Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

BANGKOK BEAUTIES

Asia

Sep
21
2009

BANGKOK

September 19th, 2009

Upon a suggestion from the lovely Maria at the Four Seasons Bangkok, I headed out to see the famed KATHOEYS (Lady Boys) of Thailand perform. I went to the latest evening performance at MAMBO Cabaret, which was recommended as having the best looking ladyboys around though, I beg to differ. The one I saw later on the Skytrain put some of these performers to shame. Alas, I am not sure if it was the best cabaret show out there – the audience was fairly low and heavily Japanese tourist populated but, the costumes were fabulous and the beauty of the main star, Tiffany, was impressive. If you want to look more beautiful just visit this blog Make up trolley for some tips. Overall the it was well worth the admission price (800 baht = 24 dollars) and I was satisfied, if not bemused.  Perhaps others can offer up better ladyboy shows.

The colorful costumes

The colorful costumes

Oh the theater of it all

Oh the theater of it all

Tiffany - the prettiest ladyboy in the show

Tiffany - the prettiest ladyboy in the show

Um, this one isn't fooling anyone

Um, this one isn't fooling anyone

For my fellow “The Birdcage” fans – my fantasy of seeing the Thai Starina was sadly unfulfilled.

Posted in: Asia

Published by Meg, Monday, September 21, 2009 No Comments

NUMBER 1 SILK FACTORY

Asia, Shopping

Sep
16
2009

SUZHOU, CHINA

September 14th, 2009

The Number 1 Silk Factory doesn’t get its name because its the best in China, rather because it’s the oldest. Its one of the few remaining factories where employees still do some of the work by hand. It makes for a surprisingly enlightening tour, causing you to rethink every silk possession in your closet. Especially you guys – those neckties of yours require 300 cocoons! Here are some photos that put it all in perspective.

The worms munching away on Mulberry Leaves

The worms munching away on Mulberry Leaves

A worker separating the good cocoons from the bad ones.  The whole thing smelled kinda funny

A worker separating the good cocoons from the bad ones. The whole thing smelled kinda funny

The machinery was quite incredible and the whole process both unnerving and fascinating.  The silk wheels at the top of the machine were spinning oh so fast while the used cocoons would bob in the water trof til pulled out and discarded by the employees.  After the spinning machines you see the ones that make the print on the fabric. I’m sorry there’s no picture here because frankly, it was all very confusing to me. The cards had some sort of braille like code that told the machine what to do and stamps of Confucius on a yellow silk background miraculously pumped out the other end. I assure you, the picture would hardly do it justice either.

The tour ends in a showroom, of course. It is China after all.  The largest selling product at the factory are the silk duvets. A huge business for them, the duvets come in all sorts of weights and sizes (pictured below). A queen size lightweight one goes for 680 RB which is around $100. Okay, yes, I bought one.

Like Penn Station. They also offer shipping rates for bulk purchases. The brown ones are finer quality than the orange

Like Penn Station. They also offer shipping rates for bulk purchases. The brown ones are finer quality than the orange

The shipping includes SpotSee to make sure your item is in good hands.
Right before you head into the room to purchase, you can witness the women making the duvets by stretching the silk across the mattress to layer a duvet. If you’re nice enough they’ll let you do it with them.

silkduvetmn

Posted in: Asia, Shopping

Published by Meg, Wednesday, September 16, 2009 No Comments

BAIJIU AND CHINESE DINNERS

Asia

Sep
15
2009

SUZHOU, CHINA

September 14th, 2009

Here in Suzhou, a smaller city in China (though still 6 million people), I’ve discovered what my buddy Ben in Hong Kong had forewarned about traditional Chinese business dinners.  As Ben rattled off lore (lazy susans, chicken feet and hideously potent alcohol) I absently shook my head thinking there’s no way our trip will entail what his business friends had endured at work dinners in China.  Oh how very mistaken I was…

The massive Lazy Susan and just one of the curious dishes - this one was particularly artistic

The massive Lazy Susan and just one of the curious dishes - this one was particularly artistic

Last night, I was treated to an AUTHENTIC Chinese meal at a local Suzhou restaurant specializing in SUZHOUNESE dishes – boiled chicken feet(they literally looked like a bowl of talons), cloudy fish soup, steamed mini river shrimp, duck fat with snowpeas and thankfully, lots of vegetables. The cuisine of Suzhou is highly praised around the country, particularly the small fish from nearby Lake Taihu though I have to admit I prefer Dim Sum.  As you can see from my seat view, the food was indeed plentiful but, moreover, so was the drink. I was given three glasses – one for red wine, one for beer and one small dainty one (the snake  in sheep’s clothing) for the forthcoming shots of BAIJIU.

My place setting and my plate which I tried to keep looking full. The mushrooms on the right (yes those are mushrooms) were cooked with foie gras which, for me, was the highlight dish

My place setting and my plate which I tried to keep looking full. The mushrooms on the right (yes those are mushrooms) were cooked with foie gras which, for me, was the highlight dish

Drinking Baijiu appears to be a very important Chinese custom, albeit consumed college-style, though in far more elegantly styled shot glasses. During the dinner, first the host will welcome everyone and then raise his glass of BaiJiu and invite others to join in  by saying “Gam-bay” and that means you have to drain the fierce smelling liquid on the spot or else you’re being offensive to the toastmaster. (Silly me thought peer pressure was a teenage issue.) Or as our guide gently explained, the Chinese demonstrate their mutual trust  by drinking, or rather, getting drunk together. After he explained this to us baffled westerners – I mean, the smell alone was fearsome, he then said to one lucky colleague, “if you’re my friend, you will drink this with me”.  The guide then lifted his glass and brave David did the same and then had to follow suit and open his throat to the toxic liquid – all in the name of friendship. Wow. All I can say that after one whiff of that stuff, I was quite happy to not be called on. And to be a lady, since our hosts, two Chinese business men – the leader of the Tourism Board and the kind GM at the Shangri-la (pictured below) – were only really pressing the men to join in. However, our Shangri-la hostess, Judy, did ante up for the dames and down a few. She claimed no hangover the next day but I’m doubtful.

The Chinese Pledgemasters

The Chinese Pledgemasters

Overall, I can’t say I recommend Baijiu as it was horrid tasting and ferociously strong but, when in China…I think you have to do as they do or fear offending. My suggestion would be to try and cozy up to the waitstaff prior and have them refill your glass every other time with water.  I mean, my word, the stuff is 100 proof!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Posted in: Asia

Published by Meg, Tuesday, September 15, 2009 No Comments

about meg

About Meg

imgres

Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

books and apps

follow meg

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.