The night before last, I experienced something that I hoped never to experience in my life. I visited a hospital in China. I've never had to visit a hospital before in my life even in the US, so to say I was unprepared for what I experienced is an understatement.
I am currently in China on business and I'll be honest and say that I drink very little liquids while I am here. I spend most of my days in factories and the bathroom facilities aren't the greatest, so I try to avoid them. Last night, as I was leaving the factory for the night, I noticed an extremely sharp pain in my left side. I thought it was most likely some kind of cramp and all I needed was to make it to a bathroom back at the hotel, but after almost two hours, the pain was not subsiding and it became absolutely excruciating to the point where it was making me physically ill. A bit of Googling and discussing with a coworker told me that I most likely had a kidney stone.
In general, I don't take medication ever aside from the occasional Ibuprofen. Even if I'm sick with a cold, I rarely take anything for it and just prefer to wait it out. In this case, I was hoping I could do the same, but after two hours of excruciating pain, I couldn't wait any longer. I got on the phone with International SOS, which is a service that my company thankfully provides to employees abroad who have medical emergencies. Unfortunately, the process was terribly slow, and, although I had a very nice doctor to talk to, after telling her my symptoms and where I was, it took the service over 30 minutes to decide what hospital would be best. Ideally, I wanted to go to a Westernized hospital with doctors who spoke English, but that was a completely false hope. I honestly had a vision of myself in a white bed in a room by myself with an IV waiting out this kidney stone thing. Boy was I wrong...
We spent a weekend in LA a while back and decided to stay at Hyatt the Pike Long Beach. LA hotels are typically extremely expensive and we liked the idea of being a bit closer to Orange County, so we went with Hyatt the Pike. The hotel is located right in the middle of downtown Long Beach and it's actually pretty much across the street from another Hyatt property, the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, which is older and larger than the Pike.
We arrived at the hotel in the evening and were able to park our rental car out front and unload our stuff. Parking at this hotel is done across the street in a city parking garage, but overnight parking was only $7, so it was actually quite a good deal. Unfortunately, check-in was very slow and the front desk agent didn't seem to know much about what he was doing. He forgot to mention the Diamond amenity, so I had to go back later for that, and overall, it just took far too long to check in. I was actually in the early stages of being very sick and my entire body was aching, so all I wanted to do was check in quickly and efficiently and get upstairs to lie down.
Once we finally got our room key, we headed upstairs where we had a room on the 6th floor. The hallways were dark, but had lighted numbers on all of the doors and were fairly nicely decorated with some playful mirrors and sconces. We had been upgraded slightly but I honestly can't remember if it was to a Deluxe King room or an Executive King room. The room was a good size and had a desk with a minibar to the left and couch right in front when you walked in the room, then to the right was the bedroom area and bathroom. The bedroom had a closet with the safe, an iron and ironing board, and extra bedding. It was all one space and wasn't fully closed off, but the room was nicely divided by a swiveling TV so it could be watched either from the couch or the bed.
The bathroom was gorgeous and bright with gray and white tiles all around and a glass enclosed rain shower. It was one of my favorite parts of the room.
We had a pretty quiet night and got dinner to go from a nearby restaurant because it actually hurt for me to move at this point. Little did I know that the full body aches meant I was in the early stages of a flu and I was scheduled to fly to China for work two days later.
By the next morning, I wasn't as achy, but I started feeling nauseous, so I wasn't very interested in breakfast. As a Diamond, we had $24.50 each to spend at the hotel restaurant, Bay Street Kitchen, so I went along anyway and tried to find something simple to eat. Chris went for the Cinnamon French Toast and I tried (and failed) to eat the Yogurt Parfait. The restaurant was bright and cutely decorated and service was attentive, so it was still a nice space to sit for a little while.
After breakfast, we quickly checked out the rooftop pool, which was small, but deserted so early in the morning. It had a great view and some nice seating available and would have been nice if I was feeling a little bit better.
Overall, the hotel was very nice. It had a bit of a boutique feel to it and it was a good option for our trip. The rooms were quiet and everything was comfortable. Aside from the slight service issue with our check-in taking longer than it should have, everything went smoothly. This hotel is a great option if you're in the area and it has a nicer, more personal feel than the massive Hyatt Regency down the street.
