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Hong Kong Trip or “Extreme Suiting”

harvyk

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So a few months back, my previous Hong Kong suit finally gave way. I purchased a replacement suit jacket off the rack from a men’s wear store, and a new shirt from K-Mart. The next day I threw out the K-Mart shirts and went back to the men’s wear store to purchase a replacement shirt. This was hardly cheap.

Now whilst the shirt and jacket “fitted”, they never really fitted like a custom suit does. So I started thinking about heading back to Hong Kong to get a custom suit made.

I found some flights departing in September and thought “Great”. I jumped on and booked them, and I booked my travel insurance at about the same time, then the troubles started.

I, like many others, watched on the news as protesters went from peaceful, to what we’ve all no doubt seen. Then the travel advisory went from Green to Yellow. It was at this point in time that I checked my travel insurance. Because the trip and the insurance was arranged before the 7th August I was still ok.

I left my hotel booking a little late. As luck (for me) would have it, the hotel I was planning on staying at had dropped their prices by half, and allowed for refunds up to 24 hours before hand.
 

harvyk

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Day 1

So an early start for me on the 7th, out at CBR airport by 5:00am means a 4:00am wakeup call.

My kids love the Qantas business lounge there, so they also woke up early to take me to the airport, and get a free breakfast.

As it turns out my flight from Canberra to Melbourne was my 300th flight. Apart from that it was a standard positioning flight. It was on a B737, and I had an exit row which made things a bit more comfortable.

Transferring between Domestic and International at Melbourne is of course a breeze, being all in the same building. As it turns out simply saying the word “express” and meaning it is enough to get you into the express lane. I did however have an old express pass in my bag if they did ask, but they never did.

My flight to Hong Kong departed a little late, the ground staff told me that they had engineers looking at a problem with the plane. My response was simple, if you want engineers to look at the plane before I go up in it, I have no problems with that. It was on a A330-300. Fun fact, this is the first time I’ve ever left Australia in a plane with only 2 engines. For a very long time my standard choice of plane for leaving Australia was the B747, until a few years back when an A380 snuck in there.

On the flight I noticed the cabin crew were perhaps a little apprehensive. Perhaps it was being told that they were going to Hong Kong after seeing the news. In any case it was acceptable, but not memorable service from Qantas. I did get a row of 2 seats to myself, which made the flight a bit more comfortable. It was the usual sort of meals you get on a trip to HK. Main just after take-off was beef brisket, and about an hour before landing it was a steamed Dim Sum box (which was pretty good).

On landing in Hong Kong immigration was a breeze, I decided to go through the red lane since I had medication. I was asked if I had a prescription for what I had and I pointed out the label the chemist put on the box. They checked the name against my passport and then x-rayed my bag. A bit more than I normally go through but I’d rather do that than get pinged trying my luck in the green lane.

I went to buy my ticket for the airport express. It was there I was told Tsing Yi and Kowloon stations where closed. They confirmed that the Tsuen Wan line was running.

On arrival into Hong Kong station, there was a lot of police, and they looked like they meant business. There was meant to be another “shut the airport down” type protest on the day, the police won’t going to have a bar of it!

After the short MTR ride into Tsim Sha Tsui I went straight up to where I’d planned to get my suit, unfortunately they were closed. A little annoying as their website said they were open until 9pm.

I caught a taxi into my hotel, the Eaton Hotel in Jordan. I’d stayed there before, it is walking distance to Temple Street Markets and the Jorden MTR station. I had a little bit of trouble finding the reception as they had renovated since I was last there. In my opinion, they had made it much worse. My room can best described as hospital décor, without the machine that goes bing. At least it was a decent sized bed that was fairly comfortable.

I changed into my shorts and went down to Temple street for a bit of a wander through the markets before dinner. I ended up at a Dim Sum place for my meat on a stick and a beer. A perfectly acceptable dinner.
 

harvyk

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Day 2

I had a bit of a sleep in as I had learnt from previous trips that HK doesn’t really get started in the morning until 11:00am. I told the receptionist about my plans for the day. She gave me an alternate route out to Tsung Chung in case Central was closed, but apart from that she said enjoy, there’d be no problems.

There is a bakery near the Jordan MTR station on Nathan Road, however when I got there they didn’t have any egg tarts, Damn. So I caught the MTR into Tsim Sha Tsui to try my luck there. I stopped off at iSquare for a drink, because it was already hot, and an iced mocha sounded pretty good. After my breakfast of egg tarts and iced mocha’s I went to the tailor, still closed. As I had no idea when they were going to open I went to the place next door.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t done a deal with this lot like I had with the previous tailor, so whilst there was a bit of back and forwards with the price, fabrics and quantity of shirts I was in a much weaker position to negotiate as they knew my Plan A was shut and I was leaving that night. Still we came up with a deal and I got measured for my suit. Mission Accomplished, mid next week I’ll have a custom made suit again.

