Teo Degas Sunday, 14 September 2014

    647 Beaufort St
    Mt Lawley WA 6050
    Mount Lawley
    Phone (08) 9328 7775

This is an icon of Beaufort Street. It has been in that spot for years, since I moved to Perth and Mount Lawley many years ago.

The shop is small and a bit crowded, but the space has been well taken advantage of, and you can buy most things you would want from a chemist, beyond prescription medication: organic body-care and cosmetics, perfumes, basic emergency kit items, condoms, over the counter basics, spectacles stuff (very convenient for spectacled people :))) cute little thingies that you might be tempted to get but you don't need...

The staff will let you browse around, if you tell them that is what your want, or  give you personalised attention. I have found this to be the case every time I have visited, no matter what I wanted was proper medication, over the counter medication or just hygiene or cosmetic products.

The major downside of the place are the prices, higher than in other chemist around for the same stuff. However, this is a 24/7 and we have to pay for the convenience of having them awake and open when we need them. Amen.

Teo Degas

140 William St
Perth WA 6000
Phone (08) 9226 3929
  Mon - Tues 8:30am-5:30pm
  Wed - Thur 8:30am-10:00pm
  Fri 8:30am-11:00pm
  Sat 9:00am-11:00pm
  Sun 10:30am-5:00pm

 Koko Black Perth on Urbanspoon 

The place is very functional and has a sleek contemporary design and vibe, still being comfortable and accommodating. Almost half of the place is occupied by the chocolate shop, with  display and sale cabinets. The rest is occupied by the café properly speaking and the open preparation area, which is very cool and quite large.

I love their seating area, so well thought and considerate, perfect for solo visitors, couples, families, groups. Whomever! Whatever!

The selection of chocolates and sweets is delightful and delectable.

The Chocolate Dome is absolutely wonderful in taste and presentation and not heavy on your stomach. A great mix of textures and flavours, and so aesthetically pleasant that you feel bad for breaking the visual spell with your spoon. My favourite thing in their menu.

The Alice Lemington is OK, a bit of a let down.

Their individual chocolates taste of what they are suppose to. Don't frown! This happens so rarely nowadays! All the chocolate pieces I have tried have been much of my liking, perhaps my favourite thing has been one of their simplest: the Orange Segment as orange and chocolate are like a perfect couple; use it as your coffee's date.

Their normal coffees are really forgettable, not barista quality. No no no! However, their iced coffees and chocolate are yummy. No surprise, no? Try the chocolate ice chocolate mixed with raspberry and bring your tongue and tonsils to heaven.

Service is fast and attentive, very welcoming and smiley. However, I found odd that during one of my visits I ordered an espresso coffee and the waitress did not know what that was (!)

Pricing is OK, a bit high for the individual pieces of chocolate and iced coffees/chocolates.

I would like their chart of prepared sweets enlarged, and also their normal coffees improved. They would make themselves a favour. Any chocolate needs of a great coffee!

Teo Degas

    703 Hay St
    Enex100 Shopping Mall, Level 3
    Perth WA 6000
    Phone (08) 9485 0055

Delisio Pizza Romano on Urbanspoon 

I love pizza, Italian pizza, pizza that reminds me of what pizza is in Italy. Delisio does so perfectly with their pizza al taglio for takeaway or dine-in.

Wonderful simple pizzas that taste great with a base that is just heavenly crusty, not too thick, not too thin, not heavy on your stomach. You don't need 100 ingredients and sauces to make a pizza good, you need to prepare a pizza well with just the right amount of ingredients. Just an example, the white anchovy pizza, looks like and abstract painting of ingredients, you expect it to be blah, until you bite the first morsel and the flavour start riding your tongue with gusto. Everything I have tasted is good.

They have a mix of really Italian classics sweets (cannellini among them), and some cookies and muffins. The cookies I thought were OK. They prepare their own panna cotta and crème brûlée, as well.

They have a decent coffee (Fiori beans).

The Italian guys attending to the public are just lovely and very charming and welcoming.

This is part of the Enex100 complex, but  they are located in a secluded area beside the windows, a bit at the rear, which makes it a quieter and nicer  if you want to munch and/or talk to your company without disturbance..

Delisio is a reason for go to Enex100  more often.

Teo Degas Wednesday, 10 September 2014

{I get to the last "it" restaurant, usually with kilometre-long cues waiting at the door. No cue today. Is this my lucky day? Plenty of tables available!}

< A table, please.
> Just for you?
< No, my friends are coming.
< How many?
> Three.
<How long it will take?

--> (He thinks I read minds. It makes me feel important.)

< Dunno. Very soon. 

