just back!

Jan 30th, 2006, 09:26 AM
  #1  
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just back!

hello! So I'm back, and still jet lagged, but wanted to post a few tidbits from our trip. I'm not going to go into NEARLY as much detail as others, since it's all been done before, but hopefully this will still be a useful/fun read.

First of all, our Thai Airways non stop flight from New York: 17 hrs in coach wasn't half as bad as I was anticipating. Premium Economy didn't seem to be markedly better (just some more leg room, but no full reclining seats). Thai service was spotty at times...there were many times when there were no stewardesses in site and on the way there, dinner was not served until 830pm! Seeing how our flight started at 11am (and had one meal at 12pm), we were starving! Luckily they had some Ramen noodles to spare, but I just didn't get the long wait for dinner. On the way back, we brought snacks. The best part of the flight was the view from our window as we neared Thailand--a stunning view of the mountains of Pakistan (we think!).

Observations upon arrival to Bangkok: We stayed right on Sukhumvit, and found the Sheraton to be top notch. Luxe service at great price (if a Starwood member). We liked being among the hustle and bustle and blending into everyday city life. The heat wasn't a problem for us at all--sure it was hot, but not unbearable and if you're a sun person, you'll adjust quickly to 90 and sunny everyday!

The food: we avoided street food mostly because it didn't look too inviting (to us), but had zero issues with food/stomach. No shots prior either. In fact, we seemed to be in better shape then we usually are in NYC! We did avoid tap water (not a problem since they constantly provide complimentary bottled water), but at times ice cubes slipped in, but still no problems. Mostly, I loved the fruit..I am craving longons right this moment!

Tourist Sites: We hit all the sites we were "supposed" to, and used Ratt for half a day. She is the sweetest little woman, but I have to say, I found the price to be a little high by Thai standards. Nevertheless we enjoyed her services and hanging out with her on the klong tour (which was great! We were reluctant to go, but it was well worth it).

Phuket/Phi Phi islands: for weeks, I stressed out since the weather forecast predicted storms everyday for months on end..but once there, it was, surprise, surprise, 90's and sunny every day. We thoroughly enjoyed this portion of our vacation (Phi Phi islands moreso, since Phuket was seedy in local spots, but the resorts too removed and westernized--think loud smoking Europeans everywhere; we stayed at Kata Thani: nice, but not great value for money). Phi Phi was more private (Village Resort) and beautiful. Nevertheless, we were craving the smells and sounds of Bangkok after a few days--sometimes beach life can feel too removed from the real feel of Thailand.

Our last few nights, we stayed at the Royal Orchid Sheraton. It is true that it has a "corporate" feel, and not as luxe as the Sheraton Sukhumvit, but the view of the river is priceless, and we got much more value for our dollar (again as Starwood members) then we would have at the other river hotels. Agree that the pool was dull, but after Phi Phi, we didn't really crave that feel. Last days we did river taxi to Chinatown, shopped and bargained until exhausted, and checked out the Vertigo Bar. Last night there we had the famous peking duck at China House--and it did not disappoint!

Jewelry: the one big snafu of my trip. I asked the Royal Orchid concierge to arrange a pick up from SJ Jewelers. Lo and Behold I get driven to "Gem Gallery". Commuincation error I suppose! So there I was asking for Lily and name dropping "Kathy from Seattle" to blank stares until I realized what had happened. I still couldn't resist buying a sapphire ring (all my budget would allow), which I probably paid too much for, but will get it appraised anyway.

That's it for now folks! Had a great time and can't wait to go back! Thanks for all your help!!
jacqui72 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 09:35 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Glad you had a great time. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Welcome to the wonders of Thailand. Glad you had a good time. I agree that Phuket has an overly westernized feel. We always stay at the ROS because it's less than half the Starwood points than the Sheraton Grande on Sukhumvit. Don't fall prey to analyzing too much by Thai costs, e.g., Ratt's 1/2 day. Remember how much it would cost in NYC and relax. It always amuses me to hear about people stressing out over paying "too much".
Gpanda is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 08:36 PM
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your being taken to the jewelry shop of another name was on purpose...its so thai....just do it on your own the next time....tell the door man the address or call for a car pick-up...these things are what gives thailand a bad name...same thing happens with restaurants...

