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Traveling in Asia

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 PostPosted: Tue 20 Aug 2019 9:09 pm   

Joined: Tue 08 Apr 2008 7:34 am
Posts: 12644
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Back from a 3 week trip to Asia. Had a layover in Tokyo, 3 nights in Hanoi, 1 night Hoi An, 2 nights Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, 5 nights Seoul and 4 nights Hong Kong.

It was hot and humid and we were doing something touristy, in Vietnam, daily. Of course we knew it would exhaust us, but we were greedy. We tried to change our flights, to avoid the Hong Kong Protests, but the airlines wouldn't let us.

Here is some travel tips, in case you are thinking of traveling to Asia.

1. Pack a couple of change of clothes in your carry on or back pack. Our luggage didn't make it to our first city. Due to flights only being once a day, we didn't receive our luggage until the third day. Since we had an overnight cruise, the morning we arrived, we didn't have time to shop for replacement clothes. My wife, not thinking we would really have our luggage lost, for the second time in a year, didn't pack a complete set of clothes for everyone, as she didn't want to have any carry on.

2. Packing your toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash is not necessary for your emergency carry on. They have complimentary ones on the plane and in all the hotels we stayed. Sometimes the shaving kits had shaving creme and sometimes not. I am not sure why it is called a "kit", if there is only a razor.

3. Hotel Gyms. Not all the hotels, we stayed at, had gyms. All the Hotels, which had gyms, the gyms were on the hotels' roof and tiny, or the floor leading to the pool on the roof. The good news is that the gyms are empty for you to use. 95 degrees F, and humid, may be a deterrent.

4. Electrical Outlets. All the Vietnam and Seoul hotels, we stayed in, had Dual (European/U.S.) 2 prong 220/240 Volt outlets. The Seoul Hotel had some European only outlets as well. Hong Kong had Great Britain 220/240 outlets and a 110 U.S. outlet in the bathroom, which I found typical. We only needed a transformer for our electric toothbrush charge. Laptops, Cell Phones, electric razor and USB chargers all can use 110 or 220/240.

5. When in Vietnam take VinaSun, Mai Linh, or Grab (Uber like). The other cabs have a chance of scamming you with "fixed" meters. With Grab, who bought Uber Vietnam, you use an app and you pay cash.

6. In Seoul, taxis are reliable, but you need to know your destination in Korean. They will verbally speak your destination into their GPS and English does not translate into Korean. Even with the map, our hotel gave us, didn't help much to get back to the hotel. We were staying at the Ibis Hotel (apparently one of 5 in Seoul), and Koreans call it Ibisu Hotel, so no luck using Korean characters in their GPS. We wanted to go to the Grand Seoul building, so my son can play in the cyber cafe there, and the driver never heard of it. My Google Maps would show the map and where we were facing, but no turn by turn directions. When we got there, he said something like "Oh that's what you are looking for - Gran Dee Seoul. Public transport is great, but be prepared to walk. Also, check Google maps for walking direction and bus directions, if the destination is close by, as it may be faster walking, as Google maps is not so great there. Google maps would alert me when my bus stop was the next stop. We had 4 people, in our group, so taking a cab is sometimes just as cheap as public transport, for short distances. Seoul has a card, called T-Money, which can be used on buses, subways, most taxis and at 711s.

7. We didn't ride public transport, in Hong Kong, due to the protests and tear gas, plus we were tired from walking. If we were going to a popular place, all the taxi drivers knew where we were going. If leaving the hotel, I would tell the doorman, the destination in English, and the doorman would tell taxi driver in Chinese. Uber gives you the option of getting a the closest taxi or Uber driver, for a set price. In traffic prone Hong Kong, a fixed price is not bad. There are lots of taxis around.

8. Keep the Airlines' phone number with you. We arrived about 4 hours before our flight. We were told that the protesters were no longer at the airport. They were wrong. The airport was packed with protesters. We were lucky. 2 angels (protesters) approached us and told us the route to get through to the ticket counters. The airport was shut down 55 minutes before our scheduled departure. That experience is a post all by itself. Around 8:30 PM, there were over 500 people in line, to see 4 customer service reps, to be rebooked. At 12:30 AM there were still a four hundred in line. At 5:30 AM, still a couple hundred. If you had the airline phone number, you would probably have faster results. Skype wasn't very good, using the airport's wifi, though.

9. We tried SayHi app, versus Google Translate. SayHi needs a strong internet connection. While it worked great, while we were testing it at home, it sucked in Seoul and Hong Kong. Luckily I downloaded the languages into Google Translate, so at least I had something.

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 PostPosted: Wed 21 Aug 2019 5:38 am   
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Joined: Wed 21 Jul 2004 4:51 pm
Posts: 16761
Location: California
Welcome back, atom! Thanks for the report on your adventures.

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