munitalP is Platinum spelled backwards – my Qantas frequent flyer tier.
It is the first time on mainland China for both of us, so we are getting quite excited at the prospect of new sights, sounds and importantly, food... After careful consideration of just not spending enough time at each port we decided for the following:
• Shanghai 3 nights
• Beijing 5 nights
• Harbin 3 nights
• Shanghai 2 nights (additional)
Our flights were booked on Qantas MEL/SYD/Shanghai in Business both ways. Through the Accor website, we have booked hotels in Shanghai and Harbin, and I booked Crown Plaza in Beijing (and paid) through Asia Rooms – we have used Asia rooms previously and had reasonably good service. We also used Agoda for a Shanghai booking.
The morning started out with a final check of passports, credit cards and the usual stuff you do before an extended stay away from home including watering plants etc, then by 0430, we were out the door and pulling into secure undercover parking about 35 minutes later.
Checking in at MEL domestic for a MEL/SYD/PVG business class flight was quite painless, although the lady at check in made me trot down to sales and get a printout of our full itinerary on her advice to suit Chinese immigration requirements.
Up to the Qantas business lounge where we had a quick snack leaving the real eating for the Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney (being a One World Emerald flyer gives access to Business and First Class lounges worldwide regardless of travel class). QF408 was on time where we had 1A and 1B. I slept till near decent, my only complaint was I asked for a non-plunger coffee, the Cabin Service Manager (CSM) didn’t remember and gave me a plunger coffee – I didn’t drink it.
Through SYD DOM to the transfer lounge – 2 busses arrived while we were there but none left – change of shift I think, but the lady who soon became our driver must have been auditioning for STIG’s roll in the Top Gear show – my God, she near had the bus on 2 wheels a couple of times – I thought it was great, there were some sharp intakes of breath from fellow PAX though!
I believe that from entering the Express alleyway to being on “the other-side” was under 3 minutes – express service at SYD is working well and MEL could take a lesson or two...
A quick stock up of bum plugging pills, hand sanitiser and some deodorant, and we were heading upstairs to the First class lounge.
I immediately had a shower while Mrs. munitalP relaxed in a recliner – I don’t like the showers here, they are an over powering deluge... I think the First Class lounge in SIN showers should be transplanted into SYD... Eggs Benedict ordered (Mrs. munitalP had bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomato), juice, coffee and of course – Veuve Clicquot - French champagne.
We sat grazing and drinking for a good hour or so at the restaurant area, I must have had a whole bottle of Veuve and Mrs. munitalP would have had the same in Bollinger, add to that a bowl of fresh raspberries and we were primed for our fight! We wandered down to the reading area and mucked about on the Apples there till our flight was called.
We wandered down to our gate – 42 from memory and trotted our way to the front of a long line of Asian families who were practicing peak hour train boarding – come on Qantas, get an Chinese speaking person on a megaphone telling them what to do for crying out loud – they don’t listen to a timid young man barking orders in English about forming 2 lin