Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Emirati Kinda Wedding - 1/2

A destination wedding experience and an ultimate getaway. 

Got an Emirati wedding invites and didn't let it slip through my fingers as it might be the last opportunity I had to experience such wedding. 

That being said, I was provided with 2 nights accommodation aSt Regis Saadiyat Island Resort inclusive of breakfast and any meals/beverages that aren't part of the wedding banquet – all paid by the bride and groom. A life no ordinary person would ever be able to afford.

The Hotel

The beach front hotel is located on the pristine beach of Saadiyat Island and framed by the prestigious Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi. 
St Regis is the most bespoke resort on the Saadiyat Island.
A buffet dinner with the bride and groom and their whole clan, I assumed it was a rehearsal dinner, was held the night before the wedding banquet, the first night on the island. It was set up near the hotel lobby lounge on the 3rd level, conveniently few steps from my room. The thing about dining in a posh place and rubbing noses shoulders with well off Emiratis IS you can't just whip out your phone and snap what's on your dinner plate.

The Room

Alone in the room, the feels of it evoked nostalgic memories of weekend hotel holidays, especially when I wanted a coffee and got no clue how Nespresso machine works, wish I had paid more attention when someone made me a coffee over a Nespresso machine. Anyway, let me tour you around my lavishly appointed room. 

Here comes my comfy bed

Behind the table is a door and a shoe rack facing the cupboard
the telephone desk where I call my Butler service

Below the TV is the mini bar and behind it is a spacious double vanity bathroom; left door to the loo; right door to the tub
the bathroom with Remède bath amenities, from the toilet side, Shower in the middle and Tub at the far end

The bathroom with Remède bath amenities; from the Tub side, Shower in the middle, and Loo at the far end

The Butler assigned to me was kind enough to make me a bubble bath a la St Regis

Had to do this, LOL

View from the bath tub

My room has its own private balcony, offering a glimpse of captivating views of the bluest sea and beyond while enjoying a cup of tea, couldn't make me a coffee coz you-know-why

view from my private balcony

for the love of salmon, I ordered room service

The Hotel Interior and The Beach

Buffet breakfast the best and my fave is located on the level one of the hotel with panoramic view of the ocean and beyond, it features cooking stations where staff await guests' every whim. It has indoors and alfresco options and a very relaxing dining experience with local, mediterranean, international menu... superb choices for anyone's taste to enjoy. Again, the thing about dining in a posh place and....

So let's roam around the hotel and beach, shall we? A certain mystique surrounds the hotel due to the Mediterranean architecture and contemporary interior design...

And I can't get over the hotel's turquoise ocean view... breathtakingly stunning! It was super blue and beautiful out there.

Up next: The Wedding Banquet

Friday, August 19, 2016

Day 3: Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak

We left Bangkok past 7am .Headed to western Thailand - the Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi province. It was about two hours away from Bangkok. The weather was extremely hot and the AC wasn't working, imagine 15 people in a van sweating. 

We reached a pier where they served us coffee and a tiny slice of watermelon, I guess this is the part of the tour package where they mentioned fresh fruit will be served. We had our bathroom break instead while we were waiting for our motorboat. The motorboat took us into the floating market. So we got to get a glimpse and breathe the Thais life along the river. Since we chose to sit in front of the boat, water was splashing from the sides every time the boat picked up some speed. It was a fun ride. 

We arrived at the  legendary floating market, where it seems there were more tourists on a boat than vendors on a boat selling local fruits, foods and products. Everything was pricey so we just bought mangoosten. I believe TR and me were the only ones who bought something while on the boat. 

Our boat took us around before they let us explore the floating market on foot for 45 minutes. We didnt manage to get any because they weren't that cheap. We only had our lunch at a mini restaurant there where we were told the young coconut water costs 50 bahts (it was 40 bahts) but charged us 60 bahts after having it. Nice business!

We left this Little Venice of Asia to visit elephants camp called Chang Puak. Bought ticket to a 30-minute elephant ride around the man-made jungle and canal.
TR and me
Our mahout asked us to pay him 100 bahts if we want him to take our photo (that explains a lot why he hid his face with a hat on photos) so we said no and asked the facilitator instead. 

While riding off, he (the same mahout) asked us to give tip for the elephant (we gave 20 bahts, BTW). The ride left me feeling guilty.. Wish I had fed the elephant instead.

We returned to Bangkok and roamed around the street next to Khao San road before going back to hotel. I managed to buy at least one Thai harem pants. Since we had already checked out in the morning as the hotel did not let us have a late checkout, we only freshened up at the hotel lobby's toilet before leaving to airport. I seriously never felt so unclean and smelly in my life till that day.. LOL

◄  Last Night in Bangkok

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bangkok After Sunset - 2nd Night

On our 2nd night, I had my first ever (!) body massage session, authentic Thai massage at that (no, it's not the one with happy ending, LOL). So soooo relaxing.. I want more.

Tea and mango were served after the massage.