--> (Click click click checking with my friend).

< About 10 minutes.
> Wait in the cue area.

--> (My jaw drops to the floor and bounces back.)

< Can I enter and wait for them inside?
> Wait outside, we don't have a table for three. 

--> (So many empty tables! I am first in an cue with one person, me! A cue of one person is a mathematical enigma).
--> (A couple comes, cues, and the waiter ushers them in before me. A second couple comes, cues, and the waiter ushers them in before me - again! Is this a cue?)

--> (A group of five arrives, and the waiter ushers them in before me. WTF is this cue?)

--> (I'm cueing on my own, again! in an empty cue. To cue or not to cue, I don't have a clue.) 

--> (A human river starts to arrive. They cue behind me. I feel the queen of this cue and we are all cueing together. This is a cue!)  

--> Finally I get my table, and I am allowed out of this WTF cue. 

(WHERE? Papparich Northbridge.)

Teo Degas Thursday, 4 September 2014

{I call the attention of the lovely young waitress}

< Can you bring me an espresso, please?

> Espresso? Uhmmm, what do you mean?

--> (Rolling my eyes anti-clockwise).

< Well, an e-s-p-r-e-s-s-o. A coffee, you know, an espresso coffee.

> Do you mean, that sort of coffee that is like a long black?

---> (Rolling my eyes clockwise. Perhaps I need to clean up my ears?).

< No, you know?, an espresso, just like a concentrated coffee, no milk,  in a small coffee cup.

> Ahhhhhhh, like a shot of coffee in those little tiny winy cups?

< That's right. That is an espresso.

--> (Really.... WTF!)

(WHERE? Kokoblack cafe, Northbridge)

Teo Degas

{I order the pork belly dish. Before ordering I asked about other dishes, the egg dish included. I distinctly heard the waiter saying pork belly after I ordered. The food arrives like 20 minutes later}

> Here are your eggs. 

< I ordered the pork belly.
> Ah really, I thought you had ordered the eggs. 

--> ( I show a lovely knife sharp smile. I think, how on earth the sound of eggs and pork belly can be mixed up?).

< Well, no, I ordered the pork belly. 

--> (We are all humans. I expect a retreat and my pork belly start cooking right now. I am hungry and dangerous or vice versa).

> Do you mind if we change it? 

--> (I am rolling my eyes and breathing out some toxic fumes, fanned out in his direction by my nostrils).

< Well... I ordered the pork belly.

> OK, sorry about that. 

--> (Retreat. Fake smile. He seems to be disappointed in me wanting the dish I ordered. How weird of me! WTF!) 

(WHERE? Lot 20, Northbridge)

Teo Degas

{My turn at the coffee shop is up. First in the line. I order my coffee}

< A skinny flat white just warm, please.
> Not too hot, right? 
< No no, not hot, just waaaaarrrrrmmmmm. 
> OK...  not too hot.

--> (I get my coffee. It is hot. Not too hot means hot enough to be hot, not warm.).

< The coffee is a bit too hot, would you mind adding some cold milk? 

> Oh really? Sooooo sorryyyyy. No problem. 

--> (They add some milk, without stirring. The coffee is still hot, but less hot, still it is hot not warm. I am going to get my tongue burned - again.) 

< Thanks. 

--> (I am just being polite, it is not a thanks full of thanks. Mental note to myself: bring a chapter of Elmo's World in my bag to lend to baristas out there. Hot and Warm lesson. WTF!)

(WHERE? Most Cafés in Perth )

Teo Degas Sunday, 13 July 2014

Vismaya Suvarnabhumi Luxury Resort
98 Moo 15 Soi King Kaew 43,
Bang Phli, Samut Prakan,
10540 Thailand
Phone: 66 (2) 738 49 88

Vismaya Budget Transit Hotel is what the hotel should be called, because this what Vismaya is. You get what you pay and you cannot get luxury for 50 bucks the night, right? Still, the words work magic on you psyche especially if the hotel has flattering images of the rooms and a pool in them. 

This is a very convenient transit hotel, especially good if you just have to spend a few hours sleeping without any wanderings in Bangkok between your flights: the hotel is pleasant, has spacious rooms, a nice pool, bar/restaurant/cafe, free buffet breakfast, free hourly transfer to the airport, free Wi-Fi at awesome prices. All what you need.

If you are going to stay for a few days or for an extra day, you might want go elsewhere, as the location is not good to wander round but in taxi. On the other hand, if you decide to stay, you will find that place relaxing, and you will save a good deal of money you can spend the way you like.

I think the hotel is backpackers friendly, and an upgrade from a normal backpacker place, with many facilities you find in good hotels minus the price.    

