Top 10 Sensational Nature Staycations in Asia

Top 10 Sensational Nature Staycations in Asia

It’s safe to say at this point, with what’s been going on in the world, when you can’t even tell what day it is anymore or if time is even passing with how long you’ve been bound to the four walls of your home, it’s still well and good to have in mind where you can go to for your next break from city life.

In this issue, Top of Asia shares its random list of the top ten nature getaways in Asia where awe-inspiring nature together with comfort give you a break that you will never forget, be it just for a change of scenery or a break-away from the hustle and bustle of life. 

Pulaithree Retreat, Kuala Kubu Bharu, Malaysia

(Photo Courtesy: Pulaithree)

Tucked in a rainforest atop a private hill in the Titiwangsa Mountain Range, and situated near the rustic town of Kuala Kubu Bharu in Malaysia is where you’ll find PulaiThree, a cosy and stylish villa designed with an open-shed concept and a deep respect for the environment. This 2-bedroom hideaway offers a picturesque view of the emerald green forested mountains beyond the beautiful town. Take the time to cool off in the tranquil pool, and when night falls, head on to the open platform as you enjoy a peaceful dinner with the full kitchen and outdoor barbeque area.

(Photo Courtesy: Pulaithree)

 

Elephant Hills, Thailand

Elephant Hills is Thailand’s first luxury tented jungle camp situated in the Khao Sok National Park, part of southern Thailand’s largest stretch of primary rainforest in the Surat Thani province. Their signature Elephant Hills Tours are reminiscent of the safari camp idea of African national parks with the spectacular tropical evergreen forest environment of southern Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park. Elephant Hills comprises two camps, Elephant Camp, the main camp, and the floating Rainforest Camp, both housing spacious, waterproof glamping tents that come fully equipped with all the amenities you’d be accustomed to finding at a regular 4-star hotel room.

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Tiarasa Escapes, Janda Baik, Pahang, Malaysia

(Photo Courtesy: Tiarasa Escapes)

 

Nestled in the cool foothills of Janda Baik in the state of Pahang in Peninsular Malaysia stands a glamping wonderland short of a 45-minute drive from the city. Established by celebrated Malaysian director, producer and actress Tiara Jacquelina, Tiarasa Escapes spreads across 7 acres of majestic trees and fragrant fruit-laden grounds. The award-winning landscape architects at WHZ Environmental Design worked with the existing ecosystem to beautifully balance natural elements to furnish the area with 20 luxurious safari-style tents and 5 treetop villas, creating a charming space for corporate and intimate retreats, destination weddings and special events.

(Photo Courtesy: Tiarasa Escapes)

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The Rainforest Ecolodge, Sri Lanka

The Rainforest Ecolodge was designed to preserve and provide a sensational experience of the forest habitat in all its glory. Thriving on a five hundred-acre division of the Enselwatte Tea Estate bordering the South-eastern side of the Sinharaja Rainforest, the environmentally-friendly alfresco room, observation deck, lounge and meeting room form key components within each unit. Guests can also enjoy the spellbinding view from any part of the lodge.

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Treeful Treehouse Resort, Japan

(Photo Courtesy: Treeful Treehouse)

Located in Nago City, the northern part of the main island of Okinawa, Japan is Treeful Treehouse. Inspired by the concept of a “Sustainable Treehouse Resort”, the treehouse is supported by a living tree and legs based on an independent foundation, with one of our treehouses built on the side of the Genka River. This is all done strategically to ensure that nature’s creatures are undisturbed. The resort also promotes and acts on creating a sustainable society by not using fossil fuels but using electricity instead, and producing more electricity with solar energy than used. Kitchen waste is used as compost and used as fertilizer in the field.

(Photo Courtesy: Treeful Treehouse)

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Secret Paradise Resort & Turtle Sanctuary, Phillipines

Secret Paradise Resort & Turtle Sanctuary is perfectly situated between Port Barton’s Marine Park and Sabang’s world famous ‘Puerto Princesa Subterranean Underground River’, voted one of the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature.’ This getaway is also special for being an accredited Turtle Sanctuary by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and is a partner of WWF-Philippines. Turtle Bay marine sanctuary has promoted the protection and increase of beautiful corals, tropical fish and sea turtles for the last 12 years, and operates with a vision and mission of protecting endangered sea turtles and the surrounding large nature reserve.

