Saturday, April 30, 2011

Maldives Honeymoon: Living the dream


The 5 days and 4 nights we spent at Dhiggiri was a dream come true. It was such a good holiday.  Our daily routine includes the following:
  • Waking up at 6ish to catch the sunrise on our our water bungalow deck.
  • Take an early morning snorkel right off our water bungalow.
  • Grab breakfast.
  • Chill by the beach.
  • Go on a snorkeling trip or snorkel right off of the island.
  • Lunch time.
  • Continue to chill out by beach.
  • More snorkeling
  • Catch the awesome sunsets.
  • Drinks, dinner and more drinks.
  • Rinse and repeat.
 Dhiggiri is on an island that was pretty small - only 230 x 80 meters.  Walking around the island only takes 10 minutes.  The island however did not feel cramped or packed as there were less than 100 people on it with a max capacity of 45 rooms only.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Maldives Honeymoon: Sea-plane Adventure


We woke up at 4 am and hopped over to the ferry point which was a 5 minute walk from the hotel to catch the boat back to the airport.  The ferry itself runs 24 hours with limited service during the night.  It costs only 1 USD each way and they accept USD so there is no need to change into local currency.  The ferry itself was some what packed even at this hour with several tourists like ourselves and locals who I think were going to work.   The boat that took us to the airport:

When we got the airport at 5 am, the check-in counters for the sea-plane was not even opened up.  There was not much to see or do while waiting for the counters to open. We did notice several tourists who decided to spend the night at the airport itself instead of getting a hotel room.  If I had knew that our sea-plane transfer was this early, we might have considered doing the same since the hotels at Male aren't cheap.  They costs $100 USD and up for a pretty basic room! Would rather spend that money on something else...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Maldives Honeymoon: Getting there


The trip to Male took a whole day due to need to fly via Bangkok and Singapore to get to Male and the limited flight options.  Thai operates a daily Penang to Bangkok flight that leaves at ~8 am where as the Singapore flight to Male only leaves at ~8pm.  This meant either a long layover in Bangkok or Singapore.  Having never been to the recently opened Sands Casino in Singapore, we chose to have the longer layover in Singapore.  The flight routing (all in business class):

  • Penang to Bangkok on TG426: 8:00 - 08:50
  • Bangkok to Singapore on TG413: 11:15 - 14:30
  • Singapore to Male on SQ452: 20:45 - 22:10
 We got to the Penang airport around 6.30am and there was no line in the business class line.  We were promptly checked-in with luggage checked all the way through to Male.  We headed next to the Malaysia Airlines lounge in Penang that Thai uses for their premium and elite passengers.  The lounge was spacious and had pretty good food and drink options for a "regional lounge". It even has a shower! (Sorry! Didn't take any pictures of the lounge itself).

The flight to Bangkok was operated by a 737-400.  Thai used to operate a A300 on this route but downgraded after AirAsia started flying the route.  The ~2 hour flight itself was uneventful with a simple warm meal that tasted so-so served in the business class cabin. Meal served on the flight:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Maldives Honeymoon: Introduction

    Lydia and I got married in September 2010.  We decided pretty early on that we did not want a typical shopping or sight-seeing holiday to cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong or any place in Europe for our honeymoon.  We wanted somewhere to relax, chill and get away from it all after almost a year of wedding preparations. Maldives was pretty high on the list of places we wanted to go but we were worried about the cost.

    Sometime in late 2009, US Airways started selling miles on the cheap with their never ending miles promo. Their award chart for regions in Asia was also pretty good.  Maldives was in the same reggion Malaysia where we would be starting our honeymoon making the miles redemption a VERY good deal.  For 30k miles round trip, we would be able to fly from Penang to Male in Business Class.  At this point, we were set on having a Maldives honeymoon. We have never flew in the front of the plane before and being able to do this first time for our honeymoon was pretty cool.

    With Singapore Airlines stopped flying to Penang in 2009 (giving the route to their non Star Alliance subsidiary SilkAir), Thai Airways was the Star Alliance carrier serving Penang.  The only Star Alliance to serve Male (capital of Maldives) was Singapore Airlines.  This made the flight routing to Male slightly circuitous and longer than usual.  We had to fly Thai Airways to Bangkok first before flying off to Singapore and finally to Male.  We weren't too upset with this as this gave us more time and opportunities trying out the various lounges and business class flights! 

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Moscow 2011: Conclusion

    Moscow 2011: Conclusion


     I am not going to say much about the rest of the trip.  We attended our friend's wedding and flew back to Penang low cost style on AirAsia.  We flew close to 19000 miles and had over 40 glasses of champange (we were trying to see if we could beat the infamous 8 bottle challenge going from LAX-BKK and we were not even close) in less than 2 weeks! There was no way we could have experienced or even afforded this without those US airways miles.  Thanks to flyertalk for making this happen ! :)  

    Our thoughts on the whole experience:

    • Best Ground Experience - Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt (with the Thai experience coming a close second).  Stealing a line from Kyo from sqtalk, if the Thai and other lounge experience was burp, the FCT experience was BURRRPPPP!
    • Best In-flight Service - Lufthansa First FRA to CAI.  The attendants on this flight were simply just friendly and kept checking on us if we wanted anything.
    • Best In-Flight Meal - Turkish First Class IST to HKG.  Caviar for breakfast!
    • Best Seat - Turkish 77W First Class.
    • Most memorable experience - A tie between walking in the snow and seeing Red Square in Moscow & seeing the pyramids in Cairo.

    Moscow 2011: RIP THY 1st class: Istanbul to Hong Kong

    Moscow 2011: RIP THY 1st class: Istanbul to Hong Kong


    On arrival in Istanbul from Cairo on Egypt Air, there was a rep from Prime Class (premier service ground agents in Istanbul) waiting for us at the gate thanks to the connecting first class flight on Turkish Airlines.  We were whizzed to the security checkpoint with a cart and went through the premier security line. We were then taken to the Premier Class lounge which was the first class lounge for Turkish Airlines.

    The lounge itself was TINY! It has no windows and I would not spend more than 1-2 hours here.  We had a 6 hour layover and it definitely did not feel like a first class ground experience similar to Lufthansa or Thai.  The lounge itself was shared with other premium passengers of other airlines so it was packed until later during the night.  We had initially planned to head down to Istanbul for some last minute shopping/sight-seeing but just got lazy - should have done it in hindsight! The only redemption for the lounge was the food itself.  There was an extensive menu first class passengers could order from. The service itself in the lounge was somewhat disappointing. I had to call on the waiters several times for top-ups and he didn't seem happy about it which is something I don't expect in a first class lounge.

    Picture of the lounge:
    Dining tables reserved for first class passengers:

    Food we ordered in the lounge:

    Thursday, April 7, 2011


    Lydia and I are heading to Brazil thanks to the Turkish (TK) Airline mistake fare from Bangkok to Sao Paolo via Istanbul in Business Class for ~571 Euros!! :) It's only been a couple of days since we booked the flight on the TK website directly but everything looks like the fare is good to go.  The flight shows as confirmed on TK's website and my credit card's been charged. Here's hoping that they honor the fare.

    The current plan is to hop to Bangkok on AirAsia.  We'll spend 4 days in Sao Paolo and head back to Istanbul for a one night layover before flying off on Malaysia Airlines to KL.  It was initially pretty hard finding reasonable fares for the return trip but got lucky with the GRU-IST-KUL TK codeshare fare of only ~700 USD.  I'm still looking for better options as we don't get *A miles on the code share on MH but might be a good experience since it's been forever since I flew MH internationally.