Friday, February 29, 2008

One night (or three) in Bangkok

One of the things I like best about Hong Kong is that it's easy to get from here to there. Just a few hours by plane can take you to some exotic places. Take for instance, our weekend excursion ...

Three short hours and we were out of the gloom of winter and beside the pool of The Four Seasons in Bangkok. While The Four Seasons is usually a splurge, this location is surprisingly affordable and comes with the five-star service that earned the hotel its reputation.

When we got the urge to journey away from our lounge chairs, here's where we went:

Manohra Cruise -- Brian audiably moaned when I told him that I reserved a dinner cruise, but it turned out to be a great way to orientate ourselves with the city. The cruise is aboard a huge, teak, rice boat where a five-course meal of traditional Thai dishes is served. Along the way, you'll wind past famous sites like the Royal Palace, Wat Arun and even the Boathouse of the Royal barges. Dozens of similar dinner boats troll the river at night, but none are as nice. The Manohra sets a romantic stage with tables spaced far apart, dim candle lighting a served meal, not a buffet.

Ayutthaya -- When I heard Ayutthaya was a World Heritage site, I had to go. The city, which was the Thai capital for hundreds of years, features dozens of wat temples that were once covered in gold before the Burmese ransacked the capital.

Ayutthaya is a good hour from Bangkok, but it's easy find tour companies for the trip. Most will first bus you to the Royal Palace at Bang Pa-in, and then on to Ayutthaya. Our tour took us back to Bangkok via a leisurly river cruise and included lunch (a buffet).

Faces -- Modern meets traditional in this trendy restaurant/lounge/spa. In both the Indian and Thai restaurants, much time was paid to each detail in the room. Take for instance the large buddha in La Na Thai. It isn't cheap for Bangkok, but it is chic and tasty.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hiking in the shadow of the urban jungle

Since Peru, I've had the itch to hike. Then, I read that one of the ten best urban hikes (according to Time Magazine) was right in my own backyard: Dragon Back.

The online guides I found mentioned that the entrance was not easy to find. They were right. My advice is take a taxi towards Shek-O; jump out at the sign for the creamatorium; and then walk up the stairs towards the prison. (I can't believe these are directions on how to start a hike, either). The road near the prison leads you onto the trail.

The hike isn't a difficult one, but you do get some great views that put skyscrapers in the distance at odds with rocky seacoasts.

In all, it took about an hour to hike to the end of the trail. We then caught a bus into Shek-O and had lunch at the popular Chinese/Thai restaurant in town. If it's a nice day, take your swimsuit so you can hit the beach right there in Shek-O.

There are plenty of buses from town that you can catch back into town.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Lan Kwai Fong is a bar/restaurant area of the city. It's kind of where you end up (even if you didn't mean to) on the weekends when you are an expat in the city.

You'll see all kinds of things on this street ... even Elvis!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Shopping wears me down

Clothes Shopping: Some stores only carry up to a size US4, and they actually have a size negative 2. Even when shops have my size, the style is usually for a waif figure. Everything is a tunic. Or the pants are too short.

Why shouldn't a tall,Western girl wear Asian styles, you ask? I went to my yoga studio wearing a new tunic and was given a pass to the pre-natal yoga class - I wanted to go to Hot Yoga. I wore my gym clothes home and threw the tunic out.

Shoe Shopping: I was told by a sales clerk who just LOOKED at my feet that they didn't have my size shoe. I don't know what's more embarrassing: having sales clerks notice how big your feet are or being stared at in disbelief when you actually do ask for your size. (I'm a 9.5 for the record).

I don't know how much more shopping my ego can take!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ten things I miss about NYC already ....

10. The diversity of people … nothing compares.
9. Crazy street people. They add a lot of color to the city.
8. Salad bars. Fresh vegetables just aren’t popular here.
7. Access to the arts. As a visitor to NYC you can entertain yourself for months just by checking out the cultural arts/theater scene of NYC. Not so much here.
6. Big wide sidewalks. There are so many people here and the sidewalks aren’t big enough to fit us all.
5. The pace. People walk soooo much slower to and fro. It’s annoying
4. Yellow taxi cabs. There are a lot of cabs here, but they’re red.
3. Bodegas … although there are 7/11s everywhere!!
2. The old fashioned architecture in buildings. Really, most apartment buildings are big and butt ugly.
1. The attitude.

OK, enough lamenting, time to find out what Hong Kong is all about. Here. We. Go.