[Airline Review] – Malaysia Airlines A330-300 (MH714) – Economy Class, DPS-KUL (11 Aug 18)

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Malaysia Airlines A330-300 flying from Bali to Kuala Lumpur

On the Ground

Check-in Counters

Malaysia Airlines check-in counters are located at Row C, on the right end in Bali Denpasar Airport. There are four counters used by Malaysia Airlines for passengers checking-in. Two counters are dedicated to passengers travelling in Economy Class cabin and one for Business Class passengers. There is an additional counter for passengers who have oversize baggage to check-in. As we were at the airport a tad early, there are no queues at the Economy Class counters. We were asked to check-in at the Business Class counter, which seem to be the only counter that is operating at the time we arrived at Bali Denpasar Airport. Check-in was done efficiently, the friendly ground staff quickly processed our check-in, took in our luggage and gave us instructions on which gate our flight will be departing. As the flight was delayed by 45 mins, which has an impact on our connecting flight to Singapore in Kuala Lumpur, when we raised our concerns to the ground staff, the ground staff assured us with a friendly and assuring tone of voice that we will still be in time to catch our onward flight to Singapore in Kuala Lumpur.

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Malaysia Airlines check-in counters are located in Row C at Denpasar Airport

The Aircraft

Malaysia Airlines uses the wide body twin aisle A330-300 for this Bali to Kuala Lumpur flight.

The Cabin

Malaysia Airlines A330-300 has a total of 290 seats spreading across Business and Economy Class cabins. There are a total of 27 seats in Business Class cabin and 263 seats in Economy Class cabin. The Economy Class cabin is further split into a three sections, with a small section of 16 seats located just behind Business Class cabin, isolated from the rest of the Economy Class cabin. This section is a lot quieter and offers a lot more privacy compared to the rest of the Economy Class cabin at the back of the plane. I managed to secure seats (for the six of us flying) in the small section of Economy Class seats through the Malaysia Airlines mobile app when performing online check-in. This section of the Economy Class cabin (rows 9 and 10) looks bright, thanks to the white walls and the use of white mood lighting during boarding. The choice of bright red colour for the seats also contributes to the clean and new look onboard Malaysia Airlines A330-300.

There are two lavatories behind the small section of Economy Class cabin, however only one of the lavatory can be used, the other lavatory is constantly kept located by the flight attendants as it is reserved for Business Class passengers. The lavatory onboard Malaysia Airlines A330-300 is slightly larger than those found onboard the B737-800. The lavatories is very clean thanks to the lighting and the clever use of mirrors by Malaysia Airlines. There isn’t any amenities other than the hand soap in the lavatory.

The Seat

Seats in the Economy Class cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines A330-300 are arranged in 2-4-2 configuration. The Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines are clad in bright red upholstery, with bright red headrest which is adjustable four ways. The 16 seats in the forward section has slightly wider pitch, measuring a good 36″ and a width of 17.3″. While seats in the main Economy Class cabin has a pitch of 32″. With 36″ pitch for those 16 seats in the forward section of Economy Class cabin, the legroom is very good. The seats moves forward when reclining, however it took some force for the recline to work well. As there are no seats behind me, my seat can stay reclined all the way after taking off till prior to landing. I highly recommend passengers flying on Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines A330-300 to book seats in the forward cabin (Rows 9 and 10). Pillows and blankets are not made available on the seat in Economy Class cabin, however Malaysia Airlines brings limited quantity of pillows and blankets onboard.

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Legroom is very generous in the forward section of the Economy Class cabin

All the seats in the Economy Class cabin comes with a USB port for charging of mobile devices, located on the right beneath the TV screen. Headphone jack is found on the right armrest, while the seat recline button is located on the left armrest.

Unlike the B737-800, the tray tables in Economy Class cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines A330-300 features a bi-fold function, which can be folded into half when passengers do not need to use the entire tray. This design also allows passengers sitting inside to access the aisle easier without having to stow the tray table. The tray table is large enough for passengers to put their laptop. The seat pocket is located on the back of the seat in front of mine. Seat pockets are deep enough for passengers to stow away small items they carry with them. In-flight magazine and duty-free shopping catalogue as well as the aircraft safety card are found in the seat pocket.

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Seat pocket is rather large in the Economy Class cabin

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Seat lights and air vent located on the ceiling above my seat

In-Flight Entertainment

All seats in Economy Class cabin are equipped with a 9″ personal TV screen. These TV screens have touchscreen function, however the touchscreen function lags when using it. I find using the remote control for selection of movies to be far less frustrating than trying to use the touchscreen function. The In-Flight Entertainment system was already turned on during boarding and remained on until we were deplaned, which helps passengers to kill time when boarding is still in progress. IFE system is well packed with movies, including the latest Hollywood blockbuster, as well as sitcoms for passengers who prefer to watch shorter films. The IFE onboard features Audio Video on Demand, which gives passengers the flexibility to watch the shows as and when they like. IFE menu is well organised and designed in an initiative manner, which makes navigating through the menu for the movies I want to watch very easy.

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In-Flight Entertainment System in Economy Class Cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines A330-300

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All Economy Class seats comes with a 9″ personal TV

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The IFE system onboard Malaysia Airlines is very easy to navigate

The IFE controller onboard Malaysia Airlines Economy Class cabin is stored under the IFE TV screen. The design of the controller is similar to those found on other airlines, with all the controls that passengers needs to navigate the IFE menu on the front side of the controller. The attendant call button as well as the seat light control is also found on the front side of the controller. On the back side of the controller is where a qwerty keyboard and game control is found. The IFE system onboard Malaysia Airlines does not contain gaming or productivity options, hence these features on the controller does not serve any purpose. Headphone is made available in every seat in the Economy Class cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines at the time we board the plane.

The Food

Food service commenced about 1 hour into the flight from Bali to Kuala Lumpur. As we were seated at the front of the Economy Class cabin, food was served in this section first. Food in Economy Class cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines was served in a cardboard box, with a packet of peanuts, an oatmeal cookie and a small cup of water. Two options of main meal were offered for Economy Class passengers, Fish with black bean sauce and Chicken Nasi Briyani. I opted for the Fish with black bean sauce, while my friend opted for the Chicken Nasi Briyani. The fish in my meal was not crispy and the flavour is a tad blend. However the Chicken Nasi Briyani is a better choice as the chicken was tender and flavourful, the rice in the Nasi Briyani is well spiced and very flavourful. The flight attendants went around the cabin to serve beverage after the meal was served to all passengers.

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I opted for the Fried Fish in Black Bean Sauce

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My friend opted for the tastier Chicken Nasi Briyani

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The flight attendant gave me two cups of coke and coffee when I mentioned to her I was very thirsty

Service

The service onboard Malaysia Airlines is quite good, starting with boarding. We were greeted by friendly flight attendants as we were boarding the aircraft. We thought this is the standard greeting that most airlines accord to their passengers during boarding. The service extends beyond there. The service we received at the front section of the aircraft was spilled over from Business Class. While we did not get the pre-departure drink, when the flight attendants were distributing newspapers in Business Class cabin, those of us seating in the forward Economy Class cabin were offered newspaper from the push cart as well. The flight attendants were seen wearing their smiles, despite a tiring return flight back to Kuala Lumpur and was seen patrolling the cabin constantly. When we requested for blankets and pillows, the flight attendants immediately attended to our requests. During beverage service, I casually told the flight attendant that I was very thirsty, she immediately gave me drinks with a smile. When she walked past my seat, the flight attendant even checked if I would need more drinks. Finished meals were cleared quickly so that we can either rest or continue watching the movies on the IFE. When the aircraft has landed, as we were waiting for the door to be opened, the flight attendant directed us to deplane from the Business Class door, which saved us time from waiting (as we had a connecting flight to catch). When we deplaned we realised that the aerobridge to Economy Class cabin doors were still being connected.

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Fight attendant doing beverage run

Afterthought

Flying on Malaysia Airlines Economy Class in the forward section is very comfortable. The legroom is very generous and I like the quiet cabin environment up front. The seats has great recline, which allowed my friends to rest during the flight. We were the first ones to be served food and the food was tasty. The IFE was packed with movies and sitcoms, which kept me occupied during the 3 hour flight from Bali to Kuala Lumpur. The service rendered by the flight attendants were fantastic, flight attendants were seen wearing their smiles throughout the flight time. I think the seats upfront were sold by Malaysia Airlines as extra legroom seats, which we got without paying extra (thanks to the internet check-in option).

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Flying over Indonesia

 

[Airline Review] – Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 (MH851) KUL-DPS (8 Aug 18)

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 at the tarmac of Denpasar Airport

On the Ground

This is the second leg of my trip via Malaysia Airlines from Singapore to Bali. As there was a delay in takeoff at Singapore Airport, our transit time has been reduced from 1hr 20 mins to 45 mins. When we disembarked from the previous flight, we saw a ground staff standing at the gate with a paper stating the gate of our onward flight. Our onward flight to Bali departs from gate G4, which is next to the gate of our onward flight.

The Aircraft

Malaysia Airlines uses B737-800 for Kuala Lumpur to Bali. This version of the B737-800 comes equipped with In-Flight Entertainment system (I termed this B737-800 V2 to differentiate the version without IFE in my previous post).

