not crabby in krabi

My friend, Suzanne, and I made the lightning quick flight to the southern Thailand town of Krabi from Bangkok earlier this year. Even though our visit was during rainy season, we never felt crabby in this brilliant beach town facing the Andaman Sea.
Low tide

One of two daily low tides

We stayed at the beauteous Nakamanda Resort and Spa which was located on a private cove in the quiet and secluded Klong Muang area of Krabi.

Nice pool we didn't get to use too much of at the Nakamanda.

Dazzling pool at the Nakamanda

We made time to visit the night market and even made the scene one evening at a 70′s club on touristy Ao Nang beach. Otherwise, we were quite content relaxing in our villa, spa-ing, and indulging in some delectable dishes! Our best dining happened in the form of a corn waffle from the market and the freshest seafood joint down the beach from our resort.
Thai shrimp on the beach

Thai shrimp with tamarind sauce on the beach

And we were very lucky that the rain let up just enough to let us trek on elephants in the lush jungle at Nosey Parker’s Elephant Camp:
Best part of trip was getting to know Suzanne better. This was our first jaunt together. We have since made another one to Hong Kong and are heading back to Bangkok next month! I know a good travel buddy (have you heard me mention Laura?) when I see one. Saigon LOVE to Suzanne and all, Lisa
Our frequent Krabi window view : (

Our frequent Krabi window view…sigh

all aboard!

Laura and I recently journeyed over 1,200 miles from Singapore to Bangkok on the Orient Express’ Eastern and Oriental line. We decided to make the most of our one night in Singapore and stayed at what is often billed as the world’s greatest hotel…the Raffles Hotel. Since 1887, this hotel has been a destination in of itself and exudes a colonial ambiance and history that no other hotel can match.

Enjoying a Singapore Sling

Raffles is home of the Singapore Sling

Chicken Satay

A trip to Singapore is not complete without chicken satay!

Captivating Raffles Hotel

Stunning Raffles Hotel

The next morning we boarded the train and settled in to our TINY compartment, which was ingeniously designed to hold all of our luggage with room left over to breathe! Now, it was time to explore our glamourous new environment. We adored the open air observation car and spent relaxing time with a coffee (or beer!) watching the lush landscape pass us by.  Lunch and dinner was served in one of three ornate dining cars (breakfast served in our compartment) and often we were seated with fascinating passengers from around the world. There was also a bar car with pianist and for one evening…Thai dancers.

Our cozy compartment...bunk bed over me!

Our cozy compartment…bunk bed over me!

After a brief stop the first night at the historic Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, we disembarked the second day at the Butterworth railway station for our visit to George Town on Penang Island, Malaysia. By motor coach, we crossed the longest bridge in Malaysia to the Penang capital of George Town. We toured this delightfully historic town by trishaw. The multi-cultural heritage was evident by the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. We saw vibrant markets, elaborate temples, mosques and colonial architecture throughout the city.

Laura enjoying her trishaw ride through George Town

Laura enjoying her trishaw ride in George Town

On our third and final day, we visited the Thailand-Burma Railway. You probably know it best from the Academy Award winning motion picture Bridge over the River Kwai. The railway is an extraordinary 257 miles in length over mountainous jungle and unbelievably constructed with hand tools and some dynamite in just twelve months in 1942 during WWII at a cost of over 130,000 lives.

Bridge over the River Kwai

Bridge over the River Kwai

DSC_2405

Final resting place of thousands who perished building the Thailand-Burma Railway.

Were you worried that I forgot to make a movie? You are one of the select few to get a sneak peek of this Spring’s blockbuster – Mystery on the Orient Express. Feast your eyes:

We had a hunch this might be one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” trips. We were correct! Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa

these are a few of my favorite things…

…in Bangkok! This huge capital of Thailand is one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities with magnificent temples and palaces, fabulous shopping and an exciting nightlife that has something for everyone. Outside of the obligatory palace and temple visits, here are some of the things I love most about Bangkok:

  • What better way to start this list…dumplings! No trip to Bangkok is complete for me without a visit to the sumptious Benjarong restaurant in the regal Dusit Thani Bangkok hotel. These are the most charming chicken and peanut dumplings of all time that were first made for an ancient Thai princess!

