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Sunday, August 9, 2009

First Day

Today Tony arranged to meet me at 10:00am to take me to my medical check and my apartment then to finalize my appliance purchases and arrange for delivery. Or so I thought...

I was at the meeting point in the ground floor lobby waiting when I overheard two guys saying how they worked for HCT and were going to get their medical check and go to the college to sign their contracts. I talked with them and realized that there was going to be a group of us. Seeing them in their suits, I felt enormously under dressed in my jeans, T-shirt, and sandals. Luckily Tony was late so I ran up to my room and quickly changed into slacks and a shirt and tie.

There ended up being 5 of us getting the medical exam. The hospital looked pretty clean but there seemed to be a lot of people waiting and I figured we were in for a long morning. Not so. Tony talked to someone briefly and we were fast-tracked directly to our thorough medical exam that involved taking some blood and a chest X-ray. As far as I can tell the medical exams main purpose is to screen for AIDS and hepatitis.

After that we made our way to HCT where we met with human resources and were shown around and whatnot. Without getting into too much detail, I'll say the facilities were phenomenal. I'm really looking forward to working there. Being given our relocation allowances, we headed to the bank to cash the checks. Since we had to hand in out passports temporarily until we can get our visas, Tony had to show i.d and sign the checks for us. The number of things that have been fast tracked for me here has lead me to believe (rightly or wrongly) that HCT has serious "wasta" (influence to get stuff done). Either that or Tony is one smooth talker.

Then he took us to a mall to let us scout out furnishings. Because I'm mostly done with that, I took that opportunity to scout out making my phone work. Here's the time for my rant. In breaking my phone contract with the mobile provider in Japan, I had to shell out about $400 US and turn in the SIM card. It wasn't until a day later that I realized the phone wouldn't work without the SIM card which means I could no longer access my schedule, contacts, or use the phone as an MP3 player or camera as I had been. Everyone else I was with had just brought their phones from their home countries and bought a new SIM card but my phone wouldn't accept one from outside Japan. That means I had to pay $400 for a phone that I no longer have any use for.

While everyone else was home furniture shopping, Tony took me around to get a phone. I was going to buy an i-phone but after seeing the $1000 price tag was on the fence until Tony got me to realize that there isn't a love affair with phones here like there is in Japan. Every phone in Japan has 100 millions functions that no one uses. From what I can tell, phones here seem about like shoes. Everyone needs them, but they don't give much thought to them. I have been asked for my mobile number and given the frowny face when I say I don't have one so many times here that I'm convinced your mobile number is almost like your national i.d. number. I settled for a phone that makes calls and has a fairly good camera on it and paid about a fifth as much as an i-phone (which I've heard are awesome). At least now I have a convenient way to take photos of freaky stuff I see here and post it.


  1. Great story so far. I look forward to reading more and to comparing arrival experiences. Fortunately, I won't be flying through Beijing. Looks like from the photo in the first post that you've adopted local grooming styles. Be sure to ask about face waxing when you visit the barber. I also see Minkeo has learned the value of an abaya. Did you use up your entire furniture allowance?

  2. Hey, Jeff! 'Memper me? It sounds as if your quest wuz successful! Wuz my contact helpful? The abays is discouraged and unneeded there...jes' a little bit of SPF 9000 lotion after yer first exposure. Seriously, she musta been out 'dere for a while to get dat dark...on th' other hand, knowing Aaron, my wife thinks that he's pulling another trick!

  3. Hello, Gary. Your contact was informative, thank you. Unfortunately, that institution didn't find my offer appealing. HCT did, though, and I'll be arriving in RAK this weekend. Hope to catch up with you and Aaron somewhere down the road. (Sorry for stepping all over your blog, A. Back to the story . . .)

  4. You could ask me to help you buy one goooood phone in Taiwan or Hong Kong...actually you can as I am going to HK in a month.

  5. I posted this here before, but it didn't make it into the comments:

    I haven't pulled ant tricks. Mineko really did get that tan line from one to two hours in the pool.

    @ Jeff We haven't spent our housing allowance but are working hard towards it. We've bought beds, a fridge, washer / dryer, stove, microwave, mobile phones and spent a little under half of it so far.


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