Travel & Cultures

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Scotland’s southernmost distillery, Bladnoch, has launched a special Bicentennial Release as a celebration of its rich history and a toast to its new chapter of renaissance.

Offering the perfect balance between provenance and progression, Bladnoch is enjoying an exciting revival in its 200th year, having been bought by Australia’s own David Prior – a successful yoghurt magnate – who bought the distillery in 2015. Becoming the first Australian to invest in Scotland’s whisky industry. Changing fates and fortunes over the years resulted in the distillery switching hands several times, before it fell silent and ceased production. Inspired by its story and charm, Prior and his team have set about turning this important piece of Scotch whisky history into a modern day distilling operation with production recommencing last year.

Made from just two exceptional casks of whisky distilled in 1988, the release is limited to just 200 bottles. Initially matured in Oloroso Sherry, the special malt was finished for the last 18 months in Moscatel casks. Described by Master Distiller, Ian Macmillan, as “Chestnut gold in colour, our bicentennial release has lovely rich sherry and acacia aromas with notes of dark chocolate, sweet oak and citrus with a long and satisfying finish. This is a fantastic whisky to mark this incredible milestone and I’d say it is best enjoyed shared, and savoured, with friends and family.”

Bottled at cask strength 41.2% ABV, the new malt will be available in select international markets for an RRP of $8,800AUD per bottle. The release is presented in a luxurious gold and glass bottle with a heavy gold stopper, designed by David Prior.

Commenting on the Bladnoch journey so far, David Prior said: “In the last three years, we have significantly invested in Bladnoch to revive whisky production, as we strive to give Scotland’s most southerly distillery back its true title as the ‘Queen of the Lowlands’.

“We may be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the distillery, but Bladnoch’s renaissance chapter is only just beginning.”

Crafted using only the purest ingredients – pristine water from the River Bladnoch and Scottish barley – Bladnoch malts are non-chill filtered and naturally coloured. The range includes Samsara, Adela 15 Year Old and Talia 25 Year Old. Bladnoch’s sister expression, Pure Scot, offers a zesty and versatile blended Scotch whisky.

Experience The Taste of Scotland @ bladnoch.com

Travel expert and Lonely Planet APAC Spokesperson, Chris Zeiher reveals the new trend in ‘Reverse Tourism’ between Japan and Australia.

For over 12 months, Lonely Planet’s guidebook to Japan (now in its 15th edition) has dominated the bookselling charts riding high as the #1 selling title in the travel category on ACNielsen Bookscan. But it’s not this title alone selling in unprecedented numbers. Lonely Planet’s Best of Japan 1 currently sits at the #2 selling title on the same chart and Lonely Planet’s Japanese Phrasebook 8 occupies the #4 position. That’s 3 of the bestselling guidebooks in Australia to one destination; Japan.

Having just returned from Japan myself it was evident with the volume of Aussie and Kiwi accents I encountered during the trip that this nation is the current “it child” for both Australian and New Zealand travellers.   

And it’s easy to see why. Incredibly efficient and affordable public transport, a favourable timezone (hooray, no jetlag), a competitive exchange rate and increased competition on direct flight options all adds to this destinations desirability. And the number of visitors has skyrocketed. Australian arrivals into Japan have increased by nearly 1000% in the last two decades where now close to half a million Australians are travelling annually.

Sadly however, the reverse is true of the Japanese traveller venturing to Australia. In the late 1990’s, arrival numbers were strong with in excess of 800,000 Japanese visiting Australia. Fast-forward by two decades and these numbers have halved. It’s not the Australian travel offering that’s contributing to this decline but simple economics. It’s more expensive for Japanese travellers to visit Australia than 2 decades ago and less expensive for Aussies heading to Japan – delivering better value for one and a decrease for the other.

As a destination Japan offers a vast and varied amount of experiences for the traveller. Japan’s cities are huge; the metropolis’ of Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama appear to be competing to out-bling one another. But it’s venturing further afield where Japan’s heart is quietly revealed. The forever scarred cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a must-visit for any traveller to Japan. Hiroshima’s Peace Park will bring any hardened traveller to tears; it’s a profound experience horribly unique to this now bustling and vibrant city.

