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The Asian Adventure - QR/MH/AK - the one that nearly did not happen!

The Asian Adventure - QR/MH/AK - the one that nearly did not happen!

Old Feb 22, 15, 5:01 am
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The Asian Adventure - QR/MH/AK - the one that nearly did not happen!

Hello All

Welcome to my longest trip report to date, and hopefully not too boring

We normally take a break in September/October before the Christmas Madness at work, however last year was too busy so we decided on a break in February.

Asia would be the destination, how to get there took some time. We are both BA Card Holders, and I needed some TP's to get back silver and the wife to keep hers, so we stuck on One World.

At 6ft 2, my preference, budget allowing, is business to allow for a more comfortable journey. At time of booking in November 2014, BA was too expensive to justify, circa 2,500 GBP return per person.

I came across Qatar sale, and always wanted to give them a go. It would also allow us a stop over to break up the journey and meet my old school friend on way back from Singapore.
It also gave us chance to try 4 different aircraft, all new for my wife.
The price was a good value 3,500 GBP for both of us.
So we were all booked, it just remained to sort out what we would do for the time we were there, the plan broke down as follows:

5th Feb Qatar - LHR - DOH A333
5th Feb - Overnight at HIA Hotel Doha
6th Feb Qatar - DOH-SIN B787-800
6th-9th Feb - Conrad Singapore
9th Feb - Air Asia Sin - Langkawi
9th Feb - 14th Feb Tanjung Rhi Resort Langkawi
14th Feb - MH LGK - KUL
14th Feb - Hilton KL
15th Feb - MH KUL - BKI (Kota Kinabalu)
15th Feb - Hyatt Regency KK
16th Feb - Up a mountain
17th Feb - Hyatt Regency KK
18th Feb - Air Asia BKI - SIN
18th Feb - Marina Sands Hotel
19th Feb - Qatar SIN-DOH B787-800
19th Feb - HIA Hotel Doha
20th Feb - Qatar DOH - LHR A319 All Business

We planned a good mix of rest and activity, and a chance to see a few different places and try a mix of aircraft and airlines.


Here is link to full routing details:

http://www.greatcirclemapper.net/en/...OTBD-EGLL.html



Part 1 - The Trip Is Cancelled?!?!

Okay so it was not cancelled, but it was a close shave, and the worst experience I have had when traveling

So what happened?

So the day before our flight, I tried online check in, now bearing in mind Qatar website is woeful, it did not work. I was not too surprised as my wife being Russian is subject to visa requirements, so I thought it may be due to this.
On day of departure we arrive at LHR T4 at 06:00 for 08:00 flight. We are greeted and asked to First Class desk for check in, good start so far, thats when it all went down hill.
Girl tries for a while to check in, a few frantic calls are made and her face drops, sorry Sir you need to go to the ticket desk, this is when I start to sweat.

Off we go, very nice lady at ticket desk, hello sir, she says very calmly and softly, we need 3,500 GBP from you for your ticket, you have not paid.
Okay, so thats the point I hit the floor and went sheet white,

Ehhh, what do you mean?

You have not paid for the ticket

But I have confirmed booking, and this was paid in November.

Now excuse me for going on, but we need to rewind to November and the booking disaster
I booked online, went through all process and went through the bank security checks, money taken great, confirmation page and boom the site crashes - just great! No email comes, so I call Qatar, closed for day, this is going well.
No problem, check bank money is taken. I will call in morning

So next day I call, and after a while get through to someone. Yes sir your booking is on hold, we need payment. After much discussion and phone calls, they admit they have payment, and give me confirmation code, I check manage my booking and right enough it is confirmed and all good. Thank you very much and see you on 5th February 2015 - no more thought given to it

Now back to check in, and the claims they have no payment, after telling this story, still nothing they can do, yet they some how have the authorisation code for the booking, how they have that if they don't have money?!
Anyway, nothing can be done, if we want our holiday and get our flight we must pay another 3,500 GBP, so I bite the bullet pay, and get on our way, assuming I can sort this at Qatar HQ in Doha - that's another mistake!

So it is 07:15 now, we check in, just, and head off - I am a lot of money lighter, sweating, pale and pissed off, no chance to see the lounge or the T4 viewing deck, thanks for a great start. More to follow on this saga later, lets finally get on a plane and calm down!

