Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post-GCE 'O' Level Examination Holiday in Hong Kong November 2012 ~ Part 1

Hi, guys! I'm sorry I have not been publishing any posts for the past one month, as I had been busy preparing for my GCE 'O' Level examinations at the end of the year. To entertain all of you, I shall share with you my most recent post-GCE 'O' Level examination vacation in Hong Kong in November 2012.

Part 1 ~ The Opening


As I had just finished my final GCE 'O' Level examination paper the previous day, my parents decided that my brother and I could use a good break to Hong Kong before a major winter vacation at the end of the year. On the other hand, my brother had finished his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) a month earlier. For this vacation to Hong Kong, we decided to try staying at the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong.


On Friday, 9 November, my entire family woke up at 4.45 a.m. to prepare some final minute baggage for the trip to Hong Kong. I had spent a sleepless night deciding and packing my baggage. According to my parents, we would be flying with Cathay Pacific on Flight CX 710, which would depart from Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 at 8.05 a.m.. After loading our baggage into the car, we left the house at 5.15 a.m. for a 25-minute journey to Singapore Changi Airport.


Upon arrival at Singapore Changi Airport at 5.40 a.m., we parked our car at the car park in Terminal 3, as we had always done during our previous trips. After we arrived at the airport, we unloaded all of our baggage, while I went to collect a few baggage trolleys and my dad went to park the car.


As soon as we were in the terminal, we took the elevator up to the departures and check-in area of Terminal 3. As our flight would depart from Terminal 1, we went to the Skytrain station to take the Skytrain to Terminal 1.


The 2nd Basement floor of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The arrival information screen in the 2nd Basement of Terminal 3 showing the many flight arrivals

The departure information screen in the 2nd Basement of Terminal 3 showing the many flight departures

The departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in the wee hours of the morning

The Angry Birds Space area in Terminal 3


The Terminal 3 Skytrain station in the wee morning hours

The interior of the Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain

Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain ~ Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 Early Morning View

After hopping onto the Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain from Terminal 3, we were in the departures and check-in area of Terminal 1 at 6 o' clock. We immediately proceeded to the Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in counter to check in for Cathay Pacific flight CX 710 bound for Hong Kong.


Cathay Pacific is the international flag carrier and the largest airline of Hong Kong. Its head office and main hub are located at Hong Kong International Airport. The airline offers at least 60 destinations from Hong Kong to North America, Europe, Oceania and within Asia. The airline is a founding member of Oneworld, an airline alliance formed in 1999.


Cathay Pacific, along with American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas banded together to form the airline alliance on 1 February 1999. It also has a subsidiary airline, Dragonair, which mainly operates within Asia, and to almost all destinations within the People's Republic of China (Mainland China). The airline also uses a mixed fleet of purely wide-body aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, which are mainly the Airbus A330s, Airbus A340s (soon to be replaced by Airbus A350s), Boeing 747s (soon to be replaced by Airbus A350s and Boeing 777-300/ERs) and Boeing 777s (older aircraft to be replaced by Airbus A350s and Boeing 777-300/ERs).


I had become a member of Asia Miles recently just before the start of my GCE 'O' Level examination. This eventually made me part of four airline frequent flyer programs (2 from Star Alliance (All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines), 1 from SkyTeam (Korean Air) and 1 from Oneworld (Cathay Pacific))
.


The departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 in the wee hours of the morning

The Cathay Pacific check-in counter in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

As soon as we received our boarding passes, the check-in agent told us that we were invited to use the Skyview Lounge. She also reminded us that Cathay Pacific flight CX 710 bound for Hong Kong would depart at 8.05 a.m. from Gate No. D34. I was lucky since I had checked our boarding gate number just prior to leaving home. The check-in agent also reminded us that boarding would commence at 7.30 a.m., approximately 35 minutes before the scheduled departure time.


