Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Version of the Taj Ma"Small" and Other Random Stories

Fasten your seat belts and get out the vino because this is going to be a longer blog entry. Perhaps I am making up for taking almost a month of not writing or perhaps I still can't believe all that has happened since I last wrote. Either way I had to share the latest and greatest in my ongoing HK escapade.

Let's see - where to begin? The first weekend of September was spent in Koh Samui, Thailand with the American Dream Team counterparts of ABL, Ashley, Devin and Julie. We stayed at a little bungalow-style resort off the beaten path. It was fine for a long weekend but not sure I would stay that far away from Chewang Beach again. I might also feel that way because Ash, ABL and I slept 3-people deep in a king-sized bed all weekend! We spent most of our time relaxing by the hotel pool or on the beach. We had multiple massages and even had a 60-min one on the beach our last day for about $20 USD. We also saw some of the 'local' flavor of Thailand and by that I mean "lady boys" and prostitutes. Lots of them. All shapes, sizes and ages. It is really sad to see women selling their bodies to feed their families but it's apparently quite normal in their culture. It was like watching a bad car accident over and over and over - I knew I shouldn't watch but I couldn't stop staring. Men are disgusting creatures...but I love them nonetheless. We also partied like rockstars Saturday night and stayed out until 4AM after Julie challenged an Irish guy to a push-up contest in the middle of an Aussie bar wearing a white dress and heels. The best part? Devin (her hubby) watched the whole thing and was cheering her on! The other highlight of our trip was eating brunch on beds directly on the beach. We ate for nearly 2 hours straight after realizing it was all-u-can-eat (and we wonder why Americans are some of the fattest people on the planet).

The following weekend was spent moving 35 boxes, a bed and couch from NC, and an air shipment into my 680 sq. ft. permanent apartment. I've moved many times in my life and this was by far the most exhausting and challenging move. Period. It started when my practically brand new couch wouldn't fit into the lift or the stair well of my building. We tried for hours to figure out a way to make it work but to no avail. The couch is now sitting in a warehouse somewhere on HK island and will be thrown away next week since I haven't found a home for it. So sad. I also had to throw away almost half my clothes just to fit everything into the two, very small wardrobes in the flat. My shoes are in a cupboard in the living room and my suitcases are at the foot of my bed. In a nutshell, let's just say I've learned to live with a lot less and I think I am actually happier! It's surprisingly cathartic to 'purge' your life and start over...not to mention a great excuse to buy all new clothes :)

To add insult to injury, however, in addition to unpacking and trying to organize my new life without having a complete meltdown, the hot water wasn't turned on and my freezer was leaking water all over the living room floor the first day. It was classic. Both of those problems were fixed in a few days and then last week I came home from work to find a window leaking in the bedroom. If that wasn't bad enough, I called the super and he said they will fix it sometime in the next week and in the interim to put a towel by the window to keep the water from getting all over the floor. The icing on the cake happened two days ago when the elevator broke twice in 48 hours and I had to hike up 20 floors to my flat. Brilliant. So, when people ask if I like the apartment I answer by saying I will learn to love it but it definitely wasn't the smoothest transition. I don't really miss much about the States other than family and friends, but I have a whole new appreciation for service providers "back where I come from" because they make sure things get fixed immediately. To make up for my apartment frustrations, we went out like rockstars until 5AM that Saturday night. I couldn't believe we did it again but it's so easy to stay out late around here. This place is truly adult Pleasure Island but not always in a good way. There are more drugs, affairs, and divorces here than almost anywhere else in the world. So for all my single ladies - this is not the place you will date easily or meet your future husband. The good news is that you will make wonderful friends from around the world and not really even have time to notice or care that you are single :)

On a happier note, I've made multiple trips to IKEA and should own stock in the company by now. My dear friend Eren and her husband taught me how to survive the "IKEA experience" and even helped me find my new sleeper sofa (translation = everyone has a comfy place to sleep if/when you visit)! But the funniest IKEA visit happened this week with Long. We went Tuesday night at 8:30pm after a long day of work and stayed until the store closed. We had 5 bags of stuff and couldn't get it all on the escalators in one trip. So we improvised. LL took a few bags and I took the others, leaving the heaviest bag behind. We went up the escalator properly and when the IKEA associate wasn't looking, I hauled it back down the escalator going the wrong way in flip-flops. I nearly tripped and cracked my head open but I somehow caught myself and made it to the bottom. I looked back at LL and she was laughing so hard she couldn't speak. I grabbed the last bag and we were headed for the second set of escalators. Instead of repeating the same performance, I got smart and put a bag on the escalator by itself for Long to catch at the top. Unfortunately, the IKEA guy caught on to us and starting yelling in Cantonese (sometimes it's nice not understanding what people are saying). He eventually started laughing at the ridiculousness of our behaviour and helped us shlep the goods to a cab. We called Devin and Julie on our way home for reinforcements (aka help me bring my purchases up to my flat). This might not seem funny as you read it, but it was one of the funniest moments I've had since moving here.

Another recent highlight has been my two friends visiting from Sydney. They were here for a week and we had so much fun! They arrived last Thursday and we were nonstop from the evening they arrived until the moment they left yesterday. We did a few hikes, went to the beach, shopped, ate at a private kitchen, and somehow swallowed the spiciest Szechuan chinese food ever. I burned the roof of my mouth from all the red chillies in the food but it was well worth it. We also showed the boys what it's like to go out "HK style" so we had another late one. But it was pretty tame, all things considered :) I hope Angelo and Mike are having a great time in Shanghai and I can't wait to see them in Sydney in a few months!

This weekend will be spent buying the last few things to make the apartment feel like home. It will be a very low-key weekend filled with drinks at Upper House after work (my fav bar in HK for reasons everyone knows about here), dinner at Eren's house and a hike to Dragon's Back followed by serious beach time at Shek-O. I need a break from the buzz before heading to Boracay in the Philippines for the upcoming long holiday weekend.

Above all else, however, I am most excited about the Lionel Richie concert Tuesday night. We've decided that September 28th can be Valentine's Day when two hearts beat as one to Endless Love! Too bad I don't have a love in HK or anywhere else in the world. But Julie will be my plus one that night since Devin doesn't want to go. Yay!!!

I promise to get Internet so I will have skype and regular Facebook access again soon. In case you want to reach out in a different way, below are my permanent contact details.

Fook Kee Court
6 Mosque Street
Hong Kong

Bones - have a wonderful, happy birthday! I wish I could be there to help you celebrate. Good luck blowing out all those candles :)

Love and miss my friends and family, with a special shout out to the BFFs. You know who you are!


PS - will post pictures soon!