Category Archives: reviews hotels

australia with sony a7 full frame test, australian tennis open

here are some pictures to show how the sony a7 mirrorless full frame looks like in australia:

click on the picture to get full resolution, taken hand held, no tripod

SYDNEY:

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SYDNEY OPERA

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SYDNEY PARK HYATT HOTEL : 22000 hyatt points, cost around $300 for the hyatt oints, compared to normal rates of $850. 50 % savings.

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melbourne tram

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australian open: we were able to get confirmed guaranteed lower level seats for last week of the tournament, as we are australian open match members. We sat on the first row on the women final, 4rd row on man finals.  (side advantage: first dip at tickets, and since they are in so much demand…. Especially on secondary market.. )

there are 3 level of memberships. Game, set, and match. Each cost from $99 to $249 for the whole year. To pay $249 per year to have access to lower level seats? Worth it! (Especially like i said, the tickets are “popular and on demand”.

How to get match membership? you have to be lucky and hope someone on that list drop out. there is a long waiting list for thr match membership.

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melbourne cathedral

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park hyat melbourne from outside, view from cathedral:

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our upgraded suite (for free as we used the confirmed upgrade certificates): booked the cheapest room, ended up having similar suite as stanislas wawrinka group.  I think for us, The best suite there have a fireplace, view of cathedral. It makes you feel as if you are home.

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as a side perks with suites: (free): access to the lounge:  free breakfast, free drinks, free pre dinner snaks. A lot of tennis players and their entourage are seen here quite often. (Even if they are multi- millionaire).The staff at the lounge are very friendly, they remembered us even if we come back and stay there only once a year.

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Australian open final: we met stanislas wawrinka at the park hyatt melbourne hotel the night before his historic final macth with nadal?!!

We were able to take pictures with him, his entourage took the pictures for us. Nice man, very skinny outside, very muscular as well. i wish him good luck, and he just lift his shoulders and just said thank you… as if he did not think the chances of winning are on his side, or luck is not part of it.

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As it turns out, at the final match, talent played a major part, but a very small part of luck also came into play:  Nadal was slightly injured.

Wawrinka has a tattoo on his left forearm: ” Ever tried. Ever fail. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

They say the key to success is hard work and determination. But also, Success require failure, and also a little of luck.

What is luck? Luck is to be there at the right time, right moment, with the right preparation. Luck require preparation. Proper Preparation require previous learning, previous failures.

 

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TOKYO: westin tokyo, 3 michelin stars japanese restaurant KANDA, 3 star french restaurant joel robuchon

a special surprise: we got upgraded to a suite costing 3-6 times more than what we paid (from what we heard, normally this hotel does not upgrade guest that often, even if you are spg platinum)

 

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kanda restaurant 3 star Michelin:

we booked a 3 star Michelin japanese restaurant through the hotel concierge (if you are a foreigner, all famous restaurants in Tokyo only let you book through hotel concierge ):

KANDA restaurant:

as with most Japanese restaurants, it is hard to find. the taxi from westin to kanda cost only 10 usd. the taxi driver will even open the door for you, cover you with his umbrella and walks you to the door ! now that is service!

located at the ground level, the front of the restaurant is a discrete wooden door, you have to slide it to the left. no English signs so you need to know it is there.

there is no menu, dishes come out depending on what you choose when you booked. there is a 100% cancellation fee , so if you book, you better show up. 3 prices : 150k yen, 200k yen, or 250k yen pp.

we came early at 17:30, so we are the only ones at the counter, it felt like our own private restaurant. The counter only sit 8-9 chairs. they do have another private room. The décor is minimal, but the food and service is what set this restaurant to true 3 stars. the chef speaks French as well.

let me tell you that every dish was perfectly  prepared. the sushi and sashimi freshly prepared in front of you. the shabu shabu has the best clam ever. the crispy fish scales, kobe wagyu beef perfectly prepared with a crispy skin etc… so many good dishes, and since we are not supposed to take pictures, I do not remember all the dishes .

the food was definitely excellent, better than some 3 stars restaurant in paris (p.s: the old le meurice). For the price and what you get as quantity and quality of the food, it is definitely excellent value.

