The new Pearl of Asia- Sofitel Kuala Lumpur

When the flavours infuse on your first bite and you’re not sure whether to scream with joy or orgasm, you know heaven is a place on earth.  

The moment you walk into the opulent obsidian foyer of the Sofitel in Kuala Lumpur, you don’t even need to see your room to be convinced that heaven is a place on earth. The brand new 5 star hotel screams luxury in a way that combines the old and new creating a nostalgic vibe. I passed the cafe, wine bar and reception on my way to the dining area. Dining solo, I decided to check out the new restaurant. It was buffet night, however I chose from the A La Carte menu. The service was incredible, it wasn’t pushy and the staff didn’t stand too close (as is the case in other 5 star hotels ) while I took my time to peruse the menu, check Facebook and take a few selfies. The moment I closed the extensive menu a staff member was ready to take my order. I was in a vegetarian mood and ordered the portobello main and mushroom soup. As I waited for my dinner to arrive I was invited to peruse the buffet menu that was immaculately presented and consisted of asian cuisine, western cuisine and oh my god, the Chocolate Fondue fountain. Was it too late to cancel my order and ask for the buffet? 

I admired the artworks on the walls as I tucked into some freshly baked bread, trying to figure out how I could get my hands on the fondue fountain.
My entree and main arrived at the same time. A typical serving for a 5 star restaurant, I was served an inverted portobello mushroom delicately topped with vegetables and garnished with truffle oil and pesto. The portobello was insatiable, the truffle oil was just the right flavour to infuse the tomatoes and pesto and highlight that rich fungi flavour. 
But the star of the show was the Mushroom soup, who knew soup could taste so rich and flavoursome? Well, I thought that was only possible when I made it myself. The soup was served with bruschetta that was so delicious, I could’ve ordered a plate of that alone. 
This was the Sofitel’s first buffet night and unfortunately much of the food looked untouched. 

At the end of my delicious meal I asked if I could order the desserts available at the buffet, the manager walked over and invited me to try as much as I could eat of the dessert menu- complimentary! I walked over and tried a selection of perfectly crafted tiny desserts that were almost too cute to destroy with a bite. 
The white chocolate with berry compote was delicious and a match made in heaven as I twirled it under the fondue fountain. The fondue was the best I have ever tasted and believe me- I know fondue! It wasn’t too rich or creamy, it was perfect in consistency and taste which I must admit led to a bit of over indulging.
As I finished my second dessert plate I was brought a generous slice of the bread and butter pudding by a lovely waiter who didn’t show any hint of judgement. Brilliant, guilt free indulgence. 

When I eventually decided I had overindulged and needed to leave, I was left with a sense of regret that I hadn’t booked a few nights in the Sofitel. My gosh, what a dream come true that would be! This looks like a hotel that didn’t just spend big on the grand entrance, I’d bet they put the same level of detail into the rooms too. I would love to review the experience of staying in a world class hotel that will surely be at full occupancy soon, if it isn’t already. 

I have stayed and dined in many 5 star hotels around the world and this is one of the best. It gets 5 starts from me and fingers crossed that I can stay the last 3 nights in a suite. It is this hotel that will complete your stay in Kuala Lumpur and leave you wishing you didn’t have to leave. 
Im in Malaysia until 16 August 17 and hope to return to check out their bar and in future indulge in their rooms. Check out my instagram: Eternity Hausen 

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The worlds Longest Cable Car -Ba Na Hills 2017 

Day 1: Hoi An
Ba Na hills

Bana Hills Video link

I flew to Da Nang. I wanted to go to Han Oi and then look at Halong Bay but flights were mostly fully booked or too expensive for a 3 day trip, so off the Hoi An I went. I flew into Da Nang and took a 35minute cab right along the ocean to my Home stay. Yep, I picked a home stay. It was just like a hotel, except the lady who checked me in owned the place. It worked out pretty well actually, she cooked my breakfast (for $1AUD) when ever I liked and had a puppy named Lucky. I was left alone in the gigantic house just as I would be in a hotel.

