Escape to the Asian Sun
This Special Section, Escape to the Asian Sun, was produced under the direction of Passport Managing Editor and Head of Special Projects, John Bonar with the co-operation of the Embassies of Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in Moscow
Winter is knocking on the gates of Moscow and we are remembering the icy blasts of last year with temperatures plummeting below minus 35 Celcius. Where better to plan an escape to than the tropical lands of South East Asia, where you can look forward to spending time on a pristine white beach, sipping exotic cocktails mixed with fresh local fruit juices and enjoying some of the tastiest cuisine in the world. Not to mention shopping ‘til you drop! Ah, paradise!
Whether it is for a New Year getaway or a farewell to winter break over the May holidays, start planning now.
Welcome to Singapore
Since a 14th Century Sumatran prince mistook a tiger for a lion, the island at the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula has been known by the Sanskrit term Singapura, or Lion City. However present day Singapore was founded in 1819 by a British civil servant, Sir Stamford Raffles who was looking to establish a trading station to counter Dutch influence in the region.
From its early days Arabs, Chinese and Indians traded with and settled in Singapore, living alongside the indigenous Malays. Towards the end of the 19th Century and into the 20th Century Chinese traders settling in Malac ca, Penang and Singapore married Malay women, and their community came to be known as Peranakans or Straits Chinese, after the Malacca Straits. Today the island’s four main races are Chinese 77%, Malays 14% and Indians 8%.
These different races, living together in harmony and with inter-racial marriage a common occurrence for more than 100 years, have also melded and blended their cuisines and created a diversity within a harmonious whole which creates some of the most attractive features of the Singapore Tourist landscape.
Whether shopping, or just looking, no visit to Singapore is complete without visiting Arab Street off the North Bridge Road, nearby China Town, where the original Chinese immigrants lived, worked and played and Little India which used to be marshland and grazing fields for cattle.
The multi-racial quality of Singapore generates a mood that is warm, friendly and overwhelmingly welcoming.
Sitting at the heart of South East Asia, Singapore is an ideal base for trips to neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei and Thailand by air, road, rail or sea.
Singapore is compact, and has a great public transport system, which makes it easy to get around by Mass Rapid Transit (MRT ), Light Rail Transport (LRT ), bus and trolley. Singapore is the southernmost stop on the rail network traversing Peninsular Malaysia. Regular train services ply between Singapore and key cities and towns on the western seaboard. They include Johor Bahru, Kuala Lampur, Ipoh and Butterworth to the north. All trains depart from Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.
Eating and Shopping – the Two Passions of Singapore
By Julian Shuster
What to Eat?
If you are an island lying at the cross-roads of the great East-West trade routes, along which once flowed streams of tantalizing valuable products such as ivory, gold, batik, silver thread, ebony, sandalwood, tea, sago, sugar, pepper, nutmeg, cloves and coriander and the inhabitants from the earliest days are a colorful and diverse melting pot of races and cultures then it is small wonder Singapore boasts a fascinating and exciting cuisine. Built up from recipes handed down through generations of immigrants from China and India, Indonesia and Europe, and many other places, Singaporean food is a tasty tale reflecting the country’s unique cultural tapestry.
Chili crab is Singapore’s unofficial ‘national dish’ and started at a Chinese stall on the seashore. The stall is gone but in its place the East Coast Seafood Centre is home to several restaurants cooking up a storm of zesty chili-spiked crab every night.
Another ‘must try’ dish is the Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice, consisting of sliced poached chicken served with fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth with ginger and garlic, accompanied by a spicy chili-lime sauce, a pungent ginger puree and thick black soy sauce.
“Singapore is an explosion of cuisines. Many people visit Paris, Tokyo and New York for the food. One day Singapore will attain this same recognition,” says Michael Tay, Singapore’s Ambassador in Moscow.
One of the favorite experiences of visitors to Singapore is a visit to a ubiquitous food court. These are air conditioned halls which feature a range of different stalls selling different kinds of food from Singapore variety of Chinese, Indian and other oriental dishes to international cuisine. You sit wherever you want and everyone can choose what they want from the different stalls. There is a food court or two in almost every shopping mall and office building in the city.
Spoiled for Shopping Choice
Singapore is known as the shopping haven of Asia and it is the perfect place to shop for the finest products from both East and West. You can find the latest range of fashion, jewelry, watches, cosmetics and sporting goods, consumer technology and lifestyle products all with authentic quality and reliable service. From exquisite buys to value-for-money ethnic knick knacks, you will be absolutely spoiled for choice.
Orchard Road is the most famous shopping street, shaded by lush tropical trees, is lined with shopping malls with practically everything under the sun including the latest releases from famous international labels. For a seamless interlinked shopping Mecca visit Marina Bay by the mouth of the Singapore River. The vibrant mix of family-oriented malls and high end shopping arcades are all connected by the underground CityLink Mall.
Ethnic quarters are brimming with items that make wonderful gifts and souvenirs, as well as arts and antiques. Traditional Chinese medicines are sold in Chinatown, beautiful fabrics can be found on Arab Street and saris and exotic spices in Little India.
Don’t forget to take some premium food gifts back home so you can astonish friends with your Singaporean culinary skills. You can buy everything from packaged barbecued pork to yam cake to take home at a range of outlets recommended by the STB.
Singapore On the Web!
Singapore Tourism Board
Singapore International Ailines
Shoping Tax Refunds
Luxuty train journeys
Tours and local transport
Singapore Make the Most of Your Stay
By Julian Shuster
Whether you have three four or five days to spend in Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board has mapped out a recommended itinerary for you to make the most of it. If you only have 3 days…
Morning. Take a stroll in the Botanic Gardens – don’t forget to drop in at the national Orchid Garden to see orchid hybrids named after international celebrities.
Breakfast. Try kaya toast or spicy nasi lemak and freshly brewed local coffee or tea at a local coffee shop or kopitiam. Try Kiliney Kopitiam or Yakun.
Visit Chinatown and learn about its history through the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Explore the wet market on Smith Street and the only Hindu temple in the area and also Singapore’s oldest – Sri Mariamman.
Lunch: Banana Leaf Apolo in Little India. Try some Indian cuisine and order fish head curry. Get your ice-cold lime juice ready in case it’s too hot!
Afternoon. Explore Little India and discover the sights, color and sounds of this ethnic district. Pick up some ethnic souvenirs and handicrafts such as saris, art or handmade jewelry.
Walk through the Asian Civilizations Museum at Empress Place for an insight into the region’s history, culture and art.
Dinner. Try one of the many restaurants along the bustling Boat Quay. After dinner, walk down Orchard Road, a shopper’s heaven, where you can practically anything under the sun.
Evening. End the day with a nightcap, have a drink at the New Asia Bar at Swissotel The Stamford for a spectacular view of the city.
Breakfast: Start the day at the Singapore Zoo. Get close to nature in this award-winning zoo. Don’t forget to catch the various animal shows.
Lunch: Lau Pa Sat. Choose from a variety of local fare at this bustling lunch place located in the Central Business District.
Afternoon: Take a DUCK tour aboard this converted amphibious American military craft once used in the Vietnam War. An hour long tour will take you through the Civic District before splashing into the Singapore River.
Buy some souvenirs such as basket ware and sarongs from Arab Street. Marvel at the goldcolored dome of the Sultan Mosque.
Dinner: Take your pick from one of the harbor- front alfresco cafes at Esplanade Mall. After dinner, attend a performance at the new performing arts venue, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.
Evening: Party the night away at Zouk or one of the many pubs and clubs along Mohamed Sultan Road.
Morning: Make your way to Sentosa Island by taking a cable car from Mount Faber. Visit attractions such as Sky Tower, Fort Siloso and Underwater World.
Check into Spa Botanica for a soothing massage in the relaxing garden spa.
Lunch: After your massage, indulge in some spa cuisine. Continue exploring this popular leisure island. At weekends, pay a visit to the beach and join in some beach volleyball or rollerblading.
Evening: As twilight fades, head for the Musical Fountain for a dazzling lazer show.
Dinner: Visit Food Street in Chinatown for some of the best local fare.
After dinner, visit the world’s first night zoo – Night Safari – and observe the nocturnal creatures in their natural habitat.
If you have 4 or 5 days in Singapore…
As above, but spend the third night in Sentosa with a cozy dinner at The Cliff, Sentosa Resort and Spa.
Morning: Breakfast with the birds at Jurong BirdPark. After breakfast catch the live bird shows.
Lunch: Choose from one of the many restaurant and cafes at CHIJ MES, a former 19th Century convent.
