After my post earlier in the week on my travels during 2013 I wanted to go back and talk about some of my favourite memories and fun moments from 2013. Some of these are travel related, but a lot of them are from around here in Seattle and surrounds. The easiest way to go through them is to do it month by month, there are quite a few I wanted to go through so this is going to be a photo heavy post. January Not much happened in January other than being here in Seattle but the more fun part was escaping south to Los Angeles for a bit of sun, warmth and getting my first photos at an iconic location, Randys Donuts.
From Artistic 2013
But the reason I was here was to get photos like this:
From LAX Spotting 2013
Where else can you get planes flying through a donut? January was also Australia Day back home, and over here it meant my friends having some fun with that by taking me to Outback Steakhouse for a true "Aussie" experience. While it was far from being authentic it was still a fun night. February February was the month of my first Superbowl here in the USA and a friend came to visit me that weekend, though I didn't go out to any Superbowl parties, I did get to enjoy it on my couch, in real time, with the ads. A REAL american experience! My biggest fun memory from February was over Presidents Day weekend, my first Aviation Geek Fest, I was looking forward to it so much and after helping to organise it along with David and Sandy, it was going to be a big weekend. It was fun and I had a blast and I can't wait for next year to do it all over again.
From Aviation Geek Fest 2013
From Aviation Geek Fest 2013
March More work in march and the second half of my mileage running but the first dumping of snow in Seattle I was to ever experience was pretty much my biggest memory from this month
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
Pretty amazing yet scary experience for me at the same time April In April I headed home to Australia for a wedding and it was great to catch up with my friends. I also got to experience my first real First Class flights and that was truly a memory I will never forget.
From Wedding Time Down Under
From Wedding Time Down Under
From Wedding Time Down Under
From Wedding Time Down Under
From Wedding Time Down Under
May In May I had my first experience of a Road Trip in the truck on my own when I drove down to Portland for a weekend and I also travelled out to New York for Memorial Day to do some stuff with Delta but to mainly try Cathay First Class. The big ticket item that month was the Paine Field Aviation Day. I smashed my time in the Annual Fly Day 5k and set a new 5K PB, which I was super happy with (though it lead to a very bad memory in the end) and I had a blast with my friends watching the good stuff in the air that day.
From PDX Road Trip
From PFAD 2013
From Memorial Day Firsts
June Well, June was truly epic. Barely days after getting home from New York for the long weekend I was off again, this time for what was to me an amazing trip, one that I loved every second of. I flew to Hong Kong as part of the ANA Ambassador program to help promote the resumption of 787 services to North America. I had the most amazing time and I blogged heavily about it but here are a couple of photos of my favourite memories. I met some amazing people, did some amazing things I will never truly forget.
From ANA Ambassador Spotting & Artistic
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But June was not totally a good memory. It was also the start of my toughest struggle. In Hong Kong while running along the waterfront, I strained my peraformis muscle. My first major injury ever, it made life very tough for me. I slumped into a bit of a depression and still battle with the after affects today. But it is moments like this that make us stronger, make us look at our selves and realise what we love and what we do in life. Though not a fun memory, it is a memory I will not forget from 2013

Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     The trip is all done and dusted. It was a total blast. I would have to say probably one of my best trips to date. It wasn't about visiting friends or family or anything like that. It was the experiences that made this trip unique. Flying Business Class with ANA was great and I totally enjoyed it, but the once in a lifetime experiences made this journey amazing. I doubt I will ever have something as special again. Let's break down the journey for a bit of a summation: Southwest: It's good for what it is. It gets you from A to B, effectively and efficiently. The service was ok, the seats were ok. The free seating was a bit different but I can manage that. All in all I can't really complain. Fairfield Inn & Suites San Jose Airport: Pretty nice hotel for what I paid for it ($44+tax). For a quick overnight stop it fulfilled all my usual requirements in an airport hotel. Shuttle on site, clean, comfortable, non hotel food options close by, a good gym (or somewhere to run). The breakfast at the hotel, though lacking decent fruit options, was pretty good. The renovations they had been through made it spick and span and I did like it. I would definitely return! All Nippon Airways: I won't break down each invidiual flight but I will just say outright, they still are great. I last flew them back in 2011, when I flew around the world. I flew them from London to Narita and that flight was fantastic. I still think they are a fantastic airline. The service I received on my flights was great (albeit at times with a language barrier) and the food was good. The Japanese meals are still only really all that good out of Japan (and my contact at ANA agrees with this point) so that is one thing to be mindful of for those lovers of Japanese cuisine. The Seats are good. I really did like the new "Business Cradle" seat for short duration flights and the "Business Staggered" is good, albeit felt a little bit smaller on the 787 vs the 777. The older business though still comfortable, was definitely a product that would be eventually phased out (hopefully). The 787 is not a scary aircraft and you can feel the differences with the cabin environment after you step off the 787 and get onto a different aircraft, it is not till then that all the changes are noticeable. I would not hesitate in any way to fly on a 787. Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong: Wow... just WOW! What a hotel. I don't know if I could ever afford to stay there on my own dime, but this experience showed that they are worth the money in my opinion. The service, the food, the room, everything was just downright perfect. Nothing was ever to much for the staff and the service levels represented that. All the fun we had at the hotel with the Dim Sum class, the spa treatments, the heli ride etc were amazing and it was a great second visit to Hong Kong for me. I wondered to myself just what I would do in Hong Kong a second time around originally, I am glad I didn't have to decide because I don't think I would of done some of these things but they were fun and I had a blast. After travelling 14,303 miles on this trip, it is good to be back to earth, back to reality, but now comes the daunting task of writing up all the articles and then the even scarier thought. Can I top this trip?
Map of my journey on the ANA Ambassador Trip

Map of my journey on the ANA Ambassador Trip

ANA Ambassador

Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     Getting down the steps at Narita Airport heading towards the bus allowed the best views of the aircraft around us and also meant that I was technically touching Japanese soil again! This time though I would sadly not get to stay and there was no 787 in my future. *sigh* I did what any true Avgeek would do and I jumped onboard the bus with my camera out and tried to get as many photos as I could!
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The bus soon got way to crowded... way way way to crowded and after a little while it finally started to move on our mini ramp tour past the cargo gates where we pulled up, towards the Skyteam Pier at Terminal 2, where we would be dropped off just around the central point. Before getting off I noticed a special livery at the other end of the Terminal with a brief glimpse of a flower on an Aircraft and figuring that makes it something worth getting a photo of. I had one mission during my brief layover in Narita. Kit Kats! So this time my frankness towards others wasn’t because I was hungry it was because I wanted to get as much done as possible and get it over and done with quickly! I was in search of Wasabi kit kats but the first hurdle was security.
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Seurity was excrutiatingly slow and Nao who had been behind us in the security queue had actually beat us to the exit. Dammit!!! They did the dumbest things and asked the silliest questions that made no sense and they repeated them over and over again for some reason. Meh whatever! Once we were through security and on the other side of the glass barrier my first job was to secure my belongings safely (which I did) and then it was to get the WiFi going on my phone. But I did need to find out where I was going though at some stage. This was possible as there were banks of monitors directly outside the entrance and the funny thing was that as soon as we got to the monitor it flicked to Japanese from english for a bit. DOH! Once we got our gate info it was off in search of Kit Kats but what did we see first. Hello Kitty!!
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One of the Eva Airways A330s that is painted in the Hello Kitty livery was just pushing back out of the terminal as we got there. Lots of photos and a couple of tweets later and I was hitting up the duty free shops trying to find the kit kats I wanted. Most of the places only had 3 flavours. Matcha, Sakura & Strawberry (these were the predicted flavours that I had been told) though I was adamant there would be wasabi somewhere. The majority of stores were only selling boxes of 10 for 1500 Yen all of the same flavour but I didn't want that. I didn't even really want 10 packets either. So I sucked it up and got on with the hunt. There was plenty of places to shop at.
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I tried asking at a couple of them to see if they knew of anyone who might have it and I did get a tip off which was entirely accurate. Awesome! So with some kit kats in hand I was still hunting Wasabi flavoured and I had plenty of time to be able to find them but it meant I could not dawdle so I was walking as fast as I could through the terminal with all my gear. I managed to cover almost the entirety of the Star Alliance side of Terminal but by the end of the search I was wasabi kit kat empty but still had enough to keep most people happy. With a good portion of Yen leftover I could even get a couple of models from the flight home!
From ANA Ambassador
I left the search and head over to the Lounge but went to the wrong one first (though they did have a giant 787 in Star Alliance livery at the door) and headed back over to the lounge closest to the gates I needed to be at.
From ANA Ambassador
The lounge was pumping as it was the same time as we landed last time with the US bound flights departing, flights coming in from all over Asia so it was tough to find a seat. I was also trying to get one of two things for my flight. Either a seat in rows 1 or 2 or a blocked seat next to me. After getting nowhere with one staff member I gave up and headed elsewhere but she was there to block me off at the pass so that didn't happen but I was assured the seat next to mine was blocked. So that was at least something.
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I didn't do to much in the lounge other than scarf down the cookies and the sushi the same as last time and just before I was about to walk out the lounge i was in the middle of grabbing a yoghurt (thinking I had time to eat it... I didn't) and I hear a “What the hell are you doing here”. It was one of the fellow travellers who had flown out from SJC on the 787 with us and he had been staying in Tokyo for what was the same time as we were in Hong Kong. It was funny because out of the Avgeeks who went over to Tokyo, he was the only one going back on the same flight. All of us were returning on different flights. Nao was off to Los Angeles, Jason to New York and me home to Seattle. I bid my farewells and wished him a safe flight and scurried back to my gear before heading off to the gate to try my luck again at a seat.
From ANA Ambassador
From ANA Ambassador
All Nippon Airways - NH1078 Tokyo Narita to Seattle Tacoma 1725-1055 Boeing 777-300ER (JA781A) Business Class: Seat 3A Boarding: 1658 (Gate 51) Push Back: 1732 Take Off Roll: 1800 (Runway 16R) Top of Descent: 1000 Touch Down: 1018 (Runway 34L) Shut Down: 1027 (Gate S11) I was sweet out of luck and this time they explained that the seats in Rows 1 and 2 on this aircraft are only for the very top tier elites of ANA Mileage Club and if you are not one of them then you don’t sit anywhere there at all. So if there are none on the flight, then no one sits there. As soon as I was told this I was ushered into the queue and I was first in line! Score. Boarding was called after the Special assistance people were pre boarded. The boarding gate was pretty empty so I had a feeling this flight was going to be fairly light on people. Which would be interesting at least.
