Trolling my little brother…

My little brother will be visiting me at the end of the month, it will be his time leaving South Africa and his first long distance flight. The poor guy is a little nervous as it is his first time and also because he is a self proclaimed nervous flyer.

He booked his flight via Kenyan Airways and I could not resist the opportunity to troll him. So I wrote the following “article” and posted it to our family whatsApp group, pretending that it was written by a writer for the New Yorker.

Hahahaha read the following article by Menno Hermes from the New Yorker  🤣😂😂:

My flight on Kenyan Airways was exciting to say the least, from faulty air compressors to spoilt chicken served from paint cans, Kenyan Airways certainly kept me on my toes.

My flight from Cape Town to Dubai via Nairobi was scheduled to last twelve hours with a quick stopover in Nairobi, this was not the case as I ended up arriving in Dubai three days later, after spending no less than thirty-two hours in the air and another thirty something hours in Nairobi.

The first warning sign was the price, flights are like tattoos, be weary if when they cost almost $200 less than the nearest competition. If this is the case one has to ask oneself why and even more importantly, how?

Both of these questions were swiftly answered minutes after checking in to the flight.

Most airports provide a shuttle service if one’s terminal is located a certain distance away from the check in counter but not Kenyan Airways, we were put on what in South Africa they call a “local taxi”, a decrepit vehicle running on mercy alone, and once at the airplane we were each expected to pay a couple of dollars for this “service”.

The taxi driver’s driving had my stomach turning, and I had not even set foot in an airplane.

From the outside, the airplane looked no different to any other major airline, the green and red logo was actually comforting but upon entering the plane, I knew that this was not going to be like any other flight I had taken before.

Normally the Boeing 737 is able to seat six people per row with the isle in the middle but on this particular flight, they managed to squeeze in an additional two seats per row, increasing the seating capacity from six to eight. It has to be noted that when selecting my seat, it did not reflect this overloaded seating arrangement, which in turn, led to people standing around confused, not knowing on which seat to sit.

Not unlike in the “taxi” to the airplane, an air host started whistling and shouting directions, slowly ushering passengers to their seats, it was amazing how proficient he was, especially since in his left hand he was mercilessly gripping a living chicken.

Once everyone was seated instead of being given the usual safety instructions, we were immediately asked to fasten our seatbelts as the seatbelt light did not work, in fact the only indication that we were taking off was the engines roaring to life and the airplane starting to slowly inch forward.

In a matter of seconds, we were building up speed and takeoff had commenced, in that moment the air compressors gave out, causing all the oxygen masks to fall from their overhead storage, immediately causing airplane wide panic and anxiety.

The passengers erupted in cries and panic as we were unsure whether we were taking off or plummeting back to earth. With that said, in a minute or two the atmosphere subsided as we had completed takeoff and were safely at a climbing altitude.

All things considered the takeoff was very smooth and once in the air the passengers seemed to calm down and the air hostess assisted people with storing their air compressors again.

Just when I thought that my travel experience was about to normalise, the air hosts started hawking products, each sold an array of crisps, beers, soft drinks and chocolates and they all seemed to compete with each other, shouting out prices, specials, combinations and products names.

I bought a Black Label and a pack of crisps, retailing for ten dollars, daylight robbery by any standard but after haggling with several air hosts, this was the lowest anyone would go.

Watching people haggling and bargaining certainly made up for the lack of inflight entertainment, where the small screen normally is, there was an ash tray, confirming my suspicion that this roaring beast comes straight out of the seventies.

The additional seats made the seating arrangement uncomfortable to say the least, I was in the unfortunate disposition to be squeezed in between an American bodybuilder who considered the use of the arm rest as his sole right and an African woman who probably had flown Kenyan Airways before thus bringing her own KFC family bucket.

The faint smell of chicken and gasoline permeated through the airplane as an air hostess pushed a trolley with a large drum, plates and cutlery through the isle. The old joke regarding airplane food is that the air hostess would shout “beef” or “chicken” but in this case it was chicken or nothing.

I opted to try the chicken as my diet of beer and crisps were not going to sustain me for another seven hours, I would greatly regret this decision especially upon finding out that the only working lavatory did not have a working lock.

