ONE MORE TRIP
This past July, I had the chance and opportunity to backpack about Southeast Asia. I have been reluctant and hesitant to share my travel experience and adventure with others — until now.
This is my story. (Part 6 of 7)
I step off the train onto the Tsing Yi (青衣) station platform. It’s late morning. Though it’s not that crowded in the station right now, I could feel many pairs of eyes watching me, judging my appearance and looks. It’s true, I’m not the best looking I could be right now. I have a bulky backpack filled to the brim on my back. My skin is tanned to the point where any tanner would make me an entirely different ethnicity. I have a couple of scratches and scabs on my legs and arms from all the trekking I’ve done in the past month. There’s barely any hair on my head. I wonder if there’s a stench coming from me.
I walk out of the station towards the Maritime Square mall complex while my stomach repeatedly asks for me to fill it up with food. Thankfully my stomach did not have to wait too long. Within the hour, I spot Jodie from afar who I have planned to meet before leaving Hong Kong one last time. We have a hearty lunch at a dim sum place she picked out in the mall. Between bites and chews, I excitedly tell her some of the adventures and misadventures I got myself into over the last month traveling Southeast Asia. To think that I finally have come full circle in my backpacking trip is a mix of bewilderment that I actually did it and a little melancholy that it was over, with a tad bit of relief that I was back in Hong Kong — a city where only after a few days I felt comfortable to be in.
It’s good to be back in the city.
I show my passport to the customs guy behind the counter. He looks at my picture for a few seconds then looks straight at me.
Why does he look so angry?
“What’s your name?”
I have a confused look on my face and I repeat my name to him. He shoots another quick glance at me and pulls out a tiny slip of paper that grants me access to the other side. I swear he just gave me the evil eye.
So much for a friendly welcome.
As I walk through the entrance way, I make out the wording on the slip of paper while carefully keeping ahold of my passport in my hand.
“BOLETIM DE ENTRADA (ARRIVAL CARD)”
I arrive in the city of Macau.
After waking up in the late morning in my hotel back in Hong Kong, I decided to do one more trip to some place new. Knowing Macau is only a simple hour boat ride away, I said to myself why not and got myself ready to spend a day exploring and urban walking a new city.
I spend the rest of the afternoon roaming the streets and putting my camera to good use.
Macau has a beautiful integration of the old and new. The Portuguese and European influence definitely show well in the beautifully done streets and monuments across the main city center. It maintains the playful grit that Hong Kong also has.
I walk through Senado Square, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the crowds filling up the space of the area. To be around this many people again is a little overbearing considering the last few places I was at had less traffic than this.
After spending the whole afternoon in the old parts of the city, I hail down a taxi to go and explore why Macau is also known as the “Vegas of Asia”.
At this point of the night, my phone has less than 10% battery left. By midnight, I found myself on a boat back to Hong Kong.
Spontaneous day trip well spent.
The day has arrived. The day to fly back home. I never thought it would ever come.
I double check everything in my two large suitcases and backpack to make sure I don’t leave anything behind.
All my clothes should be set. Got my laptop, my phone charger, my passport …
I couldn’t believe it was all over. I also couldn’t believe I did what I always wanted to do — solo backpack across part of the world. The proof? Jodie received all four postcards from me from each destination I was at. I was actually quite delighted when I saw the postcards in her hand. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar … I was there.
And now I’m going back home. To see my family. To see my friends.
All of a sudden, I have an urge to just stick around in Hong Kong for one more week.
It can’t all be over, can it? I feel like it’s only just begun. So much to do, so much to see …
I give Jodie one last final hug before boarding the shuttle bus back to the airport. So many thoughts racing in my mind.
I guess this is it.
The sunset draws near as the shuttle bus drives over the bridge towards the direction of the airport. I watch as the trees and buildings go by, slowly fading and molding with the dusk sky. The ride feels like an eternity to me, almost as if it did not want me to complete the journey back. And though some part of me wants to go home and see everyone I love and care deeply about, another part of me wants me to stay for even just a little longer.
Wordless thoughts cloud into my mind as I stare out of the window. I replay scenes from the last month of travel and adventure, certain ones more than others.
These memories, these experiences.
Gradually I arrive back to the start where it all began in Singapore.
The bus continues to endlessly drive.