Hong Kong again - The Wesley
Safe and reliable as usual, the airport express dropped me off at Hong Kong station 25 minutes after it had departed Chek Lap Kok, and I got into a cab for a quick ride to the Wesley Hotel, where I had again booked a HKD430 room for the night. While nobody at the reception made any remarks about my very recent stay at the same hotel, they nevertheless gave me a larger corner room this time, which offered additional amenities such as water bottles and extra toiletries, as well as a note from management saying “thanks for staying with us”. Maybe it was just a coincidence, maybe not. I didn’t care much and went to bed right away.
This layover in Hong Kong was originally intended just for some hanging around and maybe some shopping, but when I had the pleasure of welcoming SanDiego1k and her husband in Zurich in May, we discussed our travel plans for the remainder of the year and noticed that we’d both be in Southeast Asia around the same time. And a couple of emails later, SanDiego1k had arranged her flights in a way that allowed us to spend this day in Hong Kong together, she on the way home from Bali and I “transiting” from Tokyo to Singapore. We had agreed to meet around noon in the lobby of the Conrad, but when I left the Wesley and stopped at the Pacific Coffee Co. outlet next door for breakfast, my charming Flyertalk “date” sat there using one of the free internet terminals. (Play “it’s a small world” tune again here….) We chatted for a while, and then went over into Pacific Place for some shopping at Watsons (think Duane Reade or Boots), where it was my pleasure to introduce SanDiego1k to one of Hong Kong’s most incredible bargains: 20 AA or AAA batteries for 8 HKD, equaling one US buck. I grabbed several packs to power my cordless mouse and my palm pilot for the next couple of years, and SanDiego1k could not resist buying some as well. I should have asked the store manager for commission!
When noon approached, we returned to the Conrad lobby to meet SP! there, and then cabbed it over to the IFC mall to have lunch at Isola, a new and very chic Italian place that made it into the July issue of “Discovery”, Cathay’s inflight magazine, and which is run by the cousins of well-known Flyertalker GuyBetsy. Due to the very humid weather, we weren’t all that keen on al-fresco dining, but still accepted the table on the terrace as it was the only one available. The restaurant would normally offer a nice view over the western part of Victoria Harbour, but this was a cloudy, in fact downright foggy day, and we did not see much and had to enjoy the food instead. While I can’t vouch for the others, I can say that my pasta was good. But it still felt good to return to the air conditioned passages of the mall after the meal. We walked by a tea shop which SanDiego1k immediately recognized as the supplier to Cathay Pacific, and decided to have a look around. I saw a tea set that I thought ausTXhiker might like (he later told me that he really did) and took a picture of it to send him. By then, the zealous shop owner had already invited SanDiego1k and SP! for a round of freshly prepared Chinese tea, and I joined them and listened to the expert explaining how Chinese tea is properly prepared. I liked the tea we sampled a lot and had the shop owner give me a business card for future reference. As it turned out, that “future” was about five hours later when I returned to the shop before leaving town to get some tea for a friend of mine.
SanDiego1k and SP! were then heading towards Quarry Bay, where the lady was about to have foot reflexology, something I preferred to forego in favor of some more strolling through shopping malls, and so we said our goodbyes and vowed to meet again soon, wherever in the world it might be. After the two had left, I crossed the street and, one last time, boarded the Star Ferry to Kowloon (you know…). By that time though, the humidity was really killing me, so I hurried over into the Harbour Pier mall right after we docked and spent some time in there looking at different shops, but without finding anything that appealed to me. Eventually, time arrived for me to return to the Wesley, which for comfort’s sake, I did via MRT and not with the ferry. At the hotel, I changed into fresh clothes, checked out and got into a cab to the airport express station, where I checked in for my flight to Singapore, this time in Business class (it was a two class flight). There were two counters open for C class check-in, but the line was still pretty long and they kept inviting people with earlier flights to skip the line. I could not decide whether I should consider this practice to be good customer service or a reward for getting there too late, but in any case refrained from saying something and patiently waited until it was finally my turn. Again, the agent insisted on seeing my ticket out of Singapore before printing my boarding pass and lounge invitation. I thanked him and then went upstairs into the IFC mall quickly to get the tea before getting on the airport express, this time leaving town for good.