Photo Of The Day: Japanese Mall Food

When you are in a new place, sometimes it’s the most common things that are the most striking. Think about going to the food court at the mall. At home, that’s a mundane task, certainly not on the list of anyone with a passion for food or experiencing new cultures. But on the search for mall food in another country? Now that’s an adventure.

Instagram user atiriarte shows us Japanese mall food in this Instagram photo. Mall food at home might not have much going for it, but the tray in this photo certainly isn’t another meal at Orange Julius. Much more appetizing, for sure, and a look into the world of Japanese food.

Want your own photo featured on Photo of the Day? Submit it via the Gadling Flickr Pool or on Instagram by mentioning @gadlingtravel and tagging #gadling.

[Photo credit: atiriarte]

World’s first pop-up mall: London’s Boxpark

pop-up mall

Millions of us will head to the mall this week to return gifts or buy what we really wanted from the after-Christmas sales. Chain stores, fast food courts, and packed parking lots are what most of us associate with shopping malls, but a new retail concept in hip East London is looking to change that. Boxpark is the world’s first pop-up mall, made out of 60+ shipping containers that house a mix of international labels like The North Face and Levi’s, UK designers Luke and Boxfresh, plus cafes and eateries such as Pieminister. Boxpark will be open for five years, and stores may change after a year or two. Befitting the Shoreditch neighborhood, don’t expect Claire’s Accessories or the Gap, but rather street fashion, cool sneakers, and funky concept stores and art galleries Art Against Knives and Marimekko. Already a huge trend with restaurants, one-off shops, and hotels, the flexibility of the pop-up concept means an urban (or anywhere, since the containers can be moved!) location, up-and-coming designers, and more creative retail spaces.

Check out all the retailers at www.boxpark.co.uk plus info on sales and special offers.

Retail therapy: Istanbul ShoppingFest begins March 18

Istanbul shoppingfestEvery year, many people visit Istanbul to shop in the historic Grand Bazaar to haggle over carpets, Turkish tea glasses, and souvenir t-shirts. But most locals do their shopping in Istanbul’s many malls, markets, high streets like Istiklal near Taksim Square and Bağdat on the Asian side, and neighborhoods such as posh Nişantaşı and funky Çukurcuma. This year, from March 18 to April 26, travelers can take advantage of the best of all worlds with the first Istanbul ShoppingFest, also celebrating the 550th birthday of the Grand Bazaar. For 40 days, shoppers can get special discounts and win prizes, shop late into the night (with bigger discounts after 10pm), and be entertained with performances and events. Each Saturday, one mall each on the European and Asian sides will stay open until 2am, and all malls will be open until 11pm daily during the fest. In addition to sale prices, foreign travelers can get tax back on purchases at various malls around the city and enter raffles with each 40 TL (about $25 USD) spent.

Already established in India, Singapore, and Dubai in usual sale seasons, Istanbul’s promotion will hold a special draw as discounts will apply to new season merchandise and take place over several major holidays including Easter, Passover, and Iranian Nowruz. With this festival, Turkey hopes to carry over some of the momentum from last year’s European Capital of Culture designation, and become the destination of choice for travelers from nearby countries such as Russia, Iran, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Rumania, Syria and Iraq.

Check out more details and events at www.istshopfest.com and follow their Facebook page and Twitter @istshopfest. See also the March issue of Time Out Istanbul in English for feature guides to the fest and the Grand Bazaar.

[Photo courtesy Flickr user antonystanley]

Largest mall in the world is a Chinese ghost town

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While China recently announced 45 new airports due to booming travel growth, several of their development projects have been enormous duds. The New South China Mall is twice the size of Minnesota’s Mall of America, but hovers at around a 1% occupancy. The rows of empty shops are piped with serene elevator music, and guards police the empty halls with echoing footsteps.

Announced in 2005, the mall is located in Dongguan in the Guangdong province of southern China. The location is between Guangzhou and Shenzen in an area that may one day be considered the world’s largest mega city, estimated to have a population near 50 million. Today, the mall has yet to live up to any distinction associated with mega cities, and is a sobering example of what happens when idea implementation precedes growth. Separated into seven districts modeled after international cities, the mall boasts an Arc de Triomphe, Venice canals, and even a mini Egypt. Of the 2,350 leasable store spaces, around 50 are actually in use. Check out this award-winning video directed by Sam Green and Carrie Lozano for PBS that showcases this bizarre mall.

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar to undergo $100 million renovation


One of Istanbul‘s most popular tourist destinations is getting a long-overdue makeover. The 550-year old Grand Bazaar is about to be infused with 140 million Turkish Lira (about $100 million USD) to renovate and update the covered market. Once plans are approved next month, work will begin at night to avoid disrupting day trade. The Grand Bazaar is over 45,000 square meters with nearly 3,600 shops selling everything from handmade rugs to gold jewelry to Turkish water pipes and was last renovated in 1894 after a major earthquake.

In addition to restoring the original features of the market, modernizing electrical work, the refurbishment aims to bring in more high-end Turkish and international brands to appeal to more local shoppers. While the bazaar currently sees about 500,000 visitors daily, only about 30% are local and name brands may attract more locals than tourist souvenir stalls. According to local newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, interested retailers include luxury goods label Vakko and supermarket chain Migros. With the Council of Monuments reviewing and approving plans, it is hoped that the Grand Bazaar will retain its heritage and avoid becoming another generic shopping mall. Regardless of new additions, locals and visitors can agree that cutting down on the large amount of stalls selling Made-in-China swag and “genuine” fake Gucci bags to make room for more traditional artisans could help preserve the unique landmark.