The Cabin

The cabin in Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 looks bright, coupled with the use of white walls and white mood lighting during boarding, the cabin looks clean and fresh. The pilot also uses different colour mood lighting during the flight to help passengers adjust to the time of the day. Economy Class seats are decked in two shades of red, with the main seat in maroon colour and bright red as the headrest. The tight leather wrapping on the seats makes the cabin look new and tidy. There are a total of 16 seats in Business Class and 144 seats in Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2.

There are only two lavatories onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 in Economy Class, both are located at the rear of the aircraft. Due to the limited space onboard, the lavatories are a tad smaller compared to those found onboard larger aircrafts such as B777 series. However, the clever use of bright lighting and mirrors made the lavatory feels larger than it actually is. The lavatories housed the standard equipment like toilet and sink. Onboard amenities in the lavatories are limited to hand soap other than paper cups and tissues (some other airlines still provide cologne and/or mouthwash).

The Seat

Seats in Economy Class cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 are arranged in 3-3 configuration. The maroon seats and bright red headrest measures 30″ in pitch and 17″ in width wrapped in cowhide leather. Unlike other airlines, the headrest cannot be adjusted. The legroom in the Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 is very good, I still had a good amount of space between my knees and the seat in front of me. There is a USB port located on the bottom right of the TV screen for passengers to charge their mobile devices. The seat recline button is located on the right armrest. The Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 also comes with a single fold tray table, which is perfect for passengers who brought their laptop to work onboard.

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Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2

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Legroom is very good in Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2

The seat pocket in the Economy Class cabin is fairly large and has only one tier, which is good enough for passengers to store small items. In-flight magazine, duty-free catalogue as well as the aircraft safety card are stored in every seat pocket onboard Malaysia Airlines. The in-flight magazine was very useful to help me kill time when the IFE was down halfway through the flight. Malaysia Airlines seem to be cutting operating costs as pillows and blankets have to be requested. During the flight, I attempted to request for a blanket and was told that there aren’t sufficient blankets carried onboard.

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Seat pocket with in-flight magazines and safety card

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Pillows were not distributed at boarding, passengers have to request for them

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Seat lighting and air vent at the ceiling above my seat

In-Flight Entertainment

All Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 comes equipped with on-demand In-Flight Entertainment system. Economy Class seats are fitted with 9″ touchscreen TV that kept me entertained during the flight. Despite TV screens having touchscreen function, the touchscreen function seems to lag quite a bit and I find using the remote control to be a lot less frustrating when navigating through the IFE menu. The IFE is loaded with a large collection of movies and TV shows, some of which are fairly recent Hollywood blockbusters. However halfway throughout the flight, the IFE hanged and there were no attempts by the flight attendants to reset the system despite being a three-hour flight.

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IFE system in Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2

The IFE controller is stored beneath the TV screen, which has functions such as seat lighting control, flight attendant call buttons on top of the four-direction control panel for navigation of the IFE system and the standard video control functions. A qwerty keyboard is found on the back of the IFE controller, which serves no function as there are no items on the IFE menu that warrants the use of the keys on the back of the controller. Headphone jack for the IFE is located on the right armrest. Headphones are already being placed on every seat at the time of boarding. These headphones were collected prior to landing for recycling purposes.

The Food

Food was served about one hour from taking off. Unlike most airlines which served food in a tray complete with salad and dessert, food offering was a tad simpler in the Economy Class cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2. Food was served in a cardboard box, that contains the main meal, an oat biscuit and a packet of peanuts on top of a small cup of water. On this Kuala Lumpur-Denpasar flight, passengers in Economy Class cabin were given the choice of Roasted Chicken Rice or Fried Fish with rice. I opted for the chicken rice and the chicken rice is very tasty. Rice is full of flavour and the chicken is tender and juicy. It is a pity the portion served is a tad small. After all the passengers were served with food, the flight attendants went around the cabin to serve beverages.

Service

The service onboard is the Economy Class cabin on this Malaysia Airlines flight is rather mediocre. There is hardly any smiles on the flight attendants. I pressed the call button to request for pillows and blankets, the flight attendants did not seem to bother to bring me these items the first time around. I had to request for another time before a pillow is being brought to me. During meal service, it is apparent that the flight attendants serving the Economy Class cabin rushed to complete meal service. The flight attendants disappeared into the rear of the aircraft and were not seen during the flight other than during meal service and prior to landing. One of the attendants convenient skipped asking my row for beverages during the beverage run. When requested for beverage, the attendant gave an irritated look on her face.

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Flight attendant during meal service

Afterthought

Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 is very comfortable for the three-hour flight time to Bali. The Economy Class cabin looked modern and feels clean, thanks to the colour scheme and the bright lighting used throughout the flight. The IFE system was easy to navigate and provided me with entertainment halfway through the flight. It would be perfect if the IFE had not hang halfway through the flight or that the flight attendants did their due diligence to reset the system rather than leaving it hanged. The catering onboard in the Economy Class was tasty, but the portion is a tad small. The service onboard is less than desirable. The flight attendants did not seem to put in the effort to provide any form of service other than distributing food and drinks and collecting the used headset.

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 taxiing to the runway in KLIA

[Airline Review] – Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 (MH604) / (MH613) – Economy Class, SIN-KUL (8 Aug 18) /KUL-SIN (11 Aug 18)

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1

On the Ground

Check-in Counters

This is a trip that I took with my friends to Bali from Singapore via Kuala Lumpur due to the cheaper fares for the Singapore holiday period. Malaysia Airlines operates 9 flights daily between Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. The airlines fly out of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2. The check-in counters for Malaysia Airlines is located at Row 5, in the middle of the terminal. There are 3 counters opened at the airport terminal at the time of our checking in with 1 dedicated for Business Class passengers and 2 for Economy Class passengers. Out of the 3 counters, only 1 counter was manned, perhaps due to our flight being scheduled 3 hours at the time we check-in. Unlike some other airlines, Malaysia Airlines did not seem to cater any counters for passengers who have completed their check-in online. There was no queue at the time of our check-in and we were served immediately when my friends and I entered the queue. The ground staff handling our check-in was friendly and processed our check-in efficiently. She also briefed us on the time we should appear at the gate and our gate number. As we are connecting via Kuala Lumpur, the ground staff placed our Kuala Lumpur to Bali boarding passes into an envelop and placed our Singapore to Kuala Lumpur boarding passes into our passports. This provided us with the convenience of not having figure out which boarding pass should we be using for Singapore to Kuala Lumpur sector.

The Aircraft

Malaysia Airlines uses B737-800 for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route. There are two versions of the B737-800 that Malaysia Airlines is using, one is the refurbished version that comes with In-Fight Entertainment units, while the other seems older without IFE. I term the version without IFE as V1 (though not official from Malaysia Airlines) and the version with IFE as V2. For both legs between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines uses the B737-800 V1.

The Cabin

The Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 cabin is a tad dull decked with dark blue seats which gives it an aged look. The use of white bulkhead in the cabin and yellow mood lighting during boarding and throughout the duration of the flight gives it a clean feel but did little to give the cabin a newer look. Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 comprises a small section of 16 seats in Business Class at the forward of the aircraft and 144 seats in Economy Class, separated by a wall.

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Mood lighting used during boarding

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The same mood lighting used during flight

There are only two lavatories in the Economy Class cabin serving all 144 passengers, both are located at the rear of the aircraft. Despite the small size of the lavatories, they are kept clean by the busy attendants. The use of bright lighting and mirrors in the lavatories made it look larger than it is, reducing the feel of claustrophobic for passengers. Lavatories are equipped with the standard essentials that are found onboard most aircrafts such as push button taps and toilet with trash bin being placed below the sink. The amenities in these lavatories are limited to hand soap and tissues.

The Seat

Seats in the Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 is arranged in 3-3 configuration. Each seat has a pitch of 30″ pitch and a width of 17″, which is fairly comfortable for this 50 mins flight time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. All the seats in Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 Economy Class cabin are wrapped with cowhide leather. The legroom in the Economy Class cabin is very good with a good amount of space between my knees and the seat in front of me. I did not feel cramped up in the Economy Class cabin seat.

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Seats in Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 Economy Class cabin

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Legroom in Economy Class is very good

As with most airlines, the tray table onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 is found on the back of the seat in front of me. The tray table does not have a bi-fold function and is large enough for me to browse through the in-flight magazine on. The seat reclined button and the 2-pin headphone jack is found on the right armrest. As the B737-800 V1 is an older aircraft, the lighting control, air vents and the call buttons are located on the ceiling above my seat. The seat pocket is located in front of my seat is fairly deep (but dirty) where one can find a copy of Malaysia Airlines in-house travel magazine as well as the aircraft safety card. There are no amenities such as pillows, blankets and handphones on the seats in the Economy Class cabin.

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Lights and aircon outlet above our seat alongside the flight attendant call button

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Deep but dirty seat pockets

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Seats in Business Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1

In-Flight Entertainment

In-Flight Entertainment is non-existent on Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1. There is a small panel on the right armrest which seems to provide some form of in-flight radio entertainment. I did not test out if there are indeed any in-flight radio as Malaysia Airlines does not provide headphones for this short 50 min flight between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The only other form of entertainment onboard is the drop-down TV screen on the ceiling, but these screens are only used prior to take-off for the safety video. They remained undeployed throughout the flight time.

The Food

Due to the short flight time, each passenger is given a packet of peanuts and a cup of orange juice. I requested for an additional packet of peanuts, which the flight attendants are happy to provide.

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Only peanuts and a cup of juice is served

Service

The service onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 plying between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is good. The short flight time provided minimum interaction between flight attendants and passengers. Flight attendants are seen helping passengers finding their seats and stowing their luggage in the overhead bin during boarding. Despite the short flight time and only two flight attendants serving more than 100 passengers, the flight attendants are seen wearing smiles on their faces during the service run. The flight attendants went around serving peanuts and drinks as soon as the seat belt sign is turned off, ensuring that all passengers in Economy Class cabin get the drink and the peanuts.

Afterthought

Despite the lack of IFE and the ageing aircraft, Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 is comfortable for the short 50 min flight time. Passengers would not have much time to watch any shows even if IFE is available. Despite the hectic schedule, the flight attendants in the Economy Class cabin are still seen wearing smiles on their faces when interacting with passengers.

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 winglet

 

[Accommodation Review] – The Nibbana Villas (4 Bedroom Private Pool Villa), Bali, Indonesia (8 – 11 Aug 18)

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The private pool and the gazebo in the villa

Location

The Nibbana Villas is located in Seminyak area, an upscale and less crowded part of Bali, north of Kuta. The location of The Nibbana Villas is a tad far from Seminyak town centre, approximately 20 mins walk to Seminyak Square. However, the villa is within 5 mins walk to Bintang Supermarket, where a night market full of local food is located. Seminyak is also where most of the villas in Bali are located, mostly comes with their own private pool. The Nibbana Villas seem to share the same facilities as Jineng Villas. Visitors who might have difficulty communicating with their taxi drivers can quote the address for Jineng Villas. There is a small 24-hour convenient store across the road where The Nibbana Villas is located.

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The walkway to our villa

The Villa

We booked a 3 bedroom villa, however, we were surprised to know that we were given a 4 bedroom villa upon our arrival. Since we paid for 3 bedrooms, the staff welcoming us during our arrival informed us that the 4th bedroom, located on the second floor will be locked. However, he is kind enough to let us view the 4th bedroom in the villa, which is slightly smaller than those rooms on the ground floor.

Garden and Pool Area

The villa that we booked comes with a private swimming pool. Walking through the 2-panel wooden door that serves as the main entrance to the villa premises, we arrived at the outdoor area of the villa. From the entrance, it is apparent that the villa is designed with the private pool as the centrepiece in mind. The building structures of the villa are built surrounding the swimming pool. There is a large gazebo placed near at one end of the swimming pool, near to the main entrance to the villa. This gazebo is a perfect place for those who are not swimming to relax in. The private swimming pool in the villa is quite big, occupying almost the entire real estate of the villa, with a few trees planted on either side of the pool. The size of the pool is perfect for its occupants to get a good swim or just to chill out when the day in Bali gets hot. There are a few pool size deck chairs placed around the pool for guests to rest onto while not swimming.

Living Room

The living room is the first room that is near to the main entrance of the villa. The entire living room is air-conditioned, which is a feature I wanted when looking for a villa for my stay in Bali. My previous experience in Bali was met with a war with mosquitoes, hence an enclosed living room for my friends and me to chill out becomes one of the factors when scouting for an accommodation for our trip to Bali. The size of the living room is excellent for us to chill in. The decor of the living is modern, yet comes with a touch of Balinese in the feature wall with the Balinese wood carving. A 3-seater couch together with 2 single seat armchairs (large enough to squeeze 2 persons on) forms the centrepiece of the living room. In front of the 3-seater couch is a coffee table large enough for us to play card games on and to put our snacks on. Tucked by the wall, in front of the couch is a TV console where the cable TV, as well as some books, is placed. The only hairdryer in the entire villa is stored in one of the cabinets in the TV console. There are a couple of chairs and a small side table placed behind the 3-seater couch by the wall, which provided additional seating space for the occupants of the villa. The living room has powerful air-conditioning provided great cooling for the occupants of the villa.

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Living room in the villa

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There are more chairs in the living room to chill out

The Bedrooms

The bedrooms in the villa are identical, except for the placement of the furniture inside the bedrooms. The decor of the bedroom is simple and the lighting in these rooms are bright. The villa uses yellow lighting in the bedroom which gives out a cosy and comfortable feel to the bedrooms. The air-conditioning in all the bedrooms are powerful enough to cool the room within a short period of time. The sleep quality on the king beds is excellent. My friends and I were able to get quality sleep on the beds.

Bedroom #1

This bedroom is linked to the living room with a wooden door separating the rooms. There is another door that faces the swimming pool where guests can gain access into the room. As we enter this bedroom, a king size bed that is placed in the centre of the bedroom caught our attention. The king bed is placed facing the main entrance to this room.  Bedside tables are placed on either side of the bed, each decked with a bedside lamp and power outlet, providing convenience for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto. Behind the king bed is where the dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner with the exception of one of the bedrooms where the dressing tables are placed beside the bed. A large wardrobe with a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. I like the clever use of a headboard in this room as it divides the bedroom into 2 areas and allows access to the wardrobe behind as well as the dressing table. Hangers are provided inside the wardrobe. Despite being able to store a large quantity of clothing, however, there are no hanging racks inside the wardrobes. A TV, facing the bed, is mounted on the right corner of the room next to the entrance to the room. An armchair placed below the TV for guests to relax.

Bedroom #2

Bedroom #2 is located next to the kitchen and dining area. Unlike bedroom #1, the king bed is placed by the wall facing the bathroom as we enter this bedroom. Similar to bedroom #1, bedside tables are placed on either side of the bed, each with a bedside lamp and power outlet for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto.  The dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner with the large wardrobe are placed beside the bed. Similar to bedroom #1, a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. Hangers are also found inside the wardrobe. The TV in the room is mounted on the left corner of this room, between the main entrance to the room and the bathroom. Similarly, the armchair for guests to relax in is placed under the TV.

Bedroom #3

The decor and placement of this bedroom are similar to bedroom #1. Bedroom #3 is the largest of the all the bedrooms. A king size bed, facing the entrance to this bedroom, placed in the centre of this bedroom immediately caught our attention as we enter the room.  Bedside tables are also found on either side of the bed, each with a bedside lamp and power outlet for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto. Similar to bedroom #1, the headboard separates the dressing area and the main resting area in this bedroom. Behind the king bed is where the dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner. A large wardrobe with a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. Hangers are also found inside the wardrobe, but there are no hanging racks inside the wardrobes. We had to hang our clothes on the handle of the wardrobe. The wardrobe is large enough to store a substantial amount of clothing. The TV mounted on the wall to the left corner of the room and faces the king bed similar to the other 2 bedrooms. The armchair in this bedroom is placed in the right corner of the bedroom.

The Bathrooms

All of the bedrooms in The Nibbana Villas comes with an ensuite bathroom. The bathrooms in all the bedrooms are identical, with the only difference being the orientation of the facilities in each bathroom. The bathroom in all 3 bedrooms are bright and clean and is rather large in terms of the size. In all 3 bathrooms, the sink area is placed next to the entrance to the bathroom. The sink area is rather sizable with sufficient space for 2 persons to place their personal toiletries. On one side of the sink, one can find a power outlet mainly to charge electric shavers. The sink is placed in the centre of the sink area with a mirror hanging on the wall above it. In the centre of the bathroom is a large bathtub with Jacuzzi function. The tub is clean when we check in and the Jacuzzi function works very well. There is a walk-in shower next to the bathtub that has both a rain shower and a regular shower head. In front of the walk-in shower, next to the entrance of the bathroom is where one will find the toilet. The villa does not provide a full set of bath amenities, soap is provided instead of shower gel. However, toothbrushes are provided in The Nibbana Villas (some hotels do not provide toothbrush).

The Kitchen and Dining Room

Located between the rooms and in front of the swimming pool is where one finds the kitchen and the dining room. The villa uses an open concept for the kitchen and the dining room, likely to cater for cooking needs in the villa. Tucked by the wall of this area is a small kitchenette, fully equipped with 2 stoves, microwave oven, toaster and an electric kettle, allowing its occupants to do some simple cooking. This is also where the staffs of the villa come in every morning to prepare the breakfast that is included in the price of the villa. Along the same kitchen bench is a sink where one can wash their plates in. The villa is also fully stocked with plates and cutlery, sufficient for 8 occupants, to enjoy a decent meal in. There is a water dispenser, capable of dispensing hot (sufficient to make a hot cup of coffee), cold and room temperature water. I find this water dispenser very functional and saves us time to boil water. Next to the water dispenser is where a large fridge is located. The dining table is placed in front of the kitchen area, which is large enough to seat 6 comfortably. This is where the staff would serve breakfast every morning. There is a small stand-alone toilet beside the kitchen and dining area, which is very functional for the villa’s occupants.

