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Trip to Hong Kong, Day 0

  • 26th Dec, 2004 at 8:04 PM

We got up ludicrously early on Christmas morning, but not to any sort of ritual holiday celebration. Rather, we woke up at 5:00 to a bunch of luggage, which we had to lug out to the airport taxi-van. We arrived at Pearson Terminal 1 and lined up for about two hours in order to get through the rigmarole that is required for flying. After this, we sat in our seats for about two hours as the aeroplane took on fuel and got deiced.

Eventually, the plane taxied to a runway and took off. This is when I remembered that I have a horrible fear of heights. I discovered that sitting in the centre of the aeroplane vastly amortises the crippling fear I have of being far above the ground. Relieved as I was, I was completely unprepared for the crippling boredom that is a sixteen-hour non-stop flight. Intellectually, I understand that this is preferable to twenty-hour flights with layovers, the monotony was pretty bad. They served us fairly decent microwaved food, where the best part were little soy-sauce packets in the shape of fish.

Actually, f_law had no problem with boredom, since she was happily occupied with her own personal television. I think she crawled through half the video collection on-board. I watched Eat Drink Man Woman for the food scenes, which were rewarding indeed. Actually, this television system had a touch-screen that worked pretty well. It polled some on-board sensors to display information like airspeed and altitude, plus it was able to show a little Mercator projection that would show you your flight path. I also discovered that it was driven by Linux, since the flight attendant had to reboot my television after I found a bug in the software.

I was going to get some sleep, but air-sickness interfered with this plan. Sadly, I wasn't informed that we had Gravol with us until very late in the flight. Gravol was really good at putting me to sleep and solving my upset stomach, so I think I shall take it on my return trip.

Our arrival in Hong Kong was interesting. My first impression was that Hong Kong is a very humid place in winter. My next observation is that modern airports seem to have the same architectural theme—one that I think will look really silly two decades from now. The Christmas decorations in the airport were fairly conspicuous: there were pictures of snowflakes and snowmen, which are fairly impossible for 20C weather. In addition, they had a huge "tree" made of a cluster of poinsettias, instead of a more traditional evergreen. Going outside, I noticed how thick the air was, and how you can actually see and taste it. Apparently, the pollution was particularly bad today, so perhaps that's why my chest was a little constricted.

We got on a double-decker bus, apparently standard in this city, and travelled to Uncle Luk's flat. As I looked out the window, I noticed the little differences. How all the cars are a little stubbier and have smaller engines. How all the trees look ill and a little bare. After dropping off our things, we went to dinner at the Metropolitan restaurant and were amazed by a huge meal. After too many courses, we were completely stuffed, and I have been motivated to duplicate their "Two Layers Milk".

Now I'm sitting on Uncle Luk's couch, and am typing this entry. I tried in vain to get a stable wireless connexion from somewhere, but it seems like there's too much concrete and re-bar to contact any of