Author Topic: Asia Kids Trip with Shabbos Minyanim, Excellent Food & Private Family Swimming!  (Read 10575 times)

Offline Denverite

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1st Segment- Trip Planning:

This trip all started after I did a trip to the Maldives (My TR is here: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=66086.0) in 2016, which was the first high-end, all on points, not just eating tuna and crackers and cheese, trip that I planned after seeing all the cool stuff other people were doing and realizing I could do it too!  So after I got back from that trip, I was trying to figure out, where I wanted to go next and somewhere that would be fun for my whole family, kids included.  We see a lot of cool trips, on DDF, to amazing places for couples or with babies and toddlers but I wanted to write this up for other families to see what I planned for a far off trip with older kids.  I didn't bring a single pot on this trip, although I did bring snacks and milk and except for our first stop we did have a microwave (which is really important for me).

Once you throw older kids in the mix, it made everything SO much more complicated for me, with the extra points and seat availability, dealing with food for 5 people (and picky eaters) and also as my children have gotten older it's very important to me to help them have great adventures while also trying my best not to put them unnecessarily in inappropriate settings and environments.  Add to these issues, that I have very little desire to go to Europe, wanted somewhere warm over winter break, we had just had an amazing family trip to Panama (TR for that one is here: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=75186.0) so I wanted somewhere not in Central/South America, oh and on top of those things my husband said I could knock myself out planning whatever crazy vacation I wanted as long as a he got one hot, fresh, meat meal per day (that took out Hawaii, unless I wanted to kill myself cooking)! SOOO, where to go?!?! ;D

I decided Asia.  Here is the itinerary I booked and I hope you enjoy this trip report!

Most airlines open a max of two or four J seats so I looked toward Cathay Pacific from the beginning because they often open five seats.  Since they also have the best deal in J when booked with Alaska miles (50k OW pp), that is what I worked toward amassing points and then booking.  We wanted to have our Shabbats with a minyan and heard both Hong Kong and Singapore were great.  We could also eat both meals in the synagogues there so that also led us to those cities for both weekends (Thailand sounds like they also have amazing Shabbat experiences so I'm not trying to discount them, I just thought our family would enjoy these cities more). 

This is what we ended up with (ideally the trip would have included more Thailand time but because of time restraints we couldn't add more onto this trip):
Denver-Hong Kong (stayed three nights)- Koh Samui, Thailand (stayed 4 nights), Singapore (stayed 3 nights)- Denver

Den-SFO (had to purchase)
SFO-HKG CX J  50k AS plus $61.10 so 250k for 5 people and $305.50
     Used Hotels.com nights for 3 nights at the Royal Garden and it was a perfect location to Kehillat Zion in Kowloon

HKG-BKK CX included in the above mileage ticket but I ended up cancelling once I booked the direct flight from Hong Kong to Koh Samui

HKG-USM   Bankok Airways Y, Only 10k pp and 50k total AF miles
     Used HHonors for 4 night at the Conrad Residences Koh Samui

USM-SIN Silk Air Only 10,625  miles pp so 53,125 total SQ miles  (booked before award chart change so got the 15% discount but paid a little YQ)
      Used HHonors for two nights at the Hilton Garden Inn near the shul for only 10k HHonors a night (one of my best ever redemptions) and the last night was paid (yes, it was horrible to pay but fun to stay) :P at the Marina Bay sands

SIN-HKG-LAX on CX J  Again only 50k AS

LAX-DEN originally booked on American for 7500 Avios and and 5.60 fees pp for a total of 37.5k and 28.00 but then I cancelled them when those same tickets went on sale for $44 per person.

All together, I spent:
500k AS I was able to take advantage of that short-term deal where I transferred to Virgin with the SPG bonus and then got another bonus when exchanging to AS so those tickets really cost me about 300k SPG or 60k SPG pp RT (yes, I know that's not going to happen again)!!  That's more than an $.11pp redemption of SPG points for those CX flights.

