The thought of spending Christmas away from home and alone was quite daunting. But, wanting to take advantage of living in Asia, I decided to take a two-week holiday through Hong Kong and South Korea instead of making the trip back home. And I would not change anything for the world.
Within five minutes of being in my hostel in Hong Kong, I met my new partner in crime. We hit it off, both English teachers in Japan, both travelling through Hong Kong, both flying to Seoul on the 28th, and both spending our first Christmas away from home in Hong Kong.
We had no idea what Christmas would have in store for us, and were both a little anxious about how it might feel being away from home. But with the help of our ‘hostel family’ and living up to our motto of ‘eat, drink and be merry‘, we had an unforgettable Christmas.
Christmas Eve started with a stop off at a church, watching those who filled the yard outside the church, singing the traditional Christmas hymns. It was quite magical to watch the families bonding together inside the hedge wall covered in fairy lights singing in unison.
Next stop was to meet up with the other travellers at our hostel, Rainbow Lodge Hong Kong. Every one of us was travelling alone and had no plans for Christmas. And so, we all took advantage of the hostel organised Christmas Eve event with pizza and wine, before Sam from the hostel took us out to the busy Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), a popular drunken tourist destination, for a spectacular sight. The roads were gridlocked with foot traffic, it was hard to weave in an out, making our way to find a convenience store for some street beers. As Christmas started to roll in, the crowd started a count down to Christmas, letting off a bunch of helium balloons when midnight struck…something that I have not seen before! The rest of the night was spent partying in our hideous Christmas jumpers, enjoying bringing in Christmas day and partying with everyone in the clubs and on the street.
On Christmas day, after a quick FaceTime call home and a delicious Christmas breakfast full of croissants, cheese, cold meats, cheese scrolls and so on from Marks and Spencer, we headed off to Central Hong Kong. We had no real plans except to explore the city and find somewhere to have our Christmas lunch, once again filling our Christmas motto. We wandered the streets through the popular statue square, looked at some of the Christmas displays in the shopping centres, observed the Filipino Christmas picnic celebrations on the street and then caught a tram to the end of the line to see some of the rest of the city without having to walk so far.
Christmas lunch followed the tram ride back to the city centre at a fancy Italian restaurant, which definitely blew our travel budget for the day, but after all, it was Christmas! We dined and drank until we couldn’t fit any more in, leaving us ready for a nap before our evening adventures.
The evening was spent bar hopping through the main parts of Hong Kong, and started at the bar on the top floor of The Peninsula overlooking Hong Kong Bay sipping wine and enjoying the company of one local and his brother. It was such a nice way to be spending Christmas night. We made our way through several bars and then ended up in LKF… again.
Although it was hard being away from my family for Christmas, it was so nice to see that regardless of where you are in the world, Christmas brings people together and you will never truly be alone.
Highlights of my first Christmas abroad:
- I fulfilled my dream of wearing an ugly Christmas sweater (jumper), something which is quite hard to do when you live through the hot Christmas of Australia.
- We ate ourselves silly in cheese, cold meats and croissants from Marks and Spencer, something we miss in Japan.
- We blew our budget and splurged on a special Christmas Italian feast…delicious!
- We had drinks at the top floor bar of The Peninsula with two locals over looking Hong Kong Bay.