Traditions like a marriage dowry remain in Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the country. My Borneo guide, Nor Noridah tells me, “I got married when I was 15. My husband paid 5,000 MYR (Malaysian currency about US$1,122) and a cow. It was a very big cow.”
Though Malaysia has leapt into the 21st century, its culture hasn’t modernized as quickly. My visit to both KL, as Kuala Lumpur the capital is known, and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo lets me sample both.
As I gazed at the Hazard Mountains across Great Oyster Bay, the rays of the setting sun cast a glorious glow on the pink granite peaks of the range above and the azure sea below. Sitting by the fireplace, a glass of wine in hand sure felt like heaven to me. Welcome to Saffire, Australia’s luxurious coastal resort perched on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula where pristine air, unspoiled nature and gastronomic cuisine are the order of the day. The water is so pure yielding seafood so sublime, it’s not surprising that Australia’s top chefs move here.
No matter where you go in Wenzhou (pronounced Win-joe) City, the Chinese paparazzi will accompany you. It isn’t because they think you are famous, but rather because you are a Westerner. This city of 9 million doesn’t have a lot of Western tourists. That and its mild weather are its charm.
Surrounded by mountains and the East China Sea, the locals consider it a “small” city. Compared to Shanghai’s over 24 million locals, it is.
Thailand Travel Mart 2016 commenced with an address by Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, who expressed confidence in the country’s continuing tourism growth. She noted that 60% of visitors are return travelers drawn to the friendly Thai people in addition to the locale’s gorgeous beaches, natural beauty, rich history and superb food. Wattanavrangkul stated that Discover Thailand 2016 reflects the genuine Thai lifestyle, activities and attractions. The annual event took place for the first time in Chiang Mai instead of the capital Bangkok, evidence of the destination’s new focus.
The 2016 Visit Japan Travel Mart (www.vjtm.jp) held September 21-23 at Tokyo Big Sight, included 450 domestic sellers and 358 buyers from overseas. Many of the domestic exhibitors were new, locally-based experiential travel companies offering unique hands-on and off-the-beaten track cultural and adventure experiences that can be packaged by US travel companies.
Think China and you might envision pagodas and farmers wearing coolie hats. Forget that! Today the country abounds with McDonalds, KFCs, Starbucks, Hooters and capitalism. Tiffany’s is walking distance from Tiananmen Square. Next to the Regent Hotel is a Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Maserati dealership.
Beijing is honking horns, trucks, cars, bikes, motorcycle and huge chunks of humanity. It’s not the place to have enochlophobia -- a fear of crowds. Just when you think you’ve found tranquility in a garden, fluttering, colored flags appear, bull horns sound, and a maddening crowd of tourists appear.
Alongside the road, a man lathers himself with soap and a bucket of water. It’s a unique photo op. From the shanty window his wife shouts, “Have him take off his pants. It would make a better picture!”
Tahiti, which refers to the largest island in French Polynesia and her 118 sister islands, draws visitors from around the globe attracted to her natural beauty, rich culture and sensory delights. Think silken sand beaches, swaying palms, turquoise lagoons, tropical foliage, coconuts, pineapples and friendly people.
Interest in cruises on Asia’s rivers has been fueled by clients who either have “been there, done that” and/or want something more exotic than the usual European river experience. The demand is being met with added ships - many, if not most, have been specifically built to sail the region - as well as expanded itineraries. Also noteworthy: the level of luxury has been kicked up substantially with such features as spas, fully equipped fitness centers, butlers and menus created by celebrity chefs.
India always promises a fascinating journey. Majestic palaces, ancient temples and forts punctuate the diverse terrain. The riot of colors, flavors, aromas and sounds that make up everyday life are unforgettable. Cars, sacred cows and three wheeled tuk-tuk moto-taxis share the streets with food carts and pedestrians in turbans, business suits, dhotis and saris. With outstanding accommodations, top destination spas, excellent cuisine and famous sights, there’s something for everyone.