50k AF
53,125k SQ

Even with all this planning, no large YQ, etc.  the total taxes, fees, and tickets from Denver to California was still about $400pp and $2000 for the family.  I'm not complaining, just trying to give the true costs, when I put every together.

I'm going to work on uploading my pictures and get started with the next installment soon!
« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 08:32:52 PM by Denverite »

Offline mmgfarb

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Wow, great redemptions! That's pretty difficult to do for five people. Looking forward to the rest of the TR, yours never disappoint
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Offline EJB

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Looking forward to your TR, especially your stay at the sands!

Offline tzifanya54

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All 7 of you in one room?

Offline sam28

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wow cant wait for more

Offline myi

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 Thanks for the tr was very enjoyable to read and see how you used your rewards.
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Offline Denverite

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Wow, great redemptions! That's pretty difficult to do for five people. Looking forward to the rest of the TR, yours never disappoint

wow cant wait for more

Thanks for the tr was very enjoyable to read and see how you used your rewards.



Thanks guys!  I uploaded my pics today so hopefully I can work on the next segment soon.  As far as the points, I actually wanted to add to my intro above that I debated long and hard whether I even wanted to expose my kids to Business class but I really didn't want to fly that far in economy, I couldn't figure out how to divide us up and I didn't feel comfortable to leave all the kids back by themselves.  I did make sure to CLEARLY tell them NOT to expect this on every trip and in fact we are already planning to go to Israel and that they were booked in Economy!  ;D




Looking forward to your TR, especially your stay at the sands!

Thanks, it had been on my bucket list for a long time!

All 7 of you in one room?


It's actually only 5 of us (3 kids) and I did only pay for one room at Marina Bay sands.  They are super strict about only allowing 4 people per room (and give you a card for each person to enter the pool and viewing area) plus I refuse to be squashed in one room with my family (others are makpid about flying only in F and J and this is one of my things I need for an enjoyable vacation) so I think I came up with a creative solution that y'all DDFers will like and will explain in that section of the TR!  :P

Offline DTM

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Great stuff, thanks, and looking forward to more!

Offline tzifanya54

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It's actually only 5 of us (3 kids) and I did only pay for one room at Marina Bay sands.  They are super strict about only allowing 4 people per room (and give you a card for each person to enter the pool and viewing area) plus I refuse to be squashed in one room with my family (others are makpid about flying only in F and J and this is one of my things I need for an enjoyable vacation) so I think I came up with a creative solution that y'all DDFers will like and will explain in that section of the TR!  :P

Left your husband home? :P

Offline DTM

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It's actually only 5 of us (3 kids) and I did only pay for one room at Marina Bay sands.  They are super strict about only allowing 4 people per room (and give you a card for each person to enter the pool and viewing area) plus I refuse to be squashed in one room with my family (others are makpid about flying only in F and J and this is one of my things I need for an enjoyable vacation) so I think I came up with a creative solution that y'all DDFers will like and will explain in that section of the TR!  :P

I'm sure I am not the only one waiting in suspense to learn about that creative solution in the next episode.... 

Offline mochjas

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dont you get the 5th night free with HH points? Why did you only stay 4 nights?

Offline DTM

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dont you get the 5th night free with HH points? Why did you only stay 4 nights?
Maybe she got the extra room in exchange for the 5th night...

Online sruliL

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Great TR so far...waiting for the next installment  :D
Life's not about doing things good, its about doing good things.

Offline saw50st8

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We definitely need more information. I travel with 4 kids and we usually end up sticking to places like Residence Inns because it's easier to have all of us in one suite.

Offline Denverite

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It's actually only 5 of us (3 kids) and I did only pay for one room at Marina Bay sands.  They are super strict about only allowing 4 people per room (and give you a card for each person to enter the pool and viewing area) plus I refuse to be squashed in one room with my family (others are makpid about flying only in F and J and this is one of my things I need for an enjoyable vacation) so I think I came up with a creative solution that y'all DDFers will like and will explain in that section of the TR!  :P

Left your husband home? :P

Youíre pretty darn close but not quite! :P

Offline Denverite

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I'm sure I am not the only one waiting in suspense to learn about that creative solution in the next episode....

