Short trip to India - YYZ-HKG-BLR-HKG-YYZ - CX/KA in J - Leela Palace and few other places

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  1. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Introduction

    I would have to go to BLR for two days of meetings from YYZ.

    It is an awfully long way to go for the same and in light of this fact, I had chosen a route that would give me the most time to sleep when I needed to in order to ensure I would have very little jet lag. My plan, as always would be to get a few hours of sleep during the trip – in this case turned out to be 6 solid hours – and then pretty much stay up until arrival the destination. Since all options would get me into BLR in the early AM local time – whether going east or west – I opted for a long first flight.

    Having recently done a trip via FRA on AC, I decided that the flight from YYZ to FRA was nowhere near long enough to work well into my plan.

    8 hours in the air is nowhere near long enough to get any level of dedicated sleep IMO. I was also not that impressed with my two most recent AC flights in J and have many issues with the IFA being out of order for about 2 hours on some flights. Also, sitting on the ground in FRA is not something I had any interest in….well, in the F Terminal, I am sure I could be persuaded to spend some time there..but F was not on and J was.

    However, 15.5 hours most certainly would work going YYZ-HKG-BLR (sure it works out to more time in the air and transit time, but who wants to be in FRA for ANY time – that airport sucks). Travel via LHR on BA was also out for the same reasons as FRA.

    So my plan was to take the 9:35 am CX departure to HKG – spend 10 hours in HKG arriving at 1pm local time – thankfully, having some relatives to take you out from some under bridge spicy crab, makes this very enjoyable – then pick up the 10:40pm KA flight to BLR and arrive at 1:40am local time. Lots of time to lounge around also.

    I could choose pretty much any airline, I chose CX – not entirely because of points (I have more than enough BA points through the use of my CC in any case) – mainly because of service and timing. Status is really irrelevant to me since when I fly outside of NA, it is almost always in J, therefore lounge etc. comes with the tix.

    In any case, CX was CAD$4K less than AC/LH in any case or the BA options via LHR.

    Once again, I snagged the mini cabin.
     
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  2. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    YYZ to HKG
    CX 0827
    77A
    9:35am to 1:00pm +1 Day
    Seat 11G
    Class J

    I enjoy any seat in the mini cabin. 11 is the best row since it has an inch or two extra in width but I have been in 11A/12A/12D/11G/11K and 12K and they are all pretty nice.

    Having flown this route three times this year, I knew what to expect. This time, I was on my own – without spouse and child in tow. Made sure to be good and tired – stayed up most of the night before.

    Check in was fast, arrived about 1.5 hours before the flight since the KLM lounge that CX uses in YYZ is a dump and there is no need to spend more time at the airport when you have 24+ of transit time to go.

    Will try to find the menu’s for all the flights and post them in due course.

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    Our bird getting ready to go at T3 at YYZ.

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    Obligatory leg shot along with early morning glass of Champagne.

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    Ah..the winter is coming.

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  3. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    to HKG continued


    The breakfast was very nice. I do enjoy a nice bowl of juk in the morning.
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    Being nice and tired, I crashed for a good 6 hours and then watched a few movies. Woke up to a great mid flight bowl of noodles….opted for the wonton min.

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  4. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Then a few hours later, dinner was served. This was very nice. The smoked duck was outstanding for airline food.

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    And a nice comment card filled out…including, comments about how much I HATE the KLM lounge!!

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  5. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Arrival in HKG

    I arrived in HKG right on time and with carry on only, just exited HKG to meet up with a relative. Decided to take a bus from the Airport to do some shopping in Sha Tin before making our way into the city to Under Bridge Spicy Crab http://www.underspicycrab.com/ I know, not the smartest thing to have with another flight coming up and on ones way to India. Damn tasty and well worth the diversion.

    CNN can do much better justice to this place that I could

    http://www.cnngo.com/hong-kong/eat/secrets-underbridge-spicy-crab-252806

    My belly full of spicy goodness, I hoped on the train back to the airport. Already had my boarding card so picked up my bag that I stored outside the arrivals area, walked up stairs and through security in about 10 minutes. Lines were very very light.

    First stop before the lounges was to grab a bottle of single malt from the hotel in BLR. Being a little sweaty from my jaunt into HKG and grimy from my flight, I went to the Wing and had a shower. I must say, I really do like the QF showers>Pier Showers>Wing Showers.

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  6. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Checked out the cabin and I must say, I enjoyed the place. Great bubbles at the bar, nice fruit smoothies. A little space age and I do not get the little pods, but hey, it works. I was pretty full from dinner but managed to try one of the Reuben. Very tasty.

    I think the Cabin had only been open for a few days and was actually pretty quiet in the evening, but when I returned to HKG a few days later, it was crammed. Perhaps that had to do with the cards given out to all J/F pax to try it out.

