Monday, March 28, 2011

Palm Springs Planning

Google map that I created.

Visit Palm Springs dot com

Knott's Soak City Waterpark Palm Springs
Open 11a-5p; 4/3-4/8
1500 S Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs

Desert Adventures Jeep Tours

Big Wheel Tours
Bike, Hiking, and Jeep Tours

The River at Rancho Mirage
Restaurants and a Movie theater

Westfield Palm Desert Mall

The Living Desert zoo
Oct. 1 - May 31 open 9am-5pm
June 1 - Sept. 30 open 8am-1:30pm

El Paseo shopping in Palm Desert

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Koffi Coffee; good coffee in Palm Springs

Palm Springs Farmers Market; Saturdays 8am-12:30pm Sept.-June
2300 E Baristo Road at Farrell

Palm Desert Farmers Market; Wednesdays 8am-12:30pm Sept. - June
at the Palm Desert Visitor Center, 72-567 Highway 111

Joshua Tree National Park
There are three entrances, two off of Highway 62 and one off of Interstate 10.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hong Kong Planning

I visited Hong Kong in 2004. It was the first place I ever visited outside of North America. Here is what I wrote (journal style) during that trip. I must go back so here is some planning I am doing for that eventual trip.



Hong Kong has good public transportion. Buses, the subway (MTR), the tram, and the Star Ferry have a unified payment card called the Octopus card. When you get on a bus or MTR you scan the card and then when you get off you scan again and the fare is deducted from the card. I believe the tram on Hong Kong island and the Star Ferry are flat fee rides so you only scan the card on entering. The card can also be used at some shops as payment. More money can be added to the card at MTR stations.

Tourists can buy an Octopus card that includes one or two Airport Express one way trips. If you are using the airport (and you probably are) then this is the card to get. More information can be found at these links.


The hotels in Hong Kong aren't cheap. I did a post on lesser known hotels that are near MTR stations. Of course just about all of the "brand name" hotels are found in Hong Kong and cost hundreds of dollars a night. If you can afford the price I think the Intercontinental Hong Kong is in an excellent location and has a fantastic lobby lounge with floor to ceiling windows affording a view of Hong Kong Harbour. The Grand Stanford is a different Intercontinental in Hong Kong, which I'm sure is fine, but isn't in the best location. I did stay at the Marco Polo Hong Kong and liked it a lot. It is integrated into Harbour City. There are two other Marco Polo hotels in this large complex, the Prince and the Gateway. The Marco Polo Hong Kong has the one pool for all three hotels however. The benefit of being in Harbour City is all of the food options as well as a small market within easy reach. The location is also a very short walk from the Star Ferry, which will take you across to Hong Kong Island.

I also stayed at the B P International hotel, which falls into the more affordable category. At the time, many of the rooms had bunk beds, but the hotel has done a renovation since I've been there and no more bunk beds as far as I can tell. The hotel is next to Kowloon Park and a public pool. The walk to the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry is through the park. Luckily Kowloon isn't a big area and you are never a far walk from where you want to go.

A well regarded affordable hotel is the Salisbury YMCA of Hong Kong. It is in Tsim Sha Tsui right next to The Peninsula Hotel. The location is a short walk to the Star Ferry, to all of the shopping, to tea at The Peninsula, and to the great lobby lounge at the Intercontinental.

I wasn't able to see everything in Hong Kong on my first trip, which is one of the reasons I want to return. Here are some of the things to do.



