Old Oct 24th, 2007, 10:18 PM
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Still getting over jetlag from the flight back from Dubai although I spent 2 nights in Bangkok - the latter I will not dwell on except to say that I doubted it could go any further down hill but it did manage to do that. One of the most filthy spots on this earth and certainly not worth anyone's time.
Having said that the contrast with Dubai is amazing. This is $$$$$ will a capital $ and it shows in just about everthing and everywhere. I am not able to give an account of hotel accommodation because I was staying with relatives in their home but if the Malls and the houses around are anything to go by the Hotels would be equally great.
Dubai dazzles, and it is an interesting place being that it has a polyglot of nationalities living and working there. I never ever felt unsafe - quite the reverse actually - even when walking around the Old City Souk by myself.
I think because some 800 people are arriving in Dubai to live daily there is little point in suggesting restaurants because in 6 months time there will be another few thousand new restaurants in this city.
I have read some of the trip reports about Bab Al Shams and its Al Hadherrah desert restaurant where some people said that it was a tourist trap or over-rated. This is one place that I went and would go again. It is about 1 hour drive from Dubai in the middle of the desert and built on the lines of an Arabian fort. The outside restaurant serves a magnificent buffet with just about everything you can imagine and cooked to perfection as well. From the lamb on the spit to the freshly " in front of you" baked Arab bread to the shoot with hot crab and vegetables. The floor show was good too. There was a Whirling Dervish who was most amazing and the singers and belly dancer were also excellant. At the back of the restaurant on a hill of sand you could see a line of camels crossing the sand and then perhaps some Arab horsemen. This is for effect and it is to good effect too. If you go there either stay at the hotel or take a taxi from Dubai so that you can drink and also so that you do not have to find the place in the middle of the desert at night. The hotel there is lovely and they run a shuttle from the hotel to the restaurant whenever you want. The cost of the taxi from Dubai was about $35US one way and they will order a taxi for your return one hour before you need it.
There is lot of information on things to see and do in Dubai and of course you must go to the Mall where you can have a little snow skiing or snow boarding before you shop!
The Dhows along the canal are worth seeing as well and the bustle of activity along the waterway is interesting in itself.
The Gold Souk and Spice Souk are a must. Buy some frankensence and other beautiful spices and marvel at the range and the scents.
I spent 4 days in Muscat on this trip which is certainly well worth a visit. You get your visa on arrival at the airport for about $20US. DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT stay at the Golden Oasis Hotel for a number of reasons apart from the fact that it is out of the way and there is nothing around it much. The worst thing was that I failed to read any reviews on this hotel before I booked it and was somewhat annoyed at not getting the room cleaned despite requesting cleaning 3 days in a row, not having more than one towel, no toilet paper, and not being told you have to turn on the water heater.
Worse than that though is what I now believe to be a real con when you check out.
The reason I say it is a con is that everything that happened to me had happened to someone previously in exactly the same way with the same suggestions as to why they were trying to charge me an extra $80US for charges at the hotel i.e. I ordered another bed.... no, I ordered more room, I had extra people and so on and so forth.
Then they try and say that have no idea why you are being charged these extras which are over those that you have signed for. Half an hour was devoted to asking for my passport to be returned and to telling them that their math was dreadful.
Apart from that Muscat is a lovely clean and interesting city. Its Souk is worth visiting because it was build many years ago and you can still see the beautiful wood carved ceiling. There are forts everywhere and of course this was the place the "Sinbad" was supposed to have spent his time. The waters are beautifully clear around this part of the Gulf and the colourful fish worth going snorkling to see at closer range.
Unfortunately I was sick the day my daughter went on her excursion but she enjoyed seeing in and around Muscat and did enjoy the hot springs in the mountains.
Omani restaurants have little rooms where you sit by yourself on the floor to eat and I cannot say that the food was out of this World there except for the beautiful desserts. If you go there check out getting a Dhow for a day or so to sail around some of the islands. This is particularly nice and the waters are enticing in the desert heat even though Muscat seems cooler than Dubai.
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Old Oct 25th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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Thanks for sharing your report. I've heard intersting things about Muscat. Just have to ask, where did you stay in Bangkok to come away with such a negative impression? The Pen and Oriental are some of best hotels in the world, and the Thai people are so friendly.
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Old Oct 25th, 2007, 08:08 AM
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I had a week in Oman earlier this year and it's a great place. I can recommend both the Shangri La and the Intercontinental in Muscat. We also took a few days out of Muscat when we hired a driver to take us up into the mountains and then to the desert and along the coast. Great scenery, friendly people and good food.
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Old Oct 25th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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Very interesting report.

Re your BKK comment, ave to admit, even though we enjoyed our visit everywhere (sights, people, culture, history and accommodations) in Thailand, staying at The Pen.... BKK is grey and dirty.
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Old Oct 25th, 2007, 01:23 PM
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I have been travelling to and from South East Asia for 40 years and I have seen Thailand get worse and worse over those years to the point that you can look directly into the sun without going blind because there is so much polution. Sure they have a couple of nice hotels and sure they are nice people but nothing can compensate for the filth and dirt that is everywhere. I have travelled the length and breadth of Thailand and unless they get a reality check and clean the mess up I for one will never advocate anyone go there again. My comment on Thailand in my report was not " a negative impression" but a comment on what I see as a disgusting and filthy way of life. However poor people may be does not mean that they have to live in filth and degregation. Perhaps if less was spent on the couple of good hotels and more spent on cleaning up the place then perhaps I would think differently.
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Old Dec 9th, 2007, 03:40 PM
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Lizzy - sorry, but I don't know what in god's name you are talking about-you surely can't mean Chiang Mai, and the Golden Triangle, can you? Because if you do, you really DON'T know what you're talking about: there's virtually no pollution whatever there, and it's lovely, -if you're looking for filth and squalor, and great disparities of wealth, try Mexico. As for Thailand, Bangkok has its dirty places, no question, but it has beautiful oases of calm and great beauty as well. The pollution in Bangkok is really awful, but that's not the same as saying the whole city is dirty-because it very clearly is not!

Pity that you have such a distorted view of Thailand. It makes me think that your prejudice about
Bangkok distorts your view of the rest of the country. As far as dirty, I don't see that in Chiang Mai and points north-AT ALL. People in and around Chiang Mai and further north live quite nicely, even the poor ones, in comparison to what I've seen in Mexico outside the fancy tourist resorts-nothing like that in Thailand. The people in Bangkok have never struck me as particularly friendly, and can be quite anti-foreigner at times, but certainly up north in Chiang Mai, and down south of Bangkok, they are wonderful people.

As for Dubai-I would never pay $70.00 for a taxi round trip to go out to some tourist restaurant. Dubai is expensive enough, and there are great restaurants, expensive and not, all around, so no need to go and spend your money there. As far as safaris, I prefer to actually go out and DO a dune safari out of Dubai-a lot more fun. I'll be in Dubai, but like I said, for a couple of days, then I'm off!

As for Oman, I will be there in Muscat in March (on the way back to the US after India and Nepal)-am quite looking forward to staying on the Corniche, and enjoying the absolutely fresh fish that the hotel gets from the fish market across the street-which I can then have prepared for me in their rooftop restaurant overlooking the beach-the beaches in Oman are THE place to go-Dubai is all western over-hyped glitz and glamour-nice for a day or so, but that gets old REAL quick! What real traveler would go to the UAE simply to shop at super malls which they can do at home, and buy whatever is there for likely much more than what you'd spend at home? (at least in the States that's true!) That kind of thinking is waaaay the hell outside my frame of reference!

I prefer the more local, authentically Arabic, low-key parts of the UAE-and that would be Oman. I know it will be very interesting and relaxing: with its great souk, its forts and Corniche.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 03:45 AM
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I was in Muscat in March and flew from there to Bangkok via Singapore.
Go to Tripadvisor and place your comments there about the Golden Oasis (I did). It sounds like they were doing to you exactly what they were trying on me. I will definately be going back though as it was a wonderful place. Bangkok is what you get when you have a large city in the tropics but being such a different culture makes it worthwhile.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 03:51 AM
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I must correct my last post. I will definitely return to Oman and Muscat - but never to the Golden Oasis! Stay away from that place.
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