Julie and Charlotte hit the Far East

I’l start this one with a quick anecdote: Years ago I knew a guy with a small and straightforward group of close-knit friends from college. He was baffled by the complex web that is my friend network: work friends, university friends, home, Madrid friends, Sloan-Kettering friends, etc. To combat this confusion and get him up to speed on the most important people in my life, I created a PowerPoint deck with photos, bios, years known, and key statistics (once a consultant, always a consultant). But mostly importantly, I gave them each a shorthand so he could remember who they were with a quick glance. For Julie and Charlotte, I wrote “Most Fun” and in conclusion, I’ve just spent a week with them and am more than happy to report the information is still (very) true.

The ladies were both in Singapore by Thursday morning, with Julie swinging by my apartment in the morning to drop her things (Charlotte had a day of work meetings to finish off, and was staying in a hotel that night). The first thing she said to me was “It’s so hot here,” and this girl comes from Florida, so that’s really saying something. Unfortunately I had to rush off to work almost as soon as I welcomed her to the Garden City. It is really difficult to be in the office when you have visitors in town—you really just want to bounce out of the office and go hang out with your people. I got through the day, and then headed out around 7PM and over to Marina Bay Sands (the classic visitor spot) for some sunset drinks and dinner afterwards on the marina. We were out for close to four hours, but I couldn’t spent another four, easily—we had so much to catch up on. So gossip, gossip, gossip was what we did.

The following day, it was equally hard to head into work, knowing that my besties were galavanting around my city without me! But Charlotte had some work meetings to attend, and Julie and I were able to meet up for lunch in the business district. We ate at KazBar, a Mediterranean spot near my office with good food and atmosphere. In the middle of our lunch, I got a message from Natalie, saying she had just landed from a work trip, that Tim had proposed to her and that we needed to talk over the phone when she woke up! YES WE DID. I didn’t think it was possible to be any happier than I was, but my mood instantly elevated, and we had a toast for our now-engaged Nat-Dogg.

After work on Friday, I headed to the airport to meet my femme fatales for our next stop: the Phi Phi Islands (Thailand’s most famous West Coast islands), for a weekend of tropical beaches, bottles of wine and serious sun lounging. I was seated in an exit row on our flight (thanks, lanky legs) with an empty seat next to me. But it was only a temporary score—a girl came to sit next to the guy in the window seat, and they proceeded to flirt aggressively during takeoff and beyond. HARD PASS. I shuffled over to Charlotte’s row and was able to enjoy the rest of the flight in peace (and more gossip). Someone Julie was seated in 29F (basically the bathroom), but she was able to change her seat during the flight, so we all got to sit next to each other in the end. Woo hoo!

We stayed at the U Zenmaya in Kamala Beach, a super simple and chic space with stunning views of the sea. By the time we checked in, it was just after 10PM, so we decided to stay in the hotel and spend (even more) time catching up with each other. We went to bed somewhat early that night, saving our energy for the following morning, when we were meant to be picked up for a day of island hopping at 7:45AM. As I have the daily ritual of a newborn child, I need to wake up and ate pretty much immediately, so I was up early for a nice breakfast of fresh fruit, eggs and coffee. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), the tour company completely forgot about picking us up and had to send a special taxi to pick us up and bring us to the port! We arrived in time for the day briefing, where we learned we’d be visiting four islands, including Monkey Island and Maya Bay, the staple island featured in Danny Boyle’s 2000 film The Beach, starring the apple of my eye now and forever, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Of course, this day of touring the islands was simply stunning. It’s these kinds of days where I have to pinch myself and think, “I live here?” And on this trip, I needed a double pinch, because my best friends who had traveled 20 hours from the States where there to enjoy it with me. Here’s a rundown of what we saw on Saturday:

  • Sunbathing, swimming and relaxing at Bamboo Island
  • Snorkelling over the beautiful tropical coral reef at Shark Point
  • Delish sea view buffet lunch (fresh seafood, fruit, rice and veggies) at Phi Phi Don Island
  • Views from the boat at Loh Samah Bay, Emerald Lagoon, Viking Cave and Monkey Beach (so many!)
  • Early sunset at Maya Bay

We wrapped up our tour, said goodbye to our newfound friends made that day, and were dropped off back at our hotel. As each of us was suffering from extreme FOMS (fear of missing sunset), we decided to set up shop at the pool for a sundown session over a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Our infinity pool sat just atop the Andaman Sea, looking out over the rolling shore and beautiful, glassy water. There are few things I love more than sunset happy hours, but this one was on another level.

After showers, makeup and an extended pregame that involved dancing around in our room to an all-Avicii playlist (RIP!), it was time to head out. We continued the party in our tuk-tuk who (foolishly) let us use his auxiliary cord as we drove into town. I had been debating whether I wanted to bring the ladies to Bangla Road. If you haven’t been, it’s a super trashy street where the dark heart of Patong’s nightlife is where, depending on your predilections, you’ll either want to spend your entire weekend, or none of it. There are well over 100 bars on the road, most of them of the sleazy variety. It isn’t really my style, but I figured it would be fun and interesting to at least show them what Bangla Road is all about so they can say they checked out the scene. So, after stopping first to grab some quick Thai bites at a small night market, it was on to Bangla Road. The girls were stunned at the absolute insanity of the street, I was flooded by memories of how much I disliked the whole area. So after getting our kicks in and feeling satisfactorily entertained, we bought a bottle of wine on the street, and headed back to the hotel. With friends from home, all you really want to do is talk, so why not crack open a bottle of white, change into pajamas, and bring the catch-up session to your super plush hotel beds? Sorted!

Sunday morning was much more relaxed than the previous day. I woke up again early (Thailand is an hour behind Singapore), and headed down to breakfast for some coffee and grub. I was very much enjoying staring at the sea and drinking my java, and was pretty successful in warding off conversation from the old creepy that was also in the restaurant. Julie came down to join me for breakfast about an hour after I arrived, and we ended up talking until noon (to each other, and to the old creepy guy, who made his way over to our table in the end and wanted to share his life story. Ugh). It was nice to relax together and catch up on some more things that we hadn’t had time to talk about in the frenzy of the previous days. We were enjoying the relaxation so much that we decided to let it spill over into the afternoon, grabbing Charlotte from the room and heading over to the pool for a few hours of sunbathing (and finishing off another nice bottle of Sauv B). Our hotel had a nice spa nearby the pool, so we decided to check it out (massages for the girls, a facial for me). Normally I’m not a fan of hotel spas, but this one was gorgeous and reasonably priced, and we were all happy and relaxed coming out of there.

After our spa treatments it was after 6PM, so we took turns showering and got ready quickly to head to the airport for our 10PM flight. Our ride to the airport was memorable, with our driver blasting Thai techno music and Tindering at every red light. Play on, player! After picking up some spring rolls and Pad Thai at the airport, we boarded our flight and were back in Singapore before we knew it.

Julie and Charlotte had basically a long layover in Singapore, departing the next morning at 11AM for Bali. They stayed Monday through Thursday, and were back in town for one last hurrah on Thursday evening. It was started at Lucha Loco for dinner with Roisin, Nicole and Anisha. My old friends and new friends having dinner in the same place—be still my beating heart! I’ll spare the details because I know that several parents read this blog, but it was a fun night of dancing, drinking and eating delicious food. I was so sad to see my ladies leave the next morning, but their visit absolutely filled my heart with joy. It’s so nice to be able to joke and laugh and still have deep conversations with people that have known you for years. Inspiration for more of my friends to (please) come visit! (I’ll treat you to at least a round of drinks, promise)

A few (a lot of) photos from Julie and Charlotte’s trip: