Saturday, 30 November 2019

An insider’s guide to Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon Myanmar, SIA InsiderEAT

Rangoon Tea House takes Burmese food to new heights with its classy, chic setting. Make sure you try their pyay paratha (flatbread served with a lentil and chicken curry), a dish widely loved across Myanmar. For Western fare, try Sharky’s on Pansodan Street, which has adopted a farm-to-table concept with its menu of fresh salads, local cheese and charcuterie platters. 999 Shan Noodle Shop is a great spot in the city for quick, tasty and cheap noodles. Do try their fried tofu and dumplings too.


Opened last November, After 8 is popular for cocktails and shots designed by the self-fashioned “cocktail professor” Jarl de Vries from Amsterdam. On the other hand, overlooking the Shwegondine neighbourhood, there’s NYX Rooftop Bar. Named after the Greek goddess of the night, it’s where regional and international DJs perform.


Shwedagon Pagoda’s golden roof remains prominent in any panoramic picture of Yangon; the splendid stupa glimmers with over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other precious stones. The National Museum of Myanmar is filled with Burmese art, history and culture, and the Yangon Gallery is perfect for those who want to view the work of contemporary local artists. Make sure to end the day with sunset views at Botahtaung Harbour before taking a short stroll to Botahtaung Pagoda.


The major local bazaar is Bogyoke Aung San Market, where you can find antiques, Burmese handicrafts, jewellery and more. The market has over 2,000 stalls, so you’ll need comfy shoes and remember to flex your bargaining powers. Afterwards, cross over a connecting bridge to the recently built Junction City shopping mall for even more retail therapy.


Yangon is best explored on foot. Though it isn’t the most pedestrian- or bike-friendly city, the downtown area has many attractions within walking distance of each other.

Singapore Airlines flies to Yangon daily. SilkAir flies to Yangon 11 times weekly. To book a flight, visit

Illustration by Ohn Mar Win

SEE ALSO: Yangon’s timeless tea houses

This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine

The post An insider’s guide to Yangon, Myanmar appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris

Belle Lumière

Late afternoon light through the stained glass at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Senlis

via Paris Through My Lens

Friday, 29 November 2019

Weekend Getaways in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu & Telegana

Go rock-climbing in Badami, Karnataka
Out of Bangalore (450km)
If you’re the type that revels in adventure and would rather head out for a challenging activity on a weekend rather than just kick back and relax, consider rock climbing. Not only is it a test of your physical prowess, but it also puts your mental abilities through a rigorous workout. One of the best spots in India for the sport of rock climbing is Badami, Karnataka, where people go up against both rock formations and artificial walls.  There are a fair number of climbing routes across Badami’s sandstone hills, and plenty of organisations such as Sports Climbing India, that offer courses for all sorts of climbers . The routes sport creative names such as Bunks Bum, Master of Biscuits, Babu Killer and Ganesha, and the difficulty ranges from 5a+ (easy) to 8b+ (diffIcult). What better way to explore the local landscape than clambering across it yourself?

When you’re exhausted by all the climbing, head to some of the other local attractions. The Mahakuta group of temples, is located close by and provide a fascinating glimpse into ancient Indian civilisations. Some of the climb operators  also offer up campsite for stay and this is the perfect way to conclude an exhilarating weekend, by the campfire, under the open sky.  

Mural spotting in Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu
Out of Chennai (300km)
If you’re put off by the crowds in Thanjavur, one of the more popular spots for travellers in India, you could head instead to the nearby vibrant town of Thiruvarur. The highlight here is, of course, the Thyagaraja Temple which is even older than the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur on Sannathi Street. The murals in this temple were painted in the 17th century, during the Nayaka period, and recently restored by the Prakriti Foundation and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The painted panels in the Devasiriya Mandapam of the temple tell the story of the mythical monkey-faced Chola king Muchukunda. It’s believed that Lord Shiva took up residence in the temple in the form of Thyagaraja Swamy after the king idened the correct image of the god from a set of seven identical ones. The ancient hall has ochre pillars holding up the ceiling, on which you will nd long rows of murals in vivid reds and greens. The details in the artwork are amazing, and you could happily spend a couple of hours taking in the craft. When done with the temple, head out to the village for a range of quaint experiences such as bicycling through paddy fields or even learn pottery making or bamboo-weaving from locals. It’s a wholesome experience that awaits you in Thiruvarur.

Eat your heart out in Hyderabad, Telangana
Hyderabad’s cuisine is a delicious showcase of blended influences. It would probably take weeks to get a comprehensive taste of all options available, but we’ve planned it such that you could do a sampling over a weekend visit.

Start off at Café Niloufer and Bakers with a menu of biscuits along with thick, milky chai. Next, head to Café Bahar for some authentic Hyderabadi mutton biryani, bheja fry, Bahar special mutton and, if there’s room, qubani ka meetha, a dessert made with dried apricots. Another noteworthy mention would be Dine Hill, known for its specialty, patthar ka gosht – succulent boneless mutton cooked on stone. If it’s the Arabic influence you want to explore, try Mataam al Arabi from mandi (a biryani sprinkled with nuts and raisins), served on a giant plate with laham (mutton), chicken, fish or quail. Of course, this isn’t all there is, but that’s for next time.

Travel these trips NOW with LPMI’s December 2019 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.

via Lonely Planet India

Current issue: December 2019


Lonely Planet Magazine India inspires travellers to sample different cultures first-hand, discover new people, and learn fascinating stories about every place.


Here’s a sneak peek:

From the TOP 10 COUNTRIES to the NEWEST OPENINGS for the year 2020, this month we have the very best in travel with our Lonely Planet BEST IN TRAVEL 2020 issue! Grab your copy of the December 2019 issue today!

Be it the amazing wildlife in Costa Rica, the beaches of Aruba or the colours of Morocco, pick from our TOP 10 COUNTRIES. The remote mountain kingdom of BHUTAN is a wonderful mystery waiting for you to uncover its many layers. It might be the smallest African nation, but

ESWATINI has big surprises waiting for you. From historic Cairo in Egypt and jolly Galway in Ireland to buzzing La Paz in Bolivia, check out Lonely Planet’s top 10 CITIES for 2020. If The Sound of Music was a part of your childhood, you have to visit SALZBURG, AUSTRIA where the hills are alive with memories. And, if you want to spread your wings, plan your itinerary across an entire region – choose from among our TOP 10 REGIONS. Don’t let a modest budget get in the way of your next holiday, either – take a look at our top 5 BUDGET DESTINATIONS. A lot of new experiences, sights and sites will open up next year. Find out which NEW OPENINGS you absolutely cannot miss. And, finally, take a boozy break and sample some amazing spirits in DISTILLERIES ACROSS THE UK. 

Stumble onto a whole new world of discoveries with our EXPLORE section. Make the most of your weekends with our weekend planners: Explore the lanes of KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL, with an unusual tour; or take a trip back in time with the forts around BELGAUM,

KARNATAKA. Discover the secret history of the CHRISTMAS TREE, and find out why you should plan a trip to RAJASTHAN now. Update yourself with the latest news, views and  wonderful ways to discover our planet with MORE REASONS TO GET OUT THERE. 

Our JOURNAL section features stories from the road. Witness scenes on the subway in NEW YORK CITY, THE USA. Enjoy our one-on-one with the mayor of Greater Manchester ANDY BURNHAM, and discover Team LPMI’s travel highlights and low moments across 2019. 

PLUS: We’ve got easy-to-tear-fold-and-carry Mini Guides – discover a different side to  BUDAPEST, HUNGARY after dark; enjoy art, culture and nature in SHILLONG, MEGHALAYA, and experience a confluence of eastern and western civilisations in TUNIS, TUNISIA

via Lonely Planet India

Your Photos from our December 2019 issue

This is your section entirely; we invite you, our readers, to send in photographs of special moments on your travels, little events or vistas that struck a chord or made you laugh.

