Report #20: MH783 - A taste of first class (at last)
This will be my report on flying on Malaysia Airlines business class from Bangkok BKK to Kuala Lumpur KUL, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia and a part of the 1 month trial of MH's new Airbus A350-900 planes before they are flown to London LHR, replacing their Airbus A380-800. This report will be slightly shorter than the earlier flight as I only had 2 lounges to test for the trip, but to made it up I also had the privilege to review the first class on the A350-900 during the flight.
Here are the 3 parts of the trip: KUL - BKK on Malaysia Airlines A350-900 business class: Read here BKK - KUL on Malaysia Airlines A350-900 business class (+ mid-flight first class review): You are here KUL - JHB on Malaysia AirAsia A320-200 economy class: Read here
The holiday season and the clearance from my supervisor for my final year project meant that it was possible for me to partake in this special trip - a taste of the new 359 for only RM930 (US$230) roundtrip in business class, which represented an excellent value for peak holiday season (in fact, that's only slightly more than flying the slightly shorter route between SIN and CGK roundtrip by GA in economy class).
This trip also provided a great second opportunity for me to experience MH and prove that they're not a shabby carrier, especially after I was openly questioned on board for taking photos for my earlier report on a much shorter route. Nobody in my family had tried them as they were scared of the high-profile incidents in the past, so when the time and cost are right I can suggest them to fly on MH.
One thing about MH for this trip is that while they had moved me back from first class to business class (not that I'm paying for first class) during check-in on my earlier flight, I tried my luck and even during web check-in I still could have the first class seat. Notice that I had ordered seafood meal and fortunately I was the first to check in for the trip.
Trip to BKK and check-in
As my hostel is located quite near to the Phaya Thai station, I had the option of either fully using the airport train or try the much cheaper, more unique way: combine airport train and local train. Instead of shelling out ฿45 (US$1.4), which is already cheap, this trip went further to as low as ฿20 (US$0.6).
There are not that many train services available, which means that you need to have a look at the train schedule to match with your planned departure time. The trip to the airport will go through the eastern line, and as the service is considered as 3rd class no advance online booking is possible or needed. The trip by local train should end at Lat Krabang, and afterwards you can connect to the airport train where the airport would be just 1 stop away. I planned on taking the 10.20 train, which was supposed to give me plenty of time in the airport lounges.
It was a manageable walk from the hostel to the train station. To go to the local train station, instead of going up to the BTS station continue walking to the railway crossing and turn left.
The train station only have some work plastic seats and not even a ticketing counter (the railway crossing officer asked me to pay at the train instead), like most people I opted to stand.
The train soon arrived.
Signboard of the train's route - the Bangkok letter there meant the Hua Lamphong station, the hub for most train services in Thailand.
The train's third class seats consist of padded fixed seats.
Views afforded by the train were less than ideal, but should be more representative of the area (?)
It was not until nearby Makkasan station that the conductor started to be seen nearby.
Some larger stations may have ticket offices, as seen from the train.
When the conductor came, I mentioned, "Lat Krabang", paid ฿5 (US$0.15), and were given the ticket - Thailand's third class trains are surprisingly very cheap.
After 40 minutes of ride I alighted at Lat Krabang station, which was more decent.
A ticket office is present.
The signboard says it all.
To proceed to the airport train station, as there was no dedicated crossing to the airport train station walk through the train crossing and turn right.
As if there wasn't enough climbing from the street level, to proceed to the platform a further flight of stairs was needed to go to the ticket concourse.
Lat Krabang is the last station from the city before the airport, which means that the ticket would only cost ฿15 (US$0.45) instead of ฿45 (US$1.4) from Phaya Thai station.
Like other airport train stations, there was a security check.
A view of the platform.
The train soon arrived, bearing the Barbie Visa debit card ad. I know I have my own cute debit card (rubber duck on water with some small love signs), but this one is on another level.
In less than 10 minutes I had arrived at the airport train station.
Nearby the train station people were queuing to exchange their money - with exchange rate that good it doesn't seem to be a big surprise.
FIDS of the afternoon.
At the departure floor, it was almost inhumanely crowded as there was a charter flight bound for Russia.
But then, it wasn't any less crowded in other parts of the airport ….
