Back in the mid-80s I read the series of novels by James Clavell that were historical fiction about the rise of Hong Kong beginning with the British Portuguese traders, through the Opium Wars of the mid 1800s and continuing into present times. Collectively called Asian Saga – Shogun, Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin and two others
Those books stuck with me and I got some kind of fascination with Hong Kong and how the British figured out how to drug everyone in coastal China with opium sales to finance the Western world’s demand for tea. And the seafaring trade that went around this.
The reality when you get deposited here now, is that it is a hyperactive place all about maritime commerce, banking, tourism and retail. To my Western eyes, it appears that it is culturally barren compared to some other great world cities, although I’m sure that’s not the case.
Landing here and thinking that all there is here is shopping and that I can’t leave for too many days was depressing.
It took me a day, at least to see beyond the miles of watch shops and brand names to get to some of the back streets. I found the Hong Kong Museum of History, which was a fascinating tour of the books I mentioned. Very much recommended.
I now understand who buys all of those expensive watches that are advertised in the glossy magazines.
So, in my simple Jackson view, the only brand store I didn’t find is Arcteryx – I would have gone in there.
My other observation is that we in Jackson will never be a huge magnet for Asian tourists: we don’t have any big brand cachet stores. If you want to sell to Asians you have to have the big bling. In local terms, if you fish by chumming the water, or using a San Juan dropper on the Snake, you are guaranteed to get fish. If you leave a big gut pile in the woods, you are guaranteed to get bears. Got it?
Fifteen days on the road
Today, October 1 was a national holiday meaning that banks and government offices were closed and everything else was open. At 9:00 pm the city put on a huge fireworks show in Victoria Harbor. My hotel has a high level terrace where guests could watch. Nice perk vs standing on a wharf with 500,000 locals and a few tourists.
So, one glitch in the round the world air tickets is that while you are allowed to change your travel dates, the airlines don’t have to give you a seat. There is a special “Z” class for these tickets and many tries to Air New Zealand didn’t work to change my departure date because even though they were showing space available they wouldn’t book me on a Z fare.
No problem. I will just find a side trip for a few days then come back and pick up on schedule and head for the tropics.