Regular listeners to Orange Ribbon may recall that i was planning to be back in Hong Kong again from late this week, until 9th September. Well, I did the program with Hugh on Wednesday evening last (20th August), then Thursday morning I headed off to Tullamarine airport to catch my flight up here to Hong Kong. It was a bit of a bumpy ride, as we were pre-warned at the outset of the flight, due to a typhoon (cyclone as we know them in Australia...) in the South China Sea. But finaly landed in Hong Kong at 6pm last night (Thursday) and headed to my hotel.
What I did not know until after I arrived at my hotel, was that the typhoon was actually heading straight for Hong Kong, and so all through today (Friday 22nd August) there have been regular typhoon warnings and advice (on TV and radio) to the public to basically stay indoors.
I have never been in Hong Kong before during a typhoon, so was not quite sure what to expect. But it was certainly a very unpleasant day today, with public transport shutdown, most people not going to work, most shops and businesses closed, and the roads in Hong Kong (which are normally VERY VERY busy, were absolutely DEAD! I have never seen anything like it in Hong Kong before.
Take a look at these shots which I took earlier this morning BEFORE the main force of the typhoon passed over Hong Kong.
The windows to my hotel entrance were all taped up, there was literally NO traffic on Nathan Road with the exception of the very occasional car or taxi, no buses this afternoon at all, and virtually no people on the street.
Just 35 metres up Nathan Road from my hotel, a very large illuminated advertising sign came crashing down onto the footpath and onto Nathan Road itself, making a huge mess. Members of emergency services soon arrived to "fence off" this area, and to try and make the crash site as safe as possible under the circumstances. It was a big mess, and a very large sign, which (as far as I could tell) was a large Spaghetti House restaurant sign.
(Postscript: By lunchtime Saturday the "crash site" mess had been totally cleaned away, and by Monday (3 days later) a new large replacement sign was being erected. Things happen FAST here in Hong Kong.)
Mid evening this evening (Friday) my friend and I decided to go out and see if we could find somewhere to eat away from the hotel. But to no avail. Firstly because it was blowing an absolute gale, with strong blustery rain absolutely belting down, and secondly, it became very clear very quickly that there was absolutely nothing open anywhere in our immediate vicinity in Nathan Road.
As my hotel is located above one of the train subway (MTR) stations, we went down into the subway and found a 7-Eleven still operating, so all we were able to get for dinner this evening was some sandwiches, and some flavoured milk and fruit juice.
So... it's very lucky that I flew up yesterday instead of today, because most flights into Hong Kong International were cancelled this morning, and by this afternoon ALL flights had been cancelled.
I have been to Hong Kong many times over the years, and even spent upwards of 5 months here in just the past 18 months. But this is the first time I have ever encountered a typhoon in Hong Kong. Very interesting experience...!
Now... my next duties (once things settle down again over the weekend...) is to try and catch up with a couple of people with whom I have organized interviews that I will present to you, our listeners, after I return to Melbourne next month. See you all very soon.
Allan Smales (On holiday in Hong Kong... again!)