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Jet Set-back of the Week: What’s a Wat Gotta Do With It?

April 18, 2010

New temples of consumerism: Wanderlust Cambodia

Let’s get one thing clear: I like to shop when I travel.  I love finding those unique things that ‘you would never see at home’.  Some mornings when I get dressed, I run a mental check of where I have purchased the components of my outfit and then silently congratulate myself for my worldly style.

That said, this week’s set-back is detouring from image to word precisely because this weekend, FT’s Mystery Shopper got under my skin in precisely the way an ugly jet-setter would.

Apparently in need of a weekend of retail therapy following a whirlwind business trip through Asia, Ms. Mystery detoured from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia, a place in which, she tells us, “most soon realise that if it’s the temples at nearby Angkor Wat (6km north of the city) that draw you in, it is the shopping that brings you back.” Read more…


Weekend Eye: M.I.T’s Visualizing Cultures

April 17, 2010
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image from Brinkley's 'Japan': courtesy of

This weekend, I am focusing on two visual culture tools that I am currently digging.  In this weekend’s Educational Life supplement to the New York Times, Randy Kennedy profiles M.I.T’s online education program ‘Visualizing Cultures’.

Started in 2002 by two professors (one, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian), ‘Visualizing Cultures‘ defines itself as ‘image-driven scholarship’: an online platform that uses the web to compile images of all kinds—paintings, photographs, advertisements, cartoons— to better understand how, historically, different cultures saw themselves and others, and conversely, how others saw them.  As the website states: “Visualizing Cultures weds images and scholarly commentary in innovative ways to illuminate social and cultural history.”

Focused mostly on Asian cultures, the website has become a virtual museum in its own right, and was honored with an award from the Association of Asian Studies last year. Stunning visuals are accompanied by scholarly essays.

It’s a trip to the museum from the comfort of your couch.

Chatter Box: Tell Your Tall Travel Tales

April 15, 2010

WYS? Travel Conversational Cards

When it’s not a been-there, done-that contest, I love the art of travel talk.

Lately, my favorite dinner game has been: You have unlimited time, an unlimited budget, and an air ticket that will take you eight places in the world, where would you go?

(Today’s answer: Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Morocco, Uzbekistan, India, Indonesia, Australia)

Now I know where to turn when this gets old: WYS? Travel Conversational Cards by Corban and Blair.

These cards are packed with fun questions to trigger great memories and inspire the storyteller in us all.

On the road or at the dinner table, this beautiful box of cards will remind you of the rewards of life outside of the box.

WYS? (What’s Your Story) Travel Conversational Cards

  • 50 cards
  • bright, vintage postcard design theme
  • boxed with ribbon tab on pull-out card tray

$25 available here.

Let Bobby Sinclar Put a Little Spring in Your Step

April 14, 2010

Does the recent Spring weather have you feeling as restless as me? Feed your Wednesday wanderlust with one of my favorites…

From I and I to everyone.

Exchanging Real Guns for Water Guns: Thailand Celebrates the New Year

April 12, 2010

Miss Songkran 2009 photo: Richard Barrow for

With the recent weekend’s peaceful Red Shirt protests turned violent, the typically gentle Thai could use an excuse to cool off.  Luckily,  the Songkran Festival (their traditional New Year), which officially begins today, is just what the doctor ordered.

Though the Thai have followed the Western calendar since 1940, the Songkran Festival remains an important celebratory holiday. Songkran marks the end of the dry season, and the hottest time of the year in Thailand. While the festival was traditionally a time to pay respect to one’s elders and visit the temple, the celebration is now known best as an occasion for the throwing of water. Read more…

Dior Double Take: Is Lady Blue in the Mood?

April 12, 2010

The latest Lady Dior Lady Blue ad campaign

Is it just me, or does anyone else, upon seeing the latest Lady Dior ad campaign, immediately think In the Mood for Love’?

The new Dior handbag campaign, entitled “Lady Blue”, depicts actress Marion Cotillard on a balcony overlooking Shanghai with a Tony Leung look-alike.

The campaign, shot by Steven Klein, is the third in a four-chapter series, and will be followed by a 12-minute film directed by David Lynch, shot in Shanghai and set to debut on on May 15.  While the website will begin running teasers on April 20th, it currently shows an image of smoke- coincidentally?- reminiscent of one of the most evocative scenes in In the Mood for Love?

Whether or not you want the Dior handbag, see Wong Kar-Wai’s masterpiece of a film.  It is worthy of imitation.

Wong Kar-Wai: In the Mood for Love

Smoke scene: In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love

Night Magic: The Alchemist in Marrakesh

April 11, 2010

Marrakesh photo:Oliver Hartung for the New York Times

I love this photo from today’s Why We Travel section in the New York Times. The man, Ibrahim, is apparently a Berber from south Morocco, and a magician.

A little visual inspiration as you seek you personal legend.