Hong Kong

I’ve been doing a decently good job of keeping up to date on my little writing project, though I’m a couple of days behind at the moment. I do intend to catch up though. I did think it appropriate though to now touch on some other random things that have been going on in my life in the present.

Maria has been invited to interview with both BiMBA and Tsinghua! I take this as a very good sign. She’s also basically finished with her Chinese Government scholarship application; those will go out to the States tomorrow. Since she started working on them there have been additions apparently for which she is also qualified so she may compile the necessary documents for those as well. Given our liking of Hong Kong, more on that later, I think she’s also going to apply to CEIBS, an international MBA program based out of Shanghai; much more expensive than the others, much more heavily focused on the finance side of things, much more recognizable to foreigners though less prestigious to the Chinese, but it couldn’t hurt to apply. She is also thinking of going into business with my father, though I think the “thinking of” is a little outdated since my father’s already added her to his business’ website and printed her new business cards for the new company. She is a “General Partner/Legal Associate” for a new portfolio company my father is starting to hold the myriad of other businesses he’s involved with. More details later, or not, if I’m not at liberty to say. All in all though, things sound very exciting for Maria. She’s also going back to the States around the end of April to see her parents, her sister, her nephews, and run her face marathon in Cincinnati, which, sadly, I will miss. But I will be cheering her on from over here, and eagerly awaiting her next marathon in October, the Beijing Marathon.

As far as myself goes, not much has happened. I’ve fully stepped back as full time manager of the restaurant, which is a good thing. When we left for Hong Kong, everything at the restaurant functioned smoothly as far as I’m aware so I’ll take this as a good sign that they don’t need me there every day so I can instead manage from afar and direct through my two supervisors I’ve promoted. Basically, I took one cook and one waitstaff and gave them more responsibility and money so that they can implement my policies and oversee the other employees. I will then direct the overall direction and come up with strategy and have them put them into action. I think this is the best way to handle it. Though I must say the whole process of having David and Yang Zhi exit the business and finding new partners is a total pain in the ass! Remind me never to do business with family. Oh, right, I still am, and am still planning to. Huh. But that brings up the complete and utter mess that is Chinese business bureaucracy. So I have checks that I can write on behalf of the company, and it pulls money out of the company’s bank account. These checks are individually numbered, have a stub, are in triplicate, and when I write one, I need to fill out a special check writing receipt, also in triplicate, fill out a special check writing ledger, and fill out a general money paid out receipt indicating it was by check, also in triplicate, and this receipt I have to fill out whenever I pay money out regardless also. I also have three “stamps” or “seals” or “chops,” each one for a different thing, one of which is used whenever I write a check by the way. The others are used whenever I issue a receipt to a customer, and the last one is whenever the company engages in business with another business through a contract. We’re talking old school, stamp it on a red ink pad first kind of seals, like in the yea olden days. I also have another ledger that I’m supposed to use to indicate money paid in and money paid out every day. I have another ledger that’s for keeping track of money in my bank account, which, by the way, I’ve never had to keep such records by hand ever since I’ve had a bank account, that’s what computers are for right? I will also soon have a specially designed printer that’s meant to only print receipts, and this will cost thousands of RMB and come equipped with a USB dongle that I need to give to the local tax bureau at the end of the month for proper accounting. That’s just a small sliver I’m afraid of the paperwork that now surrounds me.

Also regarding paperwork, our work visas may finally come trough. This last trip to Hong Kong was to get us on our third entry into the country, and this may be the last time we need to do such a thing. The only things missing from the work visa application were some work verification documents I needed and have thus obtained. The entire packet should get submitted relatively soon and with any luck, come this next time when Maria goes home to run and I go home and we go attend Miguel’s wedding, we’ll be coming back on our work visas and won’t have to leave for a year at a time, though of course we can leave if we like for vacations and such.

Hong Kong was great. We wanted to take some more time and actually make this visa trip into a vacation, so we were there for four days and three nights. We found a nice hotel in a nice part of town, though it wasn’t as nice as we thought it would be. First, the beds were hard. It’s my theory that all Asian beds are hard because the Seoul beds were hard, all Chinese beds are hard, and now Hong Kong beds are hard; I think a pattern is emerging. Second, there was no free internet, which is quite inexcusable considering we could get free internet in the subway stations. Third, the power adapter they provided us sucked! I had to jiggle it this way and that before it’ll work and when it did, it needed to be propped so that it wouldn’t wiggle back to a resting position and NOT work anymore. I ended up putting it on top of our suitcase and holding in place with a pair of pants.

Hong Kong was also humid, in March. Wow. I can’t imagine what it must be like over the summer. But it was warm, which was a nice change, but it reinforced my dislike for humidity. I think I just don’t like sweating. The food was very good though, and we took this opportunity to indulge in some good old fashioned Western food which isn’t available in Beijing. First, we gorged on Mexican food. We ordered a bucket (red six) of beers, nachos, chicken wings, a chimichanga, and two enchiladas and were stuffed! Next we gorged on Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Yes. From the movie. This was on top of the Peak by the way, the highest point in the city with an utterly breathtaking view of the harbor and skyline. Apparently, if we paid 25 HKD more we could have gotten the unobstructed view, but I found it difficult to justify paying money for a view. The ride up to the peak was quite eventful as well: it was a funicular, and at times the grade was over 45 degrees steep.

Hong Kong itself is a city built in levels, with the world’s longest escalator connecting two of them. Lots of fun by the way. It’s very dense, and very tall. It reminded me of LA, San Francisco, and New York, all the cities I love. San Francisco for its hilliness, LA for it’s views of buildings when you’re in the midst of them, and NYC for the sheer verticality and density of it all, plus the mixture of the old and the new living side by side. If you add all these together, you would technically have the perfect place for me to live. It’s even cheaper than those three cities. But it’s humid! And there’s a monsoon season! NYC is also humid, but only for certain, specific, and short times in the year. For instance, NYC is not currently humid. Hong Kong is! All that aside, it was a beautiful place, and we got to hang out with some random Americans I met in my restaurant and struck up an acquaintance with. Very nice people, but very young; I just realized that I’m turning 27 this year, and the guy we went to visit, his younger sister was in town and she is a whole decade younger than I. We also hung out with his girlfriend and their friend from Australia. Good times.

I’ve kind of forgotten what else I wanted to say. I’m hoping to also churn out two more blog entries tonight as part of my writing project. I’m also a little unable to sleep.

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