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  7. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    HKG to BLR
    CX6710 Operated by KA
    33L
    10:40 pm to 1:30am +1 Day
    Seat 10A
    Class J

    I had not been back on KA since Feb. 2008 on some flights back and forth between HKG and PEK. I must say, it was very nice back then and still is.

    I had seat 10A on the 33L which has monster leg room. The seats are the sort of lie flat seats that I kind of liked.

    Sadly, I was hoping for some Billecart Salmon but had to settle for some Piper instead. Service was great. I opted for the western entre. I was pretty stuffed from dinner in HKG and pretty much ate a little but opted to polish off a half bottle of Piper and about a half bottle of the 2003 Graham’s. I must say, upon arrival in BLR, I had a pretty good buzz going…thankfully.

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  8. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Arrival in Bangalore and the Leela Palace Hotel

    I am not sure what is with Indian customs although I love how the landing card has lots of questions about India’s neighbors. I guess that is to be expected in the circumstances. Being nice and drunk on arrival will ensure one does not get to fussed about the multiple times they check your picture and your visa. It is pretty much impossible to get lost in the BLR airport and what I find nice about this is that only pax with boarding cards are even allowed into the terminal. So traffic is very very limited.

    I converted a few $US into Rupees at the airport (a few bps lost but not bad), walked out of the brand spanking new BLR airport…well, pretty new – it was nice when the airport was closer to the Leela Palace – and walked into the chaos of the BLR taxi mob. I called my driver who must have been having a coffee and was accosted by 4 others trying to take my business…finally, my driver shows up and we are off. Had my local mobile provided and was ready for work…well, at least I would have a day before my meetings.

    At least the flights come in a night when traffic is so much better. One would be hard pressed to think there was any traffic problems in India.

    Arrived at the Leela around 3am – check in was fast and done in room. I was out like a light for another good 7 hours and was ready to go.

    If you have not stayed at the Leela, it is a remarkable hotel. I cannot say enough about it and would stay there again in a heartbeat although the Oberoi in BLR is also very nice. I give the slight edge in food to the Leela….although 5*, I think the prices are high for India but not for the quality you get.

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  9. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    I decided to check out Mysore. Was picked up by my driver at 10am and then one my way. What a total batman show traffic is once you leave Leela. 4 hours each way to go 180km is just not something I am used to. Not to mention that traffic in BLR is total chaos. I have a few Indian friends who swear that BLR is THE worst for traffic in India. I tend to agree. Probably had to do with the fact that it was the day before the final day of Dasara….just my luck.

    Mysore Palace was very nice and very busy. I recommend sucking up the 10 bucks for a guide to show you around the palace. I did not want to bribe the guards to take photos – although this can be arranged.

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    St. Philomena's Church looks strangely out of place in Mysore.

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    In any case, I also managed to check out Chamundeshwari Temple atop the Chamundi Hills

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    and also the Nandi at Chamundi Hills.

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  10. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Finally, before my meetings I managed to sneak in a trip to Bangalore Palace and also check out a few sights in BLR by car….it was on the way. There is just something wrong about how many times you try to get scammed when taking photos....

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  11. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Will start working on the return trip from BLR.
     
  12. Chimpy
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    Thank you very much for the detailed trip report, loved the food photographs.
     
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  13. cockpitvisit
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    Great TR, looking forward to the return portion!
     
  14. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    After two full days of meetings it was time to fly home. I must say, I enjoyed this short trip but it was very busy. Boy do I still miss the food today. To hell with how much it cost, dining outdoors at Jamivar in the Leela Palace is up there as one of my top ten travel moments - http://www.theleela.com/bangalore-jamavar.html not to mention the food was OUTSTANDING….each time I think about I wish I had something like that close by.

    BLR-HKG
    Was supposed to be on 33L but got swapped to a 33R
    CX 6711 operated by KA
    2:40am to 11:10am
    Seat 10A
    Class J

    Having worked all day, I was really bagged when I arrived at the airport. I knew that I would try to get a few hours sleep on this flight to HKG and then would power through until I arrived in YYZ so when I arrived in YYZ at 8pm I would be so tired I would pass out for 12 hours and then be ready to work the next day. Which I was able to BTW.

    Security at the airport is a little bit of a gong show. I had to take all my electronics out of the bag and then have they go in one by one. Then put them all back together and do one more scan. On departure, person looked at my passport several times and then stamped and I was on my way. At least they had many many people carrying out security so lines moved fast. Not sure about the whole stamping of the bag tag and really how effective it is.

    The lounge in BLR is a shared lounge with BA/LH/CX and I am sure every other airline out there it seemed – I think it is the Oberoi lounge.

    I walked into the lounge prior to the LH departure to FRA and walked out RIGHT AWAY. Why people would sit on the ground in the lounge is beyond me. IT WAS SO crammed it was not even funny. People sitting every where and on the floor. So silly. The lounge was tiny also. Given the huge amounts of space in the airport, why they built such a small lounge was totally beyond me. I guess it really only gets used between about 11pm and 3am….

    I had had a nice hearty meal at the Leela Palace before getting to the airport so I was not hungry and knew I could eat if I wanted on the flight – so the lounge was just for free beers.

    In any case, I had a few beers at the Kingfisher Bar instead – also packed - and once the LH flight left, the lounge emptied out. Had a few more beers, made a few phone calls and boarded. A few lounge photos since there is very little out there on this lounge. It is right next to a place called the Kingfisher Bar, which one some sites, would lead you to conclude that there is some criteria to admittance – there is not.

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  15. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    The airport is rather nice and new. I did not have a huge amount to roam around and was too tired to really.

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    As others will know, security stamps your bag and then confirms the stamp is on the tag on your bag before you get on the plane. Another check although I am not sure what would prevent a person from taking a tag from another bag?

    In any case, I noticed another pax in my line with a seat 2A….so I was perplexed and the now figured it was swapped out from a 33L, the best long haul config that KA has, to a 3 class 33R although F with just J service. Being in 10A, it exists on both the 33L and 33R so no move for me. The guy in F had zero status and was his first trip in J so KA must have just re-seated at random. Inbound aircraft was late so this was probably the reason.

    In any case, 10A is not too bad in any case on the 33R although the seat is rather old. The downside was the movies are on a loop – although I can not recall if the same is the case going since I did not pay too much attention.

    Being paranoid about raw food in India, I asked if the plane is double catered out of HKG….answer is it is not so you have to still be on alert for raw stuff…. So even though you think you are safe..be careful. In any case, I was not hungry and stuck to a diet of Champagne and Port and drank a few glasses and passed out for a few hours. Mission accomplished. Travelling with some powder G2 is very useful so when I woke up, I asked for a bottle of H20 and hydrated with the G2. Sorry, nothing really memorable about the flight. What can you say for a worse than red eye.
     
  16. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Arrival into HKG was late due to inbound aircraft. With luck, the plane got out at Gate 16 and I had planed to check out the BA/QF showers as I hear they are the better ones of the OW lounges for J…so voila, there I was in less than 2 minutes.

    I agree that the showers at this J lounge are better than both the ones at the wing and the pier. For reference, I have a few photos from the Pier on a trip via HKG a month or two earlier than this one.

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    I was the ONLY person in this lounge for at least 2 hours and walked right up to the lounge attendent and walked into the showers. Very nice and relaxing and the G2 started to kick in and I was nice and hydrated and ready to go.
     
  17. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    A few more lounge shots of the BA/QF J lounge. I had some nice wonton min and a few glass of white wine for lunch. very nice to be the only one there.
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  18. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    HKG-YYZ
    CX 0826
    77A
    4:10pm to 7:25pm
    Seat 11K
    Class J

    I left the lounge and had to pick up some duty free. Turned out our flight was departing from Gate 16 was a first for me to YYZ. Boarding was un eventful. Departure was a little bumpy with thunder storms out of HKG and we flew right over HKG island.

    Our bird prior to departure.

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    And our neighbor.

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    My seat. Third time in 11K. The only downside with this seat is being able to see into the F area….

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    Ah, F...
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    Sorry, but it is hard to see but we are right over HKG island.

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  19. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    Special menus this time around. Guess they were showcasing Li Shu Tim from the Grand Hyatt. The food ex-HKG was much better than ex-YYZ. I had the slow cooked duck for dinner. Although it did not look as pretty as it could, it sure was damn tasty. Desert was great also.

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    And of course a mid flight bowl of noodles…I actually had two bowls and did not sleep at all on this flight and watched 6 movies. I LOVE CX studio. Hot Tub time machine is really bad, however….although it was kind of funny to be watching some nude scenes as one is being served dinner….i actually felt embarrassed…almost like I had been watching porn or something…

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    I know some would rather have plated food, but I would rather have better tasting food.
     
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  20. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    For my second meal, getting close to local time for lunch, I had the steamed chicken. Again, very very nice. At this point, I was very very full. I kind of hogged out on this return trip and really drank way too much port an champagne.
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    And a nice macaroon.

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    A little blurry since at this point, I was pretty hammered.
     
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  21. milestoburn
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    milestoburn Gold Member

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    So as much as this was a short trip, if further re-affirms that as compared with my other options out of YYZ to this part of the country, I would always fly CX even if it takes me more time.

    I had been doing a fair amount of flying in the last half of last year and I must say, CX has been great on every single flight I have been on. I also think KA is a great airline also.

    Hope you enjoyed.
     
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  22. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Great trip & nice report. Thanks.
     
  23. milestoburn
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    thanks.
     
  24. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Silver Member

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    Great trip report....and terrific pictures. Thanks!
     
  25. milchap
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    Great report.
     

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