Archive for July, 2008

Mexico: The Tides Zihuatanejo Yoga Retreat

We just like saying: ‘Zihuatanejo,’ don’t you? Makes us feel authentic. So here’s a little yoga gem we uncovered from the boys and girls at Kor Hotel Group. In October, The Tides Zihuatanejo hosts its first Yoga Retreat where guests can get their very own custom-created wellness weekend. Fostering spiritual re-awakening and social companionship, celebrity instructor Tom Morley (of Exercise TV) will lead inspired asanas and sun salutations in one of the Mexico’s most seductive resorts.

The first in a series of 5-Day Yoga Retreats at The Tides Zihuatanejo, takes place: October 3 – 7, 2008.

“Yoga brings people together and I’m thrilled to be a part of Kor’s first yoga retreat at The Tides,” says Tom Morley, the highly-respected instructor whose sessions draw the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Helen Hunt. For over 10 years, Morley has redefined the traditional approach to yoga by adapting the practice to individual preferences, drawing from styles like vinyasa and yin, breathing, meditation, partner yoga and dance to bring a vibrant sense of joy, humor and ease to his sessions.

Hugging the white sands of Zihuatanejo Bay’s Playa la Ropa, The Tides Zihuatanejo is filled with tropical gardens, waterfalls and an expansive beachfront, the perfect serene locale for deepening personal practice and self-searching. Two-story, terracotta-tiled casitas and thatched palapa cabanas merge with the gardens and waterfalls that enfold them. Pst… suites include their own outdoor infinity pools. Two gourmet dining venues and three bars make The Tides’ elegance complete. In addition to an immersion in yoga, you can also opt for culinary classes with Executive Chef Paco Isordia, sailing, surfing, Scuba diving, ATV tours, jungle canopy rides, or cultural tours.


The Tides’ Yoga Retreat includes:

Four nights of accommodations include:

Two beachside yoga classes, am/pm daily (Private sessions available upon request)
Healthy gourmet meal plan (yoga breakfast bar and group choice of lunch or dinner)
One daily 60-minute restorative massage of choice at The Tides Spa
Closing night “Sense of the Night: Yoga Meets Dance” beach celebration, with DJ-spins including trance/dance, live percussionists, food and libations
Transfers to and from Zihuatanejo airport
lululemon gift bag

Superior Room, The Tides Zihuatanejo

Rates range from:
Superior Room – $2,100 single occupancy/$3,100 – double occupancy

Beach Suite – $3,500 single occupancy/$4,4000- double occupancy.
Rates exclude tax and service; package subject to availability.

So go get your OM on.
And grab a margarita for me while you’re at it.

Reservations:
(866) 905-9560
http://www.thetidesresorts.com

Cambodia: From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

Angkor Wat Temple, Cambodia

Part II of Jaunt Contributor, Victoria Yanakos’, trip to South East Asia has landed her at the top of one of the world’s most popular temple destinations… Angkor Wat. Now, if she could only figure out how to get down.

Fear of Heights
By Victoria Yanakos

Turns out I’m afraid of heights. Well, not so much “heights” as the falling very fast from them. I realized this about half way up the 70 or so “steps” to the top of one of the Angkor Wat temples.

It seemed like a good tactic for getting away from mobs of Japanese tour groups and their incessant picture taking (of which my climb – in a skirt- is now part of at least a few albums). Now at the top, apparently unmoved by my mid-way epiphany, I have a whole new perspective of the situation. I’m actually much higher than I realized, and the “steps” are only about 6″ deep and covered in sand. This wasn’t a problem going up, but add gravity and flip flops and the descent feels much less safe. So here I sit, writing a journal, reflecting on Cambodia, and slowing devising a plan to get down…

Even in comparison to other parts of SE Asia, Cambodia has an irrationality that is wholly its own. Tuk-Tuk (rickshaw) from the bus station to hostel, $3. Tuk-Tuk for the whole day? $5. Thousands of people trying to sell me pineapple, no one able to sell me bug spray. Whiskey Sour is a vodka drink. Happy Pizza is a drug (pot). “Local specialty” on the menu: tarantula. No safety regulations for anything (hence why I am now stuck at the top of one of the temples).

For a country that has endured such devastation, oppression, torture, and is in a perpetual quest for genuine rebirth, it is no wonder that things in Cambodia may feel a little off. But the people are warm and laid back and the country beautiful, even amid the lingering scars of war.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

PHNOM PENH PENSIONS/HOSTELS

OKAY Guesthouse
#3BE, R# 258, S/K Chaktomuk, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
okay.2001@hotmail.com
Tel: 855-12 300 804
Clean, very helpful staff, predictable hot water (for Cambodia budget lodging this is saying a lot!)
$5-$15

Sunday Guesthouse
Tel: 211623
97PH 141
Very helpful, friendly English speaking staff, good deal for the price
$5-$17

PHNOM PENH RESTAURANTS, SHOPS, ETC.

Camory Cookie Boutique
#167 Sisowath Quay
sales@camoryfoods.com
http://www.camoryfoods.com
Amazing cookies! Proceeds go to Cambodian orphanages

Amara Spa
Corner of Sisowath Quay and Street 110
spa@hotelcara.com
Great drinks and cafe outside, posh spa inside

Chow
At the Quay along Sisowath
http://www.chowcambodia.com
Chic bar, modern vibe, smokers welcome

Kmer Saravan
No. 16Eo, St Sotheraros (3)
vuthy_vann@yahoo.com
Best Kmer food I’ve had! Try the curry dishes and banana flower salad – wonderful!

Happy Herb Pizza
#345 St Preah Sisowath
Tel: 023 362 349
It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Make sure to specify if you want your pizza Not Happy, Happy, or Very Happy.

SIEM REAP HOTELS (the town serving Angkor Wat Temples)
FCC Hotel, Siem Reap
If you’re looking to splurge:

The FCC properties in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are design-driven and luxurious.
http://www.fcccambodia.com

The Hotel De La Paix
The perfect place to indulge in a weekend of decadence or even just a mixed drink at the sexy bar downstairs.
http://www.hoteldelapaixangkor.com/index.php
$330 – $750/night

For budget-conscious digs:

Shadow of Angkor Guesthouse
Tel: 964774
353 Pokambor Ave
shadowofangkor@hotmail.com
This is where I stayed. A great location overlooking the river

Or check out these websites for more guesthouse/backpacking suggestions:

http://www.canbypublications.com
http://www.travelfish.org

THINGS TO DO – SIEM REAP

Le Tigre De Papier Cooking School
letigredepapier@hotmail.com
Bar St
Courses $12
A great way to get in touch with the culture, courses include a trip to the market

Kmer Kitchen Restaurant
The Alley
Tel 964154
Visited by Mick Jagger and with one of the best pumpkin coconut soups on the globe, this place should definitely be part of your visit to Siem Reap

Of course, while in Siem Reap, the main attraction is the Temple of Angkor Wat. They sell 1-day, 3-day and 1 week passes. Don’t bother with a tour, hire a tuk-tuk for about $10-$15 a day, buy a book, and go at your own pace.

Next stop… well, when I was originally writing this, it was “land” but now? Looks like it’s Hong Kong, baby.

Vancouver Island, Canada: Free Spirit Spheres!

We don’t know why, but we’re always strangely drawn to capsules, pods, and spheres. And, just to prove we’re not alone…

Welcome to the world of Free Spirit Spheres!

Set amid the tall trees of Vancouver Island’s rainforest, it’s, you guessed it, a tree house for adults. Jaunt says, ‘Finalmente.’ Built with an un-tamed vision of nature and engineering, you’ll feel like an Ewok swinging from the canopy and crawling from your tree sphere at dusk.

Handcrafted spheres are suspended like pendants from a web of rope and, as their website says, “They occupy a truly unique place in the world while providing a habitat for the un-tamed spirit that exists in all of us.”

So just how un-tamed are you? If you really want to make a statement, you can purchase a pod or components to build your own. Recommended uses include: Healing, meditation, photography, leisure and game watching.

Spheres, Eve and Eryn, are available for overnight rental and promise a truly unique, jungle experience. Approximately 30km north of Parksville on Vancouver Island along the Inland Island Hwy (#19), near Qualicum Bay. The acreage is on private property close to Horne Lake Caves, Georgia Strait and Mount Washington.

Rates: $125-$175/night

Free Spirit Spheres
Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada
Tel (250) 757-9445
Cell (250) 951-9420
Email: tom@freespiritspheres.com

http://www.freespiritspheres.com

Vietnam: A Note From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Today, one of our favorite Jaunt Contributors, Victoria Yanakos, says, ‘Good Morning, Vietnam.’

“Where are you from?” in Vietnamese, ‘tá» cái³tc bạn Ä’ translates to mean: “from what water do you come.” Inspired by this beautiful sentiment I spent the past few days sailing on Ha Long Bay and enjoying a respite from the city.

Swimming in the bath-like water, drinking with the locals, bruising most of my lower body jumping off the cliffs (note: no correlation to the Mekong whiskey, I just couldn’t figure out how to fall that far and get my feet to go in first), and sleeping out on the water… perfection.

Another Vietnamese sentiment I picked up this week is “same same.” For instance, I ordered yogurt for breakfast, she brought me pork. The explanation : “Oh no, no yogurt, I make you pork. Same same.” How do you even argue with this? Public buses are another culprit.

Me: You go to Ngo Hyen st?

Bus Driver: Yeah, yeah, Ngo Hyen Street

20 minutes later, many km’s away from Ngo Hyen Street, I’m in front of a handicraft shop that appears to be owned by the bus driver’s brother.

Bus Driver: No Ngo Hyen St. Here, same same.

One final thought on Hanoi before I leave this wonderful city: crossing the street. Or rather crossing the death gauntlet of hundreds of motorbikes who yield to no one. Having refined my skill for this in India, and taking a cue from the locals, the basic protocol is to confidently step out into traffic with a deep-rooted belief that the bikers will stop. A. they don’t and B. this only works if the streets aren’t flooded – which they were last night. Suffice it to say, I survived a rather comical collision soaking wet but otherwise only minorly scathed.
Hanoi, Vietnam

As a solo traveler in this country, everything has this spectacular way of feeling like a free for all. It’s rather wonderful never knowing exactly what you’re in for. I subscribe to a travel philosophy that organized tours (at least for me) are never the most genuine way to experience a culture or a country, however, never has this been a more challenging theory to live than in the Mekong Delta.

As it turns out the jungles and canals are significantly more expansive, and difficult to navigate, than you might expect.

Arriving by bus to My Tho, the most trafficked of the four islands that make up the Delta, I was feeling good I could do this on my own and not have to spend the day with a bunch of westerners with an “English” tour guide (read: if you stop paying attention to him for even a moment, the English starts to sound suspiciously like Vietnamese). Many of the boats at the harbor are already commissioned by tour companies, and, as such, inevitably chaotic, making stow-away status relatively easy.

The idea was to take the boat to Ben Tre- another of the islands, then bail for more genuine travel. I’m not sure where we landed, but after wondering around dense jungle for the better part of the afternoon, I thought that perhaps a row down the canals might give me some orientation. I was able to convince (read: pay) one of the local workers by the water to lend me his boat – but only briefly I assured him. After getting myself thoroughly lost and soaking wet from the short but intense monsoon rain, I was relieved to see the owner of the boat calling to me from the shore. Without discussion, he summoned his son (I assume) to come row the boat on my behalf. Humbling? Yes. Necessary? Immensely.
Mekong Delta, Vietnam

He took me all the way back to My Tho where I boarded a public bus back to Saigon. Perhaps, in retrospect, a tour would have been a more efficient way to explore the Mekong Delta, but when you’re traveling – and lost in foreign waters – the experience is all that matters, right?

Even being an eternal optimist you can only be propositioned so many times (every two feet in Vietnam – and this is not an exaggeration) before suspicion becomes your instinct of choice. The form of solicitation though has an entertainment value that far exceeds any hassle, and as such joins my list of all things wonderful in SE Asia. Aside from the ubiquitous moto taxis (of which there are 100’s on each block) that never miss a single foreigner to offer a ride, (“where you going ma’am. I give you good price.”) some of the other more discrete “sales people” are far more creative with their pitches. “T shirt, T shirt, cocaine?” is my favorite to date.

Another successful tactic is the “start conversation under false pretenses, offer obscure service, then ask for money” approach. Sitting in the park yesterday apparently this landed me (and every other girl, and a few guys, in my hostel) a pedicure. Abate the somewhat painful service; it’s nice to be able to help. Slightly derailed from Hanoi (don’t fall asleep if you have to make a bus transfer), I enjoyed the past several days soaking up the insanity of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and exploring the canals and jungles of the nearby Mekong Delta. Moving on to Mu Ne, and writing from the sand outside my bungalow with waters from the South China Sea cooling my feet, Vietnam continues to amaze me.

HANOI HOTELS

Especen Hotel
28 Tho Xuong & 41 Ngo Huyen St, Hoan Kiem district Hanoi
Tel: 0.4.8244401
http://www.especen.vn

Good clean rooms, en suite bathroom, good location, $12- $20/night

City Gate Hotel
10 P Thanh Ha
8280817
http://www.citygatehotel.com
Warm friendly owners, very clean rooms
$10- $20/night

Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake

If you’re looking for luxury, the Intercontinental just opened their new property built entirely over the serene waters of historic West Lake. InterContinental Hanoi Westlake is adjacent to the famous 800-year-old Golden Lotus Pagoda and the hotel features 359 guestrooms showcasing contemporary Vietnamese design at its best.
$200/night

http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/overview/hanhb

HANOI RESTAURANTS

Cha Ca La Vong
14 Cha Ca Street OR
107 Nguyen Trong To St
8.239 875
You will be the ONLY westerner here. Truly local, amazing “grilled fish” (which is the key note dish of northern Vietnam)

If you need a break from Vietnamese food…

FIVE bistro is predictable, comfortable and actually has good wine!

Five
5 Hang Be, Hanoi
049263761
info@so-nam.com

HO CHI MINH CITY HOTELS

Hotel127
83687612
madamcu@hcm.vnn.vn
127 D Cong Quynh
$12 – $25/night
Clean, friendly, lots of less typical amenities for budget accommodations, such as satellite TV and in room fridges

Guest House California
837 885
guesthousecalifornia-saigon@yahoo.com
Laid back, clean, rent moto bikes and bicycles on site

HO CHI MINH CITY RESTAURANTS

Quan an ngon
138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia
Quan Mot TP HO Chi Minh
825 7179
10 kitchens, every Viet food imaginable, very local and very good! Try the papaya salad and spring rolls. I hope you like pork, it’s in almost everything.

Massage – HCMC
Try the spa at Hotel Liberty 4
265 Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1 HCMC
8 364 556

For about $8 USD, you can get 60 min full body massage, 30 min foot massage, and unlimited access to jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room… and only minimal Karaoke. 🙂

Next stop? Cambodia!

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