My trip to Perth was an idea born out of boredom. The wife was away in New York for two weeks for work, and I was stuck in Hong Kong. With essentially two full weekends, I decided that I would spend one jetting off somewhere new, and earn some miles in the process.
There were some guidelines. I had to leave late enough on Friday that I would not be missed from work, but still give me enough time explore the city. I really wanted to go to New Zealand, as I have not been since 1985, but I wanted to visit the south island. On the 1985 family holiday, we only did the north island. However, the Auckland flight would put me into the city at around 12pm on Saturday, and have me leaving a little later on Sunday, so about 24 hours in total on the ground. For a flight which is almost the same distance as the flight to London, this just did not make sense. Europe was out too for a similar reason.
The flight to Perth was quite good. It was scheduled for a 3pm departure from Hong Kong, which would get me into Perth at 10:35pm (no time change). Then leaving Perth, the return flight was at 00:05 Monday, landing in Hong Kong at 7:10am. Perfect! The lowest fare was really cheap, but no miles could be accumulated, so I picked the next higher fare and booked it. After a TripAdvisor search I decided on the Novotel, as I could not find a cheap hotel that had good reviews. And the Novotel in central Brussels I had just stayed at earlier in the year was awesome in both price and quality.
Done and dusted. The day of travel, I took the ferry into Central and checked-in on Airport Express. After working until about 12:30pm, I took the A12 bus from Tai Koo Shing to the airport. It was a good time to leave as everyone vaporizes during lunch in Hong Kong. A pleasing bus ride and I was at the airport in about an hour. I meandered to the gate, which was the furthest one on the left prong of the “Y” that is the HKG terminal building. As we got closer to the time, I noticed very little activity, and sure enough, an announcement was made that the flight would be 30 minutes late due to a late arrival of the plane. It was a Cathay Pacific A340, with the upgraded interior. I thought I might get upgraded, but no, and later I think I saw there are only 26 business class seats on the A340 (upgraded), and it was pretty full.
The whole time I am emailing and taking calls in the waiting area, hoping, that while on any call there is not an announcement about boarding, white zones, or any other dead giveaways.
At 3:30pm there was still little activity and another announcement was made that the aircraft had been delayed again for technical reasons this time. But they estimated only another 20 minutes was needed and we would board. This turned out to be about right and I was on the plane, taking my seat in the very last row on the left hand side, seat 70A. While business class may have been full, coach was empty. I would say no more 60-70 people in the back two sections. They asked if I wanted to move, but I didn’t really. I told them that during the flight, I may take a nap once it is dark outside and the window is no longer fun.
View from 70A, a sister A340 next to us
We pushed back at 3:55pm and the captain made the announcement that while the plane was late from its original destination, there was a routine, scheduled maintenance which was to be done that added to our delay. He suspected we could make up some time in the air.
We took off to the West, made a sharp turn to the South, and pretty much stayed the course the rest of the way. The takeoff seemed to have a long roll, but the climb was a bit better than my last Cathay A340 flights. On a full flight to Jakarta once, it was like an old man using a rope ladder, very slow. The flight was relatively smooth for the first hour and a half, but then things got really rocky. We zigged and zagged through the stormheads but still experienced some heavy chop. Eventually, it became dark and the turbulence died down, somewhat.
During the taxi, with KLM and SAA resting in HKG
Takeoff can be viewed here!
Does anyone know what island this is? I’ve lived here four years and ashamed to say I don’t know…
It remained smooth until we passed over the last of Indonesia, and was quite heavy again until reaching landfall in Australia. That was pretty cool too, following on the map, I could see that Broome should be visible off the right-hand side, and eventually I could see the city lights. With just over an hour to go (and there can’t be that much traffic in these parts) it was smooth sailing all the way into Perth.
One of the thunderstorms we were dodging
Night cabin shot
It was interesting too, on arrival, as there were a few lights here and there, but no indication that there was a city nearby, mind you I was on the side of the plane facing the desert. It looked like we were going to land on darkness, but eventually a runway appeared and we were down. As we were taxiing to the terminal I saw a VirginBlue 737 land right after us and another plane on final.
At the gate, and on the way to immigration. My goodness they were extremely friendly here, which caught me off guard as by then I was pretty tired. Clearing quarantine, I went out to find nothing in arrivals (was looking for a icey cold drink), and found the cab queue.
Going into the city was uneventful and the nice cabby who really looked the part of the Australians we see on American TV, But he gave the history of the city, and an idea of what to expect from the most isolated city in the world. After A$35 I was at the Novotel, and ready for the sleep. Just a side note, the folks working the evening at the Novotel were super nice, for someone who just arrived shortly after midnight. They offered to order me a pizza from a nearby restaurant, but I opted for their room service burger instead.
For Perth, I:
- toured the central business district
- had brekky
- took the ferry to Freeo
- Shipwreck museum
- Saw an Asian couple taking provocative pictures of the female in the bushes behind the shipwreck museum
- Took the train back to Perth
- Had Cantonese for dinner
- Went to the Rosie O’Grady’s
- Went to Aquarium of Western Australia (one of the best I have ever seen!)
- Went to Art Museum of Western Australia (really good, and again the people were so nice!)
- Went to the Museum of Western Australia, including the Pompeii exhibit
- Massage to prepare for the flight
- The last supper, where I really wanted Thai and eventually found a restaurant
- Took an hour walk back to the Novotel to try to kill time
- Took a cab back to the airport
While Perth is geographically isolated, and expensive (I assume since most stuff, even domestically made, has to be shipped there), the people could not be friendlier. Sure, there were a few jerks out on Saturday night, but I can attribute that to alcohol and teenagers.
The airport was not dead at 9:30pm, but it was not a circus either. I was checked right in, given my lounge pass, and sent on my way. My research had told me that there very little behind the magic curtain, and I should entertain myself in the pre-screening area for a little bit. After a Red Rooster meal, where I discarded the fries, I went through security.
My seat selection had told me that this flight was extremely full. After wasting time in the duty free area, and walking the length of the terminal twice, I went back to the gate and found we would be boarding soon. Sure enough, this flight was insanely full. Since I was exhausted from all the walking, I pretty much went right to sleep and slept through to the brekky service. That was great, except brekky was just a snack. I actually enjoy the Cathay version of the English breakfast . Also, given the information that displayed when landing, it appears insanely full, meant the vast majority were not going to HK. There were at least 20 transfer flights listed on the IFE!
Another interesting bit on this flight. No pre-pushback announcement from the captain, and no pre-descend announcement from the captain. I think he was shy, based on the cracking voice he had when he stated “Flight Attendants Please Be Seated for Takeoff”. On the descend, he stated, “Flight Attendants, 30 minutes to landing”. That was it!
Oh well, a short bit of time later, we were on the descend, and landing on the left runway, coming from the East. It was windy and wet in Hong Kong. The weather for Perth had been amazing. Nippy in the shade but stellar in the sun, however, I saw several lobster red Asian tourists early on Saturday so I decided to keep to the shade in the city.
Clearing HK is never a hassle and in no time I was on the bus back home.
Hope you enjoyed my report! And if you are in need of a getaway, I can recommend both Cathay and Perth.
All CX171 pictures can be seen here:
All Perth pictures can be seen here:
Keep on truckin'...