Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Day in my Hong Kong Life

I roll out of bed, but not before I moan and groan and make my ‘monster’ noises. Getting up never seems to get easier. God help me when a child arrives to dictate my sleep pattern. I do the usual routine, one that is common place for anybody recently risen and preparing for work. Rub sleep from eyes, shower, dress, eat, put off walking out the door and then eventually do it.

I call the lift to the 21st floor and get in. Its an old lift and not the most efficient. By the time I reach the bottom I’m already two minutes into my commute. Then, depending on my mood, I have a quick chat with the doorman. ‘Doorman’, as he asked to be called, speaks a high level of English. Either he is chatty by nature or he just enjoys practicing his English with one of the few people around to do so. I don’t mind either way. I’m grateful for his presence and interest in my activities. He is easily the closest thing to a father figure that I have in Hong Kong.

The lobby, or doorman’s office, is blistering cold. In Hong Kong, it’s not uncommon to counteract the miserably hot summer with subzero indoor temperatures. As much as I love Doorman, he has a bad habit of exaggerating a problem. “Ohhhh, its a big problem,” he says when you ask where to dispose of your trash. It didn’t take long to figure out that we have differing ideas of what is ‘problematic’.

Its a good 5 minute walk to the bus stop. 7 if you’re taking it slow. And the beauty of finally having been here a while is knowing the short cuts. Up this side street, through that building and voila, your commute to the bus stop involves only one problem traffic light instead of three. Newbies waste so much time.

And waste time they do! Before my education ‘on how to catch the bus to work’ by the School of Life, I knew of only one bus I could take. There are actually five- and now I no longer have to curse as I see the 601 drive by while I’m stuck on the other side of the busy road. Within 3 minutes the 680, 10, 8 or 19 will be around to take me to work. Settling in really has its pro’s.

Work starts around 10am. This depends on when your first and last class is. Either way you are expected to be there for 8 hours. I’m a teacher, but not at a ‘real’ school. Here we are expected to bend over backwards to please the richest of the rich while helping their children gain entrance to UK schools like Eaton and Harrow. Hong Kong parents are no joke. Being a Hong Kong child is no joke either- their childhood is so vastly different to mine that I struggle to comprehend it. I won’t go into much detail but let’s just say they enjoy a one day weekend, and seeing your friends is reserved for school.

As each day passes and my hope of becoming someone who writes for money lessons, I think more seriously about becoming a ‘real’ teacher at a ‘real’ school. With a PGCE under my belt I could increase my already high pay check by a third, enjoy summer, winter and Easter holidays like a real teacher should and use that time to get my ass to new and old favourite places.

But for now I’ll enjoy my late morning starts and short commute to work. I’ll hope that someday someone feels like employing me as a writer but I’ll also accept the fact that I’m too lazy to pursue that goal entirely. It’s no small mountain to climb and while I feel like I have the equipment, I’m not sure I have the will-power to push through all the others trying to do the same. Even if their equipment sucks.

Oh and speaking of equipment, my laptop is broken and I have to pay through the ass to recover my hard drive and I’m writing this on not my computer and I’m feeling very sorry for myself.

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Why Moving Across the World Doesn’t Always get Easier

Each person, city and country will present its own relocation difficulties, but today you’ll hear about Hong Kong’s (slash mine). I can almost officially say that uprooting yourself does get easier after a while, but there are always those hidden stumbling blocks.

Time to get my gripe on about moving to Hong Kong….

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Its fucking hot. I think its appropriate to have this at the top of the list. I never knew I was one of those weak people who cant handle hot, humid weather, but turns out I am. Its the boob sweat, dehydrating kind of heat that leaves me wondering if next time I’ll be so stupid as to join in on the hike. the only place to be is indoors with the AC on. Although apparently the AC needs to be sub zero in order to counteract the heat. You can’t win.

Finding an apartment. On the one hand there are a tonne of apartments available because people come and go like its nobodies business. On the other hand, property costs about a zillion dollars per square meter. The moment you start looking at places within your budget, you realise your previous ideas of big and small spaces will soon change.

The best part is the down payment on your over-priced apartment.In Hong Kong, be prepared to part with 3.5 month’s rent for your initial payment. Its made up of your first month’s rent plus a 2 month deposit plus half a month’s rent in agency fees. Most people I know had to ask their parents for help when they first set up shop in Hong Kong. Me? Well I payed my dues on the yachts.

I share a 3/4 bed with another above average sized human being. This may sound impossible to westerners but its doable I promise. I’m 5.9 and he’s around 6.1 ft and we, believe it or not, have managed to make it work for us. Its not even that we cuddle the whole night through. The early days and winter are clearly behind us.

The mattress incident. The extra-length mattress we had delivered to us but then needed to return is the mattress we sleep on today. Why is that? Because coffee spilled directly on and ALL over it before they managed to take it away from us. Think of one of your worst 48 hours and then think of this. A stressful and PMS-filled move, topped off with ‘the mattress incident’ that brought me to tears. The mattress now fits because it has to. When I tell this story everyone always wants to know ‘who spilled the coffee?’ the answer is and has to be ‘both of us’ to avoid ruining a relationship over spilled coffee.

An initial loss of social life. Drinking at any establishment is as expensive as if you were doing it in Australia. Drinking alcohol is abut 50 times more expensive, relatively speaking, than anything else here. We’ve been here 3 months and only went out for the first time a few days ago. Moving to Hong Kong without a job or steady income means that you SHOULD NOT have much of a social life at first. That is if you want to keep your head above water, financially.

Other than that, things are going swell 🙂

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