This report will cover the journey from Toronto to Hong Kong via Istanbul, Karachi and Bangkok. It will end with the second half day before continuing on the journey back to Toronto.
TK 18/118 – YYZ-IST-KHI
TG 342/ 508 – KHI-BKK-HKG
AC 8 – HKG-YVR
AC 122 – YVR-YYZ
Reason for using my Aeroplan points
I have already covered Turkish Airlines numerous times already so I will just post some highlights of this trip. My parents had arrived into Toronto with a friend who had gone back to Karachi after almost 14 years. So it made sense for my parents to come with them to have some company. Fast forward some months later it was time to look for flights on Turkish to accompany them back. It was getting incredibly expensive to find a fare back for less than $2,200 in August. So I had to make a decision to use my around 55K points to book a round the world by buying the balance of the miles to make up the 100K miles required. I first had to get my parents to extend their tickets by two weeks which cost about $180 for both tickets so that was not much of a big deal. Even with buying the additional miles, I was paying a lot less than a full fare ticket which would take me just to Karachi and back. This way I had the option to head back on a different route.
Unlike my last trip Around the World trip which took me West with stopovers in Sydney, Singapore and Karachi and back to Toronto, this time it would take me East with stops in Karachi, Hong Kong and Vancouver. I had always wanted to travel to Hong Kong, having worked with some really nice people from Hong Kong and of course Kai Tak (which is no more) always had me fascinated with Hong Kong. Vancouver on the hand being another city of Canada would make a nice addition to my only other Canadian city I have visited which is Montreal. The dilemma of getting on the phone to make a stopover in Vancouver on the way back as you can only book two cities with the Aeroplan website, had me on the phone on hold for an hour while at work on my cell phone, and when I finally got through I had to literally rush down to the parking lot and then be there for another 40 mins before I finally got the stopover in Vancouver done. I had no idea a couple of bumps on this trip would result in me having to dish out some more cash to stay tuned.
The Day Itself – Bad Surprise
Fast forward to the airport on the day itself, we were a bit late and were one of the last to check in, which was a good thing because we didn’t have to wait too long before we were heading through security and were on the aircraft sooner than others as both parents were wheelchair passengers. The aircraft on this route was going to be TC-JJK. The flight was scheduled to depart around 22:25 but we were still on the ground heading to the active runway around 23:30. We finally departed around 23:40 and that delay would cost us dearly when we got to Istanbul. The flight was uneventful and we got some very interesting views of Schiphol Amsterdam on our way to Istanbul.
View of TK- 18 – TC-JJT
Turkish Logo on Board the Boeing 777-300ER
Still not departed. Scheduled 22:25. Departed 23:40
2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt
An Iranian movie about a religious cleric wanting to improve his appearance.
Has Meryl Streep gone too far. After the Iron Lady and August: Osage County.
Over the Atlantic
Approaching Amsterdam – View of Schiphol & the city of Amsterdam
City of Amsterdam
Breakfast prior to landing
The delay and missed connection
When we got to Istanbul, Turkish who had been operating two flights to KHI at the time that we were to connect at 17:20. We only got there at 16:10 I believe, with an hour to connect which I thought would not be bad since we had our boarding passes already. However, with other wheelchair passengers on board they were getting everyone on the bus. They took each of our boarding passes and once everyone was on board, then handed them back confirming the destination. It was now around 16:25 and I started to get a bit worried as I pointed out to the guy the boarding time on the card which was in around another twenty minutes. We got to the terminal, passed the usual security, made our way up to the gate areas, got to the gate at 17:10 only to see it deserted and yes our KHI flight which had just pulled away from the gate. It is something I will never forget, as this is something I have never experienced. I immediately remembered those instances on You Tube with frantic passengers throwing tantrums, some even if lucky jumping down to the tarmac and running to the plane lol.
Using the wheelchair accessible facility to de-board
The Good Surprise
It was not until later the following year while looking for 1:200 Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER models, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Gemini Jets released a model in that scale with the very some registration!! It is on my list to buy however here are pics of that gorgeous jet. Link to the seller is here.
Link to the Youtube video of TK 18
Transit in Istanbul
We made our way wheelchair agents in tow to the Information Desk and without any hassles we were put on the TK 708 flight departing some 6 hours later. We were also handed dinner vouchers to be used at any of the fast food outlets in the airport. I have to give Turkish Airlines full marks for taking care of this effortlessly. I was also a little worried having a mileage redemption ticket in hand but was also on the same flight. What about the rest of the flights on Thai Airways and Air Canada back to Toronto. I just didn’t let it worry me for now. The six hour long wait was soon over and we onboard TC-JVS an almost spanking new Boeing 737-800 having it’s first flight in May that year some three months earlier. It was a comfy jet with leather seats and that wonderful ceiling on all Boeing 737-800 jets. Have always been on wide-bodied jets so being on this Boeing aircraft was a pleasure. The only single aisle aircraft were Etihad A320s.
Six hour later – Not our aircraft just the night view.
