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The first capsule hotels of Japan were originally targeted towards businessmen who burned the midnight oil and missed the last bus or train back home. Instead of staying in pricey hotels, or worse, sleeping out on the streets, capsule hotels offered these tired businessmen an affordable place to stay for the night. Although they are designed to be very compact, all the essentials of an overnight stay are provided. For my recent trip to Kyoto, a friend and I managed to book capsules at 9h nine hours, a capsule hotel located at the historic and bustling district of Gion. Listed down below are four reasons why you shouldn’t shy away from this peculiar hotel during your next visit to Japan! 1. It’s affordable. Japan is no cheap country to travel to. And if you’re there to sightsee rather than do a staycation, the last thing you want to spend money…

Dover Street Market is more than just a concept-store, it is a space for artistic eclecticism. What sets Dover Street Market apart from most department stores is the unrestrained creativity it harbors. Art installations are displayed alongside designer clothing making it seem more like an art gallery than a boutique. The store is described by its owner, Rei Kawakubo – the designer behind Comme des Garçons – as an “ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos,” and this impression becomes clear as soon as you step into the store. Previously the Komatsu Department Store from 1946, this revamped six-story building is a blank canvas for creatives to exhibit their work. Without the clothing racks and the artworks, the building would only be comprised of empty white rooms. All of the artists displaying their work inside Dover Street Market were picked by Kawakubo herself. Among the installations are “Pulse” by Kyoto-based Kohei Nawa,…

Upon arriving in Quanzhou, I was struck by how much the city has progressed since I last visited. The development the city has undergone during the past couple of years during China’s economic boom has been staggering. Modern infrastructure exists together with old buildings preserved since the Tang Dynasty, resulting in a juxtaposition between old and new. Quanzhou may not be a famous tourist destination, but it holds a major significance in China’s history. A coastal city on the south eastern Fujian province, this city was one of the busiest ports in the world during the Song Dynasty; Quanzhou used to be an avenue for trade with Arabs and Tamil merchants among others. It is also an epicenter for emigration since many residents left the city and moved to the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, accounting for the majority of the Chinese communities throughout the region. Licheng District The city’s history of…

Last year, I took part in a pilgrimage to Mount Putuo, one of China’s five major Buddhist religious mountains. Hauled along by an energetic tour guide who explained everything in either Mandarin or Fukien (ergo I didn’t really understand much), we snaked around the busy streets of Shanghai and paid our respects to a multitude of ancient Chinese temples in the nearby provinces. Now when you think of the word “pilgrimage,” you think of a quiet, spiritual experience through a billowing cloud of incense smoke, of monks draped in bright orange robes, and of fellow pilgrims offering a small prayer to the assembly of Buddhist gods before them. All of these things were there, but multiply the pilgrims exponentially. We literally had to make our way through a sea of humanity just to get to the different temples within Mount Putuo. The weather was hot and humid as we navigated…

Imagine this— a soft sea breeze, the warmth of the mid-afternoon sun slowly ebbing way, a glass of crisp Alsatian white wine in your hand, and a basket of flaky, freshly-baked croissants on the table in front of you. Looking up from the book that you’re reading, you see the sun leisurely making its descent into the deep, crystalline blue waters of the sea, casting soft, golden sunbeams on the small fishing boats making their way back to the village. Sounds infinitely better than your stuffy office cubicle, am I right? Just a 20-minute plane ride from Manila lies Balesin Island Club, an exclusive 500-hectare tropical paradise with its own private beaches located off the coast of Quezon Province. Balesin has a total of seven themed villages: Balesin, Bali, Phuket, Mykonos, Costa del Sol, Toscana, and finally, St. Tropez, where my family and I managed to book a room after a…