Make Sure Your Luggage Can Be Easily Identified
On a recent flight I disembarked the aircraft, stopped at the newsagents to purchase a local newspaper and then headed down to the baggage carousel to collect my suitcase. The flight had been fully booked and there was a large crowd waiting as the luggage came out to the eager passengers. A couple of times a suitcase that looked mine came towards me on the carousel. I pushed through the crowd, struggled to get it off the carousel only to find it wasn’t mine. Eventually the crowd thinned and there was only one bag was left on the carousel. Unfortunately this suitcase looked similar to mine but it belonged to someone else.
Downcast I headed to the airline’s Baggage Services Counter. The airline’s customer service agent quickly realized what had happened. Someone (the owner of the bag on the carousel) had taken my suitcase in error and as he had not put a baggage name label on his bag there was not much that could be done until he realized his mistake. Apparently this happens all too frequently. The airline phoned me later that night to advise me the passenger who had taken my bag had finally been in touch. Unfortunately after arriving and grabbing my suitcase he had jumped in a rent-a-car and headed six hours inland. It would be a further 24 hours before I had my luggage!
That day I learnt a lesson, it was just as important for other people to realize that my bag was not theirs as it was for me to recognize it on the carousel. These days I don’t tie yellow ribbons or tinsel to the handle I just have a smart hotspots2shop.com luggage strap around my suitcase. It distinguishes my suitcase from all the others and I recognize as soon as it makes an appearance. At the same time it gives my suitcase and its contents added protection. Money well spent and I recommend them to all travelers. They are available now from our online shop.
Bangkok – Dec 2014
Once again I have joined with the fabulous Rembrandt Hotel in Bangkok to come up with a package for 2014 Christmas shopping and some relaxing time prior to the busy holiday season. I will be there between 8th to 12th December so why not join me for a wonderful week of shopping, eating and fun in fabulous Bangkok.
Thailand – Nov 2013
Past tours have included Kuala Lumpur with more shopping centres than anywhere else in Asia. A morning cookery course where we got to eat the food we had prepared. A night out with local business women seeing the small businesses they had set up in KL showing us another aspect to this amazing city.A day trip to Malacca. Great photo opportunities of the Twin Tours at night as we lay on our backs at the foot of the towers.
Bangkok – Dec 2012
December and Christmas shopping in Bangkok is always a highlight even for me, the opportunity to pick up not only bargains but something different to make Christmas a special time. Different decorations, wonderful wrapping paper and even ribbons. Meeting up each evening for pre-dinner drinks and checking out the latest dining sensation as well markets and shopping centres.
Vietnam – 2012
Another to Vietnam, starting with an overnight cruise on the mystic Halong Bay.Shopping for laquareware, artwork and a myriad of scarves and silk material and eating in Hanoi. On to Hoi An relaxing in the local spas in between tailoring and shoe making appointments. Finally basing ourselves in Ho Chi Minh City for even more shopping and more art work and for tours to the Mekong Delta and the tunnels before returning home with maybe too much luggage from all the shopping opportunities.
November 2011 Newsletter
Our trip to Bangkok for the Shopping Guru at the Rembrandt Hotel was a mixture of old and new friends and everybody voted it a great success.
We started the frivolities at The Café on the 1st floor at the RembrandtHotel where we enjoyed a lovely Thai meal and got to know one another. It was delightful to have a family flavor with June joining her daughters Maree and Camille.
First morning we sorted out the use of the sky rail card which came with our shopping package and then used the sky rail to get to the Emporium Shopping Mall where we all had a great deal of fun spending our 1000 baht shopping voucher which was also part of the package. Sue had trouble spending hers but one thing about a group of shopper the others were quickly on hand to help her out.
As usual on this trip Jim Thompson’s factory outlet with its many bargains in small gifts, home wares and beautiful fabric was great hit. We spent time in Platinum Fashion Mall, this mall of several floors with a multitude of small shops selling fashion with children’s clothing a great buy, but the best find was a hat shops selling some fascinators, many under $10, there will be some great head gear at Melbourne Cup luncheons this year and June who is a guest at a wedding was able to find a suitable facinator!
Each evening we gathered in the executive lounge of the Rembrandt, again part of our package and enjoyed drinks and nibbles while we discussed the day, what we had brought or what we were going to do the next day. The staff in the lounge, as are all te staff at the Rembrandt, were fantastic and were helpful with extra shopping hints and making sure that drinks were kept flowing.
We went to Gail Dwyer-Gerrard of Ethan’s Accents Jewelery’shome and had a private viewing of her fantastic jewellery collection. I must admit several of us brought some of her exquisite pieces, well worth a look if you are heading to Bangkok and I believe she will soon be bringing her collection to Australia.
It was a tossup whether the cooking class at the Blue Elephant or afternoon tea at the Oriental was the favourite. The Blue Elephant is easy to get to as it is opposite the Surasak Sky train At the cooking school we watched as our teacher showed us how to make each recipe and then adjourned to the well-equipped kitchen to try ourselves. However one of the highlights was a meal of the food we had prepared in their delightful restaurant. We all left with copies of our recipes as well as a little goody bag of curry pastes, and other ingredients to use when we got home.
The afternoon tea in the Authors Lounge at the Oriental Hotel was a great opportunity to relax and be waited on in beautiful surrounding. Our only problem here was the extra cool air conditioning, why do so many Asians feel the need to cool down building to near on freezing temperatures.
Something different was the Calypso Cabaret which is a transvestite one and half hour cabaret show at the Asia Hotel. The small theatre meant we were able to get a good view of the fantastic costumesand makeup of the stars of the show and several of our group waited at the end to have their photos taken with the actors.
Our last night was time to swap email address, reminisce about shopping bought and shopping left behind and to talk about where to next! We ate at what I consider to be Thailand’s best Indianrestaurant the Rang Mahal.On the top floor of the Rembrandt Hotel the view of Bangkok is fantastic and the food is superb. We had party masks and there was loads of laughter and great food to say farewell.
Flooding in Thailand
Over the past weeks, seasonal rains that have been heavier than usual have resulted in flooding in Thailand. Airports including Suvarnabhumi Airport have been affected
Our hearts go out to the people of Thailand in these dreadful floods. One of the festivals that will be effected by the floods is Loi Krathong, the Festival of Lights scheduled from1 to 30th of November when the full moon of the 12th lunar month lights up the night sky, throughout Thailand, and is when thousands of decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats are set adrift in rivers and waterways in a spell-binding ritual called Loi Krathong. It is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love but this year many will just be hoping to be blessed with survive.
Also the Phimai Festival from10-13 November the traditional long-boat races and the Royal Barge Procession will be affected by the floods. Normally people line the banks for this festival.
If you would like to help the people of Thailand in their hour of need The Royal Thai Consulate, Sydney has launched a relief appeal to help those affected. You can also help make a different by donating:
Thai Relief Appeal:
BSB 062070 Account No 10290038
Fake goodshave become a problem worldwide however it is something that we usually attribute to Asia rather than Australia so it was a surprise to learn that hundreds of fake designer handbags worth over $1 million were seized at Parklea Markets in western Sydney.Police say they raided the markets and seized more than 500 counterfeit handbags bearing brand names including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Burberry and Prada.
Officers also raided a house at Stanhope Gardens, where they allegedly seized more fake handbags, footwear and other accessories. It is probably a timely reminder to all that this is an illegal business.
Hot Spots to Sleep at Airports
Airport is always coming up with new ways to look after wary transit passengers. Those flying through Dubai International Airport can now catch some rest by staying in a ‘Snooze Cube’. Ten sound-proofed units have been installed at Dubai’s Terminal 1 and each unit contains a full-sized bed, touch-screen TV offering a selection of entertainment and music, as well as high-speed internet. You can hire by the hour for under $20.00 per hour.
Those of you who love something a little different for yourself or to give at Christmas will find Shining Inspirationswho sell fantastic beaten stainless steel at The Boutique Markets,to be held at Portside Hamilton,39 Hercules Street, Hamilton on Sunday morning on 13th November from 0900-1300. There will be another two markets in December The twilight market from 5pm – 9pm on the 9th December and then subsequently the last one before Christmas is on the 11th December from 0800-1500.
The Boutique Market Website is www.boutiquemarkets.com.au
September 2011 Newsletter
I have only just got back from two wonderful shopping trips, the first to KL and the second to Bangkok and I am madly running around getting organised for a holiday with my special man.
The trip to Kuala Lumpa went really well and we all enjoyed ourselves.
From having our feet pampered by the local fish to learning to cook Malaysian style to shopping up a storm it was a fun filled week.
You can see from the look on my face that the fish were not my favourite but I know that many love this type of pedicure. (Cheryl I will send a photo to insert here)
The cooking class at LaZat Malaysian Home Cooking School was lots of fun.
