Category Archives: Holidays

A first award redemption on Star Alliance Partner Airline – ANA

It was in June when the award flights for the preferred travelling dates for Singapore to Tokyo & Osaka were fully redeemed. While all the accommodation had been booked and some had been pre-paid, I was unable to purchase air tickets for the domestic leg of Osaka-Sapporo & Sapporo-Tokyo. I wrote to Peach, Vanilla & ANA to enquire when they would open the flight bookings for domestic. However, all replied that I should check for announcements on their websites.

Meanwhile, I could see Skyscanner selling ANA & JAL flights for these sectors. It was about S$1,500 for 2 adults and 2 children to travel one way from Osaka to Sapporo and another $$1,500 to return. I was not impressed with Expedia’s untruthful search results of offering $500 per way for 2 adults and 2 children. When you clicked to Expedia’s site, it actually showed $1,500 as the final payable amount. I gave feedback to the Expedia but little could be done by the

Faced with fast-selling situation for Sapporo hotels and Rusutsu Resort, I was concerned if the tickets would be as hot selling. I was pretty firm on my schedule and had zero room to bend. That was when I wondered if I could redeem my KF miles for these 2 one-way domestic flights.

The award chart was listed on Singapore Airlines’ website. It cost 25,000 miles to redeem a return flight for domestic sector. Given that it was a 2 hours’ flight from Osaka to Sapporo and a 1hr 40min’s flight from Sapporo to Haneda, it seemed like a fair deal.

However, I could only do the redemption via form or telephone. Given how anxious I was, I called the Krisflyer hotline for assistance. I was delighted that the customer service operator had all the flight schedules. While I was mentally mapping out my itinerary, she informed me that I could not make an award redemption till 2 months prior to departure date. I was too stunned to quiz her further.

Mr H made the call the next day and the operator helped him to process the redemption booking. It was seamless and fast. However, any further changes to date would cost $20 per ticket. I was not sure of the cancellation policy. We would also need to call ANA ourselves for selection of seats.

After redeeming 25,000 miles per 2-way ticket per person, we only had to pay $3.20 per adult and $1.60 per child for taxes.

Planning a F&E Ski Holiday

The actual date stamp of this post, as opposed to the scheduled date stamp, was 6th Jun 2015.

That was how far back I had concluded & finalised the planning of this holiday.

How it all began – with the commitment to Z’s school that he would be in school for the entire period leading up to his graduation concert on 27 Nov, we were left with December to plan for a holiday.

It was either a wintry holiday in Europe or a sunny holiday in Australia, or so I thought. I contemplated Barcelona & Turkey but the sheer thought of only sightseeing might not be suitable for Toddler X. It would be a pity to have his terrible twos/threes to mar the beauty of the scenery too.

We had just returned from Tateyama-Tokyo trip when the thought of returning to Japan, especially Hokkaido (after Mr H verified with AVA that food imported from Hokkaido was definitely safe from radiation). We had only been to Hokkaido in 2007. After seeking Mr. Google’s help, I found a particularly useful blog which helped us to decide on going to Hokkaido.

While I had been very familiar with Honshu, planning a F&E trip for Hokkaido had been a different ball game, which led to unbelievable stress at one point. I actually thought that it was 10X more stressful than Primary school registration. I chose the period of 18 Dec – 2 Jan.

First, I had to deal with the lack of award flights for redemption on SQ, so I bought the sweet deals tickets at $3,715 for open jaw Sin-Osaka-Tokyo-Sin flight. It was in June but the sales of domestic tickets were not available till Jul/Aug. I was fine with that till I realised my Tokyo accommodation options were disappearing. Metropolitan Ikebukuro was fully sold out, as per some other favorites which were more affordable, limousine bus stops at lobby or near the train stations.

Next, once I decided on what to do in Hokkaido because the options were plenty but the snow and the lack of flexibility in transportation (long hours, cold & costly) forced me to have a crash course on this island. At one point, Mr H was so frustrated that he decided driving was the best idea. That left my heart pumping overdrive in anxiety after googling for videos on people driving in snowy Hokkaido. We prioritised what we really wanted to do, what we could do with 2 kids with us and the pricing of the options. I was truly grateful to the above mentioned blogger, Bumblebee Mum, who took the trouble to explain and help me with my planning.

Thirdly, even the chosen (costly) ski resorts were getting SOLD OUT. At one point, I was left ‘resort-less’ on Z’s birthday which was on Christmas Day. I was so upset that I could not sleep, all because I mulled over the selections and was a tad too slow by a couple of minutes.

Fourth, even the preferred Sapporo city hotels were getting sold out. Travelling with 2 kids meant we needed a triple room or a room big enough to add an extra bed. That was challenging, and I wanted hotels with metro access so that we did not have to walk in the cold. I ended up overbooking so many hotels, thanks to free cancellations, to review my options without the fear of them getting sold out.

Lastly, I decided to redeem award flights for the domestic leg. While processing half way, the operator told me that I could not redeem till 2 months before departure date and subjected to the quota that their star alliance partner eventually decided upon. Mr H called in, supposedly to appeal, but the new operator actually processed the redemption. Hence, we were 100,000 miles poorer but we only had to pay $9.60 for taxes.

That made my day.

Then I managed to get the resort on Z’s birthday.

That made my day further, and before I knew it, the entire plan was flushed out.

I should be gushing about Z’s going to school but really, at this point, I thought I would like to share the stress of planning this trip. As much as I would like to deny, there was a tiny perfectionist streak in me.

A brand new day in 2016

For the very first time for the family, we are spending the New Year Day overseas. When I asked Z what he thought of 2015 and moving onto 2016, he said he could not bear to leave 2015. It had been such a great year for him!

I thought my boy had grown up significantly.

As for X, the moment he heard it was a new year, he said it was his birthday and told us to celebrate for him with a song. When asked what he would like to do on the actual day, he said he wanted to go to a hotel. Such a funny toddler to be asking for a staycation!

We would still continue to enjoy our last 2 days in Tokyo before a new adventure, a new year began. 

Looking forward to a White Christmas

Information taken from Tomamu Resort. What exciting plans they have in stall!!

Reservation required:

Tomamu7

Tomamu6

tomanu8

*Need to buy present in advance for Santa to give:Tomamu

 

Reservation not required:tomamu2tomamu5tomamu3

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Staycation – check out

The kids were woken up at 830am because my grand plan was to enter Universal Studios on time. We checked out in the morning too.

We had breakfast at Krispy Kreme which was unfortunately a poor experience. They had no chocolate supply for beverage so that meant we could not order any hot chocolate or the likes of mocha. They also did not sell bottled milk. We made through 4 doughnuts and were in the queue by 940am. 

What I did not anticipate was the return of the haze, the brutally hot weather and worn out kids. I had to force Z to take the Transformer ride and X was pretty much too tired to want to take any rides. They made taking Treasure Hunter ride sound like a chore.

I took the Cyclone alone while the boys waited. Jurassic Park was opened and even the all-time favorite Dino-Soaring could barely make them smile.

Tired Z  
More tired folks

  

I grabbed Z to go on Canopy Flyer, and he was really unimpressed. 😏 

At least they posed for photos – this was part of the Halloween exhibits  
More scary exhibits

 
Z went for Madagascar ride while I took X to the carousel.

  
We mustered the strength to catch the 1145am Elmo show before the haze, heat and fatigue got the better of us.

  
Posing with Dracu-minion display   
 
Hence, this marked the end of our staycation. 
On hindsight, we should have opted for the family room. Both Mr H and I could not sleep well with 2 boys moving and talking till late night. 

I was so glad that we had booked triple rooms for our next trip.

Staycation – Day 2

I had purchased discounted tickets to Adventure Cove from the company’s welfare committee. Z had been requesting for this for a few months!

At the entrance 
Hopping into Adventure River – we had kept our belongings in the small locker which cost $10 for the whole day.  

The kids’ favorite was the tidal wave pool. We spent such a long time there that I felt like I was swaying even when I was out of the pool.    

The babies’ section
  

Mr H and Z took this, then Z accompanied me
The Riptide Rocket was the other ride that Z could take. It was fun but the queue was long!  

Funny boys   
Waiting to support his brother  

Catching his breath    

First snorkeling experience – but he didn’t complete the entire round as he had problems with the saltwater seeping in

Dessert for tea – we redeemed the overpriced ice cream with RWS invites $ 
It was 530pm before we could drag the kids out of Adventure Cove. We bathed and headed for the beach for dinner.

On the way  

By scooter    

Through the Merlion Walk
  

Posing for the camera  

How optical illusion evened them out

Staking the claim that we were on Sentosa island    

We had not realized how tired X was, till he fell asleep at dinner.
  

Flame restaurant which served a pretty good flat iron steak
Sea view,  local style   

We continued to hang out at Coffee Bean and even caught some fireworks from the Wings of Time show.

Chillax time for us    

We also went to “people-watch” at iFly.

We took the monorail back to hotel and even caught this water fountain/light show.  
That concluded the end of a very long day. 

Staycation at Hotel Michael, RWS

This was X’s first staycation and Z’s second to boot. We rarely arranged for staycations but we were very blessed to have received this staycation from a friend. The kids were psyched.

Despite a late check in at 5pm, we hit the Hard Rock Hotel pool. We had attended a birthday party in the morning and watched Harry Potter part 4 and half of part 5. I was impressed that the boys’ energies held up. 

 At the lobby
At the Hard Rock Hotel Pool  
 
Hotel Michael was the furthest from the pool so we actually drove over. We could have walked but driving made logistics easier to manage for us. 

At Coca Steamboat  
The spread  
 
Finishing up 

   
More play

  

Swinging his light sabre