As far north as you can go

As far north as you can go
Cape Reinga, New Zealand

Cape Reinga, New Zealand


Another sunny morning and a very early one too – up for 6am for breakfast and to meet our coach at 7.15. We’re taking the tour up to Cape Reinga, which saves me a heck of a lot of driving and lets us see some things we wouldn’t otherwise (but more anon). The coach from Fuller’s Tours turns up bang on time and a good number of the Germans who arrived at our hotel by coach the night before get on with us. Then we’re off to the “Hotel Paihia”, where we pick up some Australians and finally off to the “Swiss Hotel” to board some Dutch! Truly a polyglot outing. Our driver/guide, Barry, speaks broad Kiwi, so what the Germans/Dutch make of that I have no idea.

Anyway, finally en route at 7.30am, an hour’s driving takes us past the Hararu Falls to the Puketi Kauri Forest. Kauri trees are native NZ trees that grow to astonishing age and size. We walk through the forest on a raised boardwalk – some of the trees are over 1000 years old. BTW, I am glad I am not driving by this point because we left behind the sealed tarmac road some kilometres back. Doesn’t seem to faze Barry though as he barrels the coach along the gravel like a rally driver. From the Kauri forest we head a further 90km north through for a tea break at ‘The Ancient Kauri Kingdom’ – this is really a shop (with tea room) that sells stuff made out of Kauri wood. The clever bit being that it’s not felled wood, but wood that has been discovered buried in swampland that was drained to make farmland. The wood generally dates to about 45,000 years old. It ain’t cheap though – some pieces of furniture cost more than my car did! The spiral staircase in the shop is made of a single Kauri trunk with the stairs inside – like the stairs inside a lighthouse. Gives you an idea how big these trees are.

From there we keep heading north, going past the site of the wreck of the Greenpeace ship “Rainbow Warrior”, which you may recall the French secret service sank in Auckland harbour. Greenpeace recovered it and scuttled it off Whangaroa Bay to form an artificial reef. We stop for a bbq lunch at a tiny place called Houhora, where the entire town was having a car boot sale in the local ambulance station. The stuff for sale was pretty rubbish – I’ve thrown away better, but then again I reckon it’s just an excuse for people from miles around to gather and natter and eat a hot dog on a Sunday morning. Bloody spectacular views over the harbour though.

At last we make a bid for Cape Reinga – the furthest point north in NZ. I post James a card because apparently the franking is a bit special. The views from the lighthouse towards the other capes and where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea are pretty wow. Lots of photos taken.

Not far south of Cape Reinga are giant sand dunes at Te Paki. Barry leads an expedition of some brave young souls to the top of one of the dunes where they surf down on bodyboards. It’s not the going up that bothers me (though that looks hard), nor the surfing down the dune (though that looks pretty scary), it’s the stream at the bottom of the dune that’s the most off-putting! I stay at the bottom and take pictures. Even Wendy won’t have a go. A few very wet people get back on board. Barry then threads the coach along the Te Paki quicksand stream on to Ninety Mile Beach. You are reading this right btw – apparently the coach is specially adapted for fording water and running on the sand. We blast along the beach at 100km/h throwing up spray until Barry stops at a likely spot and has us off helping him dig for shellfish. I thought it was just for tourists, but Barry is deadly serious. He half fills a bucket with clams, then tops up with water and puts a lid on – they’re for eating, not for show!

We continue blasting along the dead straight beach (apart from one kink at The Bluff) and make very fast time south compared with the journey up on twisty gravel roads. We’re shifting so fast we start overtaking other, older coaches on the beach. I can see the speedo from where I’m sitting, but don’t let on to Wendy we’re going at UK motorway speeds on a beach. I guess it must be safe – didn’t they used to do land speed records on hard packed sand? Before we know it we’re back at the old wood shop for tea and a bun. From there it’s a straight 90 minute run back home to the hotel.


Up to sunny Northland

Up to sunny Northland
Paihia, New Zealand

Paihia, New Zealand


Bye-bye to Auckland today as we head up into Northland. The Princess liner had slipped away in the night too after no more than 12 hours docked in the capital. It’s almost as if they prefer being at sea to on land. One of the ferry crew told us that they have over 70 liners call a year, so must be a regular sight to them.The city centre light show was turned off at 12am and apparently all hell broke loose with kids and cops mixing it. Not sure if this is a normal Friday night down in the harbour front or not.

We were on the road for 9.30am and successfully navigated out of a sign-free city centre onto the harbour bridge road – Highway 1 North. It starts out as a 8-lane motorway, but gradually as the Auckland suburbs fall behind the lanes peel off one by one and were down to two-lane blacktop. Sadly the beautiful weather falls behind too and we go into a band of grey clouds and the odd spot of rain. This road is absolutely crying out for a Porsche – it twists and turns and climbs and drops through forest and farmland like the greatest driving road of all time. Sadly all I have is a red Ford Focus and a speed limit of 100kph. I do my best. Wendy hangs on through the bends. One very civilised touch is the addition of passing lanes every few km, so there is no need to sit behind slow traffic for long. Even so, a couple of ‘utes’ pull right over into the shoulder to allow us by on long stretches. I am glad to find that the capital’s aversion to road signs is not shared up here – signs in plenty, including lovely brown tourist signs. We take the northern toll road in the interests of speed. There’s no toll booths, so right after posting this I’ll have to log on to their web site and pay the toll of $2 each way. We make good time; Whangarei for coffee and our hotel in Paihia before 1pm. The sunny weather also returns by Whangarei, so much so that the heat is a shock leaving the car – 26 degrees according to the car thermometer.

The hotel is lovely, considering I picked it semi-blind off the internet. It doesn’t have a sea view, being slightly above and behind the town, but it makes up for it in comfort. The widely-spaced chalet-style blocks have rooms that are enormous – easily double the size of the one in Hong Kong and that’s without including the private garden patio with table and chairs.

We don’t stay there long though, but drive down into the village to confirm our trip to Cape Reinga tomorrow. I had tried to book this online, but the web site had spat out all my credit cards. No such problem in town and the booking clerk (who’s originally from Salford) drily informs us the coach will be waiting for us outside the lobby at 7.15am and that the sand surfing ‘”is compulsory”. “We’ll see” says Wendy. The booking office is right on the harbour jetty, a ferry to Russell is leaving in 3 mins so we get on. Hey, why not? A huge bank of black cloud chases the boat across the bay and we’ve been so fast we’ve left our coats in the hotel. Ooops! It’s still sunny in Russell for an hour or so, so we explore the old town. Russell incidentally is one of the earliest settlements in NZ and many of the houses are a couple hundred years old. They are wooden in the ‘colonial’ style and very picturesque.

Eventually the black clouds catch us and then the rain hammers down. Luckily we take refuge in Sally’s cafe overlooking the bay and partake of tea and cake for the hour or so it takes to stop and the sun to come back out. When it does we grab the ferry back to Paihia quickly. However, not before nearly taking a little 3-legged dog with us. He was very keen to join the boat, but as he had no fare the skipper was having none of it and left him looking forlorn on the jetty.

From there we made a mad dash just down the road to Waitangi, to see the treaty grounds where the original treaty between the Maori and the settlers was signed – widely regarded as the birth of NZ as a single country. However, we got there just after 4pm and it closes at 5. The lady on the desk said it wasn’t worth paying $20 for such a short time as you should allow at least an hour and a half. We took her word for it. But it does raise the whole issue of closing times in NZ – it’s amazing how early they close things here. Shops in the capital that open at 10am will shut at 4.30pm. Talk about culture shock coming from Hong Kong where everything is still very much open for business at 9pm at night! But to bring the point home, the people who look after Waitangi are currently running an appeal to raise funds to carry out urgent repairs on the treaty house. In the 15 mins or so we were there the desk lady turned away at least 12 people we could count – that’s 12 people at $20 each! Surely the answer to some of their financial problems lie right in their own hands?

Anyway, that’s it for today. Tomorrow we have an early start and apparently a very full day. Can’t wait!


A lovely day in Auckland

A lovely day in Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand


Well Friday dawned bright, sunny and clear, hurrah! A bit of a shock to draw the curtains and find someone has parked a new skyscraper over the road during the night. More accurately the ocean liner “Princess of the Seas” has berthed at the pier. Jeeze, that is one big ship – when I say skyscraper I mean it. Obviously it’s disgorged loads of tourists, hopping on our buses and filling our shops, but at least I’m not the only guy with a camera now. A lot of people off the boat seem to be Americans with Hawaii bags and San Francisco sweatshirts – anyone want to google it and see where the Princess has come from for me?

But anyway, keeping with a nautical theme and running with the good weather, we decided to have a crack with the harbour cruise. This turned out to be good value at $25 each for well over 90 mins round Waitemata harbour. The boat first went back out the way we had drove the day before; past Kelly Tarlton’s, past Mission Bay and St Helier and then turned back to do the harbour from the other side. We had a race with an America’s Cup yacht, (we won, yah boo), then went under the Auckland harbour bridge. The bungee people demonstrated a bungee jump for us from the underside – Kiwis seem to have a bit of an obsession with it, eh? From the bridge we went for a chug round Westhaven Marina, which is absolutely packed with yachts – hundreds upon hundreds. Seems every Aucklander has a leisure boat in there. from there is was an even more sedate chug round the very exclusive Viaduct Harbour. This is where the really big yachts are – the 60 foot upwards blue water boats capable of crossing an ocean – all overlooked by some very exclusive apartments. According to our skipper one of the mega-yachts we passed was leaving for a pleasure cruise to Alaska right then. Bear in mind it has to cross the Pacific Ocean to get there, that’s some journey. The boat was called “Ulysess” and registered at Georgetown M.I.. Anyone want to google that and find out which billionaire owns it?

After lunch we drove out to something called the Auckland Domain, which is like a big park, botanic garden, war memorial and city museum complex. Apparently it’s built high on the caldera of a volcano, either dormant or extinct, I forget which, but I was hoping the latter! We had a wander round the Winter Gardens, which has the usual cool and hot glasshouses, plus a fernery (ferns being big in NZ). Quite interesting but Wendy complained that a) they hadn’t labeled the plants enough and b) there weren’t that many varieties. You know how she is with varieties, sigh… is there anywhere in the world with more varieties that the garden at No19? But I must agree with her on NZ labelling and signposting in general – it’s incredibly haphazard and sporadic. I recall speaking to a couple of Aussies touring the UK and I asked how they were getting on finding things. They said how easy it was as everything was so well signposted. I never thought I’d miss our brown tourist signs!

After a bimble round the park roads, we then had a quick look in the museum, which was of course dedicated to NZ stuff in general and Auckland stuff in particular. Quite interesting and I got to see a some Kiwis and Kakapos (alas stuffed). With rush hour starting we got in the wrong lane coming back and ended up heading out instead of in. A couple of quick right turns and we were on a familiar road in minutes. It’s actually very easy to navigate round this place once you have your bearings – a good job because there’s no bloody signs!

This evening the city fathers have decide to have a light show in the harbour – I am not sure quite why, but as it’s right outside the door we trotted along. Hell of a lot of people there and it was quite good really. Got a nice view of the light show on the old harbour ferry building.


First full day in NZ

First full day in NZ
Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand


Well today dawned bright and… pouring with rain. Apparently this is very atypical weather for this time of year and all the Kiwi’s are moaning about it. You can tell they are unprepared just by the number of people getting wet on the streets. As for us – we’ve been on holiday to Wales, so this doesn’t faze us.

First up was a visit to Kelly Talton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World, which is not something you can say easily after a couple of Steinlagers. But only an Antipodean could be called Kelly Tarlton, eh? I can’t imagine someone from, say, Tunbridge Wells, with that name, could you? But I must stop mocking because the whole thing was actually quite good. It was a 15 mins in the car along Tamaki Drive, which is where a lot of rich people live. You can see why with amazing views towards the city. Anyway, back to Kelly Tarlton’s. You enter through a reconstruction of Ernest Shackleton’s hut and followed by an Antarctic museum, and from there then board a ‘snowcat’ which travels through a penguin enclosure kept at freezing temperatures and with real snow. Oh and lots of penguins. I mean who doesn’t like penguins? That was the cold bit done, next up was the wet bit. First they have this big tank of stingrays, (plus some fish and and turtles), which a keeper gets in to feed by hand and talk about. Finally, you know those vast aquariums which you travel through underneath in a perspex tunnel? Pretty common these days, eh? Well this one was the first ever and indeed where the concept was invented. Being NZ the whole aquarium was big on local marine life and that includes lots and lots of sharks – Connor, you would have liked it!

For lunch we drove further out to a small town called Mission Bay, which had a very Californian coastal feel, albeit with added Welsh rain. From there we came back downtown to visit the Maritime museum. That turned out to be quite excellent as well! It was of course big on the NZ nautical history, but they had lots and lots of exhibits ranging from Polynesian canoes to modern ships and boats. Lots of Captain Cook stuff (he set off from Whitby, did you know?). Of course there was a lot of Americas Cup stuff as well. Did you know they have won the AC a couple of times? Well you would after visiting here! I know that sounds like sour grapes since that’s exactly 2x more than we Brits have won it in all it’s 160-odd year history, but honestly I am chuffed when someone takes the trophy off the Yanks. Except maybe the Swiss.

Final visit of the day was to the Sky Tower, which to my mind was the only less than excellent thing we’d done so far. I am not a fan of heights and frankly once you’ve been up one tower, the only difference is the boast about the height. It wasn’t cheap either at $25 each! This purports to be the highest tower in the Southern Hemisphere, which at 328m it probably is. It has all he usual checklist; glass elevators and glass floors, (plus a new twist, glass floored elevators.) Oh and and panoramic views. I say panoramic views, but when we got up there it was completed encased in cloud. Luckily that mostly cleared after a few mins, so we spent an hour or so quaking at the view whilst watching the bungy jumpers hurtling past the window every once in a while. Actually they don’t hurtle really – they are on a kind of guide wire system that halts them right outside the window so we can see their naked fear for a few seconds before resuming the plummet. I don’t fancy it myself, in fact it takes me a while before I am braving the lift back down.

And that was the first full day in NZ. It’s nice. I just hope the weather picks a bit soon.

Before I go, I have to say something about the TV here though. It seems to consist entirely of:
1. British programmes (I’m typing this as Corrie is on TVNZ1)
2. American programmes (The Simpsons is on TVNZ3)
3. NZ copies of British/American programmes (pretty sure “7 Days” is a direct lift of “Mock The Week”).
The local stuff is slightly twee, as if everything were made by BBC Regional TV stations. The news hour was funny, being 15 mins of local small-scale politics and people stories, followed by 15 mins of British news (George Clooney at Leicester Square, the empty plinth at Trafalgar Square and the British economy for God’s sake!) finally followed by 30 mins of sport, which mostly means lots of rugby, however I see England won their World Cup match. I know this sounds very patronising, but it’s not meant to be. I just heard that Kiwis in the UK play a game where they score points every time their country is mentioned in the UK. Apparently it’s a very slow game. It’s a bit of a shame it’s not true the other way round.


Kia Ora from New Zealand

Kia Ora from New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand


Well we made it safely to New Zealand the proof that we really are in the ‘City of Sails’ is right outside our hotel window where large racing yachts are chasing each other round Auckland harbour in training for their next America’s Cup challenge. The only downside is that we don’t seem to have brought the sun with us ‘cos it’s raining again. At least the temps are much more normal to us Brits.

But before that Tuesday had ended with another Air NZ evil red-eye flight through the night, most of which seemed to be spent flying over Australia. Wendy managed to sleep through at least half of it, which makes me very jealous indeed. I’m a bit disappointed ‘cos we crossed the equator (a first for me) whilst all the lights were out and the aircraft ‘asleep’ and the only way I knew was by following the aircraft’s track on the TV monitor. I Eventually we landed at Auckland and first impressions were how small it was compared to not just Hong Kong, but even puny Manchester. Bearing in mind that there aren’t many ways of reaching NZ apart from flying, I was a bit surprised to find the largest international airport in the country looks to be about the size of Luton Airport. The immigration guy gave us a further clue as how far we’d come by being cheerful, chatty and friendly – doesn’t he know he’s supposed to scowl and be forbidding? I thought it was in the job description?! I made us go through the red channel at customs because Wendy picked up a couple of carved African nuts on some HK market or other (a long story) and NZ has a REALLY strict control of biological substances regime. As it happened the customs guy wasn’t even slightly mithered by our tale, but it’s the only place where I have seen all the passenger’s luggage X-rayed after leaving the aircraft. IMHO, it was better to be safe than sorry tho, since they have a habit of fining and deporting people they catch breaking these rules.

The rental car people picked us up from the arrivals hall and took us round to their lot to fill out some paperwork. A quick 5 mins orientation with a map and a highlighter pen and we were on our own in a shiny red Ford Focus heading 20km into an unfamiliar city – eek! As it happened it was pretty easy. The hotel directions saw us slip up only once when a road sign was covered by overhanging branches. A quick U-turn put us right though. The hotel is right n the harbour – only the Hilton is closer to the water by virtue of being built on a pier – and the views are pretty ace. This hotel is almost exactly 1/2 the price of the HK one. OK we lose the chrome and glass, but we gain a much better view and a much bigger room. I am happy with the trade.

Since we’ve checked in we haven’t done much. A walk round the some of the harbour and downtown shops and that’s enough for me today. I need to claw back some of that sleep cruelly robbed by flying. Tomorrow, however, is going to be a busy day…


At the airport

At the airport
Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China


A quick update from HK airport. This airport is so bloody big we had to catch a train to our gate! Anyway, I can forgive that ‘cos I have wireless access for free.

Been a bit calmer today, or a least this morning. Had a walk round near the hotel, checking out the jade market and the odd temple (more smoke). Had to forcibly drag Wendy away from the jade market – too many tempting things at tempting prices – about 1/10th of the jewellery workshop yesterday. Hotel check out was 12pm, so decided to go to the airport straight away regardless even though the flight isn’t until 5pm. There’s only a limited number of things you can do with a couple of hours and enough baggage in tow to fill a lorry. Plan A was to taxi to the Kowloon MTR station and then catch the Airport Express, but the taxi drive was not having any of that. After a brief discussion of his ‘special rate’ he did the trip for about 40p less that the train (inc. tip) I mean we’re quibbling over 40p here I thought – it’s not worth unloading the bags, buying a ticket and then wheeling them on to the station. Also we got to pass over the top deck of the Lantau Island bridge (train goes through a box underneath). Pretty spectacular views. The downside was we got to the airport at least 30 mins earlier, and given the Kiwi laid-back attitude about everything not rugby, it was another hour before they opened the check-in.

Anyway, we are here and I am sat looking at the plane. Hopefully they’ll let us board in the next 20 mins or so. More ‘Skippy’ cornflakes for breakfast tomorrow I guess (I thought Skippy was Australian, but they y’go). Catch you later.


Wow, that was a busy day

Wow, that was a busy day
Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China


Bit of a long day today – at least yesterday’s rain had stopped and we even saw a bit of sun. We did this tour of HK Island with Gray Lines as a quick way of seeing as much as possible in the little time we have here. It was a good choice since they packed a lot in and then kept us for 8 hours. Pick up at the hotel was prompt at 10am, but due to the crazy traffic it was another 45 mins before we collected the last of our small group (at the Luk Kwok in Wan Chai – yay, where I stayed last time – glad to see it’s still going strong). First visit was to the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road. I don’t recall going there before. Pretty interesting in an Old Chinese Temple sort of way. They were in the middle of redecoration (maybe the first time in a few hundred years?) so the whole place was full of scaffolding (bamboo) and ‘wet paint’ signs (accurate). And smoke from the blasted incense of course.

Anyway, 20 mins of smoky gloom and we were were off again to the peak tram. Tickets were included so we just had to get on and ride it to the top. View is petty spectacular at any time – must be one of the ‘must see’ sights in the world, I reckon. The guide insisted he take our picture with the skyscrapers in the background – we knew there was a scheme coming, but more anon. From the peak it was back on the bus for a very twisty ride down to Aberdeen harbour, where we were invited to take an ‘optional’ sampan ride. Since the end of the ride was lunch at the Jumbo floating restaurant, which is in the middle of the harbour, I was a at a bit of a loss how anyone would get there if they decided to forego the sampan(*). Luckily we didn’t. A quick chug round the harbour, which was much cleaner and tidier than I recall from last time (sadly), and we were dropped at Jumbo.

(*) Yes, I know, there’s a free water taxi.

Now that hasn’t changed a bit. Same opulent surroundings, sam dim sum (I hope not literally!), and same absolutley foul jasmine tea. I learned my lesson about that last time – one sip and my hand goes up; “One Coke, one Sprite please” – sorted. Actually it was quite nice and Wendy had the veggie option so she didn’t have to deal with any of the crustaceans. Talking about how small a world it is sometimes, the woman on our trip sat next to Wendy at the table turned out to have been born in Macclesfield and her husband was from near Matlock. I mean there’s all the world to choose from and they’re basically from down the road. But it was at this point the guide sprung his suprise on us – a picture of us on the top of the peak printed on paper AND on a plate. Normally I am very Yorkshire about this sort of thing but this was opportunisum of such brilliance and tat of such excellence that I had to have it. I don’t think the plate is dishwasher proof though.

From here we went to what I think was the only mistake of the trip – a jewellery factory. I’ve since found that all the trips do this, but all it is really is a thinly disguised attempt to sell you some what seemed to me to be quite pricey jewellery. There was just about every precious and semi-precious stone on offer in different setting, but with prices going from the hundeds to the thousands… sorry, no thanks. Fed up of being ‘Can I help you’d?’ evey time we accidentally strayed near a jewellery case, we left early and went and sat back on the coach. Nearly everyone else joined us pretty much at the same time, so I reckon the feeling was shared. Still, I got a couple of nice pictures of chaps working on the stones.

Finally we motored on to Stanley Market on the far side of the island. More tee shirts, more pashminas, more soapstone carved with your name in Chinese – in fact more of everything of that nature. Nice to walk round but virtually every stall had the words “No Photo” stuck up somewhere. Well, excuse me, but if you want to sell to tourists… I took a couple surreptiously (and got a finger-wagging for my pains from some old bat). From there is was a bit of a long blat back hrough the harbour tunnel to the hotel. Home for 6pm on the dot.

But we’re not stopping there. After a cuppa it was back out into a taxi and down to the harbour for the light show. That’s a pretty nifty thing they are doing, I have to say, though the harbourfront is teeming with folk at the time. Basically all the buildings on both sides of the harbour (though it’s hard to see them on your side) fire off lasers and stuff in time to some music. Sounds tacky like Blackpool, but Hong Kong is big with about a hundred illuminated ‘Blackpool Towers’ to fire them off. Starting to get a bit jiggered by this time, so taxi back to the hotel and day 2 done!


Here at last!

Here at last!
Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China


Arriving in HK it’s immediately obvious that they are taking this swine flu thingy very seriously. There’s masked and gloved guy’s waiting to zap suspicious-looking passengers with ‘radar-gun’ style gizmos and measure their temperature. Even before going through passport control, you have to go through swine-flu control and hand over a form with your contact details and swearing you haven’t got the dreaded lurgy. Passport control was super efficient (wonder if Americans ever visit?) and the cases were already on the carousel when we got through. I like this Premium Economy business! Bought a couple of tickets at the Airport Express desk on special for $140 – what’s that, summat like 12 quid? That’s another thing that was super-duper efficient as you literally step straight off the airport arrivals lounge floor on to the train carriage. 20 mins of air-conditioned high-speed train tavel and you’re in Kowloon. Why can’t Heathrow have this??

Taxi to the hotel (Novotel Nathan Road) was about 10 mins of weaving through traffic . Hotel is pretty upmarket with a plasma telly and walk-in shower and lots of glass and chrome. The room’s not particularly big, but not planning on spending much time here! Straight back out into the evening drizzle to take a walk throughout the night market on Temple Street. First time I took the camera out, the lens steamed up straight away! Still I thought it made a nice abstract view of the junction of Nathan and Jordan Roads.

Anyway, after fighting our way through Temple Market (5 tee shirts for $100 – that still sounds a lot ’till you divide by 12) we carried on down Nathan Road for a while until we felt we’d gone far enough. Back to te hotel and that the first afternoon in HK done and dusted.


Not another aeroplane

Not another aeroplane
London, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom


Terminal 1 at Heathrow now looks pokey compared to other Terminals –
even Manchester had a more airy feel, However it was only just over an
hour before they boarded us on a very full A330. The amount of legroom
in Premium Economy is brilliant The amount of **** room, not much
different from monkey class, sad to say. Still, the food was ace but
there was no vegetarian option for the ‘supper’ – probably had to ask
when booking or something? Gave up on the breakfast before the cooked
food came round there was that much it! In total the flight was 11
hours 20 mins, most of it with the lights off, which makes for an easy
trip for the cabin crew, I reckon. I sat next to a Kiwi lady returning
home from a visit to the UK and she was going straight through to
Auckland. However, they still kick everyone off the aircraft at HK to
clean it. Those carrying on to NZ have or wait in the transit lounge
for two hours and then re-embark for another 10.5 hours flight. No
thanks matey. Last time I was here I flew into Kai Tek with it’s
brilliant switchback ride landing over the harbour and Kowloon (not for
the faint-hearted); in contrast the new airport on Lantau Island is
both way out in the sticks and bloody enormous. I reckon the trip from
the gate to immigration was a single corridor good mile long. All of
which gave you plenty of time to admire the view of a very wet day
outside. I thought HK in Oct was supposed to be sunny and clear. Ah
well, it was 28 degrees in the rain.


The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins
Manchester, United Kingdom

Manchester, United Kingdom


BMI decided to delay our shuttle flight by 30 mins and combined it with another flight. Even so there were still about 40 of us on an Airbus built for 100 more. I’ve been on fuller coach trips. There’s no way that flight could have made a profit. The lovely thing was though we checked the cases in at Manchester and then said goodbye to them until Hong Kong. We even got boarding cards for the Air NZ flight at the same time. This sort of organisation I really like.