July 2014

TYPES OF ASIAN SEAWEED

One of the things that make us stand out at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa is that our Asian restaurants offer the finest quality food, and that is why it’s a pleasure to eat there. If you are fond of Asian delicacies, what could be more exotic than the seaweed used in many of their dishes? We welcome you to know more about them:

NORI: “Porphyra yezoensis”, there are two types, red and green nori. This is the most popular type of seaweed in the west and it’s used in sushi. In Japan, it is also used in fine strings as seasoning and as a side dish.

This type of seaweed has a high content of iodine and minerals, as well as vitamins A,B and C.

WAKAME: “Undaria pinnatifida”, is often used in soups. It is also called brown seaweed. However, it turns dark green when it’s cooked. This seaweed is often sold dry and it’s only cooked slightly.

KOMBU: “Saccharina japonica”, this type of seaweed is quite common in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine. It’s also known as “kelp sugar” and it has a high content of vitamin C and proteins. This type of seaweed is often used to add flavour to “miso” soup.

MOZUKU: “Ladosiphon okamuranus” from Okinawa. It is grown in the ocean and it supplies 90% of the Japanese market. This type of seaweed is thin, sweet and fibrous. Currently, many scientists believe that it is crucial in preventing cancer.

HIJIKI: “Sargassum fusiforme”, this is another type of brown seaweed that is often used as a side dish. It has a high content of fibre and calcium. Its use has decreased nowadays in Asia.

ARAME: “Eisencia bicyclis”, this type of seaweed is quite mild and it is steamed, sautéed or added to soup.  In Japan, it’s often served cold in salads. It has a high content of iodine, calcium and zinc.

TOSAKA: Known as rooster’s crest, is often sold covered in salt, so it needs to be soaked before being used, mainly in salads. It can be red, white or green.

ALGA DULSE: “Palamiaria palmata”, this type of seaweed has a high content of vitamin C. The Vikings and Celts used it to prevent diseases. It is generally reddish and it can be eaten cooked or raw, in salads and soups like most other seaweed used in Asian cuisine.

If you feel like trying some of this types of seaweed first hand, we recommend you join us at any of our Asian restaurants at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, a luxury resort in the Mediterranean where you will enjoy every “bite”.

INLE LAKE OR SMILING LAKE

In the heat of the summer, who doesn’t feel like going for a swim? At the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa there are 7 outstanding swimming pools where you can go for a dip and enjoy an experience 100% Asian at our luxury resort in the Mediterranean.

But if you are heading to Asia this year, we recommend a visit to the Inle Lake, a sweet water lake in the mountains of Burma, 100 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide; the second largest river in the country.

There are some 200 floating villages by the lake that appear stuck in time, as the life of the locals is rooted in the tradition of isolation. Its people are charming and simple, and have normally not seen passed the lake, hence it also being known as Smiling Lake, as people there are very welcoming.

However, the Inle Lazke is a magnificent place to venture to:

Some of its main attractions are the motorised canoes, to go around the lake. There are no seats on the canoes, but owners place foldable chairs on them for tourists, in order to make their journey more comfortable.

The setting of the lake is astonishing. Locals have adapted to this environment using a very peculiar procedure to fish: they put their leg around the oar, and leaning on one leg they draw a semi-circle which propels them easily. This is a tricky and acrobatic way to fish for the rest of us, but they feel like fish in water.

Also, every five days, the floating markets add a touch of colour around the coast. They buy and sell from their boats; life on dry land is rarely seen.

Along the way, there are more than 100 Buddhist monasteries, where mainly only monks live.

The Pindaya Caves are also a must. This is one of the holiest spots for Burmese people. The place consists of open caves with an almost vertical limestone wall, which contains thousands of Buddha images on the inside. These Buddha images have been left there for centuries; it is said that there are more than 8,000.

If you also wish to have a permanent smile on your face during your holiday, we recommend a visit to the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, an oasis with luxury pools, where we will pamper you this summer.

THE KINGDOM OF AYUTTHAYA

If you have already come to enjoy the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, you must know that this is a temple of peace, quiet, relaxation and wellbeing, where our guests are pampered as much as possible. However, all over Asia there are ruins of actual ancient kingdoms that used to live times of splendour and luxury just as our resort is nowadays.

Today, we will bring you to the Kingdom of Ayutthaya.

Ayutthaya is a city located north of Bangkok, Thailand, and it used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Siam (or Kingdom of Ayutthaya) between 1350 and 1767 D.C. It was ruled by 33 kings from different dynasties, and it used to be originally known as “Ayothaya”, but it has also been known by many other names throughout history.

The ruins of this ancient capital, are currently the Ayutthaya Historical Park, UNESCO Heritage of Humanity, in 1991.

Thanks to its history and Thai Buddhism, Ayutthaya is a very cultural city that has hundreds of temples and palaces, and plenty of art.

