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Old 6th December 2018, 05:32 PM   #16
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A few pictures of MG Road in Trivandrum. This road is a pretty major intersection in Trivandrum and has multiple shops where you can buy household items, clothes, appliances, mobile phones, etc. Shot on a hot and humid morning when my dad went to the bank around MG Road:







East Fort and Pazvangadu (Ganapathy Temple):

Notice the green cover? The temple is basically open, but a large portion of it is being renovated.






Maha Chips, where you can get fresh banana chips, popular in tropical climates.






A couple of pictures around Sree Varaham, closer to where my maternal grandmother lives:







Margin Free Market where you can get food, drinks, and household items, right adjacent to my grandmother's apartment complex. We came here a lot mostly to buy drinks as the weather was humid and we felt dehydrated at times:




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Old 6th December 2018, 06:00 PM   #17
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More pictures of Sree Varaham:

Sastas Sweets, where we usually go to buy sweets and other snacks and food.



A temple around Sree Varaham, a small shrine. During the Ayyappa season in December it is beautifully lit at night. Last trip I was there in December.



Some afternoon shots around the Sree Varaham temple pond:





Here's a few pictures around East Fort itself:

Padmanabha Swamy Temple, a very famous temple in Trivandrum:









After spending 5 days, we left for Chennai, which was basically the final stop for my mom and I during the trip. My dad also came, but as of now, while my mom and I have returned back to SFO, my dad has covered Chidabaram for religious purposes, Kolkata (currently), and returning to Chennai for religious purposes too. He'll be taking the same flights as my mom and I had taken.

It was a Thursday morning and we had an IndiGo flight around 10:40AM. We called the same driver who picked us up from the airport to come around 8:30AM. Apparently, he ran late and came at 8:45AM, but we still managed to check in and go through security quick. We did have about 40 minutes to spare which was not bad.

Some pictures of Trivandrum Domestic Airport terminal. I think it's good, but it really needs a facelift in my opinion. The international terminal is still a lot better:





This was the only side of the departure airside of the gates. The only good thing was we boarded through the aerobridge. Boarding commenced around 10AM and we pushed back about 10 minutes on schedule and took off to the east. 1 hour later we landed in Chennai's Kamraj Domestic Airport. Flight was pretty good as always with IndiGo. We collected our baggages, but it took longer than with other flights, and we ended up leaving in almost 45 minutes and got a prepaid taxi for our hotel in T. Nagar.

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Old 7th December 2018, 02:32 AM   #18
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The trip took about 35-40 minutes and we arrived at the hotel close to 1PM. The security guard welcomed us and opened the door with his smile and hospitality. Because the hotel looked like a 4-5 star place, you have security metal detectors but you need not have to put your bag in any of them.

Check in actually took longer than we expected, about 15 minutes, they wanted everything such as passports, flight information, etc. But staff was very courteous and friendly. We were given a room on the 7th floor.

For reference, we stayed at The Residency in Chennai, T. Nagar (Everyone gets confused between The Residency and The Residency Towers lol)

Here's a picture of the room:



View of Chennai (T. Nagar from the room):






Shortly that afternoon, we had lunch at a restaurant at the hotel called 'The Right Place'. We pretty much had curd rice, dosai, lassi, and a butterscotch milkshake. While I do not have any pictures of it, the food overall was very decent and I recommend it.

After that, we went back to the room to take some rest. That evening, we called an Uber and went to Mylapore Tank, which is where the Kapaleeshwarar Temple is, world famous Hotel Saravana Bhavan (there's several in Chennai and we happened to go to two of them), and a bookstore. We primarily went to the Tank because my dad wanted to inquire about something at another temple around it. This is something he's going to do in a few days from now.

A couple of pictures of the Tank:





We went to Saravana Bhavan that evening to start off with having a coffee. In Chennai, coffee is very popular like the entire Southern part of India, analogous to the way tea is popular. You must have their coffee if you visit Chennai:






Kaapaleeswarar Temple (both daytime and nighttime versions):





Giri Bookstore around the Tank. Basically here you can buy anything ranging from religious items to religious books and any books in general (Both daytime and nighttime shots):



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Old 7th December 2018, 02:42 AM   #19
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Later that evening, we went to T. Nagar as my parents wanted to stop around Nalli and do some shopping. Both daytime and nighttime shots are shown:

















Later that evening, we went to Saravana Bhavan for dinner, and I had their dosai. Unlike most Saravana Bhavans I've been to, they serve it in a plantain leaf:






