I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pier and loathing in Hong Kong

So here I am at 0825 sat in the Pier, one of Cathay Pacific's flagship and supposedly wonderful, amazing lounges at Hong Kong. Wasn't going to blog from here at all as I'd decided to instead sit back and listen to some music, or watch some TV, on the in-lounge entertainment system here called StudioCX. But I've tried this 3 times now and it never works. In The Wing (the other amazing lounge) the one at the table where I was sitting didn't work, constantly saying "touch the screen with your finger to start" but just displaying a "no entry" icon wherever I touched. Now in the Pier I tried one whose screen worked, but only had audio coming out of one ear in the headphones (which made listening to anything aggravating in the extreme), and the second refused to react to my finger and now is displaying an IE "page cannot be displayed" error page. Great.

The annoying thing is that this is a good lounge. Quiet, good lighting, views of the planes, loads of information, helpful staff, decent free for all food and drink... but the problem is I had way too high expectations, I think. People on flyertalk rave about Cathay (in the BA forum!) and frequently express a whole "this is how an airline should be run" thing about their service, on the ground and in the air. But I've never had it that good. :( Missing out my BA number so I've got to chase them up later for the miles I'm earning, broken stuff in the lounges, no alcohol until 1pm(!) in the Wing, constant attention when I'm trying to squeeze 2 short films into a 3h40m flight, ... I think they hate me. Oh well. This is my last flight with them on this section of my holiday (the flight from New York to Vancouver next May is also Cathay though) and at least I'm on the upper deck.

Oh, and I can't keep an ssh session open for longer than like 5 minutes on their wireless network either. FFHS.

So, hmm, Tokyo here I come. I've got no yen and the ATM network there doesn't work with European cards. Hope there's somewhere at Narita I can get some currency before going into the centre, or maybe my hotel can sort me out. I tried to get some here but I guess the bad vibes extend beyond Cathay Pacific and to Hong Kong airport as a whole. Went to the Travelex desk and said Hi, I'd like some Japanese Yen please. Certainly Sir, how are you paying? Credit card. OK, with a credit card there will be commission charged. That's fine. OK, do you know your PIN, Sir? Yes. OK, then I would recommend going to an ATM and drawing out some Hong Kong Dollars then changing those for Yen, it will be cheaper. Yes madam can I help you...

Err. Excuse me. I wanted some fucking yen. I said OK to commission. I don't care how much over the top it costs me. I'm not going to draw out some money in HKD and then convert that to JPY because coping with one exchange rate at a time is all I'm good for. Sigh. So I came to the lounge to relax... :( I guess the best thing about this morning was getting the free shuttle bus to the airport half an hour earlier than I'd booked for, the feeling of smug superiority as everyone else struggled with their bags while I knew mine was already checked in, and grabbing a whole bunch of free nosh (and diet coke) as soon as I got here.

Oh, yeah, one last bitch and whine and moan: The Wing is by gate 1 and The Pier by gate 64. I'm flying from gate 32. Good one. In fact, shit, I need to go get on that flight come to think of it.

1 comment:

Nige said...

Sounds like the exchange guy was being very helpful... The Chinese generally don't get the "I don't care how much it costs" mentality - everything is bargained for (except for food and transport!) so he let you know you could save cash by going to the ATM and just assumed you'd want to do that.

It can come across as rude and unhelpful but really it's the opposite.

Have a good flight!