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Leg 1: CGK-SIN

I managed to fly on this reconfigured B777-300 by SQ. The aircraft fits in the regional product that is very comfortable for few hours of flying (just like what has been installed in its A330-300). The business class has also improved in terms of seat and space; instead of fitting in 2-3-2 capacity, SQ has decided to fit in 2-2-2 across which translates to more space and more privacy.

Before flying I had a chance to grab a quick lunch at SIA Business Class Lounge in Soekarno Hatta Airport. Note that this lounge has not been transformed to a SilverKris Lounge yet, but facility wise was sufficient. Selection of hot dishes and quick bites are available in the buffet area, plus PC station if one needs to do work and it offers wi-fi connection too.

Boarding was fast, efficient, and in-order. I think because this is a mid-day flight (leaving at 11.30AM) and the plane was only 80% full on that day. First and Business class passengers were first to board to the aircraft followed by the Krisflyer Gold and PPS members then the economy per section.

Service was good and consistent throughout the flight. Champagne, orange juice and water were offered once I settled in my seat. I personally rave about this seat since its made its debut few years ago and a good thing about SQ is you can actually see the seatmap and decide where to sit in the aircraft you are going to fly with and having flown with it for several years, it is rare for them to change the aircraft at a very last minute (my parents were flying with CX once and it changed the aircraft like 3 times before the scheduled departure time, with 3 different configurations!)

Leg 2: SIN-HKG

It always excites me whenever I fly with A380. SQ operates the jumbo interchangeably with its A330-300, B777-200 and B777-300ER for this route, so you can always check the time and pick the one that you like. The widest business class seat in the sky was the highlight. The aircraft that I flew with was reconfigured to all-business class upper deck and it was not that full in the mid and the last section. I did not have a chance to see how is the Suite downstairs, I wish I could next time.

For a 3hours and 25minutes of flying, the seat was more than just comfortable to indulge in. It is easy to operate and it was in 1-2-1 configuration, so if you are flying alone, you can pick window seat with direct aisle access at the same time. If you have a companion the middle section could be your pick and it also has a direct aisle access. Moreover, it is forward facing, no herringbone or reverse-herringbone which I do not find it fancy.

Service was good and the cabin crew addressed me by name throughout the flight since I was welcomed in the aircraft gate. I feel that SQ cabin service is going beyond ‘excellent’ to be very attentive without being too much and remain discreet. I spent my remaining hours to watch BRAVE and a little bit of Britney’s Femme Fatale concert. I must say it was an enjoyable ride indeed.

Leg 3: HKG-SIN

Another journey with A380 this round. What was more, the aircraft has wi-fi installed in it and for mere USD10 for 10MB access, one can enjoy using data service (Like me with my BBM) for the entire flight. It is provided by OnAir who also provides the same service for other mega-airlines too such as Emirates, Garuda (soon), All Nippon Airways, Qantas, TAP’s America, Etihad Airways, Hong Kong Airlines and so on.

You only need to connect your device just like when you connect to any hotspot wifi service, then just follow the few steps then you are connected. Wi-fi connectivity was very good, no disturbance whatsoever and I could remain connected for the entire flight.

My seat was 11K at the upper deck (another A380 with all business class-upper deck), when I did my internet check-in I was not sure if it has a window, so I double checked when I checked-in my luggage at HKIA, the agent said it should have window, but it was not! So I said to one of the cabin crew to get a seat with a window and she said it was not a full flight and only that pointy-end of the business class section that occupied, so I was free to move to 16K (with window of course!)

I must take note of the cabin crew on this flight that I think they do deserve to mention. After the meal service I was offered for a hot drinks, like gourmet coffee or TWG tea; since I was quite full then I declined politely and hey I still had a space for a little praline as it said in the menu so I asked for it. When she returned, she handed me a plate (not a piece or few, but a place consists of like 10 or 12 of assorted pralines) and she said I can have them all if I want to, which of course (again) I have to reject politely, no way that I could finish the whole plate of pralines. I thought it was a nice gesture of her.

