January 16, 2004

You are on the invidual archive page of Hotel. Click Simon World weblog for the main page.

Today's letter of the day is V. At least it was. That's what happens when you live in Asia and read something from Hawaii - you get to see it last. Damn time zones.

Being an expat means being away from family and friends. It also means visits from family and friends. We enjoy it when we have guests and it goes with the territory. There are several steps to the process:

1. Agree on when the visit will take place: this is not always so easy, given assorted factors such as public holidays, work and school commitments and other general life things.
2. Work out sleeping arrangements: this varies depending on who is coming. It involves some combination of the sofa, the spare room, the study, the storage closet and the basement.
3. Plan an itinerary: again this varies with the visitor. Often the family visit more to see JC and PB, in which case there's little need to show off the spots of HK. In other cases it may be to take people to the Peak, Mongkok, Nathan Rd, Shenzhen or whatever else. We try not to do too many of the same things each time, but some are obligatory. That's what being a tour guide is about.
4. Pick them up: we always tell people to take the train. First timers to HK (I imagine) are offended or bewildered. Until they catch the Airport Express. 22 minutes and they are in the heart of HK, much faster than any car or bus. We pick them up and bring them back to Disneyland. Unless it's too early or too late. Then's it's a taxi.
5. Go through itinerary and execute it: this usually means each day the plan changes, depending on things such as children's health, weather, prevailing winds and food. Mostly food. The welcome dinner. The "local" lunch. The farewell dinner. (Note the lack of early meals - that's because Hong Kong doesn't believe in eating out before 11am. No breakfasts, no brunches).
6. See visitors off: this usually brings a mix of emotions. It's always sad to see friends or family leave, but it also means a return to our everyday lives, back to being just us in HK. And that's part of what we like being here. It's just us in a big foreign city, making our way.

We are guaranteed each year at least 4 different visits of a week or so each: my folks, my in-laws, my brother (and his new wife) and my sister-in-law. We've already got one set of friends coming and no doubt there will be more. Then we've got the time we spend back in Sydney seeing everyone again. Add it all up and it comes to 2 or 3 months of the year where we have visitors. It's fun while they are here; it's nice when they go. And we only have a moderate load of visitors. I know one family who has only 2 weeks to themselves in the next 5 months. People plan their trips around visiting Hong Kong, because of us. It's flattering. It's good for the kids. It keeps us busy.

We're basically running a hotel.

posted by Simon on 01.16.04 at 01:44 PM in the


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I'm bookmarking this page for future reference, Simon. I wind up getting 1- to 2-week visits every 5 weeks or so and it's reached the point where I think I'm going to scream if I have to go to another "Hula Show" at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Now for the big question: who takes off work to play host/hostess?

posted by: Venomous Kate on 01.16.04 at 02:28 PM [permalink]

perhaps step 2 explains the disneyland murder? she was just trying to make room for her parents to visit and he didn't want to sleep down there (probably hated his in-laws and couldn't understand why they didn't just go to a hotel so he could be left in peace) so she decided to force the issue?

posted by: english on 01.16.04 at 02:30 PM [permalink]

i did take a day or 2 off the first couple of times, but never again. also not going back to europe this year. we've done our stint - anyone wants to see us, they can come here - after all we're the ones living on a tropical island, not some cold, wet miserable 5hitheap of an island floating off europe, populated by football thugs and thuggettes

they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but i haven't missed mud island once since leaving and my trip over xmas and new year just confirmed my view of the place.

i'm proud to be english, but please god don't ever make me go back there!

posted by: english on 01.16.04 at 02:44 PM [permalink]

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