tom911 goes to Hong Kong (CX J and F, Hyatt)

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  1. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Day 1

    This trip started off with a bit of a scare at the Perth, Australia, airport.I had spent the weekend in Perth at OzFest.

    I was in the Qantas business class lounge in Perth waiting for my Cathay Pacific flight (business class award, two class plane). The boarding pass said to be at the gate no later than 6:45, and I headed out the door at 6:43 expecting the plane to be at a gate right outside the lounge. Wrong. Fortunately, it was not too far away, on the other side of duty free (a shop area where you can buy liquor, cosmetics and other items tax-free), but I did have a bit of a scare knowing I was not going to be at the gate exactly when I was supposed to be there and technically the airline might be able to deny me boarding. Turned out it didn't matter as they were running about 10 mins late.

    Had a nice window seat in business class on an Airbus A330. It converted into a flat bed which was nice as I had been up since 4a.m. Probably slept 2-3 hours and watched one movie. The middle seat across from me was empty, so a nice quiet flight with no one to bother me. Gate to gate was exactly 8 hours.

    I selected a leek and camembert frittata for breakfast and for lunch. 90 mins before arrival had seared beef fillet with carrots and veggies. Started off with Champagne Deutz Brut Classic. American Airlines also serves this champagne.

    Cathay Pacific flight photos Hong Kong-Perth:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/AirlinesIflyoccasionally/2013-Cathay-Pacific-Perth-Hong/29664365_zvcShS#!i=2539304924&k=DMc3bMx

    My hotel (Grand Hyatt on Hong Kong Island) did offer a shuttle from the airport and had a desk in the arrivals hall. As it was $HK150 (about $US18) I took the A11 bus instead which probably took the exact same route from the airport anyway and cost $HK40 ($US5). I've done the bus most of my trips here and enjoy the neighborhood and harbor views on the way in. The bus was air conditioned, had luggage racks, and plenty of space on board. I got off the bus about 3 blocks from the hotel, next to the Convention Center, and by the time I arrived I was dripping wet due to the humidity here. I looked like a human sponge. It was 86F (30C) with 85% humidity and it's actually expected to hit 92F later in the week. You learn to appreciate air conditioning very quickly.

    I had a nice view of the harbour and Victoria Peak (which you might not know is up there because of cloud cover). I visited the 31st floor lounge for drinks and snacks (just had a Coke Zero along with some meatballs and a ramekin of eggplant parmigiana, enough to avoid going out for dinner). Walked over to the Convention Center afterward for the night light show at 8pm on the harbour.

    View from my room towards Victoria Peak on the left (other direction I look towards the harbour):

    [​IMG]

    Grand Hyatt Hong Kong photos, including the view from my 33rd floor room:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Hotels/Hyatt-Hotels/2013-Grand-Hyatt-Hong-Kong/29664371_bXsgCR#!i=2539306233&k=DSvr8h6

    View of Central from the convention center:

    [​IMG]

    View of Kowloon from the convention center (my hotel is next to it):

    [​IMG]

    Day 2:

    Had breakfast in the lounge which included eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, yogurt and pastries, as well as several kinds of juices. Left full. Walked over to the nearest MTR station at Wan Chai and made my way out near the airport to visit the outlet stores out there. Made a stop for iced tea after looking about for an hour then into Kowloon where I got off at Yau Ma Tei for the walk down Nathan Road, probably just a mile or two, but packed with shops and pedestrians. Did pop into some electronic stores and looked at computers and big screen TVs. Was back at the hotel at 4:30 and made a quick stop at the 11th floor pool for photos. Train tickets run $1-3 depending on distance covered.

    Hotel pool:

    [​IMG]

    Down to the lounge for some appetizers, salad and cheese and I was full. Took the Star Ferry from the nearby Wan Chai pier over to Kowloon. There's a giant floating duck in the harbour there. It adjoins the Ocean Terminal shopping mall and I popped in there for a look at some sporting goods and electronics stores. Saw a nice thin Samsung ultrabook that would be a good replacement for my netbook down the line. Met a pushy salesman who assured me the international warranty on products they sell would be honored in the U.S. (would never buy a computer here as they'd be 220 volt and not 110, let alone the warranty issue, but it's nice to look at the new stuff). Was back at the hotel just after the 30 cents Star Ferry crossing at 9pm

    [​IMG]

    Day 3

    Breakfast in the Grand Hyatt lounge and then a hotel change around noon to the Hyatt Sha Tin, about 30 minutes out by train with two transfers.

