Friday, 7 May 2010

Arriving and getting connected

I landed in Hong Kong for the rest of the foreseeable future 2 weeks ago, only to find that everything anybody ever said about Hong Kong is, well, a little unfounded. Here I was expecting hordes of people, bicycles riding in all sorts of directions and cramped high rises as far as the eye could see. Well, instead, I find myself on a beautiful island with much more greenery, less people and better food than I could ever have expected.

Mind you, coming from New York, I suppose my tolerance for cramped spaces, humidity and aggressive traffic is pretty high.

The first two weeks have been a somewhat hit and miss attempt at settling in. First of all, I needed a phone. I moved over with an iPhone that is practically married to AT&T and has some sort of "till death do us part" clause in the small print. So, I had to "jailbreak it". Now, just to clarify, the only two phones I've ever owned are an ancient Nokia (which I treat at a relic and used to proudly lend to people who came to visit from abroad and needed a local SIM card) and this iPhone. So I am no pro. However, several geoexpat forums later, I managed to get some chap on the 4th floor of a computer/phone/repair centre in Wan Chai to facilitate a divorce. The experience was a little hairy. My darling phone, which I am quite attached to, as it introduced me to email-on-the-go and has a much needed gps, was whisked away from the shop by a man wrapped in what looked like a plastic tent and a helmet. I smiled sheepishly at the shop owner as I sat and watched him take apart some other iPhone and carefully put it together with new parts, spray paint and lighter fuel. At that moment I wondered what my iPhone would look like when it would be returned by the man in plastic. 4 hours later, my phone came back, and, believe it or not, it was alive! It works perfectly, with the exception of the gps.... which is a small problem, given my sense of orientation. I think it still has an American heart, so it's struggling to adapt to its new location..

Location unknown

Might I say, however, that I survived for a good week without a phone, and I still managed to stay in touch with people as I wondered the city. How? SmartTone shops. Yes, these ubiquitous outlets all proudly show off their fantastic wireless usb sticks, which you are free to try. Read 'free to send emails to friends and family who are wondering where-on-earth-you-are-and-why-haven't-we-heard-from-you.' They are also good spots to shelter from the rain, which seems to bucket down every couple of hours or so.

Of course, the real reason why I needed a phone, was I could email everyone I know in town and arrange to meet for lunch etc. I then quickly realised that people actually like to talk to you in order to arrange anything. Talk on the phone? Haven't done that in a while. This is going to be a change.

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