figures it would be the ROS...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 08:36 PM
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i actually would send the manager of the ROS an e mail to complain about what happened...but that's me...

tell them gpanda told you to call...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 08:38 PM
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how much did rat charge you that you thought was too much??

why did you use her to escort you on a klong tour anyways...??

i curious...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 30th, 2006, 08:52 PM
  #7  
 
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So my sun dance worked !
JamesA is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 05:28 AM
  #8  
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james A: yes your sun dance worked

Bob: I was giving the concierge the benefit of the doubt and assuming he mis-heard me, but I think you might be right! As I was led to the driver I kept asking "SJ Jewelers??" and got nods or "I don't understand English" looks. Only up until the point when I was looking at jewelry and asked for a 3rd time clearly did they finally admit I was at a completely different location. Very frustrating but too late for me. Maybe I'll send the ROS an email as you suggested. I have to say the concierge was very helpful otherwise.

As for Ratt, part of it was my fault because I selected a half day and we ended up going over an hour, so it came to 2100 baht which wasn't much less than a full day. It's definitely not a lot of money by U.S. standards, and it was well worth it, but we couldn't help thinking she did well by Thai standards! There are lots of "gypsy" taxis who offer to be guides for pennies, and they are worthwhile as drivers IF you knew exactly where you want to go and you're on top of it and turn down all their requests to visit "sponsors."
As for the Klong tour, it was part of Ratt's suggested itinerary for the half day schedule: Grand Palace, lunch, klong tour, then Wat Po.
jacqui72 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 06:03 AM
  #9  
 
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jacqui, I always call SJ myself for pickup. When you call the number, you press a number for English. The local calls from the ROS are free. I'm not sure why you thought it was "too late" once you'd been driven to a different jewelry store. I would have had someone call SJ from that jewelry store to pick me up or had the taxi driver take me back to the ROS.

Bob, it's not clear to me whether the ROS called a different jewelry store, or whether a taxi stepped up to volunteer to take Jacqui when they heard the destination was a jewelry store.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 06:07 AM
  #10  
 
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I always book Ratt for the full day and that gives me total flexibility. Sometimes I only use her for 4 or 5 hours but then I have her take me to dinner and back so I don't have to worry about haggling with taxis. It's such a small amount of money and to me is well worth it. And if I use her less time I still pay her the full amount. Did the same thing with Poon in Chiang Mai.
glorialf is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 06:35 AM
  #11  
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hi all,
the thought crossed my mind to be asked to be taken to SJ after all was said and done, but it was my last day, and I guess I was sort of resolved to the fact that somehow I had made a mistake. And I wasn't sure how to go about contacting SJ,etc. at that point.
We were so used to using the ROS concierge for everything and had great sucess with them. What happened is I called the concierge first thing in the morning and asked for a pick up from SJ. Was called back and told the driver was downstairs. Went down to the concierge and said "I was told the driver from SJ Jewelers was here?", and was pointed to a driver. I again asked the driver (since I didn't see any identifying sign of SJ anywhere and he did seem to get there awfully quick), and he was a very nice young guy, but just nodded and said "english not good." So off I went. Unfortunately my bf didn't want to go with me, so maybe if he was there he would have pushed to me to act otherwise once at the store. It seems that Gem Gallery is legit otherwise, so I'll just write it off as an unfortunate mishap on an otherwise perfect trip..
jacqui72 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 06:38 AM
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I am sure your driver got a nice commission for taking you to Gem Gallery.
Craig is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 08:04 PM
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ROS strikes again....i don't like conceiges for this type of thing....directions yes, restaurant suggestions yes, driver yes, but jewelry and tailors in bkk---NO
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 05:37 AM
  #14  
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hmm, yes I suppose I've now learned. And I thought I had done all my homework and been prepared! Who would have thought a direct request from a concierge at a reknowned hotel would lead to the usual scam. I should add I also told the concierge I had the direct number to SJ, but he assured me he already had it. hmmmm. Well, I'll have the ring appraised and hopefully no more surprises!
jacqui72 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 12:53 PM
  #15  
 
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Jacqui-You might E-mail the ROS and tell them about this. The concierge desk there has always been helpful to us.
Gpanda is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 08:10 PM
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that is because you amuse them....
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 11:31 PM
  #17  
 
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Thanks for the report Jacquie!
LA_FadeAway is offline  

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