Saturday, February 26, 2011

Celebration in the Air

I’ve been dancing my butt off! Thank God I love to dance. They’ve got us working like crazy. This is the park’s 5th anniversary and they’ve got tons of great stuff planned. There will be all kinds of shows & parades that they’ve never done before and I’ll be in some of them! The theme is “Celebration in the Air”. I’m pretty lucky to have come here when I did. This year should be a total blast.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hong Kong Apartment

We finally found an apartment – yay! It’s small and very different from anywhere I’ve ever lived, but at least we’re more settled and not living in a hotel anymore. The bathroom is small and everything’s all in one room. There’s no bathtub – the shower’s just a corner of the room. We didn’t see many bathtubs during our apartment hunt. Most of the bathrooms we saw were even smaller than ours. The kitchen is just a sink & stove against the wall – there’s practically no counter space at all. There’s also no oven. We didn’t see a single oven during the hunt. There’s a tiny balcony with a washing machine – all apartments have washing machines, but nobody has a drier. Everybody just hangs their clothes out to dry on the balcony. I don’t know how safe that is, but I guess they’ll dry faster outside than inside.

The building looks ugly & dirty on the outside, but everything’s nice & clean on the inside. All of the apartment buildings look ugly – except the really expensive ones. Someone told me that the Chinese don’t care what the outside looks like – they just clean the inside. Looking around it’s easy to believe. All the good architecture is reserved for large skyscrapers and old temples. Most of the places where people live all look the same – just a bunch of dirty rectangles.

We don’t have the internet hooked up yet so I’m still going to internet cafes. I found one near our apartment that’s cheap compared to the first one I used, but it’s still a lot more expensive than just having the internet at home. When we get hooked up I’ll upload some pics of Hong Kong – I’ve got a ton already!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thoughts About Hong Kong

I’m still getting used to Hong Kong. It’s so different from home in every way.

Right now it’s raining, but even when it rains it’s still warm. At home when it rains it’s automatically cooler – usually much colder. Sometimes when it rains here it seems hotter. When it rains at home it can rain all day – sometimes for days on end. When it rains here it rains for an hour and stops. One time it started raining really hard and stopped 5 minutes later. Even when it rains every day it never rains all day. There’s always a break – usually quite a few every day.

The money is pretty weird. It’s all different colors and the smaller bills are coins, but there’s a $10 bill and $10 coin. There’s no $1 bill – it’s a coin. The smaller coins seem pretty useless. You can’t do anything with the 10 cent coin. That’s worth about a penny – I guess you can’t do anything with a penny either. The $10 bill is the weirdest. It looks like a purple neon sign. There’s even a hole in it! It’s some kind of security hologram deal, but you can see right through it! When I first saw it I thought it was fake. The higher bills look more like real money. The $100 bill has a big ol stately lion on it. If it sounds like I’m rich walking around with $100 bills – it’s only $13 American.

The food is awesome! But not everyone speaks English. I’m sure I’ll learn some Chinese just to order food – I’ll have to!

When we first got here we ate at a lot of tourist and “western” restaurants. Not western as in steak and BBQ, western as in American. Not really American though – more like British. Lots of fast food chains are here and lots of restaurants with familiar food – and everybody speaks English, but they’re the most expensive. Eating where the Chinese people eat is much, much cheaper – like $20 for a meal versus $1. Everything about Hong Kong seems expensive, but there’s loads of cheap food – you just have to find it – and learn to order it in Chinese.

There seems to be people selling food on the streets any time of the day – literally. Walk around at midnight and you’ll see people selling food from their little carts. I’m a little afraid of cart food. It must be ok if they eat it every day, but I don’t know what anything is and I’m really not sure how to order any of it, except pointing. I’m also not quite ready to dive headfirst into suspicious looking body parts. I’ve seen a few things that take away my appetite real quick.

Something Hong Kong really has going for it is public transportation. The subways go everywhere you want to go – including Disneyland. There’s a private subway line just for Disneyland. The buses seem to go everywhere, but I haven’t figured out how to use them yet. There are double-decker buses like in England. I thought they were for sightseeing at first, but I guess they’re just regular buses. There are boats that go all over the place – which makes sense since Hong Kong is really a bunch of islands. There are lots of taxis everywhere, but I don’t see the need since they’re more expensive than anything else and I’m told most of the drivers don’t speak English.

The subway is really the way to go. It’s called the MTR and it couldn’t be easier. All the signs are in English & Chinese, everything’s color coded, it seems pretty efficient and on time, it’s really clean for such a large city and some of the stations are interesting all by themselves. The Disneyland station is just incredible. It’s like an old Paris or Victorian London train station. It doesn’t look like anything in Hong Kong at all. The trains that go to Disneyland are special Disney trains with all kinds of Mickey decorations – even Mickey windows!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Face Characters

Ryan started his rehearsals yesterday. He’s playing in a house band that does backup for live shows and does smaller gigs around the park. His rehearsals are very different from mine – he’s just playing music while I’m playing characters. I should also be able to play some of the famous characters and walk around the park taking pictures with people and just being goofy – but not Goofy. Ryan’s too tall to be any of the characters. I guess they’d rather have us fit the costumes than fit the costumes to us. They’re pretty strict about it. If you’re over 5’7, you’re out. That’s not good for some of the Australians – they’re a tall bunch. I guess it’s better for the Chinese. They’re not exactly the tallest people in the world. Face characters have to speak English though. I don’t think Mickey & Minnie speak at all – that seems weird to me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Apartment Hunting

We started looking at apartments. This is nothing like finding an apartment at home. First of all, nobody speaks English. Everywhere you go, signs are in English and lots of people at restaurants and other places speak English – and of course everyone at Disneyland speaks English – but we haven’t found any English speakers in our apartment search. I guess the landlords don’t need to know English since all of their tenants are Chinese.

