MCI (P) 079/05/2015 MAY-JUN 2015 Free
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Switzerland | Mexico | Scandinavia PLUS: Catalonia Special
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For a list of our distribution outlets, visit www.sportsandtravelonline.com Sports + Travel Singapore is a publication of Lennox & Ooi Media Pte Ltd (Singapore). All articles published are in good faith and based on bona fide information available to The Publisher at the time of press. The Publisher accepts no responsibility other than that stipulated by law. The Publisher also accepts no responsibilty for unsolicited manuscripts, transparencies or other materials. All rights are reserved and no part of this publication may be reproduced in part or full without the previous written permission of The Publisher. Neither can any part be stored or recorded, by any means. The opinions expressed in The Publication are those of the contributors and not necessarily endorsed by The Publisher. This publication and the name are owned solely by Lennox and Ooi Media Pte Ltd, 242A River Valley Road, Singapore 238299. Email: enquiry@sportsandtravelonline. com. Sports + Travel Singapore is published bimonthly and distributed throughout Singapore. Trademarks and copyrights for all other products, logos and depictions contained herein are the properties of their respective trademark and copyright owners. All colour separation and printing by Stamford Press Pte Ltd. Singapore MCI (P) 079/05/2015
Our Team Editor-in-Chief May Lynn Writer Konrad Clapp Creative Director Lynn Ooi
With the summer season (and school holiday) season coming up, it’s a time when longer holidays are possible. While it is a peak season, it still beats travelling during the end-of-year mad rush. This issue, our theme is ‘Culture’, in which we showcase some of the world’s most interesting cultural destinations. Whether it’s festivals to participate in, or ancient trails to follow, simply getting to know the locals and their way of life is a great way to travel. Our culture story kicks off with the Sami people - native inhabitants of northern Scandinavia (Finland, Norway and Sweden). You can follow a Sami guide on a sledding or reindeer herding excursion, or simply try some of their reindeer cuisine. Closer to home, we visit to our northern neighbour, Malaysia. Located in the state of Perak, the Belum rainforest (which is older than the Amazon) is home to some of Asia’s rarest flora and fauna, in addition to Orang Asli villages. Taiwan reveals its multicultural patchwork in the form of its Hakka and aboriginal cultures, where travellers can spend time with them on homestays. We then head to Switzerland, home to no less than 4 unique laguages and cultures: German, French, Italian and Romansch. We explore their unique festivals, foods, and distinct landscapes. Heading south of the equator, New Zealand presents some interesting trips infused with Maori culture. Visitors can go on guided canoe or hiking trips, stay at traditional maraes, or simply partake in their feasts. We wrap this issue up with a journey to the other side of the world where we showcase some of Mexico’s cultural gems, from ancient Mayan and Aztec ruins to colonial cities and colourful fiestas. This issue, we also have our Catalonia Special, highlighting some of the best activities to be had in this region of Spain. From skiing to rafting, hiking to mountain biking, Catalonia’s varied landscape - from jagged mountains to pristine valleys and fertile plains - offers no shortage of breathtaking backdrops. Do check our website for updated blogs, or drop us a line if you want to give us some feedback or contribute a travel story! Until then, happy trails!
Events & Partnerships Chua Wei Ling General Manager Aaron Stewart
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Special Thanks Status Sports Taiwan Tourism Bureau Tourism New Zealand Visit Norway and many, many others!
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by Wilson Low
AN UNPRECEDENTED TWIN-TRAGEDY As we all know, Nepal has been struck by two massive earthquakes in recent weeks, including an initial, devastating 7.8 quake (25th April) tragically followed by another 7.1 quake (12th May) - with death tolls continuing to climb over 8,000 at the time of print, as rescuers finally reach many isolated rural communities. While Kathmandu has seen extensive death and destruction, it’s in the foothills of the Himalayas in remote villages where the situation is markedly worse. Largely cut off from the outside world, many of those communities, have according to the Red Cross, seen “100% destruction.” With the monsoon season about to begin, Nepal now desperately needs assistance and emergency-relief on many fronts, but the question remains that once the most urgent aspects of the humanitarian disaster are addressed – what’s next? TRAVELLERS WANTED
Long considered a must-visit country for adventure-travellers, Nepal remains so even after the earthquakes. And while the fact is that whatever capacity is left in Nepal’s beleaguered infrastructure is critically needed now for relief efforts, the parallel reality is that the average Nepali also needs hope. And in a country with 40% unemployment, hope can come in the form of giving work back to the 1,000,000+ Nepalis employed in the tourism sector in the coming months.
If previous disasters like the Haiti earthquake of 2010 have taught us anything, it’s that disaster relief isn’t just about feeding the hungry. It’s about creating a scenario that empowers people to rebuild their lives. It may seem too soon to be planning a trip, but the reality is that disaster relief and emergency aid are not long-term solutions. In the coming months, returning tourism receipts will matter more than ever in helping the average Nepali get back on their feet.
Within a fortnight after the disaster, local Nepali activists had started the #Nepalisreadyforbusiness campaign, as the country could ill-afford to lose much-needed tourism revenues for a second season, fresh off last year’s avalanche disaster on Everest that put an early end to the 2014 climbing season. In line with that campaign, many local groups such as adventurerace organisers Yak Ru have launched their own projects like the “Yak Ru for Humanity Project” – aimed at coordinating the distribution of medicine, food, clothes and tarpaulins via their own, established grassroots logistics links – with local volunteers even hand-carrying critical supplies where needed.
Over the next two issues Sports + Travel will explore the outlook for the Nepalese people and communities as they recover from and rise above this tragedy. We’ll also investigate the wider ramifications for travel in Nepali - in conjunction with long-term aid, rebuilding, and reconstruction work on a national level.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
For regular updates and more information on how you can help: Mercy Relief (www.mercyrelief.org) Singapore Red Cross (www.redcross.org.sg), or Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (www.pmrelief.opmcm.gov.np)
RUNNING ON AIR
Like all of Hoka One One’s shoes, the Road Clifton looks unconventional, but it’s surprisingly light. And its wide base and high profile help with ankle-roll and stability issues over uneven terrain. Available in both men’s and women’s, it’s good for runners with joint problems, but actually good for anyone doing distances as its mix of padding and fairly rigid base creates torque rather than sapping downward thrust, all while cushioning heel strikes. Now available at StyleXDeckers at S$199.
Lowe Alpine’s Dryflo 120 stretchy long-sleeved baselayer fits closely to the body, providing good moisture control thanks to the Dryflo fabric with soft, natural Cocona technology that wicks moisture away from the skin, thus delivering good odour-control. Extremely breathable, this winter baselayer allows you to stay wam in the cold and cooler in the heat. Now available at Adventure Gear Post at S$95.
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Decathlon’s Quechua Arpenaz does excatly what it says on the label. It’s a ridiculously affordable, simple, lightweight, 10L daypack. It’s got two zip compartments; a small outside one for things like maps, and a larger main one big enough for a water bottle, change of clothes and/or a fleece/shell. The straps are simple, but still padded, making it ideal for quickly hitting the trail. Available at decathlon.sg for a mere $5.90.
Combining maximum security and ease of use, Black Diamond uses powerful magnets in its latest autolocking carabiner. The Magnetron uses two magnetic arms in the gate and a steel insert in the carabiner’s keylock nose to create an ultrasecure, self-clearing locking mechanism that can be easily used with either hand. This is combined with an innovative shape that traps the belay loop to eliminate cross-loading. Now available at Outdoor Life at S$54.
The Sami (or Saami) are the northernmost indigenous people of the European Union, with a population spread across the northern reaches of Fennoscandia spanning Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. While ‘Lappland’ is commonly used to refer to the lands inhabited by the Sami (sometimes called ‘Lapplanders’, a derogatory name referring to people who wear patched clothing), it is more appropriately referred to as Sápmi, which spans an area roughly the size of Norway. A land of snow-capped mountains, wild rivers, pristine waters, tundra and forest, Sápmi is also where you can experience the midnight sun (summer) and the northern lights (winter). THE PEOPLE
The Sami population is estimated at about 80,000, spread across the four countries, of which around half live in Norway.
Traditionally, the Sami livelihood is connected to coastal fishing, fur trapping, sheep herding, and especially reindeer herding (an activity legally reserved for the Sami in certain Nordic countries). Reindeer are intricately linked to the Sami’s seminomadic lifestyle, providing them with fur, food, and transportation. Reindeer meat is also a regional dish, which is served in many different ways, ranging from reindeer steak to bidus, a thick soup usually served at weddings. Their unique culture also includes their own languages – there are about 9 related Sami languages, and not every Sami speaks the same dialect.
