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This is what it should be like

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Pete's Churchill Odyssey 2005

1st Dec 2005
Dim sum, lose some

Thursday, 1st December, 2005
The most notable thing about today is that its Ben’s seventeenth birthday.
Up at 7, showered and packed by 8 and then loaded the car. Said our thanks and goodbyes to Stuart and Di and set off across Canberra for the airport at about 8.25. Its back to being a beautiful day in Canberra after the severe lapses in concentration over the last ten days.
All went smoothly; dropped Anne and the bags, parked the car, dropped off the keys and checked everything through to Hong Kong. The flight was delayed which did set one or two alarm bells ringing about the connection out of Sydney but there was nothing to be done about it.
We queried the connection with the Flight Attendant; her response was a bit surprising “Were you supposed to be on the earlier flight?”
“Did you book this one … or was it a travel agent … because there’s no way you’d have made that flight anyway. There’s only 25 minutes and you have to change terminals. I’ll have a word with the Captain.”
Well that didn’t fill us with confidence that we would be leaving Australia at all today and I began to think about what we could usefully achieve in Sydney …
Back came the flight attendant. “The Captain suggests that you go to the service desk opposite the gate when we land and there will be one of our representatives there to talk to you.” (Talk to me? Please don’t send anyone to TALK to me !!!)
We collected our goods and chattels in a rush and barged off the plane, only to find that there was a bus outside to fill which would take us across to the terminal … we were first off it and raced up the escalator to hear a tannoy announcement for passengers Moore to go straight to the International Transfer lounge. We ran and from 30 yards out were spotted by the Service personnel who had already checked us through.
“Go down, get on the bus and tell him to ‘drive’.
The first problem was that the bus driver was reading his newspaper and was outside a locked door. The second problem was that he had the key … he eventually opened it but wasn’t about to perform any heroics or anything which might have set his pulse running just slightly faster.
We crossed the tarmac airside by bus and then waited for about 4 precious minutes for a plane to shut itself down. We then waited for another as it manoeuvred to the terminal and finally got to a door that would let us into the terminal. More running and straight to the front of the customs queue no p*ssing about … bearing in mind that I had my hat on, I looked a bit like Crocodile Dundee on speed as we by-passed about three hundred people. Luckily we found a switched on operator at the head of the queue who took us to a separate desk and cleared us through.
We ran the last two hundred metres to Gate 31. Anne getting more and more cross from the enforced work out routine. Anyway, they’d been tracking us across the airport, knew we’d left the bus and were just about to start paging … (whether that also included having someone watching two people steaming across video monitors on the way, I don’t know) anyway, they let us on and shut the flight. Phewww!
It took a while to cool down from that one but the flight was largely uneventful. We hit some huge air pockets across the centre of Australia and the plane got chucked around like a rag doll, just as they were trying to distribute food.
Anne suduko’d, I started to sort my Christmas cards and then slept.
Its about 8 hours up to Hong Kong and it went quickly and we were soon descending into the mist and clouds over the South China Sea.
We waited forlornly beside baggage chute number 4 and at some point I thought I heard a voice say over the tannoy about ‘Peeeta Maw’ but ignored it until the belt stopped.
Across at the help desk, they had been trying to page us (velly solly …) and tell us that the bags hadn’t crossed the airport quite as fast as we had and therefore were travelling Cathay Pacific and would arrive later that night (sank yow … velly solly).
Out in the arrivals hall we were about to come under slick Chinese efficiency … we found the CTS desk (Chinese Travel Services – how the hell you’re supposed to know what that means, I have no idea) and then were told to (sit on bwoo chair and wait for driver).
About fifteen of us were herded onto a bus, which started to negotiate the evening traffic from HK Island across to Kowloon. We glimpsed the masses of high buildings, the largest container wharf in Asia (vast!), the bridges and millions and millions of small Chinese types walking determinedly along the pavements.
The Hotel Metropole is north of the main touristy harbour front and as we descended from the bus, we were set upon by anxious Chinese porters who were already climbing inside the bus luggage compartment to retrieve our bags and were ‘velly solly’ when they found we had none; just the hand luggage we were towing.
Checked in to the 10th floor, the enquiry about internet revealed that although the hotel didn’t have wireless … it did have cable ports for access … and you could buy the cable here for HK$30; fine once I found that there were 12 to the pound !
After checking the room we went down to the hotel café for a bite to eat and rolled into bed … well, I say bed, it’s a bit like sleeping on a large door, its so hard but nonetheless slept well.

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Diary Photos
1st Dec 2005
Made in Hong Kong
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