He who eats alone chokes alone. ~Proverb

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles sweet spots

Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles program recently had a devaluation / readjustment, and there are some interesting sweet spots to be had with the new distance bands.

Sweet spots are redemptions that come in at the upper limit of a distance band, making them good value redemptions for that particular band, in terms of distance flown / Asia Mile.

In the case of Asia Miles, the band limits are 2,750, 5,000 and 7,500 miles. There isn't a large difference between the Asia miles costs for the 7,500 and 7,500+ mile bands, hence we'll focus mainly on the 2,750 and 5,000 mile bands.

As always, redemptions should be made for business-class and above, as the various fees and surcharges generally make economy class redemptions poor value for money.

1-way redemptions are particularly good value, as these tend to be exorbitantly expensive.

1.) Penang - Hong Kong - Jeju / 2,575 miles / 10,000 Asia Miles + RM283 each way on Cathay Dragon economy-class

Ok I know I said it's not worth it to redeem miles on economy-class flights, but this is actually not a bad deal. It's a single stop flight to Jeju (for all you Winter Sonata fans) and it normally costs RM2,700.

The downside is that you need to stay overnight in HKIA on the return leg, which will cost an extra RM250 on a twin share basis. Adding this RM250 to the RM566 in fees means that you're getting RM2,700 - RM816 = RM1,884 in value from the 20,000 Asia Miles, or over 9 cents per mile, a very decent amount.

2.) Colombo - Doha - Milan / 4,952 miles / 50,000 Asia Miles + ~RM500 each way on Qatar Airways business-class

This flight is really at the upper end of the distance band! You'll have to make your way to Colombo but both MAS and Malindo fly there for very reasonable rates. The payoff is a stopover in Sri Lanka and nearly 12 hours in Qatar Airways business class to Milan.

You can also route to Zurich, Rome, Munich, Vienna or Prague for roughly the same costs. Cities further west like London or Paris are out because the distance would exceed 5,000 miles.

If you prefer not to stop over in Sri Lanka, Penang (or KL) to anywhere in Europe via Doha will cost 70,000 miles each way.

3.) Penang - Doha - Amman / 4,515 miles / 55,700 Asia Miles + ~RM500 each way on Qatar Airways business-class.

Jordan is usually a very expensive place to get to, but that's irrelevant when you're paying with miles! This is a great route, as you get to fly direct from Penang to Doha on Qatar Airways before connecting to Amman.

Interestingly enough, Qatar sells certain regional business-class routes as first class. The seat is the same but you get access to the exclusive Al-Safwa lounge. DOH-AMM is one of these routes so you'll get access to this amazing looking lounge.

4.) Australia - Hong Kong - America / 7,500+ miles / 85,000 Asia Miles + RM??? each way on Cathay Pacific business-class.

This is probably the best value redemption available, but you will need a whopping 170,000 Asia Miles for a return trip. However, you'll be able to fly from anywhere in Australia to anywhere in North America, all on Cathay's longhaul business class.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

MH A330 Incheon to Kuala Lumpur in business class

During the MH Deepavali sale, I saw that business-class return tickets from Penang to Incheon, South Korea, were RM3000 per person. After a bit of thought (around 5 seconds), I grabbed tickets for Ash and I for a spontaneous holiday with RJ.

1.) It credits 360 tier points to our BA status, getting us BA Silver / Oneworld Sapphire after our family holiday to Paris next year. This is quite a big deal, as it allows us to access any Oneworld business-class lounge, even on Economy class, along with Priority Check-in and Priority Boarding.

2.) We've never been to Seoul.

3.) RM3000 is REALLY cheap for business class seats. Especially since MH has recently overhauled their dated cabin.

The plane we flew on was the A330-300, with the new business class seats. These seats can be both very good or very bad, depending on the location within the cabin.

1K, also known as the "Throne" seat, is by far the best, featuring copious amounts of storage space, excellent leg room and privacy.

1A, 1D and 1G are close runner ups. They have the same amount of leg room but less storage and privacy.

