From Marina Bay Sands to Kuala Lumpur

My previous entry featured our long travel day from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Singapore, which then culminated with a stay at Marina Bay Sands.

If there was one thing Nancy wanted to cross off her bucket list, it was to stay at Marina Bay Sands (MBS). To be honest, I was totally against the idea because I’m all about using my points earned with my credit cards where I can get a free night’s stay or use those points to get a greater value. A night at MBS starts at $489 SGD (or roughly $350 USD) plus taxes and fees. Not exactly the cheapest place to stay.

Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 12.20.38 PM.pngFrankly, all I needed was a place to sleep and shower, that’s all. But thanks to the miles and points we’ve earned, it had allowed us to stay at many of the world’s luxurious hotels for free. Only in my wildest dreams would I have stayed at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, London’s May Fair Hotel, Park Hyatt Sydney, and Park Hyatt New York. All of those hotels charged between $700 to over $1,000 per night.

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Ok, so what’s the big deal with MBS? It’s not exactly facing the Eiffel Tower. It doesn’t have gorgeous views of the Sydney Opera House. But what’s eye-catching about MBS is it’s architectural beauty. The towers with ship-like looking boat at the very top that connects all three towers. There’s an observation deck, restaurant and bars on the top level (57 stories high), and the amazing infinity pool (reserved for guests only).

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If you are not a guest of the hotel:

  • For $23 SGD, you can still access the rooftop observation deck, and view the infinity pool from a distance…that’s it. You can take all the selfies and group shots you want. You can buy souvenirs, etc.
  • Ce La Vi – yeah, yeah, I know it’s supposed to be C’est La Vie, but who cares, this club lounge could get you in for free at the rooftop observation area (so I’ve heard). As long as you order a drink or food, then you’re golden. You will still not have pool access by entering this lounge.

I searched high and low to find a way to get to use the pool (by paying an access fee or something), but everywhere I checked, everyone seemed to point at booking a stay at MBS as your key to use the pool.

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IMG_2462When we started to plan where we’d stay in Singapore, a stay at MBS was a tall order. I worked with my cousin, Joey, and he inquired about getting a lower rate. He was able to get a special rate available only to select high-rollers. I kept asking Joey how I could send my payment, but he kept dodging the topic, until finally he said that it was their welcome gift for us. Thanks, Joey and Yam!!!! So there, that’s how we ended up staying at Marina Bay Sands.

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Ok so where were we? Ok, before we went to bed, Nancy and I agreed to wake up early so we could go back up to the pool, swim some more, have breakfast, and savor every last bit of our MBS stay. That’s exactly what we did. While the pool opened at 6am, we got there close to 7:30am. I picked up a flaky croissant, and a blueberry cake. We had the tastiest coffee from our room, it was just an instant coffee, but so good. For the next three hours, we found ourselves battling with the weather. It wasn’t a stormy weather or anything. But it was cloudy and drizzled for a while. I actually enjoyed it. Growing up, I was never allowed to play in the rain. So there I was, like a kid, in an infinity pool, in Singapore…playing in the rain.

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We hopped in the jacuzzi on the other side of the rooftop. This time, it afforded us a view of Gardens by the Bay. The sun was peeking through the clouds…and just like that….sunshine!

Our checkout was at 11am, but I asked for an 11:30am checkout instead. Joey was on his way to pick us up, and for some odd reason, of all days, he experienced slowdown on his way to MBS. But no worries. We hung out at Sweet Spot, the breakfast/pastries coffee shop located in the lobby. I had no cell phone service. I relied on WiFi alone for this trip. So as long as we had WiFi service, we were able to communicate with Joey.

It was already close to 1pm when Joey arrived at MBS. For the next couple of days, he arranged for the three of us to go to Malaysia. Instead of flying, he suggested that we hire a driver. We met Suresh, our driver for the next couple of days. Suresh lives in Malaysia, close to the Singapore border. This is actually Suresh’s business – driving tourists around, and his service was recommended to Joey.
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We made our way towards the border. First, it was leaving Singapore, there was a brief wait as we left Singapore and we then drove towards the Malaysian border. This was where we had bumper to bumper traffic. It looked like everyone from Singapore wanted to go to Malaysia that afternoon. We must’ve snaked through the slow traffic for about an hour. Once we got past the traffic, we were back on the freeway. I didn’t know what to expect with Malaysia. All I knew was the fact that we were 300 km away from Kuala Lumpur, therefore, we were just sitting in the car. Thankfully, we weren’t exactly that bored. Joey and I had more opportunities to put all our family puzzle pieces together, we also talked to Suresh about things we’d do and see while in Malaysia. We finally made it to Melaka close to 6pm. First impression, lots of shops, restaurants, stores – but all looked closed. But we were told they’d open later that evening.

