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SOUTHEAST ASIA

MAY 2008

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Dream trips

Where to get away from it all

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Haute Hanoi

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BALI CAMBODIA THAILAND AFRICA SPAIN SICILY

7 stunning style ideas for spring

Airport Survival Guide

Trends, maps, shopping: what you need to know

travelandleisuresea.com SINGAPORE SG$6.90 ● HONG KONG HK$39 THAILAND THB160 ● INDONESIA IDR45,000 MALAYSIA MYR15 ● VIETNAM VND80,000 MACAU MOP40 ● PHILIPPINES PHP220 BURMA MMK32 ● CAMBODIA KHR20,000 BRUNEI BND6.90 ● LAOS LAK48,000


(Destinations)05.08 Sicily 133

Angkor 88 San Francisco 110

Boracay 96 Khao Lak 77

Sydney 134

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Issue Index Thailand 30, 56, 77, 128 Vietnam 46, 68

AUSTRALIA Sydney 134

ASIA China 22, 27 India 26, 132 Japan 40 Korea 27

THE AMERICAS Atacama, Chile 133 British Virgin Islands 130 Los Angeles 48 Maine 132 San Francisco 110

EUROPE Andalusia, Spain 124 France 125, 129 Sicily 133 AFRICA South Africa 126

Currency Converter Singapore Hong Kong Thailand Indonesia Malaysia Vietnam Macau Philippines Burma Cambodia Brunei Laos US ($1)

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Source: www.xe.com (exchange rates at press time).

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SOUTHEAST ASIA Bali 47, 125 Burma 22 Cambodia 27, 88, 129 Hong Kong 26, 31, 36, 40, 54 Indonesia 22 Malaysia 26, 33, 46, 144 Philippines 46, 52, 96 Singapore 26, 32, 42, 44


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(Contents)05.08 >96 White Beach on Boracay, in the Philippines.

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Shifting Sands Even after all these years, Boracay still retains the laid-back charm that made it one of the region’s consummate getaways. By CHRIS KUCWAY. Photographed by EMILY NATHAN. GUIDE AND MAP 109

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110 Designed for Living San Francisco is green, clean and organic—the architecture is hightech and eco-friendly. Is it the world’s first 21st-century city? By KARRIE JACOBS. Photographed by AMANDA MARSALIS. GUIDE AND MAP 121

122 16 Dream Trips Whether it’s driving through Andalusia or sailing the waters of the British

M AY 2 0 0 8| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

Virgin Islands, T+L offers romantic itineraries and ideas guaranteed to help you get away from it all. 134 Sydney, Asia Where should you go to experience the flavors of the Far East? Down Under. PETER JON LINDBERG puts his palate to work at noisy dim sum palaces, sushi temples, Thai restaurants and more. Photographed by HUGH STEWART. GUIDE AND MAP 143

E M I LY N A T H A N

95-134 Features


(Contents)05.08

SOUTHEAST ASIA

MAY 2008

16 Dream trips

Where to get away from it all

*

+

Haute Hanoi 7 stunning style ideas for spring

Departments 16 20 22 24 26 28 144

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BALI CAMBODIA THAILAND AFRICA SPAIN SICILY

Airport Survival Guide

Trends, maps, shopping: what you need to know

Editor’s Note Contributors Letters Ask T+L Best Deals Strategies My Favorite Place

travelandleisuresea.com SINGAPORE SG$6.90 ● HONG KONG HK$39 THAILAND THB160 ● INDONESIA IDR45,000 MALAYSIA MYR15 ● VIETNAM VND80,000 MACAU MOP40 ● PHILIPPINES PHP220 BURMA MMK32 ● CAMBODIA KHR20,000 BRUNEI BND6.90 ● LAOS LAK48,000

Cover At Hoam Kien Lake, Hanoi. Photographed by Nat Prakobsantisuk. Styled by Araya Indra. Make-up and hair by Tran Van Da. Model: Dinh Lan Phuong/ AREA Management. Oneshoulder dress by Christian Dior; reversible coat by MaxMara; sunglasses by Marni.

> 48 > 66 > 84

59–68 Stylish Traveler 59 Urban Legend

The right stuff to wear on your next city adventure. 63 Icon

36 NewsFlash

Disappearing destinations, cruising with Nobu, heavenly hamburgers and more. 44 Bring It Back

65 Must-Haves

13 classic timepieces for him and her. 66 Spotlight

Jewelry designers find their inspiration through travel. BY RIMA SUQI 68 Fashion

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is the backdrop for these hot spring fashions.

Finding your way among antique maps. BY CHRISTOPHER R. COX 46 Check-in

Spend time on shore and on the open seas. BY SANA BUTLER 48 Eat

Cupcakes by the dozen in Los Angeles. BY HEATHER SMITH 52 Where to Go Next

Visit the stomping ground of an ex-president. BY JESSICA ZAFRA 54 Preservation

Hong Kong starts to protect its heritage—at last. BY CHRIS KUCWAY 56 Neighborhood

Bangkok’s trendy Ari district serves it up. BY NAPAMON ROONGWITOO 14

> 59

77–88 T+L Journal 77 Dispatch

Resilient locals lead a posttsunami revival on the Thai beach resort of Khao Lak. BY ADAM SKOLNICK 84 Adventure

Luxury now awaits travelers in the most unlikely places thanks to some upmarket resorts. BY SHANE MITCHELL 88 Portfolio

The “other” temples of magnificent Angkor at their evocative best. PHOTOGRAPHED BY PALANI MOHAN

F R O M T O P : J O H N L AW T O N ; N I C O L E S C H I L I T; A R T H U R B E L E B E A U . I L L U S T R AT I O N BY J E A N - P H I L I P P E D E L H O M M E

35–56 Insider

A modern take on the traditional steamer trunk.


(Editor’s Note) 05.08

T

RAVEL , THEY SAY, is as much about the journey as it is

about the destination—and therein lies the rub. These days, journeys more often than not involve air travel, something many travelers—other than those who can afford business or first class—look upon with dread. Not only do we have to contend with red-eyed wake-up calls and hastily arranged taxis, we have to negotiate the airport itself, with all the attendant waiting, wandering and queuing. But not all airports are created equal, so in this issue we’ve devoted six pages in our Strategies section (page 28) to a guide covering KLIA, Singapore’s Changi, Hong Kong International Airport and the controversial Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok. The good news is that, other than Suvarnabhumi, the most recent SkyTrax poll—considered the defi nitive guide to such things—rated these airports among the top five in the world. Also in this issue, writer Adam Skolnick visits Khao Lak, which was devastated by the 2004 Asian tsunami (“Paradise Rebuilt,” page 77). In Thailand, Khao Lak took the hardest hit, with the loss of more than 4,000 lives. But our story fi nds a resilient community that pulled together and rebuilt one of Thailand’s most appealing destinations. I also hope you enjoy our photo essay (“The Other Angkor,” page 88). Most travelers don’t realize that as well as the magnificent— and overrun—Angkor Wat, there are more than 1,000 temples in the sprawling complex. It is a place that not only evokes the feeling of a once-great kingdom, but which is also home to scores of Cambodians. The result is a striking mix of the ancient, the mysterious and the day-to-day lives of local people. Lastly, I’d like to thank all who attended our launch party at Thailand’s Alila Cha-Am time was had by all, as I think you’ll see on the opposite page!—MATT LEPPARD TRAVEL + L EISURE EDITORS, WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE THE INDUSTRY’S MOST RELIABLE SOURCES. WHILE ON ASSIGNMENT, THEY TRAVEL INCOGNITO WHENEVER POSSIBLE AND DO NOT TAKE PRESS TRIPS OR ACCEPT FREE TRAVEL OF ANY KIND.

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M AY 2 0 0 8| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

C H E N P O VA N O N T

resort, held in association with American Express Platinum Journeys. A fabulous


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EDITOR-AT-LARGE ART DIRECTOR FEATURES EDITORS

ASSISTANT EDITOR EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Matt Leppard Paul Ehrlich Fah Sakharet Jennifer Chen Phil Macdonald Ellie Brannan Wannapha Nawayon Napamon Roongwitoo Wasinee Chantakorn

CHAIRMAN PRESIDENT PUBLISHING DIRECTOR

J.S. Uberoi Egasith Chotpakditrakul Rasina Uberoi

DESIGNERS

PUBLISHER VICE PRESIDENT / ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGERS CONSULTANT, HONG KONG/MACAU CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER PRODUCTION MANAGER PRODUCTION

GROUP CIRCULATION MANAGER

Robert Fernhout Lucas W. Krump Michael K. Hirsch Kin Kamarulzaman Shea Stanley Gaurav Kumar Kanda Thanakornwongskul Yupadee Sae-Bae Supalak Krewsasaen Arisa Kasempun Porames Chinwongs

AMERICAN EXPRESS PUBLISHING CORPORATION PRESIDENT/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR VICE PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, STRATEGIC INSIGHTS, MARKETING & SALES EXECUTIVE EDITOR, INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS ASSOCIATE, INTERNATIONAL

Ed Kelly Mark V. Stanich Paul B. Francis Nancy Novogrod Jean-Paul Kyrillos Cara S. David Mark Orwoll Thomas D. Storms Lawrence Chesler

TRAVEL+LEISURE SOUTHEAST ASIA VOL. 2, ISSUE 5 Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia is published monthly by Media Transasia Limited, Room 1205-06, 12/F, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2851-6963; Fax: +852 2851-1933; under license from American Express Publishing Corporation, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Produced and distributed by Media Transasia Thailand Ltd., 14th Floor, Ocean Tower II, 75/8 Soi Sukhumvit 19, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoeynue, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand. Tel: +66 2 204-2370. Printed by Comform Co., Ltd. (+66 2 368-2942–7). Color separation by Classic Scan Co., Ltd. (+66 2 291-7575).

This edition is published by permission of AMERICAN EXPRESS PUBLISHING CORPORATION 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, United States of America. Reproduction in whole or in part without the consent of the copyright owner is prohibited. © Media Transasia Thailand Ltd. in respect of the published edition.

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A view from the observation deck of the De Young Museum, in Golden Gate Park.

(Contributors) 05.08

Adam Skolnick “Yes, the diving is magnificent

Emily Nathan Despite tales of over-development,

Innovators have always found a home in San Francisco and now everyone’s energy is focused on sustainability,” says T+L contributing editor and former San Francisco resident Karrie Jacobs, who wrote “Designed for Living” (page 110). “Residents enjoy high-tech architecture and the freshest food—the best life imaginable in my opinion—while still maintaining their green credentials.” Photographer Amanda Marsalis, who grew up in the East Bay area of the city, predicts that this eco-centric attitude is not just a passing trend. San Franciscans respect their environment and its beauty. They want to leave it cleaner than they found it. Marsalis shoots for Food & Wine and W. Jacobs’s book, The Perfect $100,000 House (Penguin) is now in paperback.

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photographer Nathan was pleasantly surprised to find Boracay a mellow place, with tourists and “super-sweet” locals alike hanging out island style (“Shifting Sands,” page 96). Though she has been on beaches all over the world, Nathan says, “the sand on White Beach was the nicest I have ever experienced.” Nathan’s work has appeared in Gourmet, Travel + Leisure Golf and Departures. Palani Mohan “I’ve shot Angkor many times, but this assignment allowed me to see it from a different light. It was like looking at a familiar photograph, but from a completely new angle.” Kuala Lumpur– based Mohan returned to Angkor to shoot the lesserknown temples of the complex (“The Other Angkor,” page 88). His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times and Forbes. His photographs also appear in his book, Vanishing Giants: Elephants of Asia.

Jessica Zafra “I’m from the generation of Filipinos known as ‘martial law babies’—for the first two decades of my life Marcos was the only president I knew. So my visit to Ilocos Norte (“Where to Go Next,” page 52)— Marcos’s bailiwick—was a strange nostalgia trip,” she says. A newspaper columnist and talk show host in Manila, Zafra has published several collections of her columns.

M AY 2 0 0 8 | T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

L E F T C O L U M N , F R O M FA R L E F T : C O U R T E SY O F K A R R I E J A C O B S ; A M A N D A M A R S A L I S ; C O U R T E SY O F A M A N D A M A R S A L I S . R I G H T C O L U M N , F R O M T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F A D A M S K O L N I C K ; C O U R T E S Y O F E M I LY N A T H A N ; C O U R T E S Y O F P A L A N I M O H A N ; C O U R T E S Y O F J E S S I C A Z A F R A

and the beaches are beautiful, but the people of Khao Lak are the story,” says Skolnick, who writes about this southern Thailand beach resort’s posttsunami redevelopment in “Paradise Rebuilt” (page 77). Skolnick, co-author of the new edition of Lonely Planet’s Southeast Asia on a Shoestring, splits his time between Los Angeles and Southeast Asia. His work has also appeared in Men’s Health and Outside.

Left: Karrie Jacobs. Right: Amanda Marsalis.


(Letters)05.08 LETTER OF THE MONTH t+l journal | dispatch

Travelers’ Dilemma It’s a country of golden beaches, ancient temples and jungle-clad mountains, but run by a brutal dictatorship—leading to calls for a tourism boycott. By EMMA LARKIN. Photographed by JEREMY HORNER BURMA

Burmese Days Above: A young Burmese girl on the terrace of Gawdawpalin Temple, in the ancient city of Pagan, a popular tourist site. Below: A cyclo driver in Mandalay takes a break from pedaling. Mandalay is a major destination along Burma’s tourist trail.

A socialist-style mural in Rangoon idealizes life in Burma, a country suffering under the yoke of a repressive military junta. AM LYING ON NGAPALI BEACH in Burma, digging my toes into powder-fine sand and feeling incredibly guilty. Technically, I should feel wonderful; I’m on holiday and I’m on one of Southeast Asia’s most unspoiled coastlines. The beach is almost empty and a tropical sun is burning bright. Behind me, a thick forest of palms sways in a breeze off the Bay of Bengal. In front of me, waves crash onto the shore, obscuring the horizon in a fine mist of sea spray. It is an idyllic setting. Yet I cannot shake the niggling feeling that I should not be here and, more than that, I should not be enjoying myself. Choosing Burma as a holiday destination is a controversial decision. The country is ruled by a military dictatorship with an atrocious record of human rights abuses. In September last year, Burma made worldwide headlines when thousands of Buddhist monks in the former capital of Rangoon, and in other cities and towns across the country, marched in protest

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against the regime. The response of the military junta’s generals was swift and thuggish: armed soldiers were deployed to ruthlessly restore order. Thousands of monks and laypeople were arrested and it is still unknown how many were killed when the soldiers fired into the crowds. For years, a widespread tourism boycott, backed by the British government and the European Union, has called on holidaymakers not to go to Burma, where tourist dollars can contribute to supporting this brutal regime. For tour operators and travelers in search of something new, however, Burma is an ideal destination. The country has everything you could want from a Southeast Asian holiday: there are unspoiled beaches and islands, ancient temple ruins, beautiful mountain ranges and exotic hill tribes. Tourist brochures tout a visit as a magical experience that is like stepping back in time to a place where people still wear traditional dress and there’s not a Starbucks in sight. »

MARCH 2008| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

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The Burma Debate

I was interested to read the Burma article in your March edition [“Travelers’ Dilemma”] as well as the accompanying editorial note. While I agree that this is an especially sensitive and complex issue, I’d also like to point out that there is a compelling argument for traveling to Burma—that is, that isolationism hasn’t worked and that tourism opens up the country to the very people that could help bring about change. This view is echoed by the Free Burma Coalition Mission (www. freeburmacoalition.org), which recently changed its stance from arguing for a boycott to encouraging responsible tourism. —R E B E C C A

L I M , H O N G KO N G

Beijing Redux Thanks so much for your stories on Beijing in the run-up to the Olympic Games [“Beijing Rebuilt,” February 2008; “When you’re in... Beijing,” April 2008]. As someone who frequently

travels to Beijing on business, I’m always on the lookout for interesting things to do and see in the city, which, as a non-Mandarin speaker, can be pretty daunting to do on one’s own. So it’s always great to get real insider tips. I hope you continue covering China in your future issues. It’s such a fascinating, complex country that feels like it’s changing every day, and I know there’s much of it left to discover for visitors such as myself. —JA S O N M I L L S , S I N G A P O R E Deeply Missed What a joy it was to read your deep-sea water article [“The Big Deep,” February 2008] in your spas special issue. Not only was the story an entertaining take on what’s new in wellness tourism, it was also a fitting tribute to the late Shu Uemura. Clearly, the man was a visionary in more ways than one and he’ll be sadly missed. —S A R A H S C H A F F E R , BA N G KO K Jakarta’s Art Scene It was wonderful to see someone cover contemporary Indonesian art [“In the Picture,” January 2008] with the attention and seriousness it deserves. Indonesia has some of the richest artistic traditions in the region and young artists such as Rudi Mantofani are producing some truly exciting work. Jason Tedjasukmana did an excellent job explaining the ins and outs what’s going on in the art world, and I look forward to seeing more articles like this in the future. —S O L E DA D RU I Z , H O N G KO N G

E-MAIL T+L SEND YOUR LETTERS TO TLEDITOR @ MEDIATRANSASIA.COM AND LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON RECENT STORIES OR NEW PLACES TO VISIT. LETTERS CHOSEN MAY BE EDITED FOR CLARITY AND SPACE. THE LETTER OF THE MONTH RECEIVES A FREE ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION TO TRAVEL + LEISURE (SOUTHEAST ASIA ONLY). READER OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN LETTERS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THOSE OF TRAVEL + LEISURE SOUTHEAST ASIA, MEDIA TRANSASIA LTD., OR AMERICAN EXPRESS PUBLISHING.


WHAT’S THE BEST WAY OF AVOIDING LOST LUGGAGE? —TERRENCE LOH, HONG KONG

A:

Here are some simple steps you can take to prevent lost luggage: (1) Nearly everyone has a black suitcase. Choose something colorful and easier to spot. (2) Checkin early. If you’re dashing for your plane, your bag might not catch up. (3) Fly non-stop—connections often result in lost luggage. (4) Upgrade to business. Unfortunately not all bags are treated equally. (5) Put your contact information and your itinerary into an outside pocket as well as inside your suitcase. That way, if your tag falls off, there’s another way to identify your bag. (6) Remove old baggage tags so airline personnel don’t get confused. (7) Buy lostluggage insurance, or use a credit card that gives you some protection when purchasing your ticket.

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navigational system, and you should follow the instructions of the cabin you help? crew at all times. For those who want to keep in touch while flying, Emirates —SELINA TAY, KUALA LUMPUR recently announced that it is offering Last year, Southeast Asia’s major mobile phone and text messaging airports—HKIA, KLIA, Changi and Suvarnabhumi—introduced regulations services following successful trials, while concerning liquids, gels and aerosols in Australia’s Qantas will introduce text hand-carried luggage. You’re allowed to messaging services on domestic flights bring a limited selection of these items, in the near future. Many other carriers can be expected to follow suit. as long as they are in 100-milliliter containers and can all fit comfortably in a 1-liter resealable plastic bag In which Southeast Asian countries can I hire a car and what are the (medications, baby food and special dietary foods are exempt). You can also considerations? bring duty-free on board, but that —PHIL PETERSON, SYDNEY needs to be in a tamper-evident bag You can hire a car in most Southeast (think CSI) with the receipt stapled on. Asian countries. While regulations vary Duty-free items are also only allowed from country to country—and, indeed, on board if they’re from airports with within countries—you will almost the same security measures. But the definitely need a valid license from your enforcement of these rules varies country of origin and possibly an widely: we’ve been waved through international license. You should also security at some regional airports know your insurance status, risks and numerous times because staff was liabilities. Also, when planning a preoccupied with unwieldy queues. vacation, bear in mind that traffic and road conditions vary greatly. In Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, it’s Do electronic devices really interfere better to hire a driver along with the with airplane navigation systems? car (most hotels offer this service), —SOMSAK PREECHANOON, CHIANG MAI While there is no smoking gun—that is, which probably won’t set you back no definitive instance of an air accident much more than hiring a car. In Thailand and Malaysia—where roads known to have been caused by a passenger using electronic devices such are in better condition—hiring a car for trips into the countryside can be as mobile phones and devices that can enjoyable, but in Indonesia and the send or receive e-mail or text Philippines, such an option should be messages—there is always a potential risk. It’s impossible to rule out that such considered carefully as roads are not always in good condition and drivers use has contributed to air accidents in the past by interfering with an airline’s can be less than qualified. ✚ I’m confused about what I can and cannot bring onboard planes. Can

M AY 2 0 0 8| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

E-MAIL T+L SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO TLEDITOR @ MEDIATRANSASIA.COM. QUESTIONS CHOSEN FOR PUBLICATION MAY BE EDITED FOR CLARITY AND SPACE .

I L L U S T R AT E D BY WA S I N E E C H A N TA KO R N

Q:

(Ask T+L)05.08


(Best Deals) 05.08

The pool at Hotel Imperial.

Escape the rat race. Here are 11 great getaway ideas for you ■ MALAYSIA Suite Luxury at Hotel Imperial Kuala Lumpur (60-3/2717-9900; www.luxury collection.com/kualalumpur). What’s Included Reduced rates; strawberries and chocolates on arrival; a 50-minute aromatherapy massage for two people. Cost From RM699 per night, double, through June 30. Savings Up to 53 percent. Romantic Escape package at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa (60-4/960-8888; www.westin.com). What’s Included Reduced rates for a deluxe ocean view room; breakfast; one private BBQ dinner; a bottle of sparkling wine and homemade chocolate upon arrival; and an in-room “renewal” bath upon arrival. Cost RM1,288 per night, minimum three-night stay, double, through December 19. Savings Up to 20 percent. ■ HONG KONG i-rate package at The Luxe Manor (852/3763-8880; www.theluxemanor.com). What’s Included Reduced rates; breakfast; free Wi-Fi; and free local phone calls. Cost 26

From HK$1,000, double, through December 31. Savings Up to 55 percent. Weekend Pleasures package at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong (852/2820-8329; www.shangri-la.com/island). What’s Included Reduced rates; daily fruit plate; welcome Chinese tea; complimentary local calls; late check-out at 6 p.m.; mileage credit from partner airlines per stay; and HK$500 daily credit. Cost From HK$2,900 per night (for arrivals on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only), double, through December 31. Savings Up to 30 percent.

SINGAPORE Arts & Entertainment package at the Conrad Centennial Singapore (65/6334-8888; www. conradhotels.com). What’s Included Two nights’ accommodation; two concert tickets to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra or a bottle of Taittinger; a 30-minute ride on the Singapore Flyer for two people; S$20 daily laundry allowance; 15 percent off on food and beverage; and late check-out till 3 p.m. Cost From S$350 per night, double, through September 30. Savings Up to 30 percent. The lobby at the Conrad Centennial.

■ INDIA Weekend Offer package at Le Royal Méridien Mumbai (91-22/2838-0000; www.starwoodhotels.com). What’s Included Reduced rates; breakfast; a gift voucher for a massage at the Esprit Health Club; two-forone offer at the bar during happy hour; and one-hour Internet usage in your room. Cost From INR13,000 per night, double, through August 31. Savings Up to 25 percent.

