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Southeast asia

june 2017

Kid Stuff

Fun Family Travel Nirvana in Nepal The Chinese city where the future is now

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

How to play by new hotel rules


Hotel Royal Hoi An

TALES OF VIETNAM MGallery by Sofitel is a collection of boutique hotels dedicated to engaged explorers. No two properties are alike, and each MGallery hotel stands as a gateway into another world — be it an inspired aesthetic universe of style and design, a storied locale with rich historical character, or a private hidden retreat. From the colonial charm of Hanoi in the north to the wild beauty of Phu Quoc Island in the south, MGallery is the ideal place for discerning travellers to immerse themselves in the romance, history, and culture of Vietnam. Just steps from Hanoi’s stunning, century-old Opera House, Hôtel de l’Opera recreates the glamour of an evening at the theatre in everything from the decadence of the suites to the opulence of the fine dining restaurant Satine. Colonial accents and classic opera motifs juxtaposed with sophisticated contemporary designs capture the best of Asia’s most beautiful city. Generously proportioned guest rooms are sanctuaries of sumptuous comfort, with every element hand-picked for quality. Rich wooden floors and exotic fabrics and furnishings are paired with the finest amenities from renowned luxury brands.

Hôtel de l’Opera


La Résidence Hue Hôtel & Spa

Hôtel Des Arts Saigon is a tribute to chic Indochina style with an elegant French touch. Generously sized rooms provide a glimpse into the city’s old-world glamour with period artwork, custom furnishings by Vietnamese artisans, rosewood flooring, and elegant writing desks. But this is also a place that embraces the present, where guests embark on gastronomical tours of the best of Vietnamese and Western cuisine. Also home to The Social Club — Saigon’s most stylish bar — Hôtel Des Arts is the place to take in Saigon’s glittering skyline and shimmering stars.

Hôtel Des Arts Saigon

On the bank of Vietnam’s fragrant Perfume River, La Résidence Hue Hôtel & Spa is an Art Deco masterpiece with a lively history. Once part of a governor’s residence built in the 1930s, it was meticulously restored and retains all the charm of the classic colonial villa. In the spacious rooms, the full host of modern conveniences are complemented by period-perfect furnishings, dark hardwood, and French colonial tile. Diners enjoy a fusion experience that pays homage to Hue’s rich culinary heritage, while Le Gouverneur Bar captures the swinging good times of a bygone era with signature rice-wine cocktails and Cuban cigars.

Overlooking pristine turquoise waters on its own private stretch of white sand beach, La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc takes guests on an elegant journey of discovery back to historic Indochina. Fashioned after a colonial-style seaside mansion, the resort is a sanctuary of well-being and rejuvenation. Unspoiled natural landscapes envelop guests at every turn, whether indulging in innovative Pacific Rim cuisine or taking in a mesmerising sunset from a chic bar overlooking the gulf. In spacious garden rooms surrounded by exotic flowers, and in beachfront suites and villas with stunning views, guests enjoy the utmost privacy and unparalleled service. La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc

Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage town famed for its splendid blend of cultures. That authentic character is celebrated at Hotel Royal Hoi An, where a magnificent white stone facade and canopied grand entrance greet guests on arrival. Modern facilities, lush bedding and a touch of colonial charm complement luxurious rooms, while the two signature restaurants and remarkable swimming pool enhance the intimate ambiance of the tranquil Thu Bon River and bring to life the story of this unique, majestic destination. For more information, visit accorhotels.com


A 24/7 ESCAPE. TRANQUIL BY DAY. ELECTRIC BY NIGHT. SITUATED BETWEEN MAENAM AND BO PHUT, IT HAS THE FINEST AND MOST PRISTINE BEACH LOCATION IN THAILAND, OVERLOOKING STUNNING BEACHES AND LUSH FORESTS, W RETREAT KOH SAMUI AWAKENS AS THE SUN GOES DOWN, IGNITING THE UNEXPECTED. ILLUMINATING.. ENVIRONS. TAKE IT EASY. SURROUNDED BY VERDANT FOLIAGE, EACH OF OUR 74 PRIVATE-POOL RETREATS BOASTS A PRIVATE OUTDOOR POOL AND INFINITE ISLAND VIEWS. INSIDE, PREMIER TECHNOLOGY MEETS W SIGNATURE BED, BLISS® SPA AMENITIES AND WHATEVER/WHENEVER® SERVICE. W RETREAT KOH SAMUI T 66 77 915 999 / F 66 77 915 998 EXPLORE WHAT’S NEW / NEXT WRETREATKOHSAMUI.COM WHOTELS.COM/KOHSAMUI


June

ON THE COVER

features

At the Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa, in Singapore. Photographer: Lauryn Ishak. Stylist: Vernon Sim. Models: Dylan Ong and Robyn Liang, daughters Rylee and Skyler of Le Petit Society.

78

A Journey of the Heart In Kerala, Joyce Maynard discovers that sometimes, in travel, the state of togetherness is more transformative than the place itself.

84

c l o c k w i s e F R O M t o p LE F T: d av e l a u r i d s e n ; s t e fa n r u i z ; T i m M a k i n s / g e t t y i m a g e s ; a n d r e a w y n e r

94 84 104 78

Up Above the World So High A family trip to Nepal requires more than fortitude—it requires a leap of faith. Michael Paterniti and his brood find their individual nirvanas. Photographed by Stefan Ruiz

94

Grunge Grows Up Can Seattle’s newly polished populace also establish the city as an art and culture powerhouse? By Carl Swanson. Photographed by Dave Lauridsen

104

Lazy Days in Sardinia The island’s southern side offers a rare kind of tranquility. Jim Yardley goes in search of the perfect beach. Photographed by Andrea Wyner

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In Every Issue 

T+L Digital 10 Contributors 12 Editor’s Note 14 The Conversation 16 Deals 74 Wish You Were Here 114

departments

19 Gaga for Gaa A new Gaggan

Anand-invested restaurant in Bangkok is all about mixing local ingredients with recipes from around the world.

24 Ruffling Fashion Filipino

designer Paloma Urquijo Zobel talks about using local history to inspire modern looks.

26 Kids on the Go What to stuff in

35 China’s City of the Future Megacity Shenzhen is now emerging as a hub for cosmopolitan culture.

around Asia are in danger of

We’ve enlisted the help of

57 Fifty Tips for Family Travel

heritage and contemporary art

authors, bloggers, travel-industry experts, and even our T+L readers for their sanity-saving advice on how to plan a fun—and maybe even easy—family vacation.

space is bringing artists and visionaries together.

42 Wild Woods New tours of

northern Cambodia are working to save the forest, as well as the culture and creatures who call it home.

48 Choose Your Own Beach

Upgrade 69 Your New (and Improved)

Hotel Stay The ground keeps shifting beneath the hospitality industry, as technological advances and evolving customer demands conspire to rewrite the rules of the road. Here’s what hotels are doing to meet the needs of today’s travelers.

Adventure These six beaches offer sun-worshippers from across the globe unrivaled experiences they won’t find elsewhere.

losing their environmental status.

32 Asia’s Top 10 Cities From sleepy colonial towns to neon-lit metropolises, readers choose their favorite cities in the region.

Special

40 Saigon Sophisticate A new

your child’s (tiny, adorable) carryon, no matter where your summer vacation takes you.

30 The Green List A few sites

travel has the power to open your mind—no matter your age.

Beyond

50 A Teachable Moment A cruise

down the Danube will reveal how

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F R O M LE F T: S u pa c h at V e t c h a m a l e e n o n t; c o u r t e s y o f t h e d ata i ; d a n n y k i m ; c h a r l o t t e p e r t

Here+Now


t+l digital

Why Designer Filipino Bags Are the Next Big Thing Creatives across the Philippines are turning heads with eye-catching, utterly original accessories.

Glamping Off the Beaten Track in Cambodia A socially responsible tented camp invites you to explore the ancient ruins of Banteay Chhmar temple complex.

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tleditor@ mediatransasia.com

A striking Australian boutique debuts; why you should visit Phu Quoc now; two tropical tours on Langkawi; and more. travelandleisureasia.com

fr o m l e f t: d i a n a h u b b e l l ; c o u r t e s y o f a r a n a z ; c o u r t e s y o f ya a n a v e n t u r e s

China’s Tropical Getaway Hainan Island is on the cusp of a luxury tourism boom, with a spate of new hotel openings in the pipeline.

+

Lookout

this month on tr avelandleisureasia.com


contributors

2

Scott Woodward

Charlotte Pert

Wish You Were Here Page 114 — Woodward had the trip of a lifetime in Mongolia. “As we were driving across the great steppes outside Ulaanbaatar, we came upon a few gers and this small horse corral in the midst of the vast grasslands. I approached with my camera and the herdsman just went about his work taming them—man versus nature. But the most memorable time was photographing the famed Khazakh eagle hunters. A father, his son and their two Golden Eagles had traveled across the country to be with us. It was remarkable to be so close to these magnificent creatures and witness them at work.” Instagram: @iamscottawoodward.

Wild Woods Page 42 — Pert has lived in Cambodia for seven years, working with indigenous groups. “Sam Veasna Center in Mondulkiri is one of the few responsible and sustainable ecotourism enterprises with a social influence,” she says. “Because of environmental issues in Cambodia, it’s rare to see wildlife in the forests, so spotting gibbons in their habitat was exciting. I also really enjoyed the eco toilet, using natural products and being open to nature.” Her next challenge also requires full immersion: “I’m trying to work on my underwater photography as a free diver in Cambodia and Palawan.” Instagram: @charleypert.

3

4

Diana Hubbell

Claire Knox

Saigon Sophisticate Page 40 — Hubbell writes about a new creative hub, Salon Saigon. Vietnamese artists she loves include Hanoi-native Nguyen Cam, who “makes striking mixed-media works using canvas and Vietnamese paper,” and Tiffany Chung, a Vietnamese-American who was born in Danang, grew up in the U.S. and lives in Saigon. “All of her pieces delve into human culture, history and memory.” Speaking of memory, food in this city triggers strong ones. “At Mountain Retreat restaurant, the traditional dishes are worth the climb up several flights of slightly tricky-to-find stairs.” Instagram: @diana.hubbell.

Wild Woods Page 42 — Knox had a few near misses in the Cambodian highlands. Once, guide Khang Soeung “stopped to inspect a tree, and told us the scratches in its bark were Asian Sun Bear marks that would have only been a few hours old.” He has helped educate indigenous villages about land rights: “His devotion to his native land and people is inspiring.” Villagers told Knox how the tourism project improves roads, schools and clinics, and “reconnects them and their children to the forests and its creatures, the spirits and legends they had grown up with, and other traditions that they feared were lost.” Instagram: @claire_knox18.

W r i t er

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P h o to gr a p h er

W r i t er

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f s c o t t w o o d wa r d ; T h o m a s Cr i s t o f o l e t t i / R u o m ; c o u r t e s y o f d i a n a h u b b e l l ; c o u r t e s y o f c l a i r e k n o x

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17_193 © 2017 Preferred Hotels & Resorts

The Preferred Life J U S T A S H O R T WA L K T O WA R D T H E U N D I S C O V E R E D

Move your mind to a place of calm — where real priorities align and time relaxes with you. P R E F E R R E D H O T E L S . C O M

THE UPPER HOUSE

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PREFERRED HOTELS & RESORTS WARMLY WELCOMES

SM


editor’s note

|

june 2017

isn’t solely a break from our routines, but a time to explore new places and ideas. In short, our vacations turn us into kids again. Remember the first time you flew in a plane? In my case, typical of my generation, I was in my twenties, though these days five-year-olds with dog-eared passports are common. Hopefully, what hasn’t changed is that child-like inquisitiveness that accompanies any journey like a good carry-on bag. For my part, I’m still fascinated by the intricacies of airplanes and, at street level, I am always curious about what is around the next corner. This month, we’ve got a guide (“50 Tips for Family Travel,” page 57) that aims to ease parental concerns with advice from experts, bloggers and even a few of our savvy readers. “Most holiday destinations now cater specifically for kids and families,” points out one reader. “Your children are probably more versatile than you think. Give them a few days and most will adapt easily to whatever new surroundings you put them in.” Elsewhere in this issue, we aim to prove that point, with family travel to Nepal (“Up Above the World So High,” page 84), where the kids unexpectedly lead the way; and a cruise along the Danube with a teenager in tow (“A Teachable Moment,” page 50). Regardless of your age, remember to travel with child-like curiosity. The rewards will be many.

@CKucway chrisk@mediatransasia.com

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From My Travels

With my love of planes in mind, I jumped at the chance to visit Airbus on a delivery flight for Thai Airways International. More on that in a coming issue, but escaping Bangkok’s tropical heat to wander around springtime Toulouse was its own reward. Restored architecture, not one but two cheese shops I could live in, a decadent meal or two, and some truly laidback locals made for a memorable, if quick, trip.

fr o m l e f t: t h a n a k o r n c h o m n awa n g ; c h r i s t o p h e r k u c way

Travel, done well, keeps us curious. Any memorable trip


9:52PM

The moment the city sparkled just for you. Imagine a hotel visit that starts with a dedicated check-in area and a room that has been pre-selected for you based on your personal preferences. Where you can expect a daily newspaper, high-speed internet access and Reebok workout apparel delivered to your room. All topped off with exclusive promotions, fabulous offers, your preferred airline partner miles and the knowledge that, no matter where you travel, you’ll enjoy an unforgettable experience that’s all about what matters most to you. Welcome to Fairmont President’s Club. Sign up today to start enjoying the benefits of membership. fairmont.com/fpc


the conversation

Chef, author, host of hit television series and now editor-in-chief of an online travel guide, Anthony Bourdain continues to hook the wanderlust-stricken and insatiably hungry with his newest venture, Explore Parts Unknown (explorepartsunknown.com). In the decidedly cool, sardonic voice of Bourdain, the website offers everything from 24-hour city guides to recipes straight from locals to cultural stories you won’t find in your run-of-the-mill travel blog.

400: The number of years

Punjab’s Golden Temple’s communal dining hall has been serving people free vegetarian food. The temple is the holiest shrine in Sikhism.

Here, some insider intel you may come across on anthony bourdain’s Explore Parts Unkown: Bia hoi : Vietnamese

for draft beer and the roadside joints that serve them.

Gopchang Jeongol:

A basement pub in Hongdae, Seoul that is part of the city’s vast collection of underground live music venues.

Paseo Millionario:

Hailing a cab on the streets of Bogotá could turn into a “millionaire’s ride,” or a detour to an ATM where you’ll be forced to take out money. Instead, book an Uber—just make sure to sit in the front seat to draw less attention because, though the app is active in the city, it is illegal.

Ho Ho Ho! From as early as

September 1 and as late as January, Christmas greetings are spread throughout the Philippines.

Also Try: Meraviglia Paper (meravigliapaper.com) and Melting Butter (meltingbutter.com), two online travel journals that successfully marry aesthetics with quality content ranging from info on local haunts to interviews with creative natives in cities around the globe.

A play date to remember in Thailand. By @xashsx.

This month, readers share heart-melting snaps of their traveling cuties.

Hanbok baby in Yongin, South Korea. By @jerrickpua.

A scene worth the hike at Cunca Rami waterfall, Indonesia. By @aclairebeauty.

Taking it all in on Koh Yao Noi, Thailand. By @ellachase.

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

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i l l u s t r at i o n b y A u t c h a r a pa n p h a i

#TLASIA


editor-in-chief art director Deput y editor senior editor senior DEsigner DEsigner assistant EDITOR

Christopher Kucway Wannapha Nawayon Jeninne Lee-St. John Merritt Gurley Chotika Sopitarchasak Autchara Panphai Veronica Inveen

Regul ar contributors / photogr aphers Cedric Arnold, Kit Yeng Chan, Helen Dalley, Philipp Engelhorn, Marco Ferrarese, Duncan Forgan, Diana Hubbell, Lauryn Ishak, Mark Lean, Melanie Lee, Ian Lloyd Neubauer, Morgan Ommer, Aaron Joel Santos, Stephanie Zubiri chairman president publishing director publishER digital media manager TRAFFIC MANAGER /deput y DIGITAL media manager sales director business de velopment managers chief financial officer production manager production circul ation assistant

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TR AVEL+LEISURE (USA) Editor-in-Chief Senior Vice President / Publishing Director Publisher

Nathan Lump Steven DeLuca Joseph Messer

TIME INC. INTERNATIONAL LICENSING & DEVELOPMENT (syndication@timeinc.com) Senior Director, Business De velopment E xecutive Editor / International

Jennifer Savage Jack Livings

TIME INC. Chief E xecutive Officer Chief Content Officer

Joseph Ripp Norman Pearlstine

tr avel+leisure southeast asia Vol. 11, Issue 6 Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia is published monthly by Media Transasia Limited, 1603, 16/F, Island Place Tower, 510 King’s Road, North Point, Hong Kong. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Produced and distributed by Media Transasia Thailand Ltd., 14th Floor, Ocean Tower II, 75/8 Soi Sukhumvit 19, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoeynue, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand. Tel: 66-2/204-2370. Printed by Comform Co., Ltd. (66-2/368-2942–7). Color separation by Classic Scan Co., Ltd. (66-2/291-7575). While the editors do their utmost to verify information published, they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy. This edition is published by permission of Time Inc. Affluent Media Group 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 Tel. 1-212/522-1212 Online: www.timeinc.com Reproduction in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner is prohibited. subscriptions Enquiries: www.travelandleisuresea.com/subscribe ADVERTISING offices General enquiries: advertising@mediatransasia.com Singapore: 65/9029 0749; joey@mediatransasia.com Japan: Shinano Co., Ltd. 81-3/3584-6420; kazujt@bunkoh.com Korea: YJP & Valued Media Co., Ltd. 82-2/3789-6888; hi@yjpvm.kr


N e ws + t r e n d s + d i sc o v e r i e s

A mural of the madam who ran the brothel where Gaa is now housed.

dining

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

Gaga for Gaa

A new Gaggan Anand-invested, tasting-menu-only restaurant in Bangkok is all about mixing local ingredients with recipes from around the world. By Veronica Inveen. Photogr aphed by Supachat Vetchamaleenont

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/ here&now / clockwise from top:

Subtle luxury in the dining room; colorfully garnished pork ribs; chef Garima Arora.

are in for a treat. Garima Arora, previously the chef de partie at Noma and sous chef of Gaggan, has opened a restaurant of her own. Sitting in stark contrast to the white, airy dwellings of its accolade-collecting sister restaurant and Arora’s former stomping grounds, Gaa is set across the street in a spacious, hard-to-miss, yellowand-pink shop house that, at one point, had served as a brothel. Hailing from Mumbai, Arora originally made her way from Copenhagen to Bangkok to help Gaggan Anand open an Indian curry house. When plans fell through, Anand looked to Arora to fill the neighboring shophouse, and what she made of it might be even more impressive than Anand’s Keralastyle curry. The space itself is an exercise in understated luxury, with floor-toceiling windows, dark wood tables and a deep-purple leather couch. The dining experience equals that subtle excellence in unfussy eight- or 12-course tasting menus made from wholesome organic ingredients. Described as modern-eclectic, the menu taps into different cultures without falling into the category of fusion cuisine. So don’t expect Thai-

Bangkok foodies

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style sushi or Indian-inflected rigatoni, but rather a cherry-picking of techniques and dishes from across the globe, with each course staying true to its inspiration. The poached grouper fish wrapped khanom la, a lacey crepe dessert from southern Thailand, tastes totally Thai. While later in the meal, the butter and pav, a bun stuffed with minced lamb served with cloud-like house-made butter, is pure Bombay. “Our fermentation technique is Japanese, our approach is newNordic and we only use local ingredients from Thailand,” Arora explains. “And of course, there is Indian influence as well.” It may sound like quite the medley, but there is a surprising amount of cohesion, perhaps because every

june 2017 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

component of the menu is sourced locally and whipped-up in-house, even the soy sauce. One of Aurora’s most notable calling cards is her tireless search for fresh flavors. “We’ve been spending a lot of time up north in the tribal areas with indigenous people to discover new ingredients,” Aurora says. On a recent trip to a jungle market near the border of Laos, she discovered the egg fruit, which she now uses in a dish topped with pomelo and crayfish. She’s such a fan of the round orange fruit, with its custardy taste and cooked-yolk-like texture, that she’s hired seven different people to haul back 40 kilos of it to her kitchen each week. Later this month, an upper level bar space will open up, where à la carte tapas dishes will be served for those not ready to commit to the tasting menu but still wanting to experience the restaurant. And you can pair the bites with house-made kombucha and fresh juices squeezed from fruits and vegetables sourced from across the country. “It is very important for my guests to know where they are,” Arora says. “They are eating in the middle of Thailand. It has got to feel like they are eating in the middle of Thailand.” Diners, who finish the meal with a turmericflavored soft serve ice cream loaded into a crunchy sesame cone, may decide there is nowhere else they’d rather be. fb.com/gaabangkok; eight-course tasting menu from Bt1,800.


