The long lost blog I have been promising to write since January.
I had this list of things to accomplish while in my ex-eyeL and today alas, I think it is over. I am venturing up to the seventies. Considering I have not left a two block radius except for the party in twelve days this is big.
I’m looking like a version of normal. I now look like I might have gotten drunk tripped over a table and come down with pink eye all in the same night.
I can live with that. Many people have that experience.
So I HAVE to write this blog as I am about to set off on a new adventure on Monday and I’m think of adding a “tips” section to this blog.
ASIA wow, that was so long ago
But when I returned I had endless emails asking about places I went and many basic questions.
The one place I truly am a bit of PW – all kidding aside, I will go anywhere and have been all over. I love to travel and always have.
I have a section in my book BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HOT PLACE, had to do it, when I talk about a trip to Romania I took with my mother in 1971. Now let me tell you NOBODY went to Romania in 1971. My mother in all of it is a bit of PW in her own right she went to China in 1975. NOBODY went to China, except Nixon in 1975. So I inherited this wanderlust gene.
When I met Glenn he used to go to Europe only. Now the guy is happiest in an Asian bar with a Cohiba chatting up tycoons and pretty young things.
BTW – Re yesterday’s blog, I think he does find Bethany hot, as when I read him the piece and sort of accused him of it, he didn’t deny it. I will show him the show when she is naked and watch for a response.
But I digress yet again…
ASIA – BIG PLACE
I don’t say that glibly. Well of course I do, I say most things glibly even when I’m sad or serious. But it is a big place and you have to kind of focus.
I am one of those travelers who is not happy staying in one country for three weeks unless it’s India as in India you can travel about and visit what feels like twenty countries on one sub-continent.
But in Asia you have to focus.
There are different types of travel focus.
My fiend Buck Henry goes to one country stays for one month and sees every nook and cranny.
There is a big upside to that, he has been to Thailand once and has seen the entire country. I have been to Thailand seven times and tend to only end up in Bangkok and once I went to Phukett.
But especially when you are traveling with kids and life being what it is, I like to cram in as many different cultural experiences as I can.
The trip we took in December and January was Japan, Thailand, Viet Nam and Cambodia.
People think this sounds like a lot. It is.
Far away – it is.
Complicated – not really.
Interesting – beyond.
Worth It – like you cannot imagine.
Expensive – doesn’ t have to be.
Asia is still much cheaper than Europe or the Caribbean or Hawaii or many places Americans tend to flock.
The most expensive part is the airfare.
We always make these trips using miles. We have a lot of miles.
Anyone who has an Amex card has miles with Delta. Most people know this, but if you have not used your AMEX points you have Delta miles. Delta has many global partners. They can get you anywhere. The secret is you have to book early. Especially if you are going peak season.
I book a year in advance.
For example I am presently booking next XMAS in India.
If you don’t the mileage miles the price is high.
Unless you can fly coach for 19 hours, which I refuse.
The other thing with using miles is you usually cannot fly directly into a city; you have to make a stop or two.
I prefer to stop somewhere and get out of the plane for say two days and then carry on.
So this last trip we had to stop somewhere.
We flew directly from here to Tokyo.
This was a great choice, as the girls had not seen Tokyo.
It was only two days, but they got the flavor and both are longing to go back.
From Tokyo it is then a six-hour flight to Bangkok. You think a lot of these countries are close to each other, they are not.
But we needed to get to the South so we were close to Viet Nam and Cambodia as that was the main focus of the trip.
Traveling with some one as young as Lucy I like to ease her into places, so Bangkok was a good stepping stone for Cambodia where not having been, I didn’t know what to expect. Plus Bangkok rocks. It really does.
Since I blogged the things we did, I’m leaving all that out.
From Bangkok it really is a one-hour flight to Cambodia and then Cambodia is an hour flight to Viet Nam.
Viet Nam to New York well, it is what it is.
But if you are paying for your ticket and not using miles there are few direct flights. Air France seems to be the best choice for that.
Tokyo is expensive. Japan is expensive all those jokes…
“I had a coke and a grilled cheese in Tokyo and it cost fifty dollars?” It’s not a joke.
The two hundred dollar taxi from the airport; it’s true.
There are ways to get around it for certain things,
The public transportation system is the best in the world probably. It requires some Japanese to really master.
Glenn and I got lost a few years ago when we ventured out of town so I could see Sumo Wrestlers in training. I LOVE SUMO WRESTLERS.
Adore. Love. Love. Love. I want one for a friend. A BFSW. Best Friend Sumo Wrestler.
But we kind of got lost, though we made it back.
You can take a bus in from the airport. You can stay in cheaper hotels
And if you pop into any local noodle house you can eat amazingly well for very little.
Admittedly, It’s not the way I travel. If you want my places, here goes…
Good hotels are plentiful in Tokyo. I have stayed in many.
The best by far in my opinion is The Peninsula.
I’m one of those people I would rather stay two nights in a great hotel than four in a mediocre one. If you’re going and it’s in your budget. It is so worth it.
THE PENINSULA TOKYO
Tel # – (81-3) 6270 2888 FAX – (81-3) 6270 2000
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
The other hotel I really like is
THE HOTEL SEIYO GINZA
1-11-2 Ginza Chou-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061 Japan
Toll Free: 1-800-745-8883 in the US or Click here for toll free near you.
Tel: (81-3) 3535-1111
If you go you have to go to the TOKYO TOWER
Start off your trip this way it gives you the whole scope of this vast city. I don’t know how it took me five trips to discover it. Go early, go on a weekday and you avoid huge crowds. In fact you almost have the place to yourself.
Tel – 03-3433-5111
FAVORITE TEMPURA BAR
Main Shop GInza
Tel – 03-3571-1949
It has been good for ten years. Never lets you down.
Shopping in Tokyo in the Ginza or major areas is like shopping in any big city in the world. They all clone each other now.
To get to the heart of the Tokyo Street life and fashion, you must venture out to Harajuku, it’s Williamsburg, the East Village, and more rolled into one.
You just have to wander and you will find more cool things than you can ever imagine. Just walk and walk and eat street food, you can there and you will have the time of your life.
The other cool hood is Shibuya. This is where you find the things you don’t find in London, Paris or New York, plus in both neighborhoods you see those great Japanese girls dressed like a cross between Hello Kitty and Amy Winehouse.
My friend Harper who goes to Japan a lot on business has this to say about it.
“I would take the subway to Omotesando (upscale neighborhood with cool stores and architecture, especially the Prada store) and walk around, then descend the hill to Shibuya, stopping at the department store (name I’ve forgotten) that caters to teenage girls. It might be called Shibuya 109.
When you get to Omotesando head towards:
http://www.ratholegallery.com (be sure to print the map, else you’ll not find it)
You’ll pass Prada and Hysteric Glamour is next door.
There is also a Casa del Habano in Ginza not far from your hotel. Good place to buy some cigars. (Glenn likes cigars)
The foot massage shops on Ginza are good for 1/2 hour jet lag nap.”
The other thing in Japan that rocks your world are the department stores.
The problem with shopping in Japan if you are an American woman is they stock pretty much size one by our standards. If you have a size ten foot like me don’t bother even trying.
TAKASHMAYA – nothing like the one here
MATSUYA DEPT STORE – best makeup brushes in the world.
Both stores big outposts are in The GInza, but Tokyo is huge and they have stores scattered all over.
Don’t miss the food courts – the best part and everyone fits into food!
The sights are the sights and every guidebook will point you in the right direction.
THE MADARIN ORIENTAL has been voted the best hotel in the world
for so many years it’s like an Emmy award going to the same show.
It is a great hotel. I have stayed there many times.
My friend Bryan Bantry who has a total handle on Bangkok swears by
You want to be on the river, I feel like why else go.
Bangkok is a wanderer’s city. You just take off and go.
You have to do The Temples and the shopping is everywhere.
For antiques – anywhere around the Oriental is good.
Clothes – same ole same ole – Western Shops
But to get things made. The best I have found in many trips there is
JAMES FASHION INTERNATIONAL
439/1 SUKHOTHAI ROAD
Tel – (662) 668-2993-5
Once they have your measurements they can send you anything.
The tailors are everywhere the good ones are hard to find.
Everyone will tell you theirs is the best, sort of like doctors, you have to find what works for you. But I like these people. For us, they did a great job.
THESE TIPS COME FROM MY FRIEND BRYAN BANTRY
64/27 shang-plaza opposite Shangri-La hotel
NOT remotely touristy…real Thai people visit the following
baan klang nam restaurant Address: 288 Soi 14, Th Phra Ram III | Thanon Tok, Bangkok, Thailand Phone: 0 2292 0175 Website: http://www.baanklangnam.net/
(top rated by FT in london)
yok yor 94 Soi Charoen Nakorn 21, Banglumprulang
Bangkok 10700 Thailand +66 02 860 1266 7 / +66 02 439 3477 8
also THE GOOD VIEW restaurant which is a bit slicker but still yummy… ask concierge for directions
the vietnamese restaurant XUAN MAI…
Xuan Mai 32 Sukhumvit Soi 13, near BTS Na Na Phone: 02-251-8389 Tue-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:30pm-midnight
Bryan’s best tip is he is sharing his driver.
Now you need a driver there and drivers in Asia are inexpensive and make life so easy.
It’s one of the things I miss when I get back are these totally RHWONYC words coming out of my mouth.
Where is my driver?
Oriental Escape Bangkok Transfer
011 66 2881 8710
011 66 2881 8711
mobile 84 560 5000
Thailand is 12hrs ahead of NY local time
manager mr Chayabhatra
+ 66 2881 8710-1 hours mon – sat 10a 6p
wit new mobile + 66 84 560 5000
It is a third the price of what the hotels charge and they will pick you up at the airport and if you travel like we do you need a van. They also accept plastic over the phone or internet.
Despite my many trips there Bryan goes twice a year and knows much more about it than I do.
SAIGON or HO CHI MINH CITY
Depends on how PC you want to be
As I told you in the blogs, the people there mostly call it Saigon
PARK HYATT SAIGON (see)
2 Cong Truong Lam Son, Quan 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Tel – 84 8 3824 1234
Great hotel and I am a snob when it comes to these things.
Again, the sights are the sights
I talked about them when I was blogging and they are made more than evident when you arrive.
These are just some of the little places we found.
There is Lacquer everywhere and like everything else there is lacquer and there is lacquer.
HUONG NGA FINE ARTS OF LACQUER, LTD
202 D 5 Street Ward 25, Binh Thanh District
Tel – 84 8 3899 2098
Email – Nga@HuongNgaFineArts.vn
Website – www.HuongNgaFineArts.vn
Clothes and all are fine. Though for the most part they are not up to other places yet in terms of style.
But it’s fun to walk around.
If you are at the Park Hyatt the whole district there is called District One.
That sort of tells you all you need to know.
If you wander around you will find your own treasures.
The best resort I have ever stayed at is
THE NAM HAI
Tel – (84) 510 3 940 000
It’s in Hoi An.
You fly into DANANG
They are all close to each other.
The great thing about it is not only is it an amazing place.
But if you plant yourself there for five days you can day trip to some of the great sights of VN.
The Old Port City of Hoi An a day of total magic.
We didn’t make it but HUE a world heritage sight as is Hoi An is right there – a six hour drive away.
THE MARBLE MOUNTAINS
I cannot tell you what a magical place this is.
Hoi An is filled with artists, artists studios and galleries.
Glenn is the knowledgeable one about that stuff in our family
He felt in Hoi An these two really stood out.
CO. ART GALLERY
18 Nguyen Thi Minh Khi St,
Hoi An City – VN
Tel – 05103862123
Email – email@example.com
51 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Hoi An
mobile- 0905 206395
We did not have anything made but in terms of silk we found this one place
142 Tran Phu St. Hoi An Town
Tel – 051039115670914
SIEM REAP – CAMBODIA
I like typing Cambodia it gives me a chill and makes me want to run and grab my passport.
The place is teaming with hotels.
We stayed at
THE RAFFLES as it’s the oldest. The most authentic and we loved it.
There are newer ones.
Cambodia like Viet Nam is still very reasonable in terms of cost
One of the many things that makes my marriage work is Glenn loves to shop as much as I do. And he is totally unapologetic about it.
Siem Reap is not brimming with shops yet.
Though there is a lot of chic stuff coming out of Phnom Penh
Siem Reap is really still about the Temples as well it should be
But we found two retail gems.
Remember my story about Frederic and drinking champagne by his pink and yellow pool in the jungle?
If you don’t remember the pink bowl from PW piece two days ago?
I got that at his shop.
WA Gallery Concept Store
FCC ANGKOR.POKAMBOR AVE
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
TEL- 855(0) 92746287
If you are really nice to Frederic and it’s really easy to be nice to Frederic, he’s divine. He might just ask you back to the house for midnight champagne.
Tell him you’re friends of ours.
Next door to Frederic is
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Really pretty things designed by an Australian who lives and works in Phnom Penh.
Don’t you just love the world?
I want to go now- again – just writing this.
I’m going to be very generous and share one of my best resources with you a truly great travel agent.
Ben Shubitz – 212-592-1372
And if it gives you any indication of how good Ben is I’m tougher on my travel agents than I am my doctors!