I remember planespotting with some friends 8 or 9 years ago, seeing which pilots managed the best landings - after all, all pilots had to get special certification qualifying them to land at Kai Tak. The Cathay and Dragonair pilots were easily the most adept at the complex maneuver; the worst I saw that day was an Alitalia pilot that just about missed the runway and pretty much banged his wing on the tarmac.
Given the sewage-like quality of the water of the surrounding harbour, the smell would be immediately evident upon touchdown. I always loved the quote in James Clavell's Noble House, set in the 1960s. When the Americans landed at the airport, one asks what the smell is, and the other says: "That's the smell of money."
Those of you with a more poetic bent may like this poem by Andrew Parkin in his excellent volume with Lawrence Wong entitled, "Hong Kong Poems" by Ronsdale Press. I highly recommend the book, based upon this excerpt from his "Descent to Kai Tak International Airport" for your benefit:
By Andrew Parkin
Islands stick to the sea
green or brown shells
sanded around the edge
limpets and barnacles it seems
sucking the smooth turquoise paint job
of the ocean's hull.
and no longer upturned painted hull,
where flocks of ships have perched
to drape their long white feathers astern.
and tip the continent aslant
finding the sea urchin city
pointing glass spines at the huge reddened sun.
We swoop above the lurching decks of shadowed junks
and then wheels spin with a puff of burnt rubber
on the long hall carpet of tarmac.