AC Premium Economy YVR-HK

September 18, 2014

It wasn’t long at home in Ottawa after our electives in Nova Scotia until we had to go back to Brisbane.

One on hand, I was tired of living out of a suitcase these last 2 months and excited to get settled back into our house with Mike. On the other hand, I wanted to stay in Canada longer with my family and friends!

We had an early 7:45am flight – thank you to my mom, brother and Uncle 3 for taking us (and all our luggage) to the airport!

Last selfie in Ottawa… I really don’t know when we’ll be back 😦

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We usually book our international flights out of Canada with Air Canada, for their prices and good service. While looking into our flight back to Brisbane, Michael came across Air Canada’s Premium Economy Class, which at the time, cost approximately $100 more than a regular economy class ticket. A section in between business class and economy class, sounded appealing!

After a bit of research, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fly Premium Economy at such a low additional cost. You can read more about it HERE, but these are some of the perks we appreciated with Premium Economy class:

  • Wider seats, more recline, more legroom
  • Larger entertainment screen
  • 2 checked bags
  • Hot towel service and premium meals served on china dishware
  • Amenity kit
  • Earn 125% Aeroplan Miles
  • Best of all: priority check in, boarding and baggage handling

There are currently only a few selected routes that offer Premium Economy, including Montreal to Paris and Vancouver to London. We chose to fly Vancouver to Hong Kong.

Although we bought a Premium Economy ticket from Ottawa to Hong Kong, that class was (as expected) not available on our flight from Ottawa to Vancouver. Instead, we were given preferred seats (extra leg room, close to front) with a complimentary meal. We were also able to enjoy all the priority services with this leg of the flight – which to us, is one of the best parts of traveling.

Vancouver to Hong Kong was much more exciting 😛

Flight AC007 on a 77W
Seats 14A & 14B
Depart Vancouver 13:00 Sept 18
Arrive Hong Kong 17:05 Sept 19
Flight time: Approx 11.5 hrs

Here is what the cabin looked like. Surprisingly, it was practically empty, there must’ve been around 10 of us in total.

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The seats, as you can see, are wider (50.8cm) with more leg room (7″)

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Felt quite spacious!

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Larger screens at 26.4cm/10.4in

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Settled in and ready for a long flight!

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Our welcome beverage of orange juice – no other choices were offered.

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Our flight menu, handed out at the beginning of our flight along with newspapers

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Our amenity kit. Had the essentials (toothbrush/toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, and socks) although not nearly as nice as the ones given in Business/First class 😉

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Our first meal of green salad with balsamic olive oil dressing. Grilled Alberta AAA beef tenderloin with morel mushroom sauce, red skin mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, broccolini, zucchini and carrots. Bread and butter. Cappuccino cake. The salad was fresh and crisp although I’ve had much better bread. Beef was well done and bland, however, the meal was overall good, especially because the dessert was quite nice.

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Wine was good too!

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We did not realize that only one meal was premium. For our next meal, it was the same as served in Economy class. A choice between Shanghai noodles with chicken or Beef stroganoff with mushroom cream sauce and rotini pasta, with bread and a fruit salad. Meal was so so!

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Prior to landing, we were also served a snack of chicken salad sandwich and Peak Freans cookies.

Despite the cabin being nearly empty, we found the service to run the extremes – either super rushed or insanely slow. For example, flight attendants flew around the cabin to give us menus and amenity kits and just as quickly zipped away. Later during the flight, when we pushed the call button, we were actually never attended to – which has never happened to us, ever, on any flight. I had garbage leftover from a meal that was never collected and I wanted to get rid of it so I could stow away my table while Mike wanted a drink. During our 15+ minute wait, we rang the bell 3 times, in case they didn’t hear us or was busy at the time and forgot. Eventually, we were able to flag an attendant who appeared but disregarded our call light. Service was particularly disappointing, as it was way below the average service we’ve received in Economy class.

Some of the advertised perks of Premium Economy are not unique, such as power outlets/USB ports and complimentary wine & spirits, and pillow/blanket (did not receive a ‘large’ pillow like advertised) which are also available for Economy Class passengers.

Overall, we definitely enjoyed the flight and the perks that came with it, especially priority services, extra baggage, extra seat and leg room, and better food. Would we purchase a Premium Economy class ticket again? Yes, certainly if the price difference was as small as this time!

 

 

DHAL: July 13-19, 2014 – Ottawa for a week!

One week home in Ottawa, been looking forward to this for weeks! 🙂

Michael and I aren’t planning on going home for over summer/Christmas holidays, since our graduation date isn’t until December 20th and we expect to be moving and preparing for a job rural at the end of the year, hopefully! This rotation is our opportunity to spend some time in Canada… so who knows when we will be back next!

Spent some quality time with the family!

Got to eat one of my favourite Vietnamese meals – Bo Bia! Fresh rolls with Chinese sausage, sauteed turnip, egg and veggies including Thai basil dipped in a hoison peanut sauce – thanks mum!

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A meal selfie!

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My mom’s famous deboned, stuffed, and breaded chicken wings! Delicious! And some homemade samosas

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And with my grandparents!

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Trying out my grandpa’s first batch of banana lime liqueur – coming along well!

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We enjoyed quite a few different taste testings, haha!

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I finally got to meet Benny! The dog my brother adopted earlier this year who is now considered the baby of the house and my mum’s favourite. He’s a cutie and (mostly) really well behaved but always gets a little too excited when new people come over that he pees on them.

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He’s a sweetheart and a whiner, always crying and looking out the window if you leave him behind.

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And he loves his balls and squeaky toys…

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Had the opportunity to go down to Perth Road Village to spend some quality time with Mike’s family on July 14th. Their property is by a lake and very cottage-like, so it was very nice and relaxing! Mike’s brother Matt and sister in law Jessica recently had their 2nd child – Rinoa, who’s super cute! Their oldest, Jasper has grown so much since I last saw him!

Some of my favourite photos, you can view all of them HERE.

Matt, Jessica and Jasper out on a canoe ride

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Matt & Jess’ dog Bubba – not feeling well today.

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Father son laughs

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Auntie and niece bonding time.

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Little Rinoa

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Tummy tickles!

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Like father like son

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Hanging out with Uncle Mike

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Indeed!

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A pair of loons and a baby! We tried to get as close as we could without being intrusive and they certainly kept an eye on us the whole time just in case!

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This dinosaur

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Got to satisfy a few of my cravings! Including McDonald’s McGriddle breakfast (mmm sweet and salty, maple syrup and sausage) and of course, Shawarma Palace with their awesome garlic sauce! Not shown: Stops at Tim Horton’s!

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Even had time to catch up with some of my best girls! Thanks for coming over on July 17th Atong, Julia and Hue!

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Julia loved Benny!

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Julia requested Cuttlefish snacks by Nong Shim, which apparently can’t be found in Ottawa anymore. They are delicious though, even Mike’s hooked on them.

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A lovely engagement gift from Julia & Atong 🙂 A family cookbook that even has room for photos!

