HK to UK: The Transition

Change is never an easy thing. And I’m not referring to that in a political sense as is normal on this blog, but rather on a more personal level. Going from somewhere safe and sound to somewhere foreign and unknown is a difficult step to make, especially when you are doing it alone. I had anticipated this to some extent, but it never really hit me until my plane had actually left Hong Kong when I thought to myself ‘This is it. I’m actually leaving. I’m actually on my own. No mom to go to. No friends to rely on. Just me against the world.’

Of course, that moment didn’t come until well after midnight. Although we boarded the plane at the Hong Kong International Airport on time, we got delayed for over an hour due to ‘busy Chinese airspace’. We couldn’t do much about it. After all, we’d already gotten on the plane. It wasn’t until 1:32 when we finally took off from the North Runway and I realized as I looked over lantau and disneyland that I was leaving, gone, my life never to be the same again.

Many strange things happened along the way. As we were inching across the tarmac and overtaken by about 10 planes, I saw a row of private jets parked a little way off from the terminal. None seemed particularly special except all of them had their own staircase to the entrance. It wasn’t until I came to the last one that I saw something familiar. Red and blue stripes and a load of stars. Written on the side of that private jet was ‘United States of America’.

I’m creating my own conspiracy theory here, but I would take an educated guess that the US has a private jet permanently stationed at the Hong Kong International Airport at any time. There was even a limo next to the jet in case it was ever needed. Wish I had that kind of royal treatment.

The only royal treatment I got was a mammoth amount of movies for me to watch. Being who I am, I rarely watch movies so I decided in advance to take advantage of Cathay Pacific’s large array of movies and to watch as many as I could fit in, with at 12 hour flight, I’d been hoping to fit in maybe 5. In the end, I watched Date Night, Iron Man 2 and The Hurt Locker before I went to sleep.
When I woke up after an unknown amount of time, for some reason, I still felt half asleep. I knew myself well enough to know I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep again, but at the same time I didn’t really feel like waking up. It might have to do with the fact that I’d been up for over 24 hours, but nevertheless, I watched an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody to wake me up. That allowed me to follow the more complicated plot of Kill BIll Vol 1. With around an hour left on the flight, I began to desperately search for Kill Bill Vol 2, only to find it unavailable on the Cathay Pacific list. As a result, I have vowed to watch Kill Bill Vol 2 as soon as possible.

I’m a bit weird with airports. I like to investigate how they work and what goes on behind the scenes. I like to investigate the system they use and how they fare against each other. I won’t bore you with the details, but I can say that I have always been a great fan of the HK Airport. I once arrived at the airport 20 minutes before the gate closed, sent my bags in, rushed through security and got on the plane without any problems. Sadly, the London Heathrow airport isn’t quite as efficient. In fact, on all the occasions I’ve been there, it has been an absolute horror. Although I got off the plane at 6:27, it took a really really really long walk, lots of waiting in line for immigration then even more pain before I finally emerged from the airport at 7:23. That’s nearly 1 full hour. I could have gone through the whole process in Hong Kong about 3/4 times by then!

It’s a good thing I only have to suffer the agony 4 times a year. And its a good thing I have lots of good times in-between at Atlantic College. More on that later.



  1. This was a great read, Paul. Me too – I try to pack in as movies as possible… but sleep overtakes you eventually. And yes, HKG’s airport is unbeaten in efficiency 🙂 Hope ure settling in well over there!

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