Archive for December, 2007

Last post of the year in Hong Kong?

December 18, 2007

Quite possibly the last post I’ll make in 2007 from Hong Kong, as I’m due to fly back to the UK on Friday 21st. Of course, my flight arrives from Heathrow after the last flight to Belfast has departed, so I get to spend a night in Heathrow before getting the first flight to Belfast. I fly into George Best Airport, or as surely everyone in Northern Ireland calls it, the Harbour Airport. I said in my last post that it doesn’t feel at all like Christmas over here, with a lack of over the top decorations and annoying music. That was a day before I had to go to Causeway Bay… It’s definitely decorated for Christmas there, and the first thing you can hear in the MTR station is Jingle Bells coming over the speakers in the station. Ho Ho Ho. Still, with blue skies and temperatures in the early 20s it’s still a little very odd. To get into the Christmas mood, I have mentally engaged into the pre-Christmas wind down at work though. I thoroughly recommend it.

I have managed to do no Christmas shopping of my own so far. I’m not the best shopper in the world at the best of times (except possibly when buying gadgets for myself), but the prospect of having to fight through the crowds at the same time as trying to figure out what might make a good present for people is not my idea of fun at all. When it comes to shopping my preferred method is to know what I’m going to buy, know where I can get it, go to the shop, and buy it as soon as I see it. Of course, I could possibly save a bit of money buying elsewhere if I traipsed round ten shops, however in my mind the time saving of not traipsing round ten shops is far more valuable to me. I suspect some people would see my viewing the additional browsing as traipsing as fairly negative, when I should see it as a chance to browse for other gifts, and generally enjoy the experience. Sorry, I just can’t do that very well. I can always pick up a tip from Stu, and do my shopping at the airport – as it seems I’ll have a bit of time to kill.

Once again, the Irish Sea is proving to be an expensive stretch of water to cross. How a flight from Hong Kong to London can be ~£600 return, yet a flight from London to Belfast can be ~£230 return baffles me. Some of it is due to the various taxes that have been steathily rising over the years, but even so, it does still strike me as a rip off. I can’t see the excuse ‘Sorry Mum, I’m not coming over as I’m being green’ getting very far with the parents in the future. By being back in the UK, I am missing the office Christmas party. This has been scheduled for Christmas Eve, and families have been invited. I suspect it will be very much like the ‘leaving’ meal I attended a couple of months ago, but I’m curious to know how it goes. If as expected it involves horrendous amounts of shellfish (again) then I’m not too disappointed to be missing it from a food experience perspective though.

The reason the leaving was in punctuation quotes above is, it seems as though leaving doesn’t necessarily mean not working for the company any more. I’ve seen the guy whose leaving dinner it was in the office when I’ve been back in almost every week. Yesterday, we were part of a presentation team to a potential customer. So, I’m somewhat confused as to what leaving actually constitutes – he’s still in the email address book, on Instant Messenger etc. Ideas anyone? (No Hotel California lyrics please)

My diary for the rest of the week is looking busy enough. Tonight is my last hockey match of 2007 – if we (the C team) can win we’ll be fourth in the table (sadly we lost to the last touch of the game on Sunday), then out for some pre-Christmas hockey drinks. Tomorrow night is a social night out in Wan Chai, where one of the bars offers any drink for HK$20, so long as it’s a Standard Chartered note. We’ve all been saving any Standard Chartered note we can lay our hands on at the hockey club. Thursday night could possibly be a meal in a Japanese restaurant on Kowloon side – although nothing is as yet confirmed. I intend to get time at the Temple Street night market to buy some tatty quality gifts for Christmas though.

Still alive

December 6, 2007

Despite the complete lack of activity on here for the past couple of weeks, I am in fact still alive in Hong Kong. I’ve just been rather lazy about updating the blog and not much out of the ordinary has actually been happening. That’s probably as sure a sign as any that I am now beginning to feel settled in over here. I took delivery of my suit on Monday 19th Novemeber. I’m pretty pleased with it – the trousers are maybe a little too long in the leg, although I haven’t made my mind up about that yet. Other than that it fits well and certainly seems to be well made and is lightweight enough for the climate here. About the only thing I don’t like about it is it’s got my name stitched on one of the inside pockets. A bit naff really, and makes it feel a bit school uniformy. I’ve been told by friends that this is pretty standard and if I were to get a tailored shirt I’ll have to put up a fight to not have it monogrammed. Terrific.

Trying to think of things that have been going on. The hockey rugby club I’m a member of hosted a street party in Lan Kwai Fong a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday night. The plan behind this is to try and attract new members to the club. At least that’s the theory. In reality it just seems like a good excuse to get the various sections of the club all out at once and drink as much reduced price alcohol as possible. Not sure how many new members we persuaded, but I think everyone present had a fantastic time hangover on Sunday. I had a return trip to Happy Valley races, courtesy of a friend who works at the Jockey Club. He’d been able to provide one of the corporate boxes to about 100 of us on a Wednesday night. For HK$330 we had as much buffet food and drinks as we wanted. As well as the opportunity to gamble on the races also. Unfortunately my luck in horse gambling continues. In the first race I had a total stake of HK$80, and had a horse I’d backed to place come in, which won me the grand total of HK$62. And that was my best return on the races for the night.

I was due to go on hockey tour to Bangkok at the end of November/start of December, but sadly that got cancelled due to lack of numbers, so my next travel will be back to the UK over Christmas/new year period. I’ll be back from the 22nd December to 4th January. Talking of Christmas, this is the first time I’ve spent time round Christmas time in a non-Christian country. There doesn’t appear to be the same ‘feel’ to the city as I’m used to. Of course, it’s not bloody freezing and wet here either, which I’d automatically associate with December. There’s also a less visible presence to Christmas, with more stores not having decorations than those that do. Of the stores that do have decorations, they tend to be of the ‘Seasons Greetings’ variety as opposed to the explicit ‘Merry Christmas’ type. A lack of annoying Christmas music is also a welcome relief. The stores that cater to the ex-pat community are, predictably, the one’s that have decorations, advent calendars, Christmas cards etc. for sale. In this environment they are even more obvious than usual. Likewise there are some decorated fir trees (HSBC main building concourse) and an archway over the main door (Bank of China tower), but nothing explicitly Christian in their decoration. I’ll have to sort out Christmas cards in the next few days or so I think, and then start hitting the markets so that I can buy awful Christmas presents… watch out Stu and Ang.

I’ve also (finally) sorted out a Hong Kong credit card and have arranged to join a gym when I return in the new year. I’ll look to sign up for the half marathon that is run in Feb/Mar of next year, so will have to hit the gym when I get back.