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Published: June 15th 2019
With the bags all repacked, all devices charged and a backpack filled to the gills with food, we headed off on our 80day RTW journey. The first question being whether all the bags, plus buggy, plus 3 adults and a little person would fit in my Dad's car. The bags looked bulky enough to warrant a prepack, but thankfully that yielded the correct configuration to make it work, so at least we'd be able to get as far as Dublin airport!
No good trip would be complete without a last minute hitch, and ours came in the form of me not being able to locate a credit card. After tearing the house apart in multiple tornadoes, we decided to just trust that I had packed it 'somewhere safe' and it would turn up eventually when we were unpacking on the other side (it did!) . After all the careful packing and repacking, this irritated me, but we were also aware that we could make it work without the card. Onwards to the airport!
At Dublin Airport, despite checking in online, we had to queue with the other Cathay Pacific passengers to drop our luggage. After snaking along for what
felt like ages, we got a chatty desk agent who took 5 minutes to talk to us about the current troubles with the marches in Hong Kong, before completing her story with a 'go straight to the gate after security as we're boarding shortly' - well thanks for costing us an extra 5 minutes of buffer Mrs friendly lady!!
So with the pressure slightly raised we joined an even longer queue to get through security. Murphy's Law hit, in that we were assigned to the slowest queue, three of our bags got stopped for extra checking (all clear!) and the guy in front of us decided to try to debate the merits of being asked to hand in a particularly nice, but far too large, bottle of whisky. All of this combined meant that we got to the gate as most of the passengers were already on board, with very little time left over for an ill-timed, but very necessary, nappy pitstop before boarding.
Once on board you get hit with the subtle (and not so subtle! ) differences of not flying Ryanair. It's all just designed to make travel as pleasant as it can be! After installing
Senan in his harness and finding the button to show him the view from the top of the plane on his TV screen (cool!) , I set about power feeding him until the seat belt sign was switched off. The clever airline management clearly also have travelled with toddlers, as they have Peppa Pig on demand in the in flight entertainment, which once discovered, left Senan as happy as the proverbial Peppa in.... eh, muddy puddles.
In all honesty the flight went well, we both agreed it was better than expected (read feared) albeit that neither of us managed more than 20minutes of shut-eye. About half way into the 12hour flight Senan gave into tiredness and made it very clear whose sleep took priority as he parked himself perpendicular in the seat between us, pushing Philippe to spill out into the aisle and subtly inserting his feet behind my back, incrementally nudging me to the edge of my seat. It's funny though, because as the parent in that situation you're just happy he is sleeping and not roaring keeping the rest of the plane awake!
Two movies later, the cabin crew turned up the lights and a grumpy
Senan was not amused. After passifying him with breakfast and a few more laps around the plane, we realised that we were very close to completing the trip without a major incident, for which we a very grateful. We won't count our chickens just yet, but it bodes well for the remaining 10 flights.
Arriving in Hong Kong Airport, all credit to Cathay Pacific, the buggy was waiting for us after disembarking, but all Senan wanted to do was run!! As he embraced his new-found freedom, we meandered our way through the airport, smiling sweetly at the immigration officers and making good time to the baggage area, arriving just in time to scoop the luggage from the carousel. With a trolley full of bags, we found our way to the A11 bus stop, overpaid the exact-change-only bus driver (as the ticket office wasn't open yet), and settled in for the hour long trip to the bus stop near our hotel.
At our stop, after an enthusiastic breaking manoeuvre (which left me and my multiple bags elegantly sprawled across the bus floor!) we disembarked at Victoria Park bus stop and set about locating our home for the coming 4
nights, the Rosedale Hotel.
Despite arriving on day of check-in at 8.30am they took pity on us and immediately allowed us into our bedroom. After delivering an additional cot for Senan (which he finds great to have his 'own bed' , but has zero intention of sleeping in!) we piled into the king sized bed, ambitiously setting an alarm for 13:00 local time.
13:00 came and went. But at 16:00 we decided we needed to get with the programme. The bare essentials of water, nappies and chocolate needed to be acquired and so, armed with a map from reception, we set off to find the local Wellcome grocery store.
What an attack on our senses! If Philippe and I were impressed, I can only imagine what was going on in little Senan's head. As we navigated the various bridges to cross the main road Senan clung on to his mammy with a look of quiet shock as he soaked up our new surroundings.
We made it to the supermarket unscathed and were pleased to find all we needed and more. There is a very humbling moment that occurs while standing in a supermarket filled with locals
and realizing you are one of very few odd ones out. It was a real 'we're not in Kansas anymore' moment, but I loved it! This is what this trip is all about - soaking up little bits of otherness from around the world!
I was able to pay by credit card but had no clue what the cashier was saying to me until she enthusiastically proffered some promotional stamps my way and smiled. OK, eh, no, but thank you for trying.
We mosied back to the hotel to deposit our purchases and set about making a plan for dinner. Philippe had spotted a nice place in our street which seemed to have a picture menu and English signs. That'll do nicely then.
Upon reaching it I realised it was a Din Tai Fung, which I had also eaten in in Kuala Lumpur last year. Trust us to 'wander into' a Michelin star restaurant! We were extra lucky as they had space immediately (on a Friday evening) and we were soon eating like Kings.
Yes I realise that we may have set the bar a little bit high, but it was 100€ well spent, to have
such a good start to our little family's adventure.
After dinner we loaded Senan into the carry sling and set off on foot to soak up the atmosphere around us, and to buy an Octopus card to make public transport travel easier in the coming days. Senan clung tightly to me as we wandered through the led lit streets, but he took it all in his stride and eventually curled up on my back for a nap.
That nap meant that he was still bouncing around the hotel room at midnight last night! But (as I told my myself then) it's not his fault and was to be expected, and is entirely why we inserted these 4 days into the trip to split the flight and get our body clocks caught up.
All in all, it's going great. Philippe and I still love Hong Kong and now Senan does too!
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