In pictures: The best of Bali

Posted by - July 30, 2018

LOCATED at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands with Java to the west and Lombok to the east, Bali is one of Southeast Asia’s most enchanting islands.
The island has seen a significant rise in tourists since the 1980s and makes up for most of the tourist numbers to Indonesia. In fact, tourism-related businesses make up 80 percent of its economy.
Singaporeans seem to love this Indonesian island a lot Home to the biggest Hindu population in Indonesia, Bali boasts a multitude of exotic religious sites set against stunning natural backdrops such as the cliffside Uluwatu Temple and the Besakih Temple.
Travelers will enjoy the island’s warm hospitality and highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music as well.
Aside from cultural and spiritual charm, the island is also known for the beachside city of Kuta with lively bars; popular resort towns Seminyak, Sanur, and Nusa Dua; cliff-guarded “hidden” shores of Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Dreamland, and Bingin; and yoga and meditation retreats.
Whether you fancy taking a walk along its chic cafe-lined streets or shopping at one of its many designer boutiques or hitting one of its many world-class diving and surfing spots, Bali promises there will never be a dull moment.
By sunset, as the night rolls in, the island pulsates with exciting clubbing venues with packed dance floors spread throughout the southern regions of Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak.
It’s almost impossible to discover all of Bali on one trip alone.
Take a look at all that Bali has to offer:
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The post In pictures: The best of Bali appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Why the monkey, tourist combo is a disaster waiting to happen

Posted by - May 25, 2018

TAKING selfies with monkeys seems like a great idea until they steal your possessions and attack you.
This was the unfortunate reality for two French tourists at India’s Taj Mahal. The sightseers were left with nasty scratches and bite marks after being attacked by a troop of monkeys.
Report: Bali has no cruelty-free wildlife tourist attractions While tourists are encouraged not to feed the cheeky primates, sometimes their quietness is mistaken for cuteness, and people get too close.
Then they spring their attack.
Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal, is reportedly home to 10,000 of India’s 50 million monkeys.
A post shared by Made Doels (@madedoels) on May 18, 2018 at 9:25pm PDT
They are fed by Hindus who worship the Monkey God, Hanuman, and so have become accustomed to being treated well and expect food.
Other monkeys, however, have learned how to hold stolen items ransom in return for food.
According to a study by Fany Brotcorne, a University of Liege primatologist discovered monkeys have learned to steal an item and hold it for ransom.
A tour of the Amazon River in Singapore? Huh? The study was conducted at the Uluwatu Temple in Bali Indonesia.
For years, macaque monkeys have been grabbing glasses, cameras, and wedges of cash from ticket booths then waiting for stunned tourists to offer up food.
Most of the time, a site warden will come to their aide, and the ransom is fulfilled with snacks.

For a long time, it was believed this learned behavior was isolated to this specific Indonesia-based temple.
But the monkeys of Taj Mahal have also been displaying mafia-style techniques to get food, Sharon Stephenson shared with Stuff.
“There’s a right way and a wrong way to convince a monkey to give you back your jandal. I, apparently, have chosen the wrong one,” she wrote.
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Stephenson experienced “mischevious monkey business” first hand when one stole her sandals outside Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, also known as the “Baby Taj.”
The naughty primate only returned her shoes when the tour guide threw a packet of peanuts at it. Even then, it sniffed the packet while still clenching the shoes until it was sure it wasn’t being conned.
Don’t fall victim to this monkey business Staying smart around sneaky monkeys can be the difference between keeping hold of your valuables and going home empty-handed.
So, here are a few tips to outsmart the “terror monkeys’:
1. Be vigilant of the alpha males These are usually the larger gray-haired monkeys and can turn aggressive quickly. If one of these has stolen your goodies, go and get some help from park rangers.
2. Don’t eat food in front of them They are motivated by food. If you snack on a rustling packet of chips or chomp away at a Twinkie, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll swarm you.
3. Don’t wrestle with them Never tug on your belongings or attack a monkey. They will fight back, and they don’t play fair.
Most of the time, if a determined monkey has stolen something of yours, it is already too late. Let it go.
If you’re in a location where monkeys have learned ransom techniques, grab some food and bribe them.
4. Monkeys don’t smile If you see a monkey’s teeth, walk away. Baring their teeth is a sign of aggression.
5. Make yourself bigger In a rare case, a monkey may try to attack you. After all, they are wild animals.
If you feel threatened, make yourself bigger by standing up tall, make loud noises and wave your arms around. If this doesn’t scare them, it will attract attention and someone may help.
6. Seek medical attention If you happen to be bitten or scratched, make sure you clean the area and apply antiseptic straight away. Then seek medical attention ASAP to safeguard against infection.
The post Why the monkey, tourist combo is a disaster waiting to happen appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Why is Ubud Food Festival important for Indonesia?

Posted by - April 10, 2018

UBUD FOOD FESTIVAL (UFF) 2018 is kicking off this weekend and set to be an event full of fantastic flavors, experimental cooking, intriguing workshops, insightful talks and plenty of sampling traditional and progressive dishes.
The organizers have certainly packed in a full schedule.
Guest can watch cooking demonstrations at the Kitchen Stage and Teater Kuliner as well as attended special events in some of Ubud’s most magical dining destinations.
Gluten-free in Kuala Lumpur? We’ve got you covered There will also be intimate masterclasses where “trainees” can learn from some of the best chefs on the planet.
Food tours, films, live music, markets and more are also waiting to be experienced at the festival.
If you’re going on a budget or you’ve put a bit aside to do and try everything, then don’t fret as the festival reflects every budget and taste.
“Showcasing Indonesia’s diverse cuisines, unique local produce, and culinary heroes both emerging and established, UFF celebrates the archipelago’s rich culinary heritage and the exciting future of its food industry,” UFF founder Janet DeNeefe told Travel Wire Asia.
UFF wants to put Indonesia firmly on the culinary map of Asia and create an awareness around each tantalizing dish, “unlike the cuisines of other Asian nations such as Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean, Indonesian food isn’t as well known internationally,” DeNeefe added.
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“The UFF strives to share Indonesian food with the world. Through dynamic collaborations and in-depth discussions, the UFF connects Indonesian industry professionals with their international counterparts, to foster networking and knowledge exchange.”
In particular, the free Teater Kuliner cooking demonstration stage will be a focal point of the event. Here, talented chefs take guests on a culinary voyage of lesser-known regional cuisines, such as the foraged foods of the Papuan highlands and the highland of West Timor.
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Equally, the free Food for Thought panel events will insightfully and descriptively inform guests of the issues Indonesian farmers face and tackle pressing issues such as the rice crisis, food sovereignty and improving livelihoods of those who supply food.
UFF is undoubtedly going to be an enthralling event for Indonesia, one where guests can learn new skills, understand more about the stunning archipelago’s heritage and explore ways to combat issues within the food industry.
Is a cup of this coffee worth a creature’s life? The food scene is rapidly evolving as UFF International Program Consultant Jayden Mackenzie reminds us, “The conversation in kitchens has changed from ‘This is how we do it here’ to ‘What if we did this with that?'”.
This rhetoric will be displayed all around the festival as guests witness experimental cooking, flavor fusions, the genius collaboration of culinary minds bending the kitchen rules and of course, questioning traditional industries to try to find sustainable and successful solutions to growing industry-related issues.
Want to be part of this awesome event? You can still purchase tickets via the website.
The post Why is Ubud Food Festival important for Indonesia? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Is a cup of this coffee worth a creature’s life?

