PEr FYI

May 25, 2010

The Irish Village, Dubai…discriminating service levels

Dreadful service by dreadful staff.

I used to like this place very much. The fountains, trees, outdoor picnic style seating and cobblestones create an atmosphere of relaxation.

However, though The Irish Village may have been a great place once, Dubai has moved on and left The IV behind. Unable, unwilling or too vain to change, this once Colossus of watering holes in Dubai is now a parody of itself. Visiting the place in May 2010, I met people who are sullen, unfriendly and who want to fight (and that is just the staff!). You have to carry your own tables and chairs because the staff would only attend to westerners and we were of the wrong colour of skin. The staff would be chatting amongst themselves and not take your orders until you walk up to them. It’s also the first Irish pub I’ve been to in the world which doesn’t screen English Premier League soccer/football matches.

Dubai is not known for its service, but this place sets all time low standards. This is the true truth and I say it as it is.

from left: Rafin, Isabella, Gerard, Hawk, Wendy, Kenneth, Paul, Karin, Elaine, Cindy, Shirley

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May 23, 2010

Dubai Segway Tours…don’t bother

The beauty of the Dubai waterfront…from Jumeirah Beach Hotel…to the billowing sail of the Burj Al Arab is undeniably spectacular.

You need to marvel and enjoy the beeze and view on the shores of the Jumeirah Beach along the Arabian Gulf…but not from the segway run by i-segway. It’s the most boring, hurried, I-don’t-care-about-you segway tour I’ve ever been on. You get the distinct feeling that the Philpino guide is rushing through the motions, probably finding us an interruption to his work (instead of being the reason for it). This is the true truth because I always say it as it is.

May 21, 2010

Desert Safari by Knight Tours, Dubai…2 hours of fun and 4 hours of yawn

Filed under: Activities, Tour, Travel, UAE — Tags: , , , , , , — PEr @ 10:00 am

Desert Safari is a must do when you are in Dubai. At least once and you don’t have to do it again. Also known as dune bashing, it  is a form of off-road driving using an off-road vehicle to explore the way on sand dunes of the desert.

The company we used was Knight tours. They pick you up from the hotel at about 15:00 and take you East for about 1 hour in a 4-wheel drive. The driver lets the air out of the tires ready for sand dune bashing and then away they go, driving maniacally around the dunes. They get those Toyotas on some crazy angles on these wild rides. An ocean of sand with waves that seem to swallow the 4×4’s whole. Then they bring  you to a camp that has dinner and a belly dancer show. Oh! Did I mention the brief camel ride for photo opportunity.

Here’s where it all begin to go downhill. The food was awful. The entire campsite was shrouded in a mood of boredom and restlessness. 2 hours goes by so sloooowly when you are comatosed.  We laid back on a majlis (a low cushion) smoked an apple-flavoured shisha (hubbly-bubbly/water pipe) under the night sky. We were revived at the end for a belly dancing and male spinner performance to the beat of Arabic music.

Having said that, I have to say this: a visit to Dubai would be incomplete without a trip to the Desert Safari. That’s the true truth because I always say it as it is.

May 20, 2010

Saudi Arabian Airlines….never again. Ever!

My strong recommendation: avoid this airline like the plague. Saudi Arabian Airlines is to be avoided at all costs. Do not fly on this airline. Otherwise, this may happen to you…

BeRt and I transited in Riyadh from Jeddah on our way to Doha. Our luggages have been checked through to Doha but we had to obtain our RUH-DOH boarding pass while in transit. The staff refused to check us onto the SV542 because we did not have an electronic visa, even though we vehemently pointed out to him that the Qatar Embassy website states that Malaysian and American passport holders will have VOA (Visa on Arrival) in Doha. He then proceeded to offload one luggage while the other luggage was flown to Doha….without the passenger! We had to purchase two extremely expensive tickets to fly out of Riyadh to Dubai (on SV554) on the spot. Surprise, surprise…it was cash only sale…no credit cards accepted.We had to sprint like an Olympic gold medallist to the ATM downstairs to withdraw the SAR2,300 to pay for the tickets. It took a lot of phone calls, persuasion, cajoling, begging to get those airport staff with a major indifferent attitude to get the luggage out of Doha and re-routed to Dubai. The luggage finally arrived in Dubai 30 hours later…and in a trashed up condition as well. (Why are we not surprised anymore at this stage?)

Oh yes, that same airport staff who denied us to board the plane subsequently told us to try to fly on Qatar Airways to Doha. If he was sure that we couldn’t gain entry into the country because we did not have an electronic visa, how could we get in if we’d flown a different airline? The bloke obviously realised by then that he’d made a mistake. A few other colleagues of mine got into Doha on VOA the next day without any problems. We are of the same nationalities.

Cabin crew are rated poor for appearance, atrocious for service, poor for comprehension, equally poor for assistance during flight. The service isn’t the best in the business, but it might qualify as the worst.

Had the worst travelling experience by Saudi Arabian Airline. My review may be harsh and somewhat silly to some, but here are the ratings I will give you:

On a scale of 1-10

Value for Money : 3
Service: 2 (if you don’t mind getting burned from a flight attendant pouring tea on you then go ahead and risk it)
Seats: 4 (the plane SV1026 from Jeddah to Riyadh must be at least 30 years old)
Ground: 0 (The staff basically do not care)
Ticketing: 1 (You can’t even purchase a ticket and make payment online)

Do not consider Saudi Arabian Airlines for any travels unless you are prepared to tolerate the service, the airport and more so – if you must transit via the Kingdom. This is the absolute true truth and I am saying it as it is.

May 19, 2010

Moevenpick Jeddah…..tolerable hotel in a convenient location

Filed under: hotel, Saudi Arabia, Travel — Tags: , , , , — PEr @ 10:48 am

This is a pleasant hotel but would be better if they kept the carpets in the bedroom clean. For a 5-year old hotel, the upkeep must not be very good as the carpet looked more like 15 years old.

