Tea with a Stunning View: Ritz Carlton Hotel in Hong Kong

In August 2014, Tawn and I journeyed to Hong Kong for a long weekend, celebrating the fifth anniversary of our marriage. (Yes, I realize that it has taken more than two months to actually post the details of this trip.) While there, we decided to splurge on an afternoon tea at The Lounge and Bar at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

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Perched on the 102nd floor of the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon, The Lounge and Bar offers one of the more stunning views for afternoon tea and at HK$598 (about US$78) for two people, it is not unreasonably priced.

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Having indicated on my reservation the reason we were coming for tea, the hotel thoughtfully decorated our tray with a white chocolate “letter” wishing us a happy anniversary.

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The amount of food is generous – plus two full pots of tea. The savory sandwiches were a truffle egg mayonnaise on brown bread, shellfish and dill cream on white bread, and smoked salmon with lemon curd on rye bread. There were also duck foie gras pate mini puff pastries with freeze-dried passion fruit.

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The sweets included blueberry cheesecake, mango choux, and peach vanilla verrine (not pictured here).

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There was also hazelnut lemon cake and orange ginger canneles. I love canneles!

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And of course you cannot have tea without scones. Two types were served with belberry jam and clotted cream.

The teas come from Marriages Frères, the Parisian tea company that offers so many high-quality flavors to choose from. And the china is beautiful. It was a very relaxing two hours with attentive service, amazing views, and too much tasty food. For the price, it was actually quite reasonable.

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Happy anniversary honey! We should make this an annual tradition to celebrate.

Seventh Anniversary in Bangkok

Would you believe that it has been seven years since I moved to Bangkok? Sure enough, Halloween marks the anniversary of my one-way THAI Airways flight from New York to Bangkok (a nonstop long since discontinued), and 2005 was the departure date. Now I look at New York, cleaning up from severe flooding, from an ironically dry Bangkok.

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It is hard to believe that so much time has passed but at the same time (and I know it is a cliche) it seems like the time has flown by. I was having lunch yesterday with another expat, a Chinese one, who commented that most foreigners living here don’t last that long. Then he told me about another guy, an American, who has been here for something like fifty years. Maybe he was trying to tell me that seven years really isn’t so long! 

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In either case, Halloween marks a milestone and Tawn and I are at a point in our relationship where a decisive majority of our time together has been spent living in Bangkok. I’m sure this has had some effect on it, although I would have to think a lot harder to identify what that effect is. Topic for a future blog post.

In other news, we are scheduled to fly to Shanghai for five nights starting Saturday. The Chinese embassy has approved Tawn’s visa but, strangely, has rejected mine citing lack of proof of financial means to travel. Say what? I suspect they are just yanking my chain because I’m an American. Have sent the travel agency back with a raft of documentation proving that I will not under up on the Communist Party dole while traveling there.

 

A Year After the Protests

A year ago today, mobs set fire to various parts of Bangkok in the wake of the breakup by the military of a 40-day long anti-government protest.  Those events, along with a related confrontation in April 2010, resulted in the death of 92 people (13 of those deaths have been attributed to “action by government forces” and if I recall correctly, four journalists were killed including two foreigners.)

The fires, set in at least a dozen locations around the city, resulted in an estimated 24 billion baht in damage (about US$ 950 million) and destroyed several structures including shopping centers, a department store, and one of the city’s oldest cinemas. 

As of today, there are more than 130 people identified as participants in the protests who remain jailed, charged but not tried for their crimes.  A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was unable to draw conclusions on many of the points it was asked to examine, including what role the military had in the deaths of protesters.  The commission complained of the military not being forthcoming in providing requested evidence.

About a week ago, the Prime Minister dissolved Parliament and elections will be held 45 days from today.  The only thing that seems certain is that, regardless of the outcome of this election, there will be further unrest from one side or another of the political spectrum.  Whether the unrest is expressed in the same way is unclear.  Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail.

In my coverage of the protests last spring, I received comments from various people passing by my blog, accusing me of being blatantly pro-government or blatantly pro-protesters.  Of course, I have no horse in the proverbial race.  I’m a foreigner living here over the long run, a person who loves Thailand and the Thai people and who wants them to be able to continue to develop as a country and not end up getting caught in the middle income trap.

I leave you with some before and after pictures borrowed from this Bangkok Post story.

The Central World shopping center at the Ratchaprasong intersection, where the protests had been centered.

The burnt-out remains of the Siam Theatre, one of the oldest single-screen cinemas in Bangkok.  Today, the property sits empty, awaiting a redevelopment plan by its land-owners, Chulalongkorn University.

Along Rama IV Road, barricades of tires were set aflame and buildings were looted and burned.

Also along Rama IV Road near the Lumpini Boxing Stadium.

Related reading from my blog:

Winner of the United Retro Jet Contest

This year marks the 85th anniversary of United Airlines.  In a post last November, I mentioned that they were holding a contest for employees to vote for their favorite previous livery.  The winning livery would then be painted onto a “retro jet” to commemorate the anniversary.  Five previous color schemes were presented, voted on, and I recently saw that the Airbus A320 painted in the winning colors recently took to the sky:

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Sigh…

I’m quite excited because of the five liveries, this was my favorite.  It is the one I associate with my early childhood in the 1970s.  I remember drawing airplanes when I must have been in my early elementary years and this was the color scheme I could recreate from memory.

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The other four liveries that represent the different eras of United Airlines.

While I’ve had my rough patches with United over the years, it is the company that my father, my husband, and I (not to mention countless friends) all worked for at various points in our lives.  Happy 85th anniversary to the Friendly Skies.  May the merger with Continental make the skies friendly once again!

 

Would you believe five years alreday?

After more than a year of planning, my move to Bangkok occurred the morning of Sunday, October 30, 2005.  I departed from New York, spending my final two nights in America there.  As with most of my trips, visiting friends and eating food were the main pastimes.  Saturday evening was a 5-course tasting menu at Blue Hill just off Washington Square.  The fantastic menu and wine pairings were a perfect goodbye gift from the land of my birth.

Thankfully, Daylight Saving Time ended at 2:00 Sunday morning, giving me an extra hour’s sleep before having to head out to the airport.  The friend with whom I was staying flagged a taxi while I pulled off a minor logistics miracle and got my three large/heavy suitcases, one heavy trolley bag, and fully-stuffed backpack down three flights of stairs and through the front entry doors.

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A few hours later, I was situated in seat 44D aboard a THAI Airways A340-500 as we rolled down the runway for a more than seventeen hour flight to the capital of Thailand.  Since the flight crossed the International Date Line, it arrived on October 31 at 4:20 pm.  Exactly five years and fifteen minutes ago.  My, how time flies when you’re having fun!

If you’re curious to read all the details of that flight, which has since been discontinued, check out my trip report here on airliners.net. An interesting bit of trivia, that picture above is of the actual flight I was on that day.  Through sheer coincidence, a member of airliners.net was taking pictures at JFK airport that morning and shot my flight.  After reading my trip report, he emailed the pictures to me.

 

Happy First Anniversary

Coming hot on the heels of Federal District Court judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that California’s Proposition 8 unfairly discriminates against gay men and women in their right to marry the partner of their choosing, the timing of my first anniversary of marriage to Tawn seems quite appropriate.  Yes, it was a year ago today that a group of family and friends gathered in a courtroom in Iowa and Tawn and I exchanged vows and started our life together as spouses. 

Not wanting to get into a tangent about legal issues, as I’ve written on the topic of same-sex marriage rights many times before, I’ll simply say that I agree with the gist of the 136-page ruling: My having the right to marry Tawn does nothing to diminish the value of any different-sex marriages, but denying me the right does me grievous harm while doing nothing to benefit the interests of the state.

Having just celebrated my grandparents’ 67th anniversary, I am hopeful that medical technology will progress to the point that Tawn and I, too, have the opportunity to reach such a milestone.  Realistically, of course, I’ll be happy if we get thirty or forty years.  Most importantly, though, I will focus on just enjoying each day we have together.

Happy anniversary, Tawn!

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The full entry about that wedding is here, for those who didn’t see it and are interested.