: 6509-3107 SWATCH #01-41 RAFFLES CITY SHOPPING CENTRE 250 NORTH BRIDGE ROAD TEL: 6334-5951 WITCHERY #B2-48 ION ORCHARD 2 ORCHARD TURN TEL: 6884-6256 WORLD OF SPORTS #B4-18 ION ORCHARD 2 ORCHARD TURN TEL: 6509-8492


luxe stay

Oasis in the City

Escape from the bustle of the city at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore’s Valley Wing. words Evelyn Mak images Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore


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magine being cloistered in a lush tropical paradise, in luxurious rooms that have housed heads of state and foreign dignitaries, with service staff that will work to fulfill your every wish. That is exactly what a stay at Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore’s Valley Wing offers, and more. A stalwart of the city, Shangri-La Hotel has housed visitors to Singapore since 1985, impressing guests with its impeccable service and posh rooms housed in the Tower, Garden and Valley Wings. But it is in the Valley Wing that you will find the ultimate city paradise, an oasis of quiet and calm just minutes away from Singapore’s most popular shopping belt, Orchard Road.

VALLEY SPLENDOUR The pampering in Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore’s Valley Wing begins even before you check in to the hotel – all guests arriving from overseas are greeted at Singapore Changi Airport with a welcome drink, selection of reading materials and music, and a personal chauffeur to bring you to the hotel in comfort. Arriving in the hotel via the Wing’s private driveway and entrance, you’ll be in awe of the lobby’s grandeur, with spectacular crystal chandeliers and carefully chosen art pieces displayed throughout the lobby – Hong Kong artist Lam Chung’s creation of a landscape adorned with ink and gold acts as the room’s centrepiece. Guests are then whisked to the Champagne Bar at the lobby of the Valley Wing

and treated with complimentary champagne and delicious canapés as a Guest Relation Officer checks you into your room – the wine, champagne and snacks are available throughout the day to all Valley Wing guests. Little ones will even receive an exclusive Valley Wing teddy to keep them company throughout their vacation.

ROOMY REVELATIONS The Valley Wing Deluxe guestrooms are immaculately furnished and wonderfully spacious – the deluxe rooms are the largest in Singapore; you could pick from their one- or two-bedroom suites if you’re travelling with friends or just want space. All Valley Wing Deluxe guestrooms and suites boast either city or pool views, a spectacular bathroom with tropical rainforest showerhead fittings, an LCD television and mood lighting, personalised pillowcases and bathrobes, along with furnishings in the finest quality fabrics like pure Egyptian cotton bed linen and imported upholstery. Keeping in touch with the office is easy with complimentary broadband internet – the hotel even prepares personalised stationery for guests. Valley Wing butlers and a round-theclock chef service is also available if you have errands to run, or get an attack of the munchies at night. In the mornings, enjoy your complimentary breakfast at the private Summit Room. For the ultimate experience, there is none like the Shangri-La Suite. Guests access their suite via a private entrance and escalator; the room has a living

room, entertainment area, kitchenette complete with glassware and china, and a formal dining area; the balcony offers a panoramic view of the hotel’s landscaped gardens, swimming pool and the exteriors of the Tower Wing.

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD Singapore prides itself on being a foodie’s paradise, and guests of Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore don’t even have to travel beyond the walls of the hotel to enjoy some of Singapore’s gourmet goodness. At the top of the must-try list is The Line, Shangri-La Hotel’s buffet restaurant that serves up a generous spread of international dishes at 16 culinary stations, complete with a bar that offers a selection of premium wines, smoothies and fruit juices. To enjoy traditional kaiseki cuisine from Japan, there is Nadaman. And if you’re looking for somewhere quiet for afternoon tea, you can’t go wrong with Traditional English Tea at The Rose Veranda, which offers 128 tea blends.

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Special Feature by CHARTIS

DO YOU REALLY NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE? AIG Assist is now known as Travel Guard, and is underwritten by American Home Assurance Company, Singapore Branch, a Chartis Company. Travel Guard lets you travel the world with peace of mind

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ou’ve been planning and saving for your dream vacation for months, and now all that’s left to do is to shoot in that leave form, pack your bags and make a wish for everything to be perfect. Thinking about travel insurance seems too much like slipping under a wet blanket. After all, losing your luggage is the worst that can happen, right? Well, think again! Anything can go wrong while you are travelling. Who could have known about Eyjafjallajokull and how extensively it could disrupt air travel schedules? Bad weather can also derail plans or leave travellers stranded. And what about illnesses and injuries? TRAVEL INSURANCE Travel insurance typically covers trip cancellation, lost baggage, medical and dental attention and accidental death. Some policies include emergency evacuation services, 24-hour travel assistance, and coverage for trip or baggage delay. You may even find policies that include options for collision or damage to rented cars and business conflicts. There are many available options catering to a wide scope of needs. Consider what your own needs are before deciding on the coverage. Costs of premiums typically range between 5% and 7% of the cost of the trip, but such premiums will also vary with the traveller’s age and medical history. Coverage for children is usually piggybacked onto the parents’ coverage at a nominal fee, or sometimes even offered at no charge at all. AIG Assist, the longstanding marketleading travel insurance, is now known as Travel Guard. Travel Guard is underwritten by American Home Assurance Company, Singapore Branch, a Chartis company. Chartis offers travel insurance, among other insurance needs, through various

distribution channels, including personal insurance agents, travel agencies as well as direct online purchase. Travel Guard has an extensive coverage for travellers, including travel assistance, and subject to the applicable terms and conditions of the policy, even provides coverage in the event of insolvency of the travel agency. PURCHASING TIPS Not sure where to start? Here are some considerations that may help put you on the right track. t5IJOLBCPVUUIFXPSTUQPTTJCMFTDFOBSJP*G you can financially withstand the worst, then you do not need a comprehensive policy. t.BLFTVSFUIFQPMJDZZPVBSFDPOTJEFSJOH provides adequate medical or dental coverage, including medical evacuation in case you need medical care in a place where the best treatment is available or the place that you are travelling to offers medical care that is below the standards you are accustomed to in your own country. This can happen if you fall ill in a developing country or even on a cruise ship. t$IFDLZPVSFYJTUJOHJOTVSBODFQPMJDJFTGPS extent of coverage. There is no sense in paying more for what you already have in other polices purchased by you such as your homeowner or tenant policy which may provide theft and loss coverage. t*GZPVBSFBGSFRVFOUUSBWFMMFS DPOTJEFSHFUUJOH annual or year round travel insurance policies that cost less than what you would pay for in a series of single-trip travel insurance policies. t3FBEUIFmOFQSJOUUPLOPXFYBDUMZXIBUZPV BSFCVZJOH.BLFTVSFZPVVOEFSTUBOEXIBU the company considers to be a legitimate reason for cancellation or interruption of a trip, and other terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. If the list is too restrictive, consider another policy. t"TLFWFSZQPTTJCMFRVFTUJPOBCPVUUIF

coverage. Play the ‘what if’ game. Ask for DMFBSFYQMBOBUJPOTPGUFSNJOPMPHZ.BLFTVSF you and the travel insurance company are speaking and hearing the same language. At Chartis, a dedicated team of insurance experts are ready and available to provide assistance with any enquiry you may have regarding Travel Guard, the scope of coverage as well as any claims services. We believe in building strong customer relationship by focusing on the customers’ needs and giving them peace of mind by protecting them from potential financial risks with our wide range of products and services. At Chartis, your world is insured. To find out more about Chartis and Travel Guard, visit www.chartisinsurance.com.sg, or talk to our agents at 6419 3000

American Home Assurance Company, Singapore Branch, A Chartis Company (Incorporated in the United States with limited liability)

Chartis Building, 78 Shenton Way #07-16, Singapore 079120

NEW + IMPROVED TRAVEL GUARD BENEFITS -Reimburses approved claims from the first dollar. -Trip Cancellation benefit starts 60 days prior to departure. -Reimburses cost of replacement of traveller in event of travel cancellation. -Reimburses emergency mobile telephone call charges incurred overseas. -Reimburses loss through fraudulent credit card usage. -Reimburses loss of use of entertainment ticket. -Reimburses loss of use of green fees. -Reimburses high medical, dental and accident expenses under the Premier Plan. -Covers war and acts of terrorism.www. chartisinsurance.com.sg


itinerary

ROMANTIC EUROPE Seeing the best of Europe in 20 days can feel as exhilarating and heady as a whirlwind romance

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his is especially true when you can simply book the package with an organisation that is committed to making your journey smooth, comfortable, insightful, as well as factor in time for you to enjoy it. Insight Vacations is a tour operator that has the experience and networks to handle all the intricacies of multi-destination travel. It offers unique inclusive elements as part of its approach, ensuring superb accommodations, quality meals, comfortable coaches and cruisers in smaller group sizes so that all travellers receive prompt attention from its tour directors. Among Insight Vacations’ extensive menu of itineraries, Romantic European is its most popular. Newlyweds Irene and Richard Ho went on the tour for their honeymoon, and they loved it.

images CHRISTIAN HORVAT (ST KILIAN) / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BENOIST (BRUGES)

DAY 1: LONDON– BRUSSELS Their journey began in London where they had the option of extending a couple of days to enjoy the city at leisure, whether to watch the Change of Guards at Buckingham Palace, view the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, or visit the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge. They soaked up the energy of the London’s famous streets before embarking on the tour. Departing England on the ferry, the sight of Dover’s spectacular white cliffs brought to mind scenes from Wuthering Heights. The mood of Emily Bronte’s Gothic romance prevailed as the couple crossed the channel into Calais, France. The coach ride from Calais was smooth, but arriving in

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Bruges was like walking right into a fairytale. It was such a beautiful town, with picturesque canals and cobbled streets that lead towards its Market Square. The next stop was Brussels with its gilded buildings in the Grand Place. Hearing the different legends surrounding the city’s icon, the Mannekin Pis, was almost as amusing as the sight of famous statue. And after the first eventful day, getting to know fellow travellers over Belgian beer was refreshing.

DAY 2: BRUSSELS– AMSTERDAM After a relaxing drive through tranquil farmland, Amsterdam felt immense with Dam Square in the city’s historical centre and Mint Tower in Muntplein Square. Some people chose to visit the Van Gogh Museum, others went to see Anne Frank’s house, while those who were fascinated by diamonds got to witness how they are cut to attain their brilliance. Everyone reconvened to visit the charming seaside

village of Volendam colourful stores lining its main street. The most underrated experience was watching how Dutch clogs and cheeses were made.

DAY 3: AMSTERDAM– COGNE–WÜRZBURG In Germany, the soaring Cologne Cathedral underscored what an exceptional work of human creative genius it is, both on the exterior and the intricate interiors. “It was majestic. To think it took over 600 years to build,” Richard exclaimed. “One could spend an entire day poring over its details, but the scenic Rhine Gorge beckoned and we had to go.” Insight Vacations’ Highlight cruise took Irene and Richard’s group past steep vineyards and medieval castles to the Loreley Rock, a dangerous point on the Rhine, with very strong currents and rocks. Legend has it that an enchantress lured sailors to their water graves here. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The Insight Vacations coach was built to offer more leg room; statue of St Kilian with Marienberg Fortress in the background; one of Bruges’ many canals


DAY 4: WÜRZBURG– PRAGUE The next stopover was Nuremberg, the city that came into prominence during Germany’s Nazi era. Here was where the anti-Semitic laws were passed, and where justice was meted at the Nuremberg Trials. Today the city bears little of its Nazi past except as a cautionary reminder for humanity. It now offers a charming and photogenic blend of stone and timber dwellings, old and new commercial buildings, and massive town ramparts. The comfortable Insight Vacations coach proceeded towards the Czech border, past the town of Pilsen, renowned for its flavourful beer, before reaching the golden city of Prague. The sight of it was nothing short of awesome.

DAY 5: PRAGUE A local guide took the group through the 1,000-year-old Prague Castle to St Vitus Cathedral. The views of the city from this vantage point were simply fabulous, so everyone spent some time taking pictures before descending. Prague’s Old Town Square had a lot of sights to offer, but the Astronomical Clock that dates back to 1410 was by far the most fascinating. Clearly man has always been intrigued with marking the passage of time and the planets. Prague is also famous for its Bohemian crystalware, but it was nice to find beautiful bejewelled perfume bottles and decanters other than just bowls and vases.

DAY 6: PRAGUE– BRATISLAVIA– BUDAPEST The group drove out of Prague through the wine-producing area of South Moravia into Slovakia, taking the chance to quietly enjoy the sights before arriving at the fortified capital, Bratislavia. The town is very pretty and it was well worth taking the time to discover its interesting mix of traditional and modern architecture before crossing over to Hungary. The sun had set before the group arrived in Budapest. But approaching the River Danube as the city’s lights came on was a beautiful sight – like colourful gems glowing in the dusk.

DAY 7: BUDAPEST “It was quite different to see Budapest in the daylight. Our guide took us up to the old Castle District with its beautiful churches, museums and squares, where we got to see the intricate interiors and murals of Matthias Church beside the Fisherman’s Bastion,” Richard recounted. “It was a quaint experience going to see the Royal Palace of Buda, then crossing over to Pest to visit the magnificent Heroes’ Square. At some point, it was important for us to step back and look at how all this came together to make Budapest one of the most beautiful cities of the world.”

