Monday DESPITE the late night at the Dynasty Club with our VIP guests on Varig's inaugural flight from Brazil to Hongkong, I wake early in the knowledge this will be a long week of short nights. After a quick dose of caffeine (being Italian, this is the only way to start the day), I drive to my office in the Lippo Centre to deal with the weekend's paperwork. With 40 Brazilian VIPs in town, a mountain of faxes and telexes is inevitable, but my secretary, Suan Cheng, soon puts it all in order. Being on the 21st floor, my office has a great view across the harbour. Today, however, the weather is miserable - not ideal for our planned trip to Stanley Market. A quick chat with Janny Yau at Swire Travel and a new itinerary is sorted out. After putting the finishing touches to the arrangements for this evening's inaugural dinner reception in the Grand Hyatt Ballroom, I catch the MTR to join the group for lunch in the Regent. Then back to the office and more faxes to answer before heading home for a quick shower and change of clothes before tonight's gala dinner. More than 300 people pour into the ballroom, which looks stunning. The room is decorated with hundreds of lanterns, and there is a 20-piece Chinese classical orchestra, calligraphers and a lion dance. I am thrilled to see the local guests queueing alongside the Brazilians to watch the various demonstrations. While I admit to suffering from that incurable disease called perfectionism, the evening surpasses my expectations. At 11 pm, I sit down with Varig chairman Rubel Thomas and talk at length on ways to strengthen passenger and cargo traffic between Hongkong and Brazil. This is to be the pattern for the next four days: we never stop discussing ways to shorten our projected six-month break-even period. I finally make it home at 1 am, and it's straight to bed. Tuesday I am up bright and early, knowing I cannot afford to lie in! While the group goes on a morning's sight-seeing tour, I spend valuable time in the office. I would like to accompany them, to be on hand with as much information on the territory as possible, but this precious time has to be spent elsewhere. I join the group again in Repulse Bay for a civilised lunch at the Verandah restaurant. It's such a beautiful spot, and the Brazilians are impressed with the food and the setting. Afterwards, I accompany them on a shopping trip, taking them to Chinese stores. They are particularly impressed with China Arts and Crafts. Shopping is proving to be a major activity. Later, I organise a briefing session for 15 Brazilian journalists and the Brazilian ambassadors from China and the Philippines, the director of the Brazil Development Centre in Taipei and the Brazilian Consul-General in Hongkong, Arnaldo Carrilho, which provides a valuable insight into the economic and commercial positions in the speakers' respective countries. This turns out to be useful for all concerned as it highlights the new route's two-way benefits. It is gratifying to be able to tell our guests the export trade from Hongkong to Brazil increased by 40 per cent in 1991, and the new direct link should stimulate performance even more. We are investing a great deal of resources in the new service, and it is encouraging to hear the positive comments from the Brazilians about the potential of Hongkong as both a business and tourist destination. Then it is on to meet the Hongkong Tourist Association's Eugene Sullivan and Torre Ozmo to discuss ways of promoting Hongkong in Brazil. Then back to the Grand Hyatt for dinner with Mr Thomas and Varig's commercial director, Joao Luis de Souza, for further discussions. I fall into bed at 1 am. Wednesday A hectic morning, half in the office and half answering the group's endless questions. They are so enthusiastic. I leave them to meet the Hongkong Trade Development Council's Dennis Yau and Mr de Souza. We discuss future trade exchanges, in particular a trip by a group of businessmen to Rio in March. The HKTDC is planning a number of delegations to Brazil this year, which is encouraging. After a quick lunch, I slip off with our chairman and Brazil's Minister of Aeronautics, Mr Lelio Vianna Lobo, for an afternoon's shopping. Like me, they like to get a feel of local culture when they travel, so we decide to walk the streets as tourists. People's attitudes and behaviour are as telling as commerce and trade figures, and we use the time more as a survey than a shopping expedition. The chairman then literally orders me to stay home tonight and take a rest. As he's my boss, I daren't refuse. My Filipina maid cooks perfect Italian food, so she rustles up a delicious supper and I sit down for the prescribed rest. At least I try - but my phone doesn't stop ringing. Head office calls from Brazil about a new fare package, last-minute arrangementshave to be made for our commercial director who is going to Tokyo tomorrow, and a call comes in from a colleague in Bangkok. Then the chairman phones to ask if I am relaxing! Bed at midnight - an early night. Thursday A tight schedule lies ahead. A second group of 14 VIPs is arriving from Rio this morning, and the first group departs for Bangkok this afternoon. The airport has become my second home in recent weeks. First to the office and then to Kai Tak for the arrival of the 9.55 am flight from Bangkok. I am amazed at the new group's positive attitude, despite the cold weather. I try to adopt their ease: a quick snack, then back to Kai Tak with the first group. The flight takes off at 4.20 pm and I am soon back to start all over again with group two. First event - a welcome dinner. Friday The second group starts its first full day with a tour to the Po Lin monastery. I ensconce myself behind my desk for a few hours, then join them for lunch. As it's the first day of Chinese New Year, offices are closed but luckily many shops are still open. This group is as fascinated with shopping as the last, so I take them around Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. In the evening, we have a pleasant dinner at the Aberdeen Marina Club, complete with fan dances and traditional Chinese performances. Straight home to bed at midnight. Saturday This was to be a day of leisure, but I remember the shops are closed for the public holiday and I don't want to leave the group alone. So a quick change of programme and we take the tram to The Peak - a risk as the weather is still appalling. I have been in Hongkong more than three years now, but I am a little embarrassed to admit the Peak Tram experience is as new to me as it is to them. The Peak is shrouded in a cold, foggy mist but, miraculously, the weather is kind and lifts its veil for a few minutes. We are all struck by the sheer beauty of the harbour. Back by chartered bus to Stanley Market in the hope that the shops will be open. Only one has decided to ignore the New Year tradition, but it is enough. The group virtually empties it in their enthusiasm. Tea restores our strength. I am forced to drink an Irish coffee in an attempt to warm up - what a hardship! I have a break from the social whirl and spend the evening at home. I have plenty of reading material as the journalists arrived with a welcome gift - a huge pile of Brazilian newspapers!