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Southeast asia

february 2018

Himalayan Homecoming

Tasmania

Australia’s Eden

PLUS Saigon Okinawa South Korea

Singapore S$7.90 / Hong Kong HK$43 Thailand THB175 / Indonesia IDR50,000 Malaysia MYR18 / Vietnam VND85,000 Macau MOP44 / Philippines PHP240 Burma MMK35 / Cambodia KHR22,000 Brunei BND7.90 / Laos LAK52,000


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Dear Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia readers,


February

ON THE COVER A nighttime view of Pindar Valley in India’s Himalayas. Photographed by Thomas Cristofoletti.

features 56

A Walk to Remember Rachna Sachasinh returns to the Himalayas to trek the hills of Kumaon. Photographed by Thomas Cristofoletti

66

The Gifts of Earth and Sea Tasmania is a modern-day Eden. By Stephen Metcalf. Photographed by Sean Fennessy

76

c l o c k w i s e F R O M t o p LE F T: t h o m a s c r i s t o f o l e t t i ; m a r c u s n i l s s o n ; m i c h a e l t u r e k ; s e a n f e n n e s s y

56 96 66 86

The Winter of Our Content The German state of Bavaria is the ultimate coldweather playground. By Alex Halberstadt. Photographed by Christian Kerber

86

The Grief and the Glory A new wave of wildlife tourism is bringing visitors to Rwanda. By Aatish Taseer. Photographed by Michael Turek

96

Endless Summer Barbados is a tale of two coasts: the west draws sunseekers, the east adventure lovers. By Marisa Meltzer. Photographed by Marcus Nilsson

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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In Every Issue 

T+L Digital 8 Editor’s Note 10 Contributors 12 The Conversation 16 Deals 51 Wish You Were Here 106

contents

roots and there’s still plenty of gold in its thrilling hills.

Winter Olympics are drawing

24 Away from the Podium The

attention to one of South Korea’s most stunning regions.

emergence of sophisticated

26 Kuta: All Grown Up An

places to sleep, eat and be merry has elevated standards in Kuta, on Lombok.

music-loving millennials, one

30 Party Paradise Targeting

new oceanfront Phuket hotel is making waves.

carts to hole-in-the-wall

32 Six Dishes From street food shophouses, six meals in Bangkok that the Michelin Guide inspectors recently recognized for their quality and value.

abounds in our region, and these

34 Curated Collections Creativity

lively blend of cultures and a laid-back vibe that transcends a tulmultuous history.

winery d’Arenberg debuts their

46 Cubist Period South Australian much-hyped Cube, an interactive tasting and dining complex where reality blurs.

upcoming art fairs and exhibitions are set to inspire.

decades of creative suppression,

35 Underground Uprising Despite

Saigon’s local live music scene is flourishing, fueled by passionate performers and a hint of rebellion.

19

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is a subtropical paradise with a

42 Japan’s Emerald Isle Okinawa

february 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

32

30

46

F R O M LE F T: s t u a r t wa l m s l e y; l e i g h g r i ff i t h s ; c o u r t e s y o f ba ba b e ac h c lu b PHUKET ; l e i g h g r i ff i t h s

has stayed true to its pioneering

19 Risk and Reward Queenstown


t+l digital

+

Lookout

In Search of Tok yo’s Top Izakayas Join some of Hong Kong’s finest chefs and restaurateurs on a sake-soaked crawl through the Japanese capital’s culinary landscape.

50 Tips for Smarter Last-Minute Travel Whether you’re a spontaneous free-spirit or a procrastinator, these travel hacks ensure an amazing trip even if you’ve left the planning to the 11th hour.

Mystery and Majest y in Mrauk-U, Burma Venture way off the welltrodden tourist trail as we uncover the mysteries of an ancient civilization in the country’s northwest.

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february 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

tleditor@ mediatransasia.com

Where (and how) to travel in 2018; introducing the Rosewood Phuket; Saigon’s best new bars; wellness trends to check out this year; the latest travel deals and more. travelandleisureasia.com

fr o m l e f t: s h i n s u k e m at s u k awa ; i l l u s t r at i o n b y c h o t i k a s o p i ta r c h a s a k ; j o n at h a n p o z n i a k

this month on tr avel andleisureasia.com


|

february 2018

he secret is out: Tasmania is a hot spot. And I have mixed emotions about that fact. There once was a time when my friends questioned my visiting the southern Australian island, not once, but twice. But I’m enchanted by the place. So, too, is writer Stephen Metcalf, who in “The Gifts of Earth and Sea” (page 66) broaches the intriguing question of what happens to a place we love when it becomes overly popular? We should want to share our favorite corners of the globe with each other, though surely none of us wants any destination trampled by hordes of other outsiders. Those of us in Asia know this is a continuing battle, on popular resort islands and at important historical sights alike. I’m happy to say that, for now at least, there are few places that match the stillness found midway through a trek of Cradle Mountain or the charms of a weekend spent wining and dining in Hobart, so Tasmania is certainly still worth exploring. Also on a personal journey, one that dates back a lifetime, is Rachna Sachasinh, who returns to her native India to explore the Himalayan foothills north of Dehra Dun, traveling back in the footsteps and memories of her childhood (“A Walk to Remember,” page 56). In doing so, she encounters a younger version of herself who yearns to see beyond the spectacular mountains and valleys of the region. The story is a meditation on what each of us calls home, and will make you want to explore more of the wider world. Most immediate in this issue—read: a potential last-minute trip—is a visit to Pyeongchang, South Korea (“Away from the Podium,” page 24). If it doesn’t ring a bell, remember that the Winter Olympics take place there this month. Only 90 minutes outside of Seoul, this winter landscape is also home to a few worthy non-sporty diversions for those of us who are not world-class athletes.

@CKucway chrisk@mediatransasia.com

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From my travels Come the end of the calendar year, all our travels mesh together so well with the help of social media that I’m amazed by what each of us happens to be doing at one, exact instance. This year, starting at an ungodly hour in Bangkok, I unexpectedly met friends from Denver in the airport. Then it was on to Narita for a brief stop before crossing the Pacific to Vancouver, then Toronto, and eventually touchdown back where I started. After a few trendy Vancouver dining stops and a crossing of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which along with its 600-year-old trees, was draped in Christmas lights, scenes straight out of Stranger Things, my social feeds told many tales. Of friends hiking in California, some sightseeing in chilly London, still others feasting on homemade Indonesian in South Australia and—as if on cue—an Indonesian friend simultaneously enduring and enjoying her first winter in Norway. None of us was lastminute shopping. We were all enjoying the world around us, which is how things should be at any time of year.

fr o m l e f t: Irfa n S a m a r t d e e ; c h r i s t o p h e r k u c way ( 2 )

editor’s note


At Four Seasons, we create beautiful resort settings that allow time for the things that really matter. We know that it's those magical simple pleasures that are most meaningful. We're here to help craft a captivating getaway: one smile, one connection, one moment at a time.

Hoi An, Vietnam


contributors

2

Stuart Walmsley

Rachna Sachasinh

“Risk and Reward” Page 19 — “Resort towns can be a bit soulless, but Queenstown is a diverse, creative, caring community, a place the seasonal worker seems to feel inspired to become a citizen,” Walmsley says. Best meal? “Asparagus soup at Sherwood Queenstown, made of produce picked with chef Kane Bambery that morning. Fresh, simple and absolutely delicious.” And good hiking fuel: “On a tip from a local barman, I started my ascent up Roys Peak at about 3 a.m. All I saw on the trail were a few bleary-eyed sheep, before sharing sunrise with several hardy souls who had camped out at the summit.” Instagram: @stu_walmsley.

“A Walk to Remember” Page 56 — Sachasinh returned to India to hike the Himalayas with Village Ways, a program that “provides viable income in a situation where it is difficult to earn money. Villagers learn English and skills like field botany, guiding, tracking. It is a rare opportunity for women to work outside the home. In a highly regulated caste system, where there is little upward mobility or opportunity to interact with others beyond your own village, this is a big leap. Going back to the region was familiar. It was fun to chat and joke in Hindi. Rural India still feels lodged in the past; I felt like I had gone back in time.” Instagram: @b438.

3

4

Khanh Vu Bao

Veronica Inveen

“Underground Uprising” Page 35 — “The underground music society has always been active in the city. But these days, I see more musicians, artists and indie bands growing the scene rapidly,” says the photographer of the reemergence in Saigon of nhac vang—or sensuous “yellow music,” banned after the war. A pioneer: “Nguyen Hong Giang is some kind of genius. His studio looks like an IT nerd’s room with an old computer, old speakers, an electric music device, a cassette recorder... He made thousands of songs just from that.” Try Yoko Café for music in Saigon; in Hanoi, he picks Hanoi Rock City. Instagram: @baokhanhsquare.

“Party Paradise”

P h o to gr a p h er

3

12

4

W r i t er

W r i t er

Page 30

— Inveen visited the new Baba Beach Club Phuket, “run by a young, stylish team who knows what millennials are looking for when it comes to partying and comforts. They are all passionate about music and well-read on the newest DJs and collaborations. I’d trust any to suggest the best surf spots, coolest hikes or nightclubs. The rooms are all no more than 100 meters from the beach. My favorite meal (and moment of the trip) was a dinner at the Japanese restaurant, where we had Hida beef teppanyaki so soft and full of flavor that you would have thought you were in a five-star restaurant.” Instagram: @veronicainveen.

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f s t u a r t wa l m s l e y; c o u r t e s y o f r a c h n a S a c h a s i n h ; c o u r t e s y o f k h a n h v u b a o ; c o u r t e s y o f v e r o n i c a i n v e e n

2

february 2018

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W r i t er a nd P h o to gr a p h er

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the conversation

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is around the corner and there’s no argument that our region—with its endless white-sand beaches, secluded jungle villas and stunning mountain peaks—is spoiled with choice when it comes to places to snuggle your sweetheart. We’ve rounded up our most romantic ideas from across Asia, guaranteed to make your Valentine swoon.

Romantic Retreats Private Island

Beachside Bliss

Song Saa, Cambodia

Ayana Resort & Spa, Bali

(songsaa.com)

(ayana.com)

Urban Affair

Jungle Escape

Park Hyatt, Tokyo

The Farm in San Benito, Philippines

The number of exchanged vows across the Philippines during annual Valentine’s Day mass wedding ceremonies last year.

(thefarmat sanbenito.com) China drops the most cash on their Valentines in the Asia-Pacific come February 14, spending US$310* per person. *2017 Mastercard Consumer Purchasing Priorities Survey

#TLASIA

A paddleboarding date on the Loboc River in the Philippines. By @alyssa_mackinnon.

Our Top Proposal Spots

Dinner at Ha Long Bay Cave, Vietnam

Helicopter over Mt. Cook, New Zealand

On board a private yacht in Phuket, Thailand

At the top of Sunset Peak, Hong Kong

We’re celebrating the month of love with our readers’ most secluded spots around Asia.

The view of Mt. Fuji at sunset from a private Tokyo rooftop. By @javan.

Thousands of pink lotuses bloom every February at Nong Han Lake, Thailand. By @asiantrailsltd.

Avoiding other tourists at the Jinshanling section of The Great Wall of China. By @barnadrift.

Share an Instagram photo by using the #TLAsia hashtag, and it may be featured in an upcoming issue. Follow @travelandleisureasia

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f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

i l lu st r at i o n by c h ot i k a S o p i ta r c h asa k

(tokyo.park. hyatt.com)

2,400

Women are the gift-givers in Japan on Valentine’s Day, traditionally giving their partners chocolate. Men repay the favor with flowers and gifts on March 14.


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T r av el + l eisu r e

February 2018 Risk and Reward adventure

Queenstown has stayed true to its pioneering roots and there’s still plenty of gold in the region’s thrilling hills.

P h oto C r e d i t T e e k ay

Story and Photogr aphs by Stuart Walmsley

Hiking Roys Peak, an hour from Queenstown.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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/ adventure / to Queenstown in the 1860s to try and strike it rich on New Zealand’s goldfields and, while the commodity may have changed, that pioneering spirit most definitely remains. The world’s unofficial adventure capital now hosts a staggering 3.2 million visitors every year from backpackers to bourgeoisie, combines fast living with rare beauty, and has stayed true to the boom-orbust culture on which it was founded. “This town, I love it, it’s amazing, but it’s a gold rush that never stopped. It was a gold rush that built it, and it’s a gold rush to this day,” reflects Richard Docherty, the Glaswegian owner of popular health-food eatery Rehab (therehabstory.com; mains from NZ$10) and a Queenstown resident of nine years. Docherty is indicative of many Queenstown “locals,” a rather arbitrary term in this part of the world. The resort town’s modern-day pioneers are as international as the original cast of the 19th century and form a surprisingly tight-knit community servicing the steady flow of adventurers, selfie-stick wielding tour groups and holidaying antipodean families. The Scandinavian miners who introduced skiing to the region 150 years ago would be delighted to see the snow sport center it has now become, but likely be quite befuddled by the recent explosion in mountain biking that has helped make shoulder seasons a thing of the past. “It used to be just winter when you saw the casts and ankle injuries, but now it’s all year around,” laughs Rae Ellis, co-owner of Bespoke Kitchen (bespokekitchen.co.nz; mains from NZ$12), named 2016 New Zealand Café of the Year only six months after opening. I find Bespoke’s sun-drenched garden the perfect place to sip coffee and watch the constant parade of sightseers, mountain bikers and other thrillseekers bustle between the center of town and the now 50-year-old Skyline Gondola (skyline.co.nz). The gondola places you atop Bob’s Peak, and is a great way to orient yourself with the town’s dramatic setting amid Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, New Zealand’s first commercial ski field. The December timing of my visit means the snowboard stayed in storage, but summer opens up an even more bewildering array of high-octane activities from river surfing to heli-biking. New Zealander A.J. Hackett started the first commercial bungee jumping Globetrotters first came

from top: One of

the Hydro Attack “sharks” on Lake Wakatipu; looking out over Queenstown from Stratosfare Restaurant, at the top of the Skyline Gondola.


operation here in 1989 and Queenstown is also regarded as the home of jet boating with operators on Lake Wakatipu and the Shotover, Kawarau and Dart Rivers. Centrally located Vertigo Bikes (vertigobikes.co.nz) is the place to start any pedal-powered outing, but I have my eye on a different type of descent. More familiar with the parched earth of outback Australia, I am captivated by the Lord Of The Rings-like landscape of New Zealand’s South Island, and I’m yearning to fly to one of its perilous looking peaks. A Canadian couple kindly allow me to gatecrash a mountain-top photography lesson/ picnic with Heli Glenorchy (heliglenorchy.co. nz) and Paradise Pictures (paradisepictures. co.nz). “There’s no bad time to visit Queenstown, especially if you’re a photographer,” says Laurence Belcher, who runs Paradise Pictures. “All the seasons offer something different, the landscape is always changing. It’s just magic.” Back at a more sensible altitude, I set about enjoying my Kiwi-styled Mexican lunch at Taco Medic (tacomedic.co.nz; mains from NZ$7) while watching various aquatic activities on Lake Wakatipu. By far the weirdest watercrafts are operated by Hydro Attack (hydroattack. co.nz): four semi-submersible “sharks” inspired by a vessel Kiwi designer Rob Innes saw in a Tintin comic. “He [Rob] is part mad scientist, part thrillseeker; he’ll try his hand at anything, an

amazing engineer,” explains head pilot Ruaidhri De Faoite, an Irishman who has been in Queenstown for four years. “To say it’s a modified Jet Ski is a bit of an understatement; the controls are taken from small stunt aircraft and the cockpit glass is from a fighter jet.” Creatively, this is a place with few limits, an attitude clearly evident at community-focused retreat Sherwood Queenstown (sherwoodqueenstown.nz; doubles from NZ$180). The in-room literature asks me to “Be Here Now” and this request is not hard to honor. Staff often visit on their day off to join the relaxed vibe of the midweek market, work on their own projects or attend gigs. The skeleton of the mock-Tudor motor inn that preceded Sherwood has been retained, and other parts of its anatomy repurposed; the walls of the guest rooms are lined with recycled cork panels and ex-Italian army blankets prove perfectly serviceable as curtains. Guests are encouraged to roam the bountiful garden, from which up to 70 percent of the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced, Master of Wine Stephen Wong has created a fascinating guide of all-natural selections, and a nightly campfire provides the opportunity for guests, staff and locals to connect. “We’ve had people through here whose normal accommodation would

clockwise from below: A

mountain biker prepares to descend Coronet Peak; Bespoke Kitchen’s colorful fruit smoothie bowl; Sherwood’s restaurant menu makes use of the hotel’s kitchen garden.

The in-room literature asks me to ‘Be Here Now’ and this request is not hard to honor

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/ adventure / From top: Polished design at

QT Queenstown; Yonder is famous for its specialty coffee and diverse menu; stargazing at Skyline Queenstown.

‘All the seasons offer something different, the landscape is always changing. It’s just magic’

22 

february 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

be a five- or six- star hotel, but the thing that made the experience for them was the ability to sit out there and drink a whiskey and talk to the people that cooked your food and share stories,” explains co-creator Sam Chapman, who made his name overseeing legendary Wellington establishment Matterhorn. “We were surprised by how powerful a simple fire and some stumps can be.” Unconventional in a completely different way is newly opened QT Queenstown (qthotelsandresorts.com; doubles from NZ$319), which boasts unmatched in-room views of The Remarkables in a prime location. QT’s quirky, playful ethos fits the area’s energetic vibe like a comfy ski glove and is perfect for the adventurer who likes a bit of luxury at the end of their zip line. Matched with high-end buffet dining experience Bazaar, mealtimes stimulate all the senses as the international mosaic of flavors combines with the visual pleasure of changing light on the mountains and lake. A retro ski theme prevails throughout, QT’s creative music director Andrew Lewis has crafted a suitably upbeat soundtrack and I highly recommend calling for ice to mix the Karven dry gin-based cocktail that begs to be enjoyed on your balcony upon arrival. Fresh from my own balcony beverage, I float down the hill to a see a Brazilian band at new café/bar Yonder (yonderqt.co.nz, mains from NZ$22), and discover a culinary scene also infused with innovation. As the SouthAmerican chefs lead the samba, head bartender Phil Cooke talks me through his summer selections featuring homemade citrus gels and locally foraged bark, elderflower and chocolate mint.


