Up from Down Under
Lo Hung Kay '65 USA

"You must be Lo Hung Kay!" said a crisp, pleasant female voice.

"Yes, I am," I replied, as my wife and I were riding up the escalator inside the Market Place in the heart of Sydney Chinatown.

"You must be Eileen Chen! This is my wife, Roxana."

Thus, the Sydney reunion began. Others joined us as we sat down and enjoyed dim sum at the Dragon Star Restaurant. It was a happy occasion to momentarily relive our younger days and to foster new friendships.

October 9, 2004 was a beautiful spring day (yes, October is spring for Down Under) when the St. Mark' s Sydney alumni gave my wife Roxana and me a very hospitable welcome to the land of kangaroos and emus. (The Coat of Arms of Australia actually features the kangaroo and the emu, purportedly for the reason that they, like the nation that was being forged, could only move forward.) There were nine of us (including baby Hugo) at the restaurant and the attached picture shows the following:

front row: from left to right, Lau Fung Chun ('68), Eileen Chen ('68), Lo Hung Kay ('65), Roxana Lo, Hugo (the baby, Ho Lai Kuen's grandson), Helen (Ho Lai Kuen's wife);
back row standing from left to right: Kam Sun Sang ('66), Chan Yiu Chuen ('66), Ho Lai Kuen ('61).

I have not seen any of them for a long time, some possibly not since I left St. Markˇ¦s in 1967 (I was in the class of 1965). Wow! 1967! That is 37 years ago! Almost a lifetime! After some reminiscing of the good old days and some exchange of more current happenings, the conversation gradually turned to the headlines of the day. It so happened that Oct. 9 was the Election Day for the Prime Minister of Australia. Everyone present had cast a vote. In Australia, unlike the U.S. or Canada, voting is a right as well as a duty. Voting is mandatory for all citizens. As in most democracies, everyone had an opinion. Some were for John Howard (the incumbent Prime Minister) and some for Mark Latham (the challenger). Some supported the presence of Australian troops in Iraq and others vehemently opposed it. (Later that evening I learned that John Howard was re-elected.)

After a delicious dim sum lunch, Chan Yiu Chuen, Eileen Chen and Lau Fung Chun took us to various tourist spots in Sydney and gave us a personally guided tour. The first stop was the Sydney Fish Market. For the seafood lovers in us, simply the sight of Tasmanian Pacific oysters and Sydney rock oysters in the Sydney Fish Market was enough to make us salivate (too bad we have just had a very nice lunch and couldnˇ¦t take in any more food). Australia has many kinds of unique (strange!?) seafood. There were a lot of "bugs" in the Fish Market. No, they are not the kind of "bugs" that eat people for dinner. On the contrary, people eat them for dinner. Yes, Australians eat "bugs". But don't be so scared. It is not what you might think. A "bug" is actually a shellfish that looks like a lobster without the head. The whole thing resembles a lobster tail, but is a lot flatter and has less meat. It tastes a little like the Atlantic lobster in Northeastern United States and Canada, but is not as tasty and flavorful. It is also known locally as the Bay Lobster or the Squat Lobster. The other unique seafood that was sold in the Market was the live sea urchin ˇV the kind of living thing that has sharp spines all over its round body and is mostly seen in aquariums. Australians eat that too!

After the Fish Market, we crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge to North Sydney where we were treated to a spectacular view of the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the City Center. In front of the Opera House, several pleasure boats were sailing in leisurely fashion on the calm water of the harbour, basking in the warm spring afternoon sun. The water was very clean and not a single piece of floating debris was in sight. (A claim that the Hong Kong Victoria Harbour cannot make). The view was so beautiful that it attracted a fleet of white Rolls Royce escorting a newlywed couple and their guests for some picture- taking in the waterfront.

Later, Eileen Chen and Lau Fung Chun walked us across the bridge, which has a span of 1,650 feet. At a height of about two hundred feet above water, the strong wind that blew across the bridge almost swept us away. Luckily, I caught my souvenir Kangaroo leather hat just in time to prevent it from being blown away. I wondered how the bridge climbers would feel when they climbed to the top! (Yes, for a hefty fee people are allowed to climb the bridge.)

From the bridge, we could see Fort Denison, a rock island military base last used in World War II, and the Kirribilli, the official residence of Prime Minister John Howard, situated in the waterfront directly across from the Opera House. Our Sydney alumni proudly declared that Australia is so safe that even the Prime Minister is able to jog from his residence along the waterfront with only a couple of bodyguards. In contrast, the U.S. President cannot go anywhere without an entourage of Secret Service agents!

On the south side of the bridge, there lies a historical area called the Rocks, the site where the first European settlements landed in Australia around 1788. As if the city was really trying to impress us, we were greeted by a second fleet of Rolls Royce, this time in gold color, carrying another party of happy newlyweds. The photographer squeezed this party of eight, all dressed in gowns and tux, into an antique, red telephone booth for some photo opps. As the sun was setting, we strolled along the waterfront in the Circular Quay where, earlier in the day, a number of performers had purveyed their craft.

In downtown Sydney (oops! In Down Under, they call it City Center), there was this magnificent, glamorous Victorian style building, occupying an entire city block. It was appropriately called the Queen Victoria Building, which was completely restored to its former glory a few years ago. Inside the QVB, there were many exquisite venues for some serious shopping. (By the way, the Aussies love to use abbreviations, but sometimes it is hard to figure them out. For example, do you know what "Pde" stands for and what it is? Answer is at the end of the article). But for those who do not want to shop, there are some very interesting free exhibits, such as the Ching Dynasty Imperial Bridal Carriage made entirely of replica jade and the tableau showing the coronation and jewels of Queen Victoria. If you want to be entertained and not simply read the time off the face of a clock, there is the world's largest hanging animated turret clock called the Great Australian Clock that features moving Australian scenes, as well as the Royal Clock that plays trumpet music and shows British colonial events with a little light, sound and action.

After a whole day of sightseeing, it was time to have our last dinner in Sydney before we headed home the following day. We were very delighted with the delicious and sumptuous dinner at the Regal (Chinese) Restaurant on Sussex Street, one that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Sydney. After dinner, we walked our Sydney alumni to the subway station (oops! train station, as the Aussies call it) and said good-bye to our wonderful hosts who had generously given up their Saturday to make possible this joyous reunion. To my list of places where I have had St. Mark"s alumni reunion, I now add Sydney, Australia!

I should also add Gold Coast, Australia, to the list because a few days before we visited Sydney, we had lunch with St. Mark's venerable music teacher, Ms. Edith Wu, and visited her lovely home on the water in Gold Coast. A couple of photos for that visit are attached.

(Answer: "Pde" stands for "Parade", which, in Australia, means a main road, boulevard, thoroughfare, etc.)