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Trip Report - Europe and Asia in First Class - With photos

Trip Report - Europe and Asia in First Class - With photos

Old Apr 23, 12, 10:40 pm
  #1  
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Trip Report - Europe and Asia in First Class - With photos

Part 1 - Introduction

We are off on another WorldWind adventure thanks to Aeroplan. This journey will take us to Seoul, Tokyo, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong and Frankfurt.

11 Days, 9 Flights, 6 Countries and countless lounges.

YVR-FRA Lufthansa First
FRA-ICN Asiana First
ICN-NRT United First
NRT-BKK Thai First
BKK-SGN LH First
SGN-BKK Thai Business
BKK-HKG Thai First
HKG-FRA Lufthansa First
FRA-YVR Lufthansa First

That's a lot of travel in a short time, I'm very lucky that my Wife is "On Board" with me on this.

We booked these flights before the July 15 2011 Aeroplan points hike, the YVR-FRA and HKG-FRA were extremely hard to get in First and I though, let's book this for now and pay $90 later to "Extend" our trip. Well the fuel surcharges for partners that were imposed in Nov 2011 made it very hard (Before the fee hike it would have cost us $200 in fees per person to make a change to our booking, after Nov 2011 a change would have cost $750 +$90 per person.)

Here we go:

The World in First Class (Asia-Europe)

Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - YVR - FRA + Lufthansa First Class Lounge


Part 3 - FRA - ICN + Seoul + Asiana First Class Lounges

Part 4 - ICN - NRT + Tokyo + ANA Suites Lounge and United First Lounge

Part 5 - NRT - BKK + Bangkok + Royal First Lounge


Part 6 - BKK - SGN + Ho Chi Minh + Part 6 - BKK - SGN + Ho Chi Minh + CIP Rose Lounge

Part 7 - SGN - BKK + Bangkok + Royal First Lounge + Orchid Spa

Part 8 - BKK - HKG + Hong Kong + Thai First Lounge

Part 9 - HKG - FRA + Frankfurt (Hotel Only) + Frankfurt First Class Lounge

Part 10 - FRA - YVR

Part 11 - Conclusion

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 30, 12 at 7:39 pm
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:40 pm
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Part 2 - YVR - FRA + Lufthansa First Class Lounge

We started our day in North Vancouver, took a city bus, sea bus (Small passenger ferry) and then a Skytrain to get to the airport.

Vancouver Sea Bus - Passenger Ferry


We started off at the Plaza Premium Lounge (My Platinum Amex let us both in for free). This lounge had quite a bit of food (Congee, Chicken Curry, Rice with Raisins, Kimchee Mr. Noodles). But the lounge didn't have a great feel. Plates were pilling up everywhere, the food trays were almost empty. The drinks were not very cold. They had 3 different kind of Captain Morgan Rums (Dark, White, Gold) so I mixed all 3 with a bit of coke.



Vancouver Airport - Plaza Premium Lounge



Vancouver Airport - Plaza Premium Lounge



Vancouver Airport - Plaza Premium Lounge

There was a reserved section for JAL and Korean Air passengers, it was empty:


Reserved Section - Plaza Premium Lounge



Reserved Section - Plaza Premium Lounge

Then we went to the Maple Leaf lounge (We used our First Class tickets to get in). The Lounge was a bit crowded, Nachos+Salsa, Salad and Soup and Pretzels are offered.



Vancouver Airport - Maple Leaf Lounge



Vancouver Airport - Maple Leaf Lounge


Lots of alcohol choices, Molson Canadian draft beer only (where did the Guinness Draft go ?) the MLL lounge feels clean.


Vancouver Airport - Maple Leaf Lounge

We boarded our flight, an Airbus 340-600 ("The longest passenger plane in the world). There were 5 Pax out of 8 in First Class. The plane felt very new and the seats were very comfortable.



Lufthansa LH 493 - Airbus 340-600 (346)


The food and service on board were perfect. The Devaux Champagne was flowing, I had the Caviar with traditional garnishes, I continued with the Lamb with mustard crust as a main, then the cheese plate with a nice Port. I skipped dessert and had a few chocolates. Then I slept for 5 hours, woke up and had breakfast, Fruits, Bagel, Smoked Salmon and Scrambled eggs.


Lufthansa LH 493



Lufthansa LH 493



Lufthansa LH 493

Lufthansa has roses all over First Class, the Flight attendant picked them all up and gave them to my wife as a bouquet. It was a 10 hour flight and I didn't even have time to finish 1 movie. I wish the flight was longer.

When we first arrived in Frankfurt we went to the Welcome Lounge to have a shower, drink and a snack.

Frankfurt Airport - Lufthansa Welcome Lounge


We had about 8 hours in Frankfurt and we debated if we should get a free Day Room at Hotel Kempinski, in the end we decided to stay at the airport and we headed towards the First Class Lounge.


The First class lounge in Frankfurt was unbelievable. I must have spent 2 hours smoking a complimentary cigar (There were about 10 different types (Same maker from Austria). I selected the "Torpedo" cigar which was perfect. I had 3 different kinds of aged rums (22-23 Anos (Years)) and I spent some time at the bar sampling some rare scotch whiskeys and asking tons of questions about the scotch.



Frankfurt Airport - Lufthansa First Class Lounge



Frankfurt Airport - Lufthansa First Class Lounge

We asked for showers and the attendant asked if we wanted a room for 2, we selected that. It was amazing, a huge 2 person spa bath, with bath salts and bath gel. And a small "Rubber Ducky" you get to keep as a souvenir. (It says "Lufthansa First Class Services" on it.



Frankfurt Airport - Lufthansa First Class Lounge


The food was equally delightful. The buffet was well stocked with butter chicken, beef. proschiuttos. dried sausages, more salads that I could count and a very serious dessert selection.

On top of the buffet they also have a sit down area with service. Since we are close to Easter they had an "Easter Themed" offering for dinner. We only had 30 mins before our flight would be boarding so we asked if we could still have the sit down dinner, our waiter said he would ask the chef. He came back and said that normally it would take 1 hour but they would try to speed it up a bit.

We had an amazing feast. We started with a salad, baked prawns, the most delicious mustard crusted lamb you could imagine and a chocolate souffle that almost made us miss our flight. We made it just in time, they closed the doors after we walked on.



Frankfurt Airport - Lufthansa First Class Lounge

The adventure continues .....

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 23, 12 at 11:21 pm
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:41 pm
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Part 3 - FRA - ICN + Seoul + Asiana First Class Lounges

After a mad "Chocolate Soufflé" dash to the gate (See part 2) we were now boarding. The Asiana plane was very nice and comfortable.


Asiana Airlines OZ 542 - Boeing 747 (747)


First Class was very full (Only 1 empty seat). The service on board was phenomenal, even in the middle of the night with a very dark cabin; someone would walk by (very discreetly) every 10 minutes. And if I got up to go to the washroom, someone was always near the galley asking if I needed anything. About 4-5 cabin attendants serviced the First Class cabin.

The food was ok (Perhaps I was just spoiled on Lufthansa). The caviar was served in individual jars and somehow it didn't have much flavor. Also it was a bit opaque and runny.

I had the traditional Korean meal which came in separate bowls that you mix yourself (Minced meat, rice, salad-like veggies, sesame oil, spicy red paste). It was nice to have something authentic but again nothing spectacular.


Asiana Airlines OZ 542

When I woke up I had the full breakfast. The best part was the yogurt and jam. I don't know what type of yogurt this was but it tasted like whipped cream, it was fabulous. I also had a nice course of prawns with red sauce.

The pajamas and amenities kits were very nice and we received a "Gift" before landing. We had a choice of a nicely wrapped leather business card holder or a CD of a Korean singer. We chose the business card holder.

This was our first flight on Asiana, although I'm glad we tried it, in the future I would select LH from FRA to ICN.

Seoul Korea:
This is where I realized that 1 day per city is not only "Not enough", it's wasteful. We took the metro to our hotel, it was easy to navigate. We saw a bit of the city from the metro but that's about it.

We checked into our hotel at about 4pm (After a 2 hour metro ride). We wanted to have a small nap and go exploring but we crashed and didn't wake up until the next morning. We packed up and it was time to leave for the airport.


InterContinental hotel - Lounge area


InterContinental hotel - Lounge area

We took the metro again, got breakfast from a small convenience store in the metro (Sushi rolls wrapped in foil + sandwich both we very nice).

The city from the metro seemed a bit "plain". Very little color, it reminded me of an industrial town like the ones you would find in Europe. The buildings were mostly grey or beige and very similar. I'm sure when we go back to explore the city we will have a different point of view.


Seoul- View from the metro


We made it to the airport, check in with United was a breeze and we received an invitation to the Asiana First Class lounge near our gate. After security we had to take a train to our gate. Before boarding the train I noticed there was an Asiana First Class lounge in that area, we asked if we could come in. The attendant reminded us that the other lounge was closer to our gate and still welcomed us in.


Seoul Airport - Asiana First Class Lounge 1 of 2



Seoul Airport - Asiana First Class Lounge 1 of 2


The lounge was spacious, beautiful and had a large selection of food and drink. I was surprised to see Johnny Walker blue; normally you don’t get high end alcohol like this at a “Self Serve” bar.

We had a small bite, and went to the train to the other part of the terminal. At the other end there was another Asiana First Class lounge. It had very similar food and drink offerings, again super quiet and almost empty.


Seoul Airport - Asiana First Class Lounge 2 of 2


Seoul Airport - Asiana First Class Lounge 2 of 2


Seoul Airport - Asiana First Class Lounge 2 of 2


Next stop, Tokyo

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 24, 12 at 12:50 am
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:41 pm
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Part 4 - ICN - NRT + Tokyo + ANA Suites Lounge and United First Lounge

We are leaving Seoul on our way to Tokyo on a United International flight. The plane seems very new, the First Class seats are very comfortable and have lots of storage. The Airplane safety card mentions 777-200 Premium Edition.


United Airlines UA 890 - Boeing 777-200 (777)



United Airlines UA 890



United Airlines UA 890

The flight was very short but the staff was very attentive. After serving a pre-departure glass of Spanish sparkling wine (in a plastic glass) Eddy the flight attendant told me to save room for the real champagne after departure. I didn't see the bottle but I suspect it was Moet et Chandon served in a proper glass.



United Airlines UA 890



United Airlines UA 890


There were no pajamas or actual amenities kits; they offered a few amenities (razor, toothbrush, etc) from a basket. For lunch I had the traditional Japanese "Box" meal. It was pretty good, a very "light" meal with cold noodles. A bit of chocolate cake for dessert and it was already time to land.

I didn't have time to try the onboard entertainment or play with the seat. My wife did mention the seat was very comfortable, 100% lay flat and no awkward and uncomfortable bars in the middle of the seat.

We spent 2 days in Tokyo which was really nice. We took the metro which was a bit confusing but we were able to get help at the ticket counters along the way. The staff and locals were very friendly and very helpful anywhere we went.


Tokyo Metro


When we arrived in Tokyo we experienced hurricane winds (125 km/hour) with heavy rain for the short walk from the metro to our hotel.

When we go to the hotel it was supper time so we decided to stay in, relax and recuperate for the next day. The next morning was beautiful, sunny and about 16 degrees Celsius.


Cherry Blossoms on a Tokyo Street


We took the metro to the most gorgeous little park in the middle of the city called Koishikawa Kourakuen. We walked in the park for hours, looking at the cherry blossoms, beautiful trees and watching the giant fish in the ponds. (The park is just beside the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium.)



Beautiful Koishikawa Kourakuen park in the middle of Tokyo



Beautiful Koishikawa Kourakuen park in the middle of Tokyo


Then we walked around the government buildings (Near the Prime Minister's house), I haven’t seen this much security since the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. They had military buses full of policemen and there were at least 2 guards at every street corner.

Later that afternoon my wife took a nap at the hotel and I made my way to the Tokyo Tower. You can pay about $8 USD to go to the regular observation deck (150 Meters) and once there, another $6 USD to go to the special deck (250 Meters). I went to 250 M. and the view was fabulous. You can see the entire city and apparently on some days Mt. Fuji.


Tokyo Tower



Tokyo Tower



View from Tokyo Tower



View from Tokyo Tower



Glass Floor at Tokyo Tower


Down in the lower levels (Around the lobby) there are lots of shops, a museum and tons of activities for the kids.

I went back to the hotel at sunset, relaxed a bit before an early night. The next morning we went to the airport by Shuttle bus. We realized that we spent almost as much money on the various trains and subway lines than the cost of the shuttle bus which took us directly to the airport. Just before arriving at the terminal there was a security checkpoint. They were checking every car thoroughly and someone came on the bus and asked to see our ID.


Checkpoint before arriving at Narita airport


The Thai Airways check in agent mentioned our gate was beside the United First lounge and told us we could also visit the ANA Suites lounge.

First we went to the ANA suites. The lounge was very clean and bright but unfortunately the buffet food was nothing special (Keep in mind this was breakfast time). There were always 3-4 lounge agents around the food area which was very small and cramp. There was a bit of sushi, cheese and crackers and a few salads.


Tokyo Airport - ANA First Class Suites Lounge



Tokyo Airport - ANA First Class Suites Lounge


What was really nice was the Noodle Bar. In a small hole in the wall a cook takes your noodle order. I had the tempura + udon noodles which turned out to be very tasty. There was a nice broth with thick noodles and a kind of wafer of tempura and vegetables (Hard to describe, it was perhaps the same consistency as a 'Latka' pancake or Hashbrown.)

Then we made our way to the United First lounge which was really impressive. The food and drinks were plentiful and I really enjoyed the Dim Sum.


Tokyo Airport - United First Class Lounge



Tokyo Airport - United First Class Lounge

We took a peak at the business section (1 floor below) and it was packed.

And now we are off to Bangkok.

Last edited by InsaneTravel; May 13, 12 at 5:51 pm Reason: Made a correction, the plane was a Boeing 777 (not 747) thanks Genius1
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:42 pm
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Part 5 - NRT - BKK + Bangkok + Royal First Lounge

When we checked in we were told that this would be an older aircraft. We were sitting in the nose of the plane, with 16 seats of First Class (rows of 2) and we were only 3 people in the First cabin.


Thai Airways TG 641 - Boeing 747-400 (744)


The plane felt a little old, the entertainment system had a small 7 inch screen with 15 or so channels. The only English movie was "We bought a zoo" and it was not on demand (You had to switch to that channel and the movie was already playing).

The food was pretty good; I had pre-ordered the lobster thermador. I enjoyed it but it was a bit dry. My wife pre-ordered the beef teriyaki which was medium and 2 very large pieces. The remaining courses were very good, cheese + crackers with port, chocolate cake for dessert and fruits. The champagne was a very nice Dom Perignon 2002 and it was flowing throughout the flight.


Thai Airways TG 641


We received a nice amenities kit but no pajamas this time (Flight was only 6 hours). I really enjoyed our flight and wished it was longer. A snack was served 2 hours before landing which was Haagen dazs ice-cream (chocolate, vanilla caramel and green tea).

