DestinAsian | Chiva Som

ISSUE: Winter 2011-12

DEPT: Entertaining

STORY: Elyse Glickman

The historic resort town of Hua Hin, Thailand (incorporated in the 1920s by King Rama VII), has authenticity in its favor, with local culture and natural beauty winning out over Phuket’s five-star flash and dash. Chiva Som, one of Southeast Asia’s most innovative wellness resorts, lies at the heart of this gorgeously unpretentious oasis, just a three-hour drive from Bangkok. Though it seems a little quiet at first, Chiva Som’s lush, fragrant compound opens like a lotus into a multi-dimensional, calming experience.

Chiva Som’s primary mission is to send guests home with a most lasting souvenir — better health habits, attained in most pleasurable ways. For this reason, personalization takes priority over pretension. Shortly after your first glass of crisp lemongrass iced tea made on-premise, a spa counselor will promptly set your personal wellness plan into motion, even steering you away from treatments you would pick if left to your own devices. Though a body scrub or facial may be tempting, the counselor may insist Reiki, Thai massage or their patented digestion- focused massage are more appropriate for your long-term well-being.

Fitness classes (everything from Thai boxing to Shaolin Wushu to golf), modifiable to every fitness level, are made more enticing with lush jungle greenery and laid-back fitness instructors. Chiva Som’s cuisine is delicious and informatively presented, with calories and specific nutritional benefits outlined in detail. Cooking classes incorporating a trip to Hua Hin’s food markets with Chiva Som’s chef are also available for an extra charge.

Though Chiva Som encourages guests to stay on property as much as possible, they do offer shuttles to Hua Hin’s bustling night market. An upscale alternative is the delightful Cicada Market (cicadamarket.net), staged only on weekends, featuring live jazz performances as well as handcrafted jewelry, clothing, textiles and objets d’art sold by their creators in a tidy maze of open air boutiques. Details ChivaSom.com.

 

Spring ’12 Feature | Hannah Simone

Who’s That Girl? Why, it’s Hannah Simone, our New Girl-crush! She’s not only model-gorgeous, super smart and disgustingly accomplished, she’s pretty darn funny too.

ISSUE: Spring 2012

DEPT: Cover Feature

Photographer: Diana King

Wardrobe: Caley Lawson

Makeup: Marina Gravani

Hair: Paul Norton

Photo Assistant: Kevin Kozicki

Stylist Assistant: Amy Margolin

Story: Janice Jann
As the perennial new girl, Hannah Simone has a couple of tricks to get people to warm up to her quickly. The first is a hug, which she warmly doled out right as she arrived to our photo shoot bright and early one Friday morning. It was a solid hug, one that gave off the impression that this girl is comfortable with people. Another is her wit. “My family moved countries every three or four years,” Simone remembers, “so I had to find the fastest way to make friends. And there’s no better way in middle school and high school to endear people to you than to make them laugh.” Hence, the 31-year-old of Indian (on her dad’s side) and German-Italian- Greek-Cypriot (on her mother’s side) descent was a regular member of local theater clubs in all the different countries she lived in, from London to Saudi Arabia, India to Greece.

Simone’s theater skills helped her land her current role as the scene- stealing BFF to Zooey Deschanel’s Jess in the FOX freshman hit comedy, New Girl. However, the journey that led Simone there was a long and winding one. “Everybody asks me how I got into the industry and I literally fell backwards into it,” Simone says with a throaty laugh. “I don’t really understand it.”

Because of her nomadic upbringing, Simone was exposed to different worlds at an early age — especially worlds in turmoil. “I grew up in Saudi Arabia and a war broke out when I was really young,” she remembers. “That really forces you from that point on to see the greater picture of what’s happening.” At age 11, Simone’s family uprooted to Cypress, Greece, a country still healing from the aftermath of war; it was then that the inquisitive child educated herself on the political conflict that split the country in half. When the 16-year-old Simone got to India, the AIDS epidemic was in full swing. “People in India don’t talk about the harsher realities,” says Simone, so she decided to take it upon herself to educate her community. She organized a big AIDS benefit concert complete with poetry competitions and art displays. “That was the best way I knew to communicate what I cared about to everybody else,” Simone explains. “I got all my hippy friends together who sang and danced and we raised enough money to build a safe house in the mountains for women and children who had been ostracized because of the AIDS virus.”

