I speak most comfortably in Airport Code…not as well as my flight attendant friend Jill (she is a 3-letter wiz!), but I try…
When I booked my ticket to Taipei where I’m staying with a college friend and his wife and 3 kiddos, I decided to intentionally give myself a 10-hour layover in Hong Kong–because why go one place when you can go two?!
This is becoming my new strategy, actually, and doesn’t involve any bells and whistles, is not more expensive (in fact, it’s usually less since only a maniac would choose a long stop over short or zero), and only requires a little research to make sure one is able to enter the country without any pre-arranged Visa arrangement SNAFUs…in which case, the 10 hours becomes a long zombie-esque layover through the terminal (this can also be fun...). I knew it would be a long day, and as I type this I’m feeling the effects of sleeplessness, but whatevs! As I am wont to obnoxiously say, I don’t have a Jimmy to take to soccer practice tomorrow morning…I can sleep then if I need to.
I made no plans. And this is how I roll when I’m doing the “traveller” side of Nomading–when I’m moving from place to place rather than within a place. The distinction is key and one I look forward to posting (words and pictures) more about as I expand and expound upon this Nomad thang (oh yes I DID!). I am finally sitting on the carpeted floor of Terminal 1 at HKG International–and while I can tell you it’s no PDX carpet, it’s a rival for sure.
After an overnight flight from DEN (Bali), we landed a little after 6 AM, and by the time all the immigration stuff was taken care of, I connected for a minute to the free airport wifi, and I assessed that, as the signs all clearly insisted, it really was the easiest thing to take the 24-minute express train into Hong Kong. I hopped aboard–easy as pie. The craziest part of visiting–if only for 10 hours–a place I once imagined was impossibly far-away in both distance and culture, is that it’s not crazy in the slightest. I suspect this is hugely because the world is becoming smaller, and at least at the airport, all worlds–1st, 3rd, developing, are created somewhat equal. It seems the only remaining “totem” unique to the United States airport is the Cinnabon. (Take that, Inception!)
The fact is I made the right decision to take a small risk and expend a little effort going into my layover city. Especially because now I know I’d visit again! I just walked around–for like, the entire afternoon. When I saw a line for something interesting, I went the other way. When I was hungry, I ate! (I ate a bagel, ok? I’m not making that up…and it was delicious). I took a ferry for less than $5 roundtrip and saw several scenes which reminded me of my beloved NYC. Since it’s the holiday season, I lingered around the jewelry shops and picked out which 32-carat diamond I’d buy for myself if I had 8 zillion dollars to burn. I ate another snack (still not noodles!) and drank some fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (probably from California). It was a great day. And as I sit on the carpet and reflect, my eyes zooming in and out, I could not feel more content with my layover day.