Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Up in the Air

Ok, I didn't mean to lie to you and promise that I'd blog along the way of our trip.  The internet is a funny thing you see.  It's there when you only have a phone and "finished" when you have a computer.  So, I apologize for the absence but I'm back and ready to tell you all about it!

We had a blast.  :)  We did so much during this trip that I might take a big nap in the middle of recapping because it makes me tired to think about it, haha!  We easily walked about 500 miles on this trip making sure we were taking in all the cities had to offer.  It was so much fun and we'd do it again in a heartbeat.  :)

To start, I want to share our FABULOUS flying experiences with you!  No sarcasm, I promise!  The flight to LA was standard business in American on an older aircraft.  We dined on a yummy meal and sipped champagne as we went to LA.  Once there, we boarded what might be my favorite flight of the entire trip.  The Cathay Pacific Business flight.  Swoon...

The seat was set in a herringbone pattern and enclosed so the privacy in this seat was the best out of all we took.  This is the older style seating but it ended up being wonderful!  I found there to be plenty of space and the lack of "elbow room" wasn't bothersome at all.  The seat laid down completely flat into a bed and you were given a real pillow (not a piece of cotton with some disposable surrounding) and a full sheet/comforter combo.

The best part?  (besides service, great food, unlimited beverages, etc.) Sex and the City, unedited episodes, on-demand for me to watch at anytime.  Let's just say that it was the shortest 14 hour flight I've ever been on.  I started a movie and a screen popped up saying that there may not be enough time to finish it before we landed.  I swore it was a mistake because it didn't feel or seem like it had even been 7 hours at that point!

   Moving on, we flew Cathay again to Kuala Lumpur and this time, we got to enjoy a domestic-style of seating.  It wasn't the full lay down beds but the seat did recline beyond what most chairs can do. :)  The best part though of the entire HK to KL flying experience though was being able to enjoy Hong Kong's Cathay business lounge.  We arrived to the airport early so we could enjoy it and so glad we did!  It was peaceful, well stocked and it felt like the lobby of a nice hotel.

We took a train from KL to Singapore that proved to be the worst travel experience I've ever had, haha.  It was about 100 years old, hadn't been touched since the early 60s and in really bad shape.  The hubs and I were looking forward to relaxing on an easy going train ride and having dinner at the food/beverage cart but ended up not leaving our room out of fear.  (that and there was no food/beverage cart)  We were the first room in the first car but that ended up being the caboose for this leg of the trip and were next to the loud what-makes-the-train-go cart.  To top it off, the tracks are super unstable there and we ended up being literally thrown out of our beds a few times in the middle of the night.  Oh, and then there was the fact that the car behind us (the what-makes-the-train-go car) wasn't secured properly and would slam into the corner of our car.  I could have slept better at a shooting range.
The Culprit

Enough Nancy Negative! :)  From Singapore, we then flew to Bali and to Jakarta all on Air Asia.  Since we paid separately for these flights, no miles used due to how cheap they were and times were perfect, we were in Economy.  Well, everyone was as they don't offer Business Class on the flights we took.  They were very clean planes, well kept and while the seats were small, they were comfortable enough for a few hours of travel.  The major downside?  They charge for every single thing.  Including a glass of water.  Other than that, it was good.

And finally, our Qantas flights.  While I must say that the service wasn't as tip top as the Cathay flights, I was impressed with the flight crew and cleanliness of the planes.  The seats weren't as comfy as the Cathay flights (in terms of cushion) but there was definitely more elbow room.  Our main complaint was that the seat is an angled bed, so it never fully lays flat.  It's great when watching movies but it's not really that comfy when it comes to sleeping.  However, it beat a 13 hour flight in a seat that barely reclines so it was great in comparison.

It didn't hurt that we had a plethera of food and drinks to indulge in either.  :)

Chocolate Orange cake with Champagne

That would be a steak on real plates and a glass of  red wine.
 Overall, best flying experiences we've ever had!  And to think that all the comfy goodness was free made it THAT much better.  :D

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Remember Me?

   I'm that girl that used to share great travel deals and recently jetted off to the far East for some R&R.  Well, we're back now and I'm very ashamed at my lack of postings recently.  We have been home for almost the number of days we were gone and have been pre-occupied with a new addition to our family. :)

   Travelers, prepare yourselves for the cutest dog in the world!  Miss Moet!! :)

We are just a *little excited to have her home and she is the sweetest puppy in the world.  So needless to say, with an 8 week old puppy at home for the last week and spending the 2 weeks before that "nesting" to get ready for her arrival, I've all but fallen off of the blogging planet. 

 With that being said, I may have more typos than normal for the next few months due to my little helper running around but I will definitely pass on many, many deals to you!  Good to be back!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Here we go!

  In just a few more days, we'll be off on our adventure trip across the Asia-Pacific region!  I can't believe it's already here. 

  I will be blogging as we go to update you guys on the fun sights and foods we come across in each country as well as posting a few pics.  :)  And rest assured, if any great mileage deals come across our path while we're away, I'll fill you in on those!  Thanks for reading and talk to you in China! :D

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reaching New Heights

  The hubs and I have had the opportunity to visit some pretty incredible places since we've been together.  I think it's safe to say that as of today, our favorite bar in the world is Cloud 9, one of the highest bars in the world set on the 87th floor of the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai.  The views, the ambiance, the views...did I mention the views?  This place was sublime!  Chic, modern and sexy as hell.


  It was brought to our attention though that a new bar was worth paying a visit to.  Only 2 months ago, on March 29th, the world's highest hotel opened in Hong Kong. And at the top, at a staggering 118 floors up, sits Ozone, the world's tallest bar.

  Super sexy place!  Our plan is have dinner at the Peak first and then head across the water to the Ritz for some late night drinks.  I'm really excited about this new place to visit!  We've already been to 2 of the 10 tallest buildings in the world and after this trip, that will be up to 4.  :)  

  The hotel itself is also now the highest in the world, with the lobby being on the 100th floor and only 17 floors of rooms above that.  Fun fact: it takes 56 seconds to get to the lobby. 
  One nice surprise about this is that we just found out some friends of ours have a one day layover in Hong Kong while we're there so we'll be enjoying this bar together!  The only thing better than dining at the top is dining at the top with friends.  :)  

  Cheers to the new Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong!  

View anyone?

The building on the left, the tall one that's glowing

Not at all excessive. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting Started

  So many people want to play the miles game and very few know where to begin.  What do you sign up for first?  Who should you collect miles from?  How do I track what card to spend and when?  All valid questions and I have the answers!!

  I know you secretly read this blog for the clip art.  So I do try when I can.  :)

Anywho!  Below is a list of the things I should do first, in order of priority and importance if you're looking to get into the miles game.  I know it can be overwhelming so that's why I wanted to break it down for you guys.  Since I'm an American miler, I'll be sharing that info first since I know much more about it than other programs.  Also, this could change as early as next week with new deals coming out daily so if you want to get in, this is the roadmap for today.  Disclaimer finished.

First:  Make sure you have a frequent flyer number.  If you don't, shame on you and sign up for one!  American's sign-up page is here:

Second:  Think of all of the flights you've taken in your life and allow yourself to be pissed for all the miles you lost. 

Ok, next:  Apply for mileage credit!  There are some stipulations for doing this but if you've flown recently and want to try and capture those miles, you can do so here:

Fourth:  GET SOME MILES!!! Sign up for the first 3 cards below in the same day for a chance to get all 3 and almost a quarter million miles in your account.  You MUST use these links when signing up to try and get the 75,000 mile bonus on the card or you will be defaulted to whatever Citi and American are offering on their homepage that day. 

Sign up for the Starwood Amex and use this card for everything!  You get 1.25 miles per dollar since Starwood offers a 25% bonus when converting Starpoints into miles.  

Fifth:  Create a spreadsheet.  Stop mocking me and saying my husband has converted me over to nerd status.  Spreadsheets rock. 

  List out all of your credits cards earning miles, the date you have to spend on them and how much  you need to spend by that date.  Add those totals up and plan your bills/spending around those cards.  Most are very attainable but the entire process is worthless if you end up losing the miles because you didn't spend the required amount in 6 months.

 Sixth:  Sign up for Mileage earning sites.  Register ALL of your cards with Advantage Dining ( to earn miles when dining out and do as MUCH shopping through Advantage E-Shopping as you can. (  Tips and Tricks are listed below for ways to full maximize your mileage earning potential.

  That's it!  There is a ton of other stuff you can do but for getting started, that's a good roadmap to follow. 

Get it?!  I made you a roadmap!
Tips and Tricks
  • Need help meeting the spending requirements?  Remember the Mint!  More information found here:
  • Make sure you're only dining out at places that earn you miles!  It's a great way to try new restaurants and after 10 dines, you'll earn 5-10 miles per dollar spent!  Your first ten dines will earn you between 3-5 miles per dollar.  Remember the small places too like yogurt shops! 
  • Don't want to pay shipping or shop online through the E-Shopping site?  Gift cards are valid purchases! If you know you need to buy things at Home Depot, buy a gift card through the site and use it in the store.  You'll earn 3.5 miles per dollar for the gift card by using your Starwood Amex.
  • Have questions?  Making a big purchase or looking to earn miles by a certain time?  Leave a comment below and I'll message you to help you figure out the best way to earn miles for you! 

Hope this helps everyone!!! :)  Now get to earning those miles!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Free Hotel #4- Ubud, Bali

  The very last hotel has been booked!  :) It's exciting to know that all we have left to do is figure out the fun things we'll do once we're there.  Specifically this!!!!

Elephant Safari Park

How cool is this?!?!
  We're going to Bali Safari and Marine Park, just one of the many things on the agenda for our time in Ubud.  Ubud is the cultural center of Bali, known for local crafts, goods and markets speckled between beautiful temples.  I am very excited about visiting Ubud!  I love meeting "the locals," trying local dishes and really getting a feel for how the Balinese people live, not how well they can make me feel like I'm "comfortable" on vacation.  Ubud looks to fit the bill!  

   After my dream of riding an elephant is fulfilled, we'll take a stroll through the Monkey Forest, or as some call it, sticky finger monkey land.  No joke, you will have a finger taken off if your hands aren't in your pockets because they associate hands with food.  As if that isn't bad enough, these monkeys are bonafide kleptomaniacs.  They have been known to take earrings out of a woman's ears before so basic things like sunglasses, bracelets, rings, etc. will be gone before you know it. They are NOT shy!!!

   Okay, okay, I'll get back to the hotel. Set 10 minutes outside of the heart of Ubud, on a beautiful rice paddy, we found a really great hotel called D'Omah Ubud.  It wasn't until we started looking at reviews did we discover that a famous designer, Warwick Purser, designed the entire hotel!  He is responsible for the overhaul to Balinese design over the last decade, modernizing the way hotels particularly are decorated.  It's very clean, sleek and yet still captures Bali in a way that feels authentic.

  Not too shabby at all!  I especially love the yoga hut that sits over the pool.  Bali is VERY well known for yoga/meditation so not only are there really great little huts like this overlooking pools, rice paddies and oceans but every hotel offers yoga lessons/classes for free daily.  

This is Frances yoga.

  There is so much to do in Bali that we're already feeling like we won't be able to see everything we want to.  We're spending 5 nights on the coast to include diving and 4 nights in Ubud and hoping to squeeze as much in as possible!  One this is for sure, we are most definitely visiting this place:

   So stunning and it looks like something out of a movie!  I'm hoping to watch the sunset from this point one evening and cuddle with the hubs.  :)  Most extreme sight I've come across so far for Bali?  Why that goes to the infinity pool at the Ubud Hanging Gardens Hotel.  There are simply no words.

  Next up; a full post on the Balinese spas.  

How We Did It: Capital One Travel Reimbursement: $272
Would Have Cost: $272
Total Cost We Pay: $0!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Free Hotel #3- Candidasa, Bali

  We are FINALLY finished booking our hotels for our trip, in 34 days!! :)  It took us a lot longer to book our Bali hotels because we were really searching for a few hidden gems.  And boy did we ever. 

    Curtis and I will be spending 5 nights on the coast (to accommodate diving) and 4 nights in Ubud, the cultural center of Bali.  We were ready to book a property called Alila Manggis, a beautiful, luxury hotel on the water that boasts great food, service and a sense of true relaxation for the first leg of our stay in Bali.  It's the cheapest hotel in their entire line of properties coming in at $150 a night before taxes and fees.  It is a very stunning hotel and while everything looked perfect, we hesitated and it paid off.

    See, because Alila is a 5 star property and because it comes loaded with awards and accolades, we knew that while we may score a few free nights with travel reimbursements, everything else would be pricey, especially by Bali standards.  As we started to read into reviews a bit, all wonderful, we noticed that dinner would be around $60 A PERSON every night and all additional activities, like village visits or mountain hikes, were significantly more than they were just about everywhere else. ($100+ each)  So while this hotel was affordable to us nightly for the room, the rest of it couldn't really justify their costs that well, considering that we could walk 5 minutes up the road and have a true local show us around. 

    I began one last exhausted search around the Candidasa area for hotels and ended up, only through a Google maps street view search, finding the hidden gem we were looking for.  Set about 15 minutes walk from Alila, this property has a private beach, only 5 villas, and opened in March of this year.  There are very few reviews of the villas because they are so new but the few we have found have all been wonderful.  The best part, for us, is that it's even closer to the town of Candidasa so we can walk there in the evenings for dinner or during the day for sightseeing. 

The property is Sea Breeze Villas Candiasa 

  I am so excited to find these villas as they look beautiful and so relaxing!  There is a reef directly in front of the beach area so we can snorkel in the mornings or even dive if we would like.  Best of all, because it's a new property, the owner is eager to please and ready to make a great first impression.  We were looking for a Paradise like we found in Fiji and this place reminded us so much of that. 

  The owner sent over a menu as well of their restaurant and very unlike Alila, the most expensive a la carte dish is $6.  (ranges from $2-$6)  The only thing more than that is the dinner special we may "splurge" on at $50 which includes a Lobster dinner for 2, cocktails, apps and dessert at a candlelit table on the yoga hut.

 So at a whopping $85 a night, this hotel was a solid half the cost of our original and I really feel like it will give us a better taste of what real Bali is like.  I'm looking forward to going into the village of Candidasa and visiting the markets, talking to the locals and hopefully catching a glimpse of a Balinese celebration going on.  Who doesn't want to see this!?
So colorful!

  We are so excited to embark on this part of the trip.  It's our longest stay in a country while we're traveling (9 days!) and it will be a healthy mix of relaxation and exploration.  Bali is known for yoga so it's free at every hotel, the spas are stupid cheap (I am dedicating an entire post to just the $11 hour long facials and back massages) and the views are stunning.

    I'll leave with this; even though I'm not a morning person, I may, just may, have to start the trek up Mt. Batur at 2am to catch a sunrise that it's noted the best in the entire world.  Not sure I'll be able to sleep through something as stunning as this:

How We Did It: Capital One Travel Reimbursement: $425
Would Have Cost: $425
Total Cost We Pay: $0!