Marketing and events manager Suzy Larsen explains Yonder is a clean-living concept from Gary Livesey, one of the creators of Queenstown institution The World Bar (theworldbar.co.nz), and swapping teapot tipples for turmeric lattes was something of a necessity. “He [Gary] was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a couple of years ago and a huge part of dealing with that was changing his diet—cutting out gluten and dairy—and he noticed that there wasn’t really anywhere in Queenstown catering to different dietary requirements,” Larsen says. Yonder’s menu is color-coded, denoting whether their dishes are dairy- or gluten-free, vegan, or all three. Another delicious discovery I make during a day trip to nearby Arrowtown is specialty brunch venue The Chop Shop (fb.com/ thechopshopfoodmerchants; mains from NZ$25), a prominent café with rustic décor just like its town. So well preserved are Arrowtown’s original miner’s huts and historic main street that some mistake this picturesque place for a themed village, but digging a little deeper to find this local haunt will bring you pleasantly back to reality. Arrowtown is also home to some of New Zealand’s most expensive real estate and, ironically, the region’s popularity is one of the few things holding it back. Ellis of Bespoke Kitchen relied on local connections to secure an eight-bedroom Queenstown rental home in December, just to retain staff who couldn’t find accommodation in town. But for those not looking to put down roots, this is now a remarkable all-seasons destination. High-quality hotels and cuisine and any number of ways to activate your adrenal gland, all in a community where you can still buy a car on the side of the road or safely hitchhike to work. Sherwood co-creator Chapman, whose dual existence as a strategic planner and communications professional means his consult often extends beyond the retreat, sums up this balancing act: “Resort towns are interesting beasts. They can either go one way and become a cultural doughnut, whereby real life is pushed out to the furthest margins and they become the preserve of the few and the wealthy, or they can really fight to build community and become far more enduring than a postcard existence. I think that’s the choice Queenstown faces and—the encouraging thing is—it seems to be pushing for the right outcome.”

More ways to play in Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools This boutique day-spa experience includes private, cedar-lined pools that overlook the Shotover River canyon. onsen.co.nz; from NZ$95. Remarkables Market A community catch-up, featuring crafts, gifts and fresh produce in a

spectacular location. remarkablespark.com; every Saturday until April 14. Skyline Stargazing Learn about the Southern Hemisphere’s mesmerizing solar system with an expert atop the historic Skyline Gondola. skyline. co.nz; tickets from NZ$93.

from top: The dining room at Bazaar in QT Queenstown has unbeatable views over Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables; a rainbow and sunshower over Queenstown.


/ explore /

Away from the Podium

The Winter Olympics are drawing attention to one of South Korea’s most stunning regions.

takes the spotlight this month when the Winter Olympics kick off February 9. Centered in Pyeongchang, this year’s games will serve as a showcase for the natural beauty, culture and food of the surrounding area, inspiring travelers to explore the region long after the torch is extinguished. Getting there is easy—Pyeongchang is just 90 minutes from Seoul or around two hours from Incheon Airport via high-speed train. Once there, visit Seoraksan National Park (english.knps.or.kr/knp/ seoraksan) to see the majestic Taebaek mountain range. The Sorak cable car transports you to a lookout point and several trailheads; vendors supply

south Korea

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proper South Korean trekking fuel like boxes of kimbap, or rice rolls, and soju. Nearby Woljeongsa Temple (woljeongsa.org) is home to a museum of Buddhist culture from the 10th through the 14th centuries, and offers overnight and weekend stays. In Jeongseon, cavernous coal-mine shafts have been turned into the contemporary art museum Samtan Art Mine (samtanartmine.com), and, on the coast, Haslla Art World (haslla. kr), built by the Korean artist couple Park Shin-Jung and Choi Ok-Yeung, features rotating exhibits and a hotel. Korean barbecue can be had near Pyeongchang, at places like Hanwoo Town (pchw.co.kr), where you can grill

february 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

tender Korean beef and a locally made cheese that’s reminiscent of burrata. In eastern Gangwon, seafood is king: go to the Daepohang Fish Market (64 Daepohang-gil; 82-33/639-2690) in Sokcho for ojingeo sundae, a local favorite consisting of boiled squid stuffed with vermicelli and vegetables, and hwe, raw seafood sliced thin and slathered with fiery chojang sauce. When in doubt about what to eat, a quality haemul jeongol—a brothbased hot pot filled with fresh abalone, mussels and clams as well as noodles, vegetables and tofu—is spicy, nuanced, and unlike anything you will ever taste. — Matt Rodbard

© Sa n ga Pa r k / Dr e a m st i m e . c o m

Woljeongsa Temple among snowy fir trees.


/ emerging /

from top: Mana Retreat

hosts daily drop-in yoga classes; the pool at Mana Retreat is surrounded by a tropical garden.

Kuta: All Grown Up Like the Balinese tourist hub of the same name, Kuta on neighboring Lombok Island is a lightning rod for backpackers. But an emergence of sophisticated places to sleep, eat and be merry has elevated standards on this alluring half-moon bay. Story and photogr aphs by Ian Lloyd Neubauer

MANA RETREAT

After successfully launching Kuta’s first yoga studio, Mana Yoga, in 2015, owners Evelien Beirinckx and Jono Williams decided to take it to the next level—opening Mana Retreat last year. The environmentally focused boutique property is set in a verdant tropical garden replete with thatchroof pavilions, hammocks, the sounds of birdlife and an inviting lagoon pool surrounded by beanbags and daybeds. Offering four daily yoga classes, a spa for Ayurveda and traditional Indonesian treatments, a vegetarian restaurant, indie cinema and accommodation options ranging from deluxe dorms to romantic bungalows, this environmentally conscious resort is as relaxing as you want it to be. Jalan Baturiti, Kuta; manalombok.com; drop-in yoga classes from Rp100,000; doubles from Rp1,200,000. SAPORI ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Pizza joints are a common sight in Kuta, but only one has an authentic clay-brick wood-fired pizza oven: Sapori Italian Restaurant, a double-story 75-seat eatery on Jalan Raya Kuta. Using locally sourced vegetables and seafood >>

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/ emerging /

clockwise from top left:

Kenza’s beachy interiors and superfoods focus make it a relaxed spot; Roman-style pizzas from Sapori’s brick oven; fishing boats set out on Lombok’s Kuta Beach.

plus imported cheeses and cured meats, Sapori’s chefs make authentic Roman-style thin-crust pizza as well as handmade pasta tossed with ragù, pesto, marinara sauce and more. The tiramisu hits the spot for dessert, and there are live acoustic sessions four nights per week. Jalan Raya Kuta; fb.com/saporikutalombok; pizzas Rp70,000–Rp125,000. KEMANGI

One of Lombok’s most elegant places to dine, Kemangi Bar & Kitchen wouldn’t look out of place in Bali’s fashionable Seminyak district. Alongside deluxe bed-and-breakfast

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accommodation, the property’s dining room also has Kuta’s first wine cellar, encased in glass. Holding court in the kitchen is chef I Made Suyana, former executive chef at the Amanjiwo super-luxury resort in Yogyakarta. Suyana oscillates between Western dishes like slowcooked lamb shank and Asian favorites like green papaya salad with prawns. Wash it down with a Kuta Breeze, a cocktail of vodka, bourbon and freshly squeezed juices, or a Kemangi Kolada, a house-take on the original recipe, which adds coconut and pineapple liqueur to the mix. Jalan Parawisata Pantai Kuta, Kuta;

february 2018 / tr av el andleisure asia .com

kemangilombok.com; mains Rp115,000–Rp230,000; doubles from Rp800,000. KENZA

From the team behind El Bazar, a Moroccan-themed restaurant consistently ranked high on TripAdvisor’s top five places to eat in Lombok, and Krnk, Kuta’s premiere burger bar, comes Kenza, a café, art space and barefoot boutique. In a whitewashed plantation house with candy-colored shutters and braided seashell lamps, the chefs at Kenza dish up hipster-style grub as well as gentrified versions of Indonesian staples—their nasi goreng is topped with a perfectly poached egg. Among ginger elixir shots, smoothies enriched with superfoods like hemp protein and maca powder, and smashed avocado on toast with applewood-smoked, cured beef, there’s also their take on the traditional rijstaffel. The generous feast of curries, satays, vegetables, rice and tropical fruit is a spread best shared. Jalan Raya Kuta, Kuta; mains from Rp60,000.


Inspiring destinations that feed your Quest for Life.


/ beach /

Party Paradise This new, music-focused, Phuket resort is making waves with millennials. By Veronica Inveen quality is probably not the first thing on the checklist when booking a hotel, but if it were, Baba Beach Club Phuket would score full marks. The millennialfocused resort starts their party with a Funktion-One sound system, top-tier technology used at world-class music events. Overseen by eight of the resort’s two-story villas, the action converges by the pool, where a mirrored bar, which doubles as a giant disco ball, hosts local and international DJs. Bikini-clad loungers float on inflatable flamingos, waiting for sundown with tropical cocktails amid cool beats. Envisioning Ibiza? The Spanish party island was inspiration for Vorasit Issara, 35, owner and managing director of Sound system

FROM TOP: Sunset at Baba Beach Club; floating away the afternoon; DJs play every weekend.

MORE PHUKET hot SPOTS

past, with circular archways, patterns of dragons and clouds, and lots of colors. Rooms feature Bose stereos and iPods preloaded with playlists—in line with Issara’s musical mission. Sending the party closer to Bangkok, Baba Beach Club Hua Hin opened last October. While the Hua Hin property, a three-hour drive from the capital, is more laid-back (think jazz, soul and live music), in Phuket, house tunes rule, with Sundays dedicated to a public pool party. There are plenty of events and festivals to come this year, just follow the music. bababeachclub.com; doubles from Bt11,034.

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Café Del Mar The second branch of iconic Ibiza venue Café Del Mar, the Phuket spot sits right on Kamala Beach. The sleek bar is decked with hanging palms and bamboo interiors, and the nightly pool party draws a crowd. cafedelmarphuket.com; drinks from Bt240. Catch Beach Club One of Phuket’s favorite cocktail spots, Catch Beach Club, moved to a new location in 2016. Now holding fort at Bangtao Bay, the club remains as sexy as ever with all white décor and neon lights. catchbeachclub.com; drinks from Bt290. Kudo Beach Club Patong is better known for its bucket drinks and bottom-shelf shots, but Kudo Beach Club is setting a new tone for the notorious party town. Luxe cabanas, attentive staff and mojitos on deck make an elevated retreat from Patong’s mayhem. kudophuket.com; drinks from Bt290.

c o u rt esy o f ba ba b e ac h c lu b PHUKET ( 3 )

the oceanfront spot he calls “a music lover’s hotel.” Baba Beach Club melds its sexy, youthful attitude and entertainment factor with the luxury and service of its sister property Sri Panwa, the acclaimed all-villa resort on the island’s south. That includes a booze-soaking menu stocked with all of Sri Panwa’s signatures (try the tom yum pizza) and a sushi bar boasting melt-in-your-mouth Hida Wagyu striploin. Baba’s 16 villas and suites, as well as two super-sleek five-bedroom beachfront mansions, draw inspiration from Phuket’s Sino-Portuguese


The Italian Connection

IN BANGKOK, FIND THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST OF ITALY AT LA BOTTEGA DI LUCA DON’T YOU LOVE IT WHEN THE BEST INGREDIENTS COME IN

such a beautifully unpretentious package? Tucked away on the most inviting terrace in Bangkok, you’ll find La Bottega di Luca, a veritable larder of the tastiest products from across Italy and Europe, hand-sourced from small suppliers whose love of food is a way of life. Charming and effervescent chef-owner Luca Appino has dedicated years of research to studying Italian ingredients, cultivating relationships with pasta-making nonnas in tiny villages and fishmongers in the most bountiful waters to bring the best of Italy back to Bangkok. Among the premium, D.O.C. delights on the menu are Fassona from Piedmont, pistachio from Bronte, Mulino

Marino flour for the homemade breads and pastas, mullet roe bottarga from Sardinia, and burrata from Andria in Puglia. Talented and amiable chef Andrea Ortu combines them into savory, hearty works of art on a plate—marketfresh rustic Italian infused with pan-Mediterranean influences and his special Sardinian touch. La Bottega (Italian for “Atelier”) has a cozy indoor space adorned with wooden floors and warm walls, and a lovely 14-seat private dining ‘wine’ room. Personally, though, we prefer to settle into the leather sofas on the sultry, candlelit terrace, glass of prosecco in hand while perusing the seasonal menu. No matter what you order, the whole experience at La Bottega is sure to be transportive.

www.labottega.name | Facebook: BOTTEGABKK | Twitter: @BOTTEGABKK | Instagram: @LABOTTEGABANGKOK Address: Sukhumvit Soi 49, Terrace 49 2nd fl, Bangkok 10110, Thailand | Phone: +66 2 204 1731


/ six dishes / Han Paloe (braised goose) at Tung Sui Heng Pochana. This family-run shophouse is known for its fragrant braised goose, slowly stewed in a clay pot and served with a tangy pickled chili sauce. Order a side of noodles to mix into the rich, spiced broth. 528/45 Rama 4 Rd., Bang Rak; 66-2/2340084; mains Bt50–Bt500.

Hoi thod (fried oyster pancake) at Nai Mong Hoi Tod. This Chinatown stall has been dishing out some of the most beloved oyster pancakes in the city for the past 30 years. Choose from crispy (awlua) or soft (awsuan) and be sure to dip in the accompanying bowl of tangy chili sauce. 539 Phlapphla Chai Rd., Pom Prap Sattru Phai; 66-89/773-3133; mains from Bt100.

Bangkok Bib Gourmands Michelin Guide inspectors trawled the city for its best fine dining, but they also recognized 35 Bib Gourmands—good value, consistently quality meals. Several holesin-the-wall made the list, teeing up a great primer on Bangkok street food. Here are six of our favorites. By Eloise Basuki. photogr aphs by leigh griffiths

Jok Moo (pork rice porridge) at Jok Prince. This Charoen Krung Road shophouse is a popular breakfast stop for a bowl of warm rice porridge with pork meatballs. Stir in a raw egg and top with ginger. 1391 Charoen Krung Rd., Bang Rak; 66-89/795-2629; mains from Bt40.

Guay tiew luk chin pla (noodles

with fish balls) at Lim Lao Ngow. A 60-year-old stall, it’s known for firm, bouncy fish balls made from freshly pureed fish. Even with six modern branches, the original stall is as popular as ever. In front of 299-301 Song Sawat Rd., Samphanthawong; 66-81/ 640-4750; mains from Bt40.

Moo krob (crispy pork) at Guay Gai tod (fried chicken) at Polo Fried Chicken. This 50-year-old restaurant on the eastern side of Lumphini Park serves a long menu of spicy Isaan delights, but it’s the freshly fried chicken topped with crispy garlic that has garnered the spot a cult following. Order half or—go on—a whole chicken with sticky rice and som tum (papaya salad). 137/1-2 Soi Polo, Pathum Wan; 66-2/6558489; mains from Bt150.

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Jub Mr. Joe. Said to serve the crispiest pork belly in Bangkok, this is the place to try their addictively crunchy version in guay jub, the peppery ricenoodle soup with pork organs. Be sure to order an extra plate of moo krob, served with a sweet soy dipping sauce. 46 Soi Chan 44, Bang Kho Laem; 66-2/2133007; mains from Bt50.


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/ art /

Curated Collections

Kyotographie

Beyond its iconic sea of spring blossoms there’s another reason to book a trip to Kyoto this April: Kyotographie, its annual international photography festival. Taking over some of the city’s most elegant, historic buildings and modern architectural spaces, this year’s theme is “Up,” encouraging us to look up despite negative global issues, and change the world through awareness, action and creation. Visitors can browse works from Japanese photographers Masahisa Fukase and Izumi Miyazaki (pictured) as well as avant-garde French photographer Jean-Paul Goude, who will be exhibiting a special collaboration with Chanel. kyotographie.jp; April 4–May 13; tickets ¥4,000.

Art Fair Philippines

After 2017’s Art Fair Philippines broke attendance records, this year’s sixth show promises to be even bigger. The best of contemporary Philippine art will be on show across the entire six levels of The Link in Makati’s parking lot, with 51 galleries exhibiting their works including 1335Mabini (1335mabini.com), MO_Space (mo-space.net), Tin-aw Art Gallery (tin-aw.com) and Altro Mondo (altromondo.ph). New to the 2018 Art Fair will be the introduction of ArtFairPh/Photo, a dedicated photography section with booths curated by Manila-based photographer Neal Oshima and Filipino-American filmmaker Angel Velasco Shaw. artfairphilippines.com; March 1–4; tickets P300.

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Art Basel Hong Kong

Armed with the premier name of one the world’s best art fairs, Art Basel Hong Kong is a must-visit event for creatives and collectors around the region; the sixth edition will host 248 galleries from 32 countries next month. Twenty-four Hong Kong galleries will be represented, including the Chinese contemporary gallery Alisan Fine Arts (alisan.com.hk) and photography-focused Blindspot Gallery (blindspotgallery.com). The Insights sector will exhibit special projects by Asia-Pacific artists; see historic works by the pioneers of Taiwanese Modern art under the Cold War era—Chu Weibor and Fong Chung Ray—and a project by Indian artist Vivek Vilasini about pollution in New Delhi. artbasel.com/ hong-kong; March 29–31; tickets from HK$300.

Bangkok’s First Biennale Art-lovers should schedule a trip to the Thai capital this winter, as Bangkok prepares its inaugural international biennale in November. Including high-profile advisors from the Guggenheim Museum, The National Art Gallery in Singapore and Saatchi Gallery in London, the event will put the city firmly on the map as a modern art destination. bkkartbiennale.com.

fr o m to p : c o u rt esy o f a rt bas e l ; c o u rt esy o f k yoto g r a p h i e ; c o u rt esy o f a rt fa i r p h i l i p p i n es

Creativity abounds in our region and these upcoming art fairs and exhibitions are set to inspire. By Eloise Basuki


/ discovery /

Underground Uprising Despite decades of censorship and creative suppression, Duncan Forgan finds Saigon’s local live music scene is flourishing, fueled by passionate performers and a hint of rebellion. Photogr aphed by Khanh Vu Bao

Jase Nguyen, founder of The Beats Saigon, says the city’s essential musicality helps its scene thrive.

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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/ discovery / Down a side street in Saigon’s Phu Nhuan district, the day is unfolding to a very Vietnamese soundtrack. Jackhammers provide abstract rhythmic punctuation to a background thrum of motorbike engines and a frontline of chorusing food vendors.

FROM LEFT: Nguyen

Hong Giang in his home studio; the equipment Giang used to create more than 1,000 songs.

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As I enter the family home of Nguyen Hong Giang—one of the city’s most exciting young underground producers and musicians—the melodies begin to take sharper focus. In the downstairs parlor, Giang’s mother is watching an episode of Bolero Idol: a reality TV show where young singers perform updated takes on the gentle love songs popular in the south of the country before the fall of Saigon in 1975. Upstairs, her son is creating an altogether more radical form of musical alchemy. “I call this my crazy music,” laughs the bespectacled 25-year-old. He closes the door of his home studio and cranks up the volume on a dark, atonal track piece of electronica far removed from the swaying sounds of old Saigon. “I won’t make any money from this—absolutely zero,” Giang says of the track, one of more

f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

than 300 experimental compositions he has laid down. “It’s just a big deal for me to do whatever pleases me.” Fortunately, he is blessed with a work ethic that makes him stand out even among the famously tenacious Vietnamese. So far, he has written more than 1,000 songs and his collaborations have seen him mastermind local YouTube sensations in an array of genres ranging from dubstep to hip-hop. “The pay is better if you are good at everything,” he says with a wink. This eclecticism is symbolic of a local underground music climate of surprising diversity. “It is sometimes easy to forget that Vietnam was effectively shut off from outside influences for 20 years following the end of the war,” says Liem Hieu, lead guitarist in experimental psychedelic rock band Cat Pylon. “Fortunately, the growth of social media and the rise of platforms such as YouTube have made it easier to access new music and make links to other artists.”


The renaissance of Saigon as a music town re-establishes a link to a time when it was one of the most febrile creative climates in the region. Indeed, the scene in the city has come a long way since the days following reunification when the sensuous, romantic nhac vang (yellow music) or bolero popular in Saigon was outlawed. For years the triumphalist, militaristic strains of nhac do (red music) was the only style permitted by authorities and the city’s rich legacy was largely left to wither on the vine. Such restrictions have long since been lifted and a burgeoning crop of venues including the Old Compass Cafe (fb.com/oldcompasscafe), Yoko (fb.com/yokocafesaigon) and Indika (fb.com/indikasaigon) provide a showcase for local talents such as solo artists David Tran and Thanh Luke, and bands like Tofu, Ca Hoi Hoang, Gac Mai and Bet. Meanwhile, the popularity of shows such as Bolero Idol and Solo With Bolero with audiences both young and old—“I sometimes watch it with my mother,” Giang admits—speaks of a reconnection among Saigonese with classic song-writing smarts. Yet perhaps the most striking aspect of the contemporary Saigon music scene is how broad-ranging it is: with guitar-led alternative rock bands rubbing shoulders with homegrown hip-hop crews, death metal bands and left field DJs and electronic artists.

Especially potent, according to many of the scene’s insiders and observers, is the work emanating from the local hip-hop community. Vietnam’s hitherto unheralded hip-hop scene achieved global prominence in 2016 when one of its stars, Saigon rapper Suboi, gave an impromptu performance to then-U.S. president Barack Obama during his visit to the country. That attention-grabbing spotlight was the tip of an iceberg that encompasses creative rap crews such as Hazard Clique and G Family and solo artists like Wowy Nguyen and Son Nguyen. “I’m really happy about the development of hip-hop in Vietnam,” says Attiss Ngo, a producer and musician whose lush soundscapes clockwise FROM LEFT:

High-quality turntables at music shop Gia Dinh Audio; Cat Pylon get creative at home; live music venue Old Compass Cafe.


/ discovery /

‘There are some really good MCs appearing and the Vietnamese language is great for rap’ FROM left:

Producer and musician Attiss Ngo is known for his futuristic electronic tunes.

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juxtapose classical elements with analogue electronic beats. “There are some really good MCs appearing and the Vietnamese language is great for rap.” In fact, the subtle nuances of hip-hop lyricism offer Vietnamese writers a rare opportunity for subversion. Although the country has opened in many ways, government control—and censorship—remains strict. By utilizing metaphors and language quirks, rappers can get away with talking about still-taboo subjects like sex, drugs and politics. “Vietnamese people don’t always have the chance to express themselves freely,” says Adrian Rodgers a.k.a. “Pain” of Hazard Clique. “So, what better way of doing it than hip-hop? Whichever element of it.” Of course, in any nascent scene there are teething problems—and Saigon’s contingent

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of promoters, musicians and venue owners have had to contend with numerous setbacks in recent years. A shortage of quality venues is a common gripe, with instances such as the forced closure of Cargo—a former shipping warehouse by the Saigon River that, in its brief existence, hosted international acts such as Steve Aoki, The Cribs and The Vaccines among others—cited as a prime example of the challenges faced in the underground music scene achieving lift-off. As some doors close, however, others swing open. New live music haunts in Saigon include Piu Piu (fb.com/piupiusaigon), a bar/club that ranges over three floors right next to the city’s iconic opera house, and Shaka (fb.com/shakasaigon), a hub for beats and electronica in the backpacker district. What’s more, scene insiders believe the city’s inherent musicality will help it remain impervious to meddlesome stick-in-the-muds or rapacious developers. “There’s music everywhere in the city; it’s part of our daily life,” says Jase Nguyen, founder of The Beats Saigon, which has been organizing music events in the city for almost 11 years, bringing international acts such as legendary hip-hop figurehead DJ Premier to the city. “Whether it is people singing karaoke loud at night, music blasting from shops, funerals singing loudly until the wee, small hours. In Saigon, we use music as a form of escape and celebration.” Back in Phu Nhuan, Nguyen Hong Giang is applying the finishing touches to another track. As a lolloping R and B rhythm pounds through the speakers, he fiddles with his sampler and punches in the ghostly echo of a traditional guitar arpeggio: the eerie Asian tones providing a counterpoint to the dance floor-ready programmed beats. It’s still very Vietnamese— just perhaps not as you might expect.


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HEAD FOR THE MOUNTAINS

TREASURES NEAR TOKYO

BOTH THE LUSH GREENS OF TAMA AND THE PRISTINE BLUES OF HACHIJOJIMA OFFER AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT BACKDROP TO THE URBAN HUES OF TOKYO, AND IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO DISCOVER THEM YOURSELF.

You may not have heard of Tama, but it’s a rural wonderland with majestic mountains and traditional culture about two hours from either Tokyo station or Shinjuku station on the JR Chuo Line. Among the rivers and mountains, it’s in Tama that you’ll feel the power of nature along walking paths that take in clear streams, surprising waterfalls and mysterious limestone caves. The sheer beauty of the Tama area has the power to overwhelm visitors. Enjoy the springtime cherry blossoms while cycling along the Tama River, while carpets of tulip fields are also common. Rarer but no less beautiful are white dogtooth violets. Living in harmony with nature is a Japanese trait, one best seen in this land that is covered with forests that are alive at every turn. There are even “therapy roads” where hikers can enjoy the healing power of Tama’s towering trees. Hot springs, secluded meditation retreats and relaxing at a traditional private home native to this region, are all ways to slow down in Tama. But don’t forget that nature is meant to be enjoyed as well as appreciated. Canyoning or rafting in the summer months are perfect for more active visitors, so

how you enjoy Tama’s wilderness is up to you. Fresh greens of spring, clear blue skies of summer, autumn vividly changing colors and snowy winter landscapes, this shifting scenery. Mount Mitake is now a popular spot for mountain climbing. Between April and October, canyoning, or descending a mountain stream simply with the flow of the water is popular. Mountain stream fishing, kayaking, whitewater rafting and canoeing are all also very popular, the variety of outdoor activities being suitable for any level of adventure. What each has in common is that allows visitors to interact with the scenic beauty of Tama, its mountains, forests and waterways. At the end of each activity, enjoy a BBQ. Wasabi is an indication of how pristine the waters of Tama are. The plant, a key to Japanese cuisine, grows here. Both the Tama and Akigawa rivers flow from the mountains here, which explains why the region’s specialty foods include soba noodles, tofu and sake: the preparation of each requires the best quality water. Mountains here act as a natural filtration system but, come springtime, also provide the freshest of vegetables, a fine complement to local flavorful fish.


HACHIJOJIMA, A TOKYO ISLAND

For a real getaway from the mainland of Japan and the bustle of Tokyo, why not head to the tropical paradise of Hachijojima? Arriving on an overnight ferry, the first thing to do is enjoy the waters of “Hachijo Blue.” The crystalclear ocean here means you can swim with any number of migratory fish and sea turtles. Back on land, a great way to explore is on a bicycle. Take in the botanical gardens here, roll into small villages but be sure to pedal back to the lavaformed beach for sunset. The luxuriant forest on the island means meandering trails through tall trees, streams of cool water and more birdsong than you ever imagined. Breathe in the fresh air, whether it’s in the forest or ocean side, and you’ll quickly brush aside the stress of modern life.

Come nightfall, Hachijojima is the best seat in the ocean to absorb a dazzling array of stars that fill the sky. To the naked eye, it’s a stunning sight, but with the help of locals, the cosmos is even more unforgettable. There’s much more to enjoy. Have you ever walked behind a waterfall, fully immersing yourself in the wonderfully crashing water? On Hachijojima, you’ve got the chance to do just that. After all this activity, treat yourself to a soak in an open-air bath,

easing your body and mind into an island mindset. Afterwards, don’t forget that the central part of the island is home to restaurants, cafes and gift shops well worth a look. Hachijojima can be reached by air in less than an hour from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport or by large passenger ship from Tokyo’s Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal.

A_ ヨコ

FOR MORE INFORMATION | http://tamashima.tokyo/en/ | https://tokyotokyo.jp/


/ spotlight /

Japan’s Emerald Isle

On Okinawa, Akemi Johnson discovers a subtropical paradise with a lively blend of cultures and a laid-back vibe that transcends its tumultuous history. that buildings and rivers are often obscured by its profusion of greenery. Along the coasts, tourists swim in aquamarine waters. All this natural beauty may surprise anyone who associates Okinawa with World War II, when invading Americans bombed its terraced fields and wild forest down to the dirt. Okinawa is the largest of the 160 islands, most of them unpopulated, that are between the Japanese mainland and Taiwan, collectively forming the country’s southernmost prefecture. The archipelago, also named Okinawa, was an independent kingdom until Japan overthrew its monarch in the late 19th century. An era of U.S. military rule followed World War II, with Americans bulldozing homes and farms to build bases, which remained after the islands were returned to Japan in 1972. Many locals continue to protest their presence. Traveling the roughly 110 kilometers south to north along the narrow main island, I experienced what brings more and more visitors to Okinawa: subtropical beauty, a leisurely pace, and a rich mix of indigenous Okinawan, mainland Japanese and American influences. Of course, the island is also suffused with its troubled past. The Battle of Okinawa wiped out up to a third of the civilian population. The haunting Himeyuri Peace Museum (himeyuri.or.jp), at the island’s southern tip, recounts the three months of horror through the story of local schoolgirls conscripted to be nurses for Japanese soldiers. Nearby, Peace Memorial Park (sp.heiwa-ireiokinawa.jp) sits on manicured grounds in the area where the fighting culminated. The park’s museum (peace-museum.pref.okinawa.jp) chronicles the war in chilling detail.

from top:

Okinawa’s waters are sparkling blue; retro goodies from American Wave.

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fr o m to p : SHINSUKE M ATSUKAWA ; c o u rt esy o f a m e r i ca n wav e

Okinawa is so lush


c lo c k w i s e fr o m to p l e f t : H i r o S h i oz a k i ( 2 ) ; c o u rt esy o f H i lto n O k i n awa C h ata n R es o rt

clockwise from above left:

Limpid serves French-style dishes on Virginia Street; a slice of subtropical scenery at Yanbaru Forest; the Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort.

I was shaken by these sites, so a meal at

Yama-no-chaya Rakusui (yama.hamabe​no​

chaya.com; prix fixe lunch ¥1,350), a short drive away, felt like a salve. I sipped guava juice and ate chewy peanut tofu, sitting at a window overlooking the sea. Families hunted for shells in the tide pools below. The 27-year American occupation wasn’t easy for Okinawans, who struggled with poverty, loss of land, and a lack of constitutional rights. Knowing this makes the pockets of quirky Americana that dot the island all the more baffling. The 1950s and 60s seem to be seared into the collective memory as a golden age of classic cars and Coca-Cola. On the coast overlooking the East China Sea, American Village (okinawa-americanvillage. com) is a theme-park version of the U.S. where visitors can ride a Ferris wheel and snap photos with a human-size Statue of Liberty. The

nearby American American (3-6-6 Mihama, Chatan-Cho; mains ¥1,130–¥2,260), owned by a middle-aged Okinawan couple, mimics a 1950s hole-in-the-wall diner, right down to the canned carrots and peas. “For Okinawa, the U.S. is an enigmatic figure,” said Hideki Yoshikawa, an anthropologist who is fighting to stop construction of a base near his home. On the one hand, he explained, the United States represents oppression. On the other, it’s a country founded on democracy and freedom—the same ideals activists like himself struggle for. I considered this as I visited Minatogawa Stateside Town (minatogawa-shop.r-cms.biz). Tucked away amid modern apartment buildings in the city of Urasoe, the neighborhood of boxy, concrete houses was built for American military families. Over the past decade, a private developer turned the residences into shops and restaurants, with signs that depict drive-in waitresses and old-time Chevys. The quiet streets are named after American states. On Virginia Street, I ate tender grilled tuna and vegetables at Limpid (limpid39.com; prix fixe from ¥2,942), where chef Yutaka Wakabayashi prepares local ingredients using French techniques. On Florida Street, I read

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/ spotlight / With its white sand and coconut trees, Okinawa checks all the vacation boxes Yanbaru Discovery Forest (atabii.jp; doubles from ¥12,445), a former military camp that’s now a cozy lodge with environmental education facilities. I hiked among the trees without seeing another person. Instead, I spotted orange beetles clustered on wide leaves; a tusked wild boar; and the endangered Okinawan rail, a flightless bird native to the main island with bright-red feet and striped plumage. That evening I soaked in the center’s open-air bath, turned more curative with the addition of an enormous herbal tea bag. The drone of cicadas rose and fell in waves, and puffs of mist lifted off the treetops like campfire smoke. I thought about how landscapes are continually remade, even when the past refuses to fade away.

American Village is a theme park built on an old U.S. Forces airfield.

© Kr i sa da Wa k aya b u n / Dr e a m st i m e . c o m

century-old postcards at the vintage shop American Wave (americanwave.jp). Owner Chris Towe, one of Okinawa’s many American expats, first came to the island as a tourist, then came back for good because the laid-back atmosphere reminded him of his native Kentucky. With his shop, he tries to present the “good parts” of the U.S., he says—“the past, basically.” The present, with its political headlines? “I don’t want to tackle that.” With its white sand and coconut trees, Okinawa’s western coast checks all the beachvacation boxes. Massive new properties like the Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort (hilton.com; doubles from ¥39,600), next door to American Village, have opened in recent years, along with mom-and-pop options, like the charming two-room Wassa Wassa (wassa-okinawa.com; doubles from ¥26,800). At Okuma Private Beach & Resort (okumaresort.com; doubles from ¥29,980), my room needed some updating, but the large swath of beach bordered a bowl of blue-green ocean. Travelers often stick to the coastal areas, which means that the Yanbaru, Okinawa’s northerly expanse of dense evergreen forest, remains off the radar. The U.S. Marine Corps controls a chunk of these woods, but I didn’t sense its presence during my stay at the

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The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is a pocket-sized pro. When a trip spans everything from adventure to art, landscapes to lifestyle, we need a camera that is rugged yet sleek, and packs a lot of power into portable package. Hats off to the PowerShot G1 X Mark III. This compact Canon camera boasts an APS-C sensor, its 9 frames per second burst shooting can freeze moments, and we can easily toss all our great photos up on social media using its wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Photographer Lee Seo Jin Ann toted one around South Korea, and came back raving about its strength and versatility—especially day-to-night. “With just half-down exposure, I could prevent the sky from looking blown out by even the harshest midday sun,” she said. “Photos taken during the evening had minimal noise and minimal reduced sharpness.” With its flip LCD screen preventing glare from the sun, and a large enough focal range for stellar landscapes, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III proved an invaluable adventure travel companion. “The weight and feel of the camera are great. The portable size allows it to be brought anywhere, stored in pockets or carried around the wrist,” she said. “The 9fps shooting allows you to capture movement. The girls in the hanbok, for example, were walking.” And with this camera, any day is a beautiful one for a stroll.

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/ day trip /

Cubist Period

Fourteen years in the making and with a price tag of more than A$14 million, historic South Australian winery d’Arenberg has finally opened their muchhyped Cube, a five-story interactive tasting and dining complex where reality blurs.

by Eloise Basuki Photogr aphs by Leigh Griffiths

Endless vineyard views from the restaurant. below: The d’Arenberg Cube.

isn’t afraid to confuse you. Beyond the cryptic label names of his d’Arenberg wines (for example, The Cenosilicaphobic Cat, named after Osborn’s teetotal feline named Booze), the fourthgeneration winemaker has opened the doors to his most puzzling project yet, the d’Arenberg Cube. Looming over the original 1912 McLaren Vale winery, just a 30-minute drive from Adelaide and an iconic piece of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, the multi-level cellar door, restaurant, function center and interactive gallery is designed in the shape of a Rubik’s Cube. “The building comes from the idea that our label names are such a puzzle to work out, and wine is such a puzzle to work out. So, what’s the most iconic puzzle? A Rubik’s Cube,” says Osborn, who designed the five-story building himself. The Cube’s exterior is wrapped in another geometric mind-twister, while the building’s mirrored bottom layer reflects the surrounding Mourvèdre vines, conjuring the effect that the Cube is floating. >>

Winemaker Chester Osborn

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/ day trip / It’s an experience from beginning to end. The pathway is lined with six speakers that play soundscapes created from the local weather station; Osborn has built the very first automated natural winemaker, so you can smell wine maturing as you enter the door; peep holes peer into a six-hour film of the winemaker having a party with his friends; Osborn’s personal art collection is on display under a rooftop of red plastic balls, making it feel like you’re in a barrel of grapes; the 360-degree cinema room tells the d’Arenberg story and the history of its labels; and an aroma room covered in plastic fruit has smelling jars filled with aromatics such as cherries, cloves, honey and oak—notable characters in d’Arenberg’s wines. “The whole gallery is an alternate reality. We’ve turned the weather into sound, there’s the reverse perspective art as you walk in and the peep show that isn’t actually there,” Osborn says. “It shows how your senses can be changed just by the environment you’re in. When you drink one wine and have another wine straight after it, you’re going to be altered by that.” Above this Willy Wonka–like gallery, there’s room for sophistication, too. The third floor reveals an open kitchen helmed by South African husband and wife Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Dürr, who cook modern tasting menus for the softly lit dining space above. The top level has a state-of-the-art tasting room, with endless views of McLaren Vale’s rolling vineyards and the sparkling blue waters of the Fleurieu coast. “The tasting room at d’Arenberg has been full for the past 13 years,” Osborn says. “Something bigger like this has been in the back of my mind for many years. It offers a completely different experience.” Puzzles like this are a joy to work out. d’Arenberg winery; darenberg.com.au/cube; cellar door open daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; cellar door entry is A$10 per person and includes a standard tasting; restaurant open for lunch, Thursdays–Sundays; tasting menus from A$150.

The gallery’s red light emulates a wine barrel.

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from top:

The Willunga Farmers Market; fishing off Sellicks Beach.

More Fleurieu Delights Off Piste 4WD Tours Jump into McLaren Vale tour guide Ben Neville’s four-wheel drive as he leads you through the best local secrets of the region. His Fork and Grape tour includes a picnic in the Onkaparinga Gorge, behind-thescenes cellar door tastings and a drive along the pristine Sellicks Beach. offpistetours.com. au; eight-hour tour A$299.

Willunga Farmers Market Every Saturday more than 80 farmers and producers gather at the Willunga Town Square to sell their best Fleurieu fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, homemade sauces and fresh pastries. Bull Creek Bakery’s venison pie, and Lavender brownies from Fleurieu Lavender are popular picks. willungafarmers​ market.com.au.

Pizzateca Sliding authentic Italian pizzas from their woodfire pizza oven, the Mitolo family’s new pizza house is now an essential lunch stop when touring the Vale. The family’s Mitolo & Sons wines are available exclusively to drink here, and don’t leave without trying nonna Mitolo’s tiramisu. pizza-teca. com; mains from A$20.

Blessed Cheese Serving all-day breakfast and an excellent coffee, this popular café is the starting point of the McLaren Vale Cheese and Wine Trail, a progressive picnic that matches local cheeses and gourmet produce to four of the region’s best cellar doors. blessedcheese.com. au; mains from A$14; Cheese and Wine Trail hampers A$25 per person.


Aaron Kaupp keeps the world moving “From my first ILTM show in 2003 it has ever since been on my yearly calendar to attend as it is the epitome of shows in the travel industry. It enables us to meet with the best in the industry and is vital to our business.” Aaron Kaupp, Directeur Général, Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris #keeptheworldmoving www.iltm.com


/ upgrade /

DEALS | t+l reader specials

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These vacation deals include idyllic island retreats in Thailand and Indonesia, and a very special, romantic weekend in the Maldives.

A Panorama Tented Pool villa at 9Hornbills.

9Hornbills, Koyao Island Resort Do Valentine’s Day a little different this year with a romantic stay in one of the luxury tented villas at 9Hornbills, a secluded part of Koyao Island Resort on Koh Yao Noi. Spend three nights in a Panorama Tented Pool villa, with 180-degree panoramic views of Phang Nga Bay, and you’ll be treated to welcome drinks; a 60-minute body massage; candlelit dinner with a bottle of sparkling wine; in-villa floating breakfast; and return transfers from the airports at Phuket or Krabi. The Deal Valentine’s Day Special: a night in a Panorama Tented Pool villa, from Bt25,000, through March 31. koyao.com. Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort Soak up the sun by the sparkling waters of the Andaman Sea with a loved-up weekend on the famed Thai isle of Phi Phi with this special offer. Book two nights at this beachfront resort, and you and your sweetheart will receive daily breakfast; return transfers from Phuket to the resort; a candlelit dinner with a bottle of wine; and a 60-minute massage. You’ll also get free Wi-Fi, and welcome fruit and a drink on arrival. The Deal Phi Phi Romance package: a night in a Beachfront Junior suite, from Bt35,000, through October 31. phiphiislandvillage.com. MALAYSIA

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Plan an island escape up to 14 days in advance and you’ll save 15 percent off stays at this premium Seminyak spot. The five-star resort will also treat you to daily breakfast at Grow restaurant, airport pickup, an indulgent one-hour Balinese massage at L’Spa, 24-hour butler service and more. The Deal Advance Purchase Promo: a night in a Lifestyle suite, from US$127, through December 31. thelhotels.com.

Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur Choose a five-star urban escape for your love-filled getaway with the Romantic Rendezvous package from the Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur. Watch the sun set over the Malaysian capital from your Deluxe City View room before heading down >>

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/ upgrade / to The Mandarin Grill for a four-course dinner. After your meal, settle into the night with a butler-drawn aromatherapy bath. You’ll also receive a spectacular floral bouquet along with sparkling rosé and heart-shaped rose-flavored macarons. The Deal Romantic Rendezvous package: a night in a Deluxe City View room, from RM1,089, through December 29. mandarinoriental.com. maldives

Hurawalhi Spoil your partner with a stay at Hurawalhi resort, nestled among the coral reefs of the Maldives’ Lhaviyani Atoll. Spend four or five nights in an Ocean Pool villa and be treated to a couple’s spa treatment at the overwater Duniye Spa, a private picnic on Dream Island, a sunset dolphin cruise, a snorkel tour to see the turtles, a four-course lunch at the property’s underwater restaurant and a photography package. Plus you’ll receive flight transfers from Male to the resort. If the time is right, the Hurawalhi team can also help you pop the question: try

an underwater proposal, or take a knee on a starlit beach or on your own private island. The Deal Ultimate Valentine’s Day Package: four nights in an Ocean Pool villa, from US$6,884, through April 15. hurawalhi.com.

BEACH THAILAND

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Chinese details at the Alila Anji lobby.

March 31. samui. intercontinental.com. INDONESIA

Montigo Resorts Nongsa Book a trip to one of the Indonesian Batam Islands with this relaxing package from Montigo Resorts Nongsa. Spend the night in one of Montigo’s luxury villas, and you’ll receive complimentary breakfast and a 60-minute spa massage for two guests. For your convenience you’ll also receive complimentary Wi-Fi and return transfers from Nongsapura Ferry Terminal to the resort. The Deal Stay and Relax: a night in a villa, from S$399, through March 31. montigoresorts.com.

CULTURE Thailand

Anantara, Bangkok Be part of Bangkok’s iconic event, the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, with this great deal. Book at least two nights at any of the four Anantara hotels and resorts in Bangkok during the period of March 8–11 and receive complimentary entry to the

tournament, two elephant polo shirts, and breakfast for two for the duration of your stay. In its 16th year, the four-day charitable event is one of the biggest in the region, helping to better the lives of Thailand’s elephants. The Deal Elephant Polo package: a night at Anantara Sathorn Bangkok Hotel, from Bt4,000; a night at Anantara Baan Rajprasong, from Bt6,480; a night at Anantara Riverside Bangkok, from Bt7,650; a night at Anantara Bangkok Siam Hotel, from Bt7,500. Valid for stays March 8–11. anantara.com. HONG KONG

The Murray Hong Kong Visit the city’s acclaimed annual art fair, Art Basel (see page 34), with this deal from Hong Kong’s newest luxury hotel, The Murray. Book a stay in this central urban sanctuary from March 28 to April 4 and you’ll get one night’s accommodation in an N2 Grand room; breakfast for two at either the Garden Lounge or The Tai Pan; and a one-day ticket to Art Basel Hong Kong for two, valid March 28–30. The Deal For Art’s Sake package: a night in an N2 Grand room, from HK$5,888, through April 4. niccolohotels.com.

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courtesy of Alila Anji

CHINA

Alila Anji Spend a cozy weekend at this peaceful hillside resort outside Shanghai. With a two-night stay, you’ll receive daily breakfast for two at Lake View restaurant; a one-hour hot-stone treatment for two; hot pot dinner for two; and a special cultural heritage performance by the resort’s master-in-residence, featuring sugar painting, Sichuan opera, straw weaving and more. You’ll also have access to bicycles and morning tai chi classes. The Deal Hot Winter Fuzz package: a night in a Lake View room, from RMB1,750, through March 24. alilahotels.com.


YOUR SWEET STOPOVER IN HONG KONG

Shop 343, 3rd Floor, Prince’s Building, Central. Hong Kong Tel: +852 2555 3411


t h o m a s Cr i s t o f o l e t t i

A colorful welcome home in Kathdhara, India, page 56.

/ february 2018 / Village to village in the high Himalayas |

Why Tasmania is so hot right now | How not to die tobogganing in Bavaria | Rwanda emerges as a leading light | To Barbados for father-daughter bonding

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A Walk to In her lonely youth, the Himalayas beckoned Rachna Sachasinh, promising deliverance. Now she returns to India to trek the high hills of Kumaon, and finds the peak of conviviality—even in a tiny village of 10. P hotographed by T hom a s C r i s t of ol e tt i

Remember


In the Saryu Valley, a view of Khaljhuni village from Jhuni.

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above: One of Satri’s 10 residents, Mohan Chand Bhatt, takes a break from drawing water to chat about the joys of life in the hamlet. below: Guide Hem Singh (left) and the author cut across a ridge above Binsar Valley’s oak forests on their way to Khathdhara village.


he Himalayas and I go way back. Forty years ago, at the tender age of six, I was deposited in a boarding school in Dehra Dun, a pretty valley town 240 kilometers north of Delhi and right on the doorstep of the world’s fiercest mountain range. The school’s stark brick buildings and bleak courtyards reeked of melancholy and mischief. Strict matrons in flowing saris and tightly coiled buns led rote lessons and inculcated Victorian manners. I struggled through interminable cycles of icy winters, searing heat and torrential monsoons, forever piling on and peeling off layers of itchy woolens and threadbare cottons. I choked on gum porridge, dry chapatis and rubbery chicken curry, subsisting on biscuits and salty peanuts from the school canteen. When the drudgery of it all was too much to bear, I plotted mutiny and escape. Beyond the school gates, the wild and unruly mountains overlapped and tumbled all the way east and pressed the horizon with their splintered, snowy peaks. I cast my lot with the Himalayas and wished myself among its pleated valleys and cascading slopes. The mountains seemed formidable, but in them I imagined a refuge where I could live life’s grand adventures. My jailbreak fantasies were fueled by the school’s ayah, or nanny, an inveterate rebel full of pluck and gumption. Ayah called herself pahari lok, or mountain people, and it took her no time to turn me into a pahari diehard. Standing with her hips cocked, the ends of her sari tucked into her petticoat, ayah pulled my hair into tight braids while hatching outlandish expeditions that took me to Kumaon, her birthplace in the high Himalayas some 250 kilometers to the southeast. A gnarled landscape strewn with 7,300-plus-meter peaks like Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Trisal, and populated with centuries-old villages, Kumaon is where India’s eastern Himalayas fold into Tibet and Nepal. Ayah’s best yarns took place on the bugyal, high alpine meadows carpeted with wild flowers tucked in and around Kumaon’s glaciers and lofty mountain passes. Every monsoon season, her father and brothers drove their flock of sheep and goats to the bugyal to feast on succulent grasslands. For three months, men and beasts wandered, living off the land and camping in rhododendron forests, covering great distances to arrive and return from the roof of the world. I imagined myself herding sheep on the bugyal, snacking on juicy pears and mulberries right off the tree, and eating delicious daal and roti by the hearth. Compared to the harsh rules, loneliness and crappy food at boarding school, the wild Himalayas looked pretty good. Although I finally left boarding school, I never abandoned plans to go AWOL in the Himalayas—though not in the typical frostbitten alpinist way. Ayah’s stories convinced me that the only way to truly appreciate the Himalayas was to spend time among its ancient villages absorbing the rhythms and, no doubt, the vagaries and hardships of mountain living.

After four decades of hemming and hawing, raising kids and moving around the world, it dawned on me that I had better commit before my knees gave out. It also helped that a friend introduced me to Village Ways, an organization that works directly with locals to conduct village-to-village walking holidays in the Kumaon region. The itinerary included village stays in Binsar Valley, an uphill trek through Saryu Valley’s steep, terraced fields all the way to the tented camp at Jaikuni bugyal— an alpine meadow three kilometers from the Tibetan border—and a meandering descent via the glacier-fed millet and bean fields of Pindar Valley. It was an expedition that ayah herself would have cooked up. he early-morning Shatabdi Express pulled out of Delhi’s old railway station in the wee hours and chugged eastward towards the Ganges plains. Discolored concrete buildings, tin shacks, mud huts, indolent Brahman cows slobbering on cud, women with brass pots queuing up at the local well, rows upon rows of empty fields and anemic forests rolled past in no particular order or pattern, a testament to India’s timeless and immutable character. By noon, I disembarked at Kathgodam where an envoy from Village Ways led me through a chirpy bunch of porters and chai wallahs. We loaded my backpack in his tiny Maruti hatchback and hightailed it to the hills. An incredible ascent through pine and oak forests and valleys sliced by glacier-fed rivers led us straight to the gates of Khali Estate, a colonial-era lodge in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. Perched on a ridge, Khali Estate looks directly onto the expansive Kumaon Himalayan range, an impressive flank of massifs including Nanda Devi along the Tibetan border and stretching all the way to the dramatic five spires of Panchachuli on the Nepali border. Leading up to the mountains were a series of overlapping valleys and ridges dotted with quaint villages. Plumes of smoke drifted lazily up to the highest peaks; farmers knee-deep in earth coaxed oxen across fields; monkeys shrieked frantically. For the first time in years, I inhaled Himalayan air, the scent of pine and earth at once spirited and serene. Early the next morning, Hem Singh, a 34-year-old guide clutching a thick dog-eared bird book, collected me, and we began the first day of our trek through Binsar Valley’s wild oak canopy. Following old stone trails originally used by British horsemen, we traversed ravines thick with wild ginger and t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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Speckled night skies over Supi village.

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here on the edge of the world, shadows danced on the mud walls and conversation and laughter came easily


turmeric and made pit stops at Dalar and Risal villages for steaming cups of sweet masala chai. On the trail, macaques swung on branches overhead, and Hem Singh nonchalantly stooped to inspect day-old leopard scat, which frankly was a bit alarming. Binsar is chock-full of wildlife, and Hem made sure I didn’t miss a thing—from scurrying footsteps of the ordinary Kaji pheasant to the majestic flight of the exotic Himalayan crested eagle. By late afternoon, we cut across a ridge and descended into Kathdhara, a hamlet of 16 families pressed onto a hillside and wrapped in tiers of fields and terraces. Kathdhara was abuzz with activity. Swinging scythes and reaping hooks, men slashed and bundled hemp stalks that would eventually be dried and woven into rope. Several young women in headscarves and bright skirts stood on rooftops, winnowing hemp seeds that would be made into soup and chutneys. Families gathered in stone courtyards, sifting trays of chilies, lentils, yam roots and various herbs. Every now and then, women laden with inexplicably large bundles of dried grass moved gingerly across narrow trails. Forty-eight-year-old Puran Singh ran up to greet us and led us to the village’s two-story guesthouse, a classic Kumaoni-style stone and white stucco building with carved wooden doorframes washed in a bright royal blue. Kathdhara born-and-raised, Puran Singh showed me to my quarters, a Spartan, cozy room on the lower level outfitted with twin beds piled with warm blankets and pretty hand-sewn linens and handsome rugs. The villagers had managed to nail “rustic chic” without even trying. Through the windows, the village unfurled all the way to the mountains, and the view seemed like a gorgeous watercolor painted with saffron marigolds and magenta bougainvillea. Upstairs in the guesthouse kitchen, a handful of villagers squatted on the floor chopping vegetables and kneading atta (dough). A spry 48-year-old farmer named Prem Singh, all smiles and chatter, tended the hearth and prepared hot masala chai. I told them about my ayah and her stories of Kumaon. They warned that ayah’s Kumaon was changing. Forty years ago, it was rare for families to move away from the village, they told me. Now, with no surplus crops to sell, young men are pressed to leave in search of jobs. Before Binsar became a wildlife sanctuary, Puran Singh explained, villagers co-existed harmoniously with forests and animals. They managed to eke out a subsistence living and have extra to sell. In 1990, the government issued a ban on hunting, resulting in the explosion of destructive species like the wild boar and white-faced monkeys, which are notorious for foraging and destroying crops. Village Ways’ walking and trekking holidays presented a viable source of alternative income, bringing solace to old-timers like Puran Singh who have no intention of going anywhere. “Lakri, mitti, pathar (wood, earth, stone), fresh air and pure water. We have it all here and it’s free,” he beamed.

atri, where I stayed the following night, has no running water or electricity, harvests are touch-and-go, and all the young families have left for the city. In spite of this, the old-timers that live there were somehow even happier than Puran Singh, perhaps the happiest folks I’ve ever met. At dusk, we gathered by the kitchen hearth and prepared the evening meal by firelight. While stirring onions and yams in a blackened pot, 74-year-old Mohan Chand Bhatt, who prefers to live here among nature with his widowed sister than with his wife and family in polluted Delhi, regaled me with stories about his army days in India and Nepal. Nearby, Uma Devi, 49, ground turmeric, coriander and hemp seeds on a large piece of stone. She mixed in yogurt, turning the crushed seeds and herbs into a creamy chutney. I rolled chapatis with Bimla Devi, while Puran Chand—the village’s erstwhile realtor whose hard-sell tactics nearly convinced me to buy land in Satri—toasted them directly on the flames. Here on the edge of the world, in this smoky, fire-lit kitchen, our shadows danced on the mud walls and conversation and laughter came easily. Outside, the sky exploded with stars and the Himalayan snowcaps gleamed in the distance. In spite of drawbacks and hardships, Satri was flush with contentment and tranquility. I understood why the five families of just 10 people who have planted themselves here don’t want to leave. From Satri, I hopped in a jeep, rolled past rollicking mountain trading posts all the way to the lofty peaks of Saryu Valley, one of the last inhabited places before the Himalayas become impenetrable. In Supi, one of the largest homesteads in the region, Tara Singh, aged 28, took over guiding duties, and we explored the village’s terraced fields, which began near the ridge and plunged all the way to the banks of the fast-moving Saryu River. We ducked into the village mill, a squat stone building where an ancient water-powered grinding stone turned barley, wheat and millet grains into flour.

the weary shepherd heckled the stubborn herd, and i looked on amusedly 62 

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above: In Pindar Valley, Narender Singh and Uma Devi with their four children. below: A typical breakfast of sarso saag (mustard greens), aloo sabji (curried potatoes), and roti of mudwa (millet) and geeyo (wheat).


above: Farmers plough their terraces in Supi village. below: Young Supi boys keep warm with a bonfire.


