Archive for December, 2008

China

December 2, 2008

Just flew to Hong Kong for meetings last week after being gone ten plus years.  Stayed on the island in Central overlooking the harbor and Kowloon/Peninsula Hotel.  I sure don’t miss staying in Chungking Mansion’s cheap and dirty hostels.  I worked late the only night I was there so couldn’t get over to see if Ned Kelly’s Australian Fun Pub is still open with great jazz music.  Anyone been lately?  Hong Kong looks the same just more buildings and plenty of hustle and bustle. Flew to Shanghai the next day to the nicest modern hotel I’ve stayed in recently; the Park Hyatt.  If you stand under that 100 story skyscraper and look up the building appears to lean over you.  It’s corners are scalloped near the top and the building has some rectangular opening nearly at the top.  You walk in this long undulating hallway with high ceilings to the elevator and take it up to the 87th floor hotel lobby.  Then back down to my 81st floor room. Nice.  I walked around what I thought was the Bund area; old Shanghai, but promptly got lost and ended up eating Sichuan food and taking a cab back to the hotel.

I remember Shanghai from the 1980’s and it has sure changed.  They have some of the most beautiful old buildings and modern highrises in the world as well as some of the best clubs and restaurants.  I’d say Shanghai or Beijing is close to the center of the universe right now for business and emerging culture and art. Check it out.  The next morning I went to check out and down to ground level for my airport car a sleek black Mercedes.  As I walked through the lobby I did a double take as Henry Kissinger was sitting waiting for his car.  I immediately turned around and said “Mr. Kissinger” (it should be Dr. Kissinger but opps) “Thanks for opening up China in the 1970’s.  It allowed me to visit in 1978 and start my business”.  I think he must be in his eighties and he is still sharp and quick.  He said “that must have been tough back then” and we continued to converse as we walked to our cars.  He mistakenly went to my car until his assistant changed his direction and pointed him to the mini-van. If I had been thinking more clearly I would have offered him a ride in my hotel car.

When I relayed this brief story to one of my friends they reminded me of the time I had a fight with a Hong Kong taxi driver who tried to cheat me of one Hong Kong dollar or about 17 cents.  After 30 years of exciting but hard travel in China I’m glad I can have the hotel send me to the airport now and off to Beijing I went.

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