So the plane back home touched down at Heathrow airport at 6 o’clock this morning. The return journey was thankfully a lot less stressful than the outward one!
We were flying with Air France which meant we had two ‘legs’ to our journey; the first being from Heathrow to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France and from there the second leg to Hong Kong… Having done our check-in online, we arrived on time at Heathrow, parked the car in the long stay car park and headed off to the check-in desk.
As we got out of the lift we checked our flight status on the big screens hanging from the ceiling. ‘CANCELLED’ in big red letters was flashing up against our flight number – we later found out that we had been unlucky enough to be on the only cancelled Air France flight of the day! The cancellation was due to the staff at Air France going on strike at really short notice.
After looking at all of the other possibilities of getting to Paris that day to make our connection we realised that it wasn’t going to be possible. We had been automatically booked on to the same flight 24 hours later so this left us with a bit of a dilemma as none of us wanted to take the trip back home only to drive out again the next day.
We eventually decided to book a room in the Sofitel Hotel, Heathrow. It was a pleasant hotel with good facilities and breakfast included so we weren’t complaining!
We spent the morning killing time in the hotel because we couldn’t check in until late afternoon. I had packed my 2 kites, kiteboard, surfboard, bar and harness etc. into a suitcase so that we could check it in as normal luggage and save excess baggage costs.
This left the board to sort out. I had phoned up the airline a few weeks previously to see if it would be okay to take it on as hand luggage and store it in the suit storage area that every aircraft has – the person that I spoke to had said that there shouldn’t be a problem with doing this.
But of course this was a totally different story at the check-in desk! Out of the four people that we spoke to they all said that it wouldn’t be possible to take it into the cabin!
So after a long conversation I agreed to let it go into the hold with all the other luggage expecting it to be able to go on with a fragile service or top load only… only to find that Air France doesn’t offer any such service! Eventually we settled to put it on the oversize baggage belt so that it would be handled carefully and would hopefully end up being towards the top of the load.
I’m glad I had wrapped it in bubble wrap and put some fragile stickers on it anyway!
Eventually we boarded the same flight but 24 hours later. This time with no dramas! I ended up sleeping for the majority of the 13 hour journey, only being interrupted by the fairly unattractive aircraft meals…
We arrived in Hong Kong in the evening and had time for a quick swim before meeting some friends for dinner.
Over the next few days we spent a lot of time catching up with friends and family… Sadly there was no wind even though there was a typhoon that had been aiming for the coast of Hong Kong but at the last minute this changed direction to go to Taiwan, so that was a disappointment.
We took a short side trip to the former Portuguese colony of Macau to do some sight seeing and visit some more friends. We paid a visit to the local go kart track and spent some time doing laps in the 38ºC heat and 90% humidity… good fun but not the most comfortable of climates! We visited some casinos and went to some temples so overall it was a pretty good time.
We took the ferry back to Hong Kong and just chilled out for the rest of the week: did some shopping, and visited a few cool places. On Friday we met up with some friends who took us on a boat trip.
It was a really hot day – 39ºC and probably hotter in the sun. On the journey out to one of the many outlying bays off Sai Kung, we took part in a ritual where some fish that had been caught in crabbing nets are released back out to sea.
This was a remarkably peaceful process and a good experience. We then continued out to a nearby bay and anchored. We were privileged enough to be able to have some fun on an incredibly fast jet ski and be able to have a go at wake boarding behind a 375 horsepower speedboat.
Our last few days included scouring the markets for cheap clothing deals. The best were to be found at Stanley Market, on the south side of Hong Kong island. There are some amazing savings on top brands of board shorts and tees etc.
So that pretty much sums up our trip in Hong Kong. I had a really great time and thankfully our trip back home went a lot smoother.
Plan for the next few days is to head to Devon to stay with some friends again and hopefully there will be some wind!