These are some of the places you should not miss out on, impressive places of splendour, peace and quiet:

–       The Main Tower of Wat Ratcha Burana

–       Wat Lokayasutha: a giant Buddha reclined in the Historical Park, where people place golden sheets by his feet. It is surrounded by lakes and local vegetation which makes the place very special and peaceful.

–       Wat Phra Si Sanphet: this is a religious sight that seems to come out of nowhere, defying the elements. In its central chambers, there are chests with the ashes of kings and also royal emblems, as well as images of the Buddha.

–       The Wat Mahathat Monastery: also known as “The Temple of the Great Relic”. In it we can see the head of the Buddha in the roots of the trunk of a fig tree. This monastery was one of the most important ones in the city, not only for having the largest number of Buddha relics, but also for its proximity to the Great Palace.

–       The Wat Na Phra Men Temple: this is one of the few temples in Ayutthaya that weren’t destroyed by the Burmese. The temple is known for its Buddha built around the year 1503 during the reign of King Ramathibodi.

If you also wish to be surrounded by peace and quiet, and relaxation and wellbeing this summer, come and visit us at the Asia Gardens & Thai Spa and enjoy all the services we provide. We can assure you will have a great and unbeatable luxury Asian experience.

KOH RONG: THE ISLAND OF ECOTOURISM

Today, at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa we would like to suggest a special destination for adventurous people and nature lovers. We are bringing you from the luxury of our resort in the Mediterranean, to Koh Rong, a natural paradise in Cambodia.

Koh Rong also known as Kaôh Rong, is the second largest island in Cambodia. It is located in the province of Koh Kong, 25 kilometres from the coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Currently, there are 4 small settlements living on the island: Koh Tuich, Dam Dkeuw, Prek Svay and Soksan.

This island is one of the few natural paradises that remain; it is ideal to go exploring and to relax in untouched nature. The island is known to be popular among ECO-friendly tourists.

Ecotourism respects the natural environment, the fauna and flora and the locals of the area. In order to do so, when visiting, tourists stay where locals live.

The small buildings in the area have been built using natural and eco-friendly materials, and there are also waste-management measures in place and environmentally-friendly energy production.

However, since 2008 this island has become so populated that it is no longer a deserted underdeveloped island, and has instead become popular through word of mouth, which brings along some consequences.

This island of fishermen, backpackers and environmentally friendly visitors, has become the set for the French Survivors-reality show-. Many bungalows and small hotels have been built, offering basic services and expanding the coast of the island to accommodate everyone in the programme, around 150 people.

For this reason, Koh Rong is currently only available for bookings when the crew is not filming, and they are trying to maintain their eco-friendly status as much as possible.

If you also wish to relax in this paradisiac oasis by the sea, come visit us at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, a luxury resort in the Mediterranean where we offer you everything you need, whenever you need it, without the stress of TV filming crew around you. Come and enjoy an experience which is 100% Asian!

ASIAN DESIGNERS

If there is something that makes us at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa stand out is Asian design all over our luxury resort. We are fascinated by Asian design and art, which is why today we are going to tell you about several designers that will astonish you.

One of the most famous designers is without a doubt ISSEY MIYAKE: a trendy Japanese designer famous worldwide.

He was born in Hiroshima in 1938, and he first studied graphic design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo. He subsequently worked in Paris and New York, and he went back to Tokyo in 1970 to found the female high-standing fashion studio the “Issey Miyake Studio”.

His designs are known for excellently combining design and technology naturally; even Steve Jobs said “… I asked Issey to design some black turtle necks I liked, and he made about a hundred of them for me”.

Another one of the main Asian designers is SHIGERU BAN: An architect from Tokyo who was recently awarded with the 2014 Pritzker Prize (he is the seventh Japanese architect to be awarded this prize), considered the Nobel prize of architecture. “He is an exceptional architect who has worked with high standing creativity and style for twenty years in extreme situations caused by natural disasters”, said the jury.

It is his sense of responsibility and civil action when it comes to creating quality architecture and meeting the needs of society, along with the unusual approach that such humanitarian challenges entail, what has earned him such award.

He is known for his structural innovation and the creative use he makes of unconventional materials such as bamboo, fabric, plastic and recycled paper.

Lastly, the not so well known graphic designer YUGO NAKAMURA (also known as Yugop or the Flash Genius): Creative Director and engineer, passionate about working with environmental interaction.

He studied Engineering, Architecture and Landscape Design in Tokyo, Japan, hence the influence of movement, nature and numbers in his web designs. However, he now works soley on interface design for large Japanese architecture firms. He has been awarded with plenty of international awards such as Cannes Lions, One Show, Clio Prize and NY ADC.

If you are mad about the Asian look, we recommend a visit to the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, a luxury resort where we offer Asian design and art, and where you will enjoy the full Asian experience. Relaxation and wellbeing. Come visit us!

