First thing to do on my final day, after a frantic packing session and a strange breakfast of Yakult, a banana and some garlic bread (which I tried to heat up using the Grill function on Sudha's microwave and nearly succeeded in setting the fire alarm off!), I took the MTR to the In-Town Check-in for Hong Kong international.
If you've watched the YouTube video I linked to a couple of times, you'll know why this checkin is so cool - but if not, it is a normal airport check-in and bag drop, but right in the heart of Hong Kong, 16 miles from the airport. To use it you must purchase a ticket on the Airport Express, the fast rail link to the airport, then check your bag in up to 24hrs before you depart and (at some point) ride the Express to the airport. What a cool service!
I needed to drop my big bag off but had other plans for the day, based at Tung Chung, so I dropped my bag and took the Express to the penultimate station before the airport and then got off, taking the MTR over to Tung Chung while my bag continued to the airport without me! I'd left quite a few fudge factors in this trip but needed most of them to meet my contact on time in Tung Chung.
My contact was a chap called David, who I had been put in touch with via Bhasi, the chap Sudip had introduced me to at Vineeta and Ajay's wedding reception. David has lived in Hong Kong since the 1970s as an aircraft engineer with Cathay Pacific and was therefore in a great position to tell me about the life and work of an expat in this industry.
David took me over to Cathay City, an incredible complex which houses all of Cathay's operations and training, located just next door to the airport. What an advantage of having a compact country! We had a good chat there, and he invited another senior engineer to join us, so this meeting was really quite useful.
Cathay City with gate guardian.
We then journeyed back to Tung Chung and had a drink at Starbucks while I waited to meet another friend from Bath Uni - this is Guy Barkley, a friend of mine from ChaOS (the Choral and Orchestral Society). Guy is an incredible drummer but is also an engineer, taking a year out from his degree to study more about Chinese and Hong Kong culture and industry with a view to setting up an automotive company out here. Best of luck to him!
(yes, I had packed all my other clothes and sent them to the airport without me, so all I had to wear was 'engineering dress'...)
I then took the bus to the airport, admiring the gondola and the view again en route. Sadly all the cars were off-line (literally) today, presumably for maintenance, so it's a good job I had gone up the mountain when I did!
..and I was able to have a look around the very impressive structure of Terminal 1 (which I had been assured that morning that my flight left from).
But alas! My flight actually left from T2 so I had to make my way across the entire complex to a much less impressive wing, but at least it had shops etc and a good view. I had exactly 74 HKD left on me so found a sushi place where I could plan a meal to exactly match my wallet...
Then 'Tiger Airways to Singapore' was boarding and I enjoyed the typical budget airline scrum for the gate. But at least I had booked a seat, right? Wrong! I was in possibly the worst seat in the whole plane, even though it was a window seat - it was very cramped (like all of them) yet, being in front of the exit row (the one with the good legroom) I couldn't even recline my seat so had so sleep through the 3.5 hour flight sitting bolt upright!
I was treated to the sight of watching the freight being 'unloaded' or rather 'violently disembarked' from the aircraft. There were lots of cardboard boxes, all with the classic wineglass logo meaning fragile on them, which were being unceremoniously chucked into the waiting truck. I mean lobbed a good couple of metres with no respect for the contents! So much for 'handle like glass'.
But at least I was on an Airbus which afforded some variety and we had a good view of the mountain, the other aircraft and those taking off. So not all bad!