Simone’s passion for human rights led to a bachelor’s degree in international relations and political science at the University of British Columbia. Upon graduation, Simone conducted research for a book on women’s and children’s rights under Lloyd Axworthy, a former Canadian foreign affairs minister, and then served as a human rights and refugee officer with the United Nations in London. Through it all, Simone kept doing theater on the side for her personal enjoyment.

“My family’s said to me from the beginning, ‘People are always going to tell you to pick what you want to be when you grow up,’” says Simone. “‘You take that and throw it out the window, that’s garbage. People are complicated and we love many things and we’re passionate about many things. You can be a human rights ac- tivist and also be doing these comedy plays in your community and that’s OK. All those things are a part of who you are and you can love them equally.’ So I was happy doing that.”

Simone eventually went back to school at Ryerson University for another degree in radio and television arts. While there, she decided to take on an agent in the hopes of landing better theater roles. On her first audition, Simone landed a HGTV hosting gig that afforded her the chance to travel all over the world. After two seasons on the show, Canada’s music and pop culture channel MuchMusic contacted her about becoming their social news VJ, interviewing pop icons and world leaders, and doing specials on HIV/AIDS, bullying and climate change. The offer put Simone in a difficult position. “So I have two degrees and I had been really focused on working on human and in- ternational rights,” Simone recalls. “But all of a sudden there was this opportunity to be on this platform where I would have an empowered voice to talk about these compelling issues that I cared so much about, to what I consider the most important demographic — young people, the ones who are going to change the world for the next genera- tion.” Simone accepted the job because “I trust myself with that role. I don’t know if I trust everybody who goes into the world of hosting, who gets to speak about it. I don’t know if they really care and understand the responsibility you have with your voice.”

Her hosting gigs eventually took her to Los Angeles, and Simone’s agency asked her if she’d be interested to try her hand at acting during a pilot season that happened to need a lot of Indian actors. Though Simone was considered for the pilots Outsourced and Nevermind Nirvana that year, she didn’t get cast until early last year when she read for the part of Cece Meyers, the smart, stunning model best friend to Zooey Deschanel’s kooky Jess Day in New Girl. “I’m so shocked I got into the world of professional acting,” says Simone. “The fact that somebody would give me a dollar to act is amazing.”

For Simone, the world of comedy is a familiar one, despite her more serious former professions. “I think it’s something that other people struggle with — women who are educated also being funny,” says Simone. “They don’t assume that’s the way you want to go. They assume you want to go the drama route ‘cause you worked with the UN. That’s just not the case at all. Sometimes when you work around really se- rious issues, being able to laugh is your creative relief and outlet.”

There are other perks to the job besides laughter. “Because my family moved so much, I’ve never been precious about things, but I get very attached to experiences,” she explains. One experience that Simone won’t be able to forget is bringing her father as her date to the Golden Globes. “People asked me what the best part of the night was and it was looking over and watch- ing my dad’s face,” she says. “I just can’t believe my job gave me that moment to share with him.”

Looking back at where life has taken her, Simone shakes her head in disbelief. “If you look at my résumé, it looks like a total mess, but to me it all makes sense,” she laughs. “Never in a day in my life have I done something that I didn’t feel inspired or challenged by. I really connected to the message that I want for young women, which is, don’t be afraid to be smart and beautiful and sexy and own it.”

As for where she’ll go from here — movies, commercials, endorsement deals? — she’s excited but keeping it all in perspective. “I’ve been in this indus- try for a long time in many different ways,” she says. “I know sometimes there are big chapters and sometimes there are just pages, and you just have to live it in a way that is in the present and appreciate it and understand that you can’t take anything for granted.”

Even if her life were to change — once again — in the blink of an eye, Simone says she can handle it. “Moving country to country, you could see it as something that was so hard, but I was never made to feel that way,” she says. “My family was always able to see the positive power of change.”

Let’s just hope that, this time, change doesn’t come too soon.

–Janice Jann

Buy the Spring ’12 issue here!

Extremely Racist Responses to Olympus Has Fallen


Its no secret that we still face racism today. Every time I start to believe that I live in my ideal/equal world, acts like this bring me back to the reality that we still have a long way to go. From men making videos discussing why they hate Asians to teenagers making instagrams titled  Asiansareugly, racism continues to use social media for its brutality.

Recently, tons of  Twitter users have spoken against the Asian community after watching the film Olympus Has Fallen. Now I understand anger towards an antagonist of a film, but this is no excuse for attacking an entire community. Why on earth are you going to perpetuate hate for all Asians just because you see a film where the villains happen to be Asian? If you see an antagonist that is Caucasian,  do all Caucasians suddenly deserve your hatred as well?

We’ve witnessed this too many times in real life to simply take this as a joke. You may say we’re overreacting and being sensitive, but trust me- if you were told that someone wants to physically harm and/or kill you simply because of the way you looked, you’d be angry too.

Click on to see more of the racist comments.
DISCLAIMER: The following twitter comments and images contain profanity/vulgar language.
(SOURCE

Continue reading

Beauty Kit | Mind & Body: HPV- Did You Know…

ISSUE: Summer 2012
DEPT: Beauty Kit

  • The lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer for Asian women is more than double the lifetime risk in non-Hispanic white women?
  • Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV?
  • At least 80 percent of sexually active females will acquire genital HPV by the age 50?
    The human papillomavirus, or HPV, usually causes no symptoms, so a person can have the virus for many years before it is found or causes health problems. That means a man or woman can pass on HPV without realizing it. So what can you do? There are two ways women can screen for HPV and cervical cancer, which is the easiest female cancer to prevent:
  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) helps find pre-cancers, or cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test checks for the virus (there are 40 different types) that can cause these cell changes on the cervix. It may be used to screen for cervical cancer, along with the Pap test, in women 30 and older.

The bad news is there is no HPV test for men, and the virus is spread by sexual skin- to-skin contact — it does not require penetration or an exchange of bodily fluids, like some STDs. So while a condom reduces the risk significantly, it does not eliminate it. The only sure way to prevent it is not to have sexual contact or get vaccinated by your mid-20s.

 

Cutest Famous Asian Babies

Call it the spring mating season. Call it my biological clock ticking. But recently I’ve been seeing babies everywhere. And even though I’m totally biased and it’s probably totally not cool to say, you gotta admit that Asian babies are the cutest babies. Ever. It’s just a fact. Even Hollywood seems to think so. Here’s a look at some of the cutest famous Asian babies. (I’m not ranking them ’cause that would be really not cool.)

Brangelina Babies | Maddox Jolie-Pitt

The Brangelina clan has tons of cute babies, from Shiloh to Zahara to Pax. But the one nearest and dearest to my heart will always be the first-adopted: Cambodian American Maddox Jolie-Pitt.

Continue reading

Summer Issue Extra: Ko Olina Resort

A practically deserted Lagoon 2, one of four at Ko Olina Resort.

It’s no secret I love traveling. But I have to admit, sometimes rather than traveling, you just want a vacation — you know, the kind involving lots of lounging around, colorful sunset-hued drinks, a tropical melody wafting in the background interrupted only by the rhythmic lapping of waves on creamy golden sand …

Such is the Ko Olina Resort & Marina in Oahu, Hawaii. (We highlighted the resort in our Summer issue, available now.)

Now, I know what you may be thinking. Oahu? We’ve done Oahu! Besides, Waikiki is too touristy.

Ah, but you’ve never done Oahu Ko Olina-style. That’s because Ko Olina is located on the leeward, or west, side of the island, the complete opposite side of Waikiki. And not only is Ko Olina about an hour away from Waikiki, it feels like a world away when you’re there.

Lagoon 2, arguably the most beautiful of the Ko Olina Lagoons.

