Thanksgiving

Thank you Lord for bringing me through one of the most difficult period of my life. It was extremely difficult to get through, but thank you for your grace, guidance, love and surrounding me with a great body of saints, friends and a loving family….

Amen.

Psalm 73:25-26
”Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.”

Advertisements
Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

Settling In

image

By all accounts, am settling in well. Have since January 3rd, taken over the apartment, turned on the electricity, water and gas. Obtained my car park space (expensive!!!), apartment card keys, letter box keys, etc, and of course furnishing the apartment with the usual basic odds and ends (bed, washer, dryer, broom, mop, cutlery, kettle, you get the point).

Its a week already, and time really flies, especially when work is crazily busy. Christine and I have gotten a place south of Hong Kong Island, on a small bespoke island district called Ap Lei Chau. South Horizons has 34 towers and about 9,800 residential units. It’s a very well self-contained community with its own mall, supermarket, restaurants, club facilities and a very mature transportation interchange. Apart from buses that now bring you almost everywhere (from airport to Kowloon), the MTR reaches this part of Hong Kong by 2014.

Most importantly, its 10 minutes from the Singapore International School where the kids will be going. Being 20km+ away from the office is a small price to pay. Especially as the air here is cleaner… πŸ™‚

The only thing missing now….. My family… πŸ™‚

Posted in Children, Family, Hong Kong, Musings | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Brand New Year

So….my 3 weeks holiday with my family is finally coming to an end. Have been on leave since the 15th of Dec, and with my family in Taiwan and Singapore. Totally enjoyed the break, but its time to get back to work.

After my scheduled doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, will be on the 4pm flight back to Hong Kong.

It’ll be a little hectic over the next few days, as I’ll be taking over my new apartment, turning on the electricity, water and gas for the apartment, and taking delivery of the bed. On top of that, there will be the odds and ends like the iron, ironing board, washing detergent, dryer, etc etc to buy.

It’ll be a busy week , particularly the coming weekend.

Posted in Family, Musings, Personal, Travel | Tagged | Leave a comment

And So… Things are coming together…

For the last month or so, I’ve taken one trip out to view some apartments in order to get an idea of how property sizes are in Hong Kong, and to see for myself what is available. I’m glad I did, as not only did it give me a good idea of what is available, it set my expectations right, and I knew which area I would likely stay at, how much I needed to budget, and more importantly, allowed me to explain my expectations to my property agent, so that she could look for the right apartments for me.

At the same time, I was also busy selling my existing car. I had left my car with my mechanic in Singapore. One of his sidelines was in helping to sell and transfer cars for his clients. πŸ™‚ I’m glad I handed it over to him. He got everything done for me.

The interesting thing here is the timing. If I had not sold the car, I would not have the liquidity to proceed with any key decision in Hong Kong. So, it was extremely timely to receive the money for my Lexus on Friday. Christine had arrive in Hong Kong on Thursday night, and we were looking for apartments on Friday itself. Yes… it was that close.

The funny thing was… Neither Christine or I had any anxiety to make a decision on any apartment on this trip. The trip, was in my mind, an opportunity to allow Christine to get a sense of the property situation in Hong Kong. Very much like what I did the last time.

The thing was, because my property agent already knew what we were looking out for, she arranged a few very targetted apartments for our viewing. We liked every single apartment we saw. We first saw a unit in Mid-Levels West, which in my opinion was one of the better apartments with a higher floor efficiency. Then we headed out to the Pok Fu Lam area to look at 2 units at the Belchers. We loved the Belchers. The first unit was absolutely excellent! Christine and I immediately liked it, and were very much leaning towards taking it.

But, we wanted to see South Horizons. Its an old development, probably 30 years old now. It was 2 outdoor pools, an indoor pool, tennis and squash courts as well. More importantly, it is extremely near the Singapore International School. While the exterior was old, I felt I wanted Christine to take a look at it, lest she wanted it. From my own personal experience of my last trip, I didn’t like it. The place was too grass roots, and the apartment I saw was.. well… extremely run down. So, I had not much hope.

But this time around, when we came to South Horizons, we saw 2 units belonging to the same landlord. He had torn down the wall, and joined both units together. Each were about 740 sq ft, which gave it a combined 1,400++ sq ft. It was just renovated, and no one had stayed in it yet. It was extremely beautiful. Because of the combined units, the apartment had 2 wings. The decor and renovations were also extremely well done, and suited out tastes.

