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Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

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Need to Chill? Head for India's Hill Stations
Heavenly. What better word to describe Darjeeling and Kalimpong, two Himalayan towns with their heads in the clouds?

Short Cuts
Tea may be Darjeeling's main claim to fame, but the hill town also offers much for transport enthusiasts

Web Crawling
Before heading to Darjeeling, be sure to check out the local teagrowers' association online salon

While dozens of Chiang Mai travel agencies hawk trips to "undiscovered" villages in Northern Thailand, all too often these excursions to minority areas result in superficial encounters between foreign tourists and the mountain people. At Lisu Lodge, a simple six-room guesthouse about an hour north of Chiang Mai, residents of a mixed Lisu and Akha community have joined forces with East West Siam, a Bangkok tour operator, to promote a more sensitive approach to cultural tourism. The lodge was built in the heart of their village in 1994 under the guidance of John Davies, an American tour guide and author. He envisioned a traditional structure of wood, bamboo and thatch, where guests could experience a taste of local life without sacrificing private bathrooms, hot showers and flush toilets. By employing villagers in all aspects of running the lodge, Davies and general manager Kaikaew Ju'tuar-ee hope to foster better communication between hosts and guests--and greater long-term economic and social benefits for the village. The rooms are small, clean and comfortable, with electric fans and private bathrooms, while a wide, shady verandah looks onto the surrounding mountains and farmlands. Meals, a blend of Lisu, Thai and Chinese dishes, are served on low tables. Locally produced handicrafts are also available, with no intermediaries taking a cut. Guests are welcome to tour the village and visit private homes in the company of a local guide. As the website at notes, "You will meet them as friends, not as exhibits." East West Siam sells lodge packages with optional mountain biking, river rafting, elephant treks or four-wheel drive tours from $50 a person. For details, send an e-mail message to or call 662-256-6153.

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U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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