Hear Ye! Since 1998.
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Dec 02

The 24th: A house? Like, a real house?

Gerald and I spent the first part of the day shopping, with two things in mind. The first was a digital camera (more on that in a later post), and the second was for random KK gifts. One for the night’s dinner, and another for the party following. The only restriction was that it had to be to the value of HK$100 per gift (AUD/HKD = 4.3). So after some aimless wandering, we settled upon a more or less matching set of gifts: for the dinner, a box of Lindt chocolates and an electric toothbrush. For the party, a bottle of Aussie wine and $100 worth of assorted condoms. They said be creative for the party gifts, so we were.

Following that, we took the MTR to HK island, down to Causeway Bay, which was absolutely packed full of human traffic, with the intention of meeting Kay and Bev. Kay was running late, and we were to meet Bev at the Clinique stand in Sogo. A fairly bad choice for a rendezvous point, seeing that the Clinique stand was at one of Sogo’s entrances which was constantly flooded with an unending stream of people. And also due to the fact that we hadn’t met Bev before, so had no idea who we were looking for. Anyway, Kay turned up and we discovered that Bev had actually wandered off to the Body Shop. We spent the next few hours shopping with Kay and Bev for their KK gifts, and also for wrapping paper for our condom “custom fun pack”. Mostly uneventful, except for the incident with some stuffed toys in a department store – Snoopy’s compromising position on the shelf and Mickey and Minnie’s questionable choice of undergarments. Hmm, yes.

Dinner was at a Western-style cafe at Wan Chai with Bev’s family and friends. Mediocre food. Turns out that when Honkies try to cook Western food, they are still influenced by Asian tastes. For example, the beef steaks were given a large dose of meat tenderiser (sodium bicarb), which is fine for normal Asian dishes where beef is sliced fine. However, for a large hunk of steak, it is decidedly strange. During the round of KK present swapping, we were extra careful not to mix the condoms and wine with the chocolates and toothbrush. I got a business card holder, Gerald got some Neutrogena shampoo. Right.

Dinner finished at about 11 and we went up to Kay’s office to drop off some bags. Kay works in PwC (GTS) Hong Kong, having transfered from the Sydney office a few years ago. Her office is in the Cheung Kong Center, also the office of Hong Kong’s richest man (the building is also owned by him). The view from there is quite impressive, one aspect showing the harbour to the North, and another aspect showing Mid-levels, basically the equivalent of Sydney’s North Shore, imposingly dotted with expensive high rise apartments climbing up the hillside. We also stopped for a quick toilet break in the schmick-ish executive Women’s toilet (it seems they have a separate toilet for execs). The toilets require security card entry and naturally Kay only has access to the Women’s ones, but this wasn’t a problem as the office was naturally deserted at 11pm on Christmas Eve.

(BTW, Bev is one of Kay’s friends, living in Hurstville, working as a market analyst in a Sydney firm on holidays in HK like us.) Waiting for a bus that never turned up, we instead took a taxi to the party, stopping on the way to pick up Carol, a UK-born Honkie working in audit also at PwC HK.

The party was at a house at Jardine’s Lookout. That middle word is a strange one on Hong Kong Island: house. In a place where space is at a premium, and where apartments abound, and an area such as Mid-levels, owning a house says something about affluence. So, naturally we were all quite curious to see this residence. It turns out that the place wasn’t quite a house, but a townhouse. Not that that didn’t mean a 7 or 8 figure price tag. Our host owned a few of them and joined them together. Nonetheless, going by Sydney standards, the place was decently sized. Although HK has higher wages and an extremely low tax rate (15%), this is balanced by significant living costs, especially for housing. For the same price in Oz, you could get a mansion in the ‘burbs, although we have a 48% tax rate to contend with.

The party was bustling when we arrived. It composed mostly of work people in their mid to late 20s, so not really my age group heh. The party was surprisingly tame (by Aussie standards, anyway). Lots of bottles of wine, but not a single drop of beer or spirits to be seen. And no one pissed. Unfortunately, everyone was jabbering in Cantonese (although a large number of people seemed to be overseas educated and therefore English-speaking) so we didn’t mingle much. The KK gifts were randomly distributed a few hours later, and we eagerly awaited to see who would receive our bundle of fun. It went a little something like this:

Generating an idea for a KK gift: Free
A few boxes of assorted condoms: $95
Gift wrap for the boxes: Free
The expression on the face of a rather innocent looking Honkie woman (and those around her) opening “gift number 42”: Priceless

I was a bit surprised that no one had had a similar idea, but as I said, it was a tame party. Turns out Kay knew the unlucky/lucky recipient of our gift, and she was married, so at least we knew our gift would be used in one way or another hehe. We eventually returned to the hotel later that night.

Post about what we did on the 25th coming later.

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