 My "deluxe" room was very spacious and luminous, facing the pool, with lots of storage room, flat TV, with a very comfortable firm bed. There was a long benched table, an armchair and a desk chair. The bathroom was spotless clean and shiny with separate bathtub and shower. However, both areas were Spartan regarding everything else, bare concrete floors, run out furniture and appliances in need of an overhaul.

The staff were polite but a bit abrupt at times. This is due, mostly, to their poor English and difficulty at communicating properly. Lost in translation has a meaning here. I found that the ladies at reception softened with Thai greetings and thankyouses, and relaxed enough to be smiley and way friendlier. 

+ The hotel offers an hourly free shuttle to/from the airport. The transfer trakes about 10 minutes if the traffic is good.
+ Free Wifi all around the hotel, both in the rooms and lobby. Mine was fast and reliable, and it is remarkable in such a cheap hotel.
+ ATM in the premises.

+ Storage room for your luggage if you want to go to the city after check out.
+ Buffet breakfast is included.
+ The Lobby is an open space used as lobby, cafe, restaurant and bar. During the day is very luminous and relaxes, but it lives up once the night lights and music are on. They have a decent selection of Western and Thai favourites, and of soft and alcoholic drinks, at medium prices.
> Muggy room despite the air-con. You need the air-con to run for a while to get it right. The room was really hot and muggy when I arrived. The hotel gives guests one key card that is used both to open the door and operate the electric system; if you go out for a while, the room will be left without air-con and will be muggy at your return. It would cost little giving guests two key cards, especially to those staying more than a few hours overnight. 
> Air-con is noisy.
> The bedside tables were at floor level, way below the bed, so they were of no use! 
> Slow drainage in the shower. 
> Minimal toiletries.
>There are tons of TV channels to choose from. Most of them in Thai. Only Channel 896 *You2Play" had some music in English. This is a transit hotel full of Westerners, why not including a few channels at least in English?
The buffet breakfast was varied but a bit tasteless. There was a mix of cooked Asian and Western favourites, fruit and salad plates, plus coffee, tea, juice, fresh fruit, cereals, etc. I thought that the cold part of the breakfast should be covered as flies were binging on the fruit. It does not cost much placing the cold food in covered containers. 
> Several cabs at the door. They are not metered so you will paying about double than you would with a metered one. However, they are affordable for most Western main currencies, and they come handy to go to the city. The pricing chart for the main destinations is clearly visible and written in English at the reception desk.

> Minimal decoration. The paintings in my room were three empty frames, framing the crack on the wall (see photo). It made me smile, though. 
> The towels are old and ratty (see the photo).

> Repairs badly done in the bathtub base (see photos). 
> Check out was not extended for a late departure despite me checking at 5 pm the previous day. 
> Staff at the bar/cafe were polite but totally disinterested in attending to customers. I tried to get their attention 3 times, by hand gestures and "excuse me" without success and I had to get up and approach the bar to get my bill.
> The notepad had not been refilled, just one leaf left. No pen. 

> There are geckos everywhere, especially the corridors, in the evening and night. One of them welcomed me in my room (see photo). They eat insects and, in a way, they are a natural insecticide, but 1/ they are very noisy 2/ they move fast, 3/ they come out at night, 4/ you want to go to sleep without having to worry about closing your bags or your eyes.  I like geckos, but no hotel should have them around, especially in the rooms. Otherwise, market them as a charming environmental insecticide, tell customers that they aren't dangerous, so visitors are prepared.   

> The surroundings of the hotel are not inviting to have a walk. 
> The place is located away from the main road, in a lateral side street, not easy to find by taxi, unless you are familiar with the area and you can direct the driver or they have the hotel card in Thai.

Teo Degas

Corner of Wale St & Burg St,
Cape Town Central 8000
Phone:021 481 4000

Located in the very heart of the city, in front of the cathedral, by the local gardens, the always busy St George Mall, and many of the must-see sights of the city, the Three Cities Rhodes was a home away from home during my stay in Cape Town.

My apartment on the 7th floor was very quiet, huge! very luminous during the day with views of Table Mountain, with classy decoration, and very comfortable. It has a full kitchen, Vaddaboom!, with fridge, washing machine, dryer, stove, microwave and a basic set of cooking tools, crockery, cutlery and glasses and cups. The living area, despite being conjoined with the kitchen, was huge, with two couches, a big dining table, flat screen TV+DVD, three mini coffee tables with magazines, and what is not. The bedroom had a full closet (yes, a full separated closet!) with a big sized safe, plus several drawers and side tables in the room. The bathroom had separated shower and bathtub, a small selection of good quality toiletries and a hair drier.  

