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This week: India


Once Emblematic, Snake Charmers Now a Vanishing BreedBY GREG MIDDLETON Meridian Writers’s GroupVARANASI, India—I am walking down the ghat, the stone steps leading to the Ganges River, and there he is, a young man in the colourful garb usually reserved for travelling holy on...


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Tips from the latest guidebooks



Moon Handbooks Colombia, 1st edition





THE SMALL COLONIAL town of San Agustín is a slog to reach—high in the Andes, 2,770 kilometres by road southwest of Bogotá—but, as the first edition of Moon Handbooks Colombia says, “it is an incredibly pleasant and peaceful place to visit.” And once you’re there, you really ought to give two days to exploring its pre-Colombian archaeological sites, “Colombia’s Easter Island.”

Between 100 and 800 a people we know only as the San Agustín Culture produced spectacular monumental funeral statues out of volcanic rock. Then they vanished.

The main site, Parque Arqueológico de San Agustín, two kilometres west of town, covers 80 hectares and contains more than 130 statues “with striking human and animal-like features,” plus carved tombs and stone tables. A museum displays smaller items and provides an explanation of the culture. The Fuente de Lavapiés has “bas-reliefs of human and animal figures sculpted on the rocky bed of a stream.” The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Four lesser sites nearby are also worth taking in, says the guidebook, and “armed with a map and a willingness to ask directions, it is possible to visit foot.” Not quite so handy are the area’s two other archaeological parks, Los Idolos and Las Piedras, but one or both can be managed if you sign up for a full- or half-day horseback or jeep tour.



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Fondation Louis Vuitton Opens in Paris


IT LOOKS LIKE the hull of a sailing ship, made of 3,600 curved-glass panes, as deconstructed by a Cubist. Luxury goods maker LVMH’s new museum, Fondation Louis Vuitton, opens on 27 October 2014 in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne.

The museum, designed by Canadian-born architect Frank Gehry, has taken six years to complete and is said to have gone a third over its €100 million budget. The new showpiece has 11 galleries, a bookshop, a restaurant and a 350-seat theatre.

Its inaugural exhibition will present examples of Gehry’s architecture as well as a fresh commission by Danish-born artist Olafur Eliasson, who will subsequently have a solo show at the gallery. The new space will also house some of the LVMH art collection, which includes works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gilbert & George and Jeff Koons.


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