Sunday, February 17, 2013

My best memories of The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok website
One of my "special treats" when I'm in Bangkok with enough hours on hand is to book a spa package at the famous spa of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, which lots of people just refer to as The Oriental.

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I do this, whether I'm staying at The Oriental or not.

I've stayed in almost all the great hotels in Bangkok; but If I have to count the times I've stayed in one hotel in Bangkok vis-a-vis other hotels, I have to say that I've stayed the most at The Oriental.


MY FAVORITE ROOM

Visiting The Oriental two weeks ago made me recall all my fond memories associated with it over the years.

from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok website


Interestingly, my favorite room here isn't actually a suite, but a river-view room in the Old Wing with the room spread out over two floors.

I really like this room for several reasons:

from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok website

One, you have to pass all the loveliest old sections of The Oriental to get to this room.

Two, it's one of the few rooms in the hotel with very large floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the river. I think the rooms here have higher ceilings than the rooms in the newer wing, so you just get a better view overall.

Three, I like the idea of having the living room on the lower floor and then climbing up the stairs to sleep.

from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok website


It sounds like a suite since it has a living room separate from the bedroom, but it's actually not -- within their category of rooms, at least.

A FANCY DINNER AT LE NORMANDIE

Perhaps my best memory of The Oriental involves dinner at Le Normandie, the flagship restaurant of The Oriental, about 18 years ago.

This was way before fine dining all over the world became very sophisticated and very widespread. At that time, Le Normandie was considered the finest restaurant in Bangkok.

It still is, by the way, even if countless other good restaurants have sprung up since then to give it serious competition.

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YO-YO MA, REALLY UP CLOSE & PERSONAL

Anyway, I was in Bangkok on holiday, and the world-famous cellist Yo Yo Ma just happened to be giving a very intimate private concert sponsored by a famous multinational company.



A good friend of mine happened to be the 2nd in command at the embassy of the country to which this famous company belonged, so naturally he and the ambassador were invited as the main VIP guests. This embassy was perhaps the most important embassy in Thailand then.

There were only about 50 guests, and most of them belonged to the top echelons of Thai society. My friend and the ambassador were reserved the center seats of the front row.

The ambassador couldn't make it, so my friend had taken me instead.

JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIES

My friend picked me up from the hotel in a fancy official limousine and he gave me the ambassador's invitation.



This was how I ended up sitting one meter away from where Yo -Yo Ma sat and performed, in the best seat in the house, amidst the glitterati of Thailand, sparkling in all their jewels.

I remember very well how sitting front row and center amidst the royalty and aristocracy of Thailand certainly made everyone in the room wonder exactly who I was.



And I can tell you that being young, having a well-cut little black dress, a simple but nice and tasteful necklace, and decent manners all came in handy.

I can't ever forget that spectacular and yet intimate performance, giving me a first-hand glimpse of the genius of Yo-Yo Ma so early on in his career. He was already world-famous then, however, especially among music lovers.

A VERY SPECIAL EVENING

from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok website
Afterwards, my friend gallantly took me to Le Normandie for a degustation dinner overlooking the Chao Praya, that certainly counted as one of the best meals I'd had in my life up to that point.

He was a big shot in Bangkok then, by virtue of his position as #2 in the most important embassy in Bangkok, and Le Normandie was practically his kitchen. He's a great Francophile and he knew his food at a time when so few others truly did, and when food wasn't just some trendy thing to do.

So we had the best table in the house, facing the river.


I've had many similarly fancy evenings since then, all over the world. But at that time, as a young girl, you can imagine how special that evening was.

That's probably my best memory of The Oriental.

I always remember this dinner, every time I happen to be by the Chao Praya or along the Chao Praya, and I see Le Normandie from the river.

And two weeks ago, looking at The Oriental from across the river, from the landing of the Oriental Spa, I remembered this evening again with a smile.


A NEVER-ENDING TRAVELIFE,
LONG BEFORE THE TRAVELIFE.



As you can see, I've been living a never-endingly eventful Travelife ever since I can remember.

This didn't happen overnight just because we now have a travel magazine.

And this is what makes Travelife Magazine #1 amidst the plethora of other travel magazines suddenly sprouting up.

REAL TRAVELERS, GREAT STORIES



We've been visitors to many of the destinations and customers of many of these places we now write about, for a very long time. And Travelife Magazine is all about real travelers writing great stories. Content really matters to us and we go through everything with a fine-tooth comb.

It's never just a bunch of advertorials culled from press releases or articles based on free trips.

Next time I'll write about my second best memory of The Oriental and what awaited me at The Oriental Spa, living a never-endingly eventful Travelife.




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