Without wasting anymore time, we went through the passport control area, and went to a money exchange counter to change some Singapore dollars (S$) into Hong Kong dollars (HK$). I changed approximately S$1017.60, which in turn, earned me approximately HK$6000. This eventually increased my total amount of Hong Kong dollars to HK$11522.


Shortly after we changed some Singapore dollars into Hong Kong dollars, we headed to the Skyview Lounge to charge our electronic devices before the flight to Hong Kong. We also had some drinks and light bites while we were in the Skyview Lounge. While in the lounge, I did my usual plane spotting.


The area leading to the immigrations area in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The list of airlines making use of the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The entrance to the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

My boarding pass for the flight between Singapore and Hong Kong

The airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

A lineup of yet-to-be open for business shops in Terminal 1

The departure flight information screen showing the many morning departures from Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1


The entrance to the Skyview Lounge during the wee hours of the morning

The list of airlines making use of the Skyview Lounge

The aircraft parked at Concourse D during the early morning sunrise

The staircase to the swimming pool in the Skyview Lounge

The tail fin of B-HNM while still being parked at Gate No. D34

An Air China Airbus A330-343X, registered B-6525, being parked at Gate No. D36

Our aircraft for today, B-HNM, being parked at Gate No. D34

The seating area near the food and beverage bar of the Skyview Lounge

A Jetstar Asia Airways Airbus A320-232, registered 9V-JSM, being pushed back from Gate No. D30

Another view of the Skyview Lounge food corner

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-212/ER being parked on the tarmac near Terminal 1

A China Southern Airlines Airbus A321 aircraft at Gate No. C16 before heading back to the People's Republic of China as China Southern Airlines flight CZ 352 bound for Shenyang via Guangzhou

The post-sunrise view of the Skyview Lounge

Part 2 ~ The Flight to Hong Kong


Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight No.: CX 710
From: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Singapore
To: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG / VHHH), Hong Kong
Aircraft: Boeing 777-367
Registration No.: B-HNM
Class: Business Class
Seat No: 17K
Date: Friday, 9 November 2012

After having a break in the Skyview Lounge for approximately close to one hour, the clock was finally showing 7.10 a.m.. Knowing that boarding for Cathay Pacific flight CX 710 bound for Hong Kong would commence in 20 minutes' time, we packed up our carry-on baggage, left the Skyview Lounge and headed to Gate No. D34 at 7.15 a.m..


Soon enough, we were finally outside Gate No. D34 at 7.20 a.m., which was just in good time for the boarding to commence in 10 minutes. With just a quick security check, we were in the waiting room by 7.25 a.m.. Today, Cathay Pacific flight CX 710 bound for Hong Kong would be operated by a Boeing 777-300, registered B-HNM and powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engines.


B-HNM was delivered new to Cathay Pacific on 30 October 2003 as the eighth Boeing 777-300 and the 13th Boeing 777 for the airline. Overall, the delivery makes the aircraft 9.1 years old today. That registration number looked pretty familiar, as back in September 2011, it was B-HNM that ferried us between Bangkok and Singapore as Cathay Pacific flight CX 713
.


The entrance to the Skyview Lounge just after exiting

On the moving passageway towards Gate No. D34

Arriving at Gate No. D34 for a quick security check

The passenger waiting room at Gate No. D34

Our aircraft for today, B-HNM, being prepared at Gate No. D34 for her flight back home to Hong Kong as Cathay Pacific flight CX 710

After waiting for approximately 10 minutes in the gate holding room, the first boarding calls for Cathay Pacific flight CX 710 bound for Hong Kong were finally made at 7.30 a.m.. The Business Class passengers, as well as the Asia Miles & Marco Polo Club members, and passengers needing special assistance were called to board to aircraft first. 
We walked through the jetway, and were finally on board B-HNM by 7.35 a.m., which was in good time for an 8.05 a.m. departure.

The flight attendants extended a warm welcome to us and directed us to our seats. After stowing all our baggage, I settled into my seat No. 17K for the journey to Hong Kong. For the duration of the flight, I would be sitting beside my brother. The Business Class seats we were using were one of the Regional Business Class types. Cathay Pacific features these on select Airbus A330-300s, Boeing 777-200s and Boeing 777-300s.

A few moments later, a flight attendant came to offer some pre-departure beverages for us. I then had my usual glass of orange juice. I have some pictures while waiting for pushback from Gate No. D34
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A view of my seat, 17K, during the boarding process in Singapore

My usual pre-departure glass of orange juice

A Shenzhen Airlines Boeing 737-8AL, registered B-5379, parked at Gate No. D32 before being pushed back for her flight back to Shenzhen as Shenzhen Airlines flight ZH 9792

The safety instructions card for Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777-300 aircraft

The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class cabin view from my seat just before pushback from Gate No. D34

At exactly 8.05 a.m., all the aircraft doors were closed and we finally pushed back from Gate No. D34, as scheduled. As the safety briefing information video was played, we made a 20-minute taxi to our assigned runway for take-off. Along the way, we passed by several aircraft at Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.


After a 20-minute taxi to our assigned runway, the two powerful Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engines spooled to life, and we finally lifted off from Singapore Changi Airport at 8.25 a.m.. We then climbed into the bright morning sky, heading for a flight time of 3 hours 25 minutes towards the hustling and bustling city of Hong Kong
.


The opening to StudioCX, Cathay Pacific's entertainment system

Part of the safety briefing information video, reminding passengers about the prohibitions of on-board smoking

An Air China Airbus A330-343X, registered B-6525, parked at Gate No. D36, being serviced before her flight back home to Beijing as Air China flight CA 976

An unexpected visitor at Singapore Changi Airport - An Air Canada Airbus A330-343X, registered C-GFAJ, on the tarmac. Normally, Air Canada doesn't fly to Singapore - So why the sudden surprise visit to SIN?

An Air Hong Kong Boeing 747-467(BCF), registered B-HOU, resting on the tarmac

Our assigned runway for take-off

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 parked at one of the hangars

The many Singapore Airlines tail fins at Terminal 3

Cathay Pacific Flight 710 ~ Morning Take-off From Singapore Changi Airport

The seatbelt sign was turned off at 8.40 a.m., just 15 minutes after take-off from Singapore. As I had spent a sleepless night packing baggage the previous night, I decided to have a short nap until breakfast was served. Nevertheless, I have some pictures before I went to have a short nap. My brother fell asleep throughout the entire flight.


After 45 minutes of a short nap, I woke up only to find out that the breakfast service would be commencing soon. I then looked through the food and beverage menu carefully to decide a good dish for breakfast, as I all that short nap I took made me feel hungry. I knew that I would feel better after having something to eat.


The powerful Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engine while in the sky

Flying somewhere across the Johor Strait

The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class cabin view from my seat shortly after take-off

Flying somewhere over Malaysia

The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class cabin view from my seat shortly after I woke up

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the sector between Singapore and Hong Kong

A welcome message on the first page of the menu

The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class cabin view from my seat shortly before the breakfast service commenced

A closer look into the food and beverage menu for the sector between Singapore and Hong Kong

A few moments later, a flight attendant came to my seat to take my breakfast order during the flight. I then placed my order for the tomato, basil and mozzarella frittata, streaky bacon, sautéed mixed mushrooms with parsley and tomato concasse for my main breakfast meal.


With that, the flight attendant understood my order, and she went back to the galley to fetch my breakfast tray. It was then brought to my meal table just five minutes later. It consisted of several fresh fruits. I ate most of the fruits to wake myself up for the main meal later. They were quite refreshing. At the same time, I also ordered a mug of hot chocolate
.


My starter platter: Fresh seasonal fruits

A nice, warm mug of hot chocolate for myself

15 minutes after I was done with my starter, the flight attendant reappeared from the galley with my main breakfast course, the tomato, basil and mozzarella frittata, streaky bacon, sautéed mixed mushrooms with parsley and tomato concasse. I then tucked into my main course. The frittata tasted kind of fresh and tender, and the mushrooms and bacon were nice and soft accompaniments. They really helped me feel much better after a short nap
.


My main breakfast meal: Tomato, basil and mozzarella frittata, streaky bacon, sautéed mixed mushrooms with parsley and tomato concise

My breakfast tray after I had finished my main meal

After a hearty and refreshing breakfast, the flight attendant came by my seat to see if I wanted anything else. I just requested for another mug of hot chocolate. With that, my breakfast tray was cleared and I went to the lavatory before doing my usual cabin shots.


A few moments later, I returned to my seat, only to find my mug of hot chocolate resting on my cocktail mini-table. I then consumed my mug of hot chocolate within just two minutes, and decided to lie back to have more rest.


The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class cabin view from the rear

A warning poster in the lavatory that warns passengers that smoking in the cabin and tampering with, disabling and destroying smoke detectors in the lavatories is a criminal offence under Hong Kong law and civil aviation regulations


Another mug of hot chocolate for myself

The route map displaying our route over the South China Sea between Vietnam and the Philippines

Flying over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam

The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class cabin view from my seat shortly before the seatbelt sign was illuminated before landing in Hong Kong

The information screen displaying the amount of time left before arrival into HKG

The information screen displaying our arrival gate and baggage belt numbers

The seatbelt sign was illuminated at 11.25 a.m., 25 minutes before landing into Hong Kong International Airport. Knowing that we were about to arrive in Hong Kong very soon, we immediately stowed away all of our baggage and buckled up for the landing. After a flight time of 3 hours 25 minutes from Singapore, we finally landed in Hong Kong International Airport at 11.50 a.m., five minutes ahead of schedule and 10 minutes just before noon.



The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class cabin view from my seat shortly after the seatbelt sign was illuminated before landing in HKG

Flying over the South China Sea while over the Philippines and getting closer to HKG

The powerful Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engine during descent into HKG

Another view of the South China Sea during descent into Hong Kong

Flying by a blanket of clouds during descent into Hong Kong

Flying somewhere over New Territories, Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific Flight 710 ~ Landing in Hong Kong International Airport

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-467, registered B-HOV, resting on the tarmac. Sadly, this may be a sight no more for Cathay Pacific in the long term, as the airline plans to replace its older fleet of Boeing 747-400s with a fleet of newer and more fuel-efficient Boeing 777-300/ERs

Parking beside a Dragonair Airbus A321-231, registered B-HTD, which is resting on the tarmac

The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class cabin shortly after arrival into Hong Kong

As soon as the aircraft docked onto our arrival gate, which was Gate No. 46, the seatbelt sign was finally turned off. Immediately, we got up and took all of our baggage before we disembarked from the aircraft. The flight attendants then bade us farewell and wished us a pleasant stay in Hong Kong
.

As with my previous blog reports, the airline grading systems are as follows:


A+: 85% or above (Airline has an excellent rating and performance)
A: 75% ~ 84% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
B: 60% ~ 74% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
C: 50% ~ 59% (Airline has an adequate rating and performance)
D: 40% ~ 49% (Airline has a fair rating and performance)
E: 20% ~ 39% (Airline has a poor rating and performance)
U: Below 20% (Airline has not met the requirement for the minimum grade)

Cathay Pacific Flight 710 Score Report

Seat: 18 / 20
Food: 15 / 20
Service: 17 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 18 / 20
Legroom space: 17 / 20
Total: 85 / 100

In summary, Cathay Pacific scored 85% on the inbound flight between Singapore and Hong Kong, which means they earned themselves an 'A+' grade, the highest airline grade. In spite of the flight being a little tiring, it was, as always, another pleasant one with them. I would not hesitate to fly with them again in the near future.


Part 2 ~ The Journey To The InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong 

After we disembarked from Cathay Pacific flight CX 710, we walked along the moving passageways and checked our baggage belt number. According to the arrival flight information screen, our check-in baggage was due to arrive at Belt No. 12. We then went downstairs to take the Hong Kong International Airport People Mover to the other side of the airport.


The passageway that leads to the people mover and transit security checkpoint areas

Going towards the Hong Kong International Airport People Mover platform

The Hong Kong International Airport People Mover platform

Awaiting departure from the area that houses the transit security checkpoint areas

The interior of the Hong Kong International Airport People Mover

Leaving the area that houses the transit security checkpoint areas

Travelling fast through the tunnel on the Hong Kong International Airport People Mover

Arriving at the area of the airport that houses the immigrations and baggage claiming areas

After we arrived on the baggage claim and immigrations area of the airport, we immediately proceeded to the immigrations area. The queue at the immigrations area was relatively long with many foreigners visiting Hong Kong either for leisure or for business purposes. After we cleared the immigration process, I went to the baggage claiming area to claim a few baggage trolleys and headed towards Belt No. 12, where our check-in baggage would be arriving.

Our bags finally arrived on schedule after a few minutes of waiting. With that, we headed to the arrival hall, where an InterContinental Hotel limousine driver was holding up our names for the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong. We then took the elevator down to the car parking area of Hong Kong International Airport, where our hotel limousine was waiting
.


The view of the arrival hall shortly after we exited the baggage claiming areas

The arrival hall in Hong Kong International Airport

The black limousine car which would soon transport us to the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong

After all our baggage was loaded onto the limousine car, we boarded the limousine for the journey to the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong. I sat in the front of the car. We then left Hong Kong International Airport at 12.45 p.m. for a 30-minute limousine journey towards the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong
.


Leaving the airport for the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong

The Airport Express MTR Line railway tracks from the hotel limousine car

About to cross under the glass footbridge of shops in Citygate Outlets

Along the Lantau Expressway towards Tsing Yi Island, Tsuen Wan, Kowloon and Central Hong Kong

Along the Lantau Expressway by the Airport Express and Tung Chung MTR Line railway tracks

Bypassing Sunny Bay Station

Crossing the Tsing Ma Bridge between Lantau Island and Kowloon

Another view of the Tsing Ma Bridge

The skyline of Hong Kong from a road bridge in Kowloon

Bypassing Olympic Station

Passing by the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong

About to make a U-turn at a junction to our destination

Arriving at the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong

After a 30-minute journey on the hotel limousine car from Hong Kong International Airport, we finally arrived at the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong at 1.15 p.m.. Some hotel porters then came out to assist us with our baggage. My mum then went to the reception counter to check us in for the 6-day vacation in Hong Kong and for our rooms
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The hotel lobby of the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong

After my mum received our room keys, we took the elevator up to our rooms, which were both located on the tenth floor. Our room numbers were 1006 and 1008 respectively, and the two rooms were directly connected with two doors for each individual room, and one large main door located outside the entrances to our rooms. With just one of our keys, we could open the main door, and access our rooms easily as it was the main door, but not our room doors, that would be opened or closed whenever we would go out
.

The king-sized bed my brother and I would share for our vacation in Hong Kong

My study table in the hotel room

A view of Hong Kong Island from our room

After all our baggage was delivered, we unpacked all of our belongings and sorted out our clothes for the upcoming days. Feeling rather hungry at the same time, my brother and I decided to have room service for lunch. My brother ordered a platter of fish & chips and chicken nuggets, while I order a plate of spaghetti alla carbonara for myself.


Our meals were then brought up to us at 2.15 p.m., just 25 minutes after we placed our orders. With that, my brother and I settled in for our lunch as were feeling famished from our tiring flight and sleepless night from Singapore. My spaghetti alla carbonara came with extra small plates of cream cheese and shredded cheese.