ASIAN PROTOCOL

The luxury offered by us at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, and the strict protocol we follow to offer our guests a peaceful stay is what makes us stand out. It is precisely in the Asian continent where such protocol is most appreciated, and that is why it is essential to become familiar with it beforehand in order to avoid misunderstandings or making mistakes:

You should not address people by their first name unless you are told to do so by them. You should use the title “Mr or Mrs”.

  • In Japan, it is common to add “san” to a person’s surname, but not when talking about a third person.
  • In Thailand they use the word “khun” instead of “Mr”.

– When shaking hands use both hands.

– Punctuality is a must, as it is a sign of respect. If you are attending several meetings on the same day, it is advisable to leave early as you must take into account frequent traffic jams in Asian countries such as India and the Philippines.

– When greeting someone in Asia, the western handshake is becoming popular and it is used as well as their own traditions. You must therefore shake hands but also bow as a sign of respect.

  •  It is important to remember that Muslim women cannot shake hands with a man.

– Never speak to anyone with your hands in your pockets and avoid being overly expressive, avoid pointing especially.

– In Asia,  the “OK”, very typically used in the west, means money, which makes it inappropriate to be used in public.

– Body language is very important. Buddhists consider feet offensive, which is why when sitting and crossing your legs you must try to prevent your feet from facing someone directly.

– Touching someone’s head is seen as disrespectful, especially in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

These are some of the basic protocol rules to follow in Asia, probably the most strict ones although there are some others that apply to each country… At the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa our protocol always consists of the wellbeing of our guests and the unbeatable service we offer. If you wish to come to relax and enjoy the summer, come and visit us to live a luxury Asian experience.

CURRY, THE MOST TRADITIONAL ASIAN SPICE

Do you like exotic dishes, Asian spices and tasty food? At the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa you will enjoy all of it, and more, at the restaurants in our Asian luxury resort. Today we are going to talk about curry, one of the most popular Asian spices.

The word CURRY comes from the word “kari”, meaning “sauce” in Tamil, in the language of one of the ethnic groups in the south of India, who use spices in abundance as well as strong and slightly spicy flavours.

Curry is not a spice, it consists of several spices combined and used in Asian cuisine. There are three types of curry:

– Yellow curry: The most common one. It’s yellow due to its high content of turmeric, and it is often the sweetest one.

– Red and green curry: These types are somewhat spicier as they contain green or red chilli. Red curry is normally used to spice up meat, chicken, seafood, soya cheese, noodles or vegetables; and green curry is normally eaten with meat, seafood and noodles, and the dishes that include it are generally milder than those with red curry.

There are also different types in different countries:

– “Madras” or curry powder in India: This type is quite common, and it consists of a mix of curry leaves, cumin, clove, turmeric, coriander, basil leaves, black pepper and fenugreek.

– Malaysian curry: It’s different to any other type of curry as it contains tamarind, basil leaves and lemon herbs to add flavour to it, as well as other common spices.

Coconut milk is often added to it in order to make it milder, which gives it a different touch.

– Chinese curry: This type of curry is very similar to the one in India, although this one has olive oil, garlic, paprika, chilli powder and ginger. This type is used to spice up chicken, prawns and pork. It is also used in vegetarian dishes.

If you wish to try some traditional, exotic and spicy Asian flavours, think no longer and come to any of the restaurants at our asian luxury resort Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa. The cuisine we have on offer will surely surprise you. You will enjoy some of the best dishes you could ever imagine.

THE STAR FESTIVAL: TANABATA MATSURI

We cannot think of a better way for you to spend your summer than relaxing at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, an Asian luxury resort with a lot to offer, next to the Mediterranean. During the summer, it’s not all about relaxation, there are also plenty of festivals all over the world to enjoy, today, we’re telling you about the Tanabata Matsuri.

The Tanabata Matsuri or “Star Festival, is a night festival held once a year and inspired by a legend. They celebrate “Orihime” and “Hikoboshi”, separated by the Milky Way, a river of stars crossing the sky, that only takes place once a year when it’s no training, and if it doesn’t rain it has to be postponed until the following year.

Nowadays, in Japan, people often celebrate this festival by writing their wishes, sometimes as a poem, on strips of coloured paper or “tanzaku”, and later hanging them on bamboo tree branches next to other ornaments.

Towards the end of the festival, the bamboo branches and ornaments are often taken to the river and burnt once the festival is over.

The purpose of it all is for everyone’s wishes to come true. Wishes mainly have to do with health, success and love.

Handwriting is important when writing wishes in Tanabata Matsuri, hence the month of July being called “fumizuki” (the month of the letters) according to the ancient Japanese calendar.

The streets are decorated with paper ornaments, large streamers imitating the stars on the Milky Way where the characters of the legend lived, and there also parades on the streets. The evening fireworks give the finishing touch to one of the most cheerful and colourful festivals in Japan.

