China - holiday through Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai

elanshin

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Last year, I decided that I wanted to go back to Shanghai for my cousin's wedding and my partner having never been to China of any variety wanted to come along. Whilst Shanghai is my birth city, I've been living in Sydney for most of my life now and until last October, I hadn't visited the city since 2014.

A whole lot has changed and it's really opened my eyes to what some of the future will hold as Shanghai really does have some aspects that are years ahead of us now.

Our trip eventually became a OWA RTW J booking which in of itself was a massive hassle to finalise but our itinerary for this leg would end up being:

MEL > SYD > CGK (QF positioning flight in Y) - staying overnight
CGK > HKG (CX J a330) - staying overnight
HKG > TPE (CX J b777 regional) - 4 nights
TPE > HKG > PVG (CX J a321N and a330) - 6 nights with 1 in Hangzhou
PVG > SYD (QF J a330)

My partner also flew back to MEL yesterday in ZL whilst I stay in Syd for work for a bit.

Day -1 Melbourne

Our trip starts at MEL overnight where we decided to book the Mantra Tullamarine Airport hotel ($110 on Accor Red hot deal). I had to fly in from Sydney (yes im transiting through SYD next morning, but alas I had work in Sydney). I have Accor Gold and got some cake slices as welcome gift. No welcome drinks were offered but it was already 11 and the bar was closed. We turned in for an early as we both had a full work day.
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The on demand shuttle to and from the airport was fairly efficient. I waited about 6 minutes or so to get picked up from the airport and in the morning, they were shuttling every 10mins or so and for $110 I'd happily stay again at this sort of price.

Day 0 To Jakarta

Well its time for us to position ourselves to Jakarta to officially start oir trip. I didn't want to risk a 6:30am arrival into CGK for our CX flight which departs 8:10am so I settled for overnight options. Having gone through all the possible options, I came to the conclusion that QF41 was my safest option (enough time to go for alternatives if it ran into trouble).

We rocked up to MEL T1 and in my sleepy state headed to the service desk, only for them to tell me this was the dom - dom service desk. I had no idea the Dom - Int was hidden away next to the oversized baggage. We had a nice enough chap serve us despite the fact he was a bit new at the job. So new he didn't notice that I had gotten a complimentary upgrade on the SYD - CGK leg.

I only noticed because I wanted to have one last look at the seatmap to see if there were better seats around and I noticed my Boarding Pass now said 3A. I discussed it with my partner and concluded that if I couldn't get her upgraded somehow, I'd ask the CSM to swap her with me as I'd have significantly more chances to fly long haul J than she does.

Feeling pretty happy, we pased the time in the Dom J lounge. I didn't manage to get a photo, but we did see the full orange livery JQ plane. Nothing to write about the MEL dom J lounge besides it was my partner's first time in there. She thought it just had nicer views than QP but liked the dungeon in T2 better. Had a short uneventful flight to Sydney where we watched our luggage get soaked in the rain during the transfer.

We transferred ourselves over to the international airport and I caught a friend before his NH flight, going to Japan for their honeymoon. After that I took my partner over to QF F for the first time.

I didn't really take photos of the lounge, but I'm sure most of AFF should be familiar with SYD QF F lounge. The one mistake i made was not asking for a spa session when we entered as we got in at a super quiet period - next time. Watched my friends flight line up and take off while the S&P Squid was being served. Once the rain cleared we had some stunning runway views with the city in the backdrop.

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Before long boarding was called as we finished our final good coffee for the next fortnight (we'll have many interesting coffees on the trip). I had moved "myself" to 4K once I saw what J seats were available although in hindsight I should've taken 7K. During the boarding, I had asked for the CSM as to whether my partner and I would be able to swap seats. He very quickly just said sure as long as you did it now.

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I moved back to 24J/K and my partner took my 4K. I say I should've taken 7K because she didn't decide to visit once during the flight which I teased her a few times about. If I'd put her in 7K, she'd only have been 2 rows in front of me.

