Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Watching Sunset on the Maldivian Dhoni

One of the activities which is a must-try is to watch a sunset on a boat. Of course when in Maldives, one should always experience a sunset cruise on the Maldivian Dhoni, a traditional Maldivian sailboat.

 I have the view of the dhoni everyday at breakfast table.

My bolleke was so sweet that he arranged this with our hotel at Naladhu Maldives as a surprise on Sunday evening. However, funny enough that our butler spoils the surprise by asking him about the cruise on Friday which made me laughed so hard! Of course this was not only the surprise he accidentally let out because he did that to all the other surprises - snorkeling and spa except the romantic private dining on the beach.

The Jetty at Naladhu where we waited for our Maldivian Dhoni.
Isn't the colour of the sea amazing?

Our Maldivian Dhoni arrived at 5.30pm. The boat looks so beautiful. 
It's even more beautiful when it is sailing above the crystal clear blue sea.

What I love so much about Naladhu is the sincerity and the warm gesture from the staff. Every arrival and departure of the guests bring a gathering of Carla (Resort Manager), exclusive concierge, butler and personal assistant at the Jetty to welcome and to bid farewell. They will be waving frantically at the Jetty until the speedboat is no longer be seen. I find it rather heart warming to see their effort in making the guests feel utmost important.

Canapes are served and a bottle of my favourite Ruinart Blanc de Blanc is popped open.

The Canapes which comes in an assortment of fried spring rolls, samosa, stuffed mushroom and brushetta are delicious. Sipping a glass on champagne, indulging in the delectable finger food and admiring the sunset sounds so divine. It's really a wonderful experience to unwind above such a beautiful deck. I feel like a Maldivian princess already. Thanks to my bolleke and the nice crew on the boat.


The sun sets really quickly at about 6-6.30pm.

They set out the sail and we drifted on the calm sea while watching the sunset. We spent almost 2 hours during the whole sunset cruise and by the time we got off the boat at 7pm, it's already quite dark in Maldives but the moon and stars lit up the clear skies. What a stunning view of the sky from this island. I could live here forever!!!!

Something romantic that we do for every sunset we watch together except that titanic pose which I did because I felt the setting was very appropriate. hahaha

Another beautiful day in Maldives.



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Naladhu Maldives - A Private Retreat

Maldives being one of my dream travel destinations, a right start to the holiday is very important. A perfect holiday starts with the right companion and of course the perfect hotel. Well, I believe that there is no such thing as the "perfect hotel". However, an extensive research and previous experience with certain hotels will be able to minimize unwanted surprises at any holiday destinations. So far, both of my stays with the boutique hotels from the Small Luxury Hotels group has been more than satisfying. My first stay at St James Hotel and Club in London was so memorable and thus Naladhu (part of the SLH group) was the preferred choice when selecting our trip to Maldives.

Naladhu is located 35 minutes from Male International Airport. Although it is quite far from the airport, the location of Naladhu on an island on South Male Atoll is worth all the travel time. My boyfriend and I took a flight on Etihad Airways which flew directly from Abu Dhabi to Male and upon arrival, we were greeted by staff from Naladhu at the arrival hall which we had earlier arranged with the hotel for a return speedboat transfer.

It's a luxury speedboat with comfortable seats.

The staff were really courteous and helpful as they helped us with all the bags and luggage. All we need is to get our bum on the boat and be comfortable. Although the ride was very bumpy due to the strong waves, it was a comfortable ride with the padded leather seats. One note to take while planning a trip to Maldives is to find out about the boat transfer to the hotel and return as these services are not inclusive in the hotel rates.


On our arrival at Naladhu, we were warmly greeted by Carla (Resort Manager) exclusive concierge, Shareef (butler) and personal assistant for the duration of our stay. Shareef then walked us to our Beach Villa and the luggage were also delivered at the same time.

A beautiful distraction - The view outside our Beach Villa.

The view we had on the beach is truly amazing. It overlooked the clear blue sea that is somewhat turquoise in colour and over the Anantara Dhigu water villas and Baan Huraa (Thai Restaurant). The colour of the water is exactly how it is depicted in the picture above taken from my Olympus XZ-1. Most of the other pictures are taken with my iPhone 5 and my mini iPad.

Shareef led us to our Beach villa which he spent the next 30 minutes explaining to us about the villa and the utilities and amenities. When he started showing us how to use the TV, we just told him that we don't watch TV and when he starts showing us the magazines on the racks, we told him we don't read as well. It's a holiday on Maldives and I'm not going to spend time watching TV in the room or reading!!!


There are only 19 private houses at Naladhu which offers so much of privacy and space. There's beach and ocean villas. We chose a romantic beach villa that houses a large bedroom, a dressing room with a walk in wardrobe, an open-air bath, steam & shower room and garden rain shower, a private pool and garden with hardwood deck and dining sala with a cosy cabana which gives me a very homely feeling. It does not feel like staying at a hotel at all. I secretly wished I have a house like this. My bf jokingly asked Carla if this villa is for sale and she replied with a stern "definitely NOT". hahaha...


The Mini Bar is the most complete with the widest choice available for drinks and wines I've ever seen. Champagnes? Checked. Whites? Checked. Red? Checked. French? Checked. I love the garden shower which feels heavenly if you were to take a cool shower in the hot and sunny afternoon and the pool was so over-used by us that we swam in the morning, noon, afternoon and even midnight. The bedroom is really spacious and it opens up to the private pool which one morning I wrote on my FB that I wished someone would just throw me into the pool from my bed when I woke up. Guess what? My naughty bf did just that and he pushed me into the pool in my pyjamas.

What a wake up call!

The amenities provided in the room were very complete. They provide everything that you can ever think of. I brought my beach bags and a beach hat which is quite unnecessary because they provide that too. Forgot your swimming goggles, sun block and underwater camera? No worries, those are available in the room with a charge of course.


Every villa comes with a Nokia handphone with the number of your own butler which he can be reached at all times even when you're on another island. I think we never need to use the phone. For our one week stay, we only have Shareef calling us and not the other way round. Since I'm afraid of mosquitoes, it's very nice of them to have a mosquito survival kit available in the room and also an overnight kit with the usual cotton buds, sewing kit, comb and etc. There is so many books, magazines and even a CD player on the rack but we didn't touch any of them except me reading a few magazines and only to find out that some of them are in Dhivehi (Maldivian Language). LOL

How nice to have a hammock outside the villa! A place where I spent some time lying there everyday.

The hammock near the Jetty is quite nice too with such a nice view of the ocean.

The attention and level of service extended to us during the stay has exceeded our expectations. We were treated with care and smiling faces everywhere we went. This is such an unforgettable experience! The restaurant, particularly The Living Room in Naladhu is not only excellent but it feels very homely as well since we have been dining there for breakfast and dinner. I shall be writing on the restaurants next in the upcoming posts so stay tuned!

 
This is the luxury speedboat that sends us to the Male Airport on Thursday. 
 
Carla, Shareef and a few staff were there to bid us farewell. We had an impulsive thought to miss our flight and extend a few more days here. However, Ms Reality decides that it's time to head home because I still have to file my 2012 Income Tax! It was so incredible that there were 4 staff accompanying the both of us on the trip to the airport. The sea was calm and we managed to catch the sunset. What a heavy feeling to leave paradise.

But we will return!!!

P/S: This is not a paid review nor invited review. The opinions expressed here are independent and are derived from my personal experience with the resort.
 
Naladhu Maldives
P.O. Box 2014
Veligandu Huraa, South Male Atoll
Republic of Maldives
Website
Tel:       +960 664 4105
Fax:      +960 664 4188
Email:  stay@naladhu.com
Skype:  naladhu-maldives

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

For all Malaysians

For the 13th general elections, I hope all of you out there who are overseas will be able to go back to play your part as a Malaysian. Every vote counts!!!

Posting from Naladhu Maldives...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Maldives - a dream come true!

I'm finally in Maldives baby!!!

This is my dream come true. I don't know how long I've been wanting to come to Maldives but I'm sure it's at the top of my "must-visit-list". Now that I'm here, I can finally die happy!

I arrived in Maldives on Thursday afternoon with Etihad as they have a direct flight from Abu Dhabi which took 4 hours. The journey was pleasant and the flight was not full but it's certainly filled with couples. We arrived at our hotel -Naladhu in south atoll in 35 mins in a speedboat from the airport. 