A traditional song is sung on Tanabata Matsuri, it goes something like this:

Bamboo branches whisper

back and forth on the roof.

The stars are shining

over the silver and golden sand.

The five-colour paper strips

have already been written.

The stars shine

and stare at us from the sky.

We hope your wish to come and visit us at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, the best Asian luxury resort in the Mediterranean, comes true this year. Come and enjoy our pools, restaurants and spa facilities… We hope to see you soon! Don’t forget, wishes sometimes do come true.

BOMBAY, 6 MUST-SEE PLACES

Today, at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa we are bringing you to one of the most crowded and charismatic cities in India: Bombay, a city that never sleeps where tourists can learn as much about the local culture as they please.

Bombay, locally known as “Mumbai”, is the capital of the federal state of Maharashtra in India and is also the main port city in the sub-continent, and the highest populated city in India.

The following are the best places you shouldn’t miss out on when visiting Bombay:

– GETAWAY OF INDIA: It was built in the British colonial period as a tribute to the first visit to India of King George V and his wife, in 1911, and it was completed in 1924. It consists of a 26-metre high basalt arch which is the ceremonial entrance to India for members of the government of Bombay.

– ELEPHANTA ISLAND: This is a small island near Bombay. This island was named after the stone elephants decorating the port on the way in to the island, which are no longer there. The main treasure hidden there is part of UNESCO’s Heritage of Humanity, the Trimurti Temple carved on the mountain, with caves and sculptures paying tribute to Shiva.

– KANHERI CAVES: This is a group of monuments on the rocks located in the outskirts of Bombay, India; they date back to the 10th Century B.C. They are located in the Sanjay Gandhi Natural Park and they show the Buddhist influence in the local art and culture.

– MAHATMA GANDHI MUSEUM: Among the museums to visit in Bombay, this is a must. It is the house where Gandhi worked, and it holds an impressive scientific library. A visit to this museum is highly recommended, not only for what Gandhi represents but also because of how well preserved the statue of Gandhi remains.

There are some of Gandhi’s personal objects and a friendly letter to Adolf Hitler asking him for world peace.

– FORT AREA: This is very near Getaway o India, in the financial centre of the city, where most main banks and large companies can be found. This area is also emblematic due to the large number of British colonial-style buildings, anciently bordered by a fort.

– THE TOWERS OF SILENCE: Also known as “Dakhma or Dokhma”, they are funeral buildings part of the Zoroastrianism religion, belonging to modern-day Iran.

This religion considered the human body to be impure, unable to pollute the earth or fire, both basic significant and classic elements that represent purity. That was the reason why lifeless bodies were taken to the towers of silence.

As expected, after this tour through the monuments and most emblematic areas of Bombay, you will surely feel like relaxing for a while. Come visit us at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa in the Mediterranean, and enjoy peace and calm. Our massages will renew your energy.

SHANGRI-LA, A MYTHICAL HIMALAYAN UTOPIA

Today, at the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, we are letting literature inspire us, as well as stories, tales and legends and our own imagination, and bring us to Shangri-La, the land of permanent happiness isolated from the rest of the world.

The true Shangri-La, is a product of the imagination of British novelist James Hilton, who in 1933 wrote the novel “Lost Horizon” in which some explorers on their way to the Himalaya discover a spectacular and fascinating place.

Shangri-La means “idyllic and peaceful place where happiness reigns”, inspired by Shambhala, another imaginary place of Tibetan traditions.

For a long time, a large number of explorers and specialists looked for the land J. Hilton wrote about, they searched all over Asia, especially around India, Nepal and parts of China. Until 1997, when after much deliberation of experts and scientists, the government of Yunnan, declared that Shangri-La was in Yunnan, and it covered the areas of Zhongdian, Weixi and Deqin, access used by Tibetans and others in ancient times.

However, the city officially known as Shangri-La since 2002, is Zhongdian, which has seen a significant increase in the numbers of visitors to this dream city.

Here, we can visit the Songzanlin Monastery; this is a monastic city with twenty temples and a hundred Tibetan homes where monks live. This is a place of harmony and peace and quiet and spectacular architecture.

Bita Lake (“Bitahai”, in Chinese) is located 25 kilometres from Zhongdian, and is also one of the main places to go to when visiting this area. There are wooden cabins where you can spend the night and light a fire.

But, without a doubt, the biggest attraction is the Shangri-La Canyon which is 10 kilometres long and between 10 and 80 metres wide. The canyon is a serenity haven, as if taken from a fairy tale.

If you also wish to live a truly idyllic experience, full of peace and happiness, we recommend a visit to the Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, an Asian luxury resort described by many as a temple of wellbeing and relaxation. Come to our very own “Shangri-La in the Mediterranean” this summer.

 

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