Posted by - April 6, 2018

WHILE we know eating puppies and drinking snake wine is cruel, what’s your moral stance on drinking kopi luwak?
If you’re unfamiliar with what kopi luwak is, allow us to enlighten you.
Kopi luwak, also known as civet coffee, is the world’s most expensive coffee retailing at around US$700 per kilogram,
How is it made? Asian palm civets eat coffee berries and poop them out, which will then be collected up and turned into coffee for human consumption.
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Fermentation occurs as the cherries pass through the civet’s intestines and their digestive enzymes change the structure of the proteins in the coffee beans, removing some of the acidity to make a smoother and somewhat tastier cup of coffee.
Asian palm civets are intriguing little creatures. They are small, mottled gray and black creatures around the same size as a domestic cat. Their bodies are long, stocky and covered in coarse, messy hair.
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They are nocturnal animals that can be found roaming the wild rainforests in the Indonesian archipelago islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Sulawesi.
Civets form an important part of the food chain in the region by eating pesky insects that affect crops and in turn, are eaten by leopards and snakes.
However, Asian palm civets also raid fresh fruit fields and not only eat the fresh fruit crops but also mark their territory with the strong scent given off by glands near the genitals.
7 vacation traditions that should be revived It’s through the passing of excreted coffee beans past these glands on the way out that give kopi luwak its unique taste.
For many years, farmers saw civets as pests. However, as the specialized coffee industry grew and tourism increased to Indonesia, civets became “protected” creatures – but for the capital gain of farmers and zoos.
When kopi luwak farmers realized collecting scat from the wild was too taxing and time-consuming, they began trapping these delicate creatures and forcing them into captivity.
A civet’s captivity means being force-fed only coffee cherries, being kept in cramped, unsanitary, caged conditions and quite literally going stir crazy as the noise and light pollution interrupts their innate nocturnal habits.
A report released in 2016 by researchers from Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and London-based non-profit World Animal Protection found the living conditions of these beautiful creatures to be deplorable.
“Some of these cages were literally the tiniest – we would call them rabbit hutches. They’re absolutely soaked through with urine and droppings all over the place,” Neil D’Cruze, one of the researchers told National Geographic.
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If the description doesn’t make you recoil and reach for the tissue box to wipe your tears, then maybe knowing the introducer of kopi luwak to the west urges you to not try this specialist coffee.
In an article published by The Guardian, Tony Wild of Taylors of Harrogate, claims he was the guy who first brought authentic, wild kopi luwak to the wealthy western world after he read about it in an article.
Forget fridge magnets, learn how to roll smokes as a souvenir in Indonesia However, he now pleads with Westerners not to try the cruelly produced product.
“Nowadays, it is practically impossible to find genuine wild kopi luwak – the only way to guarantee that would be to actually follow a luwak around all night yourself.”
Wild refers to the kopi luwak in his article as an “utterly preposterous, utterly hideous trade.”
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There is no certification program to ensure the “wild” stamp on the bag of US$400 coffee is collected from free-to-roam civets.
Although Japanese scientist Eiichiro Fukusaki claims he has invented a method to detect whether this “poop coffee” is genuine or not, it’s most likely to have come from an excruciating uncomfortable and distressed caged civet.
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If you wouldn’t buy a snakeskin bag, a seal-pup fur coat, alligator skin boots or an angora wool jumper, then don’t buy kopi luwak.
The post Is a cup of this coffee worth a creature’s life? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Forget fridge magnets, learn how to roll smokes as a souvenir in Indonesian

Posted by - April 2, 2018

FRIDGE magnets, sand in a jar and destination T-shirts are among the top vacation souvenirs brought back by holiday-goers who want to make their memories last.
Because nothing says, “We had so much fun!” like colored sand in a bottle shaped like the country you just visited, right? Wrong.
And Temanggung regency in Central Java, Indonesia have already figured this out as they’re switching up conventional vacation offerings with local crafts and tastes such as the art of hand-rolling cigarettes and field-to-cup coffee.
Go-Jek could be riding into these Southeast Asian countries soon Woro Andijani, head of the Temanggung Culture and Tourism Agency, said to Antara on Wednesday that tobacco and coffee were the town’s main products.
So, what better way to make a trip memorable for visitors than by teaching them about the local hallmark produce, learning the art of hand-rolling cigarettes, even if you don’t smoke, and tasting some of Indonesia’s, if not Asia’s, finest coffee.
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“Rolling up tobacco in cigarettes is unique and can be considered a cultural attraction. Drinking coffee collectively is already something common here, and the same can be expected for hand-rolled cigarettes,” Woro added.
Just as New York welcomes visitors with fresh coffee and hot dog stalls, London has tea and bipolar weather, and Beijing has smog and spicy hotpots, Temanggung wants to establish a trademark familiarity with visitors.
How many of the world’s rarest passport stamps have you got? Woro added that she hopes to see coffee shops developing on to main roads and all over town.
While learning a new skill such as hand-rolling smokes is fun, Temmanggung also has plenty of natural beauty and amusements to offer.
Set just back from the coast, Temmanggung boasts beautiful ocean views from the incredible mountain tops of Posong and Mount Sumbing.
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Take the kids for a family day out at the Pikatan Waterpark for a splash around.
Or take a stroll up to Sumber Mata Air Umbul Jumprit to see a tiny temple in a cave surrounded by water which is said to heal you.
The post Forget fridge magnets, learn how to roll smokes as a souvenir in Indonesian appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Drinks with a view: 5 best rooftop bars in Asia

