[Travel] Cathay Pacific The Pier, Business Class Lounge

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Travelled to Hong Kong again last month and flew back with Cathay Pacific on their A350-900 Premium Economy cabin. That was good. But I enjoyed their lounge the most.

CX Lounge Map

CX Lounge Map

In Hong Kong International Airport which is the home hub for Cathay Pacific, there are not 1 but 4 Business Class lounges for departing passengers.

  • The Wing, Business (Level 6, Terminal 1 near gate 1-4): Noodle Bar, Long Bar, Coffee Loft, Shower Rooms, Workstations
  • The Bridge (Level 5, Terminal 1 near gate 35): Bistro, Bakery, Long Bar, Coffee Loft, Shower Rooms, Workstations
  • The Cabin (Level 6, Terminal 1 near gate 23): Health Bar, Deli, Workstations
  • The Pier, Business (Level 6, Terminal 1 near gate 65): Noodle Bar, Tea House, Food Hall, Coffee Cart, Shower Suites, Relaxation Rooms, Bureau

So with my Marco Polo Club Elite Silver membership, I can go to any of these lounges for free. So which 1 should I go to? As my flight is near gate 65, The Pier, Business is a natural choice as it is near to my gate, newly renovated and with the best facilities across all these lounges. Will be keen to try out The Cabin in the future.

CX Business Class Lane

Checking in at CX Business Class Lane

CX Business Class Counter

CX Business Class Counter

CX Lounge Invitation Card

CX Lounge Invitation Card

CX The Pier, Business Class Lounge

CX The Pier, Business Class Lounge

CX The Pier, Business Class Lounge Reception

CX The Pier, Business Class Lounge Reception

Artwork on display

Artwork on display

Signature Dan Dan Noodle in Noodle Bar

Signature Dan Dan Noodle in Noodle Bar

Dim Sum and Wonton Noodle

Dim Sum and Wonton Noodle

JING Tea and Cakes in Tea House

JING Tea and Cakes in Tea House

Relaxation Rooms

Relaxation Room

Food Hall

Food Hall

Coffee Cart

Coffee Cart

Luggage Lockers

Luggage Lockers

Bureau

Bureau

[Membership Cards] 1+1>2: SPG+Uber

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Many people know me as a big Uber advocate. I have stopped taking cabs when possible unless there are absolutely no Uber around or surge pricing is ridiculously high.

I have stayed in W Hong Kong in December 2016 and that was the first time I stayed in a Starwood property even though I have my Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) membership since 2011. So with this stay and a promotion with World MasterCard, I got upgraded to SPG Gold.

So now with SPG gold, I can earn SPG points faster. But how to make it work even harder? That’s when partner programs will help to maximize.

With a stay done in Starwood property, I can start earning SPG points on every Uber ride. Simply link my SPG and Uber accounts together.

SPG+Uber

SPG+Uber

At the moment, earn rate is as follow:

  • 1 SPG point per US$1 day to day.
  • 2 SPG points per US$1 during stays with Starwood property.

From February 2017 onwards, earn rate will revise to following:

  • 1 SPG point per US$2 day to day.
  • 2 SPG points per US$1 during stays with Starwood property.

From now on, I will write more about how partner programs can help you in maximizing your membership programs and I call this series of articles 1+1>2.

[Credit Cards] Concierge

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For upcoming trip to Hong Kong, I thought I will want to watch a concert at the classic Hong Kong Coliseum AKA 红磡 and what can be more classic than a concert by god of songs 歌神 Jacky Cheung 张学友.

Jacky Cheung A Classic Tour

Jacky Cheung A Classic Tour

For this kind of concert, there is no doubt that tickets are sold out pretty quickly. So this calls for some special arrangement. You may know each credit card has a phone number behind that you can call your bank for issues with your credit cards. Some banks may even have their own concierge service but services offered may be quite basic or with limited global coverage unless you are holding a top tier credit card. (Like American Express Centurion.) So to get things done globally for average joe like me, who can help? Visa Signature Concierge.

How to reach them?

  • Phone: 800 448 1450
  • Online (Alternative contact numbers listed online for language and region.)

Services:

  • Flight reservations
  • Hotel reservations
  • Restaurant reservations
  • Car rental reservations
  • Event ticket purchases
  • Trip planning
  • Emergency services
    • Reporting lost or stolen cards
    • Emergency card replacement
    • Emergency cash disbursement
  • Other general requests

So how did it went? From enquiry to receive tickets via FedEx, the whole process took 2 weeks. Not too bad. Though I have to pay a premium for the ticket, (A little more than double the cost. What to do? Sold out!) I feel is worth it and I need not worry about the ticket’s authenticity. The seat looks good based on seating plan. So looking forward to an enjoyable concert on boxing day in Hong Kong!

