Jeritilley A picture is worth a thousand words..

hotel

On the menu tonight – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…”  Life was much easier when APPLE and BLACKBERRY were just fruits”.

” Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings”.

One of the delights of foreign travel are the unusual foods that you find, especially in the local markets.  Today’s photo comes from a trip about 10 years ago to Laos, and shows some of the foods on offer in the market.    Fried frogs and also fried rat are for sale here, together with something in the centre of the display which I can only guess what it is (any ideas????).  Squirrels on a stick and snake are also common, and wild birds also feature on the menus.    Far better is the local Lao (arabica)  coffee, which is surprisingly good.    And to finish off the meal…..Lao Lao, or the local whisky, made from rice.   Very strong of course, and the one that I tasted had been made in old oil barrels.    The oil gave the whisky an extra taste.  The Scotch may use old brandy and cognac barrels to give their whisky a special taste, but the Lao secret was oil barrels.  Definitely different.   If oil is not to your taste then you can also get Lao whisky infused with snake.  They claimed that snake-infused whisky has medicinal properties and that it can be used as an aphrodisiac.   Not tried that one, nor the fried frogs or squirrels.    There are limits, sometimes.

LOW-RES-food

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Soothing sunet – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…” Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life”.

Time to dig another photo out of the archives, and since it is Friday then a nice sunset to finish off the week.   Do deep from the archives comes this sunset photo.   The colours of a sunset are actually caused by dust, and also the way that light diffracts as the sun appears to move lower.   Nine major planets orbit the sun, which is around 149 600 km away from the Earth. All the planets also orbit the Sun in the same direction, which is anti-clockwise.   Solar activity is on an 11 year cycle, where every 11 years it reaches it maxium.  The sun also reverses its polarity every 11 years, with the Magnetic North becoming the magnetic South.

As the colours change so fast at this time of day, a series of photos were taken, then the one with the best colour was selected.   The photo has been cropped from the original.

If the good people at Air France Customer Service are reading this, then I would really appreciate it if they could reply to emails and sort out the 2012 refund problem.  Answering emails does not appear to be their strong point.

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Thinking in Cuba – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” Dream with the belief that you may never awake from your slumber”.

”  In our search for perfection, we sometimes lose our way”.

A photo from the Cuban capital of Havana for today’s photo.  Cuba has around 4000 islands and cays, and a population of around 11.25 million people, and is probably most famous for Cuban cigars and Cuban rum.    Interestingly, it has the highest doctor to population ratio in the world.  The highest point, Pico Turquino, rises to 2005m.  It is also home to the world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird.  Although it has been isolated from the USA for a long time, it actually lies only 145km from the American coastline.  Sugar, nickel and tobacco are the main exports, although tourism is also important now with over 2.6m tourists a year.  Something to think about, as this man is doing…….

wordpres-Cuba-man

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What was he thinking? – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” You cannot have what you do not want”

”  Your present is nothing but the future of your past.  Whatever you do today will reflect in your tomorrow”.

Digging deep into the photo archives (which go back many years) for the picture today.    Today’s picture is of an Iraqi boy.  One of the advantages of compact ‘bridge’ cameras are the large zooms that many of them have.    This photo was taken at around a 24X zoom, but even with the small sensor, the results were good.   Bright light without any strong sunshine helped make this photo a great portrait shot.  We can only speculate about what he was thinking, although the eyes say a lot.     One of my favourite photos from Iraq.

wordpress-boy

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Brunei mosque – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day…..”Losers let it happen, winners make it happen, and others wonder what has happened.”

I am still sorting out thousands of photos going back far too many years, but it is good to look back and remember some of the highs and lows of travelling.    Easier to forget the sometimes unpleasant parts and remember some of the fantastic experiences.   Things are changing so fast nowadays that many of those experiences are unrepeatable now, and the photos bring back the memories.

The photo today is from Brunei, which was hardly one of the most exciting stopovers that I did.    If you are playing Trivial Persuit then it is good to remember that the capital of Brunei is Bandar Seri Begawan.  Brunei has a population of around 415 000 people, with English and Malay being the main languages there.  It became fully independent from the UK in 1984.  About 90% of its GDP comes from oil and natural gas.    The photo here shows the Ali Saifuddin Mosque.

web-mosque

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Head to head – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….’ Maybe it is better to bend a little than to break altogether”.

