Allow me to digress from my current If I’m So Smart series.
I went to Hong Kong this past weekend, just Saturday through Tuesday, a quick break. Here’s what I did.
Saturday night, a party with a group of good friends, 4 or 5 hours hanging out in Joe Bananas drinking, eating, talking, followed by a 3 AM late night supper with my wife at Hay Hay.
Sunday, brunch at the Wanchai branch of Le Pain Quotidien. My wife was disappointed that there wasn’t more smoked salmon on her herbed farmer cheese and smoked salmon tartine but I was 100% happy with my “Tuscan platter” (4 different kinds of salumi and ham, ricotta cheese, sundried tomatoes and an amazing black olive tapenade). The price was reasonable – for Hong Kong. I could go to Paul’s or Passion or Dean & DeLuca (or probably half a dozen other places in Manila that I don’t know about yet) and eat a similar range for half the cost, but without the aggravation known as “traffic.”
Then some shopping, mostly picking up some items at the Wanchai Computer Centre (much bigger selection than “cyber malls” in Manila and generally lower prices).
Sunday dinner, nothing remarkable.
Monday, I picked up a new backpack that I’d ordered from Amazon, the Everki Versa. (Odd. I paid around US$170 for it, plus shipping. Now it’s out of stock and once back in stock, it’s US$123 but only available for sale to Amazon Prime members.) I had it shipped to a Hong Kong address because getting it shipped to Manila would have meant an additional US$50 in customs and taxes.
Also on Monday I had to get from Causeway Bay to the ICC tower, and that took me 20 minutes. Traveling that kind of distance in Manila would have taken me at least an hour, maybe two.
Monday night, dinner at the oddly named Spanish restaurant The Optimist. We had zero complaints about our Jamon Iberico, Gambas a la plancha or the flat iron steak with chimichurri sauce, though I wasn’t impressed with the sauce for their Clams Almejas in salsa verde. A very comfortable place to sit for a couple of hours, great staff, we really enjoyed it. The price, again, “good for Hong Kong.”
Tuesday, Airport Express, 23 minutes Central to the Airport. Coincidentally my (second) ex-wife was transiting the airport at the same time so we had a brief reunion while waiting for our flights.
It’s kind of funny. I lived in Hong Kong for almost 20 years. I still work in Hong Kong. But these three days were stress free and totally felt like a vacation.
Then back to Manila. I came out of the terminal and traffic was backed up for miles. It was not moving at all. I got an Uber within one minute – because the guy had just dropped someone else off and was waiting there, stuck in traffic. It took an hour and a half for us to go 12 miles.
Now that I’m back home, I’m faced with a new traffic scheme, starting tomorrow, in which I will not be able to enter or exit through the main gate of my village because the idiot TPMO in Pasig is trying some new experimental traffic “scheme” that bans cars from the surrounding streets – Monday, Wednesday and Friday if your license plate ends in an even number, the other 4 days if an odd number. Instead of going out through Pasig, I have to exit through Taytay, where the traffic is already at a standstill every day due to construction work on a bridge and incompetent traffic enforcers and too many people who don’t know how to drive. On those three days a week, it would now take me one hour to get to the supermarket that is normally 15 minutes away, 2-1/2 miles from my house. To say I am unhappy about this is an understatement.
My friends in Hong Kong think that Manila is starting to get to me. I’m having an increasingly difficult time debating that point with them.