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Suresh dropped us off near a landmark where an old church once stood. We took pictures right before sunset, and just admired the architecture, the character of this old church. We strolled down and noticed lots of tricycles that were elaborately decorated with themes of Hello Kitty, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Despicable Me….they were brightly lit, and played loud music. No, we didn’t ride the tricycles. It was good enough to watch them pass by.


Instead, we spent the next hour and walked down what looked like a street fair. Lots of vendors. Lots of food and gadgets, clothing….yes, after all, we were in Asia. We took a little break and had fried squid and fresh coconut. That was enough to satisfy our hunger. We still had an hour left of driving before getting to KL.

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We finally made it to KL past 11pm. Instead of heading straight to our hotel, Suresh drove us around the city, and took us to the Petronas Twin Towers. Although we had tickets to go up the towers on Sunday, we decided to take pics here at night, since our visit on Sunday will be focused indoors. What a beauty. It’s not exactly silver in color alone. More like golden brown – not sure if that made sense. It was stunning. We took turns in taking pics and admiring the beauty of these towers.received_10155249204878533.jpeg
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IMG_4762After dozens of selfies, we headed back to the car and Suresh then drove us to a section of KL where there were street food restaurants and merchants. At past midnight, this place was bustling with activities, street performers, lots of vendors, and most of all, aromatic food. We opted to go with a restaurant that accepted credit cards. We didn’t really want to carry wads of cash around. For our dinner, we ordered Beef and Chicken Satay, Tom Yum Seafood soup, Mantau, Chili Crab, and fried rice. While I was looking forward to eating the crab, I got to tell you that the Tom Yum soup was the star. The tartness of the soup – delicious, coupled with the chunky seafood mix, perfection!

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Finally, it was time to check in to our hotel. I’ve heard many things about insane deals in Malaysia when it comes to hotels. Insane as in inexpensive when it comes to paying in cash or points. I didn’t want to pay a single dime so I used 15,000 Marriott Reward points and booked us a standard room at JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur. For 15,000, we were able to book a standard room with 2 beds. But I wrote to the hotel manager a few days before our trip, and was advised that I’d be getting an upgrade. Indeed an upgrade was given. We were upgraded to a Junior Suite, just perfect for me, Nancy, and Joey. The hotel decorated our bed with swans which added a nice touch. Lesson-learned on today’s upgrade? Ask nicely and you shall receive. That’s all for now…

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Also, here are my favorite cards that I use myself. Always make sure you have the latest and greatest offer. These offers do change from time to time.

chase-sapphire-preferredTo take advantage of credit card deals that will give you lots of bonus point for travels and trips, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and thesapphire_reserve_cardChase Sapphire Reserve – a perfect starter card that could easily get you 2 FREE roundtrip tickets from anywhere in the US to NYC or Hawaii, or just about anywhere. It’s also good for flights anywhere in the world.

Both cards will allow you to earn 50,000 bonus points, the difference lies on the benefits of the cards and the annual fee. For details on the difference, click here…..

biz_pref_cardIf you have a small business, you can also get 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points by applying for a Chase Ink card...I love this card! You can pay your cell phone bills with this card and get 3x per dollar.

 

 

freedom_cal_5_percent_cardChase has another card with rotational rewards that give you 5% Cashback or Ultimate Rewards…it’s the Chase Freedom. The promo has included purchases with gas stations, groceries, restaurant, the typical everyday spend. Just by signing up and spending $500, you get $150 cashback….best part? No Annual Fee.

platinum-card[1]With American Express Platinum, you earn 60,000 Membership Rewards good for air, hotel transfers, $100 Global Entry application credit, $200 Airline travel credit, $200 Uber credit, Priority Pass lounge access, and so much more! This one is another favorite!!!

 

The next cmobile_prem_heroard, I’ve used many times to get free rooms in Milan, Hawaii, San Diego, and New York City. The Marriott Card by Chase is great for  FREE hotel stays  – Chase Marriott Rewards. Sign up bonus is 80,000 points.

 

hilton-hhonorsLastly, for more FREE hotel stays, the American Express Hilton Honors card where you can earn 80,000 bonus points – great for Hilton brand hotels worldwide.

 

 

 

 

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