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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ramada Metrotown Review - A Frigid Reaction

Read this First! Staying at Hotel Ramada Metrotown at Kingsway and Tyne?

We stumbled upon this hotel at Kingsway and Tyne, ( 3484 Kingsway , Vancouver ) after having a super fun night out on town, delighted to learn that a room was available for the night.

A reasonable rate for a Queen Sized bed Suite, Room 343, which included complimentary breakfast and free WiFi.

Upon our entrance of the suite, we noticed it was cold inside, almost as cold as the 5-degree February weather we had just escaped.  No problem, we thought - we turned on the room heating system and settled in.  It was a clean and attractively decorated room, with a bathroom that invited a nice warm shower.  A hotter-than usual shower setting is what we needed to offset the cold room. So, we indulged in this after watching t.v. for 30 minutes.  

It was to our dismay that we soon learned the room was still cold; what a contrast in temperature, from a hot shower to a bedroom that was still cold! 

The air from the heater was only slightly warm after one hour.  A phone call to the front desk gave rise to a smirky response from the tired-sounding front desk clerk, who replied that I should have started at a lower heat setting first and then gradually move it up to high after 30 minutes. { Oh yes, I SHOULD have known to do it this way}.  And so we persevered under his instructions.  The next 30 minutes of igloo living seemed like frozen hell, at 1:30am.

Finally, with a bit of frustration boiling over, I went to the front desk and tried hard to inquire "nicely" about a portable space heater.  Oh, what's that, they have all been taken?  Ok, I then asked for an extra set of blankets.  Sheepishly handed over.  Wow, what initiative! Customer service initiated by myself.  This tired front-desk clerk was not about to use any energy to come up with suggestions, like the ones I just conjured up.

Back to the room...

And so, our tired minds and bodies gave in to sleep, under heavy layers of blankets which barely fought off the cold around us.  We were able to sleep until the time to enjoy the complimentary breakfast which was waiting for us in the morning. In fact, we barely just got in. Actually the toast-eggs-bacon-and coffee was super!  That, I can say was the best part of the hotel stay!  

Talking to the new - and much different - front desk clerk this next morning, I mentioned our frigid reception.  He was most apologetic and conceded the fact that management had had some previous similar complaints about the night clerk as well.  In fact, just that same morning, the night clerk had been observed hanging up on a guest who had telephoned to give some constructive feedback!  The morning clerk also said that he would have also suggested moving us to anothe room, if it were him attending to us.

We won't be visiting this hotel for a while.

A month later, I dropped in in the afternoon and talked to a South-Asian-looking front desk gentleman, inquiring if they had received our written feedback.  
Wow, what an apathetic response.  I might as well have been talking to a robot.  I pulled out the hotel receipt to show the date and hotel room, and he didn't even pretend to take any notice of it.  He just said, yes, all feedback is read by management, and any training issues on a specific individual would be looked into.

Sorry, Ramada Hotel Metrotown, your chance to exonerate yourself was lost.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Diversion First on Social Networking, then : How to Internet Tether Your Iphone 4 to Windows 7

Diversion from the "Real Topic" first: Social Networking Thoughts

Interesting, many of the cell phone plans are now starting to include "Unlimited Social Networking" - in this instance, for Rogers Canada, they mean zero data is used against your data plan when you browse or use the phone app to "Update status, send messages, connect with friends and share photos using Facebook ™, Twitter ™, MySpace ™, Bebo ™, Flickr ™, Photobucket ™ or LinkedIn ™. This is actually a very nice idea, since it has been definitely proven that Social Media is NOT a fad that is going to fizzle out. If anything , it's going to grow and evolve and merge with new technologies on the horizon. Just look at how the concept of "Facetime" - aka video calling face-to-face on the iPhone has attracted people to just even consider switching specifically to the Iphone 4. 

Naturally, you may still be wondering... so what is the big deal with "Social Networking" anyway?  After you watch this video, then you will immediately see the impact it has had already on  YOUR life.

