Entire story list of Ron Gluckman in Cyberspace

AROUND THE WORLD:
 The battle to build the world's tallest tower has shifted from American to Asia, where ever-bigger erections seek to proclaim power in the ongoing quest to claim the world's tallest highrise.

Lonely Planet - For 25 years, these guides have covered the globe, advising budget travelers where to stay, what to eat and, practically to the penny, what to pay for it. Now the challenge, says founder Tony Wheeler, is keeping up with the times without losing LP's freewheeling charms
Lonely Planet - see also the story on the British boycott campaign against LP because of its Burma guide in battle in this tragic land.
UNPO - They are kings, sultans and chiefs of the world's unrecognized states, ruling 100 million people around the globe. They cry for a voice in the New World Order, finding it only in one organization, the UN of Wanna-be Nations.
He's the Rip Van Winkle of the road, the Prince of Pedal Power. After four decades, Heinze Stucke has circled the globe more than 10 times, and is still going strong in the Bikeman's Amazing Adventure.
And on the 40th anniversary of the start of his endless bike trip, here's an  www.gluckman.com exclusive new look at the world's most-traveled man, the Amazing Bikeman.
In late 1997, we set off on our own global journey.  It wasn't always a romp, but the trip of our lifetime taught us much, including the true meaning of time
 When you live on the road, even haircuts are an adventure.

ASIAWIDE:
new3.gif (284 bytes) Food awards are becoming increasingly commonplace, but Asia's 50 Best  focuses on Asia. Malaysia, Korea and the Philippines were stiffed, but many of the region's most innovative chefs received academy awards for inventive cuisine.
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  Investing in troubled countries like Haiti and Cambodia involves extensive risk, but also offers the potential of big rewards. Douglas Clayton has steered Leopard Capital from tiny Cambodia to riskier waters as a pioneer in Frontier Investment.
 Asia is buzzing with a nuclear glow, as many Southeast Asia nations look to nuke as the answer for energy security amidst concerns over global warming. Thailand is leading the way in the new nuclear charge.
  Asia's answer to Richard Branson took over a bankrupt carrier, launched Air Asia and watched it soar as the region's largest passenger carrier. Now cost-cutting king Tony Fernandes is eyeing new routes including long-haul service, but always keeping to the mantra: Now, everyone can fly. And a newer take on the region's remarkable airline king at AirAsia2009.
 When Asian resorts seek plush landscaping, fantasy gardens that justify prices of $1000 per night and up (and up), Bill Bensely is the go-to guy. But now he's gravitated from the grounds inside, designing everything from resorts to palaces for royalty.
 
The battle to build the world's tallest tower has shifted from American to Asia, where ever-bigger erections seek to proclaim power in the ongoing quest to claim the world's tallest highrise.
E-com in Asia - Nobody said it would be easy, but e-commerce has had virtually no impact on Asia. To many, the demise of AdMart in Hong Kong may be the definitive death on the net story.
Death in Asia
- The Japanese and Chinese do everything in flashy style, even dying. See how they and other Asians make a grand exit in Going Out in Style.
Sisters in Power - Around Asia women have taken power in greater number - and earlier - than even in "liberal" western nations. Look at the list of sisters in power.

AUSTRALIA:
Coober Pedy
, a cave city featured in "Mad Max" as well as "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Everybody lives underground, Flintstone-style in Home Under The Range.
Melbourne is neither Australia's largest, nor warmest city, but it may well be the funniest. And it restates its claim every year at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
Performing at Comedy Fest, Hung Le, the world's only Vietnamese boat person comic.

BHUTAN:
  H
idden at the top of world, the tiny kingdom of Bhutan banked on its remote location preserve its culture. But now, in welcoming the world, many wonder if this precious Shangri-la can survive its own significant buzz.
  Long one of the world's most reclusive holiday destination, Bhutan is not only opening up, but rolling our a red carpet for high rollers. Many wonder, is the rooftop of the world selling out?

BURMA (Myanmar):
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  As Myanmar continues its reforms, foreign companies freed from the sanctions that bankrupted former Burma are returning in force. Everyone wants to partner with Moe Myint, a former airline pilot who refused to bribe or cavort with the old cronies. 
 new3.gif (284 bytes) A landmark literary festival unfolded recently in what has been one of the world's most repressive nations. But before that, Burma was one of the most literate. Hence, there was much to celebrate at Burma's first free literary festival.
 Hillary Clinton was only the headline act, as Myanmar's startling reforms put the country center stage in the world's attention when the new president pushed a bold series of reforms. Longstanding opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from arrest, and re-entered politics. All the change suggests that, at last, we are on the verge of a Myanmar Spring.
  Business is booming on Burma's borders - copy CDs, drugs and gambling. The warlords liken it to Las Vegas; it seems more Thailand's Tijuana.
Burma has been in a terrible slump, on and off the soccer pitch. A new book traces the arrival of the sport a century ago, and is quite a kick.
  For the definitive word on travel in Burma, take a tour with the experts, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, founders of Lonely Planet, who have found travel can be  a battle in this tragic land.
  Should you stay or should you go? Boycotters say stay at home. If you do, you'll miss the incredible Land of the Golden Pagodas.
  Many are awestruck at the first views of Bagan, where thousands of ancient temples stretch out on a stunning Burmese plain.
  There's the Raffles in Singapore, the Oriental in Bangkok and, in Burma, the Strand, where you can bunk down in history.
A regime ready to fall, or an overhyped democracy movement? The real story in up and down in Myanmar.
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi remains a bright light for the democracy movement, but not without considerable cost.
We visit at home with Aung San Suu Kyi and also take an inside look at Burma's politics during a recent crackdown campaign against Suu Kyi and her supporters.
Where have all the opium poppies gone in the Golden Triangle? Easy, screened on T-shirts for tourists flocking to the infamous point where Laos, Burma and Thailand meet.
Go where tourists and even locals are rarely allowed, by rail to the furthest reaches of this exotic land in Tracking Myanmar.
Or should tourists boycott the bloody place? The debate rages in Why Visit Myanmar?
But if you decide to go, be ready to rock and roll in Rangoon.

CAMBODIA:
 
 Every fall, some of the world's best photographers gather in one of the world's oldest, most impressive cities, for the Angkor Photography Festival. There magic in the location, and spirit of giving back.
 Dredges supplying Singapore with sand are sucking up reefs and seahorses off the coast of Cambodia. A recent ban has provided a respite, but the question is whether it will be enforced by Cambodia's corrupt government, and for long enough to save the Seahorses.
  White beaches and uncut forests abound in Vietnam and Cambodia, and some of Southeast Asia's last undeveloped islands. But a gold rush of development has begun along what many call the Indochine Riviera.
 The coastal free-for-old has ratcheted up land grabs in corrupt Cambodia, where an economic boom hasn't helped locals, who are being made landless while foreign investors grab vast tracts of land as leaders line their pockets in what is shaping up as a world-class land grab.
  Despite a booming economy, the biggest threat to the poor in an impoverished nation in Cambodia can be prosperity. Case in point, Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh, where developers are working with the corrupt Cambodian government to evict thousands of refuges who found shelter in swampland, only to be threatened by the biggest relocations since the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities.
 Pushed to the edge of extinction, a rare variety of freshwater dolphin is making a fin-al stand in a stretch of the Mekong, in remote Laos and Cambodia. An ambitious development program is trying to alleviate poverty and using tourism to save the species.
 When it comes to exclusivity, you cannot beat One Hotel, the world's smallest, with only one room.
  Hundreds of Cambodian refugees reached safety in America as children, but decades later, have been deported to a land many never even knew. Cambodia's pain is America's shame; the US not only failed to provide promised shelter, but offers no access to appeal, let alone human decency, simply stamping them: Return to Sender.
 
  New architectural forms arise rarely, especially in Asia. Yet a half century ago, as Cambodia celebrated its rebirth in independence, a spate of new construction ensued, much in the style increasingly celebrated as New Khmer Architecture.
 
  Phnom Penh showcases not only New Khmer Architecture, but some of the finest colonial treasures from Indochine, in a largely intact state.  All can be seen in a delightful guided tour.
   Move over Ubud and Hanoi, Asia has a hot new arts enclave - Siem Reap. Gateway to Angkor, it swarms with tourists. Now, the laid-back lifestyle is attracting scores of regional artists, and fueling a boom in art galleries.
   Hailed as Asia's new Riviera, the southern coast of Cambodia is booming. Tourists swarm to Sihanoukville, but the chic set head to Kep, a sleepy seaside town that has been the in-destination for decades.
  He's been called the new face of capitalism in Cambodia. Nobody better embodies the frontier style and risky nature of business in this war-torn country than Kith Meng, who is helping to transform this former economic backwater into one of Asia's best performing economies
  War-torn and forlorn for decades, Cambodia's capital has become an edgy new destination. With glorious colonial-era buildings, a river whose flow reverses every year, and an intoxicating slow pace, Phnom Penh is back on the tourist maps.
 
  Hailed as Asia's new Riviera, the southern coast of Cambodia is booming. Tourists swarm to Sihanoukville, but the chic set head to Kep, a sleepy seaside town that has been the in-destination for decades.
 Long left behind in the Asian economic boom, Cambodia is catching up fast, as double-digit growth rates fuel a frenzy of new development projects, in the first construction boom in 1,000 years.
  Long left behind in the Asian economic boom, Cambodia is catching up fast, as double-digit growth rates fuel a frenzy of new development projects, in the first construction boom in 1,000 years.
 Amidst all the books about the glories of ancient Angkor or forgettable tales from recent aid workers, Geoff Ryman's "The King's Last Song," is a novel Cambodian volume, and well worth a read.
 Cambodians have waited three decades for justice to come to the Killing Fields, where nearly 20 percent of the population died. An odd UN Tribunal brought hope, but after a year, still no court cases, only more controversy. Sadly, survivors of the ruthless Khmer Rouge will just have to wait a little longer.
 
Cambodia's Angkor temples are an undisputed world wonder. But the arrival of mass tourism in a corrupt country ill equipped for the boom, makes many wonder whether tourists will love the ancient wonder of Angkor to death.
 Phnom Penh has long claimed a wide array of international restaurants, but a trio of new Cambodian restaurants raise the bar higher.
 
Cambodia's Tribunal hopes to gather victims, explain the carnage and foster reconciliation with the Khmer Rouge. But that's already been done by the film "S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine.
 
Phnom Penh is short of paved streets and honest police, but it's always had pizza aplenty, including pot-laced Herb pizzas. Yet the excitement now is Cambodia's first franchise restaurant.
  In "The Lost Executioner," author Nic Dunlop tracks down Duch, the Khmer Rouge death camp commandant. Part detective, more self-discovery tale, it also offers new insight to the tragedy of Cambodia.

 
Every year, when the murky waters of the Tonle Sap reverse their flow into the infamous Mekong River, the aquatic miracle puts men in the mood for matrimony

CHINA (see also Tibet):
 new3.gif (284 bytes) Whether a weekend in Paris, pints in a Thames-side pub, or hiking the Swiss Alps, you can find it all in the Copy Kingdom! China  is now copying entire cities! 
 new3.gif (284 bytes) Stephen Bell, a Silicon Valley scout is grooming new technology innovators in China. Nobody is making bigger bets at an earlier stage than this hyper-charged venture capitalist.
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  China has been buzzing about  Bo Xi Li, fallen kingpin of Chongqing. As other rincelings trembled, global luxe-brands feared the fallout on profits. We visit the sordid crime sites in Chongqing and travel around China to assess the impact of this revolutionary scandal.
 new3.gif (284 bytes) Longtime venture capitalist  Gary Rieschel is proudest of bringing the same sort of Silicon Valley structure to the booming mainland start-up scene, and helping to nurture a new generation of Chinese entrepreneurs
 new3.gif (284 bytes) Beijing underground club D-22 showcased China's fledgling experimental music scene, thanks to an unlikely American investment broker turned music promoter. But Michael Pettis said it was time to bid farewell to the cool punk rock club and move on to new musical frontiers.
 new3.gif (284 bytes)
 International hotel brands have been swarming into China for years, but the pace has exploded in recent year. If it looks like the game of monopoly, that's because hotel bosses have been checking into China, with no intention of ever checking out.
  India practically invented outsourcing, and dominates what has become a multi-billion global  industry. But insiders have an eye on companies like VanceInfo, which  is helping to make China a player in a lucrative industry.
 China has become the world capital of golf, and nobody has had more impact than Brian Curley, an American designer with a mad sense of style and independent streak. He's not only changing the look of links in China, but revolutionizing the entire golfing game.
The world knows Jackie Chan as an unusual action star turned leading man. But he's also one of Asia's hardest working philanthropists.
 In China, man's best friend is also the most expensive. With millions getting rich add to the long list of trendy essentials the latest craze, the Tibetan Mastiff, the world's first multi-million dollar dog.
 A photo festival in Beijing supposedly signals a new generation of artistic expression in China. But the absence and detention of Ai Weiwei at the Caochangdi arts district, which he helped build, only reminds the world about artistic repression in China.
 What happens when the world's oldest protest singer plays the world's largest no-protest zone? When Bob Dylan finally made his China debut, the result was a tight set, amidst a frenzy of shameless media coverage more common in the Chinese press.
  Hidden in the Hutongs, Beijing's Nanluoguxiang Lane has been a Bohemian enclave for eons. Long ago populated by minstrels, poets and shoppers, this forgotten lane in the old city has recently been reborn as Beijing's hippest street.
 
