presented by Gaitpost Magazine

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hong Kong: Homeward Bound

Yesterday was our horse-free day. We were treated like the VIPs most of us definitely feel we aren’t, being whisked past line ups to see the many wonders of Ocean Park. For me it was all about the pandas, which put on a great show while we were there. Their play put to rest any suspicion that they are the sad little Eeyores their eye patches lead some of us to think. We spent the afternoon and some dollars at Stanley Market; before quitting for the day we knocked off one more tourist ‘must’ and checked out the view from the Peak. Fog and haziness are common enough up there that an enterprising young photographer stationed at the viewing platform offers to take your picture and then superimpose you onto a photo of the panorama taken on a clear day or night. We finished up with one more sociable dinner, this time at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. Hong Kong may no longer belong to Britain, but many of the habits and influences of those days remain very much alive. It’s one of the many characteristics that make it a fascinating place – physically, historically and culturally.

Today our group will scatter back to our homes, several of us to continue the hunt for information about spectator tickets for our respective countries. The company responsible for ticket sales for all events (not just equestrian) in Canada has not bothered responding to my email from several days ago. According to their website, all tickets for all events in Beijing are sold out. I don’t know about the other sports, but I am certain the eventing dressage is not sold out. It never sells out. The ticketing problem is the one thing that could stand in the way of complete success this summer, and unfortunately for the team of organizers here in Hong Kong, there seems to be little they can do about it, since it is out of their hands.

Any tickets allocated to foreign countries that don’t sell by a certain date will return to Hong Kong for local sales. There has been a huge initiative to raise interest in equestrian sports among the local population; I don’t think a host city of any major equestrian championship has ever invested so much in promoting the sport to its population. Horses are everywhere here, and not just in a specifically Olympic way; yesterday in a shop I saw a jumper on an advertisement for feminine sanitary products. I don’t doubt the stands will be full, at least on medal days, no matter how unavailable tickets are to people around the world. (If you are reading this and you have successfully procured tickets to the equestrian events, please get in touch with me – I would like to know how and when you managed it.) But it sure would be nice if the teams had some good cheering sections from their own countries.

So home again, home again, jiggity-jig. A big thanks and bigger tip of the hat to our hosts here in the land of vertical growth. It’s been a great week and I can’t wait to come back. Watch this space, and join me again in August, when I will return to this unique and vibrant city for the equestrian events of the 2008 Olympic Games (oops, I mentioned it).

No comments: