April 25, 2011
From Counselor Senior Writer Dave Vagnoni, our guest blogger who’s reporting from the land of China …
It definitely was an odd feeling to leave Philadelphia Saturday morning and finally arrive in Hong Kong late Easter Sunday night. A delayed flight, three-quarters of a day in the air and a 12-hour time difference does tend to rearrange what seems normal. I wound up spending those “missing” hours catching up on some sleep, eating better-than-I-expected airline-provided Chinese noodles and watching in-flight movies (wish I would’ve dozed off during Gulliver’s Travels rather than The King’s Speech).
Fortunately, my bags made it to China despite almost being lost in Chicago. Apparently, the destination tag fell off my luggage in transit from Philly. A U.S. Airways representative was nice enough to call me after seeing a contact card and find out where my next stop was. Otherwise, who knows where all my clothes would be now.
My trip from the Hong Kong International Airport to my hotel – The W – lacked for drama and I’m grateful for that. The poor driver kept apologizing because more than once he flipped on the windshield wipers rather than the turn signal. He didn’t seem to be a fan of Japanese-made cars.
My first impressions of Hong Kong were comforting. It’s amazing how familiar things can look in a strange place. We crossed over a spitting image of the Golden Gate Bridge, dealt with the hassles of some late-night highway construction and passed sign after sign that read: Don’t Drink and Drive. It did take me a while, though, to get settled in my hotel room. I stared at the shower for a few minutes before I figured out how to turn it on (see confounding image below). I suspected operator error when I couldn’t quite get the plug adapter to work. Turns out it was just broken. I couldn’t believe in-room Internet access was $40/hour. Then I remembered to convert the currency and the price significantly dropped.
TV here isn’t quite what I’m used to in the U.S. There are versions of ESPN, CNN, CNBC and Fox News, but there’s a clear programming time lag. I quickly lost interest in the Yankees/Orioles game when I already knew who won.
So there you have it. That’s a recap of my first hours in Hong Kong. Here’s what you can expect during the coming days: Over the next week, I’ll be following around a few of the good folks from Dard Products. We’ll head to a factory in Shenzhen, experience the massive Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair and haggle to get some deals in a local marketplace. I also plan to interview other industry execs who are here in Hong Kong, as well as some locals to get a sense of trade/labor challenges (and benefits) in Asia. I’ll be taking pictures wherever I am for a slide show, plus I’ll be shooting video that will eventually be turned into a TV-type report, similar to what you might see on the local news (that’s the goal, at least).
If anybody has any ideas for places for me to see, or just wants to say hi (either in-person here in Hong Kong or from back home), email me at email@example.com.
And by the way…Happy Belated Easter!