564 Slices
Medium 9781743216774

Mumbai (Bombay)

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

%022 / Pop 21.1 million

Mumbai is big. It’s full of dreamers and hard-labourers, starlets and gangsters, stray dogs and exotic birds, artists and servants and fisherfolk and crorepatis (millionaires) and lots and lots of people. It has India’s most prolific film industry, some of Asia’s biggest slums (as well as the world’s most expensive home) and the largest tropical forest in an urban zone. Mumbai is India’s financial powerhouse, fashion epicentre and a pulse point of religious tension. It’s even evolved its own language, Bambaiyya Hindi, which is a mix of…everything.

If Mumbai is your introduction to India, prepare yourself. The city isn’t a threatening place but its furious energy, limited public transport and punishing pollution makes it challenging for visitors. The heart of the city contains some of the grandest colonial-era architecture on the planet but explore a little more and you’ll uncover unique bazaars, hidden temples, hipster enclaves and India’s premier restaurants and nightlife.

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Medium 9781743218747

Siem Reap in Colour

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

Siem Reap is known as gateway to the temples of Angkor; however, there is much going on in and around town to warrant a visit on its own merit. Floating villages on the nearby Tonlé Sap, a superb selection of restaurants and bars, first-class shopping, first-rate cooking classes and a host of other activities as diverse as birdwatching and Vespa tours are all on offer.

The produce section at the Old Market is an atmospheric place to visit.

Houses on stilts make up the floating village of Kompong Pluk.

Get your fried-noodle fix at Psar Chaa, where the food is cheap, tasty and filling.

The largest enclosed butterfly centre in Southeast Asia provides a sustainable living for locals.

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Medium 9781743210222

Abu Dhabi

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

About 150km south of Dubai, the emirate of Abu Dhabi sits atop the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, but does not flaunt its wealth quite as brazenly as its neighbour. However, in recent years it too has built up a portfolio of attractions, sharpening its profile as an increasingly popular tourist destination of its own. The key project is a new Cultural District on Saadiyat Island designed by international starchitects, including branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim art museums.

g Depart several times hourly from Dubai’s Al Ghubaiba station in Bur Dubai (single/return Dh25/50, two hours).

u Cabbies charge around Dh250 each way.

ATo get your bearings, consider a trip on the hop-on, hop-off Big Bus Abu Dhabi (%02-449 0026; www.bigbustours.com; 24hr adult/child Dh200/100, 48hr adult/child Dh260/130; h9am-7pm).

ATake a free guided tour of the Grand Mosque, which includes a Q&A (in English).

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Medium 9781743215609

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

A sensory whirl of roofs and pillars, intricate latticework, bridges, flowers and incense, this bustling Taoist temple, built in 1973, has something for all walks of Hong Kong society, from pensioners and tycoons to parents and young professionals. Some come simply to pray and thank the deity, some to divine their future, others to get hitched – Sik Sik Yuen is an appointed temple for Taoist weddings.

The temple is north of Wong Tai Sin MTR station, in the middle of the Wong Tai Sin area.

m Wong Tai Sin, exit B2

GOOGLE MAP
嗇色園黃大仙祠 %2327 8141, 2351 5640; www.siksikyuen.org.hk; 2, Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin; donation HK$2; h7am-5.30pm; mWong Tai Sin, exit B2

AColourful ceremonies take place in the main altar; call for times.

ANearby gadget heaven, Ap Liu Street Flea Market (鴨寮街 GOOGLE MAP ; Ap Liu St, btwn Nam Cheong & Yen Chow Sts, Sham Shui Po; hnoon-midnight; mSham Shui Po, exit A1); artists' studios at Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (賽馬會創意藝術中心, JCCAC GOOGLE MAP ; www.jccac.org.hk; 30 Pak Tin St, Shek Kip Mei; h10am-10pm; mShek Kip Mei, exit C).

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Medium 9781742207582

Azerbaijan

Planet, Lonely Lonely Planet Publications ePub

%994 / Pop 9.6 million

Selling itself as the 'Land of Fire', Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan) is a tangle of contradictions and contrasts. Neither Europe nor Asia, it's a nexus of ancient historical empires, but also a ‘new’ nation rapidly transforming itself with a super-charged gust of petro-spending.

The cosmopolitan capital, Baku, rings a Unesco-listed ancient core with dazzling 21st-century architecture and sits on the oil-rich Caspian Sea. In the surrounding semi-desert are mud volcanoes and curious fire phenomena. Yet barely three hours’ drive away, timeless rural villages, clad in lush orchards and backed by the soaring Great Caucasus mountains are a dramatic contrast. In most such places, foreigners remain a great rarity, but in return for a degree of linguistic skills, you'll find a remarkable seam of hospitality. And a few rural outposts – from village homestays to glitzy ski- and golf-hotels – now have have the odd English speaker to assist travellers.

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