After a solo backpacking trip through Europe in 2002, Rory caught the travel bug hook line and sinker. But, like many, his dream of world travel got put on hold with the “daily grind” of life. In August 2011, he finally made the decision to got back out there and more than a year and 20+ countries later, his passion to continue is stronger than ever. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Rory in China!
This post was originally published in 2012. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Day 1: Tuesday
7AM – Get an early morning start to Hong Kong from Shenzhen, China to make a mandatory Visa run. Normally this is a two-hour process however today, I needed not just to cross the border but also to get a new China visa issued. First stop…the US Embassy to add pages to my already filled up brand new passport!
9AM – I find myself running down the streets of Hong Kong trying to make my ‘appointment’ to get new pages added and realize how out of shape I am!
9:15AM – I arrive, sweating, out of breath and sufficiently disheveled looking like a wet cat, only to find out the appointment is meaningless. Everyone has to come back to pick up their passport at 3PM no matter what time you turn it in…
11AM – Travel to the China Visa agency only to find out their cut-off time for Visa submissions is 2 o’clock! Since it takes 2 business days to process a China Visa for a US citizen, I now realize I’ll be staying an extra day in Hong Kong making it a 3 day visit. Better make the best of it!
12PM – Visit the Avenue of Stars along the Victoria Harbor. Get my picture taken next to Hong Kong’s statue of famed royal badass Bruce Lee, and compare my hand size to Jackie Chan’s that is set in concrete along the pathway.
2PM – Take the popular Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor on a beautiful sunny day over to Hong Kong Island. Then spend 10 minutes watching the crewmen try to figure out why the walking plank to exit the ferry is sitting 2 feet higher than the dock when we arrive to the island.
4PM – Pick up my passport at the Embassy which now looks like a small book of short stories after having added 52 new pages to it from the mere 26 that were originally in it.
6PM – Walk Hong Kong’s enormous shopping district in Causeway Bay before eventually heading back to my hostel for the night to meet with fellow travelers.
Day 2: Wednesday
9AM – Leave my hostel and head straight to the Visa agency (again) to apply for my China Visa. I’m keeping my fingers crossed as a lot of US Citizens have been turned down in the past 6 months when trying to get a China Visa though I’d have to wait till tomorrow to find out if it’s issued.
11AM – After eating an outstanding slice of pizza the size of India (that you most certainly can’t find in mainland China), I head for Lantau Island which is home to Hong Kong’s ‘Big Buddha’ and I get to pass DisneyLand on the way…
1PM – Climb 240 steps to make it to the top of the Tian Tan Buddha monument (once again realizing how out of shape I am) and take in the amazingly clear view from the top of the mountain with a 360 degree view.
3-6PM – Head back to Causeway Bay and drift around the streets a bit more doing some ‘official’ Hong Kong exploration. I find some very unique foods and some insanely expensive shops selling things nobody needs.
8PM – Spend time catching up on Skype with friends and family back home. Realize I’ve been away from home way too long and don’t keep up with the weekly World News!
Day 3: Thursday
8AM – Early morning wake up call. Check up on my blog, emails, and anything else of interest…
9AM – Head back again to the China Visa Agency; not only do I catch some rain on the way but also Hong Kong’s ‘morning rush hour’ on the metro. After waiting for 3 full metro trains to pass by on the platform, I can finally get on one but I’m squeezed in like a sardine with my head smashed up against the metro doors and breathing just one inch away from the guys neck in front of me. Awesome….
10:30AM – Make it to the Agency a bit early and I’m told I need to wait until 12 to pick up my passport.
11:57AM – Having tried to kill as much time as I could at the local Starbucks with some free WiFi, I return to the agency to be told again to wait thirty more minutes.
12PM – I go eat another slice of delicious pizza…
12:30PM – I amazingly get my passport back and lo and behold, a new China Visa! I can’t believe it. I recently had 3 friends get turned down for one in just the past month but somehow mine made it through. I guess it was my dashing smile on the front page of my passport…
3PM – End the day in Hong Kong and make the 2 hour trek by metro back to mainland China and then call it a night.
Day 4: Friday
8AM – Start the day back in Shenzhen, China by first recapping my recent Hong Kong Visa adventure. This involves going through way too many photos I took while there as well as doing some writing for my next blog post.
11PM – Start planning my next destination leaving from Shenzhen that weekend. I have decided that Nanao Island will be my next destination which is home to many beaches within a few hours of the city.
