I’m fortunate to be off on my travels again, this time to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hopefully a good balance with a week in a firm favourite of Hong Kong followed by our first ever visit to the beautiful island of Taiwan. We’re planning on seeking out some new places to visit in Hong Kong alongside the iconic sights that draw us back time again to this bustling metropolis.
Yesterday afternoon I took the train down to King’s Cross station in London from where it was only a short walk across to the adjacent St. Pancras station for my Thameslink connection to Gatwick Airport. St. Pancras International underwent a multi million pound refurbishment back in 2007 and the station is now a joy to behold and as I had plenty of time to spare I took a closer look before boarding my airport train. On the balcony, over the main concourse stands this marvellous larger than life statue of the poet Sir John Betjeman. The seven foot high bronze statue located near to the Eurostar platforms depicts Betjeman just as he was remembered, appearing to be viewing the wrought iron station roof whilst holding onto his hat with his coat blowing in the wind. It was thanks to Betjeman that St. Pancras was saved from demolition in the 1960’s as his passion was Victorian architecture and trains.
Also to be found in the Eurostar terminal is this gorgeous 20 tonne Bronze statue of lovers embracing, reminiscent of the film Brief Encounter. The statue depicts the familiar sight of couples either being reunited on a station platform or bidding each other a fond farewell just before one leaves to catch a train.
After enjoying a cappuccino on the main concourse I located my platform taking the Three Bridges train as far as Gatwick airport. Our overnight accommodation in the Premier Inn (North Terminal) just a couple of minutes from Gatwick’s railway station via its shuttle train service was ideal. After dropping off my luggage I returned to the South Terminal to make use of my complimentary one hour pass to the Regus Business Lounge and enjoy a couple of cappuccinos. If you plan to travel from London Gatwick consider signing up for the My Gatwick Rewards scheme which offers discounts on parking and a visit to the Regus lounge. The Lounge is to be found in the Departure Terminal and by registering flight details it’s possible to gain access and enjoy some complimentary cups of tea or coffee. Free voucher access is for one hour but as I arrived at 4.15 pm and the lounge was closing at 6.00 pm the receptionist suggested I stay until it closed.
Feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep we took the Rail Shuttle to the South Terminal in good time for our Cathay Pacific flight direct to Hong Kong. We’d already checked in on online and chosen our preferred seats 48 hours earlier so all that was left to do was to take our luggage to the Bag Drop and pass through security allowing us just enough time for a cappuccino in Pret a Manger before boarding our A350-900 airliner on our 11 hour 45 minute flight. It’s a long time since we last flew with the Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific but it was good to note that they have maintained their high standards of service and are deserving of their five star airline status.
A pre lunch drink followed by sea bass with a pea puree then chocolate Häagen Dazs ice creams for dessert, my photo doesn’t really do it justice! The flight was smooth and time passed relatively quickly. I’m not really a cinema goer so long haul flights give me an opportunity to watch a few films – today I selected La La Land and The Girl on the Train. The in-flight entertainment system (IFE) worked extremely well and came equipped with large, touch operated seat back screens.
I chatted a little with the passenger next to us, another reason I love travelling so much are these chance encounters with people we would normally be unlikely to meet. Finally, just before landing we were served a tasty breakfast and arrived in Hong Kong on schedule at 7.00 am local time the next morning.