How about the news that car company Daimler has launched a car-sharing project that incorporates live online and quasi-Twitter technology? It has been called "high tech hitch hiking" . Here's another one, also car-related: a group of university students are developing a "caravan tracker", where groups of vehicles travelling together are equipped to share information with each other, such as fuel economy competition, landmark chatting, route sharing. Read about the this type and more, of social networking of cars here. So how about this (my out-of-the-blue idea): having on-board GPS, wireless cell/data connectivity on your camera or cell phone camera- with "Unlimited Social Networking" feature of course such that when you take a picture, your pictures will not only be uploaded to your Twitter space and/or Facebook photos, but the camera will recognize faces for auto-tagging, and also it will let your Facebook friends and Twitter followers know where the picture was taken?


Hmm, I just asked my teen daughter if she had any idea about marrying social media with technology. She just shrugged her shoulders, and she exclaimed, "I still think the telephone is best social networking tool!" And THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS STILL THE TRUTH, lol !

The Real Topic: Another type of Networking: Iphone 4 Tethered to Laptop- Windows 7

\Ok, actually, what I wanted to write about also in this article was how I just learned to tether my Iphone 4 (OS 4.0.2) , NOT jailbroken, to my Windows 7 laptop computer. This is very handy to know when you are somewhere out about town where there is no open WiFi connection and you are in dire need to access a website in full screen to get information for that next meeting, without dealing with the little screen keys of the Iphone. For example, I had tethered my Iphone to my laptop, so I could use my laptop to update my blog at with this article!! Fortunately, there is a way to use your Iphone 4's data plan to surf the net with your laptop. A warning for you though, make sure your Iphone 4 has a good allowance of data plan if you are going to do this tethering often.

1st Step : Iphone 4: Settings, General, Network, Internet Tethering: ON, select for Bluetooth on also 

2: On you Iphone 4: go to Settings, General, turn Bluetooth: ON (if not already turned on). Bluetooth will trigger to show as discoverable, looking to pair with another device, eg. your laptop! 

3. On your Windows 7 laptop: Click on the circled Windows logo on left corner, choose Devices and Printers, Add a Device. This is when Windows will start to look to pair itself too with all available hard-wired and wired/ ie. Bluetooth connections. It will find your Iphone in 20secs to 1 minute, or so.

4. When Windows finds your Iphone, right-button-mouse-click on the graphic picture or text of your iphone (see picture), and then choose "Connect using... Access Point".

You will soon see a "... Tethering" blue band across the top of your Iphone.


Now go forth armed with this knowledge to do this. even if just for the fun of it. 

Business Solutions Specialist

Monday, October 11, 2010

Little Significant Observations - Travel Tips in Manila, Cities in Philippines

I recently came back from the Philippines, where I attended my uncle's funeral activities.
During my almost-two-weeks there, I took public transportation for the first time. Usually, I'd have a personal driver take me around.

Some observations for you if you're there for personal or "business trip" reasons:

- how to take or ride the jeepney around town. Btw, jeepney's look like the over-extended trucks with a low metal canopy behind. They have two length-wise benches for seating. It's hard to describe, so here's a picture.  You hop in, squeeze yourself some sitting space on the bench. Then you fish out your 12pesos or whatever payment, and you say "bayad" (sounds like "buy ahhd") .  You give it to another passenger who is sitting at arms length away from you , towards the front of the jeepney. That passenger will then pass on your coins to the front, and so on, until it reaches the driver and/or his assistant. It works!

- another mode of transportation: the "FX" taxi . It's an airconditioned SUV type , a lot more comfortable than a jeepney.  However, you still share the ride. These fx taxis are usually located in a group at "the terminal". You buy a ticket at a booth or desk nearby after you announce to the attendant where you are going. Then you present your ticket to the driver.  By the way, the similar ride to the fx taxi is "the van". It's not a "suv" fx, but "a van". I myself was almost tricked into spending more time and more money on a tricycle ride when I asked a motorcycle / tricycle driver where I can find the fx to go to a particular place. He said he will take me there, 5 minutes. Then a passerby who overheard our conversation said no, just walk 50 meters to get "the van" to the same place.  I looked at the motorcycle driver, who shrugged his shoulders and said , "well, an FX is different from a van".  I later found out that the process of paying to board an FX or "a van" was the same. Get more tips here. Picture included.

- then, there's the "tricycle" transportation. It's a motorcycle with an attachment for passenger(s) to sit beside. Well, actually, you CAN put more than just one passenger here. In fact, I've seen as many as 5 people on one! To ride one, you hop in, tell them where you're going, and you pay after you arrive. It will usually be around 10 pesos, maybe more. The drawbacks: you get to breathe in the exhaust fumes of your ride and other vehicles nearby at your positioned level of seating. It can get very loud. You are subject to the elements, especially rain if there is no plastic screen placed in front of you between the driver and the cart you are sitting in. View a tricycle here.

Ok, so I haven't covered the LRT or overhead rapid transit train. I never took it. But I'll let you know when I do!


Eric C
Business Solutions Specialist

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stanley Park Bicycle Tire BlowOut! Desmond Niles Mobile Bicycle Repair

My Sunday bicycle ride with my two daughters was going well - early summer morning ride, cool, beautiful scenery at Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC- its awesome bicycle path at the seawall. Then, at the totem park area, one of my daughters' front bicycle tire became flat.

Yeah, it was a bit of a downer, but we took it all in stride. This was a good opportunity to slow it down even more, and we took out the grapes, strawberries, and bottled water. We had a small picnic in this gorgeous part of Stanley Park, with the buildings in the background, and the famous greenery of Stanley Park on either side of us.

I took out my trusty Iphone 4, surfed the internet and Googled "mobile Vancouver bicycle repair". One of the top search results was a third-party directory site that listed "Desmond" with his phone number . Remember, this was a Sunday. Desmond answered, explained it would take him between 45 to 60 minutes to get here. Perfect!

What I didn't know was that Desmond's mobile bicycle repair service was really a mobile shop. He arrived with his bicycle and and pack of tools on the back of his pedal-powered bike. He had cycled from Victoria Drive near S.E Marine Drive area, which is about 14 km !!

Upon closer inspection, Desmond discovered that there was hole on the inner tube at the bottom of the valve stem. Ouch! He explained that this was not going to be an easy patch-up repair, which he would normally do. He would have to purchase an inner tube from a nearby bicycle shop. So I said sure. But then he revealed that he forgot to bring cash nor his credit card to buy this. And I also explained that I had just remembered I forget to bring cash, but yes, I did bring my debit bank card . So, my daughter and I walked with him for 20 minutes to bicycle shop, and then we returned to the totem pole area of Stanley Park.

It was a very quick repair by Desmond. I took this opportunity to learn more about Desmond and his mobile bicycle repair service in Vancouver. His history: he was a bicycle courier in London (his native city is Gloucestershire), came to Canada in 1998. He has 2 very young children. In Vancouver he was a glass/ window installer, having worked on highrise buildings in Vancouver, ie. Shangri-La. But really, as he explained, his passion was in everything bicycle, and he had wanted to get away from the corporate game and working for someone else. Desmond also explained that he feels very fulfilled in seeing that complete transformation from broken-to-fixed. As well, he enjoys being a part of the process in that he receives and appreciates the many thanks (and their referrals) from the many different people he meets.

Desmond Niles is a super friendly person, very personable and highly skilled at what he does: bicycle repairs.

Desmond's contact details: Call 604 565 6039
Email :

Eric C
Business Solutions Specialist

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Katrina Amurao, Neil Bellosillo, and " The Team ", Realtors in Vancouver, Surrey, Delta, Burnaby areas

I and my realtives have had the great pleasure of connecting with Katrina Amurao and her husband Neil Bellosillo, realtors in Greater Vancouver Lower Mainland (including Surrey, Delta and areas).

