Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paradise Dynasty - a meal to remember!

For our recent Singapore weekend, I carefully made selections for some well appointed meals in restaurants that we loved, and also left some meal times "free" to explore and try interesting places we might happen upon unintentionally. We were lucky enough to find this great place that I feel compelled to write about - it's a must!

On our second day, hubby and I were wandering around Ion Orchard at lunchtime and were getting hungry. As I had left this particular mealtime "free", we walked around on the 4th floor looking for restaurants that we might find interesting. From afar we noticed a huge crowd of people mingling infront of a specific outlet and of course that piqued our curiousity. As we went in closer, we found it was a Chinese eatery called "Paradise Dynasty", famed for its 8 coloured/flavoured "Xiao Long Pao" ( Chinese dumplings with soup inside ). The queue was so long but we knew that the longer the queue, the better the food must be ( one of our all-time no-fail ways to select a restaurant when travelling )!! We took a number and settled down for the wait. It was well worth it!

Settling down for the wait...check out the computerized queue system! Very well organized indeed!

As we waited, we checked out the menu and the signage detailing the various colours and flavours of Xiao Long Bao - they even had instructions as to which order to eat them in to maximize enjoyment! While we were still in line, hubby and I had already decided to share one order and immediately began negotiating which flavours we each wanted - I ended up with Foie Gras, Cheesy, Szechaun and Black Truffle.

Love the colours and the instructions!

We finally got a table after about 20 minutes, and ordered the signature Xiao Long Pao along with some other accompanying dishes. The food came quickly and did not disappoint!

The famed 8 flavours! 

Had to order my favourite string beans with spicy pork - a must for me whenever I find it on the menu!

A truly enjoyable meal and one that I would love to repeat on my next visit to Singapore. Coincidentally, when I got back to Bangkok I found that Paradise Dynasty has just opened a branch here at the Paragon Shopping Mall  as well - so I will be able to enjoy the unique 8 flavours of Xiao Long Pao easily whenever I want! yumss!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunny Singapore and the Gardens at the Bay!

Hi everyone! Last weekend hubby and I took a short break to Singapore - one of my favourite weekend getaways for shopping, eating, and catching up with good friends. I used to work in Singapore ( a long long time ago!) and ever since, I have always felt a strong connection and find every excuse to go back for a visit when possible. Also, a few of my nearest and dearest friends live there so its always great to meet them for a delicious meal and fun times whenever I am in town!

This time we stayed at the Grand Park Orchard and I have to say, this hotel gets my vote hands down for location. It's right on Orchard road, opposite from The Mandarin Gallery and Paragon shopping mall - perfect for popping in and out to drop off the masses of shopping bags accumulated after a long day of intense shopping in Orchard's numerous shopping malls! The hotel itself is trendy and modern but still quiet enough that it feels like a respite from the ultra urban Orchard road.

Our Premiere room at Grand Park Orchard - hubby is enjoying it!

On this visit we decided to visit the newly opened Gardens on the Bay which is located right by Marina Bay Sands. Its kind of a indoor/outdoor botanical gardens with lots of flora and fauna attractions. I wasn't sure what to expect and although I'm not a big fan or expert of trees and fauna, I admit I was impressed and enjoyed it alot! We visited one of the many attractions, The Cloud Forest, which is a huge dome spanning about 7 floors with a central "mountain" of trees, plants, flowers and all kinds of beautiful fauna. At the entrance of the Cloud Forest there was a huge waterfall that flowed from the top of the dome. Stunning!

The entrance to the Cloud Forest with a massive waterfall that spanned about 7 stories! love it!

Once you are inside the dome, you can take a lift right up to the top and slowly walk down the various levels, which they have designed as a kind of "skywalk" where you get the feeling that you are walking in the midst of the sky and clouds. I was impressed with how well designed the walkways were - but I am super scared of heights so I had to hold on tight to the handrails while we were walking along the skyways up high! Here are some shots of the walkways taken from the ground upwards. 

Looking up towards the sky walkways high up above within the Cloud Forest.

Being afraid of heights, I wondered if I would be able to brave the walkways!

Another view of the sky walkways high high above.

Some sights along the way....

Curious looking plants...

Hubby was interested in this specimen!