I bought a hand-knit goat hair blanket—a rustic pashmina— from Chandra Ram, who shears and spins wool in his tiny wooden shack of a shop. Bhupal Ram (no relation; all men’s names here end in Ram, and all women’s in Devi), the surly blacksmith, took a break from forging iron scythes to make me a silver bangle. From courtyards up and down the mountain, women in colorful headscarves and ghagras (long Indian skirts) hollered to us to join them. They served milky tea in steel tumblers and bombarded me with questions about my children and work, listening intently while sorting beans and potatoes. After two nights in Supi, Tara Singh and I hit the road and made our way to Jaikuni bugyal, the alpine meadows ayah had spoken of so long ago. The ascent took us through rugged country and past Trisal, Baicham, Khaljuni and Jhuni—villages that seemed lost in another century. We ambled past women pitching bundles of hay into large, obelisk-like hillocks and a wizened postman who had spent the last 50 years walking up and down the valley delivering letters and documents. All the while, Tara Singh was alert, pointing out griffins and kestrels overhead and rattling off scientific names like a seasoned field biologist. I huffed and puffed along, breathing a little harder as we scaled 3,000 meters. Tara Singh strolled effortlessly and kept his eye out for the iridescent blue-feathered Himalayan monal, his favorite bird. Suddenly we stumbled into a meadow teeming with bleating goats and sheep. The weary shepherd heckled the stubborn herd, and I looked on amusedly, thinking how nearly half a century ago ayah’s father and brothers must have done the same. I was hardly paying attention when we climbed over the ridge and arrived at Jaikuni bugyal’s tented camp. aikuni Bugyal sits at an impressive 3,500 meters and looks straight east to Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot, and behind them, the Everest-high peaks rising from Tibetan and Nepali soil. The enormous mountains that I had seen from a distance at Khali Estate were now up close. Atop the peaks, feathered clouds and dark thunderheads billowed and dissipated, only to show up again seconds later. Tara Singh pointed to Sundar Dhunga, Pindari and Kafni glaciers, which lay at the end of the v-shaped valleys and overlapping mountains.

By the time we arrived, villagers from Supi and Jhuni had already pitched canvas tents and laid out tea and biscuits. My tent was pretty and spacious, with high ceilings, block printed canvas panels, and a comfortable twin bed piled high with thick blankets. Though it was incredibly cozy inside, I spent most of my time hanging out on the veranda. Wrapped in a warm blanket and sipping tea, I stared at the mountains well past sunset. I spent my last night in Dhurr, a village of about 32 families clinging to a hillside above the glacial-blue waters of Pindar River. There, I met Bhavana, a 17-year-old girl who loved her Kumaoni home but was aching to see the world beyond. While peeling potatoes—Dhurr is famous for their version of these durable crops known as pahari aloo, which have a creamy texture and naturally sweet taste—milking cows and doing homework, she dreamed of becoming a female cricket player or an English professor. Bhavana and her three best friends were hatching their own escape plans to Bombay where they hoped to study at a big city university. For now, she walked two hours each way to get to the high school and helped her parents with fieldwork or played cricket with her friends. I asked her if she would ever leave Kumaon for good, and she replied thoughtfully, “I want to, but I will always come back. The mountains are my home.” It was early evening, and the sun was starting to fade. We stood side by side on the stone courtyard and surveyed the mountains beyond, lost in our thoughts. I realized that my Himalayan odyssey felt like both an emancipation and a homecoming. I hoped Bhavana and her friends would make it to Bombay one day. And I wondered if my ayah thought of her own departure from Kumaon as an escape or an adventure.

The details Getting There Fly into New Delhi’s Indira Ghandi International Airport and hop on the NDLS Shatabdi Express for a six-hour journey from Old Delhi Railway Station to Kathgodam Railway Station. From Kathgodam, it’s three hours by car to Khali Estate in the Binsar Wildlife Preserve. Village Ways’ capable drivers handle all ground transportation in Delhi and Kathgodam, and will pre-book train tickets for you.

Tourist visas are required for entry into India. E-visas can be obtained in advance at indianvisaonline.gov.in. Village Ways tour Launched in 2004, Village Ways was founded by a group of seven mountaineers and guides from India and the U.K. Modeled after inn-to-inn walks popular in the English countryside, the walking programs can be tailored to suit each group’s preferences. The

program’s founders trained the communities to be seasoned guides, with impeccable knowledge of the region’s flora and fauna, and on the nuts and bolts of hosting foreign guests. Villagers handle day-to-day operations, such as guiding, portage, cooking and cleaning, divvying up the work equally so that each family has an opportunity to participate. The walking holidays give parhari lokh a much-needed lifeline, making it

possible for families to continue living in among the Kumaon’s gorgeous peaks. In 2017, the program won a Responsible Travel Award from London-based World Travel Market. villageways. com; prices vary by program, from approximately nine days for US$1,250 to 16 days for US$2,200, including ground transfers from Delhi (though length of trip can be customized to suit your needs); walks offered September– December and March–May.

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T h e G i ft s o f

Sunrise over the Fossil Cliffs, a section of the Maria Island coastline that is rich with ancient marine specimens.


earth and sea Despite its remote location, Tasmania is increasingly being recognized as a modern-day Eden. On a return visit, St ep h en M e t c alf finds the Australian island state coming to terms with its newfound popularity. Photographed by S e a n F e n n e s s y

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M

y first day back in Hobart, Tasmania, I knew where I had to begin. After checking in to my hotel, I walked to Battery Point, the old seamen’s neighborhood. Even if you’re visiting for the first time, the aura of maritime despondency will hit you like a Proustian drug. For me, returning 10 years later, the effect was doubled. It was early June, and the neighborhood was quiet, washed in the pale light of Australian winter. The fishermen’s cottages and merchants’ houses along the snaking 19th-century lanes felt widowed. At the bakery Jackman & McRoss, a prim yet sumptuous Hobart staple I remembered fondly, a small circle of elderly women gossiped quietly in the corner. They called to mind the old adage that citizens of the Commonwealth outside the U.K. are “more British than the British,” reminding me that, in Battery Point, you shouldn’t raise your voice for fear of waking the dead. Tasmania—an island off Australia’s southeastern coast, a little more than an hour’s flight from Melbourne—dangles off the edge of the earth. And Battery Point feels as though it dangles off the edge of

A crayfish boat off the coast of the Hazards, a mountain range in Freycinet National Park. right: Poached egg on roasted pumpkin at Sweetwater, in Launceston.


Tasmania. The clean, bracing winds that buffet you as you walk along its wharves blow in all the way from Antarctica, some 2,700 kilometers to the south. If you listen, you can catch the mournful undersong of Tasmania’s history. The same windswept severity and utter remoteness I found so picturesque inspired the British Empire, in the early 19th century, to establish a penal colony here. More than 75,000 convicts were sent to what was then known as Van Diemen’s Land, where most were conscripted into hard labor. Upon arriving, William Smith O’Brien, an Irish political prisoner, wrote to his wife: “To find a jail in one of the loveliest spots formed by the hand of Nature in one of her loneliest solitudes creates a revulsion of feeling which I cannot describe.” Today Hobart is scrubbed and neat, a beautifully appointed port city spread below Mount Wellington along foothills that descend to the Derwent River. On the main waterfront, overlooking Sullivans Cove just north of Battery Point, there are signs of development—and redevelopment—everywhere. The wharves and

causeways are being consolidated into a water-locked public square, crowded with restaurants and flanked by two high-end hotels. The area’s cafés prepare flat whites with the same sacramental reverence as in Melbourne, the most coffee-obsessed city in the Anglosphere. Wellto-do tourists arrive in droves from China, and a Singaporean mogul recently bought up commercial real estate along the waterfront, possibly to build a tower dozens of stories high. With the pace of development accelerating, Tassie may soon catch up with more-sophisticated tourist rivals like Queensland. This is a bittersweet prospect for those who see Tasmania’s charms as fragile and bound up in the island’s forlorn history, its perennial status as an Australian backwater. To mainlanders, the name Tasmania has traditionally been an excuse for a cruel putdown; as a destination, it conjured up camper-van getaways or backpacking hippies. But Tasmanians always knew they had something precious and were confident the world would find out eventually. When I visited a decade ago, Tasmania’s wines, particularly the coolclimate varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, were gaining international recognition. Serious chefs and fine diners had become aware of the island’s uncanny ability, thanks to diverse microclimates, to grow anything well, from stone fruits and berries to avocados and walnuts. It’s important to understand how unlikely even a modest facsimile of an Alice Waters–style food revolution once seemed here. “When I first arrived thirty years ago, the attitude was so negative,” recalled Tony Scherer, an American-born farmer who owns property in the Coal River Valley, just north of Hobart. I was having a drink with Scherer and his wife, Joyce Johnston, a social worker, at the Glass House, a mod structure on a floating pier with views of Sullivans Cove and the mountains beyond. It has a copper bar with backlit shelving and offers a variety of tapas-style shared plates and designer cocktails. The Tasmanian booze, especially the local whiskey, was dark and savory, and the water vistas, shifting in the light, were mesmerizing. On my first visit, Scherer had remarked that Tasmania might become the planet’s most sensitive barometer of change in the 21st century. “The only question,” he said, “is which will transform us first—global warming or global capital.” These days, Johnston told me, Tasmania is becoming “the new Iceland”— the next hot destination for global trendsetters. Their tourist dollars are welcome, as historically, Tasmania has had Australia’s highest percentage of government aid recipients. “And yet, the sweetness of Tasmania,” Scherer said, “comes from it not yet being ripe.” Tasmania’s history is tied up in civilization’s clumsy attempts to push itself on the natural landscape, from the original penal colony to logging concerns, extractive industries, and mammoth fish farms that now risk polluting the famously pristine waters. Ten years ago, everyone I met in the hospitality business was worried that what they’d built might be endangered by a giant pulp mill then being proposed. The plant was never t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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To mainlanders, the name Tasmania has traditionally been an excuse for a cruel putdown. But Tasmanians always knew they had something precious and were confident the world would find out eventually


The Painted Cliffs, a stretch of patterned sandstone that runs along the coast of Maria Island. Opposite: The lobby at Saffire, a luxury resort on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula.

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constructed, but now Tasmanians are confronting an unexpected new threat: popularity. Could what Tasmanians love about Tasmania be compromised by retailing it to outsiders? Could the island’s soul be destroyed by gas fireplaces, forced smiles, velveteen couches, tour buses?

I

n Hobart, I stayed on the outskirts of town at the Islington, a boutique hotel in a Regency-style mansion, long the city’s only five-star digs. Though it is fancier than I am, nothing said or done by the kindly staff reminded me of this fact. I spent one of the more blissful hours of my life in front of a wood-burning fireplace in the glass atrium, reading an Anne Enright novel and eating comically plump oysters from a tray. It was as if I were at home and away at once. The Islington’s younger competition is down on the waterfront. The Henry Jones, housed in an old jam factory, is a delightfully chic hotel that wouldn’t look out of place in Sydney or London. Farther out on the same pier you can find its just-completed sister, the Macq 01, a sleek cypress-and-glass shed. When I toured the premises, I was told that the hotel had hired a team of “storytellers,” all of whom are on call to recount, on demand, some aspect of Tasmania’s dark history. Each of the 114 rooms is named after a colorful hero (or rogue) from Tasmania’s past. The lounge isn’t just a lounge, it’s a “storytelling nucleus,” and the bar isn’t just a bar, it’s the Story Bar, decorated with reprints of old newspapers. Despite all this kitsch filigree, the Macq 01 is a gorgeous facility. Its waterfront rooms hover like crows’ nests over Sullivans Cove, with terraces commanding views out to Mount Wellington. Its owner also operates the seven-year-old Saffire, a superdeluxe lodge northeast of Hobart on the Freycinet Peninsula. I went there a few days later and found that, in its own subtle way, Saffire is every bit as much about storytelling as its younger sibling in Hobart. Built on the outskirts of Freycinet National Park, Saffire is a swooping, soaring structure designed to look, from a distance, like a giant stingray. Muted timbers and low-reflectivity glass allow the building to blend in with the surrounding eucalyptus forest. In the main lodge, towering windows frame the Hazards, a mountain range whose four main peaks continuously change complexion in the shifting light. Everything about Saffire is to the hilt, but what I liked most was its attentive staff, and how quickly they discovered that all I wanted to do was to stare at the mountains and disappear into a Tasmanian whiskey and a paperback. In between, they fed me like a beloved monarch. Everyone at Saffire, from the ponytailed trail guide to the buttoned-up corporate spokesman, seemed guided by the same principle as that gossip circle I’d observed at the bakery in Hobart: Respect the dead. They’d tell me stories that might at first seem scripted, but if I pushed a little I’d find the sentiment was genuine, most likely because the person expressing it was a native Tasmanian.

One afternoon, Paul Jack, the trail guide, took me up a path nestled between Mount Amos and Mount Mayson, past peppermint gums and white kunzea bushes that gave off the aroma of caramelized honey. We reached an overlook above Wineglass Bay, where we could gaze down on the scalloped white sand of the shoreline and out over the eroded Devonian rock face of Mount Freycinet. Wineglass Bay gets its name not only from its goblet-like shape but also because it was once filled with the blood of slaughtered whales. Next to the tangerine lichen–covered boulders of the Bay of Fires, it’s the most iconic landscape in Tasmania. “Whale oil kick-started the Tasmanian economy,” Jack said. “We are at last owning who we were, instead of apologizing for it.” He began discoursing with an easy learnedness about Aboriginal middens, shell heaps left behind by huntergatherers at the dawn of the Holocene epoch. “They called the mountains sleeping gods,” he said. “There is no getting around it, Tasmania has a spiritual background. Ours is a volatile landscape that needs fire to regenerate.”


Forester kangaroos grazing on Maria Island. RIGHt: A fishing boat at Constitution Dock, on the Derwent River in the Port of Hobart.

T

he biggest driver behind the growth of Tasmanian tourism, according to everyone I spoke with, is MONA, the Museum of Old & New Art, which opened in 2011 in Hobart. “What is unique about MONA is what is unique about Tasmania,” Mark Wilsdon, the museum’s co-CEO, told me. It was founded by David Walsh, a Tasmanian billionaire who made his fortune as a professional gambler, to house his private collection. Though Walsh has spent an estimated A$250 million on MONA, he has kept it free for Tasmanians. It is now said to pump A$125 million a year into the Tasmanian economy. The museum is dark, both literally and figuratively: its main gallery, carved out of a sandstone cliff next to a historic vineyard, showcases a comically macabre curatorial vision fixated on sex, death and excrement. To get there, you travel inland about 20 minutes, from the same pier that supports the Glass House, up the Derwent River on a catamaran whose exterior is painted a camouflage pattern and whose interiors are covered in

graffiti. The bombs and tags pair oddly well with a dry Riesling from the onboard café. You arrive not at an art museum, but at an anti–art museum. From a windswept courtyard whose ramparts overlook the river, you descend to find a permanent collection containing works by Chris Ofili, Anselm Kiefer and Damien Hirst. The experience is dominated less by the global brand names than by, as the museum’s website puts it, “Stuff David Bought When He Was Drunk” and work that “Annoys Our Female Curators.” Perhaps the most notorious piece is Cloaca Professional, by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, a series of mechanical chambers that mimic the human digestive process, turning out, at the far end, poo. What I loved most about MONA was the way it insinuates its ominous charms into the life of its host city. One morning, I was wakened at daybreak by the strangest sound. For the first time as a traveler, I was forced to ask a concierge, “Excuse me, but did I hear an incantatory mélange of female voices reverberating through the city at dawn?” t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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The main gallery at MONA, the Museum of Old & New Art, in Hobart.

The answer was, “Yes, sir.” I had heard Siren Song, a 28-channel sound piece broadcast from 450 loudspeakers mounted atop various Hobart buildings. The densely layered choral droning sounded for seven minutes at sunrise and sunset, every day for two weeks, as a herald for MONA’s well-attended winter festival, Dark Mofo. I found the locals to be almost jingoistic in their pride when it came to MONA. Over and over, I head: MONA is ours as much as it is Walsh’s; it expresses our weirdness, our remoteness, the gloomy ambivalence of our history. Ours. For Tasmania, this is not a small breakthrough.

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fter my visit to MONA, I drove out to Rocky Top Farm, Tony Scherer’s spread in the Coal River Valley, where Scherer introduced me to the chef Luke Burgess. In 2010, Burgess turned an old mechanic’s garage in Hobart—“250 square meters and a tin roof,” he told me, “with fire-damaged trusses”—into a 46-seat wine bar and restaurant called Garagistes that had shared tables, took no reservations, and featured the first all-natural-wine list in Australia. International recognition followed, and Tasmania had its first global

culinary sensation. But Garagistes quickly became that dreaded thing—a thing—and tourists piled in, rushing to upload the experience to Instagram. Owner’s fatigue set in, and Garagistes, though a triumph, closed at the end of its five-year lease. Since then, Burgess has traveled the world, occasionally cooking during chef residencies or at his own pop-ups. But he and Scherer share a vision. “A garden is a way for me to get out of the kitchen,” Burgess said. Scherer chimed in, gesturing out at his land. “Play your hand right and you can grow anything here.” The duo wants to put a restaurant right here: a small dining room looking out on Scherer’s farm beside the estuarine byways of Barilla Bay. If they follow through on their plan, the demand will surely be there. “Every time I go to Melbourne or Sydney, the one adjective I hear is Tasmanian,” said Kim Seagram, owner of Stillwater in Launceston, 2½ hours north of Hobart. “Not ‘South Australian.’ It’s ‘Tasmanian scallops,’ or ‘Tasmanian oysters,’ or ‘Tasmanian spirits.’” Seagram has been pivotal to the transformation of Launceston, Tasmania’s second city, and is an evangelist


for the civic power of its gastronomy. Last year, she founded a farmers’ market, and she has helped establish the nascent food-van culture in St. George Square, where you can now find purveyors of everything from burgers and crêpes to Turkish kofte. Stillwater, which opened in 2000 in a beautifully renovated 1830s flour mill, was Launceston’s first fine-dining restaurant, offering an elegant but playful take on local Tasmanian produce. Since my last visit, it has also become a community hub, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and filled all day long with coffee-swilling, cheerfully yakking locals.

S

outh of the Freycinet Peninsula, on Tasmania’s eastern coast, is a small town called Triabunna, from which you can catch the ferry to Maria Island. Maria (pronounced with a long i, as Mariah Carey) is shaped like a molten hourglass, with its northern head connected to its southern bottom by a narrow, sandy isthmus. In 1971, the Australian government established it as a national park. Black swans and several species of small marsupials are ubiquitous. With its thick forest and fern gullies, Maria is now a habitat for common wombats, Forester kangaroos, and Bennett wallabies—endangered species that have been introduced from the mainland to help ensure their survival. Maria was once home to whaling stations and penitentiaries, but now it is nothing if not idyllic. Past the arrival jetty here are the storage silos and collapsed kilns of an old cement plant, leftovers from a 19th-century attempt at industrialization. Farther on, there is a tiny, abandoned settlement. Few people live on the island, but anyone can book a night at the former convict building, which has been repurposed as a modest bunkhouse. A private company, the Maria Island Walk, has built two small encampments made of wood and canvas near the empty white-sand beaches. They also lease the government-owned Bernacchi House, a simple weatherboard cottage behind a white picket fence, with a lavender garden off its small veranda. It is named for an Italian entrepreneur who came to Maria with dreams of building a silk empire. “Out of a brutal past,” said Ian Johnstone, the founder and CEO of the Maria Island Walk, “there is a search for harmony here. Between people, and between those people and the place.” If you are lucky, every so often as a traveler you find it—a place where past and present, nature and culture, a history of joy and a legacy of suffering all balance upon a point of mutual respect. I found it on Maria Island, at Bernacchi, and during hikes with Maddy Davies and Paul Challen, the two guides who hosted me for the weekend, cooking brilliantly simple meals and providing superb company on daylong excursions up the island’s dolerite peaks. On my final morning on Maria, we trekked out to Skipping Ridge, above the Tasman Sea, to drink coffee and watch the sun rise. As a slim cuticle of light broke over a long line of clouds, Challen quipped, “The first person who goes over the edge, we’ll get a fence.” “If they put up a fence,” Davies replied, “I’m never coming back.”

a perfect gift

Besides Japan, Tasmania is one of the only destinations outside of Scotland producing quality single malts. Pick up a bottle or two from Sullivans Cove (sullivanscove.com), the island’s top distillery, in the Hobart suburb of Cambridge.

The details getting there Fly to Hobart via Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney. tour operator Big Five Tours & Expeditions This trusted company’s Tasmania offerings range from hiking and beach-hopping on the Freycinet Peninsula to a four-day trek through Maria Island, where you can spot kangaroos and emus in one of the world’s most remote wildlife sanctuaries. bigfive.com; 12-day trips from A$16,500. Hotels The Henry Jones This chic space, built inside one of the oldest warehouse buildings on the wharf, has become an integral part of Hobart’s burgeoning nightlife scene. thehenry​jones.com; doubles from A$275. Highfield House A Victorian-era estate, once home to noted colonial politician and cricketer William Henty, has found new life as a boutique bed-and-breakfast overlooking the Tamar Valley. Launceston; highfieldhousebandb. com.au; doubles from A$168. Islington Located a quick car ride from downtown Hobart, this property is filled with quirky art and antiques and features a glassed-in atrium for dining and relaxing. islingtonhotel.com; doubles from A$470. Macq 01 This sleek 114-room property on the Macquarie Wharf overlooks Sullivans Cove and has a staff steeped in knowledge of Tasmanian history. Don’t miss the circular first-floor lounge, built around an open fireplace. macq01. com.au; doubles from A$400. Saffire Several hours northeast of Hobart in Freycinet National Park, this sister property to the Macq 01 provides extraordinary views of the peninsula’s mountains and forests. Coles Bay; saffire-freycinet.com.au; doubles from A$2,100.

Two Four Two Just steps from Launceston’s city center, this collection of stylish apartments comes stocked with an array of Tasmanian wines for guests to enjoy while grilling on the private terrace. twofourtwo.com.au; apartments from A$205. Restaurants & Cafés Bryher A stained-glass transom window, great coffee, and seasonal menu beckon you to this homey café. Launceston; bryherfood.com. Glass House This aptly named glass bar on a floating pier serves shared plates like wallaby tartare. Its cocktails showcase Tasmanian whiskey well. Hobart; the​glass. house; small plates A$14–$32. Jackman & McRoss Locals love this convivial bakery, an enduring fixture of Hobart’s culinary scene for its breakfasts and fresh pastries. 61-3/6223-3186. Pigeon Hole Café & Bakery This cool, simple spot is a must for coffee, baked goods, and comfort dishes like pork-and-fennel meatballs. Hobart; pigeonholecafe. com.au; mains A$14–$19. Stillwater The choice for fine dining in Launceston. The Tassie wine list pairs with a menu derived from regional ingredients like Lenah wallaby and Flinders Island salt-grass-fed lamb. stillwater. com.au; mains A$20–$80. Templo This blackboard-menu paradise is a culinary wonder packed into a 20-seat space on a back street in Hobart. Come for the communal dining, stay for the unique wines. templo.com.au; mains A$16–$32. museum MONA A quick ferry ride up the Derwent River from Hobart brings visitors to this popular museum, home to an eccentric billionaire’s private art collection that is by turns irreverent and grotesque. Berriedale; mona.net.au.

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A gondola takes passengers to the top of Zugspitze, a popular skiing and sledding spot in Bavaria. Opposite: Visitors relax on the slopes of the Wallberg, home to Germany’s longest natural toboggan run.


The Winter of Our Content

The German state of Bavaria is the ultimate cold-weather playground, a place where tobogganing down a mountain, holing up at a luxurious hotel, or knocking back beers in a tavern are equally worthy pursuits. Alex Halberstadt tries them all.

Photographed by Christian Kerber

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O

n Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain, there’s surprisingly decent schnitzel. There are also life-altering views. As I stood atop a glacier, the ski town of GarmischPartenkirchen more than 2,700 meters below me, I looked down at what resembled an Alpine lake but was in fact the top of a cloud. Tethered to my wrist was a toboggan, the instrument of my shame—and eventual revelation. The main reason for my trip to this part of Bavaria, the large state that occupies Germany’s southeastern corner, was to indulge a curiosity about tobogganing. For years, I’d been eager to recapture the rush I’d experienced as a child, in Moscow, sledding down the man-made crevasse in front of our Cuban Missile Crisis–era tenement. And while most Americans regard sledding as a children’s pastime—as quaint as snow angels and hot cocoa—I’d read that in Germany it was a legitimate adult winter sport. According to the German Bob & Sled Federation, the country is home to about a hundred competitive clubs with 6,500 members. I’d brought along my friend Paul Boyer as insurance against wimping out. A veteran of New York’s wine industry, he made for an agreeable travel companion by possessing several crucial qualities I lacked: physical courage, an easy sociability, and a love of driving at unsafe speeds. When I confided to Paul that I was having second thoughts about ascending the Alps to sit astride a wooden rocket and plummet into an icy abyss, he laughed and said it sounded “totally rad.” We’d arrived in Munich, Bavaria’s largest city, a week earlier. After emerging from a U-Bahn station, we found ourselves near the

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A guest room at Schloss Elmau, a luxury hotel in southern Bavaria.

iconic domed towers of the Frauenkirche, a 15th-century Gothic cathedral. We were in the midst of a downpour, and three women in yellow rain ponchos were singing on a makeshift stage for an audience of no one. It took me a moment to recognize the words to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” We hustled past this odd entertainment to the Nürnberger Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom, a traditional, wood-paneled tavern, to dry out by the hearth and sample one of the glories of Bavarian culture. The Nürnberger bratwurst is a pork sausage about the size of an American breakfast link that’s grilled over a raging beechwood fire. According to some Mitteleuropean sausage mavens, the Glöckl serves the Platonic ideal of the Nürnberger— what Fauchon on Paris’s Place de la Madeleine is to the macaron and Yonah Schimmel on New York’s East Houston Street is to the potato-andmushroom knish. In the first-floor dining room, we sat next to men in lederhosen, knee socks, loden jackets, and felt hats decorated with feathers and pewter pins—a demographic we would encounter at every drinking establishment we visited in Bavaria.


“Welcome to our strange land,” whispered Willibald Bauer, a friend who hails from Munich and manufactures some of the world’s finest record players several neighborhoods away. We were making short work of our glasses of Helles—the light, crisp lager native to Munich—when I asked Bauer, the product of an old local family, what made Bavarians distinct from other Germans. “A distrust of anyone except our neighbors,” he answered brightly. “Also, Bavarians drink a lot of beer, and beer makes you sentimental.” Just then the group in the lederhosen linked arms and began crooning a ribald folk ballad with a broad, boozy vibrato. After lunch we headed to the Tegernsee, a lake encircled by snowrimmed Alps that’s a popular getaway for Munich residents. The hour-long southbound drive snaked along mowed fields lined with Lilliputian sheds and distant foothills. The country’s longest natural toboggan course winds high above the Tegernsee, on the slopes of

a 1,720-meter-tall mountain called the Wallberg. On the autobahn, a minivan carrying a family of six whipped past us so fast that it felt like we were puttering along on a hay baler by comparison. Bachmair Weissach, a contemporary hotel decorated with the mahogany and deer skulls of a traditional hunting lodge, awaited us on the lake’s southern shore. One of the restaurants inside specialized in fondue; stripped of the kitschy 1970s connotation it has in America, fondue made a lot of sense. We spent our first dinner in Germany dipping forkfuls of bread, speck, and sliced figs into a pot of tangy Bergkäse—mountain cheese—and washing it down with glasses of cold Sylvaner.

A view of Rottach-Egern village from across Tegernsee lake. left: Roast saddle of lamb with cranberry sauce at Mizu, in the Hotel Bachmair Weissach.


A resident of GarmischPartenkirchen in traditional Bavarian dress.


The following morning we made a trip around the Tegernsee through villages of low houses with flower-garlanded balconies. In the town of Bad Wiessee, we stopped for lunch at Fischerei Bistro, a wooden structure flanked by two bathtubs used for chilling champagne. Christoph von Preysing, the handsome thirtysomething proprietor, pointed to a fishery he operated across the lake. It was the origin of the seriously delicious char he served three ways—in a salad, as roe, and as a whole, delicately smoked fillet. Later, in a village also called Tegernsee, on the opposite shore, we applied ourselves to a softball-size, butter-hued bread dumpling in mushroom gravy and local pilsner at the Herzogliches Bräustüberl Tegernsee, a cavernous beer hall inside a former Benedictine monastery. Hundreds of locals, day-trippers from Munich, and tourists from much farther away ate and drank to the sounds of a live brass band while waitresses laden with plates of wurst and baskets of Laugenbrezeln, traditional pretzels made with lye and salt, shimmied between the tables. That afternoon, we discovered that we would have to put our tobogganing on hold— because of unexpected warm weather, much of the snow had melted and the toboggan runs were closed. We rode the gondola to the top of the Wallberg anyway. Below us, the lake and the surrounding villages looked like a modelrailroad landscape; the storybook peaks behind us receded into Austria. According to the sweltering five-day forecast, the only place in Germany where we were certain to find tobogganing was atop Zugspitze, where the runs are open yearround. The drive there took us along the Isar River, which glowed such a luminous shade of aquamarine that we wondered whether it was rigged with underwater lights, and past Karwendel, a nature preserve roughly the size of Chicago. The landscape of jagged rock walls streaked with rugged pines and snow brought to mind the mythological operas of Richard Wagner, who spent his happiest years in Bavaria. With history on our minds and the overture from Das Rheingold blaring in our rented BMW, Paul and I decided to make a spontaneous detour to Linderhof Palace, the favorite home of Wagner’s patron, King Ludwig II. Handsome and tall, the Swan King, as he was known, enjoyed making unannounced trips to the countryside and presenting the farmers he met with lavish gifts. Some locals still refer to him in the Bavarian dialect as

Unser Kini—Our King. As European monarchs go, Ludwig was about as fun as they get. Linderhof looks like a shrunkdown Versailles transplanted to a remote mountain valley. The unexpectedly dainty palace is filled to the rafters with several types of marble, Meissen china, elephanttusk ivory, and enough gold leaf to gild a regional airport. Its most remarkable feature is a dining table that was set with food and wine in a subterranean kitchen and raised by a winch to the room above, where Ludwig preferred to eat alone. Afterward, he sometimes adjourned to the Venus Grotto, a man-made stalactite cave with an underground lake, painted to look like a scene from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. There, the Bavarian king was rowed about in a gilt seashell boat while one of the first electrical generators in Europe lit the walls in otherworldly colors. Schloss Elmau, our hotel and home base near the Zugspitze for the next four days, proved equally remarkable. It stands in a mountain valley where Ludwig’s horses stopped for water on the way to his hunting lodge on one of the nearby peaks. It is a vast, rambling structure anchored by a Romanesque tower, but our rooms were located in a newer, posher building called the Retreat. As we pulled up, a young woman in a dark suit approached our car and, in an aristocratic London accent, said, “Welcome, Mr. Halberstadt.” She led us inside a spacious common area trimmed in dark wood and filled with Chinese tapestries, shelves of hardcover books, and precisely trained spotlights, then onto a deck with a view of a mountain that jutted up into the clouds. When I inquired about checking in, our guide informed me that nothing as mundane as check-in existed at the Schloss Elmau, and that we were welcome to go up to our rooms at any time. Mine turned out to be a rambling suite with Balinese and Indian accents, discreet motion-sensor lights, and a 270-degree vista of the t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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valley. (Later, I discovered that when the Schloss hosted the G7 summit in 2015, my suite was occupied by Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan.) Despite the sumptuous rooms and numerous restaurants, saunas, and heated pools, the Schloss manages the trick of appearing neither forbidding nor gaudy. Studied yet casual touches—a shelf of board games, piles of art books with worn spines—defuse one’s awareness of the impeccable, laborious service happening just out of sight. As it turned out, the books I saw everywhere were more than an affectation. The Schloss contains three private libraries and a large bookstore. The latter is staffed by Ingeborg Prager, a tiny septuagenarian fond of red wine and cigarettes, whose main function at the Schloss Elmau, as far as I could tell, was to engage guests in conversations about books. Elsewhere, several halls host more than 220 performances a year by classical and jazz musicians, some world-renowned. The cultural program also includes intellectual symposia, readings, and mystifying events like Bill Murray reciting the poems of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman while accompanied by a string trio. I learned about the unlikely history of the place from its owner, Dietmar Müller-Elmau. The Schloss was a lark of his grandfather, Johannes Müller, a Protestant theologian and best-selling author of philosophical and spiritual treatises. Financed in 1914 by a countess who admired Müller’s teachings, it was intended as a retreat for visitors to transcend their egos by walking in nature and dancing vigorously to classical music. Eventually, Müller’s philosophical legacy was muddied by his vocal admiration for Hitler, and after the war the Schloss became an American military hospital and later a sanatorium for the Jewish victims of the Nazi regime. When Müller-Elmau took over the property, which was being run by his family as a barely

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profitable hotel, he saw it as an albatross. “But eventually I became interested in hotels,” he told me. Today, the Schloss is a reflection of his many odd and exacting thoughts about hospitality, décor and culture. Other sights awaited us. Located a 20-minute drive away, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a quaint town best known for hosting the 1936 Winter Olympics. It is dominated by a sinister-looking stadium surrounded by monumental sculptures of athletes. Luckily, not all of it is grim. One night, we headed there for dinner at Husar, where Paul and I made short work of the impossibly light veal schnitzel and confit of quail with beet carpaccio prepared by chef Verena Merget. Her husband, Christian, uncorked a singlevineyard dry Riesling from Schlossgut Diel in Nahe that tasted like a cocktail of limes and quartz dust. Then he opened another. The morning we went to Zugspitze, we found our car waiting for us outside the Retreat. In Garmisch, we parked by the unnervingly fast gondola, which shot us to the top of Zugspitze at an almost vertical incline; a smaller lift brought us to the glacier. A surly man at the equipment-rental counter shot me a funny look when I asked for a wooden sled. “Only pregnant mothers rent those,” he grumbled in accented English, then snickered when I asked for a helmet. Paul and I walked into the thin air dragging small plastic toboggans. A diagram on the wall had explained that you steered them by leaning back and lowering a foot into the snow. This looked dangerously unscientific. I made the first run haltingly down a gentle slope, lurching from side to side and finally coming to an ungraceful stop at the bottom. I wiped the snow from my face and trudged back up. After several descents I began to get the hang of steering around corners and felt the joyous tingling in the solar plexus I’d recalled from my childhood. “You know this is the kiddie slope, right?” Paul said. He was waiting for me at the top, grinning evilly. A sign beside him contained a line drawing of a woman and a small child on a sled. A short walk away, the grown-up slope plunged nearly straight down and then twisted out of sight. While I squinted at it apprehensively, a man in glasses and a green parka hopped on a toboggan and sped away. At the bottom of the first descent, the toboggan went out from under him and skittered onto the adjacent slope, nearly taking out a group of skiers. The man came to a halt on his back with


Atop Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak at 2,962 meters.

The sun warmed my face and the snow seemed to merge with the sky, making it look like I was walking on the roof of the world


germany

munich

HOW TO EXPLORE BAVARIA

This corner of Germany is renowned for its medieval villages, fairy-tale castles, hearty food, and outdoor pursuits—especially tobogganing in the winter. To get there, fly to Munich, the state capital, where you can rent a car and explore the region’s scenic rural roads at your own pace.

One of Zugspitze’s three toboggan runs.

his limbs splayed, looking like a beached starfish. I looked at Paul. “Come on,” he said, “this will be awesome!” I searched inside myself but received only a mournful, definitive no. “Your loss, dude,” Paul said, and shot down the slope. I watched his jacket grow smaller as he whizzed out of sight. Just then I regretted inviting him. I bit my lip and trudged away shamefully. A short while later I saw Paul walking toward me, his arms raised in triumph. “I scored weed on the ski lift,” he shouted. We agreed to meet later and I meandered back to the kiddie slope, pulling the toboggan behind me. The sun warmed my face and ahead of me the snow seemed to merge with the sky, making it look like I was walking on the roof of the world. Soon my mood lifted, too. I realized that I wanted sledding to remain in childhood, where it could keep singing its nostalgic song. Like hot cocoa and tonsillitis, it was something better left in the past. At the top of the kiddie slope I sat on the toboggan and pushed myself down the hill. By the time I got to the bottom, my face plastered with snow, I’d found what I’d come looking for.

