Three months ago I moved from Charlotte, North Carolina USA (I write the entire location for emphasis) to Hong Kong. As I started writing this piece, I contemplated if the duration was “Three long months” or “Three short months” ago, and reviewing my emotions and experiences, I would say both.
In the way of introduction, I grew up in a family that had broad horizons. My dad worked for international companies, travelled abroad frequently, and had taken us (my family) abroad when we were young. My Grandfather travelled frequently and my Uncle lived and worked abroad for several years. So I grew into a fair appreciation for the size and scope of the world, other cultures, and the impacts and importance of global connectedness.
As part of my “college plan”, I planned to study abroad and reviewed programs in the UK, Switzerland, and Hong Kong, ultimately settling on Hong Kong. I had been to Europe once before and loved it, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know anything Hong Kong or Asia to be honest. I just knew I would be okay wherever I went (it’s only five months, what can happen?) and it would be an impactful experience, good or bad. So, I signed up for five months at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong for my senior year of college and instantly experienced wanderlust.
Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but I use it with a deeper meaning – a strong desire to experience travel. To me, travel is a conduit to experiencing cultures, food, sites, and places. It’s an endless list of rivers and mountains, that apply some emotional impact when you enter their vicinity.
During my time in Asia, I visited China and the Philippines but spent most of my time exploring the hidden parts of Hong Kong. From the trails in the New Territories to the beaches of Stanley, I went wherever I could. Trying to see as much as possible in the limited time I had. Of course, as with all great things, time flew by and I was back in the US before any of it could sink in.
The experience sparked a fire and I knew I couldn’t stop traveling. I moved to Charlotte, NC to start my first post-graduation job and instantly began planning new and exciting adventures. The next summer I went to Madrid, Pamplona (to run with the bulls), Barcelona, Ibiza, and Marrakech. This was followed by the Dominican Republic, Canada, and Belize the year after. Then capped with a ten-day road trip around Iceland right before I moved to Hong Kong.d
Each destination I visited reminded me exactly why I travel. Each called me to see more and experience everything life and travel had to offer. I was (and still am) hopelessly addicted to travel. The urge sent me back to Hong Kong, accepting an offer to internally transfer within my firm. I knew by accepting, I would trade my 600 sq ft apartment for 300 sq ft and also open the door to inexpensive travel around Southeast Asia. It was a deal too good to pass on.
Three months after moving, it’s safe to say it was worth it. Every last bit. Trading space, a car, and the American lifestyle for compactness, public transportation, and some healthier food options turned out to be easier than expected. My life, albeit different, was improved by the move. Every day I appreciate how my life has changed and the opportunities that have been presented, but moving has had one unexpected side effect). Now that I’ve reached HK, I can’t stop seeing new things. Addicted to travel is short of the full truth, I’m addicted to seeing and traveling to new places. Within weeks of landing in HK, we had planned three trips. One to Vietnam and two to Thailand, but I quickly realized it wouldn’t be enough.
That’s the moral of the story for some of us. It’ll never be enough. We’re destined to continuously travel and experience the world. A blessing and a curse. For others, those that haven’t caught the travel fever, you’ll experience the world in your own way or maybe not at all (I do believe there’s an argument for ignorance is bliss). Which way of living is better or worse, that’s another article.
For now, I can’t wait for my next trip to Thailand and whatever trips come after that.