Soooooo, we are one week in and I am exhausted. The boys are a bit sick of such a small apartment and a bit tired too. This whole “changing countries” thing really takes it outta ya!
A few observations at this early stage:
– There does not appear to a side of the sidewalk/footpath that you walk on here. In the US and Australia, you kinda stick to the side that you drive you on. Makes footpaths much easier when traffic keeps to each side. This doesn’t seem to happen here. It’s just a big mash of people and I have to get through with a stroller and a three year old. Most of the time it isn’t too bad but during busy times it gets a bit hairy and I am sure I have nipped a heel or two! oops.
– I thought there would be more expats here. Turns out it is less than 10% non-Chinese in HK (or at least this is what my husband told me). So many days I am out and about and see only a few Westerners. Not a big deal really. And it is silly, but I feel taller! And for some reason I feel thinner when I feel taller. So that is nice.
– The reaction to the kids is bizarre, sweet…. and a bit annoying. The ladies in the grocery store especially adore my boys. I mean, I get it – they are pretty bloody cute as kids go and add in Alex’s white blonde hair and blue eyes and Will’s big brown eyes and how much he loves to perform for anyone who will watch him and you know these women are waiting for 4pm-ish each day when I go to the supermarket for dinner supplies. They give the kids candy and on Friday one of them led Will over to a lady who was stocking shelves and got her to give him some Oreo wafer cookie bar thing. She just took Will to say hello to her and the lady just snipped open a packet, pulled a cookie bar out, opened it and handed it to Will! Let’s just say that the grocery store has become a favourite place for the boys…. Mummy, on the other hand, found it sweet and charming at first but is now trying to avoid the meat section at all costs (which is where the most enthralled of the ladies work) as Will starts to carry on getting all excited, doing dances for them, high fiving them, etc. After a few years here, if they keep getting this level of attention I worry about what it will do to their sense of self. What will happen when we go back to Australia or the US and no one gives a crap who they are and they are not different?! And no one hands them candy everywhere we go…. I suspect that once we move to a permanent address, which will be in a more Expat-heavy area, that this sort of thing won’t really happen any more. Maybe.
– The weather. Ugh. When we did our visit in January, HK must have turned it on for us. It was bright and sunny and mild the four days we were here. We have yet to see the sun since we arrived a week ago! The tops of many buildings are in cloud for the whole day. Must be weird for the people who live in them! It is grey and drizzly. And as noted above, our dryer is a piece of crap. It is a combo washer/dryer and after 4 hours in the dryer the clothes are still hot and damp. The laundry is a constant source of frustration for me as I can’t get it dry! Apparently on Thursday this week the sun will come out. God, I hope so!
– The octopus card system is great! So easy and the public transport here is SO cheap. And so are taxi’s! Very different from Sydney 🙂
– Not sure what the labour laws are here, but since we arrived last Friday night, the same guy has been on the concierge desk EVERY SINGLE TIME I go down there. Morning, noon or night. I am beginning to wonder if there are two Lim’s! (His name is Lim). Poor guy must be exhausted!
– Eating out (Asian food) is CHEAP. Each main meal in a small restaurant/take out noodle place is about $5US. Which is great as there are many days this week when I have run out steam by the time dinner rolled round and we just nipped downstairs to one of the noodle places and got dinner. But I did feel the need to make spaghetti bolognaise at the end of this week – we were all in need of a bit of comfort food and all the boys (Fritz included) wolfed it down and were very happy chappies after it!
– Sunday is Maid Day. It is the day off for all the Home Helpers and the streets get cray-cray with all the helpers sitting on the footpaths on tarps – cooking, eating, chatting to each other or on the phone, doing macrame or other crafts. Just like hanging out. But on the side walk. Even when it is kinda raining. Our area seems to be the place the Indonesian Helpers gather (Causeway Bay is where we are staying). I will avoid going walking on Sundays if I can!
– Not really related to being in HK, but Will had a real Three Year Old Moment the other day. We were looking at apartments with our Relocation Specialist, Kay, (who is awesome, by the way!) and Will, completely out of the blue, asks Kay if she has a penis. Oh dear. Thank god Kay is as fabulous as she is, and has two boys herself (who are all grown up now). She didn’t miss an beat and just said, “Not the last time I looked”!
So the first week has been full of firsts – and that is exciting but also tiring. Nothing is easy or familiar so it means you need a bit more energy to get through the day. And apartment hunting with a one year old and three year old is especially exhausting! We will all be happy to settle on a place and get moved in towards the end of the month. Toys are being missed, space is required and routines need to be re-established. Hopefully we will have decided on a place by the middle of the week and then we wait for our shipment to arrive so we can move in!