Monday, 14 September 2009

Batten down the hatches

So, I was going to blog about the monster of a dessert that I had last night (see picture) but I now may end up treating it as my final meal. (Oh and by the way, I’m not a total pig – I did share this with two other people. And we still didn’t finish it.)

There’s a typhoon a-coming. In about an hour or so. And I’m just a little itsy bitsy teeny weeny bit scared. I have found out that a typhoon is just a region specific name for a cyclone or a hurricane. Hmmm. This does not reassure me. I’ve cancelled my 6.30pm meeting as the warning has gone from T3 to T8. (T10 is a full-blown hit.) Even though it seems quiet and relatively calm outside, the clouds have been racing across the sky and many people have been sent home from work. The mid-level escalators will now shut and I think they will probably stop the ferries.

Oh well, at least this is more important than worrying about all those calories! Having said that, most HKers just laugh and say the government is being overly cautious and I have nothing to fear. But then, they also said that about those aforementioned “occasional cobras”.

Thankfully I’ve been to the supermarket and I’ve got my supplies. Including the most enormous amount of toilet paper ever. Despite the cramped living spaces and the obsession with miniaturising everything, you can only buy an individual roll of toilet paper in your corner store, or in a 10-roll pack at the supermarket. Now where the hell am I going to store this???

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

5 things I’ve learned in my first week in HK

1. Despite the fact that it’s ridiculously hot and humid at the moment (around 32-35 degrees Celsius), and as an Irish person I’m dying from the heat (we’re talking three-showers-a-day kinda heat), I’ve been told that I shouldn’t talk about “sweating”. I must ignore the fact that as soon as I step outside, beads of perspiration roll from my neck, gathering speed as they pour down my back until they soak into my clothes and my underwear. No folks, I’m not sweating, I’m glowing. Hmm…

2. Further to the above point on the heat, if I want to act like a local, then I must dress like one. I have been warned that in the middle of winter, the temperature drops to a freezing 10-15 degrees. People die from the cold here. Apparently I will need a thick wool coat – and maybe a scarf and gloves too. In fact, the shops are already selling winter coats and jumpers. Of course, if it was 15 degrees in Ireland, I’d be running around in a t-shirt. But I must not talk about that. Keep quiet and button up!

3. If you’re walking along the street and you feel a large plop landing on you – fear not! It’s not bird shit. It’s just condensation from someone’s air conditioning unit high above you. Soon I hope to stop jumping in the air while flapping my arms about every time this happens. I also haven’t seen any birds in the sky, so no doubt this will help. (Is this linked to the pollution?!)

4. Creatures are scary here. Have already seen quite a few cockroaches on the street. And a rat (which my friends swear was a medium sized mouse. Now it was either a giant mouse or a rat, and my money is on the rat). Also, while someone was telling me about the wonders of living in Sai Kung (a fishing village in the New Territories – I’ve been and yes, it is rather lovely), they did mention in passing that one can find the occasional cobra sitting on one’s doorstep. Only a small one, mind. Fuck that. I’m staying in the city…

5. Every city divided by a river is also divided by its inhabitants who argue over which side is better. In Cork it’s bad, in London it’s even worse, but here it’s fricking ridiculous. Hong Kong Island is predominantly where the expat community live, whereas Kowloon is described as “more Chinese”. Both sides think the other is rubbish. HKers argue that Kowloon is “the dark side”, that it’s impossible to get to, it’s dirty, etc. A bit like the way North Londoners view South London. Kowlooners (Kowloonies?!) think HK Island is full of visiting foreigners, that it’s sterile, and that it’s a rip-off.

Now here’s the joke. You can take the MTR (tube/metro/subway) from Central (the main station in Hong Kong) to TST (the main station in Kowloon) in less than 10 minutes because they’re only two stops away from each other. Of course, have I decided which side I want to live on yet? No. Arse. Where am I going to live???

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Hungry Ghostbusters

Ghosts – and ravenous ones at that – have been swarming round Hong Kong recently. It’s the annual Hungry Ghost Festival, which one friend succinctly described as “Chinese Halloween”. People burn paper money and goods to pass onto their ancestors in the afterlife. And they do this on the street. In a bucket. Turns out the people I saw weren’t mad tramps after all, but respectful citizens.

Shops in Sheung Wan do a roaring trade selling replica cardboard products for budding pyromaniacs – Sony tvs, mini BMWs, Vertu mobile phones, Louis Vuitton bags – you name it, they’ve got a paper version of it. I actually had to fight the urge to buy the replica LV with the intention of passing it off as a super limited edition bag from Hong Kong.

Another friend wagged her finger at me, warning me (a) not to steal the fruit offerings left out on the pavement and (b) not to flick my cigarette butt into one of the metal buckets used for the mini bonfire. Who? Me? As if I would…