Beijing takes Great Leaps Forward in its quest to be a World Capital with a pair of international literary festivals. All thanks due to two ladies who are lifelong lovers of literature.
   China's best-kept winter secret is an UNESCO World Heritage site that draws millions of Chinese tourists. But all visit in summer. Hence, one of China's best expanses of wilderness is delightfully deserted throughout winter.
  He could be the most celebrated artist in China. Lauded around the globe, Ai Weiwei is banned from mainland media and has been beaten by authorities. Still, this revolutionary artist refuses to give up his fight for democracy and human rights in his homeland.
  China has become the world's largest golfing nation, amidst a dizzying rush of course construction, much of it illegal. We provide an inside peak at the world's biggest golf resort, six times the six of Manhattan, tucked into a volcano field.
  Long derided as a backwater, Hainan Island is finally living up to its promise as China's Hawaii. With spectacular beaches and scenery, five-star hotels are flocking to the world's fastest growing destination.
   Volvo offered a car, and suggested we take a fun road trip in China. So off we roared from Chongqing and Chengdu all the way to the Tibetan mountains, on a romp around Sichuan province.
 Shanghai's Puli - the unfinished gem - is finally open, and China has never seen a hotel so exquisitely styled as this gem among a slew of new openings before the World Expo.
  M on the Fringe was a hit in Hong Kong, but Michelle Garnaut achieved international acclaim with Shanghai's M on the Bund, which revived the historic Bund district. Now, the diva behind the Shanghai Literary Festival is planning mega expansion on the Mainland of the M-pire.
  Handel Lee has been behind some of the hippest projects in China. Legation Quarter, site of the Boxer  siege in Beijing, could also be a last stand for this amazing lawyer turned entrepreneur.
  Beijing's Olympics will surely be remembered in years to come for all its facilities.  Give this Olympics a gold medal for civic planning. 
   Style was for Shanghai. Beijing remained utterly old fashioned, out of it. But, in the run-up to the Olympics, a slew of hip hotels hit the scene, making a surprisingly trendy destination
  The railway brings new opportunity to the Rooftop of the World. As more and more Chinese move to Tibet, many worry that their influence is pushing progress too fast, and that the magic that attracted them to Tibet will be trampled by tourism.
  The world's highest-altitude train has brought an influx of tourists to Shangri-la, along with controversy over the influx of Chinese workers and impact on Tibetan culture. But the tracks run two ways. Not only Tibetans, but Chinese, too, are grappling with new ways of tracking Tibet.
  Nobody believed it possible, but Beijing spent billions to create the world's highest altitude railway, which began breathtaking runs to the Rooftop of the World in July. Chinese cheered, but Tibetans worry it's just a Golden Spike in the coffin for their Shangri-la.
  Measures to curtail real estate speculation have failed to slow a mainland market that continues to chalk up record gains. While Shanghai and some inland areas have cooled off recently, Beijing remains a buy.

  American Handel Lee moved to China to practice law, but has had bigger impact outside the courtroom, creating some of China's best clubs, art galleries and plazas. In the process, he's expanded expectations and redefined the artistic sense of style on the mainland.

  The buzz is back and Disney is only part of the reasons. With scores of new clubs and flash hotels, Hong Kong is back to its pre-1997 peak.
 Like in another former frontier, the real growth in China can be found outside Beijing, Shanghai and other established cities, if you Go West.
 Hong Kong's yoga boom. Two takes: Hong Kong's Caviar of Yoga and the fitness barons behind Hong Kong's yoga boom.
 
What happens when the world's largest entertainment company woos the world's largest market? The answer can be found in Hong Kong, where Disneyland is only the first of a tidal wave of new attractions.
  The world's fastest-growing aviation sector is soaring thanks to an infusion of foreign pilots, who  are flying in China, just not officially. China's secret in the sky.
 
When America's oldest music form played the world's oldest kingdom, there was a new twist; bluegrass sung in Chinese. Abby Washburn puts a new swing to old Beijing.
 As cities across China modernize, half a dozen towns on the Yangtze River are going against the current, restoring cobbled lanes and banking on the past.

 Here's the
utmost in marketing. Zhongdian, a tiny mountain has been renamed Shangri-la, promoted as a Himalayan paradise. 
  Decades of debates and the best efforts of the Dalai Lama haven't budged Beijing, but to young Chinese, Tibet is the utmost of cool. They hunger for Tibetan food, trinkets, tunes and tours of the Rooftop of the World.
  In the new Battle of the Bulge, where bellies are expanding almost as fast as salaries and expectations, China fights a new foreign invasion, of fast food, with innovative Fat Farms where the weight miraculously melts away.
 Georgio Armani and Jean Georges are among the food and fashion superstars flocking to this new world capital, as Shanghai's dining scene has quickly come of age.
 Formerly famed for its hills, heat, haze and biting smog, Chongqing, the old Furnace City on the Yangtze River is a cleaner, cooler, dare we say, hip?
 From a nation of bikes, China has gone four-wheel in a flash. All car makers are racing to cash in on the world's most revved-up automobile market.
 Beijing, once the stodgiest city in Asia, is suddenly taking an exciting, innovative turn, at least in terms of its architectural Great Leap Forward.
  Beijing's Hou Hai, a growing area of restaurants, bars and boutiques, is the capital's hippest not-so-new district.  
 Marriage on the mainland is a boom industry, with heaps of love boutiques cashing in on the craze for extravagant weddings.
 Once the richest, most decadent district in China, and all of the Far East, Shanghai's Bund is finally bouncing back and  partying like its 1939.
 Change is a constant in China, where jobs, housing, even policies seem to be revolutionized on an almost daily basis. All the opportunities add choice, but also a kind of pressure and Future Shock.
 From trinkets to treasures, Mao caps to Ming pottery, you can find anything at Beijing's infamous dirt market.
Marriage on the mainland is a boom industry, love boutiques blossoming across the land as more and more couples splash out for extravagant weddings.
  He Yongzhi is China's Hotpot Queen. With over 100 restaurants in China, she hopes to make hotpot the mainland's answer to MacDonald's.
 China's first cadre went into orbit in October, but the People's Republic of Caution managed to muzzle its own Great Leap into Space.
  Shanghai's building boom has attracted the world's leading architects who are turning this city into one of the most exciting anywhere; again.
  Shanghai's Xin Tian Di not only saves a historic part of old Shanghai, but gives China its hottest district of clubs, boutiques and eateries. And you can thank Mao for this new Cultural Revolution.
 
As the Three Gorges Dam reopened to boat traffic in June, the Great Wall of Concrete is proving to be an odd tourist attraction in its own right.
 Long before the Taliban blew the tops off its own Buddhas, the biggest in the world was keeping watch over the sleepy Chinese town of Leshan.
 When China coughs, the world takes cover. As a fatal new bug (SARS) sweeps across Asia, and threatens the world, Beijing remains stuck between disclosure and complete denial.
Students in the capital were gearing up for rare China protests. Until they got censored - for agreeing with their own government. Only in Beijing Spring.
  The future of transport? Perhaps. All aboard the world's first Maglev, in Shanghai for a test run to Tomorrowland.
  Miles from nowhere, mid-way between Rome and Beijing, Kashgar was the last outfitting post on the old Silk Road. The timeless tradition continues.
  China's Sichuan Province is famed for fiery cuisine (think Szechwan and tasty Kung Pao chicken), but it's also an all-round attraction.
  A chance encounter along the Afghan border meant that I either bumped into the latest Al Qaeda cell, or an odd group of Holy Warrior wanna-bes; for Newsweek, my meeting with the Portland Six.
 Is this really the swan song for the Three Gorges, or only more Chinese hype? Two views on the trip-of-a-lifetime for Destinasian and the Wall Street Journal.
  China plans to launch its first man into orbit within months, but it won't stop there. Already a dozen astronauts are training in a top-secret Space City. Here's  the world's first peak inside the Chinese space programme.
  And also see reviving the Space Race.
 
