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Mini jaunt in Asia on *A

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Keith009

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My first TR on AFF I believe. Here goes...

SQ238 MEL-SIN, 6th FEB 2007
Seat - 36C (but moved to a randomly empty row)
Aircraft - 773
ETD - 1100

This flight had extremely low loads. It was low season for travels out of Australia. Might be also because there was an accident which caused a huge traffic jam on Tulla freeway and many people had not planned for a delay. Thankfully my taxi driver knew of an alternative route to the airport. Rocked up to the emptiest check in counter for an SQ flight I've ever encountered. I was seated in an emergency exit row seat but had the opportunity to move to an empty row once onboard. I swear the LSS was more excited than I was in securing said empty row, "Sir there are 2 empty rows at the back for you to choose from. But quick quick quick!" ROFL. I was also allowed to hold on to my original seat at row 36 for quick disembarkation.

Some changes I noted on SQ Y since my last experience in Sept 2006:
- Replacement of stylised 'E' logo of Economy Class plastic ware with SQ's corporate motif
- Stylised 'E' replaced by plain 'Economy Class' font on menu cards
- SQ check in no longer at the eastern end of MEL T2 (that corner is now dominated by QF), but in rows 49-51 (somewhere in the middle of the terminal)
- Merged Raffles Class tag with orange *A priority baggage tag - this has been happening for a while I believe

Watched Marie Antoinette on the IFE - very interesting to observe the fashion and protocols of the French court. But otherwise it was a surprisingly pointless movie.

It was yet another comfy and high quality MEL-SIN run in Economy class. Would be interested to see how Jetstar Star Class matches up in the Australia-Asia runs later in the year.

Menu for this flight:

Lunch

APPETISER
Ham with creamy potato salad

MAIN COURSES
Pan roasted chicken with onion jam and natural jus, spinach puree and roasted potato

or

Thai style fish souffle served with selected vegetables and steamed rice

CHEESE
Cheese and crackers

DESSERT
Ice cream

FROM THE BAKERY
Roll and butter

HOT BEVERAGES
Coffee - Tea

Refreshment

LIGHT BITES
Chicken and leek pie

or

Quiche Lorraine
Eggs with bacon and onions baked in pastry shell

DESSERT
Snack bar

HOT BEVERAGES
Coffee - Tea










 
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Keith009

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Le Meridien Singapore (Orchard Rd)

Stayed here for a night. I know this hotel is a hit or miss in terms of reviews but I've never had a problem. In fact, as a lowly SPG Gold, I was upgraded to the next category of rooms this time, an Executive Room. It basically has a large-ish sitting area with a sofa and coffee table. Also received a welcome letter and chocolates from management. Had a nice chat with the receptionist who recognised me from my last stay.





 
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Keith009

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Trans Star SIN-KUL

My first time doing this journey by coach. Wheee...
Was quite fun actually. There was an air-conditioned lounge with free coffee to wait in prior to boarding. Had a comfy seat with AVOD. Lunch was also provided. We were served by a steward onboard.

But it got tiring as it was quite a long bus ride. I think I'm sticking to air travel in future.

The journey commenced at Trans Star's office at the Golden Mile complex in SIN and we were deposited at the Puduraya bus terminus in KUL, a short taxi ride to the Sheraton Imperial.











 
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Keith009

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Sheraton Imperial, Kuala Lumpur

This is one of those 'Luxury Collection' Sheratons - meaning its decor is somewhat museum-like and dowdy. Always avoided LC properties for this reason despite loving SPG in general. But nonetheless this property is much cheaper than the Westin and has a nicer location than the Le Meridien. Check in and check out were both pretty slow, even when the SPG desk was manned during check in. Was told there was not enough staff to attend to the SPG desk, which brings into question its existence in the first place other than to placate the hotel's obligations to SPG.

Service was so-so and has gone downhill since my last stay with them. Turn down service was pretty wayward - but the mint chocs were delicious.

Location-wise, the hotel is a pretty far walk from the Bukit Bintang shopping strip (only 3 monorail stops though) but is just next to the Asian Heritage row with awesome restaurants and nightclubs.

Almost nil recognition of SPG Gold (had to bargain with them over late check out) other than being allegedly placed on the SPG floor. I say allegedly because there wasn't even the ubitquitous 'SPG' plague to ameroliate a dubious recognition of status. And despite being a non-smoking floor, whiffs of smoke were detected. There was a fruit platter and box of chocolates on the first night, but no personal welcome letter unlike other SPG properties.

