By Pia Gadkari
(Reuters.com) – Thirty national pavilions and two enormous curated international shows sprawl across acres of public garden and over a vast unused shipyard. Galleries and cafes are commandeered for a further 89 national shows and an ever-expanding menu of collateral events.
The quiet canals and quaint byways of Venice fizz with feverish excitement as the who’s who of the art world come to town to inaugurate what some people call the United Nations of Art.
By Pia Gadkari
(Reuters.com) – London is home to one of the most diverse and exciting restaurant scenes in the world. But sometimes, packed in among the masses of mediocre fare, exceptional dining experiences must be sought out rather than stumbled upon.
Here, four of London’s most widely acclaimed chefs – Gary Lee of The Ivy, Rainer Becker of Zuma, Tong Chee Hwee of Michelin-starred Hakkasan and Dave McCarthy of Scott’s – talk about what they believe goes into making a restaurant experience particularly memorable, how they pull it off at their own establishments, and what they look for when they hang up their aprons and head out to eat.
The morning brought good news. We were closer to Semey, a large town near the Russian border than we thought. There was still the issue of how to get our half-broken-down car there.
(To read earlier posts from Mongol Rally, click here)
It was time to put our knowledge of off-road driving to the test and manoeuvre the car as lightly and gently as possible over the potholes to the safety of a garage.
We left Almaty feeling refreshed and ready for the road ahead, knowing we would face another tough stint on the open and deserted roads of Kazakhstan.
Unlike the low-lying desert basin of Central Kazakhstan, the northern and eastern regions gently rise up to a high altitude plateau that extends east into Russia, China and Mongolia. The grass here was longer and greener and gentle hills were faintly visible in the distance.
The southeastern region of Kazakhstan is a cluster of historic cities that make up the cultural and commercial heart of the country. Pre-Soviet heritage is better preserved here than in other areas and the concentration of ethnic Kazakhs is highest in this region.
A couple of hours after leaving Aral we could see the first signs of increased prosperity – herds of sheep and cows grazing and some land cultivated for agriculture.
After a testing five-day, 2000 mile crossing of the arid Kazakh Steppe, I am writing from Aral in Southern Kazakhstan.
Aral is a small fishing village situated on the northeastern shores of the inland Aral Sea. Today, however, there is no water in sight. During the Stalin years, Aral suffered the collapse of its major industry – fishing – at the hands of collectivization, the agricultural policy pursued by Stalin between 1928 and 1940.
The Mongol Rally started on July 24 at the Goodwood Motor Circuit near London. Spirits were high as 350 cars formed a procession and drove a lap around the circuit before setting off on the long road for Mongolia.
From the start we planned to drive across Europe as quickly as possible, knowing the poor roads, the intense heat and the vast distances in Central Asia would be the most testing part of the trip.