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In search of an Empire.Siam,Burma and Singapore.

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drron

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Our next trip starts in 90 minutes when we leave for BNE.5 weeks since we arrived home and 2.5 of those I spent in Townsville.
Flying BNE-SYD today on our last JASA and spending the weekend in Sydney with family.
Monday and our first Avianca award flying TG F to BKK.Spending 6 nights at the Sheraton in Pattaya for chill out time.Need this with my hectic lifestyle.:shock:
Then another 6 nights at our home in Bangkok the SGS.

Then fly TG to RGN-paid fare as very cheap J fare.Stay in the Governor's Residence hotel for 2 nights before our flight to Mandalay to board the Orcaella.Now when we first booked this trip it was to go upriver to many of the places George Orwell stayed in his years in Burma.Unfortunately it is now going downriver.
End up in Bagan where we will do the balloon ride and stay 3 nights.Back to Yangon and the Royal Chatrium hotel for another 3 nights.
Then our second Avianca award SQ to SIN.Six days of eating pleasure await though mrsdrron probably will reintroduce the CCs to the shops there.
Finally a Krisflyer award back to BNE.

There will almost certainly be a gap in the TR when on the Orcaella.They do say that internet is very slow and prone to drop out.I take that to mean-don't bother.
 

Major

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I have seriously looked at a Pandaw cruise on the Irrawaddy so I will be very interested in your Orcaella experience.

Enjoy the trip
 

RB

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Looking forward to reading this. Do you end up with Xmas in Myanmar?
 

thompg

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I loved Pandaw cruising up the Irrawaddy last year - Bagan was spectacular. We made it up to Katha and saw/walked through the house George Orwell supposedly lived in.

Great country and I'd love to return - hopefully their political situation will continue to improve.
 

drron

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Yes Christmas,New Year and my birthday will all be celebrated on the Irrawaddy.

So a nice 0830 start for the drive to BNE.Not as much traffic as usual until Boondall.No problems with checkin even though bags were 24 and 27KG.They will be much lighter when we leave SYD.

So into the J lounge.A fellow at the next table I thought I knew,could it be someone famous.But someone was paged for the MEL flight and the penny dropped-a Melbourne Cardiologist I had seen at a few conferences.Mrsdrron then noted that my QFF number was not on my BP so to the service desk and asked if it could be put in.She looked up my ticket and said it is an award flight so you don't need your FF number in.I said but it is an any seat award issued before March.She replies but any seat awards don't earn points.This one does said I.She finally put my number in as it became obvious to her I wasn't leaving until it was.

QF 525. BNE-SYD. ETD-1125. Push back-1136. Take off-1144.
ETA-1400. Landed-1400. At gate-1406. Seats 2A,C.

Susan the CSM on this flight was the best QF FA that we have ever flown with.Chatted to everyone on boarding.Put the young kids at ease.Very efficient lunch service.Wine refills without asking.Then had a chat with mrsdrron who told her we would be with the grandkids for the weekend.Susan asked their ages and then said she would go down the back and get activity sets for them which she did.I definitely will let QF customer relations know.

Of course the baggage handlers then destroyed the very positive feelings we had for QF.A long wait for the carousel and only 2 bags came out after ours and they too had priority stickers.
Whilst waiting got an SMS from Avis telling us which bay our car was in.Turned out to be the exact same car we got in October.Had been treated poorly between our rentals.

So now the pics.Lunch was a Thai beef salad and it was nice-
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We approached SYD on the usual path but higher than usual-
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We then turned west passing Bankstown-
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Before turning south and landing from the south on the cross runway-
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Staying at the SOTP.Knew there would be no suite upgrade as 4 weeks out the only rooms left for sale were a Hyde Park suite and the Royal suite.Still got a Park view room on a C&P rate for a city view.

Next instalment probably on Monday when waiting for our first TG F experience.
 
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RooFlyer

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Stand by for Burma in stereo folks - I'll beat drron by a week (I'm on TG MEL to BKK, Sunday night / Monday morning horror flight, but only J :( ), straight onwards to RGN.
 

amaroo

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Duelling TR's - perfect!
 

drron

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Sydney was family time so not much that was touristy.Did have a new experience attending our grandson's pre-school graduation complete with academic gown and cap.It certainly is a different world from mine.
Sydney drivers have not changed.Only 2 types-the quick and the dead slow.Gets frustrating.Sydney busses certainly getting more aggressive.Dont believe in staying in one lane.Only went to 1 restaurant-Franks Pizza Bar and Café on Parramatta road Camperdown opposite the James Squire brewery.OK food but not cheap and cash only.

