Singapore Airlines vs Philippine Airlines

In 2008 I had the opportunity to fly on Singapore Airlines and earlier this week I flew on Philippine Airlines.  I spent two years living in Singapore and am moving on to the Philippines, so I figured it’d be in keeping with this blog to do a comparison of the services offered by both airlines.  I’ll also be reposting this on my Philippines blog, Everything But Balot.

Singapore Airlines:

When I first flew to Singapore in June of 2008, I had some choices to make.  One was which airline I was going to take.  I made that decision the simplest way.  I took the one that was cheapest.  When you’re flying from the US to Singapore, the cost of the ticket can be pretty steep, especially if you’re flying during the summer, so the price point was my major choosing point.

Somehow, Singapore Airlines wound up being the best priced fare at roughly 1400 USD for a one way ticket from New York City, with one layover in Frankfurt, Germany.  I have no idea how this happened, but I’m glad it did.

To put it simply, Singapore Airlines is the best flight experience I’ve EVER had.  I think it completely enhanced the experience that I got onboard with absolutely no expectations or any knowledge of the airline.  With it being the cheapest ticket, I’d assumed it was some sort of low class airline that would get me where I wanted to go, but not necessarily in style.

I was wrong.  Singapore Airlines is all about comfort and relaxation while in flight, even if you’re in the economy section.  I had a good seat too.  I’d booked early and chosen my seat, so I wound up on the aisle.  Someone begged me to switch with them, so they could sit next to their spouse, but I declined.  Their seat was dead center of the plain, with two seats on either side.  I have long legs, so I need the extra space, especially on a 22 hour flight.

Shortly after getting on the plane I was handed a package by a stewardess.  I don’t remember if it was prior to take-off or just after the plane leveled out, but it doesn’t really matter.  I got it right away and it was a fantastic goodie bag!  It had slippers, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and I think some soap in it.  Right about then I knew I’d lucked up and gotten a good deal, but it only got better.

A little while later, a stewardess came down the aisle and asked me if I’d like to have a glass of champagne.  Of course I accepted her offer and then got lost in the menus on the touch-screen TV on the back of the chair in front of me.  Oh, and I’d put on my comfy slippers by then too.  The TV on the back of the chair was loaded with on-demand movies, TV shows, music and even a few basic games.  It kept me thoroughly entertained for the duration of the flight.

The meals I was served were top notch.  It was better than some of the things I’d eaten in restaurants.  The one meal that still stands out in my mind is the steak dinner I was served.  The meat was tender and it was real, rather than being some chopped and reformed meat patty.  The vegetables were still crisp.

Between meals there was a steady flow of drinks and snacks, and most importantly, the stewardesses were very prompt and kept their eyes on the passengers to make sure everyone was as comfortable as possible.  I could really tell that I was a valued customer, even if I wasn’t in first class.

If I ever make a long-haul flight from Asia to Europe, or back to the US, it will definitely be with Singapore Airlines.

Philippine Airlines

My trip on Philippine Airlines left a lot to be desired.  I flew from Singapore to Manila, in the Philippines.  It’s a pretty short flight, but even so I expected there to be a level of service offered in exchange for the premium price we paid to fly with their airline over Jetstar, or an even lower priced budget airline.  That wasn’t the case, at all.  I won’t go into the disaster with my cats here, but do take the time to read it, as that may have affected my opinion.  I’ll try to stick to specific examples here.

When we first approached the boarding area, I was expecting to see a large, shiny plane waiting for us.  Instead, the plane looked a bit small and old.  I kept my hopes up for the interior, but was let down on boarding.  The seats were a bit cramped, there was no TV in the back of the chairs, and everything looked really old and worn down.  If it weren’t for the uniforms the stewardesses were wearing, it could’ve been a Tiger Airways plane.  Not that I have anything against Tiger Airways.  I’m just saying that you get what you pay for, and I paid for more than that.

I want to talk specifically about the entertainment services offered.  The TVs weren’t in the backs of the chairs, with each person having their own individual screen to suit their taste, but there were drop-down TVs.  Each one was set to serve about 3 rows.  The screens were small, but they were ok.  The movie selection wasn’t bad either.  They picked The Tooth Fairy, which I really enjoyed watching the first time around.  I got excited and plugged in the complimentary headphones provided by a stewardess.  I then found out that I couldn’t change the channel or the value through my armrest.  Also, each headphone was playing something from a different channel.  I had crappy music in one ear and even crappier music in the other ear.  So, I took off the headphones and just looked at the screen for a while.

When the movie started, the stewardesses were distributing meals from their cart.  The food was actually pretty good.  I had a chicken dish that actually hit the spot, especially since it was accompanied by a Red Ribbon brownie.  Red Ribbon is a baking chain in the Philippines that really does it right.  I love getting cakes and other goodies from them.

Unfortunately, that’s as far as I can go with the compliments.

After the meal, I think we sat there for about 40 minutes with our empty trays, waiting for a stewardess to come by to collect them.  My wife had to use the restroom and couldn’t wait any longer, so we wound up stacking everything together into one tray that I could hold so she could climb out.  In the process, we spilled ice water in her lap and on her chair.  About 10 minutes later a stewardess finally came by to take the trays, and instead of offering me service, she told me I needed to put everything back on the individual trays before she would take it.  Then she moved on and I had to yell at her to get her to come back and take the damn trays I’d put back in order.  She should’ve taken the trays and done the work herself.  If she’d been more timely in her job it wouldn’t have been necessary to put them like that in the first place.

Also, during the entire flight the cabin felt stuffy and warm.  I’m not sure if the air conditioning wasn’t working right, or if they just weren’t running it as often to save on fuel, but it was disappointing.  You know how you always think you’ll need a blanket on an airplane because it’s nice and cold?  I was wearing flip-flops, shorts and a t-shirt and I was still warm.

I spent the rest of the flight furiously updating and arranging my e-book library on my laptop, looking forward to getting off the plane.  Instead of being a great experience like Singapore Airlines was, Philippine Airlines made the trip feel like a chore.  I don’t understand why I paid more for their tickets.  I get better service on Jetstar and the rates are a lot cheaper.

To top it off, when the plane landed it almost veered off the runway.  Not sure what that was about, but it seemed a fitting end to an uncomfortable flight.


I suppose I already said it above, but from now on it’ll be Singapore Airlines only for long-haul flights, if my budget permits of course!  Other than that, I’d rather take Jetstar than Philippine Airlines again.

Our February Trip To Kuala Lumpur

Last weekend (the weekend of the 5th – 7th), we went to Kuala Lumpur and over the last week I’ve been posting about stuff that we saw while we were up there.  We weren’t in KL for very long and we’d intended to try to make the most of our time to go see Putrajaya and the museums and art galleries if possible.

We got there on Friday afternoon and dropped our bags at the hostel.  We stayed at Hostel Cosmopolitan again.  It’s by no means fancy, but it’s cozy, it’s got cats (which my wife enjoys) and it’s close to the monorail and good food.  Thankfully, that weird smell was gone from the air conditioner this time!

The first thing we had to take care of was stuffing our faces.  We’ve been keeping an eye on what we eat lately but since we were sort of on vacation we decided to pig out.  We went to an eatery in Kampung Baru that we enjoyed the last time we were in Kuala Lumpur.  It didn’t disappoint!



Another thing I really love about this place is that all that food in the photos, plus two large soft drinks, only cost 19.40 RM, which is 8.00 SGD or 5.65 USD.  That’s a real deal!  The same meal in Singapore would’ve cost about 14 SGD I think.

Friday night was spent being lazy, watching TV and reading.  We went to bed at a decent hour though because we’d planned on getting some sightseeing done on Saturday.

Well, as Saturday morning rolled around, dragging ourselves out of bed was very, very difficult.  And after eating breakfast we sat down in the common room area to watch TV, read and surf the net.  Well, my wife got distracted with a John Grisham book she found on the shelf and I was absorbed in Google Reader until I dozed off for about an hour.  Ya, the couch was pretty comfortable!

