Friday, 31 October 2014

Na Dao @Mandala Restaurant (Vientiane, Laos)

The restaurant of "Mandala Boutique Hotel" located in the garden of the hotel. Serving set lunch (that changes daily) and a-la-cart diner. And the restaurant has a nice wine collection for reasonable prices. Actually the food is also reasonable priced. The restaurant serves French kitchen.

We had lunch here and that started with a fresh salad and was followed by a steamed Mekong Fish. And as dessert a Caramel Custard Cream. And that all for 85.000 Kip (or 340 Thai baht).

The restaurant has indoor & outdoor seating. We loved it! And to the look of the clientele the local expats have found the place also. Highly recommended!

See Na Dao @ Mandala 

Mandala Boutique Hotel (Vientiane, Laos)

A 24 room boutique hotel in a formerly private villa for a French family in the 1960's and later tuned into a school in the 1990's. Now a oases of peace and quietness, just out of the old city of Vientiane. And surrounded by a beautiful garden with old trees. The only thing that you could be missing is a swimming pool.

We had a Suite room on the ground floor behind the main building. As it is a old house with extensions actually all rooms are a bit different. And the all breath the old atmosphere that must have been in Vientiane 100 years ago but now with the comforts of today. Like TV, Airco and mini-bar.

Our room was comfortable, although the bathroom is a bit small. Buffet breakfast is good, actually for me very good. But it has a bit limited choice, so it was a disappointment for my wife. Staff is friendly and service minded. The hotel has bicycles to explorer the old city of Vientiane.

The restaurant of the hotel called "Na Dao" is a very good French kitchen that serves lunch & diner. All together we loved this hotel. Highly recommended!

See Mandala Hotel Vientiane

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Old memories in Vientiane (Laos)

Scandinavian bakery
It must be now about 6 or 7 years ago that I was overnight in Vientiane (Laos) for the last time. And wow a lot has changed, especially in compare with the first time I was in Vientiane in 1997.

In those days there were no paved road, just dust. So much dust that it was even IN our room at "Inter City Hotel". The room had a hot-water boiler made in the USSR and had the size of a car and made the sound of a diesel engine. Sleeping you did in between the boom-boom sounds of the disco downstairs.

Many things changed but "Inter City Hotel" is still operating, being it now called a Boutique Hotel. And he only place to have Western cakes was "Scandinavian" and it is still running!

Old Russian building
At the "fountain" was Vientiane's highest and ugliest building, made with money (and design) from the good old USSR. It is so ugly that I find it beautiful. For me it is a icon of the old Vientiane. And it seems that others think the same as it is being renovated.

The famous Inter City Hotel

Two days in Vientiane (Laos)

Sunset along the Mekong River in Vientiane
We did stay 2 days / 1 night in Vientiane, the capital city of landlocked Laos. Besides visiting the beautiful old temple "Wat Si Saket" with hundreds of Buddha's we made a late afternoon & evening walk along the mighty Mekong River.  Our walk did begin at the eastern part where the new extended land of Vientiane did rise out of the Mekong River. On the street-side there are still the small restaurants where many backpackers still enjoy their meal & drinks of Lao beer. But the riverside is gone, or better said moved about 50 meters. And that 50 meters is now a nice park where in the evening is a "Night market".

Walking along the riverside at the park you will see many young & older Lao people enjoying the evening & sunset. There are many Vietnamese ladies with a "mobile beauty saloon" and what is better then to enjoy a sunset, chatting with Line to your friends and you nails being done?

Walking more west wards (up stream) the park ends and it starts to look again a bit like in the old days. With some simple Lao restaurants & Karaoke's. With small tables setup along the riverside and selling food & Lao beer.

Walking a bit more west wards (up stream) the restaurants seem to upscale and there are even some cocktail bars along the river.

Indeed a great place to relax, eat, drink and enjoy a stunning sunset over the Mekong River with Thailand on the other side.

See you in Vientiane!

A few remarks after 2 days in Vientiane.
* Most people wear helmets while on their motorbike, and better helmets as in Thailand.
* Much less people are playing with their phone or tab in restaurants or on the street
* Vientiane city has changed a lot, not always for the better
* But some old icon's stayed unchanged
* Why does a river stop people from making good French bread
* Vientiane is still a village city

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Bei Otto Restaurant & Bakery (Bangkok, Thailand)

Sorry no photos this time, "Bei Otto" is a old hand of the German kitchen in Bangkok. Located about 50 meters into Soi 20 of Sukhumvit road. They have a small shop selling bread, cheese, jam, meat and cakes. Next to the shop is a small area for breakfast & lunch. Next to the shop is their restaurant with indoor & outdoor seating for diner. In the time being I had a few times breakfast, lunch or diner here. And it was always good. They do have special monthly menu's.

Their bread and all other products are very good, although a bit expensive. But for once & while that does not matter much. See Bei Otto Bangkok

Big (motor)Bike shops in Bangkok (Thailand)

OK it has not much to do with holiday traveling but as a motorbike rider in Thailand I though it could be helpful to make a list of shops in Bangkok that sell big motorbikes or things like helmets, jackets, spare-parts or tyres. As by law all motorcycles in Thailand are motorbikes, so motorbikes of more as 200/250cc are called "Big Bikes". So these shops are NOT for motorbikes like Honda Wave or Yamaha Fino. So there we go for motorbike, motorbikes, motorcycle or motorcycles.

If you have any suggestions about shops please email me. And under the tag Motorbikes you will find other postings about anything with motorbikes or riding motorbikes in Thailand.

Looking for a hotel in Bangkok? Have a look at Agoda Hotel Booking

BKKspeed (China Town or Suan Mali)

A small shop located in a very small soi but with a good choice of helmets (Arai, AGV, HJC and Shark), jackets, gloves and some other riding gear. Staff speaks good English and knows what they are selling. They do have a second shop in Pinklao. Highly recommended!
See BKKspeed

I did not (yet) visit this shop but heard good reports about it. Selling helmets, jackets, gloves, etc.
See FB Page 320sp Bangkok

Kamix shop
I did not (yet) visit this shop but heard good reports about it. The shops is located at Srinakarin road near Soi 14. Selling helmets (AGV, HJC, Rebel), jackets, gloves, etc.
See Kamix shop BKK

Review of Shark SpeedR helmet

I was in need of a new helmet and living in Thailand the choice is a bit limited. And overpriced helmets brands makes the choice even a bit more limited.

I wanted a full-face helmet, without a flip-up. And I wanted a internal sun-visor. Also I would prefer a helmet that is not too heavy.  And that all within a price range of 8.000 - 14.000 Thai baht. So I did some research and found two brand names sold in Thailand .... AGV and Shark.

AGV is a originally Italian brand name, but some helmets of AGV are made in China. Asian specification they call that. They are still good helmets, approved in Europe. But not approved in Thailand so there are limited points of sale for it.

Shark is an originally France brand name, but some models are made in Thailand (like the Speed-R). Again also good helmets and approved in Europe and even approved in Thailand.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Taking public transport and getting lost in Bangkok (Thailand)

Photos of a day in Bangkok taking modern public transport, old fashioned klong boat and a bit of walking to get really lost. It is just 10 min away from the skyscrapers of Silom road that you find a small Chinese style community living along the old klongs of Bangkok. Like 50 years ago in the "Venice of Asia". Never a boring day in Bangkok! I love getting lost in Bangkok, you too?

You want to join? Contact Beyond Highlights Travel

Hemmingway Restaurant (Bangkok, Thailand)

Located about 50 meters into Soi 14 of Sukhumvit road in a old Thai mansion with a nice garden. Serving lunch, dinner and snacks like tapas. They have both indoor- and outdoor seating.

I had lunch here and ordered a plate of "Cold Cuts" (370 Thai baht) and as dessert "Key Lime Cake" (140 Thai baht). As drink I had a mixed fruit shake (180 Thai baht). All price are excluded of 7% VAT but they do not charge the stupid 10% service charge. They leave that up to the courtesy of the customer and I really like it that way!
My cold cuts

The food was delicious and the service was very good. A place to come back, although I must say that I do find the prices a bit expensive (even for what you get). But still highly recommended.

See Hemingways Bangkok

Thee Hotel (Bangkok, Thailand)

Located about 100 meter into Soi 20 of Sukhumvit road. Formerly know as Premier Inn but since September 2014 totally renovated or actually build almost new.

Rooms are a bit small but brand new, clean and most of comfortable. I had a so called Deluxe room and I was missing a safety box in the room as well there is actually no real wardrobe Well there is an open space in front of the mirror. So if you use it you do not have a mirror anymore. And personally I do not like air-con right above my bed (makes me sick).
So for a one night stay in Bangkok it was good for me and reasonbale good value for money. Staff was friendly and service-minded.

Be advised that at this moment they do not have (yet) a restaurant so they do not serve breakfast or any food at all.

And although I had no problem with it be also advised that right next to the building there is construction work going on. And as well opposite is also construction work going on. And under / in-front of the hotel they are working on a few small shops and a restaurant.

Be also advised that their own booking system is working a bit weird and I did never receive a confirmation email of my booking. I would advice to book this hotel via a hotel booking site like Agoda or
Although I had a good night sleep, I am not sure if you would stay here again.

See Thee Hotel Bangkok

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Wat Phasorn Kaew (Lomsak, Thailand)

Along route 12, about 15km after Lomsak (coming from Khon Kaen) is on your right hand a beautiful temple build in Gaudi style. It is a medication centre that is partly still under construction. The temple itself is beautiful decorated with colourful mosaic stones. And it is located on a magnificent location on a small mountain with in the background a huge mountain range (Phu Hin Rong Khla).