Rugby Sevens – Where Vikings and Crayons are Equally Welcome

There was never a similar week during my stay in Hong Kong, and this week at the end of March was no exception. The world-renowned Rugby Sevens event came to town, and I say on of Hong Kong’s most colorful, whimsical faces. Spartan warriors and grown men in tutus, anyone?

March 29th, 2010

I can say that things honestly NEVER got boring in Hong Kong. Not for a second! Let’s see where I last left off updating you.

On Tuesday, I went to meet a friend of my brother George’s from college, who’d been living in Hong Kong for the past eighteen years, named Clayton. Clayton originally came to Hong Kong with the intent of only staying a couple of years to learn about Asian cooking and cuisine, and take his new skills back to New York to be an even better chef. Instead, he wound up staying and opening a whole slew of different restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau. Sweet! I met him at his Tex-Mex restaurant the Coyote Bar and Grill in Wan Chai, along with his Operations and Marketing Director Stephanie.

One of Clayton's many restaurants: Coyote Bar. Best fishbowl margaritas in all of Wan Chai.

One of Clayton’s many restaurants: Coyote Bar. Best fishbowl margaritas in all of Wan Chai.

I have to say that Clayton was the nicest person I had met so far in Hong Kong. I guess the saying’s true: You can take the boy out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the boy. He was so friendly and happy to chat with me about everything; how he ended up there, met his wife, got started in the restaurant business, what he thought of Hong Kong, how much he loved it, and Stephanie was just as much of a gold mine of information on living abroad too.   The passion with which they both spoke of Hong Kong and how Asia looks like it will be THE place to be business-wise in the next 20 years made me think. Maybe I could see myself coming out there after graduation, too and making a life there. I’d never considered living abroad before, but I found myself liking Hong Kong more and more every day, so much so that I could actually consider such a thing.  (Side note: If presented with the opportunity today, I would go for it in a heartbeat.)

One of the very few non-blurry pictures of Hong Kong from Victoria's Peak.

One of the very few non-blurry pictures of Hong Kong from Victoria’s Peak.

Anyway, enough of freaking my mom out by talking about running 8,000 miles from home! On Thursday, we had one of our rare clear days in Hong Kong, so my friend Kevin suggested a group of us go to Victoria’s Peak at night to see the city and take pictures, and what a fantastic suggestion that was. After classes and dinner, a group of five of us went out to the base of Victoria’s Peak in Causeway Bay and rode the peak tram up and back from the top. When we got to the top you could see for miles. Hong Kong looks absolutely beautiful by night when the weather is clear; all twinkly and sparkly and just gorgeous!  Words and pictures just really don’t do it justice – it has to be experienced in the flesh.

The only bad part was that it was like being in a wind tunnel on top of the peak (it had been extremely windy all day) so a bunch of my pictures were blurry, but still so worth it. The views were not to be missed no matter how cold and windblown we were at the end.

Viking warriors on their way to Rugby Sevens.

Viking warriors on their way to Rugby Sevens.

Friday turned out to be an especially exciting day. That weekend was the weekend of Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong, which is when all of the world’s greatest rugby teams descend on Hong Kong for three days and play lots and lots of rugby matches in Hong Kong Stadium in Causeway Bay. Clayton happened to have tickets for all three days and mentioned he wasn’t going on Friday and would l like them? Never having seen rugby before, I accepted his generous offer with much thanks and invited my roommate Katrin (who had also never seen rugby) to come along.  We picked up the tickets at Cafe Siam (another of Clayton’s restaurants) Friday afternoon then rode the double-decker street car over to Causeway Bay and followed the massive flow of westerners (especially Brits) over to the stadium.

Once we got inside the stadium, I felt like I had been transported to a football game in the States. There was beer in giant cups (Guinness instead of Bud, though), the all-American hot dog, burger, and other junk food for sale, and more Western people packed into an arena than I’d seen since arriving in Asia! Of course, everything inside the stadium was being sold at highway robbery prices, but that was to be expected too. My roommate knew a bunch of HKUST exchange students were going to be there that day because they were on the rugby team at school, so she called and we found them in the stands about twenty minutes later.

Hong Kong Stadium where Rugby Sevens was hosted. Very impressive venue.

Hong Kong Stadium where Rugby Sevens was hosted. Very impressive venue.

There is one thing I need to explain about Rugby Sevens that differs slightly from normal rugby games; it is a time to dress up, and not as in formal wear, but as in Halloween.  I don’t know why, I probably don’t want to know why, but it’s tradition. Therefore, the rugby teams of HKUST (boys and girls) carried on the tradition proudly; the girl’s rugby team was dressed as Crayola Crayons and the boys were dressed as knights and warriors (made out of beer can boxes), superheroes, and anonymous guys with afros and sunglasses.

To say the least, we had a blast.  The matches were pretty fun to watch too (the USA kicked Portugal’s butt; and fun fact the US rugby team was one of the best in the world, too bad the US didn’t care one whit about rugby inside the country), but being with the other onlookers was what made it really fun. After all the matches ended, our group of 25 or so emptied out into the streets, went and had dinner (I had ramen for the first time. Yum!), and then some people, who weren’t totally exhausted or wasted from the day’s festivities, went out to LKF to continue the revelry in the clubs. I was beat though, and called it a night prior to the usual stumble home at 3 AM.

Want to know what’s in store next? It involves flower cannons and Chinese dragons, and that’s all I’ll say for now. You’ll have to come back to read the whole story.

My first bowl of ramen at Ajisen Ramen post-rugby. Delicious!

My first bowl of ramen at Ajisen Ramen post-rugby. Delicious!

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