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Kingfisher Ecolodge, Laos

(Photo Courtesy: Kingfisher Ecolodge)

Kingfisher Ecolodge is a perfect retreat situated just outside the Ban Kiat Ngong village in Pathoumphone District, Champasak Province, Southern Laos, and in access to some of the last remaining elephants in Southern Laos. The Xe Pian National Protected Area, soon to become a national park, attracts its fair share of visitors as it’s in view of an array of birds and other nature-dwelling creatures.

Like a number of retreats featured on this list, Kingfisher Ecolodge is dedicated to ensuring everything operates as sustainably as possible with its location. As a single-use plastic free lodge, every room is equipped with refillable bottles and a refill station is open to all guests. Hot water is supplied by a solar panel heating system, a vanity unit, tea and coffee and a spacious veranda complements a luxurious lounge for a relaxing stay.

(Photo Courtesy: Kingfisher Ecolodge)

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Malihom, Balik Pulau, Penang,  Malaysia

Malihom is a homegrown retreat tucked away in a 40-acre private estate in Balik Pulau, Penang. Open to the public since 2009, it offers two types of accommodations that one can choose from. Its signature Hilltop barns  will have you spending your days in rice barns made of teak wood.

The Foothill homes, an old artist-in-residence turn into a co-living home for families or groups, is an Airbnb-style accommodation perfect for a close group of 5 to 6 people, and is equipped with a kitchen, BBQ pit and outdoor patio, while bathroom is on the floor above. A special treat about this residence comes in the form of its natural spring. From the water you drink to the water you bath in, all of it comes from this natural-occurring source. 

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Lodges Ekologika on Portibi Farm, Indonesia

A place for a great getaway, and rediscovering nature, Lodges Ekologika situated on Portibi Farm is a place to eat well with friends and colleagues while enjoying the simplicity of how life can be. Part of a reforestation project that mixes available local knowledge, guests have the unique experience to try their hand at more urban activities including farming, construction, and old school kitchen mastery. When that’s all said and done, it’s nice to just sit in the company of one another, digging into local and international flavours and creating a place to share wonderful tastes and stories, while the trees grow up around you. 

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The Sticks, Fraser’s Hill, Kuala Kubu Bharu, Malaysia

You’re probably well familiar with this entry to the list. The Sticks is an off-grid glamping retreat set in a lush Malaysian jungle an hour away from Kuala Lumpur. Featuring 12 unique houses and ‘tendoks’, a stay here will have you getting lost in nature and feeding into your inner daredevil. From white water rafting and paragliding to just lazing in a hammock, you’ll never be bored that’s for sure. And when that’s all over and done with, enjoy hearty home-cooked meals prepared on a flame-grilled barbeque or flavourful steamboat spread to satisfy every gastronomic craving you have during your stay. It’s no wonder many people can’t get enough of this place.

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Malaysian Artist Alena Murang’s ‘Warrior Spirit’ MV Wins Two Awards At IMVA 2021

Malaysian Artist Alena Murang’s ‘Warrior Spirit’ MV Wins Two Awards At IMVA 2021

Sarawak-born singer-songwriter Alena Murang’s music video for her latest single ‘Warrior Spirit’ has garnered international recognition after bagging the awards for Best Asia and Pacific Music Video and Honourable Mention For Best Costume at this year’s International Music Video Awards (IMVA) held in Britain.

The music video, released on 27 May, was produced by the same team behind Murang’s award-winning 2019 music video ‘Midang Midang’ and depicts the ‘strength within’ her people came from a line of warriors and great heroes.

“My great great-great-grandfather Balang Nganud was a great warrior and the community called him ‘the Tiger that floats enemies’ heads downriver’,” commented the sape songstress in a recent statement.