For MYR300 per night (less than AUD150), this hotel represents pretty decent value. But if I get a good rate at the much more contemporary-looking and upscale-feeling Westin, that's where I'm checking in for future stays. Once upon a time I'd stay at the SI without question despite its tacky decor due to its excellent service providing an edge - but am afraid that's now gone.











 
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Keith009

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SQ113 KUL-SIN, 10th FEB 2007
Seat - 12A
Aircraft - 772
ETD - 1700

After a wonderful time in KUL, aided by the fun-filled company of SQflyerGirl (SQTalk) and Attan and family (Malaysianwings), it was off to BKK!

Decided to upgrade myself to F as the fare diff to Y was less than AUD80, and I get thrice more miles on Miles and More (1500 vs 500 - minimum miles rule kicks in as this sector is only 143 miles in distance).

I was flying KUL-SIN-BKK that day, with the SIN-BKK sector on LX but on a separate ticket. The SQ check in agent had no clue what LX was or even if she was allowed to tag my bags all the way as she thought that LX's an LCC. ROFL. When I finally (after 15 mins of her trying to frantically call her supervisor and suffering a mild panic attack) convinced her that it's actually a full service carrier that's also one of SQ's Star Alliance partners, she could no longer be bothered and tagged my bags all the way to BKK anyway.

Holding an SQ F BP at KUL grants me access to the SKL KUL, which is not even accessible to *G traveling Y (they'd have to use the TG lounge). But IME the TG lounge is the better lounge as it has hot food. Both lounges are markedly inferior to MH's flagship KUL Golden Lounge of course.

I headed to the TG lounge for my lunch, and went to the SKL a bit after that to wait for the Golden Goose pull in. Can't remember the flight rego now but I remember SQflyerGirl telling me that it's the same plane that operated as Party Flight for the SQ gathering in DPS back in 2006.

As many have warned, flying F on KUL-SIN was an underwhelming experience. It wasn't a real F experience per se other than the red BP, F luggage tag, F pillows, seat coverings and crockery. The seat was basically a regional Raffles class seat; and neither was there champagne. Pre-departure drinks were either OJ or water. I had to gobble down the refreshment offering that was served during the extremely short time for service. I guess if the price difference to Y remains as it is, AUD80 for an extra 1000 miles is quite decent value. The crew did an amazing job to serve everyone in such a short amount of time, and the IFS even had time to mingle with pax. Oh and there was free Ferragamo Incanto Pour Homme in the toilet which I took advantage of rather liberally. :p











 

Keith009

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LX183 SIN-BKK, 10th FEB 2007
Seat - 2K
Aircraft - 343
ETD - 2120

I had to take the Skytrain to T1 and visit the Swissport transfer desk to get my BP for LX183. I had gotten a rather good value Z class SIN-BKK return on LX, and had used 15 000 M+M miles to perform a one way upgrade to have a tiny taste of LX in F. I chose the outbound SIN-BKK segment for the upgrade as having an LX F BP meant access to the SKL F. So off I went back to T2 to a heaven of free Dom Perignon and satay with peanut sauce. Alas no Ben and Jerry's this time.






SKL pub, wheeeeeeeee!





The SKL staff were quite amused that I walked all that way just to enjoy the SKL F. I had about 3 hours till my flight departure - 3 hours of quality time indeed.

I believe in Karma - being a pleasant person pays off and so I make a point to be nice to airline staff. This time, everyone was quite intrigued about my convoluted trip from T2 to T1 and back to T2. I was preparing for another 10 mins walk to T1 for my flight, when one of the lounge staff informed me that she'd organised for a buggy ride to ferry me all the way to where I was to catch my flight, gate C13 in T1! Hot!

To be continued - but in the meantime:

 

Keith009

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LX in F was characterised by attention to detail, and very personable FAs. It was a little overwhelming as the load in F was very low. The only other pax onboard was asleep, so for all intents and purposes I was the only pax. Prior to this flight, I was warned by various people that the service on SIN-BKK is not great, so I was initially a little apprehensive. But experience speaks better and I was pleasantly surprised once onboard.

I was greeted, led to my seat and asked as to my choice of pre-departure drink. As requested, a glass of champers was brought to my seat along with a plate of warm nuts. I liked the soothing shades of brown in the cabin, complemented by the smart-looking black seats. The seats were the individual lie flat, state-of-the-art pods we've all come to expect as a minimum in F. Certainly a much nicer cabin than LH, but I obviously didn't have the chance to recline and test the seat's comfort as a bed.