They are very informative, are patient and understanding to our house buying and selling needs.

Neil and Katrina have been providing us with professionally developed and highly researched reports about real estate activity within our area- I mean really detailed reports to view on the web, specific to our Vancouver neighbourhood in recent time periods, including average house prices, number and specific houses that sold over as well as under the asking price, number of days on the market, etc. And Neil Bellosillo's reports have been timely as he emails them to us, with the pictures and details of potential houses to buy according to our specific parameters we gave.

They have been very patient with us, understanding our personal situations and experiences when it comes to our buying and selling decisions... so no worries or "guilt" there.

As well, Katrina and Neil, twice a year, they rent out a whole movie theatre complex of 3 or 4 theatres, and they invite clients and their friends for free to watch a newly released movie. A donation in the form of non-perishable food items is requested by the movie-goers, and it all goes to the Surrey Food Bank. Katrina and the team also provide drinks, coffee and snacks!

We highly recommend them!

Here are Katrina Amurao's and Neil Bellosillo's contact information.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Iphone 4 - the Fuss, the Fun, the Funkiness

By Eric C.
Business Solutions Specialist

I've been around to the various shopping malls in Vancouver and Burnaby, observing the long line-ups at the Apple Store's as well as the crowds at the smaller wireless phone dealers that would carry the new Iphone 4.  The smaller ones like "Wireless Wave" (owned and operated by GlenTel) - I have a friend there Sophia Kong at the Brentwood Mall location (tel: 604-298-5208) - they have been constantly answering the question, "Do you have the Iphone 4" . Their answer for the last week has been, "No.... we're out of stock."  The next famous question: "What's with the antenna problem?"  The answer, "well, that can be fixed with the free bumper case, or with any case for that matter."

My question today during my visit was, "Can you tell me about the unlocked / locked situation with the IPhone 4 in Canada?"  They said that yes, all the IPhone 4's are shipped the Canadian outlets as unlocked, but once you go into a contract with one of the carriers, they become locked.  Upon my further investigation, I learned that the unlocked version, no contract, was around $700-850, and with a 3-yr contract, locked, the IPhone 4 was $175 .

Then my question, to myself was, is there a way to unlock the IPhone 4?

I found an article at  .

So there you go. According to the author of the article at the above link, there are many ways, apparently, to unlock a IPhone 4.

If only I can now get my hands on one!

Eric C
Business Solutions Specialist

Monday, December 07, 2009

Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant, Vancouver: Our First Dining Experience

On December 5, we finally went to dine at Banana Leaf Restaurant, at 820 W. Broadway location in Vancouver.

This restaurant has had numerous awards for food and service, and I had been curious to see what the fuss was all about. Here is their website.

However, my experience with Banana Leaf was not a good first experience.

I wrote an email to Calvin Chong, owner of Banana Leaf, describing my experience. As my review, I copied and pasted the email below, along with their reply.

Email to Mr. Calvin Chong, Banana Leaf Restaurant:

Dec 2009.

Dear Mr. Chong,

I am an online blogger who likes to write about my experiences,
including my travels, or using certain products, or sometimes I write
about my dining experiences. Before I write and share my review with
my web audience, I wanted to bring my write-up to your attention.

On Saturday, my wife and 4 children visited Banana Leaf Restaurant for
the first time (at the 820 W. Broadway location). I've lived in
Vancouver for over 30 years, and I've dined at different restaurants,
including Malaysian restaurants, but this was my inaugural visit to
your restaurant.

We were seated at the back corner, a nice almost private setting.
There was a larger party of about 20 people beside us, so we knew it
was a busy night for your staff.

I found it unusual that we had to wait over 10 minutes for anyone to
get our initial drink order. In fact, I observed staff 4 times going
back and forth and attending to the party beside us bringing their
food during this time. So I took the initiative and got up to
approach the bar to talk to the person who seemed to be the manager to
bring to his attention that we hadn't been able to get our order in
yet. Immediately after I returned to my table, we were attended to.

The overall quality of the food was very good. We had ordered two
gado gado's, 6 chicken satay, a pineapple/chicken/sea food fried rice,
a nasi goreng and sambal chili fired okra, eggpland and green bean
dish. For desert later we had just one of the fried banana with ice
cream. Good presentation, tasty, just the right type of spiciness.
However, I suggest that your servers be safe in general and ask what
level of spiciness is preferred. One thing though, I found it odd and
interesting regarding the food portions. For example, I was expecting
larger food portions for the main dishes, and the desert I was
expecting to be just the regular size. It was the converse ,
especially with the larger-than-expected desert serving. A pleasant
surprise nevertheless, for the single desert order that served 6

I have a couple of strong suggestions for the young male server who
attended to us. Firstly, he should not store the tray with dirty
dishes so close to the patrons. There was an empty 2-seater table
next to us, and that's where he put the tray of used dishes and
utensils, etc. Also, he should confirm with the people whether he can
take the plate away. What happened with us is that my wife and 2
daughters went to the washroom, and he dropped by our table. I
mentioned I wanted to order dessert. There was still 2 small plates
of food that my youngest daughter and my toddler son were still
finishing. Being young, they are slow eaters. Before I could say
anything, our waiter took them away and put them in the tray nearby.
Personally, I don't like wasting food, nor do I like to feel rushed.
And of course, with the tray of dirty dishes and our "stolen" food in
plain sight nearby, it was like, as the expression goes, "rubbing salt
in the wounds." On top of that, when my wife and daughters came back,
they complained that one of the toilets was out of order. I went to
the men's washroom and found it not as clean as I would have hoped,
with several used and unused paper towels all over the place. I
suggest you get a proper paper towel dispenser for sanitary reasons,
instead of piling them up at the corner of the wall by the faucet
where they will get wet.

Also, in hindsight, I'm curious to ask...was it so busy that the
busboy actually became our waiter? Is that why he didn't seem to have
the refined skills that a full-time experienced waiter would have?

Anyway, I invite you to provide your comments.

Thank you.

Eric Carlos


From Teresa Yu, Banana Leaf Restaurants
to me, calvin

Dear Mr. Carlos,

Thank you very much for providing such detailed feedback on your recent
visit to Banana Leaf. All of us here appreciate your taking the time to
write us, for it is via comments such as yours that we know how we're
doing and where we can improve.

I'm very glad to hear that you enjoyed our food, but allow me to extend my
sincerest apologies for wherever the service was lacking. A large party
can, unfortunately, be distracting for our serving staff, but certainly,
you should not have had to wait 10 minutes to be served. Our servers
undergo continuous training and performance reviews. You can be assured
that your comments will be noted at our next meeting, as a reminder that
large parties should not divert focus from other patrons.

I'm very sorry as well that your dishes were cleared before you and your
family were finished. Our intention is never to rush or to waste. It is
common policy to clear a table of its dishes before serving dessert. Your
server most likely over-anticipated and assumed that you and your family
were finished with your meal by your mentioning of dessert. He definitely
should have asked first, however, and not given the impression that he was
rushing you in any way.

Our restaurant functions on a teamwork strategy, where all servers work
together to provide our patrons with the best dining experience possible.
Where we have been remiss, please allow me to apologize again and assure
you that all of your comments have been duly noted by our management
staff, from the large party issue, to the specifics of your particular
server, and the washroom situation. Thank you kindly for your valuable
feedback, and we welcome any further comments. We also very much look
forward to serving you again!

Teresa Yu

Banana Leaf Malaysian Cuisine
Broadway: 820 West Broadway, 604-731-6333
Denman: 1096 Denman Street, 604-683-3333
Kitsilano: 3005 West Broadway, 604-734-3005