The Love Issue

March 13, 2011 by  
Filed under magazine, News

The Love Issue – explore the romantic beauty of Asia, bound to leave you breathless and yearning for more in this lovingly prepared issue especially for you!

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In this issue
+ Luxurious Maldives
+ Singapore’s Top Restaurants
+ Kaleidoscopic Rajastan
+ Childhood Passion, Yellow Mountain
+ Romantic Interlude, Bali
+ Everlasting Love in Taiwan
+ It’s Amore! V-Day Traditions
+ Capturing Emotions

Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. We have got some of the best malia holidays ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia. Come back often and don’t miss out!

Historic Duolun Road, Shanghai

June 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Culture, Uniquely Far East

If places like Taikang Lu and Xintiandi are a contemporary and historical melting pot of Shanghai-ness, then Duolun Road is its timeline. When 50 Moganshan was still nothing more than a textile factory, some of the most radical and freethinking writers of their time were chilling out on Duolun Rd. It started with Lu Xun, China’s most celebrated literary son, who moved in to the area in the 1930s. Others, like Guo Moruo, Mao Dun and Ding Ling followed. Before long, Duolun Rd. had blossomed into a vibrant cultural district of writers, artists and Chinese liberals.

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The entire Hongkou District, just north of the Bund, where Duolun Rd. is located, was at one time a settlement of American and British diplomats, and thus has always prevailed as an area of Shanghai where internationalism flourished. When Duolun Rd. was first built in 1911, it was called Darroch Rd. after a British missionary who had once met with the Emperor during the Qing Dynasty. The road was renamed “Duolun Lu” in 1943, after the People’s Republic of China was established. By the end of the 20th century, Duolun Rd. had been pedestrianized and much of it restored, repainted and revitalized.

Despite the many social, political and aesthetic changes around Duolun Rd. throughout the last hundred years, the street still runs its same course in an L-shape, connecting at its two ends with the bustling Sichuan Bei Lu. A hodgepodge of architectural styles interlace the road, weaving together a map of the street’s age like lines on a tree trunk. Old bookshops, antiques stores and trinket stalls line the edges of the street and give visitors a chance to partake in the Bohemian feeling of what was once the greatest literary center in all of China.

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Shopping

Shopping is not why people go to Duolun Rd., but it is one of the perks of being there. That is, if you are interested in antiques, because antiques are really all you’ll find on Duolun Rd. A few dusty bookshops leave their doors open to passersby interested in historic and used books, most of them Chinese. Unnamed trinket shops sell archaic bits of jewelry – beaded bracelets, jade necklaces and old fans. And the dozens of antiques stores you’ll find there house fine examples of traditional Chinese furniture, wooden objects and historic porcelain (just be on the lookout for fakes, because they’re around, too). There is even some revolutionary paraphernalia to be found in the mix, if that’s your thing.

Shopaholics may find another spot in Shanghai to be a more entertaining option. Shanghai’s “new heaven and earth”, hip modern Xintiandi, is a hotspot of entertainment, shopping and nightlife that really lives up to it’s name.

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Eating

Cultural districts never have a shortage of quaint cafes, and Duolun Rd. is no exception. Several small eateries are dotted along the road in between antiques shops and historic buildings. If you’ve ventured far afield enough to find Duolun Rd. in the first place, you’ll want to step inside Old Film Café, which pays homage to Shanghai’s contributions to the silver screen with their showings of old Chinese movies. Though their menu is limited, the classic film-heavy ambiance shouldn’t be missed. The Koala Garden House and Eucalyptus Café is perhaps the best spot on the street for a quick bite and a strong Illy coffee, which can be enjoyed in the café’s cute cottage setting amid a mishmash of colorful walls and stone columns.

If it’s a truly hearty meal you’re after, a branch of the popular Japanese ramen noodle chain, Ajisen, is just around the corner on Sichuan Bei Lu. Though by far the smallest branch of Ajisen I’ve ever encountered, the food is just as tasty (and there is often a line out the door for lunch).

After a day of eating and history, head on towards The Cool Docks, your very first stop for a luxuriant taste of Shanghai’s soft, romantic side, and an excellent way to start out the night’s revelries.

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Odds & Ends

The tie that binds Duolun Rd. together through a century of history is the architecture, and that too is the most charming thing about a walk down the street.

The strong presence of Duolun Rd.’s artistic past can be felt immediately as you enter the street from Sichuan Bei Lu. The first thing you encounter is the Shanghai Museum of Modern Art, which in truth is not as interesting or important as much of the art you’ll find at 50 Moganshan. However, the Shanghai MOMA is the only subsidized museum of modern art in China, and for that it has an important place in the world of Chinese modern art.

Further down the road, Hong De Tang, the Great Virtue Christian Church, offers up a sublime architectural fusion, with its firmly European brick façade embellished by distinctly Chinese upturned eaves. A bit of neo-Classical French architecture is evident in the white-washed iron balconies of the Tangenbo residence just past Duolun Rd.’s L-curve; and at the end of the street, even an Islamic presence is visible in the Kongxiangxi house, a stately granite structure with rounded windows that suggest its Central Asian influences.

And in between these, along Duolun Rd.’s .8 km stretch of cobbled stones, sit dozens of examples of Lilong houses in the style typical of Old Shanghai. Narrow, dense and packed together like stacked cardboard boxes, these buildings remind the visitor that yes, this is still Shanghai after all.

If art is more your cup of tea, head on towards Shanghai’s art district, 50 Moganshan, the center of modern Chinese art in Shanghai.

Getting There

Though most listings will tell you to take a bus directly to Duolun Rd. (No. 21, 939, 231, 47, 854, 79, 18), the nicest way to go is actually by subway. If you take Metro Line 3 (yellow) and get off at Dongbaoxing Rd., it’s only a 5-10 minute walk to the entrance to Duolun Rd. at Sichuan Bei Lu, and is a pleasant way to see some of the authentic residential backstreets of Shanghai.

Use Exit 1 and go right, following Hailun Xi Lu west to Sichuan Bei Lu, where you’ll turn left. You’ll know you’ve reached Duolun Rd., again on the left, by the large historic stone gate that marks the entrance to the street.

Unearthing Asia now offers travel packages throughout the region of Asia. Check out our promotional offers of Luxury Private Villas in Bali, perfect for Honeymooners or those looking for a little romance. We also have great offers for hotels in Singapore, resorts in Phuket and many more.

About the Author. Megan Eaves. Megan Eaves is a freelance travel writer and China junkie. She’s an English teacher in a small town in Zhejiang Province where her days are filled correcting grammatical mistakes, killing nuclear wasps and getting stared at by the locals. Megan has traveled everywhere from the Great Wall to the Gobi Desert and isn’t afraid to write about it. She’s also the author of a groovy book called “This is China: A Guidebook for Teachers, Backpackers and Other Lunatics”. She, of course, has a website: http://www.meganeaveswriting.com

A Tale of Four Cities

March 13, 2010 by  
Filed under magazine, News

For our Issue 02 of the magazine, we share with you travel tales from four cities all over Asia – Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Seoul – and much more!

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In this issue
+ Shanghai Hip
+ Singapore’s Dempsey
+ The Heart of Seoul
+ Sydney’s Culture Capital
+ Tasty Taiwan
+ The Art of Humanity
+ Asia’s Little Dragon
+ Wellness for the Soul
+ Chic Melbourne
+ Jakarta Capital Treats
+ Bali, Romance in Paradise

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10 Things To Do In Hong Kong

Compared to Singapore, Hong Kong is often synonymous with a dirty, rowdy and cramped megalopolis that’s extremely easy to get lost in. It’s maze of cheap shopping and street-side food snacks are thronged with locals and tourists alike, almost always succeeding in confusing your exploration.

Fortunately, there are plenty more to enjoy here other than the frenzied shopping of Mong Kok – here are but ten suggestions for you!

Amazing view from the harbor. Photo credit - Steve Webel.

Amazing view from the harbor. Photo credit - Steve Webel.

Tramming through Hong Kong Island

The HK2 narrow double-decker city trams trundling on the north coast of Hong Kong Island are a Hong Kong icon. They are much slower, but the route takes you by various points of interests such as the Western Market, Causeway Bay, Happy Valley and finally ends at Shau Kei Wan. Through the journey, you’ll be able to see the landscape gradually changing from that of a CBD to towards public government housings. Definitely the cheapest sightseeing tours around.

Watching the horse race is great fun and a big local past-time. Photo credit - lecercle.

Watching the horse race is great fun and a big local past-time. Photo credit - lecercle.

A Night Out at the Happy Valley

For those into a bit of gambling or just wanting a great night out, take off the tram at Happy Valley Race Course, another of Hong Kong’s iconic landmark. Horse races are usually held on Wednesday night, but it’s best to check ahead of time. Bring your passport to get a tourist pass for HK100 (roughly US$13) which gives you access to most areas of the course. The atmosphere is great, and there are always side-shows and activities for those less interested in the horses.

Relaxing at Lei King Wan

At the east end of the MTR route is Sai Wan Ho, a quiet coastal side town that plays host to the Hong Kong Film Archive and the Museum of Coastal Defence. Take a walk along the Eastern District Tourist Trail, passing by various temples towards Lei King Wan, or Soho East. There are various waterfront establishment in the area serving a wide array of cuisines, from the cheap to the luxurious, a great place to enjoy a slow, quiet dinner and end the night on a high note!

The promenade by the Avenue of Stars. Photo credit - werty.

The promenade by the Avenue of Stars. Photo credit - werty.

A Symphony of Lights at the Avenue of Stars

Directly within walking distance of the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station is the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It celebrates icons of Hong Kong cinema from the past century, and the seaside promenade offers fantastic views, day and night. Every night at 8pm, you can also enjoy A Symphony of Lights, a spectacular lights and laser show that is recognized byt the Guinness World Record as the world’s “Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show”. Go on either Monday, Wednesday or Friday, when the show is performed in English.

The Giant Buddha Statue at Lantau Island. Photo credit - Nik.

The Giant Buddha Statue at Lantau Island. Photo credit - Nik.

Exploring Lantau Island

Lantau Island is the biggest of the 230 or so islands belonging to the territory of Hong Kong. Take the MRT to Tung Chung, and make your way towards the Po Lin Monastery through a 30-minutes cable car ride called the Ngong Ping 360. There is a cultural village at Ngong Ping where you can have refreshment and shop for souvenirs, but the main treat is the Giant Buddha statue. This extraordinary statue is 34 metres high, and visitors can climb the 268 steps to reach the platform where the Buddha is seated. For those more adventurous, skip the cable car ride and enjoy the natural hiking trail through the hills.

Bargain Hunting at Tung Chung Factory Outlets

Back from your exploration at the Lantau Island, take a quick stop at Tung Chung MTR Station and explore the CityGate Shopping Mall, Hong Kong 1st outlet mall. There are plenty of outlet factories here, which means cheap, quality bargains you won’t find elsewhere. Unlike the street-side vendors and shops at Mong Kok, the goods here are not fake. It is also significantly less cramped, which means less competition in search for that great bargain.

Stanley Town

Accessible by bus, Stanley Town is a tourist attraction located in the southeastern peninsula of Hong Kong Island. Take a walk through Stanley Market, a large open-air marketplace that is similar to Mong Kok, but minus the throng of crowds. The bargains here are mostly souvenirs such as ornaments, arts and crafts. The main attraction however, is the Stanley Main Street, renowned for its many waterfront establishment offering a variety of foods and refreshments. This area is very popular with both tourists and expats, not unlike Singapore’s Clarke Quay.

Lan Kwai Fong is always crowded every night. Photo credit - strauser.

Lan Kwai Fong is always crowded every night. Photo credit - strauser.

Nightlife at Lan Kwai Fong

A buzzing center of clubs, bars and restaurants, this buzzing estate of trendy establishment is a popular hangout place for the night owls, both locals and tourists. Located smack in the middle of Hong Kong’ Central area, the place is always crowded every night. You can also find various bistros and pubs around the area, serving midnight supper and snacks for bar-goers till late at night.

The Peak Tower at Victoria Peak. Photo credit - jiazi.

The Peak Tower at Victoria Peak. Photo credit - jiazi.

Victoria Peak

Take the extremely steep Peak Tram and head towards Victoria Peak to enjoy a scenic view of Hong Kong. Up at the Peak, there is the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and also the recently renovated Peak Tower, housing an array of shops and establishments for your enjoyment. There are also various hiking trails and the Sky Terrace from which you can enjoy the best view in Hong Kong!

Fortune tellers ply their trade at Temple Street. Photo credit - dreistreifen.

Fortune tellers ply their trade at Temple Street. Photo credit - dreistreifen.

