KimJapan's trip blog

Aug 20th, 2007, 04:04 PM
  #21  
 
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I'm glad you are all having such a wonderful time. I look forward to reading more.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 06:19 PM
  #22  
 
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Kim,
All the pictures look great. The food looks so good. Do they teach Teaghan the circus stuff in Japanese or English?

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 06:28 PM
  #23  
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English...it's two American guys that have a small business called KidzSole that work out of the JW Marriott...honestly, the circus training is the reason for visiting the Marriott and Phuket this trip, and it has been very good. They are good guys, and have contagious enthusiasm and are great with the kids.

The hotel is fine...Teaghan likes it more than I do, but that's quite understandable given what she is doing.
KimJapan is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2007, 06:48 PM
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Love your blog...
Thanks!
Mara is online now  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 08:30 PM
  #25  
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Updated, with photos and hotel reviews/comments.
http://web.mac.com/teaghanmackenzie/...Blog/Blog.html
KimJapan is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 09:01 PM
  #26  
 
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Love the report Kim.Thanks for all the candid information. Always nice to hear your take on places in SE Asia. Glad you had a great time.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 10:58 PM
  #27  
 
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Very much enjoyed your reports, thanks!

Mom and I will be staying at the Victoria Angkor and I'm glad to see you enjoyed it. I think we have similar sensibilities and expectations regarding hotels. Did you eat in their restaurant or anywhere else in SR you enjoyed besides Khmer Kitchen?

I appreciated your review of the Anantara as well. My mom will be going up to that area by herself and is looking for a place. Alone, the Anantara and the Four Seasons are really out of budget. Any other hotel you would recommend?
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Sep 3rd, 2007, 11:31 PM
  #28  
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Phu Chaisai looks nice and is cheaper than the Anantara. There are a lot of places in the area that have virtually no internet presense at all, so I really think it would be very easy to drive around and find a place...some are basic, but some look from the outside to be quite nice. Unfortunately, I can't remember any names of places...but I do remember that the Imperial Golden Triangle and Paradise Resort are two places that I would NOT want to stay - big bus tour places. There are some nice guesthouse kind of places in the area leading up to and in Mae Salong that I really liked the looks of - no names, sorry.

In Siem Reap, we were at the pool every afternoon, and enjoyed the Victoria's food there. Two nights we also ate at the Victoria, and it was very good...it is a good amount more expensive than going out to someewhere like Khmer Kitchen, though. We had some ice cream at the Blue Pumpkin, and their food selection looked nice. Right around the Khmer Kitchen is a cluster of restaurants that all look to be pretty good. We didn't like the popular place Abacus much at all...aloof service, expensive and mediocre food...overall, it failed to impress other than in cost.
KimJapan is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 05:20 AM
  #29  
 
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Great blog!

Did you enjoy your trip with Tong to the fishing village? You seemed neutral in your post... maybe I was reading it wrong.
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 09:08 AM
  #30  
 
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Kim, a few questions please.

You don't mention any rain on this trip except for the pictures I saw in Siem Riep. How was the weather and rain situation traveling in the "wet" season? Especially interested in the weather in N Thailand during that time. Was the water levels in the rivers at the Golden Triangle high or low? When we went it was very low (March-April).

I noticed hardly any smoke in the air in your pictures. Was the air quality in N Thailand good or bothersome?

Does the Anantara still have the Italian Restaurant on premises and did you try it?

I noticed after your DH left you guys your reports sounded like you were missing something and you were just not having as much fun. Was it missing him or was the trip just downhill after he left you in bkk? Maybe it was my imagination?

How much did Tong charge you for the 7-3 day and how much were the bananas?

Did you feel you were teaching the monkeys a bad habit by feeding them like you did something that can be very dangerous for others some day?

Ok, enough already, thanks again. Glad to have you back on the board!!!

