Four Island Tour on Longtail Boat – Koh Lanta

December 29, 2007

Since we have spent most of out time at Koh Lanta in the bliss of massage, good food and sun-baking, we decided to venture a little further from our paradise resort.

 Before we left, we had read about Lanta Longtail tours and we decided that this would be a far more authentic way to see the islands than on a noisy speed boat.

Susanna picked us up at 8am and took us to Lanta Old Town – which is pratically untouched by modernity. It’s here that you get a taste for how the islanders live and make a living from fishing or the rubber plantations.

Susanna, a woman originally from the US, told us the story how she originally came to Lanta to teach art six years ago. Now only did she fall in love with the island, but also fell in love with a local fisherman called San (even though who knew how they communicated since neither spoke eachother’s language).

They got married two years ago and now run a very successful Long tail boat tour.

Susanna dropped us off at the pier (she had to go into Krabi) and we clambered on board the large  wooden Longtail boat. We met San – who’s slightly broken english was enough to get us understood and the driver.

We munched on fresh watermelon and water as we headed out into the East side of the island towards Ko Muk.

It took about 1 and a half hours to get here and once we docked, the driver got into the water with us and lead us into the Emerald Cave. It was pitch black inside save for the single beam of light from the driver’s headlamp.

Soon we saw sunlight and we were lead onto a pristine beach surrounded by high cliff. We savoured the serenity until the mass of tourists arrived. We decided to head back to our personal boat (btw your own personal boat is the way to go – much better than sharing it with hoards of others).

We then did some snorkelling at Koh Ngai. After we stopped on the beach for a chicken curry and rice lunch and just sunbaked on the sand and lazed in the tourquoise waters.

After eating, we boated to Koh Ma where we did some more snorkelling – the highlight was that I found Nemo (actually there were two of them).

San then took us around the pinnacle of the island back to the West coast. It was a bit of a long treck – it took us about 2 and a half hours. But the scenery was magnificent plus we got to feed cheeky monkeys watermelon in the mangrove forests/

San dropped us off on the beach directly near our hotel. Now this is the way to travel!


Koh Lanta Paradise

December 27, 2007

We’ve finally mustered up some energy to write an email – it’s been tough, you know – massages once a day (today we had two!), the most delicious watermelon ice-juices I’ve ever had, lounging by the infinity pool, reading and watching the beautiful sunsets.

It’s a different world here and Nath and I are just loving this way of life (we’ve been trying to think of ways that we can stay or at least bring our massage lady back with us to Sydney).

Our resort – Twin Lotus – is just magnificent. We have a garden view suite with a bed that is like a mega- king and a bathroom with a lovely rain shower as well as an outdoor tub. It’s a car-less resort so we get taken everywhere by golf carts (even though our suite is about 100 steps from the pool – very indulgent🙂

Food has been so delicious – we’ve had room service twice (the chicken cashew nut is amazing) and watched some dvd’s (which you can hire here). Today we’re going to wander down the beach to see what there is beyond the walls of Twin Lotus.

Despite the temptation to veg the week away, we’ve actually been quite active – yesterday we did a full day diving (we found NEMO!!!! and saw a turtle). Today we took out a kayak and even took a bicycle ride into town (for those ppl who know me, this was no small feat). We went shopping in the town – amazingly the food selection in this small island is just as good as Sydney and Nath bought this Heinz chilly sauce which apparently yuou can’t get back home.

Tomorrow we’re off on an island tour on a Longtail boat and then ending off our time in Koh Lanta with a Thai cooking course on the beach.

BTW – for those who asked about Bed in Bangkok – it was an incredible experience – the restaurant is lined with these large white beds and you actually lounge on them while you are eating. It is uber trendy and the three course meal was possibly the best we have tasten for ages – my Wagyu steak was so tender and tasty. Prices were pretty much Sydney prices so it was pretty much meant for tourists.

Well, it’s time for us to get some dinner. Byeeee


Sawadee from Bangkok (hello)

December 23, 2007

Just a quick one from Bangkok – we have had an action packed two days!

Our hotel (Majestic Grande) is magnificent  and very central and we are loving the luxury (and the aircon). It’s hectically humid here – growing up in Durban has helped Lisa to adjust to the weather but Nath is taking a slight strain🙂

Yesterday, we hit the markets and the shopping malls – the weekend markets were packed and filled with everything from bags to live doggies. The malls were more upmarket than we’ve ever seen – needless to say, with shops like Cartier and Gucci, we could only window shop.

We had lunch in this amazing food hall – we munched on sushi and noodles – so very tasty – must be the fresh ingredients and the “real” wasabi. We then walked around a gourmet food hall and sampled our way through the delish dried fruit.

The highlight for the day for Lisa was finding a supply of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream (half-baked)…yum yum – we have now eaten two half-pint tubs in bed (how decadent can you get!!).

Last night we didn’t feel like eating in the markets so we landed up at Haagen Dasz as a scientific experiment to compare the ice-cream to B&J’s (well, that’s the story we told ourselves🙂 We munched on a waffle and a brownie with different flavours of ice-cream. And the winner……Ben and Jerry’s (of course).

