Friday, February 28, 2014

Defying gravity at Wicked, the musical


The other day, in Manila living a Travelife, I finally watched the musical "Wicked."

"Wicked" and I have been in the same city several times; but our paths had never crossed.

I'm not really a Broadway musical person -- so this was never my first pick from performances to watch when visiting New York.

I think "Wicked" was also ongoing once when I was in London -- but London has the most amazing theater landscape and so Wicked went further down in my priority list in this city.

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THE BEST PLACE FOR THEATER

When I'm in London, I try to see a play almost every single day.

When I have to go to dinner and therefore can't book an evening performance in the West End, I go to a matinee.

That's how crazy I am about the theater, that I have to go every single day that I'm in London.



THE RITZ IS PERFECT

And this is why I like staying at The Ritz.

It's a lovely, quintessentially English hotel, and it's a short walk to the West End.

So when Wicked first came on, I didn't even bother to try to get tickets. I wasn't too interested and I was going to be away for most of the time of its performances anyway.



A LONG TIME IN COMING

But a few days ago, the stars aligned.

Someone had tickets and I was free on my last night in Manila before getting on another airplane for another never-ending Travelife -- so I found myself watching Wicked.

A TRULY ENJOYABLE EVENING



What an enjoyable musical this is, and what an incredibly talented cast is performing this show for just one week more.

Go see it. It was such a wonderful way to spend a last evening in Manila.

MY FAVORITE SONG



And some of the songs will forever be in my head.

I especially love the song "Defying Gravity." What a picker-upper of a song this is.

www.youtube.com

In fact, as I write this out somewhere in the world, I'm listening to Idina Menzel's version of "Defying Gravity," using the wonderful earphones I received from Mr. Jaded as a Christmas present last week.

These certainly make me feel like I have a front-row seat at the theater again.


Living a never-ending Travelife, of course...


Words of wisdom from a little airport book bought at Johannesburg airport




On my first trip to South Africa in 2012, living a TRAVELIFE, we flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town after a wonderful safari experience at the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve.

At Johannesburg airport, we went into an airport bookstore after having a very nice club sandwich lunch, while waiting for our flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town.






We were due for a two-hour flight from Joburg to Cape Town, so I was looking for a magazine to read and pass the time on the way to Cape Town

We'd already bought a guide book for South Africa and a driving map, so I wanted something light and funny.

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I found this little book entitled "Age doesn't matter unless you're a cheese." I couldn't decide whether it was too cheesy (excuse the pun) or not, and my other option was the latest issue of Vanity Fair

Ordinarily I would have picked Vanity Fair without a thought, but for some reason I felt like buying this little inspirational book.

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So I bought it and we ended up reading this and laughing about it, when we weren't looking at the guidebook and planning out what to see and where to go in the Cape Town area.

Here are some gems that made me smile.



I live by one principle: enjoy life with no conditions.
People say, "If I had your health, if I had your money, 
I would enjoy myself.
It is not true.
I would be happy even if I were lying sick in a hospital bed.
It must come from inside.
That is the one thing I hope to have taught my children by example:
to understand that life is a wonderful thing,
and to enjoy it, every day, to the full."

- Arthur Rubenstein



There are two things to aim at in life:
first, to get what you want and, after that, to enjoy it.
Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.

- Logan Pearsall Smith



The essence of life is to go forward.
Life really is a one-way street.

- Agatha Christie



Never regret.
If it's good, it's wonderful.
If it's bad, it's experience.

- Victoria Holt




You must learn day by day, year by year, to broaden your horizon.
The more things you love, the more things you are interested in,
the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about
-- the more you have left when anything happens.

- Ethel Barrymore




The longer I live,
the more beautiful life becomes.

- Frank Lloyd Wright




Only of one thing I am sure:
When I dream, I am always ageless.

- Elizabeth Coatsworth




I don't care, frankly, what people think.
I do what I like.

- Julia Childs




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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nahm is the best restaurant in the world for 2014. And Thailand comes out a winner for great food in the S. Pellegrino list.


Nahm restaurant, one of my favorites in Bangkok, has just secured the coveted No.1 spot at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards in Singapore.

I don't go to Bangkok as often as I want, but when I am in Bangkok, I try to visit Nahm each time. Unfortunately I didn't have time for a meal on my last trip.

Nahm was awarded the title of The S.Pellegrino Asia’s Best Restaurant. It was also named The S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Thailand.

The 2014 winners were announced at an elegant awards ceremony at the Capella Hotel, Singapore.

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AN AUSTRALIAN DOES THAI FLAVORS

Nahm, which is located in Bangkok’s Metropolitan Hotel, was opened by Australian-born chef David Thompson, who celebrates the bold flavours of authentic Thai cuisine by reviving and reinterpreting centuries-old recipes of former Thai matriarchs.

