Sunday, 30 September 2012

My last day in Hoi An ... and the Lord Buddha listened to our prayers ... NO RAIN!

So - up early and my reward was that I received my sidecar tour of Hoi An. First through the shrimp (prawn) farms, then the rice paddy fields and finally at The Japanese Bridge ... which was built by the founders of the town - the Japanese - in the 16th century.

My "driver" was Claude - the GM of the hotel - who is a HUGE motorcycle enthusiast. There is a great story behind his 11 bikes here ... bought from the local police as "spare parts" and assembled by him & his team ... the tours he offers are amazing ... including a 2000 km jaunt to Angkor Wat ... how tempted am I???

SO - finally - Mister Tran from Dong Silk swung by to deliver my new jacket ... you can judge the result. All in all - a great day and a great stay!

Song of the Day: Wallace & Gromit - Julian Nott

More cheese Gromit?

My bathroom! Deep granite bath with jacuzzi jets!
The jacket!
Mister Tran and Monsieur Claude ...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Monsoontastic! Today was ALMOST ruined by the weather … but thankfully …

We were all up early and headed off to My Son … around 75 minutes away by car.

My Son is the Vietnamese equivalent of Angkor Wat and the temples of Siem Reap. My Son (Meeson) was built between 4 – 13th centuries AD by the Cham people – indigenous to the area then. The Hindu temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva – The Destroyer.  First built in wood, they were burnt down in a huge fire in the 7th century … rebuilt in sandstone and brick after that. There were 70 temples in 40 hectares of land in the valley that is surrounded by the Cat’s Teeth Mountains.

It was rediscovered and was started to be preserved in the 19th century by the French. In 1968, the area was carpet bombed by the Americans during the Vietnam War … only one main complex remains …

So Angkor Wat + the temples of Siem Reap are AMAZING but My Son (also a UNESCO Heritage Site) is fabulous in its own way … and a MUST see on any trip to Vietnam.

Filming was not easy. We were meant to spend three hours there … but ended up there ALL day as the heavy rain made life quite difficult. Here’s hoping for a good day tomorrow.

There’s a full moon tonight.

Song of the Day: Ordinary World – Duran Duran
At My Son
Two of the American bombs - dropped in 1968
Two new friends
Our "Man from the Ministry" shows us how to eat fries ...

Friday, 28 September 2012

I am staying in a 4-star hotel! Why? Because to get 5-star status in Vietnam, you need a nightclub or discotheque!
The weather this morning was APPALLING! We drove down to Hoi An to visit A Dong Silk – THE tailor in town. There are 400+ tailors in the town … but A Dong offers the finest quality…albeit at a higher price.
I met with the owners Do Thai Tran and his wife who have been in the business since they were children. Hoi An has been the capital of clothing in Vietnam for over 400 years.
I was fitted for a new jacket … the result you will see on Sunday!

From there we headed to Vy Diem Trinh … Miss Vy … one of the greatest chefs in Vietnam. She started cooking when she was 10 …
Her restaurant – Morning Glory – is the top restaurant in Hoi An … and the owner is just delightful.

The afternoon offered stunning weather and we filmed until our socks thinned! Time for new socks!
Song of the Day: Desperado – The Eagles

 The House Car - a VERY old and rare Citroen...
 With Claude Balland - the hotel General Manager
 Interview ...
Fitting ...
 More fitting ...
What's the story ...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Greetings from Vietnam!

It's been a long day so I will be brief. 

A VERY sad farewell from Christian and Raffles this morning ... Sally & Emma (woof) turned up to wave us off ...

We are now in Hoi An, Vietnam.

More tomorrow!

p.s. NO Facebook here ... yes, really!

Song of the Day: Rise - PIL

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Last day/night in Cambodia ... time for some fun!

The hot area of town is called "Pub Street" ...

I am unhappy about my appearance this evening as I have been bitten by a mosquito ... on the top of my left EAR! I look a wee mutated ... boohoo ...

ANYWAY - up early and headed to the kitchen of the Executive Chef of Raffles - Wade James - who taught me how to create a typical Khmer dish ... with local fresh fish and curry paste. There is no chili in Cambodian cuisine - just spices. Yummy!

I had the afternoon off - swimming in the hot, hot swimming pool and packing for tomorrow - when we head off to Vietnam.

Cambodia ... ahhhhh ... Siem Reap ... ahhhhhhhh! The temples, the cuisine, the hotels, the people ... what a fabulous place. Yes, Angkor Wat is a true "Wonder of the World" but so is the city and all it has to offer.

-- By the way, the feedback for the news series was GREAT! I am so proud of the team and what we are achieving -- 

Song of the Day: Careless Whisper - George Michael

With dear Sally (Amansara) and Christian (Raffles) at Miss Wong - the hottest bar in town!
After dinner at the hottest restaurant in town ...
Wade - and THE dish (erm ... not me, obviously!)
Wade goes shopping!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The NEW series of Inside Luxury Travel starts airing TONIGHT on Travel Channel (& Travel Channel+1) in Europe (not UK) /Middle East/Africa - 1900hrs CET - and tonight we're in Western Australia. We visit Perth and Margaret River ...

Yes - we are back on air - with the NEW series! So exciting! The UK starts airing on Friday ...

So today was shopping! Fashion & shopping to be exact!

First stop - Eric Raisina - one of Cambodia's leading fashion designers who uses silk as his staple. He was born in Madagascar ... moved to Paris ... then here. He uses Golden Silk and all other local silk to produce (all in-house) lovely pieces.

From there I met up with Christian (GM from Raffles) and we headed to Artisans Angkor ... the main boutique and the workshops where they carve amazing sandstone statues, work with wood, silver and lacquer. AA even helped restore Angkor Wat ... We met the CEO of AA - Alain Brun - nice fellow who is instrumental in taking untrained people from the villages, training them and giving them great jobs ... 

Song of the Day: Teenage Dreams - Katy Perry

 Wish You Were Here!
 With Eric's muse - Srey Pove
 The serious side of fashion - Srey and Eric ... and - erm ... me!


Monday, 24 September 2012

Greetings from Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Siem Reap.

The hotel was originally built in 1932 ... it's one of the few "grande dame" hotels left in the world. It has 119 rooms & suites - including 2 x 2 bedroom villas ... of which I have one! Yay!

The Grand is quite colonial ... like Raffles Singapore ... and it's "old school" with modern technology hidden discretely.

There's a 35 metre outdoor pool -- restaurants -- shops -- bars (The Elephant Bar is exquisite) -- and a lovely Spa. In my suite, I get loads of complimentary champagne, brand, whisky ... and massages! I am loving it!

My bathroom has a 1930's claw-foot cast iron tub ... very cool!

It's been a VERY humid day ...

Happiness - I went for a swim in the pool at 0300 ... while the hot rain was bucketing down in a monsoon sploosh! Marvellous ... 

Song of the Day: Ray Charles - Chiddy Bang

Snooze anyone?
No - that's a shower attachment..
The fabulous General Manager - Christian Sack ... 

A birdcage elevator
The Pool
Janet Chan - from the hotel - has been looking after us! She has a great figure!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

My job is to promote tourism but today I saw a side of tourism that frankly makes me wonder if some people should be ALLOWED to travel at all.

Today we filmed in one of the most amazing man-made structures in the world - Angkor Wat ... however my visit was sullied after I got into almost fisticuffs with some Australian tourists who were having a "spitting competition" in the Hindu Temple ... and some Russian ladies who thought it was okay to wear bikini tops and hot-pants in a Buddhist Temple (& pose provocatively in photographs). Have these people no manners? Have these people no education? Do these people deserve visitor visas? NO x 3. I must say that the authorities here MUST take a harder stance on at least the dress code. Can you imagine if someone from Cambodia spat in the foyer of St Paul's Cathedral or wore a bikini to The Vatican ... there would be an international incident. Rant over.

Greetings from one of the two "presidential" villas at Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor.

I have just been for a swim in the middle of a monsoon downpour and am now tucked up in bed with my laptop and a lovely glass of brandy!

I was treated to a two hour Thai massage this afternoon ... bone-cracking fun!

So this morning we were up at 0400 to get to Angkor Wat for 0500 and the legendary sunrise. I drank some coffee for the first time in months ... erm ... it was almost a disaster!

Anyway - we did beat the sunrise and I got to explore Angkor Wat ("wat" means temple) - the Hindu Temple built in the 12th century. It is the largest Hindu Temple in the world - the total area of the temple and the moated area around it is 200 acres. It was built in reverence of Lord Shiva (destroyer) but also Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. It is made of lava and sandstone.

It is simply a wonder of the world ... magnificent and amazing and ... well ... VISIT!

I had two expert guides with me - Mr Moth Mean and Mr Yoko - who ensured that we got the best camera shots and yesterday we - of course - got aerials from the helicopter.

There are around 200 temples in Siam Reap - built from the 6 - 12th centuries - and we then headed to Bayon ... a Buddhist Temple -- complete with 54 towers and 216 smiling faces on them ... 

Finally it was Ta Prohm - another Buddhist Temple that has been almost destroyed by tree roots... a remarkable site. Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so countries from all over the world are trying to save this temple from totally falling apart.

An unforgettable day ... for many reasons.

A very sad farewell to Amansara was also mixed in there ...

Song of the Day: Eloise - The Damned

Angkor Wat at dawn - that is a coffee induced smile by the way!

View from Helicopters Cambodia

Ta Prohm
With Mr (not so) Mean - fabulous guide!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

I have never "got naked" with a hotel General Manager ... but today ... well ... let's say, it was close!

So - up early to spend the day with lovely Sally Baughen - the General Manager of Amansara. Our first stop was Wat (temple) Atwear - fifteen minutes drive from the hotel.

Here we were given a water blessing - to cleanse our hearts and souls ... and to bring prosperity in our lives. We had to wear sarongs (and go "commando" for it to work!) ... and we were drenched by a monk. The monk chanted & poured for over ten minutes ... I was worried that he may have misunderstood the ritual ... and I had just been married! Ha! During the civil war, the monk went undercover and became a rice farmer to avoid being executed by Pol Pot's men ...

From there, we drove to Tonle Sap (lake) where we boarded the SS Amansara ... a luxury lake boat - the first & only in Cambodia - for lunch. The lake is enormous and swells to 3 times its size and height during the monsoon. There are floating villages here - complete with schools, shops and basketball courts! Even though it is extremely humid in Siam Reap - the breeze from the lake was refreshing ...

The boys spent the afternoon in a helicopter filming while I went for a long with Emma the lovable Pooch around Ankor ... 

Song of the Day: Hot in the City - Billy Idol

The SS Amansara

Tim with the lovely Annie Fine from Helicopters Cambodia ...
blogger template powered by fraktiv