Sometimes I feel bad eating these cute little dumplings…NOT!

  • This is a city that lives on its canals as much as its streets, hence the nickname: “Venice of the East.”  Life in Bangkok has always centered around the Chayo Praya River and its network of canals (called Khlongs). Many of the canals were filled in to make way for new streets and buildings. But via boat, you can still see life along the river and canals. Many of  Bangkok’s major attractions (ancient temples, palaces and floating markets) lie along the river making a river/canal ride a feast for the eyes.

Longtail boat ride along the Chayo Praya River.

  • Bangkok is a shopping mecca. You can find everything from high end luxury items to inexpensive knock offs. On a recent visit, I finally made it to the 35 acre Chatuchak weekend market and immediately fell in love. Just wish I had the time to visit all 8,000 stalls! I also adore shopping at the new riverfront Asiatique night market and Siam Paragon, one of the largest malls in Southeast Asia. Across the street from Siam Paragon is one more must-go-shopping stop: the MBK shopping center. No better place to find ANYTHING and my favorite place for Thai souvenirs and electronics. You could spend months in Bangkok and not make a dent in the shopping scene…gotta love that!

Just one of 8,000 stalls at the Chatuchak weekend market!

  • An oasis in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok is the Jim Thompson House and Museum. Jim Thompson was an American architect, retired Army officer, one-time spy, and renowned antique collector who fell in love with Thailand while stationed there during WWII. He is often credited with almost single handedly bringing back the Thai silk industry in the 1950′s when he started his hand woven silk business. To showcase his objets d’art, he constructed an architectural six-building masterpiece recycling old teak house parts to create an absolutely stunning home. Tragically, Jim Thompson mysteriously disappeared in the jungle while visiting friends in Malaysia. At the time of his disappearance, he was the most famous American living in Asia. To this day, this mystery has not been solved. His home is now a lovely museum with lush tropical gardens, koi fish ponds, a great restaurant and gift shop. His silk legacy survives through the many Jim Thompson gift shops in Thailand.

Living room with stairs leading to the canal at Jim Thompson House and Museum

  • Many consider Bangkok as the best place in the world for street food. Seriously, it should be a highlight of anyone’s visit here. Often, it is cooked to order over a fire wok. You can find anything from noodles, soups, curries, rice, insects, sweets, whole roasted corn, omelets, minced pork balls, papaya salad, tiny soft shell crabs and a thousand more dishes. My fave find so far was the roasted oysters with an unbelievable sauce. Usually, the accompanying sauce to any of these dishes has the balance of four flavors that Thais say are a must in every meal: sweet, salty, sour and spicy. And talk about cheap…most of these dishes cost less than $1.00!

This guy is actually frying in the street!

  • Once you figure it out, Bangkok has many transportation choices. With horrendous 24/7 traffic, I try to avoid taxis (even the hot pink ones!) and jump on the efficient metro subway or sky train. And a tuk tuk is always a fun option. Just make sure you agree on the price before you get in. Every time you turn around, a cab or tuk tuk driver is trying to take you to a store where they get a kickback or on an overpriced tour!

I didn’t really drive this tuk tuk.

  • One of the reasons for my multiple Bangkok visits is to take advantage of the very modern and affordable health care. Also, a very convenient one hour and fifteen minute flight from Saigon!

I feel like I am in an episode of the Jetsons when I visit Bangkok International Dental Center!

  • Two words: Singha beer!

And it tastes best over ice at my favorite Benjarong restaurant!

  • The people of Bangkok are so very warm and friendly that you can’t help but love them! They are laid back and kind of take life as it comes. It is very endearing to observe how they embrace their history, culture and vibrant lifestyle.


Leaving you with my favorite Bangkok photo taken at the Jim Thompson House and Museum. Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa

bangkok love – a foreign affair

Bangkok is everything and more that I imagined!  Everything was so vibrant and colorful including the very friendly people.  With a blend of Thai, Chinese, Indian, Buddhist, Muslim and Western cultures, it is a very popular tourist destination and one of the largest cities in Asia with a population of about 12 million.  You can’t begin to imagine the traffic…rush hour is 24/7!

Let me set up this video clip you are about to enjoy.  The first thing I noticed was that there was a BIG national ministers election going on. Campaigns of 37 parties were in full swing for a July 3rd election.  Posters and motor caravans with loudspeakers were everywhere.

The next thing that caught my eye were all the little spirit houses. They are common throughout Thailand and are in front of every house and building. Thai people are very superstitious and these spirit houses are built when a new house or business opens for the spirits to move to so that they are not displaced and displeased. Everyone brings prayers and small gifts to appease the spirits which are represented by small figurines and sometimes a Buddha.  Besides incense, candles and other gifts you will see  jasmine garlands, called phuang malai, adorning the spirit houses.

I had the great pleasure of visiting the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha (actually three Buddhas in different costumes for winter, summer and rainy seasons) and the Jim Thompson Museum House.  Jim Thompson was an American architect who fell in love with Bangkok after WWII and is credited with bringing the Thai silk industry to the prominence it enjoys today.  Jim Thompson disappeared in 1967 while on a visit to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. To this day no one knows what happened to him. His traditional Thai house which fronts a Bangkok canal remains as a lasting reminder of his creative ability and his deep love of Thailand. The house is spectacular and his silk stores are still thriving!

You will also get a peek at my awesome dinner on the Wan Fah cruise on the Chao Phaya River.  The food and entertainment were delightful and cruising the river on an antique rice barge past all the temples and palaces was a surreal experience.

And I had a big time  at the Silom Cooking School.  I learned how to cook pad thai, papaya salad, spring rolls with sweet chilies sauce, masaman curry and fried bananas.  It was a super fun way to spend an afternoon with others from all over the world.  Here is the yummy recipe I learned for the sweet chilies sauce:

1/2 cup vinegar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp salt
1/2 red spur chili
2 tsp freshly chopped garlic
1/4 cup water
Finely pound red spur chili and garlic together.  In a small saucepan, simmer vinegar, sugar, garlic, chilies and water over medium heat until sauce is thick.  Remove from heat and garnish with sliced chilies.

Bangkok was an experience I won’t soon forget. You are always greeted with the “WAI” which is the traditional Thai greeting.  It is a bow with both of your hands together  in front of your chin and you say “Sawasdee”!

Sorry for the delay in my Bangkok post, but Miss Paul Studios is a one-woman-show and I am very busy scouting locations in Central Vietnam, Australia and Hong Kong for upcoming productions. Congratulations to Gabrielle Vogt for the winning title submission of this video. Enjoy your little sumpin’ sumpin’ coming in the mail. I sent three so that you can share a little Bangkok love if your heart so desires!


bangkok!

Exciting times in Bangkok, Thailand! I am capturing everything for my Thai blockbuster scheduled for release next week. Here is a little preview:

Of course, you must wait till I am back in my Saigon Miss Paul studios for the finished production. Meanwhile, I could use some help for the movie title. Let me hear from you, witty Saigon Lovers! Deadline is June 24th. The winning submission gets a little sumpin’ sumpin’ from Bangkok in the mail. Bangkok LOVE to all, Lisa

P.S. Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I am so grateful for you EVERYday and for all the blessings of being your daughter. Your Bangkok sumpin’ sumpin’ is on the way. LOVE YOU ALWAYS, Daughter Número Uno

Love my Dad!

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