The happiest place on Earth about to get happier – with booze

Posted by - September 3, 2018

The new Star Wars land is about to break a major Walt Disney rule that will transform Disneyland as we know it. Source: Disney/Lucasfilm.
COME 2019, both aspiring Jedi and their parents will thoroughly enjoy two Disney parks’ latest addition, a Star Wars-themed land called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Disney Parks promises it will “transport guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before Wild Space, where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.”
It is also expected to transform Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth, as we know it because for the first time in its 63-year history, adults visiting Disneyland in California will be able to enjoy an alcoholic drink.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will feature Oga’s Cantina, a watering hole which will be “serving pilots, bounty hunters, smugglers, locals and galactic travelers alike”, according to Disney Parks.
On Disney Parks’ official blog, Walt Disney Imagineering Portfolio Creative Executive Scott Trowbridge wrote, “Visitors come to this notorious local watering hole to unwind, conduct shady business, and maybe even encounter a friend…or a foe.”
“Oga’s Cantina is the kind of establishment that attracts some of the most interesting and disreputable characters in the galaxy. And you never know when a stormtrooper or a familiar face will show up.”
“Patrons of the cantina come from across the galaxy to sample the famous concoctions created with exotic ingredients using “otherworldly” methods, served in unique vessels. With choices for kids and libations for adults, the cantina will make for a great stop!”
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Since the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort in 1971, Disney conglomerate founder Walt Disney had always opposed the sale of alcohol in his parks as he wanted it to be a wholesome, family-friendly experience.
It was a rule that remained in place at the original Disneyland in California except for Disneyland’s VIP Club 33, a set of private clubs located in several Disney Parks including Tokyo Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland.
In 2012, Be Our Guest, the restaurant themed around the French castle in Beauty and the Beast started offering beer and wine for dinner, the first to break Walt Disney’s mandate.
Then, in May 2018, it was announced that every sit-down restaurant in the Magic Kingdom will also start serving alcohol.
While adults will be able to enjoy a refreshing mug of beer or a glass of full-bodied wine right down to the very last drop, the alcohol drinks can only be consumed inside the cantina.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will also include two signature attractions: one that lets guests take the controls of Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.
The parks will open at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida in 2019, to coincide with the release of Star Wars: Episode IX.

Can you handle Asia’s spiciest dishes?

