The Week of Netball & Chocolate

Time to have a quick round up of what I’ve been doing with myself the past few weeks.  Firstly, I have been playing a lot of netball.  A LOT!  So much so that my injuries are starting to hurt again which is not cool, but what is cool is that we are top of the league huzzah.  Mighty Eagles (yes that is our name!) have soared to the top of Division 4!  We’ve one game left to go before we reach the play offs and figure out if we’re going up a league.  Truth be told, I’d be scared of moving up, I’d worry we’d lose every match whereas this season (sorry to brag) we’ve won practically everyone…

I’ve really enjoyed joining a club and making new friends in Hong Kong.  As you all know, I’ve tried joining other things and never really stuck at it, the gym, yoga, crossfit (more out of cost concerns), learning mandarin and dragon boating to name just a few (!).  But what is great about this netball club is that I’m not forced to practice every week and play a match.  It is all pretty casual, and the team is made up of a mixed bunch of ladies of different ages, background etc. I say casual, but lets face it, the team is pretty competitive on and off court!  We lost last week, and although I said I didn’t care at the time, I really bloody do and if we play that team again there is going to 110% effort going in.  They’ll get what they dished out back, ha.  No hard feelings post match, honest!

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The full team minus Tara!

I just hope my injuries don’t return so I can continue playing – last season’s calf tear and sprained ankle combo was, to put it mildly, a bit of bitch.  So here’s celebrating something in my social life that wasn’t just a fad, ha, and I really hope the team are all on board for next year.  Particularly looking forward to getting some new uniforms potentially, because lets just say after two years of hardcore playing, mine has seen better days!

Second highlight of the week was visiting the Hello Kitty cafe in Austin.  Ah, Kitty, how much I do love thee, especially, when you are serving chocolate custard buns in the shape of you dressed up as a monkey.  Delicious.  To be fair, there wasn’t an awful lot I could eat now I’ve given up meat but those buns, and some fried silky tofu were top notch.  I also ate the shrimp dumplings too, which were very pretty although a little bland.  Nothing a bit of chilli couldn’t fix though!  The decor is all Hello Kitty-tastic too – chairs, tables, cutlery everything has her face on it.  At the end of the meal you earn ‘stamps’ which you can then go and shop with in the souvenir shop next door.  Five ladies of a certain age who were eating there that night (ahem) rather enjoyed purchasing Hello Kitty shot glasses and magnets!  Basically, whoever happens to be visiting me and the ‘Kong next, you will be taken here for date night whether you like it or not.  An unmissable local attraction I would say, and why the hell hadn’t I been there before (well I do know why the crazy queues when it first opened)?  I’m expecting to get a few more of these themed cafe kicks when we head to Japan for Easter.

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One final item of note for the week was date night last Saturday.  There’s a new dessert place that has opened literally across the road from us in Shek Tong Tsui called COBO HOUSE.  Not like the l0cal sweet shops, this is an upmarket Italian joint.

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When we moved into the area I never expected to associate the word upmarket with any of our local shops but here we are two years down the line.  Since the MTR opening things have been changing in the ‘hood.  I was actually surprised at the prices, a fancy dessert dish costs around HKD100, and a glass of wine around HKD70.  I was even more surprised to find out that this place is owned by a renowned award winning pastry chef in Singapore, Janice Wong, and that it is her first restaurant in HK.  Highly recommend going to visit, there is an outdoor seating area which in the evening is perfect for watching the world go buy, with chocolate and other sweet delights on hand of course.

Looks like it was a good job I played all that netball this week hey?!

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Back Home?

Been off the map again for a couple weeks having a really wonderful and overdue trip back ‘home’ to the UK.  I really enjoyed being in blighty, relaxing with family, catching up with friends and all the usual shenanigans.  It’s true what a lot of expats say though, it’s difficult to figure out where you really feel at home after your time away.  And anyway, what really is home?  And if you lived in what feels like your home again would it even be the same?  Probably not.  Well yes, but in a different way.

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The Malatesta Posse

Whilst I was back in the UK I was in love with the idea of finishing up our time in HK asap.  When we spent a long weekend in London I thought about what it would be like to return to our flat in Islington.  Beautiful was the first thought – I marveled at the variety of architecture, the different crowds of people on the streets and yearned to be cycling around it all once again. Expensive was the second thought.  I still have no idea how much I spent, but it was certainly a pretty penny.  How do people get by?  Well they don’t always I know…

I was also surprised at just how on edge I was wandering around.  I take for it for granted in Hong Kong how safe I feel.  I don’t have to clutch my bag tight against me whilst wandering around in HK, I don’t fear the walk from the tube station back to my house in the dark and I hardly ever witness any aggressive behaviour that can put you on red alert during a night out.   London is without a doubt, a really fun place to be, but I’m not sure how quickly I would be able to settle back in there and would it feel like going backwards in time, not having moved forward?  Would we miss the excitement of living abroad?  Where would all our old friends be – still around, or moving onto different stages of their lives?  Questions that you can’t really answer until you make the move.

