Our sartorially splendid Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has been hard at work helping to put together Hong Kong's first official mission to South America scheduled for later this month. While we were fascinated by the exotic itinerary of the trip - with visits to Brazil, Chile and Argentina on the agenda - what was even more interesting was the line-up of corporate leaders who will accompany Dapper Donald. Two of the business bosses included in the line-up for the trip appeared particularly intriguing: Hang Seng Bank chairman David Eldon and Alexander Au Siu-kee, who until recently was the bank's chief executive but has now joined rival Standard Chartered Bank. If you recall, there was plenty of speculation about the reasons for Mr Au's departure from Hang Seng in March. Much of it centred on one David Eldon - who was appointed to the chairmanship of Hang Seng over Mr Au during a management reshuffle in October. Word had it that Mr Au's annoyance at being passed over for the bank's top job was one of the key reasons for his sudden departure to Standard Chartered. There has been no confirmation on how much Mr Au and Mr Eldon will be physically travelling together - but we wonder if there's a Business Class aircraft cabin in South America big enough for the two of them. Good to see that frugality is alive and well in Hong Kong government circles. The Trade Development Council (TDC) is stumping up the highly impressive figure of $8 million for the financial secretary's South American trade odyssey. According to the TDC, the high cost of the trip is in part due to the fact it is adopting a 'bring your own model' policy for fashion shows it will stage during the visit. Not for our esteemed trade body the ignominy of having a South American clothes-horse showcasing Hong Kong apparel! No doubt the models will be part of the delegation throughout the South American trip. We can hardly wait to see Dapper Donald's South American trade caravan hit the road. There's been a spot of dissension between property industry types just lately about the state of the luxury real estate market. If you listen to the boss of one of Hong Kong's largest agencies, FPD Realty, Frank Marriott, everything's looking chipper - and there's no room for doubt. 'FPD Realty advises prospective end-users and upgraders to consider acquiring properties within the next few months, to take advantage of the market having reached its final downturn and to position themselves for the future,' he gushed. And we're sure there's not even a hint of self-interest in that statement, Frank! By way of contrast, Tracy Liu Yuet-yee, sales supervisor for Midland Realty in Central Mid-Levels, was much more downbeat in her assessment of the state of the upmarket property sector. She compared it with Hong Kong's changeable meteorological circumstances. 'The luxury market is like the weather,' she lamented. 'Some days it rains and some days the sun shines. You just can't predict what's going to happen.' Blame it on El Nino, Tracy. It seems to have caused just about anything else you care to mention. At the rather less luxurious end of the property market, the Government has announced - amid little fanfare - the sale of some rather troublesome flats. You may recall about a month back, public property administrators were preparing the sale of units in Telford Gardens, Kowloon Bay, with blocked toilets. As one authority source confided to us, the resulting smell in some of the flats was pretty pungent. The Government decided to sell the flats, after some police officers and civil servants refused to move into them and others shipped out early in their tenures. We can now reveal that all of the questionable flats on offer have been sold for more than their reserve price, with prices ranging from $1.2 million to $2.2 million. These prices might not sound gargantuan, but authorities appeared to be virtually dancing a jig about the results of the tender. Francis Shum Kwok-sher, chief property manager with the Government, certainly sounded chuffed: 'We had only 17 flats [in the development], and 276 people bidding,' he exclaimed. There's no shortage of people, it seems, looking for a bit of fragrance in their lives.