Day in Hong Kong

After arriving late in Hong Kong we didn’t get to see as much on our arrival day as we had hoped. After a fitful night trying to adapt to the new timezone we checked out and set off for our one day exploring.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very good – humid and foggy with clouds over the distant island peaks. We quickly realised that our planned trip up Victoria Peak for the famous views was going to be pointless. So we set off on foot to explore the area around Wan Chai. Breakfast places were few and far between so after a leisurely Starbucks we walked to the Conference centre and the nearby Great Bauhinia which commemorates Hong Kong becoming part of China. I was particularly impressed by the scaffolding up the side of the Conference Centre, a couple of a hundred feet high all made from bamboo poles!!

We then caught the Star Ferry from Wan Chai to Kowloon. Our timing was terrible, the humid, cloudy weather suddenly turned into a huge thunderstorm. Visibility was almost zero, the rain was lashing down, and the crossing was almost apocalyptic!! We didn’t stay on Kowloon for very long. The rain made it too difficult. We caught the Star Ferry back across to Central on Hong Kong Island. Central is quite interesting, lots of shops, government buildings and offices including the famous HSBC tower.

Going back to Wan Chai we eventually sat on the harbour side watching the boats going by. Mid afternoon we left for the airport.

My overall impressions was good, Hong Kong definitely lives up to the popular view of it. Trying to get a flavour of it in a day probably isn’t the best easy though!

Flight to Hong Kong

Anne here. The flight didn’t start brilliantly. A 3 hour delay because of a lightening strike on our plane’s previous journey. The captain kept saying “the damage is only very minor”. Good job neither Paul nor I are nervous fliers. Also the amount of leg room might be fine for a three hour flight but suddenly seems very cramped for an 11 hour flight, after a three hour delay. My welcome to the world of long haul. But against the odds we both enjoyed the aircraft meals and slept for a few hours.

I was immediately impressed with the efficiency of Hong Kong airport and luxury coach transfer to the hotel. But I was totally, totally amazed by the journey into Hong Kong. You realise what a mad, mad, mad place it is. The most beautiful high domed islands covered in dark green foliage; the harbour is just fascinating; and then these unbelievably dense areas of the highest skyscrapers and high rise flats ever. It is both unbelievably different and strangely as I expected all at the same time.

As we didn’t arrive until 5pm local time, we have had a short wonder around. At one point we did a smart u-turn when the smell of joss sticks from what were obviously lap dancing bars was too pungent and there were more police than pedestrians. But it is all fabulously interesting stuff and we found a lovely restaurant that seemed to have a sensible mixture of tourists and locals and had a meal of about seven different taster courses. Very good.

Will we sleep as our time zones are out of kilter? My eyes are closing already! And after an aircraft seat, the bed looks just heavenly. Good night.

Cars, Trains, Buses and Planes

Well we’ve made it to Heathrow. A really smooth journey from Cowbridge. Our neighbour John gave us a lift to Cardiff rail station. It was a cold start. As usual the station was cold and windswept. But first class on the train soon sorted us out with lots of free coffee!

We’d decided to get the Railair link from Reading rather than the Heathrow Express from Paddington which worked out well. Quick, cheap and in a decent bus.

This was our first time in Heathrow Terminal 5. It’s huge and well laid out. The staff have all  been really friendly and helpful.

Looking forward to being on the A380 double decker. Shame we’re not travelling first class for this leg of our journey!

Hong Kong here we come!





View of daffodils

Last Day in Wales

Well our last day in Wales has been a little dramatic. Anne’s mum felt unwell and the ambulance was called. However a visit to the hospital was avoided and the doctor called after a check-up by the paramedics. Luckily she seems fine and an adjustment of her drugs seems to be already taking effect. A bit of a stressful day for all involved with the prospect of cancellation at this late stage being considered.

Our garden is full of daffodils at the moment and Anne thought this symbolised our last day here in Wales pretty well.

777 painted with the Hobbit's Smaug

Booking our NZ flights

Gandalf riding the Hobbit's Eagle

Eagle from the Hobbit

Wouldn’t it be great to travel around for free like Gandalf on the back of a Hobbit Great Eagle?

Unfortunately the rest of us have to suffer the delights of long haul so the first activity for our journey to New Zealand was to book our air tickets. We started early, about 10 months ahead of when we wanted to travel.

I’ve quite a lot of air-miles from KLM which is part of the SkyTeam alliance so this seemed like an obvious starting point. It quickly became obvious though that using air-miles was going to be difficult. The airlines like you to travel when they want you to travel, rather than when you want to travel. Due to our work we had fairly restrictive dates and this limited our choice dramatically. Although air-miles are free to use you still have to pay the air taxes which can often work out as much as some cheaper cash tickets. So we quickly gave up on using air-miles which was a shame.

After a short piece of research on Opodo we realised that apart from the really obvious holiday periods the prices were relatively static throughout the year. The cheapest flights were via China but after that most carriers were relatively similar in price.

View of AirNZ multi-stop screen

AirNZ Multi-stop

Of course the obvious airline to investigate was Air New Zealand – Their Opodo prices were comparable to everyone else. They have a great multi-stop booking facility on their website. You pick the start of the journey, the furthest point, and then you can add stops into the outward and inbound segments by just clicking on the line between airports. It works really well and is recommended if you fancy a multi-stop trip. Each segment gives you a choice of possible routing depending on what’s available.

Using the AirNZ multi-stop booking screen we quickly came up with a round the world itinerary that will allow us to stop over at some great places on the way to and from NZ.  Hopefully we’ll adjust more gradually to the jet-lag as well. The round the world ticket was about 30% more expensive but is allowing us to stop over in Hong Kong on the way out, and Fiji and LA on the way back to the UK. As it turned out some of the legs are with AirNZ but we’re also flying with BA and Cathay Pacific.

British Airways A380

British Airways A380

We booked Economy tickets but we decided to pay for extra leg room seats or a guaranteed pair of seats on different legs of the journey, hopefully to make it a little more comfortable.

We had one small problem booking the exact flights that we wanted, and the schedule has changed slightly since we booked and the Air New Zealand service centre has been nothing but helpful. My only comment is that they seem overly familiar for us Brits!! A sign of the NZ friendliness to come maybe?

The first leg of our journey is London to Hong Kong on the new British Airways A380 double decker which should be interesting!

Look out for later posts on how we got on.