Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Lcuy's Christmas 2006 trip to Cambodia, Bangkok, and Hong Kong!

Notices

Lcuy's Christmas 2006 trip to Cambodia, Bangkok, and Hong Kong!

Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 01:49 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lcuy's Christmas 2006 trip to Cambodia, Bangkok, and Hong Kong!

This trip was a hard one to plan... We wanted to take our college daughters during their Christmas breaks, so the dates had to work for them, and the airlines from Hawaii, Narita and Bangkok were filled very early this year. I started planning in late August and was wait listed on Japan Airlines for months (usually their wait lists empty out). Luckily I gave up and booked different flights as we never got JAL confirmation.

For those of you who want the short report; here was our itinerary:

Dec 22- fly ANA (All Nippon Air) Honolulu - Narita,- Bangkok
Dec 23 & 24: Bangkok, Oriental Hotel- very nice
Dec 25: Evening flight on Bangkok Airways to Siem Reap
Dec 25- Dec 28: Siem Reap, Hotel de la Paix- excellent hotel
Dec 29 & Dec 30: Siem Reap, Prince D’Angkor Hotel- okay hotel & rooms
Dec 31, Jan 1 & 2: Bangkok, Peninsula Hotel- my favorite
Jan 3- Gulf Air to Hong Kong - the flying bus
Jan 3 & 4: Hong Kong, Salisbury YMCA - killer views, great location, good value
Jan 5: fly Hong Kong to Honolulu on ANA with brief stop in Narita
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 01:51 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Now the long version:

Our daughters flew in from Boston and Portland with only 36 and 19 hours layovers at home. This may explain some of their crankiness in the first part of the trip. I like to fly on ANA - their planes are clean and usually pretty nice, and the service and food very good. Our first flight was odd in that they didn’t have seatback movie/game screens, but after a nice layover at Narita with time to get some really good food and do some shopping, the next plane was a good one.

We got into Bangkok in the evening at about 9:30 pm. Customs was very fast, and we didn’t have any problems with crowds in the new airport. I had not pre-arranged transportation, as we’ve had very good luck with the limo desks upon arrival.

After hitting one of the many ATM machines in the arrivals lobby, it was easy to find the AOT car desks. They were bright yellow and there were several both inside and outside the building. Prices ranged from 800 to 1350 baht to the Oriental. With four of us, we chose the 1050 baht SUV, tolls included. They escorted us the 20 yards or so to a brand new SUV right outside the main exit.

It may have been the time of night, or maybe it is the route, but it seemed to be a lot faster than from the old airport. Unfortunately, our driver could not seem to find the street to the Oriental...He circled the area, ending up by the ROS twice before I finally pulled out my map. I’d have been irritated if we’d been on a meter, but at a fixed rate, we got some good laughs.

This was our first stay at the Oriental, although we’ve eaten there several times. I’d found rooms at $319 a night, which was cheaper than the Peninsula for the same nights. Figured I’d be able to join the Pen vs Oriental debate in the future! The Hotel was beautifully decorated for Christmas, and the doormen and reception clerks all smiling and efficient.

We were settled in our rooms (426 & 427) within just a few minutes. The rooms were pretty with all the amenities, but I wasn’t thrilled with the location. We were just about as far from the river as you could get; the forward view was of the adjacent tower and the Shangri-la,. You could see the river and pool but only by standing at the window.

The hotel told me they’d call when they found us a new room in the morning, but never did. I didn’t insist on it as hard as I might have otherwise, mainly because I realized that the Christmas Eve Party was going to be really big and loud, and decided that the river view wasn’t worth losing a night’s sleep!

The first morning, my DH and I woke up at 5am to head down to make merit with the monks. The hotel doormen put us in a cab to Wat Ben where there were plenty of people giving food, but absolutely nowhere to purchase food for giving. A nice young man helped us catch a cab to another temple where there was more commerce in the early hours. Several stalls were selling food for consumption, and also packaging it for donations. Once done, we walked around the temple grounds. It seemed to be a teaching temple. Lots of signs for classrooms. We spent a little time wandering the neighborhood as well, then took a cab back to the hotel in time for breakfast.

Breakfast was included with our room, and we had a choice of inside or riverside dining in the morning. The weather was really lovely our entire stay- that morning we put on jackets to be outside at 8 am! Big buffet with omelet station, waffle station, and lots of western and Asian choices.

First order of business was a walk over to see Da at Cotton House, then took Skytrain to Siam Paragon mall. We enjoyed the gourmet food market in the basement, bought a phone SIM card (199 bht) then browsed the housewares and antique shops upstairs. Our girls wandered a bit, but purchased things only in the Loft. Lunch was at the Orangerie on the fourth floor. Several popular restaurants have kitchens there. You can sit in any of them and order food from one big combined menu. The food was great and prices very reasonable.

We did some sightseeing, and then went to Gallery Café for Christmas Eve dinner. Awesome food, and we gave the locals some laughs when we opened our Christmas poppers.! We’d hoped to have time for a massage there, but they had closed up by the time we finished eating.

The next day was Christmas. Breakfast by the river, then we were picked up by SJ Jewelry to go get our Christmas gifts. We did some serious damage with Lily, but left all the pieces there as some were being made, some sized, and plus we didn’t want to take them to Cambodia. We were having such a good time, “saving so much money” that we had to call and move our lunch reservations at Lord Jim back half an hour.

We’d had our Christmas dinner at Lord Jim Restaurant at the Oriental in 2004, and our daughters both wanted to continue the “tradition”. Incredible buffet- everything from salads, shrimp prepared more ways than you could count, tempura, Chinese stir fry, caviar, sushi and sashimi, and the most beautiful desserts ever.

Santa and his helper came by with gifts for every table and more gifts for the children. We ate enough for lunch and dinner, then rested before going back to the Gallery Café for a family massages for the whole family. 350 baht bought us 60 minute massages, then we raced back to the Oriental to head out for the airport.

I had forgotten to call AOT in time to order an SUV, so this time we just piled into a regular cab. They had to tie the trunk half down over our luggage- which I hate, always expecting it to fall out or be stolen. We enjoyed the drive to the airport, as this time it was daylight, so we could see where we were. We could see the new Skytrain tracks for much of the way. Interesting in that it wasn’t one long continuous construction, but many small pieces in varying stages of completion. Looked like they had different companies doing sections, and all were on completely different timetables.

There had been a story in the Bangkok paper that morning about all the problems with the new airport- something like a 1000 lamps had already died, there were cracks (not serious, they said) in the runways, and many other construction defects. Coming through it after reading this, we did notice a lot of thing that weren’t working. Bangkok Airways could have used some better signage as well.
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 01:52 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cambodia

Our flight was not in the jet that our tickets had promised, but instead on a prop plane. It was noisy, but otherwise pleasant. Cute painting on the outside of the plane, and lots of “Merry Christmas” stickers inside and gifts of ceramic candles for everyone. Our flight was about an hour, but they managed drinks and dinner.

We had no problems getting our visas, including my daughter who had forgotten her photos. Didn’t even have to stand in line for a new photo; the guy just charged her $2 and stapled the bills to the form where the photo would normally go! The lines were only about 3 minutes long.

The Hotel de la Paix included airport transfers, and our guy was right there. At the hotel, check in was very speedy and we were given adjacent rooms on the third floor on the front (street) side. As it was Christmas day, they had homemade Christmas stockings filled with cookies and treats in each room.

The rooms were very pretty, with photos of various temples on the walls. Nice big TV, good room safes, big closets, and a day bed type couch in addition to our king bed. The bathroom was huge, with a full size tub, big shower with one of those huge overhead showerheads (and a handheld one).

Only a couple things I didn’t like: The bathroom entry door had a glass panel, and there were huge sliding panels over the tub, next to the bed on the other side. What is it with these windows into the bathroom? You couldn’t hide in the bathroom when room service came since the entry door is opposite the glass bath door, and I’m sorry, but I like some privacy in my bathroom! The overhead shower did not really have enough pressure to do anything but rinse you, and for some reason the hotel puts their shampoo and conditioner in refillable brass containers by the bathroom sink. Awkward to take in the shower, plus you don’t know who had used it before you....

