So after a sad farewell with my family in China, I boarded my flight to Hong Kong, marking the commencement of travelling solo. Sitting next to me was a wealthy, middle-aged couple from America who confirmed the widely known fact that all Americans speak with a slow, Texan drawl. However surprise surprise, these two were from LA and were leaving Shanghai (China’s most modern city) early to seek some place more metropolitan (HK). They did, however, have only positive things to say about Hangzhou, and in particular the amazing light/water show on West Lake. I agreed and said how great it was to see such an awesome display every night for free, when usually everything tourist-y costs you money. This awkardly revealed that the couple had in fact paid a rather large sum of money to view the show from a special window rather than from the free seats right on the lakeside. So this made me realise how important it is to travel with locals you can trust (ie. In China, my family) and how easy it is to get ripped off as a tourist in this part of the world.
My 6 day stay in Hong Kong confirmed the advantages of travelling with ravel when I couchsurfed with two Hong Kongnese hosts. It allowed me to meet 8 locals (between 19-25yrs) and learn all about life in HK and also hear their different perspectives on the political climate there. I was taken to all their favourite places to eat or have a beer, where I was always the only foreigner. But they also showed me around the big tourist spots (like Kowloon, LFK, the flower street, the ladies markets..) so I really got to see it all. The big day trips were Ocean Park, Lamma Island and Macau. Ocean Park was so much fun of course, I don’t think you can go wrong at a place with giant roller coasters, pandas, dolphins and seals. At the top of the scariest ride I’ve ever been on, “The Hair Raiser,” there’s even a second before a huge drop to take in the beautiful view of HK and it’s outlying islands. Visiting one of those islands (Lamma Island) was also a fantastic experience. I don’t think many people realise how much opportunity there is for some great hiking around HK, but their missing out because the scenery is lovely, the water is bright turquoise, and there’s even beaches. Lamma Island is only a 40 minute ferry away from Central and it’s really worth a visit. Lastly, I visited Macau with my second host, Jackie, and we had such a fantastic time: visiting old churches, exploring the Guia Lighthouse, scamming heaps of free food near the St Paul’s Ruins, chilling at Hac Song beach, seeking out the famous Lord Stowe’s Bakery and indulging in a dozen delicious egg tarts and of course, checking out the casinos. Macau is the only part of China (including HK) where it’s legal to gamble, so everyday there are thousands of mainlanders flocking there to try and make it lucky. Once you get inside one of the casinos, you completely lose any sense of the outside world… they’re brightly lit all day and night, waiters walk around with free coffee and tea on tap in case you’re feeling tired and even the air smells really expensive, so I’m sure it’s also spiked with something that makes you lose money. Jackie and I didn’t really feel like losing thousands of dollars, so we didn’t gamble, but we did take a piss in the world’s most lavish bathroom.
My trip to Hong Kong ended with a flight to Delhi, where I would have a 7 hour layover before flying to Kathmandu. The flight itself was fine, but I was sitting next to a creepy guy who woke me up for no reason other than to ominously inform me that “Delhi is full of rape, even in the airport…” Yeah, thanks buddy, I know who I’ll be identifying in the line-up. During my layover, I realised it was Good Friday, so I celebrated by eating a Toblerone in the international transfer lounge of Delhi airport.