In my previous blogs, I published articles related to my holidays where I shared with you my experience and things/tips that I learned during my trips, i.e. My USA Trip 2013, My Europe & USA Trip 2014, My London Trip 2015 and My Europe Trip 2016. Unfortunately, I have deleted all of them when I decided to stop blogging in May 2017, hahaha. In all these trips mentioned, I managed to redeem free Business Class tickets with Malaysia Airlines using Enrich Miles converted from my credit cards’ reward points 🙂
My eldest son was accepted into a Top 10 Engineering University in USA at the age of 16 even before his SPM results were out (he entered Standard 1 at the age of 6 the year before our current PM who was Education Minister ruled that everyone must start Standard 1 at age 7).
FYI, I graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in the USA and upon completion continued with a Masters in engineering at the same Uni. And I found the time I spent in the USA made me independent and self-reliant. When my eldest son was in Form 5, he had no ambition then (maybe he was too young). I tried to brainwash him to pursue a MBBS degree but he refused. That’s why I decided to send him to USA to pursue a 4 year Engineering Degree in 2009. You see, the reason is because most of the universities in the USA only require their students to decide on an engineering major in their second year while they take general engineering related classes in their Freshman year.
And because my son was so young, my wife (who also graduated with a Bachelors of Science from the USA with GPA of 3.99/4.0) and I decided to accompany him to the USA and applied for US Visa which is good for 10 years. That was in year 2009.
I did return to the USA in 2013 to attend my son’s convocation. My son then pursued a Masters in Engineering Degree from an Ivy League Uni (Best of the Best World’s Top Unis), so my wife and I went to the USA again in 2014 to attend his convocation but this time we flew to Paris, then to New York and return via London (return KL Europe on Business Class with MAS complimentary from my credit cards’ reward points). While my son was at the Ivy League Uni, I guess it made him smarter (more matured), i.e. he started to plan for his future and decided 4 years ago that he wanted to be a doctor after all. He is now in his final year pursuing a Doctor of Medicine Degree (M.D.) in an Australia Uni ranked Top 50 in the world for Medicine. So, this son of mine burned a hell of a lot of my bloody money in the USA on his Engineering degrees! Well, actually he is burning his future inheritance for a good course and I get to brag very soon that he has 3 degrees, hahaha.
If you are new to my blog, please click here to read my article titled Spending Children Future Inheritance
Sometime in July 2017, during dinner at my brother-in-law’s home, he mentioned that AirAsia was having a sale to Hawaii where one could get a Flat Bed for about RM2,500 one way. So, I went and checked it out and I was surprised that a return ticket KL to Honolulu on Economy Class cost only RM1,800. That’s even cheaper than what I usually pay for my wife and children’s return KL/Melbourne during peak periods (Australia school breaks)!!!
My wife’s and my USA Visas will expire in 2019. However, my 3 younger children also have USA Visas which expire in Dec 2018 because they attended my sister’s wedding in the USA (she’s a Professor in a California State Uni) in 2008. And I tell you, applying for USA Visa is damn freaking tedious, having to provide this and that info. So, I asked my children if they would like to go to the USA again before their Visas expire and they said ok.
So, I booked 5 tickets on Economy Class with AirAsia and after including the price of Quite Zone, Hot Seats, Meals and Baggage, the total amount came out to be RM11,656 or RM2,331.20 per pax. Of course I used my Maybank 2 Cards Premier American Express Reserve and thus earned myself 12,218 Enrich Miles or KrisFlyer Miles or Asia Miles!!! I tell you, this Maybank AMEX Reserve is damn freaking fantastic, I earn more Enrich Airmiles from paying AirAsia tickets than I do from flying with AirAsia.
And if you are a follower of mine for years, you will know that I practice spending my children’s future inheritance where everyone gets to accumulate fond memories and my children will remember me as a generous dad instead of me trying to dig myself out of the grave when I see them burn my money on their GF/wives or maybe even BF/husbands without saying, “thanks dad”, hahaha.
The flight was scheduled to depart from KLIA2 at 2.15pm. We were unable to check in online due to USA security concerns. So, we went to the airport early and luckily we did because there were only 2 counters for checking in to Hawaii and the process was kind of lengthy as the ticketing counter had to key in the address we were staying in Hawaii for each person manually.
After checking in, my children wanted Isaac Toast (a famous Korean sandwich) which is located opposite Guardian in the shopping mall. My daughters had to wake up early just to be in the Q for more than an hour just to eat the damn sandwich while they were in South Korea last year. I on the other hand went and bought a “Hum Chee Peng” (red bean bun) at I Love Yoo. I tell you, my red bean bun only cost me RM2.50 or less whereas my 3 children simply spent my money and burned RM40+ on sandwiches!!! Then again, like I said, they are burning their future inheritance……. and me stupidly trying to save every sen, hahaha.
We then headed to the Plaza Premium Lounge next to Thai Odyssey located at the Mezzanine Floor, same floor as Burger King and Texas Chicken.
My wife has her own Alliance Bank Privilege Banking Debit Card that allows her UNLIMITED FREE entries to any of the Plaza Premium Lounges in KLIA2 but subject to monthly quota and first come first serve basis. I on the other hand used 4 cards mentioned below to grant FREE access for my 3 children and myself:
- Maybank Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer AMEX – 5X Plaza Premium Lounge Nationwide.
- Alliance Bank Privilege Banking Debit Card – UNLIMITED KLIA2, first come first serve basis with monthly quota.
- RHB Bank Premier Banking Visa Infinite – 10X (UNLIMITED if spend RM100K) Plaza Premium Lounge Nationwide.
- BMW White Card – 2X Monthly (24X per year) Plaza Premium Lounge Nationwide.
Then we headed to Eraman Duty Free. My wife wanted to get SK-II RNA Twin 80g Jars with FREE Booster which cost about RM1.3K. Reason being, Eraman does not sell SK-II products at the Arrival Hall. When I wanted to pay for it, the girl told me that my Eraman Privilege Member Card had expired on 31 December 2017, which means I can’t get 10% discount!!! WTF!!! I have spent thousands of Ringgit with Eraman and they don’t have the courtesy to sent me a new card. So, I refused to pay for my wife’s SK-II. The girl then told me that I can get a NEW Eraman Member Card On The Spot if I spend RM300.
Here is the joke, my wife signed up for Eraman Member card back in July 2017 but as of date she has yet to receive her card and now we can get it On The Spot!!!
I wanted the Eraman Member Card as it entitles me to 10% discount for my Cognacs. So, I told my wife to get something costing around RM300 and so happened they have the RNA 50g jar for about RM375. So, I paid for it without any discount and was issued a new Eraman Member Card On The Spot that is good for 3 years, i.e. expiry on 31 Dec 2020.
The flight from KL to Osaka to Honolulu was not full, and since we were in the Quite Zone and it’s off peak period, there were many empty seats. So, by me pushing up the arm rest, it’s a flat bed, hahaha. My wife, daughter and I managed to sleep lying down (to and from Honolulu).
We had to transit at Kansai, Osaka. This is my first time at Kansai, and the kids bought some Japanese snacks which they really enjoyed. I was excited when I saw my favorite Ippudo Ramen Akamaru, but it cost RM19 so i refused to buy it because I can have the real thing at the Gardens Mall for RM26, hahaha.
We landed in Honolulu at around noon and unlike Los Angeles or New York, we cleared Immigration and Customs pretty quickly. Took a taxi from the airport to my hotel at Waikiki Beach and it cost me USD45. Most of the taxis in Honolulu are 7 seaters!!! Therefore, the 5 of us and our luggage had no problems fitting into a single car.
For my stay in Honolulu, I booked 3 different hotels!!! Yes, that’s what I like to do, stay in different hotels even if I am holidaying in Penang, hahaha.
This first hotel I booked is called Aston Waikiki Circle. And the reason I chose it was because it had a nice ocean front view. Well, my room was Ocean Front but for my children it was Partial Ocean View, hahaha (saved about RM200 only).
We arrived at the hotel before 2pm and our rooms were ready. We put our luggage into the room and walked along Kalakaua Avenue, which is basically the main tourist road at Waikiki where all the major brands and shopping malls are located. We were kind of hungry and entered a restaurant called Atlantis which serves seafood. I ordered their fish and chips which was so so but I did like their clam chowder. Price wise it was reasonable and the service was good.
After lunch, we continue checking out the stores/shopping mall along Kalakaua Avenue and came across a Gucci Boutique which my youngest daughter (born in the year of the dragon) is a fan of. I really can’t understand why… youngsters I suppose. Anyway, she saw a handbag called Sylvie and she really loved it and told me that it is about USD400 cheaper in Hawaii compared to mainland USA and Australia. However, I refused to buy it for her. She has a Chanel Wallet On Chain which I bought for her in Paris and a Dior wallet from London when we went to Europe in 2016 in addition to MK and Coach bags.
We then headed back to the hotel to rest. At around 7pm, we had no idea what to eat for dinner. So, I told my older daughter to go check out what’s recommended by food websites and she found a place called Marukame Udon which is highly rated and about 10 minutes walk from our hotel. According to the reviews, there’s always a long Q but it moves pretty fast. And since it was a Monday, we thought that the queue should not be that bad. When we reached the restaurant, there was a freaking long queue. we waited about 30 minutes and then only it was our turn to order.
When I saw that the price of a bowl of Udon cost less than USD6, I thought to myself that tonight’s dinner should not cost me more than USD50. But after we chose the tempuras to our liking, the total bill cost me more than USD75, hahaha.
The only thing that I look forward to when I’m in the USA is McD’s Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit and there’s a Mc Donald’s right beside my hotel!!!
My wife and I enjoyed the view from our room while the kids went to the beach. I requested for one of the rooms to be extended to 1pm and the front desk personnel agreed to it. Just before noon, for lunch, we headed to Eggs ‘n Things which has 4 outlets in Waikiki and one of them is located in the lobby of our hotel! I tell you, this hotel is damn freaking convenient.
We ordered the pineapple glazed pork chop, waffles, pancakes and traditional Loco Moco. The pork chop was actually very good and the pancakes with the mountain of whip cream with macadamia nuts, fresh strawberries and coconut syrup is as close to heaven as you can get 🙂
At 1pm we checked out and took a taxi (cost me USD10) to our next hotel called Ambassador (to save cost). I booked a family suite over looking the ocean. It’s not ocean front but we do get a nice view of the ocean from afar.
I stayed 3 nights in this hotel and it only cost me RM1393.44 compared to Aston Waikiki Circle which cost me more than RM2.2K (2 rooms) for a night. The reason why I paid less than RM1.5K for 3 nights at Ambassador is because I used my Agoda Points collected from my Europe Trip in 2016 which allowed me to deduct about RM500 from the actual room cost.
Another reason why we do not need a nice ocean front room is because on the Day 3 (today) we have planned to visit Ala Moana Shopping Mall (the biggest outdoor shopping mall in the world), on Day 4 the Premium Outlet Mall, on the Day 5 Hanauma Bay for snorkeling and on Day 6 a hike up to Diamond Head in the early morning. Therefore, we won’t be utilizing the room much except to sleep.
After checking in, we took a taxi to Ala Moana Mall (cost me about USD10 too). My second son who is currently in his final year at University of Melbourne wanted to get a LV belt. So we visited the LV Boutique there and was introduced to a new belt by LV where you can chose your desired buckle and the belt colour (reversible) that cost USD700. So, I told my son, if he was going to spend so much on a LV belt, he might as well go check out Hermes and I would pay for the difference. He agreed to my suggestion and we headed to Hermes and he did find a Hermes buckle and leather belt (reversible black and brown) that was to his liking.
My son paid USD300 in cash and the balance of close to USD621.46 I used my RHB Premier Banking Visa Infinite to pay and thus earned myself 3300 Enrich Miles. He will need to reimburse me USD400 when we get home, hahaha.
We spent more than 4 hours at Ala Moana but my daughters did not buy anything except for some cookies and my youngest, a dress at Nordstrom. So, it was dinner time and we had no idea what we wanted to have. So happened we saw a signage that said “Japanese Village” near Nordstrom where we had to walk down the steps. Boy, were we surprised to find a food court offering various types of Japanese food. I did find a shop that serves Tonkatsu Ramen and it was pretty good.
