Author Topic: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)  (Read 3037 times)

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« on: August 11, 2023, 04:22:18 PM »
I don't recall a trip report for cebu and seoul so I hope this may potentially help people.
BACKGROUND
I booked a jal first class mileage ticket for 70k (It  has since risen significantly in price) to go from jfk to tokyo .My initial plan was to spend a little over a week in japan and then fly to vietnam for a few days before returning home.Korean airlines announced a major mileage devaluation and i had 60000 miles from when they were partners with chase that i didn't want to go to waste so I waitlisted myself for a flight from seoul to jfk in prestige class and it cleared a few months later so now my plans were to go to japan then seoul.(ironically they recently cancelled their devaluation but i just stuck with my updated itinerary). About a month  before my trip I went to plan my exact itinerary and discovered to my chagrin  that there are potential issues with what day shabbos is  in Japan  I wanted to avoid those issues so shabbos in Japan was off the table and therefore I had to scramble for a new set of plans. Shabbos in hong kong seemed to make the most sense.Upon further research it  seemed that hong kong had maybe 1.5 days worth of sites that i wanted to see and seoul the same so i wanted to add another place to my trip .After some research i settled on cebu in the philippines. I ended up flying much more then i would have liked and if i would have planned earlier i could have had a better itinerary (meaning less places to have to fly too) however given the parameters of my trip that I wasn't going to change the tickets to and from asia that's how it ended up working out.
Flights
When I needed at the last minute to get a flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong they were running at approx. 450 dollars  a flight. Fortunately ANA had mileage flights available. They had a 830 am flight and a 645 pm flight on Thursday. I reserved one of the flights by United for 24k miles with the intention that once I finalized my itinerary I would book the award ticket that I wanted with ac for 12.5k (  and given the chase transfer bonus only 11k) however the award tickets were gone by the time  I finalized my itinerary. Cathay Pacific has multiple flights per day so I kept on checking and the day before they opened up a business class seat for 25k so I cancelled my United flight and took the cathay flight .It's unfortunate because more in advance cathay would have had better availability and i could have flown for 10k in economy saving 15k miles.It's a waste of a business ticket for a 3 hour flight Lesson learned that i should plan more in advance. The second issue was the ticket opened about 28 hours in advance but I couldn't transfer amex points online . They wanted to call my home phone with a code to confirm the transfer and I had to wait for the morning in America to have someone available to take the call. By that time it was within 24 hours of the flight and I couldn't order Kosher food.I tried to call Cathay and have them leave a message at the airport to put kosher food on the flight  but 2 different agents refused. I have  had success in the past with Turkish airlines when i booked within 24 hours doing that but cathay didn't want to.From Hong Kong to Cebu the flights in cash were running at almost 500 dollars so I wanted a mileage ticket. Cathay only flies to Cebu a few days a week so going there it wasn't an option for a direct flight as I needed a specific day and couldn't wait for the day they fly . I ended up booking Cathay from Hong Kong to Manila for 7.5k and a flight on Cebu Pacific from Manila to Cebu for cash. I left myself a 7 hour stopover in Manila as I figured I would want to explore Manila a little.My flight from cebu to seoul was on cathay pacific business for 25k miles with a  short stopover in Hong Kong.