Malaysian food is a fascinating blend of cuisine, a fusion of diverse cultures, predominantly Malay, Chinese, Indian and Baba. We watched as our teachers, local woman with a flair for cooking, showed us how to cook each dish before we then tried these ourselves. We then all gathered around the table and eat the food we had prepared and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.
(Will send a photo for here)
The classes are hands on, held Tuesdays to Saturdays in the mornings and presented in English in an entertaining manner by Malaysian ladies who have lived overseas. The location is a contemporary Malaysian home in a suburb, approx. 25 minutes from Kuala Lumpur city centre; they will arrange transfer for a small fee.
We also had a lovely evening at Annabel McKenzie’s home which looks out on KL and the lights twinkled at us as we had a great time trying on the various clothes she has imported from India. She had gathered some other local ladies and we loved the bags made by Francis. Lee from Lee’s Beads could not be there but Annabel had some of her products and also Kerry Grant who makes the bags I love.
If anybody is travelling in a group to Kl do get in touch with Annabel and she will arrange to show you her wares, well worth the effort.
One day we had lunch at Peter Hoe’s this lovely shop has plenty to keep you shopping but also a lovely little restaurant selling lovely salads and light lunches. We shopped the markets found a gem of a bag shop and shopped in both upmarket malls and markets stalls.
I will tell you more about Bangkok and what we found there next month.
Congratulations to Valerine with a Yahoo email address who is the winner of two nights at the Rembrandt Hotel in Bangkok. We stayed there on our shopping trip to Bangkok and it really is the ideal location for shopping and just relaxing. We will be in touch with you Valerine and let you know how to claim your prize.
(Cheryl can we put some photos of the hotel or something here)
On a sad note I was really sorry to read that the famous Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill closing down
The Travel Bookshop, made famous in the film Notting Hill as Hugh Grant’s place of work, is closing down after 32 years. The bookshop has been a landmark for both tourists and locals. A group of poets and writers are volunteering to work for free if a buyer can be found for shop. It is sad that in this modern age many of the final old shops can no longer complete so don’t forget to support your local shops so that they are not forced to close down.
Dates for your diary of you are travelling to Hong Kong the National Day Race Day (horse racing) is on the 1 October 2011 at Sha Tin Racecourse
The National Day Race Day has long been one of the highlights of Hong Kong’s racing calendar. Every year, the Hong Kong Jockey Club stages the National Day Cup, along with a range of cultural performances at Sha Tin racecourse, to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The event attracts thousands of visitors from diehard racing fans to the uninitiated.
Also later on the same day the 2011 National Day Fireworks Display starts at 9pm and continues for approximately 23 minutes). Grab a vantage point along Victoria Harbour and join the huge crowds heading to Victoria Harbour to celebrate the People’s Republic of China’s 62nd birthday with a glittering harbour fireworks display.
(Cheryl you may find a picture on the Hong Kong tourist website)
Many of you write and ask about medical procedure in Thailand so for more information check out the article on medical care in Thailand article by Richard DeAndrea MD, ND at http://www.tatnews.org/emagazine/5588.asp
Finances on holiday
• Debit and credit cards can be used at ATM around the world but check your card provider to ensure you can use your card in the country you are visiting, also check your banks charges and be aware that there can also be a local bank charge.
• Traveller’s cheques are a safe substitute for cash; if they are lost or stolen they can be replaced easily. Usually they can be exchanged for local currency at banks, hotels or some shops. Remember there could be a charge for exchanging traveller’s cheques. Record the cheque numbers and kept in a separate area from the cheques
• Check with your bank or foreign exchange bureau if there is a discount on fees for ordering currency on line or in advance, if you order with Travelex online and collect at one of their branches there is no commission charged
• Have a small coin purse to separate your home currency from your foreign currency, you can then simply return to your wallet on your way home. This way you won’t be trying to buy the paper on your return with foreign coins. Also handy if you are visiting several countries
• If there is a few of you travelling together have a separate wallet or purse with a kitty to pay for taxis, coffees or small items that you share together.
• If there is a big group consider one of the debit cards that you can put money on before you leave and use this to pay for accommodation, meals and transport you are sharing
• Check up on tipping in the country you are visiting, is it considered correct to tip in many countries. Work on a $1 per bag for porterage, at restaurants check to see if service fee has been added if not tip. Always tip if you feel you have been offered extra service.
• Keep exchange slips as these may be required if you want to exchange money back into your home currency
• If visiting Vietnam do not take local currency out of the country as you will be unable to exchange it. Coins from any country cannot be exchanged, drop them in the charity box at the airport or on board the plane.
