Wheeling through South Korea, wining in dear old Lonnie: travel deals & kids’ gigs, August 25

New to travel: cycling in South Korea.

With winter just about out the window, you could be forgiven for thinking Tasmania’s raison d’être has also gone the way of the Australian tiger. That’s only because you haven’t been to Launceston, up on the north coast. Interestingly (well, ok, interesting to me), a Brit once said it should be pronounced Launston ( the ‘ces’ isn’t pronounced: think Worcestershire sauce). But I digress. Check out this week’s travel deals and kids’ gig, where smearing your nose along a window is encouraged – nay – obligatory.

TASMANIA

Visit Launceston and take in the art galleries, harvest
markets and Tamar Valley wineries. Stay in a one-bed Superior suite at The
Sebel Launceston from $219, and they’ll deliver breakfast in bed and a wee
bottle of champagne. Until December 31. accorhotels.com.
SOUTH KOREA
Singapore is about to roar: F1 racing comes to town.
Get ahead of the pack with South Korea’s new cycle
trails. Save 25 percent on the first, nine-day Korean Cycle trip from Seoul to
traditional Andong through unspoilt forests and villages. Departs October 26, from
$2590, 1800 107 060, adventuresouth.co.nz.
SINGAPORE
Head to the 2013 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix,
September 19-23. Packages include a three-day Grandstand race ticket, race preview
lunch, return international airfares and four nights’ accommodation. Save
over $500, costs $2595, 1300 888 858, sportsnetholidays.com.
Gentle luxury at The
Sebel Launceston.
KIDS
If squished noses on windows is a feature of your airport
visits, check out the Parkroyal Melbourne Airport’s Kids Plane-Spotting package
and watch the big birds take off right outside your hotel room. Includes
accommodation for one adult and one child under 12 (Friday and Saturday nights
only), breakfast and an activity package, from $269 until 31 December. Extra
adults from $20. 1800 192 144, parkroyalhotels.com. 

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun-Herald newspaper

Loving the living in Melbourne, the world’s most livable city, again

Pelligrini’s bar & cafe, Melbourne

If you were wondering where in the world to live, it’s official – yet again: Melbourne has pulled off a hat-trick as the world’s most livable city, three years running.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual survey saw us bump Vancouver down to third place, and Vienna is in second. A note to those who haven’t yet visited: no matter how much we moan about winter, our winters don’t come with thigh-high snow.

We have a ridiculously good cafe scene, vibrant street art, leafy streets and a marked absence of tanks or chemical warfare going on, which no doubt helped us pip the 139 other cities in the competition, which finds poor Damascus, Syria, now at the bottom of the list.

So I take this blog to tell the current Victorian premier, Dr Denis Napthine, to stop carving the city up with his ridiculous, overpriced and under-researched road schemes. Just because you don’t like Collingwood, doesn’t mean you have to wipe it off the map with a freeway. One of the key considerations for the EIU is infrastructure (as well as stability, culture & environment, healthcare and education), and that means public transport.

Street art, Melbourne

If you were in doubt as to Melbourne’s livability, you could go for second-best and choose Adelaide, Sydney or Perth, who were also in the top 10. Aww, makes you proud to be an Australian, doesn’t it?

The top 10
Melbourne, Australia
Vienna, Austria (hello Andrew!)
Vancouver, Canada (um, cold, anyone?)
Toronto, Canada (yep, cold, too)
Calgary, Canada (possibly colder)
Adelaide, Australia  (also very good coffee, thanks to all the Italians)
Sydney, Australia (yeah, yeah, whatevs)
Helsinki, Finland (see cold comment, above)
Perth, Australia
Auckland, New Zealand

The bottom 10 (most of which are on my hitlist except Lagos, which just sounds scarey)
Tehran, Iran (lovely, lovely city)
Douala, Cameroon
Tripoli, Libya
Karachi, Pakistan
Algiers, Algeria
Harare, Zimbabwe
Lagos, Nigeria
Port Moresby, PNG
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Damascus, Syria

Shacktastic! Great Aussie holiday homes

Getting away from it all? Not any more — we want holiday homes that have it all… (or, as I’ve subtitled this piece in my noisy head, how we traded the caravan for the castle.)

For generations of Aussies, summer holidays always started with a
long, “I spy”-dominated drive to the beach.

The accommodation was either
a caravan park, where kids ran rampant from dawn until dusk and the
queue at the shower block was the essential meeting place, or the
classic beach shack, built on a shoestring and furnished with the
cast-offs from the family home.

We’ve always loved our beach
shacks: hidden from view on the white-sand beaches of the NSW south
coast or up in idyllic Byron Bay, you’ll see them among the dunes along
the South Australian coastline, tucked away down sandy lanes on the
Bellarine and Mornington peninsulas, so laid-back they’re almost
horizontal.

Stayz, a division of Fairfax Media, recently held its annual awards for
the best holiday rentals in seven categories including best for pets,
romance, families and eco-friendliness, as well as a people’s choice.
Judged by a panel of travel industry experts with guest ratings and
reviews in the mix, the results are an eye-opener.

These days the locations are different: we’re not just running to the
beach any more. Sure, there are winners in Noosa, Byron Bay and on
Culburra Beach, just outside Nowra, but there are also winners in the
Victorian foodie region around Kyneton, in the genteel NSW southern
highlands and another on the sleepy east Gippsland coastline.

“The
mix of holiday homes is changing,” says Anton Stanish, general manager
of Stayz. “We’ve also got more inner-city serviced apartments,
especially on the Gold Coast. They’re so convenient for fly-in
holidaymakers. And we’ve got more unique properties.”

Choose your dream: a tree-house? A castle? A lighthouse? Or a yurt? A
train carriage or go underground to a subterranean B&B? You might
need a jetty for your own boat, or helicopter access for a particularly
dramatic arrival. While the shape of the holiday house has changed, so
have our requirements.

Nowadays, remember to take your iPad and
smartphones, Stanish says. Far from getting away from it all, a huge
percentage of holiday homes now have Wi-Fi. We’re holidaying
differently: we expect great beds, pay-TV and internet access. We’re out
to “enjoy ourselves” and “we’re no longer doing hardship”, he says.

Indulgence winner: Toraja Luxury just outside Byron Bay.

With
the rise in demand comes the rise in agents happy to supply, and not
just traditional real estate agents. The last year has seen a rush of
activity among the online players, which include behemoth Stayz, which
has more than 40,000 properties on its books, HomeAway.com.au with
19,000 holiday listings, and wotif.com, which launched a dedicated
holiday homes service in March 2012.

Newcomer Airbnb, which lets people
advertise not only their homes but also rooms, launched in Australia
late last year, and has gone public about its intention to take on Stayz
in the holiday rentals market.

With such choice available, you need to choose carefully. Think about
what you’d use the property for: obviously, a couple chasing romance
doesn’t need to pay for a two-bedroom house and if you’re a large group,
check that there are enough bathrooms for you all.

Groups also
need to ensure they have enough transport, especially if you’re booking a
country house, such as a Victorian farmhouse B&B.

If you want
to eat in a different restaurant every night, is a country retreat
really for you, or would it be better basing yourself in a foodie town,
such as the beloved spa town of Daylesford, Victoria, where you can
totter home afterwards, bypassing the need for a designated driver? And
while pool fences are compulsory in Australia, it also goes without
saying that kids and cliff-top retreats don’t mix.

Villa Vivante, Coffs Harbour, is perched 750 feet above the Pacific
Ocean,
it’s a vivid image of the beautiful villas on the Cote d’Azure
in
the South of France.

If you’re
packing the pets, check that the local beaches or parks are leash-free:
in summer, many beaches ban dogs in daylight hours. Hound-friendly
holiday homes are on the increase and the advantage for holiday home
owners is that dog owners are a sturdy bunch, with the market not so
reliant on good weather.

“Many dog owners are happy to get a break
from the city all year around to give their dogs a run, so dog-friendly
holiday rentals are becoming increasingly popular,” says Stephen
Nicholls, Fairfax Media’s national Domain editor and property
trend-watcher.

However simple or complex your wishes, at the end
of the day, it’s still a holiday. We’ve come a long way for the best
getaway. In many properties, you’ll also find quality linen supplied,
brand toiletries, top-brand coffee machines… all the lovely things we
may not necessarily have at home.

You can tick off the five key
factors that make a good holiday home: uniqueness, good value, the right
space and size, exclusivity of use and that old real estate mantra,
location, location, location.
Once upon a time, you just added
water – think beaches, rivers or lakes – to make the perfect holiday
home. Now, we expect dependable internet, luxury linen, professionally
kitted-out kitchens and a plethora of entertainment options from
restaurant strips to theme parks and, of course, a great beach.

The
great Australian getaway definitely has changed as our households have
changed, with more singles on the move, as well as couples young and old
without kids. Holidaymakers, as Nicholls points out, want to travel
with their pets, with a group of mates, or take a holiday that leaves a
lighter footprint on the planet.

Families are also more
adventurous – no staying at home just because we have young children,
and thanks to rising petrol costs, lower airfares and more services to
regional airports, many visitors will arrive at their destination by
plane rather than a long road trip through countless country towns. Baby
boomers are happily blowing their children’s inheritance on holidays,
while the core holiday home market – inter-generational travel, which
sees grandparents holidaying with all their kids – has always been a key
holiday rental market.

While villa rentals are on-trend in our
favourite international destinations such as Bali and Thailand,
Australia’s stepping up to the plate; which is particularly timely as
our obsession with overseas travel is set to wane as our dollar winds
back recent gains.

Building on our existing love of a beach shack,
those holiday homes are now a bit glossier, more polished, with
matching linen and chic, gingham-checked breakfast baskets featuring
sumptuous piles of regional produce.

Something that hasn’t changed
is that the most popular spots for holiday homes remain within 2½
hours’ drive of our capital cities. “That’s about as long as young
families with two kids in the back seat can tolerate for a weekend
break,” Nicholls says.

For Sydneysiders, the south coast is a hot
locale. Destination NSW says the most popular spot in the state for
Sydney short-break holidaymakers is the south coast, with 23 per cent of
us heading there, while the north coast gets 17 per cent of the
traffic, and the Hunter Valley 15 per cent. The beach towns of Hyams
Beach, Nowra and Huskisson remain popular as well as Nicholls’ personal
favourite, Jervis Bay, right on the 2½-hour mark.

While it’s
traditionally quiet in the middle of winter, Todd Gallant from Hyams
Beach Real Estate says the beachside spot, which sells itself as having
the whitest sand in the world, is increasingly popular with
holidaymakers, though official tourism figures show its biggest rival is
NSW’s north coast, with tourist traffic to Byron Bay currently booming,
and we’re not even talking about across the border to the holiday mecca
that is Noosa.

Not quite as far away from Sydney, Pacific Palms –
specifically Blueys Beach – is just under three hours’ drive north of
Sydney on the appropriately named Holiday Coast, a strong lure for
time-poor north shore holidaymakers.

As the six-week summer
holiday fades into a nostalgic haze, the long weekender continues to
rise in popularity: four-day mini-breaks are hot right now.

For a full-list of the winners of this year’s Stayz Group Holiday Rental Awards, see stayz.com.au.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sydney Morning Herald/The Age

Next best things in cruising: innovations in travel design

Seabourn Sojourn’s spiral atrium.

Design is at the forefront of modern travel, with yet more innovations on the way in cruising. Here’s what’s happening on the high seas. 

Forget communal tables and allocated seating: it’s all about how you
deign to dine when you’re all at sea. Crystal Cruises is one of many
saying “no” to long buffet counters, replacing them with “food islands”
and more tables for two.

Private dining is also on the rise, with
Seabourn’s large verandahs set up to encourage private alfresco dining
while Princess Cruises’ newest ship, the Royal Princess, features a new
Chef’s Table Lumiere, sectioned off by a curtain of light around a glass
table in one of its dining rooms.

On-board spas are larger and
more glamorous, with more facilities and treatments. Expect couples
retreats, cabanas, indoor-outdoor spaces and capitalisation on those
ocean views. The Seabourn small ships’ spas top the range, coming in at
more than 1000 square metres, with thermal suites, herbal baths and walk
pools. Its four new penthouse spa suites are connected to the main spa
by a dramatic spiral staircase and come with a spa concierge, because we
all need a spa concierge.

We’ve also seen the rise of all-suite
ships, with more private verandahs – up to 95 per cent of Silversea’s
new Silver Spirit has verandahs. Adjoining staterooms and two-bedroom
penthouses are another in-demand feature, in response to the increase of
families of up to three generations taking to the seas together.

P&O’s popular Pacific Pearl and Pacific Dawn were refitted with
adjoining rooms last year: expect to see more adults-only pools, most
likely adjoining the spa, and a rise in single cabins. In fact, the
first single balcony cabins are now on the market as more solo cruisers
hit the seas, without paying a costly single supplement.

Source: Belinda Jackson

This extract was published in the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age. But wait, there’s more! Click here to read about innovation in trains, luggage, hotels and airlines.

Sun, ski and kids’ iPads apps for good, not evil: travel deals August 18

Ski-in, ski-out Falls Creek, Victoria

As the rain and hail beat down, a week in Byron Bay is sweet music to the ears in this office. But then, so is the idea of hot chocolate in the snowfields, especially as Falls Creek has cracked the one-meter mark! Sun, ski: choose your passion. There’s also a cool new kids’ iPad application that is (a) cheap (b) educational and (c) won’t send you into a world of spam and irate sword-wielding cats demanding you buy more, more and more.

NEW SOUTH WALES

Sneak away to beloved Byron Bay for a long weekend of
surfing, coffee and music. Save 15 per cent when you book a three-night package
at BreakFree Eco Beach between September 21, 2013 – March 31, 2014. Costs from
$432, three nights, studio room. breakfree.com.au.
VICTORIA
Stay three nights at Falls Creek and get a three-day lift
pass and three days of ski or board rental, parka and pants and snowsports
school for kids. From $499 adults, $405 kids (3-14 years) 13-29 September,
quote ‘snowtime intro’. 1800 453 525, skifalls.com.au/deals.
CANADA &
ALASKA
Get a free return flight to Canada (just pay taxes) and
one free night when you book an APT Canada tour by October 25. The 19-day tour
of the Canadian Rockies and Alaska departing April 14, 2014 costs from $10,395
a person, twin share. 131 398, travelscene.net.au.
KIDS
Turn the iPad into a weapon for good with the new Kid
Tracks app, aimed at kids 6-12 years. Download the free app and then buy
‘tracks’ for 99c each, which lead kids (and their virtual pet) through 46
attractions in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

The multiple-choice questions
mean kids learn and earn, with prizes at the end. You get to visit the Old
Melbourne Gaol, Harbour Bridge or even the Art Gallery of NSW with serenity and
sanity intact. kidtracks.com.au

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun-Herald newspaper

Britain boxes clever in the battle of the drives

VisitBritain’s postbox USB
I thought Melbourne’s tourism gang topped the competition for the cleverest USB drive with its little red rattler trams. 

But then I caught up with Visit Britain at Melbourne’s British restaurant, Papa Goose, on the serious eating strip of Flinders Lane.

Take a look at their little marketing number, loaded with press releases for eager journos. How cute is that red postbox?

If you thought 2013 was a bumper year for the UK, with the trifecta of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, a Brit (finally!) winning Wimbledon and a baby royal to boot, next year is shaping up well, with a swathe of anniversaries including Shakespeare (400 years), Jane Austen (200 years), poet Dylan Thomas (100 years) and Dr Who, who hit the big five-oh! this year.

Take an icon, turn it into a journalist’s cheat sheet.
What’s not to love?

Restaurants in former
public toilets are so hot right now (well, they’d be convenient, boom-tish) men’s fashion is taking on Paris and Milan and hey, Brits are
loving us Aussies as we spend up big in the shops. 

Cashed up Aussies? Who wouldn’t love us? Unfortunately, that’s sure to
be one change in 2014, no matter what government comes in
with the upcoming Australian election. Ha!

Pony ballet in Melbourne, private islands in Cambodia: travel deals

Song Saa island, Thailand

Pssst, life is full-on, sometimes deals don’t always fall on your desk when you planned. If you’re ready to go, and go now, check these little babies out!

GO NOW: MELBOURNE

Combine a night of horse ballet and a city stay with the
Cavalia show and Fraser Suites Melbourne until August 18. Get Gold tickets and
an overnight stay in a deluxe studio from $429 for two people, saving $60. 1800
800 488, frasershospitality.com.au.
GO SOONER: LORD
HOWE ISLAND
Keen birders and lovers of luxury take note: stay seven
nights at Capella Lodge and get free flights from Sydney and a free night until
September 30. From $3900 a person, seven nights. (02) 9918 4355,
capellalodge.com.au.
GO SOONER: CAMBODIA
Check in to Song Saa Private Island, in the Gulf of
Thailand, for four nights of sustainable luxury. Pay half price until September
30, from US$3298 (A$3637), double, all-inclusive for four nights in a jungle
villa. +855 236 860 360, songsaa.com.
KIDS
Let the kids run away to the circus, take over the kitchen
or create art from beach debris at Club Med Cherating, Malaysia. Save on stays until
September 1, from $1057 for adults, $614 for kids 4-11yrs, seven nights. 1300
855 052, clubmed.com.au.

This article was published in the Sun-Herald newspaper (Australia), Belinda Jackson

Colour my world: the textiles of Sri Lanka

Barefoot’s design house, Sri Lanka.

I have fondled hemp throws in Morocco, lusted for
Kashmiri embroidered cushions, gone cammo with Arabic scarves, and when
my husband told me not to buy any carpets in Iran I deduced the man was
obviously delusional: I was going to Persia, home of the rug. He’d given
up by the time I announced the Sri Lanka trip.

In my defence,
textiles are surely the ideal souvenir. They usually pack down easily,
they’re not fragile, they are useful and, importantly, they are a direct
link to a country’s culture.


I showed him photographs of women working on traditional handlooms
and waxed lyrical about the colours of the country: peacock blue, russet
red and saffron yellow.

“You
have to use bright colours in Sri Lanka because of the sunshine,” says
British interior designer George Cooper, who has lived in the southern
seaside town of Galle for the past decade and stamped his mark on a
string of villas along the coastline.

“In England and France, muted colours work, but you have to up your palettes here.

Traditional batik.

“The colours are more primary. They’re simpler.”

The country’s
textiles were born in the time of legend, says Sri Lanka-born,
Melbourne-based textiles artist Cresside Collette. She’s talking way
back: as far as the Ramayana, the Indian epic from 3000BC; in Sri
Lanka’s royal chronicle, the ancient Mahavamsa, even the queen is
spinning yarn.

Cresside, who recently led a new textiles tour
through her home country, says the main industries are weaving,
lacemaking, embroidery, dyeing and batik. Don’t expect the massive
factories of Bangladesh or India: Sri Lanka’s textiles industry is
small, secretive and, in some instances, even dying out. You’ll need a
knowing local on hand to help eke them out.