After a timely take off, the purser introduced himself and thanked me for flying Swiss. Flying time was approximately 1 hr and 50 minutes, according to the captain's announcement.

My table was meticulously made up for the meal service, and a light dinner was soon served:

Light meal

Thai glass noodle salad with shrimp

Beef medallion
green peppercorn sauce, grilled zuchini, red bell pepper and roast potato

Pan fried snow fish
black bean sauce, mixed Asian vegetables and steamed rice

Sweet favourites

Swiss chocolates
Espresso and a selection of coffees and teas

I had the beef as my main course. I usually have beef done rare and it was nice to note that the beef I was served was just that - rare, succulent, nicely textured and full of flavour. I can't remember what dessert was - it was a cake of some sort but I remember liking it. One of my favourite aspects of the flight was the Swiss pinot noir - a beverage I can never get enough of. The one served on this flight was the Kloster Sion AOC, 2004 vintage and had been bestowed with a gold medal at the Mondial du Pinot Noir. The crew also made me a mean cuppa, which was accompanied by a fine selection of pralines. I sipped pinot noir for the rest of the flight until the very last breath of service from the crew prior to landing.

We landed into a dim Suvarnabhumi airport where I was one of the few people to get off the plane. It was a very pleasant short flight in F and I would not hesitate to fly LX F long haul. Meal service was a bit skimpy but it was such a short flight and I doubt the crew could have done much more.

I am pleased to note that arriving at Suvarnabhumi isn't as poor an experience as being in transit. No great distances to conquer and the route to passport control, baggage claim and customs was pretty straightforward. However waiting times were far too long. My bag was the first to appear, and even then I'd been waiting for at least 30 mins!












In my haste to eat, I'd forgotten to take pictures of the main course and the dessert. Sorry!
 
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Keith009

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Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok

A very slick and modern hotel, almost W-esque, with fantastic decor. My style happens to be minimalist chic and informality, and this hotel was totally in line with what I'd consider a great hotel.

A welcome fruit platter, a plate of sweets, as well as a note from the manager greeted me as I entered my room. I had a Club level room at the Westin and the 'continental breakfast' in the club lounge turned out to be a wholesome spread of hot and cold options.

Complimentary wifi was provided both in the lounge, and the very trendy lobby. The walls behind the reception desk changed colours every few seconds - cute! The entire hotel felt very sophisticated and refreshing, in line with Westin's thematic focus on rejuvenation. Service was efficient and friendly and above all - struck a good balance between being comprehensive and not overbearing.

SPG Golds get a free drink at the piano bar. I also got 25% discount coupons for both restaurants in the hotel - can't remember whether it's part of the perks of my Starwood status or the Club room reservation. Most probably the latter.

Highly recommended! I'm not going to bother with the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit across the road as it looked like a typical LC - old-looking with scary, occult-like decor. Might check out the Le Meridien Athenee next time though so I can test all the Starwood properties in BKK. They have huge shoes to fill.












 

stryker

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QF009 said:
Would be interested to see how Jetstar Star Class matches up in the Australia-Asia runs later in the year.
Exceedingly well, I would have thought. SQ economy is a poor product.

Try and avoid it.
 

Mal

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stryker said:
SQ economy is a poor product.
I'm not so sure. Last SQ flight in economy for me was back in mid 2005. Things may have changed since then, but i was treated extremely well.

Unlimited drink refills - even though I was "dinging" the attendant button! (try that on Qantas!). I think I only visited the galley once during the flight to ask for another.
Meals were adequate for economy. Not great, but on the other hand no worse than other carriers.
Mate got extra baggage allowance without even asking.
FA's were really attentive and friendly.

These days I'd travel a OneWorld airline over SQ, but I still think SQ are a great airline.
 

serfty

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Mal said:
... Unlimited drink refills - even though I was "dinging" the attendant button! (try that on Qantas!). I think I only visited the galley once during the flight to ask for another. ...
Attendant Button??? I call them the ignore button. :rolleyes:
 

Kiwi Flyer

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stryker said:
Exceedingly well, I would have thought. SQ economy is a poor product.

Try and avoid it.
It's better than QF, especially on A345 and 77W a/c.
 

