Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Kung Hei Fat Choy, expat behaviour with a dash of Ichthyosis

Living in an Asian city, I, among with a whole lot of other people are lucky enough to celebrate not just one, but TWO New Years! Oh yes we do. The first one is with everyone else and the second one is a massive affair. You know it's Chinese New Year when the firecrackers go off at any given moment, and lion dances are enthusiastically banging their cymbals to dragon dances lining street corners and kicking out evil spirits from houses and workplaces. You also know it's Chinese New Year when the supermarkets and shops are busier than normal, with locals filling up their homes with what I can only assume is food and drink for this festival is also a massive family reunion and eating fest. And it's no secret that sometimes, our bank balances increases too!

Being of the 'local but expat' crew, celebrating it means a break from normal life though the first world problems start flowing in on day one. We don't really do the whole family reunion thing. Grannies, grandpas, aunties and uncles, cousins, in laws, it's incredible how people fit so many into an airing cupboard of a HK flat!!

Well for me at least, with our lot in Hong Kong and the rest of the family in the UK, it makes for a difficult CNY get together! While we watch the lion dances and clap ears over loud firecrackers, nothing much else happens. What do you do?

Living here, people take advantage of that shops are open at almost all hours. They are actually closed on Chinese New Year. Because staff need a holiday too! It's funny, here I'm used to being able to pop 5 minutes (or maybe 15) into town and enjoy a bowl of wonton noodles at say, 10pm if I really wanted to. I remember being either in Vancouver when I wanted something late at night, likely food. I had to slap myself and remind myself that I wasn't in Hong Kong. I have flipping Reeses Peanut Butter cups. Not exactly dinner! I actually don't like them much! Not everywhere in the world is awake 24/7. There are places where places close for whole days and therefore, people have to prepare, I remember being in Germany as a young child, almost appalled when I found out nearly all the shops were closed on a sunday. I just wasn't used to the idea of relaxing and having to do ones shopping and errands  before Sunday. I bet you, hong kong  would have a field day if every shop was closed on a Sunday! But thankfully, this year at least, enough shops were open for HK to not have to ring the Good Samaritans hotline for emotional shop-closure support!!

I want to also touch on HI and hospitals and medications. Now, in Hong Kong, ichthyosis is around, but maybe not very well discussed. I've been on urea cream, petroleum jelly, Vaseline and things like that for a long time. I get all this from the local hospital and if I had to put a price to it, I'd say each time I collect my creams that will take me through maybe 4 months, will cost me just under 10 US dollars. That's a freaking bargain to me. Because my medical care is handled by the HK Public Health Care system, all my  medical care is semi subsidized by the Government. I still pay a small amount, but it doesn't really burn a dent in finances. But because of that, I get a universal kind of petroleum jelly and my medications are not specific only to my condition. Sometimes the quality of my cream sucks because it doesn't feel quite as nice as expensive Vaseline, but for what I pay, I cannot complain! 

I had heard of Aquaphor from people in the States as a choice of cream for helping to soothe ichthyosis. I wanted to get hold of some in Hong Kong to try and see if it would work for me. I can't get this through my hospital for some reason...I tried so hard! Luckily, my dermatologist (lovely lady, she likes me, let's see how that goes in a few years!) knew exactly what I was talking about when I told her I wanted to try AquaPhor. She just said, it's hard to get on the public system. Cue grumpy expat kid behavior. I have scoured American stores throughout HK with some hope of finding Aquaphor, but gave up until this month, I came across it quite by chance in another US store on HK island. It was in a megastore called A and M American Groceries, (whadya know?!)

I saw this along with Cereve cream and knew I had to grab one of the two jars of Aquaphor. I'll deal with Cereve later on! I bounded down the street after buying it (and declaring my wallet bankrupt in the process, it costs double in hk compared to 'Murica). I eagerly opened it up so that I could start using it and let's just say, when I saw it, my first thought was "oh for f$&k's sake!", I thought I bought an overpriced version of Vaseline, which it did resemble. These are my thoughts on Aquaphor:-
- it resembles Vaseline,
- far oilier than what I was used to
- stuck to everything, unlike my other stuff
- expensive as fudge

I have decided though, to continue using my regular stuff but use the Aquaphor more sparingly instead of lashing it on everywhere. I can't deal with creaming windows as well!

I'll be back with more next month! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!



  1. Hi Mui - saw this linked from DB and thought I'd have a read - very entertaining! I use emulsifying oitment (which is a base that pharmacists use) which I find less greasy than Vaseline, but OMG gets in and on everything! Looking forward to your next post/cream review :)
    Laura from Bermuda

  2. Have you ever tried Vanicream? I don't have HI so not sure if it's exactly what you're looking for but its pharmaceutical grade and darn good stuff! (Also, it's so great that you're becoming a ref! Very cool!)

  3. Although self-help measures won't cure ichthyosis, they may enhance the appearance and feel of harmed skin. This Ichthyosis Natural Treatment may be beneficial.