Posted by - August 30, 2018

Asia has some of the hottest dishes in the world. Source: James Sutton/Unsplash
EVERYONE has a different tolerance to spicy food. Some people can only take a sprinkling of white pepper while others smear heaps of wasabi onto their sushi.
But for those who live in Asia, spicy food is part of their everyday life as most of the world’s hottest dishes come from this continent.
It almost seems paradoxical that those who live in some of the warmest countries on Earth enjoy food that makes them sweat even more.
There’s even an academic paper on why people living in hot countries enjoy hot food.
In a study called Temperature, the researchers aimed to answer “Why do people living in hot climates like their food spicy?”
They conclude that originally, spices were used for their antibacterial properties that rid foods of pathogens and make people healthier.
But in the age of refrigeration and health standards, is this still necessary?
The paper concluded that even though we live in a globalized world, people are still hesitant to try new foods and tend to stick to the dishes their respective countries have been serving for centuries.
And in the case of many Asian nations, this means dishes are heaped with chilies.
Beyond spicy foods being ingrained in cultural roots, hot dishes have a plethora of health benefits.
For example, scientists discovered capsaicin, the spicy chemical in peppers, helped reduce the size of tumors by activating cell receptors.
Spice can also increase libido and enhance weight loss. A magic food some might say.
But spice doesn’t have to mean enduring an unbearable meal, as Asia wonderfully illustrates.
These are some of the hottest dishes to grace Asia’s tables but can also still be enjoyed without causing third-degree burns to your mouth.
Lo Bok with Sichuan Peppercorns, China Lo Bok is a large radish which on its own provides a mild and sweet flavor. However, when it’s combined with notoriously firey Sichuan peppercorns, the dish presents a mouth-numbing flavor.
Sichuan peppercorns mixed with anything will numb your tongue but chefs believe this gives the diner the advantage of eating more.
Spice level: Eat with caution.
Laal Maas, India Laal Maas translates to “red mutton.” This dish originated in royal households in Rajasthan where it was served with game meat.
The dousing of Mathania chilies was used to cover the gamey smell. But years later and a change of meat, the same amount of chilies and garlic are still used in the dish.
Spice level: Bring a carton of milk.
Vindaloo, India Vindaloo curry has a fierce reputation around the world but many Indians claim it’s more of a Portuguese dish.
While it may be known as a spicy dish, commonly found in Goa, the meal gets its name from the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos, meaning “meat in garlic wine marinade.”
Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Spice level: It will make you sweat.
Ambul Thiyal, Sri Lanka This clay pot sour fish curry has become a staple Sri Lankan dish and remained popular through the centuries because it stays fresh for up to a week after cooking.
There are a whole lot of spices that go into this fishy feast, but the ones that give it a kick are cumin, chili powder, chili flakes, ginger, and pepper.
Spice level: You might notice a slight tongue tingle.
Hell’s Ramen, Japan Japanese food isn’t usually associated with fiery flavors, but Hiyashi miso ramen from Mouko Tanmen Nakatomo ramen shop in Tokyo changes that.
The chili-filled cold soup is served with soba noodles that the diner dips in. While you can choose how much sauce to soak up, each mouthful will be hotter than the last.
Spice level: Eat with caution.
Onnuriye Donkatsu, South Korea Korea has its share of spicy food, from kimchi to buldak. But none of them live up to the “Donkatsu of Death” found at Onnuriye Donkatsu restaurant in Seoul.
This usually mildly deep-fried pork cutlet is lathered with a red chili sauce and then sprinkled with green chilis for the hell of it.
Spice level: Cry for your mummy.
Otak-otak Otak-otak is a mixture of ground fish meat and tapioca, typically found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
While many Asian would argue it’s not spicy, the combination of chili, turmeric and curry powder give it an eye-watering kick.
Spice level: A passing moment of spiciness.
So there you have it, a selection of Asia’s spiciest food, all of which you can still enjoy if you don’t mind swigging milk in between bites.

Holly Patrick | @HollyMaeVogel
As a recent graduate of Journalism from Westminster University, Holly is keen on exploring the stories that hide in the most curious of places. She enjoys discovering new cultures, and has strong opinions about women's rights and how modern technology is influencing the globalized world. She also has a healthy inquisitiveness to find stimulating content… and the best pad thai in town.

What’s driving tourists in Japan?

Posted by - August 3, 2018

It’s true: We (travelers) are very visual people and this theory proves it. Source: Shutterstock.
JAPAN is one of Asia’s top 10 countries in terms of international tourist arrivals in 2017 and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
At least not for the next five years or so, with Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics. Japan will continue enjoying a surge in inbound travelers for sure.
In 2016, there were about 40 million departures from Japan, including 17 million by Japanese nationals.
In 2017, the country attracted a record 28.68 million tourists, reflecting the sixth consecutive yearly increase. As for departures, Japan saw around 45.2 million leaving its shores in the same year.
On top of strong promotional pushes by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the East Asian country already welcomes a steady stream of travelers ready to check out its dark tourism, sakura season, food tourism, heritage tourism, night tourism, fall foliage, and a whole lot more.
But what’s really driving the tourists in Japan these days? It’s not just tourism campaigns and guidebooks for sure.
Source: Shutterstock.
Destinations that are more off the beaten track like Nagano, the capital city of Nagano Prefecture in the Chūbu region of Japan for example, saw more than one million visitors last year.
Which is every bit impressive for the landlocked area as it marks a 36-fold increase in just three years.
How did this happen? First, CNN described Nagano as one of Japan’s most beautiful places, which spurred an influx of postings featuring Nagano’s sights flooding Instagram.
Since then, Instagram’s numbers have seen a steep increase, with Nagano becoming one of the most active markets on the platform.
Zenkoji Temple, one of the most important and popular temples in Nagano, stores the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan. Source: Shutterstock.
As of June 20, 2018, Instagram has reached one billion monthly active users.
And a majority of these users turn to the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app to match #ootd coordinations, decide where to eat, get suggestions on things to do, and add things to their travel bucket list.
“Instagram is different from other social media because users are the ones taking the initiative to post and spread pictures, not the local municipalities,” Travel And Tour World quoted marketing firm Full Speed Inc.’s Kazukiyo Yonemura of Full Speed Inc. as saying.
Source: Shutterstock.
For Nagano alone, there are more than a handful of Instagram hashtags chalking up thousands of posts such as:
City officials expressed their sheer surprise to see people of all ages visiting the mountains to get a shot of its shrine, with the mass crowds leading to four-hour-long traffic jams.
“We widened roads, built toilets and increased parking from 24 to more than 100 spaces this April,” Nagano city tourism division’s Erika Watanabe said.
The multiple foreign currencies, 27 to be exact, found in the shrine’s offertory box proved that many of the visitors were from overseas.
Last year, Instagram joined hands with the JNTO to introduce a new hashtag, #UnknownJapan, which led to more than five million foreign visitors sharing posts.

What’s the fate of Khao San Road’s food stalls?

Posted by - August 1, 2018

BANGKOK’S Khao San Road has been a marvel among backpackers for decades, but the area is changing drastically and locals aren’t happy about it.
The area is known throughout the world for its cheap booze, even cheaper clothes to stave off a visit to the laundrette, colorful tuk-tuks, and an array of Thailand’s most tempting culinary offerings.
A post shared by タツヤ ナカムラ (@selecta_cv) on Jul 30, 2018 at 7:26pm PDT
Over time, the street has also welcomed a McDonald’s and a Starbucks. But these chains, combined with hordes of travelers, aren’t what locals and angry about.
Recently, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) banned food vendors along Khao San Road from operating outside the hours of 6pm and 12am.
The ban was slapped on the stall owners for BMA to regulate hygiene, monitor traffic, create parking space for ambulances and return the sidewalks, which the stalls currently occupy, to pedestrians.
#WELLBEING
Why Thailand might make travel insurance compulsory The new regulation is set to affect around 300 workers and slash their income in half as their current business hours run from 10am to 1am.
But the vendors are refusing to accept the decision and have handed a petition to Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha asking him to suspend the district’s ban.
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Khao San Road Street Vendor Association President Yada Pornpetrumpa told The Nation that all of the street’s vendors would set up their stalls after a big clean up today (Aug 1, 2018) in an act of defiance.
Pornpetrumpa added that the task might be “impossible” as local police are being sent to control the situation.
However, Chanasongkram (the local area) Police Station Superintendent Pol Colonel Chakkit Chosoongnoen told The Nation traffic would remain the same as any other day.
#THINGS TO DO
The world’s best beach party destinations revealed A member of the Street Vendors Association spoke to The Nation on the basis of anonymity and explained she didn’t think that people would want to shop in the evening, expressing they were “hours for relaxing.”
The BMA plans to relocate the stalls to designated areas on roads, but the vendors claimed this to be a health hazard if the roads were to flood.
A post shared by タツヤ ナカムラ (@selecta_cv) on Jul 30, 2018 at 7:26pm PDT
There is also a real risk that travelers will disassociate Khao San Road as being a center for partying and meeting fellow wanderers, and choose to spend their money elsewhere entirely.
Afterall, Bangkok isn’t short of nightlife.
The post What’s the fate of Khao San Road’s food stalls? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

The world’s best Chinatowns that aren’t in China

Posted by - August 1, 2018

MOST METROPOLITAN destinations in the world host little cultural enclaves such as Little India, Koreatown, Vietnamese suburb, Japantown, and perhaps the most popular town of the kind, Chinatown.
Whether you’re in Cuba or San Francisco, the concept of a Chinatown is the same across the board: an ethnic enclave of Chinese people located outside of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan.
It’s often a unifying factor for the Chinese in the area, offering Chinese-themed shopping centers and markets, Cantonese restaurants and cafes, decorated in giddying lanterns and flashing lights, and is often the place to be to celebrate festivities such as Chinese New Year.
#THINGS TO DO
The heart of heritage: A glimpse of Bangkok’s Chinatown If you’re Chinese, no matter where you are, a Chinatown will make you feel right at home. And for travelers, a Chinatown is simply a taste of China.
Chinatowns are usually found in an urban setting, so don’t expect peace and quiet if you plan to take a stroll down the cramped streets. Do, however, enjoy being in between all the action in the old and the new, as tradition and modernity blend together to become one.
Here are some of the world’s best Chinatowns that aren’t in China:
Manila, The Philippines Located in the Binondo district of Manila, the Philippines’ Chinatown has influence that extends beyond Quiapo, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas.
Considered the world’s oldest Chinatown, it was established in 1594 by Spaniards as a settlement near Intramuros for the Catholic Chinese.
Source: Shutterstock.
Aside from its Filipino-Chinese businesses, Binondo is also famous for The Umbrella Alley where street food is aplenty and historical sites such as the Seng Guan Temple and the Kuang Kong Temple.
Niu Che Shui, Singapore Niu Che Shui, which means “ox”, “cart”, and “water”, Singapore’s Chinatown was once an enclave for the island city-state’s immigrant population.
Today, Niu Che Shui is a sharp but pleasing contrast to the high-rise buildings that surround the area and is heavily visited by both locals and tourists.
Source: Shutterstock.
From its historic ornate Chinese and Buddhist temples to the traditional medicinal halls to the bustling street market and food streets, as well as the hip new watering holes and lifestyle shops, there’s never a dull moment here.
Bangkok, Thailand The sights, sounds, and smells of Yaowarat area will be an assault on any visitor’s senses but in all the best ways.
Get ready for an adventure when you stroll down many of Thailand’s Chinatown in Bangkok and sample the treats from its street food vendors, while occasionally whipping out your camera to take shots for the ‘gram.
Source: Shutterstock.
Yaowarat’s fascinating mix of Chinese and Thai cultures sets it apart from other Chinatowns in the world and it’s not an experience that you should miss.
Kolkata, India Located in the eastern part of Kolkata, Tiretta Bazaar was established in the early 19th century and was once home to 20,000 ethnic Chinese Indian nationals.
Today, the area is still very much loved, dotted with Chinese restaurants that offer traditional Chinese cuisine and Indian-influenced Chinese food.
Source: Shutterstock.
During Chinese New Year, throngs of Chinese Indians flock to Tiretta Bazaar to celebrate and also to witness the lion dance performances that continue to be held every year.
Yokohama, Japan Located in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, the Yokohama Chinatown has a history that spans about 150 years long and a population of about 3,000 to 4,000 Chinese people.
Established not long after Tokyo opened its port to foreign trade in 1859, it’s the largest Chinatown in Japan and also in Asia, and one of the largest in the world.
Source: Shutterstock.
Yokohama Chinatown is home to over 200 restaurants serving Japan-influence Chinese cuisine, an eight-story entertainment mall and theme park, Chinese grocery and medicine stores, and two elaborate Chinese temples.
Melbourne, Australia In Australia, the Chinese community is well-represented, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, Melbourne’s Chinatown is popularly known as the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world and the oldest Chinatown in the southern hemisphere.
It was established upon the arrival of Chinese immigrants during the Victorian gold rush of the early 1850s, a period of extreme prosperity for the Australian colony.
Source: Shutterstock.
Home to many Chinese restaurants, cultural venues, businesses, places of worship, architectural heritage and annual festivals, Melbourne’s Chinatown is a major tourist attraction.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia At the heart of Malaysia where the city never sleeps is a lively and colorful destination with sprawling flea markets, beautiful temples, and quirky art galleries. It has to be Chinatown.
The large covered market is known for its fashion shops selling both must-have items as well as designer rip-offs, handicraft and souvenir stalls, as well as stalls dishing up delectable Chinese food and refreshing beverages.
Source: Shutterstock.
Shopaholics will love haggling for and scoring dirt-cheap steals and deals whilst other travelers shouldn’t miss this mindboggling sightseeing activity.
The post The world’s best Chinatowns that aren’t in China appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

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.
#ISLANDS
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.

