Sunday, April 24, 2011

Maldives Honeymoon: Getting there

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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:


On arrival in Bangkok, we headed to the Thai Spa lounge for the 30 minute shoulder or foot massage that Thai offers to it's Business class passengers.  The massage worked out an appetite and we headed over to the SQ lounge where it has the better food options among the *A business class lounges in Bangkok.  You gotta love the fresh coconut juice in the SQ lounge!.  Pigging out in the SQ lounge:
We briefly checked out Thai lounge and after checking some last minute work email, we headed over to the departure gate for our flight to Singapore.  The flight to Singapore was operated by a A330.  There was no AVOD on this flight.  We passed the flight with more eating, drinking and periodically taking short naps. 

In Singapore, we spent the rest of the layover time in the Sands Casino.  It was relatively easy getting to using a combination of the MRT and public bus.  I turned $50 SGD into 50 cents and Lydia turned $50 into $100 SGD the ~1 hour we were at the slot machines.  Guess lady luck was on her side.

We got back to the airport around 6pm and proceeded to the Silverkris lounge in Terminal 2.  This was my first time in this lounge having "relegated" the the *A Gold lounges in Singapore despite being a *A Gold.  We took a shower and had some snacks and cheeses while waiting for time to get on to our next flight.

The flight to Male was originally scheduled to be operated by an older 772 when I booked my flight.  I was pretty happy that a couple of months before we left, Singapore switched to the newer regional A330 on this route.  On entering the aircraft, there was still that "new feeling" to the aircraft.  It was definitely nicer than the Thai A330 we were just on. We had a couple of glasses of champange before we departed.  A couple of the stewardess including the in-flight supervisor came over and congratulated us on the recent marriage which was a nice touch.  I had pre-ordered a honeymoon cake that Singapore Airlines offers to it's passengers even in economy class. The food on this flight was good! We had pre-ordered the lamb chops and lobster thermidor. This was definitely the best flight we took today! Pictures of the flight:






We arrived at Male as scheduled and were done with immigration and customs within 15 minutes. We took the water ferry from the airport (the airport itself is on a separate island) to the Male city itself for our overnight layover.  To get to most resorts in the Maldives, one needs to take a sea-plane taxi which only flies during the day.  The sea plane taxi itself does not have fixed schedules and you don't know of the schedule until the day before to allow for flexibility to the taxi company.  At this point, we still did not know what time we were scheduled to leave the next day.  On checking in our layover hotel, the check-in staff helped us called the taxi company and we were shocked to find out that our sea-plane to Dhiggiri would be leaving at 6.30am and we had to be at the airport by 4.30am. It was now close to midnight, we were tired due to the whole day of travelling and the thought of waking up at 4am on the first night of our honeymoon SUCKED.

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