While Joy, Nick's effervescent and charming mother, chatted to the taxi driver, we relayed our journey to Nick's camera-enthusiast and equally football-mad father Steve. They had picked us up from
Our hotel, the Pan Pacific, was worthy of several attacks of hyperventilation. Upon entering the cavernous lobby, it took a few seconds of stupefied blinking before our eyes were drawn irrevocably upwards, darting from the gleaming glass lifts, settling on the first few levels, before travelling up the jaw-dropping, sky-high triangular corridor of floors, the ceiling barely visible. I would not have been surprised if the highest floors had been shrouded in clouds and their rooms inhabited by heavenly beings. Well, this is a lie. I would have been very surprised. But that's beside the point.
It was safe to say that our new hotel was jolly impressive.
After an ear-popping ascent to the twentieth floor in one of the smooth lifts, and after studying the complimentary shampoos and deciding which were worthy of thievery, my attention turned to the room itself. It is my belief that a hundred words can, on occasion, be summarised by just one. The occasion is now and the word is this: "wow". A seizure-inducing television set; lazy, remote-controlled curtains; a foolproof, spring-loaded mini bar (blast it); the shower which could peel skin from bone with a single blast... Sophistication reeked from every nook of this room (or perhaps that was just the post-journey stomach wind) and has, thus far, remained undefeated in terms of sheer, wonderfully unnecessary luxury.
And the view. If I was equipped with a head susceptible to black-outs upon being faced with dizzying heights and a stomach prone to spilling its contents at the slightest increase in altitude, then the view from the balcony would have been practically vomitorious. It opened onto
The evening beckoned, and our stomachs demanded nourishment. Taking the advice from James, a friendly manager, and with Nick's parents leading, we found our way to
You could be forgiven to expect a bustling, thriving
Much menu-eyeing and laborious decision-making later, we finally settled into our seats in a traditionally Chinese steamboat dinner restaurant. The concept of a steamboat dinner is an unusual one. Despite the name suggesting as much, each table is noting fact equipped with a miniature edible ferry, but a large heated metal basin divided into two sections, each containing bubbling and frothing flavoured waters, emanating mouth-watering odours. After placing each order for our choice of ingredients, several waiters would swoop into the room, each bearing countless platters of sliced-up raw meats and vegetables, only to encourage us to fling them into the bath, allowing our dinner to be boiled within seconds.
This was the easy part. To my dismay, I discovered the only way of transferring food-to-mouth would be through the use of chopsticks. I spent the next hour or so suppressing my desire to request a good-old knife and fork, stabbing at random grains of rice, fishing in the basin, dribbling sauce across the table and lifting precariously captured pieces of chicken or beef towards my mouth before realising they had mysteriously vanished and weren't to found anywhere. By the end, the table looked as though it had been the centre of a violent food fight.
Despite feeding mostly on air, I managed to leave the restaurant feeling quite full, occasionally snacking on pieces of food stuck in the crevices and folds of my clothing. We walked out of
Although we had only been introduced to but a fraction of
(Although staying in a 4-star hotel admittedly helps.)