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The kitchen in the villa is fully equipped

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Dining table with the fridge and water dispenser in the background

Service

The service we received at The Nibbana Villas is nothing short of excellence. The great service started with the booking. As I booked the villa through a third party website and asked some questions regarding the booking. I was surprised to have received responses from the villa management. The reply was very prompt and the staff relentlessly answered all my queries. When I arrived in Bali, I received WhatsApp messages from the villa informing me that they took note of my arrival time and that the villa was ready waiting for our arrival at the villa. I was also given directions and the exact location of the villa. The staff responding to my WhatsApp messages even told me to give them a call should our driver got lost. I also received text messages from the housekeeping staff to confirm our arrival time. At the villa, we were greeted by a housekeeping staff, who introduced himself to us and showed us around the facilities in the villa. The staff helped us with our luggage, served us welcome drinks and took our order for breakfast the next morning. The same housekeeping staff, came in the next morning to prepare our breakfast and brought together with him another housekeeping staff, who are equally friendly and approachable.

The housekeeping staff are meticulous in cleaning the villa. We would always come back to a clean villa and tidy bedsheets. The housekeeping staff even changed our towels despite us not placing them in the bathtub every day (some hotels will only change towels when they are being placed on the floor or in the bathtub). The housekeeping staff always wore smiles on their faces whenever they bumped into us in the villa. They even helped us with our luggage on our departure date when the front of the villa was flooded. Breakfast is always served on time and the staff would prepare coffee and tea.

Overall

While the location of The Nibbana Villas is not central, my friends and I enjoyed the tranquillity of the surroundings that this location has to offer. Walking to Seminyak Square takes a little longer, but the presence of the nearby Bintang Supermarket more than makes up for the distance. For SGD1,300 for a 3 bedroom private pool villa that comes with breakfast, I thought The Nibbana Villas offer good value. The bedrooms are sizeable and the air-conditioned living room makes a great place for us to gather late at night without worrying about mosquitos. The swimming pool is rather big and the sleep quality on the beds are exceptional. The bathrooms in the villa are bright and clean and the Jacuzzi tubs gave us a relaxing soak. We felt welcomed by the warmth and friendly staffs who are also very helpful. I highly recommend The Nibbana Villas for visitors to Bali.

[Airline Review] – Thai Airways B777-300 (TG401) – Economy Class, BKK-SIN (26 May 18)

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Thai Airways B777-300

On the Ground

Royal Silk Lounge

During my 4 hour transit in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, I gained access to the Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge using my Airlines miles. There are several lounges in the airport, the lounge I went to is the nearest to the gate that my flight will be departing from in Concourse E. This lounge is one of the smaller Thai Airways lounges in Suvarnabhumi Airport. I was given a wifi password by the ground staff at the entrance of the lounge. This lounge is one of the few Thai Airways lounges in the airport that is equipped with showering facilities. There is quite a spread of finger food as well as rice dishes served in the lounge, together with beers, wines and drinks. The food provided in the lounge is laid out in buffet style and are mostly Thai snacks and some sandwiches, which are rather tasty and filling. Spending time in the lounge is a great way of killing the 4 hour layover time. The connecting flight departs from Gate E1A, which does not have an aerobridge linked to the aircraft. Passengers are ferried to the aircraft which is parked on the tarmac by the airside bus.

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My flight from Bangkok to Singapore departs from Gate E1A

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Thai Airways airside bus taking us to the aircraft parked on the tarmac

The Aircraft

The Cabin

Thai Airways B777-300 Economy Class cabin is decked out in the signature vibrant yellow, blue and purple colours that are familiar across most of the airliner’s fleet. The Economy Class cabin gives a cheerful vibe to passengers flying in it. There did not any mood lighting in the Economy Class cabin of this aircraft after all the Thai Airways B777-300 has an average age of about 9 years. Nonetheless, the lighting gives the aircraft a clean and spacious feel to it. Thai Airways B777 Economy Class cabins have 330 seats spread out in 3 sections.

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A vibrant Economy Class Cabin onboard Thai Airways B777-300

There is a concentration of 6 lavatories at the rear of the Thai Airways B777-300 aircraft. The lavatory in the Economy Class onboard Thai Airways B777 is rather small. The use of white lighting gives the lavatory a clean feel and the clever use of mirrors makes the lavatory feels bigger than it is. The amenities in the lavatory is very basic with cologne, hand soap on top of the tissues and paper cups. However, compared to other airlines such as KLM, the amenities are decent onboard Thai Airways. I always like the sensor activated tap in the lavatories onboard Thai Airways, which is both convenient and hygienic for passengers.

The Seat

The seats in the Economy Class cabin onboard Thai Airways B777 has a 32″ pitch and 18″ width. A bulk of the seats are arranged in 3-3-3 configuration, with the exception of several seats at the end of the second and third section of the Economy Class cabin that is arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. I was seated in one of these 2 by 2 seats on the aircraft. These seats are perfect for couples or groups of 2 travelling together. As the Thai Airways B777 is an older aircraft, the seats on this flight are older in design. For instance, the footrest is just a bar that hangs on the hinges below the seat in front of mine. Even the IFE controller shows signs of ageing. Nonetheless, legroom in the Economy Class cabin is fantastic. Unlike some of the other newer aircraft in the Thai Airways fleet, the tray tables in the Economy Class cabin onboard this B777-300 does not come with a bi-fold feature. It is a big single piece that folds away on the back of the seat in front of mine. There is a small cup holder latch on the back of the tray table, which is a nice touch for passengers who only has a cup and does not want to fold out the tray table. The main seat pocket, where the in-flight reading materials are found, is rather deep (but does not seem to be clean). I like the addition of a small seat pocket in front of the main seat pocket that creates additional (and convenient) space for passengers to store small items such as their mobile phone and passports. On the left of the armrest is where one will find the recline button, which allows passengers to recline to a maximum of 122°. The headphone jack and the IFE remote controller is stored on the right armrest.

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Seats in Thai Airways B777-300 Economy Class Cabin

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Tray table folded down

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Pillow and blanket

In-Flight Entertainment

Thai Airways offer personalised Audio Video On Demand on every of their Economy Class seats on the B777-200. Seats are equipped with 9″ touchscreen TV, which is a tad smaller than some of the other aircraft in the Thai Airways fleet. There are numerous options for passengers in the Economy Class cabin ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to Thai Movies (which I totally enjoyed and it comes with English subtitles as well), there seem to be something for everyone, including kids channels. There are games available in the IFE, which I find a little boring. TV screens can be tilted to cater for a various sitting position. The remote control is located on the armrest, which is a tad old school by today’s standards. However, it serves the function that it is meant for. Headphones are placed on the seats at the time of my boarding, these headphones are not noise cancelling unlike those in the Business Class cabins. I like the overhead headphones, which is way better than earbuds styled headphones, provided by other airlines, which can be quite uncomfortable. The touchscreen function tends to be slightly laggy, probably due to the age of the aircraft. I used the remote control all the time during the 2-hour flight from Bangkok to Singapore.

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Touchscreen TV on each seat in Economy Class cabin

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IFE controller is found on the right armrest on each seat

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Economy Class cabin headphone set

The Food

Meals are served promptly and efficiently during the flight. I like Thai Airways catering as the food is rather flavourful and tasty. For this flight, I opted for the Ginger pork with rice, which comes with an egg on top of the pork. Meals are served with the standard tuna salad as the appetiser and a sponge cake as dessert. The sponge cake is very fluffy and tasty, which is a great end to a meal. Passengers are also served with a bun and a bottle of mineral water with every meal. Drinks are also served shortly after the meal runs and flight attendants went around the cabin to serve coffee/tea after the drinks service.

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Pork with rice and egg meal

Service

Service onboard this Thai Airways is great. Friendly attendants are seen smiling and emitting the signature Thai hospitality from boarding to disembarking. Meal service is conducted in an efficient manner by the attendants who are always wearing their smiles. Requests by passengers are also promptly attended to. Flight attendants are seen constantly patrolling the cabin to ensure passengers are comfortable and finished meal trays and trash are being cleared. The warm and friendly crew made me feel welcome onboard throughout the flight.

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Flight attendants preparing to distribute meal

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Flight attendant during meal service

Afterthought

Despite being a rather old aircraft, Thai Airways B777-300 is still very comfortable for the 2-hour flight from Bangkok to Singapore. Legroom on the Economy Class seats are excellent and the IFE, despite its age, served its function of keeping passengers entertained throughout the flight. The service onboard is impeccable, which warm and friendly flight attendants displaying the warmth of Thai hospitality, which makes the flight enjoyable.

[Airline Review] – Thai Airways A380-800 (TG623) – Business Class, KIX-BKK (26 May 18)

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Thai Airways A380-800 in Kansai Airport

On the Ground

Check-in Counters

Thai Airways uses the check-in counters at Row D in Kansai International Airport. The check-in rows are located in the middle of the terminal building. There are 4 queues at the Thai Airways counter. Despite having 4 counters serving Economy Class passengers, the queue seems not to be moving much. There is another queue dedicated to passengers who have completed internet check-in, served by 3 counters, which is quite short. There is 1 queue for Business Class passengers, where the waiting time is rather short as well, thanks to the 3 counters serving passenger travelling in this class. 2 counters are dedicated to passengers travelling in First Class, where the queue is the shortest. First and Business Class passengers are given an invitation to the Thai Airways Lounge and a fast lane pass to clear immigration. However, I do find this pass a tad useless as it only gave access to a separate entrance to the airside. Unlike premium class passengers travelling out of Bangkok Airport, where there is a dedicated immigration counter for premium passengers. Passing through this entrance, premium class passengers are still required to join the queue together with other travellers leaving KIX at the immigration counters.

