Shanghai is my very favourite city in China, and I’d even go as far to say that I prefer it to Hong Kong in many ways. As some of you would have read from Joanna’s posts, Shanghai is indeed a city that is full of much yet-unexplored discoveries and is perpetually brimming with energy, and I like to find any excuse to visit. When it’s for work, it’s usually in and out, with hopefully a nice meal or two squeezed in. When it’s play, I often zero in on a few choice destinations. During a recent play visit over a long weekend, I visited my usual fave spots, and explored a couple of new ones.
For any traveller to China, Xi ‘An is a must. But there’s more than just being on the Silk Road and the Terracotta Warriors to get excited about. In this 3,000 year old city, historic sites abound and live in juxtaposition with today’s modern city of 8 million residents. Modern Xi’An consists of one of China’s top universities and a vibrant Muslim Quarter. Historic Xi’An combines a roster of historic buildings (UNESCO World Heritage even) that describe and illuminate life during the time of imperial dynasties as well as sites that mark one of the first cities in Chinese civilization.
Last week, I wrote a little bit about Point Yamu, a newish ultra-luxe property in Phuket opened by COMO Hotels and Resorts. In that post, I said that Point Yamu is my and my wife’s new favourite resort. One of the chief reasons for that is the stunning food. I’m trying my best not to oversell things too much, but I simply have to say that I can’t remember staying in a hotel or resort in which every single meal was as amazing as they were at Point Yamu. To put it as simply as possible, it is — to me at least, right now — the best place in Southeast Asia for an all-inclusive foodie vacation.
Twenty-one years ago, I spent the summer after my freshman year in university working at a beach resort in Phuket. It remains one of the wildest and most fun experiences of my life. That summer, I fell in love with the southern Thai island, located in the Andaman Sea. And for several years after, it remained one of my favorite holiday destinations. Sadly though, as time went by and Phuket became ever increasingly commercialized and congested, and as my favorite undeveloped beaches began to be overrun with gaudy hotels, I lost interest in visiting. Just recently, however, I have discovered a reason to return to Phuket — not just once but again and again. That reason is Point Yamu, a stunning new resort by COMO Hotels and Resorts, located on the eastern side of the island, at the tip of Cape Yamu.
Williams-Sonoma is an enchanting cooking and homewares store, an oasis that induces the buyer with a bit of nostalgia for true Americana. It is filled with beautiful displays of Le Creuset pans to think about making pot roast with for dinner, or baking dishes that call out “take me home and fill me with apple pie”.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Tokyo/Japan, so I was super thrilled and honoured when my friend E invited me to his wedding to the gorgeous H, held last weekend. It took place in the beautiful gardens of Happo-en, and I happily jumped on a plane last weekend to spend a couple of days in the land of sushi, uni, and more uni.
If you live in Shanghai, or have visited often, there is no doubt you have heard of Willy and his popular Spanish tapas restaurant El Willy. Formerly located in the French Concession in an old villa, but now on the glamorous Bund waterfront strand, El Willy is a warm and welcoming place (just like Willy). It’s also very well recognised, having won numerous accolades in local Shanghai media and is also listed in the top 100 Restaurants in the Miele Guide.
It was my son A’s sixth birthday a month ago, and as a treat, the family took a trip down to Margaret River, Perth to celebrate the occasion. He requested to take an excursion to the famous Busselton Jetty on his birthday itself, so the 2km tram ride out to sea was extra special for him. It was a windy and damp day, and after the jetty trip, we were all hungry and in need of some serious warming up. So we hit More Café, a quaint spot in the heart of Busselton town, and was drawn in by the inviting smell of fresh coffee and the wide variety rustic and colourful bakes on their counter.
A couple of weeks ago, the missus and I abandoned our son to go on a babymoon, i.e. a vacation just for us before the arrival of another child (yup, we’re expecting number two to join us at the end of the year or at the start of the new year). We chose, as many regular readers would have been able to predict, to go to Tokyo, our single favourite city on the planet when it comes to eating and shopping. This time, we stayed in Asakusa, a neighbourhood that was completely new to us, and at a relatively new hotel that we discovered through Mr and Mrs Smith, The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon.