Author Topic: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant  (Read 5659 times)

Offline Marco Polo

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MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« on: April 07, 2014, 11:49:20 AM »
While there have been many trip reports for Thailand and Hong Kong (this will not even hold a candle to AJK/Mrs. AJK’s TR at all), I will try and give a different perspective, view and maybe some inspiration, as I did this all with a six month old.

Our flights were JFK-ICN-BKK-USM-CNX-BKK-HKG-ICN-JFK, beginning March 26th and returned  April 6th.I know some of you are saying this is a lot of flying in a really short time, especially with an infant, but luckily our kid is great on flights and made it easier for us.

When booking these flights I was still learning the ins and outs of booking awards (still am learning), so I may not have gotten the best redemptions, but I was able to fly on some nice products and cross them off my list.

Here go the fight fares, hotels and breakdowns;

JFK-ICN-BKK was flown in F and J respectively. I booked this before the United Devaluation at 70K per person.
(I confirmed an infant with United and got a record locator for the flight. Though a day before leaving I got a call from Asiana saying United had cancelled the ticket. I spoke to United who said everything was in order and directed me back to Asiana. Speaking to Asiana again, they said I can pay for the ticket in the airport and it would not be an issue.  This was probably the most expensive part of my redemption at ~$540 for the infant ticket.)

BKK–USM–CNX–BKK was all flown on Bangkok Airways booked on Orbitz at ~$1,000 total for all three travelers. (I did some searching for Award fares but had no luck. While the pricing wasn’t bad, next time I will probably try harder to redeem points.

BKK-HKG was flown in CX J at 31,500 BA miles redeems for the three of us.

HKG-ICN-JFK was flown in KE F on what I believe was a 747-400 on the first leg and the A380 for the second half. I redeemed 80K UR to KE Skypass for the adult tickets and 10% of that (8K) for the infant. This is a great deal as the availability on KE I found to be excellent and 10% of award ticket for an infant is great.

For the award flights, there were some nominal taxes/fees.

BKK – Booked Regent Suvarnabhumi Hotel - ~$30
USM – Booked through HH at 80K a night
CNX – Booked through SPG C&P at 2K and $35 a night
HKG – Booked through Hyatt with one night on points before the change and the others C&P at 12,500K and $150 a night and used my suite upgrade.




Here goes the review/report as I can tell it.

We got to JFK around 10:00 AM for our 1:00 PM flight. While this may be considered early for some, we were traveling with an infant and wanted to see the lounge for a little, so we gave ourselves plenty of time. 

Checking in was very smooth. Went to the First Class check-in line and was promptly greeted by one of the agents. I started to mention that I needed to pay for the infant ticket etc. but was surprised to hear they already knew about it and I was shown to the ticketing counter while the first agent processed and printed our tickets (this was to be our first taste of the great customer service we got from the foreign airlines and CSR agents). It took only a few minutes for the ticketing agent to price out and charge me for the infant ticket and I was back to my wife and kid in no time.  Here I was greeted with what all parents traveling with children will see when going to and in Asia. What seemed to be the whole check-in line was surrounding our stroller and taking pictures/making faces at my kid and trying to get his attention. One lady came over as the crowd moved on, to take pictures/selfies and even ask my wife to take a photo of her with the kid.

Anyways, I will keep moving on with our day. We got our tickets and went to security which was pretty empty for the time of day and went through with no issues (we did travel with a snap-n-go which was a bit of a pain to take apart at every security point, but we felt it was the best option for us). We then proceeded to the Swiss lounge which Asiana uses for its F and J customers. The lounge itself is nothing to spectacular. It consists of some leather armchairs and a small room with chaise lounges for those wanting to sleep a little more comfortably. They did have some snacks and a decent selection of drinks and alcohol. I did get a chance to take care of some work while in the lounge and we did let our kid crawl around a little; hopefully tire him out a little before our long flight.

