If you come from the U.S., working in Hong Kong can take some adjusting insofar as getting PAID goes. First off — your taxes are not taken out directly from your paycheck, so even though the basically flat tax is quite low here, handing over your 15% at once might be a bit traumatizing for the typical American.
Second, it seems that it is quite customary to be paid just once a month! That may mean a hefty clink in the bank that one day a month, but it’s just one day! I loved watching my bank account grow twice a month (heck, sometimes three!). I suppose it’s not that big of a deal, but it definitely is making me feel particularly antsy as I wait and wait… and wait for that first paycheck after not being paid for a few weeks during my in-between-jobs vacation.
My new job has opened up a whole new Hong Kong experience for me, it being at a firm that has been in Hong Kong for a few decades now. It is a bit old fashioned, but in many of the good ways, and one of those ways is that the firm employs a tea lady!
I’d heard just mentioned of a mystical tea lady in the past, but never really grasped at what the tea lady did. Now I can tell you from personal experience – the tea lady is a (hopefully nice) lady who comes around, often pushing a cart, with everyone’s drinks in their own personal mugs, just to their liking, about 3-4 times a day. She will figure out your tastes, what you like to drink and when, and keep you hydrated all day long.
My tea lady brings me a glass of water along with my morning coffee (just milk, no sugar) first, then replenishes my water and brings me a half cup more of coffee, then comes twice more in the afternoon with water and tea. I hear that our particular tea lady also can make HK cha chaan tang style milk tea, mochacchinos, and all sorts of amazing creations out of her little pantry.
When I told a long-time ex-pat lawyer friend of mine about my tea lady, she remarked how old school that was and how few law firms now had tea ladies. I did a quick google search on “hong kong tea lady” and was able to find a number of job advertisements looking for tea ladies, but I wonder what types of companies still employ them. I also saw a rather nasty blog post about someone who hated her tea lady as well as another commending another. Based on that search, it didn’t seem that tea ladies were really a thing of the past, though they certainly seem to be unique to Hong Kong.
Every office should have a tea lady! She will keep you caffeinated and hydrated all day long.
It’s been a crazy September, what with leaving my old firm / first job in Hong Kong, taking an extended leave in New York, and then a crazy October as I begin my new job! I am barely able to catch my breath, as I’d been immediately thrown into work and inundated with tons of administrative work on top of that! But the whole experience has so far been incredibly refreshing, interesting, and at times, somewhat stressful, especially with jetlag on top of all that!
I promise to try to write soon, so please stay tuned!