One week on and I'm pleased to say that I'm doing well in the "Fragrant Harbour." I now feel well settled and in a city which has been so welcoming and negotiable so far, it would be difficult not to.
My journey began last Saturday afternoon with my departure from Glasgow to Hong Kong via London. The 15 hour journey wasn't as harsh as I'd imagined, being aided by a ridiculous choice of in-flight entertainment and a fair amount of sleep, it in fact passed by quickly. I arrived in Hong Kong around 5 that afternoon (the same day, considering the 8-hour time warp). I had met up with the other Hong Kong intern, Adam (who is on a different placement), prior to travel.
On the Sunday, Stuart Roseman, the Global Scot responsible for organising the placement, met me for lunch and a few drinks, along with another couple of colleagues who I'd be working with. However the place had been booked out for a traditional "100 days party" (not 100 years as I'd originally thought!) In Hong Kong, it is customary to celebrate a new-borns 100th day. Though quickly finding somewhere else, this was an ideal opportunity to get to know who I would be working with and learn some helpful tips about Hong Kong.
Sunday night was time for my first real "test." Unfortunately, my working visa hadn't came through in time for my departure to Hong Kong. However, this was an easy fix, I was given it on Sunday by Stuart and simply had to the short trip across the water to Macau. This led to my first experience on the subway (or "MTR"), which really did impress me. Not only do the trains have a frequency of every 2 minutes, the are practically never late, incredibly clean (eating or drinking is not allowed) and what's more costs a princely sum of $5 HK per travel (that's less than 50p to you and me.) Having arrived safely at the harbour, I took the trip to Macau and back (around an hour each way). I didn't have the chance to really explore, but the nickname it has; "Little Las Vegas" seemed completely appropriate from the neon-lit skyline and every second building seemed to be a casino. The "Ferry" was also not a ferry but a high-tech "Turbojet" hovercraft where the interior resembled more of a plane. Unfortunately, in my eagerness I had forgotten to take an ipod or book, so resorted to the reading material on-board, the ferry fact-sheet told me all about these crafts and each vessel had an exciting feline-themed name such as "Foilcat" "Flying Cat" or "Jet Cat" (check the website if you're intrigued!). Arriving back in Hong Kong, it was around 1am by this time and to my dismay, the MTR was no longer running. This led to my second HK taxi trip, where the cheap travelling theme continued (taxis will take you anywhere within 2km for £1.50, after that it's not much more.)
Working Visa in hand, I was now ready to start my working life on Monday. Fresh as ever having watched the World Cup final after my Macau excursion the night prior, I was ready to go. The MTR station is conveniently located directly across the road from my apartment. Not having to worry about train times being a major benefit of course (i.e if you miss one you don't have to wait half an hour). A ten minute journey takes me to my work stop followed by a 10-15 minute walk to my office (of course being Hong Kong, some buildings within this area are linked with an air-conditioned walkway, quite handy). So from my apartment door to my work, I am literally "outside" for around 30 seconds. The humidity here is unreal so I'm quite glad at this! The express lift then takes me to floor 38 (your ears pop on the way up).
Monday and Tuesday basically entailed settling in, getting the basics of what I was going to be doing for eight weeks, learning (refreshing my memory of) the tools of all Microsoft Office applications outside of Word. But I'm looking forward to it, my main task is to compile reports on a month-to-month basis of all expenses within the Asia-Pacific region (Japan, Australia, Singapore..) I'm enjoying the responsibility. The working day is 9-6 which does go in quickly, lunch is at 12 which I'm still getting used to (of course being a student having just normally finished breakfast by then), then your coffee break at 3.
On Wednesday I managed to catch the last race-night of the season. "Happy Valley" is the racing stadium in Hong Kong which is quite surreal being in the middle of the city and holding around 50,000 people. Every vice is covered, with gambling, beer, and... a Mcdonalds. Adam and I elected to take the tram from the apartment. Possibly not the best idea at peak-time, with the both of us being over 6', it was quite comical as we couldn't stand. They're definitely not the most modern transport in Hong Kong, however, at roughly 18p, there's not much too complain about. We met up with Stuart and some other colleagues. Definitely something different seeing horses race around a circuit at 11pm in the kind of environment.
The rest of the week involved a little more exploring and catching-up with the time difference. Douglas, a fellow Saltire intern working in Shenzen (China) for IBM joined us for the weekend which was ideal. The highlight being the short Ferry ride over to Kowloon island (this was an old-fashioned steamboat this time though, not a hover foilcat). It was an opportunity to see Hong Kong island from a whole new perspective, the views of the skyline were quite something. Continuing the theme, the ferry was around 27p each way.
Time for bed now though, back to working life tomorrow... I'll have a lot more to say soon I'm sure.
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