Sunday, May 24, 2009

Love Letters, Hate Mail: The Weekend

Everybody's working for the weekend. It's true. This one was so good I bought this bottle of Grey Goose!

The hot weather is here (gross) and so is the rain and humidity (double gross) so to escape the heat we sought shelter at the russian ice bar.

As refreshing as that was, we didn't last very long there. Sadly we thawed out right away and kept searching for the cool.


Saturday, we pre-partied while watching COPS (awesome) and walked right around the corner to a bday party at M1NT.


Cheers to you weekend. Come around again soon.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Love Letters, Hate Mail: Engrish Names

So right now I'm looking at an email with a fabric quotation, from a person named Water!

I don't know how or when this started, but Hongkies and China Mainlanders often have English names. This makes it easy if they are dealing with English speakers. Yes, for me the foreigner, it's easy for me to remember Ivy and Anna and Stephanie. But as it turns out, like everyone's name is Stephanie. And their last name is either Kwong, Lee, or Chan... so they end up with the same name anyway and it's no easier to remember.

I've come across some good ones at work. No one in my office, we all have pretty regular names. But vendors we have worked with have ranged from Heman to Piano to Funni and back to Water. My co-worker told me she once met a Dinosaur! I need to meet a Dinosaur. I've heard of Purple, Xerox, Money, Coffee... if you're a working professional, how are you supposed to take them seriously. Really.

Another one of my co-workers told me her parents don't even know her English name. They don't speak a drop of English, nor would they probably care.

Choosing the names. I guess if you're parents are progressive or well educated or lived abroad or work with foreigners they may give you an English name. I'm pretty sure this is not the norm though. English names are often chosen when they get to school. A teacher has a list and I'm not sure if a name is issued or chosen but there you go. There's your new name.

Let's put aside the funny or Funni names for a second and take a look at the "normal" names they choose. I'm like, really into old school names, but English names in circulation here are pretty ancient. It's like these kids grew up on Wizard of Oz and just assumed Dorothy was a good name. I have never come across so many Dorothys in my life. It's a very common name. I'm uncomfortable with a name being issued when there's no understanding of the context involved.

More common names: Beatrice, Joyce, Rose, Ivy, Ester, Stella, Stanley, David, Henry, Wilson. These names are not just common, they're everywhere.

It's kind of a relief knowing I won't come across a Jaeden or Jayden or Kaedyn or a Jake or a Madysen or Madisyn or whatever these crazy kids are coming up with these days.

I get a kick out of it, I really do. But a name to me is very important. Have you ever met someone who's name didn't quite fit them? I have a friend and we all know her by her Chinese name Wing. That makes sense to me. Just recently and only because I caught it on her work email address did I see that she does in fact have an English name and it's Matilda. Ok, I dig Matilda. It's an awesome name. But it is soooooo not her.

While we're playing this game, I've given myself a Chinese name (nobody outside the inner circle knows this) Wang Ho. My college BFF is Ming Poon. Her bro is Wing Man. Brian is Wang Kok. If you'd like a Chinese name, Fuk Yu is still up for grabs. And there is, indeed, a Fuk Yu building.

Love Letters, Hate Mail: The Price of a Coke

Today at lunch, I paid over $6 USD for a diet coke.

Love Letters, Hate Mail: Space, the Final Frontier

The previous post is relevant because it's not just about the dirty diapers. Space is at a premium here (have I embroiled that into your head yet?) and while we AMERICANS like our space and our privacy... well, Hongkies don't have that.

Immediately after the dirty diaper incident, I could hear someone in the front of the room clipping their nails. This is not the first time I've experienced someone clipping their nails in public. I've seen it on the MTR, I've heard about people doing it at work. And it's one of those things that if you're aware of it, you can hear it a mile away.

So, knowing this, you can imagine the kind of activities that take place in the women's locker room at the gym. I personally spend as little time in there as possible.

This lack of space also causes Hongkongers to be absolutely unconcerned with the people surrounding them. They can mentally block out ANYTHING. Traffic, noise, people ramming into them. Whatever. This really bugged me especially when I first moved here.

If someone bumps into you, you expect them to say sorry right? Not here. It's to the point where they'll bump into you on purpose to get you out of the f'ing way. This is a constant at the grocery store. Instead of saying excuse me, they'll just ram into your cart with theirs and not even give you a second look. For me, I would rather someone say get the F out of my way than that... but it's just the culture. I've even been in line at the grocery and someone runs their cart right into me, my person. Does that make them think I'm going to move any faster?

Bumping is something you cannot avoid either. You have to learn to live with it or you'll die of a heart attack. Just as people don't give a S if they bump into you, people don't give a S if they get bumped. It's a fact of life here and just one of those things that Hongkongers have evolved to ignore. So, if I slam into someone, I don't feel bad at all. But I still have enough respect for them to say sorry and excuse me. I TRY to hold onto my manners but it's getting harder and harder.

A friend who lives in Causeway Bay (a very busy neighborhood) has a 13 second walk between her front door and the entrance to the MTR. On average she gets bumped 4 times.

So, maybe a Hongkie could ignore me if I went off on them in English (It hasn't happened yet but it's just a matter of time before I punch out someone) but they certainly can't ignore me if I rip them a new one in Cantonese. And then beat the S out of them with my shoe.

I'm enrolling in Cantonese classes in the Fall.

Love Letters, Hate Mail: Dirty Diapers

In a perfect world there would be one love letter, one hate letter. However I know it's going to roll in one direction for a while and then shift to the other. Live everything in my life, I love and hate it with all my heart.

Today, while waiting at Immigration, some chick was changing her baby's diaper in front of me!! Ok, I understand you need to do your business but I don't #1 need to see your baby's junk while I'm waiting for my work visa (yes I said baby junk) #2 when she ran off to the counter mid-diaper change to let her husband take over because she was called to the counter I thought... Good Lord, I'm NOT going to be the one who follows her at the counter. I just think of everything she touched... and everyone she came into contact with at immigration... and how many people they come into contact with... and you wonder why in 2009 we are concerned with things like SWINE FLU.

Wash your f'ing hands people. Did we learn nothing from SARS?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Love Letters, Hate Mail: Dirty Laundry

The first edition of Love Letters, Hate Mail to Hong Kong.

We know HK flats are teeny tiny. I live in a 400 sq ft place, but it is not unheard of for a couple or family to live in something less than half that. How that works I have not a clue.

Since I don't live in a newer, more modern complex I'm not sure how they work. Nor do I have the thousands of USD every month to find out. So for the very average person like me, we have a washing machine located in our kitchen. Keep in mind my kitchen is smaller than my entryway closet in my old LA apartment. My previous apartment in HK didn't even have a kitchen. This is why there are more restaurants per capita in HK than anywhere else in the world. Anyway, so in this teeny kitchen lies a washing machine. It usually takes the place of the oven. Yes, it's true, Hongkongers rarely have ovens.

So, you have this washing machine. Don't even think about room for a dryer cause there isn't one. You'll see laundry hanging out clotheslines 20, 30 floors up and beyond. I am very spoiled because I have a washer and dryer in one.

The point of this story. I notice that in the warmer, dare I say hotter, months many people smell like wet dogs. You can't avoid it. We rely on public transportation, the sidewalks are crowded, it's everywhere. But I was really fascinated by this "wet dog" body odor. Someone explained to me that since Hongkongers don't really have proper dryers, clothes don't dry thoroughly, and in this humidity everything remains moist anyway.

I'll take this a step further. Today on my lunch break as I was strolling through the grocery looking for carpet cleaner I came across some laundry detergent. There was a sign there that made me believe that Hongkies DON'T use laundry detergent, and should therefore buy some to make their clothes super clean. Are you kidding??? That's gross, but explains a lot.

Love Letters, Hate Mail

To give my blog project a little more interest, I'm starting a series called Love Letters, Hate Mail, dedicated to my current home Hong Kong

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sanya Homoliday

A little bit more about Sanya. Last weekend was a holiday weekend (Labor Day on Friday, Buddha's Birthday on Saturday) and most people (expats) leave HK on holiday weekends.

We left Hongkers Friday night and it was a quick one hour flight to the island of Hainan. We took a chance with the Crowne Plaza hotel, but it turned out to be really nice. So nice in fact, that we consolidated our two room spread into one room. That's right, we squeezed 5 girls into a king hotel room but it was actually quite comfortable.

We were thrilled with our accommodations. Freshened up, and then headed out for dinner. There are three beachy areas of Sanya - Sanya bay more to do there I guess but full of mainland chinese, Dadonghai - lots of Russians, and Yalong Bay where we ended up - the nicest beach out of the three, nicer hotels, but not really anything else. However, I don't think we were missing anything by not venturing out past the hotel scene.

Since we are from Hong Kong and walk everywhere, we figured a walk down the beach to find dinner would not be a problem. However, these hotels are massive compounds and we were got really tired from walking in the sand. The Marriott was much further than we anticipated.

We ended up at an Indochine restaurant that was pretty good. Then lounged in the lobby with a drink and called it a night.

The following day at the beach was prefect. It was cloudy and breezy and warm without being hot. It was no problem chilling in the lounger all day and reading. Cora and I wanted to infuse some kind of adventure into this vacay and wanted to go jet skiing. We then found out that all the jetski places required you to ride with an instructor. Totally lame. We ended up not doing it.

That night we decided to check out the nicest hotel on the strip - the Ritz. We showed up and managed to get a late reservation at the Italian restaurant there, so we had a couple of hours to kill. We walked over towards the beach and came across the most perfect place, a bar right on the sand with bean bag chairs! It was pure heaven to be sipping drinks with our toes in the sand.

Now, because these massive hotels don't yet have too many guests, there was no problem getting a seat here. Any other place we'd be fighting to get a table, and any other Ritz we wouldn't be able to afford to eat or drink. That's right. I believe this is the cheapest Ritz in the whole world. But still gorgeous.

Our beach bar experience was made more perfect by the super dope song stylings of the coverband that attended to all our requests. It was such a great experience we went back there on Sunday night too.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Asia World Tour: Sanya, China

A little bit about Sanya. It's considered the Hawaii of China, on the island of Hainan in between Hongkers and Vietnam. It has recently been developed as a getaway spot for Hongkies, mainland Chinese, and Russians. Yes, everything is in English, Russian, and Chinese!

It's still up and coming so there's really nothing there except massive and mostly empty hotels and the beach. And I did not know this place existed until I was booking my flight.

We ended up there because 1) it was a holiday weekend and we needed a break from the gray skies of Hongkie town, 2) we organized ourselves pretty late in the game so other destinations like Thailand were booked.

I got a lot of reading done and I have to say those cushy beach loungers made for the most comfy beach experience I ever had.