Asia Begin Again
SPRING TRAVEL IDEAS TO AWAKEN YOUR WANDERLUST
Spring is like nature’s apology for the short and gloomy days of winter. As the ice melts, gushing streams transform dormant terrain into verdant landscapes abound with color. Around the world, the shifting of the seasons awakens communities both rural and metropolitan. Budding farmland flourishes with the season’s first harvests as bustling markets fill with fragrant fresh produce. Adventurous explorers take to the trails seeking that precious glimpse of fragile newborn wildlife. Whether you journey seeking relaxation, adventure, cuisine or culture, spring travel evokes a spirit of change—where nature thrives, people emerge and festivities resume.
IF YOU SEEK RELAXATION: JAPAN
The blooming of the cherry blossoms, or sakura, is more than a spectacular vernal event. It’s the embodiment of a deeply-held Japanese value; that life’s most cherished moments are beautiful not in spite of their fleeting nature, but as a result of it. Only in Japan could a simple event hold such profound symbolism to the transient nature of life itself. These iconic light pink florets burst into bloom for a few short weeks in the spring, transforming already beautiful parks, squares and corridors into fragrant, floral fantasies.
The sakura is a highly anticipated occasion, as the nation is ardently devoted to the important task of forecasting its precise arrival—first in Okinawa in the south as early as January, passing through Tokyo in March and finally progressing North to Hokkaido in May. Visiting during this time is a truly unique experience, and not only for the beautiful flowering trees or the sweet floral fragrance wafting through the air.
Japanese have some of the longest working hours in the world. For a nation so diligently dedicated to its work, the sakura is a rare opportunity for reprieve. During this time, people are encouraged to relax and take time to appreciate the short-lived beauty of the season through one of Japan’s most time-honored rituals: the hanami, or “flower-viewing.”
Similar to a picnic, public spaces take on a relaxed, celebratory atmosphere as locals bring food and drinks to enjoy beneath the blossoms in city parks, castle grounds, landscape gardens and along riverbanks. Stores stock their shelves with limited-edition cherry-blossom-flavored candy bars, dumplings, beer and even flower-dusted sakura Frappuccino’s. Witnessing it all in person—the commerce, the tradition and, of course, the flowers—is to participate in an act of rebirth; a time when both landscapes and people reinvent themselves.
“Corresponding with the guests, we suggest great blossom-viewing locations from famous to hidden. We can have romantic picnics arranged under the trees, or we can send guests on a chartered helicopter flight over one of the most beautiful cherry blossom regions. We can also suggest the best places to enjoy the custom of hanami, where guests can join locals and enjoy lounging under the blossoms with a cup of sake, reveling in the nice weather, good food (grilling under the trees is also part of the custom these days), and great company.”
– Avi & Meredith, Windows to Japan
To call Singapore amazing would be a grave injustice. This is the birthplace of some seriously innovative technology, like the Gardens by the Bay, the world’s first electronic forest. These sustainable botanical gardens are home to colorfully illuminated “supertrees” as high as 50 meters that generate solar power, regulate temperature and collect rainwater. Bursting with modern architecture, groundbreaking technology and a thriving culinary scene, the city oozes creativity and innovation at every turn. There is no destination better suited to host the World Gourmet Summit in April.
Started in 1997, Singapore’s World Gourmet Summit is the most highly anticipated food and wine festival in all of Asia, featuring only Michelin-starred culinary masters and the most celebrated vintners from around the world. Imagine the most incredible dessert you’ve ever enjoyed, balanced atop an intricate tower of dark chocolate entwined with fresh herbs and dusted in flakes of 24 karat gold. Then, imagine this level of culinary artistry replicated three-hundredfold at various restaurants and venues around the city. This is the caliber of the World Gourmet Summit. The festival’s events include a gourmet golf experience, culinary masterclasses, gourmet safaris, an award ceremony and celebrity tasting tables. A foodie destination year-round, this is a time to experience Singapore’s food scene truly elevated.
“Among Singapore’s multiple, culinary influences, South Indian cuisine enjoys a special place in the city’s food scene. The grand dame of Keralan cooking, Dhershini, is one of Singapore’s best-known food influencers. Her creations are uniquely imaginative, yet they retain their distinctly South Indian flavors. We can arrange a Kerala-style dinner with Dhershini, where you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to prepare the dishes in her home kitchen.”
– Eric Kareus, Asia Transpacific Journeys