Escapade in the Far East

Prestige issue 290, June 2018

 

Travel by Wissam and Maya Maalouf

 

A fascinating universe to discover

Prestige has accompanied Wissam and Maya Maalouf in a long journey to the far reaches of Asia, where time stops to marvel and learn. A far-East moving, creating and touching. A world where borders and oceans are one, a world that combines tradition and modernism, juggling with art and culture and fascinating to dazzle. Let’s dig into the memories of Japanese history, go to meet China and its traditions, to meet nature, beauty and architecture. Let’s continue our stay until reaching the limits of the fantastic. Travel out of time.

 

Ozakajo Castle, Osaka, repeatedly struck by lightning or burned over the centuries, was completely restored in 1997. Former residence of the shogun, or governor of Osaka, it houses in its museum a collection of armor from the feudal era and an attractive garden especially during the cherry blossom. © Archives Wissam Maalouf

 

Kyoto, legendary city of geishas

Former capital of Japan, Kyoto remains the traditional city par excellence. It is the eternal city of geishas, ​​museums presenting all the cultural aspects of ancient Japan. It is also the city of flowering gardens, palaces and grand villas nestled in beautiful green parks. Pilgrims flock from everywhere to visit its temples, of Shinto cults or Buddha, decorated by the greatest Japanese artists. Kyoto, of all the cities of the Japanese country, remains the most faithful to its traditions.

 

In Kyoto, tourists can rent a Kimono for one or two days. © Archives Wissam Maalouf.

 

 

Tokyo, magical capital of the

Country of the rising sun

Capital of Japan since 1868, Tokyo is a huge administrative, commercial and cultural center. Tourists are attracted by its museums including the rich National Museum, its landscapes, its Olympic center, its castles of the XVth century, and especially by its competitions of Sumo, a fight related to Shinto worship that ignites thousands of spectators on the seats of the arenas.

 

Downtown Tokyo, Shinjuku. © Archives Wissam Maalouf

 

Sumo Tournament. © Archives Wissam Maalouf

 

 

Osaka the respectful of values

With its 19 million inhabitants, Osaka stretches majestically on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is the second economic pole of Japan. Industrial and touristic center, Osaka is known for its many museums. The inhabitants surprise by their culture, their politeness, respect, but especially by their discipline. The restaurants, to simplify the customer’s choice of menu, present the dishes and have the ingredients, in their smallest details, in plates, all recreated in plastic. A craft work by a single company in Japan, which delivers to the majority of restaurants in the country these small masterpieces.

 

Prototype of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. © Archives Wissam Maalouf

 

 

Macao, the temple of casinos

Small town on the coast of the China Sea, former Portuguese territory, Macao, an hour drive west of Hong Kong is, self managed. Did you know that visitors coming from another city need a visa to get there? Cotai Strip, a chic neighborhood that occupies a large area of ​​the city, is reserved exclusively for casinos. Indeed, on its 34km2, Macao houses 34 casinos! The hotel Le Parisien with its Eiffel Tower or the Venitian Hotel with its gondolas – it’s like in Venice – and other hotels … often show «complete», and the players arriving from all over the world, invade the games rooms. Here too, the legacy of the past draws by the surprising contrast of Macau architecture. The concrete of Portuguese buildings and modern buildings cohabit peacefully in an enchanting setting. Guaranteed relaxation at Senado Square, a pleasant place whose paving stones, brought from Portugal, have kept their luster for 400 years. We noticed that signs are always written in Chinese and Portuguese. This is where festivals, fairs and lots of cultural and social activities take place.

 

Ruins of St. Paul’s Church in Macau, built by the Portuguese. © Archives Wissam Maalouf

 

 

Macau. Hotel Le Parisien Cotai Strip. © Archives Wissam Maalouf

 

 

Hongkong the Chinese

With a British soul

 

Victoria Peak in Hong Kong where skyscrapers rise. Fog often covers beautiful landscapes. © Archives Wissam Maalouf

 

 

Charming walk in this island that constantly crawls like a hive. The visitor is quickly dazzled by this mega city that never sleeps. Hong Kong, with its 6 million inhabitants, was surrendered to China by Britain in 1997 after a century and a half of English rule. In its noisy and colorful streets, one crosses all the nationalities, all the ethnic groups, come to discover the mystery of the magnetism of Hong Kong which captivates so many tourists. In fact, this booming city, stimulated by the financial center which it prides itself, is also endowed with an enormously varied industry between toys, watchmaking, electronics, clothing … exported to the four corners of the globe. The Avenue of Stars, leaning against Victoria Peak, a hill with lush vegetation in the center of which spring up skyscrapers and towers of the most modern, remains the favorite place of vacationers, where they cross a concentrate of the entire planet. Hong Kong, though once again a Chinese territory, enjoys special autonomy. The British heritage has left its mark everywhere. The buildings with colonial architecture are harmonious with modernity imported from the West. The tourist doesn’t feel a stranger in Hong Kong, the hospitality of the people, the diversity of restaurants, cinemas, places of leisure, call the travelers to return there.