Thursday, 15 April 2010

new classroom

Above is the view from my classroom window! My classroom is on the first floor and the valley stretches out behind the school. This view is on the less inhabited side of the school. I love that although Hong Kong is a very built up area, there are still parts with trees, and all the greenery is very lush, thanks to the huge amounts of rain and sun.

I spent two days last week at work, meeting my new head of department and tidying up my classroom. I did some organising and labelling and planned some introductory lessons for my students.

So far this week of meeting my students and colleagues has been going well.

Things I like about my new school:
My colleagues from lots of places and backgrounds.
Free tea and coffee in the staffroom means people spend time there.
The maths department is NOT housed on the eighth floor--thank goodness.
The school is really safe and the students are comfortable--I have not seen any bullying.
I have been issued with a Macbook and a Wacom tablet!

I am surprised by:
The students can be a bit messy and careless--I hope they are not spoiled.
I rarely see the Principal around the school.
My lunch duty is only ten of the forty minutes for lunch.
My Octopus card pays for my train or bus fare, lunch at work, and takes out library books (and who knows what else).
A lot of the stairwells are open to the outside, so they can be very wet when it's raining.
There's a florist who sells things outside the staffroom on Tuesday mornings.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

sight-seeing and walking

I have been spending the last few days getting ready for work on Monday and walking around Hong Kong. I spent two mornings at school, organising mostly. And I've been meeting up with Bree and Ant and Matt for coffee or meals. The building with the triangles (above) is the Bank of China, which I've mentioned before as one way I check where I am in the city.

I have been meeting Bree near her work--in this little fountain area in Hong Kong park. I find that Hong Kong central area has a surprising number of parks and they all include fountains. The trees here are very lush because of how rainy it is.

While walking yesterday I found a Catholic cathedral in the central area--quite a strange departure from most of the architecture around it. I went in and sat for a few minutes and listened to someone practising the organ.

Lastly, I am impressed with how frequently I can find a public toilet when I want to. I was shocked to see this inside one ladies in an office/shopping building: Romans 5:8 on the wall! I think the English words look cool, which may be why it was pasted up there.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

welcome to Hong Kong!

I was very sad to leave London on Sunday evening. But so excited to get to Hong Kong and see Ant and start our new adventure.

My Upper Class experience was quite wonderful! The massages in the Virgin lounge were fully booked, but I still managed to greatly enjoy the hotel-like check-in, the private security channel, and the free food and newspapers. I ate a bit, then sat in a suspended egg chair in the lounge until called for my flight.

The service on the plane was great as well, but it is hard to ignore the fact that it is still an airplane. The food was really good. The Upper Class passengers sit in little cubbies; I liked being tucked into my seat with small walls on each side.

I had an ottoman in front of me (with a seat belt so someone could visit me if I was not alone!) and underneath there was a little spot to stash my shoes, complete with red mood lighting.

I got changed into my Virgin pyjamas and then the stewardess changed my seat into a bed and I had a great sleep for about six hours. So I arrived quite well rested and happy. Ant was glad to see me and helped me get all my luggage home to the little apartment we are staying in.

On Tuesday we did some walking around (and Ant got a haircut), then we went over to Discovery Bay to see Matt and Bree. Matt had cooked a really nice meal and we also met two of their friends. We played a board game and chatted. Bree seemed very happy that in the Philippines this weekend she got to buy some maternity clothes she can wear to work. Matt was happy that he got to go diving in the Philippines--I think it is his new hobby.

We had dinner at the Discovery Bay plaza, and then Ant and I took the ferry back to HK Island to our place. Before bed, I checked on the addresses of the places I needed to go today, writing them down so I could ask the receptionist to write them in Chinese for the taxi drivers.

Ant and I went to the HK ID centre together and Ant picked up his ID card and I applied for mine. Then we took the train to his work and I got to see the building--which was the most expensive building in HK when it was built in 1985.

Just outside the building is Statue Square--here is the statue: Thomas Jackson, a former chairman of HSBC! The square has some lovely fountains as well.

This building, the Bank of China, which Ant calls the Skeleton, is near his work. It's very tall and distinctive so he has been using it as a guide to finding his way around.

I made it round to the other two places I needed to go and I think I have satisfied all the red tape I can for now. I still need to pay some fees, but other than that I think I will be ready to start work on Monday--praise God! I was dreading all the hassle, but I think lots of planning ahead has made it go smoothly. There is still time for the agencies to question my teacher registration application, so I am waiting with baited breath--for 15 to 25 days.

I had lunch in and walked through Hong Kong park on my way back home. I really love this plant with green and purple leaves. I saw something like it in the Flower Market when we visited Hong Kong last August.

The park is surrounded by skyscrapers on every side--here are the funny looking Lippo buildings.

Everything in Hong Kong is up or down a big hill. Leaving the park I was faced with this set of stairs up to our road. All day I have been walking up and down. I am one of those over enthusiastic people who also walks up and down the stairs instead of the escalators at stations--and now my legs are so sore. I don't plan to stop being enthusiastic, so I think I will soon have very strong (and still sore) legs.