Bliss in a Hotel

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, HONG KONG (SAR) – I had only been to Hong Kong once before and was not expecting to go this particular week. It was late September, just after we had finished all the things required of us for the new semester, but work never became less stressful. There was always something coming up, always something to prepare for. Always a reason to be around.

“Come to Hong Kong with me,” my friend said, and I thought of excuses I could give work for missing a day or two. My visa. Of course, my visa – we were constantly needing to hop the border and renew our Chinese visas in Hong Kong. I told them mine was about to expire, and that I had to miss a few days to take care of it. They accepted this without question.

“Bring your camera,” my friend said with a knowing smile. Of course I’ll bring my camera, I thought. I didn’t know what we would do there – how we would spend our days, where we would stay – but they seemed to have everything figured out, and I was easy to please. I loved Hong Kong.

“We’ll stay at my favorite hotel in the city,” they said. I thought nothing of this, and had no expectations. After crossing a number of borders and passport checks, we rode the MTR down to Hung Hom and jumped into a taxi. We arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel within moments, Hong Kong as compact as it is.

I felt underdressed, underemployed, not even a quarter as sophisticated as I should have been to walk into a place so polished. We sped through check-in at reception and before I knew it, I was in my room – golden, honey-cream colored walls, a fantastically plush bed, a jacuzzi bathtub in the middle of the bathroom, almost as big as the bed itself. None of it compared to the windows.

They took up essentially the entirety of the walls on one side of the room. Smooth panels of glass framed by two layers of curtains, one for decoration and one to black out the light – for there were lights aplenty. Outside our windows was a million-dollar view: the skyline of Hong Kong Island as seen from the edge of Kowloon. We were nestled right on the harbor (I could look down from my window and see the Avenue of Stars, and the water) with nothing to obstruct our view. The city was lit up, skyscrapers and signs, boats in the harbor, properties on the mountain, everyone showing off at night.

I kneeled on the ground next to the bed, pressed my lens against the glass, and took this picture.

I watched the Symphony of Lights curled up in bed. I woke up, opening my eyes and feeling awed as I saw this view once more. I went for breakfast and had the best chicken congee of my life. I took a swim in the rooftop pool, admiring the skyline from there. I headed back to my room and splashed around in the jacuzzi tub. I sat by the window and wrote in my notebook. I gazed out at the skyline.

Hong Kong was waiting, but I didn’t want to leave the room. I didn’t want to leave the view.

Intercontinental HK

Click on the image for a larger size

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge topic: The Hue of You.

I chose this image to represent the “hue” of me for two reasons. You more observant types might notice that there are, in fact, many different hues in this image – an endless variety. I think this is entirely fitting for me. Though I began my life with one single “hue” in mind, one single drive and purpose that I believed for myself, these past five years have changed me. Living in China and traveling in Asia changed me. Living in Turkey and traveling in the Middle East changed me. Living in Italy and returning to her time and time again like an addict – well, need I say it? It changed me.

The world has opened itself up to me as I have opened myself up to the world, and I discovered more than I ever could have dreamed existed. That’s the wonderful thing about travel, about leaving your comfort zone, about trying new things in new places. You might think you know what you want… but then you find out that there is something more, perhaps even something better. So many things that are incredible, fascinating, worth the while.

I never gave Asia a second thought until I lived there. I never gave the Middle East much thought until I lived in Asia and was immersed in various groups of Middle Easterners. I loved them. Italy was Italy to me, it was Europe, until I lived there and found myself surrounded by Latin Americans, Chinese, Africans, all with their unique cultures thriving in a foreign land. Tunisia was a slap in the face. Indonesia was like heaven.

I became enchanted with every part of the world, and everything I had been so ignorant about. I want to learn it all, and experience it all. Instead of having one idea of what I want to do with my life, I now have a hundred. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes – I feel like I am pulled in every direction, stretched and stressed and unsure – but it’s so exciting. The world holds endless possibilities for me, endless colors. Endless hues. It’s just waiting for me to immerse myself in them again.

I am anxious to do it.

The other reason I chose this is that, from what I see, pink seems to be the strongest color in the photo, and pinkish hues make me think of China. To me, the color of China is pink.

For the first two years of my life in China, I lived in a garden called Mei Lin. Every sort of tropical tree imaginable made up a jungle in the complex, out of which sprouted dozens of apartment buildings. There were stone paths leading through the lush greens, plants nestling close to you as you made your way down. Every winter, a certain type of tree would blossom with pink flowers, and one would find random bursts of pink littered throughout the gardens – overhead in the trees and underfoot as the petals fell. At night, the light reddy-tan colored buildings would seem soft in the lamplight. The light pollution on the ever-constant clouds created a warm, dark, creamy night sky. Everything would be reflected in the pebbly ponds scattered throughout the complex. The pink tied everything together. It made it enchanting, and so calming.

I have never felt so peaceful anywhere, at any time in my life, than I did while strolling through the gardens of Mei Lin at night, dim lamps and pink flowers and traditional Chinese songs floating around me. I can still hear the songs, see the blossoms, feel the tropical warmth.

That little part of the world – that little part of Tianhe, of Guangzhou, of China – has had a greater impact on me than any other I can name.

I find contentment in pink.

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