Singapore & Jakarta Trip (UA, SQ, Asiana in C Class)
Ever since I moved to the US for college, I have always tried to go back home to Indonesia at least once a year. I think there was only one year where I didn't go home during Christmas. Lately I found it harder to find time to go home, partly due to other trips being planned and not enough vacation days. I finally had a break in my job where I could take a month off and decided to go home to visit my family for two weeks. Unfortunately, my husband couldn't come with me this time...
I thought about visiting Seoul on the way since I've never been, but in the end decided to go straight home, with a brief one night layover in Singapore. Since I've been to Singapore many, many times, the main purpose of this visit was just to visit a friend. I also planned to visit the new Marina Bay Sands, and eat some of my favorite local Singaporean food. For Indonesia, I didn't plan much but visiting family, friends, eat some local food, and get cheap massages.
For the first leg from San Francisco to Seoul, I was on United. This would be the first time trying their business class, and I was excited to try it. My husband dropped me off at the airport 2 hours before boarding. I spent just a quick 30 mins at the Star Alliance Business Class lounge which was the same one when we took Lufthansa to Munich last month. Boarding started on time and I had preselected an aisle seat on the 2nd floor. When I was about to go upstairs, I was notified by the flight attendant that the luggage compartment for the seats upstairs were broken so I had to store my luggage at one of the lower seats' compartment. He showed me an area where I could store my carry on luggage and then I proceeded upstairs.
United's Business Class Seat
There were only a small number of seats upstairs, and I actually really preferred the upstairs area as it was a lot more quiet. I also noticed that some of the seats were backward facing which was interesting. There was plenty of legroom, and the seats were in good condition.
The menu was distributed as well as drink and warm nuts. I quite like the warm nuts, and the wine was very mild which I liked too!
The salad with mozzarella cheese was surprisingly good. The cheese was so soft it reminded me of my favorite burrata cheese! The bread was also served warm with butter. However, the spring roll was a total disappointment. It probably had been seating in the freezer for a while since the wrapper was rock hard and did not taste like a spring roll at all.
Salad, bread, spring roll
Service on this flight was exceptional. I am used to mediocre service on US based carriers, but the stewardess on this flight was amazing. I think her name was Gloria. For the main entree, I had the beef dish which was so so. I only had a couple bites to eat since I wasn't that hungry.
Beef dish option
I was really looking forward to having the ice cream sundae until I realized it was not a sundae, but just a strawberry ice cream scoop in a chocolate shell. It was still pretty good nonetheless.
Ice cream in chocolate shell
Breakfast was served about 1.5 hours before landing. I had the fruit plate with yogurt and croissant. I loved how the croissant was served warm, and it was quite tasty!
Overall I enjoyed the United flight. I really liked the 2nd floor as it felt a lot more private and very quiet. The seats were pretty new and clean, and it did lay flat. The service was surprisingly good on this flight, and the one thing that they could improve was food quality.
The layover in Seoul was only 1.5 hours, so by the time I arrived in Seoul, it was already time to board the next flight. I originally wanted to check out the lounge in Seoul, but I really didn't have time.
It was really exciting to try Singapore Airlines business class for me personally. Growing up my family flew SQ a lot but always in economy, so I had always aspired to one day finally fly SQ in a premium class. I was quite thankful to finally have the chance to do so! The flight was actually quite full...all the seats were taken. I was greeted warmly at the door by the flight attendants.
I liked the leather color ad the overall aesthetic of the seat - it looked very upscale, although the seat pitch did feel a bit more cramped than the United seat that I was on - although it was perfectly fine for a not so long flight. Service was excellent which was expected of SQ. They offered a non alcoholic pre-departure drink which was really good.
I was too full to eat anything so only had their satay appetizer and skipped the main course to have dessert. They had a couple options, but I went with ice cream again. I then watched a couple episodes of Glee before taking a nap.
Ice cream was pretty good, although I realized I had 2 ice creams in a row! Should have opted for the chocolate cake instead.
I slept for the rest of the flight and got some pretty good rest. The seat did not lay fully flat but it was definitely good enough for me. It would be a bit hard though I would imagine for the person sitting next to me to try to go to the bathroom. So if you're traveling by yourself, it's probably better to get one of the middle seats which were both aisle seats.
