Back to CX:
CX 505 NRT-HKG Lv1830 Arr2205 Boeing 747-400 B-HOV
After arriving from Fukuoka and picked up my bag from the nice Haneda airport hotel, I headed towards the bus stop for the ride back to Narita. I am always amazed at the Airport Limosine service/bus at Tokyo. Everything is so efficient and friendly. Compared to my usual Airport bus experiences at New York, the Japanese are just so good in being punctual, yet so friendly and polite. Of course we were caught in traffic and did not arrive till ninety minutes later. The North Wing at Terminal One was no longer the nightmare from before, as only AA, CX, and Northwest are using that area (along with some other European Airlines that don’t have flights this late, except Air France’s late evening flight to CDG), and UA and most Star Alliance are moved to South Wing now. The immigration and custom lines were not busy at all. I guess it was either the time of the evening or the airlines being evenly distributed at the airport. I could not recall I ever faced an almost empty immigration line at Narita.
The check-in counters were a bit chaotic, as some folks were blocking the entrance to the F/J line. There were lots of delays by CX that morning due to the black raining signal at HKG earlier that morning. CX 521 was delayed for hours, while my flight, CX 505, suffered a thirty minutes delay as of that point. Some folks missed connections and were sent to JAL. Anyway, once passed that line, I was checked in quickly and was on my way to Hong Kong.
CX lounge was as busy as ever, especially with the situation tonight. I was lucky to find a seat. After taking advantage of the free wifi service, I relaxed a bit and saw our incoming, CX 450, arriving at 5:50pm. Boarding began at 6:40pm, but after everyone settled down, we were told that the flight was delayed by ATC due to many traffics heading to Hong Kong that evening and some weather warning. Our takeoff time was 7:55pm. If it was your typical US airline flight, you might get an extra round of drink in F, and/or the F/As taking beverage and meal orders. Of course, CX did all that, but what more, they actually served the first round of beverage with the canapé course. We pushed back at 7:40pm, which was a bit earlier than F/As anticipated, but everyone got their canapés to munch on. We taxied slowly and took off exactly at 7:55pm from R/W34L.
Well I had the Japanese meal service tonight, which was not as good as my CX 504 flight a few months ago, but was decent nonetheless. The first course featuring sushi that I had before takeoff contained a piece of eel sushi, rice ball filled with salmon and topped with seaweed power and sesame seed, and a cucumber roll covered with beef slice. Very creative course! Then the rest of the menu will explain the meal. It was interesting that this menu really adjusts according to season. The cold noodles were different from normal, and had a sesame sauce, and the miso soup was red-miso flavored, which was a bit stronger. The fruit plate was the same for everyone and contained rose apple, watermelon, melon, and cantaloupe. The dessert was good too, although a la mode (ice cream) will be a better accompaniment with the warm chocolate brownie than just whipped cream. For those who do not know, the food on CX 505 was not catered in Japan, but in Taipei from the outbound CX 450 flight. I guess the move is to save money. Nevertheless, the food was really good and Taipei’s catering is definitely one of my favorite CX outstations.
Here is the wine list and menu transcript!
First Class Wine List
Cuvee William Deutz Brut 1998
Puligny Montrachet Les Grandes Marches 2002
Mount Plesant Maurice O’Shea Chardonnay 2004
Chateau Branaire-Ducru 1998, 4eme Cru Classe
Corton Grand Cru Louis Max 1996
Ramos Pinto Quinta da Ervamoira 10 Years Old Tawny Port
Tokyo to Hong Kong
King Prawn and Bean Curd with Thai Pesto Dressing
Apple Tomato Soup with Bacon
Braised Tender Pork with Abalone
Pan-fried Tiger Prawn and Grilled Salmon Fillet with Lobster Sauce
Fettuccine with Sauteed Veal and Mixed Mushrooms
Potato Gratin or Steamed Rice with Mixed Vegetables
Selection of Western or Oriental Vegetables
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Warm Pecan Brownie Pudding served with Fresh Cream and Chocolate Sauce
Tea and Coffee
Seasonal Sushi for aperitif
Green Apple Wine with Soda
Steamed Sea Conch with Sake
Japanese Green Bamboo Skewer
Fish Roe Sushi
Roasted Squid Slices with Egg
Plum Shape Yam
Grass Shrimp with Caviar
Japanese Clear Soup with Blanched Sea Perch
Bean Curd with Shrimp and Lotus Root
Fish Rolled with Potato
Boiled Sweet Potato Happou Sauce
Chestnut Wrapped in Sweet Potato
Yam Angel Hair
Japanese Glass Noodle with White Sesame Sauce and Tomato Slices
Fresh seasonal fruit
After dinner, I watched a few television series and descent began at 11:31pm, and there was a few turbulent as we descended into Hong Kong, but things were clear out as we reached the city itself. Things were unusually busy this late evening, as I later found out that all CX flights were literally delayed for hours, and lines of planes could easily be spotted tonight. We landed on R/W25R at 11:20pm HK local time (HK was an hour behind from Japan). We parked at gate 25 eleven minutes later.
