Review: Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0

Last May, Asus launched the Zenfone 2 smartphone in the Philippines, and I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a unit to use and review. Though my review was based on just two days of use, I’ve continued using the unit until a couple of weeks when I received the Zenfone 2 Laser to review.

Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 comparison

To easily differentiate between the two Zenfones in this review, I shall refer to my Zenfone 2 as Miss Satsuki.

First Impressions

I was given another red colored unit, and upon first sight, I thought it was identical to Miss Satsuki. The Laser is just slightly smaller though, measuring at 5 inches. Though I have gotten used to Miss Satsuki’s 5.5 inch screen, I have to admit the Laser is a more comfortable fit for my hands.
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Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Bangkok is one of my favorite cities to visit, and after several visits, I have already established some habits: staying at the same area, eating at the same places. For my recent trip, I knew I had to try something new, so when Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok offered me a great rate for a two night’s stay, I jumped at the opportunity.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Location

The Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok is located at the banks of the Chao Phraya River. On my first visit to Bangkok, I was enthralled by the busy activity in the river — while it’s not the prettiest river to look at, I love how the locals use the river as part of their daily commute. It’s a river that’s teeming with life.

Though I often stayed in places away from the river, I love going there and riding the river express to Khao San Road or to visit the temples. I suppose as someone who lives in the city where the river is underutilized, this is somewhat a novelty that I indulge in when I travel.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

It was my first time to stay in Bangrak, and right after checking in, I was eager to explore the area, specially after reading that there’s a great restaurant that serves duck nearby. The area behind the hotel has plenty of shops that caters to the needs of the locals, rather than the tourists, and restaurant and food stalls frequented by office workers. It wasn’t a posh neighborhood, and the main road is really very busy, so you get a real feel of the local vibe.

Transportation to and from the hotel

For first timers to Bangkok, the hotel’s location by the river is ideal: it is right next to the Saphan Taksin BTS station, and within comfortable walking distance to the Sathorn Pier, which is the central pier of the Chao Phraya River Express boats.

The proximity to the BTS station means that you can conveniently go to the city center via the SkyTrain, while the pier means that The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Po, Wat Arun, and Chinatown are just one boat ride away.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

One note about the BTS though: there is no elevator going down to the ground level (at least, not near the Shangri-La exit), so if you took the train from the airport, you’ll have to lug your bags down the stairs. Also, it’s the Krungthep wing that is nearest to the BTS, so if you are staying at the Shangri-La Wing and are just about to check-in, they can arrange to have their tuk-tuk bring you to the Shangri-La Wing lobby. It was a really nice way to experience riding the tuk-tuk in Bangkok without having to worry about getting charged an exorbitant amount for a short ride.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

If you’d rather take the taxi though, the concierge can arrange for a taxi to come pick you up at the lobby. I was told that the hotel has its fleet of taxis, which means you won’t have to wait long for a ride. When a car comes, whether it’s a taxi or an Uber, the bellboys would talk to the driver to make sure that they know where your destination is. It’s a simple gesture that I really appreciate.

Deluxe Balcony Room

My room was a Deluxe Balcony Room on the 20th floor. Like all my previous rooms at the Shangri-La, it was spacious, has everything I needed for the short stay, and have a very luxurious bed.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

The bathroom, as always, was equally spacious, with a separate shower and tub. The shower stall has both the hand-held shower nozzle, which I prefer, and the overhead rain shower head, which others like, so it’s a victory for both camps.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

In this room, however, my favorite is the balcony. I had a beautiful, unobstructed view of the river and the surrounding Bangkok skyline. I can see the sun as it rose from the horizon, and had a glimpse of the splash of colors in the sky as it sets. I spent hours just sitting out at the balcony, munching on fruits and fudge as I watch the busy river traffic below. There was even a constant breeze, so it was pretty pleasant sitting outside.

Horizon Club and the Krungthep Wing

The Horizon Club rooms of the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok is from the 21st floor up in the Shangri-La Wing. Guests staying in these rooms have access to the Horizon Club Lounge, and have the option to have their breakfast there. They can also enjoy whole day access to the lounge, and evening cocktails and canapes.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
The Horizon Club Lounge

All the rooms and suites in the Krungthep Wing have a river view balcony, and guests have access to the exclusive Riverside Lounge, and enjoy complimentary breakfast, afternoon high tea, early evening cocktails, and refreshing beverages all throughout the day, whether at the lounge or by the poolside.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
Krungthep Wing Room

Shangri-La Hotels recently launched their Love Journey Deals where you can enjoy up to 40% off the published rates for certain months of the year. I checked the rates, and you can get a room in the Krungthep Wing for THB4,000+ per night, which is a pretty great deal! This is a limited online offer: you can get this rate only until November 11, 2015!

Coming up: Dining at Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

How to apply for an Australian Tourist Visa Online: A guide for Filipinos

Back in September, my sister in Australia told me over Viber that she’s considering asking our mother to spend New Year’s with them again in Melbourne, and asked me if I am willing to accompany our mother to Australia. Of course, I am!

I’ve heard from friends and read in the comments section of my previous visa application guides that Philippine passport holders can now apply for an Australian tourist visa online. Since I do not like the stress that Manila traffic brings, and I do like doing business online, this was very appealing to me.

Create an ImmiAccount

The first step in applying for an Australian tourist visa online is to create an ImmiAccount. To create an account, you will need a valid email address. Make sure that you type in your email address correctly, and that you use an email address you regularly check. The embassy will be communicating with you using this address, so make sure that you check this email address often.
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What’s in my bag?

Are you a first time traveler, and at a loss about what to bring on your trip? Here are some of the things I always make sure to bring whenever I go out of town.

Scarf, sarong, or jacket

Scarves are a good way to dress up your casual outfit, and it can also help keep you warm when the weather turns chilly. A light, dark-colored jacket can also do the trick.

A sarong has multiple uses — it can be used as a blanket, a beach wrap, or as a mat.

Socks

Airports and airplanes can get pretty cold, especially during long waits and long flights. If you’re like me whose feet are quick to get cold, socks can help keep you warm. It’s also handy when you have to take off your shoes when entering a temple (though you must bring some detergent to wash your socks afterwards).

Bag

Powerbank

Since I love my gadgets and bring at least two when I travel, I make sure to bring a powerbank in my bag. Asus gifted me with their credit-card sized Zenpower, which quickly became indispensable, not just for traveling, but even when just running errands around town. Its capacity of 10050 MAH means that I can charge my Asus Zenfone at least three times before the unit is drained.
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Get going with GetGo

Disclaimer: I was invited by GetGo for their media launch back in March, but the content here is based on my own experience as a GetGo member.

I’ve long been a customer of Cebu Pacific. I signed up as a member of Ceb Club, their old membership program, mainly so it’d be easier when I’m booking flights (or checking promo fares): I don’t have to fill out the form with my personal information.

Early this year, I received an email saying that my Ceb Club account has been converted to GetGo, which is Cebu Pacific’s new rewards program. It’s not a frequent flier program where you get points based on the miles you’ve flown. You get points based on the amount you’ve spent on airfare and add ons.

GetGo

For Cebu Pacific and CebGo flights, you get 1 GetGo Point for each Php 5 spent on fares and add-ons. When you have enough points, you can use them to fly for free!
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