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And perhaps most importantly, my mum held an unofficial engagement dinner with Michael’s parents so they could formally meet all of my family. This was on Friday, July 18th, the night before both Michael and I flew out to our respective electives. We decided to have dinner at Chu Shing and luckily, only a handful of family were missing. It was the usual family deal, chaotic but I think it went well! Thank you also very much to my grandparents and to Ong Tia Ba Y for their generous gifts!

Some of the photos!

Selfie at the dinner table

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With Mike’s parents, my mum, my grandparents, and my dad’s aunt and uncle.

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The elders!

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All my aunts and uncles (except for my 4th aunt who was in LA with her daughter Lilian) and a few of the cousins

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Some more cousins as well as Aunt Diane, Uncle Andrew (my great aunt and uncle’s daughter) and their 3 children.

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Group photo!

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With my dad’s side of the family

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Aren’t I lovely?

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With Michael’s family. Unfortunately, his sister Meaghan was not able to join us due to work. His brother has 2 small children on an early schedule and it’s a drive up from Kingston!

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Before heading home, we dropped by Phuket Royal, a restaurant where my cousin Kevin was working (couldn’t make it to our dinner) to say hi. He was just getting off work so we decided to go to My Sweet Tea to catch up over bubble tea. We didn’t get back until past midnight, and Mike and I still needed to pack! Needless to say, it was a late night.

Woke up at 4:30am the next morning to have breakfast together at Perkins with Di Nam before heading to the airport for my 7am flight to Vancouver. Good bye family and see you again soon!

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They’ve changed the format of the security line at the Ottawa Airport to be extremely inefficient, causing myself and a number of other passengers to almost miss our flight. At other airports, once passengers go through security, they may be pulled aside to a different station for an explosives scan, which is when they swab the outside and also open your bags to swab the inside and test for explosives. For whatever reason, Ottawa has decided to incorporate the explosives scan as part of their security line, before your bags go through the scanner. The ENTIRE security line gets held up when someone’s having their bag tested. Meaning nobody’s bags are being scanned and nobody is walking through the metal detectors. Completely inefficient, I don’t know what they were thinking, but they better change that.

My sister met me once I landed in Vancouver and we had time to grab a quick bite to eat before I had to start heading to Horseshoe Bay to catch my ferry to Nanaimo. It took a good 2 hours to get there from the airport via the SkyTrain into the city and then bus to the ferry terminal. More about Nanaimo in my next post!

DHAL: July 12, 2014 – Back to Canada!

The day I flew back to Canada! And because of going back in time, 2 days in one!

This was my flight schedule:

Brisbane to Los Angeles (with Qantas) with approximately a 3 hour layover. First point of entry into USA so needed to take out and recheck in my luggage… even though I was only flying through. I don’t remember ever having to do this in other countries?

Los Angeles to Chicago (with Qantas) and only a 1 hr layover. As long as I could get my boarding for the next leg before arriving to Chicago, it should be okay.

Finally, Chicago to Ottawa (with United Airlines operated by Express Jet) arriving at 7pm on July 12.

The day immediately started off on the wrong foot when I dropped off my luggage at the Qantas counter in Brisbane. The lady was grumpy and raised her voice at me when I inquired about being unable to print a Chicago to Ottawa boarding pass after checking in online. She practically called me stupid for purchasing a flight with so little layover time and “kindly suggested” not doing it in the future. Knowing it was going to be a long day, I didn’t have it in me to deal with her. It wasn’t until I was boarding my flight later that I realised she never gave me my baggage tickets. If my baggage got lost, I wouldn’t have a reference number to locate it with.

Next was going through security. I had never seen the line up so long before, it was snaking around the entrance foyer twice. I guess good thing I arrived with plenty of time! When I finally reached the security scanner, I took out the usuals of my laptop and liquids in a clear plastic bag. Some airports also require that you take out your iPad as well. Noticing that the man in front of me had taken out his iPad, I took a step forward to ask the employee if he wanted me to take mine out as well. Before I could even open my mouth, he barked at me saying, “Get back and stay with your bags!” He thought I was trying to go through the metal detector, which I wasn’t and told him so. He said I didn’t have to take my iPad out and then sent me through the metal detector. Thinking finally, I’m through this line, can you guess what happened? They scanned my bag, the employee working the scanner said he needed to search my bag, took out my iPad and sent everything through the scanner again. In the meantime, people behind me are being held up as well. Unbelievable.

Finally through security, of course I was “randomly chosen” for an explosives scan. So used to it, I lifted my bags on the counter before the employee even asked. “You’ve done this before obviously!” he joked. Yep, I answered, every time!

After going through Customs and with all the airport procedures behind me, I headed to the gate early and settled down. Was able to chat with my mum and give Mike a call as well. I told them my concern of missing the connecting flight from Chicago to Ottawa and we all agreed that hopefully I’ll have time in LA to grab that boarding pass from United Airlines.

Flight from Brisbane to LA was around 13 hours long but felt more like 20. The airline food was actually delicious, I was quite impressed! I chose a lunch of chicken salad with aioli sauce that was quite filling and full of fresh crisp vegetables including peas, radicchio, and celery and cucumber. Hot breakfast was a spinach frittata with beans and sausage. I also realised halfway through the flight that there is a galley in the back filled with goodies for passengers. Fully lining a backlit wall were snacks of Anzac biscuits and savoury biscotti, as well as amenities including socks and toothbrush kits. Service was great and being in an aisle seat allowed me to get up and stretch whenever I wanted without disturbing fellow passengers.

I was pleasantly surprised when I landed in LA and had someone greet me at the gate with an express envelope allowing me access to priority lines through customs and security, as well as boarding passes for the remainder of my trip. I shouldn’t be missing any flights now!

Once I collected my bags, I was directed into the express line, where I waited… and waited. Watching all other passengers fly through the non-express lanes. Why? Because there were nearly 10 normal lines and 1 express. One customs agent was alternating between my line and a regular one next to me. After a while, he skipped our line all together. After a few passengers in the next line were called and we remained ignored, I asked the gentleman in the next lane if it would be alright for me to go next, he agreed. When the agent called out, “Next!” I thanked the man again and proceeded to push my luggage cart towards the desk when the agent quickly yelled at me saying, “I was calling this line, not you! Get back in line and wait for another agent to call you!” I was appalled. What is the point of having an express lane when it is moving slower than a regular lane, even worse, not moving at all? Luckily, I could afford the wait, but I’m sure there were other passengers behind me who were genuinely concerned, and may have even missed their flight.

Unfortunately, it was all in vain. The LA to Chicago flight ended up being delayed for over an hour, causing me to automatically miss my connecting flight to Ottawa. In the past when I’ve missed flights with other airlines, I have been automatically met at the arrival gate with new boarding passes for the next available flight. It was not the case this time. Before disembarking, we were told to talk to the agents at the gate, who directed us to a panel of phones, called the “Rebooking Centre” to rebook the flights ourselves. I looked around while being on hold for what seemed like ages at other passengers who like me, were tired and frustrated at such a slow process. Eventually, I was put on another flight later that evening but had to find the United Airlines desk to collect my boarding pass.

