Saturday, April 28, 2012

Holiday in Bangkok September 2011 - Part 1

Should you be wondering why my blogspot has been so quiet with no new posts for a month, this is the main reason why. I was busy with my mid-year examinations in preparation for my 2012 GCE 'O' Level examination at the end of the year.

This was during my fourth year in secondary school when I went on this vacation, shortly after finishing my School Preliminary examinations.


Part 1 ~ The Opening


On the morning of Thursday (1 September) we woke up at around 8.30 a.m. to pack our remaining pieces of baggage for the flight to Bangkok. We would be flying on Cathay Pacific on this trip.


Bangkok is the capital and largest city of the Kingdom of Thailand. It is a city which I have been to for so many times since I was very young. Several airlines that I have flown with to Bangkok include most notably Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International.


Since this day was Thursday, 1 September, many schools in Singapore were celebrating Teacher's Day. Teacher's Day is a special school occasion when students get show their teachers on how much they appreciate them. As I knew that I couldn't go to school for the celebrations, I had up until Wednesday (31 August) to deliver the gifts to my teachers. 
As I wanted this to be a surprise for them, I decided that going to Bangkok would be a perfect hideout until the final school term commenced.


After packing all of our baggage, we got into our car and drove to Singapore Changi Airport, leaving home by 10.50 a.m.. We managed to arrive at Singapore Changi Airport by 11.15 a.m. after a 25-minute drive from home. As we knew that Terminal 3 was the safest terminal to park our car, we parked our car there.



As soon as we arrived at the car park, my mum and brother unloaded the baggage while I went to get a few baggage trolleys. My dad then met us at the entrance to the terminal building. With that, we took the elevator up to the departure area of Terminal 3.

Terminal 3 is currently the newest airport terminal at Singapore Changi Airport, with the main operator being Singapore Airlines, the flag carrier airline of the Republic of Singapore. With operations also at Terminal 2, Singapore Airlines is the only airline at Singapore Changi Airport to operate from two terminals.

If you fly with Singapore Airlines, the terminal you use will depend on your destination. Destinations within the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia (such as Dubai, Jakarta and Manila) generally depart from Terminal 2. However, if your destination is somewhere to Australia, Far East, New Zealand, The Americas, and The European Union (such as Frankfurt, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul and Tokyo), your flight will depart from Terminal 3.

Terminal 3 opened on 9 January 2008 to help cater to more tourist arrivals into Singapore. At first, Singapore Airlines was the sole carrier operating out of Terminal 3. However, on 25 March 2008, China Eastern Airlines, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways and United Airlines shifted their operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3.


Four more airlines, namely Garuda Indonesia, Saudi Arabian Airlines, SriLankan Airlines and Vietnam Airlines also moved their operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 in 2011.


Kingfisher Airlines commenced operations to Singapore using Terminal 3, but later moved to Terminal 1 in mid-2011. However, following the airline's financial crisis, Kingfisher Airlines suspended all international flights in mid-2012. As of now, the possibility of the airline fully recovering seems to be very unlikely, given the situation it is in.


It would be a privilege for Singapore Airlines if the airline moves all of its operations to Terminal 3. This literally means that if this happens, Terminal 3 will be known as, "The Singapore Airlines Terminal".


There can be one exception, however. Virgin Australia, an airline from Australia, is partially owned by Singapore Airlines. If Virgin Australia commences service to Singapore, it can share Terminal 3, as the only Terminal 3 foreign carrier, due its strong partnership with Singapore Airlines.


However, should this happen, all the foreign airlines operating from Terminal 3 would have to either move back to Terminal 1 or move to Terminal 2. Since Oneworld has its co-locations in Singapore Changi Airport's Terminal 1, all future Oneworld carriers will need to move back to Terminal 1, as part of an "Under One Roof" programme. Malaysia Airlines, however, may retain its operations in Terminal 2. This may be at least until the opening of Terminal 4 before 2017. Examples could be as follows:



1) China Eastern Airlines (SkyTeam carrier) - To shift its operations to Terminal 2

2) Garuda Indonesia (future SkyTeam carrier) - To shift its operations to Terminal 2

3) Jet Airways - To shift its operations back to Terminal 1

4) Qatar Airways (future Oneworld carrier) - To shift its operations back to Terminal 1

5) Saudi Arabian Airlines (SkyTeam carrier) - To shift its operations back to Terminal 1

6) SriLankan Airlines (future Oneworld carrier) - To shift its operations back to Terminal 1

7) United Airlines (Star Alliance carrier) - To shift its operations to Terminal 2

8) Vietnam Airlines (SkyTeam carrier) - To shift its operations to Terminal 2

The 2nd basement floor of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The departure information board in Basement 2 of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The departure and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

As soon as we stepped into the departure area of Terminal 3, we had to take the Skytrain from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1. We had approximately 2 hours 30 minutes before our flight to Bangkok. At 11.30 a.m., the Skytrain arrived and we were on our way to Terminal 1 from Terminal 3.



The Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain platform in Terminal 3

Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain ~ Departure from Terminal 3

After taking the Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain, we were finally inside the departure area of Terminal 1 by 11.40 a.m. after taking the Skytrain from Terminal 3. With that, we immediately went to the Cathay Pacific Business Class to check in for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Bangkok via Hong Kong.



Inside the departure and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1


Checking in at the Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in counter

After checking in for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong via Bangkok, we received our boarding passes. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1.50 p.m. from Gate No. D32. However, the check-in agent told us that our flight was delayed due to some ground problems. She then told us that our new departure time would be at 2.30 p.m., and that boarding would commence at two o' clock, approximately 30 minutes before departure. With that, we quickly headed to the passport control area.

After clearing the passport control area, we went to a money exchange counter to change some Singapore dollars into Thai baht. We then went to the Skyview Lounge to have a drink after changing money. Here are some pictures I took while in the airside and in the lounge.


The walkway leading to the passport control area in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1


Outside the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1


The list of airlines using the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The departure flight information board inside the airside of Terminal 1

A kinda black view of the airside in Terminal 1 in the afternoon

A brighter view of the airside of Terminal 1

A lineup of shops and money changers in the airside of Terminal 1

In the Skyview Lounge

A Thai Airways International Boeing 777-3D7, operating as Thai Airways International flight TG 404 bound for Bangkok, ready to be pushed back from Gate No. D34

Our aircraft for today, B-LAB, resting at Gate No. D32 after arriving from Hong Kong

A China Airlines Airbus A330-302, registered B-18310, resting at Gate No. D34, before heading back to Taiwan as China Airlines flight CI 754 bound for Taipei

Part 2 ~ The Flight to Bangkok



Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight No.: CX 712 (Flight continues on to Hong Kong)
From: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Singapore
To: Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK / VTBS), Bangkok, Thailand
Aircraft: Airbus A330-343X
Registration No.: B-LAB
Class: Business Class
Seat No.: 15K
Date: Thursday, 1 September 2011

At 1.25 p.m., we packed up all of our baggage, and proceeded to Gate No. D32 for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Bangkok and Hong Kong. The security check was relatively quick, and we were in the gate holding room by 1.35 p.m.. Here are some pictures I took while waiting for boarding to commence.



The departure information board at Gate No. D32, showing the details of our flight to BKK

Our aircraft for today, B-LAB, being serviced at Gate No. D32 for her voyage back to HKG via BKK as Cathay Pacific flight CX 712

The gate holding room at Gate No. D32

After spending 10 minutes of waiting in the gate holding room, the first boarding calls for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound Hong Kong via Bangkok were finally made at 1.45 p.m.. The Business Class passengers, along with the Asia Miles & Marco Polo club members and the passengers requiring special assistance were then called to board the aircraft first. We were on board the aircraft by 1.55 p.m..


As soon as we found our seats, we stowed our bags and sat in for the journey. A flight attendant soon came and distributed the food and beverage menus and pre-departure beverages for us. I then requested for my usual glass of orange juice. Here are some pictures I took during the boarding process in Singapore.



The slight newer Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin during boarding in Singapore

My usual glass of orange juice

The Cathay Pacific airsickness bag

The contents of the seat pocket in front of me

The newer generation of 'no smoking' and 'fasten seatbelt' signs found on newer generations of the Airbus A330s and Airbus A340s

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the sector between Singapore and Bangkok

A closer look into the food and beverage menu for the sector between Singapore and Bangkok

The cover page for the wine list menu for the sector between Singapore and Bangkok

A closer look into the wine list menu for the sector between Singapore and Bangkok

At 2.20 p.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. D32. The safety information video was then played on all of our video screens at the same time. We then made a 25-minute taxi to our allocated runway, finally taking off from Singapore Changi Airport at 2.50 p.m.. The flight journey time between Singapore and Bangkok would take just 2 hours 05 minutes.



The safety information video

Taxiing to our allocated runway for take-off

Cathay Pacific Flight 712 ~ Take-off from Singapore Changi Airport

Flying over the Johor Strait shortly after take-off from Singapore

The new Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin shortly after take-off from Singapore

The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seatbelt' signs still illuminated after take-off

The seatbelt sign was turned off at 3 o' clock, just 10 minutes after take-off. Immediately, I went to the lavatory and took my usual cabin shots. Just a moment later, a flight attendant came to my seat to take my meal order. I then decided on the braised beef short rib with Kenya beans and fettuccine for my main meal. She then understood my order and returned to the galley. At the same time, she returned to set up my dining table.



A view of my seat, 15K, during the flight to BKK

A pair of new Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class seats in one of the middle rows

A view of the new Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin shortly before the meal service commenced

Flying over the South China Sea

A warning sign in the lavatory that states that smoking inside the aircraft or tampering with, disabling, or destroying smoke detectors in the lavatories can constitute a criminal offence

My meal tray on my dining table

A view of the new Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin as seen from my seat

Flying somewhere over Malaysia

A few minutes later, the flight attendant re-appeared with my braised beef short rib with Kenya beans and fettuccine. My dad happened to order the same dish too. With that, I tucked into my on board lunch. The beef was cooked well, and tasted extremely tender. This dish was one of the BEST beef dishes I have ever had on board a plane. I'd give Cathay Pacific full marks for their food catering services. Even my dad had to agree with me. Well done, indeed, Cathay Pacific!


As soon as I was finished with my meal, the flight attendant came to clear up my meal tray. She then asked me what else I wanted. I declined dessert as I was full, but requested for a mug of milk tea to round off this wonderful meal.



My main course: Braised beef short rib with Kenya beans and fettuccine

My meal tray shortly after I finished off my meal

A mug of milk tea from myself

Flying over a blanket of clouds somewhere over Malaysia

The new Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin view from my seat

At 3.10 p.m., 45 minutes before landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport, the in-flight duty-free shopping service commenced. While looking through the in-flight duty-free catalogue, I purchased a Cathay Pacific CXcitement Exclusive model. These are the details:


1) Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-467 "Asia's World City" Herpa Scale 1:500 (CXcitement Exclusive)



Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-467 "Asia's World City" Herpa Scale 1:500 (CXcitement Exclusive)

The seatbelt sign was illuminated at 3.40 p.m., 15 minutes in preparation for landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport. The in-flight duty-free shopping service was closed, and all headsets were collected. We then stowed all of our bags and buckled up before landing. While on approach to BKK, we flew over some rice paddy fields. As it was 4.40 p.m. in Singapore, Thailand is one hour behind Singapore.



A river flowing across Thailand

Flying over some rice paddy fields while getting nearer to BKK

More rice paddy fields to fly over on approach to BKK

After a flight time of 2 hours 05 minutes from Singapore, we finally landed in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport at 3.55 p.m.. I managed to take a video of the landing in BKK.


Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main international airport serving Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. The airport opened for service in September 2006 to replace the older Don Mueang International Airport on international flights to and from the country. Don Mueang International Airport now caters to limited domestic flights within Thailand. It is the main hub for Thailand's flag carrier, Thai Airways International. It is also a focus city for Emirates, one of the most luxurious airlines in the world.


Bangkok also serves as an important destination for many foreign airlines. For example, one of Etihad Airways' Golden Routes is between Bangkok and Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. 
I have known this airport very well since December 2006, and changed planes there a few times before.



Cathay Pacific Flight 712 ~ Landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport

An El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 747-458 resting on the tarmac at BKK, before heading back to Tel Aviv as El Al Israel Airlines flight LY 082 later tonight

Taxiing towards the main terminal building in BKK

My seat, 15K, after arrival in BKK

After our aircraft docked onto our arrival gate, the seatbelt sign was turned off. We then got up and took all of our bags. Before disembarking the aircraft, the flight attendants thanked us and bade us farewell. All passengers continuing on towards Hong Kong were required to stay on board the aircraft.



As with my previous blog reports, the airline grading systems are as follows:

A+: 85% or above (Airline has an excellent rating and performance)
A: 75% ~ 84% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
B: 60% ~ 74% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
C: 50% ~ 59% (Airline has an adequate rating and performance)
D: 35% ~ 49% (Airline has a fair rating and performance)
E: 20% ~ 34% (Airline has a poor rating and performance)
U: Below 20% (Airline has not met the requirement for the minimum grade)

Cathay Pacific Flight 712 Score Report

Seat: 19 / 20
Food: 20 / 20
Service: 19 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 20 / 20
Legroom space: 19 / 20
Total: 97 / 100

In total, Cathay Pacific scored 97% between Singapore and Bangkok. This means that they deserve the highest grade, an 'A+'. It was indeed a pleasant flight with Cathay Pacific, and indeed, they make an airline.


Part 3 ~ The Journey to Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld


After disembarking from Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong, we went to the immigrations area to have our passports stamped. We then went to the baggage carousel area to claim our check-in bags.


According to the baggage claiming information screen, our bags would be arriving at Baggage Belt No. 22.



On the moving passageway shortly after disembarkation

On the moving passageway on the way to the immigrations area

The transit mall in BKK

The baggage claiming hall in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Our baggage belt, Belt No. 22, where our bags would be arriving

After we collected our bags, we went into the arrival hall. In the arrival hall, a gentleman was holding a sign that read, "Centara Grand at CentralWorld", and waiting for us. According to my mum, we would be staying at the Centara Grand Hotel at CentralWorld for the next 6 days in Bangkok.



The massive arrival flight information screen in the arrival area of BKK

The arrival area in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

As soon as we were outside the pick-up area, a cab was waiting for us to take us to the Centara Grand at CentralWorld. By 4.30 p.m., we left Suvarnabhumi Airport. The journey between Suvarnabhumi Airport and Centara Grand at CentralWorld was expected to take just an hour.


CentralWorld is a major shopping plaza and complex in Bangkok, Thailand. It is the third largest shopping in the world. The Centara Grand Hotel and Bangkok Convention Centre are located just above CentralWorld.


On 19 May 2010, this mall suffered severe arson damage during the 2010 Thai political protests. The Zen department store was one of the particular areas that suffered extensive damage during the protests. Large portions of the mall were re-opened in late September that year, with the 'Zen' section soon after. 
CentralWorld is also one of my most favourite shopping malls in the Kingdom of Thailand.



On the expressway to downtown Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi Airport

Passing by the exterior of CentralWorld

After an hour's journey from Suvarnabhumi Airport, we finally arrived at the Centara Grand at CentralWorld at 5.30 p.m.. A porter came along to help us with our bulky baggage. From the ground floor, we took the elevator up to the 23rd floor, where we changed elevators to the World Executive Club Lounge on the 51st floor.



Outside the entrance to our hotel just after arriving from Suvarnabhumi Airport

The entrance to the Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld

The ground floor lobby of our hotel

The logo of the Centara Grand and Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld

The main lobby of the Centara Grand at CentralWorld

Once we arrived on the 51st floor, my parents went to the check-in reception to check us in. With that, I went to the World Executive Club Lounge with my brother. While there, I had a simple glass of Coke for myself.



The check-in reception on the 51st floor of the Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld

The reading lounge in the Centara Grand at CentralWorld on the 51st floor

The interior of the World Executive Club Lounge on the 51st floor of the Centara Grand Hotel at CentralWorld

A view of downtown Bangkok from my hotel in the lounge

The food and beverage area in the World Executive Club Lounge in Centara Grand at CentralWorld

Another view of the World Executive Club Lounge from my table

A simple glass of Coke for myself

After we received our room keys, we went to the 50th floor, where our rooms were located. Our bags were then brought up to us. For the rest of the late afternoon, we simply had a rest in our rooms.



Our room, Room No. 5019, named Aurora

The living room in our hotel room

My parents' room

The relaxation chair in my parents' room

The room where my brother and I would sleep for the next 5 nights

After having a good rest in the hotel room, we decided to go out for dinner at a restaurant in CentralWorld. The walk from the hotel to CentralWorld took no longer than 10 minutes. CentralWorld was extremely massive, with lots of shops and restaurant on the upper and lower floors.



The main lobby of our hotel on the 23rd floor at night

The interior of the top floor of CentralWorld

Looking down towards the lower levels of CentralWorld

A lineup of various restaurants and cafeterias in the top floor of CentralWorld

After browsing through the various restaurants and cafeterias, we decided on a Japanese restaurant, known as Tokyo Bistro Yura-an Cafe for dinner. Upon arrival at the restaurant, we promptly requested for a table for the four of us. 
The food and beverage menus, along with glasses of water were brought to us soon enough. We then had a look through the menus, deciding on what to eat for the dinner.



The logo of Tokyo Bistro Yura-an Cafe at CentralWorld

The cover page of the food menu of Tokyo Bistro Yura-an Cafe at CentralWorld

A closer look into the food menu of Tokyo Bistro Yura-an Cafe at CentralWorld

A closer look into my desired pasta dish on the menu: Spaghetti alla carbonara with bacon

A few minutes later, a waitress came to take our orders. We ordered several sushi plates, my spaghetti alla carbonara with bacon, and several meat dishes. At Tokyo Bistro Yura-an Cafe, we had a filling and sumptuous dinner.



Several drinks on our dining table

A platter of beef otoro sushi

My main pasta dish: Spaghetti alla carbonara with bacon

Sliced beef with mixed vegetables on a hot plate

A bowl of gyudon (beef rice bowl) with a fried egg for my brother

A platter of beef aburi sushi

A plate of fried chicken (chicken karaage)

A different pasta dish for my parents

A plate of ebi tempura

After having a sumptuous dinner at Tokyo Bistro Yura-an Cafe, we paid up our bill and went to the supermarket to get some snacks. We then walked back to the Centara Grand Hotel and Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld at 9.30 p.m..


By 10 o' clock, we were back in the hotel room, and had a nice and hot shower. We then went to bed just before either 1 or 2 o' clock that night.


This officially brings the first section of my vacation in Bangkok, Thailand in September 2011 to a close. Should you have any queries or concerns, please don't hesitate to comment or ask me anything. I will reply your questions to whatever extent I can do so
.

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