Sami crafts (duoddji) include embroidery, weaving, wood carving and knife-making. Joik, one of the oldest singing traditions in Europe, is usually sung slowly and deep in the throat. Across Sápmi, two of the most important celebrations for the Sami are National Day (6 February) and Easter, which are celebrated differently in different regions – these include reindeer racing, lasso competitions and traditional markets. These are opportune times to try your hand at reindeer sledding and lassoing. © VisitFinland
The traditional costume, the gákti, is worn for ceremonies and while working, particularly when herding reindeer. Their jewellery, known as risku or solju, is a symbol of the sun, decorated with leek flowers. Sami boots, or nutukkaat, are made out of reindeer skin and will keep feet warm even in -40ºC temps.
The Sami population is approximately 9,000 strong in Finland, mainly spread out in Lapland, the country’s northernmost province. The best places to experience Sami culture are Inari, Enontekiö and Utsjoki. One of the best ways to explore Lapland is on foot; you can hike to fells, like Saana in the Kilpisjärvi area, or to the seitas, the holy stones of Sami culture. In the picturesque village of Hetta, where the Sámi culture is alive and strongest, the Fell-Sámi Visitor Centre points you to the right trails, and to Raittijärvi, the last genuine Sámi village, which has no access by road. Salla, proudly marketed as ‘the middle of nowhere’, is the birthplace of Finnish alpine skiing, where you can trek in summer (over 300kms of trail).
You can also go multi-day hiking around Utsjoki in the fells in late summer with accompanied reindeer (to carry supplies), camping in kota (Lappish version of the tee pee) along the way. Fishing with the Sami is possible, even in winter, in the salmon rich Teno River and Inari Lake. Or you can pick wild mushrooms and rare cloudberries with a Sami guide.
Most of the Sami population live in Northern Norway, in the Finnmark region known as Finnmarksvidda – one of Norway’s largest mountain plateaus. A handful of roads cross this expanse, as it remains the preserve of a few thousand Sami, most of whom still wear their traditional costumes. Finnmarksvidda is a vast treeless area of rivers, lakes and marshes, and is a great place for hiking (in summer and autumn), cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and dog sledging in winter – this is also when the world’s northernmost sled dog race (Finnmarksløpet) happens.
© Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.seden.se
Several hiking options are available (late August and early September), including Alta to Karasjok, Áissároaivi to Stabbursnes through Stabbursdalen National Park, and Gargia Fjellstue to Suolovuopmi. The plateau is luxuriant with flowers and plants, home to reindeer, wolverines, lynx and other wildlife like the gerfalcon. Mountain lodges (originally meant for
Every summer, the Saami lead their huge herds of reindeer towards the mountains through a natural landscape hitherto preserved, but now threatened by the advent of motor vehicles. For visitors, there are plenty of opportunities for reindeer sledding, or hiking with a Sami guide in Jukkasjärvi (home to the famous ICEHOTEL). Plenty of Sami centres dot the Swedish Lapland, where you can experience traditional village life.
migratory Sami) are dotted along old traffic routes, now used mostly by visiting hikers and skiers. You can also stay with a Sami family on the plateau in a traditional Sami lavvu (a tee pee), and help herd reindeer. For a full-on Sami experience, you can join their annual spring migration in April, when over 2,000 Sami reindeer herders send thousands of reindeer from the inland areas to the coast over a few weeks. Visitors will assist with the migration on snowmobiles, sleeping in lavvus along the way. On the edge of Finnmarksvidda is the thriving Sami capital, Karasjok, which is home to the Sami Parliament of Norway, in addition to the Sapmi Culture Park where you can visit Sami dwellings, meet Sami people, and get acquainted with their culture. About 3,000 Sami live in Karasjok, plus some 60,000 reindeer in the autumn and winter months. Check out www.visitnorway.com for more.
For more, visit www.visitfinland.com.
SAMI LANDS IN SCANDINAVIA NORWAY
Plenty of events here can keep a visitor busy; there are ice-fishing and salmon fishing competitions in March and April. In Inari, the biggest reindeer race brings together reindeer herders from all over Lapland. In summer, you can watch the Triphon procession of the Russianorthodox Skolt-Sámi through four villages in August. The traditional Ski Race, held in April, is the northernmost skimarathon in the world, held on the tracks of an ancient mail delivery path from Hetta to Kautokeino in Norway.
The Arctic Circle region of Sweden – comprising the municipalities of Gällivare, Jokkmokk and Arjeplog in Swedish Lapland – is home to the Sami population numbering around 20,000, and is the largest area in the world with an ancestral way of life based on the seasonal movement of livestock. This UNESCO-listed Laponian Area is home to about 51 Sami villages, the largest of which is Sirkas in Jokkmokk.
In Arjeplog, there are 13 nature preserves, including Pieljekaise National Park. The famous 450km-long Kungsleden (King’s Trail) goes through the park, taking you through its beautiful forest of mountain birch. Gällivare, a small mining town, is also home to the national parks of Stora Sjöfallet and Muddus, protected as the Laponian Area. In spring and summer, you can follow Sami families as they mark their
calves, and herd their reindeer to winter grazing grounds. Gällivare is also a haven for skiers – it boasts miles of cross country tracks and downhill skiing slopes.
Jokkmokk, the largest of the Sami villages, offers a plethora of activities related to snow and Sami. Experiences range from visiting Sami villages, to hiking/sledding with reindeer or huskies, to hiking in the remote Sarek National Park for its beautiful mountains and glaciers. Visit www.visitsweden.com for more on the Sami in Sweden.
WHEN TO GO
The driest months are April-October, when low water levels can limit boat access to some locations deeper in the jungle. While Belum-Temenggor is accessible year-round, the peak months for trekking are generally July-August and/ or October-December – also the peak for sport fishing.
BELUM RAINFOREST RESORT
The Belum Rainforest Resort, located on Banding Island, is operated under the island’s development charter; 80% of the land is left untouched as forest with only 20% under low-impact development including a variety of accommodation options catering to all budgets and interests, including kampung-styled traditional chalets, luxury villas, house boats and the original lodge itself.
Situated in northeast Perak, the Belum-Temenggor Forest Reserve is the largest contiguous forest area in West Malaysia. Covering a vast 300,000 hectares, it includes the Temenggor Forest, the Belum Forest Reserve and Royal Belum State Park (RBSP), and goes on to adjoin Bang Lang National Park and the Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary just over the border in neighbouring Thailand. Estimated to be over 130 million years old, Belum-Temenggor predates both the Amazon and Congo, and given its partially protected status today, it may stand a better chance than either of surviving. Located within this massive forest is man-made Lake Temenggor; at over 150sq.km., it includes hundreds of small islands, which are actually the tops of old hills flooded by the damming of the Perak and Temenggor rivers. Among these, is Banding Island (2.5sq.km.) home to Belum Rainforest Resort and forest research centre. BIODIVERSITY IN BELUM
Forming a vast, intact wildlife corridor that includes rainforest, grassland, swamp and lake habitat, it’s a key biosphere for endangered mammals like the Malayan tiger, tapir and Asiatic elephant, as well as the massive seladang (gaur) and Sumatran rhinoceros. Living in harmony within this ecosystem are the indigenous Orang Asli – the area’s original inhabitants. In terms of birdlife, all 10 types of hornbill native to Malaysia can be found in the forest canopy, as well as over 300 other bird species, including fishing eagles, who along with river otters feed on Lake Temenggor’s 23 types of fish. Of the 3,000 species of flowering plants, three types of Rafflesia can be found; as it only has a life cycle of 5-7 days, it is rare to see it in full bloom.
WHAT TO DO
The only reliable way to get around most of Belum-Temenggor is by boat.
Taking a leading role in Lake BelumTemenggor’s preservation, it also offers activities like bamboo rafting, Orang Asli visits, and guided rainforest treks ranging from 2-3 hour guided hikes in Lower Belum (RM150/person) to full-day tours including Orang Asli village visits, waterfalls and Rafflesia spotting (RM370/person), and night treks around Banding Island (RM90/person). Other activities include birding and fishing trips (catch & release only) from RM150-350/person.
CONTRIBUTED BY Jolyn Moh
BELUM-TEMENGGOR FOREST Rainforest Trekking Guided day- and night-treks are easily arranged on Banding Island as well as in Temenggor, while visitors require entry permits for the Royal Belum State Park (allow 5 working days’ processing time). Outside of rainy season (Nov-Mar), it is also possible to arrange private jungle camping trips within Royal Belum, but guests must book 7 working days in advance for the park’s entry permit (2D/1N at RM400/person, min. 4 people). Most half-day treks often yield sightings of Rafflesias and hornbills, as well as signs of large mammals around the salt licks at Sira Gajah. Treks generally include a swimming break in one of the forest waterfalls, such as Sungai Nam (in Lower Belum) or Sungei Ruok (in Royal Belum). Birding With elevations up to 1,500m, BelumTemenggor plays host to a wide range of bird species, including 20 types of bulbuls and 30 types of babblers. The area around Lake Temenggor is predominantly home
to waterfowl, including egret, heron, kingfisher and osprey who feed on fish species like carp or even juvenile toman. The most active birding season is generally AugustOctober, when most of Belum-Temenggor’s 3,000-strong population of hornbills go out to feed every morning. Birding tours generally last 2-4 hours.
Orang Asli Visits There are numerous Orang Asli settlements around the lake, with the most easily reached being Kampong Chuweh. Home to 90 people, most visitors spend 30 minutes in the village, it’s possible to do an overnight homestay with locals, as well as fishing trips, or rainforest walks.
The resort also runs a number of ongoing eco-programmes including its annual tree planting event, Te’el Juhuk, and various initiatives via its EMKAY Foundation, building schools in remote Orang Asli communities and helping integrate local indigenous populations into conservation activities.
Banding Island is located along the EastWest Highway, and easily reached by road from major airports including Penang (3hrs), Ipoh (3.5hrs) and KL (5hrs). Visit www.belumresort.com for more.
Food The diet of each tribe depends heavily on their environment; most survive on agricultural produce like millet, which is also made into wine for both drinking and as offerings during festivals and celebrations.
The Taiwanese aborigines have been in Taiwan for around 15,000 years, who communicate in approximately 26 known languages. Currently, there are 16 recognised tribes spread across the mountainous areas of Taiwan. The age-old cultures and customs of these indigenous people revolve largely on sowing, harvesting, hunting and fishing (for those living near the coast), and travellers can experience these at the various tribes across Taiwan.
A country with a unique historical background, Taiwan is well-known for its diverse and rich cultures, which comprises many different ethnic groups. In particular, they are known for their Hakka villages, as well as the number of indigenous groups that can be found throughout the country.
TEXT BY Chua Wei Ling IMAGES FROM Taiwan Tourism Bureau
CULTURES OF TAIWAN HAKKA
The Hakka population in Taiwan constitutes 15 - 20% of the population, and forms the second-largest ethnic group on the island. Much of the population is concentrated in Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Zhongli District in Taoyuan City, Meinong District of Kaohsiung and in Pingtung County. In the early years, they were largely dependent on agriculture and tea-picking as their way of life, although in the past century, theyâ€™ve also become excellent craftsmen and artisans. In the past decade or so, more Hakka villages and towns are opening up to tourists, including Meinong and Sanyi in Kaohsiung, Miaoli County, as well as Beipu in Hsinchu County. One of the best times to visit a Hakka village is during the Tung blossom season, when entire forests are carpeted with delicate white flowers. Meinong Located in Kaohsiung County, Meinong
has a population of about 50,000 people, with 95% of them being Hakka. One of four districts in Kaohsiung with a central focus on Hakka cultural development, the village is famous for its traditional crafts such as oil paper umbrellas and traditional Hakka clothing which are all still handmade to date. The Hakka see umbrellas as a symbol of good luck, and at the height of production, Meinong had housed up to 20 factories which produced up to 20,000 unique hand-made umbrellas annually which were exported to overseas markets. As it takes 51 individual steps to make one single umbrella, an experienced craftsman can only finish one or two pieces in a day, as this may include painting the intricate designs on the top of the umbrellas. Traditional Hakka clothing are a distinct representation of the Hakka people. In the past, Hakka women had to help out in terms of farming as well, and there was
no distinction between the upper or lower class. However, any white clothing would get dirty easily and black was seen as inauspicious. Thus, blue was decided as the main colour; the design was simple, with loose tops and pants, and cuffs which doubled up as pockets. Sanyi Miaoli County is considered to house the highest concentration of Hakka people, and in addition, the number of camphor trees as well. In the early years, the town of Sanyi primarily produced timber, hides as well as tung and camphor oil. During the Japanese colonial period, camphor trees were abundant in Miaoli County, and the Japanese employed local Hakka people to manufacture Japanese tea sets and screens from the wood. Over the next 100 years, many Hakka people continued this art of Japanese woodcarving, and to date, half of the townâ€™s inhabitants are engaged in the woodcarving industry.
Homestay programmes Many tribes now offer homestay programmes where travellers can learn about their way of life in a more intimate fashion; the programmes are not advertised, depending solely on word-of-mouth. Chashan, a village in the southernmost section of Alishan National Scenic Area in Chiayi County, is home to a mix of Tsou and Bunun culture where accommodation is also offered in the home of a former village chief of the Bunun tribe. The area is also home to eight Tsou villages, each offering homestay programmes as well. In Pingtung County, those looking to experience the Rukai culture can head to Wutai Township where a number of homestay
programmes are offered by indigenous families. Rukai stone carvings and traditional slate dwelling are part of this village, where travellers can learn more about the daily life of a Rukai. A mountain permit to enter this village will be needed, which can be applied for at any foreign-affairs police station. Festivals The Harvest Festival is considered to be the most important festival for all the tribes, and can last from one to seven days long. Singing, dancing and religious rituals, such as praying to ancestors and gods, are all part of the celebration. In modern times, new activities, such as races, tug-of-war and arrow shooting, have also been introduced. While these celebrations used to be limited to only tribal participation, they are now open to the public as well. Visitors can participate in the Amis Harvest Festival, held between July to September every year after the harvesting of millet (traditional food for the tribes). Other Harvest Festivals include the Dawu Harvest in Lanyu, Taitung and the joint Harvest Festival of the indigenous peoples in Kaohsiung.
Those living in the mountainous areas, such as the Amis, Atayal, Saisiyat and Bunun tribe, hunt deer and flying squirrels as staples, while tribes in coastal areas such as the Yamis and Thao, fish as their predominant source of food. Indigenous cuisine restaurants can be found in the Atayal village of Wulai and Taroko National Park, where visitors can try game meat, sticky rice, and native vegetables. Arts and Crafts The indigenous tribes are widely known for their arts such as woodcarving, weaving, wickerwork and pottery, as well as their dance and songs. The Paiwan and Rukai people are known for their woodcarvings of stylised human figures, geometric patterns and images of the hundredpacer snake. The Yami of Lanyu, Taitung, are best known for the boats they build, as they rely heavily on fishing as a way of survival. These boats are hand-built without nails or glue.
UNESCO Sites in Danger
THE GREAT WALL
CHAN CHAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL ZONE
The Great Wall stretches over 20,000km, beginning in Shanhaiguan in Hebei province and ending in Jiayuguan in Gansu, built between the 3rd century BC and the 17th century as a defence system against various invasions.
Located south of Alexandria, Abu Mena was an early Christian holy city built in the 3rd century. The city’s church, monasteries, workshops and houses were built over the tomb of the Christian martyr, Menas. It was destroyed by Muslim conquests in the mid-7th century, and was only rediscovered in the early 20th century.
The largest earthen architecture city in pre-Columbian America, Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu Kingdom, located in the valley where Moche and Chicama rivers once supplied water via intricate irrigation. Chan Chan had a strict political and social classification, as the city was divided into nine independent units.
The site has suffered much damage from flooding in recent years due to agricultural development of the desert region with illconceived irrigation methods.
Frequent rains due to climate change have been causing the remains of Chan Chan to erode at a faster rate in recent years, causing the adobe-brick structures to slowly dissolve into mud.
VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK
MEDIEVAL MONUMENTS IN KOSOVO
RIO PLATANO BIOSPHERE RESERVE
Straddling the border between Rwanda and DR Congo in the Virunga mountains, the Virunga National Park is home to endangered mountain gorillas. The wide diversity of habitat ranges from swamps to the snowfields, lava plains to savannahs. This unique chain of volcanoes is also home to other endangered wildlife like the northern white rhino and okapi.
Located south of Serbia, the site contains four Serbian Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries – Dečani Monastery, Patriarchate of Peć Monastery, Church of Holy Apostles and Our Lady of Ljeviš – which represent the fusion of eastern Orthodox Byzantine and western Romanesque ecclesiastical architecture with their distinct style of wall painting developed in the Balkans between the 13th and 17th centuries.
One of the largest and last virgin tropical rainforests in Central America, the reserve consists of a mountainous landscape with remarkable rock formations, an ocean waterfall, a lagoon area, and grassland which is subjected to flooding during the winter. The reserve also includes the Mayan site of Ciudad Blanca, and is home to more than 2,000 indigenous inhabitants.
Location: China Date of Inscription: 1987
The Wall is currently being destroyed by poor farmers living nearby; they’ve been using the stones as materials for rebuilding houses, roads, pathways, shelters and even fertilisers for their crops. Sections of the Wall have also been defaced with graffiti and vandalism by visitors.
Location: North-Kivu & Orientale province, Democratic Rebublic of Congo Date of Inscription: 1979
Due to war and civil conflicts in DRC’s Great Lakes region, since 1994 UNESCO has an ongoing campaign to rehabilitate endangered wildlife caught in the crossfires of civil unrest.
While it’s no surprise that some of the world’s important historical, cultural and natural sites have been battered by war, human encroachment, environmental degradation, and natural disasters, the recent destruction in earthquake-struck Nepal brought home the fragility of some of humankind’s most treasured cultural icons. Last year, 46 of UNESCO’s 1,007 places designated World Heritage sites were placed on their danger list.
Location: Mariut Desert, Egypt Date of Inscription: 1979
Location: Kosovo, Serbia Date of Inscription: 2004
The four sites were added to the endangered in list in 2006 due to difficulties in its management and conservation stemming from the region’s political instability.
Location: Huanchaco, Peru Date of Inscription: 1986
Location: Mosquitia Hondureña, Honduras Date of Inscription: 1982
Illegal logging, poaching, and uncontrolled commercial hunting are some of the issues that the reserve face, in addition to the introduction of species which upset the biosystem of the rainforest. © See-ming Lee
Adventure Sports Supplement
Issue 03: Nutrition
absorb 70 grams of carbohydrate in an hour). Thus, the longer you run, the larger your fuel deficit becomes. The key is you’ll be trying to manage your pace according both to how you feel and your race plan, but you’ll subconsciously be managing your pace against your internal fuel gauge the further into the race you go – so what and when you eat mid-race is important in order to get the best ratio of usable, absorbable calories out of the inevitable trade-off of stomach discomfort (or worse) from running hard while digesting. It’s best to drink your calories mid-race – as it’s faster and less likely to upset your stomach. Most racers’ race plans include splits for how often to refuel (eg every 30 mins), since unlike rehydration, refueling isn’t instant so you can’t wait until you’re feeling drained.
When it comes to pre-race nutrition, what you put into your body matters as much, if not more than your fitness level. Most runners are conditioned to carbo-load the day before a race, but those who are doing endurance races – like ultramarathons – have to prepare 2 nights in advance, as suggested by sports nutritionists.
According to ultramarathoner Sunny Blende, it’s not so much ‘if’ you’re going to have gastric distress, it’s ‘when’ you’re going to have stomach problems. That’s why having a plan is essential when you’re miles away from your next proper meal.
you’re a jittery runner, go light. If you’re less jittery, just be careful of high-GI foods (ie. sugar). Even the average bagel has 15 teaspoons of sugar in it. The average banana has 6. Not that you won’t need that energy to burn later, but sugar has a negative rebounding effect, so if you’re fueled on sugar early in the race, the postsugar crash will hit you harder psychologically, mid-race.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
Marathoners generally carb-load the night before a race. For ultra-runners who need to dig deeper, it’s ideal to keep your carbs to 60%-70% of your calories just 12 hours out from the start so that the gut isn’t consuming energy trying to digest. High quality carbs like sweet potatoes and whole grain are best. The rest should be made up of easy-to-digest proteins like tofu or fish, and no vegetables (especially broccoli or cauliflower, as they cause gas). If you’re carb-loading 2 nights before, follow the same pattern but drink more the day before. Unlike marathoners who only need several hours of juice in their system, there’s no way an ultra-runner could carb load enough for a race – the max you could effectively carb load is 2,500 calories – and even then the trade-off would be a bloated gut going into the race, which negates the benefit of added fuel. If possible, take your calories in liquid form for a lighter gut. You’ll counteract this by eating/drinking
mid-race later anyway (see below). Your aim here is to fill your tank with quality, not quantity, fuels. Ideally everything you’re eating now is tried and tested, and won’t upset your stomach since going 80-100km distance isn’t a normal thing – your bodily condition will be deteriorating during the race, progressively. It’s almost a guarantee that you will have some sort of stomach issues during that distance, so stick to foods you know the night before with nothing too heavy or fancy.
Be very conscious of what you eat on race morning. Remember, now you’re just topping up the tank, not trying to fill it. If
Biologically speaking, studies have proven muscles absorb a mix of fructose and glucose 40% more efficiently than just glucose, hence consuming high-GI foods (like white breads or sugary energy bars) before a run is fine, but before a race is almost like empty calories when it comes to creating longer-burning race fuel. Aim for low-GI foods like fresh apples, dried fruit, oats, wholemeal bread, etc.
DURING THE RACE
It’s a given that over longer races, you’ll need to eat or drink in calories mid-race. Depending on conditions, you’ll burn about 65 calories per km in an ultra (more if it’s extremely hot, cold, mountainous, etc.). After about 2 hours, you’ll need to start your caloric intake. Your body can only absorb up to a maximum of 250 calories per hour, depending on your metabolism and size (a 70kg runner can
Energy gels are ideal – ranging from isotonic energy gels, glucose/fructose 2:1 gels, and caffeine gels – with brands like SiS, GU, PowerBar, High5, and Torq leading the market. Some people also eat everything from a sandwich to a power bar. It’s really a personal preference. Drinking is safer, but as long as you’re eating something you know won’t upset your stomach, it can break up the monotony of so many flavoured gel packs. If you do get sick mid-race, stop eating. Slow your pace and keep taking in fluids, and if you’re going to continue, try slowly re-introducing solid food; this is where having a variety of fuels in your grab bag is important – gels, sandwiches, etc.
Drink water if you’re thirsty. Then start taking in calories as soon as possible in a ratio of one part protein to three to four parts carbohydrates. “It’s like if you’re going to build a house, the protein is going to help rebuild the muscle—it’s the lumber and the nails—and the carbohydrates are the construction crew. You need both,” Blende says. Take in protein, but don’t overload – ideally a few hundred grams per day, following the race. Try to get back on your regular training diet within 7-10 days, but understand that your body needs time to rebuild nutritionally, even if you’re used to hard back-to-back training, so play this timetable by ear. Eat whatever you want, but, Blende advises, “the healthier you eat, the better off you’ll be.” Expect to keep losing weight for up to three or four days after the run. You’ll gain it back eating normally while you recover.
Ketogenic Diet Looking for a good way to avoid having to fuel up during the race? The biggest trend in ultra-running nutrition right now, Blende says, is training the fat-burning system to work more efficiently by eliminating all grain carbs from your diet for six to eight weeks during the early training stages. The so-called Schwatka Diet fell out of favour in the early 80s (before it ever really took off, in those pre-ultra times), when researchers found that while a fat-based diet gave you loads of fuel, it also compromised your body’s ability to process carbs for fast-burning activities like sprinting. This made it a non-starter with serious athletes. Recently, athletes and scientists have revisited the concept and many top ultra-athletes use a hybrid mix of a mainly-fat diet, with tactical carb intake the night before a big run or race. The reason being, if through regular training, you can wean your body into running on mainly fat for muscle fuel, the thinking is you already store thousands of calories of fat, meaning you don’t have to worry about carb loading.
steep hill, you might have to walk up it,” Blende says. “If you go above that zone, you will bonk.” After eight weeks, your body should be able to burn fat at higher heart rates, lowering your carb needs during your race. “You’ll run faster and easier without having to take in so many calories, and having to take in calories is the nemesis of an ultrarunner because it can make you sick,” Blende says. Once you do the initial six-to-eightweek period of low-heart-rate, nograin training, you can maintain the results by training that way for two days a week. All Fruit Diet Among ultra-athletes, there’s a few prominent fruitarians out there these days – like current de facto spokesperson for the movement, Mike Arnstein. The logic goes that over time, the human body can be reprogrammed to metabolise sufficient protein even on a fruit diet. While the idea has its backers, it takes serious dedication and is not for everyone as it takes a long time to get going on.
