5 reasons to add Ludlow to your UK itinerary
Every second couple featured on UK show Escape to the Country wants to move to this idyllic market town (or so it seems), and we can see why... Something happens to you as you walk the picturesque streets of Ludlow, known off-record as one of England’s prettiest towns.   One minute, you’re an urbanite trying desperately to find a flat white that doesn’t convince your soul to just keel over and die, and the next, you’ve soaked in enough of the South Shropshire countryside to find yourself wandering around in a middle-aged, pearl-and-twin-set haze saying things like, “It has real chocolate-box charm, doesn’t it?” and “Ooh, look at those lovely exposed beams!”; it all feels like a still from Escape to the Country (you know you know it). This is the power of Ludlow.   For the uninitiated, the medieval town is located bang on top of a cliff overlooking the River Teme and surrounded by the Welsh Marches, as well as that aforementioned gorgeous green countryside. It’s famous for its food and wine, including the annual Ludlow Spring Festival that promises revellers over 200 varieties of real ales plus cider, perry (similar to pear cider) and wine, more than 60 local food producers, live music and hopefully, a decent flat white or two.   And here are five more reasons to stick Ludlow on your itinerary… The Ludlow Food Festival We could talk about the lengths members of Ludlow and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce went to in order to boost the image of Ludlow and surrounding areas or how the popular festival, established in 1995, helps promote the area’s terrific artisan food and wine producers against the backdrop of the town’s historic castle, but instead we’ll just say: sausage trail, cake competition, ale trail, pork pie competition. [caption id="attachment_45559" align="alignleft" width="600"] The festival features a huge range of top quality food and drink producers[/caption] There’s a reason the town’s population doubles from its usual 10,000 at this time of year – why not make it 20,001? Ludlow Castle  In England, it’s hard to visit a simple corner store without tripping over a castle, but gosh this one is pretty. [caption id="attachment_45557" align="alignleft" width="600"] The construction of the Ludlow Castle started around 1085[/caption] Construction on this privately owned castle began in the late 11th century and over the centuries it hosted everyone from Prince Arthur, brother of Henry VIII, who honeymooned here before his untimely death, to Henry’s daughter Mary Tudor, who spent three icily cold winters here. Although it fell into decay, many of its buildings still stand and historians note that it’s a castle where its history is very much reflected in its varied architecture (everything from medieval to Tudor). Top tip? Rug up because it is seriously cold at the top (also a good rule of thumb for life, kids) and warm up afterwards by sipping a hot tea at the Castle Tea Room beneath. Ludlow Food Centre It’s difficult to put this delicately, so here goes: come all the way to Ludlow so you can experience the world’s greatest truck stop.   It’s not just any kind of truck stop, of course, but a gourmet wonderland located on the Earl of Plymouth’s 3000-hectare Oakly Park Estate just off the main road on the outskirts of town, which features a play and picnic area, the Clive Arms restaurant and boutique hotel (highly recommended), and on-site cafe Ludlow Kitchen (also highly recommended). [caption id="attachment_45561" align="alignleft" width="600"] Ludlow is famous for its selection of fresh produce[/caption] There are countless reasons to stop by the food centre, but the number one reason is surely Ludlow Pantry, a delicatessen that will leave you gasping at the wonders of culinary life. Just think of a smart food hall filled with the smell of freshly baked Cornish pasties, serving up hundreds of varieties of cheese, meats, baked goods, fresh produce and conserves.   More than 30 per cent of the food sold here is handmade on site, with a further 30 per cent sourced from Shropshire and its surrounding counties. Load up your suitcase; it’s worth making an appearance on Border Security for. The locals I’ll admit it, I’m a big fan of the English.   Not only is my husband originally from England, so are many of my exes and some of my best mates. But I have to say the locals are some of the best people I’ve ever encountered. To illustrate the point, here’s a short tale: I fell in love with what could be the world’s craziest hat at Ludlow’s open-air market, yet walked away without buying it. [caption id="attachment_45556" align="alignleft" width="600"] Famous architecture[/caption] When I went the following day to purchase said hat just before I was due to leave town, the vendor was not there. The story could have ended there, but it didn’t. [caption id="attachment_45555" align="alignleft" width="600"] Ludlow, in South Shropshire, is one of the most attractive towns in England[/caption] Another vendor who heard my woolly plight alerted Tony, the market manager who then called vendor after vendor at home until he found the maker, Heather, who then drove 40 minutes from her home to meet me with a bagful of hats slung over her shoulder. She then drove 40 minutes home, happy that I’d reconciled with the World’s Craziest Hat. That’s Ludlow. Ludlow Walking Tours On paper, Dorothy Nicolle is a qualified Blue Badge guide for the Heart of England region, and a local author, but to me, she’ll forever be known as a national treasure, ready to put herself on the line when it comes to promoting the exquisite towns of Shropshire. [caption id="attachment_45553" align="alignleft" width="600"] Ludlow was famously described by John Betjeman as “the loveliest town in England“[/caption] Rather than wandering aimlessly around town, engage the services of Dorothy and she can run you through one of her extensive, and incredibly thorough tours that include everything from ‘Shropshire’s oddities’ (of which, she informs me, there are many), to ‘People immortalised on pub signs’. [caption id="attachment_45560" align="alignleft" width="600"] Explore the picturesque city on foot[/caption] I went on the standard Ludlow tour that takes in the streets lined with quaint boutiques, cheesemongers and traditional pubs, and the scenic countryside around nearby town Ironbridge. Contact Dorothy at nicolle.me.uk
Chinoike Jigoku
Japan’s gorgeous hidden gem Ōita
Let the sights of Tokyo be your starting off point on a journey to discover the hidden gem of Ōita.   Getting from A to B in Japan is ridiculously easy – there are trains and planes dashing this way and that constantly, linking compelling cities, regions and islands that each possess traditions and culture that beg to be experienced. Ōita is one such place, an undiscovered gem nestled on the island of Kyushu. To get the best of both worlds, stay a few days in the Japanese capital of Tokyo, searching out interesting neighbourhoods and unique experiences, before jumping on a plane for the approximately 90-minute flight into Ōita Airport (ANA and JAL both have regular flights). Here, the perfect itinerary for four days of discovery.   Day 1 Start your exploration of Tokyo by strolling the pavements of Kappabashi Dougu Street (located between Asakusa and Ueno, both accessible by train), also known as Kitchen Street. As the name implies this roughly 800-metre long thoroughfare is lined with around 170 stores selling all manner of kitchen utensils, gadgets and gizmos, as well as shops offering up sweets, treats and essential ingredients. After wandering past everything from woks to coffee pots to chopsticks, pick up a souvenir from one of the jam-packed ceramics shops that are stacked with bowls and cups finished in lovely traditional colours including blue and white, greens and browns. If you walk to Chomeiji Temple you can taste sweet and sticky sakura mochi – pretty pink concoctions wrapped in salted cherry tree leaves and filled with bean paste (30 minutes from Kappabashi Dougu street). Tokyo- (Kanto) style mochi is smooth and round while the Kyoto (Kansai) variety has a grainier texture; both are delicious. After a morning of walking it is time for a lunch of fresh sushi. To really appreciate the effort and craft that goes into making this national favourite, head to Hassan in Roppongi (just a few minutes’ walk from the station) for a hands-on sushi-making experience: don a traditional happi coat (a traditional short robe), learn the history of sushi, get a live demonstration of how fish is prepared before making your own rolled sushi and nigiri sushi, which you can then enjoy with a beef hot pot (you’ll also take home a sushi experience certificate). Finish off the day at Ameyoko, a bustling shopping street once famous for selling candy but that now also has clothes, shoes and food shops for trying popular snacks among the locals. The narrow alley has an impressive history but is also a reflection of modern Tokyo life, where throngs of locals come to eat great food and have fun.   [caption id="attachment_45511" align="alignnone" width="600"] The bustling shopping street of Ameyoko[/caption] Day 2 First thing this morning you will need to head to Haneda Airport (it’s an easy train ride straight into the airport) for your short flight south to Ōita, on the island of Kyushu. Jump in a Limousine Bus for the roughly 30-minute journey to Kitsuki from Ōita Airport, a town possessing the authentic feel of the Edo Period (it is recognised as a ‘historic cityscape with kimono’). Dominated by Kitsuki Castle, there’s a collection of historic samurai residences dotted on the hills to the north and south of it and a merchant’s town sitting in between. You can dress up in a kimono while you’re here (they can be hired for around 3000 yen), which gains you free admission to local sights, discounted meals and little gifts at local shops. Having soaked up the history of Kitsuki, it’s time to continue your journey to Usa Jingū, the sacred main sanctum of more than 40,000 Hachiman shrines that are dotted throughout Japan. The main hall here has been designated a National Treasure and its colour and history make for a fascinating visit. The Usa area of Kunisaki peninsula, including Usa Jingū, is the birthplace of ‘Rokugo Manzan’, the cultural fusion of Shinto and Buddhism. You’ll find spectacular temples in the area and this year marks the 1300th anniversary of the founding of Usa Jingū. Check into an onsen hotel in Beppu, where you’ll find seven out of 10 types of Medical Treatment Hot Springs and a modern take on a traditional Japanese aesthetic. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a bath in the onsen to soothe your mind and body after a busy day exploring. Day 3 Today, head to the Usuki Stone Buddhas (approx. 80 minutes by JR and bus), a group of stone Buddhas created from the late Heian (794-1185) period to the Kamakura period (1185-1333), of which 61 are designated National Treasures. Wander the different collections of Buddhas – they are divided into four groups – appreciating the scale, quantity and incredible quality of the statues, as well as the peaceful beauty of the surroundings.   We recommend an izakaya (pub) for a dinner of fresh seafood, and an extensive selection of sake to choose from. Back at your hotel in Beppu, make the time for another bath in the onsen. Day 4 The seismic activity that has been warming your onsen water for the last few nights also produces a totally unique tour that you should take before leaving Ōita: Beppu jigoku meguri or the hell tour. There are seven hells in all where fumaroles and boiling hot water erupt from the ground; the evocative Umi Jigoku (sea hell), Chinoike Jigoku (blood pond hell), Tatsumaki-Jigoku (tornado hell) and Shiraike Jigoku (white pond hell) are among them, all of which have been designated as National Scenic Spots for their fantastical colours and formations. Next it is time to take buses back to Ōita Airport for the flight back to Tokyo. Do some last-minute shopping here for specialty souvenirs and food from across Ōita and Kyushu to remember your experiences of this quintessential Japanese gem.     For more details, visit kyushuandtokyo.org
Sushi Japan
Japan: a feast for all senses
The sheer depth and intricacy of Japanese cuisine, from regional classics like Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki comfort food to Michelin-starred chefs’ takes on tempura, can make navigating the dining landscape here as bewildering as perusing the menu at a Tokyo sushi bar.  Japan: a feast for all the senses.   Here, your handy guide to the best of Japan’s unique food and drink.   ***Advertising content by  Japan National Tourism Organization***   Eating your way around Japan is the ultimate feast for all the senses. Whether you’re plucking a perfectly sliced, translucent pink piece of sashimi off a delicate ceramic dish, marvelling at dizzying rows of delicately colourful sweet treats, or merrily clinking cold beers over a steaming bowl of ramen in a lively izakaya, one thing quickly becomes apparent: when it comes to food, like all things, the Japanese do not do things by halves. From an emphasis on fresh local produce, to samurai-worthy knife skills, to creating a painstakingly perfect ambience, no stone is left unturned in the quest to create magical food memories for the lucky diner. Why not make it you? CULT FAVOURITES Japanese cuisine has spread to foodies all over the globe, but arguably, there’s no better place to seek out your cult favourites than in their homeland: and Tokyo’s the perfect place to start. At Sushi-Bar Numazuko Ginza 1st, in the upmarket Ginza shopping area, you’ll find a winning trifecta of Japanese icons: sushi, conveyor belts, and sake. Showcasing fresh seasonal seafood (try the sea urchin, piled up in the shape of another icon: Mt Fuji), this fun and reasonably priced little gem is a great mid-shop stop. For an unforgettable dinner, tempura fans should make a beeline for Michelin-starred Tempura Motoyoshi, where fresh vegetables, seafood and other ingredients are treated to the wizardry of master chef Kazuhiro Motoyoshi in an elegant, intimate setting. Forget pale (or soggy) imitations – this is the real deal: impossibly light and crispy, the tempura perfectly showcases the stunning natural flavours of the produce.   DRINK IT ALL IN Japan’s two most famed beverages offer visitors a chance to imbibe a sense of the culture behind them, as well as the drinks themselves. At Sudo Honke, a family brewery in Obara, Ibaraki (north-east of Tokyo), the region’s pristine waters have been used for over 800 years to create exceptional sake. Take a tour of the brewery, surrounded by ancient trees, soaking up age-old traditions as you sample some of the finest sake in Japan. Back in Tokyo, the sophistication of the Ginza shopping district carries through to Higashiya Ginza’s charming blend of ancient tradition and modern sensibility. This beautifully designed confectionary shop and tea salon offers over 30 varieties of green tea and a selection of wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets), all aimed at celebrating seasonal influences. FUN FEASTS Yes, there are plenty of serene settings in which to appreciate the subtle beauty of Japanese cuisine. But families (and general fun-loving foodies) might also be surprised by the number of lively dining experiences dished up all around the country. In Hiroshima, head for Okonomiyaki Nagataya, where national comfort food okonomiyaki (a savoury, thick pancake packed with vegetables, seafood or meat, topped with inimitable Japanese mayonnaise and tangy sauce) is made in the unique local style. Choose your favourite fillings, and your personal creation will be cooked to order on the tabletop frying surface. In Kyoto, Fire Ramen Menbakaichidai delivers on its name, dishing up moreish soy-flavoured, spring onion-laden ramen noodles on an impressive pillar of fire, thanks to the chef’s technique of pouring burning oil over the dish to draw out extra flavour. It’s the perfect pit stop after a day exploring Kyoto’s nearby Nijo Castle. And back in Tokyo, search for the retro-style izakaya (Japanese-style pub) Manpuku Shokudo, nestled under train tracks and clad in old film posters – a bustling setting for eating, drinking and being merry amongst locals letting off steam after work.   FRENCH FINE DINING GOES EAST French and Japanese cuisine may (literally) be worlds apart, but they share a reverence for subtle sophistication, and the elevation of excellent produce by highly skilled master chefs. Joel Robuchon Restaurant, located in a ‘chateau’ in Ebisu, Tokyo, boasts no fewer than three Michelin stars; its ethos of ‘cuisine actuelle’ focuses on letting the ingredients shine through, with sublime service, plush decor and all the requisite top-notch trappings. Further north, French fine dining restaurant Michel Bras Toya Japon will take your breath away with its gorgeously plated odes to Mother Nature, all served up in a stunning elevated setting overlooking the mountainous blue expanse of Hokkaido’s Lake Toya – a truly unforgettable experience.   To explore more of Japan’s delicious bounty, visit ‘Enjoy my Japan’, where you’ll find videos and stories showcasing Japan’s deep traditions, its kaleidoscope of cuisines, the excitement and energy of its cities, a surprising depth of nature and breadth of outdoor adventures, a heritage of fine art, and beautiful destinations for simple relaxation. www.enjoymyjapan.jp
Eat up!
Hawai’i Foodie Guide: 7 Hawaiian dishes to try (and where to try them)
From poki to shaved ice. This is the essential list of Hawaiian dishes you need to try! Fried shrimp Ultra-fresh shrimp (prawns to us Aussies) show up on menus across the Hawaiian Islands, but arguably the favourite crustacean-based dish is fried shrimp. The true quality of a plate of fried shrimp comes from the amount of buttery garlic sauce that comes with it; the more the better.   Try it at: Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp Truck on the North Shore of O‘ahu. Malasadas Introduced by the Portuguese when they came to Hawai‘i in the 19th century, this doughnut without a hole is golden brown on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and coated with sugar.   Try it at: Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu, O‘ahu, which has been making these sweet doughy balls since 1953 leonardshawaii.com Lomi Lomi This salad is a traditional side dish, made from cured salted salmon chunks, fresh tomato and sweet Maui onions that are combined, or massaged (lomi lomi means massage in Hawaiian), to meld the flavours. [caption id="attachment_45874" align="alignnone" width="600"] A incredibly mouthwatering, fresh dish you HAVE to try[/caption] Try it at: Umekes in Kona, Island of Hawai‘i. umekesrestaurants.com Plate lunch Mix and match it however you like; the Hawaiian plate lunch is two scoops of white rice, macaroni salad and entrée – usually kalua pig, chicken lau lau (wrapped in taro leaves) or lomi lomi salmon. Can’t choose? Get a mixed plate and sample everything! [caption id="attachment_45876" align="alignnone" width="600"] A little something for everyone...[/caption] Try it at: Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina on Maui, which serves up incredible ocean views with its traditional plate lunches alohamixedplate.com Lau Lau This dish is considered to be soul food in Hawai‘i, so beloved it is. Meaning ‘leaf, leaf’ in Hawaiian, the name refers to the traditional process of wrapping meat (usually pork or salted fish) in taro leaves (luau) and then steaming it (wrapped in a ti leaf, which can withstand high cooking temperatures). It is now used to refer to the dish itself, which is usually served with a side of rice. [caption id="attachment_45877" align="alignnone" width="1024"] You'll never be hungry![/caption] Try it at: Highway Inn, O‘ahu, has been serving up Hawaiian food since 1947  myhighwayinn.com Kalua pig The main attraction at any luau and a component of the plate lunch, kalua pig is cooked in an imu (underground oven) for several hours resulting in smoky, succulent meat.   Try it at: Poi By The Pound on Maui poibythepound.com Shave Ice This frozen confection differs from a snow cone, which is made of crushed ice; shave ice soaks up the syrup better creating a fluffier texture. It was brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Japanese sugar plantation workers in the mid 19th century, and it is a huge hit all over the state.   Try it at: Wailua Shave Ice on Kaua‘i wailuashaveice.com    
Hawaii Farmer's Markets
Hawai’i Foodie Guide: Hawai’i the capital of food cool
Think Hawai'i is all about surfing and beaches?  Think again, Hawai'i is the capital of food cool with cocktails plenty and quality local produce. In high spirits With a tropical climate that lends itself to a sundowner or two, these distilleries are brewing up something great.   It was the Polynesians who initially brought sugar cane to Hawai‘i, and the first sugar mill was established in Lāna‘i in the early 1800s; commercial cane fields were established at the town of Koloa on Kaua‘i in 1835. Since then the crop has been used to make everyone’s favourite island tipple, rum.   Even if you’re not a rum-lover, a visit to the Koloa Rum Tasting Room and Company Store at the historic Kilohana Plantation in Lihue will set you on the path to appreciation. Koloa’s rums are premium, single-batch, made using the kind of sustainable practices that are fast becoming the standard for businesses across all of the Islands of Hawai‘i. [caption id="attachment_45869" align="alignnone" width="320"] You won't want to miss a tasting session at the popular Koloa Rum Tasting Room[/caption] Meanwhile, on the island of O‘ahu, Manulele Distillers at Kunia has a farm-to-bottle philosophy when it comes to producing its celebrated Kō Hana Agricole Rum.   The heirloom varieties of sugar cane (kō in Hawaiian) used to produce its small batch, single variety white, barrel-aged and cask strength rums are all hand-harvested before being pressed for juice and distilled with care. The resulting spirits, considered to be some of the best pure cane rums in the world (many mass-produced rums are made with molasses, a by-product of sugar production), are presented in sleek cube bottles with glass stoppers and hand-numbered on site.   Hawai‘i’s abundant sugar cane is not just utilised to produce rum; on the island of Maui, sustainable, select harvested organic sugar cane is combined with deep ocean mineral water, sourced some 900 metres below the Kona Coast off the Island of Hawai‘i, to produce a uniquely Hawaiian vodka, Ocean Vodka. The water used is purified and desalinated through a natural filtration method that ensures it retains its rich mineral content, while no GMOs or pesticides are used. The bottles resemble antique glass fishing floats.   From paddock to plate With a growing focus on utilising sustainable farming practices, as well as its abundant natural resources, Hawai‘i has earnt a reputation as a destination creating quality food and drinks from its deliciously fresh produce.   This kind of attention to detail and respect for the environment is encapsulated in places like O’o Farm, located at 1066 metres on the slopes of Haleakala in the upcountry farming community of Kula on Maui. The passion project of surfing buddies Louis Coulombe and Stephan Bel-Robert, who purchased the land here in 2000 with a citrus and stone fruit orchard and a few coffee trees attached, O’o Farms is now a thriving ‘no-till’ farm growing Hawaiian coffee, fruit trees, garden vegetables and greenhouse tomatoes, flowers and herbs. [caption id="attachment_45872" align="alignnone" width="600"] Hawai'i is earning a growing reputation for its quality produce[/caption] Given the cornerstone of Hawai‘i’s unique cuisine is island-fresh local produce and ingredients, it should come as no surprise that there is also no shortage of farmers’ markets to visit. Some of the best on offer include Hilo Farmers Market on the Island of Hawai‘i (Wednesday and Saturdays, 6am – 4pm); KCC Farmers Market across from Diamond Head in Waikiki (Saturdays 7.30am – 11am) or Hale‘iwa Farmers Market on the North Shore (Thursdays, 2pm – 6pm); Kaua‘i Culinary Market at Poipu on Kaua‘i (Wednesday, 3.30pm – 6pm); and Maui’s Upcountry Farmers Market in Pukalani (Saturdays, 7am – 11am).   The best way to see (and taste) the traditions and practices of farming on Hawai‘i first-hand is on one of the many farm tours available across the Hawaiian Islands at places like the Surfing Goat Dairy in lower Kula on Maui, which supplies its award-winning cheeses to restaurants across the island, and Big Island Bees on the Island of Hawai‘i, where you can take a beekeeping tour and join in on opening a bee hive. And for the sweet toothed, Garden Island Chocolate on Kaua‘i produces organic dark chocolate (85 per cent cacao) which you can sample on its guided chocolate tour.   