We arrived at our hotel at about 4pm, we had a quick swim on the rooftop pool to cool down and went out. We went to the very new "Asiatique Night Market". We took a Skytrain and then a huge water taxi (it was great fun) to the markets. The markets were still somewhat under constructions but most of the shops were open. Everything was so inexpensive (The food, the clothing, the souvenirs) and very negotiable. We didn't know that the water taxis ended at 9pm so we waited (with about 20 other people) for 15 minutes then a guard came by and mentioned they were finished for the night. So we took a $1.20 taxi to the Skytrain and went back to the hotel.


Bangkok - New Asiatique Market


The next morning we went back to the airport by SkyTrain + Express Train, it was very fast and efficient. We arrived 4 hours before our flight and the Lufthansa counters were not opened yet. We didn't have any checked bags so we used the machines to check in (We needed the flight #'s and the Lufthansa Booking codes (NOT the Aeroplan ones).

Since we are flying First with Lufthansa to Ho Chi Minh we were let into the Thai Royal First Lounge but without a massage.

The food was superb and I really enjoyed the various curries and soups and Moet et Chandon champagne.

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 24, 12 at 9:19 am
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:43 pm
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Part 6 - BKK - SGN + Ho Chi Minh + CIP Rose Lounge

Part 6 - BKK - SGN + Ho Chi Minh + Singapore Airlines Senator Lounge
BKK - SGN in Lufthansa First Class (1 Hour Flight)

Other than perhaps a short Float Plane (Flying Beaver as we call them in BC) from Vancouver to Victoria BC this was probably my shortest flight ever. And at 1 hour probably one of the shortest First Class flights anywhere.

We were flying on a 747-400 and had the entire second floor to ourselves. This is the first time we've ever had an entire cabin to ourselves. It was the older seats 16 seats in 4 rows of 2x2 and we were each assigned 2 seats. There were 2 male flight attendants taking care of us.


Lufthansa LH 772 - Boeing 747-400 (744)



Lufthansa LH 772


We were served Macadamia nuts and Devaux Champagne before takeoff. Then a small "Snack". It's funny as they gave us a full size menu (About 11 inches) with only 1 paragraph of writing.

Here is a transcript of the menu:

SNACK Kalte Spezialitäten

Papaya and Carrot Salad, roasted Chicken Thigh with red Bell Pepper Salsa.
Grilled Paneer Cheese with grilled and marinated Mediterranean Vegetables.
Canapés, Potato Bharwan, Shrimp Patty with Tofu, Chicken Kebab.


Everything was delicious and fresh. Considering it was such a short flight I was surprised to get such a nice snack.

The purser came by to introduce herself, she was very nice. She explained that they would be staying in Ho Chi Minh for 4 hours then turnaround to Bangkok and stay the night there. The male flight attendant later added that the reason they stay in Ho Chi Minh for so long is that this flight alternates every other day (FRA-BKK-SGN and FRA-BKK-MNL) and that since the BKK-MNL is much longer and since they need to depart BKK at the same time everyday they just stay in SGN longer.


A view of Ho Chi Minh as we were landing


Immigration took a long time, we had our "Landing Visa Letter" from www.hotels-in-vietnam.com , our information form, 2 pictures each and $25 each for the visa. We waited in line at the "Visa on Arrival" queue for about 20 minutes, handed in our forms, pictures and passports and waited until they called our name. It took another hour or so and we were called over to the window to pay the $25 each and pickup our passports with the visa stickers inside. After we left immigration we went straight to customs (We were only traveling with Carry On baggage). They X-Rayed our bags and no one said anything. After leaving the customs' area we would a bank machine, took out $2,500,000 in local currency ($125 US) and made our way outside.

We tried to find the best taxi option (as we heard you can easily get overcharged) and we made 1 mistake, we asked about how much it would cost in advance. The "Taxi Clerk" said $10 US and that's what it cost. I think the fare should have been around $6 US and there was a meter but I'm not sure how to read it. It was something like : 695 000 123 456 and at the bottom 2.50

Ho Chi Minh is a fascinating city, I've never seen so many scooters and motorcycles anywhere. I would say there are 5X more than Bangkok and they honk 10X as much. We made it to the hotel then went for a walk. The concierge mentioned that we should make sure our belongings are not in plain sight. (I.E. Camera and handbags should be hidden). She also mentioned not to eat the street food as it was not hygienic. I'm usually quite adventurous when it comes to food but since we are only 1/2 through our trip I didn't want to take a chance and get sick so I followed her advice.



Ho Chi Minh - Street near our hotel



Ho Chi Minh - National Theater (A.K.A. Opera House)


Ho Chi Minh - View from our Hotel Room



Ho Chi Minh - Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica



Ho Chi Minh - Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

We went to the Bangkok markets, wow what an adventure. They had a lot of Polo and Lacoste shirts. I suspect they were all fakes (as opposed to factory seconds) as the Lacoste and Polo shirts were exactly the same (Same colors, same collars, same cut) except for the logos. The prices ranged from $5 USD to $20 USD for 1 shirt.

