A little before midday I woke from my slumber, still sleepy, but determined to do something in Hong Kong. I already had a shopping list and, thanks to our location, an easy place to start.
The air of Hong Kong was distinctly tropical. A reminder of the local weather was a chart in the hotel lobby warning of the potential approach of a typhoon. Thankfully, it looked like I would be flying out before I would have a chance to feel any effects from it.
The hotel is connected to the Citygate shopping centre, which houses various discount outlets of well known chains. First stop before shopping was food. There are a few restaurants and cafes in the centre, but I wanted something quick and simple so I went for the food court and ate noodles. Then it was time to hit the shops.
I bought yet more clothes for Alex, clothes for B from Esprit and shoes for the two of us. My shoes would have cost at least double the price in Sydney and I needed them so much I disposed of my existing pair in the hotel room when I returned.
I would like to have stayed longer in the hotel, for I was again sleepy. The hotel pool looked very inviting, but I lacked a swimsuit. Citygate was no help there, and I still wanted to get B some better clothes, so I hopped on the MTR and caught the train first to Hong Kong station, then Admiralty on Hong Kong Island. It takes quite a while to travel to the city from the hotel. Fortunately, I emerged at the Pacific Place shopping centre, where I remembered that they had shops like Zara and Mango from our last time in Hong Kong.
Being very well trained by following B on numerous shopping expeditions overseas I was able to purchase B a couple of shirts from Zara, her favourite brand. I also found a Seibu Loft in the centre, so much tinier than its Japanese counterparts. A couple more cute items from there, including some bath toys from a manufacturer named, appropriately enough, “Alex”.
By this time I was hungry again. I felt the need to see Kowloon once more, so I tramped back down the tunnel to the MTR and caught it to Yau Ma Tei, close to where we stayed previously at the Dorsett Seaview.
Here was Nathan Road, with decrepit tenements overlooking a forest of neon. I had a terrible serving of chicken and rice for dinner, and a nicer ginger milk pudding and egg custard for dessert. Then it was another long ride back to Tung Chung and the hotel.
I got back to my room, ready to change into my swimwear and try out the pool. Then I looked at my boarding pass. In my tired and confused state I had thought that boarding was at 10:20pm, giving me plenty of time. No, boarding was inless than 20 minutes!
I quickly stuffed everything into my bags and raced back down to reception. I arrived in time for the shuttle bus service, met the same family as on the way in, and hoped to reach the airport in time.
Having already checked in for the entire flight, all I had to do was pass security and immigration. By the time I completed this the monitor was reading Final Call for my flight.
I rushed across to gate 22, still making it there before some of the other passengers.
The Qantas 747 still had the old blue interior, bringing back memories of earlier trips overseas. The lack of a first class and premium economy meant that I was able to sit further forward, in seat 35A. Next to me was an empty seat, with a young man in the aisle. The flight was the emptiest that I had seen all trip, with plenty on middle seats without passengers.
We were delayed in departure, the pilots waiting for fuel paperwork to be completed, then for an empty runway slot. I was still very sleepy, and indeed nodded off while we waited. Eventually, we pushed back and headed off into the dark.
The aircraft raced past the colourful lightshow of the airport and night and up into the cloudy skies. The first few hours were moderately rough, though the seatbelt light was not lit. I wondered if we hadn’t escaped from the effects of the approaching typhoon. At one point there were electrical storms to our left fluorescing bright blue with jagged trees of lightning visible across the sky.
But I was too tired to care. I watched the flight map and listened to my MP3 player with a near pair of headphones and occasionally fell asleep for brief periods of time. With my feet stretching out into the adjacent space I was feeling extremely relaxed.
We had a late supper of strongly flavoured lime and tomato chicken and then that was it for the night.
The next morning I watched the sunrise out of my window, counting down the hours left to fly. I ate a breakfast of softly scrambled eggs as the indigo sky grey gold at the horizon.
Before I knew it, we had begun our descent to the north of Sydney. I had brilliant views of the CBD out of my window, then we flew south of the city and across the Royal National Park to begin a southerly landing at Sydney.
As we taxied towards the terminal I saw Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas A380’s. I also saw plenty of Qantas 747’s. Had I flown any of those on this trip. I did not know, but I was glad to have had a chance to fly both types. I am always saddened to hear stories about Qantas retiring more of the 747’s, as they are wonderful aircraft with so many memories for me.
I emerged from the aircraft glad to be going home to my family. Before I made it through customs I had a brief argument with a peroxided Hong Kong woman who had blatantly cut into the line. As they do, she was extremely aggressive in return asking if “I was a man or a gentleman?”. I just ignored her, so as not to give her any face, but I now realise I should have said that if she cared about politeness then she should have said “excuse me”. Talk about cultural insensitivity! Pity that they didn’t bust her for anything at customs. It would have made a Border Security moment.
As I waited 15 minutes for the next train to take me home (a ride that cost me over $15) I reflected on the fact that, whatever is wrong with Sydney, it is still a nicer place than London.
It had certainly been an interesting trip. I had learned a lot, experienced the sadness of being away from family and seen some amazing sights. I found out I could handle long international flights again, even enjoy them, but that next time I wanted to be flying with my family.