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Archive for asia

Let in Snow in Sapporo

By Linda Tancs

In 1857, the population of Sapporo was just seven people. Today, it is Japan’s fifth largest city and the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands. You’ve come a long way, baby. In addition to hosting a winter Olympics, the locale is known for its ramen, beer and the annual snow festival held this month. One of the country’s most popular events, the festival features snow and ice sculptures (some measuring more than 82 feet wide and 50 feet high), particularly along Odori Park. Sapporo TV Tower offers great views, especially at night, when the sculptures are illuminated. This year’s celebration begins today and runs through February 11.

Parisian Flair in Macao

By Linda Tancs

Dubbed “Las Vegas of Asia,” you’ll find the same international flair in Macao, China, as you would on The Strip. That includes the Parisian Macao, a hotel complex featuring a half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. Watch it be illuminated every 15 minutes during the Grand Illumination Show, a blaze of color from base to tip. And you can’t beat the skyline views from the deck on level 37.

Bali’s Lion King

By Linda Tancs

Singaraja is a port town in northern Bali and the former Dutch colonial capital. Its name means “lion king,” an apt description for an area historically comprising the kingdom of Buleleng. One of its prized attractions is Gedong Kirtya, a library founded by the Dutch in 1928. Located just south of the town center, it is reputedly the only library of lontar manuscripts (ancient and sacred texts on palm leaves) in the world. Its treasure trove includes collections and copies of handwritten texts on Balinese literature, myths, medicines, magic and religion.

World’s Longest Sea Bridge

By Linda Tancs

Dubbed the world’s longest sea bridge, China’s Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge connects the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong and Macau. When it opened last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed it as a showpiece of innovation and integration, spanning 34 miles across the Pearl River estuary. Now you can shave some time off the journey from the mainland to enjoy the Christmas celebrations in Hong Kong and Macau.

The Old and New in Southeast Asia

By Linda Tancs

One of the newest countries of the 21st century, the island nation of Timor-Leste (East Timor) owes its diversity to influences of old. Namely, a combination of traditional Timorese, Portuguese, Chinese and Indonesian influences permeates its architecture, cuisine, fashion and art. Perhaps the best-kept secret of Southeast Asia, the current dry season is an opportune time for diving (especially at Jaco Island), trekking, whale watching and fishing. Located at the southern extreme of the Malay Archipelago, access by air is easy with international flights from Bali, Australia and Singapore.

The White Temple

By Linda Tancs

Typically adorned in brilliant colors, there’s one temple in Thailand that breaks the mold—the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) just outside Chiang Rai. The brainchild of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, its ghostly, otherworldly appearance is intended to convey Buddha’s purity. Funded entirely by the artist, the structure depicts Buddhist ideals of life and death. For temple “purists,” there is an ornate, gold building next to the temple; it houses a public restroom popularly referred to as the most beautiful in Thailand.

A Thousand Rice Paddies

By Linda Tancs

Shiroyone Senmaida (meaning “a thousand rice paddies in Shiroyone”) is a rice terrace outside Wajima, Japan, comprising 1,004 small rice paddies on steep slopes beside the Sea of Japan. Nationally designated a “Special Place of Scenic Beauty,” each field is farmed by hand. The view is stunning at any time of year, but from mid-October to mid-March (when farming ceases), the fields are illuminated at night with thousands of LED lights that change color every 30 minutes. To get there, take the local bus toward Ushitsu to Shiroyone Senmaida station.

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