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Re: Points/Miles Values NO BUYING/SELLING ALLOWED
Stop screaming please, your hurting my ears.
He texted me: Your adorable.

I responded: No, you're adorable.

Now he thinks I like him........

April 02, 2019, 08:25:52 PM
1
Re: Ritz-Carlton Herzliya (AKA Ritzaliya) Master Thread
Is the deluxe marina room worth the $175 upgrade? Gold member, traveling with a toddler FWIW.
no
got bigger than that for free at checkin

February 07, 2020, 02:39:49 AM
1
Re: Family trip to Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong ( with a stop in Detroit) Hong Kong
Sunday:

We flew Air Asia from Chiang Mai to Hong Kong early Sunday morning. Flight was surprisingly ok after expecting the worst and reading up about Air Asia online. We had to pay for water bottles etc but we were expecting that. Upon landing in Hong Kong we immediately felt closer to home and that feeling was hard to explain. It was a sense of familiarity especially coming from Japan and most recently 11 nights in Thailand. Some of the things we noticed immediately was hearing lots of English, not only were all the signs in English as well, the street names had common English words like Nathan st. A lot of American/ Western culture is intertwined in the Chinese/Hong Kong culture. English and Chinese are the official languages of Hong Kong.

20190721_082658 by cr**, on Flickr

View of Hong Kong from the plane

After exchanging money in the airport we proceeded to take the MTR train to Kowloon. Hong Kong is composed of a few main areas including Kowloon and Hong Kong Island which are separated by the beautiful Victoria Harbor. There are also new territories which are mostly parks and farms and then some outlying islands including a famous one called Lantau.  Most tourists will stay in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. There are advantages to staying in each area, we opted for Kowloon and chose the stunning Intercontinental Hong Kong as our hotel for the next 3 nights. We purchased one way tickets for the MTR in the airport. We didn’t have to wait a long time for the train. The train was mostly empty, comfortable and very modern looking. There was plenty of storage space for our luggage as well. We had to switch trains in the middle and this allowed us to arrive right near the hotel. The area of the Intercontinental Kowloon is called Tsim Sha Tsui. Overall the train was convenient and very easy to get around.

When we arrived at the magnificent Intercontinental HK I knew we had made the right choice in choosing this hotel. The location is great and has beautiful views of Hong Kong Harbor/ Victoria Harbor. It is walking distance to Star ferry terminal (one of the ways to get to Hong Kong Island). Also walking distance to many attractions, high end shops/ malls, kosher restaurant and shul/ synagogue ( Kehilat Zion).
 DSC05263 by cr**, on Flickr

Intercontinental Hong Kong

We were very impressed by the beautiful landscaping, architecture and the high end look of HKI and Kowloon areas. The tourist and business areas are decorated so nicely and it is really welcoming to be in a place like that. Just a note we felt so safe in Hong Kong walking and traveling everywhere.
We stayed for 3 nights at the Intercontinental Hong Kong. We booked 2 connecting rooms for the 3 nights. This is how I paid for the rooms (based on the points I wanted to use at the time). Room 1- booked 2 nights with IHG points 70K IHG points per night x 2 =  140K ( mostly from IHG credit card signup). The 3rd night I paid $214 at Hotels.com (If you stay 10 nights a year- you get a free night valued at the average price spent on the 10 nights). The reason I decided to use this route was bc we had already stayed 3 nights in Japan (used $900 Hotels.com gift card I earned from the Pixel promo) I also knew my son and his friends would book more nights elsewhere at the end of the summer and I would earn my free night which we did. Room 2 was booked on the Chase portal using the CSR card -total 3 nights was 45,200 Chase points. Since I booked 3 different ways for the 2 rooms for 3 nights I emailed them to combine all the reservations into one and give us connecting rooms. I also asked for a roll away bed in each room, which was complimentary btw. They also acknowledged my IHG status (having the cc gives you that) and said they will upgrade to high floor with better view. The two rooms were connecting in a way I have never seen before: It is basically an outer door opening up to a small area and there you have the doors for the 2 rooms, so the actual rooms were private. We would only keep the outer set of doors locked and were also able to store all of our luggage in the entryway/area. That allowed us to enjoy our space in the room since it was not cluttered with all our entire luggage. The rooms were large and very spacious. (See pictures to better understand this).

IMG_20190721_115353 by cr**, on Flickr

King Size Room

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Roll away bed we got in each of the rooms- complimentary

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This is the area that combined our 2 rooms each door you see is the 2 rooms we got.

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We even stored our luggage here. The double doors you see- lead to the hallway.

