Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hong Kong Young Readers Festival Day # 1

After months of planning and incessant worrying and a final   restless night at home, I woke up at about 4:45am to get ready for my trip to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong International Young Readers Festival, my first overseas book festival in like ever... so after checking my bags Mum and Dad drove me to the airport for my 9:30am flight. The drive seemed as long as the three hour flight with Mum reminding me to be careful not to lose my passport, credit cards or the ticket or anything else. I guess her nagging was supposed to calm my nerves as I'm extremely nervous about flying and I really, really hate turbulence (and I should have paid more attention to her warning about losing stuff because I would end up doing just that). I really should stop watching those TV shows Air Crash Investigation and 30 Seconds to Disaster.

So I was glad that artist/illustrator Susana Goho was accompanying me on the trip as my workshop assistant/partner.  I had checked in online so all we had to do was check our baggage in and head for immigration.

Fortunately, the line wasn't that long and Susanna, who I spotted at the other end of the terminal dressed in bright orange persimmon  she dashed over to join me in line.  Her family followed in her wake. It was about 8:00ish and she was bright, chirpy and cheerful, looking forward to the trip.  Susanna was completely oblivious to what spending 5 days in Hong Kong with me would be like -let's just say she knows now. With our bags checked in,  we said goodbyes and there was no turning back and we walked toward the inevitable, the moment that we had to board the plane.  

 Susanna: We're going on a jet plane. Me: Can we take a train instead?

Me: I'm serious, isn't there another mode of transport to Hong Kong?

Susanna's kin waved us off as we headed towards our gate. It wasn't a full flight and we found our seats, belted up and waited for takeoff. A baby on the next aisle was screaming her head of, echoing what I was feeling. I texted family members and friends to pray for a safe, non - turbulent flight and remembered to turn my phone to airplane mode and switched it off. People, if you're on a plane remember to turn off your electronic devices!!

Well, the prayers worked, it was a smooth non turbulent flight and we arrived in Hong Kong three hours later. There were no problems at immigration but when we hit the baggage carousel, there was a major hitch. Both of us could not recognise our bags! So we stood there until everyone had claimed their luggage. Then we headed out to catch a cab to our hotel.

Now since I speak a rather sophisticated level of Cantonese the cab driver could not understand my instructions- it's so sophisticated that no one in the Cantonese speaking world can understand it- Susanna had to translate and we were off and on our way to the Festival's official hotel The Ibis Sheung Wan and Central.

Half an hour later we were arrived and I picked up my welcome package from Liana, the festival director and then we faced a hitch - they didn't have  Susanna's hotel reservation. I started to get frantic. Several checks showed no reservation was made under her name and then I realised that I made the booking under another name. Once that was settled, we wheeled our bags to our rooms and settled in for a bit before deciding to explore the neighbourhood.

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