Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Q and A time

Hello to all my loyal readers! I have really appreciated all your comments sent via email or on specific entries. I am conscious that I have not answered all your questions, so this post is dedicated to catching up...

How are Jemilla and Keegan coping at school? When we left Australia we weren’t sure which classes the kids would join because of the different education systems. So far they have adjusted very smoothly to their new classes and new schools. Jemilla is slightly behind in maths, but streaks ahead in reading. The kindergarten has a curriculum night on Friday, so I'll find out how Keegan's doing academically then. I have really had to stress the need for Keegan to wear a hat while outside as sun safety is not enforced at all here. Both kids currently have a substitute teacher as their actual teachers are on maternity leave. Jemilla wears her uniform for sport days. Keegan has a red apron that many of his classmates treat as a uniform. He doesn’t like wearing it at all, so we have said that he only needs it for painting.

Is Craig working?
Craig started working last week with one day off for the typhoon. He has been travelling around one hour ten minutes each way while he gets settled in to his new role and meets the staff. He is learning lots about local customs and laws. He says he finds it difficult to engage in detailed conversations with people for whom English is their second language, but overall it is going very well. The weather here is just too hot for a suit and tie, so he splurged and bought himself some new dress shirts. He has also found a wonderful bakery at the train station with 60-cent fresh savoury buns, so he often indulges there for his lunches.

What sort of food are you eating? This has been a real challenge for me as I am not a particularly good cook anyway. In Australia I relied a lot on packet mixes and sauce jars to add to vegetables and meat making easy meals. Obviously the food is quite different here, and most of it is expensive. After school today we took a long taxi drive to an “international” supermarket just to buy some minced beef which the locals don’t seem to cook with at all. Yoghurt and cheese and other dairy products are way out of our price range. Thankfully fresh fruit like bananas and apples and oranges are affordable. I would like to learn to cook Chinese food, but I don’t know where to start. Maybe you can pray that I will find someone who has the patience to teach me where to buy the right ingredients and how to prepare them. There are two supermarkets online which home-deliver; it’s very convenient.

Have you been to any more churches? We think we will stay at Sha Tin Church, the second one we tried. There are so few churches in English and we are really enjoying the sermons, music, Sunday school, and people there.

Is your house in Perth rented yet? Praise the Lord, yes! Our house in Landsdale has tenants.

Are the cars sold? Not yet. The Matchetts are looking after our two cars in Perth, but please join us in praying that they will sell soon.

Is it far to public transport? Our apartment is a fifteen minute drive to the train station, but there is a shuttle bus every quarter hour or so. We can also take taxis or local buses just about everywhere we need to go. It is very expensive to own and drive a car here. All forms of public transport here in Hong Kong seem cheap and efficient, although not terribly pram-friendly. The language barrier has caused a few problems for me, however, when conversing with taxi drivers. Many of them have no English whatsoever. I try to have the Chinese address on hand to show them, but several times I have still been driven the wrong way and struggled so hard to make myself understood. I dislike having to pay extra money if the driver goes the wrong way or to the wrong destination. It reminds me of when we lived in the Ivory Coast and new American missionaries would arrive and try to speak to the Africans in their mangled French. We would snigger at their “pathetic” attempts, and now I’M IN THE SAME POSITION. It’s ironic as well how pedantic I was about car safety in Australia, and here Tirzah sits on my lap in the back seat, bouncing along with her seat belt-less brother and sister. The kids’ schools are a five-minute-drive apart. We usually take a taxi from our apartment to Jemilla’s school, let her out, continue to Keegan’s campus, walk him to his door, walk to the train station, then catch a shuttle bus home.

Are you around for school pick-up, so have you met any mums/dads? As I mentioned, I have been doing all the school drop-offs and pick-ups, but this has been another challenge for me. It’s hard to tell the child-minders from the parents, and many of them cluster together and speak Chinese amongst themselves. Thus, I have been drawn to the few Anglo parents who have been very friendly, but I am conscious of the language and cultural divide between groups.

Will you need to buy some furniture for the house?
We need to buy a bed for Tirzah as she is just sleeping on a mattress on the floor. We also need a hall table, but otherwise the apartment (and one shopping trip to Ikea) has provided everything we need.

Do you have a courtyard? No courtyard, but we do have a rooftop.

Have you had to buy appliances?
Our new friends from church kindly gave us this brand new rice cooker as a sort of house-warming present. We bought a sandwich press, iron, and toaster this week and may or may not get around to buying an electric kettle. The house has a washing machine and a fridge and two TVs and a DVD player, so we didn’t need to get any of those. We can dry clothes off the balcony. Craig just bought this Pentax digital camera for a great price so you may notice a difference in the photo quality of the pictures I put on the blog.

Are there other families in the apartments around you? There must be some children around, but they are never in the playgrounds when we go. Most families here have a “helper” or child-minder to take them from place to place.

Do you find all those skyscrapers overwhelming?
No, but we do miss having a backyard with grass to run around on.

Were there any breakages in your boxes shipped from Perth?
We haven’t found anything broken, praise the Lord. The boxes were quite battered, however. Most things have found a place in our new apartment. I have a few regrets about some items we sold or gave away, but I just have to surrender them as gone.

Have you been to a library in Hong Kong yet? We will certainly be visiting the local library as soon as our Hong Kong ID cards arrive and we are allowed to borrow.

Are you intending to work, Renee? With the high cost of renting our apartment I expect that I will need to bring in some income by returning to teaching. However, the Hong Kong tax system is in our favour if I don’t work until the new year. I’ve investigated a few special education schools and classes here online, so we’ll see...

How are you coping with the heat? We are very thankful to have air conditioning in our apartment. Tirzah has some heat rash on her neck and shoulders, I’ve noticed. Hopefully the weather will start to cool down soon.

Have you had any time to go op-shopping yet?
I have discovered this is a cultural difference between Australia and Hong Kong. People here are disinclined to buy anything “used”. Therefore, there are not very many secondhand stores. I believe there are some Salvos stores in a few suburbs, so I will definitely try to hunt them down at the first opportunity. However, my op-shop addiction seems to have abated considerably here. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I wonder…


  1. Thanks for answering so many questions in a detailed manner!

  2. Yes, my thanks too Renee - I loved reading all your answers. May God continue to give you everything you need to serve Him faithfully in Hong Kong.
    I miss you ...

  3. Another question!!!!!!!!!
    Is your mail arriving?Another airletter written while I waited for the dentist at Morley is en route.All the same I was pleased to have sooooooooo much info in one go!Love you all.

  4. Thanks, Mum, your aerogramme arrived yesterday. Our letter box is in the lobby; it was very exciting to find something in it for once!

  5. oooh thanks Renee I really enjoyed Q&A time, hope theres more to come! We are really enjoying learning about the Hong Kong culture and how your family is settling in. It's hard to fathom the heat and humidity where you are. We have had non stop rain, a record for September I think! Bring on Summer.... thank you for the prayer points, we will continue to pray for you. :)
    I still haven't figured out how to post a comment on this properly, so I just do name/URL.. is there an easier way? It won't let me select anonymous...