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Finally

Here I was thinking that blogging would be oh-so-easy. Yeah. Right. Time, it seems, just seems to be flying by. I’m a third of the way through my time here in HK. Before you know it, I’ll be back in Brisbane. Mind you, seeing sunshine would be great. I know that it’ll be cold when we get back to Brisbane, but I MISS THE SUN! It’s been cloudy and miserable and rainy here for so long now. The sun comes out for about 5 minutes every few days. I don’t know how people live without the sun. I hate it. The lack of sun might explain my crankiness and melancholy.  Well, that and also the lack of enthusiasm here at work about my work.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being here. I’m being super productive, but Prof Lam is still not convinced about BNs in general, nor my model. Never mind. We’ve managed to get out a plan. And the plan (while different from the plan I had put down when I applied for this scholarship – which he agreed to!) works out better for me in the end. I’m still working on papers from projects back at home, plus refining my BN. So good all in all.

Man Mo Temple at Tai Po

Life in HK is great. Yesterday we moved into the 2 bedroom apartment next door. Oh my giddy aunt. The extra space is a welcome change! Dann and I have a room all to ourselves – with a closing door and all! (Minds out of the gutter, you lot). I have space to do my Insanity workouts. I’m kickstarting that again on Monday. I’m still doing yoga and trying to be healthy. Though I’ve had 10 days of non-yoga and lots of chocolate eating. I’m feeling this quite badly. Who knew not doing yoga for 10 days would lead to having your hips sieze up?!

Our bigger apartment! Look at all that floor space!

Daily school work.

I love the yoga place here. Bit expensive, but it’s awesome. Over 100 classes a week. Different levels and teachers. Heated and non-heated rooms. Towels and mats provided, as are shampoo, soap and conditioner. All I have to do is rock up with my yoga clothes. It’s awesome. The kicker is that the showers are those rain showers – so freaking awesome after 90 mins of heated yoga! I have noticed though, that that ladies are NOT shy in walking around starkers. Though mind you, if I had some of their figures, I would be walking around starkers for all to see as well! Another thing I’ve noticed is the choice of underwear colour most of them wear. Beige. Yep, beige underwear. I’m more of a black undergarments kind of person. Or white, or bright pink. Goes better with my complexion, or something like that. Not so much beige. I’ve only seen about 3 other people with non-beige underwear. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found it odd.

Halo halo at Cinta J restaurant in Wan Chai.

 

Another odd thing about HK – the lack of brunch options that I like. I love brunch. So much. It’s the ultimate meal – a combination of breakfast and lunch. You can have sweet or savoury or a combination of both. You can have ice cream and cream and no-one says anything. But here, unless you want to go to a hotel restaurant and pay through the nose (relative to other meal prices), it’s hard to get eggs benedict. I miss the pre-made-full-of-preservatives-and-god-knows-what-else hollandaise they use at The Coffee Club. Shake your head in disgust, but I love that shit.  Perhaps if I’m lucky, Dann will cook me up some hollandaise sauce this weekend. It’s not pre-made-full-of-preservative hollandaise, but it’s pretty damn good. He has made me bacon and eggs on numerous occasions though. He’s a good hubby, that one!

Getting our chocolate and caffeine fix on Easter Sunday.

Getting our chocolate and caffeine fix on Easter Sunday.

 

He even found some salt and vinegar chips that I’d been searching for! I’ll keep him around. 🙂

Alright, so what have we been up to since the last post? Here’s a quick summary:

  • We went to the HK Railway museum in Tai Po. It was small, but good. It’s free and relatively easy to get to. A good outing for the morning.
  • Tai Po Markets – we wandered around here since we were in the neighbourhood. Fruit, veg, seafood, and meat. Very clean (not like the market in the Philippines). Daniel was intrigued by it all, but not impressed by some of the smells. We also went to a set of market that were in a building. The first floor was wet markets, the second floor was fruit and veg and clothes, and the third floor was an eatery. We had lunch here at the Vietnamese eatery. Very good, and very cheap.
  • Dann and Daniel went to Victoria Park. I think we’ll go back together soon as it’s a HUGE park. Dann originally went over to HK Island to go to IKEA. Yep – he willingly went there all by himself. Only to get Daniel a set of train tracks though. Daniel had been spending too much time playing on the iPad and watching telly, so Dann figured that if he had the train tracks like he does at home, he’d play with those. He was right – Daniel plays with them for hours every day.
  • We caught the Star Ferry HK Island on Easter Saturday and went to HK Park. The super long tube slide was winner for Daniel. He must have gone on that thing 20 times!
  • We’ve had to buy some school books for Daniel. He’s powered through the worksheets that Miss Nora from child care had put together. It seems he can’t get enough of numbers, letters, and writing. It’s freaking awesome.
  • Eating, eating, eating. OMG. So many different foods to try and eat. There’s a heap of Korean restaurants near our place. Then there’s the endless choices of dim sum, any number of asian cuisines, and street food. So good. We’ve also found some Filipino restaurants. One near Temple St, near us. Another one at Wan Chai. Both are a bit pricey, compared to other food choices around. But delicious and fills our cravings for Pinoy food!
  • Dann has had some business shirts made. $50 each for a hand made, tailored shirt is pretty freaking good. We also ordered a suit for him. The guys at the shop threw in a free shirt (worth $450HKD) and cuff links (worth $300HKD), so almost $100AUD of free stuff.

Maths + Chocolate. What could be better?!

Anyway, that’s long enough for now. I should do some work. Though it is Friday, and it’s cloudy and raining so motivation is a bit low at the moment.

Getting fitted for new business shirts.

Getting fitted for new business shirts.

Oh, one more thing. Very exciting. Ma’am (Dann’s mum) is coming to visit us in HK next week! So freaking excited! Daniel can’t wait to show her around.

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Counting down

Less than a week until my boys are here! So, what have I been up to the last few days?

Well, Saturday was spent on Canton Rd and the surrounding streets. I got my shopping mojo back. I was quite restrained though – no major (read: expensive) purchases. Just a warmer jacket and some sensible (boring) long sleeve shirts. I didn’t realise that Canton Rd was designer central. Phew – what an experience it is walking around Harbor City! I spotted a pair of Louboutins which were just beautiful. Stupidly expensive, and most probably impossible to walk in without looking like a drunk giraffe, but on my they were lovely!

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Hello, lover.

At the other end of the scale (and more within my budget and ability to walk), I found the cutest pair of pink and white Hello Kitty high-top Reeboks.  Although the temptation to buy these was high, I resisted. God knows how.

I’ve managed to sort out the pre-paid phone/data thing. I ended up going with one2free and their Power Pre-paid. $88HKD for 1Gb for 30 days isn’t too bad. Turns out PCCW and Smartone were not the cheapest option. So with all that sorted, I think I’m all set up here. I just move into the 1 bedder next week and it’ll all good. I did, however have to do a mad, panicked run to the Apple store as I couldn’t get my sim card slot to open on my phone. After a (small) freakout about it, the Geniuses at Apple were able to un-stuck it and it’s all ok. Well, except for the 3 dead pixels that are now in the middle of my screen. I shouldn’t complain though – I really didn’t want to fork out money for a new phone, so 3 dead pixels is a small price to pay for a working phone.

On the way to the Apple store, I came across crowds of Filipino women (some men) just sitting around the edges of walk ways, in parks, in restaurants all around Central. I could not get over how many of them there were.  It was just unreal. They were set up with cardboard boxes as their shelter, but they seemed happy sitting, talking and eating. Upon asking one of them what was going on, she said that it was their ‘holiday’ or day off. It happens every Sunday. I’m assuming it helps negate some of the loneliness and homesickness that the migrant domestic workers no doubt feel.

I can’t possibly describe what I saw or how I felt about it. If I had to describe what I felt, think I mainly just felt sad. I know that the overseas filipino worker (OFW) is not new, and the ‘phenomenon’ for lack of a better word has been around for years. I mean, at Manila airport, there are dedicated lines for OFWs coming in and out of the country. These women and men leave their families behind, sometimes for years at at time, so that they can send money back home to let those left behind have a better life. I know this, members of my own family have done and are doing the same thing.

I was fortunate enough to be adopted by my aunt and uncle and allowed to have a better life in Australia – the opportunities I’ve had there are more than I could have possibly had, should I not have been adopted. I am eternally grateful to them for that. But nevertheless, the feeling (and pressure) to send back whatever money you can to the Philippines to help relatives is so ingrained in Filipinos that I don’t think there’s ever a way to get away from it. Even as a child of 7 years old, I knew that one of the reasons I was adopted was so that I could help my family back in the Philippines when I got old enough to earn money. And I did just that. I was lucky enough to have a husband who understands this. We’ve been sending money back monthly for years. That is, until I recently found out that the money wasn’t being used for what it was meant to (school fees, school uniforms, house repayments, college fees etc). While I know most families aren’t like that, I am a bit disillusioned about the whole thing. Firstly, I really barely know my family back home. They are strangers to me. Harsh, but it’s true. As I was growing up, my siblings never contacted me. Mama did occasionally. It’s only in the last couple of years, that I’ve got to know them to some extent. Secondly, they seem to rely on that money now. I think they’ve fallen into the ‘It’s ok, if we need something, we’ll just tell Ate and she’ll send money to us’. And instead of looking for a solution for themselves, they just text, or call, or send an FB message. I guess that’s partially my fault for letting it be that way for years. Anyway, the rest of this saga is for another time, another post.

