22 May 2014

HK Day 0: Hello from one of the safest cities on the planet!

Yep, we're in Dubai, but we’re heading to Hong Kong.  [According to expatarrivals.com, the laws here are so strict, there is very little crime; 0% according to thecrazyfacts.com.

Courtesy of Mom's Car Service (includes semi-hot breakfast, but non-partially drunk drinks are extra), T and I arrived at Dulles around 0930 (that's am) on Wednesday (we think that was... yesterday).  After taking a minute to locate the Emirates check-in desk (at the back of the "regular" airline desks), we were somewhat displeased to see that every human in the airport was attempting to check in for our flight.  Not only was everyone trying to check in for our flight, but they were also each attempting to bring every item they have ever encountered in life, packaged in individual plastic grocery bags, haphazardly packed into enormous duffel bags.  Surprisingly, each bag was overweight by 800kilos and thus incurred overweight baggage fees, which also surprisingly, nobody felt they should have to pay.  EDIT to add: I had read the baggage rules which allow one carry-on per person, so we packed one large suitcase to check and one small suitcase to be T's carry-on.  Unfortunately, I didn't read the weight limit on the carry-ons: 7kg.  So when we got up to the check-in counter, the woman told us we'd have to check both.  I quickly removed a bag of toiletries and Todd's messenger bag from the small suitcase, figuring that's all we'd need on the plane...

Having survived the check-in process (mental note: next time, check-in online, 48hrs in advance), we breezed through security, without having to remove any of our clothing or items from our bags (!) and made our way to the gate.  Amazingly, we got there with about 10 minutes to spare, which was good because again, we rejoined every other human in the airport in the queue to board.  We filled our water bottle at this clever station, and made our way on board.

Once on board, we were pleased to find our seats, nearly on the tail of the plane, next to a very small (adult) girl who took up almost half her seat.  No getting squished in the middle – hooray!  Plus, the personal space was perhaps 6 square inches larger than on other airlines.  Soon after, the pilot told us that the baggage transport belt was broken (too many overweight bags??) and needed possibly 30 minutes to be fixed, so if we wanted to get off now, we could.  Apparently there’s a law saying that if passengers are trapped on a plane for more than 30 minutes, the airline has to offer to let them not fly that day.  Is this for people who are scared and feel like take-off delays are bad omens?  Anyway, we managed to get underway about 45 minutes later, not bad.  We enjoyed a nice hot towel just before take off along with a menu detailing the delicious culinary choices for our 13hr journey.  Getting excited for our adventure yet??

The clever day-night-day transitions, as on many long-haul flights were supported by a starry night sky effect with tiny fairy lights on the ceiling and sunset and sunrise lights.  Around Sunset, we were served our first meal, called lunch on the menu, but dinner by the cart labels and flight staff – at least we weren’t the only ones confused about time.  I enjoyed a vegetarian, Indian/North African meal of Dhal and some kind of mushroom masala – delicious!  T was hoping for the garden herbed chicken, but being amongst the lowliest of travellers, they were out by the time they reached us, so he had the lamb instead.  He says it was very good.

The plan was to sleep as much as possible on this first flight so that we could stay up for the second, 7hr flight to be on track for Hong Kong time.  Unfortunately, the 3-year-old boy sitting behind us with the Worst Mother on the Planet (WMP) had other plans.  There was whining, fake crying, semi-screaming and WMP’s exclamations about Dora every 3 minutes.  Instead of sleeping, T and I occupied ourselves and plugged our ears by enjoying some of the vast collection of tv shows and movies on board.  In the middle of the “night” we were served individual pizzas, which were actually really delicious.  Plus, once an hour or so, the flight staff came by with trays of juice and water cups to keep us hydrated and going to the bathroom to stretch our legs.  [Note: except for tiny girl sitting next to me – who ate almost nothing and didn’t get up once!]

By Sunrise, we were starting to feel the time… 0200 to us by then.  But, the smells of breakfast plus the sunrise lights were keeping us going.  Somehow, the people 2 rows ahead of us were served breakfast almost and hour before us.  By the time we were served, we were only an hour from Dubai.  Of course, by then, none of the regular breakfast options were available, so we were offered either the children’s meal (pancakes) or the Indian vegetarian meal.  Luckily, the extras included fresh fruit salad and croissants, so we didn’t go completely hungry.  Also, T got the vegetarian meal, which he says was good.

The deplaning process was surprisingly speedy with all the people on board.  T and I were met at the end of the sky bridge by an Emirates ground staffer who informed us that there was no way we could make our connection, so she had vouchers for us to be taken to a nearby hotel, including meal vouchers.  Kind of stunned and more tired than we realized at the time, we barely grasped what she said and ended up having to run to catch her up 5 minutes later to ask her to tell us basically everything again.  With better comprehension (I’d say 80%) the second time around, we walked away and figured out that it was 1000 here in Dubai, and Thursday.

Next time: 17 hours in Dubai, 4 hours’ sleep!

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