16 Hour Flights: Full Heart, Full Ankles
This summer has grown me in experience and this flight grown my ankles in circumference. Currently, I’m somewhere over Russia at an altitude of 36000, working up the nerve to wake the gentlemen next to me for a restroom break. This flight is long, but if I’m being honest, I’m enjoying it. After a whirlwind part 1 of this program, and a whirlwind time at home, it’s actually a relief having 16 hours of minimal responsibility ahead of me. All I have to do is exist and occasionally specify between veggie and chicken with my flight attendant. Doable. I’ve already taken a couple of naps and I intend to be as sharp as possible upon landing in Hong Kong. Much to my surprise and delight, this travel day is really *flying* by! I’m learning to pack a little lighter and sleep a little longer. Practice makes perfect!
Ni hao, HK! The morning after arriving, we met with Benson Tang for breakfast. Meeting Benson was eagerly anticipated due to the many good things we have heard about him from MAP alumni. He certainly did not disappoint. By 10am we had received a crash course in Hong Kong business etiquette as well as a briefing on the Chinese culture and history. Benson is a born educator. He is gifted with the ability of communicating with people of different backgrounds and helping them to understand new concepts. Throughout this breakfast, Benson mentioned the same thing over and over again. He said, “you will be shocked by the cultural differences!”
He was right.
During our brief time in Hong Kong, we attended two meetings. Our first meeting was with BCD Travel. This meeting solidified my previous observation that my company is incredibly consistent. This marks our fourth BCD office visit (in our third country!) and each office feels so very similar in culture, mission, and vision. BCD hosted us to a Cantonese meal downtown Hong Kong. This was my first opportunity to use chopsticks while here in Asia! I am slow, but I am determined. Somehow, I only managed to drop one dumpling on my lap and fortunately no one noticed. We also had the lovely opportunity of getting to know some of BCD’s management based out of Hong Kong. Neither this meal, nor this company disappointed us.
Following lunch with BCD, we visited Cathay Pacific, an Asian airline established in 1946. Here we learned more about Cathay, their vision, market, strengths, competition, challenges and technological advancements. We also discussed the. complicated and expansive travel market in China, specifically in regards to aviation. This meeting was capped with a one of a kind beer, called Betsy, which is specifically brewed by Cathay and intended to be drank at an altitude of 35,000. It was delicious! We then enjoyed a couple of glasses of white wine and appetizers with Benson back at the hotel, regrouped, and spent the evening exploring Hong Kong. What a beautiful and humid place. Before we knew it, we were at the airport headed to Beijing. What a whirlwind trip. I have no doubt I will be back in Hong Kong down the road, and I cannot wait. But first, let’s take on China!
Fun fact: eating noodles on a birthday is considered by the residents of Hong Kong to afford one a long and blessed life. I didn’t have a birthday during my time in Hong Kong; however, I still ate noodles and I’m still feeling blessed.