NEW YORK-BASED designer Jon Koon has always been a businessman. He made his first million at 16 with a customized and imported auto parts business and now he's designing luxury streetwear for his label Private Stock.
Koon knows the importance of a getaway, which for many designers, is a source for inspiration. "A true getaway for me is traveling somewhere that I have never been before, and typically a location that is less travelled and rarely seen by most. I always get this huge sense of discovery and inspiration whenever traveling to more remote locations," Koon says before retelling of an adventure getaway to the Liannan Mountains.
The Getaway: "One of my more memorable getaways was a hike into the Liannan Mountains in Guangdong China. The Liannan Mountain are mostly undiscovered and the nearest roads are approximately 75 kilometers away. On the top of the mountains there is village known as the village of 1000. Approximately 1000 people have lived on the top of these mountains for over 1800 years. These people have evolved over generations without contacting regular society."
Vacation Ethos: "Traveling has become a way of life. But traveling and vacation are two completely different terms for me. I travel for work and I don't necessarily have to travel anywhere to go on vacation. A true vacation for me—two weeks of the year—whether locked up at home away from all communication or travel to somewhere completely foreign and new to me is mandatory for me to feel mentally healthy and fulfilled. I believe the mind needs to get away sometimes in order for it to move forward and expand. I never set a time of the year. I feel spontaneous vacations to new random locales makes the entire experience more interesting."
Where to Stay: "I stayed at Liannan International Hotel, which is owned by my good friend and also the only international hotel in the town. The hotel is near the base of the mountains. From there a 45-minute 4x4 truck ride takes you to where the hike trail begins. A comfortable six-hour hike will take you through the town and back down."
What to Do: "Hike the mountain, take photos, visit with the local people, eat local dishes, watch the local performances and folk dance, shop for local stones, and jade jewelry, view waterfalls, visit old temples and pagodas."
Insider Tip: "Eat dinner with the locals. I had the opportunity to watch a local family cook and eat with them. The experience was amazing to see the mountain people cook with primitive tools. All the ingredients are found within and around the mountains. Food and eating is very important to Chinese culture, and to eat with the original people in the traditional style and setting was a life changing experience."
Pro Packing Tip: "Be comfortable, bring sneakers, and most important is to bring a camera—the views are breathtaking and absolutely mystical at all angles. Bring your own water and dry foods—in case the local mountain ingredients don't agree with your stomach. The Liannan mountains is not your typical luxe get away, but for me the luxury is found in the experience, the visual effect, and the cultural enlightenment that I found on this adventure are priceless."
Shop Like a Local: "There is no commerce at all. Shopping consists of local hand made items for utility—such as tools and clothing. Down on the base of the mountains there are some jade jewelry wholesale markets, where some amazing pieces can be found, but best to go with a jewelry/gemologist professional."
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