So, to keep the long story short, we liked it, and decided to take it. The timing in which the funds came through was amazing. If the money had not come through from the sale of the car, we would not have decided to take the unit. A rare 2 unit combination that gave us the space we were looking for. God just allowed everything to fall into place.

South Horizons

Then, on Saturday, after signing the tenancy agreement, we visited a few car showrooms. I had decided not to get a SUV due to the tight spaces in Hong Kong. I had also decided not to buy another Lexus, or an european car. I wanted to be a little more discreet, seeing I am not in Hong Kong, and the type of car used can be wrongly interpreted. Also the Japanese cars seemed to have better rear seat space, particularly for the centre seat. I wanted Elkan to be comfortable.

So, Toyota was clearly on our minds, as we’ve always had good reliability with it. It was also my first car in Australia. We happened to chance on a Toyota showroom with a very nice salesman, who told us of a sale on Sunday. I had by then, taken a liking to the Camry Hybrid. The price of the new Camry was HKD389,000. Tony, the Salesman told us that Toyota themselves had a used Camry Hybrid to sell on Sunday. It had only been used for 5 months, and had a substantial discount. It was only selling for HKD317,000. To me, it was clear and obvious. I was going to the sale on Sunday.

So… This morning, I saw the Camry Hybrid. I was told that it was green in colour, and my first thought was “yikes!” But, when I saw it, it was not even near green! It was more grey metallic in colour. In any case, the care beautiful, and in excellent condition. It’s entire interior dashboard was all wrapped in leather, giving an extremely luxurious feel. It had all the fancy stuff my Lexus used to have, plus a few more! I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. πŸ™‚

So, I bought the car!

Camry

All in all, Christine and I completed 2 key decisions in all of 3 days, with everything so smooth you’d have no difficulty feeling it was all planned. Except the thing was… it was never planned. It was just the favour of our God watching over us, and blessing us. πŸ™‚

Posted in Christianity, Family, Musings, Personal, Travel | Leave a comment

Learnings

When one chooses to uproot himself from a country he has called home for the last 40 years (save 3 years in Australia), there are some key considerations that need to be satisfied before he even decides if the offer is worth consideration.

Of course, the location of the target move is of paramount importance. Standard of living, health & safety, culture, schooling, are all dependant on how well the country is governed. And by extension, usually determines if one would feel willing to relocate oneself there.

So, while I did the normal and usual comparisons, and going to Hong Kong wouldn’t result in a drop in my standard of living, hardship, etc, the next few things that come to mind was housing and transportation.

Now, for two countries that are fairly similar in size, population and development, we couldn’t be more different than Hong Kong. In Singapore, public housing are on average, above 700sq feet. Normal 4 room apartments are at least 1,100 sq feet. And this would be close to 100% floor efficiency. In Hong Kong, if they advertise 1,100 sq feet, you’d be lucky to get 900 sq feet. Floor efficiency is usually aroun 80% efficiency. What this means is that your remaining 200 sq feet went to the club house and the swimming pool below.

You think that’s bad? In Hong Kong, most apartments don’t come with parking. What do I mean? Best way to do this is through an example. My friend bought his new apartment for SGD 3 million. He doesn’t get a carpark lot. Out of his apartment block of 500 units, they only built 200 lots. So, how? Well…. They ballot. Wait wait wait…. Before you can ballot, you have to take a queue number to ballot. Because, people owning larger and more expensive aprtments in the development gets to go first. So… Assuming you got your queue number, and you managed to ballot for a lit, each carpark lot costs in excess of SGD800 per month. Most people just buy the lot for SGD300k.

So, I have to say, we are extremely blessed in Singapore!

Then, what about cars? Well, the strange thing here is that Hong Kong people are not as car crazy as Singaporeans. Most of them rather take public transportation. And they’re not swayed by low car prices! A friend bought an Audi A4 for SGD55k. Can you imagine that!? Wow….. perhaps one of the reasons why Hong Kong folks don’t feel an over arching need for owning cars, is because of the excellent public transport there.

