Adventures in China & Hong Kong, Part 2
by Eric Hsu
Read Part 1 here: Adventures in China & Hong Kong, Part 1
With a population of approximately 7.1 million people packed into a small land mass just south of China collectively known as Hong Kong (HK), the city has a fast paced pulse that one can feel from simply walking down the street. It has all the simultaneous noises of a bustling metropolis including people talking at high volumes (Cantonese style so they sound pissed off all the time), the pnuematic release of a bus' air brakes, cars and taxis honking, and the squeaking wheels of an electric train. Then of course there's the HK version of the smells you experience in a bustling metropolis: the tinge of diesel lingering in the air, a sweet and savory smell of roasted duck hanging in the window of the restaurant near by, a slightly sour smell of some dark colored liquid running down the gutter of the street, and of course the mesmerizing scent of expensive European perfumes from the two hot chicks decked out in the latest fashion that just passed you three seconds ago. Ah yes, it's 2pm and Hong Kong and its people are at full speed. It doesn't really matter what time it is actually because it's virtually the same picture at 2am since HK never sleeps. The only difference at 2am would be the occasional sound of an exotic car or three driving through the city. HK has been called the financial capital of Asia and looking around at all of the high rise buildings, luxury/exotic cars, and people decked out in the latest fashion, I'd have to agree. Even some of the men carry Louis Vuitton man purses as an accessory.
Upon arriving to HK from China, I checked into the BP International hotel. BP was one of the more reasonably priced hotels that is new, clean, and located right smack in the middle of Tsim Tsa Tsui where a lot of the action is. The rooms aren't very big, but chances are you'll get a room way up in the high rise building and you'll have a pretty damn nice view of the city. All of the staff speaks English with a British/Cantonese accent so that makes life easier too of course. Overall BP gets a thumbs up from my Westernized ass.
Vincent at Merstartech was cool enough to hook me up with some of his friends, Timmy and Ivan, who both live in HK. Luckily another one of Vincent's buddies, Calvin, got me to BP from the China border without having to speak any Cantonese and Timmy was waiting for us at BP. Speaking Cantonese for me isn't a problem, but speaking Chinese at 90 miles per hour like the locals do is a problem. My non-automotive vocabulary is what slows me down some. Timmy isn't your typical HK citizen. Instead of being at 9000rpm on the intensity scale like most Chinese, he's actually pretty chill. He was part of the big city rat race, but he purposely took the job of a taxi driver so that he could have a flexible work schedule and spend more time with his friends and family. He's done it all: waiter, office worker, salesman, pit crew mechanic, electrician, construction, and others, but all of those jobs require that you do what the boss says. As a taxi driver he gets to meet people from all walks of life, choose his own work schedule, remodel his house himself, and drive around all day. Less stress = happy life he told me. Fortunately for me, he also loves to show visitors around since he gets to enjoy the sites of HK at the same time. Timmy used to work with Vincent for a Honda touring car team so he knows cars too. Having grown up in HK and being around cars a lot when he was younger, he also knows a whole bunch of people including some of the top HK tuners and builders.
After an excellent dim sum lunch, we walk out to the street where Timmy illegally parked his younger brother in law's mid-90's Peugeot 306. There was a parking ticket on the windshield, but Timmy shrugged it off and said that parking tickets were merely one of the taxes of living in HK. I was to find out later that everybody parks illegally and if you can't find a parking spot, you simply double park. Of course you roll the dice whenever you illegally park, but gambling is in the Chinese blood. Anyhow, the 306 was an unfamiliar car to me since there haven't been any new Peugeots in the US since 1989. My idea of a Peugeot was a turbodiesel 1988 505STI with a soot covered rear bumper so I thought the 306 was pretty cool. It was actually very roomy inside and can seat five adults almost comfortably even. Rear leg room is not an issue either.
Powered by a 2.0L 16 valve engine that cranks out 155bhp stock, this little car had plenty of torque. It has much more torque than a Honda, but lacks the top end of a Honda. That works out OK because in Hong Kong they race up the hills of Hong Kong island and torque is what gets you up the hill faster. Mid 90's construction means it is fairly lightweight too compared to today's boats.