I just enjoyed a ‘serious snack’ and now feel I am-up-to writing about the flight back from Hong Kong to Irkutsk last Wednesday the 24th of July.
First, about my ‘serious’ snack. I continue to ‘deal with’ this aggravating head cold that is flirting with going deeper into my chest (croupy, hacking up some nasty phlegm etc). So I am getting a lot of rest and eating regularly to assist my body to deal with whatever is attacking me. Oh, by the way, while in Hong Kong, I visited the out-patient clinic of my hospital and had a consultation with a Medical Doctor about this cold.
Feeling ‘out of energy’, as a ‘serious snack’ I ate the following: One piece of Peanut Brittle. One small bowl of Popcorn. One medium sized piece of Russian Black Bread with ample Peanut Butter. One half of an Apple. One half liter of Water / Fruit Juice. One half liter of plain, cold, water.
The airline flight last Wednesday and this nasty head cold brought fully-into-my-face the fact we have two large groups of people traveling the world.
These two groups are :
World Seers. This group of travelers most likely see far more attractions than World Travelers because, in general, they travel in groups with professional / extremely qualified guides and mentors. To earn their money, their guides / mentors make sure the World Seer gets their money’s-worth from their trip. The World Seer will travel from 10 days to possibly 30-days. This is important because they do not risk losing their Western health and immunity as do the World Travelers. My experience has been that after two to three months abroad, I have lost some of the good health and immunity I had as I began a trip. Ratchet that up to six months or a year, and .. You get the idea. I feel that the World Seer’s guides / mentors also have some good knowledge of what-to-do IF one of their clients were to get seriously ill. The World Traveler is on-their-own in this realm. I also feel the World Seers are generally an elderly group age-wise. In general, the World Seer will spend more money, stay in far nicer accommodations and eat far more lavishly than the World Traveler.
World Travelers. This group of travelers may, and may not, have an agenda (and I speak from my own experience) when they set off to a foreign land. In general, it has been my experience that they are younger age-wise. What they lack in seeing they make up for in-experiencing, in far more depth, other countries and their cultures. The sky seems to be their limit time-wise. Many I’ve met are on-the-road for a year or more. Many are true road-warriors. What they do for medical emergencies I have no idea. In Hong Kong, I have a local hospital with a chart that dates to year 2008. I also have one in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Now to the flight from Hong Kong North to Irkutsk.
MY OUT-GOING FLIGHT CHALLENGES
MY OUT-GOING FLIGHT ISSUES would never apply to a World Seer. A World Seer has firm flight plans overseen by their guides and mentors. They travel in a group and follow-their-leaders. I have seen this process numerous times and .. in fact .. I myself was a World Seer on a 10-day, multi-airline, trip into China in year 1997. I followed the leader and the group, stayed in very nice places, ate extremely well and saw a lot. It was easy and it was comfortable and it was worth each and every dollar that I spent. I’ve also been a World Seer myself on trips in India dating back to 1990.
I went on-line. I found a local Hong Kong phone number for S7, the Russian Airline I was planning to use to return to Irkutsk, Siberia. I could not, and I never did, get hold of them. I called and I called back, again and again, I left numerous messages, all to no avail.
I wanted to know five things :
1. I wanted to confirm that S7 was based in Terminal 1 at Chek Lap Kok (HKIA – Hong Kong International Airport).
Because Cathay Pacific Airlines is an airline partner with S7 Airlines on some flights, and since I could NOT talk to anyone with S7, I telephoned Cathay Pacific Airlines and was told S7 was in Terminal 2.
2. What aisle they were located on.
3. Did they have an in-city, check-in counter, at the Kowloon Airport Express Station.
4. Was I good-to-fly in terms of my reservation, my checked baggage (which I had paid in advance for on-line), and carry-on rules and seat assignment (which I had paid for on-line).
5. I wanted to ask for wheel-chair-assistance.
As I left the YMCA Hotel at 1pm, four hours prior to flight time, NOT ONE OF THE ABOVE (important to me) ISSUES were known to me nor resolved.
Issue 3 Resolved : When I got to the Kowloon Airport Express Station I found out that : NO! S7 does not have an in-city, check-in counter.
I boarded the Airport Express Train with all my luggage. Most of you will never know how nice the Kowloon in-city, check-in counter is. You check your bag(s) and get your formal boarding pass. Your passport / visa issues are all checked out.
Off the train I exited. Up the long ramp into Terminal 1 I walked.
Issue 1 and Issue 2 Resolved : I swear to God Almighty In Heavens Above : The two of them had-to-have-seen-me-coming! I mean these two Filipino ladies were suddenly in-my-face : “Sir! How may we assist you Sir!” .. “S7 ? Yes Sir. Here in Terminal 1 .. Aisle E go there Sir and have a nice flight Sir!”
To my left I walked to Aisle E. To my right down Aisle E I proceeded. S7 was there on my left. Up to the S7 Airline Counter I walked. I was a good three hours early. NO LINE. NO HASSLE.
Issue 4 Resolved : “Yes Sir ! You are good to fly Sir ! Here is your Boarding Pass and luggage receipt.”
Issue 5 Resolved : “Wheel Chair ! No problem Sir. Return here (she clearly showed me where to be) at 3:40pm and a Wheel Chair and Attendant will be waiting.” I did (I was at my appointed place at 3:20pm, twenty minutes early) and my Chair and Attendant were ten minutes early at 3:30pm. All went perfect. An elderly man himself, he knew-his-business. Got me to my boarding gate and off he wandered. I felt very sad. I had not given him his gratuity. Late departure. “Sir we are ready for you Sir.” As if by magic my Attendant had reappeared. At the door to the aircraft I handed him a nice gratuity. He pushed it away with a nod and a smile. I grabbed his hand, pushed 120 Hong Kong Dollars into his hand, and he nearly wept with gratitude.
IRKUTSK : AIRCRAFT TO MY ROOM
If my memory serves me correctly, Russia was first-into-space. Sputnik 1 flew up on 4 October 1957, and orbited a human, Yuri Gagarin, in Vostok 1, on 12 April 1961. They do know a thing-or-two about flying. So I have felt quite comfortable flying with the Russian airlines.
We left Hong Kong late and arrived into Irkutsk 30-minutes early. I was assisted off the plane and into the terminal. I’d seen this drill with Patti. They know how to do it. Four long lines of passengers waiting to pass through Immigration. I was taken to the head-of-the-line. Presto I was through. 2 August 2017, into Russia from Mongolia. 19 October 2018, into Russia from Mongolia. 22 February 2019 into Russia from Korea. 24 July 2019 into Russia from Hong Kong. Plus all of my inter-Russian travel. All documented on the computers.
I waited to pick up my checked bag. Got it. My luggage tag confirmed it was my bag.
And then the wheels suddenly came off. I was facing another baggage X-Ray machine. “What is this about?” I asked myself quietly. Onto the X-Ray machine’s loading belt I put my bag. Then my back pack. Then (“Yes!” the X-Ray security lady motioned to me) my over-the-shoulder bag went through. And then, having again successfully passed an X-Ray inspection of my bags, I was facing the choice of which of four very long lines of people I would join each ending at a counter in the distance.
Lord God these lines were moving like Molasses-In-January. I sat on my little cane-chair. I switched lines. Again I switched lines. One full hour passed. I was about four from the counter. I was past exhaustion after the drama in Hong Kong. I looked at the electronic board above the desk behind each of the lines. It said : Beijing.
I recognized a man that had helped Patti to secure wheel chair assistance on a flight we took up to Yakutsk. I called him over. I said : “Which line should I be in Sir? I just arrived from Hong Kong. I don’t see a Hong Kong line. They all say : Beijing.”
When he replied that I was in the process of checking-in for a flight to Beijing I nearly dropped-dead-on-the-spot.
To the day I die (maybe that day will now be a day or so earlier because of this nightmare) I’ll never know what-on-earth happened.
Out front there were no cabs to be seen. No one was going anywhere. I called a friend. He got me a cab.
THIS NIGHTMARE WOULD NEVER EVER HAPPEN TO A WORLD SEER.
Now Patti will proof read this and Patti will decide whether to press Publish or just Delete it.
Cap and Patti
And What Was The Point Here Captain ?
I guess that I needed some ‘closure’ around this nightmare.
Call it catharsis : The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
- JUL 29, 19 .. A BLAST FROM THE PAST ..
- JUL 31, 19 .. THREE OF OUR FAVORITE HONG KONG RESTAURANTS ..