Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

A Honeymoon to Remember: Hong Kong, Thailand, and Japan in Style

A Honeymoon to Remember: Hong Kong, Thailand, and Japan in Style

Reply

Old Dec 20, 17, 7:40 am
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: New York
Posts: 107
Originally Posted by SQTraveller View Post
First congratulations on your nuptials and this exciting honeymoon.

While you point out to your fellow American travellers, I would say many foreign travellers are just as guilty. My own experience is that Americans (stereotype alert) tend to be a lot louder so attract more attention than others. However, I would say that I would have been just as guilty, but for the kind staff at my hotel who told me before I headed out about the requirements of going into temples.



And of course the Uber fiasco in Bangkok. I have never experienced it but was very fortunately warned off using it. In your situation the hotel is off the beaten path of the sky train so isn't so easy to navigate to. In the old days I used to always take a taxi/car to the hotel. Now, (if I am travelling alone) I only ever take the airport rail line, which takes you into the heart of Bangkok and then take a taxi (or motorcycle taxi) from there.

Agreed re: tourist, but because my example was specifically in relation to an American tourist, I felt more comfortable criticizing my own than generalizing about other nationalities. But yes, it is a universal point. I was less bothered by the fact that she was ignorant as to the custom, and more that she was so indignant about it.

With respect to the Uber fiasco (as it will hence be known), putting aside the out of the way location of the hotel, the rain and heels would have made public transportation difficult regardless. Gaggan's location also makes it difficult as it's slightly east of the city center and Ratchadamri Road, which makes getting there during dinner time a struggle. My advice for those booking a reservation to is get the 9pm seating instead of the 6 (there are only two). That should alleviate some of the congestion.
Anlun is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 20, 17, 7:49 am
  #17  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Programs: BA GOLD, HH Diamond
Posts: 2,040
Nice report, that Bangkok hotel looks very cool and full of character.
stevie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 20, 17, 8:30 pm
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: New York
Posts: 107
Previously on A Honeymoon to Remember, this daring duo braved the elements, Bangkok traffic, and risked their very lives to savor the wondrous culinary creations at Gaggan. So was it worth it, you may ask? The answer is…. sort of. We arrived at the restaurant breathless, but within the time limit given. I only had a moment to sneak a quick pic of the restaurant’s façade before rushing in, but it really stands out from its surroundings. Gaggan is located in a narrow alleyway across from a hotel, but you could not tell from the picture. The façade evokes an old world colonial style, but with a modern edge. The old world white with the glass and metal creates a powerful first impression, and makes you look forward to what awaits. It actually reminded me of our hotel, The Siam.




Inside, we were seated in a nice alcove, and we were introduced to Vlad, who I think was the sommelier. Vlad was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, making conversation about how a Russian ended up working in Bangkok, how he loved New York, and, of course the wine. We wanted a wine that was both light but would assert itself with each of the many different courses. We let me him know that we are big fans of Alsace whites. He recommended a great option, which we will probably be buying the near future.

I would characterize Gaggan’s menu as the ....... love child of Willy Wonka and Eric Ripert. The dishes are inventive and unique, and when they work, they really work. However, Gaggan also toes the line between quirky and kitschy. I believe that if you are going to make the eater participate in some unique way with your course, it should add something to the meal, and not simply be something that is done simply for the sake of having it done. This is my first critique of Gaggan. Some of the dishes were presented as an ‘event’ and involved eating it in a cheesy way that detracted from the actual course itself. My second critique is precisely what we feared. Gaggan’s menu is no longer an homage to his Indian roots. It can now be best characterized as Indian-Japanese fusion. Perhaps others won’t be bothered by this change, and I appreciate that he is incorporating new techniques taken from Japanese cuisine into his cooking, but that really isn’t what we were looking for here.

Gaggan’s menu consists of 25 small distinctive courses, but the menu itself is not a menu in the traditional sense. Instead, you are given a translucent sheet filled with 25 emojis, each of which represent the course. Gaggan invites the diner to try and guess what each course is before revealing it to you. See what I mean about toe the line? Yet, in this respect we enjoyed the guessing and it made the overall experience fun, and the meal interactive.