On my first full day in Hoi An I took a day trip to Ba Na Hills. It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend. Your tour guide will drive you an hour or so into the Jungle and then you catch a 5km state off the art cable car to the peak where a French castle awaits. It has been bought by Russians who have turned it into a theme park (and scatterred Russian art alll through the joint) with roller coasters, countless restaurants and performances outdoors. If that doesn’t interest you then the view is well worth a look. 
Tips- if you aren’t great with cobble stones, steep hills or 40 degree heat while inside a flying glass box, this is not the tour for you.
Day 2 & 3 Hoi An

I cycled into the night markets in Hoi An to discover streets filled with coloured hanging lanterns and tok toks al about. It was beautiful, balmy and busy. 
It was nice to sit in a coffee house in Hoi An and take in the view of the river and travelling sales people balancing bamboo sticks atop their shoulders with various items in an upside down Vietnamese hat on either side. It was so busy with tourists but also many locals. Well, I assume they were locals, there were also many Asian tourists. If you want to go shopping this is the place to do it, but I’m not fussed about it. After a day or so every tailor store looked the same. I mean it, I really could not find which tailor had made the dresses I ordered! I discovered that the trick to getting tailor made clothing is to find a material or pattern you like and hope for the best. I found a beautiful piece of chiffon that I had tailored dresses made from. You can see the picture below. They’re good, but they’re not what you’d expect at home. I cant quite figure out why…. but when a ball gown is $50USD, who cares. Silk is the specialty here with every tailor claiming to have the best silk in the land that are hand dyed with natural inks. The business owners have no issue stealing business from their neighbour and yelling out “Thats SATIN! not silk. I HAVE REAL SILK! COME TO MY STORE.” 
Many tourists make a game of bargaining the Vietnamese products down to the lowest price with no intention of buying anything. While this may be fun for some, after my experience at the Ben Thann markets I wasn’t going to do that. I wish I could say it is because I have too much respect for their business, but it is truly because I simply dont have the patience to make a sport of it when I don’t want to purchase anything. That counts as respect, right? There are plenty of coffee houses, bars and streets to wander instead. 

Cycling was my mode of transport, I never did make it to the beach because I kept getting caught in Monsoonal rains. I found it amusing that as soon as it rain merchants seemingly appear out of thin air selling ponchos to tourists! See the pics!
Between Da Nang and Hoi An there is a 5-10km long construction zone along the beach. Imagine Denarau Island in Nadi before it was built. They’re building the Sheraton, Westin, and all of those Westerner hotels. i’m sure it will look amazing when its done and be sold as the new ‘Asian tourist playground”-good for Vietnam. Better for me next time I stay, if you like that Western feel…


Dont mess with the Vietnamese-Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam
The Cu Chi tunnels are worth the 2.5 hours drive thorough traffic. It was a lot of fun and a bit of a history lesson. I highly recommend it. It is no wonder that many soldiers sufferred PTSD and would never speak of their experiences. There were replica traps, tunnels, weapons that you can fire and tanks on display. I was on a tour with a very interesting guide and the impression I got was that they thought (and still think) the Americans were pretty silly, they basically lost the war to a bunch of rice farmers. 
During the tour we visited a factory that has been set up for victims of Agent Orange. Agent Orange was the defoliant used during the war by Americans so they could find the Viet Congh. 
After visiting the ‘Exhibition of Gifts received by Presidents’ and going in the Cu Chi tunnels, it appears to me that the Vietnamese people think the Americans are pretty silly. Being one of 5 Communist states left in the world, it seems the Americans lost against a bunch of Rice farmers. The tour guide at an exhibition laughed as she said “They needed to stop interfering in our country. They still haven’t learned their lesson.”
She told me of Vietnamese history which included 1000’s. Of years of War with other countries. They always won. She referred o China as ‘Big Brother’ which is probably how many Asian countries feel. 