Oh and another thing – we found a Sizzler in one of the shopping centres. (We resisted going in)

Today we had an awesome day – we had our own private tour guide and driver who took us to the floating markets (so colourful and interesting) and we got to see a railway market (the stalls all set up on the track and have to quickly pack up when a train comes through). The guide also took us through a local food market where we got to sample some local delicacies such as coconut milk balls and mango with sticky rice.

We had lunch at authentic road side Thai cafe – Nath had garlic chicken and rice, I had Pad See Yeiw (noodles and chicken) and our guide had some soupy thing with fish. The three dishes plus three cooldrinks came to the princely sum of 180 Baht – which is about $7. Amazing value for money.

We then toured the opulent temples ( we loved the one of the gynormous gold reclining buddha – also called Wat Po), took a canal ride on a longtail boat and then ended it off with an authentic thai foot massage…so relaxing.

Tonight we’re off to the Bed Restaurant and then we’re leaving for Koh Lanta tomorrow morning. Bye.. and Kub Kum Kam (thankyou).


My Sparkly Engagement Ring

December 21, 2007

About a year and a half ago, I was in the Cape Town winelands with some friends. In one of the wineries, the lady behind the counter, had the most gorgeous sparkly diamond ring. I fell in love with it instantly.

A couple of months later, I emailed her and asked her to send me photos of the ring, which she did. So I always had the design in mind when, one day, Mr Right would come along.

So when Nathan proposed, I showed him the design I had in mind. And so began the journey to get the ring….which amazingly only lasted a week and a half. I now have the gorgeous sparkly bling sitting on my finger only a few days after we got engaged.

We started off at the Diamond wholesaler who got us a great deal on the most magnificent diamond. In about one hour we learnt so much about diamonds – cut, clarity, colour and carat so when we actually bought it, we pretty much knew what we wanted.

Jeff Einstein, Lisa & the Ring
We then went to the jeweler and I can only say amazing things about Jeff Einstein in Double Bay. They were consummate professionals and perfectionists.

I showed them the photo of my dream ring and they had actually made one up very similar a few weeks ago. As I slipped on the sample ring, I knew we had come to the right place.
Ring1
They hand-made the ring in one week and we went to collect it yesterday.

When we arrived, Jeff came into the room armed with a camera. He said as tradition, he would like to either take a photo of me opening the box or he’ll leave us for a few minutes and then come back to take some snaps.
Lisa and Nath with ring
We opted for the latter and alone in the small room, Nath got down on his knee for the 2nd time and I got another beautiful proposal – this time with the ring. He opened the box, slipped the diamonds on my finger and we were in awe of the beauty.

Ring3
Ring2
Jeff returned and took photos of our beaming faces and the even gleamier ring. I couldn’t have been happier. My dream ring with my dream fiance.


Our Engagement Celebration

December 21, 2007

So we’re engaged! Woo Hoo… So what does a girl do when her wonderful boyfriend pops the question? She starts planning of course. The night of our engagement, my mind was whirring with ideas. By the time the sun rose, I had it all planned out🙂 I think Nathan was quiet bemused by my nocturnal organising.

We wanted a celebration with our family and friends but we were leaving for Thailand two weeks later so that left one weekend and 6 days to plan a party.

The yummy foodAnd so…our engagement party started to take shape. We decided on a champagne high tea and after a tour of the Eastern Suburbs parks, we picked the magnificent McKells Park in Darling Point. It’s a very popular spot for wedding ceremonies and photos and has a lovely view of the harbour. We designed the invites, sent them out, made a menu, ordered the cakes, made the quiches, cooked the fudge and bought the drinks and champagne.

I had been in denial about the weather the entire week. Even when the weather report doomed us to rain, I thought ‘sun sun sun’. The word ‘Rain’ was banned from my vocab. On Sunday, we woke up and I could no longer deny the heavy skies. Nath zipped off to put plan B into place. This consisted of three gazebos which would hopefully keep the food and guests dry.

Our engagement cakeNath, being a proud DIY-savvy Aussie, got to work with the gazebos and I set up the food. We were both in new clothes – me in a brand new white dress and Nathan in smart-casual beige parts and white polo shirt. Literally minutes before everyone arrived, we had it all set up. It was all pretty in pink and colourful.
Cutting the cake
Tamara made us the most fun cake – lavished with smarties and jelly beans and topped with our photo – and to top it all, is was scrumptious.

The food was gobbled down – the sushi and the quiches were especially popular – along with the choccy fudge and the cakes (nut laden tiramsu ; lemon meringue and Bon Vivante).
My family

The whole family
Nath said a lovely heartfelt speech and we had a toast and a champagne cheers.

It was so special to share our happiness with both Nath and my families as well as our close and wonderful friends.
Our mates
Siblings
It was a day full of warmth and love, despite the rain pelting down. (thank goodness most people had left by then and it was only a few of us who got drenched.

What a memorable day.

More Pics

Umbrella wuth Ben, Mel & Mich
Orit, Nom, Lisa, Nath

Lisa and Daph
Sandi and Lisa


We’re engaged!

