Archive for September, 2007

Settling back in

September 24, 2007

I’ve been back in Hong Kong for just over a week now, and have been readjusting to returning here. It obviously feels a bit different this time around as it’s now not such alien experience, and doesn’t seem so bewildering. The fact that I’m here permanently now does, of course, make it a different experience this time round. Fortunately, the last minute doubts and fears I had back in the UK have disappeared and I’m happy with the decision I’ve made. From a weather point of view it feels a bit cooler than when I left, and the humidity level has definitely dropped off since I left. It’s now bearable.

There’s a few things I’ll need to sort out now I’m across here – the big one being a more permanent place to live. I can stay in my serviced shoebox sized apartment on a month by month basis, but in my mind the sooner I can find somewhere more permanent the better. Sadly my salary won’t stretch to a budget that would allow me to rent a spacious 2 bed apartment, with full kitchen, and stunning harbour view so I’ll have to think more modestly in terms of where to live. I know some friends in the hockey club, who viewed over 100 places before deciding on an apartment. That really holds no appeal whatsoever. The way I figure it is there has to be a trade off between effort put into finding a place, and the suitability of the place. In my world, the good enough place that I could see within the first 5 properties is much more worthwhile than the great place after 100 properties. Of course, that all assumes I find a good enough place within the first 5. Then there’s the cost to size ratio. Do I really need a biggish* place in the Central mid-levels area that would cost a fortune? Or would I be better off with a smaller, cheaper place, on the Island but not in mid-levels? If I take the more expensive option, that limits my funds for holidays and fun – whereas the smaller place would probably mean needing to go out more often to avoid going mad, involving more money being spent. Being lazy and uninspired at the moment, I’ve taken the decision to put off flat hunting for a week or so. (There’s also some guys in the hockey club who are moving on, so presumably they might be able to pass on the lease to their rentals, which might save me agents fees, and more importantly, searching for a flat)

I thought I’d pretty much stopped everything in terms of bills and costs back in the UK – but overlooked the TV license fee. There’s always one little thing you forget about. The TV licensing web site isn’t entirely clear as to how I can cancel this, apparently I should key in my TV license number… which sadly, is back in the UK in a box somewhere. I’ll either have to phone them or just cancel the direct debit and see what happens.

Upcoming highlights include the moon festival – this is on Tuesday night when ‘everyone’ goes into parks and looks at the moon. Sounds really exciting. In the office they’ve put up naff paper decorations attached to the ceiling. Not entirely unlike the naff Christmas decorations at home in the UK that people hang from ceilings. Anyway, apparently these are to celebrate the upcoming moon festival. There is something called moon-cake associated with it, which I was offered by my office on Friday. I declined. I think I’d been out the night before, and the thought of sweet cake at 10:00am did not appeal. Added to which, I knew I was going out for lunch later which could potentially involve all sorts… Fortunately, nothing too unpalatable this time though, thankfully. The good news about the moon festival though, is that Wednesday is a public holiday, as is next Monday (Chinese National Day – apparently the mainlanders get a full week off). Good timing on my return I reckon!

I also found out on Friday that I have to undergo a medical check in order to qualify for the company medical insurance, so I need to telephone through for an appointment for that. Must make a mental note to self to lay off the alcohol a few days prior to that. Other than that, not much to report. Looks like I’ve played myself into the Valley C team which should make for an interesting season, as we’re in the same league as the B team, and have drawn the Football Club A team in the cup. The Football Club are, I think, the biggest sports club in Hong Kong and their A team is normally the strongest team in the hockey leagues. Should make for an interesting game.

I also thought I’d cracked the jetlag over the weekend, but was wide awake at 3:30am this morning, so clearly haven’t yet totally adjusted to the timezone.

* Size being relative of course. Regardless of how much I pay, I’ll be living in a flat smaller than my Wokingham flat.

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Back to Hong Kong

September 17, 2007

The blog has obviously not been updated for some time. I’m pretty certain everyone reading knew I was off back to the UK for a few weeks to, in my words, shutdown my life over there. The reason for not updating the blog whilst there is either this is a Hong Kong based blog, or I was simply too lazy to bother updating it. Probably more of the latter than the former if I’m honest.

It was great to get to see so many people I wanted to before heading back here for the permanent move – I now feel like a proper expat. And all the doubts and nervousness I felt leading up to actual move have dissipated now – mainly replaced by feeling absolutely shattered as the jetlag has really kicked in. I think the worst time in the UK was just after moving out of my empty flat and realising I was homeless and at the point of no return.

I did try to sell some stuff on ebay to make emptying the flat easier – but with the time restraints imposed, and the hassle of clearing my flat, and getting in touch with various companies to get accounts settled meant I couldn’t devote enough time to do it properly. However, I did at least manage to offload my fridge. This is the fridge that was replaced by the fridge-freezer about 2 years ago that I’d never got round to selling. This transaction was how I imagined ebay working. A guy made a buy-it-now bid, and offered to collect that evening for cash. Dead easy. This was as good as it got sadly. No bids on the sofas. The 15″ LCD TV I was selling (about £30 I think), got little interest until about 3 hours left on the auction when some guy asked to see a picture of it working. Not helpful at all, as ebay will charge more for additional pictures, and meant I had to scramble around to set the thing up whilst I was trying to pack stuff away. Needless to say that remained unsold.

Some woman bid to buy my freezer using buy-it-now, and then remained uncontactable. So the freezer is now collecting dust along with lots of other items in my garage. Another guy asked if I would meet him halfway at Feltham for the music centre (£15). The advert clearly stated ‘Buyer Collects’. He was coming from east London apparently, although I can’t say I cared. Unfortunately I ended up meeting a different buyer ‘halfway’ at J10 of the M40 services and getting £25 for my trouble. Lesson learned from all of this is that selling stuff on ebay is a hassle if it’s not easily posted.

I had originally planned to ship quite a lot of stuff back to Hong Kong, but on arriving back in the UK realised this would be impractical for the following reasons:

  1. I have very little space in Hong Kong for stuff right now.
  2. Anything I ship across is likely going to have to be moved in Hong Kong when I get a more permanent place sorted.
  3. Stuff like that I can just buy in Hong Kong anyway.

In the end I packed more clothes to bring across in my hold luggage and got a computer from work to be shipped across. Nothing too bulky for troublesome moving in Hong Kong. It’s been great to get back, even with the humidity (which seems to have dropped a bit), the crowds (and the navigation on the pavements required), and the suspect air quality.

Plans ahead for the coming week are hockey practice tonight, watching some more of the rugby world cup (comment about Ireland’s performance so far visibly absent from this blog entry for the obvious reasons), meeting up with friends over here on Wednesday night, start looking around for properties (not something I’m particularly enthused about right now), and start looking into gym membership.

I shall also be back again in the UK over the Christmas/New Year period. Flights already booked to leave HK on 21st Dec (arriving UK 21st Dec in the evening), and fly out of UK on 4th January. Unfortunately, it seems the flight from HK arrives in Heathrow after the last flight to Belfast has left, so a night in Heathrow or one of it’s expensive hotels beckons. As previously mentioned it was great to be able to spend time with everyone back in the UK, and I’ll look forward to seeing everyone I can around the Christmas period as well.