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A golfer's diary

By Christina Monteiro
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 24, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

"I think that is the greatest lesson to be learned when traveling abroad. It is not going to be like home, so don't expect it to be. You need to try everything once and go from there."
Christina Monteiro UA golfer

By Christina Monterio

Christina Monteiro, a sophomore on the UA women's golf team, hit the clubs this summer in Asia. And when she wasn't partying she managed to squeeze in a couple rounds.

"The bars in the Wan-Chai district of Hong Kong were awesome," she said.

Monteiro and six other women from UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State and Stanford headed to Asia June 30 for the Pacific 10 Conference All Star Tour.

While there, Monteiro kept a diary of her adventures:

WEEK 1: Seoul, Korea

There was really no time for us to recuperate from jet lag as we had to play the day after we arrived. We played with American servicemen and the next day with Korean sponsors. I think the most memorable things were the awful weather (poured so hard that at the first two holes there was a river running down the fairways and small ponds were emerging on the greens) and the community showers (we American girls were a bit skeptical of taking showers then bathing together... I think after a day or two we were over that as the shower was so looked forward to after the hot weather on the course. By the end of the trip it was as if we didn't get to shower and gossip together, something was missing).

On days off we would go shopping in Itaewan or Namdemoon. Both were a bunch of little street vendors and underground "malls" that sold every knock-off imaginable. Some sold genuine articles at extremely discounted rates as well. I think our girls put a serious dent in their supplies. We all had to ship a box of things we had purchased home because no one would have room for all of it for the next three weeks.

We played the Korean team the day before we left. It was composed of three-man teams. Amandine Vincent (UCLA), Paula Patterson (Oregon) and I played for the States (I think we were just picked randomly but I am not sure). We beat the Korean team 4-2. There were points for each match played (2 for a win, 1 for a tie, 0 for a loss). I am sorry to say that I was dealt the defeat for us. I am glad that the team won.

As far as cultural experiences were concerned, I think that Korea had the most for us. We were treated like royalty there. We had two of the greatest sponsors, H.Y. Kim and Hac Pyo. H.Y. took us everywhere. We saw all of the sights and ate at all of the finest restaurants. I loved the food, but then again I like almost everything I try so perhaps I am not the best person to ask. Korean food is very spicy (like the temp of Mexican

food). Some of the girls would not try certain things. I think that I became the official taste tester for the group. If I gave a thumbs up, or didn't turn blue in the face, they would all try. I think that is the greatest lesson to be learned when traveling abroad. It is not going to be like home, so don't expect it to be. You need to try everything once and go from there. It was also here in Korea that we had our first run in with Karaoke. BOY, did we have fun and are we bad! That had to be the most remarkable experience for me. You are expected to drink a bunch then sing badly, and to cover up the awful croaking, you need to drink more. Our favorite beginning song, courtesy of (tour organizer) Mr. Larry Wheat, was Diana. The team favorite was Hotel California. Korea was definitely a great place for us to warm up to the Asian culture (and for us to get used to the Kamikaze drivers...white lines and traffic signals mean NOTHING).


Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

"On days off we would go shopping in Itaewan or Namdemoon. Both were a bunch of little street vendors and underground 'malls' that sold every knock-off imaginable."
Christina Monteiro UA golfer UA golfer

Weeks 2 and 3: Japan

In Japan we stayed at two U.S. military bases, Tama (Air Force) and Zama (Army), a swanky Sheraton across from Tokyo Disneyland (which we visited) and a posh hotel Dia Ichi (Nagoya, Japan). Some were nicer than others but all held unique experiences for us. I think we had the most fun while staying on the two bases. At Zama we were entertained one evening for dinner by a few of the Army guys we had played with earlier that day. We

all had a great time.

Our culinary experience here had a little less zip to it. While Japanese food was more mild, it had a lot more flavor I thought. Besides, how can anyone go wrong with raw fish? I learned that I very much liked raw tuna and a Japanese white fish, Pia, I think. By now our chopstick maneuvering capabilities are quite good. Every time we were with someone new at a meal, they would ask if we could use them, I would reply, "Does it look like I am starving?" I think I gained 4 pounds during the month. I was definitely not having any difficulties. The strangest experience for us is that the Japanese like to eat while playing. So much so that every six holes there is a hut you go into (a/c of course) and you can get something to eat or drink there. At the turn, you actually go into the clubhouse, sit down and have a full meal. There is enough time for this because there are separate front nine and back nine tee times (you are assigned one of each). After the round and your shower and bath, you go upstairs again for another meal. Whew, no wonder I gained weight!

