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Vietnam and a little more with OS, LH, VN in Business

Vietnam and a little more with OS, LH, VN in Business

Old Aug 20, 11, 3:19 pm
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Vietnam and a little more with OS, LH, VN in Business

This years summer vacaction took me to Vietnam - Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to be precise - and a few other places in the area. If you are interested here are a few words (and pictures of course) i would like to share with you.

As flying is only half the fun of a vacation i will (as you maybe already know from my previous reports) also include some pictures and information about the places i visited.

Sometimes if you are planning a trip - even a little complicated itinerary almost comes together by itself. This was one of those cases.
My final itinerary would be MUC-VIE-BKK-HAN-SGN-SIN-MUC
(every flight with a different airline - makes the trip report more diverse if you dont fly the same airline over and over...)
Hanoi and Saigon because thats the places i wanted to visit, Bangkok and Singapore as there are no non-stop flights from Munich and i had to change planes somewhere along the way. And Vienna because i took Austrian Airlines for my flight to Bangkok - more about that later.

For easier reading i will divide the report into the following chapters:

Part I: Introduction and Lufthansa Cityline Business Class MUC-VIE

Part II: Austrian Airlines (C) VIE-BKK

Part III: one night in Bangkok

Part IV: Qatar Airways (Y) BKK-HAN

Part V: a litte about Hanoi

Part VI: Vietnam Airlines (C) HAN-SGN

Part VII: Saigon and a trip to the CuChi tunnels

Part VIII: Jetstar (Y) SGN-SIN

Part IX: whats new in Singapore?

Part X: Lufthansa (C) SIN-MUC



At first i was actually booked on a Austrian Airlines flight from Munich to Vienna - with only 30 minutes connection time in Vienna. (Which is ok - the MCT in Vienna is 25 Minutes) But as i could leave work a little earlier than planned i changed to an earlier flight. (i was flying on a non-flexible ticket - but the girl at check in was really concerned i would miss my flight with only 30 minutes to connect so she rebooked me to an earlier flight without problems.)
Thats how i ended up on a Lufthansa Cityline CRJ 900.

As i still had some time bevore my flight i went to the Lufthansa Business Lounge to have something to eat. Aside from some cold dishes and a soup Lufthansa also offers „Leberkäse“



Soon enough it was time to board my flight. Business Class on the CRJ 900 (as on all other Lufthansa short haul planes) uses the same seats as Economy - but the seat beside you stays empty to give you more space.



At Munich you dont see too much exotic planes - but right now we have one plane here that even made it into most of the newspapers: The 737 of the Thai Prince, which we passed while taxing to the runway



I usually dont take much pictures from the plane - but when you are flying over your hometown - and you even can see your house you have no choice i guess.



As this is only a short flight there is of course not much food on offer - nontheless you get a little snack - an apple pie in my case



Accompanied by all the usual drinks - served in real glasses - no plastic glasses in Business Class.

Soon enough we landed in Vienna...
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:20 pm
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Austrian Airlines Business Class VIE-BKK

...where i went straight to the Austrian Airlines Business Lounge



Aside from a soup (which was very good) there was a selection of cold dishes available



and a nice selection of wine



Catering in the lounge is provided by DoCo - the same company responsible for on-board catering

So why did i choose Austrian Airlines for my flight to Bangkok when there are so many other choices like a Thai Airways non-stop? The main reason was that from all the possible choices Austrian Airlines is the first one to arrive in Bangkok in the morning - giving me more time in the city. And of course as there are not many reports about Austrian here on Flyertalk one has to start...

Austrian uses a 777-200 on the route to Bangkok - the Business Class on that bird is in 2-3-2 layout



The seats are comfortable for sitting. But it doesn‘t go completely flat. Normaly thats not a big issue for me - i can sleep well in Lufthansas C-Class for example, but somehow the Austrian Seat was not as comfortable for sleeping.

Do you also have a few things, that will always remind you of family vacation when you were a small kid? When i was little we often went to Austria - and the one "exotic" drink you could get there (and never at home) was Almdudler. So when i discovered that on the menu i of course ordered one.



