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An Amazing Thai Christmas For You and Your Whole Family

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families/Recreation by

How do you plan to celebrate Christmas this year? Imagine idyllic beaches, gentle sea breeze, swaying palm trees, and gourmet dining. Add to that, a touch of culture with traditional Thai dances and stunning views that reach for the horizon. A stress-free holiday where you can laze in bed until noon and lounge under the sun all day. Beach volleyball, a swim in the pool and sunset cocktails to end the day. Do we have your attention? You can have all this, and more, if you head to an elite haven in Thailand this Christmas.

 No more sweating it out in the kitchen to prepare a Christmas meal. Sit back as your villa chef arranges the most exquisite feast. Wine and dine with your nearest and dearest, and say cheers to ending the year on a high note. You’ll want for nothing in Thailand.

Phuket

If you decide to go to Phuket for the holidays, Baan Paa Talee is a magnificent and modern estate set on top of a cliff. The villa can fit up to 20 guests and there is a wealth of activities you can do nearby, including exploring the Andaman Sea aboard a luxury yacht charter, scuba diving or snorkelling to explore the enchanting underwater world. The beautiful sights of Phang Nga Bay, Raya Islands, Similan Islands, Koh Phi Phi and more are all within a day’s sail. You can delve into Phuket’s decadent brunches, DJ dance parties and romantic sunset dinners or discover the rich history and get a glimpse of local life on a cultural tour of Phuket Old Town.

Or if you prefer, you can simply stay in the villa and enjoy the dining room which can accommodate up to 20 guests, play a game on the pool table in the games area, have a karaoke party and or just lounge at the bar by the pool deck. Events with up to 80 guests can be arranged, so get your Christmas party-planning on. Make it a trip to remember.

If you’re looking for a cosy villa by the ocean for your Christmas holiday, try Villa Malee Sai. Discover the true meaning of Christmas as you spend time with your family or friends in this private and charming villa.

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Chef du jour: Villa Amanzi Kamala

in Destinations/Dining by

The first thing you see upon stepping inside Villa Amanzi Kamala is the grand and luxurious 180-degree view of the ocean. Surrounded by modern furnishings and a large expanse, you feel as though you’re floating above the water in your own private paradise.

Below you is the games room in which a large boulder the size of a hill rests – untouched from the original place Mother Nature left it in. This forms part of the villa, and leaves you breathless. On the 2nd floor, aptly-equipped bedrooms fill a large hallway. You will want for nothing.

But the real draw of the venue is the modern kitchen, where your chef will be able to make you anything you ask for. We interviewed Villa Chef Thietam to get his insights into cooking in this beautiful villa.

Elite Havens:  Hi, Chef Thietam. How did you learn to cook?

Villa Chef Thietam: I started when I was 18 years old; I’m 35 now. I was working with people who knew how to cook, and I learned to cook from them and then I started cooking on my own. And later on, I worked in hotels so I learned to cook from there too.

EH:      What did you prepare for us today?

VCT:     Thai beef salad, crab meat in yellow curry, and crispy pork.

EH:      Why did you cook these dishes for us today?

VCT:     These are our most requested dishes. Our villa guests usually ask me to prepare these.

EH:      Are these your specialties?

VCT:     In addition to these dishes, my specialty is actually fusion food. Usually when you go out, you   will see things like prawn or chicken Pad Thai but I like to make scallop Pad Thai. It’s not traditional. We don’t really have scallops here, we have to import them. So when people serve scallops here, they’re usually just sauteed with garlic and pepper. But me, I like to cook them Thai style, so I use them in Pad Thai instead of prawns.

EH:      What do you do in your free time? Do you eat out?

VCT:     I like to fish and I like to look for fresh ingredients and then I like to go home and make new          

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Paradise on Natai Beach

in Destinations/Families/Recreation by

Natai Beach is a quiet and peaceful 10-kilometre stretch of white sand with an attractive blend of unspoilt nature and stunning luxury villas. Situated in Phang Nga province, only 25 minutes away from Phuket Airport, Natai Beach is the perfect place to escape the crowds and discover the soft sand and lush landscapes of the less-traveled Andaman coast.

There are only a few facilities to be found on Natai Beach – it is not your normal tourist beach. There are no wandering peddlers, no beach chairs or umbrellas – only a random beach massage cabana and some long tailboats. There is nothing except the sun, sea, and sand – and these are the reasons why this destination is perfect for a stay in a beachfront villa.

There are also some fantastic activities and attractions that are within a short distance of Natai Beach if you are willing to put your cocktail down and head out of your villa.

