Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mini-Shopping Vacation in Hong Kong in March 2012 (Enhanced Version) ~ Section 2

Welcome to the second version of the revised edition about my mini-shopping vacation in Hong Kong in March 2012. The focus topics of the section will mainly be spending our first day around the Tsim Sha Tsui area near our hotel, and my famous Airport Express MTR train rides, along with a trip to Victoria Peak for dinner.

Part 2 ~ My Airport Express MTR Rides (Part 1) & Victoria Peak

The next morning, which was Sunday (11 March), I woke up at around 8.30 a.m. after a well-earned good night's sleep. To start off the day, I had a nice, hot shower and changed into my day's attire. This day, being 11 March, would also commemorate the very first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami that took place in March 2011. While my family would be shopping around downtown Tsim Sha Tsui, I decided to take a few rides on the Airport Express MTR Line on this day.

After preparing my necessary belongings for the day, I decided to head up to The Horizon Club Lounge for breakfast before commencing my Airport Express MTR Line journeys for the day. With that, I left my hotel room by 8.50 a.m., and took the elevator all the way up towards the 21st floor, where The Horizon Club was located.

Upon arrival at The Horizon Club by nine o' clock, a lounge attendant warmly welcomed me and escorted me to an empty table facing Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbour. As she left me with the breakfast menu, I decided to make a good review first before placing my main meal order for breakfast.

Having a good review through the food and beverage menus, one of the lounge attendants came over to my table to take down my main meal order for breakfast. I ordered myself scrambled eggs with soft bacon, veal sausage, mushrooms and hash brown potatoes. At the same time, I also requested for a refreshing glass of orange juice and a nice, warm pot of Earl Grey Tea.

The Airport Express (Traditional Chinese: 機場快綫; Simplified Chinese: 机场快线) is one of the ten MTR lines serving Hong Kong. The line links the major districts of Central Hong Kong towards Hong Kong International Airport and the AsiaWorld-Expo convention and exhibition centre located on Lantau Island. Travel times from Central Hong Kong to Hong Kong International Airport take 24 minutes, and 28 minutes towards AsiaWorld-Expo.

Although the Airport Express is part of the MTR system, it is not a traditional rapid transit line. Instead, it is a dedicated express rail service to and from Hong Kong International Airport and AsiaWorld-Expo. The service frequency is every 10 minutes through most of the day, and 12 minutes during the late night hours.

The service currently uses 11 8-car MTR A-Stock sets, manufactured by Adtranz and CAF in Spain. The first seven cars have two doors on each side, whereas Car No. 8 (K Car) is used as a baggage container car. These sets appear to be similar to the first batch of rolling stock used on the more conventional Tung Chung Line, though they look more like luxury express trains than normal commuter trains.

Passengers travelling on the Airport Express line can use the in-town check-in service for flights on some airlines, and receive their boarding passes without extra charges at Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations. Free shuttle buses are also available in the Kowloon and Central Hong Kong districts, linking to major hotels and Hung Hom Station.

Due to the somewhat high fares and low catchment areas on the Airport Express, certain travellers may opt to take the cheaper, local Tung Chung Line combined with a bus or taxi, or seek other means of transport towards their destinations. The Airport Express can also be used by passengers using the Octopus Card.

After spending nearly 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platform, the 10.20 a.m. Airport Express train bound for AsiaWorld-Expo finally arrived at Hong Kong Station at 10.12 a.m. on Track No. 1. Once the doors were opened, I boarded the train through Car No. 1 (E101) and secured a seat by the rear baggage rack. There were not much travellers in the car that day.

At exactly 10.20 a.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Airport Express train finally pulled out of Hong Kong Station for its 28-minute routine trip to the AsiaWorld-Expo convention and exhibition centre. I was then on my way for the first of my three Airport Express MTR rounds of the day.

The Airport Express is also one of my most favourite MTR lines in Hong Kong. The trains are spacious and quiet, with the interior of the trains being like First Class cars on high-speed trains. During each trip in Hong Kong, I usually go for a maximum of three rounds, with a brief one-hour break in Hong Kong International Airport for every second round. For the journey towards the airport and AsiaWorld-Expo, I would find seats in Car No. 1, and the seating patterns vary in different cars for the return trip towards Hong Kong.

After spending approximately 20 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platform, the 12.59 p.m. Airport Express train for Central Hong Kong finally entered Hong Kong International Airport Station at 12.55 p.m. on Track No. 2. Grabbing all of my personal belongings with me, I quickly boarded the train through Car No. 7 (J410) and secured a seat just adjacent to the front baggage rack.

At exactly 12.59 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Airport Express train finally pulled out of Hong Kong International Airport Station for the remainder of its routine trip towards the hustle and bustle of Central Hong Kong. I was then on my way for a quick journey time of 24 minutes towards the hustle and bustle of modern Central Hong Kong.

After a rapid journey time of 24 minutes from Hong Kong International Airport, I finally arrived back at the Hong Kong terminal station at 1.23 p.m. (13 23) on Track No. 1. Having all of my belongings with me, I alighted the train and did my carriage changeover towards Car No. 1 (E110) to begin my third and final Airport Express round of the day.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mini-Shopping Vacation in Hong Kong in March 2012 (Enhanced Version) ~ Section 1

Welcome to the first section of my mini-shopping vacation in Hong Kong in March 2012. This will be an enhanced section of the existing report, which was written in March 2012 itself. The main focus topics that will be covered will be the in-bound journey towards Hong Kong, and the journey towards the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel.

Part 1 ~ The Opening Sequences

After spending weeks of planning on where to go to for the one-week March school break during my final year in secondary school, we decided upon a shopping vacation towards Hong Kong. I was quite excited since almost annually, we travel to Hong Kong, and I will never say 'no' to a good holiday to Hong Kong.

On the morning of Friday (9 March), all of us woke up at around 6.30 a.m. to pack up our remaining baggage in preparation for the trip towards Hong Kong. According to my mum, our itinerary for the in-bound journey towards Hong Kong would be to fly with Cathay Pacific on flight CX 736 bound for Hong Kong, which would depart Singapore Changi Airport at 10.05 a.m., and arrive at Hong Kong International Airport at 2.05 p.m..

As this would be a relatively short journey to Hong Kong, we would be flying in Economy Class; we mainly fly Business Class on flights that are longer than five hours. My mum also informed us that she had arranged for a MaxiCab to come and take us to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 at 7.30 a.m. a few weeks in advance.

Upon conducting a final baggage check and having some breakfast, the MaxiCab finally showed up at our doorstep at 7.20 a.m.. The driver then got out of the cab, and offered to assist us in loading our baggage into the boot of his cab. Once all of us were on board with our baggage loaded into the cab, we finally departed the compound of our home by 7.30 a.m. for a short 25-minute run towards Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1.

Soon enough, we finally arrived at the curbside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 at 7.55 a.m.. As my parents unloaded the baggage from the MaxiCab with the driver's kindly assistance, my brother and I went to grab a few baggage trolleys. As soon as everything was loaded on to the baggage trolleys, we went into the departures and check-in area to the Cathay Pacific Economy Class check-in counter, which was located at Row No. 1.

Cathay Pacific (Traditional Chinese: 國泰航空公司; Simplified Chinese: 国泰航空公司) is the flag carrier and largest airline of Hong Kong. The airline maintains its headquarters and main hub at Hong Kong International Airport, and offers at least 60 overseas destinations to North America, Oceania, Africa, Asia and the European Union. The airline makes use of a purely wide-body fleet of Airbus A330s, Airbus A340s, Boeing 747s and Boeing 777s.

Cathay Pacific is also one of the co-founding members of Oneworld, the world's second airline formed on 1 February 1999, together with American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas. The airline also has a fully-owned subsidiary, known as Dragonair, which mainly offers destinations within the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) and certain regional destinations located within Southeast Asia itself.