A Month in Hong Kong

China, Solo Travel — By on December 3, 2011 at 3:00 am

With only four days to prepare for an impromptu month-long work trip to Hong Kong, Lost Girl Carley Hollis was a bundle of nerves. She quickly realized there are highs and lows to traveling alone, from fun dinners of room service in bed to having no one to join you to Disneyland.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a confident and independent woman. I can put a set of shelves up on my own, I buy my own car tax and walking into a room where I don’t know anyone doesn’t really faze me. But when my boss asked me to travel half-way around the world to give a number of training sessions to our sister office in Hong Kong- well, I’ve got to admit, I had my reservations. A whole month in a city without my trusted circle of friends, where I didn’t even speak the language? And only 4 days to pack, plan and prepare? I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Here’s the first thing I can tell you about planning a trip in just four days- you will forget things! I’d barely passed through Heathrow’s security queue when I realized that I’d left my headphones tucked into the pockets of my winter coat- one of the many things which didn’t pass my packing scrutiny. Thankfully, Heathrow’s shops meant that grabbing a new pair of headphones was pretty easy- and once I’d started on the duty-free, my retail therapy addicted alter-ego took over. I managed to justify the new MAC make-up and a very trendy pair of sunglasses by reminding myself that I’d found very cheap flights to Hong Kong. But even so, by the time I boarded the plane, I was feeling a little guilty about my weighed down shopping bags.

Landing in Hong Kong International Airport at night was my first reminder that I was in a strange city on my own. I knew that I needed to grab a taxi from outside the arrivals lounge, and I’d been told that I’d want a green coloured taxi to get me to my hotel. But standing in the taxi queue after an 11 hour flight, I had no idea if I’d make it to my destination. Thankfully, my lovely Hong Kong driver got me to my fancy corporate hotel and the sight of the city lit up, with the skyscrapers reflected in the still water of Victoria Harbour, revived my flagging spirits.

The next few weeks were a blur of presentations, a hundred handshakes and conversations with friends back home via Skype at 3 in the morning! Staying alone in a hotel room was great fun, at first – I ordered room service for dinner, and investigated what you could get in McDonalds in Hong Kong that you can’t get back home (everything from special burgers to a wedding ceremony) but it soon become a little lonely. However, after the end of the second week, a colleague introduced me to some British expats in Hong Kong and these lovely people took it upon themselves to show me their Hong Kong whilst I was there. Cue a trip to a Hello Kitty cafe, learning some basic Cantonese so I could haggle in the market, and karaoke. Lots of karaoke!

The month I was in Hong Kong passed much faster than I expected it to and whilst I felt overwhelmed by the city at times, I definitely feel lucky to have had the opportunity to both work and play in the city. I’d promised myself that before I returned home I’d visit the huge Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and despite a great deal of begging, none of my new friends would accompany me. I held true to my promise though, and took myself to meet Mickey and company on a sunny Friday morning. I won’t lie- I did feel a little awkward, wandering ’round Fantasyland on my own, surrounded by crowds of excited children and families- but it was more than worth it when I got to skip queues for the rides as a single rider! While I visited, the finishing touches were just being put on the now-open Toy Story Land and what I could see of the new area looked amazing, with a giant Woody standing at the entrance!

A day at Disneyland was certainly the best way to end my trip to Hong Kong. I managed to meet some of my childhood heroes- who didn’t love cheeky Aladdin?! And I even had lunch in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Despite how excited I was to see my family and the guys from work back at home, I was genuinely sad to board the plane back to London- although not as sad as when I realised I’d left my new sunglasses in the Hong Kong hotel… I have since taken it as a sign, however, that at some point soon, I’ll have to go back to recover them!

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Carley Hollis is a freelance travel writer who writes for a wide range of online publications. She’s dedicated to finding out insider tips for each new city she visits and tries to live like a local at each new destination! She’s based in Edinburgh and is currently planning more trips to continental Europe.

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