Afternoon: Embark on the feng shui tour. For good luck, touch the water of the Fountain of Wealth, the world’s largest fountain at Suntec City, built upon feng shui principles.
Jump onto a quaint bumboat as it meanders through the Singapore River.
Dinner: Drop by Clarke Quay to sample some satay at the renowned Satay Club.
Breakfast: Start the day with a tasty breakfast of roti prata (a South Indian crispy, crusty pancake served with curry gravy).
Morning: Try out on of the Original Singapore Walks or the Peranakan Trail.
Lunch: Mingle with local residents at one of the many eateries in Holland Village.
Afternoon: Do some last minute shopping from a choice of boutiques selling ethnic household items, basket ware and clothes.
Visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to get away from the hustle of the city and enjoy an entirely different experience.
Dinner: Try one of the seafood restaurants along East Coast Park and sample some tasty chilli or pepper crabs.
Evening: Relax in the Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel, restored to its 1920’s grandeur and enjoy a Singapore Sling, served in this bar since 1915! Toast your Singapore holiday. Cheers!
By Maria Sinitsyna
Endless strips of white sand beaches gently caressed by the waves, virgin tropical rainforests, tranquil landscapes and a balmy climate – what else can you ask for the most memorable honeymoon?
One of the most romantic destinations in Malaysia is Langkawi Island, situated slightly off the west coast of the Malayan Peninsula. Wrapped in legends, it offers a number of fascinating stories connected to some of the tourist attractions. You and your beloved should try to visit the Tomb of Mahsuri, the Beach of Black Sand, the Field of Burnt Rice and the Hot Springs. The island’s diverse scenery offers you quite a number of activities: you can either take a dip in the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea and relax on one of the few beaches or escape to the wilderness and explore the ancient lakes and mysterious jungles. Local resorts offer a variety of places to stay at, from luxurious hotels to rustic chalets.
If you want something truly exclusive and secluded, check out Pangkor Laut. This privately owned island can fairly be called a tropical paradise and is often chosen by celebrities as a favorite honeymoon spot.
If you seek something more than just sunbathing, Penang would be your best bet. Called the “Pearl of the Orient”, it rivals the natural beauty of neighboring Langkawi but is by far the livelier of the two. Here you will be exposed to the country’s colonial past and will witness a mixture of Western influence with Malaysia’s own unique culture. You won’t have a problem keeping yourself busy on this island: it has plenty of hiking opportunities, as well as some great shopping and a throbbing nightlife.
What is also important, you can leave it all up to a tourist agency or tour operator to organize your time in Malaysia since many of them specialize in honeymoons. They will provide for everything, from a limousine at the airport and small gifts for the newlyweds to a petal-filled open-air bath.
2007 Big Year for Malaysia
Next year, Malaysia celebrates 50 years of independence. While the month of August will be filled with parades, cultural performances, street shows and carnivals across the country celebrating the country's Independence or Merdeka Day on 31 August, the whole year has been designated Visit Malaysia Year. Some 50 major Events to celebrate 50 years of independence are scheduled from the Visit Malaysia Year Grand Launch on 1st January to Christmas Celebration and Open House on 25th December as Malaysia prepares to Welcome the World.
Join the enthusiastic crowd at the Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur on the eve of Merdeka Day for the countdown to the momentous event. Another highlight of the year will be the Citrawarna or Colours and Flavours of Malaysia parade, a growing annual event showcasing the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the country which in 2007 promises to be grandest yet.
Malaysia is inviting the world to share in the joy and excitement of this momentous occasion. It is chance to rejoice and to share with the world the unique qualities and virtues that have shaped Malaysia to be the country that is today.
“Come and be mesmerized by a unique multicultural populace celebrating 50 years of nationhood in harmony and peaceful co-existance. You will truly be fascinated.”
Malaysia on the Web!
Ministry of Tourism Malaysia
Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA)
Malaysian Assocoiation of Hotels (MAH)
Malaysia My Destination
Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Something for Everyone
By Marina Sintsyna
In the turbulent world in which we live nowadays Malaysia manages to remain an example of a peaceful heterogeneous society. It represents a mélange of a number of cultures with all of them leaving their traces on the nation as a whole but nevertheless co-existing harmoniously. The Malays, the Chinese, the Indians, the Thais, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British contributed to shaping multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual Malaysia.
