Planet DMC

News and tidbits from the travel industry

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Isso vade: The spicy snack that unites Sri Lanka

Isso (prawn) vade (pattie) are beloved throughout Sri Lanka, and their popularity can perhaps be attributed to their deeply familiar and simple ingredients: lentils and prawns, along with onions and curry leaves. Topped with a spicy sambol – made of chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies and lime juice – plus chilli sauce for extra punch, each fritter has the perfect balance of crispy texture, zesty aroma and spicy flavour. And at Rs 50 to 70 (12p to 18p) each, they are an inexpensive, tasty treat for the masses.Demi Perera (BBC)

Africa’s global biodiversity hotspot

This year, after creating a sophisticated zoning plan and completing extensive conversations with representatives from the country’s tourism, fishing, petroleum and conservation efforts, the island nation is prepared to fully implement the landmark Marine Spatial Planning Initiative it announced several years ago: to protect 30% of its ocean territory.Alba Jaramillo (BBC)

The hermit of Socotra Island

Marooned between Somalia and Yemen where the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean meet, the Socotra archipelago is one of the most isolated continental fragments on Earth – a piece of Africa adrift at sea. The high proportion of endemic flora here have led some to label this Unesco World Heritage site the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean”. More than one-third of Socotra’s 825 plant species and 90% of its reptile species don’t live anywhere else in the world, and gazing up at the islands’ surreal, umbrella-like dragon’s blood trees and down at thousands of bright blue and red freshwater crabs that scurry in the twilight, it can feel like you’re on another planet.Geri Moore (BBC)

Can Taiwan become Asia’s next great hiking destination?

Taipei City started promoting hiking trails within its city limits, budgeting approximately US$2m per year to maintaining trails and linking existing trails into loops – one of which would come to be known as the Taipei Grand Trail, a 92km route stretching from Yangmingshan in the north of the city to the district of Muzha in the south.Joe Henley (BBC)

The marvel of China’s multi-generational rice terraces

Though the terraces shimmer a vibrant emerald in the summer growing season (the local micro-climate supports just one rice crop a year, if an abundant one), the landscape is at its most photogenic from November to late April, when the waterlogged terraces become natural mirrors that glow in shades of indigo and tangerine, in gold, turquoise and magenta, with every sunrise and sunset. Farmers and water buffalo occasionally lumber by in pleasing silhouette.Gary Jones (BBC)

Slippurinn: The restaurant reinventing Icelandic cuisine

In Iceland, restaurant owners have to buy fish from an online auction, or order directly from the larger companies, so you can’t just go up to your local fishermen and get something straight from their boats – even if that makes perfect sense since they’re right there.Gísli Matthías Auðunsson

Putrajaya: The capital city you’ve never heard of

No politician has left as large an imprint on Malaysia as Mahathir. Malaysia has been an independent nation for 64 years, and Mahathir was prime minister for 24 of those, with his second leadership stint ending in 2020. While his tenures were tinged with controversy, Mahathir’s aggressive development strategies helped Malaysia build one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies in the 1990s. Several of Kuala Lumpur’s largest monuments testify to his ambition – chief among them the massive Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the iconic 452m-tall Petronas Twin Towers. But his boldest project of all was Putrajaya, Malaysia’s “other” capital city.Ronan O’Connell (BBC)

Doubles: Trinidad’s addictively spicy street snack

Doubles is a humble sandwich made from curried chickpeas tucked between two pieces of fried flat bread and dressed in tamarind and coriander sauces, mango chutney, kuchela (spicy, green mango chutney) and cucumber. It’s sold from makeshift stalls that have changed little from the original ones nearly a century ago, as well as in popular restaurants and tiny cafes. The best doubles feature soft bread and tender chickpeas that have undergone a long simmer in a curry sauce. When the condiments are added, the punchy taste experience perfectly balances sweet, tart and spicy in one addictive little package.Ramin Ganeshram (BBC)

Oman’s spectacular ‘Norway of Arabia’

Kumzar’s unique character owes much to geography. The village sits on the Musandam Peninsula, a tiny coastal exclave of Oman separated from the rest of the country by 100km of the UAE’s rocky desert. Musandam’s nickname – ‘the Norway of Arabia’ – derives from its wildly dramatic coastline, ravaged by fjord-like khors – although, unlike their Scandinavian counterparts, these rocky inlets were formed not by the steady slithering of glaciers but rather by the collision of tectonic plates, which crack the Earth’s crust from beneath like terrible creatures vying to emerge from an egg.Daniel Stables (BBC)

The Chinese noodle dish whose name doesn’t exist

In past centuries, Shaanxi’s biang biang noodles were little more than a humble local dish, mostly consumed by time-strapped workers who didn’t have occasion to artfully pull thin noodles. Compared to other noodle varieties from north-west China, biang biang were less known outside of Xi’an. But they were a comforting and beloved staple among locals, for whom the backstory and written character were common knowledge.Megan Zhang (BBC)

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