Expedia Launches Flip Flop Report On Beach Behavior Around The World

Have you ever wondered what country enjoys the beach most? Or what culture is most likely to sunbathe in the nude? To help unravel the mystery of beach behavior around the world, Expedia has shared the results of a global study that looked at 21 countries on five continents. Some areas the study examined include what things people look at when choosing a beach, preferred beach activities and what makes people most nervous about going to the beach. Some of the findings from the study include:

  • The average beach vacation lasts 7.7 days, although this is less true of Koreans, Japanese and Singaporeans, who seem to prefer beach weekends.
  • For Americans, one of the least important criteria when selecting a beach destination is a desire to find a new location. This is the opposite for Indians, who view finding a new location to be one of the highest priorities.
  • Germans are the most likely to sunbathe nude, and are also the most likely to spend time at the beach with a stranger.
  • Fifty percent of travelers keep the presence of sharks in mind when deciding on a beach location. Likewise, 68 percent of beach vacationers admit to not swimming at a beach due to the possibility of sharks.

Click here for the full report. If you’re having trouble viewing the infographic, click here for the interactive version.

Hollywood In Cambodia: Buenos Aires’ Only Bar and Urban Art Gallery In One

Buenos Aires in Argentina has one of the most vibrant art scenes in all the world. Walking down the streets of the city, you’ll see colorful, political and passionate works of graffiti art on every corner. If you’re looking for a truly unique way to experience the art scene in Buenos Aires, one option is to visit the city’s only bar and urban art gallery in one, Hollywood in Cambodia.

Hollywood in Cambodia opened in 2006, when the owners of Post Street Bar decided to do something different with the space. They approached a number of stencil artists and asked them to help paint the interior of the bar. While the artists and owners got along well, the artists wanted compensation, as the bar was a commercial space. Because the owners didn’t have the money, they came up with a different plan. They offered the artists three rooms at the back of the bar, rent free, to use however they pleased. From there, the artists covered every inch of the bar and terrace with intricate stencil art. One room became a permanent gallery and shop, and the two others were transformed into temporary exhibition spaces. This is what visitors can experience today.The gallery is run by six artists: Stencil Land, Malatesta, GG & NN from bs.as.stncl, Fede Minuchin and Tester from rundontwalk. They run the gallery together, opening it from Tuesday to Sunday, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. About 8 to 10 exhibitions are run each year, with works being showcased from a range of urban artists and art collectives.

While an art gallery being housed in a bar is, in itself, rare in Buenos Aires, there are other factors that make the space truly unique. First of all, it’s the only gallery in the city to focus solely on urban art. And, unlike other galleries, they are free from commercial pressures.

“They don’t have rent or bills to pay, so they can do whatever they want with the space,” explains Jonny Robson of graffitimundo, a main supporter of the venue. “They can take risks and showcase unconventional art, without worrying if it’s going to sell or not.”

What’s really interesting when you walk into the space is how hard it is to tell where the gallery starts and where the bar stops. All of the bar space – the outside walls, terrace and even the toilets – have been covered in art. This is because the artists use the bar as an extension of the gallery space, running workshops and video screenings. Understandably, the bar ends up being a popular place to hangout for the artists and their friends. In fact, exhibition opening nights showcasing cutting edge art often end up becoming wild parties.

“It’s a very special place, and very unique for Buenos Aires,” says Robson. “To be honest, I’m not sure if there’s anywhere quite like it anywhere else in the world.”

[photos via graffitimundo]

The Meaning Of Mate In Argentina

While upon first glance many people believe the locals in Argentina are drinking tea, but the concoction is actually a blend of herbs. Mate, an infusion prepared with yerba mate leaves called “Ílex paraguariensis,” contains caffeine, herbs and proteins as well as hot water. It has been drunk since Pre-Colombian times by the Guaraníes, a local group in South America. Argentina is the world’s number one producer of yerba mate, making this a great cultural experience to have while traveling in the country.

During my visit to Argentina, I saw people everywhere carrying thermoses of hot water and mates, metal cup-like things with bombillas, which are the long metal straws poking out. In every shop and market you will also be able to find ornate mates for purchase. Luckily, I got to try mine with a local friend and learn more about what mate means to locals in Argentina.

“It’s merely an infusion, but it has a huge meaning of sharing,” explained my local friend Javier Viñuela, whose mother had prepared some mate for a group of us in her home. “As it usually happens with food, drinking mate is a way or excuse to share with friends and family.”How it works is like this: the person who “ceba el mate,” or prepares it, is the first one to take a taste. After that, this person begins passing the mate to those next to him or her, who give it back to that main person to prepare again for those next in the circle. When you say “thanks” after sipping, it means you don’t want to drink anymore. For this reason, it’s important not to thank everyone each time you take a sip, but only once you’ve had enough.

Mate can either be taken bitter or sweet. For first-timers, I would recommend adding some sugar or honey, as the herbs can be quite pungent if you’re not used to it. Moreover, being one of the last to sip it can also help to take out some of the bitterness, as by then the hot water has taken away some of the flavor’s intensity.

During my first time trying it, I added sugar to help ease the bitterness. While the first few tastes were hard to swallow, once you get used to it the flavor is actually quite nice. Aside from sharing, there are other reasons people enjoy drinking mate. For one, many locals in Argentina find the drink delicious. Additionally, it’s a cheap way of “having a drink” for a long period of time with friends. And for those on a diet or having digestion issues, mate is said to be a diuretic. For the best mate, I’ve heard from many locals that Rosamonte (pictured above) is the best brand.

Discovering the wonders of Turkey through photos

Turkey is a historical country filled with culture, beauty, and natural wonders. In fact, there are many interesting facts that many people may not know that help add to the enchantment and splendor of the country, like the fact that the world’s oldest known human settlement can be found in Turkey, two of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World were located in Turkey, and the seven churches cited in the Book of Revelation all resided in Turkey. With such a unique past, it’s not surprising that the country holds so many spectacular and amazing sites. Wander inside the Blue Mosque, an enormous complex that was built from 1609-1616, trek through the unworldly Cappadocia region, or check out the ruins in Ephesus, where the Temple of Artemis stands, once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

To explore the wonders of Turkey for yourself through photos, check out the gallery below.


Why you should visit Singapore in 2012

There are many reasons Singapore makes a great travel destination, from unique architecture to rich cultural experiences to carefully prepared cuisine. In 2012, the Southeast Asian destination has even more reasons to visit, from exciting new restaurants to the opening of their first river-themed animal park. Here are some reasons to put Singapore on this year’s trip itinerary.

New cultural venues

In February, 2011, the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands opened to the public as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. First there is the architecture of the building (shown right), which is designed to look like a lotus flower in order to metaphorically welcome guests from all walks of life. The museum itself houses more than 50,000 square feet of exhibits for visitors to explore, helping them to better understand the connection between art and science.

The National Art Gallery in Singapore is undergoing a complete renovation and is being relocated to the center of the Civic District. The new visual arts venue will be housed in two adjacent heritage buildings: City Hall and the former Supreme Court building. It will be the largest of its kind in Singapore, and will “focus on the display, appreciation, promotion, research and study of Southeast Asian and Singaporean art, as well as play host to international art exhibitions”. The completed project should be done by the end of the year, and until then travelers can still visit the former National Art Gallery, which features an array of local and cultural works.Luxury shopping

Last September, Singapore unveiled their Louis Vuitton Island Maison to merge luxury shopping with art and architecture. As the brand’s first-ever island maison, the store’s interior is nautically themed and will also introduce cultural elements of the area into the design. Along with selling designer accessories, the venue will also feature a contemporary artwork tunnel as well as a bookstore housing works on art, culture, and design.

Tourists who want to shop should also take a stroll down Orchard Road. While expensive, it is the best in Singapore in terms of quality, choice, and how many shops are centered in one place. Even if you’re short on cash, it’s worth it to visit Orchard Road just to window browse and check out all of the diverse architecture. If you’re on a budget and want to buy something, check out the Far East Plaza, which is on Scotts Road in the Orchard Road District and is home to countless boutique shops and non-chain stores.

Outdoor leisure

In June, 2012, Singapore will be able to welcome visitors to the brand new Gardens by the Bay. The park, which is being constructed to be the “Central Park of Asia”, will encompass 250 acres of land in the Marina Bay District. The project is meant to align with the city’s vision of transforming into a giant garden. Some major attractions include the Heritage Gardens (shown right), the Flower Dome, Dragonfly Lake, Bay East Gardens, and Golden & Silver Gardens.

Asia’s first river-themed animal park

Scheduled to open very soon, River Safari Singapore will be the first river-themed animal park in Asia. Visitors will have the chance to take boat rides and get a close-up encounter with freshwater environments and animals. The goal of the park, which is a project of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, is to educate people on freshwater habitat conservation. Some of the experiences you can have include visiting the Amazon Sunken Forest (shown right) and meeting manatees and arapalmas, riding down the Mekong and seeing Long-tailed Macaques and giant catfish, floating down the sacred healing waters of the Ganges and spying ancient Indian Gharial and narrow-headed turtles, and more.

Unique properties

Last year, Singapore prepared for hotel expansion through many efforts. For instance, the well-known Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort (shown right) underwent a $63 million renovation while new properties like the budget-friendly Ibis Singapore Novena and the luxurious Fullerton Bay Hotel opened their doors to guests.

And, expansions are continuing into this year. In August, 2012, visitors to Singapore will be able to stay at the brand new chic and trendy island resort, W Singapore Sentosa Cove, which will be the W Hotel’s first property in Singapore. Moreover, this year the Pan Pacific Hotel Group will be opening a brand new property that is planned to be one of the most eco-friendly hotel options in Asia, PARKROYAL on Pickering. The venue will feature energy and water regulation, solar-powered landscape lighting, and rainwater harvesting as well as lush skygardens, reflecting pools, and waterfalls. Around the hotel property, the landscape will hold a relaxing, tropical feel.

High quality food

Most people would agree that the number one reason to visit Singapore is the food. Even international food expert Anthony Bourdain has toted Singapore as being the most “foodie destination” in the world and has said that once you’ve had the food there “you can’t go back to the way you were before”. One excellent way to get a taste of the street food culture in Singapore, which is high-quality and authentic, is at a Hawker Centre. Here you will be able to sample an array of local cuisines that have undergone careful preparation, like Laksa (shown right), Beef Rendang, and Hainanese Chicken Rice for a good price.

Sinapore also has some excellent new restaurants that have just opened up. To help you experience the hawker food culture even further, there is The Food Republic Beer Garden. Here you can choose from 18 different push-cart stalls offering street food as well as experience live music until 1AM. What’s also great about this place is it’s housed in an old Tiger Beer lowry making it great choice for beer lovers and oenophiles.

There are also L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Joël Robuchon Restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa, both opened by Michelin star chef Joël Robuchon. The two restaurants are the chef’s first venture in Southeast Asia and give guests the opportunity to sample two unique fine-dining menus at the same resort.

[images via ArtScience Museum, Schristia, Gardens by the Bay, River Safari, Shangri-La Sentosa, Diane Bondareff]