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Gossips & Travel Stories

Service in the Tourism Industry here and there -
Still a long Way to go...

What a surprise expected my daughter and me vacationing in the States and Europe...

I thought, why not to start our leisure in Hong Kong. My friend from Singapore Airlines gave me one of  the "top" addresses there to show me a bit of Hong Kong in one day and the tour guide obviously got instructions from his agency to just drop us at the Victoria Peak - and there he taught me a kind of a lesson: 'You just go straight there, have a look and you are back in half an hour, ok?' Mrs. grest, md of myanmar travel, and yolanda in hong kong
In Hong Kong - with or without guide?

Ohhhh Kayyyyyyy - I got it! PLEEEEASE in any case, if ever one of my guides read these lines, just IGNORE that one, ohhh kayyy? 

Sam and Theresa, nevertheless! Thank you for trying...

Anyhow, we didn't make it in 30 minutes as we not only enjoyed the dazzling panorama of Hong Kong Island but also - to the delight of my daughter - ended up in, guess what!: Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium...

At least, dear Agnes, I will forgive you as the service of Singapore Airlines was great and incomparable...

Indeed, it is very relaxing for once a while just being the client and to enjoy the service of not only ground handling operators in other countries, but also nice and decent hotels far away from Myanmar - that's what I thought!

In early June we arrived in San Francisco and we checked into a hotel at Union Square, described by quikbook.com as "Located near Union Square, ...complimentary shuttle service is also provided to Union Square (was never offered to us...), Moscone Convention Center and Civic Center each weekday morning, and a manager’s wine reception every evening (??? wouldn't we have just loved it???). The Oak Room Grill is also available - last renovation - 98."

My daughter - as usual - checked immediately the bathroom and came grinning back with the remark that even in a one-star hotel in Myanmar she hadn't seen a bathroom in such a state; it must have been undergone renovation 50 years ago - but alas, we were on vacation and not spending the whole day in a bathroom!

While I was taking my shower my daughter was very excited to watch some U.S. TV (for the first time in her life) - so there was some disappointment to find out that the TV just showed lots of "snow"... 

Apart from the very friendly staff at the reception, we experienced an extremely unfriendly service at breakfast, a poor house-keeping - leaving the dust in the room instead in the bin - and the jet lag we suffered could not been overcome, as at night we heard a fire alarm; but we were not informed, and only by peeping out  we saw firemen walking hastily up the stairs - so we decided to just throw anything on and then take our handbags and leave the room, taking the stairs down to where we saw a crowd of sleepy travelers discussing what was going on... indeed nothing, and as far as I try to remember until today, there also was no manager in sight...I think we decided to go back to our rooms!


Buddhist monks at universal studios, usa
Monks at Universal Studios

Well, San Francisco was a great city, but we had difficulties to get internet access... considering how many inquiries we get from the States and Europe and HOW important internet access is - well, well, I TOTALLY agree with you all, but be assured it's no big difference being a traveler in Myanmar or in USA or Europe.

Talking about internet, we tried it again in Las Vegas. Ok, ok, we know gambling and shows are the main attractions, and it was fine to write mails to the office with the sound of the one-armed bandits in the back.

To get a quieter place we tried an internet place at the strip: I just finished one mail, when the owner came and said, that I have only 5 more minutes time left; then the computer has to be shut down because of electricity problems. Not mentioning that, as here in Myanmar we have been living half of our life with a generator, it was a total scream for us to experience that in Las Vegas!.

But, in Los Angeles everything should be ok, as, hm... what did I read once?...L.A. is where the American Dream is manufactured....


Well, this time we were sure that we will get what we paid for and dreamed of! Just because the hotel at the Hollywood Boulevard was equipped with everything a 3 - 4-star hotel needs to have...After having stepped on the Walk of Fame - and we even were rewarded with a glimpse at some of the African American award winners (still not sure whether we saw the stars or their body guards (?) - anyway, what a thrill for the girls! - we went back to the hotel and wanted to start writing our e-mails.

Stars and bodyguard at june 2002 award
Stars (?) and bodygard at June 2002 award 

With a smile the receptionist told us that at 9 p.m. the business center is closed. But why don't we go 2 more blocks and try it there (I got a similar answer at another LA hotel near the airport a month later....)? But this time we were quite demanding, so we got a laptop for rent (the receptionist just remembered that we could do that!), which was very fine with us.


Khin sabea and yolanda
The two sisters Khin Sabea and Yolanda

My stepdaughter set all up and then realized that there was no internet access at all and after an hour she was asked to come down to the lobby so they can fix it.

Well, they never could, because they just remembered that the antenna was at the wrong side of the roof respectively was not suitable for the room where we stayed.

Next morning the assistant manager was so charming to offer us a suite as a peace offer for all the inconveniences we had gone through. "No, no, no I don't wanna suite, I wanna send my mails... "; but at the end I gave in, and it took the staff almost a day to bring all our luggage to the suite. There we tried our luck again, and... we found out, that the antenna didn't want to play the game at the suite too...which  was also the wrong direction! No problem, I told myself, tomorrow I'll use the business center - opening time: 8 a.m.

The other day I slipped my credit card into the machine, and oh wonder, I was so amazed by the technic: It actually debited my credit card - but the internet access was out of order. Thanks God, that in this hotel the staff serving breakfast at the restaurant was extremely professional and helping us to overcome our frustration just by giving us the impression of Switzerland in olden days. steve wryck trying to be copperfield!
Steve Wyrick trying to be Copperfield!

And how lucky could we consider ourselves to have friends and that we had the chance to use their computers! We tried so hard to use the service in the different hotels from 2 up to 5 stars - we tried it all, but it seemed the technic was against us!

Arriving in New York, we just promised ourselves that we won't even ask, neither at the hotel nor somewhere else. The words "internet" and "e-mail" were t a b u.

When I booked the hotel in New York, I did the same what so many travelers are doing here in Myanmar: They want to see the famous Strand Hotel  so here I am in New York, going to stay a couple of nights at the Waldorf Astoria! Arriving at the main entrance with our yellow cab, the bell boy told the taxi driver NOT to stop there, but to take the back door - I didn't know that New Yorker bell boys could judge through a taxi window what kind of clients sit inside the car...

But alas, the "back entrance" didn't want us neither and I checked my daughter whether she maybe did some faces behind my back to them, but no, I should have known her better, she never did that before, so why now? Only after I insisted to the taxi driver, he dared to stop again in front of the main entrance. When getting out I asked the bell boy if we should check in to the Plaza as it seems they did not wanted more hotel guest...But he refused telling us that that would be the competition :)

At the reception we were greeted very warmly and finally checked into our room. The receptionist told us that we would looove the room. We did it for 10 minutes till we heard someone coughing. We couldn't find anyone in the closets; nevertheless we found out it was our neighbor - oh my, I rushed to see my travel documents, probably I had booked the servant room which they also sold for much less money!

Just to be sure before complaining - I checked, but no, no,  NO servant room, a real, real Waldorf Astoria room. Ok, now I COULD dare to complain and we were immediately transferred to another room - the favorite room of the lovely receptionist, who was really a jewel.


But probably she only had seen the room and never the bathroom, as this place must have had received the final touch ages ago...this time even I was a bit puzzled, because I do know how much our American clients care about bathrooms!

Just to make it short, also the Waldorf Astoria had its "whims".

Bathroom basin at waldorf astoria, new york, usa
Bathroom basin at the Waldorf
Astoria

At least the security door system was SECURE. We never managed to use our electronic key at night - the door was just locked, as LOCKED as could be, and we had to phone house keeping and to wait 15 minutes until we could finally enter our room.

BUT all in all, our vacation was great, we enjoyed it a lot, laughed a lot and finally we got really homesick to the country where we always got such a good service with a sincere smile and never ending patience...

Mingalabar from Myanmar!


Travel stories:


A Glimpse into the World's most secretive Country
!NEW!
 
(October 2008)

 
Competition can sometimes be fierce, but also must be fair and legal   (August 2007)
My favourite place in the Golden Triangle  (June 2007)
Finding the Touch of the OC in a tiny Burmese Village (OC Metro) (March 2005)
EU's Hollow Lectures on Human Rights (IHT) (June 2004)
"Pass the Nyapi, Please!" (February 2004)
Travel Report from International Travel News (ITN) (June 2003)
Adventures with the Tuesday Club (March 2003)
About Myanmar Rumours and Unspoilt Beaches (October 2002)
Service in the Tourism Industry here and there - Still a long Way to go... (Summer 2002)
Near the Land of the Golden Triangle (May 2000)
A Heavenly Journey to Mt. Victoria (April 1999)
Shin Pyu Ceremony (April 1999)

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1999 Myriam Grest Thein