Phang Nga Bay Viewpoint

The sunsets from Natai Beach are great, but the sunrise over the limestone casts of Phang Nga Bay are spectacular. The recently discovered Samet Nangshe viewpoint is 25 minutes away from and it’s well worth an early start to watch the sunrise. It’s not as popular as many of the viewpoints in Phuket so it isn’t crowded. It is becoming a popular place for photographers who want to capture the perfect sunrise. The clear night skies with millions of stars are not too bad either.

Sarasin Bridge

Sarasin Bridge connects the mainland of Phuket and Phang Nga and is known as one of the most beautiful bridges in Thailand. It has a very interesting history: it is named after Pote Sarasin, former Prime Minister of Thailand, but it is best known for an unforgettable tragedy. In 1973, two young lovers, one from a wealthy family and one from a poor family, jumped off the bridge and took their own lives. The story is this: the family of K. Gew, a girl from a wealthy family, forbade her from seeing K.Dam, a local bus driver. They tied themselves together and jumped. A Thai movie about the lovers, The Bridge of Love, was released in 1987.

Views from the bridge are beautiful,

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Chef du jour: Villa Jia at Jivana Villas

in Destinations/Dining by

Villa Jia, part of the exclusive Jivana Beach Villas estate, is a luxurious fully staffed beachfront villa located on the pristine white sands of Natai Beach in rural Phang Nga, just 25 minutes from Phuket International Airport. With six ensuite bedrooms strewn across vast lawns, coupled with sweeping views of the Andaman Sea, Villa Jia is the perfect escape for those who appreciate aesthetic design paired with stunning natural beauty.

In Villa Jia’s impressive kitchen at Jivana Beach Villas, Chef Koong cooks up a simple but super tasty Thai-style wonton or เกี๊ยวทอด, Kiao Tod in Thai.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?

Chef Koong: My cooking knowledge comes from on-the-job experience and I have learnt an array of new techniques from other chefs that I have worked with. I didn’t go to cooking school but I’ve learnt from my work experience and through trainings at the workplace.

EH: What do you think makes a good chef/cook?

CK: Fresh ingredients, hygiene and the most important factor would be the taste of food. A good chef must be fascinated with the art of cooking, always seeking to improve, using new techniques.

EH: Why did you choose to make this dish for us today?

CK: Villa guests always remark that they are the best wontons they’ve ever had.

EH: Can you tell us how your cooking adds to the villa?

CK: Guests who are impressed with our food, will spread the word to their friends and family. My goal is for guests to feel compelled to come back and stay with us at the villa, allured by the flavours of my food.

EH: What should guests expect from you when you cook for them?

CK: Taste, great presentation, and food served on time.

Chef Koong’s Fried Wontons with Chicken

Only takes 20 mins to make, including wrapping. Super crispy and yummy.

Makes 8 – 10

Ingredients

  • 500g ground chicken
  • ½ tsp Sesame oil
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Wonton wrappers
  • 3 Pandan leaves cut into thin strips
  • Water for sealing
  • Oil for frying
  • Thai Sweet chili sauce

Directions

Step 1: In a bowl,

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Phuket Old Town: A Colourful, Cultural Melting Pot

in Culture/Destinations/Dining by

With its rainbow of colours, elegantly arched windows, shade-giving covered walkways and ornate facades, the architecture of Phuket Old Town is unique in Thailand. Strolling these bustling streets, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the colonial-influenced trading centres of the Straits settlements of Malacca, Penang or even Singapore.

So how did these candy-coloured shop houses of Phuket Old Town come about? Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Phuket was a hub for the tin-mining industry and the wealth that this brought attracted the attention of both Chinese and Portuguese merchants. Phuket Town grew around the protected natural harbour used by traders from east and west. To house their families and their businesses, buildings were constructed by immigrant workers from China, incorporating elaborate Chinese plaster and paintwork, but designed in a Western architectural style favoured by the Europeans. Thus, the Sino-Portuguese style was born.

As well as building grand mansions for the wealthiest merchant families, many shop houses (so-called because of their dual function as a workplace and a home) were built in long terraces, with a very narrow frontage but often extending up to fifty metres back from the road. The front part of these buildings were used for trading, while the shopkeeper or trader lived with his family in the remaining ground-floor space and on the upper floors.

Exploring these fascinating streets is to step back into Phuket’s rich, multi-cultured past, but extensive restoration work has brought Phuket Old Town back to life in recent years. The spaghetti-like jumble of black cables have been hidden below ground on several of the roads now, and the ornate facades have been brought back to their original vibrancy.

We suggest starting your walking tour in Thalang Road, Phuket Old Town’s main historical artery. Don’t miss two important landmarks near the Phuket City Market: the beautifully renovated Sino-Portugese mansion that now houses the Thai Airways office (not opened to the public), and Jui Tui shrine, a Chinese temple that plays an important role during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, celebrated every year during October.

Make a stop at the unique Lor Rong market to sample some typical Phuket food and sweet treats and then,

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