Finnair Flies Faster!

I was going to suggest this excellent slogan to that airline and let them use it for free, until a few weeks ago.

I've flown Finnair to Norway many times over the past few years and loved it. Not only does it shave three to four hours off the normal travel time, but Helsinki Airport - through which I connect to Oslo - has some brilliant shops, where you can buy such gems as wooden Nokia mobile phones doubling as bottle openers.

But on May 16, just after midnight, my love affair with Finnair took something of a nosedive. After a slight delay before boarding, the packed-to-the-rafters plane sat on the tarmac for a while. Then another while. And then another.

The captain came on the public address system and mumbled some upbeat comments about "a short delay" and "a little while". After almost five hours of short delays I was expecting to be sent home with a large sum of compensation. But then the captain returned saying everybody who "needed fresh air" could go back into the airport. Ha!

I was finishing my second film at this point and was loath to get up. Sure enough, as soon as everyone had left their seats, the captain announced, "Oh yeah, we're leaving now, so sit down, mugs."

I got to Helsinki five hours late and consequently missed a connecting flight between Oslo and my hometown. I arrived at my final destination at 8.30pm instead of 10.55am. But hey, I got €17 (HK$149) from Finnair in compensation, so that was cool. Who wouldn't swap a day in their hometown for the price of a cinema ticket?

So my subsequent road trip got off to a late start. But all was forgiven a few days later, on a mountain on the western coast of Norway, at the remote Troll Wall, popular among paragliders and climbers of sheer rock faces. It was completely deserted because it was off-season and foggy.

Except … "Oh, there's my neighbour from Pui O", I remarked.

My travel companions B and C fell over themselves in disbelief. What are the chances of meeting my neighbour, Miss Chan, here at the Troll Wall? (Probably higher than you'd think, because, between you and I, she lives in my village but isn't exactly my "neighbour".)

Now, you're wondering: what the hell has all this got to do with the mainland? Everything. I was left to roast on that tarmac for five hours because Beijing had closed down the entire mainland airspace that day. Why? Because the Indian prime minister was visiting.