Monday, April 11, 2011

On top of the world in Bangkok



We at Travelife Magazine, the Philippines' leading travel and lifestyle publication, must be among the luckiest people in the world, to be constantly on the receiving end of all kinds of incredible experiences. And there's not one morning that I wake up taking this fact for granted.

Last night, we were having dinner on the beautiful terrace of the Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo, one of Sri Lanka's finest hotels and perhaps the most romantic restaurant in the country. It was a truly enjoyable evening of good food and conversation, that ended with a one-for-the-road drink at a party on the private beach-side terrace of the hotel general manager's apartment. There was no more fitting way to end our very eventful and fun week of work and some play in Sri Lanka.

THE MOST ROMANTIC PLACE IN BANGKOK

Then tonight, here we are in another amazing city for another wonderful dinner in another gorgeous hotel. We're in Bangkok and we've just had dinner on the 51st floor rooftop of the ultra-luxury Banyan Tree Hotel, after sitting around the presidential suite for a bit of sunset viewing. The Vertigo Restaurant and Moon Bar of the Banyan Tree Bangkok has got to be the most romantic setting in Bangkok. And tonight was a most perfect night of cool but gentle breezes and a starry night with the city all around us.

7 COURSES IN 7 RESTAURANTS IN 1 NIGHT

Dinner tonight at the Banyan Tree Bangkok was different from almost anything we've had so far -- in spite of a lifetime of eating out practically everyday. We had a seven-course meal that involved having one course in each of the hotel's seven restaurants. This enabled us to taste the best of each restaurant -- and each of the Banyan Tree Bangkok's restaurants is extremely well-rated -- and to have seven different dining experiences in one night. I've had lots of fancy dinners in my life, but this has got to be among the most memorable in terms of enjoyment and gorgeous settings.

DISCOVERING THAI WINE

To describe each of the seven courses in seven venues -- each with an amazing view of Bangkok -- would be quite tedious, but let me write about the three I liked best. We began a first round of Thai appetizers at Saffron, Banyan Tree's very famous Thai restaurant. Saffron's Thai appetizer sampler included grilled chicken satay, crispy fried shrimp and fish cakes, and a pomelo with soft-shell crab salad. To wash this down, we had a 2010 Syrah "Sakuna Rose" Gran Monte from the Asoke Valley of Thailand. Yes, Thailand. After having kare-kare with a very highly-regarded Chateau Palmer 1999 last week, which is another deviant of a wine-and-meal combination by the way, here I was drinking Thai wine in Bangkok. To our surprise, it was very good and it went so well with the food. In fact, we liked it so much that we asked for a bottle to be brought to our next venue, which was the Baiyun restaurant.

Now the Baiyun Chinese restaurant is one of Bangkok's best Chinese restaurants, and it is beautifully decorated. Here we had a tasty soup of black chicken and ginseng broth, which we continued to enjoy with our Thai wine. I also ordered a pot of special oolong tea which was prepared for me with a lot of elaborate procedure on a made-to-order Chinese tea table.

THE ULTIMATE SCENE STEALER

Finally, the piece de resistance was one of our main courses: a roasted wild salmon fillet which we ate very slowly while taking in the simply breathtaking view from the best table in Vertigo, Banyan Tree Bangkok's rooftop restaurant on the 51st floor.

I've been to a lot of rooftop bars and restaurants all over the world (one of my favorites is the rooftop bar of the Four Seasons Mumbai) but this one is quite something because it's right smack in the middle of Bangkok -- and you only get to appreciate the massiveness of this metropolis from this vantage point. The food too was very good, and we had such an enjoyable time that we just had to order a couple more drinks before calling it a night. We were told that the two most popular cocktails in Vertigo and its adjoining bar Moon Bar are the Moon Romance (a blue cocktail made of creme de menthe and melon syrup, that is served in a round glass sitting on a bed of dry ice for special effect) and the Vertigo Sunset (a fruit-based cocktail). So of course we had to have these two drinks, which certainly put us in a jolly mood after two bottles of wine.

So we ended our Sri Lanka journey in one fabulous location, and began our Bangkok odyssey the very next day in another amazing venue. Just another week in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful, TRAVELIFE.

And tomorrow, it's a spa day with one of Bangkok's master therapists followed by an afternoon with a personal shopper. Life can hardly get better.

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