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F RO M TO P : CO U RT ESY O F H OT E L I M P E R I A L KUA L A LU M P U R ; CO U RT ESY O F T H E CO N RA D C E N T E N N I A L S I N GA P O R E

DEAL OF THE MONTH


L E F T: CO U RT ESY O F C H I N A WO R L D H OT E L . R I G H T: CO U RT ESY O F T H E S H I L L A J E J U

■ CAMBODIA Exclusive offer to T+L Southeast Asia readers at Hotel Be Angkor in Siem Reap (8556/396-5321; www.hotelbeangkor.com). What’s Included Reduced rates in a terrace suite and breakfast. Cost US$95 per night, double, through June 30. Savings Up to 35 percent.

The lobby at China World Hotel.

Outside The

■ THAILAND Shilla Jeju. Exclusive offer to T+L Southeast Asia readers at Aleenta Hua Hin and Aleenta Phuket (66-2/508-5333; www.aleenta.com). What’s Included Reduced rates in a suite; breakfast; a choice of yoga, tai chi or kickboxing class; a dinner for two; and a 60minute massage per person. Cost US$600 per night, double at Aleenta Hua Hin; US$900 per night, double at Aleenta Phuket, through July 31. Savings Up to 45 percent. Oriental Escape package at the Sheraton Pattaya Resort (66-38/259-888; www. sheraton.com). What’s Included Two-night stay in a deluxe pavilion; breakfast; free Internet; one candlelit dinner; and two 30-minute massages. Cost Bt24,000, double, through October 31. Savings Up to 20 percent. ■ CHINA Beijing Indulgence package at China World Hotel (86-10/6505-2266; www.shangri-la.com). What’s Included Reduced rates in an executive suite; a Beijing duck dinner; a traditional Chinese massage; a complimentary

bottle of wine; evening cocktails; and use of a hotel limousine. Cost RMB2,888 per night, minimum two-night stay, double, through July 15. Savings Up to 34 percent. ■ KOREA Luxury Guerlain Spa & Suite package at The Shilla Jeju (82-64/735-5114; www. shilla.net). What’s Included Reduced rates; breakfast; a 90-minute spa treatment for two; evening drinks; and free mobile phone rental. Cost From US$694 per night, double, through December 31. Savings Up to 45 percent.—N A PA M O N RO O N G W I TO O


BY THE NUMBERS

Average waits at immigration Suvarnabhumi 9 minutes HKIA 5 minutes Changi 5 minutes KLIA 4 minutes

Ready for Takeoff Clockwise from top left: Peak hours at HKIA; Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport; inside Changi’s new Terminal 3; KLIA’s exterior.

Average waits at check-in Suvarnabhumi 14 minutes HKIA 11 minutes Changi 10 minutes KLIA 9 minutes Average waits for taxis Suvarnabhumi 7 minutes HKIA 7 minutes Changi 5 minutes KLIA 5 minutes Average waits at security Suvarnabhumi 7–8 minutes HKIA 5–6 minutes Changi 4–5 minutes KLIA 3–4 minutes Average baggage delivery times for economy Suvarnabhumi 28 minutes HKIA 23 minutes Changi 20 minutes KLIA 21 minutes

Southeast Asia’s Airports Consistently rated among the world’s top airports, the region’s travel hubs are stepping up their game. JENNIFER CHEN investigates what’s in store. PLUS: In-depth airport guides OMEDAY IN THE FUTURE—if

we’re lucky—all airports will resemble Singapore Changi Airport’s recently opened Terminal 3. Costing US$1.2 billion, the seven-story building sprawls over 380,000 square meters and is able to handle 22 million passengers. The array of facilities and services is dizzying: a movie theater, 198 free Internet

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stations, a supermarket, a children’s play area, a pay-per-use transit lounge, a transit hotel, a mall that’s open to the public, a spa, koi ponds, TV lounges, a nap corner, and countless food and shopping options including a microbrewery, an Apple store and a French bistro. But it’s not the terminal’s size nor the innumerable ways you can kill time while

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Total passengers in 2007 Suvarnabhumi 42 million HKIA 47.8 million Changi 37 million KLIA 26.45 million Inside Suvarnabhumi.

Source: Skytrax

Guide to

L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F A I R P O R T S O F T H A I L A N D . C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F A I R P O R T A U T H O R I T Y H O N G K O N G ; C O U R T E S Y O F A I R P O R T S O F T H A I L A N D : C O U R T E S Y O F C I V I L AV I AT I O N A U T H O R I T Y O F S I N G A P O R E ; C O U R T E S Y O F M A L AY S I A A I R P O R T S H O L D I N G S B H D

(Strategies) 05.08


air travel | strategies waiting for your flight that make it so impressive. It’s the fact that this latest addition to Changi still manages to retain the airport’s soothingly hushed atmosphere. Walk into the departure hall, and a sense of calm washes over you, no small task in these times of increasingly stressful air travel. Maybe it’s the wood-paneled columns that support the lofty ceiling. Or the natural light that comes pouring through the building’s more than 900 skylights. Or the eco-friendly airconditioning units that keep you cool. Or the murmuring of the waterfalls that grace the building’s “Greenwall”—a 200meter-long, five-story expanse covered with creepers and other tropical fauna. Or the complex way that the airport’s architects, engineers and officials have figured out how to make all of Changi never seem packed—despite the churn of 37 million passengers last year—by studying crowd behavior and flow. Maybe it’s all of these factors. Whatever it is, during a tour of the terminal, I begin to seriously calculate whether it’s worth transiting through Changi next time I have to go on a long-haul flight. Unfortunately, to get to this Eden-like vision of air travel, I have to start my journey in Bangkok’s ulcer-inducing international gateway. Unveiled in September 2006, Bangkok’s US$3 billion Suvarnabhumi airport notoriously got off on a rocky start—kinks in the baggage handling system, reported cracks in the taxiways, inadequate washrooms—and though it’s starting to right itself, it’s still a far cry from Changi. You have to brace yourself for the endless lines at check-in, immigration and security; the crowds; and the inevitably long trek to the gate past endless duty-free shops (where public seating areas ought to be). A recent trip left me feeling depleted from the get-go. Twenty or so mainland Chinese tourists, all with luggage carts, parked right in front of the departures board. The din was deafening as other travelers tried to squeeze past the group.

At immigration, the lines snaked beyond the designated waiting area, choking the entrance. I wasn’t even checked in yet, and my stress levels were soaring. Plenty of others grit their teeth on their way through Suvarnabhumi. “Passengers do have preferred airports, perhaps one or two airports where the experience is better, easier, cleaner. That’s where Suvarnabhumi really lets itself down,” says Peter Miller, the director of marketing for SkyTrax, a U.K.-based airline industry research firm that conducts annual surveys on the world’s airports. Happily, Southeast Asia’s other major air hubs—Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), numbers one and five, respectively, in the most recent SkyTrax poll (Changi tied for second place)—fall firmly on the side of progress. With passenger traffic in Asia expected to climb to 87 million by 2011, competition is seriously heating up and airports in Asia can’t afford to fall behind, says John Koldowski, managing director of the Strategic Intelligence Centre at the Pacific Asia Travel Association in Bangkok: “There’s too much to gain or lose. There’s so much pressure to make a profit that people are really looking at who does it best and what they can learn from them.” All this is good news for travelers. Thanks to their rivalry, the region’s airports—with the exception of Suvarnabhumi—have all built well ahead of capacity (for instance, HKIA saw 47.8 million passengers last year, though it can process 70 million per year). That means there’s little risk of the chronic congestion and delays that plague U.S. and European airports. And though the bottom line means attracting more airlines, airports want to keep passengers happy, so expect better food options and more services such as lounges, spas and hotels. “There’s going to be a great deal more offered to passengers,” predicts Koldowski. »

Future Plans ✈ Suvarnabhumi Officials have pledged to get Bangkok’s international airport into the world’s top 10 by 2009 (it ranked 46 in the latest Skytrax poll). To meet this goal, they plan to invest in dozens more public toilets, better signage and more service training for staff. Travelers should also expect an express train link to downtown Bangkok by the end of this year, at the earliest. In the longer term, the airport is planning to build a Bt50 million mid-field concourse with around 25

gates. But that proposal needs the green light from Thailand’s new government.

✈ HKIA Following the opening of the much-lauded Terminal 2 in July 2007, HKIA is spending HK$1.5 billion to upgrade Terminal 1. Travelers can expect quicker security checks at the departure hall (thanks to new screening machines), more shops, and upgraded toilets and lounges. Renovation efforts also include an ambitious plan to replace the

façade of the main arrivals hall in Terminal 1 with glass. The government has announced it would look into a third runway.

✈ Changi Not resting on its laurels, Changi will launch a 38-month, S$500 million renovation of Terminal 1 as early as this month, bringing the airport’s oldest building in line with its newer, flashier terminals. Also look out for a 320-room Crowne Plaza Hotel, complete with meeting facilities, slated to open this month.

✈ KLIA Unlike other airports in the region, KLIA is staking its future on the region’s booming lowcost carrier industry. To that effect, it’s building a new budget terminal, which will open in 2011 or 2012, replacing the bare-bones building that just opened in 2006. In the meantime, KLIA is planning to expand its area devoted to retail, and food and beverage outlets by some 30 percent. However, officials declined to say who might be setting up shop at the airport.

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travel

Suvarnabhumi International Airport The region’s newest major airport is flush with duty-free—but often at the expense of passenger comfort and convenience. By PHIL MACDONALD Opened to much fanfare in September 2006, Suvarnabhumi quickly plummeted into a sea of troubles, from charges of corruption to faulty air-conditioning. To their credit, officials managed to keep the airport open and soldier on, slowly fixing the building’s numerous problems (though we still have serious concerns about the lack of public seating areas).

dishes up morsels of this Japanese favorite in a chrome-and-frosted glass ambience. Volare (3) has readymade sandwiches heaped high behind glass counters. Opposite, the well-regarded international Mango Tree (4) restaurant chain serves up tasty pad thai, fried prawns with tamarind sauce and noodle soup with roast duck. For a viscous Thai brew, try Doi Tung Coffee (5). ■ WHERE TO SHOP

■ WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

Most of the food and beverage outlets are at the eastern and western ends of Concourse D in the departures area. However, along this concourse are a few island-style kiosks, where you can sit on a bar stool and enjoy a snack or drink, including the Reef (1), which sells hearty salami and cheese baguettes, pastas and decent lattes. It also has a full bar. Nearby, the Sushi Bar (2)

The departures area is basically a glitzy 500-meter-long luxury-goods strip mall. But if you are looking for something a little more Thai, there are a number of outlets—clustered together at the western end of Concourse D—selling quality locally made goods that make ideal souvenirs or gifts. Chitralada (6) sells upscale, high-quality silk goods. Mae Fah Luang (7) has hand-woven rugs, textiles and fashions produced by

Bangkok’s Hub Above: Outside Suvarnabhumi. Right: A map of Suvarnabhumi.

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Thailand’s hill-tribe minorities, while at Sai Yai Rak (8), you can find contemporary Thai art and design. ■ WHAT TO DO

Just about every available square meter in the departure area is crammed with duty-free outlets, with little consideration given to the comfort or amusement of passengers. There are no public seating areas, no free Internet—not even windows to watch aircraft take off and land. However, if you get the sudden urge to sing karaoke, you can wander into an entertainment center (9), where you’ll also find video games and a bar. Next door, it’s a little quieter at another multipurpose center (10) offering—at a price—a fitness center, spa, day rooms, business center and bar. For those with tired appendages and an hour or so to spare, Chang Foot Massage (11) is the rub.

Key: Eat and Drink Shopping What to Do

C O U R T E SY O F A I R P O R T S O F T H A I L A N D . M A P BY WA S I N E E C H A N TA KO R N

■ OVERVIEW


Hong Kong International Airport Voted the best in the world, Asia’s third busiest airport offers plenty of great restaurants, shops and ways to idle away the time. By PAUL EHRLICH ■ OVERVIEW

It’s no surprise Hong Kong International Airport, which opened in July 1998 at a cost of more than US$6.3 billion, has won so many awards through the years. Designed by Norman Foster, this majestic facility became an instant architectural icon when it was unveiled. But it has much more going for it than sheer beauty Though around 555,000 square meters, this huge space is still easy to navigate and doesn’t feel too cavernous. It’s also one of Asia’s most accessible airports, with numerous public transportation options, including a rail link.

Try a hearty Japanese noodle-based set lunch at Ajisen Ramen (2). For Western dishes and other Asian fare, check out Café Deco (3), or grab a beer and burger at Champions Sports Bar (4). Splurge at the classy new Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar (5), Asia’s first outlet of the European purveyor of black gold and Balik salmon, or cool off with an iced green tea with citron honey and snack on rice paper rolls filled with beef, barbequed pork or shrimp at Fook Ming Tong (6), both on Level 6. For dessert, indulge in a freshly baked, giant chocolate chip cookie at Mille’s Cookies (7). ■ WHERE TO SHOP

■ WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

C O U R T E SY O F A I R P O R T A U T H O R I T Y H O N G KO N G . M A P BY WA S I N E E C H A N TA KO R N

Enjoy fried chicken with chinjew sauce or bamboo baskets of dim sum at Pak Loh Chiu Chow Express (1), one of several take-away restaurants on Level 7’s food court.

Amazing Grace (8) on Level 7 runs the gamut of Asian handicrafts, clothes and embroidered purses. With brand-name shops from Armani (9) to Prada (10), Level 6 is like a mini Rodeo Drive. There’s

also Sound & Vision (11) for the latest high-tech gadgets and travel accessories. Feed your sweet tooth with a box of truffles at The Peninsula Boutique (12) or your mind at NewsLink (13) for books and magazines galore, also on Level 6. ■ WHAT TO DO

With free Wi-Fi throughout the airport, you can log onto your laptop anywhere. Unknot yourself with a 30-minute neck, shoulder and back massage or a rejuvenating facial at Plaza Hair & Beauty Salon (14) on Level 6. Relax longer at the 24-hour Travelers’ Lounge (15), with packages ranging from two hours to overnight. Services include a buffet and wine bar, shower facilities, Internet, sleep areas and massages. Or, if you need some serious shut-eye, you can check into one of the two Plaza Premium Lounges (16), (17).

Best in the World Above: HKIA’s distinctive exterior, designed by Norman Foster. Left: A map of HKIA.

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strategies | air

travel

Singapore Changi Airport A favorite among frequent fliers, the city-state’s airport raises the bar on comfort and ease in travel with its sparkling new Terminal 3. By JENNIFER CHEN Starting operations in 1981, Changi is Southeast Asia’s oldest major airport. But don’t let that fool you. Thanks to continual renovations as well as the recent addition of a new terminal, this facility doesn’t show its age. Among the many accolades it’s racked up over the years, Changi been voted the best airport to sleep in by the website www. sleepinginairports.com for the past 10 years—and it’s easy to see why. With an abundance of comfy armchairs and quiet nooks, not to mention its subdued ambience, this is one airport that travelers look forward to spending time in.

microbrewery Brewerkz (2) (both on Level 3) and The Fullerton Hotel’s Post Bar (3), nicely nestled on Level 2 right in front of the bank of windows so you can plane-spot while sipping a gin and tonic. Also in Terminal 3’s Level 2 is Senso Bistro (4), which serves hearty French fare. In Terminal 1, java addicts can fill up at Spinelli Coffee (5) or Pacific Coffee Company (6). For a more local flavor, Ya Kun Kaya Toast (7) in Terminal 2 is a koptiam chain specializing in a bracing brew sweetened with condensed milk and thin, crispy toast slathered with coconut paste and butter. ■ WHERE TO SHOP

■ WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

The food options in all three terminals include familiar fast food names (Burger King, Popeyes and Délifrance) as well slick cafés and stylish restaurants. Terminal 3 alone has three impressive watering holes: iL Lido Wine & Tapas Lounge (1),

While all the high-end usual suspects are accounted for, Changi has brands not normally sighted in airport transit malls in Asia, such as Mulberry (8) and Apple (9) in Terminal 3. As of press time, Chloé and Bottega Veneta were gearing up for their Changi debut. If you’re

Green Skies Above: Inside Changi’s new Terminal 3. Right: A map of Changi.

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interested in Frank Gehry’s latest line of jewelry for Tiffany & Co. (10), you’re in luck—Terminal 2’s outlet carries a limited selection from the famed New York jeweler. Need something to read on the plane? Pop by Times NewsLink (11) in Terminal 1, which carries a wide selection of publications and a decent array of fiction and nonfiction titles. ■ WHAT TO DO

It’s easy to relax at Changi, which boasts plenty of lounges as well as areas furnished with specially designed leather loungers. The Rainforest Lounge (12) in Terminal 1 and Plaza Premium Lounge (13) in Terminal 2 both offer showers, gyms, spas and nap rooms. Those seeking only to slumber can check into Ambassador Transit Hotel (14, 15, 16) (at Terminal 1, you can use the hotel’s swimming pool). If you have five hours to kill, you can sign up for a two-hour tour of the city.

C O U R T E S Y O F C I V I L AV I AT I O N A U T H O R I T Y O F S I N G A P O R E . M A P B Y W A S I N E E C H A N TA K O R N

■ OVERVIEW


Kuala Lumpur International Airport Malaysia’s main international airport is a 75-kilometer trek from the city center. Despite its remoteness, it’s still a world-class facility. By GENEVIEVE TSAI ■ OVERVIEW

Though not quite in the same class as Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s airports, KLIA provides travelers everything they need—ease, comfort and speed. First opened in 1998, the 482,657-square-meter facility features ample options in shopping, dining and recreation. ■ WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

C O U R T E S Y O F M A L AY S I A A I R P O R T S H O L D I N G S B H D . M A P B Y W A S I N E E C H A N TA K O R N

Besides the recognizable chains such as Starbucks (1), on the mezzanine level of the satellite building, and Délifrance (2), on the passenger level of the satellite building, Australianbased Dome Café (3) (also in the satellite building’s passenger level) serves toasted sandwiches, homemade-style cakes and coffees. Rimba Jungle Café (4) (on the satellite building’s mezzanine level) dishes up both Western and Asian favorites. For a more formal dining experience, check out Eden (5), a

■ WHAT TO DO

local chain in the main terminal building that cooks up Cantonese and Sichuan seafood dishes, as well as dim sum. ■ WHERE TO SHOP

Your best bet for shopping is in the airport’s satellite building—where international flights arrive and depart—which is linked to the main terminal by train. Along with familiar international brands such as Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo and Mont Blanc, you’ll find on the passenger level of the satellite building Barcelona-based women’s fast fashion shop Mango (6), The Body Shop (7), Godiva (8) and a Harrods (9) outlet, selling teas, biscuits and other souvenirs from the famed Knightsbridge emporium. In the main terminal, swing by Royal Selangor (10) for intricately carved pewter home accessories and jewelry.

There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the airport, as well as various lounges where passengers can kick back and watch TV. In a nod to the airport’s surroundings, there’s a rainforest (11) smack in the middle of the satellite building (future expansion plans include a jungle boardwalk). The Airside Transit Hotel (12) on the mezzanine level offers shower, sauna and gym facilities. Linked to the main terminal building by a skybridge is the 450-room Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Airport (13), which has 80 day rooms for transit passengers (note: you’ll have to go through immigration and customs). If you really have time on your hands, take the 10-minute drive out to the Sepang Circuit (not pictured on the map)—the Formula One racetrack where you can indulge in go-kart racing and advanced driving lessons.

KLIA at Dusk Above: The curving façade of KLIA. Left: A map of KLIA.

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Cupcake country: Five of the best retro bakeries in Southern California <(page 48)

Saving history: Preserving Hong Kong’s storied past <(page 54)

Northern exposure. Our guide to Ilocos Norte in the Philippines <(page 52)

+

• Antique maps in Singapore • Asia’s most endangered destinations • Seafaring holidays in the region

(Insider) Photo credit by tktktk

C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P L E F T : C H R I S K U C W AY ; N I C O L E S C H I L I T ; M I K E M I N A ; C O U R T E S Y O F T H E D ATA I ; W A S I N E E C H A N TA K O R N

Local lore. Take a stroll through a hip corner of Bangkok (page 56) >

Where to GoWhat to EatWhere to StayWhat to Buy

FEB MROUNATRHY 2 0 0 7 | T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E . C O M

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insider

| newsflash

Make Yourself at Home A host of new hotels, restaurants and spas are opening in former private residences in New York, welcoming travelers to a softer side of Gotham. By AMY LAROCCA

2. Townhouse Spa

1. Stay the Night

After-Hours Relaxation Mention Lan Kwai Fong and most people conjure up this Hong Kong district’s bars and clubs. But if you’re after a more wholesome—and definitely healthier— form of relaxation, Sense of Touch, a local spa chain, has opened a new outlet in the famous watering hole (52 D’Aguilar St., Central; 852/2526-6918). The five-story day spa boasts five treatment rooms as well as a couple’s suite on the penthouse floor. In a nod to the spa’s locality, guests can soak in beer, sake or wine baths in the spa’s wooden barrel tubs. 36

The owners of this B&B converted the top three floors of their Carnegie Hill brownstone into rooms and suites named after former tenants (Cecelia, Barnes). The 51square-meter Fox Suite has a private terrace with a dining room table—a rarity even for locals. 18 E. 93rd St.; 1-212/7228300; www.staythenight.com; doubles with en-suite bathrooms from US$185.

At this midtown spa, men kick back in a room with club chairs and flat-screens to await haircuts and shaves; downstairs, women get Thai massages in suites with fireplaces. Owner Jamie Ahn’s personal touches are what make the place so appealing: locker-room keys, for example, have burgundy-andblack tassels sourced from Morocco. 39 W. 56th St.; 1-212/245-8006; treatments from US$150.

3. The Mansfield

Once the home of several prominent New Yorkers, this 1904 hotel recently completed a yearlong restoration. The 126 rooms are painted in muted ivories and beiges, with ebony floors. In the honey-colored parlor, guests play cribbage, chess and bridge to the hum of an espresso machine brewing Italianroast beans. 12 W. 44th St.; 1212/277-8700; www.mansfieldhotel.com; doubles from US$299.

4. Bobo

This unassuming West Village restaurant is easy to miss: there’s no sign on the brownstone’s door, and you enter through a lowceilinged basement. Inside, you feel like you’re at the intimate dinner party of a dialed-in New Yorker. Blue walls are lined with photographs of the owner’s family, and bookshelves stacked with tomes surround two dimly glowing chandeliers. The best dish in the house is the chicken grand-mère with mashed potatoes. 181 W. 10th St.; 1212/488-2626; dinner for two $80.

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TRE ND

1

5. Black Mountain Wine House 2 3

4

5

A cab ride over the Brooklyn Bridge is worth it for a stop at this 12-table bar on a quiet corner in Carroll Gardens. Owner Jim Mamary imported the oak doors and windows from a farmhouse and church in upstate New York. And the artisanal wines are stored on bookshelves around a woodburning fireplace. Pair a Chenin Blanc with one of the menu’s 10 European cheeses. 415 Union St., Brooklyn; 1-718/395-2614; drinks for two US$16.