DAY 8: BUDAPEST– VIENNA Before heading out of Budapest, they stopped to survey the bridges over the Danube, from the lofty citadel atop Gellert Hill. “I loved the view over the Danube and understood why the river was such an inspiration to Johann Strauss,” said Irene. “It is a breathtaking, almost-surreal sight that will live on in our memory if not our camera memory card.” FROM TOP: The colours and layers of Prague; a breathtaking view of Budapest

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images RICHARD + IRENE HO (BUDAPEST)

They continued on to Würzburg, in the northern tip of Bavaria, famous for its Baroque-style Würzburg Residenz. The Marienberg Fortress and the statue-lined Old Main Bridge made one recall those excellent books by Edith Nesbit and C S Lewis about magical gardens where statues came to life at night.


DAY 9: VIENNA A Premium Highlight visit brought the tour group inside the fabulous Schönbrunn Palace of Vienna with its sprawling, manicured grounds and vibrant flowerbeds. Outside the palace, the Parliament, Winter Palace and Opera House along the Ring Road also captured the group’s interest. Later it was the tour director who got all the attention when he gave an interesting and flavourful account of the origins and culture of the Viennese café.

DAY 10: VIENNA–VENICE Driving through forested mountains down to the Carinthian Lake District offered the chance to enjoy a quiet procession of beautiful scenery. There was certainly time for Irene and Richard to hold hands and look into each other’s eyes as they passed some of the most picturesque sights along the way. Crossing the border into Italy, they arrived at the city of Venice where they got to stay in a charming hotel overlooking the Grand Canal.

DAY 11: VENICE Venice is a truly unique city with fascinating landmarks and traditional handicrafts. It produces the world’s most beautiful and delicate blown glass ornaments. The group was escorted to St Mark’s Square to see the magnificent Doges’ Palace, St Mark’s Basilica and the Bridge of Sighs. Local legend has it that lovers who kiss on a gondola under the bridge will be blissfully in love with each other forever. A Venetian glass-blowing demonstration was followed by a romantic gondola ride on the canal.

images INSIGHT VACATIONS

DAY 12: VENICE–ROME The next city on the Italian leg was Rome. Heading out of Venice, the group journeyed south into the Apennine Mountain, which afforded beautiful views of Tuscany. At this point, the tour director gave an interesting tutorial about the Chianti wines that the region is famous for. Following the course of the river Tiber brought the

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Gondolas on the Grand Canal in Venice; The Renaissance city of Florence. INSET: Irene Ho

newlyweds into to the Eternal City of Rome. Dinner was a fun affair enjoyed with fellow travellers who had become friends. “Meeting and making new friends from all around the world during the tour was a highlight in itself,” said Irene.

DAY: 13 ROME Vatican City is home to some of the most famous art in the world, while the Vatican Library and Vatican Museum hold collections of the highest historical, scientific and cultural importance. Irene and Richard joined a local guide to visit the Vatican Museums, see Michelangelo’s famous paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and explore inside the cavernous St Peter’s Basilica. “I found the Pantheon most interesting. I was particularly

fascinated by its solid structure and by the way it allowed for natural light to enter,” said Richard. “Crossing the Tiber to visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum also helped me to understand why they are considered the greatest works of Roman architecture.”

DAY 14: ROME– FLORENCE Moving north into Tuscany brought the newlyweds to Piazzale Michelangelo, a square built in 1869 by architect Giuseppe Poggi. Perched atop a hill, it is the perfect vantage point to enjoy panoramic views over


DAY 15: FLORENCE No visit to the Jewel of the Renaissance is complete without a visit to Santa Croce Basilica to see the tombs of Galileo and Michelangelo. Richard and Irene also followed the tour to visit the lofty Cathedral where Giotto’s 14C Campanile, said to be the most beautiful bell tower in the world, stands. Other sites on the tour included the Gates of Paradise on the Baptistry and Signori Square, with its open-air gallery of Renaissance sculpture.

DAY 16: FLORENCELUCERNE Moving on from Florence, the group proceeded through the scenic Italian Lake District, and found out for themselves why Lake Como is a favourite with so many Hollywood celebrities. Crossing into Switzerland was marked by magnificent mountain scenery as the tour coach made its way to the lakeside city of Lucerne.

DAY 17: LUCERNE Lucerne was memorable for the visit to the emotive Lion Monument carved into a cliff to commemorate the Swiss Guards who lost their lives during the French Revolution. There was just something about the lion’s poignant eyes that made it seem alive. Strolling along the Chapel Bridge brought Irene and Richard to the beautiful Jesuit Church, before an excursion up to one of Switzerland’s most famous peaks, Mount Pilatus. No mountaineering skills

were required as ascension was via a sturdy cable car. Up on Mount Pilatus, they viewed the neighbouring snow-capped peaks of Jungfrau and Eiger before descending. The traditional cogwheel train ride down made for a unique and interesting experience.

DAY 18: LUCERNE– PARIS The party crossed the Rhine at Basel, then re-entered France and

travelled through the farmlands of Alsace with views of sprawling vineyards and maisons of the famous Burgundy wine-growing region. The beautiful hills are quite capable of inspiring an urge to buy a piece of property and start making your own wines. Before long, Irene and Richard found themselves in the glorious city of Paris.

DAY 19: PARIS

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Mount Pilatus; Eiffel Tower; the emotive Lion of Lucerne

Richard and Irene made it a point to catch all the iconic sights of the romantic city: the Gothic Notre Dame cathedral, Les Jardins de Tuileries, the immense facade of the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, its centre occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk, then travalled along the elegant Champs Elysees to Napoleon’s Arc de Triomphe. They capped their excursion by ascending the Eiffel Tower for a fabulous view of Paris. “You can see a million pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but it’s really quite different when you are there, feeling the wind on your face as you look out at all of Paris below you,” said Irene.

DAY 20: PARIS–LONDON After an exhilarating tour of Paris and scoring some fantastic shopping, it came time to cross the battlefields of World War I to Calais, back to Dover, then London, and home. Richard and Irene chose the Insight Vacations package because it covered all the places they wanted to see and offered good value for money. “All the accommodation was excellent, as was the food and excursions. Naturally, the destinations all have so much to offer that we often wished we had more time to spend at every one of them,” said Richard. They appreciated the logistics involved in organising the trip. “It would not have been possible for us to plan this on our own, especially since language can be a barrier in many of the places. Seeing Europe with Insight Vacations is definitely something I’d recommend to our friends.” Insight Vacations Asia Regional Office (Singapore) tel: +65 6338 7338, email: info@insightvacations.com.sg, website: www.insightvacations.com

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images RICHARD + IRENE HO (EIFFEL TOWER) / ANDREW BOSSI (LION OF LUCERNE)

Florence. After a leatherwork demonstration, they spent the rest of the afternoon exploring and enjoying the beautiful city. “Words simply don’t do justice to what you experience here. It’s just so amazingly beautiful, that even pictures don’t always capture it fully.”


Special Feature by HERTZ

ROAM FREELY ON WHEELS

image BRITAINONVIEW ROD EDWARDS/ BRITAINONVIEW MARTIN BRENT (MAN LEAPING ACROSS STREAM)

The joy of self-drive holidays can be maximised when you have a reliable car rental company like Hertz to assist you

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elf-drive holidays are great if you are the sort of individual who prefers to keep your options open. You know how dreadful it feels to have to move on to another place because you’re scheduled to, when what you would really like is stay where you are, perhaps to explore a pretty valley further, or simply to soak up the atmosphere of quaint countryside towns. The freedom to map your route, at your own pace, should not be undervalued. The stories of experienced travellers have often shown that it almost always makes the difference between having a great holiday and just being a tourist. When booking a car, first of all, you need to know who can provide you with the exact kind of car to accommodate the number of people in your party, the amount of luggage and for the terrain you would like to venture into. Hertz is present in 8,300 locations in 146 countries across the globe. No matter where your travel takes you, it offers you a choice of cars ranging from Economy through Fullsize, Wagons to family-friendly MPVs to suit any

need and budget. You can also choose to rent an environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient car from the Hertz Green Collection, like the Toyota Hybrid Camry or Toyota Prius Hybrid. Renting a car also gives you the chance to try something new. You have the opportunity to drive a car you can’t afford to own or that you’ve always dreamt of driving, like the Mini Cooper, Audi TT Coupe, Mercedes S Series and Lexus IS250 in the Hertz Fun and Prestige Collections. All Hertz cars are young, well maintained, and undergo stringent quality control checks. Hertz has also constantly refined its service to make it a breeze to book, pick up and return your Hertz car. You can pre-book a car prior your departure, which is particularly important if you plan to travel during peak seasons. With Hertz’s strong network, you have the flexibility to drop off your car at a chosen location different from your pick-up point, so you can incorporate other modes of transport, such as flying or cruising at certain points in your overall travel plan. With quality and reliable companies like Hertz, you can give in to travel lust in its true sense.

For more information, visit www.hertz.com or contact Hertz Reservation Centres: Hong Kong Tel: +852-2525-2838 Indonesia Tel: 001-803-657-788 Malaysia Tel: +603-2715-8383 Singapore Tel: 1800-370-3388 Thailand Tel: +66-2634-1804


HOME OF CSI

Experience CSI the entire month of October, Mondays to Sundays.

10PM (JKT) • 11PM (SG/MY/TH) • 12MN (HK) Week 1 (Oct 4-10) - Most Bizarre CSI Cases

Week 3 (Oct 18-24) - CSI Celebrity Guest Stars

Week 2 (Oct 11-17) - The Biggest CSI Cases

Week 4 (Oct 25-31) - CSI Halloween Specials

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travel update FREE TRAVEL INFORMATION Sign up for convenient updates and useful information from our travel partners. Complete in two easy steps.

#1

To receive free travel information, simply check the box next to the number code that corresponds to your selection on the travel card.

#2

Mail back your completed travel card. You can also fax it to 65/6543-3719 or log on to www.escape.sg to submit your request.

DESTINATIONS AUSTRALIA

1

Australia Although it is the sixth largest country in the world, Australia also has the lowest population density at two people per square kilometre. This means there are plenty of vast open spaces to explore along with vibrant cities, gorgeous beaches and the awe-inspiring great Australian outback.

TOURISM AUSTRALIA #08-03 United Square, 101 Thomson Road, Singapore 307591. Tel: 65/6255-4555; www.tourism.australia.com; www.australia.com

BRUNEI

AUSTRIA

2

Austria is one of the world’s premier skiing regions. Apart from snowy slopes, it is also home to historical buildings, magnificent mountains, established hiking trails, museums and galleries.

AUSTRIAN EMBASSY #24-04/05 Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188778. Tel: 65/6396-6350; www.austria.info/sg

CHINA

BRITAIN

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Britain Towering castles, quiet villages, ancient ruins, posh shops, top nosh... there’s so much to do in Britain, we reckon you’ll never ever want to go home!

VISIT BRITAIN 600 North Bridge Road #09-10 Parkview Square, Singapore 188778. Tel: 65/6511-4301; www.visitbritain.sg

DUBAI

4

China has a rich history and is home to many of the world’s most revered treasures. Apart from historical momuments, you can find spectacular architecture and towering skylines in Shanghai and Beijing, a wealth of luxury accommodations and exquisite cuisine.

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Dubai is a great holiday destination, with year-round sunshine offering the finest facilities and renowned Arabian hospitality. It is one of the fastest-growing cities with many innovative buildings such as The Palm, The World and Burj Dubai.

BRUNEI TOURISM Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Jalan Menteri Besar, Bandar Seri Begawan BB3910 – Brunei Darussalam. Tel: 673/238-2829; www.bruneitourism.travel

CHINA NATIONAL TOURIST OFFICE #12-02A Suntec Tower 1, 7 Temasek Boulevard, Singapore 068898. Tel: 65/6337-2220; www.cnto.org

GOVERNMENT OF DUBAI, DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM AND COMMERCE MARKETING Representative Office in the Far East 10/F, Oxford House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: 852/2827-221; www.dubaitourism.ae

Brunei is a small, prosperous and peaceful oil-rich Sultanate on the northwest coast of Borneo. Covered in luxuriant and pristine tropical rainforests with exotic flora and fauna, it is an ecotourism paradise for nature lovers.

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6


FRANCE

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France Sea, mountains, unspoilt greenery, and vineyards galore... these make France a perfect holiday destination. Twenty-six regions, each with its own character, architectural style and culinary genius await you in France. ATOUT FRANCE – FRANCE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AGENCY #19-03 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, Singapore 238877. Tel: 65/733-3307; www.franceguide.com/sg

INDIA

10

GERMANY

8

Germany Vibrant cities with amazing architecture, fabulous shopping and exciting nightlife dazzle in Germany. Boasting enchanting medieval villages with festivals and regional specialities, picturesque countrysides with castles, palaces and abbeys, Germany is a land of a thousand possibilities. GERMAN NATIONAL TOURIST OFFICE #12-00 Singapore Land Tower, 50 Raffles Place, Singapore 048623. Tel: 65/6231-0856; www.discover-germany.sg/tourism.html

INDONESIA

11

India Rich in culture and heritage, India is a land full of mystique, colour and life. From rugged deserts to serene backwaters and architectural wonders like the Taj Mahal, it is truly an incredible destination for intrepid travellers.

Indonesia Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago with over 17,000 islands filled with both natural and manmade attractions. Explore ancient temples, traipse through bustling cities or get away from it all with a luxurious stay at one of many world-class resorts.

INDIA TOURISM #01-01 United House, 20 Kramat Lane, Singapore 228773. Tel: 65/6235-3800; www.incredibleindia.org

INDONESIA TOURISM #12-06 Keypoint, 371 Beach Road, Singapore 199597. Tel: 65/6292-7675; www.my-indonesia.info

KOREA

13

South Korea offers the best of both old and new. Explore the picturesque mountains and lush rice paddies in the countryside, visit temples and pagodas in the ancient capitals of Gyeongju and Buyeo, or shop up a storm at metropolitan Seoul. KOREA NATIONAL TOURISM ORGANIZATION #01-02 Korea Plaza, Samsung Hub, 3 Church Street, Singapore 049483. Tel: 65/6533-0441; www.visitkorea.or.kr

MACAU

HONG KONG

9

Hong Kong From quaint teahouses to lively night markets, Hong Kong is a city of cultural and gastronomic attractions. Shop up a storm, hike up rural mountains, and drink in the magnificent skyline… And be sure to feast on the glorious spread of dim sum!

HONG KONG TOURISM BOARD #34-03 Suntec Tower 2, 9 Temasek Boulevard, Singapore 038938. Tel: 65/6336-5800; www.discoverhongkong.com

JAPAN

12

Japan From ancient shrines and futuristic cities to mystic mountains and soaring skyscrapers, Japan offers a wealth of sights both old and new. Be it geisha spotting in Kyoto or feasting on sashimi in Tokyo, there’s something for every traveller in the Land of the Rising Sun.

JAPAN NATIONAL TOURISM ORGANIZATION SINGAPORE OFFICE #15-09 Hong Leong Building, 16 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048581. Tel: 65/6223-8205; www.jnto.org.sg

MALAYSIA

14

15

MACAU GOVERNMENT TOURIST OFFICE #12-06 Keypoint, 371 Beach Road, Singapore 199597. Tel: 65/6292-5383; www.macautourism.gov.sg

MALAYSIA TOURISM PROMOTION BOARD #10-01B/C/D, 80 Robinson Road, Singapore 068898. Tel: 65/6532-6321; www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my

Macau The glitzy casinos have earned Macau its moniker as Las Vegas of the East, but the former Portuguese colony is also a destination to experience a fusion of European and Chinese cultures. Stroll cobbled streets, visit baroque churches and sacred temples, and feast on delicious Portuguese egg tarts!

Malaysia Geographically diverse with cool hideaways, tropical beaches and lush mangroves for nature lovers, multiethnic Malaysia is also home to cosmopolitan cities, colourful festivals and deliciously varied cuisines that will please both culture vultures and city slickers.

97


MEXICO

16

NEW ZEALAND

17

Mexico A trip to Mexico is an experience you’ll never forget. You could choose a romantic getaway, or take a cultural tour to learn more about the Mayans and Aztecs. Enjoy shopping in the luxurious malls and be blown away by the fiery flavours of the cuisine.

New Zealand With breathtaking scenery like white and black sand beaches, mountains, thermal mud pools and geysers, plains, forests, rivers and lakes, and volcanic plateaux, being in New Zealand will make you feel like you’re in a whole new world.

MEXICO TOURISM BOARD 2-15-2-3F, Nagata-Cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-0014 Japan. Tel: 813/3503-0290; www.visitmexico.com

TOURISM NEW ZEALAND #05-230 Faber House, 230 Orchard Road, Singapore 238854. Tel: 65/6738-5844; www.tourismnewzealand.com

SINGAPORE

19

SPAIN

20

PHILIPPINES

18

Philippines The Philippines is the third largest English-speaking country in the world and enjoys a rich history combining Asian, Spanish and American influences. It is also home to palm-fringed beaches, natural wonders like the Chocolate Hills of Bohol and some of the world’s best diving sites.

PHILIPPINE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM 4/F DOT Building, T.M. Kalaw Street Rizal Park, Manila 1000, Philippines. Tel: 632/525-3826; www.philippinetourism.com.sg

SWITZERLAND

21

Singapore Discover a world of unique contrasts in this cosmopolitan and multiethnic city. Explore cultural precincts and religious landmarks, shop up a storm at quirky boutiques and swanky malls, hike up leafy walking trails and feast on food, glorious food!

Spain offers more than just sundrenched shores and a thriving gastronomy scene. The passionate country is also where you can visit world-class museums, see gorgeous baroque architecture and explore world heritage sites and medieval towns.

Switzerland Apart from a gorgeous landscape of snowy peaks and sparkling lakes, Switzerland is also a one-stop destination to experience German, French and Italian cultures. It is also home to about 700 museums and a thriving arts scene.

SINGAPORE TOURISM BOARD Tourism Court, 1 Orchard Spring Lane, Singapore 247729. Tel: 65/6736-6622; www.visitsingapore.com

SPAIN TOURISM BOARD #09-04 Liat Towers, 541 Orchard Road, Singapore 238881. Tel: 65/6737-3008; www.spain.info

TOURISM SWITZERLAND C/O EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND 1 Swiss Club Link, Singapore 288162. Tel: 65/6468-5788; www.MySwitzerland.com

THAILAND

22

Thailand Crowded vibrant cities meet charming rural villages, dramatic limestone cliffs and gorgeous tropical islands. Be charmed by the Thai’s famed hospitality whether you are hunting up bargains in Bangkok’s street markets, chilling out on gorgeous white-sand beaches or visiting ancient temples. TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND Royal Thai Embassy, 370 Orchard Road, Singapore 238870. Tel: 65/6235-7901; www.tourismthailand.org.sg

98

TAIWAN

23

TURKEY

24

Taiwan Big cities, small towns, rustic villages — you can find them all in Taiwan. Savour the country’s famous street snacks while visiting their many temples and museums. Taiwan also has numerous national parks to explore.

Turkey Exciting, exotic Istanbul fascinates travellers. Take your pick of museums, churches, mosques and palaces to explore. Noisy markets and bazaars are filled with treasures and keepsakes you can bring home with you.

