Archive for March, 2010

Bogus World Cup 2010 Tickets on sale

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Catching up on my news feeds I read that thousands of fake or bogus tickets for the World Cup are being sold on unofficial websites for many times their face value. It is not surprising, but if you are thinking about heading over to South Africa purchase tickets from approved operators.

Bogus World Cup 2010 Tickets on sale

Use approved operators

The England group games, semi-finals and finals are sold out and fans are advised to try the five-FIFA approved operators who have tickets: Thomson Sport/Sportsworld, Thomas Cook Sport, Keith Prowse, Emirates Tours and BAC Sport.

Read tips on travel safety in South Africa this summer.

Response on holiday booking during World Cup

I wonder what impact the World Cup is having on bookings in June and July, and if more of us will stay at home and then go on holiday in August or later in the year. If you are a travel agency, I would be interested to hear the response you have had.

Your plans for this summer

Are you heading to South Africa this summer? Will you stay at home while the World Cup is on or will you be going on holiday just to get away from the continuous football on the television? I will be staying at home in Leeds and intend to go on holiday in September when the kids are back at school.

This post was syndicated from the Travel Rants Consumer Blog.

Bogus World Cup 2010 Tickets on sale

16 Ways To Have a Thrilla In Manila

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

I spent 2 enjoyable months in Manila doing things like volunteering in Payatas, jogging through chaotic side streets, eating peculiar fried and boiled edible items, and making ultra spontaneous decisions.  Though Manila is not the cleanest or nicest looking city in Asia, it has a unique atmospheric buzz and presents amazing opportunities of adventure and submersion.  Here is a list of 16 fabulous ways to have a Thrilla in Manila.    

1.  Spanish Old Town (Intramuros)

The colonial Spanish walled in area of Intramuros is an interesting place to breeze around. Churches and schools built with complete Spanish influence make it hard to believe you are still on an Asian island. Horse drawn carriages with guides are available at small fees (probably around $3) to take you around and show you the main and important sites. However, the thick surrounding walls make Intramuros a friendly walking environment as rowdy traffic roars outside.   

spanish intramuros manila church

Intramuros Manila

2.  Binondo: The World’s First Chinatown

Strolling through various Chinatown’s around the world from Yaowarat in Bangkok to Chinatown in Buenos Aires, is always a culinary expedition.  The world’s first Chinatown also known as Binondo in Manila is no different, as an exquisite place to stimulate your senses. Walking the streets is particularly interesting with hundreds of people going about business, napping, and chowing great things.   

binondo chinatown manila

Binondo Chinatown Manila

Eating Recommendations:
Ho-Land Bakery: purchase a few Chinese Filipino baked treats
Dong Bei Dumpling: Serves incredible dumplings and fresh noodle soups
Wai Ying Fastfood: Stunner dim sum and other Chinese foods
Many Restaurants: the notorious Soup Number 5: Discover the aphrodisiac soup that remains mysterious (see for yourself)   

3.  Get in Touch with GK

Gawad Kalinga known as GK, is an organization that provides homes for the poorest of the poor with aim to create sustainable villages with safe environments.  GK has numerous volunteering opportunities, or just opportunities to visit some of the development sites around Manila and chat with some amazing folks.  You can get in touch with Gawad Kalinga on their website.   

gawad kalinga GK manila

Helping with GK in Manila

4.  Quiapo Church and Market

In and around the Quiapo Church in Manila, is a wonderful place to see Manila’s finest trinquets and a chance to scan a storm of bizzare inhabitants. On Friday, the area is buzzing with people lighting candles, fortune tellers contemplating lives, and vendors trying to sell junky items. Walking around the church and under the highway is the sprawling Quiapo Market where infinite shopping options are to be discovered.   

quiapo church manila philippines

Quiapo Church Manila

quiapo market manila philippines

Quiapo Market Manila

5.  Manila Bay Waterfront

A decent place to see the sunset over Manila Bay or to let the kids run around, is directly outside the avoidable Mall of Asia. The huge crowds may be discouraging, but the sunset and ice cream carts with their tunes are usually worth it.   