Jacky Cheung Ticket

Jacky Cheung Ticket

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.

[Travel] Cathay Pacific (CX) Premium Economy Class HKG-SIN: Booking Award Flight

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Another flight in 2 weeks time again to Hong Kong. As usual, flying out on Singapore Airlines Suites on boxing day morning using my miles. Will be in The Private Room on Christmas night to enjoy my Christmas dinner.

So what’s new on this trip? Let’s start off with the return flight. This time round, I will not be returning on a Star Alliance carrier. I will be returning to Singapore on Hong Kong’s flag carrier: Cathay Pacific. (CX)

So why CX?

  1. It’s Hong Kong’s flag carrier. I have been to Hong Kong quite a few times but have never tried it. Have friends who are fans of CX. All ask me to give them a try.
  2. CX took delivery of their Airbus A350-900XWB recently. So got to give this plane and CX’s new cabin product a try. I’m an Airbus guy.
  3. Got my Marco Polo Club Silver status for free. (Usually cost: USD100 and flights worth 300 club points.) Thanks to a corporate benefit from CX for the company I work for in my day job. Benefit: Business Class lounge access for any travel on CX’s flight. SCORE! Will be going to the Pier!

    Marco Polo Club

    Marco Polo Club Silver (OneWorld Ruby BTW!)

  4. Miles transfer. Most banks in Singapore only allow transfer of credit card points to 2 programs: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and CX Marco Polo Club/Asia Miles. (Citibank and American Express allows transfer to more programs while Standard Chartered allows transfer over to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer only at a pretty lousy rate of transfer.)

So I transferred 10,000 miles from UOB using 5,000UNI$ (Due to block redemption requirement.) and 14,000 miles from Citibank to redeem a Premium Economy Class ticket on CX’s A350-900XWB from Hong Kong to Singapore one way for 260HKD. (SG$49.16.) That’s a total cost savings of 7200HKD. (SG$1,361.35. 97% savings!)

CX Redemption

CX Redemption

CX Cost

CX Cost

Let’s see if I can score an upgrade on this flight…

[Travel] U-Tiny Boutique Home Suvarnabhumi Bangkok

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Usually I will try a top 10 ranked local hotel (Not under any international chain and manage by locals.) based on TripAdvisor ranking when I visit a country for the 1st time. (Hotel Icon for Hong Kong-Rank 2, Dandy Hotel TianMu for Taiwan-Rank 3 and Hotel Ryumeikan for Tokyo-Rank 2.)  So for my recent Bangkok trip, I choose U-Tiny Boutique Home Suvarnabhumi Bangkok which is currently rank 8 on TripAdvisor. So how was it?


A quick tour round the room.

A quick tour round hotel.

That was 2 Facebook Live broadcast that I did from U-Tiny. Hope it gives you a good look around. So here are some photos taken at U-Tiny.

Lobby and Breakfast

Lobby and Breakfast

Cosy Corner

Cosy Corner

Pool

Pool

Pool at night

Pool at night

Rooms

Rooms

View

Greenery View

Breakfast

Breakfast: Western

Spring Roll

Dinner: Spring Roll

Green Curry

Dinner: Green Curry

Green Curry

Dinner: Green Curry

Inside Room

Inside Room

More photos here. (Room photos etc.)

What I like about the hotel:

  • Convenient. (Near airport and complimentary airport transfer. Additional pickup from Lat Krabang station at night chargeable at 100THB or about SG$3.87.)
  • New place and facilities.
  • Homely feel.
  • Nice public area. (Lobby, Living Room, Lawn and Pool etc.)
  • Friendly staffs.
  • Well prepared family style meals.
  • In house massage service available. (Highly recommended!)
  • Super spacious and comfortable rooms.
  • Free WIFI!

Things to improve:

  • TV reception not good. In room antenna needed a lot of adjustment. Gave up and relied on my trusty tablet instead.

[Travel] Singapore Airlines SQ976 A330-300 SIN>BKK Business Class 7 May 2016

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Is not my first time travelling on A330-300 Business Class with Singapore Airlines. (Did that to Hong Kong before. My 1st adventure in a premium cabin.) However, it is my first time travelling with Singapore Airlines on my birthday in a premium cabin. So this is how it went. In this post, I will focus more on new experiences and some interesting points.

Blue Ticket

Green (Old Economy Class. Now is Premium Economy Class. Not done that yet.)/White Ticket Checked. (Economy Class.)
Blue Ticket Checked. (Business Class.)
Gold Ticket Checked. (Suites.)
Only left Red. (First Class.)

