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Why We Love Honolulu's Chinatown

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Worlds away from the kitschy tourist zone of Waikiki and the rural surf paradise of the North Shore, Honolulu’s Chinatown has recently become the center of the city’s arts community—bringing with it the requisite cafes, music venues and even a whiff of the cool kid aura that permeates other bohemian enclaves in the rest of the country. Of course, you won’t be mistaking the neighborhood for Williamsburg, Brooklyn or the Mission District in San Francisco anytime soon—and that’s a good thing. Like many things in Hawaii, the area is a unique blend of local Asian-American and immigrant cultures, with a dash of edge mixed in (it was formerly the city’s red light district) and its downtown location gives it just the right amount of urban grit, albeit with palm trees and 80-degree tropical weather.

Here are a just a few places (both new and established) that are worth a visit:

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The Sweet Life in Saint Germain

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Saint Germain just got a little sweeter—joining La Patisserie des Rêves, Pierre Hermé, Pierre Marcolini, Ladurée and la Maison du Chocolat in the immediate vicinity of Le Bon Marché is Hugo & Victor, a new concept launched by two childhood friends, pastry chef Hugues Pouget (formerly of Guy Savoy and Ladurée) and Sylvain Blanc (formerly of Le Printemps).

The idea: Treat sweets a little bit like fashion, with capsule collections based on seasonal ingredients. The architecture by Francis Krempp is a mix of classical and modern (windows set in the wall, like at L’Eclaireur); the “Hugo” line is a series of contemporary pastries, the Victor line is made up of classics.

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The Perfect Bag for the Perfect Vacation—Down Under

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Steven Alan, the man responsible for the proliferation of plaid shirts throughout New York and, increasingly, around the country, recently took a break from his day job. He went to Australia, in fact, to soak up Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef. It was the Perfect Vacation—one that you can take, too—with an itinerary crafted by Tourism Australia in collaboration with Virgin Airlines. And from it, he designed the Perfect Bag—a leather and waxed cotton carryon with rope detailing (and, yes, some signature plaid cotton lining the exterior pockets) inspired by his experience Down Under.

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Hermes' New Scent Inspires Travel

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I have a crush on Hermes. Anything enclosed in that orange box with brown ribbon will be a part of my life a long time. I know that is a lot of pressure for the French brand started as a saddle enterprise in 1837, but the allure of Hermes and their timeless, chic products are the very definition of posh understatement.

I discovered their classic fragrance, Eau d’Orange Vert, while staying at the Hotel Bristol years ago, before staying at expensive hotels while attending the fashion shows became de mode. Bottles were given out as in-room amenities, and I still have some of those little soaps perfuming my linens. Scents were not something I was drawn to but this one was, and still is, delicious. And so I became addicted. And I'm happy to report Hermes has introduced a new fragrance that evokes Travel. The scent, for both men and women, is appropriately named Voyage d’ Hermes.

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Finally, TSA-Friendly Beauty Products!

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OK, OK, we're a bit giddy over 3floz.com the genius new high-end beauty site (it launched today)—and for good reason. Founded by friends, co-workers, and longtime travel companions, Kate and Alexi (below), it only sells products that are TSA acceptable (small enough to carry-on in those transparent little plastic baggies we frequent travelers hold so dear).

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Italy Lovers Say 'Ciao' to the Bronx

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After much prodding by a Bronx-born friend, this past weekend I finally checked out the borough’s Belmont section—a.k.a. Arthur Avenue, named for its main drag—and finally understood the hype. Teeming with pizzerias, pastry shops, and seafood merchants, this former immigrant neighborhood is a slice of old Italy. Whether you’re a New Yorker or a tourist, Arthur Ave. an authentic, distinctive, and tasty NYC outing. Plus, I’d wager a few thousand lire that it’s one heck of a Valentine’s Day destination (hint, hint).

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As we grazed on fresh olives and cheese at the charmingly old-school Arthur Avenue Retail Market, my friend and I stocked up on imported Italian ingredients, everything from dried bresaola to hand-rolled fettuccini. I dream nightly about the creamy, caramel-y fromaggio Prima Donna that the affable Mike’s Deli guys urged me to sample.

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Best Travel Gadgets from CES 2010

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Trekking through this year's Consumer Electronics Show in the vast Las Vegas Convention Center, every three steps seemed to bring another new e-book reader; tales of 3D's impending invasion; or glimpses into the not-so-distant future of home automation. But we decided to venture away from those cliché categories and take the exhibition aisles less traveled. Good thing we did. Because T+L discovered 10 truly game-changing gadgets to help you better enjoy your journeys.

SLIDESHOW: Best Travel Gadgets from the Consumer Electronics Show 2010

This first handful of products represents some of the very latest, coolest and smartest innovations and trends. This second handful of products represents different twists on how we do video on-the-go...See the slideshow and prepare to be wowed!

Guestblogger Scott Tharler is a gadget, gambling and travel expert currently based in Biddeford, Maine.

Geared for Winter

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On a recent journey to Iceland, I discovered 66° North. Named for the island’s Arctic latitude, this rugged outdoor clothing line is a favorite of Icelandic explorers, mountain guides and the Olympic ski team, competing in the 2010 Winter Games at Vancouver next month. While climbing around glaciers, riding horses in the highlands, and fishing on a long-line day boat off the Westfjords, I wore a black weatherproof Esja parka ($456). My first hoodie! So what if I looked like Kenny from "South Park"?

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The Best-Travel-Jacket Wars (Cont.)

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That’s me and Harley, just back from a stroll around Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’m wearing the Rebound jacket from Nau, which I plan on taking everywhere I go because it’s the best travel jacket I’ve ever worn. The main reason it’s so great? Packablity.

With all due respect to T+L's International Editor Mark Orwoll and his Quantum Jacket from ScotteVest, I have found the best travel jacket for me: the Rebound by Nau.

Nau, a sustainable urban and outdoor apparel brand based in Portland, Oregon seems to be on the path to fulfilling of one of my life-long desires. I have always wanted a jacket made of a material no thicker than a quarter inch that changes its insulation factor depending on whether it is 62 degrees or minus two (space-age dream, I know, but someone will do it).

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Burritos, Dim Sum, Shopping in San Francisco....Airport!

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I'm a huge fan of flying United to SFO—the PS flights are my favorite. Another enticement has sweetened the deal: SFO's Terminal 3, the United terminal, has some terrific new food and shopping options.

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