  • Mid-Levels Escalator
  • Ride the Tram
  • Visit a Wet Market
  • The Peak is a must see. The Peak is on Hong Kong Island. If you can, go there twice, during the day and at night. Or just before sunset so you get both day and night. The weather changes a lot so if you get good weather, get up to the peak. Also, there are good walking options at The Peak.
  • Stanley Market and Murray House. Going to Stanley Market gets you out of the dense city that is Hong Kong to do some shopping and sight seeing.
  • Jumbo Kingdom in Aberdeen - A place to go to dinner after visiting Stanley Market. Jumbo Kingdom is a huge floating building with more than one restaurant to choose from.
  • The Verandah in Repulse Bay. Afternoon tea (closed on Mondays) or Sunday brunch. Frommer's also has a review of The Verandah as well as Luxe Dining. Not much more to do in Repulse Bay for toursits, except to go to the beach if it is summer time.
  • Ocean Park. I went to Ocean Park during my first visit to Hong Kong and I might like to go back. It is on the quiet side of the island and has a nice mix of things to do. I've read that they are doing well since Hong Kong Disneyland opened (the opposite was expected to happen) as a nice alternative.
  • Horse Racing at Sha Tin and Happy Valley. Sha Tin is in The New Teritories, but the place to see the races is Happy Valley. It is amongst the city on Hong Kong Island. An incredible spectacle from what I have read. Horse Racing happens twice a week in Hong Kong from September through July. Generally speaking, races happen Wednesday night at Happy Valley and Sunday afternoon at Sha Tin, but not always so check the schedule. I took the tour to Sha Tin that you can book at most hotels. It includes transportation, access to a guest suite area in the Jockey Club, a very nice buffet, a tour down to the winner's circle, and some money back in the form of credit for betting.



One thing I didn't do was get over to Macau. It is probably good for a day trip while visiting Hong Kong. You can get there easily via ferry that takes about an hour or by helicopter if you have more money to spend. If you are a gambler or just want to stay in one of the new casino resorts then Macau might be a fun overnight trip. Here are some points of interest and things to know:


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hong Kong Hotels Near MTR Stations

I always like to use mass transportation when travelling which got me thinking about what hotels in Hong Kong are near the MTR stations. I've done some research excluding the big name hotels for cost reasons and here is the list I came up with:


-Across from Tin Hau MTR station
-rooftop pool

-Near Tin Hau MTR station
-near tram
-rooftop pool
-gym (7a - 9p)

-Near Fortress Hill MTR station
-rooftop pool
-gym across street

-Near Causeway Bay MTR station
-Next to Victoria Park
-swimming pool
-gym (6:30a - 11p)
-jogging track

-Kinda near Causeway Bay MTR station

-Kinda near Causeway Bay MTR station
-rooftop pool

-Near Fortress Hill MTR station
-gym (6:30a - 11p)


-Near Mong Kok MTR station
-heated rooftop pool
-gym (24hour)

-Near Yau Ma Tei MTR station
-indoor pool

-Near Yau Ma Tei MTR station (but it doesn't look as close as Cityview)

-Near Jordan MTR station
-Has a two-story Duplex suite!
-rooftop pool

-Near Jordan MTR station

-Near Hung Hom MTR station
-Has a 1 bedroom suite
-heated pool
-gym (6a - 11p)

Not near a subway but near the ferry:

-Not close to MTR
-Next to ferry
-rooftop pool (glass sides)
-gym (6a - 10p)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Boston Planning

Some links and information for a trip to Boston.

An attempt at a customized Google map with points of interest.

Fairmont Battery Wharf in the North End part of Boston.

Google map of the North End and the Fairmont

Google map of the Financial District and the Hilton

Boston Marriott Long Wharf next to the New England Aquarium

Google map of the Marriott

Logan shuttle to MBTA Blue Line

Omni Parker House, home of the Parker House roll and Boston cream pie. And the very comfortable Parker's bar.
Google map.

Fenway Park Google map.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Las Vegas Planning

This is by far not a complete list of places to eat at and have fun. It is just places that I know I want to check out.