We made it to the top by lift! Now we start the long descent down via walk ways!! 

Even though the walkways were sturdy and strong, I was nervous to be so far out from solid ground!

Carefully and slowly making my way down...while clutching onto the handrails...

Notice how everyone stayed away from the netted middle section!

Finally we reached the indoor Crystal cave ! From this level you can take escalators down to ground level. Thank goodness!

There were numerous other fun and educational attractions at the Gardens at the Bay, but we didn't have a chance to enjoy them all as we had to get back into town for lunch. This calls for another visit back, and soon!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A few of my favourite things ( part deux )

Hi everyone! Lately I have been feeling nostalgic and abit wispy and when I do, I gravitate automatically towards things that make me happy and give me comfort. I decided to continue my "favourite things" series and talk about one of the things that always gives me a warm and peaceful feeling - Yankee Candles! 

I have loved Yankee Candles since my East Coast college days and I remember going to the Yankee Candle Museum in Deerfield, Massachussetts, where they had every single yankee scent ever produced. My idea of heaven! What I love about Yankee Candles are the scents and that they can really fill your home with yummy delicious smells that are so inviting yet are never overwhelming. When I am home I almost always have a Yankee Candle lit and it just brings such a festive and warm atmosphere to the day. I especially love the fruity and spicy scents that remind me of fall and winter in New York and Boston, and some of my most loved scents are Farmers Market, Autumn Wreath, Cranberry Chutney and Macintosh. 

Nowadays, living in Thailand makes it harder to get Yankee Candles. Some Dept Stores here do carry Yankee Candles, but the pricing is so high and the selection is so small. During my recent trips to the States I found a solution to my Yankee Candle obsession - I found a delivery service that ships items to Thailand. Of course I got so excited and immediately went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to stock up on a few of my favourite scents!

My collection of Yankee Candles  from the States! 

Have a wonderful day and I hope you enjoyed the post!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bahama Mama!

While we were planning our trip to USA, hubby and I wanted to go somewhere new and fun. I have never been to the Bahamas before, and although hubby had been before during his college spring break years, we have never been there together - so, essentially, it was a new place to try. We decided that after visiting Atlanta, we would take a short flight down there for a few days. 

Because it was my first time going to the Bahamas, I wanted to stay at a place that  had alot to see, do, enjoy and eat, and somewhere where we could chill out and relax (chillax?) as well. After reading numerous reviews on Expedia and Tripadvisor ( my gurus for all my trip planning!! ), I decided that the Atlantis was the place to try! The Atlantis is great because besides being having a huge water park and a really amazing aquarium, it also has a choice of 5 hotels within the resort so you can really choose which one suits what you want most.

We finally made it to The Atlantis! This is the Royal Wing which is the main part of the hotel  - Stunning and enormous!

Out of all the hotels within Atlantis, I chose The Reef which is a service apartment/hotel and is located on the far end of the resort with a private beach. It was peaceful, quiet and private and yet a mere 5 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the main Royal wing that houses the casino, aquarium and shopping. Perfect for people like me who don't want to be too far from the action, yet like a little peace and quiet time as well.

The Reef's private beach  - beautiful and truly exclusive!

I have to admit, although I love the beach and the sea, I have a love/hate relationship with the sun. When I am at the beach I always have my massive sunglasses and sunhat on, and am sure to always reapply my 80 SPF sunblock - just about every 10 minutes! Having said that, it's a testament to how great the Atlantis waterpark is that I actually spent hours upon hours every day playing in the water park,  actually enjoying it! They have this ride called the River Rapids where you float along in a huge water wheel and cruise down huge waves and rapids - I went on the River Rapids everyday, at least 3 times a day! They also had their famed slides - you can see the picture below - which were like amusement parks rides! Although I didn't have the guts to try any of the big slides, I had fun watching as people sped down at breakneck speed!

I think this one was called the Drop of Doom or the Tower of Terror - either way, the closest I got to it was enjoying the screams of people as they spend downwards! Too terrifying for me for sure!

Another one of the Atlantis' most popular slides! Although this was a little tamer than the "drop", it still was too much for me - yes, I am a chicken, totally!

