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FEB 2017

The by

T rave l // FAI R // EXT RAS

Songkran

Soaked in fun for

In the scorching April heat, nothing beats the spray of cold water to cool down during Songkran

06

p.

Central Japan A look at regions around the Hida Mountains

It’s Autumn in Tasmania

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p.

Bintan New to-dos on the Indonesian island of fun

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p.

Switzerland Rail travel across Confoederatio Helvetica

Travel Fair Promotion Self-drive package bonus

Full or land package bonus

• 1 Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company gift pack (Per car)*

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• Innkeepers Petrol voucher up to A$50 (Per car)*

• A$30 Fish Frenzy seafood voucher (Per room)*

• Welcome gift for stay at Curringa Farm & Strahan Village (Per room)*

• Luggage scale (Per room)*

* Limited period and while stocks last. Valid for bookings received by 26 Feb 2017 and based on first come first serve basis. Conditions apply To enjoy the Travel Fair bonus, please contact any of the following preferred agents (Note: Different agents will offer different Tasmanian packages, from group, free-independent city packages to self-drive) Chan Brothers Travel (TA109) 6212 9684 CTC Travel (TA704) 6536 3345 Dynasty Travel (TA371) 6536 4966 Farmosa Holiday (TA426) 6534 1133 Jetabout Holidays (TA754) 6734 1818 MISA Travel (TA920) 6538 0318 SA Tours (TA 611) 6538 1933 Scenic Travel (TA 469) 6226 3611 UOB Travel (TA185) 6252 6822 Mount Field National Park

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The

Editor’s Note A Publication of

Publisher // BEN POON Associate Editor // Raewyn Koh Senior Writer // josmin ong Editorial Intern // akanksha nair Creative Director // ERIC WONG Art Director // CALLY HAN Senior Marketing Manager // TASMIN CHUA Marketing Executives //

Travel is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. The challenge of getting out of our comfort zone, exploring new places, meeting new people and immersing ourselves into new cultures all add to the journey we call life. These experiences shape us and mold us into worldly beings that tear down walls (metaphorically and literally) and build bridges with the rest of the world. It seems like travel could be the beginning of world peace. In this issue of Travel Times, we hope to inspire our readers to get out there to explore. Check out the Hida Mountain region in Central Japan (p4), a full guide to Tasmania (p11), new developments in Bintan (p8) and a spectacular train journey around Switzerland (p20). Now get out there and discover. Raewyn Koh Associate Editor

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Much ado about

TASMANIA WORDS MELISSA CHUA l PHOTOGRAPHS TOURISM TASMANIA

24/1/17 5:32 PM

Glamping may not be a new word or vacation concept, but it only got trendy in 2015. Essentially, it is a fusion of glamour and camping, where visitors can explore the beauty of nature without compromising on luxury travel accommodation and amenities. Whether in an air-conditioned tent, well-heated yurt, pod, igloo, hut, villa, cabin or even treehouse, glamping is an eco-friendly way of travel and offers unparalleled closeness to Mother Nature. For all the experiential travellers, it’s time to pack up those bags and head outdoors

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AUSTRAL IA

Deep in its lush primeval forests and along its rugged southern coasts, evidence of Tasmania’s savage birth abound. Yet life on this island seems to teem, flourishing with rich wildlife and abundant waters, a testament that beauty can come from the most unlikely of origins

◆ SWITZERLAND ON TRACK ◆ BEST GLAMPING

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Beauty from the most unlikely of origins

A 2-NIGHTS STAY* AT THE CENTARA WATERGATE PAVILLION HOTEL BANGKOK

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TASMANIA

FEBRUARY 2017 FEBRUARY 2017

FOR ENQUIRIES:

Perfect weekend in Antwerp, Belgium

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Switzerland on track

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CYCLADES

Plan your trip Marvel at wonGet on Climb aboard a Take a short Do whatever 1 2 3 traditional ders of the your bike in boat 4 hop to Naxos 5 you like during ancient world in Mykonos as you for a trip around to watch traditional the day, but make

Discovering the rail beauty of train travel

Athens before hitting the capital’s cutting-edge bar scene (p36).

leave the town behind to explore the quiet paths that reveal rural life (p38).

Paros and choose crafts in action and your own personal feast on local profavourite of the duce among the many beaches (p40). olive groves (p42).

sure you’re finished in time to enjoy the famous sunsets on Santorini (p44).

MINI GUIDE

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CYCLADES

Lonely Planet’s CASTELO DEPocket SILVES new This russet-coloured, Algarve Lego-like castle has great views over Silves (US$13.99) town from its chunky sandstone covers both the parapets. It dates mostly from the tourist 12th-century main Moorish era, with

spots and significant modern restoration. Just below it is corners. the medieval under-the-radar The Sé (cathedral) – one of the Algarve’s Algarve also has a chapter in most impressive examples, with the Portugal guide (US$24.99), a substantially unaltered Gothic which you can download at interior (cm-silves.pt; castle open

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southern Portugal has plenty more to offer in historic forts and churches, irresistible villages, dramatic rural landscapes and tasty local food.

Outdoors activities

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WORDS AMANDA CANNING

SURFING

Along the western coast, you’ll find unspoiled beaches, backed by beautiful wild vegetation. The Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina protects the area, and is home to otters, wild cats and some 200 bird species (natural.pt). The coast also has some of Europe’s finest surf. Amado Surf Camp is one of several outfits around the village of Carrapateira offering surf and accommodation packages (amadosurfcamp. com; from US$352 for two per week in a bungalow).

Eating

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Portugal’s cork oaks produce half of the world’s cork supply

BEACH TRAILS

The Percurso dos Sete Vales Suspensos (Trail of the Seven Hanging Valleys) runs along the clifftops east of Carvoeiro for 3½ miles, beginning at Praia de Vale Centianes beach, continuing past the sands at Benagil and ending at the limestone rock stacks of Praia da Marinha. The final beach is no secret, but its towering cliffs are emblematic of the Algarvian coast and make a natural backdrop for beach lounging, away from the resorts; the sand and water are perfect (cm-lagoa.pt).

The charming town of Loulé is famed for its market, housed in a surprising neo-Moorish building. It’s open every day except Sunday, but on Saturdays stalls spill out onto the streets. Tastings are always on offer somewhere; look out for flame-red piri-piri chillies and homemade hot sauce, along with local ceramics (Praça da República; 7am–3pm Mon–Sat).

VENEZA

This rural restaurant six miles north of Albufeira is well worth a trip. It’s famed for serving what many consider to be the Algarve’s finest cataplana (seafood stew) – here, a delicious pork and clam combination. The bean and pork soup is a meal in itself, and the wine cellar, partly on display, is brilliant (restauranteveneza.com; Estrada de Paderne 560A, Mem Moniz; lunch Thu–Mon, dinner Wed–Mon; mains from US$10).

EASY TRIPS

EASY TRIPS

Easy Trips

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@hellopoe

EASY TRIPS

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REVIEW OF THE MONTH Come early to get the best pick at Loulé’s Mercado Municipal

Park Regis Singapore

THIS MONTH... the great outdoors beckons in New Zealand’s South Island, stomachs will be filled by the world’s cuisines in Dubai, and a visual feast of floating lanterns awaits in Pingxi

A good pastel de nata (custard tart) is a thing of beauty and a taste of Portugal that will long live in the memory. Pastelarias can be found all over the Algarve, but this one is a local institution in the cobblestoned historic town centre of Tavira. It serves up the best pastries, plus good soups and snacks for those on a budget (Rua Dr Marcelino Franco 17; 8am–midnight; snacks from US$1.50).

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WHY CLARKE QUAY? SOUTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND

MAKE IT HAPPEN

The great outdoors

Fly to Christchurch on South Island on Qantas Airways from Singapore with one stop in Brisbane, Australia first. Flights from Kuala Lumpur include an additional stop in Singapore (from US$713; qantas.com). For a similar six-day itinerary, check newzealand. com for their detailed South Island road trips. Road trip like the locals and hire a campervan for a real outdoor living experience. Most campervan rental companies include accessories like gas cookers, bedding, tents and more. Escape Campervan Rentals has one of the most comprehensive packages with pick-ups and drop-offs in both Auckland and Christchurch (from US$95 per day before tax; escaperentals.co.nz).

Baby, it’s cold outside, but not in the southern hemisphere where New Zealand is located. It’s summer and the warm sunlight is enough to beckon thousands of Kiwis to step outside to explore the natural playground that is their backyard. This country of endless coastline, a myriad of inland lakes, rivers and mountain streams means water-based activities are aplenty this time of year as well. The best way to explore the majesty of New Zealand is with a road trip across the South Island. A quick six-day or longer itinerary allows for ample time to hike through Arthur’s Pass National Park in Christchurch, take a scenic heli-flight over the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, and bike around Mt Cook Village and Lake Tekapo. Pencil in adrenaline-filled activities as well by making a necessary stop in Queenstown – bungee jumping, skydiving, ziplining and white-water rafting are just some of the activities available. For animal lovers, stop by Oamaru as well to visit the Blue Penguin colony where 200 of these birds make their daily pilgrimage from the water to dry land for the night.

FEBRUARY 2017 24/1/17 10:42 AM

Clockwise from top left The Park Room is a quiet sanctuary that overlooks the busy CBD; take a leisurely dip or invigorating swim in the outdoor pool with cascading waterfall; all-day dining on local and international delights is availble at Twenty3 Drink & Dine

C L A R K E Q UAY, S I N G A P O R E

PASTELARIA TAVIRENSE

FEBRUARY 2017

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@amandacanning l PHOTOGRAPHS ADRIENNE PITTS

25/1/17 5:57 PM

CASTRO MARIM

Slumbering in the shadows of its hilltop castle, this picturesque village sees few foreign visitors, but deserves to have more. The Castelo’s medieval walls, bulked up in the 17th century, look out over the nearby border with Spain and marshes that are home to flamingos. A medieval fair is held here around the last weekend in August (cmcastromarim.pt; castle open 9am–5pm Oct–Mar, to 7pm Apr–Sep; US$1.20).

MERCADO MUNICIPAL DE LOULÉ

CORK ROUTE

The quiet town of São Brás de Alportel lies in a valley wooded with olives, figs and almonds, but its most significant trees are the cork oaks whose bark is harvested every nine years or so – part of an industry that has helped preserve a unique landscape. Guided walks of varying lengths include visits to plantations and a traditional cork factory (algarverotas.com; 1½-hour tour US$18.50).

LOURENÇO DE MATOS

FEBRUARY 2017

Get your sea legs ready for an island-hopping trip, starting with ancient and modern side by side in the Greek capital, Athens, before flitting about on ferries to discover hidden coves, experience traditional rural life and fill up on local food, then finally kicking back to watch the world-famous sunsets.

Azulejo tiles in the 18th-century church of São Lourenço de Matos

IGREJA DE SÃO listening to fado, the nation’s

most famous style of music: A Baroque Fado em Mimmasterpiece, (US$10) is an this church’s inside is wall-to-wall album by the legendary blue-and-white azulejos Mariza. Thetiles), Inquisitors’ (painted with Manual beautiful (US$14; Press) bylife of the panels Grove depicting the António Lobo Antunes Roman-era martyr Stis aLawrence and his grisly harrowing storydeath-byabout life barbecue. The church is off the under the authoritarian N125 highway, mile east of Portuguese ruleraSalazar. Almancil town centre (Rua da Igreja; 10am–1.30pm & 2.30pm–5.30pm Mon–Fri,Sat morning, Sun afternoon; US$2).

C Y C L A D E S

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Historic architecture

FURTHER READING

lonelyplanet.com daily; US$2.85). (US$4.95). cover-v8i2-FINAL.indd 1 Get into the local rhythm by

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Great Escape

6 MINI GUIDES PEAK DISTRICT ◆ CHAMPAGNE ◆ BRITTANY ◆ ALGARVE ◆ IBIZA ◆ VILNIUS COMPILED BY LORNA PARKES, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM KATE ARMSTRONG AND ANDY SYMINGTON. PHOTOGRAPHS: SABINE LUBENOW/GETTY IMAGES, MEDIO TUERTO/GETTY, ELENA PUEYO/GETTY IMAGES, ROETTING/ POLLEX/LOOK-FOTO/GETTY, MATT MUNRO

The wild beach at Praia da Marinha

MINI GUIDE

MAP ILLUSTRATION: ALEX VERHILLLE. PHOTOGRAPHS: ADRIENNE PITTS, © UNITED ARCHIVES GMBH/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

9 772010 082017 MCI (P) 101/12/2016, PPS 1747/12/2012(022909)

The know-how BIRDWATCHING

TRANSPORT

02

SGD 7.50 RM 20 NT 270 THB 195

WORDS: RAEWYN KOH. PHOTOGRAPH: NEW ZEALAND TOURISM

The information contained herein is accurate at time of printing. Changes may have occurred since this travel newspaper went to print. Regent Media Pte Ltd will not be held liable for any damages, loss, injury or inconvenience, arising in connection with the contents of the travel newspaper.

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Algarve essentials

The Algarve is rich in wetlands Faro is the gateway airport for the and is an important stopover for Algarve and it’s possible to fly here migratory birds. Birds & Nature from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur can organise birdwatching trips in on KLM with one stop in the region (birds.pt). Amsterdam (from US$835). From the airport, shuttle services Sagres Raptors pass through this (US$15 to Lagos; faroshuttlebus. southwestern area on their way Natural landscaping around the com; book in advance) can zip you swimming pool at Casa Vicentina to Africa in the autumn. It’s also to towns across the Algarve or good for spotting seabirds. take you into central Faro to Reserva Natural do Sapal de Casa Vicentina is a chic and connect with buses and trains. The Castro Marim Important winter train is a handy option for tripping eco-conscious family-friendly visitors to this site in the east of along the south coast, but hiring a retreat on the west coast. The the Algarve include greater car gives you maximum flexibility, 17-hectare property has a pool flamingos, spoonbills and particularly for inland travel. Major abutting a lily-pad-filled lake, Caspian terns; in spring it’s busy and a handful of suites, some car-hire firms operate out of Faro with white storks (pictured). with kitchens (casavicentina.pt; airport (from around US$37 per Lagoa dos Salgados Between Monte Novo, Odeceixe; from day; europcar.com). Albufeira and Armação de Pêra, US$93). this lagoon is a popular spot for WHERE TO STAY Set among orange groves watching ducks and waders; rare Hidden in a quiet hill village near Tavira, Quinta da Lua is a species are often seen here. near Loulé, Casa Candelária is delight for its peace and Parque Natural da Ria Formosa an enchanting b&b in a restored serenity. It has bright and very This park of tidal estuaries and dune traditional house. Rooms come stylish rooms set around a large islands hosts more than 20,000 with private patios and breakfast saltwater swimming pool can be taken on the roof terrace (quintadalua.com.pt; birds. Special boat trips leave (casa-candelaria.com; Monte Bernardinheiro 1622-X, from Olhão and you’ll other towns Look beyond itsSanto busier beaches and find Seco; from US$62). Estevão; from US$142). in the area.

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Sights

A PUBLICATION OF

20 Bedok South Road Singapore 469277

Shopping

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Activities

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WHY PARK REGIS?

Park Regis is the upscale brand of the Australian StayWell Hospitality Group (SWGH), one of the largest independently owned hotel management groups in Asia Pacific with a network of 30 properties in the region. Park Regis Singapore is the first SWGH property to open in Asia.

WHAT’S MY ROOM LIKE?

Park Regis Singapore offers 202 smartly designed rooms to maximise space. A thoughtful addition in all rooms is the alcove next to the window that acts as a reading cove or alternative day bed for guests. All rooms boast either a view of the park, the hotel’s stunning 25m 19

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WHAT AM I EATING?

All-day intercontinental dining is available at Twenty3 Drink & Dine that serves local and international fare at its breakfast buffet and a la carte meals the rest of the time. The breakfast buffet is worth checking out, soley for its hot noodle station, where chefs prepare a local noodle du jour a la minute. There is also Royal Pavilion, a 142-seater modern Cantonese restaurant with six private dining rooms.

GOOD TO KNOW

The sleepy towns of Mykonos come to life as the sun sets and the heat of the day subsides

Park Regis Singapore caters well to the solo traveller. There is a self-service token operated laundromat available 24 hours a day, and bicycles for rent to explore the city with (rental includes helmet, lock, basket, and drinking water, with baby seat available on request). The hotel is also wheelchair friendly and has rooms catered for travellers in wheelchairs and their companions as well.

WHAT’S THE DAMAGE?

Rooms start from US$133 per night for a Park Room. Additions of US$11, US$28 or US$56 can give guests an upgrade to a Merchant Room, Quay Room (with pool access) or Regis Room (family room) respectively. Stay the weekend and book the #sginsiders Weekend Staycation package that includes complimentary room upgrade, a specially concocted Regis Insiders Mocktail, buffet breakfast and complimentary two-hour bike rental for two (from US$140++; parkregissingapore.com).

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FEBRUARY 2017

BEYOND THE FRONT DOOR

Discover Singapore from a local’s point of view with Park Regis Singapore’s #sginsiders, a walking guide jointly put together by three local personalities. There are three possible walking trails catered to those looking for Fun & Adventure, Arts/Lifestyle or Nightlife. The attractions recommended by the trio include personal favourite cafes, lesser known watering holes, museums and shopping points.

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Clarke Quay is at the mouth of the Singapore River, where the first major businesses were set up during Singapore’s early years. While no longer a harbour or port for passing boats, Clarke Quay has maintained its position as the heart of the Central Business District. The Clarke Quay stretch is particularly known for its entertainment and dining hubs and its close proximity to cultural enclaves and other popular tourist attractions in Singapore.

outdoor pool with cascading waterfall or the hustle and bustle of Clarke Quay and Boat Quay nearby. The rooms are also complemented with innovative technology, such as the inclusion of Handy, a smartphone device that gives guests free unlimited 3G wireless internet and free unlimited local and international calls to select countries.

WORDS: RAEWYN KOH. PHOTOGRAPHS: PARK REGIS SINGAPORE

Beaches

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Ready Jetset Go!

Singapore: Paragon B1-14 | IMM #02-12 | Isetan Nex, Isetan Scotts, Isetan Westgate | Tangs VivoCity Kuala Lumpur: Isetan The Gardens Ho Chi Minh: Takashimaya Department Store Singapore: Marina Square #03-126 | Paragon #04-15 | Changi Airport T3, Level 3 (Public Area) Kuala Lumpur: Pavilion (Elite) Lot 6.100.01, Level 6

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Central Japan // TRAVEL //

In the central region of Japan’s main island of Honshu stand three spectacular volcanic ridges: the Hida Mountains to the north, Kiso Mountains in the middle and Akaishi Mountains to the south. A ramble through the prefectures of Gifu, Nagano and Toyama reveals how the histories and cultures of these communities have been shaped by the powerful Hida Mountains.

Nagano Prefecture The Crow Castle: Japan’s Oldest Premier Castle

The first castles in Japan were built during the Warring States Period (1467-1603) but a bulk of them was destroyed during the Meiji Restoration and World War II, leaving just a dozen still standing today. Matsumoto Castle is the oldest among these remaining castles. The castle’s donjon (main keep) is characterised by an intricate defensive system consisting of a large moat, hidden floors and various openings for launching attacks on invaders. The wooden interiors and external stonework kept in their original states add to the authenticity of this historic complex. 2

Nawate Dori: The Blessed Frog Street

En route to Matsumoto Castle, take a stroll through Nawate Dori, a stone-paved pedestrian street next to Metoba River. After the Yohashira Shrine was built in 1879, the street became an important path leading to the place of worship and businesses situated along the stretch prospered over time. Today, an eclectic mix of antique shops, handicraft stalls and snack shops can be found along ‘Frog Street’. Frog in Japanese is kaeru, which also means to buy and go home safely. The frog statue at the end of the street is believed to bless customers on their way home.

Kamikochi: Where Gods Descend

An hour away from Matsumoto City lies Kamikochi, a charming basin along the Azusa River that is part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. The 15km-long plateau nestled in the Hida Mountains is a hiker’s paradise with its breathtaking scenery and untamed wilderness. Kamikochi has two different translations when written in Japanese Kanji: ‘Ascent to Heaven’ or ‘Where Gods Descend’. Both names symbolise the spirituality and out-of-this-world beauty that is characteristic of the place.

Hida Mountains: Putting Japan on the Mountaineering Map

Historically, the Hida Mountains were considered sacred and only monks and priests were allowed to scale them. This changed in 1877 when the Meiji government invited an English goldsmith, William Gowland, to climb Yarigatake. Gowland then wrote about his experience in the Japanese Alps in an article and introduced the English community to the beauty of the mountain ranges. Shortly after, Reverend Walter Weston also wrote about his experience of Yarigatake and Kamikochi in his book, which sparked an interest in recreational mountaineering in the region.

6

The Multiple Facets of Kamikochi’s Beauty

In 1915, an eruption of Yakedake created a natural dam in the Azusa River to form one of Kamikochi’s most scenic spots, Taisho Pond. Enjoy the sights of Kamikochi by taking an easy hike along the river from Taisho Pond to Myojin Bridge to pass by scenic spots like the Kappa Bridge and Takezawa Marsh. In the autumn, a hike up to Karasawa Valley will reveal vibrant fall foliage.

Wasabi: Indispensable to Japanese Cuisine

The green paste that is an accompanying condiment 1 Appreciate the aesthetics of the tea gardens as you partake in a traditional tea ceremony 2 Nicknamed the ‘Crow Castle’ for its black exterior and wing-like roofs, the 420-year-old structure is a National Treasure and the pride of Matsumoto City 3 Be sure to walk along Kappa Bashi, a suspension bridge near the centre of Kamikochi, where the yearly opening and closing ceremonies are held 4 Dig into the restaurant’s very own rendition of wasabi curry rice. The taste is reminiscent ofThai green curry with an occasional hint of wasabi

3


1

to traditional Japanese dishes like sushi is a familiar one to many. In the countryside of Azumino is where one will be able to find the largest wasabi farm in the world – Daio Wasabi Farm. The farm is a great educational destination to learn more about the cultivation of wasabi. At the end of a tour around its grounds, pick up your own fresh wasabi roots to bring home, or try a variety of wasabi-flavoured dishes from wasabi curry rice, wasabi soba to wasabi ice cream and even wasabi beer.

A ramble through the prefectures of Gifu, Nagano and Toyama reveals how the histories and cultures of these communities have been shaped by the powerful Hida Mountains

Toyama Prefecture Tonami Tulip Park: Where it’s Spring All Year Round

Tulips bloom an average of three to seven days in spring but at Tonami Tulip Park in Tonami City, the flowers bloom all year round with help of advanced cultivation techniques, such as freezing and warming the bulbs at precise temperatures. These techniques are what gave Tonami its reputation as Japan’s premier tulip producer. Catch the impressive Tonami Tulip Fair held at the park yearly from late April to early May which showcases an impressive three million tulips in 700 varieties.

Fujiko F. Fujio Hometown Art Gallery: The Man Behind Doraemon

Head to the neighbouring city of Takaoka if you’re a fan of the wildly popular robotic cat, Doraemon. The Hometown Art Gallery is dedicated to the life and work of one of the series’ co-creators, Fujiko F. Fujio. Housed in the Takaoka Art Museum, the exhibit provides an insight into the childhood and life of the artist and displays many of his original artworks. It is said that Fujio drew inspiration from his childhood days in Takaoka for his work. While roaming around Takaoka, hop on the one and only Doraemon tram in the world. The tram started its service in September 2012, marking a 100-year countdown to Doraemon’s birthday in the series, 3 September 2112.

Tea Gardens of Kokyuji Temple

Take a detour to Himi City and visit the tea gardens of Kokyuji Temple, which have existed for several centuries. The tea gardens use a popular technique in Japanese garden landscaping, known as “borrowed landscapes”, where the forests in the background of the temple blend in to form a harmonious picture with the miniature garden. The gardens serve as a meditative space for one to acquire the inner harmony needed to appreciate chanoyu, or the art of tea.

