Tuesday, January 25, 2011

你好 - Ni hao

As many of you know, Pony and Trap HQ has moved from Manhattan to Hong Kong. I would like to thank my employer for inviting me to come here, my dear friends Shanta and Beth for packing me to get here, and Cathay Pacific for getting me here safely and quite comfortably. I would like to condemn the weather application on my iPhone. Simply put, it sucks! Prior to leaving New York, it informed me that it would be 70°F in Hong Kong. It is more like 30°F. I am freezing. I have already bought a space heater and a cheap red coat, complete with a fake fur hood. If this weather continues, I will have packed all the wrong clothes. Well, Shanta and Beth will have packed all the wrong clothes.

Anyway, back to my move… The flight over was a cinch. I was out cold almost the entire way. I am a tad bit disappointed; I missed the three meals that were served. Apparently, I was so dead-to-the-world that the gentleman across the aisle checked whether I was breathing one or twice.

A few days before arriving in Hong Kong, I learned that my apartment was not ready for me yet. I am in a temporary apartment for the next two weeks. When I first arrived I was upset, as the temporary apartment did not have hot water. After a few emails and a call to my global mobility caseworker, I was quickly upgraded to a larger, nicer apartment on the 22nd floor, with lots of hot water.

Similarly, my visa was not ready when I arrived. I received it the day after I arrived (Saturday) and was told that I had to leave Hong Kong the next day to get it validated. So off to Macau I went for the day.

It is about an hour by high-speed ferry to Macau, which is the only place in China where casinos are legal. It is often called the Vegas of Asia. I found it much more charming than Vegas, with its colonial Portuguese influence still very apparent. I met two ladies at the ferry port who were going to Macau for the same reason, so I toured the island and had a Portuguese lunch with them.

Apart from the cold weather, Hong Kong is to my likening. I am only six days in and have spent four of those days working. I was a bit disappointed that I started work on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as this would normally be a day off, but then I learned that I would have two days off for the Chinese New Year this month.

I hope to explore more this weekend, buy some warm clothes and attempt to get a local personal cell phone. Also, we are having a potluck lunch celebration for the Chinese New Year at work on Monday. I have to bring something. Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Wedding, a Birthday and a Snowstorm

December was a busy month! I went to Chicago for my cousin's wedding. I went to Michigan and got stuck. I packed to move to Hong Kong. And I celebrated a birthday!
First and foremost, best wishes and congratulations to Olivia and Tim. Your wedding weekend was a blast! Manicures, hot totties, shopping, dancing, a nice hotel and a hospitality suite with fiber bars? What more could one want from a wedding weekend? I am still trying to decide who gets the Dancing MVP Award: Elliott Berry or Matt Berry. Also, who throws a better brunch: Harold and Barbara or Jeremy? Berry family, what are your thoughts?

A few days after the wedding, I was on a plane again flying to Michigan. As usual, we had a great holiday complete with the Marinaros' homemade ravioli. Easily the best meal of the year! Michigan was wonderful. There were presents, movies, good food, and family and friends… and all of it lasted three days longer than planned.

On the afternoon of December 26, Delta called and told me that, due to a snowstorm, my flight for next day was canceled. Delta was happy to rebook me to New York via Minneapolis on January 2. They said that if I wanted to try to fly out earlier, I would have to call back once the snow stopped. All day on the 27th, I furiously called Delta and checked their website. They did not even answer their phones and their website was not working! Then, on the 28th, I received a text message from a dear family friend, Lisa Gordon, asking if I too was stuck in Michigan and would I be interested in driving back to NYC. Normally, I would not mind staying in Michigan a few extra days, but considering I was embarking on a move to Hong Kong, I had things to do, doctors and dentists to see, an apartment to get ready for Vinnie, clothes to pack*, good-bye dinners to attend -- not to mention work.
I quickly called Lisa back, and the plan was in motion. We rented a car and four of us, Lisa, Doroan (Lisa's fiancé), Lisa's friend Stephanie and myself, made the 10-hour trip in a large blue Ford that looked like an undercover police car. Driving it, I felt like a cross between a gypsy cab driver and Frank Drebin.

The drive back was not too bad. We talked and listened to music and ate some tasty Michigan snacks. When we hit traffic around the George Washington Bridge, we stopped off and visited Lisa's sister Julie and her children. Mr. Gordon was at Julie's so we got to have his world famous iced tea, though it was an odd combination with our spaghetti dinner.
It was nice to have a few extra days with my family, but I was happy to be home.
*When I say I had clothes to pack, I mean that Beth and Shanta had clothes to pack. I supervised as they prepared me for Hong Kong.