A Romance in Hong Kong

Trip Start Mar 23, 2010
Trip End Aug 10, 2010

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First, I must apologize to those of you who actually follow my blog. I realize I haven't wrote anything for more than week and a half and I don't really have an real excuse for it. I've been in Hong Kong this entire time and have had plenty of access to internet. Truth be told, I have just been extremely lazy and preoccupied with my new-found romance.

So how is that romance going you ask? Short answer: Amazing. Long answer? I'm learning what it means to be in love again. I have fallen head over heals for this girl, and with good reason. It is truly rare for two people to complement each other like we have for each other. She has been my voice when I couldn't speak, my eyes when I couldn't see, and my rock through stormy weather. She can make me smile an laugh simply by smiling and laughing herself. Who knew that I would find this in a girl from France?

About a week ago, she came to Hong Kong from Kathmandu by flight. Scheduled to arrive that morning, I went to the airport to meet her at the gate. After waiting for some time, I checked my email to find a message from her saying that her flight got canceled and instead rescheduled for the next day! No problem, I thought to myself, another day won't hurt! So I spent that day site-seeing Hong Kong by myself and woke up early the next day to make sure I was at the gate waiting for her with a rose in hand. I watched the live-feed screen for signs of a cute french girl coming out of the gate. And then I saw her, and saw the smile on her face suggesting she saw me as well. She ran out of the gate, dropped both her luggage on the ground and kissed me. Since the day I left Nepal, we had been talking back and forth by email several times a day for more than 2 weeks. It all culminated to this amazing moment. She was supposed to be in Nepal for a 5 month internship, but here she was in front of me - real as the sky is blue. I never thought it would really happen.

I spent much of the last week and a half teaching her about Chinese culture and food. And in exchange, she has been giving me French lessons, and teaching me about wine and cheese. It has been nothing short of the most romantic relationship I have ever had in my life - traveling abroad seeing the world together. I think both of us realize it's crazy to think this relationship will last forever, but I think we both know that's what makes it so special. Since the future is filled with so much uncertainty, we learn to simply enjoy living in the moment and to appreciate what we have in the present. And what better place to enjoy this romance than the beautiful city of Hong Kong? It has been such a wonderful city to stay in for the past 1.5 weeks, and I have had a multitude of quintessential Hong Kong experiences to satisfy me. I've stayed in a friend's tiny, cramped HK style apartment, eaten world-class seafood from the fishing village of Sai Kung, observed incredible cityscapes of HK's spectacular skylines, shopped for electronics until my heart ached of money woes, and relaxed on some beautiful beaches (yes beaches in HK) with crystal clear torquoise water. All in all, Hong Kong has got to be one of the best cities I have ever visited in my life.

City life has its down sides of course. Because I have spent a great deal of time in rural areas on this trip, coming to Hong Kong was quite a shock. The pace of life is fast here, and people work long long hours; I'm talking about 8 in the morning until 9pm at night, 7 days a week. And it really shows on the people's faces. The majority of the people walking around on the streets look miserable - seriously miserable. On one day, Sylvia and I played a game whilst walking down the street: She would count how many "happy" people walked by us, and I would count how many miserable people would walk by. I won by a landslide. My Hong Kong friend explained to me that these people work such long hours, live in such cramped apartments, to pay for necessities that cost so much in this city, as well as being constantly bombarded with consumer goods that many people cannot afford but is an important symbol of your status in this city. Given this, it's not hard to understand why these people walk around with such a long face on. One thing is for sure though - you never see people THIS miserable in the countryside. Yes, people living in rural areas are so much more poor, but from what I've seen, many of them are so much happier. It seems the stresses of city life either make or break you; and its clear that the pace of Hong Kong has broken more people than it has made. The life lesson I have taken from this is that if I choose to live in an urban city in my lifetime, then I need to be extremely careful that I don't let these things get to me. I have made a serious vow to never chase money and consumer goods, and to never overwork myself at the expense of my happiness. Easier said than done, but if we are wise about it, I believe it can be accomplished. I urge you all to consider this in your own lives.

My original intent for coming to Hong Kong is to re-apply for a Chinese visa so I can continue my travels back into China, and now with a travel partner. I intended to stay in Hong Kong for no more than 5 days, however, life doesn't always work out the way you intend it to. Sylvia also came to Hong Kong to apply for her Chinese visa so we can travel through China together. However, while at the travel agency, we were informed by the agent that as of recent regulations, French citizens now require proof of a plane ticket in and out of the country, a fully detailed travel itinerary, proof of hotel bookings for each intended city, a copy of travel insurance, an invitation letter from a Chinese citizen, and so on just to travel in China for tourism. For the type of budget traveling we were doing, this request would put serious restrictions on our travel plans and was nearly impossible for us to manage. And just like that, my decision to go to China was overturned.

Am I disappointed? Yes and no. I was pretty set on China. I was excited to see more of my heritage and culture and to have the opportunity to practice (what should be) my native language. However, if there's one thing that travel has taught me, it's that plans were meant to be broken. I've learned to always be open and flexible with my plans to accommodate for anything and everything. You never quite know what to expect when you travel so I never set my heart too much on one plan. So instead of China, we have booked our plane tickets to nearby Vietnam. We shall spend a month or so there and then see what happens next!

Super Tchan out.
(Oh, this is my new nickname from Sylvia's French girlfriends. Something about being Chinese and super.)

PS. Oh right, I've also picked up the hobby of photography and spent alot of money getting the right equipment. I ask that you enjoy my pictures :)
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tonger on

wow chow, i mean super tchan out! that sounds really really really amazing! no matter what happens afterwards, im happy for u that u had such an amazing time!! and i cant wait to visit hong kong now!!!! u should say hi to sylvia from all of us!!!! shes very pretty and u r very lucky bro! have an amazing time in vietnam! i cant stop being amazed!!!! bcuz everything in ur trip sounds amazingly wonderful! :P

Bryson on

Wow Lawrence! You are very fortunate to have found Sylvia, and her you. It sounds like you have an amazing connection. Just because you have a travel romance, doesn't mean that is has to end there. Speaking from experience, long distance relationships are the hardest but most worthwhile. Keep us posted, keep up the adventure and keep up the romance.

Sarah Park on

Stumbled on your blog via Facebook...
Awesome blog Lawrence, and what an amazing love story! It melts my heart!
Take care :)

Richard on

S4it Son, seems like you are having an awesome time. Hope you enjoy your stay. Going through all your pics was a bitch but great pics~ I esp like the night pics of the city. glad you found new love, hope it works out for the best. cheers and carpe diem

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