As one of the most polluted and highly-populated cities in the world, (seven million in 1,100 square kilometers), it is not too difficult to understand why many ‘Kongers’ walk around with masks over their faces. The smell of the pollution I can only describe as sewage.
I had always wanted to visit Hong Kong, not for any other reason than ticking it off the ‘bucket list’, you know, that list of things to do before you die. So when a business opportunity over there presented itself, I couldn’t really say no.
The story started last year, following an email from the Hong Kong Police. I managed to work my way around, through several emails, to suggesting that it might be better if I came out and talked to them directly which they seemed to accept quite freely. After all, it was for them, free!
I managed to get a business-class flight on Air France via Paris. Having never flown on Air France before, I thought I’d better brush up on my French and I breezed onto the aircraft with a cheery “bonjour,” only to be met with a barrage of French at a speed I couldn’t understand. I just said ‘oui’ in the hope that it was the right answer.
We left London on a bright clear evening. As we traveled south over the white cliffs of Dover, the setting sun lit up the English channel, producing a silver sheen to the water which looked like a crumpled sheet of silver foil beneath us. Sitting in a window seat, I was party to views 20,000 feet beneath me. Ships in the Channel looked like links in a chain, connected by their wash that seemingly went on forever. We flew over the battlefields of both World Wars, where I could see what was left of entrenchments – or was it just my overactive imagination. Whatever the case these views instilled a feeling of positivity for the visit that was ahead of me.
I arrived in Hong Kong in the late afternoon and made my way to the hotel in Wan Chai, in the Central Business District, on Hong Kong island. Having endured thirty five degree heat for nearly two hours in a bus from the airport and, being wetter than an otter’s pocket, I crashed out, shivering in my ice-cold air conditioned room. I had to have a shower to warm up, and then spent some time trying to work out how to switch the air conditioning off. Finally I realised you couldn’t, so I fell onto the bed where I slept, fitfully, for a couple of hours.
The following day dawned bright and hot and I met my new clients at their offices, which were less than 500 metres away. My meetings went well, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I have been out to Hong Kong several times now and every time I visit there is always something new to go and look at. The skyline is a sight to behold at any time of the day or night and my hosts are, to say the least, gracious and hospitable.
In my next blog, we’ll look at how we delivered training to the Hong Kong Police Officers in their environment, including how we overcame the cultural and language difficulties.
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