A couple of weekends ago I traveled to Hong Kong. It seems like much longer ago and almost dream-like because it was so brief and I've done so much since then.
I was only in HK itself for 3 days, 72 hours almost exactly. It is far enough away and you cross enough time zones that travel took about a whole day one way. I left Thursday afternoon and returned on Tuesday morning about when my family was waking up. Magnus had Thursday and Friday off from work (Germany is great for vacation days, this was Ascension Thursday and oh, just take Friday off as well! It's hardly worth it to come in only one day before the weekend!), so child care was relatively easy to arrange. The boy only had to go to day care the whole day on Monday.
The trip took about 16 hours to HK with a layover in Hannover. Somewhere between Hannover and Frankfurt I got an email from Albert saying he'd just realized another Hong Kong friend of his (Bernard) living in Frankfurt and I were on the same flight. We found each other at the gate and had a nice chat. I'm definitely a spoiled international traveler: The airplane didn't have individual video screens, so I did the most reasonable thing - I read and listened to StarShipSofa until I decided I could fall asleep and slept for the duration.
First impression of Hong Kong: Holy moly, those are some tall apartment buildings! I went straight to the hotel (Hotel Kowloon), which was right next to the Peninsula, where most of the wedding festivities would be held, but much cheaper. Nice comfortable hotel. Breakfast was NOT worth the €16 added to the room price! I took a nap while I waited for friends from my time in Frankfurt who were also in the wedding party to arrive and call.
Friday night was the wedding rehearsal and I was to run through my songs with Albert's sister Sharon and the organist. Both went extremely well. Sharon is an excellent pianist, even if she hasn't played regularly (or was it "at all") in years. She applied herself these past few months and got the Malotte Lord's Prayer up to snuff. The rehearsal dinner was held at the Hong Kong Cricket Club (well, well!) and was an excellent western style meal. Upon arriving I asked for water and it came warm! It was actually the perfect antidote to the torrential rains outside and the glacial air conditioning inside. This dichotomy would turn out to be a recurring theme while I was there! I made sure I had my pashmina or my shrug sweater with me at all times.
Saturday I had a dim-sum lunch with Bernard, Jen and Patrick (the Frankfurt friends) at the Prince restaurant. It was on the top floor of the building and overlooked the bay towards Hong Kong Island (we were in Kowloon) and the food was oh so yummy. Jen and I went shopping in Centre (Hong Kong Island). I was on a mission to find a reasonable pair of concert shoes: black, closed toe, heel but not too high and above all extremely comfortable. Oh, and in my size. I quickly realized that I do not have the small and dainty foot of your average Chinese maiden. I was lucky if they had a size 39 (US 9) let alone the 40 or 41 that I actually needed. I did, however find a perfect pair of dance shoes by Repetto that were unfortunately just that much too small. If they'd had a size larger, they would've been perfect and I would not have hesitated buying them one second. As it was despite more searching that night after "High Tea" I came up empty handed.
We joined Albert, Natalie and families for High Tea at the peninsula. I just had cake. But the tea sandwich/cakes tower looked delectable. After tea, a Hong Kong friend of Albert's who he met in San Francisco (Ken) went shopping with me! Such a gentleman! He also joined me for dinner at a well known restaurant and then refused to let me pay! This was also turning out the be a recurring occurrence, since Bernard bought lunch for all of us too!
The next morning I met Jen and we went to get our hair put up at a nearby salon. They did an excellent job with mine and I'm sure it wouldn't have ever budged a millimeter if I hadn't taken out the gouging bobby pins after I was done singing at the reception!
The wedding!!! ...was at 15:30 (officially) I was to sing "Bist Du Bei Mir" by Bach (Anna Magdalena Songbook) the moment Natalie arrived in the car. But there was no sign of her until almost 16:00 (4:00pm!). The Bach went well and the ceremony was beautiful. It was interesting to hear Amazing grace sung in Cantonese! And I haven't heard a congregation sing like that ( well and loud ) since Christ the King, Frankfurt! Alberta's uncle, who is a minister working in the UK at the moment did the sermon. He printed out an English translation for those of us ignorant of Cantonese. Lovely.
During the signing bit Albert's sister Sharon and I did the Malotte. It went very well except for me almost losing it emotionally at the beginning. I am just so happy for Albert! After the ceremony we performed it again and recorded it. There is a video I'll have to embed another time. I've been writing about this weekend way too long already!
The reception was in the Spring Room backs at the Peninsula. Albert asked me to sing a few songs with the jzz combo he'd hired. I prepared Summertime, At Last and Skylark, which was Albert's request. I was a little early to rehearse with them and they were still sitting around eating we talk about tempo and keys. And when I asked later if we shouldn't go rehearse the leader said, "honey, we just did!" gotta love jazz musicians. I was terrified at first but aside crime the keys actually not being right for At Last and Skylark, it went very well! I was even able to jazz it up a little. We did The Nearness of you as a bonus too. The food at the reception more traditionally Chinese and wonderful!! I stayed until the very end when it was just Patrick, Jen, Ken and Bernard and I plus a few other young folk I didn't know. Joy.
I took a walk the next morning intending to go up to Victoria Peak, but by the time I found the tram t goes up there it was time to return to the hotel. Had a nice walk around Centre though and happened past the old Episcopal Church.
I took a taxi to the airport with Jen and Patrick because our flights were relatively close together. We ate lunch together and parted ways. I miss them! Friends like that are rare.
The trip home was long but uneventful. A 3 hour flight to Singapore on which I started but couldn't finish the American version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and a few hours layover there made it interminable. I arrived home in Hannover at about 8am and spent the morning playing with Dante. He missed me! But had lots of good boy time with his Papi.