The hotel is really top!!! I shall write about my experience after my wonderful holiday. I'll be here for 7days!!!

You would not believe how beautiful the colour of the sea until you see it with your own eyes!!

Waiting on the jetty from the hotel for our private snorkeling session yesterday.


Our speedboat for the morning and one of them drives the boat while the other took us to the water and showed us the fishes, lobsters and reefs. He even warned us about the biting brown fish. Service was tops!!!

The sea was really choppy but it feels really comfortable on a speeding boat with such a nice breeze and weather.


The sea is really beautiful!! Look at the turquoise colour and the clear water!


Enjoying a break before the next snorkel location. The first location was full of fishes but less corals. The 2nd one was full of corals but less fishes.


The lighter blue is where the water is shallow and you can see the reefs and the darker blue is the deep water.


The beautiful sea... And on our way back, we even managed to see two dolphins jumping out of the water. What a sight!!


The snorkel session was really great.


Isn't this a stunning view?!!

Now I have a problem. Where should I go for honeymoon?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1st Stop - Abu Dhabi

So.... I quit my job. Last day at work was on Monday and I flew directly to Abu Dhabi on the same night to my 1st holiday destination. The decision to quit has been made a few months ago but I finally submit my resignation a month ago which gave a shock to some colleagues of mine because I was really happy working in my role. The reason quiting was simple - I need time for holidays and to do something that I want to do...trips

 I took a swim at the pool today and there's this lady who reads a book in the pool. So funny!

The Shangri La at Abu Dhabi

The nice view from my room. You can also see the nice white mosque from here.

This is my room on the Horizon Club floor. So nice!!!

Trip
My healthy breakfast for this morning. They have quite a good selection here too except that the condiments for the congee is almost nothing except ginger and chili. Yucks..

The service here is really good. At the pool, there will be a staff bringing you bottles of water in a cooler box, cold towel for you to cool down, fruits and they also wipe your glasses!! How cool is that?!!

Today is my last day here and tomorrow I'll be off to Maldives!!!






Sunday, April 14, 2013

My new toy from Belgium

No, I wasn't talking about a toy boy. It's actually my first Nespresso machine. Instead of shopping for clothes and bags from Europe on this trip (which I did in every trip), I decided to get something useful. Well, getting a coffee machine isn't like the greatest achievement but it's something special for me because I've always wanted a nice coffee machine which I can make an espresso and also a cup of coffee with milk in the morning for myself.

Nespresso Pixie seems to be the perfect one for me due to its size which is small and space saving and also the ease of use. My mom can't really adapt to advance technology and thus this is perfect because all you need to do is to switch on, put in the capsule and press one of the two buttons indicating the amount of the coffee that you want.


When I was in the Nespresso boutique in Antwerp, I was recommended to take this set - a beginner set for 1st time buyers where it comes with a Pixie machine, 200 capsules (I think) and a presentation box together with a Nespresso Club membership for only EUR 240 which is so much cheaper than getting the machine separately and then the capsules.


But if you want to only get this machine, it comes with 16 different coffee capsules for EUR 149. I think in Singapore, this retails at SGD 388 and the capsules are at $1 each. I'm not sure how much it costs here in KL as I heard that they are selling this at BIG in Publika.



There are so many reasons why I love the Nespresso machine. Firstly, they have a very smart packaging where the box opens up totally for easy removal of the machine! Then the water compartment can be easily removed to fill water. All you need to do is to switch on the machine, pull up the silver lever, slot in the capsule, pull down the lever and press a button and let the water boil for 25 seconds before the cuppa is made. And then the empty capsule will fall into the compartment below the nozzle. It can also accommodate tall mugs by just lifting up the bottom holder.

I also like the cool led lights that lit the empty capsules storage compartment. Cool eh? I made myself an Arpeggio described by Nespresso as INTENSE and CREAMY. It's a dark roast of pure South and Central American Arabicas and I have more than 16 types of coffee in my drawer now and I even have 2 limited edition ones - COCONUT & HAZELNUT which was released last year and sadly they are no longer available.

I can foresee myself drowning in caffeine addiction. Please help me!!!