Dining Spots:
  • Tea Lounge at Mandarin Oriental. 8 am - 1 am. Afternoon Tea 2:30 - 5 pm. "Smart Casual"
  • Verandah at Four Seasons Hotel. Mon. - Fri. 3 - 4 pm.
Pastry shops:
24 hour coffee shops:
  • La Creperie at Paris. 7 am to 11 pm (12 am Fri. + Sat.)
Restaurants with set menus:
Burger places:
  • Burger Joint at Flamingo. Sweet potato fries! 11:30 am - 10 pm (until 6 am Fri. + Sat.)
  • Le Burger Brasserie at Paris. 11 am to 10 pm (1 am Fri. + Sat.)
  • Burger Bar at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place (or this link)(10 am - 11 pm Sun., 10:30 am - 11 pm Mon. - Thur., 10:30 am - 2 am Fri., 10 am - 2 am Sat.)
  • Burger Palace at Imperial Palace. 24 hours.
  • Planet Hollywood (24 hours)
  • Luxor (3 locations)
  • Excalibur
  • MGM Grand (3 locations, 1 open 24 hours)
  • Monte Carlo (2 locations)
  • Mandalay Bay
  • Harrah's (4 locations)
  • Treasure Island 6 am - 12 am
  • Golden Nugget
Dunkin Donuts:
  • 4125 S. Eastern Ave., Flamingo Eastern Plaza 89119
  • 200 E. Freemont St., Freemont Hotel & Casino 89101 (Freemont St. Experience)
  • 3350 E. Tropicana Ave., #C2 89121
  • 6795 Tropicana Ave., Suite 100 89103
  • 7400 Las Vegas Blvd., 89123 (just North of LV Outlet Center)
Krispy Kreme:
  • Excalibur
  • Mandarin Bar. 23rd Floor of the Mandarin Oriental. 4:30 pm - 1 am (2 am Fri. + Sat.). "Stylish Casual"
  • Level 107 Lounge at Stratosphere. 4 pm - ?. Live Music 8 pm - 12:30 am (Wed. + Thur.), 9 pm - 1:30 am (Fri. + Sat.)
  • Karaoke Club at Imperial Palace. 9 pm - ? (10 pm Fri. + Sat.)
Things to do:
Kart Racing:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

LAX to Mumbai in Business

A friend is going to Mumbai from LAX for work and will be flying business class. I don't know if she will have a choice in airline, but if she does these are her most obvious choices.

Being bored (and I love doing this kind of thing) I decided to look up what kinds of flights go to Mumbai from LAX. I'm hoping I can show what options are out there in an easy to read way in case you have a choice in how you get to Mumbai. There might just be an obviously more comfortable flight for you (or not, we will see).

Before I go any further I'll say if you can fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class do it (they don't have business, but they do have economy plus... not as good as business). If you can't fly Upper Class on Virgin then keep reading.

Los Angeles to Newark to Los Angeles
Continental Airlines Business class - Not quite lie-flat seats; AC Power; Personal TV; 777
5 Hours 19 Min. / 15 Hours 10 Min.
Return: 15 Hours 45 Min. / 5 Hours 56 Min.

Los Angeles to JFK to Los Angeles
United or American to/from JFK and Air India JFK/Mumbai
United Business and American Business in the U.S. will be similar
Air India Business is called Executive Class - The good 777 planes have Lie Flat seats; EM Power (need adaptor); Personal TV (a beware... some of their planes don't have lie flat seats)
5 Hours 22 Min. / 15 Hours 15 Min.
Return: 15 Hours 55 Min. / 6 Hours 10 Min.

Los Angeles to Atlanta to Mumbai
Delta Elite Business - Some of their 777 planes have "mini suites" with Lie-Flat seats; AC Power; Personal TV
4 Hours 20 Min. / 15 Hours 50 Min.

Mumbai to Paris to Los Angeles seems to be the return for this
Delta ... operated by Air France
Air France Business called Affaires Class - Not quite lie-flats seats; AC Power; Personal TV
9 Hours 10 Min. / 11 Hours 30 Min.

Los Angeles to Frankfurt to Mumbai
Lufthansa Business - Not quite lie-flat seats; AC Power; Personal TV
10 Hours 45 Min. / 8 Hours 0 Min.
8 Hours 55 Min. / 11 Hours 35 Min.

Los Angeles to London to Mumbai
British Airways Business is called Club World Class - Lie Flat Seats; Em Power; Personal TV; 747 (you could sit in the upper deck!)
10 Hours 15 Min. / 9 Hours 0 Min.
9 Hours 20 Min. / 11 Hours 0 Min.

Los Angeles to Dubai to Mumbai
Emirates Business - Not quite lie flat seats or worse recliner seats; AC Power; Personal TV
15 Hours 55 Min. / 2 Hours 45 Min.
3 Hours 15 Min. / 16 Hours 35 Min.

Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Mumbai
Cathay Pacific Business; If you get their "New Business" the seats are extra wide Lie Flat seats; AC Power; Personal TV
14 Hours 35 Min. / 6 Hours 20 Min.
5 Hours 50 Min. / 13 Hours 0 Min.