The key is to exercise at a low heart rate where you’re in your “fat burning” zone. “That means if there’s a
Here’s a glimpse of the eating habits of Singaporean ultramarathoner Paviter Singh in the day leading up to a race: Morning: Croissants with Nutella and/or muesli & yoghurt Afternoon: Light lunch, fruits & nuts. Strong coffee & electrolytes Night: Fruits, Dinner of quinoa with chicken & kidney beans Race Morning: Water, breakfast, coffee, additional fluid and protein
Ultramarathons Around the World
Growing ever more popular, ultra marathons are happening across the globe on an almost weekly basis. Here are some of the ultra marathons that you can challenge yourself in, should you be interested.
AUSTRALASIA Oxfam Trailwalker Japan
The Himalayan Crossing
Where: Mt. Adatara, Japan When: 11 Jul 2015 Distance: 100km
Where: Poo, India When: 27 - 31 Jul 2015 Distance: 353km
A team event, the route will start and end off at Dake Onsen in Nihonmatsu-shi, Fukushima Prefecture. This year’s event will take place on Mt. Adatara instead of Mt. Fuji. Instead of running, participants must walk 50km within in 24 hours with 3 other teammates. This event has been held in Japan for 8 years to date.
Going over two of the highest passes, Kunzum and Rohtang, the route extends up to the highest village in Asia, Komic. As there are challenging temperature, rough terrains and tough climb, a runner must have completed two 100km+ races in the past 12 months or any other high altitude events or ultra races to qualify.
You Yangs Trail Running Festival
Most Beautiful Thing Ultra Trail Marathon
Where: Victoria, Australia When: 19 Jul 2015 Distance: 50km & 80km
Where: Sabah, Malaysia When: 29 Aug 2015 Distance: 100km
The route takes runners up Flinders Peak and provide a great view towards Geelong and Port Phillip Bay. Held in the middle of winter, there are shorter routes available for those who wish to challenge the trail but do not want to complete it at an ultra marathon level.
Beginning in the foothills of Mt Kinabalu, the route takes runners through the park and ends in the village of Kundasang. With temperatures ranging from 14ºC - 38ºC s during rainy conditions, runners will have to be accustomed to the weather as well as the difficult terrain for the route.
EUROPE Olympus Mythical Trail
Race to the Stones
Südtirol Ultra Skyrace
Now in its third year, the event - part of Skyrunner - is capped at 150 experienced runners as it required advanced skills due to its high difficulty grade on the demanding technical terrain. The route covers about 7,200m of cumulative elevation gain and will be taking place on Mount Olympus, the famous “Mountain of Gods”.
The route takes runners almost entirely through designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and spans across the Ridgeway – starting from Chilterns in Oxfordshire and ending at North Wessex Downs. It is suitable for everyone from elite runners right down to keen walkers, and can be completed as both non-stop or broken into two days with an overnight stay at a basecamp.
With a difference in altitude of 7,554m, this extreme running race extends through mountainous areas along the high mountain trail of “Hufeisentour”. Requiring sure footing and adaptation to the high altitude, the race is one of the longest and most demanding in South Tyrol.
Where: Litochoro, Greece When: 04 Jul 2015 Distance: 104km
Where: Oxfordshire, England When: 11 Jul 2015 Distance: 100km
Where: Südtirol, Italy When: 24 Jul 2015 Distance: 121km
BATTLE OF THE SKIES
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GERMAN TRADITIONS IN APPENZELL
and the ceremonial ascents and descents of cattle from the mountains for grazing.
Situated in the northeast region of Switzerland, the village of Appenzell (population 7,000) is nestled in a landscape of dramatic rolling hills. This car-free village makes it easy to stroll around and admire the intricate murals; you can also pop by several stores to sample local cuisine, including dried meats and cheese.
In spring, alpine ascents happen early in the morning, while the descents in September reach the town of Appenzell by late afternoon. Herders gather their cattle for a major procession which includes goats, wagons, and ornately costumed children and herdsmen (often accompanied by an Appenzeller mountain dog). Cow bells feature heavily, and the most important job for the 4 herdsmen is to sing and yodel to instruments that are actually played by cows.
Appenzell is famous for namely 2 local customs: their age-old provincial assembly (in April) when votes are cast in the open;
A dense network of hiking trails crisscrosses the Alpstein region, with its 2,500m-high rock formations. Cableways allow for easy access to mountain trails, with highlights including the “Wildkirchli” cave chapel and the incredibly scenic Aescher hostel, both of which dramatically adorn a vertical rock face.
Situated in the heart of Europe, Switzerland’s been a cultural crossroad for millennia. From the first Roman settlers whose Romanche descendants retain their ancient Latin-based language to this day, to the Medieval lakeside vineyards of Montreux in the heart of Swiss-French wine country, to the valleys of the German-speaking Walsers residing in remote mountain villages, to the Swiss-Italians in the far south, Switzerland’s a mélange of 4 distinct cultures. GRAUBÜNDEN BY TRAIN
There may be nothing more culturally “Swiss” than travelling on a mountain train. And Graubünden – arguably Switzerland’s most rugged region – is home to some of the best.
The Rhaetian Bahn, or RhB, runs most trains in Graubünden, from passenger services to the world-famous scenic routes: the Bernina Express and Glacier Express. Both these trains cross the iconic Landwasser viaduct, the 65m high, 6-arched curving limestone viaduct that was amazingly built in just over a year (1901-02). The Glacier Express links the ski resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz in Graubünden, through some stunning backcountry including the UNESCO-listed landscape of the “Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/ Bernina Landscapes” crossing 91 tunnels and 291 bridges over 7.5 hours.
Running from Chur down to Tirano, Italy the Bernina Express is the highest rail line in the Alps. Topping out at Ospizio Bernina (2,253m), it crosses Graubünden’s glacierstrewn back country past the famous Albula (2,315m) and Bernina (2,328m) passes, and through the Domleschg Valley, with its many historic castles and Alp Grüm, the final Romansch-speaking town before descending into Italy. The Bernina’s winding route passes 55 tunnels and nearly 200 bridges, including the Brusio Circular Viaduct – an engineering masterpiece that pushes the train’s climbing power to its limits as the train climbs into the mountains.
WINE TOURS MONTREUX
Nestled along Lake Geneva, the town of Montreux is surrounded by vineyards and set against the backdrop of the snowcapped Alps. This capital of the Vaud Riviera has always been associated with the heyday of the Belle Epoque; today, high-end hotels line the riviera. Montreux is also ideal to explore the UNESCO-listed Lavaux vineyards – a quintessential experience in this French-speaking part of Switzerland. Anyone wishing to try fine Swiss Grand Crus wine can only do so in Switzerland, as only 1-2% of wines are exported.
PHOTOS FROM Switzerland Tourism
The beautiful terraced vineyards can be explored on foot or by rail. The “Train des vignes” (vineyard train), and 2 road trains wind their way across the vineyards.
SWITZERLAND’S DIVERSITY CASTLES IN TICINO
Being the only Italian-speaking canton, Ticino has the feel of Italy, with its palm trees and alleyways that lead to piazzas and churches. Like Italy, it also produces wine, and serves Italian fare. You can also take a bicycle or hike the 800 hectares of terraced vineyards (the largest contiguous vineyard in Switzerland). A 32km-long footpath takes you from Lausanne-Ouchy to Chillon Castle (a magnificent castle that seems to float on the shores of the lake), with 7 circuits that allow you to drop in on a number of wine cellars along the way for some tasting. From Chexbres, it’s a 2-hour walk down to the lakeshore to the medieval village of St. Saphorin, with its narrow alleyways and 16th century winemakers’ houses. For a hands-on experience, a 3-hour tour lets you ‘work’ in the vineyard or cellar, assisting a local winemaker.
Its capital, Bellinzona, was once a very important town for the ancient Romans – so much so that they built not one, but 3 castles to defend it.
Today, the medieval castles – Castelgrande, Castello Montebello and Castello Sasso Corbaro – are a UNESCO site, snaking around the city from their hilly vantage points. Today, only remnants remain of these fortresses. On a hillock in the middle of town sits Castelgrande, with its 2 towers that dominate Bellinzona’s Old Town. The castle complex houses museums and a restaurant, while the fortress wall offers excellent vantage points of the town and vineyards below.
