When someone embraces a person they love, it manifests on the brain a mappable sensation of electricity that can actually be seen on an MRI scan. Love affects the brain in the same way that stimulants such as alcohol or drugs affect our physiology and physchology. Love, like whiskey, is addictive. And cities, like love, can cause us to be irrational and abandon our plans and direction to return back again and again.
There are many cities I love, but there are only two cities in the world that I just can’t quit.
They are both sweltering delta cities with a French colonial history. One is at the mouth of the Mississippi and the other at the mouth of the Mekong. This week, I returned to my favorite place in Asia. How do I love thee? I count (and photograph) the ways.
25. … Read More »
Upon my first visit to any new Asian city, I am most excited to try the local food. Perhaps the second-most interesting feature unique to each new destination is the creative ways that people are transported across the city. Below are some of my favorite modes of transportation across Southeast Asian cities:
BAJAJ: JAKARTA, INDONESIA
A bajaj, named after the Indian Bajaj motor company, is a motorized rickshaw. There are an estimated 20,000 of these in Indonesia’s “Big Durian” capital of Jakarta. They will seat two comfortably and even accommodate five or six with a little motivation. The drivers are generally upbeat and fairly honest, though a little negotiation is necessary. Just ask a young local what you should pay to your destination before getting in.
The ride can be fun. These guys will fearlessly make a … Read More »
“Come Quickly. I have tasted the stars.”– 19th century champagne print add, often attributed to Dom Perignon
5. LUNA BAR, Kuala Lumpur
Located just across the street from the KL Tower (the city’s unmissable ‘space needle’) on the 34th floor of the Pacific Regency Hotel, the Luna Bar offers a spectacular view of the Petronas Towers and Kuala Lumpur skyline. After 10pm, secure a spot on the upper deck for the best view of KL available. Unfortunately, the tempting swimming pool in the middle is only for hotel guests. But, what’s the worst that can happen- you get kicked out? Finish your drink and hop in.
4. XIU, Beijing
Another sprawling Grand Hyatt rooftop bar, Xiu is modestly located on the 5th floor of the hotel. The design is a combination of sleek contemporary and traditional Beijing architecture (recreated, of course). The … Read More »
How is there so little street crime?
Don’t get me wrong, there is crime in Asia. There is government corruption, bribery, domestic abuse and organized crime. However, a traveler is highly unlikely to get caught up in this. “Street crime” such as robbery, assault, rape and murder are astonishingly low, especially in North Asia (Mongolia somewhat excluded). In large Asian cities, I have no fear listening to my iPod and walking home through unknown neighborhoods for two hours in the middle of the night.
Travelers and expats appreciate this quality over here, yet can’t seem to explain exactly why it is. Rich and poor are living together. Surely, there are plenty of “opportunities” for crime walking down the streets. So why is Asia so safe?
Here are a few factors that likely influence the low street crime of Asia:
THE SHAME FACTOR
In the USA, … Read More »
So, what’s the difference?
To a non-Asian, the divide between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia is a curious one that takes much time to understand. But as a first-time traveler may find out, there are obvious differences in the people, the traditions, the daily lives and the social and political characteristics between these regions. Let’s try to break it down a bit:
Northeast Asia (China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia the Koreas, Japan and Taiwan) and Southeast Asia(Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore) are both extraordinary places to visit- with thousands of years of history, crowded metropolises, warm people and wonderful culinary traditions.
Generally, North Asian countries, while all having unique characteristics, are largely influenced by Confucianism and ancient China. With the recent economic rise of China, the continuing growth of South Korea and Taiwan and the established prosperity of Japan and Hong Kong, North Asia is one of the world’s most prosperous regions and also one of its … Read More »
The health benefits of a sauna are many. Saunas help open the pores of the skin and release toxins. Warm steam helps the flow of blood and relieves joints and muscle aches. You will leave looking and feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready to hit the town again.
No trip to Asia is complete without visiting a sauna. So, experiencing rooms full of (mostly) old, naked Asian men, or women, is not what inspired you to buy that expensive ticket over here? You’re feeling a bit of unease about stripping bare and flapping around, perhaps protected by only a little towel? Well, we’ll try to help you get your toes wet with confidence:
1) ALL Asian saunas from Tokyo to Vientiane will require you to disrobe and shower before sampling the sauna rooms or hot tubs. So, first you will lock your shoes … Read More »
And by cheapest we mean cheap and worth wasting your time to hunt down.