Thursday, 22 October 2015

Sichuan Day 1: HKIA

We decided to take a trip to Sichuan to see its several UNESCO sites. It's a relatively small province, but contains quite many interesting things to see.

There's no direct flight from Singapore to Chengdu. We need to fly to HK - the gateway to China - to get a connected flight to Chengdu. We flew from Singapore to HK on Cathay Pacific, and from HK to Chengdu on Dragonair (Cathay Pacific is Dragonair's parent company). Dragonair is more of a regional operator with many domestic flight in China's space while Cathay Pacific is an international carrier.

HKIA showing the Cathay Pacific fleet, HK, China
HKIA showing the Cathay Pacific fleet

HKIA was once the best airport in the world until Singapore Changi Airport came to take that title from them. HKIA have more passengers going through their airport, and so in general, it takes longer to go through HKIA than Changi Airport.

HKIA North satellite concourse, HK, China
HKIA North satellite concourse

Having said that, HKIA is just as efficient as Changi Airport, it's just busier with more passengers going through it, and so it tends to take longer. Still, it's fast compared to almost all the airports in the world. It's only 2nd to Changi Airport.

One thing that Changi Airport doesn't have is Tai Hing BBQ Restaurant.

Tai Hing restaurant, HKIA, HK, China

To get to this restaurant, we need to check out of the Customs. But that's no problem as we had 2½ hours to spare before boarding Dragonair.

Tai Hing and McDonald's are located next to each other and just at the entrance to the Airport Express train.

First, I have a look behind me to see if Ronald McDonald was pointing a gun at my head and demanded that I should proceed to McDonald's. Since the clown was nowhere to be seen, my choice was clear.

Tai Hing, HKIA, HK

Roast pig and Duck, Tai Hing Restaurant, HKIA, HK, China

We ordered a roast suckling pig and roast duck. The duck wasn't not bad, but the suckling pig was exceptional (or as the French says, exceptionnel). We were lucky as the batch of new suckling pigs were reasonably freshly roasted. If they had been sitting there like a sitting roast ducks (more like hanging roast ducks hanging around the window) for awhile, they wouldn't be as crunchy (or as the Portuguese says, crispy).

Initially, we were thinking to get a decent meal outside the airport in a shopping mall in Tung Chung, but when we found Tai Hing, the need to go out had diminished. We decided to check back into the airport after lunch.

While HKIA and Changi Aiport has similar efficiency, and spaciousness, what Changi Airport has over HKIA is all the bells and whistles in the forms of themed gardens, free feet massage machines, etc.

Since we had about just under 2 hours left to kill, I decided to walk around and get acquainted with the terminal, which I hadn't done despite the number of times I had been to this airport.

I wasn't disappointed. There were various exhibits along the terminal. I think they're temporary exhibits. But then there probably other exhibits at other times.

"Above the Clouds" Sculpture, HKIA, HK, China
Aviation Authority's winning entry sculpture titled, "Above the Clouds"
(click to enlarge)

This is modeled after the bronze statue of the Giant Buddha at Lantau Island emerged above the clouds, hence the name.

Closeup of "Above the Clouds" Sculpture, HKIA, HK, China
Closeup of the face of the Buddha statue
(Click to enlarge)

Closeup of "Above the Clouds" Sculpture, HKIA, HK, China "Above the Clouds" Sculpture, HKIA, HK, China

From the slightly angled view of the Buddha bust shows that head is cantilevered precariously. Nice balance.

They were done to promote food donation.

There were also interesting exhibits of the costumes and props of Cantonese Opera, where Hong Kong is really the steward for such art in the modern time longer than China.

Shoes, Cantonese opera, HKIA, HK, China headgear, Cantonese opera, HKIA, HK, China Shoes, Cantonese opera, HKIA, HK, China

There're 3 more exhibits, which brought back a lot of childhood memories. While they were displaying the various manufactured toys in HK in the 1960s and 1970s, kids grew up in SE Asia around this period all could related to them.

This exhibit also reminded me that manufacturing used to be a big part of HK because of its low labour cost before 1980s. Since then, HK has slowly - ok, rapidly - transformed itself into the service economy that it's today; a path that Mainland China has followed, albeit 3 decades behind. Of course, Singapore, the HK's twin, followed pretty much the same path. HK and Singapore is like NYC and London of SE Asia.

tumbler toy, HKIA, HK, China
Baby face tumbler

tin airplane toy, XF-160, HKIA, HK, China
Very popular battery operated Japanese tin airplane

Astroboy Toy, HKIA, HK, China Robot Tank Z Toy, HKIA, HK, China Robocon Toy, HKIA, HK, China

Not a bad way at all to kill 2 hours.

HKIA, HK, China

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