Rising to the east of the city, Castello Montebello is relatively easy to access, and in the past, deep moats were dug to prevent enemies from advancing. It is linked to Castelgrande via the city walls. Corbaro Sasso sits at the highest elevation overlooking the other 2 castles, separate from the fortress wall. Solid and square, this castle houses the 17th century Sala Emma Poglia – an ornate wooden room panelled entirely in walnut.
events take place across the Swiss Alps every summer. These include the Brünigswingit held every July in stunning Brünig Pass in the Bernese Oberland, and the annual Schwägalp Schwinget in the picturesque Säntis mountains in mid-August.
Ranging from yodeling competitions, to marathons, traditional folk wrestling and global music festivals, there’s something for everybody – with some events including hiking, amateur skiing and endurance events often open to the public. Montreux Jazz Festival Founded in 1967, the Montreux Jazz Festival is the world’s second-largest annual jazz event. Held in early July, thousands of fans descend on the scenic lakeside city of Montreux for a fortnight of diverse music, including jazz, soul, rock and more;
Switzerland’s cuisine is made up of 4 distinct cultures (French, German, Italian and Romansch). Visitors are often confounded by the big, regional variety of food and drink on offer in an otherwise geographically small country – a fact that’s mainly due to Switzerland’s rugged landscape and isolated communities (and cuisines).
French Cuisine Cheesy fondue and raclette are probably Switzerland’s most famous foods – and the best-known items in the country’s distinctive French food repertoire. Most of Switzerland’s wine also comes from its temperate French-speaking western regions. Many of these are highly regarded, but little-known outside of the
meanwhile, Ticino hosts its own smaller Lugano Jazz Festivals every June. Wrestling Festivals Named for its swinging action, Switzerland’s unique form of folk wrestling Schwingen or Hoselupf (“breech lifting”) involves fighters throwing each other around a sand-pit, with their distinctive schwingerhosen pants helping them get to grips with their opponent.
Yodeling Dating back centuries, yodeling was originally the best means of communicating between distant villages. Switzerland’s biggest yodeling event is its triennial Eidgenössisches Jodlerfest, which will next be held in 2017 in historic mountain town of Brig-Glis, located in the predominantly German-speaking western part of Valais. Meanwhile, individual clubs nationwide hold smaller Jodlerfest year-round, with events and competitions almost weekly throughout the summer. These are often accompanied by Alphorn performances.
country (98% of Swiss wine is drunk domestically). One of the most distinctive is vin des glaciers, a sweet sherry from the Canton of Valais. Unique for white wines, it’s often aged 15+ years in barrels that are never fully emptied, meaning one glass can contain traces of 100-year old grapes. German Cuisine Apart from famous Swiss chocolate, it’s Swiss-German foods like rösti, Bircher müesli or Alpermagronen that define most people’s concept of Swiss cuisine. Mixing hearty Alpine flavours from across the country’s German-speaking cantons, dishes are often simple, all-in-one meals which suited old-time mountain dwellers.
For drinks, there are a few notable brews like Feldschlösschen, as well as Appenzeller (an alcoholic herbal tonic), and liquors like the famous kirsch (cherry) schnapps from Canton Schwyz. Italian Cuisine Swiss-Italian cuisine is fairly similar to the neighbouring Italian cuisine just south of
It should come as no surprise that in a running activity, the biggest difference in gear is in what goes on your feet. You’re still wanting something lightweight and designed for moving quickly, but you’re also looking for a little more protection and support.
the border, with some of the best-known foods including pizza, or local pastas like pizzocheri, corn-based polenta; although, one uniquely Swiss-Italian items is saffron risotto, made with saffron from Valais. Not surprisingly, Ticino also is home to numerous wineries and viticulture there dates back to the Romans. Today, local Ticino wines have their own DOC appellation with the best-known varieties being local merlots. Despite its small size, Ticino is also home to 15 micro-breweries, with the most widely drunk being the light, local Gottardo lager. Romansch Cuisine While their small population, Romansch cuisine is far less prominent than other types in Switzerland; famous items like Bünder Nusstorte (walnut cake from the Engadine Valley), along with Bündnerfleisch (air-dried meats) hail from the remote Romansch heartland in the Canton of Graubünden, and are well-known across Switzerland.
Ken grew up on the doorstep of the Canadian wilderness, backpacking, paddling and rock climbing in this rugged land. Armed with a degree in recreational studies, he has been working at Canada’s premier outdoor retailer for over 10 years, putting gear to the test whether it’s cycling in -35ºC winters, running marathons or travelling to the far reaches of the planet.
Trail running can be a great way to change up your normal road running routine, a way to cover a lot of ground on a trail quickly and a great to get into the outdoors while staying in shape. The equipment for it is in many ways similar to what you would use for regular road running but there are some key differences.
A shoe with longitudinal and torsional rigidity will mean less twisting and more support for your lower leg muscles. As you move over the uneven terrain that you find on trails, this will help with fatigue and also help you prevent injuries from twists and sprains.
While the most famous wrestling event, the Schwing-und Älplerfest is only held once every three years, smaller schwing
GEAR GUY: Ken Berg
The shoes will usually have a strike plate near the forefoot to provide some protection from sharp rocks and roots. The tread on the shoes should be much more aggressive than your road running shoes as well.
to grab a bottle in a fanny pack or back pack.
You could be on dirt, mud, rock, grass and/or sand. An aggressive tread will allow for stability when you make tight cornering and braking but will allow you to push off with more force in slippery conditions. All of these things will add slightly more weight but are well worth it for the benefits.
You do want something that is made from lightweight materials and stays snug to your back. A running bag isn’t going to see a lot of abrasion so the weight saving is worth it. Because you’re moving fast, having it stay in place is critical for comfort.
Trail runs can be any length you want them to, but due to conditions, you may want to carry a few more things with you than you would when going for a jog around a city park.
I’s more likely that you’re going to see some mud and water when trail running. For this reason it’s a good idea to give extra consideration to a waterproof breathable lining in your shoes. The shoes will be less breathable with the lining, but the chances that your blister situation will be lessened and it will feel much more comfortable especially in cold conditions.
A hydration pack will allow you to carry some much needed water and food but can also give you a spot to throw a change of clothes and/ or a phone in case of emergencies. Most people find having a water bladder makes it easier to drink as they go, as it keeps their hands free and there is less twisting
You can also consider a gaiter. They will provide more protection from water dripping into your shoes and also work great to keep dirt and sand away from your feet.
BEST TIMES TO TRAVEL TO PRICEY DESTINATIONS When it comes to spending money on vacations, budget often dictates the itinerary. Here is a list of some of the most expensive destinations, and tips on when to go for the cheapest rates. Summer season’s often peak season (with higher prices and larger crowds), thanks to school holidays. Oslo, Norway: Fueled by oil money, expect to
pay prices that are nearly 70% higher than the world average. The cheapest time to go (for flights and hotels) is before May and after September (October is best), although May and September has milder weather.
Zurich, Switzerland: Surrounded by scenic
mountains, transport (even public ones) isn’t cheap, but from May to October, you can cycle for free with the Zurich on Wheels programme. Hotels are cheaper in the spring and autumn seasons.
New York, USA: NYC has some of the most expensive mid- to high-end hotel rates in North America. Visit in winter (Jan - Apr) for lower rates, when performing arts seasons reach their peak. Summer may yield good hotel bargains and free alfresco entertainment. Bora Bora, French Polynesia: Bora Bora often comes up tops in terms of pricing for both accommodation and flights. Visit between December and March for better rates on accommodations, including the famous overwater bungalows. Monte Carlo, Monaco: A playground of the rich and royal, it has the world’s highest overall hotel prices – so, visit from October to April for reduced rates. Alternatively, spend the night in nearby Nice for affordable accommodation throughout the year, at just 20 minutes away by train.
© Legend Photography
The town of Rotorua, on the shores of Lake Rotorua, is home to one of New Zealand’s larger Maori tribes. A third of Rotorua’s population is Maori. Rotorua translates as ‘second lake’ – one of 18 sparkling lakes, surrounded by magnificent native forests. This other-worldly volcanic landscape provides a dynamic backdrop to many activities - mountain biking, trout fishing, hot pools, white water rafting, and air adventures. © Chris McLennan
© James Heremaia
the catch in hot sands on a thermal beach. With more than 70km of tracks, Rotorua is also New Zealand’s leading mountainbiking destination. In Whakarewarewa forest, cyclists weave through thick forest past flashes of beautiful lakes, geothermal action and iconic Mt. Tarawera. Te Ara Ahi is a new 74km 2-day cycle trail that follows a gentle gradient through an active thermal landscape.