Flying in F and J gives you “early boarding” and flying with and infant in F or J gets you in a tad bit earlier. When we got to the end of the jet bridge, we were greeted with bows and escorted to our seats/suites.  First Class 7/8 passengers in it, but did not really even notice anyone during the flight. Additionally, you never had to wait longer than a minute for a flight attendant and usually they were hovering pretty close anyways (was a little unnerving at times, but wasn’t too bad). The seats are very spacious and go well with the 32 inch (I think) screens at every seat. In bed mode, the seats were perfect to have the kid sleep on one end and still leave you with plenty of room.  The FA’s did put a bassinet in an empty suite next to us, but we did not end up using it. The service on the flights is not something I should ever try to get used to as I don’t think it can be replicated for me on a daily basis without hiring multiple full time helpers. Anything you asked for was gotten and if unavailable, a replacement was offered. I saw an article written by a blogger about using the FA call button and “proper protocol” for using it. He mentioned that especially in F on a foreign airline, it is OK to use and probably even better than going to the galley and asking for it there. These FA’s want to serve you and not have you lift a finger while flying (including but not limited to stowing your luggage, taking your coat buckling your seat-belt, taking and hanging your clothes when changing into your PJ’s and holding your child for you). After three and a half movies, some sleep and some really long drawn out meal services, we were in ICN.

 ICN and many of the airports in Asia are very nice with lots of upscale stores (Ferragamo, Burberry, Hermes, Cartier, Omega etc.) and can be nice to walk around in. We instead went to the OZ F lounge before our next flight to BKK. The OZ F lounge was very big, had nice seating and Haagen Dazs. I will not say how many bars/cups I had, but I didn’t need a meal afterwards. After a short 30-40 minutes in the lounge, we were off to the gate for our next flight. This next flight was in J and a bit of a “shock” after being in an F suite for 13 hours. By this time, the kid was a little restless and gave us our “worst flight” of the trip. By “worst flight”, it was about an hour total of crankiness and just general restlessness.

We landed in BKK around 10/10:30PM (Thursday night) and went towards the immigration line where we found a special line for elderly people, families and a few others (this “special treatment” was something we experienced all over and only can dream of the US being this kind). No visas were needed and we were through to the baggage claims a few minutes later. Our bags being marked as priority were amongst the first ones off and we were off to get me a SIM card. We found a phone kiosk in the arrivals hall offering a SIM for 299 Baht (about $10) which included 100 minutes and unlimited internet for 7 days. We then proceeded to meet our hotel representative for our shuttle to the hotel. I booked a room through Kayak for ~$30 (one of the more expensive options) as we were taking a flight out the next morning and only really needed a room. I chose this hotel because of the free shuttle service and some good reviews online. The hotel was 10 minutes from the airport and consisted of a nice size room and a bit of a weird shower room/opening. Not the nicest bathroom by any means, but for a quick shower it worked just fine. We had brought along some deli and bread planning to eat it on the plane, but never got around to it. This worked out well as we were starving by this point and would not get food until the next afternoon.

Friday morning we went to the airport for our flight to Koh Samui. This was to be flown on PG in economy and we were not sure what to expect. Once again do to having a child, we had a special check in counter and was able to get our boarding passes right away. After security we went to the PG lounge which is open to all pax flying with them and sat there before our flight. We boarded and were sat in the bulkhead due to having an infant (this was great because we got extra leg room and did not have any seatmates.) The flight was around two hours and we got our kosher meals right after take-off, and we landed in beautiful Koh Samui a bit after we were done with the food.

I had arranged for a driver I found through FT and was able to message with through Whatsapp, to pick us up and bring us back Sunday morning for $65. We found a nice newish spacious car waiting for us and the AC blasting (which was really nice as it was extremely humid). I had pre-ordered meals from the Chabad wand had the driver stop along the way so I could pick up the food. It is a 45 minute ride from the airport to the Conrad Koh Samui through a lot of no name streets (from what I could tell) and windy roads. I was really happy I did not rent a car, though I’m sure Google Maps could have helped with the navigation. The entrance to the CKS was after an almost vertical drive up a one way windy road and worth the wait and terror of that hill. Check-in takes place while you are seated and overlook the Gulf of Thailand and the hotels rooms/villas. This property is only really accessed by a buggy/golf cart and walking is almost all uphill or downhill.  Although each villa has its own private infinity pool, there is very nice pubic infinity pool with lounge chairs and cabanas for all to use. Additionally, the resort offers snorkeling gear and kayaks for its guests to use.

Sunday morning we took our next flight to Chaing Mai which was about the same as the first one, though with only around 15 people on the whole plane. We also got kosher meals which surprisingly consisted of two apples, an orange and a cup of water.

We got our bags and went to the taxi stand to go to our hotel. Although we did not win the taxi lottery like AJK, our Driver Uthai was very friendly and spoke decent English. He offered his services as a driver for the day at 800 Baht and gave us his information after dropping us off. After checking in, we took a tuk tuk to the tailor so I can make my selections and have time for another fitting before leaving. This tailor was very knowledgeable and I even bumped into another DDF’er here at his fitting. After we went to Chabad for some food and then went to the Sunday Night Market. Not sure if it has been mentioned before, but the Chabad only accepts cash, so come prepared.

The next morning I called Uthai and had him pick us up from the hotel. It is about a 40 minute drive to our first stop the Mae Taeng elephant camp. This is not the same one most people from DDF have gone to and is about 10 minutes past where the Mae Sa camp is. Our driver recommended this place and was very happy he did. There were no lines for the elephant rides and also seems the elephant paintings are about 50% less than the Mae Sa ones. We had our kid in one of those carrier things and had no issue getting onto the elephant and riding with him in there (or so my wife says).

After the elephants we went to Tiger Kingdom to get some pictures with the tigers. This is where my wife sat out on the activity with the kid. She was not feeling too optimistic after hearing from our driver of someone who got mauled the day before (though it did sound like the guy plucked a whisker off the tiger so he may have deserved it).  I know many DDF’ers have said to hire a cameraman while in the cages, I will disagree. I did hire one for the cage that was not next to the viewing area where my wife was waiting with her camera. Though the trainers were very happy to take pictures for you while inside on my phone and they came out just fine. So I guess you can decide if you need “fancy” pictures, or camera phone is fine. After the tigers, we went down the road to the elephant poo poo paper place. At this place, they show you how they make paper from elephant poo. Was pretty interesting and after you can buy some of the products they make (we got some note pads as gifts). We then continued on to the monkey show which was interesting and only about 10 minutes long. The monkey did some pretty cool tricks like solving basic math questions using blocks with numbers on it and did some basketball tricks as well. By the end of the show, we were ready to get back and get some food at the Chabad. After dinner we walked to the night market and did some souvenir shopping and went back to the hotel. The next morning we called our driver again for some more local sites, jade and silk factory and the Mae Ping river cruise. The river cruise was a two hour trip to a farmhouse and back. Unless you need to waste time and money, do not do this. After this we went to the Green Bamboo (thanks AJK) for massages (which I hate and went to oblige the wife and hold the kid). After was a quick trip to the tailor for a fitting, some dinner and hotel.

Wednesday morning we again had our driver pick us up for a trip to the airport and our flight to BKK and HKG. We did have some time to kill but was not able to make it out of the airport with the kid. Had we been without the kid, we probably would have gone out, but did not want to risk missing our flight. The CX J seat was pretty big and the FA’s were great here as well. We had kosher meals here as well and got into Hong Kong around 10PM. Here we had to wait an hour to get our luggage and stroller which was not fun, but considering this was the worst we had on our trip, it was fine. After getting our bags, we went to get a new SIM for Hong Kong and paid about $10 USD for a card which gave me internet and I have no idea what else. In the airport we were able to take the train to Hong Kong station about 24 minutes and then a short cab ride to the hotel. Hotel check-in was quick and we were in our room and asleep about 15 minutes later.

The next morning we picked through the diamond breakfast and then went to catch a ferry to Kowloon. The ferry was $5 HKD for two tickets and the infant was free. We purchased Big Bus tickets when we got off the ferry with plans to hop on hop off the next two days we were there. This was all nice in theory. We spent the first hour walking up and down the same block looking and waiting for a bus in pouring rain. For some reason they do not have any marked spots or signs and the map did not help. After finally running after a bus, we mentioned to the driver our issue, who responded “everyone has these issues.” This did not make us happy, but was not going to let it ruin our trip. We went to the ladies market and walked around for an hour and found another bus to take us towards some food. WE got off at the Mody Road stop and walked 5 minutes to the Mul Hayim restaurant. After lunch we took the ferry back to Hong Kong Island and went to the club lounge to unwind. For dinner we went to the JCC dairy restaurant and got some pizza and pasta. After a week of not having dairy, it was a nice treat to get some pizza.

 Friday we took the Big Bus to the Peak and on to Stanly and Aberdeen. Part of the Big Bus ticket package, we got to the Peak and a Sampan ride in Arberdeen. The Sampan ride was about 30 minutes and nothing to write home about. By the time this was all done, we headed over to the JCC for lunch and to pick up food for Shabbat.

Saturday night we checked out officially (had to leave room at 4PM and hung out in the hotel for a few hours) and took a cab to Hong Kong station. We were able to check our luggage and then caught the next train to the airport. We went to the KE lounge and had some Pepperidge Farm cookies and drinks while the kid slept. Boarding as 12:05AM and we were first in line so we could get our seats and get to sleep. The KE Kosmo suite is not fully enclosed like the OZ suite, but there was only one other passenger on both our flights, so privacy was not an issue. In ICN we had some time to kill and again like BKK, having the kid did not allow us to go out on the free tours they offer, we did go to the KE F lounge to shower and rest up.  After our short rest, we got ready to board our final flight home. We did make sure to savor our time and got to hang out by the upper deck lounge on the way home for some cocktails and throw around ideas for our next trip…

Overall, we flew 8 legs, 3 “new” countries and over 19,000 miles.

Will hopefully post a bunch f pictures later on.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 12:07:20 PM by Marco Polo »
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline Mordy2

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2014, 11:58:21 AM »
WOW!! Awesome trip report! It's amazing that you were able to do all of this with a 6 month old!

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2014, 12:00:52 PM »
WOW!! Awesome trip report! It's amazing that you were able to do all of this with a 6 month old!
Thanks. To me it feels like we missed out on quick jaunts into Bangkok and especially South Korea. I guess next time.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline yoruel

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2014, 12:09:59 PM »
Great TR.

Online Joe4007

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2014, 12:26:57 PM »
Awesome report! Thanks for sharing!

Offline Penguin711

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2014, 12:30:16 PM »
Really awesome report - thanks!

Offline AJK

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2014, 01:29:14 PM »
Great TR.

Couple of questions:

How did your wife like Green Bamboo? I know of one other DDF'er who didn't like it as much as we did.
How would you compare OZ F to KE F in terms of soft product? I imagine you like the hard product better on OZ F?
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2014, 02:53:15 PM »
Great TR.

Couple of questions:

How did your wife like Green Bamboo? I know of one other DDF'er who didn't like it as much as we did.
How would you compare OZ F to KE F in terms of soft product? I imagine you like the hard product better on OZ F?
Green Bamboo for the wife was really nice for the second half of the massage as i was not doing a great job of occupying my kids attention.

Both OZ and KE had very attentive staff with KE a little more hands on. Though that could be due to only one other pax flying with us. During the flight my wife went up to the lounge and a FA came by to ask if i wanted to go up and/or if she can take the kid up to my wife.

The OZ hard product was much more private and i liked how they have stars on the ceiling when the lights go off. KE though makes some kind of "sunrise/sunset" when putting the lights on and off, but doesn't last too long. I didn't care much for how OZ was set up in terms of the washroom and galley proximity. Seems like you were peaking in on them whenever you would go by. KE had a galley in between F and Y so you never passed by them.
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Offline jaywhy

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2014, 03:55:00 PM »
Great TR. It's good to be reminded sometimes that these kids of trips are still possible with babies/toddlers  ;)

Offline Moishebatchy

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2014, 05:51:53 PM »
How did your wife like Green Bamboo? I know of one other DDF'er who didn't like it as much as we did.



Guilty.  :-[

Offline yoruel

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2014, 07:18:30 PM »
Great TR. It's good to be reminded sometimes that these kids of trips are still possible with babies/toddlers  ;)
Don't think I can convince wife to go with a kid.

Offline Moishebatchy

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2014, 03:22:54 AM »
This tailor was very knowledgeable and I even bumped into another DDF’er here at his fitting.



Guilty.  :-[

;D

Offline rots5

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 08:49:44 AM »
Don't think I can convince wife to go with a kid.
There are always built in babysitters for the right amount of miles.

AMAZING TR!!! any pics?
If you have any questions please search and then ask. PM me for detailed help.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: MP's Thailand and Hong Kong with an Infant
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2014, 08:50:22 AM »
There are always built in babysitters for the right amount of miles.

AMAZING TR!!! any pics?
Hopefully can get a bunch loaded later tonight.
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Offline rots5

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If you have any questions please search and then ask. PM me for detailed help.