Saturday, 28 February 2009

Paddy in Vietnam

Two weeks of networking events and meeting headhunters in Hong Kong has been interesting but the outlook is still pretty bleak. I think the tone of the last post ended up being more morbid than I intended so rest assured I am anything but depressed. I may have to reinvent myself in order to succeed in re-entry into the employment rat race and so I'm looking on that as a bit of an adventure in itself. Fellow Irish blogger Thriftcriminal has the right attitude. People should try and be a bit more constructive in the midst of this economic crisis.

It's very easy and very Irish to bitch and moan and complain but in the end do nothing about it. We're a pretty resilient bunch if history is anything to go by but how the frik we just shrug off decades of political and corporate corruption is beyond me. The politicians and big businessmen made out like bandits in the bad times. They made out like super frikkin' bandits during the good times and they ran the country with one of the strongest economies in Europe into the ground as they flew around on their private jets and lined their pockets with taxpayers money with scam after scam. Somebody should be held to account but more chance of me going to Lourdes on a pilgrimage than that happening. End of rant - I promised you positivity after all.

Since I'm out this direction and the job market is what it is, I figured I'd take a little diversionary side trip. A friend is visiting from New York so we've got a few weekend trips planned starting with Ho Chi Min City (formerly Saigon) Vietnam.
The visa process was somewhat chaotic on arrival and the taxi ride from the airport was the stuff made of legend. I think the driver had rally car aspirations or wanted to get back to the airport rank as quickly as possible so he was honking the horn and flashing the high beams and veering into on coming traffic while weaving and dodging between the hundreds of scooters and motorbike drivers that swarm around the streets here. Crossing the road as a pedestrian is not for the faint hearted.

One of the big attractions is the Mekong Delta boat trips and the floating markets shown below.
Another attraction is visiting the old Viet Cong tunnels and shooting an AK47 for a few dollars

It's not recommended to brush your teeth with regular tap water out here but out of habit and sleepiness we both did it so let the good times roll ...... outta the bottom of our world - or not ....time will tell!!!

Tags: ..Irish Vietnam..

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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Hong Kong - 1 week in

Typical Chinese food - Click above to see 'Peppery Stomach of Pig'

I've been here a week now and the job market is lean and mean to say the least. I met with a headhunter who I had been dealing with over the phone before I arrived and she painted a gloomy picture compared to our initial chat a few months back. The news continues to be filled with job cuts and paper billionaires being exposed. I've met up with several people working in banking and they are not happy campers. Some have been given notice and many are just waiting for the tap on the shoulder. Good Jaezuz, it's like the End of the world is Nigh! - I'm starting to wonder if things will ever bounce back.

On a more positive note, I've had a chance to do some exploring and continue to be well impressed by the beautiful setting of the city. I LOVE the food out here and wander into the back alleys to eat with locals for a fraction of what other expat hang outs charge albeit with a few funny looks as if to say "what you doing eating in our hood?"

Communication has been a bit of a problem. I went to pay for my groceries at the supermarket the other day and the girl said "Yu ha ca" - huh? and thus began a comic sketch of her saying "Yu ha ca" and me saying "huh?" She eventually produced a frequent shoppers card and I realised she was saying "You have card?"

I headed to the races in Happy Valley on Wednesday night but unfortunately backed no winners :-( I spent the day exploring the markets of Kowloon yesterday and met up with some friends for a wee tipple which turned into a big tipple and almost a topple. I hiked the thousand steps trail to Stanley Market today to expunge some toxins from my system and tonight I'm off to a BBQ to top up on some more toxins so I guess things could be worse ;-)

Tags: .Paddy in Hong Kong, Happy Valley horserace racing, Stanley Market..

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Sunday, 15 February 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Click the map above to expand

The map above tracks my journey out here from Buenos Aires. I arrived last Thursday evening and have been fighting the jet lag ever since. I am pleased to report I am well impressed by Hong Kong so far. It's a vibrant energetic beautiful city. Despite being compact and built up there is a surprising amount of open green space. The nightlife has not disappointed either. I got a chance to go out sailing on Sunday which was great fun.

I have a reputation for finding travel bargains or being a 'cheap bastage' as far as travel is concerned so I thought I'd share with you what it's cost me to get here so far.
fyi - The car trips were freebies as I sponged a lift.

I have snagged some bargains in my time but #11 above was my cheapest ever i.e. 1 euro for a Dublin to London airfare on Ryanair incl tax/fees. I remember paying 180 irish punts back in the 80's. I know everybody complains about Ryanair but you just can't argue with a 1 euro fare. If you book in advance there are some real bargains to be had on trains and planes.

Interestingly, it cost the same per kilometer to get from London to Birmingham (#6) and London to Lockerbie (#3) by train as it did to fly from London to Hong Kong (#12).

Here's a few photos I snapped over the last few days - Enjoy!

Tags: ..Paddy in Hong Kong..

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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Paddy in HK

.......continued from here

As this post goes live I will be sitting on a plane for eleven hours on route to Hong Kong. I've been there before for work with a previous employer (a bank). On that trip, I spent five 12 hour work days going from the hotel to the office and back to the hotel and I saw nothing but I managed to wangle staying on for the weekend and loved it. The harbour view is magnificent and there's a great vibe to the city with a interesting cosmopolitan mix of expats and obviously the Asian food is great.

I'm going out on spec and have absolutely nothing lined up right now but I'm going to do my damnedest to find work and have been in contact with a few recruitment agencies. I booked the trip a few months ago and the outlook was relatively positive. There is a bit of a surplus of people with my skill set on the job market right now so I was advised to be available, on the ground so to speak, for face to face interviews. Asia hasn't been hit as hard by the financial meltdown as the US and Europe. Things have taken a turn for the worse in the last few months however so I'm keeping my expectations in check.

I going to stay for a minimum of four weeks and if I'm lucky enough to get either a perm or contract position this will be the new home base. Jaezuz - what am going to call the blog now? - Paddy in HK? The missus is waiting back in Buenos Aires for the nod to pack her bags and follow me over. It's not easy being apart for so long but the trip wouldn't have been financially viable if we had travelled together as I've been couch surfing with friends and family this last three weeks. Thankfully Skype with web cam means we can stay in touch practically daily.

Since travel is a passion for us both we decided that making a base in Asia would give us ample opportunity to hop, skip and jump to the far flung corners of this continent and quench our nomadic thirst for exploration. We looked at a few options in Asia but decided on Hong Kong based on feedback of quality of life and reports on availability of work opportunities.

I've done a lot of soul searching recently on what I want to do (when I grow up!) and have to be honest that I'm not very highly motivated to get back into banking. The carrot on the stick was always the year end bonus but even that now seems likely to be drastically reduced or eliminated altogether. Apart from my recent full time job as a beer swilling, steak eating gaucho bum, I haven't been able to come up with an alternative career options however so I'm going to give it one more shot ('shit or burst!' - as say back home).

If it works out, all well and good and if it doesn't, I'll be heading back to Argentina in a months time with my tail between my legs. Life is like a box of chocolates but the selection seems to be mostly dark n' bitter flavour at the moment.

Tags: .Paddy in hong kong..

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Friday, 6 February 2009

Paddy in Ireland

.......continued from here

So I'm back home to the ol' sod for the first time in seventeen months. I'll be spending some time visiting family. I've lived away so long that I don't know many people from school or college anymore but a few high school Facebook people have surfaced recently so that's a possibility. I might even bump into a blogger or two so if yer up for it let me know.

I left Ireland in the eighties when it was at rock bottom economically. To be honest I have felt detached and removed from the Ireland of the Celtic Tiger while re-visiting here over the years. For me it seemed as if many of the people changed, the attitude changed and I felt like a bit of an outsider.

Humility was replaced with arrogance and a new super upper middle class was born overnight. Weekend beers were now supplemented or replaced with mid week wine and champagne bars and designer labels were almost mandatory. Yesterdays average next door neighbour became tomorrows millionaire property tycoon.

I may provoke some negative feedback here but I can say without any doubt I have no interest in living here in the foreseeable future. I'm very proud to be Irish, I love the landscapes and the craic, wit and the humour but I'm very hesitant to adapt and change to 'fit in' to the new Irish lifestyle. I think a lot of people got drunk on the success and forgot where they had come from.

I'm not happy at the recent and rapid nosedive in the Irish economy (currently among the most drastic in Europe) and I certainly don't want things to return to the god awful days of the eighties but a little slap on the wrist may help rid us as a nation of the annoying pretentious extravagance that until recently seemed the 'norm'.

Unfortunately it looks like much more than a slap on the wrist is coming to Ireland and it's a tad bit depressing listening to the news about job losses here. I will enjoy my time with family and friends and then bid them farewell before I head off on the last leg of this quest for a new job and new life.

Update: Very topical article from the Irish Times here

Tags: .Paddy in Dublin Ireland Wicklow..

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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Paddy in UK

.......continued from here

If I haven't visited your blog recently don't take offence - I'm on the road and just haven't got the man hours

I just about escaped from New York before a massive snow storm set in and closed all the airports. I got a typical cold London welcome with dark cloudy skies and rain drizzling down (some things never change).

I had a couple of good nights out catching up with old friends and had the mandatory hot n' spicy Indian curry. My system hasn't been exposed to a curry for quite some time and I was feeling the 'burning ring of fire' effects for literally 24 hours. I'm still a wee bit raw and tender down the nether regions right now.

On Friday night I headed up to Scotland on the train for a friends wedding which would happen the following day in Auchen castle near Lockerbie. A lot of the guests were coming by boat from Belfast but this little ferry hiccup occured so there was a last minute scramble for other means of travel. I had the honour of being the best man and it was an absolute blast. The jack hammer continued to 'blast' at my head the morning after.

The bride and groom

It seems the snow followed me to London as tonight the snow is falling fast right now and it looks like we'll have a few inches by the morning. Tomorrow I'm due to head to Coventry (weather permitting) as the adventure continues and the final destination will soon be revealed.

Update: Heaviest snowfall for 18 years hit London - I guess I'll be staying put for a while

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