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Honeymooning in Australia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Dubai (UA/EK/BA F, SQ J)

Honeymooning in Australia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Dubai (UA/EK/BA F, SQ J)

Old Dec 17, 2013, 9:58 pm
  #31  
 
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Great trip report. Looks like an amazing honeymoon. Well done!

I went to Sri Lanka earlier this year - partially because of the ex-CMB fare - and loved it. During my 11 days I did spend a night at Fort Galle which was wonderful. Sadly, I did not stay at the Amangalla but I did have an arak sour on the patio and decided I must stay there next time.
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Old Dec 17, 2013, 10:39 pm
  #32  
 
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Yes, I fully agree that Sri Lanka is a wonderful country.. And regardless of the comings and goings of ex-CMB fares, Sri Lanka is worth a visit. In fact, this June I will return for my third trip in three years.

To the OP, great trip report.. I'm glad you enjoyed the Amangalla. I never stayed there but I had many a happy G&T on the beautiful veranda.

Last edited by tomofmaine; Dec 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 10:00 am
  #33  
 
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I'm really glad that you took the time to explore Sri Lanka rather than just using it as a starting point for cheap F fares through Europe and the Middle East. While I unfortunately never had the chance to book one of the famous ex-CMB fares, I always wondered about Sri Lanka as a destination to justify the stop at CMB. Most flyers usually just spend a few hours at the airport and are on their way.

I've also found that, when planning trips the destination rather than the routing when plannin trips. I'd love to fly NRT in JAL F, except route SAN-ORD-NRT since ORD-NRT is much more available (plus, its an extra couple hours in F). I know she wouldn't bother to investigate, but I figure after a while she might start asking more questions.

Keep it going, excited to hear the rest!
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 12:48 pm
  #34  
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Absolutely sensational report with amazing pics. What camera did you use?
The Conrad looks wonderful.

Originally Posted by sfoactuary
Illuminated bridge at night


Eating with the fish
Thanks for posting those pics from Amangalla. We "have to" go back to CMB next year to complete our xCMB RT.
Your report has me thinking that we may want to stop for a couple of days, instead of just staying at the airport and connecting onto another flight.
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 2:14 pm
  #35  
 
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@SFO777.. Highly recommended! The new expressway makes Galle much more accessible for a couple-day jaunt. I love then Galle-Colombo train, but I'm not sure how Mrs. SFO777 would feel about it.
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 3:12 pm
  #36  
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Great great trip.. Emirates Wolgan Valley looks awesome and I was just looking at tickets to MLE today....

But Amangalla looks awesome... we have our first Aman experience(s) in Bali coming up soon, so looks quite promising...

FDW
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 4:22 pm
  #37  
 
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Nice report.

Sri Lanka is intriguing. It's the perfect point redemption place since you can easily access the Maldives on a cheap fare from Sri Lanka and the reward availability to get to Sri Lanka is usually pretty good ex-BKK/SIN.

I'd really like to experience the Aman Resorts in Sri Lanka. I did see that the Amanwella website described the resort as "windy" for part of the year... Your report on Amangalla shows better than the website photos.
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 4:34 pm
  #38  
 
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Thanks for the wonderful report and amazing photos.

And nice to see people from the same profession on the forum, assuming your handle is not randomly made up , though I seriously doubt anyone would want to make that up
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 4:46 pm
  #39  
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Originally Posted by willsterstyle
Great report! Loved all the photos of CM
Thanks, willsterstyle! It's so beautiful there that the photos really can't do it justice.

Originally Posted by vecta
Being a local, you've impressed me with your culinary efforts in SYD with the Fish Markets, Chinatown (multiple venue's) and Mamak being some of my regulars!

Well done!
That makes me extremely happy that we ate at the good places, and avoided all the tourist traps

Originally Posted by LDNConsultant
That Sunset grill seafood platter!!!!!! Can you bring that back to California!!
The seafood platter never had a chance of making it back to the US! Although I must admit that even for two big eaters like ourselves, we struggled to wipe it clean.

Originally Posted by polandspringuy
This is an amazing report! Looks like a wonderful trip. Jealous of your dive with the turtle...
Thanks! Interesting note about the turtles - we asked our dive master why the turtles were so relaxed and receptive to being touched and played with. Apparently, the coral at that dive site is a narcotic for them, so they were all just swimming around while stoned

Originally Posted by nemme99
Great trip report. Looks like an amazing honeymoon. Well done!

