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For my usual March holiday, I decided to again head towards Asia. For the past two years this had developed into trips further afield to Australia and New Zealand. But I was determined this time to spend the holiday in Asia. I had in mind a combined trip - revisiting some of my favourite cities and visiting some new places for the first time. In the end, I decided on return visits to Singapore and Bangkok and to visit three cities for the first time - Beijing, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur.

Planning - Flights

Initially I had booked award flights with Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways to get me to, from and substantially around Asia. However, some time in August 2006 I noticed on Flyertalk.com that Gulf Air first class flights to Bangkok were showing at a very reasonable price on a well known travel website - so reasonable in fact that this could only be an error! Keen to take advantage, I booked the tickets (all originating in Dublin) to Bangkok via Muscat for about the same price in First that you would normally pay for a return to Bangkok in economy!

With my flights to and from Bangkok booked, it remained to book inter-Asia flights. I wanted to achieve a number of things with these flights, one of which was a flight on Singapore Airlines in First Class on either the 747 or the new 777-300ER. With award availability almost non-existent I eventually found a flight from Tokyo to Singapore on the 747 , perfect as I wanted to visit Tokyo in any case. With further award bookings using the ludicrously cheap bmi cash and miles redemption levels, I eventually had most of my flights booked on a combination of Singapore, Thai and ANA. The only remaining flights were the very cheap First class flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur on Singapore Airlines and a dirt cheap economy flight on bmi to get out to Dublin to start the whole adventure off in the first place!

Planning - Hotels

With my Royal Ambassador status with Intercontinental hotels unlikely to last past its expiry date in May, I was intent on taking maximum advantage on this trip. Luckily only one of the cities on my visit didn't have an IC hotel, so it was an easy IC choice in Bangkok, Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore! For Kuala Lumpur, I initially intended to stay at the Crowne Plaza, a member of the IC hotel group family. However a well timed message from a fellow Flyertalker (thanks Raffles!) got me interested in an Innovation Suite at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur - an 85 sq metre suite at the hotel situated above the station used by the KLIA Express train! Perfect!


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