/ here&now / Bold contrasts at Mono hotel.

Debut

Upscale Gray Scale

Who says history isn’t black and

white? Mono, a new 46-room boutique hotel set in six heritage shophouses in Singapore’s Chinatown, brings a slick, minimalist color scheme to Mosque Street—as well as a “like”-happy design that is unabashed in its Internet ambitions. The interiors, by Spacedge Designs, were crafted to appeal to social-media-maven travelers: “We wanted to make sure most spaces were photogenic and served as a good backdrop for Instagram photos,” says

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general manager Glenn Quah. “Everything is symmetrical.” Yet the modern look didn’t require abandoning the building’s heritage. They kept much of the original mosaic tiling and hard-wood flooring, and broke down barricades over the windows and airwells so the layout would be more true to the first blueprints, sometimes opting for authenticity over navigability. “It is slightly maze-like now,” Quah says. Where better to get lost? hotelmono.com; doubles from S$160. —V.I.

courtesy of hotel mono

Minimalist design and subtle nods to local history have this new hotel in Singapore oozing urban cool.


Culture

K-Art

fr o m to p : c o u rt esy o f t h e N at i o n a l Pa l ac e M u s eu m ; c o u rt esy o f N at i o n a l M u s eu m o f Ko r e a

A new exhibition in Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum celebrates Korea’s final dynasty. Korea may be famous today for its high-style pop icons, but the country’s flair for theatrics dates back hundreds of years. See remnants of Korea’s last dynasty, the Joseon era, which spanned 1392– 1897, in a new exhibition at Asia Civilisations Museum. “Joseon Korea: Court Treasures and City Life” brings to Singapore artifacts from National Museum of Korea and the National Palace Museum in Seoul, including furniture, fashion and arts. There will also be talks by experts in the era, along with a few exhibits by contemporary Korean

artists, such as Ran Hwang, known for her installations using pins, buttons and thread. The juxtaposition of Joseon motifs with modern Korean art shows the long-lasting impact of the country’s final dynasty. Now through July 23; acm.org.sg; admission is S$10 for Singaporeans and S$15 for visitors.

from top: A

traditional irworobongdo six-fold screen; a Joseon glazed jar depicting a dragon and clouds.


/ here&now / Introducing

Ruffling Fashion

Filipino designer Paloma Urquijo Zobel behind the brand Piopio talks about using local history to inspire modern looks.

Inabel chambray shirt (left), and repurposed denim jacket, by Piopio.

Piopio’s signature offthe-shoulder style.

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Beach fashion doesn’t have to be all kaftans and cover-ups. Urban style using traditional Filipino handicrafts is bubbling up in tropical Palawan, with the launch of Piopio. This women’s clothing concept embraces heritage and espouses it with youthful energy and current trends. The Piopio line includes ruffled off-theshoulder tops, tailored skorts, bomber jackets and sexy playsuits using indigenous textiles like the handwoven Inabel from Ilocos. The repurposed denim overalls were patched together from leftover ethnic fabric and funky unisex muay Thai shorts. It is a colorful hodgepodge of upcycling and cross-country curation, and it works. “I had been noticing this amazing surge in local and Filipino pride from my age group and I noticed there was a gap in the market for an everyday fast-casual brand that used local textiles, so I quickly jumped on the opportunity to join in on the movement by being able to offer an alternative use for these beautiful fabrics either through our repurposed denim or fun cuts,” explains the woman behind the label, Paloma Urquijo Zobel. The idea was born as part of a grander ambition—to create an artisan village in Palawan. The concept took flight two years ago, inspired by Paloma’s mother, Bea Zobel, who has long been a supporter of heritage crafts. The mother and daughter teamed up with designer Tony Gonzales to develop Kalye Artisano, a spot where the artisans of Palawan could sell their designs. The space is currently

fr o m t o p : J o s e p h Pa s c u a l ; S h a i r a L u n a ( 2 )

Designer Paloma Urquijo Zobel.


in development and will soon be home to artists’ workshops, retail stores and a dozen bed-andbreakfasts, with 10 to 15 rooms each, designed by notable Filipino architects. The momentum slowed when Paloma left the Philippines to hone her craft—she graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York and earned a Master’s degree in strategic marketing at the Imperial College Business School in London—but once she returned late last year the project kicked into high gear, with Piopio pop-up stores turning head’s across the country. Piopio will have an address within Kalye Artisano once it opens, which is slated for October, but for now the Piopio pop-ups offer a preview of the kind of designs that will be showcased at the multipurpose space, designs that are wholly Filipino. Paloma, along with her core team, Ina Estacio and Therese Tiosejo, go on week-long road trips across the country every two months in search of new materials and suppliers, a journey they’ve dubbed the “Piopio Migration.” On a recent excursion to the northern mountainous region of Banaue, Sagada and Baguio, they slept in traditional Ifugao cottages, danced around a bonfire with Igorot cowboys and took part in a few artisan workshops. “It was extremely inspiring,” Paloma says. And for Paloma, design inspiration seems ubiquitous, but the key is to find the cuts that work best with the local textiles, while keeping its integrity. Some of the Piopio weaving patterns have been passed down by the artisans for generations, and each piece of clothing goes beyond telling a story, becoming somewhat an arme-de-guerre in the fight to protect cultural heritage. “With fewer than a thousand looms left in the Philippines today, I think my generation will be responsible for the fall or rise of some of these traditional arts,” Paloma says. “We try to get youth excited about the fabrics and techniques again by showing them how they can still be relevant in today’s world.” This mission comes with its own set of hurdles, striking a balance between celebrating traditional designs and cheapening the heritage in the attempt to create mass appeal. “Our challenge daily is to stay truthful to our culture without offending anyone, while making our traditions more accessible to a new generation,” Paloma says. “We repurpose these textiles in the spirit of respect, and in an effort to keep our traditions alive while supporting the weavers.” Those are values that never go out of style. Visit piopio.ph to sign up for news and the latest information on upcoming pop-ups; P1,000 for small accessories, clothing P2,100–P12,500.


/ here&now / st yle

Kids on the Go

Traveling with little ones brings its own set of challenges, but worrying about what to stuff in your child’s (tiny, adorable) carry-on shouldn’t make the list. Here, the pieces they’ll need no matter where your summer vacation takes you.

ON JOSEPHINE Stella McCartney Kids dress $152 (stellamccartney.com); Zara leggings $10, and bag $36 (zara.com); Bonpoint socks $35 (bonpoint.com); Salt Water by Hoy Shoe Co. sandals from $37 (salt-watersandals.com); France Luxe barrettes $18 for two (franceluxe.com). ON HADRIAN Stutterheim raincoat $184 (stutterheim.com); Caramel jumpsuit, 3–6 years $267, 8–12 years $284 (caramel-shop.co.uk); L.L. Bean socks $20 for two-pack (global.llbean.com); Sun-San by Hoy Shoe Co. $37 (saltwatersandals.com); Fjällräven mini backpack $65 (fjallraven.com).

*Prices throughout are listed in U.S. dollars and may vary by country and retailer.

s e t s t y l i s t: j e ffr e y m i l l e r . g r o o m i n g b y c o r e y t u t t l e

edited by Melissa Ventosa Martin Photogr aph by Danny Kim


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DANNY KI M . s e t s t y l i s t: j e ffr e y m i l l e r

1. Areaware plywood playing cards $28 (areaware.com); Bonpoint skirt $295 (bonpoint. com); Ariat boots $95 (ariat. com); Ellie Fun Day bandanna $18 (elliefunday.com). 2. Mamy Factory sleeveless cardigan $46 (mamyfactory. com); Onora necklace from Chiapas $13 (info@onoracasa. com); Caramel sandals $165 (caramel-shop.co.uk); L.L. Bean socks $20 for two-pack (global.llbean.com). 3. Ellie Fun Day travel blanket $78 (elliefunday.com); Veja sneakers $89 (veja-store. com); Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 instant camera $70 (fujifilm. com). 3

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Tech

Found in Translation

This app breaks down l anguage barriers.

Communicating would be a lot easier if we all spoke the same language. DoTalk, a new app developed in Australia, translates voice and text chats so quickly you can have a conversation. It works across 90 different languages, and users have the option of chatting in real time with up to 10 people in multiple languages. The basic translation app is free, but if you want to group chat or send and receive files you’ll have to shell out US$5–$8 per month for the premium version. iOS, Android.

Goods

this boomerang present may find its way back to you. Many countries celebrate Father’s Day this month, and what better gift is there than time? The sleek new Patek Philippe Men’s Perpetual Calendar wristwatch, in 18-karat white gold with a hand-stitched alligatorleather strap, is made to last forever. It is self-winding and displays the full calendar, even leap year cycles, in perpetuity. A manual adjustment only has to be made once every 122 years, when the moon cycles must be corrected by one day. The brand’s slogan is: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” So when you give one to your dad, you are essentially giving it to your future self, and your children, and their children as well. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving. patek.com; price on request.

fr o m t o p c o u r t e s y o f d o ta l k ; c o u r t e s y o f pat e k P h i l i p p e

Eternal Re-gifting


noticed

Classy Carriage

c o u rt esy o f j r e ast

Venture off the beaten path but remain on the r ails with Japan’s most luxurious new tr ain. If you’ve been impressed by the sleek, contemporary interiors of Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train, wait until you see Train Suite Shiki-Shima, the newest luxury locomotive to hit Japan’s northeastern tracks. Operated by JR East, the 10-carriage train, which travels from Ueno Station in Tokyo through Tohoku into Hokkaido, has swapped velocity, the typical draw for Japanese train travel, for leisure. Guests can book one- to three-night sojourns and explore sites like Hirosaki Castle in Aomori and Naruko Hot Springs in Miyagi. But

you may not want to leave your wagon-lit; in this case the platitude about journeys being the destination rings true with lavish interior designs by Ken Kiyokuyi Okuyama, formerly a tastemaker at General Motors and Porsche AG. Okuyama has taken traditional Japanese craftsmanship and married it with modern touches. Passengers will find tatami mats and shoji walls in rooms with lacquered fireplaces and marble accents. All compartments onboard are a suite or higher, but the standout dwelling is the

Shiki-Shima suite. Occupying an entire carriage, the two-story space boasts two beds, a living area and an expansive bathroom featuring a bathtub made from Japanese cypress wood. If you can tear yourself out of the tub, venture to the two observatory cars, equipped with wall-to-ceiling windows, for panoramic views of eastern Japan’s diverse landscapes. Or for a more

literal taste of the scenery, head to dining car where Michelin-starred chef Katsuhiro Nakamura and Hitoshi Iwasaki offer a menu of Japanese cuisine that changes with each passing season. jreast.co.jp/e/; prospective passengers can apply for a spot onboard and will be chosen by lottery, with prices starting at ¥320,000 per person based on double occupancy. —V.I.


/ here&now /

Rainforest in West Sumatra. Below: An orangutan in Gunung Leuser National Park. heritage

The Green List

sumatr a’s r ainforests offer a host of superlatives, among them the 3,805-meter Gunung Kerinci, Indonesia’s tallest volcano. One of the largest conservation areas in Southeast Asia, the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra is on the unesco World Heritage List, though more recently has made headlines for being one of 55 sites around the world that are in danger of losing their environmental heritage status. A handful of sites around Asia-Pacific—including in Afghanistan, Madagascar and Micronesia—fall into this category, one that lists problems about environmental degradation and nearby development. In Sumatra’s case, the concerns revolve around road development

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and agricultural encroachment, both of which often lead to illegal logging or poaching. A vast island, Sumatra was once a green swathe of tropical rainforest, though today only remnants of this remain, including three national parks that are included on the World Heritage List. Together, Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan are critically important refuges for the forest’s future evolution, home to more than half of Sumatra’s plant diversity. Visitors can help simply by following park management rules outlined by local rangers. Permanent residents, including the Sumatran orangutan and the more than 580 bird species, would no doubt appreciate it.

fr o m t o p : B a rr y K u s u m a / g e t t y i m a g e s ; SCUBAZOO / p r o f i l e p h o t o l i b r a r y

A handful of sites around Asia-Pacific are in danger of losing their elevated environmental status, though tourists can help offset the modern-day stresses by simply following the rules. By christopher kucway


ADVERTORIAL

Luang Prabang

Vang Vieng

Vientiane

THE SECRET’S OUT

One of the region’s most unsung gems, Laos is growing its appeal thanks to its WITH ITS UNIQUELY relaxed rich culture, incredible atmosphere, pristine Laos is the antidote to symptoms of travel fatigue. scenery and Long regarded as one of the sleepier laid-back vibe. capitals in the region, Vientiane has roused Kuang Si

itself into an increasingly dynamic destination. Serenity remains the main draw, but there are lovely diversions. Golden Pha That Luang Temple, the most important national monument, is said to house a relic of the Buddha; other key sights include Patuxai Gate, modeled on the Arc de Triomphe, and Buddha Park, with more than 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues. Visit the lively night market and Chao Anouvong Park, which unfolds alongside the mighty Mekong River. Amidst wondrous limestone karsts, the little town of Vang Vieng continues to evolve from backpacker favorite to a world-class adventure spot. Boost your adrenaline by hot-air ballooning, ziplining, caving and “tubing”—a fun float down the Nam Song River. While other parts of the country are expanding their fan-base, Luang Prabang remains the big-ticket destination. The city is UNESCO World Heritage-listed, brimming with cultural wonders such as royal palaces and ornate temples. Highlights include Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Phou Si, which is atop a hill and offers incredible sunset views across the city towards the mountains. Dive into the cultural history at the Royal Palace Museum, originally built in 1905 for former King Sisavang Vong. Early risers should witness the daily alms-giving ceremony where monks clad in saffron robes collect offerings. Later, hit the city’s night market, an ideal place to fill up on spicy Lao cuisine. Outside town, nature puts on a show at such waterfalls as Kuang Si and Tad Sae, and the mountainous hinterland, home to highlights including a renowned elephant sanctuary. The “Land of a Million Elephants” remains relatively undiscovered, but the secret is well worth digging for.

IT’S TIME TO TAKE FLIGHT AND VISIT ASEAN’S 10 INCREDIBLE COUNTRIES:

• CAMBODIA • BRUNEI • INDONESIA • VIETNAM • THAILAND

• LAOS • MALAYSIA • MYANMAR • SINGAPORE • PHILIPPINES


reader favorites

|

june 2017

Asia’s Top 10 Cities

When it comes to the region’s favorite urban stops, readers from around the world chose Chiang Mai as their favorite, though the top 10 mix includes everything from sleepy colonial towns to neon-lit megacities.

Towering above Chiang Mai, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a not-to-bemissed break from the city, particularly as night falls. Stunning at every turn, it represents the strongly spiritual side of the country.

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Pa b l o M é n d e z / p r o f i l e p h o t o l i b r a r y

1 Chiang Mai Thailand 2 Luang Prabang Laos 3 Kyoto Japan 4 Siem Reap Cambodia 5 Bangkok 6 Hoi An Vietnam 7 Ubud Indonesia 8 Udaipur India 9 Tokyo 10 Lhasa


SPONSORED SERIES

CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT IN PRINT A famil y portrait of photo graph ER: er Lester, his wife, Joann e, and daug hter, Leann e, in an Istan bul rooftop cafe; Leann e frolics in front of the Blue Mosq ue in Sulta nahm et Square; in Beyog lu district, hand icrafts vendo r Kadir thanked the famil y for a Selphy print of himse lf by buyin g them a snack of simit, a Turki sh bread ; on an afternoon cruise of the Bospo rus Strai t; Joann e and Leann e stop for a milk break at the garde ns surro undin g the Hagia Sophi a Muse um.

Turkish Delights PHOTOGR APHED BY LESTER LEDESMA

Savvy traveling families pack a Canon Selphy CP1200 Wireless Compact Photo Printer to make lasting memories—and friends. Making memories on a family vacation has never been more fun than with a Canon Selphy CP1200 wireless printer. Singapore-based international travel photographer Lester Ledesma and his family recently toted one with them to Istanbul, and came back with a scrapbook full of kaleidoscopic keepsakes. But you don’t have to be a pro to print with this lightweight wonder, whether using the Wi-fi connectivity or the SD card slot. “It’s very, very simple,” Ledesma says. “Just pop in the memory card and the menus are easy to navigate.” The Selphy’s convenient portability, with its external battery pack, makes foreign places easy to navigate, too. “The Selphy is a great tool to interact with the locals. We gave away prints to people we met in Istanbul and it opened doors to some really nice experiences.” Perhaps most importantly, his tech-savvy daughter has a new favorite gadget. “She’s fascinated by the printing process, and she loves looking at the prints,” he says. “She says they’re not on a smartphone screen, so they don’t disappear when she swipes them!”

South and South East Asia Regional Headquarters: Canon Singapore Pte. Ltd | 1 Fusionopolis Place #15-10 Galaxis Singapore 138522 | www.canon-asia.com


vietnam | cambodia + more

The Big Idea

China’s City Of The Future The overnight metropolis and newly minted economic powerhouse of Shenzhen is now emerging as a hub for innovative design and increasingly cosmopolitan culture. BY SAMANTHA CULP

JosÈ Fuste R aga /profile photo libr ary

The Shenzhen Stock Exchange occupies a skyscraper designed by OMA. A gener ation ago, Shenzhen was just a quiet fishing village of some 30,000 across the border from Hong Kong. Then, in 1979, the Chinese government turned it into an experiment to grow capitalism in a test tube, designating it as the country’s first Special Economic Zone. Today, the city’s population is more than 16 million, driven by an influx of laborers from the countryside who make everything from real iPhones to fake Chanel bags. Shenzhen— and the surrounding Pearl River Delta—has become known as the world’s factory floor. So a first-time visitor might be surprised to find not gray factories but sleek museums, sprawling technology marketplaces, and chic breweries and bars. Shenzhen is now China’s wealthiest city, with real estate prices that last year surpassed those in Beijing >>

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/ beyond /T h e B i g I d e a

Shenzhen OCT creative culture park scenery.

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Shenzhen’s openness triggers experimentation at every level, from circuit board to city block quarter of the price. Naturally, the West frowns on shanzhai, but experts like David Li, a Taiwanese technologist and cofounder of Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab, argue that these bootlegs drive innovation. Hoverboards, he points out, evolved in the wilds of shanzhai production to become a global hit. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is using Shenzhen as a showcase for its move from “Made in China” to “Designed in China”—a program to rebrand the country as a place that can invent, not just copy and mass-produce. Design Society, a mixeduse cultural hub set to open in October as part of a seven-hectare seaside development, is a collaboration between the state-owned China Merchants Shekou Holdings and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, it will host touring exhibitions from the V&A’s collection and projects from various design disciplines. Across town, construction is complete on the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (mocape), designed by the Austrian firm Coop Himmelblau, which will house two independent institutions—one devoted to art, the other to urbanism—within a single unified space. The government also supports the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, which will launch its seventh edition this December. As is its custom, the event will take place in an undervalued urban space—this time, Nantou Old Town, one of the several hundred chengzhongcun that are among Shenzhen’s most distinctive features. Literally “villages in the city,” these dense neighborhoods are what remains of the original fishing and farming communities that used to dot the countryside. They’re characterized by eclectic street-level commerce, narrow alleyways and low-rise “handshake buildings”—structures built so close >>

© Wa i h s / Dr e a m s t i m e . c o m

and Shanghai. These developments herald Shenzhen’s next phase as a laboratory for the future of the city, thanks to a strange interplay between top-down, government-led planning and bottom-up, DIY urban innovation. “Shenzhen has changed so much that I don’t even know how to describe it,” says Venus Lau, the artistic director of the city’s leading contemporary art space, OCAT (Overseas Chinese Town Contemporary Art Terminal), in Nanshan District. At 36, she’s roughly the same age as modern Shenzhen. Born in Hong Kong, she recalls disorienting childhood visits to Shenzhen during which she’d see high-rises looming over traditional villages, mountains being leveled for development. Her museum is the latest addition to OCT-Loft, a arts-andlifestyle district in a former industrial area where bookstores and artisanal coffee have replaced heavy machinery. OCAT’s shows often address Shenzhen’s pace of change. The current one, “Real Mass Entrepreneurship,” by the New Zealand artist Simon Denny, explores the city’s status as “the Silicon Valley of hardware” with installations inspired by the surreal market district of Huaqiangbei. To see why Shenzhen is called that, wander the endless wholesale kiosks of Huaqiangbei’s malls, where tech entrepreneurs, hackers and makers gather. You will find every electronic component and gadget imaginable, laid out like so many spices in a bazaar. This is ground zero for the production of shanzhai—“pirated” goods that are often less knockoffs than remixes, like an Apple Watch that runs on Android, has a removable battery, and is a


/ beyond /T h e B i g I d e a

A volunteer explains Adrian Wong’s works.

SHENZHEN

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GO

By Air There are direct flights to Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport from around the region, including Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. By Land Shenzhen is accessible from Hong Kong by bus, taxi and train. By Sea Ferries operate from the Hong Kong airport and Hong Kong– Macau Ferry Terminal.

STAY

Four Seasons Hotel Located in Futian, the city’s newest business district. fourseasons.com; doubles from RMB1,696. Shangri-La Hotel The city’s first luxury hotel shangri-la. com; doubles from RMB752. St. Regis Occupies the upper floors of Shenzhen’s second-tallest building. starwood hotels.com; doubles from RMB1,710.

june 2017 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

EAT

These kinds of businesses have proliferated, with government encouragement, because they cater to the city’s growing upper middle class. One reason Shenzhen has become popular with well-off Chinese is that it is surprisingly pleasant: it has green space, tropical foliage growing on buildings, and relatively little air pollution. There are beaches (real and manmade), including the one where Shenzhen Fashion Week recently took place under palm trees. In the words of designer Cynthia Rowley, one of the presenters, “It felt very Miami!” Another draw is Shenzhen’s distance from the capital. As the old Chinese saying goes: “The mountains are high and the emperor is far away.” Though the government engineered Shenzhen, its location in the Pearl River Delta, more than 2,100 kilometers from Beijing, gives it a more relaxed atmosphere. “Freedom is a really big word, but there is a sense of Shenzhen being more open in every way,” says Jason Hilgefort, an American architect and educator who leads the local urbanism academy Future+. This openness triggers creative experimentation at every level, from circuit board to city block. Hilgefort’s favorite new bar is Beer Man, a craft-beer joint in a shipping container in an empty lot in Xiangmihu District. “It’s where you used to go to buy a used car,” he says. “Then a few people started a place where you can play basketball, then the beer place, and now a fried-chicken place.” From Beer Man, you can look at the lights of Chegongmiao, the hub of Futian, Shenzhen’s new city center. You can even climb onto the roof for a better view. “Everyone is welcome up there,” Hilgefort says.

Cuiyuan A Hong Kong–style chachanteng (diner) with staples like barbecued pork noodles. 86-755/8860-6228; mains RMB20–55. Mash Shenzhen’s first gastropub. 86-755/8322-0215; mains RMB83–138. Tian Gong at the St. Regis Elegant Cantonese dining with views of Hong Kong. 86-755/22239366; prix fixe from RMB1,000.

DO

Bionic Brew The taproom of this pioneering craftbeer spot in the urban village of Baishizhou opens daily at 5 p.m. bionicbrew.com. Huaqiangbei Hackers and makers source parts in this mall district to create the products of the future. Huaqiang Rd., Futian. OCAT The city’s most popular contemporary art museum. ocat.org. cn.

COMING SOON

Design Society Opening this autumn, this space will include a museum, a theater, retail and more. designsociety.cn Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition An innovative “cloud” structure will link two different museums under one eye-catching roof. Shenzhen Civic Center, Futian.

c o u r t e s y o f OCAT S h e n z h e n

together, neighbors can shake hands through their windows. At night, hawkers sell cheap and delicious street food like lamb hot pot and noodles to locals and office workers in the shadows of the glossy skyscrapers next door. The government views the chengzhongcun as a blight, but they’ve been championed by urbanists, who see them as fostering city-size versions of shanzhai—ad hoc methods of creative problem-solving and mixed-use efficiency. One advocate is the Shenzhen-based anthropologist Mary Ann O’Donnell, who since 2013 has codirected Handshake 302, an exhibition space and artist residency in a 12-square-meter walkup in Baishizhou, a chengzhongcun that has long been threatened with demolition. Now, however, Baishizhou is experiencing something like gentrification. It’s the site of the American-run Bionic Brew, Shenzhen’s first craft brewery. Next door is Magma, an Italian wine bar and DJ space. A French-run gastropub called Mash recently opened in Shuiwei, a chengzhongcun east of Baishizhou.


GRAND COPTHORNE WATERFRONT HOTEL 392 Havelock Road, Singapore 169663 T +65 6733 0880 E enquiry.gcw@millenniumhotels.com W www.grandcopthorne.com.sg For dining promotions, please visit www.celebrateatgcw.com.

For enquiries, please call +65 6233 1390 or email sales.gcw@millenniumhotels.com.

It doesn’t just happen in the movies.

ELEGANCE • MODERNITY • EXTRAVAGANCE


/ beyond /c u lt u r e

A new heritage and contemporary art space is bringing artists and visionaries together to exchange ideas. By Diana Hubbell

It’s Friday evening and the band is warming up while a crowd of the fashionably dressed mills about. The performance is on the experimental side, a “cine-concert” consisting of the musical styling of a local indie group juxtaposed against a short film. When the murmur dies down, the amps crank up with a rising baseline, as trippy imagery flashes in the background. I’m getting déjà vu of college basement parties except that I’m sipping nice wine with members of the Vietnamese café society in the former home of Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., who lived here when he served as the U.S. ambassador to the American-backed Southern Vietnamese government during the 1960s. He left behind a trio of adjacent French-Colonial houses decked out in the refined architectural style of a bygone era. After a painstaking refurbishment, one of these now hosts Salon Saigon, an interdisciplinary space blurring the line between a public gallery and a private meeting place for intellectuals, artists and influential types to rub elbows. Since it opened in November, documentarians, historians, filmmakers, visual artists and musicians have performed or given talks here. “This space has a mystery to it,” says John Tue Nguyen, the salon’s originator, whose parents live in another one of Lodge’s

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homes next door. “I wanted to do something that Saigon didn’t have before.” Nguyen, who as founder of travel company Trails of Indochina has made a successful career out of championing Vietnam’s cultural heritage, turned to the French Enlightenment for inspiration. Just as Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau batted about ideas in the homes of well-heeled Parisians, creatives of various stripes have the chance to display and discuss different concepts here. “The salon started in 17th-century France as a meeting place. People in the arts, poets, playwrights would all come to these and get a bit drunk,” says program coordinator Hung Duong, then adds with a laugh: “Well, we don’t do that too often.” Duong is leading me around a collection of textured works on canvas and Vietnamese dó paper by Nguyen Cam. Although the Hanoiborn Modernist has displayed his work in Paris, this is his first exhibit in Saigon. “Hanoi is always seen as a culture capital, whereas Saigon is usually dubbed as the economic hub, but Saigon’s art scene is growing. We don’t

Courtesy of Salon Saigon (2)

Saigon Sophisticate


CLOCKWISE from far left: Salon Saigon’s

c l o c k w i s e FRO M t o p LEFT: C o u r t e s y o f S a l o n S a i g o n ; D i a n a H u b b e l l ( 2 ) ; Courtesy of Salon Saigon

peaceful library; a performance by dancer Emily Navarra; Sandrine Llouquet, visual artist and the Salon’s curator; some of Nguyen Cam’s textured work; intimate dinner settings; the house’s airy exterior.

have the luxury of being completely overwhelmed by art, but because we’re small, we have the advantage of being able to coordinate. It takes away from the time that we would spend competing against each other, and returns the focus to curating so the public gets a comprehensive sense of contemporary Vietnamese art”—contextualized within the country’s history and traditions. From an exhibit on hill-tribe costumes to a cultural talk by an up-and-coming historian or writer, a range of stars will take center stage here. “It can be someone interesting who might not otherwise have the opportunity to showcase their work,” Nguyen says. And the historic home, while being an artistic preservation project in its own right, offers a convivial setting for creative exchange, which seems a particularly urgent need in a town rife with pressure to demolish historic buildings. “People are just beginning to be concerned with preservation and you have few cultural spaces,” says curator Sandrine Llouquet, a French-Vietnamese contemporary artist. “I

think the scale of Salon Saigon and the fact that it is a house is an asset for us, because we can organize very intimate gatherings.” Every month she brokers a meeting between one artist and five or six collectors. “It creates a particular relationship that doesn’t often exist between and artist and their collectors with a gallery.” Whether visitors stop by on open-house Tuesdays or by appointment, a knowledgeable guide is always on-hand to lead them through the exhibitions. “We want to maintain this feeling of privacy and the sense of this space as a house,” Duong says. “When you walk in, you’re greeted as a guest. You’re not just walking through aimlessly like in a museum without a point of reference.” It does feel more like stopping by for coffee at the home of a rather fabulous collector friend with an eye for aesthetics. A recent gala dinner event, “The Age of Enlightenment,” paired a six-course meal with a retrospective exhibition Lingering at the Peculiar Pavillion by visual artist Vo Tran Chau, set to a live orchestral performance of 18th-century music curated by Saigon Classical. It’s a fitting fusion between the French philosophers who left an ideological mark on the land that remains more than six decades since the end of colonial rule and the Vietnamese artists who are pushing boldly towards an uncharted future. Ultimately, establishing these bridges, between the past and the present, between the art world and the general public, and between creatives who might not otherwise meet, is what gives this unusual salon its raison d’être. Salon Saigon: 6D Ngo Thoi Nhiem, Dist. 3; 84-8/3933-3242; salonsaigon.com; entry is free, events may have a cover charge. t r av e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m   /   j u n e 2 0 1 7

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/ beyond /c o n s e r v a t i o n At the Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri.

Wild Woods

New tours of northern Cambodia are working to save the forest, and the culture and creatures who call it home. By Claire Knox. Photographed by Charlotte Pert. >>

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/ beyond /c o n s e r v a t i o n clockwise From top left: A whistling

Halfway down the ridge, Pech Mogn stops in his tracks, plants his tall, shiny telescope in the coppercolored earth below us and whips his head around to face us, whispering for us to be still and quiet. A sudden flash of turquoise flies through the goldflecked, emerald canopy below us. Pech’s eyes light up. “Banded kingfisher,” he says with a grin, flicking to the listing in his chunky bird-watching tome.

Pech is an enthusiastic bird-watching guide with the acclaimed Sam Veasna Center (SVC), and I’m on one of their newest adventures: a trek through to Mondulkiri’s Seima Protected Forest, a biodiversity hotspot in the northern reaches of Cambodia covering some 3,000 square kilometers that was declared a protected area by the government in 2009. We’ll spend the remainder of our two-day safari hiking through thick jungle in search of the 1,000 or so elusive and enigmatic yellowcheeked crested gibbons that call it home— reportedly one of the biggest populations in the world—and meeting the Bunong, a local tribe that shares these woods with them. The Bunong people have traditionally lived off the forest but for the last two decades have been forced out through land concessions and illegal logging. New tours by SVC are helping

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preserve the habitat, wildlife and rich culture of this indigenous minority while creating new jobs that offer locals an incentive to stay. Pech had woken us up at the crack of dawn to be at this rather remote location, close to Dak Dam village and just 25 kilometers from the Mondulkiri province’s capital of Sen Monorom. We cloak ourselves in sweatshirts and scarves as Pech maneuvers his telescope lens to various branches in the forest. While tropical Cambodia is in the throes of its steamy season, here in the so-called “Switzerland of Cambodia,” where the average elevation is 80 meters above sea level, it’s a nippy 10 degrees Celsius. “Mountain imperial-pigeons,” he tells us, pointing to three plump, maroon-colored birds. “ Look, a red-collared dove,” he adds a few minutes later, “Ah, and a scarlet minivet,” coos one of four French birders on our trip. Around 20 minutes later, we spot a blackcrested bulbul—bright yellow feathers with a black head—and Pech is finally satisfied. An hour or so later, the temperature begins to creep up and we snack on crusty, warm baguettes with raspberry jam before piling into a 4WD bound for the Jahoo Gibbon Camp, a collaborative tourism project run by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), SVC and the Bunong. As we drive, Pech regales us with the rare birdlife we’re likely to encounter— great hornbills, green peafowls, Siamese firebacks—but it’s when he mentions the gibbons that he really grabs the whole car’s attention. Of the 1,000 gibbons that call Mondulkiri home, there are 155 of the yellowcheeked beauties living around a three-

wi l d li f e : c o u rt esy of Ja h oo G ib b on Cam p (2 )

hawk-cuckoo in Seima Protected Forest; stare down a black-shanked douc langur monkey in Mondulkiri; a rustic tent at the Jahoo Gibbon Camp.


kilometer radius of Seima’s Andong Kralong village, where Jahoo Gibbon Camp is based. Here, primate enthusiasts have ample enticement to cast their eyes to the canopy: this area contains the largest population of the endangered black-shanked doucs in the world, tipped to be in excess of 20,000, as well as almost 2,000 Germain’s silver langurs and pig-tailed macaques. Also patrolling the jungle are giant squirrels, the endangered Asian elephant, two species of bears and at least five species of wildcats.

We arrive at the camp

to find five safari-style canvas tents, the bamboo lounge (a rustic dining hut with daybeds and resplendent sunset views of the forest), homemade rain showers and even an eco-friendly composting toilet. Over a lunch spread of earthy Bunong delicacies such as trav chouk (eggplant, fiery chilies, fish paste and pork fat pounded to a pulp) and milder, traditional Khmer curries served with rice and washed down with the fresh coffee for which Mondulkiri is famed, we’re introduced to Khang Soeung, a WCS tourism officer and former law student who grew up in a Bunong village not far from here. It all feels feel very bucolic, much like any other rural village in the region, with scrawny chickens and fat pigs waddling around in the

dust under stilted wooden homes and ruddyfaced children waving at us, but Seoung tells us that the Bunong traditions and lifestyle are rapidly changing as globalization reaches its long arm across Cambodia. Over the past 20 years, land concessions given to powerful companies such as plantation giant Vietnam Rubber Group have pushed many tribes off their land and have taken from the Bunong the resources they needed for their traditional livelihoods: resin from Trach and Chheuteal Toek trees (considered a luxury wood), medicinal plants, natural dyes for intricate woven textiles, rattan and grass for their thatch-roofed homes, and the wild honey used in cooking. And as the forests vanish, so does the younger generation, leaving the far-flung rural provinces such as Mondulkiri in favor of factory jobs in Phnom Penh. “It’s mainly just the elders here,” Seoung says. “The kids work in the cities and when they come back they bring TVs, cars, motorbikes, iPhones,” which sets an example for their younger siblings to follow in their footsteps. And those who stay often get roped into illegal logging. “So many outside people come in to convince them to log. They offer motorbikes, cars and money,” Seoung says. “How can we compete with that?” Seoung hopes the new tours with SVC will show younger generations the steady, reliable income that ecotourism can fetch, and offer

From top: A picnic of Khmer classics is served to guests at the Jahoo Gibbon Camp; Pech Mogn, from SVC, leads a bird-watching tour in Seima.


/ beyond /c o n s e r v a t i o n

LET’S CONNECT W W W.TRAVELANDLEISUREASIA.COM

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them an alternative to leaving home: “If we can convince the youth to still hold on to these rich traditional foods, the spiritual offerings, to encourage the connection to the forest and wildlife and show them tourists are interested in this, I think it can turn things around and keep this culture from fading out.”

The Jahoo Gibbon Camp

makes for a powerful case study: each time a tourist spots a key species, SVC donates US$15 (with a maximum of US$30 per tourist) into a community development fund, with a Bunong committee set up to decide how it’s spent. Currently, there is US$4,000 in the bank, and while it may not seem like a vast amount of money, it will mean the construction of a new system of wells to provide clean, safe drinking water for the community—an initiative that could save lives. Jahoo Gibbon Camp also brings new jobs to the villagers who are employed as cooks, guides and gibbon researchers, and it is improving life for the gibbons as well. Soeung says the Bunong elders have told him they’ve already noticed changes in the primates’ behavior: “Before WCS and SVC worked with us, you couldn’t see them—whoosh and they’d disappear. But they’re becoming less shy, and more curious. They’ll hang around and look at us. These are all great signs.” If the gibbons are less afraid of humans, it is easier for people to spot them, which grants WSC and SVC better observation and research opportunities to track the population of the species and help protect them against poaching. The program is working, and last year, SVC received an award for “Best Contribution to Wildlife Conservation” at the World Responsible Tourism Awards in London, selected from a shortlist of 75 entrants. After a long morning learning about the gibbons, we finally set off in the afternoon sun in hopes of seeing some. As we get deeper into the jungle, the soundtrack gets louder: the creaks of bamboo branches grinding against each other, the thick carpet of leaves crunching under our feet. Thirty minutes into our trek and we hear a rustling in the trees. Pech tells us to stay still and silent. He trains his telescope upwards, and his eyes light up again. Soon enough, we too make out the three odd-looking creatures lounging languidly high up in the canopy. One is a tawny brown and two others are a deep black with yellow, puffy


30 DAY SALE cheeks. They peer at us for a moment, before swinging back through the trees and disappearing into the thicket. For the Bunong, the concept of land is intrinsically linked to spiritual traditions, myths and legends. “The Bunong would never dare poach a gibbon,” Soeung tells us. “They’re seen as the most sacred creatures of the Mondulkiri forests. Our folktales say the gibbon was once a man who was tempted into the forests.” I look around at the towering trees, golden-hour light filtering through millions of leaves in the undulating canopy, and I too am tempted.

the details Getting there The closest airport to Mondulkiri is Phnom Penh International Airport, accessible on flights from Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong and Saigon. Take an express van from Phnom Penh to Sen Monorom for US$12.

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/ beyond /b e a c h e s My idea of bliss is to island-hop on a yacht.

Above the Datai Langkawi.

skull beach, langkawi, malaysia Langkawi combines animal encounters with palm-fringed, crowd-free stretches of sand. On the island’s northwestern coast, Skull Beach, or Pantai Pasir Tengkorak, is one of Langkawi’s few public beaches with amenities (toilets, showers, shaded gazebos and food vendors on weekends). Bring your own chair, towel and binoculars to view whitethroated kingfishers and rare Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins while soaking up some rays. Or book a tour with Jungle Walla (junglewalla. com) to kayak through mangroves or hike through the jungle to see waterfalls. WHERE TO STAY Less than 10 minutes from Skull Beach, the Datai Langkawi (thedatai. com; doubles from $450) has its own white-sand beach and offers nature walks led by renowned naturalist Irshad Mobarak. On the opposite side of the island, the St. Regis Langkawi (stregis. com; doubles from $777) opened last spring. Six restaurants, a private beach and a saltwater lagoon make this an ideal hideaway.

Choose Your Own Beach Adventure Sun-worshippers come from across the globe to hit Asia’s shores. Yes, the sand is soft and the sea is divine, but these six beaches also offer unrivaled experiences you won’t find elsewhere. BY JEN MURPHY

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WHEN TO GO January through March has the best beach weather. Occasional showers and overcast afternoons mean that April to August is quieter. Rainy season is September and October. GETTING THERE An hour-long flight from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.

