May 30, 2016

Cruise Ship Review: Oslo to Copenhagen With DFDS Pearl Seaways


I took the ferry crossing from Oslo to Copenhagen. The ferry is operated by DFDS Seaways. DFDS calls this trip as mini cruise, but let me tell you that it's nothing like a ferry or mini cruise, it's practically a real giant cruise ship. Her name is Pearl. I didn't expect that until I saw it from the cruise terminal before I boarded.
It's Not A Ferry Nor A Mini Cruise. It's A Real Cruise Ship!
In this review, I'll focus on the Price, Boarding ProcessRoom & Bed, Amenities On Board, and last by not least the Shuttle Bus from the DFDS Terminal in Copenhagen to the City.

Price:

I booked a single bed room for a total of around $84 USD that includes the tax and one way shuttle bus from Copenhagen DFDS terminal to the city when I get to Copenhagen. I think this is a fantastic deal to be able to experience the cruise ship, get to Copenhagen from Oslo vs. the typical train ride, and save one night at hotel. You can check out the price on their website, but do note that I wrote an article on how to save a few dollars booking with DFDS that you may want to check out here.

Don't worry about pre-booking meals, you will find restaurants on board along with a casual coffee bar that has sandwiches, pasta salad, and Danish party. Major credit cards and cash are accepted on board. However, watch out for credit card fees if you use Mastercard ones.

My Pre-Departure Meal: Danish Pastry And Heineken

Boarding Process:

For me, the boarding process at DFDS Seaways Oslo was a little bit confusing. That's why I decide to note this down as part of my review for those that will be traveling from Oslo to Copenhagen with DFDS Seaways. 
  • Locate the DFDS ferry terminal. It's located at the following address: Akershusstranda 31, 0150 Oslo, Norway
  • After entering the building, you should see many blue kiosks where you do the self check-in process to get your boarding pass if you are not traveling as a group. 
  • To your left, you may see people queue up to do the boarding, but don't be fooled because I did and was told it wasn't my boarding time yet. The agent said my room wasn't ready. Look at your confirmation email and it should list on there what time you should be checking in. They really mean it!
Self Check-In Kiosks  To Get Boarding Pass
Don't Be Fooled! This Is Not Your Boarding Queue!

Room & Bed:

As I was traveling solo, and DFDS Seaway has various types of rooms, I specifically picked the 1 bed with seaview room. The Boarding Pass is the key to the room. The moment I walked into my room, I was very happy to see the seaview window is bigger than the picture shows on the website. It provides a good ocean view and the single bed is comfortable. The room is a little bit small but it's practical. It comes with a desk, chair, and a private bathroom. It also has temperature control. It's just like a real hotel's room. I was very pleased with my room.

Single Seaview Room
Sunset View Taken From My Seaview Window
Decent Size Practical Bathroom
You Can View My Video Of The Room Below: 

Amenities On Board:

Because this is a real cruise ship, there are several decks on board. My deck is number 5. Deck 6 has a pool, spa and massage for family and relaxation, but it's not free. The wifi zone and hang out area is located on Deck 7. That deck also has a coffee bar, an arcade room, a shopping center and a casino. The casino though has an entrance fee but comes with 1 free drink. In addition, the guest service is also located on that deck and you can also book any Copenhang tour there as well. If you did not buy the ticket for the Copenhagen shuttle bus, you can purchase it there as well. The buffet restaurant is also located on Deck 7. There are restaurants and bars located on Deck 8, and a sky bar on Deck 11 where you can enjoy the outside open space seating. It's also a great deck to enjoy the sunset. Deck 10 has a pool and two hot tubs.

Pool And Hot Tubs On Deck 10 
Wifi Zone And Hang Out Area On Deck 7
Shopping Center On Deck 7
Skybar On Deck 11. Great Deck To Watch Sunset!
Sunset View Taken From Deck 11

Shuttle Bus From DFDS Terminal In Copenhagen To The City

I think this is worth a review section because I did not have a positive experience with this. Part of it was my fault as well that I didn't read carefully about the shuttle bus and where it drops passengers at.  It does NOT go to Copenhagen Central Station; it goes to the Norreport Station, which is the second biggest station in Copenhagen. It is located in the Central area, but about 15 minutes walk to the Central Station. So plan accordingly if you hotels are around the Central Station!

Another thing that is confusing as well is how to get on the shuttle bus. After exiting the DFDS terminal, although there are signs that guide you to the shuttle bus, but you will be greeted with several of tour buses, and none is clearly marked as DFDS Seaways Shuttle Bus. It only says that on the windshield if you look close enough. Human intuition, just ask someone! From my experience, those buses line up by the curbside. You should be able to spot them right after you exit the terminal building. Show the driver the shuttle bus ticket that you purchased before boarding. Please note that you cannot purchase the ticket from the driver. It costs 1 Euro and you can either purchase the ticket when you make reservation for the DFDS Seaways or purchase the ticket on Deck 7 after you board the ship.

The Shuttle Bus Drop Off

Conclusion:

For the price that I paid and got to enjoy all the amenities on board this flagship, it's totally worth it! I'm not crazily impressed by those amenities per say, but it's still much better than just a regular ferry. The 17 hours cruise ride was pleasant and I'd love to do it again to experience this with someone else. I love my little seaview room. It's the best way to get from Oslo to Copenhagen. It's not all about the destination, but the journey.

Check out more articles on Oslo Norway

Pearl Cruise Ship Layout

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May 29, 2016

Oslo Itinerary: Bus And Ferry To Bygdoy Museums And Peninsula

Visit the Famous Oslo Viking Ship Museum On Bygdoy Island

Introduction

A visit to the Bygdoy Peninsula and check out the museums there is a must do while in Oslo Norway. Planning ahead will make your trip to the island enjoyable and know what to expect when you get there. A lot of visitors intuitively catch the ferry boat in front of the Oslo City Hall and sail to Bygdoy. For me, I prefer my own way of doing this by catching the bus #30 to Bygdoy from the city central, and then ferry back from there to the City Hall. The reason behind that is because if you go to Bygdoy by the boat, from the Fram Museum you will need to walk up hill to the Viking Ship Museum about 15 minutes walk. You can ride the bus on Bygdoy, but why wasting time on waiting for the bus while you can enjoy a nice walking on the island by doing what I am suggesting here. You will get to enjoy both the bus and ferry rides to and from Bygdoy.

Oslo Pass

First of all, if you are not familiar with the Oslo Pass, you should get yourself familiar with it. It'll save you several money if you plan on visiting a lot of museums and attractions in Oslo. Each museum entrance fee can really add up, whereas the Oslo Pass will give you access to several museums for free after the pass is purchased. It also includes free access to the public transportation based upon the duration of your pass. Oslo Pass comes in 24, 48, and 72 hours. The regular Oslo travel card pass that's for public transportation only does not cover the Bygdoy ferry. So if you want to experience the boat ride from Bygdoy to central, and you plan on visiting a few museums in Oslo, getting the Oslo Pass is highly recommended. For more information about the Oslo Pass and Prices.

Free Bygdoy Museums Ferry Boat Ride With Olso Pass

Bygdoy Planning

The Olso Pass includes free public transportation during the validity of the pass whether it's 24, 48, or 72 hours. Here's my suggested itinerary to and from Bygdoy:
  • I assume you stay around the Oslo central. From there, locate the bus stop for bus #30 that will go all the way to Bygdoy. If you are GPS junkie like me, use Google Map app to locate the nearest bus stop. 
  • Stay on board until you reach the Folk Museum. Oslo buses are very nice and they have notification screen that tells you which bus stop it is arriving/stopping. 
  • Go in to the museum and go to the ticket counter so that you can hand over your Oslo Pass to scan and exchange for an entrance ticket to the museum. 
  • After the Folk museum, you can walk to the famous Viking Ship Museum. It's one way straight, and don't worry, there are signs there. 
  • Later on, you continue walking around 15 minutes or so towards the Fram Museum's direction. You will notice that you are walking down the hill. This is what I mentioned above that you don't want to walk from Fram to Viking Ship Museum because you will be going up the hill. You can also check out other places or centers while on the way to Fram. It's completely up to you and that's definitely one of the benefits of walking. 
  • The Kon Tiki, Maritime, and Fram Museums are in one area. You will also be by the waterfront with incredible view of the Bygdoy Peninsula. The ferry boat's pier is right behind the Fram Museum. There'll be ferry schedule sign post there.
  • The yellow ferry boat will arrive and you simply hop on board. They will scan your Oslo Pass after the journey has started. Oslo Pass gives you free ride on that ferry. Enjoy the view from the ferry back to Oslo central in front of the City Hall. I personally really enjoyed the view of the Akershus Castle and Fortress from the ferry boat. 
  • From there you can either visit the Nobel Peace Center or the Akershus Castle, which the entrance fees are included in the Oslo Pass. OR catch public transportation to see other attractions that are included in the Oslo Pass such as the Vigeland Park & Museum, The Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower... They are all worth a visit! 
Fram Ship Museum

Unique Architecture of Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower
Most Photographed Statue In Vigeland Park

In Summary

  • Oslo Pass will save you money allowing you to visit majority of Oslo museums and attractions, as well as free public transportation that also includes the Bygdoy ferry boat. 
  • Catching bus #30 from Oslo Central to Bygdoy, so that you will be walking down hill to the Fram Museum from the Viking Ship Museum, and then catch the ferry boat back from there to the Oslo City Hall. 
  • You get to enjoy and experience both the bus and ferry rides to and from Bygdoy in Olso. 
Check out more articles on Oslo Norway


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May 9, 2016

Steps To Put Singapore Airlines Award Ticket On Hold


I researched many websites and they all appear to state that, holding Singapore Airlines Award Ticket is NOT allowed. However, my recent experience says otherwise.

What Does Holding Award Ticket Mean?

Holding Award Ticket means that you are placing a flight reservation using miles on hold while you are either trying to finalize your traveling dates or trying to accrue enough miles to book the flight ticket that you want. The gist of is it: hold now and deal with it later for free of charge! Singapore Airlines let me hold my award ticket for 5 days, and the last day goes with the originated flight location's timezone.

Flight availabilities change from time to time and it's really unpredictable. It is the same for the award tickets redemption, especially for the famous premium cabin such as the Singapore Airlines First Class Suite. Once the availability is found, you really want to jump on it right away as it could go away quickly. That's why putting the award ticket on hold can be really useful.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles are great for International long haul flights, specially their famous First Class Suite that two seats can turn into one double bed. Thankfully, Singapore Airlines make it so possible that you can transfer points earned from certain Chase, American Express, and Citi's credit cards to KrisFlyer miles at 1:1 ratio. That's what happened to me that I wanted to redeem miles for the First Class Suite from LAX - Singapore - Hanoi, but I did not have enough miles. So I had to request the award reservation to put on hold, while I went to transfer credit card points to KrisFlyer miles.

How To Put Singapore Airlines Award Ticket On Hold?

To put Singapore Airlines Award Ticket on hold successfully completely depends on what type of booking agent you are talking to. I had my yes-go and no-go experiences on two different occasions. One agent was able to hold the award ticket for me, but I did not like that itinerary. So I called again and thought that I could hold the new award ticket. Well, I provided that second agent all the information just to find out at the end that I could not hold my award ticket. I said but the previous agent did that for me, she still insisted that they are no longer allowed to do that. What a waste of time! Therefore, I am writing these steps down and hopefully it will save you, my blog reader, some time. 
  1. After searching flight's availability online, note down the information. 
  2. You must call in. Singapore Airlines number for US is 1-800-742-3333. Follow the steps on the call to get to KrisFlyer booking agent. 
  3. Be straight forward and ask the agent, something like "I do not have enough miles to redeem a flight ticket, and I need to transfer my points to KrisFlyer account first. Do you know if it's possible to put an award ticket on hold while there's available seat on that flight?"
  4. If the agent starts out by saying no, you cannot. Thank him/her and hang up. Repeat step 1-2 again. If the agent start out by saying something that it is possible depending on if you are flying with Singapore Airlines or partner airlines, then you are in luck. Or if the agent says yes you can, then you are in much better luck. Try to understand what the agent is saying to see if the agent can do it or not. 
  5. Continue your conversation with the agent by feeding that agent your flight information. 
  6. Verify the miles required and taxes. Remember, as a KrisFlyer member, you save 15% off the total miles required for an award ticket. Some agents don't know or forget about that, kindly remind them. 
  7. If needed, you can also ask the agent to select seat for you as well. 
  8. After the award ticket is placed on hold, a booking reference number should be created and can be viewed in your account. Or you can ask the agent to email you the itinerary so that you can confirm if needed. 
  9. You can view the booking in your account, it'll state that it's NOT ticketed yet and that's expected. Nowhere in the booking says anything about it being a miles redemption booking, but don't worry. 
  10. Your award ticket should be placed on hold for 5 days. Do what you have to do to transfer points to KrisFlyer miles or finalize your decisions. Singapore Airlines will also email you a reminder email the next day that you have until certain day to finalize that booking.
    1. Please be reminded that your confirmed flights on SQxxxx (booking reference xxxxx) must be ticketed by 10 May 2016, 0700 hours (GMT+8), or these confirmed flight will be automatically cancelled.
  11. Once enough KrisFlyer miles are accrued in your account, call the above same number again. Give the agent the booking reference number, and ask him/her to finalize that booking with you.
  12. The agent will confirm the miles required and taxes. If they all appear correct to you, you are all done after providing your credit card information. 

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May 8, 2016

How To Book Transit Hotel At Singapore Changi Airport

Ambassador Transit Hotel At Singapore Changi Airport
My mother was flying from Christchurch to Singapore, and had a very long lay over connection overnight in Singapore before getting to her destination. Therefore, I started to look into the transit hotel at Singapore Changi Airport for her.

The Transit Hotel is called the Ambassador Transit Hotel. The facility has shower, wifi, phone, TV, etc. They are located in both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. If you stay in one of those places during your long connection, you do not need to clear immigration as long as your reservation is on one ticket and your bags are checked all the way to your destination.

There are various types of rooms available such as Single Room, Double Room, Triple Room, and Budget Room. The Budget Room does not have ensuite shower, you will need to exit the room and use the shared shower facility. Each room varies in price. Check out the price on their website. The room's rate is charged per 1 block of 6 hours, and any additional hours needed after 6 hours will incur additional fee. It's recommended that you pay for the room on the day that you will be checking in. Credit card is accepted and make sure to use the no foreign transaction fees card one. To save my mom for all the hassles, I requested the hotel to charge my credit card so that my mom did not have to pay upon her arrival date. In order to do this, the hotel sent me a form to fill in with all my information and my signature to authorize that transaction. They won't charge my card until the day that mom checks in and it's free cancellation if we let them know 24 hours prior to arrival.

The Booking Process

  1. First, determine which Terminal that your next flight will be leaving from. If you prefer one over the other, just make sure you give yourself enough time to catch your next flight. Singapore airport is huge. If you don't know which terminal your next flight is, contact the airline that you are flying with. They should know that. 
  2. Go to the Ambassador Transit Hotel's website: http://www.harilelahospitality.com/#!transit-hotel-roomrateshtml/c16ei
  3. Scroll down and click on Book Now button by the desired room.
  4. Another page will appear and allow you to fill in all necessary information about your flight, check-in and check-out date and time. 
  5. There's a Cancellation Instructions link there that you can read. However, I do not believe it reflects the actual cancellation policy. It should be 24 hours vs. 60 hours. When your room is confirmed, in the email it will state the cancellation policy again. I'd go with the email as opposed to that link. 
  6. After you select "Click here to select room" you will have the opportunity to see the total cost and hours next to each room's type. Simply select the room type that you want, or adjust hours as needed if you'd like. 
  7. Always read the Terms and Conditions
  8. Click on "I accept..." and Book!
  9. Once the form is submitted, you will receive an acknowledgment email. However, please note that your reservation is not completed until the hotel email you back a confirmation email. In case the room that you want is not available, they will let you know accordingly. 
    1. Thing To Consider: It happened to my reservation for my mom that they said the Budget Room wasn't available at the time, I was surprised as I did not know the Transit Hotel can be that popular. I emailed them back and said "Shall I check with you daily to check availability then?" To my surprise, they responded and said they had 1 Budget Room available, so I took it in a heartbeat! From this experience, I would strongly suggest that you book well in advanced. The nice thing about this hotel is that it has free cancelation policy. In case they email you that there's no availability, just keep checking by emailing them. They are very prompt in response. Their phone line, on the other hand, tends to be busy when I was trying to call them. Just hang up and keep calling. 
Below is a snapshot of a confirmation email that you can read and find out more information about their cancellation and reservation's holding policy. I had to call them for my mom as her flight got delayed so that they were not cancelling her room. 

Greetings from Ambassador Transit Hotel at Singapore Changi Airport, we are pleased to confirm your Hotel reservation.
Please review the information carefully and contact us immediately for any changes:

Confirmation Details:
Guest Name:YOUR NAME 
C/I Time:30 Apr 2016 / 06:00 PM / SQ298
C/O Time:01 May 2016 / 06:00 AM / MI602
Duration Stay:12 hours
Reservation Number:1117T2
Type of Room:Budget Single-T2
Total No of Paxs:1 Adults
Estimated Total Payment:SGD 110.00 nett.
Payment Mode:Cash or Credit Card upon check in.
Remarks - All Special requests are subject to availability upon arrival.

Important Information:
1. Please DO NOT CLEAR THE IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS.
2. Rates are non-negotiable, non-commission, non-transferable and non-refundable.
3. Cancellation for reservation, please inform hotel at least 24 hours before travel date or in the event of NoShow, there will be a charged of one Block of 6 hours. 
4. Please present this confirmation email or booking numbers upon check in.
 
5. Should you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at  +65 6507 9797 or email to rsvn@harilelahospitality.com.
The Hotel will hold your reservations 90 minutes after your flight landed time and 60 minutes upon your requested Check-in time.


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May 7, 2016

Best Use Of Alaska Airline Miles


Alaska Airline miles is one of the most valuable airline miles out there. The best use of the Alaska miles is to redeem them with Alaska's partner airlines for long haul International flights.


The Best Use of Alaska Airlines Miles

Cathay Pacific

70,000 Alaska miles one way First Class from US to Asia
70,000 Alaska miles one way First Class from US to Africa

60,000 Alaska miles one way Business Class from US to Australia or New Zealand
80,000 Alaska miles one way First Class from US to Australia or New Zealand

... with a free stopover in Hong Kong as long as you like.

Fiji Airways

55,000 Alaska miles one way Business Class from US to Fiji with a free stopover in Fiji as long as you like.

LAN

45,000 Alaska miles one way Business Class from US to South America.

Hainan 

50,000 Alaska miles one way Business Class from US to Asia. There's a little bit high fuel surcharge.

Icelandair

55,000 Alaska miles one way Business Class from US to Europe with a free stopover in Iceland.

Korean Air

60,000 Alaska miles Business Class from US to Southeast Asia. However, you must book a roundtrip award ticket. One way Business Class costs more. You also cannot book Korean Air's First Class with Alaska miles.

Free Stopover

You probably saw I mentioned about the free stopover in Hong Kong, Fiji, Iceland, etc. Alaska Airlines is very generous when it comes to this. You basically can have one free stopover on a one-way award ticket or two free stopovers on a roundtrip award ticket.

So what is a stopover? Consider this itinerary: US - Auckland, New Zealand. To get to Auckland from US, there's a connection in Nadi Fiji with Fiji Airways. Instead of doing the few hours layover in Fiji, you can "stopover" there for as long as you want before leaving for Auckland. To search for this type of award ticket, you will need to search by multiple city and make sure there's a flight from US - Nadi Fiji on the date that you want, and the flight from Nadi to Auckland on the date that you are ready to leave Fiji. All of that costs the same Alaska miles!


