Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

WIC Travel – Bangalore India

June 1, 2010

Lunch at the Oberoi Hotel

My husband had been raving on about his trips to Bangalore for the past 12 months and wanted me to experience first hand how fantastic the hotel he stayed at was.

So I was not sure what to expect; my vision (illusion) of India was dusty streets and very spicy food (which I am not a fan of). The end result was a mixture of both a wonderful and an enjoyable surprise with a little bit of frustration thrown in on the side.

Staying at The Oberoi Hotel exceeded expectations, I can positively say that there is not one flaw in the way they conduct every single function there. From the gardeners to the hotel manager; each and every person’s behaviour made for the most unforgettable experience I have ever been part of.

I have stayed at my fair share of hotels and apartments in the past ten years and by far this is an experience worth making the effort to see for yourself. Are all of the hotels like this? Well I can not answer that question now however I now intend on trying out one of many of the locations to see for myself.

What makes this hotel so special you might ask – the little things! From the fact that where ever I went they addressed me as “Mrs Barnes” before I could remember what they looked like; or remembering my order every time I sat down for a meal. Each person I came across asked us “How could we improve” and they really meant it. We asked for sautéed mushrooms at the buffet breakfast and was told that “I will ensure that we they will be on your table as soon as you enter each morning”. Now that is service.

Or the little pack that you receive when you sit down by the pool which includes sun cream, fruit, water, freezing cold wash cloth and some spray! I think I could have possibly been mistaken as thinking perhaps I died and went to heaven. With the grounds beautifully manicured and the staff being so pleasant to offer advice the experience was second to none.

Walking out of the gates of The Oberoi Hotel gave me the biggest shock of my life; I had forgotten that we were in a major city where crossing the road almost cost me my life! The streets were dusty and muddy due to construction that has been happening outside the door and the when I finally walked back inside the premises of The Oberoi Hotel I was dirty and coughing with the amount of dust that I consumed.

I do have to say though I finally conquered my fear of spicy food and order a curry – not once but twice in one day. I did explain that I was not a spicy eater and to my amazement it was fantastic; the chef came out to check that it wasnt too spicy (as the waiter must have mentioned it to him) – now that is service!

The shopping is also pretty good with both Indian and western products; the cost is quarter of the price of what you would find in Hong Kong.

Overall – would I go back? Yes, of course, I was so taken by the hotel I bought the book Dare to dream – A life of M.S Oberoi.


WIC Travel – Travel 4 Health Thailand

April 3, 2010

Travel 4 Health – Thailand  by Waltraud Bryan


The atmosphere was relaxing

There is lots of talk about medical check-ups in Bangkok, how quick and easy it is to have everything done under one roof and how reasonable the costs are. I was curious and went this year, and I wasn’t disappointed.

One of the hospitals that offers this service is the Bumrungrad  and I took their most comprehensive package for ladies aged 45+. I stayed in their Suites, right next door, in order to walk there in 2 minutes rather than staying in a better hotel and getting lost in the early rush hour traffic. Everything can be booked in their HK office.

It all happens on one floor, after registration one first goes to all the tests that need to be done on an empty stomach, then they provide a healthy snack, followed by the remaining tests. I registered at 8 AM and left at 1 PM with my results in hand. Not bad!

I then headed South to Hua Hin (a 2 ½ hour drive) where I had booked myself a retreat in the famous and wonderful Chiva Som  that keeps winning awards year after year, not alone for the extensive offer of treatments! The place is beautifully kept, they serve only the healthiest food that doesn’t contain fat, sugar or salt, and the same staff is there on a long-term basis, almost like a family. It was my third visit, and I was greeted by my name by the waitresses that remembered me. They even asked where my son and daughter were this time! Amazing!

Chiva Som offers packages that range from Fitness to Pampering, De-Stress, Detox, Weight Management and Holistic Health. Each one includes a daily massage plus many other treatments, relating to the topic. On top of that, there is a programme that starts at 7 AM (all included in the price) with Tai Chi, Yoga, Stretch, Water Aerobics, Pilates, Metabolic Breathing, to name but a few. After dinner there are usually talks by some health practitioners, but there is no other entertainment at all, apart from the Saturday night BBQ by the pool.

It’s a place to go when in need to re-charge one’s battery, for counselling, physio, recovery, life change therapies etc., and to meet like-minded people from all parts of the world. There is a ‘speaker’s table’ that can be joined by single travellers at dinner times, but one can also sit in quiet at separate tables, or mix it up, depending on the mood.

