The Calgary Reunion and Celebration, 2005
- A Diary by Andy Sae

Andy Sae '59

June 30, 2005
With apprehension about the weather in Calgary we left the hot climate of Toronto behind. We almost missed the plane by lining up in the problem check-in counter, steered there by the airport porter. Otherwise the flight was uneventful. We rented a van and an suv and drove to a rented house. Mabel found it on Ownersdirect.com. It was a furnished two-storeyed house with four bedrooms and a basement. It was our home for the week. Owing to the unprecedented rainfall recently, hoards of mosquitoes were there to welcome us as their new victims. Grocery shopping was next on our agenda. Evening came and we went to the St. Mark's reunion registration at Karen Leung's Edgemont Palace Restaurant. There we were greeted by handshakes and hugs. Some of the faces I knew; others I vaguely recalled, and some I had no idea who they were. Snacks and drinks were served amid the usual noisy conversations of old friends and new acquaintances. The mood was set for the next few days of reminiscence and fun.

July 1, 2005
The weather turned out to be gorgeous. Two more members joined the group, consisting of Susan and Wing, Mabel and Denis, Violet and Eric, and Andy. Susan and Wing played golf and the rest of the group had lunch at the Che's. In the afternoon the Toronto Rappers came to the house for a rehearsal. It was the most hilarious thing I had even seen! In the evening, Karen and Stephen Leung hosted a barbecue in their backyard. What a backyard it was, overlooking the plush rolling hills stretched out to the horizon and a little of downtown Calgary. Karen in a red sweater greeted everybody with her usual bubbling enthusiasm. Conversations started immediately despite the threat of buzzing mosquitoes that seemed to have wings as big as those chicken wings on the grill. There were steaks, curry cuttlefish, salads and veggies, beer and soft drinks, and coffee and tea. Dessert was two cakes topped with icing and the flags of Alberta, celebrating its centennial, and Canada, celebrating its national day. Spontaneously, the group started singing, "O Canada." The entertainment consisted of line dancing, karaoke, chitchatting and plenty of picture-taking.

July 2, 2005
Breakfast was sumptuous and fattening. Lunch was even more so. It was Susan's birthday and we had a surprise lunch party for her with a few local friends at a downtown restaurant, the Centini. She was surprised! After giving the stomach a short break, we dressed up for the evening alumni reunion and birthday celebration for Ms. Lam and Mr. Chan at the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel. It was quite a reunion and celebration with close to a hundred in attendance. There were alumni coming from the U.S., Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Seating was more or less by the year of graduation. There were three of us who graduated in the year of 1959 - Grace Kwong, and me. After reminiscing the good old days, we exchanged updates on our recent activities. After a barrage of group picture-taking, and greetings from alumni associations of various cities, the entertainment began. Samantha Siu sang in her usual moving way and was later joined by Margaret Kwok in a duet. The soothing voice of Wilson Lam gave us a needed momentary relaxation. The sensuous rumba of David Tang and Catharine Kong followed. The Calgary alumni group serenaded the audience. Then came the Toronto Rappers that brought the house down. One of the purposes of this gathering was to celebrate the 80th birthdays of Ms. Lam and Mr. Chan. Teachers change our lives for the better, as evidenced by the success stories we heard across the room. Maria Yan from Shanghai expressed her gratitude to the teachers in Mandarin. Bernard Lau expressed it in belly-busting humor. It was time we recognise the two most prolific teachers who continuously make their presence memorable and precious to St. Mark's alumni all over the world. The most moving presentation was that of Grace Kwong who hand-made two stained glass lamp shades for the teachers. Ms. Lam in her typical cool manner thanked the group. Mr. Chan was visibly moved and praised the St. Mark's spirit that was truly evident at this gathering. Two beautiful cakes appeared. Candles were lit and blown. What a wonderful birthday celebration! Dance music started. Mr. Chan and Karen Leung, and Ms. Lam and Thomas To led the way. Dancing and visiting went on past midnight.

July 3, 2005
The lack of sleep did not hold back the golfer nor us. We assembled at the Edgemont parking lot ready for the scenic tour of Banff and Lake Louise, only to find out that the van broke down before we began! A car carrying several alumni had a flat tire! The bus company sent us a big bus. Some who had planned to drive decided to ride the bus instead and catch some sleep on the way. We left an hour and a half late. Something else went wrong. Hardly anyone could sleep on the bus, thanks to Lily Fung. She roused up the group with jokes, idiom games, tour trivia and laughs. After a quick spaghetti lunch, we toured the area and took pictures. Having been there several times, I was not as excited as I should be. Some of us were anxious to get some sleep on the bus on the way back. But Lily Fung kept us awake again all the way! The farewell dinner awaited us at the Edgemont Palace Restaurant. By popular demand, Bernard told some more jokes that cracked up everybody and gave everyone something to remember about the occasion, in addition to renewed and rekindled comradeship and fellowship that is unique of St. Mark's.

July 4, 2005
The reunion and celebration were officially over. Our plane was scheduled to leave after midnight. Susan and Wing went off golfing again. Ms. Lam and Mr. Chan came to visit. What an honor! Ms. Lam and a number of others were interested in seeing the house we rented for $150 a day. It served us well, being more preferable to four motel rooms. We wanted to tour Calgary. The self-guided tour started in Chinatown and the Calgary Chinese Cultural Center. The director happened to be our own Samantha Yang who personally guided our tour. We were truly impressed and amazed at the time, effort and accomplishments she had contributed to the Center and to the community of Calgary. The next stop was the Devonian Garden at the Calgary Eaton Center and TD Square. It was not much of a garden. However, quite impressive was Selena Che's Perfume Gallerie. Like typical tourists we walked the Stephen Avenue Walk before the stampede of the annual Stampede crowd. Mabel even bought a pair of cowboy boots before the big rush for them. Calgary left us with the impression of a layback, low-key city despite its population of one million. The Calgary Alumni Association left us with the impression that they are a big family of warm, friendly, successful, enthusiastic, energetic and capable St. Markans and their spouses. We owed them a big THANK YOU!