Now if you’re worried that you’ll be far away from the food, drink and fun at Waikiki — don’t. Ko Olina is 642 acres of varied attractions and amenities (the same size as Waikiki, but with one-third the density). On one end you have the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa. Rooms are extra big here and my room had two lanais. Saltwater pools span the property, complete with a resident stingray and a few baby hammerhead sharks. (They release the sharks into the ocean once they’re full grown.)

The Ihilani is also known for their award-winning Ihilani Spa. Try the Deluxe Thalasso Therapy, which incorporates light, color, water jets and Hawaiian seawater for a particularly luxurious experience, or the traditional Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage.

The serene architecture of the JW Marriott Ihilani provides a stunning contrast to the surrounding natural beauty, and its angular layout allows expansive ocean views from 85% of the rooms. (This photo was taken from one of the two huge lanais in my room.)

Lagoon 1, one of four at Ko Olina Resort. This lagoon fronts the JW Ihilani. In the distance, on Lagoon 2, you see the Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort.

The Ko Olina Marina, first built in 2000, is a world-class facility complete with state-of-the-art Bellingham floating docks.

At the other end, Hawaii’s only luxury marina. (They’re shooting the newest installment of the Pirates of the Carribbean movies nearby and you can see the Black Pearl pirate ship they built for the film.) Housing 344 wet slips with watercraft ranging from 30-footers to 240-foot luxury yachts, the Ko Olina Marina accommodates an international clientele from British to Japanese to mainland American. Sign up for all manner of water sports at the Marina Shop — everything from helicopter tours to deep sea fishing to swimming with dolphins.

And esconced in between is the luxurious Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort, complete with Roy Yamaguchi-designed gourmet kitchens and special touches like the floating lily pad lounge chaises in the pool. With two to three bedrooms going for half a mill and up, you can expect a lot of amenities like pocketed sliding glass doors that open fully to the lanai and lei-making classes with a former Miss Hawaii. (You can also rent out villas; rack rates start at $695/night.)

If your taste runs a little more family-friendly, there’s always the tropical water park-like Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club timeshares, with a relatively hopping bar area, a pitch black water tube slide, and plenty of kids running around. And coming in 2011 is Aulani, Disney’s first resort outside of its theme parks.

Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort.

Lily pad chaises blend in beautifully with the elegance of Ko Olina Beach Villas.

Of course, there are plenty of restaurants, from the island’s only other Roy’s at the 18-hole championship Ko Olina Golf Club to the Ihilani’s culinary adventure that is Azul to the more casual live-music venue Kolohe’s at the Marriott Beach Club. There’s even the Ko Olina Station with Mexican fast food, ice cream and other retail outlets And don’t worry about getting around. All the lagoons and different properties are connected via a very pleasant oceanfront path, so getting from hotel to lagoon to restaurant is not a problem. If you have to get to places more inland, like the Golf Club or the Station, just hop on the old-fashioned red trolley that circles the resort. It comes around every half hour.

A leisurely walk on the oceanside path takes you to all the lagoons and beachfront restaurants at Ko Olina.

You're spoiled for choice. One of the gorgeous four lagoons at Ko Olina.

A limestone kiln dating back to the 1800s was found on the property. Today this special space is used for private parties and events.

The Ko Olina wedding chapel, one of the sites as you stroll the oceanside path.

If you get tired on your oceanside stroll, no worries. Just take a quick dip in the pristine lagoon.

But by far my favorite part of Ko Olina is the natural lagoon nestled against Lanikuhonua, the private estate of the Campbell Estate Family Trust (James Campbell settled in Hawaii in the 1800s). The lagoon served as the original inspiration for the four other man-made lagoons of Ko Olina. Indeed, it’s what people think Old Hawaii would look like, says Mike Nelson, executive vice president of the resort.

Hidden treasure: The tide pools tucked away behind the JW Ihilani at Ko Olina.

And it is heavenly. Go early in the day, when the tide is low and the waves less boisterous. Hop from boulder to boulder, scouring the glass-like tide pools along the way for curious black jumping crabs or yellow and black striped fish. Take in the stunning view of the Waianae mountain range. Relax in the shade on one of the flatter boulders, the soothing melody of traditional Hawaiian songs drifting from Lanikuhonua (Auntie Nettie teaches folk music there to locals on occasion), the thunder of crashing waves safely set back 100 feet or so by the intimidating boulder wall. Most likely, you’ll be the only human being on the rocks.

