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Europe Bound How to book the best deals


APRIL 2013

MACAU After 500 years, there’s still a dash of Portugal on the South China Sea

42 reasons to visit Shanghai right now


Asia by the Chilled Bottle Dubai, when the menus are the mission

Silent Retreats

Recharge without your phone

Singapore S$7.90 ● Hong Kong HK$43 Thailand THB175 ● Indonesia IDR50,000 Malaysia MYR17 ● Vietnam VND85,000 Macau MOP44 ● Philippines PHP240 Burma MMK35 ● Cambodia KHR22,000 Brunei BND7.90 ● Laos LAK52,000

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Volume 07 / Issue 04


April 2013 Features 70

Two for the Road New Zealand packs so much into so little space that it’s perfect for a road trip. A South Island adventure by motorhome and motorcycle. by jeninne lee - st . john and ian lloyd neubauer. guide 79


Porto on the Pearl Five hundred years ago, the first Portuguese traders landed in China. jeff chu searches out their lingering legacy in Macau and meets the newest wave of Lusophone settlers. photographed by david har tung . guide 87


Eating Dubai It is nonstop, high energy and over the top, a land of superlatives and hyperbole—not to mention Lebanese meze, fresh sushi, Pakistani curry and drinks atop the tallest building in the world. by gar y shteyngar t . photographed by baerbel schmidt . guide and map



Mountain of Fire Hiking this Indonesian volcano will make you think twice about the force of nature. stor y and photographs by david lloyd buglar. guide


d aV I d h a r t u n g

104 The New Old Hamburg This German city is being refashioned, but the mood is calm as ever. by gini alhadeff . photographed by christian kerber. guide and map 111

Macau’s Senado Square, page 80. t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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dest i nat ions

a few classes that teach the tricks of the local trades. 44



Northern Exposure Dig into the savory secrets of northern Thai cooking.


Plus Silent retreats; the best steaks in Tokyo; hott new restaurants in London, New York and Hong Kong; and more.

stor y and photographs by austin bush


Cure What Ales You Heady lagers, amber ales and golden pilsners are flowing around Asia in a current of craft beer.

Trip Doctor 60

Q+A How to land cheaper tickets to Europe and save on exchanging currency.


Deals A luxury getaway in Laos; a sightseeing tour of the canals of Bangkok; a free night in downtown Saigon; a cycling escape in Bali; and more.

by brian spencer


Luang Prabang 101 There’s no better way to get to know this dreamy riverside city in Laos than to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. merritt gurley checks out

India’s A-List Location Mumbai’s ritzy suburb of Pali Hill is best known for the plush bungalows of Bollywood stars. by karr yn


Smart Traveler Define what type of traveler you are and, in the process, how to choose an adventure that’s right for you. Decoder

112 Shanghai With innovative restaurants, sophisticated hotels and a booming art scene, the Pearl of the Orient is undergoing one of the most rapid expansions in Asia. jennifer chen leads to the source.

on the Cover In a colonial corner of Macau. Photographer: David Hartung; stylist: Christie Simpson; and model: Hidy Yu from Modelone. Top, Senses by Ines Kilm; vest, Escada; skirt, Maurizio Pecoraro at Harvey Nichols; necklace, Elizabeth Cole at Harvey Nichols; shoes, Rupert Sanderson.

Last Look

118 Yogyakarta, Indonesia An unusual royal ceremony draws crowds. photographed by putu sayoga

Modern Indian style at Play Clan, page 44.


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Australia on the HalfShell Fresh oysters from sea-to-plate in Freycinet, Tasmania. by frances

Departments 12 14 … i n b o x 16

e d i t o r ’s n o t e

contr ibu tors

Radar 24

10 …


april 2013 123 HamBurg 104










soutH isl and, nEw ZEal and









Fall and spring. Check when ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, falls, as restaurants and bars do stay open but it’s bad form to eat and drink on the streets.

about a kilogram of lokum, the famed turkish delight confection, at the egyptian Bazaar.




during the city’s winter (from around november to March). the weather is warm and the skies are blue every day.

a funky Indian journal from play Clan or an authentic Indian meal at Bandra West’s Khane Khas, a basic restaurant serving up delicious food.


south island, new Zealand


summer lasts december through March, though bring a sweater for chilly nights.

a bowl of seafood chowder or half a dozen green-lip mussels at Kaikoura seafood BBQ.




Mid-october through december brings cool winds for a mild autumn.

the minimum wager on many casinos’ roulette wheels.




october through april—although it’s incredibly hot all of the time.

a camel-shaped glass drinks stirrer at Camel Company souvenir shops.




May, June, september and october. temperatures are pleasantly warm in July and august, but rain is more frequent.

a half-liter of pils at gröninger privat-Brauerei, the city’s oldest brewery, which opened in 1722.


Long Weekend


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Editor’s Note

where to find me @CKucway on Twitter

the lure of City lights

Next to Last Flight, a sculpture made of found flip flops at The Drawing Room in Singapore.

our next stops


Melbourne Maymyo, Burma Amsterdam

The T+L Code Travel + Leisure 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. 12

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ya p a I l I a n


’m in a Singapore taxi with a talkative driver, one who tells me the city’s MRT is “too squishy” to take. Of course he’s going to pick apart his competition, but I tell him that I navigate this compact city as much as I can by train, an inexpensive way around what is one of Southeast Asia’s most costly stops. It’s also one of the region’s most popular because, as much as we love secluded beachscapes, most of us want to visit big cities too, and revel in the variety they offer. Take a closer look at cities and you’ll find the entirely invented, say Dubai; the reworked, a place such as Macau; and the still-to-be-defined, somewhere like Shanghai. This month we tackle all three, though in very different ways. In recent years, Macau has been all neon, all night, all casino. But there still exists another side to the Chinese getaway, and if you scratch the surface you’ll understand that in Macau fine port has nothing to do with the ferry docks. Jeff Chu steps out from underneath the glare of the monstrous casinos and turns his attention to all things Portuguese, following the blue-and-white tiled lanes to another era, 500 years in the making (“Porto on the Pearl,” page 80). On the other side of authentic, Gary Shteyngart ventures to a Middle Eastern hot spot—35 degrees Celsius to be exact—in search of a good meal or three (“Eating Dubai,” page 88), and comes across man-made creeks, fake souks and confirmation codes. Continuing in that urban theme, Jennifer Chen updates everything you need to know right now about fast-changing Shanghai in this month’s Decoder (page 112). If all this talk about urban landscapes leaves you short of breath, then look no further than the photo of Freycinet, Tasmania (“Australia on the half shell,” page 24). It lends new meaning to the phrase farm-to-table, or rather sea-to-mouth, in one of the cleanest places on earth. I’ve been there twice and would not turn down a third visit.— christopher k ucway


Karryn Miller

Ian Lloyd Neubauer

Austin Bush

Gary Shteyngart

Baerbel Schmidt

how was the move to mumbai from hanoi? I absolutely love this city. It’s a more intense version of Hanoi, both the good and the bad. The traffic and the socioeconomic divide are more extreme but there’s more of an energy. It’s an exciting place to live. night out Dome at InterContinental Marine Drive, Café Zoe for dinner and Blue Frog for live music. amazing architecture The Fort area in South Mumbai has the largest collection of Art Deco and Victorian Gothic architecture in the world. Although many buildings are in disrepair, that only adds to their allure. hospitality in india is Welcoming and generous, but not always punctual. The people we’ve met have been quick to invite us into their homes. We didn’t realize, though, that they don’t expect you to arrive on time. We would show up for dinner at 7:30 p.m. and no other guests would arrive until well after 9.

how did you learn to ride a motorcycle? I started in Cambodia in 2004—I was a reporter for The Cambodia Daily. Every Saturday morning, I’d jump on my bike and spend the weekend exploring beaches, temples, forests and parks. any close calls in new zealand? The only scary things were the campervans that tore past me at 100kph every time I stopped to admire the view or snap a photo on the side of the road. most interesting person you met there Neville Hayes, of Hayes & Son Hardware. He has an impressive collection of cars, including a ’57 Ford Firebird and a ’68 Chevy Camaro. But he drives a Nissan Pulsar hatchback in Invercargill because he doesn’t like to show off. the open road makes you feel... Liberated and alive.

besides eating, what do you like to do in northern thailand? Seek out Buddhist temple murals—the area is home to some to some rustic but beautiful examples. local eating habits Thai people often eat dinner leftovers for breakfast the next day. Other than cold pizza, I can’t recall ever having seen this. favorite thai dish Probably northernstyle laab. It’s an entirely different dish than the laab most people are familiar with, and emphasizes dried spices and meatiness over tart lime and herbs. next cuisine you’d like to master? I only have a surface understanding of Vietnamese cookery, and would love to learn more about it.

lasting impression of dubai The scorching weather. It oscillates between “I’m dying” and “I don’t want to live.” greatest meal there My favorite dish in Dubai was the chicken livers sautéed in pomegranate sauce at Al Nafoorah, a Lebanese restaurant in the Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel. They serve the finest mezes outside of Lebanon. best advice for first timers Bring a book to read during the traffic jams. George Eliot’s Middlemarch is about the right length. your last meal would be... Pajata (veal intestines filled with mother’s milk) at Agustarello, in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood.

describe your perfect dubai meal Ordering sushi and a spider roll at Kisaku before heading to Teatro for chocolate cake. you could spend the rest of your life eating... “The Sphere,” a beautiful, pearl-like whitechocolate dessert at Armani/Ristorante in the Armani Hotel. It was over-the-top delicious. perks of the job I love seeing what chefs can do with food visually, and how delicate and pretty food can look on a plate. favorite restaurant scene? The Thai joint Smiling BBK was super-hip and so unexpected—I could have found it on some street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. meals look best when... I’m hungry!


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Writer and Photographer “two for the road” (page 70).

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Writer and Photographer “northern exposure” (page 30).

Writer “eating dubai” (page 88).

Photographer “eating dubai” (page 88).

‘the scorching weather oscillates between “i’m dying” and “i don’t want to live.”’ –gary shteyngart

F r o M l e F t: C o u r t e s y o F K a r r y n M I l l e r ; C o u r t e s y o F I a n l l o y d n e u B a u e r ; C o u r t e s y o F a u s t I n B u s h ; J e F F M o r g a n ; F r a n K s C h W e r e

Writer “India’s a-list location” (page 44).


dreaming of danang Wanderlust attack on midnight. I blame you for the gorgeous Vietnam feature @TravLeisureAsia [“Destination Danang,” March]. @evetedja, bali


Boomtown Vietnam is found along its central coast, in a sweet spot between pretty Hoi An and proud Hue. Jeninne Lee-St. John explains why you’ll soon be headed to the beaches of Danang. Photographed by Morgan Ommer

My Khe Beach. Opposite page clockwise from top left: Banyan Tree's Thu Quan bar; lunch in Danang; local tailors; Hoi An wet market; Mr. Van, guide; Heaven Villa, InterContinental; selling fruit in Hoi An; a pool at the Hyatt Regency. Middle: A welcome to the spa, Banyan Tree.

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Pledging Allegiance Jeff Chu [“Sovereignty of the Heart,” February] points out that ever-fewer Hong Kong residents, particularly young people, identify as primarily Chinese. I’m not surprised, and I think we can thank the Chinese for that. It is easy for twenty somethings like me to believe in Hong Kong exceptionalism when we see so many mainlanders who, though we may share their blood and officially their government, seem to come from a completely different culture and tradition. I love visiting Shanghai and Chengdu, but there’s no place like home. June Chung, hong kong

ContaCt inFo

Hotel Confidential The practices outlined in “Project You” [February] may be creepy and intrusive, but the reality is, if I found a photo of my husky in my hotel room with a note saying “Monty misses you,” it’s hard to believe I wouldn’t be touched. In an era where corporations are constantly being trashed for making everyone an anonymous statistic, we should probably not object when some do try to get to know us. member MurrayLundberg Passage to India “To India, with Love” [January] was wonderful in describing a society where the old and the new are juxtaposed amid vibrant art and architecture. Keep up the good work. Jeff Olen, pennsylvania , usa Southwestern Quirk “Pure Santa Fe” [January] was a lovingly entertaining article that did justice to another traveler’s point of view. I enjoyed Mr. Shteyngart’s creative perspective on our small town, its odd ways and the timeless characters and places that fill it. member areyoukiddingme

Got something to say? Tell us at,, f, or @TravLeisureAsia. Comments may be edited for clarity and space.

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Radar on our

Solitude and serenity at Fivelements in Bali.

news. Finds. opinions. obsessions.

t+l p i c ks

The Sound of Silence

Courtesy oF FIVeleMents

so you’re wired 24 hours a day and in need of a break. seek a respite from the constant connectivity at a silent retreat, an increasingly popular way to refocus, rejuvenate and recharge. by diana hubbell





Kyoto Kokusai Zendo A fairly traditional retreat housed in a temple, main hall and farmhouse, Kyoto Kokusai Zendo requires its guests to follow Buddhist monastery rules, although everyone is warmly welcomed. This means mostly vegetarian meals, basic accommodations and an emphasis on compassion.; requested donation for meals and lodging ÂĽ3,000 per night.

Agama Yoga School, Koh Phangan Idyllic island scenery sets the backdrop for the five- to 10-day silent retreats at this yoga studio. Agama combines elements of Tantric, Hatha, Kundalini and Tibetan yoga with music meditation and other techniques to help visitors find bliss.; seven-day retreats from Bt3,500, not including vegan buffet meals or accommodation.

Kathmandu Sat Nam Rasayan This retreat offers a meditative oasis with Western-style accommodation only 45 minutes from Kathmandu. The schedule here is packed with activities, including trips to holy sites, monasteries and a local home. Guests can relax at a spa, attend classes or just breathe. kathmandu.html; retreats from â‚Ź990, including vegetarian meals and accommodation.

Fivelements Positively luxe, this holistic getaway aims both to pamper and revive its guests with spa treatments, gourmet-style raw food and a number of Balinese healing therapies. Though most stays here involve speech, Fivelements periodically hosts silent retreats well worth checking out.; the next silent retreat September 15 through 20, US$3,900 per person.

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Clockwise from above: Curator June Yap; Poklong Anading’s Counter Acts; a work by Navin Rawanchaikul.

Works Works of modern Asian art are in the limelight, in an exhibit that challenges limelight, perceptions perceptions of culture and country. Following a run at the Guggenheim Following Museum in New York, which ends May 22 (; adult admission US$22), No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia will travel to Hong Kong and Singapore. The show highlights the work of 22 artists, chosen by curator June Yap over the course of her threemonth journey across region. The show runs the gamut of paintings, sculptures, photography, video, works on paper, and installations that tackle heady themes like the impact of globalization. “Bearing the traces of conquest, colonialization and internal division, this is a region in which the pain and euphoria that accompanied the emergence of nation states still linger,” Yap says.


singaporE EsCapEs looking for holiday inspiration just a hop, skip and a jump away from singapore? Changi airport has you covered with a new app highlighting itineraries within a five-hour radius of the city-state. the app, Weekend escapades, covers 30 cities across 11 countries, with a list of airline promotions, flight searches, events, maps and tips on where to shop, eat and stay. It was designed to take the guesswork out of weekend trips from singapore and introduce travelers to lesser-known cities in the region. “some of the emerging getaway destination such as lombok, danang and Vientiane offer a different experience for travelers to explore,” says Kelvin ng of Changi airport group. aeroports de paris and dallas/Fort Worth International airport also launched dynamic smart-phone apps this year, in a trend that leverages the travel hubs’ expertise and may give apps like tripIt and gateguru a run for their money.; available at Google Play and iTunes; free.—dav id ngo


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A few of the artists showing in exhibition, such as Truong Tan, from Vietnam, and Singapore’s Tang Da Wu have stirred up controversy in their home countries for their provocative performances and pieces in this collection that touches on the issues— even those that are taboo—that reflect culture throughout modern-day Southeast Asia. The show “offers a glimpse into the region’s diverse contemporary art practices,” Yap explains, “presenting the possibility of understanding its countries beyond their political and geographical boundaries.” The exhibit will open in this part of the world with a showing at Asia Society Hong Kong Center ( hongkong), that runs from October 2013 to February 2014. Dates for the Singapore run have not been set.—merritt gurley

F r o M B o t t o M : I l l u s t r at e d I p h o n e : C h r I s r o B I n s o n ; C o u r t e s y n aV I n r aWa n C h a I K u l a n d n aV I n p r o d u C t I o n C o . lt d. ; © d aV I d h e a l d/© s o l o M o n r g u g g e n h e I M F o u n d at I o n , n y; C o u r t e s y r u s s e l l M o r t o n

Eastern Aesthetic


guests of Saffire Freycinet tasting oysters straight from the water on the east coast of Tasmania.


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australia on tHE HalF sHEll There are some hotels that immerse guests in local culinary traditions. And others that actually immerse them. Overlooking a national park on Tasmania’s eastern coast, Saffire Freycinet (; all-inclusive; doubles from A$1,800) offers visits to a nearby marine farm, where a guide suits you up in waders, leads you to a waiting table in a cool, pristine bay, and pulls a handful of Pacific oysters from the water. He swiftly pries the bivalves open and serves them right there with just a squeeze of lemon and a glass of sparkling Tasmanian wine. Silence, stillness and a dozen creamy oysters from some of the purest water in the world. What better way to get a taste of Tassie?—frances hibbard


Coya, a new Peruvian restaurant in Mayfair, is the toast of London.


london’s latEst how do you dive into the heart of a city? Better rephrase the question—where is everyone eating right now? a hot restaurant is more than a place to have a meal; it’s the microcosm of a scene, the movers sitting elbow to elbow with the shakers. Case in point: Coya (; dinner for two £30), in london, where aristos and art dealers alike dine on sea-bream ceviche, rib eye with chimichurri and other bites from peru, culinary touchstone of the moment. It’s the newest opening from restaurateur arjun Waney, whose Zuma and arts Club were themselves era-defining canteens for the in-crowd. For more picks from our correspondents in london, new york and hong Kong, turn the page.


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Photographed by James Merrell


Tapas restaurant 22 Ships, in Hong Kong’s Wanchai.

Wishbone, London’s current fried-chicken obsession.

The eponymous dish at The Marrow, in New York’s West Village.

wHErE to Eat now in... london

The long-awaited Covent Garden outpost of Balthazar (44-20/3301-1155; dinner for two £70) is a near-replica of the New York original, down to the distressed mirrors, steak frites and media bigwigs in the booths. + Pollen Street Social chef Jason Atherton promises to further dismantle fine-dining conventions at Social Eating House (, in Soho, while respecting the refined cooking he learned from Gordon Ramsay. + Multicultural Brixton Market is enticing hipsters south of the Thames. The biggest draw: fried chicken with Thai tamarind sauce at Wishbone (; dinner for two £40).+ The Clove Club (thecloveclub. com), a pop-up supper club that was one of the toughest tickets in town, has settled down. The permanent restaurant, located in the Victorian Shoreditch Town Hall, is sure to play Pied Piper to East London foodies.—christine ajudua


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new York City

Natty couples channel their grandparents in a supper-club setting at Carbone (, with upgraded Italian American classics—linguine with clams; chicken scarpariello—by the duo behind the ever-popular Torrisi.+ Two big names are vying for West Villagers’ affections. Top Chef alum Harold Dieterle explores his German and Italian roots at The Marrow (; dinner for two US$100), while Gabriel Stulman—whose retro neighborhood joints Joseph Leonard and Fedora have a cult following—veers into new territory with the Frenchified sushi at Chez Sardine (; dinner for two US$80). + At Lafayette (, Andrew Carmellini returns to his French training (he cooked under Daniel Boulud), serving country-style dishes to the fashion set.+ In Brooklyn, the culinary intelligentsia clamor for tables at Aska (; tasting menu for two US$130), a New Nordic spot in Williamsburg.—jay cheshes

Hong kong

Both foodies and real estate obsessives are eyeing the emerging PoHo area of Sheung Wan, where minimalist-chic bakery Po’s Atelier ( showcases celeb chef Masami Asano’s loaves, made with such ingredients as oolong tea and Yunnanese ham and goat cheese.+ Nearby, the team responsible for yakitori spot Yardbird have opened Ronin (, a seafood-focused izakaya with more than 50 Japanese whiskies and just 14 first-come, firstserve seats. + The Salted Pig (; dinner for two HK$630) celebrates all things porcine in a convivial space in Central filled with bloggers snapping pics of sous vide pork belly.+ Singaporean hotelier Yenn Wong pairs up with London’s Jason Atherton at tapas joint 22 Ships (; tapas for two HK$340), in Wanchai. There’s always a wait—but that means more time to ogle the beautiful people nibbling on squid paella and truffled egg with celeriac.—jennifer chen

C l o C K W I s e F r o M t o p l e F t: n at h a n r aW l I n s o n /C o u r t e s y o F a s K a ; C o u r t e s y o F 2 2 s h I p s ; C o u r t e s y o F t h e M a r r o W ; C o u r t e s y o F W I s h B o n e

A Nordic-inspired soup from Aska, in Brooklyn, New York.