At Whakarewarewa, a living Maori village in an active geothermal setting, residents still use natural resources for cooking, washing and bathing. Te Puia, a Maori culture centre, has visitor experiences covering traditional artforms, carving and weaving, and Maori story-telling.
Whanganui – pierced by the deep flowing Whanganui River – is a landscape of remote forests and mountains with spiritual, cultural and natural significance. The region’s extensive rainforests provide a safe haven for some of New Zealand’s most endangered native birds including the kiwi and whio (blue duck).
The Rotorua region is an angler’s dream with trout-filled river and lake fishing locations, and the unique option of cooking
The Whanganui region has a long history linking Maori and European culture, and a trip down the Whanganui river is classified
as a ‘Great Journey’ requiring a pass for use of facilities from October to April. Canoe trips led by Maori guides take visitors to two marae (meeting houses) on the river banks where they can stay and participate in cultural traditions. The old Maori pa (fortified village) of Tieke marae is a popular overnight stop for canoeist; when locals are present, visitors receive a powhiri (traditional welcome) onto the land. A famous jet boat ride goes to the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ (accessible only by jetboat, on foot or mountain bike). Constructed in the 1930s to provide access to Mangapurua valley farms, the bridge is the last remnant of settlement. Whanganui has some great short or multiday hiking tracks. The Matemateaonga track – a three to four day 42km hike – travels deep into the Whanganui National Park wilderness via an old Maori trail and early dray road.
© Rob Suisted
New Zealand, one third of which is covered in parks and reserves, is a headline stealer following Peter Jackson’s three-film adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and now The Hobbit Trilogy – and Maori offer a unique way of exploring the country through its people and culture. BAY OF ISLANDS & NORTHLAND
From the white sandy beaches and islands of the Bay of Islands on the east coast, to the glorious sand dunes, pounding surf and kauri forests of the west, the landscape of Northland is a powerful presence. The varied experiences include diving in clear waters at the Poor Knights Island marine reserve, walking and hiking coastal and forest trails, and bird watching on the beach. The Bay of Islands offers swimming with dolphins and big game fishing; further north in Matauri Bay, the Rainbow Warrior shipwreck lies 21m below the surface, acting as an artificial reef and sanctuary for marine life. The ‘birthplace of the nation’, Northland is a place to experience vibrant Maori culture. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is rich in history and stories; the Waitangi Cultural Performance group ‘Te Pitowhenua’ welcomes guests with a spine-tingling challenge outside Te Whare Runanga, the carved meeting house.
There are also guided evening walks by Maori guardians of the area into the Waipoua forest. Local guides introduce visitors to the ancient giant, ‘the lord of the forest’ – a 51m-tall 2,000-year-old kauri tree.
BAY OF PLENTY
The Pacific Coastal Highway travels along 125km of scenic white-sand beaches, and with a mild year-round climate, the Bay of Plenty’s scenic attractions go hand in hand with rich culture. The Pacific Ocean is an endless playground for fishing, diving and wildlife
A MAORI EXPERIENCE IMAGES FROM Tourism New Zealand
© Tim Whittaker
encounters including swimming with some of the 10,000 dolphin pods resident in the region. Just off-shore, White Island/ Whakaari – New Zealand’s only active marine volcano – visitors can see this via helicopter. Modern Kiwi ingenuity has brought the region to the fore as the birthplace of blokart – a three-wheeled, land based yacht that provides a revolutionary speed thrill. At Papamoa Beach, you can have a go at these sail-powered self-drive blokarts. The region traces its Maori heritage back 1,000 years ago when three Maori waka (canoes) arrived in New Zealand. Papamoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park (Te Rae o Papamoa) has 10 ancient village sites that are amongst New Zealand’s oldest. Finish the day with a relaxing soak at Mount Maunganui’s hot salt water pools, under the shadow of Mauao, enjoy a sunset walk, or climb the iconic ‘Mount’.
© Adventure HQ
Taranaki, on the North Island’s rugged west coast, is dominated by Mt Taranaki (2,518m), an almost perfect volcanic cone, and a year-round outdoor destination with more than 300km of walking tracks, winter skiing and snowboarding.
mountain backdrops and historic sites.
Taranaki is the North Island’s mostclimbed and most accessible mountain, located in Egmont National Park where there are many walks and alpine treks on the mountain slopes. The Goblin Forest, showcases a lush rainforest where hanging moss, ferns and gnarled tree trunks create a mystical ambience.
Taranaki boasts some of New Zealand’s best surf, and Surf Highway 45, a scenic coastline road between New Plymouth and Hawera, travels to the top surf spots as well as historic battle zones and hilltop Maori pa sites.
The Forgotten World Highway, New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail, travels ancient Maori trade routes through the region’s pioneering past. This secluded route follows an evolving landscape, with stunning
The Kamahi track is an easy 10-minute nature walk, while the Pouakai circuit is a 3-day trek around the mountain, offering impressive coastal views.
Taranaki is also one of New Zealand’s earliest inhabited areas and was settled by four Maori tribes. Mt. Taranaki is a spiritually important landmark for Maori, and historic Maori pa dotted throughout Taranaki tell stories of the region’s culture and history.
Unique Cultural Homestays
AROUND THE WORLD MONGOLIA
Nomadic ger camps Staying in a ger with a Mongolian family offers the opportunity to experience a traditional way of life, making it an ideal base to explore the country’s incredible landscape on horseback or hiking expeditions. Guests can also help herd sheep, train eagles or prepare dinner (sometimes accompanied by a traditional performance).
One of the most rewarding things about travel is meeting the locals and experiencing their daily lives. The best way to do that is to opt for accommodation options that take you away from the normal creature comforts of a hotel; stay with a local family in a traditional dwelling. While these options aren’t as widely advertised, some grassroots travel operators do provide direct connections (and funding) to these unique homestays.
© Terje Rakke/Nordic life - Visitnorway.com
Dude ranches One of the best ways to explore the American wild west is on horseback, spending the night at a family-run dude ranch. Depending on your riding level, riders can choose between working ranches (involving cattle or sheep operations) and dude ranches which focus on outdoor activities.
Sami lavvu tents For a unique outdoor experience, you can stay in a traditional Sami lavvu (herdsmen’s tent) amidst pristine forest. In winter, you can increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in the wilderness, sleeping in warm sleeping bags made of reindeer hide (no electricity). A husky sledding excursion adds to this classic Sami experience.
Cappadocia cave rooms Famous for its troglodyte dwellings carved out of the rock and cities dug out into the underground, Cappadocia is a unique cultural heritage. Some of these dug-out abodes have become unique accommodation options, ranging from family-run homestays to 5-star hotels. Rooms feature hand-hewn walls, and classic Turkish furnishings.
Bo Kaap neighbourhoods Travelling to Africa need not mean staying at safari camps. In South Africa, there are opportunities to stay in neighbourhoods like colourful Bo Kaap, where visitors can get an authentic view of contemporary South African life. Homestays empower the locals, generating employment and income for this predominantly Muslim community.
Mud hut tribes Rajasthan may be bustling with tourists, but there are opportunities for homestays with local families in their traditional mud huts in the middle of the Thar Desert. Accessible only by a 45-minute camel ride, the village has no electricity or running water, but you do get all meals provided, plus an incredible piece of real estate with no neighbours for miles.
Gassho villages Japan’s historic gassho-zukuri thatched houses feature classic tatami rooms and provide visitors a rare insight into traditional village life. The UNESCOlisted Shirakawa-go and neighbouring Gokayama are home to these gassho villages, where guests can stay with local families for a max of one night per house.
Favelas Travelling to Brazil during the Olympics may pose problems with the shortage of accommodation, however, there are grassroots organisations providing alternatives with family homestays in Rio’s famous favelas. Not only is it cheap, you’ll also get to know the friendly neighbours and volunteer in one of many NGO projects in the hood.
©Gokayama Tourist Office/©JNTO
Coffee fincas One of the largest producers of coffee in the world, Colombia has established a network of accommodation at coffee fincas – traditional estates (haciendas), which look out on lush coffee slopes, interspersed with banana trees and guadua forests. Start off with fresh coffee for breakfast, followed by activities like horse-riding and hiking.
