Heading Home for Chinese New Year

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  1. calvinoeh
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    I know it's been a couple of weeks since Chinese New Year has been over and this trip report is long overdue. It just have been one of those few crazy weeks at work.

    You know we couldn't just take the easy way home and fly coach on United or Singapore airlines. Swiss first class has to be one of the hardest redemption to obtain but there was a time when there widely available due to a glitch on Lifemiles. Too bad it's gone now but I managed to get snag 2 seats in Swiss first class from Miami before connecting to Thai first class to Bangkok before the glitch was shutdown.

    Since we've never been to Miami before, we decided to spend a night and I used up one of my free night certs from the Citi Reserve Hilton credit card at the Hilton Bentley Miami South Beach. We also definitely had to at least stay a night in Bangkok for some massages and Thai food before flying back to Penang. We opted this time to try out the Sofitel So Bangkok.

    For the trip back to the US, we would be flying on Singapore Airlines. I'd redeemed a first class award through Krisflyer on their SIN-HKG-SFO flight when it was still operated by their 777-300ER aircraft in anticipation of the switch to a Airbus A380 and allowing me to try out the oh so elusive Suites class. There was only one seat available so Lydia had to "slum" it in business class.

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    As usual, the trip report will be available on my blog with trip installments below:

     
  2. calvinoeh
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    Sofitel So Bangkok

    We were welcomed at the hotel by a bunch of police motorcycles and a security check at the entrance. Apparently there were some foreign ministers/VIPs staying at the hotel so security was super tight.

    Check in itself was a small adventure as I had two reservations - one paid reservation that I made a couple of weeks before due to good rates from a Sofitel sale and a free night Advantage Plus reservation that I made months ago that I forgot to cancel. We were escorted to the Club Lounge for check-in where we were welcomed with a refreshing drink and cold towel. Since we arrived really early at 7am, a room was only available an hour later which was not a big deal since we had some breakfast and caught up on email in the lounge.
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    Club Lounge​
    It was rather disappointing not to have an upgrade and the "element" of our choice. We had requested a "water" theme room but due to the early arrival and full occupancy, the hotel could only initially accommodate us in a "metal theme" room which was essentially an all white room. The room itself was rather small and we didn't enjoy the whiteness of the room.
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    We spent the rest of the morning lazing around the pool. We enjoyed that the pool was just long enough to do laps to work off some of the copious amount of food we were having.
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    Infinity Pool​

    A bottle of wine and some snacks were waiting for us when we got back to our room after enjoying lunch at MBK ood court and a much needed foot massage.

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    We spent the rest of the day at the hotel. We headed to the complimentary happy hour/evening cocktails during the evening and had a massage booked later during the night at the hotel Spa. The massage was definitely pricier than the many massage jaunts in Bangkok but the massage at the Sofitel was way better.​
    While we were enjoying evening cocktails at the executive lounge, a manager came to checked on how our stay was going. After sharing our disappointment that we weren't upgraded, he not only managed to find a suite to upgrade us to and arranged for our bags to get moved, he threw in an additional thirty minutes to our massage. Nice service recovery!​
    The upgraded water theme suite was definitely more amazing than the initial room we had. The room was huge and boasted an amazing view of Bangkok city. Best of all, we preferred the blue theme as compared to the all white the metal room.​
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  3. calvinoeh
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    The Private Room

    After a good a week and a half in Malaysia catching up with friends and family and equally important the food like Laksa, Nasi Kandar and Char Kway Teo, it was time to head back to Austin. I'm going to skip blogging about the flights since it was the usual uninteresting short hops on Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines.

    Lydia was getting into Singapore on a slightly later Silk Air flight and had checked through all our luggage leaving with me just a carry on rollerboard. I headed straight to the Silverkris First Class lounge upon arrival in Singapore from a Air Asia flight from Kuching where an agent promptly checked me in provided me with the golden Suites boarding pass before escorting me to The Private Room.
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    First Class Section​

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    Since it was still too early for lunch, I started off with my some coffee and water while catching up on email. The Private Room consisted of a lounge area that reminded me of an upscale British house and a dining room that served a wide selection of ala carte options. The Private Room also had it's own separate washroom and shower areas.
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  4. calvinoeh
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    Singapore to Hong Kong

    Boarding was already underway when we got to the departure gate and with no lines in the First Class/Suite line, we strolled right into the plane. We headed to the upper deck Business Class section first and dropped off Lydia's bag before proceeding down the stairs to the elusive Suites. A flight stewardess was there to welcome us and even offered to take a picture of both of us.

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    Empty adjacent seat​
    I had pre-selected one of the middle seats hoping that the next seat would be empty so I would have a double suite just to myself. I lucked out as the seat remained empty for the rest of the flight.

    Menus were distributed after take-off with the stewardess serving me confirming that my Book-the-Cook Japanese meal was on board. I was disappointed that there was no satay and caviar on offer - what the heck?!?1
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  5. calvinoeh
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    Hong Kong to San Francisco

    I failed in my attempt to have Lydia seated in Suites prior to landing so we could exit the plane together. However, the crew did make sure that Lydia came down to the Suites section when we arrived and was ready to de-plane. An escort waiting for us when we got off the plane. We requested to go to the United lounge instead of the SQ's own Silverkris lounge since I knew that they had no showers there. I'm surprised that the United lounge was still open with no more United flights for the day. The only ones in the lounge were us and another couple who were also flying in Suites.

    We left the lounge right on the departure time published on our boarding passes. It wasn't clear if there was going to be an escort back to the plane so we were pleasantly surprised to find the escort waiting for us outside the lounge when we left. Boarding had just begun when we got to the gate so the lines were still long due to the annoying additional security screening for US bound flights although our escort did make sure that we were able to bypass the line.

    Lydia and I said goodbye at the aerobridge this time. I could tell that this part of the flight was going to be much better as soon as I got on. Unlike the first flight, the in-flight supervisor personally came over to say hi, informed me of the flight time (a disappointing short 10 hours) and made sure I was well taken care of.

    The load in Suites was much lighter on this flight. I only remembered the couple seating right in front of me although there might have been someone else in the front cabin.

    Once we got airborne the crew made sure my glass of Krug never stayed empty. I had Book-the-Cook some noodles and wonton for supper but decided to save it for breakfast/brunch/early dinner before landing. I wasn't all too hungry but the Beef Wellington sounded particularly appertizing especially after seeing it as a regular item on Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen.
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    Oysters​

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    Soup​

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    Beef Wellington​
    Once I got done with supper, it was time to convert my suite into the oh-so-elusive double bed in the sky. It took two flight attendants about ten minutes to setup. I like that the suites were totally private with the sliding doors but the bed itself wasn't the best bed in the sky I've tried before. I would rate Lufthansa's seat/bed combo on their 747 higher. It was awesome that I had all the space but in reality the second bed was just wasted space since I was pretty much limited to one bed anyway with having to buckle up the seatbelts. Goes without saying that would have enjoyed it much more with Lydia!
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