Goodbye L.A. Hello H.K.

Filed in L.A. (Sept 2006), Travel, WorkTags: , ,

I'm back in Hong Kong, back home with my wife and our kids. It's great to be back although the trip back was a little sudden and rushed.

Before going to L.A., I was filming 寫意人生 at TVB. Because filming took longer than previously hoped, I had to delay my trip to L.A. until September 16. Furthermore, TVB had another series planned for which I would need to be back in Hong Kong by October 16 or earlier if possible. This placed strict limits on the time I could spend in L.A., but the trip was important to me; improving my singing technique is always on my mind; so I worked around the limitations as well as I could and left for L.A.

My time in L.A. with my teacher was fabulous. My teacher and I clicked immediately, as if we'd known each other for a lifetime and my learning was significant.

While in L.A., I received information from TVB that the new series was willing to guarantee six half-episodes of work for me. Previously, I had expected a higher guarantee. Six half-episodes is not a lot of work, and the series would still lock me down for six to eight weeks. It was then up to me to balance the potential benefit of staying with my teacher in L.A. for another four days against the possibility of losing my role in the new TVB series if they couldn't wait for my return.

Sometimes, it's that little extra time, that small extra push, that final extra effort, that makes all the difference. I felt this would be true for me during this trip and therefore decided to stay the extra four days with my teacher, four days because my teacher had to leave L.A. on October 19 to go to New York for the 17th Annual Cabaret Convention and various personal reasons.

On October 4, I sent an email to TVB informing them of my decision to stay in L.A. an extra four days, and that I would accept the new series if they could wait for me.

Those extra four days in L.A. turned out to be invaluable. With my teacher's help, I did something which will likely have significant consequences in the future, something that you will all learn about soon. I am absolutely confident that my decision to extend my stay was the correct one.

Two weeks after sending that email and two days before I planned to return to Hong Kong, I was sleeping soundly in my motel room (sleeping soundly was unfortunately very rare during my stay in L.A.). I had just finished my last cabaret workshop with my teachers and student friends and I was preparing for the inedible good-bye; happy nonetheless. My time in L.A. with my teacher had been wonderful and well worth the expense. At one-thirty a.m., I was awoken by the phone. It was my wife. TVB needed me back in Hong Kong by midday October 20, one day earlier than I was scheduled to return.

When we explained to TVB that I wouldn't be back in Hong Kong until October 20, they became upset. Understandable. Every time they plan any filming, a lot of people are involved; i.e., a lot of money. Trying to change anything for the sake of one actor is never a good thing.

I felt obligated to change my plans and leave L.A. immediately. I was moderately upset because I had informed them two weeks earlier of my plans to return to Hong Kong on October 20, but certain people at TVB are very talented at moving the blame to the artist. It was later discovered that an unfortunate misunderstanding at TVB resulted in my email being read but not forwarded to the relevant parties. Therefore, the producer of the new series was not made aware of my changed schedule.

Fortunately, I was able to suppress my feelings and think about the problem at hand logically. If I had reacted purely emotionally, I'd have stubbornly refused to change my schedule; partly out of defiance, and partly out of anger and retaliation at being manipulated. Instead, I realised and admitted to myself that my final day in L.A. did not contain anything essential to my trip. My last lesson with my teacher was to be a summary of what I had learnt and while valuable, it would not be indispensable. Other than that one-hour lesson, nothing else was planned for the day. It was therefore an acceptable trade-off to leave one day earlier (even though changing my flight would cost US$100 for which I would not be reimbursed).

At six a.m., I woke up and called Cathay Pacific reservations. We were lucky. There were available seats on that day's flight and I was able to move my flight one day forward. I was also able to reschedule my airport shuttle bus ride without financial penalty. Ten minutes later when my wife called from Hong Kong, I informed her of the situation and she was able to inform the TVB personnel who subsequently breathed a sigh of relief. Two hours later, I had packed all of my belongings and was ready to leave. I had just enough time to rush down to my teacher's home and say my final good-bye.

I caught a cab down to her home and asked the cab to wait for me outside. I couldn't afford to be late back to the motel. The airport shuttle bus was due to pick me up one hour later and I knew that it wouldn't wait for me should I be late. Cabs are few and far between in L.A. so it was better to have him wait for me than to try to call another one later on.

