First impressions. Everyone has them.
In my teens, when I thought of Hong Kong, I didn’t picture burnt-red sampans or jungles of neon signs jutting from restaurants, bars, and massage parlors. No, when I thought of Hong Kong back then, I thought of Connaught Centre, also known as Jardine House.
At its inception in 1972, Connaught Centre was the first skyscraper in Hong Kong–and the tallest one in Asia. (Then in 1980 Hopewell Centre became the tallest building in Hong Kong).
I loved Connaught Centre for its circular windows, immortalized as Pierce Brosnan’s office in the 1988 mini-series, Noble House. While the novel by James Clavell took place in 1963, the television show was set in the 80s.
The thought of seeing 1963 Hong Kong on the small screen puts goosebumps on my arms. But if the mini-series had been set in the 60s, Pierce Brosnan wouldn’t have been able to pace his office with the round windows in the background.
Like most new buildings, especially those with novel design concepts (eg, round windows), controversy and criticism abound. Connaught Centre’s claim to fame is that it’s also nicknamed the House of a Thousand Arseholes, referring to both the window shape and the hoity-toity taipans who work there.
It was after hearing about my grandparents’ trips to Hong Kong (they saw Connaught Centre during construction and upon completion) and watching Noble House that I wanted to visit Hong Kong. I even imagined marrying a real taipan, someone as dashing and crafty as Pierce Brosnan’s character. Okay, so things worked out a bit differently.
At least I made it to Hong Kong.