Leg 4: SIN-CGK

Arriving in SIN then I made my way to the SilverKris Lounge in T2 and managed to get a quick shower and light snacks before I flew back to Jakarta. I still prefer the SKL in T3 though with a feel of airy and bright, the one in T2 is somehow not that bright and not that airy but never mind.

The leg was served by the older B777-200, meaning that the business class section was arranged in 2-3-2 instead of the new one 2-2-2. When I looked around the section, the middle seats were emptied, so yes it was a good one to have more space next to you. The seat was named Ultimo seat generation (if I am not mistaken) that SQ introduced long time ago before the SpaceBed took place, but for approx 90mins I do not really care.

Just a note to travellers: if you really have to land in CGK, try to avoid the peak hours like anytime after 6PM to 11PM, I think that is the premiere slot that the middle-eastern carrier also lands at that time, this translates to never-ending queue at the immigration check. Mid-day arrival is so much better with less queue in the immigration.

For those who fly out from CGK, morning up to 10AM is the peak, so try to avoid this hours, unless if you are flying with Garuda Executive Class which gives you a fast-track immigration clearance.

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Having a chance to visit Perth (again) this winter time has really delighted me. Been here, studied here and lived here for sometimes makes me feel emotionally bound to this city. Of course one way or another many have said that Perth is relatively quiet as compared to eastern coast cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, but I personally think that what makes Perth differs and unique from others, laidback, not rushing, beautiful weather this time.

I stayed in my host-parents’ house where I used to live when I was here years ago. A beautiful cozy house with italian flare I would say (since my hostparents are Italian) plus that it is convenient to either catch a bus or a train.

/DAY1

my sister and I were craving to have lunch at this Japanese canteen called ‘tanpopo tea-house’ that is located near our former school called St. Mark’s somewhere in Mt. Lawley; so we decided to take bus from the city to go there. Surprisingly St. Mark’s is not there anymore, either they have closed down or relocated somewhere else. Our school building has been transformed to a city-loft style of apartments block. In addition ‘tanpopo’ too has relocated itself from the corner of the small supermarket to now its own shop across the street. Still the best menu we rave is the Teriyaki Chicken Katsu.

The rest of the day we strolled the city and not forgotten to visit Jaws sushi shop in front of GPO where we used to have our post-school-mid-day hunger fixed plus Miss Maud too (you will not find miss maud anywhere else except in this city!). Everything on display is soooo good!!

/DAY2

The next day we decided to go for Cicerellos even before we plan to go to Perth this time, so Fremantle is the answer. Same old school style of fish and chips but we love it. Luckily that we did not order one for each, instead we ordered one and we shared and even  that successfully made everybody full. Huge portion that is. After that big brunch we strolled upon cappucino strip – that is a street where all the coffee shops are located and yes, they all offer cappucino! If you are not into coffee then the famous gelare shop is just around the corner (Yes, we do have ones in Indo but trust me it tastes somehow different!). We spent the rest of the day in the city, try to navigate our way since the city itself has been progressively renovated and relocated, in a good way of course; bought some snacks australian made in woolworths and plus not forgetting our favourite Baker’s Delight!! If you ask me what is good there, I always love it’s banana cake.

/DAY3

When we were students here, we did not really spend our time to go to the countryside or visit other suburbs that are famous for local produced items, so this time we decided to embark on half-day tour for farm and winery visit. The tour starts at 9 in the morning and lasts for 4 hours.

Our first stop was Margaret River Chocolate factory, massive chocolate display and extensive chocolate variants to choose from. I do not really like the chocolate but the home-made ice cream was something to-die-for! Next stop was Caversham wildlife park where you could see and experience the Australian outback. I have been to similar place before when I was in excursion for my English course but I could not remember where it was. So that was Caversham park, full of koalas, kangaroos, snakes, lizards, dingos and so on.

After that we went to one of the well-known wineries in the region located in Swan Valley called Lancaster. I am not into alcoholic drinks either, but its own produced dessert wines have blown me away! Good review on this one that I finally bought one for my host mum.

Last stop is the nougat factory which I think it runs by an Italian family too. You can ask for free sample before you decide which to buy, ranging from hard nougat, soft nougat, plus more than 10 flavours to choose from. This stop would make up the whole half-day tour and we were happy!

One thing that has never changed, dinner is always a fiesta or a celebration. My host mum would normally cook more than 2 dishes plus salad and dessert, so the dinner menu would be something like:

/Appetiser

Traditional style cannelloni with ricotta and spinach filling

/Main Course

Beer battered baked fish with mixed garden salad and olive, balsamic dressings

/Sweet Ending

Home-made banana custard, raspberry crumble sponge cake and ice cream

/After dinner

Selection of cookies and lemon cake

 

Last but not least, enjoy some shoots here. Perth anyone?

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:: Fly away ::

Having heard its reputation and improvement for being a reputable airline (A 5-stars airline sourced from SKYTRAX), then I gave it a go this time for a regional route that lasts for around 5 hours of flying. During the journey, I have found some flaws that I wish to highlight and share but then again, hopefully they would be treated as constructive feedback somehow.

Onward journey was fine, speedy check-in procedure was a plus, nobody was queuing and thanks for online check-in facility that is available 48 hours prior to scheduled departure time (it was 24 hours before). This time, I was in the old B777-300 with an ageing regional product. This translated to old-looking cabin and actually it was totally different from what you may see in the airline’s website and what it has been promoting all over the place, and I mean totally. I had a glimpse through business class section upon boarding and I believe that our national carrier has a better business class product.

Back to my seat, the standard pitch was alright but the bulky type of seat at this era seems soon be forgotten (and your competitors have just installed slim, ergonomically designed and more appealing seats on their fleets). Added to a picture where no AVOD (audio video on demand) was available for almost 5 hours of flying, that means just watch whatever was being viewed on your private screen. No pillow was on seat unlike its rival. Blanket would be made available only IF you ask for it (the other airline offers pillow and blanket in every seat), another box is not ticked.

Would you like to read some magazines? Oh yes, that is the only one in your seat pocket. Having traveled for sometimes, I personally prefer a wide arrange of reading materials that would keep myself busy during the journey. I was looking for them at the end of the section where the crew normally would put a selection of magazines, but there was none other than the frequent flyer forms.

Meal service then began. The breakfast or brunch was offered with 2 selection of main course (no menu card was distributed unlike the other one), chicken noodle or beef with rice. The tray consists of your selection of main course, a plate of fruit (3slices to be precised), a Biokul yoghurt and a danish. Nothing fancy really but would fill up your morning hunger for sometimes and that was it.

Returning journey was about the same. Same old aircraft, same regional product offerings (despite having read the forum that it is actually based on your luck – whether you get a new product or the old one; and you would not know until you board the aircraft, but hey we are paying dollars and we do have a certain expectation to make our trip a memorable one). The only thing that made up the returning journey was the meal service, where this time it was tastier and more proper food than the first sector.

In general, in-flight service was only OK. Note that one of the crew faked the smile and was not genuinely interested in doing her job while the only thing I asked was a glass of water after the meal service and nothing else! For your interest, there was none being offered after the meal service and only another round of drinks 30 minutes prior to land. It was very contradicting where I read this tag ‘people, make airline’ almost everywhere. Oh yes, either the good or the bad.

To sum up, it was not as I expected and I would think twice to fly with this airline again in the future. Well, ok it has a 5stars rating but for me the stars may not be the shining ones.

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Melbourne offers a different vibe as compared to Sydney. This city will mesmerize you with its magical charm and never-ending beauty. Well, a little like London I would say but it is in Australia.

LET’S FLY

Full service airlines may be your choice to fly direct to Melbourne. Regional carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, and Malaysia Airlines do offer daily flights to the capital of Victoria. If you are traveling from Sydney, then you can either choose to fly with Qantas, Tiger Airways, Jetstar or newly rebranded Virgin Australia. The connections are countless starting from the wee hours to almost midnight, kind of like a shuttle service between the two capitals, that is almost one flight in every 40 minutes. Alternatively, if you are on budget then AirAsiaX offers a one-stop service (through KL) from Jakarta to Melbourne (that is if you don’t mind arriving at 11.30pm!)

