Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I found the best steak sandwich, at the Oceana Beach and Game Reserve in Port Alfred, South Africa


Today in Africa, at the Oceana Beach and Game Reserve just off Port Alexander, living a #Travelife, I had a very good lunch.

Quite uncharacteristic of me, we were sitting at the bar for lunch, with a view of the beach and a family of giraffe grazing just in front, and I ordered an open-faced steak sandwich.


I'm not a bread person in general, so there are few instances in my life wherein I will willingly order a sandwich instead of something else on the menu.

THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR LUNCH

The view at lunch today,
on safari in Africa, living a #Travelife

But today, when I saw this steak sandwich as one of three or four options on the menu for lunch, I suddenly felt like having it.

How fortunate that I did, as it was perhaps the best steak sandwich I've ever had.


PERFECT COMBINATION

It was incredibly good beef, and it was cooked just right so that it was neither tough and overcooked nor too rare.

Then it had just a little bit of melted cheese on top -- enough to make it juicy, but not so much as to drown out the meat.


NO FAT IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD

Steak in Africa is generally lean.

I've tried to find fatty steaks everywhere and anywhere, and to no avail. And today's lunch was no exception.

But somehow it was so wonderful, that it truly made my day, in Africa living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.





Tuesday, April 28, 2015

No. 5 Boutique Art Hotel is the best hotel in Port Elizabeth, South Africa


So late last night in Africa, living a #Travelife, we finally reached our hotel in Port Elizabeth after over 30 hours of traveling from Asia to this quiet city on the East Coast of South Africa, facing the Indian Ocean.

FAR FROM HARDSHIP


It wasn't a hardship trip at all by most people's standards, even if it was a 30-hour trip.

We had flat beds in row #1 of the airplanes all the way, decent food that included pastries from Laduree in Paris and my favourite kare-kare, and peaceful airport lounges to pass transit time in.


I even had eight episodes of Downtown Abbey for entertainment, even if I'd watched most of these already.

I'd seen these on my last few flights via Hong Kong this year since Cathay Pacific usually has these in their inflight entertainment selection.


My favourite eggs benedict
with smoked salmon for breakfast yesterday,
living a #Travelife
NOT HARD, BUT HARD ANYWAY

Still, in spite of all the comforts, I was ready to drop dead by the time we walked into the lobby of No. 5 Boutique Art Hotel in Port Elizabeth.

Room service last night

Fortunately, the sight of all the lovely art revived me enough to make it through a delicious room service dinner and a sea salt bath.



No. 5 Art Boutique Hotel is a member of the Mantis Group, which is a collection of luxurious, interesting and eco-friendly properties all over the world.

In this case, No. 5 Art Boutique Hotel has got great art deco furniture, very striking photographs, and the general feel of a Silversea cruise ship.

WHY I CHOSE THIS HOTEL



Art aside, I chose this hotel because it's the best place to stay in Port Elizabeth, which is the city we flew into to pick up our rental car for part 1 of our big safari trip.

There are many bigger and higher-profile hotels in this city, but if you like privacy, exclusivity and luxury, like me, look no further than this lovely little hotel that feels more like a stylish home than a commercial establishment.



It certainly was a heavenly place to finally drop our bags down in, after a very long series of flights, and at the start of just another adventure in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

LANDCO celebrates 25 wonderful years with one big weekend party and fashion show at Punta Fuego


Last April 26, Landco celebrated its 25th year of providing high quality leisure communities to the upscale Philippine market at Club Punta Fuego, Nasugbu, Batangas.

Travelife Magazine General Manager Gel Bayona, together with other guests, were invited for an overnight stay and a wonderful weekend of luxury, living a #Travelife.


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ONE WEEKEND OF INDULGENT FUN


Gel writes: "We had our own freedom to relax and enjoy the different water activities of the resort.

I rode a jetski and then I indulged in a relaxing massage by the cabana at the Peninsula De Punta Fuego."



SEASIDE FASHION SHOW

"After the fun activities by the beach, we were given time to get ready and freshen up before the big event.