FA R L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F S E N S E O F T O U C H . C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F S T AY T H E N I G H T ; M A L Ú A LVA R E Z ( 3 ) ; C O U R T E S Y O F T H E M A N S F I E L D

S PA


insider

| newsflash TECH

Streamlined Adaptor

SKIN-CARE RX Customize your beauty regimen while on the road with My Blend, a line of moisturizers that you can boost with nutrients as needed. The basic creams come in eight formulations, and the supplements (geared toward everything from increasing hydration to reducing redness) are added with a mini injector. It’s the next best thing to taking your dermatologist with you. Saks Fifth Avenue; 1-877/551-7257; www.saks.com; from US$55.— E L I Z A B E T H W O O D S O N

Tired of carrying separate chargers for your phone, PDA, laptop and iPod? Lenovo’s latest innovation, the ThinkPad and IdeaPad 90W slim AC/DC power adapter (www.lenovo.com; US$119.95) seeks to help wired road warriors lighten their load. Compact enough to fit into a pocket, the all-in-one adaptor is designed to let users recharge their laptops, PDA’s, phones and portable music players—so you can say goodbye to the days of trying to stuff a tangle of plugs, cords and cables into your suitcase.

HAMBURGER HEAVEN

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C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P L E F T : D AV I E S + S TA R R ; C O U R T E S Y O F L E N O V O ; C O U R T E S Y O F R E L I S H

BEAUTY


| newsflash Hong Kong Art Fair

EXHIBITION

FASHION AS ART

Architect Zaha Hadid’s art spaceship.

In case you missed the opening of Chanel’s ambitious, two-year traveling exhibition, Mobile Art, in Hong Kong, it’s landing this month in Tokyo (National Yoyogi Stadium; 2-1-1 Jinnan; www.chanel-mobileart.com; May 31–July 4). Housed in a curvaceous, spaceship-like 700-square-meter pavilion designed by Pritzker-winning architect Zaha Hadid, the show features works by 20 artists, including Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, French conceptual artist Daniel Buren and Yoko Ono—all inspired by the fashion house’s venerable quilted handbag. But Hadid’s futuristic fiberglass structure is as much an attraction as what’s inside. After its Tokyo stint, the pavilion heads to New York and then London, Moscow and Paris.

SASHIMI ON THE HIGH SEAS

CRUISE Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. Right: The Crystal Symphony.

N

in New York, London, Milan, Melbourne and a handful of other locations, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, better known by his shortened moniker, Nobu, is taking his ever-expanding culinary empire into international waters. Now onboard Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony, passengers can sample Nobu’s trailblazing improvisations on Japanese classics (think yellowtail sashimi with jalapeños or lobster with a sauce infused with truffles and yuzu) at two new eateries, The Sushi Bar and the more formal Silk Road. As with the original New York outlet, the sushi bar runs on a strictly first-come, first-served basis—so get there early. 40

Thanks to its role as a gateway to China’s resiliently popular contemporary art scene, Hong Kong is the world’s third-largest art market after New York and London. To cement its status as a vital player in the international art world, the SAR is hosting its first major art fair in a decade this month, ART HK 08 (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre; open to the public May 15– May 18; www.hongkongartfair.com; HK$150 per person, tickets sold at www.hkticketing.com). Bringing together around 100 galleries from 20 countries, the fair promises plenty for both serious collectors and art lovers. On view will be works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, as well as some of China’s most famous contemporary artists, such as Zhang Xiaogang—best known for his surreal family portraits— and Xu Bing, who creates elaborate scrolls covered in fake characters. And if you can’t afford to splash out on a Picasso, don’t worry: one of the fair’s missions is to exhibit the work of emerging artists.

OT CONTENT WITH RESTAURANTS

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ART

F R O M T O P : C O U R T E SY O F C H A N E L ; C O U R T E SY O F C R YS TA L C R U I S E S ( 2 ) ; C O U R T E SY O F M A X L E N G G A L L E R Y

insider


insider

| newsflash

Prayer flags on Mount Kailash, in Tibet. Below: Wong How Man with a Tibetan antelope.

Westward, Ho!

Exploration might seem like an antiquated profession, but Wong How Man—the founder and president of the China Exploration and Research Society—single-handedly defies the notion that there isn’t much left to discover in our world. The Hong Kong–born conservationist and explorer has found the sources of the Yangtze and Mekong rivers, trekked to the remotest corners of China and helped protect endangered species. Here, he tell us about modern-day exploration. What is there left to explore in Asia? “The Tibetan Plateau—it makes up one quarter of China’s land mass and much of it is unexplored.” FIVE QUESTIONS

CO U RT ESY O F WO N G H OW M A N ( 2 )

What’s the most arduous journey you’ve undertaken?

“Circumambulating Mount Kailash—the most sacred mountain for Tibetans and Hindus—which I did in 2002. The starting point is 4,600 meters and the highest pass is 5,600 meters. It’s 53 kilometers in total.” What’s the most beautiful place you’ve been to recently? “The source of Mekong ... It was more than just pleasing to the eye, it also touched my heart.” Have you witnessed first-hand the impact of global warming? “There are 26,000 glaciers in western China, and everywhere the glaciers are receding.” Where do you like to unwind? “I am probably the most relaxed out in the field because I don’t get phone calls or e-mails ... But I also relax and unwind—that is, do some writing and reading that’s not related to work—by going to Phuket. K.P. Ho [founder of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts] has a place there where I like spending one week during the winter.”—J . C .


BEFORE THEY GO…

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HE GREAT BARRIER REEF, Timbuktu, Manchu Picchu — what do these places have in common? They’re all storied destinations that — unless we take serious action — might be doomed because of environmental and social ills, according to American journalists Kimberly Lisagor and Heather Hanson. Their new book, DISAPPEARING DESTINATIONS (Vintage Departures; US$15.95), is a rallying cry about the impact of ecological degradation, global warming and unchecked tourism. T+L quizzes them about endangered places in Asia and what can be done to save them.

C O U R T E S Y O F K I M B E R LY L I S A G O R

■ Were there destinations in Asia not included in the book?

“The spectacular rice terraces of Ifugao province in the Philippines are one example. They were carved into the mountainside more than 2,000 years ago, and they are starting to crumble because so many of the region’s rice farmers have moved on to other, more profitable, lines of work. Another case is the Salween River, Southeast Asia’s longest dam-free river, where 13 major hydropower projects have been proposed.” ■ What else besides global warming, environmental degradation and rampant development is posing a threat?

“It all comes down to population growth, really … Another issue throughout Asia is irresponsible tourism. When too many outsiders crowd a particular destination, it suffers

BOOK

not only environmentally, but also culturally.” ■ Of the places mentioned in the book, which do you consider is the most in peril?

“The Yangtze River Valley — and, in fact, much of China — is really in trouble. Even the Chinese government has recently acknowledged that the Three Gorges Dam will likely cause catastrophic landslides and water pollution … Some of China’s other issues are out-of-control development, deforestation, air pollution and the razing of historic hutongs.” ■ How do travelers lessen their impact? “Learn to travel consciously. That means reading about the issues that are affecting the places you plan to visit and taking all possible steps to minimize your impact. Book your travel with companies that are committed to sustainability (www. responsibletravel.com is a great place to start). Offset your air miles with a reputable company like Atmosfair or Native Energy. And give something back to the communities that have hosted you.”—J . C .


insider

| bring it back

Geography Lessons. Head to SINGAPORE

this shop devoted to antique maps that evoke the Age of Exploration. By CHRISTOPHER R. COX OR THE LAST 28 YEARS, Antiques of the Orient— an unassuming antiquarian print shop on the edge of Singapore’s glitzy Orchard Road—has plumbed a past where Jakarta is still Batavia, Hoi An answers to Faifo and Myanmar is unquestionably called Burma. The walls are covered with vintage travel posters and centuries-old charts, while scores of drawers hold an inventory swelling into five figures: 19th-century French surveys of Angkor; historic blackand-white photographs of Singapore; a menagerie of animal and botanical illustrations; and a complete run of The Illustrated London News. In today’s Google Earth and GPS-dominated world, the hand-etched and individually colored engravings are the stuff of art, with decorative borders and fanciful cartouches. Prices range from as little as US$50 to well into the thousands, as was the case for a recently sold 1596 map by Jan Huygen van Linschoten. The Dutch adventurer had spied on the Portuguese while working for the Bishop of Goa, and his gorgeous, unusually oriented work (the east occupies the top, or north, position) lays out their secret trade routes to the Spice Islands. A road map never looked so good. No. 02-40, Tanglin Shopping Centre, 19 Tanglin Rd.; 65/6734-9351; www.aoto.com.sg. ✚

F

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Photographed by SITTIPUN CHAITERDSIRI. Styled by ATINAN NITISUNTHONKUL


Indulge your passions, day and night.

www.spain.info 541 Orchard Road

# 09-04 Liat Tower

NATIONAL TOURIST OFFICE OF SPAIN SINGAPORE 238881 Tel: 65 6 73 73 008 Fax: 65 6 73 73 173

singapore@tourspain .es


insider

| check-in The Silolona, anchored near The Datai hotel, in Langkawi.

PHILIPPINES Around 7,100 islands make up the Philippine archipelago. Sure, it would be impossible to explore all of them in a single lifetime, but the SHANGRI-LA’S MACTAN RESORT 46

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By Land and by Sea. Torn between a beach holiday and a cruise? Here, four hotels in the region where guests can spend time on shore and on the open seas. By SANA BUTLER & SPA on Cebu island does its small bit by hiring a two-deck motorized yacht for guests eager to explore beautiful Bohol and other nearby islands. The one-cabin cruiser is perfectly suited for couples, and the crew can also cook up a private beach barbecue. Longer itineraries are available for those seeking to boost their credentials as sea salts. Still, we recommend making sure you’re on land long enough to enjoy the hotel’s signature CHI Spa

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Village. Sprawling over 10,000 square meters, the spa comprises 15 private villas complete with herbal steam rooms and a shiatsu pool. Punta Engano Rd., Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu; 63-32/231-0288; doubles from US$175; cruises from US$2,400 per day. VIETNAM Already the fanciest digs on China Beach, THE NAM HAI concierge can help charter a two-deck, three-cabin, three-bathroom yacht, available

C O U R T E SY O F T H E D ATA I

MALAYSIA One of the standard-bearers on the holiday island of Langkawi, THE DATAI, located smack in the middle of a tropical rain forest, can put together a chance to set sail on the Silolona, a five-suite private luxury charter in the form of a phinisi, a traditional wooden Indonesian schooner. Upon request, this exclusive 50-meter sailboat can anchor right off The Datai’s private beach and whisk guests away to more secluded white-sand beaches. Those interested in spending more time on water can ask the hotel to book one of the boat’s custom tailored five-, seven-, or nine-day journeys around the islands that surround Langkawi, to the pristine Thai island of Turatao, or even further afield to the untouched Mergui archipelago in Burma (trips originating from Malaysia take place between December and March). Staffed by a crew of 17, the Silolona offers plenty of perks, including an onboard massage therapist as well as a chef who creates a daily menu based on special requests only. When you return to solid ground, relax with a morning round of golf on the hotel’s 18-hole championship course. Jln. Teluk Datai, Langkawi; 604/959-2500; www.ghmhotels.com; doubles from US$470; cruises from US$10,000 per day.


F R O M T O P : C O U R T E SY O F S H A N G R I - L A' S M A C TA N R E S O R T & S PA ; C O U R T E SY O F T H E D ATA I ; C O U R T E SY O F T H E N A M H A I

between March and September (note: at least a couple of months’ advanced notice is absolutely needed because of government regulations). Grab a courtesy preloaded iPod from the hotel and meet up with the skipper and crew at Hoi An harbor. Guests can swim with dolphins (admittedly a cliché, but it’s still a magical experience), go fishing for lunch, dive for scallops, or just soak in the sun on deck. Activities for children are also on offer, including an onboard treasure hunt. Dien Duong Village, Hoi An; 84-510/940-000; www.thenamhai. com; doubles from US$750; prices for the cruises upon request.

schooners from THE OBEROI, BALI, long one of the premier properties on the island’s upmarket Seminyak beach. The most requested is Katharina, an air-conditioned, sevensuite, handmade timber sailboat with two masts. The five-star accommodation, which includes ensuite marble bathrooms, can fit up to 16 people for off-the-beaten-path itineraries, including jaunts to the beaches of remote Savu islands (located between Sumba island and West Timor) and the volcanoes in the highlands of Flores. Don’t forget to ask the concierge for the registration form to jot down special requests such as a bodyboard, sea kayaks, special foods or even a deck-mattress so you can sleep beneath the stars. Jln. Laksmana, Seminyak; 62-361/730-361; www.oberoihotels.com; doubles from US$290, cruises from US$3,000. ✚

Landlubbers’ Digs From top: A pool at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, in Cebu; a candlelit dinner at The Datai; The Nam Hai, near Hoi An.

BALI Have your pick of three wooden T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

.

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insider | eat Sugar Shacks From left: The line outside Sprinkles, in Beverly Hills; a server at SusieCakes, in Brentwood; colored sprinkles at SusieCakes; the offerings at Violet’s, in Pasadena. Bottom: Sprinkles’ owner Candace Nelson with red-velvet cupcakes.

L.A.’s Cupcake Boom. Old-fashioned American bakeries are popping up everywhere on the body-conscious West Coast. Here are five of the city’s sweetest sensations. By HEATHER SMITH MACISAAC ■ THE PLACE An unexpected perk along a lonely stretch of warehouses in Culver City, BLUEBIRD CAFÉ, with its U.S.A.

shaded patio and turquoise window frames reminiscent of a friendly café in Mexico, is as welcoming as its menu is comforting. Crayola-bright cupcakes—and lunches of tuna melts, meatloaf sandwiches and chicken salad—tempt a crowd from nearby studios and production houses. Can’t decide between blue, red, orange, green, white or chocolate frosting? Try a handful of minis, then give in to ordering a full-size confection. THE GOODS Only four flavors of cake—vanilla, chocolate, coconut and red velvet—and catch-as-catch-can specials like pumpkin, banana and lemon. 8572 National Blvd., Culver City; 1-310/841-0939. ■ THE PLACE As caterers whose repertoire has long

included cupcakes, chef Bill Dertouzo and partner Susan McAlindon of DAINTIES CUPCAKES were well positioned to ride the retro wave. They simply installed new refrigerated cases, hung out a shingle and started arriving in the kitchen even earlier in the morning. The cupcakes come in striped boxes with inner rings to hold them securely. You can even get a box for one. But unless it’s a gift, a single rarely makes it out the door. McAlindon says customers love the boxes but usually just ask for a napkin, peel away the paper on the spot, and bite into what Dertouzo calls their “own little 48

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Photographed by NICOLE SCHILIT


package of love and joy.” THE GOODS Chocolate ganache– dipped devil’s food cupcakes injected (and topped) with delicately and variously flavored whipped cream. 11058 Santa Monica Blvd. (behind Winchell’s), Los Angeles; 1-310/312-3656. ■ THE PLACE The lighthearted name and nostalgic typography of SPRINKLES CUPCAKES, a Beverly Hills

cupcakery, belies a vision executed with military precision. Mom-and-pop owners Candace and Charles Nelson were investment bankers before they were bakers, which means they’ve thought of everything and then some: glossy cupcake serving trays, cake mixes sold in canisters, a special displaytower kit—and doggie cupcakes and T-shirts. So quickly has Sprinkles taken off that the shop is already bursting at the seams—and the sprinkling of locations in Newport Beach, Scottsdale and Dallas has begun. THE GOODS Expertly frosted pastries, sometimes dusted with toppings and always marked with tiddledywinks-style sugar disks that, as inside the lid of a Whitman’s Sampler box, decode the 22 flavor combinations. 9635 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; 1-310/274-8765. ■ THE PLACE The patrons of SUSIECAKES have Madeline and Mildred to thank for its treats: owner Susan Sarich’s grandmothers carefully recorded recipes on index cards, never suspecting they would grow beyond sentimental treasures into the building blocks of a business. Even an ancestral Pyrex bowl supplied the minty-green apron color for SusieCakes’ retro smiling-hostess logo. Chicago native Sarich searched the West Coast before homing in on familyoriented Brentwood. “No matter how body-obsessed Angelenos can be, everybody has a birthday. At the very least, who can resist a cupcake?” THE GOODS Ten flavors of cupcakes, chocolate-wafer icebox pie, butterscotch pudding, whoopie pies, seasonal favorites like gingerbread and frosted animal crackers. 11708 San Vicente Blvd. at Barrington Ave., Brentwood; 1-310/442-2253.

Sweet Somethings From top: The counter display at SusieCakes; patrons chatting over a Sprinkles cupcake; cupcake envy at SusieCakes; the entrance to Violet’s Cakes.

■ THE PLACE Beyond the curtained storefront of VIOLET’S CAKES, on Holly Street in Pasadena, Denise

Weber leads her staff and daughter Olivia through the steps of baking and decorating as cheerfully as Snow White inculcated her dwarfs. Violet’s has become a popular destination for Old Town workers and residents, especially on Fridays, when people of all ages, and men in particular, swing by for a weekend reward. “We call it handsome-guy Friday,” says Denise. Will cupcakes supplant flowers as the new love token or mea culpa? THE GOODS Flavors for the inner kid: peanut butter and jelly, French toast (Denise’s favorite), s’mores (marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers), and the candy-based Butterfinger, Snickers and Twix. 21 E. Holly St., Pasadena; 1-626/395-9821. ✚ M AY 2 0 0 8| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

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T R A V E L

C H A N G


E S

E V E R Y T H I N G HOW HAS IT CHANGED YOU? LET US KNOW AT WWW.YOURTRAVELANDLEISURE.COM SUBMIT YOUR OWN STORIES, PHOTOS AND VIDEO CLIPS IN OUR EXCLUSIVE ONLINE COMPETITION


insider

| where to go next

Ilocos Norte. Just north of Manila, the picturesque province of Ilocos Norte provides a glimpse into the archipelago’s distant—and recent—past. By JESSICA ZAFRA

A

N HOUR BY AIR from the

hurly-burly of metropolitan Manila is its exact opposite: a stress-free haven of windswept beaches, dramatic vistas and wellpreserved reminders of the Philippines’ cultural heritage. Already well known to surfers, scuba divers and golfers, the province of Ilocos Norte in the northern Philippines has everything it takes to be a major travel destination.

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So get there before it’s discovered by the hordes. There’s something for everyone, from the adventure traveler to the time traveler.

WHAT TO DO Big waves pound the famous beaches in the town of Pagudpud into a fine powder. A different kind of sandy experience awaits visitors at the dunes that extend from Paoay to Laoag—a

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vast, open space of shifting hills straight out of Mad Max (except there are no demented riders out to get you). Dive sites abound in the towns of Pagudpud, Currimao, Badoc and Burgos. There are, however, limited facilities for equipment rental. The entire province is dotted with churches, convent ruins and watchtowers dating back to the Spanish colonial period. Sentries once looked Photographed by MIKE MINA

M A P BY WA S I N E E C H A N TA KO R N

PHILIPPINES


CENTER: SIMON GURNEY / DREAMSTIME.COM

out from the 19th-century lighthouse on Cape Bojeador in Burgos town, scouring the horizon for pirate ships. It continues to serve as a lighthouse, now powered by solar panels. The town of Bacarra has an ancient bell tower and the church ruins house 17-string wooden harps. Sitio Remedios, a resort village in Currimao, consists of seven authentic Ilocano houses preserved and reconstructed along the South China Sea coast. Named for the towns they came from, these old wood-and-stone houses have been rebuilt around a plaza of coral stone. At the center of the village plaza is the Capilla San Miguel, a chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Next to the chapel is the Sentro Iloco de Juan Luna, which serves as a lecture hall and gallery featuring the works of contemporary Filipino artists inspired by Juan Luna, the Ilocos-born artist and revolutionary hero. A more recent glimpse of Philippine history is afforded by the many edifices dedicated to the memory of the late president, Ferdinand Marcos, a native of the province. There’s also Marcos himself in his mausoleum (Barangay 10, Lacub, Batac), where admirers and curious tourists pay homage to the former strongman.

WHAT TO BUY

WHEN TO GO

The woven fabrics known as abel Iloko are particularly beautiful—exquisitely detailed and well-nigh indestructible. The Museo Ilocos Norte (General Luna St., Laoag; 63-77/770-4587) sells select baskets and abel in its gift shop.

Ilocos Norte summers—March to August—are famously hot. The best time to visit is from October until early March. In May, you can observe the Santacruzan festival—when local beauties compete in pageants that commemorate the discovery of the true cross by Empress Helena and her son, the Emperor Constantine.

WHERE TO EAT For those seeking the true Ilocano cuisine, each town has a market teeming with native delicacies including longganiza (sausage), bagnet (pork cracklings), empanada (fi lled pastries), cornick (crispy corn kernels) and tupig (sticky rice cake). Herencia Café (McArthur St., Barangay 14, Sangladan, Paoay; 63-77/614-0214) serves the quintessential Ilocano dish, pinakbet—a sort of ratatouille—on pizza, along with other local dishes. La Preciosa (Rizal St., Laoag; 6377/773-1162) is known for its Ilocano dishes and a rich selection of cakes and pastries.

GETTING THERE Laoag, the provincial capital, is 45 minutes by air from Manila, and 80 minutes from Hong Kong and Taipei. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific operate daily flights from Manila, while local bus companies provide regular bus services between Manila and Laoag (usually 10–12 hours one way).

WHERE TO STAY Luxury accommodations are available at Fort Ilocandia Hotel (Barangay 37, Calayab, Laoag; 63-77/772-1166; www. fortilocandia.com.ph; doubles from US$123); Saud Beach Resort (Pagudpud; 63-77/764-1050; www. saudbeachresort.com; doubles from US$80); and Sitio Remedios (Barangay Victoria, Currimao; 63/917-332-0217; www. sitioremedios.com; doubles from P7,000). In Laoag, Balay da Blas (10 Giron St., Barangay 7-B; 63-77/770-4389; suites from P1,350), a bed-and-breakfast with seven suites, provides a home away from home in a quieter section of the city. Java Hotel (Fariñas Caltex Station, Bacarra Rd., Barangay 55-B; 63-77/7705996; doubles from P3,500), in the north of the city, is a comfortable boutique hotel. 

Living History From far left: The sand dunes of Ilocos Norte; a Spanish colonial structure in Paoay; the Museo Ilocos Norte in Laoag. Opposite: A villa in Sitio Remedios, a resort village in Currimao, Ilocos Norte province.

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insider | preservation The red-brick exterior of the former French Mission Building.

