This is one of those strange things that sounds a lot easier to do than it is.
I originally handled this by exploding the character through this:
$array = preg_split('//u', $a);
This worked fine and the string was split into an array of unicode characters. The next part was converting it into a useful hexidecimal value.
$character = $array;
$value = hexdec(bin2hex($character));
I originally thought this was the way to do so – I was wrong, don’t do it. It turns out there is no real simple way to convert from UTF-8 to hex values. Instead, try the UTF8ToUnicode function here: http://hsivonen.iki.fi/php-utf8/
Include this function and use the author’s utf8ToUnicode function. It becomes simple then:
$value = utf8ToUnicode($character);
$value = $value;
I am only posting this because of the sheer amount of time it took for me to find this information. I hope it helps you out.