Posts tagged ‘Brad Pitt’

How do you mend a broken heart: Fly to Bhutan

If there’s one thing the A-list values in a vacation, it’s anonymity. Bhutan, a deeply spiritual kingdom in the heart of the Himalayans, didn’t even have TV until 11 years ago. So needless to say, the average Bhutan resident wouldn’t know Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves from George Smith from Muskogee, Oklahoma. Unless you’re a reincarnated Buddhist monk, nobody in Bhutan would even think to ask for your autograph.

Called the Land of the Thunder Dragon, this extraordinary country that’s geographically cut off from the rest of the world also appeals to people mending from heartbreak. It’s where Demi Moore came after she and Bruce Willis broke up, where Richard Gere came after his divorce from supermodel Cindy Crawford and where John McCain traveled after going down in defeat to Barack Obama.

It’s also not a cheap place to visit. You have to really want to go there. Although you won’t be trailed by groupies or cameras, you do have to consent to being “hosted” by a Bhutan tour guide and pay the minimum $200 per day. Those who experience this unspoiled Shangri-La say it’s worth every penny.

For one thing, Bhutan knows what’s important. Instead of measuring GNP (gross national production that every other country uses to gauge its success), Bhutan keeps taps on its GNH (Gross National Happiness). Until 1962, there wasn’t even a national currency, let alone telephones or roads. The entire country is non-smoking, fashion is irrelevant (everyone wears a tunic) and people here still believe in spirits, demons, ghosts, yetis, angels and reincarnated saints riding flying tigers.

Its raw, natural beauty alone makes it worth the trip. Let’s just say an aisle seat would never do on a flight into Paro, Bhutan’s only airport.

As for the very–important GNH, it was introduced by the country’s fourth king who was inaugurated in 1974. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck knew that mere economic success doesn’t necessarily translate into a content and happy society. His innovative success measure was also an effective way to ensure that the country’s gradual modernization doesn’t disturb its Buddhist spirituality or its deep magical beauty. Evidently, it works. On a 2008 census, 95 percent of residents reported they were deeply content.

To find out more about this thin-aired land that’s straddled between ancient and modern worlds, contact

Jolie-Pitts help long-time friend in Namibia

Brad and Angie made headlines early this month when they donated $2 million to the N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary after spending Christmas with Marlice and Rudie van Vuuren, owners of the 10,000-hectare Namibian sanctuary.

It wasn’t the first time Angelina has come to the aid of Marlice who she met in 2002 while filming “Beyond Borders.” Marlice, a staunch wildlife conservationist, provided the vultures for the 2003 thriller co-starring Clive Owens.

Marlice, a beauty just like Angelina, has supplied animals for more than 30 films and ads. After becoming fast friends with Marlice and Goeters, Marlice’s domesticated cheetah, Angelina asked to help in her wildlife rehabilitation.

The Harnas Wildlife Foundation where Marlice grew up (it was started on her parents’ farm in 1978 after a maltreated vervet monkey took up refuge, the first of a long line of orphaned and abused animals) needed $200,000 for fencing that would help turn the cattle ranch into a nature preserve.

At that time, the Pitt-Jolie’s spent several days on the sanctuary, falling in love with the stark landscape, the wide open spaces and the noble work the Vuurens were doing. They even decided to give birth to Shiloh in Swakopmund, Namibia, a move scoffed by some critics.

Christmas 2010 was chosen as the perfect time for a return visit, not only so Shiloh could stay in touch with her birthplace, but so the family could enjoy some down time at the sanctuary’s beautifully-designed lodge with floor to ceiling plate glass windows.

The kids spent several days hanging out with a three-legged cheetah named Lucky (Lucky rides in Marlice’s VW Golf and starred in ad for the German car manufacturer in 2009), and a menagerie of big cats, baboons and wild dogs. They helped Marlice and five-year-old son, Zacheo, feed orphaned baby baboons and foxes, watched Rudie stitch up a wild dog, visited the San school on the farm and even watched a leopard released back into the wild.

Marlice and Rudie, a rugby star turned doctor, started N/a’an ku sê, which means “God Will Protect Us” both to preserve African wildlife and to provide a “safe home” and livelihood for the San people, Namibia’s original inhabitants. Marlice grew up with the local Bush people (she’s fluent in their language) and, together with Rudie, maintains a school and free health clinic. Lifeline Clinic at Epukiro provide healthcare to more than 3500 patients.

To find out more on N/a’an ku sê, click here.

Big week for Budapest star gazing

Not only is Angelina Jolie in the Hungarian capital working on an unnamed film (it’s her directorial debut) about a Serbian man who attempts to rescue his Muslim lover from a Bosnian POW camp, but the Budapest edition of Robert DeNiro’s Japanese restaurant Nobu had its grand opening.

Paparazzi hoping to snap photos of Angelina and her brood lined up at several of Budapest’s luxe hotels (the Kempenski, the Corinthia and the art nouveau Four Seasons, to name a few), but the savvy mother of six rented a 10-bedroom villa on 8.6 acres in Hegyvidek, a gorgeous garden-filled suburb far from media eyes.

She enrolled Pax and Maddox in an exclusive private school in Mariaremete where Pax allegedly has a Hungarian sweetheart.

Brad joined Angelina on Friday, flying in with the twins, after filming scenes for his upcoming “Moneyball” in Boston. He has been spotted riding the streets of Budapest on a shiny BMW motorcycle and even accidentally zoomed up to meet his family at the wrong house, not that the neighbors minded.

Robert DeNiro, of course, was also in Budapest this week for the Eastern European debut of Nobu, the Japanese restaurant he started with celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa. Jeremy Irons was also in attendance and although Brad and Angie were invited, they either snuck in the back door for quick nibble of Nobu’s famous yellow-tail sashimi with jalapeno (as some reported) or they sent their regrets.

Either way, Budapest is buzzing this week with paparazzi.