Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue January 2012

Dear Friends,

 

We are welcoming in two "new years" in the month of January - 1st January that heralds the start of a brand new 2012, and January 23 that sees the arrival of the mighty Dragon to rule over the Chinese New Year, which will end on February 9, 2013. An auspicious sign indeed!

 

We take this opportunity to wish you "Happy New Year" and "Gong Xi Fa Cai". May the Dragon bring you good fortune, prosperity and robust health.

 

We also have lots of "New Year goodies" lined up for you - specially designed products that make for a wonderful holiday whether you want a family vacation, a romantic getaway with that special someone, an adrenaline filled adventure, an underwater rendezvous with creatures of the deep, or just chill in a nice hotel. We have lined them up in this first issue of TRAILBLAZER for 2012. (January-February).

 

Happy Trails!

 

Luzi A. Matzig

C E O

 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 

 

THAILAND

 

A note from Managing Director ROGER HAUMUELLER

Dear Friends,

First of all a Happy New Year to all of you! After accumulating some additional kilos during the festive season, we would like to introduce some of our new explore tours. They include a volunteer programme in north Thailand, as well as new biking tours in Chiang Mai and Pattaya, a fishing tour in Phuket and a half-day fitness programme in Bangkok.

Thailand is famous for its world class hospitals, and we have created a new three days Bangkok Meditour with a health check up at the Phayathai II Hospital.

Spring is also the time when numerous special events are held throughout the Kingdom. We have selected the most interesting festivals and events for you.

Happy reading!

Roger Haumueller

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

 

Asian Trails offers the following new tours in our tariff 2011/12

 

NEW VOLUNTEER PROGRAMME

 

Asian Trails, in corporation with Track of the Tiger and Volunteers Without Borders (a non-profit organisation), introduces the one-day tour programme - Sanpatong Home (Farm) Stay and/or Pang Soong Lodge. You get to explore the local community's life, spend the day working with local villagers and students on their plots, learn to cook lunch, and teach them simple English skills that are unavailable on conventional tour programmes.

The 4-day combination programme of both places is also available.

 

For more details please click here

 

COLOURS OF PATTAYA

 

A 4-hour bicycle tour riding through the north and  eastern part of Pattaya. You learn about and see parts of Pattaya's cultural background. Most of the route goes through almost traffic-free and quiet roads fringed by greenery.

 

From the starting point you follow the coastal road, along Wong-Amat and Palm Beach to arrive at Lanpho Nakluea where you visit the fish market. The ride continues through the old part of Nakluea and then cross Sukhumvit Road to Pattaya's countryside. Stops are made almost every hour for rest and to refresh with drinking water. If you like cycling and the outdoors this is definitely a tour you will enjoy.

 

For more details please click here

 

CHIANG MAI NIGHT RIDE

 

Explore alleyways of this old city to see the life of its people on a bicycle. The fun starts just after sunset from a tranquil park where locals practice tai chi exercise, then continues to ancient temples where their golden spires illuminate at night and a night market with various type of delicious local food.

 

During the ride you discover the charm of this ancient city. The ride is a perfect outing with family or friends who enjoy an easy 20km ride with snack breaks and beautiful sights along the way.

 

 

 

For more details please click here

 

FISHING TOUR IN PHUKET

 

Join this full day exciting and rewarding experience on game fishing on the Andaman Sea. The knowledgeable captain and crew on board the high quality local fishing boat will make this fishing trip a highlight of your holiday.

 

 

 

For more details please click here

 

3-DAY HEALTH CHECK-UP PACKAGE AT PHAYATHAI II HOSPITAL

 

The Phayathai II Hospital offers the most modern technology and equipment plus experienced doctors. With early diagnosis most illnesses can be cured with not too much disruption to a normal healthy life. This is the reason behind Asian Trails' design of the Meditour Package. We want to encourage holiday-makers to visit Bangkok and have a health check-up at the city's selected award winning hospitals.

 

The package includes a designated health check-up program in hospitals with multi-lingual staff who provides a coordinated service on all the procedures.

 

 

GET FIT WITH MISS FITNESS ASIA

 

This is a fun and educational half-day programme suitable for anyone interested in getting a great workout while learning new training techniques from Khun Sing, Thailand's most renowned fitness professional and pro-athlete. She was the first place champion of  Miss Fitness Asia in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Khun Sing will adapt the exercise's intensity to skill level and age of the participants. The programme is operated from Mondays - Fridays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

BANGKOK

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BANGKOK

 

Thailand's and Southeast Asia's first Holiday Inn Express hotel is scheduled to open in early 2012. The 300-room hotel is conveniently located in downtown Bangkok, just steps away from the National Stadium Skytrain Station, MBK Shopping Centre, Siam Paragon and Jim Thompson Thai house. It features a standard meeting room, self-service business centre, and the Great Room with the Express Breakfast Bar that has a Grab & Go counter.

 

For more details please click here

 

 

PHUKET

KATATHANI PHUKET

 

During last year's low season Katathani invested over USD1 million to improve and upgrade the property. The new design exhibits a flare of oriental elegance by fusing exquisite colours and lines. The new Kid's Club is a third bigger with an outdoor playground, new toys and edutainment games to ensure that the children will have a fabulous time. There was overwhelmingly positive response from guests on their initial inspection of the upgraded property.

 

For more details please click here

 

 

PHI PHI

PHI PHI ISLAND VILLAGE RESORT

 

Phi Phi Island Resort occupies the full 800 metre of Lo Ba Goa Bay with white sandy beach. It offers 112 villas, four restaurants, two bars, a spa, a fitness centre, and a dive and activity centre. There are sun lounges along the foreshore and a beach bar for guests to order a favourite cocktail whilst taking in the spectacular views.

 

The resort will undergo a name change on November 1, 2012 when it will be rebranded as Outrigger Phi Phi Island Resort & Spa. Until then it will continue to operate under its current name.

 

For more details please click here

 

 

KHAO LAK

LE MERIDIEN KHAO LAK BEACH & SPA RESORT

 

The construction of the 23 villas of Le Residences, located next to Le Meridien Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort's family complex has been completed. Furnishings of the villas and gardening works are currently being carried out, but there is minimal noise or disturbance to the guests. The resort has reopened the Deluxe Rooms and Premium Rooms in the Family plus Pool Villas for guests' stay.

 

 

For more details please click here

 

 

Kanchanaburi

float house river kwai

 

Float House River Kwai sits on a magnificent part of River Kwai, one of the worldÂ’s historical rivers.  The resort is made of teakwood and bamboo, and furnished with wooden furniture and equipped with a broad range of services and facilities.  It has 10 elegant boutique-floating villas (89sqm/villa), which are tastefully decorated in Thai folk style design with teakwood furniture enhancing the comfort and harmony with nature.  Each villa features private balcony and pier where you can relax and be impressed by the beautiful ambience.  All the rooms are connected with spacious common space. The floating lobby and restaurant are in the middle of the floating villas for easy access to all guests.   

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

JANUARY 23, 2012

VENUE: YAOWARAJ, BANGKOK

 

Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first day of Chinese Lunar calendar. It is commonly known as Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival. Thai people of Chinese origin celebrate the New Year with reunion dinners, visits to each other's homes and merry making. The local Chinese community also organises colourful processions and dragon dances as a part of the celebrations.

 

 

SILVERLAKE MUSIC FESTIVAL

JANUARY 28, 2012

VENUE: SILVERLAKE VINEYARD, PATTAYA

 

This first world-class musical performance will be held on Saturday, January 28 at Silverlake Vinery, Pattaya. Organised by Silverlake Entertainment Company Limited, the highly celebrated and trusted name in show business, the festival guarantees to deliver a soul-imprinting light and sound experience.

 

Surrounded by Pattaya's picturesque hills and lakes this is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to be part of the historic musical event, which features artists of all genres from United States, Europe, Asia and Thailand.

 

For more details please click here

 

KHON KAEN INTERNATIONAL MARATHON #9

JANUARY 29, 2012

VENUE: KHON KAEN UNIVERSITY, KHON KAEN

 

The marathon comprising a full marathon, half-marathon and mini-marathon, starts and finishes at the Golden Jubilee Convention Hall, Khon Kaen University. The scenic loop course passes academic areas, and through cultural and ethnic communities.

 

The race is officially sanctioned by the Association of International Marathons and Road Races (AIMS) and the Athletic Association of Thailand (IAAF Rules).

 

For more information contact Alumni Association of Khon Kaen University or Tourism Authority of Thailand, Khon Kaen office tel: 0 4324 4498-9

 

For more details please click here

 

SOUTH EAST ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL

FEBRUARY 2-5, 2012

VENUE: PAYAP UNIVERSITY MAE KHAO CAMPUS, CHIANG MAI

 

The South East Asian Institute of Global Studies (SEAIGS) is organising the second Lifescapes Southeast Asian Film Festival at Payap University on February 2-5. The festival screens contemporary films - documentary, docu-drama, or dramatised - to showcase thoughtful work with a social conscience.

 

The festival hopes to raise awareness of film culture and filmmakers of mainland Southeast Asia who make meaningful social commentary with their work - showing the beautiful without flinching from grim reality.

 

For more details please click here

 

CHIANG MAI FLOWER FESTIVAL 2012

FEBRUARY 4-6, 2012

VENUE: SUAN BUAK HAAD PARK, THA PAE GATE PLAZA & NAWARAT BRIDGE

 

During the first week of February Chiang Mai will be covered with the sweet fragrance of flowers from the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Held annually at Suan Buak Haad the festival is into its 35th year.

 

The festival features a grand showcase of flowers and a magnificent parade of traditional and contemporary floral art and Lanna cultural spectacle. The parade is renowned for its spectacular display of beautifully decorated sculptures of temples, animals, and scenes from Ramayana (epic of Hindu God). Visitors will also be thrilled by the colourful and fragrant floral display, which consists of more than 200 species of orchid, rare roses, and yellow and white chrysanthemums.

 

 

KING NARAI REIGN FAIR

LIGHT AND SOUND SHOW

FEBRUARY 12-22, 2012

VENUE: PHRA NARAI RATCHANIVET PALACE, LOPBUR

 

King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya ruled the country from 1656 to 1688. During his reign he encouraged diplomatic relations between Thailand (or Siam, as it was known then) and several European countries.

 

The fair, which takes place on the ruins of his palace, is a commemoration to the King. It features spectacular processions, a light and sound show, folk entertainment and local handicrafts. While in Lopburi, a couple hours north of Bangkok, make sure you visit the Monkey Temple in the middle of town, which is an ancient monument filled with local primates.

 

 

PHUKET INTERNATIONAL BLUES ROCK FESTIVAL

FEBRUARY 23-26, 2012

VENUE: LAGUNA PHUKET, PHUKET

 

The 2012 Phuket International Blues Rock Festival will take place over the last weekend in February as in the past. In addition to Chris Thomas King, the line-up will once again by truly global with artists from USA, Europe, Asia and Australia. Returning by popular demand are artistes who include Rich Harper (USA), Akasha (Malaysia) and John Meyer's Blues Express (Australia).  Proceeds from this charity event will be donated to Patong Beach Rotary Club's children's education fund.

 

 

PHANGAN FILM FESTIVAL

FEBRUARY 24-26, 2012

VENUE: HOLIDAY BEACH RESORT, KOH PHANGAN, SURATTHANI

 

The Phangan Film Festival grew out of a pure love for meaningful independent filmmaking. The organisers are world travellers who rejoice in the cross-cultural expansion that subtly transforms all those who wander far and wide, and we embrace film as a medium for this soul-level evolution. They are committed to providing the local community, as well as travellers to Koh Phangan with a diverse presentation of high-quality independent films from around the world. The festival themes are nature and spirit, which are relevant to the island and the planet at large.

 

For more details please click here

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

NOK AIR EXTENDS OPERATIONS FROM SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT

 

Nok Air is extending its current flight operations from Suvarnabhumi Airport to 15 destinations until January 31, 2012 as Don Muang Airport will remain closed until December. Passengers can check the flight schedule at www.nokair.com

 

 

 

 

THAI AIRASIA UPS MACAU SERVICES

 

Thai AirAsia has increased its daily flights to Macau from three to four from December 27, 2011 to accommodate higher traffic demand during the peak season. The extra flight, FD3604, departs Bangkok at 1445hr and arrives in Macau at 1820hr. The return flight departs at 1855hr and arrives in Bangkok at 2055hr.

 

 

JETAIRFLY LAUNCHES BRUSSELS-PHUKET SERVICE

 

Jetairfly has launched a direct flight between Brussels (Belgium) and Phuket. The weekly service departs Brussels on Sunday morning, arriving at Phuket's international airport at 7:15pm. The airline flies direct to Phuket, then on to Bangkok.

 

 

 

 

PRE-ORDER INFLIGHT MEALS ON THAI AIRWAYS

 

Thai Airways is now offering Pre-Order In-flight Meal Service for Royal Silk Class to enhance passengers' satisfaction. The service is available only for orders of hot meals on flights from Bangkok to Europe. Passengers have to pre-order the in-flight meals 24 hours in advance through the airline's website at www.thaiairways.com

 

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

WELCOME BACK CLAUDIO!

 

After an absence of nine months Claudio Kellenberger, our former General Manager in Vietnam, has returned to Asian Trails.  Claudio started work as Deputy Managing Director in Thailand on January 3.  A warm welcome to Claudio to the "Land of Smiles"!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye Bye Alexis

 

We wish to inform you with regrets that Alexis Viols, Manager Inbound for Asian Trails Thailand, is leaving the company after four years with us. We thank Alexis for his contributions to Asian Trails Thailand, and wish him lots of success for the future. In the interim, Claudio Kellenberger will be directly in charge of the inbound department in addition to his responsibilities as Deputy Managing Director in Thailand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LAOS

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJOERN SCHIMANSKI

 

Dear Partners and Friends

 

First of all I would like to take the opportunity to wish all our partners and friends a happy and successful new year! 2011 has been a stable year for us in Laos without major incidents, and we hope to keep it this way for 2012!

 

On a personal note, this is my first newsletter as Managing Director for Asian Trails Laos, and I must say that I am very excited about this new challenge and look forward to continue working with all of you!

 

Björn Schimanski

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

NEW TOUR  -  BOLOVEN PLATEAU AND SOUTH MEKONG VALLEY

 

7 Days Vientiane -  Pakze - Tadlo - Boloven Plateau - Don Khone - 4,000 Islands - Vat Phou - Pakze: Tour includes two nights at the new Sinouk Garden Resort located in the middle of coffee plantations amidst a beautiful garden. Learn about Lao coffee's history and production. Also includes light trekking and an elephant ride in Taldo, discovery by boat of the 4,000 Islands and watching the Irrawaddy dolphins, if you are lucky.

 

Please contact us for the detailed programme and rates.

 

 

 

TIP OF THE MONTH - NEW FAMILY TOUR

 

4 Days/3 Nights Family Tour to Luang Prabang

  • Stay in a beautiful house with full services and a gorgeous swimming pool

  • Cruise on the Mekong River, swim in the Kuangsy Falls' natural pools, enjoy an elephant ride

  • Watch the Lao dances and music show during dinner at Roots & Leaves

Lots of family fun in just a few days

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

HOTEL DE LA PAIX LUANG PRABANG

 

Built on a heritage site in Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, Hotel de la Paix Luang Prabang fuses colonial charm with contemporary elegance in one of the finest luxury all-suite resorts in the region.

 

This city resort is built on the site of a 100-year old fort, with the original buildings restored to the French colonial style of the last century. Large courtyards, landscaped gardens, reflecting pool and fireplaces provide a welcome retreat in all seasons.

 

The 23 spacious suites create sanctuaries of private space and sumptuous comfort, each with their own secluded outdoor garden area in the rear, and a front terrace overlooking a large landscaped garden area in the central courtyard. Four of these suites also include a private 7x2.6m long swimming pool.

 

 

SATRI HOUSE RELAIS & CHATEAUX - LUANG PRABANG

 

Located in the heart of Luang Prabang, Satri House was built in the late 19th century and was the home of Prince Souphanouvong. After extensive renovation and the addition of new rooms and a second swimming pool, Satri House is now affiliated with Relais & Chateaux, sign of quality and guarantee of very good service. It offers 22 rooms and junior suites, as well as three tastefully decorated suites in the original house

 

 

 

SINOUK COFFEE LODGE  - BOLOVEN PLATEAU

 

Also know as Le Chalet, this lovely resort is a mix of Lao and Western style. It offers nine rooms in two buildings, a restaurant and terrace overlooking a small creek, surrounded by a beautifully manicured garden and a very large coffee plantation.

 

Built at an attitude of about 1,000 metres Sinouk Coffee Lodge enjoys a very pleasant climate and deserves at least two nights' stay

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

LA SIGNATURE RESTAURANT AT ANSARA HOTEL - VIENTIANE

 

Located in the heart of Vientiane, just a few minutes walk from Vientiane's main central hotels and behind Vat Ongteu Temple, La Signature Restaurant is one of the finest in Vientiane

 

This elegant restaurant is on the upper floor of the Ansara Hotel's main building and is managed by a young French chef. The air-conditioned dining rooms and the open-air ground floor terrace offer a comfortable and quiet ambiance. It offers a wide choice of set menu and a la carte dishes at reasonable prices.

 

Bon Appetit! and Chokdee Pimai (Happy New Year!)

 

 

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CAMBODIA

 

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR JACQUES GUICHANDUT

 

The year 2011 has come to a close and it was as good as expected. We hope 2012 will be more successful.

 

My supportive Cambodian team and I wish all of you a healthy and peaceful New Year 2012.

 

Happy New Year - Chaul Chnam Thmey!

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

GLOBAL HERITAGE FUND PROJECT IN BANTEAY CHHMAR

 

The Global Heritage Fund (GHF) is an American-British NGO dedicated to protecting endangered cultural sites in the developing world. It has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture & Fine Arts, and has been supporting and funding the Banteay Chhmar Community Based Tourism group since 2009.

 

Update on road conditions after flooding: The road from Sisophon to Banteay Chhmar is still badly damaged by flooding in different places. If you wish to visit Banteay Chhmar and Thmor Puok take the alternative route from Oddar Meanchey to Banteay Chhmar. A 4WD car is recommended, and the journey from Siem Reap is about three hours.

 

 

BOKOR MOUNTAIN ACCESSIBLE DAILY

 

Bokor Mountain (1,101m) is not a place to be missed when travelling through Cambodia for many reasons - the journey through scenic landscape, the scenery, the cool mountain air and the sense of adventure. Or if you just want to relax in a tranquil environment. There are now more reasons to visit it as the mountain, which was opened to the public only during holidays, is now accessible daily.

 

The access to the mountain is through a new well-paved road surrounded by beautiful scenery. On top of the mountain are the remains of an abandoned ancient town, ruins of a church and palaces of the former king. The view is spectacular and you can see southern Cambodia and Vietnam from the summit.

 

Development is underway to turn the area into a resort. About a year ago construction started on resort facilities that include the Bokor Resort, Bokor Fantasyland, Buddha Religion Land, Bokor Golf Course, Bokor Casino and recreational facilities that include bungee jumping. Stay tuned for progress of these developments in the coming years!

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

PHNOM PENH CITY TOUR ON CAMBODIA'S FIRST ENGLISH BUS

 

A unique bus tour of Phnom Penh with a difference - from a double-decker English bus that is the first of its kind in Cambodia. With a view from the "top" take in the sight of the beautiful gardens of the Royal Palace, the terraces of the flats facing the riverside and the principal buildings of the city.

 

The tour city is about one to two hours, depending on request. The bus is also available for hire for a night tour of the city.

 

 

NEW REGULATIONS FOR BAKHENG HILL TEMPLE

 

New regulations have come into force at the Bakheng Hill Temple. Now the number of visitors allowed to climb up to the temple is limited to 300 maximum at a time, from the 3,000 previously. Opening hours are from 5.30am to 5.30pm daily. The regulations are to protect the temple during the construction period estimated to be about six years.

 

Southern (for climbing up) and Northern (for getting down) wooden staircases are currently being built for safer climbing. Tourists have to temporarily use the Eastern staircase for climbing up, and Western staircase for getting down the hill.

 

Foreign language-speaking guards are assigned at the park to assist tourists and to give them relevant information. A sign with the new regulations has been put up

 

 

BETTER VISITORS' MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY AT ANGKOR

 

The Angkor temples are using a device for better management of visitors. It enables the thousands of foreign tourists to visit the sites in a more managed way.

 

With this technology a tour guide can manage a larger group easily. Multiple groups are also able to use the system without interference. This one-to-one communication experience allows the visitor to focus on his main interests at the temple. Hopefully, this device will end the usual shouting.

 

 

DIVING OFF THE GULF OF SIHANOUKVILLE

 

Cambodia is Asia's newest and undiscovered diving location. However, international exposure on its diving potential has attracted diving enthusiasts and underwater photographers from all over the world to the dive sites.

 

Recommended is the beautiful island of Koh Rong Samlom, which has a dive centre and is a two-hour boat ride from Sihanoukville. Here you can dive, snorkel, trek in the jungle or just relax on the deserted beach.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

 

PHNOM PENH

NAME CHANGE FOR CASTLE HOTEL

 

The former Castle Hotel recently changed its name to Ohana Hotel. Apart from the name there are no other changes in the hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

VILLA SAMNANG, VOGUISH BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

The 14-room Villa Samnang boutique hotel is a new addition to the Phnom Penh hospitality environment. Centrally located, the hotel is at a short walk from the city's vibrant shopping and entertainment districts.

 

Every detail of the hotel has been thought out to make your stay as comfortable and soothing as possibly. The 14 stylish rooms are all equipped with one or two double beds, polished-cement concrete furniture and a large working desk. The small bedside tables are painted in red, which alter the room's general design. There is also a big pool for guests' use.

 

 

 

KEP

SARAVOAN HOTEL (FORMER STAR INN HOTEL)

 

Saravoan-Kep Hotel is just 20 metres from Kep Beach and a five-minute tuk-tuk ride from the nearest seafood restaurants and the Crab Market.

 

This hillside property offers rooms with sea or pool views. Fitted with wooden furniture and stone walls, the air-conditioned rooms have a flat-screen cable TV and tea/coffee making facilities. A fan and mosquito nets are also provided. Each room has a private bathroom with a hot shower. Facilities include an outdoor pool, restaurant, and free WiFi throughout the hotel. Guests can enjoy a relaxing massage or take a dip in the pool, which overlooks the sea. Saravoan Restaurant, opened for all-day dining, serves Khmer, Chinese, and Western dishes.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

CHILDREN OF BASSAC PERFORMING SEASON BEGINS

 

The second annual Children of Bassac performing season began in December 2011. This talented troupe of young dancers, who toured the U.S. last spring, is performing every Thursday in front of the National Museum until April 26, 2012.

 

The performance is part of the goal to create self-sustaining professional troupes, which help build the capacity of artists and also increase the availability of high quality arts programming to the Cambodian public and international visitors.

 

 

VICTORY DAY OVER GENOCIDE REGIME

JANUARY 7, 2012

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

This national holiday commemorates Vietnamese-backed troops taking the capital from the Khmer Rouge in 1979. It marks the end of the Khmer Rouge regime after their defeat to the Vietnamese. The day also honours those who lost their lives in the genocide and who sacrificed their lives in restoring peace to the country. Colourful ceremonies are held at the Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach).

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

JANURY 23, 2012

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

Chinese New Year 2012, the "Year of the Dragon", falls on January 23. The Dragon is the most auspicious animal in the Chinese zodiac. People born under this sign have many traits - both good and not so good. They are believed to be popular, full of life and enthusiasm, fun loving, healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, stubborn and have a "big mouth" at times. They are also honest, sensitive, brave, and inspire confidence and trust. Those born under this sign are well suited to be an artist, priest, or politician. The Dragon is compatible with people born under the sign of the Rat, Snake, Monkey and Rooster.

 

 

MEAK BOCHEA DAY

FEBRUARY 7, 2012

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

 

Meak Bochea Day is an important Buddhist celebration, which marks a spontaneous gathering of 1,250 monks to listen to Buddha's sermons. The gathering is attributed to four miracles occurring nine months after Buddha's enlightenment, on the day of the full moon during the third lunar month. At this miraculous gathering Buddha preached a seminal sermon outlining the principles upon which Buddhism philosophy is founded.

 

Today Meak Bochea is a colourful festival with monks gathering at the temples and praying from Buddhist scriptures. The wats (pagodas) are filled with Cambodians who come to pray and make offerings of food to the monks.

 

 

ANGKOR WAT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

FEBRUARY 17-19, 2012

VENUE: SOFITEL ANGKOR PHOKEETHRA GOLF & SPA RESORT, SIEM REAP

 

The mission of the Angkor Wat International Film Festival is to showcase and celebrate feature films, documentaries and short subjects, both live action and animated, created in digital or film media, whose subjects and themes deal with the preservation of culture and environment.

 

An educational component is also an integral part of the festival's mission. There are free showing of select Cambodian and International films to the local Cambodian people to expose them to cinema from their own countrymen, as well as international cinema and the people and cultures of the world.

 

The festival is sponsored by Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort in Siem Reap, and it will host the event. The festival's organisers will give all proceeds and donations to children's charity in Cambodia.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

MYANMAR AIRWAYS  FLIES TO PHNOM PENH

 

Myanmar Airways International (MAI) has expanded its services to Cambodia since the beginning of November 2011. Its twice-weekly Yangon-Siem Reap flights, launched in January 23, 2011, has been extended to serve Phnom Penh. The adjusted Yangon-Siem Reap-Phnom Penh service is on MAI's new 220-seat Airbus A321 aircraft, which was delivered last October. Foreigners arriving on MAI's flights from Cambodia to Yangon are eligible for Visa-on-Arrival (VOA).

 

 

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VIETNAM

 

A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

 

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

 

While you are returning to the normal pace of work and life after a wonderful time celebrating Christmas and welcoming in the New Year, here in Vietnam we are sipping the flavours of the coming Tet holidays, which falls on January 23!

 

Travelling to Vietnam during Tet is a great way to experience the country's age-old traditions and customs. Visitors get to taste the best local dishes that are not prepared on normal days, such as confit and jam, sticky rice cake and many more. Equally enchanting is the festive atmosphere, with beautiful cherry blossoms, flowers on the streets and in every house. Houses are repainted and children wear new clothes as everything must be fresh in the New Year.

 

Travelling during Tet, whether by air or train, will be more difficult as thousands of Vietnamese will be travelling back to their hometowns and villages to celebrate this important festival. The heaviest traffic is from the south to the north of the country, not the other way, and normally lasts 10 days before and after Tet.

 

The work rhythm throughout the country slows down during Tet, which may affect visa application. Thus, all visa requests for Vietnam within two weeks before and after Tet must be sent to us as soon as possible.

 

In Vietnam tourism a number of new developments are taking place in 2012. We invite you to discover them in this issue of TRAILBLAZER.

 

We wish you a new year of good health and prosperity! Chuc Mung Nam Moi An Khang Thinh Vuong!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

VIETNAM - WORLD CLASS GOLFING DESTINATION

 

Vietnam is gaining fame as a world class golfing destinations with products and services to meet the needs of even the most discerning golfers - from beautifully designed golf courses at spectacular locations to upgraded service. Golfers can tee off from Hanoi to Central Danang-Hoi An, up in the French hill station in Dalat or on the beaches of Nha Trang and Mui Ne beaches. There is so much choice and diversity for the golfers.

 

Recently the Dunes Course, designed by golf legend Greg Norman, at Danang Golf Club was accorded the "Best New Course in Asia Pacific" by the 12th Asian Golf Monthly Awards, widely regarded as the region's golfing Oscars. Launched in May 2010 the Dunes Course is a collection of 18 rugged, seaside holes, which crisscross a sand-based landscape similar to the coastal terrain of Scotland, golf's birthplace. This award once again reaffirms Vietnam as one of the best golfing destinations in the region.

 

 

DAK LAK MUSEUM OPENS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

 

A new museum has opened in Dak Lak province, which claims to be the largest museum in Vietnam's central highlands.

 

Dak Lak Museum was established with assistance from French museum experts in partnership with the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. The design of the museum is based on a traditional longhouse of the E De ethnic minority.

 

The museum covers an area of 9,200 square metres. It includes three display areas divided into major themes of biodiversity, national culture and history. Apart from boasting as the largest museum in the highlands, it is also the first museum to exhibit in four languages - French; English; Vietnamese and E De

 

The new museum is expected to attract both domestic and foreign visitors interested in the ethnic minorities in Dak Lak province, located 1,410km from Hanoi and 320km from Ho Chi Minh City.

 

 

TAM GIANG LAGOON, HUE'S WETLAND ATTRACTION

 

Tam Giang-Cau Hai is a system of five lagoons interconnected and stretched from the northern to southern most of TT-Hue province. It claims to be an important wetland rich in tourism potential thanks to high biodiversity and scenic landscape. Recently, some community based ecotourism initiatives have been implemented and brought fruits of success. The provincial and local tourism stakeholders believe the lagoon has a huge potential to offer explorers a new experience.

 

New tourist services and facilities are being developed in a sustainable manner and to preserve cultural integrity. Tourists to the area may discover a typical way of life of the lagoon people with some still living in stilt houses and raising shrimps and crabs for a living.  Activities for visitors include fishing on the lagoon using traditional techniques, visiting a handicraft shop and "nuoc mam" (fish sauce) factory, and exploring the country road set parallel between sand dunes and lagoons. The excursion's highlight is a visit to the "ghost city" where temples for the dead are grander than the homes of living people.

