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Master’s Weekend in Hong Kong

Our Senior Warden (Sir Vivian Ramsey) was among the 30 or so members and their wives/partners that attended the Master’s Weekend in Hong Kong during April.  He reminisces about that weekend . . .

“When the Master first suggested a weekend in Hong Kong it was thought that a few intrepid travellers might join him and the Mistress in this far flung part of the former Empire. In fact they were overwhelmed when all the Wardens and their partners accepted and, as the numbers swelled to 27, the capacity of the venues was reached.

The weekend started on the Thursday evening (11 April) when a reception was held in the International Commerce Centre (ICC) which dominates the West Kowloon skyline. With 118 floors, it is the tallest building in Hong Kong and the 11th tallest building in the World. CA Deborah Pullen and the Building Research Establishment Trust assisted the Company in presenting interesting topics from the Built Environment professions working in Hong Kong – including the importance of Feng Shui in the design of buildings. After the event many of the group decided that the night was still young and tried out the other attractions of Hong Kong. Some retreated to recover from jet lag!

The next morning, as smooth as clockwork, a coach arrived to take the group to prison. Not a result of the previous evening but a visit to the Tai Kwun Heritage buildings which were formerly a prison and police station (which the Senior Warden remembers – don’t ask!) but now house a new centre for the arts and museum, after the Hong Kong Jockey Club refurbished it for HK$3. 8 billion. Friday was completed by a formal dinner in the splendid surroundings of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Happy Valley where we were honoured to have Mr S Lam, Permanent Secretary for Works and Mr Robin Lee, Chief Asst. Secretary at the Hong Kong, SAR Government who provided an interesting insight into the state of the Hong Kong Construction Industry and its health and safety record. We also welcomed guests from Ap Chau Island at the dinner.

Saturday morning saw another early start. Some decided to take a day to explore parts of Hong Kong, whilst others joined a tour to Lantau Island. After crossing three bridges which are feats of British Engineering we arrived at a crowded cable car station. We were whisked past the crowds and embarked on the cable car ride to the peak to see the Buddhist Monastery and giant Buddha. The deluxe cars obligingly had glass floors for the faint hearted and the ride was made more exciting by startling sideways movements as the cable cars swayed in gale force winds. After gaining land legs, people identified statues to match their years of birth (pig, rabbit, tiger etc) and ascended to the Buddha. Then a charabanc took us to the Tai O fishing village, a quaint fishing village with dried fish, narrow streets and many street sellers. We embarked upon a speedboat for a trip round the houses on stilts before heading out to sea at great speed and a lively soaking of sea spray, seeing the islands on the Hong Kong to Macau causeway and a police station converted to a hotel – perhaps the Hong Kongers are very law abiding.

The Master and Wardens at the Black Tie Dinner

That evening we had a very memorable black-tie dinner at the Hong Kong Club in Central – saved by the Master from having the basement squash courts turned into swimming pools by water ingress! We were graced by the presence of Frances Moffett – Kouadio, Trade Commissioner at the British Consulate and her husband. Conversations went on long into the night!

Early the next morning the charabangs were ready to take us to the port where we embarked on a 90 minute trip with members of the Master’s Church community to Ap Chau (Duck Island) passing through a geological and UNESCO heritage area. At Ap Chau the Company was welcomed by a traditional dragon boat dance and then refreshments before we sat down for an event to celebrate the restoration of Ap Chau after the devastation of a recent cyclone. Many speeches were in Chinese but one of the church community, now living in Hong Kong, provided a masterful translation with his perfect Scottish lilt. The event ended with the Master presenting a plaque to mark the visit and then the Master gave a speech which was loudly applauded as he broke into song in Chinese to be joined by the audience – to be repeated at the next dinner? We then had a traditional lunch before visiting the story room to see the history of the island since it was populated in the early 1900s by seafaring Chinese. After exploring the island and taking part in a dragon boat dance, including percussion from the Wardens, we embarked again for the return journey.

More was to follow. In a room off a crowded restaurant in East Kowloon the Mistress’ family helped to organise a sumptuous seafood banquet with Alaska crab and as many courses as the guests could remember. The evening was rounded off by a demonstration of fish footwear by CA Deborah Pullen.

Those who attended were provided with a weekend not to be forgotten and we cannot thank the Master and Mistress and their family enough for the care, time and attention which went into organising a superb event. Did I mention that there was mist and rain – we did not notice it in the warmth and sunshine of the people that weekend.”

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