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Planes, Trains, and (Crazy Fast) Automobiles - A weekend in Singapore for the F1 GP!

Planes, Trains, and (Crazy Fast) Automobiles - A weekend in Singapore for the F1 GP!

Old Sep 24, 19, 11:52 am
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Planes, Trains, and (Crazy Fast) Automobiles - A weekend in Singapore for the F1 GP!

A bucket list item for me for quite some time has been to attend the F1 Grand Prix weekend in Singapore. I don't know what it is that has intrigued me ever since the race was added onto the schedule 10 years ago, but it's always been one I've been very keen on attending. However, given the distance and life being very busy with a young family, I've never really thought to pull the trigger.

That is, until a few months ago, when completely out of left field my wife had mentioned that I should go, and that she would stay and take care of the kids. Not wanting to give her a chance to reconsider, I quickly pulled the trigger on what I would say was an acceptably priced itinerary in J and began the planning.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
AC Flight 8980
YOW-YUL
Depart: 11:40 am
Arrive: 12:22 pm
Class: Y (No J seating available)
Equipment: Bombardier CRJ

Before commencing the report I'll first offer my apologies as it may take me some time to get all of my photos up. I'm having to convert them from .heic format and it's a bit onerous.

Unfortunately, I had a commitment earlier this morning which meant I wasn't able to take an earlier flight to YUL to catch my TPAC sector. Given the lack of capacity between YOW and YUL, which is mostly on turboprops, the earlier flight departed around 8am. Unfortunately, this left me with an option which would call for a short connection in YUL. YUL is an easy airport to connect in and is relatively small, so this shouldn't have posed a problem. Nonetheless, AC flights between YOW and YUL are known to be late and arrive into a smaller "satellite" part of YUL called the aeroquay, which leaves for a bit of a walk.





Well, the flight was supposed to be on time. However, boarding time came and went and I started to get a bit nervous. Eventually boarding started, but then much to my chagrin they decided to wait for a late passenger. This guy literally arrived in jogging attire, absolutely drenched in sweat, carrying three hard-sided cases which looked as though they contained electronic and/or audio equipment. I had to shuffle myself in my seat to avoid sweat from dripping on me. Gross.

Already delayed, the guy then proceeds to go into the lavatory to get changed. He had been seated next to a dead-heading pilot who then came up to the front of the plane to have a discussion with the FA. The pilot seemed to have concerns about the passenger and his health given the state that he had arrived in. In the end, the flight crew seemed to agree that it would be alright to depart and that the pilot would keep an eye on the passenger throughout the 20 minute flight. All much ado about nothing in my opinion.

We finally took off and had an uneventful flight. Upon arriving in YUL I had to sprint to make my next flight.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
AC Flight 5
YUL-NRT
Depart: 1:10 pm
Arrive: 3:15 pm, Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Class: J, Seat 6K
Equipment: 787-900

I arrived at the gate just as boarding was about to commence. Very orderly, everyone in their assigned lanes.



I was seated at flight 6K, which was a window seat. I appreciated that it offered direct aisle access as well as two large windows. Would definitely recommend choosing window seats on AC unless travelling with a companion. I found that seat to be comfortable, and did not experience the deflating that has been covered as a prevailed issue in the AC board. I did feel, however, that at 6'3 the seat perhaps felt a bit more cramped than I would have liked. I also would have appreciated more functional storage options.

I was surprised how many passengers in J on the flight seemed to be travelling together. I don't think they were family as there were no children in the cabin other than a very young baby in the back who was quiet the whole flight. They all knew each other and would converse throughout the flight. It would be nice if AC followed suit and offered a bar-type area similar to what some other airlines do.



The display was also excellent. I appreciated that it was both touch screen as well as operated by remote. Unfortunately, I noticed that the movie selections amongst the various airlines on my itinerary were very similar. A bit more variety would have been nice when due to spend 40+ hours on planes in the space of a few days.



Takeoff was smooth. I had an excellent view of an incoming Air China 787 from Beijing landing just before our plane taxied onto the runway. Service began promptly after the seatbelt light was turned off, and I settled in for the 13-hour flight to Narita.

I was lucky enough to have the benefit of a unique menu on this flight, which I haven't seen covered too much on FT yet. AC has been "piloting" a menu by a new chef they've taken on (in addition to Hawksworth who's dishes are found on the majority of signature service flights, as well as a few other chefs featured on flights to certain limited regions like India), Antonio Park, on flights between Montreal and Narita. Like what seemed to be most of the cabin, I chose this menu.



The obligatory champagne and nuts shot. I highly suspect AC has their population figures for New Delhi incorrect. Sydney seemed a little more reasonable.



Next, onto Chef Park's Japanese-inspired appetizer. This was an excellent start to the meal. Everything was hit out of the park, including presentation, texture and taste.



Next, onto the main course. I didn't pair it with any wine in particular, but had been working down the drinks menu and was a few in by now. On the ledge, I think I had a glass of champagne, a caesar, and perhaps a perrier or glass of the Austrian white on offer.

The main was a short-rib dish. While the dish was described as containing several complementary flavour profiles, the maple syrup dominated - perhaps too much. Unfortunately, the syrup taste permeated through the entire casserole, so everything tasted like it.

I'm not complaining, however, as the dish tasted quite good. One thing they need to work on is the presentation. Unfortunately, the ribs appeared to have just melted into each other and looked like a big brown glob.

I also personally could have done without the miso soup but I appreciate that it's a staple.



Cheese was served after, accompanied by some port. While the cheese dish is certainly satisfactory, I would again say this is an area which can easily be improved. For one, drop the grocery store cheddar.



Dessert came around and I opted only for the ice cream. I was disappointed that there wasn't a dessert created by Chef Park. Instead, the option had been the Hawksworth brown sugar tart. As the tart appeared to have raisins, I opted out. Not a fan.

I watched a couple movies. They must have been unremarkable because I don't remember what they were. This was followed by what I would assume was around 4 hours of sleep.

After waking up was feeling a tad peckish. The baskets of food at the front were unappealing, so I hit the call button. After about 5 minutes, I was approached by an attendant. I requested a caesar as well as the chicken parmigiana sandwich on offer.



The sandwich was not good. As is clear from the photo, the cheese was nowhere near melted. In fact, the middle of the sandwich was still very cold. There's definitely room for improvement here.

Breakfast was up next. I went with the Japanese beef curry dish from Chef Park. Again, this was excellent. The flavour was spot on.



Overall, this was a solid flight. The staff were pleasant and for the most part, attentive. However, the old habit of everyone retreating into the gally seems to die hard. I'll never understand how there's so much work to be done in that one specific area of the plane that it occupies 80% of an FA's time .

We landed a few minutes late, but not enough to cause an issue. I was met by courteous NH staff at the ramp with directions on where to go to find the gate for my Singapore flight.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
NH Flight 803
NRT-SIN
Depart: 5:00 pm
Arrive: 11:15 pm, Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Class: J
Equipment: 787-900

No time for the ANA Suites lounge, unfortunately. Too bad because I had originally planned to sneak in a shower, assuming the lounge had them. I was also sad that I would be missing the beer machine.

I had to walk briskly to my gate in order to make this flight on time. It was a huge timesaver that there was no passport control, and security was a breeze. I really appreciate Japanese efficiency.

Boarding was orderly and commenced on time. However, it was a remote gate and our bus was delayed a bit on the tarmac. It was also raining. I liked that an NH FA was greeting passengers with an umbrella as they boarded in order to ensure nobody got wet.



I was greeted at my seat by name by a very polite FA who spoke excellent English. They were very good with the details on this flight.

The design and colour-scheme of the business cabin wasn't my favourite. I found the aesthetics of it to be I suppose a bit more "utilitarian" than the AC cabin. Hopefully you'll agree that's an accurate descriptor. I also found the classical music playing in the cabin as we entered to seem very 80s or 90s, I don't know why.

In any case, the seat was comfortable and well though out. I was in the middle but probably could have moved if I had wanted to as the cabin was nowhere near full. Some seats, particularly window ones where the table is on the aisle side offer better privacy for sleeping.

On the note of the relatively empty cabin, I think ANA has perhaps overplayed their hand a bit with respect to the size of the business class cabin. It was enormous compared to what seemed to be a very small economy cabin. Definitely an odd choice, but perhaps they have success with it.

The screen was good. Smaller than that on AC and no touch functionality, but fine nonetheless.



For dinner I stuck with the Japanese theme, and figured I couldn't go wrong travelling out of NRT on a Japanese carrier. The appetizer was fresh, vibrant, and for the most part, tasty. I didn't get a photo of the menu, but top right is Eel, top left is a prawn salad, and bottom is assorted pickled vegetables paired with a few items - one was a mousse, and there was some octopus among others.

