Shopping in a Yurt

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We have both agreed that this place is our new fave 🙂 With a whole floor of cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind fashion from brilliant local designers and celebrated Thai couturiers showcased in contemporary tree-hugging shops, what’s not to love? Siam Central is soo refreshing and sets itself apart from the safe, tried-and-tested malls our there! Their original prices (a lot were on sale) are about ten times that of Platinum Mall’s, but then so is the quality and design exclusivity.

Global brands can be found on a different floor and restaurants are on the top floor.

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Siam Kempinski Hotel, Bangkok

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You will find hundreds of hotels close to the city’s shopping areas but we were glad we chose Siam Kempinski.  Our hotel was right across Siam Paragon, a few minutes away from Siam Central, and walking distance to the BTS train station.  And if you’re too lazy (or have too many shopping bags), buggy rides can take you to and fro Central World.   But what we were pleased about was the comfort the place offered.  The hotel is impressively designed—modern yet cozy.

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The rooms are spacious with huge beds, extra soft pillows and duvets, and your choice of subtle or bright lighting. Despite the very central location, evenings were always peaceful and calm. Not a whimper of street noises at all.

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The pool was huge and inviting with plenty of lounge

areas to get a healthy dose of Bangkok heat.

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Breakfast buffet was nothing extraordinary but we found it extra sweet that the restaurant packed us sandwiches on the (early) morning of our flight, since we would be missing the breakfast buffet. This was a first for us and something we truly appreciated 🙂

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From start to end, our stay was perfect 🙂

Three Things to Try in Key West

There are 3 things Key West is known for.

One is tasty, one is sweet, and one is spectacular.

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Served as an appetizer or finger food, these morsels are made of medium to large-sized sea snails known as “conch”.  These chunks of chewy meat held together by a batter mixed with peppers or spices are deep fried into crunchiness.

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The crown jewels of the Keys is this yellow citrus fruit, the main ingredient of the place’s most famous dessert.  Key lime is smaller and seedier, and has a greater acidity than most standard limes. Key limes also have a more tart and bitter flavor.

Made of key lime juice, egg yolks, and condensed milk, it was a lovely, tart-y, fluffy end to our meal.

Photo credit: Historictours.com

Photo credit: Historictours.com

Photo Credit: coolkeywest.com

Photo Credit: coolkeywest.com

Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square. Photo Credit: coolkeywest.comSunset Celebration at Mallory Square
Photo Credit: coolkeywest.com

There’s no escaping the famous Key West sunset.  You can catch it at Mallory Square gazing over local artists and vendors, outside your hotel balcony, or on the boat at the end of your Key West water adventure.  Some swear the sunset at Key West is the best they’ve even seen!

Photo credit: Expert Vagabond

Photo credit: Expert Vagabond

As warm as the sun is the camaraderie felt throughout the Keys whether it’s the waitress genially suggesting their Cuban food specialties, dancers inviting you to sway your hips to salsa, or artists sharing stories behind their masterpieces.  In Key West, living is easy, everybody is friendly, and the weather is fantastic.  Staying there for a couple of days felt similar to seeing an old friend after a long time.  Even though it’s a new environment you can’t help but feel at home.

Key West Water Adventure

Overflowing with energy the day after a fab Key West wedding, our group was ready for more fun.

After considering several different water adventure companies, we decided on Sebago.

We paid about $160/each for an all-day all-inclusive water fun that included jetskiing, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and parasailing.  The crew had a great dynamic among themselves.  They were fun to have around and were extremely helpful. I heard other companies can be stingy with meals but here we had a wide spread!  If you are burning calories in the middle of the sea, food is definitely a primary concern.  We were absolutely taken cared of–the staff would even hand over a beer (only after you’re done with jetskiing) before you ask for it.

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Everybody had boundless splashes of fun! I particularly enjoyed being harnessed to a parasail, suspended in the air, gliding over the ocean, and seeing different colors underwater from up above.  My friend’s 4-year old daughter couldn’t have felt safer and was all smiles throughout the experience.

You see Sebago even tailored the speed of banana boats or water dipping when parasailing to the fearlessness/fearfulness of the riders. The little girl did not get wet at all. My friend and I were dipped over and over again! It was fun!

Worth every dollar.

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Up Next: 3 Things to Try in Key West

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Que Vola from Key West

Que Vola from Florida

Que Vola!  (means  “What’s Up” in Cuban)

A hundred miles from Cuba, Key West is an island at the southernmost tip of Florida Keys.

An anchored concrete buoy in Key West, Florida marking one of the extreme points of the United States.

An anchored concrete buoy in Key West, Florida marking one of the extreme points of the United States.

Given its location, 90 miles from Cuba, the island was a natural port of call for Spanish-speaking fishermen, beginning in the early 1800s. Though English still dominates throughout the Keys, our friend and Irish’s new hubby Juan, who is part Puerto Rican was very at home speaking espanol with some of the locals.

Going around in a scooter is the best way to see Keys.   I specifically enjoyed the sea view and soft breeze along South Roosevelt, which was the way back to our hotel.  Most hotels can hook you up with rental companies.

My friend being taught how to drive a scooter. A first for her in 10 years.

My friend being taught how to drive a scooter. A first for her in 10 years.

Going out for a ride

Going out for a ride

Driving around a car is also uncomplicated.  Maps are everywhere and locals are more than friendly to help you with directions.

Key West is a come-as-you-are, let-your-hair-down, laid-back town of picket fences, eclectic shops, and warm personalities.  Overall, it gave such a charming vibe that managed to make even an adult club look wholesome.

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All-Day Water Adventure

 

Madinat Jumeirah

If you told me you had 24 hours in Dubai, aside from showing you the world’s tallest building, the largest indoor aquarium, and the most majestic of dancing fountains, I would bring you to our family’s favorite resort—Madinat Jumeirah.  It is only 15 minutes away from those tourist attractions and with the Burj Al Arab seen from there, we’ll be hitting 2 birds with one stone.

Madinat Jumeirah is particularly special to us as we celebrated last year’s (and my hubby’s first) Father’s day on these shores. My dear sister also took me here five years ago.

This place is an exotic private Arabian beach resort balancing high drama of Middle Eastern opulence with a comfy, laid back, sand-in-your-toes feel.  It is designed resemble an Arabian citadel.  “Madinat Jumeirah” actually translates to “city of Jumeirah”.

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The  beach offers a spectacular view of the Burj Al Arab.  Cabanas and huts for your ample privacy, beach toys for your kids, and large beach towels are also available.

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The resort also offers a great swim with its massive pool.   Plus the lifeguards (there’s one every few feet away) offer a sense of security.  When you get hungry, world-class restaurants are aplenty. And if you need some retail therapy, find your way to Souk Madinat for some delightful local items.

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The place is really worth a visit, whether you have a few hours or a couple of days. The beach and other facilities, however, are exclusive.  But if you just want to satisfy your curiosity, you need not check-in, just stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere 🙂

Other nearby beaches have visited:

Public Beaches:

Kite Beach

4Ă—4 Beach

Sunset Beach 

Private Beach Resorts:

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa

Six Senses Zighy Bay

Beach Getaway: Kite Beach

This beautiful shoreline formerly known as Wollongong Beach has generated appeal with the active set, especially kite surfers, thus the name.

Last Saturday, even if it was a weekend, the the crowd was small, which for me is a good thing.  Due to light wind, we didn’t find many kites either, but it fun to watch the few of them try to maneuver and control a large kite.

My dad wanted to give it a try but it was almost 5pm and we were told we needed at least 6 hours of lessons first, at 250 dirhams/hour.  A bit pricey for “trial”, if you ask me.

We flexed our muscles building sandcastles instead lol.  Lil T enjoyed frolicking on the beach but I had to move him twice away from a particular kitesurfer who was practicing on sand.

In my opinion, this beach is not particularly safe for toddlers or kids in general.  I can just imagine the hazards kiteboarding can pose to beachgoers, bystanders and even other kiteboarders.  The sand was a bit rocky too with shells and other loose particles close to the water. As much as he wanted to run to the water, we carried Lil T to in instead.

At least his sandcastle has plenty décor with all the rocks and shells that we easily found around us.

 

Location: Umm Suqeim 1 about 3km north of the Burj al-Arab, past Umm Suqeim Hospital.  The beach is located at the corner of 39a and 2nd Streets.

Other Public Beaches:

4×4 Beach

Sunset Beach 

Private Beach Resorts we’ve visited:

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa

Six Senses Zighy Bay