Accommodation

再遊日本中部(3): 諏訪

上諏訪是著名的温泉區,在諏訪湖旁邊,四季景色宜人,夏天可以睇住煙花浸温泉。由名古屋去上諏訪車程約兩個半鐘頭,makes a good excursion from Nagoya.

我住在朱白温泉宿(www.suhaku.co.jp),open air bath and guest room有lake view, very nice. 幾本旅遊brochure都是用朱白的湖景温泉做宣傳。So I believed I stayed at the best view hotel. 朱白有兩個泉源,一紅一白,因而得其名。唔算好豪華,weekdays一泊二食約10000yen per person,很不錯。

諏訪出名釀酒,市內有五間清酒廠,有些offer sake brewery tour. 清酒廠好有文化,參觀時正舉行書展,間間酒商設個area賣書,吸引不少人流。

高島城的雪景很幽美

Fronzen lake! 

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再遊日本中部(1): 名古屋

日本好食好住好玩,樣樣有品質保證。地方乾淨,人helpful服務好。廉航機票平,日元滙價跌,真係想唔到更好的short trip destination。就是這樣,這半年內我去了三次日本。

今次飛名古屋,去年HK Express $2 mega sale時book,機票不用一千元,抵!

我喜歡名古屋的shopping area 荣。幾條街集中所有shops,有六七間department store,行一日都行唔晒。街道寬闊又有條理,比東京open and 舒服。中間有個公園,shopping時可出去get some fresh air。

TV Tower 矮矮的,附近夜景不錯。

 

第一晚行完街就去試名古屋名物矢場町炸豬排 (http://www.yabaton.com/modules/menu/index.php?content_id=1),最出名是其秘制味噌汁。好好味,炸豬排鬆化,味噌帶甜,撈飯一流!店內店外四周都是豬豬decoration,好得意。荣和矢場町站附近有四間分店,行完街飯食最方便。

名古屋不是太high rise,高少少的酒店都享有city view。I stayed at ANA Crowne Plaza Grand Court Nagoya,唔洗一千蚊一晚,已算是市內top hotel. 去名古屋比去東京經濟很多。

日本中部機場有全日本最大的outdoor look out, 睇飛機升降very cool. 我去那日好大風,仲凍過雪山的温度,very cold至真!

機場有好多間出名的餐廳的分店,臨走時我不放棄最後機會,吃了名古屋名物鰻魚飯。鰻魚飯的特色食法,一碗要分幾次食。首先是淨食,跟住是加wasabi and seaweed食,再跟住是撈湯食。

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十周年紀念旅行(6): 東京超值酒店

今次是我第一次飛去羽田機場,比成田機場近很多,交通便利又便宜。住在品川或檳松町站附近坐車去羽田機場很方便,兩個站都有direct train to Haneda airport. Takes only 15 minutes and 490 yen.
I stayed at Hotel Bayside Azur Takesiba (http://en.hotel-azur.com/). Seaview room可看到彩虹橋,個view 一流。間酒店正正常常唔太舊,間房在日本酒店中唔算細。
由酒店行去JR or Tokyo monorail車站 only 10 minutes walk, 沿路仲可見到東京鐵塔,夜景幾靚。由檳松町坐山手線去東京站only 6 minutes,去澀谷only 18 minutes. 另外hotel 門外就有train 去台場。Hotel location very good。
The best selling point of the hotel is the price. It costs only HK$452 for a double room! Where else can you find in Tokyo?
I will certainly stay there again, especially if I fly to Haneda airport. It’s so good value that my husband even asked me not to write about it; to keep it as a best kept secret of Tokyo!
Tips: hotels, booking, agoda等booking websites有時會比booking directly with hotel更平,記住check credit card or other website e.g. www.meethk.com 有冇promotion code for extra discount. 今次我在meethk找到hotels.com discount code, save 10%.

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Borneo(2): 5月4日

一星期一次的露天雜貨市場Sunday Market就在酒店門外,熱辣辣流住汗都要去逛逛。冇咩好買,但有時去旅行就係咁,明知冇嘢好睇都硬係要去睇吓先至心息。

在KK city 周圍行吓,真係冇乜好行。全KK最high class的shopping mall Suria Sabah有幾個國際品牌,可以唔去。其餘幾個shopping centres 就更加up dup到唔想行入去。

海岸望出去小島,個view幾靚,但水質不太乾淨,幾多垃圾。

Night market 日間原來是個car park! 真係唔知點解在咁嘅地方食嘢我都冇肚痛!

在酒店旁邊的Old House White Coffee,話自己係馬來西亞咖啡始祖。見到好多遊客帶着旅遊書入去,我當然要跟風!咖啡幾好味,不過後來我才知那是個chain store,不是unique的。

KK一日有三班機去Kuching,單程機票只需HK$122!我們幸運地坐Air Asia的100th plane,隻機有特別painting,幾cool!

