It is hard to believe that it has been three weeks since I last posted. The time has gone very fast and has been very busy. Most importantly, we have survived the first week of school. We have managed to keep a balance, although at times it has been hard. The working days are longer than we are used to and when everything is new, it is harder. Hong Kong has a macho approach to working hard and playing hard which is at odds with my own lifestyle. I am trying to pace myself and not be too influenced by those around me. At school, we are role models for the kids and too many young people here (and adults) commit suicide because of the pressure they are under. In my first two weeks I have tried to place a greater emphasis on well being when speaking with staff and parents. This is something I plan to develop more. My impression is that the people who make a success of Hong Kong long term, are those who make the most of the amazing outdoor opportunities.
During the induction with new staff, we went on a the ferry to Lamma Island for an evening of seafood (also tofu and pak choi) and beer. It was great to get away from the skyscrapers and be in a completely different environment for a couple of hours.
Having said that, we are very lucky at Canadian International School to have an amazing location with views of Aberdeen harbour.
We also have a “green roof” which is a roof garden where we can go to relax, when the weather is cool enough.
People like to keep fit here and the school has a great gym, which can be used by the staff before and after school. We also have a huge health club in the building where we live, with membership included in the price. There is a 25m pool, massive gym, workout classes and a huge badminton hall. There is a also a spa where we are going today for an aromatherapy massage. We haven’t actually used the gym yet but yoga in our 20th floor apartment is interesting
One thing that has surprised me is how far you walk every day in Hong Kong. My school has 14 floors and there are a lot of stairs.
Using public transport means you walk miles each day, hopping on and off the underground MTR, buses, ferries and trams.
My daily step count has easily doubled since I arrived. Dave loves using the ferry to get home from school. Even though it takes an hour, he uses this as an opportunity to decompress and so far he is arriving home cheerful every day.
Although work is very busy, we are finding enough energy to have some fun. We have found a few nice restaurants near where we live and sometimes meet after school for a cold beer and dinner or tapas.
We have also been house hunting. We are looking at an area in the New Territories called Sai Kung. This is a long commute for me (35-45 minutes each way) but you can see the attraction from the pictures below.
We think we have secured a house for a move on 1st October but I will tell you more when we are certain. We have decided to stay in our serviced apartment till October because we don’t want to be under too much pressure. We like it here in town and everything is convenient but we should be ready to move in a few weeks and exchange convenience for a healthier environment.
We have been eating well. Food here is pretty good for vegans. Many restaurants have dishes on the menu for us and there are a lot of vegan restaurants, both traditional Chinese style and modern, although the modern ones are about 20 minutes on the MTR from where we are living. Thai and Indian restaurants are plentiful. Eating out is pretty expensive though and you get used to paying 5-7 quid for a beer and 15 quid for a main course. However, the salary does match the prices so it all works out OK but it must seem very expensive to tourists.
In the supermarket, it is easy to get the food we like to eat. There is a massive range of tofu, fresh noodles and veg, including more types of mushroom than I have ever seen.
Veg goes off fast though, as it all has to be imported, so you have to shop frequently. We also have M and S food hall for buying hummus and fresh baked breads. Even on the hardest days, we come home and cook a proper meal from fresh ingredients in our tiny kitchen. This helps to keep us sane. I am looking forward to moving into a house and getting my blender and food processor out and having a big cook up.