FROM KOH CHANG IN THAILAND TO PHU QUOC IN VIETNAM, A STRING OF ISLANDS HUGS THE COAST – AND MOST OF THEM ARE CAMBODIA’S, SITTING OFFSHORE OF THE KINGDOM’S 440 KILOMETRES OF TWISTING AND TURNING COASTLINE – THE PEARLS OF THE CAMBODIAN SEASHORES The beauty of these islands is that most of them are undeveloped, with wild beaches and just a few simple backpacker huts if you want to stay a while – or no huts at all, just you and nature. Perfect for day trips, or pitching a tent in paradise. Then there are two big islands – Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem – which have a whole range of accommodation along their super-long beaches, with dense jungle interiors. Lastly, for those with fat wallets, there are three private islands blessed with fabulous luxury resorts. Well and truly off the map at the turn of the century, Cambodia’s islands now have something for everybody, from just a hammock in the trees, to a wooden chalet with a balcony, through to an exclusive villa with your own pool. Numbering no less than 60, the islands lack roads, ATMs or mains electricity, but boast a host of bars, restaurants and dive shops, plus endless beaches, azure seas and an escapist, easy-going vibe. Controversially, some islands have been leased to developers for large-scale resort building, so who knows how long this away-from-itall tranquillity will exist? Already the charm of the first of Cambodia’s beach hubs, the seaside town of Sihanoukville, has been smashed and annihilated by manic development. In just the last few years, what was a laid-back beach town has become a grotesque casino city for Chinese gamblers, its former backpacker haunts left to rot. That means right now is the time to enjoy the Cambodian islands, while they are still treasures possessing a serenity not easily found elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Let’s check them out. THE NORTHERN GROUP KOH KONG KOAH If you’re coming from Thailand by land – not a bad idea at all, entering Cambodia from Trat province – then the first big island is Koh Kong Koah, which is in fact Cambodia’s largest island. However, it has a strong military presence, so access is tightly controlled and you must visit on a guided boat tour out of Koh Kong town or Tatai costing USD21 per person, including lunch and snorkelling equipment, or you can take overnight trips with beach camping or homestay for USD55. These trips only operate from October to May and it’s forbidden to explore the forested interior. Seven beaches are strung along the western coast, lined with coconut palms and lush vegetation. At the sixth beach from the north, a narrow channel leads to a hidden lagoon. KOH S’DACH ARCHIPELAGO KOH S’DACH Twelve small islands form the Koh S’Dach Archipelago, located offshore midway between the Thai border and the coastal city of Sihanoukville. Just two kilometres long, Koh S’Dach is the only island with a sizeable population, about 2,300, and it buzzes with fishing boats and an ice factory as the economic heart of the archipelago. The beaches
Today Edge, the New York’s highest outdoor sky deck, officially opened to the public offering unparalleled 360-degree views of the iconic city skyline. Beginning at 1:00 PM, the first ticketed visitors stepped out onto Edge’s outdoor viewing area featuring a thrilling glass-floor, angled glass walls, and outdoor skyline steps from the 100th to 101st floors of 30 Hudson Yards. Visitors also experienced the immersive, multi-room ‘Journey to Edge’ show telling the history of New York City’s newest neighborhood from construction over an active rail yard to sustainability achievements and more. To mark the opening, Edge has also launched a nightly light show designed by L’Observatoire International which will run from sunset to midnight daily through 4 April. Hudson Yards also announced today a program offering New York City public school groups free visits to Edge and Vessel every Tuesday. The program kicked-off today with fifth grade students from neighboring elementary school P.S. 33 in Chelsea getting a sneak peak of the entire experience prior to the first ticketed guests. NYC Public School bookings can be made online at www.edgenyc.com/group-bookings “The overwhelming public response to Hudson Yards over the past year – making us part of everything from their morning coffee run to a place to celebrate special occasions – has been incredibly humbling. With the opening Edge, one of the final pieces of the first phase of Hudson Yards, it was important to us to extend an invitation not only to the world to experience our great city from new heights, but also to New Yorkers who have made us part of the City’s