Friday, January 18, 2013

Thinking that you can just learn 3 cantonese words and just walk in to a local restaurant-o-fastfood is very naïve. Of course, most places, especially on the Westerner-infested Hong Kong Island, have english-speaking waiters, but not where I live. Here you can find authentic chinese restaurants with authentic people who can't speak English.

Anyway, so a guy walks into a restaurant and tries to order using the 3 words, "chicken", "meat" and "rice". It does not work. Instead, he is showered with more questions regarding the type of sauce, the colour of rice and more. The foreigner does not even manage to say "I don't understand".

Fortunately, there was a guest who could speak some English. And when I tried it again in another place, they had a friend on the phone. No starving for that day at least!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

So it begins

Right now, as I'm writing, I'm sitting on a plane to Hong Kong where I'm going to work in iPatrolTech.  It's the result of about 4 months of planning and some paperwork and I got the idea that I should change something as early as March 2012. Before that, I was working in a small company in Olomouc. The work was interesting and I was (hopefully still am!) friends with most people there, had fun and everything was comfortable. But I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone while I was still young, so I quit and started looking for new opportunities.

The people in the company understood and before I left, they asked me to tell my friends about the free programmer position. This, unexpectedly, was a great lesson for me.  Their product (MoNET) is not (yet) very famous, but it's quite interesting and can do things that few others can duplicate.  It allows you to create an information system, complete with web, desktop and Android GUI within mere days. And as I said, I liked the company, so I didn't hesitate about trying to find someone for them. I put an ad on the job board at two IT universities in Brno and told about it to everyone I met. And I really didn't expect that I would not find anyone. Even people who didn't appear too bright turned the offer down.  You can see it on the internet every day that there is a shortage of programmers, but as with many things, experiencing > hearing. Now I know much better how valuable my skills are. And, if you're a programmer near Olomouc and would like a full or even flexible part-time job, fire up your email client and let me know at!

Let's get back to the plane now. Before I get dinner, which should be marinated lamb with basmati rice, I'm going to describe how I even got the job in HK. My first idea was to get an internship or a job in Sillicon Valley, but soon I found that the H1B visas are already all used up until September 2013, so I had to accept that I'll have to visit the IT Mecca some other time and that I need to start looking somewhere else. Europe, to me, seemed not very interesting. I asked some people from the GE Foundation Scholar-Leader programme for some ideas and they referred me, among others, to an organization called KOPRA. There I found an ad from a startup in HK and that's when the idea first came to my mind. I applied, got a reply, but it didn't work out. But the idea of working in HK was already there. I already visited Singapore for a few days and HK is another Asian tiger. As I was learning kung-fu, Hong Kong seemed to be a very interesting place to live in for a few months. The first company didn't accept me, so what should I do now? Well, of course, start spamming all the others! But to be honest, I first needed some encouragement from my friends, especially from Aleš. But then I started searching, writing to all sorts of places with the idea that I wouldn't stop until I knew it was impossible.  And then I found iPatrolTech, a stealth startup in the Science Park...

I think I would not have the courage to leave my home and go for half a year to literally the other side of the world if I hadn't made a few intermediate steps.  First, I went on Erasmus in Vienna. That meant living away from home for almost half a year. Last year I went to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, which gave me at least some familiarity with Asia.

I'm looking out of the window and hope to see the Himalayas. But it seems we are too far south from there. The altitude is about 11 km and it's not particularly warm outside the plane, only -58 degrees Celsius. We are approaching Hong Kong at the speed of 918 km/h. HK here I come!