This was when I realised the Chicago O’Hare Intl Airport is humongous. I stopped to ask a man driving an airport buggy for directions to the United Airlines counter. He informed me it was in the next terminal which is quite a distance away and offered to drive me there. It was a small gesture, but appreciated nonetheless!

Eventually, I made my way to the United Airlines counter, got my boarding pass, and asked about ensuring my luggage would be put on the correct flight. If you remember, I was never given baggage tickets so there was no way to track my bags. I ended up having to give them a physical description of my bags and just cross my fingers that they make it back to Ottawa with me.

Soon I was finally boarding a teeny tiny plane back to Ottawa. The flight was short and I remember the elder man who sat next to me. He spent the flight completing Sudoku puzzles and looked very physically fit. Made me think, I hope I keep myself mentally and physically engaged like that in old age!

Landed in Ottawa to find out one of 2 of my luggage pieces made it to Ottawa. I wasn’t too concerned but had to wait in line to file a claim. When I was asked what was in my piece of missing luggage, I replied, “Inside the suitcase is a cardboard box, filled with ginger beer, candies, and biscuits… for real.” 😛 By the time I was done, I was the last person on the flight to walk out.

My mom, my brother, my aunt and Mike were the only people still waiting arriving passengers… finally home!! Finally reunited with Michael, and my family!

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Trip Report – Business Class: YOW-LHR-PEK-SIN-BNE

(Note: I think this is going to be a long post, but I hope you enjoy!)

Hello friends!

On January 7th, Michael and I began our journey from Ottawa back to Brisbane… in style 😉

With 90 000 Aeroplan points and the most lovely agent on the phone, we were able to book our entire flight back in Business Class, going the long way. Of course, we had to pay taxes, which came to approximately $600.

Here was our flight itinerary:

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And so begins my amateur trip report! It certainly was an enjoyable first experience, definitely wanted to document and share!

January 7, 2014

Flight AC888 YOW-LHR (Boeing 767-300)
Departing Ottawa at 9:45pm
Arriving in London Heathrow at 9:35am Jan 08
Flight time: Approx 5hrs 40mins

Seats 2C and 2F

We said farewell to our family around 8pm at the airport and headed in through security. One of the best things about flying executive quickly became clear. Priority lines. For everything. Makes life so much easier.

Once through security, we headed to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. A worn but roomy lounge with ample seating space. A conservative but good selection of drinks. There were also snacks, including some hot foods, I believe. We didn’t take a closer look, mainly due to being stuffed from dinner.

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The lounge was quite deserted and quiet, but good environment to get some work done. Also a nice view of planes landing and departing for those who are interested. Bathrooms were spacious with large, private stalls and anything you might need (feminine hygiene products, body lotion, etc).

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Boarded without any issues and I got to experience the Classic Pod for the first time. Not to mention they recline completely flat! Although slightly sad that configuration was 1-1-1 because it meant I couldn’t talk to Michael at all while seated.

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We left around an hour late due to bad weather outside Ottawa causing half the crew needing to come in via taxi from Montreal.

Hot towel, champagne and nuts right after take off as opposed to before due to lack of staff – no problem!

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Every year, Michael and I exchange cards on our flight back to Brisbane. Continuing with that tradition and reading my card after take off.

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Happy in his seat under mood lighting.

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Dinner was quite tasty, I was impressed.

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Appetizer: Nova Scotia lobster, seared scallop and marinated shrimp served with quinoa salad and caper tartar sauce.

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Salad: Mixed greens, grape tomatoes and Parmesan served with balsamic vinaigrette. Also had warm crusty bread.

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There were a choice of 4 mains, I chose the Ricotta and spinach ravioli offered with rose sauce, basil chiffonade, portobello mushrooms and parmesan. The ravioli was delicious but I simply couldn’t finish it all.

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Mike chose the Sauteed Atlantic salmon accompanied by lemon and scallion sauce, a grain medley of wheat berries, long grain rice and acini di pepe pasta, french beans and baby carrots. Slightly dry salmon but good flavours and definitely good quality for airplane food. No photo, sorry!

For dessert, a chocolate pecan brownie with whipped cream. Certainly not close to being one of the best brownies I’ve ever had but still good, nice and warm too. I passed on the cream.

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A decent wine selection but no Canadian choices, which I thought was a shame!

One of my favourite aspects of these flights – amenity kits. This one was compact and included the usual items (eye mask, toothbrush, tooth paste, ear plugs, socks) as well as some beauty products by Vancouver company Escents.

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In terms of service, nothing was lacking. However, both Michael and I felt pleasantries were forced rather than genuine coming from one particular flight attendant. Going up to every single passenger with a list in your hand, mumbling or butchering names while saying the exact same greeting to each person comes across as robotic. When we greet people and are unsure of how to pronounce their name, the easiest and most polite thing to do is to simply ask, “Excuse me, how do I correctly pronounce your name?” Such a simple thing to do and you look a lot less ignorant.

I had ambitious plans to stay awake and get a lot of studying done for my MCCEE. Yea, that didn’t happen. I slept most of the flight, eventually waking up to have breakfast before landing.

Continental breakfast consisted of fresh orange juice, sliced seasonal fruit, yogurt and croissants (and blueberry muffins I didn’t see) with butter and preserves.

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And soon we touched down in London! We made a quick stop in the AC Arrival Lounge to freshen up before heading into the city. Paid a small fee to store our carry on luggage at the airport and headed into the city via the Heathrow Express Train (£34/person return).

On the train for just a short 15 minute ride into the city!

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Arrived at Paddington station!

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Being on the streets of London for the first time!

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Due to our short layover (approx 8 hours total), we decided to go on a tour with The Original London Sightseeing Tour. The bus tour was great, we didn’t hop on and off like we would’ve it we had more time but got to see most of what it had to offer. It eventually got pretty cold being on the top of the double decker bus and not moving around at all! 😛

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Here’s a short video I put together of the sights we saw! London is beautiful, we’d love to come back and visit again when we have time… and money!

We eventually made our way back to Heathrow Airport. I didn’t take any photos of the Star Alliance lounge but it was packed, even for 2 levels. Apparently many flights going into North America were delayed due to bad weather which explained why the lounge was so busy. Had a nice shower to recharge for the next leg of our journey and enjoyed some snacks and drinks as well. 

Sooner than we wanted, we were zipping through lines in order to board our next flight with Air China to Beijing.

January 8, 2014

Flight CA938 LHR-PEK (Boeing 777-200)
Departing London at 5:40pm
Arriving in Beijing at 11:25am Jan 9
Flight time: 9hrs 15mins

Seats 16A and 16C

Warm greetings from all the staff, a near empty cabin and seats actually beside each other, we immediately knew we were going to enjoy this flight.

Within minutes of being seated, we were given our noise-cancelling headphones, amenity kit, slippers and menu. 

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Amenity kit with L’Occitane de Provence products, lovely!

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And of course, champagne for take off 🙂

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Good bye London!

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I didn’t take any photos of the cabin, but here are some from other (as linked) sources

Wine and more champagne

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Air China was serving their Winter menus. 

