So, here we are. Three months in Hong Kong- People’s Republic of China. Although it’s not really China. It is, but it isn’t. It’s a long story. Google it. Just thinking about trying to explain Hong Kong makes my brain hurt. I’ve rewritten this several times. There’s so much to tell. Where do I start? The skyscrapers, the beaches, the wet markets, the islands, the street vendors… my brain hurts again. The best way I can explain how Hong Kong is different is to explain what our normal day is like. I’ll start at the beginning…
6:15-6:45 The kids dress in their school uniforms. We did not wear uniforms in the states and I am really kinda digging it. It eliminates dreaded morning clothes wars. The children eat their breakfast quickly and head out the door for school. Not that much different.
6:45-7:00 Daddy drives them to the bus stop. No, we are not being overly protective. The bus stop is far away and they’d have to cross two busy streets. They wait at a public bus stop where a private school bus picks them up and takes them to school because there aren’t public school buses here.
** Oh, and about that driving thing. They drive on the wrong side of the road. Part of that former British colony history stuff. My hubby drives on the wrong side like he’s been doing it his whole life. I, on the other hand, drive like a white-knuckled 16-year-old who just got her license yesterday. Sometimes I just cheat and take a taxi. Luckily, they’re pretty cheap here.
7:00 After the children and hubby are gone for the day, I get cleaned up and wash the breakfast dishes. That’s right, I wash them. Dishwashers are practically nonexistent here. If you are wondering about the weather here, it’s pretty much 80 something every day. The humidity and wind changes daily. Ninety percent humidity can make that 80 degrees feel like 100.
8:00 More washing – this time clothes. You know those mega clothes washers in the states that you could fit like 10 pairs of jeans into? Well, try only putting like a third of that in at a time. It takes forever… I usually try to check my emails and social media stuff early in the morning, because Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of east coast time. And now add an hour, 13, because Hong Kong does not observe daylight savings time.
9:00 If I’m going to run into town to do errands, I leave pretty early. I usually catch a bus to get into town. The buses are very clean and cheap. In Hong Kong, most malls are attached to the subway or MTR. Many people do not have cars so this is their only way to get to the stores. There are no big box stores (Target- I weep for you).
10:00 It’s late morning; I hear my morning newspaper hit the front door, because this is when most Hong Kongers start their day. Really. But they will stay at work long into the night, so it all works out.
11:00 The roar of the trash truck can be heard every day right about now. They are very clean around here. Probably due to a small thing called SARS and/or bird flu.
Noon At some point, I’ll hear the mailman at my door. We do not have a mailbox. (Pretty sure it would just rust out in this humidity anyhow.) The mailman just sticks my mail rolled up into my door handle. Interesting, that in a country of seven million people the mail service does not use zip codes. And I’ve seen my address written a hundred different ways and it always arrives.
1:00 Just now midnight on the U.S. east coast. You would be amazed how quiet Facebook and Twitter become at this hour. I get a lot done. The only Americans I talk to at this time of night are new mommies and my cousin who works the graveyard shift at the hospital.
2:00 Once a week a couple of neighborhood ladies get together and play Rummikub. Have you heard about this game? I had never heard about Rummikub until I moved to Hong Kong. It reminds me of gin rummy and scrabble. It really makes one think. Hope it decreases my ‘momnesia.’
3:00 Just like in the states, this last hour or so before the kids come home is when I get the most done during the day. Or am I the only one who runs around like crazy right before they come home?
4:00-6:00 Pretty much the same as all school children: snack, playtime and homework. We just add Chinese/Mandarin to the list. One big difference is here in Hong Kong you probably don’t go to school with your neighbors. The British children attend the British school. Our children go to the American/Canadian school. And so on…
6:00 – 9:00 Is pretty much the same as home, dinner. bath. bed. Sometimes we call grandmas and grandpas to wish them good morning.
9:00 – 10:30 Me and the hubby finally sit down together and discuss the day. We fill each other in on any news/gossip we have heard from the states. Oh, and I pack the kids lunches and snacks. Because all you know what will break loose if I forget Stella’s seaweed snack. Yes, seaweed snack. And both kids are addicted to Pretz. Have you ever heard of them? I think they are Japanese. Just long stick snacks- kinda like a pretzel and breadstick combo.
10:30 In the states, I used to fall asleep watching Jimmy Fallon. Obviously, that’s not still happening. Now I’m just so mentally exhausted from all the mind-bending adventures, I just fall over. I have several books about Hong Kong I want to read, but I keep falling asleep. The books just can’t comapre to the living it.
There’s so much more, but really I can only wrap my brain around so much at a time. So, next time I’ll explain wet markets…
p.s. I really tried to work the words ‘hong kong phooey’ into this post, but I just could not do it…
This post was written by Christine Navin. Contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org
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