Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Escapade to Bangkok



I have to admit, that when my friends asked if I wanted to join on an all-girls' trip to Bangkok, I was rather skeptical. Security may be one of the reasons of course, but there was also the part of planning six months in advance which posed a lot of doubts and uncertainties especially when dealing with a work schedule like mine (well, even with work aside, personal things could come up at the very last minute too).
I am not one for early travel planning or for making booking in advance mainly because my schedule can be rather unpredictable and I like to play safe. At least I could travel with a peace of mind once I have everything under control.
However, I decided to take the risk this time for; it sounds like fun, and besides, I have not traveled with the girls before and Bangkok was one place where I hopped on and off the plane most of the time for layovers or extremely short trips where all I remembered of the city was how the airport looked like, and probably the busy traffic. (I was in the cab most of the time, trying to get to the hotel or the airport anyway).
It was really a spur of the moment thing and to be frank, I was almost caught in last minute changes prior to the trip! Apart from that, I was convinced by my best gal pal who was really like me in lots of ways, who was rather familiar with the city and could help us get through the itinerary planning.

There were news of demonstrations the same week of our trip, but nothing major and we went ahead on the trip. It was a rather good reason for me to catch my breath from the stress piling up to my chin; and I was really looking forward to having a relaxing time; traipsing the streets for interesting sights, do a little shopping and catching up with my old school girlfriends.

Flight food (to be frank, I personally find that Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines serve better in-flight meals than any other airlines I have taken).


Our luggages; not planned but somewhat turned out to be in a rather unique sequence in height =)


It was a short flight from KL to Bangkok; probably an hour plus with our neighboring country (our destination) lagging an hour behind us. The one-hour difference did get us muddled up at times, but it was manageable as we were only there for a couple of days. Besides, the worst scenario would be either sleeping an hour earlier or waking up an hour later, right?

A glimpse of our hotel lobby;  recommended by our 'guide' - Novotel Siam Square.



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This is just a short post as a sneak peek into my trip and will be followed by more posts on the vibrant and bustling city...

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My 3am Breakfast and stay in Novotel Suvarnabhumi

My short trip in Hua Hin ended with me on a two-hours ride out of the county to the airport, where I was to stay for a night for my ungodly flight hour at 6am the next morning. Don't get me wrong, I am, by all means, definitely a morning person, but try this:
Tucking into bed at 11pm and having to wake up at 2am, then have breakfast at 3am to be at the airport two hours before my flight.
That was how I ended up at this hotel in the first place; the Novotel Suvarnabhumi although I was originally booked at the Marriott in Bangkok, but upon hearing my flight hour, my kind Thai colleague helped to transfer me to this hotel to make it easier (and safer) to get to the airport in the early hours like these.

While I still think the flight hours are crazy, it is still a good business opportunity for the airport hotels which are definitely built to serve this purpose. Most of the people are either here due to layover/transit flights and maybe that's what these hotels are known as too; the transit hotels.

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The hotel is fairly business-like and came with all the basic amenities needed for a traveler's good night's rest. While most of their guests may not stay for long here, the hotel still lived up to the expectations and did not compromise convenience with comfort. After all, this is Novotel we are talking about and even with the airport version, it lived up to its brand.
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A good setting to get some work done; yeah, that was how I got to bed late when I am on business trips -  emails, work, presentations!
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My place to put up for a few hours; a couple of hours of sleep and packed my bags, it's time to wheel the bag out again in the odd hours of 3am.
I was thinking of getting to the airport straightaway, when I was informed that they are already serving breakfast in their in-house restaurant.
I was like, "Are you kidding me, it's at 3am?!"

Oh ya, and I was kidding myself when I actually went to check out the restaurant at that hour and even the waiters and chefs were like, half-asleep.
I just sat myself and guess what, if you think I am crazy, there are also patrons at that hour!
I just kept thinking, this must be an illusion, this sounds crazy!
Apparently not, as this seems normal for the frequent flyers (I am one myself already)


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This is by far, probably the most odd thing I have done while traveling, but it doesn't sound weird for I seemed to have slipped into the tradition of having my meals at all odd hours.
After all, we are all in different time zones and we are probably also having our meals at ungodly hours elsewhere, right?
So, no matter anymore.

How about you? What's the weirdest thing you have done, or the weirdest hour you've had your breakfast?

