Hong Kong: We left the Manila Hotel this afternoon to catch our flight to Hong Kong and did not arrive to our hotel until the wee hours. We had a very long day...
But first, our morning in Manila:
For our farewell lunch, we took a taxi to the nearby Zamboanga Restaurant. In the evening this place can be a bit touristy (and maybe a few tour buses will be outside) as they have a Filipino cultural show (dancing and singing) from 8-9p. We arrived before noon and found only a few tables already taken. This was a pretty regular stop for us while we lived in Manila, especially if we had visitors who might enjoy the show. Zamboanga Restaurant Breakfast Lunch of Champions Dave had Tanguigue Steak (a Spanish mackerel). The green lime-looking fruit is a calamansi, and the vegetables are sayote and green papaya (and green beans) I ordered my old favorite - Inihaw na Manok (grilled chicken). The chicken is marinated with calamansi juice and garlic and grilled over charcoal. So delicious. And you knew we would order garlic rice, right?
Our meal was so perfect, DT is sad we didn't come here on the first day - or maybe every day? - of our visit to Manila. I reminded him each evening we suffered through torrential downpours and horrible thunder and lightning storms and he didn't want to go out. Even if we did want to go out, we would have never found a taxi. Best to have this memorable meal in our belly as we flew off to Hong Kong.
We returned to the hotel, finished packing and the hotel provided a car and driver to the airport. After clearing security and immigration, we proceeded to the Cathay Pacific executive lounge to peacefully await our 6p departure to Hong Kong.
This executive lounge was one of the nicest we have seen in a while. Quiet, with separate bar and dining area, tons of comfy seating, a view over the runway and power-ports for cell phones and laptops everywhere. In the dining area, a chef prepared your meals to-order! In the bar, champagne was flowing.
First we heard our flight was delayed, but nothing was posted on the official message board. Rumors stated the plane was low on fuel, so was diverted to the landing strip on the old (nearby) Clark Air Base. We knew the plane was only coming from Hong Kong (95 minute flight), so were curious that it would be low on fuel. Rumors said the plane would fly back to Manila and we would all load and board.
This happened though:
We waited. Cathay has three flights leaving Manila bound for Hong Kong each evening - about two hours apart. Of course, this is a terrible time to fly in the tropics this time of year. Remember the nightly thunder and lightning storms?
At the "help" desk inside the lounge, concern rose for the passengers catching connecting flights in Hong Kong. Dave kindly offered we would take the latest flight, giving our seats to anyone in jeopardy of missing a connection. By now, not everyone approaching the help desk was as sweet as My Husband. There was yelling, with a very strong German accent, coming from a very large and very drunk German. (Oh, those poor girls must deal with this every evening! Didn't his Mutter teach him he can trap more flies with honig than essig?)
All three flights were hopelessly delayed, but we were finally placed on the 9:30p (the last) flight that eventually left Manila at 11p, seven hours after arriving to Manila International Airport. There were five people seating in business class and no one in first class.
After clearing immigration in Hong Kong, we found our hotel still had a car and driver waiting for us and were virtually whisked away in quiet comfort through the near-empty streets of wee-hour Hong Kong. We checked-in and bet we were asleep less than an hour after touching down.
In case you are curious - we never lived in Hong Kong, but traveled here constantly from Manila as we had to leave The Philippines every twelve weeks to get our visas renewed (don't ask - but it will be a good blog post one day). We thought we would give Hong Kong another look.
Since we were in the neighborhood.
Until my next update, I remain, your Hong Kong correspondent.