** In the style of my beloved boyfriend, I feel I must include a disclaimer to state that this post may include an unspecified amount of the following; moaning, complaining and/or whining – aka general negativity. With that in mind, I ask you to proceed with caution and give me your full forgiveness after I’ve let out all my steam. **
It’s been a busy couple of days for little old Sarah. I made my visa trip to Macau yesterday which was pretty uneventful as I was literally only doing a visa run. I got on the ferry at Sheung Wan, got off the ferry in Macau and then turned around and did it all in reverse without anything more than a peek outside the ferry terminal. I’m not a boring Betty or a sad Sarah (not all the time anyway) I just didn’t want to travel around Macau on my own on a grim day. So, I didn’t get many pictures.. The standard ‘I’m on a boat’ picture and a picture of the long ass bridge that you pass by. That is all. Hopefully I go back soon and get to gamble away some of my hard earned pennies. So that’s it – my visa is now active and that means I can apply for my Hong Kong ID card, exciting times.
Not so exciting actually. An hour of my day was taken up sat in a government building with few windows, and the windows that exist are covered in something which makes the day look even grosser than it actually is. Most of this hour was spent staring at a screen waiting for my number to come up. It was literally like waiting to die, except when the waiting is up I get a picture of myself looking half dead instead of actually dying. It wasn’t so bad really, they’re quite efficient despite the amount of people who look equally half dead sitting around you waiting for their number to be called. I expected it to take much longer. I got my thumbs scanned and my photo taken and a slip telling me when and where to pick my ID up. Easy peasy. After that I was done with sitting around and waiting until I realised I STILL need to set up a bank account to store all my hard earned dollars in..
Ergh. Banks. I’ve not had a great experience with banks in Hong Kong. My first attempt at setting up an account was last week when I went to Citibank. After closely inspecting all my documents the guy said I was fine to set up an account. He literally typed my name in and then said he needed to take my number and would call me when I could sign all the relevant forms.. this was a bit strange seeing as Paul set up his account on the day. A few days passed and I had no call, so I popped in uninvited. I explained my situation to the girl on the desks who then asked to see all my documents again. She basically started it all again, put my name in and then giggled and said ‘Ohh, you can’t apply, you will need to try a different bank.’ and handed my documents back. Uhh, what? It just so happens that my name is blacklisted, it’s not me, it’s not personal. It’s just my name is blacklisted. ‘You can try HSBC’ she said as I stood to leave.
So, I decided I would try HSBC, I walked 20 seconds up the road directly into HSBC who said that I needed an original copy of my work contract and that my driving licence is acceptable proof of address. ‘Fine’ I said ‘I’ll come back asap with my work contract.’.
I must admit, I didn’t want to go with HSBC as as I am an avid Googler I have found nothing but negativity for them in Hong Kong. But as Citibank was out of the question (hahaha) I was forced into it as it’s easier for me to have an international bank.
I went to the Causeway Bay branch of HSBC on my way back from Immigration and told them I want to open an account. The guy told me what I needed to open it ‘Hong Kong ID, Visa form, Proof of address.’
‘I have my passport and driving licence and my work contract’..
‘You need your HK ID.’
‘No I don’t..’
‘…Ok…. Show me your driving licence.’
This is where I started to get really annoyed. Common sense and logic went right out of the window. He started examining my driving licence, looking at my address. And then pointed out to me that he couldn’t accept it because the card doesn’t state that my address is my address. Here I will illustrate what he meant.
So, my address says number 8 next to it, however on the back there is no explanation for number 8. I have worked in a customer facing role and had to follow processes and sometimes it can be an absolute ball ache, so I was trying to be considerate to this guy. I should add, previously I had shown him a letter that had our permanent HK address on it and he was more interested in seeing my English address proof. Exasperated from trying to convince him I wasn’t holding a fake ID and that I had no other proof of my address he told me that it would be fine to use my HK address if I didn’t mind. Of course I don’t freaking mind, I live in Hong Kong now (this is the aforementioned moaning). So he said ‘Ok you can set up an account.’ to which I replied ‘Well where do I go?’ and he looked at me like I was crazy and said ‘You want to do it now?!’.
No guy, I’ve brought all my documents and argued with you about the validity of them for 20 minutes so that I can go home and try again tomorrow when I undoubtedly would get a whole new set of hoops to jump through. So he had me press a button to get a ticket and sit down and wait. More waiting. Another half an hour of staring at a screen. By this stage I was beginning to think I should just leave the country and never travel abroad again because hassle.
Eventually my number was called for a third time today and I was interrogated more than I was by immigration. Why do I want an account? How long am I planning on staying in Hong Kong? Have I recently Graduated? Do I have any friends here? In all honesty I think the last two questions were more small talk than actual bank
related questions but I can’t be sure because her tone was pretty formal throughout. She looked over my HK proof of address, my driving licence, my work contract and my passport. She read my whole work contract, I don’t think I have even read it all. She went and verified that it was all ok and was gone for 10 minutes where I was expecting someone to turn up to arrest me mistaking me for the blacklisted Sarah Allen that seems to have swindled Citibank. But that didn’t happen, she came back and processed everything and I was given a card then and there. And THEN after setting it all up she told me I need to deposit $2000hkd to complete my account. I was like 😐 wat. Paul has gone to China today and has left me with $1000hkd for the few days he’s gone and I have no other cash. I was crapping my pants a bit thinking she’d take my card off me and then I actually would be blacklisted for wasting the banks time. I told her I only have $1000 and I need it today and she laughed and said $1000 is fine and I can take it straight back out. Which was nice of her. Whilst depositing my money she then said I have to do an investment risk assessment questionnaire which I think was punishment for only depositing half the necessary funds. I obliged because I felt like I had no other choice.
I answered six questions about investing money and looked at graphs of investment portfolios and all stuff that I literally had no idea about, and she knew from looking at my work contract there was no way I was investing any of my huge salary.. It turned out I did really well in the questionnaire because there was zero risk that I’d make a bad investment as I answered the first question ‘How much of your net worth are you willing to invest’ with 0%. She then had me record my answers into her phone and I was free to go. I was there for over an hour.
I’m sorted now, I have my visa, will soon have my ID and my account is ready to go. I’ve let off all my steam and I feel that my body has physically relaxed during the typing of this post. I can now order a (healthy) take out and enjoy my lonesome night in. I’ll go back to enjoying myself here now, enjoy my ID photo.