Hotels

I booked 2 nights in the andaz at 30k points a night .In hong kong i wanted a shabbos friendly hotel near the shul so I booked the intercontinental Grand Stanford for 3 nights at 607 total for the 3 nights as it was mentioned to be shabbos friendly in the hong kong thread. (WARNING IF YOU WANT TO USE THIS HOTEL FOR SHABBOS THERE IS A ISSUE WITH AUTOMATIC LIGHTS ON THE STAIRS SEE LATER IN MY TRIP REPORT) 2 of the 3 nights were available for points at 35 k points a night however I do not have ihg points. If I would have planned my trip more in advance I would have opened a chase cc and gotten the points however since i waited until close to the last minute to plan my itinerary and hong kong for shabbos was a last minute addition there was no time to open a cc,receive the card do the spending and get the points so I ended up paying cash. I debated buying the nights on ddf for around 120 a night saving me 160 dollars however in the ihg free rewards nights thread it said this hotel can cause problems with the certificates so I did not do so.In cebu i paid cash and stayed in the lux hotel for around 60 a night for a upgraded larger room.Although there are points hotels given the cash rates it made no sense to use points.For my final 2 nights in Seoul I used 2 free 35k a night certificates to stay in the le meridian.It is very centrally located,only a few months old and had very nice reviews online.
My jal flight was 140 am monday morning .I left my house with a extra 1 and a half hours leeway to get to jfk because of sunday beach traffic and its good i did.Even though i monitored via waze before i left what the expected trip time was it ended up taking a hour and 20 minutes more then waze said when i started out and was a 3 hour trip to the airport so the leeway came in handy.check in was a breeze and i headed to the soho aa lounge (you are really eligible for the greenwich lounge however it was already closed for the night).I was quite disappointed that they had no kosher food. I thought they were supposed to carry kosher food. 
        The actual flight only had 2 of the 8 first class seats occupied. They had a full complement of flight attendants on board even though we were only 2 people so the service was spectacular.I have never had service on a flight even close to what i received. They  seemed to know what you wanted even before you asked for it. They set up our beds in a separate seat so we could sleep when we wanted and sit when we wanted without having to transition the seat.The bed was very comfortable and they also gave you a mattress with a choice of soft or hard. As an example of the service I asked for an extra pillow and they came back with 4 pillows( I only took 2). You also got very comfortable pajamas to change into and I slept well.. The one downside is that the food was atrocious .The food was terrible and not a lot. Although it came in a whole fancy business class box the actual food was not enough and terrible. In addition, for the second meal there was no hot portion of the food. For tickets that cost so much they need to do better for the kosher food situation.
          The flight landed on time at 440 am Tuesday and getting through immigration was a breeze.While I waited for the luggage to come out I filled out my custom forms online and received a qr code to present to the customs officer. This worked out very well because officicaly you cannot bring in meat or chicken to japan  and I was nervous that they would confiscate my food. Since the customs form asked if you are bringing in any  meat products and  if you lie they recently upgraded the potential penalties to 3 million yen fine and 3 years in jail I did not bring any meat in. Chicken on their website is forbidden however they did not ask about chicken on the customs form  so I brought it with me as I would have plausible deniability that I didn't know it was forbidden however  I couldn't afford to have it confiscated as I would then not have any food. When I left the airport in the regular customs line the customs officers were questioning every passenger , however there was a separate exit if you had the qr code. There was an officer checking the qr codes but he didn't ask any questions, just scanned the code and let you go. This worked out well for me as I would not have lied if they asked me if I was bringing in any chicken.When my luggage came out I noticed a jal employee following along with the luggage as it circled the conveyor belt until it reached me. When I took my luggage off the belt she apologized 5 or 6 times that I had to wait for my luggage even though I kept telling her it was ok. I think she meant that my luggage was # 30 or so to come out the chute and not # 1 as it should have been according to their order of priority.
       I bought a 72 hour  tokyo subway pass from klook for around 12 dollars and it was great .I didn't have to worry about tickets etc. The 72 hours begins from the first scan by a subway station. Originally I was hoping to take the airport limousine bus straight to the andaz as it is listed as a stop on their website. It turned out they cancelled that stop from covid and haven't reinstated that stop yet.(They really should update their website) Instead I took the kihei line to tokyo station and transferred to the subway for  the stop at the andaz.The kihei line was not included in the subway pass and I had to pay separately. I made a mistake in not taking a taxi from the tokyo station to the hotel.It is difficult to shlep your luggage around these stations and they are HUGE.It can be 10 minutes of walking plus up and down multiple flights of steps to transfer trains. In addition even though the andaz is officially on top of a train station the reality is that it takes at least 7 or 8 minutes from the subway station to the andaz through a underground passageway. I learned my lesson for hong kong and Korea and there i took the train to the city center but from the city center i took a taxi to my hotel both when coming from the airport and going back to the airport. This way you save money not having to pay for a taxi all the way from the airport but you avoid all the schlepping if you were to transfer from the airport train to the local subway.You can normally get a pasmo card that can pay for any means of transportation,many stores and most vending machines.It is very convenient and I believe you can get a refund for any unused money on the pasmo card when you leave Japan however when I was there they had signs that due to a chip shortage they had suspended sales of the pasmo card the week before so I had to use cash.In the past when I was overseas and needed cash  I used the currency exchange booths to change money however this year i got smarter.My bank account has free atm withdrawals with your debit card and even rebates you the atm fee charge so I used my debit card to get money.It is so much better as you get the official rate and don't lose money on the exchange.

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2023, 10:40:10 PM »
TOKYO
I arrived at the andaz at about 8 am .I had mentioned in my reservation that I would be checking in at 7 am. They asked if I had just arrived in Tokyo. Once I confirmed that I had, they checked me in. I was able to take a shower,daven and then headed out to my first activity. The andaz itself begins on a high floor-somewhere in the mid 40's and you get excellent views from your room
I went to Teamlans planets Tokyo. Although their main attraction teamlabs borderless was kicked out of their previous home and they are in the process of relocating so it is currently closed, and this is a second choice -once the new museum opens this is slated to close. -It is still a unique experience and definitely worth going to if you are in Tokyo. One tip I saw online is that even though they sell timed entry tickets as long as you come after your ticket time, they will let you in. I ordered the earliest available time and even though I came 2 hours after my ticket time I had no problem getting in. 
 I then took the subway to Shibuya crossing. I must say I was disappointed I don't get the big deal-it's just a bunch of people crossing the street. I have been in Manhattan many times and there are also a lot of people crossing, just here it's in 6 directions and not 4. They have a statue of a dog Hachiko that used to wait every day at 5 pm in front of the subway station for his master to come home from work and continued doing so for years after his master's death. I found it a touching story. I also went to hands department store that is highly rated online but again I don't see the big deal about it. 
I then proceeded to Akihabara District, a gaming hub. When I went on a Tuesday at around 5 pm it was dead there were very few people there. There are buildings with 7 stories of video game machines but there very few people playing them. Although some of the people playing were incredible gamers and i couldn't fathom how they were able to move so fast overall the area had no vibe to it.One of the main gaming buildings that is supposed to have incredible vr games no longer existed as Sega lost their lease a few months ago. Overall, it was not at all what I expected, and I wonder if I came at the wrong time or is it a dying district.
  This has been mentioned by others that the Tokyo subway is very clean without trash and people behave in a very orderly fashion. They line up on the sides of the doors to allow people to exit before entering.They have signs that you should not talk on the phone and although most people were busy on their smart phones I do not recall a single person talking on the phone while in the subway. I also found that their dress code is so much more tzniyisdek then in america which is wonderful for shmiras anayim. One thing that struck me is that i don't think i saw a single person get up to offer their seat to a elderly individual,so while they are polite and well mannered they may not have the best middos.

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2023, 06:37:24 AM »
WEDNESDAY
  I bought the Hakone day pass from klook for 44 dollars. This entitles you for round trip train travel from Tokyo to Hakone and numerous activities within Hakone. You receive a QR code that you exchange at the train station for a pass that gives you free admission to all the attractions. I arrived at Shinjuku station and exchanged my code for a pass. I then took the train which took slightly under 2 hours to get to Hakone. (you had to change trains once) ,I then transferred to the Hakone Tozan Train. This is a train that goes up the mountain. It takes half a hour and one unique twist is that there were 3 or 4 switchbacks where the train stops the conductor switches to the back of the train which now becomes the front. You arrive in a small town where I ate lunch on some picnic benches. I then transferred to the Hakone Tozan cablecar which continued up the mountain.They claimed that the track is the second steepest cable car track in the world. It was a slow and boring ride as you all saw were trees on either side of the track without views.
  You can then transfer to the Hakone ropeway which is a gondola that takes you further up the mountain.There were some very nice views from the ropeway station. On the ropeway itself the views were also very nice and you could see Mt. Fuji in the distance. The very top of the mountain had some clouds covering it but we could see almost the whole mountain. During the summer it is not common to see Mt. Fuji as that in their cloudy season. The only reason I did the Hakone loop was that the weather showed that today was supposed to be a very clear day, so I hoped to be able to see the mountain.   The ropeway stops at Owakudani station.There is an active volcano there which is still smoking and gives off a disgusting rotten egg smell. One big thing there is buying eggs that were cooked in the boiling mud of the volcano .They are supposed to have major health benefits and cost less than a dollar an egg .I thought that likely there were no kashrus issues however I was not 100 percent sure so I did not buy the eggs . After spending half an hour or so admiring the views and volcano I was ready to continue on the ropeway to Lake Ashi.This is where the trip went south .The power went off in all the buildings and the gondolas stopped in mid air. After 20 minutes or so they turned on a backup generator and were able to restart the gondola to remove anyone that was still on it however they did not allow anybody to get on and once everybody was off they shut it down again. One weird thing is that before the backup generator kicked in the volcano mostly stopped smoking. What does that mean- it's fake electricity generated smoke? I mean it smells terribly so clearly there is geothermal activity and they do heat up the eggs in the boiling mud so there is heat there so then why without power did it pretty much stop smoking? I really have no idea. Maybe there is underground smoke and they use electricity to pump it above ground.
        There is a road with public bus service going down the mountain and now everybody had to use the public bus service which led to huge lines waiting for the bus in the 95 degree heat as the busses did not have capacity for all the people that would have taken the ropeway.. I tried to hitch a ride with cars leaving the parking lot but when I asked the people for a hitch from their faces it looked like I was trying to murder them .After 4 or 5 emphatic no's i gave up and got on line for the bus. After over an hour It was my turn to board. I could have taken a bus to Lake Ashi where you can take a boat ride on the lake and then another bus back to Hakone station.  There are also supposed to be nice views of Mt. Fuji on the lake.Another big attraction on the lake is visiting the tori shrine with the tori gates.This is one of the most iconic pictures in Japan that people like a picture of them standing by the tori gates and there are supposed to be 20-30 minute lines to get your picture taken by the gate.  I don't know the avoda zora aspects of shrines and photos of shrines so I was anyway going to skip that,and I had already seen Mt. Fuji and being I  was so hot and tired  I decided to skip the second half of the loop and just took a bus straight to Hakone station. The bus is not included in the hakone pass however they gave out coupons to all the pass holders for a free bus ride. You were supposed to get off at the Sounzan station to take the cable car and railway back to the Hakone station. I just stayed on the bus all the way to Hakone station as it was quicker and easier and I had already done the cable car and railway .When I got off the bus driver yelled at me and billed me 500 yen because I stayed on too long.
       I upgraded my ticket for 1200 yen to take the direct train back to tokyo. Basically it saves 30 minutes and you don't have to transfer trains. It is supposed to be a fancier train with restrooms and more comfortable seats. I didn't see much of a difference. If you want to save 30 minutes for around 10 dollars then by all means take the train otherwise I don't see a point of upgrading. Overall I would say if you have children with you then this is a fabulous day trip. For 44 dollars you get to go on trains,cablecars a railway 2 gondolas and a boat.You also get to see and smell a volcano. I could see my kids absolutely loving it. For a adult granted my viewpoint is colored by my negative experience but I would have passed. Even though I did get to see Mt. Fuji, having been to Alaska many times I feel the views I saw there were better then this.I understand that for a japanese citizen Mt. Fuji is a icon and you want to see it,but for an American I went for the views and I was not overwhelmed. 
     When I got back to tokyo I went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building Observatory .You get to go for free on a elevator to their viewpoint which is at a height of 202 meters.The views are  nothing like the tokyo skytree however I wanted to see the views of Tokyo by night and by day so I went here by night. I was glad I came as the views by night are different then by day and although I went to the skytree the next morning it is a unique perspective seeing all the lights of Tokyo lit up at night from so high up.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2023, 06:40:56 AM by trips99 »

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2023, 12:40:42 PM »
Thursday

