Taste of Asia - Trip Report

Old Sep 14th, 2008, 11:19 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 185
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Taste of Asia - Trip Report

Hello everyone,

Thank you again for your help on planning my first trip to Asia, giving me a taste of several countries. Too short I know, but it was what I was looking for in a first visit.

Flight: We flew from Toronto direct to Hong Kong, and connected to Beijing. Took advantage of air miles to book business class with Cathay. Cathay's new business class seats (angled so every seat has isle access) are a great way to survive the long flight. The service was excellent, and I passed the time as best I could. 2 hour connection, and we were on our way to Beijing.

Beijing: We arrived at Beijing around 8 pm local time, and quickly made my way through customs. We made our way to the taxi que, and was soon at the taxi. This is where I first experienced the language barrior, and I needed to find the phone number of the hotel for the driver to figure out where to go. Just part of the experience, and I was very happy to be there. Our hotel for the next three days would be Raffles. I had booked the hotel online, and received an excellent deal, including buffet breakfest. The hotel itself was what you expect in a 5 star hotel - good quality and service... with prices to match. The room was large and clean, and the daily breakfest excellent. I did have a learning experience on the first night as I decided to have a couple of beers in the hotel bar... before I realized the beers were about $12.00 USD each. Despite the costs, I had some great conversations with the hotel staff, as they were as curious about Canada as I was about China. I really liked the hotel's location, in that it was a 5 minute walk to T Square, and the Forbidden City. For the overall experience, price, and location, I would highly recommend Raffles.

We decided to have a private tour for a couple of days, and had a driver arranged, and a local guide provide an excellent tour. I have to say the Great Wall was unbelievable, and an amazing site... though my legs were very sore after climbing up and down all those steps... I lost count, but it had to have been several hundred. Following the great wall, we visited the Ming Tombs, and finished with the summer palace. It was an excellent way to spend the day. There was not too many tourists, and we took our time. We had a great local dinner, and spent some time at a local pub.

The next day, we toured Tiananman Square followed by the Forbidden Palace. In the afternoon, we toured the Temple of Heaven, and visited the Beijing Zoo. I enjoyed everything that we saw, expect for the Zoo, and would not recommend visiting it unless you really want to (it was in sad shape, and the animals didnt look too good). In the evening, we had a great Peking Duck meal.

The following day was for some shopping (a great mall was right by the hotel), and a visit to the Olympic venue. Very quickly our 3 days in Beijing was coming to an end, and we were off to the airport for our 8 PM flight to Bangkok.

Flight to Bangkok: The flight timing worked well for us, and the cost of First Class was the same as economy for Thai air, so we chose Egypt Air. I have to say the flight was on time, and the service was good. The plane was a little older, and wasnt the cleanest, but for the price, I really couldnt complain. We arrived in Bangkok around 11:30.
richardfh is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2008, 11:24 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
great start, looking forward to your thoughts on BKK
Smeagol is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2008, 01:33 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,324
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Thanks for the report! But: "the beers were about $12.00 USD each" - amazing....
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2008, 05:41 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,051
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
i would have taken thai and skipped 1st class on egypt air----one of the worst airlines which somehow continues to exist even today...

anxious to read all about bkk et al
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Sep 17th, 2008, 05:36 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 185
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bangkok

Hotel: I chose the Peninsula, and I have to tell you, I was not at all disappointed. They are a world class hotel, and they definitely lived up to their reputation. The service was amazing, the food excellent, and I really enjoyed the spa. I also have to say their prices were not unreasonable (for a high end hotel). The pampering they provided was exactly what I was expecting and what was received. I will definitely stay there again.

I had originally booked with Tong, but unfortunately she called me early to let me know she was not well, and that Charlie would be filling in for her. As promised Charlie was waiting downstairs for me, and off we went. For those who have had Charlie before he is a lot of fun, with a lot of jokes. I very much enjoyed my time with him. We made our way through traffic, and went to the floating market. During the long trip Charlie filled me in on the history of Thailand along with the Royal Family (luckily there was no quiz afterwords). We had a nice visit in town at the market, where a train comes through. Of course we were "lucky" to arrive just before the train got there. An interesting place. Next, we were off to the floating market. I wont go into any details, but we had a nice casual visit. From there we were off to the river Kwai Bridge with another "lucky" train crossing. There was not a lot of tourists at this time of the year, which was nice. The hightlite of the day had to be our next stop, the Tiger Temple. While I understand people have different opinions of this place, I'll just say I had a great visit, and felt the trip was well worth while. Charlie was amazing, and somehow got me to the front of the line pretty much everywhere. At the beginning he somehow talked them into letting me feed a tiger milk with a bottle. While Charlie took some pictures, the other tour guides tried to get their "charges" a similiar situation, to no avail. Starting to get tired, Charlie was nice to have cold water and towels at the car. What a great day. On the way back I mentioned I was interested in visiting Patpong (I couldnt resist). Charlie volunteered to come back and get me, for a "guided" tour. I wont go into details, but let me say I can now say Ive been there and done that. Probably not something I will do again, but I wanted to at least experience the sites while I was there.

The next day I had Charlie again, and we did the usual City Sites tour. We did the tour in a nice slow schedule, and took our time seeing the sites. I had a great time, and again Charlie was his usual entertaining self. That night dinner was somewhere in town (forget name), and the food was excellent.