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Mount Tate: Giang Among Giants

In the heart of Toyama Prefecture is one of Japan’s most revered peaks, the enigmatic 3,015m-tall Tateyama. It is one of the few mountains in the Japanese Alps with glaciers and is notorious for its steep cliffs and snowy passes. Despite the danger, climbers continue to be drawn to its peak for the natural beauty that changes throughout the seasons.

Legend of the Bear: Mystical Origins of the Holy Peak

Ancient legends tell the story of a boy who was hunting a hawk in the mountains when he came across a bear and wounded it with his bow and arrow. He trailed the bloodied traces of the bear to a cave in the Hida Mountains and saw Amida Buddha with an arrow in his chest where he had shot the bear before. Tateyama has since been worshipped as a sacred mountain inhabited by gods.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route: One of its Kind in the World

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a pass that traverses across the Japanese Alps from Toyama City in Toyama Prefecture to Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture. Every year, a million visitors journey across the route that employs six different types of transportation, including cable car, tunnel trolley bus and ropeway. The 1.7km-long Tateyama Ropeway is the longest one-span ropeway in Japan and worth a mention, as it provides a captivating bird’s eye view of the surrounding alpine scenery. The highest point

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Mount Tate: Giang Among Giants

In the heart of Toyama Prefecture is one of Japan’s most revered peaks, the enigmatic 3,015m-tall Tateyama. of the route, Murodo Peak, stands Japan’s highest located hotel, Hotel Tateyama. From Murodo, choose from a range of hiking trails to nearby Jigokudani (Hell Valley), where volcanic activity can be observed. The snow corridor of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is the most popular attraction in spring. It is possible to walk through two solid, towering walls of snow of more than 20m high. The snow corridor is a result of snowblowing trucks and backhoes clearing a path through the heavy snowfall of winter, which is characteristic of the region.

Kurobe Dam: Monumental Project of the Century

Another highlight on the route is the Kurobe Dam, the nation’s tallest at 186m. The construction of the dam took seven years and 10 million people to complete and now serves to provide electricity to the Kansai region. Annually, between late June and mid-October, is a spectacular display of water being released through the gates of the dam.

Kurobe Gorge Railway: Up Close and Personal

with Kurobe Gorge After being inspired by an engineering feat of mankind, hop onboard the Kurobe Gorge Railway and marvel at the works of nature too. The railway is now primarily used for sightseeing and runs between Unazuki and Keyakidaira Stations, with stops in between that takes travellers to hot springs and other places of interest. Stop a Kanetsuri Station to find a riverside onsen and Mannen Yuki, a semi-permanent snow back. At Keyakidaira Station, find Okukane Bridge, the red pedestrian bridge that will give a picture perfect shot with the Kurobe River.

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Gifu Prefecture Takayama Festival: Age-Old Celebration of Woodwork Artistry

Takayama is home to one of the most popular festivals in Japan, the Takayama Festival. The twopart festival comprises the Sanno Festival in spring and the Hachiman Festival in autumn. Both festivals feature a three-hour long parade of traditional yatai floats adorned with intricate wood carvings and mechanical Karakuri dolls that can move and dance and have been passed down for many generations. The Takaya Festival was originally simple village ceremonies meant to give thanks to the deities for a bountiful harvest. The yatai floats became more elaborate and grandiose as the city developed as a centre for timbre production.

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Takayama Old Town: Architecture of the Edo Period

Takayama City has much to offer visitors for the rest of the year. Its 300-year-old Old Town is one of the few places in Japan where you can see architecture dating back to the Edo Period and has been earmarked as a traditional building preservation area by the authorities. In particular, Sannomachi Street in the southern part of the town makes for an atmospheric strolls with its machiya cafes, restaurants and sake breweries – some of which have been in business for centuries. Also worth visiting is the past administrative office for the Hida area, the Takayama Jinya, the only remaining government office in Japan from the Edo period.

Culinary Favourites in Takayama City

Historical significance aside, the Old Town has a range of local delicacies to tantalise taste buds. Taste hoba miso that uses a regional specialty of miso, spring onions and shitake mushrooms roasted on hoba leaves over a charcoal brazier and is best eaten with Hida beef. For more Hida beef, join the queue at Hida Kotte Ushi for its legendary A5-grade Hida beef sushi. Takayama City also produces some of the best sake in the country due to its cold winter climate and access to pure mountain water. Indulge in a sakesampling session at one of the traditional breweries in the Old Town for a nominal fee.

Miyagawa Morning Market: A Snapshot of Local Life

Early risers must make a trip to the bustling Miyagawa Morning Market to soak in the lively sights. It has existed for centuries next to the picturesque Miyagawa River and is a space for townsfolk to peddle everyday necessities. Take a walk around and sample some of Takayama’s favourite snacks from the friendly local sellers while you’re here.

Omoide Taiken Kan: Crafting Memories to bring home

If you’re looking for a more personalised memento to bring hoe, check out Hida-Takayama Omoide Taiken

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Kan (Memories Experience Facility) where visitors can handcraft their own souvenirs and experience Japanese culture through hands-on activities. Learn how to make a Sarubobo Doll, a lucky charm unique to the Hida region that mothers traditionally made for their daughters to bless them with a happy marriage and smooth delivery when giving birth. Apart from making the doll, visitors can also learn how to play the Shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese musical instrument, shoot arrows in Kyudo (traditional archery) and prepare Hida culinary specialities.

Shirakawago: The Forgotten Villages

A stone’s throw away from Takayama are the villages of Shirakawago and Gokayama, which have been nicknamed ‘Little Kyoto’. The isolated communities in the deep valleys along the Shogawa River that date back to the 11th century are unlike that of the rest of Japan. If travelling to Takayama, a day trip to the idyllic village of Ogimachi in Shirakawago is worth the

5 The 80-minute long railway ride offers a surrealistic respite from the cacophony of the city 6 & 7 Mount Tate is one of Japan’s three holy peaks, along with Mount Fuji and Mount Haku 8 Catch your breath by the idyllic Miyagawa River after a hectic shopping spree 9 Revel in the peace of Ogimachi village after the sun goes down and the daytrippers have gone

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detour. Viewed from the observatory deck overlooking the village, the cluster of 114 timber farmhouses in Ogimachi is instantly recognisable by their steep thatched roofs. For a first-hand experience of life in the village, opt for an overnight stay at one of the many minshukus in Ogimachi.

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Best Western Arrives in Tropical Krabi The new Hula Hula Resort offers secluded style in the heart of Thailand’s beach paradise

Hula Hula Ao-Nang Resort 222 Moo 3, Klonghang Road, Ao nang, Muang, Krabi, 81180, Thailand P: +66 (0) 75 661 388 bestwesternasia.com

Each Best WesternÂŽ branded hotel is independently owned and operated.

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Big wonders in little Tasmania

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// TRAVEL //

It’s never one-size-fits-all with Tasmania – with so many attractions that appeal to a variety of travellers, there’s always something to please everyone, no matter your agenda. Curringa Farm

For animal lovers Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary A haven for native critters, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary rescues, rehabilitates, and releases animals that have been orphaned or injured. Randall the echidna is one of the permanent residents here; he lost his leg in a dog attack, and although healed, is unable to fend for himself in the wild. In addition to housing a whole mob of kangaroos, the occasional wombat, a family of Tasmanian devils, a trio of Eastern quolls, and a gorgeous peacock that roams the grounds freely, the sanctuary also actively educates and invests in wildlife conservation. Tel: +61 3 6268 1184 593 Briggs Rd, Brighton TAS 7030 bonorong.com.au

At around the size of Sentosa Island, adults and children alike will adore the immersive experience at Curringa Farm. Run by a husband-and-wife team that is supremely hospitable and very businesssavvy, accommodations on the farm are spacious and adequately-spaced so that every guests has their own privacy. Witness sheep shearing, savour a filling barbecue lunch, and witness a dog herding demonstration before going on a quick tour of the grounds (they grow poppy and crop seed, unique to other farms on the island). We highly recommend that you spend a night here, where you can take your time to explore farm at dusk, before watching the freegrazing sheep come right up to your balcony in the morning. Tel: +61 3 6286 3333 5831 Lyell Hwy, Hamilton TAS 7140 curringafarm.com.au