At this Saravana Bhavan and the Mylapore Saravana Bhavan, service was very friendly and quick. The T. Nagar one took care of us really well and made sure they had what we needed. We also came here for breakfast. Another one in T. Nagar was not so friendly, the waiter was hesitant to adhere to our specific needs and this was the next day we went with my niece. However, at that one I had the Indo-Chinese, gobi manchurian, and it was really delicious.
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Old 7th December 2018, 02:55 AM   #20
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My parents did a lot of shopping at Kumaran Silks and Nalli. While they were shopping, I actually passed some time by hanging out at a park, just opposite to Kumaran in T. Nagar. This park is known as Panagal Park. I've passed through this but until this time I have never had the opportunity to come to this park. Here are a few pictures of Panagal Park:













Overall, I really liked Panagal Park in terms of the walkways and the statue there. The lush greenery made it for a really nice walk around. The weather in contrast to Trivandrum for all the 3 days I was there was not too bad, it was pleasant and comfortable with a touch of light humidity. There's also Natesan Park in Chennai, but I haven't had time or the chance to cover that. Maybe next trip if I can find out from locals how far it is from there.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:01 AM   #21
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Flight: Cathay Pacific Airways Flight CX632
Route: Chennai - Hong Kong
Aircraft: B-KQA (Boeing 777-300ER, 6.6 years old)
Livery: New
Date of Departure: December 2 (2:00AM), Arrival December 2 (9:35AM)
Seat: 53A (Economy Class)
Configuration: 3-class (Business, Premium Economy, Economy) AKA 77G

The end of the trip has come, so the rest of the last day we spent packing and hanging out at the hotel. Our Cathay Pacific Airways flight from Chennai was at 2AM. However, I was tracking the inbound flight on FR24 and the flight from HKG (CX631) was delayed for over an hour so our new ETD would be at 2:35AM with an arrival into HKG at 10AM.

We left the hotel around 11:30PM due to the latest ETD from Cathay Pacific's website and email by Uber. Uber is good for going to local places, but a terrible choice if you want to go to the airport. I had put Chennai International Airport, but when we reached the airport, the driver dropped us very short of the International terminal and this was the domestic terminal. We called him back to drive us to the International Terminal which was straight ahead and he generously did that. We got there only at 12:30AM because of this.

Line was very long before check-in. These type of long lines occur when you have too many flights departing that early and also Gulf (Middle Eastern) flights too. Check in on the other hand was smooth and quick. Security took a while for customs and checking bags.

The boarding time on our boarding pass had said 1:55AM, but the aircraft didn't even arrive til 1:30AM when we had already cleared security, so obviously the chance of boarding at that time was not possible. They need time to obviously clean the aircraft. As a result, the boarding time didn't even start til 2:35AM and ETD was at 2:50AM.

That day was the first day of revenue Boeing 777-300ER service to Chennai by Cathay Pacific. Unlike the SFO flights, they deployed the 9-across Boeing 777-300ER which is a 3-class 77G (Business, Premium Economy, and Economy Class). I could tell this was going to be very comfortable. The 77G used to also fly CX870/879 to SFO before transitioning to the new 77K. Chennai will eventually go daily 77K as all 77G will be converted to the 77K. It was a bad start because of the delay. I suspect the delay from Hong Kong was due to maybe an inbound US flight that was delayed and they were waiting for passengers to make the connection.

A few pictures of Chennai Anna International Airport:







The delayed Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER at Gate 16 at Chennai Anna International Airport. Notice the new livery of this plane:



Our gate for this flight would be at Gate 16, the same gate I remember departing SQ529 from in January 2017. Unfortunately, when getting to the gate, I knew the further delay would be imminent as it was obvious that only many passengers were deplaning the CX 77W.

A few pictures before and after going downstairs to the gates:










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Old 7th December 2018, 03:18 AM   #22
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Boarding only commenced at 2:30AM, because of the late arrival of the aircraft as I had said before. There were 3 lines corresponding to Economy Class row numbers. Eventually we all boarded and got into our seats. The fact I could see the Cirrus seats again and 9-across made it feel that it was going to be a very comfortable flight.

Captain made an announcement for our departure to Hong Kong which would be 4 hours and 20 minutes rather than the 5.5 hours. We would however arrive behind schedule, but only by 30 minutes which was not too bad.

A few pictures of the Welcome Screen on the 77G:









We pushed back around 3AM, started our engines and had a short taxi to the runway and took off around 3:10AM. Shortly after the IFSM made an announcement and breakfast would be served 2 hours before arrival. This is different in contrast to the SQ night flights out of India where dinner is actually served instead. Emirates has a similar style to CX where they also serve breakfast 2 hours before arrival.

I got a good 3 hours of sleep, and woke up to a beautiful sunrise. I have a video of it, but no picture so I have a morning picture just when breakfast was already served:



My meal (Idli and I believe sambar or chutney):



Again folks this is my vegetarian lacto-ovo meal. The Indian Vegetarian meal was different for passengers who had it. I don't recall what was served though.

The meal was overall okay to my liking, and I didn't feel like eating that much at the time. My rating would probably be a 7/10.

Some airshow pictures, and this was from their 3D maps they've had since 2006 when they first took delivery of their 77Ws:










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Old 7th December 2018, 03:39 AM   #23
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The Cathay Pacific 9-across Boeing 777-300ER cabin (77G). Note the difference between the 77G and 77K (10-across):







Soon, the pilot made an announcement 30 minutes before landing about our arrival and weather information in Hong Kong. Weather would be very sunny with a temperature around 25 degrees Celcius or 75 degrees Farenheit. He also apologized for the delay but we still made up some time but arrived about 30 minutes late. It did not in any way impact my connecting flight to SFO.

Some information about the arrival into HKG. I remember these blue screens from the time CX had 744's, and they are also available on their A330's with these seats. However, on their 77K, it's a completely different UI. I decided to take the opportunity to capture it before it goes.

They actually are very similar to the SQ screens on some of their old regional aircraft when arriving into SIN but not present in their 77W's:









Around 10AM, we began our descent for Hong Kong Airport:





We taxiied to Gate 41 at Hong Kong International Airport and still had about 3 hours to spare. After deplaning, we knew where to go this time for security since the layout was familiar to last time and it was done pretty quickly.

Shot of B-KQA in the new livery after landing in Hong Kong and going through security. Hong Kong Airport surely has great views of the planes and the tarmac:


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Old 7th December 2018, 06:56 AM   #24
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We still had about 3 hours to spare at Hong Kong Airport. Once leaving security, we were somewhere near gate 40. We walked in the center part of the airport all the way up to gate 21. On the way to gate 21, you could see some Holiday decorations and several new shops for coffee and duty free items. I'm not sure how long these have been there for, but the last time I've stayed this long at Hong Kong Airport (9 years ago), I don't recall seeing any of these shops - I am guessing they are a few years old.

The Christmas tree at Hong Kong Airport:



A few pics of Hong Kong Airport and the shops:









So here's where we had our cappuccino, at Pacific Coffee. It was really good:



The Mornings shop I believe was where we bought a cheese tart and egg tart. While I was hungry and ate the egg tart (my mom had the cheese tart), it was really delicious. I recommend this place if you want a quick bite:




Some pictures of the tarmac at Hong Kong Airport on a beautiful late morning/early afternoon:

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Old 7th December 2018, 06:57 AM   #25
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See where that Korean Air plane is in the distance? Yes, that's a 77W, but there's an empty gate slot next to it. That empty gate slot was our's, because at that time our plane for CX870 hasn't been put into that gate. I did see a plane parked in the middle of the tarmac at HKG that I believe looked to probably be our plane for CX870, and indeed it was!



B-KQT, a Boeing 777-367ER departing as CX828 for YYZ that morning. This plane is a 77G, still configured as a 9-across plane with the Cirrus seats I had ridden from MAA to HKG. My dad was coincidentally on B-KQT as CX870 when he returned from a family emergency in June 2017:



B-KQT still sports the old livery. According to Flyertalk, the latest KQ* series even if reconfigured will not be repainted for the time being.

















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Old 7th December 2018, 07:01 AM   #26
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Some more tarmac pictures:



SQ A359 parked somewhere past gate 16.



Proceeding to Gates 15-19 (Typically where SQ flights would depart including SQ1/2). My flight actually departed from gate 16:




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Old 7th December 2018, 07:18 AM   #27
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Flight: Cathay Pacific Airways Flight CX870
Route: Hong Kong - San Francisco
Aircraft: B-KQE (Boeing 777-300ER, 5 years old)
Livery: New
Date of Departure: December 2 (1:20PM), Arrival December 2 (9:25AM)
Seat: 49A (Economy Class)
Configuration: 3-class (Business, Premium Economy, Economy)

Hong Kong's boarding process is honestly not as good as SQ's. Even with SQ at HKG, they still organize the process by boarding group numbers or class of travel. People here just line up to queue. I thought boarding would actually start at 12:45-12:50PM, which is typical of most airlines. However, security blocked the gates, and they started only boarding around the scheduled departure time of 1:20PM. It looked rushed, but it was pretty quick getting into the aircraft and into the seat. However, we left almost 25 minutes behind schedule.

Flight on CX870 to San Francisco, departing from Gate 16:







As many of you may not care or know, B-KQE is the latest plane to get a Y-class overhaul from 9-across to 10-across. Additionally, this recently got the new livery and new Wifi (operated by Gogo, which is time based similar to how the former SQ Panasonic Wifi was). I don't think the plane's seats smelled new despite it being retrofitted 1 week before my departure. That's a little too much in the details, but what I got was what I got.

A Trip Advisor shop near gate 16 - hmmm, never seen these in any airport, so cool:



Gate 16, where we would be departing for San Francisco. Around Gates 15-19 are also common gates for SQ flights including SQ1/2:





Onboard CX870 to SFO:



We got on the aircraft around 1:30PM and a few more passengers were still boarding. We did not pushback til around 1:45PM. I did not hear of any captain announcement at all surprisingly during the flight, but the IFSM had mentioned our flight would be 11 hours and 28 minutes. It was honestly much more than that even after takeoff. We reached the runway around 2PM and took off to the northeast direction, passing through Taipei and continuing on the Pacific Ocean. The flight also touched through Japan, which meant turbulence did occur at times, and similarly even after Japan as well.

View of HKG airport after take off:



The seatbelt sign turned off about 10 minutes later once we reached a cruising altitude and the IFSM made an announcement that the aircraft was equipped with Wifi and to connect we'd use the Cathay Pacific network and refer to more details on the Wifi card. I actually got to try it out and it's definitely worth those $20 for a time based wifi. Seriously, why would SQ take this away from even Panasonic? Time-based option is always the best. If their new OnAir wifi is advertised to be fast, they should just go with time based altogether:

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Old 7th December 2018, 01:42 PM   #28
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For anyone who may be interested in how CX wifi compares to SQ's, I've attached a few screenshots for reference. If any of you fly CX and have Wifi onboard, I recommend Flight Pass as always. Hope this will be helpful:







Flight menu for CX870. I'm really surprised on my India based flights they did not give two things: An antiseptic towelette to freshen your face and a menu.





About 40 minutes after takeoff, lunch was served. First was the special meals including mine then regular meals came a little bit later to the cabin:





The pasta was pretty good for this meal. I also enjoyed the broccoli, which was soft and tender. I would rate this meal a 10/10.

Cruising in the late afternoon past Taiwan:



Beautiful sunset as we actually crossed Japan almost 2.5 hours later:





Around this time, pockets of turbulence kicked in and the seatbelt sign was turned on multiple times.

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Old 7th December 2018, 01:54 PM   #29
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At this point I was able to get a good 4 hours of sleep after sunset and despite turbulence. On this leg, I actually happened to get 2 seats to myself. However, my mom opted to sit in an aisle seat instead so she can have easy access to use the restroom and walk as she needed. Because the aisle seat on my row was not available, I put her in row 53H, which was still close enough and within the Y class section in the middle. I would have put her in 49C, but it was already taken at that time. Unfortunately on the flight it didn't look like too many people had 2-3 seats to themselves, it was more or less packed.

Even when the sun set, we were still asked to close our window shades even in spite of the cabin lights being on. I still snuck and opened the window a bit and took beautiful view pictures.

Here's a few pictures of the CX airshow:









Normally, you'd think the second meal of the flight would be breakfast 2-3 hours before landing, right? Wrong, this time CX did it again, disturbed passengers' sleep and gave the meal about 5-6 hours before arrival into San Francisco. Anyway here's a picture of my vegetarian lacto-ovo meal and this is actually dinner:





This was the pasta meal I've got on my flights. I pretty much enjoyed it and would rate it a 10/10. Honestly, on 870, I was expecting there would be breakfast as a second meal. SQ's style really does better, because breakfast helps you get some energy closer to landing so you are able to properly focus when you reach your destination and do misc things (i.e. clear customs, etc).

Airshow information. At this point past Japan, the ETA got changed from arriving at 9:35AM (10 minutes late) to almost 9:50AM. Headwinds, possibly?





Now you notice the empty seat next to me? More than the fact I could stretch and get a good sleep, now you observe the width and give me a fair comparison of whether it's cramped or not:



Surprisingly, the Wifi was able to detect my location even at above 30,000 feet. I don't remember that occurring with SQ's Wifi when I used it last trip:



Sunrise over the Pacific Ocean about 2 hours before landing at SFO:


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Old 7th December 2018, 02:08 PM   #30
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Soon the sun shined and it was morning and we were getting closer to California:



There was no pilot announcement surprisingly on the weather and information on arrival. Looks like I didn't miss any of it at all to start with. Only the IFSM made an announcement on our descent and information about US Customs forms. We started our descent around 9:35AM, flying over San Francisco. Because I was sitting right next to the wing, I could see some of the Golden Gate Bridge but couldn't capture it.

View of the San Francisco Bay Area on a clear morning. It was really welcoming to see this kind of weather and not smoke:





We touched down around 9:45AM and taxiied to the gate around 10AM. After that we deplaned, used the restroom, brushed our teeth and proceeded to US customs. Because we were US Citizens, we did not have to fill out any forms, just scan our passports and get a printed receipt. The line wasn't too long at all. It also didn't take too long to take our luggages. So we actually got out around 11AM, got a Starbucks coffee, called our Uber and got back to our home close to 12PM (Noon).
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