Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Romantic Day in Paris

The last trip to Paris has been a really romantic journey. From arrival to departure, Luc really made me feel like a princess. I arrived on Air France to CDG at 6am and had to wait for my luggages for 40minutes (even with SkyPriority) and that is the longest wait I ever had for a holiday trip. That is one part of traveling that I dislike. As I walked out of the arrival hall, there was already a guy waiting for me with my name and he carried my luggage, and then drove me to the hotel in a nice Mercedes. I was relieved that I don't need to queue for a taxi after a long flight! It was really thoughtful of Luc to arrange that.


We stayed at Hotel Du Louvre which is just next to the Louvre because I told him that I would like to visit it. It was a small, nostalgic but cosy hotel with windows that opened to the streets. That morning I arrived, he arranged for a typical Parisien breakfast to be served in the room. The croissants were really crispy and delicious. And in the evening, after we returned from dinner, a surprise awaits me in the room. There were rose petals on the floor and also on the bed, forming a nice heart shape. On the table, there was a bottle of chilled Krug champagne and it was all arranged by my sweetheart. He knows I like Krug and that was so lovely!

Since Luc knows Paris pretty well, he took me to some places that I had not been. First we wanted an afternoon drink and light food and he took me to Harry's New York Bar which is celebrating its hundredth year anniversary. I know that the name doesn't really ring a bell especially it's located in Paris but this bar is no ordinary bar. This place is filled with old and rare whisky goodies. It's also one of the favourite bar for the whisky boys. The selection that they have is amazing with Macallan dating back to the 50's. They do not serve food before 6pm and they also do not have a menu for the whisky. If you want to know what they have, you will just have to walk to the display cabinets and also the bar. Everything from the deco to the bartender is vintaged.... *smiles


In the evening, Luc made a reservation at Le Baudelaire at Le Burgundy Hotel at Rue Duphot which is just 10 minutes walk from the hotel where we are staying. The restaurant serves a gastronomic cuisine with Parisian influences and it received its one Michelin Star since its opening. We took the Tasting Menu which costs  210 comes with wine pairing and I must say that the wines are pretty good and I am very satisfied with the wines they served. 

The 1st course of Joel's summer vegetable salad with celery salt, aigo boulido and young salad leaves was well executed and I like the creativity of the chef in the ingredients used as well as the food presentation. He plays with a lot of different salt and soury flavours which unfortunately does not make a tick in my palate. I always like more natural tasting food that uses less salt and that night, I found some of the dishes like the turbot and wagyu beef were a little too salty and some too sour. His style is indeed for the adventurous. But I'm glad the amuse bouche, starters and wines were really good.



When in Paris, do what the Parisiens do. I had to shop. Not to satisfy my shopping cravings but more because I really need to buy some autumn/winter clothing. The weather has not been very kind and it does not help when I arrive there with a suitcase full of summer clothes. We went shopping at Galeries Lafayatte and I came out with a nice fashionable black Moncler jacket and an electric blue Karen Millen coat. Then I wanted to stop by Longchamp and we bought a foldable travel bag which is in their new collection and it came in really handy during our trip to Marbella.

 A customary visit to the Louvre.
People say if you really want to visit the whole Louvre, it will take at least a week!


It was indeed my best trip in Paris. Despite our leisure schedule, we also managed to meet some of Luc's friends and seriously, a few days in Paris seemed too short and we didn't even went on a cruise trip on the Seine river. Well, Paris would still be there and we have already planned to return in Dec!




Sunday, September 22, 2013

Patek Phillipe Baselworld 2013 @ La Nonciature, Brussel

Patek Philippe revealed its new collections at Baselworld 2013 and the watches have been displayed at La Nonciature in Brussels yesterday, which was the first day and it was followed by a welcoming dinner for guests and customers of Patek Philippe, hosted by Arnaud and Jacques Wittmann of De Greef. This year, Patek Philippe focuses on Haute Horlogerie as a manifestaton of sublime artisanship with its broad selection of debuts.


It was a great pleasure to be invited for this dinner with my partner as this is my first Patek Philippe experience and I could only say one thing that it really didn't disappoint. Luc told me that when De Greef hosts a dinner or event, they always do it really well and luxuriously. And true to the word, when we parked our car at Poelaertplein, there were already a few Porsche Cayenne and Panamera waiting to pick us up to send us to the restaurant which is somewhere around the block. Wow... this is what I called an excellent service!

 

Patek Philippe remains as an independent watchmaker passed down from generations to generations (now entering the 4th generation) and that is why their watches are so sought after. There are altogether 10 values that represents the essence of Patek Philippe and it remains until today in achieving the consistency and perfection in their prestige watchmaking. It was their rich history of watchmaking and also the reputation of their brand that makes them so successful today. 


