I hopped over to Ajman on a whim, from my trip to Sharjah. It was my free day, and after a lot of confusion (self-created) I eventually stumbled over to Ajman. The choice was a bit of convenience and a bit of serendipity. Sultan Saray was my lunch stop. I will get to it in a while.
I was standing at a Hop On Hop Off bus stop near the Central Souq in Sharjah. A friendly staff (from Philippines) came out and started chatting with me! She mentioned that they have an Ajman hop on hop off tour too. I was interested. I almost bought the ticket but stopped because they had one hour service on the route and I had a flight to catch in the evening.
So, I walked off and randomly went to the back of the souq. Passing by the mosque, I crossed through the under bridge and reached the Al Jubail Souq which has a fish market within it, with live auctions. And right in front of it was the Al Jubail Bus Stop! Now everything was pointing towards going to Ajman!
I boarded a bus and after a few adventures I reached the Ajman Beach. It was time for lunch and I started exploring restaurants. The first one I tried was a cafe and they didn’t had much for vegetarians. I was also looking for beer (alcohol is banned in Sharjah, the only Emirates to do so) but did not find it at lunch.
The second restaurant I went to was Sultan Saray. They have an outdoor seating by the sea and I was sold on it. But my first concern was to see if they served anything vegetarian. The server convinced me that they have veg options. He pointed out to a veg casserole and drinks. He added there were some veg salads too. I asked for an avocado drink and told him I would make up my mind about the main course in a while. But in some confusion he already passed on the order of veg casserole and the avocado drink.
I had no problem with this, but I do have a problem with the way they dealt with it. When I called them they kept standing away. They were not willing to communicate with me. I had to raise my voice to sort it out. I basically told them in a loud voice that I was OK if they have already placed the order. As they were not willing to walk near me to listen to me, I had to option but to slightly raise my voice. I thought it was completely unnecessary.
Then came the drink, followed by the food. The drink was nice but it had syrup in it, which is common to the region. The veg casserole was good, it was basically grilled vegetables in oil. One nice waiter noticed that they had not served bread with it and brought it for me.
I had a peaceful meal. I enjoyed the view too. There were many people sitting for lunch out there. It was a beautiful day, not too cold and it was nice to sit by the sea. I would have spent more time but then I had to go back to Sharjah and I had a flight later in the evening.
So, I asked for the bill. I then took out my card to pay for it. The girl taking the bill asked me, making a face, if I can pay by cash? I made a face back to her and told her no, I would pay by card. That settled it. The bill cam to 72 Dirham.
While walking out I told the person who goofed up on the order that the food was good, because it really was. Then I went back to the internet and saw I was not alone. Many people gave them 1 star rating on their own FB page because of the service.
Will I go back to Sultan Saray? Yes, I will, for the great location and good food, but this time I would know what to expect of them when it came to service. I am giving them the benefit of doubt for the service. But if I faced a similar experience again, I would surely give them a miss.
I took multiple flights with them recently. I flew Delhi-Singapore-Manila and back in October. It was followed by Delhi-Singapore-Jakarta. On the same trip I flew back Bali-Singapore-Delhi in October-November. But these were not Singapore Airline FAMs. My tickets were sponsored by Philippines Tourism Board and Indonesia Tourism Board respectively. For Singapore Airlines, I was a normal passenger, not a hosted travel blogger.
On the very first flight, I was a little apprehensive because of the previous business class experience. But within five minutes of settling in the economy of the same A380, all was well. There are two reasons for this, one Singapore Airlines is an awesome airline and two I will even travel cargo to see new places! Luxuries are extra when I travel. I can anyway afford them only as a blogger!
First Things First, The Food
Even in the economy the food is good. My tip to is pre-book your preferred meal. Don’t leave it to the last minute or expect a special meal in the aircraft. For example I am a vegetarian. I usually order Indian vegetarian or Asian vegetarian, whatever is available. Both are fine with me. It is easy to book it online.
I made sure that I had booked my meal on every sector that I was flying with Singapore Airlines. And they never made a mistake. I always got Indian or Asian vegetarian meal on my all flights to Philippines and Indonesia. But I believe the key is to pre-book a meal if you have any special requests.
