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Southeast asia

november 2016

Spa dreams in Thailand

Nusa Lembongan an island to remember what’s brewing? Asia’s craft beer scene

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 go green on your next vacation

Dusun Bambu, Bandung • Indonesia

May I paddle you to your room sir? In a world with many heart-pumping captivations, there is a sense of obligation to overtake all the many earth's challenges. Step into the edge of a magnificent realm where you can undertake Mother Nature's offerings in one swoop. Choose your experience: everlasting mountains, unforgiving streams of gorgeous oceans, fantastic mystical beasts, and fiery lakes. Face the life's many delicacies, because when you truly experience it, only then you can truly experience life.



Centara Grand is the five-star brand from Centara Hotels & Resorts, the pre-eminent Thai hotel group offering the ultimate in luxurious escapes across Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and beyond. All boasting prime locations in the finest city or tropical beach destinations, the iconic Centara Grand Hotels and Resorts combine outstanding features and facilities with intuitive and personalised Thai service, to create extraordinary experiences and indelible memories for guests. From two sophisticated city choices in Bangkok, a sumptuous retreat in breathtaking Krabi complete with private beach and a stunning Samui establishment on the island’s finest beach, to classic, colonial elegance in Hua Hin, sun-drenched villas set over azure waters in the Maldives and other enticing resorts in Phuket and Pattaya, Centara Grand is the natural choice for a picture-perfect holiday. BOOK DIRECT FOR OUR BEST PRICE PROMISE

02 101 1234 ext 1

CHILLAX TURNS TWO It’s our second anniversary of Chillax and we want to celebrate with you, with special benefits at some of Singapore’s best bars. Be sure to present your American Express® Platinum Reserve or Platinum Credit Card at the time of order and receive a complimentary drink on us. Terms and Conditions apply, please visit for more information. COMPLIMENTARY CRAFT BEER (DRAFT OR BOTTLE)




Chye Seng Huat Hardware, the well-known hipster café, introduces a selection of special release and rare-cellared beers from noon onwards via The Beer Stall located within the revamped courtyard. They source each beer as they would their coffees. You’d expect nothing less from the pioneering folks behind this cool enclave of Jalan Besar.

A cosy craft cocktail bar along the eclectic walkways of Haji Lane. Elevate your cocktail experience to an art form with Anthony’s elegant Japanese bartending techniques. His Negroni is said to be one of the best in Singapore. But there is also an extensive menu of amazing cocktails, and he has hundreds of recipes in his head, sure to please.





Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall specialises in premium cocktails inspired by local flavours. In this fun, unpretentious gem amid the popular playground of Boat Quay, you’re sure to be served up your perfect bespoke beverage. Try their Tak-Giu (Milo infusion) or Liang Teh (chrysanthemum, wolf berry) and see why they are the talk of the town.

Anti:dote is a stylish cocktail bar that appeals to the most discerning taste buds. Combining the craftsmanship of traditional bartending and the artistry of experimental mixology techniques, drinks are crafted with premium spirits and housemade bitters, liqueurs and sodas, complementing well the innovative modern tapas.








At the intersection of Ann Siang and Club Street, Gem Bar sits in a historic conservation shophouse serving curated drinks, and complementing food.

Cocktails at the Horse’s Mouth Bar are pieces of art and crafted to suit your palate. The comforting Japanese bar snacks run the gamut from steaming ramen to stingray fins.

Maison Ikkoku is well-known for its no-menu bespoke cocktail concept. Senior Master Mixologist Ethan Leslie Leong applies his artistry techniques here.



NUTMEG & CLOVE Taking a historical perspective with cocktails, Nutmeg & Clove uses the diverse cultural and culinary heritage to create avant-garde drinks featuring classics reinterpreted with local flair.






:pluck credits a good meal to quality ingredients, offering cosmopolitan interpretations of classics that are affordable, creative and delicious.

A beautiful bar in a Heritage Building, the Auld Alliance has an extensive whisky collection with 1,500 labels and a unique range of 40 Absinthes.






Designed in a fun, modern industrialist manner, The Mad Men Attic Bar was configured as the Go-To-Post-Work hideout in Boat Quay with stunning skyline of Marina Bay Sands.

The Secret Mermaid is a tasting room focused on American craft spirits and a great place to try exciting spirits such as unique products that range from Bakon Vodka to hand crafted organic spirits.

This modern venue proudly offers the original Seng’s Wanton Mee with curated complementary drinks such as signature cocktails and craft beer.

Terms and Conditions: • Purchase of at least one item from the merchant’s menu is required. Other terms and conditions may apply to the above mentioned privileges/promotions. Please refer to for more details. • American Express and the participating merchants reserve the right to change The Terms and Conditions at any time without prior notice. Should there be disputes, the decision of American Express and the participating merchants shall be final. • You must be at least 18 years of age to consume alcoholic beverages. Individuals with health conditions should consult and heed their doctor’s advice before drinking. Drink moderately, responsibly and do not drink and drive.


At the new Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, contemporary luxury blends harmoniously with age-old traditions. And beneath the surface of this ancient city, there is another Kyoto. A Kyoto that pulses with creative energy and magical undercurrents, with cool spaces and hidden places. Unlock the secrets of Kyoto with Four Seasons, and take a journey less ordinary for a truly extraordinary experience.

Find out more at:



ON THE COVER Amatara Wellness Resort, Phuket. Photographer: Thanet Kaewduangdee. Model: Kim Lyn-Ngea.


Black Magic Isle Nusa Lembongan keeps a sleepy pace of development that’s refreshing in contrast with neighboring Bali. Story and photographs by Ian Lloyd Neubauer

c l o c k w i s e F R O M t o p LE F T: l a u r y n i s h a k ; i a n l l o y d n e u b a u e r ; a l e x t r e a d way; T h a n e t K a e w d u a n g d e e


112 90 106 94

Asia Through Three Lenses Photographers venture to different corners of Asia returning with vastly different stories. Photographed by Alex Treadway, Francisco Guerrero and Scott A. Woodward


My Kingdom for a Spa Thailand is awash in innovative wellness ideas. Jeninne Lee-St. John works out her kinks in some of the best new spas. Photographed by Thanet Kaewduangdee


Circle of Life Three new communitybased conservation initiatives teach Rachna Sachasinh a few lessons on the “look but don’t touch” ethos of eco-tourism.

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In Every Issue  T+L Digital 16 Contributors 18 Editor’s Note 20 The Conversation 22 Deals 86 Wish You Were Here 122


Here & Now 44 Boomtown Beijing

32 Paper Weight A shop in Hanoi is

48 Monaco’s New Mix The gilded

cookbook author Danielle Graham on her go-to spots in Hong Kong and KL.

bringing back Vietnam’s ancient craft of Dó paper.

fast-food vegetarian eatery.

34 Veggie Out Hong Kong’s new 38 Crafty Collaborations Freshly

forged partnerships are bringing bold flavors to Asian brews.

Photographer Nigel Barker on his

40 My Fabulous World travel regime.

42 Stand Up Gal Comedian on-the-

rise Ali Wong has an irrepressible sense of adventure—and a palate to match.



zero-waste restaurants, ecoinnovators across Asia are reshaping their industries.

Neighborhoods across the city have come alive with shops, galleries, restaurants and bars. Riviera principality is sprucing up—and letting its hair down.

Guide 69 Wrapped in Style Our picks for

holiday gifts. Spoil your loved ones with this collection of travel-friendly clothing and accessories. Plus, designer Disaya Sorakraikitikul shares her favorite style-forward presents for the high-fashion flyer.

Beyond 53 On the Tiger Trail Tracking the big cats on safari in India, as conservation efforts show glimmers of hope.

classes at several Bangkok

58 The True Thai We sample

cooking schools in search of the most authentic Thai cuisine.

Upgrade 81 Disappearing Footprints

Waging the green revolution one community, hotel or jetsetter at a time.

62 On Fertile Ground From upcycled garments to


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F R O M LE F T: a n t h o n y j d a m i c o ; c o u r t e s y o f s a m o d e s a fa r i l o d g e ; c h r i s c h e n ; g r a n t c o r n e t t

27 Model Chef Fashion icon and


t+l digital


An Epic Road Trip through K yrgyzstan and Uzbekistan Adventurers can drive for long stretches of the old Silk Road, and sleep in boutique comfort.

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Working Digital nomads around the globe are ditching the 9 to 5 to travel the world for months without ever quitting their jobs.

Dining in Seoul Few places sport a more fabulous array of culinary diversity than the South Korean capital. We explore a few foodie favorites.

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fr o m l e f t: k i t y e n g c h a n ; 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 ; y o u s u n m o o n

this month on tr

High style at the ShangriLa at the Fort, Manila; a serene retreat on Burma’s Inle Lake; meet Taichung’s star chef; Brooke Shields shares her travel tips; the latest travel deals and more.



Francisco Guerrero

Monsicha Hoonsuwan

Asia Through Three Lenses Page 94 — “There is a very vibrant surf scene in the Philippines now with some emerging globallevel talent,” Guerrero says. “With the laid-back vibe in places like Siargao, La Union and Zambales, I always have great subject matter.” Despite his inability to surf, the Manila-based photographer can’t stay out of the water. “I have always promised myself to take some time off and get on a board. But whenever I am at a surf spot I can’t resist putting on the fins and grabbing the camera.” His tips for great aquatic pics? “Safety first, be patient, and know when its time to head back to the beach for a beer.” Instagram: @studioguerrero.

The True Thai Page 58 — “I’m such a terrible Thai cook. That’s unacceptable,” the Bangkok native confesses. At three local cooking schools, she “learned to pound chili paste and cook with coconut milk. I’m still dumbfounded at how much I didn’t know.” Osha taught her to think of Thai food as a circle: “No one flavor should poke out.” Another hint? “Think of your boss when pounding chili paste—or, just someone who angers you,” she says. “‘That should keep you going at it like a machine,’ the people at Blue Elephant told us. Well, my colleague Aum was murmuring her husband’s name the whole time!” Instagram: @samsicha.



Alex Treadway

Rachna Sachasinh

Asia Through Three Lenses Page 94 — “People often talk about the ‘light of Ladakh’—and it’s the thing I find most special. The high, arid landscape in morning or evening light will excite any photographer.” Another Himalayan love: “The ‘Snowman’ trek in Bhutan is one of the most remote and rewarding in the Himalayas. Few manage to complete the entire route.” This month he shares some of his stunning portraiture. “My tip for taking pictures of strangers is to stop being a stranger,” he says. “Get them involved in the shot; they’re bound to know the area better than you. Sign language and a smile can be enough.” Instagram: @alextreadway.

Circle of Life Page 112 — Sachasinh’s communitytourism story embedded her with villagers in three countries. “I loved the casual interactions,” she says, “like working together over a Lao campfire, a spontaneous lesson in basket-making in Burma, sipping red rice tea in a courtyard chatting with women in Pagi.” A few other great eco-travel ideas: Sam Veasna Centre’s programs that take you into Cambodia’s dry forestland, in search of rare, endangered birds; Friends of Menjangen, who are working on reef and coral conservation on an island off Bali; and Lanija Lodge, who work with Hmong in Chiang Rai. Instagram: @b438.

p h o to gr a p h er




w r i t er

w r i t er

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f F r a n c i s c o G u e rr e r o ; c o u r t e s y o f M o n s i c h a H o o n s u wa n ; c o u r t e s y o f A l e x Tr e a d way; c o u r t e s y o f R a c h n a S a c h a s i n h


november 2016


p h o to gr a p h er



editor’s note


november 2016

shots? If so, you’re part of a solid trend. These days, how can we be more responsible travelers? is a question that arises as often as the sun. As writer Cain Nunns points out in “Disappearing Footprints” (page 81), tourism’s adverse impacts extend beyond the environment to include the communities we visit. This special section highlights new and established green hotel stars in Asia, as well as a collection of green travel apps and gadgets. Ideals outlined in the section are echoed throughout this issue, including in a trio of photographic portfolios (page 94) that each delve into the meaning of community. With the diverse Philippine coastline as his backdrop, photographer Francisco Guerrero turns his focus to several locals who have adopted a small-scale approach to their love of surfing and paddle boarding. Scott A. Woodward shines a light on the vibrant colors of Cambodia, and Alex Treadway matches some wonderful faces with the South Asian settings they call home. These images help demonstrate how meaningful our journeys can be. I’m reminded of a kindergarten class I met in Ladakh 20 years ago. A black wall served as their tablet to learn how to read and write—a tedious process. In Delhi the following week, I managed to scrounge up 20 small chalkboards to send them. Now, they’re young adults and I often wonder how they are doing.



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We at Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia would like to offer our sincere condolences to the Kingdom of Thailand and to the Thai people following the passing of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

t h a n a k o r n c h o m n awa n g

Are you looking for more from your travels than beautiful sunset

the conversation The continent of Australia seems to have been waging its own silent battle against the moniker ‘the land down under.’ Thanks to plate tectonics, Australia is practically flying northward by geological standards. Both the Global Positioning System and Geoscience Australia are worried the shifting will cause a major flaw in transportation systems, and confuse our increasing reliance on GPS technology. Here’s the breakdown:



meters: The upwards coordinate adjustment to be made at the end of this year.

centimeters: The average northward movement of the country per year.


Times in the last 50 years Australia has had to reset the official coordinates of everything in the country.



meters: The largest adjustment northward that’s ever been made to Australia, in 1994.

readers share with us where they go to appreciate the great Outdoors.

Rope swings off palm trees are one way to go Jungle Book in Sri Lanka. By @owencoop.

Git Git, one of five flumes on this reader’s waterfall quest through Bali. By @ch32.

Harvesting trees to feed Thai elephants makes a great workout. By @brockofworld.

A misty morning atop the Huangshan Mountains, in China. By @kelmond.

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

Weaving the Seminyak flavors. Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach is the new chic beachfront lifestyle resort with an eclectic design, crafting locally-inspired moments connecting you to the pulsating neighbourhood of Seminyak. Our 270-room resort and 19 villas welcome you to this uniquely vibrant vicinity as well as eight distinctive lifestyle outlet experiences with local blends and inspired services. Unveiling soon. Jalan Camplung Tanduk No. 10, Seminyak, Bali 80361 - Indonesia

T: +62 361 209 9999

F: +62 361 209 9988

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

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

Regul ar contributors / photogr aphers Cedric Arnold, Helen Dalley, Philipp Engelhorn, Duncan Forgan, Diana Hubbell, Lauryn Ishak, Mark Lean, Melanie Lee, Brent T. Madison, Ian Lloyd Neubauer, Morgan Ommer, Aaron Joel Santos, Darren Soh, 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 group circul ation MANAGER circul ation assistant

J.S. Uberoi Egasith Chotpakditrakul Rasina Uberoi-Bajaj Robert Fernhout Pichayanee Kitsanayothin Varin Kongmeng Joey Kukielka David Bell Leigha Proctor Gaurav Kumar Kanda Thanakornwongskul Natchanan Kaewsasaen Porames Sirivejabandhu Yupadee Saebea

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

Nathan Lump Steven DeLuca Joseph Messer

TIME INC. INTERNATIONAL LICENSING & DEVELOPMENT ( Vice President E xecutive Editor / International Senior Director, Business De velopment Senior Director, Ad Sales & Marketing

Jim Jacovides Jack Livings Jennifer Savage Joelle Quinn

TIME INC. Chief E xecutive Officer Chief Content Officer

Joseph Ripp Norman Pearlstine

tr avel+leisure southeast asia Vol. 10, Issue 11 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: Reproduction in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner is prohibited. subscriptions Enquiries: ADVERTISING offices General enquiries: Singapore: 65/9029 0749; Japan: Shinano Co., Ltd. 81-3/3584-6420; Korea: YJP & Valued Media Co., Ltd. 82-2/3789-6888;

News + trends + discoveries

Model and culinary queen Danielle Graham.

insider intel

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

Model Chef

Supermodel and cookbook author Danielle Graham dishes to Mark Lean about her favorite places in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.

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/ here&now /


its divine French-style Japanese food,” Graham says. “I had a cooking lesson with the chef Takashi Kimura. He taught me how to make his signature abalone capellini with caviar. I also recommend the panfried unagi with foie gras. It’s so good with a glass of pinot noir.” + In Kuala Lumpur, you can find her shopping at cult-brand purveyor Kens Apothecary (kensapothecary., stocking up on beauty products. “I can’t live without the Lavender Diptyque (diptyqueparis. com) candle. And whenever I need some retail therapy I head to M Store ( at Pavilion Mall. They have an amazing selection of cool clothes and accessories.”

from Top: Find Graham’s tuna tataki salad

recipe in her new cookbook; a fragrant Lavender Diptyque candle; Duddell’s dim sum; Be Urban Wellness massage room; the cheerful interior at Duddell’s.

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fr o m t o p : C h r i s C h e n ; c o u r t e s y o f D i p t y q u e pa r i s ; c o u r t e s y o f d u d d e l l’ s ; c o u r t e s y o f b e u r b a n w e l l n e s s ; c o u r t e s y o f d u d d e l l’ s

Few foreign models have been able to captivate Hong Kong’s famously fickle fashion world as long as Danielle Graham, the still freshfaced Eurasian stunner who landed in the city at the impressionable age of 18. She quickly bagged the plum Olay China spokeswoman role, a gig she has retained for more than a decade. After countless magazine covers, shoots for Marie Claire Hong Kong, Elle Hong Kong and Harper’s Bazaar, and television commercials, now she has debuted her first cookbook, On the Table at Home (; US$53). Born in Malaysia to a Chinese mother and an Irish father, the multi-ethnic Graham has ample fodder for global cuisine, and now that she has kids of her own, nutrition and wellness play a big part in her culinary creations. Among the recipes are dishes inspired by her heritage, along with a few gems picked up along her travels: tuna tataki salad, chicken karaage, and agedashi tofu. Graham is also a huge fan of fresh seafood. “I have my fishmonger’s number on speed dial, and place my order early in the morning,” she says. According to her, nothing beats picking up a fresh snapper from the morning market, steaming it for dinner or making a light ceviche for lunch on a hot summer’s day. Here, her go-to spots for dining and wellness in her two favorite cities. + Duddell’s (; dinner for two HK$800) is Graham’s favorite Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong. “I love the charming space; the dim sum is delicious,” she says. “The abalone puff is to die for and the barbecue Iberian pork is so juicy that it melts in your mouth.” + “I often bliss out with the fourhand massage at Be Urban Wellness ( in Kuala Lumpur, followed by time in the oxygen chamber. I also come here for private yoga classes.” + “Dining at Cilantro (cilantrokl. com; dinner for two RM500) in Kuala Lumpur is always a good idea with

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Flower Power

The opening of a botanical garden in already-lush Luang Prabang both parades and protects the local flora. By Veronica Inveen If the allure of Luang Prabang’s

cascading waterfalls and ancient palaces weren’t enough to beguile us, a new botanical garden offers yet another excuse for visiting the secluded city. After seven years of research and landscaping, Pha Tad Ke, the country’s first botanical garden, will open to the public at the beginning of November. Showcasing the elaborate flora of Laos, the garden serves as an oasis of orchids, bamboo and palms, clustered around the base of Pha Tad Ke cliff, as it rises from the Mekong. The garden is the brainchild of Rik Gadella, a former Paris-based art and publishing executive who visited Luang Prabang back in 2007 and loved it so much he never left. The idea of turning 14 hectares of scrubland into an elaborate garden, museum, café and shop stemmed from his love of Laos’s natural beauty. “I want people to reconnect with nature,” Gadella says, “and the way Lao people live with nature in their everyday lives.” Gadella has created a conservation garden to preserve plants used in medicine and spiritual ceremonies, and


as an archive of botanical wisdom traditionally passed down orally. “More young Lao are migrating to cities, and elders are passing away before they can transmit their knowledge,” Gadella says. “By cataloging the information, we protect the plant diversity and help conserve the culture.” As focused as the Pha Tad Ke team may be on preserving history, they are equally dedicated to investing in Laos’s future. Everything from the handicrafts at the onsite shop, to the ingredients used at the café, to the staff members making it all happen, is native to Laos. “We want to keep the money we make circulating in the Lao economy,” Gadella says. “Our entrance fees will help fund our other projects, such as publications and educational programs.” So as you walk the garden’s quiet paths, stopping to look out over the sleepy river, or ducking into the Pha Tad Ke café for a Lao feast, remember this kind of tourism represents a balance. Take something away, give something back.; admission US$24.