 

 

DANANG AIRPORT'S NEW TERMINAL OPENS

 

The Central Region Airports Corporation opened the new terminal of Danang International Airport on December 15, 2011 to serve both domestic and international flights. It has three floors and one basement. The check-in area has 36 counters and other facilities.

 

The new terminal is located in Hai Chau District, five kilometres from the city's centre. It is designed to handle five million passengers and one million tons of cargoes per year in the initial period. The capacity will increase to serve six to eight million passengers per year by 2015.

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

DAY CRUISE ON HALONG BAY WITH WOW

 

Most luxury boats in Halong Bay focus only on overnight cruises. Now visitors who want to on a day cruise can do so with Wow Cruise, which is launching the service this month (January) with its new fleet of boats - Wow Premium, Wow Authentic and Wow Signature. All the wooden junks are designed in time-honoured traditional style, with contemporary and luxurious cabins and facilities.

 

 

 

LUXURY CRUISE ON THE JAHAN

 

The Jahan is the newest member of the Mekong River Boat Collection, and a baby brother to the famous Jayavarman. The company's new flagship brings river cruising on the Mekong River into a new realm. The singular touches of a luxury boutique hotel, the leisurely pace of a river cruise, and the opportunity to collect new experiences, are the signature style of Jayavarman.

 

The boat has 26 cabins, designed with distinctive British Indian colonial theme design. All cabins have a private balcony, or balcony with jacuzzi for suite room. This first boutique style river cruise liner is a great product for couples and small groups to explore the Mekong in great comfort and with superb service.

 

 

UP CLOSE WITH ARTISTS AT  HAM LONG ARTS VILLAGE

 

Located close to the south bank of the Saigon River, Ham Long Arts Village is an initiative of a group of 33 artists belonging to the Ho Chí Minh City Fine Art Association.

 

Each plot of land in the village belongs to an artist and each house is built in a different architectural style, representing or reflecting a specific cultural tradition. The residence of artist Le Dình Trieu is a reconstructed Stieng ethnic minority house; Hoai Huong's is a miniature replica of a Hue Royal palace; To Nga's recreates the architecture of ancient Hoi An; Duong Dình Hung's is a 100 year-old house from Hue transported tand rebuilt at the site.

 

Ham Long is projected to be a focal point for visual arts development where artists can meet and exchange experiences, and visitors can purchase works of art created here. An excursion to this unique arts village is an unforgettable experience, providing an opportunity to interact with the resident artists.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

CHEZ CAROLE RESORT

 

This luxury boutique beach resort in Cua Can Beach (Phu Quoc Island) opened in December 2010. Located 14km from Duong Dong town in the north of Phu Quoc Island, Chez Carole Resort has the best landscape on the island and is the perfect getaway for relaxation.

 

The resort offers 10 sea-facing bungalows and a restaurant that accommodates up to 500 persons, and water sport facilities.

 

 

HOTEL NIKKO SAIGON OPENS

 

After three years' construction Hotel Nikko Saigon opened in mid-December 2011,e catering to both business and leisure travellers. It is located in a large, newly developed commercial complex, Royal Centre Project, on Nguyen Van Cu Street in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1.

 

The property has 334 rooms, suites and 53 serviced apartments in a 23-storey building. Facilities include La Brasserie for all-day dining, Ming Court for Chinese cuisine, the Lounge, banquet rooms, business centre, spa, pool and fitness club.

 

 

NEW - NAM B BOUTIQUE HOTEL

 

The Nam Bộ Boutique Hotel is an all-suite hotel located right in the centre of the Ninh Kiều pier in Cần Thơ, a stone's throw away from every river transport, and affords a panoramic view of the Mekong River.

 

The hotel has only seven suites, all uniquely designed and has flat screen TV, Internet access, minibar and amenities befitting a hotel of this standard. It has a restaurant and Jazz bar with a view of the Mekong. With its round-the-clock boutique service, the Nam Bộ Boutique Hôtel is a destination of choice for leisure and business travellers alike.

 

 

A MELIA HOTEL FOR DANANG

 

On November 18, 2011 the leading hotel management group, Melia Hotels International, signed an agreement with Sao Viet Company Limited (Vistar) to manage the Melia Danang Hotel at Non Nuoc Beach. This beach has been chosen by Forbes Magazine as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world.

 

The Melia Danang Hotel will have 330 rooms, 35 villas and a 700-seat convention hall. It will offer guests the opportunity to travel in speed boats to explore and dive among the magical corals off Danang.The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2012.

 

 

HYATT REGENCY DANANG RESORT & SPA OPENS

 

Newly opened Hyatt Regency Danang Resort & Spa is located between Hoi An and Danang, and about 15 minutes by car from Danang International Airport. It is situated on a stretch of beach with a view of the ocean and the Marble Mountains.

 

The hotel's 200 guestrooms feature modern designs with oversized balconies and floor to ceiling windows. There are 182 luxurious residences and 27 private Ocean Villas, each with a private pool.

 

Facilities include several bars and restaurants, extensive meeting and event function rooms, wellness spa, fitness centre, swimming pools, tennis courts and badminton courts. It also has a Camp Hyatt, which offers a wide range of activities for children and younger guests.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

TET LUNAR NEW YEAR FLOWER FESTIVAL 2012

JANUARY 18-28, 2012

VENUE: CONG TRUONG QUOC TE (TURTLE POND), DISTRICT 3 & TAO DAN PARK, DISTRICT 1,

 

This annual colourful flower street festival consists of exhibition zones of bonsai, flower, artistic rocks and aquariums that are works of artisans nationwide. The event also includes several cultural and artistic activities, including traditional art performances, folk games, a human chess contest, calligraphy, paintings and food stalls.

 

In addition, the city's People's Committee will open four flower markets at city landmark parks, featuring 1,400 booths together with 56 other flower spots across the city. They will operate from January 16 to midnight January 22 so city residents can shop for flowers and plants to decorate their homes for Tet, which is celebrated on January 23.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

VIETNAM AIRLINES INCREASES DOMESTIC FARES

 

National flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, increased its airfares on domestic routes by up to 15%-20% from December 15, 2011.

 

The new fares are determined by five different distances, with up to 20% increase for economy class and 5% for business class. The increase  on high-demand routes between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and Danang increased by 15%, and on other short routes by 20%.

 

We have contacted concerned travel agents individually on this new develoment and to find solutions. Please do not heisitate to contact us for more information.

 

 

AIR MEKONG ADDS NEW ROUTES

 

Air Mekong starts a three times weekly service between Pleiku in Vietnam's central highlands to Vinh on the northern coast from December 1, 2011. The service uses a 90-seat Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft, flying Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Flight departs Pleiku at 1700hr and arrives in Vinh at 1815hr. The return flight departs at 1845hr and arrives at 2000hr.

 

Pleiku is located at the junction of several national highways and 430km from the border with Cambodia. It was important during Vietnam War as the main base to defend the highland region.

 

Vinh, 265 km from Hanoi, is a coastal town famous for white beaches particularly along Cua Lo Bay, and is popular with domestic tourists, but very few foreign tourists visit the area.

 

 

VIETJET AIR STARTS OPERATIONS

 

After months of speculation low cost carrier, VietJet Air, has finally started operations. The fourth airline in Vietnam, VietJet Air is the first private carrier in the country to fly domestic and international routes.

 

The airline launched four daily flights between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on December 25, 2011. Flight to Danang will commence in early 2012 and routes between Vietnam and the rest of Asia will be launched later the same year.

 

The airline will soon expand to foreign destinations that include Macau, Singapore, Hong Kong and various locations in Japan, China and South Korea. To meet this expansion, the carrier plans to increase its current fleet of three newly purchased Airbus A320 aircraft to 12 by October 2014.

 

 

AIR AUSTRALIA PLANS VIETNAM SERVICES

 

New low-cost carrier, Air Australia, is seeking permission to operate flights to Vietnam from Australian major cities starting March 2012.

 

The Brisbane-based airline plans to operate four flights per week from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. The carrier said, in its application to the International Air Services Commission, that its capacity would be fully utilised by February 2013.

 

Two Vietnamese carriers, Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific, are currently operating flights between Australia and Vietnam.

 

 

UKRAINE AIRLINES' DIRECT KIEV-HCMC SERVICE

 

Aerosvit Airlines, Ukraine's national flag carrier, launched twice-weekly direct flghts between Ho Chi Minh City and Kiev on December 23, 2011.

 

As a special promotion Aerosvit Airlines is offering round-trip tickets for the route for as low as VND12 million, including taxes and fees. From Kiev, the airline soffer a number of connections to other major destinations in Europe.

 

 

SICHUAN AIRLINES FLIES TO VIETNAM

 

Chengdu-based state owned Chinese carrier, Sichuan Airlines, has been appointed an official agent in Vietnam. The airline has two weekly flights from  Chengdu to Ho Chi Minh City, on Mondays and Thursdays, using the Airbus A 32aircraft. The flight departs Chengdu at 1125hr and arrives in Ho Chi Minh at 1550hr. The return flight to Chengdu leaves at 1650hr and arrives at 2315hr

 

Chengdu is the gateway to many tourist attractions in China. This connection makes a combined Ho Chi Minh-Chengdu holiday package more convenient.

 

 

ASIANA AIRLINES LAUNCHES SEOUL-DANANG  FLIGHT

 

South Korea's Asiana Airlines launched twice-weekly direct Seoul-Danang service on December 14, 2011. This is first direct flight from Seoul's Incheon International Airport to the  Danang in Vietnam's central coast.

 

Asiana Airlines operates under its parent company, Kumho Asiana Group.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

BARBECUE IN THE SKY

 

Want to enjoy a feast while taking in a panoramic view? Then the barbecue atop Danang's tallest building - HAGL Plaza Danang Hotel - is a must. The venue is the Sky View Lounge on the 23rd floor, the perfect vantage point for viewing the Han River, Danang Beach and the entire central coast city.

 

The barbecue is on every Friday and Saturday from 6pm-9pm. Price is US$16.80 for adults and $14.40 for children. The restaurant is extending its hours of business to cater to the extra traffic during the festive season.

