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Planning a brief pre-Xmas sojurn to Hong Kong and China pre Xmas, with the aim of getting back to Sydney on Christmas Day for family events. Routing is pretty crazy ...
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  1. #1
    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

    Planning a brief pre-Xmas sojurn to Hong Kong and China pre Xmas, with the aim of getting back to Sydney on Christmas Day for family events.
    Routing is pretty crazy with a quick 24hr SC run ex-TPE.
    Spending time along the way in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Yangshuo (near Guilin) and a bit of time on planes and trains!
    Have APEC so China is fairly easy

    Current flights/train
    16/12 SQ212 SYD-SIN J 777-300 Booked on SQ Biz Saver Award
    16/12 SQ870 SIN-HKG J 777-200 As above. Will try and get them to put me on the earlier SQ2 (77W)
    18/12 MTR Intercity HungHom-Guangzho East
    20/12 HSR Guangzhou South-Wuhan - 900km at 300km/h (recently slowed)
    20/12 CZ6288 WUH-KWL Y 737-800 - paid tix
    22/12 MU5388 KWL-HFE Y 320 - paid tix (Domestic K - not creditable to QF)
    23/12 MU2049 HFE-TPE Y 320 - paid tix (International X - not creditable to QF)
    23/12 CX473 TPE-HKG J 330 (subject to arriving on time will try to switch to cx421/703)
    23/12 CX755 HKG-BKK J 340
    24/12 CX2700 BKK-HKG J 330
    24/12 CX564 HKG-TPE J 777-300
    24/12 CX405 TPE-HKG J 330
    24/12 CX161 HKG-SYD J 330 New layout

    Hotels - will be trying to make the most out of my Hilton Platinum status
    HK - Conrad HK - 2nights
    GZ - Hilton GZ Tianhe - 1 night (very new)
    - Hilton GZ Baiyun - 1 night (Very new)
    YS - Yangshuo Village Retreat - 2 nights
    HFE - Hilton Hefei - 1 night
    BKK - Aloft Bangkok - 1 night (Due to open 1-Dec)

    320 SCs for the ex-TPE flight with 160SC to come for about $2,500.

    Will include trip report here but thinking about using a blog instead of inline.

    Pre-travel questions.
    1. What is the chance SQ will let me on the earlier SQ2 (SIN-HKG) at check-in on the 77W - noting I am on a cheaper Business Saver redemption
    2. Does anyone have experience as to how flexible the ex-TPE Bus Saver (I class) tickets are. Conservatively booked a 6hr layover in TPE but would like to get to BKK before midnight

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  3. #2
    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    Re: To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

    Sitting in the SilverKris Business lounge at SYD. First time there and it is looking pretty tired. About half full before Sq212. Decent view out the main window including of the 777 that will shortly become my chariot, but some fruit salad, some ugly looking sandwiches and a few hot tidbits was it.
    sail0r likes this.

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    Re: To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

    Moa I have in past had mixed success changing flts with J Saver Redemptions from 777-300 and 747 to 77W in SIN - IME achievable with carry-on luggage only - again IME depends totally on agent you deal with at time request made.

    It is possible but I would never 'plan' on it happening - but bonus if you can achieve.

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    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    Re: To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

    Cruiser Elite - tried it twice in the SilverKris lounge but no luck.

    SQ212 SYD SIN 777-200 9K-SYL Seat 18A

    First flight in Biz on SQ and whilst I was impressed I certainly wasn't blown away and there were enough service issues.

    Boarding took a long while at the gate. The outsourced Toll Dnata staff moved slowly, the boarding passes took up to 10 secs each to count and then a few people on board with radios stating pax werent in certain seat numbers. Ended up departing 20 min behind schedule.

    Had preordered book the cook and the toasted bred and veg for breakfast (so so and i would have preferred the regular menu choice) and the awesome seafood thermidor for lunch (yum). Meal service was good with multiple courses served with ease. In hindisght I should have asked for the regular breakfast as well.



    What was wrong? My call button didn't work and staff were noticeably absent from the cabin at times... When i finally walked up the front to request the famous Singapore Sling it took over 20min to appear after they decided to also go round the cabin and take other drink orders. When I switched from white to red I was served in the same glasses. In fact the red went in my water glass and the water topup in the white.

    Krisworld whilst containing a lot of content appeared slowish and sluggish.

    Seat was the new medium hall business sloper - most equivalent to qf skybed 1. Quite comfortable even as leather with heaps of personal storage including a useful laptop slot down the side and mobile phone/wallet under the centre console. In sleep mode felt that I slid down moreso than on qf, but it was primarily a day flight.