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Hotels Hotel Bachmair Weissach Located an hour south of Munich, this rambling, comfortable resort has a Zen-meetshunting-lodge vibe, several good restaurants, and stunning mountain views. The property provides easy access to skiing and tobogganing on the Wallberg. Rottach-Egern; bachmair-weissach. com; doubles from €250. Schloss Elmau This grand hotel, hidden in an Alpine mountain valley about an hour west of Bachmair Weissach, is an utterly singular Bavarian experience. Daily concerts, numerous spas, nine restaurants, and a bookstore on the premises are just part of the story. Elmau; schlosselmau.de; doubles from €434. Restaurants Fischerei Bistro Impeccable local seafood served on the shores of the Tegernsee. Bad Wiessee; fischerei-tegernsee. com; mains €9–€32. Herzogliches Bräustüberl Tegernsee A rollicking beer hall in a former

monastery, this spot can’t be beat for its Laugenbrezeln— traditional pretzels made with lye and salt—and peoplewatching. Tegernsee; braustuberl.de; mains €6–€12. Luce d’Oro Schloss Elmau’s Michelinstarred restaurant serves refined yet approachable food alongside a colossal wine list. Elmau; schloss-elmau.de; mains €21–€47. Nürnberger Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom A beloved institution famous for its wood-grilled Nürnberger sausages and fresh Helles beer—with décor seemingly unchanged since the time of King Ludwig II. Munich; bratwurstgloeckl.de; mains €8–€26. Restaurant Husar In this sky-blue house covered in 200-year-old murals, chef Verena Merget’s flavorful Bavarian cooking pairs perfectly with a beverage program deep in German wines. GarmischPartenkirchen; restauranthusar.de; mains €19–€38. Restaurant Überfahrt At the only Michelin threestarred restaurant in Bavaria, you can enjoy regionally influenced food in a

modern dining room. Rottach-Egern; seehotel-ueberfahrt. com; tasting menus from €221. activities Linderhof Palace Though the popular Venus Grotto is closed for restoration, the extensive formal gardens surrounding this Rococo 19th-​ century schloss in the Bavarian Alps are as compelling as the rooms inside. Ettal; schloss​linderhof.de; tickets €8. Wallberg In addition to Germany’s longest toboggan run, this mountain claims unparalleled views of town and lake below. Take the gondola up at any time of year for breathtaking Alpine panoramas. Rottach-Egern; wallbergbahn.de; lift tickets from €10. Zugspitze Nearly 3,000 meters above sea level, the country’s tallest peak offers yearround tobogganing on natural snow— plus equipment rental, rustic restaurants, and a wealth of facilities. Rottach-Egern; zugspitze.de; lift tickets from €43.


T h e

G rief

and

t h e

G lor y


Nearly a quarter-century has passed since Rwanda was torn apart by a devastating genocide. As a young generation looks for ways to move on, a new wave of wildlife tourism is bringing visitors—and renewed optimism—to this inspiring East African nation. By Aatish Taseer Ph o t o g r a p h e d b y M i c h a e l Tur e k

The view from Bisate Lodge, looking toward Sabyinyo, Gahinga, and Muhavura volcanoes.

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‘It showed me life and man as the mystery, the true religion of men, the grief and the glory.’ —V. S. Naipaul

rom a basement in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, I caught the day flight to Kigali, Rwanda. All the usual suspects were aboard: humanitarian workers, American missionaries, Indian and African businessmen, families returning home, gorilla tourists like myself. Mid-flight, a Uganda-based pastor from Oklahoma rose and began, unsolicited, to lecture the cabin on Jesus. “He loved us so much that He died for us”—his words rang out in a piercing drawl—“but He didn’t stay dead….” Silence ensued, then from the gloom of the cabin came a lone voice: “How do you know?” I looked to see who had spoken. A young woman with light brown skin and high cheekbones looked up intently at the pastor. “Oh, I know!” he said, a little deflated. “I’ve been a pastor for thirty years.” The girl rolled her eyes; I laughed, and we got talking. That was how Chantal Batamuriza Mrimi gave me my first taste of how everyone above a certain age in Rwanda has a story. Chantal is a Tutsi. Her father fled Rwanda in 1961, during the first wave of Hutu violence against her tribe. She grew up a stateless refugee in Kisangani, the busted boomtown in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that V. S. Naipaul fictionalized in A Bend in the River as “a place where the future had come and gone.” I knew a little about the violent antagonism that had torn Rwanda apart. I knew that an ancient but fluid difference existed between Tutsi and Hutu people since premodern times. Tutsis raised livestock; Hutus tilled the land. Tutsis were said to possess classically Abyssinian features, akin to Chantal’s; the Hutus, in comparison, were shorter and darker. But the two groups had intermarried. They had the same religion and language. They were so similar, in fact, that people would joke that a bad harvest could make a Tutsi a Hutu; a windfall, turn a Hutu into a Tutsi.

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All that changed under European colonial rule, which began with the formation of German East Africa in 1884. In the early 20th century, Europeans were obsessed with ideas of racial purity. They conjectured that the Tutsis were a lost tribe from the civilized north, white under their black skin. The Hutus embodied their idea of eternally savage Africa. After World War I, Belgium became the reigning authority, and less than a decade later issued both groups identity cards, thus permanently dividing Rwandan society. Then, following that old colonial credo of divide and rule, they used the Tutsis to govern the Hutus. And so, what had begun as a mutable boundary hardened into an inescapable social fact. The ground was prepared for a violent animus, which erupted in the years leading up to independence in 1962. That was why Chantal’s family had been driven out. But why was she going back? “We returned after the genocide,” she explained. “For my parents, Rwanda was a promised land. But my memories of it are very bittersweet.” The genocide Chantal was referring to was, in speed and scale, an atrocity like none the world has seen in recent memory: up to a million dead by machete and other crude instruments in a mere 100 days, from April to July 1994. The Interahamwe—a Hutu paramilitary organization responsible for the bulk of the killings— ruled the streets, and every bond of humanity was negated. Hutu husbands killed their Tutsi wives, priests their flocks, teachers their students. The slaughter ended only when an army composed of Hutu moderates and Tutsi exiles like Chantal’s family, led by the current Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, invaded from neighboring Uganda. It is from this terrible history that this country of 12 million has spent the past two decades healing.

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Thatched villas built into the mountainside at Bisate Lodge. opposite: Women walking beside the road between Kigali and Volcanoes National Park.


The gorillas are a symbol—of hope, of the return to normal life. They are the face with which Rwanda can look at the world again

A silverback, or adult male mountain gorilla, in his nest in Volcanoes National Park.


Chantal, who now lives in Scotland, said, “I’m not totally sold on this ‘new Rwanda’ mythology.” We began our descent into Kigali. Outside, a silver band of sky lay flat over a bank of charcoal cloud. The wet season was almost here. Out of the blue, Chantal asked if I was going to see the gorillas. “I wept when I first saw them,” she said. “They’re more human than us. That recognition! It was too much.” It was strange to talk of the humanity of the gorillas, when we had been talking about the inhumanity of humans. But the gorillas are a symbol—of hope, of the return to normal life. They are the face with which Rwanda can look at the world again. As Manzi Kayihura, co-owner of tourism company Thousand Hills Africa, said to me, “We are famous for two things: gorillas and genocide.” The white lights of Kigali pierced the dark, hilly terrain. We touched down at an altitude of 1,500 meters, and walked into the fluorescent-lit terminal. The cool and smoky tarmac air reminded me of the onset of winter in northern India, where I grew up.

W

elcome to Heaven,” I heard again and again on my first morning in Kigali. And from the terrace of Heaven—a wonderful boutique hotel owned by an American couple—I could see the city of red hills and red sloping roofs, its broad arterial streets coated in fine red dust. That redness, despite my best efforts, made me think of what James Baldwin once wrote of the rust-red soil of Georgia: “I could not suppress the thought that this earth had acquired its color from the blood that had dripped down from these trees.” Chantal had warned me not to speak of the genocide in Kigali, but that proved impossible. It is the city’s main tourist attraction. My driver, Henry Mwumvaneza, a studious-looking young man in a bright-green T-shirt, began to discuss it before we had even left the airport. There are genocide memorials and a museum. The Hôtel des Mille Collines, which the film Hotel Rwanda is about, is down the road from Heaven. It is possible to visit the wreckage of President Habyarimana’s plane, which was shot down on April 6, 1994—by the Hutu insurgency, many believe—sparking those 100 days of carnage. Henry spoke of that time with a detachment that belied the fact that it was still part of living memory. The Rwandan genocide, unlike the Holocaust, was not carried out by a faceless state-run apparatus. It is believed that as many as a million people participated in the slaughter. As Philip Gourevitch put it in his landmark book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, there was hardly a Rwandan “who was not related to someone who had either killed or been killed.” Though there were decades of hearings and punishments, the scale of the crime was too great for there to be any real justice. In its place came remembrance: from April to July each year, a ritual 100 days of mourning are observed. Remembrance is also a way of moving on. The country is young— 79 percent of the population is under 35. “This is our time,” said Friday James, a spruce young Rwandan TV anchor I met in Kigali one day. “We’ve been held back by history,” he said. “Now let’s move ahead.” Friday, who was three years old and living in Uganda when the genocide took place, was full of what the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch might have described as “militant optimism.” He said he wants to understand the “pain he saw in adult eyes,” but he is impatient with the old tribalisms. Kagame’s government has abolished identification cards and made it illegal to ask whether someone is Hutu or Tutsi. As Friday, a poster child of the forwardlooking PK (Paul Kagame) generation, said: “This is something that

is not even of interest. We want jobs, we want to buy land, build a house, buy a car.” Today, Kigali is booming. There are new hotels, new restaurants, a flood of tourists. There are delightful open-air bars like Repub Lounge and Sundowner, and a flashy new convention center. What I loved most about the city was the easy style of the streets. The beer bars enveloped in a permanent air of afternoon. The salons de coiffure. The women carrying babies in brightly colored slings. The idle young men with arms draped over one another. It is a city that manages to be energizing without being enervating; it has none of the frenzy of Cairo or Mumbai. Rwanda also has among the best social indicators in Africa. One report rated it the safest country on the continent, the ninth-safest in the world. There are more women in parliament than in any other nation; the number of university graduates has increased 14-fold in the post-genocide years. Henry, who was completing a master’s, said, “We say that we gained our independence in 1962, but we were reborn in 1994.”

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he gorillas live in the northwest of the country, in Volcanoes National Park, on the border of Uganda and the DRC. Henry and I drove north on a winding road. Kigali fell away in a matter of minutes, and we found ourselves in a beguiling landscape of terraced hills, eucalyptus forests, and banana groves. There were mud-brick villages, their tiled roofs steaming from a recent downpour, and brawling streams of ferric red. The patchwork of green and rust was interrupted by the occasional crimson bougainvillea or spiky Erythrina abyssinica, sometimes known as the red-hot poker flower. We stopped for lunch in Nyirangarama, a one-horse town that Sina Gerard, one of Rwanda’s most famous businessmen, put on the map. Sina built an empire from a weapons-grade chili oil called Akabanga. The hot-sauce magnate, mustached and aloof, greeted me with a smile of papal beneficence, then seemed to offer me his hand to kiss. I politely declined, and sidled off to gorge myself on a buffet of rice and beans, beef and cassava. It was my best meal in Rwanda. Chantal had spoken of a local stew called isombe made of cassava leaves, and it was every bit as delicious as she described, especially when sprinkled with a few radioactive drops of Akabanga. We pressed on. The rain came and went. The earth grew dark and volcanic. Lowering clouds turned the verdure a deep, sulky green. I felt myself leave the sphere of the human story in Kigali and enter slowly into the world of the

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gorillas. But even here, deep in this interior pocket of Africa, bounded by five volcanoes, the genocide resurfaced in surprising ways. “Have you noticed,” Henry said just before we reached Bisate Lodge, “that there are no dogs in Rwanda?” I hadn’t, but he was right: I hadn’t seen or heard a single one. Why? His explanation chilled me: dogs ate the dead, and in 1994 soldiers had killed them all for dishonoring the memory of the fallen. Dogs were a casualty of the human drama, condemned for succumbing to a temptation they should never have been exposed to. It was evening when the yellow lights of Bisate Lodge appeared through mist and rain, as if out of an equatorial Star Wars. The thatched mountainside villas are modeled on the old king’s palace in Nyanza, and look like the handiwork of a flock of giant weaverbirds. At the foot of a volcanic rock staircase, we were met by Ingrid Baas, the lodge’s Dutch general manager, and a welcoming party of Rwandan staff. Upstairs, in a great central chamber— part Xanadu, part Beowulf—fires burned on both sides; there were books, rugs and animal skins, rattan chairs on a terrace, and bits of green glass that danced enticingly over a bar, where the flow of drinks was endless. We were at 2,400 meters. The air was thin. In my room, a two-faced fire roared between the bathroom and bedroom. The wooden ribs of this cavernous pod, designed by the South African architect Nick Plewman and breathtakingly luxurious, brought on a childish feeling of wonder akin to stories like The Swiss Family Robinson or Jonah in the belly of the whale. But a belly equipped with deep bathtubs, soft beds and sweeping views. For all its comfort, the villa was an observation post. The main attraction was the volcanoes: Bisoke and, farther in the distance, Karisimbi, the summit of which, in the cold season, is covered in snow. The purple masses of the two peaks, both of which sloped down into the DRC, seemed to still the land around. I felt their solemnity like a weight on my chest. As night began its descent over the land, a scrawl of lightning ran across the sky. Bisoke is where Dian Fossey carried out her groundbreaking work habituating the great ape. Fossey lived in Rwanda on and off for 18 years, until her mysterious murder in 1985, likely at the hands of the poachers she had spent her life protecting the gorillas from. Fossey is a legend in these parts, but there are some who now believe her attitudes were too uncompromising, and that her reluctance to allow tourists into the park did the gorillas more harm than good. “She wanted them all for herself,” one local said to me. “They were Dian

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Guests gather in the dining room of Bisate Lodge. right: Locally grown passion fruit and tree tomato are served for breakfast at the lodge.


Fossey’s gorillas.” Primate numbers have increased as poaching has declined. There are now plans afoot to increase the size of the park to cope with the growing population. Downstairs in the great hall, guests were gathering for cocktails. It was cold and wet, and fires burned brightly. On the menu there was kuku paka, a coconut-based chicken curry, which tasted like a bit of India smuggled into Africa. There was South African wine and Rwandan coffee. It was all perfect, but the intimacy of the lodge—it sleeps only 12—felt at times a little stifling. From the communal dinners to the daily exchange of photographs and gorilla stories, I felt as if I had gate-crashed a family Christmas.

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he forest began as soon as my tracking party and I passed the low wall of loose stones that runs around the perimeter of Volcanoes National Park, less than an hour’s drive from the lodge. One minute we were among mud houses and fields of pyrethrum, a white flower used to make insecticide; the next, we had entered the sunless enclosure of the saddle area, the dense forest that surrounds the upper part of Bisoke. We were in search of the Pablo group of gorillas, a family led by two silverbacks that Dian Fossey herself habituated. The climb was precipitous: 600 meters in less than an hour. We had to beat our way through ferns and nettles. One fellow guest briefly succumbed to altitude sickness, then rallied. The forest grew dark and entangled; leopard spots of sunlight flashed overhead. The great architectural trees of the saddle area appeared around us: there was Hagenia, with its flaking cigarettepaper bark and its fountain-shaped canopy of ferny leaves; there were haunting groves of St.-John’s-wort, or Hypericum, whose long branches hung with Usnea lichen, which looks like Spanish moss;


sometimes we came upon the majestic sight of Lobelia gibberoa, a giant fern, the leaves of which the gorillas use to make their nests. The trackers, who had gone on ahead of us with walkie-talkies, soon sent word that they had located the Pablo nesting area. It meant the gorillas were near. We passed an alcove of Lobelia leaves covered in fresh gorilla dung. The forest became so dense, so full of nettles, that even machetes could scarcely clear a path. We fought our way out into a sloping meadow, and had barely found our footing when we almost stepped on Dushishoze, a magnificent silverback gorilla. He lay sprawled out in the sun, grooming a juvenile, while the many members of his family—I think I counted 23 in total—lay in a comatose heap behind him. A moment of pure religious elation came over our group. We fell to our haunches in exaltation, in alarm, in awe. The gorillas, though clearly enjoying a siesta, eyed us with that mixture of curiosity and contempt that astrologers, doctors and men of God adopt for the pilgrim hordes who come to see them. Then they went about their business of stretching, yawning, shredding stalks and removing nits from the sleek black fur of their brethren. The longer we stayed, the more active they grew. They gamboled down the hillside in clumsy somersaults; they made little grunts of contentment to signal their willingness to tolerate our presence. We were told not to hold eye contact, but it was impossible to look away. Their faces were so old, and so knowing. Chantal was right: there was something infinitely human in those black and amber eyes, a deep atavistic sense of recognition that was present even in the face of little Uruyange, who was scarcely six months old and for whom there had just been an elaborate state-sanctioned naming ceremony. At US$1,500 for a one-day permit—the price recently doubled—the gorillas are a source of hard cash, and witnessing them is no doubt out of reach for the majority of Rwandans. But they are a symbol of recovery, the keepers of a lost humanity. It was to them the country turned after men had done what no beast was capable of—the systematic eradication of one group by another that lends a unique taint to human history.

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wanda is a hard country. It forces you to balance many opposing ideas—hope and despair, death and rebirth, humanity and bestiality, exploitation and opportunity, the grief and the glory. The temptation is to avert one’s gaze from what lies below the surface: to parachute in and parachute out. But it is in reckoning with contradiction that the true wonder of travel lies. I had been thinking of Chantal throughout my time in Rwanda. Then, on my last evening in Kigali, an extraordinary coincidence occurred. I was waiting in line outside the airport when a car pulled up next to mine: it was Chantal! I could hardly believe my eyes; it was as if I had conjured her up. We both got out, and marveled at the strange synchronicity. I asked Chantal if she was flying out, too; she said no, she was dropping off a friend, but would be leaving in a few days. A fleeting look of sadness entered her eyes as she spoke. When I got home, Chantal’s self-published memoir, The Journey of My Life from Rwanda, was waiting for me. “Yet there is hope for Africa,” she had written, marveling at the way her homeland turned utter ruin into regeneration. It was an alchemy Chantal had practiced in her own life, working through pain to a place of strength and emotional wisdom. In Rwanda, history casts a longer shadow than in any other place I have been to. But what I also saw was that those who are willing to confront the past boldly, as Chantal surely had, can set themselves free of its bonds.

