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
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
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)