THE SHIPS Lamima (lamima.com; $7,700 per person for seven nights), an Indonesian two-masted phinisi with the amenities of a luxury yacht, sleeps up to 14 and has a crew of 19, including chefs, dive instructors and a masseuse. Burma Boating (burmaboating. com; from $2,600 per person per day) vessels include a catamaran and a fully crewed Italianbuilt super-yacht. WHEN TO GO Sailing conditions are ideal from December to February, with calm seas. March and April have less wind but better weather for diving. GETTING THERE Lamima departs from Phuket, Thailand. Burma Boating and most other outfitters set out from Kawthaung, which has its own airport, at the southern tip of Burma.

HAVE A BIG CREW? If you want more space or the freedom of a home rental, look to Room & Wild for its vast collection of design-driven digs geared toward the Instagram set. roomandwild.com.

*Prices throughout are listed in U.S. dollars for easy comparison.

c o u r t e s y o f t h e d ata i

I want to see wildlife from the shore.

KYUN PHI LAR, MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO, burma Military rulers kept this national park off-limits to tourists for 50 years, so being able to sail the Mergui archipelago is a relatively new development. Like most of the region’s islands, Kyun Phi Lar is blanketed by jungle and fringed with powdery sand. But visitors also get a colorful dose of culture here: the northwestern bay is home to a village populated by fishermen, as well as the seminomadic Moken people.


fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f e l n i d o r e s o r t; Wa lt e r G . A l l g ö w e r / i m a g e B R OKE R / p r o f i l e p h o t o l i b r a r y

I like to scale to new heights.

I’ll fly anywhere for a surf break.

RAILAY BEACH, KRABI, THAILAND Krabi still feels undeveloped, despite its five-star hotels and airport. The province’s best beach, Railay, is accessible only by boat because of its limestone cliffs, which are a hotspot for climbers. Hot Rock Climbing School (railay adventure.com) offers classes ranging from half a day to three days. If dangling high above mint-green waters isn’t your idea of fun, head to Tew Lay (66-86/6950432), a laid-back bar with hammocks and treehouse-like platforms that double as tables. Sign up for a cooking class to master chickencoconut soup and massaman curry.

POTTUVIL POINT BEACH, SRI LANKA A 15-minute tuk-tuk ride from popular surf spot Arugam Bay is Pottuvil Point, where seasoned surfers can ride the famous right-hand break. The Amigo Surf School (amigosurfschool.com) provides boards, lessons and transportation. Don’t expect beach chairs, showers or food stalls: Pottuvil is still blissfully empty, except for the fishermen who bring fresh lobsters ashore at dawn (show up by 6:30 a.m. to buy some).

WHERE TO STAY Rayavadee (rayavadee. com; doubles from $333) has airy pavilions among tropical gardens and coconut groves—request one with a pool and a Jacuzzi. Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $319), has speedboat service to Railay—if you can drag yourself away from the infinity pool and Thaiinspired spa. WHEN TO GO December and January can become a party scene. February through April is dry and quieter. GETTING THERE Take an hour-long flight from Bangkok to Krabi, followed by a 20-minute shuttle and a half-hour boat ride.

WHERE TO STAY The Bay Vista Hotel (bayvistahotel.com; doubles from $85) caters to surfers with its comfortable rooms and rooftop bar. Hideaway (hideawayarugambay. com; doubles from $52) has 14 chic rooms, top-notch service and incredible cuisine. WHEN TO GO April through October is surf season; the waves at Pottuvil Point are best in August and September. GETTING THERE Take an hour-long flight from Colombo to Batticaloa Airport in Pasikuda; then it’s a twohour drive to Arugam Bay.

The clean, clear waters near El Nido.

WHAT’S YOUR ISLAND FANTASY? Docastaway scouts desert islands around the globe and can organize everything from a Survivor-style trip to a lavish beach escape. docastaway.com.

The cliffs of Railay Beach.

I get my thrills underwater. PANGALUSIAN, PALAWAN ARCHIPELAGO, PHILIPPINES The Palawan archipelago looks like one gigantic, aquamarine swimming pool studded with dramatic karst cliffs and littered with old shipwrecks. Pangalusian, a private-island resort with 42 villas, has a unesco -protected marine reserve at its doorstep, where scuba divers can access more than 20 sites. The resort’s dive center can also arrange night dives and trips to vertical walls. Kayaking between the region’s towering cliffs will make you feel like you’re in a lost world. THE LODGING Pangalusian Island (elnidoresorts.com; doubles from $547) is the newest and most ambitious of El Nido Resorts’ ecofriendly hideaways. Wow-factor attractions include sunset cruises and beachside paella dinners.

I want my own private paradise. CEMPEDAK PRIVATE ISLAND, INDONESIA At banker turned hotelier Andrew Dixon’s sustainability-focused resort, go off the grid without sacrificing luxuries such as aged Lagavulin Scotch and grand cru Bordeaux. From the water, the 20 bamboo villas make a statement— they look like bird’s nests floating in the trees. Days here revolve around sunning, snorkeling, island-hopping and enjoying slow-cooked beef rendang while watching the sun set. THE LODGING Each duplex villa at Cempedak (cempedak. com; doubles from $388) has decks for lounging and a plunge pool—your only neighbors will be endangered pangolins or a family of sea otters.

WHEN TO GO Avoid the wet season, from June through October.

WHEN TO GO High season is April through October. November and December tend to be rainy.

GETTING THERE Flights on AirSwift depart daily from Manila, arriving in the town of El Nido in less than an hour. A 30-minute boat ride whisks travelers to Pangalusian Island.

GETTING THERE From Singapore, take an hour-long ferry to Bintan, and from there it’s an hour’s drive and a 30-minute boat ride to Cempedak.

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/ beyond /f a m i l y c r u i s e The AmaViola docked in Passau, Germany.

A Teachable Moment

Fifteen minutes into our tour of Schönbrunn

Palace, the Hapsburgs’ 1,000-plus-room summer retreat in Vienna, my 17-year-old daughter, Hannah, disconnected her Quietvox and, out of earshot of the tour guide, said, “They’re all just like the Kardashians.” The way she saw it, the social-climbing Napoleon married Austrian archduchess Marie-Louise in 1810 not so much to make peace between France and Austria, but to bask in the rarefied atmosphere of Hapsburg royalty. For her, it was the equivalent of Blac Chyna having a child with Rob Kardashian. “Blac Chyna snuck her way into the family in order to get the Kardashian last name,” she explained. “Like Napoleon marrying Marie-Louise, who hated the French. He just wanted to get into an important family.”

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I have to admit that there was an odd—even brilliant—logic to what she was describing. We were on day five of our weeklong Adventures by Disney Danube River cruise, which began in Vilshofen, Germany, and ended in Budapest—and Hannah was having the time of her life. She had already climbed to the top of castle ruins in Austria’s stunning Wachau Valley, sat in on a strudelmaking course in Vienna, and attended a Lipizzaner horse performance at the city’s exclusive Spanish Riding School. >>

Courtesy of Adventures By Disney

On a cruise down the Danube with her teenage daughter, Isabel Vincent discovers the power of travel to open your mind—no matter your age.


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/ beyond /f a m i l y c r u i s e I marveled at her energy, but more so at her sense of excitement. Hannah is a seen-it-all New York City high school senior who speaks five languages and spent her early childhood in Rio de Janeiro. I am a former foreign correspondent, and my ex-husband is a Serbian-Canadian photographer who now lives in Belgrade. After Hannah was born, we traveled the world with her. She is amazingly cosmopolitan, and I worried that she would find a river cruise organized by the theme park’s tour operator lame and boring. And although Hannah politely refused to wear the Adventures by Disney lanyards studded with Mickey Mouse pins we were all given to mark each day’s excursion, she was engaged in a way I have never quite seen her. That’s in large part because Adventures by Disney, which recently began chartering ships operated by AmaWaterways, doesn’t offer a traditional river cruise. Most companies target an older clientele, and before I boarded our ship, the well-appointed, 82-cabin AmaViola, I must admit I had visions of shuffleboard and bridge. But among the 110 people on our cruise, I met gay couples, families with small children, and single parents with their adult kids. The vibe? Relaxed and welcoming. These family-focused cruises have proven to be so popular that Adventures by Disney and AmaWaterways are offering 15 sailings this year, on both the Danube and the Rhine. Like Hannah, I found myself completely captivated by the whole river-cruise experience, which unfolded like a series of mini-adventures day after day. Family activities included a slide deep into a salt mine in Salzburg and a backstage tour of a marionette theater in Vienna. Adult excursions included wine tastings in Krems and tours of food and craft markets in Bratislava and Budapest. All were conducted in conjunction with local guides who had in-depth knowledge of their native towns. The ship’s crew was also well informed, which I noticed after Hannah started questioning them about everything from where to find the best café mélange to how much we should pay for taxis in our next port. In many ways, Hannah became the star of the AmaViola and its mostly Serbian staff. They had never met a passenger who could speak their language, and I swelled with pride every time she ordered our lunch or dinner— elaborate multicourse affairs that included beef consommé and Hungarian goulash as well as surprises like perfectly prepared pho—in their native tongue.

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Every night, as we retired to our warm little cabin with its windows overlooking the splendid cities on the shore, Hannah researched what we would do the following day. Armed with intelligence from Hannah’s new friends in the crew and suggestions from the Adventures by Disney tour guides, who encouraged us to go off the official grid of daily activities, we decided to take in the Albertina Museum in Vienna, where my daughter made a beeline straight for the indie galleries. “I love contemporary art,” she whispered as we made our way past paintings by Gerhard Richter and Andy Warhol. Who knew? By the time the AmaViola docked in Budapest, the last port of call, Hannah’s requests were even more


c l o c k w i s e F R O M LE F T: C h r i s t i a n K e r b e r ; R e n é va n B a k e l /ASA b l a n c a . c o m / C o u r t e s y o f S pa n i s h R i d i n g S c h o o l ; D a g m a r S c h w e l l e

surprising: Could we go to the House of Terror on Andrássy Avenue? The House of Terror? During World War II, it was the headquarters of the Hungarian Nazi Party. Today, the splendid BeauxArts structure, which is tucked into a fashionable neighborhood in central Budapest, is a museum. In February 1945, when the Soviets took political control of the country, they used the building to house dissidents. Hundreds were tortured in a network of underground cells that stretched over a city block. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who had saved tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi persecution in Hungary, shared a cell here before he disappeared into a Soviet gulag. “The basement smells like death,” Hannah told me, as we took the tour. Although the exhibits

were difficult to stomach, it was important that Hannah was now getting a close-up of what life was like for opponents of totalitarianism. After the House of Terror, we strolled down Andrássy Avenue before stopping at the chandelier-studded Alexandra Bookcafé, located on the second floor of the former Paris Department Store. We sipped steaming lattes and ordered an array of billowy Hungarian pastries. While she sampled each of the sweets, Hannah had another epiphany. “You know, Mom, I think I want to come back to a place like this to study,” she said. “History just feels so alive here!” That night, our last on the ship, I climbed to the upper deck as we sailed past the Hungarian Parliament, lit up in all its neo-Gothic splendor. I looked down at my phone as a text came in from my daughter, who was packing in our cabin below. “Thank you Mom for an adventure of a lifetime,” it said. Followed by three heart emojis. adventuresbydisney.com; seven-night cruises from US$4,349.

clockwise From left: Vineyards in the

Wachau; Vienna’s Spanish Riding School, where passengers on the Adventures by Disney cruise can see a performance; the Benedictine Abbey of Melk, in Austria’s Wachau Valley.


SEOUL WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF “ GOBLIN ” KOREA IS NO STRANGER to television. Ever since the success of 2003’s hugely popular Winter Sonata, producers have been vying for the next global success story. Yet no TV series in recent memory have resonated so much with fans than Goblin, or Guardian: The Lonely and Great God. It was an absolute smash hit. The show struck a chord with audiences and captured the hearts of many. Starring Gong Yoo, Kim Go-eun and Lee Dong-wook, it aired December 2, 2016 and went on to become the second highest rated drama in Korean cable history, with licensing rights being sold for international broadcast throughout South East Asia.

Ever since the series came to a close last year, the filming locations around Seoul have been bringing hordes of hungry fans eager for a chance to walk in the footsteps of the stars. A fan myself, I too decided to relive the story. My first stop is the beautiful western legation quarter in Jongno-gu. Just off to the side of Unhyeongung Palace it is a fine example of early Korean modern architecture, lending credence to Seoul’s dynamic appeal and indicative to the extent the city goes to preserving such historic landmarks. Several notable scenes were shot here as the building was able to better help represent the show’s historical timeline. The stately structure was used as Goblin’s private house.

*This is the first of a two-part series. The second installment will be featured in the July issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: White Birch Story teahouse in Samcheong-dong district; street art in Samcheong-dong; in the stone alleyway near Anguk Station; a notable filming location of “Goblin”; the Neo-Baroque western-style hall at Unhyeongung Palace. **F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N: W W W.V IS I TS E O U L .N E T

As I make my way over through Samcheongdong to the stonewall alleyway near Anguk Station, I feel the presence of the actors strolling together under a canopy of cherry blossoms. Euntak and Goblin first met here. The area boasts numerous alleyways but this one in particular holds special appeal because of its gentle slope and remote feel.

My search finally takes me to a cozy, traditional wooden cafe full of art and plants. This is where Sunny and Euntak chatted together in episode 11. Steps away from National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the intimate setting almost feels disconnected from urban commotion.

I continue walking through the quaint, picturesque sidestreets of Samcheong-dong and arrive at another recognizable site. This decorative alleyway is flanked by cafes and boutiques, and colourful artwork. It is here where Euntak and Goblin dated on many occasions. I can see why it’s so special — it’s as though time here stands still.

As I walk through these locations where the stars of Goblin shot their scenes, it brings back a flood of fond memories from the TV series and makes me look even more forward to the next part of my journey.


subscribe now! Every month, more than 5 million people worldwide read Travel + Leisure, the world’s leading travel magazine. Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia is the most widely distributed international edition of the magazine, offering readers around the region a chance to experience the world. Timely and trusted advice on where to go now, need-to-know travel tips and service details we all need, and a bold new look are what sets the magazine apart today. It’s your indispensable guide to Southeast Asia and the world beyond, a must-read for today’s cosmopolitan and sophisticated traveler.

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/ family special /

l auryn ishak

50 Tips for. Family Travel.

Setting off on an odyssey with the whole gang requires a little more work than solo travel, so we’ve enlisted the help of authors, bloggers, travel-industry experts, and even our T+L readers for their sanity-saving advice on how to plan a fun—and maybe even easy—family vacation.

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/ family special / The experts

Planning the Trip

Jill Smokler Author of Confessions of a Scary Mommy and the domestic satirist behind Scary Mommy (scarymommy.com).

Reader Tips Kristel Da Silva Curran “Don’t limit yourself to where you can go. Most holiday destinations now cater specifically to families. Your children are probably more versatile than you think. Give them a few days and most will adapt easily to their surroundings.”

Joanna Goddard Founder of the motherhood and travel blog Cup of Jo (cupofjo.com), which was voted one of the top 10 lifestyle websites for women by Forbes.

Kat Patel “If at all possible, bring the nanny. Even if you spend every waking minute with your kids, this gives you the option of sneaking out for some grown-up time after they fall asleep.”

Mandy Smith Mother of seven, who recently launched Best of Bangkok (fb.com/BKKbestof), a chronicle of the best familyfriendly activities in the city.

Where To Go

Cheryl Ho, of singapore airlines, shares her favorite family-travel destinations in Asia.

Cheryl Ho Mother of three and a flight attendant for Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com).

4

Kim Orlando Founder of Traveling Mom (travelingmom.com), a resource for parents with wanderlust.

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Tokyo

“Attractions like Disneyland, DisneySea, Sanrio Puroland, Ueno Zoo and Sega City are great for families with young children.”

june 2017 / t r av el a ndleisur e a si a .com

5

Taiwan

“Famous farm stays with a lot of activities will keep the children occupied. The Taiwanese are great hosts and the food is so yummy.”

6

Phuket

“There are activities on the island to satisfy every age group, along with childrenfriendly resorts to set the scene for a relaxing vacation.”

t o p : KAT M E R V YN . B e l o w f r o m l e f t: © P i ya Lee l a p r a d / D r e a m s t i me . c o m ; I M A G E M OR E / p r o f i l e p h o t o l i b r a r y; c e n ta r a g r a n d be a c h r e s o r t p h u k e t. i l l u s t r at i o n s : A u t c h a r a pa n p h a i

Expert Tip Jill Smokler “Go into every trip with low expectations... Bottom-ofthe-barrel expectations. If the trip is anything but a complete bust, you can consider it a success!”


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Robyn: “I love these sunglasses because it is hard to find kids’ sunnies that are stylish and durable. Milk & Soda makes a large range of designs and each comes with UV 400 protection.” milknsoda.com.au; A$23–$25.

c l o c k w i s e f r o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f R o c k i n ' B a b y; l a u r y n i s h a k ; c o u r t e s y o f M i l k & S o d a ; c o u r t e s y o f C a l i f o r n i a B a b y; c o u r t e s y o f S u n J e l l i e s ; c o u r t e s y o f Le Pe t i t S o c i e t y; c o u r t e s y o f H u bb l e a n d D u k e ; c o u r t e s y o f Le Pe t i t S o c i e t y

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Dylan: “In Southeast Asia a sunny day can turn into a rainstorm without warning, so it is always good to pack a poncho. This one, which we sell on our website too, is cute, roomie, and has pockets.” Rockin Baby; rockinbaby. com; US$26.

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Robyn: “Our signature bubble dresses are a great alternative to the traditional princessy dresses. It’s one of our all-time bestselling pieces.” Le Petit Society; S$48– $68.

Summer Essentials When Dylan Ong and Robyn Liang (above) started having children, they realized the kids’ garment industry was lacking. “We wanted Asian-made, well-fitting, versatile and, most importantly, comfortable pieces that would take our girls from the party to the playground,” Robyn says. In 2012 they launched Le Petit Society (lepetitsociety.com), a clothing brand for children—newborns to age 12— specializing in charming graphics and versatile silhouettes. “We set out building Le Petit Society to bring good style at an affordable price to the masses,” Dylan says. This month will see the launch of their first brick-and-mortar store, combining URL and IRL (in real life). “The store will be nontraditional and provide a unified customer experience,” Dylan says. For example, you can place your order online and pick up the package in-store to save on shipping. Here, the ever-practical husband-and-wife team shares breezy summer styles to pack for your kids.

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Dylan: “These rainboots are built to last, made out of natural rubber with a cotton lining.” Hubble and Duke; hubbleandduke.com. au; A$50.

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Dylan: “Mosquitos are just something we have to deal with in tropics, and we’ve been using this calendula cream for mosquito bites for our girls since they were babies. It is made from natural ingredients and really helps with the itching.” California Baby; californiababy. com; US$15.

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Robyn: “I always bring a jelly tote bag to the beach. You can wash off dirt or sand easily.” Sun Jellies; sunjellies.com; £5–£17.50.

Dylan: “I enjoy the soft and slightly stretchy cotton fabric we use to make our t-shirts. I like to wear matching rainbow tees with my two girls, which always brightens up our day.” Le Petit Society; S$24–$35.

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/ family special /

How to Pack Expert Tips Mandy Smith “Consolidate. Less really is more when it comes to air travel with the family, so keep bags to a minimum.” Kim Orlando “Dirty clothes take up so much more space in a suitcase than clean clothes. Vacuum-seal bags are the answer. They’ll deflate your laundry into a manageable little bundle.” Available on aliexpress.com. Reader Tip Jacqueline de Segonzac “Keep a travel bag ready to grab for any trip, loaded with the essentials: BandAids, Tylenol, thermometer, sunscreen, bug spray, shampoo.” T+ L T i p s Pack based on your destination. If you are headed to off-the-grid hinterlands, bring everything you might need, but if you are going to a city, leave the suitcase full of diapers at home.

