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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Tuesday, 5 March 2002
--> Hong Kong, China --> Sydney, Australia

Body clock disturbance! My mind didn’t really got a chance to adjust to new-day-cycles yet. I was sleepless, hungry and on low energy.

Reading the in-flight magazine I bumped onto some travel tips. The advice against a jetleg was described as follows:
Have a good night of sleep before your flight.
Oops, I guess I had too much alcohol on the night before my departure. And:
Adjust yourself to the local time of your destination on your flight.

“It generally takes your body clock approximately a day to adjust for each time zone crossed,” the magazine ended with. Oops again. Australia is twelve timezones away from The Netherlands. Does that mean I’ll have a jetlag of 12 days? I certainly don’t hope so…

6.30 am, adjusted to Hong Kong time, the lights on the plane go on. I still feel like I am some seven hours behind, but I enjoy the breakfast: fresh orange juice from a can, fruit, yoghurt, salad and pancakes with scrambled eggs and tomato concassé, back bacon and flash brown potatoes. And bread rolls. And tea. Wow!

At 7.50 the plane makes a 150 degrees curve towards Hong Kong Airport. Suddenly I looked straight into the morning sun of the Asian world.

Through the clouds appears a world with small islands, dotted in the sea and with green forests in the middle and white sand on the outside.

Small fisherboats become visible, returning home after a night of fishing. The islands become bigger and bigger and some have bridges connected between them.

The plane slows down with high speed and falls down. It seems to have hit one of those islands, but I see big hills on both sides of me.

After the landing I walked around at the airport and found a free internetpoint, where I checked my email. My plane would leave in about 11 hours, so I had enough time to relax and wonder around.

But my mailbox turned the Asian world in my mind upside down. Fionnuala McHugh, a reporter of the South China Morning Post, found out about my short stop in Hong Kong and wanted to meet me and have a chat with me.

I gave her a call on her given number in the email and decided to meet up around noon. “Let me pay the train to the city and we’ll have a lunch while I can interview you,” she said. It was okay with me as I would really love to see Hong Kong City while I was close to it anyhow.

After a few hours of sleep on a bench, I met up with Fionnuala and we took the Airport Express Train to downtown Hong Kong. From the airport island the train rode towards the centre of Hong Kong and I was very intrigued by all the housing estates I saw along the road. All buildings were at least 40 floors high and if you’d live up there, you won’t have a lot of space. It looked scary to me. How do those people live in those little places everyday? Would they know their 5,000 very close neighbours?

Fionnuala was very interested in meeting me, after reading so much about me in the international media. After a 30-minute train ride I walked through Hong Kong city. Unbelievable, I thought I wouldn’t see anything of this place.

I walked through malls, skyscrapers, walkways (that connect all the skyscrapers) and more malls. “Hong Kong is covered up like this, to get in control of all the extreme weather conditions,” Fionnuala explained to me. It can be rainy for a long time and very humid when it’s summerhot.

As lunchtime had started, the place started to fill up with people; it seemed like the entire population of Hong Kong was going for a lunch break!

Fionnuala treated me on a Chinese vegetables salad in a very fancy lunchroom. We were eating just above the financial centre of Hong Kong!

We ate and spoke there for about two hours and when we hit the streets (read: walkways) again, I noticed how quiet it suddenly had become. All the Hong Kong people where back to their offices.

Fionnuala also played an excellent tourguide, showing me the most impressive skyscrapers in town (banks, banks and banks) and the harbour (ferries, ferries and ferries). It was strange to imagine that I was only a few miles away from China…

At 2.30pm the reporter had to say goodbye to me, as she had to run for another appointment. She left me at a Starbucks Coffeeshop in town, where the French photographer Pierre was waiting for me.

Pierre took me outside on the streets and made me walk and run with my bags, so he could make some experimental photographs. He liked to make fun of the fact that I might become the cover story of the upcoming South China Morning Post Sunday Magazine... Oh well. Smile! Click-click-click-click. He shot at least four rolls of film!

I am running with a photographer through urban Hong Kong and it’s quite overwhelming! I haven’t actually started letmestayforaday-ing yet and I was already sweating my cap off in the hot tropic sun.

In the Airport Express Train back, I noticed that every seat was supplied with a personal video screen and I could choose what I wanted to see.

Did you know that in Alaska, USA, every man, woman and child receives a free $700 per year? And the United States government? They earned more money with the oil than they had ever paid for their 48th state!
I just learned that from the documentary I saw on the train. Is that why Asian people are thought to be very bright?

After another small nap at the airport, I boarded my flight to Sydney at 7.20pm.

Looking out of the window I waved goodbye to the city that I really visited for-a-day. There were the fisherboats again, the islands and the clouds. It would take another eight hours to arrive in Sydney.

Good night for now,

Ramon.