Once again, Helen had prompted me to start writing my year ender. Helen’s highlight of the year was her 50th Wedding Anniversary. As I was congratulating their achievements, I silently counted that I would have celebrated my 46th Wedding Anniversary had Rosita lived on. She still came to my dreams, often with our two children in their teens or even younger, talking of whom I have not seen them in person for more than a few years by now. I had had video chats with my son who had embarked on a new career; and it doesn’t seem likely that either of them would visit Hong Kong in the short term, implying that they had yet to renew their Hong Kong Identity Cards. On our part, we have not left Hong Kong since March 2020, and we have no plans to travel in the short term, even though the border has opened up and more planes are flying in and out. Against such background, friends have been asking when we would resume going places, as if it were a major concern in our lives, except that it is not.
It is true that Hong Kong was almost shut down in the first four months of this year. In March in particular, the statistics on infected cases were horrendous and people, particularly old people, were dying like flies such that hospital wards had more dead that living at times and mortuaries and funeral homes simply could not cope. Some friends with UK and North America connections had chosen to spend time outside Hong Kong for a few months initially, but which were invariably extended to six to nine months as Hong Kong continued to impose mandatory quarantine for all arrivals. Most of them caught Covid soon after arrival, but were resigned and even glad to have it. It was a strange situation indeed; and in a way a time for serious retrospection and mindfulness practice. Meanwhile, US-China relations had never been as worse and the western media had been routinely bashing first China and then Hong Kong, which was tough for morale generally. Sometimes, I am resigned to the reality that the media and the internet can’t be trusted.
Even as I am composing this piece, more friends had ridden on Helen’s posting and added their news, which are mostly heartwarming even if uneventful. Su had booked for us a holiday to Maldives that was to take place towards the end of 2020. As it turned out, the trip couldn’t take place. While we had the flights canceled with full refund, the holiday package remained in the books, which later was discounted and converted to points for staycation in selected local hotels. Against such background, Su had booked ourselves into a few top hotels on which we would have never thought of spending money otherwise. Thus, we went on a few staycations to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary in real holiday style, bringing with us at times fancy clothes for selfies and equipment for location photography. We also took up good food and wine packages at these hotels most of them offered excellent services and good values. Su catalogued these hotels in a recent posting on her social media page and I would not repeat them here, except to highlight one or two memories below.
First, in-room and self-generated luxury. By this I meant that we had brought bubblies, caviar, oysters and other goodies to our hotel room, put on some fancy clothes and had a long meal looking at the city lights through the window. Second, exclusive poolside wining and dining at The Peninsula. It was during the shut down period for pools, but the venue was still open for dining. Having arranged late check out, we bought a two-hour free flow bubblies session, demolished more than three bottles and brought home the fourth with half consumed. We didn’t need dinner or food for the rest of the day. Third, befriending hotel staff. Su’s trader instincts and training had got us maximum benefits from hotel staff that she had befriended. There was this young lady with a Master’s Degree who was an intern whom we met recently. She became so friendly and took pictures with us as if we were part of the family. Fourth, learning new things. As we moved between different hotels, we picked up new skills to work on gadgets which we otherwise might not, all rather interesting. Su also concluded that one should have staycation in the festive seasons. For one thing, it is good value to have oneself surrounded by tall Christmas trees with colourful and beautiful decorations and by friendly and smiling staff with smart seasonal costumes.
The Year 2022 certainly appeared to have passed by rather quickly. Paradoxically, we have probably met more friends and interestingly, Su managed to push my book to friends she had not met for a while; while some other friends who had bought the book had asked when I would publish the sequel, even though some of them admitted unashamedly they had yet to finish the first.
Next year – 2023 – marks the 20th year of my retirement and my official 75th birthday, when I would have a big discount for ski pass at Whistler, if Su decides that we would resume skiing etc. On that note, I wish all of you out there a happy and mindful season ahead, a New Year that will be filled with new hopes and opportunities, joy and happiness, and peacefulness and contentment.