NOTE: When all of this was happening, it felt horrible and stressful. Now it’s just another funny, crazy story. It’s okay to laugh.
Over a year ago I went on a trip to Hong Kong and forgot to write about the trip. So now I’m going to write (what I can still remember!) about what I experienced during that trip. Last January, I went on a trip to the Philippines and didn’t write about that as well, so that will be my next post.
When I was teaching in Korea, I had 1 week off during the summer and decided to take a last minute trip to Hong Kong for a few days. I didn’t have anyone to go with, so I was a little afraid to go on my own. When I’ve traveled internationally before, there’s always been someone to meet me at the airport because I was either volunteering or starting a new job. I never had to worry about what would happen if I got lost in a new country. Going to Hong Kong by myself would mean that I’d have to be totally independent.
The trip would have gone much better if I had actually planned things. And to be honest, I made a lot of mistakes. But the important thing is what I learned from those mistakes.
My first mistake was that I didn’t book hotels in advance because I didn’t know how long I’d want to stay in each part (there are several islands that make up Hong Kong, so it’s spread out), plus I figured it would be easy to find a hotel or hostel once I got there. The island that the airport is on doesn’t have a lot of things for tourists to do. There’s a huge Buddha statue, but that was really the only thing. I decided before I left that I would see the Buddha statue first, so the morning I arrived, I took a taxi to go see it. I’ll tell more about that later. So after I saw Buddha, all I wanted was a place to sleep, so a woman helped me take a bus to a popular hotel that she knew of. Of course it was much more expensive than a hostel, and just expensive in general, but it had a bed and I was happy. It was also attached to a really nice mall! The second day, I went to Disneyland, then figured I’d get a hotel on the next island, which was very small, but I still figured there would be a hotel somewhere. I walked outside of the train station and there was nothing. I went back inside and asked for help (luckily one of the official languages of Hong Kong is English), and I was told to take a minibus to a hotel. I walked outside to try to find the bus, but it was confusing and the bus never came. I asked several people for help, but no one else knew either. So I just kind of gave up and sat down in the middle of the parking lot. As I was sitting down, a man was walking past and asked if I needed help. I told him I was trying to find a bus to go to a hotel. He was finally able to help me find the correct bus stop, after asking several employees in Chinese. I got on the bus and was hoping to find my way to a bed. I got off at the last stop, and saw the name of the hotel. I walked inside and saw a man at the desk, and asked if a room was available. He didn’t speak English. I cried. Luckily a man walked in the door who did speak English, and I was told that this building is only apartments. I guess the same company owns the hotel and apartments. So I went to the hotel part and asked for a room. The hotel was full. I wanted to scream. They said there was a hotel next door, so I went to that hotel and got a room there. From that hotel, I used the internet to book a hostel for the next 2 nights. Don’t forget to research accommodation before you leave.. you may end up in a stressful situation.
Another mistake I made was the time of day I chose to fly into Hong Kong. I arrived in Hong Kong around midnight, and decided I’d just stay at the airport that night so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel. Apparently in the middle of the night is the best time to do construction in the airport. I got no sleep. Morning finally came, and I started getting desperate to get out of the airport and explore. So it’s 6 a.m., and I’m trying to get a taxi to take me to see the giant Buddha. Taxis were lined up outside the airport, so I got in one and he took me to see Buddha. I think it was around 7 a.m. when we arrived, so I got out of the taxi and started walking. There were very few people around, and suddenly there were a few (or maybe just one.. I can’t remember) dogs that started barking and walking towards me. My only thought was that if I get attacked, there’s no one here to help me. I quickly walked away and they left. Then I walked around for a bit, and followed a trail because there was a sign that said there was a youth hostel. I followed the trail, which looked like it came straight out of a horror film, and saw the hostel, but the gate was locked to get to it. I turned back around and left shortly after. There were some stairs that lead to the top of the giant Buddha, but they didn’t open until 10, and all I wanted was a bed. So don’t arrive to your destination at midnight and try to sleep at the airport.. you’ll end up wanting to do nothing the next day.
Another valuable lesson I learned was to check ahead of time what type of electrical outlet the country uses. I assumed it was the same one that Korea uses, and had a phone charger for that type of outlet. I was wrong, and because of that, my phone died and I couldn’t use it to try to find nearby hotels and hostels. When I arrived at the second hotel (the one where I had problems with finding the bus), there was a sketchy underground mall type of thing underneath the apartments, and they happened to have an adapter, so I was able to charge my phone and book a hostel.
I realize this all sounds like it was a horrible trip, but it wasn’t. It was a learning experience, and there were a lot of good parts as well. I went to Disneyland and had a great time there. The first day I stayed at the hostel, I met some new people, who were also in Hong Kong by themselves. One was from England, and one was from Germany. We went to a nearby Vietnamese restaurant together that evening and it was interesting to learn about them. I spent most of the days just relaxing instead of trying to run around and do every tourist-y thing. I did go to the major shopping area on one of the days, and it was great because it was what I thought of when I thought what Hong Kong would be like. I went on walks and just listened to music and looked around. On the last day, I took a train to the top of a mountain where you can see the skyline. The last 2 days were great, so that made up for all the craziness from before.
Before I write about my adventure in the Philippines, I’ll make another post with pictures from Hong Kong. That way you can get a visual of everything I saw!