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May 6, 2016

Redeeming Free Nights For Fewer Choice Points With Choice FlexRewards

FlexRewards By Choice
Choice Hotels recently just introduced a new way to redeem free night for fewer points called FlexRewards. Currently, there are two types of rewards program when it comes to redeeming free night stays with Choice Hotels. One being 100% Choice Points for free night redemption without any cash, and another one being some points + cash option. Now with this FlexRewards, it does create more opportunities for Choice hotel points enthusiasts!

What Is FlexRewards?

FlexRewards basically allows Choice Priviledge members to get free night stays for fewer Choice points either during the week or on the weekend at participating Choice hotels.

During the week nights include Sunday-Thursday; weekend nights include Friday-Saturday.

For example, a regular free night stay at Quality Inn & Suites at Saint Augustine Beach in Florida requires 16,000 points, but if you were to redeem Choice points for a free night stay during the week, you get to save 4,000 points. You will only spend 12,000 points for a free night stay there during the week. Whereas on the weekend, you will spend the regular 16,000 points for a free night stay.

The same thing for hotel Econo Lodge City Central in Auckland, New Zealand. You spend 16,000 points for a free night stay on the weekend, but you will spend 20,000 points for one free night stay during the week.

What Are The Participating Hotels?

Check out if your favorite hotels or the destination you are planning to visit are on the list. There are several hotels in the US, and a few overseas. Hopefully, as time goes by that more International Choice hotels are participating in this program.

Conclusion

Choice Priviledge is underrated and the program isn't mentioned much by traveler's community. I admit that their rewards program are not very intuitive, and most of their property in the US are mediocre. I personally love redeeming Choice Points for hotel stays in Europe, specifically Scandivania. You can check out my full article on Best Use of Choice Hotels Points From 6,000 to 25,000 Points in Europe.

With this new FlexRewards program, it's something that makes Choice program appears to be somehow more appealing. I'm sure that I'll take advantage of this one day!


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May 5, 2016

Hong Kong Public Transportation With Octopus Card

Hong Kong Public Transportation With Octopus Card
Hong Kong Public Transportation is the best. My favorite one is the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), which is the same as New York Subway, European Metro, or London Underground Tube. I love how clean and efficient those MTRs are. Most station has escalators and elevators, which are very useful for wheelchair visitors or those that have knees issues that cannot walk up and down the stairs too much.

Today I am going to talk about the process of how to get the ticket for Hong Kong public transportation and where to buy the tickets, etc. I always recommend visitors to Hong Kong to get the Octopus Card if they are going to rely on public transportations there to sightsee things.

What Is Octopus Card?

Octopus Card is basically an electronic smart card that you purchase from Hong Kong transit department, and then you can store value in it by first making payments. This eliminates the need of buying tickets each time to get on the MTR. When you travel with an Octopus Card, the journey fare costs less than individual tickets. So it is convenient and cost-savings.

Octopus Card Fares

Remember, each Octopus Card requires a refundable deposit of $50 HKD and initial $100 HKD for an adult Octopus Card. So you should expect to pay $150 HKD for an adult's card.

If you are traveling with someone that's at least 65 years old or a child, they get discounts on public transportations. Each person's price is $50 HKD deposit plus $20 HKD initial stored value.

To give you an example, I travelled with my parents who are over 65 years old and my sister who is an adult. So for 4 of us, I purchased the following Octopus Cards:
  • 2 Adults: $50 HKD deposit + $100 HKD initial stored value =  $150 HKD x 2 = $300 HKD
  • 2 Seniors: $50 HKD deposit + $20 HKD initial stored value = $70 HKD x 2 = $140 HKD
  • Total paid: $440 HKD 
Do note that, each person requires to have an Octopus Card. One card cannot be shared among different people.

Furthermore, you can use Octopus Card for the Peak Tram & Sky Terrace and pay the same fee as you were to buy the pass for that attraction. You can also use Octopus Card for the famous Star Ferry, and it is free for elders. Everything is all don automatically with Octopus Card, all you have to do is tap in and tap out. 

The Process Of Getting and Using Octopus Card(s)

  1. Go to your nearest station and find the Customer Service center/agent in the station. 
  2. Tell the agent that you want to purchase the Standard Octopus Card(s). Check the Octopus Fares above and do the math to ensure you are not just paying for whatever the agent tells you to pay. Cash only. 
    1. You can purchase the elder Octopus Card without showing the passport or any ID to verify the person's age. The person do not have to be there either. The agent will simply make sure you are clear that the card is only for visitors that are at least 65 years old. There may be random checks at the station's entry from time to time, so do NOT try to cheat this. It's not worth it! 
  3. You will see the turnstiles before entering the station. Go for the ones that have Green sign, Red means no entry. 
  4. Simply tap that Octopus Card on the Octopus Card reader. The reader displays the value in your card quickly. Push the turnstile and walk in. Don't wait as it does not automatically open for you if it's a turnstile entry :-) 
  5. Find your train and enjoy the ride to your destination. 
  6. When you arrive at your destination and exit the station, the process is the same as you entered the station. Tap the Octopus Card reader on the reader, the system deducts the value in your card instantly for the journey that you have travelled. The reader displays the remaining value in your card quickly. Push the turnstile and walk out. 
  7. Enjoy your visit!

Insufficient Fund In Octopus Card

In an event that you try to enter the station, but the system alerts you that you don't have sufficient fund in your card, you can add values to the card by using the Add-Value machine or by going to the Customer Service Center in any station.

Getting Refund

At the end of your stay in Hong Kong and you no longer need to take any means of public transportation, you can return the Octopus Card and get a refund of all the remaining value on your card. It's completely up to you if you want to keep that card for souvenir and forfeit the refund. However, if you want to get your refund back, simply return each Octopus Card to the Customer Service Center in any station and the agent will give you cash for the remaining value on your card minus the $9 HKD if retuned within 90 days of issue.

Complete Hong Kong Series


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May 4, 2016

Flight Review: ANA NH8 Business Class 777 Tokyo Narita (NRT) to San Francisco (SFO)

ANA Lounge at Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)

I walked up the escalator to the lounge. Was greeted and went right into the lounge. The food section was good from sushi to stir fry noodle. They also have salad, fruits, and drinks like other lounges.



They also have a cook there to take people's order for noodle soup and curry rice. The lounge area itself is huge and pretty nice quiet. There's another part of the lounge with more seats but the food is pretty much the same. 


ANA NH8 Business Class 777 Tokyo Narita (NRT) to San Francisco (SFO)

Boarding first the special need passengers, then First Class and then my Business Class.


My first impression of the ANA's cubical seating was wow! So much space and wide seat. There are lots of compartment to store stuff with a big TV screen. I was way excited! The flight attendant was very nice and they learned passengers' last name. The seat itself is super nice with many things that come along with it such as the slipper, a bag that consists of toothbrush, lotion, eye mask and ear plugs, a pad for the flat bed, a comforter that you can put feet in (I thought that pocket was for head lol), and a pillow. There's a usb charger and an iPod plugin. The seat configuration is 1-2-1. Mine is 1 seat so it was super duper nice and has a very good privacy (selfie as much as I wanted to lol).



There are so many choices of both alcohol and non-alcohol drinks. I ordered screwdriver and plum wine with soda water. The plum wine was very good. I got a buzz before I knew it! The snack that went along with the drink was delicious too. It was some sort of raw fish, feta cheese and more. Japanese apparently loves raw meat.



Later the appetizer was served with raw fish and beef and some other things like a salad, again it was delicious!


Then the meal was served. I had international cuisine of cooked fish in some type of ginger sauce (please see the menu). It was very good!



By the time the dessert was served, I was full already! I had grapefruit pudding, it wasn't my favorite.


Afterwards, I got the flat bed ready and snoozed away!




About two hours before reaching the destination, they started serving light dishes or breakfast between Japanese and international cuisines. I chose Japanese and it was good.



That's concluded my business class trip on ANA flight.

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May 3, 2016

Resort Review: Puri Santrian Sanur Bali

Beachfront Puri Santrian
Sanur in Bali matches the criteria that I was looking for in terms of white sand beach, less crowd, and beachfront accommodation, yet affordable. There were three hotels that I was looking at there. They are Prama Sanur Beach Bali, Griya Santrian, and Puri Santrian. Of all 3, Prama is the cheapest. The main reason I went with Puri Santrian is because it has better cancellation policy than the others as my plan wasn't totally concrete.