I didn't manage to take photos of the main course or the dessert, though neither was to my taste. The main was some sort of beef sukiyaki dish with cooked sardines (?) There were several desserts. The one I tried was some sort of mousse dish but turned out to be an off pea/jam concoction? I didn't like it at all but the Japanese fellow beside me went to town on it.

Some champagne, a couple Asahi's, and a very responsive and happy FA who was keen to answer the call button, and I was happy, yet tired, boy.

The flight arrived early and the staff made sure to let the J cabin leave first. Immigration was a breeze and it was off to the shuttle counter to book my transfer to the hotel.


Last edited by jcamp028; Sep 24, 19 at 1:16 pm
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Old Sep 24, 19, 1:11 pm
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Lots of tourists flock to Singapore for the Grand Prix, including those with a lot more money than I. At the time of booking, I had noticed that the more upscale hotel properties nearest the course were either unavailable, or very expensive. The Marina Bay, where I would have looooved to stay, was sitting at around $900 per night. The infiniti pool looks extraordinary, but not that extraordinary.

Instead, I went with my trusted pal Hotwire. I ended up getting a room at a place called the Village Albert Court. While nothing special, it was clean, located near an MRT stop, and had excellent air conditioning. I didn't end up spending much time here anyways.

The Grand Prix takes place between the Friday and the Sunday. For those unfamiliar, Friday is practice, Saturday qualifying, and Sunday the race. The nice thing about the Singapore GP is that it's very much a festival atmosphere. There are concerts throughout the circuit park all weekend as well as other racing. The big acts this year were Gwen Stefani, Muse, Fatboy Slim, Swedish House Mafia, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I went to several of the concert and they were all great.

The Thursday after I arrived would serve as my main sightseeing and "errands" day (shopping for the family, mailing postcards, etc.). I started with a visit to Maxwell for the well-known Hainanese Chicken rice, washed down with a serving of Pad Thai.

The walk to Maxwell, where a number of men had wanted to sell me shirts for some reason:



Maxwell:





I followed this up with a trip to Little India, and the Mustafa Center, where Anthony Bourdain had said you could literally find anything. Indeed, the shopping center was an immense smorgasbord of everything imaginable. I managed to find the aisle where he bought his snow globe on the episode of The Layover when he had visited the city.

It was here, I decided, that I would set out to find a unique Singapore gift for my kids. In addition to overbearing laws, which don't translate well into gifts, there are a few things that Singapore is known for: the sling, food, orchids and the MERLION:



Needless to say, the Mustafa Center delivered on this last one, and a few minutes later I had a couple new pals in tow to accompany me during the rest of my trip. We first collectively decided that a cold beer was in order:



Gotta love the vending machine culture. Not sure why it hasn't taken off in North America:



I love the entrepreneurial spirit, but sometimes it's important to ask the question "Why am I first?" Granted, I'm not familiar with the product and whether or not it's good.



The next day I headed down to the Marina Bay area fairly early. The Porsche/Ferrari series mechanics were doing some last minute work on the cars:





I also went down to see the magnificent Marina Bay Sands:



where, in retrospect, I had decided that it was a good thing that my wife did't accompany me on the trip:



I then proceeded to enter the circuit through the gate at Helix bridge, which was designed to look like DNA:



For the weekend, I had purchased a combo ticket package. This allowed me to sit at a different grandstand each day. The first day I was at the Pit Grandstands, followed by Padang and then Stamford on race day. Stamford by far had the best viewing angle, whereas Padang was convenient because it was next to the main concert stage. Strangely, I wasn't really a fan of the Pit Grandstand area, which was the priciest.

Pit Grandstands. There had been some accidents during practice and the pit crews were frantically working to repair the damage before the next session:



The Singapore police were, of course, out in full force. There was a tactical team patrolling in full gear. I felt bad for them in the heat. They also had this robot driving around capturing video. It reminded me of Sheldon's contraption in big bang theory:



Tough to beat Singapore at night:




The next day I similarly headed downtown early. I had a few cold ones by the bay:





I would be at Padang grandstands for the qualifying session today. Though I didn't spend a ton of time in my seat. There was too much going on.



I caught the Gwen Stefani concert, after which I met a British expat working in Singapore. We had a few beers and shared some laughs over the respective political circuses going on in our respective countries: Boris having trouble with Brexit, and Trudeau caught wearing blackface several times in the past right in the midst of an election campaign.

I had to leave by 12 to catch the MRT and still owe him a beer. We decided that would happen either once I'm in London or he's in Ottawa.

Gwen:



Race Day:

The unthinkable had happened during qualifying. Leclerc had set an amazing lap time, and Ferrari had the poll. I started the day with a walk through the Botanic Gardens.




It was the first time in my memory that I had seen orchids growing. And I managed to avoid any dangerous snakes. Score!

While waiting for the racing to begin, I went to check out the Singapore Flyer. This is the view from the bottom. Unfortunately, unlike in years past, they weren't allowing free entry to F1 ticket holders. I think it costs $30 dollars.



The race was excellent and wasn't without controversy. The teams had to be very strategic, and Ferrari had pitted at just the right time, allowing them to go 1-2 in the end. Before this race, a team had never finished 1st and 2nd in Singapore. It was Ferrari's day based on when the safety car had come onto the track. Lewis' tires simply didn't hold out well enough for him. I finished the evening up by going to see the Chili Peppers. They were excellent, as they always are. There were way too many people, though, and the organizers had done a terrible job at controlling the flow of people, creating numerous bottlenecks and bringing out a lot of frustrating. Combined with a day full of drinking for a number of the patrons, and the police were kept busy.

I returned to my hotel by about 1 am, packed, and napped until 5 am when I had planned to get ready to head to Changi and go home.
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Old Sep 25, 19, 5:16 am
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glad you having such a great time... you have a very good wife...
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Old Sep 25, 19, 7:36 am
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I always love an F1 based trip report - thank you for sharing ^^
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Old Sep 25, 19, 10:10 am
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Amazong. On your photo of the polcie robot, to the right there's a sign with all the different passes. Have you got a closeup?
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Old Sep 25, 19, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by GodAtum View Post
Amazong. On your photo of the polcie robot, to the right there's a sign with all the different passes. Have you got a closeup?
I donít unfortunately. But those werenít even all the passes. Those were just for people who had paid for special club-type access (there were many different night club/bar type areas, similar to paddock club but that was on the other side). My passes are not even reflected on that sign.
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Old Sep 25, 19, 12:28 pm
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Originally Posted by jcamp028 View Post
Ask myself if it can distribute stockpiles
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Old Sep 25, 19, 5:43 pm
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Glad to see VET pull it together, even though I'm a HAM fan through and through. Great report!
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Old Sep 25, 19, 6:52 pm
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Part Deux - The Journey Home

"Transit our country they said. It will be easy they said..."

Monday, September 23, 2019
SQ Flight 828
SIN-PVG
Depart: 8:05 am
Arrive: 1:25 pm
Class: J, Seat 16A
Equipment: 777-300ER

I managed to get a few hours sleep, and, waking up still buzzed, took a shower and checked out of the hotel. I walked to the MRT station and arrived around 5:30 am, where I had a frustrating 30 minute wait for the first train of the day. I didn't anticipate a late start to the trains in a city of 4 million with one of the best transportation systems I've ever experienced. Mea Culpa.

I arrived at the spectacle that's Changi Airport slightly before 7am and was through in no time. As far as I'm concerned, this place cannot be given enough praise. A wonderful facility worthy of the awards it seems to always win.



Given that I had about 40 minutes until boarding, I went hunting for the Silverkris lounge. After a bit of a walk I found it, only to be informed by the hostess that I should instead go to the business lounge, which was actually quite a walk. I thought the lounge was quite nice. It was busy, but there was still plenty of seating. The furniture was nice, and not at all in disrepair - which is quite different from the state of most North American lounges:





After some snacks and a drink, I headed down to the gate area. Again, love the efficiency of this place, which includes at gate security with friendly staff. Went through security quickly, and boarded right away.

Can't say enough good things about J in SQ, even though they didn't have my book the cook order loaded. The seat was amongst the most comfortable, spacious and well thought out that I've experienced. It put the AC/NH seats to shame. Truth be told, I thought I was entering the first class cabin when I first saw it. I could have easily gone another 15 hours in the seat after landing.

Birdie:






This flight also introduced me to a new concept. An airline where the flight attendants not only embrace the use of the call button by passengers, but expect it to be used. Of course, I didn't abuse this privilege, but appreciated the prompt service I would receive each time the button was pressed. I was also greeted by name consistently. Truly an airline focused on details.

I had some chicken noodles for breakfast. The meal wasn't remarkable by any means but hit the spot, especially accompanied by some singapore slings.



After a flight that went by far too quickly, we descended upon Shanghai, where great joys awaited me:



Monday, September 23, 2019
AC Flight 12
PVG-YUL
Depart: 4:50 pm
Arrive: 6:40 pm
Class: J, Seat 3K
Equipment: 787-900

I had done my research. I had read the materials available online on the subject ad nauseam. However, it was not long until I discovered that I had taken a few minor details on transferring in China for granted. Such as, for example, that Chinese Immigration staff would be aware that transfer without visa was actually a thing.

After giving the Chinese government kiosks palm, thumb, finger and foot prints, hair and skin samples, a urine sample, my first born, a nickel and some pocket lint, I proceeded through the illness scanner and was dumped into the arrivals hall with a gazillion other passengers. However, having briefed myself before arriving, I knew to turn left and to continue to the end, where a clearly marked "Transit Without Visa" kiosk staffed by a friendly officer would be awaiting me. However, there was no such kiosk and only about 5 kiosks in total were even open.

Panicking somewhat, I approached a young man who seemed to be performing some sort of line management function and said "transit without visa." He looked at me funny, took a look through my passport, and told me that I needed a visa to enter China. Sensing that I was about the become the latest Canadian detained by the authorities, I impressed upon the young man the fact that I was transiting.

Well, it seems to turn out that I had filled out the wrong colour arrival card. I was given a yellow on on my SQ flight, when what I really needed to fill out was a blue one that was only available in the arrival hall. The young man told me to fill out the blue one and then to come find him when I was done.

After completing my card, I found the officer. However, there was another problem. He informed me that none of the staff operating the inspection counters at that moment knew how to do whatever was required for the transit. I had to stand around for another 10 minutes or so while he went to locate someone that could actually help me.

...eventually, I made it through. I re-checked my bag at the AC desk and was provided my onward boarding passes. I was also informed that I had access to "business lounge #71 ." "Great," I thought.

Business lounge #71 , otherwise known as the Air China lounge. Shanghai airport signage says lounge #71 :







The lounge was adequate, though nothing special. The staff were friendly. I had some food and a few drinks, staying away from the Chinese wine specially produced for Air China.



I found the quotation marks used by Asahi China particularly amusing, chuckling to myself at the the thought of it saying "tastes fine" rather than "fine taste."

I went to board the plane and experienced an extreme gate lice scenario. Luckily, there was a separate Zone 1 queue on the other side which was much quieter:



Our neighbours:



I was in seat 3K this time around, a little closer to the front of the plane.



I was taken care of by an absolutely delightful FA named Sandy this flight. Her bubbly personality was infectious and she truly made the flight exceptional. She was glad to take care of anything I asked for, and always made sure my glass and belly were full.

A bad movie accompanied by a couple drinks:



I was able to sleep quite well on this flight, and also watched the roast of Bruce Willis, which is quite funny. I didn't take photos of the meals - the beef entree was disappointing.

Monday, September 23, 2019
AC Flight 8017
YUL-YOW
Depart: 7:50 pm
Arrive: 8:30 pm
Class: Y (No J seating available)
Equipment: Bombardier CRJ

Not much to say about this flight. It was the typical AC triple threat - late, oversold, and with mechanical difficulties. There was probably 16 people who wanted standby. Add to it all the remote stand boarding and it pouring rain. Arrived back in YOW about an hour late, collected my bag, and took a Lyft home. Straight to bed.
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Last edited by jcamp028; Sep 25, 19 at 7:01 pm
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Old Sep 25, 19, 7:53 pm
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Thanks for posting. I enjoyed your narrative!
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Old Sep 26, 19, 10:32 am
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Lovely report - I enjoy reading it as well as viewing the pics.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 3:08 pm
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Originally Posted by lamphs View Post
Thanks for posting. I enjoyed your narrative!
Thank you, appreciate the support.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 3:09 pm
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Originally Posted by thekfc View Post
Lovely report - I enjoy reading it as well as viewing the pics.
Thanks! Glad it was enjoyable.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by chongl View Post
Glad to see VET pull it together, even though I'm a HAM fan through and through. Great report!
Iím a Vettel fan and was glad to see him break his losing streak. Though the victory should have been Leclercs.
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Old Sep 26, 19, 3:11 pm
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Originally Posted by fotographer View Post
glad you having such a great time... you have a very good wife...
Thank you. Iím lucky to have found someone who puts up with my pursuits.
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