Hugo and I went exploring our new neighbourhood. He went swimming in Stanley Bay which connects the the South China Sea. He braved the treacherous seas and went swimming all the way out to the marker buoy. Then, buoyed by his success, he swam out to the pontoon where he talked to the locals.
I don't need a car. The buses leave every 10 minutes and cost about two dollars AU for a trip into the city. The trains are long and leave so often that there is no timetable. There will be a train within the next five minutes regardless of what line or the time of day.
This is what it is like catching a train -
Hong Kong never stops - I mentioned that it was like the showbag pavilion at the Ekka - it is like that all the time. Shop keepers don't seem to understand that they scare westerners away - they come out of their shops if I show the slightest bit of interest in their wares. They will speak very fast and demonstrate everything. Haggling is nonsense - I don't do it and others have found that it does not work for them either. The shop keepers simply say "fixed price". There is a false rumor that people can bargain and start haggling at about half the advertised price - it doesn't work. I have found that the local shopkeepers will give me 15% off just for speaking the language. The guy at the computer shop gave me a wireless keyboard for free.
The kids are getting used to school, everyday Rachel Ruby has a story on how she has had to explain an Australian word to her American friends. "A popper? Whats a popper?" Australians hear a new strange phrase from our allies in the coalition in the war against terror and we generally think about for a few seconds and then incorporate the new phrase into our language. Australians instinctively know how to "up-size" an order and how to "increase our bandwidth" when having a conversation with an American.
Hugo is learning to speak Mandarin and can introduce himself. We tend to practice our language skills on the doorman. He is a friendly bloke, but he is realising that I can't understand what he saying. The conversations are getting shorter. Speaking the language has not been a real problem because the good people of Hong Kong speak English better than I can speak Cantonese. The kids say that I should be a Chinese comedian because when I speak to the locals they start laughing.
The weather is like Cairns or Rockhampton.
Taxis drive like they are coming second at Mount Panorama.
Things that are different:
Every night in Hong Kong is bin night.
The cyclones are called hurricanes - but they look the same.
The city smells like fried batter.
There are always crowds of people in the city. Day or night.
High rise buildings have the same dimensions as a credit card.
Traffic, as congested as it is, travels at forty kilometers an hour, I am getting used to it and now 45 km/h seems fast.
There are trams, double decker trams.
A bill or a letter is always printed on both sides - in English and Cantonese.
The shops are full - there is a great hardware shop in Stanley that is like a blokes shed. There is almost enough room to turn around.
The shopping trolleys are small - which is just as well because I have to carry it all home. They do deliver, but I am too polite to ask them to carry my shopping to the end of the street.