Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Singapore/Malaysia Day 1: Off we go!

Note to the reader: I am retroactively blogging these posts after my trip to Singapore has already finished. I'll try to keep the past/present tense in line :) I hope you enjoy the photos and videos from my trip to Singapore and Malaysia!

November 21, 2010
Singapore Day 1: Off we go!

And... away we go! My sister Norma was visiting me here in San Francisco for about 10 days and we managed to organize our flight out to Singapore to be on the same day that my sister would be heading back to Canada, so everything worked out amazingly well! Norm and I got up early, put away dishes, I deflated her inflatable bed and we then zoomed downstairs with our luggage, ready for pickup. The pickup service I chose was called Q-S Limousine, based on some reviews on Yelp... and apparently the "QS" stands for "Quality Service"?! I called the night before and got it all booked and confirmed, but for some reason I just had a bad feeling about it. I am in general a pretty worked-up traveler - I like to make sure all the plans are in place and I've set about 5 alarms to make sure I don't miss my flight. Anyhow, pickup was supposed to be at 7:30 but at about 7:32 I started to worry - since I figured they'd show up early, definitely not late. I had chosen this service specifically because I was nervous that a cab was not reliable enough. Oy gevault.

Anyway, as usual, a swift moving back-up plan is always a good idea. After calling them at 7:35, having them not pick up (?!!!) and leaving a message, I called a cab. Thank goodness the cab was super quick and off we went to the airport. I texted the Limo service from the cab asking where they were, and they responded with a simple "Sorry, the driver had car troubles." That seems a little shoddy since quite literally their only job is to pick you up and drive you to the airport safely, and on time. I couldn't believe they didn't answer their phone. Oy!!! Traveling is always a bit crazy, and you end up with several stories like this, so I figured it would be a good one for the blog. :)

The cab showed up in 2 minutes which was amazing, and zoomed us off to the airport. I said bye to Norm and went to meet Matt at the ANA checkin. Business Class checkin was super fast and amazingly efficient - this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime flight experience that we'd never forget! We then headed off to the... lounge!! We were super psyched to try it out, so excited in fact that we joked with each other that the staff at the lounge were going to question if we were actually allowed in the lounge due to our total and utter over-excitement. Once we got there, there was yoghurt, guava juice, coffee... great stuff. They had free internet too which was super helpful. We hung out there for a bit and then wandered to get some walking in before the long flight.

Matt had a hilarious neck pillow with a panda bear face on the one side and showed me the place where he bought it in the SFO terminal. I bought a similar one with a bear on it, a different face than Matt's pillow. We decided it would be hilarious to wear them around the terminal and especially back to the Business Lounge. We wandered by the Bar there and asked what was free - "Budweiser is free", the lady said, staring at our ridiculous animal-themed neck pillows with amazement. Matt wanted a different beer that cost $6 but didn't have cash on him, so, figuring we were pretty light-hearted folks (due to the pillows, I'm sure), she teased me super hard for not covering Matt's beer. Haha. "He has cash", she said as she pointed at me, "Hey, why don't you buy your friend a beer!" Haha, then she totally made fun of my brown bear neck pillow and said Matt's panda bear was a better choice. Wow, it was amazing and so funny and randomly weird at the same time. I love traveling.

Then, it was boarding time! We headed to the plane and once we got on, it was truly amazing. The seats were amazing. There were free ANA slippers, an ANA-supplied cardigan (which only went halfway down my arms - Matt didn't even bother to ask for one), and multiple awesome buttons to play with on the chairs. There was an "Upright", "Rest" and "Bed" mode. We (of course) instantly started playing with everything and it was hilarious and awesome. The bed mode seemed to sortof drop you down and almost dump you directly off the chair, and the angle was pretty intense. Matt totally didn't fit in bed mode at all (it was definitely made for more Japanese-sized people, I expect) and we laughed until we were teary-eyed about it. So fun.

And on came the amazing food. (Don't worry, this trip blog won't ALL be about food, but most of this particular entry will be). We started with a choice between a glass of champagne and a glass of cold green tea. Then we had some sweet sake, red pepper and artichoke to start. They loved our enthusiasm for the sweet sake and kept coming back to refill our glasses. "Would you like some more sweet sake?", they asked at one point, "No, we're OK for now, thanks!" we said. They responded with, "Well, we have another kind, a dry sake!". We knew it was no use trying to deny more food and drinks so we said, "Sure, why not!" :) They were incredibly hospitable and the food and drink quality was just amazing. What an experience to remember.

Soon it was lunch time and Matt and I both chose the Japanese Set option. I had some great fish and sauce with mushrooms in it, and they also served excellent Miso soup - which I was able not to pour all over my pants like I did at the fancy hotel back in Tokyo last year, haha. They (of course) brought us some more sweet sake, so we were pleased to get some real food in us too. Then we had some great Ice Cream for dessert. After that came coffee and this AMAZING Green Tea Fudge. We LOVED it.

I then made the tragic mistake of telling them that we really enjoyed it, "The Green Tea Fudge was great!" They IMMEDIATELY asked us if we'd like some more, and brought the box out to show us that it was from New York and was a "modern twist" on a traditional Japanese dessert. We acted a little nervous (with all the attention and food) and they brought us two more pieces. We then made the mistake of eating them right away and so out came 4 more pieces!! Uh oh. We figured we'd better leave one or two sitting there to look like we were totally stuffed or saving them for later to try to calm down the food delivery :) It was so fun. They loved us and our enthusiasm for the flight so much that they brought us out a huge survey to answer anonymously for the airline. We gave them perfect scores, and I think they knew we were having a great time :)

We then tried to get a bit of sleep and "Bed Mode" was hilarious. I kept pretending I was about to press "Bed Mode" on Matt's chair while he was watching a movie because it basically pours you onto the floor. haha. We found that a combo of "Rest Mode" and moving the leg rest up was the most successful option.

While chilling out I noticed they'd left out a table of snacks near us, including a Suntory Boss Coffee in a can! I remembered those really well from Japan and was super excited to try it again. I also noticed they left the entire remainder of the Green Tea Fudge out on the table in the center console, presumably for "lots of people" to share, but it was right near us for a good reason, I think :) They already knew us very well!

I watched the movie "Insomnia" which was pretty cool and had a few snacks. Later on we woke up and I just had something light since we'd been eating so much earlier in the flight. It was dinnertime in SF, but it was breakfast time in Tokyo so we had breakfast. :) We had just a few snacks, some cheese and Matt got noodles. As Dad would say, we were a bunch of "bladdy fressers!"

What a totally insanely awesome experience and we finished up on the first leg of the journey, arriving in Narita airport with about 1.5 hrs to stretch our legs, look for an Uni Qlo store, buy some Green Tea Kit Kats for the folks back home in San Francisco, and check out the Narita lounge.

Matt looking very snappy after an early start!

Juice and other tasty stuff at SFO

I look even more excited than that kid behind me

Here I am literally losing it, I am so excited I can hardly contain myself

The wealth of seat choice options. This was confusing and hilarious.

Reading material for the plane

I don't even have this much legroom in my apartment. Truly an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Sweet, sandals to keep. They didn't fit Matt. (Sorry Matt!)

Here we go!


More tasty snacks

Fantastic fish, mushrooms and rice

Ice Cream!!

Coffee, and the Green Tea Fudge that we went to town on

Matt got the Japanese option for lunch, note the lotus root!

I figured it was a good time to start rockin' some Curry

A cheese plate?! Wow the food was insanely great.

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