 

 

LY CLUB RESTAURANT OPENS IN HO CHI MINH CITY

 

Set in an early 20th century French villa Ly Club takes its name from the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225), one of Vietnam's most glorious periods of cultural and artistic development. Drawing inspiration from its namesake the establishment combines Asian sensibility with modern style serving innovative cuisine from the east and west, all inspired by executive chef Dessi de Vries.

 

Attention to detail is characterised by the interior decor, from decorative chrysanthemum patterns to a portrait of soprano Lina Cavalieri, by 20th century Milanese painter Piero Fornasetti, and oil and lacquer paintings by contemporary Vietnamese artists.

 

Ly Club is located at 143 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 3 on the way from airport to downtown. It is opened daily from 11am to 11pm for lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. It also has space for events.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

NEW APPOINTMENTS AT ASIAN TRAILS VIETNAM

 

Mrs. Minh Phuong, former Deputy Manager Inbound (pictured left), has been promoted as Kuoni Manager effective December 1, 2011. She has been working with Asian Trails since 2002. In her new position Ming will coordinate and supervise the whole Kuoni account and be responsible for the smooth running of this department. She leads a team of six Kuoni Inbound staff.

 

 

 

 

 

Ms. Dinh Thi Thanh Chau (pictured left), replaces Mrs. Minh Phuong as Deputy Manager Inbound. She brings with her a wealth of experience, having work in the travel industry since 1993. We warmly welcome Chau to our team and are happy to have her onboard.

 

We wish both Minh and Chau all the best, great success and fulfilment in their new roles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

INDIA HELPS IN MY SON'S RESTORATION

 

India is helping Vietnam to restore its UNESCO World Heritage Site of My Son Relics Complex with a US$3 million fund, as well as providing technical assistance.

 

The restoration project will be carried out from 2012 to 2016 by Indian architects and archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). A group of experts from ASI, under the Institute of Archaeology, visited My Son last year to study and prepare restoration work. In the process they found that most of the temples needed to be urgently restored.

 

My Son, 69km southwest of Danang and 45 km west of Hoi An in central Vietnam, is a cluster of ruined Hindu temples constructed between 4AD-14AD, during the Champa empire era. Most of the site was destroyed by US carpet bombing during a single week of the Vietnam War, leaving just a few temples standing.

 

UNESCO designated My Son as a World Heritage Site in 1999. It is a popular day trip from the town of Hoi An.

 

 

LAS VEGAS SANDS PLANS TOURISM COMPLEX IN HCMC

 

Las Vegas Sands plans to build a tourism complex in Ho Chi Minh City at a cost of more than USD2 billion. Designed in the shape of two sails standing on a lotus the complex will have hotels, restaurants, convention and exhibition centres, shopping, a spa area, gymnasium, theatre, museum and other entertainment places. On completion it is expected to become a symbol of Ho Chi Minh City, attracting more tourists to the city.

 

 

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CHINA

 

 

A note from Managing Director Veronique Ducassy

 

China will soon be celebrating Chinese New Year, and we are waiting for January 23 to welcome the "Year of the Dragon" (in Chinese "long"), which will last until February 9, 2013 according to the Chinese Lunar calendar. The Dragon is the fifth sign of the 12 in Chinese astrology, and considered as a very auspicious sign.

 

We thank you for your continuous support and look forward to welcoming you in China.

 

XIN NIAN KUAI LE! GONG XI FA CAI! Happy New Year from Asian Trails China team!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

SHANGHAI TO DOUBLE EXHIBITION SPACE BY 2015

 

Shanghai is planning to double its exhibition space to 15 million square metres by 2015 as part of its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), with 80% of the area devoted to hosting international trade fairs.

 

The government has started building an expo centre in the Hongqiao commercial hub in Qingpu District. The 500,000sqm complex will take two years to complete.  making it the world's largest expo centre.

 

Key cultural facilities are also being built and will boost the number of unique venue options for DMCs. The World Expo Park will offer four new venues - China Art Palace, Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (name to be finalised), the Shanghai World Expo Museum and Shanghai Children's Art Theatre.

 

The Shanghai World Expo Museum will be located on the Puxi site of the World Expo Park. The Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art will be at the site of the Expo Urban Future Pavilion. The Shanghai Children's Art Theatre, with an IMAX theatre projection system, will sit on the site of the futuristic Expo SAIC-GM Pavilion and houses four audience zones.

 

The World Expo China Pavilion will be converted into the China Art Palace, with an extension to be built, enlarging the facility to 70,000sqm of exhibition space, 12,000sqm more than the original size.

 

 

HONGCUN - ANHUI PROVINCE

 

Hongcun is the perfect picture of idyllic rural life, seemingly caught in a time warp. It is an ancient village untouched by war and chaos, and beautiful in its tranquillity. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site it was built during the southern Song Dynasty in 1311.

 

Situated 10km from Huangshan Mountains, Hongcun boasts of all the simplicity and calm of ancient rural society, its 30-hectare village stirs up strong nostalgia for those times. The half-moon shaped pond, named Yuezhao pond, is in the centre of Hongcun and it is here that village activities revolve. Even today you can see white geese swimming in the dark green tranquil waters of the village pond.

 

 

QIANNAN BOUYEI & MIAO AUTONOMOUS PREFECTURE -  GUIZHOU PROVINCE

 

Located in the southwest area of China, Guizhou Province is nestled between Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan and Chongqing municipalities. The area is famed for its distinctive scenery, charming ethnic culture and some historical mysteries.

 

From the capital Guiyang, a three-hour car ride takes you to Libo, "emerald of the Earth's belt", to visit a magnificent art gallery where nature had spent millions of years creating its incredible works of art. Surrounded by primitive forest every path leads to dizzying scenery. Spectacular waterfalls or a small oasis in the middle of a torrential river are among other sights. The karst landform in Libo was listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in 2007.  A hike in the primitive forest on Maolan National Reserve is an ideal way to explore more scenic locations.

 

The small town is developing tourism facilities, such as new hotels and restaurants serving local dishes. You can also visit the ethnic group villages in the remote mountains to get a feel of their distinctive traditions and listen to the mystical tales told by their ancestors. Not to be missed is the mask dance, one of the age-old traditions of the ethnic groups.

 

 

YADONG - TIBET

 

The landscape changes dramatically as the altitude drops from 3,480m to 2,900m along the road from Xigaze to Yadong (about a four hour drive). Instead of barren and craggy scenes, babbling streams and trees make their appearance as the road snakes through the mountains toward Yadong in southernmost Tibet.

 

The county seat of Yadong is Xiasima, which means "even an important official has to get off his horse here". It has only one street and 3,000 residents, mostly Tibetans. Yadong River separates the town into two parts, connected by a stone bridge. Two-to-three-floor houses made of stone and wood line the street. In summer, even at 8pm, the sun is still shining and vendors push their handcarts loaded with tea, medicinal herbs and handicrafts through the street.  The food is varied consisting of Sichuan and Yunnan cuisine. Highly recommended is Yadong fish. Though the Yadong River flows into the Ganges River in India it is said that Yadong fish won't cross the border because they are used to the temperature and altitude. Locals call it the "patriotic fish".

 

Yadong borders Sikkim state of India on its western side and Bhutan on its east. A one-hour ride up a mountainous road is Renqinggang, the only frontier market on the China-India border, selling Indian and Nepalese goods.

 

You should take some time to appreciate the gargantuan beauty of misty Mount Chomolhari, topped by glittering snow and set against an azure sky backdrop. This 7,350m high mountain is sacred to Tibetan Buddhists. It known as the "fairy woman" and, according to local folklore, Chomolhari is the bride of Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain in India's Sikkim state.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

SHICHAHAI SANDALWOOD HOTEL - BEIJING

 

For many visitors to Beijing, staying in a former residence of the royal family or a famous nobleman is the ultimate experience. The city was home to 24 of China's emperors and their courtier, but as with the Forbidden City and many other historic residences the opportunities for such a royal treat are limited. The Beijing Shichahai Sandalwood Hotel is one of the best places to offer this rare delight.

 

Situated close to the picturesque Drum Tower the buildings that house the hotel were once part of a residence owned by Suo Ni, one of the most famous chancellors in Chinese history and a key figure of the Qing dynasty (17th-20th century). The hotel offers only 10 guestrooms, all decorated in an old Chinese way, boasting about 20 pieces of sandalwood furniture worth tens of millions of Yuan. Additionally the furniture and decorations in the hotel are mostly antiques.  In the bedroom of the largest suite, which covers more than 100sqm, the bathroom has a glass ceiling. There is no better way to relax after a day spent exploring Beijing in winter than to soak in the hot tub right under the ceiling, sipping a glass of wine and watching the snow falling onto the glass, gradually blocking your view.

 

 

GRACE HOTELS PLANTS FIRST ASIAN FLAG IN BEIJING

 

International boutique hotel chain, Grace Hotels, has opened a 30-key property in the Chinese capital city, Beijing, marking its entry into Asia Pacific.

 

Grace Beijing, located in the city's 798 Art District, occupies the former Yi House Hotel. The property houses modern art and contemporary furniture, and features decor inspired by the Ming Dynasty.

 

Facilities at the luxury hotel include Yi House Restaurant, which serves Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, and Bar 798. The hotel is looking at a mix of local and international clientele with strong representation from the fashion, arts, film, photography and design communities that are attracted to the art district or have business there.

 

Grace Hotels' other properties are in Mykonos, Santorini and Rhode Island.

 

 

ST. REGIS, TIANJIN OPENS

 

Located in Heping district along the south bank of the Hai River, St. Regis, Tianjin opened in October 2011.

 

The hotel features 240 rooms and 36 suites, heated indoor swimming pool; exercise room and an Iridium spa. It has six F&B outlets serving French, Italian, Mediterranean and Cantonese cuisine. There is 2,700sqm of meeting and event space, including the Sky Ballroom on the 15th floor. On the lower levels, venues include the St. Regis Ballroom and 14 versatile event rooms, divisible into 22 spaces.

