A Short Trip to Hong Kong and Taiwan
April 9, 2018
Originally, this was planned as a family trip with longer stay in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. ChC and ET decided to cancel when a trans-pacific cruise was in the horizon after flights were booked. They would rather pay the penalties than being away from home for too long. The two of us decided to go ahead on this short two-week trip to accomplish some personal and business responsibilities.
A few days before the trip, our travel agent notified us that EVA Air canceled the flight that would take us from Taiwan to Hong Kong after our mid-day flight out from LAX to Taipei. If we keep the same flight out of LA, we would have a longer transit in Taipei waiting for the next available flight to Hong Kong which will make our arrival way too late into the night. To make better use of our time, we decided to take the midnight flight 12-hour earlier instead, with an early arrival in Hong Kong and almost like an extra day there.
Seats were not assigned when they re-booked our flights so we had to check-in early in order to get decent seats. Fortunately, they still had two seats together but all the way at the back of the plane.
Oh well, at least we will be sitting together. Security check was quick this time with not that many travelers and soon we were at the gate waiting for our flight.
Boarding was orderly by assigned zone numbers and flight was on time. Everything is going well so far.
Waiting for our BR 015 flight at Tom Bradley terminal.
We were surprised at how comfortable the seats were on this Boeing 777-300 ER plane. Plenty of leg space with nothing obstructing the limited movements one would need when flying close to 15 hours straight. The flight attendants really worked hard, quite different from the ones on Cathay or China Airlines. I was impressed! This was only our third time traveling EVA and the first time in economy. Our first experience with them was many years ago when they had a sale in premium economy. The last time we were with them was a couple of years ago but that was in business class using mileage redemption.
After about an hour and a half into the flight, printed menu was given out and meal served. Many airlines already did away with printed menu in economy. It is nice to actually see what they were serving.
Meal set including fresh fruit, salad, dessert and the main course for me was chicken with mash potatoes.
Very tasty for an in-flight meal.
After the meal I was able to sleep for about five hours, which was unusual. I suppose I was really tired. Woke up and watched a couple of shows on the IFE and played some Sudoku before another meal was served about two hours before landing.
A serving of Chinese porridge with salad and fresh fruits. Not my type of breakfast but it was OK.
We landed at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei on time. Quickly found the transit area where there was a long line of people waiting for security check. After about half an hour we completed the security check process and headed over to the assigned gate for our flight to Hong Kong. This time we had to take the shuttle bus to the plane parked at the remote area. While waiting at the gate, we took the opportunity to freshen up a little. I am sure we looked horrible after the long overnight flight.
Waiting for the shuttle bus at the gate downstairs.
On the plane. This time we were seated near the middle of the plane, the last row in the main cabin.
"Welcome On Board"
They served a decent refreshment even on this short flight. Smoked turkey salad, cake, and a pack of snack. Much better than the hot pockets served on Cathay.
Arrived at Chek Lap Kok Aiport in Hong Kong.
It was quick and easy for me to go through immigration using my HK ID card. Just a quick swipe and fingerprint, I was out in a couple of minutes. MOR, on the other hand, had to wait in that long line. We had planned on him to apply for the eChannel once he went through the actual immigration process, using his Cathay frequent flyer membership card. Unfortunately, that office which is located right behind the immigration booths even though it was opened but no one was stationed inside that morning. They have made it so much easier for travelers to access eChannel by allowing people with frequent flyer status apply for the privilege. Only if they are available when needed.
Our bags were already waiting for us at the carousel since it took him that long to come out. We then stopped at the Airport Express counter to purchase our train tickets and the octopus card before getting out to the arrival hall. MOR turned 65 last year and he is now qualified for the elderly concessions on almost all public transportation in Hong Kong. A senior octopus card proofed to be very handy and economical. For the Airport Express though, instead of getting a senior rate and a regular fare, the clerk suggested getting the group rate for two which would be cheaper and that was what we paid for our one way trip to Kowloon Station that morning. I must say that the staff there was very helpful and courteous.
I just loved the Airport Express in Hong Kong. It's such a quick and easy way to get from the airport into the city. It's a little more expensive than the airport buses but quite worth it if your destination is served by one of their complimentary shuttles. Following the well-marked signs, we took a short walk from the arrival hall to the train platform and boarded the train.
Inside the Airport Express.
Platform at the airport.
After we arrived Kowloon Station, we boarded the K3 shuttle which took us to our hotel, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong TST, which is the second stop on this route. One problem with the shuttles is that getting the luggage on and off the bus is not an easy task, and don't expect any help from the driver either.
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui
This is our third time here at this hotel. The location of this hotel made this my favorite choice when we are in Hong Kong. It is right above the K 11 mall and the Tsim Sha Tsui subway station with Nathan Road just a block away. There are many restaurants and shops in the vicinity just a short walk away. Being a platinum member of the Hyatt chain does not get us into the lounge when using our annual free nights, but who needs lounge access when there are so much to do in town anyway?
We were definitely too early when we checked into the hotel. Fortunately, they were able to upgrade us to a harbor-view room on the 19th floor which was ready if we didn't mind being on a smoking floor. We were taken up to the room to see if the smoke condition is acceptable and found that it was fine. They also put in an air-purifier during our three-day stay there. All was well!
What a view from our window!
Room was quite spacious and comfortably appointed.
Playing with the "Handy" cell phone that the hotel provides.
After settling in and luggage brought up by the concierge we headed out for lunch. One of the local dishes that we crave for is roast goose, which we are not able to find in California. I have read about this one-Michelin star restaurant in Wanchai that specialized in roast goose and that was where we headed. It was easy taking the subway to cross the harbor. After we got off, just a couple of blocks away from the Wanchai station.
We arrived before noon and there was a line formed outside the restaurant already. After getting our number, we joined the others outside waiting for our turn to get in. We were in line for about half an hour before being called inside to share a small table with two other customers. It's definitely a cramped space but nobody seemed to mind.
Waiting in line for lunch.
This place is called Kam's Roast Goose (226 Hennessy Road, Wanchai) an offspring of the famous Yung Kee's Restaurant.
They had the set meal during lunch which included a plate of roast goose with rice, soup or a drink and a choice of appetizer for HKD $72, less than USD $10 each. That's exactly what we ordered. A cheap Michelin meal indeed.
Oops! Forgot to take pictures of our appetizers.
House soup for the day.
It was a wonderful, delicious lunch after a long day traveling with airplane food. I was going to do some exploring but we were kind of tired. Seeing that the Immigration Department was nearby, we walked over there to inquire about the eChannel application and it was done in less than 10 minutes. Quite efficient, I'd say. From now on, MOR can use the eChannel machines instead of getting into that long line.
Then, we took the subway back to Kowloon and had a restful afternoon inside our hotel room. It was definitely nice to have arrived half a day early to give us the extra time here in the city.
Bought some egg-tarts as afternoon tea from the famous Honolulu Coffee Shop (176-178 Hennessy Road, Wanchai). I can have these everyday if I don't have the health problems.
I don't think we did much that afternoon. After the much needed rest, we got out in the evening to look for dinner. There is a tiny Chiu Chow noodle place around the corner called Kai Kee Noodle (15-19 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui) which we have tried a couple of times before and that was where we ended up for a simple dinner that evening.
MOR had the won ton noodle...
and I had the fish cake and fish ball rice noodle.
Fried squid balls, delicious!
"Chicken Roll", meh!
Not a very good picture of the Victoria Harbor at night.