Some of the heating buttons on the wall warm up the floor underneath the carpet and it is just wonderful walking barefoot! Not enough? All the apartment had plenty of power points, so recharging or plugging many gadgets at the same time was not a problem at all.

The apartment was spotless clean and fully serviced every day.  

All the staff were very helpful, welcoming and lovely, especially the ones at reception. My especial thanks to Moses, who dealt with many of my queries and issues and did always so with attentiveness and professionalism. 

++ Great gym, with plenty of machinery. It is not huge, but it has a great selection of cardio and lifting machines.
++ Great pool area
++ Great view of Table Mountain from the upper floors and the aviary. 
++ ATM in the premises
++ An office of Cape Town Tourism in the building, in front of reception. Most tour companies pick up and drop off this hotel.
++ Long opening hours good-quality South-African-made gift shop in the building with attentive staff.
++ Intelligent safe access to the lifts and floors.
++ Three different exits to the street.
++ Several supermarkets around, one of then in front of the hotel. The one opening till late is the Pick & Pay located at about 10 minutes walking distance from the hotel.  
++ Two cafes in the building. I just visited Motherland for some proper caffeine fix. The staff were great, the coffee OK, the price ridiculous. Five bucks for a medium takeaway pained me to the core on the second visit and I stopped visiting.
++ An in-house Spa, called Wellness Club Spa. The Spa has fabulous premises, a glamorous reception, a very welcoming and lovely lady owner, and great staff. They open long hours, are very accommodating about anything, and accept cash, credit or in-room bill. I had one of the best remedial massage ever by a Chinese experience masseur, and a lovely Thalgo facial by a local therapist. The body scrub was sub par, though. I loved their steam room (perfect temperature!) and rest rooms.

# The air-con and ventilation system were very noisy, especially the latter in the bathrooms, which keep going on non-stop.
# Free Wi-Fi limited to 100 MB per day (enough for emailing and browsing, not much else). If you want faster and bigger you have to pay for it.

-- I tried to make some phone calls from my room. The line was engaged all the time, probably because I forgot to introduce some of the local prefixes. Upon checking out, I was told that I had to pay 12 Rands because it showed that somebody had replied, perhaps a voice mail service. Nothing of that happened. The sum is very small, but paying for not speaking is never good. The guy at reception was lovely and sorted out things for me, so I did not have to pay anything.
-- My last hours at the hotel were quite upsetting. Checking out time is 11am. At 9am the lady at the tour desk called to tell me to be at the lobby at 10.45 to get my transfer to the airport ( I found it odd, as I had arranged things the previous day) A few minutes later, one of the ladies working at housekeeping tried to open the door; when I opened from inside, she apologised and said that she thought I have left... it was not 11am and I had not checked out, how on earth did she come with that idea? Ten minutes later a couple of guys rang the bell asking to enter the apartment to fix whatever; I told them NO, to come after I vacate the room. Ten minutes later, again!, a cleaner rang the bell and asked me when to come to do the apartment. I felt that they were trying to speed up my departure. This sort of behaviour is unprofessional and unacceptable in a four star hotel, as this is not a charity shelter. I don't want to feel pushed out of my room, one I paid, because housekeeping wants to hurry up. As they pushed me, I did stay until I needed it. :)

>> Provide customers with disposable sleepers and wardrobe. This is a four-star hotel and one expects these things to be there. 
>> I would have a scourer and better quality dish-washing liquid in the kitchen.
>> I would add a lamp in the living room area, as the light is dim in the evenings and not good for people with poor sight.
>> I would live up the decoration of the apartment, which is a bit outdated regarding style, by adding some splash of colour on the bedroom and living room.  
>> I would make sure that I have adaptors for Australian guests. This is a problem throughout Southern Africa, as many of the Universal adaptors would fit the two-pin Australian plugs, but not the three-pin ones, which are standard in Australia.
>> I would provide a return shuttle to the Waterfront. At the moment is just one way, and guests have to return by taxi. It would be great if the hotel had its own van, at scheduled times, even if they charged a few Rands per head. 
>> I would place the safe mid level in the shelves not in on the floor one! It is just annoying and not practical! The batteries that run the program had to be changed and the guy who did the job had it not easy.
>> I would give strict instructions to housekeeping not to disturb customers until they check out and reception has the keys of the apartment-room.  

There is an ample cabinet behind the toilet mirrors.

This is a great hotel, in the heart of the city, with many services and facilities for customers. One of the few hotels that I can say that you get value for money!

