Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Route: Munich - Bangkok | Phuket - Bangkok - Munich
Date: June 2011
One month ago we decided to visit Thailand, so this was a good way to spend some US miles. As the difference between First and Business was small, we went for Thai First for the first time. We also thought about flying from Paris and trying the suites, but connection flights from Munich didn't fit our schedule, so we took the nonstop flight from Munich.
We arrived at the airport early, so there was plenty of time for check in which went smoothly. We had already reserved our seats so there was just the boarding pass to be printed. Our luggage got tagged with "priority" and got the typical golden Thai First tags.
Afterwards we went to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge (the other one was being renovated). Nothing special to write about. The choice of food was a bit limited, soup, some strange looking greasy "Leberkäse" (German meat loaf), bread. WLAN didn't work out. We went to the gate in time and could board quickly through an extra gangway used for First and Business Class. On board we were greeted with name and led to our seats. Immediately a glass of champagne and hot towels were offered. At the seat, a huge dow pillow, a yellow thin blanket (polyester), noise cancelling headphones in a box, a Rimowa inflight amenity kit (dark blue) and board slippers were already waiting. The flight attendant offered violet pyjamas in size M and L, S was not available. We took M, which is a bit too large, but still comfortable (we were invited to keep them). The amenity kit contained facial spray, breath refreshener, toothbrush with toothpaste, a brush / comb, body lotion, lip balm and eau de cologne (cosmetics brand: Maxima Paris). No socks or eyeshades (which is actually not too bad as it just causes lots of garbage, and many anyway bring along their own items). Right in front of us there was the old-old-old-fashioned movie screen showing the route and information about temperature, speed etc.
After take off (in time) service started immediately. The menu was presented very nicely in a cover of golden "Thai silk". You could choose between four dishes for main course, however, none of them was vegetarian, it always contained meat or seafood.
We skipped caviar and enjoyed a delicious meal on a perfectly set table. We dined together - the table is big enough -, one sitting in the seat, the other one used the ottoman.
After less than two hours after departure we finished dinner (skipped desert as well), put on the pyjamas in the well decorated (orchids) and maintained lavatory, and went to bed. Now I started to wonder, as nothing happened. No bed was set, no bed linen was offered. Hm. So I just reclined my seat, took my blanket and fell asleep soon. The seat is comfortable, but offers only very limited space to store your book, socks, glasses etc. and the upper part is not fully flat. So this might be a problem if you are a side-sleeper. It's ok if you place the pillow under the headrest and not on top of it, otherwise it is too high for your neck. However, I woke up in the middle of the night as it was a bit too cold with the thin blanket, so I asked for an additional one. During the night, a 600 ml bottle of water (Vittel) was provided. Of course you got more if you needed more. All in all I slept over six hours and woke up refreshed. Unfortunately the Sky Show didn't really work out in your personal screen, so I couldn't tell where we were, the plane stayed over Munich. I didn't watch any movie during this flight.
In the morning you found tooth brushes and antiseptic hand gel in the lavatory (which also provided Ferragamo amenities like lotion and perfumes). The lavatories were always perfectly clean, I noticed that the flight attendants had a look after each passenger to check if everything was ok. Never was there any water on the floor or in the sink etc.
We enjoyed a nice breakfast together. Unfortunately no muesli was offered, only lots of egg-dishes, which weren't bad, but a bit too heavy.
We landed in Bangkok 41 mins ahead of schedule. I started to wonder again: no orchid was given for good bye in First Class. I cannot tell about Business Class, but I saw many passengers from Economy which got some. Strange.
After the gangway we were already expected by a lady in a golf cart. She drove us to the fast track line for immigration and so we were at the baggage claim within 5 mins after leaving the plane. Our baggage was the very first to appear, then the belt stopped again. A member of the ground staff put everything on a cart and accompanied us to the exit. He waited with us until our driver arrived.
This is really travelling "smooth as silk"!
Then we went to our hotel. We had decided for Chatrium Riverside as it provided huge rooms for a really low price (just 53 EUR per night incl. breakfast). We had booked a grande riverside room with balcony on Expedia. Surprise surprise, at the check in we were informed that our room category was full, so we got a complimentary upgrade to a one-bedroom suite. It contained a small kitchen, living room, separate bedroom and a balcony with a great river view. Really nice! For dinner, a huge buffet was offered, the same for breakfast.
The next day our tour of Thailand started. We had booked a private guide at the local agency LJ Biz - Let's Tour Bangkok. Expected: private car and guide. We got: minibus (9 seats), guide, driver. To take things ahead: excellent guide, travel with full flexibility, nothing to care about, everything worked out, very nice hotels, and absolutely no mistake. Highly recommended! You are as flexible as you wish, can choose hotel / room category, schedule, attractions etc. We had told them the places we would like to visit (which included Isan) and got an itinerary within 24 hours. Moreover, we had the chance to visit a school, go to the rice field with some farmers, walk through the rain forest off track with a ranger and tried almost all fruit the markets offered as driver and guide bought different ones every day. If it started to rain in between (it's the rainy season, so there was a short shower every day), you could be sure that an umbrella appeared within seconds, and refreshing towels and water was always there when needed. We usually took lunch together in local restaurants, also sometimes from those "kitchens" in the streets (and those were the best dishes). Our guide also showed us lots of things which had not been in the itinerary, just because it was nice to see and anyway on the way. And he never put us into "gift shops".
We stayed at Khao Yai National Park (at Belle Villa Resort), Korat (Dusit Princess), Sukhothai (The Legendha), Lampang (Wienglakor), Chiang Rai (The Legend) and Chiang Mai (Dusit Royal Princess).
|Shwedagon Pagoda, Tachileik, Myanmar|
|The Legend, Chiang Rai|
|The Legend, Chiang Rai|
|The Legend, Chiang Rai, Mae Kok River|
We spend three days in Bangkok and arrived in the very north ten days later, crossed the Burmese border for two hours and also paid a visit to the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai. After so many elephants in chains and strangely rocking back and forth in the streets and near attractions this was really good to see: it's a wide, open area where all elephants can roam free. There are no chains, but every elephant has its own mahoud walking next to it - without hooks, sticks or anything. We decided for this park because we didn't want to support those circus like shows. You got to know sad things about the elephants in the park, most of them were rescued from bad conditions. Three elephants are blind (one was blinded by its owner!), three have broken hips from illegal logging. The oldest one is over 83, the youngest ones 9 months. We were also shown a documentary about how elephants in remote villages are still "trained" to be a working elephant. It's really horrible to see, as it is pure torture. At the age of 4-5 they are put into the "crushing cage" which is so small that they can't move. Then they are beaten, stabbed with sticks with nails on them, even into the ear, around the eyes or toe nails, belly etc. They must not sleep, drink or eat enough, just to break their mind and make them obey their owners. They are even hit with metal hooks on the head. I think most tourists and even Thai people don't know of that.
You can spend just one day at the park (you can feed and bathe the elephants in the river), but also stay over night or work there as a volunteer for a week or so. It was a very good decision to go there!
Then the tour ended and we proceeded to Phuket on our own. We took the direct flight Chiang Mai - Phuket on Thai in Economy Class. It was an Airbus A300, so a really nostalgic feeling came up! As it wasn't full, everyone could stretch out. A lunchbox was offered as well.
We stayed at the Sheraton Grande Laguna in Phuket. There was a farewell offer as it will leave the Luxury Collection and be renovated for the rest of the year. Again we got an upgrade, to an oceanfront room. The hotel is nice, but far too big. Endless ways to walk. But it has a really nice swimming pool with canals. This was needed as the waves were too high, so there was the red flag. The next time I'd go for a smaller hotel.
Soon we had to fly back to Germany, unfortunately. At Phuket airport we were already awaited at the check in counter and again escorted through the airport, to an extra passport control and then to the lounge. The lounge is small, but very nice. It offers separate "cabanas" for First Class travellers and three computers free to use. At the gate I noticed that there was no Airbus, but a Boeing 747. Holding a Business Class ticket we were seated in First Class. It's the old First Class, but still extremely comfortable. I'd even say the seat is more comfortable than the current one, it's like a sofa (a full flat one). A quick hot lunch was served.
In Bangkok we were again escorted through all security checks, straight into the lounge (this time no golf cart, but walking, but this doesn't really matter). We had one hour before boarding the flight to Munich, but still they squeezed a full body massage in. The First Class lounge is very elegant, featuring soft seats and sofas and lots of separate rooms with TVs to where you can withdraw with your family to be in private. I just spent two minutes there, then we were taken to the Royal Orchid Spa. It's most elegant and luxurious and I wished I could have spent more time there. The hand luggage could be left in the lounge. The therapists take you to an own suite featuring the massage bed, a huge bathtub and an exclusive changing area with shower, toilet, closet, sink etc. You get a golden bathrobe, soft slippers and underwear to be used during the massage. We were given a 50-min oil massage (shortened by 10 mins because of boarding time) and then immediately escorted to the aircraft. There is always somebody at your side and opens the way for you.
On board we were greeted by name again and guided to our seats. We could place our hand luggage in the coat locker in the nose of the plane. Our seats were decorated with orchids (they were removed after the second serving). After champage (Dom Perignon Vintage 2002, as far as I could see ... I'm not good at those things!), pyjamas (this time size S was available! They are blue, "Alain Delon" collection; again we were told that we could take them home), Rimowa kit (grey) and hot towels we took off in time. Lunch was served quickly and then the flight attendant asked if we would like her to prepare the bed. Surprise surprise, somewhere eyeshades, earplugs and bed sheets showed up. Rather only a seat cover which was fixed, so it didn't move while you were sleeping, but unfortunately no "real" blanket was available. This time the airshow for your inseat video worked out. The entertainment system is not state-of-the-art, but there is nothing to complain about. There are bigger screens, but I often find it more comfortable to have a normal sized screen in front of your nose instead a huge screen which dominates the whole space. So I just watched three movies and slept a bit until the second serving.
During this flight I also noticed that the flight attendants didn't only clean the lavatory, but also placed seat covers on the toilet after every passenger. A really very great service! Unfortunately there were again no orchids. Economy passengers got some, we didn't.
We landed in Munich 30 mins ahead of schedule and our luggage was again first after crew luggage and some boxes for the Thai embassy. Travel smooth as silk!