Visiting Min Ron Nee With Frank – Hong Kong Cigar Experiences

1 May

nfc capPart One

What started as the “European Cigar Tour” in early April travelling to Leipzig, Lommel, Amsterdam and Antwerp with my buddy Frank, became an Asian cigar tour as we travelled to Hong Kong for a full week to visit my ( and now our ) friend Min Ron Nee.

Having taken Frank along a few times to the Vatican aka as Havana during the Festival, I decided this time to take him for a private audience with the Pope.

This was my fifth visit to this great man, author, collector and most gracious host.

I understand Frank feeling nervous and excited and he was right to be, but already from the first contact with MRN after our arrival he was fascinated by our host, the chemistry worked, a great bond was established between the two and it was all fun, good conversations, lots of ’96 champagne, the best vintage cigars and abundant food.

After a long day in the village with Frank arriving from Belgium at noon, we first had a cigar, then lunch and then more cigars in my terrace and in the pub, all the while looking at our watches and wishing time would fly so we could take off.

More cigars followed right by the gate at FRA airport waiting for our flight.

I was very happy our B-747-8 happened to be the famous “Siegerflieger – Fanhansa” aircraft that flew home the “Mannschaft” as world champions from Rio de Janeiro to Berlin and did a low pass over the millions of fans waiting down-town for the victory party. Very proud of my company.

The flight was extremely smooth and after a nice dinner we used the large beds to sleep, arriving very refreshed in the mid-afternoon to be picked up and taken to the Hyatt Regency. Large, spacious 40 m2 rooms overlooking the Shatin harbour.

A shower, some cold Tsingtao beers and a good cigar and the van and driver appeared on time again, this time with MRN to take us to his home for dinner.

A very relaxed and casual MRN treated us to a great home dinner menu and we had two excellent bottles of ’96 vintage champagne :

They were:

1. 1996 Billecart Salmon Grande Cuvee.

2. 1996 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses.

Arild said this Champagne was Number One in a Swedish blind tasting.

And MRN sent him one bottle.

We did a comparison afterwards and concluded that No.1 is better.

We then retired to cigars.

I had brought some different vitolas of single vega Hector Luis Prieto cigars, fresh, 1 year old and 3 year old and again MRN was very happy with these “La Flor del Tabaco” cigars as he likes the old style tobacco taste and aroma.

We had some presents for our host, some bottles of methode champenoise Winzersekt from my village, a bottle of 100 yr old and one of 150 yr old Grand Marnier, which he enjoys a few drops in his champagne and Frank had commissioned a Belgian chocolatier to create a reproduction of Partagas Culebras in chocolate, complete with band and inside an original Culebra box.

A very relaxed evening followed and the story of the “European Cigar Tour” was passed on in detail to MRN as we had brought some very special boxes for him as well that will appear in the II Edition and that make him the only collector to have found these rare pieces of cigar history. More details and pictures later on.

Very proud of my achievement on his behalf.

As much as we would have loved to stay longer, our bodies were tired and we had to rest as we didn’t want to get caught in the jet-lag trap so we returned to our hotel.

Still, we kept our routine of having a cigar and a few drinks to wind down, this time the very tasty Talisker Dark Storm single malt we brought with us from FRA, and sat by the pool winding down from an exciting first day. I could feel my body being in Hong Kong but my mind was still on its way.

We forced ourselves to get up at 09:00 and had a very good buffet breakfast by the pool ( the buffets at the Hyatt Shatin are excellent value and always crowded with locals ) followed by a cigar.

Then it was a quick MTR ride into Tsim Sha Tsui and we played tourists – well, not really, as after more than 70 trips to HK I am quite familiar with the city.

First stop was my optical shop, Colors in Optics, where Wilson and Albert worked quickly and most efficiently in providing me with some new pairs of glasses at excellent prices and perfect service – in fact Frank also got himself some new eyewear.

Then it was off to Swindon Books for some reading material – I miss not having English literature.

For nostalgic reasons I had to go back to Ned Kelly’s Last Stand, a small jazz bar where air crews and expats meet and where I had some very crazy experiences and good times during my active flying days.

We had lunch there, I reminisced about the old days and we realized we were tired.

Easy fix for that in HK – I took Frank and myself to a foot massage place and booked an hour. I slept half of it while getting a great massage that left us recuperated and ready for a cigar.

We walked through the venerable lobby of the Peninsula over to the Sheraton, my old crew hotel where I stayed some 15 years, and rested our bones in the LCDH.

The PL Corona from 2014 was excellent as was the iced tea, the best we had. We were both convinced that the PL would have more than 5 years on it, so rich and intense it was.

Properly rested we continued our walk to the Star Ferry and crossed over to Central, or HK island proper.

We were to meet Edward and his girl friend who happened to be in HK visiting his family.

We had met Edward in Havana and shared cigars and good meals with him and it was a great pleasure to see him again.

Especially in Hong Kong and more so at the Red Chamber Cigar Divan run by PCC.

He had managed for us to have the VIP room and we spent some very pleasant 2 hours there smoking aged RyJ Clemenceaus and sipping Jack Daniels & Ginger ale while shooting the crap away.

I had suggested Lamma island for dinner – the beauty being the 40 minute trip on a private boat admiring Hong Kong’s impressive skyline at night.

I had been there many times before, it was Edward’s first time.

Well, this time the only beauty was really the boat trip, as we were faced with some issues.

Although the restaurant is open air we could not smoke at the table, only 2 smoking tables were available … in front of the toilets …

The seafood was OK, but halfway through dinner we were told we had to leave by 9:30. The poor waitress was embarrassed, apparently with so few patrons the manager had decided to call it an early night.

Well, he was not giving me face so I decided to give him a good dress-down after which he apologized and promised to have the boat ready by 10:30.

We didn’t let the silly sucker ruin our cigars and finished them properly if not in the best table.

I promised never to return to the Rainbow Seafood restaurant that I have visited for so many years – Lamma island has more restaurants and if they don’t want my money I gladly take it somewhere else.

I should have listened to MRN who advised me against eating there – well, we fell into the tourist trap.

But the ride back was spectacular again and compensated for the poor experience.

Back to the Hyatt by midnight and another cigar and a few glasses of the Talisker before happily going to bed.

End of Part One.


One Response to “Visiting Min Ron Nee With Frank – Hong Kong Cigar Experiences”

  1. Robert 02/05/2015 at 01:01 #

    nice SOL Box 😉