Hong Kong & Fiji

(Note:  although I had good and bad experiences from services on this trip, each traveller's experience is different and I disclaim any liability for anyone else's experiences ;  personal recommendations are based on my personal experience)

Just returned from a trip to Hong Kong and Fiji which was a blast.

British Airways cancelled my flight to Hong Kong and stuck me on a later flight although it wasn't so bad and I had a few drinks at the bar with my refreshment voucher.  Feeling suitably refreshed I boarded the flight (6 hours later) and had an average flight in premium economy but sat next to a very wierd person who started the flight slapping on her facial, lined up her 3 bottles of water and ordered a fruit plate.  Then proceeded to stick her legs up in the air for ages no doubt to alleviate ankle and leg swelling, although frankly I had no swelling and didn't have to resort to such tactics!

British Airways are dreadful - definitely don't recommend them and am currently awaiting a decision for a compensation claim which they do not advertise at the time.  I guess they figure non-smart travellers won't know about compensation claims.

Managed to sleep about 5 hours and arrived in Hong Kong from London feeling suitably refreshed (and no swelling), and proceeded to the Excelsior Hotel which I do recommend.

Getting to the hotel on the main Hong Kong Island was really easy and has really changed a lot since I was first in Hong Kong in 1984.  There is a terrifically clean and quick airport train with a courtesy bus from the train station to the various hotels.  Of course the Excelsior had to be last on the list but heck it was free so I wasn't about to complain.  You can buy a round-trip ticket from the aiport for the train which is cheaper than two one-ways and of course one can get the free bus back to the train station on the return journey.

Excelsior Hotel Hong Kong - View from hotel (east)
View over Hong Kong from the Excelsior Hotel

I like the Excelsior as the staff were helpful and friendly, and the room more than adequate and it's smack bang in the middle of several shopping centres - I like to stay away from 'named stores' and I love the little boutique shops with their unique clothes, style and difference.

After two nights I headed out to the airport again for an Air Pacific flight to Nadi (Fiji) and do not recommend Air Pacific - felt like I was back in time 30 years ago when the service was basic - we got fed shortly after boarding, and then shortly before landing, with a little drink of water in-between and this is a 10 hour flight!

I recommend you pre-order Fijian currency as none of the exchange tellers at Hong Kong airport knew what I was talking about.  After trying about 6 currency exchanges I managed to secure 200 Fijian dollars which I knew was enough for a taxi fare to the hotel once I arrived in Fiji (25 dollars).  I headed to the Fiji Hilton where I was meeting up with family which was great, arriving around 8am.

Hilton. Denauru, Fiji

Link to the Fiji Hilton
 Most of my family were already there as they had travelled up from Sydney, Australia, but later in the week another cousin joined for a few days from Sydney and another cousin joined from New Zealand.  We had a great birthday party on the beach for my auntie's 80th birthday, and afterwards the hotel staff came down to the beach to sing to us.  The Fijians are fantastically hospitable and especially kind to children and older people:

Table on the Beach
We had a great week as the hotel was well situated on the beach:

View from the hotel pool
Fiji is made up of 300 islands of which around two thirds are inhabited.  It's really easy to get around, just a short taxi ride (5 Fiji dollars) to the Port where one can pick up island trips for the day or cruises - we opted to go to Bounty Island on the Wellesley boat (Lady Diana once slept on board but her room needs a bit of a refurbishment as I really don't think she slept with Tigger pillow cases!).  Bounty Island was about 90 minutes away and is great for snorkelling, and also great for backpackers who want cheap dormitory-type accommodation.  The buffet lunch was tasty also and was included in the day trip price of 159 Fiji Dollars:

Bounty Island
The only problem was that the turtle feeding didn't happen - our Fijian hosts decided it was more important to have a volleyball game with the local island tourists and the poor old turtles didn't get fed.  When we asked our host about it they laughed and said 'ha ha feed the turtles?' - um well yes that was advertised as part of the trip but it didn't happen - well the Fijians are quite laid back and probably they got fed afterwards (I hope!).  This is Fiji!!

We had a few mishaps at the hotel eg we got locked out of our room as the door entrance battery conked out and being a Sunday night, the shops were closed and the maintenance man couldn't get a replacement.  However, this being Fiji, he got very creative and broke in the back balcony door for us although it took about an hour - but he was persistent and very helpful.  The door was fixed first thing in the morning for which we were very grateful.  So be warned - if your card key goes orange instead of red or green then the battery is on it's way out and hotfoot it down to reception immediately!

View from our balcony
It's easy to get around the area - just take the Bula bus which you can hop on and off at will, and it will take to to the Port and around the various hotels such as the Sheraton, the Sofitel and the Radisson just for a change of scenary.

After a great week I headed back to Hong Kong via Air Pacific for 2 more nights in Hong Kong before heading home to London.  This time the flight was uneventful and I stayed at a great hotel on campus just outside the airport (about 5 minutes by car) - the Skycity Marriott - great service - I turned up at stand B05 in the Arrivals Hall B to find the Marriott staff were waiting for me with a chauffeur driven car to the hotel (and I hadn't even booked the car ahead). This hotel is great if you don't want to stay in town and time is limited. 

It has a courtesy bus to and from the airport every 20 minutes, and a courtesy bus to Tung Chung where you can get the cable car into Hong Kong, or do what I did and go shopping again.  This time at the Citygates outlets mall which is mainly designer shops but where I discovered fantastic Kate Spade (New York) Handbags and jewellery - one of their mottos:  'the seasons may change but the handbag stays the same'!. Love it.  Of course I indulged much to the chagrin of my rather heavily laden credit card!

I liked this bangle which sums up part of my worldview ! :

Kate Spade Bangle - All in a days work!

Flight back to London was fairly uneventful and British Airways redeemed themselves (apart from the cabin crew trying to pick a fight with me over the baggage in the overhead locker and it wasn't even mine!).  My suitcase took ages coming off the conveyor belt and I thought it was lost, but received excellent customer service from the BA baggage services and the bag turned up!  So, home, tanned, tired but happy!

Hope this has inspired you - I'm off to recover from the jetlag!

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