I know you crowd won’t settle for some vague and veiled account of what went down last week, so in the interest of keeping you happy and in the spirit of telling it like it is, I’ll lay out the the gory details. You already know about walking into a construction site instead of a sparkly Swiss abode last Monday. Well, here’s what happened from there.

The movers finally left about about 7 Monday evening and any hope of finding an open grocery store went with them. Foodless, phoneless, Internetless, hopeless. Salvation arrived when our friends Anne and Michel stopped by for a visit and gave us the number for a local pizza place. In the discussion about what to order, I heard Neil say “as long as there’s no anchovies or anything fishy, I’m fine.” In 10 years together I’ve never once heard him say that, so naturally what was delivered was a pizza covered in sardines. Of course that little mistake was discovered after the pizza boy and our friends with their handy cell phone were long gone. Who got our delicious veggie pizza remains a mystery.

Like the misbehaved brats we are, we went to bed without supper and, as promised, at 7 a.m. the next day a slightly surly Swiss painter was rolling the kitchen ceiling. The electrician made his appearance at 8 and by 9 I was hanging by the door desperately hoping for a sketchy guy selling valium to appear. The day was pure chaos with little unpacking progress and again little food.

Despite our exhaustion and body odour, we dusted ourselves off and dragged our raggedy arses down to the Chinese restaurant. As we walked, we planned out our whole meal so by the time we got to the door we were two columns of drool. And, quite unfortunately, that door was locked. On that same door was a sign: “Hong Kong City! Open Every Day! (except Tuesday).” Oh the humanity.

We were far too tired and demoralized to go searching for another restaurant so we trudged back home, ate canned corn and fell into bed thinking tomorrow will a better day. And it was—until about 1:30 a.m. when our next door neighbour and his frat boy buddies stumbled home to play video games or do whatever it is that makes those guys howl with laughter until 4:30 a.m. New to the country and the building we didn’t know the proper way to deal with it beyond fantasizing about ways to kill him.

Apartment living, especially at street level where we are, will require noise tolerance, something we realized at 6:45 a.m. when the garbage trucks rolled up to empty the giant steel containers apparently situated very near our headboard. Coming from rural France where you might hear the odd moo or cluck, this was quite an initiation. But who needs more than 2 hours sleep when there’s so much work to be done?

The next day was more of the same. An internet kit that arrived in the mail—joy! Except we needed a phone to set it up and we needed the internet connection to get our phone line working. The kitchen was still not finished, the washer and dryer were stacked in the hallway, we had no lights and don’t even get me started on the state of the toilet seat. Then we discovered that Rusty’s beloved BBQ won’t fit a Swiss gas tank. And the giant bedroom window faces the street as does my pasty arse since we have no curtains. All easy to deal with when there’s a Wal-Mart on every corner, but when you land in a new place and have no idea where to find stuff, there tends to be a lot of time spent chasing your own tail.

Anyhoo, there were dozens of other small snags and snafus (some still pending) but by last Thursday night things were looking decidedly up. The fridge was accessible and a bottle of wine was chilling. Spring rolls and steamed dumplings had been consumed and the neighbour and his posse had settled down. And by Friday morning the Internet appeared as did a phone.

There’s still enough left to do to make my head spin. Bottom line: I’m officially a victim of international transition. But I like to think good wins over evil every time. You’ve heard enough of dark clouds, stay tuned for the silver linings.