Tell us what you were doing there, and how this photograph came to be.
Best of all, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to be featured here.

Send your entries to:

via Lonely Planet India

Weekend Planner: Interesting ways to explore Kolkata, West Bengal


There is no one Kolkata that a visitor can meet. Instead, there are many cities waiting by the Hooghly River to welcome you, and the best way to get a quick introduction to some of the paras(neighbourhoods) is with a tour. One of these demands that you wake up quite early – at 5am. Soham Chakraborty of Calcutta Capsule will meet you in Shyam Bazar, taking you on the first tram of the day on his Magic Hour Tour across the city He likens the tram to Bengalis: charming but quite laid-back – in a nice way. From the moment he cajoles the tram driver from his first cuppa into the vehicle, Soham has a way of getting his timing right – on the five-hour tour, you’ll find four other modes of public transport waiting to help you discover North and Central Kolkata, and he nails that perfect moment when the rising sun meets your group as you stand awestruck  in a massive maidan. Expect an opportunity to immerse yourself in the freshest flowers and a chance to walk among gods-in-the- making. Expect to receive simple but carefully-curated gifts, and to enjoy street snacks the way the local work force does. Expect an insider’s perspective on the North Kolkata – South Kolkata divide and a tongue-in-cheek explanation of why North is best. Expect, most of all, to be floored by Soham’s enthusiasm, and his willingness to share his city with you in all its complexity.

The Melting Pot Walk with Calcutta Walks is a more leisurely affair, putting into perspective the many different communities that have made the city their home. On the discovery menu are rent-controlled Anglo-Indian quarters, restored Chinese houses, and Buddhist and Parsi free guesthouses.The walk throws up forays into charming re temples and stunning Chinese ‘churches’. You’ll find out more about the controversial hand-pulled rickshaws, take a break for some rich fruit cake, and marvel at the last Chinese breakfast stalls at Tiretti Bazaar. The ebullient Anirban is also a filmmaker and photographer, so he will point out many architectural details you would otherwise miss. The most striking point on the tour is when you stand at a crossroads with a Protestant church to your right, a Scottish kirk on your left, a mosque behind you and one of the largest synagogues in Asia ahead of you. It’s a moment to appreciate how different cultures are so much a part of the fabric of this charming city, and how everything in Kolkata has changed but also remained the same. The vegetarian Barra Bazaar ki Shaam food trail begins with khasta kachoris with curry, lashed with tamarind chutney and mota bhujiya, much beloved of the Marwaris whose stronghold this area is. This Navpreet Arora of Fun On Streets will tell you, is where life began in Kolkata for those who came from Gujarat and Rajasthan. The men came first, and, in the absence of home fires burning, a food culture grew that remains strong even today. Navneet introduces you to the small shops serving all her personal favourites: hing ke kachoris with potato curry and pickled chillies; singhadas (samosas that are much lighter and less spiced than their namesakes in the Punjab); puchkas tinged green with spinach in the puris; jhal muri (puffed rice served with cucumber, boiled potato, onion and a lashing of mustard oil); kachoris with kadhi; amazing kulfi ; and indulgent sukka malai rolls. It is a food walk that will leave you feeling full and happy, and the charming Navneet will be a friend by the time you stagger away from each other. You’ll be glad you’ve been wearing your walking shoes and the loosest clothes.

To travel this trip NOW, check out LPMI’s  December 2019 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.

via Lonely Planet India

The Photo Story: Subway Surfing

Photographs: Keegan Crasto
Words: Eamonn Ennis

A week in photographs riding alongside an average New Yorker

AS WE DESCEND INTO THE SUBWAY, the cacophony of honking cars, jabbering people and endlessly-noisy street vendors slowly gives way to a sound even more familiar to the New York citizen. With the rotation of the turn styles, the muttering of people on their phones, and the shuffling of feet, the unorganised chaos of life above ground slowly melds into the slightly more organised chaos of subterranean transit.

Ironically, this twice-a-day period of an hour each way is when the various people of NYC come together in quiet contemplation as they ride to and from work. The faces  are different, yet somehow similar in expression. Each one’s background, job and status melts away as they become part of this daily exodus. Passengers together in this race of life.

In a strange way, this is their time of solitude and contemplation, when they can let their minds wander as their bodies take over. Muscle memory keeps them going. Here, below the blinding lights of the city, people can lose themselves within themselves. Contemplating deep thoughts, listening to music, reading a good book, the methodologies are as different as their culture, but the goal is the same – a New York minute of simply being themselves.

via Lonely Planet India

LP on the road: Our Year of Discovery

From unfortunate encounters at the Kumbh Mela to taking on Lake Cave in Australia, Team LPMI found themselves in various corners of the globe in 2019. Here are some of our travel highs and lows, and a sneak peek into our 2020 travel plans.

Primrose Monteiro-D’souza, Chief Community Officer & Editor

My travel highlight…was climbing back up from the Lake Cave in the  Margaret River region. I remember wondering, as I climbed down the 376 steps, how I was going to get back up. I considered, for a brief, sensible moment, whether I should just wait in the visitor centre for the others, but I hadn’t come Down Under to not go down under (and no dirty jokes here, please!).Anyway, I did manage to get back up without my heart giving way, and,  the next day, challenged my legs on part of the Coast-to-Coastwalk along the beach.This time, my new Chinese friend Paul had to stoically help me up and down boulders that are said to have moved here from Sri Lanka just to test me (pictured), but it did tell me what I could do if I put my heart – and legs – to it. Another high point was getting to hold a rescued joey; I had to hold him in a bag that reeked of kangaroo pee because he was soon to be returned to the wild, but that encounter really exercised my heart in a whole other way…

My low moment… was in Turkey when I realised that the cost of a hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia had gone up by about Rs 5,000 from the ` 12,000 I had earlier decided to splurge on.At ` 17,000 each, it just didn’t cut it for a family of four.

In 2020, I am most excited about… the possibility of going to Vietnam – for the food more than anything else. 

Samarpan Bhowmik, Chief Copy Editor

My travel highlight… was taking a boat ride in the middle of the night near the confluence of the Bentota River with the indian Ocean in Sri Lanka. Moonlight lends a touch of enchantment to even the most mundane of scenarios, so imagine a waxing moon peeking out from behind enormous storm clouds gathered overhead, the choppy waters of the estuary painted a bewitching silver.The boat skipped along, tossing us up in rhythm, as we rapidly approached the meeting point of the ocean and the river. The man on the motor probably registered the terror apparent on our faces, and, with an impressive flurry, cut the pace and pulled up just a few metres shy of the waves beyond which lay the vast expanses of the Indian Ocean. From the confluence, we made our way a little upriver, towards mangroves that sprang up like green islands in the middle of the water. We entered the mangroves through a small break in the thick curtain formed by the trees linked to each other, and looked up to find a “ceiling” of sorts created by the canopy of leaves and branches. Every dangling branch held the promise(and threat) of the monitors or crocodiles known to inhabit these parts, and our hearts were in our mouth the entire time. It was a ride I’m going to remember for a long time.

My low moment… was realising I had only an hour to experience Galle. I just about managed a stroll down the ramparts of Galle Fort to the lighthouse and a quick coffee in the lanes off the waterfront.

In 2020, I’m most excited about… the possibility of going to Reunion Island. Hiking around an active volcano in the middle of the ocean is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

T Krishna Prabakar, Deputy Art Director

My travel highlight… was being chased by a Naga baba at the Kumbh Mela in February.We were wandering around taking photographs – there was so much colour and character around – and  a Naga sadhu is always a compelling subject. In this case, I got separated from the group, the sadhu took offence to my wanting to photograph him, and he threatened me with his trishul. It was like a scene from a Bollywood lm – my life ashed before my eyes.

