Saturday, March 16, 2013

When Tripadvisor won't advise - Happiness Guesthouse

For quite a few years I've gathered valuable information from and contributed what I could, myself. Even adding unlisted hotels and guesthouses to their list. To do that, you must provide as much detail about said establishment, as possible. 

However, after sending specifics about the Happiness Guesthouse and a great hotel in Khon Kaen, I was politely rejected and given this link.

I didn't really want to sift though Tripadvisor's requirements, so decided to do my own review here for the Happiness Guesthouse. Here goes...

Refer to previous post to how we arrived at our lodgings. Now I'll just show you some photos of where we stayed with a few relevant and not so relevant comments :)

Massive (wet) bathroom with danky corners
The 300 Baht room...hardish mattress
Large 400 Baht room with private balcony
Private balcony over looking the street
View way off in the distance on a hill top, taken from the roof top of the guesthouse

Another view of the bathroom in need of a good scrub
From the roof top (not meant to be up there) looking down on the car park
The communal balcony on the upper floor.
Comments: Beware the red chairs, they've been sitting there for years and tend to collapse under farang (non Thai sized foreigners). Internet is available at an hourly rate, I didn't bother using it, I was kapooped. The staff that greeted us, the old guy who owns the place, didn't speak English and wasn't very customer savvy. Later that afternoon a couple of younger people appeared in reception and were helpful the one time I asked for information. No breakfast or toiletries, and no luxuries such as an in room's a guesthouse. 

Finding breakfast was a bit of a challenge, encountering no boiled eggs (ไข่ลวก kài-​lûak...frustrating, because we pronounced it kai luuang for most of our trip and were understood!) and toast (not for me) on the service road we did a U turn on the suggestion of a local and started to head back out of town. It wasn't long before we spotted a western style coffee shop/cafe. 

The location. Right next to a train track, not visible and rarely heard from the guesthouse.

View Happiness Inn Pak Chong Thailand in a larger map

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Road trip - Pattaya to not quite Nakhon Ratchasima

Initially this was going to be a motorcycle ride, with five of us on four largish bikes...I don't ride. However, circumstances dwindled us down to three and the fact that Australian travel insurance companies are unwilling to cover motorcyclists in Thailand, left us hiring a car.

Personally I was OK with this, I don't mind a comfortable seat, aircon and shelter from the elements. And, besides, I've done my time on the back of a scooter for a year in Chiang Mai and even more painful memorable, to Laos and back.

We asked around and researched on the internet about hiring a car and decided on Hertz. The prices were reasonable and I couldn't find any negative reviews about the company, and collecting it (Honda Civic) in Pattaya meant we wouldn't have to drive in Bangkok traffic.

We also rented a Sat Nav which we dubbed 'Ning Nong'. No it's not a Thai name, it's because most of the time she wanted us to drive on the service roads, even though we nominated NOT to avoid highways. My android tablet and phone were armed with three Thailand Map apps, as back up. More about them another day.

So, about midday we load our destination 'Nakhon Ratchasima something or other' into Ning Nong and off we go. Me, the self nominated back seat driver, Stray in the driver's seat and his nong sao, younger sister, as copilot.

As time passes we get the feeling that we're not heading in quite the right direction...we're getting way too close to the big mango for comfort. My Thailand GPS Map by Kaart Data  concurs and we reset our destination, ensuring that it is in fact in Muang (city) Nakhon Ratchasima, like the airport, not a government building in Bangkok.

Success, we're on the right track, driving along highway 9 waiting to meet up with highway 1, when Ning Nong decides to take us on a scenic detour. It was nice to get off the highway and we did make a comfort stop and enjoyed a bite to eat at a market full of recently released inquisitive school children, but yet another delay in our plan to reach Nakhon Ratchasima.

As we drove into Pak Chong we voted unanimously that that was enough adventuring for one day and asked Ning Nong to find us a hotel.

"You've reached your destination" she says, as we pull up outside of what looks like could have been a small hotel once upon a time. Stray gets out and talks to a man sitting out the front and a passer by who is more than willing to give him some friendly directions to what turned out to be a 5 star hotel not far on the same road.

A bit out of our price range, reception gives us the name of an establishment more within our means. However, before we find it we see a sign saying 'Happiness Guesthouse'.

Sounds ideal!

Larger 400 Baht room with private balcony.
The guesthouse is nearly at the end of a quiet, except for an occasional train hurtling by, suburban no through road. The building itself is lovely, a tiny touch of possibly French architecture. The rooms are tired and basic, although clean and substantial, ranging from 300 - 400 baht. All of the rooms have a communal balcony with tables and chairs overlooking the car park.

Famished after a long afternoon of getting to know Ning Nong and becoming reacquainted with Thai road rules, we moseyed along down to the 'Texas Saloon'. We'd noticed this nice establishment during our hunt for a hotel.
We didn't opt for a steak, but can certainly vouch for their Thai food. My fried noodle dish with chicken, vegies and green pepper corns was delish!

Next stop Khon Kaen.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai