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My Travel Story: Revisiting Thailand (Nov-Dec 2014)
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  1. #1
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    Revisiting Thailand (Nov-Dec 2014)

    My most recent trip to Thailand is over. A friend suggested I do a trip report, but I told him that there’s nothing truly significant worth writing about--unless I make mountains out of molehills! But as I look back now, I could probably share some pleasant experiences which might delight some, or misadventures that others could draw lessons from.

    Happy stories are aplenty, but for now I will start with a misadventure.

    My recent trip to Thailand was completely unplanned. I was going through tough times and friends suggested it looked like I could use some vacation to de-stress. The idea appealed to me immensely. I must admit it was a poorly planned journey, Thailand being the last of my 3-leg trip, and almost a second thought. Because of tight schedule, I suffered the consequence of having to pay for an expensive ticket because it was a last minute purchase. Besides, November is already considered peak season.

    There was a pharmaceutical company attending a conference in Bangkok on the same week and they’re booked at Hilton Millenneum (not at the infamous “Bangkok Hilton”! lol) Someone volunteered to pull strings for me to stay in the same hotel initially to avail of group rates. A good thing, but still not the place for me for long stay.

    As I didn’t have much time to prepare, being too busy tying loose ends at work and at the domestic front before my departure, I just trusted the travel agent to book me in a cheaper hotel after Hilton (probably 3-star). She showed me 3 choices briefly and they all looked fine to me—but I didn’t really bother to read the details about them. Big, stupid mistake! I have always considered myself non-finicky about accommodation, but the one she booked for me this time was rather appalling. First of all, taxi drivers never heard of it. It took us eternity to finally find it. It is located in a narrow alley not accessible by cars, and to reach it you needed to alight at the main road and haul your luggage having to pass through some dodgy- looking men drinking by the road. Then there’s no restaurant inside, not even a 7-11 nearby. There’s no lift, which means you have to carry your own baggage by yourself since they don’t have bellboys. My room (they offered me the biggest, so far) was on the 3rd floor. The stairs looked too tricky to me.

    However, what really broke the camel’s back was the size of the room. It’s super tiny. There’s no place to put your things on, except on the small space between the bed and the bathroom, which means you need to be careful and avoid stepping on it when you move about. Exciting. Reminded me of doing an obstacle game! Or you could put your baggage on the (tiny, too, of course!) bed to sleep with you.

    Still, that’s not what bothered me most. It is said that when you’re a tourist, you’re out all day and you only need a room to sleep in. That is, if you could SLEEP in that room. But I seriously wondered if I could sleep at all, let alone breathe, inside such fully enclosed minuscule cell without feeling claustrophobic. I had never had claustrophobia in my whole life. That room just brought it.

    Hence, I decided to move out instantly. The thought of squandering my 3-night pre-paid stay truly hurt. But that’s one of those moments when you philosophically reflect what money is for. And I conclude that, among other things, it comes handy to let you live longer!

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  3. #2
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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    that is terrible news....have you contacted your travel agent to complain, or do you think it will fall on unconcerned deaf ears? Good on you for deciding to move out instantly, what did you say at reception? What happened next?....
    The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
    - Chinese Proverb

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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    I hope you will tell "the rest of the story" and that it has a happier ending (but don't alter it for us).

    Your tale shows how we all take certain amenities for granted, such as a lift and a closet where we can put our clothes, and accessibility from the main road. In fact, we have a right to reasonable expectations such as these.

    I think you should tell your travel agent, especially if she is an agent you do business with on a regular basis. She (he) needs to know what you expect from your accommodations. A successful business is based on the owner's knowledge of the product, after all.

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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    I intend to see my travel agent personally this weekend when the owner is there. You see, many of these travel agents don't have first hand information on the conditions of the hotels they are promoting. And sometimes there's feedback from clients that doesn't match the experience of others. For example, I saw some "very good" ratings on this hotel. I wonder how on earth they came about! Is it my judgment which is faulty?

    I have written my review with TripAdvisor, though, which should be more helpful to travelers.

    Ok, I told the Reception- which was composed of 1 single soul, and nobody else- that I was going to leave. Why, she asked even after my unabashed display of dismay. "Because I don't want to die in your hotel" was my short answer. Of course she didn't understand. But I figured she would never appreciate my reasons, anyway. From their eyes there's nothing much wrong with their facilities.

    The only favor I asked was to let me use their phone, and from there I booked myself in another hotel in Silom which was one of the hotels I had previously considered. Luckily there was a suitable vacant room.

    Now start my happy stories.

