Author Topic: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong  (Read 5733 times)

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #75 on: August 20, 2013, 04:15:46 PM »
140,000 UR/UA for OZ Suites to BKK round trip.

190,000 UR/KE off peak for KE Kosmo Suite to BKK/SIN etc round trip.

Both can be one-ways.
What are the charges, if any for < 6 month old?
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline AJK

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #76 on: August 20, 2013, 04:19:06 PM »
2014: 74K miles flown|36K to go|1.38M miles burned|In F: EK+LH+JL+OZ+QF+BA+CX+TG+JJ+AA+SQ R|CPT, DXB, SIN, DPS, AKL, GRU

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #77 on: August 20, 2013, 04:25:39 PM »
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline AJK

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #78 on: August 20, 2013, 04:35:12 PM »
Thanks. Will do some research on this.

Let us know what you find...
2014: 74K miles flown|36K to go|1.38M miles burned|In F: EK+LH+JL+OZ+QF+BA+CX+TG+JJ+AA+SQ R|CPT, DXB, SIN, DPS, AKL, GRU

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #79 on: August 20, 2013, 04:41:17 PM »
Let us know what you find...
OZ and KE
" Will I pay for my infant to travel internationally?
Yes, a child under 2 years old (24 months) is charged 10% of an adult fare plus taxes, even if the infant will be on the lap of another passenger for the flight. "

-From SeatGuru
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Offline AJK

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #80 on: August 20, 2013, 04:43:39 PM »
Ouch. Got any grandparents to drop the kid off with?
2014: 74K miles flown|36K to go|1.38M miles burned|In F: EK+LH+JL+OZ+QF+BA+CX+TG+JJ+AA+SQ R|CPT, DXB, SIN, DPS, AKL, GRU

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #81 on: August 20, 2013, 04:45:34 PM »
Ouch. Got any grandparents to drop the kid off with?
Possibly can, but not sure about leaving the kid for >7 days.

Maybe i'll rack up some "extra miles" to pay for this.
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Offline Dan

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #82 on: August 20, 2013, 04:50:09 PM »
1. It goes by the miles you have, not the flight operator.
2. I don't think I'd trust SG on this topic.

Here is the proper thread: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=12574.0
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Offline rots5

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #83 on: August 20, 2013, 05:34:36 PM »
Ouch. Got any grandparents to drop the kid off with?
+1
If you have any questions please search and then ask. PM me for detailed help.

Offline AJK

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #84 on: October 01, 2013, 03:51:56 PM »
The next morning we woke up early to be ready for an 8:45 am pick up for Flight of the Gibbon-one of the longest zip lining courses in Asia. AJK had gotten a great rate from an Israeli travel agency and we had heard amazing things about this place. There are quite a few places that offer zip line courses, but this was supposed to be the best one.

There were four other travelers in the van when it came to pick us up. After a few seconds of listening to them, we heard lots of Hebrew and gathered that they were backpacking friends traveling after their army service (about as common in Thailand as massage parlors).

The drive up to the course was about 75 minutes through some really unbelievable scenery. We arrived on the peak of a tall mountain to a small little shop where we were able to put our stuff in lockers, and again sign our lives away (AJK and I were getting pretty used to doing that by this point), and receive our ziplining equipment. As we were being handed equipment by a few Thai guys, I heard Hebrew being spoken, which wouldn’t be odd if it hadn’t been coming out of the mouth of the Thai tour guide.

Apparently, they deal with so many Israeli tourists that these guys have picked up pretty passable Hebrew. When I say ‘pretty passable’ I mean better than my Hebrew, which after twelve years of Ivrit class and a year spent in Israel, is pathetic. Our guides were awesome with pretty fluent English and as mentioned, pretty darn fluent Hebrew as well. The course took about two hours but can be longer if you have more people in your group or if there are slower groups in front of you. The course is all zip lines, as opposed to other courses where there are also obstacle courses in the trees etc.

You basically clip your harness on and your feet barely touch the ground for the rest of the time. You also really don’t need to do anything as the guides unclip you, push you off the edge of the platform and clip you in on the other side. The longest zip line was 800 meters of you flying through the air over treetops and giving you a great view of Thai jungle spread around you. There was also a really neat one where they clip you in on your back and you can fly hanging forward instead of sitting back in your harness like the other ones.



It is not something I would recommend for people with a fear of heights, but I would recommend getting over your fear of heights and doing this. You won’t regret it. It was two hours of unadulterated fun and flying. We also had a great time getting to know the girls and joking around with the tour guides.

After the tour we drove back to the Flight of the Gibbon headquarters were we had started from. There, they served up a meal that looked quite scrumptious, and was included in the price of the tickets. AJK and I enjoyed some refreshing sodas while chatting with other tourists. It seems that AJK and I were the only people foolish enough to think that coming to Thailand for two weeks was a vacation.

Every single person we encountered was on some leg of a three month, five month, or longer trek around the world. Or, as in the case of one young lady we met, a year-long odyssey of touring. We were also the only people to come up with the idea of traveling with a friend or at the very least someone you knew. It seemed to be the cool thing to head out on your trek alone, and then meet people in whatever city you find yourself in and then if you want, make plans to head out to the next country together. After asking people how they know each other and hearing, “we don’t, we met at a hostel in Cambodia,” one too many times we just stopped asking. 

For the sake of fitting in we started telling people that the two of us were unacquainted travel buddies and just managed to hit it off really well.

After the meal, the guides drove us to a beautiful waterfall about five minutes away where we had the option of hiking up to the top.



AJK and I chose to head up to the top, but after about twenty minutes of vertical steps and no improvement in the scenery department we chose to head back down. It was very beautiful, but quite as easy to enjoy from the bottom as from the top.



We then headed back to the van where we settled in for the drive back down to the city. As it was erev Shabbos we were relieved to be heading back in plenty of time before sunset. We were guaranteed by the travel agency that we would be back in plenty of time before Shabbos and they were right, so it turned out that it was a great erev Shabbos activity. We got back to the hotel with about two hours to spare and while I swam and enjoyed the view by the pool, AJK got back on the phone with ticketing agents to continue working out our return flight details.

The sun continued slowly setting behind Doi Suthep mountain, casting a warm glow of buttery yellow over the hotel and the entire city. We got dressed for Shabbos and headed out to walk to Chabad. Upon arriving there we found about fifteen guys davening, and about forty young Israeli travelers sitting around schmoozing. During busy season we were told that they host anywhere from 200-500 backpackers usually accommodated in several seatings, but since it was not major tourist season this was the turnout. 

We sat next to a young couple from LA who were on their way to making aliyah. They had decided to backpack through Asia for six months while “on their way.” We had a very entertaining meal with them listening to some of their most recent escapades, while enjoying food that was actually very delicious. After the meal, when most of the young Israelis had left they pulled together all the tables and put out fruit and dessert for a small oneg. A few minutes later we realized that we were the only ones there who couldn’t speak Hebrew. It became apparent that the Thai tour guides from the zip line place would probably understand more of what was going on than us, so we decided to head back to the hotel.

It wasn’t very difficult to explain to the front-desk lady that we couldn’t use the elevator and a few minutes later a security guard came over and walked us around to the stair entrance and unlocked the door for us. Because the doors to the stairs on each floor need to be opened with a security key, we made an appointment for him to come get us at 9:30am the next morning. We fell into bed and slept soundly until the next morning.

At 9:30 on the dot, there was a knock on our door and the security guard from the night before was there to walk us down to the main lobby. Now, we were on the 18th floor so walking up or down the non air-conditioned stairwell was by no means pleasant. We had thought about switching to a lower floor before Shabbos for about a hot minute, before glancing out our window at the expansive view of Doi Suthep mountain that our room afforded and we quickly changed our minds. This security guard insisted on walking down the stairwell with us and I honestly just felt bad for him in his heavy suit and tie. He, however, insisted that he needed the exercise. On our way down we brought with us some books and things for sitting by the pool later. Our plan was to come back from lunch and only hike up four flights and sit by the pool until Shabbos ended and then take the elevator the remaining fourteen flights to our room.

We walked to Chabad in the broiling heat and were glad to make it into the air-conditioning. There were only about twenty people for lunch with none of the previous night’s young Israelis making a reappearance. The young traveling couple was there and we enjoyed sitting with them again. After lunch, we walked back with this other couple and parted ways at our hotel with plans to meet up the next night to do the night market together. We spent the whole afternoon sitting by the pool, reading, talking, and relaxing. We even got a few mango and strawberry slushy drinks and enjoyed the ice-y deliciousness. We ended up staying by the pool until Shabbos was over and then we headed back upstairs where we showered, changed and headed out to the Saturday night market. We stopped back at Chabad to grab a delicious dinner of schnitzel and French fries, and also headed next door to 669- an Israeli travel agency to make plans for the next day.



We then walked towards the Saturday night market. While the Sunday night market is where all the action is at, there are smaller markets every night of the week. We enjoyed walking around and even ran into the couple again and shared a Tuk-Tuk back to our hotel which was near where they were staying.
2014: 74K miles flown|36K to go|1.38M miles burned|In F: EK+LH+JL+OZ+QF+BA+CX+TG+JJ+AA+SQ R|CPT, DXB, SIN, DPS, AKL, GRU

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #85 on: October 01, 2013, 03:59:28 PM »
Was eagerly waiting the rest of the report. Thanks for posting more.
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Offline AJK

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #86 on: October 01, 2013, 04:39:01 PM »
Sunday morning dawned humid and hot. While getting dressed for the day’s activities, AJK and I realized that although we had brought two huge suitcases, we were going through our clothing at an alarming rate. This may have been due, in no small part, to the activities we had been partaking in. Hanging around with tigers, ATV-ing and flying through the trees are not exactly ways to keep your clothes in tip-top shape. Luckily, laundry, like most other things in Thailand is dirt cheap. I ran across the street from the hotel with our laundry in hand and entrusted it to a small Thai woman who told me I could come pick it up later that evening.

With that taken care of I headed back to the lobby to wait for the van to come pick us up for that day’s activities. AJK meanwhile, you guessed it, was back upstairs on the phone with United. I was starting to realize that this was desperately important to him. I wasn’t sure at that point what this was, but something to do with the make of the airplane that we would be flying back on. I think it was some model of a plane versus another one but I didn’t quite understand the intricacies. Either way, it was of crucial importance to him so I didn’t mind being the lookout in the lobby for the van. Seeing as most mornings since we got there AJK was upstairs on the phone with United, we had worked out a little system. I would stand watch and then, when I saw the van for our activity pull into the hotel driveway I would dash inside call AJK on the lobby phone and run outside to distract the driver until AJK finished his talk with the United representative and made his way downstairs.

Sunday’s activity was one of the most exciting, wonderful treats ever. AJK, knowing how much I adore elephants and most things animal related (snakes and sharks aside), had arranged for us to spend all day at an elephant farm. Like with all other touristy things in Chaing Mai, there are tens of places you could go to do the same or similar activities. This specific elephant farm had been recommended to us by our new friends who we had met at Chabad and by a few hundred of our closest friends on Trip Advisor.

It seems that at some of the elephant parks the elephants are treated poorly. That would have sapped all my enjoyment of the day, so we chose to head to this one where we were told that the elephants were treated well and it was more of a rescue park for elephants than a tourist trap. The ride there took about forty minutes and we were one of four couples in the van heading to Bong Choi for a day with the elephants. As soon as we got there we were surrounded by about thirty or so elephants being fed bananas and sugar cane by tourists wearing denim jumpsuits. While the fashion choice was a bit lacking in my opinion, the choice of activity was more than awesome.



Pretty soon our guide handed us our own fabulous denim jumpsuits to change into. Understandably, hanging out with elephants all day is not the cleanest of activities so they are kind enough to lend you a genuine “mahout” outfit for your day with the elephants. Mahout is the Thai term for the guys who train the elephants and pretty much sleep, eat, and live with the elephants for their whole lives (both the mahouts and the elephants). This was mahout boot camp.

We quickly changed and headed out to meet the rest of our group. Our guide gathered us into a circle and gave us a quick history of the elephant farm. Due to his heavy accent and extremely limited English, (and let’s be honest, because I was standing twenty feet away from more elephants than I had seen in my life), I caught the word elephant three times and that is all. We then were dispatched to an area with large wicker baskets filled to the brim with bananas and sugar cane. We were instructed to pick up a basket and bring it over to the elephants and begin feeding them. This is just one of the many times that reminded me, I wasn’t in America anymore Toto. No waivers this time, no instructions, no words of wisdom to avoid being stepped on and crushed by these behemoth giants. Nothing, just “go feed the elephants bananas.”

I followed these instructions with unbridled glee, running around to the various elephants and literally handing them a bundle of bananas right into their outstretched trunks. One elephant even let us put the bunch directly into his mouth. There was an adorable little baby elephant who stretched out his trunk to kiss me on the check and at the last second turned it into a mouth-on-mouth experience, that was less fun than it sounds, let’s leave it at that. There were big elephants, small elephants, babies, seventy year olds, cute ones, funny looking ones, males, females, tusks, long, strong trunks…we were surrounded with elephants and I was loving it.







After feeding them for about twenty minutes, and getting a lot more elephant kisses in the process, we were led over to an area that had a bench and a little clearing in front of it. We all sat down and watched as two large, lumbering elephants with mahouts on their backs made their way over to where we were sitting. It was time for our first elephant riding lesson!

The gist of it is this: get on, and then do not fall off. The elephants somehow lower themselves onto their stomachs with their feet tucked under them and then you can climb up on their knee or just swing yourself onto their back. The key then is to hold onto their ears for dear life as they ungracefully un-tuck their legs and rise back to their full, towering height. I will tell you this, riding an elephant is scarier than it looks and elephants are bigger when you’re sitting on them than they appear from the ground.



We all took turns learning how to get on the elephants, stay on the elephants and practice a few elephant commands that are pretty much useless. When you are an elephant, and you weigh 1,000 pounds, and you have something on your back that at most, weighs as much as your trunk you are so not listening to that person yell at you in their pathetic newly-learned Thai. For future reference however, should you need a Thai elephant to get down on its knees so you can get on its back, you can try saying “nonlong.” If that works, then by all means pull out all the stops and tell it to “byby,” which means go, and “qwei,” which means turn. 

After our brief and not nearly exhaustive enough tutorial session we were each assigned an elephant. AJK and my elephant was medium sized and we both swung up on her back like the professional mahouts we were. I sat up front, basically on her head and AJK sat about a foot behind me. There is almost nothing as scary as being on an elephant’s head when they are standing up from a sitting position. I’m sure many of you can relate.



In the process of standing up they put their heads forward and down, and then they raise their heads back up when they are fully standing. This basically leaves you feeling like you are about to pitch head-forward from the back of a twelve foot elephant and crack your skull open. We were warned to really hold on when they stand up because many a tourist has had their day cut short with a broken arm or wrist incurred while toppling from the back of an elephant. It’s a good story to tell when you get home but it will really ruin your day.

Suffice it say, I held on so tightly to that elephant’s ears that she had handprints on them when I finally let go. It is unfortunate that elephants like to use their ears as a cooling system by swinging them back and forth to send cool air over their backs, because this elephant did not get that opportunity.

What she was able to do however, was another neat elephant trick. When elephants drink water they sometimes store some of that water in a pocket in their mouth which they can then reach into with their trunks and spray over their backs in an effort to cool off. Because I was holding so tightly to her ears cutting off the option of using them fans, she resorted to spraying herself and us with a delightful mixture of warm, half-swallowed elephant water and gooey mucus-y saliva, it was delightful and refreshing.



We started up the steep side of a mountain with both AJK and I hanging on for dear life. While watching my life flash before my eyes, I did pause to realize that I was sitting on the back of an elephant somewhere in the mountaintops of Thailand, and with that thought I decided to just enjoy the trek even if I did end up falling off and getting smushed, like I said, it would make a good story.
2014: 74K miles flown|36K to go|1.38M miles burned|In F: EK+LH+JL+OZ+QF+BA+CX+TG+JJ+AA+SQ R|CPT, DXB, SIN, DPS, AKL, GRU

Offline Dan

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #87 on: October 01, 2013, 07:43:10 PM »
Wow, a lot more intense than Mae-sa!
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Offline AJK

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #88 on: October 01, 2013, 08:59:05 PM »
Much.
2014: 74K miles flown|36K to go|1.38M miles burned|In F: EK+LH+JL+OZ+QF+BA+CX+TG+JJ+AA+SQ R|CPT, DXB, SIN, DPS, AKL, GRU

Offline Drago

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Re: Southeast Asia with a Splash of Hong Kong
« Reply #89 on: October 02, 2013, 05:39:42 AM »
Wow, love the elephant camp stuff.
Any idea if these exist in the south?