We’ve spent the last week immersed in the culture of Hong Kong, one of the most energetic cities we’ve ever visited.
Lost in a sea of people that look and sound nothing like me, I was instantly captivated by this part of the world. I was fascinated by a language I can’t speak; the mouthwatering spices I’ve never tasted; the suffocating crowds marching in every direction; the politeness shown by locals; and the list goes on.
I found Hong Kong to be a city of contrasts.
It’s an urban metropolis made up of towering skyscrapers that make you feel small. Yet take a bus up Victoria Peak, and you’re transported to a quiet jungle surrounded by mountains.
The streets and metros are unbelievably crowded, but somehow everyone walks in the same direction. It’s the most organized chaos I’ve ever witnessed.
Home to over 7 million people, you’d think traffic would be a nightmare. Yet the public transportation system is incredibly efficient.
Sometimes you look up at decaying apartment buildings and wonder how people can live in them. How haven’t those fallen apart? Then on the next street over, you find a massive Loui Vuitton store.
The city is quite compact, or at least that’s what we’ve heard, but boy, does it take a lot of walking to get where you’re going. Crossing the metro station was a 15-minute ordeal at times, and that was just the start of it. Add to that another 5-minute walk through the giant mall attached to the metro station. Then a few more city blocks before you reach your final destination.
For us, Hong Kong felt like one massive maze of a city, which we had the pleasure of getting lost in.
Deciding to spend a full week there was the best decision we could’ve made. We were able to hit the main tourist points as well as off-the-beaten track locations.
Guil and I stayed with a friend from back home in the Kowloon area. We were given us loads of priceless tips, and we even joined a group of his friends for a daylong hike.
Hiking, we learned, is the sport of choice for Hong Kongers.
There’s no shortage of trails in the surrounding mountains. We’re so glad we were able to experience one, especially since we were with a group of expats that call Hong Kong home, a bunch of which were from Brazil. It was intriguing to hear about daily life from them and witness the sense of camaraderie built between a group of people thrown outside their comfort zone in a country that’s drastically different than their own.
Really though, how cool must it be to be an expat?!
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with our first stop in Asia. Even after six months traveling together, we still got it. We’re still as curious as ever, motivated to experience as much as possible in the short amount of time we have.
It’s funny that we began our time in Asia so comfortably, staying in our own room at a friend’s beautiful apartment. It seems we begin each leg of our trip this way — in a clean, safe environment well within our comfort zone. In Europe, it was Guil’s family apartment in Paris. In South America, it was his dad’s home in Rio de Janeiro.
Our trip usually gets a lot more interesting after that first stop. If you’ve backpacked before, you know exactly what I’m talking about!
Stay tuned for a blog post about our full itinerary in Hong Kong. Can you guess what our next stop will be?
Southeast Asia, I’ve never been more ready to meet you.