I went to the Tokyo sky tree, the third tallest structure in the world. They sell timed entry tickets online and while I was on the metro heading there I bought my ticket. It's a good thing I did as there was a very long line to buy tickets at the tower. I want to note if you purchase the tickets a day in advance you can get a 400 yen discount on your ticket. I bought a ticket that included going to the upper deck. I think it was definitely worth the extra expense, not even so much because you are higher up and have a better view but more because it was much emptier on the top deck. While the bottom deck was very crowded and you had to jostle to get a good spot at the floor to ceiling windows, the top deck was empty. This is a very worthwhile place to visit as the views of tokyo were very good.
   I asked for and received a late check out which allowed me to use the pool at the Andaz. It was really an experience to use it. When you first come up somebody gives you a tour of the locker room explaining all the features. One excellent benefit they had was a spin dry machine that dries your bathing suit in approx. 30 seconds. This way you don't have to worry about wet bathing suits. They also had a onsen off the locker room .(The entire area is male only and I would I assume they also have a separate one by the female locker room) Clothing is not allowed or as the employee put it "please respect our culture and do not wear any clothing in the onsen". As nobody was around I tried it and it was super relaxing and I understood why going to a onsen is so big in Japanese culture. The pool area itself also has a hot whirlpool area. Thankfully there were no females using the pool so I was able to have a nice long relaxing swim. 
  Looking back at Tokyo I was really disappointed. I thought there would be more there that would interest me. I know I didn't visit the Asakusa and Ueno districts however what I did see it wasn't as glamorous or interesting as I expected. In retrospect I think I would have tried to go to a different city other then Tokyo although there is always next time. 
  My flight to Hong Kong was from Narita airport, which is double the distance from tokyo then Haneda airport. I took a bus to the airport as logistically that seemed the best option for me.The bus leaves I think every ten minutes and took an hour to get to the airport. Officially you are allowed one piece of luggage per passenger but nobody said anything about my extra pieces. 
 As a one world emerald I was entitled to check it at the first-class counter of Cathay pacific so check in was a breeze. I was also entitled to use the jal first class lounge and it was a really nice lounge. I took a shower and then relaxed in one of their many rooms. Being a first class lounge it was relatively empty and the room I was in had only a couple of other people with very comfortable and large chairs. There was a QR code next to every seat that you can use to place an order to have food delivered to your seat. Being a kosher consumer, I did not partake of this service, but I briefly glanced at the menu and it looked like they had a large variety. One interesting point in the lounge is that you are not allowed to talk on your cell phone. They have a seperate room with individual booths where you are supposed to make any phone calls. 
I flew cathay business for 25k as previously mentioned.Their business class was like domestic first-class seats in America. In reality it was a waste of 15k miles over economy but since it was a last-minute ticket it wasn't an option for me to purchase economy. The service was great and although I didn't have a kosher meal ordered they were familiar with kosher and brought me a number of uncut fruits including one I had never seen before so I got to make a shehecheyanu.   
Arrival in Hong Kong went smoothly. I bought an oscar card for use while in Hong Kong .This can be used for any public transportation within Hong Kong. There is 50hk dollar deposit (a little less then 7 usd) that i think you can get back upon leaving plus any unused balance. I took the airport express to the Kowloon station and a taxi from the station to the grand Stafford. The hotel is very nice and the service good.I had requested a low floor to make it easier on shabbos and they gave me a room on the second floor. I had also requested a room with a view but they wanted an additional 50 dollars a day for that so I declined.

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2023, 03:38:04 PM »


sunrise as seen from from the airplane as we are landing in tokyo



Hachiko



almost like in bnei brak :)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2023, 03:41:30 PM by trips99 »

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2023, 08:30:23 AM »
Friday  
I went to shacharis at kehilat Zion. After davening and eating breakfast, I walked along the promenade until the star ferry. I took the star ferry across the harbour to Hong Kong central. There are 2 lines to get on the ferry upper deck and lower deck. Once on the boat you can't go from one deck to the next so make sure to go on the line for the upper deck as the views are much better. I then took a bus to Victoria peak and took a tram to the top. Even though I had not purchased my ticket in advance there were no lines. I paid extra to go on the terrace and felt it was worth it. The views were spectacular, and you were able to see Hong Kong spread out below you. I ended up spending more time than I had expected on the top. Originally, I had planned to visit the fish market but as it was getting later on Friday afternoon, I ended up taking the bus and then the ferry back to the hotel. The hotel pool was empty except for a father and his 2 sons so I was able to go swimming. The temperature was around 97 degrees, so the swim was much appreciated. 

