Your correspondent has a confession to make. No, he was not involved in a great train robbery, nor has he been conducting a secret romance with an exotic dancer. No, this is something more embarrassing again. Today, Lai See is coming clean on a unique passion: the love of Kai Tak airport. And now, with just under four months of its active life left, we have decided to start a very unofficial period of mourning for a soon-to-be dearly departed that everyone knows. Not for us the breathless, eager countdown to the opening of the brand-spanking-new airport and all of its trimmings. We will be embarking on a much more funereal time-march: to the departure of a beloved old friend named Kai Tak. It is a love which started years ago, when your correspondent first stepped off the plane and into the fume-heavy atmosphere that pervaded the tarmac of the airport. The fumes did not emanate, as you'd expect, from the aviation fuel of the numerous jet engines around the airport. The smell's source was rather more banal, as many have discovered. It came from what else but the infamous Kai Tak nullah: that veritable haven for domestic sewage and industrial effluents, that gives visitors a 'smellodious' welcome every time they arrive in Hong Kong. We've subsequently been informed that the smell from the nullah was so strong that it corroded the computer systems of the Government Flying Service's two fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft - sapping millions of Government dollars purely in spare-part costs. Many have no doubt been turned off by this robust aroma, but for your correspondent, it was love at first sniff with his appreciation for life's more basic smells. Ever since that first encounter, he has loved things about Hong Kong's main port of call that no-one else could appreciate. From the incredibly sharp turn the planes make at the chequerboard, just a few hundred metres before they land, to the inevitable bus ride from your aircraft to the terminal, and when you finally emerge from customs, the big-time atmosphere of the scrum of people awaiting the arrival of their loved ones: coming in at Kai Tak is an experience unmatched by that of any ordinary landing point. It goes beyond being a purely travel-related experience, too. Nestled in the very heart of Kowloon, Kai Tak has become not merely an airport, but something which has helped to define Hong Kong as the ultimate metropolis. A city where even the planes are almost within touching distance. The new airport, for all of its undoubted benefits, will be noticeably more than a stone's throw away - and Hong Kong cannot help but suffer from the loss of the fly boys from the bustling heart of the action. Granted, hundreds of billions will no doubt flow into Government coffers from the sale of all the Kai Tak land, but can you imagine an airport-free Kowloon Bay, with nothing but the monotony of thousands of unit blocks as far as the eye can see? It's enough to send shivers up your correspondent's spine! And there are, of course, numerous other things we'll lose: The tales from the drunken, off-duty pilots of chequerboard misalignments and trying to put planes down at Kai Tak during a Typhoon 3 alert - which will slowly fade from memory. The seemingly interminable waits at the Kai Tak baggage carousels for our particular items of luggage - which, inevitably, has arrived just before we've been about to give up the ghost. Being peered at by Hong Kong's very courteous immigration officers under the airport's neon lights - the closest thing we could imagine to the atmosphere of a concentration camp. The long days and nights propping up the bar of the Hong Kong Aviation Club at Kai Tak, which is facing relocation next year because it is located on airport land. (For the record, an official we spoke to at the club this week said it was still trying to sort out a permanent venue - and given the rents at the new airport, that venue was highly unlikely to be Chek Lap Kok.) The ever-growing queue at the cab rank for a quick ride back to the comforts of home. The many, many instant coffee consumed at Kai Tak's opulent departure lounge while awaiting that flight to London or New York that was delayed for five hours because of 'technical difficulties'. And, finally, the weekend trips to Kowloon City to appreciate those magnificent, metallic beasts from ultra-close range - as they send washing on the area's rooftops flying when coming in to land. There are few, if any, more compelling sights. Adieu, Kai Tak. May your bustling, bittersweet and ever-so-fragrant memories live on far beyond July.