Day 48 (1 August): Hong Kong then HKG-SYD

 

We awoke to the edge of a typhoon blowing through Hong Kong.  The rain was pouring down and no visibility across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon.  Accordingly, a leisurely breakfast in the Member’s Lounge on level 38 was in order.

The view from our hotel room.  A grey day over Hong Kong

The view from our hotel room.  A grey day over Hong Kong

By mid morning the rain was clearing so we headed out to Causeway Bay on the lookout for some specific shoe stores.   This was the first time we have stayed on Hong Kong Island (we are usually at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon) and were delighted at the ease of getting around undercover.  Indeed, it is possible to spend most of the day out of the weather.  We went downstairs in the lift; through subway tunnels connecting Pacific Place, the Admiralty buildings and metro station; metro to Causeway Bay; more subway tunnels to Times Square shopping mall.  It was only about two hours later when we went to the Jardine Bazaar street market that we actually headed outside.  On the way we walked through Bowrington Road food market with its eye popping (for Westerners) food – fish with offal on display; pig legs with trotters still attached; and plenty more.  Not a refrigerator or ice in sight, not that the ice would last long in the stifling humidity.

Hong Kong is busy – everyone knows that.  However it seems Hong Kong Island is even busier. The metro was packed, the shops were busy, the roads were crowded and grid locked and the footpaths barely have room for one person let alone opposing pedestrians.  For the first time, the Navigator found the bustle of Hong Kong somewhat overwhelming.  Maybe we just needed more time to adjust and acclimatise.

Our shoe shopping expedition was fruitless and we decided it was too hot to head for the music store when we didn’t really know where we were going.  We returned to the hotel from some lunch and a rest to take advantage of our 4pm late checkout.  After checking out of the hotel, we caught the airport express shuttle back to Hong Kong Central and checked into our flight using the amazingly efficient remote desks.  It is possible to check into almost any flight departing from Hong Kong airport up to 48 hours beforehand.  Boarding passes are issued and luggage is forwarded through to the airport. This service is available at Hong Kong Central and also Kowloon station.

We still had time for more shopping, so headed across to Tsim Sha Tsui.  The Navigator bought some music electronics he had hankered for since Ochanomizu in Tokyo and then we headed to Harbour City shopping mall for the Navigatrix.  By 7pm were done, so headed back to the JW Marriott to pick up our carry-on luggage and then repeated our shuttle journey back to Hong Kong Central.  Within twenty minutes the Airport Express had returned us to Hong Kong Airport.

Once through security we headed to the Cathay lounge, this time going to the Pier lounge at the far end of the main concourse.   This is largest lounge in the terminal complex – the business class space alone is over 3,000 square meters.  The lounge is organised into five different zones, all connected by a corridor running the centre like a spine. Each zone becomes progressively quieter as you progress through the space, from the buffet to the bar to the noodle bar to the tea house to the rest zone.  There are plenty of showers and change rooms located at either end of the lounge.  The beauty of being in the lounge at 8pm was the space was almost empty so we had our pick of chairs, the food and bar service was brisk and the ambience was quiet.  The food was fantastic - the Navigator had vermicelli with vegetables, bean sprouts and a generous spoonful of Schezuan chili oil, as well as a pork steamed bun.  The Navigatrix had chicken, salad and rice from the buffet.  Later there was cheese, biscuits, chocolate praline parfait and Haagen Das ice cream.   The showers were fantastic with plenty of hot water pressure, Aesop cosmetics and lots of room to change.  

The Pier business class lounge - almost empty at 8pm.

The Pier business class lounge - almost empty at 8pm.

The Noodle Bar.  I'll have the steamed pork bun, please.

The Noodle Bar.  I'll have the steamed pork bun, please.

The food and the ambience was perfect and it was a shame to leave but alas our flight was boarding.  We had flown Cathay Pacific business class from Hong Kong to Osaka on day 2, so the cabin and service was familiar to us.  Even at midnight there was a meal service but we both opted for the lighter fare of leek and potato soup combined with a dish of ham, fetta and olives.  The pilot warned of turbulence from the nearby typhoon and indeed it was quite bumpy for the first few hours of the flight.  We both managed to get some sleep, although the Cathay business class seat was not without its challenges for the Navigator’s 183cm frame. Although the personal video screen only protrudes approximately 5cm from the partition, he repeatedly bashed his knee when turning over.  However that was the worst of it and we both managed a relatively comfortable sleep.

We woke to breakfast being served (a full English offering again – better than BA but not as good as Finnair) and then we approached Sydney Airport from the north and landed directly.  Observing our approach via the onboard camera, we could see the shadow of the plane getting closer... closer... closer until we touched down.  We zoomed through customs and after a short wait for the bags we were in the cab and home within 90 minutes of arrival.

That’s it! Our 51 night holiday was over (yes, we have lost count in the blog titles).  Despite the Hong Kong stopover we were still really on Barcelona time so it took a couple of days to fully get over jetlag – there were plenty of daylight naps over the following four days.  We had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed all of our destinations. Stay tuned for one more post where we will wrap everything up.