My low moment… was my journey out of Prayagraj to Lucknow. What usually takes four hours took a solid 13!

In 2020, I’m most excited about…the possibility of photographing wildlife across the world.

Amit Gaikwad, Senior Assistant Editor 

My travel highlight… was making my food dreams come true in Taiwan. One thing I had always wanted to try (courtesy Street Food, the hit series on Netflix) was the street food here. After building up an appetite and shortlisting a few night markets in Taipei and Taichung, I went out to try something new. From the famous beef noodle soup to the unusual stinky tofu, I tried them all. Taiwan truly is a paradise for foodies. I quickly realised that there’s something for every palate. My ultimate foodgasm was at Din Tai Fung. A few of my friends had recommended the classic xiaolóng bao — steamed pork dumplings – at this restaurant. Luckily not many on the trip fancied pork, which meant I got an entire serving (12 pieces!) to myself. Soft, juicy and melt-in-your-mouth, this was the best dish I had on the trip.

My low moment… was not finding enough time to explore the beautiful country of Myanmar. With just a couple of hours to spare, all I could manage was a quick auto ride in the beautiful town of Tamu. From temples to markets and famous restaurants, I can’t wait get back to explore more of the country!

In 2020, I’m most excited about… exploring some great food cities in the country. Madurai, Lucknow and Old Delhi are on my list of must-visits.

Aurelia Fernandes, Senior Features Writer

My travel highlight… was floating on Lake Saimaa, Finland, in an immersion suit. I absolutely love water, but, it must be said,I am a terrible swimmer.Thanks to immersion suit that allows you to oat, I was able to chill in the icy cold waters of Lake Saimaa in the middle of a heatwave. Even though I looked like a weird Michelin man-Teletubby hybrid, I didn’t mind it one bit, as I stared at the blue sky above me, occasionally fighting the urge to sleep.After I waddled out of the lake and back on to the pier, it was time to enjoy the evening in the most Finnish way possible – sweating it out in a sauna. If my trip to Finland taught me anything, it was how to nail the sauna routine. Stepping out of the steam room, I knew I had to cool off. I had two choices – the warm hot tub or jumping back into the freezing Lake Saimaa. Before I knew it, my legs were carrying me off towards the lake.Taking a deep breath,

I jumped in, knowing better than to think about this endeavour. I felt a chill down my spine, and, just as I was about to reconsider and scramble out,I felt my entire body relax. When I travel, my days usually start extremely early and end terribly late – I enjoy being on my feet; chilling in a lake in the middle of a summer day was a pleasant change.It served as the perfect reminder that, sometimes, it’s okay to take it slow and do absolutely nothing at all.

My low moment… was missing out on oysters in Tohoku, Japan.There gionis famous for its oysters and, even though we passed quite a few stalls shucking these delicious molluscs, our guides were a bit apprehensive about letting us try them.I did manage to sneak away and get to a stall, but they were sold out by then – proof that I’d missed out on something good.

In 2020, I’m most excited about… eating my way through East Asia. I firmly believe in trying everything once(and making groom for seconds), andEast Asia is a foodie’ shaven.

Amrita Lall, former Senior Features Writer

My travel highlight… was a surprisingly simple one. It was a meal I had at a nameless, no-frills restaurant somewhere in the surrounds of Binsar, Uttarakhand. There was a plate of piping-hot Maggi noodles with two scrambled eggs folded in, a side of bhang  (hemp-seed) chutney and a bowl of freshly- hung curd, followed by a big cup of rich, milky tea and some local puff pastry. I sat on a wooden bench, sipping my tea, watching the occasional cart twist its way further up into the Kumaon and the women tending buffaloes in their backyards, and exchanging smiles with cheerful passers-by. I was accompanied by photographer Krishna and Nitin, our local driver.We didn’t say much to each other for the whole stretch of the hour that we were there, and, if we did,it was only to marvel at how magnificent  the mountains looked, how clean the air felt, how friendly the locals were and how wonderful the food was.

My low moment… was  finding out last-minute that our train tickets from Binsar to Delhi had not been confirmed and then having to travel for 10 hours by road to NewDelhi, followed by a two-hour flight back home to Mumbai.

In 2020, I’m most excited about…the possibility of photographing wildlife across the world…

For more great trips and tips from LPMI staffers, check out LPMI’s December 2019 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.

via Lonely Planet India

Weekend Planner: Travel back in time in Belgaum, Karnataka


Belgaum, owing to its proximity to Goa, is often just a stopover for those on their way to enjoying a holiday by the coast. However, this little city in Karnataka has a fair bit to offer visitors. To start out, there’s the Belgaum Fort, a 13th-century structure right in the heart of the city. Built by the Ratta Dynasty and later controlled by various forces over the centuries,the fort has a deep and wide moat around it, designed to keep invading armies out. The gate used for entry these days is an impressive structure with a guard chamber; on the outside, there are motifs of birds and animals decorating it. An inscription in Persian on top of the gate reads: “Jakub Ali Khan, who is a joy to the heart, by whose benevolence the world is prosperous, built the wall of the fort from its base as strong as the barrier of Sicardis.” Inside, you will find Jain and Hindu temples along with two mosques. Right as you enter the fort, you’ll see long queues of devotees in front of the dieties of Ganesha and Durga.  Of the two Jain temples, the one known as Kamal Basadi was renovated by the Archaeology Department in 1996, while the other one, Chikki Basadi, is in a less favourable condition. The two mosques, Safa Masjid and Jamia Masjid, date back to the 16th century. The fort today also serves as the regional army headquarters, with some of official and residential buildings located inside. Early morning is a good time to take a stroll here.

Before you head out of town to nearby attractions, make a stop at Niyaaz, the best place for Belgaum biryani, a unique take on one of India’s favourite dishes. The curries and kebabs are also great options.

Out of Belgaum, make your first stop Yellur Fort in  Rajhansgad, around 16km away (Belgaum; open 24 hours; free). There’s a paved road leading almost all the way to the entrance of the fort, so it’s easy enough to drive down. Inside, things are pretty well maintained and the temple at the centre of the courtyard is a recent addition and, hence, in good shape. If you’re lucky enough to land up there on a weekday, you’ll have beaten droves of the faithful too. There’s also a sweet- water well in the fort, and legend has it that there existed a secret tunnel to the Rajhansgad city from the fort. The panoramic view from the ramparts is lovely.

If Yellur Fort whets your appetite for forts, you’ll really enjoy your visit to Kittur Fort, around another 50km away. This fort was built by the Desai dynasty back in the 17th century and is still in reasonably good shape. Several structures such as the durbar hall, meeting rooms and bathing quarters, among others, have walls and pillars intact, and provides a decent insight into life in those times. There’s also the Kittur Rani Chennamma Memorial Government Museum within the premises. Inaugurated by Indira Gandhi in 1967, it has a collection of weapons, swords, coats of mail, shields, engraved wooden doors and windows from the Kittur Palace, inscriptions, hero stones, statues of Surya and Vishnu both from Kadrolli, Vishnu and Surya from Devarashigehalli, Subrahmanya from Manoli, Durga from Hirebagewadi, and many more antiquities.

A trip to Belgaum is like stepping back in time, revisiting the various dynasties that controlled the region and their struggles and triumphs. And, when you’ve enriched the mind with history, there’s also that wonderful opportunity to feed the soul with some mouth-watering biryani. Go forth and feed mind and soul!

To travel this trip NOW, check out LPMI’s  December 2019 issue. Pick up a copy from your newsstand or click to subscribe via Zinio or Magzter.

via Lonely Planet India

Review: The State Hotel, Seattle

pet-friendly hotels
An impressive mural adorns the exterior wall of The State Hotel

1. A concierge for you – and the pooch

This boutique property, a landmark-designated structure, was once known as the Eitel Building. Built in 1904, it originally housed medical offices but remained largely vacant for decades until its reopening in March following a multi-million-dollar renovation. Bucking modern hospitality trends that do away with the staff concierge, the State Hotel ups the ante with two: Gabriel Diaz, who makes recommendations and reservations, and keeps a supply of pet waste bags handy, together with Aspen, the hotel dog who knows all the best dog-friendly restaurants, cafés and parks, and whose picks are provided as part of their special “Urban Pooch” package.

The State Hotel, Seattle
Each room is stylishly decorated

2. In the thick of it all

State Hotel’s downtown location puts many of the city’s sights within walking distance – perfect for a scenic stroll with your pooch. Explore the passageways of the nearby Pike Place Market, where smells galore await both man and dog, or head to the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Seattle Art Museum’s outdoor garden filled with a myriad of awe-inspiring installations by award-winning sculptors including Richard Serra and Jaume Plensa.

The State Hotel, Seattle
Ben Paris’ booths have plush leather benches and marble-topped tables

3. Morning to night delights

Brunch is a standout at the hotel restaurant and bar, Ben Paris, where sous chef Ethan Leung was recently dubbed one of the city’s “Next Hot Chefs” by Seattle Metropolitan magazine. Try the ricotta pancakes and a cortado made using locally roasted Caffe Ladro beans – you are in coffee country, after all. The ambience of the place adds additional polish to the terrific food: a large, nature-inspired mural covers the far wall, lit up by ample daylight streaming in. Take it all in while seated in one of their booths, which come kitted out with plush leather benches accompanied by marble-topped tables.

4. A roof with a view

The hotel’s rooftop terrace, available only to guests, overlooks Pike Place Market and the glittering Elliott Bay. It serves as an inviting retreat after a day spent exploring. Order a craft cocktail such as the Gin Griffey Juniper – made in honour of local baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr and crafted with botanicals from the market – from Ben Paris and then head up to enjoy the view. Dogs are welcome too, of course, so you can watch the sun go down with your best friend by your side.
Singapore Airlines now flies direct to Seattle four times weekly. For more info and to book a flight, visit
SEE ALSO: 5 local businesses to check out in Seattle
This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine
The post Review: The State Hotel, Seattle appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris


The SQ, New York's 111
纽约兴建中的57西街111号摩天大楼。Photo credit: Hayes Davidson







04H4 One Bangkok The SQ, New York's 111
曼谷One Bangkok O4H4


曼谷One Bangkok O4H4大楼的总高度。预计2025年竣工后,将成为曼谷最高摩天楼。作为One Bangkok综合发展区的一部分,坐落于伦披尼公园旁的大楼,将建设住宅、酒店、办公楼和公共空间。



The Palm Tower The SQ, New York's 111
The Palm Tower


位于朱美拉棕榈岛上The Palm Tower,在第51层楼的无边际泳池高度,坐拥360度城市全景瑰丽风光。
SEE ALSO: 艺术之巅: 新博物馆
The post 超细摩天楼 appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris

Thursday, 28 November 2019

This brass smith is fiercely championing an old tradition

Joel Blunto
Joel Blunto hopes to be able to pass the art and tradition to his children

“I’ve been creating brass items since I was a kid, and somewhere along the line, I knew this is what I wanted to do for a living,” says 37-year-old T’boli native Joel Blunto as he shapes rolled-out beeswax into a bracelet.
P10,000: Price of the most expensive single item he sold, about S$266
The T’boli people of Lake Sebu, about a four-hour drive from Davao City, have longstanding brass-casting traditions. Before modernisation crept into the province, brass items were highly valuable, used as dowry for marriage or barter transactions. Over the years, however, many middlemen have bought T’boli brass in bulk and erased the makers from the story. Today, a bracelet is priced at only P30 (S$0.80).
2: Number of days it takes to make a single bracelet or ring
This is exactly what Blunto hopes to change. With help from a friend, Davao-based Karl Sandino Lozano, Blunto has founded Sesotunawa, a community-led enterprise composed of T’boli brass smiths from Lake Sebu and volunteers from nearby Davao City. Sesotunawa sells a variety of brass crafts online – from bracelets and rings to home décor items such as bells and windchimes – with designs inspired by nature.

T'boli brass bracelets
Brass bracelets that Joel Blunto handmade

After shaping designs in beeswax, Blunto builds a clay mould around the designs, leaving a spout for the melted brass. Once the clay has hardened, he pours the liquid metal into the mould, allowing the brass to take shape. He then pounds gently at the mould to get the finished product. The final step is to clean and polish each item.
15: Height in inches of the bell Blunto made for a Catholic church, one of his largest creations
In February 2019, Sesotunawa opened a display shop in Lake Sebu, where you can browse the entire collection of brass products. “It’s not easy to peg these items at a higher price because people here are used to it being so cheap,” Blunto shares. “But through Sesotunawa and Karl, I’m learning how to price these items better and how the online world can widen our market.”
SEE ALSO: Cultivating ethical and lucrative civet coffee in Davao
This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine
The post This brass smith is fiercely championing an old tradition appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris


animal attraction wildlife
蓝翠鸟 Photo credit: Nicolette Coombs/



animal attraction wildlife
在巴伐利亚森林国家公园有机会遇斑猫 Photo credit: Travel Stock/



animal attraction wildlife
黄石国家公园 Photo credit Laurens Hoddenbagh/



animal attraction wildlife
Serra de Collserola自然公园 Photo credit: sanguer/


西班牙栖居的哺乳动物、禽鸟、鱼、爬行动物和两栖动物的物种总数,令西班牙成为生态系统最多元化的欧盟国家。游客可在 Serra de Collserola自然公园找寻野猪和斑獛的踪迹。


老挝的森林总覆盖率。当地的绿色自然地区,如琅勃拉邦山地雨林 是濒临灭绝物种的庇护所,其中包括银叶猴。
SEE ALSO: 艺术之巅: 新博物馆
The post 野外风光 appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

A Visit of Portovenere and the Golfo dei Poeti

from Delicious Italy | The Food and Travel Guide to Italian Regions

Stuffed Oven Capon

from Delicious Italy | The Food and Travel Guide to Italian Regions

Decoding champagne

We all know that champagne is the drink of choice when a celebration is in order. You might even know that a champagne isn’t champagne unless it comes from the specific region of Champagne in France. But actually this fizzy wine is much more nuanced than you might imagine, as we discover by talking to Singapore Airline’s Wine Experts Michael Hill Smith, Oz Clarke and  Jeannie Cho Lee.

Champagne region
An amazing view of the Champagne region in France. Photo credit: Hesam Sanaee/

1. It doesn’t get better than prestige cuvée

A prestige cuvée champagne is considered the finest champagne available. Made from the highest-quality grapes grown in Champagne’s leading vineyards, it’s rare and exclusive, with only a limited quantity available for purchase.

A perfect example is Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, which is only produced during years’ when the harvest is deemed of exceptional quality. It is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes grown in five Grand Cru vineyards (the highest classification for a vineyard) in the Côte des Blancs region. What’s more only juice from the first pressing (when grapes are first pressed right after harvest, resulting in the purest juice of the pulp, also called the cuvée) is used to give the final product a guarantee of quality.

Then under careful watch of the cellar master the wine endures a long maturation period of between eight to 10 years, where the champagne stays in bottles stored away from sunlight in chalk quarries beneath As a result of the length and complexity of the process there are a limited number of bottles produced. To date, only 35 great vintages have been produced since the first cuvée in 1952, making it a rare and celebrated wine.

