Friday, February 09, 2007

The secret of luxury travel

is to gate crash an academic xxx conference in a half corrupted developing country! This combination is a dying breed so hurry up when you can.

I have read enough playmates' and players' luxury and not so luxury travel blogs. Here's my turn to write once.

It's a sort of gate crash as I have nothing to do with xxx other than a tourist. You have to know somebody to know that such good deal exists, as the "conference" are highly subsidized. The best is to find some sponsors to further write off some of the travel and conference fees for you and your accompanying spouse. Or simple get round some of it.

The conference organizer is some sort of ministry of xxx. Who can top that? The Head wants to throw a party for his own people with the excuse. He is a powerful man controlling the most lucrative ministries. Maybe he wasn't throwing a party. But somehow he was coming, so everybody tried to impress him with their resources and budgets.

Everybody lived in the brand new 5 star luxury hotel in town. I think the hotel was called upon to serve the country as no modest academics in the developed world would get those travel expenses approved. I doubt if there's any other decent hotel in town, as there was no beach resort there. But the pool with waterfalls brought a Mirage in Vegas feel. At first the staff were hunger for 5 star tips. But after the ministry put a big banner at the hotel front to welcome us guests, all staff knew who we were and felt it was an honor to serve us, even without tips. When I needed a taxi, they would call a street taxi for me, instead of the hotel taxis charged 5 star prices.

There were two gorgeous female staff looking after the male (and female) changing room for the pools and fitness center. One was fitness model material, early twenties, wearing tight vest and short, some sort of aerobic outfit. The other was late twenties, more like a beauty technician. At least one of them were available for massage! Not on them you silly. They would just walk into the changing room and massage you on the bench. I was tempted as the changing room was empty. They also did outcalls to your rooms! But unfortunately I brought my own - a 'friend". But I bet you won't get any serious extras unless you offer them enough to risk being fired.

The conference was held in a university theater built like a mini Albert Hall. The less than 100 attendee from all over the world were put in the middle, a few famous people passed their sell by date, surrounded by a full house of students watching from every available seat, including up there in the box seats. It took the organizers Disney parking lot style operations to bring in bus loads of university students from all over the country, to time share the available seats. At least they are supposed to look like U students. Even the lunch boxes to feed those students was a logistic challenge. But I was sure nobody was interested in the proceedings.

I did appeared for receptions and orientations, and did my part, looking good in a white linen shirt and a light colored linen suit. They had lots of good student photographers taking pictures of everybody like paparazzi. I had one picture taken like walking out of the Oscar's with my friend. Pictures were sold for cost only.

The best was of course the freebies that came with the conference. The dinner was outdoors with about a hundred kiosks, each with different unique styles of gorgeous food representing all over the country. The smell of exotic barbecue filled the air. But I didn't manage to eat anything. Because there was a fashion show! They flew in enough local top models to last the evening. That was a good enough excuse to flood the place with gorgeous models who had to stay the night at least. Though the Head was well known for not liking women.

We were basically standing right next to the catwalk to have a better look than sitting down. The Organizer, a close assistance to the Head, would tell a small circle of us friends to watch carefully. She knew some of the models and knew who would be available. Available probably meant single and looking. Or it might mean not yet taken up by the VIP's. That's sad as I had a friend with me. There was this young single American architect, who could just be a student studying architecture who didn't want to go home, took up the offer seriously. But that didn't stop him from hitting on my friend first. I let him talk a bit, boosting my ego. See, few came here for the tourism conference. Typically there were a lot more people at the night activities than the day. There were few lights apart from the stage. All the paths were candle lit, all the way back to the hotel, with different traditional musicians along the way.

There was an ancient dance show in a big impressive outdoor theater in ancient settings. It was not a show for the average tourists. All the glamorous costumes were in meticulous conditions. And of course the dancers were all model materials. The next day, when we left on a tour bus, from afar I could see that workers were pulling down a large stage and surrounding structures. No one bordered about it, or no one in the know was willing to talk about it. I over heard some locals saying that it's a one-night theater. I think I was right. They built the whole theater and stage with a World Heritage site as the backdrop. And since they weren't supposed to do that to a World Heritage site, they pulled it down the next day after the show.

When we weren't at the conference, the excursions include a day trip up the xxx, because my friend wanted to. So we hired a jeep. I insisted on examining the insurance cover. There were none. The guy reluctantly brought out some insurance policies, but the cover was so laughable that we went unprotected. Less than 10 mins after we left the hotel, I got trapped between two trucks, cut off by one of them and left a big dent on my jeep. So I entered into drag racing mode and we were OK since. The good thing was, we did not need to pay for the damage. Otherwise the rental guy in the hotel would have no business. When we needed a jeep again, he just avoided the same company that supplied our jeep last time.

The scenery was beautiful as we go higher up. At the xxx there was a large xxx lake. There was a traditional boat to sight see but it would take forever. Someone offered us a speed boat tour. They raised a small speed boat from under the water! Later we knew that those guys offering the speed boat wasn't in good terms with the other guys, so they need to hide the boat when not in use. After a quick and thorough tour we went back down. We were just on time for a small outdoor theater production after dark, again dance/drama in ancient costumes. Perfect for resting tired legs.

With the conference behind us, I flew with my friend to a nearby world famous beach resort. After all, it's summer. The night life was rich and concentrated behind one of the main beaches, with endless restaurants, bars and pubs. It was a bit like Jerusalem with all dominations - though not of faith but a variety of eating and drinking places. There were a lot of young backpackers to meet, as in European hostels. There were also plenty of mainstream tourists leaving their resort hotels once a while. It was a high energy place.

Soon I decided to move on to an island nearby so there couldn't be much things to do, except for lying on the beach or lying in bed. Unfortunately all sorts of water sports were available, water parachuting, jets, banana float rides etc. Worst of all, my friend saw some boats waiting on the beach and she wanted to charter one. It was a long trip to some remote islands. In the middle of nowhere the boat stopped for a visit of some rare corals. So we dipped in the water a bit, snorkeled a bit, and looked down 20 feet at the corals through the crystal waters. At the end nobody was sure which were the rare ones.

When we arrived at the remote island, a few shy, naked or semi naked woman were alerted, watched us for a while, smiled with approval, and then laid back down to enjoy their sun bath. Then we occupied part of the island and did nothing much other than snorkeling around the beautiful and plentiful corals by the beach.

On the way back, all hell broke loose. The boat was shooting like an arrow below the wave tops. We were all wet either because of the rain storm or the waves. The wooden boat was very streamlined and tough, which looked good, but I didn't know about the engine, which was at top speed to overcome the waves. Then I knew where approximately we were, where ferries sank and loads of people died.

It was an exhausting trip, including the indoor activities that I can't write about.


caroline said...

You can write about the indoor activity, I will not tell anyone.

Following that, can you please erase all your history and remembrance so that I will be the first and only one that you have adored?

LA Player said...

I can do that. By I'm a little tired pleasing you with words. How about fingers for a start?

caroline said...

Or figures