Hong Kong Ferry Challenge is the trip that keeps on giving

I last spoke with you all at Copenhagen Airport, where I was awaiting my connecting flight back to Heathrow. I explained about the problems we had leaving Hong Kong (which many of you had read about in the news overnight), thanked you all, and signed off, fulling expecting a dull hour or so flying back home, then an even duller hour or five waiting in London for Susie’s flight to land. But I was wrong.

Just after I switched off my iPad, the SAS departure gate PA system crackled into life, asking the people with the most disposable income to prepare to board. I stood up, getting ready for the first wave of cheapskates, but as I looked at the Danish chap at the microphone I saw something was up. He kept checking his list and talking on his walkie-talkie, before making a second announcement: “Ladies and gentleman, it seems we are overbooked on this 7.40am flight by two passengers – would anyone be willing to be moved to the 10.40am British Airways, with €150 compensation?”

Before I’d even thought it through in any way, my hand was in the air, and I walked to the desk. Glancing behind me I saw hands going up everywhere and heard people calling out, but I found I was standing first in line. As he thanked me and took my details, I started to think, after all of my experiences from the last few hours/days/weeks, “Why am I doing this? Something’s bound to go wrong. I should just get home as soon as I can”, but carried on agreeing to be bumped to the other flight. Apart from the welcome cash (I have been unemployed this month, after all!), I was quite glad of having something to do other than just sit around. One other young lad had also made the jump with me, and we were processed together, told our luggage would be taken off this flight and put on the BA one, given a compensation note, then told we’d also get a free breakfast on SAS.

Armed with my 100 Danish kroner voucher (about £12, CA$20, or even HK$115!), I went back through customs and stood staring at the overwhelming choice of eating places in Kastrup airport. I thought about the trick I used to use when crossing Canada for eating advice, and approached a bored-looking young chap at a very trendy clothes shop:

“Where would you go for breakfast now, if you’d just been given 100kr?”, I asked him.

He leapt into action, taking my voucher and checking the qualifying brands. “Hmmm, so if it was me I’d have sushi”, and I was about to say that I’d had enough rice lately to last me for a while, but he went on, “but they don’t open till 9am, so you should try – ” (can’t remember the name), so I followed his advice, had a mushroom omelette, croissant and bottomless coffee and passed a couple of hours replying to comments and emails.

I also got up to date with news of Hurricane Dorian, since my brother Oliver and his wife Laurice live in Southeastern Florida, right in the projected path. I was glad to find that the latest news was that they were likely to escape a direct hit, but were still going to be hugely affected by the storm when it reaches the Florida coast, so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed for them. They had wisely transformed their house into a storm-shuttered stronghold, as they’ve done on countless occasions since they’ve lived there, ready to ride it out:

I found out at the gate that the flight was rammed, due to BA having cancelled the following flight, and I was also slightly alarmed to be asked if my luggage had been transferred from the SAS flight- surely they should know that? (You’ll recall from the journey out that my suitcase contains no clothes whatsoever. Instead, it has the folding bicycle nestled inside- tyres deflated, pedals removed, remains of missing flagpole taken off – and all my other cycling gear and tools)

Sure enough, as you’ve no doubt guessed by now, as all the other passengers around the luggage carousel back at Heathrow picked up cases and disappeared, just two people were left, staring at an empty conveyor belt: me and my fellow flight-changer.

As I write, it’s now two days after getting back home and my case still hasn’t arrived. They think it’s now at Heathrow, which I suppose I should be glad about, but that’s all I know. So I’ve managed to return from a cycling trip without my bicycle again, which hasn’t happened since I had my bike stolen in Amsterdam several years ago (for a bit on that weird story, see the relevant blog-post here, and scroll down to “The Bike That Won’t Go Away”).

I wish I could go everywhere, near or far, by either bicycle or ferry.



Just about to publish this post when my phone ‘binged’, and I finally got the news I’ve been waiting for – yippee!Mooncakes all round!!(Hugely popular in Hong Kong, and made from pastry, ultra-compressed sweet red bean paste and a sort of sweet egg yolk suspended in the middle, Mooncakes look to me like a sort of Chinese pork pie, or perhaps Veal & Ham pie with the egg in the middle, but are in fact very sweet. I asked one of the examiners if he liked mooncakes, to which he replied “Does anyone actually like mooncakes?”. They do look beautiful though, and our son Sam enjoyed at least the first couple of slices of the one we brought him.)

6 thoughts on “Hong Kong Ferry Challenge is the trip that keeps on giving

  1. Well, it had to end with a bang not a whimper, in keeping with other dramas encountered on your trip , Ben! You could now be described as a deliberate catastrophiser however!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remembered this earlier today as happened to meet a couple of members of the current generation of beechwoodians earlier and it brought a lot of memories flooding back including our violin lessons and reading your blog several times throughout my a levels and laughing every single time so I thought I’d come back and see if you’ve updated. Good to see you’re still cycling though and hope things are well

    Liked by 1 person

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