Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Bricks and mortar

Thanks to the sheer non existence of Hong Kong webpages (as one shop owner said to me "no website! People steal ideas." Takes one to know one..) most places are a mystery before you arrive. And only once you arrive can you get a sense for what you needed to bring/think about in advance etc. So, just about everything takes me two trips to do. And I've been trying to be a little more local, taking buses everywhere, which means at the end of the day, I've achieved nothing and am COMPLETELY exhausted. Examples of a few double trips I've had to make:

  • Open a bank account - don't have a valid proof of address* = return home to unearth anything that proves I'm alive
  • Brainstorming session at a friend's company - skirt too tight and clingy for the hot and humid weather = return home and remember to open windows before choosing an outfit
  • Unblock phone - think the place looks too dodgy = return home and sit on forums all day looking for keywords like "unblock iphone, AT&T"

*There is a list of things which are deemed valid proofs of address: passport, ID, library card, letter from anyone to you. Note that it doesn't matter where your address is, as long as it's deemed valid..

But, it's really weird not to know what a place looks like before you get there. We're spoilt by NYmag, I tell you. Case in point. I went furniture shopping yesterday to a place called "Horizon Plaza" which I'd read about in asiaexpat. People referred to it as, "A furniture warehouse in Ap Lei Chau". Groooaan, just what I needed.. elbowing my way through crowds with nothing but a lampshade for protection..

But when I arrive, I find myself to be in a rather lonely street with nothing there expect for a crumbling building and this..

Triad Car

I walk into the building only to find a wall of signs. This is shady. The hot sexy mama parked outside must belong to some mafioso who runs a drug operation from the basement, ha! Horizon Plaza, I knew it was a dodgy name. This is one of those moments which you read about in the paper and everybody tuts at how obvious the situation was and how they would never walk-around-alone-in-a-desolate-neighbourhood and on her own at that.

I brace myself for the worst. I can always run down the back stairs if there's trouble. The numbers in the lift are only even numbers.. meaning that the odd numbers are reserved for the drug lords. I press 28 and wait.

Snotty nosed furniture, at your service

Hamptons Furniture??? My dreams of Nancy Drew fame dissolve as I see that I am in the most expensive home decor warehouse known to mankind. Every single floor had furniture that looked like something out of Architectural Digest, and prices to match. The cheapest guy I could find to build a wardrobe for Boom Boom was asking $11600 HK. That's enough for a small cottage in the Chinese countryside!!!!
  • Go to buy furniture - furniture stores are 200 times more expensive than budget = return home and spend afternoon munching Pocky sticks and flicking through the IKEA catalogue


  1. Passing by way of Metropolitan Mum who mentioned your blog.
    If you are looking for another 'seasoned' ex-pat in HK who has gone thru much of what you are now and can certainly offer advice and help, look no further than http://bloominmavelous.blogspot.com. She is a good friend and has been blogging some 3 years now about life in HK.
    You never know!

    LCM x

  2. Hello LCM!

    Thanks so much for stopping by! As you can see, I'm a fresh arrival in HK and to the world of blogging! I'll take a look at your friend's blog, as well as yours, and say hello!