Home Opinion Hong Kong: Thump, bump, a rude awakening mid-air

Hong Kong: Thump, bump, a rude awakening mid-air


My flight to Hong Kong on Tuesday proved to be an exciting event, not that I would have wished it to be so. I was flying via Zürich with Swiss Air and set off in high spirits from London. During the first flight, I was quietly reading, minding my own business when I colossal bang knocked my head sideways. I was totally shocked, as you can imagine. It seemed that the passenger behind me had opened the overhead locker to retrieve something (no doubt of vital importance on a 75-minute journey) and a computer case crash down onto my head. 

I spent the rest of the flight on the jump seat in the galley with a bag of ice clasped to my head. The staff were wonderful. There was no obvious injury and I felt ok so I had no qualms about boarding the flight to Hong Kong. I’d treated myself and used air miles up upgrade to first class so I wasn’t about to miss that. 

  Hong Kong as you don
Hong Kong as you don’t want to see it — the ED at St. Theresa’s hospital. It’s just what you need after a 15-hour journey from London. Snapped with the Sony RX100 VI. Why do hospitals always look the same? 

Whether by coincidence or as a consequence of the shock, I began to feel a bit queasy shortly after leaving Zürich. There was a fair amount of turbulence, admittedly, but I’ve never experienced motion sickness before. Again, the staff were magnificent and offered Reisekrankheit tablets which settled me down a bit. But unfortunately I didn’t have much stomach for the fine food and wine, nor did I get much sleep despite the pyjamas and comfortable bed. I suppose there was an element of delayed shock or, perhaps, simply a coincidence. Altogether, though, this was an uninspiring experience, given the anticipation I’d lavished on the journey. Sensibly, the Swiss Air purser recommended I get myself checked on arrival in Hong Kong. 

Thus it was that I spent my first night in Hong Kong in the casualty department at St. Theresa’s Hospital. I felt perfectly well by that stage but decided to be cautious.

I don’t know what I imagined would be my first photo of Hong Kong on this trip but it certainly wasn’t a snap of the the colourful chairs in the otherwise rather charmless emergency department. It has to be said, though, it is identical to most I’ve attended in various parts of the world and the staff were efficient and helpful.

Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any damage. I’m to report back with my referral letter if I have any strange symptoms, but so far so good.

I’m still able to write and blog, as you can see. But I feel rather cheated out of what I had hoped would be a great experience. Next time I will forego my usual aisle seat and sit next to the window. It could be safer.



  1. So sorry to hear about your "incident", Mike. Hope there are no delayed reactions. As an inveterate aisle-seeker, I shall heed your warning in the future. Hope your coming days will be good.

  2. Well here’s hoping that all things are well now, and you have an excellent time. Sounds like the start to a typical Seargeant holiday, spent more hours with the kids in A&E from dumb things than I can count on, one even shut her hand in the car door and broke a finger.

    Just a shame you missed the full first class experience, try playing on the heart strings of Swiss air to get some freebies on the return journey.

    Fingers crossed the rest of the stay is uneventful.


  3. Mike , what an unfortunate experience but sounds as if you have not suffered any long term damage . You did not really need that pate de foil gras ,caviar and Krug anyway.
    Sadly what you experienced is not that rare. In my many hours of flying over 40years I have seen objects fall onto passengers from the overhead lockers quite a few times and twice blood has been drawn by the rapidly descending laptop or briefcase.

  4. Sorry to hear about that, Mike. You should certainly follow up on the incident with Swiss Air. Your report reminds me of my only trip to Hong Kong which was 10 years ago by First Class from Doha to Hong Kong. I was fine when I got there, but began to feel unwell the day after arriving. I think that it was down to something I had eaten in Hong Kong. I also felt the first tinges of what was later diagnosed as Meniere’s Disease (vertigo). I have often wondered whether the rocket ship pace of the lift in our 60 story hotel in Hong Kong had anything to do with it. I did think about having myself checked out in Hong Kong, but I recovered in time to speak at a Conference I was attending and then got into the thick of things in Hong Kong. I am sure that after a few days of taking photos and visiting camera stores you have forgotten all about the incident.

    I look forward to your reports from Hong Kong.


  5. Unexpected dangers over Switzerland! Glad to have that behind you… This did sound like it was going to be a Kai Tak type story at the outset. (Take a giant airliner 15 hours downwind , bingo fuel with no good alternate, add the daily afternoon torrential on top of one of the screwiest instrument procedures to a short runway and you will quickly accept that your old, croaky senior pilot just earned every penny of his outrageous salary slipping that damn jumbo in, saving 300 lives, every day.)

    Yes, that hospital room is indistinguishable from one here in New York. Enjoy the sights — what always struck me about HK are how interesting its natural aspects are from the air – the islands are beautiful.

  6. What an unfortunate start to your holiday. Let’s hope it doesn’t affect the rest of your trip. You haven’t mentioned the reaction of the person whose bag caused all the trouble.
    Look forward to seeing you when you get back, hopefully in one piece!

  7. Mike, so sorry to hear about your mishap. Hopefully you did not get a concussion. On my recent quick trip to Wetzlar, I flew on Air Canada outbound to Frankfurt and Swiss Air on the way back. Night and day difference in service. Air Canada was OK, but Swiss Air superb. Could not have been treated better or nicer. Air travel is not what it used to be.

    Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Hong Kong!

  8. Better luck with the rest of the trip Mike and hope there are some excellent photo opportunities to make up for the shaky outward flight. Looking forward to hearing more about the hinted new product mentioned in Macfilo’s Rumours 🙂

  9. Sorry to hear trip out was slightly tarnished Mike – but pleased you are ok. Hope that is the only negative experience and you enjoy the rest of the trip! Take care

    • Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes. I am feeling fine now and enjoying some good food. Unfortunately, after two days of fine weather it seems that the rain has settled in. Yesterday I trekked all the way to the big Buddha on Lantau island only to get stuck at the top of the cable car as a thunderstorm halted operations.

      There then followed a nightmare four-hour queue waiting for an emergency shuttle bus. Not my best experience and didn’t make it back to the hotel until 8pm after setting off at 3 pm to return. Of course I shouldn’t be surprised — that’s why I’ve previously visited HK after the end of September. I will remain optimistic!

  10. Sorry to hear about that Mike, good to hear you are recovered now though. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

    It will be interesting to see how your primes play on the CL, I have to say that I do find the 18-55 kit lens, slightly limiting, particularly indoors.

    NB: That’s what you get for travelling with the riffraff in 1st class!

  11. Hi Mike,
    You might like to visit the f 11 Leica photographic museum in Happy Valley.
    I was hoping to visit this year on my back from Wetzlar (LHSA meting)
    Unfortunately I have to come back to Sydney via Bangkok.
    Maybe a special visit to HK.
    Look after your noggin
    Philip R


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