December 21, 2007

(Click on the pics for larger versions)

I know it’s been ages but this post is worth waiting for.

Let me come out and say it: “Nathan and I are engaged!!”.

It’s been such an exciting 2 weeks and we’re both elated and on this natural high – I don’t think we’ve stopped smiling🙂

This is how it all happened:

About 6 months ago, we booked for the Lionel Richie concert in the Hunter Valley. Finally, on 7 December, it was time to head for our weekend away. It was somewhat of a harrowing drive – potholes, mist and darkness but we found our way to Olive Grove Cottages. Of course, I cracked open the port as soon as we arrived – nothing but a bit of mulled wine to calm the nerves.

Our cottage was an upmarket self-catering place fully equipped and stocked with pristine kitchen appliances and lots of food.

Nath with humpty

Lisa in gardens
The next morning, we had a leisurely brekkie and then took a drive to the Hunter Valley Gardens. We walked through the different themed gardens – Japanese, Italian, even nursery rhymes – and strayed into the orchards where we picked tiny apples and rock hard pears (and got completely muddy as a result).

Nath and Lisa in gardensWe then stopped off at the local deli to get some goodies for our picnic.

Our next stop was Bimbadgen estate where the concert was going to be held. We arrived at about 3:30pm and waited in line until the gates
opened at 4pm. We rushed onto the huge lawn and settled our blanket down as close as we could get to the stage.

Before the proposal
Looking around, we then noticed that a whole bunch of people that we know from Sydney had settled down next to us – this was going to be a good party!

We just started to relax, when Nath produced a pressie from his backpack of tricks. I opened it to find a gorgeous photo album. The album was a creative showcase of photos of all our adventures over the past 7 months. It was so beautifully done and I was in awe of how much fun we had had together.
The Proposal card
All the while I was looking at it, I was thinking – “Wow, what a special 7-month anniversary present”.

When I got to the end of the album, there was an envelope. I opened it and there was a card. In the card, were the life-changing words: “Will you Marry Me?”

I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised in my life. I totally didn’t expect this…which is amazing since I am such a mega-planner.

I had a quick hyper-ventilation session as I grabbed Nath and we walked a few metres away from our curious friends next to us. Nath topped off the romance by getting down on his knee and proposing.

What a surreal feeling but so magic and better than I could ever have dreamed. Of course, I said Yes!!!
Champagne

The engagement kiss
We then returned to our picnic party to a flurry to congratulations, hugs and kisses. Apparently they had taken a quick peak at the card when we left so they knew all about our good news.

Nath then produced a bottle of (sweet-yum) champagne and we toasted our excitement. I was still trembling with surprise and it took a good few hours to absorb everything.

Vicki had a chat to the cameraman and we suddenly were making our debut appearance on the giant screens with the text “Congratulations Lisa and Nathan” typed under our grinning faces.

Engagement on the big screenWe went off for a couple of hours to make some phonecalls and share the excitement with our friends and family.

Lionel Richie was awesome but I guess even Marcia Hines seemed top class – in the ecstatic moods we were in.
Lionel Richie shirts
The next morning we headed home early chattering about all our plans for our future.

What a magical weekend and the start of Chapter Two…..


Edible Review: Glebe Point Diner

October 23, 2007

It was my one year anniversary in Sydney on 19 October (one year, can you believe it!!!). So to celebrate this happy occassion, Nath took me to Glebe Point diner, in wait for it….Glebe.

Glebe Point DinerWe drove past the bustling restaurant strip and a good couple of km down the road, we found the elegant, open-plan Glebe Point Diner. Good thing we made a booking a few weeks ago as the place was packed – there were even people dining at the bar.

We were seated straight away at marble tables covered with white paper. This was the style of the diner – elegant yet casual, upmarket and trendy yet friendly and unpretentious. A truely great date destination.

The menu was brief – six starters and four mains. It’s not a great place if you’re veggie (and don’t eat fish) as the mains consisted of a chicken dish, two fish options and a beef salad. I guess you could have a selection of vegetarian entrees but how much fun is that???

Salad at GlebePDNath and I shared a fennel and artichoke salad with cheddar, broadbeans and the star of the dish – pomegranate seeds. We also ordered fresh sour dough bread (for $2 a board). Delicious combination.

Lisa_gpdFor mains, I opted for the seared tuna, which was perfectly prepared – pink in the middle. It was served with a pepperonata which was a mixture of grilled peppers – scrumptious and potato scallops which were deep fried to a crisp and just not worth the laden calories.

Nathan_gpdNath munched on the Angus steak strips with watercress, parmesan and lemon dressing. This was outstanding – the meat was tender and the dressing piquant.

Price wise, the dishes were well priced for a good restaurant. Mains were between $14 and $18 and mains were about $30 – generous portions and good value.

The service was efficient and friendly and the food was fast – despite the packed room.

Nath_lisa_gpdWe decided to leave dessert as we were heading for a new chocolate cafe in the area. But we’ll give them a try next time.

I really loved our meal and would recommend this for a special occassion or even just an everyweek treat.