tourism/mileage run to KUL (before all the hoo-hah)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Mar 28, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The Westin Arlington is right off Rosslyn station. We got
    a pretty snazzy room thanks to lili's status. A pleasant,
    friendly bar. No shuttle bus, and no subway early in the
    morning, so we had to get a cab, $15ish though the airport
    is very close. While waiting for it, they offered us some
    "eye-opener" shots, which were uniformly disgusting. Note
    to all: don't accept "eye-opener" shots from the Westin or
    Le Meridien. You have been warned.

    UA1662 DCA SFO 0800 1127 73G 1AB

    Our cab got us to the airport in reasonable time. The
    aircraft boarded in good time, and it was an uneventful
    flight, featuring the standard breakfast of weird egg
    substance, weird potato substance, and weird turkey sausage
    substance; I didn't eat much, counting on Fung Lum in the
    domestic airside food court; the indicators were that my
    upgrade would clear on the long leg but lili's wouldn't,
    and in the interest of chivalry or domestic harmony or
    something I was honor bound to refuse it. And so it was.

    Fung Lum offered roast duck - as usual I ordered it without
    rice, which means that it comes with a few scraps of bok
    choy instead and costs a buck less. This time, it came with
    nine whole baby bok choys and thus became a substantial and
    pretty good meal. I felt blessed.

    lili's steak taco from Andale was apparently pretty decent
    and came with a quite spicy tomatillo sauce, which she of
    course gave me and which I of course drained.

    Then off to the international club, where the well Bourbon
    was, well, not Bourbon, and the house red was some kind of

    UA 869 SFO HKG 1325 2005 744 20BC

    My upgrade cleared; hers did not. I stayed in coach.

    The guy in the window seat spilled over into lili's space,
    which bothered her quite a bit. Unfortunately, he had taken
    an Ambien or something and so was not rousable. One poked
    him when he got out of bounds, and he groaned and shifted,
    most of the time encroaching farther. After a while one gave
    up and leaned over in the other direction, to me.

    Lunch, I forget: my notes say turkey-cheese sandwich (which
    I didn't have) and "chicken McNuggets repurposed into
    Chinese food with noodles," which I apparently did. At the
    remove of another month, I do remember the texture of this
    dish if not its taste: the chicken was sort of artifically
    tenderized and was surrounded by a not unpleasant starchy
    coating; the noodles were sort of soft and squishy except
    where they were stuck to the side of the dish. There was a
    brown gelatinous sauce with some shreds of Shanghai bok
    choy and maybe a doong gwoo, but I might be remembering
    that from another meal.

    Many hours of dulness, during which there was a second meal,
    which I ignored. No inflight entertainment except for the
    big screen up ahead. We landed a bit early.

    Transit in Hong Kong is even easier than it used to be,
    though the walks seem longer than they used to be. We found
    the Cathay transfer desk in short order; it processed us
    quickly, and we were on our way to the first-class lounge,
    which lili got us into because of her exalted status,
    despite our being in coach.

    The Wing is a very slick lounge, all black granite or marble
    or something, with waiter service and a cafeteria (served or
    self-serve, your choice) shared with business class and with
    some pretty nasty food. On the way back from the restroom I
    walked into the wall at least once, that's how slick and
    polished it is. Oh, God, that food was nasty - St. Peter's
    fish that must have dated from St. Peter's lifetime was
    typical. Some of the sweets, agar-agar based, seemed okay,
    but sugary stiff Jell-O does not a meal make.

    Better news: the Champagne was Peninsula brand and quite
    good (a little oxidized, but not unpleasant), and there
    was San Miguel, brought by an ever-attentive waiter.
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  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    CX 791 HKG KUL 2145 0135 333 65EF

    We had seats in the center section in row 65, which is about
    as far back as I've ever sat on any aircraft. Surprisingly,
    the seats were comfortable, the staff cheerful if not very
    attentive, and the food and drink quite all right.

    The meal, advertised as chicken with rice, was tasty and
    tender, the meat one good-size thigh in a brownish Chinese-
    style sauce, the rice slightly crunchy but quite all right
    on the whole. A fruit cup, okay, and some kind of gooey
    dessert that I didn't eat.

    We came in a little early but missed the last shuttle to
    the hotel, which meant that we spent ten bucks extra on a
    taxi, which took 15 minutes on its rather circuitous route.

    The Concorde Inn Airport is perfectly fine, though it smells
    rather, er, tropical, being tropical. It's a set of low
    buildings, well kept but not fancy, with a somewhat more
    festive-looking reception/breakfast/convention area in the

    The room was comfy; the air conditioning, which had been
    turned off for economy's sake, roared into action with the
    first touch of the button, and all was well in short order.
    You have to turn the water heater on 10 minutes before your
    shower, but once we'd figured that out, the bathroom was
    fine as well.

    A good night's sleep followed by a decent breakfast. I had
    some kind of soy sauce noodles, which were okay though had
    suffered a little from their stay on the buffet; lili
    ordered an omelet with cheese from the egg station; what
    she got was two poached. Okay, there was something lost in
    translation here. I was excited to see a chafing dish that
    said roti canai; unfortunately, inside was a scraping or
    two of some unidentifiable substance.

    Kiwi and mango juices, both good.

    In the corner were desserts - I tried pandan cake and
    chocolate cake, both with that odd spongy quality so well
    appreciated in this part of the world.

    After a wander around the unspectacular grounds (the pool
    is kind of nice, but lili hadn't brought her suit), we took
    the hotel shuttle back to the hotel, where we spent some
    time looking for the bus station before eventually getting
    tickets and being among the last to board a departing
    chariot. It takes an hour, mostly on some fairly nice
    superhighways, but the end leg on city streets that seem too
    narrow for a car, let alone a full-size bus. It makes one
    appreciate the skill of the drivers.

    Le Meridien is on the other side of the Sentral train
    station from the bus stop. Some mapping programs that shall
    remain unnamed show it on the same side. Not a big problem -
    there are big signs, if you know where to look, for Hilton
    Le Meridien.

    The two hotels are side by side, mirror images of each
    other. You enter from the parking lot, take the elevator,
    and you have two choices: left, Hilton, right, Meridien.
    Both are owned by the same outfit and maintain, I am told,
    the same high standard of hospitality.

    We were invited to check in at the club lounge, where we
    were offered our choice of refreshment. I asked for a
    Tiger beer, but lili ordered a glass of red wine, which
    caused some consternation, because who drinks wine before
    dinnertime, and it was locked up, but someone fetched the
    key; it turned out to be a not too good Cabernet-Merlot
    from Bodega Somebody in Argentina or Chile - not memorable.

    We decided to walk to Chinatown and found from hair-raising
    experience that this part of town is not particularly
    walkable - more than once we found ourselves crossing many
    lanes of speeding traffic, none of whom were inclined to
    give quarter to an elderly bewildered couple. This didn't
    really faze me but did lili. We were past the point of no
    return when it started to rain. Crapola, there wasn't any
    train station nearby, so we did the best we could, making a
    beeline to Jalan Petaling, the main shopping street, which
    turns out to be covered in slightly leaky Plexiglas. This
    got boring in short order, so we stopped for (expensive)
    beers at the Swiss Hotel (as distinguished from a Swissotel,
    of which there isn't one) and waited for the rain to let up,
    which it didn't all day, so we ended up wandering moistly
    around the area, taking in the to a nonshopper unremarkable
    Central Market and to a nondevout unremarkable but amusing
    Hindu temple. As the rains seemed to be regrouping in an
    atypical way, we decided to find the nearest train station
    and get back to Sentral as quickly as possible, passing up
    any chance for a nice Chinese dinner, which we didn't need

    There was half an hour of happy hour left at the lounge, so
    free-flow red ink and (for me) Jack Daniel's were in order.
    The snacks were not thrilling.
  3. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Thanks for the trip report, violist! And you are a exceedingly wise man! ;)
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  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    We were in a similar situation recently. SFO-IAD-FRA. Both legs cleared for my wife, neither for me (#1 on waitlist). She downgraded back to join me in exit row on the 738-operated domestic leg, but I "forced" my wife to take the IAD-FRA upgrade because -- as I explained to her -- there is a significant risk that the GPU would otherwise at the end of the year go wasted due to our travel plans not calling for a ton of UA travel this year. Plus, there really wasn't a good reason for both of us to "suffer" in coach.

    (both of us being 1Ks -- she courtesy of my 1MM status -- I made sure she ended up above me on the waitlist, though)
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  5. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    I hope you didn't walk from Le Méridien to Chinatown! That would be quite a walk!

    there is a newly developed "Little India" quite near the LM, but a challenge to get to without crossing some pedestrian unfriendly roads. Ther is a small food court on the upper level of Sentral if u want some local and cheap food :)
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  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    We had a choice of a continental breakfast at the club
    lounge, rather tony and with nice views, or the full buffet
    at Latest Recipe downstairs. We chose the latter, enjoying a
    quite wide-ranging selection of Asian and western dishes,
    some of which were quite good.

    I didn't record what lili had, but be assured it was your
    pretty standard American fare. On the other hand, my meal
    was wide-ranging and pretty interesting; also twice what a
    normal meal would consist of and many times what a normal
    breakfast would be for me.

    Rice came in fried (with fishy things and dry-fried
    onion bits) or plain.

    Soy sauce noodles were pretty ordinary chow mein, a bit
    salty and with many more bean sprouts than I like, so I
    abandoned that after a couple bites.

    I liked the beef rendang a whole lot, especially doctored
    up with the plain chili sauce that came in another chafing
    dish; I ate two helpings of it, and along with a dose of
    the hottest chicken curry I have ever tasted, it warmed my
    belly as much as anyone would want. Chicken murtabak was
    pretty ordinary, a bit heavy and starchy, and a nasi lemak
    sotong overpoweringly fishy even before I got to the
    squiddly bits. Another odd highlight was the assorted tofu,
    which included okra, hot peppers, and tofu puff, all stuffed
    with tofu mash. Very good, surprisingly tasty.

    To wash all this down, excellent recently-squeezed orange
    and mango juices, with guava and kiwi also available.

    The Batu Caves are supposed to be the most spectacular (and
    also, according to some, the most hokey) sight in the KL
    area. We figured that as one can take the train for only a
    buck or so and half an hour or so, the investment is minimal
    compared to the potential return. So we did that.

    You get off the train at the end of the line and follow the
    crowd. To the left is the rather lurid Ramayana Cave,
    straight ahead past the hawker stalls is the Lord Murugan
    statue, 140 feet high, followed by the several hundred step
    stair to the main cave temples, where you dodge the other
    tourists, the faithful, and numerous macaque monkeys that
    scrounge for food and shiny colorful things to steal. At
    the end a series of pretty impressive caves, at the end end
    of which is a picturesque though tourist- and monkey-ridden
    little temple. In between, not much, but there was plenty of
    activity preparing for the festival of Thaipusam coming up
    the next weekend.

    A raucous but enjoyable site, much better than I had feared.
    The train back costs twice as much as the train over.
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  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    There would be no direct consequences of, ahem, that sort were
    I to do that unspeakable thing. She's not my real wife, just, as
    SeeYa says, my "travel wife." And she's perfect for that, except
    that she's a meat 'n' potatoes girl, so Little India is kind of out;
    on this and most trips we get our sustenance from hotel brekkers,
    with me sneaking some hawker treats:eek: during the day and her
    a burger or cream bun or something during the day.

    When I go gastrotouring I go with someone else.

    And, yes, we walked from Le Meridien to Chinatown, and aside from
    the Asian urban version of Frogger, which she was not used to, it was
    okay, until the heavens opened up in worse than usual fashion.
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  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The monorail gets a bad rap for cost effectiveness, but by
    big city standards it's okay, and it does move a lot of
    folks quickly through the franticly busy city center. We
    wanted to visit the Badan Warisan Malaysian Heritage Center
    and its Rumah Penghulu, a village headman's house from
    Kedah, rescued from ruin and lovingly restored on the
    center's grounds, where it is one of the city's secret
    treasures (despite thousands of people driving past it
    every day). Warning: the mapping programs have various
    opinions as to where it is. On this occasion, Google Maps
    has it right; on the other hand, it has misleading data
    for the Royale Chulan Hotel right across the street.

    You offer a donation of 10 MYR apiece, and you are issued
    bug dope and a guide, in our case a well-informed young lady
    from the office with almost perfect English. She seemed
    to be more focused on the history and function of the house
    rather than its interesting craftsmanship; maybe that's just
    how she sized us up. Her description of the customs and
    governance from the turn of that other century were quite
    informative. As we were halfway through the house, lili
    started feeling a little dizzy, so we cut the tour short and
    went back to the air-cooled office, where we were given
    water and cookies; we received conflicting advice from the
    concerned nyonyas in the building as to whether cool or
    warm water was indicated for the revivification process. We
    ended up with cool. To amuse us during our rest, we got to
    watch a well-made video about the restoration project.

    It was suggested that we get a cab back to the hotel, but
    lili didn't want to do that; our guide suggested a shortcut
    back to the monorail that would keep us within a few yards
    of civilization, food, and air conditioning at all times.

    This took us up past the Pavillion and then Starhill, so I
    suggested we duck into the JW Marriott to cool off and maybe
    have a beer. I started reminiscing about this bar that I'd
    liked ah, ten, fifteen years ago, and I wondered if it was
    still there, and just for giggles we wandered around the
    bowels, and there it was, slightly reoriented and refitted,
    but still serving beer and snacks at fairly reasonable cost.

    Sentidos Tapas is the name, if you're ever on Bukit Bintang
    and in need of a beer.

    There was a happy-hour special on Tiger beer, but it was
    half an hour before time when we sat down. The girl said
    that she'd give us the happy price, though, about half off
    if you get three or five or something. To go with, I ordered
    garlic prawns, which were long in coming, and when they came
    much more what you might get at Jumbo Seafood than the
    gambas al ajillo I was envisioning; still very tasty and
    satisfying, also a pretty decent deal, though not such a
    bargain as around the turn of the millennium. lili got a
    most unusual tapas: Hong Kong-style black pepper sirloin
    chunks, exceedingly black and peppery and done medium. They
    were comfortably recognizable as beef, though, and welcome.

    We left well fed and lubricated and not too much poorer.

    It was rush hour in spades when we took the monorail back to
    the station and the hotel. They had pushers at the station.
    Not that kind of pushers.

    Back to the lounge for late refreshments.
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  9. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Breakfast was another jaunt around the Pacific Rim: guava
    juice, Thai-style bee hoon noodles (good), kampong fried
    rice with anchovy and chicken (pretty decent). The rendang
    of the day was mutton - way too much sugar had been added,
    perhaps in an attempt to mitigate the muttonness. A nasi
    lemak daging, on unwrapping, turned out have dried fish
    instead of beef; though I don't shy away from dried fish, I
    prefer beef about every time, especially when beef was the
    thing advertised. That same chicken curry was quite spicy
    but not as hot as last time. I again overate of the tofu-
    stuffed okra, hot peppers, and eggplant. Finally, a
    steamed rice sheet roll, disappointingly empty, was a waste
    of stomach space, but as I don't care to discard food, I put
    some of that miraculous chili sauce on it, and it was okay.

    lili was getting finicky and was made unhappy because her
    fresh-made waffle was custardy inside (I thought the
    texture exquisite).

    On the map the national museum is a short walk from the
    station, but it's really a bit of an adventure, as a
    pedestrian route hasn't really been designated. We had to
    exit the hotel parking lot by a ramp, then cross a highway
    ramp, down a set of stairs, and across a subway station
    construction site, no sidewalks up to this point. Then it
    turns out the museum itself is undergoing renovation.

    It's mostly a history of the Malaysian nation along with
    a celebration of its culture. Art is downplayed here (one
    can get one's fill at the Islamic Art Museum down the way)
    in favor of artifacts, photographs, reconstructions, and
    audiovisuals. Nonetheless, we were kept going for a couple
    hours here. Plus there's a vending machine that sells Coke
    and interesting stuff like a local root beer for 1 MYR
    (this was heavy on the licoricey flavors and light on the
    carbonation, also excessively sweet). Outside there is a
    collection of historic automobiles and other conveyances,
    and down the way a couple of reconstructed buildings from
    various provinces.

    Back to the hotel for snacks and then it was time to take
    the bus back to the airport.

    This particular vehicle was not in quite so good repair as
    the one into town and kept making weird noises; plus it
    kept lurching and bottoming out, and we were afraid the
    transmission would fall off before we got to our
    destination; that the suspension was shot was a foregone

    We eventually got there. Instead of dropping us at the
    station where we'd got on, instead the driver stopped on the
    right side of the road at the terminal and let us off into
    traffic, which luckily was not too heavy, and it was easy to
    collect our bags and sprint across.
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  10. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    I'd booked a Cathay flight CX1724, but it turns out that
    it was a codeshare operated by Malaysia, not a big problem,
    I thought, as this airline has a fine reputation for service
    and had a pretty good one for reliability.

    The Golden Lounge is open, having undergone an extensive
    remodeling. It's quite pleasant in its new incarnation,
    extremely spacious with decent catering. There is a bar
    on the left as you enter, with a limited but choice
    selection. When we were there, the bartender was kind of
    hiding off to one side, which was okay, as there were no
    customers before we walked in.

    Ch. Liversan, a good basic Bordeaux, was the red of the day,
    and lili drank herself sili on it (not rili). It didn't
    particularly go with the food on offer, of which I had a
    creamy, pretty nice chicken korma, as well as a couple
    prawns in tamarind and chilli, from which I took all the
    chiles I could find. lili went by the sandwich station and
    the breakfast food station, as that's more her type of
    thing. To go with my spiced-up South Asian food, I drew me a
    Carlsberg, followed by some delicious mango juice.

    MH 78 KUL HKG 1925 2300 738 23AC

    Our gate was a train ride back, and we allowed ample time,
    which meant chilling our jets for a few at the gate, as
    boarding wasn't anywhere near when they said it would be.

    Document checks, security, and eventually boarding were
    reasonably orderly despite some old nyonyas insisting on
    pushing to the front (how old? my age minus 10 years).

    We got seats in the wayback with a blocked middle. The digs
    were comfy enough; the pitch seemed to be a bit better than
    the claimed 30".

    Not to be outdone, the meal on MH was the meat of two
    chicken thighs in a dark soy sauce with somewhat mushy in
    the middle and crunchy on the edges noodles, not bad for
    that. Better than most of the business class food one gets
    on United or Lufthansa.

    We came in more or less on time, but it took a while to
    negotiate the bowels of the airport.

    The Marriott Sky City had e-mailed me the day before; the
    hotel seemed to imply that we were going to be picked up,
    which given the price I'd paid seemed unlikely. Nonetheless,
    we looked (in vain) for an escort when we arrived and went
    off to immigration with the polloi. This turned out to be
    fairly quick after we were funnelled into a room all of
    whose booths said "go to another booth." It turned out
    they'd opened up another bank of officers for us, and we
    were out a couple minutes after we discovered that. After,
    we hot-footed it to the hotel transfers desk and were told,
    with apologies, to wait five minutes, after which we were
    shown to our car, a Lexus SUV, just for our mile trip to
    the hotel.

    As a gold member I rated an excellent suite with what passes
    for a water view in these parts - this part of the harbor is
    a parking lot for empty container barges, with dredges here
    and there getting ready to deepen the channels so even more
    traffic can be packed in. Unspectacular, but that's not the
    hotel's fault. The bathroom was superb.

    We went down to the bar for a nightcap: Remy VSOP was
    available for 10 HKD more than beer, so that's what I had;
    lili's Oyster Bay Merlot was acceptable but not for the
    same price as Remy VSOP.
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  11. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    An extensive breakfast buffet was included either in the
    rate or in my gold benefits, not sure which.

    Hot meats were that funny mixture of breakfast food and
    dinner food that you get in Asian places. I am of course
    thankful for this custom, because I don't care for most
    breakfast foods.

    They were mostly pretty average. Sliced grilled beef
    tenderloin was lukewarm, medium to medium-well, strewn
    with too much rosemary. Crispy bacon was less than crispy,
    but that is fine with me. There was "beef sausage" that
    tasted like chicken bratwurst to me. lili reports that
    her omelet was expertly made.

    My eyes lit up when I saw a couple piles of bamboo steamers
    (generally a good sign). These turned out to house some of
    the worst versions of dim sum that I've ever encountered -
    think freezer-burned Trader Joe's. Oh, was I entoisht.

    This fiasco was redeemed by a large selection of excellent
    baked goods of the Europastry sort, rivalling the best
    spreads of, oh, what comes to mind, the Conrad Brussels.

    Juices on offer were tomato, pineapple, orange, red apple,
    and watermelon, but there were also dragonfruit, carrot,
    green apple, and another couple things available to
    be squeezed on request.

    A cold cut table could just as well have been called the old
    cut table, including ordinary salamis with a bit of a hard
    edge and ham that had turned. Contrast this with some very
    nice smoked salmon.

    One could eat well, and I did, mostly on salmon.

    The shuttle back to the airport was a full-size bus. It
    took us there in the company of a veritable United Nations
    of the comfortable and respectable, and we were back in the
    good hands of United in short order.

    The boarding pass machines scanned us and spat out our
    documents without hitch, except for me there was an
    additional paper that read "Please see a United Airlines
    airport representative for an important message" - uh oh,
    said I.

    Long security lines, but they moved fairly fast.
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  12. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA 862 HKG SFO 1230 0815 744 8CD

    We had time for an e-mail and relax session at the Royal
    Orchid, whose food I prefer to the United Club. The desk
    agent apologetically informed us that there would be no
    departure announcement for our flight but welcomed us in
    graciously under that caveat.

    Immediately I went to the bar and poured myself a generous
    slug of Baron Otard VSOP, which was spicy and harsh in the
    blended-for-the-Asian-trade style.

    There were some interesting stir-fries on the steam table,
    but I wasn't tempted owing to having recently had breakfast,
    but I did try some rather ordinary dim sums that actually
    did taste sort of like dim sum, props to that.

    Magnum and other ice creams in interesting flavors, such as
    green tea and red bean, as well as some peculiar Asian
    desserts, such as a sago pudding that I enjoy but gives the
    heebie-jeebies to my white folk friends.

    At some point I left lili and toddled down the hall to the
    United Club to see about that important message.

    There was no UA representative, just some airport staff with
    limited if any discretion, who seemed to think I was
    lobbying for an upgrade; of course, the reality was that I
    was afraid of being given an upgrade without lili (which
    apparently turned out to be the case).

    Returned to the Royal Orchid, had one last taste of Cognac,
    gathered up lili, and headed to the gate, where I handed
    them the notice and rather pointedly said I liked my seat
    and more particularly my seatmate. The agent tapped away
    furiously at the computer and then said in that peculiar
    face-saving way that the message was that I was one of
    United's best fliers and was soon going to celebrate 20
    years as a Mileage Plus elite and reach 2 million miles
    flown. Oh, okay.

    We boarded up a bit late, hoping they would find lili a
    seat up front as well, but no luck.

    They had given us backward-facing seats by the lav, which
    I turned into a sort of virtue by taking a large dose of
    Lasix, something that I'd recently been neglecting to the
    detriment of a favorite pair of shoes that had popped from
    the strain of the edema.
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  13. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    We were greeted with Pommery blue label, a pleasant and
    fresh wine, a little cidery for my taste, but I stuck
    with this for the whole flight.

    Ch. Bonnet 11 (Entre-Deux-Mers) and Tic Tok Shiraz 11
    (Australia) were the reds on offer. They were typical
    examples, and United could have (and has) done far worse.
    I just tried a few sips for quality control purposes.

    Shrimp and scallop with creamy seafood cocktail sauce

    Decent tiger shrimp and a large but rather tasteless scallop
    - I don't remember the serving size, because I got lili's as
    well, as she doesn't eat marine life. Okay food, nothing to
    write home about.

    Fresh seasonal greens, tomato, orange and croutons,
    Thousand Island dressing or Asian citrus vinaigrette

    I passed.

    For my main course, I got the famous three cup chicken.
    There's some dispute about the identities of the cups, but
    from this interpretation I suspect a cup of soy sauce, a cup
    of salt, and a cup of MSG. The accompanying jade rice was
    tasteless and not particularly green; and broccoli, carrots
    and bamboo tips, salty and mediocre, were perhaps the best
    part of the plate.

    Tenderloin of beef, red wine jus, roasted potatoes,
    asparagus, and pumpkin

    Of course lili chose this, and of course it was terrible.
    The meat was gray and cooked to texture of house insulation;
    lili said it tasted weird as well. She has this thing
    about microwaved and otherwise mistreated beef, and I guess
    this qualified. I had a bite. She was wrong. It's like the
    story Seymour Britchky used to tell about Mamma Leone's. To
    paraphrase, someone finds a block of white stuff on the
    table and samples it. He calls over the waiter and says,
    take this cheese back, it tastes like soap. The waiter says,
    no, I can't do that, you're wrong. Customer says the New
    York 1970s equivalent of WTF?? And the waiter says, it can't
    taste like soap, because it doesn't have any taste. The
    anecdote ends with "Laughs all around." The steak in fact
    had the taste of what I suspect house insulation would.

    Speaking of which, there came by a cart with what the menu
    called "international cheese selection with grapes and
    crackers served with Port" - I tried bites of a couple of
    the cheeses, which in fact tasted like soap and were not
    worth the investment of a couple of lactase pills. I believe
    one was an unripe Munsterish thing; I don't know Jack about
    the other, but it was like Cheddar only tasteless.

    The port was the somewhat estimable Quinta do Portal
    Colheita 08, plummy and raisiny with menthol notes, like
    cough syrup, in a good way.

    Dessert: ice cream with your choice of toppings
    The toppings were almond flakes, strawberry, caramel, and/or
    chocolate syrup. Some piggies were seen to take all of the
    above. I just had a small scoop of Haagen Dazs vanilla,
    which was worth the pills.

    I missed the next meal service, noodle soup with chicken,
    vegetables and mushrooms in savory broth
    , being pleasantly
    asleep in the pleasantly sleepable though rather too thin bed.

    The final tasty bit was chicken congee with chicken, pumpkin
    and bean curd
    , of which the less said the better, except
    that it came with slices of greasy you tiao, a strangely
    grounding and comforting touch.

    All in all, a not unpleasant flight but for the food.

    UA 1481 SFO IAD 1055 1903 752 2EF

    An uneventful flight.

    The meal: pasta in basil tomato sauce with julienne of
    yellow squash and zucchini. Utterly foul, even if you
    thought you liked summer squash, which I detest.
    Newscience and uggboy like this.
  14. tom911
    Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

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    Wow. I thought UA had announced they were going to upgrade their 747 coach product a few years back on international, but looks like this flight was left behind.

    Before the remodel that restaurant was only for F and One World Emerald---sure business flyers are getting in there? I've only been in there once since the remodel and enjoyed it, so have to say I'm surprised you didn't care for the food there. There used to be a separate noodle bar though I didn't go check what became of that space--anyone could get into it. Catering in the restaurant is supposed to be by The Peninsula. Gary Leff has some of the restaurant and food photos HERE if you haven't seen his report.

    When I was there last year they actually set off a section of the lounge as a champagne bar and had a hostess serving from at least a half dozen bottles on a raised area on front of the seats. I don't know a thing about champagne and just asked her to pour me a glass of whatever was popular. Probably best you don't travel with me. :)
    Newscience, violist and uggboy like this.
  15. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    tom - I don't choose my traveling companions based on their
    tastes in wine but more in reciprocal lounge access! lili
    is OWE, so that's how we got in (I'm only OWS).

    I thought the restaurant was open to business class, but I
    have no way of knowing for sure. And the food on the buffet
    was certainly nth-rate. We didn't have time to check out the
    made to order options, though.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  16. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    P.S. And what are you, of all people, doing
    believing anything that United says? :D
    tom911 likes this.

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