Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome to Hong Kong!

Hello everyone!

Sorry it's taken over two weeks to start this blog. It's been a whirlwind! I arrived safe and sound in Hong Kong the evening of July 10, 2010 at 6:38PM to start my new adventure after a very emotional 22-hour flight from CLT via JFK. The good news is that I flew business class on Cathay Pacific from JFK and the seats converted into completely flat beds. Amazing! I also heard the food is delish but I didn't have much appetite. Instead, I listened to David Grey and 80s music on my iPod most of the time.

That first Saturday evening was a very lonely night. In fact I don't think I've EVER felt so alone in all my life. I had trouble communicating with the locals (who call themselves Hong Kongese so I was close when I said Hong Konganese Joyce!). The funny thing is they THINK they speak good English but many of them don't. And they talk really fast so sometimes you honestly don't know if they are speaking English, Chinese or Greek. Once I got to my corporate apartment my frustration increased because I couldn't figure out how to use my computer, make a phone call or turn on the hot water in the shower (they have metal boxes in the shower and kitchen that you need to turn on and set the temp -- which by the way is in Celsius! - why does the USA have to be difficult and not use the metric system?) which certainly didn't help matters or my mood so I went to bed. BUT, I woke up Sunday morning (4:15am) and called my friend, mentor and guardian angel Eren at 7:45am to come save me. She and her hubby Jack scooped me up and spent the entire day babysitting me. They showed me where to get groceries, how to ride the Escalators (the longest set of escalators in the world that literally people take down the side of the mountain in the AM and up the mountain in the PM) and out to Causeway Bay where they live. I also got to see IKEA (yeah!!!) and a public outdoor swimming pool where I plan to start swimming again...or at least that's what I told myself.

After my HK tour Eren and I met her friend Cheryl and got hour-long foot massages for $25USD. It was incredible and it's one of only a few "bargains" in Hong Kong - the others being public transportation, medicine and water. Nobody drinks the water here but I've been using it to brush my teeth and so far so good. To that extent, guess what I ate last week...chicken feet and jellyfish! I liked them both but the chicken feet don't have much meat so I am not sure why people put forth all the effort! Next up is durian fruit (it smells like dirty socks - they won't even let you open the fruit in a restaurant or store b/c it's so pungent). I don't think I am going to like it but as they say "when in Rome." The locals are having a great time with me because I try everything, including trying to speak their language. OMG - it's so difficult to form their sounds!!!

Everything else is very expensive here - it's the 4th most expensive city in the world behind Moscow, Tokyo and somewhere in Norway. For you shopping lovers (LP, Danna, Jess) it would be heaven --- Prada, Tod's, Tom Ford, Missoni, Gucci, YSL, DVF, and the list goes on an on. I just politely smile as I walk by and wonder A) what people do to be able to shop there and B) if they make sizes large enough to fit my birthing hips and ta-tas. Speaking of which, Asian women are thin and beautiful. It's incredibly annoying and using Elly's term in Spanish I feel like a "monstradante" - I know I butchered that word, sorry Elle! I also noticed their complexions are entirely too perfect - they don't age at all! I plan on getting one of them to let me in on the secret to their fountain of youth because it works....stay tuned.

Have I mentioned how much I like my job so far? It's incredibly I-N-T-E-N-S-E an I've never felt so dumb in my life. Everyone on my floor has educational pedigrees that make Condaleeza Rice look like she went to community college. We are talking Stanford, Cambridge, Brown, Dartmouth, UPenn and....wait for it......NC State! I guess they needed someone from a public, non-Ivy university to help their diversity metrics :) My boss is cool - she's Irish with a wicked and witty sense of humor. She's also one of the smartest people I've ever met in my professional life. I am learning so much from her already and I am just scratching the surface. I can't wait to learn more about this complex, challenging and sometimes crazy investment banking business! Did I mention my boss is also a shoe whore? We are talking CLs out the wazoo! It's a shoe fashion show everyday in the office so I need to quickly step up my game...

I've met a lot of people since my arrival (mostly Brits and a few Aussies) and I've made a few friends along the way, mostly from work. The bank sometimes makes me nuts but the people who work there are generally pretty friggin' awesome. I should give a shout out to Eren, Jack, Cheryl, Ann, Monica, Michelle, Ali, Harris, Eunice, Vanessa and Verity. These people have been exceptionally inclusive and welcomed me with open arms. And because there's very much a feeling of "we're all in this together" friendships are formed much faster. I feel like I hit the trifecta again - great job, great boss, and probably the most important --- a great team. I feel so lucky.

I am going to do a better job of writing posts more regularly (more for myself than for the readers!) because I want to capture my thoughts and experiences while living here more accurately. I would love for you to read my posts but I understand that my life probably isn't that exciting to anyone else...

Just in case you are wondering if I am lonely --- I have a little "buddy" named Cleo. He's a chameleon or salamander and he lives on my living room wall. I don't know what he eats or what he does all day but he's here when I get home from work and we hang out until I go to bed :)

Below is all my contact info. I still don't have a mobile (I kind of like it) but I am getting one this week and will include the number in my next update.
Work Phone:
852 2161 7462


Love and miss my family, friends, JG and my BFFS (you know who you are!)


PS - below is a picture of Cleo, my buddy :)