Saturday, July 28, 2018

A NEW SITE FOR THIS BLOG!

Ever since I travelled and wrote blogs about it here on this site, Google has given me a headache with the login. When abroad it never works and I get blocked by Google.  Now that I continue to write from home I do have to go through endless rounds of identifying myself, even though I use the same equipment and network. I have had enough! So, I am now continuing to write my travel blogs on WordPress and on a slightly different domain - www.mysightsandplaces.com 
 

I will keep the old content from 2012 to mid 2018 on here as an archive, however if you registered to follow this site, take note of the new name and domain. Thanks!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

SALANA BOUTIQUE HOTEL VIENTIANE

Back to my favourite Hotel in Vientiane and what a pleasure this stay was! Compared to my first visit, which I posted 4 years ago, the Hotel made huge steps forward in Service!  While 4 years ago you could hardly find someone who speaks English and we had several mishaps with our breakfast order, it all went smoothly this time. The rooms and the hotel still looked pretty much the same, which is not a given for Hotels in SE Asia!!  Some Hotels we revisited had completely changed just in one year. At the Salana everything was just perfect. A great stay and the best decision to book it for our 10 day stay this time! Location still great, Service at it's best, Breakfast was great. Loved the Bar with the balcony at the 4th floor with a nice view over Vientiane. 

So, my updated personal rating looks like this now:

Location 5 of 5
Room Size 5 of 5
WiFi free and working 5 of 5
Breakfast included and yummy 5 of 5
Staff competency and friendliness 5 of 5
Safety box in the room and adequate size 5 of 5
Bathroom functionality 5 of 5
Room design and functionality 5 of 5 
Sounds 5 of 5










Bar on the 4th floor

Bar on the 4th floor


 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

PINNACLE LUMPINI HOTEL - BANGKOK

Back to the Pinnacle yet again and it is still my first choice when going to Bangkok. Like I said in former reviews, it is not a fancy hotel, but I like their location. The rooms are big and clean and the price is very competitive! It is probably the hotel I have stayed in the longest over the years and my many many Bangkok visits. I have stayed in dozens of Hotels up on Sukhumvit Road before, some a few times and some only once. The Pinnacle is still my first choice when visiting Bangkok. 

I have posted a lot of photos of the rooms before. It really doesn't change that much. what has changed is the view!! And what a change! I always preferred the view to the west side of the Hotel but now a HUGE construction zone is the major eye catcher and definitely also noise generator at night. Work has just started when I visited in May and June, but the trucks go all night long and when the go backwards, you hear a very disturbing "beep...beep...beep". I had two rooms this visit and the one on the 13th floor seemed much louder. Maybe the windows did not completely lock up there. The second room on the 10th floor seemed a bit better.  Several street blocks of the new "One Bangkok" are being built here now on 16.2 hectares space and it will be a new mega city withing the heart of Bangkok. Surely construction noise will increase as will traffic and once this new mega city is finished I am certain that this quiet neighborhood will just be as busy as Sukhumvit Road today.

As for the rest of the Hotel, it seemed that some of the staff was still around and was still friendly and helpful. I had a feeling though that management might have changed. The were targeting European, or German tourists as they can also now be found in German booking sites. The breakfast was still good and the selections had been re-arranged a bit. They also seemed to have a new manager/chef who was very helpful with providing English answers to questions on the food selections. 

On the pool deck, definitely work has to be done. Some of the chairs were in a very bad shape. However, I visited during the rainy season, so the Hotel might just hold off before any improvements are done. The fitness room on the 14th floor had some new equipment in, but I did not even test it during this visit. 

Location is still great. Easy to get to from the airport and easy to get away from. MRT station is also within walking distance, though not with lots of luggage. 







 


Sunday, June 24, 2018

WHERE DID MY LAND OF SMILES GO?

Back in Thailand - back in Bangkok for the first time since H.M. King Bumiphol died and the country was in mourning for a year. Already during my last visit at the end of 2016 I noticed that the smiles had been gone, but that was natural, given what had just happened to my favourite country!

Ever since the 1990s we used to come to Thailand, the LOS - the Land Of Smiles, for the smiles! And the smiles are gone!! Completely gone! Not because of mourning anymore but because a whole nation is just staring into their mobile phones!  A full train of the MRT (the subway) or a full train of the BTS (the sky train) will sit or stand there and EVERYONE is staring at their phone. Chatting, gambling, playing, listening to music, watching TV shows, scanning Facebook posts!  Naturally young people, but also the old folks sit their with their tablets!  On one train I was the ONLY person not using the phone. 

I used to meet new people in Thailand all the time. All over the country. I went to 68 provinces and met new people on every trip. On this trip? Not a single person!  The only people I interacted with and I met were friends I had met before on earlier trips. Nobody is looking at you anymore. Not in the streets, not in the subway stations, not in the restaurants, not at the pool of the hotel!  Even service staff in restaurants or shops! Sad!  

So, why go to the Land of Smiles if there is no more smiles? I can also spend my money some place else. Maybe in a country which is a bit more backwards in terms of technology usage? Laos maybe! Myanmar maybe! But things are also changing fast there. However, those were never called the Land of Smiles, so the disappointment is not there.

The only new person I met on this trip was a novice monk from Laos on the flight to Bangkok - he smiled at me and we started a conversation, sat next to each other on the plane and exchanged contact information. But the Land of Smiles is definitely gone!

Monday, January 22, 2018

MY LAST F1 RACE IN MALAYSIA

Well, it was the grande F1NALE of the Formula 1 races in Sepang, Malaysia. And what a great finale it was! Somehow I had the feeling that the officials organized an extra great race to make us all feel extra sorry! Besides the rain, and a lot of rain, the organizers opened up the seating, so we were no longer able to buy the seats we had in the past few races, but we had to chose a seat in our ticket area. Actually worked out fine. I chose different seats and to my surprise even the Friday practise day was very well frequented. In the past years the Friday was kind of a boring day where you had plenty of seats available. 

As for transportation I stuck to my former methods which was the combination ticket between KLIA Ekspres train and shuttle bus, which still seemed to be the fastest way to get to the race. That is, if the BUS drivers don't get lost! On our way to the Sepang race track the bus driver turned left one street too early and I was wondering where we are going, passing the race track and ending up in some plantation and farmland. We had to turn around and the whole bus was laughing!  

The race was great! The weather wasn't and I am not sure why the organizers moved the  race from March to September. I had a feeling that it rained much more than before and while I was able to organize other activities around the race, September proved to be a really really bad month to visit Malaysia. It basically rained almost every day before and after the race. 

So, farewell my dear F1 race in Sepang. We will miss you!!