Posted by - March 15, 2018

A THRIVING NIGHTLIFE keeps things interesting in cities.
And as the cocktail bar scene continues to grow in Asia, more and more bars are mushrooming in the region.
Cocktails afloat a bamboo raft: Could this be the world’s best bar? From hunting down speakeasy-styled bars or hitting up neighborhood watering holes to enjoying a romantic interlude at snazzier and classier joints, going for a drink or two in a foreign city tops some travelers’ to-do lists.
There’s nothing quite like enjoying a refreshing glass of Long Island Tea at one of these rooftop bars in Asia, overlooking the vibrant city lights, wind in the hair and all that jazz.
Singapore: 1-Altitude Located at One Raffles Place tower in the heart of Singapore, 1-Altitude features several dining and drinking venues stretching from the 61st to 63rd floors. Sporting a 360-degree view, the bar (said to be the world’s highest al fresco bar) boasts the highest views and arguably some of the best. But here’s the catch: there’s nothing but a thin, shoulder-height glass panel to impede the vista below. While you’re on top of the world, you’ll not only be able to spot Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer but also all the other surrounding neighborhoods. By evening, it’s a top stop for sunsets but as the sun goes down, the music level and the energy goes up with live music and DJs taking over the bar.
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Be sure to make reservations in advance as getting a table can be quite a challenge.
Thailand: Vertigo and Moon Bar Reach for the clouds at Bangkok’s rooftop bars Vertigo and Moon Bar, located on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree hotel. Arguably the best ones in the city, it’s so popular that post-work city slickers flock to the bars to destress and enjoy a drink or two. Both bars are distinctively different though – Moon Bar provides a glamorous alfresco lounge with soft blue lighting, panoramic views, live jazz and fresh cocktails while Vertigo offers a romantic “wine and dine” experience for those who love their Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Sauvignon.
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Vertigo’s surf ‘n’ turf comes highly recommended to do chow down on some seafood or steak while you’re there.
Indonesia: Rock Bar Bali Perched atop rock formations along Jimbaran’s sunset coast, Rock Bar Bali at Ayana is breathtaking – and perhaps not for the weak-hearted. The bar is located on the edge of a cliff along Jimbaran Bay in Bali, offering a gravity-defying experience. Much more so if you’ve had a couple of drinks. To get to the bar, travelers will need to make their way over by cable car, with dramatic cliffs on either side. Once you’re there, enjoy the sound of the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean and soak in what’s remaining of the day as the sun sets, before fist-pumping to international DJs who perform from a booth that’s been carved directly into the cliff face.
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They don’t call it the premier sunset venue for nothing.
South Korea: Bar 81 The new 555-meter-tall Lotte World Tower opened in Seoul in April 2017 to much fanfare. Current the fifth tallest building in the world, the tower comprises of offices, galleries, residences, more offices, a skywalk, an observation tower, and the super luxurious Signiel Seoul hotel. On the 81st floor of Signiel Seoul is Bar 81, a bar so high up that it probably needs a postal code in the clouds. Guests can enjoy the contemporary Parisian menus of chef Yannick Alléno and even have a glass of champagne to go with it. The bar has the largest menu of champagne labels in South Korea, but also a wide range of other liquors.
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Don’t forget to look up and admire the glitzy glass art installation overhead.
China: Cloud 9 Shanghai is China’s bustling central business district (CBD) and thus, it should come as no surprise that the city is dotted with sophisticated drinking spots. One that’s definitely worth more than just one mention is Grand Hyatt Shanghai’s posh Cloud 9. Taking over the Jin Mao tower on the 87th floor of the hotel, the dark mahogany and chrome bar features a maze of terraced levels and diving columns, and a hide-away mezzanine bar. Cloud 9 overlooks the iconic Bund and also offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Shanghai, allowing you to admire neon-lit skyline while you sip on one of the bar’s classic cocktails.
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Best to get a table facing west for views of the Bund, Pearl Tower, and the lights of Puxi, and southeast for views of the Shanghai World Financial Center.
The post Drinks with a view: 5 best rooftop bars in Asia appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Foodies rejoice: Ubud Food Festival line up revealed

Posted by - February 16, 2018

INDONESIA’S most anticipated food festival has just released its full line-up and it’s a real tantalizing treat for foodies everywhere.
Ubud Food Festival is spectacularly cooking its way into a fourth year and the festival is set to be more delicious, inspiring and flavorful than ever before.
Ubud is known as the cultural and culinary capital of Indonesia, so where better to showcase dishes from one of Southeast Asia’s most gastronomically revered nations?
Ready to chow down at Singapore’s Michelin Guide Street Food Festival? This year’s festival theme is Generasi Inovasi, which focuses on young Indonesians who are tech-savvy and driving not only the nation’s booming innovation economy but also transforming the entire spectrum of the nation’s food industry.
Ubud Food Festival will showcase nearly 100 chefs, restauranteurs, farmers, social entrepreneurs and foodie innovators who are shaping and developing Indonesia’s makan scene and also introducing exciting ways of eating and exploring food across the globe.
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Across the three-day event in April, foodies will be able to delve into Indonesia’s diverse cuisines and learn about the vibrant home-grown produce found across the paradise archipelago.
So, who’s coming to town? This year, the festival will be welcoming a variety of Asia’s best-loved, inspirational chefs who will be showcasing their culinary magic, running workshops and engaging an intrigued audience with Q&A sessions.
While all the professionals showcasing at the event have something special to get you excited, there are a few highly distinguished chefs that will be sure to get your mouth watering and your tummy rumbling.
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Among the esteemed culinary experts popping in to inspire your palate is Rydo Anton, Head Chef at Bangkok’s double-Michelin starred restaurant, Gaggan. Holding the top spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for three years running and coming in at an impressive seventh in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
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Anton will be teaming up with local heroes Locavore to create a serious foodie event. It’s not to be missed.
Guests can also catch Singapore’s Meta restaurant chef Sun Kim cooking up a storm alongside other chefs such as Australia’s Sam Aisbett, Sri Lanka’s Rishi Naleendra, and South Korea’s Jun Lee, all of whom received Michelin stars for their pioneering cooking style and fantastic flavors.
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Indonesia’s resident chefs will also be serving up devilishly good dishes to showcase Indonesia’s cultural heritage.
Pastry queen Chef Kim Pangestu of Kimmy Patisserie and Nomz Kitchen & Pastry will be creating the perfect bites to satisfy your sweet tooth.
MasterChef Indonesia judge Rinrin Marinka and Chef Andrian Ishak, whose Namaaz Dining has been described as Indonesia’s first molecular gastronomy restaurant, will be joined by culinary storyteller Ade Putri Paramadita and respected food writer Jed Doble.
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“We’re so excited to bring together almost 100 speakers to dish up our fourth Ubud Food Festival,” commented festival founder and director Janet DeNeefe.
“From the Balinese farmers to the app designers, the social entrepreneurs to the world-class chefs, they all show the reason why the world should be paying attention to Indonesia’s incredible creativity and ingenuity, and of course its fantastic food. We look forward to learning from these rising stars and culinary heroes with you in April, and feasting together too!”
Game of cones: Kuala Lumpur’s best ice cream and desserts However, this is only a small selection of the talented culinary geniuses that you can see, meet and learn from at the festival. Check out the website for full details, tickets and a spectacular programme, sure to get you wishing every day was the Ubud Food Festival.
The post Foodies rejoice: Ubud Food Festival line up revealed appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.