Thursday, January 13, 2011

A refugee from Bankerland

A chum who's a Master of the Universe was in town for meetings this week, so we arranged to see him for dinner tonight. Last time we did this, he told us he'd be out at 6 and appeared at 9, and wise to this, we didn't turn up until 8:20. By which time the poor chap had been standing in the International Finance Centre mall for ten minutes, destitute of purpose, hungry, and having to return to his meetings at 9.

To make the most of the short time we had together, we traipsed around IFC for ten minutes in search of Rei, a Japanese restaurant. Up the escalator we went, over to the map, down the escalator, round the mall, up in a lift, back to the same map, discovered we'd been on the wrong floor before, walked towards where Rei is, could only see Starbucks, prepared to abandon all hope, jinked left, located Rei. For an enormous, shiny shopping mall with cavernous spaces everywhere, IFC is rather labyrinthine.

Rei is ok as far as tempura, teppanyaki and sushi go, except you're paying for the view across the harbour, so everything is a small fortune and of only serviceable quality; tempura was a bit too deeply fried, asparagus wasn't quite asparagussy enough, there was too much ice in the tofu salad, and so on. If it sounds like I'm grasping at straws well perhaps I am, but 1,000 HKD for three people for an ok-ish meal is a bit too expensive.

Still, there was the view of the harbour, which is all when and good but when you haven't seen one of your friends in months, I think it's better to pay attention to them than to nearby architecture. Whatever. Maybe I was a bit worn out and thus unappreciative of Japanese minimalism.

It then transpired that since he arrived here on Monday, until he flies out at the end of the week, our friend hasn't left the building. There's a walkway from the Four Seasons to the mall, and there's no opportunity or need to interact at all with the outside world. Given he flew in on a plane, walked up an air conditioned corridor into the airport, boarded a train that took him right to the basement of the IFC, it's as though he's just been inhabiting some sterile underworld for the week, a country without borders, the odd state of Banker Land.

There's little pollution, but it hardly seems worth coming all this way, if you're not going to get taken to Shek O by a mistaken taxi driver, or ride an escalator halfway up a mountain, or stand in TST and stare at some office buildings turn their lights on and off.

Although if those really were the best tourist attractions we can think of to encourage people to visit,we'd have problems. Luckily, we also have the world's smallest Disneyland, trams, lion dancers and stinky tofu, so it'll probably be alright.

Then again, maybe that's why he's staying indoors.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Well-observed and very amusing.

Mr Cushtie said...

Thanks. As I discovered today, the poor chap was trapped in the building working until the Monday, so despite our best attempts to extricate him at the weekend, he really did never see anything outside of the hermetic environment of the airport-train-IFC-train-airport complex...

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