For those who haven't read the first part, I would suggest to read it through as this trip report is a direct continuation from where I left off in the earlier report.
Here we go...
* * * * *
Istanbul is definitely the place where one can shop till one drop. During my stay, I managed to go shopping at various places and felt its various moods.
Istiklal Avenue is a must go for shoppers. The avenue is Istanbul's answer to Paris' Champs de Elyssee.
There's always a huge crowd at the avenue be it day or night time.
A lot of items can be found here. Most of them sell apparels. We can also found a lot of reataurants, bars and cinemas along the avenue.
For a more unique shopping experience and for more specilized item, I went to the old bazaar at Sultanahmet.
Here, we can get great souvenirs like the Turkish carpets, porcelains, the bluish jewellery stones and also silverwares.
Make sure to bargain and compare prices of a same item whenever you are shopping in a bazaar. The seller usually marked up their goods more than 100% from the minimum selling price that he/she is willing to give you eventually.
For a more modern and exclusive shopping experience, I went to a grand new mall in Levent, the business district of Istanbul. The mall is called Kanyon. I think it got its name from its architecture which depicted the grand canyon.
and even more stunning interior.
Kanyon housed world's renowned brand like Zegna, Bally and GAB. There is also a modern cinema right in the middle of the building. Upscale expensive restaurants were also can be found here, it was located on the top floor of the mall.
Then, the bustling and dizzying (in a good way) shopping in the Grand Bazaar, a COMPULSORY for every visitor to Istanbul.
Must See Venues
There is a few places where a visitor must visit and see as they are the pride and soul of Istanbul.
Taksim Square is a very busy area. The square is equivalent to Arch de Triumph of Istanbul. A huge crowd can be seen here around the clock. It located near Istiklal Avenue.
In Besiktas, there is a grand old building, located by the sea and is called the Dolmabahce Palace. The palace was built to replace the old Topkapi Palace in Sultanahmet as the official resident of the Ottoman's Sultans. Founder of the modern Turkey, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk died in the palace. It is now a museum.
The palace is so huge. There is a beautiful clock tower at the main entrance of the palace.
Then there is Istanbul's icon, the Blue Mosque. It is one of the few functional (non museum) tourist attraction building in Istanbul.
Visitors are allowed to see what's inside except during praying time.
The Blue Mosque's outstanding interior.
And finally, the jewel in the crown of Istanbul, Hagia Sofia or Ayasofia as it was referred by the local. I personally advise everyone to visit this "former church turned mosque turned museum" at least once in a lifetime as what one will discover inside is incredibly amazing.
The history contained in Hagia Sofia is beyond man's imagination. I think it should have been gazetted as one of the wonders of the world.
Hagia Sofia's interior.
For me, a visit to Hagia Sofia is the highlight of my whole trip to Istanbul. Hagia Sofia is absolutely incredible.
A visit to Hagia Sofia will be worthier if one hired a tour guide who will tell you more about the museum. The guide will charge YTL 20 per person and the session will lasted for more than 2 hours. Choose older tour guides as they are more experience and spontaneous while conducting their guide session.
Visitors are required to pay an entrance fee to enter Dolmabahce Palace and Hagia Sofia.
I stayed in five hotels during my vacation. Don't ask me why, I like to switch hotels while on vacation.
I stayed at Ceylan InterContinental in Taksim,
My room at Ceylan InterContinental
SQ crew stayed at this hotel. I saw a group of SQ's FAs and pilots during breakfast at the hotel. MH's staff stayed at Polat Renaissance, a hotel near IST.
Then at Hilton Park in Macka,
The view from my room in Hilton Park, overlooking the Bhosporus.
Then in Point Hotel in Taksim,
The view from my room at Point.
Then in Conrad near Besiktas, also with a stunning view over the Bhosporus.
With its beautiful top floor restaurant called the Summit, where I had a breakfast with a fellow A.Netter, TurkishWings whom stayed nearby the hotel. Thank you TurkishWings for your travel tips. I am so happy to meet you.
And on the last night at the serene and posh Hilton in Taksim.
My room at Hilton. I even had my own expresso machine inside the room. Coffee anyone?
In all, I would rate the hotels as follows:
The best location: Point Hotel - very near to Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue.
The best room: Hilton - very lavish and large room with a balcony.
The best bed: Conrad - extremely comfortable. One would fall asleep instantly.
The best bathroom: Conrad - huge and have safety features to its design.