Home to many different cultures through the centuries, Mexico has over 180 Mayan and Aztec archeological ruins. Aztec The Aztec Empire flourished in the 13th century in central Mexico. Today, most of the Aztec sites are located in and around the Valley of Mexico near Mexico City. In fact, the enormous ruins of Tenochtitlan is buried right under the city itself – archeologists uncovered the ruins of the great pyramid (Templo Mayor) under Zocalo Square. Once the capital of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan stood on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco until the ancient lakebed dried up. Teotihuacan, in the highlands northeast of Mexico City, is often touted as one of Mexico’s most important archeological sites. Discovered (and inhabited) by the Aztecs in the 13th century, visitors today can find sacred sites like the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Avenue of the Dead.
From margaritas to sombreros, mariachi bands and tequilas, Mexico is a land of plenty. It’s also an adventureland of thick jungle, snowcapped volcanoes, cactus-dotted deserts and sandy beaches. Adding to it are ancient archeological Mayan sites, colonial-era cities and the bustling metropolis of Mexico City, packing together thousands of years of history. COLONIAL ESCAPADE
Mexico’s colonial cities are ideal for walking – they’re compact, yet architecturally rich and accentuated with blasts of colour. Bustling markets, Baroque cathedrals and architectural museums add to the towns’ historic centres, many of which are UNESCO sites. Puebla Established in 1532, the city of Puebla is nestled among volcanoes along a route that connected port cities like Veracruz. Decorated in bright cobalt blues and yellows, the city’s famous Talavera tiles adorn almost the entire city, capturing aspects of Islamic, Aztec and Art Nouveau design. Querétaro The historic downtown of Querétaro is a World Heritage site, with quiet walkways that link colonial-era parks and plazas. Baroque and Moorish elements fuse dramatically in this city, evident in the city’s spectacular cathedral – the Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbos, which has elements of Mudejar details and a Baroque
Calixtlahuaca is located along the slopes of the Toluca Valley, and is notable for its well-preserved residential areas which are located next to ancient temples and pyramids. In Morelos, the small pyramid of El Tepozteco, built on top of a remote mountain centuries ago, is dedicated to the Aztec god Tepoztecatl, patron of the alcoholic beverage called pulque. Mayan The Mayan civilisation flourished from around 250AD to 900AD, and made a number of notable achievements in astronomy, commemorating them in magnificent works of architecture. Some of the most important Mayan ruins are located in the Yucatan Peninsula. The most important Mayan ruin is Chichén Itzá, the civilisation’s focal point. The site includes traditional Mayan temples, ball courts and an observatory. You can
climb up the steep staircases of Kukulkan Pyramid for an impressive view of the site. Uxmal seems to emerge out of the jungle, and is home to some of Maya’s most unique structures, including the massive Magician’s Pyramid, and the complex system of manmade wells which still mystify scientists today. By far the most impressive of Mexico’s ruins, Palenque (a UNESCO site) is located in the savanna of Chiapas, spectacularly surrounded by dense jungle in a mountain setting. Another breathtaking site is Tulum, located on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, which flourished from 1,200AD until the arrival of the Spanish. Its Temple of Frescoes was once used by the Mayans as an observatory of the sun. Then there’s the ruins of Coba, much of which remains to be excavated. It’s known for its intricate system of ceremonial roads, as well as multiple pyramids (including the tallest in the Yucatan).
CULTURE OF MEXICO interior. For an interesting excursion, the ‘Leyendas’ tour has guides dressed as historical characters. Morelia Located in a high valley (1,950m), Morelia is an elegant town with broad boulevards, genial plazas and expansive views of the countryside. Unlike many other colonial towns, Morelia has 2 main plazas and the city centre is a World Heritage site. Stately 16th- and 17th-century stone buildings with Baroque facades and archways line the narrow streets, home to attractions, cafes, chocolaterías and taquerías. Guanajuato From its chintzy Baroque churches with multi-tiered chandeliers to the richly-upholstered Teatro Juárez, Guanajuato is like a decadent Cubist landscape of narrow cobblestoned alleyways, or callejones. Once a silver mining town, the city is built on hilly ground, meaning the city is almost entirely on a slope. This World Heritage site is unique, thanks to its network of underground tunnels that serve as roads,
and the fact that its official pet is a frog. Cuernavaca The city was established in 1526, by Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés, who built a palace directly on top of an Aztec temple on a hillside that is now the city centre. Today, the vast, gated haciendas and busy streets that snake out from the central plaza, or zócalo, attracting plenty of vacationing cityfolk thanks to its yearround mild climate. The city is a good base to explore archeological sites like Xochicalco and Teopanzolco. Oaxaca Set in a valley flanked with 3 mountains, the vibrant market town of Oaxaca is surrounded by archeological sites and villages, many with their own markets. Its colonial-era buildings from the 16th century have been exquisitely restored, and at covered markets, a mix of Mixtec and Zapotec are heard alongside Spanish. There are also good hiking, riding and cycling trips to be had in the surrounding countryside.
Mexico is famous for its colourful fiestas and events, ranging from the traditional to the quirky, like the Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) in Oaxaca. On 23 December, locals compete with each other to carve the most intricate radishes, with motifs including the nativity scene, Mayan imagery and mission-style architectures.
Probably the most famous fiesta is the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead (November 1 & 2), when Mexico turns its thoughts to the departed. This colourful tradition is rooted in indigenous culture, and is more of a celebration than mourning. The most familiar symbol are the calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls) that appear everywhere – in sweets, as parade masks, as dolls. In Mexico City, the mariachi square is host to Fiesta de Santa Cecilia (patron saint of musicians) on November 22. Mariachis and other musicians descend on the plaza in an open-air party involving music, drink and song. In colonial Zacatecas, the festival of La Morisma (August) involves a mock battle with over 2,000 participants
re-enacting battles between Christians and Moors in old Spain. While not a fiesta per se, Mexico is famous for Lucha Libre (free fight), or masked wrestling. The best way to watch a match in person is in historic Arena México, the holy temple of Luchadores, with matches happening on Friday nights.
SPORTS+TRAVEL: OUTFITTERS SECTION
EVENTS: UPCOMING RACES JULY 2015 Mizuno Ekiden 2015
A charity run with 100% proceeds going to Bright Hill Evergreen Home. www.frost-apac.com/FTT
21.1km, 42.195km | 18 Jul, 6am | Gardens by the Bay | Registration: $200 - $260 A run for groups of fours, with a focus on Japanese values such as team work, performance and perseverance. www.mizunoekiden.sg
Tri-Factor Triathlon 2015
Orange Ribbon Run 2015: Race Against Racism
1.5km, 5km, 10km | 25 Jul, 6am | East Coast Park | Registration: $69 - $229 Starting with a swimming event, followed by a cycling and the run, participants can also enter the relay as teams of threes. www.singaporetriathlon.sg
AUGUST 2015 Asics City Relay Singapore 2015
42km | 1 Aug, 6pm | Singapore National Stadium | Registration: $210 - $290 The first night relay race around Singapore. www.cityrelay.com.sg
2XU Compression Run 2015
5km, 10km, 21km | 2 Aug, 4.30am | Gardens by the Bay | Registration: $50 - $70 A competitive run around Singaporeâ€™s bay area. www.2xucompressionrun.com.sg
Frost The Trail 2015
5km, 10km | 22 Aug, 7.15am | MacRitchie Park | Registration: $125 (solo) - $500 (corporate teams)
12km, 25km, 51km | 23 Aug | East Coast Park | Registration: $139.90 - $217.90 The fourth leg of the 4-leg series, the triathlon segment. www.trifactor.sg 3.5km, 5km, 10km | 29 Aug, 4pm | Marina Bay Sands | Registration: $5 - $38 A fun walk/run to bring awareness to racism. www.raceagainstracism.sg
SEPTEMBER 2015 Craze Ultra 100 Miles
43km, 78km, 101km, 100 Miles | 5 Sep, 7am | MacRitchie Reservoir | Registration: $55 - $420 It will be an out-and-back course along Park Connectors & footpaths. www.crazeultranuts.com
Safra Celebration Run & Ride
5km | 13 Sep, 7am | Resort World at Sentosa | Registration: $15 - $110 A first of its kind running event with thrilling rides. www.safra.sg/celebration
Race Against Cancer 2015
5km, 10km, 15km | 13 Sep, 7am | East Coast Park | Registration: $29 - $59 A run to raise funds for cancer treatments and research. www.raceagainstcancer.org.sg