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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 43: 6 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysEventually all is well. I cool off with a beer and the reassuring attention of the club's real owner, a young man from Austria called Christian. He came to Hong Kong in the Foreign Service eight years ago, quit the job and has been running the club since 1982. He fully expects to be running it after 1997. The bubble of enterprise and energy and self-belief that sustains Hong Kong must not be pricked by premature speculation. I suspect that everyone is looking to the business community. If they can operate with the new regime then Hong Kong will probably stay much as it is. A young Italian at the party, confident and prosperous, says that the great attraction of Hong Kong is that almost every financial and commercial practice is legitimate. Stacks of money can be, and are expected to be made. There is a fierce battle for mainland Chinese business, with most governments standing firmly behind their companies in offering substantial discounts on loans. But the Japanese have so far pre-empted everybody, offering the Chinese money at zero interest.

Back at the hotel, the feeling of being back in London persists. There are two messages on the video screen in my room. One to say that Douglas Adams called and the other that Mr Alan Ricker (sic) was at the Mandarin. Alan, who was once approached by the BBC to do this journey and who gave me some advice before I left ('Faced with any trouble, I become tremendously British'), has rung to check if I'm still alive and Douglas is quite upstaging me with something like a two-year journey to various remote parts of the world for a BBC radio series.

None of the travellers meet tonight though, as I am off to a farewell dinner with Passepartout One at the Kowloon Hotel across the road.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 43
  • Date: 6 November
  • Country/sea: Hong Kong
  • Place: Hong Kong
  • Book page no: 141

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