Post from Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific is as good an airline as RyanAir is a bad one. The new 777 300 is a marvelous machine. Better than a 747 in myriad ways. More legroom in economy class. TV screen for each seat. 100, that’s 100 movies to choose from (I watched 4) and the 15 hours flew by. The airline just has a different approach from United, Delta, etc., which seem intent on pushing the cramped space, bad food, and overall mediocrity to almost the breaking point. All right, all right…

Made my way to the Royal Plaza Hotel, where I thought I had a reservation, but somehow did not. After 20 minutes, they gave me a room on the Executive Club floor. Woo-woo! I have seldom been in such a luxurious place. It’s excessive, and a bit embarrassing. The breakfast buffet is unreal. The towels are giant. A button opens the curtains. 4 huge pillows. TV, radio, CD player, game player, on and on. This is Corporate World International. OK, OK… Am I beginning to rant in my old age?

The printing plant (Paramount) is wonderful. From the first whiff of ink, the noise, the hustle, fork lifts flying around, the stacks of paper and printed jobs stacked on pallets, I’m in heaven. And here was the tiny homes book. We made a few adjustments on the first 8-page signature (backing off on the red), and from thereon the press men nailed it. I signed “OK” on each signature and by 10 PM last night I felt confident enough in the process and the guys to get a partial night’s sleep. Checking out of luxury headquarters this morning, will spend tonight in a small room at the printers and watch the signatures roll today and tonight. Oh boy! It’s good to be alive. I watch the incredible complexity of the process, in this case Mitsubishi sheet-fed 4-color presses, and the sorting, stacking, binding and trimming in disbelief. A big difference these days is the computer-controlled color adjustment.

Hong Kong is a spectacular city. Coming from San Francisco, I feel a kinship. Both cities on the water, both with a sparkle (although this is 7 times bigger). The verticality here is striking. The apartments are cities in the air. The subway stations are on many levels.

Lunch with 5 guys from the plant yesterday. Them to me: Do you use chopsticks? Hey, I’m a regular from Yee Jun’s and Sam Wo and sushi bars as I reach for the dim sum. There’s a difference between these guys and the press guys in mainland China (where I went for the printing of Home Work in 2004). They’re happier. They smile a lot. The guys on the floor of the plant all wear these brown shirts with Chinese lettering front and back and I’m trying to figure out how to get one.

Time to exit hotel, ride the subway, try not to get lost, and meet my guide Trevor, a HK native, who is chaperoning me through the process. More to come…

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

3 Responses to Post from Hong Kong

  1. My two most favorite cities in the world are San Francisco and Hong Kong and it has been that way since the sixties. I'm not really a city person but I could live in those two.

  2. Strangely I flew with RyanAir from Liverpool UK to Bergerac France 2 weeks ago for a total return price of about £30! Wasn't' looking forward to it but its was absolutely fine. Newish 737, non-reclining seats to stop the idiot if front from invading what small space you now get and good staff. No food but that's fine and everyone carried baggage into the cabin so straight on and off.

    Thought it would be crap but its was great value. However, rather fly Cathay Pacific like you!!

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