An immersive annual showcase and dialogue for art and film is set to take place at the Six Senses Yao Noi, Beyond Phuket from December 16 to 20, 2011. Film on the Rocks will be a 4 days and 3 nights of film showcase, local activities and conversation. Dictated by nature, the screenings will be informed by the tides, the activities will embrace Yao Noi and her neighbouring islands, whilst conversation will stem from interaction with locals. Tilda Swinton, Cultural Activist and Producer and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Filmmaker and Winner of the 2010 Palme d’Or will curate the inaugural Film on the Rocks. Ms. Swinton and Mr. Weerasethakul will present film titles to be screened on the rocks of Phang Nga Bay, under the stars. This year, emerging filmmakers will be chosen by Mr. Weerasethakul and their works will be premiered at Film on the Rocks.
The premiere event, Film on the Rocks will be 4 days and 3 nights of film showcase, local activities and conversation. Fully dictated by nature, the screenings will depend on the tides, and the wide array of activities all aims to embrace Yao Noi and her neighbouring islands. Local activities, debates and conversations will take place with the participation of Waris Ahluwalia, Jefferson Hack, Andre Saraiva, Olympia Le Tan and other personalities together with local villagers and the sea gypsies of Yao Noi. In addition, Film on the Rocks will be hosting residencies each year at Six Senses Yao Noi. This year, the emerging filmmakers will be chosen by Mr. Weerasethakul and their works will be premiered at Film on the Rocks.
The event aspires to be an alternative platform upon to showcase views where different worlds converge, to start a dialogue with not only each other, but also the environment and the world. It proposes to do so by bringing luminaries together to Yao Noi, an island detached from common big city concerns to reflect upon the notion of shared experiences. This will be the first event of its kind taking place at Six Senses Yao Noi. Yao Noi sits at the centre of some of the most magical locations and iconic sites in cinema history. Film on the Rocks aims to be a source of creativity and not just a backdrop to these moments. Six Senses has pioneered the idea of intelligent luxury and environmentally sustainable eco-tourism. It also continues to support cultural exchanges on its properties worldwide.
The Six Senses Phuket Raceweek is set to continue with four days of international standard yacht racing from 20 to 24 July 2011. Now in its eight year, the award-winning event will combine five nights of parties and entertainment at Evason Phuket & Bon Island resort in Rawai. Fresh off being voted the Best Asian Regatta 2011 at the annual Asia Boating Awards in Hong Kong, the regatta will feature a mix of competitive racing and glamorous parties in ultra chic settings at one of Thailand’s leading luxury resorts.
The Evason Phuket & Bon Island is part of the Six Senses Resorts and Spas portfolio of properties. The property boasts an idyllic location overlooking the Andaman Sea with 64 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and accommodation to match. The acclaimed chef Thomas Jakobi will be present at the resorts’ Into the Beach restaurant, one of the many race venues for the upcoming regatta. The fine dining establishment was recently graded 10 out of 10 in a review by Thailand Tattler, and was the only restaurant in Phuket to have earned such high marks.
“Six Senses is delighted to continue our partnership with Phuket Raceweek. We are pleased at the international recognition the event has garnered. This year will be very special with Dee Caffari as our ambassador,” enthused John Philipson, the Managing Director of Six Senses Resort and Spas Thailand.
Among the leading entries confirmed for the event so far are five first-timers, led by David Ross’s brand new Ker 40 pure racing yacht, KukukKERchu, which will debut at Phuket Raceweek. Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world against prevailing winds and currents in 2006, will also be present to add a touch of legend into the event.
The regatta will be run over six or seven classes, including cruising, bareboat and charter yachts. The race promises to be exciting and competitive for the serious boats, while a number of fun courses around the islands are also available for those looking to just enjoy a day out in the sea.
The majority of travellers to Thailand will speak of its superb cuisine and more often than not, it’s the one thing that holidaymakers seem to miss the most after their Thailand holidays.
