Saturday, over a week ago, our bags were packed and the girls and I were in a London black cab on our way to Heathrow airport. The Shropshire boy works for an airline, so we get some travel discounts - but you are always on standby. You never know if you will get on a flight or not. We knew there were 3 flights leaving London that afternoon/evening and they were all listed as "amber" - meaning we should have a reasonable chance to get on one of them. If they had been "red", there would be much less chance. I had my positive cap on. We are going to get on one of these flights was my mantra for the day.
I was in no way prepared to be flatly turned away and told that there was no chance we would get on a flight that day. Or the next day for that matter. We were not the only ones turned away, many other staff travelers were.
I could barely stop myself from having a panic attack. There were tears. There was swearing under my breath. I called my Shropshire boy in Hong Kong and we talked it through. I could go back to our friends apartment for a few days, but Abbey would then miss the start of kinder. I could just turn up for every flight and hope they could get me on the next day - this sounded exhausting to do everyday with two little girls and our luggage and a stroller. Suddenly, Hong Kong felt so far away. I felt so alone. Our discounted travel was no longer as wonderful as it had first seemed.
We checked other airline carriers, to see if anyone else flew to Hong Kong. Few did and the expense was just too much. We could go back to Shropshire and stay with our family for the rest of the week and wait till the flights freed up again, when ever that may be. I really wanted Abbey to start kinder on time, this was very important to me - a new kinder in a new country.
We finally decided it was best the girls and I got a flight to Amsterdam, then a flight to Hong Kong from there as these flights were not as busy as the ones out of London. As long as our tickets could be used from Amsterdam.
The Shropshire boy could check the Amsterdam flight, and it was telling him there were lots of free seats. I was reluctant to believe him as it had told us earlier in that day they there were seats available from London when clearly there were not.
I lined up again at the staff check in counter and yes, the tickets we had were valid to be used from Amsterdam also. I asked them to confirm there were ample seats available on the flight out of Amsterdam the next day - yes there were many seats free.
By now, it was approaching the girls dinner time, so I was drip feeding them food from my travel stash (I always pack lots of extra food, I have learnt to do this from experience) I pushed our trolley of luggage and stroller from one end of the terminal to the other, Zoe sitting on the trolley handle, Abbey dragging her feet slowly behind me . Luckily, another airline carrier had flights available the next morning to get us out of London to Amsterdam. We took a chance and I booked our flight tickets. There was always a chance the Amsterdam flight could fill up and we could be stuck there. I then walked to the next terminal at Heathrow, trolley and girls in tow, to book a hotel for the night.
There was a huge range of rooms available, from 200 pounds to 700 pounds for one night. I called the Shropshire boy to get him to find us a cheaper room online, but he could not do an internet search for that night as Hong Kong are 7 hours ahead of the UK and Hong Kong had clicked over to the next day. I was starting to panic again. Luckily, the booking agent called me over and said he found a much cheaper hotel with rooms available. We booked the room immediately and headed off to the bus terminal to get a shuttle bus to the hotel.
We had just missed a bus and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one. Finally at the hotel, checking in, we were very lucky to arrive just 10 minutes before a whole bus load of Welsh families (who had spent the day at Legoland) We dumped our bags and the stroller in our room and headed to the hotel restaurant for a very average meal, then back to our room for bed.
Unfortunatly, our flight to Amsterdam was very early, at 7.20am. I did not sleep very well as I was scared I would sleep through the two alarms I had set. We had to get up at 4am to catch the hotel shuttle bus to take us to the airport to check in on time. By the time we were checked in, I was exhausted already, and we had not even left England!
The flight to Amsterdam was only 45 minutes long. For some reason, I felt so sick on this flight, I was suffering from terrible nausea. Not much fun when you are trying to entertain two little girls.
I was so happy to land in Amsterdam so the nausea would stop. More waiting in queues for passport control then we collected our bags and the stroller and set off to check in for our flight back to Hong Kong.
I was so relieved they checked us in right away - we were going back to HongHong Kong - yay!
One of the funny things about this, there was another staff mum, with two kids, who caught the same flight from London, wanting to get the Amsterdam flight back to Hong Kong. We became very chatty with each other, and Abbey her her daughter were having a great time playing together. It made the 4 hours waiting in Amsterdam go very quickly.
Finally, we could board the flight to London. The first few hours were easy, the girls either ate, slept or watched their TV's - so many kids TV programs and movies to choose from. The last few hours were not so good. I had a tummy ache, the runs and was feeling nauseous again. I then started to feel like I would vomit and had a terrible head ache. 30 minutes before landing, Abbey fell asleep. I rushed to the toilet and vomited. Seven minutes before landing, Zoe fell asleep. I was feeling worse than ever and vomited again - in a paper bag, not much fun. After this, I felt much better, then we landed. I woke up two sleeping girls. Abbey was very cranky. She was yelling and refusing to walk. I was carrying a very drowsy Zoe on one hip while also pulling along our wheelie hand luggage bag, talking to Abbey, to encourage her to walk behind me. She did so, very reluctantly, all the while making little yells of "ahhh". She does this when she is very tired. Thank goodness the stroller was waiting for us as soon as we got off the plane. Zoe was put in it, I could then hold Abbey's hand and pull our wheelie bag along. We we in Hong Kong. I was so relieved. The Shropshire boy was so close, waiting for us.
Hong Kong airport is HUGE. We still had a long walk, then a train ride to get us out. I got onto the first travelator (horizontal escalator) and some how, Abbey did not follow me on. She just stood still, crying, while Zoe and I moved off. I was asking her to get on the travelator with us but she was refusing, just standing there crying. There was nothing I could do. The Hong Kong travelators are very, very long. A crowd was gathering around Abbey, wondering who she belonged too. A kind couple waited with her until Zoe and I could get off the travelator and walk back to her (did I mention how long the Hong Kong travelators are, oh yes, they are) The lovely couple offered to help us and the man pushed Zoe in the stroller while I comforted an upset Abbey. We finally got to the train and Abbey agreed to walk. Then to immigration and next to collect our luggage. I put as much as I could on a trolley and we finally made our way slowly out. I was so happy to see the Shropshire boy waiting for us. I wanted to collapse. I felt like I had been put through a wringer a few times over.
Do you know what? I felt so happy to be "home". The realisation that Hong Kong was now our home hit me hard - but in a good way. I could not help but grin. I was home. We were back with the Shropshire boy again. I had survived an awful journey home. All was well in my world again.
I am in no hurry to travel again soon. The jet lag and time difference change has taken us a whole week to get over. We are slowly settling into our new life in Hong Kong. Abbey is loving her new kinder and making new friends. Zoe and I have begun exploring. We have been swimming in the pool. Lots.
There are still boxes to unpack and furniture to assemble, but I am in no hurry. We are home.
I hope all is well in your world.