Arriving back at HKG checked-in at Qantas on the far right of the terminal, then crossed back to the Cathay First Lounge where I got a cabana and had a relaxing shower. Half bite to eat in the Haven, a bit of shopping then across to the Qantas First Lounge.

Ran into a friends parents in the First Lounge, then another friends brother on board in Business – crazy small world!

Another great flight in Qantas Business. Watched a movie over dinner, then a doco in my private seat – that little red lounge with a lovely big screen tv – byo own headset!

QF128 HKG-SYD 25-Feb
Seat 17A, A380-800, VH-OQJ

Sour and Spicy Vegetable Soup with Tofu and Coriander
Salad of King Prawns with White Beans and Serano Ham

Main Courses
Pumpkin and Mozzarella Aranchi with Braised Tomatoes and Salsa Verde
Seared Sea Bass with Ginger and Shallots, Fragrant Rice and Kan Kong
Red Braised Duck with Mushrooms, Egg Noodles and Asparagus Lettuce
Roast Rack of Lamb with Grilled Vegetables, Mojo Vegetables and Fondant Potatoes
Green Leaf Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Selection of Seasonal Cheese and accompaniements
Pear and Vanilla Cake with Cream Anglaise
Sliced Fresh Fruit

Valhorna Chocolates

Your Flight Attendant will be pleased to assist you with today’s selection

Fresh Whole Fruit
Caramel Slice
Chocolate Bars

Pre-ordered per card form

Wines (names picked from the cart and looked up in the book)
Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Adelaide Hills, SA, Australia)
Toolangi Estate Chardonnay 2008 (Yarra Valley, VIC, Australia)
The Lane Vineyard Shiraz Voigner 2009 (Adelaide Hills, SA, Australia
Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005 (Margaret River, SA, Australia)


Syd Customs and Immi were a breeze (for once)

Till the next travels!

Grand Mercure Oriental Ginza Shenzhen

Minibus transfer

Arrived at HKG and exited quickly using eChannel and crossed under the railway station to the transfer station.

Quickly located my preferred vendor (who went to my hotel) and was directed to a bus gate where I had a short 15 min wait. Minibus with 6 people took the Shenzehn Bay crossing. Being in a minibus you dont get out of the bus for passport formalities, just hand to driver (note I was using my APEC card so did not need the VOA procedures). Quick transfer to another minibus in a public carpark just inside Shenzehn then off to the hotel.

Fairly efficient for HKD150, and the Shenzehn hotels are way cheaper than equivalents in Hong Kong.

Grand Mercure Oriental Ginza Shenzhen

Accor A-Club Platinum appears almost unrecognized at this hotel! Despite lots of A-Club signage the line was not manned and on checking in was told no points as rate below CNY700 (despite booking via AClub site). Didnt bother protesting and got the points after logging a claim. No discernable upgrade and on lowish floor, but did get a 3pm check-out.


Hotel is nicely located on the subway and spent the morning exploring the local mall district and the knockoff mall (Lo Hu Commercial Centre).

Similar minibus experience on the way back although the return (for some reason costs more) (CNY180 despite currency being more expensive) and we did a weird loop back to Lo Hu to pick up no-one before heading back to Shenzehn Bay crossing.


CX581 CTS-HKG 24-Feb

Seat 2A, B747-400 (First seat with Business service) Reg. B-HUA

When booked was originally an A330 but subbed for a B747 a few days before (upgrade!!). I noticed this and reselected 2A (first suite). At checkin was printed a boarding pass for 12A – made a comment about seat changing and promptly received 2A back.

Bought some Royce chocolates which were packed with an ice pack that was confiscated at xray (kept the chocolates though).

Cathay uses the shared Royal Lounge in the International Terminal which has a nice outdoor terrace, moderate food selection,some (average) Japanese wine, decent sake selection, soda fountain and a Sapporo beer machine.


Menu 581 (02/12)

Grilled Japanese scallop with Angel prawn, octopus slice and sea urchin wasabi mayonnaise
Mixed salad with Parmeson cheese, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar dressing
Nameko mushroom flavoured soba noodles

Main Courses
Sauteed ling fish with sweet and spicy sauce, steamed jasmine rice, jade melon with red medlar seed and garlic
Chicken teriyaki with steamed Japanese rice and seasonal vegetables
Grilled beef tenderloin with portabella mushroom and madeira wine sauce, roasted purple sweet potato, pumpkin and asparagus
Saffron and ricotta tortellini in a creamy tomato concasse

Cheese and dessert
Cheese selection
Fresh seasonal fruit
Ice cream

Tea and Coffee

Wine (451, 501, 503, 505, 507, 509, 521, 533, 535, 543, 549, 567, 581 1-2-2012)

Champagne – Champagne Deutz, Brut Classic
White – Mount Riley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (NZ); Domaine des Malandes Chablis 2009 (France)
Red – L’Esperance du Retout Haut Medoc 2009 (France); Moonvine McLaren Vale Shiraz Cabernet Merlot 2009 (SA Australia)
Port – Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2006


Hilton Niseko

Also spent one night at Niseko Hilton which is situated walking distance to a Gondola for first tracks.

Great hotel albeit slightly dated.


At checkin greeted as Diamond including personal greeting by duty manager and upgrade to deluxe room (though no mountain view). Told Diamond amenity would be sent to room. No exec lounge (although a welcome drink voucher) and breakfast buffet at Melt.


Did not appear to be any suites – all guest floors 5-18 appeared to have the same numbering.

Smallish room with two single beds and a very small 4sqm wet room style bathroom. The main sink is actually outside next to the door.

Good bathroom amenities including hair tonic, aftershave, shaving cream and razor. Request to take room towels to the onsen.

Fridge but no minibar contents but relatively well priced shop on level 1.

Flatscscreen tv but only 7 free to air channels. Powerpoints were us/japan style only but plentiful. Wired Internet only (free for deluxe up) but good free wifi in the public areas.


Great onsen with indoor and outdoor springs.

Only room letdown was no master light switch on the bedhead, in room wifi and no ipod/ stereo in connections.

Hotel has a very regular bus/shuttle to Hirafu (including late night returns to 1am)

Snowgum Lodge Niseko and Niseko


Had prebooked a Whiteliner package including return transport and 4 day all mountain ski pass (includes Hanazano, Niseko Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annapuri which all share different slopes off the same main peak). Had absolutely awesome powder snow my first two days with 20+cm overnight, then a windy third day and blue sky (rare in Niseko ) fourth day.

Snowgum Lodge Niseko

Spent five nights at this Australian run lodge (alongside its sibling Ramat Niseko). Somewhat out of town in East Hirafu but daily lodge first tracks bus to Niseko Gondola, regular half hour resort bus to a stop only 50M away and late at night only a 10min walk or US$10 cab fare.

Simple lodge accommodation with mostly shared showers and bathrooms but super comfortable beds and bedding, great breakfasts and a good communal atmosphere. The hosts could not have been more accommodating picking up from bus, running dinner shuttles and organising activities including onsen and snow mobileing.

Snowgum is next to Ramat Niseko which is owned by the same people and has a bar, pool table, darts and a good value three course meal every couple of nights. Both lodges have WiFi, games machines and a number of tv’s with plenty of dvd’s to watch.


Niseko itself is awesome powder and a great experience – definitely on the go back to list.

For those who go recommend the buffet lunches at Melt at the Hilton Niseko Village and also the Buffet Restuarant at Annapuri.


CX580 HKG-CTS 18-Feb
Seat 2A, B747-400 (First seat with Business service) Reg. B-HKT


Poached Angel prawns with seaweed and plum mayonnaise
Mixed salad with artichoke, marinated mixed peppers and mint yoghurt dressinh
Mugwort soba noodles

Main Courses
Pan-fried Australian beef tenderloin with yuzu pepper miso butter sauce, steamed Japanese rice and mixed vegetables
Sauteed ling fillet with sa cha sauce, steamed jasmine rice, btoccoli with ginger
Roasted chicken breast in port wine sauce, creamy Parmesan polenta, roasted carrot, turnip and parsnip
Saffron fettucine with tomato concasse and Parmesan cheese

Cheese and dessert
Fruit selection
Fresh seasonal fruit
Ice cream

Tea and Coffee

Champagne – Champagne Deutz, Brut Classic
White – Mount Riley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (NZ); Domaine des Malandes Chablis 2009 (France)
Red – L’Esperance du Retout Haut Medoc 2009 (France); Moonvine McLaren Vale Shiraz Cabernet Merlot 2009 (SA Australia)
Port – Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2006


When I originally booked the flight I had been in the Business cabin, but when Cathay shifted to Amadeus the First cabin became available so I selected 2A (on the Qantas website) which changed my seat selection on Cathay and it stuck. First cabin was full so I assume a lot of high-tier Cathay pax also upgraded.

New HKG Wing Business Lounge

A quick trip to the new Wing Business Lounge (just to see it – as a Qantas Platinum/ oneworld Emerald I am entitled to the First Lounge, but it had just reopened) for a coffee at the Coffee lounge and Dim Sum at the Noodle Bar. Quite impressed with the understated yet classy feel to the place.

Particularly impressed with the view from the Coffee Lounge.

Some photos that were new when I took them (but it took two months to get the blog up)


Novotel Taipei Taowan

Quickly through immigration and after a false start found the hotel shuttle which was fairly full at this late hour. Luggage was last off the shuttle so a small wait for checkin. Upgraded to high floor room given drink voucher (valid that night) as an Accor Aclub Platinum. Breakfast in a bag arranged and taxi booked for 5am (a big Twd100 or a$3).

Very modern room with electronic glass bathroom window and a big teddy bear in the room. Early wake-up call, to the airport and to the gate (minus the breakfast pack juice)

Band at the bar was still going near midnight (I did have to use the free drink voucher)

ATM in the carpark underneath the hotel gave me a 100 note for the taxi – thats use of change (and my 28Degrees card)



CX468 HKG-TPE 17-Feb
Airbus A340 B-KPK Seat 2K

Menu (402/468 02/12)


Loch Tyne salmon with marinated prawn and roasted pepper

Main Courses
Braised chicken and chestnuts in oyster sauce, egg fried rice and stir-fried baby pak choy with bean curd skin
Grilled veal fillet with Madeira sauce, honey roasted swedes, French beans, sautéed tomato and mixed mushrooms
Spinach and Ricotta cheese tortellini with tomato concasse and pine nuts

Raspberry swirl cheese cake with raspberry coulis in a chocolate cup

Tea and Coffee

Wine (400,402,406,408,462,464,466,468,470,472 1-2-2012)
Champagne – Champagne Armour De Deutz Brut 2002
White – Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Les Clous 2006 (Côte de Beanue, Burgundy, France); Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (NZ)
Red – Château Branaire-Ducru 4ème Cruise Class 2007 (Saint-Julien of Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France); D’Arenberg The Galvo Garage Cabernet Blend 2006 (Adelaide Hills, SA, Australia); Wooing Tree Pinot Noir 2007 (Central Otago, New Zealand)


And of course I had to have some JW Blue before landing!

Very impressed with the Cathay First Cabin. Plenty of storage with a little private closet in front of the seat including room for my tri-fold and jacket. The rollaboard went underneath the guest seat.


Very empty First Class with only one other passenger.