Travel Lucky

Ok, blurb first. I don’t believe in coincidences. Things happen for a reason. (clich√©, I know. whatever.) I want to believe in luck, but experience with lotto tickets says no. Even so, I will use the word lucky and its synonyms because to write blessed or privileged here makes me sounds like a pretentious twit. Preamble over, let’s go ahead.

I’m travelling and recognise that I’ve been very lucky to be on such a nice trip. I recognise that not everyone can afford the time or money to travel. I toured Beijing for a week with my parents, then Malaysia for an old workmate’s wedding, and then Singapore for fun. Now I’m home in North America for two weeks and Christmas.

But not only that, I’ve been surprisingly lucky in terms of timing. Since Cathay Pacific is based in Hong Kong, I’ve been there 4 times just flying home.

  1. Flight from Beijing to Hong Kong. The parents were scheduled to fly at 10am. I was scheduled to fly out at 630pm, but on standby for an earlier flight at 12pm. By original flight plans, I would have arrived in HK at 10pm and would be flying out the next morning for Singapore at 8am = barely any sleep. Beijing being what it is, rush hour starts at 630am. That meant 515am wake up, leaving the hotel at 6am and aiming to arrive by 8am. We arrived at 715am. Mum offered to take my luggage so I wouldn’t be so burdened. At the counter, Mum asked about earlier flights. The woman said, “I can fit all 3 of you for the 8am flight.” but because the luggage would never make it on time, Mum suggested I take it by myself. I ran for security, jumped 8 people in the queue after explaining, got through an individual scanning and ran for the gate. I made it and was so chuffed. Sweaty and moist, but chuffed.
  2. Shuttle from Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). I’d missed it before, and it only leaves hourly at 45 minutes past the hour. This time, in line at immigration, I noticed it was 11:39am. There was no hope of jumping the queue here. But cheers to Asian efficiency, I made it out in 4 minutes with 5 people ahead of me. I trotted quickly to the bus bay, and saw that it was there! I ran for it and made it on the bus. It was 11:47am. And they’re usually quite punctual with arrival/departure times. I made it to the hotel, got a room upgrade (sweet as!), had a shower, connected to the wifi and felt so much better. By the time I had a leisurely sushi lunch, I was literally walking in the door with Mum and Dad.
  3. Shuttle from Singapore to Malaysia. Based on original projections, I would miss the bus with the other wedding guests, so there were other normal busses available for the ride across the border. I arrived at Singapore and after a bit of figuring things out, walked to the bus bay. According to the online schedule, the bus wasn’t due to arrive for another 45 minutes. A man walked towards me and said, “Where are you going?” I named my destination and he said urgently, “Come! Come! That’s the bus pulling away!” I thought, “Yeah right, as if you can make the bus stop.” and rolled my eyes internally. But he did manage to get it to stop, and I got on. Later, the groom said I was lucky to get the bus since it’s can be difficult to catch, he’s never gotten it.

I do feel very lucky and like someone’s watching out for me. I don’t mind travel. I don’t get anxious over flying. I hate everyone else’s response, especially crying babies on flights. But without catching these forms of transport when I did, it would’ve been a very bad trip, for which I am thankful.


Airport Traffic Cops

Traffic Wardens from Hell #666

Image by Ennor via Flickr

In my degree, most of us started working in second year and a common complaint quickly emerged: what we learn in theory isn’t applied in practice. And it’s true to some degree. If someone asks for an antihistamine, other medications don’t usually have an impact on the suggested product. But of course, we learn it all; it’s what allows us to stand behind that counter, check that it’s appropriate therapy and discuss any concerns with the patient in counselling.

However, there’s a point where you just accept that theory and practice don’t line up. I’d certainly like to disabuse a particular airport traffic warden of that notion. In the four years I’ve been here in Australia, picking up someone from the international airport late at night has been a simple process:

  1. Drive to the airport to arrive close to anticipated exit time from customs.
  2. Wait in the pick up lanes (vs. the drop off lanes).
  3. Greet and hug the person(s), then load the car.
  4. Drive off on our merry way.

Tonight was different. I drive there and get in the lane to wait. This middle-aged traffic warden in high-vis clothing walks up and gestures her hand in a circle above her head. I figure she’s indicating the halo that must be above my own head as I’m the very image of a saint. or something. Let’s go with “for being a good child and picking your dad up from the airport.” and for driving a Prius. Ok, my sister’s Prius.

No. I am mistaken. This presumptuous creature strides up to my window and raps on it with her filthy knuckles. (Even if I was in my crappy Toyota Corolla, I don’t care. Don’t touch my car.)¬† From her gaping maw issues a statement: “You have to circle. You can’t wait here.” I can see some cars moving into the actual pick-up lane behind me, so I thank her politely and make the circuit. I come right back around because I’m acting as per experience. She come right back and repeats her message. I am disappointed her excitement doesn’t match mine at my dad visiting.

After 2 hours of this rigmarole, I realise something. She’s an absolute @#$!-ing idiot. It’s the same 3 cars that are doing this ridiculous circuit you insist on. There’s room in this pick-up lane for 10 cars. It’s not a high-traffic time. And if I get a text message from my Dad saying he’s here, I’m going to !@#%-ing wait in the !@%#!@# lane because I know he’s gotten through customs.

“Well, you’re going to have to park and then come in if he’s not here for you to pick up.”

Uh, no, because that’s not how this goes, you _____ (adjective) _____ (adjective) _____ (adjective) _____ (noun). Don’t you dare imply I’d be incapable of understanding what you’re saying, you racist cow. You walk the traffic lanes at a deserted airport on a Thursday night. And you entirely stuffed up what should’ve been a quick, efficient happy pick up from the airport. _____ (noun).