Evening - it was raining but that didn't stop us from walking to Khao San Road, known as the centre of backpackers, dancing, partying, barbecued insects/exotic snacks, market stalls, restaurants, bars, tattoo salons, massage parlours, budget hotels/guest houses and anything goes. It was 5-minute walk away from the hotel.
Khao San Road

We walked, bargained, stared and listened to every different band playing almost right next to each other (it's chaos!) before we decided to eat dinner. We chose the resto across the live music bar to enjoy free music. When we were about to pay, I checked our bill which I normally just pay whatever the total, I noticed that the total has a 100 baht excess. We called the attention of the waitress and the bill was corrected immediately.
At the resto where you should check your bill before paying!

Then we spent the whole night hanging out by the same bar across as they started playing reggae music. Most of the people passing by stopped to dance/listen and some stayed and drink beers. While TR had 3 bottles of beer, I only had a glass of mojito, LOL. We went back to hotel past 1am.
The bar at Khao San Road where we spent the rest of our final night

◄ Bangkok Day 2          |          Last Day in Thailand ►

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Little Time in Bangkok - Day 2: Old and Modern

After breakfast, booked the next day tour then took a tuk-tuk to Grand Palace (believe me, tuk-tuk is not advisable in a sweaty weather).

Another note to readers: Once you are a step away from Grand Palace, just go with the flow till you reach the ticket booth. Don't listen to what the street vendors and people around Grand Palace say, they are nothing but TOUTS who will scare and convince you to buy that expensive piece of cloth to cover your legs and/or shoulders. Ignore them. Trousers/jeans and clothes below the knees are allowed inside.
Let this be a lesson to you guys: Dress properly and appropriately upon entering the Grand Palace premises.
TR was approached by security (or police?) because, every time I click her photos, she kept removing her jacket in spite of knowing the rules that forbade it (Never ever do this inside the Grand Palace or any temple in Bangkok as dress code is strictly enforced). She was wearing a tight/revealing sleeveless above-the-knee clothes. She was given a warning, was asked to show her phone and delete the photo.
Once you reach the ticket booth, pay an admission fee of THB 500 per head. You'll find a FREE map guide of the Palace, in different language, inside. There are 3 ways to move around the Palace, slow, normal, and fast (just follow the arrows, it is color coded). The slow tour/way is probably the stop-and-smell-the-roses-type, a thorough tour of the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha temple which will take at least 3 hours or more. The fast way is probably the whirlwind-romance-type, you'll move around the complex in a great speed without going into too much details.

Because of the scorching heat (I was melting) and large crowds, we went from normal to fast way. . 
The day I visited the Grand Palace was the same day the Chinese decided to invade it. 
After 2 hours or less, we took a taxi to go to "modern" part and went to Platinum mall, as suggested by the tour agent. Spent another two hours staring at clothes, that everyone can probably afford, then bought a few. I can say Bangkok is the place to be when it comes to clothes-shopping. Clothes are really extremely inexpensive and trendy! My kind of retail therapy! Was too overwhelmed and I later realized that I forgot to take pictures while we were there..

◄ First Night in Bangkok          |          Last Night in Bangkok ►

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bangkok After Sunset - 1st Night

Had dinner at some noodle house, 2-minute walk away from the hotel, at about 6pm. I dunno the name as it was written in Thai script but it was located opposite the Regional Office for Asia & the Pacific Food & Agricultural Organization of the United Nations along Phra Athit Road. Bus stop in front of the resto. Anyway the food is inexpensive and tasty spicy and served in a large portion. Wasn't able to finish it.

After noodle-ing, we checked nearby money changers (first one has same rate with the bank = 8.04 and the other one has slight difference = 8.03) and tour packages offered by two different travel agencies before going back to hotel. We rested for a while in the room, planned what to do next day. 

Our original itineraries (Day 1 - Old Bangkok, Day 2 - Pattaya, Day 3- Modern Bangkok) have been changed to Days 1 & 2 finish the whole damn old & modern bangkok and/or decide later. Still upset about being scammed and lost my excitement to explore. I was feeling so down... If I was doing the whole finding-myself-again thing, it was not helping. LOL

We decided to check the rooftop pool. Swam and did a lot of floating on my back, made me relax. Jacuzzi isn't feeling like one. Anyway, TR wanted to go out after swimming for body massage and some nightouts, and I was like okay, whatever. We went back to our room past 8pm. Had shower and started feeling dizzy right after it. Guess it was fatigue and lack of sleep. Was really feeling a bit under the weather like I was going to collapse, so I stayed in the room to rest and recharge for the next day of scam exploration. 
Overlooking the Rama VIII Bridge (a cable-stayed bridge) crossing the Chao Phraya River
Overlooking the Chao Phraya River (the river of kings) - the lifeblood of Bangkok

TR went down and had night out alone. I was still awake when she returned with beer, mojito, instant cup noodles and few stories to tell me. She was already asleep when I started dozing off.

◄ Bangkok Day 1          |          Bangkok Day 2 ►