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Check-in counters for Business Class passengers

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Passengers flying on First and Business Class can use the fast lane to get to the immigration area

Thai Airways departs from the satellite terminal in KIX, which is a short internal train ride from the main terminal. The airlines departed from Gate 11, which is a stone’s throw distance from the Thai Airways Lounge in the satellite terminal. There is a dedicated boarding queue for passengers travelling in Business Class cabin (together with First Class passengers). Business Class passengers were given priority to board before boarding commences for Economy Class passengers.

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First and Business Class entered through another bridge that leads to the upper deck of the A380

Royal Orchid Lounge

Thai Airways has their dedicated lounge in KIX. The Royal Orchid lounge is situated in the satellite building, which is very near to the boarding gate that was used by the airlines. Royal Orchid Lounge in KIX occupies a rather small real estate. There is a section of the lounge for passengers to sit, with a sitting area arranged very close to each other. There is hardly any walking space between 2 separate set of seats. Part of the lounge is dedicated for passengers travelling in First Class Cabin. The food offering in the lounge is very limited. Snacks such as Onigiri, cup noodles, sandwiches and some Japanese snacks are served in the lounge. Coffee and tea, as well as beverages such as soft drinks, wine and beers, are also available in the lounge. It is a shame that the lounge does not face the departure gate where Thai Airways aircraft depart in KIX.

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Business Class passengers are invited to the dedicate Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge in KIX

The Aircraft

The Cabin

The entire Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 is located on the upper deck of the aircraft, spread out in 2 sections with 60 seats in total. The front section is the bigger section, carrying up to 48 passengers while the rear section sits 12 passengers. Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 is decked in the familiar light purple colour scheme that is used across the entire Thai Airways fleet. The purple exudes a calm and relaxing feel for passengers travelling in this cabin. Lights are tuned to the brightest during boarding. Mood lighting is used during different phases of the 6-hour flight for passengers to adapt to the time of the day. Lightings are turned off after first meal service for passengers to catch up on their rests.

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Thai Airways A380 Business Class cabin during boarding

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Thai Airways Business Class cabin onboard the A380 is decked with a purple colour scheme

The lavatories in the Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 is of a good size and feels bigger than the Economy Class lavatories. The Business Class lavatory is decked with wooden furnishing from the cabinets to the flooring, giving it a classy and premium feel. The lavatory has more amenities compared to the Economy Class lavatory. On top of the hand soap, cologne and tissue found in Economy Class, hand lotion and handkerchiefs are found in the Business Class lavatory. Thai Airways decorate their Business Class cabins with orchid flowers to give it a more premium feel.

The Seat

Seats in Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 are arranged in 1-2-1 configuration, giving direct aisle access to all Business Class passengers. As the seats in the Business Class cabin are arranged in a staggered manner and some seats enjoy greater privacy than others. Business Class seats have 71″ pitch and 20″ width that provides ample legroom for its passengers. The Business Class seats onboard the A380 seem bigger than those onboard their newer A350. The seats are capable of converting into a 180° flatbed for passengers who wish to catch up on their sleep. The Business Class seat onboard Thai Airways A380 is very comfortable to sleep on in the bed mode. The seats have 3 main positions that passengers can choose from, the upright position for take-off and landings, the lounge mode which is perfect for watching movies on the IFE, and the flatbed mode for sleeping. Other than these 3 main positions, passengers can move the seats back and forth for greater comfort according to the space they require. All seats have a massage function that provided more comfort during the flight. An ottoman is placed in front of the seat, under the IFE screen where passengers can rest their feet on for more comfort. The inclusion of additional storage space for shoes underneath the ottoman is a nice touch to the Business Class product. Large pillows and quilted blankets, as well as amenities kit for Business Class passengers, are already placed on the seats

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Business Class cabin seats onboard Thai Airways A380 in take-off/landing position

There is a small table on the right side of the Business Class seat onboard Thai Airways A380. Reading materials such as in-flight magazines and menu as well as the aircraft safety card are neatly stored in the seat pocket located above the side table on the right side of the seat (on some seats, the small table and the seat pocket are located to the left side of the seat). Just beside the seat pocket, closer to the seat is where a small reading light is placed for passengers to use. The reading light can be adjusted for different levels of brightness. Opposite the seat pocket, on the bulkhead next to the IFE screen is where the coat hanger and tray table are located. The tray table is quite big and swings up to the bulkhead when stored and can be moved forward for passengers to exit the seat when deployed.

There is some practical storage space in the Business Class seat onboard Thai Airways A380 aircraft. A small bin by the side of the seat just beneath the left armrest, allows passengers to store things like their iPad or a book other than passports and mobile phones. This bin is larger than those found on the newer Thai Airways A350 Business Class seats. The headphone jack is located by the armrest on the right of the seat alongside a power socket located slightly below the headphone jack. Seat control and the IFE controller can be found mounted to the seat bulkhead above the armrest on the right side of the seat. There is an additional storage bin for passengers sitting by the window onboard Thai Airways Business Class cabin.

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Business Class passengers by the window would have an extra bin for storage

In-Flight Entertainment

Thai Airways has a superb in-flight entertainment system that keeps their passengers occupied throughout the fight. Passengers can choose from movies from Hollywood and Thailand as well as sitcoms and radio stations. There is even a menu for young passengers containing movies and TV shows that are targeted to children. One can also be entertained by the games in the IFE system, though I find the games a tad boring. Seats in the Business Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 are equipped with a large 15″ touchscreen monitor. The monitor is quite sensitive and the touchscreen function did not lag at all. Alternatively, Business Class passengers can toggle through the IFE menu using the remote control stowed above the armrest in the seat. There are 2 USB outlets located below the IFE TV screen. However, I find watching the TV when the seat is in the flatbed mode to be impossible due to the lighting on the LCD screen. There are also no tilting functions on the IFE screen. I do find the lounging position on the seat is most ideal for catching up movies on the TV screen. All Business Class passengers were issued with noise cancelling headphones, which are very comfortable when wearing and is very effective in blocking out the noise.

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Each Business Class seat has a 15″ touchscreen TV

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Noise cancelling headphones

The Food

Business Class passengers on Thai Airways were well fed throughout the fight. As soon as I boarded the aircraft, after settling into my seat, flight attendants come around serving pre-departure drinks. I always go for “Violet Bliss” (butterfly-pea drink) as the pre-departure drink which is very refreshing and is slightly sweet. As this drink was not on the tray that the flight attendants hold when they come to me, I had to request for this drink which the flight attendants served with a smile. As soon as the seatbelt signs were turned off, flight attendants sprung into action to distribute nuts and another round of drinks, while taking order for the first meal.

For the first meal, I ordered the Japanese cuisine. As this is a medium haul flight, meals were served course by course in the Business Class cabin. The first meal started with a serving of crab salad and smoked duck as the appetiser presented in Thai Airways china. The crab tasted fresh flavourful and the duck was not too tough. There is even a scallop that is served together with the appetiser. Flight attendants come around with a bread basket for passengers to choose from after the appetiser was served. The main course was served after the flight attendants cleared the appetiser. The Japanese Cuisine was served in a silver with purple lining Thai Airways bento container. The bento set contains an assortment of Japanese cold dishes such as cold soba with crab, tamago egg roll with fried salmon, steamed prawn and unagi sushi to name a few. These cold dishes are very fresh and tasty. The meal is served with Japanese rice, miso soup and beef cheek sukiyaki. The beef cheek tasted very tender but I find some parts of the beef to fattening for my liking. But the broth it comes with is very tasty. My friend opted for the pork loin, which presentation wise does not seem appetising but the taste is great and well seasoned. After we are done with the main meal, the flight attendants cleared the table to make way for fruit and cheese as a prelude to the dessert. For dessert, I opted for the Thai milk tea ice-cream which is very refreshing. Tucking into the milk tea ice-cream, I feel as though I am drinking the Thai Ice tea on the streets of Bangkok. Shortly after the flight attendants served the ice-cream, another attendant placed a piece of chocolate on the table. What a nice touch!

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Crab salad and smoked duck together with a choice of bread as served as the appetiser

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I opted for the Japanese Cuisine which comes with Japanese appetiser and beef cheek sukiyaki presented in a Thai Airways Bento container

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My friend opted for the pork loin as the main course

The second meal was served 2 hours before landing. For the afternoon tea set, I opted for scone and latte. The scone tasted fluffy and sweet due to the thin layer of sugar glazed onto the scone. However, the scone only comes with jam and does not come with cream. It would be perfect if it comes with cream.

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I opted for the scone for afternoon tea meal

Service

The service I received onboard this Thai Airways flight on Business Class from KIX to BKK is impeccable. The excellent service started at the check-in counter, where the ground staff representing Thai Airways was very patient with my questions and helped us settled our luggage during check-in. The staff also gave very detailed directions on where the fast lane is and where the lounge is located when our boarding pass is handed over to us. The service in the lounge is very good as well. As soon as we walked into the lounge, we were made to feel welcome with smiles and cheerful greetings. The staff manning the lounge area ensured that the food is replenished on time and tables are cleared promptly. There is this instance that I wanted to get hot water for the instant noodles and informed one of the staff at the lounge that the hot water had run out, the staff immediately apologise (though I think she does not have to do that) and promptly swap out another flask with hot water. She even volunteered to prepare the noodles for me and had it delivered to my table.

The service onboard is immaculate and is the best service I have received so far flying Thai Airways. The excellent service started when friendly flight attendants received passengers at the door with the Thai Wai and showing us to our seats. While at our seat, the flight attendant introduced some features of the seat and also where we get find copies of the menu. Despite the drink that I wanted was not on the tray, the flight attendant hastened to get my drink and served with a smile. This is my first time seeing flight attendants going around the cabin introducing themselves to the area of passengers they are serving. During meal service, flight attendants gracefully laid the table and presented the meal of our choice. They seem to be very observant and promptly cleared the plates after we are done with our meal without us having to ask them to do so. The service onboard is very prompt with meals and drinks served in an efficient manner and with grace and smiles throughout. The flight attendant also asked if we are full and wanted more food. Flight attendants are seen patrolling the cabin frequently throughout the flight. They are also seen wearing their smiles all the time throughout the duration of the flight. I was pleasantly surprised when the flight attendant went around distributing free wifi access cards, which is a very nice touch in Business Class cabin.

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Flight attendants went around introducing themselves and greeting passengers with the Thai Wai

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Flight attendants during meal service

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Flight attendants patrolling the cabin

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Thai Airways gave each Business Class passengers complimentary wifi access card

Afterthought

Thai Airways A380 Business Class product is excellent. The Business Class cabin exudes a sense of calm and classiness with the purple hues used in the decor of the cabin. The seats are comfortable and the legroom is excellent. I felt the space in Business Class seat onboard A380 is bigger than that in their newer A350 aircraft, as I did not have to struggle to get in and out of my seat with the tray table deployed. The design of the Business Class seats in A380 is very well thought out, there are storage spaces in the seat for small items and the depth is just right. The IFE system kept me entertained throughout the flight, though my only complaint is that the screen is not viewable when the seat is in flatbed mode. The food served onboard is very flavourful and tasty. Meals are served course by course, making me feel as though I am dining in a restaurant. The best impression of flying Thai Airways Business Class is the service. The flight attendants took pride in their work and ensured all passengers are well taken care of during the flight time. They are seen wearing their smiles all the time and are very prompt to respond to passengers’ requests. Flying with this excellent set of crew onboard Thai Airways, I felt welcomed and the warmth that the Thais are renowned for. Overall, this experience flying with Thai Airways onboard their A380 Business Class cabin is a very pleasant experience.

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Thai Airways A380 flying through the clouds

[Airline Review] – Thai Airways A380-800 (TG622) – Economy Class, BKK-KIX (17 May 18)

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Thai Airways A380 in BKK

At The Airport

The previous flight arrived at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport on time and was parked on the tarmac. Instead of entering the airport terminal from the aerobridge, we were brought to the terminal by the airport bus. It seems that Thai Airways only catered 1 bus to transfer a full load of passengers to the terminal, as such instead of having 1½ hour transit time, I only had 20 mins to rush to the next departing gate. Suvarnabhumi Airport is quite big which means I had to run to the boarding gate. By the time I reached the gate, it is about to close.

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Thai Airways A380-800 departs from Gate E4

The Aircraft

The Cabin

The seats in Economy Class Cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 is decked with the familiar vibrant colourful seats with hues of purple, orange and yellow. This colour scheme makes the cabin look cheerful and certainly brightens the mood of holidaymakers. There are a total of 435 seats in the Economy Class Cabin. The main bulk of the Economy Class Cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 occupies the lower deck of the aircraft, with 361 seats split into 3 sections spreading across the entire lower deck. There are 74 seats at the rear of the upper deck, just behind the Business Class seats. The Economy Class seats are reserved for higher paying travellers in this class, passengers travelling on promotional prices are not able to select these upper deck seats until the internet check-in opens up (which is 24 hours prior to departure). As the seats on the upper deck are full at the time I checked-in online, I was only able to get the seats on the lower deck.

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A very vibrant colour scheme in the Economy Class Cabin onboard Thai Airways A380

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The rear Economy Class section on board Thai Airways A380

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Thai Airways A380 Economy Class cabin

There are numerous lavatories spread across the entire lower deck. The lavatories are rather small compared to some other airlines such as Singapore Airlines. However, they sufficiently serve the purpose they are meant for. The lavatories are decked out in white colour, with the signature Thai Airways light purple coloured on the cabinets below the sink. The clever use of white lights makes the lavatory looked clean and bright and does not give one a claustrophobic feel. As with most Thai Airways aircraft, the tap is sensor activated which makes it both convenient and hygienic for passengers. The amenities in the lavatory is limited to hand soap and cologne on top of the tissues and paper cups. Passengers flying on red-eye flights (as with this flight I flew on) have to bring their own toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen up. Unlike some other airlines, Thai Airways do not distribute amenities pack for overnight flights.

The Seat

The seats in the Economy Class Cabin onboard Thai Airways A380 is very comfortable. Each seat has a 32″ pitch and 18″ width. The legroom on these seats are very good, I had ample legroom in the Economy Class seat that enabled me to snooze throughout the flight. The Economy Class seats onboard Thai Airways A380 are arranged in a 4-3-4 configuration on the lower deck, and 2-4-2 on the upper deck. I like the design of the tray tables on the newer Thai Airways aircraft, which features a bi-fold design that is capable of folding away half of the tray table when passengers do not need to use the full table. This allows passengers sitting in the inner seats to gain access to the aisle without the need to put away the table. There is a leg rest on each seat in the Economy Class, however, I do find these leg rests to be a tad too uncomfortable when resting my foot on them. The headphone jack and the seat recline button on these seats are found on the left armrest. Seats can be reclined sufficiently that provided me with a comfortable rest on this red-eye flight. Each Economy Class seat onboard Thai Airways A380 comes with a USB outlet that serves as a charging port located on the bottom left side of the TV screen, and a hook on the bottom right side of the screen. The seat pockets, where in-flight magazines are provided in each seat as well as the aircraft safety card, are rather deep (and capable of storing my camera). I like the idea of including a small seat pocket in front of the main seat pocket which I used to put my mobile phone in.

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Thai Airways A380 Economy Class seat

In-Flight Entertainment

Thai Airways has a very good in-flight entertainment system. All Economy Class seats onboard the A380 comes with a 10.6″ touchscreen TV which can be tilted to suit the sitting position and the degree of reclined on these seats. The touchscreen function is very responsive and does not seem to lag when I used it. The In-flight entertainment system can also be controlled via the remote controller located at the bottom of the TV screen. At the time of boarding, headphones are already placed on each seat, though these headphones are not noise cancelling. The in-flight entertainment system is loaded with movies ranging from the latest Hollywood Blockbuster to Thai movies and short TV series that kept me entertained when I was not sleeping on the flight. The entertainment system is arranged in an intuitive manner that makes scrolling through and looking for a movie to watch easy. There are games that are loaded in the in-flight entertainment system, though I find these games to be a tad boring.

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In-Flight Entertainment Unit in the Economy Class cabin onboard Thai Airways A380

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The IFE Controller is found below the AVOD screen

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Headphone used in Economy Class Cabin onboard Thai Airways A380

The Food

2 meals are served on this flight from Bangkok to Kansai. As soon as the seat belt signs are turned off, flight attendants disappear into the galley. Moments later, they were seen going around the cabin distributing a bag with the print “Any Time Treats”. This bag contains a ham and cheese sandwich and a bottle of water. I thought to distribute this bag of treats a very nice gesture on the part of Thai Airways. By doing so, passengers have ensured an undisturbed sleep on this red-eye flight and at the same time, allowing passengers to have something to eat when they wake up or whenever they choose to consume the sandwich. On top of the bag of sandwich, flight attendants were also seen going around the cabin serving drinks to passengers. Flight attendants were also seen patrolling the cabin in the night serving passengers who are not asleep drinks.

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A snack pack was distributed to all passengers in Economy Class cabin

About 2 hours before landing, the Economy Class cabin lights were turned on for breakfast service. For breakfast, I opted for the pork with rice that comes with fruit salad, yoghurt and a cup of orange juice. Croissants are also distributed with the breakfast. The flight attendant gladly gave me 2 croissants upon my request. Shortly after the meal service, flight attendants went around the cabin distributing drinks and coffee and tea followed the drinks service. The pork I opted for is very tasty, and flavourful especially the gravy it is soaked in.

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Breakfast in Economy Class onboard Thai Airways A380

Service

Service is excellent onboard Thai Airways A380 Economy Class cabin. The service started as soon as I stepped onboard the aircraft to be welcomed by the flight attendants with the traditional Thai hand gesture. Flight attendants were placed throughout the cabin during boarding guiding passengers to their seats. The flight attendants sprung into action as soon as the seatbelt signs were turned off to prepare for meals. The flight attendants were efficient in preparing the meal and in their meal service and which ensured that passengers get their food without having to wait too long. Service is always presented with a smile, that made flying with Thai Airways enjoyable. Flight attendants were seen patrolling the cabin constantly to answer to requests from passengers and to clear away trash. Meal trays were collected efficiently after passengers had their meals and flight attendants would return to passengers to check if they would like any drinks. Throughout the flight time, I was made to feel well-taken care off by the flight attendants.

Afterthought

This is my first time flying A380, the aircraft is very comfortable in the Economy Class. Legroom was fantastic and I did not feel cramp in my seat. The seat is comfortable and I had a good rest on this red-eye flight. The IFE onboard is very well organised, making scrolling through to select movies very easy. The IFE is well stocked with movies and games that kept me entertained when I was not sleeping. Service is very good onboard with flight attendants displaying the warm hospitality that the Thais are renowned for. Meals are very delicious and flavourful and the pork does not taste dry. I like the idea of giving out “Any Time Treats”, which ensured that passengers do not feel hungry despite in the middle of the night. I had an enjoyable time flying on Thai Airways A380 in the Economy Class cabin from Bangkok to Kansai.

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Flying over the Sea of Japan

[Airline Review] – Thai Airways A350-900 (TG410) – Economy Class, SIN-BKK (17 May 18)

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Thai Airways A350-900 that flew us from SIN to BKK

At the Airport

Thai Airways departs from Terminal 1 in Singapore Changi Airport. Their check-in counters are located on Row 5, located in the middle of the terminal. As with most airlines, Thai Airways offer internet check-in, which I highly recommend travellers to complete before heading to the airport. Not only will one be able to select the seats that one wants, it also cut short the time that one will stand in the queue. There is hardly a queue at the internet check-in counters, which I only spent 3 mins waiting for my turn. The “regular” check-in counter has a significantly longer queue. The ground staff handling our check-in is very friendly and efficient. Within mere minutes, our luggage is sitting on the conveyor belt heading for the aircraft. The staff also reminded us of the boarding timing and the gate number when she hands our boarding pass to us.

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Thai Airways Check-in Counters are located in Singapore Airport Terminal 1

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There is a counter dedicated for passengers who have done their check-in via internet

Thai Airways departs at gate C24, which is towards the end of the pier. As Singapore-Bangkok flight is always full, do go to the gate early for a secondary security check. By the time we arrived at the gate, most of the passengers have completed their secondary security checks and are waiting in the waiting area. Other than boarding by rows and class, Thai Airways also gave priority boarding for passengers travelling with elderly and children.

The Aircraft

The Cabin

Thai Airways flew this Singapore-Bangkok leg with their newest additions of the A350-900 fleet. The 289 seats Economy Class cabin is segregated into 2 sections, with the forward section accommodating 159 passengers and the rear section having 150 seats. The colour scheme of the seats in the Economy Class cabin on Thai Airways A350 has departed from the usual bright tones and is decked out in various earthy tones of brown with the familiar purple. Thai Airways A350 is equipped with mood lighting which the pilot will toggle depending on the time of the flight.

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Thai Airways A350 Economy Class cabin

The Economy Class lavatory is rather sizable and looks clean thanks to the white colour furnishings and lighting. The wooden finishing on the cabinets adds a classy touch to the lavatory. The lavatory is well stocked with tissue and paper cups, however other than hand soap and perfume, there are no other amenities available. I like the sensor activated tap in the lavatory, which is both convenient and hygienic.

The Seat

Seats in Economy Class cabin on Thai Airways A350 are arranged in 3-3-3 configuration in 2 sections. Each seat has a 32″ pitch and measures 18″ wide. They are comfortable and the legroom is rather generous. At the time of boarding, pillows and headsets are already placed on each seat, however, the blankets are distributed prior to, taking off. As with most Economy Class seats, the tray tables are stowed at the back of the seat in front. These tray tables are bi-folded, which makes getting in and out pretty easy. The seat recline button is found on the right armrest. Each seat comes with a leg rest, which can be cumbersome for passengers who wanted to stow their hand carry underneath the seat in front of them. I tried using the leg rest but found they make sitting on the Economy Class seats to be uncomfortable. The seat pocket onboard Thai Airways A350 has only a single tier, which is rather small. With the seat pocket contents, there is hardly any excess room to put anything else other than passport and mobile phone. There is no lack of reading materials found in the seat pocket, other than the usual duty-free catalogue, there is also another catalogue – the OTOP Prestige shopping catalogue found in the seat pocket. The Thai Airways signature travel magazine – Sawasdee is also found in the seat pocket.

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Thai Airways A350 Economy Class Cabin seats
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Blankets are distributed once all passengers are seated prior to taking off

In-Flight Entertainment

Each Economy Class seat on board the Thai Airways A350 comes with a personal AVOD, which passengers can start watching movies or playing games the moment they board the aircraft. The system remains available throughout the flight till the passengers disembark. The 11″ touch-screen AVOD has a wide selection of movies, including the latest Hollywood blockbuster and Thai Movies, arranged in initiative menus that makes searching very easy. Other than movies, Thai Airways IFE comes packed with games, travel documentaries and popular American sitcoms. I also found the menu in the IFE. I find the touchscreen function to be rather responsive after all the A350-900 is still very new to the Thai Airways Fleet. Headsets are not noise-cancelling but do the job of delivering good sound quality to passengers. The IFE controller is stored under the AVOD screen. This new generation minimalist controller is easy to use and very responsive.

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IFE system and controller

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11″ AVOD touchscreen on board Thai Airways A350 Economy Class Cabin

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Headsets are already made available in the seat when I boarded the aircraft

The Food

Catering onboard Thai Airways is very good. For this flight, we were offered fish with rice and chicken with fried rice. I had the fish meal, which is very flavourful and tasty. The portion of the main meal is just nice, which filled my stomach. I like the idea of including a small bottle of water with each meal when distributed, which keeps each passenger hydrated. Each Economy Class meal comes with the standard corn salad and a cake together with a bun on top of the main course. Drinks such as cola, beer and wines are also served by another set of the pursuers after the meal carts went around serving the meals. Pursuers are seen patrolling the cabin with coffee and tea shortly after the drinks service.

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I had the fish with rice option

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My friend had the chicken with fried rice

Service

I found the service in the Economy Class onboard Thai Airways A350 to be very good, which is much better than the service I received onboard the same type of aircraft in Business Class one year ago (read about it here). The moment I stepped onto the aircraft, I can feel the renowned Thai hospitality. All the attendants are always seen wearing their smile and tirelessly serving the full load Economy Class cabin. The meal service is very efficient and pursuers sprung into action the moment the seat belt signs are turned off, ensuring that all passengers are well-fed during the short 2-hour to Bangkok. Pursuers are also seen patrolling the cabin to clear trays and trash as well as to offer drinks throughout the flight.

Afterthought

Thai Airways A350-900 Economy Class cabin has a good product. The seats are comfortable and the legroom feels generous for Economy Class. However, the single tier seat pocket and the somewhat “useless” leg rest are the minus points for this product. The toilet is bright and clean and is of a decent size for Economy Class cabins, the use of wood furnishing makes it looks classy and feels like those ones would find in Business Class cabin. The IFE is well stocked with entertainment options that made flying on this 2-hour flight zoomed pass fairly quickly. The service onboard this flight is very good. From boarding to meal service to disembarking, the flight attendants displayed the signature Thai hospitality despite being a full flight. Meal service was executed efficiently with the warmness of the Thai smile.

[Accommodation Review] – Airbnb – Mitz’s Apartment (1-Bedroom Apartment), Osaka, Japan (19 – 26 May 18)

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Facade of Mitz Apartment

When I was planning for my trip to Osaka, I wanted an apartment that has a separate bedroom from the living room which provides space for me to throw my shopping and have sufficient space to do the packing on the night before I depart Osaka. The apartment has to be near to Namba area as this is where I will be taking the train to Kansai International Airport on the day of my departure. Numerous listings on Airbnb around Namba area, but these listings are studio apartments and are very small. I found Mitz’s apartment on Airbnb that fits all my requirements. The price is very reasonable for the location and size of the apartment.

Location

Mitz’s apartment is very well located. It is within 5 mins walk from the nearest subway station, Nippombashi Station, which is 1 stop away from Namba Station. It is also with 3 mins walk from Kuromon Ichiba Market (commonly known as Black Market). There are 2 convenient stores within 2 mins walk from Mitz’s apartment. The apartment is also within 7 mins walk to Dotonbori. Link to Mitz’s apartment can be found here: Mitz’s Apartment Listing on Airbnb.

The Apartment

Porch

The first thing that I come across as we entered the apartment is a small porch where I take off our shoes. It is customary that one takes off one’s shoes before entering any Japanese house. A small cabinet by the wall is where we found in-room slippers and where I can store my shoes as well. There is another cabinet where umbrellas are stored beside the shoe cabinet.

Bathroom

A little further from the porch are the bathroom and the toilet. The toilet is a separate room on the left of the corridor. The toilet is equipped with a wash bidet and has a sink on top of it that saves water. The bathroom is located opposite the toilet, on the right side of the corridor from the porch. The dry area of the bathroom comprises a sink, which Mitz placed a cabinet on top of the sink to create more storage space. Next to the sink is a washing machine. The wet area has a shower head and a bathtub. The bathroom in Mitz’s apartment looked modern and clean. As with most Japanese Bathrooms, Mitz’s bathroom has a heating function which can dry the bathroom in no time.

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Toilet

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Dry Area of the Bathroom

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Wet Area of the Bathroom

Bedroom

Mitz’s apartment has a separate bedroom, which is rare for housing in Osaka at this price point. The bedroom is just next to the toilet. The bedroom is rather small in size, Mitz has placed 2 king size bed in the bedroom, leaving it hardly any space to move around. However, there are 2 doors, one by the kitchen and another by the living room, which makes the bedroom rather accessible. There is a cabinet inside the bedroom, but this cabinet is not usable as the owner has used this as a storage space. The sleep quality on the beds is excellent. I had a great night sleep every night every night. The pillows are not too soft for my liking.

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The bedroom that has 2 king size beds

Kitchen

Further down the corridor from the main entrance to the apartment, opposite the bedroom lies the kitchen. The kitchen is small but is well equipped with stove and a fridge. Mitz has readied some coffee and tea as well as some condiments that we could use.  The kitchen is well stocked with utensils and pots and pans which allows one to cook some simple meal. There are a microwave oven and an electric kettle in the kitchen that we used to make hot water every day.

 

Living Room

Mitz’s apartment has a separate living room, which is fantastic for us to put our shopping and pack on the last day. The living has an L-shaped couch that is capable of sitting up to 5 adults comfortably. There is a sizable coffee table in front of the couch which is very useful in putting out stuff onto. There are also 2 power sockets by the wall near the coffee table, which is perfect to charge our lifestyle devices. As the wardrobe in the bedroom was not usable, we used the living room to store our luggage.

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Living room in Mitz’s apartment

Dining Room

The dining room in Mitz’s apartment is in front of the kitchen and beside the living room. There is a dining table good for 4 pax with 4 chairs placed at the dining table. Mitz is very thoughtful as he has placed a box of tissue as well as a box of wet tissues on the dining table. There is a full-length mirror placed by the wall next to the dining table. A TV is placed at the corner of the dining table, which is visible from the dining table as well as the couch in the living room area. A clothing rack is placed at the other corner of the dining room next to the kitchen.

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Dining Room where the TV is placed

Balcony

There is a balcony in Mitz’s apartment where a small table and 2 chairs are placed. This is an area where we can chill out and take in the sights of this area of Osaka City. There are some clothing racks in the balcony where one can hang their clothes to dry.

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Balcony

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View from the Balcony

The Owner – Mitz

Mitz is a wonderful host. He is very responsive when communicating via the Airbnb app and he always responds to my questions within 1 hour of posting. Mitz is very accommodating towards our timing of checking in. We originally agreed to check in at 6pm, however, due to our travels, I arrived at Mitz apartment at 8pm. Mitz is very patient in waiting for my arrival at his apartment. Mitz is also very helpful in offering suggestions on where I can visit in Osaka as well as the amenities in the vicinity of his apartment during our conversation with him when checking into his apartment. Mitz even left a message on Airbnb app asking how was I doing in Osaka and if there is anything he can help to make our stay comfortable.

Overall

Mitz’s apartment is very well appointed. The location is superb, it is within 3 mins walk to the Black Market, and 5 mins walk to the subway station as well as 10 mins walk to Dotonbori. The apartment is very large for Japanese standards, I particularly like the separated bedroom from the living room, which gave me a lot of space. The bathroom is very modern. Mitz’s apartment is a very value for money for its location and the size. We are very comfortable staying in Mitz’s apartment. Highly recommend for anyone coming to Osaka. Link to Mitz’s apartment can be found here: Mitz’s Apartment Listing on Airbnb.

 

[Accommodation Review] – Ryokan Arima Gyoen (Japanese Room), Kansai, Japan (18 – 19 May 18)

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Hotel Signage

Location

Ryokan Arima Gyoen is located in the centre of Arima-onsen town. It is very convenient in visiting the town and the sights around the town. Ryokan Arima Gyoen is right next to the Taikobashi where the river stream park is located. The hotel is located within 2 mins walk from the bus terminal and the bus stop where we took a bus to Shin-Kobe. The train station is also located around 4 mins walk from the hotel. There are shops around the hotel and the only 7-Eleven shop in Arima-onsen is located right across the hotel. The hotel’s location makes it an ideal spot for exploring Arima-onsen town.

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Ryokan Arima Gyeon is located beside Taikobashi, one of the landmarks in Arima-onsen

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Hotel facade next to Taikobashi

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Ryokan Arima Gyeon entrance

The Room

We booked a night’s stay in the Japanese Style room, which comes with breakfast and dinner. Ryokan Arima Gyeon is a modern Ryokan style hotel.

Porch

Entering the room, we were greeted with the front porch, where we took off our shoes. It is customary for guests to take their shoes off when entering a Japanese style room in the hotel. This area is small but functional. There is a shoe rack tucked by the wall, where the staff helped us placed our shoes inside. We wore the slippers that the hotel provides while going to the Onsen in the hotel. The futon closet is found in this part of the room, where such as the futons and blankets are stored in. As with Japanese style rooms, staffs will come into the room and lay the beddings in the evening.

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Porch and entrance to the room

Bathroom

A little further from the porch is where the bathroom is located. The bathroom is rather small, as with most Japanese Hotel standards. Despite its small size, the bathroom is equipped with a bathtub, a sink and a toilet bowl. The standard amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hand soap are placed neatly on the sink countertop. However, no toothbrushes are being provided. There is a rack for hanging towels outside the bathroom.

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The bathroom is a tad small but functional

Sleeping Area

A wooden sliding door separates the porch from the sleeping area. The main part of the room doubles up as a lounge area in the day and a sleeping area in the night. To the left from the sliding door, a small table top where the TV and phone are being placed on. There is a 2-panel cabinet at the bottom of this table top. This area is where the hot flask is also located. I find the placement of the TV here a tad off as we were not able to watch the TV when the futons are being laid on the tatami mats. Tucked by the wall along the length of the room until the balcony area is the tokonoma or an alcove where a vase and a painting is placed on to. Between the TV console and the tokonoma is a small area which has sufficient space for us to stow our luggage. As it was still daytime at the time of our checking in, there is 2 knee height coffee table placed in the centre of the sleeping area. 2 legless chairs are being placed on either side of the tables. There are the tea set and snacks placed on this table at the time of our arrival. The sleep quality on the futons is superb. We were able to get a good night sleep on these futons. The pillows are not too soft for my liking.

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The lounging cum sleeping area

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TV console

Balcony

Furthest away from the entrance to the room is a small area. There is another wooden sliding door that separates this area from the sleeping area. Here is where we find a small bar fridge and a couple of armchairs, together with a small coffee table. The closet in the room is also placed here, where we found yukatas as well as the towels. A safe box is hidden inside this closet. A glass door separates this lounge area from the balcony.

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The balcony area

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The fridge is located in the balcony area

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The wardrobe is located in the balcony area and is a tad small

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View of Arima-onsen from the balcony

The Onsen

Ryokan Arima Gyoen has its own onsen, though not very big. Located on the 7th floor, the onsen is in the main building. The onsen is separated by sex and has a small Kinsen and a large Ginsen in the enclosed space. There is an outdoor Ginsen next to the changing room. The changing room has amenities such as body lotion, shavers, combs and cotton buds.

Dining

Dinner

The plan we booked came with dinner and breakfast. The Japanese dinner was served in our room where the staff would show up at the arranged time to set up for dinner. The dinner consists of multiple courses that included sashimi, hot pot and rice to name a few. The dinner was delicious and the sashimi tasted very fresh. From time to time, the hotel staff would come into our room to clear the empty plates and served up the next dish. We were very full after having the dinner.

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Dinner being set up

Breakfast

Breakfast was served in the dining rooms in the annexe building. The breakfast served was Japanese style where we were given rice with fish to grill on amongst other food. I am not very used to the Japanese style breakfast, despite they are delicious.

Service

The service in the hotel is superb. We experienced Japanese hospitality throughout our stay in the hotel. Staffs welcomed us the moment we step into the hotel. The hotel has strict check-in timing hence we were not able to check-in early. However, the staff was happy to look after our luggage while we explored Arima-onsen. The staffs were always wearing their smiles whenever we walk past them or approach them. When we returned later in the afternoon to get our keys, we were surprised that our luggage has already been placed in our room. The staffs were very attentive and would somehow know when to appear, especially during meal time. During dinner, the staff would appear on the dot as we were finishing up our meal and present the next course. After the meal, the staff promptly moved everything to one side and set up the futons in under 10 mins. During breakfast, the staff would sit by the side after bringing us to our table and noticed that our rice bowls were empty and offered to top up the rice without us even asking. Even the cleaning staff in the public area smile and greeted us whenever we bumped into them. The staff at the lobby even gave us sound advice on what to see in Arima-onsen and were never stingy in offering information.

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A staff of the hotel set up for dinner

Overall

Ryokan Arima Gyoen is located in the centre of town and is a good base to explore Arima-onsen. The room is very well laid out and the sleep quality is very good on the futons. The service we had received at the hotel is nothing short of excellence, every staff in the hotel made us feel welcome. I would come back here to stay the next time I visit Arima-onsen.