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Great Escapes Bill Bensley’s new hardcover will leave design freaks drooling. “My aesthetic varies hugely by project, as we try to build an environment that not only extends the culture of a place in a beautiful way, but also one where guests can learn something new,” says the Bangkok-based designer, architect and landscape artist known for his daring design twists. Escapism, a coffeetable tome of his work released last month, draws the reader into his world with 550plus pages of eyepopping photographs of 26 projects in 10 countries, including the Maldives, Thailand, Cambodia and more. “I try to explain the complex and enjoyable world of design that I live in, and why and how I do what I do,” Bensley says. His team shot more than 50,000 images for the project. The result is a dreamy foray into the otherworldly spaces that have defined his career.; US$125.

fr o m t o p : C o u r t e s y o f p h a ta d k e ; c o u r t e s y o f b e n s l e y

A bambooshaded path at Pha Tad Ke.


Australian Graffiti

Artwork by London’s infamous street artist Banksy is being showcased at a new exhibition in Melbourne. By Diana Hubbell

clockwise from above: Mickey

fr o m to p : c o u rt esy o f T h e Art o f Ba n ksy Ex h i b i t i o n ( 3 ) ; c o u rt esy o f s i n ga p o r e a i r l i n es

Mouse is a recurring subject of Banksy’s work; curator Steve Lazarides; Girl with a Ballon.

It’s one of the largest exhibitions in the world of Banksy’s works and a very well-rounded retrospective,” says curator Steve Lazarides of the newly opened The Art of Banksy. As the subversive street artist’s spokesperson from 1997 to 2008, Lazarides is one of the few people who knows who Banksy really is—though to him, the graffiti master’s work transcends any questions of identity and remains relevant to a global audience, which is why he was so determined to procure these off-street pieces from roughly 40 different private collectors around the world. “I wanted to bring it to a place where people wouldn’t normally get to see his work exhibited,” Lazarides says of his choice of Melbourne for the unauthorized exhibition. “And I think Banksy’s art belongs to the public.” To manage more than 80 of the artist’s pieces, including pop icons such as Laugh Now and Girl with a Balloon, exhibitors

went beyond a conventional gallery. “They built the venue specially to hold the show. It gives off the right kind of vibe for this particular ethos,” says Lazarides. With train lines and graffiti-sprayed brick, the resulting custom space at The Paddock, Federation Square, exudes the same gritty-cool as the pre-gentrified East London ’hoods where Banksy first rose to prominence. Lazarides says it’s also the ideal place to shed light on the local dynamic creative scene: “Melbourne has a particularly vibrant street art culture.” Murals by Kaffeine, Bailer, Be Free, Adnate, Sirum and other homegrown talent decorate the outside of the exhibition, and though Banksy’s art may have that London underground vibe, the scene, with food trucks, craft beers, cocktails and live DJs, is a total celebration of summer in Melbourne. through January 22; au; adult tickets A$30.


Mile-High Grub

Once the butt of jokes, in-flight meals are moving up in the world as airlines elevate their standard menus with high-end chef collaborations.

Crab served on Singapore Airlines.

From rubbery mystery meat to sad pasta days past al dente, most airline meals

are grim. Bitty galley kitchens would be enough to make feeding the masses daunting, even if dry air and low cabin pressures didn’t blunt our sense of taste. A number of airlines in recent years have risen to the challenge though, creating dining options that are not merely palatable, but actually pleasurable. +The latest to up their game is Hainan Airlines (, which launched its Restaurant on Board collaboration with a Michelin-lauded team last August. For now, the fancier fare is only available on European routes, but there are plans to expand. + Singapore Airlines ( helped pioneer the concept, hauling in a panel of culinary gurus like Yoshihiro Murata, Georges Blanc and Carlo Cracco—with a combined 12 Michelin stars—to lend their expertise on dishes on offer to even Economy and Premium class passengers. + Qatar (qatarairways. com) enlisted chef Nobu Matsuhisa to add some star-power to its First and Business menus. + Cathay Pacific ( asked for menu help from Mandarin Oriental last year to give passengers to Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, Paris, New York and Milan a full-on fine dining experience. You’ll never be stuck hoarding bags of pretzels again. —D.H.

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Paper Weight

I flipped through soft

from top right: Zó Paper shop; store owner Tran Hong Nhung (right) thumbs through Dó paper; hand-crafted stationary; paper sheets in various textures.


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peachy sheets of paper that will outlive even my great-great-greatgrandchildren. The Vietnamese art of manufacturing Dó (pronounced “zo”) paper dates back to the 13th-century Red River Delta, and the resulting sheets can last up to a staggering 800 years. Because of its longevity, Dó is the preferred canvas for Dong Ho prints, allegoric vignettes produced to celebrate Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. And yet the craft was largely lost to the past and practically begging for a modern makeover. Enter Zó Paper ( fb. com/Zopaper; notebooks from VND160,000), a hip boutique that opened in Hanoi’s railway district of Ba Dinh this May. The shop sells Dó paper notebooks, postcards and calendars on thick smudge-proof pages that look truly fit to last for centuries, while Zó’s assortment of origami lamps, paper fans and cardboard matchboxes redefine Hanoi’s cool by mixing vintage textures and minimalist designs. “Dó started declining in the 1980s because rapid industrialization made traditional handmade papermaking almost obsolete in Vietnam,” says Tran Hong Nhung, the young woman behind the revival. Nhung’s vision for Zó Paper took shape in 2012 when she visited the village of Duong Ho, an hour drive northeast of Hanoi, and met three remaining Dó artisan families. She envisioned creating more jobs

in Duong Ho while reinvigorating the art of Dó by introducing it to a wider audience. Sadly, Duong Ho’s development had wiped out the green spaces required to plant and nurture Dó’s native trees. The few papermakers left in business had turned to other occupations to earn a living, and Nhung scrambled to find an alternative. At the start of 2016, she moved the operation to Suoi Co village, an hour southwest of the capital. “Some of Suoi Co’s villagers were already familiar with papermaking techniques, and the environment is more suited to producing Dó,” Nhung says. In addition to job creation, she gives back to Suoi Co through donations from Zó Paper’s profits, and she has plans to start an artist retreat that will bring even more attention and opportunities to the village. Zó Paper already featured in Malaysia as the paper of choice for the prints of George Town Festival’s “Reading Art” exhibition, and has garnered an online customer base overseas in Australia, Japan and Malaysia. The international success inspired Nhung to open the charming little shop in her own backyard. “This is just another step to raise awareness to preserve this forlorn national heritage,” she says. With the new brick-andmortar storefront, a growing audience, and an expanding capacity to give back to villages across Vietnam, this brand is more than just a paper tiger.

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p r i g h t: c o u r t e s y o f z Ó p r o j e c t ( 3 ) ; k i t y e n g c h a n

A new shop in the heart of Hanoi is reviving Vietnam’s ancient art of crafting durable handmade paper. By Marco Ferr arese

the dish

Veggie Out A new meatless addition to Hong Kong’s dining scene doles out fast food with a clean, green conscience. By Helen Dalley Yes, Hong Kong’s new veggie

restaurant Home – Eat to Live is housed in what had been a Burger King in Central. While the fast-food concept remains firmly in place— customers place their order at the till and are given a restaurant pager to signal when their meal is ready—the Whoppers and fries have given way to wholesome, mostly organic menu items named after endangered or extinct species. Popular bites include The Polar Bear, a beetroot, mushroom and oat burger topped with roasted bell peppers, smoked eggplant caviar and aioli, as well as the Silky Sifaka earth bowl, a vegetarian take on Vietnamese pho that ditches the meat in favor of fresh greens and luscious avocado. “We’ve designed a menu that caters to everyone, whether they’re craving a Middle-Eastern flat bread or a bowl of noodles,” says founder


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FROM top: The Polar Bear, a meatless beet burger; restaurant founder Christian Mongendre; inside the vegetarian fast-food joint; organic cold-pressed juices; hazelnut chocolate pie.

Christian Mongendre. A dedicated vegetarian, he’s on a mission to convince diners that meat-free cuisine doesn’t have to be limiting. Mongendre hopes to open a second outlet in Hong Kong soon and harbors ambitions to roll out his healthy fast-food model across Asia. “We want to appeal to the lawyers and bankers as well as the hippies and yogis,” he says. To that end, he’s made sure to include more indulgent offerings than the stereotypical slabs of tofu. While upstairs serves speedy mains, guests on the ground floor can kick back on the sofa and dig into beautifully presented vegan desserts such as hazelnut chocolate pie and raspberry lime tart. Pair them with a nutritious shake like Balance, which combines coconut and date with cold-pressed vanilla extract. In the evening, health-conscious revelers can knock back a cocktail or two sans the guilt: the popular Jade Supercharged balances out Tequila Ocho, a single estate artisanal varietal, with kale, spinach, green pepper, green apple and parsley. “Just because food is fast doesn’t mean it can’t be tasty,” he says. Or that it must be so sanctimonious. A little booze, a funky attitude, and dishes that can sate hardened carnivores make this a place that both those who eat to live and live to eat can enjoy. homerestauranthk. com; mains from HK$118.

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p : A n t h o n y J D a m i c o ( 2 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f HO M E – E at t o L i v e ( 2 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f F 8 PHOTOG R APH

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/ here&now / clockwise from left:



Shopping, festival-style; the low-down on this year’s event; swing kids bring the wholesome.

For its third act, Thailand’s biggest festival makes ‘carbon-neutral’ sound as fun as four days in the park. By Jeninne lee-st. john after the annual rice harvest,

farm, to talks by ‘eco heroes’ like the filmmaker of the new Plastics Ocean documentary, debuting at the fest. But the biggest news is that the entire festival will be carbon-neutral for the first time. Proceeds from ticket sales will go towards offsets to benefit Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Borneo, a 65,000-hectare peat swamp forest that is Indonesia’s largest private orangutan sanctuary. Wonderfruit is also participating in an innovative, UN-approved bond

offering that will enable anyone to invest for profit in protecting Rimba Raya. We’re seeing nothing but green.; from Bt3,800 for adult one-day pass.


Mission Accomplished

An oh-so-st ylish coll abor ation results in captivating carry-ons with a spl ash of local color.

When trend-setting Singaporean designer Ong Shunmugam teamed up with Rimowa, the result was both a striking ode to Asian textiles and an envyinducing travel accessory. With vibrant prints pulled from the traditions of Indonesia, China, India, Mongolia, Japan and Malaysia, the Rimowa X Ong Shunmugam: Women on A Mission capsule collection is a throwback to travel’s glam past and yet utterly of-the-moment. Singaporean Rimowa stores, fashion sold separately at Ong Shunmugam boutiques; prices on request.


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fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f w o n d e rfr u i t ( 3 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f r i m o wa

farmers in Isaan gather their yield in the village center to build intricate edifices. Blessings and celebrations ensue, then the bundles are beaten, releasing the rice grains to be milled and shared with all. It’s collective, sustainable and fun—which also happens to sum up Wonderfruit, the super-green music and arts festival returning to eastern Thailand for its third year next month with such headliners as Liane La Havas and Rudimental. Though hosting avant garde performances, the new Farm Stage will follow those age-old Isaan traditions; it’ll be made of bamboo and organic rice that, post-event, will be distributed to local communities. “Real positive changes are made when sustainability initiatives are at the core of everything,” says founder Pete Phornprapha, “so that they form the event rather than the other way around.” Other eco-evolutions in the works range from locally hand-made bamboo fencing around the grounds, to rice planting sessions at the on-site

AYANA Resort and Spa BALI is celebrating their 20th Anniversary.

/ here&now / from Top: Inside Jing-A

Brewing Co., Beijing; tapping into a Young Master Ales beer in Hong Kong; Marou chocolate cameos in the Imperial Chocolate Cyclo Stout by Pasteur Street Brewing Company, Saigon; barrels and beers at Young Master Ales; a bottle of Midnight Roast by Innocence Brewing, Singapore.


Crafty Collaborations China

Beijing’s Jing-A Brewing Co. ( traveled some 7,000 kilometers to Europe’s first sake brewery in Grimstad, Norway, for one of its most ambitious collaborations to date. Master Norwegian brewers Nøgne Ø added a little Scandinavian magic to Imperial Koji Saison, a massive, palatechallenging 14-percent ale made with aged Chinese orange peel, fresh koji, and sake and saison yeasts. Their bold joint maneuver scored a bronze medal in Barcelona Beer Challenge 2016’s “Experimental” category. Meanwhile in London, a still-unnamed Flanders red ale, brewed with smoked sour plums Jing-A sourced in China, is currently aging in barrels at Beavertown Brewery. Jing-A hopes to unveil this transcontinental creation in Beijing by next summer.


“We wanted something reflective of Southeast Asia,” says Mike Wong, founder of Innocence Brewing ( of the easydrinking Serai Halia pale ale, launched during Singapore Craft Beer Week in August. For its first-ever collaboration, the hotshot new kid in the booming local craft beer scene partnered with Smith Street Taps, an all-craft taps hawker stall in Chinatown. The pair spiked it with 10 kilograms of lemongrass and more than


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three kilos of ginger, then used ale and champagne yeasts for fermentation, creating a spicy, refreshing brew with a distinct sense of place.

Hong Kong

A sturdy oatmeal stout base balances out the bitterness in Young Master Ales’ ( Add Oil , made in tandem with a local third-wave café and roaster, 18 Grams Specialty Coffee. To fully infuse the flavors of 18 Grams’ custom blend, founder Rohit Dugar says YMA used a “double mash” method of first roasting the beans and malted barley together, then later adding a coldbrew coffee and a tincture of the same beans after fermentation. The creativity paid off—it won a bronze at the 2016 Australian International Beer Awards.


When one of Saigon’s first serious microbreweries, Pasteur Street Brewing Company (, joined forces with Vietnamese artisanal cacao masters, Marou Faiseurs du Chocolat, the result was a match made in beer heaven. The dark, toasty notes in the Imperial Chocolate Cyclo Stout come from Treasure Island, a small-batch chocolate made from Tan Phu Dong Island in the Mekong River. So successful was this 13-percent stout that it bagged a gold medal in the “Chocolate Beer” category of this May’s World Beer Cup.

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f J i n g - A Br e w i n g ; c o u r t e s y o f Y o u n g M a s t e r A l e s ; c o u r t e s y o f Pa s t e u r S t r e e t Br e w i n g C o m pa n y; A n t h o n y J D a m i c o ; c o u r t e s y o f I n n o c e n c e Br e w i n g

Catching the spirit of collaboration, Asian breweries are teaming up with bold beer hounds, artisanal chocolatiers, coffee roasters, and more to produce some serious suds. by Brian Spencer

E A S T E R N & O R I E N TA L E X P R E S S , S O U T H E A S T A S I A

DISCOVER SOUTHEAST ASIA 4 Beers to Drink Now Even as the region’s local breweries amp up production, more foreign beers are hitting our shelves and taps. Here are four stellar imports worth hunting down.


c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f B e av e r t o w n Br e w e r y; c o u r t e s y o f m i k k e l l e r ; c o u r t e s y o f F o u r p u r e Br e w i n g ; c o u r t e s y o f T o Ø l


Gamma Ray: Beavertown Brewery’s signature beer, ripe with three malts including best pale, is probably the finest pale ale coming out of London. Clean, crisp and redolent of tropical citrus fruits, Gamma Ray is the perfect antidote for sweltering Southeast Asian afternoons. The can’s sci-fi inspired artwork is unmistakable.

Spontan Series: Danish brewery Mikkeller produces this range of tart, refreshing ales by aging lambics in oak barrels with wild yeasts and adding a single fruit— gooseberries, cherries, Mandarin oranges—to each batch. Look for Spontans in craft bottle shops and on draft at Mikkeller bars in Bangkok, Singapore, Seoul and Taipei.


Velvets Are Blue: Like the Spontan ales, this spritzy saison from Denmark’s To Øl draws its sour funk from a wild yeast fermentation, while heaps of blueberries contribute a light, fruity backbone. Raspberries replace the blueberries in its sister beer, Roses Are Brett. To Øl is distributed in at least nine Asia-Pacific countries.

Session IPA: Another London


brewery (mostly) eschewing bottles for cans, Fourpure Brewing Co. packs five different hops into its highly drinkable Session IPA. It has all the flavor of a big, juicy American-style IPA but, at just 4.2-percent alcohol-byvolume, far less punch. For now, it’s available in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.


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My Fabulous World

Nigel Barker

The photographer balances his fast-paced career with family trips and moments of quiet—and he always travels with mementos of home. SOUTHERN COMFORT

One of my favorite places in the world is Point Clear, Alabama. It’s all 100-yearold houses and beautiful oak trees with Spanish moss. We stay in the same house year after year. It’s on the Gulf of Mexico, and the sun sets right outside our doorstep. You can just sit and watch the pelicans scooping into the water. It’s a true getaway. URBAN ESCAPE

I’m often shooting in chaotic places, so I look for a hotel that feels like an oasis. The best environment for me is a blank canvas. If I’m going to edit in my room, I love it if the color palette isn’t jarring. I’m the global


photographer at work in Malaysia; sunset in Point Clear, Alabama; Smythson’s Panama Travel Wallet (smythson. com, US$595); his wife, model Cristen Chin, and their kids in the Bahamas; Barker’s favorite cufflink case.

brand ambassador for AC Hotels, and their aesthetic is very calming. STYLE FILE

I try to be organized when I fly. I have a Smythson travel wallet; it’s very large, and it has leather dividers for documents, passport, money—all that. I use it religiously. MOTHER COUNTRY

Last year I took my family to Sri Lanka, where my mother is from. It’s one of those extraordinary places where in a day you can drive from the mountains to the beach to a rain forest. It’s funny—we have Sri Lankan blood running through our veins, but you don’t necessarily identify

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with a place until you’re there and a part of you says, Oh, you’re home. SOUVENIR STORIES

Our house is decorated with things from our travels—rugs from Morocco, glass from Venice. I like to find out what a place is famous for and get the best example. Wherever I am, I’ll find a Christmas decoration for my wife. It’s like a United Nations Christmas tree every year.


I have these cheesy routines when I travel. My daughter always hides a teddy bear or something in my bag. And I carry a container for cuff links with the word studs on top that my grandfather gave me. Personal things are a way of grounding yourself and realizing why you’re working so hard. — As told to Lila Battis

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f n i g e l b a r k e r (4 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f s m y t h s o n ; D av e K i n g / g e t t y i m a g e s

clockwise from top left: The

/ here&now / talking tr avel

Stand-Up Gal

Between early trips with family and years spent on tour, it’s no surprise comedian Ali Wong has developed an irrepressible sense of adventure— and a palate to match. by STEPHANIE WU. photogr aph by Nathaniel Wood

Watch Ali Wong’s special Baby Cobra on Netflix.


