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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 44: 7 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysUp at six. Pay my bills and am asked, 'Taxi for airport, sir?' Glad to shake my head and notice momentary concern cross the faces at reception. Can one trust the credit card of a guest who doesn't travel by plane?

Eight o'clock at the Tai Kok Tsui ferry terminal, waiting in a queue beneath a sign 'To China'. Tour groups are pushed through ahead of us. Dishevelled and over-laden and in need of sleep we may be, but at least we're not in a herd. Ron and Julian have sacrificed a lie-in to come and say goodbye. We shuffle through. Final farewells. I shall be in Guangzhou this evening. Julian will be in Fulham. As we board our twin-engined catamaran for the 110-mile journey up the Pearl River I talk to Nigel Walters, our new cameraman. He thinks we're doing it right. Travelling by ship, I mean. 'At least your mind gets there at the same time as your body this way.' A customs inspection. 'No spitting', 'No smoking', 'Keep clean please', read the signs. An American girl is worried whether she'll get on. I ask her why she's going to China. She looks nervously around: 'I'm going to Beijing to collect some stuff'.

At 8.20 a.m. the ferry Long Jin pulls out into the hyper-active waters of Hong Kong Harbour. She was built in Norway two years ago and has a maximum speed of 30 knots. Soon we're passing the New Territories north of Hong Kong, leased from China in 1898 for a 99-year period. These are what will revert to China in 1997, and there is bad feeling here that Mrs Thatcher should have thought it necessary to include Hong Kong Island and Southern Kowloon in the deal.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 44
  • Date: 7 November
  • Country/sea: Hong Kong
  • Place: Hong Kong
  • Book page no: 142

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