During my nine hour flight to Hong Kong on Qantas Airlines, I started to feel excited again and actually just a bit nervous. The old buzz of travel was back. Looking back on my trip thus far, the first part in Central & South America was great and somewhat different, but I am quite confident in my Spanish so it never felt that “foreign.” Plus, at different times over there, I had two friends meet up with me so I was never alone all that long. Then, I had been in Australia awhile and although I liked it, I think I yearned for something a bit more foreign. I could’ve been in any city, USA.
One of the things I love about traveling somewhere new and far is it can be so different and completely unknown. I feel I can learn and be exposed to so much. I almost always get a window seat on planes and love the excitement when we dip down through the clouds and I can see a new city from high above for the very first time. Unfortunately, it was foggy and getting dark when we flew in here, but I was still getting butterflies and had a renewed desire for adventure. Part of me was nervous too—you never know exactly how hard it might be to figure things out or if you’ll just get a good overall feeling.
But once I hit the airport, I went into my “independent traveler” mode: figuring things out, finding the right bus to town, getting cash at an ATM, and navigating my way to the city. They say “two heads are better than one,” but I’ve definitely noticed a big difference when I’m alone. I’m less distracted and don’t have to listen to anyone or discuss anything with anyone—I can just look around and find what I need to find and go where I need to go. I seem to use more of my brain which makes me focus better and faster. Perhaps one head uses 50% of its power, whereas two heads together probably each only use 25% because of the other distractions. So, in essence—I think I’m just better alone. I guess I’m not really traveling alone because I brought my “better half” with me—my brain.
I’m already in love with Hong Kong. After a long nine hour flight from Sydney, I was tired to say the least. Although, I did watch four movies back to back (to back to back!) on the flight which certainly helped the time, er, “fly.” I’ve never really been able to sleep in cars or planes (the sitting up thing just doesn’t work for me) so having movies to watch is always a bonus.
I dropped off my bags and checked into the Sealand House, a small eight room hotel on the cheap end for Hong Kong at just $38 a night. I have my own room and my first private bath in a couple months. Once I got into my room, I could see why it was inexpensive—the room is literally the size of my master bathroom back home. The double bed just about takes up all the floor space except where the door swings into the room. But I am NOT complaining—it’s clean, bright and, although the smell reminds me of my grandmother’s closets (mothballs), I like it.
After a long day, I normally would just crash and start fresh in the morning. But after riding the double decker bus from the airport down bright and busy Nathan Road, I was excited to just take a little walk around my famous neighborhood—Tsim Sha Tsui (pronounced Jim Sa Jui) in Kowloon.
As I walked up the street amidst the masses, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. It was 9pm on a Wednesday night and all the stores were still open and people were out and about enjoying the mild night air—shopping, eating, and just generally cruising. It was great.
I liked this so much better than Sydney and Melbourne where all the stores literally shut their doors at 5pm every day. Here, the shops don’t close until 10:30pm every night, some are even open ‘til midnight. There are tons of sparkly jewelry stores, clothing stores, and literally every other store is a cosmetics & perfumery. I already got stopped by a couple guys trying to hawk their tailor’s custom made suits.
“We can make you a very nice suit. You like?” The hawker asked as he shoved a card of suit pictures in my face.
For some reason, I decided to only speak Spanish to them. This was a fun way to avoid the inevitable nuisance.
I love my new anonymity. It’s not like I was a celebrity in Australia, but for some reason, my American accent made me stand out in an odd way. Of course here, the way I look makes me stand out even more. But I could be from anywhere… just not Asia, well or Africa. Plus Hong Kong is a very worldly city. People are from everywhere, and thanks to the long time it was under British rule—English is everywhere. From my short little stroll I can see the city is clean, feels safe, and is so bright and lively… I can’t wait to see more.