Monday, March 31, 2014

Noma is moving to Tokyo in 2015 for two months of inspired cooking with Japanese winter ingredients.


Noma, the world-famous restaurant in Copenhagen once recognized as the undisputed best restaurant in the world, is moving to Tokyo for the winter of 2015.

Yes, foodies in Asia now have reason to rejoice as the culinary jewel of Denmark moves closer to home, albeit temporarily.

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A COMPLETE RELOCATION TO TOKYO

Noma will reportedly close down completely in Copenhagen and the entire restaurant staff, chef Rene Redzepi included, will transplant themselves to Tokyo for two months.

He said: "We'll bring our mindset and sensibilities to the best of pristine winter produce from all over Japan."

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A LONG TIME IN COMING

What's with all these famous chefs going on their own versions of a Travelife, anyway? I've just heard that the Roca brothers of equally famous El Celler de Can Roca in Spain, may soon be leaving Girona on a world foodie tour themselves.

The tour is dubbed "Roca & Roll World Tour 2014."

With the Roca brothers in Spain,
holding a copy of Travelife Magazine.

This idea for Noma to relocate to Tokyo went through a long germination process.

It's actually something that chef Yoshihiro Rene has been thinking about, ever since he first journeyed to Tokyo at the invitation of chef Murata of Kikunoi.

Kikunoi is one of the best restaurants in Japan, and it has a main restaurant in Kyoto and a branch in Tokyo.

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Travelife Magazine is perhaps the only magazine in Asia to have written in-depth about meals in both Noma in Denmark and Kikunoi in Japan.

Foodies in Japan are divided as to which one is better -- the Kyoto restaurant or the Tokyo restaurant.

EXCITING REALITY



Anyway, finally, chef Rene's idea has become a reality.

How lucky for Tokyo residents like myself.

And if you live outside Japan, better book early and plan a Travelife to Japan...




Sunday, March 30, 2014

I just love Instagram. And how I got a new iPod as an advanced Christmas gift.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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So last week, in Manila living a Travelife, someone gave me the new 5th generation iPod as a belated Christmas present.

Yes, I know it's almost April, but some of my friends seem to think Christmas was last week.


Mr friend Mr. Jaded, for instance, just gave me a pair of great Bose noise-cancelling ear phones as a Christmas present just a few weeks ago.

I love these earphones, by the way, but I think he gave this to me in the middle February when he returned from a long trip to the other side of the world.

I use these ear phones practically every day.

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HAPPINESS IN A BOX

As for this iPod, it actually came giftwrapped in red and green just a few days ago, much to my great surprise and, so far, never-ending delight.

I'd long been wanting a new iPod for my music, you see.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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However, I'd been putting off buying a new iPod as I already have an old iPod, and two perfectly good and relatively new MP3 players which I use for swimming and walking around abroad.

I also have a mini iPad which I bought at El Corte Ingles in Madrid just a few months ago, when I accidentally spilled tea on my laptop and it died on me.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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This mini iPad can function as a music player and a camera in a pinch.

So it seemed foolish and wasteful to go and buy myself a new iPod, with all these gadgets lying around, waiting to be taken on a Travelife.

THIS MADE MY DAY



So you can just imagine how happy I was when this gift arrived from a pretty thoughtful friend.

We'd been somewhere exotic together, you see; and, after observing me a lot while we were traveling, he'd said to me: "You know, you should get an iPhone or an iPod to instantly upload photos to Instagram while walking around listening to music -- at the rate you take photos."

I have a camera and my mini iPad, but of course both are different.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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I'M NOW INSTAGRAM-READY

My camera isn't one of these new tech ones that can instantly upload to Instagram. And I even lost the flash while on safari at the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve in South Africa.

But I love it.

If I lost this camera, I would go out and buy exactly the same one, but in a newer model. I heard the newest model is really cool, but this is another purchase I've been putting off simply because the model I have still works pretty well.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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As for my iPad, of course it can connect to Instagram.

But it's slightly cumbersome to be carrying this along with everything else I have to carry on a trip.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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We talked no more about my need for an iPod or an iPhone after that.

But he definitely thought I needed something useful for Instagram and Pinterest -- something I could carry around my wrist when traveling.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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And he knows I'm stuck on Blackberry for some inexplicable reason, so a new iPhone isn't the answer. 

I can't deal with two phones when I already have three laptops and a host of other gadgets to use or worry about -- so the new iPhone would probably remain in its box.

So last week, out of the blue, he sent me a new iPod with a sweet card saying: "Consider this a belated Christmas gift. Or an advanced one."

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AN ADVANCED CHRISTMAS GIFT

He'd actually already given me a very nice Christmas gift last year, so yes, I guess I should consider this an advanced Christmas gift instead.

And the whole of this weekend, I've been happily experimenting with photos and Instagram.

I love how Instagram lets you use filters to tweak the photos, the colors and styles, and give these a more creative bent.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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In fact, wow, I love everything about it.

I'm so addicted to Instagram now that it's the last thing I do before going to sleep.

That is, when I do get some sleep in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Taken with my new iPod and posted on Instagram
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Serenity over a Sunday afternoon of ayurveda at Arogya. And about a week of panchakarma.



Today was one of the most peaceful and relaxing Sundays I've had in a fairly long time, in my never-ending, and never-endingly evenftul Travelife.

Much of it was due to the fact that I spent a good part of the afternoon at the Arogya ayurveda center getting an abyahnga and a takradhara.

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ALL ABOUT AYURVEDIC DETOX TREATMENTS

The abyhanga is an overall light body massage involving copiuos amounts of medicated oils, while the takradhara involves the pouring of cold yoghurt in a rhythmic motion over your forehead for about 20 minutes.

Lots of people have had an abhyanga at a spa somewhere in the world before, but the takradhara is quite unique. The takhradhara also sounds quite simple -- but it's worked wonders for me.

During times of extreme stress, this is one of the few things that can bring me relief. So I try to fit it into my schedule whenever I can.



I try to do this whenever I have a free afternoon on a weekend.

This doesn't happen very often, but the stars aligned and the universe conspired to make this happen today.

A RECHARGE BEFORE 
MY NEVER-ENDING TRAVELIFE 

Actually, I'd done two consecutive days of ayurveda treatments -- just because I felt I needed a week to slow down my life before everything in my Travelife starts all over again.


I'm certainly looking forward to the next four months of amazing -- truly amazing -- travels; but it's going to require boundless energy to cover the kilometers going into my flight plans.

I think I'm going halfway around the world four times in the next four months, not to mention all the other little sidetrips along the way.

 A MOMENT OF INSPIRATION



And today, there I was drinking tea after my treatment and having a chat with Patrick, the director of the Arogya ayurveda center, when he happened to mention that there were a couple of ladies on the detox program right now.

One of them had even flown from across the globe to do this detox at Arogya.


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AYURVEDA FOR PURISTS

The detox program at Arogya is a strict ayurveda program that's not for the fainthearted. I've done it thrice before and I really liked the results. But as always my problem is finding the time.


But when I heard about this lady flying thousands of kilometers for her detox at Arogya, when my own commute is about 20 minutes with a driver, I suddenly just felt I wanted to do the detox program this week.

It's really now or never because my life gets very busy again soon.

WHAT'S IN A PANCHARKAMA



The ayurveda detox program is called panchakarma, and it's tailored to every individual in an effort to restore balance, increase immunity and encourage better health and well-being.

It can run from 7 days to 21 days, or even longer.

So today I began the detox. Patrick said to me: "You can't be eating in too many restaurants, or trying too much good food. No partying or staying up too late either."


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HOPE BEST EFFORT COUNTS

Complete abstinence is basically impossible for me, but I figured a little is better than nothing at all.

So far, so good.

Today was a very peaceful day in a pretty stressful week of work and trying to juggle everything in life into just one life.




Yes, I'm on of these people who want to have it all -- and, of course, that's either very difficult or just impossible.

But it certainly won't hurt to give it a try -- with a little help from Arogya to enable me cope with the incredible highs and the formidable challenges of a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

PS: By the way, here's a lovely photo of a Manila sunset, taken with my new iPod, which I am completely addicted to. Follow us on Instagram or Pinterest for more photos in real-time.




Paradise found at the Oberoi in Lombok



The Oberoi, Lombok situated on the northwest coast on Medana Beach, lies opposite the three Gili islands.

This 24-acre resort is comprised of 20 free-standing villas, most with private swimming pool, and spacious garden courtyards with raised dining pavilions. There are also 30 spacious pavilions.

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THE BEST OF LEISURE ACTIVITIES

Meanwhile, the spa features traditional therapeutic treatments based upon Asian modalities and Ayurveda, while the PADI-qualified dive center provides non-motorized water sports and guided diving expeditions.



SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR

Magnificent colorful sunsets face the neighboring island of Bali with unparalleled views of Bali's Gunung Agung Volcano on the horizon.

The Oberoi, Lombok's environment fosters tranquil days leading to total relaxation and rejuvenation, all the while being spoiled in the comfort of proficient service.

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Although geographically close to the island of Bali, Lombok is years behind in development so it is much closer to the ideal for a nature paradise.

The island is a magnificent destination for the travelers seeking undiscovered culture and nature.

