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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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Progress

Hurray! Dann and Daniel arrived last Sunday and it’s awesome to have them around. I couldn’t sleep at all on Saturday night due to the excitement of it all. This showed when we all arrived home from the airport and crashed for 3 hours!

The ride on the Airport Express to pick up my boys!

The ride on the Airport Express to pick up my boys!

Daniel was apparently behaved on both flights – they flew Brisbane to Singapore then Singapore to HK. Though apparently he woke up 3 hours out of Singapore and refused to go back to sleep (even though it was about 2am). Poor Dann. Though all Daniel wanted to do was watch TV shows. It’s kind of good that he can enjoy the onboard entertainment these days!

First evening in HK for Dann and Daniel - checking out the Symphony of lights at TST Boulevard.

First evening in HK for Dann and Daniel – checking out the Symphony of lights at TST Boulevard.

So the first week with them here consisted of showing them the lay of the land: where good restaurants are (of which there are plenty!), where the good playgrounds are located (there are no bad ones that I’ve found), the nearest supermarket (about 4 doors down) and getting them oriented with the place. Of course, there was the obligatory trip to the mobile phone shop to get Dann connected to the interweb. Pretty much everything that took me about 10 days to figure out, they got the crash course in a day and a half, and every afternoon after I finished up at uni for the day.

School work everyday for Daniel!

School work everyday for Daniel!

For the most part, we’ve settled into a routine. Dann and Daniel walk me to Uni (it’s awesome living 10 mins walk away instead of the usual >1 hour drive commute from Ipswich to Brisbane) and we have a morning coffee before I go to work. Then they both go for a longer walk either to a playground to run around, or to visit a local site or something. Last week they went to the Hong Kong Science Museum. Daniel absolutely loved it, which was awesome. He raved about it for days and days and wants to go back again and again. At a cost of $25 HKD for Dann, or around $3.50 AUD (Daniel is free) it’s pretty good value for money!

Afternoons at Kowloon Park!

Afternoons at Kowloon Park!

After this, they usually head off to have morning tea in town or in the apartment where they then do Daniel’s school work for the day. We were initially worried about the stuff that Daniel would miss at pre-school by being here in HK, but because his pre-school is awesome (I love them and cannot rave about them enough), his teachers put together a heap of worksheets that he can do while he is here. We also have a book that Daniel draws in and sticks all the paper souvenir things he has (ticket butts etc) so that he can take these home to remember his time in HK.  In order to keep him and his friends at pre-school connected, I’ve been sending them photos of the things he’s been doing and also a short newsletter-type thing that tells his friends back in Australia all the things he’s been doing in HK.

Playground time.

Playground time.

Following school work time is lunch, then nap. Dann’s been taking this time, as well as the afternoon time after naps when Daniel plays with his toys/on the iPad/watches telly, to do the documentation that he needs to write for the new BMath degree at QUT.  He finally finished this yesterday (it was due today), but he had to work through last weekend to finish it. So he’s more relaxed today, and next weekend we can all do something together!

The time after I finish up at Uni are usually spent together at the park. We’re quite frequent visitors of the playground at Kowloon Park these days, as well as the other playgrounds around TST! It’s really, really nice to have them both with me here.

Last weekend (while Dann was finishing the BMath documentation), Daniel and I went to the Hong Kong Space Museum and Middle Road playground. This was a great way to spend a Saturday. On Sunday, we made our way to Noah’s Ark in the New Territories. Again, it was a nice day out for Daniel and me.

Cooking up dinner in our little apartment.

Cooking up dinner in our little apartment.

Work-wise, I’m still thinking of way in which I can incorporate Dr Tam’s work into my wayfinding BN. It’s hard as her data is more on levels of service stuff, but I have a couple of ideas which will hopefully pan out. I’m meeting with her and Prof Lam again on Wed morning.  In the meantime, I’ve been surprisingly productive doing other things.

I’ve finished all I can do on a paper that the Complex Systems team I’m in are working on. It’s on visualisation of BN model results and is shaping up to be a really nice paper.  I’ve also started on my BN methods paper, which is a good thing. I have a fairly solid idea of where this paper is headed (finally), so it’s nice to be able to make some progress on it – even if this progress is just putting my references in BibDesk and summarising the relevant papers to which I’ll be referring!

Anyway. I’ll end this post on some dot points that I’m too tired to elaborate upon (I really haven’t been sleeping well at all and it’s all starting to catch up with me):

  • While I love having Dann and Daniel here, I still think that this whole thing has been quite selfish on my part. Uprooting everyone and so forth. I know it’s a great experience for as all, and as Dann says ‘It’s what academics do’, I still feel guilty about it. Particularly when Daniel gets upset and says ‘I miss home’. That gets me every time.

    My little boy. I love him so.

  • I still have no freaking idea about what I’m doing. Apparently this is a common feeling among academics who aren’t completely up their own arses. Or so I’ve been told. I’ve been feeling this way since I started this degree and it hasn’t stopped. I doubt it will.
  • Looking beyond PhD completion, I have no idea where I’m headed. I like academia, but I’ve also seen the bad side of it too (in work and personal lives of others). I guess that’s the same everywhere though.  The question is: Can I survive in the real world, and would the real world even want me?! For the first time in years, I actually have nothing in place after I submit my thesis in a few months’ time. I’m at the point of trying to balance my time doing my work and applying for post-doc jobs etc.

That’s it for now. More to come once I get some much needed sleep. Though I’m beginning to think that’s not going to happen until after I hand in this thesis.

Le sigh, le sigh.

Afternoons spent together at Kowloon Park!

Afternoons spent together at Kowloon Park!