 

 

MARRIOTT UNVEILS SHANGHAI HOTEL

 

Marriott International has opened the Shanghai Marriott Hotel City Centre, its flagship property for the Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand in China.

 

Located on Xizang Middle Road and overlooking People's Square, the hotel offers a total of 720 rooms and suites. It features five different F&B outlets - Inagiku, a Japanese restaurant; Man Ho, which serves Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine; Shanghai City Bistro, offering international fare; lounge and bar.Facilities include an executive lounge, a 25m indoor pool with Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, a gym and a spa.

 

The entire fifth floor is a dedicated events venue, offering more than 2,000sqm of space including two pillar-free ballrooms and seven breakout rooms.

 

 

GLORIA ADDS FIVE NEW HOTELS

 

Hong Kong-based Gloria Hotels & Resorts will expand its China footprint by at least five properties between November 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

 

One of these new properties is a 90-room hotel to debut under Gloria's Merlint boutique brand, the group's first boutique property in Shanghai. Scheduled to open by first quarter of 2012. it is located near Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. The hotel will target "upscale customers, celebrities, those who are fashion-forward and some corporate clients".

 

Two 400-room resorts on Hainan Island - one in Sanya Bay and one in Haitang Bay - will join the company's property in early 2012.

 

In Changsha, Hunan Province, Gloria is planning to open a 300-key five star hotel and an adjacent 200-key midscale hotel in 2012. These hotels, like most of Gloria's other properties, will court the MICE segment, as well as family groups and European travellers.

 

Gloria's affiliate programme, which offers marketing support to member hotels, is growing too. In November 2001 it welcomed the Red Wall Garden Hotel, a 38-room boutique property in Beijing's hutong areas, into the programme. It joins two other Gloria affiliates, one in Tokyo and one in Beijing.

 

 

MELIÁ EXPANDS FOOTPRINTS IN CHINA

 

Spanish hotel chain, Meliá Hotels International, is adding a second property in China, in Xian, to its portfolio of new hotel projects in China. Gran Meliá Xian Hotel will open in 2013. It will offer 419 rooms, three F&B outlets, a spa, and a convention centre.

 

Melia's first hotel in China, Gran Meliá Shanghai Hotel, opened in 2009.

 

 

 

SHANGRI-LA'S 2ND KERRRY HOTEL

 

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts officially opened its second Kerry Hotel in early December 2011, marking the completion of the first phase of a multimillion-dollar refurbishment of Kerry Centre Hotel, Beijing.

 

Rebranded as Kerry Hotel, Beijing, the property joins its sister hotel, Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, which launched the brand in February 2011. With a host of new facilities, amenities and services, the hotel features contemporary Club rooms and suites, Club lounge, reconfigured lobby and two new dining outlets - Kerry's Kitchen and Kerry's Pantry.

 

The hotel's Centro Bar and Lounge has been redesigned for a fresh clean look, with and an outdoor bistro-style terrace. The 1,560sqm grand ballroom, which can accommodate up to 1,500 pax, has also been upgraded with improved audiovisual equipment.

 

 

 

FOUR MORE SHERATON HOTELS

 

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has opened another four Sheraton branded properties in China by end 2011. The hotels:

  • The 380-rooms Sheraton Hangzhou Wetland Park Resort, located in Hangzhou's Xixi National Wetland Park. This is Sheraton first hotel in Hangzhou, which opened last fall.

  • The 290-room Sheraton Daqing Hotel in China's northeast Heilongjiang province. It has 11 meeting spaces with a combined floor area of 2,165sqm.

  • The 490-room Sheraton Xian North City Hotel, Sheraton's second property in the city. It offers 490 1,700sqm of meeting space including a 626sqm pillar-less grand ballroom. This is Sheraton's second property in Xian.

  • The 247-room Sheraton Changzhou Xinbei Hotel, which is part of the Changzhou Wanda Plaza.

Eight Sheraton hotels and resorts debuted in 2011 - in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Zhenjiang, Hainan, Jinzhou and Changzhou. With the addition of these 12 hotels Sheraton's hotel portfolio in Greater China has increased to 46 hotels by end 2011, moving Starwood closer to its goal of operating 100 hotels in the region by end 2012.

 

 

WESTIN EXPANDS IN CHINA

 

Westin Hotels & Resorts will open three new hotels in the Chinese cities of Ningbo, Xian and Xiamen over the next six months. They are:

  • Westin Ningbo will have 312 rooms, six restaurants and bars, Heavenly Spa and more than 1,300sqm of meeting space.

  • Westin Xian will feature 326 rooms, Heavenly Spa, an indoor swimming pool, 530sqm of state-of-the-art meeting facilities and an art/artefact museum below the hotel.

  • Westin Xiamen, part of a mixed use complex, will offer 304 rooms, three restaurants, Heavenly Spa, indoor pool and more than 1,300sqm of meeting space.

Earlier this year Westin opened three hotels in the mainland, including its first hotel in Nanjing and Wuhan and its second hotel in Guangzhou.

 

With the six new hotels Westin will have 16 hotels in China by April 2012 and is set to double its footprint in the region by 2014.

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

JANUARY 23, 2012

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

 

On January 23 people of Chinese origin throughout the world will welcome the "Year of the Dragon". This is considered the most auspicious sign of all the 12 in the Chinese Lunar calendar, as it is a symbol of good fortune and sign of intense power.

 

The Dragon is regarded as a creature of myth and legend. In the Orient the Dragon is revered as a divine beast, the reverse of the malicious monster that Westerners felt necessary to find and slay. In Eastern philosophy the Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority.

 

Asian Trails China office will be closed from January 23 until January 25 inclusive. Happy New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

 

 

LANTERN FESTIVAL

15TH DAY AFTER CHINESE NEW YEAR

VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

 

The Lantern Festival takes place 15 days after the 1st day of the New Year. It has its origins in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). During this period Buddhism flourished in China. One of the emperors heard that Buddhist monks watched sarira, or remains from the cremation of Buddha's body, and lit lanterns to worship Buddha on the 15th day of the 1st Lunar month. He ordered lanterns be lit in the imperial palace and temples on this day to show respect to Buddha. Later, the Buddhist rite developed into a grand festival among common people, and its influence spread from the Central Plains to the whole of China.

 

The practice continues till today, with the lantern festival celebrated yearly around China. Lanterns of various shapes and sizes are hung in the streets, attracting countless visitors. Children carry lanterns and walk around the streets of villages, towns and cities, which are decorated with magnificent lanterns. Eating yuanxiao or rice dumplings is also part of the celebrations, giving it the name of "Yuanxiao Festival".  There are also performances of dragon lantern dance and lion dance. As this festival also marks the end of the New Year festivities there are fireworks displays as the grand finale to the celebrations.

 

 

DOOR GODS, A CHINESE NEW YEAR'S TRADITION

 

During the build-up to Chinese New Year Door Gods are placed on the external doors of houses. This is an age-old tradition dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618 AD-907 AD). The emperor was said to have fallen ill and had a dream in which ghosts came to the palace in search of him. He recounted this tale to his officials the next day and the story quickly spread through the Imperial Court. The emperor's top two generals then stood guard outside his bedroom door to protect him.

 

The emperor slept soundly in the knowledge that he was protected by the two generals and had no further dreams of the ghosts. However, after a few nights the emperor became concerned for the generals. He ordered two paintings be made, one of each general. Once completed, the emperor had these hung on the door to his room and relieved the generals of their nightly duty.

 

The story of the emperor using "Door Gods" to protect him soon spread. The common people then made their own paintings and placed them on their doors to protect them and their homes. This tradition has continued until today.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

AIR FRANCE'S 5TH DESTINATION IN CHINA

 

From April 2012 Air France will fly to Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province in central China. This will be the French airline's fifth destination in China. It will be the first direct flight by a European carrier to Wuhan. The services are three times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, using the 309-seater Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

 

Air France currently operates flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

CONTEMPIO TEMPLE BAR & TEMPLE RESTAURANT

 

Few images deliver the flavour of ancient China more powerfully than a temple. Bringing the combination of history and charm into the 21st century is the goal of two Beijing buzz generators - Contempio Temple Bar and Temple Restaurant.

 

Originally named the "Temple of One Thousand Buddhas" the building is believed to have been built in the Yuan Dynasty (13th-14 the century). It was converted to a Taoist temple during the Ming Dynasty (14th-17th century). After the fall of the Ming Dynasty it became a refuge for eunuchs who were expelled from the Forbidden City. After the Cultural Revolution the site was turned into a factory.

 

Like Contempio, the Temple Restaurant is part of a much larger complex housed in a renovated factory next to the temple itself. The 600-year old temple complex is a government protected heritage site with cultural relics housed amongst the buildings. It is the centrepiece of the 3,500sqm compound, which also houses a boutique hotel and a carpet museum.

 

Contempio Temple Bar & Temple Restaurant serve contemporary European cuisine and dishes, which are thoroughly 21st century but also firmly rooted in the grand traditions of the past. They are also committed to providing the highest levels of service to the guests.

 

In creating the dining space, an Australian architectural and design firm emphasised the clean, light filled and thoroughly modern lines of what was once a television factory producing the capital's first black and white TVs.

 

 

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MYANMAR

 

A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

 

The months of November and December were very busy here in Myanmar. The number of arrivals is steadily increasing, and we are confident this trend will continue into the New Year. We would like to thank all of you for your tremendous support for us, as well as for tourism in Myanmar. Please rest assured that in 2012 we will continue to provide you with outstanding services at the most competitive prices available.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy and prosperous New Year.

 

Best regards,

Thomas Carnevale

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

VISIT BY U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, HILLARY CLINTON

 

Hillary Clinton, the most senior U.S. official to visit Myanmar in 50 years, presented her views on the progress in Myanmar during her stay from November 30 to December 2, 2011.

 

Clinton also met up with Daw Aung San Su Ky (pictured left).

 

 

2012 MANAU FESTIVAL IN KACHIN STATE CANCELLED

 

The fighting in Kachin state has, unfortunately, intensified and travelling in and around Myitkyina is suspended until further notice. Due to this latest development the famous Manau Festival, held annually on January 10, has been cancelled for this year.

 

This does not affect the Bhamo - Mandalay - upper Irrawaddy cruise or travel to Putao. We wish to point out that this is a very isolated incident and travelling to other parts of the country is absolutely safe.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

VIEW POINT ECO LODGE - NYAUNG SHWE

 

Following the soft opening of the ViewPoint Eco-Lodge, the hotel officially opened its doors on December 10, 2011.

 

The lodge sits on the edge of the canal leading to the magnificent Inle Lake in the colourful southern Shan State village of Nyaung Shwe. It consists of 20 luxurious Cottage Suites, all built on pilings on the lake using traditional eco-friendly construction techniques of the Shan people. All suites include modern bathrooms and are equipped with wireless internet, telephone, plasma TV, unlimited movies and music. All are affordable without compromising on comfort and the unique ambience of the lodge

 

The lodge has two restaurants and a rooftop bar with splendid view of the rice fields and the surrounding mountains.

 

 

TRADERS HOTEL YANGON UNDER RENOVATION

 

Traders Hotel in Yangon will continue its renovation throughout this year. The current phase ends in January, which sees the 16th to 19th floors upgraded.

 

The second phase will start in April and will last at least until September. Upgrading will be carried out on the 6th to 7th, 9th and 20th to 22nd floors, as well as the health club, swimming pool and function rooms. The renovations will be carried out during office hours and will not interrupt the operation of the hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

KAKKU FESTIVAL

MARCH 4-7, 2012

VENUE: TAUNGGYI, SHAN STATE

 

This five-day ceremony ends on March 7. For this festival thousands of Shan style thin, slender pagodas are compactly built in geometrically pattern, turning the pagoda complex into an extraordinary and unique sight.

 

Thousands of local tribal people from the surrounding regions like Shan, Pa O, Palaung, Lishaw and Dano flock to Taunggyi to take part in this annual festival and enjoy the festivities.

 

 

 

 

RESTAURANTS & VENUES

 

DREAM RESTAURANT KALAW OPENS

 

The Dream Restaurant Kalaw opened recently. Housed in an old colonial building in the heart of town the restaurant serves authentic local cuisine to both groups and individual travellers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

MRS. SU NANDA TUN PROMOTED

 

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Mrs. Su Nanda Tun to reservation supervisor. We would like to congratulate Su on her promotion and express our heartfelt thanks for her tremendous contribution and commitment to the company. We look forward to working with her for many more years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MRS. THAZIN PHONE ZAW IS NEW EXECUTIVE SECRETARY

 

Mrs. Thazin Phone Zaw joined ATM as executive secretary on November 1, 2011, and is the company's primary contact for our clients. Her duties include answering the phone and helping both our local and overseas partners with their queries. She also handles all incoming emails and distributes them accordingly. Thazin also supports the Managing Director and General Manager in secretarial matters.

 

 

 

MRS. MYINT MYINT KYI (GU GU) LEAVES ATM

 

After nearly five years with Asian Trails Myanmar as reservation supervisor Mrs. Gu Gu is leaving Asian Trails to pursue new career opportunities. We would like to thank Gu Gu for her tremendous contribution, commitment and loyalty over the past years, and wish her all the very best for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER NEWS

 

GMTCO MEETING ON RESPONSIBLE TOURISM IN BAGAN

 

The first international tourism meeting was organised by the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) subcommittee, Greater Mekong Tourism Cooperation Office (GMTCO), to discuss responsible tourism in Myanmar. It was held in Bagan from November 26 to 29 and was attended by over 100 tourism professionals, journalists and government officials. It was also the official platform to launch the Myanmar PATA Chapter

 

Photo shows Luzi. A. Matzig (right), Asian Trails CEO, and Laurent Kuenzle, Asian Trails Group managing director, at the event.

 

 

MMC GRAND BALL 2011

 

The Myanmar marketing committee (MMC) organised its grand ball on October 29.  2011 with the theme, "Grease". It was well attended by tourism industry people, as well as members of embassies and related personnel. They enjoyed an evening full of entertainment, good food, great music and lots of laughers at the impressive Strand Ballroom.

 

Photo shows guests enjoying the MMC grand ball 2011

 

 

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MALAYSIA

 

A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

 

Warm Greetings from Malaysia and Happy New Year!

 

The New Year represents a new beginning and I'm pleased to say that we're well prepared for the  challenges ahead. We've set new standards to  further raise our level of service and we're also preparing to shift to our new office at the end of  January.

 

Reflecting on 2011, I'm happy to say that we've handled more incentive and special interest groups than we ever did before, and we shall endeavour to continue to come up with new exciting ideas for this segment.

 

Moving forward, 2012 is "Visit Perak Year" and we at Asian Trails Malaysia has lined up some very interesting products that include the Ipoh Heritage Walk, as well as visits to the Belum rainforest.

 

Chinese New Year falls on January 23 and as the celebration is over 15 days, I urge visitors to Malaysia during this period to check and visit one of the "Open House", which is a unique Malaysian tradition.

 

Best Regards

 

Emir

Malaysia Truly Asia!

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION INFORMATION

 

WOW EXPERIENCE FOR IBM ACHIEVERS

 

A small group of high-achievers from IBM was treated to a VIP experience recently. The day started with a helicopter tour for an overview of the Kuala Lumpur before proceeding to Batu Caves where everyone was garlanded. They were then taken to Genting Highlands for lunch at the The Olive, an award-winning restaurant. The day ended  with a visit to Sky Bar at the Traders Hotel to enjoy the beautiful sunset with view of the spectacular Petronas Twin Towers.

 

We're proud to have organised this event, and hope to plan something more spectacular for the next group of high-achievers.

 

 

RM6M UPGRADE FOR RAINFOREST DISCOVERY CENTRE

 

Sabah's award-winning Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) in Sandakan is set to become better next year with additional facilities, including an environmental education activity centre.

 

The RM6.5mil (US$2.1mil) upgrading of the Sabah Forestry Department-run RDC will also include an 80m extension of its existing 147m-long treetop walkway. This upgrading will further RDC's standing as a top environmental education facility in Sabah.

 

Located some 24km from Sandakan town, the RDC is adjacent to the internationally renowned Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

 

 

BAKO NATIONAL PARK REOPENS TO OVERNIGHT VISITORS

 

Bako National Park, Sarawak's  oldest national park that was gazetted in 1957, has been re-opened to overnight visitors.

 

The park is located at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula, about 37km from Kuching and covers an area of 2,722 hectares. It is one of the smallest national parks in the state, but offers visitors an excellent introduction to every type of vegetation found in Borneo and its interesting  coastline.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

IBIS TO DEBUT IN MALAYSIA

 

Accor will add 10 new properties to its current portfolio of four in Malaysia by 2014, with the. majority under its Ibis brand that is making its debut in the country.

 

The Ibis properties slated to open include the 500-key Ibis Styles Fraser Business Park Kuala Lumpur (2012), 156-key Ibis Styles Cheras (2012), 179-key Ibis Styles Johor Bahru (2013), 165-key Ibis Styles Kota Kinabalu (2013), 108-key Ibis Styles Lahad Datu (2013) and 118-key Ibis Styles Ipoh (2013).

 

 

CHANGE OF ROOM CATEGORY AT PARKROYAL SERVICED SUITES

 

The Parkroyal Serviced Suites has undergone some facelifts, wih Studio Suites being converted to one-bedroom suite.

 

The room categories have been renamed as follows with immediate effect

  • Studio Superior Suite - Studio Suite

  • Studio Deluxe Suite   - One-Bedroom Suite           

  • One Bedroom Suite   - One-Bedroom Premier Suite

  • Two Bedroom Superior Suite- Two- Bedroom Suite

  • Two Bedroom Deluxe Suite - Two Bedroom Premier Suite

 

 

REFURBISHED SUPERIOR ROOMS AT EQUATORIAL HOTEL CAMERON HIGHLANDS

 

Equatorial Hotel Cameron Highlands has recently undergone refurbishment of their Superior rooms. A total of 162 units have been refitted with new carpets, wall painting and a 32inch LCD TV. The bathrooms have been up-sgraded with new tiles, fitted with bidets and rain shower to replace the bathtubs.

 

 

 

 

 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

 

PONGAL

JANUARY 15,  2012

VENUE: SRI MAHAMARIAMMAN TEMPLE, PENANG  & THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Pongal literally means "boiling over" and is celebrated by Hindus to mark the harvesting of the bounteous crops in the fields. The festival's highlight is the cooking of sweet rice, known as Pongal, in a new earthenware pot at the same place where puja is to be performed. This Pongal, according to ritual, is allowed to boil over and spill out of the potrice till it overflows, symbolising wealth and harvest. The festival is celebrated over four days.

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR

JANUARY 23-24, 2012

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

Chinese New Year is a time for family reunion, feasting and merry-making. Reunion dinners and open houses are an integral part of the celebrations. Children and those who are not married receive ang pow, red money packets, from the elders. It is a custom for Chinese to spring clean or paint their houses before the new year. On the eve family members gather for reunion dinners. Many travel back to their hometown or family homes for this special occasion. Lion and dragon dance performances at shopping malls and homes enhance the festive air!

 

 

FEDERAL TERRITORY DAY

FEBRUARY 1, 2012

VENUE: KUALA LUMPUR, PUTRAJAYA & LABUAN

 

Federal Territory Day is a public holiday is in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan. It is celebrated with ceremonies, performances andfun activities.

 

 

 

CHAP GOH MEI

FEBRUARY 6 2012

VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

 

The Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally lasts for 15 days. The 15th day, or Chap Goh Meh, marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Chinese celebrate with grand dinners, while  Buddhists mark the day with offerings and prayers. Single girls throw tangerines into the sea in the belief that they will bring them a good spouse, an age-old practice carried on until today.

 

 

THAIPUSAM

FEBRUARY 7, 2012

VENUE: SELANGOR (BATU CAVES), PENANG, MALACCA, JOHOR AND PERAK.

