Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mini-Shopping Vacation to Bangkok, Thailand in September 2011 (Revised Version) ~ Section 1

Greetings and Happy New Year 2014 to all bloggers! Welcome to the first section of my mini-shopping vacation in Bangkok, Thailand in September 2011. This will be a revised version of the existing report, which was previously written in April 2012.

There will be a total of four sections in this report, of which, there will be two focus topics that will be covered in this section: The in-bound journey towards Bangkok and the road journey to the Centara Grand at Bangkok Convention Centre & CentralWorld.

Part 1 ~ The Opening Sequences

After spending an entire month of doing my preliminary examinations during my fourth year in secondary school, my parents decided to bring my younger brother and I on a short shopping holiday to Bangkok, Thailand for the short one-week September mid-term break. We were very excited for every shopping trip towards Bangkok.


On the morning of Thursday (1 September), all of us woke up at around 8.30 a.m. to pack up our remaining baggage in preparation for the shopping trip to Bangkok. According to our parents, our itinerary for the in-bound journey towards Bangkok would be to fly with Cathay Pacific on flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong via Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi), which would be scheduled to depart Singapore Changi Airport at 1.50 p.m., and arrive at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport at 3.10 p.m..


Since today was 1 September, all schools throughout the nation were celebrating Teacher's Day, a special school occasion where students have the opportunity to celebrate and appreciate their teachers. I was very lucky and relieved since I had delivered all of my Teacher's Day presents to my teachers the previous day. I also knew that Bangkok would be the perfect getaway place from my teachers before the start of the final term of the year.

After we had finished packing our baggage, we loaded all of our baggage into the car, and finally departed the compound of our home by 10.50 a.m. for Singapore Changi Airport. The entire drive between our home and Singapore Changi Airport took no more than just 25 minutes.

Upon arriving at Singapore Changi Airport by 11.15 a.m., we decided to park our car at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, knowing that Terminal 3 would be the safest terminal to leave our car for the coming six days. As my mum and younger brother helped to unload our baggage from the car, I went to get a few baggage trolleys to load our bags onto. Once everything was completed, we took the elevator all the way up towards the departures and check-in area of the terminal.

Terminal 3 is currently the newest terminal operating at Singapore Changi Airport. Opened on 9 January 2008, the terminal was opened to cater to the increasing number of foreign tourists visiting Singapore, with Singapore Airlines being the main carrier operating out of this terminal.

China Eastern Airlines, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways and United Airlines moved their operations to Terminal 3 from Terminal 1 on 25 March 2008. As time went by, Garuda Indonesia, Saudia, SriLankan Airlines and Vietnam Airlines shifted their operations to Terminal 3 from Terminal 1 on 22 February 2011. Asiana Airlines re-located its operations here from Terminal 2 on 30 September 2013. Lion Air will also shift its operations here from Terminal 1 on 18 October 2013.

Kingfisher Airlines commenced service to Singapore on 17 September 2009 using Terminal 3, but later shifted its operations to Terminal 1 by late 2011. However, following the airline's long-term financial crisis, Kingfisher Airlines terminated all international operations on 25 March 2012. The airline eventually collapsed on 1 February 2013 upon having its flying licence revoked, despite submitting numerous revival plans to the local Indian aviation authorities.


The second basement level of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The departure flight information screen in the second basement level of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

After taking the elevator up from the second basement car parking area in Terminal 3, we were finally in the departures and check-in area by 11.30 a.m.. Knowing that Cathay Pacific had its Singapore operations out of Terminal 1, we knew that the only way to access Terminal 1 would be to take the Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain from Terminal 3.

With that, we walked along the departures and check-in area of Terminal 3 towards the Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain station, arriving there by 11.35 a.m.. Soon enough, the nearest skytrain bound for Terminal 1 finally arrived at the platform just a couple of minutes later. Immediately, we stepped onto the train, and once the doors were closed, the skytrain finally pulled out of Terminal 3 towards Terminal 1. The entire ride between both terminals took no more than just a minute.


The departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain station in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain ~ Departure from Terminal 3

After a short one-minute Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain ride from Terminal 3, we finally arrived at Terminal 1 by 11.40 a.m.. Grabbing all of our belongings with us, we alighted the train and proceeded towards the Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in counter in the departures and check-in area.

As soon as we arrived at the Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in counter, we checked ourselves in for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong via Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi). The entire check-in process took no more than 10 minutes.

