- San Francisco to Sydney: United Airlines First Class
- Eating Our Way Through Sydney + Hilton Sydney
- Road Trip to the Blue Mountains + Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort + Spa
- Diving at the Great Barrier Reef, Day Trip to Port Douglas + Hilton Cairns
- Stopover in Brisbane to Cuddle Koalas + Hilton Brisbane
- Brisbane to Male via Singapore: Singapore Airlines Business Class
- Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
- Extended Layover in Sri Lanka before ex-CMBing + Amangalla
- Colombo to London via Dubai: Emirates First Class
- Spending the Day at the Dubai Mall + Emirates First Class Terminal
- London to San Francisco: British Airways First Class
As I was planning the flights for the honeymoon, I had explored different options to get to the Maldives from Australia. Working backwards, since CX hadn’t started their HKG-MLE service at the time, the best option looked to be a connection through SIN. There were a good number of options for getting to SIN from Australia (ADL, SYD, MEL, PER, BNE), but since we had already headed north we didn’t want to go back to ADL/SYD/MEL, and getting to PER would require a trans-con flight all the way to the West coast, so BNE looked like the best option. As an added bonus, one of the BNE-SIN flight left at 11:40pm and the redeye would save us a night of hotel.
As an aside, as I was planning the trip I had actually been able to get a round-trip booked on the website using my United miles that was SFO-SYD (open-jaw) MEL-SIN-MLE (stopover) – SIN-NRT-SFO all for 160,000 miles each. But sadly, after making a couple date changes, the ticket went out of synch and the pricing desk came back and said that it was an invalid routing. If I had flown it exactly as is I could have kept it, but with subsequent date changes needed I couldn’t make it work and just ended up booking SFO-SYD one-way, and BNE-SIN-MLE one-way at 45,000 miles each in business class.
Leading up to the trip I had just been viewing Brisbane as a required stopover for a night before our trip to the Maldives, but once we arrived we actually really enjoyed it and wished that we had an extra night or two. We stayed at the Hilton Brisbane which is right in the CBD and just a 5 minute walk from the Airtrain station and would definitely recommend taking the train instead of a taxi. We arrived in the late afternoon and spent the rest of the day walking around and doing a bit of shopping. Keeping with the international food theme, we found a lot of options near the hotel and settled on some delicious Korean food at Madtongsan II just down the street from the hotel.
The next day, since we were taking the redeye we checked out of the hotel but left our luggage with the concierge. From there, we spent the day at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which we absolutely loved. This is one of the few places in Australia that will actually let you hold a koala, or as the locals liked to say, give them “cuddles”. It’s just a short walk from the hotel to the boat dock which takes you to the sanctuary, after which you have approximately 3 hours there. We were worried that we’d be short on time, but the sanctuary is actually quite small, and other than the koalas there is more than enough time to see the dingos, wombats, kangaroos, reptiles, and a few others. There is an extra cost to cuddle the koala ($16 AUD for the cheapest package) but we figured that it was worth it for the experience. Afterwards, the boat will take you back, and each way is about an hour-long cruise which was also a great way to see Brisbane. We returned in the early afternoon and didn’t want to head to the airport yet, but were able to hang out at the Executive Lounge back at the hotel until 9pm. We probably could have squeezed in more things to do that afternoon/evening but were happy to just relax and hang out before the long journey to the Maldives.
Korean fried chicken, definitely hit the spot
Boat cruise to Lone Pine
Pretty good life to sleep 20 hours/day
Big bird in the petting area
Feeding the kangaroos