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Okra has been in Hong Kong for two years now and, despite living only a few minutes away, I only just dined there for a much-anticipated feast. Over the past years, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Okra Hong Kong, so my expectations were admittedly quite high. I won’t beat around the bush: every dish that I tried was incredibly unique and delicious, and the atmosphere was cozy yet upbeat; something that most restaurants struggle to provide. If you’re looking for a different dining experience in Hong Kong, I would highly recommend heading to Okra.

Vibe at Okra Hong Kong

The dining space at Okra is small so it’s best to go with only one or two other people. There is seating around the bar/kitchen, which I would recommend trying to snag, and a few tables for two if you’re looking for something a bit more intimate. The music, which is curated by Okra’s chef-owner Max Levy, is a fitting mix of Dead Kennedies, The Misfits, and the like. I also loved the massive risque mural adorned on the wall inside. As the night continued, conversations grew louder, the sake continued flowing, and the vibe kept getting better.

Sake “THE COCK” Junmai Ginjo (Fukuoka) HK$108 per glass or HK$798 per bottle

Okra Hong Kong has a great sake list that is broken down into a few different tasting notes. We opted for the hilariously named (although appropriate given that 2017 was the year of the rooster) “The Cock” Junmai Ginjo (HK$108). Aside from the slightly acidic and refreshing tasting points of this sake, I liked that it was made in collaboration with Tsui Hark specifically for Okra.

Starters Nigari Sai Farmhouse Tofu (HK$98) Goose Blood Toast Goose Blood Toast Salt Tomato (HK$88)

We began with the popular Nigari Sai Farmhouse Tofu (HK$98) with Okra’s handmade Pigeon Sauce. The handmade tofu was silky smooth and paired beautifully with the fresh cherry tomatoes. Although this is not a dish I would typically order, the Goose Blood Toast was on the specials board (sorry, can’t remember how much it was!) and I was curious to try it. The goose blood was somewhat similar to a pate and was full of flavor. We also tried the Salt Tomato (HK$88), which was on the specials board. Despite the simplicity of the dish, this was one of the best tomatoes I’ve had in ages (in case you weren’t aware, Hong Kong is not known for its produce).

Mains Dry Aged Beef Tongue (HK$168) Dry Aged Baby Tuna (HK$118) Unabi Fun (HK$188)

Moving onto the mains, we began with the Dry Aged Beef Tongue (HK$168) from the specials board. I wasn’t entirely sold, given that I’ve never tried tongue before, but I have to admit it was really tasty. The thick pieces of cured meat were absolute perfection and I had to stop myself from devouring the entire plate. Another really interesting dish was the Dry Aged Baby Tuna (HK$118), also from the specials board. Dry aging fish heightens the taste, giving it that umami flavor everyone raves about. Despite living in Asia for 6.5 years, I had yet to try eel (I know, it’s shameful), so we decided to order the Unabi Fun (HK$188) – eel on crispy sushi rice. The eel had a delicious smokey flavor and the rice around the clay pot was perfectly crispy.

Dessert Uji Matcha Cookie Boy (HK$76)

We finished our meal with the Uji Matcha Cookie Boy (HK$76) – a roasted green tea and red bean cookie with smoked cream and lemon salt. Although I liked the overall flavor of the cookie, I wish the outside was crispier.

Verdict

From the cozy yet lively atmosphere to the delicious pours of sake, and incredibly unique and refreshing dishes on the menu, I loved everything about Okra Hong Kong. If you’re tired of the same restaurants in the city and are looking for something different, you need to try Okra. Perfect for a date night or an intimate catch up with a friend, the setting compliments the food flawlessly and I can’t wait to go back and slowly work my way through the rest of the menu.

Okra Hong Kong
110 Queen’s Road West
Sai Ying Pun

Tel: 2806 1038

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For years I’ve heard people rave about Megan’s Kitchen, the well-known hot pot restaurant in Wan Chai that attracts locals and expats alike. Megan’s Kitchen is best known for its interesting and unique hot pot soup bases – they have everything from tom yum cappuccino to Japanese miso tofu. Although I can’t say I particularly enjoyed my last few hot pot experiences, I decided to give Megan’s Kitchen a shot when a group of my girl friends were organizing a night out. All in all, I ended up having a really fun night (most of which was thanks to the company and the free flow wine we ordered), but like everyone else had already told me, it was expensive considering you basically cook your own food.

Vibe at Megan’s Kitchen Hong Kong Restaurant Interior

Megan’s Kitchen is pretty plain. There’s not much decor, the orange chairs are less than appealing, and there’s large flat screen TVs playing some type of Chinese soap opera around the room. Thankfully, we didn’t come here for the ambiance. The staff were friendly and nice, and were quick to refill our empty wine glasses (much to my later demise).

What we ordered Make your own dipping sauce Kimchi Dumplings, Pork Dumplings, Vegetable Dumplings Beef Rainbow Cuttlefish Balls Our feast

We began by making our own dipping sauces (they charge a rather ridiculous price of HK$25 per person for this), though I’m not entirely sure why since the soup bases are already flavored. For drinks, they had a free-flow package available, which included white and red wine and sake for only HK$138 per person, which we all obviously opted for.

The menu is massive, so we ordered a little bit of everything. The kimchi (HK$88), pork (HK$88), and vegetable (HK$88) dumplings were all surprisingly delicious, though I’d say the kimchi ones were my favorite. Since we had a few vegetarians with us, we only ordered two meat dishes: Australia grass-fed rib eye (HK$298) and another beef dish, but I honestly can’t even remember what it was (oops – I’ll blame it on the wine!). We also ordered a range of vegetables, noodles, and the popular rainbow cuttlefish balls (HK$98). As for our soup bases, we went with the tom yum cappuccino (HK$188) and sichuan (HK$168). The sichuan one was a bit too spicy for all of us, so we pretty much put everything into the tom yum soup, which was still a bit spicy for some but I really enjoyed it.

As a heads up, if you don’t want the century eggs or other “welcome starters” they automatically place on your table when you arrive, you need to tell the staff right away. Otherwise, you will be charged.

Verdict

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my time at Megan’s Kitchen. Though, I’m sure that was mainly due to the company and the obscene amount of wine I consumed throughout dinner. The food was good, although nothing really had that wow-factor, except for the kimchi dumplings. For HK$600 per person for a table of 5, we left absolutely stuffed with both food and wine. If you haven’t been yet, I would recommend getting a fun group of people together for dinner at Megan’s Kitchen. That being said, I’m not exactly racing back to spend that kind of money to essentially cook my own food.

Megan’s Kitchen
5/F Lucky Centre
165-171 Wan Chai Road
Wan Chai 

Tel: 2866 8305

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There’s  no shortage of places to get together with a group of friends on the weekend for a little (or big) boozy brunch. Just like most expats here, I’ve been to my fair share of them: from a la carte menus to buffets, and cappuccinos to champagne. Although I love all brunches, I was in the mood for something a bit more refined, so I decided to check out the ON Dining brunch – Le Grande Brunch, and boy do they know how to put out a great spread. We went through a whopping 6-course brunch (accompanied by champagne, of course) filled with a wide range of exceptional dishes.

Vibe at On Dining brunch

I’ve only been to the bar area of ON Dining (absolutely love their outdoor patio space), so when we went down the stairs to the restaurant portion, I fell in love with the clean, simple, and modern decor. The floor to ceiling windows are also perfect, day or night, to take in the view of Hong Kong.

To start Bread Basket Oyster, King Crab, Beef Tataki, Cauliflower & Salmon Roe, Caviar Tartlet

We began with the most delicious bread basket that came with croissants, pain au chocolat, panatone, and baguettes. On the side, we had a three-tiered tray with a variety of preserves (passion fruit, chocolate, and strawberry), fruit, and yogurt. Next, we had a beautifully presented plate with a variety of bite-sized snacks including oyster, king crab, beef tataki, cauliflower & salmon roe, and caviar tartlet. I liked that we were able to try a range of nibbles without having to commit to just one.

Starters & mains Starter: L’Oeuf d’Okinawa – Chanterelle parmesan cheese & shaved black truffle

There were four options for starters on the menu, but my heart was set on the L’Oeuf d’Okinawa, comprised of Chanterelle Parmesan cheese and shaved black truffle. Simply put, this dish was amazing: the ingredients harmoniously came together and I savored every single bite.

Les Cavatellis – Homemade cavatelli, seafood ragout, carabinero prawn Le Boeuf – Prime beef ribs teriyaki, creamy mushrooms, romaine salad Le Bar de Ligne – Wild sea bass, artichoke puree, spinach, sea urchin emulsion, pearl barley, black truffle julienne

Although all four mains on the menu sounded delicious, I opted for the Le Boeuf – Prime beef ribs teriyaki, creamy mushrooms, romaine salad. Honestly, the picture does not do this dish justice. I could have used a butter knife to cut the beef, it was so tender and the creamy mushrooms were an absolute treat. The other two dishes my food-loving friends ordered were the Les Cavatellis – Homemade cavatelli, seafood ragout, carabinero prawn and the Le Bar de Ligne – Wild sea bass, artichoke puree, spinach, sea urchin emulsion, pearl barley, black truffle julienne. Both dishes were greedily lapped up within a mere minute, so it’s safe to say they really, really liked it.

Cheese & dessert Cheese selection Dessert platter: Homemade pastries with fruit and sorbet

After we were done with the mains, a good selection of cheese was brought to our table. Each cheese was explained to us and we were directed to try the cheeses from left to right. I usually prefer more mild flavored cheese (though the stinky ones are beginning to grow on me!), but I actually loved every single cheese here.

To wrap up, it was time for a beautiful dessert platter with a variety of homemade pastries, fruit, and sorbet. My favorite dessert was surprisingly the mini lemon meringue pie (quick background story: my parents used to always buy lemon meringue pie when I was growing up and I absolutely hated it – in hindsight, I think they totally did this because they knew I wouldn’t eat any! – but recently lemon desserts have grown on me and I actually really enjoy them).

Verdict on ON Dining brunch

The ON Dining brunch – Le Grande Brunch – is a fantastic option if you’re looking for an elegant brunch experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the six-course meal and would highly recommend it. Although it is a bit pricier than other brunches, the quality of the food more than makes up for it.

Price

Le Grande Brunch – HK$688 per person + HK$228 for additional 2 hours of free flow champagne, wine, beer, and soft drinks

ON Dining 
29/F, 18 On Lan Street
Central 

Tel: 2174 8100

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I’ve been contemplating laser hair removal for awhile now, but have always put it off (mainly because I wasn’t ready to commit to the pain and price!). I finally decided to take the plunge and tried laser hair removal in Hong Kong. After speaking with a few friends, I settled on two different places to try (I’m a terrible decision maker in case you didn’t know): The Skin Gym for my underarms and Strip for my bikini.  Is it worth the money? Definitely! Is it worth the pain? Didn’t feel any!

Laser Hair Removal VS IPL

Okay, so apparently there are two different types of permanent hair removal (who knew?!): Laser and IPL. If you’re like me and really have no clue about either, you’re probably asking yourself why laser hair removal is more expensive than IPL. After a bit of research and speaking with the lovely team at The Skin Gym, I discovered that IPL is less effective in permanently getting rid of your hair because they emit a range of wavelengths (akin to a light bulb), and therefore aren’t focused and don’t always penetrate deep into the skin. Alternately, lasers emit a single concentrated wavelength, which specifically targets individual hair follicles. Thus, you end up achieving better and faster results with laser.

Laser Hair Removal Hong Kong: Underarms at The Skin Gym Image from The Skin Gym

Try not to judge, but I always found that I get a “five o’clock” shadow on my underarms hours after shaving and I was just tired of having to shave every single day. So, I made an appointment at The Skin Gym to have my first laser hair removal session on my underarms.

Session 1

I walked in without any idea about what would happen next. Thankfully, the staff were friendly and informative, and the whole process was honestly painless. They started off at a lower voltage (I think I’m using correct terminology here..) and the device used almost looked and felt like a warm suction cup. I was in and out of The Skin Gym within five minutes.

After about a week without seeing any results (perhaps in part because I continued with my normal shaving routine out of sheer habit), I began to notice that my hair was much more fine and wasn’t even growing back. I was really surprised, as I didn’t think this would happen after only the first session. I didn’t need to shave for about 2 – 2.5 weeks, at which point random thin hairs began to pop up randomly.

Session 2

You’re meant to go back every 4 – 6 weeks, so I did just that and experienced almost the same results, except I don’t think I shaved for about 2.5 – 3 weeks after the hair began falling out (which happens about a week after the treatment). The second time around, the voltage was turned up a fair bit higher on the machine, and while it didn’t hurt per say, it wasn’t particularly comfortable.

Overall, I’m super satisfied with the results (and I’ve only had two sessions!) and would 100% recommend laser hair removal at The Skin Gym if you’re looking to permanently get rid of unwanted hair.

Laser hair removal for underarm: HK$1690 per session

The Skin Gym 
The Centrium
21/F, Room 6
60 Wyndham Street
Central

Tel: 2810 8088

IPL: Bikini at Strip Image from Strip

Since I was so happy with my results from The Skin Gym, I opted to also get my bikini hair removed as well. Given the relatively sensitive nature of that area and my general curiosity of the difference between the two forms of permanent hair removal, I went with IPL.

For this  treatment, a cooling gel was put on first and then the laser went on top. It was completely painless and quicker than I had thought. My results were surprisingly similar to my underarms: after about a week or so, the hair fell out and didn’t start to grow back for about 1.5 weeks. Afterwards, a few random, thin hairs began to pop up. It’s been almost a month and there’s still very little there. I’m really happy with my results and will definitely go back for more sessions.

IPL hair removal for bikini: HK$1680 

Strip
9/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace
Central

Tel: 3950 3950

Featured image from mtlblog.com

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Thailand is well-known for its delicious, inexpensive food just about everywhere you go, so it should come as no surprise that you’ll find plenty of delicious food on the island of Koh Samui as well. Admittedly, I’ve been to areas of Thailand that had a wider selection of food, Samui has a solid amount of options if you’re looking to devour all the Thai food in sight. These are my top 10 picks of what to eat in Koh Samui.

1. Pad Thai

This is a no-brainer. You basically have to have pad thai while in Thailand (and definitely more than once). Although you can get this noodle dish at just about any restaurant, local and western alike, I would recommend heading to one of the night markets that pop up during the week. Here, you can snag a big portion of pad thai (just like the one above) for THB50 or a smaller portion where they’ll wrap it up in takeaway paper for THB10.

2. Thai Milk Tea

I love all types of milk tea, but Thai milk tea is next-level delicious. I tried some in more western restaurants on the island, but they were around THB80 and not very good. Instead, try to find a tiny drink/smoothie stand and order one there. Better yet, try to find a spot where you can actually see them making the tea (I saw this when I went to the night market in Chaweng where the milk tea was only THB30). If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth (or just don’t want the extra calories), be sure to tell them you want “less sweet”.

3. Mango Sticky Rice

Ah, the beloved Thai dessert – how can you not love mango sticky rice? Although this is one of my favorite desserts, it wasn’t as present in Koh Samui. They did have it at both night markets I went to, however the thin sugary topping that they have wrapped up in a bag isn’t quite the same as when thick condensed milk is drizzled (read: poured) on top.

4. Grilled Coconut Rice Wrapped in Banana Leaf

This was a new Thai sweet that I haven’t had before, despite having been to Thailand multiple times. Inside each banana leaf is a sweet mixture of sticky rice and coconut. Although it looked quite plain, this turned out to be one of my favorite foods I had on the island.

5. Papaya Salad

Yet another Thai staple is papaya salad. I had it multiple times in Koh Samui and each time I ordered it, the dish tasted very different than the last. Healthy, refreshing, and oh-so spicy, it’s a great snack to have midday or a starter to share with friends before a big meal at night.

6. Coconut Ice Cream

Confession: I’m a complete sucker for Instagrammable food. I found these coconut ice cream stands at the night markets I went to and absolutely loved them. For THB50 you get four scoops of homemade coconut ice cream, fresh coconut shavings, and your choice of a variety of toppings including peanuts, mochi, and dried fruit.

7. Silk Worms

I’ve seen my fair share of edible insects during my South East Asian travels, but I had never really felt inclined to give them a try (can you really blame me?!). I’m still not entirely sure what compelled me to try silk worms in Koh Samui, but I did. And I gotta say, they weren’t that bad. Oddly enough, the texture reminded me of chickpeas and there was a savory powder that was put on top of them that added a surprisingly nice flavor to the otherwise tasteless bugs. For THB30, you may as well go for it!

8. Thai Noodle Soup

I found it rather difficult to find local food stalls around the more tourist areas of Koh Samui, so when I found a tiny soup noodle stand I was ecstatic. A bowl of Thai noodles only cost THB30 and I was able to choose which fresh noodles I wanted and how much spice I could handle.. I just wish that I discovered this place sooner!

9. Skewers of All Kinds

You’ll likely walk past a few street-side vendors in the markets that have an array of skewers on display. Although most look like chicken, you should definitely get a bit adventurous with your choice. I suggest picking a random skewer or two and just take a bite – what’s the worst that could happen?!

10. Grilled Sticky Rice

I was actually quite surprised when I came across these thick grilled circles of rice at one of the night markets, as this was something that felt much more Japanese than Thai to me. They put a coating of egg wash over the rice before grilling it, which creates that deliciously crunchy exterior while keeping the rest of the rice soft. The grilled rice was so simple, yet so delicious – an easy snack option.

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There was a whole lot of hype surrounding the opening of Black Sheep Restaurant’s newest addition, New Punjab Club, and I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. As the name suggests, the restaurant serves a mix of Indian and Pakistani, and wanted to bring these authentic flavors to Hong Kong. The vibe is post-colonial with large pieces of interesting art plastered on the walls. If you’re looking for a fun, new place to delve into the world of Punjabi cuisine, New Punjab Club won’t disappoint.Vibe at New Punjab Club

Getting a weekend dinner reservation wasn’t particularly easy (without a month’s notice), but they managed to squeeze us in for the following Friday at 6:00 pm. Upon arriving, we were greeted at the main door by a large man looking sharp as ever in a fitted post-colonial suit. After we we were seated, our waiter (I forget his name now, but he had just moved to Hong Kong to work at New Punjab Club) brought over their gin cart for us to peruse. While we were waiting for our drinks, our waiter came by to explain the concept of the restaurant and the menu. He started by going over the different regions of cuisines offered at New Punjab Club and then went through the entire menu. It’s been awhile since I experienced this level of customer service in Hong Kong and it was incredibly refreshing and welcomed. Aside from the top-notch service, the decor is also very cool; a post-colonial vibe with large leather booths, dark wood tables, and large boisterous art throughout.

To Start Keema Pau – spiced mutton, milk bun (HK$118)

We started with the Keema Pau (HK$118) – a spiced mutton curry that you’re meant to eat with a milk bun. The fragrant curry was delicious and the milk buns were so damn good that we actually ordered a second plate of them (to be fair, the ratio of curry to bun wasn’t exactly equal).

Mains Roasted Sirloin Tandoori (HK$268) Mughal Room Makhani – braised chicken tikka, spiced tomato & Butter Naan (HK$148 & HK$48) Aloo gobhi – cauliflower, potatoes (HK$118)

We knew we wanted to try a dish from the tandoori section, as the tandoor ovens at New Punjab Club are the same ones co-founder Asim Hussain’s father used when he opened an Indian restaurant in the city many years ago. We opted for the Roasted Sirloin Tandoori (HK$268) with a burnt garlic chutney. Unfortunately, this wasn’t our favorite dish – the sirloin was very well done, making it a bit tough to chew. Thankfully, the Mughal Room Makhani (HK$148) made up for it. The large pieces of braised chicken tikka in a spiced tomato sauce were divine. After devouring the meat, we lapped up all the sauce with delicious pieces of Butter Naan (HK$48). We also ordered the Aloo Gobhi (HK$118) on the side, which was underwhelming considering the price tag.

Verdict

I had a really great time at New Punjab Club; partly because of the food and partly because of the service. Majority of the dishes were amazing (save for the sirloin tandoori and aloo gobhi), the presentation was great, and the service was bar none to anything I’ve seen in Hong Kong at a similar-priced restaurant. The atmosphere is fun, yet cool and classy. Overall, I would recommend checking out New Punjab Club if you’re looking for a fun date night or to catch up with a smaller group of friends.

New Punjab Club
34 Wyndham Street
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 2368 1223

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Thailand wasn’t my original plan for my Christmas holidays, but life threw a few curve balls my way and I had to look for an alternate vacation destination. I settled on Thailand, a country I’ve been to many times before, but never to Koh Samui. I spent a week there right before Christmas and had a love/hate relationship with the island. Half my time in Samui was spent at a wellness/yoga retreat in the south and the other half was spent in the popular area of Chaweng – two very different experiences. So, if you’re planning a trip to Thailand and wondering is Koh Samui worth visiting, read on to find out more about my experience.

The Good

I spent the first four days in Koh Samui in the south at Samahita Retreat where my days were filled with yoga, meditation, and eating healthy vegan food. Needless to say, it was amazing. I loved how relaxing and peaceful the environment was and I left feeling so refreshed. Afterwards, I made my way to Chaweng Beach for the next three days of my holidays before I flew back to Phuket.

For those that aren’t aware, Chaweng Beach is the largest and most tourist-heavy area of Koh Samui. I chose to stay in Chaweng for a few reasons: it was cheaper than the other areas of Samui, I was simply curious about the area I had heard so much about, and I wanted to have a different, more lively experience compared to the one I just had on my retreat.