5 new restaurants in Singapore get Michelin-starred

Posted by - July 26, 2018

TRAVELERS who are led by their stomachs would be pleased to know that the Michelin Guide Singapore 2018 has put more Michelin-starred restaurants on the table.
This adds to the existing list of eateries that was announced last year.
#SINGAPORE
Ready to chow down at Singapore’s Michelin Guide Street Food Festival? “Five restaurants received their very first Michelin star in the third edition of Michelin Guide Singapore, bringing the number of one-starred-restaurants in Singapore to 34,” the Michelin Guide wrote on its website.
“There are no restaurants celebrated with three stars this year, the restaurants with two stars last year kept their accolades.”
For the uninitiated, the prestigious annual guidebook sets a standard of excellence with its star rankings and Bib Gourmand selections.
It takes into consideration elements such as product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef’s personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time across the entire menu.
Source: Shutterstock.
The criteria for the star rankings, which was established in 1936, are as follows:
*: “Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie” (A very good restaurant in its category)
**: “Table excellente, mérite un détour” (Excellent cooking, worth a detour)
***: “Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage” (Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey)
This year, the Michelin Guide Singapore 2018 awarded a total of 39 restaurants on the island with Michelin stars.
Get to know the five which have been newly-minted with one star:
Burnt Ends “Modern Australian barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends, which opened in May 2013 in the Chinatown neighborhood, is famous for its open-concept kitchen with custom-made grills.”
“The four tonne, dual cavity ovens and the three elevation grills heat up to over 1,700 degrees and are fired by coal, apple or almond wood.”
“Grilled beef accompanied by marmalade and pickles, and the buns with beef marrow particularly appealed to the Michelin inspectors.”
A post shared by Burntends_SG (@burntends_sg) on Jul 19, 2017 at 8:21pm PDT
Address: 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore 088391.
Nouri “At Nouri’s open kitchen, chef owner Ivan Brehm creates seasonal and internationally inspired cuisine. Brehm has worked in the finest kitchens in the world, including Per Se in New York, Hibiscus in London and Mugaritz in the Basque Country.”
“Brehm had also joined Heston Blumenthal to serve as the Development Chef at the Experimental Kitchen at The Fat Duck for 4 years.”
“He is best known for leading The Kitchen at Bacchanalia in Singapore to its first Michelin Star in 2016 when he was the restaurant’s executive chef.
“Inspectors noted the “Bread and Bouillon” dish, which combines a leavened rye bread, a silky cheese, and a vegetable broth, as an unforgettable specialty.”
A post shared by Restaurant Nouri (@restaurantnouri) on Jan 23, 2018 at 2:43am PST
Address: 72 Amoy Street, Singapore 069891.
Sushi Kimura “One star has also been awarded to Sushi Kimura at Orchard Road in Palais Renaissance.”
“Sushi Kimura is a 22-seater fine-dining sushi-ya, helmed by Tomoo Kimura, who has spent two decades crafting his fine art while serving an apprenticeship under his sushi master in Tokyo.”
“He rose to become the executive chef at several fine-dining and Michelin-starred sushi-yas before deciding to make his maiden foray as a Master Chef with the opening of Sushi Kimura.”
“Inspectors took note of an abalone dish, cooked for eight hours in sake, as one of the most remarkable creations of this establishment.”
A post shared by Sushi Kimura Singapore (@sushikimurasg) on May 23, 2018 at 3:51am PDT
Address: 390 Orchard Road, #01-07 Palais Renaissance Singapore 238871.
Ma Cuisine “Ma Cuisine, located in a spacious double shophouse along Craig Road was also awarded one Michelin star.”
“The young French owners have curated a collection of over 600 labels from diverse terroirs from wine-producing regions in France to more uncommon regions like Hungary and even Lebanon.”
“Chef Mathieu Escoffier who takes charge of the kitchen sends out rustic French fare that will transport you to the vineyards and rolling hills of Beaune in Burgundy.”
A post shared by Ma Cuisine (@macuisine1996) on Apr 20, 2018 at 12:51am PDT
Address: 38 Craig Rd, Singapore 089676.
Jiang-Nan Chun “Jiang-Nan Chun, led by chef Tim Lam, has been noted for ‘traditional Cantonese cuisine of great finesse’.”
“Inspectors highlighted fried chicken with lime sauce as one of the most emblematic dishes in the restaurant.”
“Chef Tim Lam used to work in Macau and led Ying, a Cantonese restaurant in Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s Altira Macau complex, to their one star in 2017. He joined Jiang-Nan Chun late last year.”
A post shared by Johnathan Giang (@free.the.umami) on Dec 2, 2017 at 6:34pm PST
Address: 190 Orchard Blvd, Singapore 248646.
The post 5 new restaurants in Singapore get Michelin-starred appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

In pictures: Sri Lanka’s captivating Colombo

Posted by - July 25, 2018

SRI LANKA’S tourism board is ramping up efforts to ensure that tourists visit the island even during offseason.
In order to do so, its Tourism Promotion Bureau is casting its net far and wide to capture the attention of potential tourists in China, India, and the Middle East.
#INDUSTRY NEWS
Sri Lanka plans to clear illegal structures to build tourism hub The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau will be rolling out its first campaign from September to November before the winter starts, according to Tourism Minister John Amaratunga.
The mega campaign will promote special tour packages on offer during Sept 1, 2018, to Nov 30, 2018, to attract Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern tourists.
September to November is ordinarily a slow period for Sri Lanka, as the monsoon more or less affects the whole country. However, it’s not always predictable and sometimes it never comes at all.
#TRAVEL HACKS
What you should know about traveling during the monsoon season Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was once heavily scarred by a 30-year civil conflict known as the Sri Lankan Civil War, which caused significant hardships for the population, environment, and the economy of the country.
Since signing a permanent cease-fire agreement in 2002, the country worked its way to becoming one of the leading industries.
However, in December 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami struck Sri Lanka killing more than 35,000 people and left the country’s southern coastline looking like a wasteland.
It presented the Sri Lankan tourism industry with a substantial loss, estimated at US$250 million. This only meant that the nation had to be more resilient than ever in the recovery process.
Today, the country is dubbed as one of the world’s greatest tourist hot spots by several international publications.
Source: Shutterstock.
Thinking of planning a trip to Sri Lanka? Start with visiting its must-see historical capital and ocean city, Colombo.
Having been ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British in the past, Colombo is blessed with architecture that represents the heritage of its previous rulers.
From mixed colonial buildings with high-rises to glossy new hotel complexes, to stylish galleries and shops and shopping malls, Colombo’s cosmopolitan side has a character like no other.
Food is in abundance as well, with restaurants serving up delicious local eats, carts selling a mouthwatering rainbow of street chow, and tiny convivial cafes offering great spaces to chat over coffee.
Source: Shutterstock.
Be sure to set out to explore on foot as well, as the island has been a center of Buddhist scholarship and learning, with around 6,000 Buddhist monasteries and approximately 15,000 monks.
One of the must-visit locations on Sri Lankan soil is the Gangaramaya Vihara, one of the most venerable temples in the country. Its beautiful facade has been decorated with wonderful brass work, stone carvings, and other Buddhist art.
The other is the sprawling Viharamahadevi Park, the oldest and largest park in Colombo. Named after named after Queen Viharamahadevi, the mother of King Dutugamunu who reigned from 161 BC to 137 BC, the park features a series of water fountains, a mini zoo, a children’s play area, and a giant Buddha statue.
But don’t just let us talk you through it. Take a look at what Sri Lanka’s captivating Colombo has to offer:
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Meanwhile, according to recent statistics from Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry, tourist arrivals recorded a growth of 15.3 percent during the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year.
If the mega campaign is successful, it will be repeated annually, and a similar campaign will be also launched from March to July.
The post In pictures: Sri Lanka’s captivating Colombo appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

How this LGBTQ+ nightclub in India became a movement

Posted by - June 26, 2018

WHAT WOULD YOU GET if you threw class, fashion, music, champagne, and a rainbow in a large room and mixed it all up?
Kitty Su.
#TRAVEL HACKS
Here’s what you should know if you’re LGBTQ+ and traveling to Asia Founded by Indian hotelier and avid traveler Keshav Suri and his partner Cyril, a Frenchman who “loved to explore new worlds,” Kitty Su at The Lalit New Delhi was influenced by the LGBTQ+ scenes that they had seen everywhere from Argentina to New York to Shanghai.
Rooted in happy pride, Kitty Su is India’s most inclusive nightclub, often packed to the brim with likeminded LGBTQ+ revelers with not a moment of no love-for-all vibe in the air.
“The sophisticated elegance of Kitty Su became a beacon to which all kinds of people – drag queens hailing from Ambala or Chandigarh, transgender personalities and differently abled musicians and artists – could flock, secure in the knowledge that they were in a safe space, at last,” Suri shared with Conde Nast Traveller.
In India, where homosexuality is seen as “shameful,” one man is changing things up with a nightclub. Source: Kitty Su.
“In the last three years, Kitty Su has grown beyond being just a haven for the LGBTQ community.”
But it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies for Suri.
Post-traversing through Milan, Rome, Florence, Venice, New York, and China and soaking up the sensation of pure love and acceptance, then going home to India was “sometimes frustrating.”
All that euphoria and empowerment dissipates in a blink of an eye as the reality hits them.
The LGBTQ community dance and celebrate at a pride march. Source: Shutterstock.
Same-sex relationships, marriages, and sexual activities are illegal in India, and its people aren’t tolerant of LGBTQ people.
Homosexuality is seen as “shameful,” and those who are would usually face discrimination from families and friends.
India criminalized homosexuality until 2009 when the High Court of Delhi declared section 377 of the Indian Penal Code invalid. In 2013, India reinstated its ban on homosexuality, making it a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment up to life.
Due to the lack of understanding and prejudice against LGBTQ+ people, coupled with the spreading of misinformation, the community often falls victim to violence.
Reports of violence against LGBTQ people, including honor killings, attacks, torture, and beatings of the LGBTQ community is common in India. Source: Shutterstock.
In May, a transgender woman was killed and three others seriously injured when they were attacked by a mob of angry locals acting on rumors that the women were child traffickers in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
The women were begging in the southern suburb of Chandrayanagutta when they were set upon.
“They were begging for money from some shopkeepers in Chandrayanagutta at 11pm when some unruly youths started saying they had come to kidnap children,” Hyderabad (South Zone) deputy commissioner of police V.Satyanarayana told CNN.
Up to 20 people took part in the attack, while a crowd of up to 200 people stood by egging them on.
LGBT activists hold a long rainbow-colored flag demanding equality during Queer Swabhimana Yatra 2017 in Hyderabad, India. Source: Shutterstock.
“Homophobia is a global phenomenon, but in India, the fear of arrest for a same-sex inter-racial couple like us is very real. Wherever we go, this fear accompanies us, a paranoia that can feel like a noose is always hovering,” Suri wrote.
One fateful night, however, mid-conversation with Cyril, Suri was empowered to break free from the noose and change things up.
“Over the years, all our travels had demonstrated to us that members of the LGBTQ community had to come out and show their strength and demands to pave the way for mainstream acceptance. Despite the pervasive homophobia in China, for instance, there was a vibrant, high-end LGBTQ nightlife scene in Shanghai, where people could act freely and enjoy themselves with like-minded and open people,” Suri explained.
“It irked me, and I immediately thought, “If China can, why can’t we?”
A post shared by Prateek Sachdeva (@bettanaanstop) on Jun 10, 2018 at 4:22am PDT
And that was how Kitty Su, a product of love, labor, a pinch of paranoia, and more importantly, a whole lot of pride came to be.
Here are seven things you need to know about the nightclub-turned-movement:
It offers the finest high-octane beats ranging from techno to commercial, and house to dubstep. It’s the only nightclub from India to feature in DJ Mag’s Top 100 Clubs poll for three consecutive years. For two years in a row, Kitty Su was awarded the Best Night Club in the Capital. World’s Best Bars called Kitty Su “an absolute ground-breaker on the New Delhi nightlife scene,” being the first to introduce a VIP area. The club is also home to a trendy tattoo parlor and boutique. Kitty Su often promotes and champions its motto, #PureLove, across its social media platforms. It’s open three days a week including Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Kitty Su is located at Basement, The Lalit New Delhi, Barakhamba Avenue, New Delhi, India.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
LGBT escape: Asia pushes pink tourism Aside from Kitty Su, Suri also manages Lalit Group of Hotels’ properties as the company’s executive director. He has since made the properties more inclusive and hopes that in time he will be able to help the community that he’s a part of, the much needed basic human rights that they deserve.
In April, Suri led a petition with the Supreme Court, challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes a consensual relationship between adults of the same sex.
The post How this LGBTQ+ nightclub in India became a movement appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

This Thailand-based platform will match travelers with locals

Posted by - June 26, 2018

MODERN DAY TRAVELERS seeking off the beaten path attractions and experiences at their destinations like a true local will appreciate TakeMeTour.
Created by robotics engineering graduate Taro Amornched, the online platform aims to match travelers with locals – but not in the sleazy Tinder kind of way.
#AIRBNB
Bali’s ‘Airbnb Experiences’ second most popular in Asia Specifically, it matches travelers with locals who can show them around.
So whether it’s a gastronomical tour of Bangkok’s Chinatown, a hiking trip along Japan’s nature trails, or a dance in a sunflower field your heart desires, TakeMeTour will connect you with the experts with all the know-how.
“On our website, a traveler can browse tours, itineraries, and experiences that are offered by locals. Currently, we have more than 20,000 local experts from 55 different cities. It’s like having a friend, some people you can trust, to show you around,” Amornched said in an interview with The Jay Kim Show.
Let’s get started Log in to the website and select a city you’d like to visit.
Source: TakeMeTour.
Then, choose from the list of one-day tours and experiences available. Once you find what you like, pick a date on the calendar or chat with said local for availability.
When all details are confirmed, book with them directly. Bookings will only be valid once the payments are made through Take Me Tour with a valid credit card.
It’s like making one new local friend with every booking.
“All the local experts speak Thai and English. We have been focusing on English-speaking travelers in the past two years, but starting this year, we will start focusing on a third language. That means you would see local experts who can speak Japanese, Chinese, and French as a starting point,” Amornched added.
About safety and security Is it okay to throw caution to the wind and simply follow a local around in a foreign country?
How safe is it, really?
A post shared by TakeMeTour (@takemetour_thailand) on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:30pm PDT
“We have very strict security measures. We check the ID, bank account, criminal record, and the like to make sure these local experts are actually legitimate. We also make sure we know how to find them,” Amornched explained.
Newly-listed tours will go through stages of approvals by both TakeMeTour as well as its network of bloggers to assure they’re meeting quality standards.
What if things go bad?
“If something bad happens, we can still make refunds. We also provide accident insurance for both travelers and local experts,” Amornched said.
Every listing also includes reviews from previous guests so travelers can gauge if the experience is something that they’d like.
#MEDICAL TOURISM
Healing on a holiday: Cheap rehabs boost Thailand’s medical tourism Currently, the Asian countries that TakeMeTour covers are Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan. The platform is looking to expand to Myanmar next month.
Check it out here.
The post This Thailand-based platform will match travelers with locals appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.