 

A truly spectacular event, Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival where devotees perform various rituals as acts of devotion and penance. Kuala Lumpur is the best place to celebrate the festival as the deity's jewelled chariot is led in a mass procession through the city's streets, ending in Batu Caves. A memorable spectacle is the thousand of devotees in a trance-like state carrying body-  piercing kavadis or ornate frames.

 

 

LE TOUR LE LANGKAWI

FEBRUARY 24-MARCH 4, 2012

VENUE: DATARAN HELANG, PEKAN KUAH (THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY)

 

Asia's premier cycling event, Le Tour de Langkawi 2012, is back! The race will go through seven states - Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor  - and two Federal Territories namely Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

BERJAYA AIR RESUMES SERVICES TO PANGKOR ISLAND

 

Berjaya Air resumed its services to Pangkor Island on November 25, 2011, with three weekly flights weekly via Subang Airport, Kuala Lumpur. The resumption of the services is timely as 2012 is Visit Perak Year.

 

The airline currently operates with three 48-seater Dash 7 aircraft and two 72-seater ATR 72-500 aircraft, designed to land on short runways, which the Pangkor airport has.

 

 

EMIRATES LAUNCHES A380 SERVICE TO MALAYSIA ON JANUARY 1

 

Emirates' scheduled A380 service on the Dubai-Kuala Lumpur route, launched on January 1, is the first such service to Malaysia by any airline.

 

EK346 departs Dubai at 0405hrs and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 1455hrs on the same day. The return leg, EK347, departs Kuala Lumpur at 1930hrs and arrives in Dubai at 2230hrs. The flight arrives in Dubai at a convenient time, giving passengers the option of onward connections to any of Emirates' expanding list of over 100 European, Middle Eastern, African or American destinations.

 

 

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INDONESIA

 

A note from Managing Director Andre Seiler

 

Yet another year has come to an end, and we are looking back to a successful high season in Indonesia. While the arrivals last November were still promising the European source markets, however, showed a big drop in arrivals in the first half of December. Fortunately the numbers are picking up again over the festive season.

 

The quiet time allows us to start preparations for next year's high season. We also took the opportunity to send the Asian Trails staff to different parts of Indonesia on educational trips to ensure that our product knowledge is up to date. In the past two months we have sent one staff to a Flores overland trip, two to Sumatra and another two to West and Central Java. Two managers went to Borneo to explore East Kalimantan and to discover Indonesia's best place to sight the Orang Utans, as well as to the Tanjung Putting National Park.

 

Read more on this national park as it is featured in the "Asian Trails Product Update" section below. You can contact us at info@asiantrailsbali.com to receive detailed inspection reports with pictures of each destination.

 

My team and I take this opportunity to thank you for all your great support in 2011. We look forward to continue working with you in 2012.

 

Your Asian Trails Indonesia Team

 

 

 

 

ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

 

ORANG UTAN AND KALIMANTAN

 

Our exploration of the Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan started with the arrival in a wooden boat. Then it was a walk through Kalimantan's tropical rainforest for 15 minutes, enjoying the fresh morning air and taking in the sights of the magnificent tall trees and the lush vegetation. These are just the "entrée" to the main spectacle as the best is yet to come.

 

We were on our way to see the Orang Utan (or Pongo Pgyma) in their natural habitat. It was feeding time when we arrived and the rangers made some unique sounds to attract the Orang Utans to come to the feeding platform. They slowly emerged from among the trees to feed on bananas and milk. The mothers came with their babies, and several more were spotted. The rangers advised the visitors to keep as quiet as possible so as not to scare the apes. The only sounds were the voices of the rangers, the rustle of leaves as the apes swung from tree to tree and the clicking of cameras.

 

The Orang Utans in Tanjung Puting National Park live in the wilderness, and they seldom venture out of their habitat. This is why only a few go regularly to the feeding ground. During our visit to the two feeding grounds we saw 20 to 25 Orang Utans. It was a rainy day and we could have seen more if the weather was better.

 

The visit to the national park was very interesting and educational. Apart from the Orang Utans, there are Proboscis monkeys, macaques and monitor lizards. You can even see crocodiles during the dry season.

 

Tanjung Puting National Park is located in Central Kalimantan. Flights are available from Jakarta, Surabaya, and Semarang. The pier is a 30-minute drive away from the airport. The "klotok boat" used for the tour is wooden boat with an engine. A two-hour ride takes you to Rimba Lodge, the best accommodation available in the national park. All visits to the national park are done by boat.

 

 

 

 

HOTEL INFORMATION

 

LE MERIDIEN RETURNS TO BALI

 

Formerly announced to become Ristia Resort in Jimbaran, the property will be rebranded as Le Méridien Bali-Jimbaran. It will be under the management of Starwood and is scheduled to open in mid-2012.

 

The new Le Méridien Bali will offer 123 suites, including 28 Aqua Suites, four rooftop villas - each with an Indonesian style Bale Bengong outdoor lounge area and private plunge pool, and four penthouse suites. Facilities will include a three-storey restaurant and bar, a lagoon swimming pool and sundeck accessible from ground floor guestrooms, a spa and fitness centre and 200sqm of meeting space.

 

 

ANANTA LEGIAN HOTEL, AN OASIS OF SERENITY

 

Anana Legian Hotel has been designed to be an oasis of serenity, pleasing to the eyes and with a calming ambiance. Every little detail has been carefully considered, presenting an elegant balancing act of artistic and pure simplicity.

 

The four star hotel is just five minutes' walk from the famous Legian Beach and is surrounded by restaurants, and the shopping and entertainment centres. It offers 176 rooms overlooking tropical gardens and pool, an excellent restaurant and a rooftop bar.

 

 

FIRST CENTRA HOTEL IN BALI

 

Centara Hotels & Resorts, Thailand's largest operator of hotels, has opened its first overseas property of its Centra value brand in Bali.

 

Located in Seminyak, the hotel has 90 rooms comprising 53 deluxe studio rooms (42sqm-58sqm in area), 27 two-bedroom studios (63sqm) and 10 three-bedroom studios (75sqm-105sqm). Each room has its own spacious private balcony, while a number of the two- and three-bedroom accommodations have their own private pool. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, fitness centre, swimming pool, and body and foot massage rooms.

 

Centara Hotels and Resorts plans to open another two resorts in Bali within this year.

 

 

LUXURIOUS AYANA RESIDENCES

 

AYANA Residences, scheduled to open this year, is located next to the AYANA Resort and Spa Bali. They consist of a limited number of luxury apartments and villas and an appointed Club House. All accommodation units are spacious and luxuriously appointed, featuring the highest quality design, materials and craftsmanship consistent with AYANA's world-class resort standards.

 

The Residences enjoy their own expansive Club House, called Ashoka (meaning 'painless or without sorrow' in Sanskrit). Located centrally within the Residences and looking out to the ocean, the Club House features a porte-cochère lobby and a dedicated Concierge Service exclusively catering to owners' needs.

 

Recreational facilities include two swimming pools, one family pool and one lap pool, 10-seater cinema, a 5ha landscaped gardens, state-of-the-art fitness centre, steam and sauna, yoga area, juice bar, poolside relaxation lounge, BBQ area, library, Jogging trails and pet grooming services.

 

 

GREEN GLOBE CERTIFICATION FOR MAYA UBUD

 

Green Globe has announced certification for the sustainable management and operation of Maya Ubud Resort & Spa - Bali. The certification cemented the resort's commitment to conduct business in a more sustainable and responsible manner.

 

Green Globe Certification is the worldwide sustainability system based on internationally accepted criteria for sustainable operation and management of travel and tourism businesses. Operating under a worldwide license, Green Globe Certification is based in California, USA and is represented in over 83 countries. Green Globe is the only certification brand to be an affiliate member of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) an agency of the United Nations, and is partly owned by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

 

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PULLMAN JAKARTA OPENS

 

Pullman Jakarta Central Park, the second Pullman property in Indonesia after Bali, has opened its doors. Designed in a contemporary, urban art-style it is the first upscale property in the West Jakarta area.

 

The hotel is currently operating 212 rooms out of its total of 317. Facilities include a ballroom that can accommodate 5,000 pax; Collage, an all day restaurant; Bunka, a bar to chill out; a two-storey lounge and café; swimming pool; sunbathing terrace; fitness centre and spa; rooftop Sky Terrace Garden.

 

 

 

 

AIRLINE INFORMATION

 

LION AIR ON AIRCRAFT BUYING SPREE

 

Lion Air, Indonesia's largest private airline, has placed an order for 201 Boeing 737 MAXs aircraft and 29 Next Generation Boeing 737-900 ERs (extended range) aircraft. The agreement also includes purchase rights for an additional 150 airplanes. The order of 230 airplanes at an estimated US$21.7 billion is the largest commercial airplane order ever in Boeing's history by both dollar volume and total number of airplanes. The airline currently has on order a total of 178 Next-Generation 737s.

 

 

 

AIRASIA INDONESIA ADDS NEW ROUTES

 

Air Asia Indonesia continues its expansion with the addition of three new routes with daily flights. They are Bali - Surabaya, Surabaya - Bandung and Semarang - Kuala Lumpur.

 

The airline also unveiled its "green home" at Terminal 3at Soekarno Hatta International Airport. The terminal, which formerly housed only domestic flights, was officially opened for international flights on November 17, 2011. All AirAsia's flights - both domestic and international arrivals and departures - are now serviced under one roof.

 

 

 

 

STAFF UPDATE

 

ASIAN TRAILS INDONESIA IN ROCK 'N RUN CHARITY EVENT

 

The annual Rock'N Run charity event, or "11th Chapter", was held on November 20, 2011. It marked the 11th consecutive year that the charity event was held. Proceeds from the event, which had participants running or biking five kilometres, will be used to help children in need of harelip and cleft palate surgery and bring a smile back to their faces.

 

Hard Rock Hotel Bali in partnership with Rotary Club Seminyak Bali, an organisation committed to help and support the island's needy, will assist to manage the funds raised. Asian Trails was a key sponsor of the event.

 

 

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