After 6 weeks of Thailand and India, we turned back for 4 days of travel to our next destination, New Zealand. Our journey started in Trivandum at the southern end of Kerala and took us back to Mumbai again. On our final night in India we celebrated with an autorickshaw ride to the ITC Sheraton for a dinner at Peshawri, rated one of the top 50 Indian restaurants in the world. It marked the beginning of a transition back to “western” lands.
The next day took us to Hong Kong (via Bangkok again), where we spent a night and day taking in a few sights, but just generally enjoying the city and the business-style hotel we booked with free internet, American breakfasts, and complementary happy hour wine. We also enjoyed a very good Chinese hot pot dinner (with beef tenderloin, or maybe beef tendons – both were on the menu among many, many strange items) and were shown the correct way to scoop out Udon noodles (its all in the wrist motion).
Our final leg was a flight to Sydney connecting to Auckland. After days of taxis, trains, and planes, we queued up for our Cathay Pacific gate looking at a sleepless overnight flight. We must have stored up some good travel karma, because we got a fantastic surprise. The agent took our “seats 66 H & J” boarding passes away and replaced them with new ones. On inspection we realized they were upgraded to business class! The 9 hours flew by with a great dinner and some actual sleep on their comfy lay-flat seats. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to be on a plane before. The only thing better than an upgrade is one you don’t expect. Sweet.
The next day finished on another high note as we killed a few hours at the Quantas first class club at the Sydney airport. My status on American Airlines gets us into all the One World clubs, which have proved to be little islands of quiet in the sea of international airports. While they are all pretty nice, the one in Sydney is really exceptional. Aside from the drinks, internet, newspapers, comfy chairs and showers, they also have a restaurant. It’s complimentary, and I’m not talking about a buffet – it has a full menu, tables, and waiters.
We’ve always traveled by the principle that you should eat what the locals eat. It’s generally fresher, tastier, and better quality food than the attempts at “American” food you find abroad. The food in both Thailand and India was excellent, and surprisingly we didn’t really tire of it. However, after 6 weeks without a burger, I was elated to find a gourmet bacon cheeseburger on whole wheat roll with fresh lettuce and pickles on the menu at the Quantas club. I passed on the fancy appetizer or pasta, and went straight for the beef. It didn’t disappoint. In fact it probably ranks in the top 10 burgers I’ve had.
With a full stomach, we hopped on the last leg of our journey and arrived in Auckland! Our next few days will be spent catching up on sleep and laundry, figuring out what we want to do here, as well as reflecting on our time in Asia.