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A Tale of Two Islands - SQ Suites, TG F/J - Conrad Koh Samui and Wreck Diving

A Tale of Two Islands - SQ Suites, TG F/J - Conrad Koh Samui and Wreck Diving

Old Mar 13, 16, 3:59 pm
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A Tale of Two Islands - SQ Suites, TG F/J - Conrad Koh Samui and Wreck Diving





Planning


After very kindly offering to test out SQ Suites on a short hop between SIN and PVG, I was able to verify to my girlfriend that the product passed muster

Upon my return I immediately began to pore over the SQ award chart, noting the sweet spots in the chart as well as picking out the availability trends online. Flying SQ Suites long-haul was going to be the focal point of our next trip, the only question was how and when. I'd gotten a taste and now I wanted more, way more.



SQ already has some pretty hefty fuel surcharges and we all know that departing ex-LHR can add quite substantially to the cost of any flight. Moreover, the award availability in Suites tends to be fairly poor, with two seats on a single flight being a distinct rarity. As such, I started to look elsewhere for a European departure point...

We live very close to LCY and have started to use it as a feeder mechanism for our long haul flights (a flight to ZRH or FRA for two is significantly cheaper than a taxi to LHR plus 2x APD). We can get from our front door to either ZRH or FRA in a little over two hours. Heathrow during a Friday evening rush hour? More or less the same.

Not only that; availability tends to be significantly better out of either of those two airports than ex-LHR.

So:
  • Cheaper
  • More convenient
  • Greater flexibility

We had a particular set of dates in mind and ZRH had two seats available less than two months out, on a Saturday! These were super easy to book via the SQ website.

We had a couple of Hilton Free Credit card nights saved up and had been longing to try out the Conrad in Koh Samui. The base level room is a free standing villa on stilts with an ocean view and a private infinity pool - cash rates tend to be around the $580 mark.

I lived in Thailand for a few months and have returned multiple times since. It was the starting point for my first ever F flight as well as the origin for my first ever flight on the Whalejet. As such I have a fond place in my heart reserved for the Land of Smiles.

Nonetheless, I really wanted to try something new.

It turned out that we could connect onward to MNL from SIN with a very comfortable connection time, at no extra mileage cost. This is the longest free connection route ex-Europe, which still features a first class cabin.

So, it was decided - we would start the trip with four nights in the Philippines.

Using Avianca miles I was able to find availability on TG J from MNL-BKK and then home on TG F, on the refurbished 744, from BKK-LHR.


The Trip

Part 1 : LCY-ZRH and Hilton ZRH
Part 2 : ZRH-SIN SQ Suites 388
Part 3 : SIN-MNL SQ F 77W
Part 4 : Busuanga Bay Lodge - Philippines
Part 5 : BBL Part 2
Part 6 : Fairmont Manila - Gold Floor
Part 7 : MNL-BKK TG J 772 (and onward to USM)
Part 8 : Conrad Koh Samui
Part 9 : CKS Part 2
Part 10 : BKK-LHR TG F 744

Last edited by Jermyn; Apr 13, 16 at 5:30 pm
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Old Mar 13, 16, 4:00 pm
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Part 1 : LCY-ZRH and Hilton ZRH

Part 1 : LCY-ZRH and Hilton ZRH

The trip started after work on a Friday. I jumped on the tube and was at LCY in no time. I really love my local airport. Jumping off the DLR train you are right by the boarding pass machines, the airport feels more like a small bus station than an international airport in one of the world's largest and busiest cities.

I met K by the front door and we were through security and sat with a coffee in hand, within 15 minutes of meeting.

There are no lounges at LCY (although the gate for the 'babybus' flights to JFK does provide refreshments and comfortable seating), so we timed our arrival to give us no more than 30 minutes of waiting time.


How cute are these little planes?


Boarding for our short hop to ZRH was uneventful, as was the flight itself. We were sat in the last row but were still served within 25 minutes of takeoff. BA offers snack and a full bar even on the short flights out of LCY.

BA gets a lot of grief for its long haul product but shorthaul it is a world apart from its low cost rivals.

When you get a good crew, as we did on this flight, the light hearted banter and cheeriness really adds to the overall experience.

It didn't hurt that when I asked for a G&T the FA gave me two ^


Hilton ZRH

We got into ZRH at around 9pm, a ruthlessly clean and rather deserted facility. We spent some time wandering around looking for the Hilton shuttle until we found an information booth. There was a lot of construction work going on and the bus stop sign was hidden behind some scaffolding. Uncharacteristically inefficient for the Swiss.

The first minibus that came by was packed full but the driver said we could stand if we wanted. We hopped aboard and got talking to a few of the other passengers. Inevitable really given that we were all practically on top of each other! The Hilton is about 10 minutes away form the airport and is actually the second stop that the bus makes.

With these late night arrivals - particularly when followed by early morning departures - I think that it makes a lot of sense to go for a hotel which is attached to the airport. At least this shuttle was free though (OSL I'm looking at you).

I whispered to K in a conspiratorial fashion as we pulled up to the Hilton. She knew what to do. The second we stopped she got off and made a beeline straight for the check-in desk, whilst I waited to collect our bags. When a group arrives into a hotel late at night, you'd best be sure you're near the front. Otherwise you may find that you're still checking in as breakfast is being prepared.

As HHonors Gold (at the time) we were upgraded to an executive room. The lounge was closed for evening service but we'd be able to make use of it in the morning for breakfast.

The room was quite spacious but lacked character of any sort. It was aggressively bland.


The empty shelves and bare walls gave the room the feel of an Ikea showroom crossed with a dorm


Come on. Not even a plant? A small vase? Some magazines? Anything?



The bathroom had a few interesting design touches such as the glass sink


However, even with a jet tub and a waterproof TV, the bathroom couldn't overcome its sharply clinical feel.

Perhaps I'm being a little harsh with my critique of the room. I know that airport hotels can be pretty nondescript and fromulaic but I've also been in some remarkable ones (the former Hyatt Regency, now Grand Hyatt Incheon comes to mind). The room was very clean and spacious and the bed was adequate but a major city like Zurich could do with upping its game.

After dropping off our bags, K and I went to the bar to grab a quick bite to eat. I have to say that the service there was a great and the atmosphere was made very lively by lots of groups of excited travellers - very few of whom appeared to be away on business. We ordered a selection of the 'Swiss tapas' and came away well fed for about £15 per person. Hard to complain about that in a city as notoriously expensive as Zurich.

I didn't sleep as much as I would have liked but I always find it really hard to get to sleep when I'm excited for a flight the next day. Most people I speak to don't understand my fascination with flying. I guess I'm lucky to be able to capture that sleepless, pre-christmas excitement of childhood; on numerous occasions, each year of my adult life.

I went to the gym in the morning with a view to working up a suitable appetite for the flight ahead. The facilities were as spartan as the bedrooms though... and a lot more antiquated. I did some intervals on the elliptical and called it a day. Luckily K was up so we headed to the lounge for breakfast.

The main restaurant looked really busy so it was nice to have the cosy little lounge to ourselves for a while. The attendant was extremely friendly and helpful and the decor was warm and inviting.


The view from the lounge was by no means breathtaking but it was great to see the Swiss mountain scenery in the distance.






Always my first port of call


Eggs and bacon were available in the buffet in addition to the a la carte dishes

Chilled options


The carb table


K and I both ordered omelettes from the a la carte menu and they were ok although a little overcooked for my taste, I tend to prefer them more fluffy and pale


Conclusion

The Hilton Zurich Airport is clean and the rooms are decently sized. The bar is lively and functions into the wee hours, so you actually feel like you're on holiday here. The lounge is also very pleasant, with fantastic staff.

However, the lack of decent gym facilities and the sanitised feel of the decor, coupled with the distance from the airport terminal, means that I will likely try the Radisson Blu next time.

Last edited by Jermyn; Apr 9, 16 at 3:26 pm
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Old Mar 13, 16, 4:00 pm
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Part 2 : ZRH-SIN SQ Suites 388

Part 2 : ZRH-SIN SQ Suites 388

It transpires that SQ has drawn something of a short straw when it comes to the location of its check-in counters at ZRH. Despite a fairly arduous walk, nothing could dent our sense of excitement at our upcoming flight.

If anything, the long walk served to build anticipation.

I love how SQ literally rolls out the red carpet for Suites passengers

We attempted to through check bags all the way to our final destination of Busuanga but the check-in agent was only able to issue boarding passes for the final MNL-USU hop on PR.

It turns out that you have to re-clear security at MNL so there really is nothing more that the SQ agent could have done, he was very apologetic nonetheless.

I don't usually do this but couldn't resist adorning my shiny new Rimowa flight case


Much like its sibling LH, LX does not allow other carriers' First Class pax to use its best lounges at its home hub. Knowing this, we had a leisurely morning and only arrived at the LX J lounge 30 minutes before boarding.

The lounge was bright, spacious, large and featured some very elegant design touches. We perched up on some of the bar stools on the ground floor and went about charging up all of our photographic devices before our upcoming adventure.





A Large variety of alcoholic options


My first port of call, as always. That's a lot of choices!


I really like how they set up this art piece to make full use of the super high ceiling. On the left of the picture you can see the first floor area, this was rammed full of people and featured an extensive hot and cold buffet as well as more drinks. To the right you can see the smoking bar


One of the models up close


A claim to fame. The bar was totally empty and smelled of smoke so we didn't hang around


Overall the LX J lounge at ZRH is quite good. There is a wide variety of food and drink. It has ample power points and is broken up well across multiple floors, this helps to keep noise down and ensures that there is always a free nook to sit down in. I find this lounge to be far preferable to BA's J lounges at LHR or the Admiral's club at JFK however it is still far from bothering QR at DOH or the almighty VS clubhouse at LHR.


SQ 345
Zurich (ZRH) - Singapore (SIN)
Duration: 12hr10
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seats: 2D (First Class)
We arrived towards the tail end of boarding and were immediately sent through to board via the jetbridge at the front of the lower deck of the enormous SQ A380.

The crescendo of anticipation was reaching its peak. As we stepped aboard, the experience wasn't quite as exciting as my first time in Suites, however K's facial expression and small squeal of delight made up for the lack of novelty on my part.

We chose seats 2C and 2D as we wanted to be guaranteed a double bed. We needn't have worried as there was only one other passenger in Suites with us!

We were warmly greeted by a cavalcade of crew members, including the cabin supervisor and flight manager. The most important part of the greeting process?

Krug of course


Given that we had the whole cabin more or less to ourselves, we shifted to 3A and 3K for takeoff (the best window seats in Suites, given their complement of 3 fully aligned windows. I know this gets mentioned a lot but I'm a really big fan of this design touch, demarcating the separation between the aisle and the Suites by using an entirely different carpet


An AirBerlin flight comes in to land as we begin to taxi



As soon as the seatbelt sign was switched off, K rushed over to join me in 3A. Being an upstanding gentleman I took the opportunity to reprise my regular role as 'buddy'. Likewise the delightful CSS reprised her role as Krug distributor with aplomb.


The instant we were left alone we would take the opportunity to photograph ourselves enjoying the cabin. As I'm sure all good FTers would

The lunch service commenced with a delicious trio of pork, chicken and beef satay. I absolutely love this dish and was blown away when it came as a pre-meal starter in business. Here in Suites it is every bit as good although of course the Givenchy tableware ups the presentation stakes a little.


Your intrepid adventurer staring wistfully into the middle distance, holding a glass of Krug. There was a lot of this going on, on this flight. Satisfied sighing also featured heavily on the agenda


In the background: The only other pax on this flight secures a double bed of her own


After the satay was cleared the CSS and LSS set our table. This is where things really started to take a turn towards restaurant territory. White linen tablecloth and napkins, side dishes for our garlic bread and a selection of wines to choose from. I liked that we had two of the crew serving us at a time, it really allowed the whole service to flow much more smoothly. Eating at a fine restaurant involves an element of service orchestration and I think SQ really gets this.


I opted for the caviar with classic garnishes, whilst K had the delicious foie gras with artichokes and some huge pieces of sweet, toasted brioche


A satisfyingly mountainous heap of caviar



Next up was the soup course. It's a shame that you don't tend to get soups in J as I think they are one of the foods that does best on a plane. The method of preparation is perfect for a galley setting. Nothing is lost in the re-heating


This clear soup was perfectly executed and just the right amount of food, given how many courses we were due to do battle with


Next up was the salad course. The ingredients were all extremely fresh and clearly a little thought had gone into the selection of the non-green constituents


We opted to Book the Cook for our main courses. I selflessly endeavoured to try yet another lobster, in my undying mission to try SQ lobster ex-everywhere. K went for the Swiss sausage dish, unique to this route


Sometimes I like to be a bit of a rebel, throw caution to the wind, play by my own rules. So I switched to Dom for the main course... like an absolute renegade


K's sausage dish was absolutely fantastic. Every element was cooked to perfection


My lobster was great and actually had a slightly Indian flavour profile, somewhat reminiscent of a Peshwari Naan. Still not a patch on my J lobster ex-LHR though


In a bid to maintain some structural integrity on the waistbands of our clothing we opted to take fruit as our dessert. The presentation was beautiful and the selection was very varied


I can still taste how fresh the fruit was. With my eyes.


After the meal we asked for some tea and an espresso. Meanwhile another FA offered to make the bed up for us. We tried to play it cool but I'm pretty sure our giant grins gave away how excited we were to have our own double bed

K playing it cool. She is far more prolific with her trip reports than me. Don't forget to check out her site! www.euriental.com


Our awesome pillow kingdom


Bliss


We spent the next few hours watching movies and having naps. SQ provided us with a Ferragamo amenity kit each featuring full sized colognes, we also got some sleeper suits that were more like tracksuits, one area where I think SQ could improve. Right now CX's PYE organic cotton PJs are the ones to beat.

K drank a prodigious quantity of tea whilst I did my best to drink all of the Krug in the universe. Given how empty the cabin was we left the doors open most of the time, which I think helped the service to flow smoothly. I always prefer making eye contact with a passing FA rather than going through a call button rigmarole


As the evening wore on, we decided to eat again. I went for some caviar whilst K ordered the dessert she'd been pining over ever since we opted for fruit. At this time of night only the LSS in the green was on duty. She apologised profusely for the fact that service might be a little slow as she'd not been trained to plate the dessert.


The presentation was pretty good and the flavour... let's just say K ended up getting more of a helping hand than she would have liked


After our midnight snack we finished up watching Ex-Machina (what a film!) and then got a few hours of sleep

We awoke around 2 hours before landing, an FA immediately came over to see if we would like some juices and water, we thanked her and said we were ready for breakfast. The juices tasted freshly squeezed and once again the fruit was excellent


Next up was a super tasty Bircher Muesli


For the main course we both opted for the BTC Swiss Roesti potatoes with smoked salmon and creme fraiche. The best F breakfast I've ever had. The potatoes were insanely crispy and not at all greasy. Having all the little side dishes for condiments really made it feel like we were having breakfast at a 4S


After breakfast we sat together and watched some TV. It's amazing how different the cabin looks with all of the blinds down and the doors open


Can you tell that K was sad to see this flight draw to a close?


Conclusion

The service was spectacular and the fact that we had a dining room, a private reading room each and also a bedroom definitely took things to another level. Add to this the insanely high quality of the F&B and you basically have the perfect flight. I've yet to fly EY apartments although I am currently sitting on 6 upcoming sectors I have to say, whilst the apartments may have the slight edge in terms of hard product, I seriously doubt that the experience is going to rival SQ Suites as a whole. Make no mistake, SQ is the airline to beat. They have an eye for detail and innovation which is inimitable. Long may they reign.

Last edited by Jermyn; Apr 9, 16 at 3:27 pm
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Old Mar 13, 16, 4:01 pm
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Part 3 : SIN-MNL SQ F 77W

Part 3 : SIN-MNL SQ F 77W

The Private Room - SIN, Terminal 3

After our blissful experience aboard Singapore Suites, we made our way through the various security levels of the Singapore Lounge complex until reaching the inner sanctum: The Private Room.

The Private Room is elegantly decorated and has some very comfortable seating, although I'm not as blown away by the whole experience as some other people are.



As you can see, the lounge was completely empty when we arrived




The service was very good on this occasion, perhaps as a result of us being the only pax in the lounge. We were warmly greeted and offered a short tour of the facilities, we were then offered hot drinks as we said we weren't very hungry. The attendants returned quickly with our drinks and even brought a small plate of cookies, "just in case you change your mind and get hungry."


After my coffee the next thing I craved was a powerful shower to blast me into wakefulness. Given the low footfall in TPR, there is no need to reserve a shower. You just walk into an available shower room, within the bathroom, and close the door behind you. There are always multiple attendants on duty, so the shower rooms are cleaned the instant they become available


A selection of amenities is offered, including Ferragamo toiletries


The shower itself had excellent pressure and obviously it's hard to fault the marble wet room enclosure. I can't help feeling however that wall mounted, unbranded gel dispensers are a little incongruous with the rest of SQ's First Class offering.



Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge - SIN, Terminal 2

After showering up we decided to head over to Terminal 2, to check out the lounge nearest our departure gate. This involved a brief trip on the Singapore Changi monorail.

Terminal 2 is an entirely different proposition to T3, it is far more reminiscent of a regular, regional SE Asian airport, with low ceilings and outdated fixtures. It is still kept very clean and well lit but it pales in comparison to the flagship terminal.

As I walked through this terminal, a sense of dread washed over me, perhaps we should have waited a little longer in TPR... I needn't have worried, the First Class lounge at T2 is actually really good!


The seating arrangement is reminiscent of an Admiral's Club but the execution is vastly different. The gold clocks on the walls, abundant plants and marble clad columns let you know that this is no J lounge


We opted to stick with these chairs as they were more conveniently set up for eating plus the orchids made the area smell amazing.




The food selection was really varied and featured loads of Singaporean classics. There was even a noodle chef ready to make dishes of your choosing.


As I mentioned in a prior review of TPR, I prefer a varied and extensive buffet to having to wait for table service. I think it makes a lot more sense to at least offer this as an alternative, in the time-sensitive environment of an airport.


I was not hungry at all but couldn't resist trying a few mouthfuls just to see what the catering was like. The dim sum was no Tim Ho Wan but it was decent nonetheless, the rice was also super flavourful.


Drinks, including a draught beer tap


A bar service was also available for alcoholic drinks as well as decent espresso

We only spent around half an hour at the lounge before making our way to the gate but could easily have spent another hour there without feeling bored. It doesn't have the exclusive feel of TPR but it is certainly up to a First Class standard.

SQ 910
Singapore (SIN) - Manila (MNL)
Duration: 3h40
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 1D (First Class)

It is crazy how different F on an SQ 77W is versus Suites. Make no mistake, the cabin has a lot more in common with SQ's J class seat than it does with the flagship product on the whalejet.

Service -wise though, you know which cabin you're in

As soon as we took our seats we were warmly greeted, helped with our carryons and offered reading materials and drinks. I asked for Krug and seconds later the FA returned, mortified. She apologised profusely and said that due to the short flight only Dom had been loaded. I grudgingly accepted this transgression, wondering if perhaps she'd been pre-advised of my renegade behaviour in Suites.




Post take-off I changed into my PJs and asked to have my bed made. I was asked whether I would still like lunch and was told that I could eat as late as 30 minutes before landing! I asked the FA to wake me 1 hour before landing and was presented with this magnificent BTC dish: Lamb shank with onion, pea-soya beans and tempered Bengal, served with gramm and yoghurt vegetable pilaf


As we all know, slow cooking is an ideal preparation method for airplane food and this dish did not disappoint at all. I would definitely order this again, before ordering the Lobster Thermidor.


