The fact that my friend who lives in Hong Kong couldn’t host me at her home because she had guests staying wasn’t a good enough reason to stop me from completing my booking and plans for my much-needed short getaway from the city of Dubai.
It was my first trip to a far-eastern country, and my first trip for leisure that I make on my own. As a teen and a twenty-something year-old Saudi girl, I always faced rejection and disagreement from my parents when I opened up the subject of traveling alone to visit friends in other countries, or even traveling with friends from my own country. The answer remained the same over the years. It was: “No way, are you crazy?” and the like.
The years passed by…I remained calm and silent. But I never forgot about my dream to travel the world alone or with friends. I never lost my passion…it was just suppressed and hidden for a better opportunity and moment in time. I knew that I would be able to do as I wish one day. I just held on to my dream and remained patient until the right time came. I never take “no” for an answer in anything that I want in life.
My dream of traveling was delayed until the day that I would be financially independent and would be living on my own. So far, I have managed to move out of my parents’ house and live on my own. However, the goal of being able to support myself hasn’t worked out yet. Due to it being tied with my career change goal. Which is a story for another post 🙂
I must admit that I have worked hard on my career change objective, and continue to work on it. It has been more of a learning experience than a destination to get to. The journey to my new career path included a lot of self-development and valuable life lessons that were essential for my personal growth as an individual. And I’m enjoying every bit of my journey now, more than I did when I first started out.
Then I read a book that said that on your way to achieving your goal and in order to make it happen, you need to start doing the things that you would do had you already reached your goal. And in following that advise, with the fact that I desperately needed a change and a getaway from the lovely city of Dubai, I found myself at the Emirates Holidays office on Sheikh Zayed Road booking a holiday package to Hong Kong!
My lovely travel agent has helped me greatly in making the suitable flight and hotel bookings and other travel arrangements. Even warning me about areas I should avoid when sightseeing in Hong Kong. We later found out how much we had in common and became friends immediately!
I arrived to Hong Kong late at night after a seven-hour flight from Dubai. The fact that both my Saudi credit cards were declined was the first surprise that I had in my trip. Thankfully I had enough cash on me as a tip from a friend in Dubai, who advised me on the amount that I should take with me for my daily pocket money.
I spent a considerable amount of my first day trying to find the local pharmacy and grocery store, and to get a local SIM card for my phone. Which proves difficult when most of the people outside of the hotel don’t speak a word of English. I was staying at the Novotel in Nathan Road in Kowloon. Which means that I got to experience the real city, with its struggling faces, its homeless beggars on the streets, its disabled elderly, and under-privileged youth.
Later I discovered that I must learn how to eat using chop sticks if I wanted to survive! And that I need to find the way on the streets on my own with the help of the hotel map since only a few people will be able to communicate with me in English. Thankfully that wasn’t a major problem as Hong Kong is a small city and it’s pretty easy to find your way around its streets and neighborhoods.
While walking down the street that was recommended to me by a hotel staff for finding good local eateries, I was beginning to panic after going through the street more than once and not finding a place that served food that I was familiar enough with. However, my fear diminished as I stumbled upon a sushi bar that served salmon rolls and other Japanese food at reasonable prices. It was my first day in the city and I wasn’t sure if the cash that I had on me would be sufficient for my whole stay. I wasn’t familiar with the currency or how expensive sightseeing and eating would be. Therefore, I opted for a simple choice of two types of sushi rolls for dinner, accompanied by a traditional hot green tea.
As I left the sushi place, I made a note of it and its location in case I wanted to eat there again one night. But I never made it back to that low-profile yet cool place. I was too busy discovering other areas of the city.
After dinner, I had a walk through the nearby Temple Street night market, before continuing to explore my neighborhood and walk down the main road: Nathan Road. Where as a tourist, you will be approached by people trying to sell watches, hand bags or tailor-made suits and dresses. In addition to the occasional local foot massage place flyer handed to you.
Next time, I will be telling you all about my visit to the first of the top tourist attractions in the lively and bustling Hong Kong….