I have been off the blogging radar for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately the demands of earning enough to pay for my wildly extravagant lifestyle got in the way. It has had it’s advantages and disadvantages though. The advantages are that the Boss and I got to spend a couple of weeks in Hong Kong and Singapore. The disadvantage was that because of the nature of my work (Guns, Drugs and People smuggling) I spent a lot of that time in windowless Hotel function rooms talking inanities with clients about stuff that in the big picture of life makes no difference to anything.
The highlight of the trip for me though was to return to Hong Kong, my home for 7 years previously and the place where I met, wooed, and swept the Boss off her feet. (She regrets it now!)
Hong Kong will always hold a soft spot in my heart. When the Boss and I first left and moved back to New Zealand we used to seek out noisy Cantonese Restaurants so we could feel at home. Luckily we get the chance to revisit quite often and every time it is exciting. It’s an inspiring place, filled with a buzz that grips you and carries you along. Everywhere there is some form of sensory stimulus, whether amongst the teeming crowds in Central at lunch time or on a ferry trip to one of the outlying islands, watching the myriad vessels of all shapes and sizes passing by.
It has also changed a lot since I was a resident. And I don’t mean the obvious continual development of towering buildings. Walking around the business district of Central at lunch time I was struck by the many young cool looking and smartly dressed HK people speaking in American accented English, the offspring of those who fled to Canada and the US ahead of the handover to the Chinese in 1997.Returned to the country of their birth, well-educated, polished and eager to partake in making HK their own.
Areas like Sheung Wan in the Western part of HK Island have transformed from the predominantly Chinese trading houses to wine bars, cigar lounges and “private kitchens”. The area known as SoHo (South of Hollywood Rd) in its infancy when I left, has expanded and is filled with restaurants and bars of all persuasions, successfully toppling Lan Kwai Fong from its position as the nightlife hub.
And the famous Shanghai Tang Store in Pedder Street, purveyor of Chinese clothing with a modern twist has been replaced by Abercrombie and Fitch, whose store is staffed by very buff young Chinese men stripped to the waist, flexing their abs and pecs as they assist their customers. For all my female readers (and maybe some of the men?) I apologise for not taking photos, but taking photos of half-naked men for the edification of my readers is a point where I draw the line.
An experience one evening summed up what life in HK is like. Winding down in the Captain’s Bar of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel one evening after a stressful day, with a client and friend. It was midnight on a Wednesday. At the next table an expat was fast asleep, still in his suit and tie, while his friend studiously ignored him and nibbled on a bowl of almonds. On the other side a couple of American Chinese guys in brightly coloured pants and suede loafers sipped single malts and listened as the African-American woman with a bleached blonde Afro sang mellow jazz tunes. The bar was full and showed no signs of closing for the night.
My friend emptied his silver tankard and turned to me. “Wednesday night in HK! Do you know what Wednesday night is in Melbourne?” he asked. “It’s bin night! At this time of the evening I’m struggling down a dark alley dragging a smelly wheelie bin out to the street in the pouring rain!”