Asia Japan: Pilgrim’s Progress

Learn the ways of the ancient travellers on a trek following in the footsteps of 9th century Buddhist scholar and high priest Koho Daishi across the cherry blossomed- landscape of Japan

Description: 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

88 Temple Pilgrimage.

Japanese believers don a byakue (pilgrim) white coat and conical hat while carrying the traditinal kongotsue walking stick and nokyocho pilgrim passport, stamped by each shrine along the 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

This 750- mile trek, looping around Shikoku Island, the smallest and most sacred of Janpan’s four main islands, is undertaken by Buddhists to gain wisdom and purity. And Geographic Expeditions ( leads English- speaking journeys following in the foot steps of early 9th century Buddhist scholar and high priest Koho Daishi. Stay overnight in some of the fifty shukubo, or temple lodgings, and travel up Mount Koya to the Wakayama temple complex where Daishi introduced esoteric Shingon Buddhism to Japan in the Heian Era. The voyage shifts from religious to romantic along the rugged coast around Cape Ashizuri en route to the remote, cedar- filled Iya Valley to spent two nights at a 300- year- old wooden farmhouse meticulously renovated by Lost Japan author Alex Kerr.

Description: Vine Bridge Of Iya Valley - Tokushima, Japan

Vine Bridge Of Iya Valley - Tokushima, Japan

At Japan’s subtropical southern extreme, where even midwinter temperatures hover above 15*C, the seas surrounding Okinawa’s 160 sun-kissed islands thrive with 40 types of coral and marin life including five different types of sea turtle. Scuba drivers head to Ishigaki and Miyako Islands for the manta rays while hammerhead sharks are around Yonaguni Island.

Between May and Decomber typhoons keep divers out of the water, but this is the season that attracts international surders to Japan’s most challenging waves.

Description: Description: Asia Japan: Pilgrim’s Progress

Asia Japan: Pilgrim’s Progress

Up to now, Okinawa- bound travellers have settled for simple accommodation between surf breaks and reef dives, but that will change this spring with the opening of the Ritz Carlton Okinawa ( on Ishigaki Island, which will feature three gourmet restaurants and an ESPA spa.

They will face competition from Hoshinoya Okinawa (, a formidable Amanresorts- meets- Japanese ryokan concept hotel, which opens in June

Asia Singapore: Sing for You and Me

The island city of Singapore is greener than you thnk with luscious rainforest and national parks in abudance

Description: national parks in abudance

national parks in abudance

Better known for designer shopping and high stakes gambling, this island nation offers an unexpected array of outdoor thrills in natural surroundings. Singapore consists of the main island, 26 miles from west to east and 14 miles from north to south, and 63 surrounding islands. Waterski, wakeboard and parasail in these smooth waters with William Water Sports (williamwatersports, or let someone else exert themselves while you sunbathe aboard the yacht Nymphaea, catered by ilLido (, the most popular Italian restaurant in singapore. Back on land, the 183- acre Singapore Botanic Gardens ( provides from the bustling boutiques of Orchard Road.

Description: the National Orchid Garden

the National Orchid Garden

A relaxing escape from Singapore’s equatorial swelter, admission is free to the verdant attractions like the lakes and the ginger and bonsai gardens, but not if you want to view the 1,000 species and 2,000 hybirds in the National Orchid Garden. Surprisingly green, singapre even boasts Asia’s only primary rainforest within sity limits at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve ( Watch out for forest birds like the striped tit- babbler, fairy bluebird, drongos and bullbuls on the clearly marked hiking trails. Keep an eye out also for the resident long- tailed macaque monkeys.

Description: Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island

For more wildlife, head to Sentosa Island, accessible by road or cable car just half a mile of the southern coast of the main island. Secondary rainforset covers 70 percent of this four- square mile island, which is a natural habitat for monitor lzards, monkeys, peacocks and parrots. Take the official Nature Walk (, a 1.2- mile easy trek that highlights Sentosa Island’s unique flora (such as the insect- devouring pitcher plants) as it winds its way up to the summit of mount Imbiak, where you will see the remnants of a British army fortification. Another conlonial vestige, an 1880s British military barracks, has been revitalised within the futuristic wings of Sir Norman Foster’s Capella Singapore ( where 211 elegant guest rooms overlook one of Sentosa’s gorgeous white sand beaches. Many of the island;s native plats adorn the courtyards and balconies, adding to the general on tranquility.

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