back to article Database man flown to Hong Kong to install forgotten patch spends week in pub

Welcome again to On-Call, our Friday folly in which readers share stories of their professional adventures. This week, we bring you the tale of reader “Kelly” who encountered a previous On-Call titled Outsourcer didn't press ON switch, so Reg reader flew 15 hours to do the job. “I see you that story,” wrote Kelly, “and raise …

  1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge
    Pint

    Pointless, yes, but there are worse places to spend a week in on the firm's time...

    Okay, pub o'clock in about 7 hours and counting. Have a nice weekend, everybody!

    1. boltar Silver badge

      "Pointless, yes, but there are worse places to spend a week in on the firm's time..."

      Depends on whether you have a life at home or not. If my firm gave me a days notice to fly to HK for a week I'd tell them where to shove it and give them vaseline to help.

      1. rhydian

        So many downvotes for what is a perfectly reasonable point.

        I'm a single chap with no kids, so a week in HK would probably be fine with me

        But for someone married/with kids, who can't just pootle off for no good reason? I can see how they'd be nonplussed

        1. boltar Silver badge

          "But for someone married/with kids, who can't just pootle off for no good reason? I can see how they'd be nonplussed"

          Exactly. I have a kid who I have to look after in the evenings. I can't just clear off with a days notice and expect my other half to cover. When the people who downvoted me finally get out of short trousers they might understand the issues about having a family and the accompanying responsibilities that outweigh any job requirements.

          1. sandwich

            Have an up vote for demonstrating family commitment.

          2. future research

            Exactly. I have a kid who I have to look after in the evenings. I can't just clear off with a days notice and expect my other half to cover. When the people who downvoted me finally get out of short trousers they might understand the issues about having a family and the accompanying responsibilities that outweigh any job requirements.

            I agree, I have a wife and kids the I love. They are more important to me than being a slave to someone else.

          3. Mark 85 Silver badge

            There are way too many people in this world to think "live to work" is the way things should be. If you're not available 24/7, they just can't understand why. As a sidenote, most of them seem to be in middle manglement for some reason.

            The "work to live" attitude is mentally healthier, for certain. When I was working, I kept the attitude that "I was looking for a job when I found this one." along with "work to live" and held me in good stead for most of my working career.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              "There are way too many people in this world to think "live to work" is the way things should be. If you're not available 24/7, they just can't understand why"

              They're the sort of people who don't have much of an existence to speak of outside work. Their job defines them, their self worth is linked to it and their life revolves around it. They can't really comprehend the fact that other people arn't the same as them and prioritise other things above the office and their job is simply something they have to do to earn a living.

              1. VBF

                I agree 100% - it should be the "Life-Work Balance", NOT the other way around! Far too many people seem to have lost site of that.

                Having said that, as a single fellow, I'd love to be given a week in SE Asia at company expense - what jolly fun!

          4. Alan Brown Silver badge

            " I can't just clear off with a days notice and expect my other half to cover"

            I wouldn't expect you to. Paying someone to do _that_ job is part of the expenses you should be demanding.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              " Paying someone to do _that_ job is part of the expenses you should be demanding."

              And finding such a trusted person at a day's notice is something you think you could achieve?

              In real life that only works if grandparents live close at hand. (Grandfather here.)

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        @boltar

        Currently the votes on your comment are 9 to 5. Coincidence? I think not.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "If my firm gave me a days notice to fly to HK for a week"

        I'd be demanding business-class seats and an appropriate travel allowance to make up for the disruption to family life.

        This kind of troubleshooting job is charged out at upwards of $5k/day so you have plenty of leeway to dig your toes in.

      4. John Tserkezis

        "Depends on whether you have a life at home or not."

        We were told on a Friday afternoon, that we were to fly out that Saturday morning to the other side of the country (6-7 hour flight one way with a changeover inbetween).

        Then again, nether of us had a life at the time, and it was too late in the day to formulate an excuse...

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Putting family first over career that won't thank you, I totally agree.

          Worrying about downvotes on Register, not so much.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @boltar As a boss, I completely agree with you.

        I had an argument with my business partner this morning as they wanted to ask one of our consultants to work on the weekend because the client wanted out of hours training.

        My argument that "he has a wife & kids & the weekend is family time." won out so we pushed back to the client & they understood so rescheduled for a workday. Sure it might lose us business, but that's our fault for not having enough staff to cover without overtime. It gains us respect with our employees which is (in my opinion) more valuable in the long run.

        Clients are easy to find (relatively), good & loyal staff are not.

  2. Alexander J. Martin
    Pint

    Off Topic

    This is very off topic, but the phrase McAirport reminds of Will Self's cracking review of Aerotropolis. Enjoyable for the writing and thought, rather than the anecdotes, for which I'll stick to On-Call. Cheers for sharing Kelly!

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Off Topic

      Thanks for the link: excellent read.

  3. Roq D. Kasba

    Days before laser pointers

    I could imagine the terror factor being at least squared or possibly cubed with the now ubiquitous powerful laser pointers.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Days before laser pointers

      Dunno that means you now have a blinded pilot flying a 747 at the same height as your apartment.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Days before laser pointers

        "Dunno that means you now have a blinded pilot flying a 747 at the same height as your apartment."

        Probably not a consideration for the hard of thinking.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Days before laser pointers @Dr Syntax

          Oh I dunno would be quite a good demonstration, if they were too thick to see that, then they will probably die in some sort of stupidity related accident thats almost an achievment in itself.

          I believe it's what's known as a self correcting problem.

      2. Zork-1
        Pint

        Re: Days before laser pointers

        A pilot once joked that he closed his eyes when trying to land at Kai Tak because he was afraid of hitting something :) So laser pointers wouldn't have affected him.

        Incidentally, I am at my customer's site in HK right now, reading all the comments because I have completed the new software installation in 1/5th of the scheduled time - I had prepared the system remotely beforehand, just a matter of switching over and performing some tests.

        Almost time to go ... to look at what new shiny hardware they have at Sham Shui Po. Then a beer or 2 at Lang Kwai Fong.

  4. Lee D Silver badge

    A day's wages for walking in, pressing Enter, then leaving.

    It was a BIOS "Press Enter to Continue... " (no fault present, just an option in the BIOS to do that for some silly reason), but they didn't bother to turn the screen on before telling me that their "network was down" and I "had to come over immediately" and "they'd pay me a full day and call-out to fix it and compensate the customer I was actually scheduled to be with that day".

    The office staff had plugged in a heater, blown the fuse, the server was on UPS and shut itself down, but on boot-up had a BIOS message setting to "Press Enter to Continue..." and nobody bothered to look.

    Found the still-warm heater unplugged and hidden under the desks, in a room that we'd said not to plug anything in.

    I was home by 8:45am. And I'd hung around to find the heater, and make sure it booted properly and didn't need to chkdsk.

    1. Bodge99

      Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

      Not on the scale of flying a measurable percentage around the world..

      I once had to drive from 20 miles north of Newcastle (the Geordie version) down to Cardiff on a Sunday morning to plug in a brand new desktop PC. Specifically to fully push the kettle plug into the psu, an extra 10mm or so.

      The "custard" was the head of IT for a "quite large" company.

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

        Back in the 90s I had to drive from London to a brewery in Burton to install an RS/6000. When I got there it turned out they didn't want it installed "just yet" but to just leave it on a desk in the machine room. Fine, I drove home. Luckily someone else got the inevitable call a few days later to go back and actually set it up. What a bunch of muppets.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

          "Fine, I drove home."

          Right away? From a brewery?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

            Depends. If it was Bass - well they say a Shandy Bass is a waste of good lemonade.

          2. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

            "Right away? From a brewery?"

