Asian Treasures Unveiled
Like a jewel dropped into the ocean, Sri Lanka sparkles bright, especially when you have these 10 unforgettable things to do in Sri Lanka. Once named Serendip, then Ceylon, the tear-drop isle might be compact in size, but it heaves with beautiful beaches, UNESCO-listed heritage sites, tea plantations, wildlife, dance, gems, spice, jungles, ancient wonders, Ayurveda and kilo-watt smiles every which way.
With the streets lined with Ayurveda spas, and I thought it was time to take my wellness journey up a notch with a stay in an Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka. But I must confess, I was anxious about my stay in an Ayurveda retreat. I really like espressos, I don’t take kindly to being told what to eat and nor do I enjoy the taste of medicine. I wasn’t entirely on board with the vegetarian menu either during my stay at an Ayurveda retreat in Sri Lanka, unlike my neighbour pictured below.
One of the oldest forms of holistic healing in the world, Ayurveda promotes natural beauty, positive health and a long life. Sri Lanka heaves with Ayurveda practitioners, and treatments vary from wandering into a centre for a relaxing massage to an intensive stay at an Ayurvedic retreat in Sri Lanka where you’ll be revived physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Receiving an Ayurveda treatment is a life-changing experience for the body, mind and soul – but be prepared to have your Western sensitivities challenged, as I discovered on a recent trip to an Ayurveda spa in Sri Lanka.
Some of Sri Lanka’s best elephant safaris and beaches can be found in the south of this magical tear-shaped island. Foreigners, burquas, and children bob along to the rhythm of boats along the curvaceous bay of Unawatuna. The scents of coconut oil, incense, diesel, sunscreen, salt, and curry flirt with abandon in the gentle breeze. The idyllic scene is complete with swaying palm trees and sauntering bikini-clad bodies glistening in the humidity.
Teeming with food, bars, shopping, wildlife, day spas and swanky hotels, Singapore has all the vices covered. The diamond-shaped compact metropolis may be deemed unadventurous for the intrepid traveller but is ideal for swooning lovers looking for fun date ideas in Singapore.
A verdant checkerboard of rice paddies and lush expanses, Ubud has staked its claim as the spiritual and artistic capital of Bali. About an hour from the airport, give or take a thousand or so motorbikes, twisty bends and road work delays, you’ll relish in the tranquillity and these unique places to stay in Ubud, Bali.
Singapore’s Hainanese Chicken Rice is the Asian equivalent of what chicken soup is to the soul. Eaten any time of the day or night, this national dish is served everywhere from school canteens to high-end restaurants. Originally from Hainan Island in southern China, this wholesome dish is also often called Hainanese Chicken Rice, and is a meal of steamed or blanched chicken, fragrant rice and chicken broth eaten with soy sauce, spring onions, slices of cucumber, ground chilli and ginger sauce.
While tropical adventures are aplenty in Malaysia’s Borneo, the state of Sabah oozes a tumultuous cultural past. The phrase “land below the wind” was coined a century ago by sailors to describe the Malaysian state of Sabah on the northern coast of Borneo because of its location south of the typhoon belt.
Like a queen overseeing her subjects from her throne, Chiang Mai hovers high in Thailand’s north far away from the south’s madness. Initially conceived for her trade route to China, the northern capital remains largely independent from the rest of the country. Compact, walkable and friendly, Chiang Mai has all the cultural bases covered with its food, ruins, temples, scenery, elephants, adventure, crafts and continuing traditions.
It’s easy to understand why Koh Samui is one of the best travel destinations for couples, as the night promises all the drama of a tropical storm. There was a time not that long ago when boutique accommodation, fine dining and day spas hadn’t yet appeared on Koh Samui’s tourist trail, and the island was famed for its fishing communities and coconuts. Now its staggering beauty fringed by aquamarine deems Koh Samui as one of the best travel destinations for couples.
As the speedboat zoomed towards Gaya Island Resort, I was already devising ways to never return to reality. A few minutes off the coast of Kota Kinabalu on the Malaysian state of Sabah lies a refuge away from life as most of us know it. Occupying 15km and located on the island of Pulau Gaya (meaning Gaya Island) within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Malohom Bay sweeps majestically at the Gaya Island Resort’s feet. Here are 10 reasons why you will want to desert yourself on Gaya Island.
I have a confession while on a food tour in Manila. My attention isn’t entirely focused on the food on the Big Binondo Food Wok Tour through Manila’s Chinatown. For starters, I’m a little bit star-struck and secondly, it’s so hot that I wonder if I might morph into one of Manila’s sidewalk woks or satay grills.
There are 7,000 islands in the Philippines but not all of them are famed for their beaches. On Cebu, Magellan’s Cross looms above, a larger than life relic to Christianity, but forget about the stoic tradition of Catholicism as this island applies as much vibrance to its religious rituals as it does to its jeepneys, cuisine and broad smiles.
It’s a wild ride to West Bali. Invigorating is another way to describe the four-hour drive from Denpasar. As trucks and motorbikes play dodgems, I put all my faith in our trusty driver and concentrate on the spectacular scenery on the way to West Bali.
During Sri Lanka’s Galle Literary Festival in 2011, I was thrilled to meet Candace Bushnell, the author of Sex and the City. To arrive at her Sex in a Sarong party on Taprobane Island, I waded through water – it certainly wasn’t the entrance I had planned for a soiree with the best-selling author during the Galle Literary Festival.
It’s been a while since many of us have had the opportunity to travel to Ubud, Bali.
With a staggering coastline and spectacular vistas galore and with the nearby Gili Islands, Lombok is the ultimate tropical playground in Indonesia.
Escaping India’s chaos and eye-watering smog, we set sail aboard a houseboat on an Alleppey backwater cruise in Kerala. Located in the southwest corner of India and covering the Kollam, Kottayam, Alappuzha and Kochi districts, the waterways snake for 900 kilometres. As the Arabian Sea washes ashore, you’re about as far away from the manic pace of India as you can get without leaving the country.