manila bay mall of asia

View of Manila Bay

6.  Seafood Dampa

If you care about attempting to finish buffets (like I do), or are just passionate about the utmost in fresh food from the sea, Manila’s Dampa Seafood extravaganza is a gig you will never want to miss. Seafood Dampa works like this: At the market, purchase kilos and kilos of seafood from the extensive catch selection, walk it over to the next door restaurant, and have them transform everything into a tasty art form of your liking.  Some of the delicous dishes include, cheesy mussels, stir fried prawns, chili crab, and ginger fish.   

seafood dampa manila philippines

Seafood Dampa Feast

Recommendation: There are a number of Dampa Seafood markets but the greatest one I went to was in Pasay City near Manila Bay called Seaside Dampa.
Location: Diosdado Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City, near Manila Bay and close to Mall of Asia   

7.  Filipino Karaoke

It is without doubt that most Filipino’s love to sing and it seems that all of them can sing quite well. The widely popular karaoke booths are outfitted with high tech sound systems and there’s nothing like a little evening sing-off with a crowd of friendly Filipino’s.  In fact, Karaoke makes one to believe that singing is not actually all that difficult and can act to really boost the self esteem.   

8.  Jog Through Manila

Though jogging in Manila sometimes feels like you are smoking a pack of cigarettes, it is a greatly beneficial experience. The observations you will make from the side neighborhoods and side streets while breezing through at an inobtrusive speed will surely enrich your life.   

9.  Jolly Jeep

If you find yourself in the highly business oriented and yuppie community of Makati City, pay a rewarding visit to a Jolly Jeep.  Jolly Jeep’s are the street food stalls in Makati City that resemble parked jeeps and serve greasy Filipino foods from plastic bag wrapped bowls.  Filipino specialties like bicol express, pork adobo, and pork carbona are sure bets.   

10.  Hang Out in Payatas

If you want to see a pig being slaughtered and squealing on the side of the road or see homemade pushcarts and motorcycle devices that should never work, hang out in Payatas. The cities largest dump is located here and most of the humans struggle to eek out survival.  Payatas is a real reminder of how we should stop complaining and be thankful for what we have.   

Payatas Manila

Butchering a Pig in Payatas Manila

11.  Cockpit

A cockfight in Manila, though may be considered brutal by some, is an interesting experience that will broaden your entertainment and gambling views. The men in the bleachers shout at the top of their lungs and blurt their gambles for their choice rooster. The premises then goes silent and the fight begins. The roosters fight till death do them part to cheers and then shrieks of the men who lucked out. Money rolled into tight balls is angrily thrown to collectors from the not so lucky’s. There are various cockpits around Manila to check out and maybe win a few pesos on the fiercest rooster.   

cockpit cockfight manila philippines

Cockpit Cockfight Manila Philippines

12.  Nightlife

From greasy midgets boxing each other to hard thumping electro mixed nightclubs, Manila is full of a vibrant community of party attenders.  There are also countless neighborhood restaurants serving San Miguel (local beer) and Sisig (fried pig’s face) till the wee wee hours of sunshine.  A trip to Manila is incomplete without browsing or at least making a few empirical conclusions in this direction.  

13.  Balut/1 Day Olds

Balut is one of those can’t miss bizarre food opportunities that is rampant throughout Manila and which some love as others despise. Search for a styrofoam chest with “BALUT,” written on the side. Crack the egg, drink the soup, eat the egg white, and feast on the fetus with 5 Steps to Eating Balut. You simply can’t go to Manila without putting a few of these precious eggs into your gastronomic system.�
If you are on the go, grab yourself a brightly orange colored, and triple deep fried, 1 day old chicken.  They are sure to beat out all KFC similar competition. Poke’em with a stick, dip’em in vinaigrette, and crunch them down.  1 day olds are found all over the streets and even sometimes in the Metro stations.   

Balut Egg Fetus in Manila

Eating the Balut Egg Fetus

14.  Ride Around on a Jeepney

Rustic WWII Jeeps are the most affordable and entertaining transportation system in Manila. The drivers hurl through traffic with jerks and stops, pretending there are no passengers in the back. The greatest part of the adventure is that when sitting in a Jeepney crammed with people, it is impossible to look out the window and determine where you are or where you are going.   

Jeepney in Manila

Jeepney in Manila

15.  Tagaytay: World’s Smallest Active Volcano

Mt. Taal is located about 2-3 hours away from Manila close to a town called Tagaytay and is considered the world’s smallest active volcano. Upon arrival it is necessary to hop on a boat and cross the lake to the volcano island. Hiking to the top takes less than 1 hour and the view with the fresh air is marvelous.  I know this is not exactly in Manila, but after the rest of these activities, a decent day trip from Manila with a small to medium sized group and fresh air is a welcome relief.   

tagaytay mount taal philippines

Mount Taal Tagaytay Philippines

16.  Browse a Local Market

Pyramids of naked chicken heads, piles of pig snouts, messes of fish, weird bakes goods, colorful coconut deserts, ancient looking candies, bite sized dried fish, rice everything, assorted sausages, and all kinds of tropical fruit and vegetables are to enjoy in a local Manila market.   

Market Manila Chicken Heads

Market in Manila with Chicken Heads


-Migration Mark

Increase in flight schedule changes and cancellations

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Over the last month I have received a number of emails from consumers who have had their flight schedule changed or cancelled, which has messed up their travel plans. This seems to have a bigger impact for consumers who have booked their own flight and hotel or accommodation.

Increase in flight schedule changes and cancellations

Here are some examples from consumers who have contacted me.

Additional cost for hotel

One email consumer emailed me to tell me she has booked a chalet for a skiing holiday and a flight to Oslo with Ryanair. The flight time has changed, which has now meant that they now have to book a hotel in the centre of Oslo so that they can get to the airport in time.

Another consumer contacted me because her flight with BMI in July has been cancelled, so while the money has been refunded, they will lose their accommodation deposit unless they can find another flight. Thankfully she has enough time to find a flight, but flights are likely to be more expensive.

Air Transport Users information

The Air Transport Users council has a very useful advice section on what you are entitled for a cancelled flight and provides advice for flight changes. What you are entitled to claim depends on various scenarios, so chose the nearest answer to the questions.

Flight schedule change advice

Before you accept a flight schedule change, make sure that it is not a cancellation. If the flight number is different, and if you are being told of a change within 14 days of travel, you rights might be changed under Regulation EC 261/2004.

Feel free to add any experiences you have had to deal with flight time changes or cancellations.

This post was syndicated from the Travel Rants Consumer Blog.

Increase in flight schedule changes and cancellations

A Slightly Extended Stay—Bulgaria.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Old man winter is behind us here in Bulgaria. The last few days have been pleasantly warm, and I am starting some needed spring clean up.
I ate my last Pomegranate in February and now dreaming of October. It is a toss up, because October/November brings the winter, but also the harvest of the lushes juicy red pomegranates.

April 15 is creeping up a little to fast. I will be staying here in Bulgaria no later than June 1st. On the fifteenth I will head to Sofia and go the Serbian border for another visa. While I am in Sofia I will go to the American Embassy and get a new passport, then I will have a fresh passport for when I depart for the north.

Boris (owner of the house) and his girlfriend stopped by on Saturday, a major surprise. So I will be seeing him when I visit Sofia.

This is the cow from last November. Notice the guy on the right of the picture with his hands on his hip? That is George my next-door neighbor, and the nicest guy in the village. He helped with cutting the wood with his chainsaw and other tasks last fall.

I have some ideas for my travels north. There could be a possible chance to just head to Hungary and travel the country for awhile and see what happens. Bosnia is still a possibility.
The butchering of the cow last November: Some people may few this a gross, but really if your poor and need meat for the winter, this process is normal. They butchered the cow in the street of the village just down the street from my house.

I came across a hostel on in northern Poland that offers people to work the hostel for 4 hours a day for a free accommodation, it could be a possibility. There other possibilities but it is always the utmost importance to remain in the moment, and right now I am boiling water on my gas stove to wash dishes and shave. I might go outside today and crank up twelve buckets of water from the well to wash my clothes.