We saw some really nice North Face bags, anything from a small fanny pack to a large 100 Liter backpack. I'm not an expert but the zippers and fabric didn't seem to be of high quality. A large 100 L + 20 L (There's a small 20L backpack zippered into a large 100L backpack and there was also a small fanny pack attached) sold for about 40 USD until you start walking away from the stall and then the price dropped to 25 USD.

There were about 100 stalls with very similar merchandise (Trinkets, Clothes and Bags). The merchants weren't too aggressive, they did invite you to see their wares but weren't too pushy.

On the way back we witnessed a "Bag Snatching"; it was very sad. I didn't see the culprit but my wife noticed that there were 2 suspicious guys sitting on a scooter, ready to go with their lights off.

They took off at full speed and the passenger on the back grabbed a "Satchel" from an unsuspecting Asian tourist (I think he was either Japanese or Korean) It all happened so fast that by the time anyone realized what had happened the crooks were already 1 block away blended in a pack of scooters.

The victim didn’t seem have been physically hurt but he was certainly stunned. I hope he will be ok and that he didn’t lose anything he can’t replace.

We spent the next morning walking around another market, it was crowded and hot but we had an amazing time. We bought a few Burberry polo shirts for about $8 each and I saw very beautiful chess sets (I suspect Hand Made) for about $30. Our suitcases are already full so I had to pass on these.

We heard a lady mentioning how she had her Hermes handbag stolen at the market and the street coconut vendor short changed me (I paid $20 US for 2 Coconuts as he gave me 10,000 notes instead of 100,000) I tried to argue but then all of a sudden he didn't speak English anymore.



Ho Chi Minh - If you buy a coconut from this guy use the exact change ;-)

We went for a short swim at the hotel and it was time to go again.



Ho Chi Minh - Rooftop pool at our hotel with a glass wall


We took a $7 cab to the airport, the Thai check-in counter only opened 2.5 hours before the flight and there were no self-checkin machines so we had to wait. The airport was not busy at all and we were able to find somewhere comfortable to sit.

Immigration, Customs and Security were a breeze, we tried to go to the "Priority" line for X-Rays and we were sent back (The agent didn't even look at our boarding pass, she just pointed us back to the line).

We made our way to the "CIP Rose Lounge", a contract lounge used by many airlines. We found some comfortable seats near the windows. The lounge food and drink were not very nice. It seems like all the refrigerators were broken (everything was room temperature or just slightly above). The Self-Serve Pho was nice, they had chicken, smoked chicken or beef balls and all the proper garnishes. The sandwiches were not good at all, the bread was a bit dry and the tiny bit of salad and ham were soggy.

And now back to Bangkok....
__________________

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 24, 12 at 11:06 pm
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:43 pm
  #7  
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Part 7 - SGN - BKK + Bangkok + Royal First Lounge + Orchid Spa

This was another short flight and our only leg in business. The seats were quite comfortable and the Thai Airways service was excellent as usual. It was nice to see Wichara again (A flight attendant from NRT - BKK) who recognized us and came to great us as we boarded.

The meal was a smoked chicken plate with a salad and banana cake for dessert. They had Moet champagne as well.

Once in BKK we took a bus from the airplane to the terminal and then express train to downtown and a subway for 3 stops. From the airplane door to the hotel was exactly 1 hour. We arrived at the hotel a bit late (10pm or so) so we called it a night early.


View from our hotel room



View from the rooftop of our hotel



Jacuzzi in the men's change-room of our hotel


The next morning we took the subway + express train back to the airport and we were there in no time. We proceeded to the First Class check in and this time they asked us for 700 Bah for the departure fee. This is a bit strange as I don't remember ever paying this on this trip or the last 2.


Thai Airways First Class check-in area



Thai Airways First Class check-in area


We were escorted through immigration and taken straight to the lounge. They bring you to the Business lounge entrance and from there a buggy takes you all the way through to the First Class lounge area. The buggy actually drives through the business lounge to get there.

We were seated in a private suite (Room) and asked if we could book our massages. The massages would be in 30 mins. The service this time around in the First Class Lounge was a lot more attentive than last time. Perhaps when you fly with Thai Airways they treat you differently than when you fly with other airlines (The last time we were flying with Lufthansa.



Thai Airways First Class Lounge private suite


I had an amazing full body massage, this was the best ever. The massage therapist was very professional and very very strong for a small woman.


Thai Airways Royal Orchid Spa massage room



We went back to the lounge, had a few more drinks and food and it was time for our flight to Hong Kong. We were escorted to our gate and it was time to say goodbye to Bangkok.

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 24, 12 at 11:42 pm
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:44 pm
  #8  
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Part 8 - BKK - HKG + Hong Kong + Thai First Lounge

The Bangkok to Hong Kong flight was very short (2 hours), the plane seemed newer, (Single First Class seats as opposed to pairs) and the service was excellent.



Thai Airways TG 606 - Boeing 747-400 (744)



I had pre-ordered the Lobster Pad Thai, it was delicious but slightly dry. My wife slept through her pre-ordered meal (Lamb) I hope someone got to enjoy it.



