Where I have been...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hong Kong

The trip to Hong Kong was not as smooth as I would have liked!! I had to catch a flight from Cochin to Mumbai, which was alright apart from the fact that I had caught a cold the day before and my sinuses were very blocked. This meant that I was in absolute agony when we started to prepare for landing until we actually landed - not nice. It felt like my head was going to explode! But I made it and caught the bus to the international airport. It was 1.30am and the flight that I was confirmed on wasn't leaving until 4.55am. There was an earlier flight leaving at 2.55 which was direct (my flight was going through Bangkok). So I went up to the desk to see if I was able to get on the earlier flight. When I had last spoken to Cathay Pacific and Qantas I was actually waitlisted for the earlier flight, but on speaking to them now I found out that they had cancelled my waitlist! I got them to put me back on the waitlist and explained to them that I would much rather go direct and as I didn't think my head could cope with 2 more landings. At 2am as the desks were closing for the earlier flight, they took pity on me and gave me the last available seat - yeah!! So I had to rush through immigration and customs and jump on the plane. Unfortunately there was no window seat for me this time and I was in fact squashed between 2 men in the middle seats, but I was just glad to be on the flight. I think the men were not that happy as when we began to prepare for landing and the plane started to head towards land - again my sinuses played up and this time I had tears rolling down my checks because of the pain and they looked very worried - what to do with a woman in tears!!! Anyway, I recovered on landing and was now in Hong Kong. I made my way to my hostel in the Kowloon area. I was absolutely exhausted but made myself stay awake and went for a wander around the area until it was time for bed.

The next morning I though I would check my emails and while I was at it, check the status of my next flights. Guess what I found this time....They had cancelled them all - again!!! I was amazed, especially after I had specifically told the lady in Mumbai that I would never ever ever want my flights to be cancelled again. So I called up Qantas who said they couldn't do anything. Then it was onto Cathay Pacific who told me that my flights had been cancelled because I hadn't turned up for my flight to Hong Kong. I informed them that I was in fact calling from Hong Kong, and unless I had grown wings then I had more then likely taken their flight there! This obviously stumped them for a moment, but then they found out that the people in Mumbai hadn't registered me on the earlier flight (even though I had gone through my problems with them and they appeared to understand - once again I seemed to have misinterpreted that whole nodding thing they do!!) and therefore I was now recorded as a no-show and my flights were now cancelled - permanently!! But they could create a new booking for me for the sum of $300. Hmmmmm. I pointed out that on all the occasions that they had cancelled my flights it had been their fault and not mine and I should not have to pay. Plus don't they feel at all responsible for leaving a female, travelling by herself in foreign countries, where she doesn't speak the language with no way of leaving! This did the trick and they created the new booking (no fee charged - yet!) and they even got me a seat on the flight to Japan which they had been saying for the last 2 weeks was in fact full and I would not be able to get a seat! Anyway, I didn't trust the lady on the phone, so I made my way to the Cathay Pacific offices and got the lady there to check on her screen and print off the booking, just to doubly confirm it all, and I made her promise that they would never cancel the flights either!

So after all that was sorted out I felt it was now time to see some of Hong Kong. I have to say that it was so different to India and it was nice to be back in the modern world again where everything worked, on time - even to the second!! The transport system is amazing and cheap (maybe something London transport should learn from!!). The place is spotless, perhaps due to the massive fines if you drop any litter or spit, you can't even eat or drink on the metro or in any of the paved areas around it!! I spent the week seeing various sights and visiting the many markets and shopping centres. This place is basically built on shops, its nearly the only thing you can do here!! Unfortunately the whole week I was here, it was very cloudy and therefore I didn't get to do some of the highly recommend sights like going up to the Peak which apparently gives the best view of Hong Kong. Maybe next time! I did visit a little place called Stanley which is on the south of Hong Kong Island. There they have a nice market and beach - all in all very pleasant. They also have this fantastic light show every night. If you go to Kowloon and get a nice spot on the avenue of stars (which is by the harbour) at 8pm, you can watch the sky-scrapers on Hong Kong Island all light up to the music being played. I think all cities should do this!! It was absolutely brilliant!

I have enjoyed my week in Hong Kong, taking life easy and not worrying about whether I will actually get to places - because I will - on time too!! They also have a ridiculous amount of European/American shops here so it is just like being at home, but with the Asian influence as well. Definitely a place I would like to come back to.

But onwards and upwards, and therefore Taiwan tomorrow...hopefully!