Another prestige cuvée champagne is Moët & Chandon’s Dom Pérignon, arguably the most famous. It’s a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that is always vintage dated – meaning it’s made from grapes of a specific year. There’s also Krug, another honoured House, which produces champagne made from all three primary champagne grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Interestingly, its Krug Grande Cuvée – consistently rated one of the world’s best champagnes – is actually a non-vintage. It’s a blend of over 120 wines coming from 10 or more different vintages, and is recreated year after year to incredible precision.

2. Vintage vs non-vintage — which is better?

Non-vintage champagnes are a blended product of grapes from multiple vintages, while vintage champagnes are composed of 100 per cent of the grapes harvested from that specific year. The latter usually happens when grapes from that particular year are of exceptional quality.

When discussing the perception that non-vintage is a lesser product, Singapore Airlines wine expert Michael Hill Smith explains that “non-vintage champagnes will always taste pretty similar because it’s all about consistency of house-style”. He continues: “On the other hand, vintage reflects the conditions of one specific year, so some people might find this to be more intellectually interesting because it varies from year to year.”

Furthermore, because of the longer ageing requirements (vintage wines must be aged for a minimum of three years in the bottle, as opposed to 15 months for non-vintage champagnes) as well as the fact that vintage champagnes are made from grapes from the best sites and by producers who have their own estate vineyards, the quality of vintage is usually assumed to be superior, notes Master of Wine and Singapore Airlines wine expert Jeannie Cho Lee. “The only exception of a great quality non-vintage is the Krug, whose prestige cuvée is a non-vintage,” she says, adding that this is because Krug has a huge library of reserve wines and an expert master blender.

Taittinger's Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs
Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs

3. The taste varies

Although champagne is made the same way, it can taste differently because each House has a different approach. For instance, grapes can come from a single vineyard or single region, some can come from Grand Crus vineyards only, some are fermented in old oak barrels while some are in stainless steel, and some might go through malolactic fermentation — a process after primary fermentation, in which the tart-tasting malic acid in the wine is converted to softer-tasting lactic acid, reducing overall acidity and creating an impression of smoothness –while others don’t, explains Hill Smith. All these factors can affect its tasting notes: and result in a champagne that can be either  fruity or toasty, weighty or light.

Because the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is made entirely of Chardonnay grapes, aromatically it smells like Chardonnay, he adds. “As they get older, they become more toasty, like top white Burgundy. So you get this aged Chardonnay character, which is lovely but held together by really tight linear acidity. They present quite differently in the mouth.”

He adds that people usually describe Krug champagnes as the king and Dom Pérignon as the queen, because “Krug is fuller and more powerful, while Dom Pérignon tends to be very fine, delicate and poised. And then you have Comtes, which is just a wonderful expression of Blanc de Blancs. Each has its own personality, he says, but adds that a blended champagne does not mean it is a lower quality; rather, it’s “just a different face of the best of champagne”.

The temperature champagne is served will also affect its taste, adds Singapore Airlines wine expert Oz Clarke. “While the optimal taste of champagne will express itself when it is served at a temperature of 8 to 10 degrees, some like really cold champagne that’s straight out of the fridge, which is more refreshing than about its taste,” he explains. Lee says the simple rule of thumb is: “The higher the quality of champagne, the higher end of temperature you’d want it; the lower the quality of a bottle of champagne, the cooler you’d want it.”

Champagne region
Champagne pairs well with caviar and seafood. Photo credit: Lisovskaya Natalia/

4. It’s versatile when it comes to food

For Hill Smith, champagne is the ultimate aperitif and should be enjoyed right before a meal. On the other hand, Clarke says shellfish, fish and caviar all work well with champagne, thanks to its light, bubbly nature.

But Lee says she particularly loves having a glass after a meal of spicy food, because the high levels of acidity works as a great palate cleanser. Her label of choice? The Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, because the 2007 vintage has a tinge of sweetness and roundness that she feels complements the piquant flavours a little better. “But ultimately, what you enjoy pairing it with comes down to personal preferences,” she adds.

5. Know your labels

An important thing to note when you’re looking at a bottle of champagne is its level of sweetness. This is indicated on the label:  Brut Natural (the driest of the dry, where little to no sugar has been added), Extra Brut (made with extremely low levels of sugar, resulting in a bone-dry style), Brut (which tastes quite dry on the palate), Sec (a dry or lean style that is slightly sweet), Demi-sec (which literally means “half-dry” or semi-sweet and Doux (“sweet” in French), which is used to denote the very sweetest of champagnes.

“For those which contain no sugar [Brut Natural], what you get is a drink that has no roundness, it’s really tense, high in acidity and sharp. And some people appreciate that,” explains Lee. “But most of the non-vintage commercial brands are Brut or Extra Brut; they fall in that category of dryness and sweetness.”

Singapore Airlines is now serving the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne for its First Class passengers. It joins two prestige cuvées already being served onboard — the Dom Pérignon and Krug Grand Cuvée. 

To book a flight, visit

SEE ALSO: Great champagne is for all occasions, according to Master of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee

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from SilverKris

Forever in fashion: a tour of Naples’ finest arts and crafts makers

At Christmas, Naples’ famous nativity figurines dominate its shops, but the city buzzes with artisans creating beautiful ceramics, fashion and accessories year-round

In Naples the build-up to Christmas is chaotic. Pilgrims descend on the city, pushing their way through narrow streets to Via San Gregorio Armeno, where workshops sell handcrafted miniature nativity figurines. The religious scenes, which are made year-round to keep up with demand, are beautifully crafted in wood, terracotta and silk. They are prized by Neapolitans as the epitome of local craftsmanship: honed over centuries and underpinned by a Neapolitan blend of pagan and Catholic beliefs.

There are, however, many other skilled craftspeople working in the city that are worth visiting. A lot of them have regal roots and have survived the peaks and troughs of Neapolitan history. In fact, the modern perception of Naples as a penurious city neglects its rich and flamboyant past. While Florence and Rome’s artisan guilds flourished during the medieval and Renaissance periods, Naples prospered much later, with the arrival of the “Enlightened” occupying Spanish Bourbon monarchy in 1734.

Continue reading...

via Italy holidays | The Guardian

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Senlis

This little side door looks hardly large enough for an adult to walk through. This French Gothic cathedral in Senlis FR was completed in 1191. We took the train there last November with our friend Owen Phillips who lives in nearby Chantilly. We were lucky enough to enjoy an organ saxophone recital while there. Tomorrow, we'll go inside for a look.

via Paris Through My Lens

How to See the Rome Catacombs at Night

The Rome Catacombs have become quite a popular destination for travelers visiting Rome. Though a little eerie, these underground burial chambers provide an excellent opportunity to venture outside of the city and…

from Italy Travel Blog – The Roman Guy

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Affordable Fixed Departure Weekend Winter Treks in Uttarakhand for 2019/2020

The post Affordable Fixed Departure Weekend Winter Treks in Uttarakhand for 2019/2020 appeared first on Tour My India.

from Tour My India

Must try winter food in India

The arrival of cosy, cold winters brings hot delicacies to the Indian plate. Closely connected with its culture, the country’s multiple cuisines offer a variety of dishes that need to be tried in this chilly season. Here is a glimpse of what not to miss!

Read More: Family-friendly eateries in Delhi-NCR

Read More: Where (not) to go in 2100: sites under threat from climate change



via Lonely Planet India

Best drinks to enjoy during winters

Come winters and we are all looking for ways to escape the chill in the air. Blankets and hot water baths might be great companions but you can’t take them everywhere. So here is a better way out. Befriend these special winter drinks to keep you warm throughout.

Take a picture tour!

Also Read: Must try winter food in India

Also Read: Top 20 places for a holiday in December


via Lonely Planet India

Where (not) to go in 2100: sites under threat from climate change

Planning a beach holiday for the year 2100? The travel agent might suggest Dolphin Sands in Tasmania. If sea levels rise by a metre – the estimated outcome at current temperature patterns – flood maps based on NASA data show that this nine-mile stretch of golden sand may be one of the only remaining beaches on the planet.

Even with significant investment in sea defences, many of the world’s current coves are likely to be washed over or wiped out, effectively submerged by water as a result of the melting polar ice sheets. A tough and immediate reduction in greenhouse gases would only limit frothing sea levels to 50cm, but as the Climate Action Tracker report from June shows, we’re now producing more carbon dioxide emissions than ever before.

The general consensus from climate scientists is that rising temperatures will make extreme weather events more frequent. Prolonged droughts and ferocious storms could lead to widespread flooding and regular wildfires, plus the destruction of natural habitats. Unfortunately, the world’s most beloved tourist landmarks won’t be sheltered from these environmental impacts either – and many will need our help to survive. Here are the major sites at risk from climate change.

Also Read: Seven ways travel can benefit your mental health

Also Read: Hiking, canyoning, climbing and more: finding adventure in the Middle East

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

via Lonely Planet India

Seven ways travel can benefit your mental health

The benefits of travel go beyond making memories and meeting new people. Getting out of your comfort zone and exploring a new place can have a remarkably positive impact on your emotional well-being. Want to know more? Here are seven ways travel can be good for your mental health.

1. It can help you stay fit and healthy

Physical exercise is known to improve mental wellbeing, and travel offers ample opportunity to get active. Whether you enjoy pounding the pavement on a city break, swimming in the sea or summiting mountain peaks, getting to know a new destination by embracing the great outdoors can boost energy levels and improve your mood.

Immersing yourself in and connecting with nature is another key way to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression – and while you can do this anywhere (even in cities), it makes sense to incorporate a little ecotherapy into your travels too.

2. It shakes up the status quo

Whether you venture abroad or simply to the next town over, taking a break from your usual routines with a trip away from home can help break negative cycles, get you out of a rut and reveal a world of possibilities beyond your bubble.

‘When I’m in a period of depression, getting out of the house and out of negative routines (for me, wallowing on the couch and eating junk food) can help to clear my head and give me the space to properly consider the things my brain is telling me,’ says David Owen, YA author and former travel editor. ‘Going somewhere completely outside of my usual sphere, be that in the UK or abroad, can be an effective way of gaining both literal and metaphorical distance. If nothing else, I have interesting stuff to go and look at and do as a distraction!’

Also Read: The world’s safest countries for travel in 2020, according to a new report

Also Read: Hiking, canyoning, climbing and more: finding adventure in the Middle East


via Lonely Planet India

81 Interesting Facts About the Kumbh Mela and Naga Sadhus

The post 81 Interesting Facts About the Kumbh Mela and Naga Sadhus appeared first on Tour My India.

from Tour My India

Hiking, canyoning, climbing and more: finding adventure in the Middle East

Too frequently these days we only hear about the Middle East for all the wrong reasons, but there are so many positive experiences to be had here – this is the cradle of all civilisations west of the Hindu Kush and a place which, for the adventurous traveller, offers a rich blend of unique antiquity, thriving modernity and the ultimate wilderness.


The most epic trail, which allows you to explore the nation of Jordan intimately, is the 650km Jordan Trail – it tracks the ever-changing landscapes of the country, from Umm Qais in the north to Aqaba in the south. Partially waymarked, the route is divided into eight sections, takes about 36 hiking days, and passes 52 villages and all the iconic sites: the rock-hewn city of Petra, the moon-like terrain of Wadi Rum, the Byzantine ruins in Tel Mar Elias, the 12th-century Muslim castle at Kerak and the olive trees and farmlands of Carakale.

Also Read: The world’s safest countries for travel in 2020, according to a new report

Also Read: Best in Travel: Top 10 cities to visit in 2020


via Lonely Planet India

The world’s safest countries for travel in 2020, according to a new report

The Nordic nations of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland are some of the safest countries in the world to visit, according to a new report from security specialists at International SOS.

The organisation released its 11th annual Travel Risk Map, an interactive map which predicts the safest and most dangerous places to travel in 2020, as well as the biggest issues travellers will face. Countries were ranked in different risk categories: insignificant, low, medium, high and extreme.

The Nordic nations were grouped in ‘insignificant’, along with Switzerland, Greenland and Slovenia. The US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and most of Europe were rated as having a “low” level of travel risk, in addition to Argentina, Japan, China and Namibia.

According to International SOS, criteria was based on “the current threat posed to travellers by political violence, social unrest, as well as violent and petty crime.” Other factors include transportation infrastructure, industrial relations, the effectiveness of security and emergency services and susceptibility to natural disasters.

Those ranked as having a “medium” risk level include Russia, India, South Africa, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mozambique, Brazil and Indonesia.

The report considers Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan to be “extreme” risk countries due to ongoing conflicts, while Mexico has a mixed rating. The states of Chihuahua and Tamaulipas are considered “high” risk, while the rest of the country is deemed “moderate”. India, Egypt and Madagascar also have mixed ratings.

For the full report, see here. If you have any health or security concerns about a country you’re planning to visit, it’s always best to check your government’s travel advisory reports.

This article was first published on

via Lonely Planet India

Opinion: Art can reignite a sense of curiosity and attentiveness

curators Patrick Flores Biennale
Patrick Flores

In the past, Europe and America prescribed the canons of what constitutes art or what is considered valuable. Their authority is now being challenged, leading to new ways of appreciation. We no longer have to look only to the likes of Venice for inspiration or paradigms – instead, we can propose our own.

My aim as a curator is to help Asia be more assertive about its distinction as a place where art is produced and disseminated – to be confident to reach out and be a part of a wider conversation.

“A world with access to and an understanding of art can be a kinder world”

Contemporary art deals with complex issues that the world is facing. It’s layered, often with dense references not readily apparent to the audience or even the artists. To have understanding takes a different intellectual labour that requires an investment in the experience.

Instead of fighting the difficulty, the audience can perhaps possess more patience, thinking of it as the nature of experiencing contemporary art. With the help of institutions, seminars, talks and public programmes, we can gradually initiate the audience in engaging with its complexities.

curators Patrick Flores BiennaleNowadays, there is too much spectacle through media, advertising and other forms of consumerism. We have somehow lost the imagination to deal with objects or events on our own using individual methods of processing. At this year’s Singapore Biennale, titled “Every Step in the Right Direction”, we invite audience members to make decisions, and to carry them out by making that first critical step.

By featuring works that can recover an attentiveness to the everyday and its ecology, we hope to renew a necessary sense of curiosity. After all, the everyday is linked to a wider world history, our memories and speculation of the future – it’s not confined to just routine, banal moments.

For example, pioneer performance artist Amanda Heng, known for her work Let’s Walk, brings another iteration of this practice to the programme. By inviting people to walk together around the city, she encourages a reflection on memory and one’s relationship to a place, but also disrupts it in the same moment through collective introspection.

>70: Number of artists whose works will be featured at the 2019 Singapore Biennale

Meanwhile, sonic artist Arnont Nongyao from Chiang Mai has made his own improvised, low-tech instruments to record, in real-time, soundscapes from busy contact zones such as local markets.

There is a spectrum of possibilities to construct experimental experiences – from analogue to homegrown technology and even digitally dependent forms such as virtual reality. At the Singapore Biennale, we wish to inspire creativity and creation. Indeed, a world with access to and an understanding of art can be a kinder world.

