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About UKBayern

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Bristol UK (prev. Bavaria)
  • Interests
    hiking, cooking, ballroom dancing, extensive DIY travelling around the globe.
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    every nice place the boat goes to!
  1. UKBayern

    JR train passes for Japan

    If you take one or two train trips out of Tokyo, and use the Narita Express, you already have your moneys worth. Train travel in Japan can be really expensive. You should always go on the Hyperdia website and price your trips. Some trains in Japan are now all reserved seats, so the tactic of not reserving seats does not fly in all cases.
  2. UKBayern

    Tokyo Hotel in October 2018 after cruise

    Like Dark Jedi says, as long as you are near a station, you can go anywhere easy and swiftly. We were warned before we went on our land trip to Japan how small hotel rooms are. "broom cupboard" is a better word than hotel room in Japan. Most hotel rooms have no wardrobes and no storage space for luggage. We were travelling light, but still had to pile our bags up behind the entrance doors. One had to sit on the bed for the other to get past. Also make sure you know how wide the bed is, and don't just book any double. A double bed can be anything, starting at 1.20 meter (47 inches).....
  3. There are many different airlines flying the stretch HKG-REP, so look into that to maximise your time in Asia. We personally have good experiences with Hong Kong Express, which is sort of a budget carrier (so make sure you price your flight to include luggage), but excellent quality. Another airline besides Cathay and HK Express who flies the route is Cambodia Angkor Air. Siem Reap is a very small, but modern airport. Most flights all leave at the same time of the day. From SIN to REP, your options are Jetstar and Singapore Airlines.
  4. UKBayern

    Tipping in Asia

    In Japan, absolutely don't tip by handing over money directly. Use a box or envelope if you really feel you want to give money. Japanese love little gifts though, as others have already pointed out. In touristy areas in Asia, the locals have now become so accustomed to tipping, they sometimes expect it, or just don't give you your change back. This happened to us several times in Siem Reap in Cambodia and in Hue in Vietnam. What we just did after we experienced this a couple of times, is wait if somebody was honest, and then let them keep the change or give them something.
  5. But it is just a dead body, his beautiful gold coffin is in the national museum in Cairo. The design of the tomb is very plain, and said to be very similar to that of Ay. We went into a number of tombs that were beautifully painted, carved and decorated - included in the normal price. The line for Seti's tomb was very long in the sweltering heat, we had read up beforehand and we did not think it worth THAT much extra money. TLC, I just remembered where you should go: We went into this amazing tomb of Thutmosis III (KV34), all the way in the back. It is a long way up a lot of metal stairs, and then a long way down in the tomb. It is totally different than all the other tombs, since it almost only has beautiful delicate pen drawings and hardly any carvings. It is the only one of its kind, so I hope it is open when you are there. You can see pictures here:
  6. The best tip: get a guide or go on an organised tour. There is so much to see, and you cannot possibly read up on all the history. A good guide can navigate you through the busy spots, take you to a good realiable restaurant, and will be able to read the hieroglyphs. We are very much DIY-tourists, but the times we were in Egypt, we invested in a good tour(guide). In the valley of the kings, you buy a ticket to go into a number of tombs ( 5 if I recall correctly) Not all tombs are open at the same time, since the delicate wall paintings get damaged from too many tourists breathing in the tombs. (If the tombs get too humid they need to dry out). We did not follow all the tourists into the busy tombs, but walked all the way to the back where hardly any other tourists ventured. It was great, we had those tombs almost to ourselves. We observed where the groups of Egyptian archeology students went, and followed them to a number of very beautiful tombs. Be please advised there is a shopping mall next to the entrance, but once you get on the minicars to the actual valley, there is nothing there except the tombs. Make sure you stock up on water, sunscreen, and snacks, and go to the bathroom before you get on the minicar ride. I am diabetic, and had not counted on the fact that there was not even a refreshment stand or anything, and ended up eating everybody's sweets.... We were there in January last year (the coolest month), and it was still very very hot in the valley of the kings. Take a hat and plenty of drinking water! Wear comfortable slip-resistent shoes for the steps inside the tombs, and prepare to bend over a lot.... Our guide advised us against paying for Tut's tomb, since you basically pay for the name and not because the tomb is all that special....
  7. UKBayern

    Vietnam Airlines/Thai Airways

    If that bothers you, you could opt to pay way more on Vietnam Airlines.
  8. UKBayern

    Anyone been to Hoi An since the flooding in early November?

    We were there the 25th of November, and the whole place was flooded again.....
  9. UKBayern

    Vietnam Airlines/Thai Airways

    Last month, we flew on Vietjet from Siem Reap to Hanoi. This a low cost carrier (think Southwest or Easyjet) which is privately owned and not state-owned. I come from the airline business myself, and I thought it all looked pretty good and reliable. The website is good and the web check-in was very smooth. The flight deck is mainly Australian, the flight attendants are Vietnamese, but speak some english. Vietjet are cheaper and offer more routes than Vietnam Airlines, but since it is a no-frills airline, you have to factor all costs (you have to pay for luggage, meals, seat assignments etc) to make an informed decision which airline to fly. On many international routes, you can also choose Jetstar or Air Asia.
  10. UKBayern

    Da Nang Two days

    When we were in Da Nang it was actually pouring down with rain, so we went to the Cham museum. Very interesting sculptures from the Cham period (900-1000 AD).
  11. UKBayern

    Cambodia: Next Star! Tips, Secrets?