Food in the Kingdom of Thailand is both healthy and incredibly delicious, the prices are also so low that it is easier and much cheaper to eat out every meal time than it is to buy everything from the local supermarkets and prepare it where you’re staying, something that’s quite the contrary if you were to holiday in Europe or the U.S.
If you’re travelling from a western country, you’ll find that Thailand’s portions are much smaller than what you’ve been used to, however the costs are that low that you can get away with having regular meals throughout the day, either from restaurants or the streets. Western food is also a rarity is Thailand, if you’re looking for something a little more familiar, then you should look for an expat owned restaurants or stall. The majority of Thai restaurants will try and cater for your western food desires, however you’ll find that most attempts will leave you disappointed and much more out of pocket, as it costs as much as five times more than if you were to opt for something off of the local menu.
When it comes to food, Thailand has its heroes such as the Thai Chilli pepper, which will bombard your taste buds making you cry, sweat, laugh and begging for more all at the same time. Pad Thai can be found almost anywhere and is Thailand’s most classical dish. It consists of flat, stir fried noodles mixed with vegetables and there’s even the option to include egg, peanuts, tofu and meat. Don’t expect the Pad Thai taste to remain consistent when you venture between restaurants, as different places will use different ingredients depending on whatever’s the cheapest that day.
Thailand is abundant with street carts selling a large variety of food, which is cheaper than what you can find in the restaurants. You’ll be spoilt for choice with foods such as your typical tofu and seafood to more daring foods such as deep fried insects. The street food is actually quite safe, regardless of its appearance, as long as you eat only what is cooked right in front of you and choose to buy your food from the more busy areas, as you’ll avoid old ingredients and food which may have been sitting out for hours. The street food is especially ideal for those who are on a budget during short breaks to Thailand, for around 150 baht (equivalent to £3) you could find enough delicious street food to satisfy the hungriest of bellies!
Food in Thailand is delicious, cheap and plentiful, however the local people care and work incredibly hard for their meals, so try and ensure that you can finish every meal, as wasting food, particularly rice, is considered disrespectful.
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Feel-good therapies and natural healing are the lifestyle mantras of the new millennium. Thailand leads the way in this regard, reviving many of its ancient techniques and treatments that have been handed down from one generation of women to the next.
Thai massage and meditation are amongst some of the best in the world, with a full range of services from full beauty treatments, facials, relaxing baths and scrubs, healthy tonics and much more. Plenty of the following Thai Spa traditions have been incorporated into various therapeutic services throughout the world. Their roots can be traced back to the ancient medical knowledge that made their way from India through Buddhist monks.?
Herbal Steam Treatments
Thai Herbal Steam is one of the best known of the traditional therapies, tracing its roots back to ancient times. Different healers have formulated specialized treatments to cure various health conditions, but one common after-effect is the fantastic therapeutic effects on your body. Step into a dreamy, misty room and simply lie back and let the steam vapors do their job. For total indulgence combine your herbal steam with a massage – the heat from the steam relaxes your muscles in preparation for a thorough stretch by the masseur!
The folks at the popular Tamarind Retreat Steam Bath on the island of Koh Samui claim that their steam treatment aids respiration, relieves sinusitis, bronchial asthma and stimulates circulation. Guests can enjoy alternating bouts of warmth in the steam room and cooling dips in their plunge pool. Tamarind leaves are one of the key ingredients in their herbal steam, with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, beach morning glory and many other ingredients completing the set.
Herbal Heat Compress
The origins of the Thai Herbal heat compress are obscure, but they are known to be popular since 200 years ago, and can also be found in neighboring Burma, Cambodia and Laos. The round cotton bundles contains herbal mixtures that vary from region to region, each with their local plants and herbs. These herbal compresses are now packaged and sold commercially in Bangkok, or you can simply create your own with various combinations of herbs.
Called prakopin Thai, the herbal compress has made their way into modern spa treatments all over the world, with varying combinations of ingredients. Generally, there are several standard ingredients that can be found inside these herbal compresses, each with their own medical benefits – lemongrass helps clear up the skin; turmeric helps soothe and cleanse irritated skin; prai ginger is a natural moisturizer; and kaffir lime help to tone the skin. These herbal compresses are excellent to soothe sore and aching muscles.