The first course had a watermelon emoji, but the plate consisted of what at first glance, appears to be an oyster with a pearl. In fact, the dish was a bright and refreshing watermelon flavored gelatin. It was a great starter and made for a powerful first impression.




Course two had an explosion emoji, and we characterized it as yogurt explosion. On first impression, the dish looks like a soft-boiled egg, and the texture was similar, but it was made of yogurt. The dish tasted like a mix between egg yolk and a lassi. It was delicious.




Course three is where the kitsch goes too far. The emoji consists of a tongue, and it was quite literal because we were presented with a plate of black truffle puree designed in the shape of a tongue, and the words “Lick it up” made from a pea puree. The presentation of the dish was accompanied by a small speaker with Kiss’s Lick It Up playing. Needless to say, you are meant to eat this dish by licking up the plate. The course itself was delicious, and we did not get any of the normal overt richness that normally accompanies black truffle dishes. The pea puree was herbaceous and complimented the earthiness of the truffle well. But the licking ruined it for me. It was too cute, and like I said, it added nothing to the course.

Course four had a shrimp emoji and was a play on the traditional tom yum goong. This dish was killer, and the presentation was very cool. It was a one bite, dehydrated shrimp head that ate like a potato chip, wrapped by what I can best describe as a coconut fruit roll up. There were strong notes of lemongrass and the coconut was very forward, complimenting the shrimp flavor well. For a one biter, all the flavors of tom yum goong were prevalent.



Course five had a flower emoji and was nicknamed “flower power.” The reveal stated “goat brain” but we tasted curry with hints of avocado. The texture was crunchy and similar to a rice cake.




Course six and seven were served together and had an eggplant and chili emoji. The eggplant course was an eggplant tart, made with eggplant and garnished with powdered burnt eggplant. The eggplant was prevalent, but there was a strong sweetness that I think fought with the seventh course, the chili. The chili course was a white chocolate bonbon with a chili pepper liquid inside. It was more sweet than spicy, and had this been served on its own at the end of the meal, it would have been great. But there was simply too much sweetness going on here.



Course eight had a rice emoji, and consisted of a rice sponge cake with an Indian curry foam. This was very innovative and delicious, tasting almost identical to a yellow curry with rice.



Course nine had a banana emoji and consisted of a torched banana cake with a foie gras mousse. The sweetness of the banana played well with foie gras,



Course ten had a fish emoji and was a play on granola bars. The dish consisted of granola and sea bass, and tasted of milk and fish, but it was surprisingly well balanced and enjoyable.



Course eleven had a martini glass emoji and was a play on a gin and tonic. It consisted of horseradish ice cream with a gin and tonic foam and a dill cone with uni. Here, the chef could have used a little restraint as I felt there was a too much going on. The flavors paired well, but it the uni slightly overpowered the other more subtle notes.




Course twelve had a sushi emoji and consisted of medium fatty tuna with a dashi meringue and wasabi. This is evidence of my point about the Japanese fusion. This was a tasty dish, but I just don’t think it went well with the theme of the courses. It just sticks out in an obvious way, giving the impression that the chef just wanted to throw in some Japanese.




Course thirteen had carrot emoji and consisted of a carrot “waffle” with a foie gras cream filling. The waffle was sweet and crispy and paired well with the savoriness of the foie gras.



Course fourteen had a green tea emoji and was the chef’s take on a traditional Japanese matcha green tea serving. This was interesting in that the waiter came out and performed a similar ceremony to what is typically done in Japanese matcha green tea ceremonies, but the “matcha” consisted of green tomato, apple, and celery. Floral and herbaceous, this dish worked as a great palate cleanser, and contrasted well with the overall heaviness of the other course.



Course fifteen had a pork emoji and consisted of a deep fried curry pork tempura with Japanese mustard.

Course sixteen had a stew pot emoji and was the chef’s take on a curry. It consisted of a coconut ice cream curry, with a hot red pepper curry, served atop a raw scallop.




Course seventeen was a hot dog emoji and was a play on mango chutney. The dish was plated like a hot dog frank inside a potted plant. It consisted of a heavily spiced lamb, cooked in a mango leaf. I am not sure why it was served in a potted plant, but it was interesting. It tasted exactly like a mango chutney.




Course eighteen had a chicken emoji and consisted of fried chicken skin flavored like thai green curry.



Course nineteen had a fire emoji and was Gaggan’s mother’s recipe. The dish was sea bass cooked in a banana leaf with cilantro and wasabi. The wasabi was perfectly balanced and not overpowering, but there was a slight rolling heat towards the end. With the other bold flavors throughout the meal, this dish contrasted well in that it was lighter and more subtle in flavor.





Course twenty had a charcoal emoji and was a crispy lotus stem. The taste was reminiscent of lentils or a good samosa, but slightly more floral.




Course twenty-one had a taco emoji and consisted of a lobster curry with young coconut and coriander.




Course twenty-two had a rose emoji. My notes are a little off here because the plating was impressive. The server brought out two hollow books, and opened them two reveal two roses made of some sort of licorice on some sort of cookie. It was tasty and visually stunning.







Course twenty-three had a champagne emoji and consisted of a Chinese mooncake filled with a grape and Riesling syrup. The mooncake was made of coconut. The dish was served cold, and had a chewy texture. My wife did not care for the filling and noted that it tasted like artificial grape cough syrup. I didn’t mind it as much, but it was not one of our favorites.



Course twenty-four had a lemon emoji and consisted of a coconut ricotta with yuzu white chocolate served on a stick, similar to a Mexican paleta or an ice cream bar. Ricotta and chocolate were prevalent on the front, with the yuzu coming up towards the back.




Course twenty-five had an Indian flag emoji and was a “taste of India”. It consisted of a rice cracker with spiced mango.



Somewhere around the fifteenth course, we finished our wine and decided to get some cocktails. My wife ordered a “smokin’” old fashioned, and I ordered the coconut lassi (gin based I believe). The presentation was impressive. My wife’s drink came covered with a glass dome to seal in the smoke. My drink was served in a coconut, sitting on a wooden box, filled with dry ice. Both drinks were delicious.







Service throughout the meal was spot on, with servers constantly filling our glasses, making small talk, and overall being very attentive. At the end of the meal, the servers brought over a second menu for us to keep. This one had a one or two word summary accompanying the emojis, to help remind the diner what they ate.



In sum, I think what I found most impressive was the amount of flavor Gaggan was able to pack into such small bites. We left incredibly full, and for the price, you can’t beat the value. Overall, Gaggan is an excellent restaurant, and definitely the highlight of our time in Bangkok. I can’t wait to see how he does when he moves to Tokyo.

Following our dinner, we retired for the night, our stomachs full, and hearts brimming with anticipation as we headed the next day to Amanpuri. Paradise awaited us.

Last edited by Anlun; Dec 21, 17 at 5:59 am
Anlun is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 21, 17, 7:32 am
  #19  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,047
LOL we also did not like Bangkok. Hot, dirty, smelly, ugly. We liked our hotel in Phuket though. We also stayed at the Hong Kong Ritz Carlton. Loved it. But also liked the Intercontinental.
Bretteee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 21, 17, 11:30 am
  #20  
Four Seasons Contributor BadgeAman Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Baltimore MD
Posts: 3,226
Great great TR! And congrats on your nuptials!
FlyingDoctorwu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 21, 17, 6:11 pm
  #21  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Toronto
Programs: SPG Gold, HH Silver
Posts: 847
Continuing to really enjoy the trip report!

In your earlier post about the Siam, you said, the location "typically wasn’t a problem, and the benefits of staying at the Siam more than make up for its location". Doesn't sound like it from your transportation problems!! LOL. 3 Hours to get to the restaurant?! C'mon I stayed there and despite the nice facilities and design, the location made it impossible. More recently I stayed at the MO, and it made all the difference for getting around, and that is why I would not stay at the Siam unless I wasn't planning on leaving the hotel. And for that kind of stay, it could be terrific.

Will just add one other observation. Strangely, my first two times in Bangkok, I was repulsed by it. The traffic, heat, lack of beauty within the city, etc. But then, I gave it another shot one day, and well, it had grown on me! Once you get the tailoring, restaurants, and touring out of the way, and find a way to actually enjoy yourself without pressure, it can be very nice, with fabulous hotels, great food, and exciting nightlife and shopping.