Teo Degas Monday, 7 July 2014

Protea Hotel Livingstone
Plot 2110, Mosi-O-Tunya Road
PO Box 60286
Phone: +260 213 324 630

The hotel is located in a quiet safe area, in the outskirts of the city, at about 20 minutes walking distance from the Museum. Nobody will annoy you while waking around, actually people will be very friendly to you if you just smile.

The common areas are just beautiful with a colonial style and plenty of water ponds and fountains, great furniture and paintings, which contrasts with the dryness of the hotel surroundings. The pool is small but lovely, next to the restaurant, which also operates as a bar.

My room had classic colonial style, and it was lovely, comfortable, very spacious with a huge bathroom and wall mirror, and a basic selection of good quality toiletries (citronella repellent moisturiser included). Both the room and the toilet were super-clean and there was an electric anti-repellent in the room. The room had a flat screen TV with a varied selection of channels, 3 movies channels, BBC, Aljazeera and National Geographic, among others.

The restaurant was open long hours and offer a varied selection of Zambian and international dishes. The restaurant is a bit pricey for Zambia standards, but it is very pleasant, stylish, and offers small buffet dinners and lunches at 150 Kwatcha (about 24$ Au). I had the breakfast included in the price of my room, and it was also buffet style with plenty of sweet and savoury, hot and cold options, and also Zambian and International dishes. Request your breakfast pack if you have to leave the room before the restaurant opens (7am) and collect it from reception; this pack includes just cold stuff.

This was my first visit to Zambia and the staff made my visit really enjoyable and unforgettable, and most of them were very polite, friendly and attentive. Some of them were extremely helpful and went out of their way to help me in anything I requested.

+ The hotel has one of the best complimentary high speed wifi I have found in my African trips!
+ Most tour operators drop buy and pick up from the hotel, so it is very convenient to visit Victoria Falls. 
+ Wakeup call available and they called on the clock.
+ There is a small gift and tour shop at the lobby.
+ Huge selection of food and drinks at the restaurant and bar. 

== The towels racks in the toilet were too high for me!
== The storage room for storage was limited despite the room being quite large.
== There was no bathrobe or sleepers, no pen or pencil in my room.
== The hotel has no room service.
== All the power points in my room were used, so one needs to unplug things (fridge, TV, or lamp) to plug anything else.
==  I was told twice that I could not get an international adaptor valid for my Australian plug. The excuse, "we have it for African plugs" is a bit lame, Livingstone is a place massively visited by non-African tourists. It was my persistence in asking for a solution and the kindness of one of the guys at the hotel that provided me with an international switchboard to recharge my laptop. I have been in very remote countries in the world, way more remote than Zambia, and they had International adaptors and no excuses.
== The lunch and dinner buffet were pricey (about 24$ Au) and the beef used in the dishes was really poor quality, with plenty of bones and tendons, not much meat in it.
== The only fitness centre I saw on my floor was a lonely cross-trainer/bicycle placed in a corridor..  
== The Breakfast pack I got one of the days was poor, not even a hard boiled egg in it.
==  In general, I found the hotel pricey for the services you get.

-- I would try to enlarge the number of power points in the rooms. We all travel with gadgets, and recharging three gadgets having just a power point is never convenient.
-- There is a NEED to have universal electricity adaptors available at reception for International visitors.
-- I would provide customers with pen/pencil, disposable sleepers and a bathrobe, after all this is supposed to be a posh-ish hotel and you charge customers as such.
-- I would place an extra towel rack in the bathroom for "shorties" like me. Otherwise, a small stool in the bathroom would do the job.
-- I would open the restaurant for breakfast at 6am instead of 7am, and  I would include a boiled egg or some sort of protein in the breakfast takeaway packs.
-- I would change the beef provider and get some good quality beef.  
-- I would provide a complimentary shuttle to the city centre.

> Insects will visit you in your room. Plug your electric anti-repellent (blue flat repellent bar is provided by the hotel, so you just introduce it in the little plug and switch on the power).

+ If you want to bring down your food costs, you have several food joints at a walking distance. Otherwise, you can walk about 12 minutes and go to the Mosi-ao-Tunya Gateway Shopping Mall, on the way to the Museum, where there are several cafes and fast food places.
+ The same shopping mall has two banks, one of which accepts international Visa cards. Mind the timing, because it seems that the ATM is not functional until the bank offices close (that was my case, anyway). There is another small shopping mall and a petrol station on the left hand side of the hotel, at about 4 minutes walking distance, with a few shops and a Barkley's Bank ATM there, but, like in other cases, it was not working when I visited.
+ Get some Kachwa (Zambia's currency) on arrival and you will save money. Otherwise, you will be (over)paying in USA Dollars, especially if the American Dollar is not your currency. 

Teo Degas

Batoka Sky
Livingstone, Zambia
+ (260) (3) 320 058

I had a 15 minutes micro-light flight early in the morning with these guys and I had a ball - truly, an unforgettable experience.

The company is very well organised. They pick you up and drop off from your hotel and take you to the aerodrome. You can pay at their office there if you haven't booked online, and cue for your turn to ride the micro-light. There is an outside seating area, really lovely, facing the take off area. Before getting on the flight, you are provided with a padded overall to protect you from the cold up there, and a helmet once you board the machine. You have to remove any scarf and should not wear loose shoes. 

The young hot sweet pilot who took me to the sky was great. The take off and landing were extremely smooth, nothing compared to any other flying adventure activity I have done. No bumps, no noise. Just posing the machine lightly on the ground as a bird would do. 

The flight itself was amazing. Seeing Victoria Falls is a experience difficult to forget, but doing so from a medium distance and above them, up in the air, is just awesome. One enjoys the splendour of the Zambezi River and the Falls themselves, and the canyons that the Zambezi created after the Falls, which are equally spectacular. Not only that, you can easily spot hippos, elephants and other big animals on the river shore or just inside it. The pilot will give you a tour around and across the falls, an point to you anything noticeable. 

I love this sort of flights. If you have height freight, this might make your guts churn a bit, but it is really worth the churning!

Bad news - you cannot take your camera with you. Good news - your flight is photographically recorded, and you can purchase the photos after the flight, for about 20$. You are provided with a set of photos in two folders. One contains photos of the Low and High Falls, and the other photos of you, awesome traveller, being photographed up there. To be honest, not taking your camera allows you to enjoy the flight to the fullest, so it is a great idea. The photos in this entry provide all from the CD I got.

I think the 15-minute flight is enough to see Victoria Falls in winter. Things change in summer and the Zimbabwean side of the Falls has more water, so you might like extending your flight 15 minutes more and crossing to the other side, or just going to Zimbabwe and do the flight there. Still, there is a huge difference in price.

The offices are also a shop, and they sell cool souvenirs and postcards. The buildings at the aerodrome are beautiful, made in traditional architecture style.

All the staff were lovely and very helpful.

> Book this activity as part of a pack including other activities (like the sunset Zambezi cruise and the tour of the Falls) and you will save tons of money.
> If you are doing the activity in the Zambian winter in the morning, take warm clothes with you, as the wait can be long and it is freezing cold there.
Amazingly enough, the weather was warmer in the air than in the ground, where we were all freezing.

Teo Degas

Calle Veronica de la Virgen, 1
18005 Granada
+34 958 536 811

I had a terrible experience with these guys. To be fair, the guys at the office were lovely, but the service and information was not.

Due to my long trip, I had to post a big box with clothes from Perth to my parents, as I was travelling with little luggage due do the requirements of the trips before and after.

As I was not heading home directly, I thought that it would be better using a courier. I saw the UPS sign at the door of this franchised office, and a few days after my arrival I went in to ask for info.

I talked to the manager directly, and I told him about sending the parcel back to Australia, the contents being mostly clothes and personal items that I could not fit in my luggage, and I asked for a quote, timing, packing requirements, if they were working with Australia, etc. The guy told me that no problem, yes, they work with Australia, yes, they could pick up the parcel from my parents in case of need, yes I could delay the delivery until I was  back in Perth and so forth. I left with his card and a quote at the back.

That very day, I checked the company's website. There, it is clearly stated that you can send your suitcase, if you want or need, around the world. The website looks serious and professional.

To make sure that I was right re the packaging, I visited this office for a second time. I spoke to another guy, who made the same questions as the manager did, and with whom I discussed the packaging of my parcel/s.

The day before my departure, I took a taxi to carry the two parcels myself, as one of them was +10 Kgs. I arrived there, and as soon as I said Australia, the manager told me that unless the contents were new with the shop sale's target attached, I could not send the parcel to Australia due to the Australian Customs requirements and limitations. I told him that I do live in Australia, that I have sent things back and forth many times and that there is no problem unless you pack some illegal items or products in the no list. I told him about their website. He said that this for the rest of the world, not for Australia. He told me that I should have asked him in advance. I told him that yes, I DID CHECK WITH HIM SPECIFICALLY, IN ADVANCE and that he had said yes to everything, he was arrogant enough to say that he did not remember the conversation. Unfortunately, I do. I had to take another taxi to my parents' and leave the parcel with one of my brothers so he could post it to my place.

I cannot forget the trouble and money of taking my parcel back and forth to my parents, mostly because this was my third visit to the office, and I had clearly mentioned everything during my first visit, The apology the manager gave me was so lame and unapologetic that I have decided to post this review.

