On 24th May 2014, my fiancé, Andy, and I got married in New York City. A week later, we hopped on a plane with two carry-on suitcases and two one-way tickets to Paris. We had just pressed pause on our careers, sublet our apartment, and moved all of our things into storage. The only plan was to have no plans at all — and we ended up traveling for 394 days through 25 countries, stopping in nearly 100 destinations. Over the next few weeks, come along on this crazy journey to learn more about how we did it — packing, plotting, budgeting — and see some of the tens of thousands of photos we took along the way.
After 40 days in India and Nepal, arriving in Hong Kong felt like landing in some futuristic utopia. We didn’t realise how much we had missed some of the conveniences of a modern city. From the clean, organised airport, we zipped into the city on an efficient train. We rented a tiny, cozy Airbnb apartment in the Sheung Wan neighbourhood, and upon arriving, showered in the bathroom with amazing water pressure and face planted into the softest mattress we had slept on in weeks. We woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to explore this massive metropolis.
To sum it up, Hong Kong is amazing. It’s one of the most densely populated and international cities in the world. It felt incredibly familiar and wildly foreign at the same time. There were areas that I would have mistaken for New York City and some pockets that were so uniquely Chinese — the dried fish district, the temples, and the open markets snaking through the narrow alleyways. All that we really did in our three days there was endlessly walk the streets and uncover it all. Andy and I thrive in major cities. We’re addicted to the energy, the diversity of people, the mashup of cultures, and the unpredictability — and Hong Kong has it all.
People often ask if there was a place that exceeded our expectations or turned out to be something different than what we thought it was, and we always say China. While the people were often blunt, they were also welcoming, warm, and friendly. There were a handful of cultural similarities, but so many differences, which I like to call the three S’s — slurping, spitting, and staring. None of them are considered rude. And just to keep us on our toes, very few people speak English, so we were in a constant game of charades.
In China, you’re often flipping a switch between the modern and the traditional, cutting-edge technology and thousand-year-old history. We covered such a diverse set of landscapes and lifestyles in just three weeks — from the ancient rice terraces of Longsheng to the smog-filled high-rise ghost towns we passed by on the train. And we just barely skimmed the surface...