It’s common to hear people travelling the world. With airfares dropping drastically low on off-peak seasons, people are much more able to do it with their friends or family. What’s considered strange is for an individual to go on an adventure to experience a foreign land alone. They worry that something might go wrong and no one will be there to help them. While there’s that chance of a dreadful thing happening, it may not be as bad as you make it out to be, especially if it leads to growth and tons of learning.That’s exactly what happened when I decided to travel to Hong Kong alone for the first time. A lot of well-meaning friends discouraged me from going because I didn’t know anyone living there and I’d be too far if ever something happens. Against all objections, I decided to go in spite of fear, with the motivation that I never want to spend the rest of my life wondering what it would have been like if I did board that plane. But boy, I’m glad I did.In this blog, I will share to you the things I learned when I decided to travel in a foreign country for the first time all by myself.
Always do your researchWhen travelling, it pays to research on your destination. You need to cover the basics, know the culture and look into places that offer value for your money. Remember that they have a different culture from the ones you adhere to. Hong Kong was under the British Crown rule for more than a hundred years so it’s not surprising that their cultural heritage is a blend of both Chinese and British. Majority of their population is made up of Cantonese, British, Indians and Jews and so they adopted a trilingual policy that includes English as an official language. Tourists, therefore, need not fret about the language barrier. Second thing you need to do tons of research on is knowing where you should be spending your money. When I went to Hong Kong, I planned my itinerary 2 months ahead. I picked the places I wanted to see since I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to experience every spot in just five days. I also bought tickets ahead at a discounted price which included Disneyland (which is the priciest among all the touristy sites).
It’s alright to get lostOne of the major concerns of people going on a solo trip is the fear of getting lost. While I share the same concern, I discovered by walking the streets of Kowloon Island that it’s alright to get lost, considering that there are hundreds of tourists trying to find their way as well. I was personally asked countless times by other tourists for directions, to which I responded with a shrug and smile. Here’s the good thing about getting lost with a map on hand, it develops your navigation skills, and it makes you realize that there’s no harm in asking. What’s the worst that could happen? And may I just add that Hong Kong has one of the most efficient railway systems that comes with a downloadable app. It has suggested routes with fares and estimated travel time. Once you get the hang of it, you’re sure to find your next destination, worry-free.
Let it beInasmuch as you plan and ensure you’ve got everything covered, always leave room for adjustment. If things don’t go according to plan, enjoy the moment. The goal is to experience the culture, see the sights, have a taste of the local cuisine, talk to a local. Don’t be too conscious about missing the next bus or turning right on the wrong street. Who knows, maybe the next stop is quite better than what you had in mind.Here are a few of spots that made my list:
1. The PeakThe Peak provides the highest vista of Hong Kong that comes with a ride on the Tram to and from the The Peak.
2. The Symphony of LightsWatch the dancing lights from the buildings of Hong Kong Island. It starts at exactly 8PM. The best part is, it’s free.
3. DisneylandExperience the magical world of Disney at Lantau Island. The park opens at 10AM. Be sure to stay until 8PM and be enthralled by the Disney in the Stars fireworks display.
4. Ocean ParkMesh adventure and knowledge at Ocean Park at Hong Kong island. Aside from the different species of marine biology, it houses pandas and primates. The park opens at 10AM and closes at 6PM.
5.Night markets at Temple Street and Argyle StreetThe night markets in Kowloon Island sell items of just about anything. From the famous stinky tofu to keychain and shirts. Just be ready to bargain when going through the stalls.
About J-Ann ValenciaJ-Ann Valencia is a BS Applied Mathematics graduate of the University of the Philippines. Currently she is a Senior Member Service Representative at the Social Security System. She is an employee by day, a bookwork by night and a wanderlust on holidays.