Trip Report: Australia (part 16) Park Hyatt Sydney

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Park Hyatt Sydney

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Park Hyatt Sydney exterior

We arrived in Sydney on Jan 26th which is Australia Day. It is a big national holiday down under and so the hotel staff was in communication with me via email a few days prior to our arrival.  The reason for the correspondence is that many of the roads were going to be blockaded due to holiday events and parades.  In fact guests that were checking out the morning of Australia Day where accommodated on a boat and shuttled over to the other side of the harbour.   I found the pro-activeness of the staff to be great in this regard. There were temporary road closures in the Rocks and Circular Quay and Sydney Harbour but they were to be completed around 12noon. We were slated to check in closer to 1pm. Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 15) Australian Open Day Two

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)

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Rod Laver Arena

I wanted to attend another day of the Australian Open before we left and it seemed like all the players I wanted to see were in one half of the draw. So the night before I went online in our hotel room to try to get tickets for Rod Laver Arena day session. The reason I wanted day session tickets was because there are three matches played vs only two matches played during the night session. The night session did however showcase Andy Murray vs Grigor Dmitrov which is a huge match up for the 4th round! I went on to Viagogo.com to see what was for sale. I found two tickets at a reasonable price however when I went to purchase them someone else beat me to them and they were gone. I figured it wasn’t meant to be and told my wife we can plan on doing something else on our last day in Melbourne. In the morning when I woke up I checked Viagogo again and did find two E-tickets together and they were decent. The only downside is I had to pay $200usd per ticket but I have no idea if/when I will ever make it back down to Australia so I sprung for the tickets. Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 14) Great Ocean Road Excursion

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Great Ocean Road Excursion

I booked our Great Ocean Road tour through bunyiptours.com.  The total for two tickets was $161.58 per my credit card bill or around $80 per person depending on the strength of the US dollar vs AU dollar.

One of the major things that attracted me to this tour is they will pick you up at your hotel and drop you off at your hotel. We were picked up just before 8am and were the third stop so we had plenty of seats to chose from.  Our vehicle was a big van with one row of seating on the left side and two rows of seating on the right side.  The left side has the better view however its an individual seat.  Our van was indeed full which meant 16 people if I recall.  The seats were fairly comfortable but there was not very much legroom if your tall like myself.  I took a seat on the isle and my wife the seat by the window this allowed me to keep my left leg out in the isle for some much needed legroom.

Our guide was great (although I have forgotten her name) and she was timely energetic and enthusiastic without being annoying.  She was happy to explain the trip and all the details of the day.  She was also happy to take pictures of people if they like.  This tour is an all day affair from around 8am to 8pm.  So after picking everyone up we drove west about an hour and made our first stop in Anglesea.  While in Angelsea it was advised to use the restrooms at the petrol station and our guide set up a snack of tea/coffee and biscuits (which are simply cookies). This was about a 20-25 minute stop before another hour drive out even further west.

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Anglesea Vistor Center

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Some of the homes on the hills with views of the beach

We proceeded to cruise down the surf coast of southern Australia.  We stopped at a beach right before the official start of the Great Ocean Road. Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 13) Around Melbourne

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Around Melbourne

There were two primary ways that we got around Melbourne:

Flagstaff Gardens

Across the street from our hotel was the Flagstaff Gardens which is a nice green space in the middle of Melbourne.  The park has a lawn bowling field, netball and tennis courts as well as a playground for the kiddo’s.  We went for a stroll through the park one morning after breakfast.  This is a great spot for a picnic or to go for a jog.  The park is 18 acres large and in fact is the oldest park in Melbourne established in 1862!

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Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 12) Australian Open Day One

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Australian Open Day One (day 3 of tourney-2nd round)

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The tram entrance to the  2015 Australian Open

I bought our 2015 Australian Open tickets from Ticketek.com.au on October 7th about 12-16 hours after they went on sale to the general public. Ticketek is the official ticket provider of the Australian Open.  I went online and found that every lower level seat was taken/sold for Rod Laver Arena’s day session.  I was able to find some just a few rows up on the 2nd level of the arena and grabbed them!  Two tickets section S42, row DD were $173.32UAD or $86.66AUD per person.  These were also classified as “sun viewing” tickets meaning that you could be exposed to the sun for long periods of time.  They also had some classified as “shade viewing” in which you are fully protected.  We got lucky and the sun only got to our seats at the very end and clouds helped give us some relief as well.   I was lazy this time and did not go online the second seats were being sold but I would advise to go online the second tickets are available to find the best seats possible. I did that for the French Open but was too lazy and forgot to do that this time.

A negative to buying tennis tickets in advance is you pretty much have no idea who your going to see until right before the tournament and the draws are announced. Even then you don’t know because you have to wait till a day or two before to figure out order of play and who will play on what court.  My theory is just to buy show court/main stadium tickets due to them almost always having the best players playing and show courts have roofs in case of inclement weather (well Australian Open has 3 courts with roofs so they are ahead of the curve. US Open and French Open do not have roofs on their show courts at this time). Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 11) Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne

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Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne exterior

We arrived to the Radisson Flagstaff Gardens via taxi.  Nobody was there to greet us or grab our bags.  We entered and the front desk seemed busy and preoccupied but not many guests were checking in. When we did checkin a woman front desk agent eventually greeted us however when the phone rang, and the front desk agent that was helping us picked it up and began helping the phone caller!! Thats a pet peeve of ours!!! Fine if the phone rings and let the caller know that they will need to hold as they are busy helping guests at the desk but to start to answer a million questions and delay our checkin is a major no-no.  Eventually a gentleman came out the backroom and took over our checkin process.

We were confirmed for our four night stay however as we arrived around noon there was Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 10) Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL

By the time we got to our gate and cleared security it was an unorganized mess of a “line” but I wasn’t in a hurry to board so whatever.  I just moved along with the herd and eventually made it on board.  To be honest I can’t remember if there was a separate jet bridge for business and economy.

We were perhaps a little more nervous for this flight considering the two unfortunate Malaysia flights in 2014.  MH370 vanished early in the year and MH017 which was shot down over Ukraine later in the year.  I booked this award flight just a few days before MH370 went missing.  I did have brief thoughts of changing our flight throughout the year but figured that is irrational.  But we were flying MH and we were flying in the dark and overnight and we would be lying if we said we weren’t thinking about it at some point before taking off.

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Getting ready to board our flight, MH0149

Once we got settled in we were offered some welcome beverages.  Most of the business class cabin was full.  I think there were only two empty seats out of 28 total.  There were also about four children in the cabin and one was Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 9) Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL

After our taxi ride to the airport we just went immediately to our gate and was planning to skip the lounge altogether.  When we got to the gate it wasn’t open yet.  They open the gates 1 hour before departure.  The gate also required us to go through another security screening.  I will say the security screenings at KUL seemed very weak and relaxed.  We decided to try to find the lounge at this point and we ended up wandering around for quite a bit! We eventually found the Malaysia Air Golden Lounge which is located on the second floor.

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Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge exterior

There was a small line to checkin to the lounge but it didn’t take more than 2-3 minutes.  The lounge was very large and very wide open.  I wasn’t expecting such a large lounge frankly.

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Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge entrance and check in

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Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge 

The lounge has tons of seating and a Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 8) Around Kuala Lumpur

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Around Kuala Lumpur

We didn’t venture out much while in Kuala Lumpur but I did manager to coax my wife out for a few hours one evening.  I asked my concierge for a dinner recommendation.  I mentioned I would like to have some local or authentic Malay food.  He thought Songket would be a good option for us due to them offering a local dance performance at 8pm.

We took a cab to Songket which was 5-10 minutes at most.   We arrived and entered the bar in which there was only one table.  All the other tables are in the main dining area which was packed at what mostly appeared communal tables or very large parties 10 people or more.  There was a worker sitting at the table in the bar and they kicked her out and picked up the table to provide a view of the soon to start dance performance.  They asked if we minded sitting out in the bar area (we didn’t) and then sat down.   Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 7) Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

We took a long cab ride from the Kuala Lumpur airport (about $30) to the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur.  We were were greeted enthusiastically and the bellmen were eager to grab our bags so I let them take over however keeping my backpack on me. We were escorted into the ground level lobby and into the elevators to the 39th floor lobby.  Once we go to the top we were escorted over to the checkin desk and introduced to our agent and the bellman let us know our bags would be up shortly and was on his way.  I was impressed with the top floor lobby as it affords guests checking in amazing views of the Petronas Towers.

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Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

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Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur entrance lobby

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Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur concierge desk

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Views from the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur top floor lobby

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Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur lobby

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Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur checkin desk

Once they received all of my information they informed me that we would be Continue reading