4.30 am is a pants time to get up. But up we got and stumbled around JJ’s house taking on the requisite amount of coffee for consciousness to assert itself. Moo was bundled into the car still in blankets and we headed off through the early morning mist en route once more to Heathrow. We checked-in early at the Jet Airlines desk with some trepidation, we had never flown with this particular airline before and the on-line reviews were not the best, but the price was so we bit the bullet and hoped for the best. The check-in was smooth and the very lovely lady waved through my ever-so-slightly overweight bag with a shrug and a smile. That beats a fine any day. After a brief breakfast stop and hugs for JJ we headed through security and straight to the gate. We were boarded early (the advantages of traveling with a small person) and settled into our extremely comfortable seats. The in – flight entertainment system welcomed us personally and assured us that we would be attended to as soon as possible, and within a couple of minutes Ravi arrived at our side to help us with our overhead luggage and ask us if we required anything for Moo, not a bad start.
The flight left 45 minutes late but once we were up and away it was not long before coffee was served, swiftly followed by breakfast. My seasoned companion had soon plugged herself into the children’s channel and little was heard from her for the next few hours, save a few breaks for refreshments. I took advantage of the silence and read for a while and watched the very moving film ‘Invictus’. Before we knew it lunch had arrived and it was dark outside. One of the many joys of traveling forward in time is watching night descend at breakneck speed, it always makes me chuckle for some reason.
We approached our changeover point of Mumbai around 9 hours later, hot towels and bottled water were handed round as we contemplated the ‘next bit’. We were supposed to have 1hr 45m to change planes, but as we had left late we were down to just over an hour. Just about everyone that I told of our 2 hr window had sucked in their breath in the manner of a malcontented garage mechanic and assured me I would need every second, and on finding the end of the security queue I seriously began to doubt that we would be on the flight to Hong Kong. The line was split between ladies and gents with the gents progressing at a vastly greater speed that the ladies. All became clear when we rounded what I had hoped was the last corner and saw 4 security gates open for the menfolk and one for the ladies and children. It was now 35 minutes till our flight was due to leave and there were at least 40 people in front of us. It was going to be a tense half hour. Moo was shuffling along the floor beside me as we inched towards our goal trying desperately hard not to fall asleep on my legs. We inched forward and in a bid to get ahead of the game I asked a rather short tempered security guard if shoes were required to be removed ho barked a ‘no’ at me and stalked off. 26 minutes later it was our turn and of course we were ordered to take of our shoes. Moo went through the screening first and was taken to a cubicle on the left for a full body scan, as I went through I tried to follow her but was forced to go to the right cubicle. I tried to wave to her so she knew where I was but she didn’t see me, the lady doing my scan got very cross with me for moving around so much, but I was increasingly agitated as I saw them finish with Moo and send her off to get her coat and shoes from the conveyer belt. I yelled at her and she finally spotted me, as she walked over to me she was stopped by another guard and asked where she was going. Mercifully I was done by then and I managed to collect her and go to fetch our bags. Or so I thought. Having been through the rigorous checks at already at Heathrow I assumed all would be well, but as I struggled back into my shoes and jacket I was called over to explain why I had a blade in my bag. Thoroughly confused I was adamant that there was no such thing in there and had to turn out my bag and go through the few items in there. After a couple of minutes furious searching it transpired that the ‘blade’ was in fact a pencil sharpener in Moo’s pencil case….. I understand that security is a huge issue and I totally respect that airport officials must do their job to ensure the safety of millions of passengers, but a pencil sharpener?
With my deadly assault weapon confiscated and a bag full of felt tip pens we hot-footed it towards the gate, praying it was still open. Again the good Lord was smiling and the gate was relatively close but I was still out of breath as we ran up to the desk. At 1.02 precisely we passed through boarding and once again were in the hands of Jet Airlines. And what wonderful hands they were. Seeing our disheveled state a lovely steward took our hand luggage and offered Moo a ride up to the plane in a wheelchair so she didn’t have to walk any further. I was half tempted to ask if I could get one too, but felt that may have been pushing our luck. We got to our seats and breathed a huge sigh of relief, one or two more security stragglers made it on board and precisely 3 minutes after we had boarded the plane, the doors were closed.
With the drama over we settled ourselves in for another 5 hours in the air. More hot towels were handed round along with pre take-off refreshments. We took a long swig of our ‘re-vitalising tonic’ which is a local delicacy that goes by the name of Nimbu Paani. A word of caution here for those unfamiliar with the drink. Whilst the lemon on the bottle may look tempting and indeed refreshing, the taste of Nimbu Panni was likened, by my surprised and rather disgusted looking daughter, to ‘lemonish sweat’. She was not far off.
The rest of the flight passed without incident, Moo finally decided she was tired and slept most of the way while I listened to some music and drifted in and out of one of my favorite films ‘ Benny and Joon’.
Breakfast was delivered to an unimpressed looking Moo, I’m not sure she was quite ready for a spiced omelette, and as I tucked in it became clear she would not. As the steward passed he noticed her still full tray and returned moments later with a box of cereal instead, and of course the hot and cold towels. As I said at the beginning of this piece, we were a little concerned as the reviews on-line for Jet were not great, but I can unreservedly recommend them. The planes were spotless, the seats were roomy, the in flight entertainment was superb and the service was impeccable. I would not hesitate to fly with them again, although I would probably leave a slightly longer window to transit through Mumbai.
And so we had arrived at Hong Kong, checked-in for our ferry and I had obtained more caffeine. A short call to Hubs to let him know we had arrived and find out where we were staying. The company has moved us to different apartment block that is more family friendly, but up to yesterday he did not know exactly where. Now at least he has a key, and had 1 hour to move in before coming to meet us. I have to say he did extremely well in the time.
And so we moved in to our new home and spent the rest of the day lolling about the apartment admiring the views of the hotel pool and planning our visits there.
There is no internet in the flat as yet but hubs is on the case and will be sorting it out with work in the next few days while I roam the island for hot-spots.
I expect the next few days will be spent settling in and ‘nesting’ and lounging by the pool. It’s good to be back