For the third day, it was one of just relaxation. Some time spent at the Peninsula Pool, along with a couple hours at the spa. After going pretty hard for several days, it was really nice to have a relaxing day. Did a little shopping, and just walking around in Chinatown, seeing the sites.

The next day was an early morning flight to Phnom Penh. Overall, I had a great first visit to Bangkok, and I look forward to my next visit.
richardfh is offline  
Old Sep 17th, 2008, 07:42 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,264
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm enjoying reading about your experience and I look forward to more!
Kathie is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 07:09 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 42
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Very impressive travel experience. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Chinaren is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 09:08 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sounds like you had a terrific trip! Please continue!

(You're one of the few to report having gone to Patpong! LOL!)
easytraveler is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2008, 08:53 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 185
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I forgot to add, when I was in Bangkok, there was a lot of news about the government, strikes, etc. A lot of people were checking out of the Peninsula as their companies were recalling them home. Despite all that I saw nothing of concern, and have to say the hotel kept us up to date several times per day with the latest news... very impressive I have to say.
richardfh is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2008, 09:25 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 185
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cambodia

I wanted to see a little of the capital in Phnom Penh, so flew directly there from Bankok. The flight was nice and short (under an hour) with Thai Air business class. I arrived at PP around 9 am, and took approximately 15 minutes to get my visa and go through immigration. There were no problems, and for those like me who dont like to send away their passports, getting your visa at the border was an easy way to go.

I had arranged with Ponheary for my tour of Siem Reap, and she was also able to arrange someone to pick me up at the airport, have a tour, and transport to Siem Reap. After going through immigration, I was pleased to see my guide for the day (Ponheary's sister and brother in law). We set off to the national museum, and had a tour of the Palace. The museum didnt really have a lot, but I liked the museum. I have to say PP was a very busy City, and there was a lot of traffic. One of the things I wanted to do on my visit was to go to one of the gun ranges, so it was arranged for me to visit the local military facility. While it wasnt cheap, I was able to shoot a M-60 machine gun. Not for everyone I know, but something I wanted to do. They had a full range of guns and price points for those who are interested. We left PP, and started our long cross country tour to Siem Reap around noon. While I could have flew to Siem Reap, I liked the idea of a drive, and to see a little of the country. For the first couple of hours I was somewhat regretting my decision as there was a lot of traffic including bikes and motorcycles. The going was slow, and there was not a lot to see. After a couple of hours, things sped up, and we made a comfortable pace. I found it nice and relaxing to sit back and watch the country side go by. After about 5 total hours, we arrived at Siem Reap, and my hotel, Raffles. A note for people going to Cambodia here, the Bank machines issues US Dollars, which are widely accepted as currency. I checked into the hotel, and decided to relax with a couple hour spa experience, which I have to say was excellent, and for a high end hotel relatively well priced. I went into town to explore on a tuk tuk, and walked around to see the sites. I enjoyed the patios, and people I met. Yes, there was the usual people looking for money, but they really were not that bad, and I never had any issues. I went back to the hotel for last call at the hotel bar, and had a great conversation with the staff.

The next day I was picked up early by Dara and our driver. As I only had a day and a half to see the sites, we discussed what I wanted to see, and we made our plans. On the way to our first site, Dara asked if I wanted to stop by the local military facility for more target shooting. I figured why not, and tried out a couple of different guns. Note for those interested, the facilities are basically the same for either Siem Reap or PP, so it wouldnt matter which you went to. Dara proceeded to take me on a tour of varios ruins. I was extremely impressed that even though many of the sites were busy, Dara seemed to know a route that avoided the masses, and allowed one to explore in somewhat piece. He also knew a lot of good places for pictures (reflection in the water, etc.). I enjoyed my time with Dara, and thought him an excellent guide. We took a break during the afteroon for a couple of hours, and toured again for the rest of the afternoon. Again we toured opposite of the "busses", so avoided a lot of the masses. Back at the hotel after my day, I went to a local place to eat that was recommended by Dara (forget name), and the food was very good.

We had arranged my next day to do the sunrise at the main temple, so we started very early. Dara brought me to a great place to stay, awaiting the sunrise. While there were a lot of people around, most seemed to leave as soon as the sun rose. That worked for me, as we had a lot of piece of quiet to explore for the rest of the morning. We got back to the hotel around noon, and with regret, I checked out. I asked Dara to take me shopping, and we went to a couple of places, and finally to the airport for my afternoon flight to Sabah, Malaysia.

Hotel: Raffles Siem Reap was perhaps the best service hotel that I have ever experienced. It seemed like everyone knew my name (though they called me Mr. Richard as many couldnt say my last name, lol). Everything one could think of, they had, down to cold towels every time you came back to the hotel. My room was nice, and I had no complaints staying in the older, main building. I think the cost was $175.00 per night, including breakfast. While I know you can get cheaper in Siem Reap, for me it was well worth the cost for the comfort and service (again, to each their own). If you are going to SR, and want some luxury, I would highly recommend Raffles. Their biggest asset was their staff, and how they treat their guests.
richardfh is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2008, 04:31 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 105
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm enjoying your report. Sounds like you saw a lot on your trip.
tnnc2 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
layanluvstotravel
Asia
9
May 9th, 2014 12:02 PM
travelmom13
Asia
15
Feb 20th, 2009 01:53 PM
tanuki
Asia
18
Feb 18th, 2006 06:02 AM
Dianne
Asia
25
Jun 7th, 2002 05:57 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

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


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:07 PM.