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Archive for December, 2010

How to Travel Around the World for $418 Dec 19

I came over this story about a guy that wanted to travel around the world for as little money as possible. And how can that be done? Well, by earning air miles in various creative ways in the USA :-) It turns out that there are quite a few lucrative deals for earning miles by using credit cards in the USA, you just have to know about all the rules and deals out there. Check out this article on Gizmodo as it is quite interesting to read how he earned the points, how to use the points and how to afford traveling for a longer period of time and so on. There are also a few links to other pages that might be useful. Unfortunately we don’t have the same credit card deal in Norway so some of these advices are limited to readers in the USA. But it is still a fascinating story :-) If you want to read an even more creative way of earning air miles you should check out Tyler’s story “The day I bought $15,000“. Tyler bought 15.000 USD from US Mint and then went to the bank to sell them again to cover the credit card bill – quite brilliant ;-)

Regards
Gard
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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SAS to reinstate Oslo-New York route Dec 14

A bit of old news maybe – SAS will reinstate the Oslo-New York route in 2011 and it is brewing up to be quite a price-war as Norwegian has also announced that they will start flights to New York as well (and to Bangkok). So it seems like SAS and Norwegian is taking the battle scene from Norway to world now. Hopefully this will result in good prices for the consumers but it will be exciting to see how Norwegian will be able to handle long-haul flights. You can read more about the SAS news on businesstraveller.com and you can read more about the new planes that Norwegian is getting to fly their new routes on Flightglobal.com.

Internet is back on SAS and Lufthansa flights Dec 11

It finally looks like it will be possible once again to get online while flying. I had the pleasure of trying this back in 2006 when I flew Scandinavian airlines to Asia. In advance I had read that it was possible to surf on the plane so I pre-registered and it worked like a charm. But obviously there were issues with this as it was discontinued in 2007. But now it seems like both SAS and Lufthansa will introduce this service once again. On the Lufthansa pages it says: “FlyNet is back on board – faster, stronger, smarter. Lufthansa is now offering boundless broadband communications. With WLAN-enabled devices, you can surf the Internet and utilise mobile data services on many of our long-haul flights. FlyNet brings the entire spectrum of mobile data communications at fingertip to passengers above the clouds” . You can read more about the Lufthansa FlyNet solution is this article.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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Thai Airways with a makeover Dec 09

Bangkok Post reports that Thai Airways are planning on spending “billions of dollars” on a makeover of their planes starting in 2012. The article in Bangkok Post will give you all the details but in general it seems like they are going to upgrade first class to be a light version of what you can find on Emirates A380 and the business class will also be upgraded to have a 180 degree full flat bed. I have had the pleasure of flying Thai first class (as you can see from the range of blog post here) and it was not bad at all but the problem is that the product varies from plane to plane and from route to route. Another confusing issue for me is that the photo of the new business class in the Bangkok Post article is identical to the Pearl Business Class on Etihad Airways. So is Bangkok Post just speculating or will they have identical products? Another thing that is worth noticing is that they will actually reduce the seat pitch on economy class. They have had about 34″ pitch before and now it will be 31-32″. Well, it will be exciting to see what the final products will be like when they are introduced.


Our hotel room at the Small hotel in Krabi, Thailand Dec 04

After a short stop in Bangkok, we moved to the Krabi area in the south of Thailand where we stayed at the Small hotel near Ao Nang beach outside Krabi. We had a moon deck suite and we did have high expectations but these were not met – maybe because we just came from a great hotel in Bangkok. But here is the review of the hotel as posted on Tripadvisor and below is a video of our room.

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Our room at Le Meridien in Bangkok Dec 01

We just had the pleasure of staying at Le Meridien in Bangkok. When we arrived we were upgraded to a suite and got a great room.

Le_meridien_bangkok_entranceI booked the hotel online on the Starwood Preferred Guest site and we chose this hotel as we wanted to try out a new hotel in Bangkok – from before we have tried hotels like Sheraton Sukhumvit, Westin Sukhumvit, Lebua, Plaza Athenee etc. The rate I got was 4590 THB (about 150 USD) including taxes but without breakfast. Le Meridien is located on Surawong road in the Silom area so getting to the hotel took a bit of time with a taxi in the Friday afternoon traffic of Bangkok – but we decided to use taxi as it is not very practically to drag around big suitcases on the airport express train and skytrain/subway. The taxi was about 500 Baht including the toll stations on the express way.

Le_meridien_bangkok_bedWhen checking in we were informed that the room we had booked (corner room) was not available and instead we had been upgraded to a corner suite – not the worst message one can get when checking in at a hotel ;-) We got our keys, vouchers for a free drink at Bamboo Chic and our suitcases were sent to our room. We got room 1124 and it was quite a room to say the least. When we walked in we were met by some sort of book shelf but behind this was a living room with two sofas with a table, a large flat screen TV, a work desk and even an espresso machine – we had the option of espresso, regular coffee (in a press mug) and there were even takeaway cups – how cool is that?.

Le_meridien_bangkok_living_roomThe room was tastefully decorated with books about Thailand in the bookshelf and with pieces of art scattered around in the room. The room was tiled with black tiles on the floor to start with but the rest of the room was with a yellowish carpet. The work desk had a large phone with a display that greeted us welcome – not that we used it much. From the living room there was a large window facing to Rama IV road leading to Hua Lamphong train station. The room also included a small fridge with various cold drinks and there were also proper glasses if you wanted to enjoy any of the drinks.

Le_meridien_bangkok_bed_room_TVFrom the living room there was a sliding door leading into the large bed room. In here there was a large bed of course which turned out to be very comfortable with one large duvet and 4 pillows. There was also a TV for the bedroom and in this room we also found the mini safe. There was also a chair by the windows with the same view as for the living room. The windows had electrical day and night blinds. A new sliding door took us into the bath room and it Le_meridien_bangkok_bed_room_bath_roomwas also possible to slide away most of the wall that was separating the bed room and the bath room. In the bath room there were black tiles on the floor and walls and we also had a bath tub, two sinks, lots of amenities ranging from shower caps, mouth wash, dental kit etc etc. A glass door led into the large shower with two separate shower parts…each part had a regular shower and a rain forest shower head option. The shower was all done in black tiles so it was a bit on the dark side – I would have loved to see lighter tiles here. The toilet was separated from the rest of the bath room with a door made with frosted glass – an excellent solution.

Le_meridien_bangkok_breakfastSome of the walls turned out to be not just walls in the bath room – some turned out to be the wardrobe with nice fluffy bathrobes and soft slippers and the other contained an iron. One even turned out to be a sliding door which opened up into the living room.
The breakfast was served at Last recipe on the 2 floor and as it was not included we had to pay. The full buffet was 650 Baht (22 USD) so there was no point in just going for continental breakfast as that was 550 Baht. Le_meridien_bangkok_breakfast2The breakfast selection was excellent as you would expect from a 5 star hotel – a good selection of bread, cereal, fruit etc. But there was also stations with staff that could make omelets, carve up meat, scoop up some frozen yogurt for you and there were also various selection of hot food. In some of the reviews on TripAdvisor the breakfast buffet has been described as the best in town so naturally we had high expectations but after having stayed at other nice 5 star hotels (like Sheraton on Sukhumvit and Plaza Athenee) I don’t think this was any better than what the others have to offer. Nikki was missing hard boiled eggs, she was not that impressed with the watermelon but she was impressed with the option of fresh waffles and that it was possible to get some funky smoothie blends. And it was nice twist with the Illy press filter coffee that was served at our table. We also stopped by Bamboo chic briefly to have an aperitif before going out one evening and it looked like a nice place.

Le_meridien_bangkok_bedroom_chairThe location of the hotel is not bad – located on Surawong road it is about a 10 minute walk from Sala Daeng BTS station and you can also walk a couple of more minutes to Silom subway station. But note that the most direct route leads you straight through Patpong – maybe one of the most famous red light districts in the world and certainly the most know red light area in Bangkok. Today there is also a night bazaar and if you walk in the middle of this and keep your eyes focused on this you might be able to avoid seeing all the neon lights. But trust me…you will get asked if you want to see ping pong shows or if you want to buy various movies.

Le_meridien_bangkok_bath_roomConclusion: well, it is hard to really give an accurate conclusion as we were upgraded to a corner suite and that turned out to be just an amazing room. I really think the layout of this room is one of the best layouts that I have seen in a hotel room and I loved the larger double shower. Special treats like a coffee machine, lots and lots of complimentary water etc made this into a very comfortable stay. But I can also mention a couple of things that I don’t like – I would have liked to see free internet in the room. We were actually informed when we called the first day that it was included but when it didn’t work the second day we got the opposite message. There was free internet in the lobby but it required a user name and password from the concierge and he seemed to only activate it upon request. Another thing that turned out to be a challenge was the air con – there was a separate air con in the living room and the bed room but we could never really figure it out and it was always freezing in the living room. But these are just details of course – all in all this was one of the best hotel rooms that I have ever stayed in. I have also uploaded a video showing the room by the way.

Regards
Gard
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

Here is also a video that I took of the room…enjoy Winking smile