The boiled chicken was bland, cold and tasted slightly of paint which was expected as the drum from which it was served very closely resembled a large fifty litre paint can but there was no way to definitely confirm this suspicion as the sides were blackened from cooking over an open flame.

I munched half way through a chicken leg and to my horror discovered that it was in fact still raw, to the disgust of my neighbouring passengers I choked up a bit of chicken, who both were wise enough to refrain from the onboard meal. I immediately ceased eating but the effect of the salmonella seemed to be instant, I could immediately hear and feel my stomach bubbling as it attempted to digest the partially cooked chicken.

Incidentally at this time the turbulence also started, and this was not your run of the mill regular rain storm turbulence, if this was an earthquake it would have registered an 9.5 on the richer scale.

Evidently there was no need for an seat belt light as everybody immediately buckled up when the airplane started plummeting, ascending and then plummeting some more.

Upon looking out past Mr. America out the window, I realised the absence of any clouds whatsoever, and this made the entire situation all the more alarming.

Three nights and counting…

Sunday night, Monday night and Tuesday night, this is all that I have left before leaving for Amsterdam on Wednesday… Or at least so I hope.

I was actually planning on leaving Hong Kong a few days ago, which would have allowed me to spend Christmas in Muiden, a small city outside Amsterdam, with my girlfriend and her family in their super cosy family home.

Unfortunately my dreams of pyjamas, cuddles, Christmas treats and hot chocolate was stopped dead in their tracks before they could ever realise due to a delayed visa.

Actually it was not delayed at all, in fact it was processed in record time but in this case record time was just not fast enough.

About one month ago I was hired by Beerwulf (the lead online craft and speciality beer retailer in Europe)  as a senior frontend developer, this was amazing news.

The process would most likely have been a breeze had, I been an European citizen, but due to my South African heritage, Beerwulf had to sponsor me with a higher skilled working visa and this naturally takes some time.

The process was started a few days after I signed my employment contract and then it took two weeks for the Dutch government to grant me my work Visa. Once granted by them, I also had to follow several steps to get the process going on my side.

I immediately started with process. The first thing that I needed to do was to apply for an appointment at the Dutch Consul in Hong Kong via their online scheduling system and to my horror, the earliest appointment was for the 31st of January 2018! Off course this was out of the question as I had been planning to start my new employment, bright eyed and bushy tailed, no later than the 2nd of January.

I immediately called the Dutch consul and after several conversations, emails and a lot of pleading, I was granted an appointment 09:00AM the next morning, this was Monday, a week before Christmas.

The following morning I was there with all my documentation, passport photos and  the pleading eyes required to get the necessary assistance. In my heart I knew it would be a stretch, I mean just the fact that I was already granted an earlier appointment was already a stretch but alas, upon leaving the Dutch Consul after handing in my completed paperwork, I gave Tracy one more teary eyed look and mumbled something about Christmas alone in Hong Kong. This would surely do the trick, I naively thought.

The big thing is that they need ones passport which I handed in my passport at Tuesday 09:00AM, it then had to be shipped to the back office in Beijing, there it had to be approved, processed, examined, fraud checked and then shipped back to Hong Kong and in order for me to be in the Netherlands for Christmas, this had to happen before Friday, so like I said, “This would do the trick, I naively thought”.

After handing in my passport, I called the Dutch Consul several times over the following days, even my girlfriend called them trying to speed up the process. On Friday they informed us that my passport has been mailed back to Hong Kong but it would not be here before Christmas 😦

In defence of the Dutch Consul, they were always super helpful and super friendly but unfortunately all our calls, tears and prayers (yes we did pray) did not increase the speed at which the government official graced the pages of my passport with their tired stamps.

Hence this post and hence me still being in Hong Kong for Christmas.

So is it disappointing to still be here?

Well I did have my hopes up about spending Christmas with my girlfriend and her family and about making the big move to Amsterdam (I am packed and can be at the airport in 45 minutes) but actually it is ok… I have been invited by my (ex) manager from Palo-IT to spend Christmas with her and some friends, which I am really looking forward to and I also have time to say farewell to Hong Kong and all that goes with it.

It can be easy to forget but Hong Kong has been great and it has also been great to me and it will stay in my heart forever. ❤