As a result, Malaysia offers its visitors as well as locals a fascinating variety of unique arts, architecture, dances, food and colorful festivals. Floral Parade, Le Tour de Langkawi, Rainforest Wild Music Festival, Merdeka Parade, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Sabah Fest, Harvest Festival are but a few events that can brighten up your stay in this country and enhance your cultural experience.
Located to the South from Thailand and Vietnam and to the North from Indonesia, Malaysia is blessed with numerous natural wonders and is ideal for eco-tourism. Lush tropical jungles, mountain ranges with Mount Kinabalu, the highest in South-East Asia, endless beaches allow everybody to have a holiday according to their taste.
Visiting the rainforests should be one of your top priorities. 130 000 years of age, they are estimated to be among the oldest ones in the world. Numerous rainforest reserves give an opportunity to immerse oneself in the pristine tropical environment with its exotic flora and fauna. Nature granted Malaysia with an immense variety of both, thus making it one of the twelve mega-biologically diverse countries in the world. It is here where you can find 15 000 species of flowering plants, the world biggest one, the Rafflesia, found among them. National parks provide visitors with both day and night guided jungle treks.
If the depths of the sea captivate you more than the mysteries of the jungle, you can choose among the many diving options that are available in Malaysian tropical waters. Dive centers here are well-equipped and cater to divers of various levels of experience. If you’ve yet to be introduced to the intriguing marine world, they will provide you with a beginner’s course. For more experienced ones, Malaysian underwater geography offers sloping reefs, coral blocks, wall dives, drift dives and wreck dives.
Swimming with the Hammerhead sharks can be rivaled by exploring the many caves of the country. Spelunking is accessible to all since guas, or caves, are divided into two categories: adventure caves and show caves. Show caves as a rule are visitor-friendly and are equipped with lights and marked paths, for example Deer, Lang, and Clear Water Caves in the National Park of Mulu. By the way, the Mulu Caves of Sarawak boast the biggest and longest cave networks in the world with 195km or cave passages explored representing mere 30 per cent of the estimated total. But this is not the only reason why Sarawak caves should be visited. You would not want to miss the Painted Cave in Gua Niah displaying unique prehistoric paintings on its walls.
Maybe the best way to plunge into Malaysian culture and experience its diversity is through its food. Here you can find Malay, Indian, Chinese cuisines. In addition to these, from the numerous street stalls you can try Mamak dishes of Indian-Muslim origin and Nyonya food, invented by the Peranakan people of Malaysia and Singapore.
Palatable food, wide range of activities, both environmental and cultural, incredible shopping bargains and most of all buoyancy and friendliness of the locals turn visiting Malaysia into an unforgettable experience.
Shop 'Til You Drop!
By Marina Sinitsyna
Malaysia is a dream destination not only for those craving for the tropical sun and pristine nature but for “shopaholics” as well. An increasing abundance of retail outlets, a great amount of duty-free offers, a favorable exchange rate – all this makes Malaysia a shoppers’ paradise.
As the country’s commercial hub, Kuala Lumpur houses the biggest number of shopping complexes. The most famous are accumulated on Jalan Bukit Bintang, once famous for Bukit Bintang Park and now transformed into a “Golden Triangle” or “Golden Mile”, a fashionable commercial district with hotels, bars, nightclubs, restaurants and ultra-modern malls aplenty. Bukit Bingtan Plaza is a large department store offering a range of goods from clothes and accessories to electrical devices and furniture. Moreover, this is where Marks & Spencer is located. The Sungei Wang Plaza, just next to BB Plaza, remains a favorite among locals and tourists and boasts of an array of small outlets with leisure wear, sports outfits, watches, shoes and eyewear. Across the street from Sungei Wang Plaza there is Lot 10 with the Japanese department store Isetan as its main tenant. Designer label shops occupy Lot 10’s upper floor. The nearby Imbi Plaza is for those seeking the latest computer-related products.
On Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman you’ll find one of the biggest department stores in Southeast Asia – Sogo Kuala Lumpur. Eight floors of this Japanese mall will amaze you with a choice of exclusive products. A stone’s throw away is Pertama Complex, known for its selection of leather apparel, sports gear and jewelry at very moderate prices.
When you do your sightseeing in Malaysia’s capital and visit Petronas Twin Towers, which until 2003 had been the world’s tallest building with its 88 floors and Petronas Philharmonic Hall, make sure to make a stop at Kuala Lumpur City Center Suria Shopping Complex. Beaming and buoyant as the Sun logo that lends it its name, Suria KLCC is the city’s newest and classiest shopping complex. Its several floors are occupied with fashion boutiques, specialty shops, jewelers and various duty-free shops that boast both local products and international names. Another place for upscale Western clothes is Star Hill Plaza, located in the aforementioned Jalan Bukit Bintang.
To pleasantly surprise your beloved with bejeweled gifts, you should definitely have a look at what is on offer in the Goldsmiths’ Row across the Central Market. Gold, diamonds, other precious stones – all these can be found in this Malaysian El Dorado. As for the Central Market itself, it is a perfect spot for buying local crafts and souvenirs.
Finally, your shopping experience in KL would be incomplete without testing your bargaining skills at the pasar malam (night market), which spreads out in Chinatown’s Petaling Street. At night the street is closed from traffic and the entire area is transformed into numerous colorful stalls selling a variety of goods and local foods. As a rule, the vendors are enthusiastic and friendly so you are bound to enjoy doing tawar, or bargaining.
Kuala Lumpur is by no means the only place in Malaysia with unique shopping opportunities. Great stores can be found on islands as well, such as Langkawi, Penang, and many others.
By Julian Shuster
The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain's colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a "Walled City" comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago.
In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence. In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands.
Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed the Japanese advance and saved Australia. They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946. Filipinos are a freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The Philippines is a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations.
Filipinos are a fun-loving people. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas celebrated everyday and foreign guests are always welcome to their homes.
The Philippines on the Web
Official Tourist information site
Official Government Portal
Wikipedia, the free encycloped ia Hyperlinked encyclopedia article covers the country's history , government and politics, geo graphy, economy, demographics, language and culture
Philippines Airlines Official Flag Carier . Online booking and more
Philippines Convention and Visitors Corporation Includes online bookings for hotel s and tour packages
Philippines: Spoiled for Choice
By Julian Shuster
The Philippines is Asia’s beach capital: Long, white sand beaches, an immense variety of marine life, rare and exotic sea flora and fauna, even the tropical party lifestyle are all in abundance more than a rarity in this archipelago of 7,107 islands, and a coastline twice the length of that of the United States. It is also home to Boracay, whose four-kilometer White Beach has been hailed as the “finest beach in the world.”
It has been described as the most exciting surfing destination in the world. Action Asia Magazine says, "The Philippines is to scuba divers what Switzerland is to skiers, Hawaii to surfers, and Nepal to mountaineers." There are also white water attractions– lakes, waterfalls, and rivers that create excellent kayaking and white water runs.
Subic Bay hosts a formidable combination of wrecks, from the 19th century Spanish gunboat San Quintin, to the Japanese luxury liner Oryoku Maru, and the ex-USS New York. Originally developed as a naval base by Spanish colonizers in 1885, Subic Bay became the largest US naval facility in the Far East. In 1991, it was transformed into a Freeport economic and tourism zone and snorkelers found a rare haven.
In late 1997, the world discovered the huge schools of whale sharks that had been visiting the mouth of Donsol River for generations, oblivious to the small coastal community. Organized whale shark expeditions then transformed this sleepy, remote fishing village into a major eco-tourist destination almost overnight, where you can swim alongside the world's largest fish. The Philippines is gaining a reputation as Asia’s most inexpensive shopping destination where you can get the most value for your money. Here you can find imported name brands from the West, as well as products handcrafted in the Philippines, from weaves, baskets, and brassware to handembroidered piña cloth, wood figurines, and all sorts of custom-made furniture, clothes, wedding gowns, shoes, embroidery items, and many other accessories.
The islands are also the wedding setting of your dreams, where traditional meets exotic, modern meets mythical, east meets west. Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort offers an unbelievable package at just $2,200 per couple including: four days/three nights deluxe accommodation, daily breakfast, roundtrip transfers, the wedding ceremony, makeup and hairstyling for the bride, rental of bridal gown & barong for the groom, services of flower girl, ring bearer and bride’s maid, bridal bouquet, wedding cake, music, video coverage – one VHS tape or a CD/DVD, an album of photos and one enlarged photo.
The Philippines is a sanctuary to an amazing variety of unique flora and fauna. View the Philippine Eagle, the biggest eagle in the world, in the wilds of Davao, Samar, and Quezon. At night see the world's smallest mammal in existence, the Philippine Tarsier, which inhabits the mahogany forests of Bohol. Get acquainted with endangered Philippine and African animals in the uninhabited 3,700-hectare Calauit Island.
Visit Banaue Rice Terraces, the Eighth Wonder of the World, which was carved from the high Cordilleras over 2,000 years ehold the 500-year old mummies in Kabayan. View Taal Volcano, the smallest in the world or head for the 1,268 Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Top off your experience with an exhilirating ride on a canoe down an eightkilometer Underground River in Sabang, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
The Spanish colonization saw the construction of Intamuros in 1571, a “Walled City” comprised of European buildings and churches. It is one of the world’s best preserved medieval cities, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. Walk through this walled Spanish colonial “city within a city,” situated right in the heart of Manila, complete with centuries-old walls, dungeons, churches, bulwarks, and plazas.
The Philippine jeepney was inspired by the GI jeeps that American soldiers brought with them in the 1940s. Enterprising Filipinos salvaged the engines of surplus GI jeeps and used them as the basis for low-cost mass transportation vehicles. The engines were given an all-new body and design, and with an unsurprising touch of creativity and ingenuity, out came the uniquely Filipino jeepney.
Today, it is the most popular mode of transport in the Philippines, owing to cheap fare and the convenience afforded to passengers to board and alight practically anywhere they want.
Getaway to Paradise
By Susan Hetherington
In the dead of winter, imagine floating in a fragrant flower bath; covered with rose petals. And while you lie there in your open air marble bathtub enjoying a panoramic view over azure sea, and mountains as the sun sets. You then climb into your hammock on the private veranda of your bungalow before drinks and dinner. You can make this happen by traveling to tiny Badian island, in the Visayas, off the coast of Cebu, the fastest growing metropolis in the Philippines after Metro Manila. The international standard Badian Island Beach Hotel on its own nearly private island, welcomes you to the sunset coast on Badian Bay. This is one of those lovely “complete” resorts that caters to your every need, your body and soul, and then some, as you get away from it all in one of the 42 private villas scattered over eight hectares of landscaped gardens.
One of my fantasies that I didn’t even know I had, was to visit the spa retreat that is built into a cliff with cascading sea waterfalls and pools gradually dropping down to the seawater line. The curative power of water therapy is enhanced by filtered seawater that contains a complex blend of natural minerals with antibacterial properties that are said to rebalance the body’s mineral deficiencies. You can relax in between the massages at the Thalasso (Greek word meaning ocean) Spa, lying in large seashell shaped pools or smaller seashell chairs, letting the water splash over your tension-ridden body. You can feel like Venus emerging from the sea in your very own seashell; bathing suit optional!
Seashells are a bit of a theme here with farewell seashell leis and the Seashell Bar serving up all the tropical drinks you might crave after an arduous day at the Spa or after returning from one of the excursions off-resort to the nearby Orchid Garden, or a Glassbottom- boat tour of the coral reefs, or the Kawasan Waterfalls tour, or other excursions around the island or over the water to other islands. The resort itself doesn’t offer really strenuous sports other than badminton, volleyball or billiards, but you can try out the Windsurfing equipment or sign up for scuba diving classes nearby.
The spread out feel of the resort allows for one aspect of a dream vacation that I was suspicious of; allowing children to intrude on my island paradise. The suites and separate bungalows allow for privacy and sound reduction and so if there are families occupyingome of the larger “family” suites with 2 bedrooms instead of one, I will accept their right to enjoy paradise with their children. The little darlings are usually well-occupied anyway with the TV/video room, the children’s playground, the large private sandy beach at the Lagoon and picnics arranged at the Kawasan Waterfalls.
Cebu is the Philippines second international airport and is well served by international flights from Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo. From Moscow, Qatar Airways flies via Doha direct to Cebu and the resort offers a choice between being picked up by a car and driver for the 90 km ride to the dock for the short hop to Badian Island, or, if you are really feeling like an oligarch, try the helicopter service that drops you into paradise without the hassle of driving and water ferry transfer and it takes only half an hour from Cebu Airport.
The staff of Badian Island Resort & Spa is one of the reasons you need to try this place. They are totally devoted to taking care of you in an unobtrusive and gracious way. They wait to serve you in the gourmet restaurants, equipped with a very good international wine selection. (Meals range from Filippino, Chinese, Japanese, to Spanish and the more traditional California nouvelle cuisine.) The staff will entertain you with Filipino traditional singing and dancing at Filipiniana Night or Fiesta Sa Baybayon with torches blazing and flower leis or fragrant flower crowns. Or they will invite you to the Spa for an hour to a day, take you for a sunset sail with dinner, drinks, harp and guitar music and serenade you as you prepare to depart.
For details and on-line booking visit www.badianhotel.com
Party Atmosphere Launches Food Festival
Launching the week-long Flavors of the Philippines Food Festival, a reception was held on September 20 sponsored by the Philippine Department of Tourism at Gubernatorsky restaurant. The Festival marked the debut of the archipelago’s cuisine on an international level in Moscow’s discerning gourmet market. The guests had the pleasure of sampling some signature dishes prepared by the skillful chefs from Manila’s Via Mare restaurant who came to Moscow specifically for the festival. Pritchon, or suckling pig, stuffed with lemon grass, was definitely the highlight of the evening. While the food provided joy for the body, Bayanihan, the national dance group of the Philippines, provided pleasure for the eyes and ears.
Because of the burgeoning tide of tourists from Russia to the Philippines, the Department of Tourism is keen to open the Russian market for their foodstuffs including fresh and dried fruits and other produce including quality timber products. They are specifically looking for entrepreneurs to launch Moscow’s first Philippines Restaurant, perhaps in partnership with Via Mare.
Galina Skeyris, Bayanihan
John Bonar, Bayanihan
M. Sinitsyna , R. Atienza , DOT represen
Mrs. M. Llamas;
O. Palabyab, Undersecretary, DOT;
T. Rovenskaya ; N. Corazon Ruiz,
Thailand Demonstrates Film-making Prowess in Russia
On October 12 the Royal Thai Embassy together with Europa Plus launched the Thai Film Festival held in Moscow on October 13-15 and then continuing in St. Petersburg on October 18-22. South Korea may still be the South-East Asian leader in cinematography, but nevertheless over the last five years Thailand has been experiencing an unprecedented growth in the film industry.
After the opening film, The Overture by Itthisunthorn Vichailuck, shown at the 35MM, the guests were invited to a reception at The Blue Elephant to savor the best of Thai cuisine and to watch another film, this time by Tom Yum Koong.
The festival was organized with the support of Thai Airways International and Boon Rawd Brewery Co., Ltd., producer of Singha beer.
Artemy Troitsky with his wife
H.E. Michael Tay, Ambassador of Singapore
Faizal Chery Sidharta, Woraporn Kanjawong
H.E. Sorayouth Prompoj, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand; A. Polesitsky
Thailand Where and What
By Julian Shuster
The first true Thai kingdom was located in the north at Sukhothai, and the region is dotted with great temple ruins. This is also the home of most Thai hill tribes.
Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city has over 300 temples and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. This is an excellent base to explore the north.
Thailand's north-western province of Mae Hong Son is mountainous with thick forests and breath taking scenery.
In the far north is Chiang Rai, a good place for a hill-tribe trek. Further south is Tak province, home to the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai.
Life in the Isaan north-eastern region of Thailand, is generally more relaxed, and the people appear more friendly. Isaan food is famous for its variety of ingredients and pungency. Particular favourites are som tam (a spicy papaya salad) and gai yang (roasted spiced chicken).
The gateway to whole area is through Nakorn Ratchasima, often refered to as Korat
There is a distinct Laos and Khmer influence in the region which is reflected in the local dialect, and the Angkor Wat like monuments near Surin and Buri Ram. There are archeological sites a little north of Korat, dating back some 4000 years.
At Ban Phu you can find prehistoric cave drawings. To the east lies Ban Chiang with its ancient ceramic and bronze sculptures.
The best silk in Thailand is said to come from the areas around Roi Et and Nakhorn Ratchasima (Korat). This is certainly the place to visit for bargains or an insight into silk weaving techniques. Further west is Thailand's most unspoiled province.
Bounded on both sides by water the people are seafarers, and the region offers some magnificent seafood dishes. It is also a major exporter of rubber, tin and coconut.
This vast stretch of coastline offers wonderful beaches and the tropical island resorts of Phuket and, to the east, the less developed Koh Samui.
Further south is the coastal town of Songkhla with its brightly painted fishing boats and white sands of Samila beach. 30km south-west is Had Yai where you can easily pick up a bus or taxi to Sadao and into Malaysia.
Probably the most famous piece of coastline in Thailand is at Phang Nga Bay about 96km north of Phuket. Forested limestone pillars rise out of the sea like inverted mountains, while numerous caves provide plenty of scope for adventure.
180km by road from Phuket is the provincial capital of Krabi which has good beaches and offers excellent snorkeling opportunities around the numerous islands in the province. Further south is Satun and the Phetra National Park, where Koh Turatao is located.
The area around Bangkok, has an abundance of attractions, although the traffic in the city can be trying.
Ayuthaya, some 86Km north of Bangkok offers an insight into Thailand of the past with many fine temples and two museums.
The Eastern Seaboard in Chonburi province has coral islands, beautiful beaches, excellent sports facilities, and a wealth of attractions, most of which are located at Pattaya or Rayong. Further along the coast are the towns of Chantaburi and Trat with secluded white sand beaches and clear waters.
To the west of Bangkok is Kanchanaburi the site of the infamous Death Railway of WW II . The Erawan National Park is within easy reach of Kanchanaburi, or the more adventurous may prefer a rafting trip on the nearby Mae Khlong River.
If sun and sand is on your itinerary then the beach resorts of Cha Am and Hua Hin are located to the south-west of Bangkok.
Introduction to Thailand
The Kingdom of Thailand is Southeast Asia's premiere destination with over 10 million visitors per year sampling its irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, inspiring temples, outstanding hospitality and superb cuisine. The country comprises 76 provinces each divided into districts, subdistricts and villages. Bangkok is the capital city and centre of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities.
Thailand is often called the "land of smiles", and rightly so because you will see more smiling people here than anywhere else in the world.
The country has a population of about 59 million, with some 6.7 million of these people living in the Bangkok area. Approximately 75% of the citizenry are ethnic Thais, 14% are Chinese, and the remaining 11% are mostly Indian, Malay, Karen, Khmer, or Mon. The literacy rate is high at about 94% and the average life expectancy is 66 for men and 72 for women.
Thai people are friendly and tolerant but there are a few Do's and Don'ts which you should observe. Avoid touching people on the head, and keep your feet on the ground where they belong. Stay calm, smile and enjoy the hospitality of your hosts.
The official language is Thai, but English is widely spoken in all major tourist locations. However if you are travelling around Thailand it is a good idea to buy a phrase book.
Thailand on the Web
Thai Airways (includes online booking and destination guides)
Comprehensive travel facts and advice
Thailand travel guide Bangkok, Pataya and beyond
Thai Airways – Newest Aircraft & Newest Airport
By Julian Shuster
Survanabhumi is Bangkok’s new airport and now connects to Moscow’s most modern counterpart – Domodedova. Survanabhumi is the first major airport to open in South East Asia in several years and is hence the region’s most modern. The four times a week non-stop flight from Moscow to Bangkok gives the traveler the chance to access Thai Airways Asian hub to over 70 destinations around the world including Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and Australia. Not only is Suvarnabhumi hailed as the most modern airport in the world, but Thai Airways, which is a state carrier, uses its airline as a showcase for the country. That translates into impeccable Thai hospitality and very satisfied customers. Thai Airways also sports one of the most modern fleets of any carrier including Boeing 777-200ER, Airbus 340-500’s and the world longest range ever aircraft which was just recently commissioned for flying: the Airbus 340-600. No surprise that Thai Airways was ranked as one of the world’s leading airlines by many rating agencies.
Thai Airways has three classes of service, Royal First, Royal ilk and Economy Class. In all three, passengers enjoy commodious and plush seating along with a wide range of entertainment programs provided by the new self-select interactive TV, Audio and Video, On Demand System.
Thai Aiways is renowned for its gracious inflight service and its excellent meals in all classes. It offers a choice between two entrees, and changes its menus on a regular basis to please frequent passengers. THAI also offers Western’s cuisine menu and the flavours of Asia with Japanese and Chinese dishes available on most trans-Pacific and intra-Asian flights. All drinks are complimentary.
“Sawasdee” , is not only the warm Thai greeting you received with a polite Wai as you boarded this flight, but is also your informative magazine offering airline information, and an insight into the culture of a fascinating country, proud to be Thai and proud to share with you an uniquely diverse and rich heritage.