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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Shopping with duty-free vouchers at Doha's new airport. And about the wonders of Balqees Sidr Honey



At Doha airport last weekend, on my way home to Asia from Paris, living a Travelife, I had about 90 minutes to kill before boarding my flight.

I also had a bunch of duty free vouchers I was so psyched to spend, having ever so diligently collected these vouchers on two roundtrip flights with Qatar in June and in July.

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A HOLIDAY IN MOROCCO LAST JUNE

In June, the Travel Companion and I went on a holiday to Morocco and we'd passed through Doha on our way to Casablanca.



Doha's new airport had just opened and the business class lounge was not yet fully operational.

It's only been fully opened this weekend, if I'm not mistaken.

So on that trip to Morocco, we were given the equivalent of US$84 each in shopping vouchers as compensation for not being able to use the lounge each way.

VOUCHERS SPENT AND VOUCHERS SAVED



At Doha airport, the Travel Companion spent his vouchers on a lobster but I saved mine as I wanted to buy something substantial with my saved up vouchers.

Then he even gave me the remaining vouchers that he didn't spend on both stopovers in Doha, so I had a nice little pile at the end of our trip.

MY QATAR AIRWAYS VOUCHER WISH LIST



Then earlier this month, I was back in Doha on my way back to Asia from Paris.

So I got a couple of vouchers again as the lounge was not yet ready.




Finally, on this fourth stopover in Doha last weekend, I planned to spend everything on something nice -- like a bag, or a gold bracelet, or a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Yes, I had actually saved enough vouchers for any of these.


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So while I was in Europe, I kept thinking about what to spend my accumulated vouchers on. And out of everything I thought I wanted to buy, I finally decided to get a Samsung Galaxy tablet. 

I did the maths and I had enough vouchers to basically get the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy tablet for free.

IT'S MY LUCKY DAY

But then, lucky me.

The Travel Companion decided to give me a Samsung Galaxy tablet, and so this left me free to spend my vouchers on something else.

Thanks for the Samsung Galaxy tablet, Travel Companion....

I decided to blow all my vouchers on something I ordinarily wouldn't buy with hard-earned cash.

Isn't that what vouchers are for?

A BAG FULL OF HONEY.
BUT IT'S THE BEST IN THE WORLD.


So I spent everything on jars of Balqees Sidr Honey from Yemen, sold at Qatar Airport's duty free shop.

Sidr honey is supposed to be the best honey in the world and Balqees is reportedly the best brand. This particular honey is supposed to be the honey with the highest number of anti-oxidants and it's also supposed to have medicinal properties.

In a way, you might say you're buying a little more good health when you buy this honey.

THE MOST EXPENSIVE HONEY IN THE WORLD

It's also the most expensive honey I've ever encountered. A little jar costs US$40 and the large jar costs US$160.

So, yes, maybe I'll buy a little jar as an occasional treat, but I certainly wouldn't buy an entire shopping bag of honey at a price like that.

In fact, I bought one small jar on my way to Paris and I had one tablespoon full every morning upon waking up for the two weeks I was in Europe. I liked the taste (it's addicting) and I felt it made my skin glow and gave me energy.



So on my return trip from Paris, I decided to spend all my shopping vouchers on Balqees Sidr honey. It was like getting a large shopping bag of the best honey in the world for free. 

Talk about vouchers well spent, especially if it continues to make my skin glow and give me energy.

And now I have enough honey for three years, which is more than enough, even for a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


ABOUT YEMENI SIDR HONEY

The Sidr tree is referred to as the paradise tree in the Koran and it grows in the mountains around South Yemen's Do'an valley in a remote desert region of the South Arabian peninsula. Here, nomadic beekeepers gather this rare Sidr honey only twice a year.

Sidr honey is supposed to be highly medicinal and beneficial for strengthening the immune system and providing anti-oxidants to the body.




Saturday, July 26, 2014

A visit to New Zealand, including seeing the Hobbiton movie set and a cruise through Milford Sound

Travelife GM Angelica Bayona in New Zealand

TRAVELIFE Magazine General Manager Angelica Bayona, who has been with Travelife since Day One and who has flown all over the world for our magazine and television show, recently flew to New Zealand to see the wonders of this remote but beautiful country. 

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*     *     *

Angelica Bayona writes:

"In my never-ending eventful years with Travelife Magazine, I have been blessed to see and experience the cultures of different countries.

I'm practically in a new country every other month, and in a new destination at least every four weeks. Just last weekend, I was in Bohol for a Travelife weekend. Read more about this in another blog entry.

IN NEW ZEALAND FOR A TRAVELIFE


Last month, however, I flew to Auckland for a tour around New Zealand.

I never imagined New Zealand could be so beautiful, with scenic views, abundant greenery and more sheep than people.



I traveled from North to South of New Zealand, and I was able to see God’s creation at its finest. 

From the vibrant city of Auckland to the lakes and glaciers rounded with hills in Queensland, I was really in awe the whole time while, experiencing the adventurous side of the country.

We did so many interesting things in New Zealand.


GLOWING WORMS WERE 
A HIGHLIGHT OF MY TRIP

However, one of the highlights of my trip was seeing thousands of glow worms literally glow. in the dark.

First, we had to take a 45-minute guided tour into the deep limstones caves.

From there, we rode a boat to a venue inside the cave where we could see the glowing worms from above.

NAVIGATING THE LORD OF THE RINGS SET
ON A 4x4



Next, we signed up for a Nomad Safari, where we rode a 4x4 Land Cruiser and literally had a very exciting 4x4 ride within the river.