1PM – Eat lunch in my favorite fried rice diner around the corner. They know me there and also know that I don’t speak but two words of Mandarin: “Chow Fan” which translates to, “I’ll have some delicious fried rice..”
2PM – Go for a much needed haircut next door to my Chow Fan restaurant. Once again, since I don’t speak Chinese, this is an experience. Thankfully I’ve become a master at Charades over the past year. So far, I’ve gotten successful haircuts in Nepal, India, Mongolia, Cambodia and Turkey. OK, The Turkish cut was semi-successful as they used a 4 inch flame to burn off my ear hair. Weird? Yes. Frightening? You could say that…
7PM – Take a walk in the neighborhood where I’m staying and realize why I call this “China Land” after encountering 20 half naked-men sitting around on a dirty side street playing cards, drinking beer, spitting all over themselves and looking at me like I’m the one out of place.
Day 5: Saturday
8AM – Get woken up by the neighboring Kindergarten that is blasting dance music in the alleyway below and realize I should get up anyway as it is time to leave for the Nanao Island.
9AM – Take a bus to the main bus station and try to find another bus that will actually take me to my destination. After waiting for 30 minutes for the original bus I was supposed to take, I talk to 4 different people and am ultimately told to go over the highway overpass to catch an entirely different bus.
10AM – Finally catch the correct bus to Nanao Island. Get dropped off on the North part of town and walk along the water and fishing boats which seem merely for the amusement of the locals.
11:30AM – Get taken by the waitress out of the restaurant I am eating in and walked down the street and shown where to catch the 3rd bus to actually make it to the beach. Since it is a 10 minute walk there and 10 to get back, she either really wants to help out or really hates her job…either way I am both surprised and grateful.
12PM – Arrive at the entryway to XiChong beach only to find I’d need to walk another 1/2 mile to make it to the beach which also includes an entrance fee. No problem I think; this is China: of course you’d have to pay an admission fee to get to the beach!
2PM – Rent a tent, two ocean “floaties” and buy a couple of bottles of Tsingtao (I’m with a friend). I’m finally ready to get this beach day started off right…
4PM – Get stuck in a crazy thunderstorm and witness hundreds of people on the beach dodging lighting that is striking down all along the coastline.
7PM – Eat Barbecue with some fellow travelers and later, get asked to have our picture taken by a group of 20 Chinese. My celebrity status in China is once again restored…
8PM – Get asked by this same group of 20 Chinese if we want to come ‘play’ with them on the beach. This later turns into a game of ‘Russian Red Rover’ and the ‘Chinese version’ of Duck Duck Goose. Needless to say, the next two hours are extremely interesting!
10PM – Return to our tent only to find out it has been moved and is also broken and fluttering in the wind.
10:15PM – Find new tent poles and start to set up the tent in the pitch black of night with no flashlight….
Day 6: Sunday
7:30AM – Get woken up by young screaming Chinese girls that are kicking sand at each other on the beach out in front of my tent.
7:35AM – Upon getting out of my tent, I realize just how close the tide has come in and is only about 3 feet from my tent! I also realize the section of beach off to my right has completely washed out from a nearby river that has connected with the ocean from yesterday’s rain.
8AM – The waves this morning are a bit rough and I sit and watch two Chinese security guards whistle and point to the beach goers that are constantly trying to swim amongst the waves which is apparently against the rules.
9PM – Re-inspect my tent and realize it is broken once again. After taking it down and returning it, I start to collect my things and realize someone stole my umbrella yesterday. Damn…it had made it through 20 countries so far! I think I’ll start a new section on my ‘Stats’ list on my blog for things I’ve lost and had stolen during this trip…this umbrella isn’t the first!
12PM – Laze on the beach till mid day then start the trek back to Shenzhen after getting sufficiently sunburnt.
1PM – Arrive back to the north end of Nanao Island and fight to get onto the bus. Since there is only one bus that goes back to Shenzhen from here, just picture about 65 Chinese people surrounding my friend and I as the bus pulls up with people running, shoving and pushing their way into the door. After having to wait for the 3rd bus to arrive before actually being able to board one, I realize how much I miss my car at home!
Day 7: Monday
Recover from a crazy week and make plans for the next adventure and destination!
Rory is headed to the USA to visit the East Coast as well as Arizona before venturing back to China and onward to Russia. From there, his travels are open-ended; part of the adventure is not always knowing where your next destination will be! Follow along with his adventures or get some travel advice over at Planet and Go or connect on his Facebook Page.