Illustrations by Kouzou Sakai

SEE ALSO: Opinion: The (necessary) convergence of art and science

This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine

The post Opinion: Art can reignite a sense of curiosity and attentiveness appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris

Monday, 25 November 2019

An Avatar-like Adventure of Rainforests and Reefs on Australia's Great Barrier Reef Drive

The Great Barrier Reef is a mandatory destination for the global explorer that ranks along with the Grand Canyon, Machu Pichu, Petra, and the Great Wall of China. As amazing as the Great Barrier Reef may be, the far northeastern reaches of Au



from JustLuxe: LuxuryTravel News

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s blessed trail in Kapurthala

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh faith, was one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time. Raised in a Hindu home and conversant with Islamic traditions, the Guru had a deep understanding of spirituality and his teachings were original and continue to be relevant and universal to this date. His teachings, expressed through remarkable poetry, speak of equality, brotherhood and peace. He laid down a set of guiding principles that he believed led to a spiritually fulfilling life, and these are followed by millions of Sikhs globally.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji moved to Sultanpur Lodhi at the behest of his elder sister Bebe Nanki. The siblings enjoyed a deep affectionate bond that would last till the end of her life. She was the first to recognise the extraordinary and unconventional genius of her younger brother. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji needed no persuasion to relocate, and soon took up employment as a manager of stores for the local ruler, Daulat Khan. Sultanpur Lodhi is a sacred site that saw the young Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji find his enlightenment and emerge as a Guru.

Also Read: Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s journeys of faith

Also Read: Top 10 countries to visit in 2020

Gurdwara Sri Ber Sahib, Sultanpur Lodhi, Kapurthala


via Lonely Planet India

100 Interesting Facts about Himachal Pradesh

The post 100 Interesting Facts about Himachal Pradesh appeared first on Tour My India.

from Tour My India

Review: Fauchon L’Hôtel, Paris

pet-friendly hotels
Entrance to the Fauchon L’Hotel

1. A delicious backstory

When Auguste Fauchon opened his very first delicatessen on Place de la Madeleine in 1886, little could he have known that, more than 130 years later, his family name would become a global luxury brand – or, even more amazingly, that customers would be staying overnight. Last summer, Fauchon’s first-ever hotel opened its doors, just a stone’s throw from the site of the original delicatessen, promising an experience that combines Fauchon’s gastronomic credentials with the Parisian joie de vivre the company is known for.

2. Five-star service for all

The attentive staff will happily arrange a cruise or private gallery visit for you, and that five-star service also extends to your dog – not always the case even in pet-friendly hotels. While you check in and enjoy a welcome mocktail, a jewel-encrusted bowl will be brought out for your pup to drink from. Meanwhile, waiting in the room is a splendidly comfortable dog bed, piled with toys, that matches the one you’ll be sleeping on. Indeed, in each of the 54 rooms, no expense has been spared – from the brilliant entertainment set-up, which includes content tablets, to the spacious marble bathrooms.

pet-friendly hotels
The hotel’s 54 spacious rooms feature vibrant furnishings

3. Visual flair

One of the highlights of a visit to a Fauchon store is experiencing its playful design and aesthetic; the bold colours and elaborate food displays are akin to a high-end fashion boutique. This trademark style and over-the-top look has been successfully transplanted to the hotel, courtesy of architect Richard Martin. Forget bland minimalist décor – here, accents of hot pink, black and gold offset eclectic Art Deco and Art Nouveau furnishings. Naturally, there are tasteful piles of pastel-hued macarons everywhere, temptingly placed under glass dome jars for guests to enjoy by the handful.

4. Paw-fectly placed

The hotel’s location could not be better – whether from a two- or four-legged perspective. Boulevard des Capucines boasts some of Paris’ best shopping, and most stores are dog-friendly, while the Louvre museum and the Seine river are no more than a 10-minute walk away. Of similar distance is the Tuileries Garden, and a bit further you’ll find the Palais Royal gardens – these two parks offer some of the best green spaces in the city to walk your furry pal.

pet-friendly hotels
An eye-catching dessert at the Grand Cafe

5. Glutton’s paradise

The dinner menu at the Grand Café, where all meals are served, is a real highlight – and not just because your dog is allowed to join you there. Classic French gastronomy is given a 21st-century makeover, with a small-plates approach and a style of deft yet indulgent cooking you don’t always find in a Parisian kitchen. But what really cements the hotel’s claim to be a true gourmand’s mecca is found in the bedroom. The pink gold Gourmet Bar is a man-sized armoire that opens up to reveal a mouth-watering larder of complimentary Fauchon goodies – such as chocolate truffles, buttery brioche biscuits and jars of foie gras, all to be washed down with the hotel’s signature champagne. It’s a unique – and truly decadent – selling point that likely beats any other minibar on the planet.

Singapore Airlines flies to Paris daily. To book a flight, visit

SEE ALSO: Three hotels in Asia with stunning aesthetics

This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine

The post Review: Fauchon L’Hôtel, Paris appeared first on SilverKris.

from SilverKris

Force for good: The unconventional kung fu nuns of Kathmandu

The car engine is struggling on our climb westward out of Kathmandu Valley. The driver leans on the horn to alert oncoming traffic; if we lose momentum on this steep, winding slope, he won’t be able to pick it up again. There is the distinctive burnt smell of an overworked clutch as the vehicle rounds a brutal final curve. Suddenly, a line of identically clad figures on bicycles appears ahead, each pedalling at a measured but steady pace up the same hill that has all but defeated our tired taxi.

Getting ready to cycle
Drukpa nuns getting ready for their daily cycling training

At a glance, one might mistake the cyclists for a fitness group out for a morning ride. Looking more closely, however, each rider wears a brightly coloured windbreaker emblazoned with two words: Drukpa Nun. These women are heading back to Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery, a cluster of white buildings perched at the very summit of this slope. High on a ridge, the nunnery, which was first established here in 1989, is partially flanked by the looming, verdant forests of the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. It overlooks the city, and on clear days offers views of the Himalayan mountain range.

The bicycles are just the first indication of the unconventional approach this monastic order has embraced, rewriting the rules on how its nuns engage spiritually, physically and socially with the world. Traditionally, Buddhist nuns have had limited ceremonial and spiritual roles in comparison to monks, and spend most of their time in quiet contemplation, largely removed from the general public. Yet, under the guidance of the incarnate leader of their 1,000-year-old Drukpa lineage, the Gyalwang Drukpa, this order of nuns is doing things somewhat differently.

Drukpa nuns practising kung fu
The Drukpa nuns have been practising kung fu since 2008

One activity here is particularly surprising: kung fu. Each day, dozens of nuns gather in a courtyard. They stretch, and then Jigme Rupa Lhamo, a slight, angular woman with watchful eyes and shoulders drawn back in impeccable posture, begins calling out sequences as her fellow nuns step, punch, kick and whirl through the air in unison. Rupa, as she is familiarly known to her peers, is from the state of Himachal Pradesh in India and has been a nun for 12 years, but has only been practising kung fu for eight. “I never got to do anything like this at school, and I’m proud and happy to have the chance,” the 26-year-old says.

The nuns at Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery first began practising kung fu in 2008, and found that the intense discipline of martial arts aligns well with the structure of life here. Mornings start before dawn, with two hours of meditation beginning at 3am, and the day does not end until 10 at night. With about 400 resident nuns, schedules can vary depending on the individual’s age, responsibilities and if a ceremony is being held, but all days pass in constant, rigorous activity.

There are several hours of puja (devotional rituals) held every morning and evening, and nuns spend up to seven hours each day in religious study. Apart from kung fu, the Gyalwang Drukpa has instituted some notable changes to what women in the Drukpa order can do religiously. Nuns here now practise to take part in special ceremonial masked dances called cham, and also learn an advanced set of tantric teachings, practices and meditations known as the Six Yogas of Naropa. There are also groups who go out for morning cycling training and others who practise kung fu daily.