I booked the hotel through Orbitz instead of directly though the hotel. I first checked the price on the hotel's website to compare with Orbitz. I am a platinum member of Orbitz and I have accrued some Orbucks, which is their loyalty program. From time to time, they have 15% discount code to use and it's valid for Bali's destination. Orbitz also had an offer of free room upgrade to the next level at that hotel. For more information on the 15% discount code, check out my full article on How To Save On Hotels Booking With Orbitz.

Location & Room

Puri Santrian is a beachfront resort. The boardwalk is just steps away from the resort, which is very convenient. At first glance, the design of the resort is like a temple. It's rich with Hindusim architectures. The check-in process was lovely with a welcome of cool towel and a drink.

Puri Santrian Is Located Right On The Beach
The receptionist personally accompanied us to our room, which was upgraded to the Club for free. The club provides more privacy and no children are allowed. It also has a nice private pool that's only for Club's guests.  Our room is on the third floor with a balcony overlooking the swimming pool. The only downside about this building is that it doesn't have elevator. The room is beautifully made with a beautiful bed that comes with a mosquito net, but there are no mosquitoes by any means. The bathroom has a tub and a walk in shower. The hot water though was not that great, especially during the day but it's good in the morning. In a way, I felt that the building is a little bit dated.

Beautifully Made Bed

Swimming Pools & Sun Lounges

The resort has 4 pools but I'm probably biased that the pool in the Club is the best one, except for the pool towel boys. I found them pretty unfriendly. We did try all 4 pools and the one by the beach is nice too that it has a swim up bar and is convenient to take a dip after swimming in the ocean or lounging on the beach given how humid Bali is.

Our Favorite Swimming Pool Inside The Club - No Children Are Allowed
Massage By The Pool
Elephant Cave Pool
There are several lounge chairs, sun pods, and even an on water gazebo available for guests. Our favorite is the sun pods. We were there during off peak season which is in early December, so it was really easy to get one of the pods. The gazebo is nice too but the chairs are so hard to sleep on.

Several Sun Lounges And Sun Pods

Dinning, Spa & Activities

The beachfront restaurant is good but it's a little bit expensive with 10% service charge added to the total price. You can bill it to the room or pay there. I suggest that you walk along the Sanur beach's boardwalk and find many cheaper places to eat and drink with better quality too.

Oceanfront Dining and On Water Gazebo
You Can Either Eat At The Resort OR Eat Somewhere Along The Boardwalk
The hotel also has a spa and complimentary paddle boards for guests to use, no snorkeling gears though but there are shops nearby that you can rent from. The Seawalk is also right by the hotel, which provides convenience for guests if they want to do that activity.

The Spa
Bath For Two Inside The Spa
Our room comes with breakfast every morning during our 5 night stays there. It's a buffet style with good Western and Indonesian dishes. There's a cook there that can make whatever kinds of egg that you want. You simply tell them what room you are staying at and you are set. The waiters and waitresses are very friendly and attentive to your needs.

The Breakfast Egg's Cook

In Summary

Positives:
Great location right on the white sandy beach
Beautiful design
Nice Sun lounges
Awesome swimming pools
Good selection of breakfast buffet

Negatives:
Building is a little bit dated and has no elevator.
Room's hot water is inconsistent.
Unfriendly pool boys, but most workers there are friendly.
Food and drinks are little bit expensive and bill has extra 10% service charge.

Conclusion:

Will I stay at Puri Santrian Hotel again? Probably yes because it is located on the beach and it's affordable. The pools and sun lounges there are my favorites. The boardwalk is just steps away from the hotel, which is super convenient to go for a walk and sample other oceanfront restaurants for food and drinks. Prama Sanur is another hotel that's located on the beach as well. During our visit, we had the opportunity to go check out that hotel and it's not bad at all. In fact, this hotel is cheaper than Puri Santrian. I didn't book that because it has no free cancellation, but next time I am thinking of staying there when I'm in Sanur again.

Restaurants Along The Boardwalk All Oceanfront With View

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