Overall I enjoyed my flight on SQ - service was great as usual. I liked that they had a pretty good non-alcoholic drink selection, other than sodas. I also really liked the aesthetics of the cabin and seats, even though the seat pitch felt a bit tight. I could finally say that I checked off my childhood dream of sitting on a business class cabin on an SQ flight.
For my layover in Singapore, my friend was gracious enough to let me stay at her place. She asked me what I wanted to do for my 1 day layover, and I told her I want to visit the new Marina Bay Sands hotel and eat my favorite oyster egg dish!
We took the taxi to the Marina Bay Sands hotel which was connected to a huge mall. I originally wanted to go up to see the famous infinity swimming pool, but decided against it since there's a fee for just visiting.
Marina Bay Sands
The mall was quite nice and big, typical Asian mall. There's the water area similar to the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, although I didn't see anyone riding the gondola.
Inside the mall
We visited the inside of the hotel, and I was quite disappointed. It was mainly white and it didn't have that grand entrance feeling and didn't leave me with a lasting impression. I am surprised that they left the inside very barren and not luxurious at all. I also heard that the rooms were just very mediocre with a hefty price tag.
We walked around outside the hotel and saw great views of downtown Singapore.
For lunch we decided to just eat at the mall food court as oppose to going to my usual favorite: Lau Pa Sat, Takashimaya's food court, or the Newton hawker center. I ordered the oyster egg and was very disappointed. It was very dry and consisted mostly of the dough, and the dough wasn't even that gooey. But it at least alleviated some of my cravings.
My friend also introduced me to Din Tai Fung's taro pao. It's a very interesting concept since the inside was basically smashed taro.
Din Tai Fung's taro pao
We did stop by Takashimaya's food court on the way back, and I had a couple of my favorite snacks: Japanese pancake with cream cheese and srikaya and takoyaki!
I took the taxi from my friend's place to the Changi airport. I got there 2 hours prior to boarding time, so after checking in and security, I went to the business class lounge. The lounge was actually pretty big and looked new.
Business class lounge - Terminal 3
There was actually quite a good selection of food, but I was still too full so ended up not getting anything.
I used the shower to freshen up after quite a full day walking around Singapore, and it was a hot day!
Shower at T3 Airport
Once we boarded, the business class section had older seats, but with plenty of legroom. The seat configuration was 2-3-2, and I chose an aisle seat. The menu and the noise cancelling headphones were in the front seat back pocket. There was also pillow and blanket, which I ended up not using for the short flight.
I chose the chow mein noodle which was actually pretty good. I was too full though so only ate a bit. I had the white wine also which was good.
It was such a short flight and before I knew it, I landed in Jakarta.
There isn't really much to do in Jakarta besides going to the different malls. Every time I go home, there seems to always be a new mall to check out. Unless you have lived in Jakarta, you probably don't know how important of a role the mall plays in the lives of Indonesians in Jakarta.
At a typical mall, there's usually grocery stores, movie theater, clothing stores, restaurants, hair salons, book stores, furniture stores, and even doctor's offices. Basically you can find almost everything at a mall.
If you do go to Jakarta, here are a couple of must-dos:
Cheap massages: Massages cost around $10-$15 for an hour, which is so heavenly. I think I had a massage every other day.
Cream bath: This is basically a treatment for your hair, where they massage your hair and back, and then steam your hair. It costs around $15-$20.
Watch a movie at the luxurious theater, such as XXI or Blitz. The chairs are lazy boys and you can actually order food while you watch movie.
That's it. Other than that, enjoy all the different food. Here's what I ate while in Jakarta.
Chicken Katsu Toast
I have had chicken katsu before, but never inside toast. It actually was really good!
Sup Buntut Bakar at D'Core
Sup buntut means "oxtail soup". A couple of my friends opened up a new restaurant called D'Core in Jakarta so I went there for lunch and ordered the sup buntut bakar, which means "grilled oxtail soup". It was good and definitely satisfied my Indonesian food craving. One of my other favorite places for sup buntut is at the Intercontinental Borobudur hotel.
Sup buntut goreng
Red Velvet Cake at Union
My friend raved about this red velvet cake at Union cafe in Plaza Senayan. So we went to try it. It was pretty good. The cake was moist, and I loved the crushed candied pecan on the cake. The cream was very buttery, and less sweet compared to the typical red velvet icing in the US.