The Struggle is Real People

Social Observations
My patience is generally pretty good, at least I dont show if I’m impatient and I mostly keep my composure. What really challenged my in Vietnam is lack of respect for personal space. On a tour bus travelling back from Ba Na Hills a lady sat beside me, child in her arms, and sprawled out. She casually rested half of her 3-4yo sleeping child on my lap. IT was at least 33 degrees, the aircon was struggling and she didn’t make eye contact. I moved across with a bit of a huff, trying to signal that I wasn’t happy about this. In Australia, that would have been a very obvious non-verbal cue that I wanted more space and was annoyed. What did this woman do? She took the extra space! God. Do you think I could get it back? Nope. She didn’t speak English and seemingly could not care less that she. Wass taking up 1.5 seats. 

Queues.

How hard is it? Go to the back of the line and wait your turn. This applies at the airport for taxis, customs, hotel lobbys, cafes etc. At first, when I noticed people were moving ahead of me I assumed their family was up ahead. Nope. They just lack the social etiquette I’ve come to expect. 
Earlier today I was in the Border security queue of about 150 people trying to leave HCMC. I had waited 25minutes, it was hot, my feet were sore and I just wanted to pee. Finally, I was 3rd in the queue and feeling happy about it when an Asian family appeared in front of me. 2 adults, 3 kids. There was not a chance they were going first (I’d had enough of this behaviour the night before at 1am in the taxi queue). I asked the guy what (the bloody hell)he thought he was doing as his wife just looked around as though nothing was going on. I told him to go to the back of the line and as I looked back I saw other families and individuals doing the same, just cutting the queue. I think people get away with this behaviour because no one speaks up. People don’t want to cause a fuss. Well, I was as polite as required and in case you’re wondering, they weren’t running late. They were just rude. 
Social Hierarchy.
So, there is a social Hierarchy in Asia. Singaporeans are at the top, followed by Hong Kong, Mainland China and then….well who cares. The point is that Vietnamese, Thai, Laos, Phillipinos and any other developing country doesn’t get a look in when deciding one’s importance. The next thing to look at is the whiteness of skin (desirable in Asia), clothing and posture. Western Caucaseans don’t get a look in. I had a Singaporean lady explain this to me recently when she jumped the queue (Yes, I was about to have a go at her) She gave me a ‘cultural lesson’ That in Asia, us (also white skinned)Westerers, although guests in their country need to make way for this social hierarchy and class system that they have. 
While I don’t find it particularly difficult to tell Thai, Phillipino, Malaysians, Singaporeans apart, many people do. And quite honestly, when queueing up in Western fashion, they don’t care. I couldn’t care less about the hierarchy, so I’ll continue to hold my ground in western-queue fashion

Ho Chi Minh Whirl

I was greeted by a driver at Ho Chi Minh International airport at 2am who drove me 30 minutes to the other side of the city. I was thrown into a chaotic whirl of life and vitality. Ho Chi Minh city breathes day and night with bars and shops open around the clock. I slept for 4 hours before exploring the city’s morning streets.
The first things I noticed were that the streets were very clean, traffic seems to flow well despite the roads over flowing with scooters. Not everyone speaks english here so I’ve had to learn a few basic words and phrases (“Please take me to my hotel)”. 
Ben Than Markets
I hit the Ben Than Markets on the first day, tried the food and did not get robbed. #winning.

I entered a stall to look at the imitation designer bags and tried to haggle the price of one, the lady wouldn’t sell it for any less than $50AUD. When I tried to leave she grabbed my arm and aggressively spat ‘Why did you enter my stall if you no buy!!!” I told her it was too expensive and tried to leave, it took a minute or so of negotiating verbally before I could leave (without shoving her out of my way). She yelled at me as I walked off to another stall. It was pretty exciting. 
The Ben Than markets are piled high with linen and ladies keen to tailor make clothing for you with a 2 hour turn around. It seems like a great idea, but I just don’t think they’ll be there when I return in 2 hours. Other tourists have warned me of them doing a runner once you pay. 
I have ordered a tailor made kimono shirt from a tailor in District 1, across from the Sheraton and Versace. I cant wait to see how it turns out! Seems legit…. *crosses fingers*

Update: I picked up my kimono style top, it was in a completely different fabric. Still nice, but not te fabric I chose.