24. Exposed: how Cruise would be ferried (if he lived here)

The heat is on, and that can only mean one thing on the island: it’s time to upgrade to DeLuxe class on the ferry, something my socialist affectations have been loathe to endorse until now. In fact, the 19 dollar price tag (£1.40) hardly suggests I’m going to find Salvador Dali and Mia Farrow munching on butterflies up here, or even Brad and Angelina promoting their latest wine, but the top deck, with its relentless air-conditioning and ‘superior’ view (i.e. layers of condensation through which it’s hard to make out the lesser, more interesting harbour craft) does have a moreish quality, especially in this weather. There is elbowroom, a table to work at, and a crewmember to tidy up all the sweat-clotted tissues it took to get this far.

Cruise and Chinese lanterns

Public transport is generally fantastic in Hong Kong, only ruined by one thing: other people (millions of them). Here in DeLuxe there are noticeably fewer of them; this is where the cool crowd hangs (an old man examines his McDonald’s breakfast suspiciously, a teenage couple stare at me with detached fear, a mother and daughter bicker softly). And it’s all very nice…for a while. But this isn’t a city that was ever meant to be enjoyed in (relative) isolation. Long before the ferry docks I have mentally braced myself for the next stage of my journey, involving as it does a march through ultra-modern Hong Kong station, amongst viciously elegant commuters, followed by a packed MTR ride.

Music at the ready, all systems go, I head below decks (inhaling the scent of hot metal and steaming armpits) from where I can beat the rush as we disembark. Here is where I used to belong: amongst ‘my’ people – the workers, dreamers and misers paying only 12 dollars a ride. A feeling of betrayal washes over me. What have I become? What do they think of me now? I look around to try and gauge the reactions of my old comrades (anger? indifference? angry indifference?) but find them difficult to make out, my glasses having almost completely steamed up due to the change in temperature.

De Luxe Ferry

Price: HK$19 dollars / HK$28 at weekends (one way)

Sea Miles: ask local operator for details