            30 mins in Burton was enough, beer or no beer :)

          3. FIA

            Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

            Fine, I drove home."

            Right away? From a brewery?

            He had to be quick or they'd notice the car bottoming out and an odd metalic clanking from the boot.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA @Boltar

          Going anonymous for safety thoguh I doubt it's really needed.

          Did you work for a company based in Watford ? If so I think I drove up there some time later to build it, to find the MKSYSB tape they had was corrupt.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA @Boltar

            "Did you work for a company based in Watford ?"

            I was indeed working for a now long defunct company in watford at the time. :o)

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

        An old story, from early on in my career...

        An academic buys a cheap dot-matrix printer from Morgan Computer, and complains it won't print.

        The Boss-man says "Sorry, we didn't supply it so you'll have to have to talk to Morgan or the manufacturer".

        After much blustering by the academic, the manufacturer sends out someone to take a look at it.

        The service engineer rummages through the packaging, pulls out the ribbon, and says "It does help if you fit this" before doing a test print.

        The call-out fee was more than the price of the printer - and the engineer had to make a 100-mile round trip, just to fit a ribbon.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

          "Morgan Computer"

          Fond memories. And before that, Morgan Camera. Lots of Exakta bits in the side window.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not quite these distances, but still a PITA

        you forgot to put the words "fecking stupid" in front of IT

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Happy

      You had to reboot the heater! I said this Internet of things was going to be a disaster.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      "And I'd hung around to find the heater, and make sure it booted properly and didn't need to chkdsk."

      No heater has received such a care before. Are you secretly preparing for Rise of the Heaters?

      /beer.jpg/

  5. Stuart Castle

    A friend of mine used to spend most of his working life flying to different conferences to present papers. In fact, even now, his budget for travel is greater than his annual salary, which, as he is a Doctor (although not a medical or surgical one), and a world renowned expert in his field, is high.

    Anyhow, I am starting to veer off topic.. He has flown to virtually every country, and probably to virtually every major airport is the point I am making. He loves flying, but Kai Tak used to terrify him. Every time he landed there, he apparently felt like the plane was about to crash, whether into a local building or the water.

    I've never flown there, but I like to think it's actually a tribute to the pilots of the planes (and the various staff in the control tower) that there were not many serious accidents there.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Thanks to eclipse-chasers I missed the opportunity to land at Kai Tak via the, um, more scenic route. After we were finally released from the holding pattern out at sea, after nightfall, we came in over the harbour to land. I still have a clear memory of watching as the starboard wingtip running light gently sank below the level of the mast-top warning lights on the nearby yachts.

  6. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Ahh the late lamented Kai Tak. Terrified the first time I flew in, doubly so when I watched aircraft on approach from the ground. Subsequently held on to a G&T for approaches. Not a terrible safety record, but I've never spoken to a pilot who flew in and out though.a

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Ahh the late lamented Kai Tak. Terrified the first time I flew in

      The first time I flew in I wasn't too bothered, having been well warned about it by a friend from HK. Then the same flight the next day overshot, went into the harbour and everybody drowned. Second time I flew in, definitely not so blasé.

      1. Trevor Marshall

        Never flew there for real, but worked with a lot of flight simulators (big boxy jobs on hydraulics) that included Kai Tak as an airport and I almost perfected landing on Rwy 13. Aim at the chequerboard painted on the hill and turn sharp right when you're over the middle marker. Kind of.

        1. The March Hare

          KaiTak simulator

          Once flew a large military transport simulator into Kai Tak - literally! the sim staff red handled 3&4 on approach (it was late on a Friday and they wanted to go home) and I totalled about 4 blocks of flats

          Even though I knew it was a sim it still made me go half-crown sixpence...

      2. Ol'Peculier

        If it's the flight I'm thinking from a friend of mine was on a break from ATC when it happened. There were injuries, but no deaths.

      3. Lazar

        You've not really landed at Kai Tak Airport until you landed at Kai Tak Airport with crosswinds, in heavy rain...

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Reminds me somewhat of landing in San Diego (California). Drop down over the hills and between the buildings on either side of the flight path. A bit tense but in a crosswind it's a sphincter clencher.

          1. Mikel

            Indeed. Had me thinking of a particular landing on Halsey Field at Coronado, CA. Didn't know they let civilian pilots do that sort of thing.

            San Diego Naval Supply Center NIA

            https://goo.gl/maps/hQqbA3VAZyC2

      4. Ian Tunnacliffe

        When exactly was this alleged incident? The only overrun accident to a civilian airliner that I can find in the records was in 1988 when a CAAC Trident left the runway laterally in bad weather and killed 7 out of 89 on board. Other than that, the US military dumped a Hercules into the harbour some time in the 1960s with over 50 fatalities. And that's about it for Kai Tak. Maybe you were at some other Asian downtown airport?

        For the record Kai Tak was always a blast to land at. And the double decker bus into town just added to the charm. The new airport (where I am headed in 2 hours time) is perfectly fine and rather efficient but I will never get excited about flying in there.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          The only overrun accident to a civilian airliner that I can find in the records was in 1988 when a CAAC Trident left the runway laterally in bad weather and killed 7 out of 89 on board.

          That was it. I misremembered the death toll - it was 28 years ago. CAAC was an interesting airline. :-)

      5. Kelli

        ----- The first time I flew in I wasn't too bothered, having been well warned about it by a friend from HK. Then the same flight the next day overshot, went into the harbour and everybody drowned. Second time I flew in, definitely not so blasé. ----

        What accident would that have been http://aviation-safety.net/database/airport/airport.php?id=HKG1

    3. AB_Canuck

      Kai Tak

      While living in HK in 1990 I had the opportunity to chat with a pilot about the landing procedures. Aside from the special training required he indicated the flight path was between buildings and included a very big "turn here" sign. Good times.

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Kai Tak

        There is a hoary old tale about someone mistakenly landing a 747 at RAF Northolt instead of Heathrow during heavy fog. Apparently the pilot mistook a gasometer near Northolt for the Southall gasometer (which was used as a visual reference by pilots landing at Heathrow).

        Since then the Southall gasometer has had the letters LHR and a big arrow painted on top of it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Northolt

          The version of the story which I heard was that after this landing the Northolt gasometer had NO painted on it and all the locals believed that the Southall one had YES painted on it.

  7. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

    Seems like a waste. Hong Kong was (1980s), and still is, such an interesting place.

    1. Kobus Botes
      Pint

      Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

      @JeffyPoooh

      "...such an interesting place."*

      My late father-in-law worked at the Post Office in the sixties and seventies in Cape Town. According to him one of his colleagues were sent to sort out a problem with the microwave link (telephone) in a little place called Garies, which really is in the middle of nowhere (-30.567357, 17.988452, if you are interested).

      He drove out on a Sunday, so that he could get to work early on the Monday morning, and fixed the problem early on in the morning. Once he was done he called his boss to find out if there was not perhaps anything else to attend to, since he was already there in any case, so his boss told him to sit tight and monitor the original problem, to make sure that it was fixed.

      A week later he called his boss to find out whether he should get back to the office, only to be told not to call again, but to stay there until his boss told him to come back.

      Three weeks later, when his boss handed out pay-packets, he wanted to know whether anyone knew what had happened to this guy, only to be told that he was still propping up the bar and playing darts and pool on S&T. Seems that the boss had completely forgotten about recalling him.

      * Unless you are a photographer, there really is not much else to do.

      ---------> We're having a braai, with me doing the honours!

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

        @KB. Interesting story.

        "...not much else to do." ...in HK?

        I've been to HK about a dozen times starting in the 80s (the classic 747-with-laundry landing, perfect window seat). First time, stayed for two weeks, in a cheap room at the (in)famous Chungking Mansions; an adventure in itself.

