Far from the hustle & bustle of Iberian metropolises, Lisbon is in a class of its own. It has a clearly distinct culture from its eastern cousin- Madrid – and I was pleasantly surprised. Although many frown upon the “sh”s & the “Bom Dia” (pronounced Bong Dia) , Portuguese is the result of centuries of multiculturalism. In Lisbon, the average person speaks English, French and Portuguese , and I have found myself fitting in perfectly.
Inspiration can be found in all shapes and sizes – Bangkok is no exception. Over the years, I have been amazed by the sheer level of creativeness within the city. Tourism has pushed competition between artisans to a whole other level : you can find everything from lifelike monk statuettes, to suits that would make Don Cherry jealous (Hockey reference, for the Canadians out there!).
Being a fervent admirer – and citizen – of Hong-Kong, it is particularly hard to concede points to its closest rival, Singapore. Growing up in Hong-Kong gave me a very pampered view on cities -I became used to being in multicultural, dynamic, and thriving environments, and would settle for nothing less. I have since lived in France, America, and Spain, and became convinced that there is no place like home. I was wrong.
Singapore brings you the best Hong-Kong has to offer, with a whole new level of creativity. It’s the embodiment of our new UI-focused economy. Everything – from public transportation to Skyscraper airflow – has been meticulously crafted to provide the most favorable impact to the citizens as possible. The resulting increase in air quality, and overall satisfaction make it a city to be admired, not vilified for its authoritative government.
Welcome to Singapore, the city of life.
While wandering around Turtle Island, I met these lovely people – a young Cambodian girl, and her grandmother. At first, it was nothing more than a business transaction – I was thirsty, they had the coconuts. After a short discussion, they were curious about my camera, and started showing me stories of their own.
The girl’s father was severely wounded during the Khmer regime, the Communist party of Kampuchea in Cambodia. Part of a fishermen family, he was expropriated during the great famine (circa 1975), and partially lost his sight after several rounds of torture. He found a way to escape and swam to Turtle Island, a secluded, uninhabited island off the coast of Cambodia. He has since founded his own family, crafted his own boat and recreated an ecosystem he now calls home.
These stories are commonplace in Asia, which has been plagued with centuries of conflicts and instability. Although demons differ in shape, size and poison, in each of its countries, you will find some of the most resilient people.
Two worlds coexist within Kenya: the paradise-like environment enjoyed by foreigners, and the harsh reality, endured by locals. Although there is little overlap between the two, it is often hard to turn a blind eye to the other, as they have a co-dependent relationship. 20% of the Kenyan GDP comes from tourism, and related activities: any sharp decrease in tourist arrivals can potentially have a devastating effect on the economy as a whole, and that’s the key issue at hand.
Hong-Kong is a magical place. It’s a city where transportation companies issue public apologies for being a couple minutes behind schedule, where companies can be registered within 24 hours, and where hospitalization costs you a flat US$10/day. Most of Hong-Kong success is directly attributable to the United Kingdom: what began as a small fisherman island became one of the world’s largest export hubs.
How did they achieve this? One answer: smart planning.
While we praise the rapid growth of Asian manufacturing powerhouses, we often lose focus on countries such as Cambodia. As a whole, this country is facing an uphill battle, against corruption, child labor, and widespread poverty.
Arguably the largest contributor to the Khmer economy, tourism has been fuelling local communities with a breath of fresh air. Angkor Wat, the world’s largest temple complex, is a sight to see – not only for its architectural grandeur, but for the opportunities it creates for the local population.