Transit at Dubai International Airport Hotel

We were met by a representative from the DXB Airport hotel and were escorted through security and to the hotel check in. The Meet and Assist service is free of charge but has to be requested via email after the booking is made.

We were escorted to the entrance that was located at gate B14. The other entrance for the B concourse is located at B22. The hotel is also in concourse A and C.

Took the elevator up to the 5th floor where the hotel is located. Interesting to note that the Emirates lounge was one floor before and you could see passengers sitting around. After the check in formalities were completed, we were escorted to our room.

While the Mrs and Junior were freshening up, I went in search of dinner for us. 🙂

We had a few hours of sleep before getting ready for our Male flight.

Overall verdict – a good place to stay if you have a long layover as it saves time having to go through immigration and out into the city. It was not cheap (300 CAD) but it was a no brainer as the big factor us to consider was time, sleep and Junior being with us.

Emirates Business Class – Toronto to Dubai

A clear evening for our departure out of Pearson airport. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:45pm and we arrived around 6:45pm to ensure there were no delays during check in and security.

All J class check in counters were busy and we waited 5 minutes before being helped by the next agent. All documents were checked including PCR results and after, our bags were tagged all the way to Male (Maldives). The check in agent said to remember to fill out the Maldives health declaration form while we were in transit at Dubai airport.

Pearson airport was fairly quiet in the check in hall. Security was quick and we were on our way to the Plaza Premium lounge.

The lounge had apparently reached its ‘maximum capacity’ but still allowed Emirates F/J passengers to enter. Everyone else was denied entry. We had a small bite to eat to keep us full till the dinner service on the plane. Food and alcohol was served by the staff while non alcoholic drinks was self service from a machine.

Junior was getting bored hanging around and doing nothing, so we left around 8:45pm and went down for a walk around the gate area. Boarding was at gate E73 and had already begun well before the indicated time on the boarding pass.

Our seats were in the mini cabin which was in front of the lounge area. The entire J class was full for this flight and we had a bad luck of a group of young gentlemen who stayed up the entire flight being loud.

The flight was delayed by 30 minutes due to a baggage incident in the airport. Once resolved, we were on our way with the taxi to the runway being super short.

The amenity kit – looks like Emirates is reducing costs.

Menus were distributed and meals choices for dinner were taken while on the ground and served around 90 minutes after take off. Meal choice for breakfast was also taken.

Aberfeldy scotch on the rocks and nuts to start.

Arabic mezze for the appetizer.

Lamb curry for the main which was delicious.

Chocolate gateau for dessert which was meh.

Between dinner and breakfast, it was a toss up of trying to get sleep, tend to Junior’s needs and ignore the chatter from the bar area.

Starry night.

Breakfast was served around 2 hours to landing. Went with the scrambled eggs and sausage option and it was tasty.

Landing was uneventful and we disembarked fairly quickly. We had 10 hours of transit before our next flight to Male. We decided to book a room at the Dubai International Airport hotel which was located on the airside part of the terminal.

Overall, nothing much to rave about. No issues to complain about other than the loud chatter from the bar area (bit of a toss up whether there will be people or not and unfortunately, it was a packed flight).

Pandemic Birthday Trip – Introduction

COVID was and continues to be a pain in everyone’s you know what. Our last trip was in August 2019 and we were well overdue for a break from it all. After monitoring ongoing updates to Canada’s border restrictions and reopening, I pulled the trigger on booking a trip and the best time to go was around the wife’s birthday.

After looking at various options for flights and destinations, we booked round trip flights on Emirates to Maldives and Dubai.

The Emirates flights were booked in business class using Alaska Airlines points at 85k per person each way for a total of 510k points.

The next decision was to book a suitable resort in the Maldives. As there was a considerable bank of Marriott Bonvoy points stashed away, it was best to use it on one of the top end resorts. We ended up booking the St.Regis Maldives in an Overwater Villa for 6 nights (1 night was free since due to the standard 5th night free promotion) for a total of 470k points.

Air Canada Business Class – San Francisco to Toronto

Checked in at the Westin SFO for one night as our flight back to Toronto was at 1.30pm the next day. We were ‘upgraded’ to a room with a lovely view of the airport. We walked over to the In-n-Out for a light dinner and called it for the night.

The next day, we took the shuttle back to the airport for our flight. Check-in at the Air Canada desk was a breeze and security was a nightmare as usual but we made it through unscathed. Tried getting into the United Polaris lounge but got shut down hard LOL.

We were told to go the United Club lounge which was god awful and not worth reporting on. Well, I will say that the food was bad and the lounge was overcrowded.

We went to the gate to find out that the flight would be delayed slightly as the inbound bird was yet to arrive. SFO was a gong show that day as there were multiple announcements of gate changes and pages for people who were last to arrive for their flight. The screen for our flight was even showing United which caused a lot of confusion for people.

“Yes sir – this is the AC flight back to Toronto, please ignore the screen.”

Once the bird arrived and people were booted off, boarding was called.

The flight to Vancouver next to us – the plane was undergoing a maintenance check due to a bird strike upon landing and was severely delayed.


What’s for lunch?

Boarding done and we were outta here.

Timelapse – take off

Peace out San Fran

With the seat belt signs off, it was time for a drink. Black label for me and apple juice for her. Our meal selection was also taken down before take-off and we were given priority as half of the J cabin was op ups.

Ooooh, alien crop circles

Salad to start

The main attraction – cheese tortellini for her, braised veal for me

To end – fresh baked cookie plus ice cream

Fast forward to landing and we were back home safely.

Timelapse – landing

There was one crew member serving J class and she was friendly for the entire flight. She informed the op ups that there was no meals catered for them but she was able to get anything from the economy class menu if they wanted something. She even gave us first choice of desserts and who can pass on the fresh baked cookie. A decent flight for AC overall.

If you have been reading thus far, then please accept a heartfelt thank you. Hope you enjoyed this TR and look forward to sharing the next one!

Eva Air Business Class – Taipei to San Francisco

Off the plane and we followed the directions to the C gate concourse. Most of the travellers went to immigration while we continued on and after walking for a bit and quick security, we were in the main C concourse area.

After shopping at the duty free, we headed to the lounge. Eva Air has four lounges in close proximity to each other. We went to the main joint lounge – the Star and the Infinity. We asked for showers rooms and was informed that it would be a 15 minute wait. We gave our boarding passes in exchange for buzzers that would light up when a shower room was ready. Both lounges were packed so we randomly went stage left towards the Star to wait our turn. The showers with toilets were located in the Infinity lounges while showers only were in the Star (odd setup). Overall, the lounges were ok and did not stand out in any way to us.

The Star

The Infinity

Names of the shower rooms

Both lounges had windows overlooking the check-in hall

After the showers, we left to head to the gate.

Aww, why couldn’t we get the Hello Kitty plane? #firstworldproblems

Our gate

Our bird

Sigh – the ‘random’ secondary check was not painful at all. Whoever had the SSSS on their BP’s were called up to a secure area and we were individually patted down and had bags searched behind the safety of a curtain. There was 2 announcements of a delay and after waiting an extra 20 minutes, we were allowed to board.

Yay – first to board

Decent leg room

The crew came around eventually to welcome us on board and start us off with a PDB. Forgot what type of juice it was but was tasty. Someone else came by shortly to take meal orders.

The amenity kit and menus were handed out shortly after.

After another small delay, we were off into the night sky.

Mood lighting during take off

No timelapse video – I noticed during taxi that one of the crew was giving me the eye and eventually came by with the chief purser who politely asked me to take it down due to some odd reason. *eye rolling*

Service started with the amuse bouche of smoked salmon plus Saffron Mashed potato tartlet plus bubbles

Not so generous pour

Assorted Julienne platter

Double boiled pork soup

Main attraction – steamed chicken thigh coated with spicy crushed rice on Lotus Leaf and served with pandan rice

Dessert – yam cake with blueberry sauce

With the dinner service done, the crew made up the bed while I changed into PJs – forgot to take a pic of PJs. I found the sleeping space to be quite tight compared Cathay Pacific which has a similar product.


Yummy bowl of noodle soup with Shrimp/Squid coated in shrimp mousse

With everything cleared away, it was another hour till landing.


The service overall on this flight was decent when compared to Singapore Airlines. The crew were efficient and robotic and did not have the same charm as the Singapore Air or Lufthansa crew. The food was good and I assume it’s due to it being made at home base versus an outstation. We arrived at the same time as other flights including the Emirates whalejet and there was a ridonculously long line for immigration. I noticed a sign on the wall for the new Mobile Pass app that will allow you to declare customs on the app, take a picture and then submit the form with a response in real time. Once I did that, we hoofed it to the Mobile Pass line and was helped by an officer in 5 minutes. We were asked how long we were staying in SFO to which my response was ‘1 night’. The officer casually responded, “Well, you definitely don’t want to stay longer than that in San Francisco” – wow LOL. Our bags were out by the time we made it to the baggage claim and went outside to grab the shuttle to the Westin SFO hotel.

Next up – final leg

Singapore Airlines Business Class – Singapore to Taipei

The flights back home involved flying from Singapore to San Francisco via Taipei and then a next day flight from San Fran to Toronto. The flight to TPE would leave at 12pm, so we made it to Changi Terminal 3 for 9am. The plan was to check-in, hit up Shake Shack for the 10am opening and have enough time to pig out, get to the lounge and then the gate.


No line ups at the J class check-in area

Got to SS and we were directed to the line-up for the actual line-up. Once SS opened at 10, the lines moved pretty quickly as there were multiple staff members available to take orders. Overall, it was a 20 minute wait to order and we got our food within 15 minutes of ordering. For perspective, on the night of the rain vortex light show, it was an hour wait just to order and then another 15-20 to get your food.

Bold statement!

Double bacon cheeseburger for me, regular cheeseburger for her plus cheese fries and Pandan shakes. Verdict – 2000% shiok! I’m a big fan of Five Guys burgers and this is now my favourite. Waiting for when it comes to Canada – cross fingers. Speaking of coming to Canada, Chick-fil-A just opened up a couple days ago and now I have to do a taste test to see who is better. The Pandan shake was overly sweet for my liking and I would have been happier just sharing one instead.

Back to Terminal 3 with plenty of time to spare

Everyone well aware of this spot. We went in for a quick bio and water before heading to the gate

The long walk to gate A21 where our bird was parked

Our seats for the 4-ish hour flight to Taipei

The cabin was 50% light on this flight

What’s for lunch today?

Singapore to Taipei leg

Taipei to Singapore leg

The crew were extreme friendly and welcomed us onboard. As usual, they made conversation with us which was well intentioned and engaging. They confirmed our BTC booking and started us off with PDBs.

With boarding, safety demo and other checks complete, we were on our way to Taipei.

Timelapse take off

Terminal 4

Staring down the barrel

Peace out Singapore

View never gets old

With the seat belts signs off after take-off, the crew started the service.

A movie while I wait for the table set up

Scallop appetizer with yummy garlic bread

The main attraction – BTC Chicken curry for me

Nasi Lemak for her

Crème Brulee for the both of us

With the lunch service complete, I reclined the seat to full flat angled mode and watched movies till landing. Like other flights during this trip, it was uneventful.

The shores of Taiwan

Two loops before lining up for landing

Timelapse landing

The pilots pulled off onto a side taxiway and had to hold for a bit as there was a China Airlines A330 still at our gate. After that, we pulled right in.

We wished the crew goodbye and made our way to transit. A good flight overall with a good crew who looked after us and was much appreciated.

Next up – Eva Air from Taipei to San Francisco

Singapore (Part 3)

Another beautiful day in Singapore and another excursion on tap. Today we would be heading out to Palau Ubin where we would explore on bicycles. The first priority was obviously breakfast.

In the cab and on our way to the Changi Village area.

Looks like the right place

Been a while since we had some good Nasi Lemak

We both got the usual NL set which consisted of a chicken wing, coconut rice, anchovies, sambal/chilli and cucumber. Added on the bergedil (deep fried potato cake) and beef rendang. Everything was perfection.

Got some chai from the next stall to wash everything down

With the breakfast ritual complete, we headed to the ferry terminal which is next door.

A couple locals motioned that we should go downstairs to the waiting area.

The boat operators will wait until there are 12 people in total to go over to the island. We had a short 5 minute way before we were all told to start boarding.

The various boats tied around the dock

The boat captain collected $3 per person (per direction) and we were off without any formalities or safety instructions. 🙂

Comfortable seating arrangement

Nearing the island

With expert skill, the captain reversed towards the stairs and we got off

Gorgeous day for a bike ride


There were a few bike rental shops located very close to the pier. Two bikes cost $30 for the entire day.

After testing many bikes to ensure they would not breakdown, we ended with these two …

The owner was helping a gentleman at the same time as us. The gentleman tested a lot of bikes and when he finally settled on one, he insisted on having more air pumped into the tires which the owner said was perfectly fine. The gentleman then proceeded to inflate the tires himself and then *BOOM*. Lots of huffing and puffing ensued by the owners and the gentleman walked away to the next store to get a bike.


Camp grounds

We stayed on the paved paths and it took us roughly two hours to traverse from one end to the other and around. There are other paths that have different gradings i.e. blue/black/purple diamond grade and are meant for experienced riders. Overall a fun way to kill the morning but keep in mind that if you have not gone biking in a while like us, you will feel the after effects for the next few days. 🙂

Back to the pier to wait for the next available boat and we were off after waiting for 10 minutes

Took a cab over to MacPherson road to have lunch at Julaiha Muslim Restaurant.

There are no menus handed out and you have to look at boards to see what you want.

Roti made fresh to order

Ordered 3 roti pratas accompanied with chicken and mutton curries.

With a mango shake and ice bandung to beat the heat.

After lunch, we hoofed it back to the hotel for a short afternoon break. We headed out again to Orchard Road in search of an ice cream sammich and last minute shopping that my wife sprung on me at the last minute.

Found the ice cream uncle

Mango for her and sweet corn for me on rainbow bread. I’m adamant that sweet corn was the winner.

Into one of the many malls and I was mercifully spared having to wait a long time.

Then it was off to the Jewel for the evening light show.

Entrance to the Jewel

We went for the 7.30pm show and it was run every hour after that until 12.30am. The show runs for 5 minutes.

After the show, we planned to get Shake Shack for dinner but it was an hour wait. So we deferred that and went downstairs to B2 to get some bubble tea from the Alley.

Ridiculously long line at A&W.

Brown sugar milk tea for me (non customizable + 100% yum) and regular milk tea for her.

Made our way to the Tekka Centre after that for some grub and settled on … Indian food …

Fresh made naan with mutton curry

Butter chicken, aloo ghobi and rice

On our last day, we decided to slow down and relax in the hotel (because you know … vacation) and go out for food only. Our first stop would be the Golden Mile food centre for some bucket list items. As we got out the station, we noticed the sign for Bugis Junction and decided to check it out.

Got back on track to the Golden Mile food centre and got sidelined by walking into Haji Lane and checking the activity during the day.

Street art

Kampong Glam during the day

Obviously we were gonna visit the chai shop again

Some more street art

Our first stop at the GMFC

Mutton bones in gravy and French bread. Bit of sweet and spicy.

Second stop

Hokkien Fried Prawn Mee. The portion is a bit stingy for $4 each but delicious nonetheless.

Last stop

$4 portion that included pork ribs

The mixed product – beware the spice level!

In the evening, she wanted to get Kaya toast one last time.

I wanted Ice Chendol to end the night

Next up – heading back home the long way.

Singapore (Part 2)

The next morning, we headed back to the Old Airport Road Food Centre for breakfast.

Round 1


Round 2

Chee Cheong Fun – Shrimp, Chicken and Egg versions on the plate

Round 3 – last minute decision to try this as I saw quite a line up and it was going pretty quick. The lady serving everyone got cranky at me for not telling her the entire order in one shot i.e. mutton biryani + (insert ‘eating here’ or ‘takeout’)

Could not resist getting the fried chicken as it just came out of the fryer. Really good biryani and yummy chicken.

With our bellies satisfied, we took a taxi to the Jurong Bird Park. We thought we would be done in an hour or so but we really took our time and ended up staying for almost 4 hours. A must see attraction for anyone visiting Singapore – no, I did not get paid to say that. Not going to take you on a guided tour as you can get to experience that yourself – instead will post random pictures. 🙂

Amphitheatre where twice daily shows are done. We missed both due to timing.

Into the wetlands

I’m 200% certain this guy would have killed and eaten me if there wasn’t a glass between us.

The highlight of the excursion.

The parrot aviary.

Our new friend trying to put the moves on my wife i.e. steal her earring.

The Pelican show


With that, it was time for lunch. We took a cab over to the Woodlands area up in the north of Singapore. There was a location closer to where we were but the driver advised it was in an industrial area and probably not the safest. Took us approximately 30 minutes to get to the Woodlands located in an HBD building.

Got one thinking that we would split but the moment I have my first bite, I refused to share and made my beloved get her own because I’m the most loving husband ever. 🙂

Back on the red line to the hotel

Stopped by the 7/11 for some bottled water and spotted this 🙂

For dinner, we made our way to the Black Tap restaurant located inside the Shoppes @ MBS. We came for the crazy shakes but decided last minute to share a burger and fries.

Le burger – the Mexico City

Followed by the Cookie Shake and the Bam Bam Shake. Greed got the better of us and one was enough for the both of us but Instagram.

Enjoying the night breeze at MBS

Part 3 to follow.

Singapore (part 1)

A super early arrival meant we had time to kill before checking into the hotel. Immigration was quick as we were first out the plane and our bags were out after waiting for 5 minutes. Headed over to the Haven by JetQuay lounge for a shower and change into fresh clothes.

After the much needed shower, we headed over to the Jewel to check out the Rain Vortex.

Following the mob

Didn’t want to lug our suitcases around, so we stored it for an hour.

The Rain Vortex starts from 8am to 12.30am every day. We were a tad early, so we headed to the second basement level food court for brekkie.

The bottom of the vortex where all the water collects

Our first Kaya toast with runny eggs and Milo Dinosaur (guess who ordered the Milo ….)

Finished breakfast quickly and headed back up to catch the start of the rain vortex

Et voila

Some shrubbery around us

The bowl

It was around 9am and Shake Shack was not open till 10am. Jet lag was setting in and we decided to head to the hotel to spin the wheel at a possible early check in.

Back at the Sheraton Towers

Got to the hotel in 30 minutes and proceeded to check in. The gods were on our side and we were able to get a room this early in the day.

Upgraded to a suite

After a quick fresher upper, we headed out for second breakfast

We headed over to the Hong Lim food centre in Chinatown

Our first stop

Followed by

So …

Food King …

Good! (get it?)

So jet lag combined with 3 breakfasts is a recipe for disaster i.e. couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. We went back to our room for a quick nap before lunch time and when I say lunch, I mean we woke up at 6pm. Headed over to Little India for a bite to eat and then over to Haji Lane / Arab Street for some chai.

All the tourists go to Khansama. We were across the street at Azmi.


Chapati with Keema (ground mutton), chicken curry and mutton curry. Finger licking, Stick to your ribs good.

With our stomachs satisfied, we went in search of some chai

Live music

Walking on Baghdad street and crossing over to Arab street

Bhai Sarbat

Refreshing even in 25 degrees celsius weather

Walking in the heart of Kampong Glam with the Sultan Mosque in the background

Took a taxi and headed into the depths of hell Mustafa Centre for some late night shopping and back to the hotel to end the night.

The next morning, it was back to Little India for breakfast. We headed over to the Tekka Centre first.

So good.

Then a two minute walk down the road for second breakfast. My beloved would not be denied her craving for masala dosa.

After carb loading, we took the subway/bus over to the MacRitchie Resevoir for a nature walk

Fallen tree

Fork in the road

After a 2 hour walk, we headed over to the Old Airport Road Food Centre for lunch.

Biryani to start.

Mutton on the bottom, chicken on the top – $6.50 in total. Tasty.

Followed by some beef noodles

It was ok but at least it was one item off the bucket list

The wife wanted to do some shopping, so why not kill two birds with one stone. Headed over to Simply Toys to pick up the latest Singapore Merlion Funko pop.

My precious

OMG – found this next door. For all your WoW fans.

Interesting but no.

After what seemed like an eternity, my wife was satisfied with whatever she got and we headed back to the room to drop off everything before heading out for dinner.

On the train again.

That’s a bold statement

Mutton and chicken biryani. Verdict – it was not the best. The mango lassi was good though.

To be continued.

Singapore Airlines First Class – New Delhi to Singapore

On the way to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in our beat up “premium” Uber ride.

Check-in was not open yet but it was a short 15 minute wait before it opened up. The horde still lined up.

Once it opened, we made our way to the Suites desk and had to ask the bouncer to allow us through. The contract agent was efficient and we were on our way to security/immigration. You can recognize the lines for First/Business class passengers as the queues are divided by red velvet ropes (obviously I couldn’t take pics in the immigration/security area).

Past security and immigration

We had a ridiculous amount of time to kill, so we went for a walk through the gate area for plane spotting. Sad to say there wasn’t much to see.

After a long stroll down one side of the concourse, we made our way towards the lounge.

We were scanned in and ushered into the seating area. Despite walking around the gate area to kill time, we were still the first ones to arrive at the lounge.

Three sections were reserved for Suites passengers

All the way at the end – the buffet area.

After having a small bite to eat and a power hour nap, we freshened up and made our way to the gate.

Need more tape

We were welcomed onboard and thankfully, the Mrs didn’t commit another crime against humanity faux pax walking into business class. The crew escorted us to our seats and we were in complete awe. At the time of booking, it was 3 of 6 (including the two of us). Then we saw another couple in 3A and 3F and you could tell from the loud voices banter that they were impressed with the cabin.

The stuff that dreams are made of …


The crew hovered over us and made sure we were well taken care of and settled in. Since alcohol could not be served on the ground, we settled for the mango lassi and we ended up chugging 3 glasses each! The team asked us for our PJ sizes and ran off to get it for us.

Perusing the menus while waiting for PJs and amenity kits


Once the PJs and other goodies were delivered, I headed over to change out. I usually don’t do bathroom pics but DAMN! Is it wrong to want a bathroom like this at home?


When I got back to my seat, one of the crew insisted of hanging my clothes in the closet. Even after I politely said I could do it, he wouldn’t take no for answer, so I acquiesced (much appreciated). After take-off, we was asked if we wanted something different to drink and I asked for the good stuff while my wife continued with another lassi.

Take off timelapse


The crew confirmed if we still wanted our Book the Cook selection and we said yes. We asked for just the main course and dessert as we wanted to get some shut eye.

Setting up for the main attraction plus top up of Dom

Mutton Biryani with Shammi kebabs. The mutton was super tender and the kebabs were still crispy. Rice could have used a little more flavouring but I’m just griping because I’m spoiled when it comes to good biryani.

After wolfing down the food, we asked for the beds to be made.

Mine first

After making our beds, the crew brought out the dessert to have at our leisure. I went with the mango mousse (sooo good) while the Mrs went with the Chocolate Chip Kheer (disappointing)

Double bed mode

My beloved wanting some alone time with the bear

After a decent snooze, we woke up, changed out into regular clothes while the crew put everything away.

Landing timelapse

The crew guided us to the door and we were off the plane to immigration. Singapore Airlines continues to impress with their First class product and service. We have nothing but good things to say about the crew. During boarding, the crew were engaging us in conversation and asking us about if we had been to Singapore and were giving tips about where to go. There were so surprised when we told them it was our third time back in as much as 3 years. Warm, genuine, friendly, fantastic – the hallmarks of a great Singapore Airlines flight crew.

Next up – Singapore