At the display hall, we were greeted warmly by the staff and then we walked around and admire the beautiful collections by Patek Philippe while sipping a glass of Billecart-Salmon. The canapes were also delicious but nothing is more delicious and delighting than the sight of these watches.


The Gondolo collection has a new addition for the men and ladies which is their 5200-G white gold and it's a manual wound movement which I think the shiny navy blue is nice and classy when matched with a blue shirt or tie. For the ladies, the 7099-G with a case set of 480 diamonds (±3.31ct) and a hand-guilloched goal dial set with 367 diamonds (±0.56ct) and gold cabochon hour makers also came in electric blue satin strap which indeed matches the men's collection. Oh well, I didn't ask how much were these pieces but I am sure that they are ultra-expensive.


After admiring all these beautiful timepieces and followed by a short speech by Arnaud, Jacques and the brand ambassador of Patek Philippe, we adjourned to dinner upstairs. There, we were seated at a table where the partners will seat away from each other so that we can make conversations with other guests. We were at a cool table filled with guests from United Nations. Haha... we made friends from Turkey, Colombia, Spain and etc... For me, I feel really comfortable when everyone speaks English at the table.

The pressure you face at any watch dinners is that people look at the watches you wear. That's the purpose of a watch dinner right? People exchange watches and they study them like a book! I know I was wearing the wrong watch for the dinner but I don't really care. At least no one there discriminates you based on the watch you wear.


After dessert, the staff of De Greef walked to each table and presented the new collections in a very nice presentation box which holds a ladies' and a men's watch. There are two timepieces which I really like a lot during that night and it's from the Grand Complications collection. I simply think that the 5139-G with white gold is stunning which has a perpetual calendar and I do like men's watches. The 7130R from the ladies' Complications Collection with rose gold was also beautiful. I like the 24 hour day/night indication with its 24 time zones is really attractive and its bezel set with 62 diamonds (±0.82ct). All the watches looked really good on my wrist but too bad my purse doesn't weigh that much.


The new collections are indeed beautiful but of course my favourite timepiece remains a competitor. It was a nice dinner and a well-organised event. We were delighted to be part of the event and it opened my eyes to the education of fine timepieces. The Patek Philippe new collection for 2013 can be found here on their website.


Friday, September 13, 2013

In the City of Love

It's good to be back in Paris again. This must have been my 4th time in the City of Love but of all the times I have been here, this is the only time I felt the romance of this city. People always say that Paris is romantic but trust me if you come here alone or with your co-worker, there is no air of romance but probably only shopping atmosphere.

Luc booked us a room at Hotel Du Louvre which is situated just next to the Louvre and it's very convenient (especially for shopping) because the Galleries Lafayette is just within walking distance and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré  the shopping street filled with big brands is just in front of the hotel.


One of the must-eat in Paris would be its macarons. The last time I went to Laduree, I was like a little kid in a candy store and this time, they have even more flavours. My favourites remain such as the ones with framboise and lemon. Although they say Pierre Herme is the best, I've yet to try them.

This time we were a little more adventurous going for flavours such as black peppercorns like this one here in the picture and also another one with ice mint. My god... these macarons are really expensive. I think we paid like almost 2-3 euros for one macaron. I've once written about Laduree here in Dec 2010.
 
 One of my favourites - The Citron (with lemon)
The sweetness and texture is just perfect!


 Guess what's in the box?


Luc indulging in a chocolate eclair! That's one of my favourites in Paris...
Just a few macarons and an eclair is enough to fill us up during the afternoon because the chocolate filling is quite rich and creamy. Lucky we both decided to share.

One of the beautiful sights around the hotel we stayed in is the Paris Opera House. On the second morning, we decided to walk to towards the Opera House and to have breakfast around this area. There was one nice and traditional Parisien cafe next to it and it's called Cafe de la Paix. This is a very popular cafe and it's always busy.



Luc and I decided to have a simple Parisien breakfast of 2 croissants and a cup of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. You know you are in Paris when the bill comes! For that breakfast, we paid 40 euros. I told him that for 40 euros, I maybe can even have a seafood dinner in KL. Of course there are many other places for breakfast but this place is great for people watching and the cafe is very beautifully decorated.

What a wonderful day in Paris!



Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Sahaja and Sawah Villa Retreat & Spa @ Bali and Beers!

Bali was my next destination just after 2 days I came back from Langkawi. For the past 1 month, it had been really a hectic travelling schedule from Belgium to Singapore, then home and a day trip to Malacca followed by 4 days in Langkawi. Bali was an impromptu trip for my sisters and mom because my sister has 2 weeks of "holiday" before her new job commences and she decided to be generous and paid for our accommodation.  