Aloha!


hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 09:13 AM
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Good questions, HT!
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 09:39 AM
  #32  
 
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thanks for sharing your trip with us...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 01:05 PM
  #33  
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Kim - You mentioned that the Anantara arranged a driver/guide for you to Mae Salong and Burma and it was much less expensive than their tour options. Did you need to do that in advance or when you got there? Does it appear to be a conflict of interest with their own tours, or were they happy to help you with a seperate guide/drive?
jgg is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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Hi Kim,
Read your blog with interest because we had a very different impression of the Anantara. No bugs at all when we were there in December (but of course it was freezing at night). It sounds as though the one-day mini-mahout training was enough, laundrywise and otherwise. Food was fine, not exceptional, but there were several few excellent dishes. Agree that it was expensive, but we were so relaxed we didn't venture off-campus. One way to cut down on food bill is to arrive at bar area in time for h'ors deurves. Also, we usually shared entrees, including at Italian place (which was good, but it seemed weird to eat Italian food in Asia).

We too would love to find a less-fancy ecolodge, although I think we are sticking with Mexico/Central America until we accrue a lot of mileage again.

crosscheck is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 03:12 PM
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Finally read your blog - great report. Sorry you didn't like Abacus in Siem Reap - must have gone downhill since we were there. You know how I feel about the Grand Deluxe suites at the Penn (the best!) - I am amazed that there could be a better breakfast buffet anywhere - Singapore and the Four Seasons are now on our list. The border town in Burma is not really representative of the country - I do hope you can venture inland to Yangon, Bagan and Inle Lake some day.

Thanks again for posting, Kim - you always bring an interesting perspective to this forum.
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Sep 4th, 2007, 03:14 PM
  #36  
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Weather and Water:
The rain in Siem Reap was in the afternoon and was fairly short lived. We were at the pool every day, no problem. In Phuket, it was raining on arrival, and we had some brief showers while we were there, but never enough to make activities impossible...outdoors trapezing, swimming etc every day. In Bangkok, it only poured down once, and it was at dinner time...it was raining horizontally across the river and forced us to move our dining indoors. At the Anantara, we had one day out of 4 that was on and off rain...we were doing elephants and it was a muddy day but that made it kind of fun. The river level there was too high for bringing in elephants so in the wet season the bathing is done in one of the ponds. The green was gorgeous.

Air Quality:
Very good everywhere, no smoke, no problems.

Anantara Restaurants:
There are two, the "Thai" and the Italian. The Thai/main restaurant was the only place we tried. The Italian restaurant was open but we didn't try it.

Did we have fun?
After Rich left and as the trip went on, I think I became less enthusiastic about writing in the blog. The internet connections were frustratingly slow and uploading the blog to the web was an exercise I did not look forward to...it errored/timed out abotu 90% of the time and each try took at least 30 minutes...not fun. It was also really like two different trips, the first two weeks being more for us, and the second two weeks for Teaghan...trapeze and elephants. Being in bigger hotels/resorts, it wasn't easy to meet people and socialize as it is in smaller places. I was a bit lonely at times, but happy that Teaghan could do the activities she had been looking forward to. Also, the hotels were not as good as I had expected...other reports had the Marriott Phuket and the Anantara as being great, and in some ways they were, but overall, I was expecting better than our experiences at the two places were.

Tong's charges:
We booked her for 3 days, each day was considered a 1/2 day by her (but a full day for us). 6:30 - 2:00 one day, 6:30 - 12:30 another day, and 7:00 - 3:00 another day. Each 1/2 day was 2300 baht. Twice, outside of Bangkok, we paid gas at around 500 baht. The fishing village was an additional 850 baht per person for the lunch and boat trip, and 300 baht for the bananas Reed provided. I have no idea how much Tong spent for a million bananas...she buys those herself.

Did you feel you were teaching the monkeys a bad habit by feeding them like you did something that can be very dangerous for others some day?
Feeding wild animals is something I don't usually do. In this case, it was Tong's thing...she loves to feed animals. The monkeys already have the habit of expecting the boat to provide food...they come when called and know why. They are not afraid of the boat or of people. The white monkey usually gets onto the boat to eat, but we were afraid of that so Reed didn't allow him to get on...he kept too far ahead of him. I'd rather not do stuff like that, but we did it...I didn't have the heart to tell Tong and Reed we didn't want to do the monkey thing since they seemed to look forward to it.

Overall, I am kind of neutral about the fishing village day. It's not bad at all, but it's not what I expected I guess. We spent about 2 or 3 hours riding around in the boat feeding monkeys and seeing birds and shellfish farms. Then we ate, then had time to just laze around in the hut...they tell you to lie down and sleep, so we did a bit. The food was OK...but much of it was not to our taste, and we usually like everything. The shrimp and crab were great, just steamed and plain, dipped in Thai seafood dipping sauce. There were 4 other dishes...catfish covered with shrimp paste then fried - tasty but a bit hard, another kind of fish with greens in a very strong tasting and spicy hot tamarind broth (way too much tamarind for my taste), another fish that I don't know how it was prepared but it was very fishy and sour (also not to our taste), and raw oysters. We had plenty to eat with shrimp and crab and rice, but I felt bad for not eating the other dishes...Tong ate for all of us though.

Anantara driver/guide:
The Anantara contracts with a tour company. The tour company's only client is the Anantara (according to our guide). There are the set tours that you can see in the book in your room...the prices are high, very high...but to their credit, they include all costs (lunch, visa fees if you go to Burma or Laos, etc). What the Anantara doesn't tell you right up front is that you can get a car and driver and guide for less and do the same itinerary or make you own itinerary, which is what we did. The cost varies on how long you are out, and I don't recall the breakdown, sorry. It worked out cheaper than doing the set tours they have though.

KimJapan is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 03:34 PM
  #37  
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crosscheck...about the evening hors d'oevres and cocktails for suite guests...that was another disappointment.

On the website, they say suite guests are given one hour (5:00 - 6:00 according to the check in staff) of free cocktails and snacks. The first night we were there, the wedding party was happening, so I understand that it would be impossible to serve hotel guests at that time, no problem.

The next 3 nights, we were in the bar with lots of other people, and there were no hors d'oevres at all, but each party was given a 3 tiered presentation of peanuts, fried beans and banana chips (maybe this was the hors d'oevres?) - but this was not only suite guests, it was everyone. We had drinks, but were charged. There was no sign of complimentary drinks set out anywhere. I thought maybe they just remove it from your bill like they do with internet use...but that wasn't the case.

The last night we were there, there were bad smelling rice crackers topped with tuna sitting on the bar for guests (all guests according to the bartender) to eat...they were visibly old, with hardened tuna around the edges and their smell was like cat food. We didn't eat them. There was no other food on offer.

At check out, I never asked about the complimentary snacks and cocktails..I was uncomfortable asking for free stuff...seemed a bit petty at the time, but now I wish I had asked about it early in our stay, as then at least we'd know. It bugs me.

KimJapan is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 05:43 PM
  #38  
 
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I know what you mean, Kim, it may feel petty to ask, but if you don't ask, you never know what happened, and you never know if they would have done something different. I can imagine you feel unresolved about it.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 06:00 PM
  #39  
 
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When we were there h'ors deurves were on the par of a fundraiser or premiere, not just nuts. I can't remember exactly what they were, but they were worth eating - not fried.

I can understand you being lonely when your husband left. Meeting people at a resort is serendipitous, not like being at a small guest house. We bonded with other guests in a taxi to town and in the cooking class, but one of the tripadvisor reviews said the fellow guests were "snobby".
crosscheck is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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I would have asked day one -- nothing petty about it. It's called false advertising. One of the reasons I booked a suite was because they say that is included in the price. Believe me if I don't get it they will know about it and I won't feel odd at all. It's their problem-- not the guest's.
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