If you do this you can happily watch movies and look out of the window throughout your flight.
And guess what? They have an in-flight menu even in the economy class. I could choose my drinks, I asked for Bailey’s many times and got it without any fuss.
And their masala chai is sheer bliss. I can’t tell you how much I miss this brew on my foreign trips and it is amazing that Singapore Airlines gives it to me right in the flight. How I wish they had a non-sugar version but then at the end of a trip, I am simply craving masala chai and I will take it with sugar too!
In the A380 the leg room is decent even in economy. Even on other planes (Boeing 777 I think) I thought the legroom was decent. Some of the flights were not full and that added to the comfort. When I talk of leg room you have to remember I am not tall, just 5 feet 4 inches. But then I am the same on all planes!
In Flight Entertainment
The in-flight entertainment means only one thing to me, watching movies. I’m sure there is much more to the entertainment system like TV shows, documentary, games, kids corner etc. But I have just one point agenda, I watch movies back to back till the flight lands.
The other bit that I loved about the flight was the USB port in every screen. It was a blessing as I could use it to charge my phone! There is WiFi on board on the Delhi-Singapore-Delhi flights but it is charged.
Service Aboard the Singapore Airlines
The airline maintained impeccable service on all my flights. There was not a single incident where I could say I needed something and I didn’t get it. The staff was courteous at all the times.
The added advantage of flying Singapore Airlines is you get to transit via Changi, which is a beautiful airport. Overall, I recommend Singapore Airline highly if you’re looking for a flight on a full service premium airline.
It may surprise you a little that I am doing the Everest movie review. I watch movies infrequently and I hardly ever ‘review’ them, if I may call my random writing a review. But Everest is based on the tragedy that occurred on the mountain in 1996. And much before the movie was made I read two books on it, Into Thin Air and The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest. Both of them are make for compelling reading. They are about the same event and yet they offer such different perspectives. I enjoyed the movie much more because I had read the books.
Everest released world wide in this week and Seshadri, Chhavi and I went to watch the movie yesterday. I thought it was based on Into Thin Air but I realized they take into account the various perspectives. It is a big plus for the movie. Director Baltasar Kormakur in his Everest has made an immensely watchable movie supported by an able star cast.
If you have not read about the 1996 disaster and plan to watch the movie before reading anything you can stop reading this review now as it has spoilers.
The movie is about the disaster that unfolded on Everest on May 10, 1996. There were two large guided expeditions up the mountains led by Rob Hall (Adventure Consultants) and Scott Fischer (Mountain Madness). On Hall’s expedition was a journalist from the Outside magazine Jon Krakauer. Some say his presence added to the pressure to succeed at any cost but the other team too had a journalist. So I believe it is a bit unfair to single out Krakauer.
The movie portrays the world of guided expeditions brilliantly. Whether we agree with the philosophy of guided expeditions to Everest is another matter. On these guided expeditions clients paid (in 1996) up to 65,000 dollars to be guided up to the Everest. The presence of so many teams going to the summit on the same day, the pressure not being able to say no to a client, the level of climbing experience of the customers, all come into the play. For example Doug Hansen was ambling around much after the cut off time for the summit but Hall agrees to go with him to the summit, because he could not say no to him!
There are many controversies around the event and one of the most well known is between Jon Krakauer and Anatoli Boukreev leading to the publication of the rebuttal by Boukreev in his book ‘The Climb’. Boukreev was a guide with Fischer’s expedition ‘Mountain Madness.’ The movie steers away from them and manages to strike a balance between various accounts. This once again works splendidly for the movie.
The movie starts at people departing for Kathmandu, trekking up to the Everest Base Camp and then preparing for the climb. It then devotes the entire second half to the time when disaster strikes in the form of a fierce storm at the higher regions of Everest.
The stars have done justice to their roles. Jason Clark plays Rob hall, Jake Gyllenhaal plays the playful Scott Fischer and Kiera Nightly as Jan Hall. For me the most impressive was Emily Watson as her role of base camp manager Helen Wilton.
You will enjoy the movie even if you are not mad about mountains. And when you come across a scene which feels unrealistic, remember that is based on true accounts! However improbable some of the things feel they happened to real people!
My daughter asked me after the movie, “mama so what is the moral of the story?” This is what I said-
अपने औकत से ऊँचा पहाड़ नहीं चड़ना चाहिए। जब टीम लीडर बोले कि लौट चलो तो लौट जाना चाहिए। And as they said in the movie, “The mountain has the last word!”
For those of you who don’t read Hindi- We should not climb a mountain that is beyond us. When the team leader says we need to turn back, we turn back!
Do go and watch the movie Everest.
I recently stayed for one night at the Palladium Hotel, Mumbai (Now St. Regis) I was attending 2015 Discover Thainess an event which was held at the hotel itself. The rooms were booked for us by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. We were greeted by the staff at the ground floor. As most of us had very little luggage we decided to carry it on our own. The main lobby of the hotel is at the 9th floor. It is quite a thing of beauty. Without any further delays, here is my Palladium Hotel Mumbai review.
The Check In
As we arrived an hour before the 2.00 pm check-in time we experienced a slight delay. The person at my counter was courteous and tried his best to give us a room as quickly he could. They never even raised the issue of our early arrival. When I got my key it was for 28th floor. The view from my room made up for any minor delay that happened at the check-in.
I was favorably impressed by the staff of the hotel. They were courteous at all times. If they would meet me in the corridors they would always greet me cheerfully. There was an issue with my key card, it would not work in the middle lift. When that happened first I was a bit confused. When I presented my problem to the front desk staff they requested if I could use the other lifts and I was fine with it.
The hotel looks quite posh and upmarket at the first glance and I sustained the same impression throughout my stay.
I had a gorgeous room with single beds. It was a large and well appointed room. There was a big flat screen TV with many channels. There was a mini bar in the room but a rule I stay away from minibars as they are so deadly expensive. The bed was comfortable, the pillows soft. They gave 4 half liter water bottles with compliments which was a good thing. There was a lot of tea (Twinings) in the room which has always been the best feature of any hotel in my dictionary. There was a fruit tray in the room which had apples. The work table was huge. There was a comfortable chair in the room as well to laze around.
And then this was the view from my room. I could happily sit on the large window sill and watch the world go by from my room.
The bathroom was huge. It could be used as an open bathroom but there was a partition which could be drawn as well. The bath tub was comfortable. The amenities in the bathroom were nice and what you would expect in a five star property. The only omission I saw was a weighing machine in the bathroom. There was ample hot water and the water pressure was good.
The only meal that I had at the hotel was the complimentary breakfast, They had a huge breakfast spread. I went in for South Indian fare and it was quite good. If you ordered something from the egg or dosa counter, you could tell your tabel number and it would be served to you. At the breakfast table I asked for Masala Chai and soon people sitting near me also started demanding the same. I can drink tea in various forms, including black, but if I had a choice I would take Masala Chai every time. I also ate namkeen vermicelli and it was done quite well. Overall, they have a good breakfast spread.
The Swimming Pool
I used the hotel swimming pool in the morning. At about 7.30 am I had the whole pool to myself. Attached to the changing room are jacuzzi, sauna and steam. The lady attendant who was present was very polite. The water felt a little cold in the morning but after a while I got used to it. It was fun to swim a few laps the first thing in the day.
The hotel has an upmarket feel to it but no snootiness when it comes to service. The lobby is grand and there was live music at night. The lifts are fast and the floor access is through the room key. The convention rooms are at the 8th floor. The lobby floral arrangements and the curios are quite pleasing to the eye.
This and That
The Palladium Hotel Mumbai has a rooftop bar Asilo. Hotel guests can go there without reservation but otherwise they expect a reservation. I went there to click a few pictures. I told the staff that I simply wanted to click a few pictures and they were cool with it. There are glass panels all around but still the view is quite amazing. When I was checking out I requested an hour’s extension which they happily granted us. It is small things like these that matter a lot to me.
My stay at Palladium Hotel Mumbai was booked by Tourism Authority of Thailand.