Monday, December 25, 2006

To Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific Flight

So I boarded the plane just in time after my ordeal in NAIA. Being the air travel noob that I am, I thought I could sit just anywhere. It's a good thing a was going over my ticket at the time and I realized that I had a seat number. Fortunately, I was able to transfer to my designated seat before any real embarrassment could occur. I was seated in the aisle so I wouldn't get any good views. No one was seated beside me though so I guess that's good. I was a bit worried as it took some work to get my bag to fit into the side compartments. No problem in the bigger middle compartments though. The cabin crew was a mix of races/cultures. I spotted, as expected, some Chinese/Hong Kong folks. In addition there was a Pinay, probably an Indian and Caucasian. The pilot meanwhile had a distinct British accent. The steward serving my aisle was probably from Hong Kong and English wasn't his first language. I don't consider that a bad thing though as long as I could understand him. For some reason, one thing I was looking forward to was the airline food. Especially the Hong Kong to Vancouver flight which will take around 11 hours. However, I wasn't so into the food here. It was some kind of sandwich with some fruits on the side. Service was decent, the crew was courteous with "your welcome" after every "thank you".

Although I was recovering from my baggage mishap, my mood was going back to depressed as I had some short views of the ground as the plane took off. Good thing I was able to compose myself. I also distracted myself looking at the in-flight displays of our current location, elevation, time remaining, etc. I was able to take some short naps during the 2 hour flight. Not once did I think of using the washroom.

Finally Hong Kong came into view. As the plane landed, I could see that the runway was just beside the Sea. Seemed to be a rough landing though as I remember 2 or 3 thuds. After a few minutes, the plane came to a stop. I let most of the other passengers out before I started getting my bag. I stepped off the plane and realized that for the first time in 20 years, I find myself in another country.

Hong Kong International Airport

So I find myself in what seems to be the immigration area. The airport doesn't seem so busy being that it's Christmas day. I see lots of seats, where some people are even sleeping. I spot a Starbucks and a Watsons which remind me of home. I also see this long hallway that doesn't seem to end. This is one big ass airport.

So I start off just walking around aimlessly. My flight schedule isn't even on the screen yet since it's too early. So I just sit down and waste a few minutes. I see a couple taking pictures. Now I'm hesitant to take pictures because of how things are in the Philippines (Security guards stop you from taking pictures). And my friend Mike's story about how a soldier nearly confiscated his camera in an airport in China. So I ask at the Airport authority desk and they say it's allowed but not in the immigration area. I guess they're pretty lax today. I decided to get some of my money changed to Hong Kong dollars in case I wanted to eat or something.

I finally muster the courage to walk down the long hallway. I also do it because the Air Canada counter wasn't in that area. I hear some people actually take a bus or something to get around the place. I also see these small vehicles zipping about. One also had Santa Clause on it.

Anyway, I found Air Canada's counter. It's closed. So I look around and wonder what I could do to kill time (I have about 6 hours to kill by the way). I see restaurants on the upper levels but have no idea how to get there. I'm checking out all the elevators and escalators but none seem to lead to that place. So I just sit down again and kill more time doing nothing. I probably dozed off a few times.

Oh yeah, I spotted German Pool great "The Kaiser" Ralf Souquet. A little over a month ago, he made it into the finals of the 2006 WPA World Pool Championships (9 ball) that were held in Manila, Philippines. Although he lost in the finals to hometown hero Ronnie Alcano, he won the respect of the Filipino fans who even chanted his name after his emotional post match speech. He was seated with someone, presumably waiting for his flight. I was headed to the washroom at the time, and I thought I'd muster the courage to get his autograph when I come back out. Unfortunately, he was gone when I came back and I never saw him again.

Finally, Air Canada's counter opened. The lady at the counter handed me the boarding pass and I noticed that she also gave the one for Vancouver-Winnipeg. After this, I sit down somewhere else and doze off a few more times. Exciting stuff. It was nice observing people though. This was my first time in an international setting. And it was quite refreshing to hear a few Tagalog words every now and then.

I also decide to call up my wife Meanmean. It was nighttime in Winnipeg and still approaching Christmas. I didn't have a lot of coins so we wouldn't be able to talk long. I update her that I'm in Hong Kong. I also ask her how I can contact her from Vancouver. I won't divulge any more info since I don't feel like putting mush on my blog :)

Finally my 6 hours were nearly up. I decide to go to the boarding area. So I go through the usual inspections. Up the escalator, and... damn. So that's how you get to those restaurants. There's also a bunch of shops. Oh well. Someday I'll come back here and take advantage of all this. Gotta get ready for an 11 hour flight now.

Hong Kong International Airport info:
Official site
from Wikipedia

Hong Kong:
from Wikipedia

Ralf Souquet info:
Official Site bio
from Wikipedia

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