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Hua Hin in a flash and Dining in the hills

Sad to say, besides the luxury hotel in my last post, I was mostly in business meetings throughout my time in Hua Hin and I did not have the opportunity to explore this little town much, though the opportunity came on one evening when our organizers transported our entire team in a convoy-style to breathe in the fresh air from the hills and dining out experience.

My images of Hua Hin were formed from the many slides traveling through my window on the bus; which was like my only window view of how Hua Hin town really looks alike, and mind you, these were captured when the bus was in motion and I was juggling between talking with my business mates and discussing our corporate plans (yeah, the working bug strikes!)
I can't comment much; with that sneak peek that I get of the local neighborhood, which, at a glance does looks pretty peaceful and less touristy compared to the other regions of Thailand.
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Sad that my memories of Hua Hin consist only of these moving pictures in a flash, and I yearn for the day I return for that leisure trip. I can feel it, I will be there again soon *winks*

The bus ride was a long one; and we were busy chattering in the bus that we did not realize that we have transitioned from the soft hues from dusk to pitch dark of the night as the bus moved with its might to drive up the higher grounds where our dining location is situated.
It was a pleasant surprise and indeed fresh air beckoned as it was a vineyard valley with a breathtaking view; if only it wasn't so dark, or that I was using an actual camera instead of my smartphone.
The Monsoon Valley is their own vineyard which covers a rather vast area; though not clearly captured from where we were seated.
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It was an event where everyone is supposed to mingle around, and we were also pleasantly surprised by the awesome hospitality from the folks at the vineyard here as they served us with cocktails, finger food and their locally produced fragrant yet sweet tasting wine which were also on sale at their vineyard store.

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A sneak peek into the dining area - the whole place was reserved by my company I guess; as the waiters were rushing to serve and attend to all of our needs. It was quite a handful already, with the crowd we have among ourselves.


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Garden salad with a rather unique periwinkle colored mousse as the dressing

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Pan fried seabass served with asparagus and in their special stew

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Home made fresh ice cream with their home grown grapes, with the little chocolate tag marking the Monsoon Valley Wines' 10th Anniversary celebration.Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing

I may not have seen everything in Hua Hin, but feels like this was an experience which says everything, don't you think?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Relaxation beckons from the Veranda~

City dwellers know what it is like to be working or living in the city where daily scenes of rushing through crowds and maniac motorists honking and swerving their cars out of nowhere, with blaring city neon lights towering over the hordes of people appearing like massive army of ants from the sky-sweeping city scrapers standing proudly as iconic landmarks. Though the blasting sounds from this familiar scene may just sound like music to the ears, there are days when one just wants to get away from them all; far away to a place where it is all quiet, except, the occasional songs from nature.

A place like, a beach resort, a distance away from the city sounds like the perfect getaway for the everyday city survivor where the images of the soft swaying of the lanky coconut trees amidst the dazzling blue landscape of the sea backdrop and casting the dreamy silhouette is enough to snatch one's attention from the mundane tasks at hand.

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Oh yes, a picture like this says a thousand words and with the many voices in your head screaming, "I wish I am there now" (Trust me, it's normal and you are fine in the head)

While beach resorts are common these days, right in our own backyard in Malaysia which is a tropical paradise herself, there are also many others all over the world and especially so, in our neighboring country, which is quickly rising to international fame for being one of the top tourist destinations - for the island/beach getaway locations set within the borders of her land. I am speaking of none other but Thailand, the rice bowl capital of Asia, and one of the high-ranking countries for tourism known for the great hospitality and the colorful local culture which is just an indefinite crowd magnet of all times.
Thailand may be known to many for the notorious traffic conditions in Bangkok, and the long sprawling streets of the food and clothing in the rising metropolis as many international flights swoop into the hectic yet impressively designed airport, but the capital city shares her limelight with the other attractive locations in the country in vying for tourists' attention, and Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Krabi, are all fast rising to international tourism star destinations in the industry today.

Two hours away from Bangkok, is this quaint little town of Hua Hin, in the province of Cha Am, which is also rising to internationally acclaimed fame for its idyllic beach backdrops, making it perfect for a romantic getaway and also for total relaxation in escaping the hustle bustle of the big cities.
I was there last year, though not for the main purpose of relaxation (unfortunately so!), for a business conference, and like many others, I landed in the international airport of Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok, before being escorted by a private chartered van on a two-hour long drive out of Bangkok to this county.
It does sound like a luxury treat; with the private transportation and the wonderful idea of spending the next few nights in a beach resort, if not for the business purpose I was there for originally.
Of course, I didn't mope for long when I caught the glimpse of my supposed residence for the trip, largely displayed as my van turned into the resort's premises.


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Veranda Resort and Spa, a 5-star award winning luxury resort, was indeed the sight of a getaway and it quickly set my mood to that of a vacation mode and an instant transition (or determination) to relax while I was at work here.
(Perhaps that was the intention of the management, thank you, for the treat and hard work we have gone through. Whatever the reason, I am definitely not complaining).

Like all beach resorts, the design emphasized on the open concept with heavy emphasis on wood, glass, brass and the flow of water through the place. Perhaps it was also in accordance with the laws of feng shui, to increase the qi in the area, or to promote the idea of tranquility through the simulation of natures under the roof. No matter the intended purpose, I think it did the trick for I already felt relaxed as I stepped onto the foyer of their reception area which sets the projection of a tranquil backdrop flanked by the borderless step pools leading to the ocean.
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Located right in front, near to the lobby is the conference room where I will be spending most of the part of my days during my trip here.
I guess they intended for the rooms to be right at the front ; where the main entrance/exit are, to separate and distinguish from the functional (events and work purposes) to the fun under the sun. How thoughtful, and great thinking to be near the main exit for anyone strangulated from the boredom/stress to just run off in the direction (but make sure you have a map of where you are heading to, if you are a foreign tourist. You wouldn't want to lose your way and not make it home)

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Check in process was swift (or at that time of my arrival), and we enjoyed a treat of chilled fruit punches while waiting for our turns.

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The open alley leading to the guest rooms
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A sneak peek into the room; a picture of peace and tranquility in my own privacy is just the perfect treat for me and I just could not wait to just unwind and relax, after my flight and long ride from the capital.
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A well-made bed with pillows (lots of them!) just screams "Jump on me!"
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The bed just looks so inviting, but I still have tons of things to work on first. Discipline and priority...bummer~
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They teach you how it works without bedside tables...
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The Bathroom
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From the Mini Bar
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The interior design of the room, at a glance may strike that pang of familiarity with many beach resorts or luxury resorts but a step outside the room through the sliding glass door to the balcony is what sets it apart; revealing a veranda, all to your private use and facing the flowing waters, is indeed an ideal setting of serenity and distinguishes the identity of the original name of this resort; Veranda.
(However, this is only for those residing in the rooms on the lower floor; but if you are on the upper floor, you still get to enjoy the view of the setting and with more privacy and security with the fenced wooden balcony)
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There is also a comfy and wide couch out on the veranda for those enjoy basking in the sun in their own comforts, or just reading - maybe a little of people/scene watching and appreciation?
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Drying area for the wet swimwear, towels, etc
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I just love the lovely view from my own room; just perfect for lazing in the afternoon with a good book!
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Much as I enjoyed the room, I did a little exploring on my own (out of my room) and wandered around the resort to check out the overall ambiance and offers from this award-winning luxury resort.
The design remained consistent throughout the entire location; with their conceptualization of tranquility through the strong emphasis of water, solid wood, marble and such, flanked by living things (fish) and the thick green bushes and trees sprawled over the place, in its own pride of upkeep.
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Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing Lush greenery decorated the resort; giving it the soft setting of a natural background.
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This place is not known as a beach resort without reason; as the walk leads to the beckoning sounds of the ocean at the end of the walkway.

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The soft movements of the trees by the touch of the flowing breeze just makes a dreamy and romantic backdrop and sets one in the mood to just run towards the beautiful and welcoming ocean with open arms.
Oh, such bliss and what a sight of a paradise!~

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There is also a bar located near the beach; serving the surfers from both the beach and the swimming pool; another sparkling gem of gorgeous diamond blue waters right beside it.
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The verandas of the guestrooms
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The view of the main foyer building

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If you think that it is pretty under the hot afternoon sun, the night scene is not at a losing end either as it is a picture of peace and quiet with the cool hues popping from the yellow light bulbs plopped sporadically across the premises just makes it all the more romantic.
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A rather relaxing atmosphere to put one's mind at ease and retire to bed for a good night's rest~

Overall, this was a beautiful resort I have stayed in Hua Hin and though I have not much to share on touring around the quaint little town of Hua Hin (I hope to do so again someday), the resort promises much more within its walls for a good relaxing weekend in its paradise-like settings.

Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing Price: On the Higher side (this is a luxury resort; 5-star)
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

(This is not a sponsored post, and there is no affiliation/association with Veranda Resort and Spa)