Sanjida Akter Tanny shares her experience as a solo-traveller walking through the streets of Hong Kong, the City of lights
Hong Kong was my first ever solo trip outside the borders of Bangladesh. Although this was a business trip, it lasted for about 2 weeks giving me enough window to explore the megacity of high-rise buildings and tastiest dumplings.
I have always been a ‘city-gal’. Flashing decors, LED lights, foot overbridges, shopping malls, bookstores and coffee shops at every nook and corner has always been an attraction point to me so, I was already looking forward to my trip back in November 2018. Since I had my colleagues staying there already, I was aware of the few necessities that I had to take care of while travelling, the metro rail routes, the Octopus card, food to be expected. Umbrella was a must because Hong Kong weather can vary within the range from Zeus’s wrath to as nurturing as Ceres). Ok, maybe not Zeus, I exaggerated, but you get my point! And of course, one should already know that getting an Airbnb apartment within 170 square feet range, is a blessing.
The two things that were missed out until I arrived were, walking shoes and a water bottle. Now given I was on a business trip, I carried more formal pumps with heels (in my defense, I am short) instead of walking shoes. I am really glad that I am of those who travel with flat sandals on air, because the minute I was in the Hong Kong Island (which is about 15 minutes ride from the airport via metro), I knew my legs were up for a two-week workout.
Hong Kong, as beautiful as it is, what makes it more interesting as a city is its steep streets, justifying its name as an island. Now to make your route easier, they have definitely done a marvellous job on building stairs but as you have already figured out, the stairs are no less steep either.
As funny as it sounds, my first encounter with these stairs had me holding the wall to go downhill while I was in my heels. I was feeling adventurous. Now of course, with the upcoming days, I had become more accustomed to walking around in my precious regular footwear which was flats and flip-flops. The other element I picked up a little later was the water bottle. If you want to stay fit during your travels, staying hydrated should be one of your top priorities.
Being a well-developed metropolitan city with an infrastructure that allows you (or in other words, imposes) to walk around a lot, I was then learning to value every little drop of water that had cost me more than other beverages. Not to mention, unlike native Bangladesh, this city did follow zebra-crossing rules, which means, you can cross the roads from particular spots only. Side note for the readers, getting into the habit of walking every day before any trip will always be a plus point for new travellers.
All of this being mentioned, it is unfair to miss out on how wonderful Hong Kong can also be for a tourist. Even if you are only stuck within Hong Kong Island with barely more than 3 days, it is highly suggested to, at least, visit the Victoria Harbor on a less cloudy day; some people may even stress claiming, you haven’t been to Hong Kong if you haven’t been to Victoria Harbor. Although there are various modes of going to the Victoria Peak which may include a hike, peak tram, taxi, green minibus, the fastest and ‘easy-on-pocket’ is the regular bus route. That’s right, that is exactly what I went for, and I must admit, it was worth the time and every dime I spent that evening. The ride uphill, the walk around, the height and the spectacular view! Victoria peak does justice to the Hong Kong skyline.
However, if you do have time in hand, it is highly recommended to use the tram. The ride and the queue to get a ticket will definitely be the biggest challenge, but the view is worth every second you have waited. Once, again, important things to carry are your umbrella, water bottle, and walking shoes. November 2018 has definitely been my best travel record.
Fast forward November 2019; As I sit here comfortably in my home of about 2500 square feet, I realize how much I have taken things in my life for granted. My food, coffee, and of course, water. It has been about less than 360 days since my visit to one of the most beautiful and happening cities in the world. However, the number of lessons it has taught me as a traveller is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Now though this is just a mere something that Hong Kong changed in me; I would like to think it did leave a positive impact on my health, both physically and mentally. I have started to appreciate my home, I definitely do not appreciate the lack of a well-developed infrastructure, neither do I appreciate the lack of proper traffic, but here is the lesson I have picked the most- carrying a bottle of water instead of flavoured beverages.