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2023, 07:56:42 AM »
Shabbos

 I davened and ate at Kehilt Zion . The tefilas were very nice with davening at a good pace, not too slow or too fast. The seudas had around 30 people each seuda. The food was plentiful with a large variety. There is a $150 USD cost per person for the seudas and they ask that you reserve and pay in advance. I enjoyed fascinating conversations during the seudas. Friday night I sat next to someone that climbed Mt. Everest. Hearing a first person account is definitely different then reading about it. Among the tidbits he shared was that on the last day he was so weak that for every 2 steps he took he had to rest. In addition he fainted 5 times on the summit day. He recalled seeing the sherpas have to carry someone down that passed out. Shabbos day I sat next to an Israeli soldier that had been in the special forces and just finished his service. Again very interesting memories he shared. There are steps available to go up and down to the shul and there is no need to use the escalators.
    Although the Grand Stafford was billed as shabbos friendly I disagree. While walking in the staircase there are automatic lights that brighten when you pass. The lights  are on 24 hours a day but when a person passes by the light brightens.  I would urge anybody to contact their rav and discuss it before staying here. From my perspective I would rather stay at an inferior hotel with inferior service than turn on lights even if there would be a heter to do so .
   Motzei Shabbos I watched the nightly light show on the promenade. It was highly popular and the largest crowd I witnessed  my whole trip. The reviews online range from can't miss to complete meh. I fall someone in between .I found it enjoyable and am glad I watched but didn't find it  spectacular. I would say watch it if you can but don't make yourself crazy or rearrange your entire schedule to do so . I then proceeded to the night market .For all the talk about it I expected it to be a lot larger and have more vendors then it did.It does not come close to the night market in Chiang Mai for the amount of vendors or variety of goods. Even the vendors they did have many of them seemed to be selling very similar  goods. Having said that, I did buy a watch and handbag for very good prices, and as everybody says make sure you bargain and don't pay the first price they tell you.

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2023, 12:29:23 PM »

From victorias peak


Lakewood pre sukkos shuk or hong kong night market  :o




Promenade at night

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2023, 12:36:35 PM »

While the rest of the airport had long lines first class check in had agents waiting for pasengers


Private room in the cp first class wing lounge




« Last Edit: August 18, 2023, 02:31:24 PM by trips99 »

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2023, 12:43:01 PM »


Line to get on flight to Manila that I skipped because I was one world emerald


Some weird fog or something that filled my cebu pacific plane

Offline biobook

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Apr 2020
  • Posts: 1393
  • Total likes: 1692
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2023, 01:14:48 PM »

Some weird fog or something that filled my cebu pacific plane
Pesticide?

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2023, 01:37:02 PM »
Pesticide?
not a clue.It seemed to be coming from the vents. I certainly hope it wasn't pesticide as I breathed that stuff in
« Last Edit: August 18, 2023, 01:40:24 PM by trips99 »

Offline biobook

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Apr 2020
  • Posts: 1393
  • Total likes: 1692
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2023, 01:37:52 PM »
not a clue. I certainly hope it wasn't pesticide as I breathed that stuff in
If you're not an insect, you should be okay.

