Kowloon City Stories / Contribution

My Memories of Kai Tak 2

Airport is a place full of emotional moments. Happy reunions and heart-breaking departures can happen at the same time. It is quite a cliche happy-ending scene in films and dramas when the main actress is about to enter the restricted area, the main actor arrives at the last minute asking her to stay. Flying for personal and business purposes nowadays is way more common than in the past. It is not surprising that some board planes more often than buses! The advancement in air transports also makes separation from emigrated families and friends less saddening, as they can come back regularly if they want to.

My 4th maternal uncle and his family emigrated to Australia in the 1970s. I still remember the day I saw them off with groups of relatives at Kai Tak Airport. In a recent flip through of the old photo albums, I relived many memories of the old airport. Uncle was the focal figure in the photo. He was in a suit and tie. My mom also wore a suit and high heels on that day. Male cousins were all dressed in proper shirts and pants. Every family took this occasion seriously by either sending a representative in presence or coming in full force.

I also remember picking up arrivals in the old airport. I used to work in a trade company in which colleagues from the Taiwan headquarter often transited in Hong Kong before heading to the factory in Mainland China. Since the airport was just a stone’s throw away from my home in To Kwa Wan, my boss always asked me to pick them up. To meet up with the arriving colleagues that I had never met before, I had to write their names on paper signs to be recognised. Back in the days before the prevalent use of mobile phones, this act was not embarrassing at all. It was a common practice in the arrival hall.

There was also a time when my father went to Shandong for a business trip. My mom took me and my younger sisters to the airport to welcome him back. He was so happy since it was a surprise to him.

Kai Tak Airport was listed as one of the ten most dangerous airports in the world. Planes made spectacular landings flying right above the buildings. Arriving at night was even more enjoyable overlooking that extravagant night view of the Pearl of the Orient. Every time I fly home from abroad, my heart is filled with comfort. Despites the relocation of the airport for years, the memories stay still.

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