December 14, 2007  
(Mis) Adventures in Travel Pt 2

We were in Hong Kong and I was given 72 hours to replace my stolen passport. I related this to my partner Daryl who was waiting for me as I exited from customs. He shook his head and said, “I was willing to hold and carry both passports in my case which never leaves my side, but you didn’t think it was a good idea”. Hmmm, G-d must have punished me for not listening, I thought to myself. I asked him if my Mom was standing in back of him giving him this wisdom. We both chuckled.

Waiting for the manufacturer’s representative our plans were to meet a representative of a manufacturing facility in China in the Hong Kong Airport, then visit his showroom in Hong Kong to get an overview of his manufacturing abilities. We’d then hook up with him again when we got to Shanghai. We waited patiently in the airport. “He’s still not here, he’s late”, I said, “if he were on time he’d have had to wait for me, its better this way.” As my partner and I were chatting, a tall distinguished looking well- dressed Asian gentleman walked toward us. “He must be the representative, I’m impressed”, I whispered to Daryl. I extended my hand and mentioned the name of our company. He looked at me and joked, “No that’s not me, but I understand, we all look the same”. Soon thereafter a young man wearing a tee shirt, jeans and carrying an oversized sign with our company name approached us. “I’m Mitch, I was sent to drive you to our showroom”. “Thank you, we’re happy to meet you”, we said as he directed us towards his car. As we exited the airport I noticed all the cabs were red. Why not-- China was soon to take possession of Hong Kong. We spent the rest of the day in the showroom doing what business men do, viewing products, discussing, quality, delivery and pricing.

At the Hotel at last!

As we were driven back to our hotel, I realized that I’ve never seen so much traffic, and I was raised in New York!! We registered at the Four Seasons Hotel and went to our separate rooms. I looked out the window at Victoria Harbor. Wow, what a wonderful view. The lights at night transformed the city into a picture postcard. I unpacked my suitcase, put my clothes away, and met Daryl for dinner. The hotel catered to many different nationalities. Hong Kong is an international city catering to people from all over the world. It’s a banking and financial hub for many international companies. We decided on having the buffet. It was a culinary delight, offering everything from Chinese food to Italian food. I could not find latkes, kasha varnishkes, sour cream or borsht, so I settled for a bowl of matzo ball soup, followed by assorted Chinese food with a small slice of an unknown type of cake for dessert. It was like being in the Catskills. The food was prepared with a minimal amount of sugar so I could actually taste the component foods of each dish; very different from the Chinese food served in the States. Most people in Hong Kong and China work more than 40 hours a week, so it was not unusual to see the same wait people at dinner that served you at breakfast. I showered, called Arlene, said “Good morning, I love you” and went to sleep. There’s a 12 hour difference in time.

I awoke at 10 a.m. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and arrived at the U.S. Consulate at 1 p.m. only to find out that they had closed at 12 p.m. and would reopen tomorrow. Hong Kong is a 24 hour city, people work 12 hours a day, but the U.S. Consulate closes at noon!! Oh no, we had airline tickets for a flight to Shanghai that evening!! We were to meet up with our interpreter and our sales manager. We faxed the hotel and alerted them we’d be a day late. We spent that day touring Hong Kong on a guided tour and afterward a walking tour of our own. We had turned a lemon into lemonade.

Hong Kong is an awesome city. As we walked through the city we became part of the parade of wall to wall people that worked in and toured the city daily. It seemed that everyone held a cell phone and appeared to be in deep conversation. I would not see that in the USA ‘til many years later, but still not at that proportion. Wow, there were 30 story apartment high risers with laundry hanging out the windows to dry. It almost seemed like old Brooklyn only on a larger scale.

A custom made suit

We had heard much about the fine tailoring in Hong Kong and a tailor was recommended to us. The store was located in the heart of the city. Off we went, people pushed us passed the store before we could enter, so we crossed the street and gave it another try. We introduced ourselves and mentioned the name of the person who recommended us (did he get a kick back??? I’m asking you the reader) “Yes, I will make you a wonderful suit”, the tailor said. He pulled out a bolt of cloth and asked me to hold one end while he walked about 8 feet away and began twisting and turning the material. “You see how material holds its form, comes from England and has many threads and is good to wear while traveling”. A good idea, come to Hong Kong to buy a suit made of material from England. “I make you beautiful suit, cheap, only 1000 American dollars.” We began laughing when the tailor began taking our measurements. “Wait, too much money” we said.” How much you want to pay,” he asked. We did not respond. “Six hundred American dollars, I lose money and make friend.” We still did not respond. “How much you want to pay?” We silently looked at him. “I’ll give you shirt and fine silk tie and handkerchief to match.” Still silence. “O.K., 400 American dollars, but I can not do for less. Silence. “How much you want to pay????” He kept speaking and said 200 American dollars and he threw in the shirt, the tie, and the handkerchief, I thought,“ was there a belt?” We settled at $175.00. Measurements were taken and we were told to return in 4 hours for a final fitting and the suits would be delivered to our hotel in the morning. It’s amazing what man can do when he’s motivated.

Lose money, make friends. I liked the sound of that for a salesman’s repertoire. I knew that once we were back in the States I would be saying that to my customers.

Returning to the American Consulate for an American Passport

When I explained that my passport was missing, the next question was “Do you have a birth certificate with you?” Right. Hmm, I thought to myself, I know I had one in my pocket, oh yes really, I always carry it with me for proof of age when I buy alcohol. Does anyone walk around with a birth certificate in their pocket? I think not!!! My Mom used to say, “Never go anywhere without a birth certificate.” Or was it “Wear clean underwear you’ll never know if you get in an accident and have to go to the hospital.” “No” I responded. “I have an American Drivers License, credit cards, business cards, a New York accent. I can tell you who won the last 12 World Series, but I don’t have my birth certificate with me. Look at me,-- do I look like anything other than an American?” I filled out forms and was asked many questions always in the same order…how did you get into England without a passport,( I had one then,) how did you get into Hong Kong,( I explained that I had the 72 hours to get a passport.) What are you doing here, etc, etc, etc. Finally, after taking my money, they wished me good luck, told me to enjoy my stay and sent me on my way with a passport.

China here we come

Our plan was to use Hong Kong as our home base and travel to different provinces in China, but ultimately return to Hong Kong. We had changed our reservations and arrived at the airport for an evening flight. The ticket agent said “This passport is issued in Hong Kong, why?” Story explained, we headed towards security. I handed Daryl my passport for safe keeping. Once on line, Daryl ,who now had both passports in his case, began fumbling looking for the passports. “Hurry up, we’re almost there,” I said. He continued fumbling, now taking out papers and other stuff from the bag. It was our turn on line and he finally managed to hand me the passports. I presented them and the security officer said “Please step out of line, we have some questions we’d like to ask”….

To be continued…

To see some beautiful photos of Hong Kong go to

I hope ya’ll had a wonderful Chanukah; we did. Arlene makes the best latkes. I’m still licking my fingers. Have a wonderful December and eat kosher.
Mel (the fat guy)

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