cultural fabric. We are proud to ensure Edge is accessible to New York Public School students which we hope will inspire the next generation of New Yorkers to fall even more in love with this great city,” said Stephen Ross, Chairman of Related Companies. “Our goal at Oxford is to connect people to exceptional places, and Edge is another incredible attraction that Hudson Yards has to offer New Yorkers and visitors from across the globe. It’s truly one of the best views of one of the best cities in the world, and we’re excited for everyone to experience it first hand,” added Michael Turner, President of Oxford Properties. A bar, located on the 100th floor, offers a glass of champagne or signature cocktail and light bites to enjoy indoors or outdoors on the sky deck. Situated one floor above Edge, on the 101st floor, is Peak a stunning restaurant, bar, and event space operated by hospitality group RHC. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) and extending out 80 feet from the 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards, Edge redefines the New York skyline. Its monumental triangular form completes the tower’s architectural dialogue with the city. A marvel of modern engineering and structural design, the 765,000-pound observation deck is comprised of 15 sections, each weighing between 35,000 and 100,000 pounds, bolted together and anchored to the east and south sides of the building. The 7,500-square-foot outdoor viewing area is surrounded by
SANTIAGO DE CUBA, THE FIRST CAPITAL OF CUBA, IS WHERE SALSA WAS BORN. WITH DEEP AFRICAN ROOTS, HERE THEY CELEBRATE THE MOST RICHLY MUSICAL CARNIVAL OF THE AMERICAS. Outside the bus station, a vast revolutionary plaza stretched out. Lurking to one side was a boxy trishaw with a high passenger seat. The young black driver hissed, “Meet me over there on the corner!” I lugged my bags across the broad avenue and climbed aboard. Instead of gliding down the boulevard into Santiago, we turned up a side street and trundled through poor barrios where shirtless black people idled on the porches of crumbling villas. “I have to watch out for the police,” explained the sweating pedicabbie. “I’m not supposed to carry foreigners.” Many zig-zags later we hit the city centre, where narrow colonial streets rode upon steep hills. Seeking lodgings, up hill and down dale, my diligent tricyclist knocked on door after peeling-paint door until finally one old lady said “Sí”. I had struck lucky: dear old Tatica became my Cuban auntie. Now what should I pay this guy? He had worked long and hard in the searing July heat, doing his best to help me, and breaking the law, in order to get the magic door-opener of US dollars. So, knowing it was almost half the typical Cuban monthly salary, I gave him five bucks. “Gracias,” he grinned, happy to add it to his dollar fund, which would gain him entry to a dollar store, full of imported and otherwise unobtainable goods. When you know what burdens the locals labour under, when you experience the Caribbean island’s glorious pluses, Cuba’s difficulties for the independent traveller – transport, accommodation and food are all challenges, the dual currency money system is mind-boggling – melt away like the ice in your rum fizz. Cubans are friendly and gracious, the cities are airy, peaceful and straight out of the 50s – 1950s, 1850s, 1750s, whatever. And the music, ah, the music is heavenly. Especially in Santiago. The old seaport of Santiago de Cuba lies in the far east of the 1250km-long island, and is Cuba’s second city. Founded by the Spanish conquistadors in 1514, from 1515 to 1607 Santiago was the capital of the colony of Cuba, and ever since has been the main city of Oriente, the eastern province. Pirate attacks prompted the construction of the mighty El Morro Castle at the mouth of Santiago Bay. Copper from nearby mines was Santiago’s main export, African slaves for working the sugar plantations were its chief import, to its shame, but eventually to the world’s immense cultural benefit. With its large natural harbour, an inlet in the mountainous coast, Santiago developed as the port and commercial centre for the sugar and rum industry, with a large black population. A culture of mixed Spanish, French and African origins brewed throughout the 19th century and blossomed in the 20th. Musical styles blended from African percussion and European melodic instruments – “the love affair of the African drum and the Spanish guitar” as the Cuban musicologist
