Sunday, January 29, 2017

Chinese Lunar New Year 2017 Year of Rooster Cool Videos

2017 marks the Year of the Rooster, according to the Chinese Zodiac.  What struck me was the many varied Rooster animations and videos sent around on the social media.  I think the Rooster and all the crowing lends itself very well to these fantastic animations.  Here is a collection of some.

We start with a short video.  As usual, the Rooster crows at the start, and a bunch of them starts to do some type of catchy dance.  Watch out for the Rooster in cool dark sunglasses swaggering along.  Very funny.

Now, this video talks about the virtues of how to succeed in 2017. Virtues include patience, hard work, alertness... the usual stuff but the animation makes it fun to watch.

Oh McDonald Had A Rooster!
Oh McDonald had a farm Rooster song is downright hilarious. I had a good laugh watching this, and frankly, I watched this many times. A mixture of East and West often hits the right spot with me. sd

Many Well Wishes New Year Video
A more traditional type of Chinese New Year video, saying all the nice things, well wishes and the like. It gets boring after a while though.

Hip Rooster Band Video
Now, this Rooster Band is way more hip. Roosters are natural pop stars, as this video shows you why. The animation is very cool, I like it.

The compilation of foreign leaders sending Chinese New Year greetings is nice.  Leaders featured included Donald Trump, Theresa May & Rodrigo Duterte.

Robots Taking Over the World!
Not so much a song, but some robot calligraphy. Felt a bit ominous watching this. Robots taking over the world soon?

Malaysian Airlines Awesome Lunar New Year 2017 Video
Finally, the best of the best Lunar New Year video for 2017? Ironically, nothing to do with Roosters. Rather, it was this amazing, mind-blowing video from Malaysian Airlines showcasing the Malaysian people - it was truly a picture of racial harmony! Non Chinese, speaking Mandarin and other Chinese dialects fluently! Hats off!

So, which was your favourite?  Or do you have a favourite that I am not aware of?  Please let me know. Blessed Lunar New Year to everybody.  Have you received it yet?

Lunar New Year 2017 Blessings!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

China Won't Return Terrex Vehicles to Singapore Unless....

Watch this video by a very articulate Chinese person, likely speaking on behalf or speaking on proxy for the Chinese Government. What is he saying?

Well folks, let's face it. We are in a David vs Goliath situation. As the old saying goes, Big Countries do what they want, and and small countries suffer what they must. Big China has decided to teach Small Singapore a lesson by seizing the Terrex vehicles that were transiting through Hong Kong's port. After more than a month, there is no end to this saga.

 This Chinese official (obviously told to go on media), has explained it very clearly. Singapore has not given China the assurances on two very important conditions.

First, Singapore did not inform the Hong Kong authorities that such sensitive cargo was transitting through the port. Why was this?

Second, and the real reason, Singapore did not adhere to the 'One China' policy because Singapore continues to train in Taiwan. The official said that Singapore's reason that the relationship with Taiwan goes back to the 1970s does not take into account that the modern reality is different. China is not the China of 30 years ago. Back then, Singapore started training in Taiwan (with the silent backing of the USA), China could do nothing about it even though China was not happy.

Today, China has decided to do something about it. Until these two conditions are met, the Chinese official categorically stated that Singapore will NOT get back her Terrex vehicles.

Not Going To Give You Back, Big China tells Small Singapore
Poor Singapore. Kena bullied. How can an island of 5 million stand up against an emerging superpower of 1.3 billion? In Singaporean lingo, China is telling Singapore to 'wake up our idea'.

What should we do? That, ladies & gentleman, is the million dollar question.  Now, bear in mind, the whole world is watching this closely, watching what Singapore would do, watching whether Singapore would cave in to China, watching whether the people of Singapore would scold their Government and tell the Singapore Government to give in.

If we give in, I'd say we are doomed.  Yes, we will get back our 9 Terrexes (apparently worth $30 million or so), but what will we lose?  We will lose our credibility as a sovereign country in the eyes of the rest of the world.  We will lose our reputation as an independent country, upholding international law, respecting rule of law.  So, give in, and don't blame our foreign friends for thinking that we are now part of China.

What We Should Do
Much as I don't like Donald Trump, I would like to quote his tweet as a possible Singapore response, in the event China simply refuses to return the Terrex.  Here was his tweet,

To paraphrase Trump,

"We should tell China that we don't want the Terrexes they stole back - let them keep it!"

Tell the whole world that China is the thief, the big bully, the country that unilaterally disregards international law.  They stole our good and let them keep it, so that the whole world can see for themselves who the thieves are.

As for the 9 Terrexes, we'll just build another 9 lah.  After all, aren't they locally made?  Create jobs for ourselves ain't a too bad an idea is it?

Majulah Singapura!

Monday, January 2, 2017

UK England and Scotland Driving Holiday Day 1 and Day 2 Stonehenge, Bath, Stratford upon Avon December 2016

Greetings to all!  Over the next few pages, I shall document our recent UK Driving Holiday in December 2016 for easy reference.  Bear in mind this was a holiday in winter.  Why winter?  Well, we had to plan our holidays around the school holidays, and since we had been to UK before, we decided to do a driving holiday for the fun of it, even though we knew that it would be colder and the day light would be shorter.  Still, what's life without an adventure of sorts?  So off we went.

Day 1 - Arrival, Picking up Car, Going to Stonehenge & Bath, Overnight Premier Inn Trowbridge
After a wonderful flight on Vietnam Airlines (we were in the Business Cabin), we arrived at London Heathrow Terminal 4 in the morning, just after 7am.  It was fairly chilly, around 6 deg C. Getting through security and immigration was very quick (thanks to Fast Track) and before we knew it, we were in the arrivals hall trying to figure out how to get to SIXT car rental.

Then, I spotted this wall, which looked promising.  After all, it said "Car Rentals".  So we headed to the temporary looking display for a closer look.

And this is what I saw.  Under SIXT Rent a car, it put Bus stop 2.  Great, let's go to Bus stop 2 for the pickup.  But wait a second, I decided to read the fine print.  This is what is said - "Please call 0203 462 6791 to request a shuttle service, then make your way to bus stop 2 to be collected."  I read it a few times.  Duh!  You had to call them?  Ok, let's try using the phone, but look carefully, the phone was broken!  Oh goodness gracious.  Imagine if you did not know how to read English, you would have just gone to Bus Stop 2 and waited like a fool.  Even if you could read English, how to call?  Thank God, we had UK mobile numbers (Lesson learnt, always good to get a local mobile number when travelling, because you never know when you need to call somebody) and I called the number and true enough, the person on the other side said that they would despatch a shuttle bus to pick us up.  (No call, no bus LOL!)

Well, the Lord is good.  So we made the call, found our way to the Bus Stop 2, and waited.  At Bus Stop 2, I noticed three other shuttles waiting for passengers, including Hertz.  Later, I figured out that you didn't need to call if you booked from say Hertz, because they have constant shuttles to the various London Heathrow Terminals to pick up and drop-off passengers.  SIXT is a much smaller set-up compared to the big-boys, hence they will only pick you up if you call them.  Makes sense, however, SIXT should at least ensure that the phone in Terminal 4 is working! 

Well, the good thing from hiring from a less busy company was that we had the entire shuttle bus to ourselves.  It came to pick us (we waited only around 5 minutes from the time we arrived at the Bus Stop 2) and the ride to SIXT took around 10 minutes.  This was the sight that greeted us.  It was fairly bus and I had to wait about 10 minutes before I was served.

Service was efficient, though I expressed disappointment when I couldn't get the car I had hoped to get, which was the Mercedes E class Estate.  From the SIXT website, the choice of car in the category I booked looked like this.  It was the Premium Class Estates PWAR category, and advertised as Mercedes Benz E-class Estate or similar.  The key is the word 'similar'. Unfortunately, they did not have this model so I had accept the Audi A6 Estate instead.  No matter, it was a very new and nice car, Adblue issues aside!

Why choose an Estate Car?  Well, we needed more boot space, and since this is a rental, I decided to get a Premium model since I don't think I'll ever own an Audi or Mercedes in Singapore (just too expensive to afford).  Another practical reason - only premium models came with onboard GPS, or they call it Sat Nav.  Car models without Sat Nav means that you have to hire Sat Nav separately and that costs at least 10 pounds per day.  (Or you could buy or bring your own, but that is just too troublesome for me).  The rate I got was similar to the one you see in the screenshot before, approx 70 pounds per day for the day.

When you get the keys to the rental car, there is a huge temptation to load up, and drive off.  I would caution against that.  Better to check the car carefully for damage otherwise you may have to pay for the damage!  So I walked one round the car and took this video and some photos.  Something like this.

Alright.  After inspecting, and loading up, it was time to go!  In the UK, the most reliable way to get to your destination is using the SatNav, but even SatNav will only bring you to the immediate vicinity.  Useful to have your itinerary printed out in front of you too, in case you need to make quick reference.  Also useful to use maps like Google Maps to visualize the route.  Our first stop for the day would be the Stonehenge Visitor Center, almost 75 miles or 120km away.  Time to drive.

Traffic was fairly light and we got to Stonehenge quickly.  All the way here to see some stones?  Yes, that's about it.  Stonehenge is about stones from the pre-historic era.  The weather was a tad chilly, but good enough to spend an hour outdoors.  All to see some stones.  You can read up about why the Stonehenge is so famous online.

And here is a video of our Stonehenge experience.   Looking at stones from pre-historic times, even before Roman times.  The stones were left by a culture and people that left no written word. This place gets super crowded during the busy times in Summer, because it is one of England's most famous tourist site.  This place can't cope with the crowds and you are encouraged to pre-book your arrival times otherwise you may not be able to enter the exhibit. We didn't have any of such problems in winter.  The loads were very light.  While in line, we were approached by a staff selling the English Heritage Visitor Pass, which we bought. Turned out to be useful because it could be used at many English Heritage sites.    Oh, one more things, due to large crowds, visitors can no longer go right up to touch the stones.  The video will show you the closest you can get to the stones, which is still quite far off.  Still, this was a bucket-list sight for us, and we're glad to have done it.

There was a cafe at the Visitor centre, but we decided not to eat anything, because time was tight and we wanted to visit Bath before going to our hotel at Trowbridge.  Why so complicated?  Well, when we were looking at hotels to stay in Bath, they turned out to either be fully booked or very expensive.  There was something happening at Bath over the weekend, so we booked the Premier Inn at Trowbridge instead.  The following map extract shows you the two places. The distance from Stonehenge to Bath wasn't too far, however, it would be on smaller A-roads, so it would take a while.

Took a little over an hour to reach Bath from Stonehenge.  The problem we faced was parking.  I circled around the city a bit but couldn't find any place to park (entered a car park but it was full), and finally had to park at a Cricket Club which was about a 10 minute walk to the City Center.  Take note that parking in UK cities would cost some pounds, and enforcement is quite prompt.  Usually, it is a pay and display type of system.  You got to find a machine to pay money, get the ticket and display on your windshield, like this.  In this case, I paid 4.50 pounds for 3 hours of parking.

Our first stop in Bath was to find a place to eat.  Googled and found some chinese restaurant where we had some Chinese food.  The food was only so-so (and at UK prices), but we still need to eat.

What we noticed was that this restaurant was very crowded, and Sichuan food was very popular!

Turns out that Bath City centre was quite crowded.  Heard that there was a Rugby match going on and many people were out and about.  There were also Christmas markets.  With our tummies full, we decided to talk a walk around the city center, but we did not visit any of the paid sites.  Just felt a tad too crowded for our liking, and after some walking we headed back to the car for the drive to Trowbridge.  Here is a video of the people in Bath.  Oh, this was a Saturday, so that helped explained the crowds too.

The drive to Premier Inn Trowbridge too about 30 minutes.  By this time, it was getting dark and jet lag was setting in.  We had arrived in London that morning! It was also getting cold. Fortunately, we found the hotel, as well as car-parking (take note, carparks are not always available) and checked in Kids didn't want to go anywhere and since we were quite full, we just bought some takeaway pizza from a nearby restaurant and that settled dinner.  The UK was hitting a cold front.  Usually, it isn't this cold during this time of the year. We were all tired, so went to bed quite early. Weather was getting cold and tomorrow would be Day 2.  Fortunately, the weather looked like it would warm up after a few days, but tomorrow (Sunday) looked chilly.

Day 2 - Breakfast and onwards to Stratford upon Avon
Day 2 morning.  We slept well and didn't wake up too early, I think around 6AM.  Soon, it was time for breakfast.  We like the Premier Inn chain for its breakfast because Kids eat free! And they define kids up to 16 years of age.  So we buy 2 adult breakfast, and up to 4 kids can eat free.  We only have 2 kids, but that's good enough!  How much per adult?  Here is our receipt.  It was 8.99 UK Pounds per adult.  Notice the VAT in UK - 20%.

Breakfast - we were the only customers in the restaurant!  This was the low season after all.The self-service Costa coffee machine was always very welcomed, especially in winter.  Have as much as you like, when you have the breakfast.

Here was my feast. Way too much for breakfast, but hey, I was on holiday.  Just eat and be merry, since it was cold, and we would be out for the rest of the day.

Here is a video of the Premier Inn Trowbridge Room and breakfast experience.  The room cost 66 UK pounds for that one night. You can see that it was a large Family room, with sufficient bedding for the four of us.

After a good breakfast and plenty of hot coffee (I usually have 2 cups and my family members too!), it was time to get going.  But before that, we had to deal with a somewhat frozen car.  Check it out!

Yes, it was below zero overnight, so there was some frost on the car.  Nothing too serious, though coming from tropical Singapore, this was an interesting experience for us who were so used to 30 deg C heat and humidity! Anyway, after warming up the car, it was time to head off.  Today, the plan was to go to Stratford upon Avon.  This was the route:

The absolute distance of about 75 miles didn't sound too far, but because we were travelling largely on smaller A-roads, I couldn't drive that fast so the journey did take some time.  Along the way, we must have stopped at some supermarket to buy water and snacks, since I found these videos in my collection:

We arrived in Stratford upon Avon in good time.  Fortunately, the sun was shining and it was longer as chilly as the morning.  Parked the car at a public carpark and it was time to explore Stratford upon Avon.  Here was a map.

The town wasn't big at all.  Very easy to walk around on foot, using these maps, and my phone GPS. By this time, we were feeling hungry. We found a decent look pub, and it turned out to be part of the Wetherspoon chain.  So we decided to have some pub food.  We have dined at the Wetherspoon chain of pubs before, so we more or less knew what to expect.  The video shows you what we had for lunch.  The portions were quite large and the four of us could easily share three portions.  Here is a video of the food, plus the pub menu.  This place was crowded!

After lunch, it was time to visit the various Shakespeare historic sights.  The most interesting was the Shakespeare's birthplace.  I had read on TripAdvisor that there wasn't really very much to see, and I was given the impression that this place would be a tourist trap.  The verdict? Well, if you want to be cynical about it, yes it was kinda a tourist trap.  However, I did find the 16th Century house that Shakespeare was born in to be very interesting.  And also found out that Shakespeare's Father was a craftsman (he made gloves) and even rose to become the Mayor of Stratford upon Avon.  During Shakespeare's time, this town had a population of around 6,000 (I think).  So, yes, I could be cynical about it but Shakespeare is arguably the most famous writer of our time (had to read so many of his works while in school) and it was in our bucket list to visit his birthplace. So we did it!  If you are not a fan of Shakespeare and you don't like 16th Century houses, give this place a miss.  Here is a video of our experience in Shakespeare's Birthplace.

On top of the birthplace, there were a few other sights included in the ticket price, but it didn't leave much of an impression with me.  So, this concludes Day 2 as we would then head to a Premier Inn at Stratford upon Avon Waterways, to spend the night.

(To be continued)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Flight Reports Overview 2016 - Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2017!

2016 would be remembered for Brexit, Trump's stunning victory, Carrie Fisher's passing, just to mention a few.  For myself, I thank God that 2016 has been another fruitful year, one that has passed by very quickly during to a hectic schedule. In 2016, new experiences were Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, Turkish Airlines (Economy) and Vietnam Airlines (Economy and Business).  Repeats included AirAsia, British Airways and Singapore Airlines.  All these trips have allowed me to continue my hobby of publishing Flight Review videos on YouTube - Guitar Singapore Travels - now exceeds 4.6 Million views (as at end Dec 2016).  Thank you viewers, for all your support!  And most grateful to God for the opportunity to travel and for the many new experiences!  

On this summary blog post, I post a summary of the various flights that I have enjoyed in 2016 as well as the memorable moment or learning point for each flight mentioned. The year started with an AirAsia flight from Singapore to Langkawi, Malaysia . Memorable moment, cabin crew were still serving the pre-ordered food even as the plane descended into landing.  I had food as the plane landed!  (Technically a safety breach)

The return flight from Langkawi to Singapore was on SilkAir, fully owned subsidiary of SIA.  I've not flown SilkAir in many years and couldn't remember what it was like.  Memorable moment - no In-Flight Entertainment system but I could use my own phone to watch some movies.

Next, was a long-haul trip to Washington DC, flying Singapore Airlines Business Class to London, before transferring to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class to DC.  This would be a long flight, across many time zones! This first video is Part 1 of the SQ 306 Singapore to London flight.  Memorable moment - caught up on many movies, including Star Wars Episode 7.

I had read so much about the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow, and so it was a real privilege to be able to use the Heathrow Terminal 3 Club House for a few hours before my connecting flight on Virgin Atlantic to Washington DC.  Memorable moment - the lounge serves a mean breakfast! This is arguably the best Business Class lounge in London Heathrow. 

Flying from London Heathrow to Washington DC was on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, my first time on this premium product.  Memorable in many ways, including this wonderful afternoon tea service which I had on board prior to landing.  Service was very good too!  I enjoyed my flight, but certainly didn't enjoy the almost 2 hour wait time at Dulles International to clear immigration.  (No Fast Track either!)

The return trip from Washington DC to Singapore was the reverse order of flight - Virgin Atlantic from Washington to London Heathrow, followed by Singapore Airlines from Heathrow to Singapore. But before that, I spent a few hours at the Virgin Atlantic Dulles Clubhouse, and this experience was awesome!  Food was great and so were the craft beers (Flying Dog Seasonal Hop).

From London Heathrow, I took the Singapore Airlines SQ 305 flight back to Singapore. It was on a retrofitted Boeing 777-300ER and I managed to snag seat 11K which was super private and comfortable, right at the front of the Business class section and just behind the First Class cabin (which had only four seats).  Awesome!

In the middle of the year, we tried something new - Turkish Airlines!  We had to make our way to Copenhagen, Denmark, for a cruise to the Baltic Seas.  We chose Turkish due to the good price and the fact that we could return from London Heathrow.  This was the almost brand-new Turkish Airlines plane we sat for the Singapore to Istanbul Leg, on flight TK55 out of Singapore.  Interesting experience with interesting food.  Memorable moment - Turkish Airlines have flying chefs and they serve passengers in Economy class too.

The second leg of the flight from Istanbul to Copenhagen proved to be interesting because one of our seats was missing a seat cushion!  Definitely a first for us.

After our cruise, we made our way from Copenhagen to London, by plane.  The flight was with British Airways BA815 (Airbus A320), and it was a glorious sunny day in Copenhagen.  Even though it was a relatively short flight, we still got something to eat, and I even managed to get whiskey to go with my coffee. Hilarious me. (We bought a one-way ticket from Copenhagen to London)

Flying back to Singapore from London Gatwick, was our return leg on Turkish Airlines.  This was our first time flying out of Gatwick (in many years) and I didn't like the experience much.  The airport was really far away. Anyway, Gatwick aside, the flight back to Singapore via Istanbul was fine.  The first leg on TK 1998 from London Gatwick to Istanbul on an Airbus A321-200.  This regional jet had personal In-Flight Entertainment system installed.

From Istanbul to Singapore, we flew on TK54, which was also an Airbus A330 (similar to the one we flew Singapore to Istanbul). The Economy seating was in a 2-4-2, which was more comfortable.   I must say that after flying a few times on Turkish Airlines, the food (in Economy class) started to taste the same.  Not that it was bad, but the taste was very similar across flights. (Yes, I got bored)

On a whim, we decided to take a short family holiday in Hanoi, flying Vietnam Airlines!  Fun and exciting.  It would be our first time on Vietnam Airlines, and we had no idea what to expect.  It turned out to be very good, given the price.  Food was good and service was also very good, given that this was a 3 hour regional flight.  The aircraft used was an Airbus A321, Flight VN 660.

The return flight from Hanoi to Singapore was also good.  On this flight, we had an interesting dessert, which I don't know the name in Vietnamese.  We have similar desserts in Singapore, but the concoction provided on the aircraft was nice.  Also tried Halida beer!

Towards the end of the year, it was a real privilege to fly again in premium cabins.  This was on the new Singapore Airlines Capital Express, connecting Singapore with Canberra (capital of Australia) and Wellington (capital of New Zealand).  This flight route started in mid Sep 2016. The video below was Part 2 of the Singapore to Canberra leg, which they call a sleeper service.  I booked the cook (choosing a beef dish called Soya Beef), which ended up being my breakfast before landing!

On the flight back to Singapore from Wellington, I spent some time at the Air New Zealand Business Lounge in Wellington before boarding the plane.  It was a decent lounge.  Star Alliance Gold members could also gain access to this lounge.

The first leg coming home was Wellington to Canberra.  SQ 292 would depart Wellington for Canberra at around 2100hrs local time. This was a relatively short 3 hour leg. A full meal (dinner) was served on board and I thoroughly enjoyed the food and service.  After the dinner, I managed to grab a 1 hour nap before the aircraft arrived in Canberra.

The next leg was Canberra to Singapore.  This was a sleeper service, as the aircraft departed Canberra in the early hours of the morning.  Given that I had a full meal on the previous leg, I wasn't hungry, therefore I chose to go to sleep shortly after take-off, and have a full meal just before landing.  Food was good, service was great.  Well done, Singapore Airlines.

And finally, the last trip of the year (with the family), was again on Vietnam Airlines, this time to London Heathrow!  Now, doesn't that sound exotic.  Yes, we fly Vietnam Airlines to London, from Singapore.  The first leg up was Singapore to Ho Chi Minh.  But before the flight, we checked out the SATS Premier Lounge at Changi Terminal 3, which came with Osim Foot Massagers and chair massagers.

The first leg was Singapore to Ho Chi Minh, on a regional Airbus A321.  Of course, being in Business class, we sat in front.  I found it interesting that the Business Class cabin only had 2 rows of seats, in a 2-2 configuration, with 8 seats in total. Service was good, meal was good!

We had a rather long layover at Ho Chi Minh before the next flight.  No worries, we camped at the Lotus Lounge, which was nicely decorated with decent food, especially Vietnamese Pho.  Wifi connection was very strong, so the time passed quickly.  Here is the video of Lotus Lounge.

Finally, it was time for the Ho Chi Minh to London Heathrow leg.  This was the exciting part of the trip because we would be flying on a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner which uses the latest Business class product for Vietnam Airlines!  Yes, it was the reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration.  The seat could easily turn into a flat bed, which was very good for a long flight of 13 hours. Flight VN 51 would bring us to London Heathrow, and it was a very good experience indeed.

In part 2 of the Ho Chi Minh to London leg, I called it Bed and Breakfast because I took a closer look at the bed.  At first, I could not deploy the bed fully into a lie-flat position and I wondered if my bed was not working properly. Turns out that it was my own fault. My backpack and shoes were blocking the way!  Silly me.  I also show you the wonderful Vietnamese Pho we had for breakfast.  It was an awesome experience and I drank up all the soup.  My first time experience Vietnamese Pho on board an aircraft - only on Vietnam Airlines, of course.

After our holiday in the UK, it was time to fly back to Singapore.  Vietnam Airlines operates from Heathrow Terminal 4.  Before the flight, we spent some time at the SkyTeam lounge, which frankly was a tad disappointing.  Food at breakfast wasn't great, the coffee machines weren't working properly and the empty cups were not re-filled.  The lounge looked pretty though, with the green walls.

This time round, we would fly to Hanoi first, before heading back to Singapore.  Yes, it was the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, though this time the plane was a bit older (more than 1 year), but hey, we were flying in Business Class so can't complain!  Looking back, it is a great privilege and humbling to be able to do this as a family.  This was a day flight (departing LHR at 1100hrs), so we didn't sleep very much on board.  Spent the time watching movies and day-dreaming.

