Our World Cup adventure is underway and we were very excited to break our journey up with a couple of days and one night in Hong Kong having left the UK on Tuesday.
We had a great evening out with an old school friend and his wife who are not only hilariously entertaining and warm, but enlightening about the local scene, given he has lived there since he left school.
Who would have thought this island just off the mainland of China would become a flashpoint for the world’s fastest growing economy? When we were in Hong Kong last year, everything was as usual. It was vibrant, chaotic and yet calm. Fast forward and it seemed pretty much the same, although it was clear tourist/visitor numbers were down as queues to get to The Peak were tiny compared with last year. Anyway, I digress. According to my friend, visitor numbers were down 850,000 in August alone, mainly from mainland China and Korea. It’s clearly having an effect on business, confidence and the overall mood. Given that Hong Kong has played a pivotal part in China’s recent history especially since about 1820 when China was the largest economy in the world, something I did not know, it may not end well. From what we could ascertain, the protests are getting more radical and escalating to a point whereby the authorities may also escalate their response. Add to that the anti demonstration demonstrators who are taking up the government’s cause, and it could be a potent cocktail which may not end well.
Despite all of this political upheaval, we had the best time again in Hong Kong and the most wonderful meal at Madame Fu’s. The Peak was clear and we walked around it.
As we left late on Thursday it was noticeable that the security at the airport was far higher. You basically get checked as you enter the airport, so that loophole may be closed. More demonstrations were expected at the weekend, starting with the climate change protests and school strikes on Friday and pro democracy ones at the weekend. Writing this sitting in Japan, I can’t see what has happened, but I hope for the people of Hong Kong’s sake, everything works out in a calm and measured way.
When we were at The Peak, which for Hong Kong could be a metaphor, we found a Madame Tussaud’s and an about to be opened Monopoly World, which in probably the most capitalist place on the planet, seemed somewhat appropriate.
Anyway, talking about all things calm and measured, the next stop is Japan and our World Cup adventure will truly kick off.