Keith009

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LX182 BKK-SIN, 12th FEB 2007
Seat - 4G
Aircraft - 343
ETD - 1600

As the terminal of Suvarnabhumi is one of the longest in the world, it was a relief that I'd looked up the check in row LX uses. There were also signs outside the terminal indicating where the respective airline check in desks were located. So it was not hard to locate the LX check in desk, at row G near entrance 3.




The departure tax was not incorporated in my ticket as I'd bought it a while back. The check in agent hailed a tax collector who then wrote me a receipt after I parted with my THB700. Bag tagged to KIX via SIN, BP and lounge invitation issued - it was then a relatively stress-free journey to passport control and the lounge. Air conditioning was still problematic. The TG lounge wasn't too crowded which meant the temperature was bearable.

The flight departed from gate D2 which was rather near the lounge. Priority boarding was strictly enforced, but the gate agent tried to stop me from boarding, "We're not boarding economy class yet." I showed her my Business class BP and was the recipient of profuse apologies. I don't know whether it was my age or the infamous Thai attitude which suggests that I'm Asian and therefore must be flying Economy.

LX's business class cabin had the same brown and black tones as the F cabin. The seats were pretty comfy for a short flight, however the arm rests were uncomfortably narrow. I had an aisle seat in the centre row, my favourite seat in business as it meant an easy time for both my seat mate and I when visits to the loo were required. The cabin wasn't adequately cleaned during the aircraft's brief stop in BKK as there was rubbish strewn around my seat. The cabin crew did some tidying up while we were waiting for departure. And once again I had a glass of champagne as a pre-departure beverage.

Departure was slightly delayed as a pax who got out of the plane in BKK while in transit went AWOL. It took quite some time b4 they found him and his bags were almost offloaded. Soon I was presented with a menu and headsets. LX had AVOD which I took advantage of. The flight was too short for a full movie and not wanting to be left guessing what happened in the end, I watched the short features instead.

Swiss pinot noir was once again a feature of the flight. It was a different vintage but made by the same winery and had won a Silver medal in the same wine show. So the same winery won the top 2 spots - impressive! The food service was pretty ho hum, even by BKK-SIN standards. Everything was presented on the same tray - which smacks of Intracontinental European business class service, if not Economy class service. The food wasn't spectacular, but not dreadful either. Other than that little blemish, the service was pretty good and top ups of Pinot were regularly offered.

______________

Menu for this flight:

LIGHT MEAL

Fresh seasonal salad

Roast chicken breast in ginger sauce served with carrots and pumpkin

or

Grilled sea bass with tomato salsa, accompanied by spinach fettucine

A selection of fresh fruits

____________

We landed punctually in SIN, where I was to spend the next few hours in the SATS lounge while waiting for my SQ flight in WHY to KIX.









 

Keith009

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SQ618 SIN-KIX, 13th FEB 2007
Seat - 51C
Aircraft - 772
STD - 0100
ATD - 0245

After a looooooong wait in the SATS lounge without any real food beyond sandwiches, I headed off to gate E52 for my flight to KIX. A cursory glance around the departure gate indicated that the flight was likely to be extremely full.

Besides the very nice seat (aisle seat, emergency exit row), this flight was to go down as my first (hopefully last) less than stellar experience with SQ:
- 90 mins tech delay occurred with very scant information as to what was really happening. I only found out that there was an issue with the flight's computer systems when I made an inquiry with the gate agents after the third PA announcement detailing the fresh time of expected departure with little in the way of explanation

- They ran out of my choice of breakfast (omelette) and I had the Japanese option which was fortunately quite tasty, although it sounded weird on the menu. I mean, I love Japanese food but grilled fish with rice sounded more lunch or dinner-esque. The FA seemed genuinely apologetic.

- Maybe because it's a short-ish flight and the crews were rushing to prepare for service, but I found them slightly abrupt when it came to requests and the male FAs constantly wore scowls on their faces. This was also my first flight with SQ when the crew call button yielded very little response. They didn't seem very happy when I asked for drinks at the galley, maybe they expected everyone to be asleep? Fortunately it wasn't a very long flight in the grand scheme of things.