Anyway, by the time we managed to get washed up and get out of the hostel the only thing we could think about was getting something to eat, and that’s when we went to KLCC and California Pizza Kitchen.  We sat around in Kinokuniya bookstore until around 8 PM, took some night photos of the Petronas Towers, and then headed back to the hostel.

We continued being lazy, enjoying the TV until the wee hours of the morning.  Heck, we even watched one of the audition episodes of the latest American Idol season.  It was really fun watching people get up there and embarrass themselves!

Our last day was short.  It wasn’t really a day since we spent most of it sleeping in and then traveling to the airport.  Everything went smoothly though with no problems so I’m glad about that.

All in all, we didn’t really do much of anything at all except eat.  That’s fine by me.  Sometimes you have to just relax and let your body and mind rest.  Besides, we’ve seen quite a bit of Kuala Lumpur in previous trips.

Anyhow, it was nice to get back home in Singapore.  There’s really no place like home, regardless of how much you enjoy the place you go to visit.

Kuala Lumpur Cats

These are just some of the cats we saw while we were in Kuala Lumpur.


This is Mr. Jinja.  He’s a cat at Hostel Cosmopolitan.



This is Whinny, Mr. Jinja’s friend.  She also lives in Hostel Cosmopolitan.



This cat was hanging out in an eating area in Kampung Baru, begging for scraps.  I gave it some chicken.



This girl was working at a satay stall we stopped at for a late meal.  In fact, we got there just before they were closing.  As they started packing up, cats started showing up.  I was wondering what was going on until the girl working at the stall pulled out a bag of cat food to feed them.  She seemed really excited to see the cats, and she had a good laugh when my wife ran over to watch them and had her photo taken with them.

Bukit Nanas and Dang Wangi

This area is located along the path between the Bukit Nanas monorail station and the Dang Wangi train station.

It looked really nice so I stopped to take a few photos.  I forgot to take a picture of the name of the building that was adjacent to this outdoor area, but it had something to do with Malaysian timber, and it was also the place where I saw the Pinis Gobel boat.

I was a little surprised to see that the path for the interchange was above ground.  I’ve gotten spoiled in Singapore where the interchange is all underground and you use tunnels to get to the other line if you have to.  I like that better because then I don’t have to deal with the sun and the lack of air conditioning.

Anyhow, part of the trip to between the lines includes going over a major road.  There’s a pedestrian bridge.  Unfortunately, the escalator on that bridge is broken and it appears to have been that way for a long time.  None of the pedestrian bridges I’ve seen in Singapore, except maybe one on Orchard Road, have escalators so we just used the stairs.  Apparently, the average Malaysian doesn’t want to deal with that though because everyone else walked out into the road and then used a spot where the center barrier had been broken down to get through.

I’m kinda surprised that these people want to run in traffic, but I remember seeing them doing it in Chow Kit where the traffic is a lot heavier.  They’re pretty brave, considering what a fast moving vehicle can do to the human body.

Anyhow, we were happy to notice this on the transit map this time around.  The last time we went from KLCC to Chow Kit we went all the way to KL Sentral.  Taking this walk from one line to the other saves a lot of time and RM.

Kuala Lumpur’s Monorail and Pickpockets

In addition to a train system, Kuala Lumpur has a monorail system.  It’s fun to ride, but it’s really slow in comparison to a train, which makes me wonder why they bothered to build it at all.  I suppose the answer is that the distance between the stops is so short that having a train run that route wouldn’t make sense.  Also, the route is very curvy.

The stations are almost identical to train stations.  You have to get in line and buy your ticket, then you insert the ticket into the turn-style, wait for it to pop up from the center of the machine and grab it as you walk through.

The ticketing system that Kuala Lumpur uses for its trains and monorail is absolutely ridiculous.  The lines of people waiting to buy a ticket are sometimes incredibly long to the point that they block other pedestrians trying to use the sidewalks outside the station.  They need to get with the times and do what Singapore does and just use a prepaid transit card.  It’s much, much more efficient.

Anyhow, you go up to the platform, wait for the monorail to show up and then go about your business.

The monorail cars themselves are nice.  There’s plenty of seating and space to stand.  It also has a lot of windows so you can see the area around you.  When the monorail takes a sharp turn, the track and the whole monorail tilts, which is a little unnerving.  Better than walking or taking the cab though.

Some interesting things to note are that the train platforms don’t have what I like to call “dummy doors” around the tracks.  There is a waist-high railing, but they expect people to use common sense when it comes to standing to close to openings where the monorail doors open.  I guess they don’t have any issues with people trying to leap in front of the monorail to kill themselves.  The actual train stations, on the other hand, which are underground, do have the extra doors.  I think that’s more for keeping the air conditioning in the station than anything else.  New York City should follow that example.  It gets hotter than Satan’s anus in those train stations in the summer.

There are signs on the platforms warning you to be wary of pickpockets.  As the monorail train approaches people have a tendency to push towards the openings where the doors will open.  When people start packing close together like that, it’s a great opportunity for people to get pickpocketed.

I know that from personal experience.  Some little punk ass kid tried to pick my pocket while I was waiting for the monorail this past trip.  He was wearing a coat draped over his shoulders to hide the fact that his opposite hand was reaching from under the edge of the coat to try to get into my pocket.  Tough luck for the bastard that I’m not an oblivious idiot… and that I wore shorts with pockets that button.

I knew something was up with the kid because when I moved he kept moving up next to me.  When I felt the tug at my pocket I pushed him away from me.  He should feel glad that I didn’t accidentally push him in front of the monorail while trying to get him away from me.  Even if the monorail hadn’t hit him it’s a long way down to the ground.

So, ya, keep an eye on your belongings while you’re there.  Most of KL is pretty safe looking, but so is Singapore and people are getting stabbed in broad daylight here now.

Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers at Night

This was our third visit to Kuala Lumpur but we’d never seen the Petronas Towers lit up at night.  We stayed in the mall below it late, browsing the book store, so when we were leaving we stopped by to snap a few photos.

This was taken from the back side of the mall where the fountain is.

And this is just a random tree that rings the fountain.  It has some strange looking fruit on it.

Chinese New Year 2010: KLCC Suria Decorations

KLCC Suria Mall had some decorations set up for the Chinese New Year.  There were these neat looking decorations hanging from the ceiling:

As well as a stage set up with a woman playing a song on an instrument.

Also, near the rear exit by the fountain they had this screen set up.  Groups of people were posing in front of it to get their pictures taken.

The decorations look nice, but they seem a bit sterile to me.  I think Singapore will do it better.  I’m looking forward to seeing the Chinese New Year festivities later this month.

California Pizza Kitchen at KLCC Suria Mall

While we were in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend we decided to go down to KLCC to look around and have dinner.  We weren’t sure what we wanted to eat but as we were looking at the electronic store guide I saw that there was a California Pizza Kitchen in the mall.

Neither of us had ever eaten there before so we gave it a try, with mixed results.

The ambience is very, very nice.  The place has a clean, uncluttered, modern look that was refreshing and relaxing.  Also, the service staff was incredibly friendly and helpful.  No complaints there.

The food wasn’t too bad, I guess, but what bothered me about it is that everything was incredibly oily.

The first thing we ordered was an appetizer.  I think it was called an ‘avocado turkey bacon roll’ or something along those lines.  It’s the first item on the menu under appetizers.  It was described as a fusion between Eastern and Western flavors and was basically a cheesy, gooey, extra greasy egg roll.

While eating the thing the hot grease was running out of the roll all over my fingers and forming a small puddle on my plate.  That’s a definite no go.  Also, the taste of the oil was a bit overpowering, to the point that I couldn’t even distinguish the taste of the avocado.

In fact, in this second photo you can actually see the grease dripping from it.

Shortly after finishing the appetizer the pizza showed up.  We got a thin crust ‘Sicilian’ pizza.  Thin crust pizzas are usually less greasy than full crust pizzas.  Unfortunately that’s not the case with CPK’s thin crusts.  It was oily as well.  We went ahead and finished the pizza, but after the second slice I could’ve walked away from it.

My wife and I have changed our eating habits over the last year and we’re consuming less and less oily foods.  It’s better for us, and less oily foods taste better anyway.  I was reminded again of how good Trattoria’s pizzas are in that 313 @ Somerset mall in Singapore.  CPK’s offering wasn’t even in the same league and cost nearly the same price.

The Best Way To Get From LCCT (Or KLIA) To Kuala Lumpur

This is assuming you care about how thick your wallet is when you do get to the city.  If your only concern is speed then your best bet would be to just get the RapidKL train that goes from KLIA to KL Sentral.  I don’t think that train stops by the LCCT, but if you’re flying into the LCCT I doubt you’re going to want to ride that train anyway.  The last time I checked I think the tickets were 35 RM per person, per trip.

So, if you’re looking for the best way to get to Kuala Lumpur without paying excessively high fees, just use the bus.


As you’re walking out of the LCCT terminal, just past customs, you’ll see some booths on the left with people selling tickets.  If you go through the sliding glass doors and see the sign for the toilet, you’ve gone too far.

You can get a round trip ticket, good for one month, on the Aerobus for 14 RM.  That’s a damn good deal and the ride isn’t bad at all.  The train gets you to KL Sentral in about 20 minutes.  The bus does it in 50 minutes for a fraction of the cost.

After you buy your tickets, exit through the sliding doors, walk forward until you see the McDonald’s, then make a right and follow the sidewalk down past the Mary Brown and the Coffee Bean (or Mr Bean?  forget which).  You’ll see buses pulled up along the sidewalk.  You need to find berth number 4.

The buses you’re looking for will look like this:


There are similar buses going out of KLIA.  It may be the same operator, but I don’t remember for sure.  I’ve only flown into KLIA once, whereas I’ve gone through LCCT twice.  I can’t remember exactly how to get to the buses but there are signs.  The costs are nearly the same as well.  I think the tickets are 9 RM apiece.  I don’t know if there’s a deal for getting a round trip ticket.  Regardless, it’s still cheaper than a train and definitely cheaper than a taxi.

Bus Service Quality

If you’re wondering about the bus quality, they’re in good shape.  Depending on what countries you’ve been in you might be used to seeing beaten up buses.  That’s not the case with the buses shuttling between KLCC / KLIA and KL Sentral.

The buses are clean.  There’s no eating or drinking allowed onboard.  The seats are pretty comfortable and they recline.  It’s a luxury type bus with cushioned seats, rather than a city bus with hard plastic seats.  So, you get to really relax.  There’s no TV or radio in them but they are air conditioned.

KL Sentral

The buses all drop you off on the lower level of KL Sentral.  That’s good because most hotels / hostels / etc. are along the train or monorail routes and you can easily get to the train or monorail from the drop off point.

For the train, you just go up the stairs and into the building.  You can’t miss it.

For the monorail you have to go around the block that’s adjacent to KL Sentral.  Depending on how soon you go (relative to this post) you’ll notice that the area you have to go around is under construction. It’ll be to the right of the bus as it pulls in.  Your best bet is to just follow the crowd.  A lot of people will follow the sidewalk around to where the monorail is as they get off the bus.

Here’s a map to give you an idea:,103.819836&sspn=1.022803,1.245575&ie=UTF8&hq=KL+Sentral&hnear=&radius=15000&ll=3.134088,101.686696&spn=0.071946,0.071946&output=embed
View Larger Map

(Zoom in to the see the building and the train, monorail and RapidKL drop off points.)

The bus will drop you off on the road that’s just below the RapidKL marker on this map.

Chow Kit Wet Market, Kuala Lumpur (Pictures)

Just down the steps from the Chow Kit monorail station.

The busy Chow Kit wet market.

This photo was also taken in the Chow Kit wet market. The man is using a machine to shred coconut meat.

A neighborhood in the Chow Kit area.  The houses seem to be arranged in such a way that some don’t front the street at all.  You can see the blue house in the background which only has access to the road using a driveway.

Chow Kit street cats.

I took this photo from a bus when we were on our way back from the Batu Caves.  Mangay’s.  I just thought it was an interesting sign.  We saw a McCurry and a McBath along the same road.
I’m still very much looking forward to the next time we’ll get to visit Kuala Lumpur.  I miss the food and the excitement there.