Greetings from sunny Hong Kong, where an incoming super typhoon has meant that my flight outta here has been grounded for 24 hours. Having been here the better part of a week means I’ve been able to sample many of the delights this manic city has to offer such as the night markets, the views from Victoria Peak and some absoultely amazing food. By far though, the most fun has been the night I went to the Happy Valley Racecourse.
The guesthouse I am staying at here is incredible. It has recently had a luxury refurbish and is run by young, sociable people who really enjoy partying. The quality of this place is impressive and this is reflected in the price. Lets just say Hong Kong is turning out to be rather a drain on funds. One of the benefits of this place is that every night there is an activity on organised by one of the staff, from a trip to the night market on a Monday night to a Movie night in the TV lounge on Saturdays. Wednesdays is the only night nothing is on. And there is a very good reason for this. Wednesday nights are race days at the horses. The group I had been out with earlier that day for the hike up Victoria peak had been informed of this fact by our guide. I was already intent on going as I’d never been to the horseracing before and, as its such a big thing here I thought hell yeah!
Now I’m not normally one for gambling, although I am partial to the odd poker game every now and again. However, the thought of having a go over here filled me with excitement and I think it may have bubbled over onto the rest of the group. By the time we parted ways at the end of the hike we had agreed to meet up later and head out for the races. I hadn’t been sleeping much up to this point so I headed back to the digs for a nap and a freshen up.
After some food and tarting myself up (brushing my teeth and ironing my shirt) I was ready to go and so were the rest of the gang. We had been given free tickets by the guesthouse as well as vouchers for a free beer so, equipped and raring to win some dosh, off we went. It was only a short bus ride away and we needed no navigation to find the spot, we just had to follow the crowds. Suddenly, there we were! About as big as a football stadium and surrounded by glitzy skyscrapers, the place was an absolute madhouse! Totally batshit with crowds of people vying for the betting windows and live bands thumping out covers of current hits from the sides.
Me and the other guy in the group, Keiran, immediately legged it over to get bets down, but were stymied by the computers that said we had to register and set up online accounts. Disappointed, we slunk off to the bar to get our free beers and regroup. By the time we had joined the ladies they had discovered that there were betting slips right next to the machine and had made bets based on the colour that coincided with the day they were born on. A Thai tradition, each day of the week comes with a corresponding colour signifying both good and bad luck. Nicely done girls! A quick check online revealed mine was red! Game on!
Checking the boards of potential horses to back there were a number of jockeys in red, so I decided on number nine for my first bet and waited in anticipation for the games to begin.
When the race began we were all rapt and excitement mounted as the horses came around the final corner and into our view. Thunderous, glossy, muscle bound, these beasts were magnificent. Totally caught up in the moment we all howled for our respective horse to RUUUUUN! There were a few of us who had bet on number nine and we could now see it pulling ahead…third…second…first…past the post! I had won my first ever bet! I had my camera rolling and I have to say this is one of my favourite videos I have ever taken! Check it out here:
By the end of the night we had all bet on multiple races, I had pretty much broken even, I had also pretty much broken my crown jewels on the VR jockey game racing against one of the girls too! I had also shouted myself hoarse (pun absolutely intended)! What a night!