So, a good article about maids in HK can be found here. Part 2 is here.

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Heat, Yoga, Transport & Beer

I had grand plans of waking up at the decent hour of 7.45am so that I could do a Hot Yoga class at 9am.

Looking out from my seat on the Star Ferry.

Looking out from my seat on the Star Ferry.

Damned body woke up at 5.30am and wouldn’t go back to sleep.  Regardless, I made it to yoga. And let me tell you, it was  awesome. I’ve never done yoga in a heated room before, so that was challenging. The asanas themselves weren’t that hard though, so that was good.  The place I went to is located in the Peninsula Hotel, and had some spectacular views looking over to Hong Kong.

Cruise ship docked at the TST ferry terminal.

Cruise ship docked at the TST ferry terminal.

More exploration was on the cards for today, so once I’d recovered from yoga, I made my way down Nathan Rd to the ferry terminal to catch the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island. That in itself was so ridiculously easy to do. It’s one of the things I’m loving about HK – getting around either by walking or using public transport is oh so easy.  The ferry ride was short, sweet, and cheap ($2.50 hkd), and I ended up wandering into the IFC Mall. Phew. Talk about expensive. I did have lunch in the mall though at ‘Asian Twist’. The laksa was pretty good. As it turned out, I should have waited out for a bit longer to have lunch as there was a Jollibee just down the road.  For the uninitiated, Jollibee is a Filipino fast food chain. Their main dish, ‘Chicken Joy’, is oh so yummy. Brings back childhood memories. The spaghetti is also a favourite of mine.

Museum of Art

Museum of Art

A walk around Central was what I expected Hong Kong to be. Crowded with lots of shops. I am  finding though, that even with the crowding, I’m rarely getting bumped into as I walk around. At M&S and H&M on Queen’s Rd, I looked and looked to see what I could buy, but nothing really caught my fancy. For some reason, I’m not really feeling the shopping mood. Who knows why. Our bank balance (and luggage limit!) is thanking me though.

Andy Warhol, we meet again.

Andy Warhol, we meet again.

Just to do something different, I caught the MTR back to TST. Again, so ridiculously easy to do. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Museum of Art (they’ve got an Andy Warhol exhibit on at the moment) and again walking along the TST Boulevard.

After I while, I settled in with a pint of Hoegaarden (this turned into 2 pints after I mistakenly nodded to the waiter that I wanted a second pint) and watched tourists walk along the boulevard.  A quick dash to the loo was on the cards (do you know how much you need to pee after downing 2 pints of beer?!) after a while and then a (slightly) drunk walk back home.

A dinner of delicious dim sum rounded off a nice, touristy day. I miss my boys though.

Looking happy, but feeling sad. I miss my boys.

Looking happy, but feeling sad. I miss my boys.

Once good thing about being by myself here is that I can up and go and wander about as I please. One bad thing is that I don’t have my boys. And I miss them. A lot. I’m filling the days with stuff (until I start at HK PolyU) so that I’m not missing them as much. But that only lasts for a little while.

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Leaving, on a jet plane.

In November last year, I found out that I was offered a 3 month Inbound Research Student scholarship to study at Hong Kong Polytech Uni.  Naturally, I accepted (who in their right mind wouldn’t?!).  Yesterday was the beginning of that 3 month adventure.

I have to say, the weeks leading up to my departure yesterday were hectic. Work to finish; papers to make progress on; questioning if it was the right thing to do; wondering how it would affect my completion date; getting scared shitless because I’ll rock up and have no idea about what’s going on; and the ongoing, never ending doubts about actually leaving Daniel and Dann for 3 months so that I can selfishly do my thing.  Luckily for me, Dann is awesome and super supportive, and we’ve also managed to make it so that both he and Daniel can come to HK for the majority of the time. They’ll arrive in HK 10 days after me. Still, the guilts came and went. And came and went. As, I suppose, they are bound to.

On the way to farewell me at the airport.

On the way to farewell me at the airport.

The farewell at the airport was not that bad. A few tears from me, but that was to be expected. Remembering Daniel yelling out ‘Bye Mum! Love you Mum! Miss you Mum!’ as I made my way to the aerobridge makes me smile. I had a pit-stop on Sydney before flying to HK. Just long enough to catch up with my lovely friend, Marina. Lucky she works near the airport!

The flight to HK was pretty uneventful. For most of it, I tried to rest, but ended up just watching movies and drinking Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Special Cocktail’ with vodka. Why anyone would have it without vodka is beyond me. ‘Pitch Perfect’ was freaking awesome. As was ‘Seven Psychopaths’.  ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, well, let’s just say that there’s an hour and a bit of my life that I’ll never get back. I should have watched ‘Ted’ instead.

