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Singing the blues

THE recession in Japan has taken its toll on the karaoke business and the #8216;singing sensation#8217; which became a global phenomenon is now hitting the wrong note, writes HANS GREIMEL.

Illegal bargains galore

MARKED poverty triggered by the Asian meltdown has fuelled a burgeoning trade in wild animals in Indonesia, where an orangutan costs less than RM900 and rare birds the price of a meal. Endangered species are threatened with near extinction, and habitats are being torn apart. Yet there is little the government can - or will - do about it.

Exotic and endangered

The Indian star tortoise is a common sight in pet shops. Charmed by the exquisite star-burst patterns on its shell, many pet lovers may be tempted to carry home a specimen or two, little realising that they are feeding a flourishing international trade in exotic - and sometimes endangered - pets.

The best of the lions

What do world champions have to do with mouldy old mattresses? In Muar, ANDREW SIA discovers that they can be strange bedfellows . . .

Georgia on the vine

Tariel Mekhuzla is the chief engineer at the Sagaredjo vineyard, outside the village Kakheti, in the centre of the Georgian wine-growing region. He is responsible for 12 giant vats, six concrete and six aluminium, which represent Surapa's first expansion effort in two decades.

The simple life

Fabulous food,picture-book vineyards, towering forests and quaint towns. SHARIFAH INTAN came away entranced by Australia #8217;s South West.

Feline fragrance

FEMALE cheetahs at the Bronx Zoo in New York just love Calvin Klein#8217;s Obsession for Men. No, they don#8217;t dab their favourite perfume behind their ears, but they do enjoy rubbing up against tree stumps sprayed with it.

Gem of a job

Landing in South Africa looking for love, Wan Abdullah Wan Salleh soon found himself selling gemstones instead. TAN CHENG LI finds out more about the businessman#8217;s sparkling career.

Besieged by new species

THE Hawaiian Islands emerged from the ocean fuming and angry, but nature turned gracious and cloaked the steaming volcanic rock with a mantle of splendour.

Snapshots of change

Senior citizens in China have lots of tales to tell of the upheavals and revolutionary times they lived through and the prosperity they are now experiencing, reports MARTIN FACKLER.