As it was quite late, we ordered room service for dinner. Food was excellent.

We had contacted Ponheary in advance about being our guide, but she was booked for our days. She arranged for another guide, and said she’d take us for our school visit. She arrived very promptly the next morning to introduce our guide, Sam, and to visit for a while in the lobby. She offered us the opportunity to go to a school about 115 kms away, but we weren’t sure if we wanted to do that our last day, so she just told us to call and let her know. If not, we could do an in town visit.

Then we were off. Sam, pronounced Sahm, was a fantastic guide. Very laid back, gentle person, but knew everything about the temples. Took us in the back doors of most of them, to avoid the crowds, pointed out the best spots for pictures- such as the place at Bayon where you can line up your face- nose to nose- with one of the carved faces, and showed us lots of interesting carvings that we never would have seen otherwise.
Sam Sen Tel: (855)12 19 75 34 email [email protected] $20 per day

Once he realized we were interested in the government, culture, and family life, we had some really interesting conversations. Corruption is a huge problem, very frustrating for the residents to see all the massive hotels taking over their town, with ownership either by foreign corporations or police and military officers, and very little of the money going back into the town.

Oh, one other nice thing. Again, without my daughter’s photo for our park pass, we thought we were going to have to stand in the huge, long line at the photo window. Sam somehow found out that one of the regular windows was just that day testing a new pass machine that had its own camera to take your picture and print it right on the pass. No extra charge and only 3 people in that line!!

We also were very pleased with our driver, Hok Vuthy. He obviously loved his nice Mercedes van, and went to great lengths to give us a smooth ride, avoiding the potholes, no slamming on the brakes, and always letting us out right at the entrances. Adjusted the AC whenever we asked, too! We thought he didn’t speak English, as he never spoke when Sam was with us, but realized he would laugh at some of our jokes.
Driver Hok Vuthy TEL:012 61 39 61 or 016 61 39 61(I think its also 855 area code)
email [email protected] $25/day in van

In our three days of touring, we visited the major temples, and some of the smaller ones as well. Day one: Angkor Wat in the morning and Ta Prohm in the afternoon

Day two:

We spent the morning at Tonle Sap lake. ($10pp) Sam, the four of us and what looked like a 12 year old driver headed out into the lake. Fascinating trip, but I was a little nervous as I noticed our boat had only 3 life preservers. All the other boats we passed had one on each chair! We passed on the croc farm visits, but I would like to have taken the longer boat trip that goes across the lake to more isolated villages. Next time.....

That afternoon we visited Angkor Thom, Bayon, Elephant Terrace and Bapoun. We did the balloon ride at sunset. Made it there just in time for the last ride up. Beautiful views, and too late, I wished we had bought a ticket for Sam, so he could have identified some of the sights.

Day three:
Pre Rup, Mebom, and Bantey Srei

We had Sam and Hok for three full days. Each day we’d start at 8, tour till about 12, then they would drop us off in town for lunch. We’d go back to the hotel and rest or swim for a while, then they’d pick us up at 3 for another three or four hours of touring. We usually wanted to quit about 6:30, but I know Sam was willing to go on till dark if we’d wanted.

This was my preference, but later Sam told me he was very happy too. He said many Cambodians don’t eat a big breakfast, but have a big lunch. He said some tourists insist on touring right through the day, and the guides get really hungry!

We felt like the time spent on viewing temples was just about right. We like to take a lot of photos, get some of the stories, and avoid the tour groups. Sam was very good at helping us achieve that.

One daughter was kind of cranky throughout...She spent 5 months in India and felt the Angkor temples were not nearly as interesting as India’s. Other than her attitude, we all loved Siem Reap.

We were very lucky in that the weather was gorgeous and cool while we were there. Only on our last day did the temperature seem to get beyond 80'.

lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 01:54 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We found the food to be very good in Siem Reap. We tried:

The Butterfly Garden for dinner. It is in a quiet neighborhood and you eat in a garden with several water ponds. Big mosquito net overhead. We were the only people in there that night, so it was like eating at home. Ordered a bunch of plates-all tasty and very inexpensive. Ask your romo driver to come back for you (they’ll probably just park outside) or else walk out to the main street after dinner.

La Noria is in that same area. They have a traditional puppet show on Wednesday nights–you need reservations though, so we had to come back a different night. We enjoyed the food, but the service was very French and very, very slow. Several diners were smoking too, so that was a negative for us, but the food was good enough to still be well worth the visit.

At Khmer Kitchen, we loved lunch so much we came back for dinner another night. Make , reservations for dinner). Its very cheap and has a big menu of great Cambodian food was wonderful and at night if you sit in the back, you can hear the band in the alley. Beer is also very cheap.

Blue Pumpkin was another favorite. Downstairs is a sandwich type bar and ice cream.Several tables outside and a few inside. It is very hot and crowded there. The good stuff is upstairs. Big air conditioned room (with free wi-fi) with regular tables and a long "Bed" against one wall, just like the beds at Bed Supper Club in Bangkok. About 15 people can fit on it, many lounging there with their laptops. I liked that they even had a sink to wash your hands on the way up the stairs!

They have a full menu up there and lots of exotic coffe drinks. Menu items are Thai, Khmer, Chinese, Italian, American. Great salads. They'll go downstairs and get you ice cream and pastries if you don't find something on the menu that you saw on your way up!

The food was just incredible and my vegetarian husband and daughter, my 'mild only' daughter and I ("bring it spicy") all found lots of choices. We did find you had to grab the waiters as they ran past, but the food all came out- hot or cold- as it should be and the prices were very inexpensive.

Dead Fish Tower for lunch. You can sit at the various counters or at small table with big pillows on lofts and balconies all over the place. We enjoyed the food.

The Red Piano for dinner one night was tasty. It is very touristy- kind of like a Senor Frog’s in Mexico or a TGIFridays- but still fun, and we all enjoyed the food.

Only Fodor recommendation that we didn’t go into was Abacus–most all their dishes were heavy on the meat, and two of us are vegetarians and the other two aren’t big on exotic meats.
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 01:58 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There don’t seem to be taxis in Siem Reap. We took tuk tuks (“ro mos”) everywhere, and it always cost $2 for the four of us no matter where we went. If there were only two of us, it was a dollar.

We got fantastic Khmer massages at Islands Traditional Khmer Massage. All four of us went together in one big room. None of the girls spoke English, so it was funny trying to figure out some of the basics— clothes, no clothes? (Wear underwear and the little robes) Which oils? (Sniff em all! Roll over? Hold onto her wrist? Lots of laughter and pantomimes!

Khmer massage is somewhat like Thai in that they follow a routine and do some yoga type maneuvering, but they also do a lot of cupping and light pounding. With four of us, it often sounded like we had an audience applauding. The first 45 minutes involved oils, then all four girls got up and left. We weren’t sure if we were only getting a 45 minute massage, or if they would return. They did, having washed their hands of the oil and then they did head massages. Mmm good. And only $6 for over an hour and a cup of tea at the end.

Shopping:

We had Sam take us to both branches of Artisans d’Angkor. Both offer tours of the work shops, then some serious shopping. Prices aren’t cheap, but they are reasonable and the quality very nice.

The one in town has the wood and stone cutters, and two shops (the more hidden one carries a lot of spices). The branch outside town has a silk worm farm, weavers and a weaving museum. The shop has a lot more selection of silks and clothing.

We also liked the Senteur’s D’Angkor and another gallery on the same street across from the old market.

The traditional market had lots of scarves, wood and stone carvings, and bronze items. All antiques (yeah right!) Much of what they called silk was not, so be aware. There were regular market stalls as well with fish and vegetables, shoe shops, seamstresses, and many food booths.

We didn't purchase a lot of stuff, but it was fun wandering the town and the old market.

