A few drinks, a quick meal and a final check of the packing, we make sure that we have passports, money and tickets and vouchers, and after all that stuffing around the sleep doesn’t come that easily.
It’s a relief when the alarm goes off, breakfast, make the bed, shower, Mark turns up at 5.20 to transport us to the airport, in a pair of shorts that have seen better days, the car is spotless, funny that. At 5.30am, a time of the day I rarely see, the traffic is light, looks mostly like it’s taxis taking people to the airport.
We’re not the first at the airport, Jane and Andrew are already lined up, just after we wander in the maxi taxi spews out the other 4 out and Sonya gives us our boarding passes and explains why they have to check our bags in, I don’t get it but Genelle does, something about her changing flights so I say nothing, figuring it would be nice to get to Hong Kong today and still be alive. Alison is bouncing, her eyes are sparkling and she’s pretty chirpy, looks to me like psuedoephidrine or too many red cordials. Perhaps she’s a bit excited and is just showing it, anyway same as before, I’ll just keep that too myself.
For once Genelle and I don’t see anybody we know at the airport. Perhaps I’m still half asleep, and don’t pay much attention ( doesn’t sound like me) but it is odd.
Sydney on time, gate 15 and the shuttle to the International terminal. All is going well. Andrew and Jane catch up with their son “Little Andrew” – he’s looking a bit more like “Big Andrew” these days , grown up, and he needs a few minutes with his parents so we head through the gates of no return for a free sample of scotch and a coffee. The few moments between parents and son is good news, Jane and Andrew find out they have a new grandchild on the way, another heir to the Williams throne.
Il Commando, or he who cannot be mentioned in social media has a bloody mary that costs more than my plane ticket to Sydney, just to wash his bacon and eggs down, the rest of us have a coffee. Easy to see he’s got a job, the Scot in him is repressed, for just a moment anyway.
Gate 35 for our flight is chock a block with people, Flight CX162 to Hong Kong is delayed about half an hour. All our names are called, and I think immediately this is either really f…..g good ( like an upgrade) or really f….g bad (like getting bumped), anyway it’s only just something about wanting to scan our passports, some officious Cathay Pacific woman gives us the head tilt and drops the glasses to the end of her nose, just like Genelle does when you know you’re in trouble and says something about if you check in on line you have to report to the desk at the gate 30 minutes before departure – I check the boarding pass but can’t see anything that instructs anything like that. Maybe we’re a bit weary but us blokes sit down and roll our eyes and have little whinge, the women cluster in the First Class entry area and talk about babies and I would assume really important stuff.
As Cathay get themselves sorted the Economy passengers line up for about 50 metres, Il Gruppo ( that’s us ) are where I mentioned a few moments ago, The passengers who pay the big money casually stroll through, you can see their eyes glancing around to see who looks at them so the bastards can gloat about their big seats, champagne glasses, the New York Times paper on their bench as us peasants struggle past heading to the cheap seats at the back of the plane. Hope they choke on their gourmet roast chicken or spill hot espresso into their lap and ruin their Gucci slacks.
As we board we think we’re missing one of our group, Andrew is reading a book on his iPad oblivious that we did get a lucky break and short circuit the long line by boarding through the First/ Business Class entry – where the women were standing did have a bonus and we were invited to board through this entry, but some people in the long Economy line give us the hairy eyeball as we circumvent the long Economy line. I’m a bit sheepish now after my earlier rant.
Planes are planes, the long haul flights are mostly the same, cramped space and crap food, a movie, some Italian lessons, a g & t to wash a bit of nice fettuccini down – sort of ok so First/Business must be pretty good.
The flight is long and boring, much as you’d expect, just a means to get somewhere a long way away, the food isn’t too bad, gin and tonic was strong, and after a long 10 hours we land in Hong Kong after sundown. We lose Andrew for a minute, a loo stop and a smoke I think, then we’re quickly through customs and immigration, no problems and get our bags. Jane thinks she’s got the right bags at least, and no local bloke with a meat cleaver chasing us so it must be ok. The transport doesn’t work out so Sonya organises a train into Kowloon, then a free shuttle to the hotel, that works a treat. The Park Hotel is great.
15 minutes is all the time we’re allowed for ablutions then it’s off to find food and drinks. The women find a great restaurant, near the water, the food is fabulous and we drink a few Tsing Toa beers, excellent choice. Some wander back to to the hotel but a few of us wander down town, then up Nathan Road and back to the hotel. A few drinks at the hotel Happy Hour, 2 for one, and then unpack and bed by 12.30. For us that’s 20 hours on the go.
Despite nearly losing a few travellers and a few travellers nearly losing bags, that day has gone pretty well.
Tomorrow will be a bit more relaxing, shopping, shopping, site seeing and then another happy hour.
Ciao for Hong Kong