Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My September

Oh hello there little blog! I completely forgot about you...life has taken some unexpected twists and turns as of late, but I am happy and at ease with everything. Which is strange, because usually i'm anxious and impatient.

I spent the whole month of September in the US - it was a nice break from Indonesia, and it allowed me to think about my future and where I want to be. I was incredibly busy - and that's when I perform at my best. I don't handle downtime all too well (although I do welcome it at times), and long days of doing nothing drive me absolutely crazy. Not to mention, I tend to feel brain-dead after about a week of not doing much.

Just wanted to share some pictures of my September travels - LA, NYC, San Diego, Sequoia National Park,  and Vegas. It was go-go-go most of the time...I don't know how I found the energy to drive to San Diego after my 6 hour flight from New York to LA...and then the next day hit the road to Sequoia National Park. I wouldn't have it any other way though.

Almost there! After about 14 hours from Hong Kong...


Love Santa Monica

Central Park after devouring Shake Shack on a bench by the water

My wish came true...I saw bear cubs! 

I absolutely loved the mountains

Standing in my fave bakery in San Diego

Sunrise in Vegas 

To sum up this trip: 52 hours spent flying, 30+ hours spent driving, 4 hours spent on horseback (playing polo no less, with my old polo friends!) countless hours of fun, laughs, giggles, and a split second to fall deeply for somebody special. Best trip ever, in a long time.

Next week i'm off to Singapore, and then Bali again at the end of this month. If I can squeeze in a trip to Manila to see this lovely lady, my October will be just as great as my September. Life is good.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The W Hong Kong

I've been to Hong Kong several times now, and the W Hotel is by far my new favorite place to stay. It's not really recommended for the budget-conscious traveler, but if you're willing to spend a bit more money to enjoy the comfort and reliability of a well-known hotel group (the W is a part of the Starwood Group), but still have that hip, boutique hotel vibe, then this is the place to be.

This particular hotel had a nice little area for Starwood Preferred Guests. It adds that little extra touch to make loyal guests feel like they're appreciated. I loved the mini madeleines! 

I liked the quirky 'home library' vibe that was prevalent throughout the entire hotel. From the lobby and the individual floors with the bookshelves, to the actual room number! And since I love horses, that big white horse could do no wrong design-wise in my book. FYI, everything was glued down. We're in Asia guys, where people like to take things ;)

The room was quite large for Hong Kong standards, and the design of it very ingenious. The bathroom was designed with sliding doors, thus creating the illusion that the room is very spacious. The TV could be hidden by a slider as well. To whomever designed this room...please design my future apartment/house! I should note that I was a huge fan of the rain shower, and as always, I hoarded all the Bliss products. A girl can never have enough travel-sized beauty stash, right?

The W is also known for their cutesy knick-knacks, and their smart spin on words. The Wish thing at the top was actually a kaleidoscope. It's nice to let your inner-child come out and play once in a while! I haven't had a White Rabbit candy since I was a wee little girl, so this was a welcome snack. I found out a little too late that the tin of pillow mints contained in fact, M&M's...they were all a melty mess once I opened it in Jakarta.

The most important meal of the day is breakfast, and the W's breakfast buffet certainly did not disappoint. I think I gained 5 lbs just from eating this every morning. There was a vast selection of freshly squeezed juices, breads, pastries, fruits, as well as English/American and Asian breakfasts. And of course, there was an egg station, because what is a breakfast buffet without the egg station? Yum.

I can't help it...my inner-child came out again and I just had to play with these adorable salt & pepper ghosts during breakfast. That's what I love about the W. You have all the grown-up comforts that we as adults have grown accustomed to, but with just the right amount of playful touches to brighten up your trip.

Things to do on my next trip there: try out the gym and the pool. Because ahem...even though I had the best intentions to do so, and even brought along my workout clothes and bikinis, at the end of the day I was just too exhausted. And I do not wake up at some ungodly early hour on my holidays.

For more info, reservations, etc: W Hong Kong (in Kowloon)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Villa Aliya - Seminyak, Bali

One of the advantages of living in Jakarta is the relatively short distance to Bali. All you have to do is hop on a plane, and within 1.5 hours, you're in paradise. There are many airlines to choose from, from Indonesian budget airlines like Lion Air, Air Asia and other unknown brands i'd never dare fly, to the more reputable Garuda. If you want to risk your life and fly on one of the Indonesian budget airlines, you can pay as little as $30 during promo fares. I prefer to shell out around $300 (during high season) for Garuda and get there in one piece. 

When I saw this plane with its vintage paint scheme, I was about to faint. Flying in a 30 year old plane? No way! Turns out it was a brand-new plane, and a special one at that!

I spent my last two weekends in Bali. Why? Because I just had to get away from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta. My first weekend was spent in Seminyak. From Wikitravel:

Seminyak is more upmarket with mostly luxury accommodation and fashionable high-end restaurants and bars. The atmosphere is much more sophisticated and laid-back than Kuta, and the beach in particular is quieter during the day. Seminyak is also the high end spa and boutique shopping capital of Bali. Nowhere is the upscaling of Bali in recent years more obvious than here.

If you're more into partying and being around rowdy Australian tourists, then Kuta is the spot for you, but I prefer to stay away from those crowds. Seminyak is charming, with its main street lined with quality restaurants and cute boutiques, but it can also get very busy at times, particularly during high season. Surprisingly, it was pretty quiet this time around.

My family rented Villa Aliya, a tastefully designed villa which is centrally located in Seminyak. It's not a beachfront property, but it's tucked away in such a quiet area, that it's easy to feel relaxed and at peace. 

The private road leading up to the villa

The villa has 4 large bedrooms (each can fit 2 people) with en-suite bathrooms. The master bedrooms are located on the ground floor and both have outdoor rain showers (love!), while the other two bedrooms are upstairs. 

My bedroom

Huge Bathroom

Outdoor rain shower

There is a large cozy living room, as well as a smaller dining area to the left of it. The Ralph Lauren pillows along with the white sofas and rattan furniture really adds to the tropical vacation vibe. It's the perfect spot to get comfortable and catch up with some reading. At night the mosquitoes come out in full force, but the staff made sure to light mosquito coils as well as spray the rooms with Baygon.

And what's a villa in Bali without a sundeck and a pool? The pool was amazing. It is based on an ionized system that is good for the environment, as well as good for your skin. No harsh chlorine here!

The villa even had a garden! Not that I spent any time there, but it just goes to show how large this property really is.

If you want to get out of the sun, there's an outdoor dining area, as well as a bale bengong. A bale bengong is a Balinese gazebo. I love relaxing in these, especially when there is a breeze. The only drawback are the ants and cicaks (geckos) that sometimes wish to share the bale bengong with you. Naptime with cuddly giant ants and cicaks anybody? 

Bale bengong on the left, outdoor dining area on the right

The villa is definitely made for entertaining. There is a bar and lounge area upstairs, which I unfortunately did not take advantage of. Maybe when I come back with friends?

The villa also comes fully staffed. You write down your breakfast choices at night, and in the morning, a full spread of Western and Asian breakfast food is served. Everything is fresh, from the freshly squeezed fruit juice, to the locally baked croissants & muffins, to the fruit. The food was quite good. The staff can also prepare lunch and dinner, but with a plethora of delicious options in Seminyak, why stay in the villa? 

If you want to go to the beach, it isn't that far away. Just walk down the private road, cross the street, walk a bit more, and you're there! 

Notice how empty is is? Bliss!

Aaaahhhh I miss it already. This place gets booked quickly, so my family booked it again for next year. Those lucky ducks got to stay there the entire week, while I was back on a plane at 6 am on Monday morning to get to the office on time. 

Villa Aliya, Seminyak
Rates vary by season

Friday, June 10, 2011

I am back!

Yes yes, I decided to blog again. I'm back :)

Chocolate & Chants...huh?

I love chocolate. I have to eat a piece every day. The darker the better. And i'll admit...I had a hard time coming up with a new name. I love food. I don't consider food fuel, I consider food to be a gateway to happiness. A perfectly prepared dish can conjure up memories from years ago. Maybe that explains why i'm not at my slimmest at the moment, but hey, there's more to love!

And Chants is one of my nicknames that all my friends call me, pronounced Shants.

Chocolate & Chants just sounds good together. 

So i'll be blogging about things I love. That includes food, travel, polo, fashion...and anything else that strikes my fancy that day. I have a way with words and I love witty banter. Welcome, feel free to comment, and I hope you stick around!