Ok, ok, ok. Here it is.
To everyone who’s emailed asking how things are, thanks for your
concern curiosity. Instead of emailing everyone1 I’ll write a blog post; this one.
So much has — and is still — happening it’s difficult to make a cohesive written testimony of it all, so bear with me.
28 hour flight
To fly from Malaysia to Houston, it takes ~28hrs. I have a low tolerance for airplane travel, due mainly to 99% of my travel experience being on AirAsia. AirAsia is a low-cost airline, so they squeeze more people on reducing legroom; give you nothing unless you pay for it; and if you take the midnight flight in an attempt to sleep through the discomfort, they wake you every couple hours to
offer sell you stuff. But they are cheap…
Luckily for us, we were treated to business class for this trip, which made things a whole lot better. In saying that, we were still stuck in a giant vibrating tin can for more than a day so while the comfort was greatly improved over my previous flying experience, it was still balls.
We selected our specific flight to avoid LAX on Tori’s heartfelt warnings, and fly straight into Houston. The good news is George Bush airport was pretty quiet and immigration was a smooth process. Probably the best thing for people who’ve been travelling for over a day. Much appreciated.
The takeaways for this part of the story are: we made it, and Doha is a cool-looking city when coming in to land.
In the 20 minute ride from the airport to our temporary accommodation “Downtown”, or in Downtown, which is an actual name of an area and not a general “I’m going (in the direction of) downtown”, I saw trucks. Lots and lots of trucks. And by trucks I mean pickups (utes). And there were lots of them. And they are big. And many.
I’m sure everyone knows of my strong desire to (finally) own and drive a VW GTI. Well, in that 20 minutes I was questioning my desire for a vehicle which dimensions were smaller than the average house.
After a week though, I’m back on track. VW GTI FTW LOLZ!
Look, real Americans!
We flew in Friday afternoon, so naturally we went out for some grub in the evening. As stupid as it sounds, I was enjoying overhearing conversations in ‘American’ :) (We had pizza, nothing too exciting to report here).
Bigger is better
Most stuff in Texas is bigger. At the pizza place, they poured Kelly a wine, and it was large. We were brought glasses of water each, which were bigger than a standard pint back home. Quite a bit bigger. Everything is big, so the rule we’re living by is: If you don’t know the size, err on the side of small. Don’t go for medium; small is pretty big in most cases.
It’s funny to hear ‘faucet’ on the telly.
Speaking of which, there are so many ads on normal TV, it’s uncanny. When we occasionally returned to Australia while living in Malaysia, I was distressed by the amount of advertising on TV; we’d been weened of ads with pay TV in Malaysia. But here in the US, it’s unwatchable. Our TV is currently set to AV, with an iPod dock hooked up. The TV doesn’t get used other than for music.
Here comes the Imperial system
This will take some getting used to, although I’m starting to get a hang of the weather conversions. Still to come are fluid ounces, normal ounces, and miles.
The first weekend
As mentioned, we arrived on Friday. For Saturday, Kelly had organised for our relocation manager (!) to take us out and get some bank accounts set up and
mobile cell phones working.
Cami took us around to Bank of America (we could choose which bank we preferred, but with zero USA experience we went with the obvious), and then to AT&T for our phone plans. I’d selected AT&T based on research as any thing digital is my responsibility2 We set up our numbers, and I furthered my true American status by selecting a number with ‘555’ in it.
On Sunday Leslie took us out house hunting around the Montrose area. We saw maybe six houses and decided on one. Leslie went nuts for the next few days and by Friday we’d signed a lease. Leslie was real.
The first week
Kelly went to work on the first Monday to meet her new team, and worked the entire week. My job in this time was to accept delivery of the hire care, do reconnaissance on the new area and find out what’s around, and to organise some boring things like car insurance, contents insurance, car finance etc etc. Which, being a creative and visual person, I fucking hate (not to mention I’m not really good with this stuff — to much organisation for my). But in all fairness, life could be much, much worse.
So far I’ve found two
cafés3 coffee shops, one of them decent. A coffee shop in my eyes is a place which serves a proper latté and cappuccino, and by proper I mean with an espresso machine. You cannot ask for ‘coffee’, ‘cos you’ll get a good ol’ cup of Joe. You need to find a good place, and ask for a your drink by name.
I’ve also found a tennis court really close to our place with a tennis wall, but unfortunately the net is way too low for decent play.
We’re moving to Montrose, in inner Houston. Houston is BIG (see above for what things in Texas are), and consists of an inner and outer loop of highways. We live inside the inner loop.
This area is a lot nicer than either of use had expected. Think Brunswick, or Parkville, but bigger. It’s very green, and the streets are very suburb-y, which we like. The part of Montrose we’re moving to we like to think is a bit ‘edgy’, in so far as some low-cost housing is right behind us, bringing an element of ‘character’ to the neighbourhood, which we’re ok with. We’ve lived amongst it before, the difference being in Australia there’s little chance of getting shot in the face during a mugging. Probably prefer to be shot in the face than stabbed in the face. See what happens, hopefully I won’t be reporting on a related incident from a hospital bed any time soon.
Jetlag is a bitch. It took us a full week to go back in time 13 hours. I was waking at 3am for most of first week, and later began to go back to sleep for another couple hours. Turns out this isn’t such a bad way of doing things.
What’s weird is no people we actually know (at this point) are awake at the same time we are. Everyone’s ahead of us by half a day, which means we need to make (much more of) an effort to pre-organise Skype calls with friends and family. Just seeing if people are ‘online’ is no longer appropriate.
So there you have it folks, my Texas update. I don’t know how often I’ll be blogging because, to be honest, it’s not such a big culture shift from Australia. Malaysia was very different, and it’s when I started my blog; it was all exciting! I’m excited to be in the US also, but just dont feel the need to write about is as much. *shrug*
I have been Instagramming a lot though — it’s my way of lazy-blogging. If you want to keep a lazy eye on what we’re doing in Houston, I’d suggest following me on Instagram.
Signing off for now…
- Kelly’s still gonna do this I believe, but she at least has an excuse for the delay in correspondence. I also have one, but it ain’t as legit as Kelly’s. ↩
- Although Kelly has been smashing Google Maps lately, and especially making custom maps with points of interest (potential places to live) on them. Pretty impressed. ↩
- Ok, I’ve been crossing out the Aussie names for things and replacing them with the US versions: tap/faucet, mobile/cell, café/coffee shop. I think this is good. I will try and keep my Aussie/English spelling of things though — who the hell spells cheque without a Q?! ↩