Saturday, 19 August 2017

Annual Healthcheck

Every year, right before my medical insurance expires, I book an annual health check up. There's always anxiety and curiosity around this time of the year. The curiosity manifests itself from the fact that my body is ageing and that a clean bill of health is something indirectly correlated with age and the Hong Kong lifestyle. That and the fact that I've been aggressively trying to eat more plant-based over the last few months, makes me curious as to whether this has had an impact on my innards.

The anxiety, stems more from the logistics on providing the samples to analyse. This includes, a stool sample (you have the prepare this beforehand), a urine sample (you to drink enough water to pee on demand), a fasted blood sample (don't worry, the nurse helps here), toe nail clippings and a loch of right armpit hair (actually, the last two aren't really required). In addition, they scan your lungs, check the lung capacity, take your height/weight, ultrasound your abdomen, test your eyesight and monitor your cardiovascular capacity on a treadmill. After three hours, the collection process is over.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

A five year score card: Ho Chi Minh City

Remember that wedding in Australia I went back to at the end of 2012? Well turns out he's over in Vietnam for a few weeks spending time with family, which is as good as an excuse to go visit Saigon. This is an interesting comparison. Since 2012, he has had his honey moon, had his first child, purchased multiple properties in Australia and is now expecting his second child. Me, on the other hand, well you can see my "accomplishments" over the last five years through this blog. It's quite the contrast.

Plenty of eating, plenty of ubers, plenty of catching up and plenty to think about.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Upper Respiratory Tract Infection Season

Definition from Wikipedia: "Mysophobia, also known as verminophobia, germophobia, germaphobia, bacillophobia and bacteriophobia, is a pathological fear of contamination and germs."

You can add Hong Kong Resident to the above list of AKAs. Hong Kong residents are fiercely scared of germs. If you want to clear a crowd in Hong Kong, all you have to do is cough and sneeze and you'll be met with looks of disgust, hands over mouths and physical avoidance. There's good reason too, Hong Kong was victim to a terrible outbreak of SARS in the early 2000s, which might have fuelled the tactics and habits for self-preservation. On top of that, we breath, at times polluted air and in a high density city. The level of paranoia can be unsettling and entertaining at the same time.

Examples include: using tissue paper to open doors, wiping down train seats before sitting down, wearing masks on the subway are all examples of preventative measures that I see on a daily basis. Most buildings will offer anti-bacterial hand sanitisers in the foyer and it's not uncommon to see signs in public areas with something to the effect of: "The door handles are regularly disinfected every 30 minutes".

The level of over prescription extends to GPs where the common diagnosis is Upper Respiratory Tract Infection, which is commonly prescribed with antibiotics. Despite all the precaution, Hong Kong is almost always in "Flu Season". January through to December, there is always somebody wearing a mask, somebody coughing, somebody taking sick leave, or somebody saying "There's a bad flu going around". There always is.

My colleague that sits next to me has been coughing and abusing the tissue box. Finally he succumbs and takes sick leave, he returns a day later and his doctor says he has an "Upper Respiratory Tract Infection". I haven't taken sick leave in over two years. I look at him and continue to breath the communal air. That glorious air conditioned, recycled air.

A day later I wake with a leaky nose, a fever and a sore throat. I take sick leave and see the doctor. The diagnosis, Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. Great.

Friday, 30 June 2017

HKUST: Fall Term, 2017-18

Congratulations! It is our pleasure to offer you admission to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as a postgraduate student"

I read over the words again - Excitement. How did I make the cut out of over 1300 applicants? Apprehension. Do I still have the capacity to learn and study?

Currently reading: "Sapiens"

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Recommendations required

It has been over 6 years and I don't really have anything to show for my time here in HK, other than an impending citizenship and marginal improvement on my Cantonese. It takes one weekend of under indulgence to trigger existential questioning.

I've decided, it's time to make another attempt at continued education. I contact my very first manager and my most recent manager and kindly ask for referrals.  Within 24 hours, I submit my application for a Masters in Science. Science is fun.

Currently reading: "Born Standing Up"

Saturday, 27 May 2017

That time I took a really long hard look at myself in the mirror

Friday afternoon, a new employee to the firm tests the waters with: "Hey, my wife is out of town. Anybody want to grab a happy hour drink?". He's a new joiner, making an effort to get to know the team. I pause. I have plans to wake up early and hit the gym before the first junk of the season. Just one drink. A group of six of us head down to a small oyster bar on Queen's Road East, the ambiance is nice, we put back half a dozen wines, and half a dozen oysters.

It's still early, and continue onto another bar. This time it's Old Fashions and Negronis. 10 pm, starting to feel a little woozy, I can still make it home and wake up early. The group disbands, I flag a taxi and as I'm about to hop in, I feel a tug on my arm. My co-worker jumps into the taxi "Come back to mine, I have some nice Japanese Whisky!". Uh, ok. 11 pm, we finish the whisky. "How about one more drink in LKF?". Midnight, I check in my work bag into the cloakroom of the bar. "Hold on, my wife is calling". I bump into another group of friends. The spiral begins. I end up at another bar. 2 am, incoherent. I really need to go home.

Flag a taxi and finally, one drink later, I'm home. Concierge sees I'm clearly inebriated I gift hima perfunctory greeting and take lift up to apartment. Apartment keys aren't in my pocket; I grit my teeth. Frantic thoughts. Who has my spare key? Both spare keys are with people are conveniently overseas this weekend. I go down to concierge and request a locksmith. At this hour, the going rate is at least 500 HKD. Pull out my wallet, I realise I don't have enough cash; I grit my teeth. I go down to the nearest ATM and pull out my wallet. I realise I have lost my bank card; I grit my teeth. What is happening?

Ok, I have a spare key at work. Where's my work building pass? Wait, where's my work bag? I instantly snap back to sobriety and retrace my steps back. I retrieve my work bag and return home. The next morning my concierge is accosting me in Cantonese, I can only imagine what he's saying. Time to make some changes. Adding "lock picking" to my list of skills to learn this year.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

It's finally happened

It is the sound of a glass shattering, followed by a raucous mirth. The commotion propagates up from street level and through my eleventh floor windows. I'm stirred and briefly open my eyes, it's still dark, I turn and close my eyes. The disturbance continues. Unintentionally, they have succeeded, I am awake. Like a nosey neighbour I pull aside the curtains and peer out of my window onto the street below. Friday night drinks are in full effect and the procession has moved onto the street. I look at the clock, it's 12:45 am. Yes, I'm at home on a Friday, but that's besides the point. The disturbance continues.

Irate, I decide to take action. What's the emergency number in Hong Kong? It's not 000, or the 911. I have no idea, I pull out my phone and spend the next 5 minutes searching for Hong Kong noise complaint hotlines. The screen bathes me in LCD glow, I cannot find anything. I decide to call the restaurant below and give them a piece of my mind. The dial tone starts ringing, there's no answer. It rings a 4th time, and a polite gentleman answers the phone. "Sorry, there seems to be a lot of noise coming from downstairs, not sure if it's you guys, but do you mind keep it down, else, I'll have to call the police". "Hi, sorry, thank you for not calling the police, we will try to keep it under wraps". Click.

I feel a sense of emancipation. The noise mutes almost instantly. I drift back into slumber, despite being so worked up. I wake up the next morning realising what I have done. I've become the person that calls in noise complaints.