ANDY O

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ANDY O

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Aug082012

Tour/Activity

Bangkok Airport Shared Departure Transfer

Bangkok, Thailand

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

I had an early morning flight from Bangkok to London via Abu Dhabi. The transfer pick up time was confirmed with me at the start of the holiday as 5.30 am, and the car duly arrived at said time, on the dot. It was supposed to be a shared transfer, but apparently, as I was the only one headed for the airport from my or nearby hotels, I was transported alone, not in a minivan, but a smart Mercedes Benz salon car. As with all Thai people I encountered on this holiday, the driver was polite and courteous in the extreme. Despite lots of cars on the road at this early hour (!), we made it to the airport without any undue delay.

Aug062012

Tour/Activity

Thai Burma Death Railway Bridge on the River Kwai Tour from Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Our first stop from Bangkok was to a cemetery where many of the PoWs who built the railway and bridge are buried - row upon row of headstones in an immaculately tendered field. Very moving.
We then proceeded to a museum dedicated to the memory of said PoWs - photos and newspaper cuttings of emaciated men, many very ill, forced to work.
We then boarded a river boat for the journey to the bridge itself. These boats are canoe-like structures with outboard motors that frisk you at high speed, with the edge of the boat so close to the level of the river, and the wind blowing through your hair! How exciting!
The bridge turned out to be different from the one in the famous movie - it's made of steel, whilst the movie version had it made of wood, if memory serves. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the sad era of the Second World War that occasioned the building of the railway and bridge. I also learnt that there is no river Kwai as such. Apparently the word 'kwai' is Thai for river. The PoWs mistakenly thought the river was called Kwai when they heard locals use the term.
We then boarded a train that took us over the bridge and along the railway for about 100 km, passing through picturesque Thai countryside of plantations, farms and forest. So very peaceful. I was particularly impressed by how smart the houses were, even deep in the Thai countryside.
Finally we met our minivan for the return trip to Bangkok, at break neck speed it has to be said. Our driver paid scant regard to the speed limit and was constantly 'undertaking' i.e. overtaking on the wrong side of the car being passed. Quite scary at times!
Andy

My Photos

  • Thailand 077

Aug042012

Tour/Activity

Thailand's Ayutthaya Temples and River Cruise from Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This is an excursion not to be missed! The highlight of this trip is the visit to the beautiful former palace of the king. The three temples visited are so picturesque, and full of amazing history. And then the two hour river cruise back to Bangkok takes in wonderful scenery, both natural and man made.
Andy, August 2012

My Photos

  • Thailand 051

Aug032012

Tour/Activity

Khao Yai National Park and Elephant Ride Day Trip from Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

A very memorable excursion indeed!
We left Bangkok by minivan about 7.00 am. Our first stop was a market in the Thai countryside. I have never seen anything like it. Virtually every creature known to man and beast was for sale in this market, many of which are, apparently, delicacies in Thai cuisine!
We then proceeded to a farm where we had a forty minute drive on ox cart, through rice paddies and farmland. Really stunning views, though insect repellant highly recommended unless not bothered by the odd mosquito.
Next stop the Khao Yai national park. The only disappointment of the day in that the term 'national park' suggests lots of animals. Not so in this case. Apart from a few deer and monkeys, we didn't see any flock or herd of anything worth writing home about. We were taken to see a fabulous waterfall. The descent to near the base of the waterfall is via a set of very steep steps - not so much a problem going down, but coming up a major physical challenge. Definitely not to be recommended for the physically unfit tourist long overdue a visit to the gym!
Next stop lunch, followed quickly by the elephant ride. Probably the highlight of my visit to Thailand. Very friendly animals. I just loved their company. They are practically human!. But I have heard tell that they are practically tortured into submitting to the will of their owners, hence their friendliness, so not sure my elephant ride was politcally correct.
Finally, back to the minivan and the ride back to Bangkok.
Andy, August 2012

Aug022012

Tour/Activity

Bangkok's Grand Palace Complex and Wat Phra Kaew Tour

Bangkok, Thailand

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Magnificent structures in this complex. Sadly we couldn't get into the main temple to see the Emerald Buddha as there were simply too many people. It happened to be a holy day in Buddhism, so the massed ranks of tourists, worshippers, school children ... meant one would have to endure very lengthy and long queues to get in.
Our tour guide was very friendly and had a constant smile.

My Photos

  • Thailand 009

Jul312012

Tour/Activity

Bangkok Airport Shared Arrival Transfer

Bangkok, Thailand

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

Agent was waiting at the airport when I arrived, with my name on a board. Absolutely no problem finding each other. I seem to have been the only one travelling by this way on this day so what should have been a shared minivan was, in fact, a transfer for one by sleek Mercedes Benz salon car! Nice! Very polite and courteous driver. Brilliant start to one's holiday.
Andy, July 2012

Aug062011

Tour/Activity

Amsterdam Day Trip from Brussels

Brussels, Belgium

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

It was a delightful, picturesque coach trip to Amsterdam from Brussels, where I was staying. In Amsterdam, we first visited a farm and saw the iconic Dutch clogs being made. We then had a guided tour of Amsterdam with a most knowledgeable tour guide. This was followed by an hour long canal ride - just like you see in the brochures! The rest of the day was free for us to wander in the souvenir shops and take in the charm that is Amsterdam!

My Photos

  • Windmill by River Amstel

Aug052011

Tour/Activity

Brussels Half-Day City Tour

Brussels, Belgium

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

An interesting half-day tour of Brussels, with a knowledgeable tour guide. In the group were tourists who spoke different languages, so he had to translate everything - a bit annoying, but you get used to it. The Grand Place was fabulous - very eye-catching architecture. The atomium structure was a sight to behold. Downtown Brussels has some pretty steel and glass buildings that I particularly liked. The only real draw back to the trip was that there aren't that many tourist attractions in Brussels to speak of. It is probably best used as a base from which to explore other regions in Belgium, the Netherlands or Luxembourg.

My Photos

  • Grand Place

Aug052011

Tour/Activity

Antwerp Half-Day Trip from Brussels

Brussels, Belgium

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

I hadn't researched Antwerp before visiting so I did not know what to expect. But I was not disappointed. I particularly liked the church with the very tall steeple, and the river that runs by. The trip to the diamond factory/shop could have been better. On the day we went there were no people working (cutting, polishing) so all we had was a talk. And the prices of the jewellery!! Not sure many tourists go on holiday looking to buy a ring that costs more than a new car! Of course diamonds are expensive - it would just be good if there were some more affordable souvenir one could take as a memento of one's visit.
The one thing that annoyed me was that when we got back to Brussels, where we were staying, the coach did not drop us off at our hotels, as promised, but at various centres downtown. In my case I had a fairly long walk, up a hill, to get back to my hotel. This sort of ruined what had otherwise been an enjoyable day trip to Antwerp.

My Photos

  • Antwerp Church

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