I have just returned to Hong Kong after a week spent in London on business. A few random observations:
1. The flights in both directions were full with waiting lists for business class. Given how inflated business class has become, I can't see myself doing much flying in business class once I have to lay for it myself;
2. The parts of London I was in seemed to be doing well and there was a general feeling of optimism regarding economic prospects. As I was mostly confined to the better areas of central London and dealing with people from the top tax bracket who were either bankers or people who provide services to banks. The negatives were largely connected with government revenue grab and the on-going Euro zone issues;
3. There was universal pessimism about London's ability to be ready for the Olympics and considerable condemnation of the way the preparations have been managed;
4. London real estate is very expensive;
5. Even with 20% VAT many consumer goods are much cheaper in London than they are in Hong Kong - including made in China sports shoes (about 30-40% cheaper) and books;
6. I loved Foyles and Waterstones book stores - I really really hope these stores survive for the longer term (unlike many book stores in other countries which have failed I the face of digital books and on-line order facilities);
7. The much vaunted London curries were not as good as the ones I can get in Hong Kong. Tapas and pub food were much better;
8. The traffic was terrible (as usual);
9. The live theatre/entertainment/gallery etc space was fabulous.
Of course, all this is off the back of a small sample size - one vistor's business trip - but, on the whole, I was impressed and hope to spend more time there post retirement.