Part 4: Budapest, Thailand, & Hong Kong trip report

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Flying Washington Dulles – Frankfurt on United First Class
Part 3: Underground caving in Budapest and Gun shooting
Part 4: Buda Castle & Szechenyi Thermal Spa
Part 5: Flying Munich – Bangkok on Thai Airways First Class
Part 6: Flying Bangkok – Phuket on Thair Airways Business Class
Part 7: Na Kran Beach, Elephant Trekking, Banthai Phuket Resort,
Part 8: Hong Kong
Part 9: Flying Hong Kong – Bangkok in Cathay Pacific Business
Part 10: My days in Bangkok
Part 11: Phuket Airport & Lounge
Part 12: Flying Phuket – Bangkok on Thai Airways First Class
Part 13: Thai First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok
Part 14: Flying Bangkok – Munich on Thair Airways First
Part 15: Flying Munich – Washington Dulles on Lufthansa First

Part 4: Buda Castle & Szechenyi Thermal Spa

Buda Castle
It was a foggy and a rainy day, we started our day off with a nice pizza for breakfast! ha! We couldn’t find anything open so pizza it had to be. I don’t know if it’s just us but in all my travels I had the hardest time finding anything clearly marked in Budapest. We had to walk back and forth few times to find the bus stop that would take us to the Castle Hill. Once we did find the bus stop, it was a nice simple ride. I wish I took a picture of the bus because I thought the bus and the seats were very tiny compared to the ones in New York.

Once we arrived, we could not find the Buda Castle and it wasn’t just us. Everyone on the bus also had a hard time finding it as well. Once again, nothing was clearly marked. I have to say, the Buda Castle is interesting. Interesting in that, I was expecting to see an actual castle. You know, with the towers and arches. Instead, I saw buildings. Now I see why in the past this was called the Royal Palace. I think this name suits it better. My friend and I walked around a bit and took some pictures but quickly decided we would rather spend our time at the Szechenyi Thermal Spa.

We headed back to the bus stop area and once again had a hard time finding the stop that would take us back to where we came from. It must just be us.

Szechenyi Thermal Spa
Szechenyi Thermal Spa is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. The water is supplied by two Thermal Springs and the temperatures are between 165 F and 171 F. The Szechenyi Thermal Spa has many indoor spa areas and it also has saunas and steam rooms. I actually got a little lost inside. Outdoor there was 1 sitting pool with streams of water shooting into the pool, 1 adventure pool which was similar to the sitting pool except there was a section in the middle that had a circular wall and once you enter it, you will be going around in circle because of water current that will push you around. There is also a swimming pool. If you don’t want to sit around in water all day, you can also go inside and grab something to eat or drink. The food choices were not that interesting but once you are there for several hours, you will get hungry and have no desire to leave the premise to seek out food elsewhere. Finally, there are body massages and facial spas.

The price for entrance to Szechenyi Thermal Spa is between $16-$21 USD per person at the time of this post. My friend and I tried the facial spa and that set us back about $40-50 for a hour. They recommend you make reservations for any spa treatments but we got lucky and they were able to squeeze was in. We had a great time at this place. It was very relaxing and totally worth the money. Hungary had a hard economic time and your money will go long ways here.

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Part 3: Budapest, Thailand, & Hong Kong trip report

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Flying Washington Dulles – Frankfurt on United First Class
Part 3: Underground caving in Budapest and Gun shooting
Part 4: Buda Castle & Szechenyi Thermal Spa
Part 5: Flying Munich – Bangkok on Thai Airways First Class
Part 6: Flying Bangkok – Phuket on Thair Airways Business Class
Part 7: Na Kran Beach, Elephant Trekking, Banthai Phuket Resort,
Part 8: Hong Kong
Part 9: Flying Hong Kong – Bangkok in Cathay Pacific Business
Part 10: My days in Bangkok
Part 11: Phuket Airport & Lounge
Part 12: Flying Phuket – Bangkok on Thai Airways First Class
Part 13: Thai First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok
Part 14: Flying Bangkok – Munich on Thair Airways First
Part 15: Flying Munich – Washington Dulles on Lufthansa First

Part 3: Underground caving in Budapest and Gun shooting

For Budapest I wanted to do something adventurous and cultural. My friend and I decided on underground caving and gun shooting for the adventure part.