The impression that I got from your meal at Gaggan, was that it was well worth doing (aside from the bedlam of getting there lol), since it is worthy of a bucket list experience given the chef's renown and from TV etc. But as I have experienced with other restaurants that had a reputation for over-the-top creative 'experiential' dining, the food itself seemed to be not that delicious from your descriptions. Aronia de Takazawa in Tokyo comes to mind, with the chef's wife explaining how the dish resembles a forest and that is why the three tiny morsels of beef are perched amidst leaves and twigs on a piece of bark. As does The Fat Duck, where they served a sea shell with an iphone in it to experience "the flavours of the sea". Even Nahm in Bangkok which is highly acclaimed and thankfully doesn't present the experiential pretence and other cutsey nonsense, was entirely lacklustre in my experience, causing me to yearn for a good plate of noodles pan fried on the street corner in Bangkok which beat every other meal I had there, including the 'most famous and best pad thai in the city', at Thip Samai, which was very disappointing.

Anyhow, this is all just for the sake of discussion, because I LOVE your trip report, your travel style, your hotel choices, and food choices. Keep on rocking out the instalments!!

Last edited by blueline7; Dec 21, 17 at 6:18 pm
blueline7 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 21, 17, 8:31 pm
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: New York
Posts: 107
Originally Posted by blueline7 View Post
Continuing to really enjoy the trip report!
In your earlier post about the Siam, you said, the location "typically wasn’t a problem, and the benefits of staying at the Siam more than make up for its location". Doesn't sound like it from your transportation problems!! LOL. 3 Hours to get to the restaurant?! C'mon I stayed there and despite the nice facilities and design, the location made it impossible. More recently I stayed at the MO, and it made all the difference for getting around, and that is why I would not stay at the Siam unless I wasn't planning on leaving the hotel. And for that kind of stay, it could be terrific.
Thanks for the positive feedback! With respect to your point re: The Siam location. I think the reason we didn't mind the location was because the traffic wasn't bad in the area adjacent to The Siam, In fact for the first 2 or so miles from the hotel, the traffic moved fairly quickly. It's actually once you get to the city center that it all goes to hell. I therefore don't fault the Siam's location because map wise, assuming you are driving, traffic would be equally as bad from the MO. I grant you, the MO is close to the skytrain, but that wouldn't have really helped us for the most part. In fact, if you look at my trip report preview you will see that we come back to Bangkok for one night and stayed at the Peninsula (I'm looking forward to writing that section for catharsis; We hated the Peninsula and my TA review of it was one of the most satisfying things I've done since we returned!). The Peninsula was roughly the same location wise as the MO, and we didn't feel it helped us much. Thus, although I have ranted about the traffic, I don't think the Siam's location played into it. I think, knowing what we know now about the traffic, we wouldn't mind Bangkok so much. The food scene is great, it's just the anxiety and stress of nonmoving traffic really killed it. The heat didn't help either.

Originally Posted by blueline7 View Post
The impression that I got from your meal at Gaggan, was that it was well worth doing (aside from the bedlam of getting there lol), since it is worthy of a bucket list experience given the chef's renown and from TV etc. But as I have experienced with other restaurants that had a reputation for over-the-top creative 'experiential' dining, the food itself seemed to be not that delicious from your descriptions. Aronia de Takazawa in Tokyo comes to mind, with the chef's wife explaining how the dish resembles a forest and that is why the three tiny morsels of beef are perched amidst leaves and twigs on a piece of bark. As does The Fat Duck, where they served a sea shell with an iphone in it to experience "the flavours of the sea". Even Nahm in Bangkok which is highly acclaimed and thankfully doesn't present the experiential pretence and other cutsey nonsense, was entirely lacklustre in my experience, causing me to yearn for a good plate of noodles pan fried on the street corner in Bangkok which beat every other meal I had there, including the 'most famous and best pad thai in the city', at Thip Samai, which was very disappointing.
Actually, the point I was trying to convey was that Gaggan is a very worthwhile restaurant, regardless of it's notoriety. My first point regarding the experience was that it detracts from the food, but that is not to say the food alone wasn't excellent. It certainly was. We've been to some restaurants, Aquavit NYC for example, where some dishes were just served in a pretentious manner, though no where near the level of that Fat Duck anecdote (seriously an iphone?). Gaggan's dishes can definitely stand their own, and I wish maybe the chef had more confidence in them. My guess was that because they are small bites, he might think the guests will walk away unsatisfied unless they get a show out of it. But, for us, that was not the case. As I noted, we were very impressed with how much flavor he was able to pack into such small dishes, and how bold and distinct they were. I think maybe I got tired of listing off the 25 courses, and I may have gotten a little lazy in the middle review, but Gaggan is worth it. Just ignore the Lick It Up bit, and look past the potted plant.

We debated going to Nahm but we ran into a Bangkok couple on our trip who totally bashed it, and recommended we go to Nara instead for good Thai food. We weren't disappointed.

Thanks again for the positive feedback, I hope to get my Amanpuri/Phuket review done tomorrow. Spoiler alert, barring a few mishaps and a slight nitpick, that place is damn amazing.
Anlun is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 22, 17, 4:23 am
  #23  
SPG Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Sydney, Australia
Programs: HHD, SPG LTG
Posts: 1,420
Originally Posted by Anlun View Post
  • Bangkok Day 5
  • Restaurant- Gaggan
  • Bangkok Day 14
    • Dinner- Suhring
Congratulations on the marriage! I like your style - the top two restaurants in Bangkok.

We did something similar, a few months back, where my mate and I dined at Gaggan, Suhring, Nahm and Bo.Lan in consecutive nights - that was an experience trying out the best four - which we did it the other way round though but obviously getting reservations is hard enough.

My wife and I dined at Gaggan earlier in the year as well - definitely world class and awesome food esp. being able to pack so much depth of flavour in something so small.
alanslegal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 22, 17, 12:38 pm
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: BHX
Programs: LH Sen; QR Plat; EK Silver; FB Silver
Posts: 353
Very enjoyable trip report. I absolutely love Gaggan. I’ve been there 6 times in the past two years. I think your review is very fair. The only course I did not enjoy was the Lick It Up, and that is because off having to lick the plate and the annoying music playing from the speaker on the table.

I usually stay at the Marriott Suk 57 and, this year, the Marriott Suk 22. From Suk 57 it has taken between 45 and 90 mins to Gaggan. In April this year it took 25 mins from Suk 22 so when I visited in November I allowed 40 mins - it took 100 mins. I arrived at 7 pm but there was no problem in getting a table. Moral is - double the time it ought to take and it still won’t be long enough.
BobBHX is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 23, 17, 10:45 am
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: New York
Posts: 107
We departed early the next day from the Siam for our Thai Airways, TG201 flight to Phuket. Than, our butler, preemptively prepared a breakfast box for us to eat in the car on the away to the airport, because of course he did. Please remember this breakfast box anecdote, it will resurface in a later report. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 7:45 a.m. so we left early to try and get to the Thai Air Silk lounge as we were flying in J. I had pictures of the lounge, but I can’t seem to find them at moment. Suffice to say the lounge is serviceable, but nothing to write home about. Our Thai Airways flight was an international connecting flight, and although we tried to get a first class seat (Thai Airways allows you to sit in first on domestic flights that use a 3 class cabin but only offers 2 classes), they were booked by a group. Alas, my wife would have to settle for J.




We boarded the flight and took the stairs to the second floor business area. Thai Air business is quite impressive, with plenty of legroom and the seats were very comfortable. Service was adequate, but forgettable. There didn’t seem to be any warmth on this early morning flight. Once in the air, breakfast was immediately served, which was nice for such a short flight, and consisted of a stuffed egg omelet.