Flight 1
QR6 - A333 (at time of booking was showing A346) - 3 class
Aircraft - A7-AEAA
First Flight - 10/09/04
Seats 10K/J
Schedule: 0800-1745
Actual: 0905-1824

Our ride for today


Nice welcome on board and to our seats the single row of business class directly behind first class and in front of galley. This was no issue for a day flight and it is a nice private area, it is noisy with galley if night flight.
Seats are older but I found them very comfortable and plenty space, although very little storage space, good size screen.


Full flight today, some interesting people at check in, including the chap who decided he would use first check in, he and wife in business - children all 6 were in economy, wanted upgrade for all of them, told flight is full - no matter he went to speak to Embassy - came back flight still full. Once on board same chap decides to walk around and make sure flight is full in case there was any empty seats.

Welcome drinks offered and juice and newspapers






Some shots of seats and controls










View into First Class



At seat, pillow and thick blanket, as well as Giorgio Armani kit, pictures later on this.
Crew came round to welcome themselves. Pilot came on for usual formalities and apologised for delay, due to wind conditions we would need de-iced, never mind I was happy just to be on plane!

Once in air, service commenced with breakfast, menu as follows. I have to say it was okay menu, I just felt it was lacking something, maybe just as I did not fancy much on it.
What we did get was very nice though and well presented, and it is nice to have eat at anytime






My breakfast, the healthy one





Most happy to have fresh made coffee, well Latte

The wife's breakfast, steak and omlette




Over the four flights we got to experience a wide range of crew. I have to say overall they are excellent with great service, but for this leg, I would later read a thread on the BA forum, and saw something CWS wrote, which I would have to agree with. They were very nervous, and almost scared to talk to customers, as if they are being monitored or checked all the time, maybe it was just this flight, as the rest were better.

After watching a movie, was time for a snack. The wife decided to try the Pol Roger 2006 Rose Champagne, while I dont drink I went for the So Julien Bubbly which was very good and looked almost the same as the Rose. We decided on a snack on the Nicoise Salad and the wife enjoyed some cakes. I also refreshed myself ahead of landing













Well stocked rest rooms





A nice day for flying



So after a very enjoyable flight, we arrived late, but no matter we had long stay over at Doha, and the new airport - more on this in Part 2

Last edited by gav0106; Feb 24, 15 at 6:06 am
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Old Feb 22, 15, 5:46 am
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Part 2 - The HIA Hotel Doha

Welcome to Part 2, our stay over at Doha.

At time of booking flights, we decided we would meet my old school friend in Doha, either on way out or return. It turned out it would be way back, but I left long layover both ways to make sure.
Due to this I decided to try the HIA Hotel at Doha, now it is not cheap, but they have a captive audience I guess

HIA Hotel Doha
Rate: 170GBP - 12 hour stay
Deluxe Room

The hotel is easy to find, but have very strict rules so be aware. You must have a real boarding card, not an online print out, something to do with security. Chap at check in was very surprised when I told him we just walked off plane straight here with no checks

We arrived off the LHR flight, and we were directed straight into the terminal on the same floor, if you go up escalators to Transfer you have to go through security again, we had to do this on way back from Singapore so I can only guess there is agreement security wise with London and not Singapore

We headed to the main area - the big teddy bear


The hotel is well signed and on level 3 above the Oryx lounge and below Vitality Leisure Centre

Main Reception



Check in was quick and painless - do note, although advance purchase rates, they do not take any money until guests arrive.

It seems rooms are all on 3rd floor and we were given deluxe room with view of Teddy, mmm, well this is view:


The room is modern, good size and clean. Good range of channels on TV, Ritual toiletries in bathroom, and T/C facilities.
Downside:
Noisy, there is a wooden shutter to pull over windows, but you still hear noise from Terminal, I would highly recommend a room on opposite side.
Finish is not great, some plugs loose etc.
However staff are great, and they do actually want to hear your thoughts and they take it in board.

Overall a decent place to get some rest if you have long layover

The Room















The Vitality Centre

One benefit of staying at hotel is free access to gym and pool. This cost $40 to use if you want to pay and again is great place to pass some time.

The pool is located on the 4th floor on the bridge connecting the two sides of the airport, and is nice and warm.

Great new gym with modern kit.

Changing rooms have all you need and have some areas for massages, which as I found out are not changing rooms. There is no where to change really just one small bench.

Nice jacuzzi though ^










After a good stay and rest it was time for the next flight. We did visit the lounge, but I will review this on the way back.

Up next Part 3 - The Dream
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Old Feb 22, 15, 7:08 am
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Part 3 DOH - SIN The Dream

Before our next flight, I should update on the ticket nightmare

At Doha, I headed to the Business Lounge desk, to see what they could advise, they directed me back through transit security to ticket desk, well that was a waste of time
One member of staff, who was not interested in her job one bit. I asked to see manager or duty manager. I was told no-one around. I kept pushing and finally she agreed to find someone, she then came back told me to take seat as he was busy. When I said this may take some time, she just smiled and said yes
I gave up at that point and returned to lounge where I requested a duty manager come to speak to me.
Finally someone appeared, I explained the situation, he gave me his email and told me he would inform the team, and I should email the facts.

So on arrival to Singapore I sent the email, this was on Sunday 8th Feb. I then heard nothing, so I send email on Wednesday 11th to see if they have go my first email. I got one line reply saying they are looking into it. I sent another email on Wednesday 18th Feb, and it is now Sunday 22nd Feb, over 2 weeks since this all happened and still no reply. So far not impressed with the Qatar booking or office staff, which is a shame as the fights have been great.

So thats where we are with the whole ticket carry one, time to get back to planes!

Flight 2
QR938 DOH-SIN
787-800 - A7-BCN First Flight May 2014
Seats 3K/4K - window seats.
Schedule - 09:05/21:30
Actual - 09:10/20:58

I forget which Gate we left from I think D gate. It was a bus gate and far away. They are building a transfer train which was being tested while we were there.
We arrived at gate at final call, even though we were in plenty of time. We went through and held at door just as business class bus turned up and the business class passengers were invited forward. It was nice to get outside for a bit and feel some air!

The business class bus





I managed a couple of photos on way up steps








We were warmly welcomed on board and shown to seats. First impressions are good, large open cabin. Plenty space and light, and very very clean.
We had seat 3/4K, window each. Middle seats nice if together, but we prefer window and you have storage above you, and also air vents which middle seats do not have. Note row 5, only has 1 window which you can only see 1/2 out of.

Cold or Hot towel offered as well as drinks, went for the fresh mind and lemon juice ^


Seat is very comfortable, and again blanket, pillow and amenity kit all there as were noise cancelling headphones and water. This time more storage, one with the head phones and water in it,and larger space beside window.
Great large screen, and good choice of movies etc. The map was great as well. The slightly annoying thing is the hand control which is not best to use and slots in space at side of your arm and I kept activating it by mistake.

Seat offer good privacy, but would be good to have something on side to allow more privacy from person across aisle.

Some shots of cabin and seat


















Again food on demand, and was of excellent quality and presentation, just enough. Different wines this time, I forgot to take photos, I remember wife had Tattinger Rose and Villa Maria Pinot Noir

Food








After food and a movie, I decided on a walk and got a shock. The plane was empty, maybe 30/40 people in front economy section, and none in whole of back, crew said it was due to being a Friday. Also worth to mention crew on this leg were a lot more chatty and happy to hand out lots of Godiva chocolates
The bar in the business section was set up with champagne and snacks during flight and there was always one crew member there, they said they had to be there.

Some inflight shots


Economy









Business Cabin














Some Outside Shots










All photos are from an I-Phone 6 or Canon 5D

Last edited by gav0106; Feb 22, 15 at 7:35 am
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Old Feb 22, 15, 7:10 am
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Stunning pool!
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Old Feb 22, 15, 7:34 am
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Part 4 Conrad Singapore

After a great flight and very smooth, some bumps over India, but nothing much, we arrived at Changai and finally we were free!

Immigration was quick and no wait, this flight arrives at a good time, missed the main rush.

Our driver from the Conrad was waiting and soon enough we were on our way, 20 minutes or so later, we were pulling up.

