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Sunday, June 28, 2009

News photo
Time to reflect: Sunset over the mighty Mekong River as it heads past Luang Prabang en route from Tibet to Vietnam. JEFF KINGSTON PHOTO

Succor for the soul

Jeff Kingston takes some Asian trips to refresh the spirit and enthrall

Special to The Japan Times

Yes, you do deserve some pampering and spiritual rejuvenation — and the sooner the better.

It has been a tough year and even the misery index has high blood pressure. And don't get me going on Japan's coming elections between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Amid this doom and gloom, it is all the more important not to capitulate by laying low and hoarding those dwindling savings.

In fact, it's the perfect time to surf that strong yen for some well-deserved travel therapy. Just getting away helps relieve stress, and if you need some justification other than fun and adventure, consider the merits of touring sacred sites, imbibing the karmic tonic of tranquility and focusing on reviving your battered spirits.

Three Asian destinations I recommend for recharging the spiritual batteries are Chiang Mai (Thailand), Kandy (Sri Lanka) and Luang Prabang (Laos), places that all boast sacred sites, pleasant surroundings, yummy food and lodgings that can be enjoyed on modest budgets, but also reward those inclined to splurge. They all have that second-city vibe, trying harder to make you welcome and enjoy your journey.

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