A Nasty Flight Back - High Rollers - CycleBlaze

February 20, 2019

A Nasty Flight Back

It would have been a grueling day of travel even with great conditions, but when this was the most turbulent flight of my life that didn't help matters.

The day started early with biking to the LA Metro line then riding to Union Station and switching to the LAX Flyaway bus.  At the airport itself check in went great and I didn't get charged with the bike.  They told me the flight to Hong Kong would be delayed and I'd likely miss my connecting flight but I wasn't worried because the airline would provide a hotel in Hong Kong.

Even so I needed to find some way to drink lots of alcohol at the airport terminal and sneak some onto the plane in order to make the 15 hour flight go faster.  Books have been written on how to do this and I was becoming quite the expert already.  The trick at first was to knock back a bunch of drinks before airport security then go through quickly.  After that, do the airport pub crawl and then finally hit the duty free just before getting to the gate.

Ready to rock
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Made good use of the duty free
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All this worked and I passed out for the initial portion of the flight but I woke up after the plane started doing some horrific nosedives and bouncing around with severe turbulence.  I was horrified to see we were in the Arctic regions and if this plane were to go down here, we'd all gonna die.  Later I found out from my pilot friend in Shanghai who was tracking this flight that there are areas marked in red on maps to say 'Do not fly' and this flight was flying right into one.  Maybe that had explained the delay that the captain knew there was some nasty turbulence already and was anticipating it would ease off a few hours later and decided to take the risk and fly anyway.  Even so he made zero announcements about this and it appeared I was the only one freaking out.

Rather near where all the turbulence happened
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Eventually we crossed into Asian territory though and things calmed down.  On arrival in Hong Kong they provided a hotel as promised.

This place was awesome
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Waking up after a wicked good sleep, I felt this immense joy and happiness that I had survived the flight and was now on solid Asian soil after all those weeks of the trip. Yes the trip was awesome, but it felt so good to be back. First order of business was to redeem the restaurant coupon, also courtesy of the airlines, and then head for the bank. Hong Kong airport is one of the best in the world, where else can you find several branches of HSBC inside the terminal? In fact, there is also one right there in the airport hotel where I stayed, but it is for Premier customers only. Given time, that'll be me, it requires at least a million Hong Kong dollar balance to get this status, about $150,000 US. Until then, it would have to be second class status.

Inside the Hong Kong terminal, one of the best in the world
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Even so, it was awesome. It is amazing to be able to do this international banking and have these strategic accounts, that essentially can finance my cycle tours. After a short wait the guy called me up and I did some routine business. Meanwhile he asked, "Are you a pilot?" I said "Wouldn't that be nice, no I'm just here changing flights." He then said, "You look a bit like the guy in the Godfather movie." After a bit more back and forth he learned I was just a math teacher in Shanghai and had to ask, "So how is it over in the mainland? Is it enjoyable?" I said, "Yes but Hong Kong is better." He asked why and I said "Because it's more convenient, I mean where else in the world can you do your banking between flights without leaving the airport terminal?" That seemed to win him over and he next came out with "Would you like to apply for a credit card? Just send your payslip to my email" and wrote it down. This was a surprise because to my knowledge you had to have a Hong Kong address to pull this off. Then again, you needed one to open an account in the first place, and somehow I was able to do this with a mainland address so who knows. After finishing off the business he said, "You're really interesting." I said thanks then he finished with, "Well your students must be really smart because you're a good teacher." Ah it felt great to be back in Asia. This flight delay was just kicking so much ass.

Taking advantage of it to the max, I then roamed the terminal and got more breakfast. It would have easily been possible to go in and out of the city which has happened on these layovers before, but in the interests of maxing out the hotel I went back for another nap and checked out just in time to make the final flight leg of the journey.

There was a slight little snag in that all the alcohol bought at duty free in LAX was in my carry-on, but since I had already passed immigration to get into the hotel, the booze bottles wouldn't make the security re-check for the last flight, and so they would have to be checked in. Thanks to the awesome airline, this wasn't an issue and I was all set to go. Later on I learned through online research it is in fact possible to get booze through security, you just have to follow the 3-1-1 rule. Need to have 3 ounces maximum (100 mL) bottles, one ziplock bag about a quart sized where you can pack as many bottles as possible, and one passenger per bag. Other airports may be different, in which case the 50mL miniature bottle may be the limit.

The last leg went smoothly, and much to my delight, the Tern bike was sitting there in Pudong airport having arrived on the oversized baggage. It was a simple matter of picking it up then heading in a taxi home.

One of the first things I did when getting back
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Today's ride: 5 km (3 miles)
Total: 661 km (410 miles)

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