HONG KONG

Under the Skyscrapers. In a city that embodies the upto-the-minute, a movement towards saving older buildings is starting to gather steam. Story and photographs by CHRIS KUCWAY

W

HEN IT COMES TO

preservation, Hong Kong has a reputation for uprooting history in favor of its evergrowing forest of modern, mirrored skyscrapers. All too often, this go-go city rushes to replace traditional or colonial buildings with the latest stateof-the-art architecture. But to a small degree, attitudes are beginning to change. In January, the Hong Kong government announced a review of the city’s historic buildings and how best to

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restore them, even offering economic incentives to the private sector to encourage preservation. Happily, that’s led to a noticeable increase in the number of restoration projects around the territory. Still, critics abound. One of the main complaints is that current restoration efforts are being conducted in a piecemeal fashion. David Lung, an architecture professor at the University of Hong Kong, says that, ideally, preservation should be about saving a

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whole neighborhood, not simply one or two individual buildings. “We are losing heritage in Hong Kong the same way I’m losing hair,” says Lung, who has been involved in preservation work for three decades. However, he acknowledges that it’s better late than never. “It’s been the work of a lot of people sowing the seeds and now you’re seeing the fruit of this work.” Here are T+L’s picks of some of the most noteworthy examples of Hong Kong’s architectural heritage.


Old Hong Kong From top: The recently renovated Whitfield Barracks; a shophouse on Ship Street; Flagstaff House.

WHITFIELD BARRACKS Built in 1910, two of the four remaining barracks recently reopened after years of painstaking restoration work. Now the home of the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, the complex also includes a glass-paneled modern structure—an innovation that received an approving nod from UNESCO last year. Today, the center hosts exhibitions on the city’s architecture and restoration projects. Pick up the free map to the Central and Western Heritage Trail, which offers snippets of information on Hong Kong Island’s architectural gems (including those mentioned in this story). Kowloon Park, Haiphong Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui; 852/2208-4400. 60–66 JOHNSTON ROAD Dating back to the 1880’s, these four shophouses have just been restored and incorporated into a 29-story condominium development. The high ceilings and verandahs on the first and second floors are synonymous with 19th-century Hong Kong and are reminiscent of a city long gone. Stone pillars at street level support a covered walkway fronting what, in the past, were family-run shops. In this case, the corner address was a pawnshop, evident by the traditional “bat holding a coin” sign in Chinese and its façade, which retains the Chinese script and barred windows common to the business. Part of the same development

sees another three-story shophouse wrapped within the modern portion of the development just around the corner on Ship Street. As of press time, both shophouse addresses are being converted into restaurants. 60–66 Johnston Rd., Wanchai; 18 Ship St., Wanchai; both are open to the public. LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL BUILDING AND FRENCH MISSION BUILDING Hong Kong’s old buildings are typically of colonial, Ming dynasty or Ching dynasty provenance. Colonial history tends to be the better preserved and more accessible, and the Legislative Council Building, which anchors Central, is the best remaining example. Formerly the Supreme Court, this twostory, neoclassical granite edifice dates back to 1912, and features Ionic columns and a small domed roof. Only a short city block away is the former French Mission Building, which opened in 1917. This granite and red-brick structure with neat, black-shuttered windows now serves as a court house. Legislative Council Building 8 Jackson Rd.; French Mission Building 1 Battery Path; not open to the public but you can admire them from the outside.

the residence and office of the commander of the British forces, it’s put to good use today as a tea wares museum. 10 Cotton Tree Dr., Central; 852/2869-0690; free admission. DUDDELL STREET STEPS Literally throwing light on the heritage issue are these stone steps in Central, home to Hong Kong’s only remaining gas lamps. Perched on iron balustrades, the four antiquated lamps are still lit up at night. Between Ice House St. and Queen’s Rd., Central. ✚

FLAGSTAFF HOUSE Located in Hong Kong Park, this structure can lay claim to being the city’s oldest surviving Western-style building, dating back to 1846. Once T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

.

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insider

| neighborhood BANGKOK’S elite, the neighborhood of Phaholyothin was once regarded as a leafy green suburb, especially when compared to the city’s frenzied center. Though still pleasantly green, it’s shed its dozy reputation. In the past few years—some date it to the opening of the groundbreaking Reflections boutique hotel in 2004—the area has witnessed a deluge of fashionable restaurants, cafés, bars and clothiers, as well as flashy condominiums. Nowhere are these changes more apparent than along Phaholyothin Soi 7, better known as Soi Ari, and Phaholyothin Soi 5, or Ari Samphan. Indeed, the development surge forced Reflections to move a bit further afield last year. Below are six key addresses in this happening locale.

T

Bangkok’s New Groove. From authentic Thai delicacies to cuttingedge fashions, the trendy district of Ari offers plenty to residents and visitors alike. By NAPAMON ROONGWITOO

HE HOME OF

RELAX

Soi 1 on Ari is home to a stretch of boutiques, luring crowds of stylish locals. Passionate about fashion, Ravee Mungkunpol closely follows the latest trends from around the world and adapts them to suit Thai tastes. Check out her playfully classic designs at 2 Costume (5/4 Ari 1; 662/619-6692). The boutique also peddles handmade accessories imported from the Philippines.

SHOP

Shambalaya Spa & Gallery

5

Ph ah ol yo th in 1

3

So i

Ar

i4

So i

7

(S oi Ar i)

Ar

i So

iS am

an

La Villa Phaholyothin 6

(358Phaholyothin Rd.) is great place to shop or graze. We suggest the Portuguese egg tart at 7 ka-nom (66-2/613-0543; Bt40), a popular local chain. If you’re in the mood for something more substantial, stop by 8 Tum Ra berd (66-2/613-0546; lunch for two Bt200) for some super-spicy som tam and later salve your taste buds with a scoop of ice cream at 9 iberry (66-2/6130544; Bt40 to Bt50 per scoop), which offers unusual flavors such as tamarind, durian and black sesame. 56

1 an ph Sa m ri

4

So iA

Opened in 2006, lifestyle complex

1

2

ph

SNACK

ri

3

Nothing beats Thailand’s tropical heat better than a tall glass of iced coffee sweetened with condensed milk. In Ari, the best place to sample this classic Thai beverage is 3 Coffee Zelection (34 Ari; 662/619-6420). Housed in a cozy bungalow, this spot provides a sanctuary for coffee aficionados. Also available are delicious baked goods. Weather permitting, take a seat on the verandah and soak in the local atmosphere. EAT

8 9 7

6

Ph La V aho illa lyo thi n

PLAY

Want to mingle with Bangkok’s hipsters? Then drop by 5 Aaari Ba Bar (36/6 Ari; 66-2/279-7660), a Thai corruption of Ali Baba of The Arabian Nights. With its fireengine red interiors and lime green paper lanterns, the décor isn’t exactly inspired by the Middle East. Co-owner Janpen Uttarapat says the bar aims for a varied vibe. To prove its eclecticism, everything from airy Thai pop tunes to sultry jazz is on the speaker system.

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SNACK

A

BT S

So i

So i

A

ri

2

So i

A

ri

THAILAND

Ph aho lyo thi nR oad

1

(71/1 Ari; 66-2/357-1597) combines pampering with Thai handicrafts. Try the 60-minute, detoxifying coffee scrub and come out feeling recharged, relaxed, rejuvenated … and smelling like a latte. Afterwards, browse the selection of reasonably priced home décor pieces inspired by traditional designs and motifs.

Experience well-rendered Thai food at 4 Ban Mae Yui (53/1 Ari Samphan 1; 66-2/6199952; www.maeyui.com; dinner for two Bt250). Brightly colored furniture lends the dining room a modern feel, but the recipes on the menu have been passed down from generation to generation. This eatery specializes in noodle and rice dishes, including Sino-Thai standards such as khao pad num lieap, or fried rice with pork and Chinese olives. But the hands-down favorite is the pad thai with fresh king prawns. Homemade cakes and ice creams provide a great finish. Photographed by WASINEE CHANTAKORN


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I C O N . . . 6 3 | M U S T - H AV E S . . . 6 5

SPOTLIGHT...66|FASHION...68

St ylish Traveler CITY SLEEK

M O D E L : H A Y LY N N C O H E N / F O R D M O D E L S , I N C . ; H A I R : R O B E R T LY O N / J E D R O O T ; M A K E U P : J E N N A A N T O N / S E E M A N A G E M E N T

Cotton jacket, US$365, Theory; jersey shirt, US$395, and denim pants, US$415, Prada; scarf, US$355 , Hermès; patent calfskin tote, US$625, Kate Spade; patent leather flats, US$270, Belle by Sigerson Morrison; sunglasses, US$445, Roger Vivier; necklace with 22-karatgold–plated chain, US$108, and enamel bracelets with Swarovski crystals, US$ 150 each, Kenneth Jay Lane; watch with diamond-studded bezel and alligator strap, US$5,950, Bedat & Co.

URBAN LEGEND What to wear on your next city adventure? These sharp, versatile pieces are perfect for exploring uptown or downtown, day or night. Photographed by ARTHUR BELEBEAU. Styled by MIMI LOMBARDO

T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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stylish traveler | fashion

ON THE GO Silk dress, US$371, Milly; trench, US$395, Tommy Hilfiger; scarf, US$355, Hermès; leather tote, US$395, Kate Spade; flats, US$395, Sigerson Morrison; 18-karat-gold bracelet, US$5,900, Gucci.

STOCKISTS Theory www.theory.com; Prada www.prada.com; Hermès www.hermes.com; Kate Spade www.katespade.com; Belle by Sigerson Morrison www.sigersonmorrison.com; Roger Vivier www.rogervivier.com; Kenneth Jay Lane www.kennethjaylane.net; Bedat & Co. www.bedat.com; Milly www.millyny.com; Tommy Hilfiger www.tommy.com; Gucci www.gucci.com.

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icon | stylish traveler 3 More Options

Tumi 71-centimeter and 81-centimeter ballisticnylon trunks with vachetta leather trim, cotton inner lining, retractable handle and sealed-ball-bearing wheels, from US$2,595.

Looking to lighten your load? Then try these cabin-sized bags that are both light and stylish.

MANDARINA DUCK Weighing only 3.5 kilograms, this durable nylon case from the funky Italian bag company has all the straps and pockets you get in a larger suitcase (retails for around US$370).

SAMSONITE BLACK LABEL

ON A ROLL

This herringbone 5-kilogram case evokes the glamour of commercial aviation’s early days — but with today’s conveniences, including wheels that spin 360 degrees (retails for around US$515).

Tumi’s new suitcase is a contemporary take on the traditional steamer trunk. Photographed by NIGEL COX. Styled by MIMI LOMBARDO

SITTIPUN CHAITERDSIRI (3)

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HO COULD FORGET THE SCENE in Sabrina when Audrey Hepburn returns from

Paris a Continental sophisticate? As much as her new gamine-chic look, it was the mass of trunks she brought along that announced her as a woman of style. Today’s traveler might find it too difficult to get around with such luggage (even if William Holden were there to help carry it), but we could certainly use some vintage glamour. Enter Tumi’s hard-sided, handcrafted Townhouse case, designed by the company’s creative director, Nautica founder David Chu. The bag is modeled after an early-20th-century design, but made for a modern-day voyager. There’s the sturdy wooden frame, the separate accessories box and the polished nickel locks; then there’s the signature ballistic nylon, the retractable handle and the barely visible sealed-ball-bearing wheels. So now you can channel old Hollywood as you roll quietly, smoothly along. —A L E X A N D R A M A R S H A L L

PORSCHE DESIGN Sleek and functional, this 52centimeter trolley case boasts highquality wheels with sturdy rims, as you would expect from a luxury car maker (retails for around US$490).

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TIMELINE

Nothing adds polish to an outfit like the right timepiece. T+L Southeast Asia picks some of the hottest new styles in stores now for him and her. Photographed by SITTIPUN CHAITERDSIRI. Styled by ATINAN NITISUNTHONKUL FOR HIM

FOR HER “Brasilia,” gold and steel with diamonds Ebel

“Assioma,” 18karat yellow gold with an alligator strap Bulgari “Arcole,” yellow gold with diamonds Hermès Titanium case with black strap Porsche Design

“Ballon Bleu de Cartier,” 18-karat white gold with diamonds and a blue sapphire cabochon Cartier “J12,” black ceramic Chanel

“1972 Small Cambered,” rose gold with diamonds Vacheron Constantin

18-karat yellow gold with a faceted sapphire Cartier

“J12 Joaillerie,” white gold with pink sapphires and diamonds Chanel

“Gran’Chrono Astro,” rose gold Dubey & Schaldenbrand

“Patrimony,” white gold Vacheron Constantin

“Baby Star,” rose gold with diamonds Zenith

STOCKISTS: Bulgari www.bulgari.com; Porsche Design www. porschedesign.com; Chanel www.chanel.com; Cartier www.cartier.com; Ebel www.ebel.com; Zenith www.zenith.com Hermès www.hermes.com; Dubey & Schaldenbrand www.dubeywatch.com; Vacheron Constantin www. vacheron-constantin.com

18-karat yellow gold with steel case and strap Bulgari

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GLOBALGEMS For three up-and-coming jewelry designers, a love of travel informs their creations.

By RIMA SUQI. Photographed by JOHN LAWTON

ASHLEY DODGEN-MCCORMICK ASHA BY ADM ’VE ALWAYS HAD an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to start my own business,” says Ashley Dodgen-McCormick, whose accessories line, Asha by ADM, first gained attention at Calypso St. Barths. She is now expanding her collection to include bejeweled clutches. ■ TRAVEL RÉSUMÉ Dodgen-McCormick grew up speaking Spanish with her Cubanborn mother, learned French at age eight, and later studied in Italy and France, where she met jewelry designer Lorenz Bäumer, who helped get her started in the business. These days she travels everywhere from St.-Tropez to Turks and Caicos, where she recently stayed at Amanyara: “I love the resort’s Zen simplicity.” ■ CURRENT COLLECTION For her earrings, necklaces and rings, the designer uses semiprecious stones (rock crystal, moonstone, onyx, turquoise, white topaz) finished with 14karat white- and yellow-gold vermeil. “My pieces aren’t for wallflowers. I love big cabochon-cut stones.” ■ INSPIRATION Dodgen-McCormick is influenced by her mother’s Latin culture. “When I was young, I remember seeing gorgeous women wearing chandelier earrings on the beach in Rio. That’s the dichotomy of my aesthetic—a classic sensibility mixed with a more exotic, ethnic look.”

Bits and Baubles Clockwise from above: Jewelry and clutch by Asha by ADM; Ipanema beach in Rio, where Ashley DodgenMcCormick found inspiration for her work; the designer in her New York atelier.

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INSET (BEACH): ACHILLES MOREAUX / DREAMSTIME.COM

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MATTHEW CAMPBELL LAURENZA M.C.L DESIGN M ATTHEW CAMPBELL L AURENZA started making his colorful jewelry while he was at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Now he splits his time between Hong kong and Bangkok (www.mcldesign.net). ■ TRAVEL RÉSUMÉ Laurenza first visited Thailand in 1998. “My favorite spot in Thailand is the beach resort Zeavola, on Phi Phi Island,” he says. “It’s very private with beautiful beachside bungalows.” Laurenza is also a fan of Florence: “The city has embraced Modernism without sacrificing art and architecture.” ■ CURRENT COLLECTION Black rhodium– plated enamel set with precious and semiprecious stones. “Everything is handmade and hand-polished, and the stones are hand-set.” ■ INSPIRATION “I love the rose windows in Gothic cathedrals—the Duomo in Milan or Notre Dame in Paris. No matter how many times I see them, they still have a jawdropping effect on me.”

Worldly Goods Clockwise from top right: Matthew Campbell Laurenza; a stained-glass window in Paris’s Notre Dame; the designer’s enameled and black rhodium–plated bracelets and ring.

I N S E T ( W I N D O W ) : X AV I E R M A R C H A N T / D R E A M S T I M E . C O M ; I N S E T ( B A L I ) : C H R I S T I A N N O VA L / D R E A M S T I M E . C O M

JANIS PROVISOR JANIS PROVISOR JEWELRY A N ACCLAIMED PAINTER WITH works in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Janis Provisor became a jewelry designer by accident. The Brooklyn native began making pieces for herself a decade ago while living in Hong Kong and trying to get her rug company, Fort Street Studio, off the ground. When customers began buying the creations off her neck, she realized she was on to something. ■ TRAVEL RÉSUMÉ “My husband and I traveled all over China, Thailand, Japan and Vietnam. I adore Hangzhou, which was the capital of China during the Southern Sung [Song] dynasty. It’s surrounded by lovely parks and it’s also the silk capital of China.” ■ CURRENT COLLECTION Tourmaline, quartz, agate, labradorite, white jade and freshwater pearls are strung with 18- and 22-karat gold. Provisor mocks up each piece before assembly. ■ INSPIRATION “I’m drawn to random things, such as the beautiful light in Bali, or—my current obsession—the green cross that identifies pharmacies in Italy. I’m sure it will soon turn up in my jewelry.” ✚

Artistic Flourish Clockwise from top left: Janis Provisor in her New York studio; assorted necklaces from the designer’s collection; a Bali sunset, where Provisor draws inspiration from the light.

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stylish traveler | fashion

Rites of sprng Make a statement with two of this season’s hottest trends: graphic prints and jewel colors. Here, Hanoi’s Old Quarter provides a dreamy backdrop to these stunning looks. Photographed by NAT PRAKOBSANTISUK. Styled by ARAYA INDRA

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Two-toned printed silk top, Miu Miu.


Cotton-cashmere dress with latex appliqué and sunglasses, Marni; beret and bracelets, stylist’s own. Opposite: Silk-cotton printed tunic dress, Marni; hat and shoes, stylist’s own.


Printed knit vest cardigan and printed silk organdy skirt, Prada; bracelets, stylist’s own. Opposite: Cotton jersey dress with circular print, Fendi; scarf, Hermès; hat and shoes, stylist’s own.


Cotton-silk flared jacket with pearl buttons, Christian Dior; silk miniskirt, Miu Miu; belt and purse, Louis Vuitton; hat and shoes, stylist’s own. Opposite: Silk blouse with bow, knit pencil skirt with printed silk chiffon panels, cropped jacket, brooch and purse, Louis Vuitton; shoes and bracelets, stylist’s own. Hair and make-up: Tran Van Da. Model: Dinh Lan Phuong/ AREA Management. STOCKISTS Prada www.prada.com; Christian Dior www.dior.com; Miu Miu www.miumiu.com; Fendi www.fendi.com; Marni www.marni.com; Louis Vuitton www. louisvuitton.com.


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T+L Journal ADVENTURE 84 PORTFOLIO 88

Paradise Rebuilt It’s been 3½ years since the Asian tsunami devastated the southern Thai beach resort of Khao Lak. ADAM SKOLNICK returns to a place where a tragic past is now woven into an optimistic future. Photographed by CEDRIC ARNOLD

THAILAND

Sunbathers on the Similan Islands.

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T IS A NEAR-PERFECT AFTERNOON

on Thailand’s Andaman coast as Khao Lak’s sweeping bay reveals itself. Resort rooftops peek out from coconut palms, tourists lounge on golden sands and the turquoise sea gently licks the shore. A minute later we roll into town: tourists are everywhere, ducking into restaurants, souvenir stalls and scuba shops. There is now no question that this beach resort, devastated by the 2004 Asian tsunami, has come back to life. And then we are confronted with Khao Lak’s shadow—a police boat left stranded in an empty field by the tsunami, 500 meters from shore. We pull over and join a dozen tourists, who snap pictures and stare in silence. The moment drips with metaphor. Everything, good and bad, that has happened in Khao Lak since 2004 can be traced back to that sunny December morning that went sideways. Along with the beauty of the place, tourists here can’t ignore the shadow of its darkest hour. But I will soon learn that Khao Lak’s pain does not mute her charms, it only deepens them. For those of us who love Asia, the 2004 tsunami is one of those frozen macabre moments. You’ll always remember where you were when it hit. I was in Tokyo on my way to Indonesia, where I would be caught in a swirl of grief and relief efforts. My companion on this trip, photographer Cedric Arnold, was at home in Bangkok. A few hours later, in the midst of a tourist exodus, Arnold was arriving in Thailand’s disaster zone. Fishing villages and four-star resorts packed with people were gutted, some completely wiped off the map. Fishing trawlers were embedded into hillsides, water contaminated and farmland poisoned with sea salt. More than 5,000 people died, locals and tourists alike.

I Before and After From top: Things are back to normal on Khao Lak Beach; the same area of beach after the Asian tsunami struck in 2004; sifting through the debris after the tsunami; a police boat, washed 500 meters from the shore during the tsunami, is now a memorial.

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Ratree Kongwadmai, 35, a lifelong resident of the fishing village of Baan Nam Kem—where the tsunami’s onslaught was at its worse—lost her uncle, nephew, sister, brother, father and youngest daughter. When she returned to her home two days after the tsunami to search for her daughter’s remains, armed guards employed by a Bangkok developer and politician with underworld ties stopped her. The Bangkok developer was using the tsunami as a way to grab 67 hectares of land, most of which was ancestral beachfront property owned by 30 fishing families who never saw the need to document their claims. Now that nature had cleared the plots, the Bangkok developer planned to build a five-star resort on the village’s pristine, white-sand beach. “I told them, ‘we only want 80 rai [12.8 hectares], you can have everything else.’ But they refused,” Ratree says. The armed goons threw eggs at her, cut her power and repeatedly shoved guns in her face, but she never backed down. Then, The New York Times and the BBC reported her story, and 18 months ago she began to petition Thailand’s king, who has a history of intervening in land rights disputes. This spooked the Bangkok developer, who begrudgingly agreed to grant Ratree and her neighbors the 12.8 hectares of land. Ratree lives just a short drive from Baan Nam Kem Tsunami Memorial Park. The most tasteful and touching of all the local memorials—a massive black granite wave looming over a tiled wall scattered with names and photos of victims. She told me her story as we sat on the patio of her modest two-story home, accented by driftwood furniture, bubbling aquariums and a portrait of her lost daughter. Her home is now open to overnight guests, and she soon hopes to transform her property into a budget beach bungalow resort. For better or worse, tourism is coming to Baan Nam Kem. This certainly doesn’t come as a surprise to Kate Kemp, owner (with her husband, Andrew) of Khao Lak’s premier five-star spa property, The Sarojin, a 56-room, awardwinning resort on its own white-sand beach, 7 kilometers north of Khao Lak town. “I don’t know of another place in Thailand that has the same mix of offshore and inland beauty that Khao Lak has,” she says. “There are mangroves, beautiful rivers, waterfalls, spectacular diving.” On December 26, 2004, The Sarojin was nearly complete. But the tsunami blasted onto the beach and the resort’s rooms and suites were inundated with 5 meters of water. Walls were blown out, cars ended up in the lobby. But it didn’t take long for the Kemps to decide to rebuild. “The factors that convinced us to invest here hadn’t changed. Messes can be cleaned up,” Kate says. The Kemps didn’t just rebuild their property. They gave relief bonuses to all their staff, helped re-install traffic lights and rebuilt a nearby school. Ten months later they opened for business. “We were only at 10 percent capacity, but we were open. And at »

“I don’t know of another PLACE in Thailand that has the same mix of offshore and inland beauty”

Catch of the Day From top: Sunrise from a boat pier; diving gear on the Similan Islands; a fisherman tends his net.