Set in tropical gardens on white sandy beaches dotted with rustling coconut trees surrounded by a cobalt ocean, Tamassa Bel Ombre makes for an exotic Mauritian Easter getaway, perfect for the extended weekend. The all-inclusive Tamassa Easter Programme (from USD239++ in a standard room) promises a myriad of activities for the whole family. From energizing outdoor activities to keep adrenaline levels high to tranquil activities curated for guests looking to relax, there is something for everyone. Little ones can expect a thrilling Meet & Greet session with the resort’s Easter Bunny before unleashing their creativity during a fun-filled Easter egg painting session at PLAY. Parents looking for vibrant Easter selfies can work up a post-workout glow with an energetic Zumba class at Jalsa or a dive into a refreshing water aerobics class at Crescent B. For a healthy splash of all-inclusive fun over the long Easter weekend, guests of all ages can look forward to getting knee deep in foam with the dynamic Family Foam Party and enjoy heart-pumping Water Slide adventures for a remarkable adrenaline rush. After working up an appetite, guests can recharge with a hearty BBQ lunch held at the picturesque Playa Beach featuring a live cocktail station and lobsters. Other culinary highlights include a delightful tea break at the B Bar before being entertained at an interactive chocolate workshop by Tamassa’s in-house chef. Balance the excitement with a meaningful Wish Ceremony at the “Garden of Wishes”, indulge in a variety show at the band stage or soak in the euphoric beats at the Easter DJ Party on the dance floor. Tamassa Bel Ombre offers the perfect escape for families in search of entertaining activities for the young and young at heart. With its all-inclusive concept, the resort caters to all ages and diverse preferences to ensure an unforgettable Easter fun in the sun for everyone. For more information or reservation, please click here.
Overlooking an enchanting patchwork of shimmering waters, rolling hills and rice fields, Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min is redefining the wellness retreat concept on the spectacular shores of one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic destinations. DISCOVER THE LEGENDS OF INLE LAKE AND FIND YOUR INNER SELF To celebrate its first anniversary, Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min is introducing the first luxury wellness programme in Myanmar to focus exclusively on holistic therapies, traditional treatments, nutrition, fitness coaching and educational wellness initiatives. Guests are invited to indulge in these all- encompassing packages, designed for an unforgettable stay at one of the wellness resort’s 101 guest rooms and suites. Offerings include the Wellness Discovery package, with benefits including a pre-arrival consultation, yoga sessions, customised meditation class, spa treatments, an in-room wellness minibar, and holistic rituals in the morning and evening. Each guest will receive a wellness basket in their suite, which includes all the essentials such as a yoga mat, skipping rope, wellness ball and dumbbells. The Wellness Discovery package is available from USD180 per person, per night. NUTRITIONAL TREATMENTS MEET FARM-TO-TABLE DISHES “You are what you eat” is the motto of Chef Aung Kyaw Swar, the man behind Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min’s unique culinary experiences and the curator of the Wellness Cuisine programme. Locally-sourced organic products take centre stage on his healthy and nutritious menus, namely at the resort’s Roots Signature Restaurant, which introduces guests to regenerative ingredients that prioritise the body’s requirements and tantalise the taste buds. The restaurant, which overlooks Inle Lake’s gentle waters, aims to instil a sense of spirituality and promote the resort’s wider commitment to sustainability. Chef Aung Kyaw Swar and his team support the local communities by working closely — and responsibly — with producers and short food supply chains in order to discover local flavours, creating authentic, delicious dishes ranging from salads and soups to regional specialities. Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min maintains its own organic and hydroponic garden, which embraces local Shan methods with a contemporary approach to produce fruits, vegetables and herbs. Harvests are not only used in the kitchen and spa, but also shared with the local community and hotel staff. UNWIND AND REJUVENATE AMIDST TRANQUIL VISTAS The tailor-made energising and healing programmes have been developed to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit of Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min’s guests. The mind-body connection of the wellness programmes are designed by onsite Yoga Master, Sudhir Thampi. Born and raised in India, Sudhir’s expertise in yoga, meditation and fitness are vital to the overall success of the wellness journey. Yoga for him is as natural as breathing and guests can enjoy private and group yoga sessions as well as fitness classes as part of their package. Yoga classes are held in a series of waterfront villas, designed in warm hues with natural woven materials offset by red and orange plaid that is inspired by the headscarves of the local Pa-o women. Perched at the edge of the lake and surrounded by verdant gardens and reflective ponds, guests can draw inspiration from these serene,
Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Thai Airways will cancel some flights to eight countries this and next months. The flight adjustments cover destinations in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Bangladesh and the United Arabs Emirates. Shanghai Fight TG662 and TG663 will be cancelled from March 1-28. Flight TG664 and TG665 will be cancelled most of March. Guangzhou Flight TG678 and TG679 will be cancelled from March 1-28. Flight TG668 and TG669 will be cancelled most of March. Xiamen Flight TG610 and TG611 will be cancelled most of March. Kunming Flight TG612 and TG613 will be cancelled from March 1-28. Chengdu Flight TG618 and TG619 will be cancelled most of March. Hong Kong Flight TG602 and TG603 will be cancelled from March 2-29. Flight TG606 and TG607 will be cancelled from March 1-28. Taipei Flight TG632 and TG633 will be cancelled on Feb 24 and most of March. Nagoya Flight TG646 will be cancelled six days in March and its return leg, TG647, will be cancelled the following days. Fukuoka Flight TG648 and TG649 will be cancelled six days in March. Seoul Flight TG688 will be cancelled on Feb 26, 28 and 29 and most of March. Flight TG689 will be cancelled on Feb 27, 29 and most of March. Busan Flight TG 650 and 651 will be cancelled on Feb 26 and 27. In March, flights will be cancelled in six days. Singapore Flight TG401 will be cancelled from Feb 24-March 28 and TG402 from Feb 25-March 29. TG 403 and TG404 will be cancelled from Feb 24-March 28. TG407 and TG408 will be cancelled on Feb 21, 23, 24, 27 and 28 and most of March. Manila Flight TG620, TG621, TG624 and TG625 will be cancelled most of March. Dhaka Flight TG339 will be cancelled on Feb 25, 26, 28, 29 and most of March. Flight TG 340 will be cancelled on Feb 26, 27, 29 and most of March. Dubai Flight TG517 and TG518 will be cancelled most of March. Details of the flight adjusments in Thai are on the Thai Airways Facebook account. Sources: www.thaiairways.com www.bangkokpost.com
Research reveals that nearly six in 10 global travelers pick their vacation destination because of the great food and drink on offer. So for the cheese-lovers amongst us, why not journey further than the fridge or local cheese shop to uncover the origins of some of the world’s favorite cheeses? In celebration of the most cheesiest month, we have identified some of the cheesiest stays for cheese lovers around the world to indulge in while exploring the destination that created some of their favourites. Gouda, Netherlands For cheese fans, this Dutch city is all Gouda, with its namesake cheese accounting for a massive 60% of Dutch cheese production**. Produced in the surrounding region, travelers to Gouda can purchase wheels of the local delicacy at the city’s Thursday morning market that takes place from April through to August. Having first started in 1395, this bustling market has kept its traditional charm, with farmers and traders ‘clapping hands’ to confirm a sale in front of the historic city hall buildings. Travelers should also visit “de Goudse Waag”, which means the Gouda scale, built in 1669 and originally used for weighing - you guessed it - cheese. Now it’s home to the tourist information office as well as the Cheese and Crafts Museum, which offers cheese tasting, tours and craft demonstrations. Where to stay: The Tannery Lane holiday home is the perfect home from home for cheese loving travelers, just a short stroll from the location of the Thursday morning market. This guesthouse, which is found on the city center’s smallest street, was originally built in 1879. From the outside it boasts a traditional charm, while inside the property houses all the modern conveniences needed for a comfortable stay in Gouda. Cheddar, UK Cheddar cheese is now the UK’s most popular cheese choice, accounting for 51% of the annual cheese market locally***, but has humble beginnings in the village of Cheddar in Somerset. Local legend says that Cheddar cheese was discovered by accident when a milkmaid accidentally let a pail of milk stored in the cool caves