The Michelin-starred chef opened a branch of his famed Nahm restaurant in Bangkok in 2010, after the success of his flagship restaurant in London.

BANGKOK'S DYNAMIC FOOD SCENE



Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand said: “The variety of restaurants on this list also shows how much Bangkok’s food scene has changed over the years. The city is now known for many different types of world cuisine and is fast becoming a culinary capital.”

Bangkok’s 
Top 50 Best Restaurants in Asia:

No. 1
NAHM, BANGKOK
The fiery and feisty dishes on Nahm’s menu 
are based on the centuries-old cookbooks of Thai matriarchs.
Metropolitan Hotel
27 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok
www.comohotels.com



No. 3
GAGGAN
Classic Indian food redefined with a modernist twist.
68/1 Soi Lang Suan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Bangkok
www.eatatgaggan.com/misc-location.php

No. 21
SRA BUA BY KIIN KIIN
A modern interpretation of Thai classics from a Michelin-starred chef.
Siam Kempinski Hotel
991/1, Rama I Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok
www.kempinskibangkok.com/sra-bua-by-kiin-kiin/

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No. 28
BO.IAN
With its food philosophy, Bo. lan aims 
to promote the biodiversity of both wild and cultivated produce. 
42 Soi Pichai Ronnarong Songkram, 
Sukhumvit Soi 26, Klong Toei, Bangkok

No. 31
ISSAYA SIAMESE CLUB
A debut entry from Bangkok, 
the restaurant was founded by Thai Chef Ian Kittichai. 
The menu features Thai cuisine 
made with traditional ingredients and flavours 
using progressive cooking methods. 
4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Ploeng Road, Sathorn, Bangkok
www.issaya.com/issaya-index.php

No. 37
EAT ME
A popular venue where 
modern, classic and regional dishes are served 
in a laid back, gallery-like atmosphere.
20 metres in Convent Road, Soi Pipat 2, Silom, Bangkok
www.eatmerestaurant.com/

Travelife with us to beautiful South Africa, May 16-25 with Thai Airways

At The Big Hole in Kimberley,
perhaps the most famous diamond mine in the world


South Africa is one of our favorite countries in this big and beautiful world.

This May 2014, in cooperation with the Embassy of South Africa and Thai Airways, we are offering a very special trip for Travelife readers and friends to see the best of Johannesburg and the Northern Cape.

Join us for this wonderful trip of a lifetime.



TRAVELIFE Magazine's
Beautiful South Africa Tour
May 16 - 25, 2014

Please call Meg or Kat to get on the mailing list
Tel 813-8400/ 892-2620
travelife@travelife.biz


HIGHLIGHTS

* Go on a Big 5 Game Safari at the famous Pilansberg National Park
* See the best of Johannesburg
* Experience the Cradle of Humankind, where mankind originated
* Visit a cheetah reserve
* Visit South Africa's most famous diamond mine and shop for diamond bargains
* Sunset helicopter rides across Northern Cape
* The opportunity to walk with animals in Northern Cape's only working game reserve
* Non-stop entertainment in South Africa's famous Sun City
* Shopping and dining opportunities in Johannesburg
* Enjoy an authentic South African barbecue dinner

Our optional activities:
* Go on a quad-bike safari
* Thrilling ghost tour in Kimberley
* Experience a traditional South African pub crawl





Travelife Tour of Beautiful Northern Cape
May 16 - 25, 2014

Please call Meg or Kat to get on the mailing list
Tel 813-8400/ 892-2620
travelife@travelife.biz





The time I flew to Langkawi to have dinner with the Queen of Malaysia




The last time I was in Malaysia, living a Travelife, was for a short visit to literally have dinner with the Queen.

I flew to Kuala Lumpur for a few days as a guest of Malaysia's dynamic Minister of Tourism, Dr. Ng Yen Yen, and then onwards to Langkawi to attend a dinner by the beach with the Queen of Malaysia.

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IT BEGAN WITH A WEEKEND IN KUALA LUMPUR

After a very nice weekend in Kuala Lumpur, shopping for my favorite silk gowns and attending a dinner on someone's yacht, I was back at Kuala Lumpur's ultra-modern airport early in the morning to catch the flight to Langkawi.


IS THIS A SMALL WORLD, OR WHAT?

On the plane to Langkawi, I bumped into my Malaysian friend Mr. Monopoly who I’d had lunch with the previous day. 

I call him Mr. Monopoly because if the city of Kuala Lumpur were a Monopoly board, he would literally own half of it. 

I kid you not.



ALMOST EVERYTHING OUTSIDE MY HOTEL WINDOW

If I looked out of my suite at the Ritz Carlton in Kuala Lumpur, for example, it would not be exaggerating things to say that he owned most of what I could see from my window.

And he also happens to own one of the most beautiful resorts in Malaysia – if not in the world – as well.

Well, Mr. Monopoly was attending the same dinner I was going to in Langkawi, as he's a good friend of the Tourism Minister, so we had a nice chat about just how good it must be to live in Malaysia.



A WARM LANGKAWI WELCOME

In Langkawi, my welcoming committee was in place and ready to spring into action. 

I was very kindly provided with a very impressive limo with state-of-the-art stuff I'd not yet seen in other cars, a great driver who was an excellent resource on life in Langkawi, and the most patient guide in the world.


*    *   *

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QUICK PRE-DINNER SHOPPING SPREE

After I’d checked into my hotel, you see, I had a few hours before dinner; so I took a map of Langkawi out and pointed to everything I wanted to see.



I was going on someone’s yacht the following day to see Langkawi’s famous surrounding scenery -- apparently this is similar to Vietnam's Ha Long Bay -- so that afternoon, all I wanted to do was shop.

And these two gentlemen took me everywhere I wanted to go.

SHOPPING GALORE

I went to a couple of crafts places and ended up in Langkawi’s largest duty-free mall just to see what it was like. 

The whole island is duty-free and I was given a list of best-buys in Langkawi by well-meaning friends in KL, so I decided to check these out at the Langkawi mall

That took care of the afternoon. 

BLACK AND GOLD FOR DINNER


In the evening, I had just enough time to get into a long gown as the the theme of the dinner was black and gold.

Then I needed to head for the party before the arrival of my host, and the arrival of the Queen of Malaysia

A princess from a neighboring state was joining the party as well.


The hotel put out a yellow carpet from the driveway all the way to the venue, and staff spent all afternoon keeping it spic and span until the arrival of the Queen. 

Apparently, no one is supposed to step on this yellow carpet while the Queen is walking on it.

MALAYSIA'S CHARMING ROYALS



When I met the royals, they all seemed curious that someone had flown all the way from Manila to join them for dinner tonight. 

But they were great conversationalists – as many royals the world over are – and equally great dancers. 

After dinner, a band came on and I soon found myself line-dancing next to the future Queen of Malaysia while the Princess went up on stage to sing a few songs.

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DANCING ALL WEEK


I smiled to myself, remembering how just that previous week, I’d literally danced all night at the AIESEC party we'd organized at the Peninsula Conservatory.

And then I’d flown to Cebu and danced under the moon and the stars. 

And that night, there I was in Langkawi line-dancing next to the future Queen of this beautiful country until 130 AM. 

The Queen is so charming, and she certainly dances wonderfully.

What an evening that was to remember, in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lunch at Sage, the new restaurant of the Makati Shangri-la


Today, in Manila living a Travelife, a friend invited me to lunch at Sage, the new restaurant of the Makati Shangri-la.

Sage has been open for all of two weeks, and so far it's pretty full on most days.

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IT'S LIKE A GENTLEMAN'S CLUB

I wasn't in town for the opening night, so I was quite happy to check out this restaurant today, which occupies the space where the music bar Conway's used to be.

Sage is an elegant venue with a very masculine feel.

The details also give it a nice polish: stylish leather chairs, interesting lamps, design touches on the walls.





A REFRESHING MENU

Meanwhile, the menu is casual and contemporary, with lots of nice salads and grilled meat and fish.

I've been very good about watching what I eat lately, and I just had a killer Pilates session with Brenda Lim at UP Pilates this morning as well.

So today, I decided to relax and just order whatever I wanted.



FOIE GRAS WITH GREEN MANGO.
AND HAM.

I started with Sage's version of foie gras, which came as a terrine surrounded by slivers of green mango and ham.

This was very interesting and tasty.



A DELECTABLE RIB-EYE

For a main course, I took on the Omaha beef rib-eye, which I had with a peppercorn sauce.

Plus I had green vegetables and a risotto on the side.



A TOUCH OF PARIS

Of course I had to have dessert.

Everything looked good, but I eventually decided on the Paris Brest as Paris has been on my mind.

And next week I am having lunch at a very nice restaurant somewhere in the world, which makes an excellent Paris Brest.



THE CONVERSATION AT THE NEXT TABLE

Sage was full of people today, including businessmen and ladies who lunch.

Next to us was a table of three who sounded like work colleagues.

One of the guys was saying that juicing isn't as good as people tout it to be as fructose is one of the worst kinds of sugar.




He then said to his companions: "I'll send you some literature about this."

This was the only part of their conversation I heard.

But I certainly wished he would send it to me, too, as food for thought in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.