When the bosses at the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Hong Kong Trade and Economic Council, together with their key partner Cathay Pacific, decide to throw a party for their key contacts in major Asian cities, they really do so in style. All week, the top executives of these three entities have been traveling around Asia to host a Chinese New Year dinner in each city -- a "Spring Dinner" to usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
SPRING COMES EARLY TO MANILA
Last night was the fancy Spring Dinner in Manila, which included pretty amazing entertainment and a delicious eight-course lauriat, including Peking duck, steamed live garoupa and abalone. (Regular blog readers may remember that we were on Day 4 of our one-week Juju juice detox yesterday so, yes, we had only a tiny morsel of each course.) It made us feel like visiting Hong Kong again soon. We've flown to Hong Kong about half a dozen times in the past months, but unfortunately it's only been to transit at the airport onwards to another destination.
However, Travelife Magazine featured Jenny Rockett in Hong Kong in our recent Dec-Jan issue, and my staff spent a couple of fun days in Hong Kong shooting Jenny Rockett on location and gathering information for the pretty comprehensive guide to what's new and what's cool in this exciting city. I would've gone along except I was on my way to another part of the world at exactly that time; and so a Hong Kong trip is really long overdue.
The evening began with the requisite Lion Dance followed by a round of speeches. However, unlike the usual, these speeches provided a lot of interesting information. Ana Thompson, regional manager for Asia of Cathay Pacific, for instance, flew in from Hong Kong for this dinner and gave a speech at the very start. Cathay Pacific had an extremely good year in 2010, she said, and 2011 was looking to be along the same lines.
NEW BUSINESS CLASS FOR CX
Cathay Pacific, too, is rolling out an entirely new business class in a few months -- something which should be of interest to many Travelife Magazine and Travelife blog readers. They currently have the individual fish-bone structure for Business Class on their long-haul flights, but this is going to change shortly into something much better. "Think of it as a mini First Class," said one of our Cathay Pacific friends last night.
That's certainly good news -- especially as Cathay Pacific is one of the airlines most convenient for travel from Manila, because of the Hong Kong hub (we also like Thai Airlines with its Royal Orchid service and its Bangkok connections) and one of the airlines of choice for travelers from Manila to the United States. Well, the first jets with the new business class will roll out for the Hong Kong-Sydney flights very soon, to be followed by flights to the United States. I think they're planning to use the new business class-configured jets for the inaugural flights to Chicago later this year.
WONDERFUL MUSIC BY THE COMPANY
Apart from meeting all our friends at these three key entities, who are also among Travelife Magazine's most valued business partners, we really enjoyed the performance of The Company last night. In keeping with the theme of travel and tourism, they performed a series of songs from around the world and of different eras, including some contemporary hits, a song from Brazil and a song in Cantonese.
The Company performed at the Gawad Kalinga Hope Ball last October, which was co-organized by Travelife Magazine together with the Peninsula Manila and Rustan's Corporation, and I really enjoyed listening to them then. Unfortunately, as vice chairman of the ball and the auctioneer as well, my mind was on a million and one things on the night of the GK Hope Ball, and I could only really enjoy one song in full. But last night, I was just one of the dinner guests, so I was able to take in The Company's performance and enjoy it immensely. I didn't have anything else to think about so I could focus completely on the music -- or at least, almost completely.
J OF A DOZEN TEXTS
Midway, my phone pinged and it was J of a thousand texts (recently downgraded to J of a dozen texts), who was literally halfway around the world on the way to another airport on a freezing morning with snow on the road. We texted a couple of times and then finally I typed out: "The Company is performing now and I really like them. So my attention is divided and I'm only going to text you in between songs."
"Well, my attention is divided between you and the icy road over here," he replied, not one to resist a teasing challenge. And just then, The Company was singing a really nice song and I should've waited and texted him my reply when it was over, as I had earlier said, but I just had to shoot back: "What else is new? Your attention's always divided."
NIGHTCAP AT OPUS
And then it was time to leave and to head on to Opus for the grand launch of its series of Tuesday Night parties. The party was in full swing when we arrived and they were actually playing music we loved but with a lot more edge interspersed into it. None of this techno-beat that's just so hard to relate to. It felt like college all over again -- and what a nice feeling that was.