Saturday, October 8, 2011

Almaty Adventure: Conclusion


We headed back to Penang the next day on Air Asia. As with most of our Air Asia flights, there's nothing much to say except for that it got us there safely and on time. One tip though that we'd like to share is that if you have a flight leaving Hong Kong around 7.45-8.15pm, try to seat on the right side of the plane. This is around the time that the fireworks show goes off at nearby Disneyland and "should" be a great sight from the air. Too bad we were seated on the left side on the plane this time and was left with just views of the "colors of the fireworks".

In summary, this was another trip to remember. I never thought it was possible to hop through Hong Kong, Seoul, Frankfurt, Almaty and Bangkok in less than 2 weeks. Definitely would not would want to do it in coach though. Visiting Almaty was definitely an eye-opener. Don't listen to Borat and come see Kazakhstan for yourself. We definitely want to go back to the region another time and spend more of the time outdoors doing hiking and camping.

We had tried to stay in hotels that were part of the Accor chain during this trip. The Accor experience continues to be hit and miss. We loved the stays in Hong Kong but hated the stay in the Grand Ambassador in Seoul. We vow to never return to that hotel again. 

At the risk of sounding snobbish, this second time in First Class did loose some of the "wow factor" but regardless, it was still a great experience. Asiana is now one of our favorite airlines and we would recommend them over in Lufthansa and Thai.Our personal rank list of our experience is now as follows:

  • Favorite Ground Experience - Continues to the be Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.
  • Favorite In-Flight Service - Continues to be the service we receive from Lufthansa. Sure the hard product might be a tad old but the attendants continue to be warm and friendly.
  • Favorite In-Flight Meals - Asiana wins hands on here. The amount and quality of food was simply amazing. If only they had better champagnes though.
  • Favorite In-Flight Seats - Didn't get to try any new seats or cabins on this trip so this remains to be the Turkish First Class seats on the 77W.
  • Favorite Hotel Stay of the trip -  The World Hotel Saltanat in Almaty. What amazing service to organize the nice birthday surprise.
  • Most memorable experience on this trip - Gotta be the visit to Bo Innovation. What fun and interesting food - Dim Sum will never be the same for us ever again.

For those who are interested, some costs of this trip:
  • *A Flights - US Dividend Miles - 40K miles/person. Yes, this is a North Asia to North Asia redemption. Taxes and fees associated with the booking was ~$200 USD/person.
  • The Air Asia flights from/to Penang and Hong Kong ended up being ~$300 a per person.
  • The tours we took in Almaty totaled ~$650 USD for the both of us.

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