Baz and Big Buddha (again).

So, for the sixth time this year, I headed off to the other side of the planet to China and wonderful Hong Kong. This time in the company of my long-time friend and colleague, Barry Lloyd.

Baz had been through Hong Kong airport going back-and-forth on his travels. But this was his first opportunity to stay in the city. And although he’d lived and worked in Taiwan at one point, this was his first trip to mainland China, when we popped into Xiamen for a couple of days.

So, finding that I can now navigate myself like a local inhabitant around Hong Kong; and Xiamen almost being a second home, I felt duty bound to act as tourist guide for Barry.

It was great to see my great friend Inway Ni and business partners RQ and Jon. They really are much like family now. Inway speaks fluent English and acts as interpreter for RQ and Jon. They can both understand a lot of English but don’t speak a great deal. This is quite evident when I see them grimace at my frequently awful jokes.

Once again I stayed at the wonderful Sheraton Hotel in Xiamen, which really is a wonderful location. Here’s Barry and I with Jon, Inway and RQ in the lobby of the hotel after we’d been out for a most splendid Chinese banquet. The guys are great hosts and always take me somewhere exceptional for traditional food.

Of course, although this was Barry’s first trip into China, he already knew Inway, as the three of us spent some time together in new York a few months back. This is when Inway was given his Mojito initiation at a great place I know down at the seaport area. We sat in the sunshine and drank the place dry of Mojitos (reminds very much of a similar incident with Joe Morin when we ended up skipping through Knightsbridge together… ahem! Another time for that one 😉

Anyway, back to Hong Kong we returned and slummed it at the JW Marriott. Yeah, yeah I’m joking. This is probably one of the plushest hotels on the island. And what could be more? It had a cigar bar! Baz was delighted… and within minutes I was back on 20 cigarettes a day (plus cigars). I know, I know, for a guy who had a throat cancer scare last year I should be shot. And when my wife found out… I almost was!

Once again, I met up with my close friend Eddie Choi and he and I and Barry enjoyed a night in a fabulous Thai restaurant. There’s no picture of Eddie this time as he says his wife is beginning to track his movements just by viewing my blog 🙂

Barry and I had some meetings on Saturday morning so we’d already decided to stay over the weekend. And so, after our little excursion to Xiamen (where Barry was close enough to wave to his old friends in Taiwan) I became tour guide for Hong Kong. Up to the Peak we went and gazed over the city and indulged in a wonderful lunch of Dim Sum. All manner of which ordered by Barry who is a Dim Sum addict.

And of course, come Sunday, we travelled out to Lantau Island to Po Lin monastery and another audience with the majestic Big Buddha.

About 230 islands belong to the territory of Hong Kong and Lantau is the largest (bigger than Hong Kong itself). You can take the MTR to Tung Chung at the end of the line and grab a cab to Po Lin. There are also buses ( a very bumpy ride). And now, the new tourist attraction which is the Ngong Ping cable car ride.

We took a cab again this time, which is about a 45 minute ride (on a good day). I heard that the cable car ride (spectacular as it is floating over the mountains) had long lines to wait and took a while to get to Gnong Ping. But recently I discovered that the cable car can actually get you there in about 20 minutes (but you still have to stand in a line).

The time before, when I was at Po Lin, Inway was with me. Yesterday he sent me a picture that he’d taken of me then, which I’d completely forgotten about. I have no doubt that, when I turned up again last week, Big Buddha was looking down thinking “not that idiot again!” 🙂

Perhaps the highlight of the week for me was spending a little quality time with a new friend called Manny. Her English wasn’t perfect but after a couple of attempts at explaining Kleinberg’s hypertext induced topical search algorithm, she simply became emotionally overwhelmed with her new found knowledge… I think.

Okay, see you in Chicago next week?

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