LET’S GO TO THE CITY

Melbourne has two airports, one is called Tullamarine and the other is Avalon. Make sure that your flight is landed at Tullamarine as it has a better transportation option as compared to the other one. My pick to the city was SKYBUS, the fastest and the most convenient transfer to town. One way adult ticket costs you at AUD17, however for return ticket costs you AUD28. This shuttle bus runs everyday including Sunday and public holiday. Here is the deal, it takes you to the bus port where you would be delivered to your respective hotel by a minibus (and that is inclusive in your ticket).

LET’S STAY

Melbourne’s CBD would be in a square of  Collin’s Street, Bourke Street and somewhere there. It is very easy to navigate. For your convenience you can book yourself in any hotels within this proximity and you are right in the heart of CBD. I was staying at Grand Hyatt Melbourne (recently refurbished and renovated!) at 123 Collins Street and everything is within walking distance. Westin Melbourne is another choice that is located nearer to the iconic Flinder’s Station. Other than those, the city itself offers a numerous accommodation choices depending on your budget and your preferred location.

LET’S EAT

My first destination in Melbourne is to have lunch at NOBU in Crown Tower. Its signature dish by Nobu Matsushita ‘black cod in miso’ would make you beg for more. Have your lunch here when they offer lunch set and you would have a little bit of everything in that lunch box. Trust me it should satisfy your hunger (Bento box with black cod costs AUD45). Along the way from Collins Street to Crown Tower there are lots of cafes, restaurants, for sure something for everyone.

LET’S SHOP

International brands and local brands are everywhere, get lost yourself in the city (and practically you won’t be lost anyway!).

LET’S IMAGINE

and start to book your ticket now!

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The charm and beauty of this city will make you beg for more or even linger for a little longer. Sydney it is! Located in the Eastern coast of this kangaroo continent, Sydney has becoming much more like melting pot simply because you would find everybody from everywhere here.

LET’S FLY

Numerous connections are offered between JAKARTA and SYDNEY. One can opt to direct service by flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, despite its weird timing (arriving in Sydney by mid-morning) maybe would give you a good chance to just in time for check-in. If you want to splurge a bit more then why not fly with Singapore Airlines or Qantas. Please note that Qantas uses its budget carrier for JAKARTA-SINGAPORE service before continuing its journey to Sydney (oh yes, with Qantas of course!). Other than that, the good news is SCOOT will play its luck to the continent with merely SGD168 from SINGAPORE to SYDNEY one way; or even you can choose AirAsia if you do not mind transiting in KLIA before flying to Sydney.

LET’S GO TO THE CITY

Upon arrival in Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport, you can take the AirportLink which will take you all the way to town in about 20 mins. 1 adult ticket would cost AUD15 one way. Hop off in Town Hall or Central and you are right in the middle of the city. Find your way is easy with the city’s public transport.

LET’S STAY

If you plan to stay a bit longer in the capital, try to search for serviced apartments such as Meriton, Medina or even Fraser Residence. Normally the unit would be equipped with all basic necessities, including washing machine, dish washer, cooking utensils plus laundry drier. Advance booking translates to cheaper rate for the whole stay (starts from AUD145 nett for studio apartment in Meriton). Other than that, various hotels with various gradings are also available throughout the CBD and beyond, but again transport makes things easy to go and hop.

LET’S EAT

Sydney offers all kind of cuisines, ranging from Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Modern Australia and so on. Sushi has made its trend here, seems being well accepted by the locals. Believe it or not, frozen yoghurt has also sets its footprint in the capital with long queue over hours. The tips is to order one or two dishes first, see if they are enough for everybody, yes, I am talking about HUGE portion here. Don’t forget to try the local pie chain and the cupcakes too.

