One Month In
It's official, I have been living in Hong Kong for little over a month now. I've survived a house fire, protests and my first Cantonese lesson and still come out smiling.
Hong Kong is an amazing place. Everything moves at lightning speed here; commuting is crazy fast and you never have to wait long for anything. That is, except for the walking. People go at snail’s pace compared to the buzzing streets of London, meaning getting where you want to go turns into a pedestrian game of Mario Cart!
Everyone I've met here in Hong Kong has been extremely friendly and hospitable. A few weeks ago, I became an honorary member of a friend’s family for 'Mid-Autumn Festival' and I've managed to bag one of the nicest Landladies on the planet.
I'm enjoying my work. It's a beautiful space with resources to die for. Any book, cello, accessory needed is made available and the children are given amazing opportunities to learn a range of musical skills outside of their chosen instrument.
Problem is, I'm homesick. I miss Europe. It's been a real culture shock and when your Sunday evenings are spent talking to your nearest and dearest on a laptop, you can't help but feel completely alone when it's finally time to log off and close the lid. It's not all doom and gloom though, I have it on very good authority that the first month is always the toughest so I'm looking forward to exploring the country more before the year is out.
In the run up to moving to Hong Kong I got a lot of helpful tips from my friends already here so I wanted to build on that knowledge and share with you all the 5 top unique things I've learnt in this month alone.
1. Hong Kong doesn't do debit cards.
Okay these things exist but not how we know them in the UK. You can't use your HK debit card in shops. Your card is through something called union pay which is rarely accepted. Cash is the number one means of paying for things followed by credit card, something that's rather difficult to acquire here so I've heard.
2. Hong Kong IKEA is like no other.
I'll set the scene. You walk into IKEA to buy bits and bobs for your new home and you think you know what to expect because let's face it, IKEA is the safe predictable flat pack option. But imagine your surprise when you walk into the maze to see people kicking back and relaxing (sometimes literally in bed) in the displays! I kid you not. Here, IKEA is a hangout zone usually for young adults/ teenagers. This is where they spend their evenings literally making themselves at home.
3. You put on layers to go inside.
"Don't wear your coat inside because you won't feel the benefit when you out again." We all heard parents crying this for years but not here. Air con is a god send but can sometimes be a little too much. On my walk to work even a shirt seems like too many layers but when I get into the reception it's like the arctic! Always pack that extra cardigan or hoody if you're planning to sit down inside for an extended amount of time, you will freeze!
4. THE BUGS!
If you're anything like Richard Hammond then you're going to struggle in Hong Kong. Due to its climate, you're exposed to a weird and wonderful world of creepy crawly house invaders. I can safely say I have yet to find a cockroach in my room (touch wood) but I've had some pretty sizeable look a likes to greet me during those extra humid days. Nothing makes you feel more heroic and on top of living alone than defeating the bug that dared to catch you off guard coming out of the shower. They're all harmless (I think...) but just be prepared because I wasn't. Also, word to the wise, DO NOT google what spiders are in Hong Kong before bedtime.
5. Going Green...
Prepared to be shocked. I've never considered myself a huge eco warrior. I had the reusable mug and water bottle, I recycled, I would walk whenever possible. Notice my past tense? Going Green here is rather distressingly behind. For example, when shopping at the local supermarket you are going to see apples wrapped not just in a plastic bag but then inside that, individually wrapped in a polystyrene holder. It's pretty shocking when you're used to everyone talking about how important being "green" is back home. So just take a deep breath, be prepared and do your best to make sure you're doing all you can.