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I was escorted to board by one of the cuter gate staff and soon was thanked for flying ANA and pointed in the direction of the aircraft. I was first onboard and when I got to my seat I could see the First class seats just the other side of the curtain. I figured one last chance to get a seat up there and asked the cabin crew who said they would see and come back to me. They couldn't do it so it was my seat that I was stuck in. What I did not realise up till now was that in the mini cabin I was in of 2 rows of Business there was only a total of 2 of us!
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Loads were super light and again we boarded quickly but pushed back way late. It’s funny the way this seems to happen but in places like Narita and Hong Kong the schedules are super padded because of the taxi time on the ground because the airports are just so huge! By the time we pushed back I was hoping that the special scheme I had seen just before leaving the lounge was still going to be there and thankfully it was. I had scored another special on this trip! It was the ANA panda! I managed to get a nice picture out of the dozen I took as we were taxied backwards out of the horseshoe area we were in.
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By the time we had finally got underway I was starting to get tired but was happily snapping away at all the good stuff we passed, again missing an aeroflot but the best few shots were as we got closer to the runway. There was a JAL 787 in line for take off (probably heading to either Singapore or Boston) and it was fun timing the Beacon as usual (still possible even with my little camera) and a nice long line of ANA behind us (missed the shot of the ANA Dash 8).
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When it was our turn for take off the roar of the GE90s was great and we were airborne much earlier than I expected to be and within 10 minutes we were well out of Japanese waters. Past Narita and climbing to cruise altitude. There was so many crew on this flight so little amount of people that I felt like I had a first class service anyway! I deferred my meal for a couple of hours and had a chat with one of the crew about Kit Kats while I was sorting stuff out and then got stuck into some work.
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From ANA Ambassador
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From ANA Ambassador
This is where this flight gets super boring. All I did was either work or eat. Nothing eventful was happening as most of the other passengers ate as soon as they could and tried to get to sleep. I never sleep anyway and considering we would be touching down around 10 or 11 it meant I might as well just suck it up and stay awake. The flight time looked much shorter than it should have been (probably due to tail winds) and the time flew by.
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I was fawned over by the staff even before my meal service as I was offered drinks and snacks constantly. they were always there to make sure I was looked over. So although this was the older business seat, I still had phenomenal service! I couldn't believe the luck I was having. Almost a private cabin with staff waiting on me hand and foot.
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I had pushed back my dinner till around 8pm Japan time and then figured I would wind down my work about 15 minutes before that, borrow some pyjamas and then sit back and relax for my meal and then get back to work after that. Just before the meal the duty free was offered and I used up all the remaining Yen I had from my leftover HKD and had to throw in 1 USD to get what I wanted. So be it!
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Dinner was served!!! This was the meal I had really been looking forward to. I had never flown ANA long haul out of Japan till now. I had flown into Japan and flown short haul out of Japan but never the longer US flights departing. I was reassured that the Japanese meal out of Narita was the option so that is what I went with! All I can say is WOW! I had no real idea what order to eat it all in. All I know is that it was damn tasty!
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From ANA Ambassador
I ate the meal in the lonely cabin as it was darkened by then so people could sleep. Stuff it! The Amouse Bouche was tasty, the starters all amazing and the main just freaking good. I had never really enjoyed eel till now! if I could get it like that at home, I would take it! I was going to enjoy this flight as after this weekend it is into training mode, trying to get my leg fixed and back to running full speed again!
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Cheese and fruit came before dessert and the parfaits they serve out of Japan are indeed yummy. The fresh coffee I was served with it was followed by several cups and I was fully satisfied. The meal had gone so well I didn't realise the movie I was watching was almost over and I just went back to working and watched the time roll by. The trip report getting more and more finished the longer the time went on. I got up a couple of times to keep myself awake and to grab a drink from the mini bar set up they had, but other than that I worked in silence.
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As we started to track past the Alaskan coast way off in the distance the crew I think were getting a little bored as they came up to me to check on me a few times just in case I needed anything. Awfully nice of them! With such an empty flight they probably wanted something to do. I figured I would eat my pre arrival meal about 2 hours or so out as they shut it all off about 90 minutes out. I was going to skip the meals they had on offer and instead go for 2 of the snacks Ramen and the “cheese burger” just to see what they are like.
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First up though I would get my stuff sorted out as I had what looked like a trail of destruction at my seat and to pack away the laptop as I had been working on it by then for almost 6 hours! With my mess all cleaned up and out of the way, I asked for the ramen which was a signature item from a very famous outlet in Japan. It came out pretty soon after and damn was it good! I loved it! Though the bowl was not that big it was perfect snack size and had it been a much longer flight, It would have been perfect for a mid flight snack.
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The burger though... hrmmmm. The bacon was floppy (best way to describe it), the bun though was perfectly soft and a good snack size burger. It looked so much like you would expect a fast food burger to look. The kicker that made it unique was that it was served with Tartare Sauce. Yep I made sure to try it in case it was a Japanese thing and it wasn’t half bad. Almost like Mayo but that little bit of extra tang. Kind of made it pretty tasty!
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Soon after this I started to watch the world go by and read my book a bit. One of the crew came around to offer me something else from the menu and I gave in and ordered some ice cream! What the hell! It was rock solid so I let it sit there and melt as much as possible. The ice cream did eventually melt enough that I could try and eat it.
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As we started to get closer to that hour time frame and I needed to put my ear plugs in anyway, I set about getting back into my civvies. The Pyjamas on ANA were so good! I wanted to keep them so badly. I even asked but they again said no 🙁 I wish I could find a way to get a pair. They are extremely comfortable! After settling back into my seat and packing up all my gear I was sitting there watching out the window and next thing I know I am drifting in and out. This was not a good thing!
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I woke up somewhere in final descent over Everett/Mt Vernon and pretty soon out the window I could see Lake Washington. Totally missed the top of the descent and the seat belt signs going on. Crazy! The cabin crew returned my jacket and soon enough we were tracking for final approach into SeaTac. We were heading into the 34s and I was expecting to land on 34R since it was where the heavies usually land. Not today though we ended up on 34L and that meant a nice long taxi back to the gates.
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Even though it had been an amazing flight, I was happy to be home, yet I didn’t want it to end. The crew had been so good! One thing I was looking forward to was just how good it would be to clear immigration at Seattle. The flight home had been pretty empty with only 12 in Business and I asked the Chief Cabin Crew member, when I was speaking with her at the end of the flight, and she said there was only 60 people total!
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We had pulled up at the S gates (which is where the immigration facilities are) and it was a quick offload and I was last out of the forward J cabin. But this meant that I was 5th off the aircraft! Can’t complain about that. Immigration was empty and the only people ahead of me were the other Japanese men from the flight ahead of me. Easy as! I waited longer at the immigration desk than I did in line to get to the desk. They asked me what “food” i had brought in and rather than explain the kit kats, I just pulled them out of the bag. It got weird looks and when I got to customs after my bag came out (mere moments after arriving) I got the same weird looks. Love it!
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I missed the train from the S gates since I couldn’t really run, but the next one was a minute or two after it luckily. Off the train, up the escalators and since I already had my bag in tow, I was straight up to the parking shuttle point. Plane to parking garage in 30 minutes. Freaking WIN!!! Normally its that off a domestic flight, off International that is unreal! Pretty soon I was at Wally Park picking up the truck and then before leaving I spied one last special shot. Star Alliance United 737 sitting at one of the A gates right next to the parking garage. Good way to end what had been a fantastic journey!
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Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     Wednesday 5th June 2013 It was going to be an early morning today. Trying to get myself back to reality meant a work out before the flight at least and that meant I had to make sacrifices. I couldn’t sleep all to well, not sure why so a bit earlier than I had planned (even with the workout) I tried to head outside for a run. I figured if I couldn’t get up to speed I would hit up the ATM close by to get rid of the last of my HKD off my card. Fail on both counts as the ATM kept spitting back my card and I couldn’t run even to the end of the driveway of the hotel without pain. So that meant it was back to the hotel gym again. 10km ride complete, some burpees and some push ups and I was all good. I decided to test out a little facet that the hotel had mentioned the night before. The rooms were apparently sound proof and with an amazing stereo, it was worth a try. The rooms at the hotel are all controlled by an android based system by 3 tablets, a billion small tablets mounted around the room and they all controlled every little feature you could think of. The stereo was linked into the sound system in the bathroom as well and the two systems were indepedant of each other. One in the bedroom and one in the bathroom. So you could have Trance in the living room and news in the bathroom, all at once. While getting myself dressed and packing things up quickly, I had cranked the sound in the living room on some Trance from last.fm in Amsterdaam and then had the same running in the bathroom (though the bathroom was a few seconds later than the main bedroom). The sound...incredible! I pity the room next door 😉 I made sure my bag was packed and then I headed down to the lobby a few minutes before my ride to the airport was due to go. I checked out and waited a few minutes, using the last remants of the hotel WiFi before all 3 of us were ready to go (Nao, Jason & myself) and we headed outside to the driveway to get moving again. One last bit of Peninsula Hospitality though, it was off to the airport in the Phantom!
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This time it was a different one to the first so I am now 2 down and 12 to go on that list 😉 The ride was awesome, I tweeted a few times, got a couple of photos but most of all I relaxed into the journey. I was starving though as I did not have time to grab breakfast thanks to the gym not opening till 6am and our departure time of 730. O well! Pretty soon we were dropped off at the hotel and another Peninsula staff member was waiting for us as we pulled up. He took our suitcases (although this time the distance was extremely short from the driveway to check in) and I was in the Business class queue.
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The line just did not move and eventually I was beckoned over to the Economy queue. They had me filling in paperwork with my address for some reason as they thought I needed an ESTA and even with my assurances I did not, they still made me fill it out. I did as instructed and after having to head over to the ticketing desk to grab a ticket wallet (since it was a bit easier to carry the mountains of boarding passes etc that way), it was off to immigration. I saw a currency exchange and tried to fix up my HKD issue, still no deal they would not do it and the ATM line was huge. So it was immigration time.
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We had about an hour till boarding and at Hong Kong airport that isn’t much time really. The airport is just so freaking huge! We cleared security and immigration and as I was hungry and rushed, I was getting into old habits. Rushed and Hungry mal means frustrated and little things cause me to get a bit shitty. I took it out on Jason a little bit as he had no idea where to go (but neither did I for certain things) my job right then was to find an ATM and sort the money situation out. So I said I would meet him at the lounge and I would be there as soon as I could.
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I really wanted to check out the Thai Lounge but we were invited to the United Lounge but these were way out in the middle of the pier, where as right then I was just past immigration in the main concourse. So I went in search of an ATM, but again, giant line. So I figured I would give the hunt a bit of an easier time and go out to the middle of the pier since I was wasting time wandering around trying to find one. I hot footed it to the train and out we sped to the middle of the pier. Once off the train and moving as fast as I could back to the concourse, I went off in search of an ATM again and this time as I passed the lounges I made a mental note of where to go and then out of no where I found the atm. Money issue resolved, next stop currency exchange. I got that done and as I stepped away from the currency exchange I found Jason, wandering about having no idea where he was or where he was going. So we went off to the Thai Lounge which was funnily enough directly above where we stood. Good enough for me! I was still pretty shirty as again the time was running out quickly and I just wanted to sort things out as I had stuff everywhere in pockets after immigration and security and I wanted to get myself sorted, and get some breakfast, and I still needed to tweet and do other things. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to get my ass handed to me for not doing things I should of been. the Thai lounge was nice, though small. The food offerings were not as extensive as the hotel buffet or as other lounges, but much better than what the United Club probably had to offer.
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I grabbed some toast and a banana and some raisins and tried to get some breakfast into me along with some water. I figured the easiest thing to do at that moment was to just get what I could into my system and try and relax on the flight. Stuff emails or whatever, deal with that when you next get a chance. So I got what food I could into my system as quickly as possible and we headed off to the gate which was a good 5-10 minute walk away.
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The gate wasn't all that busy but people were already lining up and within 5 minutes we had to join the lines or it would be days before we could get onboard. It was into the lines we went and had to wait there to make sure we could get onboard in a timely fashion. The boarding time came and went. In the line we stood and I soon figured out why my phone was having issues. The Hong Kong sim was out of money!! woops! Thank god for free airport wifi.
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All Nippon Airways - NH912 (Operated by Air Japan) Hong Kong to Tokyo Narita 0940-1500 Boeing 767-300ER (JA619A) Business Class - Seat 2K Boarding: 0919 (Gate 30) Push Back: 0942 Take Off Roll: 1010 (Runway 07R) Top of Descent: 1430 Touch Down: 1455 (Runway 16R) Shut Down: 1500 (Gate: Bus) Boarding was eventually called and we were let loose into the 767. The flight boarded pretty quickly and even though we were 10 minutes late boarding the flight pushed back on time. In that mean time I had settled into my seat and tried sorting out a lot of my stuff for the flight, taken a few photos and just generally spread out. The crew on this flight though were absolutely stunning. every single one of them was as beautiful as the next! This was going to be a good flight!
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Funny thing was, even though they were beautiful, the crew were unique. I was not allowed to have my bag under the seat in front, instead it had to be safely secured on the seat next to me. As though it was a diplomatic pouch or something it was safely seat belted into the seat next to me. Whatever! Before leaving we had to have our meal orders taken as they said that there would be turbulence for the first hour or so of the flight and the last hour, so to make things quicker they would do the ordering on the ground. So I ordered the Western meal (it was catered out of Hong Kong so go with a western option over the japanese) and asked if I could have it about 2 hours prior to landing.
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We taxiied out of Hong Kong Airport and it took quite a long time to taxi all the way to the far side of the airport, but that is always a treat in foreign lands. Lots of things to spot and take photos of (after the crew tell me to turn off my camera that is). We passed a number of different A330s and 777s from Cathay, Dragaonair, Hong Kong Airlines and United. But then there was the rare stuff as well. Hong Kong Trader was getting some work done, Cebu Paicifc had a A320 following us. There was an SEAIR A319 in the queue and again I missed out an opportunity to get Aerflot.
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Eventually it became our turn to hit the runway and we lined up and waited for clearance (it felt like an eternity) but we eventually rotated into the sky right past the freight ramp and unfortunately I missed a good shot of a KLM Cargo. Can’t have everything. This time I had forgone my usual idea of getting the A side and instead gone for the K side of the aircraft. #FAIL! We had a departure directly over the city and had I been on my usual side I would of had a spectacular view of the city (mainly Kowloon) and the clouds were not covering that portion. Damn.
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It wasn't all that bumpy on the way out, but there was definitely a few different bumps about during the flight. I got stuck into my book, since the IFE was pretty limited and nothing was going to be of interest to me. As the drink service finally started I was informed that I should eat now as they can't guarantee they can serve me later on at all. Whatever! I did as I was told and decided to try and get as much work done before the meal showed up and then continue working afterwards.
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Drinks and snack mix were served first and it always seems like the towel and mountains of trash sit there on these flights as they just never get collected. So while I had my snack mix, I was listening to my ipod and tuning things out as we went along. The meal was served and the as the way down it was a one tray affair, but I took my time in eating it this time. I wanted to get through it, but I also didn't want to ruin the meal by scarfing it down. It was a nice meal but not all that interesting really. Maybe I should of gone the Japanese meal! Sucks to be me!
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With the meal packed up (I kept the dessert for later) and the tray was collected. The rest of the flight was seemingly spent with me having my head into my laptop writing away on the trip report to get as much of it done as possible, getting the occasional message from Jason who was further back or just looking out the window. The funniest moment though on the whole flight came when the Captain came on for his announcement. He was HILARIOUS. No idea where he was from, what he had been doing or anything like that but to be honest, he was funny++
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We cruised a long and without even realizing it, we were almost at time for descent. I got a drink of some water and they had the little tubs of ice cream (though this time smaller than the ones out of japan) and it was funny that the ice cream tasted 100% awesome no matter the size of the tub. Just as I finished that up, we were about an hour or so from descent so began the slow packing up as ANA announce their descent 45 minutes prior giving people plenty of time to get things stowed.
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We got the 45 minute warning and a few minutes after that I had everything of mine stashed away and ready for the arrival into Tokyo. The flight had gone by smoothly and there wasn't much to do at all after that. I had a bit of a read through my book and enjoyed the sights as we descended. It is flights like this that go smoothly that calm me back down and I enjoy them. The rushing about between flights never helps!
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We came into Narita over the runway I was hoping for. We were approaching right in front of the Hilton I had stayed at the last time I was in Japan and within mere seconds of passing it, we were wheels down on the ground and I heard something that other people would've hated to hear “You will be bussed to the Arrivals section of the airport”. w00t! Bus gate!!! Always good news for an Avgeek. Unless you're in a hurry, or don't like busses. What it meant for me was the ability to get up close and personal to some good unique aircraft.
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Once we were pulled up, the crew had to wait till the steps were in Position before opening the door. It wasn't as humid in Tokyo but it was nice and warm at 27C. Perfect!!! I was probably heading back to coldness so I would rather enjoy it while I could. I was off the aircraft and down the steps soon after the doors were open. Bring on the goodies!!
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Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     Tuesday 4th June 2013 If I couldn’t run this morning I was sure going to put the hotel gym to good use. I spent a solid hour in the gym doing one of my morning routines that had been slightly modified as I couldn’t even do a single shuttle run. Funnily enough I did try to get the shuttle runs going but it just was no good. My muscles were better but they were not even remotely able to get me close to anything more than a walking pace. About the best I could do was a quick walk. So I swapped out the shuttle runs with some lunges and some extra stuff. Managed to scream at myself outside a few dozen times when no one could hear me. The workout was good and since it was still early and we had plenty of time till our first morning event, I spent it being very productive in getting a whole heap of work done while remotely logged into the computer at work and by the time I was done and cleaned out some personal emails, Jason had messaged me saying he was enjoying a quiet breakfast already. So I went down and joined him. Drinking some coffee while reading my blogs and clearing them out entirely. The day had started out pretty well.
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Ahead of me that morning laid an exciting plan full of some stuff that you would never think of doing. Our first part of the morning was going to be spent doing a Dim Sum Cooking Class put on by the Peninsula, followed by a lunch in the same restaurant (possibly of what we just made) and then after lunch a hotel tour and then a chocolate class, put on by the hotel’s very own Chocolate chef. The Dim Sum class was majorly fun, lots of photos, sillyness and plenty of questions & comments by everyone. The chefs didn’t speak english, we didn’t speak chinese so one of the head waiters was our translator. The two chefs guiding our class had been making dim sum for a number of years and we learnt how to make 2 different kinds of Shrimp dumplings. I can’t wait to get the recipes and try this again back home as it was plenty of fun. I enjoyed getting back in the kitchen (as I hadn’t done it in several days) and the Chef was super impressed by my wrapping abilities for the dumpling and I got a very big thumbs up several times and lots of “that is perfect” comments.
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I was super happy to let everyone eat the dim sum as I was more there to enjoy the fun of making the dim sum and watching the whole experience of doing so. This was going to be one of the facets of one of my blog stories for the series covering these kind of things. So I was more about getting the experience than doing it for the food. Lots of photos were taken and I had the best time. After a brief restaurant & kitchen tour (the BBQ pork smelt unreal!) we headed out of the restaurant back to our rooms breifly so that we could get changed if we needed to and then it was time for lunch!
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Lunch was a chinese banquet put on by the same chefs we had just left and there was lots of dim sum goodies and 7 courses of awesomeness later it was over 🙁 I got to try a few things for the first time including Snow Fungus, Lotus seeds, Red Dates, Abalone and Pigs Neck. The most amazing thing though was the Pineapple bun. An added course and the tiny little baked bun was just beyond heavenly.
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After lunch it was as though we waddled around the hotel as we had all eaten so much. We got to see the main aspects of the hotels, a lot of the different facilities including the China Clipper lounge again. Numerous suites with amazing views (and pricetags) were shown to us. The prices for the rooms were astronomical but then you may pay a lot but your not getting nickel and dimed for the little things other hotels would charge for. We did get told that the rooms we were given would retail for $1100 USD a night! Mother of god!
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The hotel tour finished off being taken through one of the kitchens and we were deposited in the laps of the Head Chocolatier for the hotel. 18 months ago the hotel had set up an in house Chocolate shop to help craft signature goodies that could be enjoyed by everyone who stayed at the hotel. Not the first Chocolate Room I had visited but definately the smallest. Though out of that small room came some extravagent and delicate delights. The small bite sized morsels were true gifts from above. Handmade with heaps of passion by the staff as they saw it not as a job but a way to provide others with their passion and love for chocolate.
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We got a breif history of chocolate and also how chocolate is produced. Next step during the class was a chocolate tasting, getting to try the differences in percentages or origins, along with also the difference in the fillings and treats. The final part of the tasting was pairing chocolate with wine or liquors. Pearing two specific drinks (A Sparkling Red and some Armangac) with a specially designed chocolate that would help accentuae the experience and enjoyment. It was like wine/cheese pairing but on a whole other level.
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Once we were finished with the Chocolate class we had a couple of hours of free time to be able to do whatever we wanted and Jason and expressed some interest in getting a similar camera strap to mine. So after a quick google it turned out that their was a Crumpler store in Hong Kong barely 5 minutes walk from the hotel. Awesome++ So with that done we went up there dodging people and cars and buses. The hawkers were out in force as usual in TST and so many times I heard the words “Copy Watch” or “Custom suit” said to me it was funny. The funniest part of the situation was that I had already gotten a suit on the last trip and his office was barely 2 blocks from my hotel, and I desperately wanted a copy watch however the best place for that was about an hour away on the MTR and I just did not have the time or chance to get out there and get one 🙁
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After the Crumpler store visit (I resisted the temptation for anything as there was nothing uniquely Hong Kong in the store) we headed over to the Avenue of the Stars for the usual tourist photos. I got some tourist style photos but not the way you would expect them. I wanted them to be a little bit different and I think I got some of the ones I wanted.
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When this was done we didn’t have much time before our big final dinner so we had to hot foot it back to the hotel if we wanted time to shower and change. Along the way I decided to make a pit stop. Earlier in the day I had made a stop at the Shanghai Tang store in TST which is their Flagship store and I was considering one of their polo shirts. Around about $100 USD, I had enough money left to be able to get one however, I just couldn’t justify it. In the end I decided I would try and get a new lens cap for one of my camera lenses that I had been putting off for several years. The generic one I had been using never stayed on and was at risk of damaging the lens half the time. So while walking past a building I knew had a very good camera store in it, I made a quick detour. Sadly they were out of the cap I needed so I bailed out. However while speeding back to the hotel I spied another camera store and figuring “what the hell” dropped in and I was quickly served and assured they had them in stock. At first he showed me a generic one and I told him no it has to be genuine as I don’t want the same hassles again. He countered with “It cost more money”, to which i wanted to say “nooo really”. All I did was nod and say “I know” to which rather than pull a sealed one out. He proceeded to remove the exact lens that I had, and needed the cap for, off the shelf and then removed the lens cap from it. He handed me a lens cap from a brand new lens, unboxed, straight off the shelf. Who knows if I got ripped off or not but at least I know its genuine!
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I made it back to the hotel with enough time to have a super quick shower and I was still rolling my sleeves as I walked into the lift down to “The Bar”. We were to have a pre dinner drink with the hotel manager in “The Bar” though I didn’t actually get to speak to him as he was being dominated by one of the other ladies who was spending all of her time speaking to him. Instead I got to spend a bit of time getting to know the head of PR. The evenings plans were to have a progressive dinner through the hotel restaurants with some signature items at each stop. First up was an entree at “The Lobby”, then a second course at “Spring Moon”. Our main course would be at "Gaddi’s" and then the finale would be at “Felix”.
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We headed to the lobby for our first course and it was an amazing creation that started things off so well. After a good chat with some of the others in the group and getting to know them a little better, we headed up to Spring moon for a lobster course. An amazingly tender piece of lobster was given to us along with Honey Roasted Walnuts of Doom as I liked to call them as I just wanted to inhale them (I kind of resisted.... ok I ate a fair few, but not as many as I could have).
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The great thing with a progessive dinner is you get to experience all different kinds of food but for this one we got to revisit some of the restaurants we had been to. It was great. After “Spring Moon” we headed to Gaddis and rather than get in the super slow lift, I ran up the steps. Not a good idea as even though I beat them all to the top, I sadly had screwed up my leg again. Sigh. Dinner then got an even bigger chuckle as we were informed we needed jackets. I offered that I could go back to my room and get mine if needed but I was told not to worry as they could lend me one. Though the one they lent me was a good size too small. The sleeves didn't even reach my wrist.
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The main course was the head chef at Gaddi’s favourite dish. Piegon is not something I eat all that often (if ever) and I was interested in seeing what made this his favourite dish. It was tasty and lucious and moreish in so many ways. A good dish for sure! With Gaddi’s completed we headed out of the restaurant (though I did get a few photos of me in the jacket for proof) and we headed up.... all the way up to “Felix”.
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Felix is the highest restaurant in the hotel on the 28th floor. Built when the new tower was built after Kai Tak closed and the height restrictions lifted, it was not even 20 years old but you could of mistaken it for being maybe 1 or 2 years old. It was so modern and way ahead of it’s time and never been refurbished. It was penomenal. The dessert was truly a piece of art but the kicker was the view! Out one side was Kowloon, other the other Hong Kong Island. Right at that moment the sky was lighting up as a thunderstorm rolling through. Pretty amazing site! Add in the fact that the bathrooms have the most unique view from a urinal I have ever seen in my life (you pee facing out a window on the 28th floor into a urinal that looks like a bowl, and it is as though you are peeing down onto the people below). The sink was just as out there as the rest of the restaurant. One of the first ever sensor tap systems in Hong Kong it was ahead of its time for sure, but totally wacky and crazy, I had no idea where to hold my hands. I wanted to take so many photos in there but it was dark and that would of been creepy!
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After Dessert we headed down to one of the hotel bars to get a brief look but couldn’t stay long as it was Comedy night and most of us wanted some sleep anyway as it was going to be an early morning for a few of us. The amazing thing about the last two days was just how much fun it had been and shown me a side of Hong Kong I had never thought I would experience. I got to MAKE dim sum in a chinese kitchen. Learn chocolate making from a Gold Medal winning chocalatier, pee on the people of Kowloon and hover above Hong Kong harbour while taking photos of the city. Truly amazing. I packed up my stuff that night ready for the morning thinking just how lucky I was. It was going to be tough to top the last couple of days!

Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     Monday 3rd June 2013 I woke up to sun glinting in through the curtains and quickly hit the retract panel to open the first set of curtains. It was bright blue sunshine outside with barely a cloud in sight. Hell Yeah! I had (with the help of the staff the night before) worked out the way to the otherside of the road to the harbourfront so that I could run Hong Kong Harbour for my first ever run in the city. I was excited. I have run Central Park, the Thames, Kyoto, the back streets of a Normandy Township, Hiroshima, Berlin, Qatar and Sydney Harbour. I was soon going to add another one to the list. I was excited to get out and run along the Avenue of Stars, past the Bruce Lee statue, soaking in the sun (and no doubt the heat and humidity) before breakfast.
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Within minutes of emerging from my room I was in the lobby and heading towards the entrance. Waiting on the driveway as my garmin found satelites and warmed up was a little bit awkward. There was the occasional person roaming about in their finest, the page boys and hotel staff dressed so immaculately and here I was wearing running shorts, shirt and wearing my buff and sunnies..... awkward! When I was good to go, I got started and as I cleared the corner of the hotel and hit the subway (almost stacking it on the first few steps) I was good to go, at speed and in heaven. There was heat and humidity and I enjoyed the run immensly. I just kept running my way past the star ferry, along the waterfront, dodging people where I could as it was the middle of monday morning commute and it wasn’t exactly quiet and soon I was clear into the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and the Avenue of Stars. Passing other runners, people out walking, tourists taking morning sunrise photos it was awesome. The first few kilometers were good and I was soaking it all in. As I approached the last half a kilometer before I was due to turn I started to head up a long long ramp. I sucked it up and powered up but things didn’t feel good. My leg was burning (I figured it was just stiff after the flights) and pushed the pain aside, getting to the turn point, found a clear space and turned back around to head down the ramp. As I reached the bottom of the ramp, things were worse. The pain was out of my legs but moving towards the muscles around my groin. I knew what this meant. It has happened a few times in the past but it had been a solid 18 months or so since the last time. It looked like my old groin injury was flaring up. I had pushed to hard lately and this was it. The WORST possible time for me to have this flare up was this trip. Not because I was going to be in pain, but purely because it was going to limit my workouts and possibly my movements. I sucked it up hoping that it was temporary and picked up the pace a little bit to try and get me back ASAP. I got about 4.2km into my usual run and I could not go any further at speed. I could barely walk let alone run and this was not going to be good. It was REALLY painful so I stopped. The first time in over 2 years I had stopped in the middle of a run, before my 5k point. Even in driving snow or rain had I pushed through the pain or discomfort to get me through my 5k run. Not this time unfortunately. I decided to try and stretch it out a little to see if that could let me pick up the pace to get back to the hotel as I was still not close to the hotel (on the route, in a straight line I was maybe 100m away). It didn’t help that much so figured I would try and push through the pain to get me back. Yeah nope! I could not get up to speed at all not even how hard I tried. It SUCKED! I was floored. I did not want this to happen right now. So I walked as fast as I could to finish off the 5k and headed for the hotel. I would just have to deal with it. I got back to the hotel in a bit of pain and drenched in sweat from the humidity outside I stopped by the gym on the way back to my room to check it out. After cleaning up and laying out all my things since I hadn’t done anything apart from unpacking my running gear the night before, I set about exploring the room some more. I found the coffee machine and there was much goodness to be found in that room. I set about catching up with life, since it was still Sunday back in the USA there was no point remoting into work as my inbox would be fairly empty still. Instead I caught up on emails, blogs, wrote a blog post as well and headed down to breakfast.
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Breakfast was spent consuming as much coffee as possible while trying not to be obvious that I was sitting next to someone I thought was a celebrity. Not sure but I think was sitting next to an Iron Chef (American one that is) and the coffee flowed from elegant silverware and china while I looked like a wierdo working away in the middle of a restaurant.
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After consuming breakfast and being joined by a few others eventually I headed back to the room to drop my stuff off and swap a few things out and head for the spa. We were told we had to be at the spa an hour before our scheduled appointment to begin our “Heat Experience”, whatever that meant. All I knew was it was good timing to get a massage! I was hoping it could do me some good!
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There was one or two final tweets before we left the Spa reception. It was not as if I was going to be able to use my phone from the Spa itself and meant a few hours of solitude. something I was kind of looking forward to. The spa was going to be interesting. I had no idea what to expect, nor what was going to happen. All I knew was I was here for the next 3 hours. As long as I could get them to focus on my leg it would all be ok. I was shown the spa facilities by one of the staff who then handed me a locker room key, told me to change into the robe and “disposable underwear” provided and I could then head back to Spa Reception.
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The receptionist then took us up for our “Heat Experience” prior to our time in the spa itself. This was time to go from the Steam Room, to a special mint scented shower/mister and then into the Sauna for some dry heat. This was pretty awesome and a good way to start things off. After all of this (usually about 25 minutes or so) we could then emerge from this area and head into the “Relaxation Suite” with its brialliant harbour view and there we could rest up (not that it was strenuous yet) before our treatment. I was soon collected by my therapist “Candy” who was a pint sized asian woman. She was very pretty and what I would soon found out to be extremely strong! She sure did know how to pack a punch when it came to working my muscles. She may have looked small but she sure could get some pressure on your muscles. I had let know about the injury and she said she will do what she can to try and fix it. So I ended up deciding on a Facial with Neck, Shoulder and Head massage for an hour then also a body massage for an hour with a focus on my lower back and upper legs/thighs to fix up some of my running issues. The treatment was great, exactly what I needed at that moment. The facial made me look just wierd with some of the stuff they had put in my hair which it seemed when I emerged that a few others had the same experience as Jason’s hair was puffy as hell, but Deborah looked like she had just woken up. Funny++
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After getting changed back into my civvies I headed quickly up to my room to grab my camera and fix up a few things so that I could prep for lunch and the afternoons activities. As I ventured out of the Spa I was handed my Hong Kong Sim Card that a friend had dropped at the hotel a week or so prior, and i quickly set about getting this set up. Our lunch was an amazing reduced course feast in the First ever French Fine Dining restaurant in Hong Kong. Gaddi’s at the Peninsula is extremely popular place and we were wined and dined on a special menu designed by the head chef (who is French of course) who personally met us during lunch and explained to us, so much about him and his passion and the food etc. The amazing experiences just kept on coming! There was furious tweets and photos being taken. I was having a blast now that I had figured out all my phone dramas.
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The lunch was amazing but it was what was set to follow that had my excited. We were escorted from the restaurant back to the 27th floor, where we were to change over to another lift (a very very tiny lift) to head up to the “China Clipper Lounge” on the very top of the hotel. We were heading to an amazing venue that would make any Avgeek drool.
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The China Clipper lounge is the pre boarding airline lounge for the Helicopter company based at the Peninsula. An amazing place filled with aviation memorabilia, mementos and what would equate to a museum if it not for the fact this was a private lounge on top of a hotel, and the only hotel in Hong Kong with a helipad on its roof. Not one pad but TWO! I was in heaven and snapping away for the story I was going to write and the views were spectacular. I was hoping I could do this place justice. Pretty soon I had to stop taking photos and pay attention to our safety video (no stunning beautiful flight attendant this time, just our Pilot Ben and the ground staff in an orange jumpsuit). Damn.
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It was still amazing and we reached the roof where more photos were taken, of the helicopter, the view, the helicopter, the view, the helipad, just about anything! I was super excited. Jason had the front seat, I had the rear left, the other 3 ladies crammed along the rest of the back seat and we sealed up, started up and soon we were cleared off the pad to circuit Hong Kong Island. Our little AS355N Twin Squirrel handled the flight really well and we circuited the city after our backwards take off.
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I took several hundred photos of so much stuff from the Air, getting some great shots of the hotel, Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, The Peak, Ocean Park but the best few experiences were as we turned back towards Kowloon for the end of our flight. As we approached the old Kai Tak airport site, the pilot gave us a little bit of an old straight in approach to Kai Tak’s runway and even did a nice slow turn to the left so I could get some nice clear photos. Then to show off, we headed back over towards Kowloon harbour above the star ferry pier. He was getting ready to line us up to “Shoot the Duck Approach” over the giant inflatable rubber duck moored next to the Star Ferry pier, and land onto the hotel. But first he decided to HOVER the helicopter above Hong Kong harbour. We were pretty much hovering at 6 knots ground speed right above the rubber duck. Amazing experience.
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The flight was soon coming to an end as we “Shot the Duck” into the roof of the Peninsula and then it was back to earth and reality. I had a giant grin on my face and couldn’t of cared about anything right then. We were ushered off the pad quickly to allow the next group of people to take their flight over the city and we were moments away from a lift ride back to the main part of the hotel, and down to the lobby. Sadly the fun was over 🙁
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As we came back down the lifts, back to reality I was still grinning ear to ear and trying to tweet and catch up where I could. We were taken back to the lobby to skip the giant lines that had formed, meet the head of PR for the Peninsula and enjoy that famous Peninsula tradition of Afternoon Tea. When I first saw this had been added to our revised itinerary (one that was given to us as we left the spa) I had one thing on my mind. SCONES! Proper British scones. None of this Seppo (American) scone BS. It was going to be pure unadulterated baked goodness, covered in real clotted cream and strawberry jam. I couldn't care less about anything else on those tiers. I just wanted the scones.
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We enjoyed Afternoon tea (and I had a good 3 or 4 scones, both plain and “Fruit” (really just Sultana.... my favourite). Lashing of clotted cream, jam, the occasional other treat from the tier and right then and their, I said to myself. If for nothing else today, I would behave myself just because I got to enjoy those amazingly good scones. The brits sure did pass on one right thing to Hong Kong before they got kicked out.
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After “Tea Time” was finished we had some free time to which I found the coffee machine in my room, decided to call home from the free VOIP calls from the room (a feature I was told about that day with exclamations of “Didn’t they tell you that when you got to your room?”) and was rudely interrupted during the phone call by a knock at the door. I let mum and dad go (they were to busy making fun of my injury with suggestions I get accupuncture or perhaps some chinese medicine.. funny /sarcasm) and at the door was a man holding a plate of Macaroons to which he simply said “These are for you Mr Muir”, scurried in to drop them on the table and then ran out. I was shocked.
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After our brief interlude of some normalcy we were given the rest of the evening off to our own devices, but no need to walk if we didn't want. We were to be provided with one of the hotel’s 2 Mini Clubmans to take us wherever we wanted to go. It was getting late so with night time approaching I developed a plan with Jason. Get up to the Peak, get some amazing photos. Take him to Hong Kong Station in the middle of Central so he can see just how amazing that station is. Walk over to the Star Ferry to get that over the harbour and then hop the MTR up to Mong Kok for a bit of street food, night market shopping and then back to the hotel.
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It went off pretty well and the drive up to the top of the Peak though long was exciting from the back of the mini and then lots of photos before hurrying back down the mountain to Hong Kong station where we let the driver go and Jason and I headed off to explore. Jason loves subway stations and I wanted to blow his mind with the size of Hong Kong station to which we got absolutely lost a bit and then I hobbled off out of the building towards the Star Ferry.
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We missed a ferry as it left just mere moments after we got there, I was trying to hobble rush towards the ferry but sadly there was no way in hell I was going to make it, so although Jason had decided to not even try to run, in my “rush” to get there, I had missed taking a lot of good photos *sigh*. We waited with the crowds for the next one and then we headed off on the short 10 minutes across the harbour for our hard earned $2.50 HKD (around 20-30c USD). During our wait for the ferry and the ferry ride over, we had tried to develop our plans for some food. I figured my friends tips from Foursquare (something he always used) would be the way to go. I was just scrolling through them (a lot of them were which were the best starbucks in Hong Kong) and then one single word caught my eye. Goose. I so badly wanted Roast Goose. Jason was up for the plan so we went with it.
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After getting off the Star Ferry and taking a quick photo of the crowds swarming around the Rubber Duck, we made a breif pit stop at the hotel to change out a few things/bathroom break. With that complete, we ended up picking up Nao from ANA who joined us for the evening once we mentioned the words “Goose”. Down into the depths of the city we ventured to the MTR Station below the Peninsula and then it was 3 stops north to Mong Kok. Let the random adventures begin!
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Once in Mong Kok my phone made its final death nells on the battery so it meant that my leading the navigation was not going to happen and it was up to Jason to try and take over. We found our way eventually to the small whole in the wall place that was full of locals and not a tourist in sight! Mind you it took us a while to try and find it with lots of “which street is this?”, “what way are we facing?”, “Are we going the right way?”, “Let me take a look at that”, or “Is this it?”. When we got there it was funny because there was not a single person it seemed that spoke english and none of us spoke any Cantonese. This was going to be fun!
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We managed to order once they realized we didn't speak any Chinese and they bought us a menu that had English on it. It was funny all the same, it would make for a funny story right? Three Aviation people on the streets of a foreign city, not having a clue about any of what we were about to eat and hope and pray we understood. Jason and I went with Roast Goose on Rice, Nao went with Chicken Rice and I got some vegies to at least pretend I was being healthy.
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The food came out Super Fast and although the service was non existent (communication issues no doubt) it looked DAMN tasty! It wasn’t super huge portions, but then for 34 HKD (about 4-5USD), it was still an absolute steal! The vegies were more expensive than the goose and to be honest I didn’t care as I just wanted some vegetable intake. They were tasty but the goose... wow!!! Sublime. It wasn’t like duck and it wasn’t like chicken. Kind of a mixture of them both. The Goose had the texture of chicken but the fattiness of duck. Served on the rice it was super simple but It was amazing! We had some help from the people next to us when Jason and Nao wanted some napkins as the Hong Kong way is you have to bring your own for most places (I had forgotten this tid bit till the people reminded us) and they kindly provided a tissue for the two of them. Me I just licked my fingers clean!
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After dinner Nao headed back to the hotel while Jason and I headed into the Ladies Market for some haggling. I was searching for some shirts and some belts (I just love the belt buckles they have in Hong Kong, I have not seem them anywhere else) and ended up also haggling for some headphones. Jason also did the same and I ended up half haggling for him and you should of seen the ladies face when I took her starting figure. Halved it and dropped it by twenty (she wanted 200, I counterbid 90) Hong Kong Dollars. Priceless!
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We both walked away pretty content with the nights purchases me 3 shirts, 2 belts and a pair of headphones while Jason just some headphones. Back to the station as it was now approaching pretty late and we had another full day ahead of us tomorrow. As we headed out of the TST station towards the hotel I spied a cream puff stand. $19HKD for a giant Beard Papa style cream puff. The one I grabbed was a Pomelo, Mango, Sago flavour as it sounded totally wierd and unique. I enjoyed this back in the room at the hotel with the Macaroons and called it a night.
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Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     After clearing customs at Hong Kong Airport our In airport staff member handed us over to the representative from the Peninsula that was waiting for us just on the other side. It seemed that the Peninsula staff are not allowed airside (even though they do the catering for some of the airport lounges).
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With the handover came the reconfirmation of which way to go and it was a flash back to be back in Hong Kong Airport. My brain was starting to crash out and I was REALLY wanting to just get some rest but I also wanted to see what was taking us into the city. All we had been told was that we were being met at the Airport and “transported” to the hotel. Part of me expected that this would be on a mini bus considering there was 6 of us. Part of me figured it might be a standard coach transfer with other people maybe... but deep down, way deep down, a burning desire wanted the Phantom. The Peninsula owns a fleet of 14 Rolls Royce Phantoms, 2 Mini Clubmans and 1 Vintage Rolls Royce.
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As we headed towards the “Limosuine Lounge” as the airport called the pick up area, we were directed to use the bathrooms prior to leaving as it was a 30 minute ride to the city at that time of night and the funny thing was at any window, we kept looking for the Rolls. I mistook a few S Class Mercedes as Rolls’ and had declared I had seen 3 of them for us! Fail! After everyone was refreshed and ready to go the driver confirmed to us that our vehicles were loaded and ready to depart (not that we had touched our bags much since getting off the flight) and we headed towards the exit. The vehicles that awaited us outside the door were everyone’s dream come true. Two Green Rolls Royce Phantoms, with their suicide doors open and awaiting us. Photos were flooding out from the last remnants of the Airport Wifi and then the escort said the most amazing thing to us, “Just ask the driver for the WiFi password once you leave the terminal” O M G. A WiFi equipped car. I am in heaven.
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I joined Jason in the back seat while Deborah took the front and it was off to the city we went. As we headed out we got the WiFi password which took me all of 3 seconds to work out the meaning (its the year the hotel was founded) and the funny thing was the access point was the Registration of the vehicle. It is funny what the small things mean. We cruised towards the city and the WiFi was chugging purely because all of us were smashing it hard. Photos, tweets, video, whatever we could do, it was getting sent out. It is funny to think that had we not been able to tweet I probably would of fallen asleep. We had to take it in turns to try and tweet out photos.
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The ride inside was so comfortable, there was even a fridge for the water bottles that were everywhere. Almost a dozen small bottles of evian, soft gentle music coming from the stereo, wood and leather everywhere. It was like sheer perfection. I wanted to never leave the car. We passed bridge and tunnel and each time Jason was dumbfounded, he was so distracted. Me, I just wanted my phone to work cause it was giving me hassles (something that seemingly did not end for most of the trip actually).
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We pulled into Kowloon and sights started to look familiar. We passed the elements mall and that was still looking like the whole area was still under construction, like it had when I was last there. Pretty soon we were pulling into TST and the hotel. Our ride was coming to an end but this was where the true test of a good hotel comes into account. If your travelling to a hotel in their car, you would expect that once you arrive, they would know you who you are and where you are going. That your check in would be seamless, especially for a high end hotel. It was going to be a true test of just how amazing the Peninsula service was going to be, to see how they handled the arrival. The driver advised us we were “moments away from the hotel”, he was also wearing a Bluetooth headset so he could of been speaking to the hotel staff as well... who knows. Into the driveway the two Rolls Royces pulled in convoy with each other. What was awaiting us, dumbfounded me. I don’t know if it was because I had to pre-submit my photo for the press credentials before we left, but somehow as soon as I stepped out of the vehicle and got a few photos, a staff member approached me with a “Mr Muir, I hope your journey was pleasant, shall we step inside?”. WHAT THE HELL! I was dumbstruck. How the hell did she know who I was, I hadn't even spoken!!! All I could stammer was “Ok” and inside I was swept, just carrying my backpack. I didn't see my bags, I had’t seen my camera bag since the airport and I wasn't even wearing my jacket (it was damn hot anyway) and I didn't even see that anywhere.
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I was escorted through the lobby directly to a lift and a few things were pointed out to me during the walk. I was small talking while trying to take photos at the same time. A little bit difficult to do at times I assure you. Everyone was following me as I seemingly was leading the wave towards the rooms. We were escorted to the lifts and the room levels were all pressed. Floors were lighting up 19, 20, 22, 23, 25. I had no idea where I was going, I was just following my assigned staff member. The pint sized asian had full control over me and what I said and did. She could of told me drop and give her 20 and I probably would have if it meant me getting to bed quicker. As we approached the 19th floor, I heard “This is our floor Mr Muir”... I let out an “awwwwww” mainly cause everyone else was higher than me but it’s not as if I could complain. It was the 19th floor of the Peninsula Hotel... shut your pie hole Mr Muir and suck it up! As I waved goodbye and goodnight to everyone else (having no clue what I was doing other than as I was told) I followed my way into the corridor and there ahead of me was 3 more staff! All carrying something or holding something ready for my arrival. This was all so much. Stepping into my room (1911... 1928 would of been funnier) I was dumbstruck. The room was magnificent. Elegant and refined. Asian & colonial all rolled into one. It was modern yet did not lose that charm that you would expect of this hotel that stemmed back to the Colonial days of Hong Kong. The refurb sure did the hotel well.
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At this point I was dead tired, I wanted my bag so I could lay out my gear for the morning run and to get some sleep. So although I was offered to be explained everything in the room, I politely declined (plus it meant I got to play with more things on my own and explore it in my own time) and I signed my life away to the room. I was handed my room keys, some vouchers for the shopping mall, some other bits and pieces, shown one or two things and then I was left to my own devices.
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What was the first thing I did when I was left alone? I ended up taking a photo of the view from the room. Full Harbour view, I didn’t know what else to do I was so lost! I got the wifi connected up next which really was easy as hell (and free!) and then just explored some while I waited for my bags to show up and then it was as though I was a little child again, exploring each and every little bit of the room, opening draws, opening doors, looking inside panels, every nook and cranny had to be explored but there was so much in the room!
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My bags arrived and again I was asked if i needed anything, I politely declined, hit do not disturb and unpacked my running gear for the next morning. I worked out how to set the alarm in the room and hit the sack. Within minutes I was asleep for the first time since waking up in San Jose.

Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     Sunday 2nd June 2013 Touching down at Narita and disgorging into the terminal meant the end of my first ever 787 flight with ANA, but not the end of this adventure. I wasn’t turning straight back around like a crazy mileage runner, I wasn’t even spending the next 2 days in Tokyo (sadly). What I was doing was heading towards a lounge for a quick spot of work and then onwards south towards another far off Asian land. Our first stop was to reclear security and then off to the lounge. As we lined up for security, I sadly had way to much stuff to make this process quick and easy. I was a bit tired but totally hyped to keep going. Because of that my brain did not function properly and when it got to my turn unfortunately I had forgotten to take my camera, wallet and phone out of my pocket so I set off the metal detector. Absolute fail, absolute fail! So after a rescan, a pat down and then a scan of my belongings I could finally continue on. However one nice touch by the Japanese security is the fact that they provide you with slippers while you get your shoes scanned. Nice of them!
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Once everyone was through and out the other side the ANA lounge was immediately in front of us and we were all scanned into the lounge quickly. As we all kind of went out own different ways in the lounge I figured it was going to be easier to work here and now compared to later. We were given the ok to take photos and tweet live from this lounge but not the others. So be it! Our flight was departing from the gates on the far side so they would of been closer to the other lounge or even the United club, but we stayed put.
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The lounge was absolutely heaving! But then it was about the time of the heavies to be outbound to North America. In fact while we were waiting in the lounge the San Jose flight out of Narita was called so it could return back to the USA. We managed to find an empty seat grouping down the back of the lounge, well away from the windows, but if it was all there was, then it would just have to do. I can’t really complain right. I am in a lounge that has amenities that far outway any other lounge around and I can relax... well maybe.
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My plans for this lounge stop was to get the articles and blog posts I had written out into the air, my first job was to get my blog post out, then edit the one photo I needed to crop and then get the content into the airwaves. When my email was up and running sadly the photo that I had been hoping to have waiting for me, was not, so I moved on without it. I managed to get a bit of work done, a number of tweets and then my other challenge was on. I had been challenged to eat my body weight in sushi (well not that I would even try to eat that much). I snapped a few photos of the Sushi Rice Balls and downed a good portion of them. Along with these tasty little cookies as well.
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We moved over to by the windows and the crazy thing is once we were over there it was like heaven. Stuff was moving about everywhere, Jetstar Japan Sharklets (funnily enough my first Sharklet shot ever), Singapore A380, New American 777-200ER, plenty of ANA obviously, and endless list of goodies. The light was good and although I didn’t get a chance to really enjoy it all. I took in what I could, while I could. Once we had our fill it was time to head off as our gate, even though we could see it, meant we had to literally walk across the airport then hang a left and backtrack the opposite direction. Silly but true!
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A slow meander through the terminal to walk off all the sushi and other goodies and we were at our gate (after a few quick stops to tweet or take photos of a very unique United 747). About 2-3 minutes after we arrived at the gate, our escort arrived totally out of breath as she had seemingly run from the lounge! Crazy++
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All Nippon Airways - NH911 (Operated by Air Japan) Tokyo Narita to Hong Kong 1820-2205 Boeing 767-300ER (JA623A) Business Class - Seat 4H Boarding: 1750 (Gate 38) Push Back: 1821 Take Off Roll: 1840 (Runway 34L) Top Of Descent: 2117 Touch Down: 2143 (Runway 25R) Shut Down: 2150 (Gate 34) The boarding was called for Top Tier diamond elites first, the same almost as First Class guests and then after that the Business class line was called. It was off onboard my first ever ANA 767 as by the end of this trip I was hopefully going to get a good broad spectrum of the ANA long/mid haul fleet. It was also going to be my first flight onboard a Winglet equipped 767, and seeing this aircraft with that feature alone puzzled me. What crazy person decided to fit winglets to this size aircraft. The winglets alone are like 6 ft tall! Say what now!
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This 767 was fitted with the new “Business Cradle” and although that description doesn’t sound all that amazing, this is the newest of their regional business class. It is not a light flat seat or anything like that, it is what it says. An old style cradle seat, however with all the modern amenties you would come to expect. AVOD, the usual ports and the middle row of seats in the 2-1-2 configuration felt more like a “throne” than anything. I definately would not want to spend all to long onboard this aircraft, the 4 hour flight we were scheduled for would definately be more than appropriate.
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I liked the look of the seats to, the design looked good, and functional. Classified as Inspiration of Japan seating as well, this would be a very nice way to continue on down to Hong Kong. Waiting at the seat was the menus, slippers, a blanket (although I don’t think as good as the one onboard the 787, but then I hadn’t intended on using either. This flight was going to be a final way to keep myself awake, so that when we hit the hotel that night in Hong Kong, it would be synced back into my cycle as though I was home. Normal time to bed, normal time to rise, normal time for everything.
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I was sitting in the aisle this time as we were heading into a night flight, there wouldn’t be much need for a window. So I let Jason have the window. Apart from one thing, he didn’t get one either. We had lucked out to have the only row without one! But no one was even sitting in row 4 so we figured that if no one joined that seat at all, then we would just take it over. That’s how its done right?
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Once the doors were shut we were allowed to move up into row 4 and just like that I was actually back in the row that I had left before. Silly that I even moved in the first place but meh, what can you do! We pushed back from the gate area and began the slow move towards the active taxi way. Having a good giggle at the intro to the safety video was a highlight with some very different looking cartoon warnings. I only managed to get one photo and even that was not of one of the better slides. As we taxiied out we were passed by a whole heap of other aircraft and it was as though it was rush hour all over again. Plenty of heavies on the deck including a Delta, another New American 772, crane livery JAL and behind us a very long line of 777s an 767s.
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When it was our turn to line up, I had Jason snapping the occasional photo using my camera and as we climbed out from Tokyo Narita the most amazing sunset was happening and I was missing every bit of it. we had what looked to be a good track to possibly get some shots of Mt Fuji as we headed off to Hong Kong but sadly there was a solid cloud deck as we passed 30,000ft and that just ruined everything.
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After the sunset shot I pretty much just consoled myself to interior shots and once the seatbelt sign was off, I got up and got myself situated to be a bit productive as I intended on writing for the first part of the flight, delaying my meal to a time more suitable to my Hong Kong schedule and then chilling out for the rest of the flight.
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I worked away and watched as so many people on the flight seemed like they were ready to pass out, or die or just not want to be there. It was crazy that I could physically feel the difference between the aircraft and I could imagine that a lot of other people who had not just flown on a 787 would know any different. It was very evident to Jason just how bad he felt, but I knew what to expect anyway. I kept myself going as much as I could, once the meal was served things started to go down hill from there. The meal was fantastic and came more like a bento box with all little suprises. I even had to ask where I should start as I had no idea. The meal was full of japanese goodies and the sushi and sashimi were amazing. I was determined to eat it all and enjoy it. To which I did.
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Once the meal was complete I relaxed into my seat and tried to focus on the movie but I just could not. I even tried to get some coffee into me to keep me going and managed to fin d that the coffee was helping a little but not all that much. It was funny that at one point I was drifting off and I was nudged awake by the flight attendant as she had delivered my coffee and a tub of haagen daaz ice cream. The goodies you get on an asian carrier. Aussie or American ones would not give you that!
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I started to pack up my stuff extremely slowly around the hour mark as I had to get up anyway and I was all fidgety trying to stay awake. The funny thing was that I had a thought... why not ask about a postcard. Sure it would be a 767 but hey, free postcard right? Smart idea, I had hit the motherload! I got a whole heap of goodies including a Pokemon 747-400 who I instantly knew to send that to!
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We began our descent into Hong Kong and there was random bits and pieces of lights out the windows and it was great. The descent was slow and smooth however with the nose camera going you could see the final descent he was all over the place. Either he was battling some winds or the aircraft was just not responding the way it should.
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We touched down on 24R, right next to the observation deck (though it was the middle of the night so not that anyone could see us). The touchdown was long and there was lots of good stuff on the ground, obviously dominated by Dragonair & Cathay pacific. We passed a couple of BA 747s and some Emirates and Air France as well. With the aircraft docked at the gate and shut down for the night, we were released into Hong Kong airport and barely off the aircraft before the Peninsula Staff on the airport side. There were other staff once we reached past immigration. The long long journey through to immigration began and thankfully we could ride the train which would be so much quicker than walking the few kilometers of Hong Kong Airport.
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The train put us out at immigration and the lines gave me time to try and fix up the issues that I was having with my phone at this point. Getting through immigration wasn’t long as the lines moved quick and then it was out into customs to get our bags and then off to our ride from the airport. Our Hong Kong journey had just begun.

Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     The Fairfield Inn shuttle was waiting to take us to the airport when we checked out and after trying to explain to the driver where we were going (funnily enough even ANA in an aussie accent is hard to understand apparently) we were dropped off at the A Terminal for our flight on “Anna” (how the driver kept pronouncing ANA). Terminal A at San Jose Airport is the older, original part of the airport and although it has been refurbished, it is not nearly as nice as Terminal B. As the marketing manager of the airport said it to us, Terminal A is nice, Terminal B is Fantastic. There was plenty of ANA staff at check in, making sure there was not a problem at all.
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We were quickly helped at check in, and I easily handed over my passport and my bag was tagged all the way through to Hong Kong. I was given two boarding passes, instructed where to go the lounge and all without a hassle. I love experiences like this. After checking in for our flight, we checked in with the ANA rep who was waiting to greet us and we were handed over to a representative of the Airport so that we could be taken to where the rest of the media where for the arrival of the aircraft.
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As we waited at the gate, ready to get into the sterile corridor (where we were going to shoot photos from), a local media outlet asked to interview us, we broke his happiness by telling him we were media as well, but if he waited a little bit we could set him up with someone to interview as we had a tip off via an Airline Reporter fan who was also on the flight. So I gave him a message when he landed to head over to the gate and we could get him on TV. It was funny to chat away with the local media as they seemed stunned at what we did, and I was stunned at what they did. Different worlds right?
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As we tracked the inbound aircraft via Flightradar as it made it’s final approach we were escorted into the sterile corridor to make it easier to take photos through only one pane of glass rather than several, and the photos turned out pretty well. There was enough other movements around the airport to get some test shots in and check the light levels and the camera ready. As the aircraft seemingly appeared out of no where, the photos were snapped away but since we had a small window of opportunity, it was soon move and wait time as the plane had to taxi its way back to us.
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Once again the aircraft appeared out of almost no where to us and more photos were taken but as I was shooting with the longer lens and had left my widest lens on the other side of the glass at some point I had to stop shooting and move over to the phone to tweet. Still have to make sure im tweeting and doing everything I can, so everyone knows where I am.
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Once the aircraft was stopped, we were quickly ushered out of the corridor and back into the terminal, we had to be vacated from the corridor so that the passengers could disembark. The media were asking the usual questions (something I had forgotten to do) and they were told that there was only 44 people onboard the inbound but the outbound would have 110. Fairly good load for the outbound, not so good for the in.
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With the gate festivities pretty much over, we headed up the lounge, which actually opened a day before the original San Jose innagural flight. The “Club at SJC” is actually a paid lounge and thankfully as an ANA guest it meant I could get in for free. In the Avgeek tradition, you always look after your fellow traveller, so I guested him into the lounge (showing my Aegean Gold Card, even though I wasn’t getting any points off this trip, or really using it) and they allowed him in.
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The lounge was pretty good actually, very nice looking food, plenty of snacks and drinks and to top things off, hot breakfast food. Add in showers, free wifi, plenty of power outlets and comfy (ish) seating and you have yourself a pretty good lounge to be honest.
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We spent most of the time chatting away with fellow avgeeks, talking the usual stuff, and meeting up with our fellow travellers who were coming on the flight. There was a few other guests who although not part of the press trip they were covering the story for other outlets. We were also given our ANA swag bag full of the press materials but also lots and lots of goodies and there was many times where I was acting like a little school boy with all the free goodies.
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Eventually we had to head out to the gate so that we could be there to get the shots of the first people onboard. Jason wanted to be first onboard but me, I didn’t mind, I wanted to cover the shots of people getting on. I had been onboard an ANA 787 at Seattle when they first began, so I have all the hi res cabin shots I need. For me it was now all about getting those last few shots of the beginning of the flight.
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A pre boarding speech was given by and he apoligised for the 787 issues (not that he needed to) and this was not the first time that the apology was given. The captain onboard gave it, along with the cabin crew as well during the flight briefing.
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All Nippon Airways - NH1075 San Jose to Tokyo Narita 1305-1610 Boeing 787-8 (JA806A) Business Class - Seat 9A Boarding: 1240 (Gate 15) Push Back: 1301 Take Off Roll: 1315 (Runway 30R) Top of Descent: 1440 Touch Down: 1510 (Runway 34L) Shut Down: 1512 (Gate 58) As we headed onboard each guest was handed a little welcome card from the ANA San Jose staff and each card had been hand written! This along with a pen was the only real token of the flight and without it, you probably wouldn't of even known this was an inaugural (of sorts).
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With Jason already onboard and snapping away at his seat, i casually made my way onboard and took a few photos here and there, enjoying myself and the experience. For me this was more about the flight, not about the product onboard or the aircraft. It was all about soaking in the atmosphere. It was also about the connecting flight as well, just seeing how easy Narita is to transit (more on that later).
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Boarding was completed quickly and before I even really knew it we were pushing back. I was shocked, we pushed back about 5 minutes early and we had barely loaded in 15 minutes. Crazy!!!! We pushed back from the gate and as we lined up for our taxi out to the active runway, all of the SJC and ANA ground staff came out onto the stand to wave us goodbye. I missed the photo of the bow by a number of the staff but I got some good shots of all of them waving. We were told no video of the take off, but that wasn’t a big deal for me anyway.
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The take off roll was spirited and smooth as the wing flexed us into the air. The wing flex on the 787 will always amaze me and it just looks so amazing as it flexes up into the sky. Unfortunately as I was on the A side (even ANA seemingly knows my bad habits) I may have gotten the good shots on the ground, but unfortunately I did not get much of a view on the climb out. I was right over the wing anyway so my fascination in this instance was the wing flexing, the engine and the coast below as we powered west towards Japan.
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The flight cruised on up and the Captain kept the seat belt sign on a for a little bit extra according to the crew due to a possible few bumps but within 10 or 15 minutes he turned this off and let everyone loose. I was immediately up and exploring, not always possible down the back of the bus but these days if I can i prefer to move about. Maybe it is because I am worried about DVT (since my dad has it) or maybe it is because I am just way more active compared to the past and I can no longer sit still for much without fidgeting.
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Menus were distributed, drink and meal orders were taken and guests just relaxed into the flight as though this was any other flight, no fan fare, nothing like that, just a seemingly normal flight across the pacific. Not exactly the same as my first 787 flight, but this felt more like a 787 flight should. If there was going to be any fan fare I was hoping it would be on the ground in Narita.
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I had decided before the flight that I would keep the Japanese meals for the flights out of Tokyo being that the local chefs there would be the ones preparing them, they would be of much better quality and more authentic. The western meal out of the USA sounded pretty good so I went with that. I knew ANA had very good food from my last flight with them and that their snack menu in between meal times was very sufficient. The meal size was much more appropriate to the multiple course format compared to other airlines (looking at you Cathay). The courses came out starting with a few horderves that were not listed on the menu. They seemed good and i immediately fell in love with the mushroom and chilli they had on it as it was just the right amount of kick for someone like me. After that came the table lay out with the bread, butter and appetiser.
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The Appetiser was described as a Nicoise Salad and this was a very loose interpretation of one but it was still damn tasty. I enjoyed the wide variety of seafood and the bread they served was amazingly good. It was kind of like a savoury raisin roll and it was tasty... so much so I gobbled down a few (with a good bit of butter of course).
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The Main itself though small was appropriate with a good bit of bread and the over sized appetiser so I was happy and follow that with a nice cheese plate, mal is a happy boy. Dessert was some fresh fruit, a banana I had somehow brought on board with me (not sure where that came from!) and some ice cream with a very wierd, yet tasty, kiwi fruit sauce.
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Finish off the meal with a coffee and a chocolate and you have the makings of a lengthy yet relaxed 2 hour lunch service.
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Lunch over and done with, I changed into some pyjamas that can be “borrowed” from the airline (although they were super comfy so I am going to have to try and find my way into a pair somehow) and i settled in to get some work done. I had plenty of time to work on the trip report along with also get the story on the resumption of service out the way, check out my photos and even set up my blog post all ready for when I hit the ground in Narita. What better way to make use of around 10 hours stuck inside an aircraft as you cruised at 40,000ft across the pacific.
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Time flew by onboard, there was lots of words written, photos worked on (or at least tried to, for some reason the chromebook doesn’t like saving the photos I try to edit) and some snacking and chatting with fellow avgeeks. I took a trip up the back of the aircraft in my pjs to kind of show them off but also because they were so damn comfy I didn’t care.
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After trying to settle into watch a movie I just pretty much gave up actually paying attention to it and instead spent most of the time in a conversation with someone up in Economy via the inseat communications. I had a chat with my “seat mate” at one point discussing the fact that the vibrations over the engines are VERY evident. something I guess that would need to be mentioned on Seat Guru. Love to see that warning. “This seat recieves constant vibration from the Engines outside your window.”
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With a bit more work after the movie, the time in the flight was winding down fast. So I decided to get myself dressed again (before the post meal rush) and order my final meal as late as possible. Out of the meal options the Japanese meal sounded about the lightest for the arrival meal and this would allow me space for some goodies in the lounge. I was under instructions from a friend to eat my weight in Rice Balls and Japanese sweets while I spent what little time in Tokyo. That was the plan for the first stopover, the second on the way back would be kit kat hunting.
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So i settled into the meal with the chat going and the auto map on and when finished, pulled out the laptop to finish off as much of the trip report as I could up until final descent. About an hour out I went through my usual rituals of getting myself ready for arrival, since it is at that point that I have to put the earplanes in. It is always a good a time as any to get myself ready since it usually avoids the rush and then I don’t try scurrying about during the last few minutes before descent (and in my experience Narita can be a bumpy arrival).
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After setting my stuff aside and prepping for landing I ended up chatting more with a few of the others in our group and it was an interesting bunch, a very diverse group. 2 Aviation geeks, a travel blogger & 2 real travel journalists. It was interesting as they would primarily be focusing on the travel side of things while Jason and I were obviously going to be writing about the flying aspects. The group should provide a whole range of different points of views of the same flights.
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As we tipped over into our descent I was totally suprised at just how gracefully the 787 seemed to handle it. What it really signalled was everyone to stop socialising and get their butts back to their seats. Next thing you know the seat belt sign dings on and the crew is making their final checks as we descend into Narita. I had seen someone with playing cards earlier and had totally forgotten to ask for one, so I did at that point and within moments I was handed a deck of 787 playing cards along with a childs toy plane. Score!!
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We turned onto a straight in approach to Narita. A very long gentle straight in approach to the 34 series of runways. As we came in over the Narita area nothing was familiar to me, but then every other time I have landed at Narita it has always been from the other direction, or on 34R. We were coming into 34L which was a new experience for me.
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We touched down softly to 34L and even the reverse thrust was not all that evident, more gentle than before. This was totally a diffent feeling to my landing last night where I was seemingly smashed into the ground. But like any good foreign airport the second we exit the runway the camera is snapping as I get all the crazy liveries and airlines I never get to see. A wide range of goodies was on the ramps of Narita including an Aeroflot MD11F, an Air Hong Kong freighter, plenty of United and Delta (almost as many as back in the USA) and plenty of ANA of course. We taxiied past a Thai A380 but I didn’t even really notice it.
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We pulled into Gate 58 and very soon the staff around the gate were becking the aircraft in as normal. For us though even though this flight was now at it’s end, the adventure was not. The group collectively started to gather before we had even left the aircraft but once everyone was off we met up and then it was off through Narita security.
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Introduction Seattle to San Jose San Jose San Jose to Narita Narita to Hong Kong Hong Kong Part 1 Hong Kong Part 2 Hong Kong Part 3 Hong Kong to Narita Narita to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     After collecting my bag and heading out to the Hotel Shuttle stand, I had to call the hotel and ask to be picked up. I do like this as it means that you don’t have to wait hours for a shuttle to arrive since you may have just missed one. However it isn’t as good as you really can’t time it well, since you don’t know how long they will be so you always wait till you have your bag to make the call. So I made the call and they dispatched a shuttle to come get me.
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I was staying at the Fairfield Inn & Suites San Jose Airport since they had a Famtastic rate I could use for just $44 for the night. With free breakfast and wifi, the price was right for me! Plus my fellow Traveller Jason was staying just a few blocks away at the Courtyard (their rate was 3 times what I paid). The shuttle wasn’t really a shuttle but more a soccer mom mobile as a Honda Odyssey arrived to pick me up. A few minutes later I was disgored at the hotel lobby and it looked pretty good. I was checked in quickly, given directions (which i had forgotten within seconds of them being explained and had to say them all over again. It was fine for me really, as I was double checking a few things that I wanted to know anyway. I was given a room on the second floor (it was only a two story building) and although I didn’t have any views, I didn’t care. I wasn’t here for much time at all. I got directions to the local gas station/conveince store to grab some water and then headed off to the room. The room was good, the hotel had been recently refurbished and I was looking forward to a bed, some sleep and some much needed rest. So I went and grabbed some water, unpacked my stuff and got it laid out for the morning and hit the sack. Saturday 1st June 2013 I went for my usual morning run through the area around the hotel. I will give this area big props as the weather was amazing, the sun was out, the sky was blue and it wasn’t to hot yet. The hotel is close to the Guadalupe Trail which runs a for a number of miles in the area and stretches the length of the airport. If there is one thing I do love is a run by an airport. At one point I felt like I was racing a Virgin A320 (it won of course). Run completed in pretty good time and I was off to get myself ready for the day.
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Jason was joining me for breakfast in the morning and since he wouldn’t be there till later I sat down by the pool with some coffee and my morning water after a brief exploration of the hotel area. The gym looked good and there was a nice garden area by the pool. Since the hotel was freshly refurbished, if this city was a frequent stop for me I would stay here more often. Free Wifi extended easily to the pool area and as I caught up on work and life sitting in the morning sunshine. What could be better.
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Jason arrived and we hit up the breakfast buffet. It wasn’t overly extravagant but it had the essentials and for me that was oatmeal and coffee. Their wasn’t much in the way of fruit and I didn’t see any bananas around, but I figured, why not ask. I was told by the staff they did have some but she had not put them out as they were way over ripe... PERFECT! She thought I was wierd asking for one, but when you eat oatmeal you do want a banana that is ripe because it mixes in easier.
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Breakfast was consumed in the breakfast room where it was laid out really well, the seats even had power points at some of them for those power hungry tech connected people (like me). After breakfast, catching up on how each others flights went and how the travels have been going, we packed up soon enough after checking out. We were both heading away from the hotel, towards the airport. Farewell to the Fairfield Inn, it wasn’t long but it was damn good!
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