Here's her lunch and pre landing snack she received. According to her, the cabin crew were quite good once they got over the confusion of who was in the seat - I guess the CSM didn't mention to the crew that I had swapped seats.

She mentioned this was one of the best deserts she's had on a plane.

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My original seat at 24J remained blocked so taking over 2 seats wasn't too bad and i managed to make myself comfortable using the extra pillows and blankets. I skipped lunch as I anticipated the swap so I ate a bit more at the F lounge and just snacked more than anything else.

Landing at CGK was quite uneventful and the international arrivals area was quite pleasant besides slight confusion whether we use the e-gate or not as the signs weren't clear - but we decided to try anyways as we had done the evisa online and it let us through. In our eagerness to get our trip started we "exited" a little too quickly and got blasted with the heat and humidity as the area to meet people was actually outdoors! The picture below is actually outside.

To make matters worse, the shuttle transfer that I had organised with ibis styles never showed up. I had thought to myself that ibis styles at the airport can't be that bad and its one night only...turns out it took 2.5 hours for them to get the shuttle sorted and it was a 30minute walk. I'll reconsider the $50 hotel next time im transiting through CGK or just take a grab there instead.

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Finally made it to our room and promptly just showered and slept as we were going to get up at 5 the next morning to start the main trip.
 

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Where our driver finally instructed us to wait for the pick-up at the domestic part of the terminal. Took us ages to find 1000020118.jpg

Ibis Styles CGK room and welcome gift.
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Day 1 To Hong Kong

I had deliberately pushed our transit to Taipei out to 20hours so we could spend a night in Hong Kong. We woke up just before 5am and head out for the private transfer the front arranged for us. This as I understood it was supposed to have been what we got the day before, but somehow they never got it done. It eas also the first time i had a seat belt buckle that didn't have a outer casing, just the inner mechanism.

Airport was already busy and we got there exactly as Cathay opened up the check in desks. It took a call for the check in agent to confirm that we can indeed take our luggage out at HKG (which was surprising to me as I thought you couldn't through check overnight). Otherwise pretty easy at the Cathay First desk.
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Once done we wandered around the outside of the airport first. There was quite a reasonable assortment of food options and having Korean fried chicken and Buldak (fire noodles) Bread caught my eye.

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Turns out this Tous les Jours is a Korean bakery chain. Then downstairs to pick up this latte my partner spotted whilst we were looking for our ride the night before. Butterscotch Sea Salt Latte and Pandan Latte. They both tasted decent, but rather than coffee's I'd class them as coffe flavoured beverages.

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Having explored enough, we headed through immigration and security and again this was pretty easy at CGK. At the other end we spotted the retro livery Garuda plane parked in a remote stand as well as these googley eye looking air vents 1000020127.jpg

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Cathay doesn't operate a lounge at CGK so it was off to the plaza premium. Overall decently quiet lounge in the morning and reasonable food options. The interesting thing is that the SQ lounge is inside of it.

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Had a Nasi Goreng and sat around waiting for the boarding call. Turns out our gate was one of the further ones so by the time we got they were already halfway through economy boarding. I forgot to take a shot of our plane so we just hopped straight on.
 
Day 1 To Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific flies the a330 for this route. While they have very similar seats to the a350s in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration, this fleet is aging quite a bit and you can see the age in some parts (storage bins not closing properly, arm rest not coming up as easily, at one point the cover on the lock mechanism for the loo came off). Still it was a comfortable seat and the service was great. For these intra asia flights no amenities kit was provided.

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The Cabin manager came around before departure to introduce herself to all the OWE onboard and took our order for lunch.

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Lunch was served about 1.5h after departure. Cathay served it in status order from the looks of things. I've got to say having the yoghurt served by the CSM in a the tub on a tray was just really amusing to me. Fruits and yoghurt were very good.
The omelette was fairly average.my partner had the egg noodles and said that was quite a lot better.

The Cathay delight drink was quite nice and I'd definitely recommend it to try as well as the Hong Kong mik tea.

I watched a movie and napped a bit as we headed up to Hong Kong. Interestingly I didn't find it comfortable in full lie flat so I actually angled the seat back up a fraction. Perhaps if they had seat toppers, but they weren't provided for the journey.