Nowhere is the Burmese influence on northern Thai food more evident than in gaeng hang lay, a thick, rich ragout typically made with fatty pork belly, seasoned with a masala-like mixture of dried spices and tamarind extract, and studded with whole garlic cloves and slivers of ginger. It is one of the more common and revered dishes in the region.

a n ato m y o f a m e a l

A northern variation of the classic Thai papaya salad, yam som oh is made from pomelo that is pounded with a wooden mortar and pestle along with fresh chili, thin slices of lemongrass and eggplant, and nam puu. The latter, a pungent, slightly bitter fermented paste made from the tiny crabs that live in rice fields, adds a distinct depth.

Northern Exposure

dig into the savory secrets of northern thai cooking. story and photographs by austin Bush The home-style cooking in the hills of northern Thailand is packed with seasonal produce and an impressive array of spices and yet it is arguably the country’s least-known cuisine. Which is a shame, for if you’re a fan of pork, earthy flavors or anything deep-fried, it could easily become your favorite. Unlike its southern counterpart, its curries and soups rarely feature coconut milk, and instead of fiery fresh chilies, dried spices are used to give dishes tongue-numbing or smoky flavors. The palate, palate, among the milder in the region, is of Burmese and Shan among the milder origins, origins, no doubt due to the centuries of exchange (and warfare) no doubt due between between the former kingdom of Lanna and its neighbor to the the former west. west. Here we dish up the mouthwatering multi-course medley Here we dish you you can expect at dinnertime in and around Chiang Mai. ✚ can expect at dinnertime

If you ever find yourself lost in Thailand, you can probably pinpoint your location based on the kind of nam prik, chili-based “dips,” on the table. Up north, it’s bound to be nam prik num, made from the eponymous prik num chili that, along with garlic and shallots, is grilled and pounded into a spicy, stringy paste. Nam prik num is usually served with steamed vegetables and deep-fried pork rinds.

Think pork rinds and you may conjure up images of U.S.-style junk food, but Thais have been frying up khaep muu since long before Americans jumped on the bandwagon. The crispy pork puffs feature as a side dish, garnish or element in various chili-based dips.

Sticky rice, or khao neung, is the traditional grain here. The glutinous short rice is steamed, not boiled, in water, served in small bamboo baskets and eaten with the hands—the perfect vehicle for sopping up the local dips, soups and sauces.

Laab, the ubiquitous Thai-style sour and spicy minced meat “salad” is a different creature all together in the north. Here, the lime juice is replaced with a mixture of dried spices, highlighting prickly ash and long pepper. The meat (generally pork, beef or buffalo, but fish and chicken versions occasionally sneak onto a menu) is mixed with blood and offal. And the dish is always served with a plate of bitter herbs and vegetables.

where to eat localstyle northern food Chiang Mai’s Krua Petch Doi Ngam does northern laab in an approachable setting (267 Mahidon Rd.; 66-53/204-517; meal for two Bt400).

Another dish emblematic of the north is sai ua, a type of sausage stuffed with fatty pork and a bouquet of fresh herbs ranging from Kaffir lime leaf to lemongrass. Grilled in large coils or deep-fried, it pairs well with nam prik num.

Phu-Lae, in Chiang rai, (673/1 Thanalai; meal for two Bt400) cooks all the staples in air-con comfort.

Northerners may have a pork fixation, but they also love their veggies, and mustard greens in particular seem to pop up in every meal. They’re eaten raw with laab, served steamed with nam prik, or added to jor phak kaat, a hearty pork soup. It’s not the most attractive dish, but the herbal, slightly sweet flavor is sure to win over skeptics.

In the remote province of Mae hong son, head to Banpleng Restaurant (108 Thanon Khunlum Praphat; meal for two Bt300), an open-air place where you’ll find delectable versions of all of the dishes mentioned here. authentic northern cuisine can be tricky to find in the Bangkok, but gedhawa (25 Sukhumvit Rd. Soi 35; 66-2/662-0501; meal for two Bt400) serves up serious khao soi in a charmingly oldfashioned location.

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Old Sandal.

Chef Didem Şenol at her restaurant gram.

Kiliç Ali Paşa Hamami.

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istanBul witH didEm m ŞEnol As a pioneer of the city’s locavore food movement, chef Didem Şenol serves obsessively crafted Turkish dishes at her popular restaurants, Lokanta Maya ( and gram (; lunch only), both in Beyoğlu. We asked Şenol for tips on navigating the area. Eat “On the way to work, I often stop at galata Simitçisi (galatasimitcisi. com). Simit are like Turkish com). Simit are like Turkish bagels; the ones here, bagels; the ones here,

made in a wood-burning oven, are especially salty-sweet.” + “For dinner, Asmali Cavit (90-212/292-4950) is an institution known for its mezes. Try the fava beans and the burnt-aubergine salad.” Stay “I send friends to Witt Istanbul Hotel (; doubles from €229), a chic boutique property. Each room has a kitchenette, so you can pick up ingredients at up ingredients at the markets and cook a meal and cook a meal or two.”

+ “Karaköy Rooms (; doubles from €155), set in a renovated historic building, has an impeccable retro style.” Shop “I never knew the difference between handmade and machine-made leather shoes until I found Old Sandal ( You can browse their beautiful collection, or have a pair made to order.” + “Serra Turker, one of the city’s rising fashion stars, opened her first recently opened her first

The galata tower, in the Karaköy neighborhood.

boutique, Misela ( Her bags are bold, colorful and very stylish.” Do “There’s an exciting gallery scene in the Karaköy part of Beyoğlu. My favorite is Egeran galeri (, with its mix of local and international artists.” + “For the Turkish bathhouse experience, Kiliç Ali Paşa Hamami (kilicalipasahamami. com) is a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture.”— As told to Elizabeth Gunnison galata Simitçisi.

Karaköy Rooms.


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Photographed by Kerem Uzel



Cure What Ales You heady lagers, amber ales and golden pilsners are flowing into southeast asia in a current of craft beer. By Brian Spencer

Š Ju pIt er IM ages / ge t t yIM ages.CoM

Young American brewmasters invading China. A 200-year-old sake brewery in Japan shifting focus to a fledgling line of microbrews. It is indeed becoming a brave new beer world in many parts of Asia, where in recent years the growing global taste for craft beers has spread to previously untapped regions, from Beijing to Singapore and back to Bangkok. Turn the page for a list of great places to knock back a cold one. âž”


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Clockwise from above: A cold pint at Slow Boat Brewery; beer-thirsty crowds gather at great Leap Brewing; a trio of craft beers imported by Beervana; the specials at great Leap Brewing.


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china Expect big, bold, well-balanced beers from quick-witted American brewmaster Carl Setzer at great Leap Brewing (Doujiao Hutong 6, Dongcheng District, Beijing; 86-10/5717-1399; RMB40 a glass), widely considered the best microbrewery in Beijing. Setzer has tapped his small-batch beers at a cheerful hutong courtyard tasting room since Great Leap’s debut in 2010, but the brewery’s runaway success has him thinking much bigger: A new 300-capacity space featuring a kitchen and 15 beer taps is set to open in the coming months near Chunxiu Road. Setzer isn’t the only American making a mark in Beijing’s emerging craft-beer arena. Slowboat Brewery (56 Dongsi Batiao; 86-10/6538-5537;; RMB40 a glass) is a joint venture of expats Chandler Jurinka and Daniel Herbert, who launched the company in 2009 and last December unveiled the brewery’s cozy showcase venue, located in the Dongcheng district. Eleven bars and restaurants pour Slowboat’s beers, but the 20 wall-mounted taps here offer the largest assortment.

japan The past 180 years of Kiuchi Brewery’s (1257 Kounosu, Naka-shi, Ibaraki; 81-29/ 298-0105;; ¥500 a glass) history have been largely defined by sake, but vice president Youichi Kiuchi sees the future of his brewery through the bottom of a pint glass. Located roughly 160 kilometers outside of Tokyo in Naka city, Kiuchi Brewery began brewing its award-winning Hitachino Nest beers in 1996—a good move given Japan’s ongoing generational shift from sake to craft beer as the tipple of choice. Last year Kiuchi added eight new 12,000-liter tanks to its facilities, which today handle 11 different Hitachino Nest ales. You can also brew your own beer under the direction of Kiuchi’s brewmasters and have it shipped three weeks later to anywhere in Japan.

C l o C K W I s e F r o M l e F t: s l o W B o at B r e W e r y; g r e at l e a p B r e W I n g ; B e e r Va n a ; g r e at l e a p B r e W I n g


C l o C K W I s e F r o M t o p l e F t: t h e g o o d B e e r C o M pa n y; ta p s B e e r B a r ; g r e at l e a p B r e W I n g . B o t t o M : J I B I r u C r a F t B e e r B a r

Clockwise from left: At The good Beer Company; the selection at Taps Beer Bar; beers and banter at great Leap Brewing. Bottom: The line up at JiBiru Craft Beer Bar.

malaysia Exposed brick walls, polished concrete floors and blackboards chalked with cheeky beer quips highlight the warehouse-like space at Taps Beer Bar (1 Jln. Nagasari, One Residency, Kuala Lumpur; 60-3/2110-1560;; RM30 a glass), a collaborative effort of five cousins that’s located near Kuala Lumpur’s lively Bukit Bintang nightlife and shopping district. Elevating the beer scene in KL, Taps offers the city’s best selection of imported craft beers with more than 50 different bottles and, notably, 14 taps pouring a well-culled selection of beers from international microbrewery titans such as Mikkeller, BrewDog and Nøgne Ø. Tapas, 18-centimeter pizzas and pub-grub staples are cranked out of the kitchen to help soak up the suds.

singapore Visit 15 different hawker centers and you’ll taste 15 distinctly different takes on the same dish, but the culinary diversity of Singapore’s famed eating houses doesn’t extend to a beer selection dominated by Tiger, Baron’s Strong Brew and Heineken—with one lone exception. The good Beer Company (335 Smith St., #02-58;; S$10 a bottle), a newish stall occupying a prime corner in Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre, deals exclusively in craft beers, hawking 50 to 60 ales and ciders from 10 countries. While you’ll find a handful of Japanese imports at The Good Beer Company, JiBiru Craft Beer Bar (313 Orchard Rd., #01-26; 65/6732-6884; jibiru. com; S$15 a pint) offers more than 20. Situated in buzzing “Discovery Walk”—a breezy outdoor courtyard at 313@ Somerset mall—JiBiru pours house drafts of Hitachino Nest, Sapporo and Singaporean microbrewery Jungle Beer, along with a long list of bottles headed by Japanese breweries Kinshachi, Kiuchi Brewery, Shiga Kogen and Yoho Brewing.

thailand The region’s pivot to craft beers hasn’t gone unnoticed by Thailand’s Boon Rawd Brewery, the mass producers of Singha and Leo beers, which has scaled down at its Bangkok microbrewery Est. 33, (1420/1 Praditmanoontham Rd., Bldg. E; 66-2/102-2096; Bt150 a glass) a stylish indoor-outdoor brewpub at trendy Crystal Design Center in Lat Phrao. Here a swanky, industrial-style design incorporates the crystal brewing and fermentation tanks that handle the brewery’s house beers—a lager, a copper and a black beer made with black glutinous rice—as well as its occasional seasonals, which are worth the wait. Elsewhere in Bangkok, two enterprising expats recently formed Beervana (, the import company behind an influx of craft beers popping up at hip bars and restaurants like White Beer’D, WTF and Smith Restaurant. Brews from Singapore’s Brewerkz and U.S. microbrewers Rogue and Anderson Valley are currently available, with more coming soon. ✚

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going for a stroll in the early morning.

g e taway

Luang Prabang 101

The pace of life in Luang Prabang seems to take its cues from the slow ebb of the rivers that cradle it. Swathed in the lingering aesthetic of its French-colonial days, the town is known for its stylish architecture, some of Asia’s best baguettes and a local culture still relatively new to the tourism industry. Many of the Laotians currently working in town are first generation business professionals, who grew up in neighboring villages and farms. “I imagine it is like Bangkok was 60 years ago,” says Kevin O’Hagan, general manager of Hotel de la Paix. “There’s still an old world charm about.”


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Laotians are some of the most laid-back people you’ll ever meet, and far be it for them to impose tourism kitsch upon you. So, no rush, spend your first day in a café on the riverside, with a Beerlao in one hand and a good book in the other. In fact, pencil that in for day two as well. But by day three you may be itching to learn more about this riverside community. Naturally, you’ll be drawn to the famous morning alms-giving ritual that brings dozens of monks on a promenade through the town, with the hub of action along the main drag of Sakkaline Road. But in high season (November through February) this can

become a spectacle with bleary-eyed tourists gathered at 6:30 a.m. in droves to snap pictures of the daily tradition. For a more intimate experience you’ll have to haul yourself out of bed even earlier, between 5:30 a.m. or 6 a.m, and begin at Aham Road, where with luck you’ll find monks chanting as they start their walk to the city center. If these humble monks—and the town’s resounding calm—inspire a need for self-reflection and self-improvement, you just may be able to achieve both at classes here that offer hands-on cultural immersion and a peek into daily life in Luang Prabang. ➔

© Bru no Mor a n dI / ge t t yIM ages.CoM

there’s no better way to get to know this dreamy riverside city in laos than to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Merritt gurley checks out a few classes that teach the tricks of the local trades.

living Craft Center

Clockwise from below: Hotel de la Paix; statues of Buddha inside the Royal Funerary Carriage House at Wat Xieng Thong; woven tops at Ock Pop Tok; ready for a ride at Elephant Village.

Natural fabric dying, fabric weaving, bamboo weaving and batik are all taught at Ock Pop Tok’s Learning Craft Centre. Set in a traditional Laotian house, on a pretty riverside garden, weavers work on wooden looms, teaching techniques that are more than 1,200 years old. Many of the ingredients used in the fabric dying class come from the onsite garden and students use the natural elements to dye three different color silk skeins that they can take home. And you won’t be the only one getting lessons in the ancient arts; young apprentices from neighboring villages come to the center to learn these age-old skills, so they can bring new trades back home. If you’d like to see a few best-in-class examples of textiles in the region, check out Fibre2Fabric gallery, run by the same owners, where the Living the Blues exhibition is on display throughout the month celebrating indigo, a dye used regularly in the weaving classes. 85671/212-597;; half-day classes US$55 per person.

Be a mahout True elephant trainers bond with their pachyderm pals for life. But if you’ve only got a couple of days, you can still get


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valuable insight into the life of a mahout, learning how these experts communicate with and care for the gentle giants, at Elephant Village, a 45-minute drive outside Luang Prabang. Run by international specialists who focus on protecting elephants in Laos from threats like diminishing habitats and hard-labor logging, the village also makes a point of keeping elephant-mahout families intact. Camping is on the buddy system. On arrival, you’re paired with an elephant whose mahout acts as your guide for the overnight experience—which is definitely not for the acrophobic, or landlubbers. The initial ride astride your pachyderm involves walking down a steep hill and fording a river, followed by a training session in which your mahout teaches you a series of hand gestures and commands to communicate with elephants. Quick learners should be able to coax their elephants into taking a knee for a rider’s mount or dismount. (Smart elephants know following your amateur instructions will net them bunches of bananas.) In the evening you’ll walk the elephant into its jungle home where it will turn in for the night, and the next day you’ll fetch your elephant from the same spot and head to the river to give it a bubble bath—don’t be surprised if you

C loC K WIse FroM Bot toM: Jago ga Zen da M; © K IM Berl e y Cool e / ge t t yIM ages.CoM; Jago ga Zen da M; Courtesy oF elephant VIll age.


Stay end up getting more soaked than your elephant. Ban Xieng Lom, Luang Prabang; 856-71/252-417;; One-Day Mahout Experience tour from US$120 per person, including transfer to and from the elephant camp, an English speaking guide, all meals, boat rides, overnight room accommodations and waterfall entrance fees.

Courtesy oF elephant VIll age

the rice Experience On the outskirts of Luang Prabang, the Living Land farm has been providing fresh, sustainably grown grains, fruits, spices and vegetables to hotels in town since 2006. In 2010, as the agro-tourism trend took flight, interest in the farm grew—particularly among guests of hotels that served its produce. “When they came to see the garden, some people wanted to spend all day here,” explains Laut Lee, Living Land’s manager. “So we thought, ‘we have all these visitors—what should we do with them?’ And the idea just grew up.” The idea was to teach tourists how to make sticky rice, a specialty of the region, from start to finish, using traditional Laotian wooden equipment and techniques. Lee says that with many tourists you have to start with the bare basics. “One man asked if [rice] grew underground like a peanut,” he says, laughing. The experience begins at 8:30 a.m. and goes until 12:30 p.m., when’ll be you treated to the fruits of your labor with a large Laotian meal highlighting—you guessed it—sticky rice. The Living Land is also launching Jungle Walk tours, two-hour treks through the jungle to forage for fresh fruits and vegetables. Lee says it will be a great way for visitors to get a quick feel of the jungles and fields of Luang Prabang, and another good lesson in how food gets from field to plate. “People eat rice a lot but don’t know how it grows,” Lee tells me. “They may think that it comes out of a packet, but it does not—it comes from my farm.”; Rice Experience, LAK344,000 per person.

what’s next The unesco World Heritage designation gives the government incentive to closely monitor tourism growth in Luang Prabang, with rules in place that ensure hotels have no more than 80 rooms (though most hover around 20) and that properties on the peninsula stay swimming pool-free. But change is in the air. Though the short runway limits arrivals to smaller planes, a luxury—or inconvenience, depending on who you ask—that’s set to change later this year with an airport extension that will accommodate most larger aircraft. Visitor arrivals jumped 7 percent in 2012, an 8 percent increase is predicted for 2013 and, with the opening of the China rail link slotted for next year, the numbers will only multiply. Which makes this the perfect time to take a long weekend on the sleepy banks of the Mekong. ✚

Lotus Villas rooms are bright and airy with a few rich wooden touches that give the place a more upmarket feel. 3 Kounxoa Rd.; 856-71/255050;; doubles from US$75. Xiengthong Palace the first foray into laos by Jetwing, the famed sri lankan hospitality brand, Xiengthong palace has a lot of character with local handicrafts and artwork peppered throughout the interior. Kounxoau Rd., Ban Phonehueng; 856-71/213200;; doubles from US$150. Hotel de la Paix this spacious resort, located just off the main drag of luang prabang, is set inland, and while you may miss the river view, it is a quiet and private retreat. Manomai St., Ban Mano; 856-71/260-777;; doubles from US$349.

Eat Utopia has comfy axe pillows set up on a riverfront deck where guests read, drink beer and enjoy the selection of lao and european foods.; lunch for two US$12. 3Nagas serves up a wide range of classic lao dishes, and a few creatively reimagined favorites. 3-nagas. com; dinner for two US$50. Le Tangor features an intriguing fusion menu with a rotating specials that include surprises like sushi with brown sticky rice. House No. 63/6, Ban Xiengmouane, Rue Sisavangvong; 856-7/1260761;; dinner for two US$20.

Lunch by the riverside.

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a dozen ways to turn your garden-variety picnic into a tuileries-worthy déjeuner sur l’herbe. By Mimi Lombardo 1 stainless-steel thermos by Marimekko. 2 sunglasses, Converse. 3 raffia hat with ribbon, lola hats. 4 Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by therese anne Fowler (st. Martin’s press). 5 Bienfait spF 50+ sunscreen, lancôme. 6 portable aM/FM radio, tivoli for Coach. 7 Cabernet sauvignon 2010, layer Cake Wines. 8 Bucheron goat cheese, per pound, and Creminelli truffle salami, at Murray’s Cheese. 9 picnic set with enameled tableware, flatware, canvas bag and blanket, hermès. 10 Men’s cotton button-down shirt, Banana republic. 11 Color-block baseball glove, Coach. 12 Women’s Italian-leather brogues, paul smith.


