I'd been waiting for this call for 30 years.
I'm a news and documentary cameraman based in Perth and surprise phone calls deploying you to a breaking news event happen frequently.
But this was the ABC's International desk in Sydney ringing.
In the middle of filming a local news story, I'm asked if I can be on my way to the airport in 14 hours with camera equipment, safety gear, gas mask and a helmet.
I'll be covering the Hong Kong protests.
While I've travelled overseas to shoot feature stories before, this will be my first international assignment covering a big, unfolding news story.
Travel light, file fast
After four hours of packing gear, a night's sleep and a quick farewell conversation with my lovely wife (we have a lot of these in this job), I am on a plane with my mind racing.
There are a lot of technical requirements to covering news in this fast-paced era.
You need to able to quickly adapt to changing situations and this means being very mobile, particularly when covering street protests.
The thing I've learnt from years of demanding assignments is that if you can't carry all your kit between two people, it's too much gear.
When filming documentaries there is no impending deadline, you can take your time.
News, on the other hand, demands up-to-date content, delivered as quickly as possible to different platforms and programs.
There are always multiple looming deadlines.
When I started at the ABC in 1989, there were no mobile phones.
Now we can file 24/7 anywhere there is a mobile network.
The technology that exists today allows us to buy local sim cards with data, put them into a "magic box" called a LiveU, and send vision or even go "live", with a slight delay of around 1.5 seconds, from anywhere in the world.
This technology has been a game-changer.
Ten years ago, this kind of newsgathering was only possible with portable satellite equipment weighing 200 kilograms.
LiveU weighs only five kilos, has a battery that lasts for about six hours and can go anywhere there is a mobile signal.
It's hot and humid
I land in Hong Kong at 3:00pm and hit the ground running, meeting our South-East Asia correspondent Kathryn Diss at Wan Chai to film a piece-to-camera.
I've been to Hong Kong on holidays, but not for work, and trying to move 25 kilograms of gear around the busy streets, in 33-degree heat and 90 per cent humidity, is a challenge.
I can see already that staying hydrated is going to be very important.
Day two and we are at the airport where three days of planned protests start.
Camera operators and photographers look at the world in a different way to others.
We are constantly scanning the surrounds for images that best describe what is happening, best tell the story.
I am in my element: the scenes are a visual feast.
We are scheduled to do 10 live crosses into ABC 7pm News bulletins in every capital city but the signal is poor because of the large number of people in the arrival's hall and users on the mobile network.
We quickly scramble to higher ground where the signal is better but it's still not strong enough.
It's already 6.30pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, so we quickly shoot a piece-to-camera (known as an "as live") and feed it back on a 20-second delay.
The signal starts to improve and we manage to shoot half of the crosses live.
Then, we head back into the city to cover the evening protests.
After a four-hour standoff with police, there are no significant clashes.
I go to bed about 1:00am.
Kathryn stays up until 2.30am cutting a radio current affairs piece for AM before hitting the sack.
A few minutes later she's woken up — the audio's failed to send and the producer at AM had no choice but to phone.
Back to sleep. It's the calm before the storm.
Chaos erupts on the streets
The next afternoon, we travel to Tai Po, about 50 minutes from central Hong Kong, closer to the Chinese border, to follow a big march.
Because of our live cross demands, we've got extra gear.
We walk 2 kilometres with the marchers and then set up on the side of the road in the shade.
Kathryn knocks off another 10 live crosses and just as she's finishing up we see a large group of protesters moving to the metro train station nearby.
Our local fixer, who is monitoring social media, has discovered that the group is heading to Tai Wai, about 30 minutes away.
We hail a taxi and Kathryn files radio copy on the way.
When we arrive, things have escalated.
Protesters have used improvised materials to block the roads feeding into a five-way roundabout.
Our personal safety is always our top priority and you have to think ahead in these kinds of volatile situations.
Kathryn and I quickly don gas masks and helmets.
There is already a cloud of tear gas in the air and we find a safe place to the side of the melee where I can get shots.
