Our first night in HK

We took our time checking out of the SG hotel this morning. We had to pack and weigh our luggage again, as some people gave us a farewell gift at dinner last night. We were 10kg over πŸ˜” So we had to leave some stuff in the room and just left a note saying that Housekeeping could take anything if they wanted it. We also had to leave some space for an extra 3kg gift that a friend wanted us to carry for another mutual friend in HK, which didn’t help matters. But we’d already agreed to bring it over for him, so we made room! 😊

We somehow managed to get it down to just 1kg over, and the guy at the check-in counter just turned a blind eye to it πŸ˜… Luckyyy!

It was hard going travelling with two check-in suitcases and two carry ons each. I don’t know how people do it! We decided to drop off all the luggage at the new place, and then walk down to the serviced apartment that we have booked for the next four weeks. So now instead of being in limbo between two cities, I am in limbo between two apartments πŸ˜‚ Obviously this current situation is much easier to manage! We plan on staying in the serviced apartment while we don’t have any furniture in our actual apartment, and to continue to clean it up in the meantime. I want to spend as much time in there over the next few days so it has a bit more of our scent in there for when Kitty arrives on Wednesday. She’s going to be completely terrified as it is, so I want her to be as comfortable as she can be in the new apartment, under the circumstances. She has to sleep there overnight too, without us, which isn’t ideal. So I want to make sure I spend as much time as I can with her during the day before we leave her there overnight.

We just need to get through the next few weeks, and then hopefully we’ll all be settled in before we know it!

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Unnecessary stress

We went to go withdraw some cash at the bank in order to pay for our deposit tomorrow when we get the keys to the apartment. Obviously not wanting to walk around with a few grand on us, we dropped off the cash in the safe in the hotel, and went to go find somewhere to eat brunch. While we were at brunch, the agent called me. We normally just message one another in a group chat, but now she’s calling. Greeeat. I figured another problem has arisen.

Apparently she called the landlord to confirm the handover tomorrow, and that we are all set with our cash deposit. His response: “great, just make sure it is in my bank account by tomorrow”. The agent called me to relay her conversation with him at 12:20pm, and the landlord’s bank closes at 1pm. And we had just ordered our brunch. OMFG. So needless to say, we were not at all impressed with his insistence about having it hit his account. Seriously, we have just signed the lease, we have no incentive NOT to pay you the deposit. Unless he just didn’t trust his wife or the agent to receive the cash on his behalf, I have no idea why he was being so difficult. Sighhh πŸ˜”

Luckily we decided to have brunch near the hotel, so N quickly ran back to pick up the cash, and then ran down to the landlord’s bank and deposited the cash – at 12:45pm. He made it with 15mins to spare, phewww πŸ˜… He was pouring with sweat from all the running – and remember that HK is very hilly, which made it doubly worse – just as he was about to deposit a huge sum of cash at a bank! He must’ve looked a bit dodgy to the teller! 🀣

The landlord also sent back a copy of the signed tenancy agreement on his side, to acknowledge his acceptance as well. The original will be sent to his solicitor on Monday, and they will arrange to deliver it to him via post back to SG. He and his witness will sign, and they will send it back to HK for some official stamping, and hopefully that will be it! The true finish line is oh so close now 🏁 Ahhh… I cannot wait for this ordeal to be over! πŸ˜‚

His wife was also quite apologetic with the whole deposit debacle, so I’m hoping that they’ll be more reasonable going forward, especially once they realise that we’re actually pretty good tenants πŸ˜‡

N made his way back to the cafe and finished off his brunch, and then we made our way to IKEA to get some ideas for new furniture, as we need a new dining table and a study desk for me, since we got rid of both in SG as they didn’t really work for us. We’ll wait until our existing furniture arrives in the new apartment before actually buying anything, so we can better assess the space and decide what would suit it when all the other furniture is already there.

We then caught a bus back to the hotel afterwards – and when it arrived, we soon realise that it’s one of the minibuses! 😱They’re still rather stressful for me, as I don’t quite know what you’re supposed to yell out to the driver when you want to get off. That’s how you get off, by yelling something to the driver! I just don’t quite know what, as it’s always in Chinese – more specifically, in Cantonese. But today, someone yelled out in English “No 1, thanks!”, so I guess you go by the building number that you want to get off at. But I don’t know the building number at my stop! πŸ˜‚ Also, there are designated bus stops for the green minibuses, but drivers still stop wherever they want, which is what happened today at “No.1”, as I’m pretty sure the building at No.1 isn’t an actual stop…! 😳 So this non-standard way of taking public transport is still a bit challenging for me… Hopefully over time I’ll be more comfortable with it, as these minibuses are actually quite convenient and service our new neighbourhood reasonably well.

I also bought a new carrier for Kitty online. Her current one is CLEAR, which isn’t going to do the job well of sneaking her in and out of the apartment building πŸ˜‚ We were also thinking about the no pets policy, and that maybe it’s there to just make people much more conscious of their pets and to make sure they are well behaved, so as to not cause disturbance to other residents, given the close proximity of everyone in this very densely packed city. And to keep them in a carrier bag so that residents who are more fearful of them do not have to steer clear of the pets in the lifts and other public areas within the apartment building. But we’re still just hypothesising. I still have to get the true story! Hopefully when we’re in the building tomorrow, we’ll get a better idea.

So just one more day before we get the keys! πŸ˜±πŸ”‘ After this past week, I’m going to be sooo glad for these damn keys! I feel like we unnecessarily worked hard for them. It better have been worth it!

The moving saga continues

The day began on shaky ground. The floor varnisher guy came back to me this morning – in Chinese. So then I frantically looked for someone to help me communicate with him 😩 Our SG agent helped us out, thankfully. I showed her the messages that I sent to him in Chinese, and she said that my Chinese is actually pretty good already. That was very nice of her to say, and made me feel more motivated to continue learning – after we get through this crazy moving period, that is! πŸ˜†

We had to shift things around, since the varnishing and polishing will apparently be quite dusty, so we had to move the cleaner to come after the floors are polished. Luckily the cleaners were ok to move the date, phewww πŸ˜…

And then it was the HK agent’s turn to message. She had the draft tenancy agreement, in full-on legalese, ughhh. Our SG lease contract was sooo much easier to read. There are a few unusual clauses, one of which is the responsibility of replacing doors and windows is on us. Not sure why these fixtures are specifically “ours”, so we’d like to ask the agent about this. But apart from this, and after reading through the 17-page contract a few times – because I’m not very fluent in legalese – it seems more or less reasonable. In contrast, the contract for our SG apartment was 7 pages and was written in normal people speak πŸ˜’

And then when I got to Changi Airport, I couldn’t use the local residents electronic gates anymore πŸ˜” That was really sad. Changi will no longer be my home base airport. And if you’ve been reading my blog for long enough, you would know that I LOVE Changi!! But that chapter has now come to an end, and now it is all about HK Airport… πŸ˜’ hehehe

But one thing that HK Airport has over Changi is its airport express. Less than half an hour on the train straight into town for HK$110 (S$20). And the fact that you can check your luggage in in town at any time during the day of your departure, and not have to lug your luggage around while you wait for your flight. That’s pretty damn awesome πŸ‘

N met me at HK station and we caught a cab back to the hotel from there. He hadn’t eaten dinner yet so we walked over to Pizza Hut, which was the only food place nearby that was still open. It was a 15min wait for his pizza, so we decided to walk over to our new apartment building to see what it’s like over there at 10pm in the evening. It’s actually quiet as! You wouldn’t even think you were in HK! So that was a pleasant surprise. I’ll walk over there again tomorrow and do a stakeout with a cup of coffee in hand, checking to see if people actually do walk in and out with their dogs! I have to get the lowdown on the pet issue at this building πŸ˜† Not that we’re expecting any issues with Kitty, but I’d still like to know what the true story is, despite the official line, and understand what is actually accepted on a practical level.

So after the stress of yesterday, things were more positive today, thankfully! πŸ˜…

Welcome to HK!

I took Kitty to the vet this morning. It takes two of us to give Kitty her fluids, and with N in HK, we’re down on staff πŸ˜‚ So it’s easier to take Kitty to the vet than have to try and do the process all on my own. I’m going to miss all the staff at the vet. They’re all really nice and helpful, and they’re so good with animals. I love going there and seeing all their resident pets. I enjoy visiting there much more than Kitty does, that’s for sure! πŸ˜†

So I made it to my flight. It’s always such a hectic rush to get to the airport that I am still always so amazed when I make it to the airport on time πŸ˜‚ I had a crap seat, and I couldn’t even change it when I got to the airport because the flight was fully booked, and all the seats were taken! 😲 But it was on a newer plane, if that’s any consolation. My three flights to HK this month is actually at the same time, so it’s the exact same flight, just on different days. So hopefully they use this same plane each time 😊

I’ve really enjoyed Cathay’s food the last few times I’ve flown with them. I think it’s the highlight of their flights. The seats feel narrower than Singapore Airlines, though, and that’s saying something for someone as tiny as me! One (only?!) good thing about being small is being able to comfortably fit in Economy seats πŸ˜‚ But today I wasn’t all that comfortable, for some reason. I kept fidgeting, and never truly got comfortable. I didn’t even watch a movie, I was just feeling very antsy for most of the flight πŸ˜’

Maybe it’s all the stress of moving at the moment. I’m also trying to juggle all these property agents, trying to remember who I’m meeting with and what apartments we are viewing. I’ve put the appointments down in my calendar, but they message me throughout the day and each time, I have to figure out who I’m talking to and what properties they’re managing! πŸ˜‚ The other problem with HK (and SG) is that numerous agents manage the same property, and so the same photos keep coming up online. So one of my concerns is that I see the same unit multiple times with different agents. I don’t like playing them off each other either, that’s not how I roll. But they each have different units, so you also just can’t liaise with just the one agent, otherwise you’ll miss out on some properties. But then I feel bad for one agent because you may end up going for a different property with another agent (hence giving them the commission), despite that first agent spending hours upon hours researching a good place for you, with no compensation for their work. Sighhh… It’s not my ideal way to do business πŸ˜” Like I keep saying, it’s a tough gig…

When I got to HK Airport, I lined up in the “HK Permanent Residents / HK Residents” queue, and my visa was activated there. And then tomorrow we have an appointment to get our HK ID cards. Wow, I still can’t believe it’s all happening! I think once we sign a lease and actually move in, that’s when it will probably really sink in for me. But right now, I’m still in denial! πŸ˜‚

And so I made it safely to our new city. I write this as I sit on the floor in our tiny little hotel room that barely fits a double bed, eating my dinner. Welcome to HK! πŸ˜‚

More welcome distractions

We flew out of Manila today. But of course we got another round in of local food before we left πŸ˜‚ I’ll write up a review or two shortly in my food blog of some of the places we went to during this short trip.

I got into my head again on the flight. I know what it is that I do: I have no wifi, stuck in this tiny seat up 10 bajillion miles in the air, and sometimes I’m in no mood to watch anything on their entertainment system, so I just listen to music. And then the music somehow starts turning into background noise while I let my mind run loose, contemplating everything from family to our upcoming move to HK to the meaning of life and my role in it. I didn’t get too caught up in my thoughts this trip, at least not as much as I usually do πŸ˜† I was listening to a few songs that we could dance to, so I just ran through a few of our routines in my mind. That was a welcome distraction! πŸ˜‚ And then for some unknown reason, someone sitting near me on the flight piled on his aftershave mid-flight, so the occasional whiff wafting by my seat also randomly jolted me out of any reverie that I could have been in during the flight πŸ˜‚

But now we’re back to reality, and along with it, my apprehension about this upcoming move to HK. I’m trying to change my nervousness to excitement, as the experts say that physiologically your body’s reaction is exactly the same whether you’re scared or excited, and that it’s just what’s playing in your mind that is different. So I’m VERY EXCITED about this move to HK!! πŸ˜‚ SOOO EXCITED!! BRING IT ON!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Wedding Day

It was the day of the wedding that we’d been invited to, the primary reason for our flight to Manila. They had their ceremony in a church, and then the reception was just under 4km away. But with the Manila traffic, this still took at least 15-20mins, can you believe it?? 😲

They had this band Rivermaya play at the reception, and virtually everyone knew the songs that they were playing. I asked one of the guys on our table if this band was famous, and he replied with “SUPER famous!” 🀣 He seemed incredulous that we didn’t know who these guys were πŸ˜‚ I suspect we were the only people in the room who didn’t know this band. They were actually pretty good – well obviously, since the whole room was singing to their songs! So I have to go and listen to a few of them now 😊

And then soon after this band finished their last song, people started heading home. It was actually relatively early (around 10pm), so I was surprised that the wedding was wrapping up already. Chinese weddings seem to finish relatively early too. Maybe it’s just the western weddings that go on and on… πŸ˜†

And then in the Grab on the way back to our hotel, there was a cushion thing on the back of my seat. It was SO comfortable, I couldn’t believe how comfy it was. I was almost falling asleep in the car, which rarely happens! And we got such a good run back to the hotel too: half an hour to travel 14km. I now understand why the time taken to travel around Manila is such a big discussion point with the locals! πŸ˜†

Grabbing our way around Manila

We woke up really late, and by the time we ventured out of the hotel, it was already close to 12 noon πŸ˜‚ Wayyy past the breakfast window at the hotel. So we had to go outside to look for my western breakfast 😊 Luckily I found it πŸ‘

On our way to the cafe, there was this cute little girl walking around clumsily on her own, and I figured her mum or dad was around somewhere just out of sight, perhaps around the corner. We then turned the corner and saw her mum. And their home. Which was basically the footpath. It then explained why she was walking around in just her underwear and with no shoes. F me, that was so heartbreaking πŸ˜” That’s one thing that I can’t handle about South East Asia: seeing the abject poverty. It’s really hard to see people living in such squalid conditions 😞

Having Uber/Grab in Manila makes getting around sooo much easier, especially for tourists who don’t know their way around. So today we got to go to Makati, Pasig and back to Malate where we’re staying. The distance between each of these areas isn’t too far, roughly around 10km, but the traffic is so bad that it could take over an hour to go that distance 😲 Crazy stuff. I couldn’t go by the Google Maps estimates, as they severely underestimated the impact of traffic πŸ˜‚

So in order to get to the wedding on time tomorrow, we’re going to have to at least double the Google Maps time! 😲