This is also what I brought home from Belgium. Who goes home from Belgium without a bottle of Trappist beer right? Sadly, one of the bottles broke in my luggage and it made my luggage smelled like beer during the journey way home! But I was lucky that my whiskies didn't break.. phewwww...

But of course this is not all. I had with me a pack of white asparagus, Belgian endives, portobello mushrooms and parma ham. I shall write about my cooking adventures soon! Cheers...

*Btw this is not a Nespresso ad. It's entirely my own experience funded by myself*

Friday, April 12, 2013

Clicks Needed Preeze

Since you're already on this page and wondering if I have written anything today, why don't you help my dear friend Sophie here to win a trip to Spain with her friends?

All you need to do is to click on the link, the blue box and a "LIKE" and it's done!

Just 3 clicks.... thank you very mucheeeee


Link here


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Eiling goes to Antwerpen

 Windmills all the way from Netherlands to Belgium border

It was really an impulsive trip that I decide to hop onto the plane and fly to Amsterdam in less than 40hours. And that explains my hiatus last week because no one knew I was actually in Belgium for a few days. If I have a choice, I wouldn't want to go to Antwerpen via Schipol Airport as I had the worst treatment there during my last trip. It wasn't my 1st time to Amsterdam and in fact I was just there twice for the past year and the passport control gave me a helluva difficult time. When asked where I was heading, I told them that I am going to Antwerp and then he asked me which hotel I was staying and I said I will be staying with a friend. Then he asked me if I have an invitation from the friend... and I said "why the hell would a friend send me an official invitation to stay at their house?!!" And that proceeded to them referring me to another lady immigration officer to further interrogate me. I'm so pissed off. Why the hell I would fly on business class and with a return ticket to be overstaying at your country? Hello?!! Do you know that the GOLD is in Asia now and I am not coming for illegal employment?!! *super pissed @%%^&* I was again interrogated by the customs officer when I am exiting into the arrival hall. Sigh...

Such a discrimination! 

Anyways, let's not let such events dampen my mood for an impromptu holiday.

'De molen' in Boechout

This is a very nice windmill at the very backyard of the Mortsel, a city in Antwerpen where I stayed for the week. Brussels seem to be a more popular choice for a trip to Belgium but I can tell you that Antwerp is also a very nice city to visit. I had a day out at Antwerp despite the crazy-cold-weather of 1°C in the morning/afternoon even when it's supposed to be Spring by now. There used to be a bar and a restaurant  here but it has since been closed and from the look of this place, it looks like a nice place for a run in the mornings and evenings.


Belgian Frites with Mayonnaise from Frituur No.1

Very often we call fries - French fries but if you are a potato connoisseur (or a Belgian), you will love Belgian Frites because they made "French fries" look like child's play. And to recognize the real Belgian frites, they need to be fried twice (Heston Blumenthal will suggest thrice) because they first have to make the inside soft, and a second time to give the outside a slight crisp. Usually, it's served with mayonnaise but there are also many other sauces that are available such as blue cheese and they seldom eat them with ketchup. These frite shops are quite a common sight in Antwerp and don't forget to drop by and stuff yourself with such delicious calories! *On a cold day, this is heaven!!!*

Frituur No.1
Hoogstraat 1 Old City Centre



I made my daytrip to Antwerp an eating tour. But of course the credit goes to my tour guide who knows the city at the back of his palms. And since I am a tourist, I need to first have a taste of Bolleke (also known as De Konnick - famous belgian beer). Pelgrom is one of the more famous pubs and brasserie in Antwerp and it's also a tourist place due to its structure and interior. From the outside, it looks like just an ordinary shop but the drinking and dining tables are located in the cellar and the cellar is never ending that stretches beyond a few streets underground! How cool is that? But with the music that they are playing in there, it felt more like a dungeon. 

I had one Bolleke which costs EUR2.50 and there's also quite a number of popular belgian beers available here. After I had frites, I came here for a beer... how much calories have I just gained?

Pelgrom
Pelgrimsstraat 15 2000 Antwerpen Belgium
Tel: +32 3 234 08 09

As if the frites and beers are not sufficient, I dropped by at Desire de Lille which is a famous dessert restaurant in Belgium. When I walked into the restaurant, the aroma of the freshly made belgian waffles are already making me hungry!

