Jonathan Bréchignac Draws Painstakingly Detailed Carpets With Ball-Point Pens

paris-based artist jonathan bréchignac has drawn ‘the carpets’ series with only ball-point pens, except for the smallest details.

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made to fit the size of muslim prayer rugs, each of the pieces take several months to complete, with painstaking detail exploring various motifs and patterns — from QR codes to religious iconography.

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the illustrated rugs are informed by different types of art, such as oriental, pre-columbian, gothic, japanese, native american, military camouflage and animal patterns. together,

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they create a mix of civilizations and religions that bring forth a new meaning and interpretation.

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Transylvania’s rustic revival lures princes and homebuyers

Dusk in the main street of Viscri, one of several hundred ancient villages scattered through the remote foothills of the Transylvanian Alps, features a peculiar daily routine.

A procession of cows, goats and geese saunters un-shepherded, down from the hills to pass the night in outbuildings attached to the village’s farmhouses. It is a bucolic picture in a land that time forgot, where hay is still harvested by scythes and remote valleys are scattered with wild flowers and rare birds.

The image of rustic life has stirred several visitors, among them the Prince of Wales. Drawn by the area’s traditional farming practices — the horse and cart is still in fashion — and its preservation of an ancient form of life, Prince Charles has become a leading player in local conservation efforts.

These villages were originally settled by ethnic German Saxons and Szeklers (a border-living warrior tribe of Hungarian origin) more than 800 years ago when the king of what was then Hungary invited them to guard his borders against the Ottoman Turks in return for fertile land and a degree of self-government.

There the villages stood, most of them shaped around a central fortified church, more or less uninterrupted until the late 1980s. Many then came within months of being bulldozed by “systemisation”, the brutal rural demolition programme of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, before the regime was overthrown in 1989.

In the early 1990s, in accordance with its policy of repatriating its ethnic populations from abroad, the German government invited the Romanian Saxons to migrate to Germany where they were given housing and stipends.

The ensuing exodus left thousands of houses abandoned and vacant. Romanian and Roma families reoccupied some, while others remained empty.

Romania’s subsequent rising affluence — helped by EU membership in 2007 and a steady recovery from the financial crisis since early 2013 — has proved a mixed blessing for traditional homes.

“The problem is that many locals associate the traditional houses with poverty,” says Count Tibor Kalnoky, a native of the region and active conservationist.

They prefer to build their own larger homes, aping the architecture in France and Spain where many Romanians find seasonal work, says Brian Curran, of the Global Heritage Fund, which runs a number of conservation projects in the villages.

Alternatively, they will often renovate the houses with little regard for the traditional design, adopting new materials such as plastic windows and modern roof tiles. In some cases they knock houses down and start again.

Spurred by the interest of the prince — who started visiting the area in 1998 — a nationwide publicity campaign has recently taken shape. One national television network has just finished a year-long series of programmes lauding the benefits of sensitive restoration and shaming the odd hideous carbuncle.

In November, BCR, Romania’s largest commercial bank, started offering preferential borrowing rates for owners restoring houses in traditional villages. In June, having been patron of one local charity for a decade, the prince launched his own Foundation Romania, focusing on education, heritage preservation and sustainable development.

The fashion for eco-tourism has provided another lifeline. A quiet boom in adventurous travellers, curious to discover the peace and beauty of old rural villages, has seen many return for a holiday home.

Paul Hemmerth, himself a Saxon who left for Germany in 1980 and returned in 1997, now owns several B&B properties in the popular village of Richis, which has fewer than 800 residents. He reckons that half of his guests — “Dutch, Italians, English, Americans, Israelis” — make inquiries about buying at the end of their stay.

Look at the prices and you can see why. Entry-level farmhouses cost less than what many Londoners would pay for a new kitchen. Hemmerth, who also acts as a local agent, says it is possible to find a dilapidated two-bedroom house, built around the traditional courtyard design for less than €5,000. In Richis, there are more than 34 houses for sale at present, priced between €27,500 and €60,000.

Eight have been sold in the past month, mainly to European buyers. Nearby, the village of Beia has a number of well-preserved homes and a fortified church; it is an hour’s drive from Brasov, where construction of a new airport is almost finished.

Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s castle, is said to be available to buy for €12m

For a more ambitious holiday home, locals say that Bran Castle is still on the market. Previous owners of the 12th-century Transylvanian pile include — in fiction, at least — Count Dracula. Bran’s owners are tight-lipped about the price — or even whether they would sell — but one local claims €12m could be enough.

Local residents and the Romanian state have priority on land sales, which must be advertised for 30 days before foreign buyers can bid. Only citizens from countries in the European Economic Area are entitled to buy land in Romania. One popular option for foreign buyers is to set up a limited company in Romania through which to purchase the home, although this will incur higher taxes.

In general, says Paul Michael Beza, founder of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce, the buying process will be familiar to those who have bought in continental Europe, with fees a little cheaper. Hardly a slave’s labour, he says, “to acquire a slice of prelapsarian paradise.”

Buying guide

● The Saxon villages of the Transylvanian Alps, or Southern Carpathian Mountains, are in the south-central region of Romania

● All citizens from the European Economic Area are free to buy houses in Romania; in many cases, those outside may face restrictions on owning land

● The villages of Richis and Viscri are popular with foreign buyers. Viscri is 63 miles from Targu Mures international airport, which has five flights each week from London

What you can buy for . . .

€7,500 A small, rundown two-bedroom house in need of complete renovation on 100 sq metres of land

€30,000 A medium-sized, three-bedroom house on 1,800 sq metres, in need of some renovation

€60,000 A five-bedroom house with a large courtyard on a plot measuring 3,000 sq metres in a well-appointed street

Life story of traveller Zikmund (95) like journey in time, says documentarian Petr Horký

The new documentary The Old Man and the World explores the life of one of the greatest of Czech travellers, Miroslav Zikmund. The exploits of Zikmund (now almost 96) and his partner Jiří Hanzelka made them big stars in a period beginning in the late 1940s.

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The film is directed by Petr Horký, a traveller who has himself shot in around 80 countries around the world. Before we discussed the documentary, I asked Horký when his own wanderlust began.

“I guess I was about six years old. My father took me mountain climbing and I decided, this is something I want to do all my life, as I think most boys do at this age.

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“Of course, during the time it was impossible [to travel to the West], so I was travelling in the Czech Republic, to Hungary… I was in East Germany, in Russia – which was the Soviet Union at that time.

“Then after the Velvet Revolution I started to travel. Friends of mine started to grow businesses and I started to grow my travel diaries.”

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That must have been good timing – you were, what, in your mid teens when the revolution happened?

“Yes, I was 17, 18. It was just the right time for me. I can say I’m part of a happy generation – we received the revolution just at the right time for us.”

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Did you already have an interest in film at that time as well? Or did that come later?

“No. At that time I was absolutely sure that there was no chance for me to do any film. So when my friend Miroslav Náplava and

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I organised a trip to Mongolia and the Gobi Desert we were looking for a director who could be a member of our crew, just to do a film.

“But we didn’t have too nice an experience with him and I said to myself, there’s no other option,

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I have to start myself and do anything – not a film but maybe a two-minute report for television or some magazine, anything.

“So I slowly started, from one- or two-minute materials to longer and longer pieces. My last piece was half an hour, so I’m worried how long they’ll be in 10 years maybe [laughs].”

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If I understand it right, the trip to the Gobi Desert and Mongolia was your first big international trip. It must have been quite an education?

“Yes, it was of course. I’m thinking what was the field of knowledge where it was the most important, but it was so important for all of my personality [laughs].

“It was my first of Central Asia, my first experience of real filming. I’m sure that every trip moves a person on a little bit, so when it was my first – and I was maybe 20 – it was very important, of course.”

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Incredibly, you’ve filmed in something like 80 different countries. Do any stand out as being particularly memorable?

“Yes, it’s Mongolia still, I have been there four times, I guess. Sri Lanka…”

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You’ve also been to the North Pole, to Greenland – you skied across Greenland.

“Yes, I love polar parts of the Earth, so Greenland is part of my heart, definitely, I love it there. And I would love to see Antarctica. I haven’t been there.”

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What’s been the most challenging trip to date?

“Maybe crossing Greenland. It’s pretty tough, pretty long, and it’s not so interesting for ordinary people; usually people don’t really know what it means to cross Greenland. So definitely this trip.”

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How long did it take you?

“Twenty-five days, I think. Yeah, about 560 kilometres.”

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I presume when you travel to these far-flung places that most people you meet haven’t heard of the Czech Republic?