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| dispatch Christmas [just one year after the disaster] we were full.” The Sarojin is now Khao Lak’s shining star. It won “Asia’s Leading Boutique Hotel” at the World Travel Awards in 2006 and 2007. Other hotels were rebuilt just as quickly. Le Méridien, the only other five-star property in Khao Lak, reopened around the same time. La Flora, once the area’s top luxury resort, was leveled by the tsunami (dozens of guests and staff perished), but it too has been rebuilt and now runs at near-full occupancy during high season. the beach for 20 years,” says Mama, a big, effervescent woman, as we devour fresh parrotfish rubbed with lemongrass and grilled with pineapple at her new restaurant on the highway just above Bang Niang Beach. The tsunami took her old restaurant and her father. The night after the waves hit, Mama found herself with her mother, her children and a huddle of about 30 survivors—local Thais, Burmese workers and foreign tourists. They were bruised, scared and hungry. Mama found some rice, convinced the Burmese to contribute their salted fish, lit a fire and started to cook. “For a moment, everyone was happy. At least we had something to eat,” she says. Her new place opened just two months after the tsunami. Her first customers were aid workers. A year later, dive operators started trickling back and, eventually, so did the tourists. When we visited, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. While thousands of tourists from dozens of nations visit Khao Lak every year, the Swedish, without a doubt, are the dominant force. That was true before the tsunami hit, and it’s true today. On my last day, I decide to dive in the Similan Islands, a national marine park 55 kilometers from Khao Lak. The Similans are regarded as having the best diving in Thailand. On the trip over I meet Viola Hellstrom, 39, from Stockholm. She is traveling with her husband, Par, and their three young children. Like the other families on board, they aren’t coming to the islands to dive, but to snorkel in the turquoise bays and enjoy the Similans’ magnificent whitesand, boulder-strewn beaches. But Viola has a deeper reason for being in Khao Lak. “My sister died in the tsunami,” she says as our speedboat roars into the open sea. Viola’s then two-year-old nephew, Hannes, was found alone that morning, but three days later he was tearfully reunited with his hospitalized father who had thought he’d lost both his wife and son. The reunion made international news. Ten days after the tsunami, Viola and her father came to Khao Lak to find her sister, Susanne Bergstrom. They found her body at Yan Yao temple, which

I “The THAI people are wonderful. They make it easy to travel with children. We learn a lot from them”

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HAD A RESTAURANT ON


had become a makeshift morgue. Viola’s parents spend two months each year in Khao Lak. This is Viola’s second trip here since the tsunami. “It’s become a very special place for us. And it’s much nicer here now. There is so much more greenery and there are many more tourists. Two years ago there was almost nobody here,” she says. “And, of course, the Thai people are wonderful. They make it easy to travel with children. We learn a lot from them.” The Similans do not disappoint. The diving—through submerged fields of boulders and around huge coral bommies—is superb. There are thousands of fish; at times, it feel like I am drifting in a Technicolor blizzard. Back on the beach, the Swedes are in full effect. In addition to the families on our boat, the luxury sailboat, Star Clipper, is anchored off the beach, while its dinghies buzz to shore carrying 100 more people. They are swimming, sunbathing and playing volleyball. And in the middle of all this are Viola, Par and their beautiful blonde children, splashing and laughing in the shallows. Viola’s trip isn’t just a tribute to a lost loved one. The family are here to teach their kids to snorkel and watch dolphins swim off the bow of our speedboat. They come here to enjoy life. They honor a memory, sure, but they will also form a dozen new ones. And that’s why the guests are heading back to Khao Lak’s rebuilt luxury hotels, it’s why backpackers will eventually find their way to Baan Nam Kem, it’s why Mama’s is full, and it’s why Khao Lak is once again Thailand’s next big thing. 

GUIDE TO KHAO LAK from Kuala Lumpur; Silk Air and Singapore Airlines fly from Singapore; and Dragon Airlines flies from Hong Kong. Khao Lak is about one-hour’s drive north of Phuket International Airport. Most hotels can arrange your transfer to Khao Lak, or you can rent a car at the airport.

Family Fun From top: Enjoying a run along Khao Lak Beach; Viola Hellstrom, from Sweden, with her family; The Sarojin resort’s spa; The Sarojin’s restaurant sits over a lotus pond. Opposite, from top: The crystal-clear waters of the Similan Islands are perfect for diving; squid fill a basket at the fishing village of Ban Nam Kem; Mama, behind the bar at Mama’s.

WHERE TO STAY The Sarojin 60 Moo 2, Khuk Khak; 66-76/427-900; www.sarojin.com; doubles from Bt12,500.

WHEN TO GO The dry season on the Andaman coast (November through March) offers the mildest weather and least rain. From May, rain starts to fall, the seas become rough and dive shops close. GETTING THERE Thai Airways and budget carriers Nok Air, AirAsia and One-Two-Go fly from Bangkok to Phuket; Malaysian Airlines and AirAsia fly

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK Mama’s Café You’ll have to search for this restaurant, but it’s well worth it. Hwy. 4, Bang Niang (next to 7-Eleven). Happy Snapper 5/2 Moo 7, Khao Lak; 66-76/423-540. WHAT TO DO Wicked Diving runs dive trips to the Similan Islands throughout the dry season. 4/17 Moo 7, Khao Lak; 66/8433-31522; www. wickeddiving.com.

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| adventure to become Action-Adventure Girl. Despite being one of those rare individuals actually born in Manhattan, I have spent most of my adult life at a remove from sprawling cities, where every indulgence is a mobile phone call away. But the wide-open spaces of my home are not just far from civilization because they have more than their share of mobile phone dead zones. My base is on the western edge of the Adirondacks in the northeastern part of New York State, south of a barren plateau famous for its extreme snowfall and its populations of bald eagles, moose and black bears. From here, I am often compelled to go to destinations even more remoteâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;rain forests in Fiji, uncharted islands in the Palawan archipelago, Aboriginal camps in the Australian outback,

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T WAS NEVER MY INTENTION

Luxury, off the Grid The creature comforts of civilization now await travelers in the most distant corners of the world, thanks to a number of pioneering resorts. But for SHANE MITCHELL itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the simple things that matter most. Illustrated by JEAN-PHILIPPE DELHOMME

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villages in the Himalayan foothills. I like being the first one there. (Well, the first Western woman, anyway.) And my drive definitely stems from an abiding fascination with uncompromised cultures and landscapes, which often lack such rudimentary services as indoor plumbing or electrical outlets. Increasingly, it seems, others share the same interest—although unlike me, they aren’t always willing to sacrifice the comforts of home. This has given rise to a subset of high-end hoteliers and outfitters eager to operate on the fringes of civilization, while still providing for every First World whim. It’s been 20 years since the first Amanresort opened on an isolated beach in southern Thailand. (These days, Phuket isn’t so remote.) Since then, the company has become a standard-bearer for what founder Adrian Zecha calls “sincere luxury,” introducing the concept to tourism frontiers such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines (there are also resorts in other destinations, from the French Alps to the Caribbean). His fifth Bhutanese outpost, Amankora Bumthang, opened last year in the Choekhor Valley next to the Wangdicholing Palace. Essentially, Aman’s concept of comfort in a remote setting equals a generous amount of private space, curated artwork, sunken marble tubs and spa treatments. Meals always have an indigenous flavor. “After a day of exploring,” says executive director Trina Ebert, “we want our guests to have happy stomachs.” Of course, now Amanresorts has plenty of competition—many others are also jockeying for the attention of adventurers who favor a soft landing at the end of their day. West of the prime meridian, Explora’s Modernist hotels in Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park and in the Atacama Desert have attracted upscale travelers to two of the starkest regions on the South American continent. The company recently expanded its portfolio offshore to the new 30-room Posada de Mike Rapu, which faces the blank Pacific on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), slightly south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Explora also has a Travesía (Spanish for “journey”) tour to the Salar de Uyuni— one of the world’s highest salt flats—between Bolivia and Chile, although the tent accommodation is more Orvis than opulent. Uncharted Outposts handpicks individually owned wilderness camps and outback stations from Namibia to Australia’s Northern Territory. All have an open-plan, rustic sensibility that inspires a desire for pith helmets and khaki garb with a thousand zippered compartments. Even so, the bars are stocked with chilled beverages (potable ice is itself quite a rare commodity in some parts of

the world), and you’ll never share the infinity pools with submerged hippos or toothy crocs. One of its newest properties is the Nomad Tarangire Safari Camp, deep in a 2,600-square-kilometer national park among Tanzania’s central highlands. The look would appeal to anyone harboring fantasies of Arabian nights: arched Bedouin tents, kilim rugs, Turkish brass lamps, oriental throw pillows. So how exactly do you get completely off the grid when it keeps expanding? Frankly, remoteness doesn’t always appeal on its own. One of my all-time favorite narratives is Roughing It, Mark Twain’s hilarious tale of a hapless tenderfoot who spends several years of “variegated vagabondizing” in the Nevada Territory, all the while encountering gold prospectors, polygamists, outlaws, coyotes and other mythic phenomena of the Wild West. His account of crossing an alkali desert near Salt Lake under the

I WOUND UP IN A CHAIR

car, air-conditioned and with tolerable meal service —probably the best carriage from which to see India’s middle class on the move

midday sun says it all: “The poetry was all in the anticipation—there is none in the reality.” These days, the focus has shifted to the Wild East. Catherine Heald, of Remote Lands, a custom tour company based in Manhattan that specializes in “tailor-made once-in-a-lifetime” trips to such destinations as Borneo and Bangladesh, asserts: “Our goal is to get people into the places far beyond their comfort level. If you want a profound, lifechanging experience, you need some difficulty in order to be moved emotionally.” ITH GENUINELY LAVISH appointments cropping up in the wild, the meaning of basic necessities has also changed. By its very nature, certain gear—anything dependent on electrical outlets or other forms of connectivity—is expendable when journeying to a new frontier. Who really needs an iPod when a Fijian choir is willing to serenade? And although I’ve figured out how to download episodes of Lost onto my laptop and have largely »

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mastered Wi-Fi, I try to leave it at home, too. Whenever I have been surprised by small comforts (a bucket shower, a clean blanket, a cold drink) in outermost circumstances, or have found myself smugly planning ahead (my own tea bags, toilet tissue, painkillers and chocolate-covered nuts) to counter mild deprivation in these locales, it has served to remind me that each degree of ease has a corollary, but entirely individual, tolerance for discomfort. Like pool butlers. I can definitely do without them. Porters, on the other hand, are, well, handy. Even with my whatever-fits-in-onebag packing rule, I only stand 157 centimeters in my Jimmy Choos—I’m always grateful to have someone sling my leather tote into an overhead rack on a crack-of-dawn train to Mombassa or Siberia or the Himalayas. HE DEHRADUN SHATABDI EXPRESS takes 4½ hours to travel 260 kilometers between New Delhi and Rishikesh, the holy gateway for yogic converts and impassioned Beatles-trivia buffs. (It is also home to Ananda in the Himalayas, a mellow spa retreat with three handsome

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new villas high above the rushing brown Ganges River.) Since executive class was sold out on my recent trip there, I wound up in a chair car, still air-conditioned and with tolerable meal service, and probably the best carriage from which to see middle-class India on the move. (Do not be fooled by sleeper class, a misnomer for the cattle cars where travelers are crammed onto bench seats, clog the aisles and hang out of open doorways, gasping for fresh air.) Later this year, however, impatient pilgrims will be able to shorten their trip to the ashrams by hours when Dehradun Airport, currently closed for expansion, reopens. To my mind, that will be a shame, especially after observing life in Uttarakhand unfurl outside the train window. And then there’s the priceless farewell as the train finally pulls into Haridwar station. The loudspeaker crackles to life with a polite, disembodied message from an anonymous lady representing Indian Railways. She trills, “We wish you a comfortable and effortless journey.” ✚ Shane Mitchell is a special correspondent for Travel + Leisure.

GUIDE TO GOING OFF THE GRID IN STYLE HOTELS Amanresorts’ fifth Amankora Bumthang lodge, in Bhutan, opened in October 2007 (1-800/477-9180; www. amanresorts.com; doubles from US$700). The Ananda in the Himalayas spa and hotel is located near Rishikesh, India, in the foothills of the Himalayas (91-1378/227-500; www.anandaspa.com; doubles from US$2,794 for three nights, including meals). The newest Explora hotel, Posada de Mike Rapu, on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), opened in December 2007 (1-866/7506699; www.explora.com; doubles from US$3,588 for three nights, including all meals and activities). The 10-day Travesía tour to the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia starts at US$5,370 per person, double, and includes transport, meals and activities. OUTFITTERS Abercrombie & Kent, the world’s largest luxury outfitter, has

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itineraries on all seven continents that include cruises, train journeys and tailor-made trips by private jet — as well as safaris, its original specialty, in both southern and eastern Africa (1-800/554-7016; www. abercrombiekent.com). Geographic Expeditions began as an adventure outfitter, but has incorporated cushier stops into its excursions. The Australian outback trips stop at Barossa Valley wineries and include transfers by private plane (1800/777-8183; www.geoex.com). Latin Excursions has helped raise the travel profile of South America with high-end cruises on the Amazon and in the Galápagos, as well as bespoke itineraries in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Among its newest offerings is a 14-day trip to Brazil’s northeast, where the beaches have long been more dazzling than the accommodations. Land Rovers and private houses that have been outfitted to the

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standards of its clients help ease the way (1-866/626-3750; www. latinexcursions.com; 14-day Brazil trip US$5,500 per person). For travelers not wishing to schedule their trip to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast around the dates set by an outfitter, Mountain Travel Sobek relaunched its Private Adventures last October. Travelers can choose from 54 itineraries in 33 countries. There is a premium for privacy, however. A 14-day group trip to Annapurna, in the Himalayas, booked as a Private Adventure starts at US$3,495, versus US$2,295 per person, double (1-888/687-6235; www. mtsobek.com). Off the Beaten Path, based in Bozeman, Montana, specializes in itineraries to destinations throughout North and South America (as well as New Zealand, where it offers a two-week backcountry hiking trip on a halfdozen dates each year). Like the other outfitters listed here, customized trips — arranging for

a yacht to explore the more remote stretches of the Alaska coastline, a tailored itinerary exploring the biospheres and ruins of the Yucatán by day, with nights spent in restored haciendas — complement its catalogue of set itineraries (1-800/445-2995; www. offthebeatenpath.com). Operating in 16 countries in Asia, Remote Lands also creates custom trips with a private jet option. Prices vary depending on the itinerary, but usually range from US$1,000 per person per day, including some meals but not airfare to and from your home country (1-646/415-8092; www.remotelands.com). Operating since 1972, Uncharted Outposts selects properties in Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand — it currently works with more than 200, from safari lodges to island resorts — and also organizes individual itineraries (1-888/995-0909; www.unchartedoutposts.com). —JOHN NEWTON


t+l journal | portfolio An exquisite sandstone carving at the hilltop Phnom Bok ruins.

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The Other Angkor After more than a dozen visits, photographer PALANI MOHAN still finds untouched beauty and tranquility in Cambodia’s most famous attraction Southeast Asia’s most awe-inspiring historical sights, though at times, the busloads of visitors flocking to the ancient temples can distract from their majesty. On a recent trip to Siem Reap, Kuala Lumpur–based photographer Palani Mohan discovered that you can still find untrammeled ruins as long as you put in a little bit of extra effort. “These places are only half an hour down the road from the main temples and often times I would be the only person there,” he says. Mohan, who’s been visiting the area since 1994, also points out that Angkor isn’t just about the glorious, mysterious past. It’s also home to scores of Cambodians. “Angkor also means the sights you see when you’re going from temple to temple—people living their lives,” he says. “Tourists might see them while traveling in their cars at 80 kilometers per hour, but they don’t stop.”

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Cycling past Thommanon, one of a pair of Hindu temples built at the end of the 11th century.

The Phnom Kulen temple waterfall, where the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Age of Angkorâ&#x20AC;? began.

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Daily life goes on inside the sprawling Angkor temple complex.

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The view from the hilltop Phnom Bok ruins.

Phnom Bok is one of three hilltop temples built during the reign of King Yasovarman (A.D. 889â&#x20AC;&#x201C;910).

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Young monks play up for the camera at Phnom Bok monastery.

Beng Malea, built in the 12th century in the style of Angkor Wat, remains unrestored.

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Built in the 10th century, Banteay Srei is renowned for its elaborate decorative wall carvings.

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The laid-back charms of BORACAY SAN FRANCISCO: green, clean, organic DREAM TRIPS: get away from it all A taste of the Far East DOWN UNDER 95


Early evening on White Beach.

Despite the changes that mass tourism inevitably charm that made it one of the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s treads its talcum-powder sands and tells us


Shifting sands brings, BORACAY still retains the laid-back most consummate getaways. CHRIS KUCWAY why. Photographed by EMILY NATHAN 97


though no one is going to stop you if a small amount finds its way into your bag. Stay cool. Just don’t announce it when leaving the country. We’re talking here—keep your voice down— about … beach sand. Not just any sand, mind you, but the White Beach version. Sand that—as fine as flour as it is—should mean it’s a crime to wear sandals on the beach. That powdery feel underfoot on White Beach means that it never gets too hot, not even under a mid-afternoon sun. This isn’t even the same stuff found one rocky promontory away at Diniwad Beach, where the sand is coarser and hotter on the soles of your feet. One sun lover, her island experience coming through loud and clear, offers up a revelation that comes only with long hours of tanning. Someone, she intones from behind oversized shades and a waft of coconut-scented sunscreen, should introduce a grain count for beach sand along the lines of thread counts used in fine bedding. That way, there would be a definitive way to explain how wonderful the sand at White Beach really is. For now, the only way to do that is to kick off your flip-flops and curl your toes into this, the good stuff. Talk about popular beach resorts like Boracay often revolves around the theme that things aren’t what they were a generation ago. The water was warmer then, the beer colder, the natives friendlier. In Boracay’s case, there was also no electricity, no transport and ice had to be brought over from nearby Caticlan. Where some concerns are valid (take the environmental impact of 300,000 visitors a year on the island, for instance), many are part of a need we all have to tell friends that we’ve been there, done that—long ago, when things were as brilliant as the noonday tropical sun. Yet Boracay still stands out simply because it offers a perfect break from the routine—easy access to a beautiful beach and warm, shallow waters with all the trimmings, for a few days—which is exactly what many of us need. Relax, shop a little, eat. It’s a place to lose yourself for three or four nights without giving up the creature comforts of home. » 98

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They sell vials of the stuff in D*talipapa market. It’s illegal to import foreign versions of it onto the island. You shouldn’t take it off Boracay either,


Ship to Shore Clockwise from right: Lounge chairs in the shade on White Beach; a tasty prawn dish; kicking back in a hammock; a paraw waits for passengers for a sunset cruise.

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On the beach is EVERYTHING you need and then some. There’s the irony of touts selling knock-off watches in a place where TIME couldn’t be less relevant

Late afternoon on White Beach.

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Island Style From top: A motorized cyclo available for hire; a boy jumps off a ladder at Spider House, a hotel perched on the cliff at Diniwad Beach; a bag of dried fish at D*talipapa market; a local kiteboard instructor.

Today, White Beach is a strip where waves of the 21st century crash into the real thing from the sea. A single road runs the length of the beach behind the resorts. Coiled ropes nailed into the pavement act as speed bumps, and the road signs are the first indication that you need to be in holiday mode: “One way. This way.” It’s a spot to bring out your inner rock star: get a tattoo, remove a tattoo. Better yet, get a temporary tattoo and your hair, if you have any left, done up in dreadlocks. Little here is serious, so you shouldn’t be either. White Beach reveals itself in well-defined stages. The southernmost section, dubbed Station 3, is aimed at the backpacking set; Station 2 is loud and lively, full of water sports and shopping in the day, dining and drinking until all hours of the night. Further north, past a section of private, fencedoff land, is Station 1. Here, the resorts spread themselves out a little further and Boracay is at its most sedate. Sure, there are signs that this little island has lost some of its panache; nearby Cebu received almost twice as many visitors in the first six months of last year. More obvious is the call from the Philippine government for tour guides willing to learn Mandarin. Or the fact that new condos, priced from US$180,000, are being snapped up mainly by Russians. And don’t even get started on the mirror ball in the palm tree or young Korean couples strolling around in matching outfits. The government has put in place a temporary ban on new construction. It started two weeks ago or last November. This being the Philippines, no one is quite sure. On the beach is everything you need and then some. There’s the irony of touts selling knock-off watches in a place where time couldn’t be less relevant. Yet they aren’t aggressive. No need. If you don’t want to drop P250 for a spin on a banana boat, there’s always parasailing. Or kneeboarding. Waterskiing, sir? How about a jet ski for half an hour at P2,000? If none of these appeal, and the need to get away from all those getting away from it all is » 101


Food and Fun Clockwise from right: Ready for an evening on White Beach; young Manila vacationers with fruit shakes from Jonahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, at D*Mall; Turkish tourist and kiteboarder, Sedat Celenk; a menu board at Crazy Crepes, also in D*mall.


Winds that regularly BLAST up to 45 kilometers per hour announce your presence on Bulabog Beach

Meredith Oatley, a kiteboard instructor, on Bulabog Beach.

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Easy Living From top: Spider House; sunbathers taking a siesta on White Beach; traditional Filipino garlic rice; dusk on White Beach.

strong, head out on a paraw, the Filipino version of an outrigger, at sunset with a cold drink in hand. From the netted wing of the sailboat, even the popular, western side of the island is quiet as the sinking sun marks the end of another day. Winds that regularly blast up to 45 kilometers per hour announce your presence on Bulabog Beach, on the eastern side of the island. It’s Thursday night and that means a beachside barbecue behind strategically placed panes of plastic sheeting wrapped around bamboo, and live music from a Filipino trio. Kite-surfing instructors Bong and Ryan are on guitars, while a third guy no one seems to know keeps the beat on a wooden box. Here you’ll find visitors from around the world, citizens of the wind really. Danes, Turks, Italians, Brits and Americans, and whoever else is in town to kite surf. This is where a gaudy green straw hat with “Boracay” splashed across its front is not out of place. “We call surfers ‘shark bait,’” shouts twentysomething Brit, Kevin, giving the lay of the sea amid the din of 1990’s hits and misses. “And we call windsurfers ‘pole dancers.’” Come to think of it, he doesn’t know what kite surfers are called, but he’s not worried about it either. It’s all in jest and he needs another beer. Where White Beach has fine sand, the eastern side of the island offers a coarser, brown variety. And the wind. It can whip up to 75 kilometers per hour or more. On the northern tip of the island, Puka Beach is also coarse, but white from the shell of the same name. “Each beach has a personality of its own,” explains Patsy Zarandin who, along with her American husband, runs a nipa-andbamboo bar on Bulabog. “When the seasons change, so does the beach.” So does the crowd. Kite surfers follow the seasons, going where the wind is. Along Bulabog, even in high season, the nipaand-bamboo huts are tellingly cheap, with monthly rates starting at US$200, about half of what one night in a five-star resort on the other side of the island would cost. Shorter stays are available, but this is kitesurfer territory, where watches and calendars really are a novelty. This, in short, is » 104


A Korean tourist at D*Mall.