For dinner, Michael chose to have the Western option, which consisted of the following:

Amuse Bouche: Asparagus wrapped in parma ham, Scallop with keta caviar and radish and Hot Canape: Chicken kebab with chili sauce, Veg brochette

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Assorted bread roll served with butter

Appetizer: Seared scallops with noodles

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Salad: Fresh seasonal salad mix with Italian dressing or basil vinaigrette

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Main courses: Beef fillet served with Frisse risotto & vegetables OR Blue cheese gnocchi spinach & pine nut kernels

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Dessert: Apple crumble tart OR Bread & butter pudding OR selection of cheese with crackers

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Seasonal fresh fruit

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Overall, Michael enjoyed all components of his meal and found everything quite tasty! And of course, very filling 🙂

For myself, the Chinese option which consisted of the same amuse bouche, hot canape, breads and dessert options, with the following differences:

Appetizer: Poached chicken thigh with sesame soy dressing, mushroom shitake with julienne carrot, and mixed peppers with black bean sauce

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Main courses: Monkfish with hot bean sauce served with peppers, asparagus and carrots OR Chicken Yu Hsiang Aubergine served with brocoli (both options include steamed rice).

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I chose the Chinese option because I thought of all airlines, Air China would have Chinese food down pat. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The food was alright but mostly bland. Comparing our meals, the Western option is certainly more elegant with much better and sophisticated ingredients.

Like the previous flight, these seats also laid completely flat, it was wonderful! Again, I didn’t get much studying but a lot of sleeping done. 😛

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The flight certainly didn’t go by quickly, but was very comfortable and enjoyable. Service was impeccable and the bathrooms were spacious and well maintained. Air China has a small but decent drinks list, although we didn’t take advantage of it.

Lovely views passing by Mongolia!

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Breakfast!

As I had already chosen the Chinese breakfast option, I was anticipating disappointment after the first meal, haha!

My meal consisted of:

Plain rice congee with pickles, pickled spicy radish julienne, and mushroom wood fungus julienne. I’m normally a huge fan of pickles and especially fungus but again, not very flavourful.

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Dim sum with shrimp dumpling, sieu mai, char sieu bun, and chive & prawn dumpling. The dim sum was tasty, thank goodness!

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Mike had his Western breakfast of Scrambled eggs with bacon sausage & grilled tomato. Also danish, croissant, pain au choc & breakfast rolls with butter, marmalade, honey, cornflakes & milk, and fresh fruit. Of course he enjoyed his meal immensely!

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Again, comparing our meals, the Western option is much more substantial with more flavours.

Soon landing in Beijing!

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Check out the crazy smog pollution… the closer we got to the city…

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I was last in Beijing in 2007, around a year before the Beijing Olympics. I remember the airport service being horrendous with poor service and extreme lacking in English speaking staff for international flights.

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The airport is still not completely efficient as they had only 1 kiosk open to proceed to international transfers. As a result, a haphazard, huge snaking line coiled around a tiny space that blocked way for further incoming passengers. Should’ve taken photos!

Once through security, we proceeded to International Air China Business Lounge (serving all Star Alliance members) located on the 2nd floor.

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The lounge itself is quite spacious with plenty of seating area, and multiple stations to get snacks (packaged pastries and sandwiches) and non-alcoholic drinks.

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There is also a separate hot food station. However, like the airline food, I don’t quite understand how the quality of Asian styled food is so low. It might taste alright if you are extremely hungry, however, we certainly didn’t go for seconds.

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And unless we were mistaken and couldn’t locate other bathrooms, there are only 3-4 bathroom stalls in the entirety of the lounge, not enough!

The bar

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Otherwise a relaxing layover!

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View from the lounge

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Heading to our boarding gate!

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January 9, 2014

Flight CA969 PEK-SIN (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Beijing at 3:25pm
Arriving in Singapore at 9:45pm Jan 9
Flight time: Approx 6 hrs

Seats 13D and 13H

Again, service was lovely as we boarded and settled into our seats. Although the seats were not as nice or private, we did find the cabin more spacious and open. We also liked the insect-antennae lamps.

The seats beside us.

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Unfortunately, the cabin was quite full, with many Chinese passengers who find hoarking (Is this a real word? To bring up sputum and snot by snorting and hoarking) and spitting completely socially acceptable, as well as talking at full volume. Oh well, such is life!

No amenity kit either… 😦 But champagne for take off!

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Meals! We switched things up this flight. Mike decided to opt for the Chinese dinner option, consisting of:

Appetizer: Five spice smoked pomfret and Chinese salad: Marinated bran with vegetables and peanut

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Main courses: Gong Bao prawn OR braised chicken and chestnut with yellow wine sauce, both served with steamed pearl rice and seasonal vegetables, OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

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Michael found the meal, “meh.” The main course was alright but he didn’t touch the pomfret and most of the salad.

Learning from my previous mistake, I chose the Western option this time, which should have included:

  • Amuse bouche: Tea smoked duck breast
  • Hot canape: prawn skewer with Thai chili sauce
  • Appetizer: Baltic style smoked salmon with black pepper
  • Salad: Fresh seasonal salad leaf with French dressing or Chinese vinaigrette.
  • Assorted bread roll served with butter
  • Main courses: Baked Tandoori fish served with raisin turmeric rice and curried vegetable OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

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Unfortunately, bad luck struck again! Although I received my main course, apparently, they had made a mistake and were completely out of the other Western dishes. I said not a problem and accepted the Chinese side dishes… which weren’t very good and like Michael’s, remained mostly untouched. The Tandoori fish was very spicy and salty, I couldn’t finish it although the rice was extremely flavourful! Curried vegetables were mushy snow peas though 😦

Dessert: Hazelnut cake OR orange flavour chocolate cake OR selection of cheese with crackers AND seasonal fresh fruits.

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Cakes were alright but not tasty enough to finish all of it!

This flight went by quickly and we soon found ourselves landing in Singapore!

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After transferring terminals and doing some duty free shopping (have to restock our bar ;)). For spending over $100 on duty free liquor, we got a free Spongebob SquarePants plush toy! I chose to take Patrick, complete with a deep innie belly button home.

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After shopping, we headed to the SilverKris Business Lounge.

Very spacious with ample seating room, this lounge reminded us of a gentlemen’s club with dark colours and leather seats. Lots of drink options and an extensive hot foods area although we didn’t check out the food. I was able to squeeze in a shower in their lovely bathrooms (that you don’t have to go to reception to get a key) which was refreshing and great.

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Michael enjoyed a frosty mug of Tiger beer, of course

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We had a very brief 3 hour layover and soon found ourselves heading to our boarding gate for our last leg home.

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January 10, 2014

Flight SQ255 SIN-BNE (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Singapore at 12:45am
Arriving in Brisbane at 10:45am Jan 10
Flight time: Approx 7hrs 20mins

Seats 12H and 12K

Perhaps our most anticipated leg of the journey due to it being Singapore Airlines, the aircraft was probably one of their oldest and most outdated. The seats looked and felt tired, disappointment!

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The service, however, was great as always on an SQ flight. Again, no amenity kit (why? :() but we did get funky slippers!