THE OBEROI, LOMBOK
Medana Beach
Tanjung 83352 North Lombok
Indonesia
Telephone : +62 370 6138444 
info.toli@oberoihotels.com 
www.oberoihotels.com/oberoi_lombok/


Saturday, March 29, 2014

ANA launches a Manila - Haneda, Tokyo flight



Earlier today, Japanese carrier ANA launched a flight from Manila direct to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, which is the city airport of Tokyo.

There was a ceremony at Haneda Airport today with Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe cutting the ribbon.

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It's nearer than Narita Airport, so some people may find this more convenient.

Meg Caligner of Travelife Magazine flew to Tokyo for the inaugural flight and sent in these photos.



The favorite ryokan of Steve Jobs, and the best inn in the world.


On my last trip to Kyoto, living a Travelife, we stayed in one of Japan's top traditional inns -- if not its best inn. 

In fact, some people call it the best inn in the world, and certainly one of those places that many people who like the luxe Travelife want to experience at least once in their life.

THE GOLD STANDARD



It's Japan's most famous inn, and even today it's considered the gold standard against which the ryokan industry bases itself against.

When deciding where to stay in Kyoto, I thought long and hard as I wanted a really special Kyoto experience

I've been to Kyoto more times than I can count, and I even lived there one memorable summer. But until that last trip, I hadn't been in a long time because I'd been so busy on a never-ending Travelife.

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LIKE THE PALM OF MY HAND

There are two cities in Japan that I know very well -- or at least well enough to walk around blindfolded in: Tokyo and Kyoto.

I spent a very long time in Kyoto after graduating from college, and then I often went to Kyoto on business trips as well, because Kyoto was a favorite venue for international conferences.



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MODERNIZING THE WORLD,
AND YET TRADITIONAL AT HOME

There are a couple of mid-sized world-class companies with headquarters here that I had to visit as well.

It was so interesting to me then, to see how these companies (Nintendo, for instance) changed so much about the world -- and yet when you went and visited them, they were incredibly traditional office environments.

The men worked, the women served tea, and you left your shoes at the front door and changed into slippers, just like at a house.

LITTLE HAS CHANGED



This was quite a long time ago, but then again Kyoto isn't the kind of place that changes a lot -- at least not in its traditional heartland.

KYOTO STATION LOOKS LIKE A SPACE SHIP

The only place that's really changed a lot is the area around Kyoto station.

The neighborhoods here have become unrecognizable because of all the construction and redevelopment; and even the station itself looks like a garage for space ships from Battlestar Galactica.

But around the oldest central neighbrhoods -- the heart of Kyoto, really -- things are pretty much the same  as they have been for the past hundreds of years.

EASY DECISION

The sashimi appetizer went very well with vintage Krug champagne

So, anyway, for this sweet homecoming of sorts, I chose one of my favorite traditional inns -- just because I feel that a visit to Kyoto after such a long time should be done the old-fashioned way rather than the luxurious way.

A WABI-SABI TYPE OF LUXURY

Mind you, this inn was pretty luxurious -- but it isn't an over the top kind of place, the way so many new Japanese ryokan are these days. It's more of what the Japanese call wabi-sabi type of luxury, and it's so hard to explain what this means in English.

But it's the real "best of Japan."


There's nothing over the top about it, and certainly no wow factor. There are no fantastic views. But it embodies in almost every way the very best of refined Japan in a way that no other Japanese ryokan really can.

Both ways are very nice, as far as Japanese inns are concerned, and it's just a matter of personal preference.

STEVE JOBS' FAVORITE RYOKAN

Steve Jobs loved this same ryokan
Photo from Madame Tussaud Hong Kong


But this Japanese inn has been the choice of accommdation for everyone from Japanese aristocrats and relatives of the Imperial Family, to the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre and even Steve Jobs.

In fact, this ryokan was one of the last places that Steve Jobs took his children to, before he died.

ALL ABOUT UNDERSTATEMENT



It's in perfect good taste and it offers every conceivable comfort in a very restrained way.

This is why I chose it -- because the real Kyoto is all about restrained good taste and making the most of the old.

FAMOUS FOR ITS FOOD



The food, too, is famous among Japan's foodies for being honest-to-goodness Kyoto food.

Lots of ryokan these days are just about flash -- a nice room and a picturesque view. But this one is as famous for its Kyoto cuisine as it is for its history, its pedigree and the changemakers in history who have stayed here.

And, in case you're wondering what Kyoto cuisine is like, it's very subtle in taste, easy on the salt, and it makes use mainly of ingredients found locally or at least in the western part of Japan.



Lots of the dishes are made with fish from the western Japan like seabream from the waters off Akashi in the Japan Inland Sea, or locally grown and extremely fresh vegetables which are called "Kyo-yasai," or Kyoto vegetables.

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