Second, the apartments are tiny! I mean tiny. We don’t need anything huge, but we looked at one that was the size of our old bedroom – the entire apartment! Lots of apartments don’t even have bathrooms. I don’t need much, but I need a bathroom. One building had a bathroom on every floor – and it was coin operated. You had to pay to use it!

Nothing we’ve seen had anything close to a kitchen. Most just had a hot plate on a table. Some didn’t even have a sink.

These are the apartments in our price range. I guess there are better, but they get very expensive very fast. Even what we looked at wasn’t cheap. We want to save money while we’re here, but it looks like we’re going to have to spend more than we bargained for on rent. Compared to Minneapolis, Hong Kong is a very expensive city!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

First Rehearsals

We started rehearsals today. I’ve done a lot of musical theater so I’m used to singing & dancing at the same time, but this was grueling! I’ve never done so much work in one day.

I met most of the people I’ll be performing with. There seems to be more people from Australia than anywhere else. I guess that makes sense since it’s the closest English speaking country. Americans probably mostly go to Florida & California – British people can always go to France, I guess.

All the singers & face characters have to know English. I was surprised by how few performers were Chinese. I just assumed I’d be performing with mostly Chinese people – this is Hong Kong after all.

It seems like everyone is cool, but I really didn’t get a change to get to know anybody – we were just so busy. My legs are pounding from all that work – I love it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

First Day at Disney

Today was the first day of orientation. I work at Disneyland! How cool is that? I think it’s pretty cool.

They covered all the details about working in a foreign country and doing everything the Disney way. I’m so glad they did because I had a lot of questions. Today was very informative. They talked a lot about visas, but it seems like most of the other foreigners are Australian so the rules for them aren’t the same as the rules for me. They went over benefits like medical & dental, discounts and all that. They talked about the volunteer program they have which is called Disney VoluntEARS. The name sounds hokey, but they do good things for poor children in the area so I’m totally jazzed about that. They also have all kinds of Disney names for everything – I’m not an employee, I’m a Cast Member. That has nothing to do with being on stage – everybody’s a Cast Member.

I start rehearsals Thursday. Orientation was for everyone so they didn’t cover any of the specifics about what shows I’ll be doing and what characters I’ll play. That comes after we start rehearsals and the musical director makes all his decisions.

I hope I get Belle!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chinese New Year 2011

Chinese New Year’s is the best thing ever! It’s still going on, but I’m totally wiped out. It’s like everyone in the country going to a party at the same time. We don’t know anyone here, but we’ve already been invited to meals and parties. I hope the Chinese are this friendly all year.

Speaking of food – I better watch out. I’m going to gain a ton of weight if I keep eating all this great Chinese food. Everywhere you turn there’s great food! I knew there was a lot of food in Hong Kong so I don’t know if it’s because of the New Year’s or if it’s always like this, but this is food paradise. I know there’s special food for the New Year’s but I don’t know what’s what. It’s all new to me. Chinese food in Hong Kong is nothing like Chinese food at home. The flavors & textures are totally different and there is all kinds of stuff here nobody would ever eat at home. Some of it’s a little disgusting, but I’m trying to keep an open mind since I’m the visitor here – we probably have something at home they find disgusting, but I can’t think of anything.

Today was a huge fireworks show in the harbor – or harbour. Everything has the British spelling. That just makes it seem more foreign. I’m glad there are signs in English since I can’t read a word of Chinese, but the British English just reminds me that I’m in a completely different country instead of just in some Chinatown somewhere.

We saw a dragon show that was just incredible! I don’t know what any of it means and what all the symbolism is about, but those guys are real athletes. The things they did – jumping on boxes, dancing around – all under this huge dragon costume was just amazing. I’m sure it takes years to master that.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the legal drinking age in Hong Kong is 18. I can go into any bar – or pub since it’s British here – and order any kind of drink I want. Alcohol, exotic food and the biggest party of the year – I’m so going to pay for this later.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

First Day in Hong Kong

I’m in Hong Kong! I almost can’t believe it, but I’m finally here!

We’re staying in a hotel right now until we move into our temporary housing – provided by Disney. The internet in the hotel is really expensive, but I’m told there are lots of cheap internet caf├ęs all over the place – I just have to find one nearby.

My first impression of Hong Kong is HOT! Coming from Minneapolis where it’s -0 Hong Kong feels like a sweat box – and it’s still winter! What’s summer going to feel like?

My second impression is that it’s crowded and everything moves fast! I’ve been to big cities before, but it’s totally different when everything’s in a language you don’t understand. I know I’ll get the hang of it, but right now it’s just a whirlwind of people & cars.

My third impression is that I’m totally lost and this was all a crazy idea, but I think that will pass once I get the hang of it. I hope so because as much as I’m spinning in circles I also think this is totally exciting. I’ve only been here 2 days, but I already know this is going to be the best thing ever!

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s. There are decorations all over the place. There’s an excitement in the air – I can’t tell if that’s coming from the Chinese people or me!

There’s just so much to talk about, but this is costing me a dollar a minute – I think. I still haven’t got the money worked out yet. I think $1=10 Hong Kong dollars. I’m not too sure about that.

Anyway, hello Hong Kong!