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’Tis the season to be adventurous

’Tis the season to be adventurous
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First Published: Fri, Dec 19 2008. 11 21 PM IST

Street savvy: Shopping in one of Hanoi’s street markets. InterContinental Hanoi
Street savvy: Shopping in one of Hanoi’s street markets. InterContinental Hanoi
Updated: Fri, Dec 19 2008. 11 21 PM IST
Maximizing the Cities
Street savvy: Shopping in one of Hanoi’s street markets. InterContinental Hanoi
Been to Hong Kong and walked along Victoria Harbour? So blah. Been to Hong Kong and taken part in a dawn tai chi lesson overlooking Victoria Harbour? Now you’re talking. Well, with the Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts’ Insider Experiences packages, you can walk the talk. Inspired by the chain’s expert concierge services, the packages—on offer at all 35 Intercontinental properties through the Asia-Pacific—work best for short-term stays and planned extensions to business trips. So once you’re done with the conferences, choose from the six Insider Experience categories on offer: leisure (spa treatments in Bali, cooking Thai in Bangkok, shopping in Hanoi’s local food markets), occasion (picnicking on a desert island in Bora Bora, gem-viewing in Perth), city (a 6-hour guided tour through Tokyo or Old Town, Shanghai), culture (chilling in the hot springs of Atami, a gourmet wine escape in Wellington), shopping (Apgujeong Rodeo Street in Seoul) and, most coveted of them all, events that everyone wants to get into, often combined with transportation, meals and other extras. To book, go to www.intercontinental.com/apacexperiences.
Hyderabad’s Secret-keeper
Glimpses: A temple in Golkonda fort, part of the Qutb Shahi Detour. Detours
It’s all too easy, we know, to do a city in India by the book and come away with the “missed out” feeling. Indian cities know how to keep their secrets and it’s a full-time job to delve into their depths. That’s why Jayanthi Rajagopalan, 37, quit her job with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to focus on her beloved Hyderabad, unearth its secrets and guide you into its labyrinthine lanes. “In my sales job, I travelled to almost every corner of the country and I became more and more convinced that we did not market our cities well. That’s why I set up Detours,” says the XLRI alumnus.
Detours is a tour company with a difference: You set the agenda and Jonty—as Jayanthi is better known—designs the tour. If you thought the dead tell no tales, sign up for the Necropolis Detour: It traces the history of Hyderabad through the tombs of its emperors, noblemen and saints. Or go for the Weavers’ Detour, into the homes of the artisans who create classic saris such as Pochampalli and Paithani. Jonty’s pride and joy, though, are the culinary tours, which uncover the mysteries of the biryani (but of course) and the chilli, among other kitchen staples. All tours can be customized and suit all budgets, ranging from Rs1,500 per person for a 150-minute Golkonda tour to Rs4,500 per person for a full-day White Mughals excursion.
Visit www.detoursindia.com for more details.
One For The Road
Road sense: Now brought to book.
From the common “Speed thrills but kills” to the completely baffling “Roads of 16, potholes free” (Leh-Kargil road), the black and yellow signs painted on rocks and roadside markers have long intrigued and bemused users of India’s highways. We’ve wondered who came up with gems such as “Mind your brakes or break your mind” and “Not witchcraft but watch craft that saves” on the Alchi-Kargil road. And consider the communication gaps that could lead to a sign such as “Fortune befriends the bold” in the Nubra valley. Did it take a mathematical genius to formulate “Divided attention equals multiplied troubles” (near Batalik)? And do you need to attain nirvana to figure out “Do not be a gama in the land of lama” (Jispa-Sarchu road, Himachal Pradesh)?
With Peep Peep Don’t Sleep, his compilation of road signs across 10,000km in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, writer-photographer Ajay Jain saves you the agony of dividing your attention between highway and hysteria while behind the wheel. The photographs actually tell the story; the captions are an unnecessary distraction.
Peep Peep Don’t Sleep, a collection of photos by Ajay Jain, is available at bookstores nationwide for Rs350.
3 things to do in | Palm Beach, Florida
Brenner Thomas,
Journalist
Walk the Lake Trail
Tribute: The Flagler Museum is a memorial to American opulence.
Winding past waterfront mansions and exercising socialites, this trail—reserved for pedestrians and bicyclists—hugs the Lake Worth lagoon and is known as the Trail of Conspicuous Consumption. Spanish-style homes housing celebrities (among them, the Kennedys, designer Vera Wang and man-of-the-moment Henry Paulson) are the norm but my favourite is Palm Beach’s oldest house, Gull Cottage—a shingled Victorian number from the late 19th century. The trail is best enjoyed in the morning.
Eat at Cafe Boulud
Chef Daniel Boulud, who operates some of the hottest spots in New York, including Daniel, opened his South Floridian outpost a few years ago in the Brazilian Court hotel, the site of alleged liaisons between Marilyn Monroe and JFK. Scandals aside, Boulud has raised the bar for gourmands on the island. Aperitifs in the hotel’s fabled courtyard are a must.
Visit the Flagler Museum
You may pick up some baubles along Worth Avenue, but the island’s alluring history is best gleaned at the Henry Flagler Museum. Flagler, the railroad tycoon, turned Palm Beach from a steamy Floridian backwater into the winter retreat of the East Coast establishment. Housed in his 55-room Beaux Arts manse, Whitehall (described as “one of the most sumptuous houses ever built in America”), the museum is a shimmering example of America’s Gilded Age, as Mark Twain dubbed the period between the Civil War and the Wall Street crash of 1929.
As told to Nayantara Kilachand
Write to us at lounge@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Dec 19 2008. 11 21 PM IST