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Re: And You Thought NYC And LA Traffic Was Bad... "Hi Honey, traffics really bad, I'll be home for dinner in 2 months."
August 25, 2010, 02:32:11 PM
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Re: Bora Bora Master Thread Ya that's called an ad, not a trip report.

Full details and pics please!!!

August 12, 2012, 09:48:18 AM
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Re: Amalfi Coast Master Thread
Are all these trips doable with kids?
You're asking a guy that flew 150,000 miles with kids :D

May 27, 2013, 11:51:46 AM
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{ALIVE AGAIN} Baby Present for Dan: (DAN/JJ DO NOT READ THIS THREAD) Anyone up for a collection to buy Dan a baby present?

Lets start a collection I think we can raise enough money for a very nice gift.

Then we will find an item.

Anyone want to be in charge?

September 17, 2013, 09:35:29 AM
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Re: Airbus vs Boeing
True, but the question is, what do you fly when you're using a fight simulator.
F-22 8)

July 02, 2015, 10:34:38 PM
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Re: Abortion = Murder? @JTZ,

I've often read your posts and I respect you a lot, but i've have thought that many of your post indicate that you seem to misunderstand something basic about Judaism.

While Judaism contains many elegant and neat truths, and is taught and studied and expounded upon by intellectual greats who use logic to decipher it's codes and come up with new laws and rulings- ultimately, it is NOT a logical or rational religion.

At first, however, in our search for Truth we are bound to logic and our limited capacity to understand truth.
When Abraham looked around the world, it was with logical conclusion that realized that there must be G-d in the world, and that it wasn't those idols his fellows worshipped.
So, acknowledging a Higher Power, and evaluatinge a religion is still within the realm of logic. And every ounce and every capacity for our human brains to evaluate and arrive at the truth, must be used. But anything after that point, logic is futile. G-d and his Torah are not bound to the limits of logic, because they are greater than logic. Suprarational, not subrational. It would seem ridiculous to try to understand G-d or his Torah through the lens of logic.

We do NOT do acts of charity out of kindness because it is the 'good' thing to do.
We act charitably with kindness because G-d commanded us to.

We are forbidden to murder, NOT because rationally it seems inhumane, unfair, evil or immoral.
We don't murder because we were forbidden to do so by a Higher Authority that we sumbit completely to, G-d. Period.

In a case such as Amalek, we can try to understand it as best as we can, with many beautiful midrashim and explanations... But ultimately, it's another commandment, and we quiet the resistance of our human minds, and accept that this is what G-d wants.
And it doesn't matter whether it makes sense or not. And it doesn't matter if it makes us look evil in the eyes of others.

(A. And how do we know this is what G-d wants? Different Discussion. B. And why can't other violent religions use the same ideas to explain their violence? While we are commanded to love and respect and tolerate all human beings, it doesn't mean that we need to agree with them, or accept their religion as truth. A deeper investigation will show falacies in the original thinking that led them to their belief. But that brings us back to A)

I am an openly unapologetic American, Jewish woman from Brooklyn.
I don't apologize for my religion even when it seems at odds with the rest of 'modern' thought.
___________________________

So, under Jewish Law, even though a fetus isn't considered fully a human, if it is not Amalek and it is not posing a threat to its mother, and it seems to be healthy with normal potential for life- (of course, each case must be analyzed by Drs and competent halachic authority) then it is forbidden to kill it via abortion.

Inopportune time or unwanted pregnancies are not (usually) considered a threat to the mother's health- and therefor are forbidden.

At all times, the question is NOT, "Is the right or humane thing to do?" rather, it is "In this case, what has G-d commanded"

ETA: This doesn't mean that religious people can shut off our minds and disregard logic. We always use logic to explore any topic to the limits of our minds, but ultimately we understand that logic is not the be and end all. There's more.

January 27, 2017, 08:44:46 AM
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The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start I said I'd post it on the weekend so I'm a few days late. We are still working on the pics but I figured if I don't get started with something I'll delay into perpetuity. Having this up might push me a little harder to get the rest out.