Human rights watchers worry that the war on terrorism has allowed China to crackdown on its own Muslim minority. Things are bad, say Uighurs, but that's how it's been for centuries. Two reports: Another Cultural Revolution and Strangers in their Own Land.
  Across the mainland, it's out with the old and in with the new, as in newlyweds. In new China, to get hitched is glorious.
Beijing Graffiti? A tour of the capital in a Red Flag stretch limo is like Cultural Revolution Cruisin'
  China's oldest ballet troupe was crippled by the Cultural Revolution, then overwhelmed by the new reforms. Yet a courageous ballet is leading the way with a Commercial Great Leap Forward.
  Eighty bands and four days of Peace Love and Propaganda! was the billing for China's Woodstock; but it never happened. How China almost pulled off its Summer of Love.
  Concrete blocks and gaudy glass towers have long typified architecture in China. But now, the nation is turning to foreign architects in hopes of replacing the crass with class.
 
And I. M. Pei is among the world-class architects leading the fight to prevent western flash from overwhelming traditional Chinese architecture.
  Art has a long history in China; likewise the fine art of forgery. Every year,  buyers are stiffed for tens of millions in copy art; Remade in China.
  Could there be an odder coupling that boxing mega-promoter Don King and the People's Republic, which long ago banned both gambling and fighting? Yet the pair are teaming up to bring China its first title fight, and boxing's Don with the gravity-defying hair is already the King of Beijing.
  This Capital of Cool keeps growing and getting more groovy. With scores of trendy cafes, museums and theaters, plus the most modern infrastructure on the planet, Shanghai is reclaiming its old glory as Paris of the East.
  Before World War II, Shanghai was among the wild cities of the world. It's clearly moving that way again, but the city still suffers from some of the old inhibitions of the Prudish Republic of China.
  For a century, Shanghai's  brownstone row rivaled Wall Street. The Bund was also Party Central in the Far East - until THE Party pulled the plug. But the lights are finally coming back on the Bund.
  Nobody knows how they came to China, or their exact fate, but the ancient Jewish settlers have been a curiosity for centuries. No less intriguing is the tale of Sidney Shapiro, an American who has made his home in China for 50 years.
  He has played Irish jigs, performed duets with Bobby McFerrin, and even climbed the charts. But now, Yo-Yo Ma has greater goal: saving the music of the old Silk Road and sending some of the old sounds back.
 
Built to keep out the hordes - Genghis Kahn's moguls - the Great Wall now attracts even more invaders; tourists. They climb, and cable car up, and bungee jump down. And the Chinese only keep upping the toll. Sometimes it seems they may love the Wall to Death.
  A great new Beijing guide covers all the sights in plenty of style.
  A Yunan woman is wired about China and takes tourist tripping in WildChina.com
  Church Bells ring and lights flicker across scores of shopping malls, but all is not merry for millions of Christians in China, despite Beijing's boasts of a Golden Age of religious tolerance.
As incomes rise and the workweek shortens, leisure options have boomed across China. But thus far, the nascent amusement industry has suffered more spills than thrills.
  Is it hipper than Hong Kong? Shanghai, fabled Pearl of the Orient, is again sparkling in all its lustrous glory. Yet Shanghai doesn't think it such crash terms. Forget rivalries with other Chinese metropolises;  Shanghai could be the coolest city in Asia.
Beijing's Desert Storm - In China, the desert is on the move, consuming vital farm land with sand storms sweeping even into the capital, only 75 kilometers from the approaching dunes. Can China hold back the desert?
Can Red China Go Green? With the world's ten most polluted cities, a litany of poisoned lakes and rivers, not to mention major mind control, China might seem an unlikely breeding ground for environmentalism. Yet gutsy old history professor Liang Congjie has become an effective ecological advocate.
China's Bruce Springsteen cannot get a break. Cui Jian rose to stardom as the soul of Tiananmen Square, but his role in the uprising continues to cloud his career, not that this Beijing star is singing the blues
Taking China to the hoop - A rag-tag team of NBA All Stars and also-rans played the China National team, but the goal wasn't in the game but the marketing of the world's best-hyped sport, in Showtime in China
  Arnie in China - The Terminator finally made it's debut in China, a decade after the rest of the world, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was on hand for the opening, and to deliver a serious message about Special Olympics.
  Ten years ago, this Tiananmen-era exile was hawking T-shirts in Toronto; now he's wiring the People's Republic, cadre by cadre.
  Does the PRC really believe a bunch of old men and women, waving their arms in the park can bring down the government? Why is Beijing so afraid of the Falun Gong?
 
Every year about election time, talk in the Taiwan Straits turns to tanks and invasion schemes. Even on the other side of the Pacific, an exhibit of paintings got caught up in posturing of the Art of War.
In the next century, it will come into its own. But in the meantime, all the fast food and get-rich schemes too often make the Middle Kingdom seem like McChina.
Too much American influence? Some can't get enough of the old wild west.
Mao was right, the East Is Red. At least in terms of  China Wine.
Better than wine, it's the world leader in the manufacture of harmonicas.
And, believe it or not, the world's number one producer of hemp Rope, not Dope.
Ten years is a long time, but memories of Tiananmen continue to cloud China's other accomplishments and anniversaries in an epic year for Mao and his square.
Father and son find distances can be deceiving, especially on a train trip of unexpected discovery, aboard the express to the Chinese capital.
A half century after the communist revolution, Mao's dowdy red capital prepares to really party. In  Time magazine's special look at China, is my tour of Tiananmen, transvestites and other Beijing sights.
Across the river from Shanghai, a fascinating financial city of the future is taking shape. For years, little more than muddy sites and pie-in-the-sky dreams, Pudong is taking shape as the first metropolis of the new millennium, one that may ultimately eclipse Hong Kong.
Shanghai was a wild city before World War II. The old glories of the international port are recalled by an aging group of survivors in Old China Hands.
China - Old Shanghai also sheltered thousands of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust; read this amazing story of survival and history in
the Shanghai Jewish community.
Shanghai - And a new film tells the story of some of the Jewish refugees who sheltered in Shanghai. Just out in 1999 is "The Port of Last Resort."
China, Xiamen - Facing Taiwan and once stuck in a Cold War freeze, this lovely old port is flourishing and welcoming tourists to an unusual beach that blends Shrapnel and Sand.
China, Yangshuo -
Oliver Stone was spellbound by the lush fields and surreal conical hills along the Li River; as seen in "Between Heaven and Earth." The same scenery has inspired poets and painters for centuries. Take a look at the View from Moon Hill.

Dubai/UAE:
 The race to build the world's biggest skyscraper has stepped up in Asia, but is rising to staggering new heights in the Middle East. Still, skyscraper spotters are aghast at the towering Burj Dubai.
 
If the world seems too small, simply rebuild it a better one; the universe too. Dubai's popular - and profitable real estate scheme: artificial-island creation.
Camel Kids - Scores of young children from around South Asia are kidnapped or stolen, then sold as slaves to the camel-racing kingpins in the United Arab Emirates. 

