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Breakfast in Hong Kong inspired us to visit my missionary friend who lived at the YWCA there.

Updated: Feb 25

Our first impression of Hong Kong was from the airplane as we flew through the maze of high-rise buildings as the flight approached the landing strip. I was sure our plane brushed the laundry hanging outside the windows of the apartments we could see through the plane windows. I am sure all the passengers inhaled and held their breath until we landed at Kai Tak.

During our week on the island we had plenty of time to take in all the sights and sounds of that crowded, bustling diverse community.

Our busy lives at home were pretty hectic so the first couple of days we just stayed at our waterfront hotel, ordered room service, relaxed and enjoyed the view of all the harbour activity from our hotel room window.


We did take the junk trip to the other islands and watched our crew barter and procure some fish for lunch from another junk. This was fascinating to watch the back and forth on the pricing and quality and quantity of the fish, which was taken from a cache under the other junk and deposited in a similar cache under our junk. Our lunch was delicious and very fresh.


​ We did quite a bit of sight-seeing, but I must admit the food we consumed on that trip is what I remember most.​

My friend, Phyllis, who had been expelled from China where she was a missionary but continued her mission by working with orphanages in Hong Kong. She reminisced with me about a typical British Breakfast and invited us to have Breakfast with her if we ever came to Hong Kong.

We took advantage of a special offered by Braniff who was just starting a new service to Hong Kong.


Phyllis lived at the YWCA and offered to get us reservations there. We knew the "Y" was reputed to be the very best place to stay in Hong Kong, but the Braniff special included a different hotel. We met Phyllis at the Peninsula Hotel where she had made reservations for us to have breakfast. We had the usual rashers of British style bacon, mushrooms, fried potatoes, fried tomatoes, British Bangers, eggs, toast, butter and marmalade…..all with a lovely pot of tea.

Mushrooms, British Bacon, tomatoes, baked beans, black pudding, eggs and bangers (sausages).

The surprise of that event was the number of young Chinese men who came to our table to pay their respects to our hostess. Each one would kneel down in front of her and kiss her hand. They so very obviously had such esteem for our friend who chatted with each person in fluent Chinese. She explained to us that these young people had all been her “children” in her life as Christian Missionary and ran orphanages but was now retired.


These young “fans” kept appearing all the time we were in the Peninsula Hotel. Some of them were employees at the hotel, others were business men who had somehow heard she was there and had came to say hello. This hotel was easier for young men to access than the YWCA.

Another friend who lives in Hong Kong took us out to lunch at “Jimmy’s Kitchen” and that was the first time we had ever had “Fried Ice Cream” – and it was delicious too. We had the usual evening at the floating night club with dinner on Jumbo Kingdom, but I enjoyed the fish and chips more at one of the typically British Pubs on the Island called “The Beefeater”.

When we boarded our return Braniff flight we expected an ordinary flight with all meals,

but we did not expect the excitement that turned up about halfway through our flight.

Since we were in First Class our seats were next to the cockpit with firsthand view of what unfolded.


As we sat at the gate waiting to be called for our slot on the runway a passenger became too ill and frightened to fly and she was taken off the plane. This delayed our departure and we had to wait for another “slot”. Eventually the plane rolled away from the gate only to roll back to the gate again.


We were told there appeared to be a mechanical problem and we would have to have that checked before we could take off. No one was too perturbed at this juncture and it didn’t take too much time to find out that the “warning” was not a failure of any kind and we were “OK’d” for departure. By the time the flight was given another “slot” at the very busy airport of Kai Tak we were very late taking off.



Those of us in the first class cabin had eaten our lunch and asked our steward why the plane had turned around. The steward started telling us that “No sir, the flight is proceeding normally” BUT, we, and other passengers, were all shaking our heads because we knew the plane had turned and was descending!


The steward came back and was

quickly whipping away all the meal trays

and telling us to fasten our seat belts.

We happened to notice outside our windows that we were being escorted by two MIGS and we were definitely landing!....

but where?

 We were somewhere out over the North Pacific Ocean

between Hong Kong and Guam

in a big Orange Plane.

 

We looked out of the windows and observed hundreds of Asian looking people crowded around our plane.  One good thing we noticed – they did not look hostile or in the least big angry, merely curious – they had never seen the mult-icoloured fleet of Braniff Airlines before.

The gentleman passenger sitting across the aisle from us had a mini movie camera and he was filming the various comings and goings of the flight crew.  At one point an announcement was made asking if any passengers had any snacks or candy with them because the rear cabins had not been served a meal and there were children on board.

 

 I had a peek into the other cabins and the plane was full.  We were told that there were many refugees from Vietnam and they were all very nervous thinking they were going to be taken off the plane.  They were not, but we saw the captain leave the aircraft.

 

 Now we were getting worried.  We were even more worried when the Purser announced that while the Captain was negotiating for our release could we try to relax and have a little more patience.  They were pretty good about keeping us informed on what was going on and how we had wound up in the Phillipines. It evolved into a party atmosphere with everyone on first name basis with jokes about what version of this "hijacking" were we going to tell our families. The guy with the cine-camera said he would edit the film to show a horde of natives attacking the plane to show to his grand children.

 

 It seems that the Philippine Aviation Authority could not find any agreement with Braniff Airways giving them permission to fly in their air space.  The Captain had to contact Braniff Headquarters to make sure the agreements had been filed and could he get a copy – somehow??

 

In 1979 emails and Faxing was not anything like it is today.  He tried to get someone to call the Philippine government and tell them about the agreement.  No dice – a telephone conversation would not suffice.

  

 Eventually, the Captain did return, with all the proper authority and paperwork in hand, BUT, now we had another problem.  Braniff did not have an account set up at that aiport to bill for refuelling the aircraft.  Before we could land they had ejected all the fuel and in order to leave now we had to have fuel and the Captain did not have the wherewithal to pay for it. 

 

One of the flight attendants had a credit card that the gas company would accept so we were allowed to continue our journey.  By now we were VERY, very late and because relatives of the passengers did not know where their loved ones were, the news media and the population of the island of Guam was at the airport to welcome us back.

 

And so ended our unusual trip to Hong Kong for breakfast.

 

 

 


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