Ukraine Off the Beaten Track

Travel bloggers Megan & Aram on what to visit beyond the main two touristic cities in Ukraine:

  1. Mukachevo: The Carpathian mountains are just a stone’s throw away. The city runs the charismatic Latorica River, where people fish, swim and even wash clothes.
  2. Zhovkva: The town is small and walkable with places to eat from coffee and cakes to Ukraine borscht.
  3. Uzhhorod: Uzhhorod Castle has a vast Citadel, the town’s biggest attraction. Nearby, the bright yellow Greek-Catholic Cathedral, with its two steeples, stands out as one of Uzhhorod’s finest buildings.
  4. Lutsk: A mix of architecture inspired by its complex history and the must-see Lubart’s Castle.
  5. Zatoka: People, especially summer heat lovers, should go to the Ukrainian seaside. One of the most popular places among Ukrainians, particularly during summer when the temperatures.
  6. Truskavets: Resort spa town that is quite popular for domestic tourism within Ukraine. The water is dispensed to the public for free inside a few different structures throughout town that special house fountains.
  7. Kremenets: The town’s one main street is packed with pretty churches and cathedrals painted in pastel colors and topped with golden domes.
  8. Drohobych: Once a flourishing multicultural center of oil and gas industries. Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians came here to build financial fortunes and—later on—beautiful villas.
  9. Dnipro: The banks of the Dnepr river provide a great place to chill out watching the people go past while you drink a lukewarm beer from a kiosk.
  10. Zaporizhia: A bit off the path in Ukraine, but still want a city with a fair amount of things to keep one occupied.

Braggarts Only Seem Self-confident

New York Times social manners advice columnist Philip Galanes on bragging parents:

Question: My brother and his wife constantly brag about their two children. (I mean, constantly!) Would it be evil of me to let them know that I know their teenage son was arrested recently for driving under the influence? I could slip it casually into conversation.

Answer: It’s cruel to rejoice in the misfortune of a child because you bear a silly grudge against his parents. Especially here, where the boy could have hurt himself or someone else. As for his parents’ bragging, hasn’t anyone told you that braggarts only seem self-confident? Usually, they’re overcompensating for insecurity. Play nice!

10 Secluded Spots in Asia to Find Inner Peace

In the SilverKris Magazine of Singapore Airlines, James Wong lists ten Asian get-away destinations to find some inner peace:

  1. Nikko, Japan … for beautiful shrines from the Edo period
  2. Jeju Island, South Korea … for the beaches, mountains, and scenic getaways
  3. Pulau Ubin Island, Singapore … for lush unspoilt forestation and wildlife
  4. El Nido, Philippines … for sandy beaches with turquoise green waters
  5. Ko Bulon Leh, Thailand … for warm sandy beaches
  6. Koh Rong, Cambodia … for 20 gorgeous white sand beaches
  7. Lamma Island, Hong Kong … for stunning rock formations
  8. Komodo, Indonesia … for rugged hillsides and panoramic views of savannahs
  9. Havelock Island, India … for its white sand and clear waters
  10. Pom Pom Island, Malaysia … for dreamy resorts and guesthouses

The Upside of Stress

O, The Oprah Magazine (January 2010) considers a Stanford study about how stress can boost immune system:

A Stanford University study found that acute stress may protect against a common type of skin cancer. “Quick bursts of stress seem to direct the body’s ‘soldiers’ [cancer-fighting immune cells] to ‘battlefields’ [skin and lymph nodes,] increasing their ability to fight damage,” says lead author Firdaus Dhabhar, PhD. So while it may seem counterintuitive, try to get your stress hormones flowing for short periods (think playing sports, not hosting your mother-in-law for two weeks.)

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

O, The Oprah Magazine suggests questions you can ask yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

  • Why am I overwhelmed?
  • Am I really busy or does it just feel this way?
  • What’s the priority here?
  • What if I don’t have enough time?
  • Am I surrounded by energy suckers?
  • Do I have to do it all by myself?
  • What would it take for me to just say no?
  • Is my stuff taking over my life?
  • But, I want so much. Will I ever be enough?
  • Am I breaking out because I’m stressed out?
  • Is all stress bad?
  • Is it better to fight anxiety or is it okay to be nervous?
  • How do I stop focusing on the clock?

Winter Travel to Tromso, Norway

Wall Street Journal’s Nina Sovich on how to spend the winter season in some of Europe’s top destinations:

After the sun sets on Tromsø on Nov. 27 (at 11:45 a.m.,) it won’t peek above the horizon again until mid-January. But this Arctic Circle city doesn’t use winter darkness as an excuse to sleep in; if anything, its cultural and sporting opportunities only increase in the depths of winter. Under a sky frequently illuminated by aurora borealis, visitors can set off by sea to watch whales, or across the tundra to visit the indigenous Sami people and attempt to endear themselves to reindeer. Within the city, the Northern Lights cultural festival and the Tromsø International Film Festival are two bright spots.

The Joys of Solo Travel

In the August 2018 issue of Silkwinds magazine, the inflight magazine of SilkAir, Vanessa Tai writes about the joys of solo travel, tackling logistical failures, and embracing small joys:

  • Be Open-minded—For safety, go with your gut. But the rest of the time, be open-minded. Try that new dish, accept that invitation—these serendipities are what solo travel is all about.
  • Do Your Research—While it’s tempting to wing it, it’s a good idea to be prepared—get to know some basic phrases, familiarise yourself with public transport and places to avoid.
  • Be Flexible—Plans may change unexpectedly—flights get cancelled, the hotel may lose your booking. Be ready to go with the flow. Most, if not all, things will be solvable eventually.

Singapore’s Peranakan Culture

Robyn Eckhardt of the Wall Street Journal introduces the Singapore’s Peranakans (pronounced “per-rah-nah-kahns,”) a fascinating blend of cultures from the region.

The Peranakan—the descendants of marriages between local women and the foreign merchants who began arriving in the 1400s—grew wealthy working in real estate, shipping and banking. Their influence still permeates many aspects of daily life but the museum’s real highlights are the fabulously opulent items worn by the Nyonya, the female descendants: gem-studded jewelry, intricately embroidered silk clothing and handsewn slippers swathed in minuscule Bohemian glass beads.

The Peranakan Museum offers documents and artifacts, Peranakan wedding rituals and accessories, and interpretations of their religious choices, public life and food.

Caffeine Fix in Singapore: Kopitiam (Coffee Shop)

Robyn Eckhardt of the Wall Street Journal suggests the Tong Ah Eating House in Singapore’s Chinatown:

You’ll find the most authentically Singaporean caffeine fix at a classic kopitiam (coffee shop) like Tong Ah Eating House, in Chinatown. Here, powder that’s ground from beans roasted with sugar and margarine is placed in a cloth bag suspended from a metal ring and subjected to repeated dousings of hot water. The result is an intense brew served with a glug of sweetened condensed milk, to drink hot or iced (35 Keong Siak Road.)

Ask the Turtle

American political analyst Donna Lease Brazile recollects an anecdote from feminist Gloria Steinem:

While on a field trip in college with her geology class, she discovered a giant snapping turtle that had climbed out of the river, up a dirt path, right to the edge of a road. Worried it would soon be run over, she wrestled the enormous reptile off the embankment and back down to the water. At that moment, her professor walked up and asked what in the world she was doing. With some pride, she told him. He said that the turtle had probably spent a month crawling up that long dirt path to safely lay its eggs in the mud on the side of the road and that she had destroyed all that effort with her “rescue.” Gloria tells this story to illustrate the most important political lesson she ever learned: Always ask the turtle.