Finally on our way
It was such a relief to be finally airborne and got some excellent views out of Istanbul. The winglet with the Turkish Airlines logo on it was fully illuminated and gracefully added to the city of Istanbul as it glittered below on this clear August night. During the flight it had a wonderful pattern of illumination as the lights danced in stages on the winglet. See the video to see what I mean. The Inflight entertainment featured the interactive maps which was fun to view the flight which was going to take us literally all of Iran. The early morning light gave way to rugged terrain below and then the familiar brownish hues of the landscape over Pakistani airspace. A few turns here and there and we were soon lining up for an Easterly approach to KHI. Unlike my other trips where I am arriving in the wee hours of the morning, it was nice to arrive in daylight. And so ended the Turkish Airlines flight with my first actual missing a flight. Two of my other flights from Istanbul to Toronto were delayed by over three hours, but that did not matter as Toronto was my final destination.
PIA Retro colour scheme
Pakistan’s second airline – Shaheen Airlines
Pakistan’s third airline – Air Blue
Never seen this in daytime in a long time
A partnership that was strongly contested
Link to the YouTube video for TK 118
The next leg to Hong Kong via Bangkok
The day arrived three days later to travel to Bangkok. Not surprisingly I was totally bed-ridden for those three days at home with a stomach virus after eating some street food, something I never do due to the consequences of having a weak stomach. Others visit the city and eat to their hearts content and yes a bit of washroom visits and they are fine. But I could not keep anything in not even liquids and fortunately the evening of the flight I got better. I had no choice but to get that on the flights. After the scare of what might have happened to my onward flights at Istanbul airport, I was happy to know the flights were all intact. I know if you miss one connection all other flights can be impacted.
On-board TG 508
What I found with Thai Airways flights to and from Karachi, with some that go onwards to Muscat, the service seems mediocre and I have only one flight attendant who was very friendly and happy to have you onboard. The familiar “Wai” welcomed me onboard and the “Sawadee Kah” from the female FAs at the door. The distinctly familiar THAI uniform adorn the FAs who would later into their Western uniforms. I was right near the engine which meant I would get unobstructed views of the scene ahead. We made our way to the active runway and were soon climbing into the night passing a line of planes parked at the Ispahani sky banking left almost immediately after passing them with the city then starting to appear and disappear under the clouds which the landing lights were illuminating as we cut through them. Soon it was all over and it was darkness outside as the landing lights turned off, the city was shrouded under cloud cover and the cabin lights turned on.
Dinner was served immediately and I noticed unlike the daylight flight that I arrived on the year before we had excellent porcelain dishes but on this flight it was the aluminium foil tray. The main course was good but the salad and dessert was quite meh!
All meals are marked Halal.
After dinner relaxation
The cabin lights out after dinner and a duty free run, I tried to get some sleep just so that I would not be too tired when I got to Hong Kong. The windows were open and I drifted in and out of lala land, but never really can just out of sheer excitement of being onboard an aircraft. I was suddenly drawn to bright lights outside the cabin as they temporarily flashed into the cabin. I looked out and just outside we were passing an area of active thunderstorms. Lightning flashed within tall clouds that were silhouetted against the flashes of light emanating out of them. What a show to behold. I grabbed my camera and tried to click frantically, but in the meantime we were actually moving away from it and soon it was just a few lights in the cloud in the distance.
I gave up trying to sleep and started to watch Adele and by the time I was done with the concert it started to get bright outside.
Settling down with some Adele
Getting a lot brighter outside as the show progresses
A juice and water run was conducted and soon we were on finals into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi’s airport.
Pre-landing refreshment of Orange juice or water.
Again it was about an hours connection time as we got in a little after 7am instead of 0640 and the flight to Hong Kong was departing at 0800
Disembarking via the stairs
The famous Thai Airways Logo and name
The rest of HS-TER
On board TG 600
Managed to get to the gate in time after passing through security and in time to get a quick shot of the Boeing 777-300 jet to HKG.
Again I was in the front this time in front of the engine. I do quite like sitting in these seats but they are also very close to bassinets which on this flight did not seem to exist. I think families tend to take the later flights due to the numerous number of flights available on that heavy route.
A gorgeous Oman Air Boeing 787-800 was outside and then after passing the tail of many TG aircraft.
Gorgeous Oman Air Boeing 787-8
Is there any airport you don’t see an Emirates aircraft!!
In Thai Airways territory
We lined up on the active runway and began our take off roll. I heard a loud click behind me and I would have been tempted to look behind but I had the camera recording. It was immediately followed by the shouts of a female FA “Sit down, please, Sit down”. This got me turning my head while still continuing to record to see an elderly passenger shut the overhead bin as he had earlier tried to retrieve things out of it. I looked back outside and we were just climbing out of Suvarnabhumi. This trip was starting to have quite the incidents lol.
Just departed Bangkok
Breakfast aboard Thai Airways
Again the meal was nothing much to talk about and even the service was nothing stellar. I always had these visions of Thai being so friendly however I think these might be on their European/Australia routes? The flight progressed and being in a window seat on the 3-4-3 configuration meant I could not just leave my sight anytime. In fact, I think I did not leave it at all as it was just a 2 hours 25 mins flight. A far cry from the ultra long hauls of +10 hours that sometimes has your backside screaming to escape the seat for a while.
En-route to Hong Kong
Descending into Hong Kong
We were soon descending into Hong Kong and not to sound too dramatic but if what I was about to experience was anything short of majestic, I could only imagine what those Kai Tak approaches were like where they came in so much lower. We came over some mountainous tops in the distance with Skyscrapers seemed to be built out of them. These were in the distance and when we got nearer it was just a sight to behold. My camera decided to go out of focus for some shots but I am glad I got one good one. That arrival into Hong Kong is something that I definitely will never forget. I had seen videos on the internet but to actually experience it and see those towering skyscrapers below you is just breathtaking. Similar to my arrival into La Gaurdia some years back which literally took us over Manhattan, I mean literally.
Approaching Hong Kong
The view starting to get better
The most amazing view
We soon were passing the AsiaWorld Expo site before we burned some rubber as we touched down on Rwy 25R at Chek Lap Kok’s. I was in Hong Kong
Landed in Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific territory
Reflection of our gorgeous Thai Boeing 777-300 at
Link to the video of TG 508 & 600.
Three Nights in Hong Kong
The only knowledge you have when travelling to a new city for the first time is the knowledge you have gained from the World Wide Web lol. I had done some research online, however where I had to stay in Hong Kong was recommended by an ex-school mate where he suggested I stay at “The Shamrock Hotel” which he guided me was on Nathan Road. I had to figure out how to get there and while the option was there to get there by transit, the Airport Express seemed like a nice luxurious alternative something to pamper yourself right away in Hong Kong. Some Canadian Dollars changed for Hong Kong Dollars I bought the Airport Express Travel Pass which allows 1 or 2 trips on the Airport Express and unlimited 3 days on the MTR. I had to get to Hong Kong Station and from there to Jordan which is where my hotel was located.
Signage for the Airport Express
Heading to the Airport Express
On-board the Airport Express
Need this at subway stations here.
One thing about Hong Kong you should not be deceived that it is a short walk between stations and that is what I found out when I got off at Hong Kong Station and looked for Central where I was going to connect. Luckily I had just one pull along suitcase and a shoulder bag. From Central it was two stops to the Jordan station. Like all subway stations in Toronto, there are various exits at Hong Kong MTR stations too and I took the wrong exit and then had to waste another few mins to look for the Hotel. I don’t recall the exit I had to take, but it was a less than a minute walk to the hotel from Jordan. Nothing luxurious about Shamrock, yes a good bed, good washroom amenities, TV, hot water that was actually lukewarm but big on convenience. Right on Nathan Road and minutes to Mong Kok to the North and actually walking distance to Victoria Harbour. Yes I should mention that where I was living was in Kowloon. You have to take the Hong Kong ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier to Hong Kong Island.
Day 1 was spent basically walking around Nathan Road and taking in the sights and sounds, the double decker trams, which I am quite disheartened that I did not experience but a sight to see. Having just come out of a few days of stomach ache I was not prepared to have any street food, which is what Hong Kong is famous for. I settled for some sandwhich, cookies and a juice for dinner from a local bakery outlet. It was a good walk around which got me knocked out before 10pm that night. However, I was up bright and early at 6am the next morning.
Day 2 – Full day in Hong Kong
Day 2 was a long walk down to Victoria Harbour and if I thought the views from the air was spectacular the view of Hong Kong Island from Kowloon is just breathtaking. The long stretch of buildings from right to left was something that even Toronto, Sydney or New York could not boast. These cities have their own views but nothing compared to this. I did a quick ride on the Star Ferry one of the cheapest means to get across the harbour and so cheap. I actually rode back and forth twice before I felt it would be nice to go to Lantau Island and see the Tian Tan Buddha. My childish behaviour of frolicking back and forth on the ferry resulted in me losing time later in the day. I tell you the view of Hong Kong Island is just something unrivalled at least from other cities I have visited. Did I mention how hot Hong Kong was….Singapore was a constant sauna for those few days I was there, but Hong Kong was no less, at least I did not look like I just ran a marathon.
Tsim Sha Tsui Station
Some Interesting stories about this place
Getting closer to Victoria Harbour
Victoria Harbour – Breathtaking
Fishing near the pier
The Star Ferry
On the way to the Star Ferry
On the Star Ferry heading to the Hong Kong Island from Kowloon
Approaching the Pier
On the Hong Kong Island side
View from the Pier Bridge
No idea what this reads – One of those things that show you are in a foreign city
Was so fascinated with the fishing from this Hong Kong resident
Didn’t really try a taxi out
A sign I should have paid careful attention to
Some views on Hong Kong Island
Back in Kowloon and the temporary location of the figures of the Avenue of the Stars, which had been moved from their location due to renovations
Bruce Lee – The most iconic figure in Hong Kong. You will see him appear later in other locations
To be continued……