Revisit the places that make you happy

I’m really not sure if there is a saying talking about how you shouldn’t go back to places where you’ve been happy, but we don’t believe in that. If you love a place, go back! Go back as many times as you want. We at the Team are all for visiting new places, but we also think that you should have places in your travel rotation that are “a safe bet” and where you’ll have a good time no matter what.

For this Christmas break, we decided to start and finish at our favorite city in the world: Hong Kong.

(New York is a pretty close second after our Spring Break, but Hong Kong remains our favorite).

The main reason, after the Istanbul debacle, why we decided to hop around Asia for this break is because this is probably the closest we’ve been to repatriating in the 5 years we’ve been in Asia. We are still going to a job fair, but our search is much more restricted this time around so if that doesn’t pan out, we will return to the US for a few years so I can finalize my US citizenship requirements. (If you work in an awesome school district that could use two teachers – both Spanish speakers! – with Masters degrees, please let us know! Don’t be shy!)

We hadn’t been in Hong Kong for a whole year and a half (SHOCKER! Haha) so we were excited about possibly returning for a few days. We decided to use HK as a hub of sorts for the rest of our travels, which would include Siem Reap, Cambodia (encore for Cameron, a first for me), and Singapore (a new one for both of us), with a return to HK at the end. We outlined our trip as follows:

First order of business: Find cheap tickets. We flew three low-cost airlines (HK Express, Jetstar, and Scoot – none of which we had flown before). In the end, we managed to get all our plane tickets for the whole time for around US$300 per person. At the last minute, we paid for extra luggage on two flights – about $20 per person per flight, so $80, definitely one of the ways in which low-cost airlines make their money. Thanks to some rewards points in one of my credit cards, I was able to get a travel credit for $40, which helped with the cost. Lesson learned, though – one of my resolutions for this year is to get better at traveling light and REALLY only pack what I need. I’ve gotten worse at overpacking with time, and there’s really no need.

Dec. 17-20 – Hong Kong. We flew out of Jeju (thank goodness for no Seoul business!) on Hong Kong Express. Their schedule out of Jeju is not ideal (departures are very early Thursdays and Sundays), but it would get us to Hong Kong early on the Sunday we left and have pretty much the whole day. We booked an Airbnb in Sheung Wan – a pretty nice 2 bedroom!

Dec. 20 – 24 – Siem Reap. One way ticket on HK Express. We found a great small hotel pretty close to the Angkor Temples (which was the main reason why we were going to Cambodia). We got a 3-day pass to the temples, which gave us plenty of time.

Dec. 24-28 – Singapore. One way ticket on Jetstar – We got a nice Christmas Lunch and mainly just kind of took it slow.

Dec. 28 – 31 – Back to Hong Kong. One way ticket on Scoot – nice new Dreamliner, my favorite of all the airlines we flew – This time we went back to our old stomping grounds in Causeway Bay (also an Airbnb).

Couple of highlights of our first few days in Hong Kong:

  1. Ran into the Byrne family (colleagues from Shanghai) and spent a lovely afternoon with them chasing Christmas decorations in Kowloon, and catching the harbor light show. Saw some new parts of Kowloon we hadn’t seen, which is always nice!
  2. During that light show, we saw the junk boats with the red sails you see in the pictures! We’ve been on a junk boat before, but we had never seen one with the red sails. It’s exciting to see things from pictures and postcards.

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