Dubai - Four-wheeling up and down desert dunes is only part of the fun in Dubai, a long-reclusive Middle Eastern kingdom that is beginning to open up to tourism.

The Hong Kong of the Middle East? That's the plan of Dubai, which has invested its oil wealth heavily in modern infrastructure in hopes of becoming the top trading center of the Arab world.

FIJI:
new3.gif (284 bytes)  Armed with a brilliant idea and amazing internet buzz, a pair of British entrepreneurs washed ashore in Fiji, where they launched a kind of Survivor Island meets Robinson Crusoe fantasy. TribeWanted has created a new island resort concept for the Internet Age.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS:
Popularized by Darwin and populated by near-prehistoric creatures, these islands truly constitute another world. One where animals are free from fear, and visitors can marvel at the magic of watching evolution in action.

HONG KONG:
new3.gif (284 bytes) The world knows Jackie Chan as an unusual action star turned leading man. But he's also one of Asia's hardest working philanthropists.
new3.gif (284 bytes)  The opening of the world's highest hotel brings back the soaring skyscraper to the city that really spread cloud-tickling towers to the rest of the world. With the ICC, Hong Kong, and the world takes a Giant Leap towards super-cities of the future.
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  Hong Kong has ample history, just little interest in protecting it. Then David Yeo revamped a colonial landmark into the Hullett Hotel, bringing the glorious past back to life.
 The buzz is back and Disney is only part of the reasons. With scores of new clubs and flash hotels, Hong Kong is back to its pre-1997 peak.
 Hong Kong's yoga boom. Two takes: Hong Kong's Caviar of Yoga and the fitness barons behind Hong Kong's yoga boom.
 
What happens when the world's largest entertainment company woos the world's largest market? The answer can be found in Hong Kong, where Disneyland is only the first of a tidal wave of new attractions.
 Hong Kong has long been known as Asia's city of thrills, but a City of Chills? That's the surprise a short ferry hop from this frantic city, when you escape on these enchanted isles.
  Five years after its historic Handover, Hong Kong has changed, but not like the Beijing bashers predicted.
  E-com in Asia - Nobody said it would be easy, but e-commerce has had virtually no impact on Asia. To many, the demise of AdMart in Hong Kong may be the definitive death on the net story.
Maverick clothing whiz turned media baron Jimmy Lai has stood up to Beijing and defied the local oligarchy. But now the miracle man is facing a crisis over his foray into e-commerce. How fitting, in Hong Kong, that shopping could be the last stand for Jimmy Lai.
Hollywood stars Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne learned their flashy kung fu "Matrix" moves from the master, Hong Kong kung fu choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping, who also helped shape the careers of Jackie Chan and Jet "Lethal Weapon" Li. Keanu is a big fan of Hong Kong's legendary director.
The British colony reverted to China rule on July 1, 1997, but with the high-rise towers and bulging government treasury, came a catch: Tiananmen organizer Han Dongfang, the heroic man who beat Beijing.

INDIA:
 Asia's hottest new beach
is a real blast from the past, as in five-centuries ago. Better known for hippie huts and all-night raves, tourists and resorts are flocking back to groovy Goa.
  In Rajasthan one finds the sights of the Arabian Knights, only more colorful. And scores of fort and castle hotels offer regal lodgings fit for a king or queen.
  The Maharaja of Jodhpur, talks about the impacts of tourism on his ancient land.
  Tour dunes the old way, sandwiched between a pair of hairy humps. Camel treks may seem romantic, but in the Thar Desert, it's buyer beware.
  A true world wonder, and probably the most recognizable building on the planet, the majestic Taj Mahal is  also a magical destination within easy reach of Delhi.
 
Steep slopes and storybook towns clinging to craggy cliffs shrouded by mist makes Sikkim another   Shangri-la high in the Himalayas. Long off limits, you can now visit this  Kingdom in the clouds
  Rest, recreation and a wicked cup of tea are on offer at Kalimpong and Darjeeling, two old British hill stations high in the Indian Himalayas. Tourists have been delighting for a century in remnants of the Raj era.

INDONESIA:
 World wonders like Borobudur and Prambanan draw more tourists, but off-the-track sites like Dieng Plateau and Gedung Songo are cool, too, and have no queues. For Time Magazine, a jaunt in Central Java.
  Java is famed for smoking volcanoes and the coffee that bears the island's name. And there is no better place to sip Java than on the balcony of your own luxury villa at  Losari Coffee Plantation resort.
   Bali and Yogyakarta are its biggest boosters, but experts say the best batik by far comes from Cirebon.
  Train-spotters are thrilled about Ambarawa Train Museum, where you can board a 100-year-old steam engine on a trip back in time.
 
He may be the next Nelson Mandela. He certainly seems like East Timor's best hope. A profile on freedom fighter Xanana Gusmao, who may be the first president of independent East Timor.
  After East Timor, what Indonesian hotspot will go next? Will a new president maintain stability in a nation of hundreds of ethnic groups across 13,000 islands, or will Indonesia fall apart, the next Yugoslavia?
  Is she the Queen of Javanese Justice, like the people pray, or daughter of darkness, as Suharto felt? That's the question in Indonesia as deal-making goes on and coup rumors run rampant in the riot-plagued capital. Can the daughter of founding father Sukarno save the nation, or does she, as critics say, lack the vision thing?
Muslim clerics in Indonesia say Megawati, meaning any woman, is unfit to lead a nation, especially the world's largest  Islamic one. One wonders if they ever looked around Asia, where women have taken power in greater number - and earlier - than even in "liberal" western nations. Look at the list of sisters in power.
Java is the largest island in this exotic archipelago, teeming jungles, temples and wild tribes. But those seeking a break head to a Garden of Eden, a secret hideaway in Kaliklatak, where guests enjoy a home-grown feast and the best cup of Joe in Java.
Indonesia - Spears fly and blood flows, as the worms wash ashore in a sexual frenzy when the moon is full in Sumba, where Pasola brings a carnival of killing and sacrifice to the head-hunting tribes of Indonesia.

JAPAN:
  Not satisfied with Mother Nature's mood swings, the Japanese built an unreal ocean paradise, a stone's throw from a real beach. The surf's always up at the Indoor Beach
And lest it seem too kookie, have a glance at theme parks
The Japanese do everything in flashy style, even dying. See how they and other Asians make a grand exit in Going Out in Style.

LAOS:
 new3.gif (284 bytes) Long passed over save for legions of backpackers, this gateway to southern Laos has been discovered. Picturesque coffee plantations, colonial architecture, ancient Khmer ruins and idyllic river islands are putting Pakse on the map.
 
Gateway to the lush Boloven Plateau and close to the pre-Angkor ruins of Vat Phou, the southern Laos town of Pakse is coming on as a cool new Southeast Asian destination.
 - Long closed to the  world, Laos is suddenly hip, and even the quiet capital of Vientiane is feeling the boom. Although, like everything in Laos, the boom is slow and measured, thankfully so.

  - Pushed to the edge of extinction, a rare variety of freshwater dolphin survives in the Mekong on the Lao-Cambodian border, where a new project uses tourism to save the species.
 