Champagne

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne served at SilverKris Lounge Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2. Same as inflight.

Gate E20

Gate E20.

A330-300

A330-300.

Priority both on and off the ground.

Priority both on and off the ground.

Deliciously Wholesome: Namyu Cabbage Roll and Jinlen Eggplant and Beancurd with Brown Lamien Noodle and Wood Ear Mushroom

Deliciously Wholesome: Namyu Cabbage Roll and Jinlen Eggplant and Beancurd with Brown Lamien Noodle and Wood Ear Mushroom by Zhu Jun. (Book The Cook.) Not a common choice says the Stewardess. But good pick. Side dishes: Thai Style Salmon and New York Cheesecake as Dessert.

Hidden Menu: Birthday Cake!

Hidden Menu: Birthday Cake! Have to call in to SQ to request. Available for all classes of travel.

Packed for off flight enjoyment. (AKA: Supper)

Packed for off flight enjoyment. (AKA: Supper.)

[Travel/Deal] Travel Insurance from Changi Recommends

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Usually I do not recommend Changi Recommends (Pun intended.) for their Overseas WIFI Router Rental service because of their Fair Usage Policy (FUP) which is quite a deal breaker. I will rather touch down and buy local prepaid SIM or use Singtel DataRoam Saver Plan for places like China where I don’t have to worry about limit/VPN etc.

Recently, there is finally something from them that I can recommend. They are now running a promotion for single trip Travel Insurance to Thailand and Hong Kong underwritten by ACE Insurance. Free prepaid SIM card for Thailand or Hong Kong upon purchase.

Changi Recommends

Good deal!

Travel insurance costs SG$28 for Thailand and SG$36 for Hong Kong. Counting in SG$13 for Thailand prepaid SIM and SG$15 for Hong Kong prepaid SIM, it costs SG$15 and SG$21 respectively for travel insurance. Good deal eh? I have collected my Thailand prepaid SIM at Changi Recommends and will be using it on my Thailand trip!

Thailand AIS SIM

Thailand AIS SIM

[Travel] Bangkok Bookings

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For those who have been following this site on Facebook, (If you have not, please follow it with a like. I promise to do more Facebook Live as it now support Android on unverified pages too!) you should have seen that I have booked a trip to Bangkok as usual on Singapore Airlines using miles.

SQBKBusMiles

17,000 KrisFlyer Miles + SG$102.80 for flight out on Business Class.

SQBKBusCost

Normal cost? SG$1,050.80! Save SG$948! (90% Savings.)

SQBKEcoMiles

10,625 KrisFlyer Miles + THB2,722 (SG$108.97) for return flight on Economy Class. Paid THB707 (US$20 or SG$28.30) more for Exit row seat.

SQBKEcoCost

Normal cost? THB6,797! (Inclusive of Exit row premium.) Save THB4,075. (SG$163.13. 60% Savings.)

So this leads to a total savings of SG$1,111.13 (84% Savings!) with 27,625 KrisFlyer Miles. Comparing it to savings on my previous trip to Hong Kong on Singapore Airlines Suites/Economy Class with KrisFlyer Miles, this is not as worth it. However, I got some special plans.

SQSecretMenu

Notice something special? I have Booked The Cook as usual but this time it will be Namyu Cabbage Roll and Jinlen Eggplant and Beancurd with Brown Lamien Noodle and Wood Ear Mushroom on their Deliciously Wholesome Menu. You can also see a special meal requested: Birthday Cake! You can call in to KrisFlyer Membership Hotline to request if you are flying close to your birthday or significant anniversary dates.

Hotel wise, TripAdvisor and Agoda called upon again to help me with decision making/booking, This time round, I book using Agoda’s UOB portal and that got me 7% off my stay at U-Tiny Boutique Home Suvarnabhumi Bangkok which is currently ranked 7 on TripAdvisor. Review looks good and I will be contributing my review as well.

Agoda UTiny

Booked on 1 of their 3 Executive Garden Access Rooms. Shall see how good is this.

Upon arrival in Suvarnabhumi Airport, I will be able to go on Immigration Fast Track as I am travelling on Business Class. Airport Transfer will also be provided by U-Tiny. Upon arrival back home, JetQuay will be waiting for me.

Look forward to reviews here and have a good week ahead!

[Travel] JetQuay: Changi Airport CIP Terminal

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So Madonna Rebel Heart tour is over in Singapore. How did she arrive and leave Singapore?
Private Jet: Yes
Terminal 1/2/3: Neither. CIP Terminal

Wait a minute. VIP is familiar to most people but what is CIP? CIP stands for Commercially Important Person. Examples of CIPs include Madonna, Gordon Ramsay and Lady Gaga just to name a few. Whenever a private jet or CIP lands in Changi Airport, they will be received and handled by CIP Terminal: JetQuay.

JetQuay Logo

JetQuay Logo

As mentioned in my previous post, I have decided to try JetQuay for the first time when I touch down in Singapore from Hong Kong. So here was my experience as a CIP.

Buggy Ride

Buggy ride from gate to JetQuay. My check-In luggage was retrieved in parallel by their staff.

Arrival in style

Arrival in style.

Bar

Bar

Food

Food

Drinks

Drinks and light food.

Drinks

Drinks

Food

Food

Table and bench

Table and bench: Casual

Cosy

Cosy: Homely

Group

Can fit group comfortably.

Exotic

Exotic corner.

Relax

Relax

Family

Family friendly.

Corner

Corner

Chill while waiting for DFS purchase.

Chill while waiting for DFS purchase.

Business

Can do some business.

Computers

Computers

Spiral

In front of JetQuay’s signature spiral stairs.

So this place looks very exclusive right? It is actually more accessible than many people think. All you just need is Standard Chartered Manhattan World MasterCard Credit Card which only require annual income requirement of SG$30,000. Any freshman who start work can access this. You can just call JetQuay for booking. For details, check my previous post.

Manhattan

Standard Chartered Manhattan World MasterCard Credit Card

[Travel] On rails

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One mode of transport I like other than plane is rail. So far I have been on KLIA Ekspres in Malaysia, Airport Express/MTR in Hong Kong, Intercity train from Hong Kong to Guang Zhou, Metro in Guang Zhou, HSR/Metro in Taiwan, NEX/Subway in Tokyo, Heathrow Express/Tube in London, Virgin Trains from London to Manchester and Milan Metro. So far more of modern rails or high speed rail and enjoyed them.

So on this recent trip to Hong Kong, I decided to venture into China for 1st time. 2 cities were considered: Shen Zhen and Guang Zhou which are both accessible by train.

Shen Zhen

  • Accessible by MTR.
  • Electronics paradise.

Guang Zhou

  • Accessible by Intercity train. (2 hours approximately.)
  • Bigger city than Shen Zhen.
  • Ex colleagues are there.

So eventually decided on Guang Zhou. Here are some pictures and description on my rail journeys in Hong Kong and Guang Zhou.

Airport Express Ticket

Airport Express ticket. Return journey and 3 days of unlimited travel on MTR at HK$300. (HK$250 after HK$50 refund by returning ticket. HK$350 now for ticket after price adjustment. See this for more information.)

Platform

Airport Express platform directly accessible from Hong Kong International Airport concourse.

Luggage area

Airport Express luggage area.

Station Information

Airport Express station Information.

Power

Airport Express power socket. Good to see USB ports there.

Intercity Through Train

Intercity Through Train to Guang Zhou at Hung Hom station. (Where stadium is.)

First Class Ticket

Intercity Through Train First Class tickets. Well, there is only First Class on this ride. HK$219 each way inclusive of booking fee. See this for more information.

Gate

Intercity Through Train Departure Hall Entrance.

Duty Free

Intercity Through Train Duty Free.

Intercity Through Train

Intercity Through Train. Nice touch to have board to bridge gap between train and platform.

Intercity Through Train Cabin

Intercity Through Train Cabin.

Intercity Through Train footrest

Intercity Through Train footrest and tray table.

Intercity Through Train

Intercity Through Train magazines and tray table.

Intercity Through Train Tray Table

Intercity Through Train tray table set.

Intercity Through Train Power Socket

Intercity Through Train power socket.

Intercity Through Train Menu

Intercity Through Train Menu. Payment can be made by HK$ or RMB. Slightly cheaper in RMB.

Intercity Through Train Fried Ham Sandwich

Intercity Through Train Fried Ham Sandwich with Coffee.

Intercity Through Train Fried Ham Sandwich

Intercity Through Train Fried Ham Sandwich. Egg just the way I like.

Shen Zhen

Shen Zhen

On Intercity Through Train

On Intercity Through Train.

Guang Zhou East Station

Guang Zhou East Station. Interchange for different type of trains including Guang Zhou Metro.

Guang Zhou East Station Concourse

Guang Zhou East Station Concourse.

Guang Zhou Metro Ticketing Machine

Guang Zhou Metro Ticketing Machine.

Guang Zhou Metro Single Trip IC Chip

Guang Zhou Metro Single Trip IC Chip.

Guang Zhou Metro Signs

Guang Zhou Metro Signs.

Mongkok MTR

Mong Kok MTR.

Hong Kong MTR

Hong Kong MTR.