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has become a household name since the May premiere of her hit Netflix special, Baby Cobra. But before the fame, Wong struggled with life on the road as a young comic. “It was lonely,” she says. “You go to this new town, and you don’t know anybody.” Wong spent her days searching for Asian places to eat: dim sum in Vancouver, a Hmong market in Minneapolis. “Food is a huge source of comfort for me,” she explains. Meals have been a touchstone on Wong’s travels since she was a kid, growing up in northern California with parents who were eager to see new places, children in tow. She can still recall some of the best dishes from her childhood trips: “In Hue, Vietnam, we had savory rice pancakes with crumbled shrimp and pork rinds. I’ve still never had a version as good.” During a gradeschool trip to France, she discovered sea urchin (“It tasted like roses”) and escargots (“I had six of them and thought, I want more”). And she vividly remembers trying durian: “People said it smelled like vomit, but I knew it had to be good because everyone made such a big fuss.” By her third try, she was addicted to the fruit. “My parents emphasized experiential learning—in my family, being adventurous was a sign of maturity,” she says. This fall, Wong appears on the new comedy TV show American Housewife and continues writing for the series Fresh Off the Boat—a brief break from the road before she headlines a tour next year. This time around, Wong will have company: her one-year-old daughter, Mari. Like her own parents, Wong wants to instill a sense of adventure in her young daughter. Mari is already a frequent flier and is quickly changing Wong’s routines: “My travels now are all about her— making her food on the road, being around to nurse, and pumping milk. It’s less about feeding me, and more about feeding her.”


Los Angeles comedian Ali Wong


THE POOL When our local friends heard we were staying at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, they all exclaimed, “We love the pool!” Heated, landscaped and 50-meters long, it’s a resort in the city center. Book a poolside brunch, and lounge all day like a rock star.


The best location in Victoria Harbour has emerged from a four-year revamp. We inspected bow to stern of this cruiseliner-inspired Art Deco classic. Whether you make the updated Grand Café your new living room or move into one of the palatial suites, you’ll find excellent delights at every turn. PLATEAU SPA One of the town’s best-kept hotel secrets is this spa, which just launched bespoke treatments with Budapest beauty brand Omorovicza. You’ve never seen a tub like the ones in these rooms—which, for the ultimate escape, you can check in to and Zen-out on your private deck overlooking the water. Talk about feng shui.

GRAND CLUB The top-floor Grand Club has all-day food and drinks surrounded by original art works that rival the views for drama. Take, for example, Daniel Man’s Wie Wahr ich / How Was I? The suspended mirror, with streaks recalling the movement of ships, swings gently, a kinetic element that invites you to contemplate the poetic reflection of the harbor beyond. It’ll inspire meditation on transpacific voyages. (Or at least provide a cool backdrop for a selfie.)

GRAND HYATT HONG KONG 1 Harbour Road, Hong Kong, China

GUESTROOMS It’s not a trick of the light. Every room has been redone so that by some spacial magic they feel bigger and brighter and blend better with the city. Up go the blinds and in comes Hong Kong! SUITE LIFE Need to hold a press conference? Or afternoon tea? Either way, the renovated suites are the ones to book. We love how the choose-your-own aesthetic Ambassador and Presidential Suites help you feel at fully home.

ONE HARBOUR ROAD We’ve never eaten elevated Cantonese cuisine that tasted so authentic—so hats off to chef Li Shu Tim. Stir-fried Iberian pork? Steamed sustainable garoupa? If the best streetside mom-and-pops imported such deliciousness, this is what it would taste like.

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Boomtown Beijing The capital has always been celebrated for its culture and history—while Shanghai had all the fun. No longer. Neighborhoods across the city have come alive with shops, galleries, restaurants and bars. by Amy Fabris-Shi

The Georg, by Georg Jensen, a new restaurant, gallery and lounge. Inset: Simon Dang pours a drink at Capital Spirits, his baijiu bar.

Four of-the-moment spots for dinner and a cocktail. eat

Spice lovers, get your fix at Southern Fish, a newcomer to the hip Dashilar area that specializes in fiery Hunanese cuisine. Call ahead to book one of the nine tables in this minimalist space, where diners sit elbow-to-elbow and sample dishes like roasted green chilies covered in egg, taro soup, or roasted pork belly. 166 Yangmeizhu Xiejie; 86-10/8315-2539; mains RMB27–95. A two-story lounge, gallery and restaurant from Danish silverware and jewelry brand Georg Jensen, the Georg has become the talk of


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the town since it opened in a restored mansion along the Yu River last fall. The sleek, Scandinavian-inspired interiors are the perfect complement to the refined four- or five-course tasting menus, which feature modern European dishes like poached eggs with spinach, pear and pecorino. thegeorg. com; tasting menus from RMB450.


A low-lit, speakeasy-style bar, Capital Spirits is dedicated to educating visitors and Beijingers on the nuances of baijiu, China’s national liquor. (It’s similar to grappa.)

Tasting flights of more than 20 varieties, including a snake-infused baijiu from Guangdong, are accompanied by a mini-tutorial from the bartender. A nearby sister bar, the Distillery, serves smallbatch, house-distilled gin. capitalspirits​ By day, Long Jing is a quiet tea lounge serving traditional Chinese brews; at night, it transforms into a bar specializing in tea-infused cocktails. (Literally, the cabinets rotate, turning their displays from tea to alcohol.) Order a Lapsang Whiskey Sour or an Oolong Old-Fashioned, and plan on ending the night here; closing time is 2 a.m. >>

F r o m T o p : C o u r t e s y o f T h e G e o r g ; C o u r t e s y o f C a p i ta l S p i r i t s .

A Night on the town



Along the wooden jetty, with crystal blue waves lapping gently beneath your feet and jungle-fringed powdery sand ahead of you, take your first steps towards total tranquility.

APTLY NAMED FOR THE PRAYER BEADS traditionally used in meditation, JapaMala immediately instills within you a sense of calm, which can perhaps be attributed to the 10 years of patience and restraint that went into its manual construction. From luxurious Penghulu’s House to the wooden sarangs (‘nests’ in Malay) hidden among the foliage or perched on the cliffs, every nook and feature is meticulously hand-built from natural materials. Wend your way up elevated walkways of timber sourced from the indigenous Orang Asli and ensconce yourself within walls salvaged and restored from old village houses. As you relax into your new habitat, you might find your space uniquely enhanced by a tree trunk never uprooted or an ancient stone left unturned. Gazing over the ocean from the reading loft of your Jungle Luxe Sarang or lazing away the days in the bedroom of your Treetop Chalet, you are surrounded by fittings borrowed from nature and carefully wrought by skilled island craftsmen.

Kampung Lanting,86800 Pulau Tioman, Pahang Darul Makmur, Malaysia +609 419 7777

So rooted in its own environment, sitting quietly amid 11 acres of unspoiled rainforest on Tioman Island, JapaMala removes you from the outside world and invites you to roam unhurried along the deserted golden beach or beneath the shady canopy. Here, sculpted into natural caves and set among the trees, Samadhi Spa awaits. Feel the stresses of life slide away as you slip into the invigorating waters of a cliff-top hot tub or indulge in age-old therapies as the practiced hands of native healers administer soothing oils made from ingredients harvested from the tropical forest. Not limited to wellness experiences, locally sourced ingredients have a starring role on the menus of JapaMala’s restaurants. The international flavors you enjoy while sitting suspended over the ocean at Mandi Mandi, as well as the traditional Asian dishes of Tamarind Tioman come courtesy of the island’s farmers and fishermen. Unrushed and meditative, you fill your days with reflective pursuits: snorkeling and diving or trekking through the forest. Ever so gently, JapaMala lures you to that intensely relaxed state known in Sanskrit as Samadhi.

/ here&now / Inside Scoop Plugged-in Beijingers share what’s new and noteworthy. “When it comes to Asian cooking, having a great cleaver is essential. I recommend buying one at the original branch of Wang Mazi (88-1 Meishi Jie; 86-10/6336-5740), a 400-year-old brand that still makes the best knives in China.”

Beijing Treasure Hunt

Sarah Keenlyside, tour operator and founder of Bespoke Travel Company (


“On the weekends, I always head to Panjiayuan Antique Market to hunt for cool Chinese accessories and furniture—things like vintage watches, silver jewelry, handpainted lacquer chests, and tiny stools.” Liu Lu, fashion designer and founder of Luvon by Liu Lu ( 1

“If you’re interested in contemporary art, the 798 and Caochangdi districts are popular, but there are also places near the center of the city to see, including the Arrow Factory (arrow​factory., which is set in a former vegetable stand, and the Today Art Museum (todayart​, known for its retrospectives.”

Concealed behind tall wooden doors on distinguished Guozijian Street, this immaculate design store sells accessories, tableware and contemporary furniture from Chinese and Japanese designers in a restored siheyuan, or traditional courtyard home. Admire the copper utensils, leather wallets, and black-walnut chairs and tables—all beautifully arranged in a succession of rooms by owner Gao Guqi—before grabbing coffee in the sunny café.


The second brick-andmortar location (2) from one of China’s bestknown e-tail sites is housed in the fashionable Taikoo Li Sanlitun shopping center.

Triple Major

The ancient lanes of Dashilar, an area that plays host to the annual Beijing Design Week, are filled with cute shops like Triple Major (1), which is

Brian Wallace, founder of Red Gate Gallery (

“My recommendation is to go winter swimming with the old men in Houhai Lake, which is in the center of the city. They swim year-round, even when the lake freezes over! Anyone who joins them will immediately rank among the toughest in the world. I have yet to be a tough man.”

Begin at C&C (Culture & Creative) Park (77 Meishuguan Hou Jie), a former printing factory that has been transformed into an enclave of galleries and creative studios. Fuel up with a latte from Meridian Space (, a warehouse-like performance venue and café; then check out the epic private showroom of Ma Ke, the fashion designer who makes pieces for China’s first lady (by appointment only; 8610/5753-8089).

10 a.m.

Kin Hong, chef and owner of the latenight spot Taco Bar (

Walk this way The best the city has to offer—contemporary galleries, restaurants, pagoda-studded parks, sunset vantage points amid ancient vermilion walls—in a one-day wander through Old Beijing.


modeled after a Chinese medicine hall and features wood-beamed ceilings and vintage tiles. On display: casual clothing from experimental brands like Lemaire, Bless, Ffixxed and the store’s own label.

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F ro m To p: C o u rtesy o f wa a | w e a r chitech a no ny mo u s ; C o urtesy o f FFIXXED STUDIOS; C o urtesy o f U b i Ga lle ry ; ED JONES/G e tty Im ag es

The city’s best boutiques are housed in spaces that are as cutting-edge as their merchandise.

to clear glass earrings by Japanese designer Kana Umeda. Schelling also has a selection of Chinese ceramics, vintage postcards and antique maps of the surrounding Dashilar area, beautifully restored by local brand Beijing Postcards.

pop-up Beijing

fr o m ToP : C o urtesy o f ZAO/sta nda r da r chitectu r e ; C o urtesy o f COR OMOTO ; R ich ard B o rd / G e tty Im ag es ; ©S o ng q ua n D e ng /d r e a mstim e . com ; co urtesy of y is hu 8


Browse slinky cocktail dresses, street wear and accessories by some of the hottest local talent, including Luo de Lucie Luo, Bai Peng, and Uzo. Min.

Ubi Gallery

Run by Dutch expat Machtelt Schelling, this small jewelry store (3) showcases exquisite, limited-edition pieces: everything from bold silicone necklaces by Israeli artist Tzuri Gueta

Set in the buzzy Sanlitun district, this concept store is ground zero for one-of-a-kind gifts. The owners, who also run an architecture studio, have stockpiled an everchanging range of Chinese and European antiques, sculptural jewelry, and quirky souvenirs, including dumpling-print tea towels and hand-painted North Korean political propaganda posters. The adjacent wine bar also regularly holds movie nights, craft workshops and cultural talks.

In One Minute, Out the Next Trends in the Chinese capital shift and change as fast as the skyline.


Small-scale, communityfocused projects like Standard Architecture’s Micro-Yuan’er, which explores how Beijing’s historic hutongs can be rescued and repurposed for modern living by incorporating social spaces like libraries and playgrounds. Out Showy architectural behemoths, such as Herzog & de Meuron Bird’s Nest Stadium.


A growing appreciation for gourmet coffee, which locals sip at cafés like Moka Bros (left; and Café Zarah (

Out Starbucks green-tea lattes and Frappuccinos.


Wearing sophisticated Chinese designers, like men’s-wear darling Xander Zhou and couture heavyweight Guo Pei (shown at right), whose dress Rihanna wore to the 2015 Met Gala. Out International logo worship.


Continue on to Old Beijing’s Sino-French university. The stunning, century-old campus is now home to Yishu 8 (, a private gallery that cultivates Chinese-European artistic exchange through residencies and exhibitions of sculpture, photography and painting.

12 p.m.

TRB Bites (; menus from RMB298) is the newer, laidback sibling of the capital’s top finedining destination, Temple Restaurant Beijing (; menus from RMB398). The set menu features a selection of savory and sweet dishes such as mango-coconut rice and octopus with red pepper, chorizo and potato. Best of all, the restaurant sits right by the moat of the Forbidden City, overlooking its scarlet walls.

1 p.m.

Exit the Forbidden City at its northern end and continue through the front gate of the 23-hectare Jingshan Park. Climb the hill for a lovely 360-degree view of Beijing, and wait for the show at sunset, when the light catches the yellowtiled rooftops of the Forbidden City. A less strenuous (but equally memorable) option: enjoy a well-earned gin and tonic on the terrace of Capital M (m-restaurant​group. com), which faces Tiananmen Square.

6 p.m.

Walk off lunch with a stroll through the Forbidden City ( Some areas were recently opened to the public for the first time, and a marked route takes you through exhibition halls showcasing imperial treasures and parts of the perimeter walls.

3:30 p.m.

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/ here&now / Che at Sheet

Monaco’s New Mix

The gilded Riviera principality is sprucing itself up—and letting its hair down (a bit). These days you’ll find unfussy restaurants and modernized spas, along with plenty of seaside glamour. BY LANE NIESET

The hotels: designer

The Trend: casual dining

Eqvita | It’s not all Michelin

Halle Gourmande |

stars—the Monegasques are going wild for simple, stylish (and affordable) new restaurants. Tennis champ and Monaco resident Novak Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, have opened this casual vegan spot with the help of chef Lee McClay, who fueled the star at the Australian Open. Try a buckwheat pancake or an energizing lettuce wrap. eqvita; mains €13–€20.

Popular lunchtime haunt La Halle du Marché de la Condamine is now a gourmet food hall by night. Members of Monte Carlo’s society set swing by the happening evening market, dubbed Halle Gourmande, to dig into a variety of Monegasque specialties, including barbajuan, a savory Swisschard-and-spinach-stuffed fritter. 15 Place d’Armes; 377-93/30-63-94.

Les Perles de MonteCarlo | Although this

in-demand oyster nursery supplies some of the most high-end restaurants in town, the vibe at its harborside location in Fontvieille is decidedly laid-back. Call ahead to reserve a spot and sample the two types of oysters the nursery raises, freshly shucked and served on ice.; oysters and wine from €25.

A DAY IN PLACE DU CASINO The Casino de Monte-Carlo, a famous Bond set, is one highlight in this centr al square. how to spend a day at Monaco's swankiest address:


A.M. | Start at the Casino Café de Paris with a cappuccino by the slots—entry is free and bets start at 2 euros (casinomonte​ Then head to Pavillons MonteCarlo, five pebbleshaped pop-up boutiques from Chanel, Chopard and others.



P.M. | Have lunch at the newly renovated Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo seaside spa (thermesmarins​ montecarlo​. com). L’Hirondelle restaurant serves great seafood— sit on the terrace for views of the Prince’s Palace.


p.M. | Stick around for a La Prairie treatment followed by a dip in the seawater pool overlooking the Mediterranean. A day pass here starts at €190, but it's complimentary for guests of Hôtel de Paris and Hôtel Hermitage.

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p.M. | Have dinner at Alain Ducasse’s legendary gilded restaurant, Le Louis XV, which has reopened at Hôtel de Paris. Then try your luck at Casino de Monte-Carlo next door—evening dresses and jackets recommended (

There’s already one major fashion collaboration at Hôtel Métropole (metropole. com; doubles from €475), in the form of a chic Karl Lagerfeld–designed pool. In February, the hotel will launch Spa Métropole by Givenchy. The Métropole also claims three of Monaco’s 22 Michelin stars (two for Joël Robuchon MonteCarlo and one for Yoshi, Robuchon’s Japanese place). The 150-year-old landmark Hôtel De Paris is still undergoing a renovation (they’re adding a rooftop pool, two villas, duplex Jacuzzi suites, and a spa). But if you want a sneak peek before the rooms debut in May, book Suite 321, designed by Studio Harcourt with photos from Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête (hpmc321. com; through January 21; from €3,450 per night). Or channel Princess Grace at Hôtel Hermitage, where you can stay in a sea-view Jacuzzi suite and sip her namesake champagneand-rose-petal cocktail (hermitage​; doubles from €467).



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Up to the Borderline Behind the wheel of the new Lexus Nx, Joe CummiNgs cruises the remote lands of western Thailand, where Burmese culture overlaps and there’s a divine power for every believer. PhotograPhed by Nate CLark

clockwise from left: The

Lexus NX 300h F Sport is built for comfort at all speeds; Three Pagodas Pass is a symbol of friendship between Myanmar and Thailand; insider’s tip: skirt the tourists and approach the iconic River Kwai Bridge from the west.

Sailing weSt down the two-lane blacktop, i peer

sideways through my polished windows. Rolling green hills unfold endlessly, like a scene from a Terrence Malick film. With virtually no other vehicles along Highway 323, the contrast with Bangkok couldn’t be more striking. Two hours before, photographer Nate Clark and I had been inching along congested streets. Comfort wasn’t the issue—the luxurious hand-sewn leather seats are thrones for kings of the road—so much as anticipation. We’re off to Sangkhlaburi, a lush region on a remote stretch of the Myanmar border, full of diverse ethnic groups and rich history. It’s been a few years since my last visit, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing what’s changed, and

what hasn’t. I’ve also been excited to make the journey behind the wheel of one of Lexus’s first entries into the compact crossover segment. Out on the open road, the sleek Lexus NX 300h F Sport comes alive. It doesn’t hurt my Le Mans dreams that even the aluminum pedals look like they come from an F1 racer. our firSt official Stop is the iconic River Kwai Bridge in

Kanchanaburi’s provincial capital. The imposing iron-and-wood span was engineered by Japanese troops during World War II, and built using POW- and conscript-labor as part of a railway line from Ban Pong, Thailand, to Thanbyuzayat, Burma. Historians call it the Death Railway because so many workers—as many as

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top row, from left: The Hindu god Ganesha is one of three dieties worshipped at Crocodile Mountain Monastery; ultra-modern X2 River Kwai resort; intricate Mon Bridge, spanning the Sangkhlaburi River, is the second-longest wooden bridge in the world.

200,000—died. The bridge over the Khwae River, by far the longest, was known to the Japanese simply as Bridge 277. Today the eastern end of the bridge, closest to town, is a tourist trap thronged with selfie sticks. We drive downriver to a road bridge, cross and approach the monument from the west. This is more like it. With a bit of the bridge to ourselves, we can better sense the gravity of history. Plus, our selfies are way better without strangers in the background. We stop for lunch at X2 River Kwai, an ultra-contemporary boutique resort a few kilometers south. A table beneath a huge old tamarind tree, with the river nearby, makes a perfect break spot after the drive from Bangkok. Pad thai with fresh river prawns goes down well, and soon we’re cruising again. We’re on HigHWay 323, unequivocally one of the most

beautiful roads in Thailand. Craggy hills and raw limestone cliffs pop up on either side, part of the Tanintharyi Mountain Range dividing Myanmar and Thailand. The NX’s engine makes even more of an impression here, and we pass 10-wheelers and pick-up trucks with minimal effort. The surging vroom is reassuring; I’m feeling especially pumped taking tight, mountainous curves.

Now we’re skirting the edges of Sai Yok National Park. A giant blue elephant-headed statue appears on a hillside. The lofty figure is Ganesha, son of Shiva the Hindu destroyer god, and he is one of several characters worshipped at Wat Khao Khe, Crocodile Mountain Monastery, founded near a cave that a half-human, halfcrocodile hermit used as a meditation spot long ago. We come upon a shrine occupied by a figure resembling a Buddha, but with the head of a crocodile. Locals believe that prayers and offerings made at the shrine will bring them wealth and prosperity. Resident monks and local devotees later added the huge statue of Ganesha, thought to be a remover of life obstacles. As we wander by, a small group of Indian visitors is praying at the shrine. To cover everyone’s spiritual bases, Wat Khao Khe also harbors a statue of Kuan Yin, the Chinese goddess of compassion. Blessed by all three deities, we head to the tight river valley of Thong Pha Phum. We check into the new Thongphaphum Place, then find a local outdoor eatery and dine well on pla sawng jai (‘two-hearted fish’—flanked by sweet-and-sour and chili sauces). nate rises early tHe next morning to follow local monks

on their daily alms round, while I explore the colorful morning market. We drive out of the valley town and stop at a vintage

bottom row, from far left:

A close-up glimpse at local life; inside vintage monastery Wat Huay Pak Khok; craggy ranges tower above Highway 323.

monastery. Built with stacked rooflines in classic Mon style, the structure is painted bright blue and raised on stilts. Inside, the faded walls are covered with old photos and manual clocks, giving the impression we’ve traveled back in time. The betelchewing, old abbot tells me how Mon immigrants from Dawei, on the Mergui Peninsula, founded Wat Huay Pak Khok 80 years ago. The mountain scenery opens up to vistas of Vajiralongkorn Reservoir, a rippling, sea-like expanse of water. The reservoir pops in and out of view all the way to Sangkhlaburi, where we head for Mon Bridge. The tall, rickety 850-meter span of handhewn timbers joins Sangkhlaburi with the small, densely populated Mon village of Wangka across the lake. It is the longest such bridge in Thailand, and the second longest wooden bridge in the world after Burma’s 1.2-kilometer U Bein Bridge. After stocking up on photos of the impossibly intricate layers of rough logs and slats, we retreat to a rustic eatery for steaming khanawm tait ga, rice noodles with fish and chicken curries. Next on the agenda is Three Pagodas Pass, the ancient doorway through the Tanintharyi Mountains between Siam and Burma. The three small, whitewashed stupas were built as a peace gesture between the two warring kingdoms following the Burmese invasion of Thailand in the 18th century. Now, a simple

border crossing serves trade between local neighbors. You can buy Burmese handicrafts on this side at the nearby market. On our last day, we take a longboat-tour of the lake, to view spooky temple ruins semi-submerged after Vajiralongkorn Dam was built and the valley was flooded. We’re lucky that rain so far this year has been scant enough to leave the temples partially exposed; in another month they won’t be visible at all. We spend the night at Samprasob Resort, where the infinityedge pool commands stellar views of Mon Bridge and Wangka. The following day we drive back to Bangkok in one shot, to the tunes of my Bluetooth-synched phone’s playlist. A technology called Clari-Fi, which rebuilds sound lost in MP3 compression, means the sound comes damn close to vinyl in its silky warmth. Cirrus clouds spar with the sun to provide nonstop visuals— even more impressive when I peel back the vast moon roof. I’m amazed how interior sound levels are virtually unaffected by wind drag. Sailing home, five hours on the road passes as if nothing. I look to the skies, thank the deity trifecta and turn up the volume.

X2 River Kwai:; Thongphaphung Palace: +66-34599544; Samprasob Resort:

indi a | th ail and | hong kong + more

the state of Madhya Pradesh, in the heart of Indian tiger country, it was difficult to reconcile the tranquil scenes flashing past my window with nonstop reports about the animal’s slide toward extinction. Tigers, it seemed, were the topic of the moment. As I set off from New Delhi on a six-day safari, global specialists were converging to discuss how many of the world’s largest felines are left, and how best to save them. With so many vested interests resting on the creature’s survival (it’s estimated that just six of India’s tiger reserves are worth US$1.2 billion to the Indian economy) it’s hard to know whose version of reality to believe. >>

Driving through

c o u r t e s y o f S a m o d e S a fa r i L o d g e


On the Tiger Trail A safari vehicle in Kanha National Park, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which is known for its frequent tiger sightings.

Once facing a grim future, Indian wildlife tourism is beginning to show glimmers of hope—thanks to enlightened lawmaking, a few committed individuals and some truly wonderful lodges. Lisa Grainger reports.

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On the one hand, the World Wildlife Fund and Global Tiger Forum claim the worldwide population has risen by 22 percent since 2010, to 3,890. On the other, in spite of investment of about US$500 million since the start of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi’s Project Tiger in 1973— when nine tiger reserves were created and dozens of camps built— global tiger populations have plummeted. Since 1993, numbers worldwide have halved, and in the past 80 years, three of the nine subspecies have become extinct from habitats including Indonesia and Central Asia. In India, where two-thirds—or about 2,200—of the world’s tigers live, in and around 49 reserves, there is grounds for cautious optimism, with one study recording an increase of 30 percent in numbers between 2010 and 2014. Having been on five tiger safaris in India in the past decade, I wanted to see if there was any perceptible improvement in terms of the numbers that were visible and the protection they were being given.

Along the road from Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur Airport to Bandhavgarh National Park, where more than 60 cats roam through 45,000 hectares of forest, it was clear the species is a big part of local identity. I noticed their image everywhere: on a packet of cookies bought at a stall, sculpted on an arch, painted on a village temple. I was also informed of a discouraging report stating that 19 tiger deaths had been recorded in Madhya Pradesh in the first half of 2016 (almost half of all Indian tiger deaths in that period). As I’ve learned over the years, there’s nothing straightforward about conservation in India, and with so much conflicting information in my head, I was relieved to arrive at Samode Safari Lodge, on Bandhavgarh National Park’s periphery. Built by descendants of the royal family of Samode, the camp’s colonial-style interiors are reminiscent of an African safari camp, with whirring bamboo fans and elegant teaplanter’s chairs. My room was designed in the style of local

Tigers reclining in Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh.


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farmhouses: roughly rendered in mud and decorated with naïve, nature-inspired bas-reliefs and murals. Outside, there was a tub for starlit baths and, on lamplit communal patios, trays laid with spicy fried okra, flame-grilled prawns, and fresh coal-baked roti. There wasn’t much time to sit around feasting, though. Bandhavgarh park authorities allow visitors to take three- and four-hour safaris twice a day, starting around 5:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. While that does leave a little time for a midday massage or a swim, I spent most of my days in a safari jeep in the company of my guide, Anshuman Shah. He warned me right at the start of our first drive that not every guest sees a tiger. “Most people staying three nights should see one,” he said as we made our way to the park gates. “A group from Canada recently saw eleven in four days. It’s a question of luck: being in the right place at the right time.” A decade ago, Bandhavgarh’s roads used to be clogged with cars full of colorfully clad passengers who would spill out, often yelling into their cell phones. Today, only a limited number of registered 4 x 4s are allowed into each zone, radios and phones are banned, and a park guide has to accompany every vehicle. The experience is far more peaceful and organized—not dissimilar to a safari in a popular park in Africa—even if visitors all still want the same thing: “Just tiger, tiger, tiger,” as Ramkripal Ram, our park guide, put it. But cat sightings that day weren’t good. After spending four hours in the morning and three that evening listening, watching and tracking, we returned, slightly dispirited, to camp. The next day, I was assured, we would have more time, since the hotel had secured one of only five 12-hour, US$750 permits issued every day: a popular move by Bandhavgarh’s authorities. “You will see a tiger before you leave, I am sure,” Shah told me.

s o m e n d r a s i n g h / c o u r t e s y o f S a m o d e S a fa r i L o d g e

/ beyond /a d v e n t u r e

In fact, I saw not just one magnificent cat on my full-day safari, but two. When, mid-morning, we ascended a hill to find a male cub lying languidly on a shaded sandstone rock, I was so thrilled my eyes welled up. Banbayi, a handsome 18-month-old, is seen regularly in this area, Shah said. From his supine position, the cub looked up at us as we examined him through binoculars, trying to memorize every detail: the long white whiskers; the striped tail that flicked every now and then to dislodge a fly; the muscles that rippled beneath his taut, light-orange hide as he slowly padded off into the long grass to the accompaniment of hooting langurs. Our second sighting evoked a different emotion. After lunch, we spotted an eight-year-old tigress, Pattya, slinking into a bamboo thicket to rest. We decided to sit and wait for her to reemerge and by the time she padded out, two hours later, another 18 safari vehicles had lined up beside us, as well as two opentopped buses of schoolchildren. Thanks to the presence of park officials, the crowd was remarkably quiet. Nonetheless, the scene was more zoo than safari, and the striped star of the show was clearly aware of her audience. After performing a quick turn—drinking delicately from a water hole, rolling like a kitten in the sand—she took a final look at the crowd and vanished. And with the evening performance over, the cat paparazzi dispersed in clouds of dust, leaving us to make our way back to camp, as the red ball of the sun sank below the tree line. that, were the tiger a less beautiful creature, its future might be more secure. But the glorious Shere Khan archetype of The Jungle Book is in the unenviable position of being not only the beast that most tourists want to photograph, but the one poachers most want to capture for use in Chinese medicine. It is wanted both dead and alive.

c o u r t e s y o f S a m o d e S a fa r i L o d g e ( 2 )

It’s a sad truth

Samode Safari Lodge, Bandhavgarh National Park.

Daybeds at Samode Safari Lodge.

When, mid-morning, we found a male cub lying on a sandstone rock, I was so thrilled my eyes welled up The fact that there are any still in existence is in part thanks to Project Tiger, and in part thanks to a handful of enlightened state leaders, said hotelier Jaisal Singh. Singh, a cofounder of Suján Luxury, a chain of high-end Indian camps and hotels, spent much of his life studying tigers with his uncle, the well-known conservationist Valmik Thapar. He told me that in states such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan, chief ministers have implemented conservation policies. These have included programs to turn poachers into gamekeepers, the launch of responsible-tourism organizations that link public and private companies (a project of privately run nature reserves is under way in Maharashtra), and schemes to compensate villagers if they or their livestock are harmed by a tiger. What they are up against, though, is an exploding human population that encroaches on forests, creating man-animal conflicts. “India has one and a quarter billion people, with goodness knows how many cows and goats that need land to feed

on,” Singh said. Another problem is that forests are run by individual states—whose local bureaucrats make their own rules. The central government spent US$57 million on the issue in 2015 but, according to Singh, “no matter how much money is pumped into tiger conservation, it gets sucked up by bureaucracy. Until you have a national strategy, nothing will happen.” Most conservationists agree that, under current prime minister Narendra Modi, there is little sign of positive change at a national level. Last year, Modi’s government not only cut funding for the environment by 25 percent, and support for tiger protection by 15 percent, but fast-tracked projects that could have disastrous environmental consequences. These include a river diversion that will submerge nearly a third of the Panna Tiger Reserve and the expansion of a country road along the Pench Tiger Reserve into a four-lane highway. And despite signing an international agreement promising to protect tigers and their dwindling

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/ beyond /a d v e n t u r e environment, the country loses an average of 135 hectares of forest a day, which partially explains why the creatures now occupy just 7 percent of their original habitat. As Julian Matthews from Travel Operators for Tigers explains: “Now less than two percent of India is protected, far less than is needed for the tiger’s ecological security. Forests are being decimated for pasture and charcoal. So tigers are forced to live off cattle, which worsens man-animal conflict.” southwest of Bandhavgarh is Madhya Pradesh’s largest reserve, Kanha, one of the rare parks that’s regularly praised for its environmental policies as well as its frequent tiger sightings. The buffer zone surrounding this 94,000-hectare wilderness is where my next host, tiger conservationist

A five-hour drive

Not only is the tiger the beast tourists want to photograph, it’s also the one poachers want to capture Belinda Wright, spends much of her time. Kipling Camp, set up by her parents in 1982, is neither smart nor sophisticated. But then, it was never meant to be. When Anne and Bob Wright first built a house here, it was to escape the social whirl of Kolkata’s Tollygunge Club, which Bob managed. As more friends came to stay they constructed more guest cottages, and the property soon became one of India’s very first wildlife camps. Today the rustic, 15-bedroom homestead is the favored haunt of conservationists, bohemian

aristocrats and film stars looking to experience nature in an unspoiled, unfussy setting (Orlando Bloom recently spent Christmas there). The Wrights are hugely respected in India for their good work in conservation: Anne was a founding trustee of Indira Gandhi’s Tiger Task Force; Belinda, a photographer and documentary maker, also founded the Wildlife Protection Society of India. Belinda has devoted much of her life to saving the tiger, and being personally guided by her was a little like an entertaining excursion with a

character from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Having lived in the area since she was a teenager, she knows every turn of the road, every tree. Entering the park 15 minutes after everyone else (“So much nicer once the dust has settled”), she regaled us with stories of camping in rural India, while pointing out species like an Indian paradise flycatcher and a rare barasingh deer, now making a comeback in the park. We even spotted a tigress and her cub slipping through long grass. Best of all, late one afternoon, Belinda walked me to the river with Tara, the rescue elephant she houses, and I spent an hour scrubbing her bristly hide as she contentedly wallowed and spurted water. Seeing all these creatures together, I decided, is the real point of coming on a tiger safari. Because it is only when we understand how

everything coexists in the tiger’s great ecological jigsaw puzzle—from the animals they rely on for survival to the men who prey on them—and return home to put pressure on governments and conservation groups, that there will be, as Belinda put it, “a ray of light at the end of the tunnel for this glorious animal.” And there is some hope. Five years ago, I went on a tiger safari and came away totally disheartened, having seen not a single big cat, and been surrounded by noisy, disorganized cars. This time I saw four tigers, in parks that were clearly better managed, and stayed in camps run by impressively committed individuals. Seeing my first cat this time moved me deeply. Not only because of its extraordinary beauty, but because its future really is uncertain. If seeing one is on your bucket list, put it near the top.

the details GETTING THERE Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur Airport is a 90-minute flight from New Delhi. Then it’s a four-hour drive south to Kanha National Park or northeast to Bandhavgarh National Park. VISAS Apply online for an e-Tourist Visa ( before traveling. LODGES Kipling Camp Elephants abound.; doubles from US$328. Samode Safari Lodge One of the region’s most polished camps.; doubles from US$1,002. Banjaar Tola at Kanha National Park Inventive cuisine and elegant tents.; doubles from US$650. TOUR OPER ATOR Butterfield & Robinson Customized all-inclusive itineraries.; 10-day trips from US$10,000 per person.

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Curry noodles at Osha Café. from top right: Chef Varos at Issaya; shopping for produce with chef Somsak of Blue Elephant.

The True Thai

We sent a pair of hungry locals to find out which cooking school in Bangkok teaches the most authentic Thai cuisine. The answer, it turns out, is in the tastebuds of the eater. By Monsicha Hoonsuwan. Photogr aphed by Autchar a Panphai


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and technology. It is possible to pan-fry instead of char-grill a chicken, for example, and still come up with delicious gai yang. Here, other Bangkok kitchen confidential lessons we learned on the line.

Style: Ancient School: BLUE ELEPHANT Blue Elephant’s army of good-humored staff is a source of support—making sure we don’t feel too inadequate pounding curry paste at the speed of weaklings—and enlightenment: we learn that until a few generations ago coconut was eaten only by royals and southerners because the cost of transporting it north was too great. But it’s a 200-year-old royal poem that provides the true inspiration here. We cook saeng wa koong pla dook foo, or “prawn pretending,” from “Verse of Foods and Desserts” by King Rama II, who wrote that this “fish-stomach pretender is like words, tricky.” So tricky, in fact, that we had never conceived of eating, let alone making, this deceiving dish. Seemingly simple yet requiring so much care and precision, the crispy catfish with prawn salad calls for deboned catfish pestle-pounded into the consistency of liquid, because, says head

t o p r i g h t: va r i n k o n g m e n g

“When you say ‘authentic Thai food,’ which era of authenticity are you referring to?” asks chef Somsak Kaew-un from Blue Elephant Cooking School, as he leads us through Bangkok’s multiethnic Bangrak Market. You might not think a local would need a guided tour of a wet market, but my foodie colleague Aum and I have found it illuminating: we’ve learned how to pick shredded coconut for curries (make sure a bit of coconut shell is still attached) and determine the spiciness of a curry paste (not by the color, but by its region of origin, with southern pastes being the spiciest). Still, as natives of Bangkok, we are taking this class as much to learn more about our own heritage as to pick up culinary skills. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten an official seminar on what genuine Thai cuisine actually is, but Somsak says I’m being too rigid. “Food is always changing,” he says, “and it’s best to just cook in a way that expresses who you really are.” With this advice in mind, Aum and I get our hands dirty at three of Bangkok’s best cooking schools. Each has its own style, but all attempt to show what Thai food was, is, and can become with modern creativity

t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f i s s aya . B o t t o m M i d d l e : va r i n k o n g m e n g

clockwise from top left: Freshly baked pastries from Issaya; class at Osha Café; chef Chalermpol pestle pounds deboned catfish for saeng wa koong pla dook foo at Blue Elephant; a rainbow of Thai spices at Blue Elephant; stirring the pot at Osha Café .

chef Chalermpol Chentrakulrod, “it’s too coarse with a blender.” But all that work is worth it: once the liquescent fish is flash-fried to a fluffy texture akin to cotton candy, the tasty crunch is the perfect bedfellow for the sweet-sour prawn salad, cutting the spice with its crispy refrain. We venture further into the unknown, preparing sides we’d never realized existed like mah auan, steamed fatty pork and crab meat, and bombai curry, a relative of massaman with slightly more cumin and tamarind-tang. Three hours here feels like thirty minutes in the gym; we go home with sore arms from pounding, legs from standing, and stomachs from laughing. Our palates, however, are ecstatic at tasting so much unfamiliar Thai food. “Every dish was the perfect combination of all the flavors,” Aum says.; full-day Ancient Thai Cuisine Cooking Course Bt17,655 per person.

Style: Homey School: COOKING CHRONICLE AT OSHA CAFE While California-import Osha has made a name for itself as a Thai-molecular hot spot, its owners are taking a completely different tack with this spacious glassed-in classroom. Newly launched inside Osha Café at Asiatique, Cooking Chronicle is a welcoming space to learn household recipes sprinkled with intriguing anthropological anecdotes in an atmosphere that Aum observes feels more like a dinner party with pals than a demonstration. The pedigree is stellar, with David Thompson’s

teacher, maestro Kobkaew Najpinij, as one of the founders, and classes taught by Kobkaew’s daughter, Niphatchanok Najpinij, an expert in Thai gastronomy and Thapakorn Lertviriyavit, the former commis chef at Nahm. We swallow our Thai pride from the get-go, learning from Niphatchanok that mee kati, or curry noodles, were but “one of the noodles assimilated to Thai cuisine” from Chinese. While the version we create here is coated in turmeric—“helps you digest on those stuffy days when your stomach slows down,” she says—back in the day, it was a pink-noodle dish made with fermented tofu, to which our centraldwelling compatriots added coconut milk. In fact, it’s coconut milk that plays the key part in all the dishes we’re making, but it takes distinct roles in each. For mee kati, we must keep stirring to prevent the oil from separating from the milk, but we don’t do the same for the red curry, because we actually want a small amount of oil to separate. Tom kha gai is meant to be a gut-warming soup so we add coconut milk last to prevent it from being too creamy. Still, these chefs continually remind us that “perfection” is at our discretion, and though they’ve apportioned us ideal measurements, we should add ingredients to taste. The great lesson? Achieving Thai flavor requires just three elements: coconut palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. It sounds so obvious after they tell us. All Aum and I can do is swallow our Thai pride yet again.; three-hour Ezy class Bt2,800 per person.

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FINE SWISS HOSPITALITY, NYONYA GENIALITY A brand new experience in a contemporary urban resort, accentuated by the confluence of cultures celebrated for excellence in the art of hosting.



One doesn’t come to Ian Kittichai’s cooking school to simply make gai yang; one comes seeking ways to elevate gai yang to mesospheric heights, the way chef Ian does with his juicy Volcanic-Grilled Chicken at Issaya Siamese Club. Nervously we enter the gleaming kitchen worthy of a Food Network show, unsure of how we will manage four recipes in three hours. But our instructor Varos Srisakulkaew has a plan. His is a session of preparedness: all ingredients preweighed and measured, illustrated instructions printed out and equipment neatly set at each station. We get to work like a bunch of MasterChef contestants trying to make the most of their allotted time. Varos throws our baby back ribs into a pot to slow-cook, moves on to marinate soon-to-be grilled chicken with turmeric sauce, then teaches us the steps to constructing the prettiest tower of larb (minced pork salad) I’ve ever seen. We attempt the same with acceptable results, before revisiting the marinated chicken, this time to give it the faux-charred skin of a grilled bird. “It’s a bit dangerous, so let me do it for you,” Varos says, dumping our chickens into a pan and sending splatters of hot oil flying in all directions. They might not let us near the hot oil, but we are allowed to play with a kitchen torch. Excitement ensues. We proceed to engulfing our glazed ribs in flame, taking pleasure in the scent of caramelized sugar and red curry sauce. At the end of the whirlwind, we feel like pros. Ian’s creations show us that Thai food is more than just coconut milk and chili paste; it’s capturing that balanced blend of local herbs, spices and flavors that make his dishes taste authentic to a Thai palate, no matter how foreign they may appear.; three-hour Issaya Recipes class Bt2,000 per person.

Pastry Passion A sweet new cookbook from Ian Kittichai challenges Thai-treat lovers to French-style kitchen training. I can’t tell a clafouti from a flognarde, but poring over 200 pages of mouthwatering photographs and 56 recipes by Ian and his assistant pastry chef Arisara “Paper” Chongphanitkul made Aum and me bust out our chef’s hats for a baking session within the comfort of my own kitchen. The new Issaya La Pâtisserie Pastry Cookbook is a fusion between the art of French pastry and smooth, tropical Thai desserts. Take, for example, Issaya khaoniew mamuang: Ian and Paper have transformed mango sticky rice into a four-layered treat eaten pudding-style. While the instructions are three pages long, the process

is straightforward—or, I should say processes, because first you have to make coconut panna cotta, sour-sweet mango gelée, khao niew moon (coconut sticky rice), and pandangreen salty crumble. While kneading a batch of dough for my krob-kem puff, I thought how helpful it would be to have experience in pastry making. That is, if you want to emerge from the kitchen with a jar of crisp, peppery krob-kem that smells of coriander seed and butter, not weird glazed pebbles that make you wish you’d started instead with the mysterious clafouti—or is it flognarde?; Bt1,250.

va r i n k o n g m e n g


Style: Contemporary School: ISSAYA COOKING STUDIO

SPONSORED SERIES Lacalita bar and restaurant is emblematic of Bali's coolest ’hood these days, Canggu.

Morning rituals at un-touristy Pura Dalem Hyang Soka Temple, in Blung Bang Village.

Sunset over Seminyak brings an explosion of eggplants and lavenders, and the pool bar at Potato Head Beach Club provides a front-row seat.

It's best to get up early to catch the swells and beat the crowds at epic Uluwatu.

Craftsmen in Sebang keep up the millennium-old customs of Balinese woodcarving.

Pocket-Size Bali


The new Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II packages the perks of a DSLR with the convenience of a smartphone, so you can shoot all kinds of light—and life. Bali may be a tropical paradise, but with so many regions and things to see, it’s also go-town. We sent international travel photographer Ken Kochey around the island with the new 20.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II premium conpact camera. The result is this stunning chronicle of a lovely day. But you don’t have to be a pro to get wow shots. The 4.2x optical zoom lens allows you to zoom from as wide as 24mm and as far as 100mm. The DIGIC 7 image processor is built for enhanced image stabilisation, generating sharp and better quality images. The 180-degree tiltable LCD touchscreen tilts up 180 degrees and down 45 degrees, letting you experience a range of shooting perspectives. Wi-fi and NFC connectivity get you online. “The PowerShot G7 X is small enough to keep with you, but substantial enough to know you are holding a nice piece of equipment,” Kochey says. “The camera handled every lighting situation very well and I was impressed with the quality and the color rendition. It is a quality camera in a small package.”

Ubud's iconic Ceking Tegalalang is the crossroads of traditional beauty and engineering.

/ beyond /s p o tl i g h t

The Entrepreneur, Shanghai Bunny Yan, founder of The Squirrelz, a startup that connects designers creating new products out of fashion waste.

It’s not easy being green, but these three ecoinnovators across Asia are reshaping their industries one upcycled garment or zerowaste restaurant at a time. Diana Hubbell talks to the visionaries about building a brighter, more sustainable future.

from top, curated by The squirrelz: Plaid “trashion” by

Brutcake; recycled fish-feed bags and rice-bag clutches by Somos Design.


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What normally happens to fashion waste and why is there so much of it? A very interesting problem is that brands do not usually own their own factories. So when a factory makes a mistake or there’s overstock, it’s not the brand’s problem. In manufacturing, you always have excess materials and defective products. A defect could be something very minor, like a button that’s not quite the right color, but it might still be

burned. I want preconsumption materials and mistakes that manufacturers can’t use. Describe some of the coolest designers working for you. We have one who is making clutches out of misprinted packaging from candy wrappers, another making bags made from recycled wine corks, and one that’s making furniture and décor out of vintage cookie tins. Recently, I met someone who’s making backpacks out of used denim. She’ll transform them for you, a cool way to give your favorite pair of jeans a new life. What’s your hope for the future? For The Squirrelz, we’re developing an app to help designers reduce waste while creating more stuff. I want to see if, in five years, we can prevent one percent of all industrial waste from ending up in landfills. To me, that would be amazing. >>

c o u r t e s y o f T h e S q u i rr e l z ( 3 )

On Fertile Ground

What gave you the idea for this project? I launched The Squirrelz because I saw so many designers that were already using upcycling methods to create awesome, fashionable products. Not only are these products colorful, but they also have high potential to be massproduced, because a lot of that overstock is repetitive. If you make jewelry out of watches, you’ll continue to find broken watch parts.

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The Designer, Bangkok Dr. Singh Intrachooto works with Osisu and Upcycle Carbon Footprint, two brands dedicated to creating products from waste materials.

Describe your work with Osisu and Upcycle Carbon Footprint. Osisu upcycles all sorts of materials from construction sites, manufacturing facilities and waste dumps. We’ve been using these materials to produce furniture, home decorations and fashion accessories for a decade. In 2015, we helped set up an eco-label innovation called Upcycle Carbon Footprint , which aims at certifying products made from discarded materials with highquality design and a low carbon footprint. Give us an example of how you used a specific waste product. In 2011, Starbucks Thailand wanted to build its shops in a more sustainable way. The company was already giving coffee-ground waste away for free for people to use as fertilizer, but I thought


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we could do more. The Javacore material we made from coffee grounds has been upcycled into mosaics, tiles and solid surfaces with the help of Sonite Innovative Surfaces Company. Now, we produce coasters and trays from this material too. Hopefully, someday Javacore will be used in all Starbucks globally, not just in Asia. What sustainabilityoriented projects are you working on now? My colleagues and I are developing new construction materials from oil palm fiber, since the industry produces millions of tonnes of waste annually. We also use oil palm fiber in a new melamine compound and turn it into tableware. At the moment, I’m also working with Architectkidd on an organic farm project, which will set a whole new standard in Thailand.

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f o s i s u ( 3 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f m a n a ( 2 )

from top: An upcycled shelving unit by Osisu; a new bag by Osisu, made of recycled paper; eating al fresco at Mana! Fast Slow Food; a canvas bag printed with the Mana! slogan. opposite: A Mana! salad box.

The Restaurateur, Hong Kong Bobsy Gaia, founder of Mana! Fast Slow Food, a citywide chain of zero-waste vegetarian restaurants and cafĂŠs..

courtesy of mana (2)

What inspired you to launch Mana! Fast Slow Food? The seeds of Mana! Fast Slow Food began 23 years ago when I realized the impact of eating meat on the environment and became a vegetarian. Did you know that to make one hamburger, we waste enough water to shower for two months? I felt that what Hong Kong really needed was a healthy, vegetarian eatery where the food was affordable as well as convenient for people on the go. Describe some of the sustainability measures that set your restaurants apart. From the beginning, we decided that we would aim for zero food waste. We collect the kitchen scraps and customer leftovers and save them to be composted in organic community farms here in Hong Kong. Currently, our three outlets save 2.5 tonnes of food waste per

month. Just imagine how much we could save from landfills if all 15,000-plus restaurants in Hong Kong did the same. We also source eco-friendly food packaging, using plant-based plastics for straws and cups, which decompose into soil after 12 weeks. What’s next? We hope to open more outlets around the city, promoting healthy and plant-based eating in a zero-waste format. We want to encourage other restaurants to consider the impact on the environment when thinking about the sustainability of their business models. When the environment wins, we win.


Escape to the peace and tranquility of Kamandalu Ubud, a 5-star boutique resort situated amid lush paddyfields in the green hills of Ubud. From your very own Balinese-inspired villa, step out to enjoy the warm hospitality of our staff and explore the natural surroundings that lie just beyond.

Jalan Andong Banjar Nagi Ubud, Bali 80571 Indonesia T +62 361 975 825

Straight to the

TAPANEE PHONGMAYKIN JW MARRIOTT BANGKOK Service from the heart might be more important to wedding planning than any other hotel department. Wedding Sales Manager Tapanee Phonmaykin devotes meticulous attention to wedding traditions, style, cuisine and make-up. This is a woman who has invited a weeping bride-to-be to her home in the middle of the night to perfect a wedding video. She’s inspired by the support she receives from the hotel, and has benefitted from hands-on learning at workshops with leading wedding planners and industry experts, and through in-house training on cultural awareness and etiquette. “I always remind my team to treat clients as if they are friends or family,” she says. She’s successfully refereed countless brides and mothers-in-law—and what could be more family than that?

Heart of Luxury



MAHIMA SHARMA JW MARRIOTT MUMBAI SAHAR As Director of Spa by JW, Mahima Sharma knows the importance of nurturing. The unique facilities at the only 24-hour spa in the vicinity of Mumbai’s international airport include Express treatment pods, ideal for busy travelers who have limited time to unwind. Gestures like stocking the staff room with healthy snacks, sending handwritten notes of appreciation, and supporting their professional growth are ways Sharma looks after her team. She is proud of one associate who has risen from trainee to top-requested therapist to Spa Executive in a few years, via her passion for healing. Every few months, all therapists receive in-house spa treatments—both to relax them and provide insight to the client experience. If perfect pampering comes from pampered pamperers, it’s little wonder Spa by JW is ranked No. 1 in Mumbai on TripAdvisor.


H o l i d ay Gifts

Wrapped in Style

It is that time of year again—the season to spoil your loved ones, and we’re streamlining your shopping list with our top picks for travel-friendly clothing and accessories. This Santa-approved collection of loungeware, sumptuous suitcases, slip-on shoes, work-horse gadgets and the allimportant packable extra bag is sure to make your favorite jet-setters smile. Plus, designer Disaya Sorakraikitikul

p h o t o g r a p h e r : C h a n o k T h a mm a r a k k i t. h a i r a n d m a k e u p : B a n d i t B o o n m e e . p h o t o g r a p h e d at A - L i s t C o r p o r at e L i m i t e d

spends an afternoon in Bangkok showing us her style-forward presents for the high-fashion flyer.

Thai fashion designer Disaya Sorakraikitikul in Bangkok. “A Rimowa suitcase is a very practical gift for travelers,” Disaya says. “I bring mine everywhere.” Rimowa Pilot 34.0L $1,023,

* Prices throughout are listed in U.S. dollars and may vary by region and retailer. Any prices not listed are by request of the manufacturer.

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New this season: Valentino Garvaani Rockstud spike bag $3,195,

Foot Fetish Fierce footwear is in order to stand up to an eye-catching print dress like this one. “I love my Jimmy Choo sandals,” she says. “They are a great gift for those who aren’t afraid of the spotlight.”

Perfect Purse A funky accessory can make even the most casual outfit pop. “This Valentino bag [right] is a special edition,” she says. “The detailing adds a playful touch that makes it stand out.” Ideal for fashionistas who dare to be different.


New this season: Jimmy Choo Trick 110 buckled sandals $1,115, jimmychoo. com.

Bangkok weekend

Sequin Stunner

Print Passion

“I love the whole process of conceiving and making products,” she says, including creating fabrics for showstopping dresses like this one from her latest collection. The designer rocked this look while out for deconstructed carbonara at Flat Marble ( Flatmarble) in Ari. “For me, this season was all about lush, textured prints inspired by the unfinished sketches of William Morris.” Disaya Earthly Jungle Treasures dress $400,


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Though Disaya keeps it cool and casual on the road, she loves to glam it up in the evening, especially when out for craft cocktails at U.N.C.L.E ( in buzzy Thonglor. For the night owl on your gift list, she recommends pieces with plenty of sparkle and shine, like these bombshell handembroidered Chloé pants. Chloé metal sequin pants $3,080,

p h o t o g r a p h e d at: F l at m e r b l e , b o t t o m l e f t; U . N . C . L . E . @7 2 C o u r t ya r d , b o t t o m r i g h t

“I love dressing up every single day, even just for myself,” says Disaya Sorakraikitikul, the Bangkok-based designer whose eponymous label helped put Thailand on the fashion world’s radar more than a decade ago. We asked the in-demand style maven, who debuted her f lagship Disaya Culture ( boutique just this fall, to show off her top gift ideas on a tour of her favorite hometown spots for maxing and relaxing. By diana hubbell

p h o t o g r a p h e r : g r a n t c o r n e t t. S t y l i s t: j o j o l i . p h o t o g r a p h e d at s m y t h , a t h o m p s o n h o t e l

Balenciaga XL Bazar Shopper $2,525,

market value

Because you know you’re going to shop when you get there, bring a lightweight, foldable extra bag. The latest, most luxurious version is the Balenciaga Bazar tote, part of new artistic director Demna Gvasalia’s first collection for the label. It’s a clever wink at the plastic laundry bags found at f lea markets around the world, except this one’s made of lambskin. It comes with interior pockets, so you’ll never lose your keys—or fumble around for your credit card.  — Stephanie w u

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gifts 2 3

man of the world


1. Appointed notebook $24,

6. Canali dress shir t $510, canali. com.

2. Hermès notebook $35,

7. Paskho pant $185,

3. Bally blazer

8. Tod’s sneakers $625,

4. Burberr y tracksuit jacket $595,

9. Kiehl’s Age Defender Power Serum $50, kiehls. com.

5. Car tier bag $3,850,

p h otog re a phe r : philip fr ie d m a n. sty list: j ill e dwa rd s fo r ha lle y r es o ur ces

Pack smart with a mix of active and casual gear that play nicely together.

5 6

10. Melt scar f $330,






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p h o t o g r a p h e r : C h a n o k T h a mm a r a k k i t. h a i r a n d m a k e u p : B a n d i t B o o n m e e

p h o t o g r a p h e r : g r a n t c o r n e t t. S t y l i s t: j o j o l i . p h o t o g r a p h e d at s m y t h , a t h o m p s o n h o t e l

Sleepy Jones shirtdress $298, sleepy

Vionnet pajama top $1,260, and trouser $1,200,

pajama party Olivia von Halle pajama set $575, olivia

Since its appearance on the Spring 2016 runways of Alexander Wang and Thakoon, the pajama shirt in polished cotton or silk has become a traveler’s MVP. Here’s how to wear the shirt during a New York City weekend: add the matching bottoms for room-service breakfast—the Smyth hotel (; doubles from $259) in TriBeCa does a great one; pair a printed version with strappy heels for dinner at Agern (agernrestaurant. com; tasting menus from $120), Icelandic chef Gunnar Gíslason's new restaurant in Grand Central Terminal; or slip it over a pleated skirt for drinks at cocktail bar Pouring Ribbons (, where the menu celebrates the f lavors and spices of the Silk Road. — S.W.

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Tumi This copper case is finished with a Tumi-exclusive Japanese coating for sheen. 19 Degree Polycarbonate short trip packing case $655,

Wonder Wheels

Your outfits deserve to roll in style, and these trunks are spacious enough to fit your favorite fashions while still looking sleek. by Ashle y Niedringhaus

Samsonite Marbleizing sent waves through the fashion world last fall, and its travel debut is this black-andwhite beauty. Marble Print collection $1,099,

Louis Vuitton This lightweight roller comes in an array of rainbow leathers, three prints, and the brand’s iconic monogram. Rolling suitcase $4,300,


Goyard Gift this vintage-inspired spinner to that friend who is an old-school travel romantic. Monogrammed trunk n o v e mb e r 2 0 1 6   /  t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m

c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f r i m o wa ; c o u r t e s y o f t u m i ; c o u r t e s y o f s a m s o n i t e ; c o u r t e s y o f g o ya r d ; c o u r t e s y o f l o u i s v u i t t o n

Rimowa Embedded with Rimowa’s Electronic Tag, passengers flying select airlines can check-in this luggage at home via smartphone. 3-Suiter Hardshell $895,

All the Trimmings


Even well-worn looks will sing with new life if you add a little bling, be it a killer pair of shades or an on-trend timepiece.


1. Hermés classic silk scar f


2. Louis Vuitton sunglasses 3. A structural cuff, Tiffany&Co. tiffany. com.


c l o c k w i s e fr o m t o p l e f t: c o u r t e s y o f H e rm é s ; c o u r t e s y o f pat e k p h i l i p p e ; c o u r t e s y o f c a n o n ; c o u r t e s y o f a p p l e ; c o u r t e s y o f b e at s b y d r e ; c o u r t e s y o f t o r y b u r c h ; c o u r t e s y o f l o u i s v u i t t o n ; c o u r t e s y o f t i ffa n y& c o

4. Tor y Burch Gemini Link bag $595, 5. Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime men’s watch patek. com.


Touch Points

Whether you are trying to capture the moment or escape it, you’ll be grateful you packed these gadgets.

Beats Wireless On-Ear Headphones $300,

Apple iPhone 7 Plus $769,

Canon camera EOS M5

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Gucci mules $1,600, guicci. com. Valextra shoulder bag $2,210,

Alumnae mules $1,095, alumnae. com. Céline bag $3,600,

Sanayi 313 slippers $1,320, shop.sanayi313. com. Loewe bag $2,850, and mirror fob $380,

let it slide Statement slip-ons are the shoes of the season—add a roomy bag for a travel-optimized look whether you’re in the air or on the town.

Michael Michael Kors slides $135, Bottega Veneta tote $4,300, bottegaveneta. com.