Aside from all the fun and games, hubby and I enjoyed all the good food at the Atlantis as well. There were a great number of really good restaurants within the hotel and in Marina Village, an outdoor shopping village, which also had a great lively atmosphere and live music in the evenings. 

Hanging out at Ben&Jerry's at Marina Village - a must for staying cool in the heat!

At the Marina Village there was a dock for many private luxury yachts  - hubby had fun just walking around peering into them! In the evening the owners of the yachts would sit on their decks sipping wine - lifestyles of the rich and famous indeed!
 I can't write a post about food without posting this picture of Veal Saltimbocca at Carmines in the Marina Village - this is one dish! Can you believe the size? We ordered one between the two of us and even so,  delicious as it was, were not able to finish it! 

Am I starting to sound like an advertorial for the Atlantis? I really hope not. I enjoyed the resort and anyone who knows me knows that when I really like something I become its biggest advocate. Aside from a half day snorkelling trip out to the reefs and an hour walking along Bay Street doing some local shopping, we didn't leave the hotel at all in the 3 days we were at the Bahamas. We had such a great time and alot of it had to do with actually being at the Atlantis. Two thumbs up for sure!

One last glimpse before leaving - truly a sight to remember. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you are enjoying my vacation posts!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Loving Atlanta ( part 2 )

After such a great time at the World of Coca-Cola, my next stop in Atlanta was the Georgia Aquarium, which was conveniently located just opposite! Although I am not an expert on sea animals, fish or any type of aquatic life, I always find it so calming and mesmerizing to just sit and observe them as they swim so gracefully and effortlessly - in fact I could watch them for hours on end, which is why I love to visit aquariums! The Georgia Aquarium is definitely of world-class caliber and I would say its worth it just to go and watch the huge whale shark swimming majestically alongside manta rays and other exotic species in the enormous Ocean Voyager exhibit. Here's the whale shark in the picture below - magnificent, right?

Isn't this a most amazing sight? I could stay here forever!

Another one of my favourites were the Beluga Whales - I love how they look like they are smiling all the time  - they seem so good natured and friendly!

Loving the friendly Beluga Whales!

When I visit aquariums, jellyfish are also on the top of my must see list - don't these look so exotic and mystical? I can't remember what type of jellyfish they are but I do remember seeing a sign saying that they are poisonous and a sting is toxic enough to kill a person!

So pretty, yet so lethal!

Sadly, we didn't have that much time at the aquarium but it was definitely a visit to remember. I really hope to  return to Atlanta one day and spend more time there! Thanks for reading and I hope you liked the pictures!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Loving Atlanta (part 1)

This trip to the US brought so many new experiences, one of them being my first visit to Atlanta! Hubby had a few days of work there, so for my first stop in the US trip, I flew in to meet him. I really didn't know what to expect of Atlanta but I have to say I really loved it! There was so much to do and see, it was a whirlwind of fun which passed by way too  quickly.

We only had a few days there so I had to narrow down the list of places I wanted to see, and I was adamant about having to visit my first two choices - The World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium!

Our first stop !

We decided to make a day out of it as both places were right next to one another, and we went first to the World of Coca-Cola where the first things to greet us at the entrance were giant Coke bottles decorated in unique and fun colours and patterns to represent different countries and places. I loved them and wanted to take them home with me! We walked through a huge room where were thousands of Coca Cola paraphanelia pieces - everything you have ever seen in Coke advertisements, billboards, and commercials, including some really beautiful vintage collectors items. 

I couldn't resist a picture with the huge Coke bottles!

The first room with so much to see - all about Coca Cola!

The different Coke Bottles were everywhere along the tour , aren't they  cool?

We learnt so many interesting facts about the history of Coca-Cola .

The tour itself was so much fun and informative and took us through the history, and yes, the actual "world" of Coca-cola and how the drink and company has evolved through the decades. At the end of the tour there were drink dispensers where you could sample every single drink made by Coca Cola from all over the world - this was our favourite part! We tried different drinks from Brazil, Chile, China, and just about every country! Each country has its own variation on soft drinks so it was fun to try the unique flavours - talk about a sugar high! 