Children under 16 are not permitted. Last year I took my 20-year-old son and he thought it was amazing, having warned and prepared him for the lack of entertainment etc. We took a cooking class together, and he enjoyed himself getting fit in the gym with extra personal trainer sessions and extra food! Most people go to lose weight, but he wanted to gain! We enjoyed the best quality time EVER.

This time I started each morning at 6 AM, waiting for the magical sunrise on the beach, watching the monks in their orange gowns go by with their metal bowls, collecting food, flowers and other offerings in return of blessings for the donors and fishermen coming back after a night out at sea. I can see it all in front of me while I write, and hopefully this has inspired you to go and get healthy while having fun, too!


Traveling 4 Health

March 29, 2010

Ilene Little is an entrepreneur who embarked on a new career at age 64, inspired by the limited and often lack of information available online regarding options for better health care and lifestyle abroad.

Her background as a newspaper reporter with several years experience in the travel and leisure industry prompted her to form Traveling4Health, Inc. available online now as a blog and launching in April as a social media site serving people seeking opportunities to build a personal network of resources for their own lifestyle abroad.

Why People Seek Local Contacts

One of reasons that a lot of people are hesitant about making a move overseas is because they’re concerned about being isolated. The world can be a cruel place, especially to newbies.  Even corporate expats can feel isolated within the closed garden community of company affiliation.

Sure there are the nomads out there who want to be left alone with their little slice of life in the middle of nowhere – or to remain a stranger in a metropolis -but most people crave some human interaction from time to time, especially from like-minded souls. 
Corporate expats as well as retirees enjoy the company of interesting, like-minded, and well-rounded individuals.

Connecting “seekers”  with “providers” of local knowledge, Ilene has provided a platform on Traveling4Health where consumers can ask questions and providers can build up their reputation with members, as trusted resources for specific locations. 

What Better Place to Network in Hong Kong

She is inviting our membership to register to blog on Traveling4Health, as a way to identify yourselves as accessible and responsive to consumers looking to know, before they go, local contacts in Hong Kong.  In this way you become a “go-to-person” for Hong Kong. 

It’s just one of the ways that you can advertise your business and reach out personally to those people seeking information about living and working in Hong Kong.  If you’re interested, there are directions on how to self-register on this blog

WIC Travel – Melbourne part 2

March 12, 2010

You may have read our last blog from Kylie De Clase from Terronova she highlighted some great night life experience from bars to restaurants this time she has focused on day time activities for our series:

Best of Melbourne

Kids Activities

Melbourne Zoo’s – Melbourne has three Zoo’s.

  1. Werribee range Zoo – which is safari style theme park.

    Red Kangaroos @ The Melbourne Zoo

  2. Hillsville Sanctuary – Dedicated to Australian Wild life
  3. Melbourne Zoo – The cities Main zoo located in Parkville.
  4. Melbourne  Aquarium –  The award winning Aquarium is located in the CDB.

Although they are very different I would recommend Melbourne Zoo; although it is the world’s third oldest Zoo the exhibits are large, animal and viewer friendly. During the warmer months the Zoo is open at twilight with each night showcasing a number of bands and singers.


Melbourne is Australia’s fashion capital, with the city home to many of the Countries top designers.  The cities shopping caters for all needs, sizes and budgets.

Young Australian Talent – Melbourne has produced some world class young designers over the past few years.  If your after a unique piece you should down to Little Collin’s street in the CDB and Chapel Street, Prahran.

Kylie shopping in the heart of Melbourne

Budget Shopping – DFO (Direct Factory Outlets) are greatly popular around Melbourne, the shopping malls have over 100 stores of just factory outlets.  I can recommend the Essendon DFO as the better of the outlets.  The Essendon Mall is convenitly located only 5 minutes from Melbourne Airport and it is often filled with luggage towing shoppers hunting for last minute bargains.  Along with brands like Guess, Ralph Lauren, Orton, Saba and Olga Berg I would recommend  checking out Ginger tree for one off’s and samples for a quarter of the price.

Vintage –  Brunswick Street, Fitzroy is the home of Melbourne’s ‘alternative’ lifestyle scene and is the home of one of the cities best genuine Vintage stores; Shag (377 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC, 3065) stocks imported clothing and accessories from the U.S, Canada and Europe

WIC Travel – Melbourne

March 4, 2010

Kylie De Clase of Melbourne's Terronova boutique

The Best of Melbourne

Who better to talk about  Melbourne than a lady who lives there. Meet  Kylie De Clase from Melbourne’s  Terronova online boutique and fashion blog. Here are Kylie’s picks for “The Best of Melbourne”

Restaurants & Cafés

Melbourne has a number of world-renowned Restaurants with Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, Kurtis Stone and even Robert De Niro all opening eateries in the city.  Melbourne is very multi-cultural and you have no problem finding any cuisine you can image.

Vietnamese –  Head to Victoria Street, Richmond for a choice of over 200 Vietnamese Restaurants. You can easily feed a family of five for less than $50.

Indian – My Father is Indian so I’m very picky when it comes to Indian food but the best Indian I have ever had is at Angan (559 Barkly Street, West Footscray). This Restaurant alone is a reason to visit Melbourne; make sure you book early.

French – For the best French cuisine you need to head towards North Melbourne which is well known for two very good French eateries.  Libertine (500 Victoria St, North Melbourne) is perfection in French cooking.  Better suited for dinner; The French quarter patisserie (1/570 Queensberry St, North Melbourne) has the best coffee and selection of cakes.

Thai –  The River Kwai restaurant  (3/1310 Centre Rd, Clayton South) is slightly out of the CDB but has the best reputation for Thai and Burmese food in Victoria.

Night Life & Live Music

Melbourne comes alive at night – with the second largest live music scene in the world (second to New York).  Melbourne is best explored at night.  However the best night spots are hidden away.  Being the Australian fashion capital the dress code is very sophisticated and you need to dress to impress the bouncers who are very selective.

Nights out begin late start hitting the clubs only around 11 to midnight and prepare for a big night.  If you have the stamina make sure you’re seen at Lygon Street at around 5am – for a coffee and catch up.

Baroq House (9-13 Drewery Lane, CDB) is where the ‘secret’ high society can be found on a Friday night; inspired by the 17th Century western art movement it is both sophisticated and romantic; ‘private’ rooms are behind false walls and secret entries.

Secret, sophisticated Baroq House, Melbourne

Hidden down one of Melbourne’s laneways it can be hard to locate unless you’re a local; once there it is worth the search.  The crowd matches the sophisticated surroundings  – with high entry standards and a cover charge only a selected few are welcomed in.  With professional Russian cocktail makers and a wide selection of French Champagne it’s a great night out – you never know who you’re going to meet.

Most of Melbourne’s best kept secrets are hidden in small laneways and Spice Market (Beaney Lane off Russell Street, CDB – behind LV) is one of them.  Currently the hottest club in Melbourne.  Lavishly designed with a mixture of the middle and far east.  Spice market is a bar, lounge, restaurant and club all in one – with many little private areas it is beautifully done.

Melbourne's Spice Market

Spice Market, Melbourne

Unlike Baroq House there is no cover charge – which reflects in the clientele which isn’t as exclusive as Baroq.  However the selection process is still very selective – I would recommend getting there early around 10pm and to wear your best dress – the bouncers are very picky.

If clubs and bars are not your scene Melbourne has some amazing live bands playing every night of the week.  Pick up a copy of ‘Beat’ magazine.  It’s a free Music guide usually found in indie music  and clothing store.  It’s released on a Wednesday and is usually gone in an hour of hitting the store.  Here you can get in the know of who’s playing and where.  Make sure you read most of the ads – often you can find a ‘secret’ show – like when Prince played under the name Purple Rain at Manchester lane or Tommy Lee who played a set at Spice market.

Otherwise head to St. Kilda’s most famous venue the Esplanade Hotel (11 The Esplanade. St. Kilda) known as the Espy to locals.  They have a number of rooms and you can always catch a free event.

Clubs tend to be busier on Saturday’s whilst Bars especially tapas bars are popular on Friday nights.  For cheap Friday drinks and Asian Tapas head to Cho Gao ( Level 3 Melbourne Central, Swanton Street, CDB).  Designed as a Japanese garden inside – make sure you sit on the balcony with the DJ overlooking the city; it’s a stunning view.  Check the cocktail board for that night’s special.  Card games are very popular here buy a deck at the bar or join in with the locals it’s a great way to meet people.

Where are they now? – Norhayati Masnan

March 2, 2010

Norhayati Masnan & family: missing DB but happily settled in UK

Norhayati (or commonly known as Yati to her friends) moved from DB after 8 years.  Together with 2 boys (Connor now 3 and Cameron now 6) she headed to the UK. Although she is deeply missed by her friends in Hong Kong she has now settled in nicely to her new home and has been doing alot of exciting travel of her own.

How long ago did you leave DB? Since 2nd July 2008.

Where and why did you move? Left for the UK due to husband’s job.

How has your life changed since leaving DB? Getting to experience the different lifestyle.  (The outdoors.)

What would be your advise for anyone moving to your location? Can be a long commute if you live in the country, hired help are expensive compared to Asia and cars are essential if u want to travel far.

