Finally some sense of normality is returning to life. I’ve found a house in Charlton, London. It’s 45 minutes commute to work by tube (underground). My son is still waiting for a school placement from the local council though, it’s taking longer than I’d expected.
Newcomers will find it quite difficult to start anything here in UK because nothing seems to move without an address proof!
You want to open a bank account?
Show your address proof.
Your child needs to go to school?
You can’t apply without an address proof.
You want to rent a house?
Address proof please!
You can’t even register with GP (Local Doctor) without an address proof!
If you’ve just arrived in the UK, where are you going to get the address proof from? It’s like a Chicken and Egg story! I was lucky that I’d opened HSBC UK account from Hong Kong, which worked for my address proof. If you’re coming to settle in the UK, think about how you’re going to get an address proof ahead of time, that will save you from some unnecessary hassles.
BTW, I bought a new MacbookPro in Hong Kong just before coming to UK because it’s insanely expensive out here. I bought it for HK$15,400, the same machine is GBP 1299 in UK. It’s around HK$ 5K (nearly 300 pounds) more expensive. Not only Apple laptops, but everything is expensive out here. Anyway, I love my new santa rosa MacBook Pro. It’s refreshingly fast compared to my previous Powerbook. I wanted to use Parallels to install different OS in my MBP, but encountered a problem with WindowsXP installation. It gives an error message saying “Error loading \PrlSAShellExt.dll”, I tried to tweak several config and reinstalled twice, but no luck. Now I’ve turned to Vmware Fusion, and I’ve to say that it’s as smooth as silk. I’ve already installed WinXP, CentOS 5 and Ubuntu. Solaris 10 is next.
I was hoping to get my hands on 3G iPhone early, but as Steve Jobs announced, it’s going to be the same EDGE and need to wait until Nov. 9. One good thing though is that there will be free unlimited access to any of the O2’s 7500 wifi hot spots.
Most of the time local telephone calls in UK are more expensive than international calls – I don’t understand how the prices are fixed. I use pay as you go (prepaid card) from voafone, it’s 30 pence for first 3 mins and 10 pence there after. The telephone plans are charges are very confusing. In Hong Kong nobody cares about how long you’re talking, but here you need to be aware of minutes, pounds and pence.
You need to pay tax for watching TV. Yes, it’s illegal to keep a TV without paying for TV License, that’s of course separate from the cable bill.
Anyway, with all that said, overall I’m finding UK life quite interesting! Different culture, different people and different environment. It’s quite a change, and it’s a welcome change. Work is challenging and pay is not bad :). Most importantly, my son loves the new place!