It was great to be back, some years since I had been and the skyline has changed a lot, but nice to see a somewhere you remember

Staff were expecting us, and check in as brief with all Diamond extras mentioned.

I had booked standard room, on advance purchase, rate of around 450GBP for 3 nights.

It was not till we got to room, I understood they had upgraded us to a Centennial Suite. A great room, with welcome cake, teddy, fruit and chocolates. View is not much, but room makes up for it

Some photos from room













Highlight of hotel is the staff and the lounge. Fantastic setting and great spread for afternoon tea, evening drinks and breakfast, highly recommend it. Had breakfast in main restaurant one day, I mean who needs ice cream at breakfast, well in Singapore they do

The Executive Lounge

















All in all a great stay and location is perfect, some shots from our first evening a walk by the marina









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Old Feb 22, 15, 7:49 am
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Part 5 Out and About in Singapore

So you fly half way across the world, from cold wet winter to warm humid climate, whats the first thing you do, run a 10km race of course

I always try to get a run in where ever I go, and I found one while we were in Singapore, a 10km fun run. It was for a Canadian Charity called Terry Fox Foundation which helps people with Cancer, which is also means something to me, working in a large hospital, so I signed us up. It was a 0700 start, in East Coast Park, near the airport, and the place was really busy for a Sunday am, it is a great place though and worth a visit.

A shot at the start, you can imagine by the end I was a lot more sweaty



We did lots of walking, including Little India and Botanics







We also had a great dinner at Joie on Orchard Road, an all vegetarian restaurant, you have 7 course, and it was amazing value

[CENTER]





Of course, we headed to the zoo, and it continues to be great, although they have moved the Panda's to a different area and you need to pay for another ticket to see them

Place your bets - Squirrel or Snake?!?







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Old Feb 22, 15, 9:37 am
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Part 6 AK733 SIN-LGK

After a great couple of days in Singapore it was time to head for our next adventure, 5 nights on the tropical paradise that is Langkawi.
This would be the rest part of our holiday, yet I seemed to know we would still do plenty!

For this leg, I booked Air Asia, simply for timings and price. We paid 340 S$, around 170GBP, this was for premium flex, which allowed changes, baggage, seat selection in premium seats and meal on board.

Check in commences 2 weeks prior to departure for online.

AK733 SIN - LGK
A320 - A7-BCU - 8 years old
Seat 1D/F. I picked these hoping E would stay empty and it did
Schedule - 1045/1215
Actual - 1055/1224

We arrived at Changai T1, in plenty of time. No wait at check in, and dedicated counter for Premium Flex. One bag was 25kg v 20kg allowance, nothing said and priority baggage lapels were added.

No lounge this time, but at Singapore it doesnt matter, so much to see and do. We walked around, went to outside Cactus Garden Butterfly Garden, Costa Coffee, to feel at home and then onto the gate for some spotting before the flight










I forgot at Changai no security till the gate, and then you stuck in a pen with nothing to do and no toilets etc. Anyway slight delay due to late inbound, but wow do they turn these planes fast, 15 minutes and that will not be the record for Air Asia. Soon enough we were invited to board first and despite everyone scrambling to get on board, they were strict with the rules ^

Our chariot awaits


Seats were okay, pretty standard really, ones with red covers are premium, ie front 5 rows and emergency exits, others are grey. Our luck was in despite full flight 1E stayed empty.
Leg room was good for me, not really a lot else to say about it, good flight, and pretty decent chicken pasta with water. They serve all pre-order meals first and take your boarding pass and stamp it, in case you cheeky enough to try and get another portion







A smooth quick flight and soon we were on the ground at LGK, a quick walk - no photos on way to arrivals. First through immigrations and first bags off, good job Air Asia ^



Waiting for us was our driver from our resort

We booked the Tanjung Rhu Resort simply by chance when looking for places on Expedia it came up as offer of the day, we paid 750GBP for 5 nights B&B with airport transfers, in a suite, compared to asking price of 2500GBP, a good deal in my eyes ^

It is a small island and the drive only takes 20 minutes.

The resort is on the northern end, the last resort, and you can see coast of Thailand in distance. It is round the cover from the Four Seasons. In my view it has better location then Four Seasons. You are more secluded, better beach, there is public beach where tours to mangroves go from, but there is plenty of security. The Four Seasons are also beside a public beach and have view of a cement factory

We are taking to the suite for check in - cold towels and juice await. The resort is only half open. They are in middle of rennovations and the room we are in, has been done.

I ask why during our stay not one builder is there, they said as they are full, they stop work so they dont upset guests, good call ^

Back to the room, here are the photos, very nice design, shame the view from one balcony is a building site, and the finish is a bit dodgy, things hanging off, TV's not working and dont even expect wi-fi.



Proper Coffee Machine!



3 TV's



First Balcony looking into resort

















The resort is well spread out and you never feel busy. Some areas are closed. All restaurants are in one area. There is outside Italian, indoor chefs table and another indoor what I would say is mixed.
They did offer us upgrade to all inclusive for an extra 100GBP per day. I dont drink and wife not that much, so we decided against it, and we would be spending some days away. However it is good value if you do eat and drink and stay there all week.

2 pools, one for kids and and one adults only. Watersports area and great spa, with massage staff from Bali who killed me

Food is top quality and breakfast great choice. Staff are highlight, plenty of them and willing to help at all times.

Some photos from the resort





Local Pet





From Chef's Table









Yes thats right - Avocado Dessert, dont ask me it just works!



Trying to catch dinner



Enjoying a drink at the local bar



Adults Pool





After 3 days, we picked up our hire car for a couple days to see the island, we paid 60GBP for 2 days and petrol is crazy cheap around 0.30GBP per liter

We went on the cable car up one mountain and then onto the sky bridge, good to do, but go when the cruise ships are not in very busy, we paid for express ticket, well worth it as we went straight up instead of a 1 hour wait

View from Bridge


I also treated the wife to another flight, this time a helicopter, he first time. It was around 300GBP for 20 minutes. Great guys, and ask you were you want to go. Interesting you get to hear air traffic control as they have to go through them, in Malaysia they are very strict, the pilot was Irish, and it was a great way to see some of the 90 odd islands that make up Langkawi





It is a beautiful island and worth a visit, I shall leave you with the night view



Still to come:

A mountain, suffering after a mountain, an infinity pool like no other and the long journey home

Last edited by gav0106; Feb 22, 15 at 10:48 am
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Old Feb 22, 15, 10:38 am
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What a great report. Thanks for sharing!

Some good pictures as well.

I also agree about the QR staff, they do seem nervous, especially if you try to have a casual chat with them in the galley. I thought maybe I just had that effect on them.

If your ticketing troubles don't get fixed pretty quickly after you finish the journey, I would forget the complaints route and proceed directly to a polite but firm Letter Before Action and then a MCOL against their UK ticketing office a fortnight later. If you paid by credit card you also have a claim against the issuer.

Originally Posted by gav0106 View Post
A smooth quick flight and soon we were on the ground at LGW
I admit I did a bit of a double take when I read that.
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Old Feb 22, 15, 10:47 am
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Thanks Calchas, good spot on LGW, think I am still sleeping

Thanks for tip on ticketing, was not sure what next step I should have taken
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Old Feb 22, 15, 11:19 am
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Thanks for sharing. Hope your ticketing woes get rectified ASAP.

Also, thanks for participating in the Terry Fox run. Terry Fox is a legend in my neck of the woods. If you have time, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Fox.
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Old Feb 22, 15, 1:31 pm
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Originally Posted by theshaun View Post
Thanks for sharing. Hope your ticketing woes get rectified ASAP.

Also, thanks for participating in the Terry Fox run. Terry Fox is a legend in my neck of the woods. If you have time, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Fox.
I echo these points. Looks like a great TR though!
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Old Feb 22, 15, 4:52 pm
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Great TR, the hotel in Doha looks like a great place to visit if you have a long layover. The pool looked awesome for being in an airport. I will have to remember to try to fly Qatar on a Friday to experience an empty flight, lately all the flights I am on seem to be fully booked. Thanks for sharing the great photos.
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Old Feb 23, 15, 4:26 am
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Part 7 LGK - KUL MH Biz

Okay so after 5 nights in the paradise island, it was time to move on

We drove to the airport arriving at 09:30, with a stop off to fuel up. There is a petrol station about 1km from the airport, just off large roundabout as you enter airport

Our rep from the car hire company was waiting for us, and after a quick check we were allowed on our way

Always amuses me at LGK that the duty free shops are on the public side, anyone can use them, the island as some special deal with duty free.

You go through a small security check where hand luggage is marked and then onto check in. Check in was just opening as we arrived.

Now we had booked economy originally as a very short flight, fare was 300MYR, or around 60GBP. Once booked via MH wesbite, I was offered chance to upgrade via auction. You basically enter an amount you want to pay, a coloured dial indicates if your offer is deemed to be high or low, ie green or red, I went for amber, 250MYR or 50GBP for 2 people.
Two days before flight an email came through confirming we had been given our upgrade.

So off to check in, no wait and bags tagged and on way. Asked about lounge, was told there is none, never mind

Had wander round the shops, and then we headed to gate. You go through a passport check, and just before security I noticed a lounge - Plaza Premium Lounge, seen as we had a while to wait still, I went in to see what the deal was.

Price showed as 125MYR per person or 25GBP not worth it, but girl looked at time and said, ohh still breakfast, it will be 20MYR or 4GBP each!! Off we went in. very quiet, small lounge but good for what we paid. Some snacks, coffee machine, free wifi, toilets and business centre:







A good little lounge, but does make you wonder why MH dont offer it for use.

We then went through security, this is in two lanes, one for International and one for domestic.

At gate, boarding was announced with biz first. A nice walk to plane, and quick couple of photos before anyone shouted at me










Flight 4
Langkawi - Kuala Lumpur
MH1433
B737-800 9M-MXE First flight 26/7/11
Seats 1D/F
Schedule: 1130/1235
Actual: 1148/1249

On board settled into seats, nice to see proper short haul biz seats 2/2 layout with IFE. They were comfortable for this short journey, and much better than BA seats for a longer short haul. Blankets and pillows were at seat. Cold towel and juice was offered, my new favourite Guava.

Crew were okay, did their job and that was about it, no interaction and no smiles.

Safety video was displayed, we did not see video, as no-one told us to take out our screens, as we were in front row, and I did not even think to do so. Full class in business so I was surprised we got the upgrade

Quick flight not much to report, a quick bite to eat satay which was nice then we landed and the long taxi to KL T1 Domestic gates, off first, and bags off first, so again good result.

We then took taxi to KL Hilton, I forgot how far it was! 80MYR later, we were there, I think this is about the cheapest you can get taxi and we were lucky with the traffic, normally costs around 100MYR.






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Old Feb 23, 15, 7:01 am
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Brilliant reporting and very nice photos ! Keep them coming
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Old Feb 23, 15, 8:42 am
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Part 8 Kuala Lumpur

For the first time on the trip, I felt underwhelmed.

Check in at Hilton KL was standard, very standard. Not much interaction, no welcome, no welcome as a Diamond Member. We booked an Grand Executive Suite - around 900MYR for the night, 180GBP. No other upgrade was given, I kind of hoped for the lifestyle suite
I looked to check in online day before but decided against it to see what would be offered at hotel.

We had room 2018, I would say take room on this side. Since I last went they have built a big mall and couple of new buildings on the other side which faces the city and used to have good view - not any more.

We face out to the main gardens/lake and was nice view. There is a highway but little noise.

Room - well it was great. Guest toilet as you come in, large dining table and Nespresso Machine, although I don't really see what all the fuss is about, not that great coffee
Area for working, a walk in wardrobe, large bathroom and good bed, with nice large windows.

A welcome fruit platter did arrive at some point ^






















Lounge

Good size and we made it in time for afternoon tea, it was a good spread. Evening again great spread, table service drinks. Service was poor, it was busy but lots of staff on, and they forgot my drink. Staff were poor, just not interested much.










We had breakfast early in main restaurant as we had flight to catch, wish I had more time it was great!
One thing I noticed, hotels here seem to have much better spreads in lounges and breakfast rooms than back in UK/Europe, maybe has they have nicer fruits and food

A few random shots from KL. We took the tour bus round city, what a waste of time and money. No audio guide at all, just sat on bus for 3 hours. They stopped for 5 minute break for photos - in other words 10 minutes so driver can have coffee and smoke break





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