Our trip to Hong Kong was charmed from the start. We were supposed to have a layover in Bangkok, but we were upgraded to a direct flight, so 2.5 hours after leaving our island paradise in Thailand, we were descending into the white haze of this new big city. We were picked up from the airport by my second uncle and aunt, who live in Hong Kong and graciously invited us to stay with them. Dirty and dejected from over a month of traipsing around South East Asia we found ourselves being shown into a four story unit in a brand new complex.
We stepped out onto a balcony that overlooked a resort size swimming pool, feeling dwarfed by residential skyscrapers which towered above us from every angle, and experiencing what can only be described as reverse culture shock. Just when we were getting used to holes in the ground as toilets, we were taken into a haven of shiny marble floors and granite counter tops. In hostels, we chose between top and bottom bunk; here, we were given our choice of rooms, each equipped with a bathtub, shower and a toilet you could sit on. We had become immune to the intestinal havoc of street food and suddenly found ourselves in a land of high end, white table-clothed restaurants. “Ethnic” food in South East Asia had become our norm. Hong Kong reintroduced us to cheeseburgers and Mexican food.
Touching down on Hong Kong felt like stepping into the future—a future where shopping malls rise up from subway stations like giant robots and the city’s infrastructure is built on a matrix of designer boutiques and restaurant chains.Advertisements stretch across the faces of multiple buildings, fighting through an endless bombardment of competing stimuli for our attention. This ultra modern city, where Western and Eastern culture collide to create an utterly unique Hong Kong, was a needed hiatus from our hostel life and backpacker world—a vacation from our vacation.