Sunday, September 25, 2011

Penang Food-Simply Delicious

The national holiday of Malaysia Day on the last 16th September did not go to waste as i made my way to my favourite holiday destination in Malaysia, Penang Island. Apart from escaping the hustle and bustle of city life (and work of course!) ive intended to spend sometimes at the beach, it has been a while since i dipped and floated myself in seawater...i couldnt swim-for the note.

In addition, Penang is very famous for its foods.Look everywhere and you are sure to find varieties of foods to suit your palate, and some you could only find in Penang, being its speciality such as pasembor.

One of my favourite eating place in Penang is the food court located in Padang Brown. Here you may find varieties of local delicacies such as char-kweytiaw, laksa, pasembor, satay..just to name a few.This is where you'll find hawker foods at its best........

Tasty springy and smoky char-kwey tiaw......

succulent satays......

and on Saturday night, we didn't miss the chance to sample BBQ buffet offering at our hotel.......

choices of marinated lamb and meat to be grilled

ive said it before and say it again..i love Penang..and its food especially! Kay2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Garuda Rising-Experiencing The New Garuda Indonesia

"Nature's Wings"........the new brand image introduced to represent the national carrier of Indonesia and to bring it to a new level of airline status with the promise of "Garuda Experience" in every flight.........

Under the new leadership of Mr. Emirsyah Satar, this once regarded an underdog of the airline industry, has started to be taken seriously by the consumers at large as well as other field players with their revitalized image and their determination to achieve a 5 star status. As ive been silently but attentively observing their progress, the time finally came to experience the Garuda Indonesia Experience...........

i) GA 819-KUL-CGK

GA's narrowbody fleet had undergone extensive upgrading whereby the stronghold of its fleet, with 46 aircraft of them being the Boeing 737-800, or as they proudly lauded throughout their commercials across Jakarta and on the local TV stations as " New Generations Boeings". These fleet of aircraft not only worn the new corporate livery with proud display of "Nature's Wings" on its tails and winglets, they are also equipped with state of the art AVOD and new cabin interior and seating. Together with the new branding of the airline, the cabin crew had been provided with new uniforms with the stewardess being properly clad in kebaya, reflecting Indonesian culture in exchange to the previous western uniform.

Being the second day of Aidilfitri, the load for this flight was obviously very low. I was expecting the "salam Garuda-similar to Siamese Wai" upon entering the aircraft but none of that was displayed by the cabin crew, but i did received casual welcomes of "Selamat Siang" and smiles along the way to my seat. The crews looked lovely in their kebayas, but surely the same is not at par with MH's or SQ's kebayas, aesthetic wise.

I was warmly welcomed at my seat with offering of pre-departure drink and a nice fluffy turqoise coloured pillow. The legroom is similar to that of Malaysia Airlines but surely the ambiance looked more modern and smart.

The 737 rocketed out of KLIA smoothly and soon the IFE system was fired up.

my selections of entertainment for the 1.3 hours flight.........

continue with breakfast. Two choices were offered, omelet or Roti Jala, i chose the former.

the omelet was soggy and tasted quite bland. The coffee and the yogurt were the best part of the breakfast. Trays were collected promptly by the cabin crews and coffee and teas were offered for second helpings.

inseat offerings, safety card, inflight magazine, entertainment guide.

we finally landed at Soekarno Hatta Airport after an hour and 30 minutes flight. The plane was parked at a remote parking.

Business Class

From this first flight it can be said that i was quite impressed with GA moreover with its hardware and the frills offered which some are not even offered in MH's flight of the same duration or destination. However, concern on safety must be emphasized as the total rebranding campaign will never succeed if GA is still being haunted by its image as an unsafe airline. One incident which raised an alarm was the way safety briefing on the use of emergency exits to the passengers seated therein was conducted. In this flight, the stewardess carried out her briefing solely in Bahasa Indonesia when obviously one of the passenger was a caucasian man. At least some verification of this man understanding of the safety procedure and the use of the emergency exits should have been done by the stewardess but none was carried out and i can safely say so as i was seated one row infront of the emergency exit and could hear her briefing and interaction with those passengers (if any) very well.

i) Aircraft: 8/10
ii) Cabin Crew: 6/10
iii)Catering: 6/10

ii) GA 818 CGK-KUL

The tail of GA's 747 being obscured through the glass of Starbucks Terminal 2, Soekarno Hatta airport...........

Our departure time of 17:00 never materialized. Instead we were informed that the flight would be delayed about 1 hour with new departure time of 18:45. Luckily in this situation, GA pacified the passengers (angry ones!) with complimentary snack box. I recalled of being left stranded in KLIA departure lounge without even a cup of water offered when my MH's flight to CGK was delayed for more than one hour previously, thus GA get a plus point here.

No "Salam Garuda" this time as well and even the cabin crew looked unprepared to welcome the passengers as they were busy stowing things and preparing the cabin with the purser holding a paper (departure checklist maybe) at the entrance while manning the same. No attention to details here and they just simply looked chaotic. As i went further to my seat at the 2nd last row of the plane the crews quickly rushed to their position and welcoming passengers with "Selamat Malam" and casual smiles-yet reserved.Pre-departure drinks were promptly offered and i chose apple.

The delayed passengers rushing to their seats......

After a long que at the tarmac, the throttle was pushed for a powerful take-off out of CGK, and right behind us was a KLM 777-200 heading for the same destination.Tonight's dinner menu consisted of black pepper chicken with potato or black pepper beef with rice. I opted for the former.

Taste wise the meal was okay, but the portion would have been larger. One thing i noticed about the cabin crews are their reserved attitude and unpolished service rendition as you could not detect any standard greetings such as "enjoy your meal" after they passed you the meal tray or even thank yous seemed to fell on deaf ears with no reply of "you're welcome" instead just a faint smile. Not that im saying that they were rude, but the right word to portray GA's crews on the flights ive taken are friendly but reserved.

Another note to state is that i noticed the crews sometimes occupied the empty passenger seats at the back even in-flight. Not sure of their purpose but i had never seen the same action being done in any of MH's flights as the crews would always retreated to the galleys after finishing their service. Then again, their pre-departure walk around looks more like walking from end to end without real concerned of whether each and every passenger had buckle-up nor seat is in upright position as the lady's seat infront of me was obviously not in an upright position.

Their lacking in their laid-back attitude was compensated with their humble demure though as i noticed the crews had no hesitation and looked accommodating to help their fellow nationals filled up the immigration forms.

I really applaud GA's ambition and determination to bring their game to a new level but believe there are more to be done, especially service wise and cabin crew training to place them at par with other rivals especially MH, SQ and TG. They are on the right track with the corporate rebranding and modernization of aircraft but some push on the human development and better training will make this airline a force to be reckoned with.

On a side note, i finally got the Salam Garuda as i leave the aircraft, but it was more of a "good-bye" rather than "welcome"............ 
i) Aircraft: 8/10
ii) Cabin Crew: 6/10
iii)Catering: 7/10