The train systems are pretty good (not the same as Hong Kong though) and there is lots of open space with lots of places and things to see and do within the country. I love the fact that it is close to Europe and also that State schools are free!

What do you miss about DB? The convenience of the plaza, the affordable helper and the diverse community. The other thing that we miss most is the Hong Kong 7’s! Its always a great fun weekend. Cameron’s first taste of rugby was when he was 6 weeks old when we took him to the 7’s. He slept most of it despite the chaos. The eight years we were there, we only missed one only because we were invited to a wedding in Atlanta. Steve definitely missed attending the long lunches!

The easy commute to and from the airport is also another factor on why we missed living in Dbay.

Golf cart zooming in Dbay also makes it a unique place to live. Though we never had one ourself i guess it’s a great alternative means of transportation since owning and driving cars are not allowed in Dbay.

What are the women in Discovery Bay doing for Chinese New Year?

February 10, 2010

Does everybody in Discovery Bay leave to go away during Chinese New Year? I asked a few members and here are their answers!

We aren’t doing anything! The girls are having a movie night though…..Leah Douglas

CNY, have no idea yet but hopefully will be peaceful 🙂 Helen Harries – Inspirare

 I was originally looking at escaping Asia and heading over to Europe (as the flights are so affordable at the moment) but unfortunately I am in the process of trying to work around my husbands work schedule.  Paula BarnesEnjo

 We are off to Phuket for a well earned family vacation. It will be an opportunity for us all to de-stress and have some wonderful quality time together. Illana Mckinstry – Career Consulting

 We will do some good hikes around HK and will go with the kids to see the fireworks on a junk, organized by some friends. That should be fun! Danielle Ribs – Life Harmony

I will be running scrapbook classes of course! For more details contact HK Memory Chest  Angela Collingwood – HK Memory Chest

I am going to the  USA Christine King – Headland Homes.HK

I will try to have family at home that are coming from France, for 10 days so I will  guide them through Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories and enjoy family time. We will try to go in the crowd to see  the parade, the lion’s danse and the firework.  Cecile Thomas – Double Faces

Where are they now? – Lyndall Bauer

February 9, 2010

We often count our close friends as family when we meet great people while living away from our native country. We all know it is part of the package when signing up to live abroad, but it doesn’t make it any easier when we have to say our “goodbyes” to the ones we can count as our life long friends (no matter where they are in the world). 

We thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to give our readers the opportunity to find out where these fabulous DB women have moved onto – although they are deeply missed in Hong Kong we are so happy that they have settled into their new homes and lives.

Previous DB resident Lyndall Bauer took off to Dubai after spending 8 years living in Hong Kong.   I thought this would be a great opportunity for her friends back in Discovery Bay to find out how she is doing!

How long ago did you leave DB? almost 7 months

Where and why did you move? To Dubai, my husband was transferred here and I must say that it was under duress that I came here. However, our new home in Arabian Ranches is lovely and life here is ‘normal’ again – meaning we have a car and can buy groceries, pack them in the boot and drive all the way to the door and unpack them – bliss!

How has your life changed since leaving DB?  It has and it hasn’t. I still do my typing as I did in HK, but my time off is different. Gone are the days of cheap, wonderful footies (foot massages).  Also, as the distances between places here are quite vast and for most of the year the temperatures are ‘hot enough to fry an egg on your bonnet’ – walking anywhere is totally out of the question and the result is my derriere has grown exponentially from sitting all the time. Otherwise, the cinemas are great – apart from the Emiratis who are the rudest most inconsiderate people EVER. They talk on their phones constantly – and no amount of shhhhhing shuts them up – they laugh and talk to each other, the other day one woman and her two kids walked into the cinema, midway through the movie and shouted out for her friend, not once, not twice but three times!! At least in other countries I have been in when one asks the person to keep quiet or to get off the phone, they do.
What would be your advise for anyone moving to your location? Get a driver’s license and sun block. Do a defensive driving course and get your diploma in shopping!

What do you miss about DB?  My friends!

WIC Travel – Sri Lanka

February 1, 2010

We are always looking for somewhere new and exciting to visit in Asia, most of us seem to have been to the same places each holiday season. So when Marie Wessler, went on holiday to Sri Lanka we had to find out all about it.

WIC’s Pubic Relations Manager Clair Swemmer interviewed her to find out what if this is a place worth investigating for our own travels.  Marie has 3 children ages 10, 7 & 4 and traveled during the December holiday season.

What is the food like?