Underground Caving
Budapest is Hungary’s capital and it’s known for its natural hot springs. From the hot springs an underground cave was formed and believed to be more than 120km long.

We made our reservations at http://caving.hu/. The price was 5,000 HUF, which is about $22 US dollars at the time of this post. The price didn’t include the round-trip public bus ticket that we had to take to the place but it did include a guide, overalls, helmet, and headlamp. Without the guide we would never find our way out.

By the time we arrived at the caving site, there was about 40 people with us. They broke it into groups of about 10 people. We changed into our gears and headed towards the entrance of the cave.

Entrance to cave

Entrance to cave

I am very glad that I brought my black waterproof hiking boots for this. When you are caving, you will definitely get dirty. Your hands can be easily washed off and body is covered in overalls but if you were wearing anything but waterproof boots, it will be a pain to wash. Since my boots were waterproof and black, all I had to do was a quick rinse in the tub and let it dry.

The cave consists of many ballrooms, which is basically a big round room with higher ceilings so you can actually stand straight. The cave also had many passage ways that leads you all around the cave. Some reconnecting you to other ballrooms and back. It’s totally a maze. Anyways, I think pictures will serve a better description of what it was like.

Gunshooting
The following day, we went to Celeritas Shooting Club. They have several different packages that you can choose from. Each package has different number of pistols and rifles you can shoot. The package we went with was “The Gamer”. This package allowed us to shoot a Ruger MK III, Heckler & Koch USP, GLOCK 17, Colt 1911A1, Desert Eagle, Skorpion EVO3, Heckler & Koch USC, Colt M4A1, AK-47, and Remington 870. At the end of the package my friend and I added the Dragunov, awesome sniper gun.
This package was $88.50 USD at the time of this post and additional $8.85 USD for the Dragunov rifle.
My favorite guns were the Desert Eagle and Dragunov for their sheer power.

Part 2: Budapest, Thailand, & Hong Kong trip report

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Flying Washington Dulles – Frankfurt on United First Class
Part 3: Underground caving in Budapest and Gun shooting
Part 4: Buda Castle & Szechenyi Thermal Spa
Part 5: Flying Munich – Bangkok on Thai Airways First Class
Part 6: Flying Bangkok – Phuket on Thair Airways Business Class
Part 7: Na Kran Beach, Elephant Trekking, Banthai Phuket Resort,
Part 8: Hong Kong
Part 9: Flying Hong Kong – Bangkok in Cathay Pacific Business
Part 10: My days in Bangkok
Part 11: Phuket Airport & Lounge
Part 12: Flying Phuket – Bangkok on Thai Airways First Class
Part 13: Thai First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok
Part 14: Flying Bangkok – Munich on Thair Airways First
Part 15: Flying Munich – Washington Dulles on Lufthansa First

Part 2: Flying Washington Dulles – Frankfurt on United First Class

United Airlines 932

Washington Dulles (IAD) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Wednesday, November 20
Depart: 9:52PM
Arrive: 12:00PM (+1 day)
Duration: 8h 8min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 2C

I was pretty excited to start this trip because it was the first time my bestfriend and I took a multi-country trip and I was excited for him since it was his first time in a First Class flight.
I’m not sure who was more excited for him!

As soon as we boarded we grabbed our seats and started to relax. 1 of our crew was originally from The Netherlands and he loved to smile A LOT! Very friendly guy. At one point he and my friend had a brief dance off. ha! The cabin in First is a 1-2-1 configuration. The seats looked very nice. Reminded me of a spaceship cockpit.

