Iceland ash cloud part two? Crazy menu listings in Vietnam: squidzel and crips
Here we go again?
The Telegraph in London today is reporting all flights between London City airport, Heathrow and Scotland were cancelled this morning because of the Icelandic ash cloud. We've got a ways to go before the disruption matches that of last year, but it certainly can't be helping European travel markets...
I was in Belfast last year when "ash cloud from hell part one" hit and had to spend an extra night, then make my way to Great Britain via a ferry to Stranraer, Scotland, then a train to Glasgow and on into London. Not so bad as these things go, but still a pain.
The scene was crazy at the Canadian embassy in London, with folks trying to get onto planes that simply weren't taking off. Let's hope it doesn't come to that again...
CRAZY MENU ITEMS IN VIETNAM
I love checking out funky menus when I travel. It's probably not nice to make fun of people's inability to master anything as silly as the English language, but I can't help it.
In Hanoi last week, I spotted a casual cafe near Hoan Kiem lake that offered up "roasted pork rips," "lemon sauce and chilly pork" and, my favourite, "steam squidzel." I don't know about you, but I've always thought Vietnamese cooks do great things with squidzel.
Also on the same menu was "stir-fry squid and several tastes." I don't know if they mean a whole whack of flavours or that you'll probably not like it much and only get down a few bites.
Vietnam, of course, isn't the only country that mangles English language menus. I've seen fried lamp for sale in Athens. When I was in Bangkok a few days ago, there was a food cart that said their food was "good, delicious, soft fragrant and frame clean and good health," and how do you argue with that?
Just down the road was a place offering "volcanic fried mussel and oyster." And I thought they only had that in Iceland....
FOUR SEASONS HONG KONG
Thanks again to the folks at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong for a great stay last Friday. It's a fabulous hotel with great food, killer views of the harbour and Kowloon and a wonderful swimming pool. They have a large pool for swimming laps and vary the temperature of the water to suit the conditions. They
also have an infinity pool that makes you feel as if you're swimming over to Kowloon, and they keep that at 28 degrees. In addition, there's a spa/hot tub that's kept at 38 degrees and a small, cylindrical "plunge pool" that's 15 degrees for when you really need to cool off or for when you want to try that Scandinavian cold water/hot water thing.
I can personally report that a plunge in 15 degree water is very, um, bracing, even on a warm May afternoon in Hong Kong.
The views are superb and they also have cool sculptures. They'll bring you cold, citrus-infused water and a cold towel as soon as you sit down, as well.
WATCH OUT FOR BAD ROWS ON BOEING PLANES
I've never really used those websites that give you outlines about what seats to avoid on what airplanes or airlines. I tried today but couldn't get seatguru.com to work and seatmaestro didn't seem to have what I wanted.
The reason for checking is that I was on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Toronto on Saturday. The flight was fine - they have good service and food and lots of entertainment options - but I was in a middle seat in row 41 on a Boeing 777 (I don't recall the exact plane model) and noticed a few things.
I like the way you slide down in your seat for a reclining position but that the seat or shell in which it is housed doesn't tilt back into the person behind you, if that makes any sense. It's a wonderful feature. I also noticed a small button above the tray that pops out, allowing you to hang up a light jacket or a sweater. Clever.
On the other hand, there was almost no clearance between the floor of the plane and the seat in front of me. I usually can slide my knapsack, which is full of camera gear and my laptop, under the seat in front of me but I had to unpack a bunch of stuff this time to get it to fit, and then there was very little place to put my legs for a 14-hour flight.
If you're going to take a long flight in the future, I'd advise checking to see the model of your airplane and such and try to determine the best seat. It could prove a very valuable investment...