Celebrating a Lifetime of Friendship – The Bestie Getaway

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Eugene and Allan visiting me in Holland.

Eugene and Allan visiting me in Holland.

Allan and Eugene. They’re the best and closest friends I have. We met when we were six-years-old; we lived in the same neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur and attended the same school. Our friendship grew as we had lots in common and we shared countless precious moments together: joy and laughter, family tribulations and our own growing pains. We didn’t know it then but these moments were the foundation of a solid friendship that would last 30-odd years (and counting). Our ties hardly waned even when Eugene and his family moved to Canada when he was 16 and I later moved to Amsterdam. Separated by thousands of miles, we kept in touch through the years via letters and phone calls, and more recently via social media. We also always made it a point to meet at least once every one or two years, either in Vancouver, Amsterdam or Kuala Lumpur. We often coordinate our travels to be in a certain place at the same time, and we would take off on a trip together, just the three of us, without our partners, to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. These bestie getaways are always a highlight of my year, and through the years, we’ve seen many places together and shared many laughs and tears.

When I was approached by The Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts to contribute a post about travelling to celebrate special moments, the first thing that came to mind was the string of unforgettable bestie getaways I have enjoyed over the years. The Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts welcome thousands of guests every day at their properties around the world, and help their guests celebrate these special moments. I can certainly concur as The Ritz-Carlton, with its exceptional standards in accommodations, facilities, food and service, is one of my favourite hotel brands. In fact, one of my most unforgettable bestie getaways was spent at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel! Looking back at the dozens of trips Allan, Eugene and I have been on together, I’ve realised that some of them took place at a turning point in our lives. The moments we spent together expressing our joy and frustrations, celebrating an event like a birthday or New Year’s Eve, sharing our achievements, or ironing out differences from the past, are the ones I cherish most. These moments, and the laughter shared, are the ropes that bind us and which have helped us grow as individuals, together.

Six Unforgettable Bestie Getaways

Krabi

This trip to Krabi, Thailand, has a special place in my heart. I’d just left the banking world after ten years and I was at the start of my round-the-world trip. Allan was very much settled, with a flourishing business in Kuala Lumpur, while I found myself facing an uncertain future and a personality I didn’t much like (molded by years in the rat race). We spent several days in Krabi enjoying the beach and going on trips to the nearby islands. Our lengthy, often emotional chats about my passions, what I didn’t like about myself and what motivates me helped open my eyes and mind to a multitude of possibilities.

One of the things we did was this boat trip from Krabi to Phi Phi island.

One of the things we did was this boat trip from Krabi to Phi Phi island.

Allan and me with our paper lantern.

Allan and me with our paper lantern.

One evening, after dinner, we went for a walk along the beach boulevard and had some ice cream. Earlier that evening, Allan had bought several paper lanterns from a street vendor. He explained that these lanterns were used during a certain festival in Thailand. People would write their wishes and prayers on the lanterns, light a small burner inside and release them as the lanterns filled up with hot air. Intrigued by this idea, we bought one and each scribbled our wishes on the lantern. I made several wishes: a safe trip, a bright future, everlasting friendships and a ‘new’ me.

We then walked out to the beach and lit our lantern. We let it go and the lantern drifted upwards. Silenced by this magical moment, we huddled together and watched as our paper lantern gently floated away, carrying with it our wishes to the heavens above. We stood there on the beach, transfixed for several minutes, watching until our lantern was so far up that it resembled one of the many stars in the sky. I will never forget this enchanting sight – I don’t think either of us will.

Bali

Allan, Eugene and I absolutely love Bali and we make it a point to choose the ‘Island of Gods’ for our bestie getaway every few years. Eugene and I both have family in Malaysia so we always coordinate our trips to Kuala Lumpur in order to spend time together with Allan, who lives there. From Kuala Lumpur, it’s a short flight to many city or beach destinations in Southeast Asia, and Bali is one of our favourites!

We spent lots of time drinking cold beers at the beach and watching the sunsets!

We spent lots of time drinking cold beers at the beach and watching the sunsets!

We would spend some time at the pool or beach, then hire a car or a scooter to explore the island. The latter mode of transport didn’t go down too well with Eugene though on our last trip there; he crashed the scooter into a wall less than a hundred yards from the pick-up point! Allan and I couldn’t stop laughing and poor Eugene had to endure our cruel jokes for the rest of the trip!

Clowning around during a jungle walk in Bali.

Clowning around during a jungle walk in Bali. This was after Eugene’s scooter incident. Haha!

Budapest

Allan was in Budapest, Hungary, and he asked me to join him there. I knew from the tone of his voice that something wasn’t quite right so I took some time off from work and spent a weekend with him in this stunning city. I soon found out what was bothering him as we walked along the banks of the Danube. He was going through a rough patch with his partner and needed to talk to someone. I listened intently as he poured his heart out, offering some words of advice in between. This was all he needed.

budapest-photo

Budapest

The rest of the weekend was spent exploring Budapest and I could tell that he felt so much better. It made me realise that sometimes, all one needs is an ear and a shoulder to cry on, and he knew he could count on me. Moreover, being in a city filled with such beauty and adventure certainly helped!

cafe-new-york-budapest

We had a lovely lunch at Cafe New York in Budapest, arguably one of the grandest cafes I’ve ever been to!

Kuala Lumpur

pillow-ritz-carlton-kuala-lumpur

My initials (KJ) were embroidered onto the pillow cases!

This is one of the most fun, unforgettable getaways we’ve had. Eugene and I had planned to be in Kuala Lumpur at the same time. I booked a suite at the The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur and invited both Eugene and Allan to join me for a day at the hotel. We had a terrific lunch before heading for the spa for a massage. That evening, we stayed in my suite, chatting, laughing and watching movies as the butler brought food and wines for our en-suite picnic! Allan and Eugene were visibly impressed with the turndown service, which included pillow covers with my initials embroidered on them and macarons.

Hong Kong

I was in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate Christmas with my family when Allan invited me to accompany him to Hong Kong to usher in the New Year. Inspired by our little party at the The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, Allan booked a Harbour-view room at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong with phenomenal views of Victoria Harbour and the awe-inspiring skyline of Hong Kong!

The view from the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong.

The view from the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

We spent two days catching up with one another as we feasted our way through Hong Kong! At midnight on New Year’s Eve, we sipped champagne and toasted our friendship before watching the fireworks display above the harbour in amazement!

Barcelona

Having lots of fun in Sitges.

Having lots of fun in Sitges.

Eugene often makes it a point to celebrate my birthday with me in Amsterdam whenever he can (do you see why he’s my best friend?). On one occasion, he decided to tour around Europe with a good friend before coming to Amsterdam and he asked me to meet up with them in Barcelona. I absolutely love Catalonia so it didn’t take much for him to persuade me! What followed was a long weekend filled with wine, tapas and non-stop laughs on the beach! At the time, he was going through a career transition, something I’d experienced myself several years before. I knew exactly what he was going through and we spent a lot of time talking about his insecurities and the possibilities out there. The wines and fabulous food provided much-needed inspiration and looking back now, I’m convinced that he learned a lot from that trip.

Allan, Eugene and I have managed to stay close over the years in spite of the thousands of miles between us. Many things keep us together and our celebratory travel tradition is certainly one of them. These bestie getaways and the countless moments shared on them truly represent the glue that binds us. Hmm, I think it’s time to plan another bestie getaway! 🙂

Note: this post was brought to you in partnership with The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts.

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8 Responses to “Celebrating a Lifetime of Friendship – The Bestie Getaway”

  1. Keith Jenkins 25/08/2016 12:42 pm
    #

    Thanks Carmela for your kind offer! 🙂

  2. Carmela Alvarez 25/08/2016 2:25 am
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    Sounds great, Keith. I’m sure you will love it here! 🙂 Let me know if you’re coming so we can help/assist you here. See you soon!

  3. Keith Jenkins 24/08/2016 1:54 pm
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    Hi Carmela,
    I would love to visit Palawan one day, perhaps with my best friends! I’m sure we’ll have an amazing time there. I’ve heard so much about Palawan!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  4. Carmela Alvarez 24/08/2016 3:43 am
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    Nice post. That stunning rock behind the photo during your boat trip from Krabi to Phi Phi island is like the Big Lagoon in El Nido Palawan Philippines. You should visit
    us here too. 🙂 Happy travelling!

  5. Keith Jenkins 16/08/2016 11:31 am
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    Hi Janice,
    Thanks for your lovely comment! I’m so thankful to have such awesome besties! 🙂
    Café New York is stunning! I first stumbled upon it on my first trip to Budapest eons ago (my hotel was just around the corner) and it was an incredible experience! The place was a bit dilapidated and the service staff were all elderly gentlemen in crisp uniforms. Under the layers of dust and smoke stains, you could see how grand this place once was. The café (and adjacent hotel) were renovated some years ago and the café was restored to its former glory. Everything now looks polished but I’ll never forget that first visit! It’s still the most beautiful café I’ve ever been to! See: http://velvetescape.com/cafe-new-york-budapest/

    Cheers,
    Keith

  6. Sand In My Suitcase 15/08/2016 9:08 pm
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    Wow! How amazing – and special – that you’ve stayed friends all these years :-). We love the looks of Cafe New York in Budapest – very grand!

  7. Keith Jenkins 15/08/2016 3:55 pm
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    Thanks Rob! Travelling with friends really is a great way to keep friendships alive. It’s definitely one reason why Allan, Eugene and I have been so close all these years.

    Keith

  8. Rob Hermans 13/08/2016 10:30 am
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    Keith, what a great article! Combining Friendship and travelling.nice 🙂

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