Shades for winter

Yours to enjoy

I spent the first week of 2011 in Vietnam. Actually I spent the second one there as well. But about the first one I want to talk now and a nice little hotel by the sea in Mui Ne.

It’s called Shades and it’s run by a friendly family of kiwis. I didn’t stay there but I spent a great deal of time chilling by their pool and having countless happy hour drinks at their bar.

Great rooms, clean and modern

Their story is an interesting one. While on holiday in Mui Ne, Sharon and Vaughan happened to meet the owner of Shades who was looking for someone to take over the management of the little hotel. As the conditions were great they didn’t hesitate and took the offer on the spot and now, almost two years later, they transformed the place in one of the most successful business in the resort. Their philosophy is simple: keep the place clean and talk to the tourists. And it works. When not busy sorting the administrative stuff in the office you can find them at the bar, preparing drinks, chatting to the clients and sharing travel stories. And as they are very well travelled they are the best company you could ever wish for.

The swimming pool for the times when the sea gets too rough

The sea is soothing

And the bar is always open

Have a look at their website. They say it’s people that make a place but in this case it’s a great combination of wonderful setting, excellent hotel facilities and the coolest hosts. You’ll like it. I did.


Everything you could wish for

PS Count on Sharon and Vaughan for restaurant tips, excursions and stories about life in Vietnam. And if you are looking to take over a place in Mui Ne (hotel, motel, bar, restaurant) they can give you invaluable advice and keep you up to date on the latest gossip from the village. Ah, and Vietnamese coffee number 5 – best ever, served with condensed milk and lots of ice.

Shades Resort Apartments
98A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, HamTien, Mui ne,
Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan, VietNam
84 (0) 623 743 237
84 (0) 623 743 236
[email protected]


Soon: Shades, Mui Ne

The place where I spent the beginning of 2011. Actual place is to the right of the image if you know what I mean. Bliss by the sea, fantastic coffee and great happy hour deals. Review soon.

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A little place in Bangkok

Praya Palazzo from the river

You can find pockets of silence even in the chaos of Bangkok. I swear. My personal pocket of silence is Praya Palazzo. A boutique hotel where personal service and a familiar sense of home prevails. It’s isolated from the craziness by the river – in fact you can only get to it by boat, and its small size means just one thing – no package tourists.

Towards the river

It’s got luxurious yet simple rooms, a great swimming pool complete with a cozy pool bar, an excellent restaurant and, above all, the friendliest owners ever – well travelled and well versed in dealing with tourists. CNN Go filmed there and so did I last year when filming for “Muson” in Bangkok.

Why should you stay there? Because it offers that quintessential non-Bangkok experience in the middle of, well, Bangkok. Avoid it if – it’s your first time in Bangkok and want to go crazy on Khao San. Praya Palazzo is the place to savor Bangkok not to gulp it.

Time to relax

and get some sleep

The hotel as a building and as a concept has a story that is better found out when you visit the place. It’s bitter, sweet and spicy like the dishes on the menu of its restaurant where it is written on huge posters framed and hanged on the walls.

The hall towards the main restaurant


Praya Palazzo

757/1  Somdej Prapinklao Soi 2  Bangyeekan,  Bangkok  10700,  Thailand
Telephone: +662-883-2998  or  +6681-402-8118
Fax: +662-883-1855
Email: [email protected]



Tu-Lu’s – I would eat anything that’s on the menu

Cupcakes sittin' in a tree

Now, it might seem ridiculous that a full grown up adult like me is so ecstatic about a little shop in Manhattan that looks like a doll’s house. And it is. But, believe me, they have the best gluten free cookies this side of the sun. They’re the best in the world – not that I tested and tasted every gluten free bakery out there but just because it can’t get any better.

I’m not gonna get into details about gluten intolerance and medical stuff but there are people on this planet that cannot really enjoy to the maximum pizza, pasta, pretzels or muffins… It’s just not good for their health. So after months or years of going without a cookie that doesn’t taste like cardboard (some gf bakeries just make bad ones and don’t start me on baking some at home) you arrive at Tu Lu’s and discover heaven.

And there's more inside

I’m trying to find proper words to advertise and promote this place to everyone out there (gluten intolerant or not) but no one will properly get it until they taste some goodies from there. I don’t have favorites when it comes to Tu-Lu. I would eat anything on the menu in huge quantities. And then take some boxes home.

Thanks Tu-Lu for the best two weeks I spent in New York. Keep delivering the goods. Will be back for more.


Just for me. Not to share

Have a look at their website to discover the delicious gluten free products baked on the premises daily. Tu-Lu is 100% gluten free so you don’t have to worry. And they make a mean coffee too, to go with the cupcakes.

PS I lived on the East 12th street in NY, just a short (daily) stroll to Tu-Lu’s

Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery

338 East 11th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenue)

New York, NY 10003



Mmmm… cupcakes

Watch this space tomorrow for a review of my favorite gluten free bakery in NYC! Good, good…

My favourites: peanut butter cupcakes

Written by in: Info to go | Tags: , ,

The joy of landing and the pepper crab – House of seafood, Singapore

The hero of the story

For me the best part of a flight is when the plane’s wheels hit the tarmac at the airport. Any airport, any kind of voyage. And when the airport happens to be the gateway to a long awaited holiday then… oh, joy.

