I adore Hong Kong airport – every seductive curve and virginal white walkway of it. It is sheer aeronautical perfection. If it were a woman, it would be Penélope Cruz. Sadly, it doesn’t love me back. In fact, it hates me with a vengeance.
My suspicions of unrequited love were first stirred last year, when the airport shut the main departures hall bookshops where I would dreamily flick through magazines preflight, and replaced them with vacuous fashion boutiques for moneyed morons. I never bought the rumours that this was a political move to stop homebound mainland visitors snaffling up subversive literature. It was clearly a personal snub intended to deprive me of my essential in-flight reading (generally Mojo, Budgerigarand Razzle).
This autumn came the cruellest cut of all. The airport decided it’d had enough of me hanging limpet-like around in its cathedral-like spaces by nearly doubling the price of long-stay parking from HK$660 a week to a gasp-inducing HK$1,110.
Gone forever is the illicit pleasure of driving around and around Car Park Two searching for the last space at a taxi-trumping price of HK$300 for the first three days and HK$90 a day thereafter. Now, by some feat of inflation-defying logic, those prices are HK$470 and HK$160.
Why, oh, why, I howled, as I performed handbrake turns across the deserted car park, dodging balls of tumbleweed. It’s been five years since the last price rise, the Airport Authority later emailed me, and long-term spaces are in short supply. (“Were,” I corrected them.)
“We hope the adjustment can result in better resource allocation and encourage more travellers to use public transport,” they droned on. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s twaddle. It’s another cynical ploy to dampen my irrational airport ardour.
I trudged dejectedly into a Cathay lounge. Here at least was an oasis where I could feel loved, wanted – pampered even. Then, before I could order my first strawberry daiquiri, I heard Christmas carols tinkle cheerily over the sound system. It was October 10. Horror-struck, I fled.
The airport is a wanton mistress. First she took away my magazines. Then she took away my parking space. Now she wants to take away my sanity. To paraphrase 1970s one-hit wonders The Motors: Airport, you’ve got a smiling face. But you obviously want me to fly from another place.