It is the time of year when a lot of new people arrive in Hong Kong. There is a period of settling in and discoveries are made. If you are new, let me warn you now, that you will feel a range of emotions on an hourly basis and the main focus of these emotions will be whether you have made the right decision about giving up your previous life to live away from your old friends and family. You will change your mind depending upon the peaks and troughs of your experience, as I say, on an hourly basis.
OK may be I'm exaggerating about feeling differently every hour, but you will have moments of doubt.
Obviously when you first arrive it is exciting and there are loads of things to do, organize and buy. There will be a hemorrhaging from your bank account as you shell out two months of rent in advance, perhaps buy a car (not so much 2nd hand) tax a car (outrageous), Bonus Driving Blog FYI furnish your apartment. And all the incidental purchases that make a home homely add up. You will need mosquito, cockroach and ant deterrent, dehumidifiers to suck up the extra moisture that lingers in your wardrobes and rots your clothes, damp patch blog anti mold potions to keep the unsightly black film off your bathroom ceiling and new filters for your air conditioning units which may never have been cleaned.
Funds will Fly
Your funds will fly out of your wallet in the flurry of socializing and meeting new people. Hong Kong bar prices can be painfully high but you don't know that yet because you haven't established the exchange rate in your head accurately so you keep on buying drinks. And because you are new and have no friends you say yes to all invitations because you want to come across as friendly and interesting. After a while you will stop even attempting to remember any exchange rate and you will also become wiser about happy hours.
Oh and keep in mind that you will receive a lovely green envelope through the post probably just after Christmas, this will be your tax bill.
You will have conversations with people who are not so new about 'helpers'. In some cases it will be essential to hire a domestic helper so that you can actually go out of the house and do the job you have come to Hong Kong for, leaving your children to be looked after by the helper you don't know yet. That will mean cooking, cleaning, delivering children to school, picking them up again, playing with your children and getting their pjs on just in time for you to come home, exhausted, to say good night! A myriad of emotions just there.
In some cases you might just want the luxury of having a cleaner. Someone to wash and iron and make your apartment spic and span as if the fairies really did come when you were out, removed all dirt and make your home into a showroom. You may not feel the need for such a service to start with. You may not be used to such decadence, it may be against your principles to employ a third country national and pay them the minimum wage. You may feel strongly that you should clean up your own mess. Don't spend too much time beating yourself up about this - get a helper as soon as possible!
Your first typhoon could be exciting, you might even have a day off from the new job and the government will infiltrate your mind through pubic service warnings encouraging you to tape over your windows, bring in heavy objects from the balcony and hide under the bed. This will undoubtedly be unnecessary and you will be left wondering if the typhoon happened or not? The same goes for the colour of rain, a science no one understands involving amber, red or lucky black. Lucky because it could be a potential day off too. What to do 'official guide' Hot and Cold weather warnings are also there to protect the population so you will be advised to wear a vest when its cold and stay indoors when its hot. A government official will call around to check on the vest wearing in winter, be warned!
Being a Giant
Transport will be tricky. Not only will it take time to become confident and not anxious about getting places on the MTR or mini bus you will also constantly feel like a giant person when travelling on public transport. The seats and the width of the steps seem tiny as do every other asian person around you. I cannot honestly say that this improves over time. This is also a feature of clothes buying but I would need a few miles of blogging to vent my feelings about sizes of lovely clothes that don't fit and how my whole wardrobe has been purchased on holidays back home or from M&S.
Obey all Rules
Be aware that you must conform and do everything exactly as the Hong Kong Government and every assosiated agency require. If you try to buck any system you will not succeed. Every form you are required to fill in must be 100% accurate. If you are asked to produce photocopies of your Grannies 25 yards swimming certificate to your last water rates bill don't for one second think they don't mean it, they most certainly do, so read every form 28 times before submitting it. You will be asked for your HK ID card number every step of the way so memorize it immediately and be grateful for it. Without it you will get no where, whether its getting a phone line or library book that ID card makes things happen.
If you are an experienced Hong Kong expat what advice would you give the newbies?