My accommodation in HK is a bit all over the place. I’m spending a week or so renting a bedroom in someone’s apartment, then moving into a 1 bedroom apartment around the corner when it becomes available, and then into a

Made it! A bit tired, but I'm here!

Made it! A bit tired, but I’m here!

2 bedroom place for the last 2 months. I figure it’ll give us a good feel of the place! All these places I’d found through AirBnB. So far, so good. Tizi, the owner of the apartment I’m in at the moment seems nice.  She seems to travel around a lot, and is currently doing a Spanish language course.

One excellent thing about staying with her is that she gives her guests a micro-sim to use which has unlimited broadband, free local calls, and there’s unlimited wireless at the apartment. Being connected = awesome.

Arriving in HK at night is brilliant. There are people everywhere, the shops are open until late, the restaurants even later. I love the noise of the city, so I’m loving the noisiness of it all. I think all the excitement had finally caught up with me though, as I couldn’t get to sleep at all last night! I eventually did at around 2am, but woke up at 5am. I managed to get back to sleep until 7.30am, but only after convincing myself that nothing was open at 5am so it wouldn’t be worth me getting up and hunting around for a coffee and breakfast! The idea of going for a run entered my brain, but left a millisecond later.

The plan for the day, once I got out the door, was to just explore and to buy a couple of things: an Octopus card, an electrical socket converter (the one I brought with me wouldn’t work) and to get a handle of the pre-paid mobile/data plan situation. I managed to accomplish the first two before lunch. I’ve figured out that I want the PCCW pre-paid with data plan. Now just have to find a PCCW outlet. That’s on the list for tomorrow.

Bruce Lee. Keeping it real at the TST Boulevard.

Bruce Lee. Keeping it real at the TST Boulevard.

The rest of the day was just spend wandering around exploring malls, side streets and the subway. I went to the TST Boulevard in the late afternoon with hopes of hanging out until the light show, but it started raining, so I headed back to the apartment. I sadly had Maccas for lunch. Mainly because I hadn’t realised how hungry I was and it was just there, and also because it was cheap. Afternoon tea was had at a little French patisserie I found in my wandering around. Not cheap though.  Dinner was pho. Super tasty, and almost as cheap as Maccas. An added bonus is that it’s just 5 doors down from the apartment!

Delicious and cheap. What more could you want for dinner?!

Delicious and cheap. What more could you want for dinner?!

Finally, I had plans of going to bed early. But hey – why do that when HK is open until late?! So I booked myself in for a haircut. I thought this would be somewhat foolish, as making the appointment itself was a bit disjointed due to my inability to speak Mandarin, and the person taking the booking’s inability to speak English very well. In the end, I needn’t have worried. The stylist I ended up with was great. I guess ‘just a trim’ translates to any language in the hairdressing profession.

A successful hair cut experience!

A successful hair cut experience!

So, plans for tomorrow? Well, find a PCCW outlet. Hop on the Star Ferry and head over to HK Island to explore. But first thing in the morning, I’ve booked in to do a hot yoga class. May as well make the most of it while I’m here!

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High Tea

My husband offered to look after our son and our nephew yesterday so that my sister-in-law and I could ‘go do girly stuff or whatever it is girls do together’. Not wanting to waste the opportunity (though a trip to the movies to see Magic Mike would have topped off the day – but we didn’t get out of the house as early as I wanted to due to a melt-down by my nephew), we traipsed into Brisbane to Vintaged so that Charlot could experience High Tea.

Coming from the Philippines, this is something that she’s not familiar with firstly due to the fact that it’s not really a Filipino thing (the Spanish who colonised the country didn’t really do ‘High Tea’ and nor did the Americans who came after – I often wonder what the Philippines would be like if the English were the ones who colonised it, and not the Spanish – but that’s a discussion for another time), and also due to the fact such things in the hotels in the Philippines would have been way out of budget for them to be able to afford. Anyway, the food was nice. Not fabulous (the High Tea at Customs House was so much better), but it did allow Charlot to try her first ever scones with jam and cream. The petit fours were nice, but the finger sandwiches seemed to all contain celery leaves, which was overpowering.

The day was topped off with shopping (what girly day isn’t?!) and gossiping. Next time, I’ll be sure to leave earlier so that we can squeeze in some mani/pedi action.

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Willkommen

I’ve finally got my act together, chosen a template, decided what pages to put on this space and have started to fill in the bits and pieces of this site.

So, welcome to my little place in cyberspace!

Please note that things I write on here are completely my own opinion and thoughts. I’m going to use this blog as an escape mechanism and dumping ground for all the things running around in my head. If you’re offended, then I apologise. Also, if some things are a little TMI, then too bad. There. I’ve said it. You’ve been warned.

Also, if you like the images I put up, please don’t be an ass and steal them for your own purposes without obtaining the proper permissions (see Copyright Notice and Creative Commons License). That’s just not nice.