After deciding to move on from the security and familiarity of Indonesia, with its blue sky and clean air I took myself to Kuala Lumpur. I chose the wrong time to go to KL as it had been suffocated by smoke from the burning fires of Sumatra. The smoky haze was a reminder of London on a very depressing day.
After two nights I decided I was done with KL. On that second morning after I packed my bag I sat myself down and picked a country that was not on my plan (by plan I mean the one I vocalised a lot which went something like “…yeah I’ll go for a month and visit some countries in South East Asia, you know maybe Vietnam, Cambodia…”).
My chosen place was, Hong Kong!
Without doing any research I booked the cheapest flight and secured what I thought was a good deal on a hostel. I went to the airport, got on a plane, met an awesome coach from Malaysia, survived the crazy turbulence and had my new friend laugh at me as I finally realised where I had arrived.
As we approached the city all I could say was, “WOW!”
He said, “did you not know Hong Kong was like this?”
I was embarrassed. Of course I knew Hong Kong yet I had not even prepared myself or had a visual of the city. I was literally a happy wanderer willing to get on a plane to a country I had not even planned on going to. Despite my embarrassment, in that moment I felt like a child seeing something new or amazing for the first time. Now that is a special feeling.
This trip reminded me of how much I love giving myself ‘wow’ moments and that without them we lose our innocence, our imagination and our appreciation for what we already have and for those things we have no clue about.
South East Asia’s random act of kindness 5:
While waiting at Hong Kong airport for my flight to Thailand I met a Taiwanese man named Hoffen. We chatted after I had asked him about where I could charge my phone. He offered me his portable charger so we started chatting about life, my travels, his dreams etc. When I had to go to my gate I thanked him for the charger and handed it to him. He told me I could keep it as he had many and that I would need it more than he did. I was really touched.
When you are without the people who usually take care of your needs, such as your family or close friends having a complete stranger give me something such as this made me feel even more protected and safe than I usually felt.
It is these gestures of kindness that really make a difference when you travel. It is this giving nature, whether it is being given a tangible object or not, that leaves you feeling cared for. That a gesture, however small can ooze out a genuine kindness that has no expectations of something in return. A sense of care and thoughtfulness for your fellow neighbour. It made me feel safe and protected and never alone. For me this simply was another form of feeling ‘at home’. So, when I was given something that would make my travels easier whether it was a word or a helping hand, I just felt as safe as I would feel sitting in my cosy room in London.
Thank you to Hoffen, the kind Taiwanese man I met at HK airport for this lovely gesture!
Drama in Hong Kong
When I got to Hong Kong despite my joy of being in this cool city I was given a culture shock or it could just have been pure bad luck and something out of a movie. The hostel that I was convinced I had booked existed under many names so I was confused as soon as I had arrived. The man who was at the reception area was extremely rude to me and other travellers and refused us the rooms we had booked. Being shouted at and called a ‘mad woman’ was quite comical. I won’t lie I did try to come across quite authoritarian when he kept yelling that I had not booked a room and shutting the curtains in my face. One thing I have learnt travelling alone was the need to be direct and strong in the way I communicated to some of the men I met as there were many times I could have been ripped off or treated horribly. We eventually called the police.
This was not the first night I had imagined in Hong Kong. I was sweaty, tired and just hoped he had not taken my money. We eventually went somewhere else. Despite its simple nature and bed sheets that gave me shivers I told myself this is the best you can get at midnight. I was glad to just shower despite it being the smallest toilet I had to use to shower in. For those not use to budget travel showering in the toilet is normal. It consists of a toilet, possibly a sink and a shower head over the toilet. If you are lucky you get hot water too.
Hong Kong felt really familiar. It is a city after all and I am a city girl. With its great transport links and clear directions I moved around easily. Of course it is not cheap and for a vegetarian like me I found it hard to find cheap vegetarian food. I remember my last morning there I could not help taking myself to an Italian restaurant and having a healthy breakfast despite how much it cost.
How I got around
I used the site below to plan my adventures in Hong Kong and found it really useful. I would list my activities for the day and simply make sure I did as many as I could.
I prioritised what I wanted to do and just spent the whole day doing it. It was great and although I was there for only about 4 days I saw a lot and had a fun packed HK experience.
Hong Kong in Pictures
Nice strolls along Avenue of Stars
Beautiful views from Tian Tan Buddha
Spontaneous Comedy Night on Hong Kong Island
Amazing views of HK from The Peak
Epic trek along The Dragons Back
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Next Happy Light Traveller blog post: Luxury Treat in Phuket