Luckily, I have Cresside’s tips and my friend Andrea, a writer, guide
and friend of the arts, who has a flair for design. Happily, she’s also
an English-speaking Dutch burgher – an exotic, ethnic blur of of Dutch,
Portuguese and indigenous Sri Lankan: the woman is a strolling atlas.

In
Galle, the Portuguese element is obvious in the southern province’s
reputation for its cotton lace. Intrepid Portuguese were blown off
course from the Maldives and landed here in 1505. “There’s a strong
sense of Lisbon through the lacemaking,” Cooper says.

One morning,
as I leave my hotel, the luxurious Amangalla, a quiet man sells me a
beautiful child’s white cotton nightdress. Strips of handmade lace
decorate the chest, hem and armholes, and although a delicate white
dress is a green light to my rambunctious daughter for wildness, I have
to buy it. I’m undertaking a classic transaction that’s been taking
place for centuries: Amangalla’s own history notes recall local
Sinhalese women sitting tatting on its verandah, making lace to sell to
tourists until the 1970s.

Waxing a batik. Photo: Alamy.

Andrea translates for me the story of
Manikku Badathuruge Priyani – or Priyani, for short – an internationally
recognised lacemaker. Now 53, she first sat down to lacemaking when she
was five, the fourth generation in her family to do so. Her work is
stocked in local handcraft stores including Lanka Hands and Laksala, and
each year, in her tropical home, she tats snowflakes that are exported
to Finland as Christmas ornaments.

Priyani has a cabinet full of
awards for entrepreneurship thanks to her own one-woman campaign to
preserve the craft by visiting stay-at-home women and disabled women,
giving them knowledge and small orders. You’ll spy Galle lacemakers’
work on the silver screen in Jane Austen movies Persuasion and Mansfield
Park, yet she’s not optimistic about the future of lacemaking.

“It’s
hard to sustain and is dying out rapidly because of the lack of
resources to preserve this craft that has survived for hundreds of years
and preserves our Portuguese heritage,” she says, echoing the time-old
complaint: “Young people are not interested.”

In contrast,
handloomed fabric is enjoying a renaissance, as we Westerners fall in
love with the seeming simplicity of design and clarity of the colours
employed by Sri Lankan designers. Treadle looms weave bright tableware,
and rolls of fabric are on sale in the country’s high-chic shops.

In
KK Collection, Cooper’s interiors shop in Galle, I unfurl cotton
handloomed fabric from its roll. The cotton is woven in villages near
the capital, Colombo, hand-dyed into smart stripes using vegetable dyes,
which creates variation that is frowned upon by puritans but loved by
those of us who see humanity in its imperfection.

Loom weavers at work. Photo: Cresside Collette.

On her tour,
Cresside visits the cloth weavers of Dumbara Valley, Sri Lanka’s
indigenous weavers, who draw on the countryside for inspiration. In
little Henawela village, the traditional motifs of elephants, deer,
peacocks and snakes gallivant along agave fibre stained with plant dyes
and woven into mats. All cotton used in Sri Lankan fabrics is imported,
mostly from India. Sri Lanka is about the same size as Tasmania but with
a population of about 20 million, and while its rumpled geography is
fine for delicate tea terraces, it defers to India’s vast plains to
produce raw cotton.

The bright interiors of another indigenous
design house, Barefoot, are a celebration of all that’s wild and lovely
on the island. In 1958, Barefoot’s founder, textiles designer Barbara
Sansoni, began teaching village women weaving and needlecraft. Under
principal designer Marie Gnanaraj, they now create vivid, high-quality,
hand-woven and hand-dyed fabric while earning a living wage, and their
beautiful fabric, toys and fashion are exported all over the world,
including to Australia.

While I love a good shop, show me the
creator and I’m sold. You’re bringing that person’s skills into your
home. Cresside ventures in to the village workshops around Kandy that
specialise in mat weaving, silversmithing and wood carving, and on to
Matale Heritage Centre, between Kandy and Matale.

The centre is at
Aluwihare, the ancestral home of batik and embroidery artist Ena de
Silva, dubbed Sri Lanka’s grand dame of batik. Her signature pieces are a
wild batik ceiling in the Bentota Beach Hotel and a set of banners of
heroic proportions, hanging in front of Sri Lanka’s parliament. De Silva
is widely regarded as one of the major catalysts in Sri Lanka’s craft
revival: her women’s co-operative operates out of Aluwihare, where local
villagers balance wax and dye to create traditional batik. Their
embroidered cushions and toys are for sale and lunch is also available.

The
time is right for such tours, as Sri Lanka itself awakens to its own
riches. The Colombo National Museum has just opened a new textile
gallery, and there’s an international appreciation for the social
consciousness that guides much of Sri Lanka’s home-bound textiles
workforce.

When I finally, regretfully, leave Sri Lanka, Andrea
and I exchange gifts: flowers and wine for my friend, while she presses a
handmade paper bag into my hands. Inside is a long scarf, dyed strong
fuchsia, grassy green, blood red and a deep royal purple. It is
hand-block-printed with a black motif of stylised flowers and bordered
with strips of gold.

