Even though technically I’ve just begun my third week as a Hong Kong resident, time has flown by so fast that it’s felt like one reeeeally long week! We’ve had our niece staying with us and have been slowly setting up, getting new furniture, hanging pictures and stocking our pantry. Only now do I feel that real every day living can begin.
So, my plan is to write a weekly post about things I’m having to adjust to, things that are totally different to home. Since this week has actually been two weeks and they were the first two I’m expecting this post to be rather long but let’s see what happens.
Okay so the first thing is the heat. Everyone tells you the humidity will be horrid and you kind of go, “Yeah yeah but I’m from Australia, where it’s hot, and at least it’s not winter! I’m escaping winter, yeah!” No. It is really, really difficult to adjust to everyday life in this humidity. And the worst of it hasn’t even hit yet. Then the flip side of the heat is the freezing cold air conditioning inside every building, which feels like sweet relief for the first two minutes after being outdoors, after which time you’re wishing you’d brought a jacket. It’s no wonder we’re all struck down with colds at the moment (except Heike, who is made of very strong stuff).
The second major thing is that getting around thing is harder than I expected. Hong Kong is SO not pram friendly, and I need to take a pram out. Walter wants to walk but is too little to do so safely or with great aptitude. Meanwhile Heike is more than capable of walking but is guaranteed to have a shit fit at some point and refuse to walk (which I must say is understandable given the aforementioned heat). But whenever I do take the pram out it’s a hassle – there are stairs everywhere and narrow footpaths. Last week a Chinese man started screaming at me and gesturing wildly at the pram when he couldn’t get past me (with his giant old people shopping trolley thing, middle finger to you sir!). Anyway I am hoping my solution is buying this pram, which folds up and slings over your shoulder. I’ve heard great reviews and the best thing is you can take it on the plane as carry on, which is perfect for a jet-setting family like ours.
Grocery shopping is another thing I was warned about and yes, it has been tricky. I don’t even want to think about how much we’ve spent on groceries in the past couple of weeks. It was REALLY stupid of us not to bring a suitcase full of pantry essentials – herbs, spices, flour, spreads etc. We’re not only having to spend big on pricey items such as meat (I have seen mince for AUD$50/kilo!) but start our pantry from scratch. If you’re moving overseas, don’t make the same mistake as us. We also don’t have a car, but luckily most of the big supermarkets (Taste, Wellcome) do offer delivery services – even Great Food Hall delivers, if you’re flush with cash. Still, I am seriously thinking about getting an old person’s shopping trolley thing. Old Chinese guy had the right idea, although I’m not sure how he’d feel about me pushing my stroller with one hand and dragging that behind me with the other. Probably angry.
The helper situation is interesting too. Everyone who is anyone has a helper here. Even people who aren’t really anyone (i.e. me), they have them too. We found a really nice lady on AsiaExpat as we were interested in just using a part time helper, and she has been great. Really friendly, talented ironer and lovely with the kids. But it’s weird, right? Sometimes I have to think really hard about things for her to do…and I constantly feel guilty for doing anything that could seem like a leisure activity (e.g. writing blog posts!) while she is around. I’m sure I will get used to it – every other man and his dog seems to have. But it’s an adjustment.
I’m sure there are plenty more little things – never knowing where I am, putting my three year old on the bus each day, people speaking less English than I thought they would, lots of things being really progressive and other things SO backwards (which always prompt Justus and I to give each other a look and sigh “China”) – but they aren’t a huge deal. Overall I think we’re coping pretty well. What’s more, we love it here!