Friday, March 16, 2012

March 10th – Back on my feet again in Hong Kong

A day of recovery in bed meant that my first day in Hong Kong was a bit of a write off; but by the second day I felt sufficiently chipper to go to meet our lovely friends Tim and Jill, who live in Hong Kong. They first took me to the lively Wan Chai market, where we saw all sorts of exotic herbs, vegetables, dried remedies etc – Jill getting the stallholders to explain what was what. Having walked through the ultra-westernised Harbourfront Shopping Mall to get off the ship to the Star Ferry Terminal, visiting this market was a good reminder of the firm Chinese roots of Hong Kong, and a reminder that traditional Chinese ways of life continue in this most modern of cities.

After this, we went for lunch to a place that's a throwback to Colonial times – the stately Hong Kong Country Club. Although it's just a 15 minute drive from the claustrophobic streets and forest of skyscrapers of Central Hong Kong, here there was plenty of space and a laid back atmosphere to enjoy, where Hong Kong's great and good come to play tennis, swim, or just enjoy the Club's restaurants away from the masses.

We had a lovely lunch, catching up, gossiping and discussing the future of Hong Kong and China. Tim explained how, as a lawyer, thoughts are already turning to what's going to happen when the 50 year period of grace agreed between the British and Chinese at the handover in 1997 expires. Under the agreement, the Chinese guaranteed that Hong Kong's laws etc would remain the same for 50 years after the British left. In the 1980s, while Mrs Thatcher and Deng Xioaping were thrashing out the agreement, 2047 felt like a long way off, but there was no agreement on what would happen after those 50 years were up. The question is, in 2047, will Hong Kong revert to Chinese laws, or will there be an extension of the status quo? Things like that matter when you're agreeing a 30 year lease on a building, or getting a 30 year mortgage. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Anyway, the day passed all too quickly, and soon it was time to get back to the ship, as I had to go up to the bridge to give a narration as we sailed out of Hong Kong's dazzling harbour.