The scarf encapsulates all that is Sri Lanka:
its blazing palette, ebullient nature and the rich embellishment worthy
of a culture of tradition and vivacity.

The writer was a guest of Banyan Lanka Tours and Sri Lanka Tourism.

TRIP NOTES

MORE INFORMATION
banyanlanka.com; srilanka.travel

GETTING THERE: Singapore
Airlines has a fare to Colombo for about $1125 low-season return from
Sydney and Melbourne including taxes. Fly to Singapore (about 8hr) and
then to Colombo (3hr 40min); see singaporeair.com. Malaysia Airlines
flies via KL from $975 return including tax; see malaysiaairlines.com.

TOURING THERE: Cresside
Collette will lead Active Travel’s next Sri Lanka Textiles & Crafts
tour July/Aug 2014. From $4842, 15 days. 1300 783 188, see activetravel.com.au.
Her next tour is a 20-day tapestry tour of Europe, from London, September 2, priced from $5950. See tapestrytour.blogspot.com.

FIVE MORE TEXTILES TOURS

Burmese Lun-taya acheik, globetrottinggourmet.com

MYANMAR: Join
textile designer and weaver Morrison Polkinghorne from Yangon to Bagan
and Mandalay, where handloomers create weaves at an inch (2.5
centimetres) a day. The tour coincides with Waterfestival. Departs April
next year, from $4500, 14 days, see globetrottinggourmet.com.

LAOS: The
20th-anniversary Laos Textile & Culture tour is escorted by the
head of textiles at the ANU, Valerie Kirk. From Hanoi into Laos’
mountainous villages, the birthplace of Lao weaving, to Luang Prabang
and Vientiane. Departs January 15, next year, from $4375, 17 days, see activetravel.com.au.

INDIA: Gujarat
Tribals + Textiles is a five-star tour through western India exploring
the clothing, jewellery and fabrics of Gujarat’s indigenous people.
Departs January 26, next year, from $US7250 ($8095), 15 days, see mariekesartofliving.com.

MOROCCO: From
Marrakesh to the imperial cities of Rabat and Fez,through museums and
palaces, experiencing Amazigh (Berber) food and hospitality. Departs
September 28, next year, from $3180, 15 days, see culturaltours morocco.com.

BHUTAN
With
textiles artist Barbara Mullan, travel from Paro to the annual Thimphu
Festival, pausing to admire striking architecture and the view from high
mountain passes. Departs each September, from $4290, nine days, see worldexpeditions.com.


This article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald & The Age newspapers (Australia)
Belinda Jackson

Do Peru with divas or Prague on a pittance: Travel deals & kids on the road, August 11 2013

African drumming for families at the Darebin
Music Feast, Sept 18-29, musicfeast.com.au

Forget play doh, get the kids to shake it with an African drumming session this school holidays. Otherwise, hit Perth with a budget, Peru with a bunch of divas or find a bargain in Prague’s historic old town in this week’s domestic and international travel deals.

GO NOW: WESTERN
AUSTRALIA, PERTH
Save on stays in a four-star self-contained
studio apartment at All Suites Perth, with midday
checkout and free wifi included on two-night stays Friday to Sunday until early
December. Normally $300, costs $256, two nights, quote “Studio Stay 2
Save 20%”. 1300 88 7979, wotif.com/hotelW4628.
GO SOONER: PERU
& ARGENTINA
Get a five-star stay and half-day city tour of Lima when
you book a 14-night tour of Peru & Argentina by August 30. The group will cover Macchu Pichu, fabulous Buenos Aires and Mendoza.
Departs 10 November, quote ‘SHPERU’, $7699, travellingdivas.com.au.
Staré Město: Prague’s evocative old town.

GO LATER: CZECH
REPUBLIC

Stay four nights, pay for three in a range of Prague
hotels from November 1 until December 28  including the four-star Hotel Leonardo, from $50 a night with breakfast. 1300 363
554, beyondtravel.com.au.
KIDS
Let your little musos get their groove on at the Darebin
Music Feast, in Melbourne’s inner-north in the upcoming school holidays,
18-29 September. Expect pop-up performances spaces, CD launches and shows by
young artists including Miss Eileen and Yorque, African drumming workshops and
family go-go dance classes. Free (some require bookings), musicfeast.com.au

A material whirl: eight great shopping cities

Gorgeously photogenic babouches, leather slippers
from Marrakech, Morocco

Belinda Jackson lists eight favourite destinations at which to arrive
with empty bags. 

Busted your luggage allowance lugging home a treasure only to find it in
your local ‘hood? The best shopping is a rejection of globalisation: it’s about
going back to the source or finding something that only that city or country
can provide.

