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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • May 28, 2006


    Travel Planning Tidbits 1: Be A Travel Opportunist

    Okay I've been trying to piece together this Thailand trip: planning the itinerary, the order of places I want to visit, looking up accommodation and making pre-booking inquiries, and shopping for cheap airfares. Well...the secret to a deal on cheap flight is to always plan early because airlines *always* reserve a block of seats for its mileage program customers and mark down another sections of seats. So at the end of the day, when you board the plane, the chance is the person who sits next to you might have paid a couple hundred dollars more than you do simply because you book at a different time (or fortunate time) and subjected to a different fare basis code.

    So what the hell is fare basis code? When booking a ticket, regardless of whether it is using a published or unpublished fare, there are letters that are assigned to different fares. These letters indicate the class of service, not simply indicating economy or business class, but rather the type of fare that was purchased. Without getting into the particular rules of each fare type, letters are assigned by the airlines to indicate the kind of ticket that has been purchased. Economy class on international routes, for example, often consists of a tier of fares that are designated by Y, M, B, H, K, and Q classes. The code varies among airlines but a Y class fare is usually the full-fare, fully refundable economy seat and has no restrictions on changes of date of travel. The Q class would be the most discounted fare which is available when you book early (unless you want to take risk not traveling on your date of travel and get a last-minute deal). This ticket usually does not qualify of any mileage and has heavy restrictions on any changes.

    My Q class economy ticket to Hong Kong from San Francisco in 2003 issued by Singapore Airlines

    Heavily discounted tickets (Q, H, K class) are usually available if you book early through travel agents. Tickets purchased through airline websites are usually refundable, changeable, full-fare Y class ticket. But do check from time to time if an airline offers a deal that is available at limited time. For example, last winter I found a deal to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific website for $750 and for just $59 extra I could fly to Bangkok. Even though the fare basis code that governed my booking was a merely discounted M class, it was still cheaper to buy another separate Q class ticket to Bangkok from Hong Kong.

    So the take home message will consist of these pointers:
    1. Plan the trip and book early.
    2. Be flexible on travel dates, international departure on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays could incur an additional $150 on the fare.
    3. Check out low airfare sites like CheapTickets, Orbitz, and Kayak (my favorite, it allows you to see fare comparison from 100 sites), although Expedia is a more navigable sites, tickets from Expedia usually cost 10-20% more and it offers less choices of flights.
    4. Check the major carrier that flies to your destination. For example, you'll probably get a good deal to Tokyo if you check out Japan Airlines website. Tickets purchased directly from the airlines under promotion can be even cheaper than discounted travel agents.
    5. Try to stick with one carrier. Multiple carriers on an itinerary means higher fare. For example, in my upcoming trip to Asia in December, if I just stay with Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and Bangkok roundtrip, the fare will be, including taxes and surcharges $885. If I instead fly into Chiang Mai, a city which Cathay Pacific does not serve, I have to pay a little extra to fly via
    Thai Airways for the Bangkok - Chiang Mai leg.
    6. Pay attention to the fare rule, restrictions, and black-out dates. Usually the fare rule section will tell you what class you're booking and the concomitant restrictions.

    As for me, it looks like I'll be flying from San Francisco to Bangkok via Cathay Pacific with a 1-hour layover in Hong Kong, then transfer to a domestic Thai Airways flight to Chiang Mai. I'll take the train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, where I will catch another Cathay flight to Singapore, then Hong Kong, and come back to San Francisco.


    Blogger Tony said...

    Travel plans...they can be so fun to plan but so tedious at times. One of these days I'll get over to the Orient and that direction.

    I thought you might be going there this summer but I guess this is for next December.

    Have a nice Memorial Day today. Remember our vetereans!

    5/29/2006 11:06 AM  
    Blogger Robert said...

    It certainly pays to do the research when you do much traveling. Thanks for the tips Matt. Cathay Pacific - way kool!

    So are you gonna do any short trips within the U.S. before December?

    5/30/2006 7:14 AM  

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