Back in the cave
The Langham hotel in Hong Kong, where we spent a night to recover from the first legette, is one of our favourite places.
As soon as you walk in it smells familiar and right. There is a reason for that. The entire worldwide Langham group has a subtle ginger based perfume that it pumps through the public area air conditioning systems. Smell is powerfully evocative, able to recreate in the mind the experience you had at your previous whiffs. I don’t know whether other hotels use it, or would be even game to, because it could work against them. For instance, BO might evoke a smelly week at a backpacker hotel. In the Langham’s case it is all good. In fact, you can buy bottles of Langham room parfum and spray it around at home.
Returning to the airport the next afternoon, we got a cab driver suffering from multi-ticks. He kept flicking at the tired Toyota controls, placing his hand over his ear and continually counting a bundle of bank notes he had beside him on the seat. He was a haphazard driver as well, but managed to get it all together when it came to us paying the fare. He tried to charge us more than double the total showing on the meter and when I pointed this out he stared at the meter as though he’d never seen it before. His stash of notes was no doubt the proceeds from gullible visitors.
Again our flight was delayed, this time by about an hour and a half because of a suspected loose grommet on our Boeing 777 – a stretched aircraft with two whopper engines and first class at the pointy end. We again settled into Fisness Class with the same triangular cave as last time but now to inhabit for 15 hours. Actually once you get used to it, and you ingest plenty of sleep inducing drugs, the burrow can feel like home. Cathay food and service on this flight were highly recommendable.
Time is a weird thing. I’m currently reading a book about it by Paul Davies. We have created our version of time collectively and, down at the personal level, we bend it again. I left Hong Kong at night in a rainstorm during which my suitcase had been placed on top of an exposed heap and took water like a leaky boat, ate dinner, watched a movie, took a Helpyousleep, and woke up at the same time in the evening in New York. My watch was still on Hong Kong time, and correct because it is exactly 12 hours ahead of New York, adding to the illusion that I had simply died for 12 hours and had woken up at the same time somewhere else – if that makes sense, which it doesn’t.
An American couple we met in Vietnam three years ago have flown to New York to show us around. We all booked into the Aka on Central Park, a real research find made by Michelle. Unlike the famous hotels that get nods of approval, the Aka is a reasonably priced establishment in the right location near Central Park. After making friends with our room, which involved hardening the bed with a clever device known as a sheet of three-ply under the mattress, we went walking with Betty and Pete to get some bracing NY air. We walked up Fifth to Nelson Circle and back down 58th. Even at one in the morning this place was busy. Horn tooting is a right bestowed by the constitution on every American along with the right to bear arms. Assault by sound is encouraged because it gets rid of anger without killing anybody.
Even at night, the sheer scale and bulk of New York bears down on you. Because of wee small hours roadworks, the city was jammed with hardly-moving traffic on streets that were in use. A similar situation occurs when the president travels in or out of the city. They close roads and bring in an armada of helicopters for showy security. Donald is apparently fond of getting around like this. He no doubt likes looking over his many buildings (signature colour is gold glitter) as his motorcade glides past, lights flashing.
We stopped along the way to eat a meal at a bar/diner called Red 58. It might have been breakfast or dinner, because it was 1:30 in the morning. By choosing appetiser size dishes we were able to eat most of what was offered. We have been warned about monster servings in the US.
Tomorrow is our first full sized bite at the Big Apple with our small Australian teeth.