Top Ten Aman Resorts


What is an Aman Resort?

Originally posted on The Tiny Traveller's Top Ten:

Consistently described as the best hotel chain in the world, Aman Resorts consists of 29 exclusive properties which, despite all being completely unique, share the brand’s core traits of outstanding service, small room numbers, world-class facilities and beautiful surroundings, whether those be forests, jungles, deserts, cities or snow-capped mountains. The most important shared trait of all Aman properties is the exquisite service; a beguiling combination of discretion and read-your-mind attentiveness, every need will be met before you even became aware of it. As if to counter the growing problem of luxury hotels the world over increasingly merging into mirror images of one another, Aman properties are unique in the way every resort sensitively interacts with its environs; the majority of staff are always from the surrounding areas, buildings are designed to echo traditional building styles and materials, food is a tasteful blend of Western and local and each property offers a range of cultural…

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Oh Bali, I Love You!


Awesome time in Bali!

Originally posted on amandina*:

Freshly minted with a vacation tan, don’t be jealous! ;)

PLUS we had a pro camera tagging along, courtesy of Cheryla, so we actually have non-blurry, non-filtered pictures to remember the good times! BIG kisses to my boyfriend who was so stressed at one point in time (teaching QM how to ride a bike, and pillion-ing two girls); and to the awesome girlfriends who made it so fun! <3 <3

We ate superbly, at La Lucciola, Warung Eny and Sardine. Unfortunately did not get a chance to try out new places this time round but I’ve heard Merah Putih along the same Jl. Petitenget is also excellent. Next time!

All picture credits to @lushxlife

Rolling around







Being cultural







Eating well




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What is Aman Resorts?

What is Aman Resorts?

Aman resorts is a boutique resort group pretty unknown in the United States.  In Asia, it’s a hidden jewel of the hotel world.  I first started hearing about the hotels among clients that would come down to Bali and buy expensive villas in my early days as a real estate agent.  The brand was admired in the way that rare wines or exotic cars are mentioned. 

Finding others who love Bali in America


I get a mixed bag of responses when I tell folks that I’ve been living in Bali for seven years. Its usually a “wow”, followed by a wry smile with a “So what have you been up to?”  I’m tempted to say that I was a surfer sex-fiend that partied everyday, ate mushrooms and tore my hair out while howling at the moon.  It’s the better story since I don’t think people quite believe me when I tell them I was building hotels, renting villas and raising a family.

The funny thing about living in paradise is that it’s not about lying on beaches and sipping daiquiris.   One must earn a living on a tropical island and work is not pleasant.  I always liked to remark that everything wrong about life in the California happened outside of work.  The opposite is true in Bali.  Everything wrong with life in Bali happened at work.

Work in Indonesia is broken.  When I worked selling villas, most of our time was spent waiting for customers.  Sometimes, days would roll by and not a single person would email, call or walk in the door.  When you’re living on 100% commission, there’s no benefit to having slow days.  I remember being stalled by the countless legal ambiguities and unreliable ‘legal professionals’ we’d rely on to button up paperwork. When I worked in construction, most days were spent chasing dishonest contractors or rejecting shoddy materials.   Most of the inefficiencies of working in Indonesia are absorbed in the form of low wages and brutal hours.

On the flip side, on good days at work, you’re absolutely on top of the world.  You’re really having your cake and eating it too.  You’re chilling at the finish line of the rat race with a fat bottle of champagne.

Honestly, most folks do admire this time I spent living in Bali.  However, we do quickly move onto other topics since Bali isn’t commonly visited by North Americans and inevitably my new friend agrees to visit me sometime in the future.

I found myself on a long car-ride up to Tomales Bay with another expat from Indonesia.  This guy had gotten the bug from working in Indonesia and ran into that same log-jam that I had.  We lamented the cultural divide, the corruption and the pollution.  We visited those themes that grumpy expats seem to love dwelling on.  Bitching is something expats do well but I had never heard it so well articulated.

I found myself jumping out of my seat in laughter and recognizing all the social taboos that I hadn’t realized before.  For example, a boss in Indonesia should not roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty.  He must stay cool, clean and remain above work assigned to subordinates.  I remembered the idea of division of labor according to caste and how this fit well into that construct.

What can I say, paradise works in strange ways.


