Oct 13, 2008
The Airbus 380, the much talked about aircraft, a rival to the Boeing 747, is an
aircraft where luxury is not a dirty word!
For those who can afford to pay for it!
Yes, Airbus which sells each aircraft for a whopping US$327 million, made quite a splash, when the A380 made it's maiden flight in Toulouse back a few years ago.
Every airline wanted to have one!
What with it's gallery, bar, flat beds, 31" plasma tv's, the champagne, the showers (Emirates Airlines), and hordes of novelties, made the "mother of all passenger aircraft" a "must see and fly" among the aircraft enthusiasts.
How does the average, John Doe traveller, flying this aircraft
will think about this aircraft will it be any different than the 747 that we have been used to fly for years?
In my humble opinion, the answer is a resounding "Yes". If you can afford the First Class, business Class and Economy Premium Class fares!
Shower (On Emirates Airlines only)
For us the "John Doe" average traveller, the economy seats will still be arranged to maximise revenue for the airline, make no mistake about it the 3cm extra legroom is not going to take your breath away.
Duty-free shop area
Still, it's called economy class for a reason. Most adults will find it cramped and uncomfortable after hours in the air and the toilets are still pokey.
All passengers can gain access to webmail such as hotmail or Gmail and SMS can also be sent and received through the in-flight system. Laptop and USB ports are built into every seat and more than 100 movies are available.
Mood lighting throughout the plane is meant to help fight the effects of jet lag and enhanced cabin soundproofing noticeably lowers noise levels during flight.
Yes folks, if you have a deep pocket, to the tune of A$21,700 return for a Sydney-London-Sydney,business class fare, than this aircraft is definitively for you!
However, most of us, do not have the luxury, to spend that kind of money, for that kind of trip.
So, it's back to basics! The good old economy class or as some writers calls it "the cattle class" for the majority of us.
Happy and safe flying, to you all.
Sep 18, 2008
I have been travelling for over 40 years now and during all these years travel scammers have become
more cunning and more sophisticated in trying and
sometimes succeeding in ruining your hard earned holidays.
Here below are some of the most popular scams going around.
This article is to help not only the novice travellers but also some of the would be "experienced" traveller alike.
Taking note and being aware of these scams will prevent you from losing your valuables.
The Hotel switch.
You get into a taxi and ask to be taken to a certain hotel, only to be told by the driver that he just tried to take someone else there and the hotel was full.
He helpfully recommends another hotel, which just happens to have a vacancy - and happens to pay
commission to taxi drivers.
Here's how to avoid this scam:ring from the airport to make a booking or ask the taxi driver to wait while you check that the hotel has a room (don't leave your bags in the taxi!).
The shoe cleaner.
A kid in the street points out that you have bird poo on your shoe and says he can clean it off for a modest sum.
He just happens to have a shoe cleaning kit under his arm - and guess how the poo got on your shoe in the first place?
How to avoid it: just laugh and pay up - many street kids make a living out of shoe cleaning. If
you don't pay up the hassles will continue until your patience is tested to the breaking point, is it worth it for a measley few cents?
The shirt slash.
Watch for this one folks as it is getting into the serious side and it may ultimately, make you loose
your cash or other valuables that you are carrying with you.
A member of a gang slashes the shirt of your travelling companion while another mugs you for your jewellery or camera.
How to avoid it: don't be a target - buy yourself a cheap plastic watch and leave all your jewellery in a safe place at home.
The card swipe.
The shopkeeper tells you he/she needs to go out the back to process your credit card, when what she really means is to copy your credit card.
This is also sometimes done under the counter, where the card is swiped through a second machine that records the details.
How to avoid it: never let your credit card out of your sight and only use it in well-established shops and restaurants.
The luggage slash.
You put your padlocked bag up on the rack while you sleep on the train and when you wake up you discover your bag has been cut open and half emptied.
Locking your bag to the rack with a bike lock is a good start but many thieves simply slash bags open to rifle through them.
How to avoid it: use a hard-shell, lockable suitcase or
invest in a Pacsafe protector, a tough wire net that goes around your rucksack.
The dodgy taxi.
It is amazing how often a "broken" taxi meter suddenly comes to life when you threaten to get another taxi. Or how a 10-minute trip can take half an hour, with a lot of twists and turns.
Dodgy taxi drivers are one of the most common complaints among travellers but also one of the easiest to get around.
How to avoid it: insist that the driver either use the meter or agree a price up front. Ask hotel
staff or locals how much the fare should be and make sure the driver knows that you know.
Some of the money changers you encounter on the street ought to be working as magicians.
Distractions are often used to short-change travellers and they have also been known to duck away
to "get change" and not come back.
How to avoid it: work out in advance how much you should be getting and don't walk away until you have counted it. Official money changers are a better bet.
The bag snatch.
This usually involves some sort of distraction, such as an altercation in the street.
How to avoid it: keep the strap of your bag across your body, or around your chair leg if you are
in a cafe. Try to avoid carrying a bag if you are just out for the day.
To finish this article off, one piece of last advice is: use your common sense and you will be in the clear.
Happy and safe travels.
Aug 25, 2008
Believe me it is an experience that no seasoned or would-be-traveller should miss.
First of all it is cheap, yes, take my word for it second class is only $5 and first class, wait for it,only $9!!
These are the prices to travel from bustling Cairo to what the locals call a "sleepy backwater town!" Alexandria.
Well if you can call a town with it's 6 million inhabitants a "sleepy backwater town" then, what is a town with only a million people be called?
When and if you take the train take the El-Torbini (Express) a it is the "fastest" train linking the two cities.
When I took the train...ooohhh about 46 years ago, it was hardly a picnic as in them days everybody and everything was allowed inside the carriages, humans, goats, chickens,etc,etc,.
Of course now these days, things have changed but, just, specially if you are going to travel in third class!
Yeah...them were the good old days, but for a journey that takes just over 2 hours I am sure that not only you will enjoy it but it will be one of the few memorable journeys by train that you will remember for a long time to come.
As you travel up North through the Nile delta and it's numerous canals (to see them sit at the left hand side of the carriage)you will appreciate how the Nile is so precious to the people of Egypt.
