" Hong Kong Mini Reunion Summary "
By Bill Stork
December 14, 2005
Bill welcoming our group
Photo by Skip Dechert
I am so lucky to enjoy being an alumni volunteer. How much I delighted in being able to share with classmates this city of Hong Kong which I now call my home. Jasmine (my better half) came to ask me how I had put together the mosaic of events that constituted this Mini Reunion of the Class of 1962, and I responded that I had based it on past experience, from both my stint on the AYA board of Governors and as president of the Yale Club here in Hong Kong. The first taught me the advantages that come from detailed advance planning; the second, the balance to be achieved from a panorama of events cultural, physical, and social. I also knew that the AYA would be of inestimable help, and that one classmate on the ground in Hong Kong could probably package the week better (and more economically) than any travel agent or tour group company.
What a wonderful week we had! Starting with an informal dinner at a Chinese club, classmates had a chance to unwind from their travels and to get to know one another better over an elegant typical Chinese banquet and good French wine. The folks at the Conrad Hotel - Hong Kong were unstinting of their service, from rooms to a full-on sumptuous buffet for our Welcoming Breakfast. We reviewed the plans for the week, and discussed additional options, including a series of classes that classmates could take, from tea appreciation to feng shui and tai chi. The rest of the mid-day was left for exploration of this city that never sleeps, and for some that meant finding some of the bargains for which Hong Kong is famous.
Many local friends have come to my aid in the planning process, and David Wong, '98, who specializes in Hong Kong history and in walking tours of the city worked with me to put together a two-hour historical-architectural tour of the central area of the city. This was our late afternoon adventure, from which we packed into taxis and zoomed off to our evening feast at Beijing food restaurant with our tour guide for an informal feast into the evening hours.
Bill and Jasmine
Photo by Jonathan Ater
The following day was open for classmates to visit friends, follow their own devices, sample the culture, or visit various parts of the territory, Once again the Conrad Hotel was particularly helpful in arranging for half our party a guide and van to explore nearby Lantau Island, with its unique fishing villages and the massive hilltop Buddha at the Po Lin monastery. That evening was our first formal occasion, as we joined with the Yale Club of Hong Kong for an elegant dinner at the Foreign Correspondents' Club and a panel on 'China's Perceptions of the US', a panel that included our own classmate Art Mann as well as local experts, and moderated by the Wall Street Journal's Hong Kong chief, Peter Stein '86. Fabulous fare.
The next -to-last day again had classmates visiting the out-lying New Territories, exploring, while others shopped and investigated Hong Kong closer to home base. Regrouping in late afternoon as the sun set, we all had a cocktail party on an elegant sea-faring junk, en route to a typical local seafood dinner at nearby Lamma Island. Fifteen courses later we regained the junk for a leisurely cruise back to the glamorous lights of Hong Kong reflected off of Victoria Harbour.
Our last day we once again put on our walking shoes. Our destination was a remote 19th century Chinese village which, until ten years ago, was only accessible from the sea. Our visit to Sai Kung was overland to the trail head, and then into the rain-forest. There, we were greeted by our hosts, Meredith and John Cox, who introduced us to their village before providing us with a sumptuous barbecue, a fusion of western and local styles, and such enjoyable conversations!
The Closing Party took us to the heights of Victoria Peak, where we enjoyed an open bar at the Café Deco Bar, which overlooks the drama and lights of the city, below. We tore ourselves way from the band serenading us, and found our way to our Yale Class of 1962 table at one of these floor to ceiling windows in the adjacent restaurant, and here we concluded our week's events, saving to the last a toast to friends and classmates remembered but not present. Fitting climax to a lovely week.
I keep thinking of little vignettes that remain in my memory and bring a smile to my face.
Hong Kong architecture
Photo by Skip Dechert