Wednesday, March 09, 2005
We Made It!
Well, we made it here!!!! Not sure if we still have the “deer in the headlights” look but we are slowly finding our way around and figuring things out. We obviously learn new things everyday, whether it’s how to say thank you in Cantonese, making our way around the MTR (subway) system, communicating with the taxi driver (telling him how to get to our flat!), or learning that the sound of a baby crying is actually someone’s cell phone ringing (that one freaked us out!)
We stayed at the JW Marriott for the first few days when we arrived here. We needed to wait for our stuff to arrive from Colorado and the furniture we rented would not arrive at our new apartment for a few days. The day we checked out of the hotel we felt like we were cutting our umbilical cord! It was our safe place. We could count on the concierge, who spoke great English, to answer our questions of how to get somewhere, how to get something done, where to find the cell phone store, etc. We could stay in and order room service for dinner as opposed to finding food for ourselves. It was our first step into this huge foreign world!
Our apartment is a perfect size for us. It’s about the size that Troy and I lived in before we were married. Sometimes we feel like we are regressing in life as opposed to moving forward. Anyways, the bad thing about our place is we have no closets or storage area. We think this is common. Our dive gear and hiking backpacks are in our guest bathtub and some clothes are piled on our window sill. The furniture we have right now is temporary so when we get our permanent furniture we will have clothing cabinets and dressers to store our clothes.
We also have an awesome view from our apartment. From the living room we look over Hong Kong
and from our bedroom we can see Hong Kong and Victoria Bay.
The view at night is amazing!
When we have some clear nights, Troy will try to get some night shots with his camera. These pictures are not on a very clear day, the windows are dirty, and the workers cables (leaving in a couple days) are visible - we will get better pictures shortly!!
One of the first things we did after we arrived was to go to a furniture store to pick out furniture we wanted to lease to furnish our apartment. What’s cool is everything will be brand new and we were even able to pick out the material our couch, chair and dining chairs would be upholstered in. Luckily the furniture rental is all part of Troy’s contract.
Our apartment is in a big complex. There are 6 buildings with about 1000 people per building. We know this sounds crowded, but there are worse places to live in HK. We are in one of the more “quiet” areas, if there is such a thing. The community sits on top of a 5 story parking garage and a 4 story mall. The mall has a McDonalds, a bank, 7-11, several restaurants, toy stores, shoe, clothing, jewelry stores, and a big grocery store. There is even a store to buy a piano to fit into our massive apartment if we want.
Shelly realized after being in our apartment for a few days that we don’t have an oven! We do have a microwave/conventional oven that supposedly “has” the capabilities of an but Shelly won’t be doing any baking while she’s here. It is also very small so we won’t be roasting a turkey in it!
Speaking of no oven, cooking for ourselves will be interesting. Shelly went to the grocery store the other day and basically had the attitude of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Shelly has no idea what she bought, so for a few weeks dinner at home will be an adventure. It’s almost like taking all the labels off of your canned goods and then opening a can at random for dinner (this sounds vaguely familiar….Lance!!!!) She made sure to buy peanut butter and jelly as a back up in case something tastes really bad or gets cooked wrong and turns to mush. Shelly plans on taking a cooking class, but until then we are on our own to figure things out. While shopping, she stopped by the soup section to get more “backup food”. Campbell’s has a soup flavor here we have not seen in the US. It’s called Cockaleekee! Come on everyone say this with us with a Chinese accent “Oh, sonething rong, my cock a leekee!” (Bert, we know you are saying this with us.) Needless to say, Shelly did not buy the soup!
The other day we went to a restaurant across the street from our apartment complex. It had kind of a Denny’s feel to it. Anyways, we’re sitting at our table and this guy walks through pushing a cart holding several roasted geese with wires wrapped around their necks to hang them up. We don’t know where he came from or where he was going but you don’t see that in Denny’s in the US. They also serve red beans as a dessert here. One of the restaurants in “our” mall serves a red bean coolie with ice cream in a big parfait glass! Nasty!!!!!
We also have the tiniest washer/dryer there is. In one load you can fit one maybe two pairs of pants, a few shirts, some underwear and socks. Needless to say, we will be doing laundry often. There are a few laundry stores nearby that we can get our towels, sheets and bigger items cleaned but laundry is going to be a constant thorn in our (or shall we say Shelly’s) side. The one good thing about it is it is an all in one appliance. Put your clothes in, add the detergent, choose the settings and walk away. When the washer/dryer is done your clothes will be washed and dried. Well…. mostly dried. They don’t have air that blows through the clothes like US dryers. We’re not sure how the clothes get “dried” but when you pull them out they are steaming and you still have to lay them out to finish drying. Everyone here hangs their laundry out to dry but we don’t trust ourselves to be coordinated enough that we won’t drop our clothes down 35 stories! “Troy, that old lady down there is running off with your underwear!”
We know there are many friends and family that we told there would not be a language barrier here because “English is widely spoken”, well we are quickly finding that is not quite the case. People speak English, but they speak it like if we were to speak Cantonese: not very well! It is taking a lot of patience on our part to ask questions and explain what we need and then repeating back what they said to us to make sure we are understanding what they said. Shelly has a little bit of hair left (she stopped yanking it out after realizing that pulling it out gets nothing done) and Troy is taking his frustration out by yelling at the phone after he hangs up. Shelly has signed up for language lessons so we will see how much that helps us. Hopefully she won’t “accidentally” sell Troy to the Chinese Mafia! “How should I know where these men are taking you, I’m just asking how to get to the post office!”
Even though we have been here only a short while, we sometimes yearn for other people who speak English. One day, walking down the street, we saw two Mormon missionaries. You know, the guys in the short sleeve white shirts, name tag, black tie and pants with the bicycle helmets (by the way, this makes a great Halloween costume). Anyways, Shelly was so starved to communicate with someone that spoke English that she was even willing to stop and talk to these guys about what Jesus had to say. If you know Shelly at all you will know this is something she would never do. Missionaries kind of give her the heebie jeebies!
We will keep you updated on how things go. So far Troy and I are happy here and are glad we decided to do this. One thing we have both noticed is it will definitely make our relationship stronger. We know we have to rely on each other for a lot of things and we need to be strong for each other so neither one of us falls apart.
We miss all our friends and family and we think of you often!
Shelly & Troy
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We have been following your adventures plus added news from Mom Ockers, and we hope Shelly is feeling much better!
welcome to hong kong. i moved here last october from chicago. if you have any questions about getting around, where to find things, etc. let me know, i'm glad to help. also you may notice the expat community from the US is much smaller than other areas. shelley, if you're interested, the American Women's Association is a great way to meet people (women) and they have a multitude of activiities going on. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need anything!