Cathay Pacific (Traditional Chinese: 國泰航空公司; Simplified Chinese: 国泰航空公司) is the flag carrier and the largest airline of Hong Kong. The airline maintains its headquarters and main hub at Hong Kong International Airport. It offers at least 60 destinations to North America, Oceania, Africa, the European Union and Asia from its hub in Hong Kong, using a mixed fleet of Airbus A330s, Airbus A340s, Boeing 747s and Boeing 777s.

The airline is also a founding member of Oneworld, the world's second airline alliance formed on 1 February 1999. Cathay Pacific, along with American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas banded together to form the alliance. Cathay Pacific also owns a subsidiary, Dragonair, which mainly offers destinations within the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) and certain regional destinations within Asia.


The departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in counter in the departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

After checking in for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong via Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi), we finally received our boarding passes and invitations to sample the Skyview Lounge. The check-in agent informed us that Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong via Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) would depart from Gate No. D32, but would be delayed due to excessive ground problems. She then told us that the new departure time would be shifted to 2.30 p.m., and that boarding would commence approximately ½ an hour prior to the scheduled departure time.

With that, we thanked the check-in agent for her services, and proceeded towards the passport control area. To clear the passport control area, we used the thumb fingerprint checkpoint, which is reserved exclusively for Singaporean citizens, as well as for permanent residents of Singapore.

Soon enough, we were finally in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 by 11.55 a.m.. The very first thing we did in the airside was to proceed to a nearby money exchange counter in Concourse D to change some of our Singapore dollars into Thai baht. After that, we proceeded to the Skyview Lounge, arriving there by 12.05 p.m.. Many areas around Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 were still being renovated at that time.

Once we had reached the main reception counter at the Skyview Lounge, the lounge receptionist checked our invitation cards, and welcomed us in. While at the Skyview Lounge, we charged our electronics and had some light snacks and beverages. I also did some plane-spotting in the lounge at the same time.


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

The list of airlines using the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge for their First & Business Class passengers in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The departure flight information screen in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

Finally in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

Walking along the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 towards Concourse D

A lineup of shops and money exchange counters in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 near Concourse D

Finally approaching the Skyview Lounge in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The interior of the Skyview Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

A Thai Airways International Boeing 777-3D7 aircraft receiving her last minute preparations at Gate No. D34 in preparation for her afternoon journey back home to the Kingdom of Thailand as Thai Airways International flight TG 404 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

The main reception area at the Skyview Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The departure flight information screen in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 near Concourse D

A Times Bookstore located in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

Our aircraft for today, B-LAB, resting at Gate No. D32 after arriving from the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong as Cathay Pacific flight CX 759 from Hong Kong

The tailfin of B-LAB at Gate No. D32

A China Airlines Airbus A330-302, registered B-18310, resting at Gate No. D34 before her servicing in preparation for her afternoon journey back home to the Republic of China (Taiwan) as China Airlines flight CI 754 bound for Taipei (Taoyuan)

Part 2 ~ The Flight to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

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

After charging our electronics and having some light treats in the Skyview Lounge for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes, the clock was finally showing 1.25 p.m.. Knowing that boarding for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong via Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) would commence in ½ an hour's time, we immediately packed up our baggage and left the lounge by 1.30 p.m. for Gate No. D32. The entire walk between the Skyview Lounge and Gate No. D32 took no more than five minutes.

Soon enough, we finally arrived outside the entrance to Gate No. D32 at 1.35 p.m., which was just in good time for boarding to commence in 20 minutes' time. With just a quick security check, we were finally in the passenger waiting room by 1.40 p.m..

Today, Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Hong Kong would be operated using an Airbus A330-300, registered B-LAB and powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines. B-LAB was delivered new to Cathay Pacific on 17 June 2005 as the 25th Airbus A330-300 and Airbus A330 for the airline. The overall delivery made the aircraft approximately 6.2 years old at that time.


Walking along the passageway along Concourse D towards Gate No. D32

The signboards outside Gate No. D32 in Concourse D

The departure information screen above the entrance to Gate No. D32 showing the details for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

Our aircraft for today, B-LAB, being serviced at Gate No. D32 in preparation for her journey back home to the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong as Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Hong Kong via Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

A closeup of B-LAB being serviced at Gate No. D32

The passenger waiting area in Gate No. D32 packed with waiting passengers for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Hong Kong

After spending approximately just five minutes of anticipated waiting inside the passenger waiting room, the first boarding calls for Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Hong Kong were finally made at 1.45 p.m.. The Business Class passengers and the Asia Miles & Marco Polo Club members, as well as the passengers requiring special assistance were called to board the aircraft first.

