thailand i love you

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Phuket has long attracted travellers seeking a tropical beach escape, but as Thailand’s largest island with a rich history, dining and marine scene, there’s much more to see and do beyond lazing on the sands. From vibrant nightlife to spectacular seascapes to beautifully restored Old Town streets, an island holiday on Phuket can unwind in some delightfully surprising ways.

But first, the beaches.

Kamala Beach, on the central west coast, is one of Phuket’s quintessential postcard-picture beaches, its soft sands and shallow waters are among the island’s best places for all ages to swim, surf and sunbathe. Hints of its fishing village past remain with traditional long-tail boats gliding across the calm bay, while a string of casual restaurants lining the sands offer seafood barbecues and breezy spots for watching the sun go down.

The smaller Surin Beach is another fine sunset spot, with its beach clubs and seafront restaurants serving up creative cocktails along with the sea views. Hemmed in by two lush headlands, Surin’s fine sands and swaying palm trees add a tropical idyll that invites you to linger, whether indulging in the beach club scene or not. Nearby Laem Singh is a small cove found between Kamala and Surin reached via a steep path, where silken sands and colourful snorkelling sites await.

With its position along an ancient Andaman Sea trading route, Phuket has attracted seafarers for centuries, though these days superyachts and cruise vessels are more likely to be spotted on the horizon than merchant ships. Whether you get there by private yacht charter, or by kayak for venturing deeper into its hidden caves and lagoons, no visit to Phuket is complete without exploring the magnificent Phang Nga Bay with its tall limestone karst islands.

The Similan Island archipelago west of Phuket is a protected marine wonderland for divers and snorkellers, while Racha and Coral Islands are an easy day-trip from Phuket, brimming with sea life for snorkelling and white-sand beaches for relaxing.

Phuket’s interior is looking more urban these days, but discovering its traditional rural side and jungly bits is simply a matter of straying off the island’s main roads. Walk a path through towering bamboo and giant leafy tropical plants of the protected Khao Phra Thaew National Park up to Bang Pae waterfall, or cool down in the stream.

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Restaurant Openings: MoVida & Akademi in Seminyak

in Dining by

New restaurants are constantly popping up on Bali, and January has been no different. Introducing the new kids on the block, MoVida and Akademi, brought to you by the brains behind the uber popular and successful Potato Head family.

With five Australian venues already earning respect, this is MoVida’s first overseas venture, but success must surely be on the cards for this combination of Spanish vibe and Bali beach club! Located at the base of the Katamama Hotel (due to open in March) in Seminyak’s popular Jalan Petitenget, MoVida is designed for holiday fun. Tasty food to share and an extensive cocktail menu, give a nod to MoVida Bali’s new island location, but the venue’s Spanish roots shine through.

Benefitting from local skills and materials, MoVida boasts the same architectural flair as Potato Head, with furnishings fittings and fabrics created by Balinese artisans and an impressive 15-metre polished green-stone bar. Complementing the delicious Spanish imports, local produce also features strongly on the menu, which has been carefully crafted by head chef Jimmy Parker.

Sit back and indulge in tapas with a twist. Try the Cangrejo (Lombok soft shell crab, with seaweed aioli and squid ink bun) or a dish from the Josper oven such as Pescado (whole baked halibut with a burnt butter sauce, hazelnuts and capers). And lets not forget the impressive bar, which showcases a great list of cocktails based on celebrated classics, at least four different types of sangria available by the glass, and a wide range of fine Spanish wines.

Whilst we are on the subject of beverages… another new venue within Katamama is the chic Akademi Bar, created by award-winning bartender and author Dre Masso. Here you can sample a selection of unique drinks, all made in celebration of Indonesia and the tropical offerings of Bali. As well as having one of the biggest collections of premium spirits on the island, the bar houses a vast range of infused locally produced arak (a distilled alcoholic drink) made from coconut, rice and cane. Many ingredients are grown on the hotel grounds, so you’ll be pushed to find fresher.

Akademi oozes style. Standing centre stage is the bar, illuminated by a vintage ’70s pendant light designed by Gaetano Sciolari. Guests drink from bespoke ceramic, wood and copper cocktail cups made by local artisans and listen to music (vinyl of course) played on a Klipsch hi-fidelity system.

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24 hours in Batu Bolong

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Having settled into your exquisite villa on this island paradise, it’s time to head out and explore Bali’s hippest ‘hood – Batu Bolong.

While Canggu is a cool collection of gorgeous green tropical tracts of rice paddy with smatterings of sacred cows, Batu Bolong is blooming into the hottest locale for chic bohemian lifestyle.

Think organic market and chichi yoga meets beach-bum couture accessorised by celebrity-anointed designers. The food is fab too.

Secure that chauffeur-driven car and kick the day off with a tres authentic French breakfast at the holy shrine of Monsieur Spoon, or graze on the most amazing Nagu Bomb breakfast bowl of sweet local fruit, coconut milk and granola at Betelnut Café. Cool cafés are a growth industry on this strip, so check out the super buzzing Crate, the uber healthy Avocado and the recently opened Bro – an intriguing mash up of ‘awesome Chinese and authentic French’ – while you’re here.

Machine-porn at Malamadre is where custom-created motorcycles are produced from a tiny workshop, while over at the epic Deus ex Machina they are customised alongside surfboard shapers, a barber, live music and food.

Artist types longing to embrace Bali’s creative realm will adore silver smithing at the House of Alia where professionals share their painting and jewellery-making skills at workshops for small groups, including kids from age seven.

If the main game is retail therapy, the starting point is near the ‘Deus’ intersection.

Twentyone/Degrees stocks swimwear, jewellery and clothing ranges, while Flow & Yonder is a smokin’ hot surf-wear institution up some super-steep steps.

Puravida has non-resort-style women’s casuals while Asmara offers fashion with a Balinese spin. Nearby Horn has concept street-wear while a hop across the road to Bottle Avenue will secure some grape-based libations and vinyl music is sold next door.

Kiki’s Kloset has gorgeous beach-bum wear and smashing dresses. Blak is for the little ones and The Berawa Art House is worth inspecting, while opposite is Moon Rocks and 69 Slam – famous for teens.

Batu Bolong blooms restaurants like so many flowers, with a clutch being the chilled siblings of swank Seminyak outfits.

Kitchen Rustica offers classic Italian take-out made with love while inside the pod of shops at Love Anchor is the Roman restaurant Pinsology, dedicated to dishing pinsa – a type of pizza from Rome – plus tiramisu.

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Spilling the Beans: Chalina Estate

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Elite Havens’ villa chefs share their special recipes

Elite Havens villas are synonymous with superb dining, prepared by skilled chefs many of whom have trained in internationally renowned restaurants. Villa menus include an extensive range of Western and Asian suggestions, and our chefs will also do their best to cater to guests’ special requests. But of course every chef has his or her own ‘special’ dishes – the ones that guests ask for again and again. With much coaxing and cajoling, we’ve prised some of these secret recipes from our chefs to share with you.

In this issue, the outstanding chef at the Chalina Estate in Canggu, shares two of his favourite dishes with us.

Spicy-Green-Mango-Salad-with-Prawn

Chalina Estate’s
Spicy Green Mango Salad with Prawn

INGREDIENTS:

7-8 prawns, blanched
1 cup of shredded green mango
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
2 string beans, cut into pieces
5 cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
2-4 bird chilies
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp of lime juice
1 tbsp of tamarind concentrate
1/2 cup of cashew nuts

STEPS:

  1. Shred the green mango and carrot
  2. Coarsely pound garlic, chilies, dried shrimps and peanuts
  3. Add string beans, seasonings and tomatoes mix together
  4. Add the carrot and mango, mix well

PREPARATION:

  1. Pound garlic, chilies, dried shrimps and peanuts, coarsely. Add string beans, also lightly pounded. Season with lime juice, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate and fish sauce.
  2. Add the tomatoes, carrots and papaya and lightly mix together. Mix in the blanched prawns and fried cashew nuts. Serve with fresh vegetables.

Crispy-Fish-with-Chili-Sauce

Chalina Estate’s
Crispy Fish with Chili Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

350 grms of sea bass, cut into rectangular pieces
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of crispy – fried holy basil leaves
vegetable oil for deep-frying
dried red spur chilies

For the Chili Sauce

1/2 cup garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of vinegar
2 tbsp of fish sauce
1/4 cup of red and yellow spur chilies,

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Glow Like a Goddess on Day One

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Fancy being able to flaunt a beautiful golden vacation glow on day one of your holiday rather than the ‘roasted tomato look’ that so often results after first exposure to the unforgiving tropical sun? We’ve got a solution for you – organic spray tan on arrival in the privacy of your own villa.

What is Eco Tan?

Eco Tan spray tan is 100% organic, vegan and made only from natural ingredients. This means no synthetic colours, parabens, alcohol, oil, perfume are extremely harmful to your beautiful skin. To top this up its also odour–free. Your tan will be long lasting and fade evenly, because it intensively hydrates the skin. It also disguises cellulite and blemishes to produce an evenly toned body. What else could you wish for?

Make it Happen

Just let your villa manager know you would like Tan On Arrival and they will organise it for you. Allow 12 hours notice or pay a little extra and get it done immediately. Alternatively, book online at https://tanonarrival.com/booking/.

One session costs USD47. Surrender to the experts of Tan on Arrival in the privacy of your villa bathroom and come out glowing like a goddess.

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