Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DNA visits Bangkok 2012

The highlight of the year for our office, a visit to Bangkok and then continue to the DATUM Design Conference in KL. Although I have been to Bangkok before, this is the first trip overseas as an office and a good opportunity to travel, eat and 'live' together for a 6 days. We took over one floor of a budget hotel in the Pratunam District

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Part 4 - Personal Best

This took place in March last year. 

This is our fourth trip to Bali and the second with Sean and Sara, so I did not expect to be surprised or to discover new things in Ubud. However, this was our first Bali trip with Robyn Fleming; good friend, family member and fellow runner, and we were there to run in the Bali Half Marathon.
As expected, Ubud did not spring any surprises. In fact, Ubud seemed tired and weary or perhaps it was my eyes that weary from seeing tourists dressed like hippies trying to fit into the ‘zen’ scene of Bali, or the rows of shops selling colourful trinkets.  

Luckily, we met some wonderful people and they became the highlight of the trip – Gede, our guide who brought us to a different ‘babi-guling’ stall every morning at nine; Cat Wheeler or ‘Ibu Cat’, author and rescuer of cats, dogs and feather-less cockatoos; Robyn and I sat in companionable quiet each morning while we waited to be served our breakfast, she wrote while I sketched; Grace who send us on the pleasant assignment of searching out a honeymoon getaway; the lady who operated the training hotel that we stayed at, training children from the poverty islands nearby in the hospitality trade; the street urchins who approached Sam for money at the night market and ended up with dinner instead. 

The personal highlight was the personal best time for a half marathon but it paled in comparison to the friends made and friendships reinforced. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Part 3 - Sumptuous Shi Yang

This took place in March last year. 
It is proof that Chinese people will travel long distances to eat well. We drove out of Taipei to eat lunch at Shi Yang Culture restaurant. A long drive followed by a long walk along a mountain path brought us to the entry gateway of this famous restaurant. Seating is by appointment only and the menu is not published – the chef decides what you eat, which he decides based on the catch of the day and what is available in his organic garden.
Seating is by appointment only and the menu is not published – the chef decides what you eat and he decides based on the catch of the day and what is available in his organic garden. The low slung double storey building of steel and timber is set into the hillside, indeed there were cave-like dining niches accompanied by airy tatami rooms. 

There are Japanese influences in the architecture as well as the cuisine. For two hours, cuisine, culture and architecture converged lazily over an 11-course lunch. We were captivated by the dishes set in front of us, each a work of art in taste and appearance. And in between courses, our attention was captured by the views of the mountains in front of us.
So for a long time, the only sounds were made by the gentle scrapping of chopsticks against the bottom of porcelain bowls and a few discreet burps.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Part 2 - Bathing in Beitou, Taipei

When I was in Beitou Taipei last February, I spent some happy hours discovering the small park (QinShui Park) in between two streets (Guangming and Zhongshan)  in the spa district - a calm oasis to get away from my traveling companions for a while.
There were two buildings in this park – the new Taipei Public Library and the older former Public Bath House.  The older building can be reached by crossing a bridge across a stream, the two storey house is built in a Euro-Japanese style with red brick arches on the ground floor supporting a upper storey in timber siding.

The flowing stream nearby masks the sounds of traffic while the evening sun and maple trees conspired to paint a picturesque scene – for me only it seemed. Until I noticed a young couple on the first floor balcony. They have stolen away for a moment to enjoy the scene together, unaware that they too were part of this touching vignette.