The 2slowspeeds are off again! Our departure day, set for 6th July, chosen to get us to an important family event on the 10th July in the UK, was never going to be easy for me – Anne speaking here. Are you excited, we kept being asked? Departure days are never exciting for me as I do not enjoy air travel – I am a nervous wreck. Crazy I know but there are some irrational fears one can not always tame…. I did see a hypnotherapist about 20 years ago when I was told go to Singapore for work. I had 2 sessions and off I went – it was a breeze. Brilliant, I am cured! Fantastic. Many business flights later then a holiday with Anthony and we are in Durban, taxiing away from our gate when the plane comes to a sudden stop. Out of my window, I see an engineer arriving with a short step ladder. He has a screw driver in his hand. He climbs up, lifts an engine access flap in the engine ‘tweak’ ‘tweak’, climbs down and the captain announces we are good to go. Brilliant, we are stuffed. None of the visualisation exercises worked. But of course, we took off and landed safely, like we have many times since. Luckily my desire to see family and friends and discover new places is stronger than my fear, so here I am talking to you as the plane takes us to Hong Kong for the first leg of our journey to the UK, listening to Neil Young’s Harvest album. Nostalgia…
Today is a particularly emotional day, the day my dear brother did the toughest thing anyone can and ended his life 17 years ago. You never ‘get over’ the pain of losing a loved one but you learn to live with it… He is no doubt one of our many guardian angels busily looking over us on our recent round the world trip. Merci Al1!
This morning was a mad dash as we closed our home for 5 months – so many things to switch off. We remembered to remove all batteries this time – we think! After a wonderful send off dinner last night with a couple of friends, other friends took us to the airport this morning – lovely.
Our check-in experience, a comedy of errors, was hilarious if I wasn’t such a nervous flyer, wondering whether these were signs not to fly!! First, she couldn’t find Anthony’s booking – his frequent flyer number wasn’t in the booking even though we used his frequent flyer points to book our flights, then she could only find the flight to Hong Kong, not the one to London, then she asked if we had ever travelled on our passports as she didn’t have any details on us. It took us 30′ to sort all this out!
The lumps in the sky have smoothed out now, only 90′ to go before we get to Hong Kong. Ok, now I am starting to get excited :-).
First step off the plane in Hong Kong, the air gap between the hermetically stale airplane air and the freezing air-conditioned gangway to the terminal greets us with a beautiful whiff of sticky hot air – for that split second, we are unmistakably in South East Asia. It is 7pm and 30 degrees centigrade. Coming from our Queensland winter, where temperatures this past week plummeted to below 20 during the day, it feels wonderful.
We decided to stop over in Hong Kong for the night – the trip from Australia to Europe is so long and tiring to do in one hit and we hadn’t visited this place for many years. We are not big city type of people but what an amazing, awe inspiring place this is. From the number of new bridges, new fly overs, new road link to Macau under construction, the largest container port we’ve ever seen, the number of container ships coming and going, concentrated residential high-rises. This place is alive!!! It is moving. Moving out to sea literally as part of a massive new Pearl River Delta project https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_River_Delta . The waterfront building we watched fireworks from on 30 June 1997, the day of the hand-over of Hong Kong to the Chinese, was now 2 blocks back from the water thanks to land ‘reclamation’. On the ground, in the streets, Hong Kong Central seemed unchanged despite the impressive new shiny buildings. It doesn’t seem to have lost its identity, it is not all new shiny things for the sake of new. The old Chinese shop fronts signs, the skinny rickety double decker trams with no windows, the ‘lumpy’ pavements, the food halls, hidden away from view at the top of a long set of stairs, the old English double decker buses, the smells, the narrow, twisty roads. What incredible vision and spacial awareness to have designed and built the network of roads and ramps in the centre of old Hong Kong island with so little space and such steep terrain. It would be fun to ride the motorbikes there, with no fixed destination – because it would similarly be hell to try and get somewhere without ending up taking numerous wrong turns as there is no room for stopping there. Life is on the move.
We didn’t spend long in Kong Kong, but we enjoyed the juxtaposition of old and new, not forsaking the old for new when the old still does the job. Unfortunately we didn’t spend long enough to find out how things had changed for the people of HK post hand-over in 1997. That would be interesting…
This day, the 6th of July, was a day full of emotions and senses. Europe here we come!