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what Boracay used to be like. It’s a sure sign that an island is popular once larger hotel chains, such as the Shangri-La, open up. That hasn’t happened just yet but the company is building a resort at the northern tip of the island slated to open in September with 183 guestrooms and 36 villas. Still, the first inkling of high-end accommodation has already entered the game. As the Philippines’ only member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Discovery Shores, at the northern end of White Beach, plays that card. The resort’s clean white lines and overly attentive staff are a sure reminder that Boracay is no longer simply a backpackers’ getaway. That’s been true for years—this is simply an exclamation mark on the point. A small canyon of 87 suites, three levels high, encloses the resort’s swimming pool and 14-meter waterfall. At sunset you could be fooled into thinking you’re in Miami. The best thing about that idea is that (did I say this already?) the sand is better here than in Florida. For small groups or families, renting a beach house is still an affordable and intimate option. Tucked into a hillside on Diniwad Beach is Casa Mika, a Filipino-style wood-and-bamboo house with gardens that climb up a cliff for panoramic views over the water. As romantic as the place sounds, it requires stiff breezes to make a stay comfortable and mosquito-free. More down-to-earth (in fact, more down-to-thesand) is a trio of homes right on White Beach, where the sea is only a Frisbee toss away. Each has its own quirks, but Robinson Beach House, Tete a Tete and Villa Kaloo are all worth checking out. Just beyond Diniwad Beach is Spider House, a seven-room, P3,000-a-night spot that looks like something straight out of The Flintstones. Bamboo floors and stone walls cling to the rock face, sweeping out over the turquoise water. If the local seven-year-olds are anything to go by, it’s a great place for a dip at your doorstep. Smack in the middle of D*mall in Station 2, The Tides appears almost as a mirage. From the front lobby to the 60 guestrooms, the place seems plucked out of a posh interior design magazine. Air conditioning, hot-and-cold water and a sundeck pool make certain guests are above the fray in this, the busiest stretch of the island. There’s an endless array of cheaper accommodation, particularly around Station 3, with walk-in rates starting around P1,000 a night.

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IR PRAWN? SIR LOBSTER? Sir marlin? No, this isn’t some

strange underwater reception line at a high-society gathering. Instead it’s the chorus that awaits at the D*talipapa market, really little more than a sheet-metal roof above a constantly shifting supply of seafood. Mounds of mussels, otherworldly sized lobsters at P1,800 per kilo—a few hundred less with some bargaining smarts—medium-sized prawns at P650 per kilo. If your appetite is big enough, there’s also squid, blue marlin and chunks of red tuna that will leave you searching for your own personal cook. Fortunately, the lunchtime journey isn’t over just yet. “We accept cooking service” signs abound in the nearby lanes. Take your catch to any one of these eateries fronted by plastic or rattan chairs and tables and the hard work is done for you. That kilo of prawns can be cooked in five ways, anything from steamed to stir-fried with garlic, the service costing between P100 and P150. On an island that offers everything when it comes to food, the market feels like a local secret. Filipinos pack the place at lunch. For dessert there are fresh mangoes, pineapples, papayas and coconuts close at hand. Or some homemade offerings from a small bakeshop with slices of pineapple pie for P7.50 or the purple ube cake for only P5. The most obvious spot for eating is along the beach, where fresh fruit is available at any time during the day from women carrying basket-loads of pineapples and mangoes on their heads. Later in the afternoon, the smell of grilled chori burgers, Boracay’s take on fast food (think of a chorizo sausage turned into a burger) wafts along the waterfront. Healthier, Jonah’s Juice Bar at Station 1 offers four dozen takes on frozen juice shakes. Puka Beach on the island’s north end is home to a handful of huts serving freshly caught fish with rice. It is well worth the trek to see a calmer side of the island. Beyond that, Western fast food in all its incarnations is plentiful along White Beach. English or Filipino breakfasts, crêpes or enchiladas, iced coffee or a San Miguel, Greek or Thai, it’s all here and then some. You may even notice a guy zipping around the backstreets of the island decked out in yellow and black giving a thumbs-up and a smile as wide as the island to everyone he meets. He’s the Yellow Cab Pizza deliveryman. Yellow Cab Pizza has a sit-down outlet between Stations 2 and 3 on the beach, serving 14 types of pizza, each with a New York City twist. »

Paraws dot the waters off White Beach.

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A Taste of Paradise Clockwise from right: The roof terrace at Discovery Shores’ spa; the beachfront restaurant at Discovery Shores; the days’ specials at Friday’s restaurant on White Beach; a Greek salad at Zuzuni restaurant.

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D*Mall on the beach.

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Menu quality follows the level of resorts, so it’s no surprise that they’re improving. Friday’s offers a buffet every Friday night where Filipino, Japanese, Western and almost every other type of food you could imagine is on offer; the best advice is to skip lunch that day. Setting the bar a bit higher is Colombian chef David Pardo de Ayala at the Sands restaurant at Discovery Shores. He’s taken classic Filipino dishes and given them a contemporary, light twist. Count grilled prawns with guacamole or chicken inasal, a lemongrass-like bath, in that category. Spicy seared tuna with soba noodles, the wasabi kick coming in the noodles, isn’t really Filipino (or Japanese or Western for that matter) … and who cares? Come nightfall, Boracay’s famous nightlife—and that mirror ball—swing into action. Station 2 is the center of it all, with the beach lit up almost as brightly as it is during the day. Different beach bars are discernible only by their furniture on the sand. Chairs are fashioned out of driftwood, beanbags, nipa lounges or even beach beds. The homesick perch themselves on bar stools doing what they would do at home, drink and watch sports on television. For a livelier take on any evening, simply follow the speakers blasting techno, rock or reggae until 3 A.M.

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about a pair of rubber flip-flops that, when side-by-side, merge into Bob Marley’s face? No matter how much you fight it, Get Up, Stand Up drums through your head. The lanes at D*talipapa market serve up an endless run of T-shirts that remind you where you are: Boracay, the Philippines. At a shop called HAT CAN YOU SAY

Lonely Planet, an industrious Filipino hand-paints T-shirts of any beach scene you can conjure for P450. Key chains and fridge magnets, sun hats and beach bags, flimsy wallets, skimpy bikinis and baggy shorts, all boldly proclaim the fact that you’ve visited the island. Just to break the monotony hangs one string laden with small purses made from, and retaining the shape of, skinned frogs. Who would want to keep their pocket change in the belly of one of these brown numbers is anyone’s guess. A less-suspect gift might be the colorful photo frames made of translucent capriz shells. Once the water sports have waned, food is no longer a concern and shopping has run its course, there’s always that fallback option of simply relaxing. The idea of a massage in Boracay has grown from an hour-long rub on a beach mat to classier, more expensive options. A key ingredient at the new Shangri-La will be CHI, a top-end spa offering Chinese- and Himalayan-inspired treatments. For now, Mandala Spa has two outlets, the original stand-alone facility in Station 3 and a newer spa at Discovery Shores. Either way, it offers a long list of treatments: pre-tanning, post-tanning, or even a session for anyone who has had too much sun. A Filipino take on the spa experience includes a Hilot treatment, where heated vacuum cupping helps to offset any imbalances before a deep-tissue massage itself. Dagdagay, a foot massage using bamboo sticks (think of a Chinese-food diner having a go at your feet with chopsticks), is said to stimulate the immune system. As good as it will leave you feeling, there’s no guarantee that it will take your mind off of the fine sand on the beach, Boracay’s number one stimulant. 

GUIDE TO BORACAY WHEN TO GO High season and the best weather last from November to June, though the rest of the year also attracts visitors. White Beach is windy between July and October, with afternoon rains, but there’s still enough sun to warrant a visit. GETTING THERE From Manila International Airport’s Terminal 2, Air Philippines (eight flights a day) offers convenient connections with the country’s international carrier, Philippine Airlines. From Manila’s domestic terminal, Seair has 10 flights a day and Asian Spirit offers 13 flights daily. All three fly to Caticlan Airport, a short walk from the P50 banca ride to Boracay. Motorized tricycles are available for P40 or less up and down the road behind White Beach.

WHERE TO STAY Discovery Shores Station 1, Balabag; 63-6/288-4500; www. discoveryshoresboracay.com; suites from US$350. Spider House Diniwad Beach; 63-6/288-4568; doubles from P3,000. SPR Real Estate handles bookings for Casa Mika, Robinson, Tete a Tete and Villa Kaloo. Station 2, Balabag; 63-6/288-3631; www.sprboracay. com; from US$250. The Tides Station 2, Balabag; 63-6/288-517; www.tidesboracay. com; doubles from P6,300. WHERE TO EAT Sands Station 1, Balabag; 636/288-4500; dinner for two P1,500. D*talipapa market Station 2, Balabag; dinner for two P1,000. Friday’s Station 1, Balabag; 63-6/288-6200.

Yellow Cab Pizza Between Stations 2 and 3; 63-6/288-5550; pizza for two P400. Jonah’s Fruit Shakes Station 1. WHAT TO DO Water sports Every type of water activity is available on Boracay, with the main dive shops and boat-charter companies packed in tight around Stations 2 and 3. Parasailing (P2,500), jet skis (P2,000 for 30 minutes) and waterskiing (P2,500 for 30 minutes) are some options. Prices are similar at most stops, but compare before committing.

Mandala Spa Spa sessions from 75 minutes to four hours. Discovery Shores, Station 1, 63-6/288-5857; www. mandalaspa.com; treatments from P600.

Dog days on White Beach.

D*mall The pedestrian mall is home to innumerable restaurants, T-shirt shops, a grocery store, pharmacy, climbing wall and even a small Ferris wheel. Station 2.

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DESIGNED FORLIVING BY KARRIE JACOBS PHOTOGRAPHED BY AMANDA MARSALIS

San Francisco is green, clean and organic — the architecture is high-tech and eco-friendly, and the food is excruciatingly fresh and local. Is this the world’s first true 21st-century city? 110


The Federal Building in San Francisco, designed by Thom Mayne. Opposite: San Franciscoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Golden Gate Bridge.

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A view of downtown. Center: San Francisco Bay. Far right: Nemo Gould, a recent artist-in-residence at SF Recycling & Disposal.

I’ve prepared for my appointment with Mayor Gavin Newsom by stopping at Citizen Cake, a Hayes Valley restaurant where my iced coffee is made with organic milk and my chocolate cream–filled cookies, a sophisticated take on the Oreo, are spiked with fleur de sel. But even the infusion of sugar, caffeine and sea salt can’t help me keep up with the mayor who, despite being trapped behind his enormous traditional wooden desk, is a bundle of nervous energy as he rattles off the ways in which San Francisco is becoming America’s premier green city. Newsom uses the word exponentially a lot, as in “exponentially more trees” or “exponentially more solar.” In general, there will be exponentially more of things green and exponentially less of things that are not, such as plastic shopping bags (a ban went into effect last winter) and plastic water bottles. Mayor Newsom has in fact just announced that city employees will have to drink filtered tap water. The mayor, on the day I meet him, is clutching what could be his last bottle of Arrowhead Springs. But after about 20 minutes of environmental rat-a-tat-tat, the mayor slows down. He grows reflective. “Why do we do all this?” he asks. “Because it’s the right thing to do. Why is it the right thing to do? Well, that’s self-explanatory. Do we also think it creates an environment, literally and figuratively, that attracts people? You better believe it. And that’s important as well. We’re consistently among the top travel destinations in the world. We think people are attracted to the values of this city.” That last point grabs my attention. So people visit San Francisco not because they want to ride the cable cars or tour Alcatraz, but because of the city’s values? The mayor’s assertion strikes me because I’ve been thinking for a while about the future of cities, looking for signs of 21st-century urbanism. I’m not particularly interested in the Dubai model, or the China model, both of which seem to be riffs on old-fashioned ideas about the future being a place where everything is bigger and shinier. No, I’m looking for a city that might correct the excesses of the previous 112


century and come up with new formulas—architectural and otherwise—for the future. The question I ask myself as I drive into town, feeling smug in my rented Honda Civic Hybrid (San Francisco is second only to Los Angeles in the number of hybrids purchased— practically every other car here is a Prius), is this: how do values inscribe themselves on the urban landscape? Just what might clue you in that this is a highly evolved new-millennium city and not a regressive leftover from the previous era? Also: what exactly does a values-oriented tourist do? What sorts of landmarks should I visit? What new attractions join Coit Tower and the revolving bar at the Hyatt? My first move is to check in to the Orchard Garden Hotel, which boasts that it’s America’s first LEED-certified property. LEED, as you probably know by now, stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it is a checklist of strategies for making buildings more sustainable that’s been developed and promoted by an organization called the Green Buildings Council. It’s become widely accepted—developers like having a checklist—and LEED certification is the au courant version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The Orchard Garden, which opened in late 2006, is built from concrete made of recycled fly ash and sustainably harvested wood. The building is well insulated, energy-efficient and

designed with “soothing, spa-inspired tones.” The place pretty much radiates goodness. I find the Scandinavian décor of my room a little bland—it’s all pale wood and leaf patterns—but it is very comfortable, and the location, at Bush and Grant, where Chinatown hits Union Square, is perfect. My second move is to dash down to the Ferry Building, originally completed in 1898 as the main gateway to the city. In 2003, after years of painstaking renovation, it reopened as a foodie haven with more than 30 vendors, selling everything from locally produced olive oil to chocolates. There’s a farmers’ market on Tuesdays and Saturdays where the produce includes California specialties like navel oranges, avocados and artichokes. The Saturday farmers’ market is over for the day by the time I arrive, so I take a seat at the Hog Island Oyster Bar inside the Ferry Building. I order a half-dozen Sweetwater oysters, harvested in Marin County’s Tomales Bay, and a Scrimshaw Pilsner, brewed up the coast in Fort Bragg. It’s local food, untainted by corporate culture, unsullied by jet travel. Al Green’s greatest hits are playing on the sound system. I’m eating organic, drinking organic, looking out at the bay, listening to Green sing “Love and Happiness,” and thinking about how supremely intertwined virtue and pleasure are in this town. » 113


In Charge Left: San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom at City Hall. Opposite: Inside San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace.

Actually, I think that’s the real draw. People don’t come to San Francisco just for its values, they come because those values are always presented as part of an enviable lifestyle. Later in my visit, I mention to Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters, the inventor of California cuisine and lately a proponent of the Slow Food movement, that while green activism is often identified with things you can’t have—rules and prohibitions—this revolution in dining seems very much to be about pleasure. “It is,” she says. “It’s all about bringing people to biodiversity and sustainability through pleasure. By eating heirloom tomatoes, you can be doing exactly the right thing and having the flavor and experience. It’s the best.” But even San Francisco, as alluringly progressive as it often is, does not wholeheartedly embrace change. It can be a confounding place: slow-moving, provincial and weirdly dysfunctional. I’ve been visiting at regular intervals since I was in college. On my first trip, in the 1970’s, bleary-eyed from nights spent in a series of hellish posthippie crash pads, I wandered into the lobby of the Embarcadero’s Hyatt, one of the first of those John Portman–designed atrium hotels, and thought that I’d somehow crawled out of the miasma left over from the Summer of Love and into an amazing vision of the future. In 1999, I moved to San Francisco and lived there for three years, from the height of the dotcom boom to the bottom of the bust. Again, I found the city sometimes excruciatingly stodgy and at other times dizzyingly future-forward. There’s a spot where you can see this duality, the sleepy old city that refuses to change and the radical, cutting-edge city that is always ahead of everyone else. Happily for the values tourist, this spot is a tower with an observation deck, in Golden Gate Park. The De Young Museum, an aggressively 21st-century building by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, completed in 2005, is clad in recycled copper—perforated to shade the building while letting daylight in—which will turn green as the metal patinates. Its café serves food from growers and providers within a 240-kilometer radius. The art collection is expansive and absorbing. And from the observation deck of the distinctive wedge-shaped tower, a mere 44 meters tall, there’s a panoramic view of San Francisco. Gaze north and the view is of the Richmond district, an endless, timeless, monotonous swath of small-scale pinkish stucco houses. But swivel east and you look directly across the shady Music Concourse at the new Academy of Sciences. Designed by Renzo Piano and scheduled to open in September 2008, it’s got an undulating green roof—an artificial terrain dotted with seven hills, planted with beach strawberries, miniature lupine and California poppies. Also in Golden Gate Park, the new Academy of Sciences is expected to be the largest public LEED-certified building in the world. It will have highly efficient heating and cooling systems and natural ventilation; produce a relatively small amount » 114


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San Francisco’s skyline. Center: A view from the observation deck of the De Young Museum, in Golden Gate Park; Alice Waters, of the Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, in the garden near the MLK Middle School.

I’m eating organic, drinking organic, looking out at the bay, and thinking of solar power (5–10 percent of the building’s needs); and use recycled materials, including insulation made from blue jeans. Visitors will likely not notice most of the green features, but instead be swept away by the exhibitions, which are to include a multilevel rain forest, the world’s deepest coral-reef tank and some very imposing snakes. “I think an anaconda goes on this side,” says my tour guide, Kip Trexel, the project director for Webcor Builders. The Academy’s living roof, though, will be a crowd-pleaser—a deck will allow visitor access—and also a draw for wildlife, including the threatened San Bruno elfin butterfly. Another possible harbinger of things to come is the dramatic new San Francisco Federal Building, situated on a stubbornly bleak stretch of Mission Street. Designed by Thom Mayne of the Los Angeles firm Morphosis, this is probably the most visible symbol of the new San Francisco. The Federal Building is only 18 stories tall, but is located in an otherwise low-rise part of town, so you can see its asymmetrical silhouette, and the sunshade that looks like an insect’s exoskeleton, from all over town (it’s less omnipresent, however, than One Rincon Hill, a 60-story condo tower that everyone I meet gripes about). At night the Federal Building is illuminated by a James Turrell sculpture, a line of LED’s that starts on the plaza level and traces the contours of its “sky 116

garden.” Like many LEED-certified buildings, this one features natural ventilation and has windows that open automatically according to climate conditions. The hallways and most surfaces are cool gray concrete made with 50 percent recycled slag. A series of Ed Ruscha murals was commissioned for the elevator lobbies. The building gives the impression that the U.S. federal government is an immensely chic organization, or as my tour guide, Gene Gibson of the General Services Administration, observes, the building is “overly optimistic.” But “overly optimistic” is San Francisco in a nutshell, San Francisco at its best. A friend of mine, architect Mark Jensen, recently won a competition to design a roof garden for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His design, in theory, features lichen-covered walls that “will change color and texture with the passing seasons.” Very poetic. Very optimistic. I visit Jensen at his firm’s offices overlooking Market Street. As we look at the SFMoMA renderings, he confesses that no one has ever grown lichen in captivity and he’s not sure it can be done. And I think, as we discuss his lichen strategy, that we are having an archetypal San Francisco conversation. During my stay, I go on a series of field trips trying to hammer out an itinerary for the values tourist, seeking more examples of the local brand of optimism. One of the most


A L I C E WAT E R S P H O T O : N O R M A N J E A N R OY

impressive is Flora Grubb Gardens, a plant store newly relocated from a vacant lot in the Mission to Bayview, a lightindustrial area south of downtown. Proprietor Flora Grubb is well known for her selection of palm trees, and she also stocks a fascinating collection of plants called Echeveria, desert succulents that look like undersea creatures. She’s using them in a civic project, replanting the median strip of Guerrero Street. “I’m excited to design gardens that don’t need irrigation,” Grubb explains. The building is an airy, light-filled, industrial-style shed designed by architects Bonnie Bridges and Seth Boor, with 72 photovoltaic panels on the roof. Solar energy supplies the needs of the plant nursery and the in-house coffee bar, a branch of Ritual Coffee Roasters that’s a magnet for the neighborhood’s workforce. “Everyone says when the Big One hits, they’re coming here,” Grubb says. Not only is the building set on a slab that’s engineered to float if the ground beneath it liquefies in a quake, but also the solar-powered espresso machine will keep running no matter what. How 21st-century is that? Also at the south end of town, I visit SF Recycling & Disposal Inc. Not just because it recycles everything from beer cans to house paint (which its workers pick up in alternatively fueled trucks, remix and give away to developing

nations). And not just because the hilltop behind the big waste-sorting facility is home to a meandering sculpture garden full of rusted springs and discarded soda bottles transformed into aesthetic objects. No, I’m here because the place has an artist-in-residence. I’m given a tour by Paul Fresina, who until recently ran both the hazardous-waste facility and the artist-in-residence program. “We didn’t use to use the word dump, because it was derogatory,” he explains. “But now we embrace it.” He introduces me to Nemo Gould, the artist of the moment, a lanky, sweet-faced young man in gray coveralls who has been building robots and mad-scientist apparatuses from scavenged materials, including the transformer from a broken neon sign and a shower mat (the source of suction cups for an “octopus” Gould made from curly wooden chairbacks). “Things that are beyond hope, but still have nice parts,” Gould says, adding: “I love it here.” Once a month, the public is invited to tour the dump, and quarterly there’s an art exhibition, complete with an openingnight party. Fresina tells me that the dump supplies compost to local vineyards, and they, in turn, supply the wine for the art openings. The dump, I decide, is beyond optimistic. The dump is utopian. Of course, the most satisfying thing a values tourist—or anyone, for that matter—can do in San Francisco is eat. » 117


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The Flora Grubb Gardens store and café, in Bayview, south of downtown.

Zuni Café is a perennial favorite, and at Range, a recent arrival in the Mission District, I dine with friends at the bar. And then there are places that have a defined purpose, such as Farmer Brown, a soul food restaurant in the Tenderloin dedicated to supporting African-American organic farmers, or Yield, a small wine bar—in a rapidly evolving neighborhood called Dogpatch, on the back side of Potrero Hill— which was established to promote organic and biodynamic wines. Here, I get an impromptu lecture on biodynamics. (It has to do with cosmic rhythms.) Later, I have an unaccountably delicious meal at Café Gratitude, a small chain of restaurants specializing in raw vegan cuisine. What’s fascinating, though, is how this way of eating—virtue commingled with pleasure—has been incorporated into the Bay Area’s version of the mainstream. For example, I keep hearing about a Palo Alto–based management company called Bon Appetit. Its motto: food services for a sustainable future. The firm runs restaurants and employee cafeterias for tech firms like Intel, Oracle and Yahoo. All the Bon Appetit chefs, at 450 kitchens nationwide, are obliged to buy 30 percent of their produce from local farms. I get a tour of the Yahoo cafeteria from Robert Hart, the Bon Appetit executive chef at the Sunnyvale complex. Chef Bob, as he’s known, walks me through what must be the most highly evolved assemblage of steam tables and salad bars on the planet. Sure, there are some suspicious-looking health-food products like Gardein, a form of soy protein made to look like shredded chicken or pork. But the dominant theme at Yahoo is spectacular produce, much of it picked when Chef Bob calls in his daily order. There are portobello-and-red-pepper pizzas topped with microgreens. And there are state-of-the-art hamburgers. “My hamburgers are grass-fed beef from the Painted Hills ranches in Oregon,” he says. “My chicken breasts are antibiotic-free. I buy all my herbs organic.” The take-out containers, made from corn, are biodegradable, and the disposable cutlery is “spudware,” made from potato starch. The oil in the deep-fat fryers is extracted from rice bran, and, Chef Bob notes, “A gentleman picks it up and turns it into biodiesel.” Before I leave, he hands me a juicy heirloom apricot, a Blenheim, which is on a list of “endangered foods.” It comes from a farm that is “trying to bring back lost items … and one of them is this apricot.” As I wander out of the Yahoo complex, my hands sticky with apricot juice, I can see that Silicon Valley is changing the world in ways I hadn’t quite realized. Of course, this is the capital of the technological revolution, but the bright young things who work in the tech sector are also transforming the way the rest of us eat. They are helping to establish a whole new food-distribution economy based on ideas that can be traced directly to the front door of Chez Panisse. Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in 1971, after trying to figure out how to recreate the dining experiences she had had in France: “I was looking for flavor,” Waters explains, sitting in her office in a little building next to the restaurant. “I wasn’t setting out to find organic produce. I wanted flavor. So I was looking for things in season. Something about the way they were selling food in Chinatown reminded me of France, so I was drawn to that. Seeing fish swimming around in the tanks made me believe that this could be more tasty.” What started with one woman’s passion for flavor has spread. Exponentially. All around Chez Panisse is the Berkeley neighborhood known as the Gourmet Ghetto. A couple of doors down is something called the Epicurious Garden, a kind of rarefied food court. Across the street is the Cheeseboard Pizza Collective, where each day employees make one kind of pizza and sell it until it runs out. The grassy but narrow median strip in the middle of Shattuck Avenue is dotted with pizza eaters. Waters has come to see food as an engine of social and political change. A » 119


Salad Days From left: A salad with guacamole and salsa at Café Gratitude, in Berkeley; the roof of the Renzo Piano–designed California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park. Opposite, from left: a custom water carafe at Chez Panisse; the farmer’s market in Berkeley.

few blocks from the restaurant is the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, where, since 1996, Waters has been funding the Edible Schoolyard, teaching children to grow and prepare their own produce. Waters is also a director of Slow Food, a movement that makes connections between food quality, the environment and social justice. But ultimately it all comes back to the skillful interweaving of high quality and doing the right thing. Waters and I are sitting at a little marble table. On it is a delicate glass carafe etched with a wreath design and the words CHEZ PANISSE and STILL. It’s one of the bottles that the restaurant ordered from Bell’occhio (a local shop) when Waters decided to stop serving bottled water and instead serve filtered tap water, still or sparkling. “It was something I’d always thought about, that I’d wanted to do. Why are we bringing all this water over from Italy?” She didn’t act on that thought until a friend who was publicizing a book about the politics of water suggested that Waters take the leap. “And I said, ‘We’ll do it. We’ll do it now.’ ” Later, when I’m dining at Chez Panisse with a friend—deeply immersed in a meal that starts with North African–style vegetable salads and moves at a measured pace through Alaskan halibut, quail couscous and a fig tart—I find myself thinking about the water bottle. It’s right there on our table. It’s simply a gorgeous object. It’s certainly prettier than a Pellegrino or Perrier bottle. I realize that Waters has performed alchemy. She’s managed to turn her bottled-water ban from a prohibition to a celebration. In the future, San Francisco will likely have a plethora of green landmarks. A new Transbay Tower downtown, the height of the Empire State Building, might be topped by a wind turbine. Scheduled completion date: 2014. Treasure Island, in the middle of the Bay, will be developed with a couple of iconic towers, solar and wind-generated power, and an 8-hectare organic farm. “The most sustainable, greenest development of its kind in the United States,” Mayor Newsom predicts. Scheduled completion date: 2022. Until then, the best symbol of green San Francisco—of the enlightened 21st-century city where virtue and pleasure are one and the same—can be found right here on my dinner table in Berkeley.  120


GUIDE TO SAN FRANCISCO Hog Island Oyster Bar 1 Ferry Building, corner of Market St. and the Embarcadero; 1-415/391-7117; lunch for two US$56. Medicine No. 61, 161 Sutter St.; 1-415/677-4405; lunch for two US$31. Millennium Restaurant 580 Geary St.; 1-415/345 -3900; dinner for two US$80.

WHERE TO STAY GREAT Hotel Triton 342 Grant VALUE Ave.; 1-800/800-1299 or 1-415/394-0500; www.hoteltriton. com; doubles from US$199. Orchard Garden Hotel 466 Bush St.; 1-888/7172881 or 1-415/399-9807; www. theorchardgardenhotel.com; doubles from US$159. GREAT VALUE

WHERE TO EAT Café Gratitude 1730 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; lunch for two US$52.

Chez Panisse Restaurant & Café 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 1-510/548-5525; dinner for two US$130. Citizen Cake 399 Grove St.; 1-415/861-2228; lunch for two US$50.

Range 842 Valencia St.; 1-415/ 282-8283; dinner for two US$81. Yield Wine Bar 2490 Third St.; 1-415/401-8984; drinks for two US$20.

Farmer Brown 25 Mason St.; 1-415/409-3276; dinner for two US$66.

WHAT TO DO Berkeley Farmers’ Market 2530 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; 1-510/548-3333; www. ecologycenter.org.

Greens Building A, Fort Mason Center; 1-415/771-6222; lunch for two US$51.

Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market 1 Ferry Building; 1-415/ 291-3276; www. ferryplazafarmersmarket.com.

Flora Grubb Gardens 1634 Jerrold Ave.; 1-415/6482670; www.floragrubb.com. WHAT TO SEE California Academy of Sciences Golden Gate Park; 1-415/3798000; www.calacademy.org. De Young Museum 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., Golden Gate Park; 1415/750-3630; www. deyoungmuseum.org. SF Recycling & Disposal 501 Tunnel Ave.; 1-415/ 330-1415; www. sunsetscavenger.com. The Orchard Garden Hotel.

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Relaxing at Casa Rural El Olivar, in Iznรกjar, Spain. On her: Dress by Nicole Miller. On him: Top by Perry Ellis; jeans, Z Zegna. Styled by Nic Screws.


16 DREAM TRIPS Whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s driving through ANDALUSIA or sailing the waters of the BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, T+L offers inspiring itineraries and ideas guaranteed to help you get away from it all. Edited by CLARK MITCHELL and CLARA SEDLAK 119 123


A DRIVE THROUGH ANDALUSIA

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O U T H E R N S PA I N H A S M A N Y brilliant colors: a flash of red on a whirling flamenco dancer; the pinks of tropical flowers on the walls of an Arabic-style courtyard. There’s no more romantic way to see Andalusia than from behind the wheel of a car. DRIVING ITINERARY Start in the cobblestoned streets of Córdoba, site of the renowned eighth-century Mezquita mosque. Then drive southwest to Seville and see the labyrinthine 14th-century Alcázar palace, near some of the city’s liveliest flamenco bars. East of here are two Andalusian white villages: Antequera lies behind the granite peak La Peña de los Enamorados, or “Lovers’ Rock,” named for a centuries-old tale of a star-crossed Christian Romeo and Muslim Juliet. And Iznájar has a 1,200-year-old ruined castle that’s perfect for exploring. End the trip to the east, in Granada. WHERE TO STAY Outside Iznájar, two Belgian expats recently opened Casa Rural El Olivar (6 Cierzos y Cabreras; 34/95-753-4928; www.casaruralelolivar.com; doubles from 91 euros). The five-room bed-and-breakfast is surrounded by hectares of olive groves. Hospes Las Casas del Rey de Baeza (2 Plaza Jesús de la Redención; 34/95-456-1496; www.hospes.es; doubles from 150 euros), in Seville, is a 41-room, 18th-century manor furnished with colonialstyle beds. WHERE TO EAT Traditional dishes like serrano suckling pig and sautéed garbanzo beans are specialties at Taberna Salinas (3 Tundidores; 34/95-748-0135; dinner for two US$46), in Córdoba. La Finca (Carr. Salinas; 34/95832-1861; dinner for two US$180), at the Barceló Hotel La Bobadilla, is the place to go in the Salinas area for paella. Granadan newcomer Azafrán (1 Paseo de los Tristes; 34/95-822-6882; dinner for two US$55) uses Moroccan spices in its grilled bacalao. Book a table near the windows for a view of the Alhambra walls. INSIDER TIPS On Thursday evenings, Fundación el Monte (4 Laraña, Tercera Planta; 34/95-450-8200; tickets for two US$30), in Seville, presents the rising stars of flamenco singing of love lost and found. In Granada, stop for tea at the Moroccan teahouse Alfaguara (7 Calderería Nueva; 34/95-822-9170), in the ancient Moorish neighborhood of Albaicín.

—SARAH 200 124

WILDMAN

This spread and previous photographed by CHRISTOPHER STURMAN


5 MORE RELAXING OPTIONS Privacy is assured at these off-the-grid hotels and resorts. NAMIBIA Serra Cafema Camp Eight deluxe canvasand-thatch chalets on the banks of the remote Kunene River. 27-21/424-1037; lodges. safari.co.za; doubles from US$1,300, all inclusive. CANADA Clayoquot Wilderness Resort & Spa Reach this British Columbia property — 20 plush, secluded tents — by boat or floatplane from Vancouver. 1-888/333-5405; www.wildretreat.com; doubles from US$1,850, all inclusive. FRANCE Hotel de Charme Les Airelles A hidden winter chalet with cavernous rooms, plus ski runs practically at your doorstep. 33-4/79-00-38-38; www.airelles.fr; doubles from US$1,380.

Andalusian Gems Clockwise from above center: A canal by the old city walls of Córdoba; the lobby at the Barceló Hotel La Bobadilla, home to La Finca restaurant; a street in Seville near the Alcázar; Seville oranges; the pool at Casa Rural El Olivar, overlooking the olive groves; taking in the white village of Iznájar; a tea salon in Córdoba.

BALI Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali On a stretch of blacksand beach, Tembok has 31 rooms designed by spa expert Sylvia Sepielli. 60-3/27831000; www.spavillage. com; doubles from US$400, all inclusive. CONNECTICUT Boulders Inn Twenty rooms and suites overlooking Lake Waramaug in New Preston. 1-860/8680541; www.bouldersinn. com; doubles from US$350. — B R E E S P O S AT O

MODELS: LUCY HANSEN/STORM, CHRIS WALTERS/SELECT MODEL MANAGEMENT; HAIR AND MAKEUP: ANNABEL BARTON/VICTORIA’S. ON HER: DRESS BY MOSCHINO; JEANS, 7 FOR ALL MANKIND; BAG AND SHOES, COLE HAAN. ON HIM: SWEATER BY VINCE; SHIRT, THEORY; JEANS, Z ZEGNA; SHOES, CALVIN KLEIN COLLECTION


A SOUTH AFRICAN SAFARI


IMAGE OF ZEBRAS: NICO SMIT / DREAMSTIME.COM; IMAGE OF GIRAFFE: JEAN-MARC STRYDOM / DREAMSTIME.COM; CCA F R I CA .CO M ( 4 ) . O P P OS I T E : CO U RT ESY O F CCA F R I CA .CO M

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OR A N OTHERWORDLY EXPERIENCE , there’s nothing like a game drive in the African wild. The 750-square-kilometer Madikwe Private Game Reserve, in the northwestern corner of South Africa, is part Kalahari Desert, part bush country. It’s also ideal for spotting giraffes and elephants, as well as rare wild dogs and furry tree-dwelling primates known as bush babies—all without seeing another person. WHERE TO STAY Rustic-chic Madikwe Safari Lodge (27-11/809-4300; www.ccafrica.com; suites from US$868, double, all inclusive) is a three-camp lodge wedged between the slopes of two rolling hills. The 20 suites are done up in thatch and stone, offset by such modern design touches as private plunge pools; the bedrooms are fi lled with antique Bauer travel chests and baskets from the local Tswana tribes. For the most privacy, book a room in the smaller, four-suite West Camp and watch animals on the plains while soaking in a bronze-plated tub.

Out of Africa Clockwise from left: Zebras roaming in the Madikwe Game Reserve; a suite at the Madikwe Safari Lodge; outdoor dining at the lodge; a giraffe in the wild; a plunge pool at the lodge; dining indoors at Madikwe. Opposite: The game reserve from the Madikwe Safari Lodge’s dining room.

WHERE TO EAT You can choose to join the group for dinner around the open-air fi re pit, or arrange a lanternlit meal on the deck of your suite. The Pan-African menu includes Afrikaner dishes like potjie—a traditional slowcooked stew of game meat braised in a cast-iron soup pot. Don’t miss the malva pudding—sticky-toffee cake covered in butterscotch sauce. WHAT TO DO Schedule a morning game drive in an open-top Jeep. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across the Big Five, plus hard-to-spot cheetahs. On evening drives, guests are served glasses of iced mampoer, a fruit-based Afrikaner eau-de-vie, while viewing the sun setting behind the Marico River. INSIDER TIP Chef Lavuis Tlhagwane offers private cooking lessons upon request, where you can learn to make African tamales with local corn and a sweet potato fi lling.

—DOUGL AS

ROGE R S

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A HIDDEN BEACH IN THAILAND

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ANY BEACHES IN

southern Thailand are overrun with international travelers, but the quiet stretch of powdery sand known as Railay—accessible by boat from Krabi— is an exception. Its towering limestone cliffs and tropical foliage, and the crystal-blue waters of the Andaman Sea, make this low-key hideaway a romantic alternative to places like Phuket. WHERE TO STAY Bordered by beaches on three sides, the Rayavadee (66-75/620-7403; www.rayavadee.com; doubles from Bt22,300) is made up of 98 airy two-level bungalows—some set in the jungle and others overlooking stunning Phranang Beach. Sand Sea Resort (66-75/622-609; www.krabisandsea.com; doubles from Bt1,350) has 68 simple, breezy bungalows. WHERE TO EAT Yum talay (spicy seafood salad) and chu chi goong (prawns in red curry) are the dishes to order at Krua Phranang, the seaside restaurant at the Rayavadee. At sunset, sip a coconut cocktail at the Grotto restaurant, tucked into a limestone cliff. And don’t skip the fresh food grilled by locals right on the beach: corn on the cob and chicken skewers. WHAT TO DO The jungle trail at the southeast end of the peninsula leads to the palm-fringed Princess Lagoon, where you can take a dip at high tide. The more adventurous can paddle around in a kayak; you’ll discover tiny caves, deserted beaches and the nearby Phra Nang shrine. Get a Thai reflexology massage, either the luxurious deep-tissue Thai Boran rubdown at the Rayavadee, or the US$5 on-the-beach version. INSIDER TIP If you really want this remote peninsula all to yourself, visit Krabi between May and October. Though this is Thailand’s wet season, the daily short, dramatic showers last only about 20 minutes.— W H I T N E Y L A W S O N 128 200


3 MORE INTIMATE GETAWAYS Have the place all to yourself at these oneroom, private retreats. Be sure to book well in advance. FRANCE Hotel Everland This 33-square-meter cube is a temporary art installation by day and a one-room hotel after 6 P.M. Through November, the pintsize property sits atop Paris’s Palais de Tokyo contemporary art center. 13 Ave. du Président Wilson; 331/47-23-38-86; www. everland.ch; doubles from 333 euros. SWEDEN Utter Inn Floating 1 kilometer from the shore in Lake Malaren is this 33-square-meter houseboat. The cheery red-andwhite cottage has a terrace, kitchenette and inflatable boat for venturing to town. 46-21/390-100; www. vasterasmalarstaden.se; doubles from US$156.

Thai Treasures Clockwise from above center: Sunset on Phranang Beach, in Krabi province; cooks at the Krua Phranang restaurant; prawns in red curry at Krua Phranang; the Grotto restaurant; a lagoon at the Rayavadee; one of the villas at the hotel.

CAMBODIA One Hotel Angkor Situated on a side street in Siem Reap, the suite has a 30square-meter bedroom with a customdesigned teak bed. The rooftop terrace has a private outdoor shower. 855-12/755 -311; theonehotel angkor.com; doubles from US$250. —SUZANNE MOZES

Photographed by JASON LANG


A SAIL IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS


C LO C KW I S E F RO M A BOV E C E N T E R : TO M D OW D / D R E A M ST I M E .CO M ( 3 ) ; CO U RT ESY O F P E T E R I S L A N D R ES O RT ( 2 ) . O P P OS I T E : TO M D OW D / D R E A M ST I ME .CO M

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Island Scenes Clockwise from far left: Peter Island Resort; boulders by the seaside, in the British Virgin Islands; Virgin Gorda Island; a palm-lined beach; the spa at Peter Island Resort. Opposite: Virgin Gorda Island.

LONG THIS A RCHIPEL AGO OF

60 islands—most of them deserted—you can rent a yacht and drift away from civilization. Sleep under the stars; anchor off an empty islet and hunt for conch shells; stop at the far-flung island of Anegada, famed for its sweet lobster; or swim up to the Soggy Dollar Bar (284/495-9888), on Jost Van Dyke island. WHERE TO STAY The Moorings (1-888/952-8420; www. moorings.com) and Sunsail (1-888/350-3568; www.sunsail. com) are the top yacht-rental companies. Expert sailors can skipper themselves with a bareboat charter ( from US$410 a day), while novices can hire a crew for an extra US$160. Or combine land and sea at Biras Creek (1-800/223-1108; www.biras.com; seven-day packages for two from US$6,475, including meals), an off-the-grid resort on Virgin Gorda. Its weeklong Sailaway trip includes five nights in a beachfront villa and two nights on a private yacht.

WHERE TO EAT

Dock your boat at the waterfront

Eclipse Restaurant (Fat Hog’s Bay, Tortola; 284/495-1646;

eclipse-restaurant.com; dinner for two US$60), a candlelit openair spot. Foxy Callwood entertains at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar (Jost Van Dyke; 284/495-9258; dinner for two US$90). WHAT TO DO A popular pit stop is Trellis Bay, on Beef Island, thanks to its provisions store. Visit the shop at Aragorn’s Studio (Beef Island; 284/495-1849; www. aragornsstudio.com), which carries local pottery and handmade herbal soaps. And don’t miss the legendary full-moon parties at Bomba’s Shack (Cappoons Bay; 284/495-4148), on Tortola. INSIDER TIP You don’t have to be a guest to use the spa at Peter Island Resort (1-800/346-4451; www.peterisland. com), which welcomes day-trippers for the ultimate indulgence: 5½ hours of massages and body buffi ng in a private couples suite.— L A U R A B E G L E Y . 131


FOUR MORE GETAWAYS A PRIVATE ISLAND IN MAINE D OW N E AST M A INE is dotted with private islands— Oar, Clapboard, Chanterelle—where couples can play Yankee castaways. One of our favorites is the 1.6hectare Spectacle Island, a short boat ride from Bar Harbor. The best time to go is June to September. WHERE TO STAY Book Spectacle Island Estate (1647/477-5581; www.privateislandsonline.com; from US$7,500 per week), a three-bedroom cottage on this spruce-covered spot in Frenchman Bay, well ahead of time. The master suite has spectacular sea views, a fourposter bed and a whirlpool. WHERE TO EAT Catch the boat back to Bar Harbor and have a seafood cioppino with fresh-caught fish or jumbo baked lobsters at La Bella Vita, in the Harborside Hotel (55 West St.; 1-800/328-5033; dinner for two US$90). For an extra fee, the rental agency will stock your fridge prior to your arrival. WHAT TO DO Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island offers rugged hiking trails. The island rental also includes a seaworthy 8-meter powerboat manned by a licensed captain.— S H A N E M I T C H E L L

A FORTRESS IN INDIA T HE CR AGGY A R AVA LLI R A NGE cuts diagonally across Rajasthan, and on a plateau in its foothills lies the tiny village of Deogarh. Seclusion is clearly the draw here, where you can live like modern-day royalty in an 18thcentury fortress. WHERE TO STAY Book the palm-fringed Fort Seengh Sagar (Manda Wara; 91-29/0425-2777; www. deogarhmahal.com; from US$1,205 a night), a four-bedroom island villa set within a moat and accessible by bridge. A sweeping terrace and turreted balconies punctuate the exterior, while the interiors include Indian rosewood beds, red-and-gold quilts and copper washbasins. WHERE TO EAT Executive chef Navneet Suhalkar prepares regional dishes such as palak halwa—a purée of spinach cooked in cream—and syrupy pineapple malpua (fried pancakes) at the fort’s Surya Mahal restaurant. WHAT TO DO A vintage 1930’s train descends 550 meters over its 21-kilometer journey from the neighboring town of Mavli to Marwar Junction. In Marwar is Manak Chowk, a square with stores peddling Rajasthani wares such as water color miniatures and embroidered pashmina shawls.— T A N V I C H H E D A 132


A DESERT IN CHILE T HOUGH STA R K FROM A DISTA NCE , the world’s driest desert, the Atacama, is an expansive, exotic landscape studded with oases, majestic dunes and thermal pools. This is an ideal destination for those who enjoy hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. WHERE TO STAY The Tierra Atacama (1-800/8295325 or 56-2/263-0606; www.tierraatacama.com; from US$300, including breakfast), steps from the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Inside, the 34 rooms are swathed in natural beiges and browns. There is also a 450-squaremeter spa. WHERE TO EAT Café Adobe (211 Caracoles; 56-55/851164; dinner for two US$23) is a local favorite with a crackling bonfi re centerpiece. Try the lomo a lo pobre, a traditional Chilean dish of grilled beef served with crispy french fries, sautéed onions and fried eggs. WHAT TO DO The 2.9-kilometer-long Death Valley hiking and biking trail starts in the village, runs through stunning natural salt sculptures and ends with a descent down a sand dune. Tierra Atacama will arrange for a sunrise excursion to El Tatio geyser.— C O N N I E M C C A B E

A SICILIAN AGRITURISMO

C LO C KW I S E F RO M L E F T: CO U RT ESY O F H A R BO R S I D E H O T E L ; C O U R T E SY O F T I E R R A ATA C A M A ( 3 ) ; S AT I E / D R E A M ST I M E .CO M ; CO U RT ESY O F FO RT S E E N G H SAGA R

Sweet Dreams Clockwise from left: The pool at the Tierra Atacama; the Tierra Atacama’s Oriente suite; the Map room at the Tierra Atacama; the Valley of the Temples, in Sicily; Fort Seenagh Sagar, in Rajasthan; the Harborside Hotel, in Maine.

I N THE HILLS OF S ICILY, 4 kilometers from the sea, is the secluded 19th-century farmhouse, Mandranova. It’s a working farm, close to the towns of Agrigento, Licata and Caltagirone, where guests can explore centuries-old architecture, open-air vegetable and clothing markets, and traditional ceramic shops. WHERE TO STAY Mandranova (Contrada Mandranova, Km 217, Strada Statale 115; 39-091/612-0463; www. mandranova.it; doubles from US$225) is set on 170 hilly hectares, with stunning views of olive groves from each of the 11 rooms. If the Mandranova is booked, look for more Sicilian agriturismos at www.agriturismo.net. WHERE TO EAT For a romantic night on the town, arrange for a taxi to La Madia Restaurant (22 Corso Filippo di Re Capriata; 39-092/277-1443; dinner for two US$80) in the port town of Licata, 10 minutes away. The perfect meal: chef Pino Cuttaia’s merluzzo, pinesmoked cod with a hint of orange peel. WHAT TO DO For a dose of history, go north to Agrigento, home to the fi fth-century B.C. Valley of the Temples, a collection of seven Doric-style Greek temples.— F A I T H W I L L I N G E R 133


Sydney, Asia Where should you go to experience the flavors of the Far East? Down Under. Peter Jon Lindberg puts his palate to work at raucous dim sum palaces, hushed sushi temples, a Thai restaurant that rivals any in Bangkok and other eateries. Photographed by Hugh Stewart 134


Sydney Spices From top right: Chef Kylie Kwong; ayam sereh (lemongrass chicken with chili spice) at Jimbaran, in Randwick; a menu displayed outside the Chinese Noodle Restaurant. Right: Pla tod ka min (deepfried whiting) at Spice I Am, in Surry Hills.


Culinary Bridge From far left: Sydney’s Anzac Bridge; chefs at Spice I Am; duck with star anise and cinnamon at Billy Kwong, in Surry Hills.

Only jerks don’t like Sydney. Still, it’s easy to feel a tinge of resentment toward the place— so astonishingly blessed is it by climate and geography (that harbor! those beaches!). It is the homecoming queen of travel destinations, topping Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Cities poll for eight of the past 12 years. So when I say that Sydney also happens to have, dish for dish, the finest Asian food on the planet, I realize I’m adding to a long litany of hyperbole. But it’s true. No Asian city—not Hong Kong, not Bangkok, not even Singapore—offers such assured cooking across the board, or such a wide range of cuisines: Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Korean, Japanese, Cantonese, Sichuan, Taiwanese, Lao, Filipino, Cambodian, Burmese. Why? Immigrants from East and Southeast Asia have formed a major demographic in Australia for more than a century. Because of this extensive shared history, even nonAsians here have an easy familiarity with Asian cooking: Australians under 35 probably grew up not just on Vegemite sandwiches but also on curries and pad kee mao. “My kids’ school cafeteria actually serves sushi and Vietnamese ricepaper wraps. And even in suburban kitchens, the wok is as indispensable as the barbie,” says Joanna Savill, a Sydneybased food writer and host of the TV series The Food Lovers’ Guide to Australia. She compares the role of Asian cuisine here 136

to that of Indian food in the U.K. or Mexican in the western United States; Tex-Mex and Anglo-Indian cooking, however, are blandified approximations, while Australia’s Asian food is usually the real deal. Furthermore, the ingredients are superb. Sydney’s cooks have access to fabulously fresh, often organic, produce. Australian beef, lamb and Bangalow pork are deservedly renowned, which is why the best kitchens in Asia import their meat from here. So too is the fish and seafood selection, the bulk of it sold through the Sydney Fish Market—the world’s second-largest, after Tokyo’s. For travelers leery of experimenting at Bangkok street stalls or Singapore hawker centers (too bad, since in Asia the downand-dirty joints serve the tastiest food), Sydney’s eateries present a welcoming environment without the customary trade-off in authenticity. English-speaking waitstaff are an added bonus. A good portion of my adult life has been spent eating my way around the East, yet I’ve never found ayam goreng (Balinese fried chicken) or cha gio (Vietnamese spring rolls) to compare with those I discovered in Sydney. Actually, that’s not true. My Aussie friend Michael, a former Sydneysider now living in New York, prepares both dishes just as well. He also makes a fabulous Malaysian laksa and »


Braised noodles with pork at the Chinese Noodle Restaurant, on Quay Street.


knock-out soup dumplings. Unlike every other resident of Manhattan, Michael has never once ordered Chinese or Thai takeout—he knows he can do a far better job himself. Besides, Sydney spoiled him for Asian food. Michael, then, becomes a natural companion for my Sydney culinary adventure, during which he serves as my guide and occasional translator. (Did I mention he speaks a bit of Cantonese, Japanese and Thai?) We arrive in the final, glowing burst of Australian spring, just as the jacarandas are dropping their petals to form bright pools of lavender on the streets. For the next 14 days, we will eat Asian food for every meal—high-end, casual and everything in between.

Thai Me Upscale, Thai Me Downscale Our first stop is a Thai canteen in Surry Hills with a name out of Dr. Seuss: Spice I Am. This tiny 20-seater has no proper chairs (only drum-shaped stools), no liquor license, not even a front wall: the dining room opens on to the sidewalk, which is daintily rimmed with potted heliconia. The Thai staff—most of them related—are warm and friendly. But they could staff the place with ogres and trolls and Spice I Am would still be the best Thai restaurant in town. Som tam, which lesser kitchens pass off as a dull and starchy garnish, is here returned to its proper, brilliant self. The strips of unripe papaya and long beans are snappy and bright, the lime juice and zest ring loud and clear, and the chilies are alarmingly fiery. Pla tod ka min is a deep-fried whiting, powerful with fish flavor and nuanced with turmeric, coriander, salt, pepper and garlic. Spice I Am even serves the southern Thai specialty hoy tod, a savory crêpe filled with luscious briny mussels that I’ve never before found outside of Thailand. Michael and his friends stumbled upon Spice I Am by chance, back when few farang had heard of the place. After years under the radar, the secret’s out. David Thompson is a white Australian who happens to be one of the world’s foremost experts on Thai cuisine; his encyclopedic, 697-page cookbook Thai Food is widely considered tops in the field. Thompson is now based in London, where his seven-year-old Nahm was the first Thai restaurant ever to be awarded a Michelin star. But he rose to fame in Sydney at Sailors Thai, still going strong in the touristy The Rocks district. The austere modern space is softened by lovely yellow, pink and green silk wall coverings and vases of fragrant lilies. Our dinner includes several standouts from Thompson’s cookbook, which Michael has all but memorized. Back in New York he once made me the same braised beef ribs, with great success—yet these are a whole other thing. The grass-fed beef is richer than any I’ve tasted back home, and complemented by sharp, piquant notes of lime juice, coriander and a sprinkling of shredded kaffir-lime leaf. A northern Thai pork sausage dissolves on the tongue like foie gras, before giving way to the thrilling burn of ginger and chilies. Like Spice I Am, this is no-holds-barred Thai cooking, a 138

medley of intense yet discrete flavors—from bitter to tangy, never too sweet—that play broader and deeper than what most are accustomed to. Each plate is a lush and colorful still life that makes you wonder: can I ever go back to pad thai?

Progressive Lunch in Chinatown: Duck, Duck, Goose In a country where culinary borders exist only to be crossed, it’s perhaps not surprising that a Singapore-born, Sydney-bred Chinese woman could become a master of classical French cooking. Chui Lee Luk moved to Australia at the age of seven. As a teenager she won a copy of Waverley Root’s The Food of France in a drawing contest and read it front to back. Three decades later, Chui runs the kitchen at Claude’s, one of Sydney’s most acclaimed restaurants. But by day she finds her joy in the crowded alleyways and steam-filled dumpling joints of Chinatown. “My parents took me here every weekend back in the 1970’s, when Chinatown was just a single block,” she recalls as we stroll past shops selling deer-antler extract and bull’s testicles. “At that time, Cantonese was the only option. Now it has just exploded, and there’s all sorts of regional cooking as well.” Case in point: Chinese Noodle Restaurant, which specializes in the hearty, wintry dishes of the north. Owner Qin Xiaotang was a concert violinist back home in Beijing; arriving in Sydney in 1991, he found no orchestra work, so he opened this restaurant. Through the kitchen window you can watch Qin making his famous wheat noodles, unfurling and then beating out great long strands of dough. The noodles and braised dumplings— earthy, rich, filled with pork or spicy lamb—are the stars here, but there are also delectable fried calamari, a great jellyfish salad (remarkably crunchy, tossed with cabbage and julienned cucumbers), and a shredded-chicken salad that puts Wolfgang Puck’s version to shame. Right next door is Cho Dumpling King, where we fill up on what could be called Taiwanese tapas: small, cold, chili- and scallion-laced salads, built around seaweed or fried tofu or tiny dried fish. Michael, whose attraction to odd animal parts makes Anthony Bourdain’s seem finicky by comparison, convinces me to try a serving of his beloved pig’s ears—pale translucent strips that I mistook for sliced onions. They become my new obsession: we’ll return three times this week for more. For the finale we head up the street to Tai Wong, a decade-old barbecue shop with a windowful of lacquered ducks, geese, and what Michael calls dancing quails, lined up like Rockettes on skewers. I’m entranced by the burgundy-hued, crackly skin on the char siu—the Hong Kong–style pork that is to a Chinese barbecue joint what roast chicken is to a French bistro; if they can’t do that well, they probably can’t do much else. Tai Wong’s char siu is extraordinary, with a brittle exterior—drizzled in duck fat, if you really want to know—giving way to juicy and tender meat. »


Tai Wong’s char siu is extraordinary, with a brittle exterior— drizzled in duck fat, if you really want to know

Chef's Surprise Clockwise from above: The kitchen staff at Yoshii, in The Rocks; Yoshii’s egg custard with sea urchin; sliced ginger, star anise and cinnamon — essential for pho — at Thanh Binh, in Cabramatta.

139


Asia Down Under From left: Spice I Am’s crispy pork belly with basil; local kids in Cabramatta; Ichi-ban Boshi, in the Japan-centric Galeries Victoria shopping mall. Opposite: Serving miso ramen at Ichi-ban Boshi.

The Other Kylie

You Say Dim Sum, They Say Yum Cha

You might know Kylie Kwong from her TV series on the Discovery network. Billy Kwong, her chic storefront space in Surry Hills, is one of Sydney’s most popular restaurants—on a Monday night we wait two hours for a table. (“Billy” is former co-owner Bill Granger, another Sydney superchef.) Dressed up in glossy black lacquerwork, with Chinese screens and antique armoires, Billy Kwong could not be further from Chinatown’s rough-and-tumble milieu, and it draws a stylish crowd, equal parts Asian and Caucasian. Chef Kwong speciali ze s i n Ch i ne s e c om for t fo o d , g oi ng a l l out for maximum richness while favoring organic and sensitively raised ingredients. This is perhaps the only Chinese restaurant on earth that makes a point of serving biodynamic eggs, which are twicefried in wok oil to create flaky tendrils of white and velvety-soft yolks. Scattered with chilies and scallions, seasoned with powerful XO sauce, they’re incredibly satisfying. So too is Kwong’s smoky, crisp-skinned duck, flavored with cinnamon sticks and mandarin orange slices; and her take on the classic Cantonese sung choi bao: tender morsels of Bangalow pork fried with strong ginger and earthy wild mushrooms, folded into crunchy leaves of lettuce. “Wish I had a hangover,” Michael says, sipping a spicy Tasmanian Pinot Noir. “This meal would be the perfect cure.”

In Australia, Sunday morning outings for dim sum—here called by its other name, yum cha—are as routine as eggs Benedict brunches in America. It’s usually eaten at aircraft hangar–size palaces such as Marigold Citymark, in Chinatown, which accommodates about 800 diners on multiple floors (inside tip: the fifth floor has better service and a broader selection). Waiters in tuxedos pour jasmine tea with great flourish while dour-faced ladies circulate with steam trolleys, trailing wisps of fragrant vapor. Many in the crowd are Australianborn Chinese (ABC’s) celebrating weddings or anniversaries. “CONGRATULATIONS GLADYS & PHILIP CHEN!” says a banner over the next table. We’ve come with Michael’s parents, spirited octogenarians with voracious appetites; they polish off the fung giau (chicken feet) with a few deft strokes of their chopsticks. My attention is fixed on the caramelized grilled squid brushed with chili sauce, and on the lo mai gai, moist parcels of sticky rice, eggs, chicken and pork wrapped in lotus leaves. This is nothing like what I’m used to back in the United States. “Dim sum in Sydney is generally more savory than sweet, and instead of a cluster bomb of tastes, each ingredient comes through,” Michael explains. He’s right: I can parse out the garlic chives, bamboo shoots and even pork fat in the delectable seafood dumplings. » 141


Window on Food From top left: Roast duck, quail and pork sausages in the window of Tai Wong Barbecue, in Surry Hills; a sushi assortment at Yoshii; king prawn laksa soup at The Malaya.

Marigold is hard to top for quality of food, but the spin of lazy Susans and the crush by the door can be overwhelming. So the following Sunday we get our yum cha fix at Manly Phoenix, in the coastal suburb of Manly. The restaurant sits right beside the ferry pier, and the light-flooded room is a welcome departure from the windowless fortresses of Chinatown. Sunlight? In a dim sum place? But yes: it reflects off the water outside, the glossy blond-wood paneling, and the shiny glaze of the pork buns. Here, we’re smitten by juicy fried pork ribs, translucent shu mai dumplings and cheong fan (steamed rice noodle rolls filled with prawns and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds). But the real shock at Manly Phoenix is the excellent cappuccino. Try finding that in your local dim sum joint.

Good Eating, Vietnam

We delve into saffron-orange ocean trout, glistening toro, buttery smoked eel, raw mantis prawns from Perth

Sydney’s suburbs are often dominated by one or two ethnic groups: Chinese in Chatswood, Koreans in Campsie, Indonesians in Randwick. The vibrant southwestern suburb of Cabramatta is an uncanny simulacrum of Saigon. The sidewalks are lined with potted mandarin trees, silk shops and herbal apothecaries. Children wear the blue and white school uniforms common in Indochina. One local butcher even offers homesick customers gia cay—imitation dog meat. (It’s actually pork seasoned to taste like dog, a delicacy in Vietnam’s rural north.) It’s maddeningly hard to find respectable Vietnamese food in New York. So I’m sold on Thanh Binh from the moment I step in and see wicker baskets over flowing with greens and aromatic herbs. Unlike most other Asian cuisines, Vietnamese cooking focuses on fresh, clear, vibrant flavors and textures, with minimal use of oil and fat. The herbs are key in Thanh Binh’s goi cuon (summer rolls), which we assemble ourselves, moistening a sheaf of rice paper, topping it with shrimp, bean sprouts, and a tangle of rice vermicelli, then layering on sprigs of spearmint, purple shiso, holy basil, cilantro and lemon balm. It’s then rolled up, burrito-style, and dunked in a pungent blend of hoisin and nuoc mam (fish sauce). Thanh Binh’s menu lists no fewer than 251 dishes, so Michael and I embark on an all-afternoon feast, highlighted by an extraordinary pho (beef noodle soup) whose stock—infused with marrow and spiced with star anise, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves—has been simmering for 26 hours. After our umpteenth course we’re joined by the owner, Angie Hong, a vivacious woman wearing a Hermès belt and a massive Gucci gold bracelet. Hong left Saigon for Sydney in 1971 and opened the first Thanh Binh in 1993. It’s authentic enough to have a sign posted in the bathroom reading, “PLEASE DO NOT STAND ON TOILET SEAT.”

Malaysian Goes Modern Ask Sydneysiders of a certain age where they first tasted chilies, galangal or lemongrass and you’ll likely get a two-word answer: The Malaya. Established in 1963, this is the granddaddy of Sydney’s Asian restaurants, and its evolution—from a modest


storefront on George Street to a gleaming, ultramodern stageset overlooking Darling Harbour—parallels the rise of Asian cuisine in Australia. One thing that hasn’t changed is the laksa, that magnificently hearty Malaysian soup, which might be even better than Michael’s. The broth is at once creamy and piquant; the bean sprouts are crisp, the king prawns plump and firm and briny. “Then again,” Michael says in his own defense, “this isn’t authentic laksa. I mean, they make it with cow’s milk.” Back in the 1960’s, coconut milk was nearly impossible to source in Australia, so, yes, The Malaya’s cooks substituted cow’s milk. Blasphemous or brilliant, your pick— the recipe endures to this day, and it works.

GUIDE TO SYDNEY

What’s Japanese for ‘No, No— Thank You!’? If The Malaya was Sydney’s first great Asian restaurant, Tetsuya’s is certainly its most famous. Japanese-born chef Tetsuya Wakuda is Australia’s answer to Alain Ducasse, and on a good night his food might be worth the challenge of scoring a reservation and the eye-popping tab. Unfortunately, our dinner is fussy and overwrought, and the service feels rote. For my money, a more memorable meal can be had at Yoshii, a six-year-old Japanese gem in The Rocks. Though few tourists have heard of the place, Yoshii might be the finest restaurant in all of Australia. Ryuichi Yoshii—a boyish 44-year-old Nagasaki native who moved to Sydney a decade ago—is the culinary equivalent of an art-house director, trading in quiet, probing, experimental drama. Taking seats at the tiny sushi bar, we surrender to a mesmerizing 17-course omakase adventure. “Thank you,” Yoshii says as he passes us our first course: an eggshell, perched in a silver cup, containing silky egg custard, a chiffonaded snow pea, bonito broth and astoundingly rich sea urchin (diverharvested the previous day in Tasmania), ornamented with gold leaf. By the fifth spoonful we’re humming from the protein buzz and are inclined to stop right there. We don’t. The next 16 dishes come at us like a fireworks display—white asparagus sprinkled with smoked mullet roe; roasted Wagyu beef paired with fried lotus root; mirin-marinated black cod with diced bacon and kumquat; masala-dusted red snapper dotted with splashes of puréed mango, chili and spring onion. And for the finale, eight varieties of sushi, served one by one on tiny, whimsical ceramic plates. Hypnotized by the swirl of Yoshii’s knife, we delve into saffron-orange ocean trout, glistening toro, buttery smoked eel, raw mantis prawns from Perth. Even the palate cleanser— an icy shot of mango-lemongrass granita—is exquisite. By the time we stumble onto the street, giddy from sake and Yoshii’s endless stream of “thank you’s,” four hours have passed, but we’re surprisingly not full—instead, we feel entirely energized. An hour later, we’re at Spice I Am for a nightcap of papaya salad. ✚ Peter Jon Lindberg is a T+L special correspondent.

WHEN TO GO Sydney is mild yearround, but late spring (October–November) and early fall (March–April) have temperatures around 22 degrees and scarcely any rain. GETTING THERE Qantas has regular flights to Sydney from most major cities in Southeast Asia, while most regional carriers fly to Sydney Airport from their respective hubs. WHERE TO STAY The Establishment The 33 rooms here may not offer harbor views, but they’re sleek in all the right ways. 5 Bridge Lane; 61-2/9240-3100; www.luxehotels.com; doubles from A$330. Park Hyatt Smack on the waterfront, right across from the Opera House. 7 Hickson Rd., The Rocks; 612/9241-1234; www.hyatt.com; doubles from A$745. WHERE TO EAT Billy Kwong Shop 3, 355 Crown St., Surry Hills; 612/9332-3300; dinner for two US$25. Chinese Noodle Restaurant 8 Quay St. (entrance off Thomas St.), Haymarket/ Chinatown; 61-2/9281-9051; lunch for two US$15. Cho Dumpling Shop 6, 8 Quay St., Haymarket/ Chinatown; 61-2/9281-2760; snacks for two US$13 . Claude’s 10 Oxford St., Woollahra; 61-2/9331-2325; dinner for two US$280.

Ichi-ban Boshi Terrific ramen joint in a tiny shopping mall catering to Japanese. Try the tantanmen ramen, laden with minced pork, fiery scallions and a softboiled egg. Level 2, Galeries Victoria, 500 George St.; 61-2/9262-7677; ramen for two US$10. Jimbaran Family-run, homestyle Indonesian restaurant with top-notch ayam goreng (chicken marinated in coconut milk and palm sugar, pressure-cooked, then finished in a deep fryer). 129 Avoca St., Randwick; 612/9398-8555; dinner for two US$50. The Malaya 39 Lime St., King St. Wharf, Darling Harbour; 61-2/9279-1170; dinner for two US$70. Manly Phoenix 2–23 Manly Wharf (East Esplanade), Manly; 61-2/9977-2988; dim sum for two US$42. Marigold Citymark Levels 4 and 5, 683—689 George St., Haymarket/Chinatown; 61-2/9281-3388; dim sum for two US$50. Sailors Thai 106 George St., The Rocks; 61-2/9251-2466; dinner for two US$80. Spice I Am 90 Wentworth Ave., Surry Hills; 61-2/92800928; lunch for two US$35. Tai Wong 12 Campbell St., Surry Hills; 61-2/9212-1481; dinner for two US$30. Tetsuya’s 529 Kent St.; 61-2/9267-2900; dinner for two US$230. Thanh Binh 52a John St., Cabramatta; 61-2/9727-9729; lunch for two US$35. Yoshii 115 Harrington St., The Rocks; 61-2/9247-2566; dinner for two US$200. T+L TIP You can eat fantastically well at the Sydney Fish Market (Bank St., Pyrmont; 61-2/9004-1100; www. sydneyfishmarket.com.au). Dozens of stalls sell oysters, emerald-and-sapphirecolored swimmer crabs, seaweed salads, chili-spiced octopus and sashimi sliced right off the tuna. Be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes.

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(My Favorite Place) Zhang with a friend at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort.

Zhang Ziyi, one of China’s best-known actors, with credits including Memoirs of a Geisha, tells PAUL EHRLICH how she is rejuvenated by visiting a sanctuary for orphaned orangutans

OUNTAINS, OCEANS, deserts and rain forests: they bring us balance and harmony. They always welcome us when we need refuge from our ultra-busy lives. They provide us with sanctuary when we need to be refreshed. So it seems only right that we protect and care for our natural world as it continues to be encroached upon by urban life. I think we can only truly care for something if we get to know it better—there is nothing like firsthand experience. I had the chance recently to visit the fascinating orangutans of Borneo, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which I have not stopped talking about since. Within the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, there is an orangutan nature reserve. Here, rangers rehabilitate orphaned babies, so that one day they will be able

M

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M AY 2 0 0 8| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

to live freely in the rain forest. I fell for Alan in a big way. He’s a three-year-old orangutan orphan, who will be released back into the wild in a couple of years. Even though he’s still a baby, he’s strong and quite heavy. Alan completely won me over with his doleful eyes. He is playful, intelligent and very curious. The nature reserve offers programs in which you can participate to help protect the orangutans. My favorite is the adoption program—I now receive a photo of Alan every six months and news about his rehabilitation. If you stay at the Rasa Ria, you can go down a path from your room to the reserve. One minute you are in your room looking at the South China Sea lapping gently on the sandy beach and in the next you are in a tropical forest amid the wildlife. It leaves me totally rejuvenated. ✚

WHERE TO STAY Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort 160 hectares of tropical forest and gardens have been set aside as a nature reserve and orangutan education center. Dalit Beach, Tuaran; 60-88/792-888; www.shangri-la. com; doubles from RM410.

JACK GUY

MALAYSIA


May 2008  

May 2008: May 2008

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