My Hong Kong Experience by Mark St. James
Where can you find the world’s most delectable dim sum (Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan, naturally), the most grandiose shopping, the most fervent clientele and the most alluring skyline that, come eight o’clock every evening, lights up in a scene that gives Vegas a run for its money? Why, it’s Hong Kong, of course! Whether I was taking the Star Ferry across the stately Victorian Harbour or hiking through a vivid, green lush hillside on winding paved paths high up on The Peak (the view was nothing short of breathtaking), I found myself in the moment. I was placed firmly where I knew centuries of historic events have taken place leading up to the modern Hong Kong that I love so much today. From ancient grounds and holy shrines like Tian Tan Buddha and the Wong Tai Sin temple to some of the tallest buildings in the world (including the International Finance Centre and International Commerce Centre), there started a fierce battle within me: to continue on with my explorations of the mountainous cityscape, grab another delicious morsel to enjoy…or GO SHOPPING! You can guess where I went. From the largest mall in Hong Kong on the Kowloon side, Harbour City, to any number of world-class shops in Causeway Bay—including the very best from Europe and around the world—the shopping was…dangerous. I found myself staring at pieces that were only seen by the elite because Hong Kong and its booming economy can support that level of elegance. I could certainly get into trouble here. But what I found most intriguing was the home grown Hong Kong fashion scene. Pristine style choices made by passing pedestrians would steal my gaze simply because of the level of thought that went into a single outfit. They were always immaculate and incredibly polished. I could tell that everyone researched which fashion pieces to invest in and which designers to follow. It was this local interest that led me to look inward and meet some very cool Hong Kong designers. Six Lee and Michelle Lai of MISCHA handbags are designers from Hong Kong that flourish because of the demand for fashion that starts from Hong Kong and mainland China. But these big designers aren’t the only ones making waves. Other local fashion designers get a head start at the Fashion Farm Foundation, which is an organization that takes young designers, builds them up and then showcases them for the world to see on global stages including Paris, Milan, and soon, New York. In short, Hong Kong was constantly amazing, with people bustling in every which direction, a million things to eat, see and do, and me in the middle of it all. Describing my week-long stay in this world-class city as a whirlwind would be an understatement. Next time, I plan to stay few more weeks and bring you front row coverage of Hong Kong fashion week! Hong Kong: Asia’s World City is a cosmopolitan of vibrancy, varieties and trendiness. Visitors will be amazed by the unique fusion of east meets west, the diversity of new and old, exquisite culinary experiences and fantastic shopping. Hong Kong offers Every Moment. A Different World. Discover Hong Kong! This article was written as part of a press trip sponsored by Hong Kong Tourism and Mode Media.
Photography by Carlos Esteves
Bhaktapur: what a better place to start to feel Nepali life than this historical city! With its narrow streets, several central squares and courtyards, one can come across a temple or touch a statue several hundred years old. Known as the City of Devotees, the typical Newari architecture found here is based on a combination of red bricks and wood carving. The unique use of materials, colors, shapes and forms are exhibited also in the wearable art and clothing. Be immersed in this ancient, "devoted" atmosphere! About the photographer: Carlos Esteves has a degree in Computer Science and a Master of Business Administration. Photography is his major passion and since 2010, his portfolio has been certified by the Associação Portuguesa dos Profissionais da Imagem. He's also passionate about travelling and discovering the authenticity of the places he visits. He was a finalist of the Travel Photographer of the Year competition for two consecutive years and he's always looking to capture his next powerful image.
By Danielle S. Fuechtmann
- Photography by Javier Ortega India is traced with an intricate lace-work pattern of roadways that cover 3,516,452 km (2009). Essential to the growth and survival of rural areas, these roadways provide a link between villages or small farming communities and booming metropolitan centres. However, despite the importance of roads and land transportation, India largely lacks consistent driving regulations and road upkeep. Without regulations and funding, roads are very rough and narrow, major highways are only two lanes, and a significant part of the rural population does not have access to all-weather roads. Even so, travelling around India can be a very enjoyable and exciting thing to do. Public transportation, particularly India’s fast and efficient bus and train systems, is a very popular way to travel, especially through mountain regions inaccessible to car or motorcycle. Buses offer a fast and inexpensive way to travel, even taking regular stops for passengers to go to the washroom or get a snack. Some drivers do take riskier maneuvers though, particularly on quieter night routes, so it’s wise to travel during the day if possible. You can book tickets on state-run buses up to a month in advance, but it’s advised to nab a seat in between the axles to minimize bumping and shaking due to road conditions. India’s train system is an exciting way to travel, following extensive routes though the beautiful country. With approximately 17 million passengers travelling by train every day, in addition to freight, the Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest employers. The railways are always bustling, but the system is thoughtfully designed and quite efficient. While renting cars and hiring drivers is quite common, particularly in metropolitan areas, more flexible forms of transportation are often more well-adapted to India’s roadways. Bicycles and motorcycles are very popular forms of independent transportation, as they are nimble enough to dart through the congested roads and avoid rough patches. It’s a common sight to see several members of a family riding together on a motorcycle, as well as tourists taking advantage of this flexible form of travel. In response to the popularity of cycles, bicycles and motorized, parts and other related services can be easily found throughout the country. Although less common now because of the dominance of motorized vehicles, traditional rickshaws and other carts, sometimes pulled by animals, can still be found in quieter roadways and communities. Practical and simple, this long-standing way of travel makes up for speed with its endurance and the opportunity it gives to truly recognize the beauty and warmth of the country. Autorickshaws and their variations, the vikram or tempo, marry the traditional rickshaw with a motor, a hybrid able to carry more passengers and achieve greater speed. India is a bustling country; whether you are riding a train, zipping through the streets, or chugging along on an autorickshaw, the vibrant web of transportation provides a lovely window into the daily life and customs of different regions. While moving from place to place can be made more calming with a book and earplugs, taking the time to observe can show little snapshots into the daily life of someone else.
