We passed on breakfast, using the time instead to finish off packing and to do a quick last check of emails. With a long flight ahead of us we headed to the airport early with the aim of getting the best seats in the bargain basement One World Explorer fare class. Next stop was the GST office (Government Sales Tax of 7%) to get the bits we need to claim back the tax on our accommodation. We had expected a long stop there as we have four months worth of receipts to get through but they simply gave us a form and told us to post them all in and wait for the cheque to arrive.
Both of us phoned home and as always it was a welcome lift to our spirits. I know I have said this before but it still amazes me that we can be half way round the world and talk to family as if we were next door. The strange this is that by this time tomorrow we will be eight hours ahead of the UK instead of eight hours behind. That though prompted yet another round of Stef talking about crossing the date line and how we will lose a day.
We boarded the plane to find that we were some of the few “western” people on board, I suppose Caucasian would be a more apt phrase. A high proportion of the passengers were Indian, there is a connecting flight to Delhi, something I had not expected to see. Our seats were OK, not right at the back but as usual there was not enough leg room for Stef so I knew I was in for fourteen hours of huffing and fidgeting.
The strange thing about this flight was that we were following daylight around the world. We left Canada at lunchtime but arrived in Hong Kong in the early evening. It simply felt like a very very long day. Not long after take off, dinner was served and the lights in the cabin were dimmed to try and help induce sleep. I dozed on and off for about four hours but was then wide awake for the rest of the flight. Even when we eventually caught up with night and it was dark outside I still could not get back to sleep.
I have to say that it was one of the strangest flights I have been on because the passengers were a real pain in the neck. The air hostesses were continually going backwards and forwards getting drinks and snacks for people. One Indian chap, with a purple turban and a huge regimental moustache, seemed to be pushing the call button about every half an hour, sooner if he did not get what he wanted. The chaps in front of us got a bit disgruntled when they were refused a fourth double whiskey. And I reckon that about a quarter of the people on board had asked for special diet meals.
Our route took us up the coast of Canada and Alaska and then down over Japan and into Hong Kong. We used the airport hotel reservations desk (not very friendly at all) to get a bed for the night. Even though I knew that accommodation here would be expensive the prices still came as a bit of a shock, especially as they get around a 50% discount on normal rates.
The Airport Express whisked us to Kowloon where a free shuttle bus took us to our hotel. The bus gave us our first views of Hong Kong. Row upon row upon row on massive apartment blocks and skyscrapers like nothing I have seen before. They made the office blocks in the City of London look small and far outnumbered them too. Even the traffic was full on with roads linking up to left and right and cars and busses whizzing about all over the shop. It was strange as well being back in a country that drives on the left hand side of the road and it took me a while before I stopped thinking the bus was going the wrong way round a roundabout!
We checked in to what is a pretty swanky but fairly anonymous business style hotel, the Marco Polo Gateway. Its one of three in the group that are all lined up on the same block by the harbour. We are in the cheap one so I dread to think how much the others cost. For our money (around £100 a night) we have a large room with two very comfortable queen beds so it is probably a reasonable going rate, just a lot more than our budget really allows.
Both knackered from a long day and from the stresses of leaving our little motor home behind us we simply tucked up in bed as soon as we checked in. Stef ordered a film, Kingdom of Heaven, and I think I saw about the first ten minutes before fatigue took its toll and I nodded off.