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2023, 01:39:28 PM »
Sunday

My flight was 9 so I left the hotel at 6:30 . I took a cab to the train station and a train to the airport. Being a one world emerald I had access to the first class check in even though I was flying economy. When I checked in, the first question she asked me was how many bags I am checking in. By the time I gave my passport and checked in , my bags were gone. Another agent had whisked it away .On my way to security I passed the business class check in and it seemed to me the lines were even longer than at economy check in. I had access to the first class lounge and went to the wing. I had tried to order kosher food at the lounge with the phone numbers provided in the ddf but they no longer work. I also tried to order through the Cathay  messaging system and was unable to. I know last year when I was there they told me that since covid they no longer serve kosher food in the lounge .I understood it as at the time Hong Kong was closed and very few people were flying through Hong Kong.Hong Kong has since reopened and I would hope they would have restarted serving kosher food.  Even if they did I don't know how to actually go about ordering the kosher food. 
They had really large private rooms available in the lounge  that included a shower,bath ,couch and private bathroom. The room was larger than most hotel rooms. I was able to daven in peace and quiet. Going to the gate takes a bit of time as you must take a train to the gates .They served hermoiles meals on the plane even though it was only a 2 and half hour flight. Originally I had made a 6 hour stopover in Manila to go explore the city . For various reasons I slept very little motz"sh and given I had a 3 am tour Monday I pivoted and booked a hotel room right near the airport to take a nap. I booked the Belmont hotel for around 50 dollars .It is a 3 minute walk from the terminals and was billed as a 4 star hotel. My advice is to avoid this hotel. It is nowhere close to a 4 star and in addition had some unsavory people hanging around the lobby. It served the purpose of giving me a bed for 4 hours but I am glad I was not there longer than that.
Check in for my cebu pacific flight was quick and easy. They had many people helping you. I think labor in the Philippines is very cheap so they didn't mind having an excess of staff on hand. The airport itself is third world. They don't give gate assignments until boarding time. Everybody waits in a large hall with rows of benches. The hall was not air-conditioned and the temperature was quite hot.They called my flight and gave a gate number to go to. At the gate we all entered buses and waited on the buses for 10 minutes. They then decided to change the gate number. We had to deboard the bus and walk to our new gate. The flight itself was uneventful and empty so I had my own row of seats. When I boarded  there was some weird fog enveloping the plane and you couldn't see more then a few feet.Nobody else seemed concerned so I decided I also shouldn't be.When I arrived in cebu I took a grab(philippines version of Uber) to my hotel. It was a 45 minute drive and cost $8.69. I would think that just the gas should almost cost that much. I settled in and quickly went to sleep as I had a 3 am pickup for my tour the next day.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2023, 01:43:51 PM by trips99 »

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2024, 10:41:15 PM »
MONDAY PART 1

It's over half a year since my trip so some details may be fuzzy but i will try to be as accurate as possible.The big tourist attraction is cebu is swimming with the whale sharks. The activity is available from 6 am to 12 pm every day.In order to reserve a slot for your time the tourist has to physically be there and get a entry ticket with a number  The guide cannot get it in advance or reserve your space in line. The earlier you get there the less of a wait you should have and if you get there too late all the passes for the day may be given out.This causes the tours from cebu which is I think is close to a 3 hour drive from the oslob where the whale sharks are to leave very early.I woke up 3 am, went to the hotel lobby where my guide was waiting for me and got into the vehicle for the drive to oslob. I promptly fell asleep and woke up as we pulled into oslob.The reviews say the road is very bumpy but thankfully i slept through it all.We got in line for our tickets and once we received them based on the number we got the guide estimated that it was around a hour and a half to our swimming time. I then went and davened shacharis .I turned down the free breakfast that came with the tour and they couldn't fathom that I would turn down free food.
   For the whale shark swimming you get in a boat with around 10  people and go out into the ocean .Accompanying you is another boat that puts out food to attract the whale shark to come swim near your boat. You then get half a hour in the water with the whale shark.Although officially you are not supposed to touch the whale shark it is pretty hard not to as the shark is swimming around and around and is huge (somewhere around 30 feet in length).There were multiple times the shark bumped into me and overall i enjoyed. I also rented a gopro .I don't remember for how much but it wasn't a lot(maybe 10 dollars or slightly more) and someone accompanys you into the water and shoots the gopro for you and of you swimming with the shark and it's all included in the price of the rental.
   The next stop was canyoneering. Generally the hot spot for canyoneering in cebu is badian canyon When i was there it was closed due to damage from a large typhoon in December of 2021.This typhoon was one of the worst storms on record in the philippines and did extensive damage including blowing the roof off of my drivers home.They had to rebuild a lot of the walkways etc. in the canyon and it was closed for almost 2 years until this past october.I went in a secondary canyon and enjoyed it very much although I was told it's not in the same league as badian canyon.You basically wade and swim through water to a series of jumps with the tallest jump being about 30 feet.Just the swimming and being in the water with almost nobody around was very relaxing and I thoroughly enjoyed this activity. In total I think it took around 2 hours.To get to the water  they drove me on one of their mini motorcycles (The type they have all over the philippines) with me hanging on for dear life as the guide went flying through the woods to get to the water.After finishing the canyoneering my driver  drove me to a restaurant for my free lunch .I again declined the food but they took me up to their outdoor seating that was empty and I ate the kosher food I had brought along.I had beautiful views of the ocean while i ate.Both my guide and the guide by the canyoneering both couldn't believe I was in the philippines for just one day and told me I need to come back and swim with the sardines. There is something called the sardine run and you can swim amongst millions of sardines .I asked my guide if there was any way to make it happen that day and after getting over his shock he made a  few phone calls and it was all arranged.

Offline lansky

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Feb 2014
  • Posts: 316
  • Total likes: 35
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: nyc
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2024, 04:34:50 AM »
Shabbos

 I davened and ate at Kehilt Zion . The tefilas were very nice with davening at a good pace, not too slow or too fast. The seudas had around 30 people each seuda. The food was plentiful with a large variety. There is a $150 USD cost per person for the seudas and they ask that you reserve and pay in advance. I enjoyed fascinating conversations during the seudas. Friday night I sat next to someone that climbed Mt. Everest. Hearing a first person account is definitely different then reading about it. Among the tidbits he shared was that on the last day he was so weak that for every 2 steps he took he had to rest. In addition he fainted 5 times on the summit day. He recalled seeing the sherpas have to carry someone down that passed out. Shabbos day I sat next to an Israeli soldier that had been in the special forces and just finished his service. Again very interesting memories he shared. There are steps available to go up and down to the shul and there is no need to use the escalators.
    Although the Grand Stafford was billed as shabbos friendly I disagree. While walking in the staircase there are automatic lights that brighten when you pass. The lights  are on 24 hours a day but when a person passes by the light brightens.  I would urge anybody to contact their rav and discuss it before staying here. From my perspective I would rather stay at an inferior hotel with inferior service than turn on lights even if there would be a heter to do so .
   Motzei Shabbos I watched the nightly light show on the promenade. It was highly popular and the largest crowd I witnessed  my whole trip. The reviews online range from can't miss to complete meh. I fall someone in between .I found it enjoyable and am glad I watched but didn't find it  spectacular. I would say watch it if you can but don't make yourself crazy or rearrange your entire schedule to do so . I then proceeded to the night market .For all the talk about it I expected it to be a lot larger and have more vendors then it did.It does not come close to the night market in Chiang Mai for the amount of vendors or variety of goods. Even the vendors they did have many of them seemed to be selling very similar  goods. Having said that, I did buy a watch and handbag for very good prices, and as everybody says make sure you bargain and don't pay the first price they tell you.
how was getting to your room in the intercontinental in hkg on shaboss in terms of the stairs and did you have ihg status at that time

Offline trips99

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2023
  • Posts: 24
  • Total likes: 20
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2024, 01:18:24 AM »
how was getting to your room in the intercontinental in hkg on shaboss in terms of the stairs and did you have ihg status at that time
I had no status.I had no problem getting in and out of the staircase .There were no alarms or anything like that when you entered the stairwell. I taped a piece of cardboard to the lock of my room so the door did not automatically lock so i could come and go as i pleased.The hotel did offer to accompany me to my room anytime i needed and open the door for me with a electronic key, however I preferred to put all my valuables in the safe and just   not lock the door. The main issue i had was that the lights in the stairwell had automatic sensors that caused every bulb to brighten every time anybody passed by .I would urge you to speak to your local rav before staying for shabbos to discuss this issue. I had emailed other hotels in the area and they were very accommodating for shabbos so there are other options.

Offline lansky

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Feb 2014
  • Posts: 316
  • Total likes: 35
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: nyc
Re: asia (japan,hk,cebu and seoul)
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2024, 04:16:07 AM »
I had no status.I had no problem getting in and out of the staircase .There were no alarms or anything like that when you entered the stairwell. I taped a piece of cardboard to the lock of my room so the door did not automatically lock so i could come and go as i pleased.The hotel did offer to accompany me to my room anytime i needed and open the door for me with a electronic key, however I preferred to put all my valuables in the safe and just   not lock the door. The main issue i had was that the lights in the stairwell had automatic sensors that caused every bulb to brighten every time anybody passed by .I would urge you to speak to your local rav before staying for shabbos to discuss this issue. I had emailed other hotels in the area and they were very accommodating for shabbos so there are other options.
which other hotels did you email, I'm having a very difficult time figuring out a hotel that's not a fortune that doesn't have any shabbos problems more then any other city