I stayed over at the new Novotel City Gate Hong Kong, which was the second airport hotel. I usually did not write about it, but knowing the limited option at HK airport, it will be interesting to write a short report about it. The rate of the hotel is still relatively high, but is reasonable compared to what Regal Airport Hotel attempts to charge. While Regal wants over $2000HKD for a small hotel room (not to mention the very unimpressive amenity and small room and not too friendly staff), Novotel charges $1300HKD.
Access to Hotel: Regal is connected to the airport, so very easy. But Novotel is located about five minutes away and involves a quick five minute bus ride. The bus runs to the hotel every thirty minutes on the :15 and :45 mark from 6am to 11:45pm. You need to sign in at counters A16 and B16 (Joint counters with Marco Polo and a few other hotels), and was very easy to find. The only complaint I have is the long walk to the transportation center and the lack of real luggage rack for bags at these buses used by Novotel.
The lobby: Novotel was definitely using the high ceiling and open design commonly these days. There was no wait as quite a number of staffs were working and also lots of last minute travelers. The hotel staff was very helpful in general. The bus driver, the doorman, the concierge, and the bell boy were all very efficient and kind. The only weakest point is the girl, who checked me in, and could not decide whether to speak to me in Cantonese and/or English. She did not smile at all during the whole check-in process, which was very different from other hotels. Thankfully when I checked out the next morning, the guy was much more friendly.
The room: I had the standard room, which was actually decent sized. The bed was very comfortable, and all the amenities were high tech, including a fancy home phone, plasma TV, and wireless and high speed Ethernet connection, (which costs extra of course… the rate was about the same), and the only strange aspect was the open bathroom design, which possibly makes the room bigger. There is no separate bathroom per se, and everything was open. There were two stalls – one for the bathroom, and the other one was a shower. The only thing needed was light at the stall. The room was small compared to US standard, but okay for the rest of the world.
I generally will recommend this hotel over Regal Airport. Even if you missed the bus ride, I cannot imagine the cab charging more than $30HKD (up to the number of bags you have… HK cab charges $5 per bag).
If you have more questions about the hotel, please feel free to ask and I will try to answer it. But one thing I was grateful… I did not book a hotel at the city, and was able to catch an extra hour of sleep. Also if you booked on CX 505 NRT-HKG, please be aware of the relatively unimpressive on time record for this flight because this flight was the last one of the day and was prone to many reasons for delays.
June 10, 2006
CX 713 HKG-BKK Lv0855 Arr1030 Boeing 747-400 B-HKD
I arrived at the airport about two hours prior to flight. I noticed that the first class check-in counters are being renovated but the usual friendliness and efficiencies are still there. I went to the Pier, as my departure gate was 61 this morning. The aircraft arrived a bit late from London Heathrow, but boarding commenced around 8:43am. With a nice tail wind, we not only caught up but also arrived a bit early. The lounge was a bit quiet due to the weekend, and I had a nice Chinese breakfast and caught up with emails. I was too tired to login the evening before.
The loads in first class were five people, and the service was excellent as usual. Newspapers, menus, and hot towels were all passed out prior to takeoff. We took off from R/W25R at 9:18am, and the usual routing took us towards Hainan and then into Vietnam, Surin, and Bangkok. Flying time was a short two hours and a minute with a cruising attitude of initially 39,000feet before climbing up to 40,000feet later in flight.
The breakfast was the usual affair with the full breakfast spread. I notice that individual bread baskets were used now and each basket contained a croissant, a wholemeal roll, and a delicious raisin-orange-pecan muffin, and all are warmed of course. I had a bowl of cornflakes as well as a “Berry Paradise yogurt. The fruit plate contained rose apple, blueberry, orange, grapefruit, pomelo, and strawberry. I had the Chinese dim sum as dessert, which was delicious with the update from the Jade Garden. It contained a shrimp dumpling (har gow), a Seafood Siumai, a Mushroom & snow fungus dumpling, as well as a glutinous rice dumpling filled with mushroom and shredded pork. Here is the full menu transcript: (I guess CX can use another type of Omelet and this Spanish Omelet seems to be a permanent breakfast item for the past year).
Hong Kong to Bangkok
Fresh Seasonal Fruits
Natural or Low Fat Fruit flavored
Muesli, Corn Flakes, or Rice Crispies
Dim Sum Selection
Broiled Back Bacon, Pan-fried Pork Sausages and Grilled Lamb Noisette, Lyonnaise Potatoes, Vine Ripened Tomato and Sauteed Fresh Mushrooms
Assorted Warm bread and Breakfast Pastries served with Preserves, Honey and Butter
Tea and Coffee
Descent began at 9:55am Bangkok time (Bangkok is an hour behind from Hong Kong). We landed on R/W21R at 10:19am. We parked at gate 42 a few minutes later. Of course, the Swiss Air counter was not opened till two hours prior to arrival. But then I can walk to departure level and come back later. So I walked around and did a bit of plane spotting. Get to see an Aeroflot IL-96 RA-96011 up close, as well as a TG Airbus A340-600 HS-TNE to Moscow.