Where’s my holiday home?
Just as my suitcase was about right for my departure, it stopped me spending too much money in Hong Kong because I didn’t have the space for too many bulky items. I raided M&S; bought a few books (natch); and bought the first series of Extras on DVD.
Like my trip in August, a taxi turned up just at the right moment to take me to the Apollo Hotel for the airport coach. But when I got out of that taxi, I was accosted by another driver who wanted to take me to the airport for ¥30. I was having none of that because it only costs ¥20 on the coach, but even when the driver saw that I wasn’t going to cave, a second taxi driver made the same offer. How dumb are these guys?
I was in a room on the 7th floor of the building where the guesthouse is. It was somewhat bigger than what I’ve been in upstairs, but the view was non-existent. I could just see the building where that line of disused loos is sitting on the roof, but most of the view was the room around the corner from mine. It struck me that I could really do with a holiday home in Hong Kong, not that I could possibly afford such a luxury even in the less salubrious parts of Kowloon City.
I noticed that The Washingtonienne and Belle du Jour were available in Page One, which prompted me to write the following tale about getting your blog published.
“Welcome to Trend Publishing, Mr Bamboo,” said Tony Burton-Hughes who had just been introduced to me as a senior editor. We shook hands.
“Please,” I said, “call me Green. It’s very nice to be here.”
“I trust you had a pleasant trip.”
“Very.” I’d never travelled first class before. It was going to be a hard blow to return to economy as I felt I inevitably would.
“Let me introduce you to everyone. You’ve met Caroline, my PA. This is Polly Collins. We’ve taken the liberty of appointing her as your literary agent. Several of our authors are under her wing.” Ms Collins seemed to be in her late forties and a little overfond of unsubtle makeup. “This is Sarah Hyde. She’s the project editor and will be in charge of seeing your magnum opus through to publication. Since this is her baby – and yours – I’ll let her have the floor.”
“We’ve been enjoying reading your blog,” Sarah began and I muttered my thanks. “We think it has definite potential and we’ve come up with a proposal which we’d like to run past you. It’s more or less a bunch of minor edits.”
I’d been expecting some suggestions since there were quite a few entries which would hardly appeal to most people, and I’m sure others needed appropriate editing.
“For a start, you’re a bit too, er, male. We really need you to be a woman. And,” she continued without pausing, “there’s not much about sex. It’d help if you were a woman with an overactive sex life. You’re in about the right age range, but let’s make you a little younger – early thirties, say.”
“I’m forty-one,” I said. Curse my youthful good looks!
“Don’t worry,” interjected Tony. “Airbrushing can work wonders.”
“And you need to be Chinese. So from now on, you’re Wang Fei, blogging about your very active sex life during the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai, bonking your way through the Politburo. That sort of thing.”
“There are a couple of problems,” I said not wishing to ruin the deal by observing that all of it was a problem. “Most Chinese people are married by the time they’re in their mid-twenties. Even if Wang Fei was in her early thirties, she wouldn’t even remember the Cultural Revolution.”
“I see where you’re going with this,” said Sarah. “You’re twenty-five, in Shanghai looking for Mr Right during the Cultural Revolution, bonking your way through the Politburo, and blogging about your elusive search for love.”
Somewhere nearby, I’m sure reality was asking to be excused.
Another theme of my trip to Hong Kong was afternoon tea. By about 3pm, it was very difficult to find anywhere to sit down and relax.
I did do one touristy thing and that was to take a trip on the Skyrail up to Ngong Ping. I was a little bit wary about taking the MTR out to Tung Chung because the Airport Express costs HK$100 and the airport is barely a stone’s throw from Tung Chung, but the Tung Chung line costs the usual amount, which rather reveals what a major-league rip off the Airport Express is. The Skyrail is a cable car running up the north side of Lantau to the seated buddha which I visited a couple of years ago. I must admit that I wasn’t impressed. There really isn’t much of a view and even if it’d been clear, there wouldn’t have been much of a view. You could see the airport, but the rest was merely an inlet and some hillside, neither of which had anything to recommend it.
I think living in China does something to your sense of perspective. I saw several groups of foreigners in Hong Kong all of whom seemed to be grotesquely large (all right, so they were fat as well). In spite of claims that obesity is on the rise in China (certainly in cities like Beijing or Shanghai where the populace is noticeably larger), the average sizes here are still weedy and scrawny.
[05.07.14. I assume that this entry popped up because of the protest in Hong Kong on the 1st of July. Mention of it on this side of the border got throttled, with the punters saying that the news was censored even more severely than news about the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square in June.
In the eight years that have passed since I wrote this entry, the imperial government has grown even more paranoid. Blocks on various sites such as Facebook, blogspot, and WordPress have gone from contrary to permanent. Various newspapers such as The Guardian have also been blocked for daring to reveal that the leading families in the land aren’t short of a bob or two.
The Emperor’s current campaign against corruption may have more to do with Party politics than anything else, but is presented in the guise of tackling one of China’s endemic problems.
As for Hong Kong, the writing on the wall suggests that China’s plan for the Territory was to regard any handover agreement as yet another unequal treaty which it could, after a sufficient amount of time, ignore. It’s already been doing the migrant thing by allowing Mainlanders to visit Hong Kong in vast numbers, and has never been keen on letting Hongkongers have something approximating to proper democracy, which would merely make the claim that China and democracy don’t mix a bigger lie than it already is.
I don’t know what the future for Hong Kong is going to be like. I suspect the cancerous growth of interference from Beijing will continue, but if Hong Kong manages to maintain a reasonable degree of autonomy to 2047, what will happen after that?]