Thursday, 19 September 2019

"American Horror Story 1984" Season 9 What a campy hoot!

Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy have nailed the mid-80's, starting with the gloriously cheesy opening titles.
If you grew up in the 80's, you'll appreciate the references. The first episode certainly put the camp in summer camp.
Camp Redwood is definitely modelled after Camp Crystal Lake in the "Friday the 13th" slasher movies. The cast is made up predominantly of unknowns - Emma Roberts is the only actor (so far) from previous AHS seasons. Trevor Kirchner as the camp director with the porn-tash and over-stuffed lycra shorts was a comic highlight, along with Tara Karsian as world-weary Chef Bertie.
Let's hope the producers can keep the standard up in coming episodes.

Update: Things go bat-shit crazy by the second half of Episode 4. After a bonkers switcheroo involving Margaret and Mr Jingles, the new plot twist is demonic possession. More boxes have been ticked.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

The weirdest place in Vietnam - Bana Hills French Village

Fifty minutes by car from Danang, Vietnam is the SunWorld's Bana Hills theme park and French Village (containing five Mercure hotels). The park is reached by an amazing cable car system.
As the mountain is 1487 metres above sea level, the weather can vary drastically. It can be 10-15 degrees Celsius cooler in French Village. When the mountain top is covered in mist, the mock-French buildings look more convincing and definitely atmospheric.
Daytrippers swarm into the park by 9 a.m.. The main attractions being the eye-popping "Golden Bridge", the four level indoor amusement park and the Instagrammable French Village.

In 2020 another large hotel (MGallery) and a castle complex will be opened.

Tip: Cable car ride/entrance to park costs 728,000 VND (about US$32), but if you stay overnight the admission is only 450,000 VND (about US$20).
The entrance at the top of the cable car station, looking suspiciously like Universal Studios theme park entrance
The fog-shrouded French Village from Hotel De Nice

A mini-Notre Dame
Fantasy Park (inspired by the writings of Jules Verne)

Hotel pool

The crowds disappear by nightfall.

Hotel de Lyon

The Golden Bridge - go early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds

Temples and pagoda on the mountain summit

St Denis mock-cathedral

One of the longest cable car rides in the world

Saturday, 14 September 2019

MGallery Legacy Yen Tu - an amazing hotel that noone knows about

Although it's been open for a year, hardly anyone knows about it.
The Accor-managed hotel is less than 3 hours' drive from Hanoi, slightly closer to Halong Bay. Located at the foot of the sacred Yen Tu mountain.
Designed by Bill Bensley (who seems to be the go-to guy if you want an iconic hotel/resort), modelled on a 13th century Vietnamese palace, this hotel is part resort, part work of art, part theatrical set piece. Everything is larger than life. The colours are bold - yellows, reds and purples. Elegant stone work, massive timber beams, vivid murals, over-sized pottery and marble pieces make this hotel a destination in itself. Just visiting the toilet or shower is an experience.
On the weekend, as Yen Tu Mountain is a sacred Buddhist site, crowds of Vietnamese make the pilgrimage. I am assuming once the Spa wing of the hotel is completed in 2020, the place will have more guests.

The pool area, but where is everyone?

Yen Tu Mountain from the hotel grounds
Walkway linking the foyer, bar, restaurant and ballroom

Soaring ceilings in the lounge bar

A corridor in one of the guest room wings

Junior Suites feature an open air brass bath, the huge timber sliding doors are operated by a decorative pulley system 

Resembling a Moscow subway station, this is another hotel corridor
No television, just admire the room (internet is fast though)

Perhaps the most elegant wheelchair access ramp?

Toilet overlooks a brick lightwell
Restaurant urinals

The first cable car station is a 15 minute walk or a complimentary e-trolley ride from the hotel.