Dragon Boat Races in Hong Kong

I created this mosaic for my mother's birthday card. She is turning Eighty-One next week. We love to remember Hong Kong. We absolutely bore everyone to tears with our stories. When we see someone Chinese we have to tell them that we lived in Hong Kong for five years. Oh well, I guess it is how we keep lovely memories alive for us. Thank God we have each other...we never get tired of remembering.

This day was magical. We wanted to see the dragon boat races and we were told that if we went to the Aberdeen Marina club, we could watch it from there. The Aberdeen Marina Club was a magnificent country club that had five restaurants, two pools, a bowling alley, spa, gym, ice skating rink, outdoor playground equipped with (I kid you not) a life size blow up pirate ship. The Chinese in Hong Kong redefined the word "Fancy" for me. All of the ex-pats with the bank had a choice of belonging to this club or the American Club. We had a membership to the Aberdeen club because of all the wonderful things that they had for the girls. Their in-door playroom was over the top with every toy, car, ballroom, and a life-size dollhouse equipped with a kitchen. The Chinese in Hong Kong adore children so they made everything amazing!!! There is so much wealth there that when Sarah went to the pre-school in our complex, rolls royces would drop off some of the Chinese children driven by chauffeurs. Sarah grew up thinking that she was a princess, that notion only just wore off recently. She loves it there and plans on returning someday. She has a good friend at college who still lives there; they both attended the same International school.

When we got to the Aberdeen Marina that day, we decided to go on the patio to see where the races would begin. The harbor is unreal with its beautiful yachts lined up at the docks. The patio overlooks that magnificent scene shown in so many movies with the large Jumbo restaurant in the middle of the water. You have to take a boat to and from the Restaurant. We were so disappointed when they told us that we could never see the race from there. The yachts were being loaded with families all toting hampers filled with delightful goodies prepared at the club. We were fortunate enough to be there, but what would I do? I had Sarah who was about seven and Ashley was five, looking at me with their oh so big little kid eyes? I knew that we would think of something. We sat had lunch and then I glanced over at the sampans. Sampans are these amazing boats that look like bumper cars with all the tires around the trim. The driver, usually a Chinese grandma, steers the boat from the back with this huge stick control. We started to see all the fancy yachts begin to go towards the area where the races were to begin. I said, let's go and we walked over to the the sampan dock. I chatted with one of the boat people, and she grinned and said, "Yes, yes" she would take us. Most days you will be able to hire a sampan but not on the days that are sacred to the Chinese in Hong Kong. Now I had a special ticket...a Grandma "Yo Grandma" and two little girls cute as a button. During the entire five years living there, my mother was treated as royalty by the local Chinese. The Chinese culture is so full of warmth and respect. They adore the elders and they adore the children. These two tickets will get you preferential treatment in Hong Kong at all times. I could not imagine why no one else had thought of this, all the sampans were out with their own families watching the festivities except for this one. We got into the sampan and you would have thought I had just given the girls Disneyland. My mother was thrilled, she loves adventure.

A lovely Chinese grandma steered our little sampan right passed all the boats and the cheering locals as well. As we drove passed all the excitement, the girls could practically touch the race boats. All the yachts were told to stay back, but we had our local escort with a grin so wide...we all laughed so hard. To think that we were given this special treatment, even though we didn't have a yacht that was yarr, and a fancy food hamper. (I loved when Grace Kelly said that the yacht she had with Bing Crosby was "yarr" in the Philadelphia Story) We were being treated as if we were locals and that gave us special privilege to be allowed into the inner dragon boat community. To give us a real treat she drove us back again, so we could see the dragon boat races wiz by. So there we were riding so close to the sacred boats just before the lead would hit the drum to signal the beginning of a race. She laughed, without a common language in words she understood in spirit how we as guillos were honoring her people by the sheer joy in our faces...and in appreciation, she gave us the most amazing memories to keep forever.

I hope my mom loves her card. I am going to fill it with some memorabilia from that magical chapter of our lives. I only wish I could have it play this music, which is called Dragon Song and it sounds just like the music that was piped in to the wonderful Chinese restaurant there..a place my mother and I enjoyed so much. The waiters treated us as if we were royalty. The food was to die for, and the view at night when the harbor and Jumbo restaurant was lit up, it was completely and utterly magical.

So much magic, so many lovely memories. I hope I haven't bored you, I have a habit of going on streams of dialog when anyone makes me think about beautiful Hong Kong.

suzie q said...

Wonderful memories, beautifully described, Karen! Not a hint of boredom here!! It all sounds so exciting, like another world! I can almost hear the noise, and see the colours... wonderful! And what a super childhood for your girls!

I hope your Mum has a very happy Birthday, and I'm sure she will love the card you made. I have been doing the same thing, making a card for my Dad, who turns 75 today! :D

Thank you for sharing your memories, and Many Happy Returns to your Mum! :)

Suze xXx