My teacher was getting ready for a special TV appearance; taking a shower and getting her hair styled. Ten minutes after my arrival, she came out to the living room to see me. It was difficult for both of us. We'd seen each other almost every day for a whole month and it was now time to go our separate ways. We had become great friends. Fortunately, the internet and cheap international phone calls from Hong Kong has made the world a much smaller place so we will never be far apart, and I believe that great things are destined for both of us.

From the motel, my ride to the airport went well. With me in the shuttle bus were several other Caucasians destined for China. Some of them had lived in China for two years and spoke Mandarin. It's always a happy thing to meet other non-Chinese who have taken the time and effort to learn one of the Chinese dialects. It's almost as if we belong to a special club.

The Cathay flight was delayed two hours, but that wasn't a bad thing. Because of the delay, we were each given a US$15 food coupon which I used to buy an authentic meat loaf meal and the last cappuccino I would consume at L.A.

The flight was painful. Fifteen hours in a seat just wide enough and with very little leg room (especially for anyone six feet tall or taller) is very difficult to endure. The movies are ok but not great. The Cathay video system is still the older one where you have to wait until all the movies have finished before you can begin to watch the next movie and there is no pause/rewind/fast-forward functionality. Additionally, when the person in front reclines their seat all the way down, the cheap LCD monitor with limited wide-angle visibility is lowered so far that it's almost impossible to view. If I was five foot eight inches tall, I'd probably be ok, but I'm six feet tall and I almost broke my neck trying to view the monitor. Japan Airline's video system is soooo much better.

The next day at two p.m., I was on location in Fenling 粉嶺 shooting my first scene from the new TVB series 獄焰驚情, almost feeling as if I'd never left Hong Kong.

Everything was back to normal, everything except for one thing: I was now a better person, an improved person because of the knowledge and talent passed on to me by a very special one-of-a-kind teacher. Thank you Peisha!

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22 Responses to “Goodbye L.A. Hello H.K.”
  1. Kayin says:

    TVB sounds really mean!!!! I feel sorry for you, Greg ...

    You know most of the actors at TVB nowadays walk around looking like zombies. Gosh it is so obvious TVB don't feed them well enough! How sad.

    You guys should get buffet dinners and five star hotels when you're filming on location.

    I doubt that'd ever happen.

  2. amy says:

    Welcome home!
    Reading your stories has always been a wonderful experience. I asked my students to read your weblog hoping that they could learn some authentic English, loving animals, enjoying life, having dreams and trying to make dreams come true ... and a lot more from you.

  3. Jason says:

    This was one of the best blog posts I have ever read. Your posts are awesome and well thought out. Thanks for writing.

  4. Emily says:

    Yeah I love reading that too... everytime you show up in the cartoon box I will scream out loud !!!

  5. Richard says:

    Glad you had a good time in L.A.

    Mind telling us a bit about 獄焰驚情? ;)

  6. Florence says:

    Hi Greg

    If you could even imagine and have the faintest memory who this came from.. Florence Chu, from UNSW, you were friend of Philip, Peter Brock and stayed at IH. I was in Baxter College and you worked part time there at the kitchen. I was your companion for your FIRST trip to Hong Kong, back in 80s (gee I can't even remember which year), we booked these cheap tickets which included hotel stay on Kowloon side (and I stayed home of course).. Yes your signature on your passport was already Ho Kwok Wing, and Leslie Cheung was your favorite cantopop star.

    I happened to see this broadcast msg on my google mail today and thought I should check it out.. Sorry I never had time to watch TV (except news in the morning) so didn't watch a lot of your works but I know somehow you are doing well and glad to know you've made hong kong your permanent home.

    I only keep in touch with a few friends from UNSW now. I just moved to San Francisco permanently. Will chat later ok?!?

    Florence

  7. Pegasus@Taichung says:

    Glad to know that you'd enjoyed staying in LA. Hope that everything goes well in the new filming.

    加油 (^o^)/

  8. Rachael says:

    Hi Kwok Wing,

    Good to know you had a great time in LA. Hope to see you singing in another TVB show. You did so well in Healing Hands 3.

    Rachael

  9. Jocelyn says:

    Wow, a little bit harsh by TVB. Never thought they would be that *strict* I guess. But I'm sure that the lessons u learned in LA u will remember forever. And the teachings that ur teacher taught u will forever be remembered by you.

    Goodluck with the new series, dont overwork yourself.

    Jocelyn

  10. Fiona says:

    Well guess I am not surprised at the way TVB works, that's how Asians work.
    We all come across hard decisions to make in life, whether big or small. I would have been extremely angry to TVB having given them 2 weeks notice.
    Hmmm... those poor tall people on plane seats, I can see how uncomfortable they are when i sit next to them.

  11. Tonia says:

    nice to see you back, back here, and back from your trip, wish you well on your new project.

  12. May says:

    hey,

    tvb sounds pretty rough but its good to hear that you're back in hong kong.

    thanks for the email reply, i really appreciate it.

    hope everything is going well and good luck with the series!

  13. Lynn says:

    You are just so admirable -- you are an actor with talents and a person with a positive attitude.

  14. Eunice Chan says:

    Invitation October 24, 2006

    Launch Party: FON is coming to Hong Kong!

    FON is the largest WiFi community in the world, and it's coming to Hong Kong. You are cordially invited to attend the FON Hong Kong launch party.

    Find out how Hong Kong people can become Foneros and share their broadband, in return for enjoying free WiFi at other Foneros' hotspots anywhere in the world. Some Foneros choose instead to generate revenue by "milking" their broadband rather than sharing it.

    At the party you'll also see - and take home - La Fonera, FON's own tiny wireless router. It is easy to install and will be the most affordable wireless router on the Hong Kong market

    When: Wednesday, November 1, 2006
    Where: Club 97, 9 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong
    What time: 6:00 pm

    The FON team will be on hand to demo the service as well as answer any questions. Blogger attendees will receive a free La Fonera wireless router and day passes to try the FON WiFi roaming service. Simply RSVP to this invitation and bring along a few business cards to qualify.

    Visit http://www.fon.com in the meantime to find out more about the FON proposition.

    RSVP - We look forward to seeing you!

    Eunice Chan
    eunice.chan@upstreamasia.com
    Tel: 2973 0222

  15. Sapphire says:

    I’m bored to death these days. Your negligence made me 有口難言 (unable to post comment).
    I thought I had done something wrong with my computer; I'm pleased in one way that it isn't my fault. Hehehehe…..

    Anyway, thanks for fixing the problem for me.

    FYI: I used “preview” for this submission.

  16. Sapphire says:

    Sorry! Forgot to ask you a question.

    How did you like the visual 鮑魚冬姑雞粥? Better than nothing? Hehehe....

  17. 蝦米 says:

    河生對三色台果然是重情重義! 雖然都聽到你有少少埋怨聲, 不過還是趕回來為他們拍戲,值得鼓掌...
    我想起三色台年年台慶都有個甚麼金針獎, 我諗何生都有機會拿這個獎吧! 加油哦! 不過思浩 他就沒有機會了.... 河生你應該認識他吧, 他跟你住同一區哦!

  18. gnap says:

    Hmmm... Communication breakdown can cause havoc sometimes... Especially when it involves email forwarding by busy people to other busy people, and then there are some people who don't read emails on time until it's overdue. Hopefully, TVB won't hold a grudge over this little delay.

    Good luck with your singing developments and getting back to work at TVB.

  19. Lee says:

    佩服你對歌唱的熱誠, looking forward for your performance! 加油!

  20. poniahmor says:

    stop whining

  21. Rabbie says:

    Hi Greg,

    I am a big fan of you! ^_^ I think you are a very very talented and great actor with excellent Cantonese. I hope to see you in your upcoming TV series!! Well done and add oil!!!!...Cant wait to see your next write-up in your blog...

  22. Rabbie says:

    Hi Greg,

    I am a big fan of you! ^_^ I think you are a very very talented and great actor with excellent Cantonese. I hope to see you in your upcoming TV series!! Well done and add oil!!!!...Cant wait to see your next write-up in your blog...