Welcome to Flashback Friday – Where we share previously published articles which were reader favorites. Hope you enjoy this Friday’s article, originally published in March of 2013, about a wet slog through Hong Kong and a polite but firm refusal of service.
Sorry Sir – No Service For You
A personal story wherein I add another establishment to my list of
“PLACES WHERE I’VE BEEN REFUSED SERVICE”
Hong Kong is a truly amazing city – it offers something for everyone. I’ve written previously about the special city view from Victoria Peak (for related article). But there are occasions when poor weather happens – even in Hong Kong. And poor weather can have an impact on your Hong Kong event plans. I know from experience – It happened to me.
One fine evening on my China Trek, several friends joined me to explore Hong Kong at night. The plan was to simply wander, enjoying some of Hong Kong’s world famous experiences. We walked to the Star Ferry Terminal in Causeway Bay. The Star Ferry, a Hong Kong Institution, cruises back and forth across Victoria Harbor. There are actually two Star Ferry routes. We were “cruising” from Wanchai in the Causeway Bay area to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. It’s a quick trip, ten to fifteen minutes, but offers great views of the city. And the price? Well, at less than $0.50 US it won’t break the budget! (Of course for those over age 65 – it’s free.)
By the time we docked in Kowloon the rain was falling. But hey – what’s a little rain for a group of intrepid travelers? After all, we had a couple of umbrellas with us. Undaunted, we headed out for our walking exploration of Kowloon. We walked – it rained. We walked further – it rained harder. After a quick huddle for discussion we decided that it might be best to cut our walk a bit short. Did I mention – by then it was raining really hard? We headed off for our final planned destination – a visit to the Peninsula Hotel where we would dry off, have a drink and relax a bit.
We weren’t far from the hotel – it is only about two blocks from the Star Ferry Pier. We walked fast. Did I mention it was raining really, really hard? Two blocks turned into two very wet blocks. And there is this thing in Kowloon on rainy nights – traffic is TERRIBLE. And there is really no good way to cross these busy streets. In fact, there are railings blocking pedestrians from even attempting to cross. There we were, standing directly across this terribly busy street from the Peninsula Hotel, soaked to the bone, and there was absolutely no way to get to the hotel. So near – yet so far. So near – yet so wet. ( I did mention that there was a near monsoonal rain falling didn’t I?) We finally discovered that the way to get across this street is actually to go under the street – through the subway entrances.
By the time we emerged from the subway entrance on the “other side” of the street we were directly facing a side entrance to The Peninsula Hotel. Relieved, we dashed inside – finally out of the rain.
The Peninsula Hotel is a long standing landmark in Hong Kong (for history). It has played a significant part in Hong Kong events since it was built in 1928. Today it is a first class luxury hotel in the heart of Hong Kong overlooking Victoria Harbor. It maintains a British feel of refinement. High Tea is served in the lobby area in the afternoon. We had initially envisioned a drink at the famous lobby bar, aptly named “The Lobby”, as a delightful and somewhat decadent end to our walking tour of Kowloon. Now, after getting drenched on our walk, the idea of a good drink (or maybe two?) and a chance to relax and dry out seemed especially inviting.
Even though the Peninsula Hotel is a very popular location it seemed we were in luck. We spotted several open tables in “The Lobby” and headed in. We had only taken a few steps however, when we were intercepted by a member of the bar staff. After explaining we would like to have a table for drinks we were informed, in a very courteous fashion I must say, that “unfortunately” there were no tables available. Puzzled, we looked again. We pointed out a variety of open tables. But the staff persisted. He was very sorry, but there was simply no room for our party.
The picture started to clear for us. This was a very fine hotel, and our group – a very, very wet group of folks who were obviously not hotel residents – just didn’t – what shall I say – “fit in?” I did note that some of the patrons of the bar were very casually dressed – jeans, t-shirts, etc. So it wasn’t a matter of dress code. Probably it was the “wet code”. We were simply to wet to drink.
We knew we were beaten. No sense arguing – we were on their turf. And I must say that the hotel staff was very helpful to us in one way. When we informed them we would need to find a taxi they were extremely accommodating. They would be only too happy to help us to find a way to leave their hotel. They escorted us to the main entrance where they were able to immediately jump us to the front of the taxi cue- no wait! Truly amazing service.
Humbled, and still very,very wet, we slowly pulled away from the Peninsula Hotel. Our taxi passed a large number of striking Rolls Royce vehicles parked in the valet area. The Peninsula is indeed, a very fine hotel. We had anticipated that our visit would be memorable – and it was. But as it turned out, it was memorable in a slightly different way than we had imagined. It was a Hong Kong Rain Out!
In looking back on it now, I can see that we probably looked like a rather wet group of travelers. That’s because we were! So now I personally can add the Peninsula to my list of fine establishments where I have been refused service.
Wet or Dry ………….. Enjoy The Adventure!
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© 2017, Bruce W Bean, Ph.D. All rights reserved.