Hong Kong has always been a place for transients. People flit in and out of the place, leading to a somewhat shallow, disconnected culture among the expatriate community. When we first landed in 2009, this view was consensus, but now it could not be further from the truth: our children are growing up here, we decorate our homes as if we owned them (some hope!) and, most importantly, the true bonds of friendship have been formed.
Because of this, saying goodbye to two of our closest friends last night seemed particularly poignant. This weekend they are heading back to their native New Zealand with their two children, having spent the last 13 years here.
As we walk through the village, the big temperature board at Stanley Main Beach reads 23 degrees. Under this cool and clear Hong Kong evening, we assemble at the home of their immediate neighbours, gracious and accommodating. Next door, now that the packers have been through, only empty rooms and years of memories remain.
The pretty little garden – beautifully lit with fairy lights and candles – plays host to our small gathering, filled with its generous spread (above) and conversation about what everyone’s plans are for Christmas. The kids fly in and out, adding energy to what is an otherwise reflective atmosphere.
To mark their send-off, we agree it was only appropriate we open some true Kiwi vinous heavyweights, as well as a ringer in the form of a French bottle we gifted them 3 or 4 years ago…here goes.
2008 Dry River Pinot Noir: this Martinborough-made wine has always been a serious Pinot, made in Burgundian style and built to last. Seven years in, it is more savoury than fruit on the nose now, with a noticeable savoury farmyard character. A touch closed, it could have done with some time in a jug first, but a pleasure to drink
1997 Chateau Montrose: rocky minerality and graphite jumped out the glass, and, in keeping with the 1996 vintage tried recently, the fruit made a late appearance once we were actually drinking it. This one seemed more approachable though. Lovely balanced and classy Claret from the St Estephe AOC of Bordeaux’s Left Bank.
2009 Te Mata Coleraine: probably NZ’s finest example of a Cabernet Sauvignon-led blend, made with fruit from the picturesque vineyard with the eponymous house. Leather was the first thing that hit me, then red fruit from the 43% Merlot. Grainy tannins on the palate indicated the longevity this wine will enjoy away from our bottle, then rich dark fruit and mocha on the finish. Brilliant wine
As the evening draws to close, speeches and thanks are given, and the emotion of the moment becomes clear. Our friends have, in this mini community of ours, been central to a lot of people’s lives for many years now, and their presence will be genuinely missed.
We will, of course, see them again, not that we ever needed an excuse to head down to the fantastic part of the world that is New Zealand. As the notion of where – and what – home is becomes increasingly hard to fathom, we consider the life we enjoy here in Hong Kong, and how our own family’s future may indeed pan out.
Here’s to you, Marcus and Katrina.