The planning:

Dw and I got extremely lucky with this trip. The night before we found out about the new St. Regis we were looking at possible winter vacation options (we were looking at a list of Park Hyatt's as we are diamond through Feb via a status match). dw stumbled upon the Park Hyatt Maldives and begged me to go. We looked into the flight times to the Maldives and I simply wasn't willing to go that far. We were close to booking hyatt beaver creek to go skiing for a few days but we decided we’d sleep on it that night and get back to it the next night. The very next day, someone in my office told me (before Dan posted on DDMS but he presumably saw on FT DDF) about the St. Regis Maldives accepting points reservations for dirt cheap. I didn't quite have enough SPG points for 4 nights (5th free) and was on the phone with dw discussing how to get more quickly when my boss overheard the conversation and offered to book the trip for me using his points (to be repaid later). By the time I secured enough points, the rates were raised to what they are now. It pays to have a good boss.

We booked 5 nights in an overwater villa for 130,000 points (about a $12,500 value for the dates we were going). I briefly considered a garden villa so I can do C+P with my own account and not rely on my boss. Dw quickly knocked sense into me and my boss urged me to use his account to book and get the OWV.

We stalked pictures of the hotel on IG and made bowls of popcorn to read other people’s TR on TripAdvisor (really). It would be a huge underestimation to say we were looking forward to this. The place looked incredible in the pre-opening website photos and even better on IG. Jan 19th just couldn’t come soon enough. I’ve never stayed somewhere nearly as nice so I had no idea what to expect (dw has stayed at various Four Seasons before we got married) and it was better than we both expected. A tall task to live up to because we were looking forward to this vacation for 5 months!

When looking for flights, I admittedly made a HUGE mistake. We were pretty limited since we only had chase UR points (no Amex MR at all and no spg left after this trip) but we had plenty of time to get some signup bonuses and figure something else out. We didn’t do that, and in our “OMG I can’t believe we’re going” hype, we wanted to book rather quickly. If I could go back, I would but I can’t so I won’t.

Anyway we ended up using the chase portal for 1.5 in Y (I WAS A N00B AT THE TIME! And quite possibly still am…) but the silver lining is that we got the flight times and days we wanted. We booked a multi-destination ticket on the way to MLE with a 40hr stop in DXB, and had a 2hr stop in DXB on the way back to JFK. The dollar amount was about $1,000 so we used about 67,000 Chase points. We were booked in fare class X which earns 50% on Alaska so at least we got around 7,000 alaska miles out of this (combined with the 10k from the Virgin merger, we each have 17k without really doing anything). Most of you will say you’d rather pay the cash then use 65k points for that, and I’d agree with you. Unfortunately, I don’t swim in green so I wanted to save the cash I was going to use on this trip for whatever we wanted to do when we got there. I view my points as travel savings accounts so I use them when I actually get to go away.

Complete side note about my failed attempts to get J so feel free to skip if uninterested: After coming to grips that I was going to fly all the way there in economy, I panicked and tried to explore getting out of it. I wanted to cancel (I would have gladly paid a fee to have the points redeposited if it were an option) but they would only give me $800 each worth of flights on Emirates that we would have had to use by August of 2017 – and you can’t use the credit to book for others. Since I plan on going to BOB in June (how many go to Maldives and BOB, let alone in the same year!), I did not envision us using the Emirates credit by the deadline. What I wanted to do was use JAL to book the flights to DXB in J using spg (I would have signed up for 2 cards and bought the remaining points at the 1.7c sale). Anyway, I spent a few nights on the phone trying to get this done but I ultimately failed. At least I tried….

