Monday, March 26, 2012

Banyan Tree Double Pool Villa (III)

In my last entry about the perks of the Banyan Tree Double Pool Villa, I shared with you about the beautiful bicycles and a dedicated Coffee Man. For this entry, I will share with you about the Thai Cooking Class that they have arranged specially for us. If you ever visit Banyan Tree Phuket, do try to join the cooking class as you will take home wonderful recipes of your favourite Thai dishes.

There are many complimentary activities that Banyan Tree Phuket offer all guests, but there are some activities such as the cooking class that require a small fee. For Double Pool Villa guests, Banyan Tree Phuket will try to arrange your preferred activity to suit your schedule and it might even be complimentary.

Chef Ohm (what a Zen name) taught us the art of Thai cooking and introduced us to the key ingredients. Thai cuisine is one of my favourites and I was really excited to learn how to cook from a pro.

Our classroom is in the kitchen of Tre restaurant, located at the compound of the Double Pool Villas. Before we can become master chefs, we must first learn to prep the ingredients. We were also given recipe cards to take home.

Voila! All chopped and ready to go...

We were introduced to the key seasoning ingredients to Thai cooking. I always knew fish sauce is a key ingredient but I never knew that oyster sauce and palm sugar are important ones too!

Making Tom Yum soup ain't difficult if you are being taught some of the key secrets... such as the use of oyster sauce, as well as putting in the lime juice last so as not to create a bitter taste from overcooking it.

The degree of spiciness can be controlled by the amount of freshly cut chilli that you put in, along with the Tom Yum paste. You can choose to use king prawns, fish and/or squids as principal ingredients. Vegetarian option is possible too... just substitute with more mushrooms and carrots. Opt for vegetarian "oyster sauce" made with mushroom if you are a strict vegetarian.

Making our favourite Thai Green Curry. The trick is to use green egg plants as Chef told us purple egg plants will turn brown and mushy, while the green variety stay white and firm. For our cooking class, we cooked it with chicken but you can substitute with fish or pork.

Making the sweet and sour sauce for crispy sea bass. A healthy option is to drizzle this sauce over steamed fish slices or fish fillet if you prefer not to deep fried the fish.

Making the sauce for the sticky rice. It's really simple... just coconut milk, lots of sugar and a pinch of salt. If I make this at home, I will cut down on the sugar.

We were also taught the art of slicing mango. That's a useful skill to learn.

The trick to making the sticky rice is to soak it in water for an hour before you steam it. Here, the chef uses a traditional Thai rice steamer. I have to find an alternative at home.

Here's a look at our achievements.

Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup
Tom Yum Goong

Green Curry Chicken
Kaeng Kheow Waan Gai

Fried Fish with Sweet Chilli Sauce
Pla Raad Prik

Mango with Sticky Rice
Khao Nieow Ma-Muang

It's a satisfying experience to eat your own cooked meal.

For more information, please visit:

Email me at if you wish to have the recipes. :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Banyan Tree Phuket Double Pool Villa (II)

In my earlier entry about the amazing Banyan Tree Phuket Double Pool Villa, I showed you the beautiful interior and exterior of the spacious 1-bedroom villa. For this entry, I am going to talk about some of the perks and things to do at this amazing resort.

One of the perks of the Double Pool Villa (DPV) is having a traditional "coffee man" come by the villa to make you a cup of freshly brewed Thai styled coffee.

The coffee man and his mobile setup

Making coffee the traditional way with the simple tools

Coffee break with traditional Thai sweet treats. That's what I call a real coffee break!

Coffee man can also make you a cup of the famous Thai milk tea!

As a souvenir, coffee man gave us a pack of Thai tea leaves and coffee powder. How thoughtful! Notice the linen with the DPV embroidery? Little details of luxury.

Banyan Tree is famed for its spa so I don't need to talk much about it. However, a fun way to get to the spa or explore the big compound is by bicycle when you don't want to hitch a buggy ride. A perk of the DPV is to have our own bicycles at our disposal, while other non-DPV guests have to rent it from the main reception.

His and hers bike greeted us when we arrived

What a beautiful bicycle!

I decided to cycle since it's such a beautiful bike... and to think I haven't cycled for over 15 years! This is one special bike I must say.

For more information, please visit:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Banyan Tree Phuket Double Pool Villa (I)

Looking at the well kept conditions of Banyan Tree Phuket Double Pool Villas (DPV), it's no wonder I thought that it's spanking new. Launched in 2006 but now marketed as a luxury boutique establishment within the 3 properties of Banyan Tree Phuket, it is catered for guests looking for exclusivity and refined luxury.

The luxury starts the minute you arrive at Phuket Airport, where a staff will meet you upon arrival and whisk you through the fast track lane and into the waiting car. It's nothing new but it's a perk that is included as part of the package for the DPV guests. Luxury is about the little details.