” Do not stay in the past, it will hurt in the future”.

Did you see the story in the news about the jacket that the chocolate manufacturer, Cadbury, has commissioned which react when the wearer consumes certain chocolate products?   Apparent, as the chocolate carrying-hand is raised to the mouth, LED lights in the jacket light up to show the mood of the consumer.     Did you know that 16 of the top 20 chocolate-consuming countries are in Europe?  Switzerland is number one, with an average annual consumption of around 11.3 kg/person.  Austria, Germany and Ireland are also high on the list.

Walking around the streets of Morocco, and found this shop selling different parts of animals.   Certain that I would not try any of these heads!  If heads are not your thing, then the same stall had everything from feet to other less appetising parts.   Perhaps it is good to be vegetarian sometimes!

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Face in the Forest – Not the Quality Spa Resort, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise question”.

“Three Rules of Work –  Out of clutter find simplicity, from discord find harmony, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”  Albert Einstein.

I made the mistake of purchasing a laptop which came with Windows 8 installed.  I am now regretting that decision.  Windows 7 was fine, and worked as it should, but Windows 8 has been an exercise in frustration.   There are already lots of comments on the internet about the problems with Windows 8, and from what I read, the update to Windows 8.1 has not improved matters.

Do you think that Microsoft would win back a lot of support if they admitted the problems and offered all Windows 8 users who were not happy an option to change (=upgrade) to Windows 7.   I for one would be very happy to go back to the (superior) Windows 7.    And I would also think more of Microsoft for being honest and for trying to fix the W8 problems by offering a free option to change back to W7.

But like an ostrich with its head in the sand, Microsoft tries ANOTHER temporary patch (W 8.1),  which will no doubt be followed by 8.2, 8.3…….. and between all those patches, will continue to shut down MY computer for ‘updates’.

Customers can forgive a lot, IF they can see that a company is trying, but the impression that MS is giving is of a company determined to continue in the wrong direction.

I am sure that lots of us how now had enough, and that MS is going to lose out in the long run.   I really would like to sit down with Bill Gates and ask him to show me how W8 should work.   No doubt he would be equally FRUSTRATED with W8.    But perhaps he has already ‘upgraded’ to Windows 7.

And for the photo today, a school girl in Laos.   Lovely neutral expression on her face, and despite the shaded conditions in the trees, the light was quite good for the photo.  Sometimes when the subject stares into the camera, it can work, as in this photo.

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Heading to market in Pakistan – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” Those who forget where they came from tend to get lost where they are going”.

” Sometimes you have to take a leap at life and build your wings on the way down”

After all the stress and frustration of Emirates Airlines (see the last post for the details), I ended up cancelling the ticket completely.   No more bookings with Emirates Airlines, lesson has been learnt. But life goes on, just that I will never buy another ticket with an airline that has such bad customer ‘service’.

Today’s photo comes from the northern part of Pakistan, not far from the border with Afghanistan.   Another one of those lucky photos that you just have to take without thinking, yet the position of the donkey and cart and also the beggar were great for the photo.   As usual, another shot taken with a cheap Panasonic camera.

LOW-RES-Donkey-&-cart

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Airline complaint – Emirates – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day..” Deposit happiness into your day, instead of withdrawing sadness”.

We are now in the 21st century (at least according to the Julian calendar) and we are surrounded by technology.   Yet, despite all the technology, life is sometimes very trying.  I made a mistake and purchased an air ticket with Emirates Airlines.  I know now that it was a mistake, as I have experienced their customer ‘service’.   Customer service are not words that I would use to describe the treatment that I received, because the people that I have dealt with clearly do not know the meaning of the words.

The conditions of my ticket stated that I was allowed to change the dates of travel.  That is one reason that I bought that ticket, as the dates were very likely to change.   First problem was that online if you tried to change your booking, you first had to cancel your current booking, not a wise thing to do until you are sure that there is another flight available.     So the next step was to contact the online chat section to ask for help.    There I was met by the most unhelpful staff ever.   The first assistant (‘Mary’) refused to discuss or do anything with the booking, and kept saying that I should telephone in.  Not only that, but she ended the conversation without warning as well.   Tried again, but the next assistant was equally unhelpful.  So what is the point of having ‘online chat’ if the people there are not actually going to do anything???

