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Old 7th January 2020, 10:37 PM   #1
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Default Surprising Shenzhen via SilkAir and SQ Business

Due to the recent Hong Kong political unrest situation, I had tweaked my original flight to HKG and changed to the neighbouring city of Shenzhen. Was a good choice as there were several demonstrations in Hong Kong over the Christmas holidays.

Shenzhen was once the poor gateway from Hong Kong into China, but with recent rapid developments taking place, this secondary Chinese city has transformed into a very modern city rivaling the mega cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It was almost 15 years since my last trip to Shenzhen and I was very surprised by the progress the city had made over these years.

Started the trip at Changi Terminal 2, where check-in was done at the sole SilkAir Business Class counter at Row 2.




Felt something was missing, turned to Row 1 where SQ's First and Business check-in row was, and yes indeed, the carpets at the premium check-in counters have been removed.




Boarding pass was printed on SQ stock.




First stop was the Silver Kris Lounge at Terminal 2.




At the entrance of the lounge, boarding passes were checked and we were directed to the Business Class section. Overheard some Star Alliance elites who were flying SilkAir economy being turned away as 'SilkAir is not part of Star Alliance'. Guess this problem would be gone in a year's time when SilkAir is fully integrated into SQ.






Work area near the entrance.




Seating area. The lounge is in need of a total revamp, and hopefully revamp will commence after the lounge at T3 is completed.






Buffet and dining area.





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Old 7th January 2020, 10:47 PM   #2
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Decent selection of buffet items were available.






The single 'live' station was offering a Christmas dish of Roasted chicken with chestnut stuffing.




My selection from the buffet. Surprisingly, the food were all rather tasty as compared to my previous visits.








Left the lounge and headed to the gate. With the movement of Scoot to Terminal One, Terminal Two was now much quieter than before.






Some plane-spotting, with the only interesting aircraft being the LOT Polish Dreamliner.








The aircraft I would be flying on.

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Old 7th January 2020, 11:03 PM   #3
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24 December 2019
SilkAir
MI 968
Singapore (SIN) - Shenzhen (SZX)
B737-800
9V-MGJ
Business Class
Flight Time: 3H45M



Boarding gate at E2.




The baby Boeing for this evening's flight to Shenzhen.




Judging by the number of passengers at the gate, the flight seemed rather full. Boarding was called and priority boarding was enforced.






Stepped onboard and was warmly welcomed by the crew. SilkAir's B737-800s were fitted with recliners in Business Class. Not the best seats out there, but sufficient for this sub-4hrs flight. This could also well be my last SilkAir Business Class experience before the airline is absorbed into SQ by end-2020.




My seat at 1A. A pillow and blanket was already placed on each seat.




Mechanical seat controls.




Radio channels? Wonder if they were even used at all.




Legroom was sufficient at Row 1.




Overhead drop-down screens showing how to download SilkAir's wireless IFE app. No need to download for Business Class passengers as IFE devices would be provided later.




View out the window.




Inflight magazine, duty free and safety card.

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Old 7th January 2020, 11:15 PM   #4
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No menus were available, but a beverage list was provided at every seat.






During the bustle of boarding on this narrowbody, the crew managed to take our pre-departure drinks orders. Got a glass of coke with ice, as well as an apple juice.






Scented hot towels given out.




Doors closed and safety demonstration was played overhead. Business Class cabin was 9/12 this evening, a rather healthy load for the holiday season.




While awaiting pushback, crew handed out iPads and earphones. The earphones were definitely not Business Class quality, and similar to what is provided on SQ Economy.






Pushed back.






Taxiing to the runway, with various aircraft departing.



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Old 9th January 2020, 08:36 PM   #5
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Garuda B738 and a couple of Air New Zealand B787s (bound for AKL and CHC).








We are next in line, with a long queue of aircraft behind.






Departure from Rwy02C.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbOp2lTY09Y













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Old 9th January 2020, 09:27 PM   #6
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For easier viewing of the iPad, you can request for a tablet holder from the crew. Not many passengers knew about this.






The female purser and a steward would be serving us in Business today. Interestingly, the rest of the crew in economy were all guys as well. We were all handed a pair of slippers.




Shortly after takeoff, we were offered more drinks as well as a selection of bites of chips, pretzels or nuts. Went for SilkAir's signature cocktail 'Joy', which was beautifully prepared, as well as chips and pretzels to enjoy with Dark Phoenix.






Crew conducting service.




Meal orders were taken but as we had pre-booked the All-Time Favourites (SilkAir's version of Book-The-Cook), the crew double confirmed our orders while taking orders from other passengers.

Meal trays were delivered, which consisted of a selection of Chinese starters, selection of bakery items and a Christmas dessert.




Chinese starters consisted of braised peanuts, pickled vegetables and a cold meat.




Warm garlic bread and onion roll.




Dessert was some vanilla mousse cake with blueberry compote.




For the main, I had pre-ordered the Masala Fish Biryani served with Dhal and Egg. When serving the main, the crew remarked that this was the best choice today on the flight! And boy was he right. Not only was the portion huge, but flavours were great too! A very tasty meal onboard a plane.



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Old 9th January 2020, 10:09 PM   #7
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Had a glass of champagne to go with my meal.




My friend had pre-ordered the Singapore Fried Hokkien Mee served with Belachan Chilli, which tasted fairly authentic as well. It was a good choice to have pre-ordered from the All-Time Favourites menu as the onboard choices served to the other passengers looked 'meh'.




Ending with the delightful cake.




To round up the meal, I had a mug of hot chocolate while spending the rest of the flight on the movie.




Visit to the lavatory, which was clean but nothing special, with the same amenities as you would find in a SQ Economy class lavatory. Definitely no branded amenities here.






Before our descent into Shenzhen, crew came around to offer pralines in individual dishes and any other beverages.




This was followed by more hot towels and sweets during descent. The service by the SilkAir crew were excellent! It may not be as formal and elaborate as SQ, but you could sense the service was genuine and crew was all out to please even with the very limited hardware.






Soon, we were approaching Shenzhen and landed in Bao An International Airport Rwy16 slightly ahead of schedule.







https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPn79xqJso8
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Old 10th January 2020, 06:28 PM   #8
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Lengthy taxi to the terminal and parked at the gate.










Disembarking and a last look at 1A.




Our aircraft at Shenzhen.






Some collectibles from the flight, courtesy of the literature pocket and cabin crew.




Though SilkAir is the poorer sister of SQ, with inferior hardware and less elaborate service, it was made up by the wonderful, casual and genuine service by its cabin crew. Service was not pretentious nor robotic (as a youtuber recently commented on SQ's service). It was instead more 'fun' where and we were treated more casually like friends, instead of the formal service usually on SQ which can get a bit uncomfortable sometimes. Guess I will miss SilkAir's style of service after it is merged into SQ later this year.


Immigration and customs were quick as there were no other international arrivals, and we took the airport bus to Luohu, which is the 'older' part of Shenzhen and at the MTR border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Stayed for the 1st 3 nights at Shangri La hotel. This hotel is the 1st international hotel in Shenzhen, and as expected, the interior is a bit aged though well-maintained.






View from my hotel room the next morning. The hills ahead are actually in Hong Kong territory.




The next day, we had an excellent buffet dimsum brunch at Shang Palace restaurant within the hotel.

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Old 10th January 2020, 07:13 PM   #9
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Some of the dimsum were really cute, such as this mouse-shaped (or issit pig) custard buns.




Another round of orders.




Shenzhen has developed quite rapidly, with many modern buildings popping up.




But there are some conserved areas, like the popular Dongmen Old Street, which has transformed into a shopping street.






Some light desserts.




Pop into a supermarket, and saw some interesting and colourful Lays potato chips!






Next morning, had breakfast at the hotel. The buffet breakfast had a huge selection of choices!







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Old 10th January 2020, 08:15 PM   #10
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More of the breakfast buffet.








Chanced upon a fresh seafood market while heading to a dried goods wholesale center.










Dried goods wholesale center










A bowl of warming mala soup for lunch.

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Old 11th January 2020, 02:25 PM   #11
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Dafen Oil Painting village, a small town with everything art and paintings. You can buy art pieces, get any paintings drawn or join in an oil painting session!














Dinner was a coconut chicken hotpot. An interesting experience with coconut juice used as the stock of the hotpot. It was a rather popular dish in Shenzhen currently.




After 3 nights at the Luohu area, we shifted to the newly developed Futian commercial area with modern office buildings and shopping.




Checked into Wydham Grand. It was a rather new hotel, with amazing room, bathroom and views.






Lunch at Tanyu Grilled Fish restaurant at the InTown Shopping mall near the hotel.



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Old 11th January 2020, 02:36 PM   #12
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Walking around Futian, you would not feel like you are in China, with all the modern glass fašade skyscrapers and luxurious malls. Ping'An International Financial Building, the 4th tallest building in the world, is also located in Futian.














Futian skyline at dusk.






Headed to Huaqiangbei in the evening, which is the largest computers and electronics shopping and trading area in China. There were many buildings around the area selling everything electronics, but many were closing in the evening. However, there was a food night market in the area also.






Headed down to OCT Bay at night, a new shopping, recreational and dining area by a lake.



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Old 13th January 2020, 08:31 PM   #13
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Walking along OCT Bay










DJI has its flagship store here. Interested in buying some drones?






Next day, we took a day trip up to Guangzhou. But first, have a McDonalds Chinese breakfast, inclusive of soya bean milk and fried dough!




Took the High-speed rail for the 45min ride up to Guangzhou from Futian train station. Went up in 2nd Class, which was in a 3-2 layout. Seats were comfortable enough for the short and speedy trip up north.




Guangzhou's shopping street at ShangSiaJiu.








Hearty cantonese lunch at the renowned Guangzhou Restaurant.


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Old 13th January 2020, 09:23 PM   #14
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Delicious double-skinned milk dessert.




In the evening, we took the High-speed rail back to Shenzhen. Guangzhou South Railway Station is massive!






China's version of the bullet train.




Decided to upgrade to Business Class on the short trip back to experience the premium service on the train. The Business Class cabin was fitted with very spacious lie-flat seats, similar to those onboard planes. There was a pillow on each seat.






There was a single train attendant in the Business Class cabin to attend to us. The train was travelling at more than 300km/h.




We were provided with a snackbox with assorted snacks, packed towel and a choice of drinks for the 39min ride to Shenzhen North station. It was a very relaxing way to travel on a train!






Reached Shenzhen North train station.




Had a late dinner at Haidilao hotpot restaurant.




On the last day, we had an early lunch, which was Hangzhou cuisine at the popular restaurant chain Grandma's Place.

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Old 15th January 2020, 03:42 PM   #15
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Great TR. I go to Shenzhen and Guangzhou quite often for work. My random observations:

1) There's a lot more history and culture in Guangzhou. It is a truly Cantonese city. Lots of people in Guangzhou have lived there for generations. Shenzhen on the other hand, was no more than a village a generation ago. Almost the entire population moved there from somewhere else in China, so it is the most multi-cultural (in a narrower sense of the word, i.e. having people from all over China) city in China. It is not at all Cantonese. Also, I have yet to come across anyone over 40 who is from Shenzhen.

2) I agree Shenzhen is a very modern city, but many cities in China are like that with entire sections built very "futuristically". In Guangzhou, you can check out the Pearl River New Town (a mini-Pudong). In Shenzhen. it is probably even more apparent if you go to where the tech giants (like Tencent) are headquartered.

3) I hate taking MI to Shenzhen, preferring to fly SQ to HK and then ferrying over to Shenzhen. You can do it without even clearing immigration in HK. I agree MI crew is more chilled out, but there's no IFE and food is really not up to par. Also, there's only one flight a day to Shenzhen so schedules are pretty restrictive.

4) On the high speed rails, there is a class in between 2nd and Business called 1st (yes "Business" is a class beyond 1st); I posted a TR here years ago. I find 1st class to offer the best value for money (priced closer to 2nd class than business class) but it often gets sold out early on busy routes.
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