After lunch I hurried to get changed and took the opportunity to look out of the galley window as we made our descent

Conclusion
This flight was exactly what I needed, a comfortable and quiet place to catch up on some sleep and grab a bite to eat before the rather less glamorous experience of transiting at MNL and catching a prop plane to a remote island.

I could have eaten more and I could have drunk some more but for my purposes that would not have been a 'maximisation' of First class.

In fairness I could have done this flight in a long haul J seat but I wouldn't have wanted to do this in sloped regional J, given how tired I was. As such I stick firmly by my choice of 'kicker' on this award ticket

Last edited by Jermyn; Mar 16, 16 at 5:34 pm
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Old Mar 13, 16, 4:01 pm
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Part 4 : Busuanga Bay Lodge - Philippines

Part 4 : Busuanga Bay Lodge - Philippines

Arrival

Transit in MNL was actually a lot less painful than I had been expecting, we exited the international terminal and made our way over to the domestic terminal where our itineraries were checked before access to the check-in area was granted.

MNL has a policy of only allowing people with valid itineraries to enter the airport and this is primarily down to security concerns. There is a lot to be said for the resulting reduction in footfall within the terminals, given how busy the domestic terminal was, I doubt it could have handled a doubling in the number of people, assuming conservatively that every departing passenger has a single well-wisher alongside them.

Our flight with PR was really enjoyable, in as far as that can be said for flying on a proper plane. We were driven to a bus gate and given a chance to experience the warmth of the Philippine sun as well as our first breath of fresh air in nearly a day.

The crew was outrageously polite and friendly, insisting on helping us with our carryons and asking us all about our trip and our impressions of the Philippines so far. There was even a brief snack run where we were all offered bootleg Oreos and water.



I’d be lying if I said I wished this flight would never end but I definitely enjoyed it, particularly given the fact that nobody on that flight was there for business. Everyone was upbeat and ready to travel to paradise.

Our flight was blocked for one hour but ended up arriving half an hour early at USU.

Cebu air is the other major carrier which flies this route. Gotta love the livery


The airport is definitely somewhat on the rustic side and unmistakably SE Asian.


Baggage claim was certainly unique. We all walked off the plane into the arrival hall and stood behind a low wooden table/barrier


The ground crew then brought our bags over by hand

Despite our early arrival, the driver from Busuanga Bay Lodge (BBL) was there waiting for us. He said that the flights usually arrive early and only arrive on time if they’re late!

We drove for around one and a half hours along some seriously bumpy roads and even avoided one particular turn as it appeared that an armed militia was manning a makeshift barricade at the end. As you can imagine I was not overly inclined to take pictures.

The Philippines is a poor country with certain areas in the South of the country classified as being as dangerous as Syria, in the eyes of the British home office.

The island region of Palawan with its hubs in Puerto Princesa and Coron is one of the more tourist friendly in the country and has been put on the map by the El Nido resorts (which we briefly considered visiting). However, we wanted to try something different. Chain hotels don’t exist here, I felt wonderfully liberated, picking a resort on its merits rather than a complex web of external ramifications relating to bonus points, upgrades, qualifying stays etc.
As soon as we arrived we were warmly greeted by a cohort of staff wearing khaki shorts and bright blue polo shirts. The initial impression from the lobby was striking.


View from the lobby of BBL


The main lobby and restaurant building


The pool at the lobby


We were in paradise. Not one I had ever imagined or seen before. A lush and verdant paradise of low lying hills, so brimming with plant life that the foliage touched the ocean




The Room - Clubhouse Suite
There are several room options at BBL, none of which break the bank. We opted for the best available room: a Clubhouse Suite. Whilst the standalone casitas also looked appealing we liked the idea of the the sweeping views, unobstructed by foliage and being close to the pool.

As you can see, there aren’t exactly any bad room options at BBL


K walking amongst the Casitas




The Clubhouse suites are located one floor beneath the lobby and pool and the view is no less impressive


Quilted leather headboard, ottoman, dark wood, in-built reading lights. Very nice for an unknown resort in the middle of nowhere


A window into the bathroom. A divisive feature which I personally like, as it opens the room up immensely and really allow you to enjoy the full expanse of the magnificent vista. To the right, behind the bed, was the wardrobe and the tea and coffee making facilities. I never photographed this


The indoor sitting area (which we really only used as a dumping ground for our clothes )


We slept with the curtains open every night. This is what morning looked like from bed


The bathroom had a very modern and open design, with designer free standing bath tub and sinks. Thankfully the toilet was not open plan.


Showering each morning was a joy. The nearest foot path was stuck to the building and a good 15ft beneath this window so there were no issues with privacy.


Not only a stupendous view but also an enormously refreshing and powerful shower.


The view into the bedroom, which has the possibility of being just as impressive as the view outside… let's face it, nobody is coming here to share this room with their Grandma or a business associate


All the usual amenities were provided, the brands were local to the region.


One of my favourite parts of the room was the outdoor terrace, where I whiled away an hour or so each morning before K woke up, reading my book, eating the Bakkwa I bought in SIN and drinking coffee. The only noises I heard, being those of boat propellers gurgling gently through the bay.


We would also spend time out here in the evenings until the sky got to more or less this colour.


Which meant that it was time for happy hour at the bar on the water’s edge...


Food and Beverage
The bar is that thatch roofed building, conveniently located at the bottom of the path beneath our room.



The bar staff were ludicrously friendly and polite and the price of happy hour drinks? $2 for a gin and tonic potent enough to give Oliver Reed pause for thought.

Not that we would have quibbled too much over higher prices, given the setting.


This is the kind of sunset that’s worth travelling for. Every day was this good, or as you’ll soon see; sometimes far better...


Our room rate included breakfast which was served buffet style alongside a number of a la carte options. It included a variety of western options as well as a large number of delicious local dishes.


The staff got to know our preferences very quickly and would immediately bring a French press as well as two double espressos for us as soon as we sat down.


We took it in turns to sit facing outwards


Our package also included 7 dives each, which entitled us to packed 3 course lunches that came in a variety of tupperware containers with all manner of condiments and cute banana leaf wrapped proteins.

Dinner was served a la carte in restaurant, there really wasn’t much choice of dining options given the remote location of the hotel. The food was all pretty decent although we did get some severely undercooked prawn spring rolls one day.

Also, there was a band who would come around towards the end of the evening, serenading tables. Singing is a big deal in the Philippines. If you don’t believe me, Google the My Way karaoke murders. On our first night we absolutely dreaded the band coming over to us; inevitably they made their way to our table as we were waiting to sign the cheque.


I have learned in life that when faced with an inevitable horror, you have two choices, meekly submit or take the bull by the horns like Colonel Kurz and embrace it. Getting serenaded is part of the experience of going on holiday in the Philippines (except for maybe at Amanpulo).

I quickly racked my brain for requests and knew immediately what it had to be; it seems that all singers on cruise ships and hotels are permanently stuck in the 70s. It’s as if some Amish stop button was hit before Culture Club and Wham! could enter their vernacular. Actually, thinking about it, that’s probably not so bad

I set my challenge: America’s classic - Horse with no name. They totally nailed it. By the end K and I were both smiling and nodding our heads along. After that first night we made sure to arrive with requests ready and waiting, for the inevitable moment to creep up on us again!


Last edited by Jermyn; Mar 25, 16 at 5:20 am
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Old Mar 13, 16, 4:02 pm
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Part 5 : BBL Part 2

Part 5 : BBL Part 2

Activities

The Pool

I’m not sure if this exactly counts as an activity, per se, but the pool is certainly one of the defining features of BBL and we did spend a lot of time there. So I’m going to count it



In addition to loungers right in the sun, there were rattan sofas under the shade of the restaurant/ lobby pavilion. Staff were always quick to bring fresh glasses of ice cold water and if you wanted something more substantial, the prices were extremely reasonable.


If there wasn’t so much else to do I could have easily spent all day here looking out at the serene tranquility of the bay.




Island Hopping

One of the main draws of the Philippines are the pristine beaches and crystal blue waters. Whilst green was the dominant colour of Busuanga Bay, some truly idyllic, picture postcard islands were only about 20 minutes boat ride away.

On our first full day we chartered a boat to take us Island hopping to a series of uninhabited islands.

Thankfully some bamboo and palm leaf bales had been built to shield us from the intense midday sun


Our trusty boat


For lunch we stopped at an Island that had a single family living on it. There we had a 3 course lunch prepared for us by our guide. We were also joined by a couple of super playful puppies who would come over and lick us every few minutes when we tried to catch some sleep in the shade after our meal.


Overall this was a really peaceful and relaxing experience, the perfect way to decompress (literally) before starting our dives on day 2.


Diving

We booked a special dive package that included a total of 7 dives per person. The diving school is located across the bay and is run by a German ex-pat named Gunther. He has been in Busuanga since the 80s and lives and breathes diving. He discovered a lot of the dive sites in Palawan and charted the cavernous interiors of numerous wrecks, which the area is famous for.

Busuanga was home to a Japanese fleet during World War II, the fleet was well hidden by all of the various coves and bays but one day the American intercepted a communication which revealed the location of these warships. Overnight 14 of them were sunk. A major coup for the allied forces. Now they form the most extensive and diverse series of wreck diving seen on planet earth.

As K and I are only certified to open water level we didn’t dive extensively inside the wrecks but I would say that the experience was utterly worthwhile. Nothing quite compares to suddenly spotting the hull of a giant ghostlike ship as it emerges from the darkest depths below.

Our dive master Mensoy had a kind smile and friendly demeanour, his skin like leather from years of continuous sun exposure. His stocky stature and powerful movements in the water gave you the impression that he was not somebody to mess with, whilst also giving you the reassurance that you were in extremely safe hands.


Mensoy guiding our boat


This wreck ended on its side, almost upside down, so that when you first approached all you could see was the giant, coral mottled surface of its expansive hull


We found Nemo


You may recognise this fish from the critically acclaimed film, ‘Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo’


The wrecks that are closer to the surface tend to deteriorate far quicker than those in the depths. Much like the temples of Cambodia, which have fused with trees over a thousand years; here you see a wreck which has undergone a similar process in only 50


The ever changing island weather meant that we often went from monsoon to magnificent sunshine in a matter of minutes. One of the most relaxing aspects of diving in Busuanga is that you can sleep during surface intervals as your boat slowly gurgles along to the next wreck site.


Alternatively you can spend your time playing ‘King of the World’ on the front of the boat


One slightly shocking aspect of diving in Busuanga was the sheer number of jellyfish. We were right in the middle of their ‘season’ and there were millions of them! As a swimmer they can be scary but as a diver they are breathtaking to watch, elegantly propelling themselves through the water.


One thing that surprised me is that other fish don't seem to mind them at all


This poor guy even had other fish nibbling at him as he’d gotten stuck in the hull of one of the wrecks


The amount of plankton in the water leads to reduced visibility and increased jellyfish activity but it also meant there was plenty of food to go around






Aside from the wrecks, there is one very special dive near the town of Coron: Barracuda lake. This is a skin dive (no wetsuit), which begins with you diving from your boat into the sea.


You then swim towards a small pier that looks like something out of Waterworld


Mensoy on the lookout


Here, you exit the water and remove your fins and proceed to walk along some rickety wooden walkways, weighed down by your tank and BCD


Until finally you reach Barracuda lake. A beautiful and secluded spot but one which these snorkelers cannot fully appreciate (I liken their predicament to that of somebody flying EY J on the A380).


This is a freshwater lake that has a crack in it, permitting salt water to enter. This saltwater is sandwiched between two layers of far colder fresh water. You can clearly see a thermocline as you descend from one water type into another. The effect of passing into the saltwater is like suddenly entering a giant bathtub… underwater.

Diving this lake is nothing like any other dive I’ve been on. It is more like diving on the surface of the moon


The catfish and small shrimp are the only inhabitants other than one reclusive, giant barracuda for whom the lake is named


Also, in lieu of coral there are a couple of trees at the bottom of the lake


If you have even a passing interest in diving I think you should absolutely make it a priority to head to Busuanga. There is enough to keep you entertained for weeks. The prices are (like everything else in this part of the world) hugely reasonable, the instructors are highly experienced and safety conscious and the feel of just drifting from one spot to another on your own private little boat is a world away from the often overcrowded and hectic experiences you get in other more popular dive sites in Asia.


Heading back to BBL, just in time for happy hour!



Jet Skiing


On our final day, we knew we wouldn’t be able to dive. The human body cannot withstand the pressure of going from the depths of the ocean and then taking to the skies without taking at least 12 hours (or 24 to be safe) to recuperate.

Given the low cost and the amazing number of islands and bays to explore, we decided to give jet skiing a try for the first time. I’m so glad we did.

Going in a straight line across the front of a beach resort must be fun. This was something else though. This was unbelievably awesome. Having the freedom to spot an island and say, “let’s go check it out”, walk on it for a bit and then head to the next one - it was similar to the feeling you get when you first learn to drive…. only there’s no speed limit



The antenna you can see is part of Huma resort. The most expensive resort in the area, featuring Maldivian style overwater villas



Sunset Cruise


You may have noticed the badass looking yachts in my earlier pictures. These are available for charter, if you want to go big game fishing. However, much like a fifth freedom route, rather than just leaving these parked in the evenings, there is a complimentary sunset cruise 3 times per week.

On the day we went, it was just us and one other couple. The crew encouraged us to take loads of pictures and go wherever we wanted.

K looking great as always


Did I mention there was unlimited free prosecco?




Steering with one foot: Thug life.


The best part? Our friends the singers came along too! Unbelievably, they played Stairway, having never heard it before! One of them had an app with the musical notation on it and they both gathered round to play along. They made it as far as the big solo Ridiculously impressive.


As the sun began to set the picture taking kicked into high gear


That night we saw the most remarkable sunset of our lives. Being in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by uninhabited islands, with a yacht almost to ourselves, music on request and unlimited booze… unforgettable.




…and they let me drive a little bit


Conclusion
Our stay at BBL exceeded our expectations.

The location is absolutely spectacular and worth the 1 hour connecting flight from MNL plus 1-1.5hour car transfer. Yes it's remote but that’s the appeal.

The diving was like nothing else on this planet.

The food definitely leaves some room for improvement but this tends to be the case in isolated resorts.

The room was very comfortable, spacious, well designed and had an amazing view. It was also kept very clean.

The price of everything was phenomenal, particularly when you consider that you don’t have many options once you’re there. Obviously, this is a part of the world that can’t support higher pricing right now but I don’t think it'll stay like this for long.

I almost regret writing this trip report as I hope to return and don't want the place to get overrun with people, once people realise how good it is! (I’m still annoyed that I never got to book an NH F redemption using EY miles before they found out, I’d been eyeing that chart for months…)


Departure


Back at Busuanga airport




Soaking up a few more rays of sunshine before heading into the terminal


Once in the terminal we realised we had made a rookie mistake. We had no pesos with which to pay the departure tax. We asked at the PAL check-in counter, to see what they thought we should do. They said we could go outside (back through security) and talk to a van driver because usually they can change money.

We held our ground saying that we didn’t want to go through security again on the off chance that we’d find an amenable driver. So a compromise was found. We would wait at the desk and one of the agents, would call his friend ‘a good van driver’ who would change the money for us. We got a horrendous exchange rate but given the sums involved it was worth paying a couple of pounds just for the ridiculous story.

There was a door that was marked as a lounge but the room appeared to be deserted


So instead we headed to the gate area and used the last of our pesos to buy a coffee in the air conditioned area by Gate 1


I can't say we were overly worried about making it all the way to our gate : Gate 2

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Part 6 : Fairmont Manila - Gold Floor

Part 6 : Fairmont Manila - Gold Floor


Seeing as I used a trick (no longer available) to get Fairmont Premier status, I always try and figure Fairmonts into my travel plans, especially after my fantastic experience redeeming my suite award in Singapore. This time I used a guaranteed upgrade certificate to upgrade a deluxe room into a gold floor room with club lounge privileges.

The lobby of the Fairmont is not exactly grand, as the ceiling height is quite low, nonetheless there is an unmistakeable air of quality to the place. The furniture looks elegant and thoughtfully arranged. They certainly didn’t cheap out on the floral display by the entrance either!






Check-in was a rapid affair, we were escorted to the room and shown all of the functions as well as being given the lowdown on the opening times of the various facilities.


The hallways were a little bland but I really liked the design of the foyers around the lifts, especially the chairs!



The Room



The entrance


The centrepiece of the room was a large black cabinet inlayed with huge quantities of mother of pearl.


Inside was the coffee machine and mini-bar. I love how solid and well crafted the doors felt. In fact these seems to be a theme at Fairmont hotels. The design is never over the top, instead the focus is on quality. This may sound weird, but when the craftsmanship is this good, it is satisfying to just open and close drawers or to move chairs around


Not Nespresso but tastes pretty similar (and again seems better crafted)


I prefer having these suede lined drawers versus those little Nespresso branded capsule stands


Awesome glassware


I can't emphasise enough how good an idea this is


Why don't other hotel chains do this?!


The room was quite cosy but size was really not an issue for a one night stay






Like sleeping on a cloud. Kudos for hanging interesting paintings where other hotels would leave a blank wall


A universal power socket next to the bed. Again, why don't all hotels do this?!


My first stay but I appreciate the sentiment


The bathroom had a sleek and modern design whilst still incorporating loads of marble


I love the presentation of the bathroom amenities (Fairmont uses Le Labo - Rose, which actually has a very rich and masculine smell. I prefer it to Park Hyatt's Bergamote)


You can contemplate Fibonacci whilst sitting on the toilet


The 'shower hallway'



The Gold Lounge

After dropping our things off we headed to the Gold Lounge for happy hour. The first thing I noticed was how few people there were versus similar Hyatt and Conrad lounges


Everywhere you looked, you could see money had been spent on getting the place looking as good as possible


The service was excellent, we were always checked on as soon as drinks were finished. The food was also replenished regularly, even with only 10 minutes to go until the end of happy hour


The quality of the food was excellent and again a notable notch higher than the usual GH, Conrad and JW Marriott offerings. Unfortunately I totally forgot to take pictures of the savoury foods but no problem, immediately after cocktail hour came cake time!






After a fantastic night's sleep I got up early and headed back to the Gold Lounge to grab a quick bite to eat before checking out the gym


At this time of the morning there were even less people than at cocktail hour


The view from the lounge: The pool is shared by the Fairmont and the adjoining Raffles hotel

The pool isn't huge but it is a very pleasantly designed place. Some eagle eyed viewers may note that they have the same floating loungers as the Banyan Tree in Bali


There is something deeply energising about seeing the sun reflecting off the windows of an East Asian city skyline.


I was surprised at how clean and well maintained everything looked. I know Makati is an upscale area but I didn't expect everything to look so pristine anywhere in Manila


The breakfast spread was not enormous but certainly more extensive than 90% of club lounges I've ever visited


The main thing that stood out to me, again, was the quality of both the produce and the presentation


Some hot options


More hot options, the carb table and even fridges with ice cold drinks and chilled glasses



The Fitness and Spa facilities

Whilst in the lounge I requested the complimentary Reebok workout clothes hire (which included free socks and headphones to keep!). These arrived in a beautiful basket, just as I was finishing my food.


After so many days without an extensive gym facility (although BBL did have a small room with one of those all-in-one machines), it was good to be able to get a decent workout in.









On the way into the gym I had enquired about getting a massage at the spa (I had two President's club $25 vouchers which were about to expire). I was told that the spa doesn't usually open so early but they would arrange for somebody to start early so that they could fit me in. I love how Fairmont employees always seem to go the extra mile.


The massage was great, especially when you factor in the $50 discount. I thanked the masseuse profusely and tipped her accordingly, I was really surprised at the fact that she had so willingly begun work early just to please a customer.

I didn't take extensive pics in the spa (obviously) but here is a pic of their awesome lighting



The Buffet Breakfast

After my gym session and massage I went to the room to wake K and take her to the main buffet breakfast. We were warmly greeted and given a tour of the various stations before being shown to our seats

Some Western options


The noodle and dim sum areas


The Hungarian sausage incursion into the noodle station


Ribs for breakfast!


The hotpot station


More high quality produce


Parfaits, muesli and granola


Nonplussed baker


Deli section for freshly sliced meats and cheeses


As you can see, the buffet was very extensive (albeit not quite as large as some of the more OTT offerings in Asia). More importantly though, the atmosphere was tranquil, the service was prompt and polite and the food was all of exceptional quality.

I was very impressed.
Conclusion
The above comment on the breakfast could easily be applied to the stay as a whole. My two Fairmont stays have left me with a longing to return and a deep wish for their footprint to be larger in the parts of the world which I tend to travel to.

I am very interested to see how the brand develops now that it has been bought by Accor. Given the phenomenal service I received at the Sofitel So in Bangkok, I'm hoping that things will get even better.

The best comparison I can make is to SQ. The Fairmont product is absolutely fantastic and very service orientated plus the hardware oozes understated quality. I am now very keen to try a Raffles hotel to see if it is the Suites to Fairmont's J.

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Part 7 : MNL-BKK TG J 772

Part 7 : MNL-BKK TG J 772 (and onward to USM)

After an action packed morning at the Fairmont Makati we called an Uber for the short drive to MNL Terminal 2. We left at 10:00am thinking that this would leave plenty of time to account for traffic, given our departure time of 13:05.

We underestimated just how bad the traffic is


At 11:45 we were still stuck in gridlock and were ready to start praying to "Our Lady of the Airways", if only we could make it to the airport on time.

As luck would have it, 10 minutes later we made it to the check-in area and sprinted to make the 1hour cutoff for our checked bag. We even managed to get our bag tagged all the way through to USM on PG! Exhilarated at the fact that we'd managed to make it, we skipped to security.

Unbelievably the terminal was quite empty (where the hell was all that airport traffic going then?) and we actually ended up with 20 minutes to spare before boarding. Sweating and panting like we'd just run a marathon we thought it best to compose ourselves in the lounge.

Unfortunately the TG lounge was out of action


So we ended up in a temporary lounge which pretty much let in anybody holding any kind of credit card or boarding pass ever.


Despite the loose access policy, the lounge wasn't too full.


The staff weren't exactly proactive in clearing tables




The cold drinks selection. I posted this on Instagram and somebody commented that at least I had a chair and access to a beer. Which I guess makes this better than a lot of Admirals clubs


More drinks


There were also some steamers filled with dim sum, as well as a soup option


The Lounge was a place to sit and grab a quick drink before the flight. It served its purpose adequately but let's put it this way - I'm glad we were in a rush.


TG 621
Manila (MNL) - Bangkok (BKK)
13:05 - 15:20
Duration: 2hr15
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seats: 12A/B (Business Class)


Upon exiting the lounge we got a great view of our plane


This was the first modern business class product I ever flew on. As we stepped onboard a wave of nostalgia hit me. I remember thinking this was the most amazing thing ever, back in 2010. Now, I was happy to have this for a short hop but of course, thanks to FT, I've experienced countless better products.


Still, for a daytime flight it is nice to sit next to your travelling companion.


We had a full flight but the cabin actually felt very spacious. These planes used to be 2-3-2 so the aisles now feel insanely wide in the current 2-2-2 configuration.


The seats are starting to show their age but at least the in seat power is modern


Got to love that massage function


Shortly after settling into our seats, the plane began to taxi. The brutalist airport terminal is certainly pretty dated and actually reminds me of a building that I grew up with. The Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth.

When you see where I grew up, I guess it makes sense that I decided to GTFO and see the world


An LH A340 outside the Lufthansa Technik hangar


View of the metropolitan sprawl of Manila shortly after takeoff


One thing I love about TG is how they serve from old school trolleys, draped with linen cloths. Sadly my favourite: the caviar trolley, didn't make a special guest appearance in J


There were two full runs of drinks before meals were served


Somebody is ready for sleepy time


The Drinks list






The Menu




TG serves its business class meals on a single tray, setting a linen cloth underneath. I prefer when airlines put the cloth on top of the tray, hiding the cheap plastic and eliminating the need for paper cloths. This is less wasteful, easier for the crew and looks much better.

The starter of Smoked Chicken with Mango salsa was fantastic. I welcome healthy food on the rare occasions that it presents itself on airplanes, particularly when it is tasty and somewhat interesting.


K opted for the Sauteed shrimp in Tamarind sauce


I had the beef tips Tagalog. Both dishes were pretty rudimentary in their appearance but passable as a means of sustenance


I ordered the cheese in lieu of dessert. An attempt had been made to present this in a professional fashion. All the ingredients were bland and lifeless, in both appearance and taste


Thankfully I looked closely at my food before eating it, one of the benefits of photographing my travel extensively. Unacceptable.


K ordered the Choco Orange Bavarois which was a considerably more salubrious choice. I drank the Kahlua to wash the dirty feeling out of my mouth


We only had an hour or so to relax before commencing our descent. So I indulged in my favourite pursuit of taking in the view


I always get a flutter of anticipation, seeing the elongated fields outside of Bangkok. Usually it means I'm about to spend time in one of my favourite places on Earth


Unfortunately, today we were on a tight schedule and would only be seeing Suvarnabuhmi without a chance to visit the city itself



Bangkok Airways Y Lounge - BKK

Bangkok Airways are unique in that they provide lounges for all passengers, even those in economy! This was my first time setting foot in a Y lounge (although some Priority Pass lounges in fledgling European locations would certainly qualify on merit alone), so I was naturally a little sceptical.


The entrance to the lounge is colourful and brightly lit, we were warmly welcomed as we approached. I guess the dragons here have it easy, the only rule they need to enforce: do the pax have PG boarding passes?


The lounge was naturally quite busy


The seating was broken up into numerous areas though so you didn't get that hospital waiting room feeling.


The food and beverage area reminded me of a theme park restaurant. In fact the whole lounge had quite a Disneyesque feel to it


The only other lounge that I've been to that captures a similar feeling of fun is the VS Clubhouse at LHR T3. How can you go wrong with unlimited popcorn?


A 10 year old's paradise. All the sugar ever.


There was even an afternoon tea section!




Overall, I think the PG Y class lounge offering is fantastic. The decor and lighting are far superior to numerous LH and BA lounges that I've visited. From the moment you set foot through the door, you enter holiday mode and that's a great feeling.

PG 171
Bangkok (BKK) - Koh Samui (USM)
17:45 - 18:50
Duration: 1hr05
Aircraft: Airbus 319
Seats: 11A/B (Economy Class)



One thing I like about flying PG is that they rarely use jet bridges. I love being out on the tarmac, close to the planes, especially when the weather is always hot. This is especially true when you are connecting across multiple countries. You tend to jump from one air conditioned environment to another. I relish the opportunity to feel the humidity and smell the unique air of a country, even if I'm just passing through.


Up close and personal


The flight was completely full but there was no issue with overhead space, seeing as most pax were foreign tourists who would be bringing checked bags with them. The legroom was pretty damn tight but not really an issue for a one hour flight.


I was surprised at the fact that so many different meal types were available for selection when I went to manage my booking online. Hell I was surprised that there even was a meal of any kind. I went for a total gamble and ordered the seafood meal, which ended up being a great choice for two reasons: 1. We were served before everybody else, on a full flight. 2. It tasted awesome (despite the less than appealing appearance of the sauce).


After the meal there was a tea and coffee run, followed almost immediately by our descent.


The passenger experience at USM is very interesting. The entire airport is open air and it has no jet bridges. Pax are transported to the terminal in tram cars.


The open air, luggage claim pavilion.


Customs


We walked out of the terminal and strolled slowly towards the pick-up area, enjoying the warm humidity of the evening.

There waiting for us was FT favourite, and all round nice guy, Mr Samui. If you need a transfer to the Conrad, he's your man. We just booked by sending him a whatsapp: +66 89 060 6440.

After an hourlong ride through some pitch black roads, including an immensely steep final climb, once on the grounds of the property itself, we had finally arrived at the lobby of one of the crown jewels in the Hilton property portfolio...

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Part 8 : Conrad Koh Samui

Part 8 : Conrad Koh Samui

We were enthusiastically greeted at the entrance to the lobby of the Conrad Koh Samui. Our bags were taken and loaded on to a buggy as we sat sipping sweet lemongrass tea, whilst completing the check-in formalities.

We booked two free nights using UK Hilton credit card certificates and booked the third night at 50% off BAR via Hilton Premium club Thailand.




Standard villas are numbered 1xx and 2xx. We asked in advance for a villa in the 3xxs (the interiors are almost identical, with a slightly upgraded entertainment system), the reason for this is that villas 307-310 offer some of the most spectacular, uninterrupted views and also benefit form being close to the breakfast restaurant and the bar where happy hour takes place.

Our request was confirmed upon check-in and we were told that this was due to the fact that we were HHonors Gold members. We were also told that we were also entitled to pull a mystery gift coupon from a box, I left it in K's hands and she won us a free poolside ice-cream!


The Room
The rooms at the Conrad Koh Samui are all free standing villas, arranged along a cliffside. This makes for some absolutely stunning views. Given our late arrival though, the views would have to wait. Thankfully the interior design is fantastic too.


I love the abundant use of wood and the addition of small decorative artefacts and paintings to give an unmistakably Thai feel.


The fruit bowl that came with the room was great, we also got a welcome gift of macarons and some turndown cookies (on the tray, on the bed)


The rooms come with an iPad that has the concierge app loaded on it, as well as having connectivity to the room's Apple TV. I need to get one of these office chairs too, it was insanely comfortable (I'm guessing it was the real deal and not a replica).


Turndown service included water, the aforementioned cookies... and a bedtime story.


I waited until the following morning to take pictures of the room, when the light was better; starting with the view from the bed. There is zero need to close your curtains here, the privacy is absolute (unless you are scared of a rogue sailor, committing an act of telescopic perversion).


Thai wall art


The bathroom was as big as the bedroom and dominated by the oversized circular bathtub. Naturally, with this being a 5* resort, there was an insane amount of marble on display. I really like the open plan design, which allowed loads of natural light in.


Nice reflection


Motley Crue could host a party in this thing


Again, I love two things here. 1. The glass walls mean that you can see the ocean from the gigantic rainfall shower. 2. The rainfall shower is friggin' gigantic.


We were offered a choice of amenities upon check-in, we selected Shanghai Tang (the other options are Tara Smith and Refinery [as seen in the BA F amenity kit]). In addition to this there were ceramic dispensers filled with what was unmistakably Aromatherapy Associates product.




We saved our turndown cookies so we could eat them with a cup of coffee, as a pre-breakfast treat


Tapping firmly into the zeitgeist with the complimentary Macarons


The minibar was well stocked although there weren't a huge number of coffee pods for the Philips machine. The Evian wasn't free but the locally branded bottled water was free and plentiful. We never needed to call to get more.










Not a bad setup for writing trip reports


Reading material


Wireless headphones and iPad




How great is this headboard? I'm a sucker for geometric design.


The wooden box was filled with games like Scrabble and Jenga


We loved the digital radio stations, which we could play through the Bose surround sound system. Our favourite was the 90s dance channel (hard to go wrong with a stellar lineup including: Culture Beat, 2 Unlimited, Strike, Corona, Snap!, Haddaway, Baby D, Blue Boy, N-Trance, Utah Saints...)


Good though the interior is, the real star of the rooms at CKS is the outside area, featuring a saltwater infinity pool with one of the most spectacular views ever.


The view to the right of our pool. As you can see, we had a good amount of separation from these neighbours.


The sun loungers as seen from the bathroom


This GoPro shot gives you a good idea of the size of the pool


The neighbours on the other side were closer but we neither heard nor saw them. Above us you can see one of the 2 bedroom villas. They could see us from a couple of spots in our pool but otherwise nothing.


I can't really think of a better place to catch up on some reading


On a clear day you can see for miles


Of course, with such outrageously awesome surroundings, we couldn't help but take a million pics of ourselves






You may be surprised to hear that this picture did well on social media


As did this one


The villa design is quite ingenious. The overhanging roofs of the bedrooms grant a high degree of privacy from villas above, this is further enhanced when the parasols are open.


Even from quite obtuse angles, the walls provide almost total privacy from others


You may have spotted some hammocks and man made islands below. We'll come to those in a bit.

Much like our stay in Busuanga, a defining feature of our time at CKS was the awesome majesty of the sunsets







Breakfast

Using our Hilton Premium Club Thailand membership we were able to get 50% off all food. Our breakfast was included as HHonors Gold members. This made the stay very affordable, particularly when you consider how isolated the Conrad is. You are at least 15 minutes drive from the nearest alternative restaurant and even this would require a degree of planning and co-ordination that would render it impractical unless you were planning to take a proper trip 'off resort'.

Our villa 309 was super close to the breakfast venue: Zest. This meant that we could just walk over when we wanted, without having to wait for a buggy. The slopes are seriously steep at CKS and depending on your villa's location, this could easily mean a 25 minute walk to breakfast otherwise.


The approach to Zest (and buggy pavilion)


Breakfast was very busy every day, so I felt bad snapping pictures of people. Here's a stock image from the Conrad website. I can verify that it is accurate . The buffet was compact but decent, I like how they integrated some refrigerated compartments into the walls, although they had no doors. In addition to hot and cold buffet items there was an egg and waffle station plus a noodle station.


Our routine went like this: find an outside seat and order tea and coffee plus Thai Eggs Benedict from the a la carte menu. Head inside and grab bottles of freshly squeezed juice plus plate one of food. Coffee would be waiting for us. 5 minutes later the Thai Eggs Benedict would arrive.


The Thai Eggs Benedict came with Penang curry sauce (surely this makes them Malaysian?) and pork floss. The luminous green liquid is freshly squeezed guava juice, it is delicious.

One morning, a troupe of drummers and dancers paraded through the breakfast venue. I understand that this is a regular occurrence.



The Main Pool and Azure Restaurant

The main pool as seen from breakfast at Zest. The actual beach doesn't have particularly nice sand, so they built a fake beach fo people who want white sand


With everybody having their own pool, the main pool was generally quite empty. We popped down a couple of times to grab a quick lunch and both times it was like this.


Above and right you can see the long balcony of Zest restaurant








Hard to get tired of this view!


...or this one


We were always greeted with a complimentary ice tea drink. Our water was kept constantly topped up too




With our 50% discount the prices were quite reasonable. The pizzas worked out at £9 for example. Happy hour at the CKS is an ever evolving beast, a number of venues have happy hours, with slight overlaps, which means you can go on a bar crawl every day! The Azure Happy hour is the earliest of the lot, running from 4pm-6pm


Not a bad place to have lunch


The food was ok but certainly nothing special. Which is how I would describe most of the 'regular' food options at CKS


After lunch on the first day, we made our way down to the beach. As you can see, the sand was pretty rough and rocky.


There were a couple of the man made islands out in the water. To be honest, they weren't particularly comfortable, there's no shade and the sand and plants looked scraggly and worn down.


The ocean hammock on the other hand? Awesome.



The Sunset Lounge

Located right next to Zest, the Sunset lounge offers a happy hour from 5pm-7pm. Seeing as our room was only a 2 minute walk away, we always made an effort to stop by

A word of warning though, make sure you wear long clothes or pack your Deet. The mosquitoes are out in force at this time of day! Surprisingly the Conrad didn't light any mosquito coils for the guests.

This sculpture sits between Zest and the Sunset Lounge


The concierge was also ostensibly located here, although this area was never actually manned by anybody









Despite being near capacity, the resort never seemed busy during our time there. In fact we were the only guests each day during happy hour!




Something of a theme developing on this trip. Once again we were serenaded by some extremely talented Filipino musicians. The lady cranked out a particularly awesome rendition of Zombie by The Cranberries ^


Our favourite seats




Last edited by Jermyn; Apr 14, 16 at 1:18 pm
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Old Mar 13, 16, 4:04 pm
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Part 9 : CKS Part 2

Part 9 : CKS Part 2

Zest restaurant (dinner)

As we arrived quite late on our first night, we thought it would be quicker and easier to have dinner at Zest, the casual dinner option.

The service was immensely friendly and helpful, which I guess you'd expect when the place was this empty!


I like how the space looks so different at night versus breakfast time. Conrad hotels always seem to make great use of lighting


We loved the mixed bread basket. The bread came with oil/balsamic mix as well as a basil oil dip. The spicy thai crackers were served with shrimp chilli oil.


K ordered mint tea with her dinner. This was presented in a somewhat elaborate fashion


The Gaeng Jued Woonsen Gai Sub. A giant portion of rich and flavourful chicken, tofu, noodles and vegetables. This starter could serve as a meal in itself.


One of the things I look forward to the most, when I visit Thailand: Larb. I was asked how spicy I wanted it. I said "unbelievably spicy" (In England I tend to use the terms "ludicrously spicy" or "the kind of spicy you'd serve to your worst enemy"). It was pretty spicy but I guess they're scared of hospitalising the customers here. This is less of a concern for the owners of street carts in Bangkok


K went for the Penne Pomodoro, which she said were cooked al dente but not particularly exciting (which is probably as good as this dish can get)


I'm not sure what my main course was. It looks a little like Pad Siew. I can tell you this though. All the Thai food as CKS was great, whereas the Western dishes were usually just ok. This, for me, was not a problem.


Jahn
Whilst the food thus far had been perfectly adequate, we were hoping that the CKS' fine dining restaurant Jahn, would kick things up a notch.

The building is located a buggy ride away from the rest of the resort and has expansive and uninterrupted views of the five islands (up above and to the right is the main lobby)


As we arrived we spotted a Chinese family posing for a photo


This is what they were looking at


Aura bar and lounge is a small outdoor seating area, moreso than an actual bar. It is located to the left of the stairs in the family pic.


Jahn is on the right


The building itself is beautiful, the glass walls really serve to highlight the astonishing view


The staff at Jahn are really friendly and will repeatedly offer to take pictures of you.


We arrived early so that we could catch the sunset




The dining room is quite small so reservations are a good idea.


Jahn certainly boasts an extensive drink selection


Our server suggested the table one in from the corner, to us. She said she preferred the view because the corner column is quite thick and blocks the islands slightly. She said we were welcome to move though, if we liked the other table better.


We liked the view just fine


When we checked in we were given coupons for 2 free drinks, as part of our HHonors gold welcome. We figured that this would be the perfect venue to redeem them. I went for a delicious Tequila based drink


You can just about make out the rim of K's Martini here


OK, one final sunset shot


Whilst Jahn offers a tasting menu, we decided against it. We had been eating so much up until this point and still had an even more elaborate dinner booked for the following evening. Nonetheless, our a la carte meal was served with numerous amuse bouches, sorbets and mignardises.

First up was a very fresh tuna tartare.


We both ordered the Tom Yum soup as our starter. It was prepared tableside. The herbs were sat in an infusion chamber within a teapot and stock was poured on top. Immediately the spectacular aroma filled the air around our table.


The soup was then poured from the teapot onto our dishes, each containing two enormous grilled prawns


K's main course was a phenomenal interpretation of the classic Pad Thai Thalay. It was served as three mounds of rich noodles, encased in egg nests. Each nest was then topped with a freshly grilled piece of seafood: Prawn, Lobster tail and Scallop. The dish was accompanied by a miniature buffet of spices, condiments and sauces.


I opted for the Barbary duck curry with pear puree, galangal and purple potato dumplings. The presentation and execution were great but flavour wise I preferred the Pad Thai (which was actually the cheapest main course on the menu)


We were almost ready to burst after our dinner, so we decided to forego a dessert. This meant that we were able to navigate the after dinner mignardises which ended the meal, with our dignity (mostly) intact.



The Cellar Dinner
One aspect of the stay that we were really looking forward to was a private truffle dinner in The Cellar.

Our server was truly fantastic and delivered a warm, attentive and personal service. She actually happened to be the same lady who took care of us the night before in Jahn (she also recognised us when we returned to CKS ten months later, yes I'm that far behind on trip reports )


The wine cellar can accommodate up to 8 guests but looked a little bare when only set up for two. Perhaps they could place some decoration, even just wine bottles, to fill the space.


You know you're in for a good meal when you have less glassware in your whole apartment than what is set down in front of you


Our Tasting of Truffle menu


We took the opportunity to snap some pics whilst our server was bringing us our starter


Mega carbs


Ready for action


The meal started off with a bang. The scallops were ultra fresh, the cauilfower puree was a delicious meringue of opulence and the truffle vinaigrette really added an intense spark of flavour to marry all of the elements together wonderfully


We accompanied the meal with a Schubert Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, it was keenly priced and was versatile enough to work well with all of our dishes.


The Artichoke and Black Truffle veloute was small but packed a huge flavour punch


It was like drinking a Piedmontese meadow. Earthy, salty, creamy and fresh all at once. Divine. They sure as hell didn't hold back on the truffles either.


Next came the prawn (also a repeat feature of the Jahn menu), served this time on a thick, unctuos and rich risotto of wild mushroom and truffles. What this dish lacked in presentation it more than made up for in flavour. We may or may not have licked the plates clean (an advantage to having a private dining room)


Before the main course, we were served a grapefruit sorbet to ready our tastebuds. I found it to be too sweet and would have preferred something a little more bitter.


The main event: Beef Tournedos Rossini.


This was just unreal. The meat was perfectly rare yet still managed to deliver a satisfyingly charred crust. The foie gras was similarly cooked to perfection. Just a little pink inside and almost as big as the Tournedo. The sauce? Oh man, it was out of this world. Insane. More plate licking.


At this point we were already loosening belt buckles and increasing the power of the aircon. Yet still we had two courses to come. Firstly the dessert: Black truffle panna cotta with an almond biscotto. I'm not much of a dessert guy but this thing was pretty damn good.


Finally a deliciously ripe and smelly Taleggio. Served with membrillo and candied macadamias... plus a selection of handmade chocolate truffles. We got this to go. We had a snorkelling excursion planned for the following morning and we didn't much fancy sinking to the bottom of the ocean The professional manner in which the take-away boxing took place, makes me believe that we aren't the only ones who've elected to tap out and live to eat another day



The Snorkelling Trip

One cool thing about the CKS is that they offer a complimentary speedboat trip out to some nearby islands, where you can snorkel , sunbathe and explore.

The excursion happens three times per day. You meet in the lobby and are driven to a nearby port where the Conrad speedboat is ready and waiting for you. On one of the islands the locals have stalls set up selling food and drinks. Annoyingly we weren't told this before we set off, so make sure you pack some THB with you!

The journey to the reef




As you can see, this particular reef is pretty busy. Both above the water...


...and beneath


We definitely had the coolest boat out of everybody on the reef!


Looking pretty cool with my pink snorkel


After the reef, the next stop was a beach located on a beautiful bay. We had pre-ordered some quite expensive and almost entirely protein free lunches before departure. If you do this trip I would definitely recommend against this and instead bring some cash to buy something from the locals. We enquired with the boat crew to see if they had an arrangement for us to charge anything from the beach sellers to the room. One of the crew members, Nil, said no but he insisted on lending us some cash to buy a coconut. We told him not to worry but he kept insisting that it was ok so we thanked him profusely and made sure to put some cash in an envelope with his name on it and left it with reception as soon as we got back.


Picture postcard views from the bay


Our beach. You can see the red parasols of the local food vendors under the trees.


Abs rapidly disappearing as a result of the mammoth food consumption

Conclusion
The Conrad Koh Samui is rightfully considered to be one of the top Hilton hotels in the world. Given the rates at other resorts in KS the Conrad is actually priced quite appropriately.

If you use Premium Club discounts, 40% off worldwide sales or better yet free night certificates then this becomes one of the best value holidays I can think of.

This is not a place to come to if you are looking to party in Chaweng, it is isolated and that is its appeal. You come here, you switch off and you just let the day pass by. There's no real need to look at your watch. You can always see the sun and you have a good idea of the time based on its location. As a Londoner I find that immensely appealing for a multitude of reasons.

The regular food is just that. Regular. The Thai food is consistently better than the Western food, with the exception of The Cellar, which served food I'd gladly travel to the other side of London for.

Aside from the obviously spectacular hardware, what really shines through here is the service. Everybody greets you with a Wai and a smile. Even if they are just driving by in a buggy, they slow down in order to greet you.

If they think you'll be too hot with a tableside window they'll offer you something nearer the aircon. If you look like you're struggling to finish your food they'll offer to pack it up for you. We even had dessert included in our dinner at Zest and weren't hungry enough to eat it. No problem they said. Just come and order it for free another day!

When the poolside bar ran out of coconuts we said no problem and ordered iced coffees instead. They refused to charge us for them.

When we started working our way through the Shanghai Tang toiletries they didn't just replenish one or two they gave us another entirely full caddy containing a full set of all the amenities.

As I mentioned earlier. We actually just came back from a return visit and aside form being delighted that we were recognised by the staff, the other thing that we noticed is that if anything it was even better than we had remembered it.

If you're the kind of person that gets bored easily 3 nights will be enough. If not then you could happily spend 5 nights here and wonder where the time went.

Personally I can't wait to go back.

Last edited by Jermyn; Apr 10, 16 at 2:00 pm
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Old Mar 13, 16, 4:05 pm
  #11  
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Part 10 : BKK-LHR TG F 744

Part 10 : BKK-LHR TG F 744

Bangkok Airways Blue Ribbon (business class) lounge - Koh Samui

As we were connecting from USM-BKK-LHR we cleared customs in Samui and were given purple CIQ stickers, to put on our tops. This meant that we were given access to the international departures section of USM.

Despite flying in Y we were able to access the lounge using Priority Pass (as a UK Amex platinum benefit). The lounge had a quaint outside seating area which was not policed in any way but I guess the major benefits of the lounge are the food, drink and aircon, all of which are inside.


The decor was a little more sedate and slightly less Disney-esque than in BKK. The white rattan furniture also served to give the place a relaxed and tropical feel.


I did say slightly


A server came over to greet us and offer drinks. I said I was happy to make myself a macchiato but she told me not to worry, she would to bring it over for me


One of the best things about lounges in Asia. I remember how amazed I was when I first saw these machines in shops, when I lived in China. I never imagined that one day I'd have free access to one!


Miscellaneous bready and ricey things. Also, the ubiquitous PG popcorn.


In addition to the buffet there was also a buffet menu. We did not partake on this occasion due to the food babies we were still nursing from the Conrad.


Is is just me or is the photo for the Stir-fried noodle with seafood upside down?




The lounge did not have its own bathrooms but this was a blessing in disguise, it meant that I was able to witness the wonders of the fishtank and numbered urinal system in the deserted international departure hall bathrooms, on my way to the gate




TG 282
Koh Samui (USM) - Bangkok (BKK)
09:20 - 10:05
Duration: 0hr45
Aircraft: Boeing 737-400
Seats 32 J/K(Economy Class)


I just can't get enough of the general aesthetic of USM. I wish every airport was like this.


Beautiful views from our ride to the plane


Our ride for the hop to BKK


Our bird was decidedly old school. Which in Y usually means you get a better seat and more pitch than on a newer plane. I actually quite liked this flight, although at only 45 minutes in length there wasn't much to experience.


The flight was pretty empty so we had plenty of room to spread out.


Love that view


The meal service on TG is somewhat more rudimentary than on PG


Mine went untouched, I knew that better things were in store for us, very soon




Thai Airways Royal First Class Lounge - Bangkok Suvarnabuhmi Airport

We were met at the gate by a TG agent, bearing a sign with our names on it. Unfortunately we did not get a buggy, instead we were walked to the lounge. K had really been looking forward to a buggy but I assured her there was a good chance we'd get the buggy from the lounge to the plane.

TG First class transfer service


The entrance to the Royal First Lounge.


We were escorted from the reception area to the main lounge, where I requested one of the private rooms. The main lounge is a sprawling mass of chairs, similar to countless other business class lounges in the world. I've never really understood the obsession with this place.


Trinkets and ornaments in the hallway, on the way to the main lounge


Our private lounge offered a decent amount of privacy and managed to incorporate a dining area, lounge and workstation into quite a compact space








As soon as we sat down a server appeared offering us an iPad menu, this contained numerous pages of Western and Thai food options


I ordered grilled pork with chilli sauce and sticky rice. This was washed down with a perfect macchiato and a glass of what tasted like Moet.


This was absolutely fantastic. Simple but oh so effective.


After my light brunch I made my way to the Spa, where I had booked myself in for a complimentary 1hr massage. I was offered a ginger and lemongrass tea as well as a thick, hot towel; I was then given a health waiver to sign. You know, in case the massage was so intense that I suffered an attack of some sort.


The private spa treatment room came with a separate changing room. This featured L'Occitane amenities.

The massage was much better this time than on my last visit to the lounge. Last time I was literally shivering from how cold the aircon was and nothing could be done to fix it. This time I got a perfectly decent massage and left relaxed and ready for my flight.


After the massage I headed back to the Lounge to meet K and get our things ready for the flight home. Of course, I couldn't resist having another macchiato and another glass of champagne

TG 916
Bangkok (BKK) - London (LHR)
12:50 - 18:55
Duration: 12hr05
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seats 1 A/K(First Class)


Unfortunately, despite being in one of the furthest away C gates, we didn't get a buggy. I have no idea what the buggy criteria are for TG F but I will say this, I've more often had to walk than take the buggy.

It's always a pleasure seeing a 744 ready to carry you to your destination in style. It is definitely getting to the point where seeing the Queen of the Skies is an increasingly rare event. I'm really going to miss her when she's gone



As I headed down the jetbridge a flutter of anticipation formed in my chest. Any of you who've flown TG in the past will know why. Last minute equipment swaps - TG is legendary for them. Given how different the various F products are, an equipment swap can make for a very unpleasant surprise.
My last attempt at flying this product resulted in me getting TG'd and flying in the ancient seats.

You can imagine my relief and delight when I stepped on board to see the new 'suites'.

You may be empty now, magazine rack table, but you're not fooling anybody. I know what goes there


I chose seat 1A and K got 1K. This effectively meant we were sitting next to each other. Travelling as a couple, this combo on the 744 is hard to beat. Although the feeling on TG isn't as cosy as on BA or CX.

I got the red Rimowa kit on this flight. Another colour to tick off the list. I remember when half of *A used to have these kits. Now, much like the 744, these are becoming scarcer and scarcer.


An FA came and offered me menus as well as a PDB. If you guessed that I chose the Dom, then you are today's winner. This was served with warm mixed nuts


The seats are a huge improvement on the old 744 product. The wood has a matte finish which I think looks far better than the glossy horrorshow on EK. I also think that the choice of grey makes a lot of sense given how dirty the white finishes already look on TG's A380s


As you can see 1A and K are very close together. Great if you're travelling with somebody, maybe not as good if you're looking for privacy. If I were alone I'd probably opt for 2A or K with their very easy access to the iced bucket of Dom ^


There was a pair of off-brand noise cancelling headphones waiting for me in one of the seat pockets. They were ok but certainly not as high quality or comfortable as Bose


I love how there are two conveniently located USB ports so that you can charge a phone or camera whilst still being able to operate the screen




Even more storage space, as well as a universal power socket for the more power hungry appliances you may have


Despite being quite new, the seats are showing some signs of wear




Even without the logo on the headrest, you would never confuse this colour combo for anything else. Unmistakably Thai


After takeoff the FAs came around offering more drinks, more warm nuts and some small canapés


Crunchy and salty. In no way exciting but perfect to entertain you whilst you are sipping on Dom


I had already pre-ordered my meal online but I had a quick look through the menu, just in case something really exciting grabbed my attention


















I was asked by an FA if I was happy with my pre-order choice or if I'd like to change or add anything. I said that I was happy with the meal but would like to start with the caviar. "No problem", he said. Soon enough he returned with what is quite possible the coolest thing that still happens in commercial aviation today.

Don't get me wrong, suites are cool. Showers are cool. But we all sleep and shower every day. Yes, it's nice to have those things on a plane but in and of themselves they aren't recognisably luxurious outside of an airplane cabin.

You know what is luxurious? A silver trolley draped in freshly starched linen, being wheeled over to your seat and used as a base of operations to deliver a delicious plate of caviar and garnishes to you. That's luxurious even on the ground. On a plane, in this day and age, it's amazing.


K also taking the opportunity to snap pics ^


Happy face


This is how I like my caviar, served Black and White. In my opinion, adding egg yolk and onions is like adding coke to a dram of Lagavulin.




I resisted the temptation to eat this whole thing although I did have a cheeky bite of the garlic bread at one point. I love how much variety of textures and flavours there is here.


The First Course: Tiger Prawn with Pressed Tomato and Pesto Sauce. This was tepid, slightly bland and mostly unmemorable.


In the past I've ordered Lobster Thermidor on TG and not been massively impressed. On SQ it is a dish which can be a little bit hit or miss. I get that freshly cooked lobster is delicious and can be expensive, so it seems a waste not to order it. However, over time I've come to realise that the best airline dishes are usually slow cooked. If sous vide is good enough for the top Michelin starred kitchens in the world, it's a safe bet that this heating method is going to be ok in the air.

To that end, I ordered one of TGs exclusive set menus. Let me cut to the chase. The whole thing was fantastic. As in: TG ought to be famous for having this in F. The cornucopia of Thai dishes that I was presented with were all fantastic. In my opinion, having numerous different dishes to pick and choose from is far more of a luxury on a plane than being served a single (often rubbery) crustacean.



Tom-Khlong : Dry fish in a spicy soup. Tender and delicious.


Beef Massaman. Heavy on the beef and light on the potato, exactly the way I like it. This beef must have been cooking for over a day, it disintegrated in a similar way to the best Boeuf Bourguignon.


Stir fried Gourd and Egg served with Thai Hom Mali rice. I left the rice but was psyched to be getting yet another serving of protein!


The tables in TG F are a great size, no issues with real estate despite having numerous glasses, condiments and a bread basket in addition to the many main courses


After all of that I wasn't feeling up to the task of eating the coconut milk ice cream with peanuts but found it very hard to resist at least getting some fruit, from the cheese trolley. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in France every summer as a child and still equate the cheese trolley with those childhood memories, of amazing culinary experiences.

Great selection of fruit too: Rose apple, dragon fruit and pomelo


I finished the meal off with an intensely rich and syrupy espresso. It didn't have a crema but tasted great nonetheless


After that enormous meal I had a bit of a nap but woke up after 2 hours or so. I find it best to get a little bit of sleep in when headed West from Asia. That way I don't accidentally fall asleep too soon when arriving into London in the early evening.

At that stage I got into one of my favourite headspaces. Deeply satisfied, comfortable and quite full of food with 8 hours of the flight still ahead of me. I spent the time listening to music with the moving map on the screen, whilst drinking coffee, sunbathing, writing trip reports and watching the world go by. Perfection.


Around two hours before landing the second meal was served. This was not quite as spectacular as the lunch (which, given my still full stomach, was a blessing in disguise).

The starter: Mini Timbale of Tomato and Mozarella with Peppered Beef Bresaola. This was pretty good.


Boiled Chicken Coconut Milk Soup Thai Style. Excellent, the only dish as consistently good as a soup, on a plane, is a spicy soup Bonus points for the birds eye chillies, lime and coriander on the side.


I couldn't resist having one last Pad Thai before coming home. Thankfully this one was not bad, although given how long it had been stored for, the noodles were beginning to stick together.


K snapped a picture of her main course: Beef with Eggplant in Green Curry. Definitely a smaller portion than the beastly bowls that I was served at lunch.


This was served with steamed Thai Hom Mali rice and a Thai style omelette


Finally, we decided to skip a heavier dessert and instead split the Thai dessert sampler. These are nowhere near as sweet as western desserts and can be something of an acquired taste. I'm happy to say that I have acquired this taste and these desserts totally hit the spot! A great end to a fantastic flight and an amazing holiday.

Conclusion

Thai is one of those odd airlines that I always look forward to flying even though they're not really the best at anything.

The equipment often gets switched at the last minute. The buggy service at BKK is completely hit and miss. There are no OTT amenities like enclosed suites, showers or a bar (even on their A380).

On the other hand, I love Thai food and caviar. There's no Krug but Dom Perignon is not a bad alternative TG still has Rimowa amenity kits. The PJs fit normal people as opposed to creatures that resemble potatoes with toothpicks stuck in them. Better than all that though: TG invested in upgrading their fleet of 747s, sure they may not have all the bells and whistles of a Whalejet or a Dreamliner but ultimately there's nothing that really compares to sitting in row one, safely ensconced in the nose of a jumbo jet.

Hearing the clunk as the landing gear descends, the wind howling against it - then watching as the earth rushes back into focus, the might of the elegant beast thudding down onto a wheel only a couple of metres beneath you. There's nothing like it. Nothing like it at all.

Last edited by Jermyn; Apr 14, 16 at 6:54 am
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Old Mar 14, 16, 3:26 am
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Looking forward to this! Looks like a great trip
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Old Mar 15, 16, 8:16 am
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Originally Posted by Jermyn View Post
aggressively bland.

clinical feel.
Good descriptions! You can´t really say much against the room itself, but I woudn´t book it. Looks so uninviting.....

By the way: Look forward for the coming parts
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Old Mar 15, 16, 5:35 pm
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Originally Posted by alexisonsmith View Post
Looking forward to this! Looks like a great trip
Thanks alexisonsmith. Glad to have you onboard !

Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Good descriptions! You can´t really say much against the room itself, but I woudn´t book it. Looks so uninviting.....

By the way: Look forward for the coming parts
Thanks offerendum. Look no further: The next post is now up.
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Old Mar 15, 16, 7:13 pm
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We literally just got back from SE Asia and had Ko Samui on our itinerary as part of our cruise. Likely our favorite city of the excursions. If you have time, do the Funny Day Safari and ride the elephants. What an experience!

We did SQ Suites for the first time as well. It will be something we will not soon forget.

Safe travels and enjoy the rest of your trip
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