Lobster Pad Thai




Lobster Pad Thai


The service was excellent, I had the Dom Pérignon 2002 which was perfectly chilled and a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue for landing. No pajamas or amenity kits were distributed on such a short flight. The first class cabin was completely full except for 1 seat.

When we arrived in Hong Kong a convoy of buggies were waiting for all the First Class passengers; this was really helpful as the ride felt like it was 2KM.

We cleared immigration in no time and since we didn't have any checked bags we were on the Express Train in no time. When we reached the Kooloon train station we took a free shuttle bus to our hotel.



Hong Kong Airport Express MTR (Mass Transit Railway)



Hong Kong Airport Express - Free Shuttle to/from Kooloon Station



Hong Kong at night


We arrived at our hotel quite late (10pm) so we went for a walk on the "Avenue of Stars". When we arrived at the ferry terminal we took one to the other side and back. We wanted to see the view from the water. Wow for about 40 cents each way you get an amazing view of Hong Kong at night.



Singing Star on Avenue of the Stars



Hong Kong Passenger Ferry



View from the Passenger Ferry



View from the Passenger Ferry


The next morning we made our way to the airport via the express train, it took less than 1 hours from our hotel to the airport.

At check-in we were advised that since our gate was far away we should take the train to the other end and use the United First or the Thai First lounges. Before we got to the train I noticed there was a Singapore Airlines' Kris lounge. We checked it out, it was nice and comfortable. They had sandwiches, a bit of dim sum and Häagen-Dazs ice cream.



Singapore Airlines' Kris lounge


Then we took the train to the end of the terminal and made our way to the Thai Airways lounge. It was 1 large lounge with a section for First Class. The First Class section had it's own little bar and the food was a buffet on the Business side. It had nice spicy Thai soup, sandwiches, ice-cream and a few "Spring Roll" type items.



Thai Airways lounge - First Class side



Thai Airways lounge - First Class side


On the First Class side we were able to order off a special menu. We had Dim Sum, Chicken Fried rice and some Häagen-Dazs ice-cream. There was also Greek salad on the menu and a few small appetizers. Everything was delicious and the service was excellent. Several staff were always making sure we were taken care of. They also had an amazing massage chair, I could have fallen asleep on that chair.

The alcohol choices on both sides (First and Business) were the same. Regular Rum, Vodka, Gin and Johnnie Walker black. There were a few wine bottles but nothing that caught my eye.



Thai Airways lounge - First Class menu


We didn't have time to try the United First Class Lounge as we had to rush to our flight to Frankfurt.

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 26, 12 at 12:11 am
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:44 pm
  #9  
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Part 9 - HKG - FRA + Frankfurt (Hotel Only) + Frankfurt First Class Lounge

We finally hit the jackpot !!!! The new Lufthansa First config on the 747-400; the one where we each get a seat and a real bed. The bed is amazing, there's a "Single" 6" mattress with a mattress cover, sheets, duvet and blanket. I love this plane. And this was our longest leg at 11 hours.



Lufthansa LH 739 - Boeing 747-400 (744)



Lufthansa LH 739


The entertainment system was great (lots of choices for movies, TV, music) and the +/- 18 inch screen was really nice. Unfortunately, the screen doesn't work well when you are at an angle so watching TV in bed wasn't an option. This is probably by design so that your screen doesn't disturb other passengers.


Here is a transcript of the menus:

Vorspeisen (Starters)
Caviar with the traditional Garnishes
Slow roasted Zucchini with Prosciutto di Parma and Parmesan Cheese
Pan-Seared Scallop with Pomelo Segment Mustard Dill Dressing
Bulghar Wheat Salad with marinated Artichoke

Salad
Mixed Salad with Cherry Tomato, Cucumber and Pine Nuts presented with Dressing

Choice of Main Courses
Pan-fried Duck Breast with Sweet Patatoes, Kenya Beans and Apple Cider Jus
Salmon with Wild Mushroom Fricassee, Herb Patato Gnocchi and Salsa Verde
Agnoiotti with Porchini Mushrooms and Thyme Cream Sauce, braised Leek and Zucchini
Wok-fried Shrimp with Szechuan Sauce, Broccoli and steamed Rice

Selection of Cheese and Dessert
Edam, Gloucester, Goat, Brie and Danish Blue Cheese garnished with Grapes
Passion Fruit with Coconut Cream
Ricotta Cheese Cake with mixed Berry Compote

"We are pleased to serve you a selection of canapés, biscuits and fresh fruits during the flight"

DRINKS

"D" de Devaux Brut, Champagne Veuve Devaux, Frankreich
Campari
Sherry "La Guita"
2009 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese
2009 Rully, Clos Mollepierres, Frankreich
2010 Heinrich Vollmer Grauer Burgunder, Deutschland
terra o. Cuvée, Weingut J. Heinfich. Osterreich
2003 Chateau Belgrave, Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc. Frankreich
2006 Kaiken Ultra, Malbec, Montes Alpha, Argentinien
Dessert Wine: 2008 Huxelrebe Beerenauslese, Weingut Schweickardt, Deutschland
Oban Single Malt 14 Years
Jack Daniel Tennessee Whiskey Old No. 7
Johnnie Walker Blue Label
Platinum 44
Bombay Sapphire Distilled London Dry Gin
Calvados Pays d'Auge AC, Daron
Fernet Branca
+ Port, Coffees, Teas, German Beers