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Photographed by Levi Brown

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Splendid in the Grass


Mixing it up at Pali Bhavan.

on the map

India’s A-List Location

Mumbai’s ritzy suburb of pali hill is best known for the plush bungalows of Bollywood stars. Cobblestone roads lined with soaring trees and tall security gates give some privacy to the film industry’s a-listers. But the neighborhood, a mix of well-established hangouts and hip new restaurants and bars, provides visitors with more than just the odd star sighting. Karryn Miller reveals her favorites on the following pages. 44

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At 1 Pali Bhavan (10 Aardash Nagar, Dr. Ambedkar Rd., Pali Naka; 91-22/2651-9400; dinner for two Rs2,000), a newly opened fine-dining Indian restaurant and bar, the design is as rich as the cuisine. Art Nouveau chandeliers give a soft glow to the antique split-level space, with framed old photos blanketing the walls. The creative menu runs from light (pomelo salad with coconut shavings) to heavy (creamy spiced curries) and draws inspiration from the subcontinent’s varied cuisines. Pali Bhavan’s owners also run 2 Pali Village Café (602 Dr. Ambedkar Rd., Pali Naka; 91-22/2605-0401; lunch for two Rs1,600), an all-day café with a similar but slightly lighter aesthetic—exposed cement walls and faded vintage furniture. The fare here is Western with dishes like stuffed tortellini; salmon and cream cheese sandwiches; and an arugula, grapefruit grapefruit and candied pecan salad. pecan

3 Indigo Delicatessen (8 Fatima Villa, 29th Rd., Pali Naka; 91-22/2643-8100; meal for two Rs1,600) serves similar fare but with an American tilt. Think Philly cheesesteak subs and pulled pork sandwiches. The more casual menu also distinguishes the deli in Mumbai’s south. Since opening in late 2012 4 Pizza Metro Pizza (Jharna Apartments, GF, Dr. Ambedkar Rd.; 91-22/6599-3334; dinner for two Rs3,500) has quickly earned a rep as serving the best pizza in town. The first Indian outpost of this London restaurant keeps it authentic with four Italian chefs. Metro also boasts the longest pie in the country—one meter of cheesy goodness. 5 Busago (Shop 11, Gaspar Enclave, St John St., Pali Naka; 91-22/6127-8897; lunch for two Rs800), another newcomer, specializes in Burmese kaukswe (coconut curry) and fruit-heavy smoothies. Owner Nikhil Chib has kept it cozy and simple here, with precious few tables inside and out on a small, sunny terrace. sunny

Clockwise from left: Breakfast at Suzette; two wheels around Pali Hill; the pie experts at Pizza Metro Pizza.

A few doors down is French crêperie 6 Suzette (St. John St., Pali Naka;

91-22/2641-1431;; lunch for two Rs800), another small-on-space but big-on-taste dining option, with both savory—like creamy spinach, feta, basil and tomato buckwheat crêpes—and sweet choices, such as the Belgian chocolate crêpe with caramel and crushed peanuts. For a homegrown dessert option, there’s 7 Punjab Sweet House (Dhiraj Arcade 84, Dr. Ambedkar Rd., Pali Naka; 91-22/26429647; snacks for two Rs32), which sells popular jalebi, deep-fried sugary spirals, straight from pan to bag.

Clockwise from right: The courtyard at Olive; modern fare at Pali Village Café; inside Play Clan; daily specials at Suzette; a burger and wedge fries at Indigo Delicatessen.


Local institution 8 Toto’s garage (30 Lourdes Heaven, Pali Junction; 91-22/26005494; drinks for two Rs260) has occupied its spot at the bottom of Pali Hill for more than 20 years. As its name implies, there’s a strong automotive theme with a VW Beetle mounted above the bar, chain wire fencing indoors decorated with international license plates and staff donning bright orange overalls. The beer is cheap and the vibe is unpretentious. 9 Olive Bar & Kitchen (Pali Hill Tourist Hotel, 14 Union Park, Khar West; 91-22/4340-8228;; drinks for two Rs800) leans toward the other end of the spectrum, with an uncluttered interior, whitewashed walls and a Mediterranean menu to accompany pricey drinks.


Funky local brand 10 Play Clan (Shop 4, Libra Towers, Hill Rd; 91-22/2640-1675; sells modern goods inspired by everyday Indian life. The product range is vast, from quirky journals adorned with Hindu gods to cushions with artistic renditions of the country’s varied vehicles. 11 FabIndia (2 & 4 Navroze 66 Pali Hill Rd; 91-22/2646-5286; is less playful, stocking colorful saris and kurtas. This outlet of the nationwide chain focuses more on clothing but still sells bath and beauty products, teas and a small selection of homewares for your own Bollywood-style bungalow. ✚

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BarBara ng the Ferragamo fashion executive on quick tips for easy travel glamour: Cult jackets and a thick coat of mascara. By Mark lean As a regional director for Salvatore Ferragamo, Hong Kong-based Barbara Ng jets all over the region overseeing the company’s Asia-Pacific travel retail division. For Ng, travelwear is all about finding a balance between practicality and style. “I always bring the lightest possible hand bag, so usually my studded canvas Corso Como 10 tote comes along. For comfort, I wear leggings or cargo pants and T-shirts topped with a Blue Heroes leather jacket and a printed cashmere shawl from Ferragamo,” she says, adding that “flat shoes are always a must.” As is a fresh face, even on the go, so she makes sure to pack the Sulwhasoo range of skincare products, the Shiseido Majolica Majorca eyelash base and Lancôme’s Hypnose Doll Eyes mascara.

White Valentino ( shirts, like these, are feminine and practical. “you can throw anything over them…in this case, my Chloé ( knitted tank top.”

Packing tips: Ng values extra luggage space and always packs a large, foldable zip-up bag. Bring heels—besides adding several centimeters, they can also dress up your look. For winter, she prefers layering outfits, and finds the light and compact Moncler jackets “work on their own or under coats.” ✚

For a lover of accessories, multiple cuffs like this season’s offerings from Céline (celine. com) “give any outfit an extra edge.”

the Ferragamo ( charcoal booties are versatile. “they’re good, solid and practical heels.”


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these Helmut Lang ( pants “go with everything, are comfortable and can be dressed up or down.”

Photographed by Philipp Engelhorn


Steak with a view at New York grill.

george Faison hanging out with dry-aged beef.


Here’s the Beef

after Fukushima, many countries banned the import of Japanese beef. now that the ban has been lifted, Scott Haas explores the wonders of wagyu and the best spots in tokyo to partake in a steak.

Japanese beef is back. The dark days of the Fukushima beef ban are over and Japanese beef has been reappearing on menus across the U.S. and Europe over the past six months. This is not the first time Japanese beef’s been banned; in fact it was forbidden in Japan for nearly 1,000 years. Finally in 1868, the Emperor Meiji decreed that beef was to be permitted in the national diet. It took decades of animal husbandry before the beef in Japan achieved greatness. Now, the nation breeds some of the best beef in the world—deeply marbled, the super high amounts of fat-infused taste resonates on the palate. The Japanese grade beef on a scale of one to 12. Their best versions, according to George Faison, co-owner of DeBragga,


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one of the top importers of Japanese beef to the U.S., hover at 10, while the best prime from Australia and the U.S. is not usually more than a six. So what’s the secret behind these steaks so flavorful that one bite feels like a luxury? The Japanese word wagyu literally translates to “cow” but in terms of the food chain, it refers to several specific breeds of bovine known for characteristically high-quality meat. Kobe is the most famous region of production, and its purebred Tajima cows have become synonymous with the top echelon of Japanese beef, but until recently, only those who had been to Japan would have been privileged enough to taste it. Only last year did producers begin exporting their coveted

Prime cuts of meat at Peninsula-ginza.

Kobe in small quantities to Macau, Hong Kong and the U.S. Meanwhile, farmers throughout Japan are implementing similar methods—feeding high-fat diets to animals allowed to live longer before slaughter—as their Kobe counterparts, to raise cattle that has comparable flavor. “There is no guarantee that beef will be good if it is from a particular region,” said Yoshitsugu Hirai, a representative of the Maruyoshi company, which supplies Tokyo’s best restaurants. “You have to base it on how the cattle were raised.” Regardless of the region, a great deal of care goes into raising these pampered bovine. But all the massages, sake and beer many farmers give their cows are not what make Japanese beef a cut above all the others. “High-energy grain, like barley, slowly introduced in the final months before slaughter is a huge factor,” Faison explains. All that extra grain leads to sumptuously rich cuts of meat. This natural intensity is why the very best Japanese wagyu is often served simply and in small portions. Purists season the meat with nothing but salt and pepper, and then consume it medium-rare, rare or even raw. ➔

C l o C K W I s e F r o M l e F t: C o u r t e s y o F l a B o u C h e r I e d e B u p pa ; C o u r t e s y o F n e W yo r K grIll; Courtesy oF penInsul a; Courtesy oF deBr agga

Thin-sliced beef at La Boucherie de Buppa .


Outside Chateau Joel Robuchon.

A contender for the world’s best steak restaurant: Shima (3-5-2 Nihombashi, Chuo-ku; 81-3/3271-7889; steaks for two ¥40,000), an ultra-luxurious place hidden in the basement of an office building. Chef Oshima Manabu presides each night over six seats at the counter and 16 at tables. His claim to fame is the use of beef from farms near his home just outside of Kyoto. He personally selects the cattle, and to prove its lineage (vegetarians, if we haven’t lost you already, you had better skip to the next paragraph) comes to the table with documentation of the cow’s nose print, its birth date and the names of its father, mother and grandparents. The beef is either sirloin or tenderloin, and comes in any size portion you want, grilled with grated wasabi. Not as high in fat as much of Japanese beef, the chef’s steaks instead bring texture, thickness and a buttery flavor with a great crust. Tokyo’s most beautiful setting for steak is New York grill (52F, 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; 81-3/53233458;; steaks for two


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¥17,000) where, high above the city, you’ll be dazzled by the endless sweep of lights below and the aromas of sizzling steaks from corners of the country such as Kobe, Hokkaido, Omi and Yonezawa. While beef this good needs little adornment, some chefs, like Alain Verzeroli, director de cuisine at the French, three-star Michelin Joël Robuchon Restaurant (Yebisu Garden Place, 1-13-1, Mita, Meguro-ku; 81-3/54241347;; fixed price steak menu for two ¥24,600), can’t resist getting a little more creative with his dishes and using wagyu in classic Western dishes. “We use beef tenderloin and entrecôte steak,” Verzeroli tells me. “Only in Japan can you find such marbling, and for those who wish to ‘cut’ the feeling of the fat? They can enjoy it with freshly grated wasabi and a few drops of aged soy sauce.” The latest trend in Japan is to emphasize the food and to tone down the formality. The newest steak restaurant, for example, is the grill at The Peninsula (, which opened in late March. Executive chef

Mixed platters at Sukiyaka Asakusa Imahan.

Adam Mathis says that the restaurant will be serving, among other types of beef, Yonezawa rib eye and Japanese Holsten dry aged sirloin from Tochigi prefecture. “Our supplier is dry-aging the strip loin for 40 days—it’s really meltin-the-mouth-stuff,” Mathis says. But you need not have deep pockets to enjoy great Japanese beef. Sukiyaki Asakusa Imahan (2-17-4, Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku; 81-3/3842-8656; is a terrific restaurant, one of the city’s oldest, and here you can enjoy thin cuts of stir-fried beef cooked in soy and sugar and dipped into raw egg. It is extremely delicious and, at about ¥3,500 per person, for Tokyo it’s a bargain. Or try La Boucherie de Buppa (Liberta-Yutenji Building; 1-1-1 Yutenji, Meguro-Ku; 81-3/3793-9090; steaks for two from ¥7,000), a hybrid JapaneseFrench bistro where beef from Chiba is dry aged and grilled. A glass case of the beef, aged 50 days, is found at the back of the room. Served with seasonal vegetables, the steak here is both deeply marbled and memorable. ✚

C l o C K W I s e F r o M l e F t: C o u r t e s y o F J o Ё l r o B u C h o n r e s ta u r a n t; C o u r t e s y o F p e n I n s u l a ; C o u r t e s y o F s u K I ya K I a s a K u s a I M a h a n

A video wall at at Peninsula-ginza.

Radar Inside The Bookshop


tropiCal punCH It’s not often that we want to accessorize à la Carmen Miranda. But Colombian-born designer nancy gonzalez, known for her exotic-skin bags, has won us over with these toocute-to-resist woven crocodile wristlets. Cue the samba! Available by special order at Bergdorf Goodman (bergdorfgoodman. com).—courtney kenefick

Librarian Libations

In In a city that already boasts virtually virtually every sort of themed themed bar imaginable— think futuristic dystopian, think underground steampunk underground and even a wizard’s cave— and tipplers tipplers have found a new fascination: fascination: books. Literature Literature and libations have aa long history, after all, and long two two of Bangkok’s newest bars bars pay homage to the written written word. In trendy Thonglor, Thonglor, Print (159/10


Sukhumvit Rd. Soi 55; 66-85/782-1866; drinks for two Bt560) serves up elixirs like the Print Ginger Mush, a slushie of ginger beer, ginger syrup, vodka and lime. Text and oversized art wrap the quirky, cozy space, which dares drinkers to wax poetic on the walls of the loo with fat markers for the graffiti. Far more eccentric, The Bookshop (GF Ashton Condominium, Sukhumvit Soi

Whatsupgrade (n) The attempt to chat up the attendant at hotel reception or airline check-in in the hopes of scoring a free upgrade.

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38; 66-2/187-4949; drinks for two Bt580) is tucked away in a dark nook decorated with antique volumes suspended from the ceiling. The menu should please lovers of all genres, with cocktails ranging from the sugary Romance Novel, with jasmine syrup, to the more potent Plot Thickener, with peppercorn-infused vodka and fresh mango puree. —diana hubbell

F r o M l e F t: J o h n l aW t o n ; a n d e r s J I r a s ; C o u r t e s y o F t h e B o o K s h o p.


Point of View

I held off for this long so I’d always have at least one great place to look forward to, one fail-safe option in my pocket. And Cape Town seemed as close as any place to being a sure thing. No way would I not fall in love with it.

Cape of high hopes What happens when your first visit to a place goes wrong? peter Jon lindberg finds out on a rainy weekend in Cape town.


can’t tell you why it took me so long to get myself to Cape Town, a city with which I’ve been unfathomably obsessed since age 17, and I can’t say if things would’ve gone better had I not brought a quarter-century’s worth of expectations to our first encounter (I do tend to put a lot of stock in unseen places, and few held so much promise for me as this one). But I can tell you that my first encounter with Cape Town was quite frustrating. In fact, it sucked. To understand how badly it sucked, you have to understand how much I was told it would not suck—how, in fact,


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seeing Cape Town would completely blow my mind, so drop-dead beautiful is it, so cool and cosmopolitan, with the music and the art and the mountains and the beaches and the waterfront and the Winelands and omigod Peter you’re going to LOVE it. No human in the past 20 years has uttered a less-than-exuberant word about Cape Town, at least nobody I ever met. It is without a doubt the Radiohead of travel destinations. The city had been lodged at the top of my life list for more than half my life, and although I travel for a living, somehow I never landed there. I suppose

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ell. Last fall I finally made it to Cape Town, and things went south from the get-go. First of all, it rained nonstop: cold, harsh, bitter-making rain. The entire city was shrouded in mist—not the atmospheric mist of Tolkien or Japanese landscape paintings but the gloomy miasma of a sub-Antarctic squall. My hotel room ostensibly had a view of Table Mountain—I’d seen pictures on the website—yet for three days and nights I could barely see past the window, so thick was the fog and so heavy the downpours. I ventured out to get a closer look, sloshing up Kloof Street in leaky shoes and soaked socks, but wherever I went, a great black cloud loomed where the mountain should’ve been. The verdant hills, the sparkling sea, the gracious skyline were cloaked in murky sheets of rain. I might as well have flown to Worcester, Massachusetts. (At check-in, the receptionist had told me that Cape Town weather changes constantly, “like a teenager’s mood swings,” but this particular teenager managed to sneer at me for the duration of my visit.) On top of the weather, I had arrived in the middle of a holiday weekend, when pretty much everything on my to-do list—the District 6 Museum, the galleries of Woodstock, most of the good restaurants—was shuttered and dark.

Point of View With hardly anyone on the street, this so-called vibrant cosmopolis felt like a ghost town, all pulled-down grates and padlocked gates. Dismayed yet determined, I pushed on. I’d waited 25 years to see Cape Town—would I be thwarted by some measly @#$%ing clouds? I would not! I would trudge my way up to Bo Kaap, the Cape Malay quarter whose famous pastel façades appeared decidedly less vibrant than in photographs. I would squishsquosh around the waterfront, imagining how much better it might look with actual people on it. I would comb the side streets and back alleys, searching for anyplace that was open and dry: the odd hipster café (YoursTruly, on Long Street), vintage vinyl shop (Revolution Records, a trove of Afrobeat in the Observatory District) or reflexology spa (Happy Feet, a cheap spot downtown). I would even hike to the muddy summit of Signal Hill, high above the city, to gaze out upon… a damp wall of unredeeming gray. I would almost convince myself I was enjoying this. Was it really that bad? I was here, at last, in this long-dreamt-of city. For that fact alone I felt blessed. As for cruddy weather and rotten timing, I’d experienced plenty of both in other

No human in the past 20 years has uttered a less-thanexuberant word about Cape Town. It is the Radiohead of travel destinations 58

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places—enough to know it needn’t spoil a trip. Rainy days and Sundays never get me down in London, a city that knows no “off” days; Waterloo Bridge looks as regal in fog as it does in clear sunlight, arguably more so. Tokyo overflows with life at all hours, holidays included. New York’s sidewalks are never entirely empty; even in the middle of a hurricane . Yet there was something eerie about Cape Town on this rain-lashed holiday weekend: like a phantom city, it had virtually disappeared. Had I missed some tsunami or typhoon warning? News of an impending zombie attack? No, no, sir! the hotel concierge assured me. It’s just the time of year, plus the bank holiday, of course, and these nasty storms don’t help at all. But it truly is a lovely city, sir! You must return in summer, when it really comes to life. Oh yes, summer—that’s the time to come. This didn’t lift my mood. Even worse than rueing your own misfortune is realizing that it’s your fault—that if you’d just come in the proper season or on the right day of the week you’d be enjoying the city at its most resplendent. It wasn’t the place that failed you, in short; it was you who failed the place. The upshot is that I spent three straight days feeling bad for myself, feeling bad about Cape Town and feeling bad about feeling bad about Cape Town. I was a one-man feedback loop of woe, disappointed by my own disappointment, stranded on the Cape of Dashed Hopes. y Tuesday morning I’d had enough of traipsing around in soggy loafers, so I rented a car and beat a hasty retreat to the Winelands. A few days at an inn in Franschhoek raised my spirits. At the end of the week, the sun miraculously returned to a clear blue sky just as I pulled back into Cape Town, this time on a sparkling Friday morning—and the city looked absolutely stunning. It was as if I’d stepped out to the theater lobby for intermission, then returned to find a


whole new set onstage. I could see the mountain, I could see the ocean, I could see chic Capetonians in the parks and at sidewalk cafés; I could finally see what everyone has been raving about all this time. It suddenly hit me that I was flying home in two days, so I spent the next 43 hours rushing around in a state of elated panic. I walked among beds of Namaqualand daisies at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. On a springlike Saturday I joined the bearded bread-makers and hipster charcutiers at the Neighbourgoods Market, where salvaged doors topped with gingham serve as communal tables for a few hundred like-minded food lovers. I made my way back to Bo Kaap, whose rose and marigold façades now shimmered brightly in the noonday sun. I discovered lavender-scented De Waterkant Village, which hits all the marks of gentrification: Vespas, French bulldogs, a Kartell emporium. (Very “vibey,” as South Africans say.) I browsed the funky design shops of Loop Street, then caught a cab to the Twelve Apostles hotel, just 15 minutes over the mountain, in time for sundowners above a golden, shimmering Atlantic. Ohh, I said to myself. NOW I get it.


’m not sure what I could have done to make that first waterlogged weekend less frustrating. (Rescheduling my trip to January—South Africa’s high summer—might have helped.) But I do know this: even in perfect conditions, there was no way Cape Town could have lived up to my lifelong expectations. No place could. In some sense that unhappy first visit was sort of my fault: I’d no right to build the city up to that impossible standard—and no right to feel so crushed when it didn’t fully deliver. Yet this is precisely what we do as travelers: we maximize anticipation. We believe the hype, then double down on it. We romanticize places beyond all logic,

The city looked absolutely stunning. It was as if I’d stepped out to the theater lobby for intermission, then returned to find a whole new set onstage thinking we’ll be better, happier people there. We gaze upon too many sundrenched photographs of our fantasy destination, until we’re convinced it never gets cloudy and the summers there never end. Lofty expectations, however, are not really the issue—in fact, they’re kind of the point. (Without them, who’d consider a 16-hour flight?) The trick is adjusting your expectations after you’ve arrived. On a big-ticket trip, acknowledging disappointment is akin to admitting defeat. Even a hint of disenchantment can seem like a personal failing. Everyone said this would be amazing…so what’s wrong with me that I don’t feel it, too? Moving past disappointment takes genuine patience and skill; it may be the hardest task a traveler has. Ultimately, seeing Cape Town at its least flattering made for a truer, more intimate experience, albeit a maddening one at the time. On a gloomy Sunday when nearly everything was closed, I was forced to find other ways into the city, and wound up digging deeper than I might have otherwise. I had to earn the encounter, not merely show up for it. If and when I do return to Cape Town— and I certainly intend to —I actually hope it rains for a spell. A bit of drizzle would make me nostalgic. You never forget your first time. ✚

62 …

64 …

Trip Doctor

Q: Is there such a thing as an affordable flight to Europe this summer? If so, how can I find one?


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pa c k i n g

de a ls

A: Remember when flying to Europe was, at most, a US$1,000 commitment? These days, that’s often just the baseline cost of the plane ticket. According to Rick Seaney, cofounder and CEO of Farecompare, the average airfare to Europe includes about US$450 in surcharges (including fuel) and US$160 in taxes and fees. Tack on what the carrier itself charges, and it’s no wonder you can find yourself paying more than US$2,000 for an economyclass ticket. But you can still fly for less. You just need to know the tricks.

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s m a r t t r av e l e r


Pay attention to shoulder seasons. Summer flights,

hands down, are the most expensive. But if you look around the edges of summer—early June; the last week of August—you’ll find better fares. They’re even more affordable in early May and mid-October. Of course, winter fares are still lowest, and they stay that way from mid-November until mid- March (excluding the winter holidays).

Know when to book.

Kayak’s analytic team looked at customers’ recent searches and found international airfares were at their lowest 34 days before departure, according to spokesperson Maria Katime. Expedia’s analysts found the best prices between one and three months out. That said, hitting this sweet spot yields only minimal savings (roughly 4 percent, according to Kayak). But don’t wait until the last minute; airfares rise dramatically a week before departure.

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your travel dilemmas solved ➔

Fly on off days. Many

carriers tack a surcharge (between US$30 to US$50 each way) onto tickets departing on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Kayak’s analysts found that international flights departing on a Tuesday and returning on a Wednesday cost 21 percent less than the average weeklong trip. And always be sure there’s a Saturday stay in your itinerary: airlines still penalize people for staying less than a week.

Buy a package. Make up for a high airfare with a discounted room. Hotels often drop rates when they’re bundled with airfare. That said, it’s still best to do your homework when using a deal-aggregating site such as Expedia or Travelocity: compare the prices of a package against buying the air ticket and hotel room separately. Not all packages are created equal.

Choose your airport and airline carefully. Your

destination makes a big difference. Heathrow has some of the highest mandatory taxes in Europe, while Dublin and Shannon airports have among the lowest, for better deals. Look for sales. Fare drops

can happen anytime during the year. Stay on top of them by signing up for alerts with your preferred carrier and online services such as Airfarewatchdog and Farecompare. If you do book a ticket through an airline website sale, work backwards with your travel dates so they fit around the sale periods. By doing so, you’ll enjoy substantial savings off normal fares, sometimes up to half off the regular rate.

Forget about perks. Most

airlines offer several levels of economy class. By choosing the lowest, you can easily save several hundred dollars per ticket as long as you don’t mind missing out on frequent-flier points, the chance for rebooking or cancelling your flights, and any inkling of an upgrade. A Singapore Airlines flight to Barcelona from Singapore in June offers fares as low as S$1,904—27 percent less than a ticket with full perks. For its part, Cathay Pacific offers up to five different economy options, so read the fine print online. Use your points. It’s easier

to find award tickets on international flights than on domestic ones, says Gary Leff, founder of BookYourAward. One tip: many airline websites do not include searches for all frequent-flier partners, so try multiple sites (or call multiple phone agents).

What’s Your Problem? Hotel-Bill Shock


Heed the warnings. If the hotel informed you of resort fees and the like, you share some of the blame.


Play up your loyalty. point out that you are a member of the hotel’s program, or a repeat customer.

Accept responsibility for fees buried in fine print. they should be clearly presented to guests.

the Final say

Q: What’s the best place to change currency? A: Find out if your bank has an affiliate abroad; it will offer the best exchange rates and may waive ATM fees for withdrawals. Stay away from airport and hotel exchange counters, which typically have poor rates and high commission fees. Keep tabs on the current exchange rate, so you’ll know whether you are getting your money’s worth.

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by Mimi Lombardo

Q: I am hoping to play golf on an upcoming business trip, but hate packing my bulky golf shoes. Any tips?

Q: I’m going to Sri Lanka next month. I’ll need safari gear for a week at Yala National Park and clothes for several days in Colombo. What will work in each location? A: It’s best to limit your color palette to neutrals (a good idea on game drives, where bright reds and jarring prints can provoke wildlife). 2 Solumbra’s safari shirt has sun-protective qualities and wicks moisture away from your skin. For Colombo, where daytime highs hover around 31 degrees in May, try this lightweight top from 3 Lemlem. It’s made of handwoven (and tissue-thin) Ethiopian cotton, with a pattern derived from local textiles. For a night out, 4 A.L.C.’s peach-colored silk georgette dress is easy and chic. Lastly, for those fair-skinned among you,


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Made of yak Secret leather ventilation system

5 Coolibar’s wide-brimmed crushable canvas hat, rated UPF 50+, will keep you cool and shaded in both the city and the countryside.

Q: We’re spending two weeks in New Zealand in July. It is going to be cold so I want a new coat. I can only take one, so I’m looking for something versatile. Recommendations? A: I’m currently obsessing over 6 Jia Collection, Collection, convertible clothing a line of convertible clothing by Chinese designer Jia Li Chinese designer Jia Li that includes dresses, includes dresses, cardigans and more. Her cardigans and more. Her green cashmerehunter green cashmere- and-Italian-wool and-Italian-wool with leather jacket with leather toasty and trim is toasty and to ash reverses to ash Two for the gray. Two for the one! price of one!

3 Tribally inspired

4 Throw on and go

6 12 percent babysoft cashmere

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5 A breathable mesh crown

M o d e l p h o t o : C o u r t e s y o F a . l . C . s t r I p e d M I d d l e p h o t o : C o u r t e s y o F l e M l e M . a l l o t h e r p h o t o s : J o h n l aW t o n . s t y l I s t: J I l l e d Wa a rds/h a lle y resourCes

A: You could stash them with your clubs, but I’ve got a better idea: 1 Ecco just released a new water-resistant golf shoe that can be worn with jeans for a casual dinner as well as on the green (don’t just take our word for it—Fred Couples wore them throughout the 2012 PGA tour). If you’re headed to a rainy locale, also consider the three-layer nylon golf jacket by RLX golf (not pictured). It folds into a tiny, easy-to-stow bundle.


Deals Thailand

Bt4,900 per night

City CHina


What discover Mandarin oriental at Mandarin oriental, guangzhou (mandarinoriental. com). Details a stay in a deluxe room. Highlights hotel credit of rMB888 for room guests and rMB1,888 for suite guests, complimentary Wi-Fi and twohour shopping concierge service. plus one-way airport or railway station transfer for suite guests. Cost From rMB2,300, double, through april 13. Savings 50 percent.


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What step up to spectacular at W taipei ( Details a stay in a spectacular room. Highlights Complimentary breakfast at the Kitchen table restaurant for two, welcome cocktails for two and unlimited access to hotel facilities including the fitness center, swimming pool and sauna. Cost From nt$11,800, double, through december 30. Savings 20 percent.

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What Bangkok discovery at anantara Bangkok riveside resort & spa (bangkok-riverside. Details two nights in a deluxe premier room. Highlights a three-hour private tour of the Chao phraya and many of Bangkok’s historic canals, with stops at a local temple and a gallery, as well as lunch and refreshments, for two. Cost From Bt9,800 (Bt4,900 per night) double, through october 31. Savings 23 percent.


What Cotai discovery at the Venetian Macao (venetianmacao. com). Details two nights in a royale suite. Highlights half-day Macao discovery tour for two or dining and shopping credit of Mop300. Cost From hK$3,596 (hK$1,798 per night), double, through July 12. Savings 50 percent.

C o u r t e s y o F a n a n ta r a B a n g K o K r I V e r s I d e r e s o r t & s pa

Deluxe Premier room, Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa.

trip oF tHE montH

weekend viEtnam

What early Bird promotion at Best Western premier Indochine palace ( in hue. Details two nights in a deluxe room. Highlights guests who book three days in advance receive savings of 10 percent on dining, 15 percent on all spa services and 10 percent on laundry, as well as daily breakfast for two and a complimentary welcome drink. Cost From us$162 (us$81 per night), double, through april 30. Savings 40 percent.


What sweet suite deals at Four points by sheraton Bangkok ( Details two nights in a terrace suite. Highlights Complimentary daily full breakfast buffet for two people, complimentary in-room high-speed internet access for up to six devices and access to daily happy hour at BeerVault between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Cost From Bt13,998 (Bt6,999 per night), double, through december 31. Savings 44 percent.

What stay 4 pay 3 at sofitel saigon plaza ( Details Four nights in a superior room. Highlights the fourth night is complimentary. guests are offered guaranteed late check-out until 3 p.m. and either a complimentary seasonal fruit basket or a bouquet of fresh flowers. Cost From us$525 (us$131 per night), double, for bookings through May 13 on stays through May 20. Savings 25 percent.

the operator Backroads (, an international tour company specializing in active travel. “bali biking tour” highlights ➔ raft down the ayung river past groves of giant teak trees filled with tropical wildlife. ➔ Cycle through the hills of ubud and browse local markets. ➔ snorkel around the wreckage of the u.s.s. liberty, which now is home to more than 400 species of reef fish. ➔ Bike up and around the slopes of the gunung Batur volcano. ➔ learn to prepare the traditional fried noodle dish mie goring in a private Indonesian cooking class. ➔ Visit the pura taman ayun and ulun danu temples. cost the eight-day, seven-night itinerary starts at us$3,898 per person and includes all meals, lodging, local transportation, guides and activities.

long stay viEtnam



What stay 3 nights pay 2 nights at Kiridara luang prabang ( Details three nights in a superior Mountain View room. Highlights Complimentary daily breakfast, complimentary shuttle to the center of luang prabang, daily bicycle usage, 20 percent spa discount and complimentary Wi-Fi. Cost From us$290 (us$97 per night), double, from May 1 through october 31. Savings 20 percent.


us$3,898 per person


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What Weekend escape with donna toon at paresa phuket ( Details two nights in an aqua pool suite. Highlights Choice of: a guided private tour of the local night markets for two; a personalized three-course destination dinner for two set by the resort’s infinity pool; or a private cooking class with paresa’s master chefs for two. Complimentary daily breakfast for two at diavolo restaurant and roundtrip airport transfers also included. Cost Bt38,000, double (Bt19,000 per night), through april 30. Savings 20 percent.


What seminyak escape at Centra taum seminyak Bali (centarahotelsandresorts. com). Details two nights in a Centra studio. Highlights daily breakfast and roundtrip airport transfers. Cost From us$115, double, through June 30. Savings up to 26 percent.

Raft down the Ayung river.

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Smart Traveler

Choose your own adventure adventure is in the eye of the beholder. so the question is: What are you looking for?

ART HERE ST You are planning your next trip and you want to do something a little different so you google:

For your money, there’s nothing like the feeling of…

“undiscovered holiday spots”

“Most relaxing destinations” an n afternoon hike… seeing animals in their natural habitat

24-hour-room service so you never have to leave

a butler to tend to your daily needs and personal concierge to help you plan the rest of your itinerary


you ou are looking for a room that comes with:

a thatch roof and local family.

While you camp out in tents in the thick of the jungle.

Followed by a great night’s sleep at a five star hotel

From the lounge chair to the poolside bar

EasY doEs it

Frill sEEkEr

loCal living

You can break the mold without breaking a sweat.

Can’t adventure come with with a turn-down service?

You travel for a view into life in other parts of the world.

Uma, by COMO, Ubud;

Maldives Dhoni Cruise;

Bhutan: Travel to the Himalayan Kingdom;

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Illustration by Wasinee Chantakorn

Merritt Gurley and Diana Hubbell.

a perfect day on the beach includes...

the sand between your toes

an umbrella drink and sun tanning

snorkeling norkeling to the other side of the island where you…

to the summit of a mountain where you… have a view of the island you plan to head to tomorrow

strap on your snowboard and conquer untouched powder

Free dive to check out a sunken ship

stay tay with a local hill tribe

Cruising on the water…

on a ship

In a canoe

to enjoy an afternoon...

In class five rapids reading your book and taking in the scenery

Checking out secret beaches

to see parts of the river that would be otherwise inaccessible

adrEnalinE junkiE

trail BlaZEr

island HoppEr

Friends gasp when you describe your last vacation. describe

Roughing Roughing it is fine as long as you you veer off the beaten path.

You’ll sail on in search of warm sand and clear seas.

Everest Skydive;

Isaan Steel Horses;

Cruise at Phu Quoc; t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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April 2013

in this issue


70 80 88 98 104

new Zealand macau dubai mount merapi Hamburg

Mount Merapi, page 98. t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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Š O l iv e r Ei t e l / g e t t y im a g e s . c o m . O p p o s i t e : i a n l l o y d n e u b a u e r

Another day dawns on the South Island. Opposite: Riding below the Southern Alps.

Two for the Road

new Zealand packs so much terrain and varying climate into such a small space that the country is perfect for a road trip. tag along—by motorhome and motorcycle—for a whirlwind south Island adventure, where the journey is also the destination.

Kaikoura peninsula, on the northeast coast.

Motorhome Sweet Home by jeninne lee-st. john

K eI r n o’C o n n o r

The pre-dawn orientation refused to make promises, but once we were at sea, it was clear we would indeed be meeting some dusky dolphins. There were several pods out there off the coast of Kaikoura, a former whaling town two-and-a-half hours north of Christchurch. Four times that morning, the captain motored gently in the direction of a pod, and one by one our small group fell off the bow of the boat, swam towards them… and sang. The crew, who, in hindsight I think, encourage this behavior for their own entertainment, emphasized that music would attract dolphins. So, I made a squealing fool of myself and I do not care. Because I danced with dozens of wild dolphins in the open ocean. I also froze my fingertips taking photos of them in that frigid water, but that didn’t matter either because I had my own hot shower parked and waiting for me once we docked. My husband, Keirn, and I were on the last leg of a 10-day idyll in a motorhome. During the trip, we’d lost a wing mirror to tree (it got too close to us) as well as a little composure debating whose turn it was to empty the gray water (always his). But on

this day, I had anticipatory nostalgia for that mobile metal box and its bitty built-in shower stall, not to mention stove, oven, grill, fridge, TV and flush toilet. In New Zealand, renting a motorhome is the way to see the land both as a local—the standard Kiwi vacation involves piling the family into a campervan and setting up in a scenic park—and in surprisingly high style. Most rental companies have “one-bedroom” RVs with full kitchens and bathrooms that sleep four or six, but made a comfortable little apartment on wheels for this couple. We had first flown into Queenstown, and immediately learned that on the South Island, “summer nights” mean fleece jackets and soft, possum-hair shawls—both of which we bought in the compact, snowglobe-cute downtown surrounded by hills and hugging a glassy lake. The adventure (and adventure-light) options here are overwhelming, from hang-gliding to highspeed river jet-boating to swinging across a canyon. I ambitiously had booked a river-surfing excursion for our first morning—basically whitewater boogie-boarding—but a combination of jetlag and, er, crippling fear made us skip it.

Clockwise from left: Fresh crayfish, green-lipped mussels and fritters from Kaikoura Seafood BBQ; bungy jumping off Kawarau Bridge; Hanz Herzog’s vineyard; free-camping on a beach near Kaikoura.

Keirn was not, however, too scared to jump off a bridge. Once our Tui Trail Blazer was delivered from Christchurch by a no-nonsense rep of the camper company, and we stocked it with a week’s worth of food, wine and microbrews, we headed to the A.J. Hackett center at Kawarau Bridge, the original home of bungy. “I spent the first part of my free fall kind of bitter at the guy who pushed me off the platform,” Keirn said, “and the end wondering how I was going to get into that boat in the river below.” Still, those few moments of freefall at the top of each bungy bounce in the middle were enough to make him want to jump again. But there were other terrains to conquer. The first being the terrain itself. Driving a house on wheels with a manual transmission on the wrong (for Yanks) side of roads that were narrow, steep, winding and cliff side, we were an accident or three waiting to happen. That first day was all lush landscape that, thanks to New Zealand’s crazy-clear air, went on and on and on. At the height of summer, each individual mountain peak stood out so sharply against the sky, each tree against its mountain, each wildflower against its field that it felt like we were driving through a digitally altered 4-D movie, or the world’s most Kodachrome diorama. Every 10 minutes the color of the sky or the rolling of the hills or the freshwater falls forced us to stop for photographs. We pulled over in a campground along Lake Hawea for a picture-perfect picnic lunch, the afternoon sun glittering on the water, little kids running between the trailers, living up their summer vacation. I thought then that I understood the word content.


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But all the day’s detours combined with the arduous trek through the mountainous Westland National Park made the supposedly four-hour drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef triple that and we pulled in at one in the morning. (We had been warned, and it is true: if you estimate your South Island drive only by the distance the crow flies, you will get a third of the way to half your destinations.) Despite the fact that our queen-size bed was already made up with layers of down in the nook overhanging the cab, we had nowhere to sleep; the parking lots in town all shooed us away with yellow signs of trailers with slashes through them. So we doubled-back to the forest’s edge, pulled over into the first grassy nook, drew the shades and climbed into our cubby. Most subsequent nights we rented a site in a campervan park, where you can plug into their utilities. Our tricked-out truck was a source of amusement for the locals (“There’s only two of you in there?”) but managed to be utterly romantic in both a teamwork-or-fail and glorified-1950’s-gender-roles sorts of ways. Together we tackled hooking up the power, dealing with a broken sink pipe, battening the hatches before each day’s rumbling journey. Keirn drove all day and then climbed back into the cabin and grabbed a beer while I set about making dinner. Watching my husband relax outside and take in the sunset—all blinding light and lavender skies—each evening tugged at my mobile-housewife’s heart. Sleeping at the foot of a mountain the first night was a fitting prelude to flying over it the next morning. We

K e I r n o ’ C o n n o r (6) ; d o l p h I n : © d a r r y l t o r C K l e r / g e t t y I M a g e s . C o M

Clockwise from left: Punakaiki Pancake Rocks; a flying dusky off Kaikoura’s coast; on Franz Josef glacier, a helicopter lands.

helicoptered over the Southern Alps and landed atop Franz Josef Glacier, where the fast (by glacier standards), frozen flows shimmered the literal meaning of “ice blue,” their cascading crinkles positively otherworldly. Another sci-fi spot: the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, limestone stacks that have been eroded by wind and water into thin, round-edged layers, and that stand arrayed in a sort of Martian hedgemaze. It seemed every hour brought a new landscape and, when we got to the wildly inappropriately named Takaka Hill—from the top of which we thought we could make out the North Island across Cook Strait—the scenery started changing by the kilometer. After crossing that mountain via a hairpin-turn-filled, barely lane-and-a-half-wide road twice in two days, we were ready for a drink. Luckily, the next stop on the itinerary was wine country, Marlborough, the Eden for new world Sauvignon Blanc lovers. From the elevated patio of the Tuscan-inspired Highfield Estate, where we lunched, the endless rows of grapes in all the surrounding vineyards beckoned. It was on to the grown-up playground of Cloudy Bay, a pop-in at Allan Scott, and a surprisingly long visit at Hunter’s, whose Riesling made me rethink my standard aversion and whose Pinot Noir explained why Marlborough is known by those in the know for that varietal as well. We had booked the wine-paired tasting menu at Hans Herzog, but before we could dive into their insanely delicate lamb and their regionally rare Montepulciano, a nap was in order and the Herzog parking lot was convenient. This

was the benefit of driving our bedroom around with us. (The drawback: Trying to be friendly, Keirn offered a ride home to the couple at an adjoining table, after they told us they’d walked 20 minutes to dinner from their hotel. They, knowing we were driving an RV, looked at us like we were serial killers.) A gorgeous road through undulating yellow hills and along the jagged whitecap-dotted northeast coast brought us to Kaikoura. We had saved the best for last, at least if you love sealife and seafood. At Ohau Point, we wandered among the subdued wild seal colony lounging on the rocks, and then hit Kaikoura Seafood BBQ, a beachside food truck, to gorge on crayfish grilled in garlic butter, crayfish fritters and mussels. The next day was when we found ourselves living a marine mammal double-feature, starting with the best thing I’ve ever done: that seadancing with wild dusky dolphins. Preservation-minded Encounter Kaikoura brings small, three-hour snorkeling tours out every day and, yes, everyone sings. During our four dives, at least a handful, maybe a dozen, dolphins came to play with me. My trick? I swam a ways from the group, and hummed a high-pitched, tone-deaf hum. Out of the hazy turquoise, a rounded nose appeared right before my face, followed by a round black eye and then, whoosh, it was past me and I was whipping my head around to keep it in my sights. But the dolphin wasn’t leaving; it was circling me, eyeing me and—though I know their faces are just built like that—maybe even smiling at me? Soon, several others came over, alone and in pairs, from every direction. I kicked a furious doggy paddle to spin around and around with them and when I took a break, one swam right up through my legs. They were so close they might have been daring me to touch them, but it wasn’t antagonistic; rather, they seemed playful and protective and curious, asking me to dance, and what I was doing out there anyway. I imagined if I had the equipment and the stamina, they wouldn’t have minded my joining their pod and swimming out to sea with them, where they’d teach me dolphin language, correcting the tone of my squeals. Looking those wild duskies straight in the face, I felt like an oceanic Jane Goodall, like I had unlocked a door between our species. It was exhilarating. I wanted to swirl and dive with them in that chilly water forever. Part two of the double-feature: a private aerial whale watch in a high-wing Cessna from which we not only saw two giant sperm whales breach and spray, but also got a much better picture of the topography. The ocean changes from cerulean to black-blue at the distinctive line of the Hikurangi Trench, where the sea floor plunges to 3,000 meters, a depth the same height as the Southern Alps—which I could’ve sworn I also saw, looming high on the other side of the island, their snowcaps the polar opposite of our warm summer day, the memory of sleeping at their base the first night a perfect bookend to the evening before, our last in the RV, when we free-camped on a patch of beach tucked away behind brush at the end of a dirt road north of Kaikoura. Our travel timing had vastly improved and we pulled in just in time for lavender skies and microbrews. t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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Cutting through a pocket of temperate rain forests in the Caitlins, on New Zealand’s southern tip.


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The Two-Wheeled Warrior story and photographs by ian lloyd neubauer

The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as I slide sideways into the first of a series of hairpin turns hugging the bank of the Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown. Stretching skywards unabated are New Zealand’s colossal Southern Alps, their peaks dusted with snow even at the height of summer. Punctuated by rays of light and ever-fleeting rainbows, it’s a picture of beauty so moving that I—god forbid—slow down, lift my visor and coast along the road’s shoulder as a cool summer breeze bellows through my helmet. There’s a sense of freedom I will relish months after my 11-day self-guided tour of the South Island comes to an end, one you can’t experience in a car. “Every so often when you’re riding, you get a moment where everything’s perfect and you actually feel like you’re flying,” explains Mike Rose, founder of Paradise Motorcycle Tour NZ, which leases top-of-the line bikes. “It happens more in New Zealand than any other place in the world.” And what moments they are. The rain dancing upon the wide open plains in a slowmoving, little-visited part of the island known as Southland doesn’t come close to dampening my enthusiasm. How could it? I’m on a near-new BMW F800GS with a pre-programmed GPS and an itinerary including four- and five-star accommodation. And did I mention that cool summer wind?

My destination this evening is Invercargill, the southernmost city of New Zealand and hometown of the late and great Burt Munro—played by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the 2005 film The World’s Fastest Indian. Munro’s famous Indian motorcycle now rests along with 40 other vintage bikes at E. Hayes & Son, a hardware store on Invercargill’s main drag. It’s the holy grail of motorcycling, not to be missed. Established by Scottish sealers in the early 1800’s, Invercargill is full of surprises, like the Bill Richardson Truck Museum (a giant private collection of restored cars and jalopies), five world-class golf courses and rows of Victorian mansions with manicured gardens cut straight out of The Tudors. “There’s a lot of money here but you’d never know it,” says Ray Winter, owner of the Safari Lodge, an African-themed five-star B&B. “You’ll see millionaire farmers shopping in gumboots who still work the land even though they don’t have to. People are pretty down to earth here.” From Invercargill I veer east toward the Catlins, an off-thebeaten-track wilderness area recently rediscovered by the t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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Clockwise from left: The Blue Pools of Haarst Pass; a penguin crossing at Oamaru; a rendezvous with other riders at the Neck, a land bridge between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawae; Lanarch, New Zealand’s only castle.

throngs of self-drive holidaymakers. My route takes me along a rugged windswept coastline interspersed by lonely lighthouses, wetlands and estuaries swarming with birdlife, temperate rainforests and Purakauni Falls, a fairytale waterfall cascading 20 meters over three distinct tiers. I follow Highway No. 1 north along the east coast to Dunedin. Once New Zealand’s largest city, Dunedin is now a university and tourist town that, like Invercargill, has a distinctively Scottish veneer. It’s home to the South Island’s famous Speight’s Brewery, where tours run every two hours and, in the warmer months, are well capped off with an apricot Speight’s Summer Haze. Here, you’ll also find Baldwin Street, one of the world’s steepest roads, climbing 47 meters from the valley floor at a gradient of 35 percent. As I ride up it, I get that feeling of being on a roller coaster, when your stomach is in your mouth. There are hundreds of enchanting old hotels in New Zealand, but Larnach Castle manages to stand out. Twenty kilometers from Dunedin at the end of a ceaselessly twisting road that ascends to the Otago Peninsula’s zenith, it was built in 1871 by William Larnach, a banker from Australia. Following a series of scandals and tragedies that culminated in Larnach’s suicide, the castle fell into disrepair until it was bought on a whim by the Barker Family of Auckland during a Volkswagen Kombi Van trip through the South Island 40 years ago. “It took a long time to open all the doors when we bought it,” recalls matriarch Margaret Barker. “There were jars full of keys—most of which didn’t open anything. And the place leaked like a sieve. We had water everywhere, except in the kitchen and bathroom where we needed it.” Today Larnach is a


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world-class tourist outfit, hotel and candlelit restaurant where waiters recount the legends behind New Zealand’s only castle. Early the next morning I continue north, the air tainted with the stench of tar as a light drizzle coats the road. After the riotous cambers and super-tight turns of the Otago Peninsula, the smooth highway and fast fourth-gear turns offer welcome relief; I fly along the coast as fast as my bike will carry me. When the road temporarily tightens and diverts into a set of hills, I arch into the first switchback with a peg-threatening lean only successive days of fast riding can breed. I never want it to stop. Lunch is at Oamaru. Often overlooked, between Dunedin to the south and Christchurch to the north, Oamaru’s historic portside district could double as a set for a Charlie Chaplin movie: a cobblestoned, time-warped place where stores sell boiled sweets, possum slippers and hand-bound books, and horse-drawn carriages punt for dollars from visitors. Oamaru is also famous for its beachside amphitheater where a colony of the world’s smallest penguins comes ashore every evening at 9, with commentary on their nesting habits provided by experts. According to the pinboard up in my hotel lobby, the tally of blue fairy penguins that had beached the night before was 37. I’d love to hang around for the penguin parade, but by the time they surface I’ll be more than 200 kilometers northwest at Lake Tekapo in the South Island’s geographic heart. From there I’ll take the Lindis Pass, onto the Glacier Highway a.k.a. The Ice Run, before cruising the West Coast up to Westport and cutting back across Arthurs Pass to the finish line at Christchurch. But for now I jump on my bike, twist the accelerator and pitch forward giddy with speed and the inimitable freedom of riding solo along this single, divine road. ✚

Clockwise from left: Views of Otago Harbour from Larnach Castle’s backyard; a second-hand bookstore in Oamaru’s portside district; a fern near Purakauni Falls. Bottom: Ready to dive in with the dolphins.


t l guide getting Around Tui Campers 518 Wairakei Rd., Burnside, Christchurch; 64-3/ 359-7410;; Trail Blazer 10-day rental from NZ$970, plus NZ$300 delivery to Queenstown, insurance extra. Paradise Motorcycle Tours NZ garages in Christchurch and Queenstown. 2 Glenvar Close, Torbay, Auckland; 64-9/4739404; paradisemotorcycletours.; 11-day tours of the South Island from NZ$3,344 per person for a couple sharing a 800cc motorbike with deluxe B&B accommodation, to NZ$8,503 per person on a 1200cc motorbike staying at top-flight hotels. Apex Car Rentals several locations throughout the south Island. Queenstown International Airport, Frankton; 64-3/442-8040;; 10-day roundtrip rentals from about NZ$460, insurance and oneway rentals extra.

staY The Rees Hotel Queenstown 377 Frankton Rd., Queenstown; 64-3/450-1100;; rooms from NZ$195; True South lake-view dining room, six-course degustation menu NZ$110. Safari Lodge Luxury Heritage Accommodation 51 Herbert St,. Invercargill; 64-3/214-6328;; doubles including breakfast, from NZ$280. Larnach Castle 145 Camp Rd., Otago Peninsula; 64-3/4761616;; doubles, including breakfast, from NZ$260; three-course narrated dinner for NZ$60. Eat+drink The Landing speight’s brewpub with great eggs Benedict. Corner of State Highway 6 and Cowan St., Franz Josef Village; 64-3/ 752-0229; lunch for two NZ$36. Highfield Estate 27 Brookby Rd., RD2; Blenheim; 64-3/5729244;; set menu for two NZ$60. Cloudy Bay Jacksons Rd. near Matthews Ln., Blenheim; 64-3/

520-9140;; wine tasting for two NZ$10. Allan Scott Family Winemakers Jacksons Rd., between Rapaura and Old Renwick Roads, Blenheim; 643/572-9054; www.allanscott. com; lunch for two NZ$40. Hunter’s Wines 603 Rapaura Rd., Blenheim; 64-3/572-8489;; dinner for two NZ$70. Hanz Herzog Winery & Restaurant 81 Jeffries Rd., Blenheim; 64-3/572-8770;; five-course tasting menu for two NZ$250. Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Jimmy Armers Beach, Kaikoura; grilled crayfish NZ$25.

Encounter Kaikoura 96 Esplanade, Kaikoura; 64-3/3196777;; Dolphin Encounter adult swimming NZ$170. Wings Over Whales Kaikoura Airfield; 64-3/319-6580; whales.; whale-watching flights NZ$165 per adult. See ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ E Hayes & Son, 168 Dee St., Invercargill; 64-3/218-2059; Blue Penguin Colony Waterfront Rd., Oamaru; 643/433-1195;; guided tours from NZ$18 per person.

do AJ Hackett Bungy Kawarau Bridge Rapid #1693, State Highway 6, Gibbston Valley; 64-3/442-4007;; 40-meter adult jump NZ$180. Alpine Adventures Alpine Adventure Centre, Main Rd., Franz Josef Village; 64-3/752-0793;; glacier flights from NZ$195 per adult. t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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Five hundred years ago, the first Portuguese traders landed in China. Jeff Chu searches out their lingering legacy in Macau and meets the newest wave of Lusophone settlers.


photographed by david har tung

St. Francis Xavier Church on Coloane. Opposite: View from Coloane’s shoreline. t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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ang Xianzu would have made a fine publicist for Macau. Few have gushed about it as the famed Ming dynasty playwright and poet did. He marveled at how its European cosmopolitanism contrasted with China’s largely agrarian ways. He praised its residents’ fine wardrobes. He waxed purple about their jewels—“bright stars and shiny pearls reflecting off the seawater.” It’s a gigantic understatement to say that much has changed since Tang visited in the late 1500’s, not only in Macau but also with Portugal and China and their respective places in the world order. The glory he chronicled? Faded. Where Tang saw glorious gems, I see cheap rhinestones. Where once he sniffed spicy hints of Goa and Malacca—pepper, cinnamon, cardamom— today there are pungent clouds of pollution, fresh from mainland China. But let me stress: I say this in love. Macau has always had a special place in my heart. According to family lore, one of my great-great-greatgrandmothers was Portuguese. My grandparents married there in 1934. And that’s where they took my father on his first-ever vacation, when he was 10. I first visited in the mid-1980’s and instantly fell for this little slice of European-accented Asia (or should that be Asian-accented Europe?). The Cotai Strip, the slice of land on which new casinos have erupted like a chrome-and-neon rash, had yet to be raised like an anti-Atlantis from the sea, and the Hotel Lisboa, then the fanciest place in town, was a 1960’s grande dame who had let herself go. I was captivated by the hints of the distant past, from the moldering colonial-era edifices to the food, which seemed to come out of a kitchen equidistant from Portugal, China, Mozambique and India. Macau, the first European outpost in East Asia, was also the last. Since China reclaimed sovereignty in 1999, Beijing has marked its turf in ways big and small. The territory still feels idiosyncratically Continental, with twists and turns, hill-climbing stairwells and lovely little plazas. But the architectural gems of yesteryear are increasingly outnumbered by utilitarian additions to the cityscape that are more typical of the modern


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mainland, giving Macau the feel of a downmarket Hong Kong. It’s more packed with people from the mainland too; tens of millions crowd Macau’s smoke-wreathed baccarat and blackjack tables each year—a constant reminder that the Chinese appetite for risk fuels the economy. The street signs are still octets of blue-and-white tile, but where they once featured Chinese and Portuguese side-by-side, the Chinese characters now sit imperiously on top. The first Portuguese traders landed on China’s coast 500 years ago this spring, and Macau would have been nothing without them and their successors. Today, fewer than 2 percent of Macau’s 568,700 people claim Portuguese heritage. The temples are fuller than the churches. You’ll more often hear “nei ho” than “bom dia!” Yet their positive influence far outweighs their raw numbers. Look closely as you wander the winding streets that feel more Porto than Pearl River Delta, and you’ll find remnants of the culture that so enraptured Tang— and that still gives Macau its own singular vibe.


Seafood stew at AntÓnio restaurant. Clockwise from left: Rui CaÇão; entrance to the Pousada de Sao Tiago Hotel; at the ‘Old Ladies House,’ Albergue 1601 restaurant; Clube Militar de Macau; Sir Robert Ho Tung; St. Paul’s. Center: Tap Seac Square.

rom its earliest days, the Macanese marketplace was flooded by traders, buying and selling not only goods but also ideas—and Jesus. The early settlers built grand churches—the most majestic being St. Paul’s. Today, it’s the first stop for most tourists, a postcard-perfect church without pews. All that’s left of this stone structure, mostly destroyed in an 1835 fire, is the façade. It stands like a graying tombstone, and if I were to write an epitaph on it, it might read R.I.P. Authenticity. A Starbucks sits unceremoniously at the foot of the stone steps that rise up to St. Paul’s. The blackand-white paving stones of nearby Senado Square, arranged in traditional swirls and waves, may have been imported from Portugal, but there’s something that feels denatured about the place. It’s as if the whole area could be the centerpiece of a Macau pavilion at EPCOT Center.

But stroll a few minutes away in almost any direction and you’ll find plenty of historic authenticity. Sadly, most of it is falling apart and, according to architect Rui Cação, endangered by people who “just want to knock it all down. Clients here, they’re not going to buy an old house and restore.” During our long walk, he pointed out architectural syncretism everywhere: Portuguese embellishments here, Chinese roof tiles there. We ducked into an alleyway with a wood-beamed ceiling, which led to an open-air space called the Pátio da Eterna Felicidade (“the courtyard of eternal happiness”). “Look at the colors! Look at the designs!” he said as we watched workers deconstruct an ancient building. “I’m afraid they will just let all the old parts of Macau die.” “Old” is relative, of course. We paused, for instance, at the corner of Avenida Almeida Ribeiro and Rua das Lorchas. There, the abandoned 1940, Art Deco, nine-story Hotel Grande stands, colonnaded and curvaceous, begging to be restored. Practically spitting as we walked past newer, nondescript apartment blocks, Cação said he wanted to show me one of his favorite corners of old Macau. It was near a garden honoring Luís de Camões, Portugal’s greatest poet, who lived here in the 1560’s. We turned onto a small street called Beco da Malva, and Cação stopped. Where a house once stood, there was now just a hole, ripe for redevelopment. “Jesus, it was here last month,” he said, shaking his head. “It was just here last month.”


n centuries past, few people wanted to spend much time in the São Lázaro Quarter—it was home to Macau’s leper colony. Today, the quiet neighborhood boasts some of Macau’s best-preserved architecture, from multiple eras. Particularly stunning is the 19th-century Albergue Santa Casa da Misericórdia (SCM)—nicknamed, in Cantonese, Po Jai Uk (“Old Ladies’ House”) because it was once a shelter for homeless women. The elegant yellow buildings, arrayed around a tiled courtyard shaded by two ancient camphor trees, now house galleries, studios and shops. One of the shops, the Mercearia Portuguesa, is owned by filmmaker Ivo Ferreira and his actress wife Margarida Vila-Nova, who explained to me that many Portuguese are coming to Macau today full of hope and possibility. “Portugal is in a big crisis,” she said. According to The Economist, the country is forecast to have the world’s second-fastestshrinking economy in 2013, after Greece. Macau’s appeal is that it will have the world’s second-fastestgrowing economy, behind only Mongolia. Ferreira spent five years in Macau before the handover. “It became a part of me, of my imaginarium,” he said. Rich with history as well as mystery, the enclave has become his muse, featuring in his documentaries. And when Vila-Nova sought a break from acting—“we wanted a second life,” she says—they decamped for Macau from Lisbon in 2011. If they were at all homesick, their shop has helped dull it. While many Macau supermarkets have robust selections of Portuguese goods—olive oil, canned sardines, lots of wine—Vila-Nova specializes in venerable Portuguese brands, including Claus Porto soaps and Bordallo Pinheiro porcelain. Her main product, really, is nostalgia. She points to a tester of Lavanda cologne—“my grandfather used this”—and then flits to a jar of egg candies. “We ate these growing up in Portugal. These are products that have a history.” The design-and-fashion studio next door, Lines Lab, run by Clara Brito and Manuel Correia da Silva,

Senado Square. Clockwise from left: Oldschool trishaw; Macau Tower, guanyin Statue and the One Central Building; Café Nam Peng’s breakfast sandwich; Ivo Ferreira and Margarida Vila-Nova in Mercearia Portuguesa.

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is more forward-looking. Correia da Silva spent his teen years in Macau—his father was a civil servant— and about a decade ago returned with Brito in tow. Here, they found abundant inspiration for their work, which Correia da Silva describes as “for sure influenced by Macau and by Asia.” A bright orange handbag borrows laser-cut details from the façades of local buildings, and an elastic and satiny necklace called Mien—after the Cantonese for “noodles”— comes cleverly packaged around chopsticks. The new immigrants have brought fresh perspectives (“The Portuguese were here for 500 years, and they never thought, ‘This might end! We should learn the language!’” Correia da Silva says with a laugh), and have helped prolong Portugal’s influence on Macau, bolstering what fado guitarist Paulo Valentim sees as an unusual pairing. “Portugal is this tiny country, and China is—well, it’s not really a country so much as a civilization,” he said as we sat in a restaurant called O Manuel, sipping a juicy red from the Duoro. “Macau is the child of this romance. Two different peoples come and live in such a small place harmoniously.” Well, mostly. From its earliest days, the SinoPortuguese relationship was pockmarked by mistrust. While the spoils of commerce can heal many wounds, cross-cultural tension still pops up. During our dinner, our Chinese waitress refused to acknowledge Valentim. Though he did most of the ordering, she spoke only to me, in Cantonese. Every time he addressed her, in any language, she pursed her lips. Once, she rolled her eyes and just stared at me, as if waiting for me to translate. So I laughed a little when Valentim said, “Macau is a place where the Portuguese feel welcome.” Mostly, though, he’s right. The Macau Portuguese I met all noted a rise since 1999 in interest among Chinese—especially young people— in all things Portuguese. Valentim says 70 percent of his fado students are Chinese. And the Chinese government has lately heightened its support of Portuguese culture and language. Perhaps this is born of confidence; they’re now the rulers, not the ruled. But in keeping with Macau’s heritage, it’s partly about commerce: deeper knowledge of Lusophone ways helps when two other exPortuguese colonies, Angola and Mozambique, are prime sources of crude oil, timber and minerals.


he longer I spent in pursuit of the remnants of Portuguese culture, the more I felt I might be missing something. Perhaps it was naïve to imagine that Portuguese culture could survive in any pure form in China. I realized that it has morphed into something more local, something called Macanese.


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Marcos Constantino in an old shipyard on Coloane Island. From right: Mandarin House; Rua da Felcidade, a gentrifying street of former brothels.

On my last day in town, I met up with an engineer named Marcos Constantino. As we drove past the Cotai Strip’s hulking hotel-casinos to the relatively unspoiled island of Coloane, he told me about his family. His surname and Portuguese passport declare his heritage, and his family is Catholic. Yet you’d never know it from appearances; Constantino looks Chinese. When I asked about his allegiances, he didn’t hesitate: “I am very much Macanese,” he said. “It’s not the things in my body. It’s my culture. I don’t belong to China, and I don’t belong to Portugal. I belong to this place.” Constantino works in an industry that’s helping to build the new Macau—casinos, to be precise— which has, ironically enough, deepened his desire to help save the old. “Ten years ago, Macau wasn’t so rich. It was a little lazier. But people seemed happier,” he told me. “If we get too many people from the outside, who don’t know our culture, what happens?” Modern Macau may be more resilient and more adaptable than he thinks. Culture is never static. What exists today is indelibly Portuguese but also markedly Chinese—and, like him, it doesn’t have to be either/or.

‘I am very much macanese. IT’s noT The ThIngs In my body. IT’s my culTure’ — marcos constantino

Nowhere is this clearer than in the cuisine. For lunch, Constantino chose Hon Kee Coffee, an openair eatery down a Coloane village lane. To call it a restaurant would be too grand: fringed by banana trees, topped by a corrugated-metal roof. Its menu is unfussy Macanese fusion: sardines on crusty hot Portuguese bread, succulent pork-chop sandwiches, steaming bowls of noodles, sweet and milky coffee. For a more refined Macanese dinner that night, I visited Maria Couto’s home, on the 28th floor of a high-rise. Couto runs a private dining room and on this evening, she sent out dish after dish abounding with flavors that traversed the continents: a warm shrimp salad, lively with garlic and herbs; fall-offthe-bone short ribs in a sweet-and-sour pineapple sauce; a vinegary five-spice braised duck with Portuguese blood sauce and potatoes. A Macau native, Couto lived a decade in Portugal and then many years in the U.S., coming back in 2008 after her husband died. The Macau she returned to was not the one she left. Like Constantino, she thinks it’s more crowded, less intimate: “Where did all these people come from?” And yet, judging by a story she recounted just before I left, the essence was the same. One night, a woman came to dine in her home. “I want Portuguese fried vegetables,” the woman said. Couto responded: “I lived in Portugal for 10 years, and never had a plate of fried vegetables. They boil everything.” The woman said: “All of the other restaurants here in Macau have fried vegetables.” Couto cackled and told her guest, “That’s not Portuguese—that’s Macanese! It’s very simple: You are in Macau, and it’s just different.” May it remain so for 500 more years. ✚


t l guide staY Pousada de São Tiago a 400-year-old fortress has been transformed into a 12-suite relais & Châteaux property. Avenida da República, Fortaleza de São Tiago da Barra; 853/28378111;; doubles from MOP3,000 per night. Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 posh west-side hotel, perfectly located for those who care more about architecture and street life than casinos (although there is a pokey, smoky one inside). Rua do Visconde Paco de Arcos; 853/88610016;; doubles from MOP1,224 per night. Eat and drink Maria’s Private Kitchen Reservations required— Maria Couto provides her address upon confirmation; 853/6679-4825; dinner for two MOP350. O Manuel GF, 90 Rua Fernão Mendes Pinto, Taipa; 853/2882-5811; dinner for two MOP400. Café Nam Peng the décor at this old-school café doesn’t seem to have changed in decades—and

the clientele seems fixed in amber too. superb baked goods and east-meetsWest breakfasts. Rua de Cinco de Outubro 85; 853/2892-2267; breakfast for two MOP75. Hon Kee Coffee Estrada da Lai Chi Vun, Coloane; 853/2888-2310; lunch for two MOP100. AntÓnio Michelin- and Miele-lauded authentic portuguese cuisine. 3 Rua dos Negociantes, Old Taipa Village; 853/2899-9998;; dinner for two MOP1,000. Clube Militar de Macau the restaurant of this storied military club has a portuguese menu that aims to be as grand as the unmissably pink historical building. Avenida da Praia Grande 975; 853/28714000; clubemilitardemacau. net; three-course dinner for two MOP600. sHop Lines Lab Calçada da Igreja de São Lázaro 8; 853/2852-3869; Mercearia Portuguesa Calçada da Igreja de São Lázaro 8; 853/2856-2708;

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Diners sample chef Ali Hussain’s Lebanese meze at Al Nafoorah, in the Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Opposite page: The Burj Al Arab (left), as seen from the Madinat Jumeirah hotel’s Pierchic Restaurant.


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Eat a ing at Duba b i ba



Above: The view from At.mosphere, on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa. A selection of Lebanese meze at Al Nafoorah, including pan-fried ortolan, below.

‘DO YOu HAvE THE CODE? ’ It is a thirty-five-degree October day in Dubai. I am standing on the back lawn of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the one scaled by Tom Cruise in the latest of his Mission: Not Possible movies, facing a dapper African security guard. But, unlike Mr. Cruise, I do not have the code. What I have is heatstroke. The Kenyan sentry appraises the melting man before him. “Oh, no, sir, I can’t let you in,” he says. “You have to be dressy. You have to be,” he takes his time, relishing the word: “eh-le-gant.” Chastened, I shuffle off to the circular drive filled with Ferraris and Maseratis that separates the world’s tallest tower from the world’s biggest mall. fashion: impossible announces a giant Bloomingdale’s poster. The mall gives on to a man-made creek that leads to a fake souk that turns into a real mall, then twists into a garage and circles back to become a mall again. Oblivious to the heat, a gaggle of ex-U.S.S.R. girls are sitting on the souk/ mall’s restaurant patio smoking shisha pipes. A woman in a black niqab shovels biryani past her veil, while her uncovered daughter makes quick work of an iPad. I stare at the glistening top of the world’s tallest building, which looks like a beautiful steel flower reaching out to the desert skies. Before being stopped by security, I had been trying to get to the At.mosphere restaurant, the world’s highest. All I wanted was some lunch. “THE COnfIRMATIOn CODE HAS BEEn SEnT TO YOuR ROOM, SIR”

Now we’re getting somewhere. I thank the concierge and hang up my bedside phone, which is about the size of my first 1980’s Apple computer. I’m staying in the Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel, one of the twin Emirates towers, which look like crisp space-age steam irons against the busy Dubai skyline. Gazing out my window, I see an ocher construction site resembling a fresh Zuni fortification. Beyond it, somewhere in the haze, is a coastline. I dash to the shower, put on my blazer and wait for the At.mosphere confirmation code to be slipped under the door. Success! I read the code aloud in case an unlikely wind sweeps off the Persian Gulf and deposits it in the lunar dust of another construction site. A4DE1, A4DE1, A4DE1. An hour later, my taxi is stuck on the multi-multilane insanity known as Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s principal thoroughfare. Unless I tell you otherwise, I am writing every word of this while stuck in traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road, lost between dozens of reflective green skyscrapers, with the

Indian cabdriver blasting Virgin Radio FM, usually “Like a G6” by Far East Movement, or some other song about expensive planes, trains and helicopters. To ascend to the world’s highest restaurant in the world’s tallest building, one goes through the Armani Hotel. The action heats up. After I present my credentials at reception, an elegant Chinese woman with a British accent takes me through the stylishly morose lobby to an elevator that takes us down to a second lobby, where I am handed over to a statuesque Russian with a Russian accent. Many key cards are swiped along the way, into elevators, into turnstiles. And then, finally, I am zooming up at 10 meters per second into the future, as my ears pop and pop some more. GEnTLEMEn ARE ExPECTED TO SPEnD AT LEAST 200 DIRHAMS

I’m not sure if Dubai has its own anthem or coat of arms, but if it does it should definitely include the words minimum spending for gentlemen is aed 200. This is the sign that greets me at the entrance to the At.mosphere Lounge and a directive that will follow me around my week in Dubai. At this point, I am ready to eat my 200 dirhams (about us$50). Instead, I am offered afternoon tea. The highest high tea in the world, natch. I have ascended into the bosom of female Dubai expat society, surrounded by Marina Marys and Jumeirah Janes, those wonderful British ladies in flowery dresses who keep the local real-estate market from plummeting into the Arabian Gulf. In the pleasant circular room, I nibble on truffle-and-egg sandwiches and drink down my Laurent-Perrier Brut as the harpist serenades us. Outside the 122nd-floor window: Dubai. The sun sets bleakly over the sail-like extravagance of the Burj Al Arab, the exceedingly luxurious hotel moored on an artificial island to the north. Closer by, the faces of the ruling sheikhs of the United Arab Emirates drape a small skyscraper, a strange reminder that there are actually people in the country, citizens, I suppose, who are not Indian or Pakistani or Russian or British or German. A thousand airplane warning lights are blinking off a thousand skyscrapers as the sun sets. Gigantic cooling fans are spinning within the incomplete ruins of half-finished buildings. Beyond them a cartography of growing desire: malls, housing estates, artificial lagoons, the endless lunar sands of further construction. A Russian-accented Asian woman named Valeria, surely from one of the Stans, deposits a tray of macarons before me. If you could hear the multilane traffic of Sheikh Zayed Road it would sound something like Henderson the Rain King’s “I want, I want, I want.”

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ExPEnSIvE! BLACk TRuffLE! Sheikh Zayed Road, in the center of town. Clockwise from left: An acrylic underwater tunnel at the Dubai Mall Aquarium; black-truffle spaghetti at Armani/ Ristorante, in the Armani Hotel, Dubai; a waiter outside Ravi Restaurant, in the Satwa neighborhood.

I Want a Drink

I’ve come to Dubai to write a story about food. My friend, the lovely Nouf Al-Qasimi, has joined me on this mission. She is a Yale-educated, Santa Fe– based foodie whose family lives in a gracious, jasmine-scented compound in Abu Dhabi. As with many Abu Dhabians, Nouf’s view of Dubai, the brasher, far more outrageous emirate, can be summarized with an arched eyebrow. I meet up with Nouf at the bar and restaurant Teatro, in the Towers Rotana Hotel Dubai, another heap of reflective blue glass on Sheikh Zayed Road. Nouf wants to introduce me to Pat, the Indian manager of Teatro, who seems to know all of Dubai, from the highest rulers to the lowest punters. Teatro’s bar, a standard-looking rectangle lost beneath a healthy cloud of old-fashioned smoke, is where Dubai’s populace feels most comfortable. We’re listening to an instrumental version of “Like A Virgin” beneath portraits of Clark Gable. Pat examines my list of Dubai eateries: “No. Bad. Awful. No soul. Okay.” I cheerfully cross off the offending places. “The thing about Dubai,” Pat says, “is it’s all steel and chrome—the heart is elusive.” We are joined by Nader Sobhan, an old classmate of Nouf’s at Yale. Born in Rome to Bangladeshi parents and speaking perfect American English, Nader is the consummate Dubai resident: a son of three countries who lives in exactly none of them. I am immediately pleased by his short stature and hirsuteness, traits that I happily share. Nader’s full name means “rare glory,” and he foresees our evening very clearly. Tonight we will skip the towers of the center, the “steel and chrome,” to quote Pat, and head across the Dubai Creek for a glimpse of something real. And so, along with Nader and his Chinese girlfriend, we cram into a taxi and leave behind the heroic skyscrapers and wellgroomed malls for a land called Deira. With its 1980’s architecture in disrepair, Deira reminds me of the New York borough of Queens on an especially humid day. There are Cyrillic signs everywhere advertising MEX, or “fur” in Russian. Our first stop is the Japanese restaurant Kisaku, up on the top floor of the disheveled Al Khaleej Palace Hotel. The quotient of actual Japanese salarymen is high here, the décor is minimal, the food is authentic and superb and although gentlemen will probably spend more than 200 dirhams, there are no signs commanding them to do so. There’s thinly sliced hammour, the endangered but oh-so-delicious local grouper fish. There’s ika natto, thinly sliced cuttlefish with fermented soybeans, and fatty tuna that looks positively marbled. Along with the NHK channel on the TV and the clink of sake glasses hitting marble, all the classics of a hardworking Japanese bar are present:


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agedashi tofu, smooth and creamy, capped with prodigious amounts of bonito flake; vinegar-drenched seaweed; a nice, crisp dish of burdock root. Most of all, there’s “tubular fried fish cake,” which defies all interpretation but leaves us in awe of its many clashing textures and its singular wistful note of the sea. Welcome to the Desert of the Real

Another friend of Nader’s joins us for dinner, and herein we run into an interesting dilemma. Fresh from his long day working for a financial company, his friend is wearing the traditional white kandora. The bars that Nader wants to take us to, however, do not allow men in “national dress.” This seems like the ultimate irony—U.A.E. citizens not allowed to enter a bar in their native land. And so those of us in Western dress head for the African Garage Club, in the Ramee International Hotel in Nasser Square. Entering the democratic confines of the Garage after spending half the day begging for admittance to the world’s tallest building is like falling from the stratosphere into a small but welcome oasis. Everything here is sweaty and human and real. The theme is vaguely automotive. The clientele sit in hollowed-out cars, and the bar at the back is fitted inside the windows of an ancient bus, perhaps imported from Africa or the subcontinent. There’s a portrait of Jimi Hendrix over the stage, supervising some serious guitar- and drum-driven South African jams. On the dance floor, the women are dancing so hard, they’re practically doing push-ups. We peel off from the Garage on a highway that sparkles with decorations for the Eid al-Adha holiday, the Feast of the Sacrifice. At night, the Burj Khalifa is as good a skyscraper as it gets, sparkly like tinsel, monumental like the Empire State Building. All alone up there above the malls and the sands, it looks like it could use a friend. The Best Meal in Dubai

Nouf’s mother is from Lebanon, a country with a cuisine of such sophistication that it often startles me that every other restaurant in the world does not serve meze. Al Nafoorah, the Lebanese restaurant in the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, is just an elevator ride away from me, but it is by far the best meal I will have in Dubai. During the colder (read: still insanely hot) months, it is possible to dine outdoors beneath the lit-up palms. The air is infused with scent. You can smell Al Nafoorah’s tasty hookahs and charcoal grill from a skyscraper away. My method here is to take a puff of the mint-grape shisha, take a sip of martini (in the Lebanese style this is simply Martini-brand vermouth, served, for some reason, in a margarita glass), eat something completely unexpected, and then listen to Nouf explaining what on earth I just ate. There are the sautéed chicken livers drizzled with pomegranate sauce, the

the women are dancing so hard, they’re doing push-ups

A Japanese feast at Kisaku, at the Al Khaleej Palace Hotel.

smoothest, tastiest chicken livers I’ve ever had. “The richness of the liver is like a narcotic,” Nouf says, “but the sharpness of the pomegranate keeps you awake.” Muhammara means “reddened,” she explains, as in the gorgeous dip of chili paste, bread crumbs, walnuts and olive oil that I follow up with puffs of smoke, letting the mint from the shisha hit the back of my scalded palate. Then there are tiny birds— assafir, pan-fried ortolan—again in pomegranate sauce, a little finger snack from heaven, though those who object to swallowing an entire animal in one bite should give it a wide berth. “It’s like you’re eating fried chicken in reverse,” Nouf says, because the crunch comes at the very end. The dishes pile up. A pickle platter bearing turnip, cauliflower and Armenian bitter melon. Cold minced lamb with raw onion. Freshly sautéed dandelion root with onion and olive oil. All this bounty is scooped up with saj, a paper-thin unleavened bread that makes ordinary pita look stupid. By the end of the meal I am a confirmed mezeholic.


Oh, God, not again. Nouf and I are standing at the edge of Madinat Jumeirah, an enormous resort comprising 32 hectares of Arabian-themed insanity. We are trying to get to Pierchic, the resort’s seafood restaurant built at the end of a long pier. The restaurant has not sent me the code. But I do have a room key to the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, a sister hotel, which impresses a man in uniform enough so that we are allowed in; that is to say, we are deemed of the right class. After 30 minutes of walking across innumerable bridges, bumping into a strange Thai statue that I mistake for a waitress and try to reason with, and catching a lift from a buggy driven by a Hindi-speaking man, we arrive at Pierchic. The restaurant is most perfect in the dark, with the sail of the Burj Al Arab twinkling in the near distance, its helipad perched over the water like an offering plate, tables of well-heeled French and English families floating through the night alongside us. From this vantage point, Dubai after sunset looks interplanetary. We hear the slap of the waves against the pier and the slap of fish in the water, and order a pan-fried sea bass and an equally pan-fried halibut. These two taste average; the best part of the meal lives under the sea bass, a mash of veal bacon and Savoy cabbage that we pick at for an hour while the worried server hovers over us with the eternal Dubai question: “Is everything to your liking, Mr. Gary?” Before we arrived at Pierchic, Nouf and I had been to a birthday party at 360° Bar at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, another off-shore establishment in t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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On the terrace at 360° Bar, part of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel complex.


the shadow of the Burj Al Arab. There, we met Texan pilots, French skydiving instructors and entire platoons of pink-faced, Dockers-wearing U.K. and Commonwealth expats. Between the inhalations of copious amounts of expensive alcohol, the talk, as always, was of Dubai’s ruling family, the most fascinating topic in the Emirates. “They own four 737’s.” “They use a C-130 as a station wagon.” “They go falconing in Pakistan.” “They have a private island and they stop military air traffic when the crown prince needs a lift home.” “They see a restaurant they like in London or Paris and they just buy one for Dubai.” Back on the buggy to the mainland, a drunk Australian in a fedora and pink oxford shirt squeezes in next to me and drapes his arm around my shoulder. Pointing to the approaching skyline of Dubai, he shouts: “I oin this town! I bloody oin it!” He’s got the code. JuST fOR THE RECORD

By now the reader may be wondering, Where is the best view of Dubai proper as seen from an establishment jutting out into the Gulf? The answer is: the 101 Bar at the One&Only The Palm resort, which hangs off the crescent of the enormous palm-shaped archipelago of artificial islands. This watering hole and restaurant is built on stilts, giving it a Seychelles kind of feel. It is entirely free of drunken expats, catering


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instead to a more sedate crowd, including the monied locals who actually “oin” this town. The view of the Dubai Marina lighting up the shoreline like an instant Manhattan is easily the most romantic in the city, unless you’ve brought your own yacht. CzAR nICHOLAS’S LAST REquEST

Dubai madinat jumEir aH


saudi araBia

onE&onlY tHE palm

jumEir aH BEaCH HotEl

Z aY E

iran duBai gulF aBu dHaBi oF oman

Burj al ar aB

d rd.

sat wa

towErs rotana HotEl

duBai 0

pE r s g u lia n F qatar

u.a.E pErsian gulF

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sH E ik H


I begin the new day with a spicy, meaty breakfast at Ravi Restaurant, in the busy Satwa neighborhood, a stone’s throw but a world away from Dubai’s gleaming downtown. The Pakistani restaurant is a linoleum hole-in-the-wall, crammed with taxi drivers, low-level hotel staff, men in red worsted employee ties. There’s a bag of chopped onions in the refrigerator, along with gallons of Mountain Dew. There are hungry men expertly folding naan like handkerchiefs before dipping them into pools of spice. I eat a lula-style mutton kebab just for the fun of it, but the real star of the show is the nihari stew, on the breakfast menu. It’s the national dish of Pakistan: flaky, tender, just-off-the-bone meat studded with green peppercorns. Slightly on fire, I stumble back to the Dubai Mall to visit the amazing new aquarium. Watching a tiger shark swim overhead is fun, but nothing beats the world’s smartest otters, who give their trainers high fives and could probably do your taxes if you asked them nicely. The sea animals have rekindled my hunger. It is time for one of my last meals in the emirate. It is time to head back to the Armani Hotel, in the Burj Khalifa next door. But now I know the drill. Now I have all the codes I’ll ever need. Now I am Dubaian, smart as an otter. I am joining Nader, the Rare Glory, for dinner at Armani/ Ristorante. We enter the hushed, circular dining room with its tastefully beige décor. The nightly fountain show outside the artificial Burj Khalifa Lake is still going strong, and Nader points out the various dances being performed by the towering plumes of water: the Arabic Hair Dance, the Swinging Cane Dance. In deference to local excess, we decide to order nearly all of our dishes for this meal off the truffle menu. A part of me wants to write the rest of this article as a Tom Wolfe homage. He was eating! The most! Expensive! Black truffle! In! The world’s! Tallest! Building! But I will restrain myself. And then something happens that neither Nader nor I expect. The food proves to be as delicious as the view. The plump roasted scallops with celeriac and black truffle, the stracciatella cheese with artichoke, Parmesan and black truffle—all are subject to slow chewing and contemplation. Nader remarks upon the authentic lack of red sauce in the dish of wild-boar pappardelle. My eggy tagliolini with white truffles is al dente to the massimo. We order a toothsome red wine for under US$100, which may be the greatest bargain I’ve yet encountered in Dubai. I scan the coast for a gentlemen are expected to spend at least us$200 on a bottle of chianti sign, but there is none. All we have in front of us is calm: the oatmeal tablecloth, the golden menus. For dessert, we are presented with la sfera, which is essentially an edible Fabergé egg, made with vanilla cream, violet crème brûlée and cassis sorbet. If poor Czar Nicholas II had been granted a last request, this would have been a good choice. “I didn’t know dessert could be so good with truffle,” the tall Russian hostess exclaims to me as we leave. “Everything taste good with zeh truffle,” I want to tell her, in my new Dubaian accent, which is neither Russian or American, but filled with rich, truffle-like sibilants. Give me a few more weeks. I’ll oin this town. ✚

8 km

nassEr squarE jumEir aH Emir atEs towErs Burj kHaliFa / armani HotEl

duBai CrEEk

dEir a al kHalEEj pal aCE HotEl

duBai intErnational airport


t l guide getting Around taxis are safe, ubiquitous and affordable. Instead of traveling on sheikh Zayed road, try the red line Metro. m

staY Al Khaleej Palace Hotel Al Makthoum Rd., Deira;; doubles from Dhs600. Armani Hotel Burj Khalifa, 1 Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd.;; doubles from Dhs2,200. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Rd.;; doubles from Dhs8,091. Jumeirah Emirates Towers Sheikh Zayed Rd.;; doubles from Dhs1,480. Madinat Jumeirah Jumeirah Rd.;; doubles from Dhs2,800. One&Only The Palm West Crescent, Palm Island;; doubles from Dhs3,520, minimum five-night stay. Towers Rotana Hotel Dubai Sheikh Zayed Rd.;; doubles from Dhs750.

Eat and drink African garage Club Ramee International Hotel, Nasser Square, Deira; Al Nafoorah Jumeirah Emirates Towers; jumeirah. com. Armani/Ristorante Armani Hotel; armanihotels. com. At.mosphere Lounge Burj Khalifa; Kisaku Japanese Restaurant Al Khaleej Palace Hotel; 971-4/2231000. 101 Dining Lounge & Bar One&Only The Palm; Pierchic Madinat Jumeirah; Ravi Restaurant Satwa Rd.; 971-4/331-5353. Teatro Towers Rotana Hotel Dubai; 3600 Bar Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Rd.; do Burj Khalifa observation deck and shopping. 1 Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd.; Dubai Mall shopping and aquarium.

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Hiking one of Indonesia’s most volatile volcanoes may not require outdoor survival skills, but it will make you think about the fragility of life and the force of nature. story and photographs by david lloyd buglar 98

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The summit of Mount Merapi, Central Java’s most active volcano, with Merbabu in the distance.

Sunrise wake-up call on Merbabu. Clockwise from left: Terraced hills near Selo; Prambanan; guide Trioro atop Merapi; Mesa Stila.

y feet sink into the volcanic sand with every step. On the steep slopes of Mount Merapi, as I pass red-hot rocks, I think about the flow of molten lava and scalding hot ash clouds that consumed an entire village on the southern face of Mount Merapi in October and November, 2010. That blast claimed the lives of more than 350 villagers, including Merapi’s official spirit guardian, known affectionately as Mbah Marjidan. Only four years earlier he was convinced that he had quelled the anger of Merapi’s spirits after surviving another eruption. In 2010 however, he perished in his own home, reportedly found in the prayer position, covered in volcanic ash.

Two-and-a-half-years later, in the middle of the night, I’m hiking Mount Merapi, still the most volatile of Central Java’s volcanoes and one of the world’s 16 Decade Volcanoes—those under special focus due to their combination of ferocious power and large nearby populations. It is the climax of a multi-day, upmarket trek with boutique tour company Jiwa Quest—think of climbs rewarded with wine and homemade desserts, and descents to a base camp followed by rejuvenating massages. This kind of high-end adventure in an unstable environment means travelers don’t have to worry about setting up their own tents, leaving them free to consider questions of life, destruction and nature’s capriciousness.

Our journey is anchored at Selo, which, thankfully, was evacuated before the last eruption. “For most of us on the north side, the rolling lava led to widespread panic,” says Sony Much, head of the local Mountain Guide Association, who coordinated the search and rescue team. “Only me and two of my friends stayed put.” One of those who contributed to the village’s

recovery and rebuilding efforts was Frenchman Francois Bouvery, who was then setting up Jiwa Quest. I first meet up with one of Jiwa Quest’s managers, Amandine Moro, and the other trekkers, a Dutch family of five, in Yogyakarta. Famed as a center of arts and culture, Yogyakarta is an infectious, slow burner of a town, full of brightly painted houses, exceptionally warm people and excellent street food, including the area’s trademark gudeg, a wonderfully sweet jackfruit curry best found on the street every morning until around nine. Together, we set off for Selo, stopping en route at Prambanan, one of the world’s foremost Hindu temples. Majestically ornate, its main tower soars 47 meters high surrounded by the remains of smaller structures still bearing the scars of earthquakes, the most recent of which struck in 2006. A short walk away, the less renowned and more tranquil eighth-century Buddhist temple of Sewu was ours alone and all the more special for it. Selo lies between Merbabu Volcano and Merapi at around 1,500 meters. The road to it ascends quickly, snaking around constant switchbacks, passing farmers working improbably steep hills that make the terraced

fields of the Philippines and northern Vietnam look positively leisurely. Arriving at our mountain lodge base, everything is ready: coats, bags, fleeces, hats, scarves, gloves, energy drinks, snacks and head torches. All this gear is a sharp wake-up call for any of us who thought we were in for a basic trek. After packing, we’re ready for the first stage—a night hike to the Merbabu base camp at 2,300 meters. Initially the going is easy enough, but as the path enters dense jungle and our guide hacks away with his machete to clear the way, our group is soon strung out in three packs, with a hardy five-year-old soldiering on at the rear. Before we know it, darkness envelops us as we gingerly pick the rest of the way up by head torch. We arrive at the base camp after almost three hours to find a table topped with cold beers, wines and snacks all set next to a roaring campfire. Over a bowl of fragrant Indonesian noodle soup, we warm our wet feet in front of the fire and contemplate the silhouette of Merbabu looming large behind us. Next, trek manager Stan Girault grills massive quantities of herbed meat over the flames, before Amandine’s fantastic apple tart and a glass of red make certain we are ready for a deep slumber. Our tents, complete with soft mattresses and pillows, have been set up, positioned for a stunning morning view. We wake at 5 a.m. to a perfectly crisp dawn. In the pale blue halflight, wisps of cloud streak the horizon, while a faint mist shrouds Merapi’s lower reaches, hiding the communities that cling to her slopes. Slowly, the sun appears over the horizon, smoke billows from the crater and a mist thickens as the sky morphs from purple to orange to red. I’m so transfixed that my pancakes, omelet and freshly brewed coffee are all allowed to go cold. It turns out just two of us are up for climbing the final 700 meters to Merbabu’s summit, and we set out at 7 a.m., following in the light footsteps of our 60-year-old guide, who goes by Mr. Popeye. We’re told to expect a two-hour climb, but taking only the shortest of breaks along the way, we make it to the top in half that. Celebrating, Mr. Popeye pulls on an industrial-strength cigarette—of course, we were all expecting a pipe—and sits to enjoy the view. A series of verdant peaks is spread out before us, the tops poking through the whitest of clouds, and I look down on it all, marveling at the views beneath me. I feel like I’m floating on top of the world. And accomplishing this climb makes me all the more excited in anticipation of tackling Merapi—in a mere 18 hours. Back in Selo, we find the rest of our party, soaking their feet in herb-infused baths, wolfing down panroasted cashews and sipping warm tea. All very wholesome and it’s not yet 10 a.m., but for me, joining t r av E l a n d l E i s u r E a s i a . C o m

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manager Stan for a cold beer proves too refreshing a reward to resist. After a huge meal of succulent, Indonesian BBQ chicken cooked to perfection in a sweet marinade and served with a chilled white wine, the heavens open. Claps of thunder ricochet off Merbabu and Merapi. We are due to start our Merapi climb at 1 a.m. I meet with chief guide, Sony, who is unperturbed by the weather. “No problem,” he says calmly, as the rain hammers down around us, “it will stop by 11 p.m.” I know I should have faith—Sony has lived in the area his entire life and has a sterling track record of predictions, having guessed the scale and date of the 2010 eruption to the month. There are almost as many myths about Merapi as there are villages surrounding it, and Selo has its own. Here, the villagers believe that many years ago a holy man ran away from the village and was never found. His spirit is now said to rest in the volcano. A buffalo is sacrificed every year, carried up Merapi and thrown in to the crater as an offering. Sony reckons half of the villagers still place their faith in this ritual. After chatting with Sony and carb-loading with creamy salmon pasta, I bed down in my room at the lodge, the sound of the rain beating at the windows making it difficult to drift off. But Sony was right: by midnight, the rain has stopped and the sky bursts with stars. Despite this, there is no sign of the family—with heavy legs, they had opted to delay Merapi for a night, so guide Trioro and I head to the starting point.

With the fateful days of 2010 in mind, there is a sense of trepidation once we set foot on Merapi, pitch darkness heightening the anticipation. From the outset, the gradient is relentless, but we make good time and stop on the first of three hills to take in the views. From high up, the fact that Java is the world’s most heavily populated island becomes abundantly clear—street lamps show villages spreading up the slopes of several of Java’s at least 39 active volcanoes. The silence is only broken by the crackle of Trioro’s cigarette—we’re not even half way up and this vista would make a satisfying end in itself. After three hours, compact soil gives way to loose volcanic sand and rock—it’s two steps up and one step back. Nearing the top, we meet another group. One of its members is struggling badly. Mentally and physically drained from the night hike, she is terrified at sound of the loose rocks spraying down the slope as we pass. Soon we climb past patches of ground hot enough to burn skin—a visceral reminder of the colossal energy beneath our feet. I’ve done my fair share of night hikes, but I’m still grateful to be accompanied by a guide-slash-cheerleader on the


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final, steepest stretch. Trioro’s comically confident call of “One more minute!” every 10 minutes, spurs me on. We reach the peak before sunrise and settle down on the lip of the crater. The other group soon joins us, their sense of relief palpable as they hug us in celebration. Despite the fact that Trioro has climbed Merapi more than 1,000 times, his enthusiasm remains infectious. “I really hope we are lucky and you will see the lava,” he beams. Still in darkness, we peer deep into the sulfurous smoke. At last, it eases, allowing glimpses of the menacing red glow not far below us. As the sun rises, the sheer power of 2010’s fateful blast becomes clear, with the rim showing graphic signs of being torn asunder. It is ringed with jagged rock. In daylight, the scale of our climb becomes apparent for the first time–we are actually looking down on the mighty Merbabu across the valley. What’s more, a step in the wrong direction and we’d be sent tumbling in to the fiery crater below. A couple of baskets and a bamboo pole lay nearby—evidence of the recent buffalo sacrifice to appease the spirits. Before the last eruption, it was possible to climb safely down to the lava, but that’s no longer an option—Sony says the force of the last blast changed it beyond all recognition and now ropes and harnesses would be needed to attempt it. That’s when it hits home that we are standing on top of one of the world’s most destructive volcanoes. We pass two unforgettable hours watching the landscape around us change, the color of the rock morphing as it is bathed in ever more light and the green contours of Merbabu across the valley are picked out by lengthening shadows. All the while, Merapi’s smoke, potent with the smell of sulphur, spills over the crater’s edge. Luck stays on our side and the descent is dry and bright. We run at full speed down the sand slope to a stark plateau strewn with volcanic rocks below the summit. Later, about a third of the way down the more gentle descent, I ask Trioro if locals ever climb Merapi. He laughs and tells me plenty come this high twice a day. They climb once to collect grasses for their animals and a second time for dry firewood. Merapi may periodically unleash disasters, but together with the many other volcanoes of Indonesia, it also blesses the country with immensely fertile land and today boosts the local economy with ever growing numbers of volcano trekkers. At the bottom, Trioro is tired but still full of smiles. “Now is the time to enjoy the benefits Merapi brings,” he says. “It should be another 45 years before we have to face her full wrath again.” ✚


t l guide getting there daily flights serve yogyakarta from Jakarta on lion air (, garuda air ( and air asia (

do Jiwa Quest Jln. Raung, Semarang 50232; 62-81/12753651;; allinclusive trekking packages including guides, equipment and return transport from Yogyakarta from Rs350,000 per person.

staY Mesa Stila Resort stand-alone villas and a pool overlooking andong volcano; first-rate nouveau Indonesian food (try the ikan bakar and honey grilled king prawns); inclusive classes for yoga, traditional martial arts and gamelan music; a focus on wellbeing that includes no alcohol after 5 p.m.—this ex-coffee plantation and colonial estate is the place to decompress after trekking. Losari Village, Grabag, Magelang, Central Java;; 6221/719-4121; doubles from US$200.

Villagers believe the spirit of a holy man rests in the volcano. A buffalo is sacrificed every year, carried up Merapi and thrown in the crater as an offering

Merapi’s sulfurous smoke conceals its menacing glow.


A view of Hamburg from Lombard’s Bridge.


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burg The old-world grandeur and maritime grit of this northern German city are being refashioned by a spectacular harborside building boom, but the mood is as calm as ever. gini a lh a deff soaks up the atmosphere. photogr a phed by chr isti a n k er ber

center. Richard Meier and David Chipperfield created office buildings, and Zaha Hadid is in charge of a “promenade link” to the old city. There is a chic new boutique hotel, the 25hours.


A waschechte Hamburger is not something you eat. It’s a person born and bred in Hamburg, and it was a few such dyed-in-the-wool locals who put the city in perspective for me. Hamburg, I learned, may be the richest city in Germany, but it is not a city that shows off, like Munich; it is quieter than Berlin but more sophisticated, too—a publishing and manufacturing center. The country’s leading news publications, including Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, are based downtown. Airbus planes are assembled here. In the western suburb of Blankenese, once a fishing village, are the discreet villas of the wealthy. The fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld renovated and eventually sold a vast Neoclassical mansion here, with views of the harbor. These days, the city is changing. The Elbe Philharmonic Hall is under construction: architects Herzog & de Meuron’s stunning folly of a building looks like a glowing glacier recently landed on a dark-brick harborside warehouse. Its top resembles a crown. There’s no doubt that the concert hall, when finished— part of a complex that includes a 250-room luxury hotel and 45 apartments—will be as alluring as any siren architecture of our time. Like the Sydney Opera House or the Guggenheim in Bilbao, this building will draw attention to a city unaccustomed to being stared at or visited from far and wide. The new philharmonic is in HafenCity, once a customs-free port zone you had to show your passport to enter, now Europe’s largest urban development project. Almost 50 new buildings have gone up, about a third of the total planned, by some of the world’s most talented architects: Rem Koolhaas designed a monumental floating geometric ring that is to be a science


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y first long walk in Hamburg led me past a string of museums from the Deichtorhallen to the Kunsthalle, the latter filled with paintings by German Romantic masters such as Caspar David Friedrich and Philipp Otto Runge. The day I visited there was a dense veil of mist that dissolved only to reassemble more evenly and thickly, and I felt like the Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Friedrich, minus the costume: a figure in tails, holding a stick, standing on a rock and looking out onto an expanse of sea-foam as ominous waves break over a nebulous landscape. The sea was not far from where I was. A tributary of the Elbe River travels 105 kilometers to the North Sea from Hamburg, and the tides are such that a sailboat can come back upriver even on windless days, making it a natural harbor. But the expanse of water closer to me was Alster Lake. Its reflective presence in the center of town gives Hamburg an uncanny atmosphere. The Neuer Jungfernstieg, an elegant street that runs along the Alster, is lined with furriers, jewelers and high-fashion boutiques. This is affluent Europe in the form of a civil, contented society, built on the city’s merchants and harbor. The luxury brands on the nearby Neuer Wall street were familiar—Cartier, Bulgari, Tiffany, Mont Blanc, Max Mara—but along a canal by the Rathaus, or town hall, I came across a small Syrian café with just five tables: the Salon de Thé Saliba. Its windows were decorated with neat rows of dates stuffed with walnuts, baklava alternating with tangerines and small blue-and-white china cups containing chocolate mousse. The Rathaus, designed by seven architects in the historicist neo-Renaissance style and completed in 1897, was one of the few grand buildings left standing after World War II, and the most dazzling. It has a central tower and wings spanning more than 4,600 square meters; there are 647 rooms. The parliamentary chamber, with wooden panels and leather benches and tall windows, reeks of European civility. Steps away, it’s easy to overlook an Art Nouveau façade built in gray stone around a large arched window, behind which is one of the city’s liveliest establishments: Café Paris. Despite its name, this is a venerable Hamburg institution. At a little after 12 I sat at a table by the back wall of the brightly lit and delicately ornamented Jugendstil room. It is full of shimmering glazed tiles, and two cupolas set into the tall ceilings are frescoed with pastoral scenes—young men with bales of hay and crates of apples; a bare-chested woman accompanied by two cupids. By a quarter to one, the hall was packed with a young crowd, talking and consuming plates of steak tartare, bucketfuls of mussels with fries, and boiled beef with horseradish, all at a furious rate. My waitress was a glamorous brisk blonde in her thirties. I decided that sitting here was the most fun to be had in Hamburg, just watching the crowd.

The bar at the popular CafÊ Paris. Opposite: Unilever headquarters, one of many new structures in the city’s harbor development.

Clockwise from top left: The lobby of the 25hours Hotel, in HafenCity; burlesque dancer Marlene von Steenvag in the red-light district’s Queen Calavera club; the entrance of the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten; Richard, a furniture and accessories shop on Wexstrasse.


amburg once belonged to the Hanseatic League, which regulated trade along the northern coast of Europe in the Middle Ages. Later, the city welcomed the rule of Kaiser Wilhelm I, but retained the privileges of a free harbor. Today, Hamburg offers a stately, comfortable beauty without grandiosity—since there were never any princes or kings, there are no palaces. Instead, there are understated residential streets like the Ise Strasse, in Eppendorf, curving gently, rising and falling like a well-paced breath, and lined with wellproportioned turn-of-the-20th-century houses whose façades are mostly white, pale gray or the color of custard. One of Hamburg’s oldest neighborhoods is St. Pauli, an entertainment and red-light district that originally catered to sailors. Here, women still sit in shop windows waiting to be chosen, as in a similar district in Amsterdam. Other women, such as myself, are forbidden to enter. Hamburgers are proud of St. Pauli. Nikolaus Hansen, editor of the publishing house Arche/Atrium, told me the red-light district was so socially acceptable that he remembers driving through it with his grandmother when he was a kid. In the early 1960’s the Beatles lived in Hamburg and played in several of the clubs in St. Pauli—Lennon once performed a set in his underwear and much later stated that though he was born in Liverpool, he felt he had grown up in Hamburg. Nowadays, the Reeperbahn, also known as die sündige Meile, or “sinful mile,” is geared toward tourists, and an order of orange juice might come with a lap dance and, later, a bill for 300 euros. One afternoon, I sat beneath the gentle refracted light of a large cream-colored lampshade at the Café Leonar, in the nearby Grindel neighborhood. Grindel is a genteel, whitewashed, fin de siècle residential area that had a Jewish population of thousands before World War II, before many of them left and most of those remaining were deported and killed in the Nazi camps. Some of the names of the dead are engraved on individual square brass plates set into the sidewalks here and in other German cities by the artist Gunter Demnig. The café was quiet—I could hear the rustling of newsprint but not what guests were saying to the waitress. So what is so Jewish about the Leonar? Not so much the “Israeli hummus” or the fact that bagels can be had—in addition to excellent cappuccinos and an assortment of croissants, pastries and cakes. Perhaps the fact that there are so many newspapers to choose from, and even a few books. This is a serene place where one can read and think. If a cell phone dares to bleep discreetly, its owner heads for an enclave between the front door and a heavy velvet curtain to answer in whispers. I had tea and toast. The butter and jam came in dainty white pots. I contemplated the city’s illustrious intellectuals: art historian Aby Warburg, whose extraordinary collection was relocated to London just in time; Heinrich Heine, whose descriptions of Hamburg are some of the most vivid and who once said that there was not enough holy water in the world to wash the Jew out of him; Arthur Schopenhauer, whose family lived in a house on a canal here in the 1790’s.

There are many canals in Hamburg, and many bridges— more, they say, than in Venice and Amsterdam put together. The 17 dark-brick warehouses of the Speicherstadt, each seven or eight stories high, with entrances from the water and from land, were built at the turn of the last century. Some of them are still used to store spices, Oriental carpets and other goods. On my last day, I walked through the botanical garden and came upon a small and delightful Japanese garden with a few low thatched-roof wooden constructions. From there I proceeded to the architect Fritz Höger’s 10-story Chilehaus—​a building shaped like the prow of a ship and made of dark bricks with white window frames that stand out crisply like white collars on a somber uniform. In the arcaded ground floor is a fabulous store called Manufactum whose motto is “The good things in life still exist.” High-quality handmade “useful” objects were for sale there, such as feather shuttlecocks for a bamboo badminton set, a genuine ostrich-feather duster, three-winged boomerangs made of Finnish birch, straw bird’s nests, chamois cloths, pocket watches, Danish hammocks and camp beds, and a rotating soap holder. In another downtown design shop, Richard, I found a refined selection of modern and antique furniture and objects. Then it was time for tea in the high-ceilinged drawing room of the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, overlooking the lake.


he editor Nikolaus Hansen took me to dinner that night. We went to his favorite restaurant, Engel, on the Elbe River. You drive along the Elbchaussee to the point where the ferry docks. Up the stairs, and seemingly suspended over the water, is a room with no more than 13 tables, all of them with views of the river. The space is long and narrow, somewhat like the interior of a ferry. The décor is simple—white tablecloths, wooden tables and floors, which are rocked by the regular docking of ferries. The menu is what you’d expect: grilled fish, shrimp or filet, with fresh vegetables, simply served. Over a leisurely meal Hansen told me what it had been like to grow up in Hamburg. Before reunification Hamburg was hemmed in by the sea and the nearby border with East Germany. To go to West Berlin took many hours, with police formalities on both sides. The alternative was a one-hour Pan Am flight. “From 1950 to 1990, when the Wall came down, more than a thousand people were killed at the border—in the middle of civilized Europe,” Hansen said. “When I was a kid there were no tourists, and after nine the city was dark. But the city changed, became more extroverted after the war. Still, it kept its unexcited temper.” It’s funny how the day appears to last different lengths in different parts of the world. In New York City it lasts about 12 minutes, divided into morning, afternoon and evening, with four minutes for each. In Hamburg, the day seems multiplied by three and is steeped in the kind of time, between getting things done, to stop at a café and read a newspaper or a book. After a few days in this quietly old-fashioned and architecturally futuristic little capital of contentment, I could see just what Hansen meant about Hamburg’s “unexcited temper.” ✚ t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

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t l guide getting There you can’t fly direct to hamburg from southeast asia, but there are one-stop routes from Bangkok, hong Kong, Jakarta and singapore on such carriers as aeroflot (, British airways (, emirates (emirates. com), Finnair (finnair. com), KlM royal dutch (, lufthansa ( and turkish airlines (

staY Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten luxury hotel located on the Inner alster lake. 9-14 Neuer Jungfernstieg;; doubles from 235. Hotel Atlantic Kempinski the grandest of grand hotels in hamburg. 72-79 An der Alster;; doubles from 199. Hotel Baseler Hof Comfortable design hotel in the heart of the city. 11 Esplanade;; doubles from 145.


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Park Hyatt Hamburg a short walk from the st. pauli quarter and the speicherstadt warehouse district. 8 Bugenhagenstrasse;; doubles from 240. 25hours Hotel ultramodern design hotel in hafenCity with maritime-style “cabins” intended for short stays. 5 Überseeallee;; doubles from 132. Eat Café Leonar 87 Grindelhof; Café Paris 4 Rathausstrasse; Cox Restaurant an after-theater eatery. 43 Greifswalder Str.; Cuneo historic Italian restaurant located in the reeperbahn. 11 David Str.; Restaurant Engel Landeanlage Teufelsbrück; Ristorante Portonovo authentic Italian with great views of the outer alster. 2 Alsterufer; Saliba Alsterarkaden Main restaurant around

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0.3 km

the corner from its tea and pastry shop, salon de thé saliba. 13 Alsterarkaden; do Arts & Crafts Museum houses an impressive collection of historical keyboard instruments. Steintorplatz; Botanical garden Ohnhorststrasse; Deichtorhallen Hamburg 1–2 Deichtorstrasse; Hamburg Museum exhibitions of the city’s history. 24 Holstenwall; Kunsthalle Hamburg Glockengiesserwall; Rathaus hourly tours of hamburg’s town hall are available in english. 1 Rathausmarkt; sHop Manufactum household objects. 2 Fischertwiete; Richard Interior designer richard lotzmann’s furniture and accessories. 32A Wexstrasse;

An evening view of the arcades along Alster Lake, in Hamburg.

our definitive guide to

With innovative restaurants, sophisticated hotels and a booming art scene, the Pearl of the Orient is undergoing one of the most rapid expansions in Asia. Jennifer Chen heads to the source.


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sIMon Menges

The northern façade of Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum, near the Huangpu River.

sHangHai n n


CHina sHangHai

tH E Bu nd

The Pizza Counter at Mercato, in the Huangpu district. Below: “Ispahan dishwash,” a dessert of rose and lychee foam on Chantilly cream, at Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet.

East CHina sEa


Huangpu rivEr lujiaZui

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0.8 km

Lay of the Land Former French Concession the planetree-lined streets and gracious villas of the wellpreserved neighborhood make it the city’s most coveted address.

From laid-back local haunts to temples of haute cuisine, here’s where to dine now. mErCato Jean-georges Vongerichten teamed up with shanghai-based design duo neri & hu at this rustic-chic, Bundside Italian restaurant done in reclaimed wood and leather. Wood-fired pizzas and fresh pastas top the menu, but there are plenty of stellar fish options, including salt-and-pepper sea bass and scallops with green chili, lime and pistachio. threeon; RMB800.

ultraviolEt BY paul pairEt the city’s most buzzed-about new restaurant has only 10 tables—and a three-month waiting list. With the help of projectors, scent diffusers and a


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sophisticated sound system, chef paul pairet combines audio, olfactory and visual effects with innovative dishes bearing wacky names such as “foie gras can’t quit” and “truffle burnt soup bread.” It’s dinner theater for the 21st century.; RMB4,000.

Hai BY goga at his first restaurant, goga, a pared-down space overlooking the city, san Francisco native Brad turley gained a cult following for his spot-on pacific rim cuisine. his second act sticks to the same formula: boldly flavored options such as tuna-edamame potato salad and scallops with thai lobster curry.

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86-21/3461-7893; RMB600.

lost HEavEn Moody lighting and carved-teak chairs set the stage at this local favorite in the former French Concession that whips up the city’s finest yunnanese cuisine. there are mouthwatering lemongrass-laced meats, vegetable pancakes and spicy curries. cn; RMB300.

jisHi When it comes to shanghainese food, this unpretentious restaurant is as authentic as it gets. (the waiters speak nary a word of english.)

Tangcu paigu (sweetand-sour spare ribs) and congbao yutou (braised fish head with scallions) are staples; if it’s hairy crab season (october– december), don’t miss the xiefen fenpi (crab with vermicelli sheets). 86-21/6282-9260; RMB550.

madison an alum of new york City’s gramercy tavern, young chef austin hu showcases standouts—such as duck breast with apple, chrysanthemum greens, and chorizo-flecked vinaigrette and candied pork belly with kimchi jus—in a loftlike restaurant in the Xuhui district. madison inshanghai; RMB600. dinner prices are for two.

The Bund thanks to a recent us$33 million restoration, this thoroughfare, shanghai’s answer to the ChampsÉlysées and Fifth avenue, has welcomed a slew of luxury stores, upscale restaurants and top hotels. Jing’an the lively downtown district, crammed with skyscrapers and mega shopping centers, is fast-paced and often crowded; for a break, head to the 13th-century Jing’an Buddhist temple. Lujiazui you’ll find some of the city’s best hotels in the financial district on the eastern banks of the huangpu river. getting Around taxis are easy to hail, but drivers seldom speak english, so make sure you have addresses written down in Chinese. alternatively, the metro ( is extensive and efficient.

F r o M t o p : C h r I s t o p h e r W I s e ; a n d r e W r o Wat


Clockwise from left: Colorful tops at Dong Liang Studio; a ring made of brass, pearls and vintage Swarovski elements by Antik Nana; vintage finds at Antik Nana’s studio; a black leather satchel from Dong Liang Studio.

shop Looking for the best Shanghai designers, beauty products and more?


Dong Liang Studio partners Charles Wang and nam lang’s three-story space stocks an impressive collection of women’s clothing from cutting-edge Chinese fashion labels, including fitted jackets by local designer he yan and hand-stitched evening wear by Beijing-based Vega Zaishi Wang. 86-21/ 3469-6926.


C l o C K W I s e F r o M t o p : W h I t n e y l aW s o n ; C o u r t e s y o F a n t I K n a n a ( 2 ) ; W h I t n e y l aW s o n ; a n d r e W r o Wat

Antik Nana the beauty is in the details at london-trained nana’s studio, where the jeweler’s quirky, intricate designs— clockwork brooches inlaid with miniature hourglasses; antique bracelets with clusters of skull charms— are inspired by steampunk themes.

3 at this online fashion retailer’s brick-and-mortar showroom, there’s a tightly curated assortment of up-and-

coming asian designers (aijek, nuomi), along with a selection of vintage items handpicked by owner Cairn Wu reppun.


Ba Yan Ka La enter French expat Jean Zimmerman’s calm-inducing flagship in Xuhui, and your serotonin levels will instantly skyrocket. his soaps and lotions (tibetan roseroot bubble bath; Chinese mulberry body milk) treat everything from skin woes to body aches.


Mary Ching u.K.-bred designer alison Cheung’s shanghai boutique is a mecca for heels and handbags. But the traditionally minded should steer clear: statement stilettos come in hot reds, pinks and snakeskin, and cashmere slippers are playfully adorned with pom-poms and fake gems.


see do mogansHan road Moganshan road, shanghai’s version of soho, new york, is a warren of warehouses turned galleries. among the best: ShanghArt (shanghart, the country’s first to participate in major fairs such as art Basel; the avant-garde OV gallery (; and photography-driven M97 gallery (

roCkBund art musEum Q Confucious No. 2, a 4-metertall sculpture by Zhang Huan at the Rockbund Art Museum.

With an eye-catching art deco façade and revamped interiors by london-based architect david Chipperfield,

Four destinations for culture hounds.

the Bund’s only contemporary art gallery has become one of the city’s most noteworthy institutions. experimental temporary shows are the draw, by international talents like Italian multimedia artist paola pivi and Beijingbased ones like painter Zeng Fanzhi. rockbundart

Fuxing park a former private garden during the Ming dynasty, this green oasis in the former French Concession is a prime spot for peoplewatching, with couples practicing the fox-trot,

families playing badminton and elderly women belting out Chinese opera. 516 Fuxing Zhong Rd.

powEr station oF art the opening of this mammoth museum last year made shanghai a permanent fixture on China’s culture map. Built in an old power station, the 135,000square-meter venue played host to the 2012 shanghai Biennale and is the first public museum on the mainland to showcase contemporary Chinese art.

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Whimsical touches in the Park Hyatt Shanghai’s Chairman Suite. Left: Yi Long Court restaurant, in the Peninsula Shanghai.


Moganshan In summer, shanghai’s elite escape to the bamboo forests of this mountain retreat. naked stables private reserve (; doubles from RMB1,500) is our pick among the new resorts.

Three hot new hotels and the enduring classics.

Suzhou explore the canals, classical gardens and silk factories of this picturesque town, only a half-hour away by bullet train.

nEw & notEwortHY Four sEasons HotEl sHangHai pudong

Hangzhou a 45-minute train ride from shanghai hongqiao railway station takes you to this ancient capital of pagodas and terraced plantations of longjing green tea. It’s also home to one of the best Chinese restaurants in the world, dragon Well Manor (399 Longjing Rd.; 86571/8788-8777; dinner for two RMB1,000).

don’t be fooled by the spaceship-like exterior; inside, the sexy new addition to the lujiazui district nods to the 1920’s with art deco–inspired geometric-patterned rugs, gleaming chrome-and-glass tables and white leather chairs.; RMB3,500.

twElvE at HEngsHan design firm of the moment yabu pushelberg were the brains behind this 171-room gem in the former French Concession. silk

lanterns and elaborate latticework in neutral hues honor Chinese design traditions subtly. (you won’t find a lick of red.) tip: ask for a tour of the historic neighborhood in a motorcycle sidecar.; RMB1,688.

BanYan trEE sHangHai on tHE Bund on the Bund’s fast-developing north end, Banyan tree’s first foray into shanghai is a Zen-like retreat. Its best asset? all 12 suites have sweeping views of the huangpu river and the pudong skyline.; RMB3,000.

tHE ClassiCs park HYatt When it first opened, the 414-meter-high park hyatt was crowned the world’s highest hotel. Its title has since been usurped by the ritz-Carlton hong Kong, but the property remains the classiest act in pudong. highspeed elevators whisk you to the 87th floor, where a tony Chi– designed lobby boasts shagreen and tortoiseshell walls. park.; RMB2,500.

tHE pEninsula architect david Beer and interior designer pierre-yves rochon have done up the interiors of with cool

celadon tones and black marble hallways, not to mention period pieces like a 1930’s elevator.; RMB2,200.

puli HotEl & spa this 229-room property in Jing’an is a masterful study in understatement. Weathered armoires and simple ink drawings by Chinese artist li Jingbin set the tone in the lobby, and guest rooms have delicate, indigenous touches like dragon-scaled screens. head to the bambooshrouded terrace for a “blood and bitters”— blood-orange juice, Campari and star anise.; RMB1,763

hotel prices are for double occupancy.

onE to watCH mandarin oriental pudong asia’s leading hotel chain is pulling out all the stops for its shanghai debut. Besides a soaring marble-clad lobby, there will be a 7,923-square-meter spa and 4,000-piece art collection. expect a summer 2013 opening.


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F r o M l e F t: a n d r e W r o Wat ( 2 ). I l l u s t r at I o n B y l a u r e n n a s s e F

Trips Out of Town

From left: Japanese restaurant Toriyasu, in gubei; Tianzifang, one of Shanghai’s art and shopping areas; furniture on display at More Less.

Local Take Three insiders reveal their go-to spots in the city. HElEn lEE austin Hu

C l o C K W I s e F r o M t o p l e F t: a l g I r d a s B a K a s ; K y l I e M C l a u g h l I n /g e t t y; W h I t n e y l aW s o n ; C o u r t e s y o F t h e s h a n g h a I p r o pa g a n d a a r t C e n t e r . I l l u s t r at I o n s B y l a u r e n n a s s e F

Chef-owner of Madison and Madi’s

If you’re looking for authentic eats, head to the wonton shop at the corner of Zhaozhou and Hefei Roads, known as guangtou Huntun; you’ll know you’re at the right place by the crowd surrounding the coal-fired kitchen. For the best Japanese food, my favorite places are Kanai Zushi (corner of Xian Xa and Weining Rds.) for quality sushi, Aji no Kura (501 Anlung Rd.; 86-21/62625003) for all my ramen needs, and Toriyasu (20 Shuicheng Rd.; 86-21/6295-8286), which serves excellent yakitori.

Old Shanghai Where to catch a glimpse of the city’s past.

Art Deco Shanghai texan spencer doddington leads in-depth tours of the city’s landmark art deco buildings.

Founder and chief designer for Insh and Helen Lee clothing brands

Don’t miss dinner at Mr. & Mrs. Bund–Modern Eatery by Paul Pairet (—the staff

is knowledgeable and the food delicious; try the steak and foie gras. For something more casual, Yang Fang Hotpot (1 Yueyang Rd.; 86-21/3368-0677) stands out among other hot-pot joints, thanks to its super fresh seafood and vegetables. My studio is in Tianzifang, which is great for anyone interested in getting a taste of real Shanghai. It’s filled with restored lane houses, cafés and old-timers hanging out. Long Bar take in the scene at the 34-meter mahogany bar of the former shanghai Club, now a Waldorf astoria. waldorf

larYs FrogiEr

Director of the Rockbund Art Museum

I love wandering through the showroom at More Less (more-less., a local furniture maker that mixes Chinese style with contemporary design, often using walnut wood. Song Fang Maison du Thé (, in a charming three-story building in the former French Concession, is a wonderful teahouse that carries an infinite variety of blends. Dinner at Cuivre ( is a must. You can’t go wrong with the tuna tartare and warm duck-gizzard salad.

Shanghai Propaganda Art Center discover posters (shown at right) and other relics from the Mao era. shanghaipropaganda

Last Look

Photographed by Putu Sayoga

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

guardians of tradition Abdi Dalem, voluntary royal servants, care for the sultan and safeguard the ancient legends and traditions of the Kraton (palace). through them, Javanese mysticism and culture are carried on in resonant whispers.

Bringing the bounty yogyakarta is governed by a hereditary sultan who demonstrates his largesse three times each year with the Ceremony of grebeg. pakualaman troops distribute food to the people in their ruler’s name.

Clop through the streets the horse-drawn carriage, known as delman or andong, was once used only by nobility, but today is a throwback form of public transport. the traditionally dressed coachman also conjure days long gone.

Two worlds unite through uniforms and history under a treaty with the dutch, the yogyakarta sultanate began in 1755, with hamengku Buwono I as the first head of state. his ninth-generation descendant now rules, protected, as always, by corps of dutiful—and nattily attired—palace troops.


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April 2013  

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia April 2013

April 2013  

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia April 2013