Friday, March 30, 2012

The Banyan Tree

The month of march was kinda crazy. Esther moved to Beijing, i quit my job, we entertained a few visitors, and we moved apartments. Esther and i are currently living with a good friend, Chris Boehner, in a hutong near nanlouguxiang. I also got a new computer, a Macbook Air, and i've been delaying figuring out how to use it... hence the delay in blogging. Vacation has been very busy, but very productive. On top of all that, we took a trip to Thailand from March 21st - 30th. We were meeting my friend Reid (of Julia and Reid, from Portland) for a week of island relaxation, but Esther and i decided to go a few days early and hang out in Bangkok.

While looking around at some deals, i happened upon a very good offer from, a website specializing in discounts at extravagant hotels. When i think of luxury hotels, i think of an expensive room with a complimentary amazing breakfast buffet, plus expensive food, expensive cocktails, etc... and you end up paying much more than what the room itself costs. What i found at the Banyan Tree, one of the nicest hotel chains in the world, was too good a deal to pass up.

The Banyan Tree offered a two night package deal in a club level suite. Club Level means you have access to the Club Lounge. And inside the Club Lounge... well, that's where the magic happens.

There is, of course, a magnificent breakfast buffet. But you also order lunch off the menu for free. We had green chicken curry, pad thai, chicken wings, and spring rolls, to name a few. Everything was great. Drinks are free, all day. That includes smoothies, juice, beer and liquor, and coffee. If it's not on the menu, they'll make it anyway. Service is impeccable. Also included in our package was a dinner for two in their 5-star Thai restaurant, Saffron, located on the 52rd floor with gorgeous views of Bangkok.

Besides food and beverage, our package included two 90-minute massages in their spa, alone worth about $250. We used both the gym and the pool, and never felt rushed for anything. It was the perfect rest.

The room itself was easily the nicest hotel room i've ever stayed in. They had a pillow menu, for selecting the type of pillow you want. A PILLOW MENU. Clearly, they spared no expense with the luxury of this room.  All told, we didn't pay for anything other than the room price, which was about $300 per night.  No extra charges or hidden costs.  Unreal.  I could see us doing that once or twice a year and not getting tired of it.

On our last night, we drew a bubble bath, lit some incense and candles, and i proposed the idea of marriage to her. She agreed.  

We celebrated by leaving the hotel for the first time and exploring Khao San Road, which we decided on because it was the only place i could remember when we got in the cab. I was like, "Khao San Road? That's a place, right?" The cab driver confirmed it was, indeed, a place. So that is where we went.

Turns out, Khao San Road is where foreigners go to buy overpriced drinks and souvenirs and street food. Being the first touristy thing we'd ever done in Bangkok, i guess it was a fine place to start. Most interesting to me were the pad thai street vendors, the brightly-colored tuk tuks, and the Ronald McDoland.  

In Thailand, people don't wave or shake hands when the greet you. Instead, they put their hands together, like when praying, and do a little bow, as Ronald is demonstrating above.

The next morning, we left the luxury of 5-star living and headed to the islands, with Reid and his friend, Aiyesha.


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