Come Fly With Me

When I retired from the government in December 2008, the first big change I noticed was that I was no longer jetlagged. As head of InvestHK, the investment promotion agency that we set up in July 2000, I had flown practically every month. In eight and a half years I clocked up no less than one and a quarter million air miles, a million with Cathay Pacific alone.

On the long haul investment promotion missions – North and South America, Europe, Australasia, India and the Gulf – the norm was to fly every day. Get to the first city on the weekend, work there on the Monday and at close of business fly to the second city to be ready to start there first thing Tuesday morning. And so on through the week until the final flight home late on Friday, arriving back in Hong Kong late Saturday or early Sunday (if coming from America).

After a while you get used to it, you build up a certain resistance, partly physical, partly mental, until being semi jetlagged is your normal condition. Suddenly not flying – going cold turkey as it were – was a struggle, but now I have got used to that too.

Which is what makes the last two months so strange. In early July I went to Wuxi for a couple of days. The original purpose was to prepare for some important business with the municipal government, but in the event that got put off to later in the year (so I'll have to go again). Mid month was the annual holiday with the tribe, this year to Spain and Portugal. Under instructions from the children who planned the whole thing, we covered Barcelona, Lisbon and Madrid in the fortnight. Flying every few days brought back some memories. Back to Hong Kong, then in August off to Macao for a few days. And by the time you read this we will have gone to Guilin for the wedding banquet of my second son, Victor. Just like old times.

Now I realize this pattern is by no means unusual and many Hong Kong people travel much more than I now do. On reflection though, it is a completely different lifestyle than people used to live a couple of generations ago. The world has moved on.