As we landed in Phuket, our anticipation for Amanpuri steadily climbed, and I began to daydream of what cocktail I would be having on the beach. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the hotel pick up area outside, the Amanpuri driver was nowhere to be seen! We waited for about 20 minutes… but he was a no show. I figured some doppelganger scofflaw must have absconded with our driver because from what I’ve read on this forum about Amanpuri, is that they will basically carry you on a damn palanquin if you ask. I called the hotel, was placed on hold while they scrambled to figure out what the hell was happening, and they then told me that the driver would be there shortly. Another 20 minutes later the driver showed up, and apologized profusely, explaining that for some reason he thought we were arriving from the international arrival area. This didn’t really make any sense to me because at no point did we ever tell Amanpuri we were arriving to Phuket from an international destination, and also, the international arrival area is not far from where we were. It would not have taken them as long as it did if they were coming from the international arrivals. Not a good start Amanpuri . . . I’m going to need a palanquin to make up for this! Alas, we settled for the BMW car, and my wife, simply exhausted from flying business and not first, and waiting a whole 40 minutes outside, rested her eyes for the approximate 1 hour drive to Amanpuri.




I, meanwhile, spent my time playing with all the buttons in the car. Seat goes up, seat goes down, seat goes up…. We arrived at Amanpuri and we were greeted by the front management team, including the GM who apologized profusely for the error. They wished us a happy honeymoon and thanked us for celebrating with them. That’s all well and good guys but where is my apology palanquin! My kingdom for a palanquin!

Instead, they gave my wife a lovely wristlet made entirely from local flowers that smelled great, provided us with some refreshing juice, and then gave us a tour of what I can only describe as paradise.
















From reading this forum I knew the two villas with the best views are 103 and 105, and while I tried to get 105, it was already booked. So we went with room 103. And hot damn, you guys weren’t kidding about the view! The villa is incredible, designed with a traditional Thai aesthetic in mind, and furnished with warm woods and comfortable linens.








Every day the room was replenished with fresh local fruit and cookies. The minibar was also complimentary (except for alcohol I think) and was stocked with mixed nuts. For our honeymoon, they provided us with a bottle of champagne, and at night for turndown, they filled our bathtub with lotus buds, and placed a beautiful dreamcatcher-like net thing made from flowers on our bed. It was really thoughtful and beautiful.






One thing to know about me is that I like to sleep cold, and when I mean cold, I mean ‘see your breath like in the The Exorcist’ cold. If Father Merrin walked in to our room at night, you would be hearing a lot of “the power of Christ compels you!” We were worried that due to the cabana style, wherein you can open the entire room up, the a/c would be miserable, but it wasn’t. Meat locker for the win!

The villa also has a ‘sala’ outside, which is a Thai seating area where you can enjoy dinner privately al fresco. We made good use of that one night.





Perhaps my only critique of the room itself is that there is a distinct lack of outlets, and due to the age of the property, no usb charging. Basically we resorted to charging all our electronics from the two outlets in the bathroom area. Not a big deal, but I do think it is something Amanpuri should consider updating. Other than the days where we went on excursions (which I will discuss below), our days at Amanpuri went as follows.

Wake up, gawk at the amazing view from our villa, and proceed down for breakfast, which was included in our package (along with dinner). Following breakfast, we went down to the beach and napped for a bit before going for a swim or paddle boarding in the crystal clear water. Perhaps this is typical of high-end hotels, but the staff would constantly make sure to move the umbrellas by our chairs to block out the sun, to the point that the moment one of our toes was getting any rays, they would rush to move it. It was kind of awesome. They also provided fresh fruit and ice water intermittently or whenever the ice melted. As the sun set, we’d retire back to the pool area where afternoon tea service and snacks were provided. The tea and snacks varied, but we usually stuck with the iced passionfruit tea, along with some mango cake, and fresh Thai coconut pancakes. Afternoon tea became a staple at Amanpuri, and we constantly made an effort to make it in time (4pm-5pm) to snack, and watch the sun set.







After tea, we’d change and go for a work out at the gym. The gym is two floors and located on a hill overlooking the resort. For those who enjoy a workout while on vacation, Amanpuri delivers. Plenty of treadmills, ellipticals, and rowing machines, as well as full weight sets and racks. Nothing beats panoramic views of the ocean while jogging in place.

After our workouts, we went back to the room, showered, and for two of the days, we went to the Spa for massages. The first treatment was included in our package and involved a 60-minute Thai massage. The space was tranquil and the massage itself was firm. As would become a pattern, every massage we would get at hotels would be followed by a statement along the lines of “oh wow you have very tense shoulder… what do you do for a living?” The first time merited a shrug, but after hearing it 4 times . . . I think I need to make a new lifestyle choice when I get back. The second treatment we received was a post-sun recovery treatment, designed to help with sunburns. We definitely needed it because the lobsterfication of our bodies was in full swing. Initially, I thought it would be a waste of money, but we our skin really did feel better afterwards, and we were no longer in pain.