Dinner (2nd meal - 2 hours before landing)
Hors d'oeuvres
Green Herb baked Masala Fish with Vegetables
Beef Cheek and Vegetable Terrine with Enoki Mushroom
Bean Curd Roll filled with Pork and Mushroom

Entrees
Pan-fried Chicken Breast filled with Spinach and Mushroom, Rosemary Sauce, Beet Root Gnocchi and grilled Pumpkin

Dim Sum
Dumpling with Shrimp, Shao Mai mixed Seafood and black mushroom, Xia Ling Bao and Jade Mushroom Dumplings

Dessert
Raspberry Cake with white and dark Chocolate
Fresh Fruit

Everything was incredibly delicious. I had the Caviar (Served with a frozen shot glass of vodka), Pan-fried Duck Breast, a bit of every cheese and I traded my dessert with my wife for her Caviar.



Delicious meal - 2nd course



View from above - I love flying !


I had a 4 hour nap on the full bed, it was incredibly comfortable ! And then it was time to eat again: For the 2nd meal I had the Dim Sum, it was HUGE (Almost the size of tennis balls) and very delicious and fresh.

We landed in Frankfurt on time (I wish the flight was longer). We took the Express train into town and walked about 400 meters to our hotel. We arrived a bit late (10pm or so) and called it a night early. We woke up at 5am and decided to get to the Airport "super early" to enjoy the lounges.

When we arrived at the airport we couldn't decide on the FCL ("First Class Lounge") or the FCT ("First Class Terminal"). We've never been to the FCT but once you are there you don't have access to the other lounges (Senator/Business) or the Duty Free shops. I understand there is a little kiosk but my wife and I like to try stuff out. If we selected the FCL, we wouldn't get the Limo Ride to the plane.

I asked the agent at the First Class check-in, she suggested the Lounge, she mentioned that it wouldn't be as busy as the FCL, she said that our flight was only a short walk from the FCL (4 gates) and that we would have to pay 120 Euro to get immigration to come to the FCT to clear us. (I think this was a mistake, I suspect Lufthansa pays 120 Euro, not the customer)

We decided on the FCL and we did not regret it! the hostess mentioned that we were very early (5.5 hours). We sat in the "lounge recliner" chairs, had some snacks and even if it was 8AM I had the Pyrat Rum most of the morning. About 2 hours later I went to the Cigar lounge and had a smaller cigar (It was like a Robusto sized) It didn't burn evenly and the bartender suggested I try another one (like a Lanceros size), he also gave me a spare for later.





A bit closer to lunch we sat down to eat in the restaurant area. The menu was listing the buffet items. (I suspect the special menu is only for dinner). I asked our attendant if by any chance we could have the Lamb from the Easter dinner (We had 10 days before) he said they didn't have any but then Spiro (the other attendant) overheard and said perhaps the chef may have lamb. He came back 2 minutes later and said it was not a problem. He was able to find 1, he offered roasted prawns on risotto for a 2nd entree (I think that was also on the Easter menu). My wife and I shared both and they we absolutely amazing, I even asked to shake the chef's hand and say thank you.


This lamb was incredible

We had asked for a 2 person bath about 1 hour before and were placed on a waiting list. I could see the Spa attendant looking around for us while we were finishing our meal. I think she saw us but didn't come to the restaurant to interrupt. Instead she came by 3-4 minutes after we went back to our seats in the lounge.

I brought a St-Etienne rum to the shower/bath room and enjoyed an amazing bubble bath with my wife. The Rubber Ducky this time was a female which we got to keep. It completed the set !



Female Rubber Ducky



Clearly having fun - Now where did my champagne go ?


Before we knew it we had to rush to our last flight home. Before we did we made sure to write in the guest book and mention Spiro (who provided us with the Lamb and Prawns) by name and I also filled out a FCL/HON feedback form and mentioned Spiro as well.

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 26, 12 at 9:49 am
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:45 pm
  #10  
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Part 10 - FRA - YVR

Part 10 - FRA - YVR
This was our last flight (9 of 9) and was just as impressive as the first one.

It was an Airbus 340-600 and we were only 3 in the first class cabin (Old style - 2 rows of 1-2-1 seats. We had 2 flight attendants, one was more behind the scenes (preparing the meals) and one was attending to us.

It was nice to be able to practice my french and the flight attendant also appreciated it, she was a bit shy and didn't want to do the Lufthansa french exam but after our flight she was lot more comfortable and she said she would do the exam.

After 9 flights, countless lounges I don't know how I was able to eat more. I had the "Amuse Bouche", 3 plates of appetizers, caviar + vodka, main, cheese + port, chocolates and I saved my dessert for my wife who slept through the first and 2nd services. I wasn't sleeping but I skipped the 2nd service.

The champagne was the "D" de Devaux Brut, Champagne Veuve Devaux.