Mystic Reading at Temple Street

The Temple Street at night is filled with various fortune tellers who can give you readings for around HK50 to 100. They consists of a varied bunch with differing skills, from reading of tea leaves and palms to Tarot cards and the traditional fortune teller based on your birth date and Chinese zodiac. Some of the more popular ones have queues up to an hour or so, and one stall I saw was fully booked for the rest of the week! I’m pleased to say that my reading was about 75% accurate, and it was right on target on the more important questions!

As you can see, there are plenty to see and do in Hong Kong other than trudging along with thousand others in search for a good bargain. Hong Kong is also a great place to be based in while you explore Macau, and even Shen Zhen.

Travel smarter! If your looking for the best deals on Hong Kong hotel prices, head on to SmartHotelComparison.com for a one-stop portal which allows you to compare prices from over 500 booking websites!

Puerto Princesa – A Jewel in the Sea

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Exotic South East

Various small islands dots the Palawan beach

Various small islands dots the Palawan beach

Few places in the Philippines, indeed in all of Southeast Asia, can compare with the beauty of Palawan. Throughout the years, its pristine islands and sandy beaches has tantalized the minds of many, and few are able to resist its charm. Puerto Princesa – its capital – serves as a center for tourism and trade, with most tourists using it as a stop over before heading to the various reefs of corals and coves around Palawan.

As I made my way into the hotel, I flashed a smile at a group of tourists passing by. I can smell the ocean salt in the air, a sure sign of the various beach activities they must have participated in – swimming at the beach, snorkeling, or diving to the depths of Palawan’s magnificent seas. I made a mental note to check out the beach, but first I have a whole new city to explore.

If we look at the map of the Philippines and the Palawan Island, we’ll find Puerto Princesa right in the middle, the province itself bounded by the South China Sea in the west and the Sulu Sea in the east. Totaling an area of approximately 260 thousand hectares, it is the second largest city in the country with approximately one hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants. It is a city that prides on its cleanliness and natural beauty, and has often been dubbed the capital of ecotourism.

Legend has it that Puerto Princesa was named after a maiden who used to roam the island on certain evenings of the year.

Others would say that she receives her name from being a haven for everyone, from the seafarers who dock there to the nature lovers and environmentalists who are amazed by the protected area. History tells us however, that it was named after a Spanish Princess in 1864, Princes Eulalia of Spain. When she died, the place was named Puerto de la Princesa and as time progressed, this was reduced to Puerto Princesa.

Island hopping is a popular activity here, with the Sta Lourdes wharf serving as a port for tourists who want to rent boats for fixed tours or to simply go wherever they like. There are also city tours that brings you to various attractions such as the Iwahig penal colony, the Crocodile Farm, Butterfly Garden and Mitra’s Ranch. The Iwahig is a unique wall-less prison colony where convicts act as they would living in a village. They cultivate rice and other crops, do fishing or carve handicraft products for souvenirs.

A serene lagoon envelopes the entrance to the underground river.

A serene lagoon envelopes the entrance to the underground river.

Stalactites and stalagmites formations inside the underground river.

Stalactites and stalagmites formations inside the underground river.

Top of my list of must-see attractions however, is Palawan’s most esteemed wonders – the Underground River.

The Subterranean River National Park at Puerto Princesa is a haven of natural beauty that has been nominated to become one of the Seven Wonders. It boasts a 8.2 kilometers long river that goes through a mesmerizing cave before it makes its exit right into the South China Sea. Exploring the meandering cavern is made easy with the various tours available on site, and you will be awed by the exquisite beauty of the stalactites and stalagmites in rainbow colors.

As the tourist boat gently made its way through the scintillating river, I laid on my back to take in the wondrous view. Passing through the beautiful river was a breathtaking experience comparable to none, and right at the mouth of the cave lies a clear, peaceful lagoon that supports a thriving wildlife. Truly, there is much more to Palawan and Puerto Princesa than its oceanic adventures and virgin beaches.

About the Author. Char Magalong. Char Magalong, freelance web designer and programmer, spent two years living, working and traveling in Singapore. Another two years stint right after that in Malaysia led to homesickness, after which she promptly returned to the Philippines. With her myriad of treasured experiences for apt comparison, she comments regularly on the beauty of Philippines and its surrounding country side.