Except at the post office, of course, which was located at the far end of the check-in area. I sent 2 postcards to my friends overseas, which costed me ฿15 (US$0.45) each.
Yet another crowded check-in area.
VAT refund counter - as I didn't buy anything valuable (in fact, I only bought 4 postcards as souvenir for the entire trip) I didn't go there.
This was my first time arriving at such a crowded airport with only a single terminal, so that captures the scene pretty well.
I tried to check-in early for my flight and hoping to get access to the lounge soon. I queued for 15 minutes (the business class lane was even slower than the web check-in bag drop counter) only to be rejected, saying that I should check in at row G instead at 2.30 PM. I wasn't about to check any luggage, so that was very disappointing.
As I was in need of battery to work on my report, I opted to sit at the floor there and have my notebook charged.
At 2 PM I saw MH's signage being put there, so I waited there.
MH's signage and the overflowing queue.
The counters only started processing the large number of people waiting at 2.25 PM, and it took me an additional 15 minutes to have my check-in processed. I also checked for the load, and while the check-in staff was a bit confused at first she told me the load, which was pretty heavy.
I was handed the fast-track immigration card.
A lounge invitation card was also provided.
The boarding pass itself was slightly worse than the one printed at KUL (see the MH logo) but was still fine.
I proceeded to the departure immigration area.
The immigration for economy class passengers was quite crowded.
Instead, I proceeded to the priority immigration and security where I cleared both in 3 - 4 minutes.
The reentry ban was posted clearly after the immigration clearance.
The first sight after entering the transit area.
What follows is the lounge test for the Miracle Lounge and the Cathay Pacific Lounge - I had planned to visit the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge but it was unfortunately closed.
Lounge test #1: Miracle Business Class Lounge Concourse D
The lounge looked pretty new. After giving my boarding pass, passport, and lounge invitation card, I was let in. I also asked about the Louis Tavern lounge stated on my boarding pass, and they noted that they have since merged and changed under Miracle Lounge.
The Miracle Lounge is also a Priority Pass lounge.
Unlike other lounges, this lounge has a glass door after the reception.
The entrance of the lounge revealed some seats - since they totally lacked privacy I wonder who would be sitting there?
On the right side is mostly seating with light meals and halal option meals.
FIDS could be seen as well.
On the left side is the larger dining area.
I chose to sit at the slightly higher seating area as it was quite convenient to put my meals there (for the sake of review, of course). The seats' plugs are not universal plugs and seemed a bit inconvenient.
In terms of breakfast meals (even at late afternoon) they provide chicken sausage and scrambled eggs.
There is also some vegetable with prawn.
White rice and curry chicken was provided.
Chicken cream soup was available, though the fact that they used chicken sausage instead of chicken shreds seemed pretty blasphemous.
A pancake machine is also available, which makes one small pancake in one minute.
Their sole live station was shared between the business and first class lounge, but while it was self-order the meal would be carried by the lounge attendant.
Meals on offer on the live station, which was noodle soup, chicken rice, duck rice, and fried flat noodle.
Some condiments were also available.
Coffee machine, cereal, and pastries were available, with the warm pastries mainly consisting of puffs.
Several sandwich options were also provided.
Chilled salad and fruit sections were nearby.
The alcoholic drink offerings were quite fine for a contract lounge.
Non-alcoholic drinks, chilled wine, and beer were also available in the fridge.
First round of the meal, featuring the main buffet items and guava juice, which tasted ordinary. The pancake from the machine was also on the soggy side.
Second round of the meal, which was the duck rice. I couldn't help but to compare it with the ones in Singapore, and I noted that the rice was too dry and the presentation looked a bit on the sadder side.
I visited the halal section, which I found out during my second visit to the lounge. There was spaghetti with beef, which as I could recall was the only beef option available.
Instead of vegetables with prawns, they only had sauteed vegetable.
3rd round of meal during the second visit featuring meals from the halal section, which was pretty mediocre. Since sourcing halal chicken and prawn products shouldn't be difficult, why don't they make all the food options halal instead?
I proceeded to the shower, which entrance was behind the main entrance from either side of the lounge.
The common lavatory was fine.
Further inside is the shower, where there are 2 of them for each sex.
There were some amenities provided, but strangely enough no dedicated attendant was there.
Items checklist - since this is not a hotel how would they catch people bringing away towels and other items?
A dedicated closet and urinal was there - a closet is the norm, but a dedicated urinal seemed new.
Shower was pretty decent with relatively stable water flow and temperature, with shampoo and soap provided by the dispenser. The shower experience here would be equivalent to the one I had at the Plaza Premium Lounge in Singapore SIN as the better ones.
Crisp new towels were also ready for use at the rack.
I left the lounge to proceed to the Cathay Pacific Lounge before returning again.
BKK transit area
Entrance to the Miracle first class lounge.
I walked past the somehow quiet departure area.
While the airport's exterior may looked stunning, it posed some challenges to taking photos of the planes.
Bangkok Airways' lounge, which is also used by some Oneworld carrier.
Lounge directories of the airport.
I proceeded to concourse G to the Cathay Pacific Lounge.
Lounge test #2: Cathay Pacific Lounge
The signages at concourse G lead to the Cathay Pacific Lounge. Compared with the one at KUL, this one looked more elegant rather than cold.
The reception staff checked my passport and boarding pass, and I was let in.
The bar and most seating are on the right side, while the a la carte dining options and dining area are on the left.
There are several types of the seating, but the cocoon seat appealed strongly to me.
The seats offer almost unparalleled privacy and have personal reading lamp and table (though the table is a bit small). Furthermore, they also have universal plugs on the side of the seat, which is appreciated.
The seating in the dining area isn't less comfortable.
Business centre consisted of only Mac PCs.
Wi-Fi used the same SSID and password as the one in KUL.
Newspapers and magazines were available on different parts of the lounge.
In terms of light meals, they provide salad and fruits.
Mini burgers and crusted potato was there, although the mini burger wasn't especially appetizing.
A coffee machine is provided.
One knows it's not a mediocre lounge when it offers TWG tea, also offered in Singapore's business class, which in Singapore retailed for about S$1.7 (US$1.4) per teabag.
Basic drink options and some dessert were available at the fridge.
The Noodle Bar serve more substantial meals a la carte, where I ordered my meal(s) there, get a pager, and return to get the meal when the pager rings. I loved the concept, especially when done right, though it may be a bit less comfortable facing the same chef having quite some meals to make a review. The meal options were quite wide, which is appreciated.
At the dining area a smaller self-serve beverage station was available.
The options at the bar was no less substantial, and the fact that they have a bartender also help.
First round of the meal includes wonton noodle in soup, shrimp dumpling, and pork bun. While the wonton noodle was good, the dim sum offerings were ordinary and the numbered paper below the pork bun seemed to indicate that the dim sum offerings were bought elsewhere instead of made specifically for the lounge.
After the meal, I went to put my second order, but as the lounge got more crowded they couldn't handle them well one of the staffs addressed everyone to return in a few minutes.
Since I wasn't in an especially good mood due to the near chaos at the dining area, I then took the mini burger and crusted potato, which was mediocre - the crusted potato was a bit bland I had some chili sauce to cover up, which was again a bit salty. The number at the table was the pager replacement, since the queue had resulted in them running out of pager to issue.
Second round of the meal, which includes pad thai, shrimp and pork dumpling, and an erroneous additional order of pork bun (by that time I was already too full). I had eaten quite some pad thai while in Bangkok (though one acquaintance I met at the hostel said that there's nothing such as one too many pad thai), so while it was fine at the same time I noticed that it was way sweeter than usual.
Before I went to check the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge and return to the Miracle Lounge, I went to the toilet and while it looked nice no shower was available.
Lounge test verdict and departure
I wanted to try the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge, but unlike what was seen on the Oneworld website (24 hours) it was only open a few hours daily.
Both lounges are equally decent but for different purposes. I would strongly lean towards the Cathay Pacific Lounge when it comes to working and drinking, while when it comes to shower the Miracle Lounge is the only way to go. Therefore, my ideal itinerary would involve the Cathay Pacific Lounge to work and dine, and afterwards the Miracle Lounge for some light meals and a shower just before flight.
My flight was slightly delayed, so I stayed at the Miracle Lounge for a while.
The plane could be barely seen from the terminal.
I proceeded to the gate D6, which was just nearby the lounge.
There was a long queue of people waiting to have their boarding passes checked, and since there was no priority queue it took me 15 minutes to have mine checked and by that time boarding had already commenced for both classes.
The boarding gate had barely any facilities available.
As I could already board, I proceeded to the plane.
I soon proceeded to the plane, which happened to have the Wi-Fi on board sticker.
I was welcomed aboard and directed to the first aisle.
The row which this time was unfortunately not for me.
I proceeded further to the business class cabin.
The seat of the day was 8A, the last row in the first cabin.
When I departed I couldn't seem to understand people's laments over staggered seats since I got a rather wide footwell, but now that I have experienced a regular one I must say their concerns aren't unwarranted. If you are traveling solo next time on this plane type, consider taking the 9K - while economy class passengers may walk past by on boarding and is near to the galley it otherwise offers unparalleled space.
A blanket and pillow were already provided at the seat.
The non-noise cancelling headphone, which this time actually worked.
A view of the first business class cabin.
The space between the window and the window seats were quite sizable.
There was no secondary literature storage, but the side storage was still there.
Basic seat control was also available near the armrest.
The collapsible armrest
A better view of the narrow footwell.
Compare it with the one in 9K seat:
The inflight magazine was available.
An inflight duty free selection was available, but not offered during the flight.
Safety card and airsickness bag were located at the seat pocket, which made the card needed to be folded in two.
USB and AC power plugs were right above the side literature pocket.
As a non-bulkhead seat, the IFE screen was easier to reach.
A cold towel was soon offered.
The welcome drink followed soon after, and I opted for the apple juice.
We pushed back in a few minutes, which meant no more unsightly view of the aerobridge driver.
Newspapers were provided, and I picked The Star. The flight attendant recognized me from my previous trip, and afterwards I asked her if it would be possible to have a look at the first class seat later on, to which she said that she would ask the purser.
The cabin was slightly dimmed for taxi.
Some last views of BKK.
Safety video was played - notice how the 359's winglets got exchanged with 737 NG's.
A WE A320 passing by.
MH group's fleet - I had flown on their 359 and 738, so what's next?
Some views during taxi.
Even with DMK being opened they couldn't handle the amount of traffic at BKK well, so they better get a new terminal soon.
We took off a few minutes later after clearing the queue.
Here is the video for the takeoff:
Some views during the climb, which was pretty smooth.
While waiting for the dinner service to commence, I tried to recline my seat where the footwell lamp was dimmed and then turned off after a certain recline.
The meal service started to commence from the front rows.
Instead of running out of options, while the trolley on my side was still at the front rows a flight attendant came from the galley and served me the seafood meal I ordered.
The lid indicated my special meal option.
When the trolley reached my row, another flight attendant offered me a selection of breads, which I took the garlic bread again.
The trolley carries the meal tray (inside), main course options (foil wrapped), and some drink options.
Following is the seafood meal menu for the flight: Appetizer: Smoked salmon potato salad Bread: Bread basket Main course: Sweet and sour prawn with rice and steamed bok choy and carrot Dessert: <not sure what it is - can someone please describe it to me?> with pearl sago, strawberry slice, and gula melaka Drink: Fruit juice / coffee / tea / water
While I didn't have a look at the others' meals (I was in single seat), the flight attendant manning the trolley told me the main course choices for the day were: - Hainanese roasted chicken rice, - Beef rendang with sayur lodeh (vegetables with thick coconut milk soup), or - Vermicelli with prawn.
To start, the smoked salmon starter tasted fine except that the salmon was too tough and thick - that could have been easily the thickest cut of smoked salmon I've ever had. My review to the bread was same as before: not served warm and a bit soggy while tasted acceptable. In terms of the main, the portion was decent, the prawn quite sizable and juicy, while the vegetable seemed slightly better than on the earlier flight. To end, the dessert was once again pretty good and surprisingly local. While I wouldn't rate it as the best meal in the sky I've ever had (mine would be on my KLM flight from Denpasar DPS to Singapore SIN - the meal beautifully captured the flavours of both countries of the route (i.e. Singapore and Indonesia)), it's still nonetheless a strong contender.
After the meal I went to the lavatory, which was again clean and well-maintained but a bit on the narrower side.
At that point, I decided to just listen on Beethoven's Missa Solemnis conducted by Harnoncourt, a staple classical choral music on IFEs.
MH 359 first class review
One of the flight attendants (who as I mentioned earlier also served me on the previous flight) told me that she had asked to her purser and gave me the permission to have a look at their first class seat - this is an especially interesting opportunity as other reviews I had read seemed to be able to only have a look at it on arrival. That, therefore, also meant that I was a bit in a rush and some photos may be blurry. Did I also say other reviews are on video as well?
At first the engineer was there to accompany me, but later on a flight attendant also joined to explain the features of the seat to me - as she requested not to have her photos taken no photo included her.
The cabin is a very small one at only 4 seats, and while there are overhead luggage bins on both sides, another item is placed above the seat 1D/G's ottomans.
The seat comes with a door and is semi-automatic, although like DL's 359 Delta One they do not fully close.
Flight attendants can use the silver button to enable or disable the door closing function.
Upon entering the seat the first thing you notice is the storage and seat control, both of which are away from the door.
Unlike in business class, the seat control's position makes it harder to accidentally press on. The first indicator is to control the side lamp while the second one is perhaps to control the lamp near the IFE screen.
The IFE remote control when turned on - I remember I had one in QR 787 economy class, so why don't even MH have one back in business class and reserve it for first class?
Since there is practically no exposed storage in the seat, the storage right beside the seat also has water bottle and another (perhaps eyeglasses? Reminds me of the one in my barber shop) holder.
I accidentally opened the side storage at the seat the engineer sat, which revealed her handphone.
Another highlight from the seat is the side lamp, which I loved for being nicely embedded into the seat
Reading lamp is available for use by pushing the lamp.
The second and third door revealed the table, second small storage, and third larger storage which could almost fit a carry-on bag. To take the table, push the table inside then pull it, which the push sign made me slightly confused as the push could be also meant as push to the side. A part of the wall between the table and seat will also open to accommodate the table.
The table is pretty heavy to lift and I was a bit clueless about it the engineer helped me to take it out, but the swivel mechanism is pretty sturdy.
The third storage area, which is located by the ottoman.
Opposite the third storage a literature pocket is present, where the safety card, magazine, and life vest are located.
Near the third storage there is another literature pocket with a lamp underneath for seats 1D/1G.
Instead of the additional pocket, the window seats feature two electronically adjustable window blind.
One closed and one opened window for comparison - the blind folded when opened instead of fully pushed like in business/economy class.
The ottoman wasn't equipped with a seat belt, of which the flight attendant explained that it was because the ottoman was placed quite low and pretty narrow (the ottoman curves towards the front aisle). I also told her of DL's 359 Delta One featuring the same kind of seat (Vantage XL), though she was a bit clueless about it.
The IFE screen is quite big and touch-responsive, but as I had my fair share of being confused with IFE remote control/screen (in fact, I use a quite large handphone and had never owned a BlackBerry during its heyday in Indonesia simply because my fingers are a bit on the larger side) I would still prefer the business class screen.
I have 4 photos taken of me in seat 1K where I initially chose during web check-in - who take better photos on board? The engineer asked me if I would want to have my photo taken on the first class seat, to which I agreed. The seat is pretty comfortable, but I was too excited for that opportunity.
When the flight attendant came she also asked the same thing, to which I agreed again - in some way this made up me rejecting the flight attendant's invitation to have a photo of me taken on my first trip on a proper business class.
In terms of the lavatory, they are mostly the same as business class lavatory.
The sole difference is the space, where the first class lavatory is wider.
Nearing the end of the visit, the flight attendant asked me if I had already got my fair share of trying their first class, to which I said yes, thanked her and the engineer, and then escorted back to my seat via business class galley.
On overall, I would rate MH's 359 first class seat as a very good business class seat - while it is more spacious and feels elegant this seat seems like a more spacious version of DL's 359 Delta One. It's not game-changing, but at least let's hope that the soft product will make up for the otherwise inferior seat as they claim.
On board - continued
As the plane had started its descent, my headphone was already taken away during my first class review.
A video of KUL was then displayed, including an advertisement of the very expensive KLIA Ekspres.
A promotional video of Malaysia was also displayed.
The engineer addressing the passenger in front of me - there were some problems with his seat belt and IFE earlier on which made him to request to be seated nearer to the front where another male who traveled with him was seated or even moved to first class, so I counted myself lucky I could wander around in the first class area for 10 - 15 minutes without him asking to do it as well. Plus, there must be an actual reason why an engineer is stationed during the trial period - ironing out the issues before complaints come from those paying much more than me for the trip to London LHR and some other destinations.
I also used the Wi-Fi again, which was reasonably fast and ran out of data just in time during descent (I used the US$ 1 plan again like on my previous flight).
Some otherwise really nice views of Kuala Lumpur - wished they would dim the lamp sooner so I could capture it better.
I also had my fair share of IFE freezing for a few minutes, but just let it be as I only wanted to look at their inflight map.
The closet right beside my seat, which also doubled as bag storage as the overhead bins were quite full.
As the IFE had responded again, I opted to see the map.
During descent, the lamp was only slightly dimmed using the mood lighting.
Views nearing final approach.
We landed in a few minutes, which was smooth and noticeably quiet.
Our windows turned misty after landing, which didn't help to take photos of the outside during taxi.
Attempts to take photos turned up to be like this, which was not presentable.
Last views of the cabin, which sadly marked the end of this business class trip.
I exited the plane through the first door where the purser apologized for not being able to introduce the first class to me and asked if the other had done it well, to which I said yes, thanked her, and left.
Arrival at KUL and post-arrival trip
Strangely enough, the plane arrived at the satellite terminal instead of the main terminal (the 9M-MAB is deployed to Penang PEN as well, which makes more sense for it to be parked at the main terminal)
I proceeded to the Cathay Pacific Lounge, but as I was an arriving passenger I was unfortunately denied entry.
Since the people mover had just departed, I wanted to try taking the bus to go to the main terminal, which was mostly occupied by staffs.
The views were more interesting than the people mover, though the photo quality was unfortunately not too good.
The bus also passed the tunnel underneath the taxiway, which is beside the one for the people mover.
After I returned to the terminal, I went to the Regional Golden Lounge hoping to get access as well. The lounge supervisor then asked for my connecting flight, which as it was on AirAsia I was therefore unable to enter.
After finding no place to have a rest and get a power plug, I proceeded to the arrival hall.
Walkway to the immigration counters.
The counters were quite crowded, however I was cleared in 2 minutes thanks to my business class ticket.
Views of the duty-free stores
Immigration counters from behind.
Warnings were posted.
The arrival hall was quite crowded as well.
KLIA Express' VIP service TV, which is used instead of having someone stationed outside the customs all day long.
I went through the customs and I was let go.
Where airport taxi counter met Grab and Uber advertisements.
There were already a lot of people waiting for passengers outside.
I then took the free shuttle bus to KLIA2 to spend my night there. During the trip I was talking to a person who was in fact an off-duty customs officer from the main terminal.
Bonus: Maeklong Railway by train
Around 70 km away from Bangkok there is a market known for the railway passing right in the market. 8 times daily (4 times each way) a train would pass through the market where sellers gave way to the train before returning to business as usual. Most others would travel from Bangkok to see the sight by car or minivan, but as the train itself is the one that matters taking it is the way to see from the other side (did I also say it's much cheaper as well?)
Bonus : Click here displayhide
I departed from my hostel at around 4.45 AM using a taxi to catch the 5.30 AM train from Wongwian Yai Stn (not Bangkok/Hua Lamphong Stn as this runs on a completely separated line) to Mahachai Stn, but even so by 5 AM I have seen a market being opened.
I went to the ticket counter to buy my ticket, which costed me ฿10 (US$0.3) to Mahachai Stn.
A view of the station.
The train soon arrived and I boarded it.
The train qaa very basic, but since it was early morning I didn't need much comfort either. I only saw a handful of other foreign-looking parties on the train while the rest is simply Thais.
I arrived at Mahachai Stn, the terminus for the first part of the trip.
A short walk then led to the boat pier, where it costed only ฿3 (US$.09) to cross the river.
The boat was very basic, but it's only for a few minutes so I couldn't complain
After reaching Ban Laem on the their side of the river, I proceeded straight to the railway station. The road may feel very quiet, but that is normal.
One of the train cars - the train set have 2 cars each, so one of the 4 cars in the line is unused to form a 3-cars configuration.
The platform which also double as kiosks.
The station itself is fairly small.
The train station signboard.
Our train to Maeklong soon arrived.
The interior was pretty much the same.
A view of the driver area, which has shown its age.
The view during the trip were mostly of rural areas.
I thought I could escape the huge crowd by arriving early (as a matter of fact, less than 10 tourists departed there by train), but I was proven totally wrong: there were already a lot of people ready to take photos of the train.
Even more people were there as we approached the market.
Tents were put away to let the train pass, 8 times a day. In the meanwhile, some people even waved to us as the train passed by.
During the journey through the market, an official volunteer guided the train while ensured that tourists and stalls gave way to the train, but even so the train still used its horn a lot. The peak of the crowd was nearby the train station where people simply waited at the front of the Maeklong train station before they were asked to give way to the train.
I alighted at the train station, which is also the terminus of the line.
I had my breakfast at the chicken rice stall beside the station, which was ordinary.
The market itself was nothing special beside the train, and in fact was uncomfortably narrow to pass as the railway uses meter gauge. I then bought some unseeded jackfruit for my snack on my way back.
As I figured out I better work on my previous trip report, I took the next available train back.
The ticket inspector was checking the tickets. I then asked if it would be possible to go to the drivers area to take pictures, to which he asked if I was going to Bangkok, and after saying yes I was let in. On this occasion, however, I was the only passenger at the drivers area, which afforded an excellent view.
The same people who waited to see us pass had come again to see the train depart.
A video of the train passing by the market from inside can be seen here:
The ticket back to Ban Laem also costed ฿10 (US$0.3).
A clearer view of the seat.
After a boat ride back, I took the 10.40 AM train back to Wongwian Yai Stn.
The train passed through a very small station - where there was no ticket counter people can simply pay to the conductor.
After some delay, I arrived again at Bangkok to return to my hostel and work on my flight report.
In total, the train and boat rides costed me ฿46 (US$1.38) roundtrip, a very far cry compared with a trip of the railway market and floating market nearby (I know I skipped it) which as posted in my hostel costed ฿800 (US$24) using shared van. I would say that taking the train is a much better way to go: significantly cheaper and still decent enough.
Cathay Pacific Lounge
Bangkok - BKK
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
When my worst flight experience was on MH half a year ago where I got openly questioned on board, I didn't decide that it would be on my no-fly list, and I'm pretty glad I didn't. Instead of having the crew who another flight reporter commented as "... their attitude were bad on treating domestic passengers.... like they are serving bus passengers.", the crews on this flight and the earlier flight exceeded my expectation by a long shot. Getting access to the first class mid-flight is one thing, but to have one who remembered my previous flight, was quite proactive during the service, and accompanied me during my first class visit makes the trip a much more memorable one. I'm not sure if they are the ones who otherwise serve the long-haul flights, but if the long-haul crews are like them that would be a good start.
The business class product itself was a treat to fly on given the low fare, so I wouldn't hesitate on flying with them again in the future. Unfortunately, the experience started with a very unpleasant airport at BKK where long lines and huge crowds are rampant. Now that I had flown from both airports in Bangkok, I can say that both are equally bad.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable price (MYR930 (US$230) roundtrip) + Reasonably priced transfer from city to BKK + Acceptable priority security and immigration at BKK + Decent airport lounges at BKK + Rather new aircraft + Individual air nozzles provision + Reasonably wide IFE options + Attentive and personable flight attendants + Acceptable seafood meal + Additional main course options for normal meal + Mid-flight first class tour + Fast immigration and customs at KUL + Free interterminal shuttle provision at KUL
Things that can be improved: - Huge crowds at BKK - Inability to do early check-in - Long check-in queue (even for business class) - Long boarding pass check queue - Narrow footwell - Elbow issues with the main seat control panel - Seat and IFE issues by other passenger - Lack of alcoholic beverage options - Lack of peanut service
Next report: AK A320 short-haul economy class (back to square one + fastest flight with nasi lemak?)
7 LIKESLIKE TO THANK THE AUTHORTHANKS ! FLIGHT-REPORT LIKED
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