Category Archives: restaurants

Traveling South East Asia

To all my loyal readers out there, I hope you had a relaxing and joyful holiday season, and my best wishes to you and your families for 2007! My year at INSEAD is now over, so I only have a few posts on my blog left describing the final stages of my studies.

The first one is about my weekend trips in Asia. After completing my job search and most of my credits in P4, I had some time in P5, i.e. November and December, to explore South East Asia. If you have the opportunity to spend some time on INSEAD’s Singapore campus, don’t miss out on all the traveling.

For some reason, B turned out to be the name of the game. Besides my trip to Bali, I also spend a few days on Boracay, a beautiful tropical island in the Philippines, and Bangkok, Thailand’s unique and vibrant capital. Oh, and we did hike through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in the middle of Singapore.

In the middle of November, we took off to the Philippines. Boracay, apparently the most developed holiday destination in the country, is simply amazing. White Beach streches along its south western coast line as far as the eye can see, and the sea is clear and colorful. Don’t miss out on the fruitshakes from Jonas or happy hour cocktails at sunset!

White Beach White Beach again
Boracay sand castle Sunset over White Beach

Hiking through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is an experience out of this world – a tropical rainforest in the middle of Singapore, the city of fancy cars and skyscrapers. And it’s good for your health, too!

Ready to rumble! Stairway to … well, the top of the hill

For my last weekend in Asia we booked the Lebua, a luxury hotel in Bangkok‘s State Tower. The top floor is home to The Dome, a fancy restaurant, as well the Sky Bar, a place for the bold and the beautiful, with breathtaking views of the Thai capital.

The State Tower The Dome at night
One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster … … the bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free

Bangkok is a city of extremes – tranquil Buddhist monastries next to the bustling temples of modern capitalism (aka. shopping malls), the world’s most expensive sports cars next to rattling tuk-tuks, and European designer clothes next to panhandling beggars. Wat Pho, the city’s oldest Buddhist temple, is home to the Reclining Buddha, a gigantic gold-plated statue – definitely worth a visit.

Great food is available in abundance, although the Thai cuisine is a bit too spicy for my European taste buds. For an excellent surprise menu in an extraordinary setting, try the Bed Supperclub; for original Thai cuisine, head over to Baan Khanita. Thanks to Mickey and Lindsay for those delicious recommendations!

Reclining Buddha Wat Pho
Shopping Temple No, no, it’s not spicy …

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Trilogy Alumni Dinner

A couple of weeks back, I bumped into a former colleague of mine from Trilogy, the enterprise software company I used to work for in 2000/2001. The meeting was pure coincidence – he is currently working in the IT department of INSEAD as a freelancer.

He came up with the idea of a Trilogy Alumni reunion in Paris, and it worked out quite well. So last Wednesday evening, nine of us had dinner, and it was good to see so many familiar faces after all these years.

Trilogy Alumni Dinner in Paris
Laurent M., Matthieu, Pascal, Emmanuel, Raphael, Kamal, Conan, Laurent G. and myself (f.l.t.r.) at the Trilogy Alumni Dinner in Paris

Except myself, all of them are still based in Paris, although one is about to start his PhD in Finance at Princeton. Current employers of the people at the table ranged from Koalog and Lombardi to Salesforce.com and – of course – Google. The big G seems to be in major hiring mode at the moment, as an ever growing number of my friends (especially ex-Trilogians) have joined their ranks lately.

Laurent M. and Matthieu Pascal, Emmanuel and Raphael
Kamal and Conan Conan, Laurent G. and Auris

BTW, we went to Les Deux Canards in the 10th arrondissement, and although the waiter was highly entertaining, I was disappointed with their food. The foie gras we started off with was too oily for my taste, and the following canard aux miel d’orange, supposingly their signature food, was a bit bland. I expect more at this price level.

Update: If you are willing to spend (quite) a bit more, have a look at this review of Paris restaurants by Chris Keene who taught my “Venture Opportunities and Business Models” class here at INSEAD.

Marrakech

Last week, we – Marina, Ruriko, Irene and myself – went on a short trip to Marrakech in Morocco during the four day break between our first and second period of classes. We stayed at the Riad Tanine, a small hotel in the middle of the Medina, Marrakesh’s old city.

Our hotel, Riad Tanine
Our hotel, Riad Tanine

The Medina consists of a maze of streets and sideways, crowded during the day and completely deserted at night. In its middle is Jamaa El Fna, the square of the Dead.

Jamaa El Fna Square
Jamaa El Fna Square

Dried Fruit and Orange Juice on Offer
Remember Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much”?

One evening, we had dinner at stall no. 1 on the square – the food is ok, but we ate much better than that elsewhere. I highly recommend Le Tobsil in the Medina, Al Faissa in the Gueliz district and the restaurant of the five-star hotel La Mamounia.

Dinner at Stall No. 1
Dinner at Stall No. 1

Our favourite mode of transport were the horse carriages, which will get you anywhere for a few Dirham. Make sure you haggle with them though, because their first quoted price is typically 5 to 10 times the fixed tariff they are required to charge.

Riding the Horse Carriage
Irene, Marina and Ruriko in a carriage, with the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in the background

Marrakech is full of exotic colours and shapes. Here are some of my impressions from the museums, parks and various merchants in the Medina.

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