The unrest in Thailand, and in Bangkok in particular, is having a serious and damaging impact on the nation’s economy and reputation abroad. And the longer this situation lasts, the worse it will become. But alas, for the time being at least, it would appear that both parties are unwilling to back down from their respective positions, even it is to the detriment of the people they should be serving and representing in government.
As a tourist, it makes for a very pleasant stay in Bangkok. The hotel is nearly deserted, which means a very personalised service from all the staff. And the shopping malls are always empty, while outside at the rally sites there is no getting through with supporters of the opposition cheering and clapping while politicians with ugly faces and sly smiles belt off empty promises about all the things they will and will not do that make them so much more superior to the government currently in place…
I had a great time here in Bangkok and The Peninsula is simply a stunning hotel.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport: BMW 7
Departs from: Right outside the lobby
Frequency: What ever you do, if you’re travelling by car allow enough time for the horrific traffic
Journey time: 60 minutes, I leave the hotel at just after 09h00.
Originally there should have been a strike by Thai Airways today. But either they decided to call it off, given the already dire financial state the carrier is in, or they haven’t started yet. In any case, when I arrive in Suvarnabhumi it’s business as usual all round.
Location: Departures level on the fourth floor
Facilities: Check-in counter only, no machines
Counters: Dedicated Cathay Pacific counters
Again I was able to check-in online for this flight, once I received a notification e-mail form Cathay Pacific. Nonetheless, boarding pass collection will have to be done at the airport.
A representative from The Peninsula is already expecting me as the car pulls up outside the entrance for the Cathay Pacific check-in. He collects my bags and escorts me to the Business Class check-in counters and then from there to the premium lane for security and the passport control beyond.
Location: On the G concourse, third floor. After immigration turn right and keep on walking until you reach an intersection with some kind of Thai house standing in the middle. Turn right again and take the escalators going one floor down, which are located on your left side. At the bottom of the escalator, do a u turn and keep left until you see the cardboard flight attendant waving at you.
Type of Lounge: Cathay Pacific Airways lounge
Facilities: Public computers (Apple), no toilets
Internet: Free, unlimited WiFi; the password is available at the reception desk
The lounge is in the typical Cathay Pacific branding. The food selection is somewhat limited. I only had a light breakfast today, so I’m feeling rather peckish. Eventually I settle for the spicy Thai chicken green curry, which is indeed, very spicy and flavourful.
Originally the lounge is quite crowded, so I take a seat in the more private area. But then a short while later the flight to Hong Kong is called and I am able to move forward to the windows. Although of course it’s impossible to take pictures out of the lounge with those pesky dots all over the windowpanes.
The only problem with the lounge is that you can actually hear all the announcements that are being made outside, so it’s not really very tranquil inside. The Japanese gentleman in the back, who evidently has a preoccupation – let’s not call it an obsession – with his sinuses obviously doesn’t help matters. Fortunately though, I have my trusty earphones with me. And suddenly the world around me becomes a much nicer place, courtesy of some guy called Dre.
Priority Boarding: Separate airbridge to the L1 door for First and Business Class passengers
Boarding starts at around 12:10 and by 12:35 we’re already pushing back, ten minutes ahead of schedule. The flight is not full, there are only seventeen passengers in Business Class, so less than half full. And when I take a peek into Economy Class, that certainly doesn’t look full either.
Configuration: 2 + 3 + 2
Seat: Angled hard shell seat
Facilities: USB port and electricity outlet, overhead lamp, mobile phone holder
Audio and Video: Private touch screens, video on demand (no full length films, only TV programmes); earphones
Once more Cathay Pacific seems determined to surprise and amaze me – and succeeds! I enter the aircraft and turn right, to find that this bird is already equipped with the new regional Business Class cabin. And what a beautiful cabin it is! There are 36 seats in total. The colours and patterns used in the cabin are identical to those used in the long-haul cabin. In addition, there is a bronze coloured cushion at every seat which goes very well with the dark green upholstery.
The seat is very functional in it’s design and tries to maximise the available space for the passenger. The tray unfolds from the front seat and is rather large when it is fully extended. And I just love the iPhone holder with the wallpaper design.
There are two toilets for Business Class passengers. The forward one is on the left side, right by the L1 door and the rear one is on the right side, just behind the R2 door. And here too it shows how much thought has been put into the design of the cabin: the door to the forward toilet opens onto the entrance of the aircraft, so away from the passenger cabin, presumably to avoid any unsightly smells or views for the passengers sitting on the first row.
The crew on this flight are predominantly Thai and do an excellent job – just like the rest of their colleagues I have experienced on this trip.
The service on this flight is identical to the one a few days previously from Hong Kong to Bangkok: blankets, earphones, hot towels and welcome drinks are distributed. Although this time around there is no Oriental Breeze to choose from. I decide to go with the Orange juice.
Initially I’m on 14A. But then I am joined by a friendly, elderly, American gentleman who is trying to figure out why on earth I seem to be taking pictures of the entire cabin. So once boarding is completed I move back to the last row, 18A the only remaining window seat with an empty aisle seat next to it.
Hot Towels Before the Meal: Yes
Pre-meal drinks: Ginger Ale – no warm almonds this time
Choice: There are three non-vegetarian options – chicken, seafood or pork
Delivery: Tray service from trolley, the passengers can see all the meals that are available on the trolley
Appearance: Metal cutlery, crockery and glassware
Type of Meal: Lunch, hot meal
Menu: Separate menu and wine list
- Salad of duck breast with lychee
- A selection of breads – I have the garlic bread
- Stir-fry chicken with cucumber in sweet bean sauce, steamed jasmine rice, kailan and carrot flowers
- Chocolate Hägen Dazs ice cream
- Various teas and coffees
To be honest, I don’t really think I’m in a position to make a qualified judgement about the quality and taste of the food. I’ve now been travelling for a week. This is my fourth flight and I quite frankly, I can’t stand the sight and smell of another airline meal. So I accept the tray but eventually barely touch the food.
Instead I just sit back and enjoy the view.
In Singapore, Cathay Pacific Airways uses Terminal 1. The distance from the aircraft is relatively short, and fortunately there aren’t that many people queue for passport control. So immigration is quickly done. From there it’s just a short distance to the luggage reclaim belt, where the suitcases start arriving just as I reach the belt.