So Monday morning and up early.I am in trouble with mrsdrron as only at the TG checkin two and a half hours before departure.But quickly checked in,through Immigration and security as I again requested the body scanner.Be warned it picks up perspiration.
Then discovered 2 reasons to fly OW out of SYD-a much shorter walk to lounge and when you get there certainly not as good as the QF Flounge-we went to the SQ F lounge.Breakfast just not as exciting-
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The bacon had not yet arrived at the lounge.However the seats were comfortable,uncrowded with plenty of power points.Couldn'y connect to the SQ wifi even though had the password so just connected to the free SYD wifi so no problem.Left the lounge as they called for boarding which started a minute or two after we arrived at the gate.
TG476. SYD-BKK. ETD-1000. Push back-1007. Take off-1028. Seats 2E,F.
ETA-1525. Landed-1507. At remote stand-1514.

Nice Rimowa amenities case at seat,jacket taken immediately I arrived at seat and a glass of champagne in my hand a couple of minutes later.PJs handed out soon after.Only 6/10 seats in F occupied and an interesting observation that 3 pax had QF WP tags on their carryons.So the seats-
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And the wines-
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Before take off we were asked which wine we would like with our appetisers-we both chose the Sauvignon blanc.A glass was with us soon after the seat belt sign went off.The wines then were stored just in front of us-
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Next the meals.
 

drron

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The menu-
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The canapes were ordinary-
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But we both enjoyed the Calvisius caviar though mrsdrron got a lot more than me-
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Served with chilled vodka.The lobster and smoked salmon was good-
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The salad was served with the choice of 2 dressings spooned on.
For mains I had the lamb shank which was good but a little longer in the cooking to make the meat fall off the bone would have been better.I forgot to take a pic.Mrsdrron chose the salmon but had to pick again as they had only loaded 2 serves.She doesn't eat curry and doesn't particularly like black bean.The FA bought her the J menu and she decided the beef in oyster sauce would be a reasonable choice.Sure was-it was delicious-
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We both had the fruit but decided against the cheese-I still had a glass or two of the Cockburn special reserve port.We both had the cheesecake-
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drron

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After the meal I watched a movie-The Hundred Foot Journey.Loved it.Then had my usual nanny nap.Not the most comfortable seat but far from the worst.I did manage to slip off to sleep for an hour or two.
The service was very good but without the warmth you sometimes get on other airlines.They kept the toilets immaculate but still didn't stop some interlopers from behind the curtain-after my sleep I went and noted that all the other F pax were in their seats yet the 2 F loos were occupied.I gave a fellow the look as he retreated back behind the curtain.The FAs basically refreshed the loos after every use.Pleasant-
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After this episode I watched another movie-The Grand Seduction.Another very enjoyable movie.
It was then time for a snack-
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I enjoyed the noodles though they weren't to mrsdrron's taste.After the snack one of the pax got his colleague up from J and they talked business occupying the middle seats in Row 3.

Slightly early into BKK.However we were taken to just about the remotest stand and were bussed in quite a distance.One bus for the now 7 F pax.Mrsdrron finds it difficult going down stairs after breaking her ankles so this was not appreciated.However the 3 staying in Bangkok were escorted to the fast track Immigration and then had a porter for our baggage-he took it out to our booked transport.Took a while for baggage to appear but priority baggage worked.

Once again our transport to Pattaya was arranged through Oriental Escapes.Once again great service and I still would recommend them.A woman driver this time but very competent.
 

drron

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Going back a little to photos of the Amenities back we got for this flight-
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Mrsdrron is sure she will find uses for these.
Checkin at the Sheraton was literally a breeze-it is open to the breezes.As soon as the agent brought up our reservation she reached for the phone and made a call.Soon the GM appeared and welcomed us back-we did initially come here last year just because we knew the GM.Got the usual plat upgrade to a garden view pavilion room which is very nice.It had a little bit of an ocean view but a better pool view.
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The first night we missed the sunset so just enjoyed the 2 for 1 drinks at happy hour and shared a mushroom pizza and lobster stuffed chicken wings.
The second night at the infiniti bar we were early enough for sunset-
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Always beautiful here.Mrsdrron had the lobster salad and I the roast pumpkin with semidried tomatoes pizza-
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drron