There are only 24 villas in this premier enclave that has its own private resort entrance and lobby. The one bedroom DPV is approximately 1,300sqm in size, which is substantially bigger than the other Banyan Tree villas that are approximately 170-380sqm.

Here's a look at my "home" for the next few days.

The entrance to our DPV. We even have our own bicycles.

The hallway leading to the lounge area

The lounge area overlooking the pool and lagoon

The living room with a writing desk that overlooks the lagoon.

The amazing pool that overlooks the lagoon and Tre restaurant

The "floating" bedroom that is surrounded by a wading pool

The wading pool in front of the bedroom

The bathroom that has a steam room within a shower facility

The bath with a view

The exterior of the one bedroom DPV

The outdoor dining area and loungers

Chilling in the jacuzzi within the 15m infinity lap pool that overlooks the lagoon

The outdoor shower

At the DPV, guests will have their own villa host who is on call 24 hours a day... it's just a speed dial away on the Nokia mobile phone that they provide. How thoughtful is that?

I am loving this place and have decided that I should come back every year. It ain't difficult since it's only an hour plus plane ride away to this paradise.

For more information, please visit:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In Love With Fendi Pre-Fall 2012

It's a little early to talk about Pre-Fall when we are just getting into Spring/Summer collection. I seem to be getting earlier and earlier when it comes to my fashion trend line. However, I cannot contain my excitement when I saw the Pre-Fall collection for Fendi.

I'm not much of a fan of Fendi ready-to-wear in the past years, but I am putting my money in Fendi for Pre-Fall. I might be buying some of these if I can find them in Singapore or during my travel. These pics will definitely serve as my mood board for the next few months.

I need (not want) this top and these fur-trimmed gloves!

I am so wearing this look in NYC when I am there this fall!

The ONLY dress to be seen in for Pre-Fall!

Not a big fan of fur but I love and may buy this fur trimmed top (left)

Love this look. I want the boots!

Giving Celine a run for its money. This look is spot on!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Buying Guide for Mary K x Topshop

The day has come for the media launch of the Mary Katrantzou for Topshop capsule collection. Public launch will be tomorrow, 10th March 2012. Do not worry that there's nothing for the public to buy. Yours truly has checked with the good staff at Topshop about the stock situation for tomorrow. There will be pieces set aside for the public launch!

With a price range starting at S$149 for a scarf to S$809 for the most coveted satin dress in the collection, I would advise one to shop wisely. A higher price range means it will only attract serious buyers with the cash and those are the peeps who will not queue up in the wee hours of the morning to get their hands on Mary K. However, I might be wrong.

I also found out that Topshop Singapore brought in limited pieces for the Mary K collection, so the chance of you bumping into another wearing the same dress will be greatly reduced. If you are early or lucky enough to get there to shop, I hope my shopping tips will come in handy!

Multi-colour satin dress S$809
This is THE dress of the collection. I am usually a UK 10, but I fit a SMALL for this design. Great workmanship and the quality of the fabric are highly visible. The downside is that the dress is really short. I most likely would have to wear tights with this dress to protect my modesty. However, it is really a piece of art! Sitting down with this dress would be a little tricky but manageable with a bit of practice. If you are really petite and skinny, this is not the dress for you as alteration to fit would be a challenge.

Multi-colour tube satin dress S$629
This is also one of the most coveted dress in the collection. I am usually a UK 10, but even a SMALL for this design is too big for me. I had to hold on the excess fabric at the back of the bodice so I could hold up the dress for a pic. It is a little short but still pretty alright. Would just have to swim more to tone up my pins to do this dress justice. If the dress fits you 80% well, buy it and alter it to fit. It's worth it!

Multi-colour silk dress S$346
This is a beautiful silk dress that will be great in the city as well as chic at the beach resort. Made of 100% silk, do take care when wearing it to the poolside or beach. It is only meant to be dry cleaned. I am a UK 10 and a MEDIUM size fits me well. If you are skinny or slim without J-Lo type of hips, then a SMALL would be great for you. Otherwise, take a MEDIUM if you are well-endowed in the hips. I would most likely wear tights or a slip under it as it is flowy and short, and there's a high chance of indecent exposure if a gust of wind is present... or perhaps even just a raise of your hand.

If the above pieces are too expensive for your fashion investment or you can't get your hands on them at the store, here are some pieces that might be available.

Floral tee S$93
Wear it with jeans, black jeggings or shorts.

Floral leggings (price unavailable)
Wear it with over-sized shirts, tees or tanks.

Sheer blouse S$276
Wear it with jeans, jeggings, skirts or shorts.

Long printed scarf S$149
The only piece of accessory in the collection.

Cropped printed trousers S$276
Wear it with shirts, blouses, tees or tanks.

Fret not if you can't get your hands on any at the store tomorrow. I have another tip for you. If you have friends or families in the UK or US, get them to order it online for you and ship to an address in UK or US. I have just checked the sites, they do replenish the stocks intermittently, so do check back regularly. You might just be lucky.

For more information, please visit