The Globe as you know it is changing.
Coming June 2019

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To understand more about why you are so important to our member-supported initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Luang Prabang / ‘The refuge of the last dreamers’

Posted on: December 21, 2018 | Featured

This small wonder in the north of Laos is a designated Unesco World Heritage Centre with the Mekong running right through it. It’s surrounded by green hills and its colourful streets are lined with temples, colonial buildings and bougainvillea trees. It is, in the words of Marthe Bassene, “the refuge of the last dreamers”

The Old Quarter of Luang Prabang at sunset Photo: Shutterstock

What to do

Time often feels like it is standing still in the town of Luang Prabang, its otherworldly feel shared among travellers passing in the street. The mornings come alive as you make your way to the main drag for tak bat, the ancient alms-giving ceremony with processions of monks carrying offering bowls. The offering is usually food that will serve as the monks’ daily meal. The ritual takes place in total silence and has become a major attraction for tourists – who are advised to respect local etiquette.

The Luang Prabang Royal Palace became a national museum after the overthrow of the monarchy by communists in 1975. Visitors are first greeted by a sprawling garden, and then find Lao architecture and art mixed with French colonial style. Behind the palace is a garage housing a collection of vintage cars that once belonged to the royals, near the odd sight of two old private Shell gas pumps.

Not far from here is Luang Prabang’s sacred Mount Phousi. It’s 355 steps to a magical 360-degree view at the summit, which gets crowded close to sunset with visitors congregating for the money shot. Throughout the descent, you see small shrines, cave temples and imagery recounting tales of Buddha. One cave has a giant footprint that is said to have belonged to Buddha himself.

The town can be seen easily by foot or bike. Take yourself to the main street, filled with curio shops and cafes. The higher-end Lao-French restaurant Tangor stands out with its laid-back ambiance, great music and décor, and vintage posters. For authentic Lao dishes like chicken larb and or lam, head to Big Tree café, a five-minute walk from Tangor on the riverside. There are numerous alleys waiting to be explored, and you are never truly lost on the streets of Luang Prabang.

The Haw Pha Bang temple on the grounds of the Royal Palace Museum, house Laos' most sacred Buddha
The Haw Pha Bang temple on the grounds of the Royal Palace Museum, house Laos’ most sacred Buddha image Photo: Shutterstock

Where to stay

Sofitel Luang Prabang is nestled in a quiet residential neighbourhood in what was originally built as the French governor’s residence in the early 1900s. The property, one of the oldest in the Sofitel collection, was transformed into a hotel in 2010 and fully restored in 2015 in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Luang Prabang’s Unesco designation. The hotel’s 25 suites each come with a private garden and an outdoor bathtub under a pergola, while the pool villas have a private plunge pool. The standout main pool stuns with its amethyst tiles, reflecting both the cultural heritage and the French colonial architecture of the time. Other features include an ornamental garden where two rabbits hop around all day long, a daily breakfast buffet, a spa and a 24-hour gym. Guests take weekly cooking classes where they learn how to make Laotian dishes with produce grown on the property.

A table set for romance in Sofitel’s ornamental garden Photo: Sofitel Luang Prabang

The Governor’s Grill offers Western and Lao dishes centred around the ornamental garden. Guests can dine indoors or in an intimate tented area at night. Don’t miss the Library, a quiet space where guests can relax with a book and vintage wine by the fireplace.

Head to the traditional Lao building that houses Le Spa’s calming ambiance in three private rooms that can be booked by couples. Its pampering menu includes full-body, foot and head massages. Le Spa’s skin and beauty treatments feature ancient Lao techniques along with French, Swedish and Indian Ayurveda treatments with modern products and organic Lao creations.

The hotel’s location is just right: not too far yet not too near the town centre, a 15-minute stroll that takes visitors through charming local neighbourhoods. Sofitel shuttle buses also move guests between the hotel and city centre in the evening. But as a pedestrian-friendly city, the best option is to take a bicycle from the hotel, giving you free reign to discover all the little nooks and corners of this quaint town. 

This article was published in the December 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here.