Whoever designed the rooms were not thinking about the business traveller. When you set your laptop on the working table where the broadband line is, you’d have to remove the power plug for the standing lamp (like my colleague did) or in my case, the TV so that you can plug in your laptop to the power socket. In a twin-beeded room like mine, you’d think they would install light switches beside both beds instead of just one. The water pressure in the bathroom basin was either too low or too strong. Caution, wash your hands in a raincoat if you want to avoid getting your business suit all wet. I think the water supply in these taps are from the tall fountain in the city.

A handful of staff were courteous, friendly and helpful. The rest better be left unmentioned. An example would be the service staff at breakfast egg station in the morning, who goes about his work like it’s community service. Just when you need to go to the airport to catch a flight after breakfast, the service staff decides to vacate his post for 20 minutes and no amount of asking would get him to come back to prepare the two sunny side eggs you’d want. 

This is the true truth and I say it as it is.

May 18, 2010

Ju Shin Jung, Singapore…pricey, but Korean Charcoal BBQ at its best

This is absolute the best Korean BBQ place I’ve ever been to outside of South korea. It’s not cheap, but it’s DELICIOUS!!!

Had the Black angus beef ribs. Add garlic (only for the brave hearted)  and a bite of the tender meat + fresh lettuce made me feel like I’ve died and gone to BBQ beef heaven…well back to reality, the seasoning was good enough to make us scrape the chared grill plates craving for more. Equally heartwarming was the marinade chicken legs. Warning- the small unseeming garlic piece can numb your whole palate for 60 secs (while drowning down half a reservoir of ice water).

To mention, is also a novelty, which are the capsule tissues which requires you to pour water on it, to turn into normal wet paper towels. A nice touch at the end is the heart shaped watermelons which are very sweet.

I also will say, I’ve had loads of Korean food, from many a Korean restaurant. I’ve spent much time in Seoul, at various bbq places out there. So I think I have some decent means for comparison. My family and I sat around saying “Why do we not come here more often??? It’s soooo GOOOOOD!!!” This is absolute the true truth and I say it as it is.

May 17, 2010

Xiao Yang Sheng Jian, Shanghai…great dumplings eaten with a stained shirt and burned tongue

This outlet at a food court is famous for its shengjian or pan-fried dumplings. 

What makes them so addictive and yet, so tricky to eat, is the scalding hot pork broth which surrounds the juicy meat filling, so just be careful when you’re chomping down on the shenjian as it is filled with delicious, but very, very hot juices. I now know that eating sheng jian properly is an acquired – a newbie like me is immediately exposed by the squirting pork broth, stained shirt and dribbles down the chin (not to mention, burned tongue). Writhing in agony,I took a look at the eating techniques of those around me. Most bite a small hole in the pastry, suck out the soup, and then proceed to devour the rest in a bite or two.

Expect a long line of hungry patrons, but you will be rewarded with the freshest, hot-out-of-the-frying-pan sheng jian. This is definitely the true truth as I say it as it is.

May 16, 2010

Shanghai sideways…Shanghai Sean Connery style

Shanghai by vintage motorcycle sidecar. This is truly a unique way of touring around the city. It’s actually quite comfortable, with plenty of leg room and it’s really a lot less life-threatening than Sean Connery made it look in that movie “Indiana Jones and the Last crusade”.

Sitting in that sidecar, there’s nothing between you and Shanghai’s uninhibited, gritty, and wildly-contrasting sights, neighborhoods in both Pudong and Puxi and the Bund. Nothing, not even the cold could stop us from hopping onto the back of a stranger’s motorbike and speeding down Shanghai’s suburban roads, the wind in our hair. We were in search of adventure and Shanghai Sideways delivered. After all, there’s nothing like the sensation of the cold wind hitting your face and the hot rumble of a motorbike beneath you to get the adrenaline pumping. That’s the true truth as I say it as it is.

May 15, 2010

Robinsons, Singapore…customer service at its worst

Filed under: Shopping, Singapore — Tags: , , , , — PEr @ 5:54 pm

Saturday, 8 May 2010 20:38:19

RE: robinsons.com.sg: Feedback received From: robmarketing

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your email. We apologise for the inconvenience caused. We will forward your email to The Card Services Department and you will hear from them shortly.

Regards,

Sheela

Customer Service Robinsons@Centrepoint

I have not heard from anyone ever since this email.

 don’t know if Sheela understood the word “shortly”but I understand it as in a short time; soon. One thing’s for sure, seven days is definitely not soon in terms of prompt customer service. Making empty promises is also a mortal sin in customer service.

It says on their website that “The name Robinson & Co has always been synonymous with impeccable customer service”. My Collins dictionary defined ïmpeccable”as without flaw or error; faultless. Clearly, the people at Robinsons must have used a different dictionary. That’s the true truth. I say it as it is.

May 8, 2010

Robinsons Singapore…membership “dis-privileges”?

“OCBC Robinsons VISA Platinum Card is the only one card that gives you more privileges” Huh? How is this possible??

One of the benefits is invitation to Cardmember Events…like private closed door sales events. A piece of mechandize which was not on sale during the closed door event had a 20% discount the next day…during the general public sale day.

Free parking is one of the benefits. But recently a cashier double-charged us for an item, and when we went back to Centrepoint to get refunded,we were charged parking fees of over $3. Any chance for waiver? We’d asked. Certainly not. At Robinsons, they give you the “privilege” to pay for mistakes their staff makes.

“The card that gives you more…?”

Definitely.

The card that gives you more feelings that you’ve been discriminated against and not appreciated. That’s the true truth and I am saying it as it is.

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