Menu for this flight:

REFRESHMENT

Light bites
Warm turkey and cheese olive panini

or

Warm double deck tuna sandwich

Hot beverages
Coffee - Tea
Green Tea

Cold beverages
Japanese Oolong Tea

BREAKFAST

Fruit
Fruit appetiser

Wholesome beginnings
Grilled perch with preserved plum served with selected vegetables and steamed rice with bonito flakes

or

Omelette with macedoine of potatoes, tomato, carrots and chicken sausage

From the bakery
Assorted breakfast rolls
Butter - fruit preserve

Hot beverages
Coffee - Tea
Green Tea






 

Keith009

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Didn't manage to take pics of the hotels in Japan so I'd just provide brief summaries:

- Westin Miyako Kyoto: Great service generally, with very knowledgeable staff. Was upgraded to Club level. The room air conditioning was wonky - always either too hot or too cold. Breakfast in the club lounge wasn't very appetising but we also received free breakfast vouchers for the buffet breakfast downstairs which was quite nice. The Heavenly Bed felt a little hard though. Location was a little far from the downtown shopping/entertainment districts but quite near to sites of interest.

- Westin Osaka: Bed bugs on my parents' bed. A complaint yielded 3000 Starpoints. We were also upgraded to Club level and given free brekkie vouchers. Elle Bache amenities in the rather opulent bathroom. :good: Good location near Umeda City with its very nice restaurants. 10 mins free shuttle bus ride to the major shopping areas.

- InterContinental Tokyo Bay: Upgraded to a very nice King bed suite. Service was okay, but the concierge staff seemed rather inexperienced. This hotel is located next to a subway station which meant it was easy to go anywhere, although it was a little confusing at first as the hotel-supplied subway map was outdated. It was less than 20 mins to get to places like Roppongi, Ginza, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Akihabara (Electronic City).

A theme that was common to all 3 hotels - very 80s style decor.

Random pics of Japan:

Drinking Sam Adams, in an Irish bar, with friends from Philly - oh how sad! We adjourned to Shinjuku in the later part of the evening/wee hours of the morning of course...


Shibuya!!! Tokyo's Times Square.


Geothermal activity


Ooh a sumurai


Electronic City - got my Ipod Nano (4G) there for AUD240


A pagoda in Kyoto - it's plated with real gold!
 

Keith009

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SQ637 NRT-SIN 22nd Feb 2007
Seat - 32H
Aircraft - 744
ETD - 1100

We took the Narita airport shuttle which picked us up at the IC. The ride was approximately 90 mins, give or take. It was an affordable and convenient way to get to the airport.

After locating the SQ check in row, we turned up at an empty Raffles Class/*G check in line. NRT is a so-called *A integrated hub and all ground handling was performed by NH. Check in took a while as the computer systems were new, and printed 6 of the most naked BPs I've ever seen. No FFP info, no origin info for the SIN-MEL BPs. I could've printed more credible ones with the OLCI. Bags were tagged all the way to MEL. After being assured that the FFP info was locked in, we made our way to a fairly quiet passport control.

We had lounge invitations to the NH C lounge which was around the corner from the gates SQ uses at NRT. I'd organised to meet CGK (SQTalk) at the NH F lounge, and was let in without a word after I identified to the lounge receptionists who my host was going to be. The NH F lounge had a very new feel to it, and had lounge staff bringing up drinks and snacks to guests. Food selection was pretty good. Wine selection was pretty interesting - my first time tasting a Japanese pinot noir, an experience I'd rather not remember nor repeat.











Onboard service was excellent as the way it should be when flying SQ. My parents and I enjoyed seats 32HJK for the extra space and privacy. As the aisle seat is my seat of choice, I had 32H which had slightly more legroom than the other 2 seats due to the positioning of the bulkhead. The experience was thoroughly enhanced by CGK, who was flying in Raffles, choosing that flight to go on diet and arranging for the FAs to serve me his excellent Hayogonomi (sp?) meal! Bless ya, mate! Fauchon (vanilla or earl grey flavours) ice cream was also served.

The Economy class menu for this flight:

LUNCH

International selection

Appetiser
Marinated seafood salad

Main course
Sauteed chicken with mushroom in garlic cream sauce served with buttered vegetables and pasta

Cheese
Cheese and crackers

Dessert
Ice cream

from the bakery
Roll and butter

hot beverages
Coffee - Tea

Japanese selection

appetiser
Zensai
Selection of Japanese appetisers

noodles
Japanese cold noodles

main course
Japanese style simmered pork belly in miso sauce, selected vegetables and steamed rice

light bites
Rice crackers

dessert
Ice cream

from the bakery
Roll and butter

hot beverage
Green tea

cold beverage
Japanese oolong tea
 
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