We have booked a shuttle bus to pick us up from our hotel at 9.30am to the Waikele Premium Outlet Mall. Prior to me booking the shuttle bus on Day 3, I asked one of the taxi drivers how much it would cost to go to the Outlet Mall and he informed me about USD60-70 one way. I did see an ad in one of the tourist brochures that advertised it would cost USD6 one way from any hotel in Waikiki to the Outlet Mall. So I called the number and told him there were 5 of us and I was told that a return trip would cost me USD50 as a family 🙂
Upon reaching Waikele Premium Outlet Mall at around 10.30am, the first thing the shuttle bus driver did was to get us a discount coupon booklet. It was really nice of him because eventually I saved about USD65 using the coupons. Initially, we planned to return to our hotel at 2pm but ended up extending to 4.30pm because my wife spent close to 2 hours at Coach as they were having 50% off storewide. With the 50% discount, everything was like a super bargain (compared to Malaysia and Australia prices).
And because the total purchase of the stuff in my wife’s Coach shopping bags came up to just above USD1K, she was entitled to another 10% discount. So she ended up paying around USD850. Yeah, I know the figure doesn’t tally, i.e. 10% discount should be about USD900, I guess something to do with the tax. My wife used cash to pay for her Coach stuff and therefore I did not earn any Airmiles 😦
On the other hand, my son and I were in the Men’s Coach Store (also 50% discount storewide) for less than 15 minutes where he bought a back pack for about USD172 and I, a sling bag for USD100! YES! Freaking cheap!!! Same thing here where I used cash to pay for the bags and therefore did not earn any Airmiles too.
It was close to 12.30pm when my wife was done shopping at Coach. So we headed to McD and all of us ordered the Strawberry Milkshake which was freaking delicious.
After lunch my wife did not do much shopping at the other outlets but instead I bought 7 pieces of Polo Ralph Lauren t-shirts and 2 really nice unique material Giorgio Armani shirts at a good price (USD500 each but with 70% off). Remember I mentioned earlier that my shuttle bus driver got us the discount coupon booklet. Well, I did get USD20 to USD25 off my total bill at both Polo Ralph Lauren and Armani respectively because I spent more than USD200 each at these outlets.
My son also bought 2 pairs of Vans for USD75 (which is freaking cheap compared to what he would pay in Melbourne) plus 2 Guess t-shirts for about USD15 each. My wife and I also bought some stuff at Guess and because the total bill was above USD100, we got a discount too.
Surprisingly my 2 daughters did not spend much at Waikele Centre. Eldest daughter did not even get herself a Coach bag even though I kept telling her she should get one because Coach is one bag which everyone who comes to the US must get due to the freaking low price. But then again she already has a Chanel midsize handbag, 2 Pradas and also MKs and Coaches. Those of you who have been following me for years would have seen her bags.
We reached our hotel at about 5.30pm and took a rest as we had dinner reservations at Alan Wong’s which is ranked No,1 in Trip Advisor under Fine Dining Category and one time ranked No.8 best restaurant in the USA. FYI, we made reservations in the car while on the way to KLIA2 on Day 1.
We ordered the 5 course tasting menu but since I don’t take beef and am not a chocolate dessert fan, my waiter allowed me to change for something else; therefore I had the coconut sorbet which was really good.
All of us enjoyed our dinner and the children did say that the beef was really really good. And my daughters have had beef at a 3 Michelin Star restaurant in Paris which I refused to go to because it cost EUR300 per pax. Instead I went to a 1 Michelin Star restaurant in Paris where the bill cost approximately EUR100 per pax.
Anyway, the bill at Alan Wong’s came out to USD495.29 not including tips. In USA, it is customary to add 15% to 20% of the total bill price as tips. Forgot to take photo of the bill with tip where my waiter said I was very generous…. which means I over tipped I suppose, hahaha. I used my RHB Premier Banking Visa Infinite to pay for the bill and I just checked it online and it came out to about RM2,400 including tips. I will earn 8X Reward Points with my RHB Premier Visa Infinite for overseas spending and with the conversion of 6000 Reward Points to 1000 Enrich Miles, I earned myself 3,200 Enrich Miles.
We woke up at 5.30am as my 3 kids wanted to go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay (supposed to be one of the best as the water is shallow with beautiful coral reefs and many fishes) early in the morning.
Once again I booked the ride via an advertisement in one of the tourist brochures. In the ad, it stated it would cost USD17 per pax. The shuttle bus (more like a van) arrived at 7.15am and all the way from the hotel to Hanauma Bay, the lady driver was taking bookings on her phone and writing them down as she was driving!!! Later I found out that she’s the boss of the shuttle service. We reached Hanauma Bay at around 8am and was scheduled to be picked up at 11am.
The kids really enjoyed themselves snorkeling while my wife and I relaxed on the beach. My son came out of the water after an hour but the girls were snorkeling for 2 solid hours.
We reached the hotel just past noon. The children walked to the nearby 7 Eleven to get some food whereas I just took some instant noodles bought at the ABC Store (general store) located at the ground floor. After lunch, my son and I took a nap while the girls headed to Kalakaua Avenue again (10 minutes walk) for more shopping.
My son and I met up with the girls around 7 pm at Kalakaua Avenue. My youngest daughter wanted to try a particular restaurant but they had a waitlist of an hour as we did not make reservations. It was 7.30pm then and I decided to try our luck with Hard Rock Cafe which was a 10 minute walk away. So I called Hard Rock Cafe and was told that they had 2 tables available for 5 pax based on first come first serve basis….. so we walked super fast and managed to secure a table at Hard Rock Cafe.
When we returned to the hotel, my youngest dragon daughter (turning 18 this year) who is in Year 12 (similar to matriculation) this year in an elite all girls school in Melbourne announced to the family that she received an email informing her that she had been accepted into University of Melbourne (ranked No.1 in Australia and World’s Top 50) first year courses. Therefore, in addition to her high school classes this year, she will be attending University of Melbourne where she will take Macro Economics and Micro Economics for 2 semesters.
FYI, she sat for 2 Victoria Certificate of Education papers (Biology & Economic) and aced both papers. I bought her a Gucci belt last year as a reward. This year, she will be sitting for another 4 VCE papers.
Initially we planned to hike up Diamond Head but it was raining and windy in the morning and we all decided against it. So we just lazed around until 11am and then checked out early from Ambassador and headed to our final hotel – Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.
We arrived at Hilton Waikiki before noon. Initially I planned to just check in (supposed to be at 3pm) and store our luggage while we checked out the village (there are many stores and eateries). While checking in, the receptionist asked if I would like to upgrade my Ocean View Room to a Corner Ocean Front room for USD90? She assured me the view is really fantastic. Since it’s the last night I agreed to her suggestion and I tell you it was a really good decision as it allowed my family to watch the fireworks show literally at eye level from the room balcony.
And to my surprise, she told me that our rooms were ready 🙂 And because I upgraded the room, I won’t be imposed any early check in fee 🙂
Now, unlike the other 2 hotels I stayed earlier, the Hilton Hawaii Village reception check in/check out counters are really busy. So I told the girl who was checking me to ensure that she charge all the necessary resort/amenities fees to my credit card so that all my rooms are fully paid for because I would like to do Express Check Out the next day.
All in, the 2 days (1 night) at Hilton Hawaiian Village cost me more than RM4K for the 2 rooms but I think it’s a really worth while experience.
After checking in, we headed down to check out the shops and eateries at the village and ended up at Blue Water Shrimp. I tell you, this restaurant is damn freaking worth it. The food quality is really good and reasonably priced (mostly below USD20) and I’m super happy because I had Brazilian Lobster Tail for less than USD30 🙂
After lunch, I asked my youngest daughter if she still wanted the Gucci handbag she saw when we first arrived in Honolulu. You see, in view that my youngest daughter has been accepted into University of Melbourne for 2 courses this year while still in High School, I now have a new bragging right and therefore I am extremely delighted. And to reward her for her achievement of being accepted into University of Melbourne at the age of 17, I agreed to buy her a Gucci handbag.
Of course she said YES! We then walked to Kalakaua Avenue (I have purposely booked all my hotels within walking distance to the tourist centre at Kalakaua Ave). While at the Gucci Boutique, she had a hard time deciding which Gucci to get and finally settled for the Gucci Ophidia Imperial Dragon handbag.
