Hong Kong, Hong Kong
I don’t have much to say, save that I’m headed to South Korea (by ferry from Qingdao, China!) next week and I’m very excited about it. I’ll be meeting up with a good friend from college, Liz, which is what I’m most excited about, and possibly doing some more Couchsurfing along the way. I’ve had a really great time hanging out with my friend Mandi and her lovely and gracious friends here in big bad Wuhan, but the weather has been truly dismal and has me in a funk. I am more than ready for sun and sandy shores.
In South Korea, I plan on visiting Insa-dong in Seoul, going to the DMZ, hitting up Gwangju, maybe stopping off in Andong, and sleeping in the Seoul Incheon airport on my way out. From South Korea, I’ll be flying to Vietnam instead of overlanding back through China like I’d originally planned. There are a lot of things I love about China and I honestly wouldn’t mind trekking through a lot more of it, but without a basic grasp of Mandarin, I feel like I’m missing out on so much of what this country has to offer and a lot of fun interactions with local folk. Also, I’m more than ready to feast upon pho and drink cà phê until I get sick.
So far, my plan is to fly to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), find some beaches, head up to Nha Trang, then on to Da Nang (maybe), Hoi An (for sure), possibly Hue, and onwards as I feel like it, zig-zagging through southeast Asia.
Any recommendations or must-sees for South Korea or Vietnam?
First of all, I must apologize for no photos this time. I’m having a fun time trying to get bits and pieces of information out through the Great Firewall and an internet connection which detests my computer (or maybe just me).
I returned to the north of China Monday morning and I’m still thinking about my time in Hong Kong. I spent one week there and loved it. I finally found the state of mind I’ve been searching for in every place on my trip so far: the one where I feel like I am exactly where I belong. I’ve felt snatches of it on this trip, but so far, this trip has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I won’t lie, I’ve struggled a lot to figure out what exactly I’m looking for, and just what I’m doing, on the other side of the planet from everything I’ve ever known.
What is this state of mind? To me, it’s what “being on the road” feels like. It’s hot and sticky days wandering through back alleyways in southern Spain, it’s misty and foggy bike rides on ancient islands in Ireland, it’s laughing with friends and discovering the Cathedral of Junk in Austin, it’s stepping onto the Great Wall for the first time, it’s playing chess at midnight on a train in Russia, it’s hiking through the hills of Scotland and Mississippi.
It is also, to my surprise, sleeping in a dusty warehouse in Hong Kong until late in the day, and drinking milk tea with yum cha at every possible moment, and dancing with other foreigners and locals in the streets in the wee hours of the morning. It is making new friends at The Tower. It is the quest to find cheese and Belgian beer. It is public libraries that have English books. It is egg tarts over a menu written solely in Portuguese. It is all this and more.
It’s me finally settling into the travelling mindset again. It is also now the longest I’ve ever spent outside of the US. It’s the adventure I worked so hard for and dreamed about constantly. In some ways, it feels like wandering into the wardrobe of Narnia…a waking dream that I’ve lived for years and years.
Have you ever had an unexpected change in your itinerary and ended up loving it?
So far, I think my favourite city in China has been Xixian, and it’s entirely because of the incredible family that hosted us crazy foreigners. I think back to the blur of days that were Chinese New Year, and I smile. Giant boxes of fireworks, being taught how to make dumplings, getting challenged to chug a half-liter bottle of beer by an auntie, sleeping in everyday, absolutely delicious food, random firecracker explosions in front of store-fronts. Smoking lanterns in the field and red (and red and red everywhere).
I am in Hong Kong now. I thought I would be in China for a lot longer, but I severely overestimated my capacity for withstanding the cold as well as how grating the lack of diversity in China can be (it’s when people won’t stop staring/take tons and tons of photos without asking that it gets to me). I really, really can’t wait to head south and hang out on the beaches of Southeast Asia and eat Thai curries. I’ve got awesome friends to visit first, though!
I think I’ve finally gotten rid of the fever I picked up in Guangzhou…will venture out to find some sort of soup to test this theory in a few hours time. Or maybe I can find a sandwich, since I *am* in Hong Kong. If you spend a long enough time in China, you will never, ever take a good and proper sandwich for granted again (at least I won’t). No way that I’m getting up for the Couchsurfing Superbowl party, though. Pesky time zones mean that the Superbowl starts at 7.30 am here. Hell to the no.