Upgrade Bidding……

Let’s face it, we all would rather fly business class. I’m not sure when upgrade bidding was introduced but it appeared on all of my flights this summer. For those of you unfamiliar, it works like this; a few weeks before the flight, even up to a few days you are sent an email that indicates that bidding upgrades are available for your flights. This means that you can bid a certain amount of money to try and win an upgrade.

Most airlines have a little meter telling you how strong your bid is and then you go from there. After you have made your bid you have to enter your credit card info as a guarantee that if your bid is accepted you can be charged. You can withdraw your bid before the closing of the auction but not after it has been accepted.

I bid on all of my flights this summer. I won one. It wasn’t the best experience. I’ll explain how it worked on my Etihad flight from Bangkok to Abu Dhabi to Rome. Other carriers do it as well, Cathay Pacific and TAP were airlines I also tried. This post may answer questions as well.

Summer Travels

I’ve been all over the place so far this summer. Its been a mix of countries and cultures, cuisines, cities and airplanes. We started out the day after my school year ended. I actually had to leave a few days early because I had booked our tickets prior to snow days. Oh well. We took Amtrak to Newark as our flight was at 1:50 in the morning. I recommend this option if you have a flight later in the day. The train takes you right to the airports air train. Our terminal was packed with Cathay Pacific passengers and a Norwegian Air flight that had been delayed. Tensions were high with those passengers and I was feeling fortunate that wasn’t our circumstance. Never fun starting a flight off on the wrong foot with on-board anger. Here are a few shots from our flight.

We flew an A350 from Newark to Hong Kong and then to Bangkok. Loved the plane. Very quiet as well. Cathay Pacific has done a nice job integrating these aircraft into operation. We flew a Cathay 777 last year and the heat from the window was unbearable. The inflight technology is crisp, easy to use, fast, and an effective way to kill several hours.

Noodles in Hong Kong. No roaches seen!

2 hours in Hong Kong was enough for a quick bite to eat, walk around a little bit and then board our flight to Bangkok.

We arrived in Bangkok around 10am. Checked in early to the Shangri-La on the Chao Phrya River. We have stayed here many times and the price, location and staff can’t be beat. I truly love it here. The river is magical and the pool is an oasis to return to after a long hot day looking around Bangkok.

Check in at Shangri-La Bangkok
Streamline interactive devices for signatures and billing.
Shangri – La lobby.
Fantastic guest room!

We ate lunch at MK, a Thai chain that does suki, dim sum, and duck. This is my daughters go to and I love it as well. I enjoy the duck especially here while she eats a boiling pot of shrimp, squid, and glass noodles. No vegetables.

The evening is for som tam and kao mon guy.

Som tam with 3 chillies
Kao mon guy. Chicken over rice. Across from Robinson on Charoen Krung

Sorry about the repeat! Its been a long month. Bear with me. Headed to Rome from Bangkok on Etihad Airlines .


I’ve been craving dumplings and I figured Bangkok was a perfect place to find some. I ventured out into Chinatown yesterday but nothing really caught my eye or nose. It is a pretty hectic environment overall.

So I went with some reviews and headed over to CentralWorld. This is a huge mall in Bangkok. You can access it directly with the sky train at Siam station.

Din Tai Fung is on the 7th floor. This place was awesome. Easy menu, attentive staff and a very pleasant atmosphere. They make everything right there. I got soup dumplings, best I’ve eaten, a pork bun and Dandan noodles.

The menu is outside so you can see if it’s something you’d be ingested in.

Great people watching here as well and the mall has everything you could ever imagine. Can’t wait to bring my family back!

Back in Hong Kong

If only for 4 hours…..

I’m coming off an incredible flight operated by Cathay Pacific on one of its A350 aircraft. We left from Newark at 1:50am and arrived in Hong Kong at 4:30am the next day. I noted that the staff from Cathay did an amazing job forming lines to board. In the past this has frustrated me due to people pushing and being really aggressive. The staff did a nice job planning this out.

It’s a long flight and I think it’s safe to say the A350 on this route provides a great service. The seat was really comfortable, built well and no flat spots I’ve encountered from worn out seats. My back has been bothering me for the past week and I feel better than I did before I got on the plane.

The in flight entertainment was fantastic as well and the options and screen quality are the best I’ve ever seen. As a Social Studies teacher and lover of geography I could spend hours looking at them. Basically google earth at your fingertips and not limited to the route you’re flying.

Food was decent on the flight but not great. We had a great breakfast in HK at one of the only places open.

It always helps sitting next to a polite young man who was very nice and we had a brief conversation. My aft neighbor wasn’t my favorite with a lot of seat kicking, burping, slurping, attendant calls, etc… you know the type.

Really happy to get to our next flight and find it’s another A350 to Bangkok!

Hong Kong, its Africa hot!

Getting There.

I’ve always wanted to see Hong Kong.  It began with USA networks Kung Fu Theatre and ends with Anthony Bourdain’s excursions there; I guess it actually ends with my trip there.  Bourdain is one of my favorites people to read, watch and follow.  He brought me to some places I would have never gone or ever eaten at.  He moved me to tears on occasion and always inspired me to ask questions and to be involved with the food I was eating. Let’s face it, he wasn’t an ordinary guy either.   His insight was special, he had a great way of being able to capture a single moment in time, deliver it, then move on.  I miss him.

We arrived in Hong Kong at about 6 pm.  This was a side trip from Thailand in July of 2018.  Quick flight.  There are several options when getting from the airport to the city.  The whole place is a city!  We were staying in Kowloon which is across the bay from Hong Kong island.  There is a train that connects with the subway but we opted for a taxi.  They are comfortable and color coded as to where they can go.  I think ours was red, dropping us off at our hotel right across the street from a subway station.  We took the train on our way back to the airport.

The first thing I noticed about this part of the world was that it is really hot and humid.  I’m accustomed to the heat in Thailand but for some reason Hong Kong felt more oppressive.  Luckily I have a great selection of shirts from Patagonia that help with the heat and still look good but breathe well and are appropriate for most occasions.

We checked into our hotel and relaxed for a few minutes comparing the room to others.  It was good size, clean, included breakfast and the location was perfect.  We walked out into the steamy evening, and I mean steamy, to a dim sum place right across the street.  This place ended being my safe spot during the trip.  The food was good, waitresses were somewhat polite, I had no idea what they were saying; I just checked the boxes of what I wanted (there were pictures on the little menu)  and enjoyed.  The food was always really hot, burned my mouth a few times on soup dumplings.


The place was usually packed and after our third or fourth visit the staff were happy to see us.  Probably because we tipped.  I figure when in doubt just tip. People like tips.img_0404

Directly across from the main entrance to the Kowloon Shangri-La.

After our feast we retired for the evening ready to enjoy a good night sleep into seeing a massive city we knew very little about the next morning.

The Peak

I was up early trying to plan for our day.  I got some ideas by the time we went down for breakfast and we discussed what we wanted to do.



Over a fantastic breakfast buffet at the hotel we decided that we’d walk from the hotel to The Star Ferry and go from there.  The walk in the morning was quite pleasant with Hong Kong residents exercising along the sidewalks.  It seems that the streets in Kowloon don’t crowd until later in the morning.  Buying a ticket is really easy for the ferry.  Its quite cheap as well.  There are vending machines as you walk into the port.  We sat on the upper deck and enjoyed the trip into Hong Kong.


The walk from the ferry terminal to The Peak Tram was interesting.  We walked virtually inside for most of the way or under cover, weaving through malls, overpasses and other raised structures above the bustling city.  There were a lot of people out and about for a Sunday morning.  I couldn’t help but notice that there were virtually no men anywhere to be seen.  The masses were headed in the same direction as we were and as we passed by the entrance to the Peak Tram we came to a Catholic Church just up the hill from it.  It looks like many of the Philippine residents make their way here on Sundays.  We finally figured out we had gone to far and entered the tram area.