For foodies Sorell Fruit Farm It’s always more fun to pick your own food! Don’t let its name fool you – Sorell Fruit Farm also offers vegetables for picking, including big fat broad beans. In addition to strawberries and blackcurrants, the farm also grows some exotic varieties such as jostaberries, loganberries, silvanberries, tayberries, and nashi pears. They also serve some mean scones with clotted cream and jam for afternoon tea, which you can drizzle with world famous Leatherwood Honey. Tel: +61 6265 3100 174 Pawleena Road, Sorell TAS 7172 sorellfruitfarm.com

Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company Speaking of picking your own food, the Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company is truly a unique handson experience that will see you harvesting, cooking, and eating your own meal, farm to table – a rare experience for us urban-dwellers. Owner Tim Barbour started the sauce kitchen as a personal project, but the response has been so good that he’s turned it into a full tour experience, including a roam of his well-stocked potager garden that features a chicken coop and miniature apple orchard. They also sell their delicious homemade sauces for you to take home, with multiple recipes available to teach you how to bring their best flavours forward. Tel: +61 3 6391 8437 174 Leighlands Rd, Evandale TAS 7212 gourmetsauce.com.au


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Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary Tel: +61 3 6268 1184 593 Briggs Rd, Brighton TAS 7030 bonorong.com.au

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Curringa Farm Tel: +61 3 6286 3333 5831 Lyell Hwy, Hamilton TAS 7140 curringafarm.com.au

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Sorell Fruit Farm Tel: +61 6265 3100 174 Pawleena Road, Sorell TAS 7172 sorellfruitfarm.com

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Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company Tel: +61 3 6391 8437 174 Leighlands Rd, Evandale TAS 7212 gourmetsauce.com.au

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Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

Tasmanian Seafood Seduction Dock Head Building, Franklin Wharf, Hobart TAS 7000 seafoodseduction.com.au

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Paradise

Salamanca Market (Saturday) Salamanca Pl, Hobart TAS 7001 salamanca.com.au Bridestowe Lavender Estate Tel: +61 3 6352 8182 296 Gilespies Road, Nabowla TAS 7260 bridestowelavender.com.au

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Tasmania’s topography reads like a fantasy novel - lush primeval forests fringed by rugged coastlines, its sea punctuated by staggering knifeedge columns

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Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) Tel: +61 3 6277 9900 655 Main Rd, Berriedale TAS 7011 mona.net.au

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Curringa Farm

Lake Pedder

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ers in Tasmania

FLINDERS ISLAND

Mt William NP

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

7 Tasmania in a glance

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Tasmania’s topography reads like a fantasy novel lush primeval forests fringed by rugged coastlines, its sea punctuated by staggering knife-edge columns. And much of its stunning natural wonders are steadfastly protected, including its multiple endemic species of flora and fauna - almost 45% of its land have been designated reserves, national parks, and World Heritage Sites.

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But not just a scene-stealing beauty (no pun intended), Tasmania’s enterprising farmers and ardent conservationists are more than willing to share in their land’s bounty. From award-winning microdistilleries and the freshest, cleanest seafood in the region, to it endearing local critters and spellbinding auroras, Tasmania is simply a mustadd to your travel bucket list.

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Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company

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Douglas - Apsley NP

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Freycinet National Park

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Sorell Fruit Farm

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Maria Island NP Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)

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TASMANIA’S HIGHLIGHTS

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Tasmanian Seafood Seduction Salamanca Market

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Scan the QR code for recommended itineraries

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Freycinet National Park

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One of Tasmania’s greatest landmarks, this massive reserve is a popular stop for nature and hiking enthusiasts!

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Mt Wellington

Cradle MountainNational Park

Iconic sights include Wineglass Bay Lookout, the Cape Tourville Lighthouse, and Coles Bay Jetty.

Hobart

This bustling little capital is home to a superb waterfront, gorgeous Victorianera architecture, and a burgeoning gastronomic scene.

Launceston Launceston really comes alive during the summer months with its food and wine festivals, where a revolution is being led by ethical farming advocates.


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Tasmanian Seafood Seduction It’s a literal all-you-can-eat smorgasbord on board Pennicott Wildnerness Journeys’ Tasmanian Seafood Seduction cruise. Slurp up as many freshly-shucked oysters as you can stomach; watch your guide dive for live abalone, sea urchin and rock lobster before devouring them sashimi-style or fried in garlic butter and cilli; and sip on some of the best local wines, boutique beers and ciders as you please. Bubbly and oysters? Now that’s a romantic encounter waiting to happen. Dock Head Building, Franklin Wharf, Hobart TAS 7000 seafoodseduction.com.au

1 Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary rescues, rehabilitates and releases animals back into the wild; they’re also passionate about education and conservation!

2 The Saturday morning Salamanca Market in Hobart is a vibrant collection of food, fashion and fun

a cure for indigestion or heartburn. There are about 39 species of lavender but Bridestowe Lavender Estate only grows Lavandula angustifolia – the single species suitable for both perfume and culinary use. In addition to premium quality lavender oil, be sure to pick up some lavender-infused teas (we loved the earl grey), bath and beauty products, and their signature Bobbie™ bear. Grab some tea as well – the lavender scones and various confectionaries are sure to please. Tel: +61 3 6352 8182 296 Gilespies Road, Nabowla TAS 7260 bridestowelavender.com.au

For shopaholics Salamanca Market (Saturday) Held on Saturdays between 8.30am and 3.00pm, the Salamanca Market is the most famous in Tasmania, filled with local producers, artists, and food vendors hawking anything and everything from wallaby burgers, genuine leather goods, upcycled homewares and vibrant, fresh blooms. Sip on fresh brewed coffee and munch on an everything bagel slathered in jalepeno cream cheese, or tuck in to a delicious breakfast paella that’s a full sensory experience all on its own. There are loads of artisans selling homemade remedies such as essential oils, organic soaps and skincare – you can be sure not to leave empty handed. Salamanca Pl, Hobart TAS 7001 salamanca.com.au

Bridestowe Lavender Estate There’s that saying, “to come up smelling like roses”. But we’d much rather smell like lavender instead. Lavender oil has a long and established history of use as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory remedy, and as

For culture vultures Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) Museum date, anyone? For some head-tilting, lifequestioning, far-out art, cop a cup of culture at the (in)famous MONA. Its selection of installation and traditional art reads like an eccentric billionaire’s curation of old antiques, provocative sculptures, and digital art. Not just for its exhibition, MONA also offers great beer tours and wine-tasting sessions at its Moo Brewery, and visitors can even opt to stay at one of the eight luxurious shipping-container pavilions that promise décor like none you’ve ever seen. Tel: +61 3 6277 9900 655 Main Rd, Berriedale TAS 7011 mona.net.au

For more information, visist www.discovertasmania.com

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TASMANIA’S HIGHLIGHTS Cradle MountainLake St Clair National Park The Dove Lake circuit is one of the most popular paths in Cradle Mountain National Park, with the iconic Cradle Mountain as its majestic backdrop. Cradle Mountain is so named because its peaks form a silhouette that resembles a baby in its cradle. The boat shed at Dove Lake is also one of its mostphotographed sights, its well-worn frame heralding a time long since past and making a rather romantic setting for a dramatic looking-off-into-thedistance shot. The Overland Track is also a well-known hiking trail that will take you through the heart of the park, but takes an average of six to seven days to conquer. Weather conditions, be sure to check with the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre beforehand (+61 3 6289 1172; parks.tas. gov.au).

Freycinet National Park All up and down the Freycinet Peninsula are staggering pink granite cliffs, secluded bays fringed by white sandy beaches, and pure turquoise waters as far as the eye can see. It’s a short hike up to Cape Tourville and Wineglass Bay Lookout (roughly 90mins round trip), but for the full Freycinet Experience, there are multiple guided tours that will take you round the dramatic and ancient landscapes, breathtaking vistas, and rare flora (parks.tas.gov.au).

