Into the land of smiles… Thailand greets all with warm embraces. Each time I go to Thailand, the experience is different. Here is a short picture montage of a few days flying solo in the province of Krabi.

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The theme of this trip? All good things come in bags; especially my daily craving of Thai milk ice tea…. mmmmmm

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Harbin – Land of Ice and Wonder!

 There are no words to aptly describe this journey through the mystical northeastern province of Heilongjiang so I shall let the pictures tell the story. We were lucky to go the first week the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival opened – so the sculptures were relatively untouched and the people, mighty hospitable.

 Huge kudos to the city for hosting us and grand applause to the artists for all their hard work…. Ice, beer and dumplings galore!

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On the vodka express from Beijing with good friends, Marc & John. Sadly, we forgot the vodka but enjoyed the holographic art on the train….

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Good morning, Harbin!…. Was fascinated by the book, Red Star Over China and it was great fun taking this picture with John Foley!

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Night One — the ice park all lite up for us! 🙂

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The world’s most amazing slide…. with about 200 people queuing up. We left to go to the Tsing Tao ice bar….

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Day Two — the snow park! Four to five stories, all built on a lake. We tobogganed down the amazing slide – best 30RMB ever spent!

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Local dumplings together with the local sausage. Amazing influences of both Russia and China together in this little ‘house’ set up to show how locals lived 30 years ago.

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Looking into the bright future of China! 🙂


Ubud – Viceroy Bali for a foodie!

Terraced Villa - gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the coconut plantation. Private and serene...

While in Ubud, we stayed at the Viceroy Bali – a very ‘surf and turf’ type of vacation! What a gorgeous setup there. It was quite magical. I have written a TripAdvisor recommendation for this great boutique property. Something different for everyone, but what gracious service and attention to detail with the hardware. Loved the Ipod docking station, not some tiny portable number, but a large and respectable sound system, worthy of playing my work-out playlist (song one, Lady Gaga!)

Here are some recommendations (from the TripAdvisor writeup) for the food at the famous Cascades! A destination in itself, I was enamored with the breakfast pastries – inhouse pastry chef! No joke. Nearly had them everyday, while the home made yogurt was really something else!

Almond twist, croissant, chocolate croissant and danish. Served with fresh fruit and gorgeous coffee or tea in the morning! Yummy!

Recommendations for food from the writeup:

Fois Grois: Yummy and beautiful with a reduced fruit sauce on the side. Make sure to ask for the ‘sliced’ brown bread to accompany as this is freshly baked for you on request.

Beetroot salad: Fresh and zingy sprinkled with moorish and amazing feta cheese and green leaves.

Indonesian Chicken Soup: They make this spicy or not spicy and it was exactly what I wanted this one night. Light and flavourful with all the right amount of spices (not hot) to get your appetite going. What a joy!

Lamb Rack: Wow and grilled to perfection. The reduced red wine sauce is devine, but they also offer a special mint sauce (not on the menu) which is lovely.

Chicken: This was amusing as our friend wanted to order the ‘chicken dish’ as often in restaurants, no one ever orders it. It came out rolled, moist and perfectly browned. The next day, his wife ordered it again!

Beef Randang: Amazing. Born in a ‘stew’ country, I thought I’ve had my share of good hearty beef stews! This has nothing on Bali, where most of the people are Hindu by religion. Soft and tender, the flavour profile of this dish was layered as only a South East Asian dish could be. I even asked for sambal (the local hot sauce) on the side which gave the dish a bit of kick.

Eat your heart out! Wonderful stay with wonderful people! We will be back soon. In the mean time, keep innovating! Gorgeous!


Living the dream! Bali. Lombok. Snorkeling. Scootering.

I recently was travelling through Bali and Lombok – a guest in the most lush part of Indonesia! How wonderful is that?

People are beautiful there – gracious, smiley and friendly. We had a fantastic stay – beach side in Lombok and Gilis where we snorkeled, rode in boats and ate copious amounts of seafood. As well as the jungle side via Ubud, the hippie boutique city in the centre of Bali. Who would have thought we had so much to do in 10 days.

Here are a few pictures to wet your appetite:

First Lombok and the Gilis – which translates as ‘small island’ in their Lombok language! Famous for their white sand beaches, it was amazing to snorkel to our hearts content on the three small islands. Saw turtles (many!) and soft coral to die for. Fish like you would not believe and cool clear water. Snorkeling around, it was apparent that the coral reef was suffering from both the extreme storms as well as the multitude of ‘fish bombing’. Large chunks of the dead coral was washed ashore signaling that this was a man-made problem, sadly so in an island relying so heavily on tourism.

Gilis off Lombok... white sand, crystal blue waters!

We then set off to the centre of Bali, Ubud, the lush oasis of gorgeousness to visit our friends as the Viceroy Bali. I have written a writeup to be found on TripAdvisor. Do rate the review if you have time! What joy it was to find Ubud so friendly and cool. The altitude is ‘higher’ then the rest of the island and as you can see, the vegetation is amazing thanks to the local volcano which provides nutrients for the soil. While most people are farmers, tourism is one of Bali’s top trades and they take it to heart. The island’s sophisticated hospitality standards are a tribute to the Balinese.

Not to forget, a big thanks to our mates, Anthony, Dewi and Elizabeth who showed us the local side of Ubud and Bali! This is after a 3 week business trip to Oz – whew! Fabulous island, great fun and amazing sites, including Monkey Forrest, the Rice Terraces, the Water Temple (amazing!!!!) and some relics and statues from kings…

Interestingly, if your village community has an ‘attraction’ which brings in money to the family, it is an obligation of that family to contribute some of the money towards the communal areas and temples of the village. Walking around Bali, it is very apparent who does well. The sites are world-class – such as the rice terraces below which were historically owned by one family.As with most traditional community societies, the temple is the centre of every village.

Rice field terraces - amazing and lush in Ubud

Offerings at the temple for full moon. A religion society, Bali is prominently Hindu and shrines can be found dotting the landscape.

Ku De Ta - paradise on a beach with a fab band... Sun downers with great mates - party central!