With the hilarious Cheech and Chong, a couple of weeks before moving to Hong Kong.
While visiting my blog last week, I noticed that little starry meter to the left-hand side had clocked over to 365 days.
One year since the big move to Hong Kong.
I remember when I first arrived I was constantly meeting new people and being asked, "So how long have you been in Hong Kong?"
At the time I felt embarrassed to say, "Oh only a couple of weeks", feeling like the weird new kid at school and counting the days until I knew this place as well as them and had some sort of 'local cred.'
So to mark the occasion, I've written three little lists, each containing ten points (in no special order):
Ten expectations I had before moving here; my ten first impressions; and ten views I now have, after one year.
And those who read my blog will know I love a list. So here goes.
Ten expectations I had before moving to Hong Kong:
1. I would hate the culture and feel really out of place.
2. It would be really crowded, dirty and smelly.
Am I a pessimist?
3. I would spend a lot of time travelling through Asia, and be 'wowed' by mainland China and Japan within my first year.
Phew, something positive.
4. I would find a job presenting on television or reading news on radio.
5. B and I might not survive our first real attempt at living together, especially in a foreign place, and possibly break up.
6. I would learn Cantonese or Mandarin, take cooking lessons, dance lessons, and write a book.
Uh-oh, pessimist meets dreamer. A fatal combination.
7. No matter what happened, I wouldn't return to live in Sydney for at least two years.
8. I would get food poisoning within my first month.
9. I wouldn't miss my job because I would find something better and move on from it.
10. Despite all, I would never regret the decision to come.
My local cafe in Sydney where I would sit and ponder my upcoming move.
My ten first impressions of Hong Kong:
1. The city was buzzing; there were always people out and about, something to see, something to do. I loved the energy.
2. It was crowded and, at times, smelly, but certainly not dirty.
3. While parts were a concrete jungle, much of the island was a gorgeous green, brimming with hiking trails and places to hide with nature.
4. The expat community was fantastic; there were so many great people who genuinely wanted to become friends, and nights out were so fun they were almost criminal.
5. There really wasn't that much work in my area of TV. How rubbish.
6. Shopping was not cheap, it was actually ridiculously expensive. I had moved into Prada-town.
7. It was love at first sight all over again at the airport. B and I were looking promising.
8. The food looked and smelled scary... I refused to get food poisoning and would remain 'safe' by sticking with Western food.
9. Writing a book was too hard. So was learning Cantonese and Mandarin.
10. I couldn't shake an unmistakeable feeling that I had done the right thing.
One year on, my ten views of Hong Kong now:
1. I am so glad I came. I've met incredible people, had more fun that I could imagine, and have grown as a person.
2. This city is is a fantastic place to live and everyone should move here - fun, safe, cultural, convenient. It's so alive.
3. B and I have grown even closer and celebrated by buying two amazing dogs.
4. Travelling through Asia is not as simple or affordable as I had thought: still no China or Japan, but great experiences in Thailand and Vietnam in the bag. More to come.
5. Hong Kong-Chinese people are incredibly sweet. And there really are a lot of them.
6. TV work here has been a bust (so far) and radio is almost non-existent. Starting my own business and experiencing freedom has been an excellent second-best.
7. But - I have missed my past job much more than I anticipated and, had I known, might have been much more reluctant to come.
8. Chinese food tastes amazing! Leaves most Western food for dead. Avoiding it became too hard. Oh and I never did get food poisoning.
9. Living abroad is much more important than life-changing - it's soul-changing.
10. While it hasn't been perfect (what a silly word that is) I know in my heart that coming here was the right move.