Miami, no vice: Trip planning
EVA Air B77W Hello Kitty Business Class SIN-TPE
Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei
EVA Air B77W Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United A320 Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Jetblue A320 Economy MCO-JFK
Revisiting the EVA Air and SQ Taipei lounges
I thought I’d wrap up this trip report (a few months late) by revisiting the lounges in Taipei. The flight back to Singapore was with EVA, which was excellent as usual but pretty much the same as the previous reports.
However, my previous review of the lounges in Taipei was blighted by horrible lighting and photography. The way the Taipei airport tweaks the lighting in the evening means the lights are bouncing off every shiny/reflective surface, resulting in gems like this
This is not my fault as I am an awesome photographer and have been asked by many women to photograph them like one of my french girls. Besides, we all know that people read The Milelion for award winning, visually stunning photographs and not the dreck that passes for writing.
My flight from JFK to Taipei landed in the wee hours of the morning, and my Ansel Adams senses told me that the lighting at this hour was much different and more conducive to photography. So I decided to give it another shot-
EVA Air Lounge (Infinity & Star)
The Infinity lounge was deserted this early in the morning, which made photo taking a lot easier (remember the difference between the two is that the Infinity lounge is for EVA Air’s business class passengers, whereas the Star is for Star Alliance Gold passengers. If you’re a Star Gold flying EVA Air Business Class you can access both). You can see that, for whatever reason, my camera isn’t producing those weird lens flare things now. Here’s the main sitting area in front of the buffet, just before the Tron Tree.
And the Tron Tree itself! So much easier to photograph now.
The row of chairs that lines the wall facing the public departure area.
I came early. Like really early. So early the food for the buffet wasn’t even out yet. That was fine, as I wasn’t particularly hungry.
I decided to cross over to the Star lounge to attempt re-photography. They were also in the process of setting up breakfast.
There was tons of seating when I first arrived, but the place gradually filled up as more early morning flights landed.
The Star lounge has a quiet area with recliner seats. No separate sleeping rooms, sadly, but hey, we can’t all be the Al Safwa lounge.
Eventually the buffet was set up and I wandered over to take a look. There was a good selection of cooked and cold items, with a strong emphasis on vegetarian stuff.
But there was also back bacon, which made everything better.
It was early but the deserts and cheeses were out too.
As well as the full range of drinks.
I had the quintessential lounge meal- a bit of everything. The pasta was surprisingly passable, although and the broccoli was fresh and crunchy.
The Infinity & Star lounges are good enough to pass an hour or two, although they wouldn’t be in the “come early for this” category. They’ve got a good selection of food and places to work, but there’s no wow factor like a lounge, day rooms, video games or any bells and whistles. Kind of reminds me of the SilverKris lounges, come to think of it.
That brings me to…
SQ SilverKris Lounge
After taking my photos in the EVA air lounge I realised that it was just about opening time for the SilverKris lounge. As a lowly KF EG member, I am cast out from the SilverKris lounges in Singapore, but welcome to the ones overseas. Quite frankly, I’ve not met a SilverKris lounge I didn’t like- the one in London is amazing, the Bangkok one just got refurbished and I must be one of those rare few who appreciated the one in SFO before it got closed down.
I went on over to discover that I was the first person in the lounge! I could do whatever shenanigans I wanted and there’d be no one to give me puzzled looks. I could compose artistic angles, painstakingly document the buffet and take the sort of high impact photography people have come to expect of The Milelion. I felt like setting up a scaffolding and painting the roof.
The lounge hasn’t had its makeover to match SQ’s new Home theme, but it’s still a very pleasant place to be nonetheless. There is no separate First Class section (SQ doesn’t operate first class to Taipei anyway), so the entire lounge is one big room with plenty of seating by the windows, at the marble tables and by the TV.
They also had a wide selection of reading materials
I was so early the buffet hadn’t even been put out. But when it had, I made a beeline to photograph the food in its perfect virginal state. I was giddy with excitement, to be able to take proper photos without someone nudging me out of the way with a serving spoon.
The food options were substantial- scrambled eggs, dumplings and what I think is chicken.
And two kinds of veggies plus fried noodles
A steamer had a limited selection of baos and siu mai.
There was surprisingly good bak kut teh. I don’t know if they imported the mix from Singapore or made it in house, but it was nice and peppery and had an excellent kick.
They had cheese and cookies out as well.
And you could try and toast some stale bread to bring new life into it.
The full alcohol selection was out, with the usual hard liquors and wines.
The fridge was full of soft drinks, juice, fruit, yogurt and beer.
I assembled a plate and felt sophisticated sitting at the marble table, reading my favourite government mouthpiece and praying I wouldn’t run into a Sumiko Tan article.
The other great feature of the lounge was this display case which shows off all sorts of kitsch SQ accessories. I can’t believe they don’t have something similar in the Singapore lounge.
Have you seen SQ monopoly?
Or the SQ Hello Kitty dolls?
Or kebaya-patterned monkeys (not for sale sadly)
Or the SQ A380 playset?
On the whole, I actually slightly prefer the SilverKris lounge to the Infinity and the Star, simply because it’s less crowded. The majority of Star Gold passengers transiting through Taipei would be directed to the EVA lounges, and the SilverKris facility is relatively more under the radar. Yet it still has good food, comfortable seating and shower facilities.
So this wraps up Miami, no vice. For a novice to Miami (see what I did there), it was a great trip and full of places I’d love to re-visit (especially the Keys. Pity Bloodline Season 3 was such a steaming pile of refuse). I know I originally planned to do something on Disneyworld, but I think I’m going to save that for a special occasion…