        When passing through, we always book at least a couple of full days in HK. We've NEVER been bored, and we've barely scratched the surface. A daytrip to Macau via hydrofoil or fastcat is a nice distraction if you're bored.

        I'm looking forward to retirement (knock on wood) so we can enjoy much longer, multi-month, blocks of time in Asia, with plenty of lengthy stopovers in HK. Other than Lantau (new airport, Cable Car & Buddha), we've not even touched the outlying areas of HK yet. There's months of HK left on our To Do list.

        I'll grant you that, for example, London UK is higher up on The List. But HK is jostling position with NYC, arguably Top 5 and indisputably Top 10.

        Cheers.

        1. Ol'Peculier

          Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

          A daytrip to Macau via hydrofoil or fastcat is a nice distraction if you're bored.

          They are building a bridge from Lantau to Macau if you don't have sea legs as well.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

            A bridge? But that would spoil the fun of spending an hour on a bouncing hydrofoil in a near-windowless passenger area, staring at a featureless grey plastic bulkhead from a seat that smells faintly of someone else's vomit.

            1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

              "...an hour on a bouncing hydrofoil..."

              In 2013, we ended up on a diesel-powered Catamaran from 'Kowloon Side', instead of the more exciting turbine-powered Hydrofoil from 'Hong Kong Side'. I was a bit disappointed, but I cheered up a bit when we slowly overtook one of the Hydrofoils. A solid 80 kmh. Smooth rides.

              Our Tour Guide (/van driver) for the half-day ('Tony', excellent!) in Macau recommended that next time we drop by Macau, we should make it several days, not just a day-trip. I agree. More time for gobbling Portuguese Egg Tarts.

          2. Lazar

            Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

            Ah yes, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

            Don't expect to be travelling on that anytime soon. It's start date has been pushed back a year and it definitely won't be the last of the delays.

        2. Lazar

          Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

          Unfortunately Hong Kong is an altogether different place compared to the 80's, 90's and even the 00's.

          If you been reading the news in the past few years, you'll have seen HK turn from a tourist location for different countries to a tourist location catering only for Mainland (China) tourists.

          There has been so many setbacks since the handover that it's almost an entirely different place. The streets are filled with "licensed" pharmacies and expensive branded shops. And each and every one of them are filled by Chinese tourists.

          And that's not mentioning the political climate, you are now either Pro China or Anti China. There is apparently no middle ground anymore. Freedom of Press has been eroded, nearly everything decision that the government makes is not for the HK people but for the benefit of China.

          You can't even post messages on-line about HK Independence lest you want the Police to come knocking at your door.

          It's a sad fact, but Hong Kong is not what it once was. It's still a good place to visit but be prepared to see a lot of Mainland tourists with next to no manners wherever you are.

          1. Dapprman

            Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

            Lazar is not joking about just how much it's changed from a tourist perspective. Been there 6 or 7 times now, last time was a couple of years back, first time in 10. TST has lost virtually all of it's charm as much of lower Nathan Road is now brand new shiny shopping centres full of designer goods, and as for the old port authority building .....

            Still love the place, but much of the old neon is now gone and also a certain amount of the character.

            (oh and as I discovered on my previous trip in ~2006, you can't guaranty a restaurant being any good any more due to lots of Chinese eating there - could be mainlander tourists - was caught out once).

            1. Triggerfish

              Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

              Went to Barra in the Hebrides for a survey two hour job their airport is um interesting it's on a beach and you can only land when the tides out, winter storms left us stuck there for four days. The first night in I think the only pub on the island started off with us being introduced to the only protestant on the island by the other locals who were obviously bored with just seeing each other for god knows how long. My boss at the time was also happily making quite a lot of money from the contract we had licence to use the company card for booze, it got a bit messy.