The rooms were on a high floor and we had amazing views of the pool area below and a partial view of the harbor and HKI. At night this view is unreal. One room had a King+ roll away (with a thick high end mattress btw) and other room had 2 queen beds + a roll away. Each room also had a sofa and a TV area so you can relax. Both rooms also have a really nice office area – especially the King size room. Bathrooms had a tub and shower all marble etc. Mini bar was stocked with many kosher items. Overall the amenities and high end items plus technology throughout were a 5 star experience. We received a number of complimentary welcome drinks due to our IHG status.  We also received a large bowl of fresh fruit daily x 2 rooms due to our status as well.

IMG_20190721_120640 by cr**, on Flickr

View from our room

IMG_20190721_120640 by cr**, on Flickr

Another view from our room- that is Hong Kong Island across the water

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View of New Luxury mall being built adjacent to Intercontinental

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Fresh fruit we got daily for each of our rooms

After arriving in our rooms we made lunch with the food we had and set out to walk to the Star ferry terminal to take the ferry to HKI. It is about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Cash is needed to buy the tokens used for the ferry. The ferry ride was very nice. When we arrived to HKI with the kids we were feeling really hot and tired. It was a pretty hot/sunny day and the tiredness from waking up at 3 AM in Chiang Mai started to kick in. Our goal initially was to explore some popular areas in HKI near the ferry terminal. However since we needed to cool down and stay out of the sun for a little while we made a quick decision to visit the HK Maritime Museum which was right near us at the time. Although this was not something I had researched and planned to do in our 3.5 day trip to HK, I had to do what was right for our family at that time. It was a very nice museum and we learned a lot about the history of HK, all bout trade, shipping and naval warfare. There are lots of model ships on display and it was very child friendly.  We learned a lot about the trade in this part of Asia which was very interesting to all since it is literally a hub for shipping and we actually saw that throughout our travels around Hong Kong over the few days we stayed here. Thankfully we are flexible with our travel plans and don’t get caught up if we are not doing everything we planned to do and we make the best out of it. It is very important to us to keep the general attitude of our children happy and content throughout the trip and many times we have to make small last minute changes to accomplish that and by all means it’s worth it. We all end up with amazing memories of the trip. The museum was nice and cool and really energized us for those few hours and kept us indoors during the hottest time of the day. After the museum we continued with our self guided walking tour in HKI (I researched some areas prior of nice cool things to see.) It is amazing to see it from up close, the cool architecture throughout amidst high end landscaping and décor. Hong Kong Island is very hilly, mountainous and that also adds to its beauty. Since many streets are on different levels, there are many outdoor escalators and walkways throughout. Keep in mind that this is a prime real estate area and every inch is utilized. We went on the largest outdoor escalator in the world called central/ mid level escalator and walkway. It was nice to see the culture as we walked around. Saw some street performers and got a taste of this very cool city.

DSC05284 by cr**, on Flickr

Star Ferry

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View of Hong Kong Island taken from the ferry

IMG_20190721_165839 by cr**, on Flickr

Some of the streets in Hong Kong Island

We then took a cab to the JCC of Hong Kong (on HKI) to have dinner there at the famous Sunday night buffet. The cab ride took us around the many windy streets lined with sky scrapers in a residential area. Security at the JCC is tight. You need to bring passports and are interviewed and bags are inspected. The meat restaurant at the JCC has a famous buffet every Sunday night. The buffet consists of a large variety of foods in every category, meats, Salads, soups, entrees and desserts. Lots of choices for all and we stuffed ourselves. Prices are definitely on the high side and since we have 4 adults in our family it was a pricey treat. We had a beautiful view from our table of the city below (restaurant is on a very high floor).

MVIMG_20190721_182557 by cr**, on Flickr

The view from our table at JCC Restaurant in HKI

Our plan was to take a cab from the JCC directly to the Star ferry terminal and take the ferry back to Kowloon. Btw there are cabs that come regularly to the JCC area so it was easy to find one, or one can flag them down as well. The cab ride is metered for the most part in Hong Kong. As our cab was nearing the popular business area in HKI traffic was getting worse and our cab driver didn’t want to get stuck in it. He dropped us off a couple blocks away from the ferry terminal. We didn’t know it in advance but we were walking straight into the large nightly protests that has been going on for mos. The protests have been growing increasingly large over the last few weeks and the government has increased their patrols accordingly trying to keep the calm. As we started walking we saw very large groups of people (mostly younger to middle age) wearing all black and many had long black umbrellas with them as well. Many were wearing masks, bandannas over part of their face, which was unusual at the time. We had asked a passerby and they told us what was going on and that it was mostly peaceful but not to walk in their way. There were thousands of people everywhere coming from all directions and going to some main large areas. The tourists and passersby’s were a small minority at this time compared to the throngs of protesters that were swarming the area. We did get a bit nervous since we weren’t following the news closely and weren’t sure if this would take a violent turn as we were attempting to walk to the terminal. There was chanting, people walking briskly stopping traffic everywhere they went. This was definitely an experience to see. Traffic was at a complete standstill all over and now I realized why the driver insisted on dropping us outside this area. We saw graffiti written in large areas “Hong Kong is not China” and that summarized the whole agenda here.

20190721_191752 by cr**, on Flickr

People walking to the protest

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Some more of what we saw

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Video of people walking to the protest (click on picture to watch video on Flickr)

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Another video of the pre protest walk (click on picture to watch video on Flickr)

When we got to the Star ferry terminal the line for the ferry was insanely long. We unfortunately had to wait a very long time but finally made it onto the ferry a few minutes after the nightly laser show had started.
Every night at 8 PM there is a laser show called “Symphony of Lights”. One needs to be either on the water or on the Kowloon side to watch this. This is a spectacular multimedia show combining lights and music on over 40 key buildings in HKI. Official best place to watch this nightly show is at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade (Ave of the Stars) where you can hear the corresponding music as well. This is a 5 minute walk from the Intercontinental HK. There is an app btw to hear the music so you can experience the full effect of it from anywhere technically. We got to watch the second half of the show from the ferry ( no music) and we realized how beautiful this is so we made a plan to prepare better for the following 2 nights. We arrived at the hotel and stopped at the back lobby area to see Hong Kong Island skyline all lit up with colorful lights. What a view! We came back later for some drinks and got to gaze at this stunning scene for some time.

IMG_20190721_200701 by cr**, on Flickr

Symphony of lights show

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Another view

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Walking back to the hotel after watching the show

Monday:

After a quick breakfast I ran out to get some snacks for the kids, eggs and ice cream. Turns out they got bored of all the stuff I had brought. Many stores do carry American brands and products so I googled the closest international grocery store (sorry I forgot the name) and walked about 10 minutes to get there. I found many kosher products there and it was a successful trip.
We started the day today with a trip to Victoria Peak.  We took a train from the train station below the Peninsula hotel across the street from the Intercontinental. The closest train stop is about a 10- 15 minute walk to the Peak Tram. On the way we passed Hong Kong Park and enjoyed it a lot. It is very different than your typical US Park. Waterfalls, gardens, koi fish, lily pads and so much more. We passed some more really cool architectural buildings.

20190722_133131 by cr**, on Flickr

Hong Kong Park

IMG_20190722_132931 by cr**, on Flickr

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The peak Tram is a must for any tourist. There are 2 types of tickets one can buy either a round trip or a round trip + Sky Terrace 360 degree view to experience the natural beauty at the highest platform in Hong Kong. We bought the ticket with the Sky Terrace view. The tram is Swiss made and is a very steep incline up the mountain to get to the peak. We read about an optical illusion done by University of Hong Kong, a visual illusion when going uphill the high rises on the right side of the tram appear to fall toward the peak (caused by a tilted visual environment and reclining body position of observers inside the tram), really cool to watch as you are going up.
Overall Victoria Peak is amazing, the pictures speak for themselves.

MVIMG_20190722_135813 by cr**, on Flickr

View of peak tram as it is arriving at the station near Hong Kong Park

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190722140348375_COVER by cr**, on Flickr

Optical illusion

20190722_140722 by cr**, on Flickr

Peak Tram from above

Here are some of the cool views we saw from Victoria Peak:
 
20190722_140611 by cr**, on Flickr

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IMG_20190722_145103 by cr**, on Flickr

IMG_20190722_145637 by cr**, on Flickr

IMG_20190722_145521 by cr**, on Flickr

After we took the return tram back down, we hailed a cab to the JCC of Hong Kong to the Dairy Restaurant. Our passports were checked and we were interviewed again (same security guy btw). Food was delicious at the dairy restaurant. There were some game tables on that floor and we played some games for a little while as well.

Delicious food at he JCC Dairy Restaurant

IMG_20190722_162739 by cr**, on Flickr

IMG_20190722_161552 by cr**, on Flickr

IMG_20190722_161540 by cr**, on Flickr

After the late lunch at the JCC we had some time to kill and we googled cool things to see near us. My husband found the Aberdeen Fish Market and it seems like it was a great place to go, since the ideal time is towards the end of the day. We really wanted to see the famous fish market in Japan but you need to be up really early and that wasn’t going to work for us then. So we jumped on this idea. (We like to do interesting things in other countries that we can’t do or see back at home.)We took a cab to a different area in Hong Kong Island. The Aberdeen Fish Market is highly rated online and is a wholesale fish market run by local fisherman. They say it’s a must to visit to experience some of the local culture. The best time to visit is before evening when many fishing boats come in and unload their daily “catch”. We arrived and were the only tourists there and they let us in to browse and walk around. The market is a messy wet place; most areas have 1-2 inches of water on the ground. We weren’t planning this in advance so we walked on some pallets that were dispersed all over so we could try to stay dry. We saw hundreds of open tanks with every kind of seafood you can imagine and in a very large quantity. We then went to the dock and saw many fishing boats dropping off their catch of the day in very large quantities. It is amazing to see the sheer volume and color of all the seafood that is brought in. We spent about an hour in total over there and took a cab to the star ferry much earlier in the evening so we could see the light show tonight on time from the Promenade.
 
DSC05351 by cr**, on Flickr

Aberdeen Fish market

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DSC05376 by cr**, on Flickr

Boats pulling up to deliver their "catch" after a day of fishing

We watched the Symphony of Lights show from Ave of the Stars in the Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon. As I mentioned earlier you can hear the music from lampposts in the promenade. We loved every minute of it. I would rate it 5 stars and a must for every tourist! My advice is to come 15 to 30 minutes early to get a good spot so you can get an unobstructed view for pictures of the Harbor. We then walked by the Avenue of the Stars which models after Hollywood Ave of the Stars in LA, they have statues of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan etc. We completed our day with a quick swim/hot tub in the magnificent hotel pool with views of the Hong Kong skyline all lit up in color.

IMG_20190722_092831 by cr**, on Flickr

Another view of the Intercontinental Hotel

IMG_20190722_121156 by cr**, on Flickr

View of Hong Kong Island from the Hotel Lounge/ Bar during the day

MVIMG_20190722_202231_1 by cr**, on Flickr

Same area= at night, when Hong Kong Island is all lit up

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Another view of Hong Kong Island all lit up ( from the hotel lounge/ bar)

20190723_200935 by cr**, on Flickr

Symphony of Lights from Ave of the Stars

Tuesday:

There are always cabs waiting in from of the hotel btw so it’s very convenient to go anywhere quickly. We took a cab to the Ladies Market and walked around and bought some stuff for the kids and souvenirs. This is a very large outdoor market that spans many blocks. I don’t know why it has that name. We bargained for everything we bought and many times got the price down over 80% from the original asking price. A real market! After walking around we needed to cool down a bit so we walked a few blocks to a very extravagant and large indoor mall. On the way we found a 7 / 11 store and found kosher Haaagan Daaz ice cream which was a nice surprise. The indoor mall had some cool stores to see and a LEGO store on the top floor. Kids had a break from walking around and we spent some time there. After the indoor mall as we looked at Google maps and we realized that we are in market area of town and there are all types of specialty markets near us. One that interested us and we thought the kids would like is a pet market. We happened to be a block or two away from there so we went. Turns out that there are blocks and blocks of pet stores, literally one after the other of everything pet related from fish, dogs, cats, birds and everything in between. Things are pretty different than in the US and all stores have a no picture taking policy.  I did manage to sneak a few pics fortunately. We really found this interesting. Next we passed some produce, meat and seafood markets which we walked though pretty quickly. Much of it grossed me and the kids out. Again many things go on in these markets that wouldn’t fly in America…this definitely stayed stamped in our minds and it was something we would visualize during the early corona virus outbreak when all the talk was about bats from the seafood markets in China!

IMG_20190723_154552 by cr**, on Flickr

Seafood Market

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One of the many stores in the pet market (notice the fish in bags that are for sale)

We arrived back to our hotel in the afternoon and had a beautiful late afternoon swim in the large hotel pool with stunning scenery all around. We picked up dinner from Mul Hayam restaurant located in KZ Shul in Kowloon. 10-15 walk from hotel and ate at the Hotel. We continued swimming into evening and then moved to the hot tub area which has obstructed views of the Skyline in HKI and since its in an elevated area all you see is the harbor and beyond. The hotel has a few large infinity hot tubs. Watching the Symphony of light show while we were all in the hot tubs was so magical and enjoyable for all.
 
