We arrived at the Holiday Inn just as the airport express shuttle bus was pulling in so we made great time. At the Kowloon station for airport express line we checked in with the Cathay Pacific attendant and got our boarding passes. We waited probably the longest we'd ever waited for a train on this trip - 4 minutes - before one arrived. It whisked us quickly to HKG, where we immediately turned in our Octopus cards (stored value cards for the MTR and the airport express line) for our deposit and stored value back. Pretty neat that you can get it all back that easily. I don't know how or even if I could get my BART money off my BART card.
Hong Kong airport has a large arcade of shops and restaurants. The shops are all designer labels with a few ordinary newsstands / booksellers and toy stores thrown in. I found three shops selling the old Bandai Space Warp toy kits, just like what I had when I was a kid! My big Bandai set is in storage now but it made me a little nostalgic for setting it up at work again. Maybe sometime again. We ate at the Burger King (pressed meat chicken sandwich and pressed meat fish sandwich) and fortunately found a Starbucks. Mocha tastes like mocha even in Hong Kong, although it's neat to see their own regional winter flavors (toffee, dark cherry, and gingerbread). It's also funny to see all these Christmas decorations around town and even at the airport -- it never feels like Christmas when you're almost in the tropics.
The return flight itself was not even half full. We had the same seats we had on the outbound trip, save for being on the right side of the aircraft. They're nice seats, but 747s are loud. I'm still savoring not listening to anything now, no music, no headphones, no four jet engines less than a few score yards from you. I watched several movies (Minority Report, Get Smart, The Mummy: Return of the Dragon Emperor) and some TV shows. Cathay Pacific has a pretty extensive library; I could easily take another round trip and watch something new or that I haven't see in a long time. Definitely, way better than United for long-haul flights.
Back in San Francisco, we took BART to a bus home, and already I miss MTR and the Octopus card and the ubiquitous signs guiding you in the right direction for this station or that landmark. But it's also nice to be back doing work and not living out of my suitcase.