My Hong Kong Break Down

I’m going to be honest here. Which is kind of scary.

Here is the story…..

Four days before we flew to Hong Kong, Mike fell and severely twisted his ankle.

Two days before we flew to Hong Kong, we took Lan to an Emergency room because of ear pain.  He had ear infections in both ears and the Dr. was worried about the flight.

The night before our flight I was a nervous wreck.  I was worried about my limping husband.  I was worried about my son’s ears.  I thought if we could just get to Hong Kong without anything else going wrong we would be golden.

Excited boys at the airport pre-departure.

The flight was 13 hours.  The kids did totally awesome on it.  They only slept for the last three hours of the flight.  Mike and I did not sleep at all…not for a lack of trying.  The food was disgusting and we sustained ourselves on buns, orange juice, cookies and the contents of our snack back.

When we got to Hong Kong Mike and I were completely wiped out.  We are the type of people who can’t make it till midnight on New Years Eve and by the time we arrived in Hong Kong it was five in the morning back in Canada and we still had to collect our bags, go through immigration, and find our way to the apartment I had rented on AirBnB.

We are small town people and not used to public transport.  We had to switch trains three times to get to our apartment and in our exhaustion we got lost…twice.  The trains were so packed we had to push our way into them. We were packed like sardines….no personal space at all.

When we finally got to our destination I was overwhelmed by the humidity, the stench, and the garbage.  The street our apartment is at seemed sketchy with lots of men loitering and lots of prostitutes.

Our host was no where to be seen.  Ten minutes later he showed up and took us into the apartment building.  It was old.  It was dirty.  Our apartment was teeny, tiny and was not as nice as the pictures I had seen of it.

We all collapsed into bed exhausted but I could not sleep.  I was so full of anxiety.  My mind was racing.  I started to cry.  My sobbing woke Mike up.  I was overwhelmed with everything.  I said “I want to go home.”  I said it twice.  I asked “What if we have made a mistake?”

Being the amazing man that he is, he calmed me down.  He held me and reassured me.  Finally I fell asleep.

Over the next two days I was anxiety ridden.  I cried in the bathroom.  I cried when the kids went to bed.  Hong Kong was overwhelming.  There are so many people!  It is so loud!  I was constantly nauseous.  I was hungry but could not eat.

We got lost again on the subway.  Mike’s ankle was starting to really bother him.  We could not charge our computer because in a gross oversight we had not packed an electricity converter.  I felt disconnected from my friends and family back home.  I needed to Skype with my Mom!

Traveling is not all smiley pictures and sightseeing.  Sometimes it smacks you in the face and beats you down.

The kids and Mike have been awesome through all of this.  They are having a great time.  They got over their jet lag by the second night and think Hong Kong is great.  I am starting to come around too.  Our street doesn’t seem so seedy anymore, the apartment building is starting to charm me, and we are getting around on public transport with ease…we even helped some tourists today who seemed lost.

We are about to settle down for our fourth night here.  I think I am finally over the jet lag and today I was able to actually eat food.  We won’t have the time to do half of the things we wanted to do here.  We only have one and a half more days and we haven’t taken a ferry, seen the skyline, gone up the peak, checked out the things to do in Macau, the Las Vegas of the East, gone to the flower market, or played at Disneyland.

Luckily we will be back here in March for our return flight home.  I’m sure by then I will laugh at how I felt when I first got here.  By then we should all be travel pros.


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4 pings

  1. Geri says:

    I agree, it was not the best way to start off. I hope things settle down and you are able to see more and more of the fun that can be had in just letting go of expectations.
    Hugs and best of wishes from now on.

    1. worldschooled says:

      Thanks Geri. Things are already starting to get better. I think what I really need is a beach!

      1. Geri says:

        Luckily, you are in the right area for that 😉

  2. Living Outside of the Box says:

    Thanks for your honesty. You’re right…travel is not all peachy, all the time! Reality hits, and sometimes it hurts! But like many things in life…it takes plugging through, and it slowly grows on you. Glad you’re doing better, and that everyone survived the flight! My husband and I are total small-town people, and when we get to big cities, it feels like the world is closing in on us! We head to Bangkok (from our current travels in Europe) in November, and I’m hoping I survive that big city!!

    1. worldschooled says:

      I hated Bangkok the first time I was there, couldn’t get out of it fast enough. We ended up going back a few times and loved our time there. Big cities are just totally overwhelming in general I think….at least for me.

