Epicure – When three is not a crowd

A terrible scream punctures the still tropical night. The sound is all the more jarring given its context. We are on our second night of a boat expedition around one of Southeast Asia’s last frontiers, the Philippine province of Palawan, and so far the trip has been as harmonious as one of Brian Wilson’s finest moments. Not anymore. As I approach the source of the noise, it get even more worrying. The tiny shack glows a satanic shade of red and I see foreboding shapes making frenzied movements within. Steeling myself with an additional shot of Tanduay rum, I make my way through the door and come face to face with my discordant nemesis. It is one of the group’s female members who is gleefully murdering Can’t Buy Me Love at what is possibly the most remote karaoke bar in the Philippines. The rest of our collective and the crew sing erratically in drunken support. Closer inspection of the songbook reveals plenty of hoary old chestnuts by the likes of Bread and America but nothing by The Pogues or The…

Epicure – Triple Beauties

In Vietnam, there is a sense of lightning progress and blockbuster attractions such as the limestone karst-studded wonderland of Halong Bay; in Cambodia, the darkness of the recent past is being countered by increased investment and growing confidence. Meanwhile, in sleepy Laos, a booming contingent of lotus-eaters from around the world is helplessly seduced by the country’s languorous charms. Vastly different they may be, but more links the three countries than traumatic history and optimism for the future. Until conflicts disfigured these locations, a king ruled each one. And today, the royal legacy of each of these destinations endures as an echo of its former self.