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Edgardo Sarao

The Jeepney Experience

Unlike Kuala Lumpur’s traveller-friendly, architecturally beautiful and comfortably modern international airport, Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok Airport is a glass and chrome high-tech disaster. This futuristic eyesore will be very convenient for space travel 20-30 years from now. The remote airport check-in facilities at both Hong Kong and Kowloon are excellent, possibly the best one has seen, but even high-tech facilities need comfort as a prerequisite for passengers and it would be nice to have, among other things washrooms, not only in the proximity of the platform but on the train itself because of the 20-25 minute high speed ride to the airport on Lantau Island. The train, with a TV screen for every seat, is an Orwellian dream (or a nightmare without a washroom), the environment is squeaky clean. Both at the remote check-in facilities and the airport, modernity does not condone signposting. From the check-in desk to the train, we twice lost our way within the station, when we got to the airport and despite the rather ambiguous map on the back of the boarding card it took us 45 minutes of walking around in circles before making it to the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge, no help from airport or airline staff who looked as confused as us or probably acted that way, that being the accepted Hong Kong attitude. One was happy to note a PIA vis-a-vis CAA similarity in relationship, when asked why prominently placed signs did not indicate the way, the Cathay Pacific representatives lamented that the airport authorities would not allow it. Who says petty bureaucracy departed with the British in 1997? Except for honourable exceptions Hong Kong residents are generally ruder than ever before. In the “competitiveness” potential, they have rightly slipped from 1st to 6th place in the world. With mega-cities like Singapore and Tokyo, with Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai and a lot of other developed cities coming into line rapidly, Hong Kong will find it hard to stay the course ten years hence unless HK residents get over their severe attitude problem. In any case Shanghai is the future commercial capital of Asia as it once was, the new enclave of Pudong is a high-tech marvel, but comfortably so.