3 star Michelin French restaurant joel robuchon tokyo:

it is a “chateau” restaurant, 2 level, looks like a French castle right in the middle of tokyo. located just across the street from the westin hotel: prices were reasonable, 40k to 90k yen pp (we paid 60k, 60usd pp plus service charges)

FOOD: although good well prepared, not as good as the original 2 star st – germain joel robuchon in paris., But the price is definitely cheaper than paris

the westin is visible on the left building behind le chateau

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JOEL ROBUCHON food, taken with cell phone:

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are you in Tokyo or in paris? so many French names and French bakeries:

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GINZA:

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when in Tokyo, you have to go to their department stores: their restaurants are cheap and good. Go to the basements: that is where all the famous snacks, cookies, and tea from across japan are sold.

and of course, when you are in Tokyo, you need to buy Japanese green tea, and their cookies: they are the best, nicely done without being too sweet:

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PHO Tokyo style:

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favorite “sushi” of my travel partner : korean style bibimbap rolled into sushi for 8 usd. good lunch meal.

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flight to sorong, JE meridien hotel, MISOOL boat & resort. Diving @ raja ampat, indonesia

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arrival at sorong

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JE meridien hotel outside: really nothing special to write about… better forget the memories of the rooms, if you know what I mean… internet wifi will not work, so use the hot spot on your cell phone function. It is NOT part of spg hotels. It is not le meridien…

 

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boat to misool: seemed older than the ones promoted in their websites… still comfy

 

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Misool resort:

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lots of storage space

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outdoor shower: do not use anti bacterial products

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fan is needed ! air con works only after hours, and normally, who need air con during the day anyway? open the doors to an overwater bungalow view!

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pictures taken with sony tx 30

misool resort:

  • food: surprisingly very good and varied, they took care to cover the buffet food with lids and anti mosquitos food cover… unlike most diving resorts. an A+. spicy as we like it…
  • rooms: surprisingly well designed. some other guests complained ac is not strong enough, but for us it was fine
  • loved the big terrace, covered, with proper sun cover, while letting the breeze flow through
  • the wood that they used can cost a lot of money if imported in NA, very high quality wood (some same as Rolls Royce wood panelling)
  • Wifi: works very well in dive shop, ONLY if you get a proper working user name! because they use a router traffic management system, some user can do facetime (!) while some other cannot even get a single  web page. Facetime for satellite internet connection? that is impressive, if you can get the access
  • no cell phone coverage, bring sat phone.
  • it is nice to be able to walk to your room during surface intervals, between dives.
  • at misool: it is also nice that you get something to eat almost before and right away after each dives. because we ate more frequently, reducing our portions, and hence felt better and lost lot of weights after this trip.  six packs ? started to show after this trip. ( a big selling points to your other half: lose weights on vacation)
  • previously at some other Indonesia resort, we went a little hungry as we had to wait for the meals time, even if the food was plenty. we ended up gaining weights as we ate more, less frequently
  • diving: possibility of doing up to 4 dives per day. 1st day is just intro dive at house reef. All the dives sites are close by, usually only 5-15 minutes away. Only magic mountain dive site is 30 minutes further away.
  • nitrox did not work when we were there. Usually the dives are shallow, less than 20 meters. So with a big 15 l tank, it is plently for the whole one hour without nitrox.
  • visibility was great when we were there. The ocean surface was perfectly FLAT at that time.
  • There is one early breakfast, consisting of simple pastries, fruits, tea. Then another real breakfast after the first dive. For the breakfast, it is a la carte! Lunch is after the second dive, usually buffet. You order dinner , usually a la carte at lunch time.

misool pictures taken with sony a7:

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jakarta keraton hotel, luxury collection

arrival airport: was met by hotel rep, picked our luggage, guide us through customs (not border), show us to the BMW 5 series hotel car

ride to keraton hotel: even if the hotel is relatively close distance, it still took 1 hour in non traffic rush! the traffic is crazy in Jakarta. so a ride in comfortable hotel car compared to some non air conditioned taxi was worth it.

at arrival, we were greeted and shown straight to the room. it was upgraded to a huge suite : (paid the cheapest room, got a suite upgraded with spg platinum suite night upgrades SNA)

lobby:

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suite:

 

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welcome amenities:

 

 

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FREE UNLIMITED NON ALCOHOLIC DRINKS : !!

 

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view from our room:

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Jakarta traffic: anything that move

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