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Travel Story

Loving long layovers


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A leisurely stroll back down the airport located a currency exchange, and for $10Cdn I receive a $50 HK note and a smattering of coins. Local money in my pocket completes the transition from disorientated tourist to seasoned traveller.

In a quiet spot, I took the coins out and studied them, so as not to commit the faux pas of letting staff pick out appropriate payment from my outstretched palm. I was armed, and ready for food, albeit cheap food, which turned out to be a poor choice of mircowaved noodles with the consistency of warmed plastic. But the counter girl was gracious, and provided water even though I don’t ask for it. I’m not going to starve, or dehydrate and time is marching past.

The temptation after eating was to head for my departure gate, but I stuck to my plan of creatively enjoying my time in the airport and found a map to plan my next attack.

I discovered that Hong Kong Airport was displaying the winners of a recent Design Showcase. I marvelled at shoes rendered as works of art and giggled at a kids’ keyboard with arms, legs and a head. Opposite, also featured in large plastic cases, were works of art from the Hong Kong Heritage museum. While most travellers scuttled right through the middle of this exhibit, I willfully wasted away 45 minutes staring at the varied sculptures and wondering at the artists behind these works.

In between the eating, the viewing, and the people watching, I incorporated as much walking as possible, having had the good sense to limit the weight of my carry-on luggage. The walking fills in time, loosens the legs and provides the illusion of exercise.

At the three-hour mark, I hadn’t located my departure gate yet, but it was time to eat again. My budget had room for a meal at Windows on the World, where the food is cheap, yet exceptional. The tables around me filled up with lunching airport staff and I enjoyed some of the best people watching of the layover. These are the real locals, the people who live and work here, and as they know where the best food is, I’m smug at having stumbled into the locals’ lunch spot.

My consuming-time plan succeeds and during my layover it was not until the final hour that I begin watching the clock. Instead, I enjoyed moments of calm in an exceptionally clean and well-ordered airport located in one of the most populous areas of the world. Loving long layovers may be a stretch, but I did quite enjoy my Hong Kong layover.