MH69 TPE-BKI

MH69 TPE-BKI, 15-Mar
Boeing 737-400 Seat 14K

First old 737 in a while but got the pick of the seats – 14A/K have meters of legroom as the two exit rows in front have no window seats. Despite its age, cabin was in looking OK, although unsure about Malaysian random colour system that mixes red, green, Orange and aqua blue seats. Loads around 90% but I had a spare next to me.


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Decent meal served – choice of chicken noodles or an omlette.

More Lounge Taipei

More Lounge Taipei

Paid a visit to this Priority Pass lounge. Lounge sits in the middle of the passage connecting the two wings with a view from the outside to immigration. Design and seating is very old wordly (Somewhat different to the Cathay lounge down the hall). Food is fairly local but a good selection of soups and buns, and some toast. Plenty of packaged tea/coffee, a soda fountain, ice cream and small selection of spirits. Lots of computers to use and quick wifi.


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Amba Hotel Ximending Taipei

Amba Hotel Ximending

This is a brand new hotel in Ximending, the area described as Taipei’s Shibuya. A number of streets are closed to traffic in the afternoon and evening including the street in front of the Amba, but only a 50m walk from the main road. Hotel sits above a multi-level department store with a bakery and Starbucks at Ground Level and McD’s across the road. Hotel reception on Level 5, with rooms on Level 6 to 10. Opened in Feb 2012 so very new. Reception area is very funky and open and the level also contains a large bar and restaurant with some cool modern artwork.


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Rooms are very clean and modern. All white bed but with an antique coke chest and metal drum as side tables. Closet looks like it is from ikea. Separate shower and toilet and a central sink, fridge etc near the entrance. Overall very nice hotel, a bit like an aloft I guess. No minibar but a decent sized fridge. Free wifi in the rooms with good speed.


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Spent the night exploring Ximending


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Then over to City Hall to checkout Taipei 101 (a surprisingly longish walk from the MTR).


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Only downside to the hotel for me was being on the main road side (room 823) there was a lot of external noise including motorcycles and trucks. Windows on that side do not appear to be double glazed. Perhaps rooms on the other side or the internal ones would be quieter.

Alarm set for 530 but bodyclock got me at 520. Out of hotel by 535 and onto a bus by 545 (taxi and bus cost 100+125twd and far more comfortable than the 1200twd taxi fare). Bus makes a few short stops along the way but at airport by 630. No queue for Malaysian checkin (800 departure) so through to airside.

CX472 HKG-TPE

CX472 HKG-TPE 16-Mar
Airbus A340-300 B-HXK (Jul-98), Seat 16K, Gate 71

Menu (400/408/464/470/472 F-A/12)
Refreshment

Starter
Fresh seasonal fruit

Main Courses
Braised minced pork patty, steamed jasmine rice with pak choy and Chinese vegetables
Roasted chicken breast in port wine sauce, creamy Parmesan polenta, roasted carrot, turnip and parsnip
Braised e-fu noodle with deep-fried shrimp shiu gow

Dessert
Chocolate mousse brownie with raspberry

Tea and Coffee

Wines (same menu)
Champagne – Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne
White – Mount Riley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (NZ); Domaine des Malandes Chablis 2009 (France)
Red – Moonvine McLaren Vale Shiraz Cabernet Merlot 2009 (SA Australia); Château Taffard de Blaignan Médoc 2009
Port – Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2006

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Arrived at TPE T1 (which is undergoing wholesale renovation) and managed to find the single ATM Machine then downstairs for the bus into the city (a high speed rail connection is under construction but still seems some way off). I took the Cheung Kwa bus to Taipei Main Station then a short taxi to Ximending.

The Arrival and Conrad Hong Kong

One of the first into The Arrival (after waiting half an hour into the empty terminal) and secured a shower and got changed.