Another way to experience Hawai‘i’s paddock to plate ethos is on a rambling culinary home tour, which gives an irresistible taste of the island lifestyle. Home Tours Hawai‘i on the Island of Hawai‘i offers its guests the chance to enjoy a progressive 3-course ‘farm to fork’ brunch using fresh ingredients and prepared in private homes. What is poke? [caption id="attachment_45871" align="alignnone" width="600"] The famous poke bowl - A crowd favourite and a must-try when you're in Hawai'i[/caption] One of the most delicious culinary exports from Hawai‘i food exports is poke (‘to slice’ in Hawaiian), which originated when local fishermen seasoned off-cuts and ate them as a snack. Traditionally served as an appetiser or main dish (the cubed fish is seasoned with salt, soy and sesame oil and mixed with Maui onion, ground candlenut and algae), it has evolved into a popular salad served with accompaniments ranging from avocado to coleslaw to rice. Caffeine culture Hawai‘i has a reputation for growing great coffee beans. Coffee arrived in Hawai‘i in 1817 and after a few years of patchy success at growing, plants were successfully introduced onto the Island of Hawai‘i in 1828, with the first commercial operation starting up in Koloa on Kaua‘i in 1836.   As sugar cane became less profitable many farmers started growing coffee beans instead; now more of Hawai‘is farmers grow coffee than any other crop across Kaua‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i and Island of Hawai‘i. So it’s not surprising that there are some serious brews to be had; here a few coffee spots to hit up for a heart starter on your next visit. The essential go-to's Little Fish Coffee Poipu and Hanapepe, Kaua‘i Order hand-brewed coffee using organic Hawaiian beans and feast on dishes constructed of locally grown produce. littlefishcoffee.com   Akamai Coffee Co. Maui Housed in a light, airy space in Kihei, the coffee here follows a seed-to-cup process, serving up 100 per cent locally roasted Maui beans. akamaicoffee.com Island Vintage Coffee - Waikiki and the North Shore, O‘ahu With three cafes on O‘ahu, this consistently good coffee, made with Kona beans, is a must. islandvintagecoffee.com   Kaya’s at Kona Island of Hawai‘i The best organic Kona beans are used in its brews, including the coffee ice cubes in the iced version. kona123.com/kayas.html
Chilled out in Hawai'i
Hawai’i Foodie Guide: Flavours of the Hawaiian Islands
Explore the unique cuisine that reflects a rich cultural history and idyllic tropical lifestyle.  Experience the flavours of the Hawaiian Islands with our Hawai'i Foodie Guide... Using only the stars to navigate, Polynesians arrived on the Hawaiian Islands in their outriggers some 1500 years ago. And while the islands were lush and mountainous with cool, fresh water, these voyagers found little more than fish, seaweed, berries, for food. As they settled the islands, they planted sugar cane, fruits and vegetables such as coconuts, sweet potato and banana, and raised pigs and chickens. With these staple ingredients, early Hawaiian cooking comprised of dishes such as poi (a thick paste made from taro root); poke (raw fish seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt and seaweed); haupia (sweet coconut milk and Polynesian arrowroot); and lau lau (pork wrapped in taro leaves) cooked in an imu (underground oven).   When Westerners arrived in the 18th century, they brought with them other foods such as pineapple, coffee and cattle; and when sugar cultivation hit its peak the following century, workers flooded in from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Portugal, introducing their flavours to the region. So, the Hawai‘i’s cuisine that we know today was born from a medley of cultural influences. Unique dishes such as Saimin (a Chinese noodle soup), Spam Musubi (essentially Spam sushi, with sticky rice and seaweed), and Malasadas (Portuguese doughnut) became local favourites.   In 1991, 12 chefs established ‘Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine’, a culinary movement where they partnered with local farmers to showcase and utilise the best of Hawai‘i’s produce and created a contemporary cuisine that blended fresh Hawaiian ingredients with flavours from around the world. Today, this philosophy continues as the Hawai‘i’s food scene thrives, with many restaurants touting menus focused on Hawaiian flavours. [caption id="attachment_45867" align="alignnone" width="600"] Giovanni's paved the way for the thriving food truck scene on O'ahu's North Shore[/caption] Street food is growing in popularity with roadside stalls and food trucks serving local delicacies made fresh to order. The laid-back town of Hale‘iwa on O‘ahu’s North Shore is ground zero for food truck cuisine, where trailblazer Giovanni’s, which started serving fried shrimp out of a converted 1953 bread truck in 1993, has been joined by trucks serving up everything from Hawai‘i’s comfort food to burgers to acai bowls. Cafes are making really good coffee that Australians will enjoy, and there’s a burgeoning brewery and distillery scene. [caption id="attachment_45866" align="alignnone" width="600"] Cruising the food trucks of O'ahu's laid-back North Shore is a culinary treat![/caption] An ever increasing number of Hawai‘i-based chefs are serving up noteworthy food using locally sourced produce in worth-going-out-of-your-way-for restaurants. One such chef is Hilo native Mark Pomaski at Moon and Turtle, where the constantly changing menu (sometimes daily) inventively makes the most of local seasonal produce and ingredients including ocean-to-plate (or sea-to-service) seafood.   Food festivals Kapalua Wine and Food Festival Maui – June Located at the beachfront Kapalua Resort on Maui, partake in cooking classes, wine and food pairings, winemaker dinners, and evening galas hosted by winemakers and prominent chefs from Hawai‘i and across the globe. kapaluawineandfoodfestival.com The Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival The Island of Hawai‘i, Maui and O‘ahu – October More than 150 international masterchefs, culinary experts, winemakers and mixologists converge over three islands for three weeks of events, including wine tastings, pool parties, cooking classes for kids, and food and wine pairings. The event raises money for sustainability, culinary programs and agriculture, so while you’re indulging, you’re also doing good. hawaiifoodandwinefestival.com Kaua‘i Chocolate & Coffee Festival Kaua‘i – October The historic town of Hanapepe comes to life with farm tours, workshops and Q&As with growers and experts, live entertainment and the best part, sampling glorious chocolate and coffee. Kaua‘ichocolateandcoffeefestival.com   Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Island of Hawai‘i – November Celebrating and preserving Kona’s 200-year-old coffee heritage, this festival includes farm experiences and coffee picking, barista training, beer, wine and coffee pairing, latte art competitions, as well as art exhibits, concerts and parades. konacoffeefest.com
Go on an Elephant Safari
Your next favourite holiday destination: Sri Lanka
