Monday, August 31, 2015

Photos from a long weekend in Hokkaido, in the lovely hot springs inns in Niseko and Otaru


Good afternoon from the port city of Hakodate, living a #Travelife.

As I'm now on a Silversea cruise sailing the Sea of Japan, with not too much time to write about my many adventures, I thought I'd post some photos of beautiful Hokkaido, including of the scenery I enjoyed and the beautiful hot springs ryokans we stayed in.



THE BEST ONSEN RYOKAN
IN HOKKAIDO 

We stayed in three hot springs ryokan, considered the best in the area, and they were all lovely in their own ways.

And here are the best onsen towns in Hokkaido, in my opinion: Lake Shikotsu, Noboribetsu, Otaru and a little town not too far from Niseko. Interestingly, I've been to Otaru four times but this is the first time I stayed at an onsen, and the waters were so effective for me.

More on these in later blog entries, when I find more time, as now I'm on holiday, rereading Jane Austen's novels on the terrace as we sail along the Japan Sea coast.

TRAVELIFE WITH US TO JAPAN
IN 2016

By the way, we're planning several trips to Hokkaido in 2016, so email us  if you want to come along.

No one knows Japan, after all, like us at #Travelife Magazine. 









Sunday, August 30, 2015

30% off on New World Manila's Vietnam Food Festival for Travelife Magazine readers. Plus an exclusive Vietnamese cooking class on September 12.



#Travelife with us to Vietnam via the New World Manila's Vietnam Food Festival from September 1 to 12.

During this period, master chefs from the New World Saigon will be preparing exquisite Vietnamese specialties as part of the lunch and dinner buffet at the Market Cafe Restaurant of New World Manila.

Receive a 30% discount on your dining bill at Market Cafe for the Vietnam Food Festival simply by bringing along a copy of Travelife Magazine. Scroll down for more details.

JOIN US FOR A VIETNAMESE COOKING CLASS
WITH LUNCH AND A COFFEE DEMONSTRATION
ON SEPTEMBER 12



You may also want to join an exclusive Vietnamese cooking class we are organizing with the master chefs from New World Saigon on September 12.

Click here for more details


Thursday, August 27, 2015

An early flight to Hong Kong, Sex and the City for breakfast, and a hot springs weekend in Hokkaido.

With President Ramos at the Manila Golf Club last night,
living a #Travelife

Good morning at 730 AM from the airport lounge in Hong Kong, living a #Travelife. Or at least trying to.

I was on the 520 AM flight out of Manila, which is way too early for me to be anywhere, considering I was up till way past midnight getting some work done before flying out on a two-week holiday pretty much off the beaten track, and after spending the evening listening to former Philippine President Fidel Ramos expound on the rather sorry state of the nation at a dinner at the Manila Golf Club.

The lounge in Hong Kong Airport in real-time
DONE IN FIVE MINUTES.
AND I HOPE EVERYTHING MATCHES.

As I'd been so busy this week, I literally packed in five minutes this morning, just before heading to the airport, with very little sleep. 

I threw in all my exercise wear in varying shades of black and every piece of Issey Miyake clothing I own into one large luggage, hoping everything will somehow match when I unpack at my destination and I will manage to look chic, on a hot springs long weekend in Hokkaido and a long and leisurely cruise on the Silversea Explorer, living a #Travelife.



WAY TOO LITTLE SLEEP

I'll be landing in Hokkaido this afternoon and we have a fancy dinner planned at a pretty famous restaurant in the middle of nowhere. 

Somehow, I think I'm going to fall asleep in the middle of my soup.

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BANGUS AND GARLIC RICE,
AND RERUNS OF SEX AND THE CITY
FOR BREAKFAST

I thought I would try and sleep on the way over to Hong Kong, but -- just my luck -- it wasn't a flat bed plane and they had fish with garlic rice for breakfast.

So I ended up eating a full breakfast on the plane, even after having wonton soup and sausages and garlic rice at the lounge in Manila, and watching old episodes of Sex and the City.





REMEMBERING CARRIE BRADSHAW

I don't usually watch this show, but I remembered a hilarious conversation with someone last weekend about Carrie Bradshaw, so I chose this on the entertainment system.

Not the usual way I spend my morning, but it was a relaxing way to start my holiday.

Now all I have to do is try and get some shut-eye on the five-hour flight to Sapporo so that I can land in Japan refreshed, ready for the next adventure in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife. 

Hot springs weekend in Hokkaido and two weeks on the Silversea Explorer ship



So by this time tomorrow, I'll be in Hokkaido, spending a long weekend at a hot springs, living a #Travelife.

And then I'm jumping on a Silversea Explorer ship that will navigate the truly rarely trodden destinations of Japan and South Korea over a period of two relaxing weeks.

It's for this reason that I've been working pretty hard over my two-week stay in Manila, so I can get some downtime, just being amidst nature while sailing on one of the most luxurious explorer ships in the world.

SEE YOU SOON, SILVERSEA



I'm a very big fan of Silversea and it's really the only cruise line I've sailed on so far for private trips on ocean voyages, having loved the experience from Day 1 of my very first sailing nearly 20 years ago.

I was on the maiden voyage to the Ukraine on a private holiday.

I like the intimacy and country club atmosphere of the Silversea ships, and the pampering onboard


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THE EXPLORER SHIP
OF SILVERSEA

For the Silversea Explorer ship, it's 120 guests max versus the crowds of the big ships which make me feel like I'm stuck in a ballroom of people I don't really know, eating way too much of the kind of tasty but generic food you get at fancy wedding receptions.

And I know all the Silversea ships by heart save for the new Explorer ships -- which is why I'm quite excited to do this quickie holiday (if you can call two weeks a quickie) before my three week trip to Morocco with 35 friends. And am I so excited for this upcoming #Travelife to Morocco, too.

Anyway, more on Morocco and also on my Silversea journey later.

silversea.com

A HOKKAIDO WEEKEND

For my Hokkaido weekend, someone is meeting up with me in Sapporo and we're staying in three places I've always wanted to stay in around Hokkaido, mostly in hot springs towns I haven't been to yet.

I actually sent this guy my wishlist of ryokan and restaurants to stay in just as a courtesy proposal as we are planning this holiday together, after all.

And within a day or two, there was an email in my In Box with a short but succinct message as he's an incredibly busy person of few words: "My secretary has booked everything as you wanted. Happy?"

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DOWN THE HIGHWAYS OF HOKKAIDO

Of course I was. And he's rented a pretty spiffy sort of sports car to tool around Hokkaido in,  too, although I still don't know how my Silversea luggages will all fit in the back of the car.

I never travel light.

He's coming along on the cruise as well, although just until a midway point, as he's got to fly back to Chicago in a rush.

Read about one of the Philippines' most tantalizing locations in our new issue... 



FROM CHICAGO TO THE SKY.
OR ACTUALLY, THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

So in some pretty middle-of-nowhere seaport in Japan, he's getting off and arranging for a car to drive him to the nearest functioning airport of a large city. 

From there he's arranged for a private plane to link him up with a flight back to Chicago from the nearest international airport of Japan.

As for me, I'm continuing on till the end of the voyage, which docks in Kobe, just in time for a very nice Kobe beef lunch with friends and some shopping, before I head to Kansai airport to catch a flight back home that same day.

Read about an amazing glamping holiday in Sri Lanka in our new issue...



JUST IN TIME TO COOK 
SOME VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS

I land within hours of our next Travelife event, which is a very special cooking demonstration and lunch at the New World Manila with some of the top chefs of Ho Chi Minh.

 This is going to be such an enjoyable event, which I hope you'll consider joining.




HOSTING 
PRE-MOROCCO TRIP COCKTAILS


Then I'm hosting cocktails that same weekend for all my 35 friends joining our upcoming trip to Morocco.

Everything's set but I thought a cocktail party would be a nice way to start a trip of a lifetime, literally showing my friends the very best of Morocco, as always living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Doing over 10,000 steps on the FitBit while the world stock markets drop. And about the million dollar question.

fitbit.com

So yesterday morning, there I was at the office living a #Travelife, and on the phone to an old friend in Singapore.

I'd called her just to shoot the breeze about the state of the world's stock markets, and miraculously I'd managed to catch her on her mobile phone for her precious five minutes in between two meetings.

"It's going to be a W," she said, which is something I agree with. And we discussed currencies and markets in rapid machine gun fashion, the way we often do as we both have absolutely no patience for slow talk, slow thought and slow action.

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THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION

Then I prepared to get off the phone, conscious of the fact that she had a meeting in her part of Asia and I needed to start heading out for a lunch with senior executives of Citibank.

Just as I was about to say goodbye, she said, "Do you have one more minute?"

For her, of course I did.

And in my mind, in that split second, I reviewed my thoughts on the Nikkei, the CAC 40 and the some other markets that I  thought we would talk about.


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13,000 STEPS ON A FITBIT

But instead she shot me a whopper of a question.

She said: "Can I just ask you? How are you managing to do 13,000 steps on your FitBit everyday? My husband's convinced your strapping your FitBit on the legs of a dog or a child."

I burst out laughing with this.

Yes, she and her husband had gotten me into the FitBit the last time we were all together in Tokyo, which was just a few weeks ago, and I'd gotten into the FitBit with my whole heart and soul. I'm not the type to do anything half-heartedly or half-baked, you see.

If I get into something, I get in to be #1 or I don't do it at all. Lukewarm is never an option in my life.

The countdown to a great adventure with 35 friends begins. 
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THE BATTLE FOR #1

And now her husband and I were in this daily battle for the top spot on FitBit, which is a pedometer that syncs you in online with your other friends who use FitBit, so that you can see who is walking how many steps at any one time, by the way.

And even more interestingly, you can see which of the friends of your friends is doing good or bad. 

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5K EVERY MORNING

So her husband's doing five kilometre runs every morning before the start of a high-powered job and clocking in above the target 10,000 steps a day. But most of the time I do one-up on him and clock in about a thousand steps more.

Just for the fun of winning over him.

fitbit.com


THE MAIN POINT

So I replied: "I'm certainly doing it all on my own."

There's no point in winning by having someone else do the steps. I want to lose some more weight and get fit doing this, after all.

So, yes, I'm clocking over 10,000 steps everyday, working hard, playing hard and living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.


Photos from the very successful 2nd L'Aperitivo Italiano at the Makati Diamond Residences organised by the Embassy of Italy, the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Travelife Magazine

H.E. Massimo Roscigno and Madame Agnes Roscigno of Italy,
with guests

Last night, in Manila living a #Travelife, the second L'Aperitivo Italiano party took place with great success.

Over 300 people joined us to party and to talk Travel and Life all night, at this wonderful chill event organised together with Ambassador Massimo Roscigno and the Embassy of Italy, the Italian Chamber of Commerce and the Dante Alighieri Society.

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JOIN US FOR THE NEXT
L'APERITIVO ITALIANO

We have three more L'Aperitivo Italiano events for the rest of 2015 so we hope you can join us next time. Keep posted to this blog for more details.

Madame Agnes Roscigno













Monday, August 24, 2015

Paella lunch for two at Donosti and afternoon tea at the home of the Ambassador of India on a Black Monday



Yesterday, which was the kind of Black Monday I have not seen in a very long time in my #Travelife, I had a tapas lunch with someone and then I spent a very pleasant afternoon at India House, the residence of the Ambassador of India, having afternoon tea with the wives of the ambassadors.



A VERY BLACK MONDAY, INDEED

The world's equities markets dropped yesterday at a pace I have not seen in years, and even I, who have seen quite a number of these, was quite taken aback by the magnitude of the retreat yesterday.

Still, it's a panic market right now and if you have the stomach for it, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and wait for the dust to settle. And to think about something else, like a delicious afternoon tea.



GOODBYE FOR NOW, MARGARET

The afternoon tea was in honour of the wife of the Ambassador of the European Union, who is leaving shortly to return to Brussels.

It seems all I've been doing in the short time I've been in Manila these past two months is attending farewells for ambassadors and their wives who are ending their postings. I hate goodbyes and I am not very good at them, but fortunately our world has become so small in one sense that goodbyes are more like "see you sometime soon."


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ONE PRETTY WONDERFUL
BIRTHDAY GIFT

As India House is just a hop and a skip away in North Forbes, I decided to send my driver home early and just to drive myself in my new car, which incidentally is an advanced birthday gift from someone.

I don't know how I can be so lucky, because I truly am in ten million ways I can't enumerate for the 1.8 million people who read this blog.

And I find I really enjoy driving because it means being by myself in my car, although I'll probably stick to weekends and to five square kilometres for now.

The countdown to a great adventure with 35 friends begins. 
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DELICIOUS GOODIES
MADE BY THE DAUGHTERS
OF THE AMBASSADOR OF INDIA

The charming daughters of the Ambassador of India helped their mother make many of the goodies that were served yesterday.

There was a wonderful home-made cheese pate and a pistachio sans rival cake which I really ate way too much of, considering I'd already had a three-course Spanish lunch with paella at Donosti just a few hours earlier.


CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS

And then, when everyone else had left, I purposely stayed behind for another half hour or so with a cup of Japanese kukicha, which is a kind of herbal tea drink, catching up with the Ambassador's family.

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TIME WON'T GIVE ME TIME

Time is a precious commodity for me these days, and soon I'm off on a weekend rendezvous somewhere exotic and a two-week cruise on an explorer ship, so I'm taking every opportunity possible to catch up with friends this week.

We talked well into the night about Travel and Life, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.