THE FLYING HOPPERS visit HONG KONG for a record 6th TIME

Published: Saturday, 11 April 2015 Written by Walter 'WASABI' Marthaler



The official travel reporter for this TOUR is Carlos, but as a long-time resident in Hong Kong and also a long-time member of both The Flying Hoppers and the Hong Kong Football Club, I allow myself to write up some impressions.


And so it starts on


MARCH 30th in the evening


A first group (arriving very early in order to do sightseeing) got into town late on Monday. I had only just recovered from the long Rugby Sevens weekend, but was of course pleased to welcome three Flying Hoppers members whom I had last seen on the Flying Hoppers tour in Cuba in November 2014, Carlos, Natalja and Silvina. They arrived at the ‘Hotel Butterfly on Morrison’, and after checking in and freshening up they were ready to walk over with me to the Hong Kong Football Club, where I briefly showed them the facilities. We then proceeded to have dinner outside near the swimming pool, enjoying the nicely mild weather. Besides having some Indian food, we mainly chatted about the sightseeing programme on offer in the coming days.

After that (and them not being tired as yet…!), we walked over to Times Square to let them have a first impression of a Hong Kong shopping mall. Then I guided them back to their hotel and we fixed the time for meeting up the next morning.


MARCH 31st

I arrived on time to meet up with Carlos for a quick trip to the Lindt Hong Kong office to collect the chocolates which The Flying Hoppers always dish out (together with specially designed Flying Hoppers shoe bags) to all the players in the opposing teams.

When we got back to the hotel, both Natalja and Silvina were ready and the four of us went just across the street and around the corner to have some breakfast/coffees at ‘The Coffee Academics’. And then we started the sightseeing programme by first taking the tram to Central. We looked at the sights near the HSBC head office and then walked over to the Landmark building. The ladies explored that luxurious shopping mall and did indeed find a fashion brand very much to their liking, i.e. Maryling! Whereas Carlos’ main focus was on the Abercombie & Fitch flagship store in the historic Pedder Building nearby. Once the first shopping urges were satisfied, we walked over to the start of the escalators and moved up on them to Hollywood Road, where we left the escalators and walked along Hollywood Road going west. A first stop was at the GOD store, where some more shopping took place. Then we had a look at some of the galleries/antiques shops and naturally also had a close look at the MAN MO TEMPLE. This temple was built in 1847, and it pays tribute to the God of Literature (MAN) and the God of WAR (MO). By now we were quite ready for another ‘coffee stop’.
Newly refreshed/energised, we continued west to take in the area with the traditional Chinese medicines wholesalers/retailers.
From that Western area we took another tram ride towards Central, but got off to take the walking link to the IFC Building and - you guessed it! – shopping mall. Both Natalja and Silvina started to realise more and more that Hong Kong is indeed a kind of ‘shopping paradise’.
Once out of the IFC mall, we walked to the STAR FERRY to take us to the Kowloon side. A short walk via the 1881 complex brought us to the Peking Road Number 1 Building, where we went up to the AQUA bar for some pre-dinner drinks.
To enjoy a first Chinese dinner in town, I decided to take my friends to the ‘Spring Deer’ restaurant, which (rightly or wrongly) claims to have ‘Best Peking Food World Famous Peking Duck’!

I believe that dinner was indeed quite pleasant. However, Silvina was shocked to see a couple at the neighbouring table NEVER saying a single word to each other but both always looking and typing into their respective mobile phones – welcome to Hong Kong, was my comment.To end the evening on a special note, we then proceeded to another favourite venue of mine, i.e. to ‘Ned Kelly’s Last Stand’. This old style pub features live JAZZ music every night. And so ended the first full sightseeing day.


APRIL 1st (second sightseeing day – NO April Fools Day joke!)

As I had to attend an urgent check-up at my dentist’s, we could only meet up just after 13.00 in Central, which gave the visitors time to have breakfast and also look around by themselves during the morning. Once we met up, we needed to decide whether to go and see the Peak or alternatively visit Lamma Island. As the weather was cloudy, we selected the latter option and took the slow ride boat over to Lamma. There we did a bit of walking to take in another aspect of Hong Kong – one without massively overbuilt and crammed spaces!

The weather turned out to be very pleasant and we relaxed and chatted quite a bit.

But by and by we were all getting ready for the main reason to go to Lamma Island, namely a nice seafood eating experience.


As we had chosen the ‘Rainbow Seafood Restaurant’, we could then make use of their complimentary boat service back to Hong Kong/Kowloon. With this smaller and faster boat and with the lights of the city shining brightly, this was indeed an impressive ride back into town. We decided to stay on the boat and to proceed over to Kowloon, were we jumped into a taxi to bring us to the ICC building. We went up to the Ozone Bar for after dinner drinks and to enjoy the majestic views from up there.

As time slipped by (having a very pleasant time), we eventually called it a night, but not before walking through – you guessed it – parts of that huge shopping mall in the ICC building to reach Kowloon station.

And thus ended the second sightseeing day.


APRIL 2nd (the BULK of the FLYING HOPPERS arrive !)

Today, sadly, I was not free to accompany my three friends. They went on a day excursion to MACAU by themselves, and I am sure their detailed impressions are noted in Carlos’ report. What I learned from them is the following: They were impressed by the massive Venetian shopping complex. But they equally liked the charming old Taipa town where they enjoyed some excellent food at an Argentinian restaurant called ‘El Gaucho’.


Of course, April 2nd was an important day as 6 more Flying Hoppers arrived in the evening, 5 from Switzerland and 1 from Sydney.

After meeting up with everybody at the hotel in the evening, we proceeded to the customary first dinner all together, to which we had also invited Chappie and his charming wife Karin. That Chinese dinner was at one of Jennifer’s most favourite Sichuan restaurants, which used to be on Kowloon side, but now has gone somewhat up-market and moved into the Times Square Building.

Luckily we had secured our own separate room at the Yun Yan and hence could be our normal selves, chatting and laughing loudly without inconveniencing other patrons of this fine restaurant. It was indeed a great pleasure to have both Karin and Chappie with us, as the two could give some very valuable tips/insights about Hong Kong.

A good evening was had by all. I am not really aware what ensued later on that night, but was told that the ‘Derby Pub’ close to the hotel was visited….

Also, rumours started to emerge about goings on in room 2503 and/or tales about a specialist Flying Hoppers guy climbing up the outside of the hotel Spiderman style - wild and unsubstantiated rumours of course – but you get these every time you are on a Flying Hoppers tour!



APRIL 3rd Outing to Discovery Bay and Registration Day


For this pre-tournament day Jennifer and I organised a picnic lunch outing to Discovery Bay for all our visitors, so that they could experience first hand that not all of Hong Kong is equally densely built-up.

Luckily, the weather was again quite fine, which made for a pleasant overall experience. Once again there was plenty of laughter when ‘funny old stories’ were told about some of the more incident prone people in this fun group of the Hoppers present.


In the evening we all made our way back to the hotel, where Tony had just newly arrived. Everybody started to dress up for the reception at the HK Football Club. As usual, the Flying Hoppers made quite an impression in their somewhat formal dress for official functions – but so be it. Better to be over-dressed than the reverse!


After the nicely organised reception/registration, we left to go to the Sushi Shiro restaurant which we had booked for a Japanese dinner. We once again enjoyed ourselves a lot. We only left when we were asked to leave since it was closing time…. I called it a night, but I assume perhaps some more happenings will be reported by Carlos’. My understanding is that some places in Wanchai were visited?



What a beautifully sunny (but hot and humid) day on this first day of the EASTER SIXES! The Flying Hoppers played a total of 5 games – 4 were won and one resulted in a draw. We were ably helped in all the games by Polly Studholme-Wilson in goal, something Chappie had kindly organised for us. Moreover, our two Flying Hoppers ladies had an excellent day by scoring important goals on this day to keep us in the competition.


The lunch break was held at the Sportman’s Bar venue, as in the past, but sadly Nasi Goreng is no longer on their menu!


In the evening we met up with the other overseas teams in the lobby of the Hong Kong Football Club. Those other teams came from Doha and Dubai, and there were two ISCI-Club teams from Jakarta. The Football Club’s organising members had put some extra effort into giving all the overseas teams a quintessential Hong Kong eating experience in the form of a ‘Dai Pai Dong’ dinner, which they described as the ‘dining experience in a rowdy, chaotic local food market….it may be the cheapest and most delicious meal you have ever had?’. Personally, I am very grateful to the organisers, as it is in my view very important for visitors not only to see and experience the glitz and glamour in Hong Kong, but also the less glitzy side of things, which are closer to the average Hong Konger’s daily life experience.

Once the Dai Pai Dong dinner experience came to an end, most of the Flying Hoppers made their way to a new ‘Joe Banana’s’ place; the original one had closed a while ago. There they seemingly enjoyed live music as well as the attention of a lot of young females hanging out in that nightspot? Perhaps Carlos’ report can shed some light on this.



On the second tournament day, the Hoppers won their remaining two group games in the course of the morning – but as usual, the scores were quite tight. In the first game, we were very ably helped by male goalie Don Ng, as Polly was in goal for the opposition.


On this day, we took our lunch in the Football Club upstairs, near the swimming pool, where Nasi Goreng meals are still being served! This led to one of those wild brain storming sessions with the idea emerging that perhaps the FLYING HOPPERS should open a restaurant somewhere in Zurich specialising in NASI GORENG, and that as a suitably iconic drink the ‘Gunner’ should be on the menu….!?


During the afternoon, the knockout phase of the tournament began and the Hoppers progressed positively – but had a major scare at the semi-final stage. That game was won in the end, and hence for the first time the Flying Hoppers team reached the FINAL of the CUP competition, which saw us playing against a youthful KCC side.


Full concentration by all the players in the team (not least two spectacular saves by Polly!!) and a goal each by Tony and Sacha (and an almost ‘miracle-goal’ by Andy – but not to be) in the end ensured WINNING THE CUP. This we duly celebrated during the rest of this most memorable day. Photos will speak louder than words!


Tony – apart from being a main player in securing this great victory – established an

ALL TIME RECORD for breathtaking speed. Having arrived in Hong Kong in the evening of Friday, he played in all the games during Saturday and Sunday, and then departed on Sunday night, i.e. he was in town for just over 48 hours! What absolutely tremendous dedication to the cause – congratulations!



As I was having a slight cold and hence had called it an early night the day before, I do not know how very late the different Hoppers were partying to celebrate the WIN of the CUP in style? I heard that ‘Typhoon’ was visited, but also that some went back to meet up with newly made friends at ‘Joe Bananas’.


It was definitely beneficial to have a relaxation day scheduled on Easter Monday. My next appointment with my mates was to meet them at 16.30 at their hotel – but not everybody was ready on time. The curse of the number 2503 room perhaps?! A first group eventually took a taxi ride over to the nearby World Trade Centre, where the HOORAY BAR is located. Eventually, the rest of us walked briskly over there as well in order not to miss the farewell drinks with Sacha. The setting of the Hooray Bar’s terrace is a really very nice; it affords fantastic views, i.e. great photo taking opportunities. However, the service speed (or lack of it!) was less than pleasant. Never mind. We took our leave from Sache in style and with quite a few drinks. Hopefully we shall see him on an upcoming Flying Hoppers tour in the not too distant future, at the latest in Auckland in 2017, but most likely long before that!

The remaining 9 Hoppers then proceeded to the Private Kitchen restaurant GITONE, where some of us had enjoyed eating on an earlier tour. It turned out to be an enchanting evening yet again, with some truly hilarious stories being bandied around. We laughed a great deal – and laughter is, as we all know, a great medicine. Irena (official Flying shopper) had made best use of this relaxation day for last minute shopping, buying some exciting clothes. However, her ‘Schatzi-lein’ (probably best translated as sweetiepie?) felt much less excited about those fantastic purchases – odd, innit?! We also learned a great deal about the value of having two cats versus one dog called ‘Struppi’. And very many more such important topics were discussed in depth - I had not heard so much laughter during a dinner for a very, very long time. Clearly one of the reasons why I so very much enjoy being on a Flying Hoppers tour!


To finish the evening, most of us (instead of going to Wanchai again) headed off to the LKF night life area and visited a Salsa Bar.

I then called it a night, but if the others visited some more venues in LKF or elsewhere I trust it will be mentioned in Carlos’ report.


APRIL 7th - Sadly: LAST DAY for those visiting FLYING HOPPERS IN TOWN


We all met up in the early part of the afternoon at the Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier to take a slow boat across to LEI YUE MUN for a late seafood lunch in this fishing village surrounded by high-rise buildings – a great contrast indeed.

The restaurant’s name card says the following:


And so we could indeed select and enjoy a variety of very fresh seafood, and we also had enough beers to go with it. Natalja was especially impressed with my beer bottle ordering style, ‘Bring one, and then another - or actually, why don’t you bring two straightaway’.


Eventually the weather turned rather less pleasing, and since we where sitting outside it became somewhat uncomfortable. We decided to leave, taking taxis to go to the by now traditional last farewell place for HOPPERS visiting Hong Kong: The OZONE BAR, currently still the highest bar in the world. Unfortunately due to the change in weather the original idea of being out on their terrace was no longer a great option, and we enjoyed the various farewell drinks inside instead. Because of Willy’s advice that a potentially upset stomach due to less than clean preparation of seafood (or lack of freshness thereof) would/could best be treated with strong liquor, our three ladies immediately downed a shot of Vodka to be on the safe side.


We continued our pleasant chats, enjoying the great time which was about to come to an end.


Finally, I accompanied my 8 Flying Hoppers mates to the Airport Express station where we wished each other all the best until the next time. I do know that the next Flying Hoppers tour will be in July this year to St. Petersburg, organised by Natalja and Stefan. Apparently this next tour proves very popular indeed, with no less than 38 participants!




My role this time was purely in guiding and assisting my friends during their stay in town. I was also ‘masquerading’ in the role of ‘Coach’, but for sure did not have any idea or impact in that respect! Luckily the players themselves knew perfectly well when to go on or come off the pitch.


However, I established some interesting statistics about this 6th meting in Hong Kong. The Flying Hoppers members who most frequently participated here (besides me living here, of course) are:

1) Both Stefan and Sacha: 5 times!

2) Patrick Huber: 4 times


Interestingly, the WINNING Flying Hoppers team participating in the tournament this year is not really a youthful side at all. The AVERAGE AGE of our side, i.e. all the Swiss players (as calculated by Carlos): 50.6 years old!


Enough of the statistics and some remarks about all the visitors, in alphabetical order:


Carlos Andermatt: Will be doing the German travel report. Great defensive work on the pitch.


Willy Arber: Medical doctor and called into action when an ISCI lady got an injury on one of her hands.

Same as for Carlos: Great defensive work on the pitch.


Irena Arber: Dedicated Flying Shopper and great vocal support during the games. She rates Hong Kong highly as a shopping destination, I presume.


Silvina Dullio: One of the two ladies in attack. Great goal scoring ability.


Natalja Fischer: The other lady in attack. Both Silvina and Natalja scored equally, and both ended up in 5th place among the highest ladies scorers in the competition. Well done!


Toni Haberthur: Captain of the team and leading by example. New speed record for in and out of Hong Kong. 5th place among the highest scorers (men) in the competition.


Patrick Huber: Great handling of his CFO duties. The CUP trophy was given to him – well deserved.


Stefan Leuenberger: The heart and soul of The Flying Hoppers for whom he organises each and every tour!

Great performance on the pitch helped tremendously towards WINNING the CUP!


Sacha Overhoff: Manager of the team on the pitch. Great performance on and off the pitch! Sacha was honoured as being ranked 2nd highest goal scorer in the competition. Congratulations!


Andi Walti: Oldest player in the team and coming close to scoring a miracle goal. Assignrd photographer. This was his first visit to Hong Kong, and he was seemingly quite impressed.


Last but certainly not least:



The organisers of the HOCKEY SIXES Tournament – and in particular to Chappie.

AND VERY SPECIAL THANKS ALSO TO Polly and Don who helped The Flying Hoppers secure this WIN.


This is it for me. Thanks a lot ladies and gentlemen. You have all been WONDERFUL.

Your scribe