              Was all in all a rather good tour of Scotland turning up at remote places where they see tourists in the summer and just each other in the winter you get really welcomed (it may have helped I was also working with a rather attractive female architect). At one hotel near a loch somewhere, the place was being run / caretaken by two brothers who were back from uni, while the rest of their family went on holiday. I woke up stretched out on the bar and vaguely remember abandoning the architect in the corridor later as she laid out on floor with the contents of her handbag around her trying to find her keys.

          2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

            Almost EVERYWHERE ON EARTH is "...an altogether different place compared to the 80's, 90's and even the 00's."

            Everywhere changes. HK is a city, not a museum.

            That said, the HK Star Ferry seems to be absolutely and perfectly immutable.

            In 2013, we wandered into one of those vast upstairs restaurants that seems to cater to the Mainlander tourists. It was fantastic!! We had what can only be described as a banquet for five, and it was about $50 total.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "...spent the next week languishing in the Excelsior Hotel..."

            HK was second stop on my honeymoon back in 2004, had a suite in the Shangri La Kowloon side over looking Victoria Harbour, by chance we were there on National China Day so had a fab view of the fireworks! Didn't like it as much as Singapore (that was our first stop) even in 04 HK was pretty Chinese, did enjoy the horse racing at Sha Tin.

  8. Andy Non
    Meh

    Not exactly I.T. but

    a while back we had a knock on the door from a telephone line linesman who'd come to move the telephone line to our new telegraph pole. Except the new pole wasn't scheduled for being erected for another couple of months yet. For a communications company, they aren't very good at communicating.

  9. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    I'd rather be in Hong Kong

    I once flew from the UK to Trinidad to add 2 lines to a text MODBUS configuration file and then had to stick around for 4 days while the 3rd party made a meal of commissioning their system.

    Thankfully the site was only half way down the island so the hotel was quite nice. The further south you go on Trinidad the more of a shithole it is. The north has nice beaches and palm trees, the south has pitch lakes and rusted nodding donkeys. The other site out there I've visited (twice) is near the southern tip.

    Of course the entire island has a prolific murder rate.

  10. Paul Shirley

    my near miss

    Back in the 80's I had to patch a C64 game for the US, which amounted to changing 1 byte in the file. After a week the US office couldn't get it done using faxed instructions and they hauled me down to London to talk them through patching. They still couldn't get it working. That's when they decided I was going to the US to patch that single byte...

    Luckily they eventually found someone with a clue a few days later and many weeks before my passport would have arrived ;)

  11. FredTheBaddy

    "since replaced by a dull McAirport"

    A £21bn McAirport, built on an artificial island.

    Wish I had been able to fly into Kai Tak back in the day but alas I were but a boy.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: "since replaced by a dull McAirport"

      The old airport is certainly a 'lifetime memory'. Especially on a seemingly-overloaded creaking old 747 with wings that are bending more than looks reasonable.

      On the other hand, the new airport has a fantastic Cable Car to the amazing Buddha. It's a reasonable consolation prize. Don't miss it.

      1. Dapprman

        Re: "since replaced by a dull McAirport"

        If you're doing the Giant Commercial Trap, sorry Buddha, then get a ticket including the monastery restaurant as well. Was superb and even a carnivore such as myself was feeling very content and stuffed on the vegetarian food.

        On a different note - about Kai Tak - the one time I flew in to there I was really excited and had a window side seat (alas one in, not the actual window seat). The pilot announced we were on our final path and if we looked out of the windows we'd see in through people's windows, sp we all crammed to the nearest side. From my side of the plane there was a lack of noise, sure you could see buildings 10-20 feet below us, but it wasn't quite what we expected. The other side was full off oos and aahs - turns out, on our final approch route atleast, you only got the 'real' view on one side, and not mine.

        These days it's a pretty vanilla airport (actually it's a lot better than that) with a very easy and quick route in to the centre (and as a reapet visitor if you have your octopus card from a previous time it does nto expire, you just need it reenabling and possibly topping up for the MTR)

  12. Ol'Peculier
    Pint

    “the customary wait on the plane while the ground crew presumably removed all of the laundry that had been collected during the final approach from the leading edges.”

    That's left me with a tea-sprinkled keyboard! Never got the opportunity to fly into Kai Tak, much to my regret, but been into the new one a couple of times. Once I don't think I realised we'd landed until I looked to my left and saw the sea.

    A friend of mine that lives there used to go and sit on the checkerboard with a slab of beer and watch the planes coming in. You could tell the British pilots as they did the perfect turn and went in to land but he told me a story of a Japanese freight plane that came in, buggered up the turn, scarpered off and was never seen again (well, that day anyway).

    A friend of said friend was ATC and on his tea break when the plane skidded into the harbour. "Holy Shit!" ran to the tower and helpd to get everything else rerouted, apparently everything went pretty much to plan.

    Beer icon as first time I went I met friends straight from the airport to a pub in Wanchi, complete with my luggage...

  13. jason 7

    I remember several years ago...

    we were doing yet another company merger IT rollout and my boss told me and my mate that we were to go up to Cheadle for 4 days to help with the rollout there.

    "But Boss, that's not one of our branches! It's a collections branch not a claims branch!"

    He wouldn't discuss the matter, we had to go. So we did, after hiring the highest class of hire car and the best hotel in the area that we could. We usually did things on the cheap but this was so farcical we thought "what the hell!" Drove up from Norwich, booked in and went round to the branch to show our faces and get the expected response.

    "What are you pair doing here? This isn't one of your branches! Piss off!" said the guy managing this office.

    "We know! Thank you we will!"

    After that we walked straight out and spent three days from 11am till 11PM in the pub next door, drinking and eating. Was a nice little break really.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzz-snore---nudge... oh.. yea great read! :/

  15. Marcelo Rodrigues

    Paid to do... nothing! :D

    I was sent to do a server deploy. Took the plane, short 1hour 30 minutes flight, got there.

    There was no one to meet me. 4 hours later, found what happened: one director hired the job, and went on a trip. The other director was never informed of the job - and went to another city too!

    I spent 5 paid days seeing the sights. Easier job ever! :D

    1. Sureo

      Re: Paid to do... nothing! :D

      Decades ago I worked on a project featuring an IBM 3790, which made me an "expert". I was sent from Toronto to Bogota to help fix a flaky 3790, to find when I got there that a repair engineer had just fixed it, bad hard drive. (Imported machines in those days spent weeks or months in a damp customs warehouse.) I stayed for a week, enjoyed the sights, and was taken for a nice tour of the area. Bogota was a beautiful city then, if you didn't mind police with machine guns on most corners.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Paid to do... nothing! :D

        Did you, erm, sample the local produce?

      2. Obitim

        Re: Paid to do... nothing! :D

        We went there for our Honeymoon, still is a beautiful city!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eurostar Business Trip

    I was working back in London in Support few years back and my company (finance) they had no IT support in the Paris office, after dealing with "an issue" over the phone (in their broken English) for an hour or so, I explained that we would need to send/ship them a new PC, needless to say apparently this wasn't good enough so requested to my Boss that I come and fix said issue, next day I boarded the EuroStar at 5/6am was in Paris, cab to office. within seconds I realised the issue, the power cable had come loose, they kept trying to turn it on all this time without seeing a single PC under a desk (quite visible I might add) that had no power going to it.

    I sighed, I smiled, I walked out. all in all a nice day out and enjoyed the afternoon in Paris drinking wine and getting slightly pissed back on the afternoon eurostar whilst chuckling to myself how on earth people invest their money with these idiots...