So then we started thinking, what about returning to the UK but not living in London.  Remaining close to family and friends in Coventry, but within commuting distance to he bright lights of the Big Smoke?  I guess as you get older and think about the future it’s nice to have your original home comforts close at hand.  I did really enjoy going back to Coventry (honestly its not as bad as people make out!), the city has had quite a lot of investment over the past few years owing to the growing popularity of the universities there.  But I was only there for just over a week, in holiday mode, beaming with the joy of being back in my old stomping ground and the simplicity of everything.  The great thing about being in my home town was the people, and being so close to London and other places we enjoy spending time in.  Could I live in Cov, or close by long-term?  I think I could for awhile but, we would at some point, inevitably get itchy feet and feel like trying something new and different once again.

Then to Hong Kong.  Why did I feel such dread about returning?  Our life here is so good in many respects – we get to go on amazing holidays, have good jobs, lots of good friends and an excellent social life.  Within about 48 hours of being back I remembered the value of all that, and was actually quite glad we hadn’t made some romantic hasty decision to stay before boarding our flight home. I am really happy here, I just wish that the UK wasn’t an expensive and long 12 hours plus flight away.  But then, if it was it probably wouldn’t be the same.

And what I think I’ve learned, or what I’m trying to say is (in some sort of rambling way), that my home isn’t about the place, but the people.  So I don’t think I will ever see HK as my actual ‘home’, because some of my nearest and dearest are just so far away.  But Hong Kong has a very special place in my heart, and is for now, my adopted home for the foreseeable future.  And who knows where we’ll be in five years time?  I like not knowing, it makes life a bit more unexpected 🙂

 

 

Tai tai on tour, apparently.

Well this week has been so much fun and there’s so much to write about.  I basically got to have a holiday, courtesy of Joe and friends.  Hence the title of this blog post. 

We had two Carls come to visit, one from Oz, one from Blighty.  So the three of the boys combined make up the Original Nando’s Crew from their London days.  There wasn’t quite as much chicken or peri peri, but there was a lot of food, with one particular member downgrading to McDonalds on a regular basis…!

It has been such a nice week and we’ve had so much fun spending time with some familiar faces.  True, I’m pretty exhausted now but it was worth it.  Now Joe has got back to work blues, and I have back to hanging around the flat blues.

This is what we managed to do:

  • Have a flutter in Macau’s grotesquely huge casinos,
  • Are no longer China virgins with a visit to Guangzhou,
  • Had a debauch night out in Wan Chai,
  • Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant,
  • Bet some more at the races (I promise I do not have a gambling problem),
  • Packed in some culture with a wander around the history museum,
  • Took a day trip to Cheung Chau and walked along ‘The Mini Great Wall’.

So quite a jam packed week as you can see.  This housewife certainly gets about, that is for sure.  She is also going to have to do some serious detoxing after copious amounts of booze and drink. 

Blog posts on day trips to follow.

Fleeting pangs of sadness

I just wanted to say that although I am enjoying being here, meeting new people, seeing a different culture; generally being excited about the future and so on.  I do get these little moments of sadness and panic when I realise how far away almost everyone I love is.  

I miss being able to just send a text or make a phone call at the time of day that everyone is awake, rather than having to plan when to call in advance and then having to bail on said date because I’ve been delayed and not got back to the flat in time.  I miss hearing what is happening with friends and being able to easily catch up in the evening, or being surrounded by people at work during the day to chat to, and having Little Cat’s company in the flat.

I think rather than sadness this is generally what is known as homesickness, right kids?  And surely that is perfectly normal after five weeks away and it not being a holiday.

Right time to get up and out into the sunshine 🙂

Being brave, but don’t be that brave!

So yesterday was fun.  I was brave and went out with a bunch of people I didn’t know without Joe – by myself!  I met Natalie and Craig through a friend back home called Laura I used to work with.  We met in Mong Kok station (I’m sorry I cannot write that name without stifling a small giggle, very immature I know) and it was absolutely bonkers.  So many people, and I know there’s loads of people everywhere here but that was insane.  I felt that if I just stopped walking right there and then the people would walk me right along to where I needed to be.  I since found out that it is the most densely populated area of Hong Kong which makes a lot of sense.

We went to meet a group of friends at this really great little local restaurant owned by a very excitable, loud and funny guy called Mr Wong.  We walked straight through the restaurant into the alley at the back where there were some makeshift tables and we had all you can eat and drink for $60 which is actually less than a fiver!  The food was grand and I was in great company.  I think I may be seeing Mr Wong again in the future!

The guys have been teaching here for about six months and are loving living here.  It was lovely to meet them and they made my social anxieties about meeting new people subside.  They also had some helpful flat hunting tips (this is one of my new obsessive subjects) which was gratefully received.  They’re off to Thailand for the New Year but hoping to catch up with them upon their return – and next time Joe will come too. 

Now what I should have done was finish the night there.  This is the don’t be that brave part.  I met up with Joe and some of his work mates and we soon ended up at a shot bar called Geronimo…  In a strip of bars/clubs in Lan Kwai Fung that reminded me of one of my girlie holidays in Kos circa 2005.  But I put my bar snobbery aside and dived straight in, regrettably…

I thought one shot what harm could that do?  Until the wall of fame was spotted – drink 15 and get a plaque and a free T shirt.  Spurred on by others and connected with my inner Man Vs Food I made it to 12 but massively regretted that today!  Lesson learned: do not take part in competitions involving alcohol.  I will not be returning to Geronimo again, even though the barmen did let me take charge of the music playlist.  But probably after that they wouldn’t want me!

http://www.geronimoshotbar.com.hk/