Red Velvet Cake
Egg Chicken Roll at Hoka Hoka Bento
Hoka Hoka Bento is a fast food Japanese restaurant that is usually available at every major mall in Jakarta. The meal typically includes coleslaw salad with this yummy creamy sauce, as well as pickled carrot. One of my favorite dishes is the egg chicken roll (deep fried!).
Egg Chicken Roll
Martabak is basically Indonesian's version of a pancake that is in a "sandwich" form. This is probably the food that I craved the most all the time. This food is actually a typical street snack, and you can only find it on the streets. Some street vendors do delivery and that's what we did. I think I had this delivered 4-5 times during my 2 week trip in Jakarta.
The pancake is chewy, thick, soft, and a bit spongy - and very buttery. They use a Dutch butter called Wisman which truly adds to the taste. My favorite is the cheese with sweet condensed milk, but the chocolate & peanut one is really good as well!
Martabak keju manis
Like Singapore, there are lots of food courts with pretty good food at the different malls. You can find a lot of variety from traditional Indonesian food, to Japanese and American food.
I ordered a Nasi Langgi which is a traditional Indonesian rice dish. It was served with chicken, hard boiled egg, gizzard, and vegetable curry.
For dessert, I had Es Podeng--a dessert that I have not had since I was probably in middle school. This is typically a dessert served on the streets, so I am glad to have found this at the food court. It's basically a coconut ice cream served with avocado, jellies, bread, and sticky black rice.
Japanese Spaghetti at Angus Steakhouse
Angus Steakhouse served one of the best Japanese-style spaghetti! The spaghetti was cooked al dente, served with mentaiko and cut nori. Yum!
Short Rib at Angus Steakhouse
Angus also serves really good steak. We ordered the short rib and it was cooked nicely and was definitely a good cut of beef. The beef was actually imported from the US.
Avocados in Indonesia are typically served sweet, almost like a dessert. I know this is a funny concept for most Americans since they associate avocado with "guacamole". In Indonesia, avocado juice is usually served cold and with chocolate, coffee, and/or ice cream.
Overall I had a very satisfying trip back home, especially food wise. There's always an abundance of great food at a very reasonable cost. My favorite though is still the martabak...yum!
It was already time for me to head back to the US. So my family dropped me off at the airport, and I checked in around 2 hours before departure. The lady at the check in counter commented how long my route was to get to SFO, since I was connecting through Singapore, Seoul, and LAX. Hehe..if only she knew I chose to take the longer routing because I wanted to try Asiana's business class.
The first leg was Jakarta to Singapore. Business class was actually full. Almost every single seat was taken. The actual seats were the exact same type as my Singapore to Jakarta flight, which was an older plane with the 2-3-2 configuration. The stewardess was very friendly and offered newspapers. When I said no, she offered if I wanted women's magazines and of course I said yes!
Business class cabin
Even though the flight was only 1.5 hours, Singapore airlines always offers full dinner service. I pre-booked the vegetarian Indian menu but wasn't sure if they got the order, so when the flight attendant walked around, I ordered the beef dish which she took. She then went back and asked whether I ordered the vegetarian menu and that they had it prepared, so in the end I ended up eating the vegetarian food. I am not a vegetarian but I do enjoy Indian food--that's why I ordered it.
Prebooked Indian food
The male attendant then walked around and offered bread and gave me 2 Indian roti that he said was prepared just for me since I was the only one who had an Indian meal.
The dessert was actually quite good and was served together with the main meal. There probably just wasn't enough time to serve dessert separately for such a quick flight. The dessert was a fruit pudding which I almost finished. Soon enough it was time for landing. I transferred to terminal 3 to catch the connecting flight to Seoul.
Singapore's Terminal 3
Terminal 3 looked pretty new and prior to this trip I have never visited this terminal. I didn't have much time so I just took a quick look around the lounge.
This next flight wasn't full--probably at 60 percent capacity. I noticed that there were no first class seats on this plane. The configuration was 2-2-2, and I was in one of the aisle seats.
Business class cabin
This was a red eye flight, but I actually really liked the timing since it was comfortable enough to actually sleep. The stewardess noted my pre-selected menu item, slipper lobster thermidor, and asked whether I wanted it for supper or breakfast. Since I was still super full from the Indian meal, I asked for it to be served for breakfast, although the thought of having a lobster breakfast sounded a bit too heavy!
