Hello everybody - welcome back to the Navigator's Log.
This time we are off to Japan, Europe & Iceland (well, technically that's part of Europe) via Hong Kong. We are also lucky enough to have booked all of this on business class frequent flyer points, so both of us are looking forward to lie flat beds, lots of legroom and extra baggage.
Today is a travel day. We are en route to Hong Kong for an overnight stay before continuing through to Osaka and then Kyoto. Why so convoluted? Amazingly, even 11 months in advance there are no business class seats from Sydney to Tokyo and even then it would require an overnight stay in Tokyo before carrying on to Kyoto.
Despite many previous multi-city trips around the world and Australia, we are new to the full business class itinerary. The flight to HKG was on a 747 and we secured seats upstairs in the secluded bubble which has only 18 seats. However, even here one cannot avoid the annoying passenger in the row in front who talks in the loudest voice possible and who is an expert in everything: yak, yak, yak... "I did this great campaign"... "my staff think I'm a great manager"... "the company doesn't know what it's doing"... "this thing on my neck is getting bigger". She made more noise than the little baby in the front row.
A three course lunch was served. The food was OK (the Navigator expected more from the much hyped Neil Perry menu) but the gluten free menu was positively awful. The flight staff kept on offering gluten food even though they knew the Navigatrix is gluten free. This was very disappointing.
Lie flat beds meant we both had good naps after lunch.
Upon arriving at Hong Kong we were quickly off the plane and after a short wait for luggage we were whisked across to the very attentive staff at Marriott Sky City. Unfortunately the construction for the new third runway and terminals at Hong Kong airport as well as the ongoing Hong Hong-Macau causeway/bridge/tunnel project means the hotel is no longer located in the middle of a golf course. However our room had a view of the runway and so would be a planespotter's delight. Brilliant insulation meant we did not hear a thing all night.
It is typhoon season in Hong Kong and we just missed one heading up from Sydney (we were delayed in the air by about 30 minutes before obtaining a landing slot). The contrast of Sydney (cold, windy and rainy) to Hong Kong (very hot, very humid, very windy, very rainy) to Hong Kong is stark. Our glasses kept fogging up every time we went outside!
After a short snack at the hotel lounge we headed across to Citygate for some outlet shopping. We were disappointed. So much for Hong Kong being inexpensive - a lack of significant discounts (despite a headline of "up to 70% off") and a strengthening exchange rate conspired against us. As a measure of prices, the Navigators fuel index (sort of like the Big Max index) has unleaded at the equivalent of AUD 2.00 (HKG11.55).
Although it was nice to be stretching our legs out and about in Hong Kong, in hindsight we should have stayed in the hotel lounge and our room.
We are doing well after the first day. Our free/complimentary breakfast count stands at 1 (the Qantas Business lounge) and our upgrade count is also at 1 (to a 1 bedroom suite at the Marriott).