Anyway, here is the itinierary:
JFK-DXB Monday 10:40 am
DXB- MLE Wednesday 2:45 am
MLE-DXB-JFK Tuesday 9:15 am connection at 3pm
In Dubai, we stayed at the Park Hyatt with a DSU giving us an amazing suite. More on that and the rest of Dubai in the next installment…

January 31, 2017, 04:52:03 PM
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Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start All the way to the Maldives in Coach. That's legit Mesiras Nefesh
February 01, 2017, 12:51:21 PM
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Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start Maldives Day 1:

Upon landing we had to go through passport control then get our bags and go through customs (they flagged my grape juice that I brought but after showing it to them, it was cleared). After that we were met by St. Regis airport butlers that took our bags and passports and lead us to an air conditioned SUV (sadly, not the bentley) with wifi where we waited a few minutes for them to arrange our seaplane transfer. One of our bags was definitely overweight and should have incurred about $80 worth of charges but the butler must have took care of it because we weren't charged anything.
When everything was done we headed to The Great Room, an airport lounge with views of the seaplane terminal. The butler takes a picture of you by the St Regis sign here. (This is just speculation but I think they send the picture to the hotel staff so they know your names/ what you look like. Everyone in the hotel seemed to know us by name without having met them before). There's not much in terms of refreshments at the lounge- just a bowl of fruit that doesn't look like it's meant to be touched and a fridge with water and various juices. There are also showers to refresh yourself, toothbrushes, etc. Basically comparable to a nice lounge minus the food. Other than that it's just a room with a bunch of couch areas to sit in and wait for your transfer. There's a nice deck facing the water outside so we sat on some chairs there and enjoyed the sunshine and beautiful blue water. At one point the staff took our credit card and put a hold of $500 per night on it. They also gave us a drink menu with 4-5 options and asked us to choose a welcome drink for when we arrive at the hotel.
We only had to wait about 30 minutes before getting back in the car for a 1 minute (or less) ride to the seaplane (literally would have been a 2 minute walk). They give you little amenity kits with earplugs, mints, and face spray for the plane. The seaplane ride is breathtaking, which is expected. We made one stop at another resort and let people off then continued to Vommuli island.

From the Great Room outdoor deck




Seaplane




Amenity kits



View from seaplane









View of the Iridium spa from the seaplane




Upon arrival there were a bunch of St. Regis staff standing in a row waving to our approaching seaplane. They all shook our hands and greeted us by name (I was known as Mr. Charles the whole trip) then we were given our welcome drink. Our butler Naseeb then introduced himself and took us for a tour of the island and finally to our villa.

Arrival - you can see the butlers waving



Butler Cart



We were originally given a north facing villa with a lot of privacy but little sunlight on the deck. Dw wanted to have views of the light blue water ("why else would you go to the Maldives, we have dark blue water at home") so we asked to switch to one of the sunrise villas (Y’all can debate the privacy/sun on the Master Thread). Our butler Naseeb (he gets an A+) took care of the room switch while we were on a sunset fishing trip. We chose to do the fishing trip on our first day and only mentioned it to our butler in the afternoon but he booked it for us on the spot. We were taken on a boat with 6 others to a spot around 10 minutes away from the island and were taught the traditional Maldivian style of fishing (line fishing). We didn't end up catching anything ourselves, thought we almost did and we lost 3 hooks to apparently hungry fish, but others on the boat caught 4 red snappers, a barracuda, a baby shark, which we threw back into the water after taking some pictures, and a green reef fish. They were able to have their fish for lunch or dinner the next day. I believe the fee for that is $30. After fishing we had our Pom dinner at Alba, the main restaurant. We brought along plastic plates and cutlery but they had extra for the last few days when we ran out of the ones we brought.

North facing villa at around noon - notice the shade





Sunset fishing






Catch of the night - a bunch of snappers and a baracuda




Also caught a baby shark but had to let it go




All in all we had a relaxing first day and were definitely ready for some rest:







February 07, 2017, 10:02:25 PM
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Around the World in 23 days, A Honeymoon TR by Wizmanison Although this trip was not 'technically' a RTW trip or a honeymoon (as we have been on several 'honeymoon' trips before and after this trip) the title seemed fitting. Like most people a trip to the Maldives or Bora Bora was always high on my bucket list. Having recently getting married and with the sale that was going on, I thought what better excuse to make a trip to the Maldives! When beginning to plan I noticed that most of the TR’s I read were lacking some information either intentionally or not. Therefore, I will try to make this TR as transparent and detailed filled as I can! I will try to include prices for everything I remember as well as any information I uncovered from my countless pages of reading. Thank you to all those who contributed, whether I read your TR or not it really does help others a when planning.

