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RTW #1: A Globetrotter is Born

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia – City on the Rise

Posted by on Jan 25, 2006 | 0 comments

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia – City on the Rise

Arrival into Kuala Lumpur International Airport couldn’t be easier. The airport is modern and sparkling clean and there is a hi-speed train that connects you to the KL-Central Station in only 28 minutes for about $9 US. My hotel was right across the street from the Central Station where all of the city’s metro links converge. The metro was a real steal at about 30 cents a ride and ridiculously easy to navigate. It’s so nice to be back in a modern city!

The Hilton Kuala Lumpur was one of the great deals of this trip. The room itself was beautiful at only $75 US per night, but even better, upon check-in I was upgraded to an Executive Level room with access to the Executive Lounge on the top floor. The Lounge has a full buffet breakfast every morning, an evening Malay cuisine buffet (which was fantastic), free drinks, and live entertainment every evening…all gratis. Not to mention it has free wi-fi which has become the perk of all perks on this trip. But my favorite thing about this hotel was the complimentary laundry service, up to 4 pieces per day. (This may not sound exciting to you but if you could see my suitcase right now, you would understand.) I took full advantage of the laundry service both days of my stay and am happy to report that my suitcase is back in good standing, “aromatically” speaking, that is.

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Back to the Beach…Phuket Thailand

Posted by on Jan 23, 2006 | 0 comments

Back to the Beach…Phuket Thailand

This morning I packed up in Bangkok (again) and headed to the airport for my flight to the island of Phuket Thailand. When I arrived at the airport at 7:30am for my 9:00am flight, the agent with Thai Air asked me if I would like to catch the 8am flight instead…well, of course! That would give me an extra hour of beach time. Everyone is so friendly and helpful here in Thailand!

The flight was a little over an hour and once again, a very pleasant experience with Thai Air – nice airline. When I arrived in Phuket, I was surprised to learn that my hotel was almost an hour from the airport! I guess I assumed it was a smaller island than it actually is. Dubbed the ‘Pearl of the South‘ by the tourist industry, Phuket is Thailand’s largest, most populous and most visited island. Long a popular European vacation destination, most Americans only became familiar with Phuket after last year’s tsunami. When I finally arrived at the hotel around 10:30am they had a room ready for me so I changed and headed down to check out the beach.

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Bedtime in Bangkok

Posted by on Jan 21, 2006 | 0 comments

Bedtime in Bangkok

We land in Bangkok at 5:30am and I am sleepwalking through the blissfully clean airport. I got maybe two hours sleep on the flight from India and I’m just praying by some miracle that I’ll be able to check into the hotel this early. I am still wearing the clothes I put on in Dubai two days ago and I’m desperately in need of some sleep. I make my way to the train station and purchase a ticket into town for 100 Baht (roughly $2 US), I think I’m gonna like this town.

When I finally arrive at the hotel, it is almost 7:30am and the hotel was kind enough to actually have a room ready for me (thank you, Royal Orchid Sheraton). When I got up to the room, I immediately dropped everything, stripped down and got in the shower. I briefly considered burning the clothes I wore in India but decided that might be a bit dramatic – however, they could really use a good washing. The shower was divine. I felt much better when I got out but it was still so early that I thought I should probably lie down for just a little while before rallying to go take in the sights. You know, perhaps just rest my eyes a bit. I got in bed around 8am and when I woke up…it was 6:30pm.

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Nothing Prepares you for India

Posted by on Jan 20, 2006 | 2 comments

Nothing Prepares you for India

The sole purpose of my quick stop in India is to see the Taj Mahal. Perhaps someday I will come back to see more, but for now, the Taj is my goal.

I am arriving on the red-eye flight from Dubai and then leaving later that same night on the red-eye to Bangkok. I knew this would be a trying part of my journey since it involves 3 overnight flights in a span of 4 nights. The timing is especially crucial as I’m told it is a 4-5 hour drive to Agra (where the Taj is located) and then another 4-5 back to the airport in Delhi. 

So this leaves me with only a few hours to see the Taj and the Agra Fort, the other top attraction in Agra, before heading back to the airport. 

A few days before I departed from the US, I happened to stumble across an important bit of information regarding my stop in India while reading a fellow RTW traveler’s blog. Turns out, the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. My lone day is India is scheduled for a Friday. 

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Decadence in Dubai

Posted by on Jan 18, 2006 | 0 comments

Decadence in Dubai

After a long flight from Cape Town, I had a nice evening layover in Paris and squeezed in a visit with old friends in the city. That night, I headed back to the airport for my last flight of the trip on Air France. It was another great flight with only two people in my cabin (no supermodels this time). 

I landed in Dubai around 8:30am this morning. The airport cab routine was getting a little old so I was thrilled that The Burj Al Arab, my hotel here in Dubai, was sending a driver to meet me at the airport. I expected to see the driver once I cleared customs but was pleasantly surprised to find him waiting for me just after I stepped off the plane (still not sure how he managed that).

He escorted me through passport control and customs in 5 minutes flat and next thing I knew I was cocooned in the plush leather seats of the Burj Al Arab’s Rolls Royce and on my way to the hotel. The driver offered me a cold towel, a bottle of water and even a music list so I could make a selection for the ride to the hotel – very smooth.

And this was just the beginning of the exceptional service the Burj would provide during my brief stay.

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Sharm el Sheikh – Sinai Peninsula

Posted by on Jan 16, 2006 | 2 comments

Sharm el Sheikh – Sinai Peninsula

When you arrive at the airport in Cairo, you are immediately descended upon by airport “entrepreneurs” determined to carry your bags to the counter in exchange for a tip whether you want them to or not. Since I have only one small rolling bag, this is completely unnecessary and a bit absurd. No less than 4 men quizzed me as I walked through the door, “Madame, which flight is yours? What time does your flight leave?” All reaching for my bag and trying to show me the way to the check-in counter. Unfortunately for them, I don’t want to be separated from by bag (even by a few feet) and I can, of course, read signs.

The signs clearly pointed me to the Egypt Air check-in for the Sharm el Sheikh flight, no assistance required but thanks very much. One especially persistent man actually continued to walk right alongside me (as if he was showing me the way) even after I politely told him I did not need his help. When I got to the counter he had the nerve to hold his hand out for a tip. He didn’t get one.

It was a quick 40 minute flight from Cairo to Sharm el Sheikh and I was at the Hilton Sharm el Sheikh Resort by 9am. I was checked into a Junior Suite with a fabulous view (an upgrade courtesy of my Diamond status with Hilton – yay!) and headed down to the beach for the day.

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