What expat doesn’t like going out with their coworkers for a delicious cold beverage after a long day of work? Add in some horses, beer drinking contests, and gambling, and you’ve got yourself a great evening at the races for Oktoberfest.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (Happy Valley Racecourse) is a cesspool for expats on any given Wednesday night, however, during Oktoberfest the racecourse was completely packed to the brim with people. To get from the entrance to midway into the racecourse was maze-like, with a whole lot of “excuse me’s”, some elbows in the air, and a few not-so-subtlety mumbled curse words scattered about.
I live in a more local area on the island, so I am always slightly taken aback when I go out to more expat-populated areas and see how many “Western folk” there actually are in Hong Kong. I often enjoy being in an area with a decent crowd; it usually makes for a more lively, interesting night. However, the surplus attendance this night was borderline overwhelming.
Excruciatingly long waits for the bathroom (oh the joys of being a woman, made worse by the pints of beer dancing in the pit of my stomach) and beer tents, being unable to move more than an inch without bumping into someone else and spilling your beverage all over yourself and/or the other person (so tragic), and not being able to actually see the races unless you are above 6″ tall, made it difficult to enjoy the circus-show atmosphere initially.
Despite the claustrophobic-inducing circumstances, we had a great time (isn’t that what usually happens when good friends and delicious beverages are involved?!). Clearly on larger event nights at Happy Valley, you might be more inclined to attend for the environment as opposed to actually going to watch the races. Though, from experience, that’s the main pull for 95% of the foreigners that you might see there.