Getting to Hanoi. It was no mean feat.

On Saturday the 6th of January I spent my final hours in Joburg trying to finish packing up my flat before my tenant moved in on Sunday. Needless to say that in spite of weeks of packing, clearing and just throwing things away, there were still a whole bunch of things I hadn’t managed to get to, not least of which included the broken toilet seat, the blown TV which was still mounted on the wall and the broken fridge door handle. All things which I could and had been living with for months (lazy) but could not subject a new tenant to.

I was also still trying to pack my suitcase for my four and a half month foray to Vietnam to teach English. At one point I found myself just sitting on the floor in front of my suitcase with very little idea of where to start or what to do next.

Well, needless to say I didn’t finish everything that needed to be done in the house before I left (thanks mum for picking up the slack) and instead ended up throwing everything that would fit into my suitcase, closing it and hoping for the best.

Bear in mind that it was also 33 degrees celsius in Joburg on Saturday. Fun times.

So off I went to my folks’ place to have a last lunch and a shower so that I could shed my sticky clothes from the morning and don some fresh clothes to take me through to Hanoi.

Little did I know…

We jumped in the car to head for the airport, via my flat one last time because I’d forgotten to pack a swimming costume (and I’m not a UK size 10 which is about the biggest size of anything you can buy in Vietnam) and I was definitely planning on heading to the beach once the weather warmed up. As we were about half way to the airport I suddenly remembered that someone had posted on Facebook just that morning that their SAA flight had been delayed and they’d missed their connection and were basically wishing me luck with my impending SAA flight. I popped onto Google to check My Flights and, behold, my SAA flight from Joburg to Hong Kong was three hours delayed. Joy. Mom wanted to turn around and go home. At that point I just wanted to get to the airport, check in and get on with it, which we did.

When I went to check in I asked the guy at the check in counter what the delay was all about. Answer “Temperature”. So I asked him if it was too hot and he said yes, and I then asked him what the temperature was in Hong  Kong which he didn’t seem to have an answer for. I, along with everyone else I’ve spoken to since assumed he meant that it was too hot for the plane to land in Hong Kong. Sounds ridiculous right? Right. Anyway, I explained that because of the delay I was already going to miss my connecting flight as I’d specifically chosen this flight path because it had a short layover, and I was redirected to the SAA counter in the airport.

The ladies there were absolutely lovely, helpful and reassuring, and as it turns, totally full of shit. I was assured that while they couldn’t re-book my connection then, due to the fact that the temperature was a factor and the three hour delay could potentially turn into a longer one, they would start re-booking connections the moment the plane actually left the ground in Joburg so that when we arrived the SAA staff there would be able to greet us an re-direct us to our relevant connections. I questioned this as it seemed a little unusual to me but they told me that this had been happening all week and that they had been re-booking connections for everyone on each delayed flight as soon as the plane took off. And that there would be no need to collect my luggage in Hong Kong because as soon as they had re-booked the connection, someone would re-tag my suitcase and re-route it to Vietnam on the correct flight. Hah!

Off I went to go and have a drink with my folks (at a restaurant which wasn’t air conditioned), went through security etc and headed to the SLOW lounge (which was not air conditioned), because THREE hours still. I charged my watch, had a couple of glasses of wine, ate some food and checked Facebook, as you do, and then I headed off to my boarding gate (not. Air-conditioned.). Once happily seated on the plane (not air conditioned) we sat and waited, as you do for everyone to board. Somehow, apparently, there were several passengers who were late so we had to continue to wait for them. Half an hour passed and then it seemed as if everyone was on board. Next thing we’re told is that someone APPARENTLY managed to check their luggage in with an expired passport and then wasn’t allowed through security so they then had to go into the hold and find his luggage so they could dump it.  Another 45 minutes has passed and we’re now almost 4 hours delayed. “Just as well they didn’t re-book my connection before the plane took off otherwise I might have missed that one too” I think to myself, all grateful and stuff.

To be continued…


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