The view from above
Kevin Song | Thursday, February 12, 2015
Hi, my name is Kevin, and I’m a travel addict. Most people hate being shoved into a claustrophobic metal tube, eating mushy, unflavored food and breathing dry, thin air. I, on the other hand, love it.
This weekend, I took advantage of a cheap fare by taking a trip around the world to Hong Kong; I sat on 10 flights for a total of over 40 hours of flight time. Along the way, I visited three countries and five states and flew on six different types of aircraft. It was the first time I’d ever been to Hong Kong, and here’s what I learned:
Luckily for me, I grew up in a rather sheltered environment and was deprived of the glorious show everyone knows as “Friends.” I cast aside Delta’s in-flight entertainment, and instead I put the live map up on my seatback monitor and indulged in more than four seasons of Jennifer Aniston and friends’ escapades, following Ross as he went through three divorces. So, if you’re ever wondering what to do on your next transpacific flight, simply don’t watch any shows when you’re a kid.
On the ground in Hong Kong, I took the super-fast Airport Express train (why can’t America have good rail transit?) to the island, and took in the night view of Victoria Harbour on the way to the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, known as one of the best hotels in Asia, for a surprisingly cheap room service dinner and a few hours of shut-eye.
Early the next morning, I took a cab — for $3! — to the Peak Tram, for the famous, tourist-heavy 7-minute ride up an exceptionally steep incline to Victoria Peak as the sun rose over the mountains of Hong Kong Island, revealing the smoggy city below.
After returning from the peak, I spent some time walking around the Central district, oddly devoid of people at that ungodly hour on a Saturday morning. But, no trip would be complete without food, and I hopped in the rapidly-growing line for the scrumptious dim sum at the world’s cheapest Michelin Star restaurant, Tim Ho Wan. I dined on flaky “char siu bao” — incredible BBQ pork buns — and incredibly tasty shrimp dumplings. After paying my $5 tab, I headed off back to the airport.
Immigration went smoothly, and I was able to enjoy a last gratifying bowl of ramen in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse before boarding my flight back to the U.S. aboard a full Airbus A330.
Throughout the trip, I learned that the joys of traveling aren’t just from the sights that you see and the food that you eat but also from the people that you meet. I was fortunate enough to meet many incredible people on my trip around the world, from the cab driver in Hong Kong who told me about her kids in high school who dreamed of attending college in the United States to the hotel shuttle driver in Toronto who reminisced about his family and friends back in Manila when I told him I’d just returned from Asia.
To me, traveling is an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and it’s always a joy meeting new people and trying different cuisines. It’s a wonderful thing being able to pop up on the other side of the world and totally worth a sore behind from sitting in an uncomfortable seat for hours on end.