MUSINGS FROM HONG KONG, A JUST JAMES PRODUCTION

Hong Kong + Just James = News for You (Previously the "JustJames" Blog.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Chapter Eight: Twelve Commandments for that Sweet HK Life.

It's been an extremely long time since I've blogged... to the point that I was pretty unsure what "chapter" I was on. Technically it's been almost 3 months, but not quite yet, since i've arrived in Hong Kong. Within that time frame, I was able to win 2nd Place in a competition in China through my firm, relax somewhat in a dissappointing trip back to Manila, loved and lost, and make it into a local architecture magazine. Fun, fun, and then some. It's been so much fun that another Cornellian, Alida (who has yet to call me), followed me here soon after to start her job at HOK HK. Anyway, so many lessons I've learned since arriving... and so many stories to tell... but wait, how can I fit about two months of witty banter into one chapter... simple, bullet style! (In no particular or apparent order.)

1. Thou Shalt Not DIS Disneyland HK.
Yes, Disneyland opened in Hong Kong, har har. Sure, I dissed it. But I went yesterday on a company outing and had a fun time. Everyone rode Space Mountain twice, including me... who knew, and I hate roller coasters too. But oddly enough, Winnie the Pooh's Wild Ride gave me the most whiplash than any other ride, even Space Mountain. Plus you get to ride the fun Disney Train to get there!


2. Thou Shalt Take A Leisurely and Non-Stressful Approach to Furnishing Thy Apartment.

Cimg1261Link: IKEA Hong Kong
Link: Goods of Desire G.O.D.
Image: My Living Room.
You just moved to Hong Kong, and you end up moving into a sweet but unfurnished apartment. But you want to furnish it all at once, what to do!?... DON'T. and STOP. Don't furnish your apartment all at once. Take your time, go to Ikea, G.O.D., or Aluminum several times... and let each purchase sink in. My apartment is officially done today, and it took like two months. Decorating and deciding the "LooK" is stressful enough.. especially if the building has no elevator. Make sure to compare prices!

3. Thou Shalt Apply for a Local Credit Card from a Local Bank!
Link: HSBC HK
There are soooo many deals if you carry a local credit card! From Yoga, to Gym, to Ikea, to G.O.D., to SmarTone Vodafone. You get stuff cheaper with a specific card, you pay in installments, and you just get plain better deals. Sure the APR and annual costs are outrageous, but it should be fine if you pay your balance on time.

4. Thou Shalt Live in a Building With Local TV Reception.
Link: PCCW NOW! Broadband TV and Internet
Link: TVB Pearl
Yes, I don't get basic broadcast TV because my apartment building doesn't have a regular antennae. When I lived in a Serviced Apartment, I had Pearl Broadcast TV Channel, which had the best shows. Now I get broadband TV, but only subscribe to one channel... Star World. Yo. Star World has worse shows than PEARL. For some reason Star purchases the most random shows from the United States to air... so, for the past two months, i've been watching TV shows from the States I would have never thought to watch until I started subscribing to Star World: Becker, Medical Investigation, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenager Daughter, TNA Wrestling Explosion... there are others which are less crappy, Less Than Perfect, Life with The Kelly's, Desperate Housewives, and the Practice comes to mind. The real surprise is that I actually enjoyOne Tree Hill. But unfortunately they don't show OC. Oh well... local TV is great if you have it. comes to mind. The real surprise is that I actually enjoy

5. Thou Shalt Know Many Locals Who Go to California Fitness.
Link: California Fitness
Gym membership in HK is a must. Yoga is a must. Know someone whose been a member for 4 years at least. Know a really famous sales person. Drop their names when you apply for membership. Be patient. Act like you know what kind of performances they're going to do next to get you to pay the worst price to join. Be patient. Smile a lot and Keep saying you need a day to "Think It Over" before you sign a contract or have them take your card to charge whatever amount on it. Make sure you don't sign a contract unless you're happy with the terms. Remember there is a "gweilo" price and a "local" price. And don't go to the California Fitness in Wanchai.

6. Thou Shalt Not Go to Causeway Bay or Central to Shop on Sundays (or take a Tram to get there.)

Dayoff1Image: Sunday at Foster's HSBC Tower in Central.
Unless you want to be crushed by hundreds... sorry, THOUSANDS, of short Indonesian and Filipino women on their day off... DON'T GO!

7. Thou Shalt Stand Up for Worker's Rights... (Your Right to Leave the Office at 6PM)

Enough said. Your life in Hong Kong just doesn't consist of work. You need to be well rounded if you want to have a healthy and fullfilling life here.

8. Thou Shalt Not Kiss Strangers or Expats at Parties.
Link: The Body:HIV/AIDS Resource
Link: The Resource Center Hong Kong
Link: Planet Yoga in Central
Just don't do it. I did it... and I had a panic/anxiety attack for the next week... which required me to go to the Doctor's Twice, take two yoga lessons, inquire about therapy, and take an HIV test. Well... if you're more balanced or more-well rounded than I am, then maybe you'll be okay. Otherwise... don't do it.

9. Thou Shalt Relax, Take, a Break, and Meditate.
Self-explanatory... go to the gym, go to Yoga, or windowshop... go hike up at the peak, watch a movie. It's an important and vital part of the city life, take the time to just rest.

10. Thou Shalt Not Join Cults.
Link: ALPHA
I was trying to find spirituality outside myself... and the guy at the office who kept taking me to go these meetings is sooooo good at persuasion. I went to some and realized that jeez..."what the f*ck am I doing here saying all these things to all these people?!" and they really didn't mean well... they think they're better than everyone else because only they have this one valid special relatonship with God and everyone else is blind or going wrong. I like how I've been livingwith my spirituality thank you, and I like who I am, and I like how I deal with it my day to day life just fine. I don't need anyone telling me that they're way is better, righter, and the only way. As soon as they started talking about the fact that all Palestians should have been killed years ago and that people who are homosexual are just sinners who look for flesh and not spirituality... I was about done... I'm going to miss the food though.

11. Thou Shalt Be Adventurous in Thy Cuisine Choices.
Try to avoid Delifrance, McDonalds, and Cafe de Coral. It's been tough and difficult for me because they're all in my building... BUT... try to step out and ask for a Yingman or English menu and try new things. Starbucks is alright... it falls under Relaxation and Meditation.

12. Thou Shalt Befriend Locals... Cool Ones.

IMAGE: Karaoke at Red Box Until 5 AM... I was probably singing Jay Chou by this time.
Two words... Lady Liz. Lady Liz equals hundreds of Cool HK local friends and hours and hours of hip Karaoke bars. Right Liz?

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