Fly SilkAir and experience darwin’s iconic summer festival
There’s no better time to visit the tropical north of Australia than during the Darwin Festival, where a festival wonderland awaits each August. The festival celebrates the quintessential spirit and energy of Australia, transforming the city of Darwin into a place of wonderful merriment, complete with outdoor concerts and eateries.
Just picture yourself at the festival: you are relaxing under the starry night sky in Festival Park, a stretch of green nestled in the heart of the Darwin Central Business District (CBD). You are wandering through the iconic bamboo stalls and bars, taste-testing snacks and meals cooked by local chefs and pairing each dish with Australian beers and wines. After a satisfying meal, you head to the Aurora Spiegeltent to catch the show LIMBO, a thrilling mix of cabaret, circus and acrobatics – a show so popular, Madonna saw it twice!
At the Lighthouse, a classic open-air venue, you dance the night away while listening to the hottest contemporary bands. Alternatively, if you’re seeking a change of pace, you can simply settle into one of the many theatres around the CBD to enjoy the very best of Australian acting and comedy.
Outside of the CBD, do not forget to explore the iconic activities on offer: fishing, riding helicopters, jumping crocodile and sunset cruises are available alongside the lively shows that celebrate the joys of life.
Darwin Festival is held from 8 to 25 August 2019. Everyone is invited to experience Darwin at its finest, so bring your family and friends! Visit the Darwin Festival page at darwinfestival.org.au for the events schedule. SilkAir flies five times weekly to Darwin, so make your bookings soon in order to soak in the great atmosphere at the festival. – Neil Arriola
Diving deep with Liveaboard Maldives
Eat, dive, sleep, repeat – this was my routine for eight days straight during my Liveaboard (LOB) diving trip in the Maldives. Not only a popular holiday destination for honeymooners, the Maldives are also a paradise for scuba diving enthusiasts.
The Maldives are renowned for their abundant marine life and robust reefs. The country is a prime destination for divers interested in seeing majestic marine creatures, which include manta rays, eagle rays and white sharks.
Of all the dives we did over the course of the week, my favorite were the two night dives. During the first, which took place on the third night of the trip, we swam with manta rays. The crew set up strong floodlights to attract plankton to the stern of the boat. After a few hours of waiting, three manta rays appeared just below the boat, feeding on the plankton and swimming gracefully. It was an awe-inspiring experience, watching the manta rays gliding through the water above our heads as we dove beneath them. The next morning, we continued our tour by observing manta rays as small, “cleaner” fishes consumed the dead skin and parasites that clung to the manta rays’ bodies and gills.
On the second to last night of the trip, we arrived at the famous Shark Point dive site to feed nurse sharks, which are docile creatures that are generally harmless to humans unless provoked. The dive master spread a mixture of raw fish and blood on a rock structure in the water, and almost immediately the nurse sharks flocked to the feed, nudging their way in between divers to reach the feed. It was akin to watching the National Geographic channel, but it was completely live!
Water currents can be strong at certain dive sites, especially at the deep channel dive sites where reef sharks and eagle rays are most easily spotted, so diving in the Maldives is typically recommended for more experienced divers with Advanced Open Water certification.
SilkAir and Singapore Airlines fly to Male daily – make it your next diving destination! – Chang Jin Jen
Bandung, where music fills the air
SilkAir branding and communications executive Pamela Yeo introduces Bandung, the capital of West Java.
A Google search of Bandung will tell you to visit the natural hot springs of Kawah Putih, to sip on coffee at one of the many picturesque cafes in the city, and to experience the extensive shopping scene – which has earned Bandung the title of the “Paris of Java”.
Yet, my favourite takeaway from my three-day long trip was the endless live music that filled the city. And no – it is not just your typical pop music blasting out of the city’s sound systems.
My trip began with café-hopping along Jalan Prego, a street near the Universitas Padjadjaran, which is one of Bandung’s top universities. Trees line both sides of the street, providing shade from the sun in this quaint student town.
Every café in the area has a different theme, while the many local fashion boutiques in the city are interlaced between the local eateries. It is rare to find live music in cafes in Singapore, but in Bandung, a stage being set up for a live performance is the norm.
The light mood created by the fun and interactive musicians at Lawangwangi Creative Space – a two-hour drive into the mountains – definitely sets the bar for my future café-hopping expeditions.
At almost every pit stop, we were greeted by a two- or three-piece band – be it at a visit to the outskirts of Kawah Putih, at the many street food stalls, at the tea plantation or the city’s various convenience stores.
Some make a living from singing, while others perform as a hobby. It was a unique experience to come across live music at such a high frequency. Apparently, most of Indonesia’s professional singers, bands, orchestras, music schools and even buskers started off in the musical city of Bandung.
Other than live music and cafes, massage lovers can rejoice at the number of parlours in Bandung. I had my fair share of full-body relaxation and foot massages at Yuyuantang Reflexology in Jalan Sukajadi. Down the same road as this renowned massage parlour, you will find Kartika Sari, a bakery producing the city’s best brownies and banana cakes – sure to delight both you and your friends back home! For flight schedules and bookings, log onto silkair.com today.