Most food options, including western one’s were on the spicy side- however, something could be found for the kids in most restaurants. The Sri Lankan curries are slightly different to Indian Curries, in that they are made up of many small dishes consisting of one meat and various curried vegetables – these would then be mixed together to one’s own preference.

A speciality is the “Hoppers”, which is a bowl-shaped pancake which is then filled with your curry of choice.

Would you consider Sri Lanka to be a conservative country? (What would be appropriate attire – thus not to offend locals? Eg. Would a bikini be appropriate?)

Sri Lanka would definitely be considered a conservative country, but apart from the odd stare, the Sri Lankan’s are quite used to how the tourist’s dress. Beach attire on the beach would be inoffensive, however it would be considered more appropriate for women to cover their shoulders around the villages and cities.

Sinhala, Tamil is the official language but is English widely spoken?

Yes, English is widely spoken and communication is very easy.

What would you consider the three must see’s?

1. The Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage

2. Traditional Fire walking and Dancing in the city of Kandy.

3. White Water Rafting in Kitulgala – SW of Kandy and the location for the filming of “Bridge on the River Kwai”

NB – Should you want to visit any of the temples around Sri Lanka, it is strongly advised that to avoid disappointment – Ladies need to cover up!

The Presidential elections are being held late in January -would you consider it still safe to travel?

Yes, it is safe to travel. The general feeling amongst the locals is definitely one of optimism regarding their countries future.

How would you recommend travelling around the city? Would a private car be easier compared to public taxis?

Tuk Tuk taxis are cheap and readily available for all transport needs within the city. Should you wish to explore further than the city, car hire is easily organised through your hotel at very reasonable rates.

How many weeks would you give to planning? Could you do it yourself or would you advise the use of a travel agent?

No prior planning was done except booking the first hotel, and a beach resort in between – armed with a copy of the “Lonely Planet – Sri Lanka“, a pretty spontaneous and stress-free holiday can be had!

What is the weather like?

Our travellers were there mid to end Dec, and had the benefit of beautiful warm days, with afternoon showers and low humidity.

What are the top 5 must pack items?

1.Insect repellent is a MUST

2. Sunscreen

3. Bathing suits

4. Good walking shoes

5. Medication for motion sickness – incredibly slow, long and winding roads!

Would you recommend it a place to take children?

Definitely child friendly.

Sri Lanka was picked to be the next must invest economy byFrank Holmes (CEO and Chief Investment Officer of U.S. Global Investors, Inc.,) would you consider it a cheap place to travel?

Unfortunately Sri Lanka is definitely not a cheap getaway – with a diet coke costing around US$ 2. Expect tourist prices.

Is credit card accepted in most places or would cash be the best option?

Credit cards are accepted in hotel chains and most established outlets, however it is highly recommended that you travel with sufficient cash to see you through.

What are you reading now?

January 23, 2010

500 Places to take your kids before they grow up

by Holly Hughes

Have you ever wondered where to go on holidays that will suit all of the family? Having 3 children of my own I know all too well how the sound of the dreaded question “Are we there yet?” over and over again whilst driving around the Australian country side can drive the most patient person crazy. Why not take some tips from the experts and head to somewhere exciting for you and your children!

Here are a few of the quirky but fun places that the author has listed.

For anybody who grew up loving the television series “Little House on the Prairie” Holly Hughes suggest that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Homes is suitable for any child over the age of 4 she goes on to write “somehow I feel closest to Laura here, where the grown up Laura plunged back into her memories to create her timeless stories”. Why they’ll thank you: Imagine covering the distances between these homes in a covered wagon, with no superhighways.

Who hasn’t read the Da Vinci code by now? If you haven’t read it that is okay just grab the book and read it on the plane trip over to Italy. The author suggests that anybody over the age of 8 will love this trip to Milan because “The da Vinci mystique hovers here”. The book makes it so easy for you suggesting where to stay and how to get there as well as website links and phone numbers.

Borobudur: A Buddhist climb to Paradise – this magical place set in the south of Magelang, Central Java Indonesia is recommended for children ages 6 and up. Indonesia is such a beautiful place anyway but why not head over to somewhere other then Bali. She makes the adventure come alive when stating “Like the labyrinths in medieval Christian cathedrals, the walkways around each level of this stepped pyramid are an exercise in mediation; you’ll see saffron-robbed Buddhist priests pacing along, chanting as they wind around the 3km long route to the top”. Why they’ll thank you: Walking the circuit, reading the walls.

There are so many diverse places mentioned from around the world and the topics vary from rides and thrills to war and peace, so pick a type of holiday you are after and flick through the 500 odd pages of the book and you can plan your next holiday!