My husband and I lived in Hong Kong for a short while. I was working there for a large consulting firm, training juniors in my field of work, and my husband came along, as he likes to say, “to carry my bags”.
We had a ball while we lived in Hong Kong. There’s a difference between going to a destination like Hong Kong for a vacation, and living there. One must learn how to shop for food, get your banking done, find the dry cleaners — and the race track.
Our greatest pastime while in Hong Kong was to step out on foot (we did not drive a car while there – way too scary!) and just go — looking for an adventure to tell home about. One such day, we headed off and my husband suggested we go to the Happy Valley Racecourse and catch a couple of horse races.
The city’s chief recreational passion is horse racing. In fact, the city was basically built around the racecourse. On race days, it seems that everyone in Hong Kong is participating. Gambling on the horses is Pastime Number One in Hong Kong and it’s taken very seriously.
So travel back in time to 1990 — race day. Beautiful, sunny day. Track is clear. Nine million natives sitting in anticipation of the first race, and two “westerners”. One can feel the anticipation. The horses are strutted out to the starting gate – shoot, can’t see it. Too far away. The announcer says something in Cantonese. Shoot, can’t understand! The bells go off! The gates fly open! And they’re off!
The people are so friendly! Look how they’re all smiling at us. Is that woman pointing at us? Oh, they’re so happy to be sharing their race track with two visitors. Look honey, they are all laughing and smiling. Isn’t that neat? Where are the horses, anyway? I can hear their thundering hooves! Good grief, this track is huge! I just love the people here in Hong Kong! Don’t you?
We were looking in the wrong direction. Horses run clockwise in Hong Kong; counter-clockwise in the United States.
Westerners, please sit down.