 Warm belgian waffles with cream and ice-cream and a bowl of Smoutebollen. These are really tasty desserts and the smoutebollen reminds me of the Oliebollen in Amsterdam.

 

The Smoutebollen are actually "lard balls" but they are not made of lard of course! The real "smout" is actually rapeseed oil and they taste very much like the small doughnuts we find in the bakeries except that these ones here have a firmer body and are served with powdered sugar. I think I just had a sugar rush after indulging in both the smoutebollen and belgian waffles. The waffles are a must-try here as they are soft, eggy and buttery.

Desire de Lille
 Schrijnwerkersstraat 14, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Tel: +32 3 231 62 26











 


Antwerp is quite a nice place to visit apart from Brussels. For some people, Brussels = Belgium but that's actually not true. Antwerp is a historic city filled with beautiful ancient architecture, churches and also nice belgian beers and food. Even the largest shopping centre in Europe, Wijnegem shopping center is here and it's about 10km away from Antwerp. I will be coming back for moreeeeee.....

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Estilo Spanish Tapas Bar & Charcoal Grill @ Publika

Estilo is the choice of our meet up place for dinner. The three of us have not been hanging for a long time and finally we can all agree on a certain date, day, time and venue. I'm really a huge fan of Spanish Tapas and when I heard about this place, I decide to give it a try and since Publika isn't exactly too far from my office. Fyi, Estilo has just opened last month and it is the sister outlet of El Meson which is located on Jalan Telawi in Bangsar.

The ambiance is pretty much cosy with a play of colours, high tables, and some normal dining tables with alfresco dining option available. I like the colourful lamps and the cute Estilo sangria jug. There is a choice of red sangria (Estilo Sangria) and a white one (Apple Sangria) at RM28/glass and RM75 for a jug which serves almost 8 small glasses. They also serve beer (RM19-32 per pint) and wines by the glass from RM21 onwards.


 Piquillos Rellenos (RM18)
Sweet Spanish peppers stuffed with minced beed and served with a cheese sauce. The peppers are not spicy but sweet instead and paired very well with the minced beef. It's also nice to be eaten on the baguette slices which is complimentary by the restaurant.

 
 Complimentary home-made sauces that goes with the meat dishes that we ordered. From left - Green Chilli & Herbs, Peri-peri sauce, BBQ sauce and Chilli Oil.
 
Corderos Asado (RM38)
This is the slow-grilled Suckling lamb which is sliced and served with brocolli and peas and a cheese sauce. It also comes with a side which Sue Lynn chose a truffle mash to go with the meat. It is indeed recommended as the meat is tender, flavourful and not gamey at all.


All of us having fun catching up and of course indulging in our tapas!

Warm Salad of Baby Squid grilled with charcoal with a bed of diced potatoes (RM24). Very nicely presented, the squids are still springy but I would have preferred more greens.


Queso De Cabra Crujiente (RM16)
A slab of goat cheese covered with a thin layer of Filo pastry which is oven-baked and served with pumpkin jam and caramelised shallots. A nice dish if you like the strong tasting goat cheese.

Chorizo (RM16)
Spanish Spicy Sausage with Potato Confit. Since they do not serve pork here, this is a rather nice chicken version of chorizo. The olive oil sauce goes really well with bread!
 

Paella Estilo (RM52 for small & RM98 for large)
You would need to give at least 30mins for the preparation time of the paella. The paella served here is not too wet but with a slightly dry crust at the bottom of the pan (which reminds me of claypot chicken rice) and a well balanced flavour of the rice and ingredients. The one we ordered comes with grilled chicken, chicken chorizo and green beans. The small paella is good for two if you plan to take this as a main.

It's great to catch up with Sue Lynn a.k.a Bangsarbabe and listen to all her nice travel stories and indulgence! It's a nice place for hang out and tapas but I felt something missing if there is no pork in my tapas place. My favourite tapas bar is still Pinchos.


Estilo 
Spanish Tapas Bar
(just two doors away from The Social)
Lot 34, Level G2, The Square, Publika,
aris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603-6207-9883

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