Copyright © 2017 Thomas Songer

A travel companion is your safety net to a great time. From Hong Kong to Beijing and into the mainland of China, a travel buddy gave me a sense of security not to mention time to take in everything around me. If it wasn’t for my travel buddy, his family and friends I would have been lost on my first tour to China (2015).

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After arriving into the Honk Kong airport I was spell bound to the number of people in transit to their next destination. We immediately headed to the bus station that was hidden in the corner of the airport behind the stairs which led downstairs to a dingy ally way. This was just the beginning of a labyrinth that continued throughout my trip. I never knew where to turn next, relying on my travel companion to motion to me “this way.”

From buses to taxi’s, each driver spoke a different dialect finding it harder to comprehend from one stop to the next. No matter how well I spoke Mandarin or Cantonese it would have been difficult to speak at the level they were speaking. And for those who know “Chinenglish” it is not the same as the real thing. trust me. (Tip #1)

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After settling in for a day, the jet leg started to wear off and swelling in my brain started to subside. I was back to normal – 24 hours later, we begun our trip. We headed to the nearest Starbucks, a place I suggest to gather your thoughts, strength and de-Americanize oneself. (Tip #2) Visit a place that is somewhat similiar to the place you left, it can help ease the tension of space travel.

We left that day on a train and didn’t look back. Thirty days and fourteen places later we ended back to were we started. I can’t tell you how grateful having a travel companion those days meant to me. The only way is by showing you the picture posted on my blog. (below) Everyday and minute was as exciting as the next and not a worry in my mind.

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Grab yourself a travel companion online by striking a up a conversation. (Tip #4) There are also paid group tours or private tour guides (Trip Advisor) that you can pick up for four hundred RMB ($58.00 USD) The tours can get you around any city you want for eight hours. The tour guides speak English very well and most of them have transporation. If not, be prepared to pay their way (food is extra too Tip #5)

The way I met my travel companion was by chance. We met in my home town of Orlando, Florida. After chatting, he invited me to go to the Grand Canyon. It wasn’t until he went back home I decided to take a chance to see him in Shenzhen, China.  It was amazing. His family and friends rolled out the red carpet, literally treated as family.

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So what do I recommend? I recommend treating the next foriegner in your land with grace. Treat the ones you fear with compassion and mindfulness, because one day you might be in their home town eating dinner.