“Most of them haven’t. I have a beautiful story from South America, when I was on I think Lake Titicaca, yes, probably when I was in Peru.

“I was talking with local people and they asked me where I was from. I said the Czech Republic and they’d never heard of it.

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“So they asked me, what language do you speak there? I said, the Czech language. They said, all right, we understand, but what is the official language?

“I said, it’s Czech. They said, impossible, how many people live there? I said, about 10 million. They said, you are lying, it’s not possible to have an official language for just 10 million people.

“Of course, the whole of South America speaks Spanish or Portuguese, so for them it was unimaginable that there can be a country so small where all the strange people speak a secret language for only 10 million of them. So yes, it happens usually.”

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You’ve filmed with some of the greatest travellers, including Thor Heyerdahl, Edmund Hillary and Reinhold Messner. Did any of them make a particular impression on you at the personal level?

“Yes, Thor Heyerdahl. We met over a period of five or six years – the last six years of his life. We became something like friends, if it’s possible to say that – he was very much older than me.

“But we had something in common so there was a reason to meet each other, to talk not only about filming but about life, about travelling.

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“It was very important for me personally, and for my job – just to learn how to do things, how to communicate, how to prepare, how to build a workflow of a job.

“We are still in contact with Thor Heyerdahl’s widow Jacqueline. We have a very nice relationship and in November we are going to meet her, to introduce her to our small daughters, so they know each other.”

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You also became friends with one of the greatest Czech travellers, Miroslav Zikmund, and now you’ve got a documentary about him the English title of which is The Old Man and the World. How did that film come about? I met him several years ago and he seemed like a private man. For example, on his card there was no phone number.

“Yes. He is a private man and this is maybe kind of his fortress, his way of preserving his personal space. Because even though he is almost 96 years old, he is still very famous.

“He is not a typical star, on the front pages of newspapers, but almost everybody in our country knows him, and what’s important, wants to talk with him.

“Because he’s a very interesting person. His charisma is very strong – as you met him personally, I think you can say that that’s right.”

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Of course.

“And it really is very interesting to meet him and talk to him. He lives in Zlín, quite a way from Prague, and he lives in his own world a little bit. He keeps it safe and quite preserved.

“We became friends about 20 years ago and I’ve had the idea of doing a film about him, about his life, since maybe six years ago, when I started to ask him.

“Every time I asked him, he said, let’s talk about something different. When I said, what about making a film about your life, he said, I have too many things to do with my personal archive so maybe we can postpone it and talk about it later.

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“Suddenly about three years ago he said, I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve decided that you can start the film, Petr. And if we will do a film about my life, let’s do it properly.

“He offered me his personal diaries for his whole life. He’s been writing it for 75 years, maybe. That’s the dream for every documentary maker – to receive material like this, a charismatic person and his whole life’s diaries.”

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Considering that you’ve known him for 20 years was there anything surprising that you learned about him in the film-making process?

“Of course, of course. You know, I am sure you have close friends, but it doesn’t happen too often that you talk just about their life or your life.

“So when we started to work on the film we started to talk about a special periods of his life. It was something like a journey in time.

“We went back, not only through his personal history but through the history of the Czech Republic and almost through the history of the world, the last 100 years.”

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Given that he’s almost 96 years old he experienced many key moments in modern Czech history.

“That’s right. He experienced the invasion in 1968. He also met all of our presidents. Only two of them didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Zikmund – Hácha and Husák.

“But he personally met for example Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk the founder of our country – and who can say that now?

“It was difficult for me at the beginning to decide how to build the story of the film. Should I focus on the official history? Should I focus on his travelling history? It was difficult at the beginning to decide.”

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You mentioned 1968. I know after ’68 he and his travelling companion Hanzelka were no longer allowed to travel any more. But previous to that what had his relationship been with the government, with the authorities? He was a member of the Communist Party.

“Yes, he was, it’s a good question. When Mr. Zikmund and Mr. Hanzelka were on their second big expedition, a five and a half year trip through Asia and back through the Soviet Union, they decided to ask for membership of the Communist Party.

“That was in Japan, on the territory of the Czechoslovak Embassy in Tokyo. So these are quite bizarre circumstances for asking for membership of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.

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“It helped them when they were travelling through the Soviet Union. Being Communists they had slightly better relations with the locals there.

“They travelled through many parts of Siberia, for example, where no foreigner had ever been before. The people asked them, how can you appear here? How is it possible that you can just move here with your cars? So it helped them very much.

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“What is important to say is that when Mr. Hanzelka and Mr. Zikmund did anything, as is my experience, they did it properly.

“When they decided to become part of the Communist Party, they decided to work on the development of our country, to be active.

“So when they went back to Czechoslovakia they started to cooperate on opening communism, on building communism with a human face, as it was called at that time.

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“In 1968 when the invasion by Warsaw Pact armies of our country took place, it was very difficult for them because of the bad situation for the country.

“But I think for them it was some kind of personal crisis because they had to decide if they had helped to build the position for enemy armies and if they had helped to build something bad – and what to do about that then.”

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Today how does Miroslav Zikmund view his activities at that time?

“He… because we have talked about it and this is in the film, he felt it as a serious mistake. But once you do something, you cannot undo it.

“The only thing to do is to try to work to make it better. Or to somehow undo the bad consequences you helped to bring into being.

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“So he says, we were old and clever enough not to commit suicide, and we decided to work against the bad things that were happening in our country at that time.”

The episode featured today was first broadcast on September 29, 2014.

Washington guided Greece in bailout talks, envoy reveals

Washington had advised the previous SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government not to clash head-on with Germany and to show a willingness for reform in the weeks and months leading up to the July 13 agreement on a third bailout between Greece and its lenders.

A secret telegram sent to Athens by Greece’s Ambassador to the US, Christos Panagopoulos, on July 16 synopsized the relations between the two countries over the previous months. The copy seen by Kathimerini suggests that Washington showed a keen interest in keeping Greece in the eurozone and had consistently provided advice on how the government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should handle relations with the rest of the eurozone.

Washington, for instance, advised Athens to avoid verbal attacks on the German government and to try to create a broad alliance including countries like the UK, France, Italy and Austria. The US made it clear that the coalition would have to convince these countries that it was serious about implementing reforms if they were to then, in turn, offer their support.

Panagopoulos also explains in his note that Washington’s strategy was to stress the geopolitical importance of keeping Greece in the single currency and the need for the eurozone to agree a further reduction of Greek debt. The Greek ambassador suggests that the US government also encouraged the International Monetary Fund to be vocal on the issue of debt relief.

Sources also told Kathimerini that it was Washington who emphasized the geopolitical angle to the Greek issue through NATO. On June 19 NATO deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said a Greek exit would “indeed have repercussions” for the alliance. He told a security conference in Bratislava that NATO was “worried about” a Grexit. His comments came just after Greece and Russia agreed a pipeline deal.

Panagopoulos describes in his telegram that there was frequent and extensive contact between Athens and Washington, including officials from the Treasury and the State Department, during the protracted negotiations that led to the signing of the third bailout in Brussels.

1902-1965 Oktoberfest — Beer. Brats. Lederhosen. — by Alex Q. Arbuckle

On Oct. 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. A huge public festival was held on the fields outside the gates of Munich, including a horse race in the royal couple’s honor.

The horse races were held again the following year, growing the festival into an annual occasion: Oktoberfest.

As the festival grew, it added more and more rides, carnival games, agricultural shows and circus acts.

The signature draw of the festival — beer — was initially offered at a few scattered stands. Those were soon replaced by massive tents and beer halls capable of seating 94,000 people.

The beer served at Oktoberfest must be brewed within Munich and conform to various specifications. In recent years, attendees have downed over 6 million liters of the famous brew.

Today, Oktoberfest runs for 16 days from mid-September to the first weekend in October. It is considered the largest public festival in the world – it has been cancelled a few times, but only for reasons as dire as war and cholera epidemics.

These pictures show some of the many and varied entertainments at Oktoberfest across the festival’s first six decades.

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A dancing bear entertains crowds at the Oktoberfest fun fair.

IMAGE: ULLSTEIN BILD/GETTY IMAGES

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A girl rides a zipline at the Oktoberfest fun fair.

IMAGE: PHILIPP KESTER/ULLSTEIN BILD/GETTY IMAGES

c. 1910

Attendees compare lederhosen.

IMAGE: PHILIPP KESTER/ULLSTEIN BILD/GETTY IMAGES

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An agricultural show during Oktoberfest.

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Sideshow performers opt for tea over beer during a break from Oktoberfest performances.

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Food vendors prepare fish over a bed of coals.

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A reveler feels the beer.

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American service members celebrate Oktoberfest in Neubiberg.

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Local Bavarians share beers with a Japanese tourist.

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Actress Heidi Brühl takes aim in a shooting gallery.

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Oktoberfest carnival workers stress-test a high-wire act.

Two survivors of Charlie Hebdo massacre to leave the newspaper

Artistic director Luz and writer Patrick Pelloux announce resignations amid signs of ‘malaise’ at the irreverent French publication

Two journalists are leaving Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French newspaper whose staff was decimated in a January terror massacre.

Artistic director Luz had said in May that he planned to end his career as a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist. In this week’s issue, he made known that next week would be his last.

Writer Patrick Pelloux said in an interview Saturday he was also leaving, “probably” in January.

Renald Luzier, aka Luz (L) and Patrick Pelloux

Charlie Hebdo mocked religions, including Islam’s prophet Mohammed. Luz drew the cover cartoon – a weeping Mohammed, saying “All is forgiven” – in the issue following the Jan. 7 attack by Islamic extremists on the paper, which left 12 people dead. A second attack two days later on a Kosher grocery store in Paris killed five others. All three gunmen died in clashes with police.

“If I’ve decided to stop writing it’s because … something has ended,” Pelloux told the student radio station Web7Radio. “You have to know how to turn the page one day.”

He said those who escaped the massacre are not real survivors because “a part of us ended with these attacks.”

The paper ignited another uproar recently with a cartoon depicting 3-year-old Syrian migrant Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a Turkish beach, and a sign “So near the goal” – with McDonald’s arches and the Ronald McDonald clown.

Luz responded to the uproar in the paper’s latest edition, saying the cartoon by Riss aimed to mock “our liberal and hypocritical society,” which needed a photo of a dead boy to become aware of the migrants’ plight.

Sales of the irreverent paper rose dramatically after the January attack. But staff member Zineb el-Rhazoui told the iTele TV channel Saturday the latest departures are a sign of a “malaise” at Charlie Hebdo.

Forget mega-yachts — this mobile private island just upped the ante on billionaire toys

Yacht design has gotten pretty extravagant in recent years, but nothing compares to Kokomo Ailand.

More mobile island than yacht, Kokomo is a floating, semi-submersed vessel with a level of luxury that rivals a four-star resort. According to renderings, the “private floating habitat” features multiple decks and amenities, a sky-high penthouse suite, and even a beach club.

The company behind it, Migaloo Private Submarines, hasn’t received any orders yet, but it claims Kokomo can be built to specification — immediately — with existing technology. According to a spokesperson, “the price depends strongly on the clients wishes.”

Keep scrolling to see the renderings for this insane new billionaire toy.

Part massive yacht, part private island Kokomo Aisland has all the trappings of a luxury resort.

Part massive yacht, part private island Kokomo Aisland has all the trappings of a luxury resort.

The owner’s penthouse sits 260 feet above sea level with two elevators, a glass-bottomed Jacuzzi, a private beach club, and ocean views.

The owner's penthouse sits 260 feet above sea level with two elevators, a glass-bottomed Jacuzzi, a private beach club, and ocean views.

Eight engines allow the mammoth platform to chug along at speeds up to eight knots, or about 9 miles per hour.

Eight engines allow the mammoth platform to chug along at speeds up to eight knots, or about 9 miles per hour.

One of the most exotic features is the jungle deck.

One of the most exotic features is the jungle deck.

It includes palm trees, vertical gardens, and even waterfalls.

It includes palm trees, vertical gardens, and even waterfalls.

There’s also a spa deck with a gym, massage parlor, and beauty salons.

There's also a spa deck with a gym, massage parlor, and beauty salons.

The garden deck is reserved for outdoor dining and lounging.

The garden deck is reserved for outdoor dining and lounging.

The real draw is the beach deck, replete with multiple pools, barbecue areas, underwater dining, a shark-feeding station, and an outdoor cinema.

The real draw is the beach deck, replete with multiple pools, barbecue areas, underwater dining, a shark-feeding station, and an outdoor cinema.

Designed with infinity pools and and private balconies, the VIP and guest deck is under the beach deck.

Designed with infinity pools and and private balconies, the VIP and guest deck is under the beach deck.

A helipad allows easy entry and exit to the island.

A helipad allows easy entry and exit to the island.
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