Follow your dreams? Are u ready for the real world?

After seven years aboard, I’m surprised to find that some things have not changed.  I called it “quarter life crisis” and its  that disconnected feeling of ‘post-undergrad’. You want to set out and do something important with one’s life, but what and how?  I remember that feeling made me hop on a plane, travel the world and end up living in Bali for seven years.

I’ve recently had two chance encounters with graduates from my old high-school, Mission San Jose.  Both were over-achievers from families similar to mine.  Despite being very accomplished professionals, they were not completely satisfied with their current lives.  Part of me wants to inspire them but [art of me is still puzzled by my own life’s lessons.  I’m not sure I would want people to follow in my footsteps.  I told them my story and instead of thinking that I was a down-and-out loser, both seemed pretty inspired by my life choices.

I feel enormous empathy for these young professionals, newly minted from top schools and finding their first footing in the professional world.  I remember those first years out of college being so utterly confusing.  We had everything in the world: generous paychecks, cars, our own apartments, and pretty fulfilling work.  But there was something missing.  I wished that somebody would have told me what was going on, help me get through that phase in life.  Hopefully, I can be that someone for the new generation.

Here’s the bad news first.  You are in the Matrix.  The sum experiences of your education make you a docile, productive worker who can get things done with minimal supervision and complaint.  Your sense of self-worth has been conditioned to fluctuate depending on the opinions of your superiors.   Good job = Happy.  Bad Job = Sad.  That makes you easy to control. You’ll get paid but if you choose to hang your self-worth on the opinions of others, you’ll find it impossible to be “happy”.

I wanted to shout, scream and pull these noobs out of the Matrix, and show them that reality is beautiful and diverse.  There are greater and more beautiful things than a snazzy job in SF.  There are things that you won’t see here. You have to find them elsewhere and no one will show them to you.  To really pull ahead in life, you’ll have to take risks, break your habits, and dive into something new. You’ll grow new powers and discover so much about yourself.  You’ll end up living the way you want to live, inspire others, and find pure joy because you’ll be working towards your true goals.  Trust yourself and you’ll find a new and better way.

Another part of me wanted to warn them away from chasing crazy dreams.   Steve Jobs said “stay hungry, stay foolish.”  Until when Steve?  You don’t hear about entrepreneurs in their 40′s and still working in their parent’s garage.  That’s not cool.  But they exist or they’ve given up and are back in an office.  In dealing with the path less chosen, you might have to deal with some evil stuff that has no clear precedence.  You might have to take chances on people and be disappointed.  You have to have a healthy appetite for disappointment and still find endless strength to go on.  How could I tell anyone to go and chase crazy dreams when I’ve folded my hand and chosen to re-plug into the Matrix?

I might have not made it yet, but I’ve certainly acquired some wisdom.  Your mind makes the world what it is.  There’s no right way.  There’s no success even.  Degrees, honors and titles are illusions.  They work in the right context but ‘you’ decide what matters.  I’ve found legions of unhappy professionals with all the trappings of ‘success’ but none of that rich, good-feeling that it should come with.  On the flip side, I wonder how the bankrupt entrepreneur can keep her family happy, find new supporters, and get back on top again.  You are responsible for how you see this world.

This isn’t an easy concept to grasp and I remember struggling with it for a long time.  Its difficult because most over-achieving students are not “grading their own homework”.  We’re looking for external affirmation about our accomplishments.  Rewards, grades, scores let us know if we’re doing good or not.  The real world doesn’t work that way. Its really hard to grasp since we’ve been in educational institutions since birth.

You judge yourself in the real world.  Now that doesn’t mean you give yourself an A+ and you’re done.  Its one of the hardest things to do in fact.  A lot of people will relinquish their true goals for a paycheck and just not think about it.  It means you don’t just have to execute well, you have to know what to execute.  In fact, the top earners in the world are much better doing that second part than the first part.  Schooling teaches you the first really well, but not a lot on the second.

So how do we find out what to do?  Good news is you already know part of the answer.  When that voice in your head says you’d rather be doing something else.  Its right. You’ve become really good at ignoring that voice and that’s why you’ve been ‘successful’ in college and work.  But if you start listening to that voice, and acting upon it, then you’ll be good at something rare in this world.  You’ll be good at following your dreams.