Day 11: Travel to Dubai
After another fantastic stay in Macau, it was time to move onto the next destination and the absolute highlight of the trip, Dubai. I’ve been wanting to go to Dubai for a long time as it specializes in two of my favorite things: stunning architecture and ultimate luxury. Thanks to my Amex Points and Marriott certificates, I would be able to arrive and stay in style, without breaking the bank. Before all that, we have to get there, which is what today is all about. We started with yet another great breakfast in the Conrad Lounge and finished with some delicious Portuguese Egg Tarts, a must have every time I’m here.
Then we took the hotel shuttle to the Taipa Ferry Terminal where my dad sent us off. He would be heading back to Vancouver that evening, while my mom and I continued to the other side of the world. Conrad even extended him late check out and afternoon tea before his flight. Once we got to the ferry terminal, we were able to check in for our flight and send off our luggage. We boarded the 9:50am Cotai Water Jet directly to Hong Kong Airport's SkyPier. This is the best way to get to and from HKG since you deal with the check-in at the ferry terminal and you arrive directly inside the airport on the other side.
The ferry was comfortable and took just over an hour. Security and customs were fast since it was only for ferry passengers. Once inside the main terminal at HKG, we headed straight for the lounge. I technically had access to 5 different lounges via Priority Pass, Amex Platinum, and the Star Alliance Business Class ticket. While it would have been fun to lounge hop, we didn’t have a lot of time so I decided on the Centurion Lounge.
This was the only official Amex Centurion Lounge outside the US. Centurion Lounges are generally excellent and much better than Priority Pass ones in the US. The HKG outpost was no different. The food was quite good, and the full bar had some great cocktails, which these lounges are known for. The bartender even made espresso drinks for us, instead of the coffee machines most lounges use. For Amex Black Card holders, there is an exclusive area with restaurant-style fine dining.
Given that I had a full breakfast and there was lunch on the plane, I didn’t eat too much, but it was hard to resist. After about an hour, we headed down to our gates for boarding. For the second business class flight of the trip, I was taking Thai Airways' Royal Silk Class. The first leg was a 2 hour hop from Hong Kong to Bangkok on their 5 year old Boeing 777-300ER. Thai’s 77Ws are configured in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration with full lie flat seats and direct aisle access. One downside of the seat was that there was not enough storage compartments to put things like my headphones and camera. The large console on the side of each seat took up a lot of space and wasn't very useful. Still, having a long haul business class seat on this short regional flight was a treat. I sat on the window seat in 19A which was the front of the second mini cabin. The staggered seats meant the odd number rows had great privacy, and the smaller second cabin had less foot traffic.
The flight attendant came by with a selection of pre-departure beverages and menus. I opted for the orange juice and had preordered a beef filet in advance. Thai used to offer online meal selection for all business class passengers, but has since cut back. Only a small number of regional routes have it now, which fortunately included this HKG – BKK leg. Here was the regular menu for the flight.
We departed on time at 12:45pm, which is pretty rare for this flight. We had a short connection in BKK, so I was looking at the time pretty closely. Once in the air, it was great to take one last look at the incredible HZMB.
Shortly after take off, lunch service started. Since this was a 2 hour flight, Thai serves all the courses at once to save time.
Even though it might not look like it, that steak was amazing. I was shocked by how perfectly cooked, juicy, and flavorful it was. This wasn’t just a great steak for being at 35000 ft, it was a great steak in general and one of the best ones I’ve had. It paired beautifully with the red wine and sides. This was a very impressive meal for a two hour flight. After lunch, I put my seat into lounge position and rewatched some episodes of Fresh off the Boat. Before long, we landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, just a little bit behind schedule. We had a 2 hour layover, but I really wanted to use the Thai Royal Orchid Spa, an exclusive benefit for Thai Business Class passengers. Deplaning and clearing security was fast and I made it to the spa with plenty of time to spare. Best of all there was no line and I was quickly escorted to my corner for a 30 min foot and leg massage. This was my first ever massage and I loved it. It was so relaxing and serene. The 30 mins flew by, after which I went to the lounge area for some herbal tea and snacks.
As I was filling out the survey about the massage, I got a notification on my phone that our flight to Dubai was delayed. I had access to literally a dozen different lounges at BKK, so I definitely wanted a longer layover.
Because of the layout of the airport and the location of the lounges, it wasn’t very convenient to lounge hop. I considered doing it anyways with the delay, but as I started walking and realizing how far it was, I headed back. I met up with my mom at the Miracle Lounge in Concourse C near our gate. The delay was a bit confusing because the display boards still showed an on-time departure. We decided not to take the chance and headed for the gate. Bangkok has an extra security check at the gate, so once you enter, you cannot leave. The gate still opened at the regular time, but there was a 40 minute delay due to connecting passengers. Our flight, TG517, was a brand new Airbus A350-900, the competitor to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The cabin was similar in layout to the 77W, with a staggered 1-2-1 configuration; however, everything looked much newer and decor was more refined. They didn’t provide slippers so I took out the ones from Conrad.
I had a pre-departure beverage called Violet Bliss, which was a signature of Thai and quite refreshing. At each seat was a blanket, pillow, headphones, and amenity kit from Mandarina Duck. I wasn’t a big fan of the bright red case, but my mom loved it.
After takeoff, I had a glass of champagne with some mixed nuts and dried fruits.
Dinner had three choices: Thai, Arabic, or Western. I went with the Samrab Thai option and it was delicious. The beef in particular was so tender and the sauce was very flavorful. All the complimentary dishes were great and there was a perfect amount of spice to give it that kick. I finished off with some dessert, fruits, and tea.
After dinner, I was pretty tired so I put the seat into bed position and took a nap. It’s times like this that I really appreciate the bed of business class. Even though I would have loved to stay up and maybe try some more things on the menu, that nap really hit the spot. I woke up with only about 30 mins left before landing. I didn’t even get to use the free WiFi card that business class passengers got. We also got a fast track immigration card for Dubai. The cabin was lit in neon pink from the A350 ambient lighting, which was a cool mood for landing.
We landed in Dubai at around 8:30pm, cleared immigration and picked up our bags which we last saw in Macau. I'm always kind of impressed when bags make it all the way through so many stops. We also bought our Dubai SIM card at the airport, then took the Metro to our hotel. For the first couple of days, we were staying at the Conrad Dubai, located right at the World Trade Center Metro stop, which was a convienent 15 min ride away. Check-in at the Conrad was pretty ordinary, done in the lobby instead of the lounge. The room was on the 45th floor, which is an executive level, but no suite upgrade. Still, for two people, it was more than sufficient and the room was well appointed. After a long travel day, we were ready for bed but excited for the week to come.