I went to Sri Lanka earlier this year - partially because of the ex-CMB fare - and loved it. During my 11 days I did spend a night at Fort Galle which was wonderful. Sadly, I did not stay at the Amangalla but I did have an arak sour on the patio and decided I must stay there next time.
Very jealous of your 11 day trip, 2 nights really wasn't enough.

Originally Posted by tomofmaine
Yes, I fully agree that Sri Lanka is a wonderful country.. And regardless of the comings and goings of ex-CMB fares, Sri Lanka is worth a visit. In fact, this June I will return for my third trip in three years.

To the OP, great trip report.. I'm glad you enjoyed the Amangalla. I never stayed there but I had many a happy G&T on the beautiful veranda.
Originally Posted by bhamsan01
I'm really glad that you took the time to explore Sri Lanka rather than just using it as a starting point for cheap F fares through Europe and the Middle East. While I unfortunately never had the chance to book one of the famous ex-CMB fares, I always wondered about Sri Lanka as a destination to justify the stop at CMB. Most flyers usually just spend a few hours at the airport and are on their way.

I've also found that, when planning trips the destination rather than the routing when plannin trips. I'd love to fly NRT in JAL F, except route SAN-ORD-NRT since ORD-NRT is much more available (plus, its an extra couple hours in F). I know she wouldn't bother to investigate, but I figure after a while she might start asking more questions.

Keep it going, excited to hear the rest!
It's funny where some of these great deals take us in the world, as I had a similar amount of apprehension about visiting Sri Lanka as i did with Myanmar last year for my ex-RGN trip. I guess it just takes a great F fare to get over the hump!
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Old Dec 18, 2013, 5:04 pm
  #40  
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Originally Posted by SFO777
Absolutely sensational report with amazing pics. What camera did you use?
The Conrad looks wonderful.

Thanks for posting those pics from Amangalla. We "have to" go back to CMB next year to complete our xCMB RT.
Your report has me thinking that we may want to stop for a couple of days, instead of just staying at the airport and connecting onto another flight.
Thanks, SFO777! I use a Nikon P7700 which is just a point-and-shoot but I've found to be a good SLR-alternative.

I really do recommend spending a couple days there, and especially at the Amangalla. Maybe some of my pics can even help convince Mrs. SFO777 that it's worth a visit

Originally Posted by tomofmaine
@SFO777.. Highly recommended! The new expressway makes Galle much more accessible for a couple-day jaunt. I love then Galle-Colombo train, but I'm not sure how Mrs. SFO777 would feel about it.
+1 can't speak to the improvement the expressway has made, but the ride from CMB to Galle wasn't bad. Approximately a 30 minute stretch of freeway from the airport to Colombo, and then about an hour on another freeway from Colombo to Galle. The bottleneck is getting through Colombo, which took about an hour in rush hour. So all in, approximately 2.5 hours maximum.

Originally Posted by FlyingDoctorwu
Great great trip.. Emirates Wolgan Valley looks awesome and I was just looking at tickets to MLE today....

But Amangalla looks awesome... we have our first Aman experience(s) in Bali coming up soon, so looks quite promising...

FDW
Sounds like you have a couple great trips coming up soon! My wife is already pushing for another Aman stay, and the ones in Bali definitely look great.

Originally Posted by worldtraveller73
Nice report.

Sri Lanka is intriguing. It's the perfect point redemption place since you can easily access the Maldives on a cheap fare from Sri Lanka and the reward availability to get to Sri Lanka is usually pretty good ex-BKK/SIN.

I'd really like to experience the Aman Resorts in Sri Lanka. I did see that the Amanwella website described the resort as "windy" for part of the year... Your report on Amangalla shows better than the website photos.
Maybe I should email some of the photos to the GM to have the current ones on the website replaced

The "windy" part makes sense since I heard that area is known for surfing, but of course wouldn't be great if looking to relax on the beach.

Originally Posted by hawklx
Thanks for the wonderful report and amazing photos.

And nice to see people from the same profession on the forum, assuming your handle is not randomly made up , though I seriously doubt anyone would want to make that up
Glad to see a fellow actuary on FT! And I am definitely 100% a boring actuary, which is probably evident by the fact that it's in my handle which demonstrates the lack of creativity
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Old Dec 19, 2013, 10:12 am
  #41  
 
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Originally Posted by sfoactuary
It's funny where some of these great deals take us in the world, as I had a similar amount of apprehension about visiting Sri Lanka as i did with Myanmar last year for my ex-RGN trip. I guess it just takes a great F fare to get over the hump!
If anything's going to do it, its either a great F fare or an Anthony Bourdain TV show.
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Old Dec 19, 2013, 1:45 pm
  #42  
 
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Looking forward to the BA section, if they can't even beat united now they really are in trouble! Maybe you and SFO777 should compare notes!
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Old Dec 19, 2013, 2:47 pm
  #43  
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9. Colombo to London via Dubai: Emirates First Class

The was the first time in my life that I was actually excited to head home from vacation. As I had mentioned earlier, I had booked an ex-CMB ticket that would take us from CMB to LHR via DXB with both legs on Emirates F. Our CMB-DXB flight was a 9:40am departure and we headed to the airport around 7am since I was nervous about traffic, and had read that Emirates is notoriously strict about the check-in cutoff times. Lucky for us there was barely any traffic, and we were checked-in and sitting in the Emirates lounge by 7:30am. After getting yelled at by my wife for once again rushing to the airport only to sit around, I grabbed some breakfast/coffee. The lounge was very specious and clean, but the food offerings weren't that impressive.

View from the EK lounge at CMB


We headed to the gate around T-45 just as boarding was starting. I had been a bit worried about an aircraft substitution which has been known to happen on this route (downgrade to 2-cabin aircraft) but we were in luck today. It's funny how much I stress and worry about things leading up to a flight, when in reality 99% of the time things work out just fine

Our flight featured Emirates F Suites, and as others have mentioned, the first thought that jumped into my mind was BLING. Everything about bling-air just feels so over-the-top, but after spending the day in Dubai I see that it's really just an extension of the vibe there.

The seat is extremely spacious (although not as wide as SQ) and features both a handheld and tablet for controlling the seat/lighting/IFE, a personal mini-bar, snack basket, vanity area with mirror and lotions/scents, and a large TV screen. The suites also have doors that can close which are motorized and are controlled by the tablet. Everything that moves in the suite is motorized, and on this morning flight it didn't bother me, but on my next flight when trying to sleep the sounds can definitely add up when the entire cabin is moving around and adjusting to the point that it woke me up while wearing earplugs.

But for this 4-hour flight all was good as I felt the high of getting to experience a new airline. We found the service to be great, starting with dates and Arabic coffee served during boarding, all the way through the meal service. Just before landing we were also given fast track passes which helped expedite the immigration process.

At long last, finally get to try bling air




The suite




Tablet that controls seat/IFE/lighting


Handheld control for IFE


Personal minibar


Vanity area with lotions and scents


Arabic coffee and date


IFE was amazing, watching Ip Man


Lunch menu


Champagne and nuts


Arabic mezze, very bland. Can get better stuff at a schwarma place near my office


Soup which was pretty watery


Fried rice


Wife's ravioli dish which she gave two thumbs down


Dessert
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Old Dec 19, 2013, 2:48 pm
  #44  
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9. Colombo to London via Dubai: Emirates First Class (cont'd)

I'll cover our 13-hour layover in Dubai in the next post, but instead will jump to our next flight aboard the A380. The seats are actually the same and are located on the upper deck. It was a full house tonight which was interesting since it was a 3am departure from DXB to LHR. DXB really felt like a 24-hour airport as the departure board was full with 2am and 3am flights that departed around the same time as ours.

Since it's a sleeper flight, we were given the choice of eating immediately or before landing. I also knew that I wanted to shower (just for the novelty of it, as I had just showered an hour ago the lounge), but the best time slot they could give me was 3 hours prior to arrival. This would mean I'd only get about 3 hours of sleep before having to wake up for my shower. Instead, I decided to shower immediately, and then I could sleep for about 5 hours before waking up for breakfast. During the boarding process we also received and amenity kit, slippers, and pajamas which are my new favorites that I'm even wearing at this moment as I type this

About 30 minutes after take-off once we had leveled out, the flight attendant came by and invited me over to the shower spa. She showed me briefly how it worked, and after that I was left alone to enjoy the most unnecessary shower I've ever taken in my life. Nevertheless, it was fun and I was able to manage my 5 minutes of water to make sure I didn't walk out with a head still full of suds. After exiting, the bathroom attendant gave me a detox juice and some fruit. One thing I found very impressive was the fact that there is a dedicated bathroom attendant that cleans the two bathrooms after every use.

I returned to my suite with turndown service already completed, and was able to close the door and doze off for the next few hours. I woke up just an hour prior to landing and ate a unremarkable breakfast just before touching down in LHR.

Amenity kit


Shower spa


Sink/vanity area


Finished just in time


Final thoughts on Emirates - going in my expectation was that bling-air would be a lot more style than substance. But I really don't feel like that was the case as the seat, the IFE system (ICE) and the service were probably the best we have come across on our travels. Even with the shower aside which many feel is a gimmick, what other airline has a bathroom attendant that cleans after every use. The First Class Terminal at DXB is the best lounge we've ever been in, and chauffer service to/from DXB during our layover was a really nice touch as we didn't have to worry about transport at all.

The ONLY thing that we didn't like was...the food on board. And that's a big thing for us. We didn't get to experience a dinner service as we only had lunch and breakfast, but in both cases we were not impressed at all. So for those that are keeping score, my wife cast her vote that SQ > EK and I would have to agree with her.

Last edited by sfoactuary; Dec 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm
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Old Dec 19, 2013, 4:26 pm
  #45  
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10. Spending the Day at the Dubai Mall + Emirates First Class Terminal

We landed in DXB just after 1pm with our DXB-LHR flight not leaving until 3am, leaving us with an extremely long layover in Dubai. Normally, I'd be perfectly happy being a lounge-potato as I can easily spend 8+ hours just sitting in a comfortable chair with wifi and an abundance of food and drink at my finger tips. And if I had been traveling alone, I very well might of just parked my butt in the lounge for the entire layover.

But since I was with my wife who loves to explore new places, I knew better than to suggest staying at the lounge for the better half of a day, and made plans to visit Dubai instead. At least I was able to convince her that we'd be able to have an excellent dinner in the lounge, so why spend money in the city on food. So we agreed to split the time, staying in the city until 7pm and then heading back to the airport.

I explored various options for spending 5-6 hours in Dubai, and the best thing I could come up with was to walk around the Dubai mall area, and visit the Burj Khalifa (I'm sure there are others that could have come up with a much better plan ) Since we wouldn't be booking a hotel room I arbitrarily picked a nearby hotel since the chauffeur service needs an address ahead of time. I ended up picking the Address Hotel Dubai Mall which is adjacent to the mall and worked out very well.

We began walking through the mall, and it is HUGE. There are literally stores from all around the world selling anything you can imagine. We headed straight for the Burj Khalifa and were planning to visit the top, but the earliest appointment we could get was at 10pm, over 8 hours away. They did offer immediate access, but at triple the price (approximately $100 vs. the standard $30 entrance fee). I kicked myself for not making a reservation ahead of time, and we decided that it just wasn't worth it. Instead, we grabbed a mix bowl of cheese and caramel corn from Garrett's and went outside into the sweltering heat to check-out the Burj Khalifa and also stuck around for a water show.

Burj Khalifa


Water show


Rest of the buildings look so small


Outside the Dubai Mall


We went back inside, walked around some more, and realized that we had only killed about two hours with three more to go. We weren't in the mood to do any real shopping, and had already basically window shopped across the entire mall.

So we decided to head up to the cinema on the top floor and watched Hunger Games II. We decided to splurge on the Platinum experience which is basically a separate movie theater within the theater. Each "seat" is a recliner which also comes with a blanked and pillow, and there are only 32 seats in the whole theater. Overall, it was a pretty cool experience as it made it feel like you were just watching the movie at home.

Dubai Mall Aquarium


Only in Dubai, a $7.8M model car


As Derek Zoolander would say, "what is this, a car for ants?!"


Cool indoor fountain


Platinum theater bar/lounge


We met our chauffeur at the same spot we got dropped-off, and headed back to the airport. We arrived through the separate first class/business class drop-off area, and security and immigration lines were very short. Before long, we had arrived at the Emirates First Class Terminal.

There was no confusion on my part as I'd read several trip reports before - the lounge is literally an entire terminal, which includes it's own shopping area, restaurants, lounges/bar, cigar bar, showers, and relaxation room. There is a spa access from outside the lounge, and we each went in for a quick 15-minute back massage.

The lounge is simply amazing. Of course we were there in the late evening and into the early morning, but I'd guess that for every 100 seats available in the lounge, only 1 was actually occupied. It really felt like the entire terminal was empty of other passengers, but there were a large number of staff walking around ready to assist at a moment's notice.

We headed straight to the restaurant, where a large buffet spread and a la carte menu were offered. The food here was fantastic, and the dining area felt very upscale as if we were dining at a nice restaurant. After dinner, we both showered before our spa treatments, then headed to the relaxation room where we were able to get a few hours nap before our flight. This area was extremely quiet, and each of the recliners had a blanked and pillow.

Around T-45 we mobilized from the relaxation room and headed to our gate, which features boarding directly from the terminal only for F passengers.

Dining room




Arabic Mezze


Bread basket


Spiced tea


Salad


Lamb with polenta, delicious


Creme caramel dessert


Relaxation area
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