DestinAsian http://www.destinasian.com DestinAsian | Travel Magazine Around Asia-Pacific and Beyond Thu, 23 Feb 2017 04:42:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=131 Curated Experiences in New Zealandhttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/curated-experiences-in-new-zealand/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/curated-experiences-in-new-zealand/#comments Thu, 23 Feb 2017 04:42:34 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71939 FIExperience_Heli-Skiing_Clarke-Glacier-Queenstown_Source---Glacier-Southern-Lakes-Helicopters

Specializing solely on journeys in New Zealand, Antipodean Luxury Travel offers experiences that span the North and South Islands.]]>
FIExperience_Heli-Skiing_Clarke-Glacier-Queenstown_Source---Glacier-Southern-Lakes-Helicopters

Scenic helicopter flights in Queenstown.

Scenic helicopter flights in Queenstown.

Specializing solely on journeys in New Zealand, Antipodean Luxury Travel has managed to set itself apart despite having only recently launched. The Singapore-based travel specialist was founded by New Zealander Alexandra Stewart, whose local knowledge has helped curated diverse experiences that span the North and South Islands. From nature-based adventures to culinary sojourns, each trip with Antipodean Luxury Travel is purely custom-made and designed based on tailored recommendations, allowing travelers to experience New Zealand beyond the cookie-cutter tourist activities. Helicopter rides and access to coastal coves will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts (think horseback riding and indulging in a picnic spread with soaring mountainscapes as the backdrop), while oenophiles can look forward to getting involved in the wine-making process, from harvesting the grapes to designing the packaging. Meanwhile, lovers of the finer things in life will be glad to know that accommodation options comprise lavish lodges and all-frills hotels.

For more information, visit Antipodean Luxury Travel.

Matakauri Lodge beckons on the banks of Lake Wakatipu.

Matakauri Lodge beckons on the banks of Lake Wakatipu.

Picnicking in the Dobson Valley.

Picnicking in the Dobson Valley.

Stargazing at Castlepoint in Wairarapa.

Stargazing at Castlepoint in Wairarapa.

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Holi Celebrations with Ravishing India Holidayshttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/holi-celebrations-with-ravishing-india-holidays/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/holi-celebrations-with-ravishing-india-holidays/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:54:31 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71930 Holi

Kicking off in Delhi on March 8, the Holi itinerary includes a two-day safari and a visit to Agra's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.]]>
Holi

There’s arguably no more vibrant and free-spirited festival  in India than Holi, and likewise no better way to experience it than with Ravishing India Holidays’ fun-filled Holi itinerary. Kicking off in Delhi on March 8, the trip includes a two-day safari in Ranthambhore National Park and a visit to Agra to explore that city’s trio of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, and Agra Fort. On March 12 you arrive in the “Pink City” of Jaipur, with the Holi celebrations beginning the next morning. Ravishing India’s team of concierges will ensure you get the most out of the day—including a head-to-toe dousing in the festival’s signature colored powder if you want it.

For more information, visit Ravishing India Holidays

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What’s Brewing: Cathay Launches Betsy Beerhttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/airline-news/whats-brewing-cathay-launches-betsy-beer/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/airline-news/whats-brewing-cathay-launches-betsy-beer/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:28:11 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71925 BetsyFI

Named after Cathay Pacific’s first aircraft, Betsy Beer prides itself in being the first-ever ale designed for high altitude.]]>
BetsyFI

Betsy Beer was crafted in partnership with Hong Kong Beer Company.

Betsy Beer was crafted in partnership with Hong Kong Beer Company.

Named after Cathay Pacific’s first aircraft, Betsy Beer prides itself in being the first-ever ale designed for high altitude. The beverage was developed with the modern traveler in mind, combining ingredients obtained from Hong Kong and its first destination: the United Kingdom. With New Territories-sourced honey, dragon fruit, and English Fuggle hop forming its distinctive flavor, Betsy seeks to “heighten the senses” in the face of cabin pressure.  “We know that when you fly, your sense of taste changes. Airlines address this for food in certain ways. But nobody has ever tried to improve the taste of beer at altitude. That seemed like a great opportunity for us to help our beer-loving passengers travel well,” says Cathay’s Julian Lyden.

A tasting panel helped to develop the beer's flavor combination.

A tasting panel helped to develop the beer’s flavor combination.

First and Business Class travelers flying between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom (London and Manchester) will be able to get a sip of this new innovation from March 1 until April 30, 2017. The beer will also be available at Cathay’s Hong Kong and London Heathrow lounges, select Swire-owned restaurants including Mr & Mrs Fox and Café Gray Deluxe, and online via Deli Delight.

For more information, visit Cathay Pacific.

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Theatrical Flair: An Open-air Bed Cinema in Sydneyhttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/theatrical-flair-sydneys-open-air-bed-cinema/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/theatrical-flair-sydneys-open-air-bed-cinema/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:22:12 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71909 FImovin-bed-movin-bed-open-air-cinema-movin-bed-picn1

Thanks to Mov'In Bed, moviegoers and film buffs will soon be able to take it outdoors and snuggle up in bed at the same time.]]>
FImovin-bed-movin-bed-open-air-cinema-movin-bed-picn1

Screenings will take place at The Crescent in Parramatta Park.

Screenings will take place at The Crescent in Parramatta Park.

Taking the outdoor cinema trend up a notch, Mov’In Bed allows moviegoers to immerse themselves in film as they snuggle up in bed under the stars. Next month, the open-air bed cinema will return to Parramatta—roughly 23 kilometers west of central Sydney—gracing the grass with 150 inflatable mattresses until April. Each bed is designed to fit up to three people, and will come with all the essentials for a cozy movie night: blankets, pillows, and funky bedside tables. Screenings will include everything from recent releases like La La Land, Arrival, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, to beloved animated films such as The Lion King, Spirited Away, and Aladdin. Modern day classic Se7en is also on the menu, as are The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Fifty Shades Darker. For the ultimate treat, order a glass of wine to go with your choice of flick.

For more information, visit Mov’In Bed.

Each bed will come fitted with a LED-lit bedside table.

Each bed will come fitted with a LED-lit bedside table.

There'll also be a variety of meal and refreshment options.

There’ll also be a variety of meal and refreshment options.

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Foraging for Mushrooms in Moroccohttp://www.destinasian.com/publications/foraging-for-mushrooms-in-morocco/ http://www.destinasian.com/publications/foraging-for-mushrooms-in-morocco/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 06:01:01 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71885 MoroccoFI

Foraging for mushrooms in the Rif Mountains near Chefchaouen yields precious insights into the local gastronomy and way of life.]]>
MoroccoFI

A basketful of chanterelles with wild lavender and other foraged herbs destined for the kitchen.

A basketful of chanterelles with wild lavender and other foraged herbs destined for the kitchen.

Fungi are plentiful in the forests of the western Rif Mountains, where wild ingredients have been a culinary staple since long before foraging became a buzzword among foodies.

Local forager and mushroom expert Mohammed Elafia in the mountains near Chefchaouen.

Local forager and mushroom expert Mohammed Elafia in the mountains near Chefchaouen.

Flashing a knowing smile, my guide
Mohammed Elafia ducked under a low branch, releasing a shower of raindrops onto the peaked cowl of his woolen djellaba. Then he disappeared through a tangled lattice of shrubs and bramble into the cork forest. The sky above was a whorl of charcoals and pearl grays, and the morning air here, 500 meters up in Morocco’s Rif Mountains, was chilly. Tender ferns sprouted from the loam, beards of moss dangled from twigs, and delicate purple and red flowers added pinpricks of spring color.

Hearing Mohammed’s son Abdelghani call my name, I scrambled down the wet slope until I spotted him under a cork tree, crawling on his hands and knees toward a chanterelle protruding from sodden leaf litter and acorn shells. Sweeping the base clear with his fingers, he cut around the stem with a paring knife and handed me the mushroom, smooth and a deep golden-yellow. Before placing it in my wicker basket, I inhaled the chanterelle’s pronounced fruity smell and caught strong notes of apricot. Abdelghani and I dug out another dozen or so fungi before moving on in slow pursuit, looking for the dull glint of gold among the woody browns of the forest floor.

As Africa’s northernmost range, the Rif forms an almost impenetrable arc along Morocco’s Mediterranean coast, stretching from Cape Spartel, at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, some 350 kilometers east toward the Algerian border. But it really starts about two hours southeast of Tangier, at Chefchaouen, where the mountains rise up dramatically. The
Rif was once called bled es-siba (“land of lawless-
ness”). Tamer now, the region remains the chief supplier of hashish to Europe. But, little known to most people—including many Moroccans—
the forests of the Rif also conceal 35 varieties of edible wild mushrooms.

Mohammed and his sons aren’t guides in the traditional tourism sense. They know the forests intimately because they graze the family’s goats there. And they know their mushrooms, too. Like many other young men in the nearby hamlets, when Abdelghani or his brothers are out with their flock, they sometimes pick up mushrooms to sell to a middleman who sends them on to Casablanca. Chanterelles, porcini, and black trumpets are the easiest to sell, along with valuable matsutake found in the cedar forests higher in the mountains. Some of these
are destined for restaurants in Morocco’s largest cities, others for European markets such as La Boqueria in Barcelona, where I live.

A few years ago, while I was working on a Moroccan cookbook, my wife, our two young daughters, and I stayed at Auberge Dardara, a guesthouse and restaurant near Chefchaouen. Joined by the owner, Jaber Elhabibi, and a handful of Moroccan guests from Casablanca and Rabat, we gathered mushrooms with Mohammed and another of his sons, Nafia. In just a few hours we filled our baskets with several varieties, including a type of coral fungus the size of a cauliflower. That visit whetted my appetite, and I had returned to forage during peak season. “You can find mushrooms here all the time,” Mohammed had told me, “but March is the best.”

I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, of venturing into the deepest reaches of the forest in search of wild fungi, but I love the spoils of the effort even more. On this return trip, I had also come to eat. Once Mohammed, Abdelghani, and I had collected two kilos or so of chanterelles and some porcini with bright yellow undercaps, the three of us headed back up the hill to the road. It wasn’t a great haul, but it was enough for a couple of meals.

Back at the Auberge Dardara, I took off my wet boots and sat down in the dining room for lunch. As I warmed up beside the flickering fire, I nibbled on wrinkled black olives and hunks of leavened bread with a crust coated in wheat chaffing. Soon came small dishes of chilled cooked carrots seasoned with cumin and paprika, a mash of roasted eggplant and red peppers called zaalouk, and fresh goat cheese—blended with olive oil, garlic, and oregano—that was light as mousse. These were followed by bessara, a simple, creamy puréed soup of dried fava 
beans. When I finished the bowl, I went into the 
kitchen to watch the chef, Mustapha Zaizoun, prepare the main course, a mushroom omelet.

Chef Mustapha Zaizoun in the kitchen at Auberge Dardara. His cooking epitomizes the cuisine of the western Rif in its use of wild herbs, olive oil pressed in tiny stone mills called maâsras, goat meat and fresh goat’smilk cheese, almonds, dried legumes and fruits, and—of course—mushrooms.

Chef Mustapha Zaizoun in the kitchen at Auberge Dardara. His cooking epitomizes the cuisine of the western Rif in its use of wild herbs, olive oil pressed in tiny stone mills called maâsras, goat meat and fresh goat’smilk cheese, almonds, dried legumes and fruits, and—of course—mushrooms.

Mustapha is mute, so the kitchen was almost silent as he used hand signs to give instructions to his two assistants. He thinly sliced some chanterelles, crushed cloves of garlic under the heel of his hand, and then sautéed both with fresh bay leaves. After whisking eggs (from a neighboring farm) with a generous pinch of cumin, he poured them into a skillet. Once they had set, he arranged the mushrooms and garlic on the eggs and added minced parsley and a sprig of rosemary.

A few moments later, Mustapha slid the omelet onto a plate and handed me a fork and knife. I took a bite. The mushrooms were delightfully toothsome, and as for the eggs, nothing better absorbs the flavors of the hills. Before I could eat more, though, Fatima, Mustapha’s assistant, snatched up the plate and insisted I go to the dining room and eat it properly.

As I lingered over a dessert of silken 
goat’s-milk yogurt topped with heather honey, Dardara’s owner, Jaber, joined me at the table for tea. Born and raised in Tangier, Jaber had returned to this area, where he had spent childhood vacations visiting his grandparents, and opened Dardara in 2000. Quiet and thoughtful, he wears frameless, square-lensed glasses, a thick beard, and a generous mustache that could be twisted into handlebars.

Before Jaber had finished his tea, we could see that the clouds had dissipated somewhat, and the hills rising above the auberge shone green in the afternoon light. “There is a forest of Aleppo pine trees where we might find Amanita caesarea,” he said. Caesar’s mushroom is one of the few edible amanitas and one of the most sought-after varieties in the forest. He would show me himself. He pulled a djellaba over his fleece vest, and I put on my wet boots.

Despite the momentary lull, heavy drops of rain splattered the windshield of Jaber’s car as we climbed 300 meters higher than the cork forest I had explored with Mohammed that morning. Even though it was the end of March, snow covered the tops of nearby hills. Across the valley, in a fading patch of sunlight, the white-and-blue-hued town of Chefchaouen huddled under a pair of twin mountain peaks.

Chefchaouen’s signature blue houses cascade down a hillside.

Chefchaouen’s signature blue houses cascade down a hillside.

Jaber pulled off the road and parked under a sheltering canopy of high-branching pine trees. We stepped out onto a springy carpet of pine needles and started looking immediately for the smooth reddish-orange caps of Amanita caesarea. As we did, Jaber identified the surrounding plants and shrubs and explained their numerous medicinal and culinary uses. His profound knowledge of the natural history of the region is matched by his deep feelings for it.

“In rural life, attachment to the land is key,” he said softly. “It is stronger when you go back to your ancestral land. The desire is stronger to preserve, to protect, to belong.” This is expressed in Jaber’s work with the international Slow Food movement and his commitment to using local products—honey collected from a cork hive in the forest, herbs gathered in the hills around Dardara—at the auberge. The local landscape has always been an important part of the Rifian larder. Indeed, long before foraging became fashionable among foodies from San Francisco to San Sebastián and Sydney, rural Moroccans were gathering what grows wild around them—for nourishment, medicine, and the variety of flavors.

Jaber took off his glasses and wiped away a misting of rain. The light was beginning to fade, muting the colors of the forest floor. A long-legged buzzard lifted off heavily from an overhead branch as we made our way back to the car. It had rained steadily for more than a week. A few days of sun, Jaber said, setting the empty basket in the trunk, and the amanitas would burst up through the needles. “When dealing with the weather, you must be patient.”

A bounty of edible mushrooms grows in the Rif Mountains, including a tasty type of coral fungus.

A bounty of edible mushrooms grows in the Rif Mountains, including a tasty type of coral fungus.

The porcini were a bit spongy, Mustapha indicated with his hands that evening when I was back in the kitchen watching him cook. He shrugged and proceeded to show me the best way to use mushrooms in this condition. He sautéed them quickly in hot olive oil with crushed garlic and bruised fresh bay leaves. Meter-high flames shot from the pan. After just a minute or two, he slid the mushrooms onto a small plate and we stabbed at them with toothpicks. Their texture had turned velvety, and hints of the garlic and bay graced their 
robust woodsy flavor.

Mustapha then began preparing a deceptively simple cream of chanterelle soup, made with potatoes, onions, and a handful of parsley plucked from the garden outside. When it was ready, I went into the dining room to enjoy the rich depth of the mushrooms’ natural flavors, which seemed to blossom from Mustapha’s light-handed treatment. Unmasked by other ingredients, the chanterelles, in contrast to the sautéed porcini, had a light earthy freshness and a slightly peppery finish.

While I was eating, Jaber came into the dining room. He knew a different forest where I might have luck finding Caesar’s mushrooms, he said, and he’d called another shepherd who would take me out in the morning. Maybe later, if the cedar groves weren’t snowbound, I could look for matsutakes. As I finished my soup, I was already imagining the wonderful things that 
Mustapha would do with those varieties.

Getting There

Tangier’s Ibn Battouta Airport is connected to several European cities, including Amsterdam, Paris, and London. From there, a private taxi will get you to the Chefchaouen area in under two hours.

Where to Stay

Situated about 11 kilometers south of Chefchaouen, Auberge Dardara has 21 rooms, six of which come with fireplaces—a welcome amenity if you’re visiting in the colder months. The restaurant here is considered the best in the region, and is a popular weekend lunch destination for day-trippers from Tangiers. Trekking and cooking classes are among the activities on offer (212-539/707-007; doubles from US$55, including breakfast).

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Mushroom Hunting in Morocco”).

 

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DestinAsian RCA 2017: Best Airports and Airlineshttp://www.destinasian.com/videos/destinasian-rca-2017-best-airports-and-airlines/ http://www.destinasian.com/videos/destinasian-rca-2017-best-airports-and-airlines/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 09:53:27 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71873 GettyImages-185277606

The top 5 airports and airlines in the Asia-Pacific region as voted by our readers.]]>
GettyImages-185277606

The top 5 airports in the Asia-Pacific region as voted by our readers:

  1. Singapore Changi Airport
  2. Hong Kong International Airport
  3. Dubai International Airport
  4. Incheon International Airport, Seoul
  5. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

Readers’ Take: “Changi Airport is a destination unto itself, with exciting shopping, dining, and entertainment options. And at what other airport in the world can you disembark from a plane and get into a taxi in less than 10 minutes?”

The top 5 airlines in the Asia-Pacific region as voted by our readers:

  • Singapore Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Qatar Airways
  • Thai Airways
  • Garuda Indonesia

Click here to check out the full RCA results.

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Finding Sanctuary in Bali’s Buzzing Southhttp://www.destinasian.com/themes/hotel-resorts/finding-sanctuary-in-balis-buzzing-south/ http://www.destinasian.com/themes/hotel-resorts/finding-sanctuary-in-balis-buzzing-south/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 03:30:13 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71850 JambuluwukFI

Jambuluwuk Oceano Seminyak Hotel's location in the heart of Seminyak makes it an obvious choice for a chic island getaway.]]>
JambuluwukFI

The Deluxe Premiere room.

The Deluxe Premiere room.

Recently opened on Petitenget Street in Bali’s buzzing south, Jambuluwuk Oceano Seminyak Hotel features 138 contemporary rooms that sport traditional Indonesian touches and custom-made furniture. The narrow street frontage belies its restrained elegance and comfort, with guest quarters overlooking two lush garden courtyards. On-site facilities include a main swimming pool, a rooftop sun deck and infinity pool, not to mention The Clubhouse, a cozy restaurant that offers superb sunset views. The hotel is also equipped with a playground for families traveling with kids, and the in-house spa, gym, and library provide additional ways for guests to relax. Its location in the heart of Seminyak makes Jambuluwuk an obvious choice for a chic getaway.

For more information, call 62/877-800-400-80 or visit Jambuluwuk Oceano Seminyak Hotel.

The lobby and reception area.

The lobby and reception area.

The Junior Suite.

The Junior Suite.

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Attarine Dishes Up Surprises with Chef’s Tablehttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/attarine-dishes-up-surprises-with-chefs-table/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/attarine-dishes-up-surprises-with-chefs-table/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:50:59 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71839 Attarine3

Dishes are kept a surprise until they’re served, making each session a real treat for both the Attarine team and hungry patrons.]]>
Attarine3

Chalkboard specials at Attarine.

Chalkboard specials at Attarine.

Cozy and laid-back, PTT Family’s contemporary dining venue Attarine “brings a world of spice” to a quaint corner of Jakarta’s leafy Gunawarman Street. Chef Jacob Burrell’s creativity and love for locally grown vegetables shine through at this months-old establishment, where the menu—which features playful reinterpretations of hearty dishes—is small yet ever-changing. In true PTT Family fashion, the space exudes an effortless charm, complete with soaring ceilings, hanging plants, colorful framed posters, and a vintage car parked right in the center of it all.

Inside Attarine.

Inside Attarine.

Those seeking a one-off experience will be glad to know that the restaurant has a monthly program called the Chef’s Table. Dishes are kept a surprise until they’re served, making each session a real treat for both the Attarine team and hungry patrons. What diners can continue to expect, though, is a multi-course meal of lovingly crafted off-menu specials, and generous pours of tipples to boot. This month’s nine-course, wine-paired feast was no exception: dishes included wood-fired octopus served with lemon puree, aged beef tomahawk, crispy chicken wings stuffed with prawns, and lemon sorbet infused with turmeric.

Chef Jacob Burrell and team.

Chef Jacob Burrell and team.

The limited number of spots makes the event all the more special, as does the casual counter seating by the open kitchen, as it allows guests to chat with the chefs as food is being prepared.

The Chef’s Table is priced at IDR 600,000 per person.

For more information, visit Attarine.

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Discovering Kaiping’s Architectural Legacyhttp://www.destinasian.com/publications/discovering-kaipings-architectural-legacy/ http://www.destinasian.com/publications/discovering-kaipings-architectural-legacy/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:30:54 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71817 KaipingFI

In the heartlands of Guangdong province, the watchtowers of Kaiping stand testament to an era of exchange between China and the West.]]>
KaipingFI

Arguably the most ornate of Kaiping’s diaolou, Ruishi Lou towers over the village of Jinjiang Li.

Arguably the most ornate of Kaiping’s diaolou, Ruishi Lou towers over the village of Jinjiang Li.

From the arcaded, movie-set-worthy streets of Chikan to the remarkable watchtowers that dot the countryside, the unique architectural legacy of Guangdong’s Kaiping County begs exploration.

I was standing at ground zero of China’s meteoric three-decade boom. With multi-layered highways snaking their way through a skyscraper jungle, it was hard to believe that this had once been rural land, dotted with ancestral halls, Taoist temples, and close-knit clan villages. Old Canton, long synonymous with opium and vice, had emerged from its socialist slumber as Guangzhou, the sprawling capital of China’s industrial deep south.

Soon my travel companions from Beijing—a graduate student named Danny Parrott and his effervescent girlfriend Lisha Tang—made their appearance. Lured by the promise of pastoral countryside and a singular architectural legacy, we hopped aboard an intercity coach that would take us westward through the manufacturing suburbs of the Pearl River Delta.

Much of Chikan’s architecture dates to the 1930s.

Much of Chikan’s architecture dates to the 1930s.

Our arrival at Kaiping City’s cheerless bus 
station a few hours later, however, deadened the air of expectation. Every billboard in town seemed to advertise water faucets of one kind or another. “They’re clearly in the tap business,” Danny said. Thankfully, we were headed to the old town of Chikan, 12 kilometers south of the city center. Lisha quickly negotiated a fare with a portly, Zhongnanhai cigarette–smoking taxi driver and ordered us into the back of the cab. As soon as we broke free of the grubby city limits the scene metamorphosed into one of luminous rice fields peppered by the remarkable structures known as diaolou.

To understand Kaiping’s unique appeal requires a brief explanation. The province of Guangdong, long considered a peripheral player in the grand Chinese drama, was wrenched onto the main stage after trade winds delivered Europeans to its shores in the 1600s. These gwailo (“ghost men”)—as the Cantonese dubbed the interlopers—brought along an influx of novel ideas. Be they religious, scientific, or, in the case of opium, addictive, all were abrasive forces on the fabric binding the Qing Empire together. As circumstances unraveled the region plunged into chaos, prompting enterprising Southerners to head overseas to try and reverse their misfortunes. Many emigrated from Guangdong’s impoverished Sze Yup (“Four Counties”) region, of which Kaiping is a part.

These émigrés built railroads, mined for gold, and opened restaurants, which comprise the core of Chinatowns to this day. Some filial sons came home, their pockets brimming with dollars, their minds filled with occidental pretentions. And out of this newfound wealth came the aforementioned diaolou, fortified residences and watchtowers that blend Western and Chinese architectural styles.

Today some 1,833 of the original 3,000 diaolou still dot rural Kaiping. They have survived the destructive excesses of the Mao years and the ravages of the southern climate, an enduring testament to a half-forgotten chapter in the annals of globalization.

For Danny, Lisha, and I, arriving in Chikan was like traveling back to the early 20th century.
Flanking the muddy Tan River, the town possesses some of the best qilou—Nationalist-era arcades—anywhere in the province, making it a ready-made film set for period pieces such as Let The Bullets Fly and The Grandmasters.

Chikan’s riverfront at night.

Chikan’s riverfront at night.

We checked in to a riverfront guesthouse, the congenial if oddly named Tribe of Diaomin,
before stepping out for a stroll. Crossing a nearby bridge brought us to an old, well-preserved library topped with a clock tower. The Situ clan, one of two families that dominated Chikan after its founding in 1649, had built it. The rival Guan clan was responsible for the buildings on the other side of the river. Next door, a lustrous quarter of town was cordoned off from prying tourists by a large gate. This, I later learned, was the Lingnan Film Studio, where scores of historical movies have been shot.

Yet it was exploring the backstreets that proved most rewarding. Though a few of the decaying old houses have been converted into cafés or antiques stores, Chikan remains a lived-in locale, with residents gossiping on street corners and chickens stalking the cobblestones.

After sunset we found an open-air restaurant by the river that served local delicacies—Lisha particularly enjoyed slurping river snails from their shells. Over bottles of Guangzhou-brewed Zhujiang lager, Danny wondered out loud why Kaiping hadn’t succumbed to the rampant commercialization that typically befalls Chinese historical sites, especially those inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We would ponder that for the rest of the trip.

The next day, knowing that my companions would sleep beyond noon, I set out on a bicycle to explore the diaolou alone. My first stop was Sanmenli village, home to the oldest one of them all: Yinglong Lou. Located down a network of narrow streets flanked by equally venerable-looking houses, the squat, thick-walled brick structure dates to the early Ming period, when it was built by a Guan clan patriarch as a communal refuge against marauding bandits. But its door was barred shut, and so, like some brigand from the past, I had to content myself with the views from outside.

The locked entrance to Yinglong Lou, a fortified refuge built in Ming times.

The locked entrance to Yinglong Lou, a fortified refuge built in Ming times.

Beyond Sanmenli I pedaled past a traditional fishpond, some sacred banyan trees, and burial sites into glorious open countryside, the diaolou appearing as islands adrift on a sea of whispering green. But as the sun grew stronger and gradually sapped my energy, I returned to Chikan, opting instead to visit more distant attractions by bus.

About 20 minutes southwest of town, the village of Jingjiang Li has the most bizarre cluster of fortified towers. Among them, Ruishi Lou best epitomizes the mélange of styles that defines diaolou architecture. Constructed in 1923 by Huang Bixiu—a villager who’d found success in Hong Kong as a merchant—it sports domed Renaissance-style turrets at each corner, baroque pediments, and ornate Chinese iconography. The name, which means “auspicious stone house,” is inscribed in bold black characters on a lintel above the arcaded veranda, while yellow and blue phoenix motifs adorn the upper levels.

I admired the towers from the rooftop terrace of the Jintiangu Rural Family Restaurant, which served up a hearty lunch of locally harvested vegetables and rice. The patron, Mrs. Wang, who at 65 said she still worked the land, shed some light on the region’s enduring connections to the outside world. “My neighbor opened a restaurant in the U.K. and my son works in the United States. Everyone here has family in Hong Kong or overseas.”

That evening, over barbecued corn and tofu washed down with more beer, Danny suggested that Kaiping’s far-flung diaspora might be the reason why it remained largely underdeveloped for tourism. “Maybe wealthy overseas Chinese don’t want to give up their ancestral homes to developers?”

“Or perhaps it’s just impossible to get them all in one place for a serious meeting about developing the region,” I replied.

Danny and Lisha had spent the afternoon visiting various diaolou clusters by taxi. Ever looking for the next business opportunity, Danny had cultivated the idea of opening a guesthouse. “They said it’s just 2,000 yuan a month to rent a whole tower! I might move here after I graduate and learn Cantonese.” Lisha, a northerner who didn’t adapt well to the humid southern climate, seemed less enamored with her partner’s latest get-rich-quick scheme.

Early the next morning I bussed out to another beautiful group of diaolou at Ma Jiang-long, a riverside village shrouded in a forest of star-fruit trees. Many are low-rise villas, and some retain their antique furnishings, like Junlu Villa, built by one Guan Chongjun upon his homecoming from Canada in 1936. Throughout Kaiping I was often reminded of the Chinese idiom “falling leaves return to their roots.”

An old-style villa kitchen in Ma Jianglong village.

An old-style villa kitchen in Ma Jianglong village.

I ended my tour with a sunset visit to the village of Zili, just north of Chikan. This cluster of Qing-dynasty watchtowers could have constituted a scene from medieval Europe, were it not for the boggy rice fields that surrounded them. It was Zili that adorned Kaiping’s tourist paraphernalia, and the village’s fame had brought the inevitable trappings of mass tourism: an expensive admission fee, garish walkways, and stores selling tchotchkes to groups of snap-happy sightseers. Despite all this, Zili struck me as a living, breathing place, still inhabited by the 63 families that called these remarkable towers home. Content that something of old Guangdong survived even here, I walked back across the twilit rice fields and caught the last bus bound for Chikan.

One of a cluster of diaolou in the fields of Zili village.

One of a cluster of diaolou in the fields of Zili village.

Getting There

Kaiping is a two-hour bus ride from Guangzhou’s Fangcun Station, on Line 1 of the Guangzhou Metro; coaches depart several times a day.

Where to Stay

Kaiping is not, alas, home to much in the way of good accommodation. The best bet in Kaiping City is the riverside Pan Tower International Hotel (86-750/233-3333; doubles from US$55), while in Chikan, the Tribe of Diaomin (126 Henan Rd.; 86-750/261-6222; en-suite rooms from US$42) offers spartan if clean rooms with the added perks of on-site bike rental and a bar stocked with German beer. Day-tripping from Jiangmen, an hour’s 
drive away, is another option—the two-year-
old Wanda Realm Jiangmen (86-750/387-7777; doubles from US$100) is undoubtedly the closest international-standard hotel to Kaiping’s diaolou-dotted countryside.

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Period Drama”).

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World Gourmet Summit Returns for Its 21st Editionhttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/world-gourmet-summit-returns-for-its-21st-edition/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/world-gourmet-summit-returns-for-its-21st-edition/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 09:38:01 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71805 FI

This year’s event will be held under the theme of United Nations Gastronomic Assembly at over 30 establishments across Singapore.]]>
FI

Charcuterie board at Salted and Hung.

Charcuterie board at Salted and Hung.

Returning to Singapore for its 21st edition from March 20 to April 16, 2017, the World Gourmet Summit is a prestigious event that’s dedicated to showcasing the best of the culinary industry, from innovative epicurean delights and unique gastronomic experiences to homegrown talent and world-renowned Masterchefs. This year’s event will be held under the theme of United Nations Gastronomic Assembly at over 30 dining establishments across Singapore, bringing some of the most influential figures in the field to the Lion City, including Swiss master butcher Grill Ueli, Mitch Lienhard of the three Michelin-starred Manresa in California, and Japanese pastry chef Kiriko Nakamura. Gourmet events will range from a Mezcal degustation masterclass at El Mero Mero to a craft beer dinner at Australian contemporary restaurant Salted and Hung, serving various cuisines and offering something for every taste bud.

For more information, visit World Gourmet Summit.

One of the dishes served at El Mero Mero.

One of the dishes served at El Mero Mero.

Last year's culinary masterclass and luncheon at Miele.

Last year’s culinary masterclass and luncheon at Miele.

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The Fullerton Hotels Launch Special Dealshttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/travel-deals/the-fullerton-hotels-launch-special-deals/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/travel-deals/the-fullerton-hotels-launch-special-deals/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 07:50:28 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71795 FICourtyard-RoomFullertonHotel

The brand has recently unveiled two special offers, allowing guests to enjoy perks at The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel.]]>
FICourtyard-RoomFullertonHotel

The Courtyard Room at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

The Courtyard Room at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

Staycationers and travelers heading to Singapore can now delight in The Fullerton Hotels’ recently unveiled deals: the Krisflyer Offer and the Weekend Special. Thanks to the luxury brand’s partnership with Singapore Airlines, those staying at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore (rates in a Courtyard Room start from US$245 a night) and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore (rates in a Deluxe Room start from US$373 a night) for at least two nights between February 1 and April 30, 2017 can earn as many as 1,000 miles. Meanwhile, weekend warriors will rejoice in the fact that The Fullerton Hotel Singapore’s special package entails buffet breakfast for two at the Town Restaurant, a 20% discount on spa treatments, 30% off à la carte dining, access to the hotel’s handy phone with unlimited data, free internet connection, and complimentary heritage tours. Available on select weekends in February and March 2017, the offer also entitles guests to enjoy savings of up to 20% on the best available rates.

For more information, visit The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore.

The Deluxe Room at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore.

The Deluxe Room at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore.

The Presidential Suite at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

The Presidential Suite at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

The Premier Bay View Room at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore.

The Premier Bay View Room at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore.

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DestinAsian RCA 2017: Best Citieshttp://www.destinasian.com/videos/destinasian-rca-2017-best-cities/ http://www.destinasian.com/videos/destinasian-rca-2017-best-cities/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 10:26:20 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71782 BangkokFI

The top 10 cities in the Asia-Pacific region as voted by our readers.]]>
BangkokFI

The top 10 cities in the Asia-Pacific region as voted by our readers:

  1. Bangkok
  2. Singapore
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Tokyo
  5. Taipei
  6. Seoul
  7. Kyoto
  8. Hanoi
  9. Chiang Mai
  10. Siem Reap

Click here to check out the full RCA results.

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Highlight: Fun-filled Family Holidays in Koh Samuihttp://www.destinasian.com/themes/highlights/highlight-fun-filled-family-holidays-in-koh-samui/ http://www.destinasian.com/themes/highlights/highlight-fun-filled-family-holidays-in-koh-samui/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 10:19:30 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71558 InterConFI

With a wealth of activities on offer, the InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort is the perfect family holiday destination.]]>
InterConFI

Family fun at InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort.

Family fun at InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort.

With 79 elegantly-appointed guest quarters, jaw-dropping views of the Gulf of Thailand, notable in-house dining establishments, an exclusive wellness center, and a wealth of fun-filled activities, the InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort offers something for everyone. The lavish resort occupies a whopping 22 acres of land, luring adults and children alike with seven swimming pools, a private beach, and resort activities aplenty.

Muted elegance inside the Club Napa Reserve Three-Bedroom Residence.

Muted elegance inside the Club Napa Reserve Three-Bedroom Residence.

Parents will be drawn to the signature treatments at the award-winning Baan Thai Spa by HARNN, which boasts four private massage quarters and magnificent views of Taling Ngam Bay. Here, treatments take their inspiration from the island’s history and long-standing traditions, utilizing local elements and natural ingredients to restore balance to the mind and body. Meanwhile, at the InterContinental’s Signature Planet Trekkers Kids Club, the little ones are kept busy with a plethora of programs that range from beach soccer and cooking classes to fishing and plaster model painting. There’s even a nanny service for kids under the age of four to ensure that all parents can indulge in some downtime and personal pampering. For something more fast-paced, opt for one of the resort’s recreational activities. Water sports enthusiasts can explore Koh Samui’s natural wonders through sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and snorkeling, while fitness lovers will be able to work up a sweat at the on-site gym and sign up for tai chi and Thai boxing classes.

Inside the Planet Trekkers Kids Club.

Inside the Planet Trekkers Kids Club.

Hungry for a culinary adventure? Sample some of Thailand’s most well-loved delicacies and gastronomic delights at InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort’s incredible restaurants. Amber gives a playful spin on a wide variety of Thai classics, serving up innovative dishes in a space adorned with local crafts, mood lighting, and sweeping vistas of the Gulf of Thailand. Over at Flames, a tantalizing seafood and charcoal grill display beckons with unlimited and customizable options, while Fireside invites guests to enjoy some quality time with their loved ones by a beach bonfire.

Relaxing on the beach.

Relaxing on the beach.

There’s no better time than the present to reconnect with your nearest and dearest on a luxurious escape. Book a stay in a Club Two-Bedroom Residence Villa or a Club Napa Reserve Three-Bedroom Residence Villa and enjoy airport transfers, private butler service, complimentary afternoon tea, free evening cocktails, and other Club InterContinental Privileges. Better still, opt for the Family Getaway offer and delight in a free two-hour daily babysitting service, a one-hour therapeutic body massage for two, free access to the resort’s kids’ club, and complimentary meals for the little ones.

This post was published in partnership with InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort. Bookings can be made on the resort’s website, via e-mail (icsamui.rsvn@ihg.com), or by phone (+66 (0)7742 9104).

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DestinAsian RCA 2017: Best Islandshttp://www.destinasian.com/videos/destinasian-rca-2017-best-islands/ http://www.destinasian.com/videos/destinasian-rca-2017-best-islands/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 07:04:54 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71769 BestIslands

The top 10 islands in the Asia-Pacific region as voted by our readers.]]>
BestIslands

The top 10 islands in the Asia-Pacific region as voted by our readers:

  1. Bali
  2. Phuket
  3. Maldives
  4. Koh Samui
  5. Boracay
  6. Palawan
  7. Langkawi
  8. Koh Phi Phi
  9. Penang
  10. Lombok

Readers’ Take: “In Bali you can make your island holiday whatever you want it to be: yoga and spa-going, shopping until you drop, enjoying fancy restaurants and cocktail bars, or surfing and lazing on the beach. Or a little bit of everything!”

Click here to check out the full RCA results.

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Beachside Bliss at Hilton Bali Resorthttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/beachside-bliss-at-hilton-bali-resort/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/beachside-bliss-at-hilton-bali-resort/#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2017 09:29:28 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71755 HiltonFI

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has returned to Bali with the recent opening of an 11-hectare property in the beach enclave of Nusa Dua.]]>
HiltonFI

An overview of Hilton Bali Resort.

An overview of Hilton Bali Resort.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has returned to Bali with the recent opening of an 11-hectare property in the beach enclave of Nusa Dua. Occupying what was once the Grand Nikko, Hilton Bali Resort offers 389 guest rooms and suites, many of which feature Indian Ocean views from their private balconies. For more exclusive getaways, its 19 villas are equipped with a private plunge pool, gazebo, and separate living area, with round-the-clock butler service and access to the Nusa Dua Villa Lounge. Apart from lounging on one of Bali’s most beautiful beaches, guests can also make use of four interconnected swimming pools, a Mandara Spa, and three indoor tennis courts, not to mention a sauna and gym.

For more information, visit Hilton Bali Resort.

The resort occupies the grounds where the Grand Nikko once stood.

The resort occupies the grounds where the Grand Nikko once stood.

Overlooking Sawangan Beach.

Overlooking Sawangan Beach.

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Delta and Coca-Cola’s Art Gallery Takes to the Skieshttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/airline-news/delta-and-coca-colas-art-gallery-takes-to-the-skies/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/airline-news/delta-and-coca-colas-art-gallery-takes-to-the-skies/#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2017 08:20:00 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71744 FI

Plain tray tables have been transformed into imaginative artworks, adding a splash of color to the airline’s 767 aircraft.]]>
FI

Seoul by Yulia Brodskaya.

Seoul by Yulia Brodskaya.

Delta’s latest project with Coca-Cola is truly a sight for sore eyes: plain tray tables on the airline’s 767 aircraft have been transformed into imaginative artworks, graced with vivid hues and playful illustrations that celebrate the best of travel. Each in-flight tray table from the airline’s “art gallery”—which was launched in collaboration with a group of international artists—seeks to capture the energy of a particular city from Delta’s ever-expanding global route network. Artist Noma Bar perfectly portrays London’s notoriously unpredictable weather in his work, while Paola Gracey uses glitter, paint drips, and epoxy resin to represent Tokyo’s neon-lit streets and fast-paced lifestyle. In Sac Magique’s depiction of Amsterdam, the city’s icons—Dutch waffles, tulips, cyclists—take center stage, each one contributing to the work’s overall whimsical flair. Meanwhile, Yulia Brodskaya’s Seoul stands out for its innovative technique and medium: made entirely from paper, the piece depicts the South Korean capital’s soaring cityscape, robust culinary scene, and vibrant atmosphere. The original trays will be displayed at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport alongside an exclusive behind-the-scenes video.

For more information, visit Delta.

Amsterdam by Sac Magique.

Amsterdam by Sac Magique.

Tokyo by Paola Gracey.

Tokyo by Paola Gracey.

Los Angeles by Stevie Gee.

Los Angeles by Stevie Gee.

London by Noma Bar.

London by Noma Bar.

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SING JAZZ Returns with a Banghttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/upcoming-events/highlight-sing-jazz-returns-with-a-bang/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/upcoming-events/highlight-sing-jazz-returns-with-a-bang/#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2017 04:33:15 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71506 SingJazz2FI

The Singapore International Jazz Festival is set to make its return, and it’s gearing up to be bigger and better than ever.]]>
SingJazz2FI

The three-day event will be held at Marina Bay Sands from March 31 to April 2, 2017.

The three-day event will be held at Marina Bay Sands from March 31 to April 2, 2017.

The Singapore International Jazz Festival (SING JAZZ) is set to make its return to the Lion City, and it’s gearing up to be bigger and better than ever. Held at the Event Plaza at Marina Bay Sands from March 31 to April 2, 2017, the festival will boast an incredible lineup, inviting music lovers and enthusiasts to delight in 30 hours of pure melodic bliss. Getting the show on the road on Friday night is multiple Grammy Award-winning Corrine Bailey Rae, whose most recent album, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, debuted at No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B chart. Another big name in the festival’s star-studded mix is world-renowned music producer and songwriter David Foster, who will be gracing the stage with R&B superstar Brian McKnight and living legend Chaka Khan. Other acts include performances by funk bassist and vocalist Nik West, Senegalese musician Youssou Ndour & Le Super Etoile de Dakar, and singer-songwriter and guitarist Raúl Midón.

David Foster will perform alongside Brian McKnight, Chaka Khan, and other big names.

David Foster will perform alongside Brian McKnight, Chaka Khan, and other big names.

What’s more, the three-day festival has also expanded to include The Late Show, a brand new after-party segment that combines an intimate VIP table service with electrifying live performances by various international DJs and artists. Taking place from 10 p.m. at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre, this freshly minted program is perfect for those who can’t get enough and wish to linger until the break of dawn. Get lost in the groovy beats of British acid jazz band Incognito and electronic music duo Basement Jaxx, then dance your heart out to Rudimental DJ Set’s rip-roaring hits and bassist Esperanza Spalding’s masterful fusion of rockfunk, and jazz.

SING JAZZ will mark Rudimental DJ Set's first performance in the city-state.

SING JAZZ will mark Rudimental DJ Set’s first performance in the city-state.

Now in its fourth year, SING JAZZ has brought some of the most iconic figures in the industry, from Chris Botti and Jamie Cullum to Jessie J and India.Arie. But even more impressive is the festival’s dedication to giving back: proceeds from each show go towards the Foundation for The Arts & Social Enterprise, supporting local musicians and helping up-and-coming artists to find their feet.

This post was published in partnership with Singapore International Jazz Festival.

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Exploring London’s Historic Regent’s Canalhttp://www.destinasian.com/publications/exploring-londons-historic-regents-canal/ http://www.destinasian.com/publications/exploring-londons-historic-regents-canal/#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2017 03:34:59 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71727 LondonFI

The quiet rebirth of Regent's Canal hasn't gone unnoticed to Londoners seeking a respite from the clamor of the city center.]]>
LondonFI

The Regent’s Canal near King’s Cross.

The Regent’s Canal near King’s Cross.

Thriving again thanks to an influx of cafés, bars, and art galleries, London’s historic Regent’s Canal is where in-the-know Londoners now go for a serene waterside escape.

Photographs by Martin Westlake

The original vision, as architect John Nash saw it, was one of “barges moving through an urban landscape,” facilitating commerce via an expansive waterway cut directly through London that would link Paddington Arm (a branch of the Grand Union Canal) with Limehouse Basin and the River Thames to the east. Construction began on Regent’s Canal in 1812 under the supervision of Nash, who by the end of his illustrious career had also designed such London landmarks as the Marble Arch, Regent’s Park, and parts of Buckingham Palace.

Nash opened Regent’s Canal to great fanfare in 1820—and at a final cost more than twice the original estimate. Spanning nearly 14 kilometers from end to end, the waterway became populated with long river barges transporting building supplies and assorted sundries inland to areas that included Camden, Islington, and Hackney. Narrow towpaths lined the canal to accommodate the horses that pulled the barges. These were, in fact, perhaps too narrow, to judge by the short stone ramps built to help any horse that fell into the water get back to shore.

Regent’s Canal at Islington’s Colebrooke Row.

Regent’s Canal at Islington’s Colebrooke Row.

Though commercially viable for a time, the canal felt the inevitable squeeze of modernization as early as 1845, when an attempt was made to convert it into a railway. By the time small tractors replaced horses on the towpaths in the mid-1950s, improved roads and railways had rendered Regent’s Canal’s trade viability obsolete. The last shipping barge sailed the canal in 1969.

After a period of disuse, however, the canal again thrives, though in ways Nash could not have possibly envisioned nearly 200 years ago.

The view from Canal No. 5, an old brick pump house turned restaurant in Islington.

The view from Canal No. 5, an old brick pump house turned restaurant in Islington.

Supplanting the horse (and tractor) traffic of yesteryear, today it is runners, bicyclists, bird watchers, and dog walkers jockeying for precious little towpath space as Regent’s Canal settles into its second life as a serene escape within the city. Hidden by ivied brick walls and modern housing developments in some parts, shrouded by loping willow trees and holly-decked bramble thickets in others, the canal is far removed from London’s touristy center. From pleasant Little Venice, near Paddington Station, to beloved East London green space Victoria Park, where the canal veers south to Limehouse Basin, canal-goers will discover scores of old wood-burning houseboats, the birdsong of chirping blue tits and wrens, and the many merchants contributing to Regent’s Canal’s ongoing rejuvenation.

Summertime cinemas, pop-up art shows and shops, and for-hire party boats are among the resourceful barge businesses trolling the canal these days. Some, such as mobile vinyl specialists The Record Deck, keep customers updated with their mooring locations on social media; others, like British seafood restaurant London Shell Co. and booksellers Word on the Water, have semi-permanent anchor points.

Browsing the bookshelves at Word on the Water.

Browsing the bookshelves at Word on the Water.

Paddy Screech is one of three business partners managing the floating bookshop, which is housed in a refitted Dutch barge that’s more than 100 years old. “Our captain, Noy, brought the boat from Rotterdam intending to sell it in London, but he fell in love with it and unconsciously told those who came to view it everything that was wrong with it to put them off,” Screech says. “When we presented our plan of opening a bookshop he jumped at the chance.”

Shelves at Word on the Water, London’s only water-bound bookshop, are stacked with an engaging collection of literary gems, creative non-fiction, children’s literature and, in Screech’s words, “books that convey the wisdom that only a life of great challenge can generate.” Screech and his partners have all lived in barges, too—more than 10,000 Londoners, in fact, now call the canals home. “It’s a parallel, entirely different way of experiencing the city—in it, but not entirely of it,” says Screech. “People are friendly here, and greet each other in the way that they would on a countryside lane in Devon.”

At Bert’s Barges, visitors can experience a slice of that canal life with overnight stays aboard London’s first barge hotel. Managed by bespoke design company Bert & May, the cozy one-bedroom boat includes a full kitchen, bathroom, and roomy living area with a wood-burning stove. The quiet site, accessed via the company’s showroom in Bethnal Green, couldn’t be much more picturesque—a canalside entrance to Victoria Park is visible through the bedroom window.

A barista at café and bar Barge House.

A barista at café and bar Barge House.

Back on land, Regent’s Canal has seen an influx of trendy cafés, bars, and art galleries move in canalside to capitalize on the increase in foot traffic from new office spaces and condos. Barge House is packed daily with creative types sipping coffee from East London roasters Climpson & Sons and brunching on modern British comfort foods like wine-braised beef and baked eggs with oyster mushrooms and black pudding. It’s in De Beauvoir Town, near Kingsland Basin and a crop of other eateries and
 galleries, including curator Monika Bobinska’s indie art space CANAL.

Following a closure of more than two years for extensive renovations, the former Pumphouse Café reopened in mid-2016 as Canal No. 5 
(44/7883-168376). Occupying one of the canal’s old brick pumping facilities on a pretty corner of Islington, the revamped restaurant has one entrance for coffees and cakes, and another for its intimate dining room, which features original brick walls and vintage wooden furnishings. Expect a small but considered menu of soups, sandwiches, and classic breakfast platters.

Last August, the pop-up street-food market specialists at KERB landed for good in a massive canalside courtyard in Camden. KERB Camden Market, open 364 days a year, is home to 34 vendors hawking everything from slow-cooked barbecue and Indian-style roti wraps to Taiwanese bento boxes and loaded bowls of gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese. Hanna Soderlund is the founder of Kimchinary, where the grilled Korean-style burritos—moreish umami bombs stuffed with fillings that include braised ox cheek, pulled pork, and kimchi rice—are consistently voted one of London’s favorite street eats. “This is the first permanent home for many of us, and the chance to set down roots in an iconic place like Camden is an amazing step forward,” Soderlund says. “Having London’s best street foods here seven days a week is brilliant.”

The Kimchinary outlet at KERB Camden Market.

The Kimchinary outlet at KERB Camden Market.

Kimchinary and the rest of the KERB Camden crew aren’t the only street-food purveyors to have found a home on the canal last year. A joint venture between the founders of Italo-American sandwich makers Capish? and craft brewery  The Five Points, Scandic-cool Mason & Company is among the handful of bars and restaurants at Here East in Hackney Wick, on the River Lee Navigation, which connects to the Regent’s via a smaller canal. Here, around 20 draft beers pair with a snack-friendly selection of Italian eats like deep-fried spaghetti bites, a meatball hero, and eggplant parmesan.

It may not have turned into the shipping thoroughfare that he intended, but John Nash would certainly be proud of what his canal has become.

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“A Canal Runs through It”).

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Emirates Unveils New Luxe Amenitieshttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/airline-news/emirates-unveils-new-luxe-amenities/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/airline-news/emirates-unveils-new-luxe-amenities/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2017 09:00:59 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71717 AirlineNewsFI

Thanks to a range of new luxe amenities, long-haul overnight flights with Emirates have just gotten even more comfortable.]]>
AirlineNewsFI

Spa products by Voya.

Spa products by Voya.

Long-haul overnight flights with Emirates have just gotten even more comfortable. In first class, travelers receive a faux sheep-skin blanket and moisturizing lounge wear that keeps the skin hydrated, using microcapsule technology that works for up to 10 washes. Meanwhile, the airline has rolled out a variety of spa products from Irish luxury brand Voya, available in the A380 shower spa and washrooms throughout first and business class. Emirates has also partnered with Bulgari to create a new range of amenity kits, containing Bulgari’s woody floral fragrance—Eau Parfumée au thé noir—and skincare essentials to keep passengers fresh throughout the flight.

For more information, visit Emirates.

Emirates' first class amenities for women.

Emirates’ first class amenities for women.

Emirates' first class amenities for men.

Emirates’ first class amenities for men.

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Sunny Side Up to Return in Augusthttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/sunny-side-up-to-return-in-august/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/sunny-side-up-to-return-in-august/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2017 04:10:54 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71711 SunnySideUpFI

Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival is due to make its return to Bali's beloved Potato Head Beach Club for its fourth edition.]]>
SunnySideUpFI

The event will take place from August 11 to August 12, 2017.

The event will take place from August 11 to August 12, 2017.

Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival is due to make its return to Bali for its fourth edition. Kicking off on August 11, 2017, the annual two-day music festival—which has previously brought the likes of Disclosure, Azealia Banks, Mark Ronson, Ellie Goulding, Flight Facilities, and Jessie Ware to the Indonesian island—promises a solid lineup of both local and international talent, as well as a wide variety of food and drink stalls. The event will once again take place at the island’s Potato Head Beach Club, a beloved hot spot that boasts top libations, unique dining experiences (check out the recently opened  Kaum restaurant here), an infinity pool, and sweeping vistas of the Indian Ocean. Behind it lies Katamama, a 58-suite hotel that makes an ideal base for festival-goers and travelers.

For more information, visit Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival.

An official teaser of the festival is available here.

An official teaser of the festival is available here.

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Egypt from Outer Spacehttp://www.destinasian.com/publications/egypt-from-outer-space/ http://www.destinasian.com/publications/egypt-from-outer-space/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 10:50:24 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71704 Snapshot2

A photo taken from the International Space Station by a member of Russian-led Expedition 36 gives an astronaut’s-eye view of Egypt.]]>
Snapshot2

An astronaut’s-eye view of Egypt.

An astronaut’s-eye view of Egypt.

As far back as the fourth century B.C., Greek historian Herodotus observed that Egypt was “an acquired country, the gift of the Nile,” owing its very survival to the life-giving waters flowing down from a mysterious source, now identified as the Ethiopian highlands and three African Great Lakes. Even today the population of modern Egypt remains concentrated in the Nile Delta and a narrow ribbon of fertile land snaking through the inhospitable desert. This photo—taken from the International Space Station by a member of Russian-led Expedition 36—gives an astronaut’s-eye view of it all.

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Out of This World”).

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Old Meets New at Villa Samadhi Singaporehttp://www.destinasian.com/publications/old-meets-new-at-villa-samadhi-singapore/ http://www.destinasian.com/publications/old-meets-new-at-villa-samadhi-singapore/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 10:18:17 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71657 VillaSamadhi2FI

Tucked away in the jungle thickets of Labrador Nature Reserve, the hotel’s greatest pleasure is the surrounding tropical greenery.]]>
VillaSamadhi2FI

Villa Samadhi's top-tier Luxe Sarang suite.

Villa Samadhi’s top-tier Luxe Sarang suite.

“Authenticity,” the buzzword du jour in ho­tel circles these days, is an ideal that’s been admirably captured by the 20-room Villa Samadhi. Tucked away in the midst of the jungle thickets of Labrador Nature Reserve, the two-story prewar pile was, at various points in its life, an army garrison and a boys’ school. It took the Italian-born and Malaysia-based restaurateur and hotelier Federico Asaro six years to gently rehabili­tate the property, dressing the spaces with a shabby-chic mix of rescued opium beds, antique armoires, bamboo screens, salvaged timber, and worn coolie chairs. The subway-tiled bathrooms of the upper-category rooms feature deep plunge pools, but the hotel’s greatest pleasure is the surrounding tropical greenery, so dense and, in its unruly wildness, so evocative of a scene straight out of a Somerset Maugham novella. A twisting timber walkway cuts through the jungle floor to a grand colonial bungalow that’s now home to Tamarind Hill restaurant, a Thai off-shoot of the popular Kuala Lumpur flagship (20 Labrador Villa Rd.; 65/6270-1868; villasamadhi.com.sg; doubles from US$270).

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Nods to the Past: Villa Samadhi Singapore”).

The lounge area.

The lounge area.

The hotel's facade.

The hotel’s facade.

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Riverside Luxury at The Warehouse Hotel Singaporehttp://www.destinasian.com/publications/waterfront-luxury-at-the-warehouse-hotel-singapore/ http://www.destinasian.com/publications/waterfront-luxury-at-the-warehouse-hotel-singapore/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 10:16:43 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71685 The-Warehouse-Hotel_Riverview_Room_Lowres_2000px_270916

After a tip-to-toe makeover, the trio of riverside godowns at Robertson Quay now beckons as a sexy 37-room boutique hotel.]]>
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The Warehouse Hotel's facade.

The Warehouse Hotel’s facade.

Since being built in the late 19th-century, the trio of riverside godowns at Robertson Quay has gone through various incarnations—first as spice warehouses, then as secret society nests and moonshine distilleries, and, for a brief shining moment in the mid-1980s, a wildly popular disco. Now, after a tip-to-toe makeover by architecture studio Zarch and interior design firm Asylum, the buildings have been imaginatively refurbished as a sexy 37-room boutique hotel. From the street, the peaked-roof exterior is somewhat unprepossessing, but the interiors open up TARDIS-like into a vast, moodily lit lobby of brass trims, exposed brickwork, and bev­elled stone wall panels. This is flanked by a sunken bar and Po, a restaurant helmed by local chef Willin Low that serves up tradi­tional fare like popiah, vegetarian rolls laced with sweet sauce, garlic, and braised turnips. Upstairs, the rooms are dressed in muted hues of rattan, raw concrete and leather, but the biggest treat is the elongated glass box of a swimming pool up on the rooftop (320 Havelock Rd.; 65/6828-0000; thewarehousehotel.com; doubles from US$205).

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Nods to the Past: The Warehouse Hotel”).

The Warehouse Hotel's lobby.

The Warehouse Hotel’s lobby.

Inside the River View Room.

Inside the River View Room.

Inside the River View Suite.

Inside the River View Suite.

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Brisbane Has a New Arcade Barhttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/brisbane-has-a-new-arcade-bar/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/brisbane-has-a-new-arcade-bar/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 08:49:13 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71675 BrisbaneFI

Freshly minted Netherworld offers everything from arcade machines and gaming relics to top tipples and gluten-free bar bites.]]>
BrisbaneFI

Each machine at Netherworld costs AU$1 to play.

Each machine at Netherworld costs AU$1 to play.

Located in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, freshly minted Netherworld is already making waves. The new establishment is undoubtedly a gamer’s paradise: it’s fitted out with 15 pinball machines, gaming relics that date all the way back to the 1970s, classic consoles, 25 arcade machines, and an ever-growing collection of board games, creating an overall retro feel and sending a pleasant pang of nostalgia to those who walk through its doors. Aside from a trivia night every Wednesday, diversions include regular pinball events, movie screenings, and live entertainment.

On top of 24 taps of local beer and cider, Netherworld also offers handcrafted cocktails and sodas. Food wise, culinary offerings at the bar’s Hellmouth Diner are “extremely gluten-free and vegan-friendly” despite their cheeky names. Dishes include mac and cheese, a bowl of udon noodles in a cheesy miso and sriracha sauce; and hellhound hot dog, which features vegetarian sausage, kimchi pickles, red cabbage kraut, and fried shallots.

Inside Netherworld.

Inside Netherworld.

“We’ve seen hoards of folks come down to play board games with friends over a few pints of beer, partners taking Point Blank way too seriously, parents bringing their kids in to show them the games they played in their day, hungry dwellers navigating the Hellmouth Diner’s menu, and solo adventurers coming down to spend hours straight quietly playing pinball.”

Nestled on 186 Brunswick Street, Netherworld is open Tuesday to Sunday from midday until late.

For more information, visit Netherworld.

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Scrumptious Sojourns Aboard Rascalhttp://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/scrumptious-sojourns-aboard-rascal/ http://www.destinasian.com/blog/news-briefs/scrumptious-sojourns-aboard-rascal/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 04:05:46 +0000 http://www.destinasian.com/?p=71666 RascalFI

Treat your taste buds as you sail across Indonesian waters aboard Rascal, the country's new cutting-edge Phinisi superyacht.]]>
RascalFI

Rascal's upper deck.

Rascal’s upper deck.

East meets West aboard Indonesia’s 31-meter Phinisi superyacht, which boasts tailor-made private excursions, five double en-suite guest cabins with all the mod cons, a clutch of spacious communal spaces, and tasty culinary offerings. Décor wise, Rascal takes her cues from Hamptons-style beach houses, yet traces of the yacht’s meticulous three-year construction process—which made use of traditional techniques on Indonesian soil—remain evident.

Breakfast in bed.

Breakfast in bed.

Helmed by the folks behind Bali’s beloved Milk & Madu, Watercress, Ulekan Indonesian Cuisine, and Shmurger Burger, Rascal’s menu seeks to promote healthy eating without sacrificing taste. Wake up to an assortment of fresh fruit, pastries, and granola bowls as you prepare for a day of water based adventures. Those craving something a little bit more indulgent should go for the breakfast-in-bed option, which includes omelette and buttermilk hotcakes. By lunchtime, you’ll get to enjoy a barbecue with sand between your toes. Expect a spread of bruschetta with cherry tomato and Spanish onions, and grilled mahi-mahi with Watercress’ signature salad on the side. Dinner promises to be as memorable of an affair, with dishes like fire-roasted leek and chicken soup, and sunset views to boot. On movie nights, passengers can enjoy wine-cheese pairings or sweet treats like salted caramel and chocolate mousse. Special occasions won’t go unnoticed—celebrate with an all-day feast of fresh seafood and salads, and wash it down with a cocktail or two.

Enjoying a meal aboard Rascal.

Enjoying a meal aboard Rascal.

Available only for private charters, Rascal’s nightly rates start from US$8,500. Those who book a three-night charter will get a fourth night free, provided that they make their bookings by the end of February for trips between now and June 2017.

For more information, visit Rascal.

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