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HONG KONG | Friday, 17 August 2007 | Views [190]

Got up at 4.00am – freezing. All packed or as packed as I’m going to be. Matthew got up and drove me to the airport – we had a couple of coffees and he went to work. I went through security and onto the plane with no dramas.

There we all were, sitting, sitting. Take off time was 7.35am but this time came and went and no movement. Eventually the captain – very British accent for this Chinese owned plane – (Cathay Pacific) – the technicians were working on something. And working.  And working.  After 1 hour with us all sitting in silence, an announcement. We needed a new part. This part helped read altitude, so a fairly vital in an aeroplane, But they didn’t have a spare. Neither did Qantas. In fact, the nearest spare part was In Melbourne so we had to wait till it arrived. So we were asked to “de-plane”. (Who makes up these words?) So all out again, back to Gate 34. They gave us a voucher for breakfast - $10 (2 copies!!) and check in an hour. Eventually we got going about 11.30am. Four hours late.

So we’re on our way. But, hey, I’ve just discovered that I have a pair of scissors in my bag! Obviously the X-Ray machine didn’t see them! Yesterday the Melbourne airport shut down because someone handed some keys around the security point! But I’m on an International flight with a pair of scissors.

The flight went on and on. Shortly after I wrote the scissors thing the pilot got on the blower again. He started the “Good News, Bad News” routine. Good news – we’re on our way. Bad news- we’re 4 hours late. Good news – It’s fixed. Bad news – air crews are only allowed to work 10 hours at a time. Strict rule. So we were going to have to detour and land in Manila in the Philippines. To swap crews. So that we did, with a 40-50 minute stop on the ground to change crew and refuel. By the time we got to Hong Kong it was 9pm (HK time) which is 11pm Sydney time. The plane was supposed to have arrived   in at 3pm (HK time). Then through Immigration and Customs (pretty easy) and out into the throng.

 

The plane was very quiet after Manila. Everyone was exhausted and sleeping. All the people who’d missed connections were resigned to it. Twice I woke myself up with that loud snoring/snorting thing!

The man with the green jacket was holding up my name so that it was easy, and I lined a big group of people looking for hotel transport. Eventually on to a bus. It was pouring with rain and the trip seemed to take ages. But eventually the Kimberley Hotel appeared.

Best part of the day – shower and into a clean bed. And I slept like a log!! Apparently they are going to move me today – didn’t get why. This room is OK. Twin beds. Clean. View of the other high-rise buildings. Obviously not the wealthiest part of Hong Kong.

TODAY: Still raining. Overcast and grey. When I got in last night there were lots of people wandering around. I didn’t feel overwhelmed, like in Bangkok. Touch wood.

MIDDAY: I’ve been for a bit of a walk. The hotel is in Kowloon. Every corner I get asked if I want to buy clothes. Tailor made. The tailors all appear to be Indian and I try to avoid eye contact.  But that doesn’t stop them – although they aren’t persistent. Unlike Bangkok (and to a lesser extent Kuala Lumpur). It strikes me that there is a racial element to this – the Asian people don’t get asked. Traffic lights and road rules are obvious; as is the lack of motorbikes. Back here – a quick look at maps and the Lonely Planet book, and off again. I feel a bit better orientated.

NIGHT-TIME: I went off to Kowloon Park which was lovely. In the middle of the bustle and high-rise buildings, it’s an oasis of calm. With Chinese Gardens, birds, lakes and so on. In the bird aviary the first bird I saw was a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, in a cage with some Black Cockatoos.  And in another part of the park was a man doing Tai Chi.

Tonight there was a thunderstorm. Because of the heat? Or the edge of Typhoon Sebag which has crossed Taiwan and caused flooding in Manila. (All the crew that were off loaded there from the plane, then got stuck there).In my heat-haze and tiredness the imagination works overtime. Will it be safe to go to Macau tomorrow? Later I realize that the typhoon has gone north. But we must have skirted that typhoon on Thursday.  At this point I’m thinking that this trip is a stupid idea!

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