 The milestone celebrations included a fascinating "Summer Luxe" resort wear fashion show by Luis Espiritu with luxury fashion brands like FinoLeathewareJewelmer, Joanique, Mia Arcenas, Ray Ban, SC Vizcarra and Seek the Uniq participating."



A MOVEABLE FEAST

Gel continued: "We also enjoyed a delightful feast prepared by Punta Fuego General Manager Mikel Arriet Arruiz while being serenaded by Kuh Ledesma.



The next day, we were welcomed with a breakfast with a San Sebastián, Spain theme -- just in time for Madrid Fusion Manila -- featuring pintxos, montaditos and cava.



It was just like a meal served in one of the pintxos bars in the Basque country."

"Landco's milestone celebration was truly one amazing and successful weekend, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife."

Delicious linguine for a snack and a Laduree chocolate tart for dessert onboard the flight to Africa from the Middle East



So yesterday, we flew from the Middle East to Africa, living a #Travelife.

Door-to-door from Asia, the whole journey until we crashed into this lovely boutique hotel by the sea took just over 30 hours because a flight schedule change on the part of the airline flying out of Asia, after we booked our tickets.

This left us with little choice but to take an earlier flight and wait six hours in a Middle East airport.

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COMPLAINTS AND NO COMPLAINTS

I can tell you that I was far from pleased with this, especially with an extremely busy schedule that suddenly cut my precious time in Manila by six hours.

At the same time, I really shouldn't complain, although as a consumer, I did pay for my ticket so I should be entitled to do so.

A NICE LOUNGE
AND A FLAT BED ALL THE WAY



The six-hour wait was at one of the best airline lounges in the world right now.

Then, we were in the first row all the way on three planes, and with the exception of a short 90-minute hop on an African domestic carrier, it was a flat bed all the way with a decent selection of movies and a decent selection of food.

I slept for the most part.


THE LAST MEAL WAS THE BEST



The best part about all the meals was the last meal before landing in Africa.

How's that for saving the best for last?

We had a linguine, which didn't at all look promising at first glance, but it turned out to be so good that I had two orders since meals on this airline for business class are a la carte, like in a restaurant.


Then for dessert, we had an absolutely scrumptious chocolate tart from Laduree which was truly wonderful.

So wonderful, in fact, that I had three  chocolate tarts to celebrate the end of a very long journey and the start of a new adventure in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.


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Monday, April 27, 2015

Steak for breakfast at 3 AM at an airport lounge, and kare-kare onboard a flight out of Manila

Steak at an airport lounge at 3 AM.
This was actually very good.


Good morning on a Monday morning from some airport lounge somewhere in the world, living a #Travelife.

It's about 3AM here and I've just had a very nicely done steak for something that might be called either a midnight snack or an early breakfast. I figured that I'm on holiday anyway -- and, indeed, what a way to start.

So far, so good, as far as food's concerned on this particular #Travelife.

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KARE-KARE ON THE INFLIGHT MENU

When I opened the menu for dinner onboard the airplane last night, guess what they had? Kare-kare as one of the main courses. 

That certainly made my day, especially as the peanut sauce was really flavourful.


Unfortunately, they didn't serve the kare-kare with the standard fish sauce (bagoong), and rightly so, I'm sure, as the smell of the fish sauce would have taken up the whole first section of the plane.

Still, I was happy to have kare-kare without fish sauce for dinner, somewhere 35,000 feet over Asia last night, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.


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Saturday, April 25, 2015

The best jamon in Manila was at the home of the Ambassador of Spain tonight

Heading out for an evening of events
for Madrid Fusion Manila,
living a #Travelife

On my one night in Manila, living a #Travelife, I had a full evening of events for Madrid Fusion Manila. Last night, I flew in late from Koh Samui via Hong Kong, and tomorrow I'm on a plane bound for Africa.

So you might say that I flew into Manila just to attend some special events for Madrid Fusion Manila -- and I am very happy I did.

A PARTY AT THE HOME OF
THE AMBASSADOR OF SPAIN

With the Ambassador of Spain tonight,
at his residence
My first event tonight was an intimate party hosted by the Ambassador of Spain and his wife at their lovely residence in Forbes Park

It was held in the garden and it was a very special crowd. 


They served Spanish cava from Freixenet and ham from Spain which I think was of a grade easily considered the best in the world. I've tasted all the best jamon in Spain, and tonight's jamon left me speechless. More on this in a later blog entry....

The jamon was moist, tender and juicy. And several people who know their ham said tonight, "This is easily among the best jamon in the world."


A BY-INVITATION ONLY DINNER
AT THE PENINSULA MANILA
FOR MADRID FUSION MANILA

Then I made a bee-line for the Peninsula Manila, for a private dinner at Old Manila prepared by Michelin-starred chef Mario Sandoval of the restaurant Coque in the outskirts of Madrid, and Filipino chef Myrna Segismundo

There were many events tonight for Madrid Fusion Manila, but the dinner at the Old Manila was probably the only by-invitation event tonight.

MANILA'S TOP SOCIETY ARE HERE



The Who's Who of Manila attended this very special dinner hosted by Peninsula GM Sonja Vodusek, and we all had a wonderful time and an excellent meal. More on this in another blog entry...



And then we headed to Salon de Ning for a nightcap before I called it a night, as I had to finish packing still before heading out once again into the world, for another chapter in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

The holiday in Koh Samui starts and ends at the airport. And how Tourism Authority of Thailand got things right.


This morning at Koh Samui Airport,
living a #Travelife
So this morning, there I was at Koh Samui's tiny airport, checking in to fly to Hong Kong and still living a #Travelife.

I have to say, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has certainly got it right. They're doing the marketing campaigns but they're also ensuring that their infrastructure is keeping up with expectations.

Some other countries focus solely on the marketing without improving the product to keep in line with expectations from a marketing campaign.

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PASSED THE TEST

As my friends will tell you, I am the most finicky traveler this side of the planet.

And Koh Samui's tiny airport passes with flying colors.

This means that I wouldn't have been tearing my hair out this morning, in the off chance that my flight was delayed and I had to spend several hours waiting at the airport.

This is the check-in for business class
for Bangkok Airways


KOH SAMUI AIRPORT
IS CLEAN, NICE, USER-FRIENDLY
AND ATTRACTIVE

It's clean, nice, attractive, and most importantly, it looks safe. You can walk around without qualms.

Here's the other thing. It actually has a resort atmosphere, in keeping with the whole island, so it's almost like an extension of your vacation.

A completely stressless experience.

The food at the Bangkok Airways lounge

NICE SHOPS FOR TOURISTS
AT KOH SAMUI AIRPORT

The shops, too, are well curated.

Except for the Jim Thompson boutique, nothing much was my type. But I have to say that each store was attractive and the kind that tourists would happily go into.

Even the restaurants were bright, airy and clean-looking at first glance. No dirty dishes, no trash, no mess.

KOH SAMUI AIRPORT 
LOOKS LIKE AN OUTLET MALL


The walkways were clean and, frankly, the whole set-up reminded me of an outlet mall in Hawaii.

The Bangkok Airways business class lounge, too, was great. It looked like the lobby of a Club Med resort. 

And when I sat down, a smiling attendant immediately came up to take my orders as they operate the business class lounge like a restaurant -- with a menu and all.


GREAT FOOD AND DRINKS
AT THE BANGKOK AIRWAYS LOUNGE
IN KOH SAMUI

What a joy.

They had fresh coconut juice on the menu, and pad thai. The coconut juice came in its shell and it was just wonderful.

Meanwhile, the pad thai was really delicious. I found out later that the lounge orders it from a nearby restaurant whenever a business class passenger orders it from them.


WHY CAN'T MORE SOUTHEAST ASIAN AIRPORTS
BE LIKE THIS?

The restaurant/ lounge set-up may be asking too much, considering what a horror the lounges in the airports of another Southeast Asian country are.

But is it too much to ask that the airports be clean and bright like Koh Samui's tiny airport?

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Why can't more airports in some other Southeast Asian country (I hope you know which one I mean) be more like this?

It makes everything so pleasant, from arrival all the way to departure, in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.