Thursday, September 1, 2011

By the swimming pool in Tokyo



Good evening from Tokyo. I spent much of today with my MacBook Pro on my lap and my Blackberry beside me, but happily I was on a lounge chair on the rooftop poolside deck of the Tokyo American Club. In the late afternoon at the end of a Japanese summer, which is comfortably warm but not hot, there's truly no better place to be than this hallowed place of recreation with a fantastic view of Tokyo all around.

NO RECESSION HERE

It's a pretty depressing recession in Japan right now, but inside this club you'll be hard put to find traces of a slump anywhere. I walked through the parking lot and it was like a beauty contest for cars and SUVs as every single vehicle parked was new and expensive. I'm not even much into cars; but it just so happened that the latest model of the one vehicle I happen to covet in this whole world happened to be parked right outside the basement entrance of TAC. So I took a second and then a third look. It's the perfect weekend driving vehicle between Tokyo and Mount Fuji, and one of these days I just might give in to that temptation I've been holding off for so very long.

Meanwhile, in the club restaurants, perfectly coiffed ladies who lunch and trophy wives sat around with their expensive handbags, waiting for the kids and making chitchat. But up on the rooftop, there were more guys actually; and they and I sort of cornered one area of the rooftop further away from all the commotion in the main pool, and we all sat around not talking to each other but punching things into our Blackberries and mulling things in our heads. And I was answering emails in real-time on my computer and looking at the wonderful nine-course degustation dinner Gaita Fores has prepared for TRAVELIFE Italy Night on September 8, besides.

DON'T MISS TRAVELIFE ITALY NIGHT
Call 8138400/ 8922620 or email travelife@travelife.biz
to reserve a limited seat now

Gaita, with lots of input from Alex Lichaytoo of Bacchus Epicerie, has made a truly scrumptious degustation dinner with three kinds of pastas and oxtail as one of the main courses. I got very hungry just reading through it. This menu, by the way, also passed the very high standards of Madame Silvana Fornari, wife of the ambassador of Italy, who has been very involved in every single aspect of planning for Travelife Italy Night. So between Travelife, Gaita Fores and the Embassy of Italy, you can be assured that Travelife Italy Night will be one truly gastronomic, truly cultural, and truly Italian event.

So there are lots of interesting events going on next Thursday -- in fact, I got three invitations for that night alone, would you believe; so if I studiously went to everything, I would have four events on September 8, including my own Travelife Italy Night -- but I can tell you that Travelife Italy Night has been put together as a real and non-profit labor of love and because of a passion for good food and for Italian culture. There will not be another event like this for a very long time, so please don't miss it if you like food and/ or Italy. We only have a few more places left.

Now scroll down to read about the bodyguard by the pool.


THE BODYGUARD

Back to the swimming pool earlier today. One expatriate guy must have been pretty important because all the while he sat by the pool in his shorts with his sunglasses and his phone, he had a very serious-looking Japanese bodyguard nearby in a dark suit with one of those earphones connected to somewhere that you usually see in movies about the White House. Bodyguards may be more common in Manila among certain people, but they're still a rare sight in Japan, one of the safer places in the world, and especially for expatriates.

HANKERING FOR A WEEKEND AWAY

Then I took a quick break from my computer and took out my copy of the Financial Times weekend edition -- one of the few newspaper editions I read almost cover to cover. The back page of the weekend supplement had the column of Tyler Brule (editor in chief of Monocle; formerly of Wallpaper) as usual, and last weekend's column was particularly entertaining. He wrote about a quick weekend trip to an island off Ibiza which involved a short flight from London to Ibiza and then he chartered a boat to take him to the island.
For some reason, reading this really made me want to go somewhere. Which is really ironic since I'm literally somewhere every week -- it was Malaysia last week and Tokyo this week, for example -- and I'm technically already somewhere now as I type. I live in hotels and airports and my luggages are in a perpetual state of packing and unpacking. But today I got this feeling that I really wanted to get on a plane, check into a nice hotel, have a great dinner and just relax. No computers, no complications, no responsibilities. Maybe just a little Blackberry and Facebook and blogging once a day. In other words, a real trip.

So I looked into my phone calendar and I noticed a weekend had just opened up, as if on cue. Then I began reviewing the possibilities and these were what I came up with: Somewhere near like The Farm in Batangas. Or else a short one-flight trip like Cebu, Palawan, Hong Kong or actually Kota Kinabalu. I was just in Sabah in March, as my Silversea cruise ship anchored in Sandakan for a day, and I'd just returned from Malaysia last week; but today I really felt like getting on a plane and heading for KK on that free weekend.
I also had an invite from my broker in Kuala Lumpur to check out a luxury hotsprings resort owned by the same developers as my flat in Malaysia, and I toyed with that idea as well. Or maybe I'll just do a staycation in Manila.

So which option will it actually be? You'll know soon enough via this blog. And in the meantime, we have our wonderful Travelife Italy Night with Margarita Fores on September 8, and I hope some of you will join us. Good night from the land of sushi.

Join us in Italy this September 8.
Travelife Italy Night
with Margarita Fores


TRAVELIFE Italy Night
with Margarita Fores
and the Embassy of Italy & Bacchus Epicerie
September 8 at Whitespace

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Please call TRAVELIFE at 8138400/ 8922620
to reserve a limited seat
For reservations and information, please contact:
Bernice or Rachel at TRAVELIFE
813-8400/ 892-2620
travelife@travelife.biz



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