As you get closer to the Mediterranean coast, the weather gets to cool and you will see the distinct difference between the desert weather and the coastal one.
The breeze will flow through your hairs, the sun will splash your face with it's warmth and along the way, the people will wave at you remind you of their hospitality and warmth.
Alexandria, this historical city with it's 17Km coastal promenade is something that you should see.
The beaches one one side and the magnificent villas and houses overlooking the turquoise sea is something that no-one should miss as it reminds us, of the days
gone by, how the the rich and the famous, made a sizeable real-estate investment to have the best location (now full of hotels,apartments and boarding
houses) in this jewel called Alexandria.
I enjoyed so much that I wanted to get drunk with joy and happiness, so as I was sitting on one of the numerous gracious European-style cafes, a man in his usual Fellahin (local dress) attire accosted me to sell me a bottle of Johny Walker Red
whiskey for a ridiculous price of one Egyption pounds (0.185 US cents in todays exchange rate) being completely green and wet behind the ears, I paid the man
and grabbed the bottle, thinking that I had made the killing of my life!
As I left to go back to my boarding house, I was overjoyed with the thought of having a whiskey on the rocks, from my balcony overlooking the sea.
Having made myself confortable and holding my ice filled glass, I went on
to uncork and open the bottle.
After a few seconds I was pouring the contents into my ice filled glass and as I sipped the 'whiskey' I realised that Iwas conned, as the contents, far from being whisky turned-out to be TEA!!!
Yes folks, they had sucked the real whiskey from the bottle by inserting a syringe through the cork and had replaced the whiskey with similar coloured tea!
Boy oh boy! Was that a wake-up call for me!!!
Anyway, back to the today's trains.
There are three types of train operating between Cairo and Alexandria: turbo, express and ordinary. The superfast, non-stop so-called "French", "Spanish" or torbini trains (French and Spanish refer to the countries where the trains were built or overhauled), have air-conditioned first and second classes and a refreshments service. The express services also have good first and second class services but are a bit slower. The total cheapo, the all-stops ordinary trains, have no first class, air-con in second class only on request, and third-class is considered a no-go zone for even the tightest foreigner.
Aerial view of Cornish
If you can't get a first-class ticket, second class is perfectly suitable, with airline-style seats, a food and beverage service, and big, though heavily finger-printed, windows which don't open,(in my days you couldn't closed them even if you tried) so photos are out of the picture. Large luggage is locked away in a compartment at the end of each carriage by a porter,(in my old days the luggage be it big or small travelled with you in the carriage, in the above-head compartments) who unlocks it as you pull into your destination.
In the old days, we had a man clonking a tea glass to it's saucer, to alert the passengers that you could have tea if you ever wanted one.
Now these days,The tea man walks the aisles through the trains, offering tea, instant coffee, pastries and water. Amazingly, he remembers everything you had, and presents the bill just before you pull in to the station. This is no paper cup misery: tea comes in a glass with a metal spoon and even a saucer lined with a napkin to steady it against the knocks and bangs of the train, which is for the most part very smooth.
Now for the downside of things.
It would be advisable for you to do your toilet business BEFORE you board the train, as the hygiene and the smell of the train toilets, will not entice you to even enter them, let alone do your business!
But if you must, buy scented (lemon preferably), tissues.
Also, have plenty of change for unexpected transactions, as if you don't give the exact amount, you are not likely to get your change.
Try to travel at the off-peak days (mondays to Thursdays) as from Thursday onwards, the locals tend to get-away for the week-end( Friday is considered a holiday).
If you are travelling solo, then, do not despair, there are plenty of Egyptians who would want to share addresses with you and tell you, in their own way and english, their stories!
All in all, it will be an unforgetable trip, that will linger in your memory for a long time to come and will make n interesting anecdote of travel to tell your children and relatives.
You can find the train schedules here:
happy and safe travels to you.
Ramses II Train Station in Cairo
EGYPT IN PICTURES
TEMPLE OF ABU SIMBEL AT NIGHT.
ABU SIMBEL TEMPLE AND THE NILE RIVER IN THE BACKGROUND
TEMPLE OF THE KINGS
MUSEUM OF ANTIQUITY IN CAIRO.
PYRAMIDS AT DUSK.
THE SPHYNX AND THE PYRAMIDS.
Aug 14, 2008
Tourists have long been awed by Egypt's famed Giza Pyramids and irritated by having to fend off peddlers relentlessly offering camel rides and trinkets.
Tourists undergo a constant barrage from peddlers selling souvenir statues, T-shirts and other trinkets. Visitors are sometimes followed by men on camels selling rides or photos - and rarely taking no for an answer.
Young men even try to force their way into taxi cabs carrying foreigners toward the pyramids, looking to steer them to nearby horse stables for a ride around the site.
But the hustlers were gone Monday as Egypt started an elaborate project to modernize the area and make it friendlier to tourists. Security is also improving, with a 12-mile chain-link fence featuring cameras, alarms and motion detectors.
What a s igh of relief for tourists who were constantly bombarded and hassled by
vendors of all sorts, trying to grab whatever business they could.
We the tourists and travellers applaud the Egyptian authorities, for bringing back some sort of order and sanity for the madness that it was previously.
Now we can enjoy the splendours of these magnificent sites, that has passed the test of thousands of years and has defied modern structures with their toughness.
Singapore Airlines has been named World's Best Airline in the 2008 Airline of the Year awards, with Cathay pacific chosen second and Qantas (despite it's recent spate of problems) was chosen third.
Along with placing third in the awards behind Singapore and Cathay Pacific, Qantas also won the award for best first class lounge, best economy class catering and best airline in Australasia.
The awards, run by UK-based aviation research agency Skytrax, are based on the world's largest passenger survey, with 15 million passengers taking part around the world.
Singapore won the title for the second year in a row and the third time in 10 years. The airline also took out the award for best business class.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, who recently expanded their Australian routes, climbed into the top 10 for the first time, placing tenth.
The world's best airlines
1. Singapore Airlines
2. Cathay Pacific
4. Thai Airways
5. Asiana Airlines
6. Malaysia Airlines
7. Qatar Airways
8. Air New Zealand
10. Etihad Airways
Best First Class Cathay Pacific
Best Business Class Singapore Airlines
Best Premium Economy Class EVA Air
Best Economy Class Asiana Airlines
Best low-cost airline easyJet
Best Inflight Entertainment Emirates
Best First Class Catering Cathay Pacific
Best Business Class Catering Austrian
Best Airline : Transatlantic British Airways
Best Airline : Transpacific Air New Zealand
Jul 2, 2008
Palmair, is a trading name for the tour operator R.E. Bath Travel Service (Palmair) ltd based in Bournemouth, UK.
It operates inclusive tour charter flights to holiday destinations in Europe on behalf of Bath travel.
It has it's main base at Bournemouth airport.
The charter flights started operations on 1 January 1993 as Palmair Flightline operating a BAe 146 aircraft. Upgraded aircraft were acquired in 1999 to reflect increased demand for capacity from Bournemouth and for the introduction of longer range routes. Until winter 1999 services was operated by Flightline, using a single BAe 146-300. In 2003 Palmair carried 75,000 passengers. In 2004 the company operated scheduled passenger flights to ten European airports, and day trips to 25 European cities.
In 2003 and again in 2008, the UK consumer magazine ‘Holiday Which?’ published the results of a survey of 20,000 UK air passengers, showing that Palmair was the top rated airline flying from the UK.
On 22 December 2006, founder, Peter Bath, who had previously seen off every flight personally, died, aged 79.
Palmair serves the following destinations:
* Salzburg (Salzburg Airport)
* Dubrovnik (Dubrovnik Airport)
# Czech Republic
* Prague (Ruzyně International Airport)
* Korfu (Corfu International Airport)
* Keflavík (Keflavík International Airport)
* Brescia (Brescia Airport)
* Milan (Malpensa International Airport)
* Venice (Venice Marco Polo Airport)
* Luqa (Malta International Airport)
* Faro (Faro Airport)
* Funchal (Madeira Airport)
* Alicante (Alicante International Airport)
* Arrecife/Lanzarote (Lanzarote Airport)
* Málaga (Málaga Airport)
* Menorca (Mahon Airport)
* Palma de Mallorca (Palma de Mallorca Airport)
* Tenerife (Tenerife South Airport)
You have once again proven that being small can also be the best.
their website can be accessed from here.
Jun 26, 2008
A survey to find out the world top tourists, by online travel company, expedia has found that the Japanese were the top ranked tourists.
Among the topics being asked in the survey were, behaviour,manners,generosity,willingness to learn the language and willingness to try the local cuisine and their propensity to complain.
Japanese tourists were the tops overall followed by the British and the Germans in joint second place, followed by the Canadians in the third place.
So, the world's top tourists ranking, according to hoteliers were:
10- New Zealanders
Jun 6, 2008
RP 3rd fastest-growing air travel market
Air travel within the Philippines is the third fastest growing market in the world, after India and Mexico, industry data revealed.
India’s domestic market grew by 33 percent, followed by Mexico at 27 percent, Philippines at 23 percent, and China at 16 percent last year.
The Philippines domestic air travel market grew with almost 10.4 million travelers in 2007 compared with almost 8.5 million passengers in 2006.
Gokongwei-owned Cebu Pacific (CEB) set the pace in the domestic market with a growth rate of 47 percent in terms of passengers carried in 2007, or from 3.034 million in 2006 to 4.46 million in 2007.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) experienced a six percent increase, from 3.81 million to 4.033 million, while traffic for Air Philippines grew 21 percent, or from 653,175 in 2006 to 726,616 last year.
Candice Iyog, CEB spokesperson, said domestic travel started booming when CEB introduced year-round low fares in 2005, forcing other local airlines to follow suit to be able to compete and introduced air travel to many first-time flyers.
Clark wins Asia-Pac Airport of the Year Award
The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) took home the “Airport of the Year” award together with Singapore’s world-class Changi International Airport during the 2008 Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Aerospace and Defense Awards held in Singapore.
“In recognition of its past year performance and expansion efforts, Frost & Sullivan awards the 2008 Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Airport of the Year Award for the airport serving below 15 million annual passengers category to DiosdadoMacapagal International Airport,” the citation given to the DMIA said.
Two years ago, the DMIA also won the “Low Cost Airport of the Year 2006 Award” from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).
CIAC said the DMIA got the “Airport of the Year” award in the category of airports that could serve less than 15 million passengers a year, while Singapore’s Changi got it in the category of those capable of serving over 15 million passengers annually. Luciano received the award during the ceremonies in Singapore.
Luciano said “the citation came at a time when the DMIA has been experiencing an unprecedented growth in aviation-related projects and passenger volume.”
Frost & Sullivan is a leading research company in the world with over 26 global offices with more than 1,500 industry consultants, market research analysts, technology analysts and economists. The company was founded in 1961 and has done research in aerospace and defense, automotive and transportation, chemicals, materials and food, energy and power systems, environmental and building technologies, health care, industrial automation and electronics, and information and communication technologies.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India was chosen the “Aeronautical Excellence Airport of the Year” award while Changi Airports International was chosen “Airport Investment Company of the Year.”
The other awardess were Japan Airlines for “Widest Route Coverage of the Year,” Air Asia for “Airline Market Penetration Leadership of the Year” and Singapore Airlines as “Airline of the Year.”
San Miguel Pale Pilsen is Asia’s best
San Miguel Pale Pilsen is the best tasting beer in Asia, according to a popular US Magazine which recently gathered major beer brands from China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Philippines for a taste test.
The iconic brand of San Miguel Brewery, Inc. (SMB), San Miguel Pale Pilsen bested six other international brands in all categories – appearance, aroma, taste and finish — used by the magazine to determine the best tasting beer.
In the article entitled “Far East Beer Showdown” by Derek Buono published in Beer Magazine’s March to April issue, the lone Filipino beer brand has been described as having “the most flavor and tasted better than all the other beers of the region.”
“The SMB family is truly inspired by the recognition given to San Miguel Pale Pilsen. We are glad that our very own product stands above the rest and for us Filipinos, that’s something worth celebrating for,” said SMB management.
San Miguel Pale Pilsen was also recommended for its “certain wheat/ citrus hit that sets it apart from the rest,” that one can “drink lots of it with most Asian foods and in most climates.”
San Miguel Pale Pilsen, one of the eight widely popular beer brands in the SMB portfolio, is known for its smooth moderate bitterness, pleasant hoppy aroma and snappy clean palate.
Articles courtesy of http://goodnewspilipinas.com
Further information can be obtained here
10 worst cities for pickpockets
10 European cities where pickpockets were rife, alive, and kicking were:
1- Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain
Fun and music filled days and nights in this city,
is also famous for it's pickpockets.
The eternal city, with it's fountains, luxury goods
and world renowned fashion brands, is also the
home of slick italian pickpockets.
3-Prague, Czech Republic
Before taking in the view of the Vltava River and
the Prague Castle beyond, be sure valuables are
Beware of the pickpockets plying in the museums
of this spectacular city.
The "Oooh La la's" should not take your attention
away from guarding jealously your belongings.
Michael Angelo would never forgive you, if whilst
visiting and wondering at his marvelous inventions
you would loose your precious belongings.
7-Buenos Aires, Argentina
Should you fall for the steps of Tango, don't fall for
pickpockets also, active here.
The "Venice" of the North will enchant you in more
ways than one, specially if you loose your wallet!
Whether you are visually enriched with the
antique beauty of the Parthenon or the Acropolis
make sure that your valuables suddenly doesn't
While visiting this historic city, stay alert!
World best airport's as voted by Skytrax readers
1 Incheon International Airport
2 Hong Kong International Airport
3 Singapore Changi
7 Kuala Lumpur
9 Centrair Nagoya
BEST BY REGION
BEST IN CATEGORY
BEST DUTY FREE SHOPPING
EASIEST INTERNATIONAL TRANSIT AIRPORT
BEST AIRPORT DINING
BEST SECURITY PROCESSING
CLEANEST AIRPORT WASHROOMS
BEST TERMINAL CLEANLINESS
BEST BAGGAGE DELIVERY
BEST LEISURE AMENITIES
ASIA -PACIFIC MOST DIRTIEST HOTELS
1- First Hotel - Bangkok, Thailand
2- Hotel Grand Central - Singapore, Singapore
3- The Imperial Hotel - Hong Kong, China
4- Royal Peacock Hotel - Singapore, Singapore
5- Woraburi Sukhumvit Hotel and Resort - Bangkok, Thailand
6- Colmar Tropicale, A French-Themed Resort - Bentung,
7- Oxford Hotel - Singapore, Singapore
8- City Gate Hotel - Hanoi, Vietnam
9- Royal Parkview Hotel - Bangkok, Thailand
10- Aseana Resort - Langkawi, Malaysia
So, there you go fellow travellers, avoid these establishment
and have a pleasant and safe travels.
World's most annoying airport
Heathrow has been voted the worst international airport for passport queues and baggage problems.
New York's JFK and Los Angeles International airports were ranked second and third worst in the survey by online travel and social network WAYN.com (Where Are You Now?).
The survey asked 2250 passengers about passport control, baggage handling, customs and security at major international airports.
Heathrow, the world's busiest air hub, was voted the worst for long passport queues followed by the two American airports.
The three were also seen as having the longest wait time for collecting baggage and were considered the most likely to damage luggage.
However New York and Heathrow were also regarded as the best airports for security, with British travellers putting Heathrow at number one.
Bangkok, Amsterdam and Rome were considered to have the least-thorough security.
Heathrow's passport control officers were also considered the friendliest after Australia's followed by Canada, although British travellers put Heathrow first.
US immigration officials were given the unwanted tag of being the rudest, followed by India and Russia.
Travellers wanting the shortest queuing times should head for Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, Changi in Singapore or Frankfurt
we now have the A380 restaurant!
Set in a dull commercial building in central Taipei, the A380 In-Flight Kitchen looks and functions like an airline in many ways, expect that it serves a regular restaurant menu of Western food, sometimes in plastic trays.
Waitresses dressed as flight attendants take meal orders for filet mignon or waffles, as well as the customary fish and chicken. Staff say "welcome aboard" to customers and issue boarding passes to those who must wait for a table.
"There are customers who come in and say 'is this real airline food? Airline food doesn't taste good,'" Lu said, adding that they had turned a profit.
The restaurant, in Taipei's university quarter, opened after owner Yang Mao-hui figured that he could ride some of the Airbus A380's recent fame in the aviation industry by offering a simulated experience, Lu said.
A 747 Jumbo Jet converted into a hostel by Swedish Entrepreneur.
The idea came to Mr Dios when he was looking for a house or a building and said: " why not a plane?"
He bought and converted the old 747 into a 25 room hostel capable of sleeping 72 guests.
The customers will have 7 bathrooms to share among them except, the honeymoon suite which comes with it's own ensuite bathroom.
Compared to other hotels outside of the airport, the "Jumbo Hostel" rooms will cost 350 Swedish Kroners or about USD42.
Well, we had a cuise boat turned into a hotel why not a plane!!
Safe travels to you all.
THE WORLD'S FIRST SEVEN STARS HOTEL OPENS IN MILAN!
But, that's exactly what happened, when the italian hotelier Alessandro Rosso, did not mind spending a few millions dollars, to open his new seven stars rated Town House Galleria in Milan, next to the famous Duomo Cathedral.
For people wanting opulence and luxury and not minding forking out 1000 Euro's (US$1343,00) for the starting room price, they are sure to get a few "Aaahhh's and Ooohhhh"s.
Here a couple of pictures of this establisment, for your perusal.
Happy and safe travels to all.
BANGKOK and The MALAYSIA HOTEL
interested how the city was developping in them days, as being a bachelor, I had only one thing in mind, Girls!
However, this time as our flight was approaching the new Suvarnabhumi airport, after only 5 days of protesters leaving the airport, I was naturally a bit nervous and also curious as to what Bangkok's was looking like after nearly 25 years of absence!
As we were taxiing towards the gate, I saw row upon row of aircrafts, of all shapes and sizes, parked on the apron, coming from all over the world.
As we came to a halt and passengers were deplaning, I found myself inside a gigantic building, looking like an over stretched hangar.
Moving walkways were guiding us towards the immigration and ultimately to the taxis stand.The process was quick and very efficient, upon paying a nominal 50BHT (US$1.43) our luggage was unceremoniously shoved in to the boot of a taxi, and
before we knew it, we were off to Malaysia hotel in the city.
I told the driver to avoid taking the tollway as I was the one who was going to pay for that toll!
This was a far cry exit from the old Don Muang airport, that I had so many times used in the past.
Freeways and it's many exits were placed on top of one another and unless you knew where you were going, it was not difficult to get lost in this concrete maze.
I tried to stay awake as I hadn't slept for the last 13hrs and watched the light filled miles pass us by.
My first impression of Bangkok having changed, was, as I was to find out later on, not impressive at all.
As we entered the gate to the hotel, a doorman welcomed us inside.I had to pay the meter fee of 200BHT plus a surcharge of 50BHT as the hour was
showing after midnight, and with the initial 50BHT that I had paid at the airport, the total cost of the trip was 300BHT (US$8.60) not bad, when you think that we had travelled nearly 40Km's.
Hotel Malaysia in the seventies, was located just opposite the hua lamphong, main train station of Bangkok. However, this time, this wasn't the case!
It was quite far from the station. Immediately, I asked myself whether this was the same hotel or the metamorphosis of the same named hotel displaced in a different suburb of Bangkok.
Soon after the registration process, we were given the key to our room on the 3rd floor.Upon entering the room, we noticed that there was a slot on the wall and by inserting our key the air condition was activated.
The large and confortable bathroom, was quite well designed and confortable to use.
The double bed plus the single bed were facing a colour TV with 6 local and 5 foreign channels ( 2 movies channels) the bedside table had switches and table light accomodating the restaurant menu (you can order food and drinks 24hrs/7) the TV remote and the telephone, was a welcome convenience, in what was a rather large room, with plenty of floor space to move and a mini fridge stocked with various cool drinks, of which only the the mini bottled water was complimentary!
My advice is unless you are desperate, do not touch the drinks in that mini fridge, as the prices are quite shocking! Beside, if you go out of the hotel gate, and turn right, you will see a 7/11 shop where the prices are 2/3 cheaper, right in front of you!
The dressing table with it's large mirror along with it's luggage rack, made this room at the cost of 980BHT (US$28.00) is one of the best value hotels in Bangkok. The location , was only 6Km from the main railway station or only 60BHT (US$1.72) by taxi, conveniently stationed in the courtyard of the hotel.
Malaysia hotel website is here:
However, much to our pleasure, we found that the prices were very very reasonable and the food was well presented and cooked.
Unfortunately, I could not say the same with their internet stations as it failed to connect, despite our numerous efforts, having to pass the idea of checking our emails.
In case you are short of cash, there's an ATM right at the entrance of the hotel gate, much to our delight, we were able to replenish our dwindling Peso reserve, with Baht's.
I noticed that the clients of this hotel, were mainly retired or pensioners gentlemen, with Americans being the majority.I remember reading in a comment made by one the past customer, mentioning that this hotel is renowned for it's "golden boys".
Sure enough when we entered the cafeteria, there was a bunch of "them" having a rupturous time with some elderly American tourists at the back of the cafeteria,
attracting some annoying glances from a bunch of policemen having their breakfast meals right in front of our table.
This fact did not bother us at all, as it did not interfere one bit with our holiday and unless you were looking at all these with an observing eye, you wouldn't notice it all.
I thought of taking a dip at the swimming pool located at the back of the cafeteria, to cool myself from the constant humid and hot air that prevails in Bangkok. But I soon gave up the idea, when Jo asked me to go around for sightseeing.
Sure enough, Bangkok HAD changed, however, in my humble opinion, not for the better.High rise buildings, an atrocious traffic problem and the ever present smog had changed this city. Peoples driving their motorcycles or bikes were wearing a surgical
mask, trying to stop the smog from entering their lungs. Bronchial problems and chest infections, were on the rise.
The Global Economic Crisis and the actions taken previously by the protesters, had indeed reduced the intake of tourists and whenever you were asking for the price of anything that you wanted to buy in the markets, you were first told a shocking
price usually starting (the lowest price) at 350BHT (10USD). This is where your bargaining skills comes in handy and unless you are a hard hagler, you will be "had"!
We went to the Hua Lamphong train station to buy our train tickets to Surat Thani and on to the island of Koh Samui. Upon getting out in to the courtyard, a taxi driver straight away started to hassle us by shouting "taxi" "Sir do you wanna a Taxi?", we
decided to ask how much he was going to charge us to the train station. Sure enough,he said "for you cheap 350BHT", cheap, my foot! This was a 6 minute ride and the fare would have been at the most 60BHT (1.72USD).When I said " 50Baht" he immediately started to laugh in a sarcastic manner and
shaked his head to the negative. So, I started to walk toward the gate with the intention of getting another one. It was no surprise that, just as i was about to get in into another taxi, he came back to me and said " ok,ok, for you first time in Bangkok, 50Baht!" First time! If he only knew that this was over the last 30 years my 11th trip here, he wouldn't have said that.
Nevertheless, we accepted and much to the annoyance of the other taxi driver who thought that, I was about to make his day, I let him go.
During the trip to the train station, the driver asked me all the usual questions, such as "how long will I stay in Bangkok?", "where will I go after here?", "what was I going to see or do whilst in Bangkok?", etc, etc,.
Not wanting to commit myself to whatever idea he might have if I gave him a specific answer, I said " I don't know" to all the questions, giving him no leeway to use on me!
When we arrived at the station he asked me if he should wait or go, I asked how much more he would want if I told him to wait. He said "100 Baht for the round trip including the wait" that sounded fair enough for me, so I gave him a time of 30 minutes to wait or to pick us up after that time, he nodded in the affirmative and left.
We bought our train tickets (2nd class economy sleeper) to Surat Thani, which included the coach and the ferry to Koh Samui for 1850BHT (52.95USD).
After half an hour, our taxi driver was there to pick us up and brings back to the hotel.
We sat down in front of the "Tour Desk" in the lobby of the hotel and started perusing the numerous catalogues and finally, said "this one" pointing to the above-mentioned attractions. When we saw the price of 1100BHT (31.47USD) per person, we thought
that this was a pretty good price and paid 2200BHT and were told to be in the lobby at 7.30AM the next day for the pick-up.
After having our dinner whilst watching the BBC News in our room, we retired for the night.
The next morning we were in the lobby bright and early for breakfast, and was ready by 7.20AM. However, as the time went by and the clock hit 7.45AM, I was getting a bit nervous as there was no-one picking us up. As Jo went to ask at the front desk, from my table in the cafeteria I saw a white 18 seater mini-van pulling up in front of the entrance door and knew that they had come to pick-us up!
With a sigh of relief, we entered the air-conditioned minibus and made ourselves comfortable. After about 3 minutes, a lady sitting in the front introduced herself as our tour conductor and said that, we will first be going to the Floating markets
followed by the Elephant ride, then the snake farm then lunch (Included in the price)
then the crocodile show, followed by the final attraction being the Rose Garden where the Thai cultural dances will be held.
This was ok. But then, the bad news came and hit us on the face like a slap! We were expected to pay 600BHT (17.17USD) EACH! for the floating markets ride. Well, you can imagine my annoyance when I heard this news, as it was not mentioned in the
catalogue and thus, was a hidden cost. Not to disappoint Jo, I bear and grinned upon
hearing this, but, I put on a brave face an managed to have a forced smile. Since we were now comitted to taking this tour I already was wandering whether there would be more hidden cost to be divulged as the tour progressed.
The floating Markets, was a thrill and a complete surprise to Jo who was amazed at the variety of goods sold and bought, from wooden boats, barely 5inches above the water. (See photos on the right hand side of this page)
When the water ride was finished we were told that we would be free to do our shopping at a souvenir emporium, right at the edge of the water.
Naturally, Jo was absolutely delighted, being able to buy various souvenirs or Pasalubong (in Tagalog) for her family members, friends and work colleagues.
After two and half hours of Floating Markets and souvenir buying, we were off to the Elephant riding area. Upon reaching the area, Jo was so excited with the prospect of riding an elephant, that we nearly missed the price and the sign that was posted on
top of the ticket booth - 600BHT PER PERSON FOR HALF AN HOUR OF ELEPHANT RIDING! Some members in our tour (including yours truly) wasn't amused upon seeing that sign! However, as this was maybe a first and a last, lifetime opportunity
for Jo she gladly paid the money and went on the ride. (See right hand side of this page)
But, I was furious and became very vocal complaining that these hidden costs should
have been mentioned in the catalogue (which, if it did, we would have not taken the tour at all!), my displeasure was echoed by other members of the tour, to the tour guide who, remained very quite and was heard murmuring "Sorry Sir"
After the elephant ride, we were off to the snake farm and the Cobra show. However, this time, I asked the tour guide if there were any more hidden costs. She told us that we were expected to pay 300BHT (8.60USD) per person for that show, but, there would
not be anymore fee's payable for the rest of the tour. I've gasped a sigh of relief upon hearing this.
After 45 minutes, we arrived at what looked like a mini reptilean zoo, with various snakes of all sizes were inside a concrete "box" with a gigantic crocodile passively sunbathing in an another. Then, we were called to gather at the ticket counter for the live Cobra show. The show started with the 'Master of ceremonies" explaining the life of the said reptile, and how venemous the cobra's were. Then, it was on, a man went inside a ring with of course who else but a cobra and started to taunt the reptile, which, on several occasions was trying to bite the man by hissing it's displeasure of being exposed and ridiculed to the audience. After several similar attempts by different men, the highlight of the show came, when the man held a cobra from it's
head and started to roam inside the audience for photo shoots and people brave enough to touch and caress the cobra. The show ended with a thunderous applause from the audience.
It was time for us to have lunch and we boarded the minivan.
Lunch was inside the Bangkok zoo's restaurant. A buffet was laid out with western and Thai food, divided for people who liked hot (as in chili hot) and not hot food.
Our lunch was copious and satisfied we went on to the Elephant show, where trained
elephants were seen playing war games, depicting famous Thai battles in the past (with real fires and explosions) Thai sword fighting, football with gigantic balls and at the end, the elephants gathered at the rails and saluted the crowd amid thunderous
and rousing applause. The crowd were then told that if they wished they could feed the elephants with bananas and sugar cane sticks bought from the vendors, which the crowd did (and so did we). As the crowd dispersed, I knew that the crocodile show was next. But, having seen that in the seventies, I was, along with hundreds of others, witness to the horrible way the guy who was taunting the crodile and was doing all kind of heroic acts, lost his right arm, when the crodile bit it clean off from his shoulders, amidst the horrific shouting and screeming from the crowd, the blood and the gore scene was too much for me and made an indelible impression and I had vowed never to see another crocodile show ever again!
So, I let Jo go, and see the show whilst I was resting on a bank and taking pictures of the crocodiles. (see right hand side of this page).
Our final item on the tour was the Rose Garden, where Thai cultural dances would be shown to the tour members. Upon our arrival, we saw elephants again! But, this time you could ride one for 50BHT (1.43USD) albeit for 5 minutes only. I do not want to
repeat the words that I uttered when I saw that!
This segment of the show lasted for nearly an hour and again, havig seen all that before hand, I send Jo to enjoy it. Which she did, judging from her smile upon her return.
Since the morning when we were picked-up at 7.50AM, until now with the clock showing that it was 3.30PM, if it wasn't for the hidden costs being slapped at us, thewhole thing would have been quite enjoyable. However, one thing that Jo was certain,
she enjoyed the tour tremendeously and had no regrets for the extra cost that was taken from us.
To recap, our adventure of 3 days in Bangkok, the city is overpopulated, over polluted, traffic jams of gigantic proportions are a daily reality and prices are going through the roof!
If you stand all of that, I wish you a happy and safe travels to you all.
AIR ASIA X..SELLS ONE WAY FARES TO LONDON FOR A$260.SERVICE TO START MARCH 2009!
To celebrate this new service they are offering seats to London on a one way basis for A$260...all charges are inclusive in this fare.
The service will be using an Airbus A340.
There will be 5 flights a week to and from Kuala Lumpur and London.
Happy and safe travels to you all.
TIGER AIRWAYS CUTS MANILA TO MACAU FLIGHTS!
I learned of this news on the 4th of November.
Of course, no explanation was given as to why this sudden decision was taken!
My personal belief is that, the competition from Cebu Pacific, was the main reason. Load factors being so vital to el-cheapo airlines, would have forced Tiger Airways to cut flights.
Yours truly was booked to fly-out on Tiger Airways flight from Manila to Macau on the 8th of December.
After the announcement of the cut, I was expecting Tiger Airways, to do what normally, in this situation, any other airline would do, and that is, to contact passengers and give them their options (if any).
However, until today the 22th of November 2008, no such contact was made by the said airline.
I took the iniative to call them in Manila and asked them, what was I suppose to expect from them.
I was told by a reservation clerk that the options given to the passengers booked on that flight were as follows:
1- Re-route (with Tiger Airways) to another destination.
2- Apply for a full refund.
I chose the latter, I was told that the refund would be credited in my credit card in 21 days!
Here's hoping that, this will happen!
IT DID HAPPEN FOLKS! TIGER AIRWAYS HAVE REFUNDED MY MONEY ON THE 24TH OF NOVEMBER 2008!
CEBU PACIFIC NOW IS YOUR TURN! DO THE RIGHT THING AND REFUND MY MONEY AS WELL!
Happy and safe travels to you all.
GLOBAL FERTILITY TOURISM!
We have seen eco-tourism, adventure tourism, health tourism, and now we have Global fertility Tourism!
What is it? I hear you ask!
Well, If you are a woman and unable to have your own child, it is created for you (through in-vitro fertilization) then, implanted in to the womb of the woman who wasn't able to conceive.
Well, it certainly looks that way.
However, the moral and ethical question is left wide open to discuss the issue.
India, who is advertising this new trend of tourism claims "many healthy young fertile Indian women who are superovulated exclusively for you" with fees payable online by credit card!
The fee's are half of what you would expect to pay in western countries, and the women applicants gets to have twice the number of embryo's implanted in them, to make sure that they will fall pregnant.
India, does not have the same dilemma as the west about the legal, moral and ethical implications.
A woman who for the sake of keeping her anonymity, we will call Ms Doe, who is of German nationality, was unable to conceive a child for years and fearing that her "biological clock" was ticking at the age of 40 plus, decided that she would want to have a child before "it was too late!".
At the end of last year, she boarded a plane in London and flew to Mumbai. It wasn't her first trip there - she is a management consultant and often goes overseas on business.
But this time she went to have five embryos implanted in her womb. Two days later she flew home. While on business in Hong Kong in January, she discovered she was, at 42, pregnant with just one embryo.
It was the culmination of a six-year struggle to become a mother. Divorced at 29, she hadn't been in a serious relationship since she was 34. "I always wanted to have a child but the men kept saying, 'Why don't we travel?"' she says. "It wasn't that I was obsessed with my career; I just couldn't get men to be a father."
First, she tried to adopt in Germany, , but that didn't work out. Then, in 2004, she moved to Britain to take advantage of that country's more liberal attitude to single women who need in vitro fertilisation. She spent $45,000 in less than three years, trying and failing to conceive at a private clinic. When she finally conceived in India, she was in a state of "shock and disbelief."
She has no genetic link with her baby, born in September. The colour of its eyes, length of its legs and slope of its nose were determined by a man and a woman who are strangers not only to her, but also to each other. Her baby's biological parents live 7000kilometres apart and are separated by language and culture.
All they share is the decision to ply their gametes in the global fertility bazaar where she shopped for the ingredients of life, perusing and eventually paying for eggs and sperm. She bought the sperm online from a Danish sperm bank retailing in New York. The $2600 price tag included shipping to Mumbai. There, the sperm was used to fertilise the fresh eggs of an Indian woman who was paid 40,000 rupees ($1200).
So, there you go "instant baby", just like expresso coffee or noodle soup!
For those of us, who are wondering "what next", I may hazard a guess and say that, it will be like dining in a Michelin's five star restaurant.
" I like to have my steak rare, with hot sauce and saute champignons, and tender green beans."
Translated literally, " I like to have a girl, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and long legs, please!"
Mind you with the likes of genetical engineering and DNA manipulation, this is already being done by some " Scientists!".
If that's the case, isn't that like, Dr Joseph Mengele's re-incarnation, minus the torture?
I would leave you readers with that thought, and simply say, what would divine wisdom thinks about all that?
Happy and safe travels to you all.
So you like your beer huh! Check these 10 Beer destinations.
Try testing the local brew and to find out, who better to ask, than the barman or barmaid.
Here's the 10 most beer drinking countries sought by backpakers (not necessarily in order)
6- The Netherlands
9- Czech Republic
10- New Zealand.
Happy and safe travels to you all and cheers!
TRAVEL TIPS No: 2
Cutting your travel expenses.
Here are some tips to cut your travel expenses and get more mileage out of your dollars.
1- Book early.
2- Compare prices for a day earlier or later.
3- Instead of top destinations choose a "secondary" destination. I.e: instead of Hong Kong choose Macau.
4- Avoid taking taxis and instead use the public transport.
5- Don't eat at western icon fastfood restaurants.
Go to where the locals eat.
6- Opt for cheaper accomodation, such as hostels,
bed and breakfast joints, and other pensions.
7- If possible travel by land when visiting the country, by taking buses or trains, instead of flying.
8- Pay whenever possible by cash instead of using your credit card.
9- When buying things, use your bargaining power.
10- Unless it is the norm or the customs, do not give tips, for services rendered.
If you stick to these simple rules, you will enjoy and have more cash in your pocket, whilst travelling.
Happy and safe travels.
Another airlines bites the dust!
The airlines has issued the following notice on their website (http://www.lte.es/default.aspx?lang=en):
"IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT SERVICES SUSPENSION
Lte International Airways S.A. wish to inform you that due to the financial situation of the company, that make it difficult to meet the operational expenses in the next days, we have had to suspend our charter and scheduled operations.
Lte is doing everything to minimize the impact of this suspension of services on its clients and providers. After 20 years operating with maximum dedication to our clients it just was not possible to avoid this situation given world events lately.
We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause to our passengers, clients and suppliers.
Lte International Airways S.A."
Passengers booked on LTE flights were offered a refund but not an alternative flight to get them home.
CEBU PACIFIC UPDATE....REFUND RECEIVED AFTER P2000 CANCELLATION FEE ON THE 10TH OF DECEMBER 2008
I have had it with this airline. Despite their cheap prices and empty promises,it's been over 3 months since I cancelled my flight and still NO REFUND!
Apparently I am not the only one complaining about delayed refunds or no refunds at all!
Despite numerous calls, which never got answered and follow-ups, it seems that Cebu pacific is impervious to thousands of irrate passengers complaining of late flights, bad service and refunds not given on time or refunds not given at all!
After a search on Google over 1700 results were shown
and after checking the first few links given, there were so many complaints against Cebu Pacific that, the unanimous view was that the airline was nothing but a "Corporate Thief".
Here are examples of the comments made by unhappy customers of Cebu Pacific:
"OH F**K! WE GOT SCREWED BY CEBU PACIFIC!” taken from the blog "PinoyTux Weblog " http://www.pinoytux.com/rantings/cebu-pacific-airlines-is-evil
"Why has CEBU PACIFIC failed to refund me my money for almost 4 months now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
taken from weblog "not-another-blog"
"What happened was they book more than the plane’s capacity and then suddenly at check in it becomes a first come first serve basis. If everyone comes in on time (like what happend to us), unahan na sa seats! What the F*** happened to booking early and reserving your seat!?!? Cebu Pacific sucks big time!"
taken from the weblog " Jason Magbanua"
"I asked for a refund, they said that it would only take 60 days for the refunds but it's been 4 months and still haven't received my refund."
taken from the website " Epinions.com"
"I even liked your latest Bicol promotional advertisement. “We’re Not Laing.” Cute, but if you keep up this kind of service and flight delays, I’d say a better line would be “YOU’RE SO DAING”!!!"
Taken from the website "Market manila"
"HAVING HAD MORE THOUGHTS ABOUT MY RECENT BLOG REGARDING CEBUPACIFIC AIRLINES AND THEIR APPALLING CUSTOMER RELATIONS SERVICE == WELL THEY DONT HAVE ONE IN REALITY!
AND THE APALLING DISREGARD THEY EXHIBIT TO THEIR CUSTOMERS I PERSONALLY CONSIDER THEM TO BE CORPORATE THIEVES
AND THEY SHOULD BE EXPOSED AND TAKEN TO COURT AND SUED FOR THE HARDSHIP AND TROUBLE THEY CAUSE TO UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMERS"
Taken from the website "Macuha.com"
" I used to like Cebu Pacific too, BUT not anymore!"
Taken from the website "Market Manila"
Could all these customers be wrong? I don't think so. When you start using monies no longer your own and start using this money to boost your profits, you should be taken to court and sued for unethical business conduct, misappropriating funds of customers and be exposed to the world for this in-excusable, atrocious, corporate theft.
If you book and try to travel with Cebu Pacific, you do so, at your own risk and peril.
GIVE THEM A MISS.
TRAVEL TIP No: 1- Travelling to Europe? What can you expect?
Crossing the street in France is a game of chance and bluff: you try to bluff the drivers that you're crossing whatever they do, and you take the chance that they
will have a conscience after all and at least slow down.
But it's not just in France that motorists are arrogantly dismissive of pedestrians. It's a
cultural phenomenon in Europe.
But in France, they do it with more panache.
This is one of the lessons the visitor must learn in order to survive in Europe.
Here's another: Europe is a paradise for gaspers.
Gasping is the European community's national sport. Even with bans in place in many countries, the place is rife with chuffers happily and carefreely blowing smoke in your face. In cafes and bars, anywhere within sight of the footpath and street seems their territory.
If you don't like total strangers blowing smoke into your face, crowding your space with carcinogenic particles, then beware.
Particularly of Switzerland, of all places.
Known as an urbane, go-ahead kind of place, Switzerland is one of the few countries in Europe still
to impose bans on smoking in bars and restaurants.
In France, there also is the Curse of the Non-French Credit Card.
These days, you can get cash and pay for things with your credit and debit cards from pretty well any ATM in Europe, but there is an important exception to this in France.
Financial transaction machines in France that are associated with government organisations will not
accept credit and debit cards issued by banks that aren't French.
That means that cards issues by non-french banks won't work.
So having said all that, don't forget to say "Bonjour" at least this will help you melt the ice (and maybe the smoke as well) when you are in French speaking Europe!
Au revoir et bon voyage (Good-bye and good travel).
The park holds the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie in North America and the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western hemisphere. It’s the habitat of some 14 threatened species.
The Everglades is one of 26 World Heritage Sites in danger and according to Smithsonian magazine, is currently "the focus of the world's largest environmental restoration project." It is the only place on earth that has both alligators and crocodiles living side by side. And contrary to what people say, it's a marsh, not a swamp because its main vegetation is grassy, not woody.
Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don't even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa.
Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet).
Its ancient name of Vava'u suggests that the original inhabitants of this seven-million-year-old island arrived from Tonga.
And interestingly, in the local Tahitian language there is no "B," so its actual name is then Pora Pora, meaning "first born."
Bora Bora's fabled blue lagoon (above) is, according to novelist James A. Michener, "so stunning, that there are really no adequate words to describe it."
Volcanic in origin, Bora Bora's rugged main island, and a few smaller islands, are completely surrounded by coral reefs.
Made famous by books, movies, and its stunning beauty, the island is now besieged by tourism and overcrowding. Regardless, if you must visit a South Pacific island (and you should), Bora Bora would be an excellent choice.