IFFR Hong Kong – the perfect finale to 2023!

So, belatedly, here’s our report from the wonderful meeting hosted by IFFR Hong Kong shortly before Christmas. Members came together from the UK, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and the USA for this extra special 5 day event organised by Hong Kong Section Leader Eric Chin, and his wonderfully enthusiastic team of Bee Chan, Nana Lui, Francis Shum, Eliza Fan and many others.

Day 1 saw us heading up to The Peak, from which we had views down over much of Hong Kong.  On one side, the busy centre of Kowloon.  On the other hillsides small towns and beaches.  Then on for lunch and a ride on the iconic Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour, to see the bustling city centre.

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Day 2 started with helicopter flights over Hong Kong from the Pan Pacific Hotel rooftop helipad, giving us a chance to see the old Kai Tak airport, where the cruise ships now line up alongside what was the main runway, and the checker boards used by pilots to judge their turn onto the final approach. 

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Then on by road, over the new bridge to Macau, where the ongoing Portuguese influence was striking. We had lunch beside the beach with carefully selected Portuguese wines, before a guided tour of old Macau, a drive around the casino district which arguably puts Las Vegas in the shade and an excellent fish dinner in the Galaxy Hotel/Casino.  Several IFFR new member inductions later, it was time to ride the fast ferry back to Hong Kong in time for bed.

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Day 3, Sunday, was a day for relaxing as we watched the racing at Shatin Race Course in the comfort of our own private box in the Hong Kong Jockey Club overlooking the track. This was due to the generosity of Rotarian Edmund Yue owner of several horses, two of which were running that day. It was my pleasure and privilege to be able to accompany Edmund, together with PWP Svend, into the owners enclosure to inspect one of his horses and to meet the jockey and trainer.  To everyone’s delight – and some surprise – it came in third, substantially improving the winnings of those wise enough to place an each-way bet on it.

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Dinner that evening back in the city, and in the company of the Rotary District Governor was another feast – complete with the largest Alaska King Crabs that I have ever seen! 

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Day 4, Monday, and it was a time for culture – and to exercise after all our indulgences.  After a waterfront Tai Chi lesson led by Eric Chin, we had our own private guided tour of key parts of the Palace Museum, a striking new building hosting multiple displays, ranging from recently discovered ancient Chinese treasures to works of art from European Masters.  Time to relax after lunch, before the “main event”- our original reason for visiting Hong Kong – the IFFR Hong Kong Christmas Party. 

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Through the kind organisation of IFFR member Hogan Loh, the Christmas Party was at the Hong Kong Aviation Club, China, on the site of the former Kai Tak airport.  Although fixed wing flying is no longer allowed, there are aircraft present, helicopter maintenance is still carried out and the club has recently invested in a state-of-the-art simulator.  Then on to the party.  A sumptuous feast, complete with traditional Turkey, more fine wines, a visit from Santa bringing gifts for all and some excellent (and some not so excellent) Karaoke. And, I’m delighted to report – the induction of nearly 20 more enthusiastic new IFFR members.  We were also joined by Aibo Tsai from Taiwan who had joined IFFR at the Melbourne Convention and who flew in specially for the evening.

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May be an image of 8 people and text that says "ROTARY CLUB HONGKGPN 角扶輪社 International Fellowship of Flying Rotarian Hong Kong Section Welcome World President George Ritchie and his team and Christmas Chr Party 4th Decemb ROTARY CLUB BRAEMAR HILL NAL HIP 實馬山扶輪社 G NS RG"
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Day 5, Tuesday, was the final day of the formal programme.  Leaving early by coach, we headed west to Lantau Island to visit the Po Lin monastery – and to climb the steps to see the Golden Buddha, so large it is visible for miles around.  And then return to the city by cable car – an exhilarating ride over the countryside – and far quicker than the journey by road.  All too soon it was time for our farewell dinner – but what a finale this proved to be.  We dined in the rooftop restaurant of the Murray Hotel on fine scallops and Wagyu beef, accompanied with Eric’s finest 2008 St Emilion Grand Cru Classé wines which Eric had had specially delivered for the occasion!  What a way to end such an unforgettable.

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A wonderful trip with memories that will truly last. Thanks go to Section Leader Eric Chin, and the team of Bee Chan, Nana Lui, Francis Shum, Eliza Fan and many others who helped to make it such a success!

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