Moving back to Hong Kong is a surreal experience.
It's not like previous visits where the stay is only for a week or a few days. You are actually going to live here for a long time. Again.
There isn't much need to carry a map; you know where practically everything is, apart from a few shops or offices that have moved.
But it's different from Beijing where I have just came from, where everything is a fraction of the price of things here.
Which brings me to the dilemma of finding a place to live.
I have lived in a number of places in Hong Kong -- a relative's apartment in Pokfulam; another in Tokwawan; in the YWCA, Mid-Levels, Central and then finally Sheung Wan.
And now with a job in Central, I'm looking to find a place in Sheung Wan again, walking distance from the office and near some wet markets to get fresh (and cheap) produce to cook.
However, the hunt for a place is discouraging.
I arbitrarily pick a real estate agent's office in the Sheung Wan neighbourhood and when I tell them my price range for a flat, they tell me it's near impossible. To find a place under HK$8,000 ($1,028) is going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. Oh boy.
The agent shows me a place on Gage Street nearby. It's in an old building with a rickety elevator. Although the place was recently renovated, the bathroom still looks a mess -- why the inconsistency? -- and it's one small open space with a tiny counter and sink which is supposed to be a kitchen.
The place just had a bad vibe to it.
And the landlord was asking for over HK$8,000 for it. Right.
The agent later told me that the rents at the place I used to rent in Sheung Wan are now over HK$10,000 ($1,285). Aiya.
I keep forgetting that nine years have passed since I last lived here. Of course things are going to get more expensive, especially when it comes to Hong Kong.
I'm going to have to either shell out more for a place in the same area, or look further away from Central for a decent space. Or of course think smaller -- like the size of a matchbox.
As I said, it's a surreal experience being back, and having to remember that things cost more than what they used to almost a decade a go.
Time really does fly by...