Fun Fact About Me: I have seen horse racing on three continents.
The first being North America, where there is a race track not 10 minutes away from my house that I have been to a number of times. The second being in Brisbane, Australia, where I might have had too much fun and fell asleep somewhere on the grounds (I won’t divulge where) only to wake up and find that everyone, literally everyone, was exiting but I still saw the horses race…a few of them anyway. The third was in Hong Kong at Happy Valley Racecourse.
Happy Valley is a largely upscale neighborhood, which would explain the Maserati’s, Rolls Royce’s, and Lamborghini’s I saw rolling by – although this is Hong Kong and I saw more nice cars there than I have in my entire life living in Southern California: the place where everyone wants to be seen in a nice car (Sidebar: but I never got that sense in Hong Kong. They just seemed to be cars people drove around, used as status symbols but not in the flashy way I’ve seen back home.).
The Happy Valley Racecourse has races held nearly every Wednesday night during racing season and my friend currently living in Hong Kong thought that this would be a good way to end my visit. It’s an easy place to get to by either taxi, or you can walk from the Causeway Bay MTR station, but
the preferred my preferred method is by Tram. It will be cramped and it may take a bit longer, but it’s all a part of the experience and it allows you to see the city in a new way.
Take the tram all the way to the Happy Valley Terminus and if you’re uncertain if you’ve reached the right place, take a look around and you’ll see the Racecourse right next to you and, most likely, the rest of the passengers will be getting off at this point as well. Or, when in doubt, just ask. The tram operator will be happy to let you know if you’ve reached your stop.
The lights make this place seem more grand and exciting than just your normal racetrack. Walking up, I was taken aback at the box seats & luxury suites that arose from the grandstands. Then there was the music pumping through the speakers and even a fashion show! It was not something I was accustomed to seeing at racetracks, then again this was my first time in Asia so there were bound to be some new and exciting things. Across the open track the high rise apartments, that are no doubt expensive, caught my eye. The lights from the track illuminate the buildings closest to them, but as civilization expands outward the buildings seemingly get taller and their yellow lights shine in the black night like stars.
The Racecourse is a popular gathering spot for expats from the UK, Australia, the USA and who knows where else. I heard their accents as I walked by and I was amazed at how far some people have come from their home countries to live & work. I then learned of an acronym for a certain type of expat: FILTH – Failed In London Try Hong Kong. Is it true? I have no idea. I was only there for a few days, but the Brits I saw looked fairly successful…if I were solely judging them on their clothes and arm candy – which both indicated that they were successful – at least visually… I digress.
The races themselves were rather, well, pedestrian with the highlight being the brie & bacon hot dog I ate with my beer. Full disclosure: I don’t bet on sporting events. This dates back to Super Bowl XXXIV when I bet four of my friends $5 each that my Tennessee Titans would beat the St. Louis Rams. I was only out $20 but I learned the hard way of the pitfalls of betting on sports & gambling with your heart instead of your head and I vowed from that day on I wouldn’t bet on sports. Now I stick to the occasional blackjack and slot machine where I keep a limit. Anyway, not betting on the horses probably made the night less exciting but I kept my money and enjoyed the sights and sounds that Happy Valley had to offer.