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How to Experience Rwanda What you need to know to put together a trip that includes a stay in the capital, Kigali, as well as gorilla-tracking in Volcanoes National Park. getting there Connect to Kigali International Airport through major hubs including Brussels and Doha. Visas Nationals of Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore may visit Rwanda for up to 90 days without a visa. All other passport holders can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival at Kigali International Airport; some must pay a US$30 fee. migration. gov.rw. permits Gorilla permits in Volcanoes National Park cost US$1,500 per person per day. Buy them through the Rwanda Development Board (rwanda​tourism.com) or through a tour operator. tour operators Micato Safaris Expeditions with this decorated company—a nine-time winner in our World’s Best Awards— range from gorillatracking in the Virunga volcanoes to city tours of Kigali. micato.com; four-day trips from US$3,950, excluding gorilla permits. Wilderness Safaris Itinerary options include museum tours in Kigali as well as wildlife outings like birding in Akagera National Park,

rain-forest hiking near Lake Kivu, and tracking Dian Fossey’s beloved mountain gorillas from Bisate Lodge. wilderness-safaris.com; five-day trips from US$7,044. travel advisor Dan Achber An experienced East Africa guide (and T+L A-List travel advisor), Achber creates custom Rwanda itineraries that combine urban exploration and wilderness experiences. dan@trufflepig.com. lodges & Hotels Bisate Lodge Less than 15 kilometers from Volcanoes National Park, these villas overlooking Bisoke volcano make the perfect launchpad for a gorilla safari. Each is modeled after Rwandan royal-palace architecture; interiors feature traditional fabrics and motifs. wilderness-safaris.com; doubles from US$1,150. The Retreat, Heaven Restaurant & Boutique Hotel Make this appealing property, where guests have included everyone from Scarlett Johansson to the king of Morocco, your base for exploring Kigali. Be sure to have a cocktail at the famous terrace restaurant, which overlooks the city lights. heavenrwanda. com; doubles from US$115.


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Barbados is a tale of two coasts. While the west draws sunseekers to its famous Caribbean shores, the east is a frontier for adventure lovers lured by its epic Atlantic surf. Marisa Meltzer dives into both. P h o t o g r a p h e d b y M a rcu s N i l s s o n


SeaCat, a local surfer and employee at the Sea-U Guest House, in Bathsheba, serves fresh coconut juice. Opposite: Crane Beach, on Barbados’s southeastern coast.

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From left: The space for afternoon tea at Hunte’s

Gardens, a privately owned oasis that’s open to the public; Sea Side Bar, a local hangout in Bathsheba; grilled snapper with rice and salad at De Garage, in Bathsheba; artist Sheena Rose in her home studio.

The first and last time I saw Rihanna— in a swimsuit, no less— was at the

airport. Her likeness was just behind the customs booth, hanging in a place typically reserved for government leaders. I had expected to see Barbados’s most famous daughter many, many times over the course of my weeklong stay. But I quickly discovered that the locals aren’t especially caught up in Rihanna’s allure. They’d rather focus on people and places that the rest of the world hasn’t already discovered. Barbados has always been a bit of an outlier in the Caribbean. Geographically, this former British colony is the region’s easternmost country, a pear-shaped island jutting far out into the southern Atlantic. (It is so far east, in fact, that it is usually spared by hurricanes.) And though the Caribbean-facing western coast has long been popular with well-heeled Brits who fly in for the polo, the five-star resorts, and the pristine beaches, the windswept, Atlantic-facing eastern coast is still wild and unpolished. It draws a bohemian, international crowd of hippies and outdoorsy types, who come not only for the laid-back pace but also for the spectacular surf—something that few Caribbean islands can claim. The breaks in Barbados may not be on the same level as the Gold Coast of Australia, but the


country is slowly gaining international cred, as evidenced by last spring’s Barbados Surf Pro, the first-ever professional tournament held there. I came to this underrated surfing paradise to spend time with my dad, Paul, a wave enthusiast who had always tried to lure me, a reluctant sun worshipper, to the beach. Culturally, Barbados produces proud outliers: people who want to build a life on the island, yet also want their work to be recognized beyond a country so small that when you ask people which neighborhood they’re from, they’ll give you the specific street. The painter Sheena Rose is one of these outliers. With her statement glasses and ever-changing hair, Rose looks like someone you’d see on the streets of Brooklyn. “I consider myself a Bajan Frida Kahlo,” she told me when we met shortly after I landed for a lunch overlooking the sea at the Crane Hotel. Barbados does not have an art school. Nor is there much of an art scene (most of the galleries cater to tourists who want paintings of sunsets) beyond Rose and her crew of creative friends. And yet Rose is a rising star in the contemporary art world, whose work has appeared at the Venice Biennale and London’s

Royal Academy of Arts. Venus Williams collects her. Rose earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, which she attended on a Fulbright scholarship. “I feel like an outsider now, after Greensboro,” she said, as we drove to her tiny studio. “I don’t feel like a full Bajan anymore.” Rose still lives with her parents in a middleclass neighborhood of pastel homes faded by the salty air, not far from Bridgetown, the capital city. When we walked in the door, The Andy Griffith Show played on the large TV in the living room, and Rose crouched down to pet one of her three dogs. (Their names: Popcorn, Caramel and Candy.) She then took me into her studio—once her brother’s bedroom—to see Sweet Gossip, her latest series of paintings. Local black women were drawn in outlines, their faces marked by dabs of color to show how the light hit their skin. And what colors they were: dusky roses, slate blues, dark caramels, olive greens. Some of the women were talking on the phone, others lounged in classic poses like odalisques. The backgrounds and clothing, with their bright t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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geometric patterns, recalled West African batiks or Moroccan tiles. After oohing and ahhing over the paintings so much that Rose’s mom, Elaine, a caterer, started laughing at me, I told Rose on the spot I needed to buy one. Later, a question occurred to me. “Is it Barbadian or Bajan?” I asked. “Is one preferred by the locals?” “Not really,” Elaine replied. “Maybe people prefer Bajan, I guess,” Rose added. She used my curiosity as an excuse to introduce me to popular local phrases. “There’s ‘cheeseon,’ which is kind of like saying, ‘Jesus,’ and ‘cawblein,’ which is if you’re surprised or can’t believe it.” A taxi driver named Valance picked me up at Rose’s home and drove me the hour or so to the town of Bathsheba, the epicenter of the surf scene on the eastern coast. As we passed mahogany trees, a lighthouse, and a rainbow, I got a call from my dad, who was meeting me there and had arrived the night before. “This place reminds me of Hawaii in the seventies,” he said. “And I know because I was in Hawaii in the seventies. I need you to get a bottle of Mount Gay XO rum. Are you writing this all down?” I answered in the affirmative. “I didn’t know I liked rum, but this stuff is amazing,” he said. Valance and I stopped at a supermarket to pick some up. Barbados is, after all, the birthplace of rum, so I knew it would be good, but I wasn’t prepared for the smoky elixir that is Mount Gay, the oldest brand. It’s perhaps even more delicious when mixed with passion-fruit juice, bitters and nutmeg into a punch, which is the welcome drink that the Sea-U Guest House, in Bathsheba, serves to arriving visitors. Perched on a hill overlooking the coast, it’s the kind of small bed-andbreakfast that attracts adventurous, laid-back guests who don’t mind the lack of room service and air-conditioning because they’re more interested in finding the best surf spot or chasing a recommendation of a great local yoga instructor. “I came here twenty years ago as a writer and thought, Well, I don’t have to travel anymore,” Uschi Wetzels, the German owner of Sea-U, told me. “This place is luscious and remote and yet not that far from civilization.” I was staying in the whitewashed main house, where the six simple rooms have rattan chairs, Patricia Highsmith novels, and beds draped with mosquito nets (which I quickly learned were not entirely decorative and, actually, totally necessary). That evening,

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Paul and I sat on our shared balcony facing the sea, rum punches in hand. “Did you surf today?” I asked. “No. I needed a day to observe,” he replied, somewhat elliptically. My dad has been surfing since his early teens and still goes out on the water every week in Santa Cruz, California, where I grew up. As his only child, I was a real failure in the outdoorsy department, spending trips to Kauai bored in hotel rooms reading the Brontë sisters and wishing I were in gray northern England. I have since come to my senses and learned to appreciate tropical vacations, even though I had no intention of getting on a surfboard on this one. Later on, we walked down the road from Sea-U to dinner at De Garage Bar & Grill, a casual, open-air café. On the way there, we ran into two local surfers named SeaCat and Biggie, who chatted with Paul about their favorite board shapers in San Diego. At the restaurant, soca music blasted, and we ordered grilled whole red snapper with rice and peas to share. The temperature outside was a perfect 26 degrees, and the local Banks beers were icecold, which made the fish taste that much better. Dessert was a shared sliver of piñacolada-flavored cheesecake that we devoured in 90 seconds. The next morning, I drank coffee on the porch to fight my hangover while watching a family of green monkeys jump from tree to tree. I walked down the hill from Sea-U to the beach, which, thankfully, took all of five minutes, stopping to wave hello to Valance, who was driving by in his taxi. At the bottom of the hill was the main road—the only road—with beach houses and rum shacks on one side and the coast on the other. The beach went on for a kilometer or so and was strewn with massive limestone boulders that separated it into smaller sections and surf spots, each with its own name. Soup Bowl, the most famous break here, is one of Kelly Slater’s favorite waves in the world. “Have you seen a tall, white American guy surfing?” I asked a passerby. He hadn’t. Giving up the search for my father, I stopped at Parlour, a beach with tide pools the size of small swimming pools, where an eclectic crowd—a young couple with a baby, a crew of teen girls, a group of middle-aged women—was soaking in the turquoise waters to get a little relief from the heat. We all watched a man fishing for squid and then cheered on someone’s dog who had dived into the water. I eventually found Paul, and we caught up over lunch at Sea Side Bar, a classic island shack that locals frequent to hear cricket matches on


A kayaker heads out from Paddle Barbados sport shop, near Bridgetown.

A kayaker heads out from Paddle Barbados sport shop, near Bridgetown.


Clockwise from left: Hammocks in the garden at Sea-U Guest House; surfing at Soup Bowl, the eastern coast’s biggest break; grilled mahi-mahi with new potatoes, herbs and vegetables at the Lone Star, a hotel and restaurant on the western coast; Bajan surfer Chelsea Tuach on the beach in front of Soup Bowl.


the radio and eat a mean mahi-mahi sandwich, heavy on the addictive, just-spicy-enough yellow-pepper sauce that’s more ubiquitous on the island than ketchup. Paul filled me in on his trip to Bath Beach, about half an hour south, with Jason Cole, who owns Paddle Barbados, one of the island’s most popular surf outfitters. “Soup Bowl was windy in the morning, so we went down the coast, where the waves were about waist-high,” Paul told me. “There are sea urchins and lionfish, so you have to be careful.” One day at Soup Bowl, Paul and I ran into Chelsea Tuach and her mom, Margot. Tuach is an east-coast fixture. Ranked 23rd in the world in women’s professional surfing, Tuach is a third-generation Bajan. She’s 22, but looks much younger in her braces and jean shorts. “Out here it’s a bit of everyone surfing, really,” she said in her lilting, almost Irish-sounding accent. “Old guys like Snake who come down for big swells, my generation who go out every day, parents teaching their kids to surf.”

doing the hour-long road trip ourselves in a rented Suzuki jeep with a canvas roof. In Barbados, which is part of the British commonwealth, driving is on the left. When Paul would veer off the narrow highway so as to avoid cars, coming in the other direction, my eyes jumped to the meter-deep ditch just centimeters away from our vehicle—I was terrified that the jeep was going to roll over. The interior of the island can be dry compared with the jungly eastern coast. We passed small, faded houses and seemingly endless fields of sugarcane until we came to Hunte’s Gardens. What sounded like just another tourist attraction turned out to be a lush oasis (and a welcome relief from the tension between us). Bajan horticulturist Anthony Hunte bought this former sugar plantation, which dates back to the 17th century, in 1990; he opened it as one of the world’s most unlikely public gardens 10 years ago.

t h e te m p e r a t u r e ou t s i d e wa s a p e r f e c t 2 6 d e g r ee s , and the local B a n k s bee r s w e r e ice-cold While Tuach went out in the water, we sat on raised benches under a sign that read da spot. Paul explained the byzantine and entirely unspoken pecking order that determines which surfer gets which wave. “It’s who was there first, but at the same time, the local surfer and the better surfer go first.” As both a local and a pro, Tuach would always get priority. We watched as she caught a wave and Paul narrated: “Chelsea up. Boom! Off the lip.” A serene moment passed between us. “Who knew I’d ever be sitting and watching surfing with you?” I asked. My dad laughed and patted my head. “I love you.” OUR FATHER-DAUGHTER serenity lasted until the next day, when we had to drive together. We were leaving the eastern coast for the west, the wild for the more expected, and

“This is paradise,” I shouted to Paul as we parked on the side of the road and walked down the stairs to see this incredible spot in the middle of the rain forest. Spread out before us was an over-the-top, rambling tropical garden built into a sinkhole 45 meters deep and 150 meters across. Paths wound through towering palm trees, red ginger, birds-of-paradise, monsteras, impatiens, and taro that would make any budding horticulturist burn with envy. Sculptures of saints and Buddhas were scattered about. I followed a trail past a giant lobster-claw plant and was surprised to come upon a British family having a proper afternoon tea. Later, I bumped into Imran, the sole groundskeeper. “We keep it natural,” he told me. “How does it stay so lush but groomed?” I asked him. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 8

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“Remember, a weed is only a weed if you don’t want it there,” he replied. As bewitching as we found these unexpected havens, there comes a time when calm, sandy beaches and climate-controlled hotel rooms call out to you. The Lone Star, a stylish boutique hotel and restaurant on the western coast, was the answer to our prayers. Purchased in 2013 by the British millionaire and soccer team owner David Whelan, the Lone Star was once a garage and gas station. The old structure is still intact, but it now houses six chic guest rooms, each named for a classic American car. I was in Buick, which was done up in preppy, crisp blue and white and had a terrace the size of my living room in Brooklyn, about six meters from the water. “Now this is the ideal beach for drinking rosé,” Paul said. The Lone Star’s small stretch of sand runs just the length of the hotel. It is private for guests and never crowded. There were plenty of chaises and umbrellas, but I settled on my terrace, with the bottle of rum punch that the hotel leaves for everyone as a welcome gift. I started a watercolor painting of a potted palm. Within an hour, Paul resurfaced, dragging a paddleboard down the beach. “This is big enough to land a plane on,” he said, by way of invitation. After a few days of watching everyone else stand up on a board, I had decided to give it a go. I attached the leash to my ankle, swam out in the waveless water, and hurled myself onto the board with all the grace of a sea lion. I managed to balance for a few

seconds and then fell. Paul stood on the beach, rosé in hand, and shouted instructions I couldn’t make out. That night, we went to dinner at the Lone Star’s restaurant, which is one of the most famous on Barbados, for good reason. It’s openair, right on the beach, and decorated all in white. The whole place is reminiscent of something one might find in the south of France, and it attracts a similarly fashionable crowd of men in linen and women in Isabel Marant dresses. There was plenty of local fish on the menu, but also curries and shepherd’s pie for the British lads. Paul ordered snapper, I had the seafood linguine, and we split an exceptional bottle of bone-dry Pouilly-Fuissé. But the high point of the meal was the banana doughnuts with coconut ice cream, rum caramel and crushed pistachios. The restaurant was so fun and the food so delicious that we couldn’t wait to return the following night. When I woke up the next day, I could see Bajan grannies in shower caps bathing in the water, gossiping as they kept afloat on pool noodles. I swam out into the sea, perhaps a little too far. I saw a lone figure on a paddleboard, about half a kilometer up the coast. It was Paul, communing with the ocean one last time. As I swam back to shore, I heard a familiar song playing at the Lone Star’s restaurant. “We found love in a hopeless place,” sang a plaintive voice coming over the speakers. It was a cover of a Rihanna song, and I was happy to hear it.

The details getting there Connect via U.S. cities including New York, Boston and Miami for nonstop flights to Grantley Adams International Airport. Hotels Lone Star Boutique Hotel A small yet polished boutique hotel on the west coast. Enjoy breakfast on your suite’s terrace. thelonestar. com; doubles from US$2,000. Sea-U Guest House The best place for a visit to the island’s east coast, this property may not have air-conditioning, but it makes up for it with tropical gardens and unspoiled beaches. seaubarbados. com; doubles from US$179. Restaurants & bars De Garage Grilled whole fish and

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piña colada cheesecake at this divey local haunt are made even better by the loud soca music and convivial atmosphere. Bathsheba; 1-246/433-9521. Dina’s Bar & Café Sit outside at this multicolored café and indulge in the island’s famous rum punch. Main Road, Bathsheba; 1-246/433-9726. L’Azure Overlooking the pristine Crane Beach, this restaurant at the Crane Resort is arguably the most picturesque on the island. thecrane.com; mains US$23–$58. Lone Star Restaurant The allwhite décor and extensive wine list make this space feel like something from the south of France. Don’t skip the banana doughnuts at dessert. thelonestar. com; mains US$32–$57.

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local pastime

While in Barbados, be sure to embrace the island’s love of sports. Visit between January and April to attend one of the many popular polo matches.

Sea Side Bar A classic rum shack on Bathsheba’s main drag. Order a fried-fish sandwich with potato wedges and wash it down with Mount Gay rum. 1-246/831-1961. activities Hunte’s Gardens This hidden tropical garden in St. Joseph is built into a sinkhole and will make you feel as though you’re encountering a real-life FernGully. huntesgardensbarbados.com. Paddle Barbados Rent your own paddleboarding gear or have owners Jason and Sarah Cole take you out for a private lesson. Bridgetown; paddlebarbados.com. Soup Bowl Witness surfers of all ages and proficiencies riding the waves at this iconic spot, one of the best in the Caribbean. Bathsheba.


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wish you were here

Atop Sunset Peak, high above the South China Sea, Hong Kong is deceptively calm and cool during winter months. At 869 meters above sea level, this green escape on Lantau Island is the perfect perch to watch the world go by: distant ferries plying the waters between Hong Kong and Macau; aircraft gliding into and out of the nearby airport. But the more immediate surroundings are all natural—rocky outcrops bursting through the sweeping hills, a reminder that most of Hong Kong is parkland. — michelle clough

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february 2018 / t r av el andleisure asia .com


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February 2018  

Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia February 2018

February 2018  

Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia February 2018