Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taipei
Just North of Hong Kong, and a handy stop over for the LSO’s next concert of the tour, Guangzhou is a bustling, steamy city, with much in the way of colonial architecture, and huge shopping centres. We go for Italian food, in a nearby restaurant that’s been recommended by our hotel.
Tonight’s concert is the last of the tour of China, and of the Rolls-Royce sponsorship, as tomorrow we are off to Hong Kong, where the concerts are sponsored by UBS. The concert itself is notable for the audience participation, in the form of someone’s instant replay of the end of the second movement of the Berlioz, before the reverberations had had time to fade, presumably on their camcorder. Later on, in the slow movement, (and bear in mind the pastoral nature of this), a mobile phone gives us some sort of woodland bird-song! Horn player, Angela Barnes says it sounds like her washing machine coming to the end of its spin cycle….it’s difficult not to corpse sometimes.
After the concert, by way of a celebration, Rolls-Royce has thrown a magnificent party on board a boat which takes us on a steady trip up and down the river. It is lit with yellow lanterns, and there’s fabulous finger food, and speeches are made, and it’s congratulations all round. In fact, it’s sad to leave, as the boat pulls in to the pier. But, lovely though it is, many of us are starving after a long evening, and all the calories burnt in the concert, and the only place open this late is the McD’s next to the hotel. So that about does the trick.
Hong Kong is a breathtaking place, day and night, and, though it’s wet when we arrive, it’s slightly humid, so wandering the streets feels breezy and warm. Where we stay is basically a huge shopping centre, and the idea of going to buy a razor fills me with dread, because I’ve been completely lost in there before, with far less specific things on the agenda. There are just so many floors of shops. I just hope I can get away with my unshaven look for tonight’s reception, again at the swanky China Club, over at the Mandarin hotel. This is fun to get to because you can get the ferry across the harbour. But most of us go by bus, hoping to do the boat later, on the way back. It’s a fantastic evening, with so many dishes, including Peking Duck, which seems to be a favourite with most people. Later in the evening, David Tang himself gets on the piano to play.
The next day is free, until the rehearsal and concert, so I hop over the harbour to Hong Kong island to meet a friend who lives there, and wants to show me around a bit. I spend a brilliant afternoon among the hundreds of restaurants and street markets, marvelling at the vibe of the place. We end up at Victoria Peak, which is the top of the mountain, basically, and has the kind of view a camera can’t really capture. Nonetheless, it’s there in the slideshow, to give you an idea.
At the time of my writing I’m looking at the tallest building in the world, from my hotel room in Taipei, where we arrived this afternoon, after another early start. I’ve spent the afternoon wandering round the electronic markets looking for bargains. I’m now taking full advantage of the lack of a concert this evening, by staying in, and having an early one.