NOMA restaurant

we finally were able to get reservation for noma.

they take reservations 1-2 months in advance, and they open their online schedule around 3am in the morning the first day of the month. Noma is always fully booked. You cannot book through the amex or private travel agent concierges. No special favors,  no special access, everybody have to book through the same channel at the same time.

We stayed up until 3am, only to find out that there are 200 people ahead of you to even be able to book. once it is our turn, then all the space are gone. :-(

luckily, we played around with the dates, going backward, and if you suddenly search backward, the availability opens up, especially if you are 4 !

we booked, went and enjoyed ourselves.

Some people that are meat lovers say that it is overpriced for a mostly vegetarian meal, but the quality, the innovation of the cooking is truly exceptional. The beets and how they cooked it was quite special…

remember to ask to meet the chef after if they have time. we spent a long time chatting with the chefs, taking pictures… It was a pleasure meeting and talking to rene.

below are some food pictures of noma, there are some missing pictures, as we were too busy eating.

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)















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


JOEL ROBUCHON food, taken with cell phone:










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









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:


PHO Tokyo style:


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





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


arrival at sorong



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…



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






Misool resort:






lots of storage space


outdoor shower: do not use anti bacterial products




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!


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:







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)












welcome amenities:











view from our room:




Jakarta traffic: anything that move




EVA air BR business class sfo-tpe-cgk

eva air business class, laurel class (the new bigger nicer business class seat) is quite nice, very roomy. excellent service.

the shower at Taipei biz lounge is  big, nicer and more functional than even swiss first class or Singapore airline private lounge first class !

lounge at sfo: very busy, small, only opens 3 hour before flight. So if you arrive at sfo before, you have to go to united biz class lounge at international terminal

remember to order plum wine.

and of course, at Taipei airport, you need to stock up on famous HIGH mountain oolong tea. Taiwan high mountain oolong tea are sweeter, more refined than any other oolong tea.

sfo airport:

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lie flat seats


you see those s biner clips and Kathmandu case on the next pictures? they are so convenient, as you can easily clip and organize


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shower at tapei eva lounge: you need a special key, hotel style, to activate the lights inside the shower room




toilet and shower inside the same room? perfect. not like other first or biz class lounge, where the toilet is somewhere else.



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plum wine


Taipei eva lounge



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business class TPE-CGK: non lie flat


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How to stay connected abroad cheaply, get voice and internet, by using latest technologies

rule #1:  ALWAYS remember to remove the normal home country sim card before you leave to another country, or before you land at international countries, and ALWAYS remember to disable the data on your cell phone before, IF not you will incur A BIG roaming data charge, costing you thousands of dollars for checking your emails, using maps,  facebook etc..

now, if you remove your home country sim card, then how do you receive and make voice phone calls for cheap? how do you get internet access everywhere on you cell phone and avoid paying hotels internet?

1. Get FONGO app for android, bb, or iphone, ipad

2. Download and activate fongo app, that will give you a free canada phone number. You can get and choose your own area code, example 514-xxx-xxxx montreal area code.

3. Write down the new phone number that fongo provide you

4. Before you leave canada, on your cell phone, Forward all your canadian cell phone voice calls to the new fongo phone number. All your cell phone calls will then now ring on the fongo app, and since the fongo phone number is local to the area wherever you live, there is no long distance fees from your cell phone carrier.

if you are from other countries, usa, europe etc, get a local skype number, then forward call call to the skype number. Anyone that call your normal number will ring on your skype device

5. Once you arrive at the international destination, france, japan, Indonesia etc, buy a LOCAL country prepaid data sim card for your UNLOCKED phone. You can use ipad if your ipad has sim card slot. and of course your phone has to be unlocked. (you are travelling and do not have unlocked phones ??!!)

6. Activate the data on your new prepaid local sim card.

7. Start fongo app et voila! Now anyone that call you at your Canadian phone number will ring your cell phone through fongo app.

8. and if you need to call canada phone numbers, you can use fongo to call anywhere in canada for free. Voice mails are downloadable in fongo.

9. For call to local country where you are visiting, use the local sim card, or use skype.



If you travel to many different countries, more than 1 country,  the best, easiest and cheapest option is: ATT global data prepaid is an option, FOR $ 120 usd for 800 mb of data almost worldwide for one month. You get HDSPA 3g+ speed, (if available) instead of 1 or 2 G at sprint or Verizon option. ( I got 3g speed even in india)

it works easily and is fast everywhere.

why prepaid? because you can control how much data and how much money you want to spend overseas. if you are on roaming and are on monthly postpaid fees, your data usage can be unlimited and with unlimited costs.

You need to get the FREE USA ATT data sim card from an att usa store, or ask a friend in usa to ship you one. The SIM card has to be non –  activated, virgin. ( a lot of att staff will be confused and want to activate you the same day on some type of data or voice option, saying they need to do it before giving the sim card to you.

The ATT  sim card can be registered by the att staff in their system but insist that they are not to be activated. why? once they activated on the wrong plan, you cannot use or activate it on the global data pass)

Then you activate the att data sim card later before you leave the country.

You then can use FONGO or Skype apps to make cheap calls.

wifi hot spot, to avoid hotels internet charges: 

once you already have your att data sim activated, if you need to access internet from other devices, laptops etc, all you have to do is activate the wifi hot spot function on your smartphone or ipad. (Tethering)

Usually you will have access to 3g speed, anywhere. It will let you avoid internet scam charges from hotels.

another advantage of the att data sim card is that the att wifi hot spot use the same data allowance as what you already prepaid. On most home cell phone providers, they charge tethering data separately!


Iridium satellite phone:

if you mostly want a voice option that works anywhere, in the middle of the seas to the north pole, get an iridium satellite phone. The cost of the satellite phone is marginally more than a smartphone, and for yearly prepaid pass, the cost per minute of of a CALL OUT is cheaper (start at $1 usd to $1.75) than even your normal postpaid roaming charges from your home country provider (sometimes they charges as much as $2-$4 dollars per min.)

on your cell phone, if someone calls you on your normal home country phone number, and you choose not to answer, and if it gets transferred  to your voice mail, you get charged $2-$4 dollars per minute for someone to leave a voice message)

disadvantages of iridium phone:

1. cost of the phone ($500-$1200 for the new extreme)

2. need clear view of the sky. has to be outside when making calls

3. people calling you, calling IN your iridium phone number: very expensive, they pays $10-$14 usd per min, unless they know how to use 2 stage iridium calling.


trip planner: raja ampat diving, tokyo

last year we heard about diving in raja ampat  misool eco resort . we wanted to see it for ourselves

trip planner: as with wakatobi resort, you cannot arrive and depart any day, you have to arrive and depart at specific dates. raja ampat is at the west side of the island of papua new guinea, 4 hours flying direct from Jakarta with express air: raja ampat airport is SORONG (SOQ)

all express air (code: XN) from Jakarta airport (CGK) to Sorong (SOQ) depart at domestic terminal in Jakarta early in the night (1am).

The boat from sorong – misool is 4-5 hours. (so you usually need to stay 1 night in sorong before flying home)


  • extra luggage fees for domestic flights: as we are divers with a lot of luggage, bring lots of Indonesian cash, as the luggage limits are strictly enforced. excess luggage is at 40000 idr per kg (about 4usd). ONE WAY.The extra luggage fees can be reduced if you do not ask for official receipt.
  • domestic airport taxes: remember to keep around 40000 IDR per person for airport taxes at CGK domestic. Airport taxes in ALL of Indonesia are cash payment only.
  • foreign currency exchanges are a lot cheaper than paying with credit cards or atms, as long as you exchange it in crisp USD in Jakarta downtown. (inside keraton plaza shopping complex). do not exchange in hotels, airports.
  • international VOA visa on arrival at CGK aiport: 25usd per person. cash only. you line up to pay and get the visa first, at the FIRST line: payment, even if other lines says VOA (it is actually border control for voa)
  • taxi in CGK: when we landed in CGK international airport, we previously asked the Keraton plaza hotel to pick us with their BMW limousine service. cost 60 usd.
  • is the hotel pick up service worth it? yes. a long ride in comfort, especially considering Jakarta famous traffic, heat, and with pick up meet and greet service, and the fact you can charge it to your room without spending cash (get some spg points) or having to get foreign exchanges at airport is effortless.


our flight was all business class: canada-SFO-TPE-CGK with review eva air (BR)  business class

return:  CGK-HND / (stop) NRT-SEA-canada with review of ANA 787 Dreamliner business class

cost: 120 000 us airways miles per person, or around $ 1200 (+5%gst) usd pp (with their bi annual transfer miles bonus promos)

HOTELS logistics:

Jakarta: review of KERATON plaza hotel, a luxury collection starwood

Sorong: JE meridian hotel (not THE meridien hotel, not part of starwood). normally required stay in sorong  one night before flying home, as the boat from misool resort takes 4-5 hours.

raja ampat: misool eco resort

Tokyo: Westin tokyo