You can see the massive amount of leg room here :

And after becoming a full-flat bed:

MH business class's signature dish is the satay, and you can request for multiple servings if you so wish.

The starter of Scallop Salad was pretty decent too.

That was followed by garlic bread and bun:

Unfortunately, after this is where MH screwed up. Ah well, it wouldn't be MH if they didn't screw up somewhere!

I ordered a Beef Kalbi with rice dish from the Chef on Call menu, but they gave me a vegetarian option instead. Thankfully, the very nice stewardess managed to scrounge up a Halibut dish for me, which was ok.

The yucky vegetarian option:

The replacement Halibut dish:

Ash's Beef Tenderloin dish was excellent though, so do go for that if you fly from Incheon.

Haagen Daaz ice cream for dessert:

Overall, it was an excellent flight, with attentive and polite service from the cabin crew, a lovely full-flat bed and decent food. I'd hesitate to pay full price for MH, especially if its Asian rivals are selling for around the same price. But when it's only half the price of CX or SQ, it really is a no-brainer.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Why British Airways Executive Club might be the best Frequent Flier program for not-that-frequent fliers (residing in Malaysia).

There are a couple of caveats that apply:

A.) If you own, or are able and willing to apply for Maybank 2 Cards Premier, you would be better off with Cathay or SQ. You can earn around 1 mile per RM1 spent, but they only transfer to Enrich, Asia Miles or Krisflyer.

B.) If you fly to Australia a lot, Qantas would serve you better as it would be easier to move up the tiers. Qantas miles do not expire as long as you have activity in your account in an 18-month period, making them a good

The reasons:

1.) As long as there is some activity in your Avios account, the expiration date of ALL Avios will be pushed back another 3 years.
This is the #1 reason why you should consider BAEC for your FFP. Almost all other FFP miles will expire 2-3 years or so from the date they are awarded. For many Malaysians, it could be very difficult to accumulate sufficient miles for an award flight before they expire.

"Activity" could be anything. You could fly Penang to KL on MAS and credit that measly amount of miles (202!) to your BAEC account and that would work.


2.) They are part of the Oneworld alliance.
As Malaysians, more likely than not we'll be flying MAS or another Asian airline like Cathay, JAL or Qantas. Being part of Oneworld means that you can credit miles from flights of partner airlines to your BAEC account.

Unfortunately, notable omissions include SQ, Thai, ANA and EVA, which are all part of Star Alliance. However, SQ has been quite expensive of late and EVA is not that convenient for Malaysians. ANA is not that much better than JAL. 

We fly MAS quite a lot and their business class is an excellent product for the price. Just recently we managed to snag PEN-KUL-ICN return tickets for only RM3k! This also contributed a whopping 360 tier points to our BAEC tier level.

3.) Their award chart is decent

They are on par with Cathay and  cheaper than SQ or MAS. JAL has by far the cheapest award chart in OW, but unless you fly a lot your miles might expire before you get to redeem a flight. And if you're flying enough to make JAL worth it, then you shouldn't be reading this post :P.

BA also has by far the CHEAPEST short-haul award flights, starting at only 4500 Avios for trips of less than 650 miles. By comparison, MAS charges 9000 EnrichMiles for <500 miles while Cathay charges 10000 AsiaMiles for <600 miles.

This makes BAEC ideal for short hops around Europe or Japan, as these flights tend to be short distance but rather expensive.

4.) You can set up a Household Account

BAEC allows you to add your kids/parents/grandparents to your account and claim their miles as your own. Perfect for family holidays.


5.) You don't have to fly BA
This one is non-intuitive. BA is generally regarded as having terrible service and seats in Economy. However, just because you're on the BAEC does not mean that you have to fly them! You can spend the miles on any OW partner airline.

However, you can get a 15% discount on miles required by flying BA during offpeak seasons, which can be useful.

6.) If you do fly BA, you can upgrade from Business to First for very little.

Although BA Economy and Business class is generally regarded as quite terrible, the First class has gotten very decent reviews.

A one way upgrade from Business to First only costs 31,500 to 35,000 Avios for Kuala Lumpur - London Heathrow; not bad at all!

7.) BA will hold your tier status for a year if you have a baby

Lastly, if you do have a new baby, you can submit a request to BA to extend your current tier level for another year. This is a nice touch since it is unlikely that you will be travelling as much with a newborn.


For in-depth discussion and analysis of the program, these 2 threads contain excellent information:


All charts credit to Prospero on the Flyertalk forums.

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I-See-U-Nuggets and Cardboard Meatballs

The Cat and Bear ish back!

Lots of pictures from our eating trips and it is all awaiting Lazy Cat to take a break from World of Warcraft to do his share of writing and editing.

First up, another NEVER AGAIN.

Where: Cinema Concession Stand, Gurney Plaza

Opening Time: Look in the newspaper for the earliest and latest shows. That should be their Opening and Closing hours.

BEAR: Yet another outing with Sister Bear that ended up with horrible food. Not sure if Sister Bear has bad luck or bad taste.

Went to watch Hunger Games and Sister Bear decided that she was hungry. She wandered to the nearest kiosk and promptly got herself a box or meatballs and some nuggets.

Sister Bear likes nuggets.

Came back to kiosk with a pitiful face. The 4 meatballs and 6 pieces of nuggets cost her a total of RM11+. Bear forgot the actual amount since Bear wasn't paying.

Bears decided to "tax" Sister Bear's nuggets and regretted it, it was not only oily but it has a hole inside! How interesting, a hollow nugget. How do they do that?! 

It is a nugget that all girls out there on a diet should eat. It tells your brains that you have eaten 6 full nuggets when you actually just ate about half the amount! Genius!

Behold World, Hungry Bear and Cat presents, the Nug Hole. Named after the Nugget's Nug and Doughnut's hole.

I seeeee youuuu~

                                                                                       I seeeee youuuu too~

Ahh meatballs. Bear's favourite. From the outside, it strangely looks very dry and flavorful. But looks can be deceiving right? In this case, it was WRONG!

It was dry alright with a weird not-very-meatball-like-texture that strangely reminds Bear of a cross between a meatball and cardboard.

 It's not the type of cardboard used to ship TVs  but rather the cheap cardboard they use to pack your food in. The kind that half disintegrates while you are only half way home kind. 

By the time you reach home, the box would have usually absorbed all the oil/ sauce and is now leaking through the corners and no longer resembles a box.

Yeshuuu, that kind.

The meatballs taste as if it was made with a little meat, a little cardboard and a whole lot of MSG. but there's nothing a gallon of chili sauce can't help right?

Partially right.

It made it bearable but Bear thinks that even Gordon Ramsay would not have been able to save these meatballs.

God Save The Meatballs!

Bear suggests that if you are hungry, just save yourself some money and stuff yourself silly with the popcorn. At least those are good.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mugshot Cafe @ Chulia Street

Best in town for: Oven baked Bagels

Worst in town for: Lack of places to sit

Opening times:
Monday to Sunday
8.00 am to 9.00 pm

302 Chulia Street
10200 Penang

BEAR: Chulia Street has always been famous to Bear for one thing, and it's not a good thing. When the night comes, "girls" will be out on a hunt.  

This Bear likes Bagels. There was even a time when my lovely Cat would buy me bagels from Rainforest Bakery before fetching me from work on Fridays, it has now been replaced with Roasted Chestnuts @ Penang Road but the Bagels are still my favourite. 

The oven which they use to bake bagels

The chairs and tables are probably raided from a school and reminds Bear of Bear's Primary School years with the tiny wooden chairs and tables. The part Bear mostly remembers is when there is a gap between the chair and Bear's butt gets caught in it. Just thinking about it makes me cringe! Bear thinks all the females would remember the feeling but the guys probably wouldn't since they wear pants.

