Sunday, 24 September 2017

Mandarava Resort & Spa, Karon Beach, Phuket 17 to 20 September 2017

We decided to pamper ourselves or rather me with a 3 nights escapade at the 4.5 star Mandarava Resort & Spa. Since it was also my birthday, we booked the Panaromic Deluxe Room 1206.

The resort is nestled on a steep jungle fringed hill some 12 mintues walk from Karon beach. There's some walking to the restaurant for buffett breakfast, the gym and the main swimming pool. BTW, there are 5 swimming pools spread out across this resort!

 Kudos to the Hotel Management to have the entire resort in its natural surrounding with a rich and diverse plants, flowers and trees. There are even streams running through the grounds creating a relaxing and calming effect.

There is a daily shuttle van service back and forth to Karon Beach. However, there is no complimentary shuttle service to Patong town approximately 5 km away. It cost 150 baht one way by the hotel van. On the 3rd night, we rented a scooter instead for 300 baht to go to Patong town.

The room was big with a view of the ocean from afar but not exactly a panaromic view, lol. The bathroom came with a bath tub and a separate shower cubicle.

Buffet breakfast was alright (the best so far is still Pullman Arcadia, Phuket) and we had 3 consecutive extravagant dinners at the Sweet & Sour restaurant recommended by many in Trip Advisor which is locted just a few minutes walk from the resort.

All in all, a great 3 day escapade to celebrate my birthday.

AirAsiaGo. Tic plus hotel: RM1788.50.
Taxi to & fro KLIA2: RM75 x 2
Shuttle Mini Van to Karon Beach, 200 baht per pax.
Booked private taxi from Patong town, 800 baht.

Decent gym

View from room balcony

Karon Beach. Not as crowded as Patong beach.

Mango sticky rice

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 8: Istanbul highlights

In the last day of our tour, we covered the must see in the historical part of the great city of Istanbul. The itinerary includes Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and the Grand Bazaar.

Topkapi Palace
Today, it is a museum. But in the past, built in 15th century, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans for about 400 years.
Entrance to Topkapi Palace

Outer palace grounds

Entrance to palace grounds

Elaborate ceiling decor

Waiting area for foreign dignitires visitng the Sultan

Overlooking the Bhosphorus Straits

One of the many chambers

Royal kitchen with extra large cauldrons to feed the many palace staff

Exterior of the Royal Kitchen. Noticed the many chimneys.

Sultan's suit of armour

Sultan Ahmed Mosque - The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque, as it is popularly known to tourists still functions as a mosque for the faithful answering to the call to prayer. Hand painted blue tiles adorn the mosque's interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque's five domes. It is also the only mosque that has six minarets. Our hotel is located at the back of this grand mosque, just walking distance away.

Inside the Blue Mosque

Hand painted blue tiles

Hagia Sophia
From the Greek word Aya Sofia, it was a Greek Orthodox Christian pathriarchal basilica, later an imperial mosque and now a museum. It was constructed in 537 AD and served as a seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople and subsequently converted to a Catholic church during the Fourth Crusades.

Famous for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years.

Hagia Sofia

Elaborate painted ceilings

Even then, there were ramps leading the people to the upper terraces

Great views from the upper terrace. Evidence of Islam influence.

One of the four seraphims at four corners of the great dome

Shot of the great dome

Notice the halo above my

Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is tone of the oldest and largest covered market in the world, with 61 chaotic covered streets and over 4,000 shops in one sprawling area. On an average, 250,000 to 450,000 tourists visit this famous market daily.

Be prepared to be lost in a labyrinth of narrow streets filled with shops, people, cafes and restaurants.

One of the many entrances to the Grand Bazaar

After the visit to the Grand Bazaar and dinner, we came to the conclusion of our tour of Turkey. All in all, it was an interesting and enjoyable tour with the highlight been the hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. All meals were included, all entrances to places of interest paid and hotel accommodation was generally fine and comfortable. We traveled approximately 2,216km across Turkey.

Tour Company: Parlo Tours
Duration: 10 days 7 nights
Cost per pax: RM4,121.

Four of us parted ways with tour group and said our goodbyes as we extended our stay in Istanbul by another 3 nights.