Thursday, 28 March 2013

'The Place' Shopping Mall, Beijing

More video from my brief travels in China. This one is from Beijing in 2009. This shopping street is good for people watching and a pre-dinner drink (plenty of western style restaurants  too - but why would you want western food - when in the East).  It's actually more modern and happening than most 'Western' commercial centers, yet wander a few blocks and peasant 80+ old folks are risking life and limb, weaving thru smoggy rush hour traffic on bicycles collecting recyclable materials. China continues to be full of surprises.
You can text a message to the gigantic screen to the amusement / dismay of all

Followed by dinner including insects, frog and 'lamb'!

Tags: ..The Place Shopping Mall, Beijing.
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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Price Mistake - Free w/e car rentals on Avis - Act Fast!

Update: Deal is now Dead. Snooze you lose..

Similar to the deal I got last year this comes thanks to Mr Pickles - Book a w/e car rental with AVIS and ensure a Friday night pick-up using code 'tuea002' in the box for coupon code for 2 free Reward Weekend Days and you get your rental for free or just taxes. I just tested on the Avis site and it worked. Bring a copy of your booking to the counter just in case. Block book every weekend from now to eternity while the code lasts. - Enjoy!

Estimated Total (USD)11.28

  • Your rate was calculated based on the information provided. Some modifications may change this rate.
  • Additional benefits for coupon [tuea002] may be applied at the rental counter.

Pick-up Information
Location:Newport Centre Mall, Jersey City, JC3 
Date & Time:Friday, April 05, 2013 @ 06:00 PM
Return Information
Location:Newport Centre Mall, Jersey City, JC3 
Date & Time:Sunday, April 07, 2013 @ 06:00 PM
Renter Information
Rate Type:Lowest
Rate Code:8B
Wizard Number:N/A
Residence:United States
Coupon:tuea002 - 2 Reward Weekend Days
Car Class:Standard Size
Ford Fusion or similar 

Note: Some good advice from InACents to have a backup plan just in case.. .
Tags: ..Price Mistake - Free w/e car rentals on Avis..
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Friday, 22 March 2013

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens - Party Time!

It's that time of the year again when thousands of people from all over the world descend upon Hong Kong for the party of the year. I was fortunate to take part in this crazy-fest in 2009 and 2010.  Here are some scenes from my inauguration - Enjoy..


Tags: .Hong Kong Rugby Sevens - Party Time..
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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, Shanghai, China

China does have a lot of people, no doubt. This video is from a trip to Shanghai in 2009 when I lived in Hong Kong. Despite the crowds, it had a very Western commercialism feel about it. Globalization in action..

The photo below is from the glass floor in the Oriental Pearl Tower. Those with vertigo should steer clear...

photo credit here

Perhaps the sign on the ground floor is appropriate?

Tags: ..Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street, Shanghai, China..
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Monday, 18 March 2013

Is it just me or is Award Booking getting more difficult

I was checking the availability of flights for NYC to Dublin in late May using Googles ITA search engine and the cheapest I could find per person for non-stop was $930

Price for 2 adults
Ticket cost per passenger$929.97
Price for 1 infant in lap
Ticket cost per passenger$123.20
Total cost for 3 passengers$1,983.14

and $730 with a connection

Price for 2 adults
Ticket cost per passenger$729.00
Price for 1 infant in lap
Ticket cost per passenger$105.20
Total cost for 3 passengers$1,563.20

Add a lap infant and it all adds up to be not exactly a bargain. I needed to find another way as cash is a little tight right now and I refuse to rack up debt on a credit card.   

Even after using miles to splurge on first class to Argentina back in December, I still have almost a million miles spread among the various airline accounts of the missus and I.

I checked pointhub (which can hit or miss) for award availability but it was giving me outlandish 120K+ award availability for coach? 

I doubled checked on several airline sites directly and sure enough it was 100K+ for Delta and US Airways.

American wanted 90K although I could have got it for 40K if I was flexible on the dates but alas I am not and I don't have enough miles anyway.

United was 60K but I didn't have enough miles although I could swap in some Ultimate Reward points but I'd rather hold onto them for a rainy day.

I have 400K Avios (British Airways) points but they are notorious for exorbitant fuel surcharges of $500+. Searching the BA site is also a frustratingly slow waste of time.

It's been widely publicized on the forums and travel blogs that you can book Boston to Dublin return for only 25K Avios points flying with Aer Lingus who remarkably charge minimal fuel surcharges. You can search for availability using the United or Qantas websites (partner award availability). Once you find the flights you want you need to call BA to make the booking. So I gave it a shot and it worked like a luck Irish Charm!

I got Boston to Dublin direct for 2 adults & 1 lap child for 52,500 points + $274 in taxes/fees. I still needed to get a return from NYC to Boston which I found for $156 x 2 on United.  Total outlay for the trip is $586 + 52,500 Avios points.  

That is still more than I'd ideally like to pay because of the connecting flight and I could possibly have used those Avios for multiple short hop US flights but I still have a nice little nest egg for that. Sure ain't easy getting from A to B for a reasonable amount of points & taxes these days.

Tags: ..Avios British Airways Aer Lingus Avoid Fuel Surcharge..
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Friday, 15 March 2013

Hotel Best Rate Guarantee

Numerous hotels and travel booking sites offer a best rate guarantee (BRG). If you find a cheaper price than what you booked they will offer a refund of the difference and credit towards future stays.   The BRG is open to a hack/abuse as follows:

Today, Dan's Deals had a post on how to get a free night at the Holiday Inn Express in Times Square, New York using the BRG and then TravelBloggerBuzz posted about an NBC news article where Mike, a travel hacker exploits a similar guarantee by Expedia to rack up $50 credit vouchers to the tune of $1800 every year.  There is even a blog dedicated to finding and publishing how you can exploit the BRG here
I've not used this nor am I planning to and I'm pretty sure having this hack advertised on NBC will likely be a bad thing for those genuinely trying to get a one-off matched rate. Maybe I'm finally developing a sense of morality. Thoughts?

Tags: ..Hotel Best Rate Guarantee..
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Sunday, 10 March 2013

US Airways 15K Bonus

I received this targeted offer in the post today. 15,000 miles for $750 x 3 months = $2250 in spend using your existing US Airways Mastercard. Not exactly a bargain but good for those trying to top up miles. Added to the 40,000 mile sign up bonus for the card it might work for some.

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