Sorry guys I was drowning in work after my trip but am gonna try to do a nice next installment tomorrow! :)

Offline Denverite

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dont you get the 5th night free with HH points? Why did you only stay 4 nights?

You only get a free 5th night on a standard redemption and I went back and forth about how to book it and finally decided to just pony up and pay the boatload of points for a Residence for 4 nights rather than two standard rooms. If we go back, I think I have an even better way to redeem for a family that Iíll lay out for you all too. :)

Offline Denverite

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Weekend in Hong Kong

There are tons of great TRs to Hong Kong so I'm going to keep this relatively short and try to put in things that I think are new, helpful or different.  We landed about 7AM on Friday morning.  We went straight to our hotel, the Royal Garden, which is about half a block to Kehillat Zion synagogue and I would HIGHLY recommend it.  It is MUCH closer than the Sheraton, Intercontinental or other hotels.  I'd say any toddler that could walk, could make the walk over to shul on Shabbos.  The stairways are open and we didn't have any problem accessing them to walk down.  I booked here because I didn't want to blow my SPG points on the Sheraton, for a pretty cruddy redemption and this hotel was the same price as the Sheraton (but WAY closer) and half the paid rate of the Shangri-la.  It was about $250 a night (which I used free hotels.com nights that I had) and they offered me to upgrade to a family suite for about $40 a night and that was the best move ever, so I thought I'd let people know that is an option and if you book here, you can ask for that at check-in.

This is a picture taken from our room that shows how close it is to the KZ shul.  The flags are at the Shangri-La hotel and just one door past that is the shul.




Our room wasn't ready when we arrived and so we dropped our bags and immediately headed over to check out exactly where KZ was (they had finished Shacharit already) and then left to take the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island.  Everyone said it was "so close" and easy to find and maybe it was because I was with a cranky, tired Kindergartner but it took us a while and it was kind of complicated to figure out how to cross the huge street and find the dock (although passing the IC and Sheraton along the way after already walking 10 minutes definitely made us appreciate what a great location our hotel was, very close to the shul).

Walking over the overpass to get to the dockside (it was hard to figure out how to enter and go where we wanted).  The pollution was also horrific while we were there and this picture actually is relatively "clear" where we could see HKI in the distance.  Some locals told us the winds this time of year blow tons of pollution from the factories in China.



We took the ferry over and then waited a long time for the public bus to the tram depot and then again in a surprisingly long line (for early Friday morning) for Victoria's Peak Tram.  Honestly, if the weather isn't pretty, I wouldn't recommend going on it, as it was a huge hassle and very expensive.  This is a pic I took from the tram.  I didn't take any from the peak because it literally looked like we were in the middle of a cloud.  We were at least smart enough to see how bad the lines were and only purchased a one way from the depot.



After we got to the top, we literally hung out for like 5 minutes (because we couldn't see anything) and then hopped in a cab to leave.  :-\  We went to the dairy restaurant in the JCC and it was really nice.  It's a great little space, with nice decor.  We got great food, with pizza, pastas, soup and caesar salad.  If you are staying on HKI they will also deliver to you via an app.



We then headed back home (again with a cab because no koach to deal with anything else).  We all crashed for naps and then got ready for an awesome Shabbos at KZ shul...more detailed and interesting posts to come soon!
« Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 07:41:50 PM by Denverite »

Offline voldemort

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Great read so far! 

Btw the IC Grand Stanford is only a few minutes walk from KZ,the IC Hong Kong is probably the one you passed after 10 minutes. But yeah, the Royal Garden is still closer.

Offline DTM

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Thanks! Nice first day, Kudos upon hitting the ground running upon arrival. Pollution is a big problem in parts of China, and varies from time to time. We had it bad one morning in Beijing and the weather reports called it sand storms, which is official double-speak to cover up its true nature. No EPA there. Anyway, that JCC is a great resource for Kosher travelers. Did you stay long enough to make it to the Sunday night Buffet? I guess we will find out in the next installment....