Thursday, June 14, 2012

Super Thailand!

So it has been just over a year since my trip to Thailand. It is on rainy Vancouver days like these that I miss the warm weather, spicy food, sun kissed beaches and the non-stop Thai massages.

This winter I am on a mission to pack away the winter clothes and head back to the tropical paradise of Thailand on our new Super Thailand Tour. Super Thailand will include Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai with optional Phuket Island extension.

Thailand’s hidden treasures are uncovered during a drive through the city of Bangkok, via the Indian Market, the wholesale Flower market, China town and the Royal Avenue where the Palace of the King is located. This city tour is sure to be an amazing introduction to the diverse Thai culture.

On the banks of the River Kwai, Kanchanaburi is famous for the River Kwai Bridge built during World War II. Here, participants will visit the Allied Forces cemetery and spend time in the fascinating Thailand-Burma Railway Center Museum. Guests will ride a train across the famous bridge to Wang Po Station and Hellfire Pass Memorial. This memorial is part of the Death Railway that cuts through the mountains; it details the life of the Allied prisoners and Asian laborers who helped build, and subsequently suffered or died at Hellfire Pass.

The final city of the tour is the ancient capital of Siam, Ayutthaya. Here, participants will visit the ruins and temples of Bang Pa In, built in the 18th century as a summer residence for the Kings of Ayutthaya, as well as Wat Phra Srisan Phet and Wat Mongkol (the Giant seated Buddha image).

Scheduled departure dates for the 10 Day Super Thailand are November 26, 2012, February 11, 2013 and March 11, 2013. Packages begin at $1499. The 4 day Phuket Island extension is only $699 per person and includes 3 nights accommodation.

Best regards,

Otis Ashby

Sales & Operations

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Twice as fast as the Concorde

HyperMach Aerospace is currently developing a supersonic jet that will fly from London to New York in TWO HOURS. Dubbed the SonicStar plane, it will have a top speed of Mach 4.0 and is capable of carrying 10-20 passengers at heights of 60,000 ft.

With relatively low fuel consumption, the Sonic Star 'overcomes the economic and environmental challenges of supersonic flight to revolutionize the way we travel and drive air transportation forward into the future,' claims HyperMach. By using electromagnetic currents across the fuselage to suppress the sonic boom, the plane is able to overcome the noise regulations that constrict supersonic travel.

Unfortunately it will take at least 10 years for this jet to fly the skies so my hopes of flying to Beijing in fewer than 3 hours will still be a dream.

Best regards,

Otis Ashby

Sales & Operations

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beijing sets '2-fly rule' for public toilets

First Beijing introduced the 5-star toilet for the Olympics. Now public toilets in Beijing will soon be cleaner after a new rule says Beijing's public toilets should have no more than two flies. Yes you read correct. Two flies.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment (BMCCAE) issued the new standard for public toilet management, with criteria to offer a better environment for public toilets in parks, tourist areas, subway and train stations, hospitals, shopping centres and supermarkets, the paper said.

According to the rule, the number of flies should be no more than two, and discarded objects should also be less than two pieces and left uncollected for no longer than half an hour.

The new requirements are not compulsory and only aim to improve the environment of public toilets, Xie Guomin, head of the sanitation management division of BMCCAE told the paper.

Best regards,

Otis Ashby

Sales & Operations

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travelling to Tibet. Change in Policy

Earlier this month, the Tibet Tourism Bureau announced changes to their Tibet Permit policy. Travelers that now wish to visit Tibet need to consist of a minimum of 5 group members and that have the same nationality. The Tibet Permit itself is free but you do need to possess a China Visa. Furthermore you need to be travelling with a reputable China tour operator such as Chinapac International.

Unfortunately this new policy had affected some of our upcoming FIT and small group tours to Tibet. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, drop us a line and we will try to send your clients to Tibet as part of a larger group as well as apply for a Tibet Permit on their behalf.

Best regards,

Otis Ashby

Sales & Operations

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's a bird! It's a plane! No! It's a restaurant???

It's a bird! It's a plane! No! It's a restaurant???