But it’s not just the cities that are attracting the attention of the traveller. Japan’s ski fields have been a favourite haunt for travellers for years with Hokkaido’s ski resorts boasting some of the best powder in the world. Additionally, Japan’s cultural activities are driving travellers to the likes of Kyoto where the eagled-eyed try to spot a Geisha on her way to work in the city’s old town of Gion. The Japanese Alps town of Takayama is also drawing crowds with its abundance of Sake breweries, local produce markets and beautifully preserved old district.

Then there’s the food. Japan is a fantastic food adventure where travellers can choose from local favourites such as okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) and teppanyaki, to mouth-watering yakitori, soba noodle dishes, wasabi-salt encrusted tempura and a mind-boggling array of sushi and sashimi—you won’t leave Japan hungry.

Whatever the reason for visiting, Japan is proving to be one of the world’s best travel experiences and worthy of making it onto anyone’s ultimate travelist.

Explore Japan and the World @ LonelyPlanet.com

Loretta Napoleoni is an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organizations on counter-terrorism. Her new book: North Korea The Country We Love to Hate exposes a nuclear chess game of leverage and politics in which, the threat of war between power players is fuelled by economic needs and ego.

People love to take sides, good vs evil—this predilection creates an addiction to war. Loretta suggests a third option…PEACE between North and South Korea.

Deft strategies and an appetite for power have kept us at a stalemate but could this creative solution nullify the nuclear threat?

Loretta Napoleoni asks: ‘Are we Addicted to War?’

In 2017, North Korea attempted to prove to it is a nuclear power and has the capability to threaten the United Stated. The US response has been mixed: while at times Donald Trump has used a strong belligerent language against Kim Jong-un, including threatening military intervention, the White House adopted a peaceful approach, it mobilised the international community to impose economic sanctions. So far this policy has not being effective for several reasons, among which the peculiarity of the North Korean regime and the impossibility to force Pyongyang to end its nuclear programme.

To many, North Korea is an aberration, the antithesis of democracy: a totalitarian regime, ruled by a dictatorial dynasty that successfully reinvented feudalism. Nicknamed the hermit state, it is so secretive that separating fact from fiction is often problematic. Indeed, the mystery that surrounds it has proven advantageous to depict it as the ultimate dystopian society, an evil benchmark against which the spreading of democracy always appears positive. Even Iraq or Libya are perceived as better regimes than North Korea!

North Korea is the enemy we all love to hate.

Yet, for all the comfort this statement may bring, it fails to comprehensively describe the Pyongyang regime or to address the fundamental question: how do we deal with a nuclear North Korea?

From a more accurate analysis it emerges that the DPRK is a unique and resilient nation. It has survived the implosion of the Soviet Union and the modernization of Chinese communism – its northern neighbours and historical sponsors – without even the slightest attempt to open up to the West. Because of that, it does not fit neatly into any political classifications even if at the same time, it displays features of several of them.

The failure to fully understand North Korea has played in the hands of its regime and in particular of its nuclear programme. Donald Trump is the fourth president of the United States who has unsuccessfully promised to end it. Bill Clinton signed a deal in which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear development in exchange for oil and a civilian reactor, but neither side fulfilled its commitments and Pyongyang outsmarted Washington. Why? Clinton convinced Congress to ratify the agreement because he was sure the regime would fall before the delivery of the reactor.

George W. Bush initially refused bilateral negotiations but then changed his mind and joined the Six-Party Talks. Barack Obama first appeared conciliatory then retreated into a stonewalling policy called ‘strategic patience’. Finally, during his first year at the White House, Donald Trump led the UN Security Council to pass several rounds of additional sanctions against North Korea, which made Kim Jong-un more determined to show off North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

The young dictator is using the same strategy employed by his father. In the second half of the 1990s, Kim Jong-il used the nuclear program as a bargaining chip to get food, oil and other forms of assistance from the West. He succeeded in stringing along the US administration by playing the deterrence game. In the ultimate analysis, deterrence is a confidence game; to be effective, you need to convince people that, if they step over the line, you really will do the things you say you would do. Washington has to believe that Pyongyang will do to Tokyo or Seoul what it has said it would and Pyongyang has to believe that Washington will use the bomb.

How do we get out of this stalemate? Thinking outside the box. It is clear that becoming a nuclear power has been a game changer for Pyongyang, the regime has finally relaxed and is showing a conciliatory attitude towards South Korea, a nation with whom the DPRK is technically still at war. This confirms that nations seek nuclear capability not to use it but as the best form of détente against old and new foes, as proven by Pakistan, India, Israel and very soon Iran, countries that like North Korea have ignored the non-proliferation ban.

