I was scrolling through Facebook, as one does, or not depending on your ‘I will ignore all irritating clickbait and move on‘ level. And saw a video of a plane landing at the once Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong. I remember my first arrival there, it was a bit manic to say the least.
The video reminded me of a flight to visit home one summer. I would travel with our littlies to visit family in the UK, while my husband stayed behind to work through the sweltering summer, bless him. I would always miss him terribly and wish I’d never left and couldn’t wait to get get back to him and Hong Kong, my life and friends there.
We were very fortunate to live in an expat and local enclave in Discovery Bay, Lantau Island. Many chose to settle in outlying islands as it was a slower pace of life, and just 30 minutes into Hong Kong Central by ferry, depending on your island location. There were fast and slow boats. DB, as it was fondly called, was lovely for young families, lots of space for bike rides. People had time to stop and chat, say hello and share some time over a coffee. I still miss the community.
Among the eclectic variety of career people were many engineers, often tunnel and bridge experts, professional musicians (hearing them practising was a delight), and international pilots. The pilots were calm people, who enviously had nice blocks of time off. Unlike city workers. But that is by the by. Some pilots we knew as friends, others acquaintances.
On one particular summer flight home, apart from the bizarre experience of bumping into people you knew at departures. I was boarding (turning right) with my kiddos, and glanced at the cockpit window. I thought I saw a familiar face, smiled and possibly waved (loser) and immediately regretted the wave, then thought no more of it busy with children and travel trying to stop my toddler from launching themselves into orbit before we were even seated.
As we boarded there were the usual looks of horror, confusion, wincing and undisguised outrage as I moved down the plane children in hand to take our seats. And that was just the flight attendants! Kidding!
With people already boarded visibly grimacing, with gasps of sheer panic, physically realing clasping their arm rests and eachother as we approached as if saying:
- ‘Nooo, not children on a long haul.’
- ‘I didn’t sign up for this, steward stop her!’
- ‘I need oxygen.’
- ‘I need a large G&T.’
- ‘I demand a refund.’
- ‘I’m in the wrong seat.’
- ‘I’ve decided I’m flying to KL instead.’
- ‘Can I be bumped up to first class, IMMEDIATELY PLEASE etc?
I should have perched at the end of every aisle then moved. Lol. Am I, aren’t I? Ah ha, but I got a bulkhead for the baby bassinet, sooo, I was the lucky one. Yah boo sucks!
Once I had located our seats, preoccupied with settling the children for the flight. Surrounded by distraught adults. Oh the power of a nappy bag! The littlies were awesome travellers. Low and behold a familiar face appeared in the depths of coach, accompanied by a Captain’s uniform. People’s attention was suddenly diverted from the terrifying thoughts of the rattle of toys for 14 hours and glancing across probably thought ‘oh good, she’s on the wrong flight, they’re going to ask her to leave‘.
Not so fast!
The face and accompanying Captain’s uniform belonged to the partner of one of my tiddler”s teachers. With me not immediately twigging, deep in thought over ‘did I pack enough nappies and why did littlest littley have to guzzle a bottle of milk before boarding leaving me one down on my flight bottle quota calculations’.
Then came the:
- Hey Penny, how are you doing?
- Oh, woh hello, yes fine thanks. How are you? Oh yes of course, you’re clearly the Captain.
- Good to see ya!
- Oh, lovely, thank you very much, good to see you too. Typically English, (whilst juggling toddler on head.)
- Come on down to the cockpit whenever you like, and we’ll give you a tour!
The punchline is coming…
BRING THE KIDS!
- Audible cough! Umm do you know how busy my busy toddler is.
- Oh lovely, thank you, really kind of you, I might just do that…and thanks for visiting me all this way down in ‘coach’ to make my travelling day!!!!!
- You’re welcome. See ya in DB! Bye for now.
A Captain-esk smile and swagger back to the cockpit to fly the plane followed.
Aaaah hahaha! Oh the expressions of the adjacent already majorly disgruntled travellers were an absolute picture. Who does she think she is? Lol!
Answer: A mother travelling with under-fives and I don’t care if they run up and down for the whole flight, because my island neighbour is in charge. Nice knowing you. Oh and stop offering my under-fives sugared almonds. I kid you not.
And that’s what enclave Island living gives you. Community. What a fab pre-journey greeting that was. Still makes me chuckle. Just had a thought. As it has been over two decades since I’ve been able to take a flight, have I balanced out my carbon footprint yet? I hope so.
Have a blessed day⚘