Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ni Hao Zhongguo - 你好 中國! -- Part I

While the flight into Hong Kong was pretty smooth, I could not rest a bit.
Take off from Mumbai was delayed by about half an hour, due to a delay in arrival of the incoming aircraft. Boarding was haphazard, surely Cathay Pacific has a lot to learn from Indian carriers on this front.
After pushback, we had to hold short of Runway 27-09 was again quite delayed due to a number of departures ahead of us.

The inlight entertainment was switched on after pushback. Neeti watched This is 40, while I put on a Hong Kong Cantonese romcom, My Sassy Husband, which was quite enjoyable.

The meal service was quite delayed. We were just about crossing Nagpur when trolleys were rolled out of the galleys. I chose pak choy, spicy chicken gravy and noodles with stir fried vegetables. Neeti chose the Indian vegetarian meal - paneer makhani, rice and daal.
The meal itself was quite delicious. We finished every bit of it. The dessert was a disappointment - a brownie with custard. The stewardesses were super efficient and courteous. I asked for water by the gallons and was promptly attended. Little wonder Skytrax has rated Cathay so highly.
After the meal trays were cleared, I desperately tried to "log off" and catch a few hours of sleep. Despite the best effort to sleep, I realised my effort was in vain. By then we were overflying Mandalay. I switched on the audio system - my favourite singers and their songs were available - Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Bob Marley, Eagles and quite a few others.

Soon the sun rose and in preparation to land, drinks - juices and water were served.

The captain, presumably a British, as I could judge from his accent announced that there had been thunderstorms over Hong Kong the night before and that the sky was overcast. Clearly we are in the typhoon season.
We descended through thick clouds and miraculously the skies seemed to cleared up a bit. The emerald isles started emerged as we descended and looked magnificent. The landing was really smooth, that we hardly felt a thing. 

After deplaning, we headed towards the transfer gate and were then directed to Gate 36. Just before the security check there was a Air-India Boeing 777 parked at the gate - the 777 looked resplendent in Air-India colours. Undoubtedly, they have one of the most magnificent liveries around. I spent a few moments clicking photos of aircrafts arounds - that is quite a pleasure in the neat and spacious airport, which offers stunning views of the airside.

We caught up with breakfast at The Traveler's Lounge. That's where I had my first Congee - a popular Chinese breakfast preparation. The Congee was rather bland, so I put in a few drops of soya sauce, sesame seeds and green onions and that made it rather nice. We also had a small serving of vegetable vermicelli and rice flour rolls. All that was topped up with a giant cup of Chinese green tea with lime.
I picked up three newspapers to read - the Financial Times, South China Morning Post and the Wall Street Journal, obviously I couldn't complete them so I have to carry them to the next flight to Beijing.
Now this leg of the journey that I is the one I am most interested in as this is to be in Cathay Pacific's Boeing 747-400, an aircraft which I have always loved, but is at the fag end of its lifecycle. Flying into Beijing on this massive beauty is such an interesting way of saying Hello China or Ni Hao Zhongguo - 你好 中國!
More of that in Part II of this travelog!

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