Quick breakfast, first train then shuttle to Conrad Hong Kong. Arriving at 7am on a free stay I wasn’t expecting a room – but no – 58th floor Executive Club room was mine. HHonors Diamond status works again. Usual impeccable Conrad service throughout the stay, although I was only briefly able to utilise the Evening Drinks.

So a quick snooze and use of the internet in lounge then off to a few meetings and lunches including my first visit to the ICC, Ritz Carlton and massive shopping mall beneath. Some evening drinks at the misspelled Wooloomooloo in LKF Then a solely Californian wine bar Californian Vintage (had over 80 wines by the glass using a vacuum system) and a cool ipad menu/ info system.

Next day I actually checked baggage in the morning and just roamed about with a day pack before working my way back to the Airport. CX Wing First is now closed with a sign and staff member standing at the entrance but doesn’t appear to be much happening yet.

But with a Gate 71 departure, it was off to The Pier First. Food area was very busy and food selection was the usual good stuff. Walked out via Business lounge to get closer to my gate.

CX138 SYD-HKG

CX138 SYD-HKG 12-Mar
Airbus A330, B-HLR (Sep-01), Seat 19D

Checkin for CX at Sydney was in Row A which has seen better days. Only three serving the business queue with three other passengers waiting. Check in appeared very slow in the economy queue was quite large. Anyhow through to the Qantas First Lounge by 1930 when I was one of no more than five there (unfortunately spa was closed). Sat down and ordered and the lounge gradually filled up.

Lounge had just changed to the new spring menu so I took part in some of the new dishes, and then went back for the new wagyu sandwich (brilliant but messy given the salad).


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Plane was old style lie flat coffins, I think this is the only HKG-SYD flight yet to change over to the new style and completely full. I had changed flights two weeks before and was only able to get an aisle seat. Watched j.edgar on the plane, got changed into my QF First pj’s (byo as cx doesn’t provide – two other pax were in QF Business), got a do not disturb sticker and to bed. Plane arrived at gate early and was through the airport by 430! So half an hour till CX Arrival opened and over an hour till the first train service

Menu (138-1137J-A/12)

Supper
Mixed salad with gravlax and French dressing

Main Courses
Braised lamb shank with creamy polenta, green beans and carrots
Deep-fried cod with hot bean sauce, steamed rice, pak choy and carrot

Light Choice
Roasted duck in noodle soup

Cheese and Dessert
Camembert, Maffra Fargo Walnut, Roaring Forties Blue
Fresh seasonal fruit
Chocolate orange mousse and strawberry cream cake with raspberry coulis

Tea and Coffee
Pralines

Snacks
Roasted duck in noodle soup
Maggie Beer ice cream

Breakfast
Starters
Orange or Apple juice
Mixed berry & soya milk smoothie
Fresh seasonal fruit
Fruit yoghurt
Butcher muesli

Main Courses
Spanish omlette with Mushrooms, chorizo, beans and corn cakes
Braised e-fu noodles with dim sum and Chilli sauce
Congee with chicken and ginko nuts

Bread Basket
Assorted breakfast bread served with preserves, honey and butter

Tea and Coffee

Wines (100,102,104,110,134,136,138,156,162,170,174,178,194 1-3-2012)
Champagne – Champagne Deutz, Brut Classic
White – Mountadam Vineyard Eden Valley Riesling 2009 (SA, Australia); Domaine des Malandes Chablis 2009 ( France )
Red – Château de Maison Neuve Montage Saint-Emilion 2009 (France); Moonvine McLaren Vale Shiraz Cabernet Merlot 2009 ( SA, Australia )
Special leaflet – Dilection Chinon 2010 (Grand Château, Loire Valley, France )


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QF128 HKG-SYD

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

Entrée
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

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

Chocolates
Valhorna Chocolates

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

Refreshment
Fresh Whole Fruit
Caramel Slice
Chocolate Bars

Breakfast
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)

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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.

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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

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.

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Menu 581 (02/12)
Dinner

Starters
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
Praline

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)