We landed in Hong Kong in the mid-morning on our British Airways flight from London. We navigated our way out of the airport and onto the airport express train that took us in to Kowloon, in the centre of the Hong Kong city. We had help booking a hotel from Jacqueline’s mother’s friends in Tsim Sha Tsui, and they met us there to help us check in, bringing along a vast selection of fruits and cup noodles. We were thankful but exhausted and wanted to get changed into some lighter clothes to deal with the humid heat.
We headed down to the waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui, and walked along to view the tall buildings on the other side of Kowloon Bay. It was the quintessential view of Hong Kong. After a while, we returned to our hotel. That evening, we headed out on the MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui to Sai Wan Ho, where were meeting with Jacqueline’s mother’s extended family, including her rather elderly grandparents. Between them all, their English was not that good, so Jacqueline needed to translate much of the conversation from Cantonese. Jacqueline had specifically ordered in wintermelon soup, usually a seasonal dish that she was craving. For the main course, we had a selection of traditional Cantonese food, to which Jacqueline’s grandparents praised my chopstick skills and lambasted hers. The conversations were so rapid and changed topics quickly, that I could hardly keep up. Before I knew it, the dinner was over, and we were heading on the MTR back to our hotel.
At the insistence of Jacqueline’s mother’s close friends, we would spend most of the next day at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. We had to bring along semi-formal clothes for the occasion, unfortunately, most of my formal shirts are designed thick for the cold, English weather and not to be thin and breathable for the sticky Hong Kong heat. We walked to their apartment, a short distance from our hotel. They greeted us and showed us around, telling us many anecdotes of what would be the day ahead. From there, we got into their car and drove a short distance north to the Sha Tin racecourse, one of two racecourses operated by the Jockey Club.
Jacuqline’s mother’s friends were regular members, and had booked a table for us in one of the betting halls alongside a window overlooking the race track. It felt a lot like the business class lounge at an airport, but instead of screens showing flight information, they were instead showing betting information. There was a buffet bar with some really nice food, and the chef came out to offer Sam a very large pile of seafood. Jacqueline and I had some of the nice steak from the buffet. It was clear that they was keen on betting, as he had a massive pile of papers and a system worked out on his iPad. I was happy to just watch the horse racing. There were various different events on both the grass and dirt track, of varying distances. Some of the events were close, others were not. I had never been to the races before and was happy taking in all of the experience.
After the races, they drove us back into the centre of the city, dropping us off by our hotel. After a short break, we went out to meet Evelyn, one of Jacqueline’s friends from elementary school who was now living in Hong Kong. We went out and walked around Kowloon Park, which notably featured a bird aviary featuring Australian sulphur-crested cockatoos. We also walked around the Hong Kong Discovery Centre, which showed exhibits on the history of Hong Kong. But for Jacqueline, the exciting part was to head out to the street markets to get some traditional Hong Kong style street food: bubble waffles, bubble tea and a street café. This made Jacqueline very happy.