Money-
Everyone does business in US dollars. You’ll only see Riels as change for a dollar. There is an ATM in a little booth marked “Canadia”. It is a stand alone building, close to Dead Fish Tower. There were no fees, and your money will come out in mixed US bills- 50s, 20s, 10's and 5s. Seemed to be a $500 limit per day on our cards. We had brought lots of ones and twenties with us, and hit the ATM several times. I figured with no exchange rate or fees from the ATM, might as well avoid the credit card surcharges.

A traditional Khmer meal was included with our room at Hotel de la Paix, and we’d made reservations on the second night. I’d notified them in advance and again at check-in that we had two vegetarians. When we arrived though, it turned out the chef hadn’t gotten that detail, and he was unable to make the veggie meals. We were a bit peeved, especially when he charged us $12 for the two water bottles they’d brought when we were seated!

We almost decided to forget the meal, but later went ahead and re-reserved for another night. I also spoke with the hotel manager about the waters, and she removed them from our bill.

One thing about Cambodia is that the tourist industry is still pretty new, and service can be a bit uneven. When we went back to Meric the second time, the chef came out and offered us each a complementary cocktail for the inconvenience the previous visit. I looked at the menu- a glass of house wine was $6, cocktails $8-10, so I asked for a wine.

No dice. “Sorry, only cocktails” You just know that the manager had told him to offer us a cocktail, and that’s all he could do! So one daughter and I got some interesting martinis, and my husband and other daughter had virgin cocktails (a.k.a. fruit juice).

We were so glad we went back though. This meal was incredible. The presentation was stunning, and each course creative versions of traditional Khmer foods. I’m going to paraphrase a quote from another Fodorite, MelissaHI, and say that if some foods are better than sex, we were having orgies going on in our mouths!

The only course I was not enthralled with was the frog leg soup. I did try it, but something about poached frog legs.....

Here are the two menus:

(Regular)
Marinated Beef Salad with Lemon Grass
Green Mango and Chicken Salad
Deep-fried Fish with Tamarind Sauce
Khmer Organic White Rice
Frog Leg and Mushroom Sour Soup
Stir-fried Calamari with Fresh Green Pepper
Pineapple and Coconut Sour Soup with Prawns
Assorted Khmer Sweets
$28 (Additional $17 for Wine Pairing)

(Vegetarian)
Pomelo and Toasted Coconut Salad
Green Mango Salad
Watermelon Salad with Khmer Organic White Rice
Pumpkin Flower Stewed
Stir Fried Pineapple and Tomatoes
Vegetable Curry with Coconut
Assorted Khmer Sweets
$28 (Additional $17 for Wine Pairing)

Anyway, after four days at the Hotel de la Paix, we had to change hotels as they had sold out before we booked. We moved to the Prince D’Angkor, and the HDLP staff kindly offered to drive us there in lieu of the airport transfer. It turned out the guy who drove us used to work there, and sort of cryptically told us that it was not as nice as when he used to work there.

The Prince D’Ankor was an odd experience. It is definitely favored by the Korean tour groups, who seemed to be the dominant nationality everywhere. The hotel was very attractive and has a huge big saltwater pool, and a fun little casino. We had a Jr Suite ($160, high season rate) in the “traditional” building and our daughters had a regular room ($108) in the new wing on the 4th floor. Their room was nice with a large balcony overlooking the pool.

Our room was on the ground level at the end of the pool, behind some bushes. It was the exact room as the daughters, but with a four poster bed that blocked any view of the TV from the bed. In addition, the bathroom window was louvered only giving us lots of street noise and mosquitoes, and we couldn’t open our drapes without everyone at the pool looking in.

The room safe was pretty funny – it was about the size of a big shoebox and just sat on the table. Not bolted down, and no heavier than a notebook computer!

The front desk insisted we couldn’t have two keys for our rooms, which was difficult for our daughters. Finally the front desk agreed to give us another key with a $20 deposit. We also had to pay cash for our room, as apparently they had recently had a fight with their credit card server and a sign on the desk said they were only taking Visa now. Unfortunately I had made the deposit with Amex, and was not carrying a Visa card. Travelers checks would incur a 5% surcharge.

The breakfast that came with our rooms was buffet style, but none of us liked anything but the banana bread. The eggs were powdered, the juices watered way down. I love breakfast, but we passed on this the second day.

Anyway, we would not stay here again.

Our last day in Siem Reap was our school visit with Ponheary and her cute little nephew Fifi. She and a driver picked us up and we went to a school on the outskirts of town. The purpose of the trip today was to award bicycles to kids who were transferring to a high school much farther from home. There were about 20 renovated bikes in all colors, and the top student chose hers first and then they went down the list based on class standing.

We found it interesting that the kids would basically choose their bike with very little inspection, unlike American kids, who would have rung the bells and tested them before making a choice. The kids just seemed very grateful for the bikes.

We had an opportunity to go into a class room of about 30 eight year olds. Sentences were written on the white board. A fellow student would read the sentence and tap on the words with a big stick. The other students would recite after her till they reached the end, then another student would take up the stick. We had brought pencils and funny erasers and handed them out to the kids.

After class, we met with all the teachers in their “lounge” and Ponheary handed out $20 year end gifts. It was very touching to see how appreciative they all were. One woman asked Ponheary to let us know she would be using the money to buy a new outfit so she could look more professional. We were caught a little off guard when we realized she was telling them WE had donated the money and the bikes.

We had donated via the web site, but not nearly as much as she was handing out. Speeches were given and translated, but I felt a bit like a pretender. Luckily my father taught in a poor, inner city school in San Diego as a second career, so I was able to sincerely tell the teachers how important they are to the future of their community. They work so hard with so little in the way of supplies, facilities, and pay.

Ponheary later told us that it is just easier to act like she only a tour guide for the generous tourists. Doesn't want any undue attention. She's really amazing. Spoke very highly of many other Fodorites and had her nephew Fifi demonstrate "itsy bitsy spider", learned from TerryR’s daughter!

The next day, New Year’s Eve, we had a morning flight to Bangkok. Hok Vuthy drove us to the airport, and didn’t want to charge us, as we had tipped him really well on our last temple day.
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 02:06 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bangkok for New Year 2007

We again used AOT’s service to the Peninsula hotel (1050 baht for an SUV). This was my third stay at the Pen, and I love it! I also felt it would be the best place to watch the New Years Eve fireworks. We were given balcony rooms on the 26th floor.

After checking in , we all swam for a while, then we had reservations at Face Spa. They can only accommodate two people at a time, so my husband and older daughter headed out via Skytrain for their appointments at 2pm. Younger daughter and I followed about 2 hours later.

We had to walk about a hundred yards from the Skytrain station. It looked like a very interesting neighborhood, but most everything was closed for New Year’s eve. They were not quite ready for us at the spa, so we visited the pastry shop below Face. Apparently, they make desserts for many of the hotels. The pastries were incredible...

My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed our spa treatments as well. I had the coffee scrub, followed by the herbal compress massage. Totally heavenly; my most favorite massage ever!

Afterwards, we sipped tea by the little pond, then headed back. The proprietor stopped us on on way out and warned us that there had been a bombing at the Central World Dept Store. We passed it on the Skytrain, but nobody seemed excited, and other than lots of police in the area, things didn’t look odd.

Back at the river, we met husband and older daughter at Tongue Thai, behind the Oriental Hotel. Despite not having reservations on New Years Eve, we were seated immediately and had a wonderful meal. They do seem to tone down the spices, but it worked well for us, and I added spice to my plates.

Walking back to the pier at the Oriental, we had fun watching all the people coming for the NYE festivities there. All were in very formal wear, and the hotel was scrutinizing all ID. No one without reservations was allowed in, even “just for a drink”.

The Peninsula also had a gala affair on the lawn above the ferry dock. The hotel had asked us if we wanted to attend one of the parties back when we made our reservations, but they were very expensive and we didn’t want to dress up! Instead we headed up to our rooms with lots of snacks and ordered room service desserts for our own party till midnight.

I was so glad we had chosen the balcony rooms. We ended up spending the evening sitting out there, watching the festivities at the Pen, the Oriental, and even the Shangri-La.

At midnight, three barges floated right between the Pen and Oriental and put on a fabulous fireworks show. Lots of noise and many of the fireworks went off right at our eye level! It was so dramatic to be right in the midst of everything. When they finished, another barge came up and put on another big show. Good fun!

We weren’t sure what would be open on New Years day. The hotel had posted some updates on the bombings, but other than that, it was business as usual. Put on our yellow shirts, went back to SJ to pick up our stuff (and buy a bit more!), visited Wat Arun, swam at the Pen, and wandered the neighborhoods nearby.

In the late afternoon DD and I headed for the Emporium Mall, where she shopped and I had a GTG with Guenmai, first at her gorgeous big serviced apartment at Emporium Suites, then at a restaurant below for some heavenly cakes.

It was late when we got back to the Pen, and husband was a little under the weather, so we had a buffet dinner at the Hotel.


lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 02:09 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hong Kong

The next day we headed off to Hong Kong in the morning. Flew Gulf Air, and we were very glad it was only a two hour flight. The plane was old and rather dirty, the boarding was pretty much a free for all, and I’ve never seen so many families with huge numbers of kids traveling.

From the Airport, we took a taxi (about 200 HK$) to our hotel, the Salisbury YMCA. Despite the name, it is basically a mid range hotel in a wonderful location. We had Harbour view rooms, and the rooms did in fact have a great harbor view! The rooms were immaculate, rather plain, and the beds were very comfortable. We were on the 15th floor.

Breakfast was included, but I wouldn’t pay for it otherwise. It was the only thing that seemed like we were in a YMCA!

We had a lot of fun in HK- rode the Star Ferry over to the escalators, wandered the market streets, took the tram to the Peak, and had lunch at a Mexican/Chinese fusion restaurant near the top of the escalators. Despite warnings to the contrary, we went to the bird market, the pet markets and the Ladies market, and had fun wandering. My last visit was as a backpacker in 1982, when I stayed at Chun King Mansions. Hong Kong has about quadrupled in size and thankfully so has my travel budget, so it was like visiting a whole new place.

Daughters wanted to look at knock off purses, so we had the opportunity to follow the young vendors up to their “offices”. Into buildings, through the locked gates, up the elevators, then stopped at a steel door with a little window like a 1930's speakeasy. Kind of scary to think we were locked inside, but with all the other Asian girls in there shopping, I figured we were safe enough. The only time I was uneasy was when we were down near the YMCA and went up with an Indian vendor. My husband was with us this time, but I’d forgotten how aggressive Indian Salesmen can be. They had a very limited selection so we weren’t interested in even browsing, but they were very pushy and even gave us a hard time about exiting. Stick with the chinese teenagers if you do this.

Neither daughter bought a counterfeit. I don’t like piracy, and even they quickly realized a nice purse in the Prada/Chanel/ etc “style” is a better buy than a counterfeit one.

Hong Kong was very easy to get around by walking. ferry, street car, subway, and cab. All were very cheap. We had purchased Octopus cards, and loved them. Every city should do this!

We left early on our way out of the city to fly home. Taxi was 280HK$ this time.

Good thing we got there early, as the airport was very crowded, and is HUGE. It took us about 20 min to walk from security to our gate, and this didn’t include going back to eat. There are some great restaurants and shops in the airport, so time flew as we waited!

lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 02:11 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Last second comments on the Peninsula- Oriental Hotel debate:

I really prefer the Pen. The Oriental was nice, and I love their restaurants and location, but the rooms are fairly small, and they also have that weird window between the toilet and the bedroom. The room and furniture felt like a 5-star hotel in any city. The front desk people are very polite, but a little full of themselves.

The lobby, pool, and front door area were always crowded, and my daughters hated having to take a ferry to the exercise room and spa area.

The Pen’s rooms are so much bigger and so beautiful, and the views of the city and the river are really incredible.

