I’ve always been fascinated by the journeys of Ibn Battuta, and the style of JFK. It’s as if I’ve lived more lives than I can ever imagine.
So pack your bags, and I promise you’ll never be the same again.
“The Breathtaking tutelage of Burma”
Getting to Myanmar is tricky, as there are no direct flights from most major airports, unless you are already in the South East, then out of Bangkok to Yangon is the best.
The magic however isn’t in the capital, but in the preserved realm called Old Bagan. If you wish to travel in comfort from Yangon, then another flight with the only carrier that can get you there in one piece is a must. It’s called Air Bagan. Economy is booming in Myanmar, so don’t be surprised that everything is not as cheap as you may wish it is.
Bagan in fact, is probably one of the most expensive, opulent, highly curated destinations in South East Asia. However, I am only here to tell you what took my breath away.
Every morning, hot air balloons blend with the sunrise, right above thousands of pagodas and temples. I was not going to miss this. I hired a personal driver to take me to the tallest temple ever made in Burma; and was bold enough to climb it. No ropes, no supervision, just bare intuition, and a Louis packed with mineral water. As soon as I got to the top, to my surprise, or not really, I group of monks greeted me like an old friend, as if they knew I was coming.
There aren’t a lot of brave travelers around these temples, at least not as swarmed as Thailand or Cambodia. So there I was, above the most scenic culture in mankind, amongst the monks who part and parcel, created these vibes. The sun came out as they started started chanting, and there it was, I felt my breath, leaving my body, onto something larger than life. It was as if this memory has been taken off the pages of a fairy tale.
” The Captain of Andaman Sea”
After exploring the rather large culture of the Burmese, I’ve been encouraged to learn how to sail a vintage sail boat, built for the previous Kings of Thailand.
My journey began in the Island of Phuket, where the search for this elusive sail boat begun. I have heard of such beautiful stories about this boat, but after meeting several “captains”, they seem to just lead me to tourist trails and brand new yachts. I live in Dubai, I don’t get excited when I see shiny, new yachts, not anymore. I wanted what the stories were all about. I wanted the “Red Prince”.
After 4 days of looking for the captain, I was ready to hop on a seaplane to another island, until I heard a man, with a distinctive, Southern Thai accent call my name.
” I heard you were looking for the Red Prince? ” he confidently asked. So as all stories have their turning points, this was mine.
3 hours later, I was maneuvering the most epic of all sail boats ever made.
21 days on that boat, and the last 3, I was made Captain.
Got that right.
While the sun was generous all through out the month, I’d wake up with the warm breeze on my face, the smell of brewed coffee blended with the salty mist of the Andaman sea, all the way to the other side of this parallel universe.
“A game of views”
After getting really bronzed out in the sea and meeting such great people while sailing from island to isles; I met a girl who invited me to Vietnam. She was the French ambassador’s daughter I was on the same island with. I’ve heard about this one particular spot in Vietnam where you can see the mother of all views in the continent.
I was just up for more moments that could possibly be played in my head when the time comes; and someone may need the inspiration more than I ever will. I was a “Yes Man”.
Hours later, I found myself in Hanoi. It wasn’t as sunny and as vibrant as the the Thai islands, but the food surely made up for it. Later on, Laetitia, my host in Vietnam advised me she couldn’t make it all the way to Ha Long for some emergency reasons, but She arranged a personal chauffeur and a trust-worthy Mercedes-Benz that can take me to the as-far-as-I-can-see. Not gonna say no to that.
The ride was long, and the people I met as I stopped for fresh-cooked food couldn’t speak a word of English. I told them my Japanese is excellent, but no one really cared, I was in Viet Nam.
As soon as I got to Ha Long, I couldn’t be more excited, but the ride wasn’t the only journey, not yet. I had to look for a fisherman who could take me across the bay, to a mountain, and from there, a pleasant hike to the top made everything worth it all.
I stayed still in the moment, made more new friends, inhaled serenity, as I was basking in the marvel of the mother of all views.
Touch down, Bali. I bet you are smiling right now, Bali does that to people. It’s a the largest hippie-oriented island known to man. And it’s pretty.
I was invited to experience the newly opened, most talked about Reserve, owned by the Ritz-Carlton group. There are only 3 R-C reserves in world, one in Thailand, there’s one in. Puerto Rico, and the 3rd, I have to say, the most beautiful so far, is Mandapa. It is a gem at the heart of Ubud, with its own rice fields and river. It’s a sanctuary if anything.
I invited my camera man, and friend Josh to film at the reserve, but we got there at night, and I couldn’t see anything. As soon as I got to my suite, I opened the window and saw thousands of fireflies flying around, I shut my lights off to appreciate them more, and fell asleep watching them play.
I woke up next morning, and thought I had died and went to heaven. Countless of butterflies entered my room because I left it open all night. The energy in Bali, if you haven’t been yet, it rather trusting. Butterflies for instance aren’t very trusting creatures, they don’t play around you, ever. Bali does this to everything, Ubud in particular.
I got my robe on and ran outside to explore. I had to remind myself to act as if I’m not too excited. I was a kid in a new universe.
And in this universe, this was my backyard:
I meditated, swam, and did all those things that can fix you from within – all week! I was ready for the next.
“Back in Paris”
From one Ritz to another, The Ritz Paris may not be a reserve, indeed, but it sure is an embodiment of decadence in France. It has been since the 60’s.
I was invited by a friend to experience the newly, multi-million dollar unveiled renovation of one of the oldest land mark hotels in the world. I have been long ago before, and even as a child, I was always pleased by it. It has such a timeless elegance; the smell of cinnamon, the kind of Royal blue that’s very present on the interiors. The renovation didn’t change much, but enhanced the past, the memories of the who’s who, their secrets written on the walls, and the lavishness of Parisian vacations all over the ceiling.
My getaway series isn’t over, but only beginning.
What we have are endless tomorrows.
Only the best,