The scene before me is surreal!
Bursts of tear gas, police with riot shields, protesters dressed like ninjas with yellow helmets and gas masks, and laser pointers cutting through the gas clouds.
After a few minutes, I find it's not easy to shoot with the gas mask on in the heat and humidity.
To be effective, the mask needs to make a tight seal on your face.
Being hotter in this environment is the last thing you need but it's better than breathing in the gas or being hit in the face by a projectile.
Kathryn does three PTC's back to back.
Under pressure she delivers, describing the scene before us.
It's all over as quickly as it began.
Staying safe while covering the story
We catch our breath. We stop to make a new plan. We check when's our next deadline.
We learn that the protesters have moved on to Nathan Road police station and we jump in a taxi to follow.
The next scene is unbelievable.
The protesters have blocked a busy road in a major luxury shopping district.
As shoppers walk by with bags of expensive purchases, tear gas canisters are fired into the group of protesters.
Protesters and shoppers flee.
We find a safe vantage point.
With the mask still on, Kathryn does another PTC, delivering a great summation of the scene before us.
I say to Kathryn: "Hey, this place is literally a riot!"
We both laugh.
It breaks the tension for a moment.
A few minutes later, I am filming police arresting citizens on the street.
About 50 news crews are all trying to get the same shot of a women being arrested, it feels like I'm playing hooker again in the front row of a rugby scrum.
It's close to midnight.
We need to get back to our hotel and start editing and feeding vision.
About 2:00am we are done and head to bed.
Protesters constantly on the move
It's pretty much the same unpredictable chaos in the following days.
This is a very difficult story to cover as the protestors break up into smaller groups and are constantly on the move, travelling around on the metro train service.
The only way for us to keep up with them is to follow on foot and by train.
We strip back our gear to lighten the load.
One day, we follow the protesters on the metro for hours, visiting five different locations all over Hong Kong.
We learn that for the first time, police have used tear gas inside a metro station 40 minutes away.
We try to get there but trains are stopped.
We hear there has been a clash at another place, Causeway Bay, and we make our way there but there's nothing happening, so we go to another location, North Point, where pro-Beijing supporters have been reported attacking the media.
We arrive to learn that violent scenes erupted at Causeway Bay just after we left.
We head back into the subway and follow a large group of protesters on the move.
As we are about to exit the Tai Koo station, all the elevators are shut down.
We walk three steep, 30-metre flights of stairs.
Just when you think it can't get any crazier, it does!
Three vans come speeding up the road, riot police pour out and start firing tear gas at protesters.
Here we go again.
Privilege of telling important stories
The next day, Monday, the protesters head back to the airport for a huge sit-in.
Tensions are high after the violent clashes with police over the weekend and there is a rumour they may enter the airport with tear gas.
We don't believe it but can't completely discount it.
I take a video of the crowd from our high position and tweet it.
The 10-second video gets over 30,000 views in the next couple of days.
The airport sit-in goes on for another day.
Kathryn and I are starting to feel the fatigue, but reinforcements are on the way — Greg Jennett is flying in from Canberra and China correspondent Bill Birtles and cameraman Steven Wang are travelling from Beijing — and we'll work with them for a few more days.
Kathryn and I take the opportunity to wind down and enjoy a relaxed meal together but as long as we are here we remain on alert.
This means when you sleep, the phone is never on silent.
Before you go to bed, the camera gear is charged and laid out ready to go, you choose the clothes you'll wear tomorrow, you check how much credit is on the pre-paid local sim card and when it expires.
You eat well, drink plenty of water, get as much sleep as you can.
The intensity of living at this pace is amazing and a little addictive.
The highs and lows are extreme but great colleagues keep you grounded.
They become your work family.
Kathryn and I laughed that we'd spent more time together over the course of two weeks than we usually do with our partners at home.
Sometimes the job is literally a riot.
But when you get to tell important stories, and share the experience with great mates, it's the best job in the world.