Tale of two cities

ONCE again, my work has taken me to two amazing cities in the span of a week: Taipei and Bangkok.

Both are cities that I love … filled with friendly people and yummy food. Although I was only able to spend two nights at each destination, that didn’t stop me from trying to squeeze in a bit of play!

I had already visited Taipei earlier this year to celebrate my birthday; the city left a wonderful impression on my friends and I. One of the things I love about Taipei is how polite everyone is, which is quite unusual for bustling cities, so I was excited to go back.

I had been invited to participate in the Taipei InStyle trade fair, and my team from Melinda Looi International was there early to set up our booth to exhibit our latest Spring Summer 2014 collection.

In the short time that we were there, we managed to meet buyers from Britain, the Middle East, Japan, Australia as well as others from around Asia. It was a good experience as meeting new buyers is always a positive way of finding out what they are looking for.

Besides work, I managed to take the evening off to meet up with my Taiwanese friends at the famous Ma Lak restaurant for their famous hot and spicy steamboat. Many of my colleagues had not been to Taipei before and I thought it would be a good experience for them. This restaurant is in such demand that customers are only allowed to dine for a maximum of one-and-a-half hours. Although this put us in rush mode, it was quite funny trying to eat and catch up on each other’s lives within such a limited time!

The second night was spent exploring a night market, which is great to buy bits and pieces, especially children’s shoes. I also managed to acquire two whole bags full of yummy snacks in the two days that I was in Taipei. As before, I was struck by the general air of friendliness and just wished I had more time to show my colleagues around a bit. However, it was on to Bangkok!

Bangkok doesn’t really need much introduction, does it? This spectacular city is definitely at the top of my list of favourite Asian cities.

The trip this time was a press conference for the Bangkok International Fashion Week 2013 by Siam Paragon. I must say, I applaud how they do things. Not only are the Thais super creative, but they are also incredibly well-organised. It was quite something to be able to showcase together with the best of the best on one stage!

I have always wanted to get to know the designers behind amazing brands and during this trip, I was lucky enough to have that opportunity. It’s really a blessing in this industry to be able to meet and learn from renowned experts. The organisers also spoilt me rotten … I was put up at the Siam Kempinski Hotel for the two nights I was in Bangkok. It was an excellent experience; I felt like I was in a hotel by the ocean because of its wonderful pools and resort-like atmosphere despite being in the heart of the bustling madness that is Bangkok.

The city once again lived up to all my expectations – from the horrendous traffic (that drove me nuts!) to probably the best food I have ever had in my life. It’s the intermingling of opposites that makes Bangkok one of the most interesting cities I have had the pleasure to experience.

My uncle and his family (from Bangkok) took me to the top floor of Siam Paragon to a restaurant called Laem Cha- Roen Seafood, which serves the best Thai food I have ever had. I’m not a fan of fried fish, but their signature fish dish and green chilli sauce was to die for! I have to also say that their tomyam was delicious; I wish I could eat such rich food every day. Bangkok, I will be back again next week for my show!

I could go on and on about the brilliant time I had in Taipei and Bangkok but I must focus and continue working on my couture collection show pieces to make sure that I represent Malaysia, and the people who have supported me, well at the upcoming show.

I hope everyone has a good November ahead. How time flies!

Mel’s Place is a fortnightly column by Melinda Looi for The Star newspaper.

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