IMG_20190722_202947 by cr**, on Flickr

Hotel Hot tub at night- view is HKI

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Another close up of the hot tubs

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View at dusk from the hot tub at the Intercontinental HK

MVIMG_20190723_193548 by cr**, on Flickr

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Wednesday:

Our last day in Hong Kong and the final day in our 3 week adventure! Today was a relaxing day spent packing up and going to gym with some more family time in the pool. The weather in Hong Kong has been perfect the entire stay and we really appreciated it. We had late checkout at 2 pm (IHG cc) which allowed us to eat lunch and shower in our rooms after the swim. After that we hung out in the lobby until 3 pm. We had ordered 2 cabs to take us to the airport in advance. The ride to the airport was under 30 minutes and worked out well.
We had a 6:45 PM flight booked in Cathay Business for all 6 of us. We used 50K Alaska miles for each of us. Read more in the beginning of this trip report what I went through to find availability for all of us in business.
I had read on DDF about being able to order kosher meals in the Cathay lounges if reserved in advance on twitter. I DM’ed Cathay on twitter and got a quick response asking for booking numbers for all passengers, what lounge we wanted the food and what time. We also got to chose between chicken, lamb or fish. She had confirmed everything and I was set to go. This was done about 6 weeks prior to this flight.
Int’l Cathay Business Class passengers in Hong Kong Airport have 2 lounges to choose from; The Wing and The Pier. I researched them a bit online prior and figured we could check them both out. I had scheduled the Kosher meals for the Pier lounge, so we checked out the Wing lounge first. We had a private area to relax for about 45 min with all kinds of US newspapers and magazines plus kosher ice cream from Haagan Daaz. We enjoyed our time in the newer and more modern looking Wing lounge. We then went to the Pier lounge which was so large, I had never seen a lounge so big before and it had so many different kinds of rooms in it such as a noodle bar, meditation/yoga room, tea house, private sleeping areas and so much more. Both lounges had showers as well. When we arrived to check in to the Pier lounge they right away knew we had ordered kosher meals and showed us some choices of where to sit. We got our hot food about 15 minutes later. Food was from Hermolis and identical to what we would be getting on the plane a few hours later. We ate some of the food and stayed at the lounge until boarding time.

IMG_20190724_174319 by cr**, on Flickr

At the Pier Lounge

The flight from HKG to JFK is a 16 hour flight. We departed and 6:45 PM and arrived around 9 Pm in JFK. Flight ended up being around 15 hrs. Business class was amazing for our family, after eating another dinner we slept most of the flight. Honestly to me it felt like a 2-3 hour flight to Miami. Time also went by really quickly for my husband and the kids and before we knew it, it was time for breakfast and landing. By the time we arrived home close to midnight we went straight to sleep and slept the entire night. Looking back I am glad I chose that flight time for this particular flight.
 
IMG_20190724_182846 by cr**, on Flickr

Cathay Pacific Business Class

Summary:

As I am writing this final segment now- one year after we started this trip, I am so thankful we got to experience this last year. It was an epic trip and we feel very fortunate to have done this with our kids. Now more than ever in a time of uncertainty over what future travel will look like and the restrictions that may come along with it, I feel blessed and fulfilled with this trip under our belts.
This trip was definitely lots of hard work but I enjoyed planning every minute of it and experiencing it as a family.
Side note: The protests in Hong Kong dramatically escalated in the weeks after we left Hong Kong. Within 3 weeks of arriving home on Cathay, they cancelled flights out of Hong Kong for a few weeks. Thank god our trip wasn’t affected by all this.


 


 

July 19, 2020, 08:22:04 PM
1
Re: The Great American Road Trip, by PBaruch & Family (August 2020) Great and unique TR!
Just curious, what's the covering on your tires for by your shabbos stay photo? Some sort of היכר so it looks less like a vehicle? ;)

Eta: Yep i guessed it, found that on your Death valley TR you linked above.

September 08, 2020, 12:11:38 AM
1
Re: Israel Hotels Master Thread
What is the best option for a kosher (preferably approaching mehadrin level) hotel in Yerushalayim at ~$250/night?

FWIW- from what I've heard, you can speak to the mashgichim at non-mehadrin hotels and they will let you know what foods are mehadrin.

April 14, 2021, 01:24:19 PM
1
Re: Israel Hotels Master Thread
What is the best option for a kosher (preferably approaching mehadrin level) hotel in Yerushalayim at ~$250/night?
Leonardo Plaza (the old Sheraton Plaza).

April 14, 2021, 03:57:05 PM
1