Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Clouds from Both Sides

We left Saskatoon at sunrise, under cloudy gray skies but we soon broke out above the cloud layer into the warm early morning sun. I love seeing the clouds from above, especially from the top of a mountain, but from a plane works too.


Luckily it had cleared a bit by the time we went over the mountains, leaving just the valleys filled with cloud. Sometimes I can identify the peaks as we go over but we must have been on a different track this time and nothing looked familiar. The sun was at a low angle, highlighting some peaks while leaving dark shadows.



Vancouver also had low lying fog and clouds with various structures poking up through it.



We had almost five hours in Vancouver but a friend came out to have breakfast with us and the time passed quickly. The only hitch was getting back through security where I set off the scanners despite wearing identical clothes as in Saskatoon. It wasn't a problem, it just meant multiple additional pat downs and scans.

It seems like you should fly west from Vancouver but the great circle route goes north up the coast. We had great views of the endless coast range with it's peaks and glaciers.

Also some good views of what I think was the north western tip of Alaska with a few volcanic looking mountains.



Our first meal in "premium economy" was definitely a step up from the usual - white tablecloths, cloth napkins, glass wineglasses, and real cutlery including a knife! After that the meals went back to the usual peel the tinfoil off your TV dinner.

Over the Pacific we had some nice cloud scapes.


And closer to Hong Kong, as we descended, some evening views of the water.


Hong Kong immigration was quick and easy and my bag was one of the first down the belt. But then we waited and waited. We were starting to wonder but finally Shelley's showed up, one of the last off. I'm not sure how our bags got so separated.

Past immigration the first thing you see is the ticket counter for the train to downtown. 25 minutes later we were getting off at the central station. We could have taken a taxi from the station but it was only a bit more than a kilometre to our airbnb apartment so we hoisted our duffel bags and set out with paper map, offline iPhone map (Forever Map), and written directions. The first half a kilometre involved winding our way through the huge IFC mall. After that we eventually found the start of the escalators which helped ascend the hill. We found our street and with minor difficulty the hole in the wall entrance to our apartment building. We climbed the seven flight of stairs (no elevator) sweating profusely in +34c and 100% humidity.

And then found they hadn't left the key where it was supposed to be. Now what?! We had contact phone numbers but couldn't figure out how to dial them - probably something to do with country codes. We could hear a TV in the apartment next door so Shelley was brave enough to knock on the door. The guy who answered was definitely our saviour that night. He phoned our contact numbers for us, and although there was no answer at either, we left a message. Then we had to wait, so he opened up a spare apartment that he owned and let us use it while we waited. A little later he brought us a bowl of grapes to eat.  Eventually the owner called us back. She had forgotten all about us (?!) but would send her assistant to bring us the key. After another 20 minutes of waiting she showed up and we found the apartment hadn't even been cleaned after the last guests. So we waited yet again while she did a quick cleaning job.

The apartment itself was fine, but we really didn't need the hassle and stress of not being able to get in, especially when we were tired out after 24 hours on the go. Oh well, if you're going to leave the beaten path you have to expect a few bumps along the way.

See all 21 photos as a slideshow or overview

* the title is from a Joni Mitchell song, Both Sides Now

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