There is a themed restaurant that recently opened in the Yangtze River City of Chongqing. I guess in a city of 20 million people, one needs to come up with fresh and innovative ideas to attract customers and stand out from the competition. Well mission accomplished.

DC Super Class Restaurant is a themed restaurant built around the idea of an A380 airbus. Windows, carpets, lighting, and even the waitress uniforms all adhere to the ambience of this popular flying air taxi. This 28-table, 100-seat restaurant is known for Chongqing's most popular dish, hotpot, a spicy dish cooked right at the table.

And yes, there is a call flight attendant button to flag down your waitress. Interested in adding this new restaurant to your client’s next trip to China, feel free to let us know.

Happy long weekend,

Otis Ashby

Sales & Operations

Friday, May 11, 2012

JetBlue. Best of the worst?

JetBlue is one of those carriers that you always read about in the paper but usually for the wrong reasons. The stories sound unbelievable and have the makings of a bad Seinfeld episode. I have never flown with JetBlue but based on what I read about in the media, I think it will be in my best interest not to fly with them based on some of the following stories.
  • 8 month toddler removed from plane because she was on the no fly list - May 10, 2012
  • Passenger put pilot in chokehold when he started acting strangely - March 28, 2012
  • A passenger accused of punching a flight attendant and trying to bite his face - Nov 30, 2011
  • Passengers stuck on tarmac for 7 hours on a plane - Nov 7, 2011
  • JetBlue flight attendant flips out, grabs beer, quits job & gets arrested - Aug 10, 2010
You would think that these incidents would deter most people from flying with this discount carrier. Well you are wrong.  JetBlue actually surpassed their profit expectations last quarter and banked thirty million dollars. Yikes! And surprisingly, Skytrax has designated them as the highest rated airline in the United States, and the country's only four-star airline.

As Canadians, we are pretty much stuck with two airline carriers. And although they have both let me down from time to time, I would rather fly with these guys than have my next flight incident uploaded to YouTube. Now if the government could only fix those taxes…


Otis Ashby
Sales & Operations

Friday, May 4, 2012

Language is a Bridge Not a Barrier

Well, here I am in YVR airport getting ready for my flight to Shanghai. As with every overseas trip, I have a set ritual before boarding my 10 hour plus flight.

  1. Peruse the duty free merchandise hoping to find a deal and then walking out empty handed because I know I can find it for cheaper.
  2. Order a burger and fries and admire the larger than life Native Art in the terminal.
  3. Buy the biggest coldest bottle of water I can find.
  4. Pick up a bag of sour Rainbow coloured Skittles.
  5. Review my phrase book of popular Mandarin phrases.
Considering the amount of times I have been to China, most would think I would have a pretty good control of the language. Well, I don't. Unfortunately, foreign languages is something I have always struggled with. So my work around it is to load up my Blackberry with an audible Chinese dictionary and phrase book. It allows me to roam the streets of China carefree knowing that if I find myself in a jam, I always have my dictionary handy.

As a tourist in China, here are some of my favourite phrases that I have also been able to commit to memory.

1. Ni hao (knee how) - Hello! If you must learn one expression this is the one to know. On the flip side, hello is also one of the few words the local vendors know.

2. Xie xie (shay-shay) - Thanks! As Canadians, this is another must word for us.

3. Pi jiu (peejo) - Beer. Chinese beer has little alcohol so ordering a beer or two is refreshing but not intoxicating. Have too many peejos and you might be asking for the...

4. Ce suo (che sow) - The happy room aka the toilet. If you have a small bladder you may want to ask this question ahead of time as some bathrooms are quite far from where you are eating.

5. Wo jie hun le (wo gee hu-when la) - When a pretty lady asks you if you would like massagee (not a massage) Quickly state this phrase, point at your wedding band and quickly walk away. If you are not married or interested you could always use the other phrase...

6. Tai gui le (tai gwey la) - Too expensive. Be careful though as this this can sometimes backfire as you may now find yourself in a bidding war over a massagee you do not really want.

Zai jian! (Goodbye)

Otis Ashby
Sales & Operations