My annual December holiday – something I plan early and impatiently await as the year ticks by. This year I did a pretty major holiday touring around South East Asia. There were some Very Good Points and some Not So Good Points along the way. Here’s a recap:
Stop 1 – Phuket, Thailand – 2 days
I joined a friend, for the sake of anonymity we’ll call him “Platymur”, for a quick weekend in Phuket before he headed back to the states. Platymur is perhaps the ultimate foodie and a lot of fun to travel with. He will try almost any food – and on this trip he ate shrimp skins. We really didn’t do anything in Phuket except sit by the pool, visit the spa and eat great Thai food. That was a fine way for me to start the holiday!
Stop 2 – Singapore – 2 ½ days
I had a great time in Singapore. One of the more memorable stops on this trip. I wrote a full review, but here are a few of the VeryGoodPoints. I loved visiting the Botanical Garden, it’s an amazing place and so cool that it’s in the middle of such a large city. I was blown away by the Christmas lights, what a spectacle. I also splurged and saw Sting in concert, what a fun experience to see a legend (IMO) in a foreign country. The Not So Good Points – the Marriott Hotel was nice, but service really fell short. Location was perfect, but the service, or lack thereof, made it a frustrating choice.
Stop 3 – Malaysia, Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur – 2 days
So, I think the first thing to note about this stop in the trip are the Not So Good Points. The stop was supposed to have been 6 days, 4 days in Langkawi and 2 days in Kuala Lumpur. The absolutely Worst Point in the trip was the Sheraton Langkawi. I would never recommend the hotel to anyone. In addition, I didn’t feel comfortable as a single female traveler on that part of the island and because the hotel seemed to cater to the extremely religious Muslim community. I never felt unsafe, but I didn’t feel comfortable or particularly welcome at the resort. So, after ½ a day in Langkawi, I packed up and got the first flight out to Kuala Lumpur. I spent the next day and ½ in KL and really enjoyed two things particularly – the food and the hotel. The Le Meridien KL is amazing! I didn’t write up a trip report on this stop because, honestly, you can read Gary’s review on View From The Wing (which is what I did to plan that day and a half)
Stop 4 – Khao Lak, Thailand – 5 days
Stop 4 was totally unplanned and a spur of the moment decision. It made up for the time I didn’t spend in Malaysia. I chose to go back to Khao Lak because I wanted to go somewhere without any visa requirements, somewhere that had a great pool/beach and I knew I would enjoy and could relax. The only thing I did in Khao Lak was relax and take some great photos!
Stop 5 – Siam Reap, Cambodia – 2 days
This is where the regularly scheduled trip picks back up. One of the other highlights of my trip was Cambodia. I would absolutely recommend a visit if you haven’t been. I wrote a more through report on this stop, but there were a few Very Good Points that I have to mention here. Angkor Wat is one of the most beautiful places/things I have ever seen. If you like history, nature, or architecture, you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t like any of those things, you should still go because it’s spectacular. There really weren’t any Low Points on this stop. Loved it!
Stop 6 – Bangkok, Thailand – 5 days
Stop 6 was really just a positioning stop and a pick-up location. I met two friends in Bangkok who joined me for the remainder of the trip. We were only supposed to have spent 4 days in Bangkok, but one of my friends baggage decided to stay in Paris! It actually became one of the more hysterical points of the trip. I’ll recap the story very briefly here: My friend, very jetlagged, tired and frustrated arrived at the hotel around 8am. She flew Air France, booked through KLM and has status on Delta. She made a few calls and didn’t get anywhere. They told her the bags would arrive in Bangkok the day after we left for Vietnam. She asked me to get involved since I’m a more frequent international traveler and I wasn’t about to fall asleep. On the phone with Air France, the woman says “your bags will arrive in Bangkok on Wednesday.” I say “but we’ll be in Vietnam on Wednesday, can you forward the bags?” Woman “sure, hold on. Okay, I updated the record, the bags will be sent to Vietnam. Me, “where in Vietnam?” Woman, “Vietnam” Me: “Vietnam is country, what city or airport did you send them to?” Woman, “when they arrive in Bangkok they’ll decide where to send them.” WOW, that was the most bizarre conversation. It’s like saying “your bags have been forwarded to America.” “What state?” “Just America, they’ll decide what state when the bag gets there.” Honestly, one of the funny points. However, Air France better respond to the claim filed. Their Twitter team was great, but beyond that, I’m not impressed.
I really have nothing great to add about Bangkok. You can see my 855 other posts on Bangkok J Okay, JK, it’s not 855 posts, but it sure feels like it!
I’ll have a post later this week about traveling with friends! It can be quite an adventure – or nightmare, depending on what your friends are like.
Stop 7 – Saigon, Vietnam – 2 days
Stop 7 was cut one day short because we had to wait for the bags in Bangkok. We really could have spent more time in Vietnam. I haven’t yet written up the post on Vietnam, so I’ll give some sneak highlights here. Very Good Points – the food! WOW, what a great culinary city Saigon is. I could have had Pho for 3 meals a day. There were many other good points, which I’ll write about later, however, the Sheraton Saigon isn’t one of them. It’s an “ok” hotel, but nothing special. I was a little underwhelmed and very disappointed that the hotel allows smoking everywhere. There are some smoke free rooms, but the lobby, restaurants, etc.. all smelled like smoke, all the time.
Stop 8 – Krabi, Thailand – 4 days
For those of you who regularly read my blog you’ll know that I got hurt in Vietnam and so I was sort of crabby in Krabi (oh, that was too good not to say!) I didn’t blog and I didn’t really have an amazing time – not because of the location or anything else, but because I just wasn’t feeling great.
Krabi is beautiful and how I remember Phuket being about 5 or 6 years ago. It’s not overly commercial yet – there are no outlet malls or water parks yet – it’s more low key and laid back. We celebrated New Year’s Eve in Krabi and spent it at the hotel – which was a nice and chill NYE.
That was it, January 4th I headed back to Bangkok and back to “reality” – otherwise known as smog and traffic! You shouldn’t be surprised if I tell you that I’ve already started to plan my 2013 holiday(s) yes, this year there will be 2. I’m not saving up all my time for December this year. Anyone care to take a guess at the two locations I’m going to visit?