LONDON

Basking in a design
renaissance, London’s smoking-hot fashion and design is being peddled by a
James Bond (Daniel Craig), a welter of celebrated sportsmen and the new baby
Windsor.
Locals love Stylist and personal shopper Rachel Meddowes says London’s
hottest strip is Chiltern Street, in Marylebone, W1. “It’s a return to a
coterie of small, chic, beautifully designed and curated shops including
fabulous Tyler Brule’s the Monocle Cafe, Cire Trudon for the best candles,
uber-cool men’s boutique Trunk, and Atlas Gallery, for its photographs. If I
had to say one shop, it would be Mouki (mouki-london.com)
for its stylish, insider brands of women’s fashion and lifestyle.”
Must-visit Selfridges is home to the world’s largest women’s and
men’s shoe departments. Its new Denim Studio includes a free denim doctor to
help women find their perfect pair of jeans from 60 brands. The Conran Shop
(including the newly refurbished Marylebone store, conranshop.co.uk) and Liberty (liberty.co.uk) are design stalwarts.
Local hero For a catch-all day of browsing, use the cobbled Seven
Dials, north of Covent Garden, as your compass point and branch out (sevendialsco.uk). Check out Cambridge
Satchel Company (cambridgesatchel.com),
Sienna Miller’s Twenty8Twelve (twenty8twelve.com)
or, for a village vibe, Neal’s Yard.
Wild card The flagship Burberry Bespoke (burberry.com) has more than 100 screens
flashing your customised trench on the catwalk or in a movie, in-between
sporadic digital thunderstorms.
STOCKHOLM
The bellwether of
ice-cool design, you can’t visit Stockholm without admiring the masters’ design
ethic.
Locals love “To get to the heart of modern Stockholm, head over
to SoFo – South of Folkungagatan Street (sofo-stockholm.se)
– with a profusion of fashion and interior designers with antique and vintage
clothing shops, trendy bars and restaurants,” says Birgitta Palmer, of the
Stockholm Visitors Board.
Must-visit Get your head into Swedish living space at Svenskt Tenn (svenskttenn.se), your stationery fix at
Ordning&Reda (ordning-reda.com)
and gifts at DesignTorget (designtorget.se).
Local hero Cruise Acne Studios’ flagship store and V Ave Shoe Repair
for the ultimate in Swedish fashion (acnestudios.com;
vave-shoerepair.com). Every
self-respecting Swedish child wears Polarn O. Pyret, designer of unisex,
hard-wearing children’s clothes (polarnopyret.com).
And who can say no to Bjorn Borg-designed knickers (bjornborg.com)?
Wild card Uncover the next big thing or total trash at the weekend
market Street, in Sodermalm. A tip from Sean Naughton, concierge at Benny
Andersson’s Hotel Rival (www.rival.se): if
you can’t afford the heavyweight fashion names of Bibliotekstan, score
discounted fashion at Barkaby outlet centre (qualityoutlet.com/in-english).
BANGKOK
Tap into the Thai
design aesthetic – it’s cheeky and cute, and if you don’t leave Bangkok with a
bag full of silk, you’re just not trying.
Locals love “Post-Nerd [Siam Square] is a favourite for cool
T-shirts with unusual designs,” says Bangkok resident Mark Thomson, of
Anantara hotels. “Also Propaganda, which is home to Mr P, who appears in
anatomically correct cartoon lamps and other … products.” (propagandaonline.com).
Must-visit Siam Discovery, in the cluster of Siam Square malls, has
been recently made-over with an edgy open plan; several floors are given over
to Thailand’s fashion designers. It’s also the home of Madame Tussauds Bangkok.
The massive Chatuchak market is in every guidebook, allegedly the world’s
largest weekend market. Grab a map at the entrance before you dive in (chatuchak.org).
Local hero A perennial favourite is FotoFile, for fantastic new and
second-hand camera gear in the beloved, budget-easy MBK mall. Unlike the rest
of MBK, prices are fixed and labelled.
Wild card Take home the scent of a Thai spa with success story
Thann, whose lush products feature Asian ingredients: think jasmine blossom,
tamarind, rice-bran oil and nutmeg. Find them in all the major malls and a new
Thann cafe at level 3, Gaysorn Plaza.
MANILA
The Philippines has a
special flair that makes it an interior design powerhouse and, of course, shoes
are a hot item.
Locals love Bespoke menswear and womenswear designer Joey Samson loves
three homewares stores. A11 comprises three townhouses that are a furniture and
design gallery (F.B. Harrison Street, Pasay). AC+632 stocks Gallic homewares
with a Philippines twist, including excellent tassels (Greenbelt 5, Makati),
while W17 is a celebration of Asian interiors using local materials (w17home.com).
Must-visit Cram your bags with South Sea pearls in all shapes and
sizes, from just a few dollars each (Greenhills market, San Juan). For upmarket
indigenous design visit revered jeweller Arnel Papa, whose materials may
include buffalo horn and ebony wood (Greenbelt 5, Makati).
Local hero Alice Blue soy candles capture the scent of sampaguita,
the Philippines’ national flower (Glorietta 3, Makati), while the omnipresent
SM (which stands for Shoemart) fits any tastepoint, from ballet flats to
nightclub dagger heels, at great prices (sm-shoemart.com).
Wild card Score a pre-loved, genuine-label handbag from Bagaholic.
Expect Chanel and Gucci with serial numbers if you can bear to carry last
year’s hottest tote (Almeda Arcade Building, Makati, bagaholic.com.ph).
DELHI
For breathtaking
colour and exotic motifs Indian shopping is in a league of its own, from haute
couture to Hindi kitsch.
Locals love Fiona Caulfield, author of India’s definitive shopping
guides including Love Delhi, tips three hot locales: Meharchand Market, Khan
Market and ShapurJat of Hauz Khas. “Snigdha Shekhar has created one of the
best interior and lifestyle stores in Delhi at Artisan Luxe,” she says.
(Meherchand Market, Lodhi Road.)
Must-visit Shop for
contemporary homewares at Khan Market’s Good Earth then take a break in its
excellent rooftop cafe, Latitude 28 (goodearth.in).
Local hero Bring India’s eye-popping colour home with beautiful
textiles: hunt down your wallet-friendly Indian wardrobe of cotton kurtas (long
shirts) and salwars (trousers) in Fabindia (Khan Market) or Anokhi (www.anokhi.com). Stay ahead of the pack at
Alecca Carrano’s Drawing Room for shawls and wraps (aleccacarrano.com).
Wild card “Run by the Crafts Council of India, Kamala is the
new face of craft in India. This beautifully curated collection is sourced
directly from artisans,” Caulfield says. “Superb shopping!” (craftscouncilofindia.org.)

