Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Happy Valley Racecourse

Flying Jet Airways is always a pleasant experience, be it within the country or abroad. I said it last year when I flew to US and I will say it again...over a period of time, Jet Airways will emerge as a world-class competition. Though I feel they have some more precious miles to go. Overall their service was nice, food was great as always but they could still build up on that and as I were to observe during the course of the next five-odd hours, they have certain areas to work upon.

I landed in Hong Kong on a wet Wednesday morning at the beautiful Hong Kong International airport. Immigration was a breeze, but we could see that the Swine flu has scared the shit of everyone there with almost everyone wearing a mask over their mouths and noses. And I thought only the Americans were paranoid!!! But no, I can understand why they won't like any chances. Infact it's a good thing. This is one of the many things that differentiates proactive nations like Hong Kong and US to the rest of the world; they just don't take unnecessary chances. Anyways, taking the airport express train, we were quickly zipping past Hong Kong's scenic suburbs and within 20 minutes covering a distance of 35 kms, disappeared underground and through the harbour, into Hong Kong's Central area. You can tell you are in a developed country when after landing into what seems like a city within a city of an airport, you take a superfast bullet train to get transported into the mainland within minutes.

We checked into the LKF hotel. After about an hour or so of bath and freshening up, we decided to start our HK exploration. So a quick but very elaborate lunch at Jimmy's kitchen was followed by a trip to the Stanley Market. Taxis are expensive in HK and it took us HK$105 to reach the place. Stanley Market residential area is one of the poshest places to live in HK and homes are vert costly here. The area is scenic and has the ocean for a view on one side and green mountains and water bodies on the other side. We took a quick stroll through the market, very Chinese with items like clothes, bags, toys, home furnishings on sale in a long and narrow row of small to very small shops. It's a great place if you want to buy gift items to give away to your loved ones once you return back home or souvenirs or even house-hold items like, say, bed-sheets, table-cloths, etc.

The official activities kick-started in the evening with a visit to the Happy Valley Race Cource; Hong Kong Horse Racing Jockey club followed by a dinner there. Now, just so that you know, this is an elite club and they have a very strict dress code. We were forewarned about it, so we knew just exactly what to wear and what not to wear. Denims and round tees are a strict no-no. Smart casuals or formals are allowed. I am told that if one does not follow the dress code, one will not be allowed to enter the club. I was dying to see how the person at the entrance would observe us to check our dress-code compliance....it sounds comical as I think of it. Anyways,nobody was in a mood to experiment; its always better to be safe than sorry.

Once in, the festivities started. Drinks were served and the Indian group mixed with the Taiwanese group, at the same time engaging in talk with our lovely hosts. Few guys also indulged in betting; the rock star won a few dollars, so did a few others, rest lost. Dinner was elaborate and it was an evening well-spent, though at the end of the day, we were all very, very tired. The hosts were very gracious and as it would turn out over the next two or three days, we could all learn from them how arrangements are to be made and what it takes to become a magnificent host than being just a good host.

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