    The price was basically the same, but there's a whale of difference between the two hotels. This new one is centrally located; accessible to MRT, BTS, tuktuk, bath buses, taxis; the rooms are clean and bigger; has a lift; breakfast is for free; 7-11 is half-block away; nearby restaurants are open 24 hours; street foods and fruit vendors (very important to me!) abound; night markets (including Patpong) are virtually on the doorstep; near to banks; Lumpini Park is stones throw away; Silom Compex, where my favorite Tops Supermarket is housed, is within walking distance; and the staff are accommodating. What else could I ask for? (But then I am easy to please. )

    Because I was satisfied with this hotel, I reserved again for my stay after my weekend out-of-town trip. They kept my luggage for safe-keeping. My return trip happened to be very early in the morning since my Thai friend gave me a lift before proceeding to his office in Bangkok. The hotel check-in time is officially at 2pm. But because there was a room that had just been vacated, the staff had it cleaned immediately and offered to let me check in on the spot, thus sparing me from long hours of waiting!

    This is a small, non-spectacular, non-glitzy hotel, but I am happy with it and may use it again in the future.
    Last edited by Marie; 09-12-14 at 08:07 PM.

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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    ..........and the name & address of that hotel is? (for the benefit of members)

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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    I am happy to pass on the info to anyone interested.

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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    Thank you for sharing Marie (misery loves company) I am glad things started to go better for you after that unpleasant experience.

    My wife and I will be leaving for a 30-day stay in Thailand in a couple of weeks. I am having mixed feelings about the trip due to the current political situation.

    As for the taxi driver, I've have often found that some Bangkok taxi drivers only want to go to places they know first hand. (Or perhaps they know to stay away from certain areas?)

    At any rate, I hope you get some (or all) of your money back through your travel agent. I once lost $280.00 for a hotel room (large hotel within walking distance from BKK) because of a delayed flight. I learned never to book a hotel for the first day of an international flight unless you can get a full refund/credit in case of a flight delay.

    I'm sure that someday you will look back on that "misadventure" and smile about it.

    RickThai

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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    Quote Originally Posted by RickThai View Post
    Thank you for sharing Marie (misery loves company) I am glad things started to go better for you after that unpleasant experience.
    In general my good experiences far outweighed the bad ones. Certainly one of my most enjoyable trips in Thailand.

    As for the taxi driver, I've have often found that some Bangkok taxi drivers only want to go to places they know first hand. (Or perhaps they know to stay away from certain areas?)
    You're right, RickThai. But sometimes I am glad the drivers don't take me as a passenger when they don't know the place, for they may only make us drive around aimlessly.

    At any rate, I hope you get some (or all) of your money back through your travel agent. I once lost $280.00 for a hotel room (large hotel within walking distance from BKK) because of a delayed flight. I learned never to book a hotel for the first day of an international flight unless you can get a full refund/credit in case of a flight delay.

    I'm sure that someday you will look back on that "misadventure" and smile about it.
    Actually I am no longer very optimistic that I can still get my money back. And yes, I can already smile about this. More importantly, I have learned my lesson. Had I endeavored a bit, I should have read the following warning from a review which clearly gave an idea about this hotel. No way would I have agreed to be booked in this kind of accommodation.

    DO NOT STAY HERE
    Reviewed April 13, 2014
    Room sucked. I'm short and still had to sit on toilet sideways because it was so close to the wall my knees hit. "Window" faced into reception so it was loud and I had to just keep the shade down. Shower floods entire room.
    JUST GO ELSEWHERE. DON'T GIVE THIS PLACE YOUR MONEY.
    About reserving a hotel room, booking through the internet may give you cheaper rates, compared to doing it as a walk-in client. You are given an option to pay right away or upon check-in or check-out, but there's a deadline for cancelling the reservation. Failure to do that will enable them to charge the fees though your credit card, the details of which they ask for as you reserve, when you don't show up. I also discovered that some booking outfits don't charge booking fees, while some do. So a little research work is needed to find out which ones don't and therefore pick them.

    However, RickThai, am surprised to learn about the hotel forfeiting your advanced payment when your flight was delayed. I imagine some hotels may be less strict. I wonder if advising them through email or phone about the delayed flight before arrival would make them more considerate?

    What one farang does is do the research beforehand, and upon arriving at the airport he makes the booking online to avail of the internet rates, not the walk-in prices.

    I might do this next time.
    Last edited by Marie; 10-12-14 at 10:00 PM.

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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    STILL ON HOTELS

    Let me share another experience I had about accommodation while we were in Kanchanaburi. My hosts, a lovely Thai couple named Pan (husband) and Nok (wife), decided to pick a hotel which Pan had seen on the internet. He had looked at a few, and the description of this one he zeroed in fit his image of an idyllic scenery- “near the river”.

