I’m in PJ Murphy’s, an identikit Irish pub under the Imperial Hotel in Kowloon – aside from all the staff being Asian, you could be anywhere in the world here, but they have Internet access so I can blog while I drink my Guiness and watch the repeat of Tim Henman getting knocked out of Wimbledon on the telly. The drawback of this place is that, aside from not partaking in the authentic Hong Kong cultural experience (and if anyone knows what that is that’d be a start), every other song is U2. Using the Internet here at least makes a change from the little Internet kiosk in Chungking mansions – a seedy place if ever you saw one, but host to a variety of colourful characters, including glamorously dressed African ladies in dresses that suit sunshine, not the downpour that’s flooding the streets and gets your shoes wet in seconds flat, and Indian men peddling counterfiet watches and tailormade suits and shirts.
I broke my own land speed record yesterday on board the Shanghai Meglev train to Pudong Airport – the Maglev reaches over 430 kph, only for a short time, and shoots past the cars driving to the airport at full speed. Strange to be going that fast and feeling really quite safe, when Cookie and I did 120 mph coming off the Orwell Bridge in Ipswich once, and we were both terrified. This was a long time ago and we’re more sensible now so obviously that sort of thing wouldn’t happen again.
The journey in to Hong Kong yesterday was tortuous – I got the A21 airport bus from the airport into Kowloon, and had to hold my nose under my T-shirt the whole way because of the stench of BO on the bus, brought on by my fellow passengers. It was so bad, I felt a lump in the back of my throat and my eyes watering, and I’m sure it was seeping in through my skin. What with that and the woman sat next to me sucking her teeth the whole way, I was in a foul mood by the time I got to the hotel. People can be intensly irritating without even realising it, and airplanes seem to bring the worst out in them. The other passengers on my flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong didn’t seem to have heard of queuing, talking below the shouty level, or even sitting down when the plane was taking off. It’s no wonder air stewardesses have a sort of doe-like rictus fixing their facial expressions – they must have to conceal murderous rage at all the cretins they have to deal with.