MOONWALKING PROVED to be just a hop, skip and jump for Buzz Aldrin, but the former astronaut decided a journey from the US to Hong Kong was a giant step too big for him last week. Hundreds of delegates who had arrived at 'mission control', the Convention Centre in Wan Chai, to hear the former spaceman promote holidays for star trekkers, were told: 'We have a problem ...' Aldrin, who was to be the keynote speaker at the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Annual Conference, the biggest travel industry event to have been held in Hong Kong for years, had sore gnashers. The conference was carried under the banner 'The Future Is Now', the title of Aldrin's planned speech. PR hype about space travel had gone on for months. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa made his welcoming address to the delegates, who included tourism ministers, airline executives, and hoteliers, but Aldrin was spaced out, nowhere to be seen - suffering the results of minor surgery on a front tooth back in the US. Organisers, embarrassed and dismayed at the news, pulled out all the stops to beam up author Chin-Ning Chu in time for the opening ceremony. Instead of making the closing address as planned, she took the podium in place of Aldrin. But of course you can't keep a good old astronaut down - or should I say up? Aldrin managed to enter our somewhat less-than-pristine atmosphere before the end of the conference. Let's hope they have dentists at the space hotels they tell us we'll check into later this decade. Actually, they did have a dental surgeon on duty for delegates throughout the PATA conference. Perhaps someone should have told Aldrin. We may not have had Buzz Aldrin (though he'll be in this section on Thursday), but later that day PATA was visited by UFOs during a delightful Gold Awards lunch sponsored by the Macau Government Tourist Office. It took the opportunity to show a lengthy promotional film on our naughty neighbour. We didn't get the main course until it was over. There's no free lunch! The Hong Kong Tourist Association won a Gold Award with a marketing video on the SAR: lots of interesting special effects, Hong Kong through the eyes of visitors in a flying saucer. Did I hear someone say our tourism gurus work on another planet? The video informed us that 2.5 million residents have mobile phones and that Hong Kongers sleep an average of five hours a night. You know, the kind of information that will get overseas viewers scuttling off to buy package deals. We weren't told why Hong Kongers have so little sleep. Maybe it's because they buy dot com shares. During the lunch I got talking to Maderson K Ramon, which was predictable enough, for there were only two of us at this table, which was set for 12. He is executive director of the Visitors Board of the Federated States of Micronesia, and this was his first trip to Hong Kong. I asked him what he thought of us. 'Well, I have to say I was very surprised to find strikes are allowed in Hong Kong,' he said. 'I was in your business district on Sunday and there were hundreds of women making some kind of sit-down protest. They even stopped the traffic. They looked like Filipinos.' We talked about Micronesia, and Ramon lamented that over-fishing was threatening the main industry of his islands. The huge demand for fish in Hong Kong was depleting the seas. The main course arrived at last: fish.