Arriving in HK – Expat living Hong Kong
I had written some 100 letters to companies for work. The construction industry in the United Kingdom during 1994
It took me 36 hours to get there as I went for the cheaper option, which was Air India. That meant a flight from Newcastle down to London, then London to Bombay, which included the 7-hour stopover that is mentioned in the book. As it was the night there was not point in venturing out so stayed in the airport terminal building. And yes the cockroach did fly out of the kitchen. The next day also included the flight to New Delhi and the three-hour wait on the tarmac with the doors open in July! Horrible, but also I needed to embrace the adventure.
Eventually I arrived in Hong Kong late evening of 23 July 1994. I remember being told how scary the approach would be and that you would fly past windows as you landed. Well Kai Tak was not actually like that. It was correct to say it was in the middle of the city, but for safety reasons the buildings surrounding the airport did have height restrictions. However it was true that the pilots had to ignore the emergency alarms as they took a right turn at the checkered board plastered on a hill and descended onto the runway.
The memory of when the door opened and the air came into the cabin will always stay with me. It is a really hard smell to describe unless you have been there. There is this underlying hint of sweetness mixed with humidity. It always excited me when I returned after a vacation.
That very first time of stepping out and seeing Hong Kong Island vista with all the lights dancing on the hills was breath taking. Skyscrapers of Central district shooting out of the ground in an attempt to reach the stars. The towers blocks glistening like diamonds as far as the eye could see to the more residential areas of Quarry Bay. Wedged in between the relentless party area of Wan Chai, which would be the source of many of the stories on which the book was based around.
But the endearing memory of Hong Kong, when I first arrived, was the humidity. I had to wear my glasses for the flight over and when I left the comfort of the terminal building the full force of 99% humidity hit my lenses, fogging me up for those valuable first few steps towards the taxi in which I encountered the trolley that had been strategically placed in my way by some other passenger (or another name as I articulated the pain into a word). However having spent my youth in the North East of England I was happy to have that heat and humidity for those next 11 years.