I love the fact that there is either a dressing room or the large foyer between the bathroom and the bedroom and that all the rooms have big quiet doors. I like being able to have some privacy, even when I’m sharing a room with my husband. One night, I even took a chair into the dressing room and read for a while.

The new spa is beautiful (although expensive) and the lobbies were so spacious that the hotel seemed very private despite being 100% full.

The ferries to the Oriental hotel, Peninsula lobby on that side, or the Skytrain run constantly. We never waited for more than 2 or 3 minutes and the ride itself is also about 2 minutes. Really not an issue.


lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 05:06 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lucy-this is a great report. Your attention to detail was amazing. It brought back many fond memories and new opportunities. It sounds like your entire family had a wonderful time.

Nonetheless, a penalty will need to be assessed. While there are several mitigating factors, the detail in your report, your two visits to the Gallery Cafe (our favorite) and your generosity towards the PLF, a waiver might be perceived as playing favorites. I'll await further responses and suggestions concerning the severity of the penalty.

I hope we will see you in October.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 06:46 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
THE PENN RULES..

thanks, finally, for the report....it was worth waiting for....

DD's stuff continues to fetch huge prices on e bay...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 07:08 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,188
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lcuy, loved your report! It sounds like you outdid yourself at SJ!

What a wonderful trip... I can't wait to get back to bangkok in November.
Kathie is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 09:05 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,345
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for this fantastic report and it was well worth the wait.

I move that all penalties be paid by the prosecutor as this stellar report should not be subject to such trivial and petty scrutiny, lol

Linda just screamed in my ear that "SJ for Christmas is such a brilliant idea".....thanks Lucy

Looks like you had a nice family vacation, glad everything went so well.

No wonder the VN report is taking so long >

Tell your DH he needs to come to the HNL GTG we would all love to meet him!!!

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 10:00 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Petty and scrutiny are my mainstays. Moting Denied. I'm still open to suggestions. If we waived penalties everytime someone wrote a superaltive report, we'd get only great LATE reports. That is not what we're looking for.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 12:25 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I plead no contest. I've heard the penalty is viewing "Andy in Spandy pool pics". I'll accept my punishment in October as I for sure can't miss a Boston GTG? Or do you call it a Cambridge GTG?

Vietnam will be completed shortly. We have a GTG here in Honolulu next weekend, and I'm too ashamed to go without some major progress on that baby!

And Bob--- the e-bay comment got a big gasp (then a laugh)from DD!

Ah SJ....what a lovely place to go at any time of the year! Thanks to you, Kathie.

And Peter, we know you love it when Linda is on your arm tricked out in her jewels!!!

My husband always acts monku when someone compliments me on mine, but even when I hit Bangkok without him this last trip, he reminded me to clear my Visa card so I could pay at SJ!
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2007, 01:40 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No, it's a Boston GTG.

Speedos in October. Actually, in Boston they have a Speedo 3 mile race in January. Beth has forbidden me from entering, but I'm raring to go. I would of course wear the smallest of the small.

Throwing yourself on the mercy of the Forum may prevent the highest form of punishment, sitting next to Bob at lunch and dinner at the GTG.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2007, 02:20 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
MERCY! I BEG MERCY!
lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2007, 02:30 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Quick question. Of the dozen or so airlines that fly BKK-HKG, why and how did you choose Gulf Air? Price alone, or price and something else?
rkkwan is offline  
Old Aug 4th, 2007, 04:35 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,644
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It was the only one that was reasonably priced at that time..If I remember, all the others were about 4 or 5 times as much for that morning.

Someone here said it wasn't a bad airline, and it was a short flight (comparatively) so I didn't really think about it.

won't make that mistake again!

lcuy is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2007, 12:38 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My son flew Gulf Air from Paris-BKK. He said it was the single worst airline he's ever been on. The planes were not remotely clean. It was $400 cheaper, however.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2007, 07:49 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
i promise to behave as long as i do not have to ever sit next to gpanda and a former love and classmate again at a dinner...
rhkkmk is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information