Isolated no longer, this precious land has long been stuck in time. But now the pace of change has speeded all the way up to a crawl in Laid-back Laos
 
In one of the world's poorest countries, this plucky foreign advisor has eschewed handouts, forging local partnerships based on trust, talent and tradition. In the process, Carol Cassidy has revitalized the Lao silk industry in Smooth as Silk.
  Other hope comes from former residents, who are returning with new ideas and investment, including one who is rolling the reels like the war-time boom years of yore.
  Visit one of the world's most charming old capitals, Luang Prabang, right along the Mekong River. Drop into the World Wonder of the Jungle

MACAU:
 
Forgotten for over a century, Europe's first outpost in the Far East languished in the shadow of Hong Kong, the more robust, vastly richer British colony across the Pearl River Delta. But now Macau is being reborn as China's Las Vegas, only much bigger.
  An updated look at the world's casino capital, and fast-growing tourist destination of Macau.
 
Often overlooked and overshadowed by Hong Kong, the Portuguese enclave of Macau is older and has an even richer history. A look Europe's first foothold in the Far East, prior to its return to China at the end of 1999.
  Rocked by turmoil and mob violence in its final days of Portuguese stewardship, Macau's real rulers, the casino bosses and developers, are upbeat about the prospects for this Sin City of the South China Sea.

MALAYSIA:
 
 Asia's answer to Richard Branson, took over a bankrupt carrier, launched Air Asia and turned it into the region's largest passenger carrier. Now, he is launching but always keeping to the mantra: Now, everyone can fly.
   Asia's first resort island of Penang fell on hard times in recent decades, as tourists flocked to new beaches with a bigger buzz. But now, the historic trading port has rebounded. Penang is on the rise.
 
White forts line the river where a rogue British pirate carved out a jungle kingdom in Borneo's Heart of Darkness. The real-life Lord Jim.

MALDIVES:
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  Sir Richard Branson has become not only an apostle for the virtues of space travel, but also sustainable travel. He also thinks it would be smart to save the world from global warming, starting now. In an exclusive interview, he talks about the future of travel, and fixing the planet
new3.gif (284 bytes) President Mohamed Nasheed has become a tireless global advocate for ecological solutions to global warming, which could drown his island nation. But can he manage the tidal wave of Chinese tourism in his patch of paradise?
 new3.gif (284 bytes) Fabien Cousteau is following in the footsteps of his famed grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, whose voyages on the Calypso taught the world about the wonders of the oceans. Fabien wants to focus attention on the reefs and marine environment, which he hopes to help repair, one bit at a time. He wants the whole world to Plant A Fish.
PARADISE MAINTAINED - As resorts spread across these gorgeous islands, the Maldives has survived not only of the tsunami, but also mass tourism. The Maldives remains the very picture of paradise.
 Paradise, these days, must be more than sum of sun, sand and surf. Serenity is increasingly defined by the spa. It all comes together at the Maldives landmark, Soneva Fushi.
Tourists outnumber residents two to one, and the atolls offer virtually no food, water or shelter. Global warming is a big threat. By all measures, the Maldives, which is Muslim, would seem unlikely seaside retreat. Yet, even without mumbling such buzzwords, the atolls are a model of eco-tourism.

MONGOLIA:
new3.gif (284 bytes)  Polo was used by the Great Khan for troop training and recreation. So, after centuries of absence, it's a treat to participate in the reintroduction of polo in its homeland, a place perfectly suited for the sport.
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  Also see the Game of Genghis Khan  in Forbes Magazine.
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  Mongolia is one of the least populated places on the planet, and has long been one of the poorest, but new development is fueling a turnaround, turning the capital of Ulaanbaatar into an Asian hotspot.
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  Karakorum, the ancient Mongol capital, is being rebuilt, and locals and tourists alike are beginning to return to this mesmerizing site.

 new3.gif (284 bytes)  A mining boom is sweeping the steppes, taking the ancient nomads of Mongolia into the 21st Century, and its by far the biggest thing to happen in Mongolia in eight centuries.
The birthplace of Genghis Khan, was also home to one of the world's major Buddhist monasteries, until the Communists reduced it to rubble. Now, pilgrims are back, restoring the place and paying $1,000 a week for the privilege.
It's a land of blue skies and endless space, with few fences, rules or comforts. But for those looking for adventure, Mongolia may well be the last great place. 
After decades of decline a small post-Soviet boom is sweeping the steppes, thanks to a commitment to democracy, and help from Uncle Sam, proof that assistance can pay better dividends than intervention. 
One of the world's oldest and greatest empires was also sporting.  Genghis Kahn instituted the nomadic Olympics - or Three Manly Sports of Naadam.
  And take a look at how the country, and it's most Manly Sports are faring, at Naadam 2003.
After seven decades of suffocating Soviet rule, Mongolians are free to roam the steppes and revert gleefully to beloved spiritual teachings of Buddhism.
 
With independence has come greater openness, and a chance for westerners travelers to freely  tour this magic land.
  There is good news for horses, too, which outnumber people in this wild land. The world's first horse pictured on pre-historic cave walls and nearly extinct, is back home on the Mongolian range.
But these wily nomads are having a bit more trouble grasping the nuances of such things as the Stock Exchange, or even the very basics of business.

NEPAL:
  Where terror takes a bite out of tourism. Overrun by Maoists, the king grabs power as this
country lurches towards total collapse.

NORTH KOREA:
 
Armed with pictures of his fake family and new passport, a reporter crashes the world's weirdest film festival. . Sadly, the cast is composed of real people cheated by the fraudulent People's Paradise of North Korea.
 Is North Korea ready to fall or rolling in the nuclear revenues? We slip on the sly inside the People's Paradise.
 Is there a weirder reality show, than North Korea? And it couldn't be nuttier than at the  Pyongyang International Film Festival.
 Internet? Not. North Korea has it's own
Information Lie-Way. We look at the intranet, a closed system that maintains the deceit of the Propaganda Paradise.
 
Forget skin, schmoozing or sales at the Pyongyang International Film; an exclusive peek inside People's Paradise at all the pictures on screen.
 
 Normal life? Nobody has a clue if that exists in North Korea, but the best inside look yet comes from Michael Harrold, an Englishman who spent seven years inside the reclusive Hermit Kingdom.
 
 Farenheit 9/11 may not play North Korea, but Hollywood pictures will, for the first time at the remarkable Pyongyang International Film Festival
 
 There are 90,000 ways to love a "great" leader, and all, from the triumphant to tacky, mainly the latter, are showcased at North Korea's pitiful International Friendship Exhibition Hall. 
   
The land of lies wasn't always such a world-class loser. The little-known 1966 team pulled off one of the great football upsets and now a new film reveals the greatest story never told.
The title for the world's weirdest country is no contest. The Hermit Kingdom wins the crown hands-down. Why? Start with a train trip through North Korea.
  They risk death by fleeing closed-off North Korea, but escapees find life doesn't stack up the way they expected down south in the other side of Paradise.
  The Cold War may be over, but the news hasn't penetrated the DMZ,
  Knock twice before entering Pyongyong's secret disco.