Little do they know, the passengers of any airline bound for Singapore from Europe that when they arrive at Terminal 1 at Changi they are a mere few feet away from the best the little island has to offer in terms of culinary delight. Little did I know about this until my last visit to the island-state when a good friend took me out to a dinner that promised “the best pepper crab in SIngapore”. Further more, I was assured, that the culinary treat we were about to indulge was award winning and that we were about to dine at a very famous “House of Seafood” branch, nearby the Changi Prison.

The seafood noodles - a meal in itself

It took us a while to locate the restaurant. It’s quite new and sometimes inexperienced taxi drivers have a bit of a hard time finding it. It’s quite close to the Changi Prison but not just around the corner, anyway, when in the area, it is clearly signed and advertised.

Now, first, you fall in love with the location. It has indoor and outdoor seating but I suggest you chose the later – not only for the great weather, the beautiful setting with a fish pond and little island like paths that lead you to the tables but for the proximity to, you guessed it, the landing area of Terminal 1 at Changi. Imagine: the joy of the people that land combined with your own personal joy when ordering the mouth watering goodies that smile at you from the photo menu presented by the curteous staff.

Pork ribs and asparagus

It’s a night for Mr Crab but first, our hosts insist on some hors d’oeuvre… and I’ll just mention them for you, my mouth filled with water at the not so distant memory: juicy plump pork ribs, honey glazed and so flavorful and meaty that they could really be a meal in itself; wok-fried prawn with fragrant butter, thai style fish and chinese noodles plus a side of asparagus, diced and stir fried with butter and brandy and an eye catching dish of bean curd with mushrooms – all cooked to perfection, all served with style and grace… all but an introduction to the feast that was about to begin! They call it (and it was voted) the best pepper crab in Singapore. And the “House of Seafood” really delivers the goods and stands up to its reputation. It is the best pepper crab on the island. Come to think about it, it’s the best one I ever had so I have the right to call it the best in the world. But this is memory talking. When at the table with the crab in front of you it’s all breaking and cracking and slurping and licking and not waisting anything of the white tender meat and not a drop of the best pepper sauce that ever existed. The whole table is a mess, your clothes and face included but who cares? Not even in Singapore would anyone dare question you table manners when you indulge in the “House of Seafood” pepper crab.

Artistic view of the chilli crab :)

A good size crab can feed a party of six but for good measure and balance, order up a chilli crab as well. I highly recommend it and it’s gonna be another culinary discovery that will make you sorry you’ve eaten anything the whole day. After the meal you don’t care anymore about the nice setting and the beautiful story of the landing planes just a few feet away… you just smile satisfied and already plan your next visit to the “House of Seafood”…

Mmmm... Tofu.

Aside from the Crosford Road branch (Near Changi Prison), House of Seafood has another three outlets at 36 and 180 Yio Chu Kang Road and in Bedok North. Restaurant is popular with large celebrating families, discerning foodies and ever on the look for something new expats. No matter what branch you choose, the food, quality of service and the great ambiance will be the same.

The feast!


Kia Ora! Rotorua’s finest: Prince’s Gate Hotel

The Prince’s Gate boasts beautiful Victorian looks with a splendid veranda surround and a patterned woodworked façade.

We stumbled upon Prince’s Gate Hotel late one night, coming from Waihi, after a full day of filming and taking the wrong turns on the road to Rotorua. It was grand, imposing and most importantly, open, though we didn’t think we could afford it. To our surprise the rate was more than reasonable and thus started our affair with the most amazing hotel in New Zealand.

It is a bit overwhelming when you enter the large lobby, it’s like some rich people’s living room from a by gone era. It even has a staircase that leads from the “living room” up to the next level where the actual rooms are located, everyone of them opening to a cool veranda where you could have your morning coffee or that very important chat just before going to bed. We stayed there nights, me and my team, and we would have stayed longer, schedule permitting.

Didn’t have anything but breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant but they advertise delicious treats for lunch and dinner, cabaret nights and high tea. Do check it out when you are in the area. (more…)


Tomorrow on Info to go: Princes Gate Hotel, Rotorua, NZ

Historic property with a pool. Have you been there?

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Marigold Hotel, Hanoi – be good to yourself!

I say: be good to yourself and stay here after a busy day managing the narrow and crowded streets of Hanoi Old Quarter. At Marigold, a marriage of French colonial and traditional Vietnamese, you will be greeted by Victor, the owner, who’ll make sure your stay there is an unforgettable one. Victor is a walking encyclopedia of all things Asian so take advantage while you’re there. The hotel is close enough to the Old Quarter but in a more up-market neighborhood (Ba Dinh District).

Hanoi awaits

Among the services offered: 24H room service, travel and tour information and visa extension services. The rooms feature along with air-con, coffee and tea making facilities, hair dryer and safety boxes, complementary beverages in mini fridge – which are replenished daily. (more…)

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