theSundaily.my Travel http://www.thesundaily.my/sites/default/files/images/thesundaily_logo_google.png theSundaily.my Travel http://www.thesundaily.my/rss/lifestyle/travel http://www.thesundaily.my/rss/lifestyle/travel en In Morocco, a blue tourist town is turning green http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/11/20/morocco-blue-tourist-town-turning-green
Chefchaouen – known locally as Chaouen – wants to become a model for sustainable development at a time when the northwest African kingdom has shone a spotlight on its commitment to the environment and a greener future.

Take Aziz, a local council employee in his forties. He whizzes silently around town on an electric bicycle doing his job as an inspector of building sites.

"It's a practical and eco-friendly way of getting around!" he says.

"It respects the environment and allows us to get around easily without using polluting modes of transport," Aziz says, wearing a fluorescent safety vest and with a helmet firmly on his head.

Mohamed Sefiani, mayor of the town of some 45,000 residents where visitors come to admire hundreds of hues of blue, says Chefchaouen began to go green more than seven years ago.

"In April 2010, the municipal council took a unanimous decision aimed at transforming Chaouen into an ecologically sustainable town," he says.

Local political commitment to the project is strong, the mayor says, but much still needs to be done.

"Chefchaouen isn't an ecological town yet, but it certainly has the will to become one," says a smiling Sefiani.

"We are in a transition phase. At a Moroccan and African level, we're among the most advanced towns in this respect."

Raising awareness

A newly inaugurated municipal swimming pool equipped with solar energy is near an "ecology centre" built from recycled containers where the town's green projects, funded mainly by the European Union and backed by several NGOs, are highlighted.

France's GERES – Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity – was asked to help transform Chefchaouen.

"It was at the town's request that we came here to support its energy and climatic transition," says the NGO's Virginie Guy, who is coordinating the project.

Among the initiatives is an "info-energy" centre to raise awareness about energy savings, photovoltaic panels at several sites, such as the municipal library, that contribute to electricity production, and an environmentally oriented museum is also nearly complete.

The info-energy centre's Houda Hadji explains the basics of eco-construction, energy efficiency and the benefits of energy-saving lightbulbs, among other green topics.

"There's very strong interest" from visitors to the centre, says the young guide, her hair concealed under an elegant veil.

"This is the first initiative in Morocco working on energy upgrading in buildings, and providing information about savings, targeting both businesses and individuals," she adds.

Chefchaouen is one of 12 southern Mediterranean locations to benefit from a European programme that has granted it around 10 million dirhams (RM11 million) and declared the town "a model and initiator of change in sustainable energy management".

But not everything is green yet in the little blue town.

"The public dump is not yet up to standard," Mayor Sefiani concedes.

"We're working on a landfill and recovery centre, and I think that by 2021, we will have ironed out all the problems."

Renewable energy

With "green" mosques, solar and wind farms, electric buses and a ban on plastic bags, Morocco has been forging ahead with environment-friendly policies over the past few years.

It regularly trumpets its proactive strategy in terms of green energy, instigated by King Mohammed VI.

Late last year, in the southern city of Marrakesh, the country hosted the COP22 international climate conference and has begun an ambitious plan to develop renewable energy.

In a country devoid of hydrocarbon resources, the aim is to increase the share of renewable energies nationally to 52 % by 2030 (20 % solar, 20 % wind, 12 % hydro).

A massive flagship project was inaugurated by the king in Feb last year. The Noor solar power plant is on the edge of the Sahara desert, some 20km outside Ouarzazate.

Spread over an area equivalent to more than 600 football pitches, the plant's half a million metal mirrors follow the sun as it moves across the sky and stores the energy collected from its rays.

Despite pushing its green credentials, Morocco still has many environmental hurdles to clear on its way to cleaner horizons.

A recent World Bank report covered by Moroccan media spoke of "alarming" peaks of atmospheric pollution in the country's major cities.

And a number of eco-projects announced to great fanfare during the 2016 COP22 conference remain just that – announcements. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Sun, 19 Nov 2017 20:05:45 +0000 theSundaily 504616 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Londoners play dirty in erotic Scrabble speed dating http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/11/19/londoners-play-dirty-erotic-scrabble-speed-dating
In the process he is transforming the venerable boardgame, a favourite of wordsmiths around the world, into an exercise in erotic diction.

On a recent rainy autumn evening, his event – called "Dirty Scrabble" – attracted a small coterie of singletons, young and old, to a cosy pub lounge in the bustling west London district of Hammersmith.

Trendy music, dimmed lights, candles, cocktails, and a naughty game: everything was in place for romance to blossom.

Entrepreneur Jordi Sinclair, the founder of a company called Smudged Lipstick, which organises "random, quirky events", is the brain behind the idea of combining dating with filthy wordplay.

'You're less uncomfortable'

"People like Scrabble but in a dating capacity it's maybe a bit too straight," the 35-year-old, wearing a black t-shirt and ripped jeans, told AFP.

"Dirty words tend to open up the conversation."

However, Scrabble is a game of patience requiring the utmost concentration, and seemingly ill-suited to the frenetic pace and emotional tension inherent in the timed meetings of speed-dating.

So Sinclair has devised some new, minimal, rules to his dirty version: no points, 11 letters picked out at a time instead of seven, and the right to take some liberties with spelling.

He hopes players will shed any sense of shame and embrace the maxim: "Where there is embarrassment, there is no pleasure".

"We try to make it as dirty as possible," Sinclair said. "After a drink or two, the words become a lot dirtier.

"We want people to be creative with their words as well, so if they want to come up with new words that are dirty, they can."

True to the speed-dating formula, players move from table to table, with seven-minute games at each.

On the boards, word sequences invariably throw up something to smile about – intentionally or not – and can resemble a libertine conversation.

A shared "H" gives rise to "hung" and "hot", while nearby, "boobs" leads to "dogy", which in turn produces "yea" and then "ass".

"There's been some awful words – everything from penis, arse, gonads," said Neil Shah, a 40-year-old participant, in a pink sweater.

"But it's fun ... people are relaxed and sometimes using ridiculous language breaks down the barrier so you're laughing and you're less uncomfortable."

Shah believes the art of communication has been lost in the digital age and welcomes anything, including Dirty Scrabble, that means "you have to have a conversation".

Even better than an app

Scrabble-lover Tamara Jacobs, 34, jumped at the chance to meet a man in the flesh, and not through an online app.

"I don't really have time to sit around and swipe through a catalogue of men to figure out if one of them is worthy of conversation," she said, turned out for the evening in a floral dress.

On the board, her linguistic sparring partner lines up a slang word for ejaculation.

"Wow, OK ... Now we're getting in the game!" she promptly exclaimed, laughing.

In some instances, connected words create suggestive combinations: "Love sexy boy rod", "bite ear" or "biteme heaven", among them.

Meanwhile if sparks are not flying between a couple, Dirty Scrabble can help avoid those awkward silences.

"If it gets a bit flustered you can play a couple of words, think of another question," said Dave Anthony, 32, sporting a t-shirt and beard for the occasion.

"You're not sitting there like a deer in headlights."

Later in the night, guests divulge to Sinclair – under strict secrecy – the names of those they would like to see again.

For some, the hunt for a soulmate goes on.

But before the results are even in, the game seems to have worked its magic, as two of his singletons slip out of the bar together.

Could Dirty Scrabble have given them ideas?. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Sat, 18 Nov 2017 20:07:43 +0000 theSundaily 504388 at http://www.thesundaily.my
New York Public Library's famed Fifth Avenue building set for renovation http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/11/18/new-york-public-librarys-famed-fifth-avenue-building-set-renovation
Inside, the Schwarzman Building, located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, houses one of the leading research libraries in the US.

Dutch architecture form Mecanoo is behind the master plan for the revamp, which focuses on a 20 percent increase in public space for research, exhibitions and education, and the transformation of long-underutilized historic spaces.

Plans also include the addition of an entrance and plaza on 40th Street, an updated visitor experience including a café and new shop, and a permanent exhibition in the building's Gottesman Hall that will rotate treasures from the library collection.

"We have developed a Master Plan that inherently adheres to the logic of a Beaux-Arts building," said Mecanoo's Francine Houben.

Mecanoo is joined in the project by the New York City-based firm Beyer Blinder Belle; the two firms are likewise leading the renovation of the Mid-Manhattan Library branch located across Fifth Avenue, to reopen in 2020 as the entirely renovated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library.

Work on the Schwarzman Building will begin in 2018 and continue through 2021. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Fri, 17 Nov 2017 20:09:04 +0000 theSundaily 504174 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Art021, West Bund fairs anchor Shanghai art week http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/11/07/art021-west-bund-fairs-anchor-shanghai-art-week
Anchoring Shanghai's art week is Art021, a contemporary art fair that is now in its fifth edition. From Nov 8 through 12 (public days are Nov. 10-12), the fair will welcome 102 galleries from 11 countries for an event intended to join "local resources with a global perspective".

In addition to the fair's main section, which is devoted to 21st-century art, the Beyond program will feature a series of public projects that will broaden the fair's reach. Details of that program are still to come.

Also serving as a focal point for Shanghai art week is West Bund Art & Design, held in the dynamic cultural district that gives the fair its name. In its fourth edition, the event runs Nov 10-12 and will feature 70 galleries in its main section. New this year, the Talent sector will present solo and group shows by emerging artists.

Like Art021, West Bund Art & Design includes a public component: the ArtReview Asia Xian Chang program (named for the Chinese words for "on the spot" or "at the site") will showcase cutting-edge works in public spaces both inside and outside the fair. While the full program has yet to be finalized, participating artists include Damien Hirst, Lynn Chadwick, Djordje Ozbolt and Ding Yi.

Visitors to the city will have plenty of other arts happenings to explore. Among them, at K11, Chinese-American artist Adrian Wong will present a multi-sensory installation titled "New Orient Garden" that examines the experience of living within megacities and their diaspora communities. Taking a cement tiger as its starting point, the installation includes imagery that makes reference to a classical Suzhou garden, Lingnan ink painting and a neon-lit Hong Kong landscape.

Meanwhile, the Rockbund Art Museum will showcase works by the four emerging artists shortlisted for this year's Hugo Boss Asia Art Award. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Mon, 06 Nov 2017 20:05:26 +0000 theSundaily 500593 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Finnair is asking passengers to step on the scale before they board http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/11/06/finnair-asking-passengers-step-scale-they-board
Before you tweet the airline to express your outrage, however, take note that the program is voluntary, and for a good cause: to collect data on the average weight of passengers and their carry-on bags during the winter months, when travelers don heavier coats and winter boots, reported Yle News.

Airlines in Europe base their planeloads in part on stats from the European Aviation Safety Agency. The last report, dated 2008-2009, recommended calculating 94 kg for male passengers (207 lbs) and 75 kg for females flyers (165 lbs) including carry-on luggage.

But the report also spoke of the rise in obesity rates, notably among children and adolescents, and pointed out the need to update calculations in the next 10 years when the demographic grows into adulthood.

To fine-tune its fuel needs, plane loads and safety checks, Finnair will be conducting its own data-collecting study during the month of November, with the aim of recruiting about 2,000 volunteers.

It's not the first time an airline has asked its passengers to disclose their weight. In 2013, Samoa Air made international headlines when it announced plans to charge passengers based on their body mass.

Hawaiian Airlines also conducted a voluntary survey in 2016 asking passengers to step on the scale with their carry-on luggage as part of a fuel-saving, weight-distribution and safety measure. AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Sun, 05 Nov 2017 20:07:44 +0000 theSundaily 500254 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Finnair is asking passengers to step on the scale before they board http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/11/05/finnair-asking-passengers-step-scale-they-board
Before you tweet the airline to express your outrage, however, take note that the program is voluntary, and for a good cause: to collect data on the average weight of passengers and their carry-on bags during the winter months, when travelers don heavier coats and winter boots, reported Yle News.

Airlines in Europe base their planeloads in part on stats from the European Aviation Safety Agency. The last report, dated 2008-2009, recommended calculating 94 kg for male passengers (207 lbs) and 75 kg for females flyers (165 lbs) including carry-on luggage.

But the report also spoke of the rise in obesity rates, notably among children and adolescents, and pointed out the need to update calculations in the next 10 years when the demographic grows into adulthood.

To fine-tune its fuel needs, plane loads and safety checks, Finnair will be conducting its own data-collecting study during the month of November, with the aim of recruiting about 2,000 volunteers.

It's not the first time an airline has asked its passengers to disclose their weight. In 2013, Samoa Air made international headlines when it announced plans to charge passengers based on their body mass.

Hawaiian Airlines also conducted a voluntary survey in 2016 asking passengers to step on the scale with their carry-on luggage as part of a fuel-saving, weight-distribution and safety measure. AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Sat, 04 Nov 2017 20:07:11 +0000 theSundaily 499966 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Copenhagen and Paris home to best Italian restaurants outside Italy http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/10/30/copenhagen-and-paris-home-best-italian-restaurants-outside-italy
In Gambero Rosso's round-up of the Top Italian Restaurants 2017, Era Ora in Copenhagen was given the highest honor for offering "the most complete culinary experience".

Along with a menu that delivers "extraordinarily precise" flavors thanks to a respect for tradition and the use of superb ingredients, the restaurant offers a staggering wine list that features 80,000 bottles, all from Italy, editors note.

The dinner menu features dishes like tortiglioni pasta made with chicory and lentils and Ligurian-style rabbit served with turnip and honey.

The awards were created to mark Gambero Rosso's first international restaurant guide launched in English and Italian this month.

Meanwhile, the best pizzeria outside Italy is said to be found in Paris's Montmartre neighborhood, not far from the Sacre-Coeur Basilica.

At Gennaro Nasti's pizza restaurant Bijou, pizza is elevated to a gourmet experience with premium ingredients like melty Stracciatella, Parma ham, eggplant purée, and basil grown in Italy.

So far, the "Top Italian Restaurants" guide includes the best dining destinations in cities like Toronto, Seoul, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Moscow, Sydney and London.

Other big winners include Alessandro Cozzolino, who was named chef of the year for his work at Ristorante Grissini at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hong Kong and Rigo restaurant in London, which was named the opening of the year.

The full list can be found at www.gamberorosso.it/restaurants/. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Sun, 29 Oct 2017 20:09:00 +0000 theSundaily 497933 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Copenhagen and Paris home to best Italian restaurants outside Italy http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/10/29/copenhagen-and-paris-home-best-italian-restaurants-outside-italy
In Gambero Rosso's round-up of the Top Italian Restaurants 2017, Era Ora in Copenhagen was given the highest honor for offering "the most complete culinary experience".

Along with a menu that delivers "extraordinarily precise" flavors thanks to a respect for tradition and the use of superb ingredients, the restaurant offers a staggering wine list that features 80,000 bottles, all from Italy, editors note.

The dinner menu features dishes like tortiglioni pasta made with chicory and lentils and Ligurian-style rabbit served with turnip and honey.

The awards were created to mark Gambero Rosso's first international restaurant guide launched in English and Italian this month.

Meanwhile, the best pizzeria outside Italy is said to be found in Paris's Montmartre neighborhood, not far from the Sacre-Coeur Basilica.

At Gennaro Nasti's pizza restaurant Bijou, pizza is elevated to a gourmet experience with premium ingredients like melty Stracciatella, Parma ham, eggplant purée, and basil grown in Italy.

So far, the "Top Italian Restaurants" guide includes the best dining destinations in cities like Toronto, Seoul, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Moscow, Sydney and London.

Other big winners include Alessandro Cozzolino, who was named chef of the year for his work at Ristorante Grissini at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hong Kong and Rigo restaurant in London, which was named the opening of the year.

The full list can be found at www.gamberorosso.it/restaurants/. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Sat, 28 Oct 2017 20:07:57 +0000 theSundaily 497652 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Study shows that Facebook and Instagram 'likes' are influencing our travel decisions http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/10/28/study-shows-facebook-and-instagram-likes-are-influencing-our-travel-decisions
The results of the University of Georgia study confirm what many people active on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter already know: that potential validation among friends and peers on social media can be as influential a factor as price and weather when deciding where to travel.

For their study, researchers developed a "Social Return Scale" (SRS) which was used to predict whether 758 US travelers intended to visit Cuba over the next year, next five years, and next decade based on anticipated social media feedback on their travel experiences.

Why Cuba? Because following the loosening of travel restrictions under the Obama administration, Cuba has become a trending destination among US travelers with the potential to generate more social media buzz than other, more accessible Caribbean destinations, authors reasoned.

While the anticipated social return of traveling to Cuba was a good predictor across all three time periods, researchers noted that social return had the greatest influence for predicting travel within the next year, when the formerly closed-off island remains a novelty destination for American travelers.

"While travel and social standing have a long history of interconnectedness, social media has fundamentally changed the nature of this form of conspicuous consumption," said study lead author Bynum Boley in a statement.

"No longer do peers have to take each other's word on where they have traveled or wait for the slideshow upon returning from the trip. Travelers are now able to receive instant gratification and recognition through posting pictures of their travels."

The more impressive a destination can sound to peers on social media, the more likely people are to book a trip in the near future, according to the research.

"This is especially important as narcissism becomes more normalized and the posting of travel experiences on social media becomes a more prominent primary motivation for travel," Boley added.

The findings were published recently in the journal Tourism Management. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Fri, 27 Oct 2017 20:06:16 +0000 theSundaily 497455 at http://www.thesundaily.my
Study shows that Facebook and Instagram 'likes' are influencing our travel decisions http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/10/27/study-shows-facebook-and-instagram-likes-are-influencing-our-travel-decisions
The results of the University of Georgia study confirm what many people active on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter already know: that potential validation among friends and peers on social media can be as influential a factor as price and weather when deciding where to travel.

For their study, researchers developed a "Social Return Scale" (SRS) which was used to predict whether 758 US travelers intended to visit Cuba over the next year, next five years, and next decade based on anticipated social media feedback on their travel experiences.

Why Cuba? Because following the loosening of travel restrictions under the Obama administration, Cuba has become a trending destination among US travelers with the potential to generate more social media buzz than other, more accessible Caribbean destinations, authors reasoned.

While the anticipated social return of traveling to Cuba was a good predictor across all three time periods, researchers noted that social return had the greatest influence for predicting travel within the next year, when the formerly closed-off island remains a novelty destination for American travelers.

"While travel and social standing have a long history of interconnectedness, social media has fundamentally changed the nature of this form of conspicuous consumption," said study lead author Bynum Boley in a statement.

"No longer do peers have to take each other's word on where they have traveled or wait for the slideshow upon returning from the trip. Travellers are now able to receive instant gratification and recognition through posting pictures of their travels."

The more impressive a destination can sound to peers on social media, the more likely people are to book a trip in the near future, according to the research.

"This is especially important as narcissism becomes more normalized and the posting of travel experiences on social media becomes a more prominent primary motivation for travel," Boley added.

The findings were published recently in the journal Tourism Management. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Travel Fri, 27 Oct 2017 02:35:57 +0000 theSundaily 497137 at http://www.thesundaily.my