collage by monica brand
collage by monica brand
In the western world, red conveys specific associations. It represents love, sex, danger, and aggression- when we are emotional, we ‘see in red.’ Certain environments or occasions reserve it- cherry nails are for power lunches, and crimson sweaters are for nighttime ready. Bold. Challenging. Red is anything but ambiguous. 
In China, it is the color of prosperity and happiness, and can be used to attract good fortune; a red envelope is given as a wedding gift, the color symbolizing good luck.  In Japan, the heroic figure in Kabuki theatre is typically painted with red makeup. In countries like India, Pakistan, and Vietnam, brides wear red on their wedding days. The Ndembu warriors of Central Africa rub themselves with red paint during celebrations— it’s the color of life and health.  In Buddhism, red is one of the five colors said to have emanated from the Buddha when he attained enlightenment. In Nepal and Sri Lanka, bindis are painted in red on the forehead, between the eyebrows- believed to be the place of the sixth chakra, ajna, as well as the location of the third eye.
The body has many portals- modes of transporting, mediums of transcending.  Whether you are headed to a red-hot destination, or settling in for an evening reading by a crackling fire, a ruby lip is the perfect gateway to any adventure. Modern nomads often prepare for travel by word of mouth- so, when we talk about a cardinal red lip, it gets us thinking about our list of top red destinations.
Although the Sanctuary Olonana relies on recycled water and solar power to function, the Kenyan campsite proves itself to be an intimate, luxurious African dream.  Its 14 units consist of billowing beige tents, canopied beds, writing tables, screened windows, and incredulous views of the Mara River.  Explore the nearby Massai villages in the afternoon, and marvel at the traditional threads, the Shaka- a special red cloth particular to the culture.  In the evening, layer hand-beaded Massai necklaces over a burgundy silk tunic and retire to the camp’s veranda to enjoy a dinner of Malindi sole.
Tanzania’s lakes are unlike any others.  During the dry season, the salinity level of Lake Natron increases, allowing salt-loving microorganisms to thrive.  The blooming algae produce a red pigment, transforming the lake into a sanguine pool, which also serves as a breeding site for several hundred thousand flamingos.  Stay at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, a series of stilted tree houses, and enjoy breakfast with a view of a similarly flamingo-rimmed lakeshore.  Point your camera and shoot for a naturally infrared effect.
The Badab-e Surt is a series of formations that have been created over thousands of years as flowing water from two mineral hot springs cooled and deposited carbonate minerals on the mountainside. Found in the Mazandaran Province of northern Iran, the sunset saturated steps can be viewed as a stairway to heaven. The orange, red, and yellow water collected in the travertine terraces is believed to be a cure for rheumatism and skin conditions.  If time does not permit a trip to the East, escape your city by hot air balloon- a vehicle to a self-created paradise.
We love everything about a seaside, sandy-shored sabbatical, but what about a less traditional beach? China’s Panjin Red Beach is covered in Sueda, a plant that’s green during the summer, but changes to a fiery red sea in the fall. Visit in late September, and leisurely stroll across its picturesque wooden bridges, drinking in the rose-colored reeds.
One can enjoy a true changing of the seasons at the Hitachi Seaside Park, an express train away from Tokyo.  The park boasts gardens of narcissus and tulip in spring and nemophila and rose in summer.  With the approach of October, the park undergoes an autumnal transition; the leaves of the Kochia scoparia, or Mexican fire brush or burning bush, convert the landscape from green to vibrant garnet in the fall. Drape a scarf around your neck to watch a musical performance at the open theatre, while taking in the burnt-orange and red hills.
When we think of Arizona, we often think of vast golden plains, scarlet saturated skies, and a feeling of distance.  In welcoming the emptiness we gain the opportunity to reconnect spiritually with the earth- without distraction.  Navajos believe coming into the ruddy caves of Antelope Canyon was once like entering a place of worship.  They’d pause before going in, preparing themselves spiritually and mentally, and this would allow them to leave uplifted by what nature had to offer.  Choose an alternative healing environment by partaking in a spiritual journey at Mii Amo (“one’s path”), a Sedona spa retreat wedged in the red-rock canyon sacred to the Native Americans.
The red cliffs of Hawaii’s Kahekili’s Leap, on the island of Lanai, have been used for cliff diving since the 1770's. It was here that Kahekili, the “birdman” king of Maui, perfected the art of lele kawa- pencil diving into the water without making a splash.  The king tested his warriors, by sending them over the cliff into the shallow water to prove their loyalty and bravery.
Biological wonder Cano Cristales is Colombia’s river “that ran away from paradise.”  Between wet and dry seasons, the Macarenia clavigera plant adds an electric red element to an already visually stunning psychedelic experience.  Bring a pop of paradise to your home with a few crimson candles, or tie-dye drapes for a poppy-inspired oomph.
Returning to this idea of word of mouth, a red lip is the best sort of oral tradition. Slip Tom Ford’s Crimson Noir into your bag for a weekend jaunt to Los Angeles. Lancome’s glossy L’Absolu Rouge lipstick with SPF 12 provides the perfect amount of shade and shine for a Miami beachside getaway.  Stain lips a mourning shade of rosewood for a trip to Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Paris’s Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  Try a magenta matte by Make for an alternative night in London’s art scene.  Pair a chunky sweater and jeans with a smudge of sheer red for a film screening in New York City.  To lighten your carry on, leave the makeup bag at home and pack Serge Lutens’s palette of four red hues, to craft a custom scarlet lip for a stay in Singapore.  
~Susan Brickell

September 2013