We received 2 amenities kits and 2 pyjama tops (The ones they give for day flights, in the past they were more like Rugby shirts.) I asked if I could exchange or get a pyjama bottom instead. The flight attendant came back and gave me a full pyjama and wouldn't take back the top. Before we knew it we were in Vancouver. A short Skytrain, SeaBus + Bus ride and we were home.


Lufthansa LH 492 - Airbus 340-600 (346)

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 28, 12 at 10:58 am
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Old Apr 23, 12, 10:46 pm
  #11  
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Part 11 - Conclusion

Wow, what a fabulous ride:

11 Days
9 Flights (8 First Class - 1 Business Class)
26682 miles flown (42,691 km)
4 Airlines (Lufthansa, Asiana, United, Thai Airlines)
6 Countries
10 premium lounges
6 Hotels (InterContinentals)


We loved Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) and Hong Kong (People's Republic of China) and we are certainly going to return to both. Ideally we would stay 2-3 days in each city.

2 days in Tokyo (Japan) was perfect as there wasn't that much for us to do. We are not museum types (We prefer outdoor "Ruins" type places) and we love walking in parks and along rivers. If we would return to Japan we would probably travel in the country to see Mt. Fuji, Osaka and visit some Hot-springs.

2 x 1 day in Bangkok (Thailand) was also just perfect. We love the lounge at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport and we really enjoyed visiting the night markets.

It's too bad that we didn't get to visit Seoul (Korea) this time. We may go back but it wouldn't be on the top of our list.

Frankfurt (Germany) was great for an overnight but I don't think we would go back (this was our 2nd trip) for a visit and the may reasons we added Frankfurt was that it was the only Star Alliance First Class flight out of Vancouver and we really wanted to visit the lounge.

Approximate Costs for this trip (for 2 people in Canadian Dollars):

$2,400 for Aeroplan points (I value Aeroplan points at $0.01 per point (I would pay $0.01 to purchase a point))
$400 for Flight taxes and fees
$1,000 for Hotels (Includes 4 buffet breakfasts and the Tokyo transfer to the Airport)
$1,000 for Taxis, Buses, Subways, a few Meals and Souvenirs

For a total of $4800

We would certainly do it again but differently. With the new Aeroplan conditions (175,000 points x 2 and $1000 x 2 for the fees) we would make sure that we had more time in each city and we would have selected cities we really wanted to visit as opposed to cities with First Class flights.

We would try to go only with Lufthansa, Thai, Swiss or an airline we haven't tried yet. (Asiana and United were nice but now that we've tried them, we can cross these off our list and move on)

If we could still access the First Class lounges, we would sacrifice First Class for better dates on the short flights. For a 1 or 2 hour flight, business would have been good as well. On this trip the short flights were: "ICN-NRT" "BKK-SGN" and "BKK-HKG".

Aeroplan allows you to have up to 16 legs (The website mentions 10 but if you call-in they will allow up to 16 legs) and 3 stopovers (More than 24 hours) the rest must be layovers. For the layovers, I would make sure the airports are closer to the city. For example, in Seoul we had 24 hours and the airport was 2 hours away by train (each way). We would avoid these scenarios.

Closing Notes:

Favorite city: Ho Chi Minh
Favorite lounge: Lufthansa First Class Lounge in Frankfurt
Favorite flight: HKG - FRA (11 hours with Lufthansa's new seat + bed configuration)
Favorite champagne: Dom Perignon 2002
Favorite drink: Pyrat Rum
Favorite meal: Easter Lamb at the Frankfurt First Class Lounge
Favorite snack: Tom Yum Goong at the Bangkok First Class Lounge
Favorite hotel: InterContinental Hong Kong
Best part of the trip: Spending all this time with my wife

Thank you very much everyone for reading my first trip report, I hope you enjoyed it and that it will give you ideas for trips of your own. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to post them here (For everyone's benefit) and I will answer/comment promptly.





Cheers !
Insane Travel

Last edited by InsaneTravel; Apr 28, 12 at 10:56 am
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Old Apr 24, 12, 8:44 am
  #12  
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I beleive it is Hibiya Park you are talking about. Very nice place to relax, it is odd to find a park like that in the middle of Tokyo...

Have really enjoyed your TR... One of these days I'll be taking international F !

Originally Posted by InsaneTravel View Post
We took the metro to the most gorgeous little park in the middle of the city. We walked in the park for hours, looking at the cherry blossoms, beautiful trees and watching the giant fish in the ponds. (I don't have the name of the park but it's just beside the baseball stadium.)
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Old Apr 24, 12, 9:19 am
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amazing, thanks for sharing...
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Old Apr 24, 12, 2:50 pm
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I never get tired of seeing/reading about first class
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Old Apr 24, 12, 11:52 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by FlightNurse View Post
I beleive it is Hibiya Park you are talking about. Very nice place to relax, it is odd to find a park like that in the middle of Tokyo...

Have really enjoyed your TR... One of these days I'll be taking international F !
Thanks FlightNurse !

I googled "Hibiya Park" and although it looks similar, it's not the same park.

This is a "Google Map" of the park we went to, unfortunately all the writing is in Japanese, perhaps someone will recognize this park. It's right beside "Tokyo Dome"



Thanks again for the great feedback !

I.T.
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