I have traveled several times to Hong Kong, I was happy to jump into this FAM trip as Hong Kong is one of my favorite destination to visit. Many would agree, locals in particular, and experienced travelers in general, that Hong Kong is an amazing place to visit, though not necessarily to live in. Why? Well the major reason is that you have to be rich to buy a half-decent apartment, in addition to how crowded it gets, the traffic jams, pollution and the unstable politics. All of which you would not have to deal with when you are visiting, and at least it won’t get in your skin as much as it does for a local. Hong Kong – “Pearl of the Orient” – many reasons to visit but by far the best for us on this trip was the shopping!!! The jaw dropping scene you`ll witness when you go to Causeway Bay, the shopping paradise many would call, will take you from one ridiculously large mall to another, it’s Hong Kong’s response to Time Square.
Upon arrival to Hong Kong airport we were met at the gate and shuttle transfered to Immigration & Customs. Limousine was ready to transport us to Four Seasons Hong Kong.
FOUR SEASONS HONGKONG, 2 nights stay
On Hong Kong Island, the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong chinese modern is how I would describe the large rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of Victoria Harbor, Victoria Peak and Kowloon.
Four Seasons Hong Kong is a 15-minute walk from the trendy restaurants and pubs at Lan Kwai Fong and Soho. It is within a 10-minute walk from The Central Pier, where guests can hop on a ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui and other islands. Hong Kong MTR subway station is a convenient 10-minute walk through the International Finance Centre (IFC), directly linked to the hotel.
Lung King Heen serves authentic Cantonese cuisine (2 Michelin Star award winning restaurant, see picture Chef and group), and Caprice features an open kitchen serving French food. Blue Bar and the Lounge provides a daily breakfast for guests. In the evenings, enjoy a cheese and wine pairing experience at Caprice Bar.
We flew Hong Kong Airlines to Bali 5 hour flight. Business Class was amazingly comfortable and with unbelievable service.
Upon arrival to Bali we were met by ASIA WORLD INDONESIA – Virtuoso Tour operator Asia World. We quickly transferred to Jimbaran.
Bali – a sacred island, exotic, timeless cultural and heart warming people was what we head to experience. With dramatic volcanoes, soaring seaside cliffs, green rice-terraced valleys and mystical temples hidden in traditional villages, Bali defies simple descriptions. This is where you fall in love.
The Balinese people are the nicest and friendliest people that I’ve met in Southeast Asia. They’re inquisitive, helpful and incredibly polite. They’re gentle. They’re intensely family-oriented. Their spiritual beliefs shape their lives, and many aspects of their lifestyle haven’t changed in centuries.
Become a millionaire – There’s nothing like the thrill you get when you lay your hands on your first million. In Bali, with an exchange rate of around 10,000 Indonesian rupiah for one US dollar, you can make it for only one hundred dollars! But, before you get too excited, the enterprising Balinese traders will more than likely quote you dollar prices for those lovely curios you want to take home. Don’t worry, you will still score a bargain or two.
Learn to ride the waves – Bali has been a mecca for surfers ever since the pioneering students discovered its perfect swells in the 60s. If you’ve ever wanted to surf, book a course at one of the surfing schools on the island. Within a few days you could be riding the waves like a pro. You can buy a five-day package for around 120 US dollars. You can hire a board there, so all you need to bring is your sexiest swimsuit.
Balinese massage is part of the traditional culture and the spas on the island use the freshest ingredients from the jungles and gardens. There are hundreds of places to choose from, ranging from simple massage huts in Kuta to lavish spas such as the award-winning spa at the Four Seasons Hotel outside Ubud.
FOUR SEASONS JIMBARAN BAY, 2 night stay
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, is three kilometres from Jimbaran Beach. Situated atop a cliff and overlooking the white sand beach, this Balinese luxury resort features Balinese-style thatched-roof luxurious villas within walled tropical gardens. The resort offers 156 villas with unobstructed views of Jimbaran Bay. All villas feature oversized indoor and outdoor living areas, lush gardens, a private pool, bathing pavilion and a sun terrace with ocean view. All opulent guestrooms feature fully equipped kitchens or kitchenettes, premium bedding, plasma TV, CD and DVD player with Bose entertainment system and luxury accessories in the bathrooms. Wired or wireless Internet access is available in all villas. Relish grilled food with seafood and steak specialties at Sundara that offers beach and Jimbaran Bay views. Guests can taste authentic Indonesian cuisine at Taman Wantilan with panoramic bay views. Pool Terrace Cafe offers light bites like salads and sandwiches. Enjoy a refreshing passion fruit martini or toast the end of a perfect day with a delicious sundowner at Terrace Bar and Lounge. Guests can make use of the fitness center featuring a modern aerobics studio, along with a state-of-the-art gym with the latest cardiovascular machines and free weights. Water sports include windsurfing, canoeing, sailing, kayaking and snorkeling. Immerse yourself in the infinity-edge and free-form pools with breathtaking view of the bay. Revitalize your body and mind in the holistic spa featuring an array of body and beauty treatments. A 24-hour business center provides business service including Japanese translations and interpretations, computers, complimentary wireless Internet access, cellular phone rentals and airline reservations.