LET’S WINE

Book yourself for a winery tour, lunch and wine tasting are inclusive. Learn how to do a proper wine testing from the experts, see how the good wine is produced and last but not least drink responsibly! Some wines are only being sold in Australia and not meant for exported to other countries.

LET’S IMAGINE

and start to book your ticket now!!

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My family and I have planned this trip for sometimes, last year it was cancelled due to the political unstability in the capital, then this year just before we left, there was a flood issue all over the place. We kept ourselves informed about the development and anticipation towards the issue, but nevertheless we made it, we stayed there, we enjoyed, and we cannot wait to come back.

This is not our first time visiting the City of Angels, the last time my parents went here was almost 11 years or 12 years ago, and myself was merely a few months back, but really only went for a shopping with totally no sightseeing. Bangkok has changed a lot in a positive way, lots of big developments and tourism seems to be the center of economic life in this country.

Anyway, we went for a Temple trip this time, not the first time too but you know it gives you a very good feeling as you are connected to the Almighty. Golden Temple or WAT TRIMITR was the first stop where you could see the Buddha statue in a solid gold weighting 5.5 tons, one of the oldest temples in the city. Second stop was at The Reclining Buddha or locals refer as ‘WAT PHO‘. Many mistaken for the term ‘sleeping’, ‘resting’ or whatever, in fact the statue has its eyes open, so it is called ‘reclining’. Not the longest and the largest in Bangkok, its counterpart which is longer and larger lies somewhere in the countryside and well kept. Wat Pho was built to serve as a learning centre; this is where the Thai massage and Yoga were originated. One could see the blend of the Thai and Chinese art here, looking at the window frames as well as the roof. The last stop was WAT BENCHAMABOPHIT or Marble Temple, this temple is one of a kind. Unlike others, this temple built using Italian Marble, with a French mosaic through the window frame, as well as adopting Chinese style at the rooftop.

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This is my second stay in the property and just like any other Hyatt properties, this grand is located close to everywhere. Adjacent to the skybridge that takes you to the BTS station, Grand Hyatt Erawan is truly a good place to stay in. Not forgotten to mention the service that is always fuss-free, personalised, impeccable and efficient (Imagine that everyone addressed you by name!).

Being a Gold passport member for few years and earning a Platinum tier, it gives me lots of benefits upon check-in and also free upgrade to suite as I was travelling with my parents too. The other room was booked for the newly wed my sister and her husband. Located in the highest floor with an access to the Grand Club where the guests could unwind and enjoy afternoon cocktails and ala carte breakfast every morning, the Suite room was impressive enough, bright and airy.

The little surprise came for the newly wed, all complimentary by Grand Hyatt Erawan. The chef delivered himself to the room a chocolate fountain, fresh strawberries plus cut local fruits and a bottle of champagne. Despite the not-so-good reviews that I have read in tripadvisor, I still believe that this grand still has its charm in every corner. If you are into shopping, this one earns a very good location, 2 minutes to Gaysorn, next door is Erawan Shopping Mall, 5 mins walk to CentralWorld, 10 minutes walk further to Siam Paragon.

When I was there, lots of rumours went along the way regarding the flooding inside the capital, however not to worry that the front-desk staffs, the duty manager and almost everybody in the property kept themselves updated about the issue. So anybody that you would ask about the flood, they always have the information in hand.

The Grand Room booked for my sister was a Hyatt standard, plush comfortable bed, pillow menu, oversized bathroom with tub and separate shower. My parents’ suite room comes with separate living room, open space, a dining table for four plus an extra powder room for the guest located next to the entrance. Towels come fresh everyday with a scent of frangipani, bathroom comes with double wash basin, huge vanity mirror, separate tub and shower, plus [comfortzone] toiletries.

As a member of Gold Passport, I earned a complimentary tea/coffee service every morning that always served with the freshly cut stacks of orchids and a daily newspaper. Just cannot wait to be back. The welcoming letter by the Director of the Room really made a little nice gesture, especially when it came with a basket of local fruits. Enjoy the snapshoots!

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