Picture of the window seat
I watched the first 10 minutes of The Vow before falling asleep, not because of the movie but because I was genuinely tired. I was woken up by the stewardess 1.5 hours before landing for my lobster breakfast. It was actually quite good; I really enjoyed the creamy sauce! I also had a piece of croissant but declined the yogurt since I was way too full! I finished watching The Vow and actually cried during the last scene. I'm such a sucker for chick flicks! I was dreading my 8 hour layover in Korea but at least I could rest at the lounge.
I had an 8.5 hour layover in Seoul, which was quite painful but a little bit less with the lounge access. Asiana's business class lounge was pretty big and quite airy. I went straight to the shower area and found that I needed to first get the key from the receptionist, and I had to leave my boarding pass. There was a little bit of a wait but wasn't too bad. One thing that I found interesting was that all the workers on the floor wore jackets and skirts and looked like flight attendants, even those who were cleaning the tables and refilling the food!
Asiana's Business Class Lounge - Seoul
The bathroom was nice and clean and had everything I needed. It was nice to be able to freshen up and get ready for the next leg of the trip.
After showering, I went and grabbed one of the booths with a chair massage. The chair was actually pretty good, and I liked the privacy from the booth and called my husband from there since it allowed us to talk more freely.
Massage chair at the Asiana's lounge
I saw a lot of people eating Korean cup noodles, and I found myself wanting one too even though I was still really full. But I caved in and got one...hehe.
Korean cup noodles
I walked around the airport in search of dessert. I actually had something in mind already which was the Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream with chocolate almond crunch. I was so proud when I actually found it. Yay!
After what seemed like a really long time, it was FINALLY time to board. I went to the gate and people were already lining up. It was interesting to see but the ground staff bowed before they started the boarding process.
Asiana's business class seat
I chose to sit on the 2nd floor, which I liked because it's very quiet. There's also a space next to the seat for small items - which I liked.
The seats looked a bit worn, but there was plenty of space and legroom. The seat did not lay completely flat, but almost. It was definitely still enough for a good night's sleep.
All the flight attendants were very courteous, and they actually changed outfits a couple of times which was interesting. They also bowed at the beginning of the flight, and then they changed into a more casual look and wore aprons during the food service.
Menus were distributed, and there was an option for Western-style or Korean-style food. I was torn because I wanted the Western appetizer & dessert, but I wanted the Korean Ssambap. I asked the flight attendant if it's possible to do the mix & match, and she said she would have to check first. She later came back and said that would be ok.
I was impressed with how the food was served. Unlike the typical way of how food was served from a typical enclosed rolling cart, they actually served each course individually, and all the food was brought out on this see-through cart. I thought it was pretty cool. The first course was a bite sized fried eggplant which was served cold, but was pretty tasty.
Fried eggplant stuffed puree with tomato confit
The king prawn salad was also very small in size, but was definitely enough since I knew I'd be having a lot more food later on.
Grilled king prawn with couscous and baby leaves, asparagus
Mushroom soup is my favorite kind of soup and I really liked the soup that Asiana served. It was rich and creamy, just how I liked it!
Cream of mushroom soup
By this point I was already quite full, but I regained my appetite after seeing the main entree, the Korean Ssambap. WOW! This was definitely the most extensive airline meal I'd ever had, and probably one of the best. I felt like I was eating at a real Korean restaurant. There was kim chee, burdock root, ssamjang sauce, soup, fresh veggies, and then the meat with rice.
I really liked the main entree, and it definitely didn't feel like an airline food. Mmm... I then had a couple bites of the cheese.
Cheese course: munster, taleggio, comte
For dessert I had a choice of fruit or apple tart, and being unhealthy, I chose the apple tart...hehe.
I watched a couple movies and then went to sleep. I woke up in time for breakfast, and I was intrigued to try the banana loaf. I had never seen one served on an airplane; usually the breakfast choice is either croissant or muffin. The banana loaf was quite tasty, it was a bit darker and denser than usual but still very good, and served warm.
For the main breakfast entree, I tried the porridge which was a bit bland, but was good when eaten with the yellow pickle.
I landed in LA, and the immigration line was already quite long. I had to recheck my luggage to San Francisco, and waited for a couple hours at the airport. Interestingly enough, my "first class" domestic ticket did not allow me access to the United lounge. Strange, huh? So I just waited at the gate and grabbed some gossip magazines and snacks. It was my first time riding in domestic first class. But really, for such a short flight there was really nothing to write about. I was so tired I think I slept the whole way and didn't really think the flight was that memorable.