What I learned from getting lost in Hong Kong on a 12-hour layover

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Lost in Hong Kong

So here I am again for another dose of misadventure but this time, I took my poor sense of direction 1300 kilometers away from my home base. Pretty sure I have talked about this failed Hong Kong trip in my previous post already, but this time I would like to share more of my thoughts about it. Well, let’s just say I’m trying to comfort myself by looking past this embarrassing experience. 

So let me start here…

From the Philippines to Hong Kong, I am still the same girl who doesn’t know how to read a map. Getting lost in Hong Kong is probably one of the scariest misadventures that I had because, for starters, the majority couldn’t speak and understand English. But that’s not the fun part yet! To make things interesting, I only had a 12-hour layover in magnificent Hong Kong before the next leg of my flight. Since it was my first time in this country, I had so many places to see and many activities to tick-off from my list.

12 hours seems so short for all of them yet, I had all the time to get lost. What a day! In the end, I was able to do only less than half of my plans. As I came to reflect on this trip, I can’t help but to ask myself, “Did I really waste my time this time?”. To wrap everything up, here are the things that I learned from getting lost in Hong Kong on a 12-hour layover.

It’s OK to GET LOST once in a while

I’m 20-something and I’m still at the “explorative” stage in life. Let’s just say that at this point in my life, getting lost is part of the gameplan. On a normal day, I am pretty much making all the efforts to look and act like a responsible “adult”– corporate meetings, budget planning and keeping up with your social life here and there. Surely, everyone can relate to these #adulting101 stories, right? Being in your twenty-something years, keeping up with this mindset every day can drain the hell out of you. My trip to Hong Kong made me realize that even if I make bad decisions, I get lost, and I’m out of the plan, life goes on and it does not end there. Also, give yourself some time to forget those hectic schedules and demanding deadlines for at least 12 hours and let loose in a completely different environment. Why the hell will I mind catching the bus if I can walk at my own pace? At least I had about 12 hours to find my way… before I miss my flight.

tourists and Victoria Harbour
Walking with these tourists and trying to act normal in Hong Kong when I was just actually following the crowd

Keep on going… It doesn’t matter what others think of you anyway.

I got out from the other end of Kowloon station walking all the way to a secluded area and it was too late when I realized that I was on the wrong path. Have you ever gotten yourself into a situation where other people were looking at you strangely? I was 99% sure the locals were thinking that I was out of my mind while I kept walking on a quiet sidewalk, under the heat of the sun, and with an obvious note in my forehead saying “LOST TOURIST”. Trying to keep my pride intact, I remained calm, composed and pretended that I was enjoying the long hike along the highway. 

In my long walks, I came across several Chinese construction workers and I swear I could hear them say “What-the-hell-is-this-tourist-doing-here” just by merely looking at their facial expressions. Lost and without a map, I kept going… All I knew, I wanted to reach Tsim Sha Tsui before the sun sets.

Surprise yourself by facing the unknown.

Who knows which way leads to where? Judging by my poor map-reading skills, neither did I know what lies ahead of me until SURPRISE! I was lost on track again. One moment I was on the correct street then here comes an intersection and I turned the wrong corner.

The unknown sure seems scary (and so does missing my flight) but it keeps you challenged to overcome it and see what’s waiting for you– on the other side of the tunnel or on the next kilometer. Also, you’ll discover new places you never thought of before. These type of surprises give flavors to your life and it definitely makes a moment worthwhile. Four, five, six or twenty years? The craziest moments always stay. So buckle up and embrace the little surprises while you travel.

Bruce Lee statue in the Avenue of Stars
This Bruce Lee statue in the Avenue of Stars is standing strong and mighty

Safety first.

I’m not sure if I still have to stress this out but safety should come above all else. Not because I allowed myself to get lost in Hong Kong means that I was also letting my guard down. Regardless of where you are, SAFETY. MUST. COME. FIRST. It might be true that YOLO (You only live once) but it is also true that you only have ONE LIFE to live so don’t let the “Yolo” mindset completely drive you all the way to your… final breath.

Enjoy even the most unexpected circumstances

Aside from the long walks and hours I spent getting lost in Hong Kong, my itinerary was also pushed back hours later because of an airport situation that I had to take care of. That gave me lesser time to discover Hong Kong to its fullest potential. But surprisingly, I can say that I somehow managed to enjoy this layover. Life throws “whoever-knows-what” unexpectedly and you only have to learn how to enjoy these “bonus rounds”.

In the end, we learn from all these embarrassing failures…

And for me, that drives me to travel more. Because of these failures, I become more human and I learn to be more comfortable being human. I hope you get my point.

Well, HELLO! It was just a layover. It’s not like I spent thousands of bucks in Hong Kong only to flush it down the drain. So there’s no need to feel so bad about it. It’s just another misadventure that will surely be charged to experience. Until next time, Hong Kong!

So what can you say? Do you agree on the things I said? If so, please take time to pin the image below to let the world know we’re in the same boat. 

Realizations-in-Hong-Kong

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