Explore the tide pools for exotic fish and sealife. You'll likely be alone in your adventure.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to get a glimpse of the private grounds of Lanikuhonua. Auntie Nettie is the official caretaker of the land and is a “kahu,” or spiritual advisor, a title she inherited from her mother, the original kahu. (She goes to every groundbreaking at Ko Olina, including the most recent one for the Aulani, the first Disney resort outside of its theme parks.) Lost shot many a scene on the sacred property, which is dedicated to preserving, displaying and promoting the cultural traditions of Hawaii. Legends and history abound on the grounds, as evidenced by the smattering of sacred boulders and rocks carried in from other parts of the island.

The original unspoiled lagoon of Lanikuhonua, after which Ko Olina's four lagoons were modeled.

Sacred rocks and sculptures on the grounds of Lanikuhonua.

The sacred Hina rock, believed to be the goddess of the moon.

Chase the sun on a catamaran.

One thing you have to do before you leave is take advantage of Ko Olina’s location on the leeward side of the island. Unlike Waikiki, this side of the island gets one helluva sunset every evening.

You can enjoy it from your hotel lanai, but the best way to enjoy it is via catamaran (sign up at the Marina Shop.) Enjoy appetizers and an all-you-can-drink bar (their specialty is the Cata-tonic), and then kick back on deck as you sail to what seems like the end of the earth, chasing the sun as it lazes lower and lower, leaving an ever-changing kaleidoscope of light and color in the clear backdrop of sky.

Oceanview sunsets are a rare treat on Oahu. This one is seen from the lanai in my hotel room at the Ihilani. In a word, breathtaking.

Photos by Anna M. Park.

Where In the World Is Mayleen Ramey?

Mayleen Ramey at the One & Only Resort, Bahamas.

Here she is!

Ask Audrey contributor, relationship expert and all-around amazing Audrey It-Girl Mayleen Ramey has been bopping around the world for her new gig on the Tennis Channel. Talk about a dream job!

Mayleen’s been with Audrey practically from the beginning, but she’s been a bit busier than usual of late. The Chinese-French American not only hosts and produces Destination Tennis, a travel show on Tennis Channel, she is also an entertainment correspondent for E! News Now and host/producer for entertainment news website, Radar Online. Oh, she co-hosts Red Bull’s Pushing Boundaries on the CW, too. Phew!

Mayleen’s latest romp has been to the Bahamas (again, hello dream job!). Here are Mayleen’s top five picks on the “land of perpetual June.”

Fave Place to Stay– One & Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island

Nothing combines the beauty of Bahamian beaches with ultimate luxury like this resort. I adore the simple elegance of the plantation-style architecture and unsurpassed attention to detail. From the private treatment villas at the spa to a gorgeous Versailles-inspired gardens, this resort fuses together elements of splendor and relaxation from around the world, truly living up to its name.

Highlights: personal hammocks, the beach (look at the water!), adults-only pool for peace & quiet, access to Atlantis Water Park for some big-kid fun! And, of course, the world-class spa…private treatment VILLAS, hellooo!

Local Grub Spot– Arawak Cay, Nassau

Stone Crab House

Stone Crab House.

Known to locals as “the fish fry,” Arawak Cay is an unassuming strip of restaurants where Nassau residents and well-informed foodies come for authentic, no-frills Bahamian flavor.  I headed to The Stone Crab House for a cornucopia of conch– conch fritters, cracked conch, conch salad … oh yeeeah! Wash it down with my local drink of choice, Sky Juice (a strong mixture of gin, coconut water & sweet milk) for a true taste of the islands that will send you soaring with joy amongst the puffy white Caribbean clouds.

About half a million pounds of conch is consumed in the Bahamas each year. It’s a delicious island staple that’s rumored to be an aphrodisiac, and must be tried! But if it’s your first time, my general rule about conch is– taste it before you actually see it.  Once it’s chopped up, battered or fried, you’ll have no idea that the tasty dish you’re consuming is quite possibly one of the ugliest sea creatures on the planet!