We arrived in Hanoi on schedule (5 AM local time) and had plenty of time to kill because our next flight home wasn't till 1050hrs local time.  Thankfully, the Lotus Lounge in Hanoi was a nice place to chill for many hours, and I captured our experience in the video below. When we arrived shortly after 5, the lounge doors were opened but everything was still dark.  The staff had just arrived and were setting up.  Fortunately, they let us go in and rest.  Later on, all of us took a shower.  What was memorable in the lounge was instant noodles and instant Vietnamese pho.  You had to prepare the noodles yourself, using hot water from an electric flask, and then using the micro-wave to further heat the noodles up.  First time I see this in a Business Lounge - Fascinating.

Our final flight for the year, Vietnam Airlines Hanoi to Singapore.  This flight was completely full! Flight to Singapore was about 3 hours.  Meal service was efficient and thereafter, I managed to get a nap, before arrival in Singapore.

That's it! This wraps up my flight travels for the year 2016.  Looking back, it was a wonderful year of flying, with many new experiences and learning points.  Grateful for the opportunity and thank God for journey mercies, and the ability to see and experience so many new things.  I do not know what 2017 will bring, but I trust the Lord to open and close doors as He sees fit.  Wishing one and all peace, and a very fruitful and healthy 2017 ahead.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2017.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Vietnam Airlines Business Class Singapore to London Heathrow Dreamliner Flight Part 2

Blessed Christmas one and all.  This post continues from my previous post (Part 1), where I showed you our flight from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh.  Recap, we flew on an Airbus A321, from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh, and had a restful time at the Lotus Lounge in Ho Chi Minh.  Now it was time to board the Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner bound for London Heathrow!

Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
In the following two videos, I show you the complete experience of flying with Vietnam Airlines in her premium cabins on an almost brand new Boeing 787-9 aircraft.  We flew from Gate 20, which was a very short walk from the Lotus Lounge.  The Business class on this Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner was the industry leading reverse herringbone configuration, with a 1-2-1 configuration, where every passenger had direct aisle access.  As expected, the seat felt very private. In the first video, I show you the boarding (we boarded early, at the first call for Business class passengers), and quickly settled into our seats.  Even though it was late, and we were tired, there was still a palpable sense of excitement!  A welcome drink was served (I took a champagne) and newspapers were handed out. I show you the amenity kit, which came in a very nice bag.  After take-off, the crew came around to take orders for supper.  I show you the supper, which was pretty good! This was a red-eye flight so the service was faster than a non red-eye flight.  Useful because passengers would want to eat and then go to sleep.

Part 2 - Bed and Breakfast

I show you in some detail the lie-flat bed.  In fact, I had experienced some problems with it because I could not deploy the bed fuller.  I soon realised that it was my own fault, I put my backpack and shoes in front of me and the bed could not fully deploy!  I show you with some detail on how to avoid this situation.  I also show you the wonderful breakfast we had on board, it was the Vietnamese Pho! Awesome breakfast.  The soup tasted great.  I drank up every drop.  Check out Vietnam Airlines Business Class on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner!  Very cool.

Thanks very much for watching & hope you have a Blessed Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Singapore Airlines Business Class Wellington-Canberra-Singapore Capital Express

After a successful trip to Wellington, it was time to head home.  This is the return flight, on the Singapore Airlines Capital Express, connecting Singapore-Canberra-Wellington, the capital cities of Singapore, Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Intercontinental Hotel, New Zealand
In Wellington, I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, which was the biggest hotel in town, so I was told.  This video review shows you the deluxe room that I stayed in. You could watch TV from the shower, quite neat.

Wellington Airport Air New Zealand Business Lounge
The airport was not too far away from the hotel.  I took a cab, and the cost was about NZ$30.  Wellington Airport is not a big airport.  In face, the runway at Wellington Airport was rather short, under 2,000M!  Good thing the Boeing 777-200 aircraft used by SQ on this route could still land and take off safely.  Check-in at the airport was smooth and very soon, I was resting in the lounge, waiting for my flight.  Singapore Airlines uses the Air New Zealand Business Lounge, and here is a review of the lounge.

Singapore Airlines SQ 292 Wellington to Canberra
The first leg of this flight from Wellington to Canberra.  This was a 3 hour flight, and a very good dinner was served on board.  For this flight, I had an empty seat beside me, so that made the flight even more comfortable!

The plane landed in Canberra and we had to transit for about 1 hour and 15 min.  There was no lounge for premium passengers at the Canberra airport transit area, however, I found out that Business class passengers got an A$20 credit to buy food and drinks at the bar, which was located in the middle of the lounge.   As I was very full, I did not utilize this perk.

SQ 292 Canberra to Singapore
Soon it was time to board the flight for Singapore. This time round, the flight was around 8 hours.  By this time, I was more tired.  Similar to the earlier experience, passengers were given the option of going to sleep immediately after take-off, and take our meal only before landing.  I chose this option because I was already very full from the earlier Wellington-to-Canberra leg.  I had a good sleep, and was woken up about 1.5hours before landing.  Breakfast was pretty good.  I had the noodle option.

Landing was very smooth and I was home!

Thanks for watching.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Vietnam Airlines Business Class Singapore to London Heathrow Flight Reviews Part 1

We fly Vietnam Airlines (SkyTeam Alliance), Singapore to London Heathrow and return.  Excited!  This was the first time the entire family was flying together in a premium cabin, to anywhere.  So, let's get started.  From a cost point of view, this trip was made possible because Vietnam Airlines offers very competitive fares (by Business class standards) on the Singapore-London route.  So, we decided to give it a try.

SATS Premier Lounge
Our trip started with a visit to the lounge at Singapore Changi Terminal 3.  Vietnam Airlines (and a good number of other airlines) use this lounge, which is located right beside the Krisflyer Gold lounge.  The lounge wasn't too crowded when we were there.  It had a decent selection of hot food (including mee siam).  These Osim leg massagers as well as the Osim massage chairs kept my kids busy for a bit.

Vietnam Airlines Business Class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh
Airbus A321, Flight Time- 2 hours

Our first leg of the flight was to Ho Chi Minh.  The aircraft used was a relatively old Airbus A321. Curious that this version of the A321 had only 2 rows of Business class seats, in a 2-2 configuration, in front of the plane, making a total of only 8 Business class seats.  I was surprised because I had thought there were 4 rows.  The seats were wide and comfortable enough for a regional flight, however, they were old-school, and there was no individual inflight entertainment system.

Overall, service was very good for the short flight, even though the flight started out a little bumpy.   The usual hot towel and welcome drink (I got champagne) was served.  We had 3 choices for food, and the taste was not too bad.  More details in the video below.

Bus ride from plane to Terminal
Upon landing, there was no aerobridge, and passengers had to disembark via staircase and take a bus to the terminal.  Disembarkation is always tricky with stairs, because of cabin luggage.  Thankfully we made it.  Not sure how it is done if the passenger has difficulty climbing stairs!  For Business class passengers, there was a separate bus catered just for us.  So the 6 pax in Business took one small bus to the terminal, which meant we did not have to wait for the rest of the passengers and we arrived at the terminal very quickly.  Here is a video of the planes I saw on the way.  The bus had to stop because an Emirates Boeing 777 jet was pulling into an aerobridge.  If the bus didn't stop and we got in front of the jet, we may be sucked into (or blown away) the jet engines.

Lotus Lounge Ho Chi Minh Airport
The lounge was rather crowded when we got there.  Fortunately, the far end of the lounge was still empty and the four of us could find a very nice corner to park ourselves.  We would be here for quite some time (the layover was more than 6 hours!) because we arrived at around 7PM local time and the flight was not till close to 1AM the next morning.  If you were wondering why the flight connection time was so bad, well the answer was that we chose it to save money.  There was a later flight from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh that arrived at around 9pm.  However, taking the earlier flight saved us a few hundred dollars.  Since we had access to a lounge, why not.  Just chill, we were on holiday.

This review gives you a good overview of the lounge.  We enjoyed the hot Vietnamese Pho, even though we weren't very hungry as we had just had food on the plane.

In the next blog post, I will show you the Ho Chi Minh to London leg, this time on a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.  But before I go, here is a video of us walking to the Lotus Lounge, while in Ho Chi Minh terminal.

Thanks for reading!