Philips Chinese New Year Cooking Class with Chef Amy Beh

Philips Chinese New Year Cooking Class with Chef Amy Beh

For me, new recipes are like blind dates – they may look great in pictures, but you will never really know what to expect until you see them in person. For this reason, I am immensely appreciative of cooking demonstrations as I can put new recipes to test in the presence of a culinary expert, and this allows me to have a better understanding of the recipes even before I start cooking.

5 Ways to Be an Ethical Traveler

how to be an ethical traveler
5 Ways to Be an Ethical Traveler

Every traveler shares an equal responsibility in practicing ethics and respect throughout their journey in foreign lands. Whether it is to promote social welfare, advocate animal rights or to contribute to environmental conservation, being an ethical traveler is an all-embracing role that requires effort and empathy.

I have one share in corporate Earth, and I am nervous about the management.
- E. B. White

5 Ways to Be an Ethical Traveler:

Avoid animal rides

When traveling, it's best to pack your compassion along in your suitcase. Shocking reports have revealed that thousands of animals are enslaved, abused, and exploited solely for the purpose of generating revenue in the tourism industry. To make such attractions possible, young animals are forcefully separated from their distraught mothers and are beaten into submission so they would willingly perform tricks, give rides or even to pose for the camera.

The world's cruelest animal tourist attractions include:
  1. Riding on elephants
  2. Selfies with tigers
  3. Walking with lions
  4. Bear parks
  5. Holding sea turtles
  6. Dolphin shows/swimming with dolphins
  7. Monkey shows
  8. Civet cat coffee plantations
  9. Cobra kissing
  10. Crocodile farming
  11. Bullfighting
  12. Horse-drawn carriage rides
  13. Ostrich racing and riding
  14. Fish pedicure

common travel ethics
Do not contribute to animal cruelty when you travel

Respect religious sites

In many countries, religion is of utmost importance - so much so that 64 countries have religious symbols on their national flags. Places of worship are where the community gathers to share their beliefs and to connect to their faiths, making it crucial for visitors to respect these holy sites. A few important measures include:
  1. Avoid revealing clothes (completely covered to the elbows and knees)
  2. Avoid taking photographs of statues unless permitted (most Buddhist temples strictly prohibit photography inside the buildings)
  3. Silence/Turn off phones
  4. Avoid unnecessary conversations inside the building, particularly when worshipers are praying
  5. Cover head/remove shoes if required

Ways to Be an Ethical Traveler
Inside a church in Stockholm, Sweden
how to be an ethical traveler
A Tibetan Stupa

Respect the host

When I travel, I always remind myself that I am merely a guest in someone else's country. Being courteous is important, as it is to always dress appropriately, be humble, and to not raise any disturbance. Although you may find the locals behaving or dressing less conservatively than they should have been, keep in mind that it is their prerogative to break away from their cultures, and you, as a tourist, do not share the same privilege of doing so. In this case, fitting in is always better than standing out!

Be a conscious shopper

Shopping for souvenirs? It is crucial that you learn about the origins of your purchases to make sure that no lives are harmed or resources wasted in the process of making them. In certain countries, you may come across vendors selling keychains containing trapped live animals, or animal farms selling leather goods and purses. Listen to your conscience and buy only what you think is right.

how to be an ethical traveler
Live animals trapped in plastic casing and sold as keychains

Do not litter

Whether you are in Singapore (where littering is punishable by law) or in the suburbs of a third world country, discarding your rubbish in anything other than a trashcan is a degrading and undignified act. As a traveler, understand that you, too, play a role in keeping the country clean.

Be an ethical traveler now
A responsible and ethical traveler leaves nothing but positive impacts to the places that he or she travels to. Change the way you travel today!

For travel stories & recommendations, click here.

I Swam In the Tanjung Rhu SwimFest 2016

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Langkawi Tanjung Rhu SwimFest 2016

The Langkawi Tanjung Rhu SwimFest is an open water swimming competition that was recently introduced to the sports arena on December 10, 2016. A debut program under the AkTION series, it is set to become an annual event to hopefully boost tourism to the many islands in Langkawi, specifically targeting sports enthusiasts from around the world.

Langkawi Tanjung Rhu SwimFest 2016

Available in three categories, this race is tailored to swimmers of every level: Two-kilometer for budding swimmers and four- and six-kilometer more specifically for athletes and long-distance swimming enthusiasts. Tanjung Rhu beach is the starting and finishing point of the race, while the preassigned routes will give participants the rare opportunity to experience swimming close to the international border to Malaysia-Thailand.

Thanks to the organizers of the event, I was given the opportunity to experience the first ever Tanjung Rhu Swimfest held in Langkawi last month. Swimming is an activity I enjoy, but it was never something that I have ever taken seriously in life. You can imagine what I've done on the final days leading up to the event - continuous practice and even a change of diet (well, not to swim better, but just so I would look good in my swimsuit =P).

What's in the bag: Each participant was given a swimming kit prior to race day

Event organizers E-Plus Global and Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) had the members of the media flown in on the evening before the event. After a scrumptious dinner and a short sleep, we were chauffeured to the Tanjung Rhu beach early in the morning where participants checked in and were briefed on the mechanics of the race. Shortly after, it was race time.

The start and finish point of the race

The entire course of the race was marked with buoys within every 100 meters to guide swimmers to the right direction. This was a feature I was immensely thankful for because each buoy could be held on to as and when the participants needed to rest. Aside from that, there were a total of four floating platforms which allowed swimmers to hop on for a rest and have a drink before they continued.

Although I had given my words to the organizers that I would participate, I knew for a fact that I was not able to finish the race. While I can easily manage a few unbroken laps in the pool, swimming in the open water (not to forget the merciless waves and jellyfishes) is something completely different. For the sake of experience, I got myself together and proceeded with the race anyway.

Not long into the race, I found myself swimming as hard as I could towards one of the buoy. Without hesitation, I held tightly onto it while questioning God why do swimfests exist. As I turned back to look at how far I've come from the starting point (trust me, it wasn't that far at all), I was delighted to see two other participants swimming towards the buoy I was clinging my entire body to (I wasn't planning to share). They both had an equally exhausted, confused and why-the-hell-did-I-sign-up-for-this look on their face, which we managed to laugh about for a few seconds.

A worried patrol came towards our bobbing heads and asked if we were doing alright. While both of them were determined to swim on, I was quick to surrender. I was finally pulled back to shore safely behind the patrol boat. Well, at least I've gotten a taste of the Tanjung Rhu SwimFest and I was happy I tried!

Other members of the media were still on the beach, and I gladly ran into their consoling arms. We then boarded a separate boat which brought us to the ocean as we watched the race from afar.

The island where 4km and 6km category participants had to circle as part of their route

A floating platform where swimmers can hop on for a rest

Vigilant watchmen on kayaks were sent out to keep an eye on the swimmers throughout the entire course of the race

More watchmen out on patrol

Participants reaching the finish line

National swimmer Kevin Yeap, the winner of the 6km category

National swimmers Kevin Yeap, Tern Jian Han and Vernon Lee dominated the 6km male category (well duh)

Highlight of the race: Malaysia para-athlete Mohd Sabki Bin Arifin was a 6km-category finisher

After the race, participants immersed themselves in the beauty of the picturesque ocean while strolling along the beach under the clear blue sky. A prize giving ceremony followed, while talented Thai performers wowed guests with songs and traditional dances.

The scenic view at Tanjung Rhu beach

Aktion's following programs include the Mt. Mat Chinchang SkyBridge Climb (February 18) and Tuba Trail Run (April 8). For more information on the Tanjung Rhu SwimFest or other events, click here

Tanjung Rhu SwimFest 2016
Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia