In 2016, while pursuing an MBA, I was presented with the opportunity to travel abroad. The idea was to expose students to different cultures and understand how you do business varies by location. We were presented with a variety of choices: South Africa, Costa Rica, Chile, Italy, and China. Each option had a particular emphasis---for example entrepreneurship in South Africa, tech in China, etc. Most importantly, aside from airfare, each option was also *drumroll* free.
After weighing my options (figuring out where my wife didn't want to go for a future vacation), I decided on China. The trip would include stops in Hong Kong, Macau, and within China proper---Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai.
A few buddies from the program also elected the China trip. We decided to take advantage of what little free summer we had and head over a few days early to explore Hong Kong. I was stoked and immediately started planning. Within a week I had an excel sheet with activities built out to the half hour. We booked our hotel, purchased our plane tickets, and raided the local TJ MAXX for matching Hawaiian shirts.
Before we knew it, we had wrapped up Year 1 of the MBA program and were heading to Houston to catch our flight to Hong Kong. I attempted to get some rest on EVA Air's Hello Kitty plane but my mind was running wild with anticipation.
19ish hours and one quick stop in Taipei later, we had arrived. We grabbed our bags and somehow hailed a taxi. I don't know the weight or passenger limit of these vehicles but I'm certain we broke both. We were all pretty tired, the humidity was outrageous, and the only thing we had to cool us down was a tiny desk fan the driver had positioned on the corner of his dashboard. It had the strength and cooling factor of a toddler blowing out birthday candles.
Nauseous, hungry, and itching to use our selfie stick, we finally made it to Kowloon. We checked in to what may have been the cheapest hotel in all of Kowloon, dropped off our bags, and hit the streets.
Over the next few days, we explored a fraction of what Hong Kong had to offer.
There was an epic trek to Victoria Peak. As the sun disappeared, electrical lights on an endless sea of skyscrapers appeared.
Another day, as rain attempted to foil our visit to Tian Tan Buddha (AKA Big Buddha), we hopped on a bus and winded our way up to Ngong Ping. A thick fog covered the mountain. Visitors were few and far between. We climbed the 268 steps up to the Buddha and dined on some interesting vegetarian options at Po Lin Monastery.
By way of Uber and a transfer to a local cabbie, we ventured to the outer territories to Sai Wan Pavilion. We began our hike in search of Sheung Luk Stream. After miles of beautiful beaches and trails, we arrived at a picturesque waterfall. We had it all to ourselves initially but with time, others arrived--- including a Buddhist monk who free climbed the face of the waterfall.
But the reality is we didn't even need to leave the city in our search for adventure. At every corner there was something new, something impressively different than anything we had seen before.
You could see a new world on a single street. Each vendor, each passerby a new story. Every sight and smell, a new universe.
In Hong Kong, adventure is infinite.