As I am writing this post I am sitting in the YesInn Hostel at Yau Ma Tei in the Kowloon part of Hong Kong.
I would never in a million years thought that I would come travel to China before hitting South America, and moreover I would never in a million years thought that I would like it!!
Well, took me less than 24 hours to fall for this hectic and eclectic place...
I suppose the best trips are the ones where you have the least expectations.
Let me start with a little bit of background, I am here because I will attend a conference next week, and considering that I was coming half way around the world, I couldn't just come for the conference and go, so I decided to come spend the first few days of the new year here,
And why did I think that I wouldn't like it?
Well. First of all, I didn't know anything about it, and the only impressions that I got of the "Chinese" had been from seeing them as tourists in my home cities, Venice and Rome, and well that didn't go quite so well... and I met a few really great people from this part of the world in some meetup groups and in my job, but i just thought they were exception to the rule, and if they were in outdoorsy meetups or were marine biologists, well, that's why they were interesting.
I coulnd't be more wrong.
And this is why I insist that we should be more traveller and less tourists.
As tourists we give out the wrong impressions.
Coming here and trying to act like the locals (of course I don't look the part, but I am good at acting and adapting), I soon learnt how interesting and nice they are! They would go out of their way to show you the right direction, give you free garlic when you only want a clove to cook your dinner, smile and generally act very friendly...
And then I went to some of the touristic sights (yes I wanted to see the 10 thousand Buddhas and the big Buddha atop Lantau island - although I hiked the long way to the latter and took the not so popular bus back), and I saw the disrespect. The taking photos in areas where you clearly shouldn't, eating next to not-eating signs, the endless number of selfie sticks.. I was repulsed. In the same way that I would be repulsed in Venice, or in Rome.
So, if I can add some words of advice: be a traveller and not a tourist. Try to understand the real things and not just tick off the sights of your list, engage with the locals, go to the markets, smile, eat with (and like) them. Accept to not understand it all. Accept to discover and not be in control. Try to understand others so you can accept them and make this world a little more peaceful...
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