• Always have a backup credit/debit card you can access in case of emergency
• Don’t have any credit card purchases made in your own currency, I have found that this is never as good an exchange rate as allowing your bank to do it, you are at the mercy of the shop keeper or their bank if your ask for it to be exchanged when you purchase
• Have a print out of exchange rates that you can easily consult when you are buying, there is one in the back of each Hot Spots to Shop book.
Website of the month
Have loads of good travel medical advice and also a good newsletter for those of you that travel regularly
July 2011 Newsletter
I am busy packing my bags for a tour of KL and all the shopping and eating delights that bring and then in Bangkok at the Rembrandt Hotel where I will be Shopping Guru in residence for shopping eating and spa.
Both trips are going to be loads of fun, in KL I have arranged with Annabel to have a private viewing for our Hot Spots shoppers of the Zari Collection This is a home-based business owned by Kuala Lumpur couple Sugu and Annabel. Their stylish range of carefully selected handmade textiles from India supports the local handicraft industries of India. Since everything is handmade there are never two pieces the same. We will see printed cotton kantha stitched bedcovers, silk bedcovers made from old sari fabric, hand blocked and hand stitched bedcovers from Jaipur, hand blocked tablecloths, cushion covers, kaftans, organdie cutwork tablecloths and runners, fabulous old throws with fine kantha stitching, plus a unique collection of contemporary jewellery from Jaipur, and a selection of fine pashminas, silk and wool shawls along with designer silk and wool scarves. They only do viewing by appointment, but if a group of you are going shopping to Kuala Lumpur like we are, email them ahead of time and arrange to see their collection. They obviously have a great eye and I know you won’t be disappointed. Email Annabel at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be in Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival which runs from the 15th June to the 31st August 2011. Kuala Lumpur is a shopper’s paradise so think of us roaming the malls picking up great bargains. Of course we won’t get to visit all the 70 shopping malls but we will certainly get to the cream of them. I am packing lightly and am aware of new restrictions on luggage.
One of the things I am most excited about is a cooking class at Lazat Malaysian Home Cooking School This course was recommended to me by a KL expat Melanie who considers it one of the best. I will tell you all about it next month.
The Rembrandt Hotel has lots of exciting goodies waiting for us at in Bangkok our stay includes a wonderful massage in their spa, I had a couple massages there last visits to the hotel and I think it was one of many highlights of my stay. Of course readers will be well aware that my favourite restaurants is the Rang Mahal – The Best Indian Restaurant in Thailand, situated on the 26th floor of the hotel, you get a brilliant view of Bangkok as you dine.
Of course we are there to shop so we looking forward to privately viewing of Gail Dwyer-Gerrard of Ethan’s Accents jewellery. We are planning a cooking class as well as loads of shopping fortunately we will be there for the weekend markets so I will be leading the group around this wonderful exciting market to see what great finds we can come up with.
There are a couple of rooms left or this tour so if you have some free time from the 10 to the 16th August and maybe some points you want to use, or even take advantage of the cheap fares out at the moment go to the hotels website and book your room. If you have any trouble just contact me.
I am working on my hand luggage and what you carry onto an aircraft. I am trying to get it to a minimum as I know I will be leaving Brisbane and passing through Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok’s airports so don’t want to be carrying a load of things. I will also be using two different airlines one full service the other low cost so they will have different rules. I have a clear bag which for liquids in, which includes my make up and any medication. On the long haul flights I have a small purse in which I have a pair of socks which I slip on once we are in the air and also an eye mask to block out light. Try as I might I cannot wear ear plugs but if you can include those. In the plastic bag I have a small container of moisturizer and a lip balm. If there is an opportunity once I have passed security I buy a bottle of water but check as some airport such as Bangkok you pass a final security check prior to keeping onto the aircraft and they don’t allow bottles of any liquid. If you don’t have water ask the flight attendant for one early in the flight. I always carry a light shawl or pashmina which I can throw around my shoulders if I am cold. Low cost carriers do not carry blankets and I often feel chilly on flights. Other than that I have my music and something to read.
If you can’t join me I will tell you all about the trip next month.
Happy Shopping Wendy
In response to increasing consumer demand from the Australia market, Hawaiian Airlines announced that its Sydney-Honolulu flights will go daily year-round, starting December 14. This is great news as with the Australian dollar so string against the America dollar you can have a great time in the shops.
