Bangkok is actually a very hip place; the people are entrepreneurial and have a great sense of style. Playground is a mini-mall with a great magazine selection, a couple of cafes and a good restaurant on the top floor, a bookstore, clothes, great regular art shows and other designy things to look at.
It's on Thonglor (Sukhumvit Soi 55). Get the BTS to Thonglor then a cab up the road. Playground is on the right. Or just get a cab from wherever you are, it's cheap.
Cabramatta is the centre of the Asian community in Western Sydney, most notably the Vietnamese. Here you can find the most eclectic array of asian food, from Vietnamese through to Laosian. The cost of eating here is amazingly cheap for the quality of food, too.
Up until recently the area was given a lot of bad press, but people have become to realise that the food and shopping (fabrics, ethnic supermarkets, electrical goods) make Cabramatta a different Sydney experience.
Cityrail to Cabramatta – about 30 minutes.
Basically Tokyo-on-sea, a big slab of reclaimed land in Tokyo bay where you can go and chill out, eat/drink/shop, enjoy sea breezes, even go to the (artifical) beach! There are stunning views of Tokyo (especially at night), and it's one of the few places in Tokyo where you can enjoy the great outdoors. There's a massive ferris wheel for even better views and you can even rent a dog to walk!! One of the best things about it though is the journey there - it's worth going just to enjoy the monorail ride across the enormous Rainbow Bridge.
Yuirkamone monorail from Shimbashi. A one-day ticket gives unlimited travel on the monorail all day for around £7.
Probably one of the largest expanses of gadget heaven on planet Earth. Think of anything electronic and you'll find it here. The current sterling/yen exchange rate also means that you'll pay around 15-20% less here (maybe a bit more if you bring your passport with you to get a further 5% off as a tax-free purchase).
On the Yamanote line (and others) two stops north of JR Tokyo station. For a preview of one of the biggest stores go to www.yodobashi.com (Japanese language only unfortunately).
The world's biggest Tower Records is just a few minutes walk from Shibuya station. If they don't have the CD you're looking for, chances are it doesn't exist. The top floor is dedicated soley to English books and magazines, especially useful if you want to quickly browse through a few Tokyo city guides without having to buy one.
1-22-14 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku.
Nearest Station: Shibuya.
This large, covered market sells all kinds of stuff that, if you’re not Brazilian, you probably will never have seen before. There are fruits from the Amazon region, for instance, that don’t even seem to have English names. Wandering past the stalls, you can see and smell eels, herbs, pineapples, salami, snails ... crammed together like a monument to the tastebuds.
Rua da Cantareira 306
The area just south-west of Ottawa is not to be missed. The area is part of the Rideau Canal System and what is called land of the lakes. Hundreds of small lakes with winding roads flowing betweem small villages and towns that are old and quaint. There is shopping galore in one of these small towns called a Westport. There is great fishing, boating, camping or an array of other accommodation from century-old inns and bed and breakfasts... You will be pleasantly surprised to find this wonderland...
Since devaluation in 2001, hundreds of talented, young designers have emerged from the woodwork in a bid to make a living during the economic crisis. Most of these appear to have opened small boutiques in Palermo Viejo, where one-off designs can be purchased for just a few pesos. For even better bargains, however, wait until the weekend before paying a visit to the area of Palermo Viejo surrounding Plaza Serrano. This is when the local bars play host to the city's design fair. Literally hundreds of local designers (most of which are still unable to afford to set up a shop of their own) flood the Plaza, offering everything from hand-made belts, customised shirts and one-off cocktail dresses. Arrive in the early afternoon to avoid the crowds.
Most of the bars surrounding Plaza Cortazar, Palermo Viejo
Stock up on outdoor gear at the cluster of shops selling all the latest stuff, often at a fraction of what you would pay in the UK. MEC is worth checking out but you need to pay a few dollars for life membership. Sells a wide range of equipment and the staff seem to know what they are talking about (mind you, everyone in this city is an outdoors' specialist). You will find a bargain somewhere!
Cambie and Broadway, south of downtown. Head east along Broadway, not the prettiest few blocks but perfectly safe. Limited parking on street but bus or taxi the best bet
It is THE shopping street of philly. There are some shops which are difficult to find even in Manhanttan since they are shops that originally started out in Philly, eg Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, etc. An added bonus is a branch of ING bank right on Walnut that offers free internet and where refreshments are served - a perfect hiatus from all the shopping to catch up on your emails. Weary shoppers can round off their day by getting their well earned rest in Rittenhouse Square, one of the most pleasant green spots in Philly. Walnut Street also has some of the best and most expensive restaurants to boot. One of my favourites is a Japanese restaurant called Shiroi Hana just off Walnut street on the 15th.
Really great CD store. From 60s French pop to free jazz to New York indie to hip hop to free folk to electronica to new weird americana in all its wonderful weirdness. The staff have a rep for attitude, but in many years of shopping there, I have yet to experience anything other than pleasant helpfulness. And if it's good enough for Thurston Moore... (Kims on St Marks place is worth a visit for those odd items which might be out of stock at OM (want to complete that Jandeck collection?) - OM was established by breakaway staff from Kims).
15 East 4th Street
Beer Mania offers over 400 Belgian beers to sample on site, buy and drink at home, or order online. Open 11am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday. The owner, Nasser Eftekhairi, is usually there and is fount of knowledge on all things to do with Belgian beers.
174-176 Chaussée de Wavre, 1050 Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. www.beermania.be Tel: 00 32 2 512 17 88 Nearest metro, Trone or Porte de Namur
This is a modern hotel with excellent facilities and tasteful décor. It represents fantastic value for money if booked online (double rooms can be had for as little as £35 per room including breakfast). It is situated in a southern suburb of the city that has interesting bars, restaurants, market stalls and shops frequented by the locals. Some real bargains can be found here. The only drawback is the distance from the centre of Beijing and the fact that taxi drivers don’t know where it is – be sure to pick up the hotel’s card at reception with detailed directions. It is, however, ideal for visiting the nearby Temple of Heaven Park.
The cut of Italian clothes will flatter you as no other. Via Condotti is where most of the big designer names are to be found. But excellent clothes for less money can be found along Via Frattina, which runs parallel to Via Condotti, on nearby Via Campo Marzio and, further afield, on Via Cola di Rienzo and Via Po.
This creation of the Mastic Producers Union of Chios looks more like a jewellers than anything else, but the valuable products it sells are all made using the therapeutic and invigorating resin of the mastic tree from the island of Chios, birthplace of Homer.
Chios' Mastic is a unique product, granted a PDO (protected destination of origin) from the European Union.
Cat Street, also known as Upper Lascar Row, is a lane in Sheung Wan not far from the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road.
It oozes character and is crammed with shops selling everything from antiques to bric-a-brac, attracting serious collectors, dealers and the casual shopper.
Take the steps across the road from Man Mo Temple, and it's the first lane on your left.
The race course is very nearby and well worth a visit (The Stable End buffet is endless and affordably liposuctionable), but the main road of Happy Valley (Sing Woo Rd) and the few streets that march off it are worth a visit.
Happy Valley has a slightly in-the-crowd-yet-not-of-the-crowd feel - visit the Jewish Cemetery for example, and you will have found a calm, romantic, sobering oasis of calm.
But let’s take a walk up the hill starting at the tram stop. Turn right.
First, you will notice Happy Valley has an almost "village" feel, but happens to have quite a few amazingly tall condos. This is village Hong Kong style after all.
Despite its twee Enid Blyton associations, it’s a very upmarket address, Happy Valley. Here you may see the great and good of Hong Kong in any number of boring old Mercedes and weird hairdos doing a speck of shopping, training their dogs to sit or, in the early morning, the not so great but just as good of the parish doing tai-chi and sword exercises.
There is a good hole-in-the-wall fast food place near the pedestrian crossing across from the pharmacist, a Wellcome supermarket, and across the street a pink-tiled community centre run by Leisure and Cultural Services housing a library, a wet market, a cooked food centre and an indoor playground for the kids. It’s cold in there. Bring thermals.
You will notice a plethora of foot reflexologists. And Chinese medicine shops. And pet shops. And stylish furniture retailers. Ligne Roset has its showroom here. Why I don't know.
Further up Sing Woo, past the electrical retailers, the 7-11, the stationery shop and the Pacific Coffee (wireless internet here) there is a Dim Sum place, which serves all day (not always the case in HK) and has a wooden/tile interior and an upmarket clientele. Not cheap but very, very good. There’s a helpful picture-based menu for gweilos.
Cross the road burping your siu mai and lor mai kai and head back down the hill. You will pass a Watson’s wine cellar and a tau foo fa seller on the corner of King Kwong Street. Order a small portion of this quintessentially Cantonese confection for dessert and continue on your way. There are various dai pai dongs selling cheap meals (HKD25 for a pile of rice, pork and vegetables) fruit stalls, newspaper ladies, a photo shop and the pharmacist before you are facing the racecourse again.
The infield of the racecourse is accessible to the general public via a tunnel located in the sitting-out area across the Wong Nai Chung Road if you feel the need for the wide open spaces. It is hemmed in by condos, the cemeteries, the blue-coloured immensity that is High Cliff and Mount Nicholson - but at least you can feel the grass beneath your feet. Watch out for the sprinklers at 5:30pm.
Worthy of mention for night owls are The Chapel bar on Yik Yam Street - good curries and a quiz night on Thursdays - The Jockey pub in the open area at the bottom of the Valley and the Movieland, which sells ex-rental, non-pirated DVDs very cheaply. Oh, and the Korean barbecue place, again on King Kwong Street. If you want your hair and clothes infused with the odour of seared bulgogi beef, this is casual and great. And won't break the bank.
And try the Cafe Very Good. It's Not Bad.
Take the Happy Valley tram from Central, Nos 1, 19, 8X double deckers or No 5 flaggable minibus - or do as I do and jump in a cab and ask for "Pau Ma Tei" which means "Horse Running Place". Cabs are so cheap. HKD15 flag and HKD1.4 per 200m after that. Do it
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org