Dinner Service startet soon after takeoff. When looking at threads regarding the quality of Austrian Airlines there is one thing almost everybody does agree on - the food is supposed to be very good - so i really had high hopes for the meal.

For those that wanted to catch as much sleep as possible there was a Quick Menu available, consisting of:

deep fried chicken breast
with potato field salad, apple vinegar dressing and bacon

veal escalope
with buttered rice, carrots and snap peas

assorted cheese

mascarpone tart
with light espresso cream and rasperry coulis

I myself went with the regular menu:

At first i was offered a kind of Watermelon Juice



There were two choices of appetizer available:

herbed roastbeef
with honey orange braised baby carrost and yogurt basilpesto



deep fried chicken breast
with potato field salad, apple vinegar dressing and bacon

also a soup was available, a so called „Frittatensuppe“ (i always like the words that differ in german and austrian)
in english its called a beef consomee with stripes of pancakes



Followed by three choices of Main Courses

Veal Escalope
with buttered rice, carrots and snap peas

wild mushroom goulash
with bread dumplings and bacon



fillet of salmon trout
with orange risotto, zuchini, red peppers, pesto and parmesan crackers

Dessert were no pre-prepared plates but rather a kind of buffet, where all the available choices where on the trolley and the FA let you choose whatever you liked.

traditional deep fried apricots (called Wiener Wäschermädels)

mascarpone tart

milk chocolate parfait

assorted cheese and exotic fruits




Of course also hot beverages where offered with dessert - but not simply coffee or tee like with most airlines - Austrian Airlines has a separate Coffee Menu where you could choose from a wide range of different coffee specialities. As i wanted to catch a little sleep i skipped the coffee. Sadly i lost the coffee menu - but at least i took the wine menu with me. The choices were:

Champagne

Duval-Leroy Fleur de Chanpagne Brut
Champagne Duval-Leroy, Vertus, France

Prosecco

Le Borgate Proscco, Veneto
Imbottigliato da Vinicola

White Wine

Grüner Veltliner Steinsetz Kamptal DAC Reserve, 2010
Schloss Gobelsburg
Riesling Novemberlese Kamptal REserve DAC, 2010
Weingut Steininger
Traminer, 2009
Weingut Münzrieder

Red Wine

Blaufränkisch Johanneshöhe, 2008
Weingut Prieler
Hillside unfiltered, 2008
Weingut Leo Hillinger
Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009
Cono Sur

Dessert Wine

Kracher Cuvee Beerenauslese
Weinlaubenhof Kracher, Burgenland

As you see from the wine list OS really shows it is a Austrian Airline - many of the choices are from Austria.

You want to know how i would rate the meal: The answer is quite easy - it was the best meal i ever had on a Business Class flight. Lets compare: There are some carriers that try to impress with famous Chefs, exotic ingredients or fancy dishes - but fail to deliver. The Meal on Austrian Airlines is nothing fancy - its simmilar to what you would order in a good restaurant at home - and it also tastes that good. Austrian even has a Chef onboard at long-haul-routes. Of course he doesn`t actually cook on the plane - but applies the finishing touches i think.

After a little sleep it was time for breakfast. Aside from the usual breakfast items (bread rolls, croissants, fruit, muesli) there are also made to order eggs available. And i have to say it again - it was the best eggs i ever had on a plane!



So how did i like my flight? Would i fly Austrian again? For a dayflight without a doubt - great food, nice and attentive crew, comfortable chair what else do you need. For a nightflight i am not so sure - i really couldn`t sleep very good in that seat...

Last edited by ARJ85; Aug 20, 11 at 3:36 pm
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:21 pm
  #3  
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one night in Bangkok

Of course i could have flown to Hanoi immediately - but as i havent been to Bangkok for a few years i decided to stay for one day and continue to Vietnam the next morning.

After convincing my Taxi Driver to put on the meter (and no im not my first time here, no i dont want to buy a suit, no i dont want to buy jewellry no matter how cheap - i love Bangkok!) i first went to my Hotel - the Lebua at State Tower (have you seen Hangover II?) which you can see in the Background of this picture.



The Hotel is within easy walking distance to the Chao Phraya river where frequent boats run through the city.



My first stop was Wat Pho



also known as the Temple of the reclining Buddha





I also wanted to visit the Palace - but unfortunately it was already closed (really closed - not some guy telling me its closed and instead offering me a tour to some cheap tailors)

A common sight on the streets of Bangkok are Tuk-Tuks



Another common sight is haggling about the price with Tuk-Tuk drivers



Aside from the boats running up and down the river, there are also ferrys going across. I used one of them to visit another temple - Wat Arun



The stairs up are really steep

but once you get up you have a nice view over the river



but of course you also have to climb down again - did i mention that the stairs are really steep?



Next stop was Khao San Road to get something to eat



and on my way back to the hotel one short photostop at Wat Arun



And why did i choose a hotel where my room would be in the 50th floor - to take pictures of course


Last edited by ARJ85; Aug 20, 11 at 3:54 pm
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:21 pm
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Qatar Airways (Y) BKK-HAN

From Bangkok to Hanoi is one of those routes where you have quite a few airlines to choose from. There are of course the legacies like Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines, a few LCC and more interesting some airlines from other parts of the world that fly the route as a tag-on.

So which Airline did i choose?

For this short trip i used all i learned here and went the Flyertalk-Way:

-> Take a middle-eastern Airline (Qatar)
-> For a flight within SouthEastAsia (BKK-HAN)
-> To collect miles with a US-Airlines (US)
-> Which i will use with a European Airline (Lufthansa)
-> for a flight to South America

Qatar flys BKK-HAN as a tag-on of its DOH-BKK flight.
Even bevore takeoff towels and little sweets were offered.



(as the sweets were in a basket it was really funny to watch the lady sitting beside me grab into it with both her hands and storing her catch in her purse)

Soon after takeoff a little hot wrap and a cookie were offered.



Qatars 777 have AVOD on every seat - and the good thing is it also runs while taxiing and on the ground. Flight time was almost two hours - so almost enough to watch a whole movie (has anybody seen Battlefield LA? I missed the last 5 minutes as i had to leave the plane then - but i guess they beat the Aliens?)

So now i`m in Vietnam - at least almost. Vietnam doesn`t offer Visa on Arrival so you have to arrange that before. For Germans (and most europeans i think) there are two ways: The obvious ist go with your passport to the vietnamese consulate in Berlin to get a visa. The other one (the cheaper and easier one) is to use a online Agency to get a Visa-Approval Letter - with this letter you can get your visa at the Airport.

Last edited by ARJ85; Aug 20, 11 at 4:10 pm
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:22 pm
  #5  
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a little about Hanoi

To be honest - when booking my flights i didn`t really know what to expect in the streets of Hanoi - maybe i thought it would be like that:



Of course you see a few people with bikes - but most (if not all the traffic) is on scooters



there are thousands of them - used for everything.
I actually didn`t see much trucks in the streets, because you can transport almost everything with a scooter









even when it starts raining they continue driving,
some are more prepared - some less



and some just improvise



and of course they also don`t slow down when it gets night
(Thats the last scooter picture - i promise)



During my time in Hanoi i stayed at the Intercontinental. It is a little outside of the city centre. Built on the shore and a part of it even on the West Lake.



The bar on the lake offers all the usual drinks like my Caipiroska on the picture - although i find it a little strange, that even a B-52 is on the menu.

Very much of the life goes on in the streets - lots of vendors are around - some a little more traditional



and some not so traditional



And one guy is of course still remembered:



Uncle Ho



Aside from the Mausoleum the most famous Landmark in Hanoi is the Turtle Tower in Hoan Kiem Lake



Are you wondering where these two guys are looking?



Well, no matter how different a culture is - there is one strategy all advertising agencys use:

Pretty Girls sell things


Last edited by ARJ85; Jan 20, 13 at 12:57 pm
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:23 pm
  #6  
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Vietnam Airlines (C) HAN-SGN

For my flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (i will write Saigon from now on - its simply shorter) i first had a choice of two Airlines: Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar.
As Jetstar somehow didn`t accept any of my credit cards i choose Vietnam Airlines.
All the cheap economy booking classes were sold out for my preferred time - only the expensive flexible one was available. As Business Class was almost the same price i booked this one instead.

The Business Class Lounge in the domestic part of Hanoi has a very impressive Wall-Decoration:



Unfortunately the food on offer was not that impressive



I didn`t know that Hanoi Airport is also a base of the Vietnam Airforce.



Vietnam Airlines uses all kinds of planes on the HAN-SGN route. Even such big planes as the 777 i had on my flight are used for that route inbetween intercontinental flights. I guess thats also the reason why i had really nice seats for a 1 1/2 hour flight - i dont think the usual domestic business class looks like that.



The seats are the standard recliner seats you probably know from a lot of airlines, arranged in a 2-3-2 layout.

Soon after takeoff hot towels and drinks were offered.



Followed by a choice of two hot meals.
(to be honest - i didn`t understand any of the choices but heard prawn so i went with that one)


Last edited by ARJ85; Aug 21, 11 at 6:39 am
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:24 pm
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Saigon and a trip to the CuChi Tunnels

When coming from Hanoi there is one thing very familiar to see when you get to Saigon



Last time we talked about how much freight you can transport with a scooter - but how about people?

Well you probably guess two people fit easily - but how about three?



or four?



no - actually its five:



One of the sights in Saigon is the reunification palace



Right around the corner from the reunification palace is the "War remnants museum" In the courtyard there is a collection of Tanks, Airplanes and Guns from the Vietnam War (called American War in Vietnam to differentiate between the wars against Japanese / French / Americans)
I didn`t have much time for the museum as they were already closing when i got there - so i only had the time to visit some of the photo gallerys - dedicated to showing the side of the war you don`t much see in Hollywood movies.



But the war is not only remembered through museum - there are also guided tours to the battlefield available. I joined one of these tours to the CuChi Area. Famous for the huge system of tunnels the Vietcong used. The entrance to these tunnels are really small.



Thats not me in the picture - i tried but i didn`t fit in...
Some of the tunnels are accessible via a different (wider) entrance



It was a very interesting half day tour - it not only concentrated on the war itself but also showed examples how the people lived during that time.

One of the interesting things in Saigon is that you cann still see lots of examples of the colonial past.

Like for example the Notre Dame Cathedral



or the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) - now called Ho Chi Minh City Hall









But Saigon is also a city rapidly changing - there are a few high rise buildings in construction, or already finished, like the Bitexco Financial Tower - with 262.5 Meters height currently the tallest finished building in Vietnam.



You didn`t think i would actually write a tripreport without featuring a skyscraper...



And to finish with another scooter picture - did you know that there is a law, that requires drivers to wear a helmet? (everything else is optional i guess)


Last edited by ARJ85; Aug 21, 11 at 6:33 am
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:25 pm
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Jetstar (Y) SGN-SIN

After two days in Saigon it was time to leave again. Sometimes when looking at FIDs you find some strange flights there - this was the case in Saigon. I expected the flights to Shanghai or Bangkok for example...



... but a China Airlines flight from Saigon to Luxembourg?

For my flight to Singapore i choose Jetstar Asia - a typical LCC.
Flight was in a A320 in the typical 3-3 layout.

The legroom was what you would expect from a LCC:



Also the catering was as i expected it to be:



Of course there is a range of drinks and snacks to buy - but as i had breakfast earlier in the hotel i didn`t have anything.

Soon after departure you could see the mekong-delta



and bevore landing the ships at singapore



And not even two hours after leaving Saigon i was in Singapore.
(with the nicest immigration desks i know - where else do you get candy at immigration)

Last edited by ARJ85; Aug 21, 11 at 7:12 am
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:25 pm
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whats new in Singapore?

As mentioned earlier my trip home involved a stopover in Singapore. Founded by Sir Stamford Raffles



Although the City now looks a lot different then during his time



One of the things i enjoy about Singapore is that its not only a city of Skyscrapers



But also there are a few parks





and even a very nice (and huge) orchid garden







During my stay in Singapore there was a special exhibit in the Asian Civilizations Museum - showing some of the famous terracotta warriors from Xi`An China:



ok - just kidding - here are the real ones:



The animal Singapore is famous for is the Merlion:



And right across the Merlion - on the other side of Marina Bay is Singapores newest Attraction:





One way to get to the Marina Bay Sands is via the new Helix Bridge





Most of the top of Marina Bay Sands (like the infinity pool for example )is reserved for Hotel Guests but a part of it is also accesible for the paying public.

From up there you have a nice view over the Singapore Flyer



and the CBD



and if you look really careful you can even spot the singapore river and the Merlion in between the Skyscrapers



And to make the building for everybody fun to watch (not only for Skysraper-Nerds like me) there is of course a laser-show every few hours


Last edited by ARJ85; Aug 24, 11 at 3:37 pm Reason: finally found the time
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Old Aug 20, 11, 3:26 pm
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Lufthansa (C) SIN-MUC

For the return flight i took the Lufthansa non-stop from Singapore to Munich. This is one of those flights with a perfect timing. It leaves Singapore at 11 PM and arrives in Munich at around 6 AM. So you really don`t loose any time on your vacation - you simply sleep on the plane instead of in a hotel room.

Lufthansa has no own Lounge at Changi Airport - passengers are instead allowed to use the Singapore Airlines Business Lounge. And as this is one of the best Business Lounges i know i really didn`t mind.

The Lounge offers a nice seating area with lots of chairs



and of course there is also enough to eat.



And not only one or two choices - there really is a nice range of different items available.



and also something sweet of course



Service onboard started soon after take-off.

After the usual drink service there was a selection of starters available:

Bouquet of Gambas and Remoulade of Horse Crab
with tender Garden Greens and Lemongrass served with Passion Fruit Dressing



Chicken Terrine
with Potato Salad and Tartare Sauce

Seasonal fresh Garden Salad
with mixed Capsicum, Radish, Artichoke Hearts and Edamame Peas

Of course you also get a selection of different breads with your starter. And whats a little strange - the cheese-course (listed on the menu with the dessert choices) also gets served on the same plate as the starter.

There where also three different choices for the main course available.

Chicken Crepinette filled with Mushroom and Garden Peas
with Chicken Jus, Broccoli and Spinach Pasta



Escalope of Asian white Seabass with Shimeji Mushroom Ragout
buttered Kenya Beans and Pilaf Rice

Basil Fettuccine
with roasted Tomato and Sweet Peas.

The last course was the dessert

Tian of Champagne Cream
with Pistachio Biscuit



there would also have been fresh fruits available for dessert.

To be honest - thats the last thing i remember about that flight - soon after dinner i went to sleep - and slept almost all our way to Munich. I even missed the breakfast on board.


So once again - thanks for reading this report - if you have any comments or questions just ask...


And if you are interested in any of my other Tripreports, here you go:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...al-museum.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...c-yul-zrh.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...abu-dhabi.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...rst-japan.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...2-muc-szg.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...ul-flyers.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...australia.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...-first-tr.html

Last edited by ARJ85; May 18, 12 at 6:06 am
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Old Aug 20, 11, 5:12 pm
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Your photos are wonderful, looking forward to more of your report.
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Old Aug 20, 11, 5:22 pm
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Great photos. I love the saturation of the colours...
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Old Aug 20, 11, 9:30 pm
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Very nice photos indeed. Love those motor-bike shots.

Hoping to make it to Vietnam next year!

Looking forward to see the rest of the photos.
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Old Aug 21, 11, 3:27 am
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CI is a cargo , strange to see it on a FIDS

Last edited by adampenrith; Aug 23, 11 at 8:07 am
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Old Aug 21, 11, 6:35 am
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Originally Posted by UA_Flyer View Post
Very nice photos indeed. Love those motor-bike shots.

Hoping to make it to Vietnam next year!

Looking forward to see the rest of the photos.
Thanks, i really feared it was too much motor-bike shots.

And when you have the time you should definitely visit Vietnam - i really enjoyed it and time permitting will go there again to see more of that beautiful country.

Last edited by ARJ85; Aug 21, 11 at 7:13 am
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