Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Loose in Hong Kong

On too many Asian tours in the past I haven't had enough time to spend in Hong Kong. This year I allowed myself four nights in the Island Pacific Hotel in Western to chill out after the frantic time in Macau. Good to catch up with friends and read the South China Morning Post over an extended breakfast.
Monday morning check out of Holiday Inn in Macau and catch 11:05 ferry in the company of Phil Newsome and son William. To the Island Pacific sharing a cab with Jessie Leong. Get laundry done at hole-in-the-wall place in Centre Street, the bargain of the trip at HK$24, about £2. After an afternoon nap I hop a bus to Central and take supper in a Japanese restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong all by myself. Home early to bed. They are rather fussy in the hotel taking great exception to me taking my shoes off while sitting in the foyer.
Tues: Up early and breakfast at hotel with Phil Newsome. Meet up at Aberdeen Boat Club at midday for a boat trip from Aberdeen harbour to Deepwater Bay organised by Matthew Marsh. We are celebrating his victory in the Porsche Carrera Asia Cup with Kirin beer. On return to dry land we make a quick pitstop at The Dublin Jack then reconvene at the Foreign Correspondents Club. Incredibly hot Singapore Noodles in good company.
Wed: Trip to the dentist followed by lunch in Lan Kwai Fong with Phil Newsome after visiting The Smile Spa, a new approach to dentistry as far removed from the NHS as possible. A quick drink in The Dublin Jack with Matthew Marsh then cab back to hotel and crash out.
Thurs: Meet brother Julian at hotel then to optician nearby, trip to the HSBC bank then business center on 27th floor of the hotel. Take tram into Central (HK$2) and head for Cheung Chau by ferry for lunch, followed by a pleasant walk round the island. Quick drink in The Dublin Jack on return and off to drive a racing car simulator, off Arbuthnot Street. Run by Carsten Widderich, the Sideways Driving Club is a world-class facility providing an incredibly realistic experience. I drive a Porsche GT3 at the A1-Ring in Austria racing against up to nine others. Magic.
Fri: Trip to the dentist, sort out second new pair of glasses, then business center on 27th floor of the hotel, back track to pick up glasses then collect bags from hotel and drop off at check-in in Central, to Outer-Island ferry terminal for trip to Lamma Island on 12:15 ferry - phew! Meet brother Julian on the dock then curry at the Spicy Island chatting to Ian Watson, an old friend who gave me my start in journalism.
Time to head for the airport so ferry back to Central and fast train to Chek Lap Kok. I can see the bush fires on Lantau Island on take-off - quite spectacular. I have a lousy flight home surrounded by squawking kids, having been asked to move my seat by an inconsiderate hostess. I'm sure BA stands for best avoided.

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