Paid just above USD1550 for my daughter’s Gucci Ophidia Imperial Dragon handbag. I used my Maybank 2 Cards Premier Visa Infinite to pay for the bag for the purpose of accumulating KrisFlyer Miles (1 KF Mile for every RM0.954 spent) instead of my RHB Premier VI which only allows me to convert the reward points to Enrich Miles.
When I returned I checked the price at Gucci official website and noted it was selling for USD1980. So, I guess my youngest daughter is rather smart to get a Gucci handbag in Hawaii as it is cheaper than in USA mainland, Australia and even Malaysia.
I called up Gucci Malaysia and was told that my daughter’s dragon bag cost RM7,500, therefore she kind of saved RM1500 by getting the bag in Hawaii. So if you are thinking of getting a Gucci handbag, I guess you should fly to Honolulu by buying an AirAsia ticket during sale period and you would be getting a FREE holiday 🙂
After purchasing my youngest daughter’s dragon handbag, we headed back to the hotel and checked out the beach. And I am so freaking happy that there is a Dairy Queen right in my Rainbow Tower block. Besides McD Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit, another favorite of mine is Dairy Queen’s Strawberry Banana Blizzard. You must try it once if you ever come across a Dairy Queen store.
Below are some photos taken from the beach.
Like I mentioned earlier, the receptionist told me that there will be a fireworks show and that I can view it from my room. I tell you, it’s damn freaking cool watching the fireworks display literally at my eye level from my high level corner room balcony at the Rainbow Tower Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Really a wonderful memorable experience with my family. Luckily I agreed to burn USD90 to upgrade to the Ocean Front Corner Room at Rainbow Tower.
After the fireworks show, we headed down for dinner at a place called CJ. Did not take any photos of the food we had. Price was reasonable and food nothing to complain about.
The next morning I woke up at 6.30am to enjoy the morning view from from balcony.
We had breakfast at Wailana Coffee House which is located opposite Hilton Hawaiian Village. It was recommended by one of the taxi drivers while on the way to Ala Moana Mall from Ambassador Hotel. The food was pretty good.
After breakfast, the kids headed to the beach while my wife and I enjoyed the view from our room.
A few days ago while browsing through one of the tourist brochures, I saw an ad stating that it cost only USD36 for the limo ride to the airport, So I called them and true enough that’s the price. It’s cheaper than the USD45 I paid for the taxi ride from the airport to Aston Waikiki Circle on the first day I arrived in Honolulu.
So for my ride to the airport, I booked a stretch limo for 11am. All of us headed to the hotel lobby at 10.50am and by the time we reached the lobby the limo driver was waiting for us. First time I ever sat in a stretch limo and now that I know it can be cheaper than taking the taxi, next time I know better. I did tip the limo driver USD10.
I mentioned that while checking in the day before, I have paid all the necessary fees upfront and therefore I performed Express Check Out by simply inserting all the hotel cards (room, beach towel and dvd rental) into an Express Check Out envelope stating my name and room number and simply dropped it into a designated box. Luckily I did so because the Check Out counter was freaking long.
We arrived at the airport around 11.30am and was 3rd inline in the check in queue for my AirAsia flight which was scheduled for 3pm.
Clearing security was a breeze at Honolulu airport compared to Los Angeles and New York. We had ample time to check out the many shops after security and had lunch at Burger King. I was surprised to see that Malaysia Airlines flies to Honolulu!!! Must be Code Share.
While in transit in Kansai, I bought myself 2 cartons of fags and I must say that the Marlboro quality is so much better than the ones we get at KLIA and they cost roughly the same!!!
And below is the Martell XO Limited Edition with Miniature bottle. Because I did “renewed” my Eraman Privilege Member Card when i was departing to Honolulu, I was entitled to 10% discount and end up paying less than RM1K for the Martell XO 1L. Of course I used my Maybank 2 Cards Premier AMEX Reserve and earned myself about 1000 Enrich Miles or KrisFlyer Miles 🙂
FYI, all the photos above (maybe with the exception of 1 or 2) were taken with my Samsung Note Fan Edition which I bought through 11St for RM1909 where I used my Maybank 2 Cards Premier AMEX Reserve to pay for it and earned myself just above 1900 Enrich Miles or KrisFlyer Miles 🙂
Thank you for reading this article and I hope it will be beneficial to you.
An article by GenX