This enabled us to see some of the scenic spots from the Lord of the Rings.

CRUISING THE FJORDS OF MILFORD SOUND



Another highlight of the trip was the cruise of Milford Sound.

This really gave us a most majestic view of waterfalls, rainforests, mountains and the wildlife while we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch onboard.

And perhaps best of all, we were a mystical view of Alexander Farm, where the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were filmed.

EXPERIENCING THE MIDDLE EARTH



The Hobbiton movie set was truly a magical world.

Here I immersed myself in the world of “Middle Earth” and enjoyed strolling around amidst the fresh crisp winter air.


New Zealand is truly a beautiful scenic county with so much to offer aside, for someone intent on experiencing a wonderful Travelife."

Angelica Bayona was a guest of the government of New Zealand and Pacific Destinationz.

Coincidence and a Tokyo billionaire at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport last weekend. And a villa in St. Jean Cap Ferrat



So there I was last Sunday, at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, living a Travelife and killing some time before my Qatar Airways flight to Doha.

I'd just had two wonderful weeks of a summer in Spain and France, filled with great restaurants, so many memorable moments, and some of the most beautiful hotels in this part of the world.



I LOVE NUXE OIL

Now I was headed back to Asia and thinking about a million things including work and a couple of upcoming trips that still needed to be sorted out.

After checking in, I also made a beeline for the pharmacy at the airport to stock up on one of my new discoveries: Nuxe oil.

More on Nuxe oil in a later post.



I'd been seeing Nuxe oil all over France on my last few trips but I hadn't lifted a finger to buy it simply because I already have too many beauty products from all over the world on my dressing table.

NUXE OIL 
AT THE GRAND HOTEL DE BORDEAUX

But I'd tried it at the spa of the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux and then I bought a bottle somewhere on the trip -- and after using it a few times, I'm completely hooked.


So I just had to buy a few more bottles at Charles de Gaulle airport as who knows when I'll be in France again...

The chances of being in Paris again sooner than later are higher than most people, of course, as I'm on a never-endingly eventful Travelife.

But nevertheless, Paris is not on the cards for the next few months unless something delicious or irresistible comes up to make me book a flight back.

I'm not too difficult to convince about something like this.


A DETOX IN GREECE
AND A WEEKEND IN MADRID

As I write this, I'm actually mulling over a weekend in Madrid, on my way back from a detox-from-everything trip to the Greek islands, sooner rather than later in my Travelife.

But I'll save that for another blog post as well.

In Madrid last September,
living a Travelife...

HEADED FOR THE LOUNGE
AT CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT

Anyway, after making my purchases, I went through the Acces No. 1 line at Charles de Gaulle.

The Acces No. 1 lane is the priority lane for business class that gets you through customs and immigrations in about 1 minute instead of 20 minutes via the regular line.




Then I headed for the lounge as I wanted to get online and send a few emails and post some photos on Instagram.

Follow us on Instagram please.

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SECOND TIME AROUND

I was seated at a table with my customary glass of ice when someone approached and called my name.

What do you know? 

It was an old friend from Tokyo, and the last time I was at Charles de Gaulle Airport in April, I'd actually bumped into him as well.

A BOTTLE OF SALON CHAMPAGNE



Last April, I'd bumped into him at the Duty Free Shops below, as he was waiting for a flight somewhere and I was waiting for a flight to Istanbul.

And he was carrying very conspicuously a bottle of vintage Salon champagne.

Last Sunday, when he walked up to me in the lounge at Charles de Gaulle airport, he said to me: "Have you now made Charles de Gaulle your home? Or are you actually working here and just not telling me?"

A RARE MOMENT OF SPEECHLESSNESS



I have to admit that I was speechless for a few minutes.

Being at a loss for words doesn't happen very often to me in my Travelife, but I was completely taken aback by this chance meeting.

Wouldn't you be shocked?

How could two people who live in two different countries meet twice at the same airport in an entirely different city halfway around the world, in a span of three or four months?

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SHOCK AND HUMOR.
AND A BIG PURCHASE.

Finally I said, without even replying to his question: "What are you doing here?"

He replied, with his usual dry humor: "Waiting for my flight to Tokyo."

I said: "I mean, in France. What are you doing here in France?"

He replied, and he wasn't joking either: "I just bought a villa in the south of France. Near Cap Ferrat."



I looked at him.

He's a very famous and successful businessman who I've known for a long time; and since I moved out of Tokyo, I usually only get to keep track of him via the newspapers.

When I read about him in the international newspapers, he's either doing a deal or making some pronouncement on the world economy.

A VILLA IN CAP FERRAT


And St. Jean Cap Ferrat, which many people simply call Cap Ferrat, is one of the most beautiful places in France, with many amazing villas.

But I teased him: "Couldn't think of anything else to spend your money on?"

He laughed. "It's nothing major," he replied. "Just a regular villa, but it's got one of the best views of the sea."



"For a holiday home?" I asked him. I'd seen some of his other homes in other parts of the world and they're all pretty amazing. And he's not the modest type.

So it was hard to believe he was getting a regular villa as a holiday home in the glamorous south of France, of all places. 

There are many places where you can enjoy a vacation quietly in a modest holiday home -- but Cap Ferrat is not one of them.

RELYING ON A RUSSIAN



He shrugged. "I liked the views, and it's near one of my favourite restaurants. And who knows? I'll probably sell it to some rich Russian for triple the price in a few years."

And before we could go on any further, it was time to board, and I had to say goodbye and head out for another flight in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.