Five of Our Favorite Stories from 2021

We look back at a few highlights of DestinAsian’s print issues published over the course of the past year.

Left to right: Johnny Murison of Jarramali Rock Art Tours; Jarramali guests listening to didgeridoo music around a campfire. (Photos courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland)

Seeing Queensland through an Aboriginal Lens

Our Sydney-based contributing editor Natasha Dragun recently traveled the length of Australia’s Sunshine State in search of travel operators and tourism experiences that shine a light on its rich indigenous heritage. Follow along as she joins Jarramali Rock Art Tours for a short camping trip in tropical north Queensland, takes a guided walk in the protected rain forests of Daintree National Park, embarks on a cultural cruise in the Great Barrier Reef, and visits an Aboriginal-focused restaurant and art gallery in Brisbane.

 

Left to right: The gardens of Ijen Resort & Villas overlook terraced rice fields and the distant volcanic cone of Mount Ranti; a villa bedroom at the same resort. (Photos: Martin Westlake)

The Hidden Charms of Java’s Wild East

Relatively little known compared to neighboring Bali, which lies just across a narrow strait, the Indonesian regency of Banyuwangi has plenty to offer those with a taste for adventure: trekkers are drawn to its jaw-dropping volcanic scenery (headlined by Mount Ijen), while seasoned surfers come for the perfectly formed waves barreling in from the Indian Ocean. DestinAsian’s long-standing editor-in-chief Christopher P. Hill gets a feel for Java’s sunrise coast as he hops between three very different resorts, each one tuned into the character of their immediate locales.

 

Left to right: A tostada topped with radish, avocado, fried grasshoppers, and agave worms at Casa Oaxaca; the Church of San Pablo and Zapotec ruins at Mitla. (Photos: Matt Dutile)

Exploring the Flavors and Traditions of Oaxaca

New York–based photographer Matt Dutile journeys to the Mexican state of Oaxaca to have his fill of mouth-watering mole and gain insights into its mezcal-making heritage. Apart from sampling the prized spirit at several family-run distilleries out in the countryside, he inspects architectural wonders from pre-Columbian times and the Spanish-colonial era, dines at restaurants that champion Oaxacan cuisine, and meets local creatives safeguarding the region’s craft traditions — including a master dyer who has revived ancient techniques nearly lost in recent decades.

 

Riders fording a river in Argentine Patagonia. (Photo: David De Vleeschauwer)

Seeing Patagonia from the Saddle

Anyone dreaming of a post-pandemic trip to South America should read this piece by Belgian husband-and-wife team Debbie Pappyn and David De Vleeschauwer. The duo explores the rugged mountains of Argentine Patagonia on a horse-riding safari suitable even for beginners, riding with gauchos (cowboys) through forests and meadows, fording streams, and crossing exposed mountain passes. Most nights are spent in the comfort of a heated en-suite tent at a rustic base camp, where the travelers enjoy hearty meals featuring grilled meats and Argentinean Malbec. In the process, they get to know another way of life and the charismatic person behind their local outfitter.

 

Left to right: An untitled 1995 work by Chinese artist Fang Lijun at M+; the exterior of the new museum. (Courtesy of Fang Lijun; Virgile Simon Bertrand/Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)

Why Hong Kong’s M+ Museum is a Must-See

Culture vulture Jonathan Hopfner takes us inside a much-delayed but highly awaited new institution of global significance. Opened this past November, the waterfront M+ museum in Hong Kong — a multibillion-dollar landmark designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron — isn’t just one of the world’s most comprehensive repositories of contemporary Chinese art; it also celebrates Asian design and visual culture in all their forms. Hopfner assesses what the debut of M+ means for the regional art scene and its home city at an especially difficult time for Hong Kongers.

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