Bali (30 Jan 16) – East Bali Loop: Spending the Day at Pura Besakih, Mt Batur Volcano, and Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot

Bali – The Island of Gods is a mere 2 hours away from Singapore and is a good place for Singaporeans to visit for a weekend gateway. There are several flights a day from various airlines heading out to Bali from Singapore. My friends and I did a 4 day trip to Bali over a weekend in Jan 16. During our trip we wanted to do some sight seeing, and yet cater time to rest and relax. Hence, we opted to do a day trip in Bali and spend the rest of the time in Bali lazing around in the comforts of our villa. For the day trip, we hired a driver and drive us around to some of the famous spots in Bali. Our day trip starts with our driver picking us up at our villa in Seminyak and move up north towards Pura Besakih and than to a good spot to view Mt Batur Volcano and ending up in Pura Tanah Lot for sunset.
Map of the route we took for this day trip in Bali

Pura Besakih

Perching on the side of  Mt Agung at an altitude of around 1000m above sea level is the magnificent Pura Besakih. Pura Besakih is the largest hindu temple in Bali, affectionately known as the Mother Temple. This temple comprises of 23 individual temple complexes, built on 6 levels. As no cars are allowed at the base of the temple, visitors coming by their hired cars (or drivers) will arrive at the nearby carpark, which is around 1km from the temple. One is expected to dressed in Sarongs in order to visit the temple. Sarongs can be rented or purchased from the numerous stores at the carpark. Tickets to the temple is located adjacent to the carpark, however the staffs here will pester you to contribute to the temple funds by means of a donation. Although it was put across that the donations are “voluntary”, the staffs at the ticketing counter will ensure tourists contribute to their donations.  One can either walk to the base of the temple or simply hire a motorcycle taxi from the ticketing counter to the base of the temple.

At the base of the temple, visitors will be greeted by a long flight of stairways leading up to the split entrance that has been so iconic of Balinese architecture. A couple of stone statues standing guard before this stairways, as if they are there to greet visitors. Visitors touring the temple without a guide are only allowed to tour the base of the temple and only outside the gate up the long flight of stairways that leads to the second level. To be able to visit the entire temple, a local guide is required. We hired a guide (who charges us Rp25,000 per person) to take us to the various parts of Pura Besakih.

Guardian Statue at the base of Pura Besakih
The long stairways at the base of Pura Besakih leading to the second level of the temple
My friends posing with their rented sarongs at the carpark. Visitors are expected to wear sarong when visiting Pura Besakih. Sarongs are not needed in other temples in Bali.
Taking a wefie before we head up to the stairways into Pura Besakih
Statues at the base of Pura Besakih
Looking at the base of Pura Besakih from the top of the stairways
Another guardian statue in Pura Besakih. Such statues are in abundance around the temple

Up the flight of stairways in the centre of the temple complex, we arrived at level 2 of Pura Besakih. The Pura Penataran Agung is located just beyond the gates on the top of this stairways and is the largest temple structure here in Pura Besakih. This temple complex is dedicated to the Hindu Deity Shiva, the God of Destruction. Passing the split gates, we entered the grounds of Pura Penataran Agung. There is a small courtyard before another door which leads to the inner grounds of the temple. This 3-door gate has both the side doors opened and the centre door remained shut. We were told that the centre door is meant for the King to pass through, commoners would use the side doors to enter the temple. Passing one of the side doors, a large courtyard decorated with numerous Balinese style pagodas greeted us. There are some temple buildings spread across the vast courtyard. During out visit, we witnessed at a far distance, a group of locals seemingly performing some form of prayers. Our guide informed us that these people are performing a funeral ritual, where the family of the deceased hired some priests to pray to their loved ones who has passed on. Our guide then brought us to a building, raised on stilts. This building is built for Lord Shiva to consummate with his wife. It is also believed that couples seeking fertility come and pray here for a child.

The doorway that leads into the temple nested on top of the stairways. Only royalties are allowed to use this doorway. Commons are expected to enter the temple using the 2 side doors.
A pavilion in the small courtyard before the second door into the temple. Here is where the local musicians played music for festive and prayers in the temple
Such Pagodas are a common sight around Pura Besakih. These pagodas are an icon in Balinese architecture. The roof are built using straws. Each pagodas varies in the number of tiers, but they are always in odd numbers. The tallest pagoda has 11 tiers
My friends posing in front of the pagodas in Pura Penataran Agung
Pagodas in Pura Penataran Agung
This structure is built for Lord Shiva to commensurate with his wife

Exiting Pura Penatran Agung on the left side door, our guide brought us through a small road to another part of Pura Besakih. Pura Batu Madeg is located on another level, at the northern end of Pura Besakih. Compared to Pura Penataran Agung, Pura Batu Madeg is of a modest size. This temple is dedicated to the Hindi God Vishu, the God of Protection. There is also a small courtyard after passing the gates to the temple grounds and another flight of stairs built right in the middle of the courtyard. We scaled the stairs to head further into the temple. The view over the horizon from where we came from is magnificent from here. We could see as far as the coastline and the sea. As it was about to rain, our guide brought us back to the entrance of Pura Besakih via a road behind the compounds of Pura Penatran Agung. 

