When I arrived at Tegel airport, I finally realized that I was truly going to Hong Kong. Slowly everything was falling into place. Exchanging money, checking-in my (overweight) luggage, finding the gate... My friends surprised me once again... and one more time I don't know how to thank them for everything. When you see the beautiful hand-made posters with Chinese writings and farewell messages in different languages, receive so many little gifts, there is not much to say. A siple "thank you" is not enough <3 Saying goodbye to my family and friends was very hard and it was almost impossible to hold back tears. If one of you reads this, know that I love you.
I went to my gate that was only seperated from the rest of the airport by a glass wall, so while going thorugh the security check and following the regular procedures, taking out my laptop, etc, I was still waving, crying, smiling at my family and friends. We continued with that combination until I boarded my plane. The lady and the man and the check-in counter were incredibly nice and friendly, not only did they help me with my overweight luggage, they also seated me beside two passengers who were also flying from Berlin to Hong Kong. Unfortunately they missed their flight, so that I sat alone on the entire row. So I used the time of my first flight to calm down, collect myself and prepare myself for Hong Kong. Emotionally. The flight went well and I spend quite a while staring at the stack of letters that I was not supposed to read until I arrived in Hong Kong. I was allowed to read one that said "don't read until you board the plane". With shivering hands I opened the envelope and then a little wrapped up gift. It was ahand carved little treasure chest with a beautiful bracelet in it... Then I opened a gift bag with sweet little gifts inside (Chai! Chocolate, tissues) that were all personalized with notes. And then I stared at the two picture frames I received. Thank you... The flight went well and the food was great (Grilled chicken breast with mustard sauce, rice, sauted vegetables and plum cake). Surprised about the touch-screen on the back of the seat, the remote control and many more fancy technical equipment, I started to browse through the things Turkish Airlines technology had to offer and besides watching movies you could also listen to music. I discovered that they even had Hawaiian music, and happy like a little child, I plugged in the earphones and tried to relax. I landed in Istanbul with a twenty minute delay and first went to the wrong gate. As soon as I realized that there were no Asians waiting at that gate and the sign was not stating Hong Kong, I started to search for the gate I was supposed to be at, since my boarding card did not show me the gate number. After running through the entire airport I finally found Gate 312. The big moment when I'd would my Greek co-year Angelos and my Turkish co-year Belce had come. But none of them was there. I watd for a while, then suddenly I saw a young boy running towards me. I knew it was Angelos. SInce I was sitting behind column our meeting was quite funny. He ran to the left of the column, I ran to the other side. We kept on doing that until we finally stoppd at the same time, laughing hard, staring at each other and just shouting out "HI!!! I CANT BELIEVE IT!" After waiting for Belce for a little while and realizing that there were five minutes left until boarding, we decided to ask the airport staff to make an announcement. The young man at the counter told us to wait a bit more. Just a few minutes after that Angelos saw Belce coming and we both started to run towards her, hugging herwith excitement and continuing with our tradition to screamm "HIII! THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE". After a sweet little phone conversation with Belce's mom it was time to board the plane.
While Belce and Aneglos were seated close to each other, y seat was in the back of the plane, far from both. After asking people to switch seats with us and telling them our story, we finally ended up in the same row, side by side. The flight attendands and the Chinese passenger were very sweet and helped with carrying my heavy backpack (16kg) and lifting it up in the cabin storage. When the plane took off, we could not believe that we were truly flying to Hong Kong. Excitement, nervousness, hppiness, sadness... all these and many more emotions were overwhelming us.
The flight to Hong Kong was marvellous. We spend the first three hours talking about our subject hoices, sharing our thoughts and finding out about the smiliarities between Greek and Turkish. "Börek", a filled puff pastry in Turkish, is called "Boureki" in Greek! We felt truly pampered by Turkish airlines; at the beginning of the flight the stewards offered us Turkish delights, then we received hot towels that were smelling like roses and when we declared our happiness the steward laughed and stated that "This is just the beginning". Who needs first class tickets?! When flying with Turkish airlines you feel like a first class passenger, even if your boardcard states that you are seated in the "Economy" category. The food was delicious, once again. Stuffed eggplant in tomato sauce (Karniyarik), with Zucchini, filled grape leaves (Yaprak sarma) and Apfelstrudel. Full and tired we tried to sleep. I cannot say we were very successful, since the excitement was too overwhelming and the background noise in the airplane was too loud, but yet we managed to close our eyes for a few hours. After waking up only 2 hours were left. They passed fast. Very fast.We were singing "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands", taking pictures, staring at the beautiful boxes with sleeping masks and socks inside that were given to us and imagining to be part of a musical. And the next time we looked at the screen that was showing our alitutude and remaining time, only fifteen minutes were left until the wheels would touch Hong Kong ground. The weather was cloudy and rainy, yet the landing was spectacular since the airplane flew incredibly close to the ocean and the airport was built right beside the water.
After getting off the plane and squishing into a bus, we walked down a hallway and then realized that one of the airport staff was holding up a sign with Angelo's name. Surprised but happy we followed the lady named Tammy, that was there to assist us with our visas and our luggage. The airport was huge, and a little fast train transported us from one point to another. We kept smiling at each other, staring at the high ceiling, the Chinese writings. It was surreal. After reaching the customs and getting our passports stamped by very friendly officers it was time to pick up our suitcases. Fortunately we did not have to wait very long at the baggage claim and after lifting up all our heavy suitcases we started to walk towards the exit. I cannot describe how excited and overwhelmed we were. The moment we saw our secondyears waving with a Turkish flag, dressed up in Lederhosen and jumping up and down with the sign that was saying "Li Po Chun United World College"will never be forgotten. After rushing to them, hugging each other, staring at each other with big smiles we finally realized that we were in Hong Kong!!! I don't have the photos of our arrival and wonderful greeating at the airport yet since they were taken with my secondyear's camera, but I will upload them as soon as I can. Just keep checking the blog or my facebook.