Early morning Blessing at Four Seasons.
We traveled to Kuta (I wouldn’t recommend hanging out here, beach is pretty dirty), Nusa Dua (great cleaner beach) and Seminyak before arriving Uluwatu.
The Seminyak area, which used to be a quiet little residential area to the north of Kuta, has become a very trendy neighborhood. Here the restaurants, bars and nightclubs match the best that Tokyo, Hong Kong or Bangkok have to offer and would not be out of place in New York, London or Paris. They are trendy, chic and filled with beautiful people, all out having a good time. Down the small lanes you’ll find all types of shops – patisseries, designer clothing boutiques and health spas
Kecak Ramayana & Fire Dance at ULUWATU
They say that every visitor to Bali should see at least one dance and if you plan to see only, then this should be it. The combination of ancient ritual, dance, drama, sunset and cliff setting makes Kecak Ramayana & Fire Dance one of the most spectacular dance performance imaginable. Accompanied by a choir of chant and singing men to be memory that will stay with you long after you leave this, The Island of The God.
At our COOKING ACADEMY we learn to cook with Chef Kris the following Balinese Cuisine:
Tum be siap – Minced chicken wrap in banana leaf
Pepes ikan kakap – Grilled red snapper wrapped in banana leaf
Lawar kacang panjang – Tossed long bean vegetable with spicy grated coconut
Sambal matah – Spicy lemongrass shallot relish
Kue labu – Balinese sweet pumpkin treat
Before our cooking class we visited Jimbaran wet market to learn about the different kind of fish, vegetables, and spicies used by the locals. Some of the special ingredients are prawn paste. The market is located one street back from Jimbaran Beach, which is between Kuta and South Kuta. The market visit was a fun and educating experience lead by Chef Kris.
Early A.M. at sunrise Suzi and I walked on Jimbaran beach for one hour enjoying the morning life style of the locals. We watched as the night fishermens came in with their catch.
We left Four Seasons Jimbaran after breakfast via Ubud. 1.5 hour drive.
We made one stop at the famous John Hardy Workshop and Gallery. John Hardy welcomes appointments and I would highly recommend clients visiting set a time for the workshop and shopping. They will even offer lunch for free!
Ubud is fast becoming many travellers’ chosen destination in Bali and there are several reasons for its rising popularity. Take its natural beauty, visible in the lush greenery of rice paddies and ravines, ideal for a relaxing and reflective retreat. It has plenty of art and cultural attractions, such as the annual Bali Spirit Festival of yoga, dance, and music every March; and the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in October.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT BALI AT SAYAN, 3 nights stay
For a unique combination of rustic beauty and world-class elegance stay at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, a magnificent 5 star resort that offers tastefully furnished suites and villas, as well as pampering ayurvedic spa treatments. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan is nestled amidst lush green tropical forest, along the sacred Ayung River. The resort offers 18 suites and 42 private villas, with a mix of contemporary and traditional Balinese decor. Our Villa # 14 set by the river with views of the waterfall – AMAZING!
All guestrooms offer Plasma and LCD TV, refrigerator, private bar and in-room safe among other facilities. Stay connected through the wired or wireless Internet available in all the suites and villas. The resort has three restaurants and several dining options. Enjoy views of the river while you relish Asian and Indonesian cuisines at Ayung Terrace or indulge in wood burning oven pizza at the Riverside Cafe. Blend in with nature and look on the spectacular Ayung Valley while sipping on your Martini at the Jati Bar. Do get in touch with the resort staff if you wish to surprise your significant other with a romantic dinner in the privacy of your suite or villa, or experience a multi course Rijsttafel feast outdoors. We were all “WOW” with all three nights of surprise dinner locations.
Rejuvenate your body and mind with healing and uplifting treatments in the world-class spa. Invigorate your senses at the large two-level swimming pool designed to follow the river’s natural contours or energize yourself with a workout at the fitness center. Join cooking classes, test your green thumb with the village farmer or spend a day at the village, there is a lot Four Seasons Resort has to offer amidst the picturesque landscape. The resort is 35 kilometers away from Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar Bali.
SAYAN SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES – are designed to enable you to embrace the spirit of Bali by offering an insight into Balinese life and culture, bringing out your creative side and indulging in some quality time. Just a few of the hotel activities:
A DAY IN A BALINESE FARMER’S LIFE, RICE PLANTING
FOUR SEASONS PRIVATE RAFTING DISCOVERY
YOGA, MEDITATION & LIFE TALK
JUNGLE TREKKING AND VILLAGE WALK
BIKING ADVENTURE TO KINTAMANI OR BONGKASA VILLAGE
BALINESE DANCE PREFORMANCE