But of course a last minute air ticket is not cheap. Air Asia gives a better flight schedule and we each paid RM1000 for the air ticket to Bali which normally could have been much less if we book it earlier. It was mom's first trip by Air Asia and she hates it already. I guess at her age, Air Asia is not a friendly airline for her. I missed their Pak Nasser Nasi Lemak onboard (not that it tastes very good but it's always the dish I will order for my flights on Air Asia) and I counted that they gave me 7 miserable peanuts on my rice dish. If you order it onboard, it's going to cost you RM15... gone are the days when it costs RM10.


Anyways, it's just a 3-hour-flight and I don't have much complaint. Yiling booked us a Villa at Sahaja and Sawah located in the Tabanan area for 5 days 4 nights. She managed to get the villa at a good deal through Groupon and we thought it was a good idea to give it a try. But what we didn't know is that the journey from the airport to the villa took us 2 and a half hours and with the addition of poorly maintained roads towards the villa at the paddy field area, we were bumping on the car seats for half an hour. I really hope that their government would do something about those roads.

After such a bumpy ride, we were relieved that we finally arrived at Sahaja and Sawah which is a boutique retreat that offers a beautiful view of the Tabanan paddy fields. There's an air of tranquillity at the retreat and it's no surprise that this area is used as a shooting location for "Eat, Pray, Love".

The consolation to such a long and bumpy journey would be their helpful and smiling staff. They were very nice in introducing the place and also helping us with our bags and luggages. We were given the end Villa and there are only 4 units of the Indah Villa with 2 bedrooms. It has a very nice view of the paddy fields and a faraway beach (which is not for suitable for swimming). All the Villas are decorated in Balinese style furnitures and lots of wood and timber are used to give it a "resort" ambiance.

Our Villa comes with a private pool (with a 1.5m depth), 2 double bedrooms, 2 open air showers with bathtubs, a kitchen and living area. The refrigerator, gas stove, cookery and cutleries are provided so that you can also cook your own meal at the villa. Most of the days we eat out (or you can also dine at their restaurant) and there were two nights where we stayed in for dinner. Their in-room menu is also commendable and there is free wifi in the villa and also at the lobby.

The Sunset View

Breakfast is provided every morning and there are a few items to choose from. My favourite is their Mie Goreng which tasted like Indomie Goreng and for a few days, I prefer their eggs, bacon and toasts menu. You can also have a glass of fruit juice, tea or coffee to go with the breakfast. The breakfast is carried into our villa by the staff every morning after we have placed an order the night before or the morning itself.


I prefer swimming with my sisters in the morning and afternoon because it can be quite chilly in this area. I found that this place is less warm and sunny compared to the Ubud and Kuta areas. Ziling enjoys sun-tanning while I enjoy swimming a few laps at the private pool.


This is definitely a nice All-Ladies-Holiday including my mom. The Lim sisters and Mommy had fun and lots of shopping. We went out on 2 days by using the transport from the hotel. It costs IDR$800,000 for a 8-hour day out and the hotel driver will take us to anywhere we like. The driver has been really nice and he even helped us to bargain at the markets and he also volunteered to carry our shopping bags. This is really a hotel with great service and staff.


I don't mind to come back again provided that something is done about the bad road conditions. This is a nice retreat away from the tourist areas in Bali and if you like tranquillity and unparalleled views of greenery, this is the place for you. If you like going out and roam around the island, then this is not recommended because going to Ubud takes almost 1 and a half hour too. 

Banjar Kelecung Kaja, 
Desa Tegal Mengkeb  Kecamatan Selemadeg Timur, 
Tabanan, Bali 82164, Indonesia
Tel: +62 361 8747489

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When I came back from Bali, I immediately asked my friends to come out for a beer. I have not seen them for a few months as I was in Belgium spending time with my partner and I missed hanging out with them. One couple recently got engaged and planning to get married next year and I wanted to take this night out to congratulate them too. There's always a reason to indulge in a pint!


I chose 42 East at Taman Tun because it's less crowdy and they are my friends' favourite football viewing place. But the best part is that they serve Kilkenny draught at a good price from 11am to 10pm at only RM55 for 3 pints! The service was very good and they allowed us to "park" our drinks too. I think that night, we easily drank 20 pints of Kilkenny.

Of course we have to have some "beer food"!!! The BBQ ribs is quite good which comes with a choice of sauces. I like the crispy bacon and the chicken wings. These are definitely good complimentary dishes to the ale. Just look at the perfectly poured Kilkenny with bacon strips... makes me want to have one too now as I was writing about this beer party with my friends.

All my Kilkenny Beer Kakis...

I miss working with them and some of them has left my previous workplace but we continue to meet up even when we are not working under the same roof. It's the camaraderie that keeps the group together. It's funny how a bunch of co-workers can turn out to be great friends instead of us killing each other in the process of climbing that corporate ladder. And for this very reason, we cheers to that!

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