Friday, 31 December 2010

Notes from Hong Kong 1

We arrived Wednesday evening after an uneventful 12 hour flight – as uneventful as a 12 hour flight can be when the lady next to you snores (no, not me!).  We were met at the airport by a posh Mercedes limo and a separate van for our luggage.  Actually it was their drivers who met us not the vehicles themselves, but I expect you already knew that.  They drove us over the bridge to Kowloon, and then through the tunnel to Hong Kong island and then up the windy road to Hong Kong Parkview.  Our new home was lit up and visible in the distance like some sort of beacon, luring unsuspecting ex-pats to their life of luxury and believing that they are more important than they really are.  

We were greeted by Barry, our building’s lovely security guard. I’m pretty sure his name was Barry.  I just asked David what his name was, and he said that he didn’t even realise that we have different security guards for different times/days of the week.  He just calls them all Barry.  Personally, I prefer to call all my doormen Carlton, but that probably won’t work here.  Anyway, Uni-Barry was very friendly and helpful, showing us our mailbox, the lift and the pretty feng shue’d lobby area.

Up we went to the 12th floor, where we were let in my a representative from the managing agency.  He gave us a quick tour, and showed us how everything works, which we promptly forgot.  So, onto our flat...The walls and floor are all cream coloured and the living room furniture is light tan.  It looks like someone binge drank a bottle of beige and promptly threw up all over our flat.  Not all of the furniture we ordered has arrived yet, so it is pretty bare. The lack of furniture, coupled with the tiled floors makes a lovely environment for yodelling should we ever decide to take that up.
We have three bedrooms, all of which have loads of built in cupboards and closets. This is very exciting to someone who usually has to use a crowbar to squeeze  that extra jumper into a drawer.  Our kitchen is very new and modern. It is so modern that it only has two burners on the hob – one for the wok and one for rice, I guess. It also has a small oven which, with enough lubrication, should be just big enough to squeeze in a chicken.  Roast turkey is a thing of the past unless we dismember it and cook it in pieces.  The most striking thing about the kitchen is that the work surfaces are about six inches lower than they are at home.  It appears that everyone in China is very short. This, of course, begs the question of how they field a world class basketball team. Personally, I’m thinking steroids.   The bathroom fittings are also shorter and smaller than we are used to as I discovered when I fell the extra six inches onto the toilet only to discover that my bottom has either gotten even wider or that the Chinese also have very small asses.  There is a utility room off the kitchen which houses the washer, drier and dishwasher – yes, the dishwasher is not in the kitchen.  Off the utility room is a storage room and the maid’s room ). I can only assume that all of the maids in HK are oompa loompas, because that is the only size person that could possibly fit in that room. It is also the only room (aka closet) without air conditioning. I’m surprised that amnesty international isn’t staging a silent vigil in our kitchen. We will not be getting a slave maid.

Yesterday was spent unpacking and luxuriating in all that storage space.  We then did our first trip to the local supermarket. It has a wide selection of Chinese, Japanese, American and European products all of which are eye wateringly expensive.  It was great fun exploring all the aisles and finding things we didn’t think were edible, e.g. Japanese charcoal cake.  On the plus side, they also had Kraft macaroni and cheese and Hershey’s kisses.   It is also fun to learn where things are. Maple syrup with honey, NOT with pancake mix or baking supplies.  The meat looked ok; most of it imported from Australia. The veg supply was limited but sufficient.  I need to find proper local food markets.

Last night we got the terrible news that Raffa had died.  David and I were/are heartbroken. Sadie is doing her normal “I don’t care” reaction – she has always displayed her emotions in unusual ways.   We are so grateful for all the kind emails and posts that we received. Thank you.

Today we went into town to shop.  The bank provided us with a credit card for a local John Lewis-ish department store called Wing On. We are allowed to spend up to HK$5000 (about £430) on various household items.  We bought hangers, laundry baskets, a toaster, some storage drawers for the bathroom, and answerphone, a roasting pan and best of all – a fantastic new espresso/cappuccino maker. I never knew that small appliances could be so exciting.  Actually, that’s not true. I have a bread maker, and ice cream maker and two food processors. I know exactly how exciting small appliances can be. The service was outstanding; everyone is so friendly and helpful.  Of course, they could be saying really rude and horrid things to us in Chinese, but their tone is so nice that we don’t care.

So, we are settling in. Sadie loves her new bedroom which is much bigger than her one at home (and has built in storage!). David has a balcony to smoke on.  I have some new small appliances. We all feel very tall.

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