Dream Hotels: Maldives

This group of islands is famous for its stunning beaches and incredible hotels. Though it is a ridiculous hassle to get anywhere near these destinations I think its worth it merely to see the accomadations. The one downside of these hotels is that if you don’t like villas with beautiful views of the ocean on stilts in the crystal clear water you are sorrowfully out of luck, but since most people do like these things feast your eyes!

My favorite out of all the choices is Soneva Gili. Though it is the most expensive it might just warrant the cost. Words will not do this resort justice, it looks like something from a story book, like something that could never actually exist. And the best part is that it is only 20 min. boat ride from the main airport.

Photo Credit: Soneva Gili

My next pick is the place where relaxation is perfected. Cocoa Island is an island which you can walk from tip to tip in under 15 minutes. All there is is the hotel and absolutely nothing else. There are no cities, towns, nothing, it is simply an island that houses a lovely resort. This is the perfect excuse to do absolutely nothing for however long you like, but if you aren’t yet ready to undertake such a challenge I would recommend a different place to stay.

Photo Credit: Cocoa IslandPhoto Credit: Cocoa Island

Finally, my last pick is the Anantara. This hotel is much more warm and playful than the previous ones. This resort is just as beautiful as the others and just as luxurious, but it gives off a more homey feel, when most of these hotels seem something more like Robinson Crusoe, just being alone, this one seems cheerier. By far the most family-friendly. Note: Right now Jetsetter is having a 4 day flash sale on the property.

Photo Credit: Anantara

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An Inca-credbile Adventure: Introduction

Over this winter break, my family and I went on a trip to Peru. After a short layover we went to our first stop, Iquitos. There we went on a ship called M/V Aqua, and sailed on the Amazon for three nights. After we continued to the Sacred Valley, and then on to Machu Picchu. We then went on the famous Hiram Bingham train to Cuzco for one night. The next day we started our journey to Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. We ended in Paracas, a couple hours south of Lima. As you will soon see it was an exciting 15 days….

Note: Sorry for the lack of posts over past week. We didn’t want to get distracted from our midterm studying.

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Travel Horror Story: Horse Play

This is by far my best horror story of all of my travels. This takes place about two years ago in Punta del Este, Uruguay. My father, brother and I were out riding horses around the area of Cantegril Golf Course, seeing as cars rarely pass by the small streets we decided to have a little race down the road. Luckily, (or maybe not), for my dad he had the fastest horse and pulled away pretty quickly, I was in the back by a couple of feet. As I am rounding some trees at an intersection I come around just in time to see a car smash into the horse, flipping it over, and sending my dad clear to the other side of the street. As I get down to help I discover that my dad is totally fine, the horse is just trotting around as if it had just gotten off a city bus and the car driver exclaims “I can’t believe this happened again!!”, this man had crashed into horses three times in one month, and each time in somebody else’s car. My father offers to pay for the damage if it will make the guy feel any better and the man seems very grateful. The horse people seemed to not have many problems with the ordeal so everybody involved agreed to let this little accident be water under the bridge. Later that week the man, from now on referred to as Bruno came over to our house with a little bandage on his finger to as for medical expenses, and honestly I’m not sure how that played out, but again, it seemed that everybody was happy with the days events. Now we get to the interesting part, my mother was sick and stayed at home while my father, brother and I went to see a movie at midnight. The minute the movie starts my mother calls saying that Bruno and some friends have come to the house with a cast on his arm and are clapping and screaming trying to cause mischief, as my mom runs down the stairs to scream at them the alarm rings and the cops and the security firm are called onto the scene. After a couple hours of classic third-world shenanigans like the police flashlights all running out of battery and about half of the police force having to pass around one pair of reading glasses the whole thing was dealt with, and we haven’t heard back from Bruno since.

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SE Asia Trip Report: The Final Chapter

Now we are onto the last leg of our journey, a four day stop in Singapore. This would be my second time in Singapore, but the first for my friends. We stayed at the Sentosa which is on the resort island of Sentosa. This is one of my favorite parts of Singapore, there is an island with tons of activities, an amusement park, beaches, and spas just a couple minutes outside of the city. You can take a cab or a bus/train combination to get to Singapore City and back. If you take a taxi you will have to go through a toll booth, but if you have a purple card showing that you are staying on the island, (which they will give you t the hotel), it is free. To the places I have been so far in my life Singapore is the place where I would most like to live. I am not sure how locals like it but i think it is pretty much perfect, the weather is great, there are beautiful parks, ethnic neighborhoods, you are right in the center of one of the most interesting areas in the world (in my opinion), the infrastructure is the best of any city, and of course, the big one, FOOD! Singapore is famous for all things culinary, you can eat anywhere and anything. There are super fancy European Restaurants and there are little places off the side of the road selling Indian treats, yet my favorite of all of the selection is the hawker center. All over Singapore there are massive food courts serving all types of different foods, these aren’t like food courts in malls where you can get Pizza Hut or McDonalds, this is very good fresh food that is also cheap. You can get fresh juices, Chinese, Malay, Southern Indian, and much more. Just a tip: no two hawker centers are alike, some a totally empty and some are jam packed, some smell like pee and some don’t, if for whatever reason you have a bad experience at one, then try another. While we were in Singapore we did a lot, we went to the Night Safari (fun thing to do at night if you don’t mind going out of town a ways), explored the city and went to the various malls, when I say that there is a lot of shopping in Singapore imagine all the stores on 5th Avenue or the Champs-Elysees, now pretend that all those stores are actually giant malls. Singapore is somewhere that some people hate, (I have no idea why), and some people love, I would suggest finding out how you like it soon!