由Kuching airport坐50分鐘車,去到Santubong Peninsula。入住只有14間房的boutique hotel Village House, no children under 12 allowed! 酒店好靚,mood lighting,唔怪得知Tripadvisor的reviews都話it’s a hidden gem.

Staff friendly and polite, 但我遇上了一插曲。沖涼時shower unit成個玻璃架連三大枝玻璃shower gel shampoo從牆上跌咗落來, 爛晒,all broken glass in the shower unit! Miraculously 我冇受傷!我去同個manager 講,佢第一instinct係話我打爛嘢,要收我錢!It took a few minutes to explain it’s not my fault. I should be charging them for the danger and shock! Then they agreed not to charge me,算冇事啦。

剛剛趕得切行去沙灘看日落,美!

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沖繩(7): 住

沖繩酒店price varies a lot,international hotel chains 要最少一二千蚊一晚,民宿都要最少$600。我今次第一次去沖繩,打算全日都在外面玩,不會花時間在酒店房hea,不會有太多機會用酒店facility。I don’t want to pay extra for what I don’t use, so I deliberately choose hotels that don’t have big swimming pools or water activities. 有時作決擇,就算不知道自己想要甚麼,清楚自己不想要甚麼,已是個good starting point.

第一晚我住在Kise Beach Palace Hotel, private beach就在酒店前面,超靚景。酒店冇泳池也冇大型水上活動中心,所以房價相對相宜,agoda.com 50% off, 只需$860。個海灘好靚,在露台看出去的景made me fall in love with Okinawa immediately. Hotel is 7 minutes drive to 名護市, 45 minutes drive to 水族館,方便去沖繩北面的景點,e.g. Aquarium and Orion beer factory.

第二晚Kise Beach Palace Hotel fully booked, Saturday night 好多酒店都好貴。我住在AJ Onna,也是在海邊有private beach,但環境完全不及Kise Beach,海灘水太淺, not suitable for swimming. AJ Onna好處在於it’s only 5 minutes walk to restaurant 恩納豚, no need to worry about drink and drive. Hotel charges $900, it’s one of the cheapest seafront hotel in Onna. Buffet breakfast costs only 630 yen, 可試多款沖繩菜,抵食!

第三晚住在那覇市唯一一間有真正温泉的酒店Loisir Spa Hotel. 它距離國際通十幾分鐘路程,在港口有海景。最正是在沖繩都浸到温泉,行完街回去relax, 爽呀!I paid only $660 for a double room, very reasonable, considering it charges $1800 for the night before my stay. 由酒店去機場只需10分鐘,非常方便。

Tips: 沖繩是popular weekend destination, 星期六晚房價比weekdays可貴一倍!那覇市最多平價酒店,但就city feel with no seaview. 要藍天碧海的beach resort, 可去大resort密集的安納海岸,或沖繩南部。雖然大部份towns and hotels都是沿海,但不是處處都有美麗beach access,所以揀酒店時要注意。

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克黑黑之旅(6) : 住宿篇

今次克黑黑之旅住了幾間有特色的酒店。
在波黑的Mostar,我住在一間博物館内。那是一間Ottoman時代建築,幸而沒有在内戰時候毁壞,是現存最美麗的Ottoman古屋。
古屋内有十五間房出租為酒店房,房間裝飾的木雕、地毯,很有土耳其特色,但又有先進的internet access and amenities。2010年Expedia Insider Select在全世界十四萬間酒店中選了該酒店為全世界的top ten hotel。整個經驗很特別,每一次出入都有人好奇地問那兒是否酒店,令我感到住在那裡有一份優越感。因博物館要按鐘才開門,而且長期有人看管,所以我不担心security問題。
博物館内展出五六百年前的傢具,以前關於古屋的文件。住客可以benefit from guided tour free of charge。
這樣另類的酒店,只是85歐羅一晚,超級超值。[click title for more]

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Brunei – Practical Information

Planning a trip to Brunei is easy. I share with you in this blog some practical tips when planning a trip to Brunei.

Travel books
Brunei is not big in tourism, there is only limited tourist information on the country. I bought a pdf version of the Brunei chapter on the Lonely Planet website, which costs me only US$1.75. It provides sufficient information to plan the trip so I didn’t read the Borneo Lonely Planet guide.

Flight
Royal Brunei Airline codeshares with Dragonair and flies direct to Bangar Seri Begawan. I booked my ticket on Royal Brunei Airline’s website, which mysteriously costs less than the Dragonair flight, even though they actually are the same codeshare flight. It costs me only $1800 for the air ticket (including taxes and charges), while it uusally costs more than $3000. Just keep checking until you find dates that have cheaper flights if you are flexible. Flight duration is 3 hours, but flight times are not that good. Departure flight leaves HK around 3pm. Return flight leaves BSB around 11am. So there is not much you can do on the first and last days of the trip apart from flying.

Hotel
MUST STAY at the Empire Hotel. I stayed in Sheration and went to visit another 5-star hotel Rizqun Hotel. Empire Hotel is so much better than the other two 5 star hotels, but doesn’t cost much more. Empire Hotel is further away from the city centre, but it is served by public bus. It is worth spending the extra time to travel to the Empire Hotel. The sheer extravagance of the hotel makes it a tourist attraction in its own right.
For budget travelers, 3-star hotel costs around HK$400 a night. However, smoking is very common in Brunei, so don’t be too upset if your room smells of cigarette. You get what you pay for. [click title for more......]

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北海道之旅:計劃篇

我不算是日本通,但可以在這裏share一下這次我用的research和booking tools。

機票

去札幌直航機有國泰和香港快運,機票都不平,package就通常都包同一個地方多過一晚的酒店,我覺得不夠flexible,迫住要stay在同一city。ANA有自駕遊package,可選擇天天因應行程住不同酒店,住的酒店又不錯,幾抵。至於用Asia Miles換機票去札幌就最抵,但經常爆滿,要預早成年book。如果不怕轉機,可以分別book去東京,再加一程內陸機去北海道,用的里數一樣,較容易book到機位。

酒店

去日本book酒店很多時都是講個信字,不用落訂。為了不影響香港人的聲譽,book了就千萬不要no show。要找酒店,我會browse www.jalan.net,我覺得它最平和cover最多民宿和不同類型的酒店。因為jalan.net一定要有日本地址才可以book房,我會再去www.travel.rakuten.co.jp看看有無同一個deal。Rakuten雖然有英文版,但cover得好少hotel,我寧願用日文版估估下。估不到的我會用Google translation (http://translate.google.com/#)。在Rakuten訂房是不用預先付款,book完print個booking confirmation就得。如果Rakuten沒有good deal,我會試下直接打電去酒店book。不過一般民宿都不講英文,所以盡可能找個識日文的friend打去book。

租車

在香港可通過電話或上網book車。Toyota的website(http://rent.toyota.co.jp/top.asp)和call centre有最多英文support,不過去到的ground staff一樣一句英文都不會講,所以沒太大語言的advantage。 新千歲機場有很多租車公司的counter,可以去到才shop around 格價。淡季,用visa咭簽賬,生日等等都會有不同的discount,要格價就要有精明眼和耐性。

日本人喜歡開很小的車,細到在香港是很少見到的。去之前我們book了第二細的車,認為車大一點會舒服一點。但去到見慣全街都是細細的車仔,居然到我們取車時覺得我們book的車太大(其實在任何國家都依然屬於很細很細的車),要換細一款的車。揀車size時注意,不要貪大。

在日本差不多架架車都有GPS,入個電話號碼就可以找到目的地,幾小地方都找得到,連地圖都不用看,非常方便可靠。不過英文版本的GPS就不是每一個車款都有,租車前要問清楚。就算租不到英文版的GPS,記緊問職員拿英文instruction,其實加上日文漢字估估下,大約operate GPS 都不會有問題。

旅遊書

我一句日文都不懂,但都覺得日文的travel guide好有用,圖文並茂,看圖識字,有很多local資料很有用。在香港可以去Sogo樓上買,亦都可等到去到日本才買。中文書方面,長空自遊系列的內容夠comprehensive,幾好用。


B&B Surprises

When I travel, I like to stay in Bed and Breakfast accommodation, especially in English speaking countries where I can talk directly to the B&B host to get a flavour of the local culture and people. My most unusual B&B experience was in Sweden.

Bedroom

Accommodation in Stockholm is expensive. When we arrived in Stockholm city centre we went straight to the tourist office to book accommodation. We discovered that even the cheapest 3-star hotel with shared bathroom cost over $1000 a night. Almost every affordable hotel was fully booked. We decided to call the list of B&Bs obtained from the tourist office but as it was high season almost all were full. Just as we were about to give up and resort to an inferior over-priced 3-star hotel, we called the last number. The lady asked me when and how many nights we wanted to stay. Then she said, “It is OK. You can come to stay at my place. You have to come in the afternoon before 3pm because I need to leave my home to catch a ferry to go away.”

living roomWith her clear directions, we arrived at her place. She gave us a very warm welcome and showed us her 1000 sq ft flat. After a quick chat, she needed to leave and go to work in a youth hostel on one of the islands near Stockholm for two days. Two days! She would not be there while we stayed in her flat! She left it all to us – two strangers! I wasn’t going to complain that we had a big flat all to ourselves. I was just amazed how trusting she was to hand over the keys to her home.

IMG_2336Honestly, I would never be so trusting and let strangers stay at my home. It must be in the Swedish culture to be trustworthy and honest. I would imagine that the crime rate must be low in Sweden because if she had encountered theft or any unpleasant experience before, she would not be running a B&B without her being there.

I wish everyone in the world was nice and trusting. The world would be a better place.


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