Thursday, 26 October 2017

Bagan accommodation Unbeatable location and value - Thande Hotel in Old Bagan

View from outdoor bar - sunset 

Buffet breakfast under the giant Acacia trees - river views

5 minutes' walk from the hotel, climb a temple for the sunrise

Pool and spa area - perfect for cooling off after morning touring

We stayed in a very comfortable Superior Bungalow (Garden view). No need to pay double the rate for a River view room (they face west so you cannot sit outside - too hot in the afernoon). The killer view is in the outdoor bar and restaurant under shady trees. Agoda price was lower than hotel website.
Rooms spotless, comfy beds, excellent toiletries for a 3 star hotel, even gowns in the room. The location is unbeatable. Free wifi.
Buffet breakfast catered for all. Dinner meals around from US$10. Five minutes walk to Uncle Lay's Restaurant (Delicious meals from $AUD2.50, $1 Rum Sour, $2 beer!). A torch is available at Reception for night walks.
You can hire e-bikes from hotel or down the road (a bit cheaper). ATM on site. You can pay in US$ (no change given so do your maths) or kyat or credit card. Great to relax by the attractive pool after a morning of touring. Loved watching the squirrels from our private verandah.
Just be wary of the foot of the bed. My wife and I knocked our feet on the exposed wooden edges.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Climbing the temples of Bagan and other travel tips

We thought the Myanmar Government had cracked down on climbing temples but as of October 2017, tourists can still climb numerous temples in Bagan.  Many temples have access to upper levels via internal stairways (watch your head and bring a torch). Souvenir sellers are only too pleased to lead you in the right direction (just look at their wares afterwards). No pressure, though.

Remove shoes (climbing is easier anyway), no shorts, no socks, no singlets. Wear long pants or sarongs.

This temple (5 mins walk from Bagan Thande Hotel) is perfect for sunrise viewing

The 13 storey viewing tower on the edge of the historical area is an alternative. Views are comparable to views from balloons (a Bagan bargain at $US5 admission vs $US 350) Balloons can not fly over temple area.

Go to the Bagan Viewing Tower (near Nyaung-U Airport) before 9 a.m. so the sun is behind you for best view of the temple area.

Waiting for sunrise

Bring a torch and mind your head.

Follow the e-bikes for the best view

e-bike hire is cheap , top speed 40km/h, easy to ride

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

New Sofitel City Centre, Singapore - Review

Accor's newest hotel in Singapore opened in October 2017. Singapore now has three Sofitels: the funky, boutique style Sofitel So; Sofitel Sentosa (resort style) and now the 20 floor Sofitel City Centre, sitting half in the business district and half in Chinatown.

* The hotel is located above Tanjong Pagar MRT (which has direct access to Changi Airport rail line).
* Interesting locale - heritage area
* Adjoining huge Virgin Active Gym

* Lacks the wow-factor that Sofitel is renowned for.
* Small Club Lounge, seems cramped. Self-serve wine gizmo dispenses room temperature white wine???
* Many of the staff are overly friendly rather than professional.

Magnificently restored shophouses, 2 minutes walk from the hotel

Expansive pool/spa area. Rooftop 30 metre infinity pool. Limited shaded areas.

Old meets new

Opt for the Chinatown shophouses view (rather than pool/skyscaper view), no direct sunlight in your room throughout the day.
Barrel-aged cocktails in 1864 Bar

Racines restaurant
Every room gets a Smartphone with free calls and data. Great for ordering sightseeing tickets at discounted prices.

Club Lounge (Club Millesime) adjoints the pool area. The lounge is quite small compared to other hotel lounges.
Afternoon Tea at Club Millesime