Category Archives: Travel


verb \ˈtra-vəl\ : to go on a trip or journey : to go to a place and especially one that is far away

Talk about where we go, how we get there, and the awesome stuff we do while there!

To check out some of the other great photos from our destinations click here.

Castle in the Cove

After an 8-hour train ride through the jungles of Malaysia we were ready to hit our next stop on the trip, Singapore. Even though we heard Singapore was “just another big city” we were excited to check out this futuristic hub of the world.

The first thing I do when I plan a trip to a big city: see if there is a W Hotel around. And, the second thing I do, without question: book a room at that exact property. Sure enough when I booked our Singapore trip I was lucky enough to find that the W Singapore Sentosa Cove had just come online — and moments later I was already confirmed!

Upon our arrival to the W we were given a very warm welcome by the W team and were treated like royalty almost instantly. I don’t know what it is, but it just seems that the W brand “get’s me”. They always say all the right things, go the extra mile to make you happy, and when you think you know what to expect they come at you with a unique combination of personalities, added perks, and, most of all, world class service.

Checking into Sentosa Cove proved to be much more than checking into just another hotel. The W Insider team transformed our trip to Singapore into something that we hadn’t experienced yet in Asia. They not only helped us see Singapore as the locals do, but they even took us under their wings to adventure through the city with actual locals. They showed us Singapore’s fantastic nightlife scene from unforgettable restaurants and food to the best nightclub spots and, oh yeah, karaoke! I’m not a big karaoke fan, but let’s just say, I didn’t have a voice when we left Singapore.

To go along with such a personalized itinerary, the W was also able to satisfy my foodie alter-ego while I was still on the property. I was lucky enough to be able to sit down for lunch with some of the Digital Marketing Team, and not only were they very hospitable, but the chef came and joined us for lunch as well!

As the chef sat down at the table with us he showcased what his kitchen had to offer. I may be a bit jaded after such an extravagant lunch, but this was some of the best food I had all trip. We had an amazing selection of house specialties followed by some spectacular deserts and me rolling out of the restaurant. Remember those unexpected moments I spoke about earlier, well this was a very welcomed one! 🙂

To this point our stop in Singapore had been better than we ever expected, and it was about to get even better with the addition of the one and only. As she came to meet us at the W, prior to us relocating to the Marina Bay Sands, we had the insiders help us with planning a surprise for her arrival.

The Marina Bay Sands is thought to be one of the most prestigious places to stay in the world. With its one of a kind pools sitting atop its three towers looking over the city it is definitely a site to see, however, that is it. If you ask me, it is JUST a site to see like anything else. Go there, stay a night check out the pool, then go somewhere else, ahem, the W Sentosa Cova.

To sum it up, you pay an exorbitant amount of money to stay in the Marina Bay Sands to feel like you are just on an overcrowded cruise ship 24/7. The service, horrible, accommodations (for what you pay for), horrible as well. Literally the only thing of value here is the pool you can experience everything else the hotel has to offer by not staying there.

Fast forward 4 nights and a few thousand wasted dollars later — we checked straight back into the W for a night prior to heading over to Phuket, Thailand.

I went into this trip thinking that Singapore would be one of my favorite destinations, and sure enough it came out on top. I do not know if it was because the city itself necessarily out shined the other destinations we visited, or if it was just the memories we created while there, but I will absolutely 100% return and will not hesitate to stay in the W upon my return.

Miss-ing Saigon, by: Papa Rangel

May 25th On my way back to Ho Chi Minh City on the last leg of my journey.  While I’m incredibly excited to go back home to my wife I find myself saddened to leave the boys to continue on with their travels.  To say that these last two weeks have been an adventure would be the understatement of understatements.  It feels like the past 2 weeks have been surreal — kind of like a blur.

**Flash back sequence**

May 10 – We started in the north of Vietnam and slowly worked our way south. The differences between Hanoi and Saigon were stark to say the least.  You could feel the frenetic energy in Saigon, the restaurants, art galleries, clothing tailors, and the nightlife.

May 16 – Our first day in Saigon was an all day tour starting out with the former South Vietnam presidential palace equipped with the war rooms and command centers in the basement to the residential suites for foreign dignitaries once visited by Richard Nixon.

Our tour guide was a gentleman by the name of Giao Chau from Buffalo Tours who had a strong command of the English language and was able to articulate a lot of the history and culture of Vietnam. Giao made our stay in Saigon very memorable as we felt like we had our own personal valet.

We were fortunate enough to see most of the highlights of the city in our first full day. You couldn’t help but notice the wide tree lined boulevards in and around the town. The center of Saigon kind of had a hint of Paris to it. Get it? Vietnam was once a French colony.

Saigon also had the very hi-end shops, which made Gesy, the Brazilian Princess, feel very much at home.  You had shops like Hermes, Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier. (Please ask Gesy for the list of fine shops, she had committed to memory) I’m wondering whether her afternoon shopping spree, or as I would describe it an injection of monetary stimulus into their local economy, will be reflected in next quarter’s Vietnamese retail sales and local GDP figures. It was funny to see that every time she left one of these fine shops Gesy was able to leave members of the staff with a lasting smile. I leave it to Gesy to be a team player and for being a solid supporter of the local economy where ever that might be.

May 17 – we started to make our way to the Mekong River delta about a 3-hour drive away from the city. We were fortunate to have our air-conditioned van equipped with a wifi hotspot, which made the long drive a bit more enjoyable. The scenery was beautiful and I lost count of how many rice paddies we went by.

We arrived at the Mekong River Delta where we boarded our, let’s say, 27-foot very basic floating vessel. I was amazed at the floating villages, open markets, and even local art galleries. One small point their local art galleries are nothing like we are use to in the United States: trust me it adds to the adventure. However, on a small note, I did learn how rice cakes were made.

One of the day’s highlights was when Michael launched his aerial camera drone. The locals were coming out of their floating homes just to see this unidentified object flying through the air — technology like this has never made it to this far corner of the world and my boys were able to create some unforgettable moments for a lot of people that day.  The children jumping up and down just waving at the drone not really knowing what it actually was.

We eventually transferred to two smaller boats to take in the jungles of the Mekong. Imagine a shallow undeveloped Venice where there was nothing but lush jungle for as far as the eye could see. After we disembarked from these small vessels we got back into our van where we traveled back to the ‘comforts’ of our Saigon hotel.

We had gone pretty deep into what Vietnam had to offer, but nothing had prepared us for Cambodia. Stay tuned.

Like Father, Like Sons

Getting caught in everyday life back home can be overwhelming — commuting to a job, paying bills, tending to responsibilities, upholding ‘social status’, dealing with friends… Once in a while we just need a break from it all where we are able to detach and really re-charge the batteries, but in a different sort of way that just another vacation cannot do for you, and that is exactly what my dad came to do.

Here I am half way around the world — traveling around Asia from country to country, visiting more airports than hotels, being lost more often than knowing where I am or how to get back home, all while armed with my backpack and camera. It has been one of the most revitalizing experiences of my life.

I have always traveled, I have been privileged enough to travel often, and I have really gotten this travel bug from my father. He is by far my biggest role model and someone who I aspire to be each and everyday. Well, my father just joined us on our adventure in Vietnam; he packed his bags and traveled half way around the world to join us.

So, without further ado, I wanted to welcome our pinch-hitting blogger, Luis Rangel.

China’s “Showpiece”: Shanghai

In the last two decades this city has been one of the fastest developing cities in the world and for good reason. Shanghai is ranked as the city with the highest population in the world based on city proper. The population hovers over 24 million, about 3x New York City, and has a large international presence. It was not foreign to see people from three different continents sitting next to you while at a dinner singing Frank Sinatra.

The city is so large that it can appeal to anyone. If you like clubs, Shanghai has them. Are you a foodie? Good, because there is almost an infinite number of restaurants. The quiet type? Well, thankfully the city is littered with cafes and coffee shops which cater to the avid reader. Culture enthusiast? Even though it is a very modern city, Shanghai has plenty of historic sites to take advantage of. All work no play? Partake in the booming economy of mainland China’s financial hub. Whatever your interest, Shanghai caters to it.

All in all, Shanghai does not leave much to be desired.

Video: Flying High On The Great Wall

We did the Great Wall like no one has ever done before — check out the video, and let me know what you think. Onwards and Upwards!

Emperors of the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is one of the biggest hotspots of Beijing sightseeing, and we were lucky enough to visit it during a Chinese holiday, a.k.a the busiest Forbidden City day of the year with over 60,000 people walking through the gates.  The city was built around 600 years ago, and was used to house the ancient emperors of Chinese history, as well as their millions of concubines.  Not only do you get to see where the emperors lived, but you get to BE an emperor as well!  At one point during the tour, you get to be dressed up as ancient Chinese emperors and concubines, and, for some reason, I was dressed up as the lowly man-servant.  I was the only man-servant in all of the forbidden city with my little rat-tail hat, and I was left alone while the rest of the crew had everyone in China taking pictures with them.