So many soft drinks, so little time! We loved this part of the tour - and of course, got a sugar high from all the samplling!
We had such a great time and I really hope I get the chance to re-visit the World of Coca Cola again!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A few days in Hong Kong and Macau ( Part deux )

Onto the Macau part of our trip!! Once in a while on our HK trips we like to cross the hydrofoil to Macau and its always great fun. We normally stay at the Venetian Macau, which is a whirlwind of people, shopping, eating, gambling - it's like an amusement park unto itself! But this time we decided to try something a little different and I booked a room at the Four Seasons instead. The reviews on Expedia and Tripadvisor were so complimentary and the hotel is connected to the Venetian through an indoor walkway so the bustling activity was still close by.

When we got to the Four Seasons, I was blown away and couldn't believe it was situated in the center of Macau! The hotel is so discreet and peaceful and has none of that touristy gambling vibe at all. It is luxurious, elegant and quiet which I really liked. 

                                                       The Four Seasons Macau entrance

All the reception staff were so nice and even though it was only our first time there they were kind enough to upgrade us to a Deluxe Room which was so big and had a nice dining/pantry area. The Guest Relations Manager brought us up to the room and explained everything so carefully and in detail - the service standards are really superb there.

Isn't the room lovely? It was so spacious and the view was wonderful - we saw all the new hotels on the Cotai Strip. I highly reccommend this hotel if you like a little peace and quiet but still want to be close to the casino action - its just a 1 minute stroll to the Venetian, yet the atmosphere here is totally diffferent. 

While in Macau of course I had to visit one of my all time favourite eating spots - Lei Garden! There are various branches of Lei Garden in Hong Kong and Kowloon but this time we were so busy we didn't have time to visit any of them. Luckily for me, there is a Lei Garden in the Venetian and I was determined to have my favourite dishes while we were there! They didn't disappoint!

There are many truly delicious dishes at Lei Garden, but two of my can't misses ( and two of the most fattening dishes there too, I'm sure - sigh.... ) are the Honey BBQ Pork and the Crispy Pork. I am embarrassed to admit that I am able to finish one dish of the crispy pork all by myself! It's cut into such convenient little bite size squares and is accompanied by a mustard dipping sauce which gives it a little zing - completely addictive!

Lei Garden's famed Honey BBQ Pork

My favourite Crispy Pork - I couldn't resist eating 2 pieces before taking this shot!
After eating so much, we had to burn off all the calories by walking walking walking along the Cotai Strip where the new mall is opening up - so new that many of the shops weren't even open yet. They look like they would be great for shopping once everything opens and there is a vast selection of restaurants - more good food to choose from!

Love the fauna inside the Cotai Strip Mall!
We had such a good time in Macau and being at the Four Seasons was so relaxing - I am looking forward to returning again soon! The new hotels opening up on the Cotai Strip bring new flavour and a new atmosphere to the entire area - its really becoming the Las Vegas of the East. 'Til our next visit!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A few days in Hong Kong and Macau (Part one)

I just came back from a few exciting and fun days in Hong Kong and Macau and as usual, all I did there was shop and eat. I love Hong Kong for a quick weekend getaway because its a mere two and half hour flight from Bangkok and its so convenient with so much good food! This time, we stayed at the W Hotel in Kowloon (our first time there) and I have to say I loved it. First off, the location is perfect. It's in Elements Mall so there is plenty of  easy access to shopping and good food, and the airport express stops right at Kowloon Station which is right below the mall - soo convenient! Secondly, the hotel itself is so nice - it manages to be both modern and trendy yet the rooms are super comfy and cozy at the same time. For the most part, I just wanted to laze around in the hotel room and didn't even want to leave to go shopping - and that's a first for me!

This is the lift hallway which was designed to look like a library with bookshelves and lamps, with the lift doors in between. It was unique and charming, I couldn't resist taking pictures! Do u see me in the mirror?

Can you spot the lift?
As I said, the room was modern and yet cozy at the same time and our room had stunning views of the harbour. Oh and another very important factor that won my heart - the amenities were from BLISS and were exceptional! I loved the lemony moisturizer and got addicted to the conditioning rinse - totally another bonus. Two thumbs up totally.

You can't see the view from the picture but the window looks out onto the harbour, giving us wonderful views both during the day and at night! Loved it all and can't wait to go back again soon!