Have you ever dreamt of sipping wine and dining on gourmet dishes while enjoying a bird’s eye view from the top of a tree? Sounds absurd, right? Then you should take a trip to the Soneva Kiri eco-resort in Thailand. This venue has taken the jungle-themed dining experience to the next level, where the guests enjoy their food being seated in a treepod restaurant, elevated and nestled among the treetops. The surreal trance of enjoying the pristine panoramic view only breaks when a ziplined server comes to the levitating booth with food and drinks.
The secluded Soneva Kiri eco-resort is located on the island of Ko Kut in the Trat province of Thailand. Debuting in 2010, the treepod restaurant of the resort earned international attention and acclaim. The restaurant provides a place under the lush canopy to people seeking direct and deep contact purely with food and nature. Many travelers visit the island solely for the luxury treepod dining experience. The resort also provides charter flights and boats to bring their guests from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The Dining Experience
The diners lounge on the canvas-cushioned seats of a bamboo booth of the treepod restaurant, while a host pulls a lever to raise it. While they get busy enjoying an airborne view of the Gulf of Thailand, a dinner server, attached to a harness, swiftly ziplines and lands on a wooden footboard nestled into a nearby tree. There he starts gathering plates to serve in the booth, which is dangling mid-air. Safeguarded by harvested bamboo, the dining table is sturdy enough to keep the tableware in place. Then the trained server comes through the zipline in a perfect Indiana Jones style, dodging branches and towering trees. He lands on the pod and starts plating wooden canisters full of gourmet picnic dishes and glasses full of fresh juice. The diners enjoy the feast overlooking the pristine coastal view, savoring the dreamy experience.
Making the leap from three-season backpacking to doing it all year round, including the cold months, is an exciting endeavor that takes some planning and adjusting. Fortunately, not all winter accessories cost a fortune, and some can fit well within most budgets. So, with just a couple of handy additions, you can transform your current seasonal setup into a full year’s backpacking gear. Here are the essentials you’ll need (all under $100).
1. Instead of a Winter Sleeping Bag, Get a Sleeping Bag Liner for $69.65
With a sleeping bag liner, you get more warmth for less money and less weight. Instead of getting a brand new winter sleeping bag, you can just get a liner like this ‘Sea to Summit’ option. The general rule is to create a sleep system that’s at least 10 degrees warmer than the lowest temperature you expect at the camping spot. This particular brand of liners has several options based on the degree rating.
2. Down Booties to Keep Your Toes Toasty
Waiting for your toes to defrost in the tent after a day of trekking surely isn’t on your wish list. These awesome ‘Outdoor Research Tundra Aerogel’ down booties will keep your feet toasty and cozy, so you won’t have to go into your tent prematurely when it gets extra chilly outside.
3. Balaclava Is a Must: Try the Smartwool Merino 250
A balaclava can never be too much in winter. When temperatures drop, you need to make sure your neck, nose, and cheeks are well protected. Pairing your balaclava with a beanie will keep you comfortable and warm.
4. Gore-Tex Mittens: Mountain Hardwear FireFall 2
Everyone knows how horrendous cold hands can feel and how helpless you can get if you don’t have a pair of warm mittens. For optimal temperature comfort, it’s best to pair these $70 Gore-Tex mittens with a pair of lighter gloves inside. This is a tried and tested winter method that you may already know if you’ve ever been skiing. Pro tip: choose something with merino wool for the lighter glove inside.
5. Socks! The Sealskinz Waterproof All-Weather Mid Socks Are a Top Choice
After your winter shoes, your socks are probably the most important accessory you need. These $45 Sealskinz seem to be a fan favorite and for good reason. They are designed to keep your warm and dry while remaining breathable and comfortable, which is all you need from a good pair of winter socks.