Flight times are from Orbitz and can vary a lot depending on head winds going west and tail winds going east (it takes less time going east because of the winds).

Delta, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific seem to have the best business classes (if on a plane with the new seats).

British Airways through London avoids a 15 hour flight.

If you have a choice I hope one of these looks better than the others. If you don't have a choice then I hope you get a good flight.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Looking at doing a quick trip to Bangkok from LAX. No non-stops available. The Taiwan airlines stop in Taipei.

Prices are with taxes and fees.

7/8 - 7/13
China Airlines
Flight leaves at 3:55PM so it doesn't arrive in Bangkok until 1:05AM on 7/10. I'd rather leave at 1AM and arrive on 7/9.

Flight leaves at 1:15AM so it arrives at 11:20AM in Bangkok on 7/9. Much better.

EVA Air $992
Flight leaves at 5:40PM so it doesn't arrive in Bangkok until 1:40AM on 7/10. I'd rather leave at 1AM and arrive on 7/9.

Cathay Pacific goes through Hong Kong and is $1536.

Korean Air goes through various cities with various code-shares and of course one stop is in Seoul. $1656

United Airlines goes through Tokyo and is $1861.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hong Kong has gotten a little cheaper

Bored during lunch today so I looked up prices for a Hong Kong trip
leaving LAX on July 19th (July 20th arrival in HK) and leaving July
24th. Using I could see that hotel prices are down $50-$100
compared to six months ago. The price I like the most is $139 (plus
taxes) a night at The Langham in Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui). This is a
very nice hotel. On the cheaper side of things the BP International
Hotel has rooms starting at $67 (plus taxes).

Looking for flights I first went to and the cheapest flight was China Air for just over $700 (taxes included), but it gets in late at night. I don't like that for two reasons. The first is that
you're wasting the cost of one night at the hotel by getting in so
late. Get to the hotel and go to bed (if you can fall asleep), which
leads to the second reason why I don't like to arrive late at night
when flying to Asia. I probably won't be able to fall asleep. When I
arrive in Asia I will be a zombie for a day so I want to stay busy
until bedtime. Go to the gym, walk around and explore near the hotel,
and anything else I can do to stay awake until nighttime. I have a
much better chance at sleeping the first night if I do these things.

The next cheapest flight was a China Airlines flight arriving earlier
in the day priced near $900. Also listed was a flight on EVA Air for
over $1000. I have flown them a few times and like the airline so I
decided to go to the EVA Air web site to see what prices they have.

This work computer couldn't handle the front page of EVA Air so I went
to the multi-stop page, selected July 19th as the departure date to
HKG and leaving the 24th to Taipei. The third leg is Taipei to LAX on
the 26th. Quite often doing a multi-city can escalate the cost many
hundreds of dollars, but not this time. Total cost with taxes in
economy LAX-HKG-TPE-LAX only $881.28. In Elite Class the fare jumps
too $1801.28, which really isn't that bad considering the extra leg
room and other perks.

I might just do this!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Number One

Trying to get this into shape. I found from doing a blog ( for a few years that I have many interests that I want to write about. What I have found from this experience is that I don't think a non-famous person can have a blog if said blog is all over the universe with topics and hope for that blog to have any sort of popularity and regular readership. Write about politics a few times and then technology a few times and the person coming back to the blog for the politics has technology all in their face.

What I think I have learned is that a non-famous person's blog needs to be specific about one topic. Hopefully a topic with passion behind it. I've decided to start this blog about travel. I think about travel every day. At some point the name of this blog will change ... and the layout will change ... and links will be added ... etc., but for now I am getting this started with the bearest of layout and my desire to blog about travel firmly in place.

I hope to blog about a few things. When I read an article online or in a newspaper's travel section I want to comment on it, "why would anyone want to go there" or "I would love to go there ... how much will it cost". I may be thinking about going somewhere and will use this blog to layout potential travel plans and costs. When I see emails promoting travel deals I may reflect on them here, is it a good deal, is the deal still available, etc. You get the idea. I'm sure what I write about will evolve. I also hope to have helpful links so that this is the place I would want to go to start my travel research, and hopefully others will follow.

Happy traveling!