100 Days: Hong Kong

Waiting on the runway at Heathrow, we realised our trip was exactly 100 days long.

DSCF4429

First stop – Hong Kong!

DSCF4439 DSCF4473 DSCF4496DSCF4447

Extremely jetlagged and extremely overexcited, we had arrived! Hong Kong was a fantastic place to start the trip – different enough to feel we had definitely Gone Somewhere Else, but familiar enough that we could find a Starbucks fix when our hostel told us we couldn’t check in for another 4 hours… The famous city smog also helped give it a really mysterious, other-worldly atmosphere.

This was the first big Asian city of the trip, and the one we would go on to compare the rest to. Rob can tell you about the sights and the history, but I always focus on the feel of a place. Hong Kong feels high-powered and futuristic, full of sharp suits and even sharper skyscrapers. There are walkways in the sky and everything is neon. And there are people everywhere – Kowloon, where we stayed, is the most densely populated place on the planet. It wasn’t so noticeable over the weekdays, but once it hit Saturday, you could really tell. That’s something I like about travelling; you are constantly reminded that you are just one of millions, and millions, and millions of people on this Earth, all of them going about their lives with no awareness of yours, and you have no awareness of theirs. It’s definitely not all about you!

DSCF4498 DSCF4499 DSCF4457

I will remember Hong Kong at night time. That’s when it really feels alive, rather than just a big city – when the neon lights up and the streets are still packed at midnight. We crowded the waterfront for the light show (a must-see, though not actually that impressive), spent hours weaving through the night markets and slurped noodles at teeny plastic tables. We also snuck into the world’s highest bar at the top of the Ritz Carlton, having been assured by our hostel that if you act like you know where you’re going, they’ll just assume you’re a guest. We felt incredibly scruffy – but it worked! And hey, posh people can be scruffy too, right?

I will also remember Hong Kong for getting hopelessly lost. Not while getting around – that was easy – but in shopping malls! You think you’re taking a short cut then 2 hours later, you’re still in there. They’re all indoors, they’re all absolutely spotless (as is everything in this city – I kept thinking how much they would hate the Tube), and they all have the same shops! It’s like some kind of never-ending hall of mirrors, with added Louis Vuitton handbags. Very confusing.

DSCF4512DSCF4518DSCF4528DSCF4543

Hong Kong mixes it up too, though – something we were about to learn was typical in Asia, smooshing the very very old right alongside the very very new. We took the incredible cable car ride (Note: people from Everywhere Else – it’s not a gondola, it’s a cable car!) up and over the mountains to the Big Buddah. While we were slightly disappointed (if not that surprised) to find a Subway at the top, the beautiful Buddhist monastery behind was one of my favourite places of the whole trip. Early on to make such a statement, I know! But the sense of peace I felt there was something I hadn’t ever really experienced before. I didn’t know a place full of so many people could feel so calm. That tranquility and certainty is something I hope to find again in the future.

But first, we had a plane to catch, and I had a bridge to climb. Next stop, Sydney!

DSCF4569

If you want to read the post I wrote for Oneworld365 about Hong Kong, you can find it here!

Panic at the desk-o

You know how in my last post I was all like, yeah we started freaking out about travelling, and then we wrote a big list, and now I feel loads better?

Ahaha. Hahahaha.

now panic

What is wrong with me!? I really, really want to start getting excited about this trip. Only having wanted to do it since, you know, forever. But every time I go near it in my mind I just get a big, heavy, ice cold wave of PANIIIIIIIIC!

Yesterday I had a real wobble. Ended up having a little cry on the phone to Mum and shooing Rob out of the room when he came in to get his glasses. Doesn’t everyone feel better after just having a little cry? If anything I was surprised I’d been able to keep a lid on it for that long.

I have to keep telling myself that rationally, by the end of this week, all the Big Stuff will be sorted. Done. Dusted. Bosh. Nay, not even that long, by the end of Thursday. Thursday lunchtime even, when the Vietnamese Embassy person has put our visas in my hand, and I then have an afternoon to kill in that there London town, only mildly panicking that between Starbucks and the Megabus someone will nick our passports.

Now, Wednesday evening / Thursday actually is going to be stressful. Having to travel 4 hours on a coach up to London, on a work night, to be up and out and the other side of London by 9.30am, to then wait around all day to spend 4 hours on a coach home is, I think anyone would agree, Not Fun. I tried to update my ipod on Saturday in order to help up the fun quotient, and promptly broke my laptop. … I know.

But I have to look at the rest of the stuff with my rational head on. This isn’t a head I wear often, I’ll admit it. I like to collect panic. I worry about one thing, then just start to list a whole load of other things to worry over too.

If I look at it the right way – an afternoon to kill in London? Amazing! I can go to all the free museums, sit in a coffee shop and people watch, find a bookshop to sit in and just read for 3 hours… I keep saying how much I’ve wanted to just STOP the past few weeks. Well, here’s my chance!

SO! Let’s rationalise. Worry number 2 – got my malaria tablets yesterday. The side effects are freaking me out. (Anyone else been on Doxycycline? Bring me your knowledge!). Rational head on – Surely better than getting malaria??

Worry number 3 – Asia is scary. What if we don’t know we’re being scammed? What if we get in a taxi and they just drive us somewhere and rob us? What if we get in a car crash because the driving is so bananas?

Rational head on – SALLY. THAT IS THE POINT OF GOING. This is not a comfort zone holiday. This is a chance to see the freakin’ world. If it wasn’t a bit scary, and unknown, and new and different and exotic…. wouldn’t it be a bit boring?

I had a lovely dinner with one of my best friends last week and she is very good at giving me a bit of “Just calm down and get a grip”. She went travelling on her own. For 4 months. Cut her foot open in Laos and spent 3 weeks in hospital in Thailand. And she was FINE!

We are not idiots. We will have each other. And we will have an amazing, amazing time.

It’s on.

Do you remember a little earlier this summer, when I told you I wanted to go here?

NZ

And here?

sydney

Oh, and here?

halong

And some other places too…

Well. Oh, people. Well. It’s happening.

I’m going.

12th of November.

I’m going travelling.

I’m FINALLY GOING TRAVELLING!!

After how many years of talking about it? And saving up for it?! And trying in vain to convince all my friends that one day I would actually go and do it?!

It’s got to be at least… *counts* 7 years. I was very, very close to doing a gap year before University, and I remember the moment that sold it for me. I was sat in a Geography lesson and we were watching a video about the Galapagos Islands, and I just thought… there is so much to see in the world. That there is so much more to this life than the little triangle that contained my school, my house, and the shopping centre where I worked. And I could go to the Galapagos Islands if I wanted to. I could go and see it.

And now I finally am.

Well, not the Galapagos, but that’s still on the list. But I am going to Hong Kong, Sydney, Fiji, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. I’ve told the landlord (scary). Today I told the boss (scarier). And now I’ve told him, I can tell you!

I want to just burst whenever I think about it – I can’t handle trying to think about it all at once, I have to break it down into bits! Now that we’ve both told our bosses we can ramp up the planning, so it’s all systems go from here. We’re even moving in with Rob’s aunt and uncle for the last month, to save money! (Is it weird I’m really looking forward to that? It’ll be really nice to live in a house… and it’s OK, because they aren’t his parents 😉 !)

I’m slightly terrified about the prospect of being unemployed for the first time since, well… ever, when I come back – the boy will be too, but will have pupillage lined up for September. Me? Well, it’s up to me when I get back! Realistically my prospects are pretty good – I’m even going to be blogging for a travel site while I’m out there (more on that later) – and being frustrated about being home with no cash will spur me to get cracking on the job hunt.

Now that we’ve told everyone it’s just like a clock ticking down. It feels like all the little things that annoy me about our flat are even more annoying than normal, now that I know we’re leaving soon. Can’t wait. Cant. Freaking. Wait. It’s finally happening, people. It’s on!

Top Ten Tuesday!

Starting something new today! Tuesdays are, from now on on Did Next, going to be Top Ten Tuesdays. I was talking to a friend today who has a “Wishlist Wednesday” on her blog and, well… I like that idea. It’ll be on anything and everything, either things I can recommend or things I can’t wait to do/have/see/eat/experience myself (your own recommendations very welcome, of course). It’s the summer, and -finally!- SUNNY outside, so my debut Tuesday Top Ten was a no-brainer.

I am such a summer person. I live for summer, for long lazy evenings, for flip flops and beach hair, for the beach full stop! I was brought up by the seaside and don’t think my heart’s ever truly left.

And summer means one thing, and that’s holidays. Travelling. New places, new people; it’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I can’t wait for more! Some people go through life only ever wanting to own a company, or get married, or win the lottery. But if I could do anything? It would be to see as much of the world as I possibly can.

So… my Top Ten Travel Destinations are!

1. New Zealand.

milford_33

I was a big Lord Of The Rings fan, and used to stare at a crumpled torn-out newspaper ad of Milford Sound for hours! Ideally I’d get a campervan and just take my time soaking up the chilled out atmos of these gorge islands.

2. Sydney.

sydney

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve always been more NZ then Oz, but it’s only really Sydney I’m yearning for. I saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb (as in, over the top of it! At sunset, or sunrise – I KNOW) on that “Holiday” programme when I was about 13. It’s been on my bucket list ever since <3.

3. Edinburgh.

Royal-Mile-Edinburgh-Scotland

Mum and I have started to plan a little Edinburgh trip many times in the past, but something always intervenes! Preferably for the Festival – but now we’re thinking Six Nations..?

4. Vietnam.

halong

It just looks beautiful. And the food!! I want to see “real” Asia, and as fun as Thailand looks, that for me is sans tourists and Full Moon Parties. (And did I mention the food?!)

5. Malaysia.

penang

A real mish-mash of a place. Penang in particular looks pretty cool. Just totally different to here – that’s why travelling’s so great, because it shows you how insignificant your life, your way of life, is in the grand scheme of things. There are millions of people living each day very, very differently. Why wouldn’t you want to know more?

6. France.

frnc

A little closer to home, I know! I’ve been to Paris, and to Eurodisney (amazeballs), but there’s so much more to it that I know I’d love. I’d like to just hire a gite in the countryside somewhere and get on a bix and explore. Sleepy villages, a more peaceful way of life. And again – the food!!

7. Peru.

inca

More specifically, the Inca Trail. That’s up there on the bucket list too!

8. Florida.

univ

Ok, it’s a bit cheesey… but who doesn’t want to do that Big Florida Holiday, at some point in their life? We could never do it when we were all kids (I’m one of 4 – going to Tescos was enough hassle!). But as a big film lover I know Universal Studios would be awesome. And don’t get me started on Harry Potter World! (And Seaworld, and Disney….!)

9. Prague.

prg

The boy’s been twice, but I haven’t yet! A good city break every now and then is lush, isn’t it? Prague is to me a winter city – I’m thinking snuggly coats, face-stinging walks, warming mulled drinks and good food. Food seems to be becoming a theme here…

10. And finally, the place I would visit if I could ONLY ever visit ONE more place EVER again would be New York, New York.

nyc

 

Just thinking about it gives me butterflies. I can’t decide if I’d rather go in the summer – Central Park, the humidity, sidewalks becoming catwalks – or the winter – the park in the snow, Christmas shopping, ice skating like on Home Alone…. Ok, maybe the winter would win. But only just!!