Ben in Hong Kong©

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A very stress free Christmas

Christmas this year saw the first time jack and I were not with the family. We started with a vodka at 9.30am and continued topping up throughout the day. Breakfast consisted of a fish finger sandwich and then late morning we went to see the new Sherlock Holmes film. For lunch we both went to a Thai restaurant and ate some seriously tasty food and then in the afternoon we went shopping and then back to the flat to play computer games, eat mince pies, watch films and drink more vodka. Oh and Friday we went to Disneyland so attached are some photos!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jack singing

With the gap students from England. In front of 50 people from the company. Oh dear.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When jack meets decorations

I gave jack a budget for Christmas decorations and came back to find that the sofa looked like father Christmas has vomited on it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The dragons back

So today I took a trip to the dragons back. It is a chain of mountains that looms above Shek O beach and village. It took about two hours in all to complete the hike and it involved a lot of uphill walking, but the weather and views made it worthwhile. That and the amazing Thai food we had at the end.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Langham place

Right next door to my flat is the gigantic building in the picture below. It is called langham place and it houses a cinema, gym, offices, shops, bars and some pretty good food places too. It is huge and where jack and I spend quite a bit of time. Below are some pictures.

Yesterday was the company pantomime and that meant everyone in the office put in three consecutive 11 hour days to get the final prep organised. The show was a huge success though, with jack working backstage helping change the set. I'm trying to persuade him to take a more leading role next week as the company party by dressing up as father Christmas. Not sure if he can be persuaded. Below are some pictures.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jack and food

Walked into the flat today and found my brother tucking into baby octopus.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jack on campus

One thing that has changed since my last long post is that my brother now works for the company. Here are a few pics I took today of his posters, desk and the large room where he usually works and teaches.

A change of pace

This blog is going to change slightly. Mainly because I don't have time to update all the time I am now going to post shorter updates with pictures from my phone. This is the first test to see if I can do it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

When you misplace your property agent

I started in the office on Wednesday, and within five minutes I had various projects and responsibilities handed over to me. My desk has moved, so I am now upstairs, and now my focus is more on staff and students rather than recruitment. In typical fashion the first day was unusual. We went to a Karaoke bar for lunch, and then from around 1pm - 4pm I was singing to such classics as Michael Jackson and Abba.

At the end of that day I left on the MTR and travelled back to Wan Chai. I had a couple of hours to spare before I had to be at the horse races, so I decided I might as well start looking for a flat. Living on Laura and Niks sofa is very comfortable, but I have my university dissertation to be getting on with and I have to focus on work too, so looking for my own place quickly is quite a priority.

I went to three property agents. The first one was not helpful at all, trying to get me to spend more than I was willing to in regards to my budget. My budget is similar to when I was last living in Hong Kong, though I could spend slightly more, my aim is to save money to pay off my MA course, save up for my eventual PHD and also put cash aside for a mortgage too. The second property agent was friendly, and showed me a couple of options on their computer system, but the locations were in Lockhart road and I did not want to live above lots of bars and loud music. The third property agent was more helpful, he immediately grabbed some keys and we looked at three different locations, but they were all terrible, one was half the size of my old studio flat and was located in Causeway Bay. The other two had potential, but the locations were not near either the tram lines or the MTR system and were still a little smaller and more expensive than I would like to pay. It was when travelling to the third flat viewing with the property agent that I lost him. We were crossing a very busy intersection in Causeway Bay, as soon as the traffic stopped the crowds surged across in both directions and amid the bustle the property agent vanished. I crossed the road and waited, but it was clear that he thought I was still following him. I stood there for five more minutes feeling slightly confused before he returned, looking equally perplexed and exclaimed 'Mr Ben, how did you misplace me!?'

I returned to Laura and Niks flat by 6pm and we then went to the horse races. A friend called Cain was singing with his band during the breaks between racing, which was the main reason we were going to show a bit of support. I did not even bet on a horse as I was too busy catching up with or meeting people who Nik kept introducing me to. It feels like she now knows half of Hong Kong!

After the races I decided to head home as I don't yet have the spending money for a big night out. Wednesday night though is ladies night, so bars generally give free alcoholic drinks to women. Subsequently at 4.30 am I was woken up by Nikki returning to the flat, just as I was dropping back to sleep she stumbled towards me on the sofa, slurred that she loved me, then slightly headbutted me, which I assumed was going to be a kiss goodnight. It was that point that I fully realised that I needed to find my own place as quickly as possible.

The next morning I sent an email to a friend who is a property agent in Central Hong Kong. He replied fairly quickly and also confirmed that it was not easy to find a studio flat in Hong Kong island at the moment within the range that I was looking for. At that point I began to consider something so drastic that I actually thought I might be still drunk from the horse races.

Maybe I should live in Kowloon....


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who lives in a house like this?

My first full day in Hong Kong has been mostly about sorting things out. I went to the bank and checked my account was still active (it was), unlocked my UK mobile phone, purchased a Hong Kong sim card, went shopping and sorted out my packing. Once that was complete I took a trip on the Star Ferry to the Avenue of Stars, which is a viewing point to look back on Hong kong island. The work to reclaim land on HK island has now progressed to them building on it. There is one new building that from a distance looks like it will become a version of this building in Beijing, but I can't be sure till I get a litle bit closer.

As I am now in the flat waiting for everyone to finish work, I have decided to share some photographs of the Nikki and Laura Hong Kong hostel.

 The slightly dodgy looking stairs to their door
Their door, the metal frame outside is for security, but it is off its hinges, I am going to try and see if I can fix it, but lets face it, I will probably end up making it worse than it currently is.

As you open the door you have a hall that opens up to the TV room/sitting room/lounge/whatever else you want to call it. On the left is the door to the kitchen, on the right is the door to Lauras room.

The kitchen has all the important items you need.
 Then if you go to the end of the mini hall and look left, past the kitchen, you get to the sitting room, and in the middle is the computer that I am currently using.

It is clear what the priorities are in this household :)

This is looking back towards the entrance of the flat.

That's it for now, i'm not going to start taking pictures of bedrooms because that might not be appreciated, but the bedrooms are quite large for Hong Kong, and I just found out that there is a door from Niks that takes you to a little balcony type area where you can hang your washing! (previously i thought it was a cupboard).


Monday, June 13, 2011

2 Years Later

Cantonese people love to shop, and on my flight to Hong Kong from London this became apparent because there was no room in any overhead locker for my hand luggage. I could see up the aisle that there was no room anywhere else either, because nearly every locker had a Cantonese person standing below it desperately trying to squeeze in one last Harrods bag. Eventually one of the air crew came to my aid and my bag was locked in a container at the back of the plane with some spare life jackets.

The journey itself was uneventful. The lady I was seated next to decided to raise the arm rest between our seats whenever she had a nap, which I thought was quite strange. I was more uncomfortable when I woke up and found her sleeping against my arm though. I kept moving around and waking her up, but despite this she kept returning to my shoulder, eventually I gave up and fell asleep myself. In total I slept for nine hours of the eleven hour flight, so I woke up just before landing feeling surprisingly good.

I landed at 1.30pm on Monday 13 of June. I collected my bags, passed through immigration, changed my money, topped up my Octopus card and boarded a train to Central Hong Kong. By 2.35pm I was on Hong Kong island and walking through the International Finance Center shopping mall towards Red Bar. My reason for going to a bar as soon ar I arrived was not just because I wanted a drink, (though I did), it was because a friend had arranged to meet me there to give me keys to Laura and Nikkis flat. As I stepped outside and walked towards the bar the first thing that hit me was the view of Hong Kong island and Kowloon. On one side I could see the Star Ferry making its way towards Tsim Tsa Tsui, and on other side I could look up at the peak and surrounding sky scrapers, I could even see the small viewing tower at the top of the mountain.

The second thing to hit me was the heat, it was 32 degrees with 84% humidity, it was such a shock to my system that it felt hard to breathe at first. I started to wonder how I used to cope with summertime in Hong Kong, sat down, ordered a nice cool Tsing Tao beer, then realised that perhaps I was dealing with it in the best way possible. Eventually I got the keys and address for Laura and Niks flat, grabbed my bags and jumped in a taxi.

I found the flat without much trouble, the building itself looked a little run down, but their flat inside is lovely and unusually clean owing to the cleaner having visited that morning. By this time it was only 4.30pm and I had two hours to spare before Nikki arrived back from work. I was feeling quite restless, so decided to go for a jog up on the Wan Chai gap in an attempt to adjust to the insane humidity. I arrived back feeling a little more awake and ready for an ice cold shower, so I got myself cleaned up and thirty minutes later Nikki arrived home! The evening then consisted of a few happy hour cocktails in soho, and then a nice Chinese meal of dumplings and noodles. Laura met us later on in town straight after work. By 11pm I was back in the flat and collapsed on the sofa after my first half day in Hong Kong.

The strangest thing so far, is that it does not feel strange to be back. I feel like I have only been gone for two weeks.