go bad, turning it into hard cheese. Adventurous visitors to the village of Cheddar can explore these chilly caves at Cheddar Gorge, the largest gorge in the UK. After exploring and working up an appetite, cheese-lovers can stop by the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, where visitors can see the cheese being made from start to finish at the working dairy and visitor center. Where to stay: Just a short walk from the Cheddar Gorge caves, The Bath Arms Hotel offers adult-only accommodation that is as charming as the picturesque village itself. With an onsite restaurant and bar, visitors will find all the amenities they need for a comfortable stay. The restaurant serves a daily menu with traditional pub favorites and during the warmer months guests can even dine in the outdoor beer garden. Monterey, California, USA Named after both its place of origin and the entrepreneur who began selling it commercially, Monterey Jack cheese has become a staple of many Americans’ fridge or cheese board. This white, semi-hard cheese made
Alas, there can only be one lucky winner and congratulations to Khun Mameaw Meawmeaw. You have won a 2-night stay at Centara Sandy Beach Danang, Vietnam. Please send us a message on or before 15 February 2020 to claim your prize. Thank you everyone for participating in our lucky draw. Keep an eye on lifestyle+travel page. Never know, it might be your name up in lights (more or less!) next time! The competition ended on the 10th February 2020 and the lucky winner has been selected and annouced on 11th February 2020. Thank you for your interest.
Amsterdam is a lively city with a central downtown district that does not find time to rest. Here, remnants of the city’s maritime past are interwoven with elements of contemporary life that include bars, shops, cafés and vices with a broad spectrum of appeal. The liberal Dutch society tolerates cannabis usage and prostitution, much to the delight of those from neighbouring countries who travel here to celebrate buck’s parties or inquisitive tourists hailing from countries that are more conservative. While the legality of cannabis is hazy, this raunchy side of Amsterdam appeals to some while most are simply inquisitive and curious onlookers. When most travellers think of Holland and its largest city Amsterdam (The Hague is the capital), images of windmills, wooden shoes called clogs, wheels of Gouda cheese and fields of multicoloured tulips spring to mind. However, the reality is that the closest encounter most visitors will have with these Dutch icons is the endless rows of souvenirs displayed in tourist precincts like Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market. However, visitors will definitely encounter bikes, dykes and lights while exploring the sights of this lively, multicultural and cosmopolitan city of just 800,000 residents. CENTRAL AMSTERDAM Holland has always intrigued me and even more so, when I realised that a quarter of the country is below sea level with its gateway Schiphol Airport situated on a former lake, several metres below sea level. As my KLM plane approached Schiphol, I checked beneath the seat for the lifejacket, just in case. Of course, planes do not land on water thanks to Holland’s ingenious network of ancient dykes and polders that keep the seawater at bay. I checked a map of Amsterdam to appreciate that the city and surrounding areas are indeed a network of canals, lakes, rivers and dykes holding back the waters of the North Sea. Amsterdam’s famous dykes are not so obvious but without retaining walls and floodgates to keep out the seawater, there would not be much to see of Amsterdam as basically it, and much of Holland, has been reclaimed from the sea. This reclamation has been ongoing for centuries and explains why the Dutch are such great hydrological engineers. I also discovered that one of the functions of windmills in days gone by was to pump water from the land out to sea to keep the seawater in check. Canals are one of the main attractions and a canal cruise is the best way to admire just how important these were for Amsterdam’s original settlers. While the River IJ divides Amsterdam, most visitors do not appreciate it as the main tourist attractions are in central Amsterdam just to the south of the river. From an elevated vantage point at the rear of the main railway station, I appreciated that the River IJ waterfront divides central Amsterdam and Amsterdam Noord. Both parts of the city are visible from the Centraal Station located in a lively port precinct where large ocean-going cruise ships moor at the nearby docks. Visitors emerge from the city side of Centraal Station on