  3. buddy and girl says:

    Things always seem worse in the dark and with no sleep. When we first arrived to our old stonehouse in rural France the place stank and was musty. We thought there may be a dead rodent in the place. We even said we can’t stay here as we gagged at the smell. But we went to sleep with all the windows open and woke up feeling better. Turns out the smell is 500 plus years of house. We never shut the windows the entire time we were there!
    This is a lot of change for your family and I think sometimes Mama’s take on more than the rest of the family – worrying, carrying things, giving up food or sleep, holding the family together, mentally taking note of the location of all the stuff etc.
    Hugs to you. You can do this!

  4. Greg says:

    We had a similar experience when we first moved to Chengdu, China. Like you, we did get our feet on the ground after a few days, began to enjoy it. Over the year we did lots of travel and turned out pros. Travel is tricky, especially early, but you’ll be great. We had great fun and are so glad we went.

  5. Jo says:

    Hi fellow Canadians (we’re from Hamilton). Your story sounds alot like our arrival in China two days ago! I had injured my foot a few days earlier in Hawaii in a ‘snorkelling incident’ (cut on reef) and needed stitches so we had to leave for the plane with me hobbling around (and the knowledge that my husband will be removing my stitches next week!). While our plane flight (10 hrs, China Eastern from Bellingham, Washington) and hotel here in Shanghai were ok, we ended up with culture shock from the crowds (mid-Autumn festival) smells, sights etc. Our teens wanted to go home (still do), but we took a tour last night (Untour Shanghai) and felt a little better about street food etc. (rather than shelling out for western food at our hotel). The kids were okay for 2 hrs and didn’t complain and I’m starting to feel like there is hope for the next leg of our journey which starts today (we go to another Chinese city where my husband will work). Thanks for being so honest with your post!

  6. Rebeca says:

    I love that you took the time to write this. It’s so important to be real and to share the hard times. I truly hope things are looking up, and it sounds like they are. We pretty much count on our first night anywhere being horrid. We’re exhausted and I never seem to be able to sleep well that first night. I’m so excited you’re there and happy to follow along.

  7. Tracey - Life Changing Year says:

    Wow Amy. Just Wow! I guess very soon you won’t be small town people any more! It’s so great that you wrote this so others can see that sometimes travel is a little rocky. I’ll be very honest with you too. You may find your first day in a new place is difficult each time you move. We always get lost on the subway and spend too much on taxis and food the first day. After that we’ve worked out the kinks and we are good to go. You may also need to eat some disgusting food occasionally, just to keep your strength up! Once that snack back runs out, you won’t always be able to restock it with familiar items! You are going to have an awesome trip! Keep being brave and trying new things! Can’t wait to hear what comes next!

  8. alyson@world travel family says:

    So sorry to hear that, but it’s only natural on no sleep. I remember my first day of a 3 month stay in India, shouting at my husband ” I hate it here, they’re all animals!” He still reminds me of that, I’m the biggest India lover you’re likely to find and that was my 3rd visit, I was tired, fed up, maybe hormonal and didn’t need to be at a train station in the middle of nowhere after a rooftop bus journey from Nepal. Looking forward to hearing what happens next, go girl!

  9. Renee says:

    Oh, I feel your pain, Amy. Everything you described is natural at the beginning of a journey (as you know), but it’s still awful when you’re actually experiencing it, isn’t it. The jetlag, the confusion, the cultural dissonance. Not knowing how to get around or how much things should cost.

    At this point I pretty much write off the first week in a new country. With lowered expectations, I appreciate what I can but don’t beat myself up over getting lost, overpaying, accidentally eating at touristy restaurants, or feeling out of place. I’ve learned to let go and trust that soon I will be able to find my way, not get taken advantage of, and feel less less out of place. It helps a lot.

    Anyway, hang in there. I can’t wait to read about your adventures!

  10. Tracy says:

    Sounds like a rough first few days. I’ve been there! Not right at the start of our trip because we’d already been to KL with kids on a previous short holiday … but Vietnam and Southern Thailand were both like that for me. Everything was overwhelming and I just didn’t feel like I could get on top of anything. I haven’t been to Hong Kong yet but I can just picture how overwhelming it is.

    Travel days are always hard. It’s never finished when you get off that bus or plane … you’ve got a whole new place to navigate with bags and tired kids. You’ll get into the swing of it soon and figure out who to make the first few days in a new city work for you.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    UGH!! How exhausting!! You know as much as I have flown I still find it boring as hell and very unfun. And it wipes me out for days. That plus getting lost yeah, it would have driven me to my limits! It’s a big city!! So sorry to hear your hubby hurt his ankle!!

  12. Travel with Bender (Erin) says:

    Awww Amy…Hong Kong is amazing, but you are right you came a long way to a busy city. I am so glad your next stop is Penang, where you can just relax and take it all in. You are doing great!

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