After spending a very interesting and extremely enjoyable week in Hong Kong, it was finally time to head back to the City of Angels and regrettably, back to work.
I took about 400 pictures on my digicam and another 5 rolls on my SLR and here is one photo before moving on to the report of the trip:
8th July 2005
The day started off at my hotel in Kowloon. I booked my hotel through Cathay and they provided us with a hotel transfer courtesy of a company called Hotelink. Our pickup was scheduled for 1:10, but it wasn't until about 1:40 that a bloody great big tourist bus turned up to take us to the airport.
It looked something like this (made by volvo):
We got on board and then navigated the streets of Kowloon with the damn thing. We were the only passengers on board. The bus driver stopped at the Intercontinental, the Hyatt and the Kowloon hotel but no one actually got on there, so I'm not exactly sure what the point of doing that was.
Anyway, I took some pictures on the route from Kowloon to the airport and here they are:
Anyway, eventually the Volvo bus brought us to the drop off point off Hong Kong airport and we debussed.
Anyway, I hadn't really thought of what the airport was going to look like before I arrived, but I really expected the place to be bigger. First order of business was to check in. Went over to the Cathay Pacific desks and got my boarding pass for 48D. Unfortunately, the check-in agent wasn't able to tell me which aircraft was operating the route. He just said "74J" and left it at that.
Didn't spend too much time in the main area of the departures hall, rather I went straight through customs and security. The whole thing didn't take very long at all. There was a variety of food options, ended up having a whopper at burger king before walking around the terminal to take pictures of planes with my SLR. If I ever get the photos scanned, I'll post them on here if they come out well.
Got a shot of a BA
744, couple of CX 773s, SQ
772, CX 744s, CX 343, AC
345 as well as a couple of others on my film camera.
To be honest, I was quite amazed by the amount of traffic at HKG
! So many passengers and so many widebodies! It was quite overwhelming...I definitely need to spend more time in Asia.
After going through two rolls of film, I decided to shop for my Hong Kong shot glass. I stopped at a couple of stores but to be honest I couldn't find the exact type of glass that I wanted, so I didn't buy anything. Instead, I went to Gate 4, which was where our flight was departing from:
The plane operating the route that day was B-HOR
, delivered in 1990.
The queue to get on board was absolutely enormous! There was not a single empty seat on this plane. We waited until the very end and just as we were boarding, I noticed that a buddy of mine from high school and college was right behind us! Quite surprising....I knew he was in Hong Kong but didn't expect to see him at the airport.
This plane was completely packed. We walked two sections of business class and took our seats. Here I am sitting in 48D.
By the way, Cathay's 744s do not appear to have air vents on the panel where the reading lights are. Why is that?
As with the outbound flight, the inflight magazine was wrapped up in plastic with the vomit bag etc etc and the pouch was also present. Here's a shot of the contents of the pouch:
I was quite amused by the acting in Cathay's safety video, so I took a couple of shots. I won't bother posting all, so here is one just for fun:
We had a very short taxi and almost no waiting. Took off from what I believe was Runway 25L and were airborne by about 16:10.
First things first...i had my whiskey and peanuts. The peanuts were nothing fantastic, could have had those on Southwest, and the whiskey was quite watered down, though it doesn't really look it from the picture:
The F/As first came around with the menu. Dinner choices were:
Baked Pork Loin with Tomato Sauce on Fried Rice (hong kong specialty)
Pan-fried Fish with Onion and Mushroom Cream Sauce
Penne Pasta with Chicken and Eggplant in a white sauce
I could have had any of the three, but since the menu specifically said that the pork loin was a hong kong specialty, I decided to go for that. Here it is in all its glory:
After dinner, I decided to watch Million Dollar Baby...
...however I didn't think it was so fantastic. Part of the problem was that I really couldn't hear properly. The earphones were a bit too big for my head even at the smallest setting and the volume wasn't loud enough. I wish I could have plugged in the acoustic headphones I was given on Concorde, but Cathay's jacks are slightly bigger than the standard.
