This time around it was in Penang, a place that holds a lot of our fondest childhood memories. Centred around food, it's no wonder everyone thoroughly enjoyed the weekend!
It seems to be a growing trend now for me... a long weekend means another impulsive and last-minuted planned trip to another part of Southeast Asia that I hadn't explored yet. This time around, we were off to Hanoi for 4 days!
If there was one place where Paris meets Chinatown in the chaotically organised way possible, this was it. The colonial European architecture of the buildings with its terraced patios and trellis-walled foliage set the scene, only to be filled with bowls of pho, crazy traffic that only Asians are able to achieve, and humidity out the wazoo.
We bounced back and forth between the two extremes; from brunch at the chic Sofitel-Legend Hotel Metropole Hanoi (where we were greeted with a demure "bonjour!") to Vietnamese coffee and condensed milk at a road-and-lakeside stall, from browsing a made-to-order French perfumery, to walking the grounds of the Temple of Literature.
But my goodness... the food? I'll let the photos do the talking!
Another random evening out and about in the city of Bangkok at the chic, speakeasy-esque Maggie Choo's in Silom.
Its unique 1930's Shanghainese decor, complete with cheongsam-clad, fan-fluttering models posing on swings, and great live music, makes it the perfect place for Ladies Night... though as the evening went on, our group expanded exponentially as friends and friends-of-friends joined in. How we all managed to fit in the intimate, separated vault-turn-lounge room is beyond me!
The design team was given the amazing opportunity to organise a weekend trip to explore the east and west coast of Bali, areas that have not been overpopulated with tourists and that still maintain a large part of its heritage and culture relatively intact.
We jam-packed as many places to go, things to see (and most importantly, food to eat!) as we could in the span of 3 days. Needless to say, we were completely exhausted by the end of the trip, but it was an experience that we would not trade for anything... except maybe to go back again!
I realise that all of my current posts so far have been of everywhere but Bangkok! Perhaps it's time I upload something every once in a blue moon of what goes on here... ergo, the random postings of random things being out and about in the city of Bangkok.
Yes, cue the Murray Head song!
One Night in Bangkok June 2014 - Surprise birthday dinner for Bernie (who unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it - lost her voice) at the Blue Elephant Restaurant
Having one whole week off from work mid-April was the perfect time for me to embark on a crazy jetsetting adventure of meeting up with friends scattered all across Europe. It was simple, really - buy a return flight from Bangkok to London, and then use the high-speed train to get to the different cities on my list. My insane itinerary went something along the lines of:
Bangkok >> London >> Geneva >> Milan >> Paris >> Avignon >> London >> Bangkok
Words and pictures alone cannot describe how amazing this trip was... and how utterly knackered I was once I touched back down in Bangkok on Monday morning at 6am, only to have to trudge my zombie butt to work directly after!
I couldn't help but smile as I put together this little roadmovie... I am really fortunate to have such beautiful, glorious friends - my Jayarezee, Bino, Oli & Keun Woo - thank you so much for hosting me, whether it was just for a 2-hour lunch in Paris, or a night at the house of the Elliot's, ochre boots and all !
(An added bonus being that I'd be able to enjoy all my favourite foods at the hawker centres in Singapore as well!)
Not to sound like a pyromaniac, but a festival about sending lanterns on fire into the sky was something I did not intend to miss while living in Thailand. Known as Yi Peng in Thai, it is a Lanna (northern Thai) festival, which meant travelling up north to Chiang Mai, once the ancient capital of the former Lanna kingdom.
Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, we went on the hunt for the famous Khao Soi, a specialty of the region. It is a Burmese-influenced dish, but instead of using rice noodles, our bowl was filled with crispy egg noodles... not that I'm complaining! Appetite sated, a visit to the Doi Suthep temple was in order, before heading back downtown for an afternoon siesta - or in our case, a massage.
When the sun set, we ventured back out into the city in time for the lantern lighting. Hordes and hordes of people (mostly tourists) filled the streets, lighting, carrying and lifting the lanterns high into the sky (or dodging them if it got astray, which was not uncommon). It was the reality version of the scene from Tangled - simply replace the romantic duet with all-rounded chaos and hullaballoo... you get the idea.
We ducked into a temple to escape from the noise and risk of getting hit by a paper lantern already ablaze, and it was as if we had stepped into another world. There were lights floating on the water, lights hanging from the trees and lights floating in the sky... it was absolutely breathtaking.
Work aside, my brother and sister-in-law are now living in HK with their hyperactive maltese, Caesar, and I was able to spend a couple of days over the weekend couch surfing at their apartment, much to Caesar's delight. Getting together in the Kee family always involves eating, eating and well, more eating, and this was no different. From Peking duck, to good ol' fashioned Dim Sum, to Napoli-syle pizza, to fro-yo... it is probably a good thing I don't live in the same country as my brother or we would have a serious problem.
To top it all off, a Seattle friend that I used to work at Taphandles coincidentally was in Hong Kong that same weekend as me. Ryan was en route to China to visit a factory, and through a friend of his, Christian, who works in Hong Kong, we somehow ended up on a junkboat, spending a lazy Sunday afternoon out on the waters by the island. Pure bliss~
I caught the red-eye flight back to Bangkok on Sunday night; arrived Monday at 2am, crashed for 4 hours before heading to work... seems like the best times to be had are always associated with lack of sleep!
Celebrated my birthday with my ever so loving sister in Ann Arbor, Michigan. An aspiring-cook-but-really-a-PhD-student-in-biomedical-sciences, the beautiful shotokeki (Japanese sponge cake) she made for me deserved some recognition and appreciation by all food-lovers, hence my sharing here!
And yes, it tasted as good as it looks.