Or visit Kim Jong-Il's own personal fantasy-land of cinematic excess back when he was still climbing the ladder to Dear Leaderhood.

THE PHILIPPINES:
 The first Asian country to abolish the death penalty in 1987, become one of the world's only nations to reinstate executions less than a decade later. Now, 1,100 men and women languish upon Death Row, some for petty crimes like growing a few pot plants. Allegations of torture are commonplace and the devoutly Catholic country remains in an uproar over the handful of executions held in 1999. Two exclusive reports, a lengthy inside story on Death Row and another from MSNBC on Manila's death penalty dilemma.
  There's a Fort Knox of Genes in Los Banos, near Manila. The vaults hold the wealth of future food supplies as scientists have staved off the worldwide starvation predicted by doomsayers decades ago. A visit to the International Rice Research Institute.
  Muslim revolutionary Nur Misuari has made the amazing transformation from guerilla chieftain to governor, but the poor people on the war-racked southern island of Mindanao are still waiting for the peace dividend. After decades of fighting, all they see is the Revolutionary Ordering Room Service.
  Kevin Costner squandered hundreds of millions of dollars building a fantasy world covered by water. In the wild, pirate-infested seas between Borneo and the Philippines, Sea Gypsies live their entire lives in a genuine Waterworld.
 
Inside a crater is a lake; in it, an island, topped by another mountain, with a crater, containing yet another lake. And yet another island. Here stands Taal, one of the world's smallest, but deadliest volcanoes. Join an expedition Into the Volcano.

PORTUGAL:
 After tracing Portuguese influences for decades across Asia, Africa and Latin America, a travel writer finally gets a taste of the real thing - and falls in love with Lisbon.
  For centuries, Portugal pioneered a path across Asia, exposing Europe to the wonders of the East. Now, the legacy is celebrated as Europe's top new Asian art museum opens in Lisbon.

QATAR:
 
A sleepy stretch of sand visited mainly by camels over the centuries, Qatar is in the midst of a massive spending spree - like much of the Gulf region. But unlike its flashy neighbor of Dubai, Qatar has much more modest targets for its seemingly endless gas dollars
.

SINGAPORE:
 The action around Asia, these days, increasingly centers on kitchens, where the first generation of celebrity chefs are turn heads; a tasty new trend.

SOUTH KOREA:
  Cheju,
the scenic southern island is a resort of renown, but nowhere is it more popular than among newlyweds who have turned it into an Island of Love.
There are no guarantees when it comes to love. That's why more and more Koreans are returning to the past, to matchmakers who provide a suitable catch.
 They risk death by fleeing closed-off North Korea, but escapees find life doesn't stack up the way they expected down south in the other side of Paradise.

SRI LANKA:
 Like an Elephant Woodstock, it attracts hundreds of the world's largest land animals every year. They trundle to a park to feed, frolic, fight and mate in full view of joyous spectators at "The Gathering."
 
In a tiny corner of South Asia, crusty science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke continues to tap out his vision of the future, scripting his own "Final Odyssey."
  President Chandrika Kumaratunga came to power promising to end the long war and civil unrest. She's repaired the economy and driven back the Tamil Tigers, but will she be able to bring paradise back to old Ceylon?
  Could this be the birthplace for a new dawn of safe energy production? A pair of Sri Lankans hope to make deserts bloom with an innovative Solar Chimney.
  Decades of civil war have taken a terrible toll on tourism.
  Meanwhile, the war has devastated the northern province, where Tamil Tigers operated freely and reporters were refused entry. A peak at the war-torn province on the first unescorted visit by a journalist since the government stormed the rebel stronghold.

TAHITI:
Dreamy blue seas, gentle breezes, hula skirts, sexy smiles and aimless mirth, but the French brought trouble to paradise when they resumed nuclear testing in the South Pacific. An in-depth look at the turmoil in Trouble in Paradise.
Or take a satirical look at the protests and hoopla in No Boom Boom here please.
Or, simply tour the scenic wonders of stunning islands that have captivated everyone from
Gauguin and Michener to Keith Moon in South Pacific Paradise

TAIWAN:
 
Beijing bashes her, the president disowns her, and the people may jeer her, but Taiwanese Vice President Annette Lu has already proven she has more mettle than most men in politics. Feminist, lawyer, novelist, political prisoner - Lu has done it all. Now she is standing up to Beijing as the unsinkable Annette Lu.
 
Every year about election time, talk in the Taiwan Straits turns to tanks and invasion schemes. Even on the other side of the Pacific, an exhibit of paintings got caught up in posturing of the Art of War.

THAILAND:
 new3.gif (284 bytes) Two decades after Leonardo diCaprio took the world on a junket looking for the island utopia, we return to the setting for much of the novel and film. Despite all the tourists and development, Phuket and the surroundings still offering plenty of reminders of why this was chosen for the ultimate beach paradise.
 new3.gif (284 bytes)  One of Thailand's most famous families bets the bank on a lavish new Bangkok riverside getaway. Already topping all the luxury hotel hotlists, Forbes looks at the gigantic financial gambler, and how its revived the Sukosol Family legacy.
new3.gif (284 bytes) Sak Yant, a graphically-stark tattoo style unique to a swatch of Southeast Asia (and beloved by stars like Angelina Jolie), is said by devotees to grant special spiritual powers. Filled with mysticism and ritual, the art form is explained in two excellent new books.
   THAI RIDING HIGH - Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva came to power in troubled times for Thailand. Yet he thinks he can win in elections he plans to call this summer. He talks to Ron Gluckman about censorship, Thaksin, Red Shirts, nuclear power and rock 'n' roll in an exclusive interview.
 Just 20 minutes from central Bangkok, is Bang Kra Jao, one of the world's largest urban retreats. Western cities boast big central parks but none can claim such a large urban oasis, Bangkok's Great Green Lung.
  Asia's youngest self-made millionaire has matured as he built an empire that spans retail, resorts and restaurants. Bill Heinecke has taken hits, but this upbeat entrepreneur just keeps finding new opportunities for expansion.
  Every year, in the North of Thailand, and in Nepal and Sri Lanka, elephant polo puts riders atop massive mammals, wielding mallets, and wowing crowds. It's painfully slow, and undeniably silly, but it raises awareness and money for Asia's embattled elephants.
 Samui and Phuket get all the attention, and most of the tourists, leaving Ko Lanta, Thailand's third largest island in a sleepy, serene state.   But, with the country' s largest Muslim population, vast rubber plantations and stunning beaches, Lanta's idyllic secret is slipping out.
 Most of the world's biggest shopping malls are under construction in Asia, but Bangkok offers a different style of minimalist mall that could redefine shopping across Asia.
 
Asia is buzzing with a nuclear glow, as many Southeast Asia nations look to nuke as the answer for energy security amidst concerns over global warming. Thailand is leading the way in the new nuclear charge.
 Formerly an AIDS hotspot, Thailand turned a corner with unprecedented campaigns of safe sex. Much of the success is due to Mechai Viravaidya, Thailand's Mr Condom.
 
From riverfront restaurants to the hottest hotels and nightclubs, Bangkok has a special buzz, and we've captured it all for Dwell Magazine in this special guide to the best of the city.
 