I apologize in advance if I make any grammar mistakes, input any unreliable or false information, bad photos or anything else that might offend you. No intentions to do any of the above but if it happens SORRY!

Breakdown of Costs:

Flights:
LAX-JFK = $572 ($286 each paid for with B6 Travel Credit)
JFK-AUH w/ Cai RT = 208k MR (104k ANA each) + $205 YQ               
CAI-MLE = 50,066 UR 
MLE-SR MLE= 64k Arrival + points + $735
MLE-SIN= 37k UR (18.5k SIN each) +$100 YQ
SIN-DPS=15k (7.5k SIN each) +$50 YQ
DPS-USM= 25k (12.5k SIN each) +$40 YQ
USM-URT-DMK= $138 ($69 each)
BKK-HKT=$104 ($52 each)
HKT-CNX= $228 ($114 each)
CNX-BKK= 26k UR (13k each)
BKK-AUH= 36,000 AA (18k each) +$50 YQ
JFK-LAX= $408( $204 each paid in AA travel credit)

Hotels:
Le Meridian Egypt: 3k spg
SR MLE: 234k spg (5 nights @ 46.8k)
Andaz Singapore: Free Night Cert
GH Bali: 36k (3 nights @ 12k) - 20k (for complaining)= 16k
Conrad Koh Samui: 190k (2 nights @ 95k)  (Received Be My Guest Cert for complaint)
Bangkok Thong Ta Resort Suvarnabhumi: $22
Le Meridian Chiang Mai: 24k (3 nights @ 8k)
Hyatt Regency Dubai: 8k
Park Hyatt Dubai: Free Night Cert

Breakdown by Currency:

TOTAL UR: 177,066
TOTAL AA: 36,000
TOTAL MR: 208,000
TOTAL SPG: 261,000
TOTAL HILTON: 190,000
TOTAL Arrival +: 64,000
TOTAL CASH: 1,672 (Most of which were paid with CSR/Ritz travel credits and Arrival + points)
VOUCHERS/CREDITS USED: 2 Hyatt Free nights (50k Hyatt), AA GC ($408), B6 Credit ($572)...

TOTAL POINTS/MILES USED: 936,066

FLIGHT ROUTE:



TRIP PLANNING:

For those that just want a summary of what and how I booked and not the super detailed trip report that will follow, here you go:

   
I happened to book 5 nights at the SR MLE in May of 2017, around the time when all the bloggers were writing about the reduced price for the SR MLE. Since I was able to cancel until December I thought why not just hold the dates just incase. So for 234,000 SPG points I booked the 5 nights in the Maldives. I was busy at the time planning my Summer trip and pushed off the idea of planning the MLE trip.
   
It was only till about late October - Mid November that I started getting realistic about making a trip out of this booking. I seriously thought of just cancelling the 5 nights but after speaking to several people about how amazing their trip was I had to at least try to plan a trip. So I started reading and slowly kept on adding a list of possible stops to this trip to the other side of the globe. My thought process was more or less if I am already flying all the way out there I might as well make the most of it.

We used travel credit from price matching our flights as well as family members flights and other credits we got from complaints to book LAX-JFK for $286 each.
 
After looking at several options it seemed most feasible to make AUH the hub and use ANA to book the roundtrip from JFK-AUH.  I planned to book side by side Etihad Apartment suites for our longest flights and EY was showing availability for 149k MR—> ANA eacH. So I transferred hoping to book. But, when it came too booking ANA was not able too see availability :(. So we booked just Business class. Since these RT flights offer a free stopover, I chose Egypt. Mostly because other places were either to far, not interesting enough, or we had to little time to explore that destination.

We then used 50k Merrill points for two flights from CAI-MLE. But, for reasons you’ll read later we actually ended up using 50k UR.

MLE-SIN (Singapore) costed us 18.5 UR—> SIN plus $50 YQ each (CSR credit).

I then waitlisted a bunch of SIN-DPS (Bali) flights on SIN. A couple weeks before departure they cleared up and I booked it for 7,500 UR—> SIN and like $25 YQ each (CSR credit).
   
It was pretty hard finding a DPS-USM (Koh Samui, Thailand) flight for our dates but we finally found the option to book DPS-USM with a stopover in SIN. How it would work is we would fly DPS-SIN on Singapore airlines and then SIN-USM on silk air. It cost 12.5 UR—> SIN and $20 in taxes each (CSR credit). This flight had us getting into Singapore at like 1:30 AM and the next flight to Koh Samui was only leaving at 8:30 am. I chose this flight because I wanted to get into Koh Samui and enjoy the Conrad the most I could for the short time we were there (2 nights). So we went into one of the PP lounges and slept there.

For the next flights, besides AUH-JFK, I booked them all days before travel as I started to get really busy the weeks before the trip and even during the trip. It was really hard to find flights from USM to anywhere else in Thailand that didn’t leave early morning. And, like I said I wanted to enjoy my time at the Conrad KS. I looked at every option to literally every airport in Thailand and even other routings out of Thailand and back in but could not find anything. And for the flights I did find they either had no availability or only 1 seat available, or were ridiculously expensive. Thinking I struck gold, I booked a flight from USM to BKK on Expedia only to see after paying that it was for dates 3 months out! This was because when I translated google flights to Expedia, it inverted the month and day with the google translation. I immediately called in and with enough HUCA they refunded me. They claimed that these flights were non refundable because flight was within a week and these carriers don’t offer 24 hour refund. I escalated to manager and they gave me a “one time exception” refund. So, with all other options exhausted we ended up taking a ferry from USM-DonSak Pier for $9 each. And then transportation to URT, other known as Surat Thani Airport in Thailand, for $8 each. I then took a flight from URT-DMK for $52 each person (CSR credit) on Air Asia.

We spent like less then 12 hours in Bangkok, pretty much just in the markets as my wife wanted some purses and stuff and we got a massage. Stayed at a $20 hotel found on Orbitz since we were only in the room for like 2 hours and it offered a shuttle to the airport. Our flight was at 6:20 am. We flew from BKK-HKT for $52 each person (CSR credit) on Bangkok Airways.
   
We arrived in Phuket at 7:45am and went to do the Phi Phi Island tour. Came back to airport at around 6:30 for our 7:20 flight to Chiang Mai. We flew AirAsia HKT-CNX, booked a day or two before, for $114 each (CSR/Ritz Credit) and arrived at 9:15pm Thursday night.
   
Stayed in CNX for 3 nights before heading back to BKK for a flight to AUH. We flew Thai Airways CNX-BKK from 3:20pm-4:35pm for 13k UR or $98 each.

With a unforeseen SUPER tight connection it was only by a matter of pure YMMV that I made it to the next flight: BKK-AUH 6:05pm-10:05pm. We flew business for this route as it was a longer flight at around 7 hours and I had been driving my wife crazy with all the intra Thailand flights. It was also a great price! Since I have so many AA points it was easy to spend 40k miles, each, for biz class. With the Citi 10% bonus it ended up being 36k and $25 in taxes each (CSR/Ritz Credit).

After taking forever in customs in AUH for reasons that I never found out (I was like the only one in line and the man left with my passport for like 30 minutes somewhere) and going through a whole ordeal with the rental car we got to Dubai and spent 2 nights there before returning for our flight back to AUH-JFK with Etihad to complete our RT. We left at 10:15 and arrived in JFK at 3:50.

Purposely giving us like a 5 hour layover, our flight from JFK-LAX with AA for $204 each, booked with AA gift cards, courtesy of plat and biz plat travel credit, was from 9:15-1:06am. We did this so we could land, see some friends & family briefly and finally eat  freshly made food!

So all in all we took about 16 flights and a ferry ride over a 3 week 2 day period. We spent approx. 60-66 hours in flights and visited about 3 Continents, 7 Countries, 8 States/Cities, and 11 Islands.

Detailed Trip Report in the works. Have written some of it, but adding pictures on DDF is relatively new to me and seemingly time consuming. Will be posting Egypt TR in the coming days as soon as I finish figuring out the pics.

June 11, 2018, 06:09:35 PM
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