I consider myself a pretty lucky person, all in all. For instance, I’ve lost my wallet more times than I care to remember (by, say, putting it on the roof of my car and then driving off), but it always finds its way back to me without much ado.
The one thing I find hard to shake off is that I have terrible travel karma when it comes to the actual ‘getting from A to B’-part. My luggage always goes missing. If it’s a direct flight, my odds are usually about 50/50, but when I have connecting flights it’s more like 80/20… not in my favor. On one memorable occasion I was flying home for Christmas from Egypt and they managed to lose my luggage both on the way there and on the way back. Another time I was flying from NYC to Oslo and my suitcase ended up in Moscow. How is that even possible???
It should come as no surprise then that my luggage went missing when I flew back to Norway last week to attend a funeral. It took more than two days, but I did eventually get my bag and breathed a sigh of relief. The worst is over! we laughed. Now I just have to get back to Australia with my bag.
On my way back, after arriving safely in Helsinki, I was told my flight to Hong Kong was 9 hours delayed. Which meant I had to spend the night in Helsinki. Which meant that I would miss my connecting flight in Hong Kong and would have to spend the night there also. I would arrive in Brisbane a whole day after originally planned, and for someone who is diligent about school and has a not-yet-started essay due this week, it wasn’t exactly ideal.
Mom kept joking that “this will be the first time in history Christine’s bag actually makes it to the destination before her!”
Now, I’m not going to sit here and claim that I was totally zen about this the entire time and immediately thought of this as an amazing twist of fate! No. My first instinct when I got the news was to throw my purse on the floor and scream, “This is bullsh*t!!!” But I didn’t. Instead I got really quiet for about 30 minutes, and let all that anger and frustration pass through me… then I let it go and got all zen about it.
Anyone who knows me well will agree that I have quite the temper and can get very angry very quickly – but thankfully, it passes even quicker than it appeared. I’m not one to sulk.
So I went on the hunt for silver linings in all of this, and it didn’t take long to recognize the big one: I got to see Hong Kong! After a night in Helsinki followed by a 9 ½ hour flight, I was to stay at a place called Panda Hotel in downtown Hong Kong. As my shuttle bus exited the airport and headed towards the city lights at 1 A.M., I thought to myself: I would never ever have gone here on my own merit. So, thanks for this. Large Asian cities have never enticed me much, and places like Beijing, Tokyo and Shanghai have never made to my ever-growing bucket list. All the more reason to be thankful for this, because I might not get to see something like it again!
I arrived at the hotel at 1.30 A.M., but was wide awake since my internal clock was still on Helsinki time (5 hours behind). In true form, my first question to the concierge was, “Where is the food?” She looked at me with a blank expression. “No food, Miss. Is night. Is closed. Sleep.”
I swear, I go through much of life feeling like Pippin in The Fellowship of the Ring when he asks Aragon when they’ll eat, and Aragon tells him they already had breakfast.
“But what about second breakfast…?” Pippin asks.
How exciting! I thought. Now I have an excuse to go explore a little bit, to find some food. It’s totally badass that I’m by myself in the middle of Hong Kong and looking for local street food. I’m like those hard-core solo travelers. This is so cool!
It wasn’t that cool. It was the middle of the night on a Sunday, everything was closed, there were no people out except for a few hobos here and there who yelled at me, so I walked around the block before calling it a night. I ended up with an apple from 7/11 and an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians on my MacBook before bed.
(I still felt pretty badass.)
The next day I finally got to see Hong Kong in daylight and it was exactly the way I’d imagined it: nothing but enormous high-rise buildings everywhere, bustling traffic, lush trees growing in between all the highways and houses, and tall, green hills surrounding the city. It was beautiful.
A couple of years ago I read a book called The Piano Teacher which takes place in Hong Kong during WWII. I couldn’t help but being brought back to that story and imagining how beautiful Hong Kong must have been back then with the turquoise water and green mountains – before massive steel bridges and concrete buildings forced themselves into the landscape.
Having endured a 7 hour layover in Hong Kong on my way to Oslo, I was quite familiar with the airport. With another 8 hours to kill there before my evening flight to Brisbane, I knew exactly where I wanted to spend my time: Pizza Express.
Nothing beats thin-crusted Italian pizzas and a custom vegetarian menu. Sure, it’s fast and convenient and probably doesn’t quite pass my “Will this nourish me?”-test. The fact that they served my food 5 minutes after I ordered pretty much confirms the fact that it was frozen to begin with, but what the heck. I was famished and the familiarity of pizza was too tempting.
Add free Wi-Fi, and I was sold.
When I finally boarded the plane that night to undertake the last leg of my journey home, the moment I’ve been fantasizing about for years finally happened. I made my way past all the fancy people in first class and followed the crowd back to coach. I couldn’t initially find my assigned seat, so a flight attended approached at me. “Let me see your boarding pass.” He looked it over. “Your seat is up there in the front, miss,” he smiled and gestured back to where I was coming from.
I had been upgraded to business class.
Free champagne… Real cutlery… Enough leg room to make it feel like I was sitting in someone’s living room…. Haagen Dasz… Needless to say, I didn’t sleep at all that night. I was this close to asking the flight attendant to take my picture. Kinda wish I had.
(I’m not exactly sure if I was upgraded by the airline per se because of all my ordeals, or if I was originally booked on business class – maybe that’s why the tickets were so insanely expensive…? And no, it wasn’t first class where you have your own cubical and white tablecloths. But really, who cares! It was business class!)
Ever been to Hong Kong? Or had a terrible experience with connecting flights that turned out to be a positive thing? Share away, love! 🙂