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Landing at HKG was fairly normal and as per usual we had to taxi a bit to get to our gate. We got our e-channel approvals registered for our passports (took literally 5 mins for both of us) and walked out into Hong Kong.
 
Day 1 Hong Kong

We're staying at Pullman on Park Lane on Hong Kong island. I found a free night on Accor+ and decided to use it. Due to the location, I found our best form of transport was actually the A11 double decker bus (and it was half the price). This bus would drop us off about 200m from the hotel.
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By some luck, despite being quite far back in the line, no-one took the front row on the second floor, so we took the tourist spot and had some pretty nice views as we drove into HK Island.
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We got a slight upgrade when we checked in - city view room. Room itself was decently sized (about 30sqm). Welcome fruits and platter was waiting on the table already. 1000020162.jpg1000020158.jpg1000020159.jpg1000020160.jpg1000020161.jpg

We quickly unloaded our bags and headed out into the city. Wandering around Causeway Bay area first.
 
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Would be interested in your thoughts around safety and HK. Maybe irrational, but I am now not confident visiting there because of the Chinese government crackdown a few years ago.
 
Would be interested in your thoughts around safety and HK. Maybe irrational, but I am now not confident visiting there because of the Chinese government crackdown a few years ago.
Hong Kong atm from what I see (and friends that live there) are sort of back to "normal". Just people going about their business.

I'd actually feel "safer" visiting HK than Taiwan right now, both of which I am less apprehensive than many areas of US right now. (That said US is still relatively safe on my scale). Definitely was more on guard in Jakarta airport than the whole time I was in Hong Kong.

Without going too political, I don't see the "conflict" lasting any longer or if at all. In some ways a lot of people have accepted the result and are either moving on with their life or moving away.

It's been 25 years since China has taken Hong Kong back and in that time the value of the city to China has changed. I think it can best be summed even by mainland citizen's perception where even a decade ago Hong Kong was where you went "domestically" to buy proper luxury brands and western stuff, but now they think of it as a bit run down, shabby and falling fast behind the tier 1 cities in mainland. Just another city in the Chinese cog that just has some special jurisdictions attached.
 
Hong Kong atm from what I see (and friends that live there) are sort of back to "normal". Just people going about their business.

I'd actually feel "safer" visiting HK than Taiwan right now, both of which I am less apprehensive than many areas of US right now. (That said US is still relatively safe on my scale). Definitely was more on guard in Jakarta airport than the whole time I was in Hong Kong.

Without going too political, I don't see the "conflict" lasting any longer or if at all. In some ways a lot of people have accepted the result and are either moving on with their life or moving away.

It's been 25 years since China has taken Hong Kong back and in that time the value of the city to China has changed. I think it can best be summed even by mainland citizen's perception where even a decade ago Hong Kong was where you went "domestically" to buy proper luxury brands and western stuff, but now they think of it as a bit run down, shabby and falling fast behind the tier 1 cities in mainland. Just another city in the Chinese cog that just has some special jurisdictions attached.
Thank you for the considered reply,
 
Day 1 Hong Kong

We're staying at Pullman on Park Lane on Hong Kong island. I found a free night on Accor+ and decided to use it. Due to the location, I found our best form of transport was actually the A11 double decker bus (and it was half the price). This bus would drop us off about 200m from the hotel.
Smart move. Pullman Park Lane HK is leaving Accor at early 2025 to become Autograph Collection:


I stayed there earlier this year using Accor+ free stays as well. Make sure you check out the roof top bar (Skye) at night. It has great views there.
 
Smart move. Pullman Park Lane HK is leaving Accor at early 2025 to become Autograph Collection:


I stayed there earlier this year using Accor+ free stays as well. Make sure you check out the roof top bar (Skye) at night. It has great views there.
Ah we didn't have time to check the rooftop, but we were reasonably high up already. Shame it's leaving accor, quite liked the hotel, maybe ill have more Marriott status next time I visit HK.
 

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