You may be able to find a plane off their website)
An America site but with the current rate of the dollar well worth looking at this site created by Jenny Frederick, this online store to sells creative and colourful packing products. Gathered together to simplify the pre-trip frenzy, Jenny set out to create a single source for all things needed to travel in style. TravelingChic.com was born out of a love for travel and a need for travel products that are as fun and inspiring as the trip itself.
The winner of the two nights at the Rembrandt Hotel in Bangkok is ………….. Remember it is not too late to join the shopping guru trip and use your two nights straight away.
May 2011 Newsletter
I have had a busy month as my mother has moved from Cairns to Brisbane so we have been out and about together buying furniture, making curtain and buying plants for her new garden. One of the only downside of her move was that due to the fire ants in Cairns she had to leave her great collection of plants behind. So to make up I got out my Suellen Retschlag Op Shoppers Guide and we hit the nearby ops shop and found some lovely plant pots that she was bale to fill with new plants. (Cheryl if we do a more information and hide her website underneath www.opshoppersguide.com, also you should be able to get an image of the cover off her website).
I also had a trip to cairns to sort out my Mothers home up there and met up with many friends including Cairns Airport GM commercial and terminals, Kate McCreery-Carr and she told me all about a new health and beauty concept store has opened its doors in the domestic terminal departure lounge at Cairns Airport in Queensland.
Proprietor, Rajiv Bhindi, has launched the first ever Health + Beauty Express store which is a concept that grew out of his existing Airport Pharmacy located within Adelaide Airport, Kate said “We congratulate Raj and his team on their striking new store with its distinctive black and white décor and beautiful product range,”
If you are flying in or out of Cairns look out for their exclusive range of convenient travel size items that also meet the current regulations for international travel, including gorgeous miniature bottles of many top name fragrances. (Cheryl if yu Google the pharmacy there should be an imagine we can use.)
The Australian dollar has made travelling overseas a great bargain, hard I know for our own tourism sector but great if you love shopping, for once the fact that you will have Australian dollars will be even better than American dollars. Time to plan your trip with me to Kula Lumpur in early August or our Shopping Guru trip the second week in Bangkok.
Don’t forget to wear a white shirt on the 19th May The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) invites Australians to show their commitment to fighting ovarian cancer and supporting the thousands of Australian women and their families who are affected by this insidious disease.
The inaugural White Shirt Day is an OCRF initiative to garner collective support for this important cause. Ovarian cancer may not be the most common cancer in women but it is certainly one of the most life-threatening. There are no discernable symptoms for ovarian cancer and currently there is no early detection test. As such, the disease is usually well-advanced when diagnosed and subsequently the mortality rate is tragically high.
In Australia alone, one woman dies of ovarian cancer every ten hours.
Early detection is the key to changing this devastating statistic – the OCRF is committed to advancing research so that an early detection test can be developed.
For more information www.ocrf.com.au (Cheryl the website probably has an imagine we can use maybe the silver ribbon)
I was lucky enough to enjoy a Food Tour T Sensational Flavours tour last week. A new option for locals and tourist alike in Brisbane the tours have been put together by Jacqueline Gregory. Jacqui obviously has a passion for food and has put together several tours highlighting some fabulous food places in Brisbane.
We started the day at Mayfield Chocolates and tasted their magnificent handmade award winning chocolates. Next was real love of locals Black Pearl Epicure, where we got to taste cheese and dips from their array of brilliant gourmet foods. Onto Di Bella Coffee where we heard all about roasting and barista skills and a exquisite coffee.
A real surprise for me was Mistress of Spice where we tried dips and I must admit I brought some superb spices. Wray Organics was next and I couldn’t get over the quality of their organic foods, we washed that down with a freshly made beetroot, carrot, and apple and ginger juice. Judy at Cakes by Judy C showed us her wonderful designer cakes and some gorgeous sweet tooth samples. Heinz Meats was a favourite for me as my Father was a butcher in country Victoria and I remember the smoke house and sausage machines that Heinz showed us and also some impressive smoked, cured and locally produced continental meats he allowed us to try. Samios Foods is a wonderful Greek produce store and we sample cheese and some really beautiful olives. It was all finished off at Cliffs Café where we overlooked the Brisbane River and city skyline as we ate Lick’s luscious ice cream.
All in all a really lovely day out and a great tour for those on holiday or a real treat for locals. Check out the website for a full list of tours. (Cheryl you should be able to get a snap maybe of the bus and we can hide the website wwwfoodtourt.com under more info)