There is a nice little museum here that you may have a few minutes to look around at.  It does get crowded in here and it’s really hot so be prepared for that.  There is jostling for position in the line as well as in the tram so if you are uncomfortable with those scenarios like I am I usually just tend to stand and thats exactly what I did on the tram to the peak.


It is a steep incline to the top.  There are other options, like walking, but we opted for the full crowd experience over the full sweat soaked experience.  When you arrive you work your way through a maze of stores and restaurants to get outside on top of the peak.  There is even a Bubba Gump Shrimp place in there if your craving the American Cuisine.  We skipped all of this and the views up there are incredible, just be careful not to get hit with an out of control selfie stick.





Whenever I’m in West Hartford I eat Pho.

I’m working on my Hong Kong post!

In the meantime we had an appointment in Simsbury CT today.  After the appointment we decided to hit our favorite Vietnamese place for lunch.  I just wanted to tell people about this spot and the tasty delights that are housed within its walls.

I’ve never been to Vietnam, but I’d like to go.  Closest I’ve come is Laos where the French influence still resides throughout the country.

Pho 68 is a place we go to whenever we are close to West Hartford.  It neighbors a gym and rests above a new age church.  You could easily miss this place.


Maybe not.

Once inside you’re greeted to the relaxing flow of a fountain and bamboo decor.  I actually really like the atmosphere in here.  It smells good, big tables and most diners in here don’t look like the impatient american: and that’s a good thing.

I have two go to’s here.  1st is the Bahn Mi Thit Nuong.  It’s like a little beef sandwich with cilantro/coriander, grilled beef, carrot shreds and lettuce.  The baguette is excellent and tender with a crispness that is hard to replicate.  I’ve seen these in Laos but never tried one.  They are incredible here.


Bahn Mi.

Next is the Pho with beef.  It’s a really fragrant soup with rice noodles, white onion, scallion, cilantro, and thin sliced beef.  You get a heaping plate of basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and jalapeños to add to the bowl.  It’s a great soup, helped with my cold.

Not the best pics but it’s not fancy!  The beef is better the more rare it is (in my opinion) so when you push it down into the brothy depths it cooks, so don’t fear if you prefer well cooked meat, just push it into the bottom of the bowl and it will emerge grey and to your liking a few moments later.

My dining partners had the Pho with chicken….. delicious.  And the child sized bowl of beef Pho, also a hit.  They split a spring roll with chicken and some sort of pork floss which is very finely shredded pork,  They loved that as well.

One waiter working today, he did a great job, was friendly, but you need to ask for what you want.  I think you could also get up and pay your bill at the counter if needed.

If you’re near here, go eat some of their food, It’s a treat.  Hope you like it.

Greetings and thanks for joining me.

My first post and my first blog.  I’m psyched.

My name is Dan and I teach U.S. History at the middle school level.   When I’m not at school I spend a great deal of time with my family and friends in South Eastern Connecticut.  We cook, laugh, deal with dogs,  and enjoy everything this part of the country has on offer.  As a family we try and get out as much as possible and find ourselves on international and domestic trips several times throughout the year.

I want to share my experiences from the past and present through the eyes of someone that is anxious and at times impatient.  I think after reading some of my entries you’ll see the sort of person I am, take it or leave it.  I find travel to be the best medicine for my condition. I want other people to know it’s okay to be nervous about flying, it’s fine to be weary in a new city across the world, and not all the funky stuff you eat will make you ill.

I’m excited to share my stories and encourage people to take appropriate risks when venturing to new places.  I’m also happy to share ways to get through those tough experiences when you’re ready to just pack up and leave.  I’ve done that more than once!

My next post will be on a quick trip I took to Hong Kong last summer.  I’ll have airline tips, restaurant recommendations and what we did to keep busy for our 4 days there.