Published: Thursday, 08 July 2010 Written by Walter 'WASABI' Marthaler
This report is yet again compiled by two scribes, i.e. by Bruno and Walter.  The latter is covering the part up until Bruno’s appearance in Hong Kong – Bruno just arriving in time for the Easter Hockey Tournament, whereas the reporting starts quite a few days before then.

The fantastic plan to COMBINE viewing the Hong Kong Sevens Rugby event with a visit to Hong Kong ’s Easter Hockey tournament was “brain-stormed” last year during the Cologne Tour, mainly driven forward by Jumbo and myself.  In the end, unfortunately, Jumbo and Pe could not make it to Hong Kong . Roli was therefore the only Flying Hopper from overseas. However, I can assure you that he will comment VERY favourably upon the Hong Kong SEVENS spectacle to anyone willing to listen for quite some time…. (there is simply so much to talk about) !!

THURSDAY, 25.3.2010   (Roli’s arrival)


Roli got safely into town and checked into the Wharney Hotel – a strategically fantastic location to observe the roaming crowds of Rugby fans in the evenings.


Very shortly after his check-in, I picked him up to move swiftly to the HKFC grounds so he could watch the final games of the Hong Kong TENS Rugby event, which is always hosted by the HKFC.  Roli and I got into the mood of the occasion by downing a pitcher of beer. After seeing the Aliens team win that Tens event yet again, we started to feel a bit hungry and walked over to Times Square, where we had a nice dinner at the Hunan Garden restaurant on the 13th floor, just next door to Wasabi Sabi – but more about that one later.


Thereafter, we called it a day and headed for an early night.


FRIDAY, 26.3.2010  (First day of the SEVENS)


The games on both Friday and Saturday of the 3 day SEVENS event are not so important to watch; during those two days the different teams just play for their rankings going into Sunday, which is when the real competition starts. Nevertheless, it is entertaining to watch the strong teams take on the minnows, with the public invariably rooting for one of the minnows to win against the favourites.


As virtually every year, Lemoine and his wife Kumie were in town for the SEVENS. Also, the Sevens period tends to coincide with Lemoine’s birthday on 26 March.


So the four of us, Kumie, Lemoine, Roli and myself, watched some good rugby matches before heading off to LKF for a birthday dinner at the nice  Italian restaurant “Va Bene”.  Proceedings went smoothly other than me selecting a poor quality Primitivo wine, according to Kumie.  But Roli and myself in fact liked the Primitivo, and the two of us drank a second bottle.


After dinner we left Lemoine and Kumie to celebrate Lemoine’s birthday by themselves.  Together with Roli  I headed for Wanchai to check out some pubs. But already in the first venue, there were so many people that I felt very uneasy about crowd control….So I called it a day and left Roli to explore further on his own.


SATURDAY, 27.3.2010


All four of us met up at the beautiful stadium and saw a lot of good rugby, yet again.


In between, I was walking around the stadium and ran into my HKFC F hockey goalie Jeroen Touw and his lovely wife, and I made a final pitch (mainly to her!)  for him to play during Easter with the Flying Hoppers – luckily my pitch was successful !


After watching all the games, we had some time on our hands as Lemoine’s reservation at his favourite “Red Pepper” restaurant was for a late dinner at 21.30.  So we took a few pre-dinner drinks at the Sportsman’s bar in the HKFC.


This evening was the first of 3 dinners, all of which were being held at Szechuan restaurants with different people responsible for the respective selection of venue (and Roli being charged with deciding which one of the three was best – as IF that really matters...?).  Personally, I think they all ranged from very good to excellent.


Once we could finally get into the Red Pepper, Lemoine and Kumie ordered their favourite dishes and we had a good meal, surrounded by many other Rugby fans.


After dinner, Lemoine and Roli hit the Wanchai area, whereas Kumie and myself made our way back to the Kowloon side.


SUNDAY, 28.3.2010 (The RUGBY SEVENS FINALS – brilliant Rugby day)


We marvelled at the skills of the top teams once the knock-out competition began.  But even the lower teams – like for instance Hong Kong – produced memorable games.  Hong Kong winning the shield competition final against Russia was greeted with great joy by the crowds.  The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, but it is not really easy to describe – so just ask Roli when you see him next time!


Among the top teams, New Zealand eliminated Fiji to go into the final, whereas on the other side of the draw, Samoa eliminated England .


In the thrilling FINAL, New Zealand took a 14 : 0 lead, but the Samoans did not give up and did fight back to WIN the game in the end.  Indeed, an absolutely brilliant game to watch.


Apart from us four, Mr. Rogge, president of the IOC, was also in the stadium.  Sevens Rugby has just recently been confirmed as a new sport to be included in future Olympic Games!


Once the final whistle blew, we headed out of the stadium fairly swiftly and made our way over to the Kowloon side, as Jennifer (who had just returned from a business trip to Korea ) was expecting us at the second Szechuan restaurant (“Yunyan”)  at 9.00 p.m.   However, we got over to the Kowloon side more quickly than we thought and had time for a couple of apero-drinks at the elegant Mira Hotel bar. 


Obviously, the Sevens seemed to have taken a certain toll on the Yunyan restaurant, as they only had a few beers left in stock !!!


Regardless, a nice meal was yet again had at this Szechuan restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.


After dinner we proceeded to the trendy Knutsford Terrace area for some more drinks and coffees.  The memory that will stick - at least in my mind - is Kumie getting lost for an inordinate amount of time, trying to find her way to a toilet, and then back from the toilet…We could laugh again once she showed up safely after about 30 minutes  – but some of us were quite nervous before that happened !


MONDAY, 29.3.2010   (Trip to Macau – Venetian)


Monday morning was the time Roli was due to change from the Wharney Hotel to the Cosmo Hotel.  So we went to pick him up at the Cosmo around 11.00 to proceed to the Macau Ferry pier.


Both Lemoine and Roli had not visited Macau for quite a few years, and both were astonished by the many, many changes that had taken place.


We took the bus service straight to the Venetian Casino and I let the two gamblers do their thing, whilst I was having a closer look at a big bookstore. We agreed to meet up at the Starbucks, and I was expecting them to WIN big time so that we could take a helicopter service back to Hong Kong .  Alas, not to be!  Whilst Roli did win some money, Lemoine lost some – but on both accounts in moderation.


To make up for my disappointment about not being able to travel back in a helicopter, I opted to get tickets for the premium seats on the ferry (two senior tickets and one for a junior !). As an incredible coincidence would have it, my hockey F captain Clive was on that very same ferry, seated virtually next to us !!  It IS a small world….


Back in Hong Kong , Roli and I went on to a pleasant steak dinner in an Australian restaurant with nice views over Hong Kong . A very pleasant day came gradually to an end.


TUESDAY, 30.3.2010   (Second HOPPER hits the town)


Finally, the second Hopper (after Roli) arrived in Hong Kong , and nobody less than Sir Stefan himself !  Quite soon after Stefan had checked into the Cosmo and refreshed himself a bit, we had to depart for Central to try and locate the venue of the 3rd Szechuan restaurant, this one chosen by Stefan. The “Yellow Door” restaurant is in fact not all that easy to find….  But we, Roli, Stefan and myself, managed quite well and had some spare time to hit LKF for some pre-dinner liquids.


At 20.30 we were all supposed to be at the Yellow Door – a glorious group of seven, apart from us three Hoppers also Lemoine and Kumie – their last night in town – and Alice and Jennifer.  Alice and Jennifer found the place easily, of course, but to our astonishment  Lemoine and Kumie, too, showed up shortly afterwards. 


Once again, we enjoyed exquisite Chinese food in a very special kind of restaurant, one which has the character and atmosphere of a private home.  To round up all the courses we helped ourselves to some Luxemburgerli Stefan had kindly brought along from Switzerland . Roli also had brought along some Basler Leckerli.  Lively discussions with Alice during dinner revealed that she will continue to visit Zurich once or twice a year. On one of her forthcoming trips, Roli/Stefan will surely take her either to the Zeughauskeller or the Kropf restaurant.


To end the evening in style, we once again headed over to LKF for after dinner drinks.


WEDNESDAY, 31.3.2010   (Corinne and Guido arrive)


To allow for recovery from jet-lag (partly) and potential hangovers (mainly) for Stefan and Roli, I agreed to meet up with them by about 11.00 at the Cosmo Hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel, I phoned first Roli’s room, but Roli sounded terrible – having obviously caught a terrible cold (must have been very “breezy” bar services in the Wanchai area during the preceding nights).  Sir Stefan on the other hand informed me that he had just this very moment woken up and that I needed to wait for a while for him to get ready….


Around noon , Stefan and I just started to walk away from the hotel when we suddenly heard a loud shout:  Corinne and Guido had arrived at the Cosmo! We heartily greeted each other and promised to meet up later in the day.  Stefan and I walked over to the HKFC to have a snack lunch on the terrace near the pool.


After lunch, we started to “hit” the shops which Stefan had on his “to do” list – at least some of them, the ones that happen to be in the Causeway Bay area. Thereafter, we took a tram-ride and walked to the local Lindt office.


As often before, Lindt had once again kindly agreed to provide the FLYING HOPPERS with chocolates to give away to opposing teams during the two tournament days to come. At the Lindt office, it was a heartfelt reunion for Grace and Stefan who had not seen each other since 2004! Grace also very kindly promised that she would continue to help


The Flying Hoppers with sourcing efforts if/when new Hoppers fashion wear would become necessary. Many thanks, Grace, already in advance!


We continued to chat a bit with all the staff around and mentioned that Guido was in town. They expressed a wish to meet up with him if possible.


Later that afternoon we went on to check out the antiques stores on Hollywood Road , and at that juncture we met up with Corinne and Guido again. This was followed by visiting the Chinese medicine wholesale area in the Western district, always a fascinating area to see. However, we managed to restrain ourselves from buying any dried seahorses or similarly exotic and exciting herbs/medicines to take to Roli, just keeping our fingers crossed that he would be getting better by means of straightforward  Panadol!


We ended our walk at Western Market and from there took the tram to Central and crossed over to the IFC Mall. Having become hungry after all this sightseeing, we progressed to one of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong , i.e. the original Hunan Garden , featuring live music (but that is NOT why one goes there….). Not surprisingly, it was the first time for Corinne, Guido and Stefan to enjoy Hunanese kitchen.


After dinner – and as the night was still young! – we took a taxi over to the HKFC, since on Wednesdays it is HORSE RACING night in Happy Valley . From the lounge on the second floor, we could – between drinks, and only if/when we did not miss them – see the horses dash past. But we were mainly absorbed in pleasant chatting. Towards midnight , we called it a day. Another very pleasant day had ended.


THURSDAY, 1.4.2010   (All the HOPPERS arrive – Welcome cocktails / dinner)


I must admit that on this Thursday I only re-joined the activities in the evening. But thanks to insider information gathered, I learned that a second meeting at the Lindt office had indeed been a great success. This included Corinne and Guido (naturally), but also Roli and Stefan and the guy who had arrived very early in the morning, i.e. Sacha from Sydney .


In the evening all of us were awaiting the rest of the Hoppers to arrive at the Cosmo Hotel, just in time for the cocktail reception. And arrive they did: Bruno and Lana together with Coen and Keith.  We all observed the Flying Hoppers dress code for special occasions and looked “dapper” as usual - plenty of photographic evidence!  Very conveniently, the welcome cocktails event was held at the Cosmo Hotel itself.


But of course we also had planned a WELCOME DINNER to include everybody. What better choice than WASABI SABI (Japanese Restaurant) in the Times Square building?  Awaiting us there were Jeroen (our goalie for the tournament – many, many THANKS, Jeroen!) and his wife Kate, as well as my wife Jennifer and her friend Alice. It was somewhat difficult for me to drive the Hoppers away from drinking at the Cosmo Hotel’s bar, and hence we left a bit late from there and needed to walk fairly rapidly over to Times Square . Bruno and Lana spotted some nice shoes in a shop and just quickly went in to have a better look at them. Once they came out again, we all had gone…  But given  the wonders of modern technology, one can call each other or send text messages. A lot of communication activity developed rapidly between Stefan and Bruno, but NO Lana and Bruno turned up.  Finally, I overheard in the toilet of the Wasabi Sabi restaurant yet another phone exchange, and thereafter checked with Stefan. Somehow, somebody had mixed up “ Times Square ” with “World Trade Centre”…. I immediately went downstairs and ran over to the area in front of Times Square – about a 10 minutes’ walk away… There I found Lana, her eyes wide open like the eyes of a deer in the headlights of an approaching car - but also with great JOY shining out of her eyes when she saw me approaching.  Soon, Bruno also joined us. It so happens that on the 13th floor of the WTC there is also a Japanese restaurant… but those guys of course did not know anything about Wasabi Sabi.


After a brisk walk over from the World Trade Centre area to Times Square , everyone was happily united for an excellent Japanese meal in a very nicely designed restaurant. It is at this EXACT point that Bruno’s reporting should start and mine should end.


However, I shall allow myself the liberty to make some personal comments about the highlights of the following days – purely from my own perspective!


FRIDAY, 2.4.2010    (First day of EASTER TOURNAMENT -  Beach Party)


Highlights:  The Flying Hoppers beat the KCC team who later on WON the tournament. The best game played by the HOPPERS during this tournament!


The evening outing (Beach Party at “Coco Thai”) was very well organized. Unfortunately the weather did NOT help at all, as it was very unseasonally cold !  Still, all of the Hoppers enjoyed that nice venue, and I was specifically asked to mention the excellent service provided by waitress Diaz (Dias?) from Indonesia . 


SATURDAY, 3.4.2010  (The Flying Hoppers WIN THE BOWL at Hong Kong !!)




It is always most pleasing to WIN another trophy, and  The Flying Hoppers did just that after many a game, i.e. ending on TOP of the BOWL competition.


Nice dinner at the Club as well. Thereafter drinks in LKF.  


SUNDAY, 4.4.2010   (Elenita arrives / all HOPPERS depart except for Coen)


Corinne and Guido left early. All the others met up for lunch on Kowloon side and we enjoyed a nice Shanghainese meal.


Some sightseeing/shopping including “Shanghai Tang”, where somehow we got on to the topic of alpacas – probably as their wool might be used in some of the textiles?  In between, Sacha ate an Easter Bunny and Roli gave another one away on the Star Ferry. Also, Stefan and I found a tea shop after some searching. In the evening, Elenita joined us and we had pre-dinner drinks in LKF.


Top highlight:  Incredible farewell dinner venue – not sure how many Michelin stars. But that restaurant will certainly be remembered by all and forever because we had such a lot of fun.