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Ah, Paris

      The Sister-in-Law works for the Oz tentacle of a formerly Danish (now owned by Spaniards, I believe) agricultural machinery manufacturer. Her boss is not able to attend the annual "foreign subsidiaries" meeting in the mother country, so she gets deputised and sent along with the CFO halfway around the world in his place. During the meeting a certain volcano in Iceland goes foom! and grounds all air traffic. She got as far as Charles de Gaul airport before finding out.

      Cue frantic emails and phone calls trying to work out how to get her home. Various suggestions are made and abandoned because, basically there are half a million people in the immeadiate vicinity all trying to do the same thing. In the end the French CEO rang to say she should use his apartment in the 16th Arrondissment until further notice. Just get a taxi and show up, he'd let the caretaker know to expect her...

      Oh, and pay for anything she needed on the company credit card - the usual limits had been lifted.

      So there she was: trapped in Paris in April on the company dime. Life is tough for some.

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Ah, Paris

        "During the meeting a certain volcano in Iceland goes foom! and grounds all air traffic."

        Heh. The ever so memorable Eyjafjallajökull.

        One lovely young lady got stranded in Prague, facing a bedazzling choice of locally brewed beer. The downside of it - she only drinks wine. Would have probably traded Prague for Paris in a heartbeat.

  17. fwadman

    One of my first jobs included going to Paris every monday for client meetings. As a youngest I thought the first few times were great. This was when passport controls weren't that strong on eurostar. After a few months I discovered my passport on the kitchen counter under a pile of papers I hadn't touched for months

  18. tokyo-octopus

    I once had to fly to India to reinstall Linux on a subsidiary's server which I'd remotely diagnosed as being well and truly rooted. We tried to get someone local to do the reinstall but evidently the local DVD pirates hadn't got beyond RedHat 4 (or something equally antiquated). For various reasons I ended up spending almost two weeks in Ahmedabad, which is not only vegetarian but dry.

  19. Ynox

    A few years back I ended up in a meeting on a Thursday night where the PM said 'If this isn't fixed by tomorrow, you're flying to the customer (out in the sticks in rural Iowa - I was based in Wales at the time). Got off the call, booked a last minute ticket (full fare Economy - £1.6k or so) out there and flew out on the Sunday (so I was at the customer for Monday).

    Got to the customer on Monday morning only to hear that miraculously, the problem they had no longer existed. No one thought to tell me. Rolled back to previous version of code (this was set top box images) and replicated the issue before fixing the actual root cause - a 5 minute job.

    Trip wasn't all in vain though. Ended up going out drinking with Avril Lavigne one night in Des Moines when I was out there (I was 24 at the time - this happened in 2010) and I had a load of other stuff to get on with, so the customer kept me on site for a month.

    I still miss those days. They were a good customer - as long as we made progress they didn't tend to get too argumentative!

  20. FredBloggs61

    Flew into Kai Tak a few times as a youngster back in the 60's and 70's. Never got over the feeling that we were about to land in the water. Which if you didn't have a window seat, it most certainly looked like you were about to do.

    Once managed to get a weekend in Belfast, visiting family, as the boss needed someone to install (plugin) a printer. No one in the Belfast office would take responsibility so, as a webdev, got some quality family time at co expense... Fly out Friday morning, printer working by 10:30, Guinness with cousins by 12:00 -- happy days.

    1. Ol'Peculier

      Whilst going out with a lovely Irish lass that lived in Scotland, I always got my boss to arrange meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh on a Friday afternoon so I got free travel up to see her, happy times!

  21. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    Welly

    Wellington NZ has a fun airport too, it's got sea at both ends of the runway, so you go down between two headlands over water, and then you get land and wheels down at what feels like the same moment.

    It's also the only time that I've had the pilot been given a standing ovation after a landing.

    It can have pretty mean side winds too, landing small planes there can be interesting.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: Welly

      Small planes? Like 747s...

      I remember standing on the "observation deck" trying to smoke a cigarette as an Air New Zealand (I think) jumbo came in with its nose at what looked like 30 degrees into the crosswind...

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