My introduction to Hong Kong beyond just a name was thanks to James Clavell and Noble House. But that was more than a decade and a half back. As we were making the arrangements for the trip, I finished reading Flood of Fire, the final book in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy. It makes references to many real life characters, one of whom is William Jardine, of Jardine Matheson & Co., most eminent among Hong Kong business conglomerates from the time of the First Opium War to this day. The final pages of the book deal with the auction of land lots in Hong Kong, and the origin of what is now one of the most important nerve centres of the system of the world. Reminded me of the Amitav Ghosh book connection during our Penang trip in 2014, and set up the trip very well.
We ditched Meru for Uber this time and it did turn out cheaper. Surprisingly Malaysian Airlines had worked out better than Air Asia in terms of time and cost, and given the chances of adventure with the former(!), we took the midnight flight to Kuala Lumpur, which was delayed. We just about made the second flight and finally reached Hong Kong almost an hour later than scheduled. The good news was that we weren’t lost in transit, the bad news was that one of our bags was – the one with the clothes for the first couple of days! The delay also meant that our special lunch plan was sabotaged. We made peace with that, and after getting the currency exchanged, proceeded to make the first and most important transaction – the Airport Express Octopus Card. The Octopus is a payment card with tentacles everywhere – restaurants, transport, shopping and so on. We chose this particular card because our plans included a lot of MTR (mass transit rail, not South Indian dishes!) but you could buy a card of lesser value and use buses, trams etc too.