Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Almaty Adventure: Bangkok Layover

The first part of the trip involve flying on Air Asia from Penang to Bangkok, spending an overnight in Bangkok and then leaving to Hong Kong early the next day. The flights on Air Asia was the typical Air Asia flights - not enough leg room, packed but cheap enough to bear for the couple of hours.

We stayed nearby the Suvarnabhumi at Kriss Residence Hotel. Since it was only for a couple of hours, we decided to go on the cheap. The rooms in the hotel was clean and adequate and even included free transfer to and from the airport all for a rate of ~800 Baht a night. The Novotel at the airport would have cost 5 times more! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Almaty Adventure: Introduction


It’s time again for our yearly “epic trip of the year” thanks to Dividend Miles from US Airways. (Our Moscow trip was the first of such trips).  This time we’re going to Almaty, Kazakhstan. It took a while to convince Lydia to say yes to this trip. What is there to see? What is there to do? Is it like the movie Borat? Honestly at that point of time, I didn’t know much about Kazakhstan and was more interested in the First Class experience and other destination we would be visiting as part of this trip.

As usual, we are maximizing some interesting routings in First Class thanks to the way some countries are put in North Asia in the US Airways redemption chart. (Too bad that Russia is no longer in North Asia – would love to visit St. Petersburg or return to Moscow).  The start of the trip as usual would be in Hong Kong. To get to Hong Kong from Penang, we are taking Air Asia as prices on full service airlines like Malaysia Airlines, Singapore, etc were priced almost double what I could get on Air Asia. Instead of flying direct to Hong Kong, we had to fly on Air Asia through Bangkok (which include an overnight layover) since prices on the direct flight was super expensive due to the holidays in Malaysia. Figured stopping over in Bangkok and staying nearby Suvarnabhumi airport itself and enjoying cheap massages and Thai food before we started of the trip proper wouldn’t be too bad.

The actual routing for the US Airways redemption ended up being a pretty simple 6 segment redemption. Tried to redeem an eight segment redemption that had overnight layovers in Zurich and Paris to further maximize the redemption but the desk rate rejected it.  In the end, we settled for the following routing:

·         HKG-ICN on Asiana Business Class with an overnight layover allowing us to explore Seoul
·         ICN – FRA on Asiana First Class. Another overnight layover in Frankfurt which would allow us to visit Frankfurt after missing out on our previous trip.
·         FRA – ALA – FRA on Lufthansa First Class
·         FRA – BKK –HKG on Thai First Class.

Overall, we are pretty happy and excited on the redemption:
·         5/6 flights in F Class.
·         Trying Asiana First Class for the first time.
·         Visiting Seoul and FRA for the first time.
·         Visits to the Lufthansa FCT and FCL in FRA and Thai First Class Spa and lounge in BKK.

I am writing this in Hong Kong as we start off the trip. Almaty, Kazakhstan is sure on the beaten off path. We are both nervous and excited about it. Let’s see what happens at the end….

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Krisflyer Gold Lounge Singapore Terminal 2 Review

As part of the recent renovations to the Singapore Airlines Silverkris lounge in terminal 2, part of the lounge was "carved out" and made into a lounge for Krisflyer Gold and Star Alliance Gold members traveling in economy class. Business class passengers get to use the Silverkris Lounge.

The lounge's deco, furniture and feel was very similar to the Krisflyer Gold in terminal 3. The lounge offers the "standard" offering of some hot food, sandwiches, snacks, cheeses and fruit. Drinks consists of the typical teas, coffees, sodas, a red and white line and some liquor. I was impressed though that they were serving TWG teas that Singapore Airlines was serving on Business Class flights.
The speed of the Wifi that was available was fast. There were also a couple of PCs and Macs for use in the lounge.

The most disappointing fact of this new lounge was that there was not only without a shower but also toilets! One has to leave the lounge to use the public toilets that is outside the lounge. Star Gold passengers used to be able to use the SATS lounge in T2 that does have a shower but is now no longer a Star Gold lounge after the opening of the Krisflyer Gold lounge in T2. Not having a shower is also a major pain in the backside for Star Gold passengers in transit. The availability to take a shower is rather important to transit passengers especially those that travel in economy class. It definitely makes those long haul at the back more tolerable for myself. I would even be in favor of a shower insteaf for no PCs and/or even less food and drink options in the lounge. What was SQ management thinking?!?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

46k miles in 3 weeks...

Going to be doing some crazy flying this month. I'm currently sitting in the Penang airport waiting to fly off to the US for a week for work. I get back to Penang on Sunday morning and then leaving on the same Sunday evening to Bangkok for our annual "epic holiday trip" of the year.


Thank god I'm flying SQ to US albeit in coach and can't wait for the First Class experience next week!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Crazy travel plans or not..

Things sure are crazy with my travel plans this month. I was supposed to travel to US for work at the end of August. Booked and ticketed the trip but trip got cancelled by the boss 2 weeks later. Found out last Monday of a urgent customer issue that required me to fly to China last Friday  - flights and visa done. On Friday itself, the issue got somewhat resolved and trip got cancelled.

Today I find out that the boss wants to go to US for the trip I got initially cancelled. Trying to get the flights now to leave this Saturday evening.

I get back on Sunday morning and head out again on Sunday evening to Bangkok, etc for the "yearly epic" trip in F on Asiana, Lufthansa and Thai. Details to come...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bangkok Hotel Hopping Weekend: Maya Restaurant at Hilton Bangkok


Since there weren't many options (at least options we knew about), we decided to eat in at the Hilton during our stay. In hindsight, this turned out to be a good option as it ended up raining heavily and eating in saved us the trouble of getting wet.

The Millennium Hilton has a couple of restaurants  - Chinese, Steakhouse, Thai and international buffet. We decided to have dinner at the Thai restaurant called Maya.

Bangkok Hotel Hopping Weekend: Millennium Hilton Bangkok


We stayed at the Millennium Hilton Bangkok for our last night in Bangkok. The taxi ride from the Pullman took about 30 minutes as there was some traffic and the Hilton is located on the "other side" of Chao Phraya River that divides Bangkok.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bangkok Hotel Hopping Weekend: Pullman Bangkok King Power


The second hotel on this trip was the Pullman Bangkok King Power. It was rather busy and there was a slight wait for check-in when we arrived at the hotel around 3pm. On finding out that we were Aclub Gold, we were invited over to the bar next to the check-in area for a welcome drink while waiting for the paperwork to get done.
Lobby Area

Reception Area
Bar Area

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bangkok Hotel Hopping Weekend: Vie Hotel Bangkok


We arrived in Bangkok around 6pm and surprisingly the rush hour traffic from the airport to the hotel wasn't as bad as we expected. It took around ~30 minutes only. The cab driver wasn't really sure where the hotel was when we told him the name of the hotel and thankfully, we had a pre-printed map of the hotel. On a side note, the cab ride over was rather interesting with the driver telling us that he was Chinese and he could converse fluently in Mandarin. He ended up telling us about his life story of how he learned Mandarin, his ex-wife, his views in life, etc.

The check-in process went by smoothly. We were upgraded to a suite room and offered welcome drinks thanks to my Aclub Gold Status. This was my first time also that we were personally escorted to the room and showed the features of the suite.
Main entrance

Check-in Counter
Lobby Area
Lydia with the welcome drinks