A Fragrant Harbour

Dear Mum,

We’re in Hong Kong. It’s hot.

I never thought I would go to Hong Kong, but I did, and now I’m going to live here for at least a year. Part of the reason HK wasn’t on my travel radar was that I thought it would be a bit boring. It’s got a functioning economy and a complete lack of ninjas. What is the point of it? You couldn’t convince me that it was worth a trip to if you promised me a meeting with Jackie Chan. I was wrong, though. Hong Kong is awesome.

IMG_3046Photogenic, too.

First thing: the weather is unexpected. My mind’s version of HK is just a bland bunch of buildings on an island with little to recommend it, and this sweeping assumption of blandness extended to what I thought the weather must be like. It’s hot, so there’s an improvement on England already. It’s also ridiculously muggy, and I don’t think the humidity has dropped below 80% since we’ve been here. Like England, there is a bit of rain, but English rain is entry-level bullshit compared to HK rain. It storms often, and HK does not fuck around when it comes to storms. Expect thunder and lightning, and none of this wimpy off-in-the-distance bullshit, right over your head. Yesterday we had a thing called a “Black Rain Warning”, which is when it rains so hard the city shuts down. You don’t have to go to work on a Black Rain day, you are advised to not even leave the house.

So there’s that. The next thing is the people. There are a lot of them and they are everywhere. You can’t really get around them, but they mostly seem to be pretty nice. Their sheer number means living space is generally limited. Apartments are much smaller than we’ve gotten used to in Sydney, and the hostel room we are currently staying in is just big enough for a double bed and doesn’t have any windows. The people on the street are also really bad at walking at a reasonable speed, and from what I can gather the national sport is walking as slowly as possible whilst taking up as much space as possible. This gets especially annoying when it’s either actually, about to be, or has been raining, and everyone opens up their umbrellas and effectively doubles their width. The streets are crowded enough already and with everyone now twice the size there’s even less room to manoeuvre. Being a whitey I’m a bit taller than most of the locals, although not tall enough to avoid being poked in the eye by the edge of an open umbrella.

IMG_3060Small dogs would be stepped on and crushed, hence this sort of bullshit.

Apart from that getting around is quite easy. HK has an awesome underground system that is fast and cheap and not even that crowded, as well as buses and minibuses. You pay for it all using an Octopus card, which is the same sort of thing as London’s Oyster card only it’s named after a more kickass sea creature. You can also use it to pay for loads of other stuff, including Maccas and in some cases entry to places and drinks.

Which brings me to the next part: Stuff We Have Done. Last Wednesday night we used our Octopuses to pay for entry to the Happy Valley horse races. The races here don’t seem to have quite the prestige that they do in Australia and Wednesday night at the races is a cheap night out. Jenny’s night was even cheaper than mine since we went with all her new work friends (all female) and they were each given an allowance from their company. I was lucky enough to get a couple of wins from some small bets and more or less had a free night there as well. It was ace. I’ve sort of had enough of hanging out with packs of women though, and it seems like I’m not alone in feeling this as before we left I was accosted by one of Jen’s new colleagues looking for a male buddy for her boyfriend. I’m only too happy to make some new man friends. We can drink beer and watch sport and shit.

IMG_3054The races. Notice how everything is bright all the time? That’s Hong Kong.

Food in HK is both cheap and excellent if you know where to look. A big filling bowl of quality pho noodles is generally under HK$50, which is about $6.60 in real money. We also found a place that does $10 tacos. The fact that the food is mostly cheap is good since we are currently on a very tight budget thanks to both of us not likely to get paid until the end of July.

In Sydney there is a Chinese restaurant called Din Tai Fung, and they do pretty much the best dumplings in this dimension and probably all others. Turns out that Din Tai Fung is a chain of restaurants, and there are a buttload of them in HK. So yeah, we’re eating quality dumplings, too. If this seems like an odd thing to mention then you’ve never had a DTF dumpling.

Other things: I joined a gym. Jenny started work today, but I don’t start for another month. It’s pretty depressing, so I decided to get in shape rather than sit around being miserable and fat. I’ve never joined a gym before, but it seems like a decent way to spend some time. I’m constantly sore but the showers at the gym are better than what we have at the hostel and have shampoo and conditioner in a dispenser in the shower. My beard has never been so soft.

P1070071Jenny’s classes seem to be going well so far, too.

We’ve had some opportunities to play some ultimate Frisbee, with a few pick-up games on most weeks. Turns out a guy we played with once is heavily involved with the local league here, so we are looking forward to catching up and actually getting a run around. There’s a tournament coming up in a couple of weeks, and a friend of ours from Australia (Hi Sep!) is dropping in for a whirlwind visit whilst the tournament is on. So we are keeping active and have a few things coming up.

P1070015Goddammit Jenny learn to centre a picture.

I think that just about covers it for now. Providing we haven’t been scammed we should be moving into our new place later this week. It’s reasonably good for what we are paying and how much space it has. It’s on the Kowloon peninsula, and is only a short walk from the waterfront with some pretty great views of Hong Kong Island. We can’t wait to get settled in and have a fixed address. A window would be nice, too.

Cheers Mum, chat soon.


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