    On landing looked like a few rain squals out the left hand window. Over the runway threshold terminal suddenly disappeared in a cloud of white and no more than 20m above the ground the engines fired up and we rose again. Captain came on and said the rain was sitting right above the airport and there was no visibility of the runway. 20min later a far simpler landing -- my first go-around.

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    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    T3 Lounge SilverKris Lounge
    Both flights were T3 but a long walk from high-b gates to the lounge nearer a gates. SilverKris lounge is impressive - probably a better food offering than Cathay Haven and that was just in the Business lounge. Again lounge wasn't that full which was surprising, althought the Krisflyer Gold lounge I had walked passed to get there appeared busier.
    Shower rooms were good with plenty of room to change.



    SQ870 SIN-HKG Boeing 777-200 Seat 12K
    Lost my notes on this so doing from memory. Had a bulkhead row 12 seat which had acres of leg room and service was exceptional on the flight. My book the cook meal (the beef) was awesome and extremely well plated.



    You will see from photos later in this report that SQ J blows CX J out of the water for food on the plating alone. CX feels like a veg, rice, meat or pasta is the only choices, whereas SQ (and indeed QF) plate like a restaurant.


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    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    Re: To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

    Arrived late into Hong Kong, caught the Airport Express to Central and jumped in a cab to my accommodation that was close by.

    Mingle on the Wing, Wing Lok St
    Booked on Wotif because it was cheap.
    Dodgyish area at night, but internet worked and bed was ok (albeit not a plush top).
    Room was shall we say tiny... actually the cat would have hit the wall when you tried to swing and shower was average.
    Given however I arrived at 1am and was checked out by 10am - no harm done.

    Conrad Hong Kong
    My great corporate rates were not available (regular occurence) so paid 4x the first night to stay here and was checked in by 11am on a Exec Floor room facing the Harbour two floors from the top.
    Arranged through the concierge my ticket for the Hung Hom to Guangzhou train the next day for a taxi fare for the bellman to get the ticket.
    I won't comment much on the hotel but it is exceptional and as a Plat I couldn't complain about the treatment.
    Drinks on the Exec Floor were good with lots of tasty moresels available.


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    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    Re: To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

    MTR Intercity Hung Hom to Guangzhou

    Took a taxi to Hung Hom on the Kowloon side. Lucky I had pre-purchased the ticket as next available train was 4hrs away and mine was in 1hr.
    As an 'International' service there is a separate area for pre-boarding where your passport is checked and luggage scanned then into an above platform waiting area.
    The Chinese entry is done on the other side.

    What I didn't know was that there are two types of trains the KTT - operated by the HK MTR and having WiFi the whole way and the Chinese operated semi-high speed train.
    I was on the Chinese version, and while adequate, I was surprised to find the picture below in the toilet compartment!

    MTR Intercity Through Train



    Immigration at Guangzhou East a breeze with the APEC card and into China.
    Was staying one night each at both Guangzhou Hilton's which are both under a year old, both walkable to MTRs (although not really with luggage) and awesome hotels.
    I will refer to the reports I posted on MiP given these are more international hotels that see less attention.
    Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe reviews | milepoint
    Hilton Guangzhou Baiyun reviews | milepoint

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  11. #8
    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    Re: To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

    Guangzhou
    Had been expecting another ho hum Chinese city.

    Actually surprisingly nice and pretty. Metro and underground automated people mover (an 11 station 4km driverless underground track) and good signage to the metro where there are lots of signs that point you in the direcion of the nearest metro. Choosing he right exit can however be a challenge with the descriptive signs not brilliant.
    Have a Yang Cheng Tong card if anyone would like to borrow it for a trip (only about 5 RMB left on it) but funding a place to refund it is not easy.

    Really good riverfront that is mostly used well and a great night ferry cruise where you cruise past all these bridges that have been lit up in coloured changing lights (and the Canton Tower).
    Went up the Canton Tower twice - first day despite all the electronic signs saying A,B,C were available would only sell me C (the lowest viewing deck). After eventually trying five people one managed to tell me construction going on. Was unfortunate as that was the clearest of the two days. Had my hotel call the next day to confirm it was open and went for the Bubble Cars. Would recommend the bubble cars (At about 500m) as they are the only way to get a totally unobstructed view.

    Also toured a few of the other historical sites including the Statue of the Five Goats, Dr Sun Yat-sen monument and hall.



    Whilst plenty of people around generally on both times I went Canton Tower was just DEAD. One or two tour groups, but no lines, no queues, half the booths selling tickets were shut off and at places there were more staff than people. Not sure if this was the weather or prices (a ride to the top and bubble tram is A$40) but surprising.