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p hotog re a p he r : Gra n t c o rn e tt. m o d e l : A l i n a D./ n e w yo rk m od e ls d ir ect. ha ir a nd ma k eu p: r eg ina harr is . sty list: j o j o li. photo gr a phe d at smy th, a tho m ps o n h ot el


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Calling all


This is the month to experience world-class culinary from Michelin-starred chefs and famous fine-dining restaurants at the Bangkok Gourmet Festival. It’s a time to enjoy delicious food and learn the art and science of cooking on November 4-6, 2016 at the Royal Paragon Hall. The festival provides a unique opportunity to find a gathering of Thai master chefs and international celebrity chefs with world-class experience and expertise from Asia, Europe and North America, Michelin stars from around the world. The Bangkok Gourmet Festival 2016 is expected to make the city a center of Asia’s fine dining scene with Michelinstar inspired restaurants and leading Thai restaurants. The festival also aims to promote Thai food, which is already known around the world for its delicious flavors, unique style and quality ingredients. At Bangkok Gourmet Festival 2016, food lovers will be treated to a creative “bite-size” culinary tasting experience from more than 40 fine dining restaurants, which are both international haute cuisine and authentic Thai cuisine from the kingdom’s four regions. All participated restaurants are recognized

Alvin Leung

for their great taste and unique approach. Among them are the famous Iron Chef Table, Savelberg, Osha, Ginza Sushi-Ichi, Rossini’s, J’AIME by JeanMichel Lorain, Lenzi, Crostini, Honmono Sushi, Benjarong Thai Cuisine and many more of Thailand’s leading restaurants. Electrolux is the key support of culinary equipment for cooking demonstration activities on stage and at fine dining restaurants and “Kuche” luxury built-in kitchen from SB Design Square also gives full support to the 3-day cooking show. The highlights of Bangkok Gourmet Festival 2016 include tasting the masterpieces of world-famous Michelinstared chef from Hong Kong, Alvin Leung, nicknamed Demon Chef of his own restaurant, Bo Innovation; and Curtis Duffy who will deliver menu from his three Michelin stars restaurant, Grace, in Chicago. Together with numerous renowned chefs like Guillaume Galliot from The Tasting

Room in Macau; Timothy Newtown from Bagatelle Dubai; and master chefs in Thailand like Henk Savelberg from Savelberg; Amerigo Sesti from J’AIME by Jean-Michel Lorain; Boontham Parkpo from Honmono Sushi; Luca Cesarini from Rossini; Purisa Theeraphong and Assistant Professor Kobkaew Najpinij from Osha, will also indulge every gourmet with their exceptional cooking techniques. The Bangkok Gourmet Festival 2016 combines fun, savors, knowledge and culinary art together. Activities on stage are both educating and entertaining such as cooking demonstrations from Michelin-star chefs, talk sessions on food trends from experts, wine tasting and pairing, and showcase of local and international beers. For those who love cooking, drop by at the Gourmet Market Zone where premium and quality products from around the globe are available at special prices. Visitors

Guillaume Galliot Curtis Duffy

Purida Theeraphong Henk Savelberg


can experience and enjoy the privilege from partners such as CP, Citi and others. A special privilege for Citi cardmembers is the “Come 4 pay 3� entrance fee. For more information, please visit: http://www.facebook. com/CitiThailand Fill up your refreshment fine dining water from Acqua Panna & S.Pellegrino. Visitors can also shop kitchenware from True Select and imported produce from Siam food, Jagota and much more. The festival will end with an exclusive gala dinner, with the gourmet dinner menu designed by

Michelin-star chefs, on the night of November 7. The Bangkok Gourmet Festival 2016 will take place at Royal Paragon Hall, 5th floor of Siam Paragon November 4-6, 2016 from 10am to 9pm. The entrance fee is 200 baht (excluded food purchase). For more information of participated restaurants and other activities, please visit

Francesco Lenzi

Amerigo Sesti

Timothy Newton Luca Cesarini

Thanunya Wilkinson






b a c k g r o u n d , a n i m a l , k aya k a n d B e a c h : c o u r t e s y o f fr e e p i k


t r av e l s m a rt e r


Disappearing Footprints Waging the green revolution one community, hotel or jetsetter at a time. By Cain Nunns, With reporting by Veronica Inveen and R achna Sachasinh. Illustr ated by Autchar a Panphai

t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   n o v e mb e r 2 0 1 6


/ upgrade / “Go on a jungle walk—that’s ecotourism. Look at a mountain—that’s ecotourism. Ride

a bicycle—that’s ecotourism,” quips Peter Jensen, a tourism sustainability consultant, on the seemingly unavoidable practice of green washing. This sentiment dovetails unfortunately with a unesco report issued this year that contained a worrying caveat about “the increasing vulnerability of World Heritage sites to climate change impacts and the potential implications for global tourism.” Key takeaway? Climate change is exacerbating problems caused by unplanned tourism development and uncontrolled or poorly managed visitor access, as well as other threats and stresses.


Hotels No man is an island. But coming pretty close to it has proven the most sure-fire way to grow greenly. IT billionaire Larry Ellison bought Lanai, a 36,400-hectare, comma-shaped smidge of Hawaii home to 3,000 people for a reported $300 million in 2012. The goal: an entire community economically driven by high-end inclusive tourism, or, as Ellison put it, “a prosperous and sustainable Eden in the Pacific.” Here, the update on Lanai, and the low-down on a few other properties in the region really making a difference. NEW GREEN STARS

Hawaii | Lanai by Four Seasons

With an aim to “rebuild the community so that we are good stewards of the land,” says Kepa Maly, of Pulama Lanai, which manages Ellison’s investment in the island, the newly relaunched resort has invested in habitat stabilization and is working on restoring forest systems to get rid of invasive species while reintroducing natives. Archaeological and historical sites are being unearthed and preserved. Water treatment facilities and infrastructure have been upgraded; a 3.6-hectare historical fishpond is being restored and plans are underway to

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capture rainwater through screens or nets above the Cook Islands pine trees that stand at attention along the island’s ridges. Designed in conjunction with the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center, an app offers trail guides and insights into native Hawaiian and plantation history on Lanai, including archaeological sites.; from $695 per night.

Singapore | Oasia Hotel

It might not look like it now, but Oasia Hotel Downtown’s bullet-shaped exterior will eventually become a verdant-green 27-story façade of a few dozen species of

*Prices throughout are listed in U.S. dollars.

courtesy of v ector open stock

But what’s a responsible traveler to do? A key poverty-reducing mechanism, tourism provides one out of every 11 jobs in the world, according to the United Nations World Tourism Council. The entire tourism industry generated $7.2 trillion, or 9.8% of global GDP, says the 2016 Tourism Trends & Statistics issued by Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsible Tourism (CREST)—and the pace of sustainable tourism is outpacing the growth in the field as a whole. Naturebased tourism now accounts for a full one-fifth of the travel market. “Tourism impacts much more than the environment. It affects communities, indigenous people and often the poor,” Jensen says. “Consumers, who are increasingly eco-minded, deserve to take much of the opaqueness out of the industry.” Although there is no global governing body, the world’s largest environment conference, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), makes influential recommendations. Held this year in Hawaii, the congress discussed drawing up universal tourism guidelines in conjunction with governments and NGOs. To improve environmental and biodiversity protection standards, a motion was passed urging the expansion of sustainability guidelines to include best practices for the benefit of species, ecosystems, communities and environmental learning. There was also a push for such factors as certification schemes that include qualitative standards and indicators for community engagement, environment, infrastructure and tourist behavior. While not legally binding in its 180-plus member nations, the IUCN does carry some weight and hopefully will influence governmental action. But for now, the real dramatic changes are happening at the ground level. Read on for some of the greenest hotels in our region, and ways you can ensure your travels are as sustainable as possible.

vines and plants that will host birds and other wildlife overlooking Singapore’s steel-and-glass titans of the financial world. That was the hope of noted local architect Wong Mun Summ when he designed the 314-room hotel on a relatively small plot of land. Wong says he believes the property’s vertical gardens will support 10 times more greenery and wildlife than the space would have without the hotel. Eventually, Wong says, the sleek blood-orange metal structure will resemble a “furry” green-and-red bouquet. Organic interiors were drawn up by star Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola.; from $145.

China | Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain

The latest in the line of Six Senses’ oversized luxury tree forts, with private balconies and organic cotton linens, Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain is just down the road from unesco World Heritage & Natural Cultural site Dujiangyan, the irrigation system from the third century. It also packs a pretty hefty sustainable punch. Plastic water bottles are outlawed. It purifies and mineralizes its own drinking water and offers a sleek Tesla electric car for guest services. Tesla charging stations are littered throughout the resort. For produce not available through its organic gardens, Qing Cheng Mountain sources ingredients locally. The resort also partners with feel-good NGO Panda Mountain on education and sustainability programs while running similar outreach initiatives at local schools.; from $212 per night.

d i v e r & c o r a l : c o u r t e s y o f fr e e p i k

French Polynesia | The Brando

Twelve low-lying motus, or reef islands, on Tetiaroa, this ultra flash 35-villa resort built on the once-private island sanctuary of late and legendary actor and activist Marlon Brando takes environmental responsibility to an entirely different place. It’s the first net-power luxury property and supports a number of research and conservation initiatives. Deep pipes planted 900 meters in the cold corners of the ocean below create half of the resort’s energy. Solar panels and an ingenious biofuel thermal power station that runs on coconut oil provide the remainder. Te Mana O Te Moana, a local marine conservation NGO, takes guests out on guided tours and, in-house, the Tetiaroa Society is a think tank conducting marine research by scientists from visiting universities.; from $2,470 per night.


Cambodia | Song Saa

Cambodia doesn’t scream sustainability. But Song Saa, hard against the Gulf of Thailand, is changing that perception, replenishing reefs, kickstarting a new marine reserve and protecting relatively untapped rainforests. From the outset, the hotel hooked up with locals to clean up trash and replant trees. Built largely from driftwood and materials such as old Cambodian fishing boats from close by, Song Saa’s plush 27 pool villas are some of the best in Southeast Asia. Employees come from the surrounding villages, water is recycled, and a foundation has been organized to clean up the Koh Rong.; from $840 per night.

Indonesia | Misool Eco Resort

Like The Brando, Misool Eco Resort in Raja Ampat has gone a giant step beyond what is considered the norm for ecohotels. In the heart of one of the world’s best dive spots and surrounded by the crystalline waters and blindingly white beaches in West Papua Province, Missol was hammered into shape at its own mill with reclaimed hard woods. The resulting luxury shabby-chic villas have open-air bathrooms and handcrafted furniture. Now to the good stuff: Its registered charity has unveiled several impactful programs, including driving the creation of the 44,000-square-kilometer Raja Ampat Shark and Manta Sanctuary, which it patrols through locally employed rangers to fend off shark and turtle poachers; a manta ray identification and tracking initiative; and a reef restoration project. It

trains locals as dive guides, supports libraries in village schools, pays teachers’ wages and built a kindergarten. Not bad for a few years’ work. misoolecoresort. com; from $350 per night.

Sri Lanka | Ulagalla Resort

Once an estate of Anuradhapura nobility, this is today possibly Sri Lanka’s most sustainable retreat—centered around a colonial mansion not far from from Lion Rock, the ancient palace of Sigiriya, and the unesco caves of Dambulla. Its 20 pool villas are spread across 23 hectares of verdant jungle. Power is derived from its own solar farm and a biogas generator that runs off the hotel’s waste. Ulagalla is also LEED certified and draws its own produce from its massive organic farm.; from $269 per night.

Thailand | Soneva Kiri

Set among 600-year-old Banyan trees, perennial eco award-winner Soneva Kiri was built by the husband-and-wife team that started Six Senses. Their oversized pool villas were crafted from sustainable eucalyptus logs, locally sourced bamboo and treated pine by village craftsman. Snuggled into the warm waters of the Bay of Thailand, the hotel is run by locals, sources its energy needs from solar and wind, and grows its own organic produce. Other highlights include an open-air cinema, a mangrove restaurant, an on-site ecologist and an observatory. Watch out for the group’s newest addition, Soneva Jani, opening in the Maldives any day now.; from $2,200 per night.

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any clear water potable in just 60 seconds, using a USB-rechargeable lithium ion battery. Each battery cycle delivers more than 80 purification cycles and takes about five hours to charge up.; from $100.


The idea is simple: source food locally and you not only support regional farmers, but also cut down on carbon emissions from the transport needed from farm-to-plate. Locavore targets local and seasonal produce wherever you are and buttresses those with recipes to use on the road.; Android and iOS.


This app will plant trees depending on how eco-unfriendly your daily commute is. Earn points by walking or biking instead of driving and find out both how many calories you are burning and the amount of CO2 you are saving at the same time. Android and iOS.

UNEP Carbon Calculator

Given its stringent backing of the unfortunately floundering carbon credits market, its no surprise the United Nations Environmental Program came up with a free carbon calculator app that helps you sort out your entire emissions footprint while on holiday. It also offers a handy guide to reducing your carbon spend. iOS only.

Green Globe

While there is some debate about eco-certification organizations, it’s not a stretch to say they are a massive step in the right direction. One such hotel certifier, Green Globe, offers an app that uses Google Earth to identify your location and then suggests certified properties, restaurants and tours that have been signed off on. app. Android and iOS.

Klean Kanteen Water Bottle

Gadgets Fairphone 2 Fairphone 2 is the coolest eco-tech product ever made. I said it. Not only is it a high-tech and performance beast using only recycled plastic and aluminium components, the guts of it are made from sustainably sourced rare-earth minerals, and it is manufactured to fair-trade standards. The firm is so concerned about doing the right thing that it teaches users how to fix problems through tutorials and ships out spare parts to its customers. All this and, at $593, it’s still cheaper than the new iPhone.

Bluetooth Speaker by Nunet Don’t be fooled by this speaker’s size. The water-resistant portable travel wonder features a wireless speaker, built-in microphone and a microSD card slot to use as an MP3 player. It’s known for its sparkling sound and rich bass. While that is all good, it makes our list for its solar-chargeability, with a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery.; from $40.

Grain Audio Wood Headphones These over-ear headphones look and sound amazing. Housing memory-foam ear cushions for marathon sessions, each pair features grain-matched, sustainably certified walnut enclosures and is built to provide the sound the artist intended in the studio. Additional features include an easy-to-use inline mic.; from $199.

CamelBak All Clear Water Purifier Water scarcity and usage in the tourism industry are major problems—as is the absurd number of plastic water bottles used every day. The ingenious half-kilo water bottle uses UV technology to turn


According to water-use think tank the Pacific Institute, the amount of oil used in plastic water bottles annually could drive more than a million cars for 12 months. One of the simplest ways we can reduce our carbon footprint is to cut out single-use plastic bottles. This stainless steel, BPA-free, reusable water bottle can accompany you on any adventure, and is made to last a lifetime; from $20.

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Water-Powered Travel Alarm Clock This smart little clock from Bedol uses plain old tap water as a fuel for its electrodes to harvest power. There are no batteries needed to charge the LCD display or to unleash an early morning wakeup call for that sunrise hike or morning surf. And best of all, it is cheap.; from $16.

EnerPlex Surfr Solar Panel Phone Case Whether hiking through mountainous Laos or relaxing beach-side in Bali, this case, with an integrated battery that is charged by its reverse solar panel, will save you from worrying about where the nearest outlet might be. goenerplex. com; from $50.

Freitag R516 Hilten Bag This stylish, Swiss-engineered weekender is made entirely from discarded truck tarpaulins and recycled bottles. Not only is it tough-as-nails, but it’s both functional and sustainable as well.; $648.

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DEALS | t+l reader specials


A sunglasses butler in Boracay, new seaside villas in Vietnam, lychee martinis over Bangkok: these deals will have you seeing the holiday season through rose-tinted glasses.

Veranda Resort Pattaya Trendily designed Veranda Resort in Pattaya combines modern luxury with a sense of seafaring life that makes for the perfect place to unwind beach- or poolside. The resort is close enough for you to experience the buzzing neighborhoods of Pattaya, but secluded enough to allow you to recharge. With a free fourth night, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the hotel’s facilities, from the traditional therapies offered at the Veranda Spa to the unmatched views at the Jetty Sky Bar. The Deal Stay 3 Get One Free offer on top of a 5% discount, applies to any room, enter promo code: “TL5”, through March 17. Save 36%.

The pool at Veranda Resort Pattaya.

SUPERSAVER Angsana Velavaru , Maldives Getting to the cloistered shores of Valvaru is simple with a free seaplane transfer to and from the resort. A private beachfront villa and a Maldivian feast at an oceansuspended veranda await your arrival. The Deal Fly Me to Angsana: a night in a Beachfront villa, from US$520 for two, through December 23. Save 63%.


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Discovery Shores Boracay Wake up to the famously stark-white silica sand of the beaches on Boracay, and spend the day taking in Station 1 from a daybed under the shade of a palm, mojito in hand. If it’s even possible to improve the view of White Beach, the sunglasses butler has a polish at the ready. But take off those shades in time for the famously explosive sunset, then retire to the Sandbar at Discovery Shores,

fr o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f V e r a n d a R e s o r t Pat taya ; c o u r t e s y o f A n g s a n a V e l ava r u


Anantara Kalutara Set away from the excitement of the capital, the newest of Anantara’s resorts sits quietly on the paradisiacal beachfront of Kalutara. Whether the trip is for adventure or relaxation, family time or romance, you’ll be calmed by your room’s picturesque garden vista, and energized by a sumptuous breakfast every morning. The Deal Advance Purchase Special: a night in the Premier Garden View room, from US$144 for two, through December 31. Save 30%.

to enjoy the evening unfolding. The Deal Book and Buy: a night in a Junior suite, from P13,000 for two, through December 19. Save 20%.


Avani Riverside In ever-changing Bangkok, the newest must-see is the arresting view of the Chao Phraya from the impressive tower of Avani Riverside. Upon your arrival in the City of Angels, a limousine will be waiting to take you to the newly opened hotel and your river-view suite. Spend your days seeing the city at ground level, then return for complimentary sunset cocktails at Bangkok’s newest rooftop bar, Attitude, followed by your included dinner at Skyline restaurant. The Deal Suite & Skyline Dining: two nights in a River View Junior suite, from Bt7900 a night for two, through December 31. Save 40%.

courtesy of The Mulia

Hong kong

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong A long journey will be much more bearable knowing that your private butler is waiting for you in a limo outside the airport, ready to whisk you to this beautifully renovated hotel on Victoria Harbour. You’ll be bunking in one of the hotel’s most luxurious suites, among the most generously sized in Hong Kong. An in-room massage is included in your package, which also comes with a 4G smartphone for you to use during your stay, and access to the Grand Club lounge. The Deal Top of the Suite Package: a night in the Ambassador and Presidential suite, from HK$30,000 for two, through August, 2017. Save 15%. BANGKOK

Metropole Bangkok If you want to savor the convenience of a hotel but have

The Baron suite at The Mulia, Bali.

the space and ambience of home living, there is no better area to do so than Bangkok’s trendiest neighborhood, Thonglor. You’ll really feel like a bonafide local when staying at The Ascott Limited’s newest property, with its modern classic design and easy access to city’s hippest restaurants. The Deal Opening Special: a night in a Studio Residence room, from Bt2,599 for two, through December 31. Save 57%.


U Khao Yai Celebrate the opening of Khao Yai’s newest luxury resort in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site’s rolling hills and lush valleys. Whether you are seeking a relaxing escape from the chaos of the city or are looking forward to joining a wildlife tour through the lush expanse of the national park, make sure you scope out the best spots to take advantage of the resort’s ‘wherever whenever’ breakfast as you cruise through the grounds on one of the hotel’s

complimentary bikes. The Deal Special Opening offer: a night in a Superior room from Bt2,899 for two, through March 31. Save 20%. CHIANG MAI

North Hill City Resort This recently opened 42-room boutique resort is attached to Thailand’s newest green, the North Hill Golf Course. And its fresh-air-focused package includes a two-night stay, an 18-hole round of golf for two and round-trip airport transfers. The resort’s ideal location also makes it easy for you to explore the attractions that have earned Chiang Mai the T+L World’s Best Awards 2016 title of best city in Asia. The Deal Golf Getaway: two nights in a Deluxe room, from Bt11,900 for two, through December 20. Save 45%.