I instead decided to watch the FA
Cup Semifinal and then tried to go to sleep, but I just could not fall asleep. I snoozed for about 30 minutes and then woke up again. Nothing I could do could get me to go to sleep, so I went to the back of the plane and took a couple of long exposure shots. Here is one:
Then my friend came and joined me and we had a chat on the fold-down crew seats at the back of the plane but no sooner had we sat down than the F/A came and told us to push off...in the most polite manner possible however. I must credit her with that.
Once she got rid of us, she proceedded to clean the bathrooms, something that I had been impressed with on the outbound flight. With 400 passengers and 15 hours, the lavs are bound to get quite dirty, especially since Cathay only has 6 in the economy cabins!
On the way back to my seat, I stopped at the galley between the #4 doors and had a ham sandwich. It was really quite good!
I thought I'd try sleeping again...but again, I just couldn't manage it. I couldn't get comfortable in the chair. What didn't help was the fact that there is a box (i suppose for the entertainment system) underneath the seat in front of you. At all of 1.73 or something, I'm not very tall, so I can't imagine what it must have been like for someone taller!
Instaed of sleeping, I decided to play a game of chess, but was hampered by the very annoying fact that the controls for the TV
are located on the armrest and are not movable!! Why couldn't Cathay have installed wired, detachable remotes, a la BA
and other civilized carriers?
Here's a shot of the armest:
After fidgeting around for a good few hours, I finally got to sleep perhaps 8 or 9 hours into the flight.
I woke up just as they were turning the lights on and took this shot from the moving map:
Breakfast was soon served. The options were:
E-fu noodles with mushrooms and a mini glutinous rice dumpling
Bacon and emmental omelette
I decided to try the noodles, just because I could have a bacon and emental omelette whenever I want.
It was really quite rubbish and not at all what I expected. I ate the noodles and the croissant (warm and nice), but that was about it. I had had that big green thing (could someone explain what it is?) at the dim sum restaurant I went to (serenade in the hong kong cultural centre) but it didn't taste the same on board Cathay.
After breakfast, I decided to get some shots of the toilets, for the sake of including in this report. An interesting thing about the lavs are that the toilet seats on row 44 have a mechanism that prevents them from slamming when you drop them. At the back of the airplane, they don't! Here are pictures from the row 44 lavs:
It felt like an eternity, but we eventually started out descent for Los Angeles and touched down on Runway 24R about 1 hour early, after 11hr 52min of flying. Arrival time must have been around 1:30pm. The pilot held short before crossing 24L and then taxiied us over to the remote stands from where we took a bus over to Bradley and went through immigration.
The bags took ages to come. Cathay had split the luggage between Carousels 8 and 9 - Carousel 8 being for first and business class passengers with 9 for economy and transfer luggage. We probably waited about 45 minutes for the bags to show up and were out of the terminal by about 3pm.
After a long trip, it was certainly a pleasure to spend another 1.5 hours on the 405 freeway driving all of 25 miles to drop my friend off in Tarzana, before heading back to my home on the Ventura County line. It wasn't until about 5:15 that I arrived at home...just in time to catch the second half of Home Improvement on TBS.
All in all, the return flight was hell! Nothing to do with Cathay I suppose, but I just couldn't sleep! In contrast, I had managed to sleep almost the whole way on my SYD
flight on QF
back in March. Not exactly sure why though. Lower pressure on board QF
? I did have the seat next to me free, that was a luxury I didn't have on the fully-booked CX.
I loved Hong Kong, I loved HKG
, I loved spotting at the airport and I was impressed by the efficiency of the CX crew but in general I can't say that Cathay's service was anything out of the ordinary, and it certainly wasn't something that I would call out of this world.
That being said, if I were to fly to HKG
again, I'd most probably fly them again. Why bother with making stops? I got my asia miles and I'll soon transfer them to oneworld account with AA
, or else just use them as is. Plus I got to fly on the first RB211 744, which is truly a milestone in my book.
I'm planning a redemption ticket in C or F (depending on how many miles I'll have at that point) from LHR
next year and am wondering if I am wondering what to book on? Is CX truly outstanding in F or C?
From what I saw of CX, they have a quality product and a lot of good features in economy class, such as the entertainment system, 32" pitch, 3 choice meal options, efficient crew, snacks and sandwiches available between meals, etc.
I'm just curious to see what they are like in premium classes.
Thanks for reading.
PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.