So reluctantly, I telephone in.  Not just once or twice, but many times during the day, each time trying to get someone at EMIRATES airline to change my ticket.   Usual story, nobody would do it, and I was passed from department to department.   The end result was that a large part of the morning and afternoon were wasted on long (and for that read very long) telephone calls.   Useless customer ‘service’ department.     And to make matters worse, different people gave me different excuses.   They just did not want to change the DATE of travel as I asked for.  And remember, the ticket conditions said that I could change the date of travel.

So the next stage was to try email.   21st century, so of course, emails will make matters easy.  WRONG.    Emirates do not publish their email addresses, and when you ask their staff, they will tell you that Emirates does not have email addresses for Customer Service.    And when you try and send emails to the addresses that you have already had messages from, they STUPIDLY send you a message back saying that the email address is no longer valid.   It is just their way of telling you to get lost.    If you want to pay for a ticket, then of course, no problems there, and they are delighted to make it all very easy online, but when you want to email them, then that is a different story.  Any airline that hides its email addresses is a bad airline.   An honest, open airline will not make it difficult for customers to contact it.

So having wasted a LOT of time on calls, online chats and trying to email, I am stuck with travel date that I do not want.    What is the end result of this?    Emirates have now guaranteed that I will NEVER make another booking with them.  I know that there are decent, open and honest companies out there, and Emirates has proved that their customer ‘service’ is appalling.    So Emirates have lost out in the long run.   I have asked them for a full refund so that I can go and book with a quality airline (such as Qatar) but I guess that I will never hear from Emirates again.  They have got my money already, and that is probably the end of story.  But for me, it was the end of bookings with Emirates.

On the subject of customer service, I will quote some good words written by Mike Michalowicz.  What he writes is very true, and the staff at Emirates should read these.  Thanks to  Mike Michalowicz  for these words –

“The Four Phrases of Amazing Customer Service……..Want your customers to spread the word about your hotel or Restaurant? …….Start by surprising them with the best customer service they’ve ever gotten:

1. “I don’t know, but this is what I’m going to do.” You’re not always going to have the answer to every question at your fingertips, and your customers will understand that. What they expect in exchange, though, is honesty and follow-up. The key here is to make a clear commitment like, “I’ll call you by 5 p.m. with the answer,” and then keep that commitment.

2. “I am very sorry.”  When you or your company make a mistake, the customer wants to hear you accept responsibility and apologize. Too many customer service reps have been trained not to accept responsibility, in some cases because they fear the legal record of having admitted failure.

3. “Yes.” “Yes” is what your customer wants to hear, and your goal should be to say that word whenever possible, especially if you’re working through a problem. Customers want progress.

4. “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Here’s your perfect wrap-up. Not only does this question give your customers the opportunity to bring up additional concerns, but it also lets them feel as if they’re in control. They can ask for additional information or can thank you for your spectacular service. Giving your customers the opportunity to raise additional concerns lets them know you value them enough to spend time ensuring they’re satisfied. Even if the customer called with a problem, if your customer service team can work through a resolution and end on a positive note, you can earn and keep those customers for life.
Source: Mike Michalowicz”

And today’s photo comes from the Korean capital of Seoul.   Nothing to do with airlines, but a nice photo!

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Early morning lift off – Not the Quality Spa Resort Hotel, Norefjell.

Thought for the day….” To be blind is bad, but it is worse to have eyes and not see”

” Success is the marriage of opportunity and preparation”.

1783 was the date of the first passenger-carrying flights in a hot air balloon, although the ‘passengers’ were actually a duck,sheep and a rooster.  It was the Montgolfier brothers in France who were the first human passengers, flying over Paris for 20 minutes.    Compare this to the world record flight of the balloon, Breitling 3, which flew around the world in 1999.   And a balloon piloted by Vijaypat Singhania (India) in 2005 flew to over 68 000 feet/21 000 m.    Today’s photo comes from Cappadocia in Turkey, showing one of the many balloons that fly over some very unusual landscapes.  If you are in Turkey then the balloon flights at Goreme are a must, highly recommended.

WORDPRESS-Turkey-balloon

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