Tempo Holidays loves travel, that's why they have created your next favourite holiday destination; Sri Lanka.    ***Advertising content by Tempo Holidays***   That’s why these destination specialists have been creating amazing holidays for over 25 years, offering all forms of travel, from cruise to coach to rail, and catering to a range of budgets. They can even tailor-make any holiday you like to your dream destination. Travel is all about being in the moment and, no matter how much you have travelled, there is always something new to discover and explore. Need to know Tempo Holidays’ top tip to make the most of 2019 is talk to their destination experts: “We are here to ensure your journey is just right for you and your requirements. Our biggest tip is that you make the most of your transport options. Take a train through the countryside or get up close to local sights – nothing compares to the feeling of discovering a new city, so be sure to stop and absorb the local cultures around you.” Tempo Holidays’ favourite destination right now is Sri Lanka, which has just been named as Lonely Planet’s #1 country in the world for 2019. Be welcomed by friendly locals, see natural wonders and glorious beaches as Tempo Holidays takes you to places like Yala National Park, one of the largest wildlife reserves in Sri Lanka and the closest safari destination to Australians. Yala is known for its dense population of leopards,  but you also have the chance to see sloth bears, elephants, deer, crocodiles and an incredible array of birdlife. Take a look at Tempo Holidays’ many tours that cater to all types of travellers and highlight everything Sri Lanka has to offer. Call 1300 362 844, email res@tempoholidays.com, visit tempoholidays.com or see your local travel agent.
How to spend 48 hours in Canggu, Bali
Bali’s thriving Canggu neighbourhood is a paradise of beach clubs, temples, rice paddies, yoga and boho chic, as Linda Botting discovers. Day One 7am Start the day early with a sunrise yoga class at Desa Seni Village Resort. The bamboo open-air studio is set against lush, green tropical plants with cheeky wildlife wandering past. Not only can you practise lizard pose, but you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one slowly ambling across the grass. 8.40am After a delicious poolside breakfast, your personal driver will take you to Kuda P Stables, a 20-minute drive to Pererenan black-sand beach. The stables are Australian-owned with 50 years’ horse handling experience. A one-and-a-half- hour ride will take you through rural beachside countryside of lush green rice paddies where farmers busily tend to their crops. 10.45am Time to jump back in the car and take a short drive to Echo Beach. It is known locally as Pantai Batu Mejan and is one of Canggu’s popular surfing beaches. You don’t need to be a surfer to enjoy the 180-degree views as you slowly meander along soft, yet grainy, grey sand. 12pm Having worked up an appetite, there’s no shortage of restaurants to choose from in the vicinity, all set high upon the cliff above Echo Beach with amazing views of the reef breaks below. These restaurants are family and pet friendly and you can often see locals lunching with their dogs. 1.15pm It’s time to learn about silversmithing from an Indonesian expert at the House of Alaia; the three-hour jewellery-making class explains the techniques and secrets of working with the precious metal. All that’s needed is imagination and creativity in order to make a custom-designed piece of jewellery, a totally unique souvenir to take home. 4pm Back at the resort, try a traditional Balinese or hot stone massage as you relax after a busy day of activity. When you’re done, head to the cool of the pool for a leisurely soak before heading out again. 7pm Finns Beach Club is located at the popular Berawa surf break. The 30-metre infinity pool here affords perfect views of the sunset from all angles and is even equipped with underwater speakers; it’s impossible to resist a quick swim while enjoying the resident DJ’s tunes vibrating through the water. Settle in at one of the poolside lounges with a margarita in hand and take in the scene. 8.30pm The sun gone and pre-dinner drinks downed, head into the restaurant for a relaxed dinner. Take a seat in the casual yet stylish open-air bamboo dining area and sample delicious, fresh local dishes; the Finns Beach Club mantra is ‘good food done well’. Day Two 7am Head for a leisurely breakfast at Deus Cafe Canggu, with its unique motorcycle-inspired decor. Choose from a menu of Indonesian, Asian and Italian dishes or opt for something that hints at its Aussie origins.   All diets are catered for, from meat through to vegetarian and vegan. Sit back in one of the overstuffed sofas and sip Deus’s signature coffee, which some call the best in Bali. 8:30am Work off breakfast with a 13-minute walk to Hotel Tugu Bali for a cooking class with East Javanese chef Iboe Soelastri, learning about local spices on a trip to a traditional market, and sampling juicy rambutan or mangosteen along the way.   Once you return to the open-air wooden kitchen – sans modern electrical products, where all cooking is done in traditional terracotta rice steamers and wood-fire earthen pits – you’ll first choose five recipes from a list of traditional Javanese and Balinese dishes, including chicken curry and fried tempe, before rolling up your sleeves and cooking up a storm. 12pm It’s time for the fun part, sitting down with your fellow chefs to sample the mouth-watering dishes created during the class. You’ll leave with a copy of the recipes you chose to cook so that you can replicate them at home. 2 pm After a light lunch back at the resort, head to an afternoon Yin restorative yoga class in the open-air studio at Desa Seni.   The gentle flowing movements won’t stretch the endurance of yoga novices, and the soft sea breeze and calming music will set you up perfectly for heading out for an afternoon of shopping. 3pm Ask your driver to cruise along Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu’s burgeoning shopping strip where stores to rival Seminyak’s chic offerings are steadily growing in number; many refer to Canggu as the new Seminyak.   The Love Anchor bazaar sells traditional and quirky items, and you should definitely stop in at Beyond Borders and Bungalow Living for luxe yet affordable homewares that allow you to take a bit of the island-chic vibe home with you. 6pm Canggu is the gateway to Tanah Lot and a trip to Bali is not complete without a visit to the evocative sea temple.   The Balinese believe the banded sea snake, guardian of the temple, lives in the nearby waters. Be sure to keep a look out as you cross the plain as the tide rolls in. A short walk along the pathway will take you to Pura Batu Bolong for the best sunset views, especially just after a shower of warm tropical rain. 8pm Book a table at La Laguna, where the owners, Gonzalo and Sandra Assiego, were inspired by their love of Spanish heritage to design a bohemian-chic beach club with a global gypsy vibe.   Enter along a cobbled path lined with vintage wooden caravans before taking your seat in the alfresco dining area. Start with a cocktail, perhaps a cool cosmopolitan, and settle in for a delicious selection of Balinese and European dishes.
