Boarding Pass: Wanwisa Posner

You may remember Wanwisa Posner‘s photograph of a monastery in Bhutan that I posted a few weeks ago (it won her a free dream trip). Since then I’ve gained a new found fascination with Bhutan from reading The Geography of Bliss – it’s just one of the locations on author Eric Weiner’s quest for happiness around the world (btw, I’m totally LOVING this book right now). So when reading that she was able to arrange a special marriage blessing (she’s a wedding planner after all) during their honeymoon in Bhutan, I have an even greater appreciation of what an awesome experience that must have been. Read on for more great travel insight and recommendations from Wanwisa. . .
last trip taken:
A three-week trip to Oahu, Lanai, Kauai and Napa Valley.

Scariest hike ever in Bhutan (but see the picture from the hike that won her a FREE trip of her dreams here)

next trip on deck:
Hong Kong and The Maldives thanks to Conde Nast Traveler and Expedia

Lobby of Oriental Hotel in Bangkok

one place you would go back to again and again:
The Oriental Bangkok. There’s so much to do in Bangkok and it’s a great starting point for traveling elsewhere in Southeast Asia. The Oriental is the ultimate in luxury and because Bangkok is a very affordable city, luxury can be easy on the wallet. The Oriental is a destination on it’s own; my parents retired and moved to Bangkok in 2000 and my husband and I visit each year, we’ve seen everything so when we go, we have a blast just bumming around at the hotel. There are great restaurants at the hotel and an amazing spa and a lovely pool overlooking the Chao Phraya River, we don’t even need to venture outside of the hotel for a great time. As a foodie, The Oriental’s breakfast buffet is truly an amazing experience – even a couple of good friends who work at Thomas Keller’s restaurant, Per Se, agrees; we’ve had lengthy conversations about the amazing dim sum spread!

Favorite food in Napa and view in Kau’ai

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Napa Valley. I particularly love The Carneros Inn; a lovely cottage-style resort with a rustic-modern-farm design. It’s located just 20 minutes away from Yountville, a chic little town with some of the best restaurants in the world including The French Laundry.

preferred method of transportation:
Flying from NYC to Bangkok on a yearly basis, I’m used to long plane rides. I love them – I have a Starwood American Express card that has a great mileage (and hotel) program and has enabled me to upgrade to Business on most of my lengthy flights. There’s nothing more relaxing than knowing I have 17 hours to do nothing other than sleep and enjoy Business-class sundaes.

Custard buns at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
New Zealand. The variety and scope of the landscapes there are breathtaking. It’s definitely a must destination to go to before we start a family.

place you’d never go back:
Naples, Italy. We love Italy and my husband is a pizza junkie so we planned a 7 night stay during a two month grand tour of Europe there and had pizza from the place that claims itself as the “inventor” of this “working class” grub. It was a scary scary city to be in with very aggressive locals. I’m grateful for the experience but next time we go, we’ll stay elsewhere in the Almalfi coast.

New friend in Bhutan

most memorable trip:
Bhutan is an amazing place that reminds you how tiny you are and how grand the world is … both physically and spiritually. It is truly an awe-inspiring country in every way.

how do you prepare for a trip?
Lists, lots of lists and internet research. I obsess over tripadvisor.com reviews and concierge.com’s destination guides. If it’s a destination known for great food, I check out the Michelin list for that specific place.

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
My husband and I take lots and lots of photos. There’s hardly time to write my experiences in a journal. We keep restaurant receipts with details of what we ordered and sometimes ask for a menu. We also keep a box of tickets, museum stubs and maps we get from our hotel/resort. The maps, usually worn from unfolding and refolding and marked up with locations and sites we visit, are my favorite keepsakes.

Landscapes in Bhutan

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
We are really into landscapes and because we like to hike {even in cities like Rome, we hiked the “seven hills”} we always get a treat to some amazing high-up view of places we visit. It gives us a sense of the destination we’re visiting to see the closest thing to an aerial view of the place.

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
We average about 250 photos a day.

Lanai

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
Our Nikon D80 {we would love to upgrade to a D3 soon}, an exterior flash, a tripod for night time shots and panoramas, a laptop to load our daily shots on and my 120 GB Ipod to load backup files of our photos.

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
After I get over the fact that some amazing experience in my life has just ended, I upload a Flickr album. Sigh. Then I immediately start a list of possible near-future travels.

wedding blessing in Bhutan

what was your first travel experience?
My husband and I, high school sweethearts, planned our first “adult” trip at 17. We booked an American Airlines package to St. Lucia and stayed at Anse Chastenet. We had our first outrageously overpriced meal there – it was about $150 pp in 1998! The food was terrible even to our at-the-time undeveloped palettes so the next day we went to a “local” place with a giant man who went by the name “Red” that we met on the beach. Apparently Red was marketing this local joint to other couples at the resort but when he showed up to pick up the guests at the resort… we were the only two… we should have never gotten into that car with him but luckily we didn’t put ourselves in any danger. We ended up being the only customers, which is awkward enough, but Red also joined us at out table for a 2 plus hour meal {as New Yorkers, this was also our first experience of “island time”}. To top off the weirdness of it all, Red didn’t eat, he just sat there asking us how we liked out meal… the whole time!

circumnavigating Bora Bora

what makes a trip memorable for me?
We have learned from all our travels to really try to do something that would never show up on a resort’s activity list. Sure, there’s always eating at a local off-the-beaten-path hole-in-the-wall and pretend to be Anthony Bourdain {that seems to be everyone’s idea these days}; in search of something more, I’ve become really creative with planning out some kind of fantastical experience. In Bhutan, because we were on our honeymoon, I asked the concierge at Amankora Thimpu if they could arrange a “marriage” blessing at a temple for us… sure enough, they hooked us up with a very Holy Lama {one who is believed to be the 16th reincarnation of a very important Buddhist figure}. In Bora Bora, we contacted a local water-taxi company and rented one of their tiny motor boats to circumnavigate the entire lagoon by ourselves – we took breaks at snorkel spots, eat on the beach at a local burger place, and checked out all the lovely resorts throughout our little exploration. These experiences really help me feel “present” when traveling – it lifts that filter that “tourism” so often inflicts on travel experiences. For the Maldives, we are working with a travel agent to plan a “desert island” day… we’ll pretend we’re on Survivor except we’ll get a satellite phone to call someone to pick us up when we’re ready to head back to civilization.Thanks, Wanwisa!!!

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