Thursday, August 2, 2007

Day Eleven, Hello Hong Kong

Day eleven:

Naturally, today passed by in a breeze, literally. At 1:30 pm Jackie, mom and I deplaned and were greeted by three young Asian women holding a big sign reading, "welcome laine Ashker to hong kong" with the 2008 Olympic insignia adjacent. The girls gave Jackie and I our credentials, but because there was a misunderstanding in the hong kong communication lines, mom didn't receive her owner passes. After receiving our passes, the girls expedited our wait through customs and took us out to the baggage claim where we were met by Sara Ike, US eventing director. We waited for bucks flight to get in and after 15 minutes, the 6 Americans were loaded into three US team shuttles, and making way for our hotel, the royal park. After we dropped our bags at our rooms (which were lovely) we hastily congregated in the lobby and waited for the shuttle to take us to the horse park. The shuttle ride weaves in and out of the city, passing by lush green parks and a beautiful river enclosed by a steep canal. Finally when you see three large stark white domes, you have arrived to the horse park. We got off that shuttle, had our credentials checked and the boarded a different shuttle that would take us closer to the barns. A few more turns and twists and then we stop at a towering gate, which is the sub- entrance into the stabling area ( as you will find out, there are many different entrances depending on each persons job and believe me, security is tight!). We walk another 100 yards and approach a securely built and gaurded gate we are to enter. After sanitizing our hands, we are now in the vicinity of the horses. The whole transportation process took about 40 mins which both buck and I will definitly keep in mind for our preparations for the upcoming test event. Because our horses haven't arrived yet, buck and I decide to peruse around the horse park to become a bit more affiliated with our surroundings. We decide to walk to the race course. There, we find two practice rings, a bridle trail that has a beautifully manicured sand/felt based footing, and in the middle of the track exists a lower level cross country course, perhaps something we will be able to use as schooling fences later in the week. After 25 minutes, the horses arrive, as wide eyed as they've been. However, when they're escourted to their stalls, they quickly settle in by drinking a whole bucket and nibbling their haynets. Their blood work is taken after they have settled in. This will be a daily procedure for every horse competing as the vets will use their blood levels to decide which modes are most beneficial to the horses. In addition, the horses will be weighed daily in order to target their liquid consumption. After the horses were done with their tests, and the media cameras finally left the barn, buck and I left the park to meet my mom for dinner. The girls stayed back to walk and feed the horses. When we went to dinner, we did what most first timers do, go to a Chinese restaurant. Aside from not knowing what the heck general tsos chicken was, much to bucks and my dismay, our dinners turned out to be very apetizing! With our stomachs full and a little help from some advil pm, we headed off for bed in a different continent, a different time zone, and a different culture but still with the same goal: to bring home paramount information for next years team, and to set the fast pace in which the rest of the countries can aspire. See you tomorrow!