Everything you need to know about Yala National Park
Prior to its inauguration as a national park in 1938, Sri Lanka’s Yala wilderness was a shooting gallery for the ruling British elite, who sought trophies of its plentiful leopards and elephants. Sitting in the south of the tear-drop-shaped island and abutting the Indian Ocean, today Yala’s wildlife is shot by thousands of photographers a year instead; it’s by far the country’s most popular national park, and for good reason: it’s the best place on the planet to spot leopards, with the highest concentration of the cat in the world.   But there’s so much more to the 1268 square kilometres of protected space, including important archaeological sites and temples, families of Asian elephants, an endless stream of birdlife and simply a vast and varied landscape of forests, scrub and dramatic mesas rising from the jungle. [caption id="attachment_45184" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Yala combines a strict nature reserve with a national park[/caption] So if you’re holidaying on one of the country’s golden beaches – tear yourself away for a couple of days and witness the best of Sri Lanka’s rich and varied natural wonders.   Yala is divided into five blocks plus a Strict Nature Reserve to maintain a pristine area in the face of tourism and other activity. Blocks 1 and 5 are set aside for the public to visit, with Block 1 by far the busiest (see below). Blocks 2, 3 and 4 are more rugged and remote and far less visited requiring permits to enter. Must-see sights Don’t make the mistake of simply going on a safari to spot the park’s big animals, there’s so much more to Yala if you have a few days to explore, from ancient temples to its vast beach lining the Indian Ocean. [caption id="attachment_45185" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Pre-book your safari with a trusted source., this can save you whole lot of time and trouble[/caption] Kumbuk River The park is bordered in the north by the Kumbuk River, and you can stay at KumbukRiver Eco-Extraordinaire lodge situated on its banks to see an entirely different corner of Yala, the lowland forest giving way to dense jungle. There are a range of accommodation options available, some with views of the roaring Kumbuk a stone’s throw away.   Plus try river rafting, guided bird-watching and walks into the wilds of Yala’s buffer zone. Beach time Turn your time in Yala National Park into an unashamed beach holiday. A long stretch of golden sand marks its border with the Indian Ocean and there are ample beach huts, and beachside villas to choose from to use as your base for your expeditions into the park.   The luxury Wild Coast Tented Lodge would be a good choice, its arched fabric structures set among the dunes and designed to channel the shape of a leopard’s paw. Elephant Rock At times in Yala National Park you could be on the set of a King Kong film, dense forest stretching off into the horizon only to be abruptly stopped by an enormous lone-standing mountain.   [caption id="attachment_45187" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Driving off into the sunset[/caption] Elephant Rock (pictured main) is the most photogenic of these, the huge mesas looking like an old bull elephant marching across a plain. Sithulpawwa Buddhism has been prevalent in Sri Lanka since the third century BC and Yala happens to have a great example of an early cave temple (pictured above) dating back to the second century BC; rare paintings on the temple walls from this time still remain.   Sithulpawwa’s caves sit below a white stupa and once housed thousands of arhats – monks thought to have achieved enlightenment. A conservation effort Tourism can be a strong force for good, bringing money to the local economy which helps monetise a natural asset, an incentive to keep it in tip-top shape so people will want to come in the first place.   But too many visitors can adversely affect the environment. Since the country’s civil war came to an end in 2009, tourists have flocked back to Sri Lanka and Yala: 43,368 visited the park in 2008 compared to 658,277 in 2016.   It’s meant a problematic number of safari jeeps entering the park, something the Sri Lankan government is looking to address, and should have remedied earlier if it hadn’t become such a political football. [caption id="attachment_45186" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Elephants roam their natural habitat[/caption] However, an action plan has been drawn up to be implemented before 2020. Its various measures include improving safari-jeep-driver discipline; reducing the numbers of tourists concentrated in the busy Block 1 of the park (see map) by opening up other blocks; and zoning Block 1 itself to disperse jeeps throughout in an orderly fashion. Animal Spotting Yala is a haven for big mammals, a rare sight in Asia outside of national parks big enough to accommodate them. Thankfully this is one of them. Sri Lankan flying snake With yellow and black bands, and red spots, you’ll be lucky to catch this striking snake gliding between trees.   It expands its ribs to flatten its body to soar across the canopy looking for small lizards to dine on; the stuff of nightmares for some, for others a rare photo opportunity. Sloth bear The Sri Lankan sloth bear is a dishevelled-looking shaggy character sporting a yellow crest on its chest, a lot like the sun bears found on the continent. Strong climbers, they dine on insects and fruit, and they’re very shy, emerging at dusk.   Yala represents one of the best places to spot them. Leopard The star of the show, it’s said there are around 30 leopards roaming around the most popular section of the park, meaning you have an increased chance of laying eyes on this reclusive big cat.   [caption id="attachment_45189" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Including Sri Lankan leopards, 44 species of mammals are resident in Yala National Park[/caption] The leopards are actually a subspecies endemic to Sri Lanka, so you’ll be ticking off an extremely rare animal indeed. Asian elephant It’s a life-affirming experience to see families of Sri Lankan elephants, a subspecies of Asian elephant, roaming the expanse of Yala, with over 300 calling the park home.   Sri Lanka is thought to have the world’s highest density of Asian elephants, which are under massive pressure from habitat loss in other parts of Asia.
The best and brightest hotel openings around the world
The latest and greatest hotels, resorts and unique stays to check into and check out right now. Pullman Luang Prabang, Laos This new five-star resort is located 10 minutes away by car from Luang Prabang’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town. [caption id="attachment_44535" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Located in Luang Prabang, it is within 2.9 miles of Night Market and 3 miles of Mount Phousy[/caption]   Its 16 hectares encompass 123 modern guest rooms with large terraces, a two-bedroom villa and a healthy scattering of infinity pools and streams. The Pullman Luang Prabang is now the largest hotel in town, but its low-rise architecture – which draws on traditional Laotian influences – sees it blend in well with the surrounding natural landscape.   Guests can dine on international cuisine at L’Atelier and sink a cocktail overlooking paddy fields at the Junction. One&Only Nyungwe House, Rwanda   Promising a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, One&Only Nyungwe House sits within the dense Green Expanse of a tea plantation, next to Ancient Montane rainforest.   Wild experiences such as chimpanzee Trekking or walking among majestic mahogany trees allow guests to max out the incredible setting.   The 23 rooms and suites combine local African craftsmanship with a contemporary look and feel, Plus there’s a Spa that uses natural products from luxury brand Africology. FREIgeist Göttingen, Germany   Located in the historic university town of Göttingen, in Germany’s Lower Saxony, Hotel Freigeist is a relentlessly modern new build (and a member of Design Hotels) featuring 118 rooms.   The décor continues the theme, with wood and copper fittings throughout contrasted against a palette of grey bricks, neutrals and shots of blue, and Basquiat-inspired artwork.   The whole thing has a Nordic vibe (enhanced by the on-site sauna), but in Intuu, its signature restaurant, it’s Japanese/South AmericaN Fusion all the way. Omaanda, Namibia   Omaanda is nestled in the Namibian savannah in the heart of the Zannier private animal reserve. Its 9000-hectare footprint, which offers lashings of peace and quiet and natural beauty, houses 10 luxury huts inspired by traditional Owambo architecture.   Ambo Delights restaurant offers cuisine inspired by the best local produce, while the bar at the edge of the heated swimming pool has views over the savannah. The Shangai Edition    A perfect blend of old and new Shanghai, the 145-room Shanghai EDITION sees Nanjing Road’s 1929 Art Deco Shanghai Power Company building fused with a new-build skyscraper.   Its various food and drink options include star chef Jason Atherton’s HIYA (translated to ‘clouds in the sky’), a Japanese izakaya-inspired eatery on the 27th floor. Six Senses Maxwell, Singapore   The Six Senses group has had a busy year, having already opened properties in Singapore and Fiji; now comes Six Senses Maxwell.   A sister property to Six Senses Duxton, the wellness brand’s first city hotel, the 120-room property is also retrofitted into a historic Singapore colonial-style building and features Euro-chic interiors courtesy of French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. The Apurva Kempinski, Bali   The first Kempinski hotel to open in Bali is a suitably grand reflection of Balinese architecture and craftsmanship.   Situated in the Nusa Dua area of the island, the hotel boasts 475 rooms, suites and villas and all the requisite inclusions expected from the luxury brand, from five dining options to a 60-metre swimming pool to an ocean-facing spa and a cigar and shisha lounge.   It even has its own beachfront wedding chapels.  
How to see a side of Japan that tourists are yet to discover
Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima – the Japanese golden route. It’s a trail many have completed, and one many aim to complete during their lifetime. And while there is definitely room for exploring Japan’s epicentre (a 450 per cent increase over the past five years doesn’t lie), a recent journey through the country’s more authentic side highlights just how much more there is to discover.   Despite the staggering rise in foreign tourists, relatively little has been done so far to make travellers aware of alternative destinations, with a continued fixation on commercialised travel spots.   Tokyo-based startup tour operator Heartland JAPAN is leading the way in the exploration of sustainable travel destinations, positioning itself as the oh-so-necessary provider for inbound visitors wishing to journey off the beaten track.   Not only will opening up these regions reignite local economies, but it will also assist in reversing the effects of depopulation and urbanisation, with the hopeful result of revitalising these communities.   If you’re like me, and you get your travel kicks from discovering vast and varied natural, historical and cultural alternatives that aren’t plagued with tourists, there are two Heartland JAPAN tours you need to discover ASAP. Allow me to take you through them. TOUR 1: Mt Aso, Kumamoto At the heart of Japan’s most southwesterly island of Kyushu sits the Kumamoto Prefecture.   If you haven’t heard of it, fear not, neither had I. And the Japanese are quick to forgive you, eager to open their arms wide for foreigners keen to discover just how incredible their little untouched pocket of the world is. Kumamoto City Your tour begins in Kumamoto.   Whilst Kyushu’s modern day capital is Fukuoka, situated in the north, historically Kyushu was governed from Kumamoto city.   [caption id="attachment_45084" align="alignleft" width="600"] A traditional seafood dinner in Kumamoto cityTime will be spent walking the elevated green pastured mountains of Futaenotouge Pass.[/caption] For those who haven’t dusted up on their samurai history prior to the tour, Futaenotouge Pass is a portion of the Bungo Circuit, a historic trail used by the feudal lords of the Kumamoto Domain to travel to Tokyo, in a practice known as sankin-kotai.   Following this exploration (and plenty of time to stop and marvel at the landscape’s rolling hills) you’ll make the 90-minute private car journey to the main event: Aso. Mt Aso For me, there are a number of things that draw me to any country. The people, food, culture – but one of the most significant is the chance to marvel in a natural beauty that is unlike anywhere else I have seen. And for me, Mt Aso is high on the list of my favourites.   [caption id="attachment_45080" align="alignleft" width="600"] The craters of Mt Aso resemble a space-like texture[/caption]   Mt Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan, and is among the largest in the world. And among it lives five peaks: Mt Neko, Mt Taka, Mt Naka (also called Nakadake or Naka-Dake), Mt Eboshi, and Mt Kishima.   Nakadake hosts a spectacular crater, stretching 24 kilometres from north to south and 18 kilometres from east to west. Within it lives an active volcano that emits smoke at all hours of the day.   [caption id="attachment_45081" align="alignleft" width="600"] Nakadake hosts a spectacular crater which stretching 24 kilometres from north to south[/caption] In fact, it emits so much toxic smoke that many tourists find themselves turned away from visiting, depending on the ever-changing wind directions. We were lucky, I hope you are too. Waita Onsen Village If you take one thing from this article, I hope it’s that the Kumamoto Prefecture offers many things that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Among them is the Waita Onsen Village, located in Oguni.   With its collection of six hot springs located at the base of the 1500-metre-tall Mt Waita, the village overlooks Kumamoto and Oita prefectures.   Looking around, you wouldn’t be wrong to think you were on the set of a blockbuster Hollywood movie, complete with million-dollar smoke machines as far as the eye can see.   