Mugshot Cafe's bagels are from Rainforest Bakery, conveniently located next door. The bagels in Mugshot cafe are oven baked, which means they come out slightly crispy on the edges yet soft and fluffy on the inside.

There is not much fillings for the bagels for now but Bear's favourite is the Bacon and Egg Bagel (without mayo) and the Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon Bagel (without the cream cheese). 

Bacon and Egg Bagel (RM10)

Coffee is good but a little too 'kaw'(strong) for this Bear. Bear doesn't want to be hairier than Cat, so usually I don't order this. (There is a joke that strong coffee puts hair on your chest)

CAT: Good bagels are very very hard to find in Penang. Actually, good bread in general is hard to find in Penang, and I am very pleased that  Mugshot Cafe / Rainforest Bakery is good at both!  

The Bacon & Egg Bagel is also my favorite, a delicious treat for when we want to have a light brunch. It is rather expensive at RM10 though, so we don't really come here often. That being said, the high price doesn't seem to deter Penangites, as Mugshot Cafe is always, always full of  customers. 

The assorted yogurts are also quite popular with the crowd, coming in a variety of flavours. However, they are quite expensive at RM10 each, but again, this doesn't seem to stop the customers from ordering it by the bucketload.

Kiwi and Honey Yogurt (RM10)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Japan trip - Mount Koya

BEAR: Visiting Koya-san was one of the biggest highlights of the trip. Koyasan or Mount Koya is located is in the South of Osaka. It's roughly about one and a half hours from Osaka via train. It's also the place where Shingon Buddhism was found by a monk named Kukai. 

Cat marked Koyasan as a must visit because of the view and also because he wanted to visit the mausoleum of his hero, Oda Nobunaga which was in Okunoin which is literally a graveyard.

There is no fancy-smeancy hotel there but you can find lodging in hostels or temples. We decided to stayed at the Shojoshin-in temple. It's roughly about 10,000 yen per person per night. My initial thought about visiting Koyasan wasn't very good. I did not understand why the temple charged by the person and not by the room and the fact that it was bloody expensive.

Our super comfy futons

Our room has no lock, has a sink but no toilet bowl, 2 futons on the floor, a kerosene heater that smells of kerosene, a kotatsu, 2 yukatas and a fantastic view.

We left our shoes outside the temple in a wooden shoe rack. The shoes froze overnight, and when we put them on the next morning,  so did our toes!

Cat hiding under the kotatsu

The room was incredibly wide and spacious which was nice but the toilet located outside was a bit of a hassle considering that it was 5 degrees Celsius in our room and about 0 degrees in the hall. The toilet bowls were wonderfully heated, thank God.

The view outside our room

I wanted to see snow, and Cat showed me a blizzard. It was extremely cold for me as I was used to having 30 degrees Celsius almost all year round. I bundled up like a very fat bear and waddled about, the gloves making me unable to pull my fallen bra strap up without difficulty.

Dinner was at 5:30pm but we decided to have something to eat about 1:00pm, considering we're up in a mountain and not many restaurants were open, we popped into a small one-woman show restaurant and I ordered the curry soba.

Our meal arrived in less than 5 minutes and tasted so good. The bowl was big enough for me to dunk my entire head in, seriously! And the price? Freaking reasonable. This huge bowl of curry soba cost  under 700 yen!

After lunch, we went for a walk to visit the famous Okunoin and the Kongobu-ji, the head temple of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism.

In winter time, Okunoin looks so hauntingly beautiful. It was a lovely walk. The snow got heavier as we went along.

A super cool looking grave I couldn't resist taking a picture of. Anyone know to whom it might belong to?

The mausoleum of the great oda Nobunaga. I expected it to be much fancier and bigger :P

On our way back

When dinner time came, I found out why it cost us 10,000 yen per person per night.

We had tofu made from sesame giving it a very smooth yet sticky and firm texture; very much like jelly. Fried tempura, sweet grilled beans, mushroom soup.

On the other side was dessert of apples, oranges and strawberry along with a bowl of boiled pumpkin, pea, mushroom, more tofu and lotus root. We also had a strange ginger soup. The dessert above was actually a sweetened, preserved(?) orange and sweet potato. The sakura patterned dessert was something I have no idea what is was. It was slightly sourish and very crunchy and slimy.

Dinner was all vegetarian food and it was out of this world. The food were tasty, super fresh and they paid so much details to the food that it was a sin not to take pictures first. I polished off atleast 3 bowls of rice that night.

Yes, we had to be up by 6:30am in the morning. We had 10 minutes to get up and ready at the sound of a gong. The kerosene heater was extremely smelly and we decided not to turn it on. We slept together in a futon and combined our blankets together. All in all, we had 4 blankets, 2 water bottles and each other to hug. At about 5:30am, Cat woke up and turned on the heater.

It was a long walk to the Main Hall and it was extremely cold. During the ceremony where we had to kneel on the floor, sitting next to the heater didn't help much either.

All I wanted was breakfast, I couldn't wait for the chanting to be over and go eat. Breakfast is understandably less fancy but still as good.

We have fried tofu, sweet beans, seaweed, and vegetables along with a miso soup. So was it worth the 10,000yen?

Many times yes! It was a fantastic experience despite having my toes frozen and painful, bathing in a public bath at night with 0 degrees temperature, painful slipper, water so cold you can't wash your hands under the tap for 3 seconds, and the smell of kerosene and etc. It was wonderful and I strongly recommend this to anyone who's going to Osaka. Make the effort to visit Koya-san. You won't regret it!

Japan trip - Nara

CAT: Nara was once the capital of ancient Japan, but now it's famous for the Todaiji, where the Great Buddha resides. It's a short hop from Kyoto, just 30 mins, and you can either go by JR Railways or Kintetsu Railways. The JR station is closer to the hotels, while the Kintetsu station is closer to the Todaiji, so I would recommend Kintetsu if you're just taking a day-trip from Kyoto. 

"Human! Got any food?"

Nara is also famous for its deer, who are totally unafraid of humans, and will even chase you if you have food on you!

We saw a fruit seller about to close her store for the day. Thinking that we might be able to score some bargains, we popped inside. She was selling beautiful Fuji apples, but we were puzzled - some were selling for 300 yen each, while others were selling for only 100 yen each. When questioned, she replied that the 100 yen ones were "damaged". Upon closer inspection, they had the tiniest of bruises. We promptly bought 2. 

100 yen each, normally 300 yen.

Beware of deer

While walking towards the Todaiji, Bear and I saw a Yaki-imo (sweet potato) seller. It smelled rather good so we bought one, not knowing that the price was 1000 yen!!! (I'd foolishly assumed that a sweet potato would only cost 200 yen or so). Evidently we had been caught in a tourist trap. It was amazing though, sweet, tasty, HUGE, definitely the best I'd ever eaten.

1000 yen yaki-imo

BEAR: The sweet potato ended up drawing a huge crowd of deers to us later on...


The Todaiji was until recently, the largest wooden building in the world, and it is an incredible sight. It's even more amazing when you discover that the original Todaiji burned down in an earthquake, and the current one is 30% smaller than the previous one!

Greedy pig deers.

The Sika deers roam freely in the compounds and damn they are greedy little things! The smell of the Fuji apples and sweet potato whipped them into a frenzy and I ended up being harassed. After refusing to feed a deer anymore, it headbutted me, wiped its wet, dirty nose on various spots of my coat, tried to eat my scarf and coat and chased me!!

Hero Cat ended up coming to my rescue by shoo-ing them away with his laptop bag.

For lunch, we stopped at Nakau, which is a chain of restaurants you'll see almost anywhere. The below picture was taken from the Google Streetview of Nara, as I didn't take any pictures of the outside. This one is located just in front of JR Nara Station. Bear loves the Beef Curry Udon here, a bargain at only 490 yen.

Beef Curry Udon - 490 yen (Bear's favorite!!)