here comes a compact TR of my trip to Asia in January, Part 1.
As usually in mid winter, I needed to escape the darkness of the Nordic winter. Once again I found myself in Asia, I spent two weeks in Singapore and Thailand. A package holiday would had been ok, but because it was high season and seemed all Finland wanted to fly to Thailand I didn't find any good offers. So I had a good excuse to plan a more complex trip HEL-LHR-HKG-SIN-HKT-BKK-HEL, meaning more flying on BA (originally Cathay), Jetstar Asia, Tiger Airways, Thai and Finnair. All in Y class except Finnair in C.
08 January 2008
Helsinki HEL-London LHR
B757-200 Y Seat 26C
Photo © Giovanni Verbeeck
The trip didn't start well. When checking in I was told my BA flight to LHR would be delayed, approximately two hours.
I had booked one way ticket HEL-LHR-HKG and I realized it would be hard to catch the Cathay flight LHR-HKG. I thought well they would get me to HKG one way or another, catching the JetStar flight HKG-SIN as planned could be more tricky but I had a good travel insurance... so I took it easy and prepared to kill a couple of extra hours at HEL.
Departure hall 2
Rudolph is always on duty at HEL
The non-Schengen terminal
The non-Schengen terminal was rather busy, many of the AY's long hauls to Asia were departing around the same time. A A340 was just leaving the gate and heading to NRT, the flights to BOM, BKK and HKT would depart later in the evening from the nearby gates.
My flight had a bus transfer, a bit annoying but very quick this time and luckily it wasn't too cold. The flight was 90% full, perhaps half Finnish, half other nationalities. I soon noticed I wasn't the only one worring. The flight was delayed 2h , many would lost their connections, me among others. One f/a took care of this problem, giving information what would happen at LHR, who still could catch their next flight, who couldn't and what would happen then. He was really good, the whole crew gave a very professional impression. I was told I could move to the front cabin before landing and leave the plane as soon as possible. It seemed I had to say good bye to CX but there would still be BA flying to HKG. The good news was I wouldn't need to rush to the other terminal, the BA's flight 0027 would depart from T3 where we were arriving.
The rest of the flight went smoothly. I got a rather sad looking little sandwich, a chocolate cookie and a cup of coffee, have to say I expected something more on a 3h flight, remembering my AY experiences on this route. My exit row seat was comfortable, the B757 looked a bit worn out but clean. I realized this was my first ever flight on B757 in the scheduled service.
I was able to rush out of the plane among the first passengers, got through the security rather smoothly and headed to the transit desk. No long ques there. A tired looking lady confirmed my only chance that night was BA's flight, departing around one hour later. Missing my first flight on CX A340 was a disappointment and my previous BA long haul flights on LHR-SFO-LHR a couple of years back were rather uncomfortable... but I was pleased there still was a flight available.
08 January 2008
London LHR - Hong Kong HKG
B747-400 Y Seat 36H
Photo © Steve Brimley
When I reached the gate the boarding had already started, the B747 looked very handsome like always.
I was surprised how quick to boarding was, inside the Y cabin I noticed the obvious explanation: the cabin was around 35% full. This ment more shoulder room for me and when the legroom was ok I could actually sleep 4h, which was a happy surprise. But before that: meal & entertainment. The AVOD system seemed modern and new, though the selection of the channels was limited, especially the music section. After being spoiled by the ICE of Emirates nothing feels the same again...
The dinner was very nice actually, the taste was a lot better than the look (sorry, half eaten already):
After a good sleep, it was time for a tasty breakfast:
The back cabin in the middle of the night:
My longest ever non stop flight went smoothly, thanks to the extra space I had, good IFE and nice meals.
The service wasn't as warm as on the HEL-LHR flight, but nothing to complain about. Overall, a good experience, much better than expected.
It took some time to get through the immigration at HKG, but I didn't mind, I still had time to catch the Jet Star flight to Singapore. I just needed to catch my bag first - but it didn't arrive. I had thought this must happen to me one day, but please not now in the middle of the journey! I noticed I wasn't alone with this problem, the service desk was crowded. The guy who finally served me was friendly, but it was difficult to understand his English. What I understood was I would be called in Singapore and the bag would be brought to my hotel. But I should contact the BA office in Singapore, just in case. Well, later I learnt there is no BA office in the city and their agent doesn't handle lost baggage cases, you just have to go to the BA's website.
I never got the bag, in Singapore or anywhere else, in Finland I learnt the bag did arrive in Singapore in some point but never reached me. Well, I didn't miss my old t-shirts for long, my travel insurance was the best comfort here.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to enjoy the great HKG airport as long as first planned. I hurried to the Jet Star's check-in in Terminal 2 and back to Terminal 1 where the gate was.
09 January 2008
Hong Kong HKG - Singapore SIN
A320 Y 12C
20:15 - 23:50
Photo © Thomas Loh Y. H.
Photo © Andrew Hunt - AirTeamImages
A bus transfer to the a/c, the boarding took while but the Hong Kong night was smooth and warm. The A320 was almost full, the friendly crew looked very young in their orange shirts, true LCC style. I was so tired I fell to sleep right away, though the seating didn't really provide much space. This A320 had 177 seats, seat pitch 30".
I woke up an hour before arriving at SIN, I ordered a cup of (bad!) coffee to clear my head.
After the smooth landing I was ready for my second visit in Singapore. It was a midnight, not busy at the airport or in the city so it didn't take long to get to Chinatown where my hotel was. And a very nice one, I really recommend the hotel Royal Peacock in Chinatown: stylish, inexpensive, central, the street noise may disturb though.
I spent four nice days in Singapore, met some friends, enjoyed absolutely great food and the tropical sunshine. The Tiger-beer tasted good as always, though I didn't remember in Singapore beer costs more than in Finland. "Sin taxes" the bar man explained... To my taste Singapore is a great place to visit but perhaps a bit too conservative to move in.
My next stop was Thailand, my favourite place for sun therapy. More about that in Part 2, coming soon.
[Edited 2008-04-16 20:28:17]