The good things about staying in Chaweng is that everything is basically at your finger tips – the beach is big and quite nice, there’s a Family Mart or 7-11 at every turn (perfect for those Chang beer runs), plenty of beachfront hotels, and a plethora of restaurants and cheap massage shops. If you’re looking for a fun night out, Chaweng is where you want to be – we saw some great live cover bands and a few of the beach bars have nightly fire shows.

The Bad Hawkers on the beach

At the end of the day, there was nothing special or unique about Koh Samui (cue the hate-mail). Sure, if you’re just wanting to book a fancy hotel on the beach and stay there, it’s great.. but so are a million other places around South East Asia.

Plus, it ain’t cheap to get to: a round-trip flight from Hong Kong to Koh Samui is anywhere between HK$5,000 – $7,000 thanks to Bangkok Airway’s monopoly on the airport. Taxis are also quite expensive compared to other parts of Thailand – a 15 minute drive from the airport to Chaweng will cost you 300 THB and 900 THB to the south of the island.

While the beach itself is beautiful, I was constantly pestered by people trying to sell me trinkets; everything from inflatables and ice cream to sarongs and beach towels. Yes, I am fully aware they do this for a living and I completely respect their ability to hustle, but when it’s happening multiple times an hour and all I want to do is listen to the waves under the sun, it gets annoying.

Basically, the island has capitalized on the tourism industry, which is great in that it provides employment for many locals, but it also means that much of the island’s original beauty has been commercialized (as I’m sure we’ve all seen happen to so many other places around South East Asia).

Overall thoughts on whether Koh Samui is worth a visit

If you’re heading to Samui for a wellness or yoga retreat and don’t mind paying a million dollars to get there, I’d say definitely go for it. However, if you’re planning a trip to Samui because you think it’s a beautiful island oasis, you might want to think again. Instead, I might recommend somewhere like Koh Lanta or even Phi Phi if you’re wanting something a bit more lively.

That being said, I only spent time on my retreat, in Chaweng, and a bit of time in the north of the island to visit a bar for sunset drinks and a feast at a night market. I’m sure there are other parts of the island that are much more chilled out and tranquil, so it would definitely be worth it to look into alternative locations on Samui.

Obviously everyone has different opinions on a destination based on their expectations and experience, so feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt. I would never tell someone not to visit a place, rather, I think people should be aware of both perspectives on a destination instead of making a decision to visit somewhere based on all the insta-worthy photos out there.

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I’ll be honest – I had never really considered going on a retreat before. I’ve had friends who have done ones in various places throughout the world and they talked about juice cleanses and completely detoxifying their bodies (I’ll let you use your imagination there), and slightly bizarre treatments. Needless to say, they didn’t exactly sell it to me. That is until a friend told me about Samahita Retreat Koh Samui – a yoga, health, and all-around wellness center in Thailand. It sounded perfect for people looking for more of a general relaxing getaway, so I spent three days there and left feeling completely refreshed. Here’s what my experience was like..

Programs at Samahita Retreat Koh Samui

Before I get into my experience, I’ll quickly explain what Samahita Retreat is all about. Having been in the business for 15 years, though originally as a yoga-focused center, Samahita offers fixed and flexi-date programs that cater to every individual. The fixed programs usually happen when a guest teacher comes to Samahita or for teacher training courses. If you’re looking for something more flexible in terms of days and length of stay (minimum of three days), the flexi-date programs are perfect. The flexi-date programs available are YogaCoreCycle, Detox, De-stress, Weight Loss, and Wellness Spa. I opted for the Wellness Spa Program because it offered all the classes from YogaCoreCycle along with one spa treatment a day, ranging from massages to facials.

A tour of Samahita Retreat Samahita Retreat – from the outside Reception Walking into the center Meditation area Buddha & Ganesh Shala Cycle studio on the right, beachfront shala on the left Swimming pool

Samahita Retreat is located in the southern part of Koh Samui on Laem Sor Beach, about a 40 minute drive from the airport. The center is relatively small (it can accommodate up to 60 people and I think there was around 25 guests at the time I was there) and there’s a real earthy vibe to it. From the moment you step in, you’ll be surrounded by greenery, friendly smiles from the staff and other guests, and tranquility. Overall, I would use the word homey to describe Samahita Retreat Koh Samui.

As you walk through the grounds you’ll pass by their eco-friendly store, an outdoor meditation center, the Buddha and Ganesh Shala (where yoga and meditation take place), the spa, juice bar, steam room, dining area and buffet, swimming pool, cycle studio, and beachfront shala (where I did most of my morning yoga sessions). Though it may sound like there’s a lot going on, I still felt like I had my own space and the communal areas didn’t feel overly busy. Basically, you can be as social or as anti-social as you would like.

For my video tour of Samahita Retreat, click here.

Accommodation Walking into the living complex Entering my room Bedroom Bathroom

Accommodation at Samahita Retreat is comfortably simple: there is no television in the room and minimal decorations. The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was very spacious. The only drawback of the room was that the sliding door was a massive window, so I had to pull down the blinds in the evening.

For a video tour of my room at Samahita Retreat, click here.

Delicious vegetarian food Dining area Daily menu display Breakfast Lunch Lunch 2 Midday snack

There are two meal times at Samahita Retreat: 9:30 am – 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The food served is all vegetarian and is buffet-style, which I really liked. The menu for each meal is written on a large chalkboard and, though I’m not a vegetarian myself, I can honestly say I loved every single dish I tried (especially the curries and pizza!). If you’re doing Samahita’s Detox Program, there is a specific section of the buffet dedicated for you, although anyone at the center can eat that food as well. I walked away from each meal feeling completely satisfied – I actually had to stop myself from getting seconds and thirds a few times!

Aside from the food itself, the dining area has large communal tables, making it easy to meet other people. Or, if you’d prefer, you can head to a comfy couch and enjoy your meal solo.

Daily schedule – yoga, meditation, cycle Morning yoga in the beachfront shala Practising my Warrior II Cycle studio Relaxing on the beach

There is a weekly YogaCoreCycle schedule at Samahita Retreat and you’re welcome to join as many or as few classes as you’d like (there are 6 – 7 classes each day). Personally, I loved starting my day with the 8:30 – 10:30 am Dynamic Centered Yoga followed by a late breakfast. Then, I would relax by the pool or head down to the beach with a book for a few hours until the Core Fitness class at 4:00  pm followed by a Fun Cycle at 4:30 pm. There are also a few off-site activities throughout the week: a temple walk on Tuesday, a snorkeling boat trip on Wednesday, and a night visit to two different walking streets on Friday and Saturday. My program also included a 1-hour massage (honestly some of the best massages I’ve had in my life) and a 30-minute sauna session each day.

Overall thoughts on Samahita Retreat

From the yoga classes and friendly staff to the fantastic food and life-changing massages, I loved my time at Samahita Retreat. I was only there for four days/three nights, and I will say that it wasn’t until the third day that I really started to feel relaxed and get into the whole thing. If possible, I would recommend booking your stay for a minimum of five days. I left Samahita Retreat feeling refreshed, healthy, and positive – I would definitely go back in a heartbeat. The only thing I didn’t expect before arriving was that there would be small children there. While I would have preferred to not see kids running around, I do understand that Samahita wants to create a family-like feeling.

Samahita Retreat Koh Samui
55/20-24 Moo 4 T. Namuang 
Koh Samui Surat Thani 84140
Thailand

Tel: +66 (0) 77 920 090

My stay at Samahita Retreat was on a complimentary basis.  As always, all views and opinions are sincerely my own. 

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Being the massive food-lover that I am, I was excited to check out the Koh Samui night market tour after my very healthy wellness retreat. The tour, arranged through Flight Centre Hong Kong, began with a drive up to the north of the island where we ordered a cocktail and watched the sun slowly set in front of us. Afterwards, we made our way to Bophut for the night market tour (the location of the market changes depending on the day you book the tour) to feast on local delights.

Sunset drinks

My tour guide picked me up at 5:30 pm and we took a 20~minute drive from Chaweng up to Sunset Garden Bar, a funky and chilled our bar just north of the airport. The unobstructed views of the sunset were perfect, though I wish we had arrived a tad earlier to enjoy the experience a little longer. You can order any drink off the menu (one drink was included in the tour), so I went with a classic piña colada which tasted as good as it looked.

Eating our way through the night market Entrance to the night market in Bophut Starting off with an appetizer of insects A wide range of Thai food I can never resist a plate of pad thai Slightly sweet, grilled bananas Traditional Thai dessert of sticky rice and coconut Coconut ice cream The market

After about 30 minutes, we made our way to the Bophut Night Market. My tour guide, Tok, took me around and explained the different local foods. Since I’ve traveled to Thailand many times before, I was quite familiar with most dishes being served, but there were a few things I’ve never tried before. Tok convinced me to try silk worms, saying they were good for you and were quite tasty. Since I’m fairly open to trying new foods, I went for it. There was a light seasoning on them, which added a bit of flavor. In terms of texture, it almost felt like I was eating chickpeas. I didn’t mind eating a handful, but gave the rest to Tok for him to enjoy.

I also hadn’t tried the slightly sweet dessert of sticky rice, condensed milk, and coconut that was wrapped in a leaf and grilled. This was probably one of my favorite foods of the evening. The prices for food ranged from THB10 – 60, but everything we ate (and we ate a lot) was included in the tour. Aside from the food, I had a chance to browse around the other part of the market and ended up buying a few colorful scarves to add to my (already way too big) collection at home.

So, should you go on the Koh Samui night market tour?

I really loved the first part of the tour – heading to the northern part of the island to catch the sunset with a refreshing drink in hand was truly perfect and something I wouldn’t have done by myself. My guide was lovely and helpful, but there really wasn’t anything special about the night market portion – I could have easily done this on my own instead of paying for a tour guide. That being said, you might find a guide much more helpful if you’re less experienced with Thai food.

Where to book the tour

I booked this tour through Flight Centre Hong Kong before arriving in Koh Samui, so everything was taken care of ahead of time. Flight Centre can literally plan your whole trip: flight, accommodation, and tours, making it a simple and fuss-free experience. They have locations in Central, Happy Valley, and Wan Chai in Hong Kong, or you can call them at +852 2830 2899.

Visit flightcentre.com.hk for more information!

More information about the tour

Time: 
5:30 – 8:00 pm (there was really no set end time – the guide brought me back to my hotel when I had enough of walking around and stuffing my face).

Date:
Thursday, Friday, Sunday

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Curry Bay Private Kitchen is all about regional Indian cuisine with a modern touch. The three ladies behind Curry Bay – Rashmi, Deepali, Iena – have ensured that the food is clean, fresh, and “homely”. As each dish arrived at our table, one of the ladies explained the ingredients used, the region the dish came from, and answered any questions us curious diners had. The sample menus can be modified to include your favorite Indian dishes and the ladies are more than happy to accommodate vegetarians. The kitchen is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 6:00 pm – 12:00 am.

Vibe at Curry Bay Private Kitchen

Although the private kitchen was a bit difficult to find (there’s no signage), the space is quite intimate with a large open kitchen so you can see each dish being put together. The dining area can seat up to 14 people for a 5-course regional Indian tasting menu or up to 35 people for a canape evening. The venue is BYOB, which always makes dining out more fun, not to mention saving your wallet from a bit of a battering.

5-course Indian Menu Roadside Churmuri Chaat Disc Indiana

We began with the Roadside Churmuri Chaat – dough crisps, tangy chutney, potatoes, and pomegranate. This popular street food in India set the tone for our meal. Each bite had a variety of textures and flavors that complimented each other perfectly. We were served the Disc Indiana next – minced chicken discs with mint yogurt sauce and an avocado and pineapple salsa. Although the presentation wasn’t exactly wow-worthy, this dish was delicious. The chicken discs were soft, without crumbling apart when I cut into them, and the salsa was a refreshing addition.

Wickedly Pickled Chennai Special

For the mains, we began with Wickedly Pickled – chicken in pickling spices with fried okra and minced cottage cheese, pea curry, and tomato salsa with multi-grain naan. I was surprised with how much I liked the chicken curry, since I’ve never been a huge fan of okra. The cottage cheese curry was also fantastic. Despite feeling quite full at this point, I polished off the Chennai Special – madras salmon curry with fragrant vermicelli. Normally, I wouldn’t order a seafood curry when dining at an Indian restaurant, but this dish was delicious and the addition of vermicelli as opposed to rice was an interesting change.

The Sweet Ending

We finished our private kitchen experience with The Sweet Ending – baked yogurt, strawberry, and pistachio, and carrot halva tarts with salted caramel. Both were amazing, though I was especially surprised at how much I enjoyed the tart. Along with dessert, we enjoyed a warm glass of masala chai.

Verdict

To put it simply, I had a great time dining at Curry Bay Private Kitchen. The staff were welcoming, and each dish from the menu was intricately assembled and full of flavor. I especially liked that each course offered a dish from a different region in India, and was explained to us as it was served. The 5-course set menu is priced at HK$500 per person with a minimum spend of HK$5000.

Curry Bay Private Kitchen 
Wan Chai 

For inquiries or to make a booking, click here.

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