  12. #9
    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    Re: To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

    High Speed Train G1006 Guangzhou South to Wuhan

    Took the metro to Guangzhou South, up the escalator and in a soaring dome foyer that would have looked like a modern airport. Upstairs to departures like an airport, through security and into a large common waiting area in front of the gates. Chinese citizens board using an ID card as tickets are linked to the ID card, I had to show my ticket and passport. (as mentioned on the Hilton Baiyun report to book the ticket I had to give my actual passport (with some trepidation) to the bellman to take it to the station to book the ticket) Had booked a first class seat which on this train was the 5th carriage of 9 (ie middle) and a comfortable padded seat in 2x2 layout with 20 degree or so recline. Decent snackbox and juice/softdrink shortly after departure and also some options at a small dining car. We cruised out of Guangzhou at around 160kmh, then quickly gained speed and spent most of the journey at 303kmh dropping back to 270-280 ever ocassionally. With a single stop at Changsa, we covered the 900km to Wuhan in around 3hrs.

    One free bottle of water at a booth and a convenience store where I added some additional supplements. Boarding commenced 15min before - machine scan of Chinese id card or manual check for moi. Got in the queue early to get a few snaps of the train - staff freshly washing the outside at the station, then back to the middle for the First class cabin.
    First was a 2x2 layout and 15 deg recline. Coach a 2x3 layout.
    Also some very small Premium First at the front and back in a 1x2 layout but can't see past drivers compartment.

    Provided with a snack pack and choice of water, coke or sprite. Small dining car with limited menu. No alcohol served (or available in station). Was on one of the few single stop (at Changsa sth) services to Wuhan. Cruised out of Shanghai Sth slowly spending some time in 160 zone in residential areas, then rapidly went to 303 km/h - shown at both ends of the carriage - where we pretty much spent the entire journey, with a few momentary drops to about 270 but no lower. Very smooth journey and very quiet. Unfortunately this was a bad weather day so spent most of it in thick cloud and rain which limited the scenery.





    Arrived at Wuhan with about 4hrs to transfer to Wuhan Intl. Had noted with interest that there did not appear to be a direct bus or if so very limited times so was considering a cab. Walking out cab queue was huge so went to the express bus area and bought a ticket to one of the other train stations (in the nw (direction of the airport). For 12yuan ($2) bus leaving in 10min... Very old bus, broken seat next to me but it would do.

    Again reminded why I will never drive in China. Lanes and lights don't mean much and merging is definitely a game of chicken. On one of the four on four roads with no dividing strip encountered a two-taxi accident that was blocking the road. Traffic from my direction had commandeered two lanes of the other direction and that traffic was pulling off into a sideally - as out bus edged around it cars were turning in front again in a further game of checkin. Quite a lengthy journey through the centre of Wuhan dropping off a few pax with the driver yelling place names along the way. Pulled into what was basically a bus carpark and driver stopped and stopped the bus (obviously the last bus of the night). Then had to trudge out to the road and back out to the station main entrance where for a further 17yuan ($3) I was on my way to the Airport.

    Wuahn Airport is quite a modern terminal but nothing special. Still mostly counter checkin although CZ had a few automatic terminals. Checked my rollaboard - they wouldn't let me have both rollaboard and trifold. Standard bag xray and one of the most thorough pat downs outside the US. No lounges -- all the airport had was a CZ/Skyteam lounge and a Hainan lounge - neither took priority pass. Mind you about five coffee shops (all selling alcohol) and free wifi in the gate area. All boarding appeared to be aerobridges in the B pier, although I did notice some downstairs gates (which I presumed were bus gates)
    Last edited by moa999; 30th December 2011 at 10:50 AM.

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    Established Member moa999's Avatar
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    Re: To China and back - all three alliances and some high speed rail

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    CZ6288 WUH 2200 KWL 2345 B737-800 (No Rego) st 42A

    Plane arrived in about 10min behind and a quick turnaround so we boarded pretty much on time. Tickets had two stubs, one collected at gate and another at bottom of ramp (20m later)

    Pretty standard 737-800 with similar layout and pitch to QF. Small 'section' of Premium Economy with its own curtain and three rows but apart from a different headcover couldn't see a difference.

    All cabin announcements in both mandarin and decent english, both prerecorded and live. The safety video was all mandarin with english subtitles but often unreadable as white text on light backgrounds.

    Food was a little snack box with peanuts, a sweet bread roll and a jelly. Water, coke, sprite or tea served from bottle.
    Very hard landing at the airport.

    Guilin airport looking a little dated although scoped both PriorityPass lounges enroute to the exit. Luggage on fourth cart almost dead last and all bag tags thoroughly cross checked at exit (made it away quickly before large tour group), then met up with driver to take me to Yangshuo on a deserted highway (trip just over an hour).



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