Against this scenario a revision of the international agreements is badly needed. By encouraging a peace treaty between North and South Korea, the United States and China could use such a diplomatic victory as a launching pad for a new nuclear protocol, one that allows proliferation, but only within very well defined parameters, and whose primary aim would be to empower the international community to contain and control nuclear weapons worldwide, including, of course, the US and China.

About the Book: In North Korea, The Country We Love to Hate, political analyst and bestselling author Loretta Napoleni challenges our Western preconceptions of North Korea. Napoleoni situates North Korea in context – historical and ideological – and answers questions central to our global future. This informative book is an account of a country central to world politics and yet little understood. Further, it presents insider narratives of its people, whose self-image is radically different to the image we have in the West. Released in Australia by UWA Publishing.

About the Author: Loretta Napoleoni is the best-selling author of Maonomics, Rogue Economics, Terror Incorporated and Insurgent Iraq. She is an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organisations on counter terrorism and money laundering. She is a regular media commentator for CNN, Sky News and the BBC, and writes for El Paris, The Guardian and Le Monde. Visit her @ lorettanapoleoni.net

Travel is an important part of culture and community and wildlife is a vital part of the experience. At Anantara Tangalle Resort in Sri Lanka, great care and attention has been given to designing a peace haven for guests that not only supports local communities but helps restore the natural wetlands as well.

Celebrating World Wetlands Day the resort’s Nature Guru, Anuradha Ediriweera spearheaded an initiative to plant one hundred trees along the natural river and mangroves within the resort premises. Resort guests, the local community, and authorities from the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Central Environmental Authority and Department of Forestry also participated in the tree planting event before engaging in a discussion on the values and threats towards the wetlands and the numerous sustainable initiatives championed by Anantara Tangalle. Students from the Kadurupokuna Maha Vidyalaya School in Tangalle and guests were delighted to play a part in the resort’s efforts to rebuild the wetlands.

Anuradha Ediriweera said, “We hope that this initiative will serve as a catalyst to inspire passion within our guests, the local community, and with support from the authorities, to set us on a committed pathway for a more sustainable future by taking actions today to retain, restore and preserve our wetlands and mangroves.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February annually to raise global awareness about the value of wetlands for humankind and the planet in general. Wetlands play valuable roles in flood control, water supply, provision of food, waste treatment and are sources of livelihoods among many other benefits. Unfortunately, in fast-growing cities, wetlands are often viewed as a wasteland – places to dump rubbish, fill in or convert to other uses; this general mindset must change and actions taken today to ensure a brighter future for everyone and generations to come.

Uthpala Adaranga, from the Department of Wildlife conservation of Sri Lanka added, “Wetlands play a major role in wildlife conservation. Wetlands are home to a wide range of water fowls, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and many more. Degradation of these vital habitats are causing challenges in wildlife conservation. Awareness, conservation and restoration should be widely implemented nationally and globally.”

The global theme for this year’s celebration is “Wetlands for a sustainable urban future” and highlights the importance of integrating wetlands into a city’s sustainable future planning and development. The benefits of wetlands grow even more crucial as the number of people living in cities has surpassed the 4 billion mark and continues to rise. By 2050, 66% of humanity will be city dwellers as people move into urban areas in search of better jobs and wellbeing. World Wetlands Day 2018 aims to raise awareness on how the wetlands contribute to the future of sustainable cities and rural areas.

Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort offers guests a unique resort experience in Sri Lanka. Located on the island’s southern coastline, the award-winning resort is set on a secluded stretch of beach amidst a 21-acre coconut plantation. Each of the 120 guest rooms and 32 private pool villas exude serenity with spacious interiors that blend comfortable luxury with modern amenities. Distinctive local experiences and rich cultural traditions are woven into the fabric of the resort and its diverse offerings.

For more information on Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, please visit anantara.com

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Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic have joined forces to further inspire the world through expedition travel. Their collaboration in exploration, research, technology and conservation will provide extraordinary travel experiences and disseminate geographic knowledge around the globe.

People seek exploration in wild places to experience adventure, to contribute to science and conservation, to encounter native wildlife and cultures—Lindblad and National Geographic connect travellers to all this and much more.

Discover the world @ expeditions.com