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Wednesday and the first day in 9 that we have stayed here that we have ventured out of the resort.The hotel provides a shuttle to the Festival Mall in the centre of Pattaya.It is attached to the Hilton.I took the opportunity to step outside whilst mrsdrron inspected the shops.The view over Pattaya beach-
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Not a beach I want to visit again.although the Hilton looks modern I am glad we are staying at the Sheraton-just suits us better.We had lunch at Fuji in the mall.A branch of a restaurant we have been to a few times in Bangkok.Very nice Japanese food.Of course we could have eaten more cheaply just across the road from the Mall-
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An interesting sign at the shuttle pick up area-
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Mrsdrron suggests if you are caught smoking the authorities will wash your mouth out 2000 times.

After 3 hours we went back to the Sheraton.That night it was drinks at Latitude bar by the sea.They have installed a lift down since our last stay so a few others also using it.Good views of the ferries and speedboats bringing the tourists back from the islands offshore-
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Once again a fantastic sunset-
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And no better way to enjoy a sunset than with a glass of wine-
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drron

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Now you must know by now I just love sunsets-
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drron

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A salute to the sunset-
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After dark lots of green lights start to appear at sea-squid fishing.
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Makes a nice backdrop for dinner.On our second day I realised that the cocktails were much the same price as the wine so I am trying them out.A lychee capairianha,Latitude special and a Sheraton sunset-
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So on Thursday and a first for me.Not only found the Gym but actually went in and did a workout.Wonders will never cease.After that of course it was lay by the pool until it was time to get dressed,have sunset cocktails whilst once again watching the sun go down-
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Then our dinner.I started off with calamari and mrsdrron had the foie gras.Then we both had a second appetiser for mains-both done on "hot rocks".I had the pork belly with nam jhim sauce and mrsdrron scallops with a spicy seafood sauce-
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drron

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Keeping up the good work I have now been to the gym 3 days in a row.Each day I am working a little harder and faster.How long can I keep it up?
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Today was the first time someone else was there-a woman just finishing her session.
But back to yesterday-a great day by the pool where we have our lunch.Mrsdrron had a prawn pad thai and I an excellent red duck curry.

Back to the Infiniti bar for sunset.Could not go down to the beach bar as there was a wedding.A couple from the UK.At least they picked a warm spot for their wedding.
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Unfortunately for them the sunset was spoilt by clouds-
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One of the many speedboats needed a tow back to Pattaya beach-
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But all of little concern to me as I enjoyed my cocktails-Element of Passion and a simple Mojito-
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The scene improved after sunset and we both enjoyed the foie gras-
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We then had a long chat with the GM about changes to the hotel,services and SPG plat amenities.He also had a chat with another FlyerTalker who we met and will see again at the SGS.It is this sort of interaction that keeps me loyal to SPG in Asia at least.

Just to end this post a little from today's Bangkok Post re Chinese tourists and their expectations-
According to a regional, southern China blog, TheNanfang.com, which reported the incident, the flight had 174 passengers on board. The website reported that witnesses on the flight said the man threatened to blow up the plane and his girlfriend told other passengers she wanted to commit suicide, which led to the decision to turn around.
The couple found they would not be sitting together which happened because they were part of a tour group and were seated in alphabetical order. A flight attendant fixed the situation and found seats for them together, but they still complained loudly.
The woman bought a bowl of instant noodles and asked for boiling water which she promptly splashed on the flight attendant.
 

drron

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Today was an interesting day for drron and mrsdrron.We are now officially Sheraton Pattaya Resort Ambassadors.Even got to plant a local orange tree in what is to become the resort's kitchen garden.
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drron

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On our last night in Pattaya we had the seafood buffet in Element restaurant.An inpressive amount of food-
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The salmon sashimi was very good,the oysters succulent and the bugs delicious.Not many to be seen in that last photo as most had jumped onto my plate!:shock:

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drron

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I had started off with a beautiful seafood in spicy coconut soup-
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Outside there were cooking stations.The garlic prawns at the first were gret.Then a BBq station which also had ribs and chicken for those that weren't so keen on seafood.The ribs were very good-
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Mrsdrron got a much better shot than I showing the lights of the sqid boats at night-
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We didn't checkout until 1400 so after my time in the gym we were able to find a nice "office"for the morning-
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