View of Pura Batu Madeg from Pura Penataran Agung
Pagodas in Pura Batu Madeg up close
View of the temple grounds from Pura Batu Madeg
Split entrance of Pura Batu Madeg
Pavilions for ceremonies in Pura Batu Madeg
Us at Pura Batu Madeg
Stairways leading to a higher level in Pura Batu Madeg
Stairways in Pura Batu Madeg
Guardian statue in Pura Batu Madeg
11 tiered pagoda in Pura Batu Madeg
Us on the higher level of Pura Batu Madeg (this is the highest level in Pura Besakih)
Guardian statue in Pura Batu Madeg

As we were walking on this narrow road,  there are some buildings to the left of us overlooking into Pura Penataran Agung. We were informed by our guide that this building houses the deity figurines that the locals bought and placed here. Occasionally, the owners of these figurines would make the trip up here to pay respect to the god their figurines represent. As we were walking down towards the entrance, our guide pointed out that other than gods, the locals also offer prayers to demons in a bide to pray for peace. He also pointed a part of the walls to us, informing us that this part has been part of Pura Besakih since the temple was built. No one knows how old the temple is. We headed out to meet our motorcycle drivers whom brought us to the carpark to meet our driver. We are headed to our next destination.

View of Pura Penataran Agung from the side road behind the temple
Pagodas like these are a common sight in Pura Besakih
Taking a wefie with the pagodas in Pura Besakih
Another guardian statue in Pura Besakih
Guardian statues standing guard at the entrance of the temple
Parts of this wall has been around since the construction of Pura Besakih

Mt Batur Volcano

As we wanted to catch a glimpse of a Mt Batur Volcano, our driver brought us to a restaurant located in Kintamani that offers stunning view of the volcano and Danau Batur, the crater lake next to the volcano. Mt Batur Volcano is one of the few active volcanos in Bali. The volcano is essentially situated inside a larger dead volcano, with a crescent-shaped crater lake – Lake Batur accompanying the volcano, the view here is magnificent. The cool crisp mountain climate with occasional mountain breeze took the heat that we have been experiencing in Bali away. We settled our lunch here, where the restaurant served Indonesian buffet cuisine. Sitting at the outdoor pavilion overlooking the volcano, our buffet lunch here offers views that is out of this world. We could never get sick of the view from the pavilion where we were seated. Looking out at the volcano, we spotted black soil at the base of the volcano seem to point that the volcano is dormant, as if it is gathering its strength to display its might once again. The active volcano seem asleep at the time of our visit.
Mt Batur Volcano
Mt Batur and a nearby mountain
Panoramic shot of Mt Batur and Danau Batur
Taking a wefie with Mt Batur
Taking a wefie with Mt Batur
View of Mt Batur from the restaurant
My friends taking wefie in front of Mt Batur Volcano
My friend with Mt Batur at the background
Shot of Mt Batur and Danau Batur
The nearby mountains
Enjoying the view of Mt Batur while lunching at one of the outdoor pavilions

Paulina Coffee Plantation – Kopi Luwak

Part of our itinerary we wanted to do a short stopover to view the iconic rice terrace in Bali along our way from Mt Batur Volcano to Tanah Lot. As we were driving towards Tanah Lot, we did a short stopover at one of the coffee plantations – Bali Paulina Coffee Plantation. The main star in this coffee plantation is the Luwak cat, the Asian Palm Civet, which produces the world’s most expensive coffee. The coffee beans used to brew the Kopi Luwak are produced by these Asian Palm Civet, which eats the coffee beans and poopped them out. Due to the limited amount of excremation these cats can produce, the coffee beans gathered by the farmers fetch very high value. As we were walking through the plantation, other than the Luwak Cat, there are other crops being planted such as ginger, pineapples, cocoas to name a few. At the end of the somewhat smallish plantation, we were escorted to a terrace overlooking a rice terrace. While waiting for our samples of different coffees and teas as well as the Kopi Luwak, we headed out to a lookout point built by the owners of the plantation using timber. At this lookout point we were able to catch a glimpse of the rice terrace in full view. These rice terrace that was before our eyes looked as if someone is growing rice in the middle of juggle. After sampling our beverages, we headed to the gift shop and got ourselves some of the local produces.

Pandan leaves in the plantation
Some random flowers
Cocoa trees are also found in this small plantation
Random flower in the plantation
The Asian Palm Civet in the cat. This cat produces the most expensive coffee in the world
My friends waiting for the sample of coffees and tea to come
These are the coffee and tea that we sampled
Kopi Luwak- the most expensive coffee in the world
Taking a wefie at the lookout point
The terrace looks as though someone is farming in the jungles
Walking through the plantation
My friends shopping at the gift shop

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

En-route to Pura Tanah Lot, we drove past Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Rice terrace is a method of growing rice paddies, where the farmers carved out steps on the slope of the hill to grow these paddies. By using this method, the rice farmers are able to reduce erosion and support rice paddy farming, which requires irrigation. Visiting the rice terrace is by no means free, as soon as our vehicle pulls over at the curb, a local came running towards us to collect money for the viewing of rice terrace. At the time or our visit, most of the rice paddies had already been harvested, only a small quantity is left over for harvest. We could still see the some of the farmers harvesting what is left for harvesting. Despite this, the rice terrace still presents itself as a magnificent sight to be awed. We went down to one of the rice terraces to take a closer look how the rice terrace looks like up close. What we saw is essentially a shallow waterhole with some seedlings planted onto it. We left the rice terrace after taking some pictures.

 

Rice terrace at Tegalalang
My friends at the rice terrace
Taking wefie at Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Panoramic shot of the rice terrace

Pura Tanah Lot

Our final stop for the day is Pura Tanah Lot. The drive from Tegalalang Rice Terrace to Pura Tanah Lot usually takes around 2 hours. As we told our driver that we would want to see sunset at Tanah Lot, he made completed the drive in 1 hours. We were in time for sunset! Pura Tanah Lot is a temple built on an island off the coast of Bali. The temple is dedicated for the prayers to the Sea Gods in Hinduism mythology. Coming from the carpark, we were at a path that leads to 2 temples on the left and the right. The temple on the right, nested on top of a rock formation out into the sea is Pura Tanah Lot. At this point, the receding coastline tells us that it is low tide, meaning we can walk over to the base of Pura Tanah Lot to receive blessings from the priest there. The temple itself is closed at the time of our visit. Even if it is open, we will not be allowed entry as only devotees who come here to pray dressed in the traditional Balinese prayer outfit will be allowed entry into the temple. After we got our blessings, since we were not able to head up to the temple grounds, we walked over to the rocks on the coastline to watch sunset and listened to the rhythm of the waves hitting onto the coastal rocks. The sound created by the waves is very soothing, coupled with the view of the sunset, it feels like one can stay here all day long. After sunset, we headed back to the carpark to look for our driver. Afterall it is already dark. As the darkness fell, so did the liveliness around Pura Tanah Lot. What was bustling in the day soon turned to silence as soon as the sun called it a day. We had requested our driver to drop us a Kuta, where we had our dinner. As I always tell my friends, when visiting Bali, one will always end up in Kuta, be it for food, for massage or for shopping. With the sunsetting at Pura Tanah Lot, this concludes our day trip around (mainly) East and North of the island of Gods. We spent the next 2 days lazing around in the villa and shopping in places like Seminyak and Kuta.

There is another temple by the edge of this cliff
Pura Tanah Lot from a far. The temple is only accessible during low tide
My friends with Pura Tanah Lot at the background. This is a great place to take picture of the temple
Wefie at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunsetting at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
One can receive blessings at the cave beneath Pura Tanah Lot
My friends receiving blessing by the priest
My friend cleansing herself with the spring water as part of the blessing ceremony
We got our blessings from the priest
Pura Tanah Lot at sunset, lucky it is low tide now
My friends at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
My friends at Pura Tanah Lot
Watching the sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot

[Accommodation Review] – BVilla+Seaside (2-Bedroom Villa), Bali, Indonesia (29 Jan – 1 Feb 16)

Hotel Signage

Location

BVilla+Seaside is located in Seminyak, an upscale area in Bali. Compared to Kuta, Seminyak is less crowded. The location of the villa is just a stones throw away from Seminyak Square and a newly opened shopping mall – Seminyak Village. There are no lack of restaurants around the villa, with Indonesian and Mexican Food just right across the street. Seminyak beach is just 5 minutes walk away from the villa. Getting to places such as Legian and Kuta is a breeze from the villa, which is just around 1 hour away from the villa via cab.
Hotel lobby
Checking into our villa at the reception
Rest area at the reception
The road outside the villa

The Villa

Pool Area

The area inside the villa is fairly large. The front pouch of the villa features a large private pool that greets guests upon entering the villa. The square-shaped pool is perfect for guests to spend time swimming and soaking in. The pool is around 1.5m deep at its deepest point. Beside the pool is a couple of queen size tanning beds, which is a great spot for tanning as there are no vegetation around to block out the sun. These beds are also great to lie on at night for star gazing in the private sanctuary surrounded by the walls of the villa.

Private pool in the villa
View of the pool with the tanning beds
Private pool
The pool is great for swimming or even soaking in

A walkway leads guests from the main door to the living space in the villa. Across the tanning beds on the other side of the pavement is a small garden. Despite it small size, the greenery of this small garden not only provided a sense of zen and tranquility, it also brightens up the pouch of the villa. What I like about the villa is the absence of excessive vegetation, which not only “dirties” the compounds of the villa (with the dead leaves and such), it also minimises chances of bugs calling our villa their home.

Small garden in the villa opposite the tanning beds

Common Area

Further into the villa is the open-air common living area. This area consists of a dinning table for 4 pax as well as a full kitchen at the past the dinning table behind a bar table. A TV is placed on the cabinet where one cutlery are stored facing the dinning table. There are full set of cutlery and cooking utensils as well as a full size fridge for guests to stow the drinks they bought from the local convenient stores. The kitchen features 4 gas stoves. There is a coffee machine by the side of the gas stove. At the side of the kitchen, tucked by the wall is the sink. The dust bin is well hidden at the kitchen area, behind the bar table. Unfortunately, I find the dues bin a tad too small. On the extreme ends of the sheltered common area, one can find a long beach with cushions. This is an area where one can sit on, serving as the sofas at the common area. I would prefer to have proper living area where guests can gather, rather than gathering only at the dinning table. As the common is open-air, it can get rather warm, despite a fan is placed beside the cabinet.

Dinning table area
Couch in the common area
Another couch is found in front of the second room
Water dispenser, unfortunately there are no water inside
Cabinet of cutlery with LCD TV placed onto
Sink in kitchen area
Gas stove in the kitchen
Illy coffee machine is available in the villa
Full size fridge in the kitchen

Bedrooms

The villa has 2 bedrooms, which are essentially 2 separate buildings within the villa located at the extreme ends of the compounds of the villa tucked in the furthest rear of the villa compounds. Both rooms are of the same dimensions, each with the same bathroom outfits. The only difference is one room is furnished with a king size bed, while the other has twin beds. Entering the sliding glass door of the bed room, the centre of attraction is the bedding. The sleep quality on the bed is excellent, provided me with a good night rest, leaving me felt recharged and fresh every morning. To the right of the entrance to the room, one can find an open wardrobe. This wardrobe is segregated into 2 sections. One section has a 4 tiered shelving, with the bottom tier the large enough to stow a 22″ luggage into. Towels to be used at the swimming pool are placed on one of the shelf here when we checked into the villa. The other side of the wardrobe has a top shelf and place for one to hang their clothings. The hanging space of the wardrobe is a tad small, allowing only 5 days of clothing to be hung. There are also limited hangers to go around for hanging cloths. I am sure that more can be requested from the reception. Connected to the wardrobe is a small table where the in-room safe is located. This table, complete with a chair, also doubles up as a work desk. An LCD TV is suspended onto the wall mounting in one corner of the room facing the bed. For the room with the King beds, the bedside table are located on either side of the bed. There is a red coloured lamps placed on each bedside table. Power sockets are, unfortunately, hidden behind these bedside tables.

Twin bedroom
King bedroom
Wardrobe and work table
TV in the bedroom

Bathroom

The bathroom is located behind the bedding in both of the room. The bathroom is very spacious, stretching across the width of the entire room. Upon entering the bathroom, one is greeted with oversize bathtub nicely placed inside the bathroom by the wall. Opposite the bathtub is where one can find huge sink area, which stretches from the door to the bathroom to the shower area, providing guests with alot of space to stow their toiletries. There are twin sinks sitting on top of the sink area and the hotel provided standard bath amenities. However one point to note, they do not provide dental kits for guests. There is a separate standing rain shower located at the end of the sink table. Opposite the shower area is the toilet. One point to note is that the bathtub is rather dirty. We spent some time cleaning up the bathtub, after leaving the water to run, there seem to be dust accumulated in the water. It is a pity that we did not get to use the bathtub due to the filth.

Huge bathtub in the bathroom
Large sink top table with 2 sinks
Shower area
Toilet opposite the shower area
Amenities in the bathroom, no dental kits are available

Breakfast in Villa

The villa does not seem to have a restaurant on its premises. Breakfasts are served in the villa. What I find unique about the breakfast serving in BVilla+Seaside is instead of pre-cook in a central kitchen, breakfast is cooked inside the villa kitchen. One would have to go to reception everyday and inform the staff of your choice of breakfast from the menu. The staff at the reception would check what time we wanted breakfast to be served. Each morning the chefs will come into the villa about 30 mins before the stipulated time for breakfast and do their cooking while we were sleeping. When breakfast is done, they would knock on the bedroom doors and wake us up for breakfast. We can still remember the ever familiar “Knock Knock, Breakfast” each morning during our stay in the villa. Upon seeing that we woke up, the staffs would leave the villa. Having breakfast in the villa by the pool feels relaxing. The breakfast was still piping hot from the kitchen and they tasted very delicious. There are choice of western style breakfast or Indonesian style breakfast. I particularly liked their fried rice topped with a sunny side up. Assortment of breads as well as cereals are also served as part of the breakfast. We were also given options of freshly squeezed juices on top of the coffee and tea.

Staff cooking breakfast in the villa kitchen
Bread selection for breakfast
Very tasty fried rice
Scrambled egg with sausage and bacon

Spa

On our last day in Bali, after checking out, we headed for the in-house spa in the villa. The spa area is converted from their 3-bedroom villa. Inside the spa grounds, there is a swimming pool, just like the one that is in the villa we were staying in. The villa offers staying guests a 30% discount off the menu price. We opted for a 2-hour spa package, which includes a body scrub, Balinese massage and bath soak in the tub. The masseuses were not only very skilful in their trade, taking away the aches and pains from our tired bodies, they were also excellent in terms of service. Throughout the massage session, we were asked if the strength of the massage was okay. After the massage, we were served tea for relaxation. Massage treatment was done in the villa rooms, which were converted from bedrooms for massage treatments. The price of the massage packages were very reasonable (around SGD 70 for a 2-hour treatment) and is very cheap compared to those we would find in Singapore.
Spa treatment villas
Spa reception area (converted from the kitchen in the villa)
Swimming pool inside the spa grounds
Massage treatment rooms
Bath soak after massage
Spa grounds
Staffs serving tea after the treatment

Service

Service in the villa was nothing short of excellence. The staffs were very friendly and professional in the conduct of their work. Their warmth made us feel welcome in the villa. Our check-in was done in an expeditious manner so that we do have to be held up unnecessarily. The staffs even brought our luggages into the villa while we were checking into the villa. We were escorted into our villa, and the staffs took the effort to explain to us the various facilities in the villa. We were served welcome drinks when we entered the villa that we were staying. Staffs at the reception greeted us whenever we walked past the reception area. Breakfast was done very professionally and staffs coming into the villa without causing much of disturbance to the guests. Our villas were well made up every single day without flaws. Every evening, we would come back to a fresh and clean villa after a long day in Bali. The staffs at the spa were excellent not only in their trade but also in their service. They made us felt so welcome and were not waiting for tips, unlike spas in other places where masseuses would purposely make their presence seen, anticipating tips from customers. The masseuses were even surprised when we approached them and tipped them.

 

Welcome drink were served when we were escorted into our villa

Overall

We had a wonderful time staying in BVilla+Seaside during our stay in Bali. The villa is very spacious and the size of the pool is rather generous. We had quality sleep on the bed. The bathroom felt luxurious, however the condition of the bathtub was disappointing. Service rendered by the staffs were excellent, from the reception to those at the spa. We were made welcome by every single staff we met in the villa. Despite the close proximity to the road, the villa was surprisingly quiet, coupled with the proximity to restaurants, shopping and the beach, BVilla+Seaside is an ideal place to stay whilst in Bali.

 

[Airline Review] – Singapore Airlines (SQ948) / (SQ949) – Economy Class, SIN-DPS, (29 Jan 16) / DPS-SIN (1 Feb 16)

SQ uses A330-300 on their SIN-DPS route

On The Ground

SIN-DPS

SQ uses both terminal 2 and 3 in Singapore Changi Airport for its outbound flights to anywhere else in the world. SQ uses Terminal 2 for regional flights and Terminal for outbound flights to anywhere else in the world. The flight bound for Bali departs from Terminal 2. There are several dedicated rows for SQ in the terminal, mainly rows 1 – 4. Row 3 is dedicated to passengers whom has checked in online flying to anywhere in the region. As we had done our check in online, this row is where we drop our luggage. There are 2 sections to this section, one for drop off of luggage for passengers who prefers to print their own boarding pass and tag their luggage at the machines outside the queue in the row. The other section is for passengers who prefer to have a ground staff checking their luggage in. We opted for the assistance in checking in. As the queue were pretty short, we got checked in pretty swiftly be the ground staff.
Curbside at Changi Airport Terminal 2
Passengers checked in online will need to approach Row 3 to drop off their baggage
Self-service kiosk for printing of boarding pass before dropping off baggage at the counters behind
Pretty empty check-in counters for passengers whom checked in online

Changi Airport airside is like a shopping mall. There are no lack of shopping from luxury brands to the more affordable range brands. There are several gardens around the airport spread across 3 terminals as well as cinemas and rest areas. Most of the rest areas are facing the tarmac for passengers to rest and do some plane watch while waiting for their flights.

 

Shopping in Changi Airport
Duty free shopping
SQ departs from gate F54
Entrance to the waiting room

DPS-SIN

The new Denpasar International Airport was opened in 2013. The terminal building still looks new despite being about 3 years old. To gain access into the terminal building, security personnel matched the tickets of passengers with their passport. SQ uses half of Row C (C5 to C12) for their passengers flying out of DPS. 3 counters are dedicated to Business Class passengers and 2 counter are dedicated to passengers whom have done their check in online. As we were early for our flight, there is no one in the queue and we did not have to wait for our turn. The ground staff at the counter acknowledges our online check in and process our check in very quickly and briefed us on our boarding time and gate number.

 

Denpasar Airport new terminal
Curtsied of Denpasar Airport
Denpasar Airport
Denpasar Airport
Inside Denpasar Airport terminal
Flight information
Very empty check-in counter at row C
Internet check-in counter
Once cleared immigration, passengers are made to walk through duty free shop before arriving at a part of the airside where one can find duty free shopping. There are some luxury brand shops and mostly shops selling overpriced Balinese souvenirs. There are limited eateries around in the airside of the terminal.I particularly liked the queue system of Economy Class in DPS airport. Passengers are grouped by row numbers and there are lanes for passengers to queue up according to the group they are assigned to. This makes boarding very efficient and boarding queue seem shorter.
Passengers will have to go through this duty free shop before reaching airside of the terminal
Walking through the duty free shop
More shopping when one exits the duty free shop
Lounge for premium passengers
More shops. Compared to the old Denpasar airport, which is dark and poorly lighted, the new airport is bright and clean
More shopping at the airside
There is a Hard Rock Cafe near the boarding gates
I like the way SQ organise the queues in Denpasar Airport, making boarding feels faster
Economy Class passengers are organised in groups for more efficient boarding
The bird that is going to fly us home
Heading to the aircraft
Through the aerobridge
Pursuers waiting to welcome passengers onboard

The Cabin

SQ uses A330-300 for both legs of the flight plying between SIN and DPS. The aircraft is configured to take up 30 passengers in Business Class and 255 in Economy Class. The Economy class is further divided into 2 sections, each with its own colour theme. The forward section of Economy Class has a brighter theme, attributed to the use of turquoise colour in the seat with light brown. The aft section of Economy Class is decked in beige and dark orange seats.  The forward gives passengers a lighter and brighter feel, while the aft section gives passengers a more warm and cosy feel. Economy Class is configured with 2-4-2 seating arrangement.
Forward Economy Class cabin
Aft Economy Class cabin
Cabin ambience lighting
Seat belt sign and overhead reading light
Peeking into Business Class
Aircraft safety card
The lavatory in Economy Class is rather standard. As with most airlines, the lavatory in Economy Class tend to be a tad cramp. The lavatory onboard both SQ948 and SQ949 have the standard fixtures. I particularly like the step level which opens the trash bin cover by the sink. I thought this is a nice touch. The lavatory is well lighted with what the airline terms as “Hollywood-style” mirror. SQ provide more standard amenities in its Economy Class lavatory. Amenities such as handsoap, mouth wash, hand moisturiser and eau de toilette are available onboard SQ Economy Class lavatories. These amenities are more that what most airlines offer in their lavatories. On top of these amenities, sanitary pads, combs, toothbrushes are also available in the Economy Class lavatories. Most airlines these days do not provide toothbrushes onboard, I am glad SQ still provides these additional amenities.
Toilet Bowl
Hand cream and Eau de toilette
Mouthwash
Basin
Step pedal to open the trash bin cover
Well stocked toilet paper
Additional amenities which is not seen in most airlines these days
Lavatory compartment
“Hollywood-styled” mirrors
Hook on the door of lavatory

The Seat

The seat in Economy Class is comfortable,  with a generous seat pitch of 32″ and a width of 19″. There are a total of 255 seats in the Economy Class split into 2 sections. A small cup holder and a compartment is found behind each seat, providing more storage space for its passengers. The seat also has an AV jack, a USB port and an outlet for one to plug in their iPod to enjoy music from their personal lifestyle device. The seat pocket is rather generous, with 2 large pockets and 1 small pocket providing ample space for passengers to store their stuff. The legroom is great for Economy Class, and I have sufficient leg room for stretching. The seat also has a sliding bi-fold tray table which provided space for passengers sitting in the window to gain access to the aisle without disturbing passenger sitting at the aisle too much. There is also a vanity mirror on the tray table. The headphone jack is located on the armrest, above a power socket for passengers to charge their lifestyle gadget.

Comfortable Economy Class seats. Large size pillow and Givenchy fleece blankets are already placed on the seats
AV input and iPod as well as USB outlets are found on the right of the TV screen
Cup holder and a small hook as coat hanger found on the left side of the TV

 

Bi-fold tray table gives passengers a sense of space
Tray table fully extended
Vanity mirror on the back of the bi-fold table
Seat recline button found on the armrest of the seat
Headphone jack and power socket are found on the armrest of each seat
Excellent legroom in Economy Class
3 tier seat pockets with sufficient room to store items. I particularly like the small pocket which can be used to stored smaller items like passports, mobile phones
Seat pocket with inflight reading materials
Contents in the seat pocket

In-Flight Entertainment

Passengers are treated with a 10.6″ Personal TV screen in every seat in the Economy Class, however these TVs are not touchscreen which is not a problem as the AVOD controller is rather responsive. KrisWorld is SQ’s entertainment system, which has tons of options to keep passengers entertained, ranging from the latest release of movies to TV shows to games. There is also a row of LED reading lights under each personal TV screen, which can be tilted to expose the reading lights. The AVOD controller is stowed underneath the personal TV screen. One side of the controller controls the menu for KrisWorld allowing passengers to select their preferred entertainment. The call button and reading light switches are also located on this side of the controller. On the back side of the controller, one can find a keyboard, directional joystick as well as 4 buttons which is used for playing games on KrisWorld. SQ distributes earplugs which passengers are free to bring them back. The quality of the earplugs are rather bad, nonetheless it is good enough to be used onboard.

LED reading light under the PTV
10.6″ Personal TV, which is one of the largest in the industry
IFE controller is stowed under the PTV
Backside of the IFE controller
Earplugs

Meal

As with most other airlines that has a relatively short flight time, time is critical for the pursuers especially on a near full flight. The pursuers sprung into action as soon as the seat belt sign has been turned off. They went around preparing for food like clockwork, hoping to beat the time and get the food to all the passengers within the short flight time.

SIN-DPS

I guess the safest meat to serve in this region has got to be chicken and fish. The options for this flight we had was pan seared fish or curry chicken. I had the curry chicken. The chicken tasted tender and the spice in the curry wasn’t too overpowering. When eaten with the rice, the curry is very delicious. My only qualm is there is too little of the delicious curry for the bed of rice. My friend opted for the fish. I was told the fish tasted fresh and the seasoning on the fish is just perfect. Also on the menu was a salad for starter (nothing fantastic, the dressing was “normal”) and chocolate mousse for desert. I find the chocolate mousse to be a tad too sweet for my liking. The pursuer went around serving coffee and tea after all the passengers got their food. Pursuers also went around serving drinks.

Dinner is served
Curry chicken with brinjal
Fish with potato

DPS-SIN

The options for this leg of the flight is again restricted to chicken and fish. Both my friend and I opted for the chicken. The chicken was dressed in spicy rendang sauce served with rice over a bed of long beans, carrots and cauliflower. The rendang chicken is a little dry, but the level of the spicy is just nice, perfect for passengers who are not used to taking spicy food. Both starters and desert are the same as the previous flight.

I was given 2 buns and 2 desert by the friendly pursuers
Chicken Rendang for dinner

Service

SIN-DPS

The service onboard this flight feels very standard of SQ. The standard warm towels are being passed to passengers shortly after take off. Somehow the pursuer working at our aisle felt a little fake in her service. Her smile is rather plastic and she some how gave me the impression that she is not sincere in her service. I requested playing cards and a can of coke from her during the flight, but these requests were not being taken note. At first I thought she might be having a bad day, however I did witness her warmth when dealing with a Caucasian passenger. Not once, but 3 times I saw her going up to the Caucasian passenger initiating conversation and checked if he was comfortable during the flight and if he needed anything like a drink during the flight. I was taken aback by such discriminating service by her. Having said that, the pursuers serving the other aisle seem friendlier and warmer. I saw they going around asking passengers if they needed anything with a very warm and sincere smile.

The pursuer on the right was serving our aisle
These pursuers on the other aisle seem friendlier in their service
Going around doing their job

DPS-SIN

The service onboard this leg is much much better than my outbound flight. From the moment we stepped onboard the flight, the pursuers asked if we needed help with our carry ons, to the dinner service, when the pursuers asked if the food was alright and if we needed to top up our drinks. The pursuers tried their very best to accommodate to our request. We requested to change seat prior to taking off and were assisted by the pursuers in securing our new seats. The pursuers have warm personality and occasionally popping by to ask if we needed more drinks. They were seen joking with my friends and other passengers during their free time. We were also given extra deserts by the pursuers as my friend complemented that they liked the desert. The pursuers felt sincere in their service onboard SQ949.

