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Hong Kong, Baby!
Transcript of Hong Kong, Baby!
So, as promised, I have come up with a pretty (and pretty nerdy) way to tell you about all the stupid things I've managed to do in the last 10 weeks....
1. Invited a Year 9 to brunch
KT first introduced me to the wonders of Jumbo.
Jumbo: a floating restaurant where for a mere $400 you can partake of an extensive and international (we’re talking everything from sushi to crepe and ice cream) all-you-can eat buffet and free flowing booze from 11am until 4pm, at which point you can make the executive decision to pour yourself home or the much more common decision to begin drinking Jumbo cocktails…
One fine Wednesday, I decided to organise a Jumbo jaunt to introduce himself to the wonders of HK. I hopped on my school gmail and composed a missive including phrases like ‘drink until we fall overboard’, used the handy function that allows you to begin typing someone’s name until Google fills it in for you and whizzed the message off to a bunch of staff. So far, so sociable…until I return to the English office and Mrs E and Fee begin laughing and pointing at me. Hurt and insecure, I demand an explanation. Mrs E tells me she’ll only come to brunch if she doesn’t have to sit next to Nadine. Now confused at Mrs E’s sudden dislike for the lovely Spanish teacher, I proceed swiftly to aghast when Fee manages to explain between giggling that I have, in fact, invited a Year 9 student of mine who shares the name in question.
She didn’t turn up. To my disappointment.
2.Almost ate a whole chicken…
As you can imagine, the food in China is something of a moveable feast. As a major city, everything you could possibly want to eat is here, albeit occasionally with an HK twist. Hot Cheese Fish Sausage is an example that springs readily to mind…
To welcome HoD and I to the department, a big group of us headed to Robbie’s in North Point. One in a series of open restaurants on top of a wet market, it’s quite the fantastic assault on the senses: open bubbling tanks of sea-food, tiled floors, plastic chairs, shouting waiters, what I can only describe as beer wenches, sizzling stir-fry and a bewildering number of smells, good and interesting flavour. They serve beer, of course, but you drink it out of little bowls. See? Twisty.
The food was incredible – lots of seafood, delicious veggies and some lovely garlic chicken, which mostly went down well. Made a discovery: Mr W plays with his food and makes the girls cry.
All in all, a lovely evening although I did spend a proportion of it a little unnerved by who could possibly be lurking behind the toilet door. And why.
3.…And almost cried at the sight of Waitrose pesto.
Having discovered the nearest Wellcome supermarket to me, I thought I had resigned myself to cooking with what was on offer: some familiar things like pasta and tuna; plenty of Chinese groceries which remained broadly a mystery although one I was ready to have a stab at; but missing staples of my former London life like balsamic vinegar and capers. First world problems, I know. I wasn’t starving, at any rate.
Nevertheless, growing increasingly frustrated with tuna pasta and oriental meals of varying quality and edibility, I eventually tracked down a Park n Shop and, swear to God, it was like the heavens opened and choirs of angels burst forth in song as I stood in front of a shelf of Waitrose goods. The strength of that feeling, I wasn’t kidding with that title, was really unexpected. I like to consider myself a woman of the world and I love to cook but in the face of everything else being so new and overwhelming, I think being able to go a little easy on myself and make something familiar was really comforting. And now, I mostly eat Asian anyway! Ramen noodles count as Asian, right?
4. Been pissed in school, every Friday!
An account of the past ten weeks clearly wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include a series of pictures of people looking cross-eyed. However, this is a very public place so I’ll leave most of them on Facebook – invented for public displays of drunkenness, after all – and just provide some context here. One day soon, you’ll be here to experience it all first hand!
My school has a bar in the staff room. Yep. The staff association stocks the fridge so you just write down what you’ve had and pay at the end of the term like the most epic and potentially embarrassing bar tab ever! It’s been a really nice way to get to know people in other departments and a lot of the new staff come along so all in all, school is super sociable, handy since I seem to spend all my time there…
From school, we tend to head to the nearest real bar for happy hour. It’s awful handy that the nearest bars are in Kennedy Town so I can drop my laptop and marking home before the serious boozing commences. Nothing worse than having to explain to the IT dept that you’ve left your brand-new school computer in a bar… Usual places include The Pier, The Davis (where I am now on first-name terms with the manager – ace!) and, most recently, Firewood. There’s more room there to sit and it’s open along one wall. It also has darts and, as we ill-advisedly discovered one night, wine tasting.
For anyone still standing, it’s off to Lang Kwai Fong or Wan Chai. Both are messy, cheesy and super fun.
Occasionally we go somewhere classy…
Deck n Beer
5. Gone to the beach without a towel
After what seemed like a really, really long time, we finally had a bit of a break as the Mid-Autumn Festival coincided with a Chinese anniversary and we got two days off. KT and Mr KT, Not Yr 9 and the Newlyweds all packed up and headed to Sai Kung to camp for the night of the festival, raging hangovers in tow.
We caught a taxi all the way to the pier where we were able to get an illegal speedboat to Tai Long Wan. It was a comforting moment when we had to switch drivers in the middle of the bay because the sea was too choppy for our original driver! Choppy it was indeed but we got there in approx. one piece, along with what seemed like the rest of HK, and set up camp using the handy school tents stored at the beach. International schools really do think of everything.
Cue a really lovely afternoon/evening featuring all the staples: bobbing about in the sea, making lanterns and bedecking ourselves in the left-over glow-sticks, sending the womenfolk off to forage for wood, indulging the menfolk in building a camp fire, toasting/roasting marshmallows, drinking many beers, getting a lesson in poi from KT and eating Chinese food at midnight the lantern came in handy for reading the menu! More and more school folk turned up and all in all, it was super fun.
• came to the beach without a towel or a swimsuit. I swam in a t-shirt and shorts and wrapped myself in a sheet until I was dry. That’s like MacGyver, right?
Silly things I did:
• failed to seal the tent properly so that every time the wind blew, I was showered with sand. Woke up in drifts of the stuff. Literally. I had little piles of grains on my actual face!
• sat at the back of the boat on the way back. The last boat they let out that day because it was so choppy. Soaked isn’t the word; I might as well have swum back. We were absolutely forced to sit in a bar for two hours when we got back to Sai Kung because we were so soggy, no taxi driver would take us back to the island! Bad times.
6. Missed my family horribly
Self-evident, I suppose, but the longer I’m here, the more I miss my Kittys; it’s the longest I’ve not been home, even for a flying visit, in a really long time, probably since you and I went to Merka and I had you on that trip so it doesn’t count! Lots of photos from Mammy’s 60th and my leaving party have gone up on Facebook recently and lots of people have been saying how lovely we look as a family. Sad face. I was talking to a new member of staff last night about moving and I think I’m lucky in that I’ve lived both abroad and in HK itself before so the culture shock wasn’t so big. But, one effect of all that childhood roaming was that home has always been where my family is, never a particular country or even a specific house (though the Abbey does come pretty close). One of my main worries about the eminent immigration was that, even though HK is a familiar country, I might never really feel at home here because the rest of the clan are so far away. That’s not to say that I’m not happy and settled and loving living here – because I am – but there is always a little nag of something missing. Did I make you cry yet?!
7. Become single and written a list
As you know, the other sad thing happened and himself and I went our separate ways. I’m probably lucky in that being here doesn’t hold too many memories and I’m trying to make the most of being on my own. I’ve made a list and stuck it to my fridge so it can quietly judge me.
Yes, it is embarrassing having such a dorky thing on the interwebs but I figure the more people I tell about it, the more likely I am to actually achieve some of the things on my list, thereby becoming a more fascinating person whom people will invite to dinner parties or something. Dinner parties are my ultimate life goal. Le sigh. And yes, it is Saturday not Thursday but I was very busy getting accidentally mid-week drunk with Mrs E on Thursday. Soz!
Right, that’s your lot and I’m off to Kota Kinabalu for half term! I’ll be back on Thursday though with plenty to tell you about. I’m going to combine KK with KL so expect a Malaysian bonanza. Boleh!
Suffice it to say, this has been my…...