TAIWAN VISITORS ASSOCIATION #31-11 UIC Building, 5 Shenton Way, Singapore 068808. Tel: 65/6223-3546; www.taiwan.net.tw

TURKEY EMBASSY TOURISM & INFORMATION OFFICE Lot 0.2-0.3, Ground Floor, Bangunan Angkasa Raya Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tel: 603/2078-4060.


Hotels / Resorts

25

Berjaya Hills, Pahang – Malaysia. Just 45 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur, Berjaya Hills is poised to be the premier resort destination in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, Malaysia. This enchanting haven set 2,700 feet above sea level amidst cool and refreshing highlands combines historical themed attractions with cross-cultural influences from France and Japan. Further attractions such as the Horse Trails, the Rabbit & Deer Park, the Botanical Garden as well as the breathtakingly landscaped Golf & Country Club make Berjaya Hills the ideal location to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. BERJAYA HILLS, PAHANG - MALAYSIA KM 48, Persimpangan Bertingkat Lebuhraya Karak 28750 Bukit Tinggi, Bentong, Pahang, Malaysia www.berjayahills.com

26

Berjaya Langkawi Resort – Malaysia. Located at the end of Burau Bay, the 370-room Berjaya Langkawi Resort sprawls over 70 acres of tropical rainforests in this island of legends. A mere 20-minutes from the airport, the resort offers a combination of water chalets and hillside chalets set idyllically on the island’s 500-million-year-old tropical rainforest. An hour from Kuala Lumpur, hassle-free direct flights are available from Kuala Lumpur International Airport via Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia.

BERJAYA LANGKAWI RESORT - MALAYSIA Karong Berkunci 200, Burau Bay 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia Tel: 604/959-1888; Fax: 604/959-1886 www.berjayahotels-resorts.com Email: reservation@b-langkawi.com.my

27

Berjaya Times Square Hotel, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia. Poised to provide a comprehensive solution to business and leisure needs, Berjaya Times Square Hotel, Kuala Lumpur embodies the style of New York. Located right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s central business district and easily accessible by the monorail, the hotel is an ideal venue for conference and banquet functions and has the distinct advantage of being able to offer luxurious accommodation, convention facilities, shopping, dining and entertainment outlets all under one roof.

BERJAYA TIMES SQUARE HOTEL, KUALA LUMPUR – MALAYSIA 1 Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tel: 603/2117-8000; Fax: 603/2143-3352 www.berjayahotels-resorts.com Email: btshcc@btimessquarekl.com.my

28

Bintan Lagoon Resort is set amongst more than 300 hectares of beachfront gardens, this deluxe Bintan resort offers a world of choice. Ideally situated just 55 minutes by high speed ferry from Singapore, Bintan Lagoon Resort overlooks the South China Sea and archipelago of the Riau islands. Sparkling azure waters, gently swaying palm trees, sugar fine white sands and warm personalized service complete the picture postcard of Bintan Lagoon Resort.

BINTAN LAGOON RESORT Jalan Indera Segara, Bintan Utara Lagoi, Riau, Indonesia. Tel: 62/770-691 388, 65/6223-3223 www.bintanlagoon.com E-mail: reservation@bintanlagoon.com

29

Bukit Gambang Resort City, Kuantan – Malaysia Bukit Gambang Resort City is to be the first and largest water park resort city in the East Coast of Malaysia. Nestled in the secondary forest, the resort provides visitors with a serene environment, lush green surroundings and a great vacation spot for exciting activities. Whether for vacation or business, the Carribean Bay Suites is an ideal accommodation choice to suit different needs. BUKIT GAMBANG RESORT CITY, KUANTAN – MALAYSIA Carribean Bay Suites, Jalan BGRC Utama 26300 Kuantan, Pahang. Tel: 609/548-8000; www.bgrc.com.my

30

Eastin Hotel, Penang – Malaysia. Located in Queensbay Penang, Eastin is the newest and most contemporary international business class hotel on the island, ideal for business & leisure travellers. The hotel comprises 328 well appointed rooms, 5 meeting and function rooms, 2 boardrooms and a grand ballroom which can accommodate up to 800 pax. The hotel is equipped with a comprehensive range of modern amenities and offers free internet access to all its in-house guests. Eastin Hotel Penang where Business Meets Leisure. EASTIN HOTEL, PENANG – MALAYSIA 1 Solok Bayan Indah Queensbay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 604/612-1111; www.eastin.com

31

Hotel Re. Bold and audacious! Hotel Re! has brought themed boutique hotels to a whole new level with the essence of the retro-era emanating every guestroom. Visit us for a Re!vitalising experience now!

HOTEL RE! 175A Chin Swee Road Singapore 169879 Tel: 65/6827-8288; www.hotelre.com.sg

32

Hotel Sentral, Kuala Lumpur– Malaysia aims to ensure comfortable, refreshing and value for money accommodation for travellers. The hotel location is easily accessible and all rooms are meticulously designed with modern amenities to ensure a relaxing experience. The hotel’s four meeting and function rooms are flexible spaces designed to accommodate up to 200 people and to cater for the needs of discerning business travellers.

YTL HOTELS & PROPERTIES SDN BHD 120 Lower Delta Road #06-02/04 Cendex Centre Singapore 169208. Tel: 65/6276-1381; www.ytlhotels.com

Car Rental

37

Hertz Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. Hertz, the world’s largest general use car rental brand, has always been the first choice for both business travellers and holidays makers. Through its impressive network of approximately 8,100 locations in 147 countes worldwide, Hertz offers you quality cars and a wide range of services, wherever your travels take you.

HERTZ ASIA PACIFIC PTE LTD 350 Orchard Road #14-08 Shaw House Singapore 238868 Tel: 1800-370-3388 Hertz Reservation Centre Hong Kong Tel: 2525-2838 Indonesia Tel: 001-803-657-788 Malaysia Tel: 03/2715-8383 Singapore Tel: 1800-839-3388 Thailand Tel: 02-634-1804 www.hertz.com

Travel Agencies

38

33

Air Sino-Euro Associates Travel Pte Ltd. Also known as ASA Holidays offers extensive outbound travel services to destinations worldwide and caters to everyone in the family. Be it a customised holiday for that savvy and largely-independent backpacker or a thoughtfully-planned group tour for a value and memorable holiday, there is something for everyone at ASA Holidays.

ORCHARD HOTEL SINGAPORE 442 Orchard Road Singapore 238879 Tel: 65/6734-7766; www.orchardhotel.com.sg E-mail: enquiry@orchardhotel.com.sg

39

HOTEL SENTRAL, KUALA LUMPUR – MALAYSIA No 30, Jalan Thambypillai,Brickfields 50470, Kuala Lumpur Tel: 603/2272-6000; 2260-2020 Fax: 603/2272-6099; 2260-1919; www.hotelsentral.com.my

Orchard Hotel Singapore. Orchard Hotel is a 653-room hotel situated on Singapore’s renowned Orchard Road, the city-state’s famous shopping and entertainment belt. Guests staying at Orchard Hotel will enjoy its perfect location and choice offerings for shopping, business, entertainment and relaxation.

34

Redang Beach Resort, Terengganu – Malaysia is an ideal place to stay for your holiday. Offers elementary and comfortable accommodation of 88 newly upgraded chalets, with both standard and deluxe room at your choice. All rooms are fully furnished with safe deposit box, air-conditioned and attached bathrooms with hot/cold shower.

REDANG BEACH RESORT, TERENGGANU – MALAYSIA Pulau Redang, Terengganu Darul Iman, Malaysia. Reservation hotline: 603/2031-5079; 2031-4842 www.redang.com.my; Email: travel@redang.com.my

35

Singapore Marriott Hotel. Located in the heart of the business, shopping and entertainment district, Singapore Marriott Hotel is known for its iconic towering green pagoda on famous Orchard Road. This 5-star Singapore property houses 393 guest rooms including pool terrace rooms and splendid suites. Culinary delights abound at our award-winning restaurants including Crossroads Cafe, Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant and Marriott Cafe. SINGAPORE MARRIOTT HOTEL 320 Orchard Road Singapore 238865 Tel: 65/6735-5800; www.marriott.com/sindt

36

YTL Hotels & Properties Sdn Bhd. YTL owns the multi-award winning Pangkor Laut Resort which boast an internationally recognised Spa Village; the award winning Tanjong Jara Resort on Malaysia’s East Coast; stakes in the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express train (which runs from Singapore to Bangkok), and the Chedi Resort, Phuket.

AIR SINO-EURO ASSOCIATES TRAVEL PTE LTD ASA HOLIDAYS MAIN OFFICE 1 Park Road #03-43/47/57, #04-51 People’s Park Complex Singapore 059108. Tel: 65/6303-5303 www.asaholiday.com; E-mail: enquiry@asaholiday.com

Commonwealth Travel Service Corporation Pte Ltd. Provider of a convenient, hassle-free, one-stop travel shop, they take care of all the travel needs at specially negotiated prices and with flexible departure dates, there is no need to wait for a group size to be formed.

COMMONWEALTH TRAVEL SERVICE CORPORATION PTE LTD 46/47 Mosque Street Singapore 059525 Tel: 65/6532-0532

40

Insight Vacations. Europe’s premier escorted tour operator, provides premium escorted motorcoach vacations throughout Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and North America. ‘The Art of Touring in Style’ lies at the very heart of Insight philosophy. Our carefully chosen unique features and impeccable service enable us to deliver exceptional quality, unequalled value provided by Insight Vacations will create holiday memories that last a lifetime. INSIGHT VACATIONS (S) PTE LTD 3 Pickering Street #02-28 Nankin Row Singapore 048660 Tel: 65/6338-7338 www.insightvacations.com; E-mail: info@insightvacations.com.sg

41

Tradewinds Tours & Travel has extensive experience in providing a comprehensive range of outbound and inbound products and services. Tradewinds Tours & Travel is a member of the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group, incorporated in 1975 to package tours to SIA’s worldwide destinations and operate air charter services in Asia. TRADEWINDS TOURS & TRAVEL 3 Tampines Central 1 #02-03, Abacus Plaza Singapore 529540 Tel: 65/6506-7777; www.tradewindstours.com

99


78

The UK’s best-selling food magazine is now in Singapore! tried-andtested recipes

In our inaugural issue: !Superhealthysuppers !         ! spookfeast !   easy    !& cakes

Available at all leading bookstores, petrol stations, convenience stores and newsstands


Special Feature by JNTO

SHOPPING HEAVEN

FOR AN UNPARALLELED SHOPPING EXPERIENCE, HEAD TO THE NEW MITSUKOSHI DEPARTMENT STORE IN GINZA, TOKYO

F

rom 1612 to 1800, the Ginza district in downtown Tokyo was the site of a silver coin mint. How apt it is then that today, Ginza is still ‘making money’ as Tokyo’s most famous upmarket shopping, dining and entertainment district. One of the most expensive real estate in the whole of Japan, Ginza is where you’ll find virtually every leading brand name in fashion and cosmetic. A must-do activity in almost every Tokyo tourist’s itinerary is to visit Ginza on a weekend afternoon, when the central Chuo Dori turns into a large pedestrian zone, and partake in some retail therapy – especially in department store stalwart, Mitsukoshi. After major renovations, Ginza Mitsukoshi reopened on 11 September, marking its 80th anniversary in the Ginza shopping district. Mitsukoshi now boasts a new annex on its

eastern side, expanding its floor space by 50 percent to become the largest department store in the district. To enhance your shopping experience, Mitsukoshi women’s and men’s zones have products displayed according to the different interests of customer types to better suit individual needs. The cosmetics zone is the largest in both floor area and product selection in the Ginza district, much to the delight of women shoppers. And when it comes to household goods, interior goods and food items, the store has them arranged according to item type to facilitate comparative shopping for customers. And when it is time to rest your feet and recharge, visitors can head to the large public resting area on the ninth floor, which includes a lawn plaza and seating for up to 134 people.

Tourists can take heart that the new Ginza Mitsukoshi has an information centre catered for foreign visitors, with helpful English and Chinese-speaking staff on site to provide useful information about the Ginza district as well as duty-free shopping procedures at Ginza Mitsukoshi. With the opening of the new Haneda airport terminal catering to international flights from Asian countries, Ginza is now even more accessible to Asian tourists.

For more information, please visit www.jnto.org.sg or www.jnto.go.jp


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Member since

Valid thru

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Privilege Card

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Your passport to a world of benefits Subscribe to escape! and enjoy discounts on holiday packages and hotel stays, as well as a host of other privileges. With escape! Privilege Card, you can look forward to a range of special offers and exciting promotions. For more discounts and privileges, log on to www.escape.sg

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To join as a participating merchant of escape! Privilege Card, e-mail: tasmin@regentmedia.sg

103


Special Feature by UNIVERSAL TRAVELLER

TRAVEL WELL

UNIVERSAL TRAVELLER’S NEW LINE OF WINTERWEAR SHOWS HOW WELL THE COMPANY UNDERSTANDS THE NEEDS OF HOLIDAYMAKERS VENTURING INTO THE COLD ZONE.

E

Patrick Goi

Marketing Executive Group of Universal Traveller

stablished in 1990 as a specialist provider of leather goods and travel products, Universal Traveller has expanded its range to include winter wear. A high standard has been set for the new line. Apart from using quality materials to ensure complete comfort in cold weather, the collection also offers an exciting fashion edge. According to Patrick Goi, it is the company’s policy to make dreams come true. “We understand that people want to look their best while on holiday.” Universal Traveller remains a market leader as a luggage manufacturer and retailer. In addition to its in-house label, it now also offers premium brands like Airways, Jean Francois, Royal McQueen, Calvin Klein Luggage and Swiss Army Wenger. Universal Traveller has won awards, including the Asia Pacific Super Excellent Brand Award 2006 because of its commitment to quality. Its luggage products are strong, lightweight and designed to facilitate ease of movement and heavy-duty usage, and they all come with TSA (Transportation Security Administration) locks. Malaysia Hotline: 1300-88-9900 Singapore Hotline: 65-6861-2900 www.universaltraveller.net

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Waterproof coats for keeping warm on rainy days; wool caps for keeping head and ears comfortable; fashionable scarves to spice up your outfit in addition to providing warmth; sturdy trolley bags in stylish leopard print; 100 per cent wool jackets that are light and warm; colourful winterwear for children


journal

escape! at NATAS Holidays 2010 N

ATAS Holidays 2010 scored a hat trick, breaking three previous records. First, a record of more than 70,000 visitors (an increase of 14 per cent) attended Singapore’s biggest travel fair held from 27 to 29 August at Singapore Expo. Sales figures at the fair also broke all previous records held by the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) – more than $85 million in travel deals were snapped up in the three-day event, a 50 per cent increase from last year. The fair also broke the record for the most number of booths sold (1,091). The top five most popular destinations this time were Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Europe and China. A first-timer at the fair, escape! received tremendous response from the public, far exceeding our expectations. Visitors to the booth enjoyed exclusive offers and received

attractive gifts for their purchases. Many were delighted with the magazine and took up subscriptions. Gifts include a Limited Edition “Paris Sketchbook” coffee table book, “France” recycled leather note pads by ATOUT France, a lovely post pad sticker from Japan Tourism Board, T-shirts from Incredible India and scarves from Winter Time. With each subscription, readers also had a chance to participate in the Snap & Win Contest, for which they got togged out in winterwear sponsored by Winter Time and posed against landmarks of their favourite destinations, such as France, India, Japan, Spain, Taiwan and Thailand. The best photo wins the latest Panasonic LUMIX LX5 digital camera, while the next best five walk away with consolation prizes of complimentary two-night hotel stays in Kuala Lumpur.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: escape! booth at NATAS; Singapore Expo facade; The crowds queuing up for their entrance tickets; escape! ambassadors on the go; Pick your favourite escape! magazine cover

105


journal

escape! at MATTA Fair

e

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: escape! booth at MATTA Fair; The long queue of fair visitors; Making way through the crowd in the fair; Ms Titik Wahyuni, Head of Section ASEAN and Mr Oni Yulfian, Deputy Director of Publications together with Regent Media Publisher Ms Cecilia Woo; Mr Phua Tai Neng, COO of MATTA, Mr John Tan, Chairman Organizing Committee and DATO Dr. James Dawos Mamit, Deputy Minister of Tourism with their copies of escape!; Mr Chang Fu-Nan, Director of Taiwan Visitors Association; The Travel Times

106

®

scape! was the official magazine at MATTA Fair September 2010, held from 3 to 5 September at Kuala Lumpur’s Putra World Trade Centre. This September Fair marks the 30th edition of MATTA Fair since its inception in 1991. Being the No.1 consumer travel and tourism fair in Malaysia, MATTA Fair is a widely recognised and established event supported by both trade exhibitors and consumers. This MATTA Fair showcased a comprehensive variety of travel and holiday products under one roof. A total of 20,000 sqm in Halls 1, 2, 3 and Linkway of exhibition space was taken up by over 165 exhibitors, ranging from tour operators, travel agents, national tourism organisations, state tourism organisations, airlines, hotels and resorts, to other travel-related products and services in the industry. The event was supported by Tourism Malaysia and endorsed by Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism. MATTA Fair maintained the Domestic Draw to the Buyers’ Contest, whereby visitors only needed to spend RM200 on domestic packages to stand a chance to win the main prize of RM5,000 worth of travel vouchers. Those who spent RM500 on their travel packages stood a chance to win the Buyers’ Contest Grand Prize of RM20,000 worth of travel vouchers.

Over 40,000 copies of The Travel Times, a free MATTA Fair supplement specially designed and produced by the fair’s official travel magazine escape!, were distributed. Distribution points included Starbucks outlets around the Klang Valley, Secret Recipe and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlets throughout Malaysia. Visitors could also pick up a copy at the ticketing booths before entering the exhibition. Cut-out coupons enabled readers to redeem gifts, and enjoy discounts and promotions at various booths. This year, the 64-page publication was filled with interesting features on destinations, including Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. At the escape! booth, readers signed up for magazine subscriptions and participated in Snap! Vote & Win contest, where they posed against landmarks of various countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Singapore. Potential winners will be short-listed and their photographs will be posted on www. escape.sg for online voting. Top three winners with the highest votes and a lucky voter stand to win the latest Sony Handycam and luxurious hotel stays. Watch this space for more details.


The 5th Indonesia Travel and Holiday Fair 2010 at Grand Indonesia Shopping Town,

October, 28th - 31st

VISIT THE BIGGEST AND THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL & HOLIDAY FAIR IN INDONESIA

POST EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OUR LAST 4th ITHF EVENT APRIL 2010, 9th-11th Total Attendances: 35.000 Visitor

BRING TO THE WORLD GRAND INDONESIA Organized by:

Total Sales: Rp. 40 Milyar Total Air Ticket Bookings: 8.000 segmen Total Companies: 230 Total Booths: 153

For Info Exhibition Space Please call: Sakti/Erwindo +62 21 7090 8871 +62 21 9282 1263 email: info@rajamice.com, www.indonesiatravelfair.com

Media Partner:


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109


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Escape online to a whole world of exciting travel ideas. Interesting destinations Useful travel tips and great ideas Travel deals and latest news Free travel information and updates

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Call us at 65/6543-3747 or e-mail

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111


Market in Cantho, Vietnam, 2007

parting shot

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photography JULIANA CHAN

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escape! - 2010 Sept/Oct  

escape! is a handy and valuable travel resource for readers to explore new destinations and rediscover old haunts. It is packed with travel...

escape! - 2010 Sept/Oct  

escape! is a handy and valuable travel resource for readers to explore new destinations and rediscover old haunts. It is packed with travel...

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