Appy Family

from treasure-hunts to photobooks, these three apps will keep your kids entertained on holiday.

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Christiine han

Use packing cubes: one per child, per stay. This will save you from the chaos of packing and unpacking at each resort.

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geocaching

A digital map to millions of little treasures hidden globally. geocaching. com; free, full version US$9.99.


What to Pack

c o u r t e s y o f m a n d y s m i t h . s i d eb a r f r o m l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f ge o c a c h i n g ; c o u r t e s y o f c h at b o o k s ; c o u r t e s y o f y u gg l e r

Expert Tips Jill Smokler “Baby wipes. Don’t have a baby? Doesn’t matter. Kids of any age need to be cleaned up at some point, and wipes are the perfect, portable solution.”

Mandy Smith (below) “A good baby carrier instead of a stroller. Travel (and life in general) is simplified by a sturdy carrier that allows you to be handsfree for toting luggage or holding hands. By contrast, strollers are a hassle to take through security lines... and to check under the plane upon boarding... and to wait for on arrival.”

Cheryl Ho “An inflatable ball. This light, space-saving toy comes in handy when we decide to rest in a park or open area. Just inflate it and the kids will have a good time running around and playing catch.” Kim Orlando “A BubbleBum Inflatable Booster Seat. It is a portable, lightweight, inflatable car booster seat for children aged four to eleven, and it is perfect for taxi rides and rental cars.” bubblebum.co.

Reader Tip Jacqueline de Segonzac “Crinkle books for babies. They weigh a lot less than the board books and are just as much fun, especially to chew on.” T+ L T i p Duct Tape. This versatile catchall is great for sealing off the electric sockets that your baby so desperately wants to explore.

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Automatically turns the photos in your phone, Facebook or Instagram into printed books. chatbooks.com; books from US$8.

Curated kids activities, sorted by location, available around the world. yuggler.com; free; iOS only.

chatbooks

Yuggler

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“Ask the flight attendant for a plastic cup with ice and straws. Toddlers find the combination weirdly entertaining.” Joanna Goddard (below)

Expert Tips Cheryl Ho “Have their favorite snacks handy. Munching while watching cartoons on KrisWorld, the Singapore Airlines children's entertainment program, will make the flight feel shorter.” “Enjoy it. Kids usually mimic their parents’ moods and behaviors. Happy parents equal happy kids.” Jill Smokler “Never pre-board. Why on earth would you want to be stuck on the plane for any longer than absolutely necessary?” Mandy Smith “If you have a child who weighs under 14 kilograms, request a bassinet when you book your plane ticket. This allows you to strap baby into a cot when he falls asleep, giving you a break.”

“Dress your kids in slipon shoes. Nothing is more frustrating than juggling carry-ons while trying to tie and untie sneakers for security checks.” “Get out the gadgets. Screen time is a necessary evil when you’re taking longhaul flights. While limiting TV-watching at home is wise, allowing kids to watch in-flight movies in transit will not cause permanent damage to them. On the other hand you might need therapy afterwards if you try to be a purist throughout 24 hours of travel without TV.” “Consider handing out peace offerings to fellow passengers. Of course you don’t need to apologize for your presence—you are a paying patron— but it doesn’t hurt to prime the pump and make friends. After all, you are going to want that stranger in the aisle seat to let you pass by 37 times midflight to walk to the galley with baby dear for another apple juice (and Merlot). Kind gestures include earplugs, eye masks, cookies and a note thanking them for their understanding.” Joanna Goddard “Sit apart on the plane. This may sound counterintuitive, but we swear by it. If you’re traveling with your husband/wife/ partner, don’t sit together. Instead, get two aisle seats far apart on the plane. If you've got two kids, it is basically a divide-andconquer tactic. But even if you have just one, splitting up is great for the parents, as you each get frequent breaks and aren’t on cobaby-duty for the entire flight, and great for the baby, as it keeps things interesting.”

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Christine Han for Cup of Jo

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Flying


Vacation Rentals With Family Filters

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Homeaway

l a u r y n i s h a k . s i d e b a r f r o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f h o m e away; c o u r t e s y o f a i r b n b ; c o u r t e s y o f f l i p k e y; c o u r t e s y o f k i d & c o

This aggregator, recently bought by Expedia, lets you search for kid-centric listings.

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Airbnb

Click on the "family-friendly" filter to see thousands of great holiday homes in Asia.

Stay Expert Tip Kim Orlando

Re a d e r T i p s Jacqueline de Segonzac

“Book a resort residences. They have all the amenities of a hotel (housekeeping, activities, concierge) and the benefits of a home rental (kitchen, space, doors between rooms). Or if you go the hotel route, opt for a suite with a separate bedroom for the parents. At the very least, book a room with a balcony. Put the kids to bed in the room, then grab a bottle of wine and two glasses and head out to the balcony for some quiet conversation.”

“Bring a small Tupperware to the breakfast buffet and load it up with kids’ snacks for later.” Kat Patel “Call ahead to see if the hotel has any ground-floor rooms within 100 meters of the pool or bar. That’s your best bet of being within babymonitor range of a beer.”  T+ L T i p Check the location of your stay. Try to choose accomodations that are central to the sites you'd like to see.

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flipkey

Powered by TripAdvisor, the site taps into a huge travel community for reviews.

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Kid & CoE

More than 1,000 hand-picked baby-ready rentals across 50 locations worldwide.

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/ family special / Explore Expert Tips Mandy Smith “Have your kids create a journal about their trip. Every day, give them 30 minutes to write about or draw a highlight. Each child will love having their own blank journal to fill with puttputt golf ticket stubs and napkins from that ice cream parlor. This helps document their memories, giving them something special to leaf through and show grandma later, and it gives you half an hour to grab a bath in that hotel-room Jacuzzi tub.” Cheryl Ho “Set aside some downtime for reading at the end of the day to help your kids unwind before bed.”

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“Let each kid buy a postcard on your journey and mail it to someone special of their choosing.” Mandy Smith

Reader Tips Kristel Da Silva Curran “Stick to your regular routine as much as possible. That’s doesn’t mean being a nap slave, but if you can get them to sleep in their pram at the regular time and have snacks on hand during their usual meal times, you’ll have happier travel buddies.”

T+ L T i p Give your child a kidfriendly camera and let them take pictures. It is a good distraction, and you’ll have a (probably blurry) chronicle of the trip. The VTech Kidizoom Camera Connect is a sturdy option for kids ages three to eight. vtechkids.com; US$70.

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l auryn ishak

Jacqueline de Segonzac “Turn outings into scavenger hunts to keep the kids entertained. At the mall, spot how many people are wearing hats. At the beach, see if they can find a blue umbrella, a shiny rock, a long-tail boat.”


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behalf. That’s a service most online travel agencies can’t provide. fb.com/ snaptravel.

Hotelwatchdog

Your new (and Improved) hotel stay

The ground keeps shifting beneath the hospitality industry, as technological advances and evolving customer demands conspire to rewrite the rules of the road. Here’s what hotels are doing to meet the needs of today’s travelers, and what that means for your next booking.

How to Book Now With more ways to search for hotel rooms, finding the right one has only gotten more difficult. These three companies aim to streamline the process—and save you money. — christopher tk acz yk

SnapTravel Tell this start-up what you’re looking for via Facebook Messenger, and a bot will present you with three hotels in seconds, sometimes with better rates than you’d find on websites like Kayak or Expedia. Use the filter to adjust preferences for

Illustrations by Christopher DeLorenzo

location and star rating, or a pinch-andzoom map for a neighborhood. Do you want a room with a view, free Wi-Fi, or a hotel with a pool? Just tell the bot. But SnapTravel isn’t just a bot. It also has teams of customer-service reps available 24 hours a day to answer

unusual requests that its computers can’t address. On the day of your arrival, a human will call your hotel directly to ensure any special requests will be guaranteed, such as early check-in or a room on a higher floor. They will also try to request a free upgrade on your

From the founders of Airfarewatchdog, this new website combs dozens of options in any given city and uses a proprietary algorithm to do comparison shopping based on cost, proximity to popular attractions, and guest ratings on TripAdvisor (its parent company). The site will present a list of 20 “expertanalyzed” hotels that its bots deem to have the best value. Or you can choose to see every hotel in your destination and then sort by rating, price and neighborhood. hotelwatchdog.com.

AsYouStay A typical hotel stay has you checking in around 3 p.m. and checking out by noon. This new last-minutetravel app is looking to upend that tradition by giving guests more flexibility to choose when they arrive and depart. Though it only has partners in several U.S. cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles right now, the company is rapidly expanding and has global ambitions. Android, iOS; free.

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Got marriott and Starwood points? Do these 6 things. The merger of the two companies has created the world’s largest hotel operator with more than 6,000 properties globally. For now, it will continue to offer two loyalty programs, so here’s how to get the most out of both of them. — brian k elly Link your accounts to match status and transfer points. If you’re a member of both programs, link your accounts. Your status will be matched, and you’ll be able to transfer points between programs at a 3:1 ratio—that is, three Marriott Rewards points for every one SPG Starpoint. If you’re Starwood Platinum, you’ll immediately become Marriott Platinum (which normally requires 75 nights). Marriott’s RewardsPlus program will also qualify you for Silver Elite status on United Airlines. 1

Pick which account to accrue points in. Even if you’re elite in both programs, you can only credit nights to either Marriott Rewards or SPG, which is an important consideration if you’re tempted to try out your newfound elite status. 2

How to Get a Suite Deal Political turmoil, currency fluctuations and overbuilding can affect hotel rates. Here, a few discounted cities around the world.

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Look at both points currencies to find the best value. You can transfer points between the programs for free as many times as you’d like. When redeeming points for free nights, Marriott Rewards has nine categories of hotels, while SPG has seven. Since SPG has fewer categories, it’s hard to match them up evenly, but, in general, Starwood offers better value at lower-end hotels and Marriott offers the better value for top-tier properties. When looking at comparable Marriott and Starwood properties, choose the one that has the best conversion value. 3

Buy a vacation package to get a hotel stay and airline miles. Marriott has hotel-and-air packages that include seven nights of hotel accommodation 4

and also a deposit of airline miles into your frequent-flier account. Marriott has an arrangement with United in which you get more miles versus other airlines, and United miles can be extremely valuable—especially for firstand business-class awards. Convert your SPG Starpoints into airline miles. SPG has 36 airline partners that allow you to turn your points into miles, and you’ll earn an extra 5,000 points for every 20,000 transferred. Which partner is the best? It all depends, but I recently got huge value from first-class redemptions on Korean Air and Singapore Airlines. 5

Cash in your Starpoints for SPG Moments. SPG Moments are experiences that are offered via auction or fixed price and give great access to concerts, sports and special events. Some of my best redemptions using SPG points have been at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, where SPG has a luxury box that offers mid-court or midrink seats with VIP service, including full meals plus beer and wine. For 45,000 SPG points, I took my dad to see his favorite basketball team, the New York Knicks: we got VIP box seats with retail value in the thousands of dollars. 6

London

Paris

Rio de Janeiro

Singapore

Darwin

After the Brexit vote, the pound slid, making the United Kingdom more affordable. The Langham is offering four nights for the price of three until September 30.

A weaker euro plus terrorism worries have made Paris a budget-luxe locale. Le Bristol’s “I Love Paris” offer includes a room upgrade, cocktails and dinner at Michelin-starred Brasserie 114 Faubourg, for $1,150 per night.

A lot of new hotels were built for the 2016 Summer Olympics, and now there is an abundance of empty rooms. The Miramar Hotel by Windsor in Copacabana is offering a fourth night free through July 31.

Hoteliers, especially in the upper-mid tier, went on a building spree, but have had no big events recently to draw the masses. So you can find steals at expensive brands. The Ascott Raffles Place is offering rooms from $147 per night.

Amid an ongoing wave of urban development, the northern Australian city is tossing up nice new hotels like gangbusters. The Aussie dollar has fallen, so too have room rates—20 percent year on year as of last summer.

june 2017 / t r av el andleisure asia .com

*Prices throughout are in U.S. dollars.


service now: alexa vs. artists

While technology is replacing people at many points in a guest’s stay, automation has freed up companies to devote resources to ever more personalized services—and the rise of hyper-localism has only helped hasten the shift. Here’s a look at where hotels are heading on both ends of the spectrum. — lil a bat tis and gr ant martin

high-tech

Virtual Check-In

Get a sneak peek of your suite, order your favorite flowers for your arrival, then check in via app at Conrad hotels globally, from Beijing to Singapore to Dubai. The virtual-reality concierge lets you order room service, preview local attractions, and find the hottest new restaurants. conrad​ hotels.com.

Doing Their Homework

Visitors at the Clement in Palo Alto, California, are greeted by an iPadwielding personal concierge who has prepared a list of suggestions of things to do based on a guest survey, preferences, and

length of stay. theclement​paloalto. com.

Pushing Self-Sufficiency

Guests at stylish citizenM hotels (Asia representation is in Taipei for now, with Kuala Lumpur expected in 2018) have instant check in, free on-demand movies and an iPad that controls room functions, with nary a bellboy in sight. citizenm.com.

Chatbot Concierge

Guests at the Cosmopolitan, in Las Vegas, are given a card bearing a phone number for Rose, the world’s first bot concierge, whom they can text for (almost) anything they might

Lu ddite need, including dinner reservations or Cirque du Soleil tickets. cosmopolitan​ lasvegas.com.

Text Requests

The Asbury, on the New Jersey shore, streamlines your stay with texting: order a rosé refill right from your poolside deck chair, or let the valet know you’re leaving, and you’ll find your car waiting curbside. theasburyhotel.com.

Smart Rooms

This summer, Amazon Echo– enabled automated rooms will debut at the Wynn Las Vegas. Set your alarm, shut the curtains, crank the AC, and switch off the lights—all without leaving your bed. wynnlasvegas.com.

Artists-inResidence

Hôtel Vagabond in Singapore hosts salon evenings, which give guests the chance to interact with their artists in residence—for whom two studios are continually alotted. Meanwhile, the über luxe altruistically minded Ani Villas in Thailand and Sri Lanka fund their on-site art academies with room rate revenues. hotelvagabond singapore.com; anivillas.com.

Neighborhood Guide

In addition to the craft-microbrew happy hour, guests get a leather backpack at the Journeyman Hotel in Milwaukee. It’s loaded with suggested itineraries for exploring nearby neighborhoods. journeymanhotel. com.

Regional Flavors

InterContinental Onethousand Island Lake Resort in Hangzhou, ringed by karst ridges and lush green forest, sticks to its downto-earth theme by boasting an organic rooftop garden where guests can plow and pick veggies for their meals. ihg.com.

In-House Tattoo Artist

For two weeks this July, guests at the W New York–Union Square can get a long-lasting souvenir from famous ink master Joey Peng. whotels. com.

Instrument Lending Library

Close to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland, the Kimpton Schofield Hotel has a complimentary loaner program that lets guests borrow guitars for private jam sessions in their rooms. theschofieldhotel. com.

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just come into your room,” says Sarah Cloninger, author of travel blog Road Warriorette.

a room of her own Gone are the days of the Barbizon Hotel for Women. Or are they? Some hotel operators are beginning to target the needs and desires of solo female travelers with new room design, extra security and luxury bath products. — jes s mchugh When Carolyn Pearson started Maiden Voyage eight years ago to provide advice and connect solo women travelers so they wouldn’t have to dine alone, many hotels weren’t even thinking about that demographic. But with women now making up nearly half of all business travelers in the U.S. and Europe, more hotels are changing their strategy. “The industry is starting to wake up, and hotels are asking, ‘How do we get involved?’” Pearson says. Of course, most of the amenities that female business travelers look for

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are shared by their male counterparts—clean rooms, strong Wi-Fi and reliable security, to name a few. Some might criticize “women’s only” zones that seem to rely on pampering over practicality. One travel expert isn’t sold on the idea. “It’s insulting,” says Michelle ‘Mick’ Lee, the founder of Women in Travel. “With all of our efforts to achieve equality, hearing about items only for females (hair dryers, nylons, etc.) hits me as borderline insulting unless it is followed up by items for men and services for all.” That hasn’t

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stopped several hotels from rethinking their rooms with women in mind in a variety of ways. Added Securit y Long a favorite of Japanese and Korean female travelers, women-only floors have slowly spread around the world, at times courting controversy for coddling. Generally—like at the Ellis Hotel in Atlanta, which also pipes in floral scented air— these floors are accessed only by special key card. “Safety is a big concern, especially knowing how easily hotel employees can

all-ladies accommodation Nadeshiko Hotel Shibuya opened last year as Tokyo’s first female-only capsule hotel. While the 24 bedonly rooms are basic, there’s a communal sento (spa) in this convenient Shibuya spot. Chamber Rooms In Chicago, every room at the new Virgin Hotel has a lounge and a dressing room that can be closed off from the private bedroom by a sliding wooden door with a peephole. Guests can order room service and have it delivered without interacting with hotel staff. All-Female Staff The Grange Hotel, in London, has “female friendly” Superior and Executive rooms that are exclusively serviced by an all-female staff “to give our guests added peace of mind,” according to the hotel.


Wellness at your fingertips According to the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute, travelers made 691 million trips in 2015 that included a wellness component, such as healthy eating or fitness. Now hotel chains are answering their needs by rethinking room design, installing adjustable LED mood lighting, filtering air and water systems, creating healthier menus, and offering ondemand fitness. Here are a few great examples. — shi vani vor a and v eronica in v een

brand

wellness perk

starting price

The Edition

Marriott’s four Ian Schrager–designed luxury hotels have partnered with Yoga for Bad People to produce videos available in the rooms. The Sanya Edition features a state-of-the-art fitness center and offers floating yoga in the hotel’s 2.2-hectare private ocean where guests can also use water bikes to get their cardio workout in.

Doubles from $445.

Even, by InterContinental Hotels Group

This brand wants travelers to have a holistically healthy stay—bedding is woven with eucalyptus fibers for a cooling effect, for example—and each of the rooms at its six locations in the U.S. has a training zone—an area with a yoga mat, stability ball and a wall-mounted exercise station with resistance bands. Need motivation? Watch on-demand fitness classes on TV.

Doubles from $199.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Four Seasons is going beyond blackout shades, soundproofed rooms and top-notch bedding to help guests get their beauty rest. In partnership with Simmons Bedding Company, you can now choose your desired level of firmness from one of three mattress toppers. The Four Seasons Bed will soon be the standard at all locations but you can try it now in both Macau and Singapore.

Doubles from $171.

Hilton

Just outside D.C., the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner serves as the chain’s innovation lab, where new room designs and amenities focusing on wellness are tested. Some rooms have been outfitted with spin bikes, cardio machines, and yoga equipment, as well as fitness video programming led by top instructors.

Doubles from $120.

Marriott

Though they look like standard guest rooms, Marriott’s Stay Well rooms at six properties have air-purification systems to minimize sleep disrupters like airborne allergens and odors. Guests in those rooms can also expect filtered water, a cooling memory-foam mattress and a healthy room-service menu created with the help of nutritionists from the Cleveland Clinic.

Doubles from $130.

Six Senses

After consulting four highly regarded doctors, including Dr. Mehmet Oz of the Dr. Oz Show and sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus, Six Senses came up with their Integrated Wellness program, which provides guests with lifestyle and nutritional advice, and a personalized program of spa treatments, fitness and wellness activities to take part in during their stay.

Doubles from $595.

Swissotel

The brand’s recently launched Vitality Program allows guests to focus on wellness . From Osaka to Phuket, request exercise equipment for your room or wholesome snacks during business meetings, and at mealtime choose from a selection of healthy fare, including lactose-free and gluten-free dishes. They’ve also created wellness-oriented city walking guides for guests.

Doubles from $100.

Westin Hotels & Resorts

Guests at all Westin properties can rent New Balance workout clothes and sneakers for $5—they can also ask for a local running map for a fun way to explore the neighborhood. Some locations even have a Run Concierge who leads group outings. Select properties also have specially designed WestinWorkout guest rooms with treadmills and stationary bikes.

Doubles from $129.