(Photo Courtesy: Warrior Heart / Alena Murang)

 

Upon receiving the awards, the Dayak Kelabit-descent artist expressed her gratitude, stating she felt “incredibly proud of the whole team that put in their time and energy towards this music video” and that’s been a “rough period for people in film and music.”

“So it’s heart-warming not only for having created this music video, but also having received these international awards.”

The unique styling of ‘Warrior Heart’ is attributed to Murang’s cultural heritage, and working with Styllar and other Malaysian designers and craftswomen, including renowned make-up artist Gebriel Padan, really bring out the essence of these traditions.

“We wanted to showcase the beauty of our Bornean cultural heritage amplified by a fashion-forward aesthetic that speaks to the spirit of a modern warrior. I’m beyond ecstatic for the honourable mention from IMVA and I hope the world can appreciate the beauty of Borneo through this music video,” said Saerah Ridzuan, the stylist behind most of the star’s appearances.

Other than receiving accolades from the IMVA, the cinematic video is also a semi-finalist for Best Film at the 2021 Los Angeles Film Awards and chosen as an Official Selection at the New York International Film Awards.

 

Malaysian Artist Red Hong Yi Enters NFT Market With Meme Banknotes Series

Malaysian Artist Red Hong Yi Enters NFT Market With Meme Banknotes Series

Hot off the heels of her internationally acclaimed art piece for TIME magazine’s climate cover, Malaysian contemporary artist Red Hong Yi has announced her mark on the NFT market with the launch of Meme Banknotes. Dropped on June 27, the series is a part of crypto-exchange company Binance’s inaugural 100 Creators programme to launch the Binance NFT Marketplace.

According to a press release, the artist’s Meme Banknotes are a ‘reflection of how meme assets, cryptocurrencies and NFTs have disrupted industries including traditional banking and art galleries.’ The series features a spoof on paper money with redesigns of several international currencies from the Chinese Yuan and US Dollar to the Malaysian Ringgit and Japanese Yen, with the first inspired by the Chinese Yuan titled “Doge the Moon”, a nod to China being at the forefront of the cryptocurrency landscape, and being the first to use paper money as a form of trade.

Collectors can also look forward to Red Hong Yi’s Memebank Exhibition to be held in Kuala Lumpur later this year, showcasing all the physical Meme Banknotes. More details will be released at a later date.

Following the first Meme Banknote’s drop, other Meme Banknotes in the series will be minted and available on the Binance NFT Marketplace over the next five months. Buyers will also have a chance to own the physical banknotes as well as an accompanying copper plate that has been etched with the respective design.

Known as the “artist who paints without a paintbrush”, Red Hong Yi is a Malaysian-born contemporary artist who creates mixed media installations by reinterpreting everyday materials through the accumulation of objects. 

Source : Studio Red Hong Yi Sdn Bhd

Francisca Luhong James Unveils ‘Kampungku’ National Costume And Evening Gown For 69th Miss Universe Competition

Francisca Luhong James Unveils ‘Kampungku’ National Costume And Evening Gown For 69th Miss Universe Competition

Francisca Luhong James, reigning Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 unveiled the ‘Kampungku’ National Costume and Evening Gown at a media preview yesterday in Vogue Lounge, Kuala Lumpur for the 69th Miss Universe® competition set to take place in Hollywood, Florida in the United States on 16 May 2021 (17 May, Malaysian time). 

The ‘Kampungku’ National Costume was created by Malaysian couture designer Carven Ong while the ‘Francisca’ doll headpiece was provided by Wesley Hilton of Borneo Doll. Carven Ong was the designer behind the ‘Peranakan Indulgence’ National Costume worn by Shweta Sekhon, Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 at the Miss Universe competition last year which drew worldwide attention. 

Literally translated to mean ‘My Village’, the ‘Kampungku’ National Costume was inspired by traditional Malay kampong houses that dot the landscape in villages and rural areas across Peninsular Malaysia.

‘Kampungku’ National Costume was created by Malaysian couture designer Carven Ong

Typically made of timber and built on stilts, the kampong house has tropically suited roofs, fenestration features to suit the warm weather and decorative elements. The traditional architecture of these dwellings reflects the craftsmanship and aesthetic elements of the Malay community, and are often built with a modular concept without the use of nails. 

The traditional Malay kampong house evokes a sense of nostalgia as it serves as a powerful reminder of one’s humble beginnings and family roots since many Malaysians might have had fond memories growing up in a village setting before migrating to the city. Weighing approximately 45kg, the kampong house is illustrated in shades of black and white to match Francisca’s batik kaftan dress.

The colour scheme symbolizes the sweet, innocent memory of one’s youth while the motif on the fabric is inspired by Sarawak’s ‘pua’ ceremonial cloth, as well as the Orang Ulu and Malay batik print. The look is completed with a headpiece in the shape of a bicycle, a typical mode of transport for youths back in the olden days.

The colour scheme symbolizes the sweet, innocent memory of one’s youth while the motif on the fabric is inspired by Sarawak’s ‘pua’ ceremonial cloth, as well as the Orang Ulu and Malay batik print. The look is completed with a headpiece in the shape of a bicycle, a typical mode of transport for youths back in the olden days.

The kampong scene is then brought to life in colour, complete with replica chickens and coconut tree when the reverse side of the house is revealed. Matching the scene is a vibrant off-shoulder orange gown representing a stunning evening sunset, and gold ‘kerawang’ wooden beading to reflect Francisca’s Sarawakian heritage.

To complete the transformation, Francisca wears a whimsical-looking headpiece by Borneo Doll featuring a ‘Francisca’ doll with an identical gown and a crown to denote queenly beauty, surrounded by the national flower, ‘Bunga Raya’ made of intricately woven ‘mengkuang’ to symbolise her beloved country, Malaysia. The whole costume and headpieces took a total of three months to complete. 

For the evening gown, designer Rizman Ruzaini was inspired by the legend of the beautiful Princess Sejinjang who is synonymous with Sarawak’s folklore. The Land of the Hornbills is also the birthplace of Francisca who is of Kayan, Kenyah and Iban ethnicity. The ombré turquoise gown was created with Princess Sejinjang in mind, the princess who was turned into an island according to legend.

Designers of the Evening Gown Rizman Ruzaini with Francisca

 

(L-R) Wendy Tan of Nature World (Wescara), Carven Ong, Francisca, Wesley Hilton of Borneo Doll, Datin Elaine Daly

 

Shweta Sekhon, Miss Universe 2019

 

(L-R) Amber Chia & Francisca Luhong James

 

The silver gemstones lend a luxurious and elegant feel to the creation, sparkling brightly as they catch the light just like the grains of sand on the ocean floor. The hourglass silhouette and high slit on the front allow Francisca to radiate confidence as a strong and beautiful front-runner when she walks on stage. 

The Miss Universe Malaysia Organization worked with the following partners in preparation of this final leg of Miss Universe Malaysia 2020’s journey: Wescara in partnership with Malaysia’s renowned international couture designer Carven Ong – designer of the National Costume; Rizman Ruzaini – designer of the Evening Gown; Secrets of Nature – the Official Safety Protection Partner and Sponsor of Francisca’s business class flights; Habib – the Official Jewellery; Jeeves – the Official Dry Clean Sponsor; Shawn Cutler – the Official Hair Sponsor; Amber Chia Academy – the Official Catwalk Academy; and Vogue Lounge – the Official Venue.

Appreciation also goes out to the following supporting partners: Borneo Doll by Wesley Hilton, Packaging Mart, Babel, Esteem Dental, Glojas Smart International Aesthetics, Esthetics International Group (EIG) – Dermalogica & Tisserand, Strip – Ministry of Waxing and La Jung Aesthetic Clinic.

Fans who want to show their support and love for Francisca can vote her into the Top 21 at the 69th Miss Universe Competition by downloading the Miss Universe official app and casting their votes now.