    We just returned from a trip to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, HongKong and Japan last month. We travel extensively all over the world, have been to a great many countries, and speak 5 languages fluently and can understand a couple more for easy contact with locals. I feel I can be honest with you, since you travel extensively as well, so are used to certain things as well. We did not see more of Cambodia than the trip overland from Thailand to Siem Reap and 4 days in Siem Reap. Compared to other countries, we did not like Cambodia much. We got the hell out of Cambodia and loved every minute in Vietnam, which is totally different. We found people in Siem Reap very fake, and only welcoming of your dollars and not you. You know and feel you are ripped off everywhere. I got so tired of the constant hassle being badgered and cat-called every single second of the day by people who want to sell you something, want you in their tuk-tuk, want you to come into their restaurant, shop, etc. They will tell you anything they think you want to hear and that will entice you to part with your money. They won't take no for an answer and get really stroppy with you. A popular thing to do is stop the tuk-tuk in the middle of nowhere and try to extort more money out of you, on top of what you negotiated in advance. I don't know if you have been to Egypt, it is the same kind of hassle and nagging at the pyramids and in Luxor. A friend of mine who actually speaks Arabic had the same taxi experience in Hurghada all the time where they stop in the middle of the desert. We bought our visa online in advance, very fast and easy, since we were warned about unsavoury extortionate practices at the land border at Poi Pet (Poi Pet is a hell hole that should be avoided). We thought the smooth and hassle free entry process was well worth the 6 dollars extra, on top of the 30$ visa fee. Siem Reap airport is very modern and efficient, and I doubt you would have any problems there, as in other modern airports. Officially, Cambodia has its own currency, but nobody want riels, the locals pay with dollars themselves, and the ATMs only dispense US dollars. Only change smaller than 1 dollar is given in riel, ideal to give as a tip to the maid or something. For some strange reason, nobody in Siem Reap wants 2 dollar bills, they just refuse to take them. We have good experiences with the Canadia Bank. Very reliable, clean, nice staff, good ATMs. Angor Wat is actually just one of the many temples in the area. Ta Prohm is the temple with the vines growing all over them, Angkor Thom is spread out over a large area, the terrace of the elephant king is interesting, and there are many more. If you want to visit the temples, be warned that they are miles apart, and miles away from any hotel and miles away from the city centre. You cannot walk, you cannot rent a bike, scooter, car or any kind of self-drive vehicle, and there is no local bus. You have to rely on tuk-tuks. The going rate to take you around all day, and wait for you whilst you are in the various temples, is 15$. Most hotels know a realible driver. You do have to do your homework where you want to go, the drivers are not licenced guides. Make sure you tell the driver the first day that you do not have a ticket yet, as the ticket office is many miles away from the entrance. The ticket office takes credit cards, you can buy 1, 3 or 7 day tickets. Even if you are only there for 2 days, the 3 day pass ($62) is more economical that 2x a 1 day pass ($37). All hotels can organize a guided tour for you as well, this of course will cost more. In Siem Reap, we did a 1/2 day Khmer cooking course at the restaurant / cooking school Tigre du Papier. It only cost $15 per person and is great fun. You can choose anything from the menu you want to cook, they take you to the market, and after the cooking, the dishes are eaten together (if you are with more people, choose different dishes to cook so you can share). They even send the recipes to your email address.
  12. UKBayern

    3 days in Hong Kong - recommendations

    Get an Octopus card. It is also valid on the Peak Tram, the Star Ferry and the airport busses. At the end you get back any money that is left on the card (there is a small fee) at any underground station or at the airport.
  13. UKBayern

    British cruisers Visa question

  14. UKBayern

    Japan luggage question

    I found all accommodations in Japan, even 4 star hotels, to be extremely small. We had to pile up our luggage behind the entrance door of the room, because there was no room elsewhere in the room! Travel light!
  15. UKBayern

    British cruisers Visa question

    I have just returned from a land trip to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Japan last month. For every country in the world it is the same: you need proof that you are leaving the country again (air ticket, cruise papers). Thailand is visa free for UK citizens, so no problems there. UK ciitzens are in the extremely lucky position that we are amongst one of the handful of passport holders who do not need a visa for Vietnam on the provision a) that you leave the country in 15 days, b) you are a tourist, c) enter via a number of selected airports, d) single-entry only (this would disqualify you!). I found the Vietnamese embassy in Berlin very helpful, I am sure you can get help from the Vietnamese embassy in London. http://www.vietnamembassy.org.uk/ The way I read the rules, you might have to part with some hard-earned cash. My poor Dutch husband had to fork out 70 pounds for the visa and the registrered mail to/from the embassy.....