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DEALS | t+l reader specials

CITY BANGKOK

From the shores of Central Vietnam, to the banks of the Chao Phraya, this month’s deals will make your dreams of a tropical beach escape or a posh city vacation come true.

Sala Rattanakosin Perched alongside the Chao Phraya surrounded by the cultural gems of Bangkok, this small hotel packs a big punch when it comes to location and cool aesthetics. With this package you get one free night for every three nights you stay, meaning more time to explore one of Bangkok’s hippest areas, temple hop and chill at the hotel’s popular rooftop restaurant and bar that gives uninterrupted views of Wat Arun. Also included is daily breakfast and bottles of Sala’s house-made tea. The Deal Best of Boutique: a night in a Standard room, from Bt2,166 for two, book through July 31. Save 33%. salaresorts.com.

Uninterrupted views of Wat Arun from Sala Rattanakosin.

SUPERSAVER Grand Hyatt Macau Mezza9, the must-try buffet dinner spot at this hotel, boasts an impressive spread of made-to-order veggies, meats and seafood in dishes from around the world. With this deal, along with free laundry services and an open minibar, you’ll get a complimentary dinner for two at Mezza9. The Deal Grand Offer package: a night in a Grand Deluxe room, from HK$1,999 for two, through December 31. Save 56%. macau.grand.hyatt.com.

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Hotel Icon Let this suave hotel serve as a home base as you explore energetic Tsim Sha Tsui. Book this package and enjoy discounted room rates and daily breakfast at The Market, where chefs from their respective regions serve up everything from flakey French pastries to steaming Cantonese siu mai. Stay two nights and receive an arrival airport transfer in a Tesla; stay four nights and it’s round-trip. The Deal Bed and Breakfast

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f S a l a R at ta n a k o s i n ; c o u r t e s y o f Gr a n d H yat t M a c a u

HONG KONG

Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong Marry a luxuriously spacious suite with unbeatable views of Victoria Harbor and you’ll be set for a decidedly relaxing stay. With this package, book two nights in a suite and get a third night free, and use your extra day to explore bustling Central or just take in the vistas a little longer. The Deal Suite Stay package: a night in a Harbour View suite, from HK$10,800 for two, book through June 30. Save 33%. fourseasons.com/hongkong.


with Limousine: a night in an Icon 36 City View room, from HK$1,900 for two, through December 31. Apply promo code “PROBB” when booking. Save 20%. hotel-icon.com.

BEACH VIETNAM

The Anam This gorgeous, green resort on a peaceful cove will whisk you into a state of relaxation as soon as you step out of your complimentary airport transfer and into the breezy sea-view lobby. Cradled between central Vietnam’s rolling hills, this idyll offers rolling lawns, three pools and a long untouched beachfront on which to frolic. This two-night package also includes two 60-minute spa treatments per person and access to the breakfast buffet. The Deal Spa package: two nights in a Garden View villa, from US$627 for two, book through December 20. Save 32%. theanam.com. MALAYSIA

Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa Langkawi The kilometer-long stretch of private beach on which this resort sits will serve as the perfect playground for your kids and, for you, the ideal spot to catch some rays. With this package, daily breakfast and one buffet dinner is gratis for two adults and two children. You’ll also receive airport transfers, access to the kid’s club, late check out and a daily food and beverage credit of RM40. The Deal Family Fiesta package: a night in a Family room, from RM1,886 for two, book through December 31. Save 20%. meritushotels.com.

ROMANCE courtesy of The Anam

PHUKET

Amatara Wellness Resort Love is undoubtedly in the air at this resort that is tucked away in a quiet corner of Phuket. Indulge in the ultimate honeymoon experience with this package that includes

Lagoon Pool View villas at The Anam.

round-trip airport transfers, daily breakfast, a private dinner, a couples massage and a separate session to learn how to massage each other. Your villa, which reveals unbeatable views of Panwa Bay, will be turned into a romantic haven with the special honeymoon turndown service that is part of this special. The Deal Honeymoon package: a night in a Premier Sea View room, from Bt12,960 for two, book through December 31. Save 40%. amataraphuket.com.

WELLNESS VIETNAM

Fusion Resort Phu Quoc The newest haven to grace southern Vietnam’s sleepy island paradise is debuting with a seriously generous special. Save 40 percent on accommodations at this resort that boasts only cozy, thatched-roofed pool villas. If you are familiar with the brand, you know that guests are

guaranteed two free spa and wellness services daily, and on an island abundant with natural treasures, expect only the most wholesome of treatments, like the Natural Living Pepper treatment using pepper from the onsite orchard. The Deal Opening Promotion: a night in a Pool villa, from US$256 for two, book through October 31. Save 40%. fusionresortphuquoc. com.

CULTURE BANGKOK

The Siam Sybarites rejoice! The stylish quarters of this iconic hotel are yours for an extra night with this buy two-nights-get-onefree package. Live like royalty in the era of Siam’s King Rama V with butler service, a sumptuous breakfast at the Deco Barand Bistro, and private cruise down the Chao Phraya River. To top off your visit, you’ll also get a Bt1,000 credit for massage therapy at

Opium Spa. The Deal Siam Stay Longer package: a night in a Siam suite, from Bt16,174 for two, book through December 23. Save 33%. thesiamhotel. com. SIEM REAP

Anantara Angkor Take your time discovering every hidden nook and cranny of Angkor Wat with this deal that grants you 25 percent off accommodations and daily breakfast for a three night stay, and 30 percent off for stays of four nights or more. If you book a Premier suite or higher you’ll also receive round-trip airport transfers, unlimited tuk-tuk services around the city, a daily cocktail and sweets for two at the lounge, plus a relaxing foot ritual upon arrival to the resort. The Deal Anantara Angkor Stay Longer Special: a night in a suite, from US$189 for two, book through December 23. Save up to 30%. angkor.anantara.com. — VERONICA INVEEN

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Thousands of families are healthier thanks to skilled professionals like Dr. Seuss. Reading makes us feel good. It makes us smile. Think. Question. You could say it empowers us to be healthier human beings. Room to Read has published millions of original children’s books in more than 20 languages. Local authors and illustrators are providing kids throughout Asia and Africa with reading material that’s relevant Because when books are in the picture, anyone can turn the page. Read more at roomtoread.org/asiapacific.

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

to their lives. Imagine a world where every child learns to read. Then imagine yourself helping us get there.


S v o b o d a Pav e l / p r o f i l e p h o t o l i b r a r y

A Himalayan shepherding family in Nepal, page 84.

/ june 2017 / Mother-son bonding in Kerala | The kids lead the way on a

family dream trip through Nepal | Philanthropists and foodies help Seattle become a cultural capital | Roadtripping to each and every one of Sardinia’s perfect beaches

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Kerala’s lush, forested Wayanad District.


A Journey

Heart of the

o p p o s i t e : H e at h e r E lt o n / g e t t y i m a g e s . n e x t s p r e a d : T i m M a k i n s / g e t t y i m a g e s

Still reeling from the loss of her husband, J OYCE MAYNARD traveled with her adult son to Kerala, a destination steeped in exoticism. Yet what she found most transformative was not the place itself but simply the state of togetherness.

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woman long divorced, my children grown and gone, I had been for many years a solo traveler. And though there were times that I didn’t enjoy sitting alone at dinner, looking at couples all around me, I did love heading out into the world with nothing but my backpack weighing me down. Like a rolling stone, I said. That was me. Then, a bit more than five years ago, I met Jim, the man who would become my second husband. We had been together only six weeks when he accompanied me to Paris on a book tour. And here’s what I discovered: I might not need a man at my side, but I actually loved the presence of this one. Many adventures followed: Guatemala and New York, New England and New Orleans, and Paris again. In 2014, three years after we met, Jim was diagnosed with cancer. Nineteen months later—after a gallant fight in which we

continued to travel, even making it to the top of a mountain in Chile on a trip for this very magazine—he died. And of the countless forms of grief that reverberated through my days after, a weighty one was the loss of my travel companion. Far-flung destinations still called to me, though differently now, as an escape. I would not give up traveling. But I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been with Jim—a place where no memories existed and everything was new. Kerala was such a place: rich, mysterious, exotic, unknown. I had heard great things about the slender southern India state along the Malabar Coast, a land of colonial tea plantations and dramatic beaches, sanctuaries full of rich wildlife, and winding canals dotted by wooden houseboats. It seemed like the perfect place for a person to go, if what she wanted was something she’d never seen before. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u n e 2 0 1 7

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Still, as I had discovered with Jim, a new place can feel richer when you travel with someone you love. So I asked my younger son, Will, if he’d come with me. To my surprise and pleasure, he said yes. Will, who is now 33, was schooled early in the joy of travel, and has been to every continent on the globe except Antarctica. But it had been years since we’d traveled together. I knew on this trip I’d be learning about two things: India itself, and the joy of reconnecting with my adult son. When was the last time I’d spent a full 18 hours sitting next to Will, on a plane or anywhere for that matter? Never. We knew that traveling to India would be challenging, beginning with the long flight from the U.S. And there is no easy way to adjust to a time change of 10-plus hours. But Will and I soon discovered after landing in Kochi, Kerala’s famed port city, that the challenge goes beyond mere jet lag. It’s about what happens on the road. The first stop on our itinerary—a boutique hotel called Purity, set on the shores of Vembanad Lake—called for another two hours’ journey, to the town of Muhamma. We immediately got a crash course in driving, Indian-style— an experience I can compare to nothing I’ve ever known, though if I’d been a character inside a video game, this form of getting from point A to point B might have seemed less bone-chilling. Even in the hands of a good driver (and we had one, an unflappable guide named Ranjith), it’s unnerving at best. I’m speaking to the frequency with which one’s vehicle must enter the opposite lane to pass. One minute you’re racing straight into the front of a truck. Veer right, and there’s an autorickshaw in your path. Through it all, Ranjith assured us he’d get us to our destination without difficulty—and he did.

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urity is billed as ideal for peace and quiet (and, though this went unmentioned, for recovering from the stress of getting there). Vembanad Lake itself was wild with vegetation and unsuitable for swimming, but we swiftly located the small infinity pool and a pavilion where guests could contemplate the water and an impressively diverse range of bird life. This we did, surrounded by honeymooners. But never mind. We had each other, and our trusty deck of cards. Because Purity was located pretty far from any beaten path, our dining options were confined to the hotel. The meals consisted of acceptable though by no means extraordinary Keralan dishes (principal flavors: coconut milk, tamarind, banana leaf, turmeric and curry), served at candlelit tables in the garden—the first of many romantic dining spots Will and I experienced together. When the person across the table from you is someone you once grounded for shooting a BB gun from the window of a station wagon, you may not feel inspired to stare for long stretches into his eyes. Still, we had no shortage of things to talk about. Thirty-two years’ worth, in fact.

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Colorful boats dot the waters along Kerala’s Malabar Coast.

And then there were the activities laid out for us. We rode bicycles through the rice paddies, water and workers on either side of us. Kerala is a center for growing rice, and it made for a great morning, pedaling through a network of paddies dotted with people and the vast array of birds that make their home here. On this one ride alone, we saw ibis, egrets, three varieties of kingfisher, and herons, some of them standing nobly in the fields, others swooping overhead, calling out to one another. Though I was the one who taught Will how to cycle, running behind his two-wheeler on a New Hampshire dirt road, it had been more than a decade since I’d ridden a bike with him. Now he led the way, calling out to me when he spotted something he didn’t want me to miss, and slowing down when I fell behind. Back at our hotel, we settled in the pavilion to sip tea and read our books. Whenever I travel, I bring along a novel or work of nonfiction set in the country I am visiting. This time I’d chosen a Rohinton Mistry novel, A Fine Balance. Willy was deep in J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. For me, talking about a book has always served as a way of exploring larger questions, which, in Kerala, we actually had time to do—together. Another popular activity involves hiring a bamboodecked houseboat to explore the inland waterways, which many visitors do in the nearby town of Alleppey. I’d seen pictures of these boats, and was drawn to the rustic charm of their design, with their round roofs and peaked windows, like something from another century. Some travelers choose to spend a night on a houseboat, but we had only booked one for the afternoon. To our surprise, however, we discovered that far from being a hundredyear-old Keralan tradition, the practice of renting a houseboat dates back no further than 1991, when an enterprising businessman hit on the notion of using the vessels—whose original function was to transport rice and other goods—to carry passengers instead. I have to be honest here: the houseboat experience, after the first 15 minutes, was not that great. The scenery, though pleasant, consisted of a lot of other houseboats and the occasional jackfruit tree. At one point, things livened up when we boarded a smaller boat to traverse a smaller waterway, where we observed families doing laundry, old men tending gardens, and, as always in these parts, kingfishers and cormorants, egrets and herons. If you’re a birder—and we weren’t, but were learning fast—there can’t be many places more deserving of investigation than this one.

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ater, we took in another Alleppey tourist staple: a classical Indian dance known as kathakali, which featured a couple of elaborately costumed actors on a small stage lined with drummers. They were reenacting, without words, folk legends. If this had been an actual kathakali performance, it would have gone on for hours, but for the tourist crowd the show was kept to an hour. Though the whole thing proved interesting, an hour felt sufficient. For the rest of the trip, Willy and I practiced exchanging


There’s a phenomenon that happens after you take a trip with the person you love. Some of the least enjoyable parts of your journey become the most memorable kathakali-style glances, heavy on exaggerated raising of the brows, fierce grimaces and heavy-duty eye rolling. From Muhamma, we headed north by train to Nileshwar—an eight-hour journey. Though we’d procured tickets in first class, we concluded that the cheaper seats, though marginally less comfortable, were superior on two counts: the air-conditioning wasn’t frigid, and there were large windows from which we could see the countryside. Eight hours later, we were finally rewarded with our favorite stop of the journey: Neeleshwar Hermitage, a sprawling resort made up of attractive cottages overlooking the spectacular Malabar Coast. At Neeleshwar, we started our days with a tonic of lemon, ginger and mint, and platters of fresh fruit, consumed in the garden with crashing surf beyond us. I swam in the ocean several times a day, near what might have been the most perfect stretch of sand I’d ever set foot on. In between, Will and I sampled ayurvedic spa treatments, took an Indian cooking class, and shared long talks on the porch of our bungalow. I read my book; Will played his guitar. And I reflected on how good it can be to simply share a space with a person you love, even when no words are exchanged. I could have happily stayed on at Neeleshwar, but our tour operator had other ideas: a game preserve, Nagarhole National Park (accessed after another somewhat harrowing five-hour drive), where our quarters at Little Bison resort consisted of an African-style tent with a nonfunctioning telescope. The first afternoon, we set out on a boat that allowed us to see more astonishing birds, as well as a few elephants, a wild boar, a crocodile and a host of deer. For the next two days, we woke early to stake out a watering hole in hopes of seeing a tiger. Sadly, we never did (though the sightings of Nikons with impressive lenses were plentiful). We ended our trip at the Tranquil Resort, in Wayanad, where we walked manicured paths around the coffee plantation and shared meals with our fellow travelers and Indian hosts. The only uncomfortable moment occurred when a guide accompanied us to a nearby village, where the people seemed to live in total isolation from the outside world. I had expressed unease at the idea of tromping through their village this way, and though our guide assured us that there would be no issue, their unsmiling faces suggested otherwise. As did the explanation, offered toward the end of our outing, that the villager who’d walked alongside us had been dispatched to do so “to avoid any trouble.” My son and I cut the visit short at this point. So here’s the truth: our trip to Kerala was disappointing. When it was over, and Will and I reflected

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on the high points, we agreed that the bird life was terrific, we loved watching elephants wander in the wild, and we’d eaten some great meals. And I can’t think when we had a better time together. There is a phenomenon that happens, I’ve learned, after you take a trip with a person you love. Later on, some of the least enjoyable parts of your journey become the most memorable. Now, I expect Will and I will laugh about those six hours we spent at the watering hole—waiting for the tiger that never showed up. I look forward to the moment when we will be together and shoot each other a kathakali-style eye roll, and understand. There’s always something to take away from any journey. You got to swim in the moonlight on the Malabar Coast. You dined on prawns as big as your hand, drenched in seasonings you’d never known before. You watched a kingfisher, blue as the brightest Crayola in the box, swoop over an inland waterway. And along the way, you learned something. That in Kerala, for example, a second-class ticket may be preferable to one in first. Even better, I have come to decide, after my long years of traveling solo: Why not buy two?

The details Getting there Fly to Kochi from Bangkok via AirAsia; from Kuala Lumpur on AirAsia or Malindo Air; and from Singapore aboard SilkAir, Singapore Airlines, Tigerair or Virgin Australia. TOUR OPER ATORS Black Tomato This operator offers bespoke trips to the region. They recommend visiting between October and March and staying for at least 10 nights. blacktomato.com; from US$2,900 per person. Butterfield & Robinson Offers 16-night private trips to the Alleppey canals, the temples of Mysore, and colonial Kochi. butterfield.com; from US$9,995 per person. Our Personal Guest Features an itinerary with three nights in a seafacing suite at Brunton Boatyard and two nights aboard an extravagant houseboat. ourpersonalguest.com; US$11,785 for two people. Wild Frontiers This operator’s

14-day trip includes a stint on the luxury boat Lotus and accommodations at Neeleshwar Hermitage, a tropical resort, before ending in Kochi. wildfrontierstravel.com; from US$3,699 per person.

LOOK TO THE SKY

Roughly 600 bird species call southern India home, and Kerala is the perfect place to spot many, including kingfishers, ibis and herons.


Warm Smiles, Sunny Days

Perfect Island Getaway For further information and reservations please visit www.meritushotels.com/pelangi | resvn.pelangi@meritushotels.com | +604 9528888


Up Above the World So High A family trip to Nepal, less than two years after a devastating earthquake, requires more than fortitude—it requires a leap of faith. M ich a el Pat er n i t i and his brood find their individual nirvanas, from hiking the Himalayas to walking with elephants, in a country on the slow road to recovery. Photographed by St efa n Ru i z


Poon Hill, in the Nepalese Himalayas, offers some of the most breathtaking vistas in the world.

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My youngest son, Nicholas, came for the highest mountains. My daughter, May, to find her nirvana (and to hold as many babies as she could). Our eldest, Leo, came with his traveling guitar, dharma bum that he is. My wife, Sara, wanted to frolic with elephants. And me, I came to scatter the ashes of a friend and, once more, to get thrown beyond myself, petty concerns be damned. I came to find awe. Was that too much to ask? Here we were, then, on our family vacation, an hour after touching down in Kathmandu, after passing through 10 discombobulating time zones. We had gone straight to the famous Boudhanath Stupa, a large dome that from the air looks like a mandala, and lost ourselves in a writhing carnival of Nepalese humanity. It was an auspicious occasion, the official reopening of the stupa after the 2015 earthquake that not only cracked the spire of one of Buddhism’s holiest structures but left almost 9,000 people dead and millions more homeless. Its reopening served as a hopeful, symbolic moment: a rebirth, or at least a partial declaration that Nepal was open for business again. The stupa at Boudhanath, one of the largest in all of Asia, draws hundreds of pilgrims a year who come to pray, purify and even buy yak butter. Now thousands packed the square. Monks chanted; pots

of sage billowed smoke; prayer flags fluttered. Before we knew it we were swept along by a fast-moving human current doing kora, a ritual circumambulation, in a clockwise flow around the stupa. Nicholas appeared wary, jostled as he was; conversely, May was enraptured, wanting to experience it alone. I was filled with dread by her independence: if we lost touch with her in this crowd, we might never find her again. (Meanwhile, Leo was back at the hotel, in a dead man’s sleep.) From the trance of travel—from planes and passport lines— we were suddenly defibrillated back to life with the blare of the ceremonial horns, rumbling low and farty, as if the Buddha himself had gas. Rotating around the stupa, in the crush of the crowd, we gazed upon the pilgrims gazing up at us, smiling kindly. There was no escape. When I looked back at Sara, her expression said it all: an ecstatic-trepidatious


smile that shouted, “Oh my God!” and “Oh my God, I’m not at all sure about this.…” Yes, here we were now, in this floating land between the North Indian Plain and the high Himalayas. We had our agenda, and an itinerary listing where we planned to go. But those were immaterial. Free will isn’t really a Buddhist concept. The mountains decide—and the babies. The elephants and ashes. In the last crush, our breath was taken from us, and then we were expelled. We’d been in the square for all of 25 minutes, but it felt like eons. Going backward like this—one of us fast asleep, three of us in a slight panic, our daughter in ombliss—we lurched forward into the country. Beyond the quixotic, I must confess that we came looking for something else in Nepal as well. Proof of a country on the mend. “The most amazing people on earth with the most corrupt government” was how one expat I met put it. And news reports supported the assessment. Of the more than US$4 billion pledged by international donors, little had found its way to the hundreds of thousands still living in temporary shelters. The government had proven itself mostly useless in its relief efforts. Rebuilding in some areas had yet to begin, and

Opposite, clockwise remote villages in the hardest-hit areas from top left: were still in distress. Tourism had only Swayambhunath Stupa, in just started to recover. Kathmandu; appetizers at But something else was happening Dwarika’s Resort, in Dhulikhel; a moment of here, too. The earthquake had rest along the Annapurna strengthened the country’s NGO Circuit; building network, fueling a new spirit of restoration in Kathmandu. collaboration. I was invited to a meeting at Shechen Monastery, in Kathmandu, and the experience reminded me of one small but obvious fact: people, forming a stubborn, caring chain of action, might be the only antidote to all that corruption. Founded in part by the famous author and French monk Matthieu Ricard, Karuna-Shechen is one of many organizations marshaling its charitable forces to implement an array of ongoing programs, from battling human trafficking to bringing solar electricity to villages. It seemed almost perverse to think of being a tourist among such need. But visitors were, in fact, a sight for sore Nepalese eyes—a happy occurrence for everyone from the outfitters to the yak-butter sellers. Was there a way, then, to make sure that our dollars reached the right people? In a world in which eco-travel often means just reusing your towels, was it possible to enter Nepal as it existed, taking advantage of all it had to offer, from luxury to backpacker simplicity, while limiting our eco-footprint?

We began with a short flight from Kathmandu to the southern plains of the Terai region, on the edge of Chitwan t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u n e 2 0 1 7

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It seemed almost perverse to think of being a tourist among such need. But visitors were, in fact, a sight for sore Nepalese eyes


Bhairavnath Temple, in Bhaktapur, the interior of which was damaged in the earthquake. Opposite: Boats on Phewa Lake, in the Pokhara Valley.

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from left: The village of National Park, a 930-square-kilometer Ghandruk, Nepal, is a unesco World Heritage site and former popular starting hunting ground of the Nepali aristocracy. point for treks into the We stayed at the unfussy Tharu Annapurna Range; an Lodge. The property is operated by Tiger elephant at Tharu Lodge, outside Chitwan Tops, whose other lodges have attracted National Park. A-listers like Mick Jagger and Selena Gomez. For a long time the company ran the legendary Jungle Lodge inside Chitwan, but it was shuttered in 2012 when the government prohibited any lodges from operating in the park. Still, Tiger Tops has been instrumental in forging a new era of eco-consciousness. The best part of all, especially for my wife: they had elephants. Sandra, Saraswati and Dibya; Sona, Raj and Dipendra—the pachyderms at Tharu Lodge went by name, lolling in their new, spacious pens. Gone were the old-world elephant safaris. In their stead was this new enlightenment: elephants left to their own devices. Tiger Tops naturalists offer a choice of daily activities. Guests choose from morning and evening walks with the elephants, as well as wildlife safaris, river trips, a visit to the local school and a peek at a “vulture restaurant,” a fascinating innovation to rehabilitate the decimated vulture population. To my wife’s glee, we walked with the elephants at dawn, as they fed, and at sunset, when they went to the river to drink. We spent the middle of the day rolling “elephant sandwiches,” hay wrapped tightly around millet and molasses, which they eagerly munched. In this way, we became intimate with the huge animals. With their exotic canopies of skin and glimmering glass eyes, their funny butt wiggles and slightly knocked-knee shuffles, Sara felt, for some mysterious reason, a levitating kinship. A big girl-crush. Meanwhile, we saw crocs, monkeys, barking deer and rhinos, two of whom, a mother and child, we took by surprise, resulting in a pulse-racing standoff. On a day trip we made into Chitwan itself— unarmed, by boat and on foot—we came within 50 meters of a tiger in the bush. The advance briefing, led by the naturalist, had offered a sanguine assessment: If attacked by a tiger, try to beat it off with a stick. If attacked by a rhino, zigzag, then try to climb a tree. And if attacked by a sloth bear, you might as well forget it—you’re toast. We left the south with difficulty, but departure was made easier by the dream that lay before us: Nicholas’s obsession, seeing the high peaks of the Himalayas. Our choice of routes was along the Annapurna Circuit, six days of trekking, including a sunrise stop at Poon Hill, with its astounding views of the entire range, which incorporates three of the 10 highest peaks in the world. The staging area for the Annapurna Circuit is Nepal’s secondlargest city, Pokhara, a burgeoning metropolis with a strip of outdoor-gear shops, restaurants, bars and places for bodywork. Twentysomethings float through, dreadlocked and tattooed, trying to squeeze the last of their money before returning to reality. One woman’s T-shirt read unlock yourself, as if it spoke for all of us. We stayed at the Pavilions Himalayas, a collection of beautifully appointed stone villas in a valley away from the hubbub. The property has an infinity pool, piped-in jazz/trance/raga, and a decked-out kitchen. At night, fires were lit in the rooms, and despite the chill, we dared a swim at twilight, emerging Popsicle-cold, swaddling ourselves in robes. Besides being entirely solar-powered, Pavilions Himalayas offers 70 percent of its profits back to the local community. If you were to half-close your eyes and ignore the pearl-white pagoda on a nearby mountaintop, you could imagine yourself in Sedona, Arizona.

Here we were, then, the night before our trek. I stashed my friend’s ashes safely in my pack and, gripped by uncertainty, watched the last embers in the fire go dark. What awaited us in the mountains? When you travel with family, the nature of uncertainty is different, heightened. A fever, a fall, food poisoning. It’s multiplied. By leaving the main road and climbing the mountain, you’re making a small leap of faith, asking the universe to hold you in the palm of its hand and keep you awhile. The next morning, we were met in the lobby by our guides, Pemba and Kadal. After a two-hour van ride, we were dropped next to a ramshackle line of wooden snack bars at the


side of the road. We grabbed our gear and started walking, down a slope, over a bridge and up. Then we kept going up. Trekking is not a sprint event. You’re meant to walk at the pace of your heartbeat, which seems slow at first. And the first steps of any journey are often the most tenuous, the dirt and stones, the little water crossings, calf muscles firing, Achilles stretching. Walking has the power to put you utterly in the here and now. Soon the pleasing rhythm of our trek overtook everything. Hours of walking, then a flare of hunger. We stopped for lunch and had our first encounter with the set menu that repeats throughout the Annapurna

Conservation Area: pizza, french fries, dal baht, fried noodles, banana pancake. That first night we stayed in our own comfy hobbit home, a delightful teahouse run by a family with little kids underfoot. To her great delight, May inherited two of the children and became their auntie. When I later went to peek in on her, she was reading to one of the boys in bed, while Leo strummed his guitar on the other side of the wall. By the time we all went to sleep, the night had turned cold and silent, a silence really deep and profound. A nothing silence. A silence tucked in between mountains. We slept in it like a hammock. The next day—like the day that followed—was uphill, climbing stone steps that took us 19 kilometers and 200 floors skyward. There were no complaints from the kids; they just kept hoofing. Especially on the last climb of the day, through a rhododendron forest, to a stone-terraced village called Ghorepani (in the mist, it might as well t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   j u n e 2 0 1 7

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have been called Winterfell, from Game of Thrones). Leo’s mouth was agape at the slate otherworld. “Is this really real?” he said. The teahouse that night was my favorite, with a big metal boiler warming the dining room. There were two Korean men, both teachers, one of whom claimed to have been trekking in Nepal about 20 times. At another table sat three Japanese trekkers with a bottle of whiskey, the pitch of their conversation increasing with each sip. In the far corner was a party of French sojourners, enjoying themselves so thoroughly they brought their own gales to the room. We were up the next morning at 4:30 a.m. It was dark, and Kadal led the way. We moved in a ghostly procession. Across the valley, we could see a line of firelight—controlled burns allegedly, but it appeared like a strange necklace, or harbinger. Then, at last, as the sky lightened, we scrambled to the bald nub, joining the horde, all, like us, swaddled in polar fleece and Gore-Tex. I’d heard complaints about the crowds, but the communal excitement at being on a summit, gazing out at the entire Annapurna Range, looking down on clouds below and high mountains above, was a kind of religious moment disguised as a picture-taking moment. This is what Nicholas had come for: the world’s biggest mountains in their full glory. Floating up on his toes, his eyes wide, he gawked at the mountains, then gawked at the people gawking at the mountains. When a group of Italian guys shed their clothes for a bare-chested bro-hug, our son photobombed them, mugging for the camera. This is what I’d come for, as well. With the sun cresting upward, I shuffled away from the crowd. From my backpack I took the ashes of my friend, a great lover of the mountains named Arne who’d died suddenly a few years ago, though it felt like yesterday. His wife had given me these to spread in various places of the world, and I’d doled them out, until I carried the last of them to Nepal. In college, we’d talked about what it would feel like to reach that Himalayan planet— and here I was, for the two of us, his ashes mixing with the schist and sandstone, imagining his molecules carried by the wind to those glaciers and then, with the melt, rushing back to us in the wilder currents of river, to the Ganges, and the sea.

In writing this now, Nepal feels like a dream that happened to us, a fold in time. We continued our trek, Leo strumming his guitar at every stop, May’s child-radar finding little ones along the way. And because it was a proper adventure, Nicholas got a concussion (he bumped his head so hard we were forced to carry him down the mountain). We returned to Kathmandu, and, before leaving, we stopped in Bhaktapur, a medieval city adjoining Kathmandu that was once a jewel of ancient homes and 16th- and 17th-century temples. The earthquake hit particularly hard and the slow pace of recovery is most visible: those gorgeous, tiered temples in rubble, the houses pulverized. Yet school groups and tourists were undeterred, and construction crews hard at work. It was a reminder that while the country may not yet be entirely ready for prime time, its pleasures and mysticism—the spark light and soul hum that people come here looking for—transcend its physical and political reality at all times. On the last night, I sat in a vegetarian restaurant with May. She was near tears at the thought of leaving. “We haven’t even begun yet,” she said plangently. The rest of our brood was back at the hotel, but she wouldn’t let the night end. The hummus plate, the mint juice, the clientele floating through from all ends of the earth: beautiful, wrinkled, flowering, in ruins. Nepal itself was that room of stone, ice and cerulean sky. It was elephants and children in villages high above. Even now, we are still walking up its mountain steps, awed. Young, old, forever.

The details

WHEN TO GO Visit during the winter and spring months for optimal mountain views. In December and January, you’ll want to stay in Kathmandu, as the mountains can get extremely cold and many lodges are closed. In March and April, the days are longer and wildlife is more active.

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Avoid visiting between June and September, during monsoon season, when road conditions are poor and leeches are abundant. TOUR OPER ATOR Classic Himalaya Travel This Kathmandu-based operator offers a variety of trips, many of which are ideal for families. Whether you opt for a 14-day Sherpa village trek or an eight-day cultural tour, Classic Himalaya will handle all of the logistics, from lodge arrangements to wildlife safaris. classichimalaya.com.

HOTELS & LODGES Dwarika’s Resort The natural design aesthetic of this property makes it the perfect place to unwind. Relax by the infinity pool or try one of the ancient healing treatments at the spa. Dhulikhel; dwarikas. com; doubles from US$390. Pavilions Himalayas Located in a valley near Phewa Lake, this resort offers 15 eco-friendly villas surrounded by beautiful farmland. Spend the day wandering the grounds before indulging in Nepali momos. Pokhara; pavilionshotels.com/

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himalayas; villas from US$168. Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge Eight resident elephants are the highlight at this pleasantly secluded lodge. Stroll with them to the nearby Narayani River and watch as they play in the water. Ratnanagar; tigertops. com/tharu-lodge; doubles from US$105.

ROAD TO RECOVERY

The 2015 earthquake had a devastating effect on Nepal. While there is still much work to be done throughout the country, a number of iconic sites, like the Boudhanath Stupa, have been fully restored.

i l l u s t r at i o n b y h o l ly wa l e s

GETTING THERE Fly to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. Tourist visas can be obtained at a Nepalese embassy or consulate before your trip or at the airport upon arrival.


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Tech money is transforming Seattle, bringing with it a newly polished populace. Can it also establish the Pacific Northwest cit y as an art and culture powerhouse?

CARL SWANSON p h o t o g r ap h ed b y Dave Lauridsen By

A Chuck Close photographic work at the Henry Art Gallery. Opposite: Frank Gehry’s building for the Museum of Pop Culture.


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On the 40-minute light-rail ride from Seattle’s well-polished airport to downtown,

I couldn’t help thinking of the city’s other train, the famous Jetsons-age monorail built for the 1962 World’s Fair. It once represented an idea of Seattle’s future—but it was clear to me as I watched the city go by that that future has arrived, and was being built and rebuilt right before my eyes. Of course, the spectacular geography is as I’ve always known it, since I started coming here to visit friends and family a decade ago: against the dark Puget Sound with Mount Rainier off in the misty distance, it remains one of the most gorgeously improbable urban settings. But the city that always seemed a bit unsure that it wanted to commit to even being a city—maybe it was better to just go for a hike instead?—is now a cluster of cranes. Before my visit, the Seattle Times had reported that it has become the crane capital of America, with 62, triple the number in New York City, which had the most in 2015. Ten thousand new housing units are opening this year, which is a lot for any city, let alone one with 700,000 residents. Emerging onto the surface of the city at the University Street station, near the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), it was easy to forget the easygoing, somewhat threadbare place Seattle was in the aftermath of the grunge years, when it had a bit more of an informal, ragamuffin vibe. It was a time when people I knew from college moved out here to build an agreeable alt-civilization tucked safely away off the global grid, with convenient skiing. My friend Tricia Romano, the editor of the alternative weekly The Stranger, who had lived here in the 1990s and then returned a few years ago, told me recently that back then “it was all about independent businesses and the ‘underground.’ ” Now the place that I used to think of as Berlin in the Cascades has morphed into something else, like that amiable stoner friend from college who, when you do a Facebook deepdive, suddenly you find has become a Silicon Valley big shot with a house out of an HBO miniseries. There’s lots to recommend about the grown-up Seattle, of course: I stayed at the sleek new Thompson hotel, which is an elegant place that could be anywhere prosperous in the world, only with a jaw-dropping view of the sound from my room and an excellent locally owned restaurant, Scout. The city is only becoming slicker: up the hill from the hotel, Amazon is building a US$4 billion campus that centers on three interconnected biospheres containing waterfalls, a river and tree-house-like overlooks, all kept at 22 degrees, with 60 percent humidity, a climate similar to Costa Rica’s Central Valley. I imagine it as a fantasy terrarium for nerds, a sort of amniotic playground for the digital ruling class. From Boeing to Costco to Microsoft to Starbucks (and even Nirvana), Seattle has long been home to a surprising number of innovations and innovative brands, and the

Opposite:

A sculpture by Dale Chihuly at the Seattle Center.


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wealth that they bring. Early money was in timber, then shipping, and now big data. The current digital boom has made it more populous, and richer, than it ever has been in its history, thanks, most prominently, to Amazon, but also to companies like Google and Facebook and Alibaba, which have set up shop in its orbit. As a global tech hub, it is also a lot more transient and increasingly expensive. From 2015 to 2016, 86,000 moved in, and one city official told me that 70 percent of the population has lived there for less than five years. As a result, the once bohemian city on a constrained, hilly isthmus between the sound and Lake Washington has become a mainstay on those “least affordable places” lists. This just in: the prices of downtown condos jumped nearly 50 percent year over year. Like San Francisco, it is filled with young, educated, often very well-paid people. Almost as a first order of business, the new wealth demanded good food, and the city is now awash in culinary achievements both high and low (see: Chinapie, a popular pizza and dumplings joint). Romano said the skaters have now been replaced by foodies. “It seems like that’s all people want to do when they hang out,” she said. “I don’t get asked by friends to go to shows, plays, museum openings, but to dinner and drinks.” She does have friends who are interested in culture, but fine dining seems to be the default social currency. “We have so much food. I’m so sick of food,” she told me, sounding mockweary of the city’s increasingly elaborate rounds of cutting-edge delectation. But even as the area has become wealthier, more global, and more delicious, many locals have been frustrated about what they see as a lack of other, nonoutdoorsy things to do. “We have everything that you need, but we just don’t have much of it,” Romano said. There’s good theater, the excellent Elliot Bay Book Co., and some legendary music venues—Neumos and the Showbox and the Crocodile. Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill have monthly “art walks,” which are well attended, even if they are as much social events as opportunities for collectors to browse. If the property values are heading in the direction of sister digital city San Francisco, it’s time for the cultural offerings to catch up. And there are encouraging signs. Olivia Kim, another New York friend who was lured out to Seattle a couple of years ago to take a big creative job at Nordstrom, is one of the optimists. Over breakfast at a

The city is like that amiable stoner friend from college who has suddenly become a Silicon Valley big shot

Opposite:

London Plane, a small-plates restaurant near Occidental Square.

place called Mr. West, which she noted could be in Brooklyn, she said Seattle was increasingly interested in fashion, art, style—things that in the past didn’t seem to have a big impact. “Culture. We’re begging for it here,” she said.

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f there’s one person in Seattle who has long been supportive of the arts, it’s Paul Allen, a founder of Microsoft and a prominent arts philanthropist (and owner of the Seahawks football team). Sue Coliton, who for more than a decade oversaw Allen’s cultural grants, put things in perspective over dinner at Eden Hill, an exquisite restaurant in the quaint Queen Anne neighborhood. “When I moved here eighteen years ago,” she said, “what struck me was the deep history of literature and music.” She was referring to the old guard, who liked their cultural evenings traditional and discreet. “The visual arts were very conservative. You could see that at the Seattle Art Museum. Fabergé eggs was the big show.” Vulcan, Allen’s foundation, has built or financed a host of cultural projects all over the city, including the recent Pivot Art & Culture, a contemporary art space that opened in one of Allen’s buildings in Lake Union, the formerly industrial zone where Amazon and other tech firms have their offices. Pivot sponsored SAM’s exhibition “Seeing Nature,” which consists of 39 European and American landscape paintings, from Jan Brueghel the Younger’s allegorical series of the five senses through to Monet, Manet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Gerhard Richter and Ed Ruscha. These join other blue-chip art spaces sponsored by the city’s tech billionaires, like the Olympic Sculpture Park, a 3 ½-hectare outdoor museum with works by Calder, Mark di Suvero, Richard


Serra and Louise Bourgeois on a former industrial site down the hill from the Space Needle. It opened in 2007 with support from John Shirley, the former president of Microsoft and a prominent art collector who now organizes (with Vulcan) the three-year-old Seattle Art Fair. It brings out-of-town galleries, including global heavyweights like David Zwirner, to complement the work of ambitious local galleries like James Harris and Mariane Ibrahim, which are in a building full of mostly emerging spaces in Pioneer Square called the TK Lofts. (On view when I was there: a “collaborative multimedia experience” about the LGBTQ experience by the artist Laura Rodriguez.) If the city is becoming something of a serious art town, that’s because, as Shirley told me, “it’s the thing that happens in any city in which people want to live.”