Teo Degas Sunday, 6 July 2014

Best Western Premier Amaranth
Suvarnabhumi Airport
68 Moo 2 Kingkaew Road,
Bang Phli, Samut Prakan,
10540 Thailand
Phone: 66 (23) 159393

I stayed a couple of days at the Best Western Amaranth to have a rest between my busy flying schedule, and I am was happy with its convenient location, great facilities, good price and great service. The hotel is located in a quiet area, with not much happening around beyond the traffic, a fact that turns it into an oasis of peace in the middle of the always busy Bangkok.

The hotel is located at about 10-15 minutes drive from the airport. It is very spacious, with a shiny uber-clean lobby and common toilets, a restaurant, a spa, and a pool with bar included. There are separate premises for conferences and business meetings, as well. The common gardened areas are beautiful, with lovely ponds full of water lilies and the Amaranth dragon sculptures. The hotel is by a big road, and there isn't much to see around. However, this is a transit hotel and if you are coming on holidays, you would probably want to go elsewhere. However, the concierge and tour desk have a nice selection of day and half day tours around Bangkok.

My room was huge, with a wonderfully firm King Size bed, work and rest areas, plenty of storage room and natural light, a decently sized flat screen with plenty of local and international channels, coffee/tea making facilities, and an alarm clock. The toilet was rather average regarding size and facilities, but spotless clean, and with a complete set of toiletries, as it used to be before hotels decided that the less is more. For most travellers, the more toiletries the better, and the Amaranth understands that, so you can fin anything you might need, from a toothbrush to a mini-sewing kit.

All the staff at the hotel are just wonderful. My special thanks to the people at the reception desk, shuttle transfer van and to the Spa ladies, who are the quintessence of what Thai people are: serviceable, chilled out, kind, competent and smiley.

The restaurant has a huge selection of classic favourites of the European, Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines, the last being my favourite while in Thailand (and good in this hotel). Buffet breakfast, included in my room price, was varied and satisfying with plenty of cold and hot, sweet and savoury options, but a bit bland in taste. They have also a huge selection of International wines, mocktails (I loved the ginger one) and smoothies. Prices are high according to Thai standards or high for what you pay in the city eateries and posh restaurants for better food, but it comes handy if you are staying just for a few days or in transit.  

The pool area is located at the back of the hotel, behind the gym area, and it is wonderfully relaxing, very clean and good looking, with plenty of lying seats, and a small bar-cafe attached to it.

The in-hotel spa Amaspa is just awesome. Despite its small size, the place is wonderfully stylish and relaxing, with Thai classy style decor and a very attentive staff. You are welcomed in the place with a bell flower cold tea (a stunning herbal tea that I would have bought if it had been for sale) and farewelled with a hot tea; their tea pottery is gorgeous. The pots they use, the flowers, the mini-pond, the lighting, everything is soothing and beautiful. But it not just the looks. Amaspa delivers. Thai massage therapists are among my favourite in the world because of their technique and ability to read your body and fulminate your pains and aches with their tiny hands and broad smile. The masseuses here apply a medium-strong pressure, which I found extremely hard, as they are stronger than any of my physiotherapist or remedial masseuses in Australia! You better tell them in advance which sort of pressure you want. I had the Ama Sampler package done, and it is just fabulous regarding the quality of the products they use, the mastery of the therapists, and the state of your skin when you leave Amaspa's premises. The foot massage was also amazing. Prices are not cheap, but nothing comparable to what we would pay in Australia for such a quality package.

  •  Free shuttle to the airport running every half an hour and, in the wee hours of the night, every hour. If you have breakfast prepaid and are departing before the restaurant opens, you will be provided with a breakfast pack, one of the best I have had to take away in my last travels! 
  • 24/7 Room Service.
  • Two bottles of complimentary drinking water per day.
  • Free Wi-Fi. User name and password are provided when you check in.
  • Complimentary non-alcoholic drink at the bar. 
  • There is a 7eleven supermarket at five minutes walking distance. They sell a bit of everything (from packed meals to batteries, snacks, toiletries, etc.), it is extremely clean, well organised and has wonderful staff. If you bother to say anything in Thai, they will display their best smile.
  • Several street eateries are located at a few minutes from the hotel, too, the nicest one by the 7eleven.  

> The room was a bit run down, with one of the power boards a bit detached from the wall and with not enough power to feed my computer, but OK for my tablet.
> There were just two power points in the whole room, and one of them wasn't in good condition, with those sparks that you get when you plug something to a defective socket.
> Tap water in the room is NOT drinkable. You won't notice or know unless you ask the staff or read the hotel booklet in the room. It might be too late by then.
> The body wash smelled of laundry soap!
>  The air-conditioning was very noisy.
> The walls aren't that thick, so you can listen to your next-door neighbour's conversation easily. 

# I would revamp a bit the rooms furniture.
# I would include channels in French, Italian and Spanish and Thailand receives plenty of tourists from these three countries. 
# I would provide a few more sachets of coffee and creamer. The cleaning ladies gave me a few spare ones when I requested  them, but it is just natural to expect a person staying more than six hours to have more than two coffees, no?
# I would add a box of tissues in the main room area.
# A must. If the tap water is not drinkable, a sign should be placed in the toilet saying so.
# I would show the pricing of the spa treatments in net prices, taxes included.
# I would revamp the restaurant, making the breakfast area and the night dinning areas clearly distinct in decoration and settings. At the moment, everything is one space, too dark until the artificial lighting is on.

-- There are plenty of mosquitoes around, especially around the pool in the late hours of the day, but also in most outside areas and some of the common areas as well. These mosquitoes like you, guaranteed.  The staff work hard to get rid of them in the indoor areas with some super-duper electric racquets, but they are still around everywhere outside the air-conditioned indoor areas, especially around the pond and pool. 
-- Prices showed in the spa brochure do not include taxes, and 500 bath were added to my final bill.

Good hotel, close to the airport, with lots of features or guests, and with great staff. This not a flashy posh place, but very welcoming and comfortable, decently priced and with great service. 

Teo Degas

Head photo courtesy of Bankok.com 

39 Moo 6 Bangna-Trad Rd. Km.8
Bangkaew, Bangplee,

Bangkok 10540, 

Phone: 2-105-1000
Facebook (mostly in Thai)

I spent one of my transit days in Bangkok at this shopping mall after a lady at reception in my hotel told me that, "if you like shopping, you have to go there".

The shopping mall is massive, and you will need a big amount of time to visit all the shops you are interested in advance, and those that will captivate your attention. Despite the size, the mall does not feel overwhelmingly big or unmanageable.The place is very spacious, trendy, luminous, with ample corridors, fancy toilets, shiny and squeaky clean. It has harmony and style, and mix of fashion, home and, electronics, electric and health shops, stunning jewellers and jewel stands, gym, cinema, Ikea and what is not. 

That day, I had a simple plan, that turned out better than expected:
1/ Finding a Thai place to eat. To my surprise there is a Food Walk, like a outdoors food hall around the building, with a considerable number of restaurants with different world cuisines. I did choose an authentic Thai restaurant, though, very cheap and yummy, and I was enchanted by the conversation of the lady owner, the yummy dishes that the chef cooked for me, and the pop arty cool decoration on the walls. 

2/ Visiting some of my medium priced favourite brands to check my fav  products, like Yves Rocher, Body Shop, Zara, New, Mango, and places of that sort. These and many more were all there.
3/ Checking out the shops in general. I was gladly surprised at finding a mix of medium brands and very posh ones, designer shops included, elegantly blended together without a sense of mismatch.
3/ Looking for a beauty salon and a massage salon. I was gladly surprised at finding an humongous number (I mean, many...) of beauty salons, some of them very exclusive, offering treatments that were affordable for foreigners but very posh, as they use the latest technologies and the poshest of the poshest of products. The parlours of some of them were fabulous. There were also several hair and nail salons, and several Thai massage places. I had a great experience at the place I visited for manicure-pedicure, and at the massage place where I had my foot massage done.

Everyone I found in the shopping mall and I asked for help (directions, prices, or whatever) was mega-lovely! Really, they treated me  like a queen
(despite me wearing unflattering backpacker clothing), with the kindness and class that Thai people are known for.

There is a taxi stop (metered taxis, thank Gosh!) at one of the exits of the building, which comes handy to return to your hotel or to the airport. Most of them do not speak English or just several words, so have your hotel card at hand - in Thai!

The Free Shuttle Bus from the BTS Sky train Udomsuk station stops at one of the sides of the mall, and you can get from/to the airport from here, easily at a fraction of the price you will pay if you take a taxi. The shuttle passes by many hotels in the area, so check at your hotel if you can benefit from it.

The day flew by fast and I had to leave in a hurry because I was late for my airport transfer. My only regret at leaving the shopping mall was not having gone there earlier in the day, and not having an extra day to continue my bangnaning! I take note. Next time I visit Bangkok, I will expend a bit of time at this shopping mall, this is a promise I make to myself, as I have visited the city and Thailand several times and I'm done with sightseeing. 

Most recommended, especially if you are lady.