BUENOS AIRES
Though dubbed
“the Paris of the Pampas”, the city maintains its own colourful
character, and those pampas turn out some mighty fine leather to boot. Or rug.
Or bag.
Locals love “Buenos Aires’ hottest spot to shop is jewellery
atelier Celedonio [Uraguay 1223, Recoleta],” trend hunter Lucia Radeljak
says. “Celedonio Lohidoy’s signature pieces are baroque necklaces with
precious stones and pearls. He has collaborated with international fashion
houses Kenzo and Ungaro, and his store is worth visiting for its garden
alone.”
Must-visit Hunters of antiques and atmosphere head to San Telmo
antique fair to scour old vinyls and snap up such must-haves as cobblers’ lasts
and local jewellery (Sundays, Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo).
Local hero The best cowhide rugs are Argentine: try Calma Chicha (calmachicha.com). Too heavy? Beautiful
leather bags are found at tiny Humawaca (humawaca.com).
Wild card Hit Av Suipacha, aka “sweater street”, and shop
for the lightest cashmere or pick up a pair of hand-made tango shoes on Av
Esmerelda, which runs parallel.
MARRAKESH
Breathe deeply and steel
yourself for a shopping extravaganza. Don’t rush at the first shop off the main
square, Djemma el-Fna. You’ll regret it.
Locals love Akbar Delights is pricey, but the fine embroidery and
detailed clothing are well worth it, says Marrakesh-based artist Dawn
Boys-Stone. Warda la Mouche (127 Rue Kennaria) is great for women’s and
children’s clothes in traditional Moroccan style with modern fabrics.
Must-visit Shoe lovers know that Atika crafts hand-made leather shoes
in classical Occidental styles (34 Rue de la Liberte, Gueliz).
Local hero Marrakesh’s antiques scene is fantastic. Try Mustapha
Blaoui (142-4 Rue Bab Doukkala).
Wild card Love leather? Go the ornate local leather slippers,
babouches, found on most street corners, in traditional yellow or every shade
of the rainbow.
JAKARTA
So close to us,
Jakarta remains a mystery for most. Persevere: it throws up seriously desirable
oddities, and its midnight mall sales are legendary.
Locals love “Otoko is a hidden gem of a boutique amongst all the
big malls in Jakarta,” says Susanna Perini, of Biasa.
“It stocks menswear only and presents a unique experience when you visit.
The store has great synergy … a sense of ‘quiet luxury’ with a sleek and
contemporary design.”
Must-visit Locals adore Jakarta’s malls and are serious international
label devotees, though even the biggies, such as Grand Indonesia (grand-indonesia.com), have Indonesian
Fashion Avenues for local designers. Geeks on a budget make for Ambassador
Mall.
Local hero The Bali-based Biasa label (biasabali.com)
serves up soft, deconstructed men’s and women’s fashion on Jalan Kemang,
Jakarta’s boutique strip, where you’ll also find local designers.
Wild card Visit the colourful bird market (Pasar Pramuka) and the
nearby antique market (Pasar Surabaya); you totally need that old map, stuffed
animal and brass betel nut-cracker.