Drukpa nuns studying
The nuns spend up to seven hours each day in religious study

The kung fu began here on the suggestion of the Gyalwang Drukpa as a way to expand the nuns’ roles beyond prayer and tasks such as cooking and cleaning. The nuns receive training from a kung fu master who visits regularly from Vietnam. For them, kung fu is primarily practised as a way of sharpening their powers of concentration, which aids their focus during meditation and builds discipline to work hard in the service of others.

Unlike other students of martial arts, the nuns do not engage in combat competitions nor adhere to a system of levels and belt colours. Instead, they demonstrate their skills during religious festivals and gatherings in Nepal and India. Increasingly, they are also being invited to demonstrate and share their work in secular settings, including overseas at international events like the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s 2017 Trust Conference in London, where they did a demonstration and spoke on a panel entitled “Breaking Taboos”.

“Kung fu is just one way we can show that nuns can do everything”

This has brought the nunnery a level of fame, and even played a part in attracting new initiates. “I first thought about becoming a nun when I was 12, when I saw them performing kung fu at a festival,” 19-year-old Jigme Tsering Chodol shares. Despite her parents’ misgivings (they wanted her to study medicine, like her sister), she left her home in Ladakh, India three years ago to join the order. Now, Tsering spends hours each day practising, jumping and landing soft-footed as she plunges a curved sword through the air.

Nearby, a group of younger nuns, aged about nine through 14, practise more basic movements. Among them is Jigme Yeshey Lahadol, a gregarious 12-year-old who joined the nunnery a year ago. When a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015, Yeshey’s life changed in an instant. Her family is from the Haku area in Rasuwa, one of the worst-hit regions in the country. It was her father who first floated the idea of her joining the nunnery. He had received a monastic education himself when he was younger, and Yeshey says she was enthusiastic about the idea. “In my old school, I used to take part in dance classes,” she shares. “But I like kung fu better!”

The Druk Amitabha Monastery Kathmandu Nepal
The Druk Amitabha Monastery

The nunnery was not spared the effects of the 2015 earthquake either, and signs of the damage it wrought are still evident around the compound. The nuns’ living quarters were no longer safe, and for more than four years they have made do, first in tents and then in other spaces around the nunnery. A large building capable of housing up to 700 nuns is currently under construction. Meanwhile, the badly damaged giant hall that used to hold over 3,000 people for religious ceremonies and teachings is being cleared into a pile of rubble. It is not yet clear if and when it will be rebuilt. During a recent ceremony, over 11,000 people visited the nunnery in a single day and the nuns set up tents outside to accommodate the devotees.

However, if there is anything the nuns of Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery excel at, it is confident and creative organisation. In addition to kung fu, the nuns put together epic cycling trips, setting out from Kathmandu for holy sites as far away as India’s Bodh Gaya and their sister nunnery in Ladakh. Groups of over 300 nuns travel for months on their bicycles, covering anywhere from 30 to 90km a day depending on the terrain. They carry much of their own gear, accompanied by a single truck with additional supplies and one emergency vehicle. They set up camp and cook their own meals, and two nuns with training in bicycle repair are on-hand to troubleshoot any mechanical problems.

Waterfall at Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park
Beautiful waterfall at Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, which flanks the nunnery. Photo credit: Lisa Strachan/

These gruelling journeys are both spiritual practice and social service. They do not talk as they cycle, but instead focus on repeating sacred mantras. Being an all-female team always piques the curiosity of the people living in the places they visit, and they use this interest to spread environmental and anti-trafficking messaging. “When we did disaster relief work around Nepal, we heard how people who didn’t have money were selling off their girls,” recalls Jigme Konchok Lhamu, a 25-year-old nun and kung fu practitioner. “We wanted to raise awareness about this, about why girls are important and what they can do if given the right chances.”

For the past 15 years, the nuns have also undertaken annual treks, some as long as 600km. They use these trips as an opportunity to spread eco-consciousness and pick up litter along the way. This is a practice they continue while at the nunnery, too. Every Saturday, groups of nuns go down to Swayambhunath, one of Kathmandu’s most important Buddhist sites, and pick up 40 to 50 sacks of litter. “After seeing us clean up trash over and over in the same spot, other people started taking responsibility too. Now people don’t dump things there,” Konchok says.

Within the nunnery compound, too, the nuns strive for self-sufficiency and sustainability. Each nun is part of a specialised work group, trained to do everything from administration to gardening, plumbing and electrical work. They also compost waste and grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs. Other eco-friendly measures include using solar water heaters and harvesting rainwater.

Stretching before training session
The nuns stretch before an evening kung fu training session

Despite the many positive changes effected by the nuns, there are inevitable critics. There are people who comment on everything from the nuns’ bicycling uniform to the perceived violence of practising kung fu. However, over time, their work has also gained them many admirers. Some of their biggest supporters are close to home, the residents of the Rampur village area where the nunnery is located.

“[After the earthquake], they were the first to help us, before anyone else,” says Jamuna Tamang, a farmer who has lived in Rampur her whole life. Along with providing food, tarpaulins and medical attention, the nuns also helped villagers salvage belongings from houses that were destroyed and provided materials for villagers to use in setting up transitional shelter or building permanent homes. Tamang says she’s seen all the things the nuns do, from cycling and kung fu to cleaning up the streets. “It’s good when a woman can do everything,” she says.

Kathmandu Nuns going through a class
Apart from religious study, the nuns also study Tibetan and English

The nuns’ strong ethos of self-reliance, hard work and service, along with their ability to spread ideas on social change has also attracted a number of collaborators. In addition to partnering with Live to Love, a secular nonprofit founded by the Gyalwang Drukpa, the nuns work with local waste management organisations, and with the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology to hold eye treatment camps. They have also begun collaborating with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN to raise awareness on female empowerment and human trafficking issues. In October, they collectively received an Asia Game Changers Award from the Asia Society in New York.

“Buddha never said girls cannot do this or that.” Konchok says. “Kung fu is [just one way] we can show nuns can do everything, and that if girls are given the right chance, they can shine.”

Rescuing animals
Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery is also home to many rescue animals

The other residents of Druk Gawa Khilwa nunnery

The nunnery grounds also house some charming non-human residents. There is a sheep named Kalu (a diminutive word that translates to “black”) and Tsetar (Tibetan for “rescue”), an old brown horse, who are inseparable best friends, just two of the dozens of animals that the nuns have rescued. Each animal has a backstory, including dogs brought home from locations as far flung as Odisha and Gorakhpur in India; sleek tortoiseshell cats that lurk around the main gate; a collection of ducks, turkeys and chickens whose lives have been purchased to save them from slaughterhouses; and a cow with severe burns named Lucky, the survivor of a deadly fire, that the nuns tend to daily.

3 Buddhist sites to visit in Kathmandu

1. Boudhanath

Located in the city and with a rich history spanning back to the fifth century, this is regarded by Tibetan Buddhists as the holiest religious site outside of Tibet.

2. Swayambhunath

The most significant Buddhist site for Kathmandu’s indigenous Newar community sits atop a steep hill overlooking the city.

3. Namo Buddha

Located about 40km from the city centre, this stupa and monastery sit on a hilltop surrounded by lush farmland and offer scenic views.

Getting there

Visits are by appointment only. Email to inquire. To get there, take a taxi from Kathmandu and ask to go to the White Nunnery (Seto Gumba), which is behind Adeshwar Mandir and close to the Main Swayambhu.

SilkAir flies daily between Singapore and Kathmandu. To book a flight, visit

SEE ALSO: This cobbler in Kathmandu is keeping his family business alive

This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine 

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