4AM. Gnnaaeee. What is that sound? Gnaaeee. Jetlag. It is that combination of dehydration, compressed eyes and throbbing head. Gnaaeee. There is no escape, even CNN or Discovery Channel can’t hold my attention. 4:02 AM. 4:02:09 AM. Gnnaaeee. Perhaps a chocolate bar or a tin of peanuts will help. No. Great, now I feel sick.
5.something AM. Let’s go for a walk. The man at the lobby (a lobbyist?) nods me good morning. He knows my type.
Hong Kong in the early morning, before anyone else is up, is like Disneyland before the gates open. The streets are deserted except for early Tai Chi adepts fighting off shadows. A few shops begin to open up and best of all, the Star Ferry is queue-less and the best seats are free.
There are few things I like better than walking around cities like Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore etc. I can walk for many miles with the sweat pouring of my back. I don’t mind. In other places I would pay to sweat but here it is included.
I find my way around the flyovers and car-only lanes. Traffic is slowly increasing and people in business suits and school uniforms appear quietly. Automatons, really. I find a short cut through a mall with shops mostly shut and when I come out at the other side, I find what I have been unconsciously looking for: Starbucks.
Well, this one is called “Pacific Coffee Company” but they’re all the same. Order here, pick up there. Read wall menu for 10 minutes to locate a black coffee. Tall is small. Pick sweet bun from glass display. Find cosy leather seat and read one of the shared newspapers.
There are already a few students here. They buy one drink and spend the rest of the morning working on their netbooks. Sometimes it’s hard to find a seat but they don’t seem to mind when I join them.
This Starbucks is on the edge of a park. Typical chinese. Typical Beijing. They come in and build a massive mall and transform a wasteland into a weekend attraction. More Disneyland. Where is the real world?
Coffee has improved a lot over the last 2 decades in England but I still go to Starbucks to be on the safe side. I’m not the only one to think so as the place is worn out and dirty for all the traffic it gets. Every chair is damaged and the best you can do is buy a take out and walk down to the Cross to drink it. You even get a lovely view of Chichester cathedral.
This is not a Starbucks. This is my local café where I stop on the way to work. A nice view of lake Geneva and the waitress knows my order before I place it. I can only have something different when it is her day off.
Off to work. I don’t want to. The company I work for is closing down. I’d rather be anywhere else. Some Starbucks somewhere. Auckland perhaps. That’s far enough. New York. Mmmh.