Invigorating. Difficult. Rewarding. Tiring. Transformative.
For these attributes among countless others, travel is essential. Yet, as I have already admitted, I floundered in my first attempt to document my travels. For me, there was something ungracious in endlessly writing (and seemingly bragging) about the places I visited. However, I believe in inspiring people to discover the world, for in doing so, we learn so much about our selves, our purpose, and the many cultures, problems, and opportunities of the world we live in. In this space I will therefore endeavour to share not only the awe-inspiring and magical experiences travel has given me, but also the lessons it has taught, beginning with the impressive might of Hong Kong.
One word sums up my impression of Hong Kong: intense. My mum and I decided to explore one of the most densely populated areas on earth during a layover between the US and Australia; those fifteen hours transformed my perspective of the world. From the airport, we took a train to Kowloon, north of Victoria Harbour. Exiting the underground system, I was assaulted by the city’s dramatic, living theatricality: countless neon signs shouted through a torpid forrest of concrete, glass, and bamboo scaffolding. I have fond memories of the bamboo scaffolding : ) Previously, I had believed it was only a Hollywood action-film prop, but no: it towered unequivocally above the turbulent streets.
The sights, smells, and sounds culminated in an overwhelming ordeal; there were tears. Yet I learned many things in Hong Kong.
One: while I thought I had been decently exposed to travel while growing up, drifting between the US and Australia (and even a handful of the places in between) was barely an introduction to the world.
Two: not everyone speaks English. (This is where the incredulous ‘of course‘ belongs.) I know, it seems self-evident; but asking a question of someone who doesn’t understand you for the first time, followed quickly by the realisation that you are surrounded by millions of others who also may not understand you, is enlightening (if slightly scary).
Following from this, and cultivated by other travel adventures, is a third lesson: the ability to speak English is a gift many people strive for and many others take for granted. Most travellers I meet consider English an essential tool for seeing the world. Appreciate the small things, even the ability to speak your native language.
Four: English may be the universal language, but it isn’t the only one. Learning another language should be mandatory; like travel, it is a path to understanding, accepting, and respecting the world and its many cultures.
And -returning to Hong Kong- five: nothing beats a good meal. After trekking through HK for fifteen intense hours, Mum and I stumbled into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with pictures on the menu that we pointed at to order. The food was simple: rice, steamed veg, and a broth soup; I maintain that it was one of the best meals of my life.
As Vibrant continues to expand, I hope to welcome other friends to contribute their stories, travels, and inspirations to this space. Please continue to read, share, inspire, and be inspired. In light,
Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian; pronounced zjee-veh-lee (the ‘zj’ sound is similar to the French ‘j’ in ‘jour.’) It means ‘cheers.’ Widely proclaimed amongst friends when sitting down to a cup of strong traditional coffee or when starting a night with a glass of similarly strong and traditional rakija.