Following the spa treatments, we dressed, and went down for dinner. There are three restaurants at Amanpuri, a Thai, Italian, and Japanese. Of the four nights we stayed, we dined twice at the Thai restaurant, and once at the Italian (we dined at our sala the last night). We did not dine at the Japanese restaurant for two reasons. First, we would be going to Japan on this trip, so we could not imagine that the food would be better than what we had planned. Second, the Japanese restaurant was not included in our package and so we would have had to pay out of pocket. We did not care for the food in the Italian restaurant. The food was under seasoned, and was sort of a poor imitation of Italian food. We expected it, because why would you eat Italian in Thailand, but by this point, we were a little tired of the options at the Thai restaurant. The food at the Thai restaurant was flavorful, but there is only so many times you can eat coconut based soups and curries. One criticism we had, and perhaps this is just a Thai culture thing, but service was incredibly slow at the restaurants. Even when we were the only people dining, we often waited 30+ minutes between courses, and glass refills were not frequent. I don’t necessarily mind waiting a while for courses as it gives time for conversation, but this was a little extreme. At the very least the live local traditional musicians that Amanpuri brings in to play while you eat entertained us. It was a nice touch.




While at Amanpuri we scheduled two excursions. The first was a diving trip to the Similan Islands, with an outside company. The second, was a day trip on the Aman I to Phang Nga Bay. I’ll start with the bad first. We scheduled two dives with Sunrise Divers, a local company in the area with good reviews. Overall, they were no frills but adequate. They arrived to pick us up right on time in the morning, and we proceeded to drive approximately 1.5/2 hours to the marina where our speedboat would take us to the main boat, which would then take us to the dive spots. Overall it took approximately 4 hours to get to the first dive location in the Similar Islands, and….it was terrible. From my research, I envisioned the Similan Islands as this crystal clear water, with beautiful marine life and large fish. Instead the highlight of the dives was seeing a single turtle and a lobster. Great. The trip back also took longer due traffic, so we ended up spending about 10 hours in travel time for a dive that was entirely not worth the trip. It was disappointing to say the least because we could have spent that day basking in Aman luxury.






Luckily, the excursion to Phang Nga Bay more than made up for the disappointing dives. Before our arrival we were trying to book an excursion to Phang Nga Bay with the Aman I, Amanpuris luxury boat. However, Aman I prices are based on how many people go with a maximum of 6, I believe. Every sing day we stayed at Amanpuri we tried to see if any other couples wanted to go on the excursion, and of course, the only day we couldn’t do it because of the dive, was the day people signed up. We were left with only two options, no trip or book the entire boat for ourselves. I think the choice was clear. It was pricey, but it was also the highlight of our entire honeymoon, and we got to see Phang Nga Bay in a way few could. The trip was incredible. It started with travel to the nicest marina in Phuket, where the Aman I was waiting.








The entire crew were warm, knowledgeable, and very friendly. They provided us with coconut drinks to welcome us, and plied us with champagne and snacks to our hearts contents. Our tour guide knew the area well, and informed us of nearby sea and bird life as well as geological structures.











