Life is happening quickly these first days (likely even weeks), and I barely get moments to post (or I’ll try to post something quickly and go back to edit incorrect details, and add links/pics — so be sure to check back frequently). Fortunately I have jetlag to wake me up early enough to prod me to posting:
My first weekend in Hong Kong, and it was a doozy! Avi invited me to join him and his friends to see comedian Tom Cotter at Take Out Comedy, Asia’s first full-time comedy club, which only opened in Feb. 2007 (do Asians not like comedy?)! There was an opener, Mary Ho, a Vietnamese-American expat, whose day job appears to be in finance. She was actually quite good, and Tom Cotter was also funny (although, with no other acts, it felt rather long to me, where I’m used to seeing 4-5 comedians in one evening at the Comedy Cellar in NYC).
Afterwards, we headed to this guy Billy’s birthday party, held at a place aptly called “The Melting Pot.” It was fancy dress, otherwise known as costume party in American, and there was complimentary champagne for a while. Two bands played, including one made up of a bunch of finance guys. Finance, as you can see, is the predominant area of work for most expats. There are also teachers and lawyers, but I suppose because I’ve been meeting people through Avi, I keep meeting other finance people.
I met expats who arrived weeks ago to years ago. I was properly advised that people would be incredibly friendly and open, especially since expats will come to HK with an undertanding that they will only stay temporarily (even if some end up staying for the rest of their lives), and will try to make the most of their time.
There is certainly no shortage of people to talk to, and you never know who you will meet. I even met this fellow who was the inter-fraternity club president at my college, and graduated the same year as me. Plus, he happens to live in Avi’s building! Wild!!
Making friends is easy, and I feel no qualms about giving my number to or making plans with perfect strangers.
After the birthday party, we stepped outside to grab a few bowls of noodles and wontons at this outdoor stall. When the bill came up $48 HK, the guys accompanying me were surprised — I guess they are not used to more “normal” HK prices when you speak Cantonese. Seems these guys typically dare not to eat at outdoor stalls with no English signage?
Next stop, a club called the M1NT. All these clubs and bars, by the way, are all about the Mid-Levels throughout SoHo (South of Hollywood Rd.), and around the famous Lan Kwai Fong area (the major road for all the bars and clubs), so stumble up or down a hill and you will find yourself at a new venue to party. The place is bustling like no other places I’ve ever been (not New York, not even Vegas).
We danced to American pop and had a generally swell time. I think the crowd may have been somewhat mixed between locals and expats. I noticed a hen night (a/k/a bachelorette party) of all Asian girls, and the bride was incredibly conservative. She was wearing a candy bra but refused to let anyone bite a candy off from the cups — to which I wonder, what is the point in wearing this thing?! I dared one of my new friends to get a piece of the bra cup, but his request was sorely rejected.
The DJ here kept mashing up the music oddly, so two of my new friends and I headed for a place called Beijing Club. Up an elevator we found an incredible venue filled with people. There’s also a rooftop. This club is popular with the locals, and indeed there were few gweilo, with the exception of us! Music was still American, but it was a good time.
I wish I could report on the costs of this night more, but I was graciously treated to all my beverages by these, yes, finance guys. My understanding, however, is that drinking is just as costly as it is in NYC, so approximately $5-6 for a beer, and anywhere from $6 and more for cocktails.
By the time I got home, it was daylight — talk about a new experience, stumbling UPHILL after a night of partying! I got a few hours of shuteye and then decided to do something touristy, as I pretty much decided on housing by then (a future post) and wouldn’t need to belabor over that chore.
So off I headed for the Peak! I took the tram, which is something like 100 years old, up the steep mountain(my ears popped a few times!) and up through the main building there (which houses what else — a mall (malls are omnipresent in HK)), I paid a little extra to get up on the Sky Terrace observation deck. The views were incredible and reminded me of being up at Sugarloaf or Christ the Redeemer in Rio. There are few giant cities with mountains and seasides like this, and I just thought to myself – wow, I have arrived! But I still exist somewhere between a tourist and a resident at this time, and it’s hard to feel one way or the other just yet.
I took the No. 15 double decker bus down, which was quite the experience as it winds through narrow roadways, driving on the left (another gift of the Brits). I make it all the way back down to the Admiralty MTR stop, which is one stop from Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui (a/k/a TST), where I meet a classmate and his cousin and her friends.
TST is no less action-packed than any part of the Island, and the bright lights here definitely make me think of Times Square in NY, but unlike the Times Square in HK over at Causeway Bay, it is way less crowded. Plus, the views of the Island are absolutely amazing, particularly by nightfall. I have to come back to take some more photos.
Afterwards we headed to the Performing Arts Centre to see a play — a play entirely in Cantonese! The tickets were 100 HKD with a discount, since one of the actresses was a friend. I was pleasantly surprised by it all. The performance space was beautiful. The Centre houses more than one theatre and is as grandiose and opulent as the Met in NYC. The theater that the play was taking place was intimate and had excellent acoustics.
I amazingly managed to understand quite a lot of it, according to one of the cousin’s friends, who was English educated. It was a complicated plot about a party where several of the guests are mysteriously murdered. I actually enjoyed it quite a lot and thought the acting was excellent. I even chuckled at some jokes, but did miss a lot of them while the rest of the audience was roaring. I also found I missed a couple of complicated details, but overall, I was happy with myself.
At one point during the play I was just in awe — here I am, in a whole new country, experiencing life in a new language and in a new way. I am so ready for this change!!
I wonder how my next play will be like…
I started to feel the jetlag punch me in the gut around 9pm, and struggled to stay awake through the end. I wanted to know the ultimate killer! I made it, and afterwards we took pictures with some of the actors. The play was on for a very limited engagement of 3 nights, and I wonder if that’s normal. I got on the MTR and found myself back up the mountain by 11p and ready for bed.
After this first amazing weekend I really began to believe I could do this. I quickly saw how much of a social person I really am, and that I just need human interaction to feel complete. In HK, there is no shortage of that in an entirely too congested place with a population of over 7 million.
Next weekend promises even more, as I’ve been invited to my first junk boat party!