Once blighted by belching buses and thick smog, Bangkok cleaned up its act and air over recent decades. Cutting motorcycle emissions and adding an overhead subway helped Bangkok grow greener, and a model for the rest of Asia.
 
When Asian resorts seek plush landscaping, Bill Bensely is the go-to guy. In demand from Bali to Bangkok, this Harvard-educated architect has gradually gravitated from the grounds to inside, now designing everything from resorts to palaces for royalty.

 
As health care costs continue to soar in the West, patients are flooding Asia,  where they combine sun, sand and surgery in booming health tourism.
Formerly a penal colony, then home for pirates, Thailand's most remote island was also host to the TV series "Survivor." Now, it offers the ultimate escape...  Prison Island.
Asia's answer to John Grisham, lawyer-turned-author John Burdett raised the bar for Asian novels with "Bangkok 8." Now, he's back with a sequel, "Bangkok Tattoo."
Sleepy Hua Hin, just a few hours down the coast from Bangkok, is the new sensation on the Asian spa circuit, with a slew of retreats attracting the stars. Check out the buzz about this sumptuous spa retreat.
 The next beach thing? The big surprise is this year's discovery might not be the next Ko Samui-wannabe but a real throwback, Hua Hin, a Thai beach classic.
 Ko Sam Rot boasts incredible bird watching and miles of unmarked beach. Best of all, it's close to Bangkok, but remains one of Thailand's best-kept secrets.
  Phetchaburi has fabulous temples, but the real treat is a kitschy hillside park that once was the swingiest spot in Southeast Asia.
 Even a royal beach occasionally needs a facelift. That's the indulgent idea behind Hua Hin's newest luxury hotels.
Leonardo diCaprio is in Thailand filming "The Beach," with the team that made "Trainspotting." It was all serene on Phi Phi Leh Island until they unleashed a storm of controversy and fan worship. You can read about in Postcards from The Beach, meet producer Andrew MacDonald,   or Alex Garland, hip young author of The Beach.
Where have all the opium poppies gone in the infamous Golden Triangle?  Easy, silk-screened on T-shirts for tourists, every last one.
Skirting the Thai-Burma border, the Karen rebels get all the attention, but the Padong people have a habit of stretching out their Long Necks.
Pattaya was picturesque, but the Grand Madame of Asian beach resorts became a run-down smutpit until rescue came from rich Russian tourists.
Floating the Chao Praya River into Bangkok, like scores of scribes over the years. Now, tourists can do it in spectacular style aboard a luxuriously outfitted rice boat.

TIBET:
 The railway brings new opportunity to the Rooftop of the World. As more and more Chinese move to Tibet, many worry that their influence is pushing progress too fast, and that the magic that attracted them to Tibet will be trampled by tourism.
 The world's highest-altitude train has brought an influx of tourists to Shangri-la, along with controversy over the influx of Chinese workers and impact on Tibetan culture. But the tracks run two ways. Not only Tibetans, but Chinese, too, are grappling with new ways of tracking Tibet.
  Nobody believed it possible, but Beijing spent billions to create the world's highest altitude railway, which began breathtaking runs to the Rooftop of the World in July. Chinese cheered, but Tibetans worry it's just a Golden Spike in the coffin for their Shangri-la.
Art dealers, smugglers and Chinese thugs are ripping off the Rooftop of the World. An exclusive report on the theft of Tibet's artistic heritage.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been a shining light for the world as he lives in exile high in the Himalayas, but he hasn't given up home of returning to the Tibetan homeland he fled nearly 30 years ago. An intimate portrait.
And you can read a nearly complete transcript, of my three weeks following around the Dalai Lama, while he gives his annual teaches and visits with Richard Gere.
It's not easy brewing the world's highest altitude beer. At Lhasa Brewery, the Chinese bosses have had nothing but problems struggling to turn out beer on the Rooftop of the World.

USA:
 America's war on terror ranges far and wide. Hence, I found myself on the frontlines during a chance encounter along the Afghan border when I either ither bumped into the latest Al Qaeda cell, or an odd group of Holy Warrior wanna-bes; for Newsweek, my meeting with the Portland Six.
  United States - Is there a spy in the nuclear kitchen, or did American intelligence set up scientist in a racist witch-hunt? The exclusive story from Los Alamos in Nuke Spook.
Ghosts from the past haunt an unusual town in California where the look is Wild West, but all the original residents were Chinese. Have a look at Locke.
Way out in the Wild West, there's a place where deer and buffalo still roam free. This Treasured Island remains one of America's best-kept holiday secrets. And it's only an hour away from Los Angeles. Take a trip back in time to Catalina Island.

VIETNAM:
 The buzz about kitesurfing is the powerful force of the wind. No better winds blow than across the pristine beaches, nestled amongst spectacular sand dunes, than in Vietnam's Mui Ne.
 Once the most freewheeling city in Asia, a few decades after the war, former Saigon is roaring again. With scores of chic clubs, swank new hotels, a vibrant arts scene and killer cuisine, Ho Chi Minh is hip.
 With spectacular sand dunes, the area around Mui Ne has been dubbed the Sahara of Southeast Asia. Aside from dune lovers, only seekers of idyllic seashore came for years. Then, winds blew Mui Ne's reputation around the globe, and kite-surfers soared to these perfect coves. Now,  Vietnam's hip hideaway is secret no more.

 Propaganda posters were produced by the thousands during the Vietnam War. Now, revolutionary art is celebrated in "Dogma, Morale from the Ministry."
 Vietnam's communist control has kept films patriotic but uncompetitive with Hollywood. Now, with an all-star cast of Vietnamese stars, a new film, "Saigon Eclipse," aims to spark a cinema revolution.
  Jesus, Jeanne d'Arc and Thomas Jefferson are venerated, alongside Victor Hugo, Julius Cesar, Shakespeare and Winston Churchill. Add in psychedelic colors and you have Caodai's Congregation of Kitsch.
 
Boasting the best coffee in the region, and plenty of scenic lakeside cafes for sipping cappuccino and munching spring roles, the formerly stuffy Hanoi is loosening up and becoming renowned as Asia's most charming capital city.
  Discover why backpackers flock to Hoi An, a beautiful coastal town they think is their own secret hideaway. Hardly. For centuries seafarers and traders stopped in this ancient port of plenty.
 
In the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the end of the war, Ron Gluckman made several trips back to Vietnam. Here's his cover story for Time's Asiaweek, Vietnam Revisited
  
See how American businessmen are faring with old adversaries in Trading with the Old Enemy.
Amidst all the tragic tales, one happy ending for some orphaned by the war in Mother and Child Reunion.
   Hanoi's magical opera house returns to life with a libretto on the 45th anniversary of the liberation of Asia's most charming capital city, in Orpheus et Hanoi.
China Beach
was rest stop for GIs during the Vietnam War, and a hit TV show in the 1980s. But now China Beach is being rediscovered as a great beach, one of the best in Asia.
DMZ, Vietnam - t
he war goes on and on, at least that's the feeling one gets while touring the old tunnels and battlefields, with touts selling dog tags, bullets and other military memorabilia. A war-torn nation finds tragedy can be profitable, especially War Tourism.

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