MICHAEL FERRANTE mixes low-key activity with high-end cuisine on a Genting Dream hop around Asia
I like being off the beaten track when I’m travelling… bottling up those authentic moments and taking them away as memories to treasure. Asia is a great part of the world for this and I’m on Dream Cruises’ five-night Wonders of Asia cruise aboard Genting Dream, capturing more moments for the vault.
After an enjoyable first night aboard Genting Dream it’s time for a relaxing beach day at our first port stop, Pulau Redang (Redang Island), the biggest of nine islands off peninsular Malaysia’s north-eastern coast.
Disembarking the tender and a short stroll, we arrive at the beach and it’s buzzing with activity, stallholders under straw huts bracing for the influx of cruise passengers.
The island is not just a pleasant place to visit but a spot sought by divers for its rich array of coral and fish. The northern parts of the island are hotspots for nesting sea turtles and a sanctuary at the northern tip carries out important conservation and research work.
The party music and dancing competitions under the thatched stage directly behind the beach create a carnival atmosphere. Cold drink sellers along the boulevard can barely keep up with demand as hyperactive entertainers lure sections of a curious audience on stage. Lots of others prefer to meander along or take a shaded seat and watch on. A few hours pass and I decide to leave the party scene for the trip back to the ship.
As we sail slowly into the port of Laem Chabang, south of Bangkok near Pattaya, I pull open my cabin sliding door to catch the sunrise and I am shirtfronted by a burst of hot air — it’s a taste of what to expect for today’s trip into Bangkok.
After a two-hour bus ride into the city, we reach the Gaysorn Village shopping centre and head upstairs to the Michelin Star Thai restaurant, Paste, for lunch. It was hand-picked for our group by acclaimed Aussie chef Mark Best, who is accompanying us on the excursion today.
Today’s tasting menu is prepared by award-winning chef Bee Satongun and her team. After the amazing degustation lunch, there’s a round of applause from our table as chef Bee comes from the kitchen.
Now it’s time to hit the Or Tor Kor market to buy fresh produce for a Thai cooking masterclass with chef Best. It is full of exotic aromas — tropical fruits, spices, fish, curries and various barbecued meats. We shop for the finest fresh food as the locals do it, in bustling downtown Bangkok.
Chef Best is on a mission and with shopping list in hand, browses market stalls for ingredients for his interpretation of two traditional Thai dishes — crunchy prawn cake and larb gai — which he’ll cook for us on board…
This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.
A message from Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield...
Thanks for reading us – we value your continuing interest and our connection with you.
But as our readers increasingly move to digital, we have to keep up with them.
As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, there are costs involved in doing what we do for you.
To support Travel, reading the full story now requires a digital subscription (it’s $1 a day for full access to thewest.com.au, for all your devices).
If you have the newspaper home delivered, you may already have complimentary premium access to thewest.com.au and our digital editions.
And we have other packages, including $9 a week for the weekend papers and everyday digital.