The best view: Conrad - being on the 9th floor, I got a magnificent view over the Bhosporus.
The best value for money: Point Hotel - offered a reasonable rate, a lot of freebies, cd player and free internet and free usage of business center.
The best service: Hilton - very friendly and professional. Staff speak English well.
The best gym: Ceylan InterContinental - excellent large gym with a lot of workout machines.
The best buffet breakfast: Ceylan InterContinental - offered a huge selection of foods in a very beautifully decorated restaurant.
The best health center: Hilton - offered great hamam (Turkish bath), sauna, steam room and indoor pools. The hamam is a must try.
I like almost all of them as each has its own appeal to me. But if I were to choose one establishment, then Point Hotel would be the place. An establishment with a great product.
Arrange a meeting with a fellow local A.Netter in the place where you are visiting. The excitement is different and it will made your day, as proved by my meeting with TurkishWings at Istanbul.
Hamam, or Turkish bath is a must try. A truly relaxing experience.
After spending seven wonderful nights in Istanbul, it was time to return home. I checked out at Hilton at 12:00 hours and got myself a taxi to IST. The journey tooks slightly more time due to the traffic congestion. I arrived at IST at around 13:30.
On my left, I saw the walkway to IST's transit hotel.
I proceed to the security screening hall immediately,
and saw huge queues there as everybody are subject to the screening.
About half an hour later, I completed the screening and headed to MH's check in counters which happened to be just nearby at island C. Lucky me.
The counters were not crowded and within seconds, I was checked in by the friendly Turkish officer.
Then I walked around a bit, to feel the environment inside IST's departure hall. There was a huge crowd that day I must say.
I proceeded to the immigration clearance,
and within 15 minutes, I was already inside the terminal. Immigration clearance was a breeze and very quick.
My flight was scheduled at 15:45 hours. To kill the time, I have some snacks at a food outlet.
There was quite a nice selection of local and western foods there. The environment there is laid back and not crowded. I sat there until my flight information appear in the departure screen.
At around 15.20, I headed to Gate 214, where my flight was assigned. IST terminal looks nice.
There was also a huge crowd at the walkway to the gate.
Upon reaching Gate 214, I saw a very familiar tail logo, MH's Wau Kucing from afar.
I rushed towards my gate,
but still managed to snap a close up photo of the aircraft which will bring me home before security screening. It was an Airbus 330-200.
I turned back and bid goodbye to Istanbul. I wish I could return here someday. I totally fall in love with Istanbul.
Date: 8 December 2006
Flight Number: MH 31
Carrier: Malaysia Airlines
Aircraft: Airbus 330-200
Route: Istanbul (IST) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
Departure Time: 15:45 hours Turkish time (GMT +2)
Arrival Time: 07:30 hours Malaysian time (GMT +8) on the following day
Seat Number: 22D (Aisle Seat)
Journey: 9 hours 30 minutes
Distance: 5,206 miles
Class of Travel: Y
Fare Category: T (Award Ticket)
The flight departed on time. It was a heavy climb and I think in Y, the load was 100%. Full to boot!
A view from my seat.
A quick look behind. Yes, full to boot.
Dinner was served after an hour and a half later. I had a rice based meal but I forgot to snap a photo of it. Maybe I was kind of hungry at that time.
Again, MH's Y cabin layout in that flight was 2-4-2 and my seat was the left most of the -4- seats in the middle. A blanket was placed on each seat. The section was served by two FAs, a man and a woman. The seat pitch was not as generous as in MH's 772s or 744s. The full load meant little space to stretch out.
By then, it was already dark outside. All seats in Y class were equipped with personal PTV and the IFE worked well. I watched three movies throughout the entire journey, "The Ant Bully", "The Illusionist" and "The Invinsible". I love all three of it. I managed to get a nap despite the uncomfortable seat pitch.
The FAs offered snacks to the passengers throughout the journey. Juice, plain water, carbonated drinks and beers were offered several times. The FAs also conducted several run of inflight duty free shopping sales.
Oh, hot and cold napkins were also distributed before take off and landing.
About two hours before arrival, breakfast was served. I choosed the fried rice. This time around, I managed to snap a photo of it.
It was filling and satisfying. Then I felt that the plane has started descending. The flight landed at KUL at around 07:30 hours Malaysian time.
MH's FAs were friendly and attentive as usual. Both of them took good care of me. I bid goodbye to them and disembarked the plane. In all, MH's Y product is great.
Last look at my flight after disembaking.
And then I was greeted at home soil with the glittering view of KUL's Satellite terminal.
I proceeded to the center part of the Satellite terminal.
Yes, world's best. That's my home airport.
Then I headed to the aerotrain station.
I took a ride on the train to the main terminal building.
After a short walk, I cleared immigration which was done electronically here in Malaysia. This machine only can be used by Malaysian passport holders as our passport has a built in microchip inside it.
Immigration clearance by the machine took only 10 seconds.
Then I headed to the baggage claim area,
retrieved my baggage and went straight to the ERL station at the ground level of KUL to catch a train to KL Sentral in downtown Kuala Lumpur.
I paid MYR 35 for a one way journey to KL Sentral.
Here is the train's cabin interior.
By 10:00 hours, I am already home in downtown Kuala Lumpur, right under my favourite tree at KLCC Park.
Treating myself on a holiday is a true contrast of my chores. No business, no phone calls, no people coming asking for things, no disturbance. I was totally relaxed during the 8 wonderful days in Istanbul. While on holiday, the most important decisions of the day were "What I am going to have for lunch/dinner?" and "Where am I going today?" which I am glad I handled superbly. Those events would never be that important when I am back at work.
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4706 posts, RR: 26 Reply 4, posted (7 years 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 10713 times:
I love the MH A330-200. I had the chance to fly on one during one of my numerous KUL-SIN shuttles. It is an amazing aircraft to be on. I cannot imagine getting stuck for 9 hours on their -300s though. Urgh!
Great report on my favourite airline!
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
SR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1728 posts, RR: 41 Reply 6, posted (7 years 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 10370 times:
That was an excellent report. The pictures of Istanbul were amazing, thanks for the insight.
I envy you, even though you fly Y, the service you received easily beat out what I got in Business this past weekend on a European carrier. If only I could fly MH some time in the near future. Good to see their service standards are as high as ever.
XA744 From Mexico, joined Mar 2004, 734 posts, RR: 3 Reply 7, posted (7 years 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 10260 times:
Very nice 2nd part !!!
I have very much enjoyed the Istanbul city tour. The mosques are truly amazing !!!
Noticed you really treated your self lavishly by having stayed at very fancy and expensive hotels, eh ??? Well, I guess you deserved it after having worked so hard the whole year, ain´t it ???
Want to ask, do they still serve satay in coach on MH ? Back in the nineties on longhaul runs, MAS used to provide three sticks of satay in your main course meal tray... Love and miss satay so much !!!
From your photos I was able to see that the 330s still look sharp. How old are the aircraft you flew on ???
Regarding IST, how efficient and comfortable is is the whole terminal ? Would you like to compare with KLIA ?
Thanks again Azizul for having shared with all of us your wonderful experiences.
No matter how you fly...just never get your wings clipped !
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4706 posts, RR: 26 Reply 8, posted (7 years 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 10200 times:
Quoting Cabso1 (Reply 5): Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 4):
I cannot imagine getting stuck for 9 hours on their -300s though. Urgh!
Why do you say that?
MH is a 5 star airline (despite their present problems) and the A330-300s are a very poor representation of what the airline can truly offer. The insides has NEVER been refurbished ever since they took delivery of the aircraft type in 1994 so it is now what... 12 years old?
Thus, after the removal of First Class, the extended Golden Club (JCL) cabin just has very basic seats without lumbar support or adjustable headrests, a footrest (all manual operated) and abysmal pitch. There are no PTVs to speak of which is, of course, the standard offering of any major airline.
Hence, if I paid a premium price to fly Golden Club with MH, and I got ushered into the A330-300, I would not be a happy traveller.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2102 posts, RR: 19 Reply 10, posted (7 years 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 10080 times:
Thank you all. I truly appeciate all your feedbacks.
Emrecan: Merhaba, I really hope that I can visit Istanbul again in 2007. Maybe you could come to Kuala Lumpur and write a trip report about my hometown. By the way, the most frequent Turkish word which I spoke during my trip was "Tesekkur ederim".
767747: Well, what can I say, Malaysia Airlines is Skytrax's World's Best Economy Class in 2006.
Mhodgson: I like photography, though I can say that I am very beginner. I'll improve on it. I am a light traveller, so switching hotels was not a problem. Plus, 3 of the 5 hotels are situated very near to each other. Ceylan InterContinental and Point are located opposite each other in a main junction in Taksim while Hilton is nearby, a bit towards the central business district. A 5 minutes walk will bring one to all three establishments.
Ryanair!!!: MH's A330-200 is definitely better than the 300 series. I really enjoyed flying on the A332's C class on my way back to KUL from KCH for the trip to IST (sadly I didn't bring my camera at that time). The seat pitch is like a football pitch. Anyway, 3 days after arriving in KUL from IST, I flew KUL-CGK on MH's A330-300 aircraft in C. The trip report will be posted soon. Stay tune.
Cabso1: Salam Abu, I am glad you enjoyed the trip report.
SR 103: Istanbul is such a beautiful city. Actually it was you who I envied. Your trip report on MH's C, I think it was a flight from India (Bangalore if I was not mistaken) to LAX is my all time favourite MH's trip report on A.Net. I wish I could produce a trip report of that quality.
XA744: Horacio amigos!!! How are you doing? You are absolutely right. I have been working so hard throughout the year. So when I was in Istanbul, I wanted to give myself the nicest treat (which I can afford). The hotels weren't that expensive. Point and Hilton Park were in the USD 150 per night price range while Ceylan InterContinental, Conrad and Hilton were in the USD 200-250 per night price range. I am a Hilton HHonors Gold VIP, so I got upgraded free of charge in Hilton Park, Conrad and Hilton.
I think MH still serve satay, but only in F and C. And I think it is served on long haul international routes only. I flew on C regionally but satay was not served. Come to Malaysia, I'll bring you to the best satay house in the world!
I am not sure about the age of the aircraft which brought me to KUL from IST. I didn't jot down its registration number. However, from what I know, all MH's A332s are former Sabena aircrafts (am I right?). I bet it must be more than 10 years old.
IST is a nice terminal. Before performing the journey, I read all comments about IST in Skytrax's website, which gave unfavourable view about the airport. But to my surprise, everything went smoothly when I travel through, in and out of the airport. The immigration and check in officers were friendly fast and served with a smile. But I hope the staff there can improve on their English. Since IST was comparably smaller than KUL, one doesn't have to walk such a long distance to get onboard/offboard. The only comparison which I can make about IST and KUL are the architecture, where KUL is an architectural masterpiece while IST is of more simpler in design. Nevertheless, IST is still a nice looking airport as evidenced by my photos.
Hope to hear from you Horacio.
Ryanair!!!: MH's present problems will soon come to an end. They managed to get a profit in Q3 of their current financial year.
SR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1728 posts, RR: 41 Reply 11, posted (7 years 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 10042 times:
Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 10): Your trip report on MH's C, I think it was a flight from India (Bangalore if I was not mistaken) to LAX is my all time favourite MH's trip report on A.Net.
Thank you! I had no idea anyone still remembered my BOM to LAX report on MH. Sadly this year MH was far too expensive so I shall be flying KE back to the US from BOM, lets see if they even come close to MH standards. I am just about to post the report on my AF flights to BOM from last week.
Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 10): I wish I could produce a trip report of that quality.
I say you have gone above and beyond the quality of my trip reports! These two sets were absolutely fantastic and I look forward to more from you. Thank you again for the compliment.
9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2102 posts, RR: 19 Reply 14, posted (7 years 16 hours ago) and read 9794 times:
SR 103: Oh, I remember many of the details in that trip report of yours, like your thought about MH's lounge in KUL, the satay served onboard, the turbulence and "Catherine". It was epic.
So the bad flight on a European carrier you experienced last week was AF?
MH017: Hoi Pieter! Hoe gaat het vandaag? Merry Christmas hoor. Thank you for your nice words. I agree with you. IST is the most far destination in MH's network which is served by the A332s. I think MH should upgrade it to 772s, don't you think so? I was surprised as well to see the very full loads on my inbound trip. My plan to get an empty window seat at the rear of the aircraft shattered!
I'll cover more "areas" just for you in my future trip reports. Groetjes en tot ziens.
BNE From Australia, joined Mar 2000, 3164 posts, RR: 12 Reply 16, posted (6 years 12 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 9688 times:
Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 4): I love the MH A330-200. I had the chance to fly on one during one of my numerous KUL-SIN shuttles. It is an amazing aircraft to be on. I cannot imagine getting stuck for 9 hours on their -300s though. Urgh!
MH is a 5 star airline; the seat pitch of 34 inch on the 777 and the 747 make the A330 just a bit more cramped.
The PTV keep you occupied though.
Thanks for the interesting report. Very few reports on trips to Turkey.
Isz1 From Malaysia, joined Apr 2000, 86 posts, RR: 2 Reply 19, posted (6 years 12 months 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 9558 times:
Thank you for flying with MAS. Job well done for the cabin crews too.
Yes, they still "serving" satay for EY pax for both international and domestic sectors... provided EY choice of meals on "that" particular flight are malaysian fried rice with chicken satay or something else.
more "add-ons" product/service(s) in coming future as MAS currently reviewing their in flight catering, service n product (especially for EY zone)... "maybe" a big maybe, new EY cabin interior as 9M-MQO already seen some "minor changes". but dont quote me lah...
Ermm Wau Kucing? thought it was a wau bulan (moon kite) as per description on MAS manual book.
really enjoy your trip report & photos. Happy new year!.
777MAS From Malaysia, joined Sep 2003, 197 posts, RR: 0 Reply 21, posted (6 years 12 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 9457 times:
I'm envious - for "just" 39,000 Enrich FFP miles you get to fly somewhere that's over 5,000 miles away!! Last year, I had to "pay" with 25,000 miles just for a domestic trip (Sabah to KL) that's only 1,151 miles (one way) in distance!! No fair!!! IIRC, with SQ, you could fly from SIN to DPS for only 15,000 miles. MH needs to look into this!
9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2102 posts, RR: 19 Reply 24, posted (6 years 12 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 9360 times:
Cedars747: Thank you so much for all the nice words, Alex.
BNE: Bevan, agreed. I think the seat pitch in MH's A332s Y class are only 30 or 31 inches. Thanks to the ptvs.
HAWK21M, FLIEGER67: Thank you again Markus and MEL. I included the photos and commentaries about the places I went to and stayed at while in Istanbul as I thought they were important elements in a "Trip Report" from my definition. Plus, I sure hope some readers may benefit from it.
Isz1: MH is my favourite carrier in the world! Thank you for the insider's information about the soon to be launch MH's new Y class products. This is a BIG news. I'll track on 9M-MQO to experience the new cabin.
Yes, Wau Kucing. I have a photo of it in my Airliners.Net profile. Wau Bulan is the one at the back of Malaysian 50 cent coins. That's not the kite at MH's tail, isn't it? I think there's a typo at MH's manual book as Wau Bulan is much more popular among Malaysians compared to Wau Kucing.
Abrelosojos: Thank you again. MH was the recipient of Skytrax's World's Best Economy Class in 2006.
777MAS: Aaa... don't envy me. Being an Enrich member I supposed you are aware that MH give "discount" on certain routes in each issue of Enrich's newsletter, World of Riches. I think I was just lucky that during the time I wanted to redeem some miles to travel, MH gave an offer to IST for only 39,000 miles, compared to its normal "price" of 60,000 miles, in Category 6 alongside all routes in Europe (LHR, AMS, CDG, FRA, ARN, FCO, Zurich) and AKL. When I saw it in the November 2006 - January 2007 issue, I almost jumped with joy because actually prior to knowing about it, I planned to redeem a ticket to SYD for 45,000 miles. IST is more enchanting than SYD to me. Apart from IST, the offer is also extended to all Chinese destinations, all Japanese destinations, DXB, KHI and SIN, each with a "price" tag of less than 30,000 miles for a return trip ticket in Y.
With 25,000 miles which you redeemed to BKI, you can get a return ticket in Y to HKG, CAN, Kunming, PVG, XMN or SIN starting from as low as 13,000 miles. In the previous issue (August - October 2006), MH gave discount to all ASEAN destinations, all Chinese destinations, all Indian destinations, Colombo and Male from as low as 12,000 miles (to Phuket and Medan from KUL). Isn't that amazing?
So, better check the newsletter first before redeeming your miles.
Karan69: Karan, Istanbul is indeed a fabulous city. All MH's A330-200s were equipped with ptvs in Y. But in its 300 series sister, which were used mostly on intra Asean routes were not equipped with ptvs. Both my outbound and inbound flights were equipped with ptvs. I watched 5 movies during the trips.
WING: That was the nicest compliment, thank you WING. I just expressed how I felt about Istanbul. I love architecture too, particularly on historical and old buildings. That's what makes me love and appreciate Istanbul even more.
Merry Christmas to all readers!
25 ThereAndBack: Thanks for writing this great trip report! Kanyon is such a great shopping center I am glad you went I didn't see many tourists when I was there. MH a