So, I guess you’d have to give and take when comparing. There are bound to be some good and some not so good. More importantly, we need to find a good church….. πŸ™‚

Posted in "My First" Series, Christianity, Family, Musings, Personal, Travel | Leave a comment

Changing Gears

As I gear up for the move to Hong Kong, it struck me that many of the things I take for granted will need to be transitioned. Boy, there are so many things, it is difficult to even know where to start.

image

On the work front, I’m replacing a colleague who’s last day is on November 16th. He’s an excellent operator, and following up after him will not be easy. Organizationally, there are a number of changes. The existing IT team supports 2 business streams, and going forward, the team will be split to into two distinct teams, each supporting 1 business stream. So, we’re looking for another individual for the role supporting the other business strea, but in the mean time, I have to handle that role. Also, I am looking for a replacement for my existing role for South East Asia, and until the new headcount comes on board, I’ll have to directly manage South East Asia as well.

On the Home front, there are the childrens’ education to consider. Which school do we put them into? Are they able to get places? When does term start? How much are the school fees, can they adapt? Then housing is another key consideration. Where do we stay? How much can we afford? How large are the houses in Hong Kong? Can we as a family adapt to the smaller houses? Oh.. what about transport? Do I buy a car? How do the kids get to school? How much is a car in Hong Kong? What are the hidden costs like car parks, taxes, toll, etc? More immediately, because term starts in September, we’ve decided that I would move first by January 2013, and that Christine and the kids will move only by Sep/Oct 2013. This decision then adds a further dimension to our plans. When do i get an apartment? Should I just stay in a serviced apartment for now? Etc, etc…

Then, personally, I’ve had to also deal with a whole range of emotions on the transition. Will language become a handicap for me? Can I do well? What if I fail? Can i find good people? Will I have favour with my bosses, peers and team? So many unknowns and so many fears.

Change is never easy, can be confusing, comes with risks, but always necessary. There was a sermon I heard once from Senior Pastor Lawrence Khong about Change. In speaking about it, he used an imagery of the changing of gears in a vehicle. I know most cars are automatic nowadays, but in the good old days when many cars were still manual, shifting from 1 gear to another, requires a momentory move of the stick shift to neutral. It is at this point, where the car loses traction, disengages and goes into a free spin. This is also the point where the vehicle could potentially lose a little momentum before picking up again at the higher gear. But when the stick shift clicks and engages into the higher gear, you immediately are able to go faster, go longer and the ride carries on.

I guess, I’m in the middle of a gear change, and I’m experiencing a momentory disengagement of the gears, and feel like I’m losing momentum, and also feel a sense of uncertainty if I would like the higher gear. I’m thinking to myself, that gear 3 actually feels quite alright. Why do I need to shift to the 4th gear? I like travelling at 70km/hr. I don’t need to shift upwards.

But, I know deep in my heart that this is where God has placed me. It was important for me to understand and be convicted that Hong Kong is where I am to be for this season. And, over the last 6 weeks, spending time in prayer, hearing from God and seeing the tangible evidences and confirmations from God has convinced me that this is indeed where God wants my family and I for this season.

So, we pack our bags and obey.

This is however still not easy, but when I know where my North Star and anchor is, when the waves and winds come, I have a much better foundation.

Perhaps, what probably sums up how I should respond to the ambiguity I’m facing now is very aptly described in the recent Senior Pastors’ meeting at church (which I was unfortunately unable to attend as I was overseas).

The word came from Haggai 2:4-9.
What do we do when we are going through the fog? β€œBe strong” or “take courage.” Haggai 2:4

Five reasons why we can be strong and take courage β€” Because of the

1. Presence of God (Haggai 2:4,5b): The Lord is with us!

2. Promise of God (Haggai 2:5a): The Lord will direct us

3. Power of God (Haggai 2:6-7): The Lord will act for us!

4. Provision of God (Haggai 2:8): The Lord will provide for us!

5. Peace of God (Haggai 2:9): The Lord will give to us!

So, please help me, Lord.

image

Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

All Confirmed and Good To Go

On 1st October, I was offered an enlarged role to be based in Hong Kong. On 12th October, I finally signed the contract, and I will be stationed in HK from 1st January 2013. The amount of administration and logistics in preparation for the move is just uncomprehensible. Theres so much to do, and so little time. Already I’m getting double of the mail I normally get, and my normal mails are already significant. I need to get past these next 2 months…

Posted in Musings, Personal, Travel | Leave a comment