I flew over Beijing on my way to Tibet and had an afternoon to re-visit the Forbidden City. I planned to take a few more shots to the Starbucks inside, as it seemed so bizarre and out of place. As of mid-July, Starbucks has been booted out or “left” as some of the news articles say. Fortunately, I still have my commemorative Starbucks Forbidden City mug.
Tomorrow I am leaving for Tibet for 2 weeks. In planning the trip I found these beautiful pictures of Tibet on Flickr and reached out to the photographer. He was kind enough to send me a long email worth of tips and suggestions. My gawd, I love the internet sometimes!
In the last email from my tour operator they imparted this advice, “Keep the happy mood and take it easy, the Acute Mountain illness would be happen more or less. It is very common! So you do not worry more about it!”
Thankfully my bohemian aunt suggested I get a prescription for Diamox for altitude sickness.
Last night I went to Blue Ribbon Sushi, the SoHo establishment that seems like it has been around since forever. The last time I was there was circa ’97, and I am thrilled to have tried it again. We had a 500ml bottle of the special, seasonal sake drinking from wooden box cups. How elegant! The sushi was Japanese style, smaller pieces, which I prefer, as opposed to the huge slabs of fish common here.
119 Sullivan Street (between Prince & Spring)
The Cult of the Luxury Brand, a fabulous book on Asian’s obsession with luxury goods, will showcase this photo of mine.
Well almost, unfortunately my photo lost out to an image from sushicam. Still, the writers were nice enough to send me a copy of the book anyway. Thank you! I hope it will help answer just how the Japanese can account for over one third of Louie Vuitton sales. Amazingly, I never succumbed to the LV “measles,” describes in the book as “everyone has to get it eventually.” Bravo on some brilliant insights!
The new year is a time for lists. Forget the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, here is my list of 10 places you must go to.
1. Luang Prabang, Laos, a World Heritage site, is simply the loveliest place on earth. Trust me. Stay at the Villa Santi Hotel (not the resort), rent bikes for $1 outside the hotel, and get up early one morning to stroll amongst a sea of saffron robed monks.
2. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Stay at the Grand Hotel d’Angkor. Get a guide and driver, you’ll need an air conditioned car to escape to from the heat and the hawkers. Buy something from one of the kids, but don’t haggle if you don’t plan to buy it. Furthermore, ask your conscience do you really want to haggle for 25 cents?
3. Hoi An, Vietnam, another World Heritage site. Make sure you eat some pho and beware of young girls approaching you with, “my auntie has a dress shop, wanna come see?
5. The terra-cotta warriors, Xi-an, China. If possible don’t overnight in Xi’an.
6. Harajuku girls, Tokyo, Japan. Even long past Gwen Stephani making them famous, they are still sight to see. I never tire of them. They come out on Sunday’s at Harajuku station at about 11am.
7. Omotesando Dori, Tokyo, Japan. Start at Harajuku station and walk the length of Omotesando to the Nezu museum. Along the way on the right is Louis Vuitton where the Japanese stand in line to buy bags. Past Omotesando crossing/Aoyama Dori, stop at Prada, a must see for the Herzog and de Meuron architecture. Bape Exclusive is behind Prada to the right. Also take a look at the Nezu gardens, but not the museum itself. I lived across from the Nezu when I lived in Japan.
8. The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey. Huge and illuminated in blue light, simply the most impressive space I have ever seen. My only non-Asian pick.
9. The Four Seasons Chiang Mai, Thailand, the best hotel experience I’ve ever had. Visit the hill tribes while your at it. I purchased a headdress from an Akha hill tribeswoman, something no one should be without.
10. OPTIONAL: The long necked Karen near Mae Hong Son, Thailand. The women of the Karen hill tribe wear brass rings to elongate their necks. Some say exploitive, others a tourist trap. I found them beautiful and gentle. Use you own moral compass.
Filmed by the talented Daniel Baer, the itinerary included:
- air market – Japanocentric shop dedicated to all things cute – 97 3rd Ave (12th/13th)
- Jas Mart – Supermarket just like in Japan – 35 Saint Mark’s Place
- Otofuku – Tiny restaurant serving takoyaki, grilled octopus balls (no octopuses don’t have balls you sick mind) – 236 East 9th St (2nd/3rd)
- Panya – Japanese bakery known for their green tea tiramisu – 10 Stuyvesant St (3rd Ave/9th St)
- Giant Robot – Books, toys, pop culture fabulousness – 437 East 9th St (1st/A)