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he SAM, which was founded in 1933 by a prominent local doctor with a taste for Asian art, has been run since 2012 by Kimerly Rorschach, who has been trying to put it on the contemporary-art map. “I came here because I thought, What are these global companies going to mean for the Seattle Art Museum?” she said when I met her in her corner office amid the skyscrapers downtown. “Huge things are happening, and, as you know, any art museum is tied to the fate of its city.” She said that Seattle has responded enthusiastically to her contemporary and experimental programs, mentioning the long lines that weekend for Jacob Lawrence’s amazing Migration Series—a depiction of African-Americans moving to the North to find jobs and freedom. She expects an upcoming Yayoi Kusama exhibition to be a blockbuster. Sylvia Wolf, the director of the Henry Art Gallery, a museum at the University of Washington, just northeast of downtown, has been on the vanguard of contemporary art for years. As soon as I met her, she took me to the museum’s James Turrell “Skyspace”—officially named, in what must be a kind of terrible pun on the local weather, Light Reign—and she told me that “the whole place has changed in the nine years since I’ve been here. It’s been explosive and exponential. It’s incredible.” Wolf came out west from the Whitney Museum, in New York City, where she was a photography curator; one of the Henry’s strengths has always been its photography collection. She walked me through an extensive Chuck Close show, and we peered into a gallery where workers were packing up Paul McCarthy’s enormous, perverse, Bernini-esque sculptures of Disney characters. Across town is the Museum of Pop Culture at the Seattle Center, which started out in 2000 as the

Opposite:

Shiny exteriors of the MoPOP, formerly the Experience Music Project.

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The skaters have now been replaced by foodies. ‘We have so much food. I'm so sick of food’ Experience Music Project, another Paul Allen initiative. This one indulges his fascination with rock music (don’t forget, Jimi Hendrix was a local). The multicolored crumpled blob by Frank Gehry is not considered one of the architect’s more successful compositions (locals dubbed it “the hemorrhoid”). But as a monument to nerd culture, it’s definitely worth the trip. Nearby, the legendary radio station KEXP—which you can stream—has built out lavish studios and a coffee shop and performance space from which you can watch DJs work behind glass. John Gilbreath, a jazz DJ I met through Coliton, showed me the station’s grunge reliquary, where original recordings by Nirvana and Green River are kept on display, complete with DJ commentary scrawled on the sleeves. (“These guys will be remembered for years to come because they know how to write HOOKS!” wrote one prescient employee. Another complained: “Four months in rotation?” with an arrow pointing to that famous Nevermind cover with an infant swimming toward money. “This little brat probably has armpit hair by now!”) You can’t overstate the role music still plays in Seattle. One night Gilbreath, who is also the executive director of arts group Earshot Jazz, drove me up to Café Racer, near the university, to watch earnest young people play avant-garde jazz with systematic passion. (Maybe Ryan Gosling’s character in La La Land had given them hope.) The room was


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clockwise from top left:

Pivot Art & Culture, a contemporary space opened by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen; the view from the Thompson Suite at the Thompson Seattle; a work by Richard Serra at the Olympic Sculpture Park.


filled with vintage paintings—including an entire wall of clowns. Gilbreath told me, drolly, “The bad thing about Seattle is you can always make a living as an artist here.”

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o what is left of the city’s edginess? For the most part it has moved south, near Boeing Field. One afternoon, I journeyed out to Georgetown, an industrial neighborhood on the south side of the city where the artists have had to move, to meet S. Surface, a gallerist who prefers to be referred to with the pronoun “they.” Surface is one of the partners in a space called the Alice and came to Seattle from New York City two years ago. They were wearing large earrings that read feminist on one ear, 4 life on the other. We went to Sisters & Brothers, a kitschy friedchicken joint overlooking an airstrip, where they talked about the sense of possibility that still exists in a place like Seattle, if it doesn’t give in to consumerism. The Alice is in a creaky old building with a series of cluttered, making-things-up-as-they-go-along art spaces. The gallery had just closed a group show called “Everyone’s in 3-D,” which was, to say the least, delightfully loosely curated. Some of the works were still there the day I stopped by, including a spangled banana called Fetish Still Life. Upstairs, in an attic-like space, the gallery Interstitial was showing post-Internet work, including the arresting, fragmented, selfie-inspired surreality of the feminist video artist Kathleen Daniel. A few blocks away is what is probably the most elaborate space, Studio E, which was originally supposed to be a lighting showroom but has morphed, by happenstance, into a gallery that looks like it could be in New York’s West Chelsea art-gallery district. All are well worth an Uber trek. The whole area still feels like a frontier town, and the margaritas at El Sirenito, a biker bar turned Mexican restaurant, are a great end to any adventure. But given the fact there’s a place called A Dog’s Dream Natural Pet Supply a few doors down, you should go before the forces of gentrification shake even this place. The scruffy optimism of Georgetown reminded me of a friend from college, Grant Cogswell, who moved to Seattle in the 1990s and became a municipal celebrity for a while. Cogswell started a crusade to extend that old stubby, retro-futuristic monorail throughout the city. His plan, impractical and visionary, actually won a ballot initiative in 1997 (by a six-point margin), and, when the city put up roadblocks, he ran for city council (and lost). His quixotic story was turned into a movie called Grassroots. “Seattle then was L.A. in 1952,” he said in an old article I found when I Googled him (he’s since decamped to Mexico City). “I thought we could still turn the tide.” Instead, the city was flooded with money, talent and ambition, and this brave new sense of itself as a city of the world, not a place tucked away from it. Even the locals aren’t sure what it will look like in five years with all the new people and all the high-rises. But the food is great. And while the light rail I rode in on from the airport might not be a monorail, it got built and it works well.

The details hotels Ace Hotel This renovated former maritime workers’ hotel is the brand’s original property. Belltown; acehotel.com; doubles from US$219. Thompson Seattle A sleek, glassy hotel above Pike Place Market with breathtaking views of Puget Sound. Stop by Scout, the hotel’s restaurant, for upscale versions of regional fare, like dry-aged beef with smoked asparagus and red-wine syrup. thompsonhotels.com; doubles from US$239; mains US$23–$33. restaurants Chinapie Pizza and dumplings in the up-andcoming neighborhood of Fremont. chinapieseattle.com; mains US$9–$26. Eden Hill This adorable temple to freshness and seasonality is an idealized version of a small-town restaurant. Queen Anne; edenhill​restaurant.com; small plates US$12– $35. Mr. West A hip downtown café with delicious pastries, doughnuts and avocado toast. mrwestcafe​bar.com. Sisters & Brothers Jake Manny fell for Nashville hot chicken and brought it to Seattle by opening this place, which also has kitschy objects and a view of Boeing Field. Georgetown; sisters​and​brothersbar.com; mains US$12–$26. galleries & Museums The Henry Located on the University of Washington’s campus, this gallery has long been the best place to see contemporary art in Seattle. henryart.org. James Harris Gallery A go-to since 1999, known for featuring well-regarded local artists like Mary Ann Peters and Akio Takamori. Pioneer Square; james​harrisgallery.com. Mariane Ibrahim An internationally recognized gallery showing a small roster of artists, from Italian photographer Maïmouna Guerresi to installation artist Clay Apenouvon. Pioneer Square; marianeibrahim.com. Pivot Art & Culture Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Paul Allen’s contemporary art space in Lake Union. pivotart​and​culture.org. Seattle Art Museum The city’s increasingly ambitious museum mixes relatively spare European holdings with impressive Native American works. Downtown; seattle​art​ museum.org. Studio E A standout gallery in an industrial neighborhood south of the city that’s now a hive of activity for artists priced out of downtown. Georgetown; studioe​gallery.org. TK Lofts Opened in June 2004, this multigallery building is one of the best stops on the First Thursday art walk in Pioneer Square. tklofts.com. Museum of Pop Culture Formerly the EMP (Experience Music Project), the MoPop highlights Seattle's eccentic music past and celebrates modern pop culture. mopop.org.

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Lazy days in Sardinia The Italian island’s quiet southern side, far from the throngs of the Costa Smeralda, offers an all-too-rare kind of Mediterranean tranquility. Crisscrossing this idyllic region, JIM YARDLEY goes in search of the perfect beach. photographed by ANDREA WYNER

The beach at Forte Village, a resort in southern Sardinia. Opposite: Pasta stuffed with potato and mint, and gnocchetti sardi at Pani e Casu, in Cagliari.


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Carloforte, a fishing village on the island of San Pietro, off Sardinia’s southwestern coast.


It didn’t seem like an unreasonable request. I was on the southern coast of the Italian island of Sardinia in early July, and I thought I might find some seafood on the menu. But when I asked if the restaurant served any, my waiter answered firmly, almost with a touch of disdain: “No.” I was sitting at one of the small outdoor tables at Pani e Casu, a restaurant near the ancient battlements of Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, high above the city’s busy port. The blue waters of the Mediterranean twinkled in the distance. I could smell salt in the air. Surely, I thought, those waters must hold some fish. Before I visited, I had never thought of Sardinia as an island of shepherds. I had thought of it as an island where fabulously rich people baked in the sun, flitted between stylish restaurants and hotels, and sailed along the pristine coastline in yachts outfitted with posh discos, hot

tubs and other blingy accoutrements. Which, to a point, is true of the Costa Smeralda, where Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, held his infamous “bunga bunga” parties at a 68-room “retreat” that reportedly has six swimming pools and an artificial volcano. But that is the northern coast, which, if undeniably beautiful, is also a bit crowded. The southern coast, while hardly undiscovered, is still remote enough to be largely unspoiled. For centuries, most Sardinians lived inland, fortified against potential marauders and subsisting on agriculture and livestock. The resulting mind-set prevails to this day among people like my waiter. On the two-lane roads that led away from the coast, I passed farmers working fields, as they have for generations. The steep switchbacks that twisted

through the inland mountains were laced with old vineyards.

I had come to Sardinia’s southern coast with my sons, Eddie and George, whose primary agenda was an inspection tour of the area’s beaches. We were living in Rome then and had been talking for years about visiting Sardinia. We passed so many coves while spooling along the narrow coastal route that my younger son, Eddie, was kept constantly jabbing at the window. Both boys shouted every time they saw a new beach, each more perfect than the last. Even more exciting to them than the endless stretches of sand was our resort, Forte Village. Imagine you are 13 or 11, and you find yourself surrounded by a football school, countless pools, an outdoor concert venue and a long beach with guys

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who fluff your towels and deliver drinks. Yes, they were ecstatic. I was a little dazed. I had thought we might find ourselves roughing it, but Forte Village turned out to be a pocket of luxury in what was otherwise a pretty isolated region. Just outside the front gates, I had driven past a farmer puttering on his tractor, not far from fields of saffron and harvested hay. Flowering bushes and cacti laden with prickly pears lined the roads. One day I walked along the beach, past the boundary of the resort, to a place where trees pressed to the edge of the sand. Italian beaches are often jammed with private swimming clubs, but beyond Forte Village I saw no development. For the next several days, we went beachhunting. Eddie likes to quantify things, including happiness, so as we tested different ones, he invariably asked, “Which is your favorite?” How to choose? Some were hidden at the ends of little roads, where you would find cars crowded into €5-per-day parking lots. Others were rocky inlets just beneath the coastal road. The biggest had Italianized tiki bars and restaurants dishing out Sardinian cuisine (including some seafood). But rarely did we encounter crowded resorts like those of the Costa Smeralda. We spent a morning at Chia Beach, a long curl of sand beside water clear enough that I could see my toes in it. A 16th-century stone watchtower rose from a nearby outcropping, looming above the lines of rainbow-colored umbrellas. When I stood still at Su Giudeu Beach, not far away, I felt tiny fish begin to slip around my feet. I fretted for all those long-ago generations of Sardinians penned up in the hills, surrounded by this enticing ring of blue water but fearful that slipping down for a dip might mean being impressed into


slavery, or worse. Now the biggest hazard anyone faces here during the summer is finding a safe spot to park. On another day, we went to Tuerredda, near the village of Domus de Maria. Famous for its snorkeling and stunning views, the beach has a broad sandy area where the mostly Italian sunbathers were crowded so tightly together that I found myself stepping between bodies. We worked our way down the rocks at one end of the beach, where we found a tiny cove we could have all to ourselves. Kayakers paddled nearby as we strapped on goggles and snorkels and dove down into the reefs and vegetation on the floor of the sea. Silver, green and yellow tendrils swayed in the gentle tide, as schools of small fish moved around us, along with a few tuna. Afterward, tired, we walked over to the beachside restaurant and sat in the shade eating plates of gnocchi. Again, Eddie asked, “Which is your favorite beach?” In southern Sardinia, it seemed, you really couldn’t go wrong.

After all the beachhopping, I wanted a little alone time out of the sun. So I left the boys to their own devices at Forte Village and drove to the city of Cagliari to go exploring. Sardinia’s strategic position as a key Mediterranean port made the city a prize for numerous empires throughout history. Originally a Phoenician settlement, Cagliari has been ruled by everyone from the Carthaginians to the Romans, the Vandals to the Byzantines, the Aragonese to the Pisans to the House of Savoy, each wave of conquest pushing more of the island’s natives up into the mountains. Today, you can still feel the layers of cultures left behind— the vibe is as Spanish and North African as it is Italian.

D. H. Lawrence was also struck by Cagliari’s eclecticism when he came through nearly a century ago. “The city piles up lofty and almost miniature, and makes me think of Jerusalem: without trees, without cover, rising rather bare and proud, remote as if back in history, like a

Spiaggia di Punta Nera, a beach on San Pietro. opposite: Inside Pani e Casu, which specializes in classic Sardinian fare—bread, pasta and lots of meat.


both boys shouted when they saw a new beach, each more perfect than the last

The pool at Hotel Faro Capo-Spartivento, which occupies a former lighthouse in the village of Domus de Maria.


town in a monkish, illuminated missal,” he wrote in 1921, in Sea and Sardinia. “One wonders how it ever got there. And it seems like Spain— or Malta: not Italy.” Lawrence’s Cagliari was surely more remote and inaccessible than the city I was approaching. I passed a refinery, driving along potholed highways that would feel familiar anywhere in Italy. But soon I turned onto narrower, older streets and continued up the hill described by Lawrence until I reached the Castello, the ancient district that rose centuries ago inside ramparts constructed as a fortification against invaders. I walked into Piazza Palazzo and immediately realized that it is a place where time has stopped. It was a lazy morning, and a few tourists loitered outside the Cathedral of Santa Maria, which was built in the 13th century but has been renovated through the eras and now bears an opulence similar to that of the grand Baroque churches in Rome. I dropped a few coins into a donation box and descended the marble steps to the crypts, where relics of the martyrs of Cagliari are kept and members of the House of Savoy are buried. An acquaintance in Rome had warned me that Sardinia could not match Sicily as a repository of history, but I found the opposite to be true in Cagliari, where the lack of tourist foot traffic meant that walking the byways felt more like it must have centuries ago. It was a cloudless, sunny day, but all I could see was a skinny strip of blue between the rows of old stone buildings pressing in on me. The shops were closed for the midday siesta, save for a grocery that sold fresh vegetables. The languor of the Castello made it easy to forget that this was once a formidable military installation. I climbed the steep steps of the Elephant Tower, the

stone structure used by various empires to spot invaders coming into the port. Today, all I could see were tour boats, huge wind turbines in the distance and the marshes at the edge of the city that are a refuge for flamingos and migratory birds. Nearby, in Piazza Carlo Alberto, the sun drove a young couple onto a marble bench in the shade, where they devoured gelato and entangled themselves. None of the handful of people sipping cappuccinos outside a coffee bar seemed to pay them any attention, everyone basking in the timelessness of this place where laundry lines stretch above labyrinthine lanes. As much as I wanted to while away the afternoon here, I needed to see whether the boys had rampaged and pillaged Forte Village. When I returned I was relieved to find it still standing.

As I was swimming in

the perfect Sardinian water one day, I realized that the electronic key to my rental car was in the back pocket of my trunks. Before it was destroyed by salt corrosion, I managed to drive the boys down to the southwestern tip of the coast, to the island of Sant’Antioco. There, the key died, and the rental company sent a guy named Massimo with a tow truck. He looped heavy straps around the car, hit the gears of his winch crane and drove off into the sunset. It was early evening on a Saturday. No other rental cars were available anywhere until Monday. Luckily, we wouldn’t need one. In the Byzantine era, Sant’Antioco was surrounded by fortified defense walls, but today its coastline is best known for its picturesque inlets, like the breathtaking Nido dei Passeri, with stony brown cliffs that tumble down to the sea. There are beaches everywhere, including isolated coves like Cala Lunga. And there is the

fish. For centuries, the waters around the island have been famous for their tuna. Though overfishing has diminished the stock, the annual mattanza, or tuna slaughter, in the months of May and June is still an important local event. The boys and I wandered the streets of Sant’Antioco at dusk as waiters and barkeeps busily set up outdoor tables and televisions to show that night’s Euro Cup match between Italy and Germany. As evening neared, people began to appear, and we found seats at a table in the middle of a street outside a pizza parlor. By the time the match started, so many people were outside, shouting and groaning and laughing and talking, that Sant’Antioco had become a carnival of joy, pain and anticipation. We were geographically closer to Tunis than to Rome, yet for those hours you could feel the clamor here mingling with the noise from Milan and Florence and Naples. The next morning, we took a ferry to San Pietro, a small island southwest of Sardinia that got its name because Saint Peter is said to have once visited. We disembarked in Carloforte and joined the other tourists strolling through the outdoor markets where Sardinian artisans sold handmade pocketknives and crockery and airbrushed paintings of Elvis Presley. It was hot, and we ordered sandwiches that came out on flat focaccia bread, according to local custom. Just as I was again imagining myself in another century, in another world, I noticed the background music: “Shake Your Booty,” by KC and the Sunshine Band. Oddly, it sounded just fine. We had spent four days traveling 130 kilometers along the southern Sardinian coast and had seen so many spectacular beaches that I lost count. The ferry from San Pietro

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returned us to Sant’Antioco, where a hired driver named Antonello collected us for the trip back to Cagliari. He pulled over to a fruit stand so we could sample the mangoes, then turned onto a winding road we had missed on the trip down. Soon we were hugging the rugged coastline, switching back and forth above secluded coves as Antonello called out the names of still more beaches we had not seen. In the back seat, my sons were already planning their return. As I took in the scenery, I heard Eddie ask the now-familiar question: “Which beach is your favorite?”

The details GETTING THERE To fly from Asia to Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, it's simplest to connect in Milan or Rome. Those already in Italy can take a ferry from the mainland.

A pedestrian walkway in Carloforte.

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HOTELS Faro Capo-Spartivento This boutique hotel, housed in a 19th-century lighthouse by the Tyrrhenian Sea, has stylish rooms and an infinity pool overlooking the cerulean waters. Domus de Maria; farocapospartivento.com; doubles from €600, usually with at least twonight minimum stay. Forte Village A luxury resort on a pristine strip of beach. Spread across the manicured grounds are 21 restaurants, a sports academy for kids and an amphitheater for live entertainment. Santa Margherita di Pula; fortevillageresort.com; doubles from €480. RESTAURANT Pani e Casu Located in the historic Castello district of Cagliari, this restaurant offers Sardinian fare like goat stew and wild boar. 51 Via Santa Croce; 39-070/858-6629; mains €8–€17. HISTORIC DISTRICT Castello Once a stronghold fortified against marauders, this ancient section of Cagliari is now a time capsule of old Sardinia, with narrow, winding streets, sun-drenched piazzas and stunning views of Cagliari’s port and the waters beyond. cagliariturismo.it.


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wish you were here

Scott A. Woodward /  Ulaanbaatar /  mongolia

Traversing the vast, enigmatic Land of the Nomad—from the dusty streets of Ulaanbaatar across the Great Steppe to the edge of the Gobi Desert and back again—was truly one of the most exhilarating and memorable photographic adventures of my life. Each day brought a fantastic new experience to document: I witnessed soaring Golden Eagles, explored centuries-old architecture, observed a camel train crossing mountainous sand dunes, camped under an endless star-filled sky, met traditional artisans, skateboarded with Ulaanbaatar teenagers, and stepped backstage at a traveling Mongolian circus. But one of the most memorable photographs I made was of a nomadic horseman herding and breaking wild horses on the grasslands outside the capital city; the sheer strength of both the man and the beasts was palpable. In a nation where horses outnumber people, it is famously said that, “a Mongol without a horse is like a bird without the wings.”

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June 2017  

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia June 2017

June 2017  

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia June 2017