September 28, 2005

My trip...

Well, since I am at it anyway, I might as well add a few other stories.

The day I left was extremely stressful. I left on friday the 16th in the afternoon, right after work (we finish at 13.00 on friday, but I could leave at 12...). I had a lot of work to finish that day and I was stressing to get it done in time.
My boss was also leaving that day and I should be there to say goodbye to him I think. Luckily they held the goodbye ceremony before I had to leave. I thought that was fair enough. However, I didn't join into getting pissed and clubbing the night before. The secretary told me I have no excuse. My excuse is I had to pack that night and since I hadn't had a chance to do that before (I had been working until 23.00 each night that week), I said that was teh only time available. She said it was a poor excuse. I told her the other option was not to sleep at all and she said that was perfectly acceptable. Well, that's when I walked off. I guess some people are just too narrow minded to understand someone else's position...

Anyway, at some point Linda walked up to me (a collague) and she asked if I shouldn't go to heathrow. I told her my flight was at 6 so I was leaving at 12 to get a bus at 1. She then said that I better leave now (it was 10 in the morning) because they were holding protest blockades on the M4 to heathrow. Ofcourse! just my fuckin luck! So I started calling some people to ask about the situation on the road. The AA (breakdown/traffic info services) told me a little about the blockades in wales on the M4 but didn't know if it would come between Bristol and Heathrow. So I searched for a phone number of the police in Bristol/Avon. Hahaha! ofcourse the first 100 hits are all useless!!! I finally decided to call a small town office just outside bath and they were very informative. They said that the blockade shouldn't leave Wales. They then told me to contact Avon constabulary headoffice for more details. So I did, and guess what... I get a Bristolian cop on the phone (yes, he was from headoffice) and he didn't know anything. He said the police never knows anything about traffic information... Can you believe that???? In any other country the police is numero uno to know about traffic situations, especially when there are protests against fuel prices, blocking major motorways! But no, not in england. In despair I tried to get to one more road service: the RAC. Their website was as good as any other: crap, however, I did manage to find a traffic information number. It is an 0900 number so my company ofcourse blocked it. So I had to make a 1GBP/minute call with my mobile. The service is actually quite good and I got to hear exactly what I wanted to know, and I could stick to my original plan.

So, I left at 12.00, arrived at 12.20, leaving me 5 minutes for last preparations. Luckily this time I hadn't forgotten anything. I was waiting for the taxi and when it was 5 minutes late I called the taxi service. Since Friday is the worst day for driving in Bristol I figured I would be late for my bus as well...ofcourse... Luckily he arrive 3 seconds later and dropped me off with about 5-10 minutes to spare. The bus arrived in time, so I had 3 hours before departure.
I checked in at 1st class (which they themselves suggested to speed up the checking in process). The most funny thing happened. I thought I was over weight with my luggage, both cabin and check in luggage. At home I was using all my tricks to be able to bring everything I wanted to take with me, and to stay within limits of teh luggage allowance. Actually Cathay Pacific is quite inconsistant with this. They have a huge list of things you can take nxt to a maximum sized one-piece cabin luggage of up to 7 kg. Apparently you can take in addition to that, a laptop up to 4 kg, a briefcase up to 4 kg, some personal affects, a coat, diapers, baby food, a baby seat a camera binoculars... in total I think 20 kgs or more... So I called them because I wanted to put my photo gear in a photo backpack, but that would exceed 7kg. They said that was not allowed, because of the weight for one piece luggage. Not a surprise. Then I told them that I could take all taht stuff with me if I used multiple smaller bags to spread the weight and they again said no, I could take only one bag. I told tehm about what their website said and they said that the list meant only one of those items in addition to my one piece luggage of 7 kg. This is not what their website says.
Anyway, I managed to be clever and use just my shoulder bag to pack 10kg of photo equipment in (lenses are heavy...) and a very small backpack with some drinks, snacks and reading material.
I estimated my check in luggage at 22-23 kg, using the scales of my flatmate.

When I came to check in, they never weighed my cabin luggage and my check-in luggage was weighed at 11,5 kg!!! I think there was something wrong with their scales. Anyway, I'm not complaining. I know it is definitely not 11 kg, much heavier.

Then after check in, I waited a while, got some greasy shit for dinner, which was actually quite nice. I made some photos (with which you have to be very careful about in London these days...). Then I boarded my plane when it was time. Later I found out that I had formatted the card in my camera and so I lost all these photos... How stupid can you be...
Following that we were stuck at the gate for more than half an hour. When we finally taxied out, we had to taxi for at least 30-40 minutes or so: rush hours at heathrow.

The flight was ok, although the quality of the monitors wasn't exactly stunning. But at least I had my own in-flight entertainment console. I chatted a bit with my fellow passengers. Then we got an anouncement of the stewardess, requesting a qualified doctor. I though, oh, hell there goes my connection to Taiwan... We were already 1 hour late when we left heathrow, which meant I had zero minutes between landing in Hong Kong and take off with the connecting flight (connection time was exactly 1 hour). The stewardess assured me the plane would wait for transferring passengers.
After that anouncement my hope sank to my feet. If a doctor was required it must be serious. If someone dies or is critically ill, the plane should land at the next available airport, which would result in another 3 hour delay or so. Luckily that never happened, so apparently they found their doctor and solved the problem.

When we landed I had about 5 minutes to get to the connecting flight, so I ran up and down stairs and corridors, and luckily for me the had only just started checking in for the connecting flight.
This was an A330 by the way. Sounded a little big for such a trip, bu I don't mind, that is yet another airplane I can put on my list (I managed to get 2 more during my stay in Taiwan) of airplanes flown. This A330 was obviously configured for asians as I had zero leg space. That flight was quite uncomfortable, and by the time I realised they had switched on the in-flight entertainment, we had only 20 minutes left. And all the programs they had on were very interesting actually! All about culture in Taiwan, south east asia, okinawa, etc, very interesting and all at the same time...

When I landed and turned on my phone, I got a text message from Tina that she was a little late and if I could wait a few minutes. She was stuck in traffic because of moon festival that weekend. Well, not being able to speak or udnerstand any chinese, where was I supposed to go on my own? Anyway, a few minutes turned out to be almost 45 minutes before she arrived. Hmm, all in all actually not that great a flight...

More to follow...

Yes! Another update!

First and foremost an appology to the people that have been hoping for an update.
Unfortunately I have been soo busy with work that I have had very little time to attend to my blog. Now I'm on holiday I have some time to make some new posts again.
A lot has happened these few months. Tina visited me for 5 weeks last summer. Now I am in Taiwan, visiting her for 3 weeks.
Actually I am very glad to have a real holiday again. Work has been a nightmare, so it's good to have a break of things.