Kung Hei Fat Choy, is a Cantonese Hong Kong greeting that many people
say at Lunar New Year.
The words mean “wishing you to make
lots of money or a fortune.”
Lunar New Year begins this week on February
“The Year of the Ox” celebration
continues for 15 days.
Beyond The Lockdown
But we are locked down during COVID-19 and
going out for almost anything, let alone dining, is currently not an option.
But we, in this air cargo business are dreamers
So relax and dream a little dream about
post-pandemic life returning to some kind of normal.
It is apparent to almost anyone traveling
on business that there isn’t enough time to enjoy authentic local
Dinner that hasn’t been worked into
the business schedule becomes an after-thought, a quick twelve-dollar
burger served on a tray with a moist towelette in some forgotten hotel
We are so quick to let business travel spoil
the excitement that comes with going to a new place. The town you’ve
been zipping through for the past couple of days could be the grist for
your memory’s mill, and sometimes culture shock can be cathartic.
At the very least, a side step journey into
town can afford a little life experience and a few polite conversations
with the locals.
Never A Gloomy Sunday
I recall a Sunday alone a couple of decades
ago at the downtown Mandarin Hotel in Taipei, right near Nanking Road.
The Mandarin was a crew hotel. Pilots and cabin crew have a reputation
of being tight with a buck.
Most pilots like to maintain a fairly high
profile lifestyle, while cabin crew never has any money. Sometimes I think
cabin crew invented stew. They always seem to be planning potluck dinners.
The old joke: “Hey, this food tastes
different. Did somebody wash my bowl or something?” barely affords
a chuckle from these chowhounds.
The Taipei Mandarin was always a good buy.
The place was clean, if a bit faded. The restaurant served Chinese and
American breakfast around the clock, which is always a good bet.
The Mandarin was also equipped with a staff
of husbands and wives who seemed to live and tend to individual floors.
You were sure a gracious staff member would
see you to your door following check-in, and it was no surprise when your
arrival was heralded with hot tea and cookies.
Once I stumbled into my room after a 19-hour
flight and jumped straight into the shower, only to discover my disheveled
heap of clothes had been neatly pressed and hung.
Lots of expatriate fliers and business types
stayed at the Mandarin.
Anytime, day or night, Sky King is meeting
under the gaze of Terry and the Pirates and Smilin’ Jack, all comic
book heroes of 1930-40’s aviation.
After arriving late one Saturday and working
all of the next day on a story, I decided it was time to get out. The
T.V. was rattling on in Chinese and English alternatively, about some
sporting event that no longer held my interest. I decided to take a walk
to find something to eat and maybe pick up some bottled water.
It was drizzling lightly, a warm, early
spring evening. Sundays anywhere are the same.
It doesn’t really matter where you
are in the world. There will be more places open on the day after the
apocalypse than on any given Sunday.
I stopped at a small restaurant that looked
busy. Business in a restaurant is a good sign in any country. The first
thing I noticed was how the place smelled. This joint smelled great.
A couple of beers and a plate of fried rice
later, I left my small side table completely satisfied.
Around the corner from the restaurant I
found a group of people laughing and joking in the staccato tics of quick
and easy Chinese conversation. For a moment I thought that I had missed
the place the cool crowd supped. I felt a need to get the name and address
of said cool place so that I could return at a later time. I began to
make my way to the group.
It was then that a familiar sign struck
me, a sign emblematic of gaudy, tacky Americana: the flashing red and
white striped logo of T.G.I. Fridays. I laughed, and wondered if my joke
was funnier than the joke shared by the cool crowd. I had not come halfway
around the world to eat burgers and fairy food.
Get More Out Of Life
Now, whenever it’s time to hit the
road again, I think of that damp Sunday in Taipei. It reminds me to get
out and experience more of the local scene.
I always wonder about people who come to
New York from other parts of the world insisting that the best restaurants
are in Manhattan, simply because they’ve read that somewhere.
Let’s set the record straight.
Anyone can read a review and fork over a
lot of cash. The Chinese restaurants in Flushing, New York offer a variety
of exceptional choices.
The idea after the COVID-19 has not changed.
Have a little fun.
Think about everything you do.
What are you getting out of living this
Wherever you are, make some time to get
out, get fed, have some fun and not get stuck paying through the teeth.
Try something new, even if it’s in
Live a little.
You may not pass this way again.