Saturday, September 27, 2008
There was a typhoon between Tuesday evening and Thursday morning. (fortuitous timing considering that my roommate left just before it began, and the new hire showed up just after it trailed off) That’s a hurricane for all you English speakers. Of course, I managed to scare my mother by confusing "tsunami" (tidal wave) with "typhoon", before I found out which was which but that’s another story.
We were instructed to leave work early on Tuesday because of a typhoon signal (basically means that the weather is bad enough that employers don't want to be held liable for employees who feel that they ought to stay in the office...) but it came at 5:30ish meaning that I saved myself about 15 minutes total, after packing up and shutting down the workstation. The protocol here is: if the typhoon warning is lifted before work, you go in in the morning, and if it's lifted before noon, go in later, and so on. The typhoon was pretty crazy - ridiculous wind and rain that went from off to full-on in seconds, and back to nothing again a couple of minutes later. And apparently this wasn't even a very big one. I saw the clouds whipping up and over the peaks of the surrounding mountains. It was eerie and quite surreal. I hear I’ve missed the peak of the season, but I’d really like to see a serious storm from someplace safe.
Although the former roommate’s room is open, my other roommate and I can't move "up the ladder" until about three weeks from now. Other guests are moving into the apartment for a few days at a time, and HR thinks this is a reason not to hand over the keys. So people who are just visiting get the master suite, and the actual residents have to make do with the shared bathroom and smaller rooms. I’ll live.
I received an email through the grapevine from an old family friend who is on a trip to Tokyo. A paraphrase of my reply follows – sorry if some of the concepts or names are a little obscure…
I know you're a little surprised to be one of the few competitors actually taking time to enjoy everything that Tokyo and Japan have to offer, but isn't that the only way to do it? What's the point of being on the other side of the world, if you operate in the same way you do at home? I've seen the nightlife here already, and while it is not necessarily my scene, it is still something that I am glad to have experienced. Hong Kong, like New York, is a city that never, ever sleeps. I can relate to most of your story either directly or indirectly. A lot of your experiences translate directly to life here in Hong Kong. (If you aren't aware, I'm here wrapping up the first month of a six-month internship in a telephone design office). I also had a coworker/roommate who I only got to know over a few weeks who went to Tokyo for a week at the end of her employment. She said that although it is like Hong Kong in a few ways, it is "nothing like Hong Kong". I'd love to get a chance to hop over there, especially since I don't see myself on this side of the world for some time (although I didn't exactly see myself here before I got the internship either - so who knows). My father forwarded me the email you sent home, and a lot of it rang true with me. I've already had my prerequisite meal at Freshness Burger too. I've been here for three or four weeks already and I've already had more absurd, exciting, and assumption-shattering experiences than I could have expected. Last time I was here on a school trip (vying with classmates for one of two internship positions)that lasted a week and a half, but was spent in Downtown Hong Kong, where everyone speaks English, is used to seeing westerners, and everything seems very busy. Now I'm living in Tai Po, which is technically part of Hong Kong, but might as well be part of the PRC(it is in the New Territories. The closest approximation of the situation, I imagine would be Jersey to NYC. Close in terms of geography but the similarities end there). I've already had little kids stare at me and tug their mommies' shirts (They were speaking Cantonese but I assume they said something to the effect of "wow, he's a different color, and tall, and funny looking") And people around here assume that caucasian equals fork and knife - I have to ask for chopsticks nearly every time I go out to eat. But I kind of enjoy being the minority - It's certainly something that many people I know will never experience.
In work news, I was assigned two projects within my first few days. Project 1 was to take technology and components from existing products and apply them to an untapped market for a product aimed at parents of babies. Project 2 involved taking an existing product from the American Market and repackaging or “re-skinning” it to keep the same functionality and internal components – thus creating a new product in terms of looks and avoiding any trademark infringement, since it is going to be sold in a new market. I really enjoyed the work and was getting it done quickly enough. I had just put in a really strong final push to get half of the product completed for the re-skin, and as soon as I was done, my boss came back and said that the trademark holder gave them the go-ahead to simply re-brand the current product. Long story short, I went from product design and 3D modeling to changing colors on an existing product. The end of the day has been spent getting organized, cleaning up my files and desk, and not working too hard. I jokingly asked my boss, "So if I come in tomorrow, then I've passed the test right?" Apparently, this is - to some degree - standard operating procedure for my team. I had thought for a while that it was going too smoothly. I'm 0 for 2 on projects getting completed. But now, Project 1 (shelved so that I could dedicate more time and energy to finishing the re-skin) which is much more open-ended and conceptual, is going to become a priority again - but not as much of a priority as it was before, I feel.
My friend from college arrived a couple of days ago as a new hire at work, and he’s done really well with the jetlag.
We went out with the coworkers for a drink last night, and had a great time. The bar is literally a couple hundred feet away from the apartment, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. He and I woke up relatively early today and went apartment hunting around the New Territories. They come in all shapes, sizes(mostly in the small to extra-small range), colors, and locations. But they all have about the same price – expensive. Some, which looked like glorified closets, leased for more than I’m being paid as an intern. I am seriously glad that I am not expected to pay rent here.
Tomorrow might turn out to be a good beach day, which I will take full advantage of. I haven’t been to the beach yet, and I am ready to go after last week. I need to not think for a little while - Just stare or pass out – with sunscreen on of course. I showed
In the following days I will try to think of a couple of good ideas for things to show everyone at home, because there are two holidays in two weeks. Wednesday and the following Tuesday. I may just wander the streets of Hong Kong proper and snap photos. We’ll see. It might – hopefully not – end up being a good opportunity for a nap.
Sorry to be so vague and confusing with names and project descriptions. I’m not yet sure where the line lays in terms of privacy and legality.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This is not the view from the office - but rather from the street in front of the apartment. This is the apartment (the white building in the center of the frame)- I think mine is somewhere to the lower left - on the fourth floor. The lower floor is nice for the short elevator ride (balanced by the 22 story jaunt on the way into the office).There's a track near the apartment...
And from the other end:A beautiful mountainside covered in forest and undergrowth.