Wine & Dine Splurge– Graycliff, Nassau

graycliff1

Graycliff, Nassau.

This historic mansion, transformed into the Caribbean’s first 5-star restaurant, is famous for its sophisticated Bahamanian-inspired cuisine and 250,000 bottle wine cellar (3rd largest in the world). But the 6th shining star at Graycliff is Chef Elijah Bowe, a larger-than-life personality whose charisma and charm is as abundant as the magnificent flavor in his dishes. I had the honor of cooking alongside Chef Elijah at Table One, a demonstration and private dining area in his kitchen. This was one of the most memorable and fun experiences of my life! We (ahem, yes I assisted) whipped up stone crab in a lovely cream saffron sauce and feasted on a number of foodgasmic Chef Elijah creations, plus bottles of heavenly wine and a 6-way dessert sampler. Oh, what a night!

Sealife Encounter– UNEXO Dolphin Experience, Grand Bahama Island

dolphinkiss

UNEXO Dolphin Experience.

Get up-close and personal with these magnificent sea creatures in their natural environment. I was amazed by the physical strength, calming demeanor and intensely-focused intelligence of these gorgeous dolphins. UNEXO Underwater Explorers Society also offers shark encounters, as well as scuba and wreck diving. Fun for nature-lovers and kids of all ages!

Sounds & Sunset– Bikini Bottom Bar & Grill, Grand Bahama Island

IMG_8272

Bikini Bottom Bar & Grill.

Nothing feels more right than being on an island and watching a glorious sunset, while live Caribbean music fills the air. My favorite spot on Grand Bahama is Bikini Bottom, a casual place with the coolest Rake ‘n’ Scrape band in town– the Island Boys. Rake ‘n’ Scrape is an genre of music that originated in the Bahamas with distinct sounds created by goat skin drums and scraping a hair pick along a carpenter saw. It instantaneously fills you with funk, happiness and the overwhelming urge to get up and dance! I had to opportunity to learn how to play the instruments and jam out with The Island Boys, probably not the most enjoyable experience for the customers that night, but something I will never ever forget. Rake and scrape, yaaaaaw!

Mayleen Ramey

Photos courtesy of Mayleen Ramey.

Arden Cho: A Pretty Little Liar

The other day, we caught a glimpse of the gorgeous Arden Cho on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. She plays Pru, Paige’s friend, in a scene shot at a high school bathroom. And we all know what happens in a female high school bathroom: gossip!

Though Arden was only cast for this one scene, it’s refreshing to see her representin’ on a popular show like PLL. It seems from her fan page that people decided to catch up with the show just to watch her. I mean, why not? She’s amazingly beautiful and talented: she’s been a cheerleader and a gymnast; she can play the cello and sing; and she is now a model/actress. Seriously, what can’t she do? Back in 2004, she even won the title of Miss Korea Chicago and competed in the Miss Korea Pageant in Seoul. She has also appeared in fashion magazines Vogue, Purple Fashion and Nylon for Alexander’s McQueen’s diffusion line McQ (Spring 2008).

Continue reading

Where I Went and What I Bought: Seoul

Shopping in Myeongdong, an old part of town revitalized with everything from nouveau Korean street food (french fry-covered corndog and french fries on a stick, anyone?) to cutting edge indie boutiques to Seoul’s flagship Uniqlo store. Photo from flickriver.com.

I took a dream vacation last month. Not to some tropical hideaway surrounded by crystal clear waters. Not to a romantic European capital overflowing with crumbling palaces and fine wine. No, I went on a shopping vacation. To Korea.

For me, Seoul is the place to go to shop. Tokyo – too expensive. Singapore – too western. Hong Kong – too inconsistent. While Seoul may not be the bargain it used to be, the quality of goods and quantity of goods make it a shopper’s dream. So when my husband told me he was going on a once-in-a-lifetime Pebble Beach weekend with the boys, I took that as my cue to plan a once-in-a-lifetime-solely-to-shop-without-the-hubby trip with my mom. Continue reading