Archive for June, 2008

Tours, tailors, and dinners

June 19, 2008

Admittedly it’s been a while since the last posting, and it’s time for an update to the blog I think. Since the last time I’ve completed my furthest overseas hockey tour to Jakarta in Indonesia (weekend May 24/25). From a blog point of view, tour rules apply in that ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’. However, some of the highlights that can be discussed include how flat Indonesia is. The first very apparent notice were the signs in the airport stating that drug trafficking leads to the death penalty… nice! Apparently Indonesia was a Dutch colony – with a none to popular Governor at one point – and I did wonder if the Dutch thought it was just like home due to the flatness of the landscape. It’s very obvious how the surrounding area was devastated by the tsunami a few years ago as there is no natural defence available whatsoever. Jakarta itself seemed in places to be built on water. The local currency is the rupiah, of which about 1M equals HK$840, which means 1M rupiah is approximately £55. When you’re dealing with such stupid sums it does become difficult to keep a track of how much you’re spending. On the other hand, you do feel pretty rich when you’re withdrawing at least 1M of the currency at the ATM and realising it might not last a single night out.

Playing hockey at near the equator towards the end of May has to be considered uncomfortable at best. it was hot and humid, and drinking beer throughout the day made it no easier at all. I think the strangest thing in Jakarta was moving between the hotel we stayed at and other places we’d go for the nights out. Every large location (hotels and nightspots) would require passing through a security check with under-car mirrors, security guards, and checking the bonnet and boot. Probably even more security than I ever remember in Northern Ireland. I think Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country but with a lot of Western expats and visitors so is potentially a flashpoint for ‘international terrorism’. During my very brief stay there I witnessed nothing. Although I was definitely struggling on the last day of the tour. There is no hangover worse than a Bintang hangover for sure!

I think I’ve previously mentioned that I’d decided to go for a tailored dinner suit for a couple of formal dinners coming up. Basically, myself and one of the hockey coaches thought it would be worthwhile getting a proper tailored sinner suit, as well as bow ties and cummerbunds. We had a couple of measurements before the Jakarta tour with a view to finally picking everything up shortly afterwards for the first dinner the following weekend (May 31). Everything seemed to be going to plan until the Thursday before the dinner when we were due to pick everything up… Unfortunately, the bow ties were not the type you can tie, and the cummerbunds were not silk. I’ll admit I’m quite picky about having a tied bow tie, my view being if you can tie a bow tie, you wear a tied bow tie. Back in the UK, picking up a bow tie and cummerbund is very easy, I’d go to the likes of John Lewis or House of Frasier or a very obvious formal wear shop. In Hong Kong I have no idea where to buy this type of stuff… and suggestions to go to a tailor are not helpful! Eventually we went to Tie Rack and bought not quite red and black matching ties and cummerbunds. Not ideal, not matching with the colours of the jacket lining or stitching we’d chosen, but a lot better than the original option.

Thursday night (29 May) before the first formal dinner (the whole of Valley RFC) involved a night in a friend’s flat, a few plenty of beers and me trying to teach two friends how to tie a bow tie. For those who know how to tie one it’s something that just happens, and then it’s perfectly obvious. Our hockey coach, Buttler, was able to figure it out pretty quickly. It’s just like tying a shoe lace after all… However our American friend, Dougal, just struggled thorughout the entire evening until after plenty of beer it just seemed to work. I just had to keep my fingers crossed that they could manage it on the night itself. To make matters easier we agreed to meet up beforehand arrive to the dinner location together…

Much to my surprise, we all managed to get changed and have our ties done correctly well before we were due to leave for the dinner. And the whole point of the tied bow tie is so that it can be undone later in the evening which it duly was. One of the advantages of being a guy is of course that you can wear the same outfit to multiple formal events. And so, 2 weeks later I was able to reuse my outift for the Hockey section formal dinner. Both events cost approx HK$500 (£35 at the most) and covered a hot buffet meal and as much as you can drink from the bar. This definitely compares very favourably with the equivalent events I’ve been to in the UK.

The tailored dinner suit certainly fitted very well, as you’d expect from a tailered suit. However, the satin on the lapels was a bit too shiny for my liking, and the buttons were white plastic (albeit covered with black material, though I can still see the white plastic…). The complete suit included a shirt too which obviously required cufflinks. Again, in the UK these are easy to find. Over here I’ve not got the slightest clue where to look, and although I did eventually a few shops (M & S being one), a lot of the cufflinks available were either gold (not my colour) or shiny, or worst of all encrusted with fake diamonds. The fashion over here is definitely very bling. Bling is something I’m very definitely not. Eventually I found a couple of sets that I absolutely would not buy in the UK, but I figured passed muster here…

In summary; a very fun tour (which I won’t write about), and two great formal nights out (which I can’t remember enough about to write about).