Enough about me! Many of you have been asking how my husband Paul is doing (the one responsible for this great adventure), so here is an update.
Paul has been officially on the job with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) since May 2. He hit the ground running with meetings in Tokyo and Osaka before even going into the HK office. Fortunately, he had spent one week in March and another in April in HK with the Authority, meeting his team and getting up to speed on the projects, which was very helpful. It looks like he might be travelling quite a bit with this job, at least to start with. I mentioned the Japan trip; in June he will go to London, England for the International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference (ITEAC), then on to Barcelona, and then to Paris in July. You betcha! (That’s my pre-emptive response to those of you thinking: “You’ll be going with him on some of those trips, right?”)
He works long hours, but I think that is quite normal in Hong Kong. His work day tends to be 9:30-ish to about 6:30, often later. People really do seem to work hard there.
Paul has a great team at the WKCDA, who I also had the pleasure of meeting in April. Paul is really enjoying this group because of their enthusiasm and dedication to the project and its objectives. He finds that contagious.
The WKCD project is big. They currently have three performance spaces in the works: 1) Xiqu (pronounced “see-shoo”), the Chinese Opera House; 2) Freespace which is a development in a park, comprised of a black box theatre and creative development space. The park setting is part of this particular project; and 3) the Lyric Theatre, a space primarily for dance performance that will also contain a resident company centre and dance creation space. Xiqu is the furthest along and is out for bids, and the other two projects are in design.
The fact that they have three projects going at once is one of his main challenges. Another is budget: it is always an issue. Also, the WKCD site is partially occupied by the construction of a high-speed rail line to China.
Paul has been living in a “serviced apartment”, a furnished apartment with housekeeping services, since his arrival. He is in the tallest suites hotel in Hong Kong (tall wasn’t part of the criteria). He’s on the 55th floor and there is an infinity pool on the 76th floor, if you can imagine that. That’s nothing though, as the office tower next door is 118 stories!! He’s concerned his apartment will be a bit small for both of us when I arrive in July, so he’s exploring other options for us to live in temporarily until our things arrive from Canada in September (which is also when we expect to have a permanent apartment).
He seems to spend a lot of time doing laundry (you would think he could find a Chinese laundry!). He doesn’t have a lot of spare time but he is taking some of it to explore and get a feel for different neighbourhoods where we might take up residence. He is getting to know his way around well, which is not a surprise as he has an unerring sense of direction. He has also found a squash club and is ready to take that up again. He says there are a lot of people in Hong Kong.
All in all, it’s been a good start for him. He seems energized and has embraced this new challenge. He hardly missed a beat despite the huge changes and acclimatization. I’ve got a hard act to follow!