Due to the coronavirus outbreak across the world, putting on a mask is like a daily ritual. Through the distinctive travel experience in Chile, Japan and the Netherlands, the sight of nature and breaths of fresh air provide one with the sense of comfort that we all sorely need in this age.
要深切體驗大自然，不妨住在森林裡。在智利的原始森林深處，便有一座看似是森林小精靈定居的火山屋，單看外觀，仿佛電影《 指環王 》中的小矮人會隨時出來和您打招呼！ Montaña Mágica Lodge酒店超乎大家想像，5層高形似火山的建築披上了綠色鬥蓬，不規則的窗戶仿如數對小眼睛往外探視森林的情況一樣，設計引人入勝。而酒店頂部更設有噴泉，每天會定時噴出水流，讓酒店外圍的藤蔓掛上飽滿的水珠，在陽光映照下閃閃發亮，加添夢幻感覺。
Primal Hotel in the Chilean Forest
The best way to experience nature is to be surrounded by it. Deep inside the primal forest in Chile, there is a building that resembles a Smial (Hobbit-hole) so much so that you would think a hobbit from the fantasy world of “Lord of the Rings” will come out and greet you anytime. Montaña Mágica Lodge is beyond our normal understanding of what a hotel is: a 5-storey building shaped like a huge mound and covered by greenery, with windows irregularly scattered on it making for a fascinating design. At the very top of the building sits a fountain that regularly showers the hotel, drizzling the vines in droplets of water and further adding to the refreshing atmosphere.
You will see a number of sizable logs being used as studs inside the building, and everything from the reception, the bar, staircase handrails, guest room walls to tables are all made of idiosyncratic pieces of wood. Glass walls are used predominantly to maximize natural light while maintaining the proximity to the forest outside. From the Biophilic design to the traditional Chilean ornaments and decorations, to the green scenery beyond the window, everything at the Montaña Mágica Lodge provides one with the sense of serenity.
The hotel is situated in Patagonia Park, and thus there are various outdoor activities such as hiking available to pursue. Take a relaxing stroll in the woods, and you may even encounter the cute Pudu puda (also known as the southern pudu). Just like the character in the Disney film “Bambi”, its tiny size and round little ears are truly endearing!
如果智利樹林所住的是小精靈的話，日本鹿兒島屋久島的卻是一位長腿叔叔。屋久島獲列入世界自然遺產名錄之中，特別是島上的美景讓不少旅客形容為世外桃源一樣，據說連宮崎駿也是在這樹林中得到靈感，創作出《 千與千尋 》和《 幽靈公主 》兩套巨作。
屋久島是個面積約504平方公里的圓形島嶼，島上約75％皆為山地地形，而且在茂密的杉木林中，可以找到神木界的資深偶像“ 繩文杉 ”。“ 繩文杉 ”被推斷樹齡約有6,000年左右，最大樹幹周長為16.1公尺，牢牢地屹立在這個小島上，看守著島上的萬物。無數旅客不惜來回走19公里的步道，也是為了探望這位偶像，仿佛把耳朵放到它的樹幹旁，就會聽到6,000年以來的歷史迴響。在健行中別錯過著名地標之一的“ 威爾遜杉 ”，這棵空心神木只剩下寬廣的基座部分，然而從樹幹裂隙走入樹洞中，仰頭一望居然可以看見一顆由森林與藍天拼湊而成的愛心，是專屬於世界自然遺產的浪漫！
Japan’s Last Wonderland
As a World Natural Heritage Site, the beautiful scenery of Yakushima has been described as paradise by many travellers. It is said that even Miyazaki Hayao was inspired in the forest on the island, driving him to create two of his masterpieces, “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke”.
Yakushima is a circular island of approximately 504 sq. km, with about 75% of mountainous terrain. Inside the dense forest of Japanese cedars lies the long worshiped old tree Jomon Sugi. The tree is estimated to be about 6,000 years old with a maximum trunk circumference of 16.1 m, standing firmly and guarding everything on the small island. Tourists would walk all the way through the 19 km trail, just to visit this well respected idol, as if they could hear a 6000-year history by putting their ear next to the trunk. During the hike, do not miss out “Wilson’s Stump”, one of the famous landmarks on the island. This hollow old tree only has its wide bottom part left, but when you walk into the tree hole through the crack on the trunk and look upwards, you will be able to see a heart shaped by the forest and the blue sky, the romance you could only find in this World Natural Heritage!
In the centre of Yakushima, there is a mountain called Miyanoura which has the highest peak in Kagoshima Prefecture and Kyushu area, reaching 1,936 meters. It is also one of the top 100 famous mountains in Japan and was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1993. Every year, many hikers come to enjoy the beautiful sea of azaleas in spring and red leaves in autumn. Another prestigious sightseeing spot on the island is the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine where you can see the gurgling streams in the mossy forest, making it an absolutely rare hidden place where you could seem to blend into the nature.
餐廳坐落於Frankendael公園內，三邊牆身都以全落地玻璃裝潢，坐擁超過180度的景觀，樓底八尺高的頂部亦是透明的玻璃，跟農場溫室一樣，感覺寬闊舒適。餐廳旁邊設有戶外用餐區，在農作物的包圍下享用午餐，與友人促膝長談，絕對是一大樂事。De Kas無菜單供應，主廚會為您度身訂造五或六道餐點，特別的是餐廳奉行 “PICKED IN THE MORNING，SERVED IN THE AFTERNOON”，所有的蔬果都是來自餐廳溫室種植的自家蔬果，主廚們早上直接就地取材，下午炮製出一道又一道的美食，絕對是最新鮮和時令之選。他們種植的水果、蔬果甚至是花朵都能夠成為佳餚，至於海鮮跟肉類，餐廳亦是購自當地的商戶，務求令所有食物都是以最新鮮、最佳狀態呈現在餐桌之上。
Farm-to-table, De Kas in the Netherlands
After introducing the accommodation in Chile and tourist spots in Japan, it would be perfect to enjoy food in nature. De Kas, meaning greenhouse in Dutch, is a high-end restaurant in Frankendael Park in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The owner Gert Jan Hageman decided to repurpose the municipal greenhouse built in 1926 and convert it into a restaurant. Soon after, De Kas became one of popular restaurants in town.
The restaurant has three sides of glass walls, creating an over 180° pleasant view. The glass ceiling which is 8 feet above ground makes the place spacious and comfortable like a farm greenhouse. Next to the building is the outdoor dining area surrounded by crops where you could enjoy lunch and have a nice talk with friends. De Kas does not have a menu – the chef would tailormake a 5 or 6-course meal for you. The restaurant embraces the practice of “Picked in the Morning, Served in the Afternoon”, picking the vegetables and fruits planted in their own greenhouse in the morning and using them to prepare a delicious meal in the afternoon. The ingredients are therefore guaranteed to be fresh and seasonal. The fruits, vegetables and even flowers they grow can all be turned into delicacies. As for seafood and meat, they are purchased from local merchants so as to ensure all the food is presented in the freshest and best condition on the table.
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