What you would be witnessing (and smelling), however, is a natural phenomenon whereby gushing steam from the surrounding volcano punctures the ground and fills the skies.   [caption id="attachment_45082" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Waita Onsen village is one of the steamiest places in all of Japan[/caption] Walking around the sleepy rural town, it’s hard to see a square metre of land untouched by steam. And the locals, they make use of it. On the tour, you will be invited inside one of the villagers’ homes, where you can view, and participate in, a unique hot spring cooking experience.   The fuming hot steam serves as a means of heating up just about anything. From fish to vegetables, most residents house a smoke vent for culinary purposes. [caption id="attachment_45083" align="alignleft" width="600"] Locals brewing vegetables using steam from the village[/caption] Kagura Performances During your tour with Heartland JAPAN you will experience a private Kagura performance at a local theatre.   Kagura is thought to be among the oldest traditional performing arts in the country, with an origin tracing back to ancient mythology.   [caption id="attachment_45085" align="alignleft" width="600"] A colourful Kagura performance[/caption] It is originally said to be performed for Shinto dieties in an attempt to welcome and entertain, performed only by Shinto priests to thank them for abundant crops.   In contemporary Japan, however, the vibrant dances and garments are widely performed to the enjoyment of the public.   Experiencing these performances firsthand is unlike anything I have ever seen. The costumes, dramatics and even stamina of these performers is really unparalleled – it’s crazy to think they’re amateurs. TOUR 2: Yamaguchi Prefecture  Due to its rich history which spans nearly 700 years, Yamaguchi is the perfect place to explore with experts.   Yamaguchi is renowned throughout Japan for its impressive 300-year history and its ties to the Meiji Revolution.   While sitting as the seat of the powerful Ouchi lords, Yamaguchi grew as a rival to the war-torn capital of Kyoto during periods of Japanese conflict. As a result, the city grew in popularity as the ‘Kyoto of the West’ and many of its smaller cities have come to resemble the eastern hotspots many travellers know and love. Exploring Tsuwano With old samurai mansions, dark red roof tiles, wooden grated windows and koi carp fish,  Tsuwano is a bustling, pleasant town at the western edge of Shimane Prefecture.   Walking through Tsuwano is a blissful experience: peaceful mountains envelop the town and its surrounds. It has an energy of ancient Japan, alongside a contemporary atmosphere that allows it to not feel dated.   The town was built around the Tsuwano Castle in the early 14th century, and while the structure does not exist anymore, several business and samurai residences still remain in their original locations. You are also able to visit the castle ruins, accessible by chairlift.   Spend your time walking down Honmachi and Tonomachi avenues, memorable for their cobblestone streets dotted with established sake breweries, folk craft shops and Japanese sweetshops. The Shinto Shrine Yamaguchi is also celebrated for housing the Taikodani Inari Shrine, one of the five most significant Inari shrines in Japan.   [caption id="attachment_45086" align="alignleft" width="600"] The shinto shrine overlooks Tsuwano[/caption] The site was built in the mid-18th century in close proximity to Tsuwano Castle, with the aim of driving away evil spirits and bringing in good luck.   Today, vermillion-lacquered Torii gates are erected over a long series of stairs leading up to the shrine. Visitors are encouraged to make the 15-minute climb through the gates and pray for prosperity, good luck and harvest on the way to the main shrine grounds.   [caption id="attachment_45087" align="alignleft" width="600"] Visitors are encouraged to make the 15-minute climb through the gates[/caption] Large sacred straw ropes line the front of the halls, which is a feature that occurs at other shrines in the Shimane Prefecture.   Visitors to Taikodani Inari Shrine can buy fortunes, also known as Omikuji. A bamboo aparatus allots you a number, which coresponds to a tiny slip/roll of paper on which your fortune is written.   [caption id="attachment_45089" align="alignleft" width="600"] White pieces of paper contain discarded bad fortunes[/caption] If you draw a good fortune, keep it, take it home with you. But if it’s bad, you’re encouraged to tie it among the wall of other fortunes. The idea is to leave all bad luck at the shrine, where the divine spirit can exorcise it. Ogawa Sumikawa Sake Brewery Driving towards Susa Bay, you may start to feel an appetite for Japan’s most prized and celebrated alcohol: sake. Fear not, the team at HEARTLAND are quick to replenish, taking you to one of the country’s most celebrated breweries.   For novices, sake is a traditional Japanese rice wine, made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran. At Ogawa Sumikawa Sake Brewery, the place you’ll visit, you will learn and watch the signature manufacturing process using the unique brewery rice, ‘sakemirai’.   [caption id="attachment_45090" align="alignleft" width="600"] Local markets sell traditional sake cups[/caption] Very few breweries can brew with this rice, and the much-loved taste led to this brewery being chosen to provide sake for the 2008 G8 summit.
Hyatt Regency Bali
Treat yourself (and the whole family) at this dreamy Balinese resort
Your ultimate blissful Bali getaway, with newly renovated rooms, a quiet beach, kids’ club, and beachfront eatery! ***Advertising content by Hyatt Regency Bali*** Whether you want to spend your entire time chilling out by the pool or catching up with friends in one of the bars, the classic Balinese resort that is Hyatt Regency Bali has plenty of space and opportunities for you to completely recharge; it’s the perfect tropical escape. Originally built on a coconut plantation, the resort is blessed with the widest beachfront in the region and has the largest garden on the island. Families will enjoy the laid-back Sanur vibe, while couples will revel in its romantic, old-school charm. With 363 newly renovated rooms and facilities, the resort is eminently comfortable while at the same time retaining an authentic Balinese feel. [caption id="attachment_44994" align="alignnone" width="600"] Welcome to relaxation[/caption] Need to know Location The Hyatt Regency Bali is right on the main street of Sanur with 500 metres of beachfront and Bali’s top destinations close by: Seminyak is 45 minutes away and Ubud just an hour. Eat: The hotel has two restaurants: Omang Omang with its all-day dining, and Pizzaria by the beach. Outside the hotel you can enjoy hundreds of cafes, restaurants and bars. Play: Though most people come to Sanur to relax, there are plenty of options for turning your mild a little bit wilder. Beach clubs are within 10 minutes of the hotel, and bars with live music or sports are a quick walk away – plus you’ll find chilled-out yoga studios as well as hip boutiques and salons. Within the hotel, guests can swim in one of three pools, mingle at the Beach Bar or get pampered in the lavish spa. Top Tips The hotel’s renowned, established garden makes a fabulous backdrop for family or romantic portraits. Book a photo session with a local photographer and snap some of your best Insta shots ever. The garden is home to about 500 species of flora and fauna, and trees from the old garden of Bali Hyatt have been restored and given a new home. Head to the spa to try a watsu (water shiatsu) treatment – essentially a massage on water! Sindhu market offers a glimpse of local life. A wet market by day and food market by night, Sindhu is Sanur’s unofficial melting pot. Located 10 minutes’ drive from the hotel, the market opens from 6am to 10am and 6pm to 10pm. The resort is accepting bookings from 20 December 2018. Find out more at hyattregencybali.com

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