Pralines were also provided, of which, I ate them all. Our lunches that afternoon were pretty mouthwatering. The cream cheese and shredded cheese were all perfect accompaniments and flavoured my dish even more.


My brother sitting on the bed while enjoying his laptop

A view of our room, Room No. 1006

A view of our in-room lunches

My mouthwatering plate of spaghetti alla carbonara

After we finished our hearty lunches, my brother and I didn't do anything much but relaxed and had the time of our lives in the hotel room. Our parents were out having lunch at that time. I then called the hotel service to clear up our lunch tables, which they did within an hour or so
.

A view of my parents' bedroom and living room

A view of Hong Kong Island at night

A view of my hotel bedroom at night

Another beautiful night view of Hong Kong Island

Later that evening, my parents came back from their shopping around downtown Tsim Sha Tsui. They then told us that we would later be having dinner at a classy Chinese restaurant at the hotel, known as Yan Toh Heen. They also informed us that our reservation would be at 8.30 p.m.. 
At around 8.20 p.m., we took the elevator down to the ground floor and walked down some stairs to the lower level of the hotel. We then managed to arrive at the restaurant entrance at 8.25 p.m.. A waiter then assisted us to our table, which was beside a window and a walk path outside. A waitress then provided us with the menu for tonight's dinner.


The main lobby of the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong at night

The first glimpse of the interior of Yan Toh Heen Restaurant

The food and beverage menu for Yan Toh Heen Restaurant

The logo of Yan Toh Heen on the first page of the menu

A few minutes later, a waitress came to our table to take our dinner orders. She then added on that the price of our meal would be included in our hotel bill. We ordered a variety of sumptuous Cantonese dishes at Yan Toh Heen. It was indeed a feast for us all on our first night in Hong Kong
.

A small platter of mini fried tofu cubes

A large platter of roasted char siew pork

A small platter of roasted pigeon

My mum holding up the roasted pigeon head in her chopsticks

A large platter of roasted pork

A large platter of beef and sautéed vegetables

A large platter of roasted drunken chicken

A large platter of spinach with scallions

A large platter of fried garoupa fish

A post-dinner dessert platter displaying our mini desserts

The view of Hong Kong Island at night from Yan Toh Heen Chinese Restaurant

After a hearty and sumptuous dinner at Yan Toh Heen, I asked my parents to show me to the Club InterContinental Hotel Lounge. I was also eager to travel on the Airport Express MTR Line the next day. With that, we paid up our bill, and took the elevator up. The Club InterContinental is located on the second floor of the hotel. We had some light refreshments there too.


My parents also explained to me that between 6.30 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. each morning, I would be free to come down to the lounge for breakfast. The Club InterContinental staff also told me that there was a subway by the hotel that would lead to East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, and I had to walk along an underground passageway which would lead me to Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station.


With that, my dad offered to show me to the subway by the hotel. Immediately, I familiarised myself with the subway. We then headed back up to our rooms after we checked out the subway near the hotel
.


Another night view of the main hotel lobby

The lobby lounge as seen from the Club InterContinental

Inside the Club InterContinental at night

The exterior of the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong at night

A night view of Salisbury Road

After checking out the subway, my dad and I went to purchase some beverages at a convenience store located just across Salisbury Road. We then headed back to the InterContinental Hotel Hong Kong, and were back in our rooms by 10.30 p.m.. Once we were back in the room, I had a shower and changed up for the night. I then used my mobile phone to set my alarm to 7.30 a.m. the next day, before doing some items on my laptop computer. By the time we were asleep, it was approximately 1.15 in the morning.


This now brings the first section of my post-GCE 'O' Level examination vacation in Hong Kong to a close. Questions and comments are always welcome. Remember to stay tuned for the upcoming sectors of my post-GCE 'O' Level examination vacation in Hong Kong.

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