I’ve been living in Singapore for almost 10 years now and I’ve probably mentioned this before, but not a whole lot happens here. Sure, it’s a great place to live and extremely safe, however, most things that are fun are either exceptionally expensive or just straight out illegal. Hardly any bands tour here, movies and TV shows are censored, you are even blocked from buying records from ebay.com that are deemed offensive! I once tried to buy an old, beaten up, albeit cheap copy of Blag Flag’s Nervous Breakdown e.p., but the sale was blocked because some punk dude back in the day had scribbled a swastika on it.
But there are also a ton of things to love about living here and one of the main ones is how convenient it is to travel around the area, something we do a lot. If I were still living in Melbourne, you could tack an extra seven or eight hours on to the flight-time for any trip that we make, so for most people back in Australia, a trip to stay at a resort in Phuket, Thailand is something you could do maybe once a year at most, whereas it is only a 90-minute flight from here. This might make me seem like a spoilt bastard, and I guess in many ways I am now, but when Anna initially asked me a few weeks ago if I wanted to come on a trip that she had planned with a few friends just to hang out in a villa in Thailand, I had to think about it at first. It’s not that I didn’t want be able to sit in a private 5-star resort with personal chef’s and masseuses, complimented by unlimited day-drinking and our own pool, it was more the process of getting there that made me apprehensive. In 1994, an Australian band called Dave Graney ‘n’ the Coral Snakes released an album titled You Wanna Be There But You Don’t Wanna Travel and until several years ago, the title never made any sense to me. Now I totally get it. We have been doing a lot of traveling over the past decade, but especially in the last three years as Anna has become more respected in the field of ophthalmology, and the idea of going to the airport, dealing with all of the hassles of flying and airport staff on power-trips, coupled with the physical pain I go through when sitting on a plane just made me shudder, especially when we have some very long trips coming up over the next few months. Also, there were four other people going on the trip besides Anna and myself, three of whom are doctors and when the medical-talk starts, it can sometimes take a long time to end and I just can’t contribute to the conversation. That, and hearing medical horror stories just scares the crap out of me.
On the other hand, there was day-drinking and Thai food, plus it was only a short flight. Screw it, let’s do it.
Friday, October 13, 2017
I understand that Friday 13 is supposed to be an ominous day to do anything, but I’m not a superstitious person, everyone loves Fridays and hates Mondays so I have no problem with doing anything on Friday 13, although I’ve already shown in the past that a Monday 13 can suck!
Anna had Thursday and Friday afternoon off so we were flying out at 3.00pm and, factoring in the one-hour time difference, we’d land in Phuket at around four. I took Kermit down to the dog hotel, Anna arrived home and we made our way to Changi Airport. We checked in, laughed as some cleaners were kicking back and watching the flight info like it was the World Cup (right), had some lunch and boarded our flight. We arrived in Phuket hassle-free, no problems with immigration, Anna bought a couple of bottles of duty-free wine and when we went outside there was a chauffeur waiting to take us to the resort. Screw Friday 13, I had been checking the weather and, yes, it was supposed to be absolutely pissing down with rain and just constant thunderstorms the entire weekend, but if that is the arbitrary peanut in the turd, I think I can handle it.
The traffic was terrible and on our way to the resort we asked the driver if he could stop off so we could buy some beer along the way, but he told us that might be difficult for reasons that we completely forgot to even consider — It was exactly one year to the day since the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol the Great and alcohol was not technically allowed to be sold. We were last in Thailand in December of last year, less than two months after the King’s passing, and a lot of places still weren’t selling alcohol because, although citizens were asked to refrain from taking part in “joyful events” for 30 days immediately following his death, there was still an official mourning period of 12 months. I guess the one-year anniversary was going to be the same as that first 30 days and we didn’t want to be disrespectful. As for the traffic, that was people making their way to temples to pay their respects to the King. Our driver kept apologising profusely and explained that the major stores won’t sell any and, despite us reassuring him that it was okay and not his fault, he then began making phone calls to the resort and we soon pulled over to get petrol. Anna and myself looked around all the convenience stores there to see if any were selling, but to no avail. Looks like another entry in the ‘T-Factor‘ series.
We got back in the car and before long our driver received a call, he answered and then turned around and asked how many cases we would like. It turned out that the resort had manage to find a small store nearby that would sell beer to them and they wanted to know how much we wanted and if we would prefer Singha or Chang. “Two cases of Singha, please” was my reply. Take that, Friday 13!
It took about an hour due to the traffic, but we eventually arrived at our resort, Villa Yin:
Privately situated on an exclusive hillside estate near Kamala Beach, Yin is a five-bedroomed haven that blends modern Thai architecture into the lush forested hillside. As far as possible, the original tropical landscape has been left undisturbed, as can be witnessed by the three-metre boulder that juts up through one of the villa’s terraces. Captivating interiors are adorned with antiques from across Asia and a daring, carefully curated art collection featuring pieces as diverse as the instantly recognisable pop art of Andy Warhol to the compelling human struggles depicted by contemporary Chinese artist Shi Lifeng.
The villa comprises a series of pavilions that cascade down the hillside to offer fantastic sea views from every room, with stylish and comfortable furnishings providing inviting places to relax and entertain. The large, open-plan living and dining pavilion features a dark-wood peaked ceiling and black flooring but the tone is far from sombre with three walls of glass, fascinating art accents and plush leather sofas.
Villa Yin’s expansive terraces, including a sun-lounger-topped deck alongside the 18-metre pool, are picture-perfect spots to relax and unwind, or to stage an intimate wedding or special event. Other top-notch facilities include an outdoor dining area with built-in barbecue, a large sauna, a media room with projector screen, and a wine cellar.
The awe-inspiring king-bedded master suite, with its stunning artwork, enormous dressing room and exotic bathroom, will be coveted by couples, while two bright guest bedrooms offer private retreats with king-sized beds, ensuite bathrooms and ocean-view balconies. A guest pavilion with a king-bedded room and a living area that converts to a fifth bedroom, sits on the villa’s top level with superb views from its wide furnished deck area.
Guests at Villa Yin are treated to the service of a talented team of full-time staff including a friendly and efficient manager and Thai chef. Dining is an absolute delight here; mouth-watering meals are served with flair by the skilled chef. If you wish to explore the island, your villa manager will be happy to help you book golf tee-off times, yacht trips or dinner reservations, or to hire a taxi to take you to the nearby beaches of Kamala or Patong.
I think we can handle that for a weekend and Anna and myself had the master-suite! This place was enormous, too, the main lounge area was larger than our entire apartment in Singapore and our place is considered quite big. We had a little bit of time to explore, but it was dark and raining outside. The villa itself is 750 m² (8,073 ft²) and to get to our room we had to walk through the main living area and kitchen, past the pool, go downstairs through the cinema, walk past the other bedrooms and the sauna and finally we were at our suite. The suite consisted of an office, a bathroom with two rainforest showers and huge bath, and two toilets facing each other. Yes, they were in their own rooms, but if we were so inclined, we could both sit there face-to-face with the doors open and have a chat during our most private moments. After the bathroom there was a massive walk-in wardrobe with motorised cabinets and shoe-closets, however, I only brought a few t-shirts, some shorts and a bunch of underwear with me so it was kind of redundant. Once in the bedroom we were in luxury, however, the only thing that bothered me was that there was a huge window up near the ceiling that had no curtains or blinds, meaning that it would be really bright early in the morning and I’m not much of a morning person. Fortunately, I had my eye-mask from the plane so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Take a look around (most of these were taken the following day because it was already dark when we got there):
We dumped our bags in our room, I cracked a beer, Anna and Elaine had some wine, the others grabbed a scotch and soon it was time for dinner. When the website described the food here as “an absolute delight,” that was selling themselves a little short. We were served fresh fish, crabs, tom yum soup, pad thai, and vegetables, all freshly cooked in front of us in the villa’s kitchen. It was at that point that we knew we would more than likely not just be drinking too much on this trip, but horrendously overeating as well. Anna’s colleague, Yvonne, got in a little later that night as she was working late, but there was still plenty of food and drink when she arrived.
When dinner was done, we got comfortable, put on some music and just drank and chatted for the rest of the night while the rain came in at a 45-degree angle and belted the windows, thunder cracking in the background.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
It was our only full day here and my greatest fear became a reality; my eye-mask slipped off during the night and both Anna and myself were wide awake at 7:30am due to the light coming in through that window. I managed to get back to sleep, but it was that feeling where you’re not really awake, but not totally asleep either until you manage to snap out of it, which happened to me at again about 9:00am. I watched a bit of a pre-season NBA game in our room for a bit before joining the others for a huge breakfast of sausages, bacon, an omelette, and soup noodles with chicken.
When breakfast was done, the others had arranged massages and champagne at midday that would last for two hours, followed by lunch. I can’t stand people touching me, thus I don’t like massages so I sat in the cinema room and read a book the entire time, although I did surface to join them at one stage, however, they were all laying face-down and topless so, to avoid seeming creepy, I went straight back down the stairs and continued reading until it was time for lunch.
Lunch was spectacular again, although we had to ask them to cook about half as much as they were going to, especially when you consider that I don’t usually eat breakfast. The bulk of the afternoon was just thunderstorms, but as soon as they let up we immediately went outside. Anna, Yvonne, and Elaine jumped straight in the pool, I just kicked around on the porch because I can’t swim, and Emily and her boyfriend, Jun Ming, went and took a nap for the afternoon. Definitely a great way of unwinding, but we knew those storms would be back soon and we weren’t wrong:
The storms returned, but soon it was time to eat again anyway, so we came back in. Anna, in typical form, may have gone a little too hard too early and struggled to keep her eyes open during dinner. This isn’t unusual, rather it’s kind of expected. It happened when we were in a Michelin-star restaurant in São Paulo, Brazil and it’s just part of the routine every time we go to my mate Owen‘s place for his Boxing Day party whenever we’re back in Australia for Christmas. In fact, his mother now just sets up a place for her to sleep in advance. In this case it was nothing a two-hour power nap on the couch could’t take care of, then she was back onboard again.
The rest of the night was the same as the previous, just chatting, listening to music, drinking, all interspersed with the occasional bout of improvised interpretative dance from myself when a song that is so bad that it’s good, ie. George Michael’s Careless Whisper, came on.
It got to about midnight, we’d all been partying since the morning and we knew it would be hard to sleep in with that window in our room so it was time to call it a night.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
As expected, the light woke us up early, Anna still recovering from the nightmares she had when she awoke earlier to see me with my eye-mask twisted around, leaving weird lines across my face. She and the others had breakfast, but I decided to just try and sleep a little longer. Our flight was at around 3.30pm, which meant we would have to leave Villa Yin at about 12.30, something we managed to pull off and successfully make our way back to Singapore.
Thanks to all the staff at Villa Yin for giving us such a great weekend away and to Yvonne for finding this place! If you get the opportunity, definitely treat yourself and stay there. I have a feeling we’ll all be doing it again.