Ask any Singaporean, and he’ll bemoan the rising costs of living, the surge of mega-malls, the skyrocketing housing prices, the overcrowding, and even (especially) the heat. But mention one thing — food — and that grimace will morph into an earnest, forthcoming grin and a flurry of suggestions. No other city invests so much of its soul and identity into its cuisine, which, like the city itself, is a kaleidoscopic mish mash of cultures, traditions and flavours.
If Singapore was a man, he’d walk on water. What was once waves on the Singapore Straight just 10 years ago is now the shiny new face that Singapore likes to show to the world. A combination of government spending and foreign investment has sat world-class architecture, tourism spots and cultural centres on land reclaimed from the sea.
As we drove the 34km from Seminyak Beach to the town of Ubud, the boutique shops, restaurants and luxury resorts, morphed into villages, farmland, rivers and narrow winding roads. Then, as suddenly as they had disappeared, once again we were surrounded by the trappings of tourism. But despite some similarities, the two towns have unique souls.
While it’s every traveller’s goal to experience a new destination through the eyes of a local, unless you have friends or family living there, that can be a next-to-impossible task. Happily, in Ho Chi Minh City, there are a few places that aim to turn tourists into locals.
An African safari inevitably figures on almost every adventure traveller’s bucket list, sandwiched somewhere between Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of following the footsteps of intrepid explorer, David Livingstone, one of the first westerners to overcome deadly diseases and wary natives to cross the continent in the mid 1800s? Or Scottish journalist Henry Stanley who, with the help of 200 porters, forged through 1,100km of African jungle to finally meet up with Livingstone and utter the now famous greeting, “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”
Located to the northwest of Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, is the exquisite Tango Peninsula. Boasting more than 2,000 temples and shrines, all hidden around every bend, this sparsely populated region is an untouched treasure trove that even locals don’t know about. Words and illustrations by J Muzacz
A trip to Kuala Lumpur need not be focused on Chinatown, The Petronas Towers and the Golden Triangle. This is a city with a booming arts scene. Rachel Jenagaratnam speaks to the industry folk and discovers that there are only more exciting times ahead