    Hong Kong city photos up to this point::
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Asia/2013-Hong-Kong/29664467_Bhs94S#!i=2539320544&k=6Nr95K7
     
  2. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Took about 45 mins to get out to the Hyatt in Sha Tin from the Grand Hyatt on Hong Kong Island (didn't mention that my two nights there were free because I applied for a Hyatt credit card, otherwise it would have been $US450 a night, and you know I wasn't staying at that price). I walked from the hotel through the convention center and then across a covered walkway a few blocks to the Wan Chai MTR station. From there, 3 different trains to get out to the New Territories and the Hyatt Regency hotel which adjoins the University station in Sha Tin. My rate here, with taxes, is about $150 a night, and I have been upgraded to a suite which includes either a conference room with a large table or dining room. I can't decide what it is. It does have sliding doors to separate it from the bedroom area. Needless to say, one of the largest rooms Hyatt has ever given me. I was informed of the upgrade when I checked in on the 25th floor at the Regency Club around 1pm Wednesday. I also get breakfast and evening snacks, as well as wi-fi (normally about $20 a day) included as a member of their frequent guest program. Hyatt continues to look after me pretty well.

    [​IMG]

    After checking out my room on Wednesday I returned to the lounge for some snacks and a cold Coca Cola Light (as Diet Coke is known in many countries), then a walk down to the ferry pier and riverfront. Took some photos of the high-rise housing areas across the river and also some shots looking in the opposite direction towards the hotel. From there, off to Sha Tin by train to visit a 7 story mall. It houses two of my favorite electronics stores here, Broadway and Fortress, and I checked out the new Samsung big screen TVs there. One model had the best picture I have ever seen on an LED television but it was $US4,000, a little out of my price range. I did write down the model number to research when I get home. Stopped in a market here for ice-cold juice drinks from Hawaii at US1 each—same chain that was near my hotel in Shanghai two years ago with a lot of American products.

    Afternoon view from the 25th floor Regency Club lounge (you know I'm not passing up chocolate chip cookies):

    [​IMG]

    Wednesday night I visited the lounge for some wine and snacks. They had a nice selection of cheeses, salmon, and their signature Sha Tin apple pie which is made from two kinds of apples from a nearby Buddhist monastery. Was sound asleep at 9:30.

    Hotel photos and area around it are here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Hotels/Hyatt-Hotels/2013-Hong-Kong-Sha-Tin-New/29705343_DXx9zG#!i=2543756047&k=ZCq3Hc8

    Day 4

    After breakfast in the lounge I took the train a station north to Tai Po Market and walked into the city center. There were vendors selling fresh fruit and even cooked duck. Some of the fruits I've seen in Singapore before and I have a feeling they're unique to this part of the world. Here's one:

    [​IMG]:

    Visited the small railway museum that consisted of some photos in two rooms of an old train station and a couple engines and rail cars. One of the employees offered to take my photo and you'll clearly see that me and Hong Kong humidity don't agree.

    [​IMG]

    From here down another street with vendors, then over to an indoor marketplace near the train station with separate sections for fish, meat and produce. Was back at my hotel around 12:30.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Back out at 2pm for the train ride over to the Heritage Museum. My guidebook says this is “the” museum you must make time to visit in Hong Kong, and as it's only 4 stations and one train change away (and cost 60 US cents for the train trip) I made the time to visit. They have a large porcelain section with some items going back 2000 years, but I was particularly interested in an area with paintings such as this:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Entry into the museum was $HK10 (about US $1.25).

    Was back at the hotel after 5 and worked on my photos. Up to the lounge at 7 and in for the night at 8. Very relaxing visit here, without the rush you have in Kowloon or Central, and I'm enjoying the air conditioned room more than I usually would. The one thing I didn't have time to get to was the 10,000 Buddha Monastery which has 400 steps leading up to it. Figured I'd save the hot and humid climb up for a future date.

    Hotel photos and the area around it are here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Hotels/Hy...n-New/29705343_DXx9zG#!i=2543756047&k=ZCq3Hc8

    Touring photos from Sha Tin, Po Tai and the Heritage Museum are here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-As...ories/29705327_C65kcs#!i=2543761354&k=jLWQnWh
     
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  4. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Day 5

    Left the Hyatt in Sha Tin around noon and just took the MTR rail (three different train lines again, about 50 mins) instead of waiting for the 1pm shuttle bus to my new Hyatt hotel in Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui) . This is an award (free) stay and I was upgraded to a harbour view room on the 16th floor. The better view, though, was up on the 23rd floor from the Regency Club where I visited for evening snacks (salmon, variety of cheese, rolls, veggies plus some desserts). These lounges have kept me well fed for five nights that I've avoided going out for dinner. Nice pool here, too.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Hotel photos are here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Hotels/Hy...-Kong/29754773_4JXVCs#!i=2548783481&k=5R2WPXQ

    During the afternoon I wanted to stay out of the sun as much as possible so I visited the Hong Kong Museum of Art on the waterfront in Kowloon for about 90 mins ($US1.25). Afterward, got some photos of Hong Kong Island from the Kowloon waterfront--bright sun today. That's one of the Star ferries in the second photo below.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I followed the museum visit with a Star Ferry crossing over to Central (about 25 cents) figuring I'd catch a ferry to one of the outer islands. I arrived 10 mins before the ferry for Mui Wo on Lantau Island was departing, so bought a “deluxe” ticket for it and was on my way for the 55 min trip (the deluxe ticket was $3 and allows access to an upper deck air conditioned cabin—it's about $1 less in other areas on board). Ferry windows weren't very clean, though, so no photos of the trip over or back. On return I took a fast ferry (single class with AC about $3.50) and that took about 45 mins. Not much to see in Mui Wo as it's mostly a gateway for other parts of Lantau Island including the Giant Buddha that I have visited before. There are bus lanes right outside the ferry terminal to other parts of the island.

    New Hong Kong photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Travel-Asia/2013-Hong-Kong/29664467_Bhs94S#!i=2548787920&k=5tRVp5M

    Day 6 - homeward bound

    Went up to the lounge for a light breakfast before 9 (cut pineapple, sliced oranges, yogurt, roll and cheeses, pastries). Passed on quiche and muesli. Just before I went up I was watching CNN tornado coverage from Oklahoma Friday evening there.

    At 10 I was checked out and on the way, via underground passageways, to the nearest MTR station, the last one on the Kowloon site, and two stations later I was across the harbour at the Central station on Hong Kong Island where I caught the high speed airport train ($12). Just wasn't in the mood to deal with heat, humidity and hour-long bus rides this morning, so a small splurge. That train takes about 20 minutes with three stops.

    Checked in at the Cathay first class counter, zipped through security with my shoes on and shortly after was in The Wing, Cathay Pacfic's first class lounge, where I enjoyed some Moet champagne in the champagne lounge, then off to a workstation to check e-mail. Next stop: the Cathay restaurant. Enjoyed some fried prawn cakes, pork and shrimp dim sum, plus lemon cheesecake and tiramisu cake, and a couple of chocolates, and you can see why I had the light breakfast.

    Boarded the Cathay 747 for the nonstop 2:10pm flight to SFO (award ticket in F, 67,500 miles). I was in seat 1A in the nose of the plane. My lunch selection was beef strip sirloin with bernaise sauce and green peppercorn sauce. Unlike last year, I did finish my meal this time. Dessert was a cheese assortment and fig cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Flight time was just over 12 hours and I slept about 4 hours in the middle. I watched two movies (Identity Theft and Promised Land) of the 100+ available. Both Cathay and Qantas have excellent entertainment systems.

    [​IMG]

    I enjoyed an Agentinian malbec on this flight as well as a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. On boarding had some Krug champagne.

    Cathay meal photos are here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/AirlinesI...First/29754803_HGxHMS#!i=2548793492&k=pGzjSN9

    Landed on-time at 11:40am but by the time I got my bag and cleared customs I had missed the last possible BART train to the 1:30pm Benicia bus from Walnut Creek (next bus: 3:30pm), so hung around the airport and set out on BART at 1:47pm. Good thing I allowed about 30 mins of padding there as BART was single tracking through Oakland up to Orinda, and then there was a medical emergency on a train ahead of ours. I arrived at the Walnut Creek station 5 minutes before the 3:32pm bus to Benicia departed. My lucky day as the next bus wasn't until 5:30pm! Was in the door about 4:15pm. Hated the mile walk uphill from the bus stop as it was 95 degrees here (at least no humidity, right?).

    That's it for this trip.
     
  5. Aktchi
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    Aktchi Silver Member

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    Great trip report! I am looking forward to my own 3-4 days stop in HKG that I may be able to manage later this year. Looking back, which side of the water you'd want to base yourself if doing it again? Re the outlet stores, did you find anything that was worth buying, ie, so much cheaper than USA that you'd be willing to set warranty, hassle, and customs duty issues aside?
     
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  6. Travelsavant
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    Great report Tom; thanks for sharing.
     
  7. Sedosi

    Sedosi Gold Member

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    Great report. That fruit you took a picture of was pitahaya, more commonly known as dragonfruit. It's got white flesh with tiny, black (edible) seeds on the inside. I like it because it's mildly sweet, but a lot of people say it has no flavor.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitaya
     
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  8. infamousdx

    infamousdx Silver Member

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    I first had pitaya in Mexico, which as the article will tell you, is generally the area where it was first grown. I love it! Nice and mild flavor.

    tom911, awesome trip report! Love the pics.
     
  9. Fredrik
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    Fredrik Silver Member

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    Every intra-Asian flight I was on served fresh fruit and there was something unfamiliar that I didn't like. After a while and with some help I got to know that it was dragonfruit. Maybe it's an acquired taste?
     
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  10. Fredrik
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    Fredrik Silver Member

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    Nice report btw from a place I have visited a few times and will go back to.
     
  11. hulagrrl210
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    Great report! The mystery fruit is dragon fruit. It is a type a cactus and it is amazing! I'm hooked. Easily found in Sinagapore, Hong Kong, and occasionally grown in Hawaii!
     
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  12. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Prior to this trip I've always stayed on the Kowloon side on or off Nathan Road, either at the Novotel, Nathan Hotel and the first few trips at the YWCA in a single room. I've always felt more comfortable on that side as the night markets are there plus plenty of shopping and easy transit access. The Grand Hyatt over on Hong Kong Island didn't really give me that type of access. Had to take a meandering route through the convention center to a walkway that went through an office building to get to an MTR station. That side of Hong Kong has always stuck me more as the business/financial side of the city. It does give you easier access to the Peak Tram, or even a bus over to Stanley (didn't do those this trip), so not entirely without value, but doesn't take much longer to get to that side from Kowloon via train.

    I didn't buy anything this trip, but if I had it would have just been clothing and those would have been $10-20 items. I just wouldn't buy a big-ticket item there. On past trips I've bought things like shirts and batteries where you're really not going to have much of a price difference than what I get at home, though you may have a different design or color. Have to tell you that some shoppers arrived with empty suitcases/rollaboards and were filling them up along the way, so there must be some values there. I'm just not that type of shopper.
     
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  13. Muerl
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    Thank you for the report :)

    I would add Nearly all laptops, including my netbook work at 110-240. This is true for most consumer electronics that are portable. Cell Phone Chargers, Laptops, Camera Chargers, Bose Stereo Docks, and the like have all traveled just fine with me across asia, the pacific and europe. The last one was a huge surprise to my wife who brought her's back from NZ to the US.
     
  14. tom911
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    I had my netbook and tablet with me in Hong Kong, but knew they would work off 110-220 because I investigated before purchase. Didn't know most portable electronics are set up that way.

    My bigger concern with buying electronics there is warranty and repair. My U.S. purchased Samsung tablet had to go back for repair a few weeks after purchase in 2011 because of an issue with the display. It's not the first time I've had to return something during the warranty.
     
  15. Muerl
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    Thats fair and I understand that.

    I purchased a fair amount of clothing for my self while traveling through SE Asia, because it was quite inexpensive, saw my $3 Addias shirt from Cambodia in a TJ Maxx for $13 last month. But I have never purchased electronics. I wonder how purchase pertection would handle that kind of situation.
     
  16. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    there are LOTS of scams on electronics in HK, esp. TST shops. They advertise one thing in the window, then say they are out of it and try to switch you to something else (a few years ago I wanted to buy a camera, which first they said they didn't have, then showed me how bad it was, etc. they used a trick where they smear vasoline on the lens!). On everything I've priced that wasn't a scam the prices were not better than what I could get in the US, unlike 20 years ago when there were deals to be had.

    The prices for clothes, etc. are not even close to the buys in Thailand, but if you search and bargain hard you can get some deals. This is for mediocre, wearable clothing, NOT high quality or high fashion.
     
  17. paladin87
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    Who goes to HK and doesn't eat dinner because they filled up on hotel lounge food?
     
  18. tom911
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    I do. Really not a foodie.
     
  19. estnet
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    Awww, you don't know what you're missing;)
     

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