Sunday, November 20, 2011

closer to normalcy

I mentioned that I finally found some moderate priced shopping. Well it was all part of last weekend.

I met with my real estate agent again (I ran into some road blocks in negotiations with the place I had been interested in previously*) and she had two apartments to show me. Well they were both in a really nice quiet development that's close to work and really practical. One of them was really nice, clean, renovated, had new bathroom and kitchen fixtures. I really liked it. It's a decent size for my needs and there's a supermarket and a small shopping center just next to the complex. There's also a bigger shopping and restaurant area near the MTR station about a 10 minute walk or so from the apartment. This is where I found places to buy the stuff I'll need to fill out the apartment.

I actually just bought a bed and mattress to be delivered on time so that I won't be sleeping on the floor.

So the apartment: two bedroom, about 500 sqft, I'll take pictures later. I don't know what else to say other than I'm looking forward to having a place to live (not a hotel).

I met the landlords. A couple and their son. They were really nice, and they spoke english well which really helped. They asked about me and were in general just nice polite friendly people. They have to move some stuff out that they were storing (stuff like their sons old toys and some sports equipment etc etc...) and they have to finish up the work in the kitchen.

So the details: I finalize the paperwork and get the keys on Thursday. I'll move my bags in on Friday and sleep on my new bed.

But everything's not perfect. The extra time it's taking to get into the apartment pushes me over the one month limit and I'm living in a different hotel. The serviced apartment that work paid for was not available for me to stay in (they were full) so I had to pack everything into a cab and move to another hotel (which is actually a hotel room and much more cramped with all my luggage). The bad news is that the money I wanted to spend on a Christmas trip is going into this hotel, but I'll spend the holiday continuing to get my apartment in order and reading and exploring Hong Kong. This means that I'm going to start encouraging people to come visit. I should have money in my reimbursement budget for second bed...

I haven't had the time to adventure much lately, it's been all work and apartment stuff. Work has me learning plumbing and fire protection on a project that's already so tightly scheduled as to be ridiculous even if I was working in my own discipline. This is going to be a really busy week for me.

I did see this today:

I guess you get your haircut by a quarterback. I would always assume the kicker is most likely to be into cosmetology, but who knows.

Live note: I was watching some English language movie channel. And it's been normal movies. X-files was on at one point, and then some movie with Jodie foster, but now it's "Lesbian Vampire Killer". I can't tell if it's a campy comedy, a really bad sci-fi fantasy movie or something in between.**

Where was I? Oh yeah.
I also wanted to point out that this beer is in all the supermarkets:

It's Ice Smooth!

Thanks again for reading!

*The landlord of the first place I was interested in wanted to avoid paying taxes by renting under the table and not letting on to the government that the place was occupied. Not wanting to wind up in a Chinese prison somewhere with no way of notifying my office that the Terminal 1 work wouldn't get finished... I politely declined.

**So far Lesbian Vampire Killer has it all: dry British humor, profanity, some eye candy...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friday's thoughts and Saturday's excursion

It's the end of week 3. I'm already in the groove at work and that's been really good. Have I mentioned that they sanitize the phones once a week? Cause they do that, and the lady just came by cleaning my phone.

Work is work. Pipes, ducts, space proofing and the like. I'm not getting to do my own plant design just yet but we'll see what happens. But it's the little things that make working out here interesting. For instance, I've been working on an educational building at a sludge plant. This place has a pool area with three pools (perfectly clean pools, heated with excess heat). Again this is at a sludge (or sewage) treatment plant. "Kids the field trip is to the sludge treatment facility, bring your bathing suits." If that's your kid, are you signing that permission slip?

Fun fact, unlike Arup New York, here they actually have the Annual Dinner (basically a Holiday Party) in December. What a thought.

So far I haven't found middle class, modest shopping. It's either really high end, fancy-pants malls (which all the same designer stores) or it's cheap stuff on the street. I'm not saying it's not here, but I can't find it. (Sunday update: I found some. More on that later on.)

I haven't seen the giant Buddha everyone's told me about yet. But it's on my list of places to visit.

Okay it's time for a beer and I'll finish up later...

So guess what I did saturday? Saw the giant Buddha. Or the Tian Tan Buddha in Ngong Ping, a Buddhist village on Lantau Island. It was a really cool trip. So at the end of one of the MTR lines, I took a gondola to the village. The gondola trip alone was worth it; the views are stunning! Just these island mountains covered in green, and then the sea. Side note, in the gondola with me was a guy who works in the village and he told us about the emergency rations stored in each gondola car in case of any long stoppage. He told us about a 20 km bridge that's just starting to be built from Hong Kong to Macau and Southern China. I thought that was pretty cool, and I think I know a one time bridge engineer who might also.

So anyway the base of the gondola is a pretty commercial. They're catering to the tourists. But it's nice and I sat outside and had some nice dumplings and a hoegaarden (a real beer!!!!) before continuing through to the Buddha statue itself.

There's a big arch and series of statues of the 12 heavenly generals. Each represents a different 2 hour period of the day and has it's own weapon.

From here I reached the steps of the Buddha statue itself. 300 steps to be exact. I hiked up and got a closer look. There are some great views from the base of the statue!! I took some pictures of the surrounding village and the sun setting over the hills. Again, just magnificent. My favorite part had to be the statues kneeling and making offerings to the Buddha. You can see one of them below.

Inside, there are a number of artifacts that were impressive to look at but I had no idea what their significance was because I couldn't read any of them. Wish I had my sister with me to explain them to me.

I simply loved the afternoon, despite the hour long line for the gondola back. I need to go back to see the Po Lin Monastery. If I have someone to go with me, I might try to hike the trip from the MTR station instead of the gondola...

Well it's getting late and I'll check back in shortly with the news on the apartment and how I found medium range shopping.

My last sentence is about Nic Cage so I have an excuse to use that tag again.

And for more photos check out the album.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Junk Boat!!

Sorry it's been a bit of time, but I was waiting for some pics from my friend from last Sunday. I still haven't gotten them so if I do, I'll post my update about the Hong Kong Wine and Dine festival. But for now I'm going to post today's boat trip. It was worth it.

So Arup Hong Kong has a boat that employees can get access too sometimes. One of the expats at the office had it and invited me and some of the guys I was hanging out with last Friday to come along. Best decision I've made in a long time. I'm tired and a little sun baked, and I loved it.

So I grabbed some food and beer to add to the picnic and met the guys at the pier in Central at 10:30. To be honest I don't remember where we went but we went away from the city. I think it was Sham Wan. It was a nice warm day and I sat around with some folks from work on the roof of the boat just relaxing and sipping beer and enjoying it. Let me tell you, when you're on the roof deck of the boat with friends, lounging on the cushions enjoying the breeze as the boat cruises along, life's good. So after we stopped, the swimming started. The jumping in off the top of the boat, and goofing off in the water started. We swam to the little beach and hung out there for a bit. This was really nice, the water was calm and there are all these green hills coming right up out of the water. So beautiful.

We swam back for lunch on the boat. So much food. Mostly just typical stuff, we were pretty much all westerners so not a lot of local food. After lunch the boat heads across the little bay closer to a slightly larger beach. This time some of us stayed in the water around the boat rather than swim all the way in and back but it was more good fun. We played the very appropriate lonely island song "I'm on a boath" from an iphone at this point.

The weather started to turn just as we were heading in. So the wind was picking up and the sea was choppier and we could see a storm coming. We took the calmer route close to the city and then finally as the weather was clearly looking to turn sour we reached the pier again and everyone headed home.

Here are some pictures:

If you want to see the rest click..... here!

Thanks for reading!!