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The crew brought us a hot wet towel to freshen up and asked what we would like for our pre-departure drink. We ordered a mini-bottle of Delapierre Brut.
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The seat had the typical bells and whistles, many different compartments, chair controls to make put it in relaxation mode, take-off and landing mode, and lie-flat sleep mode. It did not however have a massage option. In upright seat mode there was more than enough leg room.
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As all international First Class flights goes, once we were in cruising altitude we were served drinks and warm nuts. I ordered diet coke with lemon for my drink. Then came out some breads with butter.
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Followed by a very delicious appetizer, Vegetable-filled pastry and shrimp tempura with Asian barbeque sauce. At first, my friend and I thought it would only taste just ok but after tasting it we were both blown away. I think I could have ate 2 or 3 more of this dish. Also, the Mushroom Brie Bisque was equally amazing! My mouth is getting watery just thinking about them.
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Next, was Fresh Seasonal Greens salad with Tomatoes, cucumbers and croutons with Caesar dressing.
For the main dish I ordered a grilled Pork Chop made with green peppercorn sauce, shitake mushroom bread pudding, white asparagus and broccolini. Looking back I don’t know why I ordered this because I NEVER EVER like Pork Chops. I guess I felt adventurous that day. After tasting it, I still don’t like Pork Chops.
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By now I was stuffed but I knew what was coming next and I had to make room for one more and that was the desert! I always get the vanilla ice cream with all different nuts, hot fudge, whip cream, caramel, and cherry on top. There was one more ingredient but I can’t remember right now what it was. It was similar to strawberry jam. Anyways, once the very friendly crew came to me with the desert cart, I told him that I want the works.
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Once the meal was over, I changed in to my American Airlines PJ. Yes, I know… this is an United flight. But they didn’t offer any PJ on United and only gave out First Class Amenity Kit (which was very impressive!). I set my chair to relaxation mode and watched a movie. Feeling sleepy half way through the movie, I asked the crew for the turndown service then past out.

Before landing, breakfast was served. Typical, European breakfast consisting of slices of different meats, cheese, fruits and yogurt.
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As mentioned above, the United First Class Amenity Kit is very impressive. Totally blows American Airlines First Kit away. It contained glasses cleaning cloth, mouthwash, toothpaste, lotions, eyemask, comb, mints, hand sanitizer, earplugs, facial tissue, socks, shoe-in, and a pen. The bag itself is very useful because it’s a 2-part fold out. I can definitely reuse this.
United Global First (1)United Global First (2)

Introduction: Budapest, Thailand, & Hong Kong trip report

INTRODUCTION

At the end of last year, my friends and I took a nice trip to Budapest, Thailand, and Hong Kong. We wanted to visit an European country that’s not the norm but interesting and also get a chance to visit Asia’s beach and city life.

The challenging part of this trip for me was actually the packing. This was the first time where I had to pack so many footwear and clothes! Since my trip will take me to cold freezing Hungarian weather, I needed something warm and needed at least one thick jacket. In Thailand, I needed swimsuits, flip flops, sneakers and summer clothes. In Hong Kong, I needed something in between of Thai and Hungarian weather. I felt like I was packing all my clothes on this trip. I also ended up packing 4 footwear! Hiking boots for caving, sneakers, flip flop, and casual footwear. This alone took almost one suitcase. My carry-on wasn’t easy either. I had my laptop, 2 cameras and camera equipments, and one change of clothes just in case my check-in gets delayed or lost.

I will break down the trip report in separate parts and report in upcoming days.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Flying Washington Dulles – Frankfurt on United First Class
Part 3: Underground caving in Budapest and Gun shooting
Part 4: Buda Castle & Szechenyi Thermal Spa
Part 5: Flying Munich – Bangkok on Thai Airways First Class
Part 6: Flying Bangkok – Phuket on Thair Airways Business Class
Part 7: Na Kran Beach, Elephant Trekking, Banthai Phuket Resort,
Part 8: Hong Kong
Part 9: Flying Hong Kong – Bangkok in Cathay Pacific Business
Part 10: My days in Bangkok
Part 11: Phuket Airport & Lounge
Part 12: Flying Phuket – Bangkok on Thai Airways First Class
Part 13: Thai First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok
Part 14: Flying Bangkok – Munich on Thair Airways First
Part 15: Flying Munich – Washington Dulles on Lufthansa First

W Montreal Review

W Hotels are nice. The End.

Ok ok, all kidding aside. W Hotel in Montreal, professional staff, nice clean modern rooms, party scene in the lobby during weekends, Acura-Experience, and little rubber ducky.

The room is a Fantastic Suite. Going rate for July was around $300 USD/night. Before I forget to mention, this hotel does not have a club lounge, swimming pool, and the gym is small. The hotel lobby/bar is filled with a lot of locals especially during weekends. This is where some of the locals come to party it up. I don’t think it will get in the way of anyone’s relaxing travels and it might be a good thing to just mingle with the locals!

I believe the room was around 500 sq ft., very clean and modern. The suite isn’t really separated by a wall dividing the bedroom and the bathroom. It’s pretty much merged together as you can see from the picture below.

The bathroom has two sinks, which I think is great if you have someone staying with you.  It’s really hard trying to share one sink and a small mirror! ha!  The bed is very comfortable as they usually are.  I had no problems with it.  The bathtub is behind a white short wall that is in the middle, between the bathroom and bed.  I don’t know if I like it or not.  It’s just.. there.  The shower is spacious and is all see-thru glass.  Interesting…  I don’t know why.  But out of everything in the room, I liked the rubber ducky the most! 🙂

There’s also the Acura-Experience! Basically how the program works is that you make a reservation for the CURRENT day to go anywhere you want (with limited distance) and they will take you there for free in their Acura!  But they do not pick you up, so it’s a  free one way taxi ride!

Overall, I like this hotel more than the Sheraton Le Centre Montreal. Don’t get me wrong though, the Sheraton Le Centre is nice too! If you want a club lounge, swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna and a nice gym, go to Sheraton Le Centre. If you want a more modern hotel very close to the Old Montreal area, go to W Montreal Hotel.

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Being ill aboard

So I arrived at Barbados yesterday and really enjoyed the ocean at Accra Beach. At night I ate some flying fish and went to sleep. Around 4am I woke up with extreme stomachache. It was spreading all over my stomach and felt like someone had their hands inside my stomach moving my organs arounds. Around 8am, I decided to go to a local doctor. It’s 8:45pm now. Over 12 hours since the pain. I noticed how scarey it is to be sick aboard and not knowing how the quality of the medical people are or even their facilities. Also, how much $ would come out of my pocket.
Did anyone ever get really sick? What happened? What was the outcome?

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South Beach Miami Trip Report – Part 1

Part 1: Booking the car rental – Autoslash.com

I decided to go to South Beach Miami this past April and decided to rent a car.  I wanted to rent a car cheaply as possible but I didn’t care to research the cheapest options.  It takes too much time and effort.  So I decided to check out Autoslash.com.  What’s cool about Autoslash.com is that you can book a car through them or enter in your car rental information that you booked elsewhere and they will keep searching for cheaper prices for you automatically every day.  Once they find a price that’s cheaper either with the same car company you initially rented with or with another car rental company, they will email you and let you know that they automatically cancelled the previous reservation and re-booked with the cheaper rate!  If they find a cheaper rate with a different rental company, they will email you and ask if you want to switch to the cheaper rental or not.

My trip was for April 26-28.  I wanted to pick up my car at FLL (Fort Lauderdale airport) on April 26th @ 12pm and drop it off on April 28th @ 12pm.  That’s a 2 day rental.  I also don’t care about renting a cool or bigger car.  I wanted the cheapest car and that would probably save me on gas as well.

I booked with autoslash.com on March 6th for $44.41 all-in for 2 days.  On March 25th I received an email from Autoslash that they found me a cheaper rate.  I was thinking “WOW! Cheaper than $44.41???”.  Only thing was that I had to switch my rental company from Payless to Sixt.  I didn’t mind at all.  Sixt is also a huge company in Europe.  Not so big in the States though.  This switch brought the final price down to $31.93.  Not bad!  That’s only $16 a day and I didn’t have to waste my time sitting in front of a computer looking for cheap prices or try to win a bid with priceline for cheap rental.

With my reservation in hand, when I arrive at FLL, I walked up to the Sixt repersentative’s desk and she even gave me an upgrade!  I got a brand new 2013 Toyota Camry fully loaded.  It’s a great car! I remember driving a Camry back in early 2000’s and the car now is sooooo different.  It’s was an amazing car but it’s even better now.  Anyways, Autoslash.com made car renting a breeze and so simple.  The great thing about them is that their service is totally free (at least from what I see) and all the booking can be canceled at anytime and no credit card is needed when you book with them!  It’s a totally win win situation!  Try them next time you need a car rental.

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