Overall

SQ provided very comfortable flight on their seats even in Economy Class. The cabin decor felt warm and cosy and the amenities found in the lavatories are a notch above their competitors. The pillow found on the seat is large for Economy Class and the fleece blanket gives Economy Class passengers a feeling of premium. Passengers will be spoilt for choices in the entertainment system, especially on a large screen (larger than most other airlines of the same class). The food is great onboard and very delicious. However the service was mixed, giving me a feeling that luck plays a huge part in determining if we got good service, depending on who served our aisle.
Sunset onboard SQ

[Airline Review] – Thai Airways (TG409) BKK-SIN – Business Class (9 Jan 16)

Boeing 777-300 used for this BKK-SIN route

On The Ground

Check-in

Thai Airways has a dedicated check-in area for their premium passengers. Passengers flying in First Class or Business Class checks in at row A. Unlike a proper check-in lounge that some airlines operates at their country of origin, the premium check-in area is essentially a whole row of check-in counters with chairs for premium passengers to sit while the ground staff process their check-in. First Class passengers have a separate check-in area in this row. Checking-in is swift as I already done on-line check-in through the Thai Airways mobile app. What I like about the check-in at Suvarnabhumi Airport is the Fast Track immigration, which is located at the end of the check-in row. At the time of my checking-in, there were no queues and we made it through the immigration in under 5 mins. After the immigration area, access to the lounge is just down the escalator located behind the immigration counter.
Dedicated check-in row for Thai Airways premium passengers, located at row A through door 1 in Suvarnabhumi Airport
Signage for row 1 at the entrance of the airport terminal
Signage for row 1 inside the airport terminal
Row A for Thai Airways Premium passengers
Row A check-in area
There are seats for premium passengers at row A
There are hardly any queue at Row A
Relatively empty row
Row A counters
This way leads to fast track immigration clearance, where there are hardly any queue. Premium passengers are treated to swift custom clearance

Lounge

Suvarnabhumi Airport is the home to Thai Airways and there are a few lounges that passengers can gain access to. Passengers can visit any of the lounges and choose the lounge that is closest to their departure gate. The lounge that is linked to the immigration area at the premium check-in counter is the largest lounge at concourse D. Royal Silk Lounge at Concourse D is spread across a total floor area of 1400 sq , decked in earthy tones, the lounge has ample rest space for their premium passengers. The food offering at the lounge is limited to finger food and the standard beverages. Despite the large size, due to the decor of the lounge, it felt rather cosy. We did not stay at this lounge long as we headed for the Royal Orchard Spa for our massages, which is located right across the lounge at Concourse D.
Direct access to Royal Silk Lounge after fast track immigration clearance
Food area in Royal Silk Lounge
Hot beverages
Cosy Royal Silk Lounge
Buffet area serving finger food in Royal Silk Lounge
This lounge is the biggest of 4 lounges spread across air side in Suvarnabhumi. There are ample arm chairs in this lounge for passengers
Towards the entrance of the lounge

Business Class passengers are treated to a 30 mins foot massage or a head and shoulder massage at the Royal Orchard Spa. The spa lounge is decorated with mainly a wooden theme that gives its visitors a sense of zen when entering. Upon entering, the friendly ground staff asks for our boarding pass and arranged masseuses promptly, whom will take us to the treatment area and began the massages session. I opted for the foot massage, which the skillful masseuse did her magic on my weary legs. The skills of the masseuse is comparable or even better than some of the massage palours one can find in Bangkok. The massage totally took away the tiredness on my legs and my legs felt refresh after the 30 massage session. As we did not have time to shop around, we headed back to the lounge we had entered from immigration (it is the nearest to our gate) and enjoyed some finger food.

 

Entrance to Royal Orchid Spa
Spa Treatment for First Class passengers, who are treated to a 1-hour spa
Decor in the Royal Orchid Spa
Passengers can rest here while waiting for their flight after the massages
Massage treatment area
A very skillful and professional masseuse working her magic on my tired legs
Finger food for passengers back at the lounge in Concourse D
Finger food in Royal Silk Lounge
Cosy rest area in Royal Silk Lounge

The waiting area was rather crowded, signalling a full flight on this BKK-SIN leg. At the gate, Thai Airways ground staffs checked our boarding pass and invited us to wait at the waiting area. As with most airlines practice, Thai Airways boarded their premium passengers as well as passengers who needed assistance.

The bird that will fly us from BKK to SIN
Heading towards the waiting area for our flight
TG409 departs from Gate D7, which is quite a distance from the entrance of the lounge at Concourse D
Looks like a full flight today. Passengers are already waiting at the waiting area for our flight back to SIN
Aerobridge to the aircraft
View of the aircraft from the aerobridge
The Cabin

Entering the Business Class cabin, we were welcomed by the familiar Thai Airways purple coloured cabin. Thai Airways uses the Boeing 777-300 aircraft for this leg of the flight. The aircraft is fitted with 34 seats in Business Class and 330 seats in Economy Class.

Pursuers standing by to welcome passengers onboard
Royal Silk Class
Contents in the seat pocket and noise cancelling headphones which were placed on the seats when we boarded
Aircraft safety card

As with most of the Thai Airways aircraft, the 2 lavatories are located in front of the Business Class cabins, just before the cockpit door. The lavatories are a tad small for Business Class cabin, but fitted with the necessary hardware such as the toilet bowl and the sink. I particularly like the tap which is operated by sensor. There are also amenities such as handkerchief, tissue, eau-de-toiletry, hand moisturiser and hand wash in the lavatory. However unlike some airlines, there is no presence of mouth wash onboard the Thai Airways Business Class lavatory.

 

Sensor tap sink in the lavatory
Mirror in the lavatory
Toilet paper
Handkerchief
Small paper cup
Hand moisturiser and eau-de-toiletry in Business Class cabin

The Seat

Thai Airways uses the shell designed seats on its 777-300, arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. The seats in Business Class has a pitch of 70″ and measures 20″ wide. They are capable of reclining to almost flat, angled at 163 degrees. The legroom on its Business Class seats are superb, with sufficient space for the passenger seating away from the aisle to gain access to the aisle. Amenities such as pillows and blankets as well as the noise cancelling headphones are already made available on the seats when I boarded the aircraft. All Business Class seats comes with a massaging function for the lower back, deployable via the seat control panel on the armrest of the seat. The headphone jack is located under the armrest between 2 seats and a power socket is located across the headphone jack. In addition to the overhead reading light, there is also another reading light located on the top left corner (depending on which seat one takes) of the seat.
Business Class seats
Seat control on the armrest of the seat
Headphone jacks under the arm rest of the seat
Power socket with international plugs
Overhead compartment and bulkhead reading lights
Another reading light on the top of the seat
Business Class passengers gets 3 windows
Ample legroom in Business Class
Coat hanger on the backside of the seat in front of us
Seat pocket and cup holder
Extra compartment for storage of small items between the seats
Business Class seats in lounging mode
Business Class mode fully reclined

In-Flight Entertainment

Thai Airways has fantastic AVOD system onboard, with wide variety of choices from movies to radio stations to music to games. The aircraft is fitted with 15″ LCD TV on the back of the seat in front of us. The AVOD is well organised in menus for ease in selection of entertainment. I particularly like the new movie menu, which immediately channeled me to the movies that I wanted to watch, especially useful for this short 2-hour flight from BKK to SIN. The controller for the AVOD is hidden under the cover of the armrest of the seat. The AVOD controller is an older model with easy to use and functional buttons. However it is not as responsive as I would like it to be. The AVOD felt lag, perhaps due to the age of the controller system.

15″ LCD TV in Business Class
AVOD control stowed under the armrest of each seat
The AVOD controller is in a rather bad shape

Meal Service

As with most Business Class services, the pursuers approached us with welcome drinks and wet towels as soon as we were settled into our seats. We enquired about the “Violet Bliss” and was gladly given by the pursuers. We were told this drink is the Thai Airways signature drink and limited quality were brought onboard on every flight. The pursuers came around with menus to be returned a little later to take our orders for meal. At the same time, pursuers came around distributing quilts for passengers in Business Class. As soon as the seat belt signs were switched off, the pursuers sprung into action doing their rounds serving warm almond nuts and doing another drink round. We opted for the “Violet Bliss” once again. About 45 mins into the flight, dinner was served. As this is a short flight, all courses of the meal was served at one go. I opted for the sea bass meal, which was delicious. The perfectly seasoned sea bass was thick and tasted fresh. The starter, salmon with duck, was served together with the meal course. I did not like the salmon as it tasted a tad salty for my liking. Neither did I like the Mango Passion Fruit dessert as it tasted a tad too sour for my liking. After serving all the passengers meal, the pursuers came around serving coffee and tea. I opted for a cup of cappuccino, which the pursuers gladly served to me.
Meal and Drinks Menus were distributed once we settled into our seats
The drinks selection was rather limited compared with other airlines
Food menu
“Violet Bliss”, a must try onboard Thai Airways
Warm nuts and another round of “Violet Breeze” with Pierre carbonated water was served as soon as the seat belt sign was turned off
Starters, Main Course and Dessert was served all at one go due to the short flight time. I opted for the sea bass.

Service

The good service from Thai Airways was felt at the moment of checking-in at the airport. The friendly and warmth ground staff struck conversation voluntarily and checked how was my stay in Bangkok. She patiently and efficiently processed my check-in and tagged my luggage professionally.

I can’t say enough how I loved the service rendered by the professional staff at the Royal Orchid Spa. The staff was very professional and skillful and the massage rendered was as good if not better than those one can find in some of the massage palours in downtown Bangkok.

The service I received onboard TG409 was impeccable. The pursuers felt warmth and sincere and did not make me feel they are going through motion. The pursuers took note of my preference for “Violet Bliss” and even suggested how the drink can be best consumed. She suggested adding Pierre water to bring out the taste of the drink better. And she was right. A fresh glass of “Violet Bliss” always appear on my table whenever the pursuers saw my glass empty, without me having to ask. The pursuers truly portray the friendliness and warmth of the Thais that many came to know. They went around serving passengers with a smile and their attention to details is superb. Despite being busy for this short 2-hour flight, the pursuers did not show signs of frustration and rush. They went around doing their best to satisfy all passengers in the Business Class Cabin.

Friendly pursuers going around service warm nuts and drinks after the seat belt sign was turned off
Pursuers going around serving meals to hungry passengers
Pursuers going around serving drinks after meal was served
Attentive pursuer in action in the Business Class cabin

Overall

My experience with Thai Airways is more positive. Despite the ageing hardware on the 777-300 aircraft, as seen in the degrading AVOD controller, however the service I received more than make up for it. Despite being ageing, the seats are still comfortable, but the cabin can be a little stuffy as the air conditioning does not seem to be functioning well. Thai Airways has wonderful service, which made me felt welcome from check-in to onboard services. The ground staff as well as the pursuers onboard felt warm and sincere. They even took note of small details that makes flying with Thai Airways a pleasant experience.

 

Shot from my seat
View of the evening sky
Somewhere up in the sky between BKK and SIN