By Tracey Ellis
A New Generation of Women’s Travel Guides You will not find a ‘must-see or do’ list of the top tourist attractions in Heather-Stimmler Hall’s naughty travel guides, but you may find an exclusive boutique hotel or a swanky bar etched with some glamorous history in which to have a cool cocktail in. The American-born author helps women travel independently to the sexiest cities on the planet - Paris and New York - with style, grace, and sex appeal. Heather shows you the slicker side of city life; daring lingerie shops, luxurious hotels, sensuous spas, and romantic restaurants are just a small part of the seductive path she leads you on. Although described as ‘naughty’ travel guides, these books are more about discovering your sensuous and adventurous side rather than misbehaving. But when in Paris it is not just all about tempting lingerie and cabarets. There is advice for what to wear from ‘Petite Brigitte’ (an insider Parisienne view), who describes the fashion as an ‘mélange of artless elegance’ which should encompass silk scarves, tailored white shirts, and flattering white jeans in a dark rinse. There are also recommendations for erotic photographers, body art salons, clubs where you can be a dancing diva, and sexy shoe shopping. More than just your regular tourist guide, these suggestive handbooks provide insight to your inner ‘femme fatale’; perhaps provoking you to explore other areas of the city you may not have previously considered or even knew about. The most famous vintage dealer in Paris, Didier Ludot’s shop overlooking the gardens of Palais Royal, will let you discover 1960’s Givenchy dresses and Hermes bags in pristine condition, and when you’re hungry the decadent Laduree ‘salon de the’ serves up the most exquisite pastries in a sumptuous atmosphere. Or get a custom corset made at Cadolle on rue St-Honore. Herminie Cadolle was the inventor of the bra who freed women from the constraints of the corset, then reintroduced it to the fashion world after World War 1. These are just a few of the hidden gems to be discovered in Naughty Paris. More and more women are traveling alone for business and for pleasure, and they have individual, feminine requirements. According to Wanderlust, even married women are traveling more often alone or with girlfriends. Of course the main concern is safety, but there are still many fun adventures to be had. This is where Heather’s recommendations reflect the strong, independent women of today, as it is foremost a lady’s guide, for girls who are ‘no longer girls but who still want to have fun’. On their own terms, of course. Written with a sophisticated flair, there is nothing seedy or vulgar about the recommendations in this guide. The author has done her research and is refreshingly informative with punchy and clear descriptions of what to expect if you do decide to cross that adventurous line; her writing is as seductive as the content. For the woman who is curious but a bit shy, this book will potentially open up new exciting doors of adventure, or provide them with a perfectly indulgent itinerary to follow. Heather provides the best solo-female-friendly places to go where you can feel wildly independent without being harassed. She also suggests the necessary ‘girly weekend’ places to rendezvous with your gal pals, or the best places for intimate dining a deux with your partner. Beautifully designed and photographed, it was named the Best Travel Guidebook of the year in the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards, but be aware; there is a racy side to this book if you so choose to read, and it is fascinating. You can take what you want from this guide and leave the rest. Perhaps just reading about it is enough…but as the saying goes; “what happens in Paris, stays in Paris”. Heather Stimmler-Hall is a travel journalist and creator of the blog Secrets of Paris (www.secretsofparis.com). She has also recently released Naughty New York with the help of eight local experts and journalists. All of the major online booksellers carry the Naughty Paris Guide, including Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Borders, and Powell’s, as well as the Kindle edition on Amazon.
By Angela Jelicic
- Photography: Marco Casiraghi When we travel, it is the sounds, smells, tastes and sights that stay in our hearts and minds. Photographer Marco Casiraghi shares these experiences with us as he captures Vietnam’s rich culture that explodes with refreshing colour. Casiraghi is a published photographer, journalist and writer. His work has appeared in Viajes National Geographic, Marie Claire Travel and Yacht and Sail and other major publications.