Newbie Traveler Mistake in Hong Kong

Sitting on the bus in Hong Kong with free wifi!

I had to renew my visa and went to Hong Kong for a day. It was the first time I visited “the busiest city in the world, ” and it was quite the experience, being a newbie at traveling.

Double Decker Bus With Wifi

After I landed, I decided to take the bus from the airport to the city. At once I was very impressed as the double-decker bus had free wifi! This was many years ago, and it was the first time I had ever experienced a bus with free wifi available to the public. It was perfect for me, just to visiting for a day, and not wanting to purchase a pre-paid SIM card.

Whenever I travel to another country, I usually get a pre-paid SIM card to use while I’m there. These are often available at the airport or at most convenience stores and will cost anything from US$5-20. But that time I did not see a need for it since I would only be in Hong Kong for a day.

Downtown Hongkong

I arrived in downtown Hong Kong and had already figured out the list of places I wanted to see. Getting around in Hong Kong was quite easy, as they had an excellent subway system (the “MTR”). Taking the bus was easy as well, and then there were taxis everywhere. For me, the most enjoyable way of exploring the city was on foot since the downtown area was not that big. I think walking is ideal if you had loads of time and if you don’t mind walking for up to 30 minutes to get somewhere.

Symphony of the Lights in Hong Kong

I arrived late in the afternoon, and since I only had a few hours for sightseeing, I wanted to make sure that I could catch the light show called “Symphony of the Lights” at the famous Victoria Harbour. The show began at 8 PM (daily) and I made my way to Victoria Harbour after some sightseeing downtown. I was glad I made it there on time because the show is only about 15 minutes long. There were lots of people already there with their cameras, and we all stood around and waited, ready to be entertained.

Skyscrapers Lit Up The City

The show started, and half of the skyscrapers in the city lit up. The lights were on the opposite side of the harbor, and they somehow managed to coordinate the lights on probably 30 or so skyscrapers. The show was amazing! A large array of colored lights and laser beams on huge skyscrapers, synchronized to the soundtrack that was played at the location where I stood. It was very impressive how they were able to pull it all together by coordinating among so many different massive buildings.

Locating the Hotel

After the light show, I explored more of the downtown area. At some point, I figured it was time to find my hotel since it had been a long day. I was a newbie at traveling solo, and it was the first time I was in a country where I did not know anyone who could show me around.

I had already booked my accommodation and even had the directions to the place printed out. I was looking forward to some much-needed rest. I began making my way to the hotel, but something was ‘off’ about the directions. I decided to give the hotel a call. I found a cafe and had to buy something to be able to use their wifi and call the hotel using Skype.

Couldn’t Speak English?

I called the hotel and realized they could not speak English. That was a little strange to me, as everyone I had spoken to in Hong Kong until now could speak great English. They managed to get someone who knew English to speak to me on the phone but we were not able to communicate very well. It also did not help that the internet signal was bad and the call was ‘choppy’. I called them again, but my Skype call kept dropping.

Running Out Of Time…

It was getting close to 11PM by then and I didn’t really know what to do. I found a guy standing outside and asked him if he could help me out. He took out his cell phone and dialed the number to the hotel…I just needed the address that I could give to a taxi driver…

The guy then said, “Hey man, this hotel is in China, you’ve booked a hotel room in China.”

What?! Booked a hotel room in China??? Great! I’m in Hong Kong late at night, and I don’t have a place to stay!!!

Every Hotel Was Booked

It was now getting quite late. I called a few hotels I found on the internet but they were all booked. I walked to a few hotels to see if they had any rooms, but they didn’t. At this point, I figured my best bet is just to go back to the airport and spend the night there. I got on one of those fabulous double-decker buses (with free wifi!) and made my way back to the airport.

Night At The Airport

I spent the night at the airport but didn’t sleep much on the chairs. It was freezing in the airport and I didn’t bring a sweater (I didn’t plan on sleeping on two chairs at the airport…!) I ended up waking early in the morning and going to the city.

To Downtown Hongkong Again…

I was back at Victoria Harbour at around 7 AM in the morning and decided to hop onto the boat ride that gave a tour of the harbor. The tour was wonderful, and it gave a great view of Hong Kong that you can really only get from being on the waters. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Tram to The Peak

I was still amazed at how many skyscrapers there were in Hong Kong. It felt like a city with skyscrapers pushed up back-to-back against each other. After the boat ride, I went to The Peak with a beautiful view of Hong Kong. There is a tram that takes you to The Peak, and you can take pictures of the city from there. It’s neat experience to go on with this old tram that takes you up a fairly steep mountain to The Peak.


After going to The Peak, I wanted to go up into one of those skyscrapers. I was told that Sky100 was open to the public, and had a great view of the city. At that time in my life, I had not been in many skyscrapers, therefore it was a fun experience for me.

Avenue of the Stars

The last place I visited was the Avenue of the Stars. It’s a boardwalk with a statue of Bruce Lee among other stars. The weather was great, and I found a cafe nearby to enjoy the sun, before returning to the airport, again…

I’m sure there are many other attractions and things to do in Hong Kong, but that was all I had time for.

Not Always According to Plan

The best advice I can give anyone going overseas is to keep an open mind and know that things don’t always go according to plan (yes, even if you very sensibly booked your hotel accommodations in advance and even printed directions there!). You could end up booking a hotel in another country! (Just saying…)


Know that these things happen, especially if you’re visiting a country where you do not understand the language. Be patient, and know that eventually, you’ll be able to resolve whatever issue you have. And if you’re friendly to others, they are usually friendly to you, and will gladly assist you in getting your issues resolved.

I now understand how I was able to book a hotel room in China. While on the booking website, I sorted hotels by price and this gave me a list of hotels in a large vicinity of Hong Kong. The hotel I booked was physically not too far Hong Kong, but it didn’t really matter when it was across the border! 🙂

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The last 15 years, I have been living in various countries around the world. It's been amazing learning new languages and meeting so many interesting and wonderful people of all kinds of backgrounds. I enjoy writing about these experiences, as well as helping people discover what is in their heart to do.

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