I say, life would be boring if we deny ourselves of new experiences.
First things first — climate extremes are personally intolerable. When it gets too hot I just don’t want anyone touching me; when it gets too cold I get too uncomfortable and might have to punch someone. (Yes, I know, first world problems. Kinda.) Hong Kong in mid-December averages at around 17-23° Celsius; not that huge of a discomfort, and just enough cold to experience if you’re used to living in a tropical country. As a bonus, the chances of the sun coming out even during winter are 2 days out of 5 — not bad in case you’re planning to go to theme parks.
Months back, Chase and I decided to welcome the holidays with a little trip to Hong Kong during their winter season. I usually write to express and provide information that may be helpful for others, but here I would also like to share my thoughts of what it’s like traveling with your partner for the first time.
We landed in Hong Kong International Airport at around 7-ish in the evening of December 20. As expected, airports were busy as people have been flying nonstop for the holidays. The temperature was around 20°C that evening, and as how flying goes, the exhaustion was real.
There’s a saying that your true personality comes out in times of stress. At around 9 in the evening, Chase and I were on our way to a hostel in Mong Kok. For those who have been to Mong Kok, it’s comparable to Quiapo — in a constant state of busy and noisy. And just like a Korean drama, we somewhat got lost in the midst of being peak tired, and ended up walking for a solid 30+ minutes trying to find the place we were supposed to stay in. We did find it, eventually, and needless to say it was the highlight of the day that we finally were able to have some decent rest.
Lesson #1 for traveling couples: be patient.
With one another, with yourself, with your surroundings. During times of high stress, understand that you both are going through it, hence the need to be kind and gentle are required of each of you more than ever. Stressing over things and pointing fingers will not make the problems go away, nor will you be able to solve them quicker. Thankfully, Chase has 10x the patience I possess, so these heights of stress aren’t always easy but they are definitely workable if there is listening and understanding involved.
The next day, we had breakfast at a nearby McDonald’s.
Contrary to what I usually post on Instagram, Chase and I eat a lot of cheap fast food whenever we can. So to save time and money, McDonald’s was the best choice to get going on our first day in the country.
A much wider selection of pastries and sandwiches compared to what Manila has. You can tell a lot about the culture of a place based on their food alone.
Breakfast: Hazelnut latte, hot Americano, mushroom soup, sausage McMuffin.
Automated system in McDonald’s, Mong Kok. They have machines that operate like ATMs where you can just tap on the photo/s of your order then wait for the counter to flash your order number. Good design thinking and tourist-friendly.
A kind lady serving the place offered to take our photo because she saw us taking selfies, lol.
You can never go wrong being with friends.
Just as we flew to Hong Kong for the holidays, one of our officemates also happened to be there during the time of our stay. We took the MTR to Kennedy Town to meet Christian (whom we are used to calling, ‘Coin’ because of his last name, haha), who invited us to their home for a delicious lunch. Classic Filipino culture of inviting people to their homes and eat!
Kennedy Town is a suburban area filled with life and color. It’s less busy than most, and offers a sort of vibrance that makes the town feel so alive. There are many interesting places we passed by (like a vegan-friendly BBQ/sukiyaki/drinks place!) that might be of interest to tourists who want their Hong Kong trip to be on the more adventurous side. Sadly, we only stayed for a short while but a longer visit is very likely to come up again in the future.
Waiting for Coin’s dad in Kennedy Town.
Nothing like a Filipino meal on a foreign land!
Traveling is much better when there’s leisure walking involved.
Aimless meandering is the loveliest form of getting lost abroad. Sure, it gets painful for the toes after a while but it’s also such a raw and untainted way to experience the land as it is — literally! We got a chance to look over the town, going around Kennedy, Aberdeen and finally to Hong Kong University’s grounds.
Hong Kong is one of the refreshing places, in my opinion. On one side you have a thriving economic jewel, technologically advanced cities, automated systems, and the latest gadgets. Yet at the same time there’s a vast amount of mountains; nature is literally in your backyard, and I think that is such an amazing combination of urban and rural living.
Lesson #2 for traveling couples: stay fueled!
This might sound ridiculous and a bit of a given, but seriously, stay fueled. Whether you need coffee or heaps of food, do what you need to do to keep yourself well-fed and hydrated.
I think this is such an underrated prerequisite when traveling. Walking a long way around Kennedy Town made me realize that being thirsty and hungry are the first step to being grumpy, and being grumpy can lead to a lot more problems that should not even be a problem when on vacation, i.e. accidentally disrespect your partner.
That being said, we stopped by the nearest Starbucks in HKU Station, where we waited for another friend of mine from high school, Nikole.
I will never get tired of seeing familiar faces when away from home.
Let me tell you a story about destiny.
A Korean noodle brand called Honey & Cheese has long been out of stock in Manila. While passing by a random 7-11, boom, the magical bowl of instant noodles was looking at me! It’s right up there with my Disneyland visits as the most magical moment in Hong Kong.
Here are some photos to show proof of such a serendipitous moment:
We ended the day eating in a Chinese restaurant — they are, as you might expect, abound in the city. Needless to say, their food tasted much better than Chinese fast food back home. Either way I love eating the cuisine, so it’s not really that much of an issue!