I need a parent ðŸ˜†

I finally started feeling close to normal today, so I got through a ton of stuff, trying to catch up on everything that I didn’t do over the past few days since I’ve been sick 👍

N flew to Japan today, so of course I tracked his flight ✈️

  • His fellow karate mate who is also on this trip with him lost her train ticket when they got to Osaka, and he was asking me how to say various things in Japanese that was relevant to their situation – eg: “she lost her ticket”. The problem is, I’m not there to help them! 😂 So I told them to use Google translate, which is actually quite good for a lot of things. I use it to help me with my Chinese all the time. I don’t use it word for word, but it sometimes guides me or gives me a better idea on how to structure a particular sentence that I can’t seem to get right on my own.
  • And of course they were fine – they’re in Japan, after all 😉

  • I had my online Chinese lesson again today. I’m really enjoying them! They’re freaking hard as, since we spend the entire time doing exactly what I need: speaking and listening practice! And since my listening is so bad, I swear I ask her to repeat every second sentence that she says 😳 I hope it eventually improves, because right now I’m feeling pretty dunce-y! I’ve already told her that my listening is the worst, so she already knows my biggest problem. She’s really patient, though, and rather than resorting to English, she just repeats herself a few times, mega slowly, until I get it. It is exactly what I need 👍 I just wish I had her with me day in day out, correcting everything I say – like a parent! 😆 But alas, as an adult, I don’t have this luxury. I just have to do some more studying on my own….
  • And so I finished the day watching a few episodes of Love O2O, my current Chinese drama, just continuing to persevere with the show for some listening practice, which is what I desperately need for my Chinese!
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    Not quite what we had planned

    We didn’t end up doing much today, as our schedule was pretty much very dependent on Nephew’s schedule. We did go on the HK Observation Wheel, which was pretty cool. It was air conditioned inside the cabins, so that was a welcome relief from the heat. We shared the cabin with two other random people, and once we sat down, the two exclaimed in Chinese how cute Nephew was. That made me feel better that at least they weren’t going to mind having to share a cabin with a toddler for the next 10 odd minutes! 😊

    We then caught the Star Ferry across to Tsim Sha Tsui. We didn’t even get through one statue in the Toy Story 4 display just outside Harbour City before Nephew just lost it. Being in a totally different time zone in very unfamiliar surrounds, in a very hot and humid city, it’s probably a fair enough reaction. So he eventually fell asleep in his dad’s arms as we were walking through Harbour City, and we just went and had a late yum cha lunch while he slept through most of it.

    Everyone was tired after lunch, so we just went back home afterwards so they could get ready for their flight tomorrow morning. We were hoping to go to the ICC Observation Deck, but apparently it was closed for a private event today. Of all days to be closed, it had to be the one day we wanted to go 😒 And we also wanted to go to the Kowloon Walled City Park, but we just didn’t have the energy to do so. Maybe on their return leg 😊

    But at least we got some relatively decent weather during the last two days, even if they have been very hot and everyone was melting! 🥵

    They want to leave the house at 5:30am tomorrow to give themselves plenty of time at the airport, but none of us are morning people… hmmm… 🤔 Good luck with that! 😆

    Macau!

    We did a day trip to Macau today. We started the day off early, leaving the house at around 8am. But 15 minutes into the journey to the ferry terminal, N realises that he forgot his phone 😔 In this day and age, we can’t survive without it, so we made the decision to head back home to collect it, thereby adding an extra 30 minutes onto the first leg.

    Turns out that it wasn’t too much of an issue, as there were plenty of seats available, even on the next ferry that was due to leave. I was a bit worried about this, as it’s a long weekend, and I thought everyone in HK might be wanting to head over to Macau today. Maybe those who did want to head over were already there, because it didn’t seem too busy to me this morning. Or maybe my definition of “busy” has since shifted since moving to HK… 🤔

    For Sydneysiders, and those who have been to Sydney, heading over to Macau is pretty much like heading over to Manly from Circular Quay, just with immigration involved. It’s pretty straightforward. We went from the Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, which has ferries running pretty often to Macau.

    Once we got to Macau, we decided to catch the Grand Lisboa shuttle bus (I think it was green) to Grand Lisboa and then from there; just walk to the must-see tourist destinations for first-time visitors to Macau. All the massive casinos in Macau offer these free shuttle buses to ferry people to and from their casinos, even if you’re not staying there. So we basically got our transportation in Macau covered, since we were just going to tourist spots anyway 👍 We saw Senado Square; Ruins of St Paul’s; The Venetian, one of the massive casinos in Macau; and also accidentally stumbled across The Parisian, another hotel in the area. There are a number of hotels all inter-connected – they must all be owned by one conglomerate – so it was pretty easy to get lost in that giant maze.

    Beautiful weather when we got to Senado Square
    Ruins of St Paul’s
    The Venetian. Reminds me of Marina Bay Sands 😊 (awww… SG…)
    Totally wasn’t expecting to see the Eiffel Tower in Macau! 😆

    Oh, all of these touristy areas that we went to today accept HK dollars, so we didn’t even have to change any of our currency. And bet amounts in the casinos were also all stated in HKD. I was reading that they might give back change in Pataca, the local currency, but we were always given change in HKD. We went to very touristy areas, though, so I guess they’re used to just dealing with HKD, which is obviously fine with us! 😆

    We left The Venetian at around 8pm and caught one of their shuttles back to the ferry terminal. We managed to get on the the 8:45pm ferry back, and it was almost 11pm by the time we got home. So door to door, our commute was still pretty long, despite the actual ferry trip being only just over an hour. So maybe next time we’ll stay the night, so we can actually spend an evening gambling 🎰 or at least just chillaxing, and then just take our time heading back home the following day.

    We’re thinking perhaps heading back for the Macau Grand Prix 😊 Although tickets and hotels might already have been sold/booked out for it… Probably worth checking now while its still a few months away…!

    Macau was fun, and I’d definitely want to go again 😊

    Start of the long weekend

    I got up at 8am this morning, to make sure I was awake for when our home delivery arrived today. Their window was 9am – 2pm, which is a pretty damn huge window! 😂 Luckily they arrived at around 11am, so we didn’t have to wait around for too long.

    We had lunch in Wan Chai at Sabah Malaysian Cuisine, which apparently is in the Michelin Guide! It reminded me so much of SG, where all these types of dishes were just readily available. Awww SG, still missing you 😔 But they’re closing in October, due to their lease expiring, so we’ll have to find out where they end up setting up shop again, for those times when we have a hankering for Malaysian food 😋

    We stopped by the computer centre once again, since we were in the area. It’s almost obligatory to stop by if we’re in Wan Chai 😂 This time N bought some charging cables. I think electronics are his gazingus pins, a term coined by the authors of Your Money or Your Life to describe items that you are just compelled to buy, even if you already have a bajillion other similar items at home. So he always wants to stop by electronics stores and check out whatever gadgets they have there. In SG it was Challenger; here, it’s pretty hard to beat the Wan Chai Computer Centre! 😂

    My gazingus pin is stationery 😊 I love stationery, and I really have to stop myself from buying the stuff. This is one area where I am not an underbuyer! 😂 But I have reined in this buying habit a fair bit now, and I have told myself that I have to use up all the stationery at home first before I can buy any more. I’ve kept it under control so far, as my desire for a less cluttered home is also quite strong. But yeah, stationery is definitely my gazingus pin 😆

    We’re planning on going to Macau tomorrow, I’m very excited! Another new country to visit 😊 Although technically part of China, like HK is, it also falls under the “one country, two systems” policy, so it’s also a “Special Administrative Region”. But I still see it as a country in its own right, despite the technicalities. I’m excited to be doing this day trip! 😊

    Distracted

    If you recall, I mentioned yesterday that each day I was going to pick three areas of my life to focus on. Well I chose them for today, but I didn’t end up focussing too much on the third area. Should that then be recorded as not being a focus area for the day? Do I need to record actual vs expected focus areas?? I feel like I’m being too analytical, as I always tend to be 😂 Nonetheless, I think I will indeed do this – in fact, I already have an idea for my Bullet Journal 👍 Let’s see how it actually works out in reality once June starts… 😊

    I started watching my new Korean drama today, The Heirs. I watched the first episode aaages ago but then got distracted by a few other shows, so I never got back to it. But now that I’ve finished Nice Witch, I can now resume watching this one 😊 It only has twenty episodes, which is a good number. I get put off by longer series at the start, because you know it’s such a huge time commitment. But if it turns out to be good, I want it to go on forever! 😂

    Anyway, there were scenes in the episode today that was filmed in the US. It made me miss Sydney, my home town 😔 As much as I’m enjoying our stint in Asia, it is still very different from what I’m used to, and I haven’t been back home in a long time. Maybe this is a sign telling me that I’m well overdue for a trip back…

    Typhoon season

    I woke up with a bit of a sore throat this morning, and it never got any better as the day went on. I think perhaps the aircon was a bit too cold for me last night 🥶 So I just felt a bit under the weather all day. Hopefully I can shake it off tomorrow…

    The heat and humidity have kicked in now, it seems. It’s starting to feel more like SG, but a little cooler, as technically it is still spring 😄 I have put away all my cold weather clothes, and my summer clothes are now all out and ready to be worn. Yeah! Bring it on!

    The only thing about summer that is freaking me out a bit is this typhoon business in HK. I know the locals are used to it, but I am SO NOT, and just the word itself stresses me out a little. I was here once when they announced a typhoon, and I was also in Taipei once when a typhoon warning was announced there too, and neither of them turned out to be too bad – at least where I was! So hopefully that remains the case… 🤞 I remember shops and hotels in Taipei were taping up their windows the night before the typhoon, laying down sandbags across the bottom of their doors, to minimise any water damage. These guys know how to prepare. They must, as typhoons seem to occur so often in this part of Asia. Hopefully during our time here, nothing major happens…!🤞🤞

    Our first trip to Shenzhen

    This post is about our experience of going to Shenzhen from Hong Kong. Firstly, the two posts from ausbt.com.au that I’ve provided links to in this post were the most helpful for me when preparing for our day trip today. I’ll outline some more things that we encountered today that weren’t mentioned in these two posts, probably because they’ve been more recent changes, but everything else is, by and large, still valid.

    How to travel by train from Hong Kong to Shenzhen

    Firstly, coming from HK, this still seems to be the most common route to take if you need a visa on arrival in Shenzhen. But do note that if you’ve already organised your visa to China beforehand, you can now also catch the high speed rail, which takes something like 15 minutes from West Kowloon station in HK to Futian station in Shenzhen. This is wayyy better than the normal train that supposedly takes 45 minutes or something. But yes, it is also more expensive. But the trains are newer, and you are guaranteed a seat, unlike the regular trains. So it is better to book your tickets for these beforehand, as you may not get a seat otherwise at the time you wish to go.

    How to get a Shenzhen visa on arrival when visiting from Hong Kong

    We went today, the Saturday during the Easter long weekend, and there were a bajillion foreigners at the visa office. The above article said that their wait was something like 10-30 minutes, ours was more like two hours. We got there at around 10am, and we probably left at around 12-12:30pm. It was crazy busy. At one point, there were no seats and people were just standing around inside and outside the office. So if you’re going during a long weekend like we did, I highly recommend that you get there as early as possible, perhaps when the visa office opens!

    The steps they have at the visa office goes something like this:

    1. Take your photo in one of the photo booths
    2. Fill out a visa application form
    3. Take a queue ticket from the ticket machine
    4. Wait for your number to be called

    They now have photo booths just outside the visa office, so the first queue you have to face is this one. But don’t do the steps as they suggest: I suggest first taking a number from the ticket booth, as the ausbt article recommends. You still have to wait, so you may as well cut down that wait time by doing a few other steps beforehand. Do note, though, that they say that if you miss your number, you’ll have to queue up again with a new number, so bear this in mind and assess whether or not this is the right thing for you to do, depending on the number of people ahead of you on the day.

    Also note that the rules change all the time. We ran into a few of N’s workmates at the visa office – it was one big office reunion 😂 One of his colleague’s visa applications was actually rejected, and he had to basically turn around and head back to HK. He was constantly checking to see what the latest rules were with his passport, and he was getting conflicting information, so do bear this in mind too if your passport is from one of these countries where the rules constantly seem to be changing. You do run the risk of not being able to get a visa on arrival, so it may be safer to just apply for your visa beforehand. He knew the risk he was taking, but I was still disappointed for him.

    You can also pay by credit card for your visa. The cost of the visa does vary, but a lot of countries seem to be at the Â¥168 price point. You can pay by credit card (Visa, MasterCard or Amex), as well as by UnionPay or just with cash. I wasn’t expecting to be able to pay by credit card, so that was handy too.

    And then after you get your visa, you head down to immigration. What seems to be new now are the fingerprint machines near the arrival slips. You need to do this first, so you’re in the “system”, I suppose, before you head over to join the immigration queue. Note that the arrival slip and the departure slip are attached, so you can fill both sections out now if you want, to save you time later when you depart. But it’s not necessary, entirely up to you.

    And that’s it! Ordeal over! 🤣

    Shenzhen metro

    This is actually pretty easy to understand, as it is very similar to Hong Kong’s MTR system. You can buy single journey tickets, but we decided to buy the Shenzhen metro card, which is similar to HK’s octopus card, as it’s just so much easier to get around with it. Note, though, that the machine to buy these metro cards are all in Chinese, there is no English option 😱 But we still managed to fumble our way through it (my limited Chinese might have helped!), and we paid the Â¥100 for each of our cards.

    Then we realised that we don’t have any value on them, so we had to go up to the customer service counter to add value on to them. Now this staff member is completely rushed off her feet, fielding numerous questions from random people. This happens all the time in HK too, and it happened a bit in SG, so I’m used to it now: people butt in and ask customer service people questions, even while the staff member is already serving someone else. I used to think this was extremely rude, but over time, I’ve come to realise that it’s just the done thing, and no one pays any attention to it. Staff must just learn to multi-task. It’s insane.

    Each metro station that we went to (all four of them 😂) had a security check area before you enter the paid area of the subway platform, with the conveyor belts and all, like at airports. I wasn’t expecting that at all. It must be a real pain to have to go through that process during rush hour on a weekday – for all parties involved!

    General comments

    We didn’t explore much of Shenzhen today, unfortunately, as the rain was torrential. We only got to go to Leyuan Road and KK Mall. But from this limited experience, we came across very little English. It’s tough going, but for a day trip, you put it down to the adventure of being in a foreign land 😆

    I was also warned that Google Maps won’t work in China (and anything Google or Facebook related). Well it still did work for me, but my location wasn’t as accurate as it normally would be, even in densely populated HK. People have suggested this map app instead, but it’s all in Chinese, so it’s much harder to use.

    Overall, I think we sorted out the practical stuff today, which was really the main objective of the trip, as we knew the rain would probably make it hard for us to do much else. But we didn’t expect it to be so torrential! Despite not doing much touristy stuff, though, I still think we had a successful day 👍 I’d like to go back again and do the touristy things that we didn’t get to do today because of the rain. Maybe we’ll apply for a visa beforehand next time 😄