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  • Writer's pictureKirk

This is an article I wrote that Matthew from "Live and Let's Fly" posted on his website. I asked if he'd post it and he was kind enough to oblige. I'm reposting this here:

On October 23rd, 2022, I stayed in room 1515 of the Waldorf Astoria in Bangkok. This is a corner room on the top floor of the hotel. Unknown to me at the time I was across the hall from the Royal Suite, room 1518. This was the 3rd of my 3 night stay. The first two nights were very enjoyable without incident. But everything changed the night of the 23rd.

Business district Bangkok

I was already asleep by 10:00 pm but was rudely awoken by loud noises in the hallway a little before 1 am. As I normally do, I attempted to ignore it and go back to sleep, but the loud noises from the hallway persisted. I showed what I deemed a high degree of tolerance and endured the disturbance for nearly two hours.

At 3:00 am the noises from the hallway escalated. I arose from my bed and put on my Waldorf robe and opened my door. There I found around 12 people spilling out of the open door of room 1518 and into the hall. I yelled over the noise to get their attention but they ignored my pleas. I then began yelling more loudly until one young Thai man said “sorry”. I said please go inside your room and close the door. But they ignored, continuing their party from the room and into the hallway.

This was a huge party of probably 25-50 young Thai people (impossible to tell how many) partying all night in this room. I was confounded how so many were partying in this one room. It wasn’t until later I realized this was the Royal Suite capable of accommodating many.

This room goes for about $4500 per night. I deducted later that this large group of kids likely all chip in $100 to have a huge party. Actually not a bad idea as it is a good alternative to clubbing for a night when you can bring your own booze.

Well, this group of kids rented the room, not the hallway. At this point I had exhibited sufficient patience and called the front desk. They said they would send security up, but after 20 minutes, no show. So, I called again and asked the on duty manager be involved. This time a man who I assume was head of night security, Tom, arrived.

The hallway had about 5 or 6 kids in it when he responded to the scene. I opened my door when I realized he arrived to issue my complaint in person. I expressed my displeasure to their lack of respect. One of the young Thai men heard me and yelled at me, “this is normal”. I engaged him to reply this is not normal. At this point he took an aggressive attitude towards me in front of security. Tom did his best to de-escalate.

I went back to my room and Tom cleared the hall but the party was allowed to continue. When I knew Tom was alone in the hallway I opened my door and asked him what he was going to do about the party. He said they promised to keep it down. I asked him how could he ensure that with such a large party. He stated he would stand a security guard on the floor to maintain peace. To his credit he did and this man remained there all night (which was only about 2 more hours at this point).

Although he did ensure there was no more congregating and party spillover in the hall, I still endured the constant coming and going of young kids to and from the party. And although he tried to keep them quiet in their transference, it did not provide an environment conducive for sleep. I never slept the rest of the night.

The next morning I asked for a meeting with the assistant manager, Vanit. He was already aware of the situation and greeted me with apologies. He began by asking what he could do to make this right but I quickly responded I was not seeking, nor would I accept, any compensation. I was not complaining to get something out of it, but to express how egregious this was. I told him that even Thailand has fire codes concerning maximum room occupancy and I was sure Hilton would not be happy to know they were willfully violated.

I further told him I realize this stuff goes on in Bangkok but I thought it was restricted more to Sukhumvit and the associated Sois. I did not expect this from the business area and certainly not at the Waldorf Astoria (am I being naive I thought?).

He affirmed that this is not normal despite what the young Thai had told me. But I responded I was not so sure about that since the night manager and the head of security allowed this huge party to continue with their full knowledge. He replied they should not have allowed it and he would “train them”.

Vanit did the best he could to appease me even offering me the Astoria suite should I return. I told him again this was not necessary. I was offering him free feedback. The assistant manager was very cordial and patient with me as I relayed my story to him in a non agitated manner. I credit him for doing the best he could to manage his indefensible position.

I have travelled extensively over the years logging an average of about 4 months per year in hotels (all non-business stays so many weekend nights). That is enough experience to know when something is beyond the pale. I have of course experienced partying in hotels before, but nothing of this scale, never in a hotel of the prestige as the Waldorf, and never without management putting an end to it.

The next three nights I spent next door at the Grand Hyatt. These nights went, as usual, without incident even though I was again on the top floor, corner room (an area of the hotel where I believe partying would be more frequent). The three nights I spent prior to my stay at the Waldorf, at the nearby St Regis, also transpired without incident.

As much as “anything goes in Bangkok”, much like Vegas, I know this is aberrant behavior even for Bangkok, at least this area of the city. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but it’s usually restricted to certain hotels that accommodate this behavior.

I expect they did not want to interfere with a patron willing to spend $4500 for the suite so they were quite lenient with their rules in this case. But, as I told Vanit, they do so at the risk of being labeled a Bangkok party hotel rather than a business hotel. But perhaps that’s where they want to go with business travel down. I wonder what William Waldorf Astor would have thought? Or at least the Hilton brand.

Next time I’ll stay on the river. I’ve always had good experiences there.

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  • Writer's pictureKirk

I was adventuring within the bowels of Indonesia when I witnessed a strange event. The day started like most any other day, I was simply relaxing along one of the many beautiful beaches the island nation offers to those who seek its mysteries. A peaceful yet scorching day like most in this land.

I had fallen asleep in the afternoon sun, a big mistake anywhere, but especially here. Fortunately, I had applied my SPF50 that morning so minimal damage was done. Just some reddened ears from lack of application.

I woke up, still on the beach, but now it appeared night time was approaching. Had I really slept that long? Could I have napped for 7 hours or more? That was unheard of with my melatonin level. Surely something was amiss!

I don’t carry a watch, I really never understood the need for one these days when timepieces are ubiquitous throughout the world. So, instead I looked at my phone and was amazed it was only 5:30 pm!

What gives? Why the dark sky? And why the bright reflection in the distance against the dark sky?

It was then I heard an explosion. It was directly behind me! I had no idea what was happening, but I was a bit fearful to turn and see. But curiosity got the better of me and I looked:

It was an exploding volcano! I mean the top just blew off this thing. I knew Indonesia was known for violent volcanoes but I never dreamed I would be caught in one.

I realized then that the dark sky was not a falling sun, but soot rising from the volcano and filling the skies with its disgusting presence. Even I was covered in it:

I was unsure if I was in trouble or not. I’ve never been in a volcanic eruption before. Could the lava reach me? Are the fumes toxic? Is the soot good for the skin? These were the questions rolling around in my head.

I took my queue from the locals who seemed quite unfettered by the experience. So I stood there, covered in soot, watching the spewing of lava and soot and obnoxious gases into the air. And then suddenly it stopped. As quickly as it started, it now had ceased and desisted.

The fiery mountain was subdued. Whatever had upset its belly was now digested and the savage beast calmed. So I went back to my business of doing nothing and watching the sunset:

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  • Writer's pictureKirk

This lounge was a bit different than my normal experience but that’s what I prefer in my travels. This was part of Qatar Airways lounge collection so they offered Halal food for the Muslim patrons. However, my status with the alliance allowed me complimentary entry so I gave it a try:

I always enjoy the lounges where you can order off the menu. It was a buffet here as well, but if I have a chance to order off the menu I will always take that opportunity. Not only is it usually better prepared, but I don’t have to worry about people having just sneezed on my food as much. But that’s not a given.

I started off with some shrimp congee. Congee is like a rice soup. It’s very popular in Asia especially for breakfast.

Then it was on to poached eggs And hashbrowns.

Later, I moved from the dining area and enjoyed coffee and a private seating area. The lounge is not very crowded this morning.

I didn’t take that great of a video so you can see but I hope you can tell by the videos that I was a bit out of place here. This was Qatar Airways lounge so it was mostly Muslim people in here because they eat special foods and prohibited from eating certain things, such as pork.

Even though I appeared a bit out of place, I was not at all uncomfortable. This is an international lounge and people from all cultures and nationalities partake of the services here. Today, the world really is a global place.

I really enjoyed this lounge. It was very clean and the service was excellent. Having the rare opportunity to order from a menu at this lounge was a huge plus for me. I was concerned prior to entering I might not find the food to my liking, but I’m happy to say I was wrong.

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