The Anam Villas Last month, the pristine coastline along the Cam Ranh peninsula welcomed the arrival

of The Anam. With its colonial-style charm and emphasis on natural sophistication, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time. This package includes a night in a villa only steps from the South China Sea, breakfast, airport transfers and shuttle-bus rides to Nha Trang city center. The Deal Indochine’s Luxurious Charms offer: a night in a Seaview Premium room, from US$220 for two, through December 19. Save 30%. BALI

The Mulia Tucked away in the manicured enclave of Nusa Dua, The Mulia offers an unobstructed view of the Indian Ocean that you can enjoy from the comfort of your suite’s jacuzzi. This package includes resort credit that you can use at the Mulia Spa or one of the resort’s nine restaurants and bars. The Deal Best Deal offer: a night in the Baron suite, from US$400 for two, through December 22. Save 20%. — VERONICA INVEEN

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Thane t K aewduangdee

Infinite calm at Amatara Wellness Resort, in Phuket.

/ november 2016 / Bewitched by Nusa Lembongan, Bali’s laid-

back neighbor | Three Photographers snap their way across Asia | Our favorite new Spas in Thailand | Locals in Laos, Burma and Bali catch the Ecotourism wave


Black Magic Isle Nusa Lembongan, with a reputation for the dark arts, still conjures some sorcery by keeping its sleepy pace of development in contrast with neighboring Bali. S tor y a n d photographs b y I a n L lo y d Ne u ba u er

ccording to an old Balinese legend, Nusa Lembongan rose from the ocean in the 13th century when a necromancer named Dukuh Jumpungan sailed southeast from Bali and sunk his boat in these psychedelic-coralfilled, neon-blue waters. These days, boatloads of mere mortals are intentionally aiming to maroon themselves here on this knockout natural beauty. It’s easy to see why. “This place has it all: breathtaking views, blood-red sunsets, world-class surf, snorkeling, diving,” says Jamie Ragen, a surfer from Sydney I meet on this small satellite 15 kilometers southeast of Bali, which locals like to brag is the best place in the world, short only of Mozambique, to see manta rays. It also has a passionate group of residents dedicated to preserving its pristine mangrove forests, waters stocked with reefs and bioluminescent phytoplankton, and, perhaps most importantly, the slow life that visitors to this corner of Indonesia specifically seem to crave. “When people go to Bali for the first time, they think it’s going to be like Eat, Pray, Love, but when they see it, they get a shock,” says Annabelle Webb, the British manager of Tigerlillys, an organic café on Jungut Batu, Nusa Lembongan’s main beach. “Then they come here and see it’s actually what they thought Bali would be like. It’s only half an hour away by boat but it may as well be on another planet.”

sorcery and black magic. As evidenced by the skull-and-crossbones symbols that mark Lembongan and its two sisters islands, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan, on old maps, European mariners were none too keen to visit either. In February 1942, war came to the isles when an Allied fleet suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Japanese. Nusa Lembongan did not join the global economy until the mid-1980s when seaweed farms in Bali’s south were disbanded in favor of its tourism industry and transplanted to its southeastern neighbors. While industry brought Lembongans their first taste of hard currency, it was a drop in the Badung Strait compared to Bali’s tourism boom. But when Bali’s beaches became too crowded, travelers began peering across the strait at the mysterious landmass shimmering on the horizon. “Like so many islands, this one was popularized by surfer dudes about 10 years ago,” says Mark Smith, a Brit who runs Sandy Bay Beach Club, an alfresco restaurant

From top: Le

Pirate Bar on Nusa Ceningan; Nusa Lembongan's waters are some of the best in the world to see manta rays. Opposite: At The Beach Shack villa on Sandy Bay.

nusa lembongan ’s history is sketchy.

In the 18th century, the island was conquered by Bali’s Gelgel Dynasty and used to imprison political dissenters. Beside the chain gang, though, Balinese generally steered clear of the island fearing the residents’ predilection for

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and bar in the southwest. “It was a backpacker destination to start but the transformation has been dramatic. To give you an idea, five years ago we had no road to Sandy Bay—just a rubble track—and no electricity, only noisy diesel generators. Then expats living in Bali started buying plots of land and building villas so they could spend their weekends here.” “Now more travelers are skipping Bali altogether and coming here directly,” Smith says, as a waiter brings us a pair of Asian Mules, a muddle of fresh strawberries, lychee, mint, ginger and vodka served over ice. Today the waters around Nusa Lembongan are pockmarked with barges replete with water slides that are a big hit among Bali’s new wave of Chinese tourists. To expats who live here, Chinese tourists are a cause for concern, though to locals they are just more of the same—a source of easy work and better living. The main beach, Jungut Batu, meanwhile, is lined with low-key restaurants and bungalows, with flash new villas dotting the hills. From Jungut Batu, a network of unpaved roads reaches out like an octopus to almost every corner of the island. They meet again at Lembongan village—a warren of Hindu temples and crumbling brick terraces where old-timers sit outside shopfronts regurgitating memories and watching tourists whiz past on scooters. The road also reaches across to Nusa Ceningan island via The Golden Gate, a canary yellow suspension bridge for scooters and pedestrians only. The shallow channel dividing the two islands is home to one of the region’s last remaining seaweed farms, gigantic underwater gardens that create striking checkerboard patterns on the surface. “I’m happy we have tourism because seaweed farming is hard work,” says Weri, a barman at Le Pirate, a whitewashed pool bar cut straight out of Mykonos that I discover on Nusa Ceningan’s side of the channel. Locals tell me about better job opportunities, better schools and the island’s new hospital, thanks to the shift from selling seaweed to shilling surf. On the mouth of the channel, Secret Point is a popular cliff-diving spot and right-hand break where surfers test their mettle on the perfectly rounded liquid ramps that break on a sharp coral reef. There are three other breaks on Lembongan—Playground, Lacerations and Shipwrecks—that continue to attract the surfers that put these islands on the non-skulland-crossbones map. “It’s starting to get a little more crowded,” says Scott Davis from Western Australia, who’s surfed Secret Point since 2010. “But it’s still far less so than in Bali.”

one part of nusa lembongan where

the road still doesn’t reach is the mangrove forest on the east coast. A vital nursery for fish, these waterlogged forests can now be explored by kayak or on pole-boat tours. However, two high-rise hotels are now being built a stone’s throw from the mangroves, feeding fears these concrete juggernauts will be harbingers of more to come. “In 1963, when Bali’s Mount Agung erupted and the rice harvest failed, there was famine across Indonesia. My grandfather told me they ate a fruit from the mangrove that tastes like tapioca,” says Kris, a former seaweed farmer who now co-manages the Sandy Bay Beach Club. “If it wasn’t for the mangroves, they would have starved. So we protect them now.” This type of hereditary tradition is driving initiatives across Nusa Lembongan, with the island’s chief administrator, Ketut Giday Arjaya, hoping to indoctrinate his youngest constituents. With rallying cries of “No More Plastic Bottles” and “Bye, Bye Plastic Bags,” he helped organize an Earth Day event that saw kids clean up the beach on Mushroom Bay. Meanwhile, another part-time philanthropist, Soosh, a British villa manager living on the island who goes by her first name only, is working in conjunction with the Bali Children’s Foundation to bring in an English teacher to a primary school near Sandy Bay— not just for language instruction but also to implement an environmental education and conservation program.

A marine park has been established to protect the 247 species of coral and 562 species of reef fish in the waters of Nusa Lembongan. The island’s diving industry has banded together to help marine park officials. “We’re their eyes and ears,” says Andrew Taylor, a Canadian who runs Blue Corner Dive. “When we see illegal fishing or aquarium collecting taking place, we document it and send them the information. They’ve been really responsive, fining fisherman who break the rules and confiscating their boats.” It may seem harsh, but both local leaders and more recent transplants are confident they can steer this little island toward a sustainable idyll while keeping the tide rising for all. Everyone I meet here—from Ketut Giday Arjaya to Jaiia Cerff, an 18-year-old science student from Australia volunteering on the island to teach local kids about conservation and sustainability—buys into this dream of Nusa Lembongan as a world apart. “As a parent I feel it’s a lot safer than Bali for my kids,” Jamie Ragen, the Aussie surfer, told me. “We’ve made lifelong friendships with the locals here.” En route to the ferry at Jungut Batu Beach, I spot a young Chinese couple behind me along the rubbly track. They’re not on a coach tour, as many Chinese tourists tend to be in Bali, but buzzing around on a scooter like the locals. The driver and I make eye contact, sharing a silent understanding of the beauty in the simplicity. Like Ragen, I’m utterly bewitched. I’ll be back next year, and the year after that.

Golden Gate Bridge, linking Nusa Lembongan with Ceningan. Opposite, from top: An organic

smoothie bowl, or nalu, at Tigerlillys café; above Jungut Batu Beach.

The details GETTING THERE Air Bali ( offers direct transfers from Denpasar airport to Nusa Lembongan. Rocky Fast Cruises (rockyfastcruise. com) offers airport transfers to Sanur with boat transfers to Nusa Lembongan. Stay The Beach Shack A stunning Hamptons-esque three-bedroom oceanfront pool villa. Sandy Bay; 62-822/3633-7755;; doubles from US$750 in low season, US$860 in high. Hai Tide Beach Resort Beachfront and gardenview lambung double-story bungalows. Mushroom Bay;

62-361/720-331;; doubles from US$100. Do Blue Corner Dive Offers dive courses and holds daily guided dive trips. 62-877/6137-7718;; guided dive trips US$42. Serenity Yoga On Jungut Batu Beach, has thrice daily yoga classes. 62-812/ 3849-9141; serenityyoga; classes US$7. Newbro Surfing Lessons for beginners, and guided surf trips around the islands. 62-813/3734-6056;; lessons from US$30.

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Asia through three lenses

three of our intrepid photographers focus

their cameras on the philippine coastlines, northern india, bhutan and cambodia, returning with distinct takes on what makes for culturally immersive travel.

↓ Davao, the


Eldio Gulisan, a member of the Sama tribe, surfaces after freediving for fish in the clear waters around Davao.

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francisco guerrero ↑→↓← In the Philippines, you are never far from the water. It is a source of life, livelihood and joy. Travel to Samal Island in Davao, for example, and watch as Badjao fishermen, armed with nothing more than homemade spear guns and wooden goggles, dive to depths of more than 18 meters on a single breath. A world-renowned dive destination with countless corners still untouched, the Philippines is primed for concerted conservation efforts that can prevent unchecked growth before it even starts. A new generation of travel entrepreneurs is showing how to formulate tourism-culture-adventuresustainability into a viable business model. The surfer community, mostly based out of sleepy towns such as Siargao, La Union and Baler, is attracting travelers (and, for those who get hooked, transplants) who want to experience a more laidback lifestyle, complete with well-equipped but simple and breezy beach huts. In Zambales, you can rent a hammock between your surf sessions—or embark on immersion outings with the local indigenous community. The key to this new model is that it is inclusive, relying on the local community and culture, so that the experience is less observational tourism than, well, diving in.

↑ Zambales Looking every bit the part, surfer Ziggie Gonzales co-founded The Circle Hostel, an affordable, well-designed accomodation that was a social-tourism pioneer.

← Zambales Waiting for waves in Pundaquit, a fishing village with clean beaches where sea turtles are the most frequent visitors.


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Linapacan → The largely unexplored island between Palawan and Coron offers pristine coral-filled waters that you'll almost always have all to yourself.

↓ Bohol Surfer Monalisa Neuboeck takes a break on her paddleboard on the scenic Loboc river in Bohol.

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↑ Rajasthan,


The Blue City of Jodhpur, in Rajasthan, from high above in the Mehrangarh Fort.

Rajasthan → Bold, distinct colors—and facial hair—are the norm for Rajasthanis, casting every view in the state through a kaleidoscopic lens.

Alex Treadway ↑→↓←

Rajasthan, India, is a riot of color: a heady mix of spice markets, gem shops, Maharaja’s palaces and past opulence. Nowhere captures the essence of colors, smells and sounds of Rajasthan more than the indigo blue outpost of Jodhpur— though a case equally could be made for the bold fashion choices. A bit north, the sparse landscape of Ladakh contains some of the most stunning mountain ranges, adventurous trekking and remote cultures in the Himalayas. Here, above 3,000 meters, in one of the highest, driest and coldest inhabited places on earth, Ladakhis have for a thousand years not only survived, but prospered. On mountaintops perch tiny gompas of whitewashed settlements, amid carved verdant oases—terraced fields of barley, apricots and vegetables, irrigated with glacial meltwater through stone-lined channels. Bhutan is a geographical wonder. Rising from the plains to the Tibetan plateau, it encompasses a range of landscapes. There is lush rainforest in the south, rolling hills in the middle and towering mountain peaks in the north. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   n o v e mb e r 2 0 1 6


↑ Nubra



Diskit Monastery, in the remote Nubra Valley, only accessible from Leh via the 5,359-meter Khardung La pass, the highest motorable road in the world.

Nubra Valley → Among the most isolated places on Earth, Ladakh's Nubra Valley is home to residents with a distinct look.


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← Laya,


Like many villages in this kingdom, Laya is both remote and precariously positioned in a dramatic setting.

↓ Laya The Layaps of isolated northwest Bhutan barely number 1,000 but are known for their creatively decorated houses and bamboo hats.

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↑ Siem Reap This aerial view of workers toiling in the rice fields outside of Siem Reap lends some scale to the size of their task.

Scott a. Woodward ↑→↓←

Cambodia has a long and tumultuous history, having endured decades of colonization, civil war, occupation and the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime that displaced and murdered millions of their own compatriots. However, there have now been more than two decades of peace and stability and, while the country struggles to recover from the ravages of its recent history, today the kingdom is enjoying a modern-day renaissance. Explore the ancient architectural and spiritual wonder that the temples of Angkor offer, or drift down the mighty, muddy Mekong River. Traverse the rolling Cardamom Mountains or buzz through the bustling capital Phnom Penh. Trace the hundreds of kilometers of coastline along the Gulf of Thailand to the seaside city of Sihanoukville. Creative inspiration in Cambodia may come from many places: soft, golden light; millennia-old temples; friendly, welcoming Khmers; vibrant, bright colors and the majesty of Mother Nature.

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← Battambang A wizened Khmer laborer takes a break from the fields in the country's leading riceproducing province.

↓ Mechrey A small floating village in Mechrey is a mirror of itself in the waters of Tonlé Sap Lake.

↑ Siem


A quiet moment and long shadows at the end of the day make a young student seem a world away from the popular tourist getaway.

Mechrey → There's drama in the background as the sun rises over Tonlé Sap Lake en route to the floating village.

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My Kingdom for a Spa Beyond its traditional yogic massage, Thailand is awash in innovative wellness ideas. J en in n e L ee-S t. Jo h n works out her kinks at some of the country’s best new spas.

Photographer: Thanet Kaewduangdee | Assistant Photographer: Pananda Sophan | Model: Kim-Ly Ngea | Hair and Makeup: Lisa Allen | Hair and Makeup Assistant: Eka Sav

Survey the Andaman Sea from Amatara's hilltop main pool.

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If you’re looking Amatara for the definition of “tough love,” Wellness try a hammam. They’ll beat the Resort daylights out of you and you’ll thank them heartily. Hammams, also known as Turkish or Moroccan baths, are made up of a series of hot, cold and steam rooms cap-stoned by a body scrub—an ancient Roman tradition that combines socializing with spa, and has a place in sundry northern hemisphere cultures. In the Russian baths in New York City, for instance, I laid on bleachers in a steam room full of my friends and strangers, while a guy whacked me with a broom made of oak leaves drenched in olive oil soap. Less a massage than a public flogging.

The folks at the newly relaunched Amatara Wellness Resort in Phuket knew such roughhousing wouldn’t jibe so well in gentle Thailand, land of smiles. So they took the aggression down a notch, while still keeping the treatment abusive enough to be gratifying. That’s how they’re able to dub their brand-new, gleaming hammam, where Mediterranean bathing and soaking principles meet Thai massage and aromatherapy, the first of its kind in the world. “This is not a fat Turkish man slapping you around,” Brice Borin, the general manager who oversaw the revamp, assured me. “It’s a nice therapist using softerpressure Thai technique.” Up on a bluff on the island’s southeastern peninsula, Amatara debuted this year with a focus on

clockwise from bottom left: The Himalayan salt

room improves breathing; royal pampering in the hammam; kicking up surf in an Olio East cover-up; organic body scrubs; the face of bliss.

wellness so broad-minded that both detox-retreat junkies and the spaskeptical (the wine list is impressive) will be happily, healthily at home. You can book a wellness program, sure: they range from fitness, to detox, to the Amatara Connect meant to build bonds between you and your traveling companion. But from the smallest details—the yoga pavilion is positioned to make the most of your dawn sun salutations; the vast infinity pool has a line-up of massage jets; the airy, circular bathroom in your sunlit pool villa feels like a spa—the property lulls you into its plush wholesomeness. Even those who think vacation equals gluttony will be psyched about the diverse, delicious menu at The Retreat, concocted by the resort’s head chef and nutritionists,

and open to guests who’ve booked villas or wellness programs. This is a parade of super-duper foods, and though we could talk about why the über-healthy bulgur, avocado and flax seed oil combine to make the grilled king prawns so yummy, it is the shockingly simple “Organic Green” that steals everyone’s heart on my visit. A distillation of veggies including kale leaves, broccoli, leeks, baby spinach and garlic, with seasonings highlighted by hemp seed oil, this soup might be the liquid embodiment of the whole resort: so good yet also so good for you. Still, the main event is the gorgeous hammam—all glittering mosaic walls and golden accents, layers of luxe without any inkling of the garish. Experiencing it is a multi-room, multi-temperature,

multi-step adventure. “Introducing cold water or ice at different intervals stimulates the immune system, triggers the body to heal itself,” wellness director Phoebe Boonkerd told me. “You’ll be tired after, but you’ll sleep very well.” The first step is the sauna. Seems standard. But don’t let the tame ease-in fool you; after a few minutes your therapist (your guide and timekeeper through the whole process) sends you to the jets, power-blasting you with water to cool you down. This is hilarious to experience with a group of four grown women, all of us squealing like little girls in the chill. Then it’s the big reveal: the doors are opened to the sparkly, chandeliered hammam room whose crimson centerpiece is a giant mosaic Bodhi tree. This is a spa room for the

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private palace of a modern-day princess. Take off that tiara, though, because you’re here for a fragrant and relaxing hair treatment and head massage. Next, you’re shuttled to the steam room, in which you finally grasp why “hammam” means, “spreader of warmth.” Our therapists set the timer for a few minutes and then make their escape. It soon becomes clear as to why they were in such a rush—the steam, pleasantly scented by Thai herbs, gets as thick as cotton candy and none of us can see each other though we’re less than a meter apart. “When will this end?” someone moans, half-jokingly. “I’m melting.” For me, a steam is always a personal challenge, an internal faceoff between maximizing the health benefits of the extreme environment

and, well, surviving it. But this soaking-wet, 50-degree immersion is a whole new level (which makes us all feel like wusses when we later learn that Turkish steams are even hotter). Just when we are starting to debate whether the therapists might actually be CIA black-site interrogators, they set us free, muscles as loose as wet noodles, to head back to the hammam for the main event, the full-body massage and exfoliation. We line up and lie down on a row of warmed stone beds and the ladies get to work. “Okay, I’ll tell you the location of the secret lair!” is the first thing that runs through my mind when my therapist starts scrubbing, so obvious it feels that she needs information or she’ll flay all my skin off. But, almost immediately, an

Poached prawns and quinoa at The Retreat. right: Heading down to Amatara's beach in a wrap by Olio East.

unexpected thing happens: any initial discomfort is overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude and euphoria. I know that sounds cheesy; maybe it’s lightheadedness from the extremetemperatures rollercoaster, but in this beautiful room surrounded by friends, the rhythm of the soused kessa glove on my back, I feel like I’m purifying body and soul for baptism. Rather than holy water, though, we’re next doused in mud—besides being detoxifying, the exfoliation allows the body to better absorb the therapeutic minerals in the mud, sourced from Morocco or Hungary. This is supposed to reduce inflammation, aches and pains. After a rinse, it’s a snooze in the Himalayan salt room. Actually, four girls in robes, in a pink room, giddy from the day, is more like a pajama party. My skin is glowing, my hair is soft, my muscles are mush and I’ve got zero of my normal back pains. Boonkerd had said the purpose of the hammam was to turbocharge our “exfoliation, detoxification, relaxation, circulation… and breathing.” Sub out the last one for “vacation” and you’ve got a poetic ode to the day’s pleasurable pain. Also known as “elation.”; doubles from Bt8,050; Thai hammam experiences from Bt5,900.

