Embracing hanami and the transience of cherry blossom in Japan

Taking my first tentative steps alone through Tokyo one balmy April evening two years ago, I felt overcome with feelings of bewilderment and awe — but not for the reasons you might suppose. There was no culture shock, Lost In Translation style. Instead I was reeling simply from the surprise of finding myself suddenly and abruptly in Japan. If you’d told me two weeks prior that I would be flying ten hours across the world this dream of a city in a country I never thought I’d be fortunate enough to visit, I would have laughed in your face. Nevertheless,…

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Inside The Pier, Cathay Pacific’s first class lounge

There was a time not long ago that I had pretty amazing airline status. Then a couple of things happened — British Airways changed its executive club membership rules and I got a new job that means I can no longer fly in fancy seats — and it all went to pot. During that sweet, sweet time in my life, I was a lounge regular. I’ve seen the best and the worst there is on the circuit, but when all is said and done, there is really only one lounge that sticks out in my memory. Say hello to The…

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How to make the most of a 23-hour Hong Kong stopover

The primary reason I booked my flights to Australia in December with Cathay Pacific was that I had unfinished business in Hong Kong, the airline’s hub. I flew to Hong Kong when I travelled to Shenzhen and Shanghai last year for work, but the moment I landed I was scooped up by a people carrier and escorted across the border into mainland China. With my nose pressed against the window I watched as the towers and bridges and unfamiliar geography passed me by. I’ve always been fascinated by Hong Kong because at one point my parents were going to move there — it…

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Is it worth flying premium economy?

More often than not over the past few months I’ve ended up in premium economy when I’ve been flying long haul. Premium economy is the bit of the plane that you get to after you’ve passed through after business class (when your heart starts to sink), but before you get to economy (when you just want to burst into tears). Why oh why can’t they board us the other way around? I’ve only flown premium economy for business, but I thought I’d give you a little run down of what the experience is like, as I know it can be a…

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5 watery adventures in 5 different countries

Messing about in boats — there’s nothing quite like it. I first got a taste for it when I was seven years old on Loch Lochy near Inverness. My father stationed me at the helm of the little motorised dinghy we’d hired and off we went, zig-zagging erratically across the water. My ashen-faced little brother nervously gripped the sides, while I struggled to keep control. My parents thought the whole thing was hilarious. I am the first to admit that when it comes to propelling and navigating a craft through water, I am always more enthusiastic than I am skilful.…

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