    The inn was tucked away in a village which was very far away from the main road. That’s not the problem, though. The problem was there’s no river on sight. When we arrived the reception was deserted. Which was a boon because it gave us time to rethink matters. After 10 minutes of waiting at the lobby, we went out and started to inspect the place. First thing Pan looked for was the river. There was none. The only body of water we found was a man-made structure that resembled a little dam lodged in between cemented enclosures. It measured about 20 feet long and 8 feet wide. “And the guy I spoke to on the phone said it’s near the river! Is this THE RIVER?" exclaimed Pan, laughing. (Some hotels really tend to lie, I said to myself.) Then he started to make phone calls. Pan had not paid anything and so we drove off to scout for other hotels on his list.

    It was getting late; we were tired and famished and no suitable lodging place yet. Finally we stopped in a row of cottages made of teak wood overlooking the river! It’s called VIP Wang-Ingsha Resort. There were beautiful flowers and plants all over. The place just looked so charming. After examining the bed room, Pan showed it to me and asked one brief question, “OK to you?” My answer came fast, “Yes, OK to me”.

    We checked in there. Nothing fancy. In fact the linoleum on the floor was slightly torn and the curtains were faded and ill-fitted. Who cared. All I wanted was a cool aircon (I thought!), clean bedroom, sanitary toilet, and comfortable bed. We had the balcony to ourselves. It’s used as a dining room and also a lounging room from where we could admire the breathtaking view of the Upper River Kwai..

    Annexed to the hotel opposite our rooms were guest houses submerged in water. Some vacationers took a swim or dangled their feet in the river, and when they came out they just climbed directly to their porch. How convenient! The guest houses looked enticing, but the sleeping quarters were not air-conditioned--the reason why they didn’t interest me.

    (To be continued)
    Last edited by Marie; 11-12-14 at 01:20 PM.

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    Re: Revisiting Thailand

    (STILL IN THE SAME HOTEL)

    Food was to be ordered by mobile phone or personally going to the kitchen/office by negotiating about 30 yards. My Thai friends took care of ordering. While having dinner at the balcony, for some reason hundreds of mosquitoes suddenly swarmed the fluorescent lamps. The lights were turned off for the mosquitoes to desert us. True enough the mosquitoes dwindled in number once the lights were out. We lit candles, instead. How romantic, they chorused. But it’s so risky to eat thorny fish with dim lights. I set aside my spoon and fork and used my bare hands to eat in order to feel the bones. Really back to basic!

    My Thai hosts tended to over-order whenever we dined. The food was always overflowing. That night Nok asked the waiter to keep the leftover on the hotel’s fridge (we didn’t have any in our rooms), despite protestation from Pan. He said to eat it all or forget about the uneaten portions. I thought it would be criminal to throw away such big volume of leftover. But then I wouldn’t also exceed my limit on my food intake for the sake of trying to avoid wastage. Along the way Tao had picked up some Japanese melons, which we asked the waiter to cut up for dinner. So that added to the volume of leftover.

    I excused myself while Nok and Pan were arguing on what to do with the leftover. I just discovered its fate during breakfast the next day when it re-appeared on the table, together with fresh orders. For my friends it’s huge bowls of porridge. Usual Thai breakfast. Plus the leftover the previous night. We teased Pan for devouring with gusto the same leftover food which he didn’t want refrigerated.

    For me it was just a simple American breakfast—2 tiny toasts, marmalade and butter, and coffee. They were horrified to see how little I’d eat considering the long journey ahead from kanchanaburi to Sangklaburi. Pan ordered another meal for me- more bread, sausages, ham, eggs, another cup of coffee (since the first one arrived cold) and orange juice. He said he would eat whatever I wouldn’t. And that happened.

    During the wee hours of the night the aircon got so cold I virtually froze. But no matter how I tried to adjust the thermostat, the temperature wouldn’t change. (The air-con was already on when I came in the room.) It seemed the regulator was broken. But I wouldn’t walk outside in the dead of the night to have it fixed. Lucky thing I had packed my all-purpose jacket at the side pocket of my luggage. While shivering from the cold, it crossed my mind how cozy it would have been to have just stayed in the non-aircon guest thouses. Haha!

    I only learned the next day that you could only regulate the thermostat OUTSIDE of the bedroom, in what looked like a boiler room, since the control button had indeed gone kaput.

    Lesson learned: Be careful with what you wish for.

    No, seriously, always test the appliances if they work well before you settle down.

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