The worst part of the trip was the transfer at Hong Kong. Rather than a simple walk from one plane to another, there was a very long, snaking queue that shuffled forwards like bunch of reluctant monks at an auto-de-fe.
This queue, after going by a single person (who’s sole job was to circle your flight number and time of departure on your boarding pass) was then sent through the whole security thing…again. I mean we’d only been on a plane having been security-ed in London. Annoying! Though, to be fair, I did have three hours to kill so it didn’t really matter where I spent it.
The lady from the seat next to me had stood with me through the whole queue thing, chatting about this and that. But as soon as we cleared the x-rays and, frankly, not very burly security staff, she had to rush off to make her connecting flight. It felt a bit odd saying goodbye to a complete stranger you’d merely met on a plane and would never see again. Ships that pass, and all that.
It reminded me of Alan, our favourite taxi driver. He drove me and the poodles to the kennel and then came back to drive me to Heathrow. He is finally moving to Australia, permanently. He’ll be gone by the time we get back this trip. We’ll miss him. Of all the drivers who wait for fares at the station, he is by far the nicest. Still, at least I said goodbye. And, like my Manilla Lady, I’ll probably never see him again.
Note that the Starbucks at gate 44 in Hong Kong airport allows the use of smartphones to pay for your coffee. Having a few hours to kill, I figured I’d buy a coffee but, of course, I didn’t have any Hong Kong dollars. I looked around for an ATM but was unsuccessful. Of course, I’ll pay with my Visa card, thought I. Then, as I reached the barista and asked if I could pay with my phone, he said, “Of course.” Technology is brilliant.
The flight from Hong Kong to Sydney was nothing like full in Premium Economy and almost empty in Business Class. At one stage I poked my head round the curtain into economy and it was heaving. The effect of having only a handful of passengers in Premium Economy meant I could ‘steal’ the blessed seat 30G. It also meant everyone could shuffle around and, basically, have a row to themselves. Everyone was happy.
Again, I managed quite a lot of sleep. It really is amazing the difference when you can stretch your legs out. At one stage, I was so deeply asleep, I even had a dream – not that I remember it…I never remember my dreams, just remember having them.
In the entertainment department, I tried to watch a Chinese film called Trip to Thailand which I’d heard was very funny. It’s a small budget movie which has proved a big winner for the producers. And I was enjoying it but every now and then, the subtitles came and went faster than they could be read. After a bit of this, I realised I was really trying to read the film rather than watch it and I was missing a lot of visual stuff. I gave up eventually and watched Hitchcock instead.
Anthony Hopkins is brilliant as Hitchcock. Utterly believable. Naturally, Helen Mirren was also superb but with me being such a huge fan of many years standing, it’s quite difficult for me to be truly objective.
The plane arrived at Sydney ten minutes early and I just went right through like a barrel over a waterfall and beat Bob to the arrivals hall. It meant I had time to get a coffee (not Starbucks).
And then, finally, back to Dural.