If you want breathless, try Hong Kong. Millions of people crammed into an island the size of a pinhead. The noise is constant and the locals have never used the words personal and space together. People shouting. Horns tooting. Animals. Cars. Trams. Construction. Non-stop. Every hour of the day, and night. So you wouldn't want to live there, but a flying visit of high octane proportions can be handled for, say, a maximum of two days.


The old runway where you used to fly down and look in through the windows of skyscrapers is long gone. So you fly into a really high tech affair, and take an appropriately efficient train into town.  I was met by an old Geordie friend Fergie and his wife Sandra, and we sped past the lights and tall buildings to Central for beer and gossip about old times.


Sandra was to be my guide, and the following day we scaled Victoria Peak in the tram. The view up there is special. I looked down in wonder at how many skyscrapers had been built so close together on such steep terrain. From here you can see the Kowloon Star Ferry going back and forth, and soon we were on it ourselves, surveying the massive ocean liners that dawdle past the imposing waterfront backdrop.


After attempting to visit a museum which didn't exist any more, we went out for a truly international dinner. The cuisine was szcechuan, and among the guests were representatives from China, Kurdistan, USA, Australia, India, Canada, and Sweden. Even the Canadian was of Ukrainian extraction. So it was quite a melting pot. The food was incredibly spicy, which suited me, and the hostess concluded proceedings by singing a Chinese Revolutionary Opera (which did not). They must get through a lot of glassware in that restaurant, that's all I can say.


We then repaired to a nightclub where we drank till the small hours, at which point I hailed a cab. I deployed all my Chinese expertise by shouting Happy Valley at any vehicle that came my way.


"You smell of beer," declared the cabbie triumphantly.


"I should bloody well hope so – I've bought enough of the stuff," I replied.


"Is good smell!" he countered, and we sped off into the night.