Hobart Tasmania’s historic waterfront capital bustles with trendy restaurants, fashionable bars, and the everinfamous MONA. Eat the Saturday away at the wide selection of cafes along the tranquil harbour, visit the famous weekend markets along Salamanca Place, or visit the heritage suburb of Battery Point with its quaint cottages and colonial-era houses. Hobart hosts so many activities throughout the year, it’s hard to keep track (try checking discovertasmania.com. au/what-to-do/events when planning your trip), but highlights include the Taste Tasmania festival, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and Dark Mofo midwinter music festival (mona.net.au). If you have a chance, support local by dropping by Kopitiam Singapore Cafe (86 Collins St; +61 450 588 761) for a taste of home – they have Nonya Curry Chicken, Laksa, and Hainanese Chicken Rice on the menu.

Launceston Packed with elegant Colonial and Victorian charm, Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania and a vibrant hub of culture, nature, and food. Take a serene trek around the Cataract Gorge, just a short walk from the urban hub, for a slice of wilderness in the centre of the city. Launceston really comes alive during the summer months with its food and wine festivals, where a revolution is being led by ethical farming advocates.


Health is Wealth

Supplement your fitness regime with these all natural health products that aim to provide the best support for our human body

The health and fitness trend has been growing rapidly in recent years, especially with the widespread of social media and fitness regimes that are readily available on the internet. With that being said, there has also been an influx of health and wellness products to supplement our daily lives. But with so many companies claiming to provide the best, which ones can we truly trust? Go Pure is a health and natural products web-based company that aims to educate and promote the idea of healthy living through consumption of nutritious food and appropriate exercise, together with the intake of the right

supplements for a healthier living standard in today’s competitive society. The company may not have been in the market for long, but its parents company (API Nutrition & Therapy Centre Pte Ltd) has been in the industry for over a decade and dedicate its motto to providing the best form of natural ingredients for consumers. The star products are the Pure Propolis and Pure Propolis Premium, both of which are made with propolis that is widely known to be nature’s form of antibiotic. Propolis is the by-product of bees, produced from the sap of needle-leaved trees

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or evergreens combined with the secretion of bees. The end result is a sticky, greenish-brown product that is often used to coat bee hives and is rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals and flavonoid. In ancient civilisations, it was believed to have cured sickness, fought infections and helped to increase healing processes. Pure Propolis is known to help in boosting immunity and reduce inflammation. It can also be used as an anti-aging product as it helps to regulate blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol and circulation. Pure Propolis Premium does all the above but yields better results as it has a thicker concentration of the active ingredients. Propolis also helps to adjust the body’s internal system by eliminating toxins within, which are then expelled naturally on a daily basis. Other popular products include Acacia Honey and Linden Honey (in natural and organic forms respectively). Honey is produced by bees after the collection of nectar from flowers near their hives and it is known to be nature’s energy booster with benefits going beyond its great taste. It is also a great natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies, known to be effective in boosting performance, endurance and reducing muscle fatigue. Natural Acacia and Natural Linden Honey are produced using Hot Press, meaning it uses a spinning method to spin honey out from honey frames. On the other hand, Organic Acacia and Organic Linden Honey are collected using Cold Press, where the honey will slowly drip out of their honey frames so that the properties are less damaged and more benefits are retained. Whether it is propolis or pure honey, these naturally-sourced products generally helps to boost the immune system and provide the much needed extra boost for our daily activities. For more information or to place your orders, simply head to www.gopure.sg.


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Island Escapades (What’s new & hot) // TRAVeL //

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A scenically delightful way to explore Bintan Resorts and its authentic local roots The year-end holidays have come and gone and though school or work has only set in for a month or two, we are already wanderlusting about the next travel destination to forget the humdrum of daily life. Also, due to celebrity and media influences, we may have fantasised about jetting off in our personal plane (except we do not own one) to an ultraluxe private isle set with 24-hour butler service amidst a luxurious pool resort (more often than not in the Maldives or the Caribbean). While these may seem slightly unattainable to the budget-conscious traveller, we have just the place for a weekend escape to help reinvigorate and rejuvenate weary souls, just in time to be back and fresh by Monday mornings. Bintan Island is no stranger to locals, one of two popular Indonesian islands that are often flooded with families or groups of friends seeking an affordable yet wonderful travel experience. The other draw point is the close proximity to Singapore, making it ideal for a weekend getaway.

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Lagoi Bay is a 1,300 hectares development set to be the new ‘heart of Bintan’ that encompasses new holiday resorts, residential villas, outdoor activities and shopping options such as Plaza Lagoi and Bintan Marketplace. //

Young kids will love the Lantern Park with its myriad of underwater sea creatures

The high-speed cataraman ferry takes less than an hour to reach the location, with full services onboard the ride such as roomy seats, clean washrooms and a snack bar. Discerning travellers who opt for the Emerald Class are entitled to more, including larger plush seats, an extraordinary view of the sea from the second floor deck of the boat, complimentary refreshment and Wi-Fi services. Whether you are seeking a quiet respite down by a private beachfront, finding the freshest (and cheapest) seafood by the kelong, or exploring the nook and cranny of Tanjung Pinang, BIntan Island is the perfect place to be. Here, we give you the lowdown on the latest developments of the island.

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STAY Private villas are often seen as expensive travel accommodation types, but Bintan is able to provide two new locations with these uniquely designed villa resort offering a tranquil destination for family getaways or a couple’s private hub. The first is LagoiBay Villas, a traditionally elegant accommodation with a host of gracious amenities and inviting features. The boutique villa estate is located in the new ‘heart of Bintan’ where Plaza Lagoi Mall and the picturesque Lake Lagoi are located at. Currently, there are three villa types, namely the Honeymoon Suite, Deluxe King Bungalow and Family Bungalow. Each well equipped with a private swimming pool to energise and cool off on a hot sweltering day, complete kitchenette, luxurious beds and linens and 24 hours security system. The second is Holiday Villa Pantai Indah, a high-end resort that forms part of the Lagoi Bay master planned leisure project on Bintan Island. This private sanctuary allows guest to create memories and fulfil dreams in any one of its 139 pool villas with spacious one or two bedrooms. Surrounding the resort are scenic views, beautiful pools, tropical

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outdoor pavilions and immaculate furnishings complete the finishing touches of the luxurious estate. Complimentary shuttle services are available to nearby Plaza Lagoi shopping mall or other dining and recreational areas in Bintan Resorts. The Canopi Resort may not be a new establishment but it is worth a mention considering its incredible quick growth in popularity (and size). We heard they may be expanding its premise soon to cater to more travellers, and it is no wonder with its exceptional accommodate type – glamping. Be surrounded by spectacular crystal waters out front your private tent with a slew of water activities to choose from, or simply reconnect with nature in one of the customised nature tour which includes a mangrove kayaking tour.

space with new activities for wholesome family fun. Children can board the classical train and head on a mini tour around the area or pick up some local snacks to try, in between a meal that is. Last but not least, Lagoi Bay Beach is finally ready with its array of beach and water activities for the beach bums. Lounge by the beach with a book and cocktail in hand, and lie on either the air bags on water or the bean bags on sand. Alternatively, get in some adrenaline with the Jet Ski and kayaks or head on a mini snorkelling adventure to get to know the underwater creatures. Of course, if you are keen to take on the amphibious ultralight aircraft, we highly urge you to do so! Air Adventures Flying Club Bintan is constantly voted as the top attraction in Bintan for its unparalleled tour experience. Soar through the skies and into the clouds while seeking out key locations on the ground, including award winning golf courses and other luxury resorts.

PLAY Lagoi Bay is a 1,300 hectares development set to be the new ‘heart of Bintan’ that encompasses new holiday resorts, residential villas, outdoor activities and shopping options such as Plaza Lagoi and Bintan Marketplace. To hype things up a notch, PT. Bintan Resort Cakrawala launches its first Lantern Park in Bintan Resorts. The park covers up to 4,000sqm, with a 300m long trail that takes on the “Underwater World” theme. It is located near Lagoi Bay beach and hopes to entice visitors to enjoy the larger than life lantern displays of marine creatures and endangered land species, such as the Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran Elephants. Love locks are a symbol of love and commitment inspired by an ancient custom and may not necessarily have started its trend in Asia. However,

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this activity has gained a wide following in a lot of countries and Bintan, Indonesia is jumping onto the trend with the inclusion of Lagoi Bay Love Lock. This is a place where lovers or friends can celebrate their inseparable bonds by leaving a lock together. Plaza Lagoi Mall, built using modern contemporary design infused with Indonesian architectural touches, has also expanded its plaza 1 Now you need not head to South Korea just to place a love lock! 2 Enjoy a snack or two at the openspaced bazaar at Plaza Lagoi Mall 3 Face your fears and take flight onboard the ultralight aircraft 4 Enjoy a magnificent sunset at Holiday Villa Pantai Indah’s Sunset Bar 5 Don’t let the statues intimidate you ... 6 Enjoy Southeast Asia’s largest treated saltwater lagoon with its plethora of activities

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7 Jump on the latest trend of ‘glamping’ at The Canopi

Not many people know the places outside of Bintan Resorts, which is why we highly recommend you to venture out and explore. Tanjung Pinang is a good place to begin, with it being the capital of Bintan and one of the biggest towns within the Riau Islands. Get to know the locals by interacting with them, dine in an authentic local-run eatery and simply marvel at the awe-inspiring temples built decades (or even centuries) ago. If you wish to visit someplace new, try the Vihara Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (500 Lohan Temple) that has recently completed its refurbishment. Being surrounded by 500 life-sized realistic arhart statues almost place you in Mainland China itself, except this is a mere hour away from sunny island Singapore. A world of transcendent beauty waits to coax any traveller into a state of bliss or simply, etch a lovely travel memory in your heart. Stop thinking and start your spontaneous trip today. For more information, please visit www.bintan-resorts.com.

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1 & 2 Local youth may participate in the water splashing festivities more but the festival is also for the young at heart

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Soaked in fun for Songkran // COVER //

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4 Elephants getting into the spirit of the festival as well!

In the scorching April heat, nothing beats the spray of cold water to cool down during Songkran It’s a brand new year, at least to the Thais it is. The Songkran Festival is also known as the Thai New Year. The three-day festival that falls from 13 to 15 April each year is a big celebration that marks the beginning of the new year in accordance to the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar and the start of summer. Songkran celebrations are filled with tradition, much like how Lunar New Year is celebrated in Singapore. Many locals who have moved to the city for work return home to celebrate Songkran with their families. The mornings of the festival are spent merit-making by visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks. An iconic ritual involves pouring water on Buddha statues, which is considered a means of purification and the washing away of sins and bad luck. This water pouring is also practiced in homes by the young on the elderly. It is no surprise now that water has a huge significance during this festival and is most evident during the water splashing play that takes place on the streets. Streets are often closed to allow the local youth to run out to splash water on their friends and tourists too. Soaking someone completely till their clothes stick to their bodies is not considered insulting nor is it considered rude; the water is meant to bring blessings on the people splashed and is welcomed coolness in the hot summer sun.

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3 The mornings of Songkran involve merit-making at the temples to absolve worshippers from sin

Want to experience Songkran for yourself? Head to these locations for the best fun for tourists:

5 Songkran is a fun time of celebrations for locals and foreigners too

Bangkok Khaosan, the backpacker’s haven, is where to head as a foreigner to get into the wet festivities of Songkran with the locals. The whole area is a wild playground for tourists and locals alike to splash water onto unsuspecting passers-by. Watch out for locals who will also smear powder onto you – all in good fun, of course. Chiang Mai Celebrations take place all over the old town, especially at the roads surrounding the old town, where water is plentiful. There are beautiful processions of colourfully decorated pickup trucks that can cause traffic congestion but this is the best time for tourists to get in on the action. The trucks are all loaded with people holding buckets of water waiting to tip their barrels onto other vehicles and pedestrians. Songkhla This is a popular spot for tourists from Singapore and Malaysia due to its proximity to the Malaysian border. Songkran is also celebrated on a much larger scale here and the business district in the heart of Hat Yai is where the Midnight Songkran Fair takes place. There are lanterns in different shapes and colours that light the place up, as well as other activities to help usher in the new year. Water splashing happens more often at night, as compared to other areas in Thailand where water splashing usually takes place in the day. Khon Kaen Sichan, the main thoroughfare in the centre of the town is closed for Songkran and its water splashing activities. The road has been nicknamed ‘Sticky Rice Road’ and branded as a second Khaosan Road as the water splashing here is similar to that of the backpacker’s

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street in Bangkok. Here, the local youths have their fun splashing water and smearing each other (and tourists!) with rice flour. There is usually dancing, eating and drinking during the festivities as well. For more infomation, please visit our booth 7H13 or visit www.tourismthailand.org/sg

Khon Kaen Chiang Mai

Bangkok

Songkhla


Switzerland on track // TRAVEL //

Discovering the rail beauty of train travel across Confoederatio Helvetica

What is it about travelling by train that always excites us? Maybe it’s because it is one of the least hectic methods of travel with some of the best views and one of the most efficient ways to traverse a country and take in the highlights of each city that you stop by. Switzerland is one of those countries that train travel should come naturally. There are passenger train lines that zig-zag across every canton, easily taking travellers from one canton to the next in mere hours. Within a week, one can cover multiple cities in Switzerland, passing by the capital, towns at the edge of Lac Léman, and up to mountains all by train.

Bern The laid-back nature of the Bernese and cobblestone city centre are far from the makings of a capital, yet Bern is the capital of Switzerland and a UNESCO

World Heritage Site as well. The Old Town of Bern is a great introduction to Switzerland that will quickly get travellers acquainted with this laid-back lifestyle. Take in a full view of the city from the Rose Garden that blooms 223 rose varieties in spring for unrivalled views of Bern. Framed by the Aare River, the medieval town has a 6km-arcade of sandstone facades punctuated by Renaissance stone fountains topped with colourful effigies (from which pure and potable spring water flows from). While Bern has an exceptional public transport system, it is best to explore the city on foot to uncover the city’s secrets. Travelling on foot will bring you to prominent landmarks in Bern, such as the Federal Palace of Switzerland (Houses of Parliament), the Cathedral of Bern (Das Berner Münster) and Bern Clock Tower (Zytglogge). At the Cathedral of Bern, check out the very detailed depiction of the Christian belief of the Last Judgement where the righteous are separated from the wicked. At the Clock Tower, view the ornate astronomical clock with its parade of bears and dancing jester on the outside or take a secret tour into the clock’s tower to see the

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intricate mechanics of the clock that have been in motion since it was built some 800 years ago. The Clock Tower is said to have inspired theoreticalphysicist Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity as he imagined a streetcar moving away from the tower at the speed of light. For the casual couch scientist interested in learning more about Einstein, there is an extensive exhibition devoted to Einstein’s personal life and his discoveries at the Bern Historical Museum.

Lausanne From Bern, we head south towards Lausanne, but not before making a quick stop at Broc-Fabrique, home of Maison Cailler, the oldest brand of Swiss chocolate still in existence. The museum/factory has self-guided tours that take visitors on a spectacular journey from bean to bar, as well as the history of Cailler in Switzerland. The tour then culminates in a sample room where visitors can taste test 2

1 The GoldenPass Panoramic trains pass by Switzerland’s most awe-inspiring vistas 2 Snowy landscapes greet guests at the Art Furrer Hotels in Riederalp Mitte 3 The Aare River surrounds the provincial town of Bern 4 The covered wooden footbridge contains a number of interior paintings that date back to the 17th century 5 The Titlis Rotair gondola rotates its way up the snow-covered summit of Titlis

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Switzerland is one of those countries that train travel should come naturally. There are passenger train lines that zig-zag across every canton, easily taking travellers from one canton to the next in mere hours.

various chocolates, pralines and bon bons produced right at Maison Cailler. Fulfil souvenir requirements for friends and family back home by stocking up on Cailler chocolate products in the gift shop or, indulge in a rich and frothy hot or ice cold chocolate beverage with a pastry at the cafe. With chocolate-filled bellies, continue on to Lausanne, located along the shores of Lac Léman. Lausanne is known as the Olympic Capital of the world, where it was chosen as the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern day Olympics. The Olympic Museum showcases greater detail of the history of the Olympics, from its beginnings in Greece to the most currently held games in Rio de Janeiro. It is a 3,000m2 space with remarkable paraphernalia collected from various medalwinning athletes.