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As always, champagne for take off!

We opted for 2 meals during this flight. Both dinner and breakfast. With many naps lying nearly flat in between… 😛

For dinner, we had warm focaccia with smoked chicken, cheddar cheese and sweet onion relish. Delicious!

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Highland Park 12 Year-Old Single Malt Whisky for Mike and a Skyhigh (“An invigorating recipe featuring vodka, Cointreau, lemon, topped with 7-Up). I quite enjoyed all the unique Singapore Airlines’ cocktails on this flight.

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And egg noodles with braised beef brisket, mushrooms, and leafy greens. Also delicious!

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Before landing, we both enjoyed an American Breakfast with fruit yoghurt, poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, bacon, ham, mushroom and roast potatoes. As well as breads with preserves. For airplane food, it was impressive and mighty tasty!

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Once landed in Brisbane, we proceeded through immigration and customs without any issues or delays. Once outside, there was no taxi queue, allowing us to immediately get into a taxi and be home within 1/2 hour.

Although we enjoyed most aspects of our flights immensely, it was a relief to finally be home!

Summary:

Best service: Tie between Air China and Singapore Airlines
Best food: Air China (LHR-PEK) for Michael, Air Canada (YOW-LHR) for me
Best drinks selection: Singapore Airlines (SIN-BNE)
Most comfortable: Air China (LHR-PEK)
Best entertainment: Air Canada (YOW-LHR)
Best lounge: Changi Airport’s SilverKris

Would we do it again? Yes! But only on points… 😉

And thank you to James and Kim for being so lovely! Not only did they keep an eye on our place for us, they made sure we had some fresh bread and milk in the fridge for when we got back! You guys are the best!

Back in Ottawa!

November 20, 2013

After an uneventful short-but-felt-like-forever flight, we made it to Ottawa just after midnight. And of course, greeted by both our families! ❤

She must be holding my hand because she missed me so much, right mommy?

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Even my grandparents came out to pick me up even though it was so late, thank you! 🙂

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My bro, always has his eyes closed in photos, “My eyes, they’re so sensitive!”

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And a picture with Mike’s parents before they headed off with a 2 hour drive ahead of them.

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Yay, finally home!

Day 06: Singapore – Late Check-In @ Vintage Inn

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It was 11:30pm and we had landed in Singapore on time, woo hoo!

Unfortunately, there were also 2 drunk guys with us who caused trouble and smoked in the toilets throughout the flight. Due to this, there was quite a delay in disembarking because the police had to come on board to take them away.

Eventually, we were through customs and meeting our driver (Manesh, I think) to take us back to our accommodation for the night. But there was another guest, also on the same flight as us. So we waited, and waited and waited. Thank god after about an hour he finally showed up and we were on our way into the city.

We were soon at Vintage Inn (right beside Banana Leaf Apolo) on Racecourse Rd. Vintage Inn is a boutique hostel that’s a little nontraditional in the sense that guests sleep in capsules. The staff are extremely friendly and wonderful! The hostel is quite new and very well kept. Everything was consistently clean and the facilities are very efficient in terms of space and design.

(I didn’t take any pictures, but you can see some here on Agoda)

The capsules themselves are spacious (can comfortably sit up) with storage space around the mattress, hooks/hangers, lights, international power sockets and built in lockers with locks.

The capsule design is very sturdy with thick walls and as a result, provides more privacy and peace. Although we were in a room full of other people, conversations taking place in other capsules and snoring at night came across as no more than mere muffles.

A simple hot breakfast and coffee/tea is also included and is prepared for you when you show up in the kitchen in the morning. It’s not anything special but certainly satisfying and a good start to your day.

Did I mention complimentary WiFi? Yep! And only a 100m or so from the MRT.

For $50/night (double bed) with airport pick up and breakfast included, it was a great deal, especially in Singapore! We definitely recommend Vintage Inn! 🙂

By now it was past 1am and we were hungry…

Next up, food! 😉

Day 05: Bangkok – Pak Khlong Talat, Colours and Smells

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We took the Express Boat back towards the city and got off at Memorial Bridge Pier to visit… the Pak Khlong Talat, also known as, the flower market!

Once you leave the pier, take the first left and then right at the 7-11. After that, follow the colours and the smell of flowers! 😀

Unfortunately, the best time to check out Pak Khlong Talat is pre-dawn from around 3-4am. Needless to say, the market was a little sleepy and empty when we walked around. Still plenty of sights to take in though!

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Such reasonably priced (compared to Canada and Australia) flowers… a little something for everyone!

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We saw many phuang malai garlands being made will skilled hands and sold on the spot. These are used as offerings to images of Buddha inside temples or shrines at home, ancestor shrines, etc.

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Mike… enjoying a nice cold Singha (bought at a nearby 7-11 and opened for by the cashier) on the streets of Bangkok.

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On the way back to the pier, I saw these two sorting out a huge stock of chili peppers and asked if I could take some pictures. They happily waved me to go ahead. Notice the cell phone in the plastic bag – I guess I wouldn’t want chili juice all over my cell either!

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Memorial Bridge and its respective pier with someone fishing.

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Thanks to Mark Weins and his YouTube video about kuay tiew rua (boat noodles) at Victory Monument, we had to try!

Once you get off the BTS at Victory Monument station, stay within the overhead walkway and head towards the canal (keeping Victory Monument on your left).

The canals are now very dirty and polluted.

This is not the side you want to be on…

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You want to be on this side! Which is why it’s important to keep Victory Monument on your left hand side as you are walking through the pedestrian overpass. We didn’t know that and did an unnecessary full circle around Victory Monument.

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When you reach the canal and get down onto the road, there will be a number of boat noodle restaurants to choose from. We decided to follow the one Mark Weins visited in his video and were quite happy!

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So… what are boat noodles? They are called so because they were traditionally served from boats. Nowadays, you can sit in a restaurant and enjoy them instead. They are also sold in small portions that sit shallow in the bowl, to limit spillage due to rocking by the boat.

The noodles are first blanched in hot soup before being tossed into a bowl with a little bit of water spinach (Morning Glory), a pork meatball and a few slivers of either pork or beef. The most important ingredient in a bowl of boat noodles is fresh pig’s blood which cooks immediately once hot soup is poured in, thickening the broth and giving the dish its characteristic wholesome pork flavour.

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The restaurant staff did not speak much English but it wasn’t hard to get our requests across with English on the menu. All dishes cost 10 baht each and we proceeded to eat!

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We both started with one each of the “Noodles thicken soup with beef” and “Noodles thicken soup with pork” The staff also brought over a plate of “Fried dumplings” (fried wonton skins) and “Streaky pork with crispy crackling” (fried pork rinds), which we readily agreed to take.

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Thick chewy noodles in a little bit of really flavoursome porky broth. There was also sugar, fish sauce, chili flakes and vinegar chili sauce at the table so you can flavour the noodles to your liking.

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So tasty! And because the portions are so tiny, we definitely got in a few more orders before leaving satisfied 🙂 I think the final bill came to 100-150 baht ($3-5). Would definitely come again if we ever visit Bangkok!

By now, it was late afternoon and so we headed back to the hotel to hang with Laura one last time. With a bit of relaxation and chatting by the pool, it wasn’t long before it was time for us to head to the airport!

Sooner than we realized, we were getting off the train and checking into our flight back to Singapore at 8pm.

Our short trip to Bangkok was finally (felt much longer) coming to an end.

A few shots inside the Suvarnabhumi Airport.

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End of our Bangkok trip! … And I guess by default, end of Day 05!

FULL ALBUM OF LAST PORTION IN BANGKOK HERE

Day 02: Bangkok – We made it, hi Laura!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Arrived safely in Bangkok around 7pm. The airport is huge… almost too big! Luckily, despite the vastness of the airport, we eventually found Laura! For those who don’t know, Laura is a friend of Mike’s from Halifax. She’s an infectious diseases doctor currently working in Bangkok doing research. Very kind of her to not only offer to come meet us but arrange our accommodation as well!

We took the Airport Link train for ฿45 ($1 CAD = 30 thai baht) to Phaya Thai station where we transferred to the BTS Skytrain and took it to our stop: Sanam Pao.

Our accommodation, Abloom Exclusive Serviced Apartments, was just a couple minutes walk from the station. We were taken on a quick tour of the facilities (restaurant, gym, pool) before being shown to our apartment.

The apartment was enormous, with a living room, dining area, kitchen, bedroom, etc. Way more space than we could use, especially when we would be out most of the day!

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Mike sitting and watching TV… I mean watching nothing.

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It was already getting late and we were all hungry 🙂 Laura took us to a Thai restaurant close to her place (one train stop away) for some tasty food. We had some spicy curry, stir fried Morning Glory (water spinach/rau muong), chicken with cashews, and a popular tasty Thai drink – Cha Yen.

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Cha Yen is also known as Thai Iced Tea. It is supposed to be made from strongly-brewed ceylon tea. However, due to price, black tea is often with food colouring added to give the distinctive rusty-orange colour. The tea is sweetened with sugar and condensed milk and topped with evaporated milk for creaminess. It is delicious and something we enjoyed often in Bangkok… it is not very healthy though… good thing we can’t get it back in Australia!

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By the time we finished dinner, it was time to call it a night.

Excited to wake up in Bangkok!

End of Day 02 🙂

Day 02: Singapore – Asian Civilisations Museum

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Woke up and checked out of Big Hotel (left our luggage there for safe keeping)! Xuan met us for a day of fun before our flight to Bangkok in the evening.

First things first, off to breakfast!

As we walked over to Bugis Village Hawker Centre, we passed by a few sights:

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The Sri Krishan Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

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Just a couple of steps away, the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist (1884) temples in Singapore. It is a popular place of worship for devotees of Kuan Yin, the Chinese god of mercy.

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We soon made it to the hawker centre where Xuan made sure we tried many yummy local dishes!

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Iced milk tea

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Fresh deep fried goodness! Ham Chim Peng – a savory, rolled bun with 5 spice. You Tiao, crisp light dough sticks that’s called ‘gio chao quay’ in Vietnamese. First time having it fresh out of the fryer… I am now spoiled. And the Butterfly Bun, slightly sweet and covered in sesame seeds – yummy too!

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This is Poh Piah, our favourite of the morning. A thin crepe-like wrap filled with stir fried turnip, hoisin/chili-based sauce, cucumber, crispy peanuts, shallots, lettuce, egg and more. Bursting of flavour and texture! Similar in style and flavour to one of my favourite Vietnamese dished called ‘bo bia‘… both very delicious!

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Another dish, called Chwee Kuay. Steamed rice cakes topped with preserved radish and chili. Simple and tasty, but not a standout to me. I think it’s because the rice cakes reminded me of ‘banh beo‘ in Vietnamese cuisine – except banh beo is much more elevated in flavour with coconut-based rice cakes often topped with dried shrimp, mung bean paste and fried shallots, eaten with nuoc mam (fish sauce vinaigrette).

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With our bellies happy, we proceeded on foot to the Asian Civilisations Museum!

On the way, we passed through Raffles City and Xuan suggested a pit stop at the Tiong Bahru Bakery for their delightful Croissant au Beurre. Crisp, buttery and fluffy – how I’ve missed quality croissants!

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We continue on with our scenic walk, an opportunity to see the Marina Bay Sands Hotel from an angle we’ve never seen before.

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Eventually, we made it to the Asian Civilisations Museum but didn’t go in until we took pictures of the Singapore River with Boat Quay on the other side.

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The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is the first museum in the region to present a broad yet integrated perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilisations… opened on 2 March 2003. Occupying over 14,000 square metres at the newly-restored Empress Place Building, it houses 11 galleries which showcase over 1300 artefacts from the Museum’s growing collections on the civilisations of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia/ Islamic. These collections include recent acquisitions as well as artefacts inherited from the historic Southeast Asian ethnographic collection of the former Raffles Museum.

And now onto some of my favourite pieces in the museum! (I am too lazy to write out the description of each piece, but if anyone would like to know more, I will be happy to write more!)

Teak Chettinad Door (19th-20th cent) Chettinad region, Tamil Nadu

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Crowned Buddha in dharmachakra (11th cent) Pala, Bihar

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Ganesha

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Sandstone Yogini (11th cent) Pramara, Bijamandal, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh

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Schist Nataraja (12th cent) Halebid, Karnataka

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Gateway (Late 17th – early 18th cent) Western Uttar Pradesh or Eastern Rajasthan

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Nebula (2003) by Kouichi Honda, Japan

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Carved Human Skull (1900s) Kayan Dayak, Sarawak, Malaysia

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Multi-armed Quan Am (18th cent or greater) Northern Vietnam

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He-He Erxian (17th cent)

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Shakyamuni Seated in Meditation (early 17th cent)

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Plurality of identities of Daoism

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An interactive area called ‘Share Your Insights‘ that allowed visitors to answer a number of questions. These were some of my favourites.

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“Imagine you are about to marry a person whom you have never met. In 5 words, sum up what is going through your mind”

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“Imagine you are holding your baby for the very first time. What is ONE promise you would make to him or her?”

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“Imagine you can make the world a better place, what is the ONE thing you would do?”

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“Imagine you were an emperor. Name ONE value you would promote.”

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“Imagine how you would defeat a centaur who is bigger and taller than a horse to save a bride?”

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Southeast Asian silver

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Trophy and mug

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Gold Malay pendant necklace with Buddhist symbols and Chinese shop marks on reverse

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Peranakan Chinese bridal ensemble, headband, hairpins, lapel ornaments (19th cent) Java

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Shroud (2011) by Jakkai Siributr, Thailand, Bangkok

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And that marked the end of our visit!

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Next, it was over the bridge and through The Fullerton Hotel where we stopped for drinks at The Landing Point. We were a little under-dressed, but that’s okay! We sat outside and enjoyed the view anyway.

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Finally, it was time to head back to our hotel to grab our luggage and head to the airport for our flight to Bangkok at 5:30pm.

But not without stopping for some food! Haha, this time at Parklane Zha Yun Tun Mee House!

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Mmm, some deep fried wontons (but not enough filling), non-soggy noodles and char siew with a side of soup. Great end to our temporary stay in Singapore!

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THANK YOU FOR TAKING CARE OF US XUAN!

We’ll be back, but for now… off to Bangkok!

FULL DAY 02 ALBUM IN SINGAPORE HERE

Day 01: Singapore – Just Food!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Checked out of Meriton early to catch the bus to the airport for our flight at 9am. Getting there wasn’t a hassle at all and neither was checking in. We were soon seated on the plane and “scooting” off to Singapore!

Arrived in Singapore around 3pm and took the MRT to our hotel. Have we mentioned how much we love the MRT there? So efficient! We were only staying a night, and booked ourselves a room at Big Hotel in Little India.

Although the building lived up to its name, the rooms were small, as expected. With that being said, the room was well designed and took advantage of all available space. Oh, please add a fridge to your rooms so we can keep our yummy drinks and food cold!

Really comfortable and homey lobby of Big Hotel!

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It didn’t take long for us to drop our stuff off and head out for food!

After a walk through Little India, we came to our first stop: The famous Banana Leaf Apolo!

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After reading that it is often praised for having the best fish head curry in Singapore and being a dish we’ve never heard of, we had to try!

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Luckily, we arrived just before the dinner rush and didn’t have to line up. We were seated at a table with an iPad for ordering which is always fun! Ordered a serving of fish head curry (smallest one is for 2 people), one side of rice and a garlic naan.

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While we were waiting a basket of fresh, crispy (not too salty) papadums came for us to munch on. Yum!

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Food is served on banana leaves (on plates)! It wasn’t long before our fish head curry came out and the staff quickly came around to scoop rice onto our banana leaves. We didn’t receive a side of vegetables though, don’t know if we should’ve but didn’t mind at this point because there was too much food!

The flavours were great, very spicy! The fish head was enormous and full of meat that was tender and quite earthy. We were curious what kind of fish they used and when asked, we were told red snapper. One fish head was more than enough for the 2 of us, I wish there was a smaller portion available because we really only wanted a taste. (Had to save room in our bellies for more snacking!)

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The garlic naan was actually quite a disappointment. We’ve had much better naan at pretty much everywhere else we’ve ever been…

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The meal was quite expensive by our standards. With one drink each, the total bill came to approximately $40 SGD. Would we come back again? Probably not. It was great to try, but not delicious or exciting enough to make us come back. Lots of other cheaper, yummier options to choose from!

Even though we had plans to meet Xuan later that night for (another) dinner, we continued to eat on our own…

Stopped at Rochor Original Beancurd for some cold tau huay.

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Again, we just beat the queue!

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Beancurd is very similar to the ‘tau hu’ with ginger syrup I had growing up, which was always eaten warm. On a hot day, it’s so refreshing to have it cold! And for only $1 SGD! Service could’ve been a little more friendly though. The lady was annoyed with me because I didn’t speak Mandarin… that’s not my fault!

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There were also egg tarts that we should’ve gotten. You can see many cups pre-filled with syrup in the background. At the rate of customers were coming to buy, I wouldn’t have been surprised if all of them were used up by the end of the night!

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Yummy!

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As we continued to walk, this time back to our hotel to rest before dinner with Xuan, we passed by Le Cafe Confectionary & Pastry.

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If you know me, you know I love bakeries. When there are signs saying “Our Award-winning Pastries,” I am all over it.

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We walked in and asked to buy one of each award winning pastries. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the rum balls and coffee cookies, and you couldn’t buy the pineapple tarts and soya bean tarts individually. Oh no!

The young lady working told us to buy a box of pineapple tarts instead. “There are only 10,” she said, “You will eat them all in one day!” Haha, that wouldn’t be a good thing! But because we were heading to Bangkok the next day and meeting Laura, we ended up buying a box of 10 for around $8.50 SGD.

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I expressed disappointment that we couldn’t try/buy the other pastries individually and she said she might have some soya bean tarts for us to try. While we were waiting for her to come back, another lady came out from the back and gave us each a pineapple tart to sample. Thanks! We just bought 10… but oh my goodness they were delicious with crumble-in-your mouth pastry and generous not-too-sweet filling.

The lady helping us came back to give us 2 soya bean tarts. Also for free! Apparently, they were not pretty enough to sell so we could take these with us – woo hoo! We saved the tarts until we got back to the hotel and enjoyed them with a cup of iced tea… so tasty. We’d never had a soya bean tart before… what a silky treat!

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By now it was past 11pm and Xuan’s dinner with his parents had gone on for longer than expected. Mike and I decided to hold off dinner with him and see him tomorrow instead. Early night for us, no problem!

End of Day 01!

Absence and now back to Brisbane

My apologies for being so blog silent over the holidays! As you can imagine, the holidays take up so much time! 😛

I do have lots of stories and pictures to share though, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, Mike and I are currently on our way back to Brisbane.

Firstly, thank you to those I was able to see this break and my apologies for those I couldn’t meet up with: Bea, Ruixi, Mel, Sareda, Soph, etc. I was out of town, then sick, then super busy and unfortunately couldn’t see you… next time okay? 🙂

Secondly, thank you to all my family who came to the airport to see me off! I look forward to being home again!

Our flight from Ottawa to Toronto was delayed, and as a result, it caused us to miss our connecting flight to Sydney last night.

We landed over an hour late, and then we had to waste several more hours figuring out new flights, finding our luggage, grabbing a shuttle, waiting for food delivery, etc!

Despite the delay and the extra night in Toronto, things worked out nicely. We were given a nice room at Days Hotel with food vouchers. Additionally, because the same flight to Australia was full for today, we were rerouted and will be flying through Los Angeles… in Business Class 😀

By the time we got to our hotel, it was already 11pm. The hotel restaurant was closed… thank goodness for ordering food for delivery!

Mike and I had breakfast at the hotel today before grabbing the shuttle bus back to the airport at 8am. We gave ourselves plenty of time to go through US Customs and Security. Priority access makes the airport experience a breeze and luckily, we didn’t run into any trouble. Our baggage is checked through to Sydney, so fears of traveling through the US temporarily relieved!

Because we were flying business, we had access to the Maple Leaf Lounge… very nice. I wish I could fly like this all the time! Comfy seating areas, showers, food, drinks, internet… it’s nice 🙂

I love priority lines! Business class on our flight to LA were not the pods, sadly, but still very enjoyable. We had good food and drinks and more room for my bum.

This chicken wasn’t very good actually.

Mmm, tenderloin.

Warm chewy cookies AND gelato? My flight is complete.

A mother and 2 children were sitting in front of us. While they were settling into their seats, the son (around 11 years old) turned to his mom and said incredulously, “We’re in business class?” The mom laughed and said yes. Mike and I were amazed at not only how well these children behaved, but at the end of the flight, he turned to his mom and said, “I really enjoyed this flight. Thanks mom.” So cute!

The view as we prepared to land in LA.

So, we landed in LA around 3pm and had to walk over to a different terminal and go through security again. No trouble this time either and the lines went quickly so we were pleasantly surprised! Our flight to Sydney doesn’t leave until 10pm so we decided to pay for access to the United Club Lounge. So far, very worth it! We’ve got about 4 more hours to wait around… and then finally off to Australia!

Guess who’s catching up on her blogging, finally?

Michael enjoying his drink (and plethora of snacks) and saying, “Hello!”

Halifax Day 1: Delays and New Germany

December 04, 2012

My flight for Halifax was at 11:20am. I was happy to be through security and at my boarding gate by 10:45am.

Unfortunately, we boarded late. And then we sat on the plane going nowhere – for an hour. Then they told us to get off the plane where we waited some more. Finally, they put us on a different plane and got us to our destination… nearly 3 hours late. I especially find it annoying when airlines make up excuses to explain the delays (loading luggage, waiting to be cleared for take off, etc). Then the delay becomes too long so they finally tell the truth, which is pretty much, “There’s something seriously wrong with the plane. We thought we could fix it, but we couldn’t and it’s not safe to fly. Sorry!”

But more importantly, I finally made it to Halifax where Michael was waiting to pick me up. So good to see him, even though we had only been apart for 2 weeks. ^_^

He knows me too well, got me Almondillos! Chocolate, my favourite. Instant boost of mood.

We then began the drive back to New Germany to stay with Mike’s friends Bill & Nina (and their amazingly cute daughter Lily). On the way, we stopped at a Sobey’s to pick up some ingredients for dinner since we wanted to pitch in and help out a little.

So dark and lonely on the road.

I think it was around 8pm when we finally arrived at Bill and Nina’s. I felt immediately welcomed and met Nina’s mom, Uta, as well. Nina and Uta made Schnitzel, mashed potatoes, beans, stirfried mushrooms and onions. Mike and I made coconut basil tempura shrimp. Had a lovely dinner getting to know everyone before calling it a night shortly after.

A short post, but that marks the end of Day 1! 🙂

Home: The plane ride and first night

November 18, 2012

(Warning: This might be a long one! And I didn’t even take many pictures to make it easier to read)

Mike and I woke up bright and early to get ready and head to the airport.

We were so proud of ourselves getting in the taxi and at the domestic terminal by 5:30ish… only to be told we were at the wrong terminal and needed to get ourselves to the international one. Frig! Our itinerary didn’t tell us that, and the same flight last year flew out of the domestic terminal! Luckily the shuttle bus came immediately and there was no one else on it. We hauled our luggage on and told the driver what happened. She asked us, “Did you know your flight’s delayed til 10?”

What… we did not!

Checked in at the international terminal only to have the Qantas representative go “Hmmm…” *clack away at keyboard* and then leave us standing for 20mins to go “sort this out.” So we had no idea what was going on but only hoped we didn’t have to wait until tomorrow to fly out.

He finally came back to tell us that for some reason, the Qantas leg of our flight had been canceled on their system so they hadn’t known to make alternative flight arrangements due to our delayed flight. Oh no! Leaving at 10am instead of 7:30am would make us miss our connection flight to Canada. Luckily they were able to put us on an earlier flight. But, we had to go back to the domestic terminal.

Yes, we groaned too! Before even asking, the rep spared us more trouble. He checked us (and our luggage!) in and let us leave our bags there where they would be transferred to our plane – hooray!

With boarding passes in hand, we hopped on the shuttle bus to go back to the domestic terminal… and ran into the same driver. And yes, she obviously laughed at us.

We were told there was someone sitting between us on the flight to Sydney and started joking, “Maybe this person is really big and booked a middle seat hoping no one else would sit beside them.” We boarded the plane only to have Warren (not fat, in our class, also from Ottawa) come up to us and say, “Looks like we’re stuck with each other!” Little did he know, he would’ve had the whole row to himself if not for us! But it was nice to see familiar faces (Tom was flying with Warren) on such a long trip home.

All flights and transfers went extremely smooth. My butt became numb about 4 hours into the leg from Sydney to Vancouver. By the 6th hour, my sacrum was crying and needed a heat patch to numb the pain. I’ve always hated this part the journey!

The airplane food was surprisingly a lot tastier than we expected! Which was nice because I actually ate my meals and at got at least a tiny fraction of my money’s worth. Too bad we didn’t have enough time to grab Tim Horton’s at Vancouver though – we barely made the connection!

Had a big welcome party at the airport in Ottawa. Big thanks to everyone (mom, sis, bro, grandparents, Cau Hai’s family, and Di Nam) for picking me up! 🙂 I felt special. Also nice to briefly see Mike’s parents too before we went our separate ways.

Got home around 6pm to enjoy my first home cooked meal – Bun rieu, yum!

My sister… always ruining pictures!

Unpacked my luggage! Then brought my Australian gifts over to hang out with my grandparents for a bit. We tried some of the goodies together and by 11pm I was ready to call it a night.

Came home, called Michael (miss you!) and finally showered after 2 days – gross.

Singapore Day 1: June 18

Arrived to the Gold Coast Airport at 7am to check-in for our flight at 9:00am.

After reaching our boarding gate, we waited… and waited. Then it was announced that were was a half hour delay, then another half hour delay, then a 2 hour delay, and then we were indefinitely delayed until further notice.

1pm came and went and we were still sitting around the tiny terminal. The only restaurant around was making a ton of money and I was surprised to see how patient the masses were.

Kids were still happily getting along

Others just chilling out and taking it as it comes

Eventually, Michael’s iPhone was dying so we hung out behind the Jetstar desk to charge up

Aww, the sad face!

I also don’t understand the lopsided gate numbers – it doesn’t look good!

Finally 2:30pm … we were boarding! 6 hours late!

We were randomly upgraded from Economy (blue) to Super Seat (yellow) with more room!

The flight wasn’t too bad, but they wouldn’t give you free water. We had to pay S$4 for a 330mL bottle of water!

Someone was not happy about it!

Check this woman out… a whole row to herself!

We finally arrived to Singapore around 9:30pm local time (we were initially supposed to be there at 3:30pm!) Bing and his girlfriend LiHuan picked us up from the airport and took us to East Coast Lagoon Food Village to eat local hawker food!

Bing and Lihuan!

Tried lots of dishes including: grilled stingray, carrot cake, chicken wings, char siu noodles and satay meat kebabs! Yum, thanks guys!

By the time we checked into Moon Hotel, it was already 12am. Called it a night and went to bed ready for a full day of activities tomorrow!

Farewell Singapore, until next time!

Michael and I made it back to Australia safe and sound and ON TIME!

After 2 weeks of immobility studying for exams, our bodies are crying in pain from spending more than 12 hours a day on our feet. Wished we had podometers to see how many km we traveled!

Singapore, you have been good to us. Special thanks to Bing and his girlfriend Lihuan for picking us up at the airport and taking us for real local food a bunch of times! It was also great that my aunt, Tam, was still in Singapore – great to catch up and thank you again for the lovely dinner!

And now, it’s back to reality! Just a weekend to unwind, catch up with blogging before it’s back to school!