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Travel Horror Stories: When they find a pothole on the runway

It was Presidents Weekend 2011 and we were wrapping up a great getaway to Turks and Caicos. This was also Jetblue’s first weekend of service to the island’s airport, located in Providenciales. The flight home started off perfectly. There was a short check in line, the people in front of us were a young, couple (more on that later). Security was easy, no TSA yelling at a six year old for forgetting to take his Pokeman watch off. We started boarding and everything was good to go, or so we thought. Apparently the couple in front of us at check in was missing. After a couple announcements asking Mr and Mrs (lets call them Smith) to please see a flight attendant. Finally after 20 minutes, Mr. and Mrs. Smith were seen running out of the main terminal and of course they were seated next to my Dad. While all of this was happening, a private plane landed in such a way causing a pothole to be put into the sole runway at the airport, causing it to close. If the couple had been on the plane, we would have been able to take off before the small jet caused hundreds to be stranded at the tiny little airport. We went back inside the terminal and waited for more information. Of course the couple that caused all of this were the first ones at the JetBlue desk to complain and try to get their money back. They did. This became a day when you can really compare the difference in customer service between JetBlue and airlines such as US Airways. Jetblue was the first in the airport to make an announcement, “We will refund all those who would like their money back and put you on tomorrow’s flight. We won’t know how long it will take to fix the runway for another hour, when the airport will update us. US Airways basically said this isn’t our fault so we wont refund you. Their flight was canceled in an hour. At the hour mark, the only update the airport gave was that it was going to take another hour to tell us what was going to happen. JetBlue was urging everybody to stay in the airport area incase anything changed so we could take off as soon as the airport opened. We would of asked to be put on the flight the next day, but that would mean missing an additional day of school, something I had already done the Friday before this. Every hour we were given updates that really didn’t tell us anything. Both Delta and US Airways had canceled all their flights and American canceled a few of theirs and delayed the one to New York. At around six pm we were eating a dinner in the airport restaurant and watching the local news (which was cool because we saw the reporter right outside the window) when they made an announcement claiming they would open the runway at 8. Everyone was super excited. There was only one issue. We had to take off before 8:15 or they wouldn’t let our pilots fly because their hours would be up. So at 7:30 they called everyone to gate and we were able to board quickly. At around 8:05 we departed from the gate and taxied to the runway. We stayed their, waiting for the final repair trucks to drive away. 8:12, 8:13, 8:14. Now we were just waiting for the control tower to clear us for take off. 8:15 we started to go down the runway, but we turned off and went back to the gate. We never go clearance. This was when we were really like, “What are we going to do now?” The great ground staff for JetBlue at PLS were making calls to the operation center. After an hour of waiting they said they are sending a plane down for us. A fully different plane and a fully different crew. It was now like 9:30 and we were waiting to hear when the plane would get here. “It still hasn’t taken off yet from FLL”. One of the JetBlue agents, who was works at FLL but was helping set up PLS operations was emailing with his friend at operations. Finally just after 10 we got word that it took off and was on its way. Note: The only other flight that took off was the American flight, which took off at 9. Finally at 11, the plane landed, and we did the quickest boarding I have ever seen. We were able to take of and because so many people moved to the next flight, I got an entire row ;)! It was an uneventful rest of the trip, until we got to New York, where the Customer Service agent got on the plane and announced that we would all get refunded plus get a heavy compensation. To book our flight we used Merrill Lynch Total Rewards. They not only refunded our points, but they gave us each $800 vouchers to be used on JetBlue flights.

I would like to thank all off the JetBlue staff who worked super hard that day. They didn’t take a single break from 10 or 11 when check in started, until 11:30 when we finally took off. I applaud JetBlue, because they were able to make the best of an awful situation, and not give up. Thank you JetBlue!

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Singapore Airlines A380 Launches out of JFK

Jealous.

Today marks the first day of the A380 (it used to be a 747) flight from JFK to Frankfurt to Singapore. I want to be on it. Unfortunately I am not, but a few people on the web are. Johnny Jet and Jaunted. The photos they posted don’t help. At least we don’t have to hear from them until early tomorrow morning when they land in Frankfurt.

Update: When I landed at JFK today and I saw the beast I freaked out. Not only was it in front of my eyes, it was next to an Emirates A380!

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SE Asia Trip Report Part 3

Myanmar/Burma

Our first stop here was Yangon. Yangon is a very strange city, with blasted out colonial mansions, and the jade market (which is the Burmese equivalent to an ATM), to the stunning gold Shwedagon Pagoda and the 1940’s style airport. This is a cool city to see, but I am not sure how much time you really need to spend there. I think that 2 days would be more than enough.

Out next destination was Bagan. Towards the center of Burma there is one destination that nobody should miss, Bagan. With peanut fields and palm groves all over the plain your breath will be taken away by the beauty of the sight. I can say with a good amount of certainty that this is one of the most visually appealing places and most interesting places I have ever been. We spent about 3 days in Bagan and about a half day in Yangon. In Yangon we saw Shwedagon Pagoda, saw a giant Buddha (can’t remember the name), and had lunch. When we were in Bagan we actually travelled around a lot though, we went to New Bagan, Salay, Mount Popa, and many other towns in the area. One very curious thing that I think that you would never learn unless you actually go to Burma is that the country is filled with  golf pro shops. Since all the generals spend their days playing golf people decided it is good business to just cater to them and anybody else that can afford to play. This was one of the travel highlights of my life and if you ever have a chance to visit I would highly recommend it!

 

P.S. I would just like to have it known that we went to Burma before all of these political changes. In fact, the day we left “The Lady” arrived in Bagan.

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