I am sitting in an Italian deli that is just across the road from my daughter’s flat drinking a cappuccino . It is considerably more than I pay back in Puglia for the same product however my South China Morning News costs much less than any of the Italian papers at home.
The weekend has been an hectic social whirl but everyone has now returned to work and the apartment is quiet. The expat life here is not for the feint hearted with almost every street seemingly crammed with bars and restaurants teeming with party goers. Meals out are de-rigour and drinks before and after the norm. It is not something i could manage every weekend but I’m sure my parents said the same thing years ago when they visited us in various places around the world.
Two things catch my eye in the paper. One is an article bemoaning the fact that children are becoming less well behaved. It is they feel because both parents in this highly competitive and expensive place to live are working and employing nannies. These nannies keen to keep their jobs allow the kids total freedom and the parents equally looking for a quiet life at weekends do likewise. The result is screaming kids having tantrums all over the place. I would better describe it as Italian male syndrome . These guys have seen nothing on some of the youngsters i see everyday in Puglia screaming their hearts out while their parents not any nanny cover them in kisses.
The other more serious item is the destruction of the old Hong Kong by an organisation called The Urban Renewal Authority which is a quasi-governmental, profit-making body, formed in 2001 to promote and undertake urban regeneration in Hong Kong. On Saurday we spent an hour wandering about a street market called the Graham Street market .
It is crowded and you are hit by shopping bags and find lots of bottlenecks because of the crush of humanity trying to move around.
but boy do you get a feeling of being somewhere very foreign and very different with dried fish stalls, chinese vegetable stalls and spice stalls. The smells, the people, the atmosphere is fabulous and with the old buildings all around it is very Hong Kong as you would expect to find it.
But don’t delay getting here to see it ‘cos the URA are knocking it all down with all the buildings as well to make way for some huge tower blocks and an hotel. They were to have built a new market for the traders as part of the redevelopment but that has been quietly shelved and another huge tower block will go up in its place.
Hong Kong is rapidly going the way Singapore went years ago. Singapore are now regretting doing what they did and seem intent on rebuilding replicas of what used to be there. Loads of resorts in Spain are doing likewise but the URA seem oblivious to the lessons that others have learnt the hard way. People even non tourist residents like a mix of old and new and heritage is important. The Kinks got it right
We flew in on Turkish airlines via Istanbul from Rome. I bought their economy plus product which they call comfort class and let me tell you they are not mocking. it is fantastic. Huge seats reminiscent of Business Class seats before the airlines introduced beds with loads of legroom. The 777 was configured 2/3/2 across and we got one of the two seaters. The service can only be described as outstanding . Attentive crew who really couldn’t do enough for you. The meals were all served with real napkins, glass glasses and china plates. The drinks were served from the bottle as was the wine and they were all premium brands. Quite nicely from my point of view the crew were also heavy handed and so sleep came easily. However the seats were so comfortable that even without the generous whisky measures sleep would have been easy.
Istanbul airport as a stop over is good as they have loads of security staff so the queues to get into the transit lounge are minimal . The actual huge transit lounge is rather like being in a massive bazaar with more duty free areas than I have ever seen but prices were higher than our local Auchan supermarket so easily left for others. We did find the bar and had a pint of Efes beer for a price that literally made my eyes water. That was till we got here to Hong Kong and now it seemed that they were giving it away in Istanbul !!
For Puglia readers here is a tip. For some reason ( senility) I got fixated on Rome as a departure point. It was not until we took off from there to go to Istanbul that Geraldine leaned over and showed me the Turkish Airlines route map and guess what they also fly from Naples !!
So my entire drive to Rome, the night stop there and the food poisoning was for nought we could have driven to Naples in 3 hours and flown away.
Well you live an learn in this world don’t you.