To enjoy these refreshing spa treatments to the fullest, you need to find an appropriate setting, one of peace, quiet and relaxation. While it is true that many places in southern Thailand are overcrowded, it is still possible to find a secluded hideaway for some rest and relaxation – check out our top tips for peace and quiet in South Thailand!
Thai herbal practitioners have long recognized that the application of heat on the skin enhances the healing effects of herbs. Hence, modern day spas have adapted this concept to create the Thai herbal body wrap. As the body lies in herbal wrap, the combination of heat and herbs takes effect. The heat helps open the pores, allowing for better absorption of the ingredients into the skin, and the herbal wrap works to detoxify, moisturize and soften the skin.
Just like other traditional treatments, various herbs combination are used for differing therapeutic benefits. Some of the more common ingredients are – Thai white mud, to help draw out impurities and heal wounds; mint, as antiseptic and antibacterial; tamarind, which contains vitamin C and calcium; honey, to heal and moisturize the skin; and milk, to soften the skin.
Thai Floral Fragrances
The tradition of using floral garlands is deeply rooted in Thai culture, a delicate art that has been passed down throughout the generations. Part of every Thai girl’s education consisted of patiently stripping petals from bunches of freshly cut flowers and learning how to make an exquisite garland from them. Jasmine is the main flower used in garlands, with champak, red roses and purple orchids added for visual effects as well as layers of subtle aroma. These favored flowers of Thailand are often used in contemporary spa treatments to add layers of relaxation for the guests.
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Lying in the shimmering turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan is a party-goer’s paradise of legendary proportions. With its infamous Full Moon party every month for the last two decades, Koh Phangan has truly established itself as the destination of choice for party-animals, hippies and backpackers alike. Recently however, it has evolved into 5-star boutique resort destination, an astonishing transformation on all accounts.
Having escaped the brutal development of its sister island Koh Samui, Koh Phangan remained until recently the quiet, little-known sister of the two; failing to show up on all but the most backpack savvy trails, and flying entirely under the radar of commercial hotels and package-holiday tourism. But change is a-coming to this jungle paradise isle, as the big hotels and developers turn their beady eyes from the already ravaged Koh Samui and realize that today’s luxury guests want something a little different for their dollars.
The little-known hippy paradise of Koh Phangan may be able to provide exactly that. With its broad, white sandy beaches, set against unspoiled jungle backdrops and glittering ocean, Koh Phangan exudes a special magical privacy to invigorate even the most jaded international jet-setter.
Added to that, its relatively slow development will hopefully mean it has learned its lesson from neighboring Koh Samui’s mistakes. At the moment it certainly seems that way; as the small number of developers and big hotels moving in are not only developing with an eye to natural aesthetics, but with a common commitment to green ethos and protecting the island’s gorgeous flora and fauna.
Attracting the most attention in the five-star resort stakes is the stunning Thong Nai Pan, on the northeast corner of the lush island. Thong Nai Pan has been called ‘the jewel of Koh Phangan’ and for years was the best kept secret in the region, as inaccessible as it was by bumpy pickup over an unpaved jungle track.
Now Thong Nai Pan has been recognized as the truly five-star destination on Koh Phangan and this year new luxury resort, Rasananda, opened its doors for business, right next to the traditional $5-a-night backpacker huts of old Koh Phangan.
That these two polar opposites – backpackers and jet-setters – co-exist so seamlessly on one beach is perhaps testament to the special magic of Thong Nai Pan. And credit must be given where it’s due to Rasananda management; who have managed to create an elegant, beautiful resort that still gives a nod to the rustic Thai charm which entrances visitors to Thailand every year.
At the moment, luxury 300-thread-count towels lie on sun-loungers next to hippies on their way to the next low-key destination of choice for backpackers. At night the jungle reverberates to the sounds of the traditional Thong Nai Pan parties and bongo drums; but quietly, so as not to disturb the guests in their $300 dollar-a-night rooms. Who knows how long that arrangement is set to last? But currently, and unusually it seems to be entirely harmonious.
And in addition to these high-end tourists, the beach has naturally attracted an interesting community of expats. Thong Nai Pan’s off-the-beaten track location has proved a huge draw to these intrepid folk: the result is an eclectic mix of interests and nationalities represented on the beach; from Alaskan kayak-builders to Israeli cheese-makers. And with more residences being built privately and by small local developers, the community is set to increase in both size and diversity.
So the wild hippy paradise of yesteryear is changing. But uncommonly for Thailand it is being altered with sensitivity, taste and discretion. The result is very different from days-gone-by – more refined definitely, but no less beautiful.
Now when the full moon shines on Koh Phangan it finds not just the drunken revelers of yore, but beautiful residences, resorts and restaurants; complementing the exquisite natural surroundings, and created in harmony with the environment. And as it comes of age the jewel in its crown, Thong Nai Pan, sets a leading example not just for Koh Phangan but for development in Thailand as a whole.
About the Author. Natalie Revie. Natalie Revie is a freelance writer, restaurateur and jungle momma. She lives on Koh Phangan Island in southern Thailand where she indulges her joint passions for food, culture, travel, and writing, daily. She believes in letting spirituality emerge through the common, the everyday: this is what makes for truly beautiful writing.
The south of Thailand is home to hundreds of miles of shoreline, some of the most pristine in the world. Many say that many of the most popular Thai locations, such as Phuket – Thailand’s largest island – are just overrun and no longer have their original appeal and charm. But still, that hasn’t stopped the masses of tourists from descending on these beach-side towns year upon year.
Interest in the region skyrocketed after the area was featured in Hollywood films. First was Ko Tapu, now known as James Bond Island, which was featured in the 1974 Bond Film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. Then Leonardo DiCaprio’s deadly adventures on The Beach – filmed near the Phi Phi Islands in 2000 –reaffirmed the world’s fascination with the ultimate Thai beach holiday.
While it is true that many places in southern Thailand are overcrowded and well spoilt, it is still possible to find that secluded hideaway and enjoy some rest & relaxation. Here are a few suggestions to avoid the crowds and enjoy yourself.
Ko Rok is a pair of twin islands that are frequented by visitors for the amazing coral reefs, in a perfect setting for snorkeling and diving. There are miles of near-blinding white beaches that are relatively quiet. A great choice here is camping; you can find most supplies you need on the island and you’ll take pleasure in peaceful, quiet nights adorned by both stunning sunsets and sunrises.
Ko Tarutao is a part of the Tarutao National Marine Park. Originally developed to build a prison, Ko Tarutao made its claim to on American TV as the backdrop for an episode of ‘Survivor’. Most tourists opt for the hustle and bustle of nearby Ko Lipe, but the national park operates bungalows and camp grounds for those who want peace and quiet.
Ko Kut (also known as Ko Kood)
Ko Kut is on the southeastern tip Thailand and is the closest island to neighboring Cambodia. Many of the tourists visiting here are Indochinese, especially those seeking out weekend getaways. The island is relatively underdeveloped and much overgrown lush forest remains, making it a great destination for the hard core nature lover. Many of the resorts on the island cater only to packaged tour guests so be sure to make your travel arrangements in advance.
When To Go
The high season in all of Thailand is October through February, when prices go up and the shores get more crowded. This is all for good reason, though, as this maximizes the weather. Recently the rainy season has started late and ended late, so a good tip is to head over in late February or early March as things quiet down but the rains haven’t come flooding in yet. Regardless of your timing, be sure to be prepared for ill weather and try to book key reservations in advance, as if something is sold out you might find yourself quite disappointed.
Photo credit on main page – Rene Ehrhardt
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Dearest Miss Lohan. A fellow travel blog zine has recently implied your need of assistance. Apparently, you are heartbroken, broke and out of work. Adding to that, a somewhat complicated relationship problem seems to be on the horizon. As such, I would like to offer you our own suggestion of vacations that would help you heal your soul. After all, Asia has always been a land of mystical and spiritual healing. And down here, your dollar goes a long long way!