Travel Planning: Fall in Asia
Review: LAX Star Alliance Lounge
Review: Singapore Airlines Suites Class LAX - NRT
Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
Recap: Time in Tokyo
Review: HND JAL First Class Lounge
Review: JAL Business Class HND - GMP
Review: IP Boutique Hotel Seoul
Recap: Time in Seoul
Review: ICN Cathay Pacific Lounge
Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class ICN - HKG
Review: Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui
Recap: Time in Hong Kong
Review: HKG Cathay Pacific “The Wing” First Class Lounge
Review: Cathay Pacific First Class HKG - SFO
At the beginning of our trip, we flew Singapore Airlines Suites class to Tokyo, so I drew a lot of comparisons between that and the Cathay Pacific First class experience during the flight home. Singapore Airlines has gotten a massive amount of attention lately for their Suites class, but you might be surprised when you find out which I preferred between what are considered two of the best First Class products in the world.
We knew we wanted to visit Asia last fall since I had never been, and we had a few ideas of where we would like to visit, but in the end, we booked our trip solely around the premium award availability we were able to find on Singapore Airlines and on Cathay Pacific. We worked with Alex over at Points Pros and he did an amazing job - he booked us on our top two preferred awards - Singapore Airlines Suites class and Cathay Pacific First class. Both are consistently chosen as the best international first class products in the world, so we were extremely excited, to say the least.
For this award, we were able to reserve two first class seats from HKG - SFO for 67,500 AAdvantage miles + $56.60 taxes each. Honestly, this was quite a bargain and I was very happy to be flying directly in to SFO rather than having to connect via LAX. However, the availability is what you will find most tricky when booking this award. Per Alex: "It’s been a LONG time since I’ve seen two first class seats this far out, and these are the only premium cabin award seats on HKG - LAX/SFO for the entire month of October," so we got really lucky!
Cathay Pacific Airlines #872
Hong Kong (HKG) - San Francisco (SFO)
Thursday, October 7th, 2014
12:30 AM - 10:15 PM (-1): 12 hours, 45 minutes
Boeing 777-300ER: Seat 2A (First Class)
We arrived at the airport quite ahead of when we needed to be there because our flight was so late at night and we had run out of things to do while we were waiting. We headed straight for the First Class check-in area, which is located all the way to the left when entering the HKG international terminal. The First Class check-in area is very large and has more agents to help than you could ever need. When we checked, we noticed that somehow I had been bumped from my confirmed seat, 2A. Since Chris was in 1A, this was a bit of a problem because we did want to sit near each other on the flight. The reason for the bump, I expect, is that Cathay typically reserves 1A and 2A for Oneworld Emeralds and I was but a mere Sapphire. However, Alex had worked some magic for us after we made our reservation and confirmed me into seat 2A regardless of my lowly status. After bringing up the issue during check-in, the agent was able to correct things and gave me back my original seat. We received our boarding passes and our lounge invitations and were on our merry way.
We spent several hours in The Wing First Class Lounge prior to boarding which was luckily right by our gate by the time we were ready to board. A rather annoying aspect of boarding flights to the US from HKG is the need to go through a secondary screening once arriving at the gate so that it can be ensured you are bringing no liquids on-board the aircraft. Once we had cleared the screening, we waited for about 10 more minutes and then were allowed to board.
This flight is flown on a Boeing 777, so it's not as exciting as the A380 double-decker we had flown on our way to Tokyo, but the first class section was set up very nicely. For this flight, Cathay's first class is set up in a 1-1-1 configuration with only two rows, so there are only six first class passengers. On our flight, four out of the six seats were full, so the middle seats remained empty. One of the reasons we pushed to get my seat switched back to 2A is that 1A and 2A are arguably the most private seats in first. The middle seats face the other side of the aircraft, so 1A and 2A each face a wall, which means you won't see any of the other passengers at all.
The seats were large and plush with a footrest directly across from the seat and a TV, which could be pulled out, to the right of the footrest. The footrest could also be used as another seat if you want to dine with another passenger at their seat. It's also possible to place small items underneath the footrest so that you don't have to store them overhead, which I always appreciate since I don't like having to get up if I want my Kindle or some other device. The fresh flowers placed in the small vases above each seat were also an extremely classy touch. While these seats were not fully enclosed suites like Singapore Airlines, they were still extremely comfortable and since we were in 1A and 2A, we still experienced plenty of privacy.
Despite how late at night it now was, we were both energized for the flight and were excited to get underway.
Shortly after we boarded, the first class crew came around and introduced themselves and welcomed us aboard by name, which was very nice. A few minutes later, they passed out our pajamas, which came in a nice matching tote bag, and amenity kits. Unlike the Singapore Suites amenity kits, I thought these ones were much more useful. Instead of being filled with perfume and lotion, the kits had things you would want on a long haul flight: a brush, toothbrush, face cream, etc.
Before takeoff, we were also offered a pre-departure beverage and an amuse-bouche, which had mango and some kind of shellfish along with a cracker. I don't like shellfish, but it was admittedly pretty good. I tend to nurse my drinks, so since I knew I wouldn't have much time, I just went with a water to start.
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.