Recent Reads: Rancho La Puerta, Travel Decades & Northern Virginia Romance

Friday, March 19th, 2010

This is part 16 of “Recent Reads” in which I highlight recommended posts in the blogosphere.  

purple Recent Reads: Rancho La Puerta, Travel Decades & Northern Virginia Romance

Orchid © Wong Mei Teng

Julie Gallaher of Things You Should Do celebrated her 11th visit to Rancho La Puerta in Mexico.  

On Tripbase, Katie asks “Which travel decade are you?”  

Lilli Kessler of I Keep Walking shares a photo of her two-year-old orchid which didn’t flower until recently.    

In Search of Darn Good Digs reviews the beautiful Venti di Rose, possibly the best bed and breakfast in the world.  

On Marks Travel Notes, Mark features a weekly picture of the London Eye in front of Big Ben.  

Carolyn Gindein, founder of IWOM – We Know No, is back in the day to day living in a new location.  

Russ Hearl, CEO and Co-Founder, Sherpa Travel Exchange, LLC, ponders the unbiasedness and trustworthiness of travel review sites such as HotelChatter and TripAdvisor.    

And at the tripwolf blog, Susan Greenwood sets off on a romantic adventure in Northern Virginia. Wine tasting or antique shopping, anyone?  

Possibly related posts:

  1. Recent Reads: Gran Tourismo, Trendspotting, Carnival Time & 2010 Travel Trends
  2. Recent Reads: A Quick Stroll Around Dubai, Pakistan Beauty and Goth Loli Girls
  3. Recent Reads: Tuscany Road Trips, The High Line Park & Santorini

Consumers pay more due to hotel pricing affiliate issue

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Book a hotel and you expect the price to be the same no matter if you found the hotel booking site through Google, or another channel, right? So, I was surprised to find out that booking a hotel with Vivastay through an affiliate link, the consumer receives a higher price than booking direct.

Consumers pay more due to hotel pricing affiliate issue

Here are the screenshots of the pricing via an affiliate link and a search direct on their website.

Vivastay’s response to my query

Tonight I contacted Vivastay for their response.

“The reasons for doing this were not due to a dishonest attempt to mislead any affiliates as we are very new to the arena of affiliate marketing (6 months) and were never advised by networks that price variations via different channels were inappropriate or against any network policy.

Due to the overwhelming response by affiliates to the matter we are actively working on rectifying this and expect to have this fixed in the next few days.”

Issue to be fixed soon

To be fair to Vivastay, the response I received was quick and apologetic and they did go on to apologise to consumers, but I am left wondering how many customers have been wrongly charged for their hotel in the last six months. Hopefully the issue will be fixed soon, I’ll update this post.

Thoughts on affiliate programs and incorrect pricing

A wider question is why aren’t the affiliate networks not informing companies that this is against their terms of service, if it isn’t then how many other travel companies are doing the same? Please add your thoughts about this issue in the comments section below.

This post was syndicated from the Travel Rants Consumer Blog.

Consumers pay more due to hotel pricing affiliate issue

What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling

Thursday, March 18th, 2010
2736755404 5a5fa0f4a6 b What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling

Some of my old orienteering maps.

2736699514 12aac4bb38 What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling

daladubbeln 99 14a 14 av 89 bast 2344 jag 2425 2mannakavle What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling


hade strackt mig i benet pa gympan hade ont walked to 1an sprang tillsammans med en girl mkt svarare men kom 4 anda What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling

d14 budkavle dm gick jattebra kom 2a short only about 3km What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling

d16 What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling

97 was 12 3350 km looked so difficult What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling

about 2km What Orienteering Taught Me About Traveling

Possibly related posts:

  1. Try New Sports When Traveling
  2. Photo of the Week: Footsteps on the Sand
  3. A Craving For Traveling

Why I Love Empty Roads

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

the road Why I Love Empty Roads

The peacefulness of driving on your own.

margaree scenery Why I Love Empty Roads

Rural scenery in the community of Margaree on the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia.

The curiosity of wondering what’s around the next corner.

farm way Why I Love Empty Roads

No distracting cars allow you to take in all of the landscape.

straight road Why I Love Empty Roads

The sense of freedom.

relax speed Why I Love Empty Roads

Speed limit sign on a golf course in Missouri

You can relax and drive as slowly as you like.

road Why I Love Empty Roads
The excitement of not knowing what’s ahead of you.

speeding Why I Love Empty Roads
You can drive above the speed limit.

Possibly related posts:

  1. Why I Love Winter
  2. Leos Love to Travel
  3. Why I Love Mountains

Five travel issues sent from consumers

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The ‘Ask Mr Rants’ is proving to be useful for consumers. Every month I will be writing about the types of travel issues sent from consumers. Then, hopefully consumers can learn from other’s experiences and the industry, if it wants to really improve the consumer experience, can add their input.

Five travel issues sent from consumers

Here’s a selection of travel issues sent to me in February.

Agents booking DIY holidays

Consumer booked with a travel agent. They assumed it was a package holiday, after all, it was a travel agent, but no, this agent had booked them a flight with a low cost airline and a hotel with a third party. The t&c’s mention a cancellation policy, but this didn’t apply because of how the holiday was booked.

The customer had to cancel, received the hotel cost back, but not the flight.

Inaccurate hotel information

Another customer booked a hotel, the location information was inaccurate, but the consumer only found out after booking. The travel company blamed the hotel; the hotel blamed the travel company. Neither of wanted to help. It is worrying that they cannot even get the location of the hotel right.

Damaged holiday car hire

Holidaymaker jumps off the plane in Spain, heads to pick up their car hire and then enjoys their holiday. The customer returns to the airport a week later to be told that the car is scratched all the way down the driver’s door and that the damage has to be paid for. This holidaymaker was smart and had taken photograph evidence.

Yes, this car hire company tried to get their damaged car paid for by a customer.

No flying on this airline

The passenger checked-in to the airport; both the passport and ticket name was correct. Time for boarding, they give the boarding card and passport to the airline staff, to be told that they couldn’t fly because the boarding card name was different to the passport. After a stressful 30 minutes it realises the mistake was made by the airline at check-in.

Lesson to learn here, check your boarding pass before you leave the check-in desk.

The deal that never existed

Not just one consumer but a number contacted me about one particular company that is selling cheap holidays on their website but, after booking online, the company contacts the consumer to say that deal sold out. I wish I could name and shame but I don’t fancy another libel claim.

The last travel issue I have mentioned about before, but, I feel this type of selling trick is on the increase.

This post was syndicated from the Travel Rants Consumer Blog.

Five travel issues sent from consumers

A Haven of Serenity in Sangkhlaburi

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Sangkhlaburi is a small town located about 5 hours Northwest of Bangkok in the province of Kanchanaburi, Thailand, on the Burmese border.  It is a haven of serenity and a superb place to unwind, relax, eat, and wander about.

Wooden Bridge at Dawn and Dusk

The longest wooden bridge in Thailand looks like a game of pick up sticks, with boards and branches pounded into place by dull nails. The bridge itself is entertaining to walk across as is observing the clientele who traffic the bridge daily. At dawn, fog hovers over the water as the chaos remains still in the calm water. At dusk, the sun shines orange on the jumbled bridge as fishermen and boaters navigate the water.

wooden bridge sangkhlaburi thailand khao laem lake

Wooden Bridge Sangkhlaburi

wooden bridge sangkhlaburi thailand

Wooden Bridge

Rent Motor Bikes and Cruise

Renting a motor bike not only opens up opportunities of places to visit in and around Sangkhlaburi, but it’s just plain fun to cruise like the wind and not have to worry about rowdy or volumes of traffic, which are non existent in Sangkhlaburi. The only place in town that rents out motor bikes is P. Guest House for 200 baht (6.14 USD) per 24 hours.

Hire a Boat to Visit the Sunken Temple

In the wet months, the temple is halfway submerged into the lake and it is eerily spectacular to float around the ruins on a boat and observe the freaky temple. Though the temple is not itself aesthetically beautiful, the surrounding composition is gorgeous.  Water levels do drastically change from wet to dry season.

Boat should cost anywhere from 300-500 baht

sunken wat mon temple sangklaburi thailand

Sunken Wat Mon

Wat Wang Wiwekaram (Temple Wat Mon)

On the Mon side of the lake, across the wooden bridge, is the glittering golden Wat Wang Wiwekaram (Wat Mon). From a distance, you can see the temple glistening in the sunshine. Up close it looks like a Babel of geometric shapes and shrines guarded by two giant sculpted lions. It is simple enough to walk the few kilometers to the temple, although motorcycle taxi’s are also an option.

wat mon temple sangkhlaburi thailand

wat mon temple sangkhlaburi thailand

Mon Market in the Morning

While walking to the market at 6 am, I was extremely privileged to catch a grandmother cutting vegetables while obliviously listening to a stereo blasting Chris Brown to the entire community (a moment to be cherished). The am market on the Mon side of the lake is just another market until you open your eyes and look carefully. Mon women secretly toke on massive cigarettes when no one is looking, vendors sell cooked snacks for a single baht a piece (1 baht= $.03), and the morning fresh catch from the lake is glamorously displayed. Having time to burn seems to be a general rule at this market, and it is an ultra relaxed environment.

My life changed forever when I spotted a husband and wife, combo-ing their forces to create a delicacy with the label of, Roti Ong. A pancake like roti cooked in a wok over a fire and filled with chick peas, added spices, and crunchy fragrant onions. This stall in the Mon Market is an ultimate treat that could be the highlight of anyone’s visit to Sanghklaburi. I’m not ashamed to say, I went back for thirds in a matter of moments.

Note: Mon people are an ethnic group from Myanmar (Burma) living on the Thai-Burmese border.

mon mon market sangkhlaburi thailand

Mon Market Roti Ong

mon market roti ong sangkhlaburi thailand

Roti Ong

Note: Mon Market is best in the early morning, try to arrive at 6-7 am, or right after viewing the sunrise on the wooden bridge.

Visit Takianthong Waterfalls

The Takianthong Waterfalls is about 18 kilometers from Sangkhlaburi town and is a lovely motor bike ride away. The small shelved waterfalls provide transparent, refreshing pools to splash about in and act like a child. The highlight advantage of Takianthong, unlike the spectacular waterfalls in Luang Prabang Laos, was the low visitation rate which maximized the beauty and relaxation aspects of the river. When we were there, we shared the river with no one.

Entrance is 200 B for a foreigner

takianthong waterfalls sangkhlaburi

Takianthong Waterfalls

Ban Songkaria Resting Restaurants

About half way between Sangkhlaburi town and the Takianthong waterfalls, right by the bridge, is the Ban Songkaria area of river playing and eateries (about 9-10 km away). A brilliant idea led to simple bungalows on stilts over the speedy flowing cool river paired with serving delightful som tam (papaya salad), sticky rice, and Issan foods. If you have an entire day this is a masterful place for rest and recuperation.

sangalia restaurant sangkhlaburi

Ultimate Relaxing at Sangalia Restaurant

Food Recommendations

Baan Urak: A quaint little coffee shop that serves baked goods to perfection. The chocolate cake (20 baht), cinnamon rolls (5 baht each), and carrot cake (20 baht), were all fantastic.

Suanmagmai Resort Restaurant: The Suanmagmai restaurant is a food connoisseur’s imagination in reality. The dishes are simmered and stir fried to flawless perfection. I’m sure everything on the menu is exuberant, but our order consisted of pad pak gung (vegetables with shrimp), gang som ruam mit (chili vegetable and fish soup), and the life altering gang kaeng*** (known in English as a Muntjac or a Barking Deer)- a Mon specialty of curried goat.


I met a friend who had a friend in Bangkok who allowed us to stay in the Sangalia Resort, in Sangkhlaburi town, free of charge. Depending on your budget, but if you would like to splurge a little, the Sangalia Resort is beautiful.  Other popular and lovely places I checked out to stay were the P. Guest House and the Burmese Inn.

wooden mon bridge sangkhlaburi thailand

Sanghkhlaburi Thailand

How To Get To Sangkhlaburi

  1. Vans depart from Century Mall at Victory Monument BTS station to Kanchanaburi town. The vans begin running at 5 am and depart every hour, taking about 2 hours. Cost is 110 baht
  2. From Kanchanaburi town you need to locate the van stall for Sangklaburi. Vans from Sangkhlaburi take about 3 hours. Cost is 175 baht

Have an awesome time in Sangkhlaburi!

-Migration Mark