 

This feature was provided by The Miss Universe Malaysia Organization

TOP 10 MOST ADMIRABLE COMPANIES THAT HAVE ACHIEVED UNICORN STATUS IN ASIA

TOP 10 MOST ADMIRABLE COMPANIES THAT HAVE ACHIEVED UNICORN STATUS IN ASIA

When you see the word ‘unicorn,’ the first thing that comes to mind would probably be the beatific horned beast of a many mystical stories. The very term is synonymous with this image of something left to be desired, but unicorns do existin the business world at least.

In this context, a unicorn is a privately held start-up company valued at over $1 billion. Coined by venture capitalist Aileen Lee in 2013, it’s used to represent the statistical rarity of successful ventures, and, as of February 2021, there are more than 500 unicorns around the world, and we have our fair share of them right here in Asia.

In this issue, Top 10 of Asia takes a look at its list of the most admirable companies, (presented in no particular order) that have risen to impeccable acclaim and achieved unicorn status to become heavy-headed players in their respective economies and internationally.

Bukalapak

Achmad Zaky

(Achmad Zaky)

bukulapak

(Rachmat Kaimuddin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bukalapak is an Indonesian-based technology unicorn established in 2010 by technology entrepreneur and then CEO Achmad Zaky, with a focus on helping to create a fair economy for all. Through their online and offline commerce platforms, they aim to provide everyone with options and opportunities to get more out of life. Serving more than 6.5 million online sellers, 7 million Mitra Bukalapak and 100 million users, they have also completed their services, with a B2B e-procurement line named Buka Pengadaan Indonesia (BPI) in 2019.


In 2020, Rachmat Kaimuddin was appointed as the new CEO by Bukalapak founders. Under Rachmat’s leadership, Bukalapak has proven the resilience of its business model that has been able to create social-economic impacts among the people. Last year, Bukalapak recorded an 80% increase in EBITDA and 4 million growth in a number of sellers and Mitra, representing its solid business performance and its existence as a digital platform that gives solutions to people’s needs.

GRAB

Grab Holdings Inc., commonly known as Grab, is a Singaporean multinational ride-hailing company founded by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling with operations in Singapore, Malaysia, CambodiaIndonesia, MyanmarPhilippinesThailandVietnam and Japan. In addition to transportation, the company offers food delivery and digital payments services via a mobile app. It is Southeast Asia’s first “decacorn,” a start-up valued at over US$10 billion).

The idea to create a taxi-booking mobile app came to Anthony while he was still attending Harvard Business School after seeing similar ideas being pioneered in the US. Aiming to provide safer taxi-riding experiences, he launched the ‘MyTeksi’ app in Malaysia with fellow Harvard graduate Tan Hooi Ling in 2012. In 2014, Grab moved its company headquarters from Malaysia to Singapore. The app has gone through a few name changes since its creation, from ‘MyTeksi’ to ‘GrabTaxi’ and then finally settling on ‘Grab’ in 2016.

 

Lazada

Founded in 2012, Lazada Group is Southeast Asia’s leading eCommerce platform with a presence in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Founded by Maximilian Bittner, with the backing of Rocket Internet, the platform was started with the intention of establishing the Amazon.com business model in Southeast Asia. Since 2016, they became the regional flagship of the Alibaba Group, and are backed by Alibaba’s best-in-class technology infrastructure.

In 2018, LazMall was launched as Southeast Asia’s biggest virtual mall connecting shoppers to over 18,000 leading international and local brands. LazMall serves as a platform for brands and sellers to directly engage and create a customised experience for their customers.

OYO Rooms

ADMIRABLE COMPANIES

(Ritesh Agrawal)

Oyo Rooms, also known as Oyo Hotels & Homes, is an Indian hospitality chain of leased and franchised hotels, homes and living spaces that initially consisted of mainly budget hotels when first starting out. Founded in 2013 by Indian billionaire, entrepreneur and recipient of the Business World Young Entrepreneur Award, Ritesh Agarwal, OYO came to be when Ritesh was travelling across India at the age of 17. Having stayed in more than 100 bed and breakfasts, guest houses, and hotels, he came to realize that there was a massive undersupply of affordable and good-quality hotels in the unbranded budget hotel category. In a short time, OYO became one of the fastest-growing and second-largest hotel chains in the world.

