Not up to speed

September 21, 2011

Friend: How’s HK? Do you feel like a fish in water?

Me: You mean a fish out of water? Umm yeah, kind of.

Clearly, I’m not from here.

I’ve never had to look for apartments before. I should’ve paid more attention to my mom’s babbling about her job as a real estate agent. I have a feeling it’s different in a city like this – people are ruthless.

Yesterday went something like this…

Meeting agent at 5:30 p.m. Shit, already 20 after five and still at the office dealing with work visa stuff. I send a text to the Agent: “Hi, sorry! I’ll be a little late.”

Get a call a minute later: “When exactly will you be here?”

Me: “Probably…6:15. I’m really sorry, this is taking longer than I expected.”

Hang up.

Finished! I head to the MTR. Shit, going in the wrong direction. N00b. Dammit.

Finally, I get out of the MTR and walk 100m to the front door which is crammed between a bar and a “massage” parlor. Hmm. Funny smells emit from the elevator “lobby.” We step in.

On the way up, Agent says: “A model used to live in this room.”

Me: “Oh yeah?” (Is that supposed to be a selling point?)

Next thing I know, we’re on the 12th floor opening the door…and…it’s nice. The room is clean, bright, there’s a/c and definitely enough room for my stuff.

“I like this.”

“Well, you better decide quickly. Someone else is coming to see it at 7,” he says, piling on the pressure.

“Uhhh…” This is only the third apartment that I’ve seen. Would I be making too quick of a decision? “So it’s $5,500?”

“Yes,” he says. And then he unleashes: “But you have to pay half a months rent for the deposit. You also have to pay X amount for the room key and X amount for the swipe key…”

Shit. Didn’t see that one coming. God, I am such a n00b.

“I’ll think about it…”

“Okay.” He gives me a well-rehearsed, “your loss” kind of look and shows me out the front door.

I take a better look around the area – lots of bars and – that was a hooker. Great. I think back to the comment about previous tenant being a model…I wonder if she was actually a prostitute.

I leave around 6:45 wondering who the next person will be to see the place. Will they take it before I do? I head down the MTR escalator…Then, I see the agent I was with moments ago. LIAR. I feel the urge to tap him on the shoulder and say something snide, but I can’t think of anything fast enough. He told me someone else was seeing the apartment right after me! Tactics I guess…

Too slow for Hong Kong, but learning…I think.

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