Japan's weather was similar to Korea's in that both were at the end of the monsoon season so both had plenty of rain but the temperature remained cooler than it would in the week to come. We were dumped on several times and our caddies did the best they could to keep the equipment dry. Oh, the caddies. Everywhere in Asia the usual thing is to walk. Every group has at least one caddie but sometimes everyone has their own (or more than one a person). These ladies (yes, all are women) have a remote control on their belts that controls a caddie cart. The cart runs on a little track around the course and holds all four bags (depending on the model, some are only two) and the caddie simply runs from you to the cart to bring you your clubs. She also fixes all ball marks, can read the greens, picks up the clubs wherever the men happen to lay them down and gives yardages. She is quite the woman on the golf course. They are usually very shy so it was hard to get pictures of them. Though tipping was not customary there, I usually gave my caddie a logo golf ball from Arizona... they usually like those.

There was a lot of Karaoke in Japan as that is probably where it is most popular. There are Karaoke parlors on every street corner. A parlor consists of 12-20 rooms usually, in which a small table with chairs are arranged. Usually beer and sake is served. Unlike the Americans, Japanese drink their sake room temperature and straight (no sake bombs). Food can also be ordered. The only thing about these parlors is that they can be quite expensive to frequent. I know sometimes our sponsors paid rather large bills for us to have a great night of fun. Another great strip go to in Tokyo is Roppongi. That is a must for any foreigner visiting. It is a major street in Tokyo that is lined with hundreds of bars, nightclubs and discos. Things start hopping around midnight and go until 6-7 in the morning. That is typical of the night life in the big cities.


Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

"Japan's weather was similar to Korea's in that both were at the end of the monsoon season so both had plenty of rain but the temperature remained cooler than it would in the week to come."
Christina Monteiro UA golfer UA golfer

Week 4: Hong Kong and Mainland China

Hong Kong was my favorite place and was unlike any other city in the world that I have ever been to. There is just this magnetism and energy there that either draws you to it or makes you hate it, sort of like Las Vegas (my hometown), I suppose. The whole city is nothing but huge skyscrapers and neon lights. People there work all day and then go into town to party and dance all night. We stayed across the bay from Hong Kong on Lantau Island at Discovery Bay. That is where we played golf as well. We only had one day of golf there with a sponsor named Po Cheung. He is CEO of DHL Express in H.K. and China. There really wasn't much to say about the course except spectacular views. The condition was not very good, unlike the perfectly manicured coursed in Japan.

Po took the team out on his 60-foot yacht for a day on the water. We went to this little fishing village for lunch. The menu was eight aquariums. Yes, you just had to point and 20 minutes later it came out on your plate... talk about fresh! The food of course was great as usual. Along with all of the seafood there are also many chicken dishes. All of the food is brought out and set on a lazy susan and everyone serves from that. There are so many courses/dishes I lost count. After lunch we cruised over to Repulse Bay (most famous bay and beach on Hong Kong) and did a little torpedoing behind the speed boat. Most of us just laid around and soaked up rays as it was nice to have the day off from golf and to be out on the water. We were all getting pretty bad farmer's tans by this time.

Later that afternoon we took a ferry to mainland China and traveled by bus to Chung Shan Golf Club. This is this first golf course built in China since the Revolution (WWII era). It is only 14-years-old and has an American pro and a woman general manager of the club (unheard of in China and most of the US). What a wonderful place to end our trip. The Chinese are very poor in the village near Chung Shan. It reminded me of driving into Mexico only all of the signs were in Chinese. There were all of these huge buildings next to these tin shacks used for homes. I was mesmerized as we were driving through it. Also, there are no lines on the roads, no stoplights and no pedestrian crossings. This is because China does not have any road laws. They drive on both sides of the street basically, usually on the right but sometimes on the left, heck, sometimes on the sidewalk going the wrong direction (i.e. the cab Larry and Charles had taken into town missed the turn on a divided road so he turned around and went back up the sidewalk dodging pedestrians and bicyclists). They are crazy! When we got to the course to play the China team, we were a bit surprised. There were only two girls... there were also five guys. They had us playing from the same tees as the guys were and the course was over 6000 meters (roughly 6800 yards) in the rain (college golf averages around 6000 yards). We had a difficult time so the rules were changed for the first day to a team event where the teams were made up of the foursomes (the China guy, the US girl, and 2 amateur businessmen). I played with two great guys who could also play golf and our team won (thanks mostly to our China teammate). The next day is when the actual match between the States and China took place. We did two-man teams and the best ball was scored in a match play format. We halved the matches 2-2, so we tied China. I think that was one of the best days of golf we had. I really enjoyed playing the two guys that we, Amandine Vincent and myself, did, even though we lost our match 2-1. It was a dogfight the entire way. The Chinese never made a mistake.


Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

"We all had to ship a box of things we had purchased home because no one would have room for all of it for the next three weeks."
Christina Monteiro UA golfer UA golfer

The flight home was nice even though it was 13 and a half hours long. We had upgrades to business class thanks to Pete Trallabalos of United Airlines in Korea. I can't tell you what a difference that makes. So that was the trip. I guess a lot can happen in a month. It certainly was the best experience of my life and I have done some pretty cool things. I would definitely recommend this trip to someone who doesn't mind trying new things and being gone a month (some of the girls were getting antsy, Amandine and I never wanted to leave).


Christina Monteiro

All photos courtesy of Christina Monteiro.


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