Bangkok’s new best

You can’t walk a block in the capital without passing two things: a 7-Eleven and a massage place. In truth, we’d entrust our sore muscles to plenty of the latter, but the following new spas truly surpass your standard street-side foot rubs.

The boat you take to the iconic Oriental Spa symbolizes the entire experience: it’s a journey. The new Spa Studio is a whole other animal. Housed in the hotel in a set of former suites, it’s an urban escape for folks who don’t have all day. There’s a waxing bar, and a massage loft where you can grab a cat nap or order champagne with your neck rub. But the stars are the collagenenhancing facials from QMS, created by a German trauma and cosmetic surgeon, that leave pores tight and skin plump (mine included two masks, one Phantom of the Opera-style and the other more Sith Lord-y), and the only Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio in town. French podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez is a beauty-industry rock star thanks to his blade-only, health-centric nail treatments, and he’s hired equally dapper and charming (no coincidence, we're sure) French podiatrists to run all his studios. Here, trust Alex Lutin—armed with pearl cream and a chamois-leather buffer modeled on Gonzalez’s great-grandmother’s—to hone your nails to a month-long shine. Talk about polished. mandarinoriental. com; QMS facials from Bt3,350, Bastien’s pedicure Bt3,250.

Indian massage and Thai therapy. Chinese acupressure and Swedish massage. Egyptian reflexology and Native American spirituality. Fusion is usually for food, not fingertips. But treatments at the new Eforea spa meld distinct healing traditions in dense 30-minute sessions. These “journey enhancements,” developed by master therapist Sean Jordan, an Englishman who has studied healing from the Himalayas to Central America, may be booked solo or flowed into other treatments. Such flexible customization ensures you never receive a cookie-cutter massage, and while I was as skeptical of the blurred spa lines as I would have been had they offered me paneer pizza, my masseuse had magic hands, weaving together all six traditions in continuous flow. She was representative of the other innovation here: getting the therapists involved in the treatments via body movements, meditation and breathing. “The therapist is the channel, the conduit through which you experience healing,” Jordan told me. “Unless we make the therapist happy, it’s impossible to translate joy to the guests.” Consider the message delivered.; from Bt1,600.

Spa Studio | Mandarin Oriental

eforea | Millennium Hilton

Theta State Float Center It will sound unbearable to claustrophobes and anyone with a hint of ADHD, but climbing into a pod filled with magnesium sulfate water and shutting the lid is the best thing you can do for your aches—physical and mental. Warmed to body temperature, the tank imbues a weightlessness that aids meditation. The medicalgrade salt is detoxifying (hydrate first), and though I got seasick— if you're prone, use one of their larger float rooms—I emerged having rid my neck of its piercing pain. There’s loads of science behind this, but here’s the key takeaway: it’s an anti-gravity elixir and all you have to do is nothing.; Bt1,950.

The One Sand Bath Therapy If you’re down with onsen, you might try soaking next in sand. Specifically, these volcanic, larger-than-average Japanese grains. Climb into the tub and your therapist will rake sand all over your body, turning you into a human Zen garden. Basically the opposite of a float tank, the sand exerts pressure on you equally from all sides, so it can get hot, heavy, and, yes, maybe claustrophobic. But quell your mind, relax, and power through, because all those little bits are filled with 50 vitamins and minerals that detoxify, boost immunity and circulation, and stave off signs of aging. We’d call that a great day at the beach.; Bt2,500.

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Circle of Life

l auryn ishak. opposite: Kees Sprengers

It’s a jungle out there—and new community-based conservation iniatitaves aim to keep it that way. Rachna Sachasinh heads into the wilds of Southeast Asia for a few lessons on the “look but don’t touch” ethos of eco-tourism.

On the Nam Et River in Ban San Loua, Laos. Opposite: The common barn owl saves Pagi’s red rice harvest, in Bali.

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fr o m t o p l e f t: P u r e s t o c k / g e t t y i m a g e s ; K e e s S p r e n g e r s . o p p o s i t e : K e e s S p r e n g e r s

Deep night, in a tropical jungle atop a murky river, mist rises like a ghost. I am nervous. Actually, I am scared. Really scared. In my mind, crocodiles and tigers are already stuffing me with forest herbs for their rollicking jungle feast. Kham, a boyish, 42-year-old river guide, is undaunted. After all, this is his backyard. Standing at the prow of our slender long-tailed boat, Kham plunges a sturdy bamboo pole into the shallow, inky waters of the Nam Et River, and eases the skiff effortlessly into the darkness. It is pitch black except for Kham’s headlamp, which he aims with predator-like precision to pick out a slow loris here, a barking deer there, an impassive monitor lizard hanging motionless on a gnarled trunk. I am part of a small band of travelers on this Nam Nern Night Safari, a grassroots ecotourism program in northern Laos’s Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL), where village guides lead us through swathes of primordial jungle to catch a glimpse of the critically endangered Indochinese tiger. Wild animals holler and shriek in the distance. Their echoes careen down the ravine like rapid gunfire, giving me palpitations. Kham chuckles each time I am startled. Tapping his suntanned arm, he whispers, “Don’t worry, the

above, from left:

A baby Indochinese tiger; traditional Lao village fare served during the homestay. Opposite: Slow boat to Ban San Koua, Laos.

tiger only likes dark meat.” Kham knows very well that my skin is much darker than his. Well, looking on the bright side, I suppose you could consider getting eaten by a member of a critically endangered species the very definition of sustainable tourism. And that’s the whole reason I’m here. Asia harbors one third of the world’s biodiversity “hotspots” and supports a third of its rainforests, according to the International Union of Nature Conservation. It is also one of the most threatened regions, with perilous rates of habitat loss and species endangerment. Conservation experts have begun looking in earnest to ecotourism to help curtail further loss, and when local communities take the lead in safeguarding wildlife, the results can be symbiotic, suprisingly successful endeavors. The Nam Nern Night Safari, for example, has twice been awarded the World Responsible Tourism Award (in 2013 and 2014). Big cats in Laos, dolphins in Burma, owls in Bali… such imaginative community-based conservancy programs would inspire anyone to overcome their healthy fear of jungle beasts.


century ago, thousands of tigers roamed the jungles of Laos. Today, the estimates are in the single digits, perhaps fewer than five. That’s a problem not just for the tigers. The presence of such an apex predator species is proof of a robust ecosystem. In NEPL Protected Area, tigers are an important link in a long food chain that includes samba deer, Asian golden cats, civets, bears, barking deer, pythons, wild pigs, slow loris, the Chinese serow, spotted Linsang, dhole, macaque—the list goes on. When one or more are yanked from the chain, its integrity

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M i n z aya r O o

Fishermen on the Irrawaddy pull in their catch.

Rustic fishing canoes and bamboo rafts jostle for passage on the Irrawaddy t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   n o v e mb e r 2 0 1 6


from left:

Working the Irrawaddy; Mingun's temple, damaged in an 1839 earthquake.

On my trip, I drift down a river in a virtual no-man’s land, sleep in a bamboo hut poised on stilts with lovely colorful handwoven bedding and mosquito nets, and cook foraged greens and freshly caught river fish over an open campfire. It feels all the more poignant in the company of former hunters who have become the forests’ chief stewards. When we arrive back at the ecolodge after the night cruise, we drink tea around a campfire and tally the animals we spotted. None of us saw a tiger—but none of us was disappointed. We had seen a muntjac and a dhole (a type of wild dog), both evidence of a reasonably intact ecosystem. “Lao people cannot live without the forest,” Kham and his compatriots tell me. “If the forest goes away and the animals disappear, so do we.” There are about 100 forest-dependent communities within the national park’s boundaries. The night safari has been such a steady source of income for the villagers in Ban San Koa that other communities have enlisted WCS program director Sean McNamara, who oversees the progress in NEPL, and his team to help design ecotour programs for them, to help make the full shift away from hunting. This month sees the launch of two such programs, from the villagers in Ban Nam Phoung, Ban Sakok and Ban Navene, on the western periphery of the park in Luang Prabang Province. For intrepid naturalists, the Cloud Forest Climb is a rugged four- to five-day trek to the summit of Phou Louey or “Forever Mountain.” Tourists position camera traps along the trail and monitor any wildlife from their smartphones during or at the end of the trek. For a more laidback experience, billet

fr o m fa r l e f t: M i n z aya r O o ; J a n e S w e e n e y/ g e t t y i m a g e s . o p p o s i t e : M i n z aya r O o

falters, and the entire ecosystem is in danger of crashing. For the traditional communities who live around NEPL, the forest provides food and building material, including plants, herbs, animal protein and timber. Over the last three decades, however, big sections of the forest were clear-cut to make way for farming and logging (both legal and illegal), leading to a precipitous decline in forest cover and wildlife habitat. More insidiously, Laos is a bustling corridor for the international illegal wildlife trade. Tigers are a particularly lucrative commodity in nearby China, where “luxury” tiger parts fetch thousands of dollars. China also has an insatiable appetite for bears, large cats, ungulates and small mammals that are poached in forests around Asia and transported north across the Lao-China border. It’s not hard to see how the lure of a large payout from a tiger, a black bear or a muntjac deer might be irresistible to subsistence farmers and hunters. In 2011, with the help of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Laos Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, a cluster of villages around the NEPL launched the Nam Nern Night Safari, an innovative ecotourism model tasked in part with rehabilitating the region’s pitiful tiger population. The fee for the two-day excursion is used to pay the river guides, cooks, launderers and boat operators, all of whom live in Ban San Koua, the starting point of the excursion. In a neat ‘everybody-wins’ twist, for each species tourists spot, money is deposited into a village fund that pays for larger building or social projects (like school toilets or books), which benefit the entire community.

overnight in The Nest, a pod of spherical baskets hanging from cables in the forest canopy that gives a bird’s-eye view of wildlife meandering below. Like the night safari, the new eco-programs monetizes each species spotted by tourists, giving villagers an incentive to halt illegal hunting and take an active part in protecting their local woodlands.


t is sensory overload amid a cacophony of motors and mayhem at Mandalay’s Mayan Chan Jetty on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in Burma. The river resembles a maritime autobahn, with old-fashioned trawlers and barges, rustic fishing canoes and bamboo rafts jostling for passage. It’s unthinkable that any wildlife or fish could survive in this congested waterway, I remark to WCS Ecotourism Manager U Thant Zin who has accompanied me here. “Yes,” he concedes, “but we have a plan to change that.” Throughout history, monarchs and marauders, pilgrims and pioneers have plied the Irrawaddy, looting timber and gold. In the last half century, deforestation, mining, pollution and dam projects also meddled with the river, doing more harm than good. The Irrawaddy’s fisheries have been decimated from the ghastly onslaught of electric fishing. The critically endangered, short-nose Irrawaddy dolphin is one casualty of the assault. But, as I learned on this trip, the revival of these intelligent beasts is the stuff of a feel-good Hollywood flick, man and animal forming a bond and working together for the common good. U Thant Zin and I hop on a simple, doubledecker ferry, outfitted with a viewing platform and a rustic, albeit charming and entirely agreeable, open-air sleeping quarters on the lower level. Ten kilometers north of Mandalay, past the ancient ruins of Mingun, the Irrawaddy is fat and languid, small fishing boats drift lazily, and the occasional barge piled with bags of rice, earthenware and freshly woven rattan baskets lumbers past. A few kilometers further, we rendezvous with two fishermen, U Min Naing and U Kyaw Soe, who jump aboard from their wooden canoe, and we begin to look for the high, round, slatecolored heads distinctive of this species. Soon we spot a pod of three, their glistening dorsal fins breaking the waterline. The fishermen demonstrate the guttural calls and tapping sounds they use to communicate with the dolphins. When there are fish to be caught, the dolphins will talk back, articulating with fluke signals to instruct the fishermen where to cast their nets and when to pull them back

A lone dorsal fin signals some Irrawaddy dolphins, who travel in pods.

up. When the friendly cetaceans are bored of the game, one flicks its tail, as if to say, “maybe later,” and the pod swims off. We disembark on a large sandy beach, where the fishermen ferry us on bullock carts to Sien Pan Kone village. Over a hearty lunch of traditional Burmese salads and a spicy fish curry, they share stories about the challenges ahead. Though illegal, electric fishing is lucrative, they tell me, and the promise of a quick payout is tempting. The fishermen hope that the ecotourism program will provide a steady source of income and deter their neighbours from pursuing electric fishing. Strolling through the village’s picturesque pathways shaded by flowering trees and vines, we stop at a courtyard where women sit on straw mats, weaving gorgeous bamboo conical hats. They invite me to sit down, and give me a quick tutorial. Further on, U Thant Zin points out a site for a future ecolodge. That night, however, we bunk on board the ferry, lulled to sleep by gentle waves lapping on shore. t r a v e l a n d l e i s u r e a s i a . c o m  /   n o v e mb e r 2 0 1 6



isitors to Ubud are bombarded with “eco” and “green” labels at every turn. It is difficult to know what that even means in a place whose very brand depends on being known as a bohemian, yogi burg. Certainly you can find reputable options from transplanted do-gooders, but it’s the farmers and fishermen developing homespun experiences that sustain their livelihoods and lands that I find most exciting. One example is Uma Wali, a farmers’ cooperative located in Pagi, a stunning farming community a few kilometers from Jatiluwih, the unesco World Heritage site whose magnificent terraced rice paddies ascend up to the sky. Which is also where you’ll find one of the key partners in this program—owls. Equal parts a farm cooperative, a philosophy and an ecotourism program, Uma Wali was founded in 2013 by I Made Jonita and Patu Partayasa, neighbors who’ve been toiling in paddies since they were young boys. Today, the group is 58 farmers strong, growing and attempting to dismiss the likes of Monsanto and other big agricultural companies from Bali’s hinterland. Uma Wali means back to the rice field, and these guys mean it. When I arrive, Pagi’s paddies are bustling with harvest activity: thwacks of machetes

Working the paddy in Pagi. Opposite from left: Kids in Bali at the start of the rice harvest; winnowing heirloom red rice in hand-woven rattan trays, in Pagi.

slicing chartreuse stalks, the crackle of bamboo windmills threshing grains, the melody of rice being swished back and forth on flat rattan trays. Ankle deep in paddy mud, I do my part and yank clumps of mature rice, their tops plump with ruddy-colored grains, an heirloom varietal of red rice. Later in the afternoon, sipping red rice tea in I Made Jonita’s stone courtyard, surrounded by trusses of flaming red hibiscus, I learn the grave extent to which Bali’s beautiful rice fields are in danger. Rice farming here evolved and benefitted from subak, a system of canals that parcel water to rice paddies all over the island. But years of industrial-farming methods used hybrid seeds that required harmful chemicals. This so-called progress ignored the subak’s self-regulating mechanisms, leading to an explosion of pests and a bitter cycle of failed harvests and debt. “I was living like a westerner, not like someone from Bali. I want my children to learn how we can do things the old way and do it better,” I Made Jonita tells me. He stopped using chemicals, began cultivating heirloom varietals and planted according to the subak irrigation system. Going green cold-turkey had a rough learning curve. “The first harvest was broken,” he says. “Too many insects and rats that ate everything.”

l auryn ishak (3)

The following year, a simple idea turned the tide: reintroducing common barn owls. Uma Wali joined forces with a local NGO called Friends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF), and began breeding and repopulating their fields with the birds, as a natural way to control pests. The project is called Tuwut which means “the right way.” The problem with the wrong way, meaning chemical farming, is that it blows up the whole ecosystem. After years of insecticide use, owls and birds such the Balinese and Java starlings, which feed on insects and vermin, perished or moved away to places that offered more food, says FNPF’s director, Bayu Wirayudha, a vet and wildlife conservationist. Going back to natural farming means bringing back animals as partners. Last year, Uma Wali and FNPF began with one pair of owls; today there are 15 with a few babies on the way. For a modest fee, Uma Wali provides accommodation in a typical village compound, and you are encouraged to participate in daily life—wading in muddy paddies, cleaning rice barns, bundling temple offerings, even helping the local aunties prepare a wedding feast. The ecotourism program includes building, positioning and monitoring the owls nesting boxes around the village. I Made Jonita and a group of cheerful, rowdy village kids walk me over to the aviary, where the owls are bred and fed a healthy diet of field rats. From a high branch, a brown-andwhite raptor inspects me suspiciously with its enormous black-rimmed eyes. The kids and I look on as I Made Jonita throws in a plump rat. The owl pounces, and the boys and I gasp watching the amorphous shape of the rat slide down his throat. No bigger than my forearm, this guy can make or break a rice harvest. Like witnessing the dolphin-Burmese fishing tag-team, this made me think that sometimes the old ways of doing things aren’t just quaint and green, but also more productive and progressive. Saving endangered animals can help communities save themselves, preserving their ways of life on their own terms, whether in Burma, Bali or elsewhere. Back in Laos, the tigers in the protected area are still at sub-breeding population levels and remain hard to spot. But some lucky visitors have been able to track a few. What’s more, “There are good populations of golden marbled cats and leopard cats, and other large mammals,” the WCS’s Sean McNamara had told me. “These are all good indications that the ecosystem is still viable.” And if they can repair the links in their food chain without preying on me, so much the better.

The details Nam Nern Night Safari; from LAK1,800,000 per person. Ayeyarwady Dolphin Ecotourism; from US$100 for boat rental

for up to six people, and US$20 per person for twohour cast net demonstration. Uma Wali; from Rp300,000 per guest per day.

Three other ways to get your Dr. Doolittle on Friends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF) Nusa Penida, Indonesia Help reforest the island’s denuded hillsides and monitor the Balinese Starling, an endangered species being bred and released. fnpf. org; from Rp100,000 per person per day. Sam Veasna Centre, Cambodia The Sam Veasna Centre offers several community-based ecotourism programs across the country. For example, you can follow the endangered ibis in the savannah-like landscape of Tmatboey, north of Siem Reap. Or, help the indigenous Bunong community

rehabilitate the critically endangered white-cheeked gibbon in the highlands of Mondulkiri, the country’s northeastern province. samveasna. org; from US$80 for one-day visit and US$150 for overnight per person. Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai, Thailand An elephant sanctuary where the pachyderms come to recover from abuse and injury. There are no rides or shows here. Instead visitors can stay on to learn about elephant behavior and care for the mighty, emotive creatures. elephant; from Bt2,500 per person.

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wish you were here

Brent Purcell /  Milford Sound /  new zealand Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, Fiordland boasts incredible mountains and vast valleys, their scale beyond comprehension. This is a part of the world where annual rainfall is measured in meters, rainforests hug sheer cliffs, and one-of-a-kind flora and fauna abound. The national park here now measures more than 1.2 million hectares—including Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds—and is a World Heritage Site. The Maori were the first hunters here; they fished in the sea and collected New Zealand jade, called pounamu, from the rivers. Much later, European sealers and whalers took shelter in the fiords and even built small settlements in some locations. But, overall, the sheer steepness of the terrain, the incredible isolation and the wet climate deterred all but the hardiest of Western emigrants from staying in the region permanently. Don’t expect to find any locals these days, though. No one is allowed to live here, and that’s just the way New Zealanders like it.


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November 2016  

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia November 2016