Spiritual Healing in South India
The spirituality of South India is one of colour, symbols, statues, incense, flowers and singing. Stay in inexpensive government-run hostels and do darshan (greet the Gods) in some of the holiest Hindu temples and pilgrimage sites in the region. Even outside the temples, India is a country that reeks with spirituality, from the fragrant garlands hanging in market stalls to the red paste adorning the forehead of men and the smell of burning incense left in offerings to the Gods.
The holy island of Rameswaram is known as one of India’s most venerated and most visited shrines, dedicated to Sri Ramanathaswamy (or Sri Rama for short). Spend some time here to take in the epic story of Ramayana, and learn for yourself the workings of karma. Find your artha (purpose), limit your kama (pleasure or desire) and gain moksha (liberation) by completing your due dharma (duty).
Ayurveda Treatment in Sri Lanka
Head towards Sri Lanka for a seaside retreat involving ayurveda, the 5,000 years old Indian healing system whose name translates as “the Science of Life”. You’ll be offered an array of holistic therapies such as herbal oil massages, steam baths and acupuncture, with yoga and meditation. We recommend a thorough purging of the system by incorporating them all into your medication. You need all the help you can get!
Try to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful ocean view as you practice the traditional Hatha Yoga from the resort’s roof top. At 56 km south of Colombo, Beruwela marks the beginning of 130 km stretch of mesmerizing beach for your admiration. Spend a quiet moment of two as you stroll along the beach, a luxury you’ll rarely find in Florida’s packed beaches.
Diving in North Sulawesi, Indonesia
With more than 150 dive sites and around 1000 reef fish species, North Sulawesi is a hotspot for avid scuba-divers. The beauty of the marine bio diversity here is unparalleled, one of the best diving spot in the whole world, but that’s not the only reason we recommend this site for you. There are still not much development in North Sulawesi, and it’s very easy to find a quiet island retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the world.
As you forget the stress and pressures of unemployment and impending bankruptcy, mesmerize yourself with one of the most pristine natural areas in the world. Swim with dolphin, sharks, giant turtles and even rare manatees as the local diving team guide you over vivid, unspoiled coral gardens.
Temple Stay in Seoul, South Korea
Seoul, South Korea, offers a variety of temple stay at one of its many Buddhist monasteries. One such place is the Woljeongsa Temple, a 7th century temple located in Pyeongchang County, a few hours east of Seoul. Wake up at 4 in the morning to the sound of moktak – a long, wooden, percussion instrument Buddhist monks use to start their day. Lateness is not acceptable, and will be punished by 3,000 times of bowing for punishment, and a day of fasting for everybody else!
The rigorous pre-dawn ceremony is designed to clear the minds – chanting prayers, standing and then bowing gracefully, repeating it for 108 sequences, symbolizing the 108 worldly desires you need to renounce. Attend Buddhist sermons by the monks, preaching the teachings of Buddha and how you can incorporate them into your life, and spend the remainder of the day helping out with chores, admiring the scenery and meditating in calm contemplation.
Silent Retreat in Thailand
The idea of a silent retreat is simple. You go somewhere quiet and don’t talk. Not only that, most artificial sounds and distractions – reading, writing, music, caffeine, alcohol and music – are not allowed. The Suan Mokkh Temple in Thailand offers 10 days of silence in which you simply sit there and do nothing but meditate. A senior monk leading the retreat chimes in time to time with teachings to contemplate.
The concept behind this is that our mind is constantly bombarded with distractions and information. It is over-saturated, always thinking about the next thing to do, always contemplating about the past which has happened. The silent retreat is designed to have us confront these distractions, to know these shallow pleasures and let go of them. Only then will you be able to connect with your true self.
The attrition rate for silent retreat are high up at around 25% in the first few days, and usually ending with less that 50% the original attendees. With the constant distractions that’s been bombarding your everyday life, we felt this would be good for you, so try to last till the end will you?