Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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- From doomsday to Bloomsday - June 19, 2022
Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way, it’s the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66
– Route 66, Bobby Troup
I am writing this Blog on the day after inserting another entry into the folder of life marked ‘Advancing Years’. And while I’m not going to lessen my still-lingering celebratory mood (or improve the hangover) by revealing the details, I will offer a couple of clues.
For example, if a bingo-caller drew out the number coinciding with my age, he or she would almost certainly follow up with the words “clickety-click”. And for those of you who know nothing about bingo, King Power Group’s Sunil Tuli rather unkindly suggested that I should turn my birthday numbers upside down as I look more like 99.
That’s all the clues you get. Anyway, age is just a number runs the old adage – albeit one quoted mostly by the old aged. The depressing thing is that my number just happens to be rather a large one. Never mind, the brain still seems to function well most of the time – heck, occasionally it’s known to go into overdrive – and age and experience bring a kind of acceptance about life that can be devilishly hard to find in one’s younger years.
With COVID’s so-called fifth wave now shaping like something you might see off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii when surf’s up, my celebrations were necessarily limited in numbers. As in just 2 – my wife Yulim and I. Well actually not quite. Karli Cheng, daughter of King Power Group (HK) boss Antares Cheng and the latter’s faithful assistant Judy Yan put together a surprise zoom call to honour the occasion, featuring a whole array of 30 or so industry friends from around the travel retail globe.
Besides being a whole lot of fun (Happy Birthday and The More We Are Together sung in gloriously imperfect harmony), the occasion was a timely reminder of just how long it has been (over two years in many cases) since I have seen most of these people. Way too long.
Karli also runs a brilliant cakeshop in Hong Kong called Arte by Padaria , which creates and curates an eclectic range of made-to-order cakes that are as ravishing on the eye as they are on the palate. If you live in Hong Kong or want to send a gift to someone here, look no further.
Mine was All Blacks-themed and by the end of the evening I felt just like our national side against France and Ireland last year, right down to the last crumbs.
The reason for the virtual rather than physical birthday celebration was the current edict in Hong Kong that members of only two households can meet. As I often consider the global travel retail community a family of sorts, I guess we met the criteria.
Hong Kong is now staring at a nine-day lockdown sometime this month though I may just escape that (literally) by heading to Hainan next week if my visa comes through. That will spell a different type of confinement in the shape of a 14-day quarantine in Shanghai followed by a further seven in Hainan. But things are changing so fast here that’s it’s difficult to plan ahead.
Today I lunched with Dufry’s regional boss Pedro Castro, by common acclaim but particularly mine a very good man as well as a top-class executive, whom I have known for around 20 years. How time passes.
Pedro is just out of 14 days hotel quarantine after a trip back to Europe and we both agreed that it’s a matter of being patient in Hong Kong. Better times will come and history tells us that Hong Kong always bounces back strongly from crisis. His choice of dining spot was appropriately Spanish, the outstanding La Rambla at IFC mall, which besides offering delectably tasty Spanish cuisine, also provides magnificent views over Victoria Harbour towards Kowloon. The superb 2016 Pintia Toro from the acclaimed Vega Sicilia was the liquid icing on a very fine Spanish cake.
It is easy to fall back into a locked-down, locked-in mentality during the current troubles but I like to remind myself of the charms that Hong Kong offers. Each and every one reinforces my decision to stay here in the long term, well beyond the COVID crisis.
And so, onwards. In the blink of an eye, another year has come and gone with ungraceful haste. Or is it in the snap of one’s fingers? Clickety click. Here we go then. Time to get my kicks on Route 66.