Eyes begin to open.
The aesthetic glare of a stout bedside alarm clock seeps into the small hotel room with a dull, artificial glow — combatting the early morning gloom.
The small metallic bell within the plastic casing is frantically buzzing as the alarm triggers…
Time to get up.
Eyes are blood shot, but now definitely open.
Ezekiel stirs from his sleep, smacking the plastic casing of the alarm clock with the heel of his hands, the metallic buzzing stops and the light-up display flickers and twitches.
He moves his stiff body, tugging back the polyester duvet from his torso and legs, and leaps from the covers; revealing a stained and bedraggled single mattress beneath.
Ezekiel rips open the blinds and crisp early-morning sunshine pours in. He peers out of the window, scanning the road below.
His hotel is next to an airport, most of the world is yet to wake — but the distant rumble of turbine engines reminds him, he has a flight to catch.
He spots a man with a baseball cap walking a small dog, the lead is strained as the little mongrel tugs towards a grassy bank.
Ezekiel dresses quickly, a pair of faded Nike navy sports shorts, an over-sized Brixton t-shirt, Nike emblazoned white socks, pulled up over the ankles, and a pair of wolf-grey Internationalists; the soles clearly banged up from years of use, the left side splitting slightly but laces still holding strong.
A dull orange swoosh is still recognisable beneath layers of dust and grime, collected from years of trudging through London’s underground network.
His flight is due to leave in two hours, but he has time, the short walk from his cheap hotel room to the terminal desk couldn’t be more than 15 mins, if he squints, he can spot a runway from his window.
He begins to stuff various belongings that have been strewn across the room from his two day stay, into a banged up Rimowa suitcase. The metallic silver plating cold to the touch, the casing covered in various stickers and patches.
In goes a stack of notepads and paperbacks, bound together by an elastic band; a handful of clothes; a rainproof overcoat; a leather wash-bag; various clear wallets full of liquids and soaps; a blanket rolled up and clasped with a suede strap; they all get stuffed into the carry-on sized roller case.
He finishes packing his roller, his spirits already soaring at the thought of soon escaping the London fog, this dimly lit hotel room, and leaving his mundane routine, the benign slog of his current life behind.
Finally, he grabs the small plastic alarm clock, his matte black toothbrush, a small plastic case of earbuds, his brown leather wallet, a George Orwell novel and gold book mark and carefully places them into his XL Fjallraven rucksack, the tough kaki canvas not showing any signs of fatigue despite the countless airports and continent its been dragged through.
He rolls up a a final sweatshirt from the bottom of his single bed and clips it onto the top of the bag, in a Scandinavian style. He can use this as a pillow on the flight.
He carefully scans the room, a quick glance inside the bathroom cabinet reassures his conscious that he has all his belongings. Ezekiel always travels light, just the bare minimums to stay alive and stay enlightened — this helps his feeling of freedom as he prepares to change his lifestyle.
With a skip in his step, Ezekiel bounds out the thin front door of his room, onto the third floor balcony. He scrambles down the three flights of the dimly lit staircase; too impatient to call for the lift.
A security guard snoozes in the lobby, his chin dipping onto his chest, a weathered cap covering his face and eyes, a small piece of egg, dried on his tie pin, dangles precariously.
Ezekiel sweeps past his post and out onto the two-lane road that sits in front of the hotel entrance. He tightens the straps on his Fjallraven rucksack and pulls from the exterior straps a small penny-board skateboard, a purpose built deck for airport transit, and freewheels to the terminal entrance.
A short skate, a whisk through security and border control, and Ezekiel’s boarding the plane. He thrusts his penny and rucksack into the overhead storage, wheels his roller Rimowa under the seat, and swiftly closes the overhead tray with a heavy metallic clunk.
The Emirates Boeing 797 was a large aircraft, and Ezekiel was pleasantly surprised by the allocated for even his lowly economy ticket. Small pouches could be found on each seat and they contained a small nylon blanket, a pair of plastic in-ear headphones with the silicon tips(likely terrible, but Ezekiel didn’t bother to unwrap them from their packaging), a soft but itchy eye mask and an Emirates branded face-wipe; no doubt lemon flavoured but almost certainly headache inducing.
Ezekiel tucked this all to one side but was grateful for the blanket and eye mask, he instead opted for his own headphones a powerful pair of over-ear W1365 Sony noise-cancelling cans; any travellers best friend when seated in an economy class peppered with small children and sniffling babies.
As the sheer tonnage of the 797 begins to tax from it’s refuel position, passengers begin to settle, buckle up their seat belts and select a magazine of choice from the seat one in-front.
Ezekiel pairs his Google Pixel smartphone to the Sony cans, American and Japanese engineering connecting wirelessly. He opts for some late night jazz as the Emirates aircraft lumbers up the runway, rapidly gathering speed and power.
The signature Emirates wingspan spreads from window to window, aisle to aisle and as the 797 pulls upward and the after-burners roar into overdrive, the London sunrise blasts below the cloud-line; Ezekiel glances downward as the last visible lights of England wink him farewell.
He awakens with a bleary stir, headphones in lap (he must have removed them in his slumber). His head is buzzing away with the distance familiarity of the John Coltrane number that rocked him into a deep sleep.
A flight attendant shuffles past, the faint whiff of filtered coffee wafts behind her, most of the passengers are either asleep or their tired faces illuminated by the small in-flight screens as they pass the time with various Hollywood blockbusters, or forgotten Bollywood thrillers.
As the plane bounces to land on Hong Kong soil, Ezekiel is the first out of his seat, quietly donning the rolled up sweatshirt from the top of his pack and reaching further into the overhead to grab his penny and luggage.
He bounds out of the terminal and into the nearest orange taxi at arrivals. Daunting sky scrapers line the roads, glistening with splendour in the hot July sun. Streets, lined with market sellers advertising the sale of every food type and product, scrawled with mandarin.
Ezekiel is whisked deeper and deeper into the sprawling metropolis of Hong Kong, already his thoughts of home long swallowed by the overwhelming novelty hitting every one of his senses.
Out of the cab, he jumps onto his translucent penny once again and rolls down two blocks from the drop off to his hostel, the sign reads something in mandarin — he’ll have to brush up quickly. He flashes his Pixel at the sign for a quick translate, it reads ‘The Inward Spirit’.
Throwing his luggage to one side, he prods the small silver bell of the desk as a short elderly man hobbles into view, emerging from behind the counter with a grin and a glint in his eye.