Your Editor in Chief is taking a breather in China with a 3-week intensive Mandarin course at a small private school. So far I have put in 4 years of daily homework and training. I have been twice before in Hainan, a huge tropical island South of Hong Kong.
My home-town for these 3 weeks is Haikou, (the Mouth of the Ocean), the bustling administrative city with some 2 million people.
FinnishNews will continue publishing news on Finland, the Nordic countries and on topics that impact our northern corner of the world. The only difference will be that there will be a few extra interesting stories from China, and especially from Hainan.
The start of the journey was surprising pleasant and cheap when compared with Finnair’s prices. Cathy Pacific has direct flights from Europe to Hong Kong (10 hours) and thereafter there is a quick 1 hour hop to Haikou. I travelled first from Helsinki to Zurich, and from there to Hainan, via Hongkong. The total cost was €900 in Premium Economy, which is equivalent to Business Class in Finnair. Big seats, great food and tons of room! I even had Fast Track entry into all the airports walking around the crowds at security. The total cost was even cheaper than Finnair’s economy flight to Hong Kong. Great value.
Zurich is a calm airport with lots of space and plenty of big clean toilets. I have never understood the attraction of the Duty Free there or elsewhere. These places are just another excuse for selling “luxury stuff at prices you can see at any department store, anywhere. And who wants to carry heavy plastic bags of drink, perfume and chocolates that you can buy anywhere at home!
You may have noticed that I did not mention Helsinki Airport, nor Finnair (much)… better I say nothing about the tiny corridors and gates, where we are crammed into like cattle; better I say nothing about the lack of chairs at the gates; better I say nothing about the greedy prices of the hopeless cafes. Can you imagine paying €5 for oat porridge? A kilo package of dry oats costs just €1… talk about profiteering!
The coffee is bland and comes from automatic machines at a price that is beginning to soar above €5 a cup! What does Finavia (the airport owner, owned 100% by the Finnish government) think they are doing? Do they exist just to milk money from travellers with low quality services? You would think that they would want to sell a nice friendly image of Finland.
… and parking – on my last trip they debited my card twice for a week’s parking because their pre-booking system application forget that my car was already registered on the system, and Minister Berner’s digital camera system at the carpark entrance are about as reliable as her pronouncements on doing something about our high car taxation! It took 2 phone calls, and 3 emails to get my money back! I even had to scan all the documents before they would pay my money back.
Hong Kong airport is a Mecca of airports. Clean, airy, friendly – even MacDonalds feels great after a hot shower and the 10 hour flight!