This week I had to take a flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, CA. This was after a several day stay in Shenzhen. On Friday night after all business was done, I checked with the hotel I was staying for the schedule for the shuttle — the Sky Limo — which I usually take for my trip to the Hong Kong airport. Once again the hotel staff informed me that I would not need any longer than a 2 hour slot to make it to the airport. My flight was at 1pm so a shuttle leaving at 9:35 am seemed like a plenty safe choice 🙂
Well, little that I know! When the shuttle did not show up at 9:35 at the Westin hotel (the Westin Nanshan) I was only slightly concerned. The concierge started apologizing and in a typical way of predicting time and schedule started telling every 5 minutes that the shuttle was 2-3 minutes away 🙂 You get the picture right….
Finally around 10am the shuttle arrived. As usual it took me to the transfer depot where we had to change to a Hong Kong licensed minivan (nothing new here). I will talk about the issue with that in a separate “How To” posting later today or tomorrow.
Once we were in the Hong Kong minivan I thought “No worries — we have plenty of time…” — Again, I may be repeating myself, but here it comes — an ominous “Little that I know”
Once at the border we saw a big queue of cars and minivans. I thought — well, that has been the case on other crossings, so I should not be worried. My opinion changed once I timed the first car in the queue in our lane — it stayed waiting to enter the inspection area for about 15min. I quickly calculated — 8 cars in front of us — if each takes 10-15minutes we are in BIG TROUBLE. At 11am we were the forth van in the queue……I asked the driver for any reason that this crossing was so slow…as I had been here (on that border crossing) previously on at least 2 occasions both Saturday crossings.
Side note: Why is Saturday crossing different? Well, because tons of Shenzhen people go to Hong Kong for the weekend to do shopping, go to Disneyland, etc.
The driver shrugged and said — “well it is just slow”. But he had a good idea — once we cross the China side of the border, I should try to talk to any Hong Kong official and see if they can let us through a special channel and reduce the wait….
Well, at 11:45 am or so (for my 1pm flight) we crossed the Chinese border. At that point I rushed out of the minivan to the Hong Kong border booths carrying a laptop with my itinerary. One of the border guard guys rushed out of a booth as I was running across a concrete expanse that was all the lanes for cars crossing the border. He managed to yell at me to stop, which I did and explained to him in Chinese that I had a really short time till my flight and after some debates inside one of the booths, he stepped out and told me to bring the van into one of the empty channels…..By 11:50am we crossed finally the Hong Kong border and the driver sped for the airport on Lantau island.
Finally, I was able to get to the airport by 12:30pm — and believe it or not was able to make the flight leaving Hong Kong at 1:05pm !!!
Next, I will share some advice for you for those situations. Stay tuned…