Lost in Mongkok

How the Nokia Discover China Driving Adventure came about

It was a bright and sunny day in January 2005. I was driving for the first time in my life a Caterham lent to me for a photo shoot by the boss of the Hong Kong Automobile Association (HKAA). Since I never drive in Hong Kong, I promptly lost my way on a side street of a district called Mongkok. These streets are narrow and lined with small stores whose wares spill out onto the sidewalks. Peering into the stores you see golden buddhas under red lights; more often than not, the buddhas' shiny foreheads reflect a bluish image of an always-on television screen. Looking up, where you expect to see the sky, you see instead laundry fluttering in the wind, television antennas erratically stabbing at the laundry, and air conditioners perspiring in an effort to provide a touch of comfort to the crowded inhabitants of Mong Kok.

It was 1o'clock in the afternoon when I lost my way. The roads and sidewalks were full of people, all in search of a quick lunch. When I am lost, I am absorbed with myself. So I didn't notice at first what was going on around me. But when at last I did, I was astonished: office workers in dark suits were snapping pictures of me and my car with their camera phones; elderly ladies looked upon us quizzically; retired men wore faces that betrayed dreams about could-have-beens; young ladies shed their aloofness and approached us; kids went gaga. But above all, they all smiled broad, indefatigable smiles. Which was when an idea shot through my head: 'What if I took a car like this into China?


The Many Helpers

An undertaking such as this needs many people.  What time and again amaze me is how many friends I've been able to make along the way and how much of their time they give with nothing in return other than, perhaps, the feeling of being part of something different.

I would like to thank Jean Cai, Cai Shang, Cao Long, Cheng Na, Andrew Cheung, Bensen Dai, Dai Yicong, Du Jianan, Chris Fjelddahl, Edward Guo, Stephen Han, Wanda Ho, Hera Hsiu, Huang He, Huang Zihao, Pietro Innocenti, Ji Haiming, Peilin Jia, Li Peng and Li Hongjiang, Li Wenyao, Li Xiang, Li Yinli and her family, Liang Yu, Lin Wenlong, Liu Hong, Liu Pengcheng, Wendy Liu, Daisy Long, Chander Oberoi, Andreas Pichler, Sebastian Piech, Tony Qin, Chen Qing, Yang Qiong and her family, Helen Sun, Mike Tang, Wang Hao, Ninie Wang, Alex Yan, Wang Shuwei, Wang Yan, Wei Liang, Wu Junhan, Xue Hong and his family, Ye Shanliang, Yi Fang and Yi Min, Yuan Yongxin, Ron Yue, Alex Zhang, Zhang Chun and his family, Frances Zhang, Zhang Mei, George Zhao, and Yu Zhou.

My deepest gratitude goes to a small number of people without whom this journey really would not have happened:  Peter Carmichael, Alex Key, Gong Li, Liu Zizhou ( 刘子周), James Stuart, Tan Suqing ( 谭素庆), Andy Tung, Patrick Zhou, and of course my staunchest supporter of all, my loving wife Angie.

I would also like to extend a special "thank you" to Dan Wong of Nokia whose willingness to take on the unusual and unwavering support has made this entire journey possible in the first place.   At last, I am also in debt to Karen Lee at Nokia who has worked tirelessly to make this journey a success and so helped to bring about its many benefits.


Bookmark with: