Saturday, 31 May 2014

Living the Crazy Life; A Year in Hong Kong

Feral cow/water buffalo in Sai Kung, HK 'Fresh Beef'
Lion dances, junk boat cruises, random encounters with feral cows... these are a few of my favourite experiences drawn from ten months, 2 days and 14 hours of living in Hong Kong, 'Asia's World City'.

My imaginings of congested city life, row upon row of high rise apartments, a city/country that never sleeps have proven in reality to not be my part of my daily routine.   I came to Hong Kong from London, England and expected to have to adapt to a high-tech, fast paced lifestyle here in Asia that would contrast with the village life I had found in leafy green Hampstead, NW London.   Almost a year after moving here, each and every day I wake up and experience something new and quirky about living in the New Territory village of Sai Kung.
Map of Hong Kong showing Sai Kung

'Rocket Buses' - Sai Kung, Hong Kong
Sai Kung is located in the North East of Hong Kong. It takes about 40 minutes by taxi to get to Central on Hong Kong Island.  The same trip by public transport takes about 60 minutes.  Sai Kung is known mostly for its seafood restaurants, hiking trails and boat trips off the pier (which is only a 5 minute walk from house).  Because Sai Kung has no links to an MTR, the only way to the town is via a road with only one lane in either direction.  This inconvenience has helped to preserve some of the unique characteristics of small town and village life.  During the mid-week, it's fun to wander the streets of the old town and sit and chat with friends in the town square.  At the weekends, stream upon stream of double decker buses and Green Mini-Buses (rocket buses) packed with city dwellers escaping their tiny apartments and urban life flock to Sai Kung.  The wee town transforms into a bustling, noisy tourist destination. At these times it is a real treat to retreat back to the relative solitude of my roof top.

Sunset over Sai Kung, Hong Kong
I've discovered the many and varied joys of apartment life.  My neighbour is an amazing violin player and it is always awesome to exit the elevator and hear our communal hall filled with the magic of his music.  I'm also enchanted by the more than 180 degree views I have of the mountains and ocean from every room.  Living previously in London, Canberra, Tashkent and Sanford NC, I have craved the sight and sound of the ocean.  The rising sun wakes up on summer mornings and the shadow of the mountains shelter me from its heat when I relax on my roof top in the late afternoons.

The water off of Sai Kung, Hong Kong

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Images of Hong Kong Kong - My 2 Month Anniversary Of Moving Here

The 26th of the month passed me by without noticing and so I missed the opportunity to mark the two month anniversary of the day I arrived in this amazing city/country/region.  What a hell of a ride this adventure has been so far! 

My time here began so well with a luxurious two weeks in a 5 star hotel. From the comfort of this base I was able to focus on securing and furnishing an apartment and starting a new job.  I was also able to meet a whole bunch of amazing new colleagues and plant the seeds for growing friendships.  It wasn't long after this initial orientation period that I needed to call on these acquaintances to help through what has been one of the most physically and emotionally difficult times for me.  I'm hoping now not to jinx the situation, but doctors tell me there are good signs I am on the mend.  What started out as an ill timed bout of bronchitis quickly escalated to the potential for more sinister diagnoses. An operation, numerous scans and procedures and many antibiotics later, I hope soon to have the physical strength and energy to return to work and to explore the sights of Hong Kong that the many new friends who visit me have described.  

I am positive I can regain my health. I am positive I will flourish here in Hong Kong. I am also positive that I am going to enjoy living here. Below are some images I have captured in my first two months! I love this place :-)

The weather is always fantastic in Hong Kong
Hello Kitty bus in Hong Kong

Special birthday hedgehog steam buns. Cute and delicious!

The view from Matilda Hospital down the Peak in Hong Kong

Kim Jong Il is alive and well driving a taxi in Hong Kong
Cows wait for  buses in Sai Kung

New clothes anyone? 

Great name for a funeral service, Hong Kong

The view from my roof, Sai Kung, Hong Kong

Love the street names in Hong Kong

High Rises in Hong Kong

Keeping Hong Kong Tidy 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A Sporting Chance - The 2013 America's Cup

Pushing aside my nagging doubts, Team New Zealand still has a chance to win the 2013 America's Cup. Weeks of early morning starts  (viewing races live in Hong Kong means 3:45am risings) has worn my patience thin, causing my commitment to the cause to waiver at times.  Coming back from 8-3 down, the American defenders, on their boat Oracle, have put up a tough fight. Oracle's boat looks faster and their decision making on the water, led by Olympic hero Ben Ainslie, looks superb. The series is now tied 8-8 which means the next race is winner takes all.  I am nervous!

I'm now so emotionally and physically invested in the outcome of the finally race tomorrow that I can not bring myself to not set the alarm and drag myself out of bed in the dead of the night to watch the action unfold in San Francisco.  Judging by my twitter feed, the rest of New Zealand feels the same way I do.

My favourite place - at the beach on Rabbit Island, New Zealand
Despite being strongly drawn to the ocean, I am not myself adept at water sports. One could assume that growing up on an island, and having spent all of my youth on or near the water, that I would be at home on the sea.  Unfortunately, sea sickness - the motion of the ocean, is the ruination of my aspiring Olympic career or round the world yachty.  It's one more reason why I admire the people out there (where are the female crew though?) - in all weather they are out there slogging it.  I hope the Team New Zealand crew are able to uplifted by the support that they are getting all around the world from us landlubbing Kiwi supporters.


Monday, 23 September 2013

Dodging A Typhoon

In early hours of Monday morning, typhoon Usagi skirts the edges of Hong Kong.  Viewing from My taped up apartment windows, I can see little evidence of effects of a typhoon.  The winds have dropped right back with barely a stir in the branches of the trees in the urban parks below.  Rain continues to fall heavily but in the town centre of Sai Kung, it does not appear to have caused any flooding.  The concern at the moment is the tides and the full streams coming off the surrounding mountains as it passes through small villages.  Have we dodged the big one?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Hong Kong vs Typhoon Usagi - Blogging the Storm As It Hits Sai Kung

An 11pm sojourn to my 12th roof top for the unique experience of hosting a one person ice cream party during a T8 typhoon, revealed strong winds and bucketing rain.  Some of the fence palings on a dividing wall had come loose and we're laying around. I was able to collect them up before they became missiles flying over Sai Kung when the wind is meant to ramp up later tonight.  The neighbour's potted tree has also taken a tumble. It must weigh 20 kg - shows how strong the winds are already.

Pepped up from a sugar rush of Ube flavoured ice cream, I decided to take a walk around the neighbourhood. I took some photos of my iPhone 4S of the effects of the typhoon so far.

A downed tree outside Block A in Central Sai Kung, Hong Kong
Sai Kung McDonalds remains open during Typhoon Usagi
Driving rain - wet wet wet in Sai Kung during Typhoon Usagi