Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Way Back!

After buying chocolates, we headed to the Travelers' Lounge to grab a bite. Thankfully, again over here our HDFC Bank credit cards gave a complimentary access. The lounge was teeming with passengers, unlike a few days back when the lounge was empty. An area of the lounge was cordoned off for El Al passengers who were to depart for Tel Aviv an hour or so before our flight was to depart for Mumbai. The legendary El Al security was on show and I suspect they El Al passengers were being served Kosher food in the lounge.
As for me, today, traditional fish ball soup was Kosher for me! By now, after a week in China, I had mastered the art of slurping up noodles with chopsticks! Certainly, it is true when they say that you are defined by where you travel and what you experience! You are only limited by how open you are to new and varied experiences.....

After filling our tummies, we had cups of Chinese green tea with lime. Then Neeti went off to sleep, indeed we were sleep deprived, but there was no chance for me to doze off.... I moved around the terminal plane spotting....
The lounge also had complimentary internet access and after quite a few days, I had unhindered access to Facebook and Twitter.... That was therapeutic! Clearly we had crossed the Great Fire Wall!!!!!

After two hours in the lounge, it was time to board our flight back to Mumbai. As we boarded lovely compositions by Kevin Kendle - Red Admiral and Cosmic Traveller by Gandalf were playing....  I fell in love with both these compositions and surely these compositions will ring in my mind for a long long time....

Even after boarding, I still got wonderful opportunities at plane spotting. There was a KLM Boeing 747-400 right behind us as we were pushed back! KLM always looks resplendent in blue in the afternoon sun....

We took off from Runway 25L-07R, which is 3800 meters long. 
Delhi's Runway 29-11 is longer than this, at 4430 meters, which is incidentally the longest in Asia....

As we settled in for 5+ hour flight, we switched on the IFE system. Oth Neeti and I watched the Barbara Streisand starer The Guilt Trip, which we enjoyed.

And then at around 9.15PM we landed. As we deplaned Neeti and I thanked the stewardess, who had served us, with a xie xie.... and she gave us a big smile...
After a smooth immigration and customs clearance, now we are headed back home.... A wonderful trip to the Middle Kingdom had come to an end. Clearly we got more than what we expected to get in terms of experiences, beautiful sights and wonderful people.... But now its back to heat and grime of Mumbai..., a city we call home!

Plane Spotting at HKG ... Part 2

Plane spotting Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport is almost like a magical experience, an experience that is bound to thrill. Our transit time of 4+ hours was well utilised, while Neeti indulged in retail therapy, limited to window shopping, with the sole exception of chocolates that we bought for our colleagues, I was glued to my camera. 
Neeti was pretty upset that I outsourced the chocolate buying task at Aji Ichibaan to her. Who cares when there are these sexy beauties around! Ohhh, I am not talking of the 36-24-36 beauties. I am talking of the 747s, the 777s, the A330s, the A340s, the A380s, etc.! 

The boarding is on for the Malaysian A380!

The Cathay A330 seems to be smiling at me!

EVA Air from Taiwan and ANA from Japan in the background....
Sad, we don't see the green bird from Taiwan anymore in India...

The Vietnam Airlines A320 gets ready to depart, while the South African A340 rests before her long haul departure for JNB

All set to depart to Hanoi!

One World!

Massive activity at Chek Lap Kok! Who would have imagined that a sleepy fishing village will get transformed like this!

Cathay and Dragonair are big here at HKG!

An El Al Boeing 777 taxiing towards the runway, on her departure to Tel Aviv, while an Air Nuigini rests before her departure to Port Moresby! Seeing the exotic Air Nuigini bird here was indeed thrilling!

Lufthansa Boeing 747 boarding for Frankfurt!

KLM's Boeing 747, a bird we don't see in BOM any more!

Dragonair's A330!

Goodbye HKG!

Plane Spotting at HKG ... Part 1

My plane spotting at Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong, started the moment we landed. Nothing excites me more than planes, a huge number of colourful liveries from all over the world!

The bright red-yellow tail of this HongKong Airlines Airbus A330 freighter looked awesome on a dull day!

Two Jet Airways Airbus A330s - they would have come in earlier today from my twin hometowns - Delhi and Mumbai!

Behind our pretty birds from home are Air New Zealand's Boeing 777 and Cathay Pacific's Boeing Boeing 747-400

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 readies for departure!

Cathay Pacific's gentle beast - the Boeing 747-400. The jumbo always looks so sexy!

Air Canada's classic red-maple leaf tail on her Boeing 777

EVA Air's Boeing 777 taxiing on her departure to Taiwan!

Oh my f...king goodness, the Thai Airbus A380 is massive!

Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A380 pushed back and ready to head to Kuala Lumpur!

That's a Philippine Airlines Airbus A340 - I love her rising sun tail! 

The Thai fat sausage pushed back and ready to head to Bangkok Suwarnabhumi!

Into Chek Lap Kok (赤鱲角), Onboard CX365

After saying Zaijian Zhongguo (再見中国) - Goodbye China, we boarded our flight, CX 365, on Cathay Pacific's Airbus A330, headed from Pudong Airport in Shanghai to Hong Kong.
Take off was delayed massively. We were on board, at our parking bay for nearly 40 minutes before we pushed back. I am told that Shanghai is notorious for flight delays. We were at the receiving end the second time, the first being when we flew into Pudong from Zhangjiajie with a delay of over an hour.
The delay did not perturb me at all, as I was happily plane spotting and clicking away to glory!
Finally, when we did take off, 15 minutes into the flight, the meal service began. Neeti had pre-ordered a Hindu Vegetarian Meal (HVML), which was kind of interesting...

Her meal tray had a fruit bowl - dragon fruit, papaya and watermelon, a wholewheat kulcha and orange juice....

There was cauliflower tikki and a cauliflower samosa!
Ha ha! The flight kitchen would have got a bulk discount on cauliflowers, it seems!
Nonetheless, Neeti was quite satisfied with her meal. 
I stuck to eggs and sausage, not something "exotic" like a vegetarian cauliflower buffet!

The view outside, of the South China Sea, was amazing!

We got into a major turbulence halfway into the flight. There was a buildup of a massive pressure over the South China Sea, which brought with it stormy weather...
The flight became bumpy and at a point we headed straight into an airpocket and went into a freefall for a few seconds.
There was a Taiwanese family group behind us with as many as 8-9 cute little kids. These little kids enjoyed the turbulence. They shrieked at each toss and turn we encountered in the storm as though they were on a joyride in an amusement park...

Finally the descent into Hong Kong began and we started to see ships and ferries in the sea below us...

Final approach!

Passing over the hills on our final approach!

Touchdown at Chek Lap Kok island, better known as Hong Kong International Airport!

Taxiing to our gate!
I am keenly looking forward to next few hours here!

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