I caught the train out to Tsung Chung. This was perhaps the one place where the wreckage from the protests was obvious, a bit of graffiti and a few broken ticketing machines. I’ve seen Sydney train stations in worse nick than that.

I caught the cable car up to Ngong Ping. The views from the cable car are amazing. It’s perhaps one of the few times you get to look down on aircraft taking off.

I found a restaurant and got the Rice and Eel. It was perhaps a little fishy, slimy and salty for my tastes, but I’m glad I did as trying new foods is a big part of travelling for me. Ngong Ping village is very much a tourist trap. The prices are more what I would call “westerner”, but I still very much enjoyed myself.

After lunch I walked over to the Po Lin Monastery. Ever since listening to Wintersun’s Time Album I had always wanted to listen to that album at Po Lin. Well I got my wish. In case you’re wondering why a Metal band from Finland would sound so good at a Buddhist monastery, the first song on the album has a very oriental sound. Just sitting in the main square overlooking the happenings and listening to that album was pretty perfect.

I didn’t take many photos in the Po Lin Monastery, in part because they had signs all over the place asking you not too, and because there were quite a few people praying. I’m in no way religious, but I did find something very peaceful and beautiful there, if nothing else I can appreciate amazing architecture. My favourite room at the monastery is the hall of 10,000 Buddha’s. Whilst they don’t really let you walk in too much past the doors, even then looking around that room from the entrance way is incredible.

I went back to Ngong Ping village and had an ice cream, which on such a hot day really hit the spot, before taking the cable car back down to Tsung Chung.

From Tsung Chung I caught the bus out to the airport. Inside the bus terminal was one of the only places where I saw a serious amount of graffiti on what has been dubbed a Lennon Wall.

As expected they were checking everyone’s passports and tickets before letting people into the airport terminal. The tickets didn’t need to be on paper, they were quite happy to accept the ticket in the Qantas app on my phone.

I made my way to the Qantas lounge, and went to have a shower and get changed into comfortable clothes for flying in. As I was re-packing my bag I could not find one of my credit cards. I wondered if I’d lost it in the terminal. I usually take two cards with me with I travel, I keep one in my wallet and a second one with my passport, that way if one is lost or stolen I still have my other one. I called ANZ through their app and had my card cancelled within 5 minutes. Annoyingly I opened my laptop and found the missing card sitting between the keyboard and screen. How it got there I’ll never know, but it was too late, the card had already been cancelled. You’ve got to give ANZ points for efficiency there.

After some dinner from the buffet, and a couple of egg tarts along with the caramel cheesecake, I settled in at the bar and got a few drinks. Starting with an Espresso Martini, and ending in a mojito all I could think was “gee I love open bars”.

The on the flight from Hong Kong to Brisbane I got 28K, unfortunately one of the “Window Seats without a window” on the A330-300’s. As I was getting comfortable I wished I had checked out seat guru before checking in. I swapped over from my original choice of 30K as someone decided to pick 30J. Of all the empty seats on the plane, why did he pick the one next to me? Luckily I had a spare seat next to me so that lessened the pain. The crew on that flight seemed to be doing the minimum required, they were friendly, but that fake “the company makes me have this smile” type friendly. I guess Hong Kong is not a crew favourite right now.

Sitting in the Qantas Club at Brisbane and reading the news I saw there was more trouble at Central Hong Kong MTR station. It’s kind of strange seeing photos of a place I was at less than 24 hours being “erupting in violence”. I can’t help but wonder if there is some degree of the most shocking photo’s possible being taken and published for the world’s media.

After a short wait, my flight for Canberra was called. It was a very full flight, and perhaps one of the very few short hauls I’ve done not in an exit row. Balancing my laptop in such a way that I could watch an episode of the IT crowd (an old favourite) wasn’t much fun, but for a 1 hour and 30-minute flight I managed to deal with it.
 

kookaburra75

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Unfortunately, I hadn’t done a deal with this lot like I had with the previous tailor, so whilst there was a bit of back and forwards with the price, fabrics and quantity of shirts I was in a much weaker position to negotiate as they knew my Plan A was shut and I was leaving that night. Still we came up with a deal and I got measured for my suit. Mission Accomplished, mid next week I’ll have a custom made suit again.
if I see you at the next Canberra dinner, I can give you the name of a good tailor in Hoi An in Vietnam - another reason for a rush trip
 

Stewey

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if I see you at the next Canberra dinner, I can give you the name of a good tailor in Hoi An in Vietnam - another reason for a rush trip
I can recommend Tommy the Tailor in Mirador Mansions in TST, he trades under “Fletcher Jones Tailors”
Lots of Australian business and racing personalities get their suits and shirts made by him
 

Drakecula

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We used Mark One Tailor in Khao Lak Thailand when we went a few years back - very happy. Wearing a dress I got made right now actually.

Glad you had a nice (and safe!) trip to HK @harvyk - I enjoyed my visit when we were there last year.
 

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