What I think of United Polaris Lounge SFO

United Polaris SFO lounge is by far the biggest United lounge in America, spanning 2 floors with lots of food, drinks and amenities. It even has waitering services!

 

Location

Located in the G concourse close to gate G92. Once you pass through the security checkpoint leading to the international G gates, take an immediate right turn.

Location

Entrance of the lounge
Entrance of the lounge

You can only enter if you are on a long-haul United or Star Alliance flight flying on business or first class. Star Alliance Gold flying on economy or premium economy will use the United Club lounge. United Polaris has quite a few amenities, like a dining area where you proper restaurant service. Quiet suite to catch the snooze, shower suite to refreshen up before you catch the next leg of the flight, or get that pre-departure drink at their bar.

Overall, the lounge gave a corporate vibe. Decorated in their corporate colour – grey and blue, the lounge has rather a sombre mood.

Overall decor of the lounge is modern futuristic chic – brightly lit, decorated with shiny objects. You will be greeted with showers of drop lights hanging from the ceiling as you make your way up to the 2nd floor.

The bar
The bar

 

Food

United is the only airline which has waitering service in its lounge. The Dining Room is located on level 2 overlooking the runway as you have your entrée and desserts. And if you do not have the luxury of time you can always go for their buffet spread which you will be spoilt for choices.

Three-egg omelet
Three-egg omelet

 

Plentiful of comfy seats in various configurations.

Shower suite
Shower suite

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Flight Guru

Flight Guru – Tips to Your Next Air-ticket

Flight Guru – Best Airfare & Seat

Flight guru, sharing tips and secrets in your quest for your next cheapest air-ticket. And guides to your flight seats. Read on to find out more.

Matrix – ITA software

Ever wonder what software travel agencies used for that airfare search? With internet you can now do that by yourself to determine which flight path gives you the quickest, cheapest, or least stopover flight to your travel destination. Try Matrix Airfare Search.

The website has simple intuitive search form. Just fill-in the basic search criteria and the site will generate a list of possible flight paths with the different airlines and price point.

Once determined the date range and airline, you will be able to see the details of your selection – booking code, breakdown of the airfare, tax and fees, including the fare rules and restrictions to the ticket. One thing to note, you cannot buy the tickets from the site. Matrix only provides you the flight options and details, tool for you to plan your flight. However, you can use this info to get your travel agent to match your finding.

Seat Guru

Gone are the days where airlines provide free seat selection to users at the point of buying their ticket. Unless you are the privilege few who are frequent flyers this option comes as an incentive. Fret not, use the seat guru to guide you on your next seat selection at the point of online/counter check-in.

Enter the airline, date and flight number Seat Guru will provide you the seat configuration, seat map as well as guides to the seats. Seats close to lavatories may not ideal for light sleepers, or seats without window might cause one to feel claustrophobic. A great nifty tool especially when you are on a long haul flight!

 

And if you would like to read my review on my recent flight from Bangkok to Newark on Cathay Pacific click here.

Cathay Pacific Flight

Cathay Pacific – Bangkok to Newark

Business Class on Cathay Pacific

My Cathay flight from Bangkok to Newark took me to Hong Kong where I had 2 hours stopover and had the opportunity to check out the Cathay business lounge, and I was impressed. You can read about my review on the Bangkok lounge and also the one in Hong Kong here.

Seating Configuration

Now here’s my review of Cathay’s seats and aircraft. I was on the business class which was 1-2-1 configuration. Every window seats has a view, full flat bed and ample leg room for someone who is 6 foot 3.

The seat comes with a arm rest which is collapsable to give you the additional space when it converts to a flat bed. And a small storage compartment next to the seat console.

More storage underneath the tray. Steps in front become footrest when seat reclines.

A welcome drink just before the flight takes off.

Inflight Dining

Shortly after the flight takes off we were served with dinner – mango scallops, bread and salad. Big, fat and juicy scallops served with mango sauce to kick start the meals onboard.

And for my 2nd meal, I opted for wok-fried prawns, black truffle, asparagus and mixed vegetables served with jasmine rice. It was simply delish…

After the main course we were served with freshly cut fruits.

A raspberry tart to end off the meal on a sweet note!

And if you interested what Cathay Pacific serves for their inflight dining you should check it out their menu here.

What I like my flight on Cathay Pacific is their lavatory. Unlike conventional ones, tiny and claustrophobic. Here you get a great view as you refreshen yourself up! Amazing view…

As the flight approaches Newark I realised the time onboard went by quickly. Indeed, seating configuration and the quality customer service do make a long haul flight a pleasant experience. Would I consider taking Cathay Pacific again? Yes, I would. However, their business class ticket does command a premium – serious consideration.

Cathay Pacific Lounge

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Lounge, The Wing

Cathay Pacific Lounge Review

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Lounge, The Wing

Ranked #3 for its business lounge and #1 for first class in 2016 Skytrax’s airline lounge ranking Cathay Pacific is truly a premium airline.

Unlike the one in Bangkok, entrance of Cathay Pacific The Wing business lounge in Hong Kong International Airport uses marble. It occupies 2 floors in the complex.

First Level

On the ground level, the area is divided up into 4 areas. A common lounge where the buffet spread is meant for group chats, individual leather sofas, private working area each cubicle is separated with a full length glass. Lastly, all the toilets in the lounge come with rain shower. A quick freshen up before catching the next leg of the flight. And they use Aesop and Jurlique toiletries, nature skincare products.

Second Level

Right next to the entrance is a handsome flight of stairs to level two of the business lounge. With the high ceiling and open siting area, it feels very spacious and airy. Cathay Pacific uses black marble on its level two starting from the stairs to the entire flooring on the 2nd level. A general black-white marble and wood theme.

Chic Asian minimalistic decor – noodle bar area

Other than the usual open siting lounges and sofas you can find a noodle bar like the one in Bangkok, and a cafe tucked away at a corner. The noodle bar serves up local wanton noodle soaks in chicken broth or you can go for a nicely brewed coffee with cakes.

Overall, the feel of Cathay Pacific’s The Wing business lounge is less inviting as compared to the one in Bangkok. It lacks the small soft details and finishings, even though it is much bigger and offers more services. You can read more about the Bangkok’s lounge here.

After experiencing both Cathay Pacific’s Bangkok’s and Hong Kong’s I will seriously consider taking Cathay Pacific when flying to US. Good lounges are hard to come by and a great one is much needed especially when traveling on a long-haul flight. A warm shower, hot piping soup and comfy seats do make a huge difference.

Cathay Pacific Lounge Bangkok Review

Bangkok’s Cathay Pacific Lounge

Cathay Pacific Lounge Review

According to Skytrax Cathay Pacific lounge was ranked #3 for its business class and #1 for first class lounge in 2016. And I had the opportunity to visit the one in Bangkok and Hong Kong International Airport to check it out myself, and provide my personal review.

Bangkok’s Cathay Pacific Lounge 

Upon reaching the entrance of the lounge in Bangkok International Airport the overall look gives a lush, elegant and comfortable feel. Very soothing on the eyes.

Once stepped in you will be greeted by their friendly staff who will escort you in. The theme has been very consistent across the different sections in the lounge. The use of earthy tone colour scheme, well-mixed of hard and soft elements like low wall concrete wall partition, wooden dining area, leather sofa and fabric seats. And a balance use of Asian and modern furnishing in its decor – Vietnamese lamp, glass and wicker lamp shades. All these soft touches are well thought out and placed.

The lighting in Cathay Pacific lounge is just right. Unlike some of the airline lounges where you will be greeted with bright lights, here the room is well-lit accompanied by the natural light overlooking the runway. Individual lamps are placed in each seatings should you need an additional lighting.

There were ample seatings – leather sofas and comfy seats for group chats, individual seats overlooking runway and mini office desk with printer.

You will be spoilt with food choices in Cathay Pacific lounge! They have a breakfast, salad bar and a good selection of beverages. And for tea lover out there they served TWG tea! In additional, they have noodle bar serving a piping hot noodle.

Now, their toilet is simply lush. The basin area and floor are dry. Cleaners wipe up the area regularly. You do not have to worry of getting your sleeves or cuffs wet.

Overall, it was a very pleasant experience. A nice quiet oasis in a busy airport.

You can read my Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific lounge review here.

New York City

New York City – Things to Do

New York City

New York City, big apple, the city that never sleeps. According to Wikipedia NYC is the most densely populated city in United States. Home to the United Nations, center for international diplomacy and where Statue of Liberty is. It is also the home to 2 of the world largest stock exchange. A very diverse and vibrant metropolitan city.

Below are a couple of activities I did while I was in the city.

1. M&M’s World

M&M’s World is located in Times Square. The store front is decorated with huge billboard and brightly coloured “chocolates”. A all-time favourite candy store to all children and children-alike. A must go-to place when visiting Times Square.

You will be greeted with a gigantic M&M character once you stepped in. Consistent with its chocolate colour theme the store was decorated in rainbow colours. A feel good, happy place. Mural on the wall depicts the humble beginning of the cartoon characters and how the characters evolved.

If you looking for souvenirs you will not be disappointed in M&M’s World. The store is packed with merchandise and memorabilia like magnets, keychains, t-shirts and plushies.

Here’s a quick tour of the store.

The coolest thing and the best souvenir in my opinion is to personalise your M&M’s chocolates.

The final product, a bag of  M&M’s chocolates with customised text and designs printed on it.

2. Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market

Treasure hunting when i’m in overseas is always fun. I enjoy browsing and going through items from the by-gone era, clothes worn by the military personnel, 70s and 80s shoes and bags which make a come back.

3. High Line

An former railway track which has been given a new lease of life – greenway which cuts through the downtown district spanning some 2.33 kilometers in the city center. A innovative way to bring greenery and parks in an urban city.

4. Chelsea Market

And you can pop-by the Chelsea Market to check out the fresh produce as you walk along the High Line.

5. Top of the Rock 

A place you must go! The view is spectacular. Day view of the city is very different from the nights. As you can see buildings are brightly lighted with neocolours and from the digital screens in Times Square.

Do note, you have to book a time slot after buying the tickets. Don’t expect to see sunset when you buy your tickets at 5pm, the earliest time for you to get up might be 10pm.

It has been a fun 2 days exploring NYC and to do some shoppings. I would have to say the weather in the city is crazy! It was clear night sky when i went up to the Rockefeller Center and snowing the next morning.

Woodbury Common, Premium Outlet – New York

Bargain hunting time! If you are like me looking for a good bargain and not fussed that items are not current season then you’re in a real treat. Woodbury Common is the ideal outlet to do your shopping. Their website does provide directions on how you can get there. As for this blog I will focus on my experience catching a coach from Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City to the premium outlet.

I got my ticket through Viator.com and one of the tour agency had special offer on those tickets. So, do check out the website it might save you a couple of dollars on those tickets. I collected my ticket from the Grey Line shop which is located inside of the bus terminal, very convenient.

Alternatively, you can buy your tickets from Shortline Coach USA.

Every ticket comes with the bus and discount booklet coupon. And they will also provide you the bus schedule slip so that you can plan ahead. However, do be at the bus stop 15 minutes before the departure time when coming back as there will be many shoppers doing the same for the popular time slots.

Navigate yourself around the terminal, following the signs which direct you to gate 410.

Important, be there early! As everyone wants to maximise their time in the mall you can expect large group of shoppers for the morning bus. There will be no standing passengers, once the bus is filled you’ll have to wait for the next one.

The journey takes about an hour so my advice is visit the washroom before joining the queue and bring a bottle of water with you.

Once reached, go to the visitor center to collect your discount booklet.

And then off you go… Happy shopping!

 

 

 

 

MRT to Chatuchak Weekend Market – Bangkok

MRT to Chatuchak, weekend market

In my previous blog I documented the steps to get to Chatuchak by BTS, which is a quicker route to get there. Though MRT is longer route, it has some advantages over BTS. I will explain them here.

BTS map

The station to get off which brings you right into the heart of the market is not Chatuchak Park, it is the station after that, Kamphaeng Phet. If you alight at Chatuchak Park station it will bring you to the park as shown in my video in the previous blog.

MRT to Chatuchak

After you alighted from the train look for exit 2 in the station.

Once you exited from the station you will be right smack in the clothings section. In here you’ll find many local designers and many quirky stalls all nicely decorated.

Exit 2

In addition, there are self service storage area next to the exit of the MRT station which is ideal if you plan to shop a lot and not wanting to bring your nick-nacks along with you when you continue to shop. There is even a courier service located here for all the bulky items planning to ship home.

As mentioned, exit from the MRT station will lead you to the clothing stalls and many installed air-conditioning which brings some relieve from the sweltering heat. Overall, this area has a nice artsy vibe. Loved it.

 

If you want to know how to get to Chatuchak by BTS click here. Happy shopping!

BTS to Chatuchak, Weekend Market – Bangkok

BTS to Chatuchak, weekend market

Chatuchak, or the weekend market, occupies a massive 36 acre of land which is approximately 88 football fields! And there are about 3000 stalls in this compound ranging from clothes, pet animal, food stalls, household items to oil paintings.

This area comes to live every weekend where throngs of visitors both local and tourists would visit to get the best bargains.

Other than taking a taxi there are 2 options to get there, MRT (blue line) or BTS (light green line). Comparing both BTS is a quicker option to get there as it cuts through all the landmarks.

BTS to Chatuchak

The closest station to the market is Mochit. From the station it is a 5 minutes walk to the market.

Once you get off from the station platform look for the sign which directs you to Chatuchak and it should take you to exit 1.

Exit 1 to Chatuchak market

Once you take exit 1 you will see the steps which brings you to the ground level.

At the bottom of the steps there is an opening to a park, walk right in because it is a less crowded route to the market.

Once you step into the compound you’ll be greeted with rows and rows of stalls selling nick-nacks. I’ll leave you with pictures of what you can expect. If you interested to get there by MRT click on this link.