Riederalp After a day in Lausanne, move on towards Riederalp for a taste of the Swiss alps, which requires a stop in Möreal first to take the cableway up to the ski resorts. Along the way, many choose to make a detour at Vevey first, another city near Lac Léman. Its lakeside promenade makes for a perfect post-lunch stroll with its views of bronze statutes. It isn’t enough to just look at the alps in Switzerland, being at the Swiss alps itself is just as integral to the experience of visiting Switzerland. From a short train ride from Vevy to Mörel, take the cableway up to Art Furrer Hotels in Riederalp Mitte, a ski resort. Riederalp is also the gateway to viewing the Aletsch Glacier, which is the largest glacier in the alps. The striking glacier can be fully taken in from the viewing point just a short walk away from Moosfluh Station near the ski resort. Look out for the Matterhorn on the way up to the glacier. The peak made famous by Tobelerone chocolates is also clearly visible on the walk over.

3D2N fr Glacier Express Tour

$1678

6D5N fr Golden Pass Tour

$2138

8D7N Grand Train fr Line of Switzerland 6D5N 3 White Peaks

fr

* *

$2728* $2318

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// Montreux and Interlaken

Day trips are popular in Switzerland, especially in smaller cities like the lakeside resort of Montreux, the last city featured to face Lac Léman on this journey across Switzerland. Montreux is a town synonymous with music, especially jazz and rock. Jazz fans congregate along the lake’s shoreline annually for the Montreux Jazz Festival, one of the best jazz festivals in the world for more than 40 years now. For rock, a number of bands have made history at Casino Barrier de Montreux, most notably, the legendary band Queen. Queen recorded a total of seven albums at Mountain Studios, including their final album, ‘Made in Heaven’. The studio the band recorded in is still open and has been converted into a free museum. Queen – The Studio Experience exhibits costumes, original penned lyrics and albums by Queen. Another day trip can be made to Interlaken, the city that straddles Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. This vacation destination, which is presided over by the might Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains, is the starting point for numerous activities, such as cross-country skiing, tobogganing, paragliding and more. As much fun as Interlaken is, half the excitement is in the train ride from Montreux. Instead of sitting on a regular train, make the journey a memorable one with at seat on the GoldenPass, a passenger train with glass-dome coaches for uninterrupted views of the passing serene scenes of Switzerland.

Lucerne The last stop on this rail journey is Lucerne, the centrally located Swiss city sited on Lake Lucerne that is ringed by mountains. The Old Town of Lucerne is a huge shopping arcade of international brands housed in old, limestone buildings. This juxtapose of tradition and modernity is seen almost everywhere in Lucerne and has become

5D4N Top of Switzerland

fr

$1998*

6D5N Zurich: fr City & Swiss Alps

$2398*

5D4N Top of Europe & Mt. Titlis 3D SWISS TRAIN PASS

fr

$2028* fr

$308

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dynastytravel.com.sg

* Price exclude taxes & fuels surcharges which are correct at time of print and subject change. Due to currency or fuel price fluctuations. * For selected tours & departure dates. Terms & Condition apply.

a signature feature of the city, such as with the Chapel Bridge. It is one of Europe’s oldest wooden bridges and a landmark of Lucerne. While in Lucerne, one must also visit the Lion Monument, a carved statue of a dying lion, designed as a memorial for war veterans. Spend a night in Lucerne and be up and ready to conquer Engelberg the next morning. The alpine town is the largest winter and summer holiday destination in central Switzerland. Most visit Engelberg to get to Mt Titlis. Hop onto the world’s first revolving cable car to the top of Mt Titlis, the region’s highest viewpoint and only accessible glacier. Accessible from the ski resort is also the glacier cave of Mt Titlis. The frosty heart of the mountain is made of ice that was frozen long before man even discovered how to make fire. The rest of Mt Titlis is open for mountains of fun too. Ski and snowboarding beginners will find the place a paradise to pick up the sport, while those more advanced can try out the cross-country ski run. Those who just love the snow can even hike along the snowshoe trails or enjoy tobogganing, otherwise, spend the afternoon sliding down gentle slopes at Trübsee Snow Park on minibobs and snowtubes. Writer’s trip is supported by Switzerland Tourism and Dynasty Travel. Visit Dynasty Travel booth at NATAS Travel 2017 @ Singapore Expo on 17-19 Feb 2017 is 7H10 / Visit dynastytravel.com.sg

Make it happen • Follow a similar itinerary as shown by booking an all-inclusive Pure Switzerland tour package with Dynasty Travel. The tour agency is the only agency in Singapore with access to the Aletsch Glacier. All tour package holders are also given access to the SAT lounge in all Changi Airport terminals before their flight (dynastytravel.com.sg). • Dynasty Travel is also a General Sales Agent for Swiss Travel Products, such as Swiss Travel Passes, Swiss Scenic Trains, Swiss Rail Holidays and Swiss Luggage Services. The agency offers professional service for itinerary planning, bookings of rail packages and seat reservation for all free and independent travellers. The agency is able to instantly issue any of these Swiss Travel Products. The Swiss Travel Pass is available in two classes (1st or 2nd class) for three to 15 consecutive days of travel (from S$308).


Calendar APR - MAY

April 4 to 12

Hanami

Kyoto: One of the best places to view cherry blossoms in Japan is in Kyoto. The former capital of Japan during the Edo period has a number of beautiful parks and historically significant places to enjoy hanami. It is also the perfect time to catch the beautiful scene of geiko and maiko (geishas from this region) walking along the old streets of Gion as cherry blossom petals fall to the ground. jnto.go.jp/eng

April 14 to 17

Fremantle Street Arts Festival Perth: The crème de la crème of circus, comedy and cabaret will amuse and amaze festival goers with world class acts at Market Street, South Terrace, High Street, Esplanade Reserve, and more. Blink and you might just miss the spellbinding illusions of the very best of street theatre. streetartsfestival.com.au

13-15

Songrakan 2017 Chiang Mai: While the most celebrated annual water festival drenches most of the streets in Thailand, the festival is at its biggest in Chiang Mai. Taking on a more religious overtone, the festivities engage foreigners and locals alike, as water and colour splash around a spectacular parade. songkranday.com

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May

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Walpurgisnacht Mount Brocken: Welcome spring in ancient mystical tradition on Witches’ Night, a festival that is celebrated throughout Central and Northern Europe. In Germany, Walpurgisnacht is when witches fly up to Mount Brocken to meet with the devil. People believed that evil was represented by the cold so dancing and lighting bonfires were thought to deter the witches from coming to their homes. germany.travel

12 to 15

Savour Singapore: Featuring award-winning dishes at accessible prices, the Savour culinary extravaganza brings to you renowned local and international chefs and top local restaurateurs for the ultimate gastronomic experience. Free to enter, with dishes purchased at the festival starting at the low price of $6, the festival showcases a melting pot of local and international delicacies, along with the opportunity to learn from the maestros themselves at hands-on masterclasses. savour.online

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Auckland Writers Festival 2017 Aukland: Bringing together an international panel of writers, scientists, economists, poets, journalists and public intellectuals, with as many as 24,000 attendees, this major Australasian cultural gathering has been enriching minds and promoting new ideas for the past 15 years. Featuring both ticketed and free events, the festival offers a range of opportunities to explore ideas and engage in stimulating discussions. writersfestival.co.nz

Cinco De Mayo California: From commemorating the Mexican army’s unexpected victory over the French forces back in 1862, the Cinco de mayo has now become a raging celebration of Mexican-American culture in the US. From tacos to tequila, with mariachi music, piñatas, dance and food, LA witnesses one of the greatest Cinco de Mayo fiestas in the US. discoverlosangeles.com


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