We were taken to a private island where we explored caves and lagoons. We then traveled to James Bond Island, where the filmed the Man with the Golden Gun. This was the touristy-est portion of the trip, but it was cool nonetheless. Afterwards, we were taken to another island, where we rented a kayak from local guides and explored the caves and lagoons. Our kayak driver was amazing. The area was crowded with other kayak tourists, and it wasn’t completely low tide, thus some caves and lagoons were inaccessible. However, there was one area that if we squeezed, deflated the kayak, and laid as low as we could, we could make it. Our kayak driver was the only one willing to do so, and we were gifted with an entire private lagoon inside a cave, all to ourselves. After this amazing experience, we returned to the Aman I where lunch was served. We ate while traveling to another private island for a late afternoon private swim, followed by the return journey to Amanpuri. Overall, this was trip is well worth the price, and I highly recommend doing it. From talking to fellow guests, Amanpuri excursions may very, but this one is by far the best and most amazing one. For example, one other couple we talked to decided to go on the horseback riding excursions, and they were very disappointed. They said the horses had their eyes covered, seemed depressed, and the ride mostly included them just trotting down a road. We definitely lucked out with our pick. We returned from this amazing experience relaxed and ready to continue on our adventure. We would be heading to Chiang Mai next.
Anlun is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 23, 17, 3:57 pm
  #26  
Four Seasons 5+ BadgeSPG 5+ Badge
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Germany
Programs: Some
Posts: 6,345
Really disappointing what you saw during your scuba trip. I‘m surprised and hope it was an excemption. Nevertheless it seems you didn’t have the worst time:-)
offerendum is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 23, 17, 7:47 pm
  #27  
Aman Contributor BadgeFour Seasons Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Baltimore MD
Posts: 3,226
I like the way you guys approached vacation! Amanpuri looks great.. what sort of service recovery did they offer you for the mix up at pickup?

FDW
FlyingDoctorwu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 23, 17, 9:29 pm
  #28  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: New York
Posts: 107
Originally Posted by FlyingDoctorwu View Post
I like the way you guys approached vacation! Amanpuri looks great.. what sort of service recovery did they offer you for the mix up at pickup?

FDW
Thanks! None, which annoyed me. I thought they would offer us something but nop. Another critique that I failed to mention was that we didn't get that crazy Aman level service mentioned here. They didn't remember any of our food preferences or names, and we were asked our room number every time. It didn't bother me because I'm used to that sort of thing, but if there are those who are used to something more, I can see it annoying them.
Anlun is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 23, 17, 10:38 pm
  #29  
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: NYC
Programs: AA EXP, Hyatt Globalist
Posts: 153
Originally Posted by Anlun View Post
Actually, the point I was trying to convey was that Gaggan is a very worthwhile restaurant, regardless of it's notoriety. My first point regarding the experience was that it detracts from the food, but that is not to say the food alone wasn't excellent. It certainly was. We've been to some restaurants, Aquavit NYC for example, where some dishes were just served in a pretentious manner, though no where near the level of that Fat Duck anecdote (seriously an iphone?). Gaggan's dishes can definitely stand their own, and I wish maybe the chef had more confidence in them. My guess was that because they are small bites, he might think the guests will walk away unsatisfied unless they get a show out of it. But, for us, that was not the case. As I noted, we were very impressed with how much flavor he was able to pack into such small dishes, and how bold and distinct they were. I think maybe I got tired of listing off the 25 courses, and I may have gotten a little lazy in the middle review, but Gaggan is worth it. Just ignore the Lick It Up bit, and look past the potted plant.

We debated going to Nahm but we ran into a Bangkok couple on our trip who totally bashed it, and recommended we go to Nara instead for good Thai food. We weren't disappointed.

Thanks again for the positive feedback, I hope to get my Amanpuri/Phuket review done tomorrow. Spoiler alert, barring a few mishaps and a slight nitpick, that place is damn amazing.
Thanks for the review & Congratulations on your wedding!
I really loved my dinner at Gaggan last year, probably my favorite dining experience ever. But was also disappointed by the food/service at Nahm.
zip10001 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 23, 17, 10:56 pm
  #30  
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: bay area, ca
Programs: UA plat, spg plat, aa plat, marriott plat
Posts: 2,618
Really enjoying the TR (you are 2 lucky people ) Incredible pictures too.

Too bad you didn't ask your butler about transport to Gaggan - going by car pretty much anywhere in Bangkok during normal hours is a losing proposition - you could have taken the boat to Sathorn Pier (30 minutes), then walked 5 minutes to the BTS (sky train) and 20ish minutes later (after one transfer) arrived at a station that was a 10-15 minute walk to the restaurant. Maybe that will help someone else - I never take a taxi in Bangkok unless I have to (luggage). Although the public transport is poor, the trains crowded and stations limited, they are air conditioned! and seriously beat the traffic! There is also a subway system but it is hard for foreigners to find and use and also is quite limited. I'm so glad you survived that motorcycle trip.
estnet is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread