Tonight I venture where many have before me, on a long-haul flight with a baby. This will be our second flight in 3 days, with this stopover in Hong Kong our attempt at splitting up a painfully long trip. I will attempt a few posts while on the road, for those of you who don’t mind two topics that can be tedious for some: babies and other people’s holidays. If you stick with me, I’ll be sure to make some mention of food!
I am currently killing time in a Hong Kong airport lounge while the aircon blasts overhead and I watch a woman chase her exhausted little boy around in circles. She has been doing this for the last hour. I don’t judge…it might be me someday. Mine is currently asleep in his nifty travel stroller (most excellent expensive baby purchase besides the neverending purchasing of Italian baby biscuits aka crack that this baby frighteningly addicted to) with the papa stretched out across on the three lounge chairs. At about 12.20 a.m. we’ll have to wake him to board our flight. This does not please me.
Besides the excellent food in Hong Kong (food citation number one), we discovered that having a baby in this city is definitely a plus. If you don’t mind having people wanting to hold and photograph your baby, and then carry on like banshees around them, you’re in for smiles, helpers and secret lifts at every corner. The kindness of people towards this baby and in turn, us, was overwhelming lovely and the absolute best thing about this stopover.
However, there were some not-so-great things that will forever make us shudder.
#1. Purchasing flights that were super cheap but neglecting to check departure, arrival and connection times, and just times in general. We landed in Hong Kong at 10 p.m. local time (12 a.m. Melbourne time), caught two trains and then hauled three suitcases and Baby G in his stroller up six flights of stationary escalators, finally settling him at 12.30 a.m. He was, as the papa says, an upsetty spaghetti.
#2. Taking Baby G to the famous sound of lights show on the harbour, after his bedtime, because we thought he would just happily fall asleep in the pram at the right time. His screams could be heard over the tacky score and echoed through the crowds as we made our escape. Italian crack biscuits did not cut it this time.
#3. Venturing to Lantau Island to take the 25- minute cable car ride, one of the longest in the world, to see the mammoth Tian Tan Buddha, who sits happily atop a lushly foliaged mountain and besides the fakest ‘cultural village’ we have had the pleasure of visiting. I just love a Buddha theme park. So did Baby G, who was so sad to leave he screamed bloody murder all the way down to terra firma. My absolute worst-case scenario when organising to take these boys to the Buddha, being stuck in a cable car on a searing hot day with three judgy people staring at me while trying to calm my child, came scarily true. Although we do have a beautiful professional family photo set in a classy Buddha frame taken just before things went south. Memories that will last forever.
#4. Eating dinner two nights in a row a la toilette. After the sound of lights experience, we decided the Hong Kong nightlife was not ours to be had. The Italian ventured out two nights in a row to seedy places I sent him to for local delights. While Baby G slept we camped out in the bathroom eating world-class spicy brisket noodles and dim sum at the bathroom sink amidst the toothpaste stains and drying baby paraphernalia. Each time the Italian tiptoed in from fetching food for his ‘woo-man’, he looked a little grey and shakey. Once safely in the bathroom out of earshot of Baby G, he regaled me with his dramatic tales of being barked at in Cantonese from the minute he stepped into the dubious cash-only places to which I’d sent him, given no time to deliberate over menus and laughed at when asking for takeaway. For a person also terrified of stepping into tiny ramen bars when we were in Japan, he showed great pride in delivering me the fruits of his terror this time around. The best was when he offered me his spot on the toilet to eat my noodles instead of the rim of the bath. Such a gentleman!
#5. Breakfast-buffeting with a food-crazed baby who was also always ready for his morning nap at the same time, was certainly a electrifying way to start the day. With a cracker in one hand and bread in the other, Baby G was wooed each morning by the lovely breakfast waitress, Carmen, who told him to come back to Hong Kong when he was 18 on their parting. Each morning we left a congealed mess of congee, porridge, omelette, watermelon and crackers for Carmen to clean. But for her Baby G, no mess was too great. Without fail, the Italian would exclaim each day, ‘this baby is a bottomless pit’, with an accent that makes everything sound theatrical. That he is developing a palette for international flavours makes me happy. That he eats most of my food, a little less.
And now we are away to Milano, a city of creamy carbs, high fashion and Nonna. The service staff tell us the flight is full, and some poor person will be sitting next to us with nowhere else to be seated. We have a box of Italian crack biscuits and 12 long hours ahead of us. It is all in the hands of La Madonna now. Until next time! xx