With the first boarding calls being made, we grabbed all our belongings and rolled up for the boarding process. As we walked along the jet bridge towards Door A, we were finally on board B-LAB at 1.55 p.m., which was just in good time for a 2.30 p.m. departure. At Door A, two cheery flight attendants warmly welcomed us on board and showed us the direction towards our seats in the Business Class cabin.

The Business Class seats we would be using for the regional hop of 2 hours 20 minutes towards Bangkok were the older, regional type of seats. On Cathay Pacific, these seats are mainly found on selected Airbus A330-300s and the entire fleet Boeing 777-200s and Boeing 777-300s. Once we had arrived at our seats, we stowed away all of our belongings and settled down for the journey to commence.

The flight attendants then did their usual pre-flight routines of distributing the food and beverage menus, pre-departure beverages and free newspapers to the Business Class passengers. To commence, I had my usual pre-departure glass of orange juice before settling down for the journey.


The Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin during the boarding process in Singapore Changi Airport

My usual pre-departure glass of orange juice to commence with

The contents from my front seat pocket

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

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the segment between Singapore and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

Reviewing the food and beverage menu for the segment between Singapore and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

The cover page for the wine list for the segment between Singapore and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

Reviewing the wine list for the segment between Singapore and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

My boarding pass for the segment between Singapore and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

At 2.25 p.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. D32, five minutes ahead of schedule. As the safety briefing demonstration video was being shown on our personal video screens, we began to make our way towards our assigned runway for take-off. We then taxied past several aircraft parked at Terminals 1 and 3 on our way towards our assigned runway.

After a relatively short 25-minute taxi towards our assigned runway, the two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Singapore Changi Airport at 2.50 p.m.. We then climbed into the relatively cloudy afternoon sky for a regional flight time of 2 hours 05 minutes over the Straits of Malaysia and Thailand towards the capital city of the Kingdom of Thailand.


The safety briefing information video being shown on my personal video screen

Taxiing along the tarmacs of Singapore Changi Airport towards our assigned runway

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

Cruising over the Johor Strait shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seatbelt' signs illuminated shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

The seatbelt sign was switched off at three o' clock, approximately 10 minutes after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport. As the flight crew sprung into action to commence the in-flight lunch service, I paid a visit to the lavatory before settling further into the short journey.

Just a few moments later, a flight attendant came over to our seats to take down our main meal orders for lunch. Both my dad and I opted to have the braised beef short rib with Kenya beans and fettuccine as our main courses. The flight attendant then took down our desired lunch orders, and disappeared into the galley again to prepare some linen for our dining tables.


A view of my seat, 15K, shortly after the seat belt sign was turned off

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

The Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin shortly before the in-flight lunch service commenced

Cruising over the South China Sea between Singapore and Malaysia

A warning placard in the lavatory that warns passengers that smoking or tampering with smoke detectors in the lavatories may constitute an offence

The view of my meal tray on my dining table

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the in-flight lunch service

After spending almost 25 minutes of anticipated waiting, the flight attendant finally re-appeared at our seats by 3.25 p.m., with our requested main courses safe in her hands. Once they had been placed on our tables, we immediately tucked into our in-flight meals.

With the first cut and bite, I immediately discovered that the beef tasted very tender and succulent, with the beans and fettuccine being the perfect accompaniments for the dish. Both my dad and I had to agree that this was one of the best beef dishes we have ever eaten in the air. For that, I would award Cathay Pacific full marks.

Once we had finished off our main courses, the flight attendant came by towards our seats again to clear our meal trays. Since I was too full for any dessert, I simply asked her for a cup of hot milk tea to end off this wonderful in-flight meal. Once I had finished my tea, the in-flight duty-free service commenced approximately 45 minutes before descent into Suvarnabhumi Airport.

From the in-flight duty-free service, I managed to purchase a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400CXcitement Exclusive Scale 1:500 aircraft model. Soon enough, we were left to our own devices for the remainder of the flight, until the seatbelt sign was illuminated for landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport.

As for the model I purchased on board, the details are as follows:

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)

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

My meal tray shortly after finishing off my main lunch course

A nice, warm mug of hot milk tea for myself

Cruising over a blanket of clouds somewhere between the border of Malaysia and Thailand

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly before the seat belt sign was illuminated for landing

My newly-purchased Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 CXcitement Exclusive aircraft model

Cruising over some sparse settlement areas in Thailand

In accordance with the Thailand Standard Timing, the seat belt sign was illuminated at 3.40 p.m., ¼ of an hour in preparation for descent into Suvarnabhumi Airport. Knowing that were about to arrive in Bangkok very soon, we quickly stowed away all of our belongings, and buckled up in preparation for the landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The aircraft cruised over rivers and several rice paddy fields during its final descent into Suvarnabhumi Airport. After a regional flight time of 2 hours 05 minutes over the South China Sea from the Republic of Singapore, we finally touched down in Suvarnabhumi Airport at 3.55 p.m., five minutes behind schedule.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (Thai: ท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ) is one of the two international airports serving Bangkok, Thailand. It serves is the main international airport serving the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, and the largest and busiest airport in the Kingdom of Thailand. The airport was opened for business on 28 September 2006 for most domestic and all international flights, which previously operated out of the older Don Mueang International Airport.

The airport serves as the main hub for Bangkok Airways, Orient Thai Airlines and Thai Airways International, as well as an important Southeast Asian destination for many foreign carriers like Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways. On 28 October 2012, all of the low-cost international flights, as well as some domestic flights, re-located back to the older Don Mueang International Airport.


The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seatbelt' signs illuminated in preparation for arrival into Bangkok

A river flowing through the periphery areas of Thailand as the aircraft makes its final approach towards Suvarnabhumi Airport

Flying over several farm fields as the aircraft makes its final approach towards Suvarnabhumi Airport

Cathay Pacific Flight 712 ~ Landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport

An El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 747-458 resting on the tarmac after arriving from her long trans-Indian Ocean journey from the State of Israel as El Al Israel Airlines flight LY 081 from Tel Aviv. She will then be heading back home to Israel later tonight as El Al Israel Airlines flight LY 082 bound for Tel Aviv

The tarmac view of Suvarnabhumi Airport as we make our way towards the terminal building

A view of my seat, 15K, shortly after docking on to Gate No. G3

After taxiing along the tarmac of Suvarnabhumi Airport for approximately just five minutes, we finally docked on to our arrival gate, Gate No. G3, at four o' clock. The passengers continuing on towards Hong Kong were either permitted to remain on board during the layover or disembark and be back at at the gate before departure.

Once the seatbelt signs were turned off, we immediately unbuckled and took all of our belongings from their storage areas, ensuring that none of them had been left behind. As we exited the aircraft, the flight attendants thanked us for our flying experiences with Cathay Pacific, and wished us a pleasant stay in Bangkok.

As of now, the airline grade system are as follows, with 'D' being the minimum grade for a pass:

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: 40% ~ 49% (Airline has a fair rating and performance)
E: 20 % ~ 39% (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 a total aggregate of 97% for the in-bound segment from Singapore to Bangkok, which earns them the highest grade, an 'A+'. Since my second experience with the airline in 2010, Cathay Pacific has been scoring quite high aggregates, and this has been an overall pleasant regional journey with them. Personally, I think I won't hesitate to fly with them again in future.

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

After disembarking from Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 from Singapore, we walked along the moving passageway towards the immigrations area. Upon arriving at the immigrations area, we noticed that it was relatively crowded, with lots of tourists coming to Bangkok either for business or leisure purposes. Once we had cleared the immigrations area, I went to the baggage belt information screen to check which belt our check-in baggage would be arriving at.

According to the baggage information screen, all check-in baggage from Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 from Singapore would arrive at Belt No. 22. Without wasting anymore time, we grabbed a few baggage trolleys and proceeded towards Belt No. 22 to claim our check-in baggage before heading into the arrival hall.

After claiming all of our baggage and loading them onto the baggage trolleys, we finally stepped foot into the arrival and meeting hall at 4.20 p.m.. A gentlemen, who was holding up the sign with our names for the Centara Grand & Bangkok Covention Centre at CentralWorld, came to meet us in the arrival hall.

As we walked towards the luxury cab that was waiting for us at the curbside, the gentleman helped us to push our baggage towards the waiting cab. While he helped my parents load our baggage into the boot of the cab, my brother and I boarded. Soon enough, we finally departed the compound of Suvarnabhumi Airport at 4.30 p.m. for a short journey time of an hour towards the Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld.

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