Six hours in the Cathay Pacific Wing Lounge in Hong Kong was just not long enough. I was sorely tempted to hide in the luxurious bathroom-shower cubicles and miss my flight so I could partake of even more of the fine cuisine and wines.
Rejuvenated after an indecently-long hot shower with ceiling-mounted monsoon head and wall-mounted faucets, and pampering with all the toiletries, I proceeded to test all the food on both levels of the lounge.
No disrespect to French and Swiss cuisine but after a month of chocolate, bread, cheese, creamy sauces, pastries and potatoes, the freshness and taste explosion of Chinese food was divine. I fooled myself the dishes were all healthy and ate them in greedy proportions.
Populated by a mixture of smartly-attired Chinese and European businessmen, a handful of incredibly well-behaved lounge-seasoned children with their books and iPads and a sprinkling of Kiwis and Aussies, whose comfortable, capable, unremarkable looks seem to stand out all around the world, the lounge was an oasis of quiet and relaxation in the midst of the huge sprawling airport, one of world’s busiest.
We became friendly with the upstairs barman, Brian, who insisted on keeping our glasses topped up with Moët as we perched at his elegant white marble-top bar overlooking the runway and the cable cars transporting people to Lantou Island. Customers were drinking all manner of exotic cocktails, beers and wines but I was happy with my bubbly.
Brian insisted we stay until 5.30pm to watch the orange-red sunset, a spectacular site through the Hong Kong sea mist.
On his recommendation, we then went to the Noodle Bar restaurant to sample the famous Chinese steamed BBQ pork bao – sweet and tasty – and dandan mien Shanghainese-style noodles with crushed peanuts – hot and spicy.
Other temptations were the Japanese ramen noodles in soup with assorted vegetables, Vietnamese noodles with shredded chicken, pan fried beef bao, egg custard bao, won tons with noodles and vegetarian ramen noodles with Japanese grilled green pepper.
At the downstairs buffet, I tried the roasted chicken leg with coriander yoghurt sauce, shrimp and pork dumplings, sautéed mixed vegetables, steamed bok choy (my all-time favourite), fried rice with shrimps and chicken and hot, sour soup with seafood, followed by a huge plate of fresh fruit to make up for all that we had missed in the preceding month.
For the smaller appetite or a snack on the run between tight flights, there were rolls and sandwiches with tuna and corn salad, “farmer” meat loaf, tomato and egg salad, cheeses, croissants, Danish pastries, sausage rolls, chocolate chippie muffins and vanilla loaf.
The coffee lounge served designer coffee, sausage rolls and raspberry jam doughnuts sandwiches, rolls, biscuits, pistachio croissants, pain au chocolat and spinach puff pastries.
After my epic bathroom and wine and food experiences, I played Goldilocks in the armchairs, couches, work spaces, IT and quiet zones and enclosed nooks and alcoves. It was such a treat to sit, snooze, feast, drink, read and recharge communications and personal batteries before returning to reality.
I was restless on the last leg of the journey home. After my vegetarian sea shell pasta with creamy spinach and tomato sauce, toasted pinenuts and parmesan cheese – as if I needed any more sustenance after my Wing Lounge food orgy – I lifted my window shade (I’m a slow learner!) to peek at Port Moresby by night.
I wish I hadn’t. There was one hell of an altercation going on in the distance with the various local tribal cloud dwellers firing flaming spears at each other. It was getting out of hand so I slammed the shade down fast, disturbing a few fellow passengers in so doing, but I felt compelled to sneak a surreptitious peak every 30 seconds or so to ensure the war remained far away on the horizon.
Flight attendant Thomas assured me it was all OK. I put in a special request, if need be, to limp on to Cairns rather than land in PNG. But by the time we were over the Torres Strait, all was quiet in the sky again. We had left the angry combatants far behind.
Our pilot had obviously taken evasive action as there wasn’t even the slightest flutter of the wings to indicate any turbulence.
We landed in Auckland without a hitch. Thank you!
Justine Tyerman flew Cathay Pacific* from Paris, France to Auckland, New Zealand via Hong Kong (CX 197, A340-300, 11 hours) enjoying Himalayas from on high.
*Cathay Pacific was voted the World’s Best Airline for the fourth time in the 2014 Skytrax Awards. Cathay Pacific offers daily connections between Paris and Auckland via Hong Kong and will commence flying between Zurich and Hong Kong from 29 March 2015. Visit www.cathaypacific.com for the latest airfares.