 

Tokopedia

ADMIRABLE COMPANIES

(William Tanuwijaya)

Indonesian e-commerce technology company, Tokopedia, specializes in democratizing commerce through technology. Co-founded by William Tanuwijaya, CEO, and Leontinus Alpha Edison, Director, in 2009, it is an Indonesian unicorn along with ride-hailing company Gojek, travel service firm Traveloka and e-commerce company Bukalapak. Headquartered in Jakarta, Tokopedia has been a force that pioneers digital transformation in Indonesia, building an ecosystem where anyone can start and discover anything by empowering millions of merchants and users across diverse marketplaces, logistics, payments and financial technology businesses.

 

SEA Limited Group

SEA is the leading consumer internet company in Southeast Asia and Taiwan that has developed an integrated platform consisting of digital entertainment, electronic commerce, and digital financial services. Founder Forrest Li has served as the group’s Chairman and CEO since its inception in 2009. Headquartered in Singapore, the company operates three businesses: Garena, Shopee and SeaMoney.

Garena, the company’s digital entertainment business, is a global game developer and publisher with a presence in Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Latin America providing access to mobile and personal computer online games. Shopee provides users with a shopping environment that is supported by integrated payment, logistics, fulfilment, and other value-added services. SeaMoney is a digital financial services provider that offers e-wallet services, payment processing, credit-related digital financial offerings, and other financial products.

 

Traveloka

Traveloka is an Indonesian unicorn company and leading online travel company that provides a wide range of travel needs, airline ticketing and hotel booking services online throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. It recently expanded to provide lifestyle products and services, such as attraction tickets, activities, car rental, and restaurant vouchers.

Co-founded by Derianto Kusuma, Albert Zhang and acting CEO Ferry Unardi, the company has established partnerships with more than 100 domestic and international airlines, serving more than 200,000 routes worldwide. It also has the largest direct accommodation inventory, varying from hotels, apartments, guest houses, homestays, to villas and resorts.

 

Razer

ADMIRABLE COMPANIES

(Min-Liang Tan)

Razer Inc., is a Singaporean-American multinational technology company popular for designing, building and selling the world’s largest gamer-focused ecosystem of hardware, software and services. Founded by Min-Liang Tan, the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director, and Robert Krakoff in 2005, Razer is dual-headquartered in Irvine and Singapore and is recognized as the leading brand for gamers in the USA, Europe and China.

Razer began as a subsidiary of Kärna LLC, developing and marketing a high-end computer gaming mouse targeted to computer gamers but ceased operations due to financial issues. Tan and Krakoff procured the rights to the brand following a large investment from Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing and Singaporean holding company Temasek Holdings, creating the current iteration of Razer we all know.

In January 2021, Razer launched a range of high-grade masks designed to allow lip-reading and seeing facial cues when people talk, with LED lights to illuminate the wearer’s face in dark environments as part of the company’s initiative, Project Hazel, to encourage more people to wear masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Trax

Founded in 2010 by Joel Bar-El and Dror Feldheim, Trax is a Singaporean technology unicorn company and world leader in computer vision solutions for retail with offices throughout the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. Their unique technology uses a combination of image recognition, deep learning and data science to turn shelf images captured with mobile devices, fixed cameras or robots into real-time actionable insights. Customers use the company’s computer vision technology to collect, measure, and analyse what’s happening on physical store shelves.

As of Feburary 2021, Justin Beha is the acting Chief Executive Officer, joining in 2018 after Trax’s acquisition of the company he founded, Quri, with Joel Bar-El and Dror Feldheim appointed as Executive Chairman and President respectively.

 

Zomato

Established in in 2008, Zomato is an Indian online restaurant guide and food delivery platform co-founded by Pankaj Chaddah and Deepinder Goyal that achieved unicorn status in 2015 with a billion-dollar valuation which has since doubled. Zomato provides information, menus and user-reviews of restaurants as well as food delivery options from partner restaurants in select cities, connecting over 55 million users to restaurants in 24 countries across the world. Zomato was founded under ‘Foodiebay’, and was renamed in 2010 as Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd.