The myriad tours visitors to Shanghai can take part in include a walking tour covering aspects of the city's Jewish heritage. Run by photojournalist Dvir Bar-Gal, a half-day tour includes the Ohel Moishe Synagogue and refugee museum, the city's Hongkou district, a private home and the Peace Hotel, built by the prominent Shanghai businessman Sir Victor Sassoon. Jewish immigrants and, later, refugees from the Russian Revolution of 1917 came to China, many settling in Shanghai, to be joined by about 20,000 people arriving from Europe between 1937 and 1941.
"No other city in the world saved so many Jewish lives during the Holocaust as Shanghai did," Bar-Gal says. During World War II, when Shanghai was under Japanese rule, the Hongkou District was where refugees were ordered to live. A five-hour tour costs 400 yuan ($60.50) a person and can be conducted in Hebrew or English.
Sea and valley
Guests can indulge in serious pampering at an over-water resort set on a coral reef in the Kota Kinabalu region of Malaysian Borneo, but it's the resort's marine research centre, dedicated to conserving the endangered giant clam, that has priority.
Tomas Andersen of Gayana Eco Resort says guests can join projects to renew damaged ocean floors, including coral planting, while holidaying at the 904 ringgit ($277) a night villas.
"The tourists have done their research and they know what they are coming for," Andersen told a corporate social responsibility forum at a recent luxury travel market gathering in Shanghai.
The research centre has about 3000 juvenile clams in an ocean nursery at the resort where they are monitored before being progressively released.
"The giant clam is to the ocean what a tree is to the land and everything revolves around the centre, the resort is second," Andersen told the forum. "It [marine conservation] is a paradigm shift for everyone including the local community, where [clam adductor] muscles are eaten and the shells are placed on the mantelpiece."
Environmental stewardship is also key at Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains, Australia's first carbon neutral resort to be certified by carboNZero, an internationally-accredited greenhouse gas certification scheme, says a resort spokeswoman, Morag Ritchie, who was also at the forum.
Large-scale rehabilitation of the Emirates-owned conservation reserve has taken place and $25,000 a month is spent clearing noxious weeds, Ritchie says. A feral-proof fence with "floppy tops" keeps cats, foxes and dogs out of a 50-hectare area, protecting small and medium-size native mammals. The resort also has a policy of sourcing food from within a 160-kilometre radius.
"You could buy apples [for less] from Sydney markets but that's not the point when the apple orchard is down the road," she says.
On deck for African game
River cruising is expanding, but not just in Europe, Asia and parts of the US - an alternative to land-based game drives in southern Africa is to board a riverboat. The Zambezi Queen travels a 25-kilometre stretch of the Chobe River between Namibia's Caprivi Strip and Botswana's Chobe National Park, home to elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo, waterbuck, roan, eland, sable and giraffe.
Operators say game viewing from the river is less intrusive. Passengers join the vessel from Kasane in Botswana.
Two-night journeys are from 7350 rand ($856) a person, twin share.
Artful islands of the inland sea
The Benesse Art Site Naoshima is a collective name for artwork and architecture that, in effect, uses three islands on Japan's Seto Inland Sea as its canvas. At the Chichu Art Museum, built underground on Naoshima Island, works by Claude Monet are exhibited; at Naoshima's Benesse House Museum, works are exhibited indoors, along the seashore and in nearby forest. At next year's contemporary art festival, the Setouchi Triennale, at least nine islands in the Seto region are hosting works. Visitors island-hop by boat.
Jane Reddy travelled to Shanghai courtesy of ILTM.
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