After a stressful junior year of High School, nothing could describe how happy I felt when the airplane lifted off the ground of Chicago. I had been anticipating this trip for months, waiting to finally get away and have some adventure in the beautiful city of Hong Kong. I thought about family reunions and the amazing time my mom and I would have once we landed in Hong Kong. It had been 10 years since I traveled on a plane to Asia, so I forgot the grueling 16 hours I had to sit through in a cramped seat with a reclined chair in my face until our destination.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The wait was definitely worth it though, for Hong Kong’s humid air, twinkling lights, and crowded buildings welcomed us. I felt a bit anxious when I first set foot on the foreign land because I didn’t know if my broken Cantonese would survive my first meeting of relatives, but my worry was put to rest when I realized that speaking wasn’t the only way my grandma and I could exchange our excitement and joy of seeing each other after so long.
My mom and I stayed at my aunt’s unoccupied apartment building close to my grandma’s apartment in Tai Po, and even though it was small, it had just the right amount of space and necessities that made it feel like home. What I loved the most about the location of where we were staying was that the whole area was full of life with shopping malls and restaurants all around us and with the streets and sidewalks always filled with people.
Every morning, my mom and I would walk a few blocks to a bus stop where students in clean white uniforms, business men and women in sharp suits, and elders with large straw hats stood under the same shaded bus lane in the humid heat. I scanned my bus card on the scanner and made my way to the stairs of the bus. The bus jolted forward and I quickly tightened my grip on the yellow handlebars as I made my way upstairs. Since the front seats were unoccupied, I happily settled myself behind the wide windows. Seeing Hong Kong at such a high angle and at such a fast pace made me feel as though I was flying. The view of the dull but colorful buildings and passing strangers in the city were breathtaking. As I looked around me, I saw people preoccupied with their smart phones, uninterested in the scenery they saw a million times before. I sat, thinking how lucky these people were to have so many things going around them and so many opportunities to experience new things. Then, I realized that if they were in America, they would feel the same way about us.
When I came back to America after a month of bliss in Hong Kong, I began to realize and feel grateful for the things I have at home. Every place has its own unique quality that makes it wonderful and exciting to others, and in realizing those qualities-no matter how small- you begin to feel grateful for them. Similar to the people I saw on the bus in Hong Kong, I overlooked the things surrounding me and took them for granted because I saw them a million times. It made me become more opened to a different culture and appreciate traveling.
Though I’m very grateful for the perfect trip in Hong Kong with the joyful memories I’ll keep forever, especially the view from the second level of the double decker bus.
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